Thursday, December 31, 2015

2016: Whether We Stand or Fall, America IS Divided

"The truly interesting question isn’t whether America is becoming more conservative or more liberal, but whether there is any single significant cultural, religious, or political trend that is pulling this nation together rather than yanking it apart."

 --David French, National Review

1. “Joy”

Joe Morgenstern is the Wall Street Journal movie critic. The paper is pro-capitalist, so when it comes to the movie “Joy” -- based upon the entrepreneurial success of Joy Mangano, the ex-housewife and airline clerk who invented the “miracle mop” -- how does Morgenstern handle the clash between the values of his employer (conservative) and those of his Hollywood world (liberal)?

It’s not a close call. Morgenstern, along with most of his movie critic pals tanks “Joy” as a mixed bag that can’t survive superstar Jennifer Lawrence’s outstanding individual performance.

Morgenstern calls “Joy” a “seriocomic fable of entrepreneurship.” It’s not a fable, as were Horatio Alger’s 19th Century stories that inspired generations of future, up-from-dirt, middle class youth. No, “Joy” is a true story.

And “Joy” is no more or less a comedy than “American Hustle” or “Silver Linings Playbook,” two other David O. Russell-directed Jennifer Lawrence vehicles with over-the-top acting that critics then loved. But with “Joy,” Morgenstern hacks at Robert “De Niro’s insistently self-commenting performance.”

Also Morgenstern mocks “Joy” for “selling a succession of story points about persistence, independence and Joy’s creativity.” What’s wrong with “persistence, independence” and “creativity”?

Here’s why movie critics must drown “Joy” the same way they go after movies about war heroes or Christians saving souls. Entrepreneurs (soldiers, Christians) creating a better world through capitalism (war, faith) strike at the heart of progressive (anti-war, secular) collectivism. And advancing progressivism is Hollywood’s higher calling.

2. Crime

We all want less crime. Where liberals and conservatives clash is on the role strong police work plays in reducing crime.

Heather MacDonald is at the conservative Manhattan Institute. MacDonald helped create the term “Ferguson effect,” which describes the police pull-back from aggressive enforcement that followed the Summer 2014 clashes between (mostly black) protesters and local police triggered by a white policeman’s killing of an unarmed Ferguson Missouri black. The Ferguson riots generated national attention, with demonstrators gaining widespread progressive support, including from President Obama and his Justice Department, even though in the end, Justice concluded the white Ferguson policeman committed no crime.

MacDonald has the statistics to back up her assertion that the “Ferguson effect” generates higher crime rates. She writes that researchers from the liberal Brennan Center for Justice:
gathered homicide data from 25 of the nation’s 30 largest cities for the period Jan. 1, 2015, to Oct. 1, 2015. The researchers then tried to estimate what 2015’s full-year homicide numbers for those 25 cities would be, based on the extent to which homicides were up from January to October [in 2015] compared with the similar period in 2014. The resulting projected increase for homicides in 2015 in those 25 cities is 11%. An 11% one-year increase in any crime category is massive.
Baltimore’s per capita homicide rate, for example, is now the highest in its history, according to the Baltimore Sun: 54 homicides per 100,000 residents, beating its 1993 rate of 48.8 per 100,000 residents. . . Homicides in St. Louis were up 60% by the end of August. In Los Angeles, the police department reports that violent crime has increased 20% as of Dec. 5; there were 16% more shooting victims in the city, while arrests were down 9.5%. Shooting incidents in Chicago are up 17% through Dec. 13.
As to the “white police kill unarmed blacks” narrative that triggered the Ferguson riots, according to a Washington Post survey, American police fatally shot 965 people in 2015, of which 564 were armed with a gun, 281 with another weapon, and 90 (less than 4 percent) were unarmed. In 75% of shootings, “police were under attack or defending someone who was.”

MacDonald believes progressives are determined to deny that depolicing is affecting public safety, committed as they are to the “root causes” theory of crime. She notes:
The Brennan Center study [hypothesizes] that lower incomes, higher poverty rates, falling populations and high unemployment are driving the rising murder rates in Baltimore, Detroit, Milwaukee, New Orleans and St. Louis. But those aspects of urban life haven’t dramatically worsened over the past year and a half. What has changed is the climate for law enforcement.
Comment: Across a broad spectrum of topics -- capitalism, religion, war, crime -- America is divided into two camps, with each camp placing its preferred narrative above facts.

Which camp one identifies with seems to come back to Isaiah Berlin’s 1958 “two concepts of liberty,” a division that has preoccupied this blog ever since its 2006 year of origin. Do you truly believe in “negative liberty,” which allows each person to pursue happiness as free as possible from outside interference (beyond basic protection), or do you favor “positive liberty,” which allows the collective (and its leaders) to guide us toward “the better angels of our nature?”

Does it “take a village” to raise a child, or not?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

God is Love, Selfie Sticks Not So Much

“I’m– I’m a brand, and I am like—You’re trying to promote yourself. The brand. I’m the director of the– ‘And you’re the product.’ ‘You’re definitely trying to promote yourself.’ ‘To stay relevant, you have to—You have to work hard.’”

--Female Selfie Fan

Ben Domenech quoted the above while writing about selfie sticks. Domenech says:
In an era when the ability to capture a still life or one in motion is in your pocket at all times, people . . . do so [by putting] themselves in the foreground of existence, which inevitably means putting life behind them [see picture]. It requires you to look away from the thing you wish to capture in order to put your face in the shot, and to do so over and over and over again. No stranger would willingly stand there snapping away at you, so you need a stick to ease the challenge – it eliminates the human interaction and increases the options and angles you can use.
It’s Christmas, a time for living love, absorbing joy, looking around, and putting selfie sticks down.

