10 Errors, Distortions, And Falsehoods In David Horowitz's The New Leviathan

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin's book The New Leviathan promises "thoroughly researched and amply documented" evidence proving how progressive foundations and organizations are destroying America's future. In reality, Horowitz and Laksin only add more proof that conservative smear artists traffic in lazy falsehoods and easily disproved assertions. Here are ten of them.

Leviathan Falsely Claims Defunct Organization ACORN "Today Runs" Obama Training Programs

Leviathan Falsely Claims DNC Official Gaspard Worked For ACORN

Leviathan Botches Basic Research On Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth

Leviathan Attacks Environmental Education Non-Profit That Was Honored By Bush-Era EPA

Leviathan's Dubious Claim About Annenberg Grant

Leviathan Pretends Obama Didn't Focus On Economy In First Presidential Address To Congress

Leviathan Promotes False Andy Stern Story, Repeatedly Contradicts Itself

Leviathan Relies On Widely Discredited Spanish Study To Attack Environmental Groups

Leviathan Uses False Comparison Of Federal Employees To Private Sector Employees

Leviathan Attacks Muslim Scholar For "Involvement With Terrorist Organizations"

Leviathan Falsely Claims Defunct Organization ACORN "Today Runs" Obama Training Programs

Horowitz And Laksin: "ACORN Today Runs A Training Program Called Camp Obama."

Memorializing its special relationship with Obama, ACORN today runs a training program called Camp Obama. In the camp, aspiring community organizers are trained in the tactics that Obama learned before them. Another program, Obama Organizing Fellows, is designed to train would-be activists in how to "organize in a community, working in conjunction with grassroots leaders and campaign staff." In addition to getting an introduction to community organizing techniques, trainees learn how to incorporate them into successful political campaigns. [David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin, The New Leviathan: How the Left-Wing Money Machine Shapes American Politics and Threatens America's Future, p. 39]

ACORN Does Not Exist "Today." As Horowitz and Laksin themselves note on the page immediately preceding their claim about Camp Obama, ACORN no longer exists.

Its well-merited reputation for corruption had garnered ACORN so much bad publicity by the summer of 2010 that the organization was moved to change its tarnished name to Community Organizations International. [David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin, The New Leviathan, p. 38]

Camp Obama Was Reportedly Run By The Obama Campaign, Not ACORN Or Community Organizations International. Numerous news organizations covered "Camp Obama" and noted it was run by the Obama campaign during the 2008 elections. [Associated Press, 6/2/07; NPR.org, 6/13/07; Chicago Sun-Times, 5/3/07]

Obama Organizing Fellows Is Run By Obama Campaign And The Democratic Party, Not ACORN Or Community Organizations International. From the Obama campaign's website:

Obama Organizing Fellows are a key part of building that people power in our communities and campuses across the nation. The Obama Organizing Fellowship is a 12-week, volunteer program which will take place in the summer and fall of 2012.

[...]

Applications and resumes for the Organizing Fellowship program may be shared between Obama for America and Organizing for America. Applicants for the position may be interviewed and accepted by either Obama for America or Organizing for America. Organizing for America is a project of the Democratic Party in the state in which the Organizing Fellow may be serve. [BarackObama.com, accessed on 6/8/12]

Leviathan Falsely Claims DNC Official Gaspard Worked For ACORN

Horowitz And Laksin: Patrick Gaspard Is The "Onetime Political Director For ACORN's New York Office."

