Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Sufferin' Succotash! A sad farewell to John Katz

I always wondered what happend to a local radio host, John Katz, who went off the air a while back. Well, now I know it was due to his declining health, and he has passed away.
He had a radio show on Modesto Radio Station KCBC (770AM) called "One Man's View Of Americanism" ("One Manth View Of Americanithm") every Sunday from 4 to 6 PM. It was based upon articles from John Birch Society publications like the New American magazine. Unfortunately, Mr. Katz had a bit of a lisp, resulting in a radio voice that reminded me of an angry and grumpy version of Sylvester The Cat.

I think Mr. Katz, like the John Birchers I have met, was a well-meaning and patriotic man. However, to attribute everything to a seemingly unstoppable conspiracy involving one world order types, the Trilateral Commission, the Council On Foreign Relations, and the Freemasons is tiresome. Too much doom and gloom do not inspire; they paralyze.

The philosopher Robert Nozick distinguished between two approaches to political thought: the "invisible hand" and the "hidden hand." Those who embrace the "invisible hand" believe that people, given the freedom to make their own choices, tend to achieve social goals without being forced to do so.

Sometimes the invisible hand fails, and strong central leadership is needed. But as a general rule, free markets and civil liberties have worked well in promoting human progress. They have certainly proved better than the alternative, in the form of state control, which has produced only poverty, war, and misery.

"Hidden hand" thinkers, by contrast, believe that everything is controlled by unseen forces -- not spiritual but human in nature. Socialism thrives on such ideas. In fact, socialism depends on conspiracy theories to justify its war against personal liberty, to blame for its inevitable failures, and to cover up its own very real machinations.

Although Mr. Katz was a patriotic and free-enterprise oriented man, he sadly fell into the "hidden hand" delusion, only he came from the Right rather than the Left.

Moreover, Mr. Katz always touted the American Independent / Constitution Party, calling the Republican Party "Socialist Party B". While I grant him that RINOs do often disappoint us, American history has taught us again and again the futility of 3rd parties. Rather than pushing for patriots to get involved with the Republican Party and push it in a proper direction, 3rd party movements only squander effort.

The Modesto Bee
March 10, 2006


John Harry Katz, a lifetime member of the ultraconservative John Birch Society whose demonstrations in Modesto targeted the United Nations, died of natural causes Monday in Manteca at Kaiser Foundation Hospital. He was 70.

Katz was a resident of Modesto for more than 40 years and was the host of a weekly radio show for 26 years called "One Man's View of Americanism," where he targeted what he believed was an oppressive government trying to establish a New World Order -a global communism that would mean "total subjugation of the people of the world."

Pamela Reddington, an engineer on Katz's show at KCBC for eight years, said Katz never had a shortage of listeners wanting to call in, whether it was to show their support or start a passionate debate. And when a guest became too contentious, Katz would simply tell Reddington to "cut 'em off."
"Some of the listeners didn't appreciate the things he said, but his shows were always lively, and I was always on my toes," Reddington said.

Reddington recalls Katz once hosting his show from his hospital bed after undergoing hip surgery.

"He was trying to run the show while yelling at people coming in the door," she said. "I never laughed so hard in my life. He was always great fun one way or the other."

But to local law enforcement, Katz was a more ornery figure. In 1974, Katz was escorted from a United Nations celebration at the Stanislaus County Library in Modesto because he tried to stop Sea Explorer Scouts from flying a U.N. flag next to the American flag.

Katz, a native of Sacramento, opened an advertising agency called Inter-Related Services in Modesto and produced his own lithographing, silk screening and print work. Katz also spent three years in the Army.

Katz is survived by his children, Ken Katz of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, Kim Katz and Kristopher Katz, both of Modesto, and Kurtis Katz of Thousand Oaks; brother, Ellis Katz of Sacramento; sister, Sue Biancalana of Mill Valley; and six grandchildren.

Visitation will take place from 10 a.m. to noon Monday at Salas Brothers Funeral Chapel. A funeral will be at 1 p.m. Monday at the chapel, with burial to follow at Lakewood Memorial Park, Hughson.

Remembrances may be made to Sovereign Grace Baptist Church Building Fund, 6509 Shoemake Ave., Modesto 95358.

The Modesto Bee
March 14, 2006

I was brokenhearted to learn of the death of John Katz, who died March 6 in Manteca. Like many longtime Modesto residents, I first learned of John through his Saturday morning talk show on KTRB, a weekly excursion into the far reaches of what many call the political fringe. John was an unapologetic member of the John Birch Society, and that's what he talked about, relentlessly.

Although I found much to disagree with him on politically, we eventually found ourselves on the same side of a local issue and met in person. I was pleasantly surprised to find him possessed of a keen sense of humor. We became friends. John was one of the kindest and most gracious men I've ever known.

Modesto will remember him for his politics and his talk show, and so will I. But there's much more to miss about the man than a colorful and often intimidating public persona.


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