As humans, we have free will. Life often seems beyond our control, and in many ways it is. Chaos theory is math, and provable. “The approximate present does not approximately determine the future.” Over time, any slight change can end up being totally disruptive--chaos.

But over our own lives, we do exercise control. And religion helps us move past the moment to address what life is really about.

When we die (and are usually buried by a religious figure), will others talk about how well we branded ourselves? Or will they think about the impact we had on others? They may be silent about our wrongs and loud about our virtues, but thoughts will run to the balance between the two.

Did love win out?

So we need religion, whether or not we know it. We can’t do it alone. We need support, we need help, and in some form we want help.

When we focus on life’s true meaning, we want faith, hope, and love, with love the greatest of the three.

Wise people figured this all out long ago, in different ways, in different parts of the world, in different cultures. But there’s a common theme. You can pass time living in the moment; you can discipline yourself to seek something higher. You can be self-centered and self-satisfied. Or you can be humble, you can listen, you can learn.

To be sure, being a loving person takes confidence. One needs the self-assurance to get past worry and fear. Also, one must move beyond linking happiness to others’ reactions -- positive or negative. Love begins with you, with one’s own confidence, and moves finally to the maturity of loving others with no expectation of love in return. It’s giving, giving freely and unconsciously.

Faith is crucial. I’m unimpressed by the prevalence of secularism in modern society. Secularism is old times. It’s so limiting to think of humans as the ultimate force for good--that’s back with human-like Greek gods, man at the center of all, back B.C.E.

Faith can’t be proven. Nevertheless, either there is meaning in love, or there isn’t. Faith believes in love and the power of love. Faith is beyond whatever humans figure out on their own. The mystery of faith itself brings peace and joy.

Of course, faith takes many forms. In secular America, one of faith’s most obvious forms is environmentalism, nature worship, Rousseau’s “noble savage,” belief in a perfect balance of natural forces disrupted by humans that must be restored. If such a faith inspires people to love other humans, what’s not to like?

I believe perfection in humans to be non-existent.  Faith helps greatly here.  My background is Christian, and the bedrock of our faith is that Jesus died for our sins, liberating us through faith from the need for perfection, freeing us instead to embrace faith, hope, and love.  Thank God.

Life’s basic truth is that we are born, we live, we die.  Hope is vital to getting us past death.  I am an imperfect human, severely limited in my ability to see beyond the grave.  Hope means being positive about the future; to me, understanding that love conquers death by living on in those we love.

Basic to love is understanding we control only ourselves.  Love is liberating, love is never controlling others.  Love accepts others as they are, taking joy in their fulfilling independence, even if realized through a selfie stick.  And love is patient, kind, never insisting on its own way, not irritable or resentful, aiming for joy.

Faith + hope + love = happiness today and forever.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Obama Gets Away with Scandal

Liberal Bill Scher brags that “Obama, unlike all of his second-term predecessors in the last 40 years, has not been knocked off course by scandal." Scher gratuitously calls Hurricane Katrina George W. Bush’s “scandal,” placing that natural disaster alongside Nixon’s Watergate, Reagan’s Iran-Contra (by the way, a scandal with no lasting impact), and Bill Clinton’s Monica Lewinsky.

Scher adds,
Obama . . . mastered the art of scandal management, while his Republican opponents lost credibility by transparently politicizing every investigation. . . Republicans never learned how to calibrate their reactions. Instead of following the facts before drawing conclusions, they proclaim the worst—and then fail to prove their allegations. That’s why the pursuits of wrongdoing in Fast and Furious, Solyndra, the IRS audits and Benghazi have all fizzled.
“mastered the art of scandal management”! That’s one way to describe total and complete stonewalling of Republican and independent inspector generals’ efforts within the departments to unearth the truth about genuine scandals in “Fast and Furious, Solyndra, the IRS audits and Benghazi.” And that doesn’t even cover scandals in the Veterans Administration, the Secret Service, Homeland Security (TSA and lack of border enforcement), State Department (visas), the General Services Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency, along with White House suppression of intelligence agency reports on actual al Qaeda and ISIS threats.

Of course, “mastery” of “scandal management” benefits hugely from legacy media cooperation; a non-stop effort to play down negative reporting on the Obama administration. Keeping Democrats in power overrides the press’s historic responsibility to -- whatever the party in power -- “afflict the comfortable.” No, by 2016 and now in late-stage permanent government corruption, it’s all about hanging onto power.

Doubt me? Look then at the scary story of Dinesh D’Souza, as told by National Review conservative writer Andrew McCarthy. The story, “part memoir, part polemic, part prescription, and part Kafka,” in MaCarthy’s words is “frightening because it is so verifiably true. . .one of the grossest abuses of power by this lawless administration.”

Obama’s team prosecuted D’Souza for a campaign-finance offense. D’Souza’s Dartmouth classmate was waging a futile campaign against incumbent U.S. senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). Instead of time, D’Souza provided financial support, going above the personal maximum of $10,000 by making two other friends nominal contributors, thereby exposing himself to a felony punishable by two years’ imprisonment plus a large fine.

Yet few actually get prosecuted for this offense, i.e., the Obama 2008 campaign’s millions of dollars in illicit contributions were settled with an administrative fine. And when a case is pursued criminally, it’s usually due to an expected quid pro quo, not for helping a friend. Furthermore, D’Souza had no prior criminal record.

But D’Souza had made himself an enemy of a vengeful and powerful Obama. During the president’s 2012 reelection bid, D’Souza released the documentary film “2016: Obama’s America.” The film was extraordinarily successful and for that reason, drew a strong White House rebuke.