Patrick Gaspard, onetime political director for ACORN's New York office and onetime SEIU national political director, left the latter position to become the mational [sic] political director of Obama's presidential campaign. After the 2008 election he was appointed director of the Office of Political Affairs in the White House, a position he left in 2011 to prepare for Obama's reelection bid as executive director of the Democratic National Committee. [David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin, The New Leviathan, p. 161]

Gaspard "Was Never On The Staff Of ACORN." A September 2009 PolitiFact article found that the claim that Gaspard worked for ACORN is "false" and quoted people involved with ACORN who stated that he "never worked for us"; "There is NO accuracy to the fact that Patrick Gaspard ever worked for ACORN"; and "Patrick was never on the staff of ACORN." [PolitiFact, 9/30/09]

Politico: Report That Gaspard Worked For ACORN "Just Isn't True." [Politico, 9/29/09]

Leviathan Botches Basic Research On Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth

Horowitz And Laksin: "In 1996, He Produced And Starred In The Documentary Film Called An Inconvenient Truth" During "His Second Term In The White House." While attempting to demonstrate that former Vice President Al Gore produces shoddy research, Horowitz and Laksin write:

By his second term in the White House, Gore had established himself as the Paul Revere of the cause. In 1996, he produced and starred in a documentary film called An Inconvenient Truth. [David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin, The New Leviathan, p. 149]

An Inconvenient Truth Was Released In 2006, Not During Gore's "Second Term In The White House." [IMDb.com, accessed on 6/11/12]

Horowitz And Laksin: An Inconvenient Truth "Was Barred From Public Schools In Britain."

The film was also made into an opera performed at La Scala. Not surprisingly, An Inconvenient Truth became a staple of every progressively run classroom in America, despite the fact that it was filled with distortions and untenable claims, so much so that it was barred from public schools in Britain for that reason. [David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin, The New Leviathan, p. 149]

No Evidence An Inconvenient Truth Is Barred From Britain. The book's citation -- scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/press_releases/ -- contains no support for the claim that Gore's film has been banned in British schools. The page does contain a reference to a British judge's ruling on Gore's film. In his October 10, 2007, ruling, High Court Judge Michael Burton stated that while he had identified nine "errors and omissions" in the film, it is "substantially founded upon scientific research and fact." The judge also said he had "no doubt" that the defendant's expert was "right when he says that: 'Al Gore's presentation of the causes and likely effects of climate change in the film was broadly accurate.'" [Media Matters, 11/20/09]

New York Times Headline: "British Judge Rejects Ban on Al Gore Film." [New York Times, 10/11/07]

Leviathan Attacks Environmental Education Non-Profit That Was Honored By Bush-Era EPA

Horowitz And Laksin Attack Earth Force, Inc. In their chapter criticizing the Heinz Foundation for supposedly advancing radical environmental causes, the authors take issue with a grant made to an unnamed non-profit:

Heinz funds have also been used to sponsor activism in public schools. The foundation gave $140,000 to an organization that trains Pittsburgh schoolchildren to engage in "policy advocacy" on environmental issues. [David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin, The New Leviathan, p. 48]

Based on their citation, the authors are referencing a 2007 grant to Earth Force, Inc. [FrontPageMagazine.com, 3/27/09]

Earth Force Inc. Was Awarded Grants And Singled Out For Recognition By EPA During Bush Administration. [EPA.gov, 7/15/03; 7/29/03; 1/15/04; 1/4/05]

Leviathan's Dubious Claim About Annenberg Grant

Horowitz And Laksin Suggest That Annenberg Challenge Grant Went To Teach Spanish, Not English.

Yet the "education" grants that the Challenge handed out often had more to do with political activism -- and especially a politically infused multiculturalism -- than with education reform.

For instance, the Challenge sank $650,000 into an initiative called the New Schools Multicultural Network. As part of the project, students in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood on Chicago's Southwest Side received help in, of all things, Spanish language proficiency. For Hispanic students to receive instruction in a language many of them already spoke, rather than in the English language that might help them succeed academically, was a typical example of multicultural political correctness. [David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin, The New Leviathan, p. 30]

Grant Was Reportedly "To Improve Student Literacy In Spanish And English And To Train Both Parents And Teachers In Their Respective Second Languages." Horowitz and Laksin fail to make a citation for their claim about the $650,000 Annenberg Challenge grant. Catalyst Chicago, an independent newspaper covering Chicago public schools, reported:

$650,000 to the New Schools Multicultural Network for support of its programs at predominantly Latino schools to improve student literacy in Spanish and English and to train both parents and teachers in their respective second languages. The network includes Lara, Little Village and Ortiz de Dominguez elementary schools and the Illinois Resource Center. [Catalyst Chicago, February 1998]

Leviathan Pretends Obama Didn't Focus On Economy In First Presidential Address To Congress

Horowitz And Laksin Suggest Obama Wasn't Focused On Economy. In their chapter claiming progressive organizations are trying to implement "socialism by stealth," the authors write:

By almost any measure, the economy should have been first and foremost on the incoming administration's agenda.