Election over, Obama’s Justice Department went after D’Souza in a vindictive manner that alarmed two legends: Harvard’s Alan Dershowitz and New York City defense lawyer Benjamin Brafman, who first believed D’Souza was paranoid, but took his case and ended up convinced D’Souza had been railroaded.

After D’Souza pled guilty — rather than risk imprisonment — Justice responded by asking for 16 months in prison. The Clinton-appointed judge subjected D’Souza to a tongue-lashing and almost sent him to prison before agreeing to eight months of halfway-house confinement.

McCarthy called the sentence irrational except as a form of abuse. Had D’Souza been given the 10-to-16-month sentence, he’d have gone to a minimum-security prison camp with other low-level offenders. By contrast, a halfway house is a way station for serious criminals: murderers, rapists, gang-bangers, drug traffickers.

When D’Souza arrived at his “halfway house” in a rundown part of San Diego, the first order of business was a mandatory class on how to avoid being sexually assaulted. In the end, D’Souza treated his experience as an opportunity to learn. A re-educated D'Souza now views his political adversaries as enemies and criminals rather than worthy opponents.

D’Souza understands progressives to be engaged in a massive scheme to “steal America,” including all its wealth and traditions. Incoherent ideas are a Machiavellian ploy, a pretense to morality (because the public expects it) that camouflages the acquisition of power needed to rob the public, a kleptocracy, as we have repeatedly said.

The progressive grip on power — crony capitalism, discretion over prosecutorial decisions, promotion of favored factions — robs Americans of economic opportunity and subjects them to governmental abuse. Progressives proceed in the manner of the gangs D’Souza learned about first-hand, moving from plan through recruitment and rationalization and ending with cover-up.

To D’Souza, America throughout history flourished because it was an anti-theft society: freedom married to protection of private property, unleashing creativity, entrepreneurship, and unprecedented prosperity. The progressive critique of that society is simply a “con” designed to seize achievers’ wealth and power.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Trump and Putin: Our Mussolini-like Obama Antidotes

One-time Italian dictator Benito Mussolini told us:
Democracy is beautiful in theory; in practice it is a fallacy. . . The Liberal State is a mask behind which there is no face; it is a scaffolding behind which there is no building.
75 years later, we have our “little Mussolinis”--Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and GOP candidate Donald Trump. Both are popular as the opposite of “leading from behind” Barack Obama and his “soft power.”

After Putin praised Trump on Thursday as "bright and talented" and "the absolute leader of the presidential race," Trump called Putin's praise a "great honor" and added:
He's running his country and at least he's a leader, unlike what we have in this country. I think our country does plenty of killing also.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Republican Debate No. 5 Helps Cruz + Christie

New York Post conservative John Podhoretz provides an excellent analysis of last night’s GOP debate. “Excellent” is a word often reserved for an opinion (or opinion piece) that brings pleasure because it matches one’s own views; Podhoretz’s views on the debate did match mine.

 Podhoretz writes that:
  • [New Jersey Governor Chris] Christie played to his own strengths, talking tough on ISIS and terror while making the key point that the signal responsibility of the president is to keep the citizenry safe. 
  • Christie’s future in the Republican race rests entirely on his ability either to win or place a very strong second in New Hampshire['s primary]. 
  • divisions on foreign policy were stark. [Florida Sen. Marco] Rubio is the hawk of the race, advocating without apology for the use of ground troops against ISIS in Syria. 
  • [Texas Sen. Ted] Cruz . . . called him reckless and hungry for war — and tried to tie Rubio to the ideas of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. 
  • Rubio likely got the better of the foreign-policy fight, but he certainly got the worse of the exchanges over his stance on immigration. 
  • Cruz ripped into the Florida senator for supporting a path to citizenship in the failed immigration-reform bill Rubio co-sponsored in 2013. 
  • Rubio tried to get Cruz to admit he supported a legalization path. . . — Cruz said exactly that during a Senate hearing on May 21, 2013 — but Cruz skillfully used slippery Clintonian language to evade Rubio. . . 
  • Rubio came out a bit bloodied. But that was inevitable. Immigration is his greatest weakness. . . bound to become a major discussion point at some point, and it became so last night. 
  • The person with the most to gain from a successful Cruz assault on Rubio is Christie.
Comment: Cruz not only linked Rubio to Obama and Clinton, he also tied him to New York Sen. Chuck Schumer each time he mentioned the ill-fated 2013 immigration bill, and Schumer is just as unpopular with Republican activists as are Obama and Clinton.  Also, Christie referred  to senators fighting over meaningless bills while governors make decisions--comments aimed at comparing Rubio adversely to Christie.

Cruz hopes to emerge as the only alternative to Trump, and to become acceptable to a GOP majority on that basis. A “bloodied” Rubio helps the Cruz strategy, so Cruz did well along with -- as Podhoretz noted -- Christie.

Rubio is down but not out. Cruz escaped last night from his 2013 effort to give illegal immigrants a path to permanent residency, but the truth is on video, and is beginning to come out. As for Christie, he must beat Rubio in New Hampshire 55 days from now--or else.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Big Government: Climate Change

Quotation without comment

From a Wall Street Journal editorial:
if climate change really does imperil the Earth,. . . nothing coming out of a gaggle of governments and the United Nations will save it. What will help is human invention and the entrepreneurial spirit. To the extent the Paris accord increases political control over human and natural resources, it will make the world poorer and technological progress less likely.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Big Government: Smart People, Dumb Choice. . . Obamacare

Edward Morrissey is a conservative. In the “Fiscal Times,” an independent paper, he catalogs the problems with Obamacare today, five years later:
  • Obamacare has depressed job growth, producing a labor force about 2 million full-time-equivalent workers smaller in 2025 than it would have been without Obamacare, with taxpayers subsidizing the health care of those not working; 
  • medical costs are escalating at a higher rate, up 5% in 2014, well above the rate of inflation, and the fastest it had grown since 2007, with Medicaid spending up 11% because of Obamacare expansions, Medicare up 5.5%, and even private insurance up 4.4% because of Obamacare; 
  • barely a dent has been made in the numbers of uninsured, reducing the percentage of U.S. residents without health insurance by just 2.7% from 13.9% to 11.1%, and; 
  • insurers are either exiting the markets or failing altogether, with the rise in premiums in 2014, followed by their explosion in 2015 along with deductibles so high that many decided not to be insured at all having led to over half of Obamacare’s co-ops collapsing this year, with providers who took their clients stuck with the bills, with nonprofit startups backed by Obamacare loans out of money before paying their medical claims, with the co-op Health Republic Insurance of New York failure leaving $165 million in unpaid bills, and 64% of New York providers waiting for payment they may never see. 
Why do otherwise intelligent people actually seem to believe government works better than a competitive private sector? Couldn’t any objective thinker in 2010 have predicted that Obamacare would be sinking within five years?

Adam Smith was right in 1776. He's right 240 years later.  Don’t put the economy into the hands of a few bright people at the top. Let the market sort out good ideas from bad, in the process putting the talents and skills of millions of hard-working people into play. Accept that people driven by self-interest existing in a sea of others pursuing the same objective and helped by a fair marketplace will create jobs and prosperity--as they have in East Asia over the past half-century.

Conservative Kevin Williamson wisely reminds us that progressives “falsely believe profits to be net deductions from the sum of the public good rather than measures of the creation of real social value.”

We need jobs coming from “creation of real social value.” Why can’t smart people accept profit as a measure of social value, then support the resulting smart, job creating choices?

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Progressives, Terror, and Gun Control

"Progressives tend to believe that government — if made to have sufficient size, scope, and proper management over the affairs of man — will fix or at least seriously mitigate the problem of evil in the world."

--Mollie Hemingway, “Federalist”

There is a coherent ideology behind the elite that runs the country today. They are activists, they are the “better people” guiding us to a brighter future, they rose by merit, they rule through government’s coercive power, and they are certain in their right to damage and destroy the less qualified who unjustly seek to take their power away.

In all this, they resemble every elite that has ever ruled.

Right now, the progressive elite’s hold on power is threatened by poor job performance. As Daniel Henninger of the conservative Wall Street Journal tells us (subscription):
Whatever Obama promised. . . any sense of a nation united and raised up is gone. This isn’t normal second-term blues. It’s a sense of bust. The . . . Pew Research poll[‘s] headline message is that trust in government is kaput. Forget the old joke about the government coming to “help.” There’s a darker version now: We’re the government, and we’re here to screw you.
Threatened, the elite’s mainstream media mouthpiece shouts into an echo chamber that reverberates with the same ideas. Repeated over. And over.

Reporters are frustrated progressive politicians. They are activists who -- in order to move their ideas forward -- must work closely with those who hold actual power. That’s a clue as to why the elite sings the same songs. Power holders and mouthpieces, crooning in harmony.  

Hierarchy

Hierarchy is the key to elite rule. Begin with education, a culture of learning within which one advances by repeating correct thinking. The reward is movement up the intellectual ladder. You may not take joy at your (low) place on the ladder, but gain depends upon staying on and supporting the ladder. Forget democracy. It’s about serving those above. And that means singing the same song in harmony.

Hierarchies don’t work well. They suppress new ideas in the interest of conformity. Rewards are highly restricted with most human resources wasted. But hierarchies work in the short run to maintain top-down control.

The progressive elite echo chamber currently sings that Republicans -- unlike Democrats -- will lose because they fight among themselves. But as Noah Rothman writes in the conservative journal Commentary:
Republican disorganization. . . is a good problem to have. Unruliness is a feature of an ideologically diverse coalition of competing interests. The conversation inside the left’s closed circle is a self-reinforcing one; dissent is hard to come by and is punished by the movement’s most dogmatic enforcers when discovered.
Reality TV

Progressive certainty about victory rests heavily on Trump’s rise within the GOP and his simultaneous long and growing list of defeat-guaranteeing errors. Bill Murray (no, not him), in “RealClearPolitics,” joins us in wondering what’s the basis for Trump’s endurance in the face of withering fire:
Trump’s open antagonism toward political correctness and his disdain for the establishment media’s role as the American public’s chief intermediary has not disqualified him from office, but instead has enhanced his reputation with the Republican electorate. Why?
Murray believes we are at a turning point in how politicians reach voters that matches when radio replaced newspapers, and then TV replaced radio. Roosevelt nominating “The Happy Warrior” Al Smith, and in the process wowing his early, 1924 radio audience. Kennedy catching an unready Nixon on television in the 1960 first presidential debate. Reagan, polished by years on TV (“GE Theater,” “Death Valley Days”), rolling over Jimmy Carter in their 1980 debate.

Now Trump, comfortable with reality TV from running his show “The Apprentice,” is connecting with a mass, unwashed Republican base. The less educated identify with the real people they believe they know from reality TV programming such as “Jersey Shore.” It’s TV beyond elite control, and Trump understands it.  

Elite Fights Back

The legacy media may not be overpowering a new “reality,” but they know the old ways to search and destroy. Hillary Clinton’s great vulnerability is people don’t trust her. So as ex-CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson suggests, the “post truth media” is out to make sure that whoever becomes Hillary’s GOP opponent will also carry the label “dishonest,” thereby neutralizing the trust issue as much as possible.