Yet it was not. In February 2009, just a month after the Pew poll was released, Obama gave his first address to Congress and declared that his focus would be on ... health care. Even as the country was urging the president to focus on the nation's ailing economy, Obama declared that "we can no longer afford to put healthcare reform on hold." [ellipses in original] [David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin, The New Leviathan, p. 109]

Obama Discussed The Economy At The Beginning Of His Address. While Obama certainly emphasized health care reform, he did not shy away from focusing on the economy. From the text of his first address to Congress:

Madame speaker, Mr. vice president, members of Congress, and the first lady of the United States:

I've come here tonight not only to address the distinguished men and women in this great chamber, but to speak frankly and directly to the men and women who sent us here. I know that for many Americans watching right now, the state of our economy is a concern that rises above all others. And rightly so. If you haven't been personally affected by this recession, you probably know someone who has -- a friend; a neighbor; a member of your family.

You don't need to hear another list of statistics to know that our economy is in crisis, because you live it every day. It's the worry you wake up with and the source of sleepless nights. It's the job you thought you'd retire from but now have lost; the business you built your dreams upon that's now hanging by a thread; the college acceptance letter your child had to put back in the envelope. The impact of this recession is real, and it is everywhere.

But while our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken; though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this: We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before. [LATimes.com, 2/24/09]

Obama Repeatedly Noted Health Care Is Vital To Economic Recovery. A few examples from the text of his first address to Congress:

Now is the time to jump-start job creation, restart lending, and invest in areas like energy, healthcare, and education that will grow our economy, even as we make hard choices to bring our deficit down.

[...]

We are a nation that has seen promise amid peril, and claimed opportunity from ordeal. Now we must be that nation again. That is why, even as it cuts back on the programs we don't need, the budget I submit will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future: energy, healthcare, and education. [LATimes.com, 2/24/09]

Leviathan's Obama Quote Was Preceded By Obama Linking Health Care Costs And The Economy. From Obama's address [quote the authors used is in bold]:

As for our auto industry, everyone recognizes that years of bad decision-making and a global recession have pushed our automakers to the brink. We should not, and will not, protect them from their own bad practices. But we are committed to the goal of a retooled, reimagined auto industry that can compete and win. Millions of jobs depend on it. Scores of communities depend on it. And I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it. None of this will come without cost, nor will it be easy. But this is America. We don't do what's easy. We do what is necessary to move this country forward.

For that same reason, we must also address the crushing cost of healthcare.

This is a cost that now causes a bankruptcy in America every 30 seconds. By the end of the year, it could cause 1.5 million Americans to lose their homes. In the last eight years, premiums have grown four times faster than wages. And in each of these years, 1 million more Americans have lost their health insurance. It is one of the major reasons why small businesses close their doors and corporations ship jobs overseas. And it's one of the largest and fastest-growing parts of our budget.

Given these facts, we can no longer afford to put healthcare reform on hold. [LATimes.com, 2/24/09]

Leviathan Promotes False Andy Stern Story, Repeatedly Contradicts Itself

Horowitz And Laksin: Stern "Most Frequent Visitor To White House." Horowitz and Laksin confusingly contradict themselves about whether or not former Service Employees International Union (SEIU) president Andy Stern was the most frequent visitor to the White House in 2009. The authors at first write that Stern was "surpassed by" someone else, and then later write that he in fact was "its most frequent visitor":

During Obama's first six months in office, Stern was the most frequent visitor to the White House and was surpassed by the end of the year only by Anna Burger, known as the "Queen of Labor." Burger was the SEIU's secretary treasurer.