And at present, progressive leaders and their media handmaidens are unfolding a coordinated push to elevate gun control as a national issue. The New York Times, leading voice of the liberal elite, has just published its first front-page editorial since June 13, 1920 (picture above). And it’s about gun control.

Gun control isn’t a popular issue, especially in the face of Islamist extremism, responsible recently for the worst terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11. So what’s going on?

Answer: progressives need to change the subject away from Islamic extremist terror, the issue that carried the GOP to victory in 2004, the last time a Republican won the White House. And as progressives, their response to terror must include launching the government into action.

Should the top issue remain Islamic extremism, the GOP will win. Gun control unites progressives against Republicans, whom the left see as prisoners of the National Rifle Association, even as the wider public doesn’t back stricter gun laws. And gun control baits the GOP into a fight much less costly to Democrats than the war on terror. "Let’s talk guns," not Islamic extremism.

The New York Times. Still orchestrating the progressive song.

Monday, November 23, 2015

You saw it here first: affirmative action children acting out.

Stuart Taylor, Princeton '70
We told you affirmative action was responsible. Now Stuart Taylor, Jr., scholar at the liberal Brookings Institution, writes in the conservative American Spectator that affirmative action lies behind the current Cultural Revolution hitting American campuses.

As Taylor reminds us:
good black . . . students, who would be academically competitive at many selective schools, are not competitive at the more selective schools that they attend. That’s why it takes very large racial preferences to get them admitted. An inevitable result is that many black . . . students cannot keep up with better-prepared classmates and rank low in their classes no matter how hard they work.
Studies show that this academic “mismatch effect” forces them to drop science and other challenging courses; to move into soft, easily graded, courses disproportionately populated by other preferentially admitted students; and to abandon career hopes such as engineering and pre-med. Many lose intellectual self-confidence and become unhappy even if they avoid flunking out.
And many turn from their books to campus agitation against discrimination and injustice. In the process, they avoid facing head-on an injustice they first benefit from, an injustice that then turns to bite them hard: projected “white guilt.”

Or have I got this wrong?  Is the current black agitation the richly-deserved payback the white perpetrators of affirmative action deserve? 

Friday, November 20, 2015

American Cultural Revolution Rolls On

Wilson Mural at Princeton, Covered in Black
“Across the nation, students have risen up to demand an end to systemic and structural racism on campus. Here are their demands.” For the complete list of demands go to (list here).

As of yesterday, our current crop of “red guards” is active on 46 campuses. Their “demands” include Princeton activists calling for elimination of Woodrow Wilson’s name from Princeton institutions where his name appears, including the Woodrow Wilson School I attended, and Wilson College, the residential hall where my son lived. And the “red guards’” sit-in in the Princeton President’s Office (Woodrow Wilson wasn’t only our president, he was also President of Princeton) has succeeded!

It’s so ironic. Woodrow Wilson is the father (oops!) of American Progressivism, supported direct election of senators, created the Federal Reserve System, reduced tariffs, help give women the vote, created Mother’s Day, vetoed a bill demanding literacy tests for immigrants and banning Asian workers, tried to veto the National Prohibition Act, led us to victory in World War I, then earned the Nobel Peace Prize both for his efforts to end war and for founding the League of Nations, the predecessor to the U.N. Wilson is often ranked by historians as one of the nation’s greatest presidents.

Yes Wilson was a racist.  He was born in the South in 1856. But that made him too young to own slaves, as did 12 of our first 18 presidents.

Watch out, State of Washington and Washington D.C.!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The New Cultural Revolution: Affirmative Acton’s Price

Yale Students Making Revolution
So the Cultural Revolution-like protests at Missouri and Yale have now spread to Claremont-McKenna and Dartmouth.

Crane Brinton’s The Anatomy of Revolution (1938) explains why--before eventually being crushed in revolution’s "Thermidor" stage--extremists first triumph over moderates:
  • they are "better organized, better staffed, better obeyed." 
  • they have "relatively few responsibilities," while the legal government "has to shoulder some of the unpopularity of the government of the old regime" with "the worn-out machinery, the institutions of the old regime." 
  • the moderates are hindered by their hesitancy to change direction and fight back against the radical revolutionaries, "with whom they recently stood united," in favor of conservatives, "against whom they have so recently risen." 
  • they are drawn to the slogan “no enemies to the Left.” 
  • the moderates are attacked on one side by "disgruntled but not yet silenced conservatives, and the confident, aggressive extremists," on the other. 
  • moderate revolutionary policies can please neither side. 
Sound familiar? If so, and if the past is any guide, the current Cultural Revolution hitting American university campuses has a ways to go before its leaders are frozen.

Still, as Paul Sperry in the conservative New York Post reminds us, today’s student unrest is a pale imitation of what hit U.S. campuses 50 years ago:
The protests of the ’60s had real causes — fighting for civil rights and opposing the draft during an unpopular war. But today’s protesters are posers grasping at faux causes and ginning up pseudo-grievances about things like Halloween costumes and swastikas drawn in bathrooms.
The police dogs, truncheons and firehoses of the civil-rights movement have been reduced to slights, slurs and symbols. Today’s discrimination is “unconscious” or “implicit.” Activists know it exists, they just can’t prove it. It’s “systemic,” yet they can’t find it.
Let me be blunt. The instigators of today’s campus radicalism, especially blacks, are the children and grandchildren of affirmative action, now 50 years old. They are inspired by our angry black president, the first affirmative action child to arrive at the White House.

Conservative black author Shelby Steele, in White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era (2006), wrote forthrightly about the failure of affirmative action and its continuing damage to our nation. Steele believes that in the ‘60s, there was no quick answer to America’s
heartless betrayal of democracy where blacks were concerned, the [profound] loss of moral authority. . . In their monochrome whiteness, the institutions of this society -- universities, government agencies, corporations -- became emblems of the very evil America had just acknowledged.
Affirmative action was a false short cut, rapidly allowing white-dominated institutions to shed “white guilt” by turning to policies that favored blacks at the expense of (mostly less privileged) whites.

For blacks, however, Steele asserts affirmative action didn’t work, with no evidence the policy has narrowed the developmental gap between whites and blacks. New Haven black firemen granted promotion over their higher-scoring white counterparts certainly disadvantaged white firemen, but left undeniable the fact that not a single black scored high enough to gain promotion.

Steele writes that blacks suffer from underdevelopment, not discrimination:
Success in modernity will demand profound cultural changes -- changes in child-rearing, a restoration of marriage and family, a focus on academic rigor, a greater appreciation of entrepreneurialism and an embrace of individual development as the best road to group development.
Blacks are too proud to explore openly what Steele calls underdevelopment. That leaves us all perpetuating the language of discrimination and injustice, thereby denying blacks responsibility for taking charge of their own fate as did and do successive waves of American immigrants, whatever their color.  

Comment: Today’s campus Cultural Revolution, following Steele’s book by 9 years, is perpetuating black focus on discrimination and injustice. It does so in place of blacks overcoming the underdevelopment that must be obvious to many affirmative action beneficiaries every day in their university classrooms.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

2015: American Cultural Revolution Launched?

Missouri Football Protesters Call for University President's Head
It’s amazing what just happened at the University of Missouri. Black students upset about President Timothy Wolfe’s
insufficient appreciation for the “systematic oppression” experienced by students of color at the university [and backed by c]ampus agitators alleg[ing] that racial slurs had been directed at black students
forced Wolfe to resign! They did so using a technique that may go university by university across the nation. They moved black players on Missouri’s football team to threaten that unless Wolfe resigned, they would boycott Saturday’s game with BYU, a cancellation that would cost Missouri $1 million.

Yes, Missouri is the state of Ferguson, the St. Louis suburb that hosted riots last year over the supposed white policeman murder (since disproven) of an unarmed black teenager. Yes, the University of Missouri is run by the state. Yes, Missouri is one of only 17 states still left with a Democratic governor. Yes, blacks provide over 20% of Missouri's Democratic vote. Nevertheless, every campus where football or basketball earn universities--public or private--big dollars faces the same blackmail threat that brought down Wolfe, along with his chancellor.

And if you don’t believe a nationwide cultural revolution--with parallels to the massive, student-led Red Guard revolution that destroyed China’s traditional Communist Party in 1966--may be starting in the U.S., look what’s going on at Yale. Professor Nicholas Christakis resides at and presides over Silliman, a Yale residential college. His wife Erika, a lecturer in early childhood education, shares that duty.

As described by Conor Friedersdorf over 3,500 words in the liberal Atlantic, Erika had the temerity to suggest, politely in an email, that maybe Yale administrators shouldn’t be advising which Halloween costumes were and were not appropriate for students to wear.

The reaction to Erika’s email was explosive. Please go here to view the YouTube student intimidation of husband Nicholas; a video clip that begins with one student saying, “Walk away, he doesn’t deserve to be listened to.”

You think that reaction was a bit much? Friedersdorf reports that since Halloween, “Hundreds of Yale students are attacking [the Christakis’s], some with hateful insults, shouted epithets, and a campaign of public shaming,” and “a faction of students are now trying to get the couple removed from their residential positions, which is to say, censured and ousted from their home on campus.”

Comment: We can no longer expect the crucible of meritocratic elite rule--the academy--to be a training ground for democracy based upon the principle that all persons are created equal, a belief supported by our basic freedoms, including freedom of speech. In the words of George Orwell’s Napoleon (Animal Farm, 1945), “All . . . Are Equal / But Some Are More Equal Than Others."

Monday, November 02, 2015

Third GOP Debate Shortens Field

 Cruz                        Rubio                        Trump                          Carson
"we believe there are really only four candidates with a reasonable chance of becoming the Republican nominee: Senator Marco Rubio, Dr. Ben Carson, Donald Trump, and Senator Ted Cruz."

--Marco Rubio Campaign

The Rubio campaign analysis seems correct. Following the October 28 GOP debate botched by CNBC, Ted Cruz is closing in on the Republican “outsider insider” conservative vote. At the same time, Marco Rubio has apparently broken in front of a large, qualified pack of candidates seeking to become the GOP establishment’s leading choice--in the process passing Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, John Kasich, and departed Scott Walker and Rick Perry.

So the Republican contest might come down to Rubio v. Cruz after all. That would be news to Trump and Ben Carson. They have topped national polls since Carson passed Bush in late August (Trump’s been #1 in the RealClearPolitics average since July 19).

Trump and Carson remain well out in front. If Republicans continue to prefer an outsider, it will be Trump or Carson. Carson is Dr. anti-Trump; his support comes from Republicans who love Trump’s hostility toward the elite, but can’t stand the man. Carson provides an acceptable alternative to Trump, meaning love him or hate him, Trump dominates either way.

In line with our analysis, Carson, Trump, Rubio, and Cruz lead the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll taken over 5 days, including the day after CNBC’s GOP debate:

Carson 29%
Trump 23%
Rubio 11%
Cruz 10%

Monmouth University has a poll run entirely after the debate, but limited just to New Hampshire:

Trump 26%
Carson 16%
Rubio 13% (up from 4%)
Kasich 11%
Cruz 9%

Trump runs ahead of Carson and Kasich ahead of Cruz in secular New Hampshire; Both Cruz and Carson draw from the Christian right.