[...]

Stern directed an $85 million SEIU campaign to elect Obama in 2008 and once in the White House, Obama reciprocated by giving Stern unprecedented access. In Obama's first year in office, Stern visited the White House twenty-two times, making him its most frequent visitor. [David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin, The New Leviathan, p. 122; p. 161]

PolitiFact: "False" To Say Andy Stern Is The White House's Most Frequent Visitor. In a December 7, 2009, post, PolitiFact reported:

We found the source of Beck's claim. When the White House released its first batch of visitor logs on Oct. 30, 2009, as part of a pledge to bring more transparency to the White House, Stern's name did indeed appear 22 times, more than anyone else listed, including Clinton, who was listed three times.

But that's not the whole story.

Stern led the pack for the first data release, which covered visits from Jan. 20, 2009 to July 31, 2009. But he was surpassed by several other individuals in the second release, which updates the data through Aug. 31, 2009 (and which was made public more than a week before Beck aired his comment).

Among those who visited more frequently than Stern, according to the combination of the two logs, were Lewis (Lee) Sachs, counselor to Treasury Secetary [sic] Timothy Geithner, with 92 visits; associate attorney general Tom Perrelli, with 49; Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski with 47; Spencer Overton, principal deputy assistant attorney general, with 38; and Health and Human Services office of health reform director Jeanne Lambrew, with 27. (Stern visited twice more during the period covered by the second batch of data, giving him a total of 24 visits.) [PolitiFact, [12/7/09]

Horowitz And Laksin: In 2008, SEIU Directed "$60.7 Million ... $85 Million" To Obama. In keeping with the book's inconsistent and shoddy research, the authors use varying numbers for the amount that SEIU spent to support Barack Obama in 2008. The authors start by stating that SEIU spent $85 million to support Democratic candidates, including $60 million for Obama -- then shift to claiming that SEIU spent the entire $85 million on Obama.

  • "The SEIU alone spent $85 million during the 2008 election to support Democratic candidates, including $60.7 million earmarked for Obama. (Said SEIU president Andy Stern, 'We spent a fortune to elect Barack Obama -- $60.7 million to be exact -- and we're proud of it.')" [p. 15]
  • "The SEIU spent nearly $60 million and provided some hundred thousand supports to aid Obama's presidential campaign and even funded ACORN's voter registration drives." [p. 26]
  • "In 2009, Andrew Stern justifiably boasted that the union's $60 million investment in Barack Obama's election had paid off." [p. 122]
  • "Stern directed an $85 million SEIU campaign to elect Obama in 2008, and once in the White House, Obama reciprocated by giving Stern unprecedented access." [p. 161]
  • "The SEUI reported spending over $85 million to support Barack Obama in the 2008 elections, a figure that did not include the equivalent cost of tens of thousands of campaign worker 'volunteers' it provided to his campaign." [p. 168]

Leviathan Relies On Widely Discredited Spanish Study To Attack Environmental Groups

Horowitz And Laksin Cite Spanish Study On Green Jobs.

In favoring green industries, government diverts labor, capital, and materials from economically efficient and productive industries. The experience of European countries with green jobs is instructive. Spain's subsidies of renewable energy have led to the destruction of two private-sector jobs for every "green job" the government creates. [David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin, The New Leviathan, p. 142]

The Spanish Study Has Deep Flaws. The Spanish study was conducted by Dr. Gabriel Calzada of Spain's Universidad Rey Juan Carlos. It was commissioned by the industry-funded Institute for Energy Research and has been widely discredited due to its suspect methodology and unsupported conclusions. [Media Matters, 9/1/11]

Leviathan Uses False Comparison Of Federal Employees To Private Sector Employees

Horowitz And Laksin: "Federal Employees Now Receive An Average Of $123,049 Annually In Pay And Benefits -- Twice The Average Of Workers In The Private Sector."

In the 1960s and 1970s, government employees were offered generous pensions in exchange for accepting salaries that were at significantly lower historical levels than what they could earn for comparable work in the private sector. But while that disparity in earnings has long since disappeared, the benefits packages have continued to increase. As a consequence, federal employees now receive an average of $123,049 annually in pay and benefits -- twice the average of workers in the private sector. [David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin, The New Leviathan, pp. 164-165]

Horowitz and Laksin sourced their figure to a USA Today analysis from August 2010.

PolitiFact: Simply Comparing Federal Employees' Compensation With Private Sector Compensation "Is Not An Apples-To-Apples Comparison." From a February 3, 2010, PolitiFact article rebutting the claim that "federal employees are making twice as much as their private counterparts":

[I]t's important to understand that a big reason for the disparity is the different mix of jobs in the federal work force. It has more higher-paying white-collar jobs, experts told us, while there are more lower-paying, blue-collar jobs in the private sector that bring the average down. So it is not an apples-to-apples comparison. [PolitiFact, 2/3/10]

USA Today Article Acknowledged That Its "Analysis Did Not Consider Differences In Experience And Education." The USA Today analysis compared the average pay and compensation for all federal employees to that of all private employees. The analysis did not attempt to determine if a private sector worker earns more or less than a federal worker with a similar job. USA Today noted that its analysis of private and federal pay "did not consider differences in experience and education":

The average federal salary has grown 33% faster than inflation since 2000. USA TODAY reported in March that the federal government pays an average of 20% more than private firms for comparable occupations. The analysis did not consider differences in experience and education. [USA Today, 8/13/10]

Bureau of Economic Analysis: "Skill Levels And Educational Attainment Tend To Be Higher" For Federal Workers. A PolitiFact Georgia article on federal pay reported that the BEA -- the source for USA Today's data -- said that the numbers used by USA Today "do not tell the complete story," in part because in recent years, "the federal government is hiring more highly skilled workers who tend to make more money." From PolitiFact Georgia:

The BEA notes that its private-sector data includes employees of all professions. That means everything from minimum-wage jobs to the salaries of chief executive officers. Federal employees typically work in professional occupations that pay more, such as accountants, attorneys and economists, according to Congressional Budget Office research.

The BEA also noted in recent years that the federal government is hiring more highly skilled workers who tend to make more money. Many of the lower-paid positions, the BEA found, have been contracted out to the private sector. [PolitiFact Georgia, 8/18/10]

Leviathan Attacks Muslim Scholar For "Involvement With Terrorist Organizations"

Horowitz And Laksin: Muslim Scholar Tariq Ramadan "Banned At The Time From Entering The United States Because Of His Involvement With Terrorist Organizations."

Joan Kroc later established an Institute for International Peace Studies in her name at the University of Notre Dame, which sparked controversy by offering a faculty position to Tariq Ramadan, grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was banned at the time from entering the United States because of his involvement with terrorist organizations. [David Horowitz and Jacob Laksin, The New Leviathan, pp. 46-47]

Attack Relies On Tenuous Links. Ramadan -- who was never charged with any crime -- denied knowing that a charity to which he donated was alleged to have ties to Hamas, and media reports noted that he was "denied admittance" during the Bush administration "after making statements counter to U.S. foreign policy." [Media Matters, 4/9/10]

State Dept. Concluded That Ramadan Did Not "Represent A Threat" To U.S. In a January 20, 2010, State Department briefing noting the decision to overturn the Bush administration's ban on Ramadan and Adam Habib -- a deputy vice chancellor at the University of Johannesburg -- from entering the U.S., assistant secretary Philip Crowley stated, "[W]e do not think that either one of them represents a threat to the United States." Crowley also stated: "[T]he next time Professor Ramadan or Professor Habib applies for a visa, he will not be found inadmissible on the basis of the facts that led to denial when he last applied." [Media Matters, 4/9/10]

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David Horowitz, Jacob Laksin
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