The latest Iowa poll, the Democratic PPP Poll, also took place after the last Republican debate. Iowa GOP caucus attendees are overwhelmingly evangelical-conservative. So no surprise that Christian conservatives Carson and Cruz dominate in Iowa--Carson even with Trump, and Cruz moving ahead of Rubio:

Trump 22%
Carson 21%
Cruz 14%
Rubio 10%

In all new polls, Bush trails the four new leaders.

Kim Strassel, writing in the conservative Wall Street Journal, expects Rubio and Cruz to be two of the last three standing (she also likes Chris Christie). Strassel explains why:
Republican voters want[:] a great communicator, an effective advocate for their cause. They haven’t had one since Reagan, and the Bushes and McCains and Romneys have highlighted how big a problem that is.
The two Cuban Americans, Rubio and Cruz, are both 44. They aspire to be the Republican John Kennedy as much as the next Reagan, trading on youth as did our first Catholic president.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Crusin’ Ted Cruz

Cruz                                                      Dracula
“I just don’t like the guy.”

--former President George W. Bush

It’s remarkable to have Bush 43 in his retirement attacking a fellow Republican and Texan, but Bush knows he’s hardly alone.

Ted Cruz is called the “most hated man in Washington.” Democrats hate him for his policies, but the reputation also stems from Republican animosity.  Cruz has made a name for himself by trying--and over Obamacare succeeding for a few days in October 2013--to close down the government rather than raise the debt ceiling, bust the budget, fund Obamacare, or pay for Planned Parenthood.

Republicans agree with Cruz on most issues, but pragmatists know shutting down government confirms a public image of the GOP as extremists who would defund popular government programs such as social security and medicare just to get their way.

Cruz doesn’t seem to care. He called his leader in the Senate, fellow Republican Mitch McConnell, “a liar.” His profile blossomed as a result of his many battles. Cruz was Trump before there was Trump.

So what are Cruz’s chances of winning the GOP nomination? Good, I would say. Cruz is young, 44, with superb credentials. While at Princeton, Cruz won the 1992 U.S. National Debating Championship and the 1992 North American Debating Championship, and that same year, was named U.S. National Speaker of the Year, as well as half the Team of the Year.

Cruz and his Princeton debate partner then represented Harvard Law School at the 1995 World Debating Championship, making it to the semi-finals. Famed Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz said, "Cruz was off-the-charts brilliant." After law school, Cruz clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist--the plumb of plumb clerkships. Even an Obama couldn’t match these credentials.

Cruz is Hispanic, a plus, and an evangelical Christian, a GOP plus. Cruz’s wife is a Goldman Sachs partner who took leave to help his campaign. He objectively has an impressive campaign organization geared not only to do well in the four early states (Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, South Carolina) but pointed especially at March 1st's mostly Southern “Super Tuesday." Cruz could be #1 after “Super Tuesday” primaries or caucuses in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, and Virginia.

Already, Cruz is the top Republican in one of the most important measurements of strength: “Cash on Hand.”

The ranking (in $ millions) is:
1 Hillary Clinton $33.0
2 Bernie Sanders 27.1
3 Ted Cruz 13.8
4 Ben Carson 11.3
5 Marco Rubio 11.0

Among Republicans, Cruz trails only Bush in “Money Raised,” (in $ millions including PACs as well as individually):
1 Jeb Bush $133.3
2 Hillary Clinton 97.7
3 Ted Cruz 64.9
4 Marco Rubio 47.7
5 Bernie Sanders 41.5
6 Ben Carson 31.6

Of course, Trump is self-financed, and may well obliterate all these figures with his own funds. Trump and Ben Carson are Cruz’s main rivals along with Marco Rubio. Carly Fiorina has faded, and right now, Jeb Bush seems to be self-destructing. Cruz is currently #5 in the national polls, #4 in Iowa and South Carolina (he would like to beat #3 Rubio in both), and way down in New Hampshire, but with a good organization.  


Comment: I support Rubio, who would do better against Hillary than Cruz. Rubio is a smooth, skilled talker, and better looking than Cruz, who looks like a vampire (see Halloween frights, above).

Rubio speaks better Spanish than Cruz and his wife, unlike Cruz’s, is Hispanic (Colombian). Rubio, also a Tea Party conservative, is a practicing Catholic who sends his three children to parochial schools. If Trump and Carson fade, it may very well come down to handsome, poised Marco v. brilliant, well-organized Ted Cruz.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Clinton Lies, the Sun Rises, Clinton Also Lies

So the Benghazi hearings, mama media says, showed Clinton besting her GOP interrogators? From mother, you expected otherwise?

As we stated after the October 13 Democratic debate, that party’s primary is over. The result left media no choice: fall in line behind progressives’ one-candidate, 2016 march to the White House.

Conservative Robert Tracinski, in the “Federalist,” underlines our conclusion, writing that last week’s Benghazi hearing
is being hailed by the mainstream media as a triumph for Hillary Clinton. But then again, what choice do they have? If she is the inevitable Democratic nominee, then it’s TINA time: There Is No Alternative. So they had their narrative planned in advance.
“They had their narrative planned in advance.”

The media claimed the Benghazi hearings produced no “smoking gun.” Wrong. There were three. It’s just that “TINA” media chose to ignore all three. As Tracinski added, Clinton:
knew all along that the attack on the U.S. consulate [sic] in Benghazi was a terrorist attack by an al Qaeda affiliate, not a spontaneous demonstration about a YouTube video. Three e-mails [“smoking guns”--GF] unveiled by the Benghazi investigation — one to her daughter and two [documenting] conversations with the leaders of Libya and Egypt — show that she knew and acknowledged the truth in private while at the same time she was telling a different story to the American people.
We knew from the beginning that Clinton had lied about al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists attacking our Benghazi post and killing our ambassador and three other Americans on the 9/11 anniversary date of al Qaeda’s greatest triumph. We also knew progressives couldn’t afford the truth in the midst of a 2012 election fought under the line that Democrats had al Qaeda “on the run.”

Clinton lied. We couldn’t prove it. Now three email “smoking guns” do.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Democratic “Debate” Love Fest

You can’t beat somebody with nobody. Hillary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination. That’s clear for anybody who sat through Tuesday’s first Democratic Party debate. By vanquishing all challengers on the stage, Clinton made it next to impossible for Vice President Joe Biden to enter the race.

Democrats are worried, very worried, about the consequences they will face if they lose the 2016 presidential election. Much of the media attention to Clinton’s problems with her private email server related to a desire to get her out of the race if she looked likely to lose to a Republican next November. But the media can’t take Clinton down when there is no viable alternative within the party. That leaves the media with no choice but to join Clinton’s camp, and bury scandal associated with her campaign. It’s  “every hand on deck, gotta beat the GOP” time.

Bernie Sanders is one of those Democratic deck hands. I now see, probably long after others figured it out, that Sanders really is in the race with no expectation of winning, but to use his skills to push the party toward democratic socialism. His idea-driven agenda won’t go over with the party if he is seen as wounding the likely nominee, even--maybe especially--if his effort draws the more credible Biden into the race, something that was a real possibility before the debate.

So Sanders, in the debate's key moment, told us all “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails. . . Enough of the emails!” Result: Clinton wins the nomination, Sanders remains her principal opponent pushing the party leftward, Biden stays out.

I earlier said that Republicans should hope Clinton wins the nomination, because she is too flawed to be elected president. I didn’t count on her sewing up the nomination 13 months before the election. Unless the FBI indicts her, Clinton will now have the entire progressive structure working for her to beat the Republican nominee, much as happened in 2012 when the liberal coalition pulled President Barack Obama through under adverse economic circumstances.

Here's the consolation for Biden: if Clinton is indicted, he is the one best positioned to take her place.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Rubio Threat: NYT tells progressives, “Take heart.”

Marco Rubio isn’t yet ready to storm past Trump, Carson, Fiorina, and Bush. To progressives, Rubio's rivals for the Republican presidential nomination possess major weaknesses--Trump the male juvenile; Carson the “in over his head” right-wing Christian; Fiorina, the corporate “Fail-orina;” Bush, the name.  These four give Democrats hope that even a highly-flawed Hillary Clinton might actually beat the GOP nominee.

But Rubio, still trailing Trump, Carson, Fiorina and only slightly ahead of the better-financed Bush, is rising.  And Rubio may be the biggest threat of all.

Political bias is so obvious at the New York Times (NYT).  Like the Soviet-era Communist newspaper Pravda, the NYT writes for a chosen elite. The NYT's progressive audience is big and powerful enough the newspaper need not cater to anyone else.

NYT readers want a Democrat in the White House after 2016, and the NYT will further that goal. NYT leaks about Hillary Clinton’s email server seem odd on their face, but the leaks help nudge the party toward a substitute, should Hillary falter.

Obama faced a serious re-election challenge in 2012, when America's economy was still in bad shape.  Obama won by savaging GOP opponent Mitt Romney, with the help of the NYT and other progressive media.

That 2012 Obama winning strategy is on the front burner for 2016.  Make the GOP nominee's shortcomings the election issue. And right now, that demands focus on Rubio, whom NYT reporter Nate Cohn, in a warning to his progressive readership, writes has benefited from a change in the “political landscape surrounding his candidacy” that couldn’t be “much more in his favor over the last six months.”

But Cohn also reassures his readers that
Rubio’s problems run deeper than the factional politics of a severely divided party. Perhaps his vaunted communication skills haven’t turned into big polling gains because his personal traits — he’s a young, Catholic, Latino lawyer from Miami — don’t help him resonate among old, evangelical, white, less-educated and rural voters. His youthful appearance may not help assuage concerns about his preparedness for the presidency.
Beyond his limited experience in national politics, he has big vulnerabilities on his failed immigration reform effort and his ties to a billionaire benefactor.
The NYT tried to soften up Rubio’s run earlier this year, before the Trump phenomenon unfolded. Now that Trump is fading slightly, we see NYT attention swinging back to Rubio, the once and future threat.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

On running for president at 61.

Carly  @ 61 (2015)                                    Hillary  @ 61 (2008)                             
Is Carly right to run for president at 61?

Did Hillary's best time to run for president come and go?

In politics, timing is everything.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Media already savaging Carly.

Carly Fiorina won the second Republican presidential debate. The following morning, the conservative Wall Street Journal’s Kim Strassel quoted Margaret Thatcher’s 1965 statement that “In politics, if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything done, ask a woman.”  Fiorina's biggest gift was cutting Donald Trump down to size, something none of the men had been able to accomplish.

Strassel then said Firoina, like Thatcher, is a politician who happens to be a woman, rather than a female politician standing on women’s votes.

Speaking presumably partly from personal experience, Strassel added:
Fiorina knows [what] she has to do: her homework. . . She knows she can’t slip up. Her Wednesday performance—from her mastery of facts, to her fluid delivery, to her zingers—was clearly the work of hours upon hours of study and debate prep.
The implicit message of Strassel’s piece: “Democrats, watch out!”

Wouldn’t you know the Democrats’ allies in the media were alert to just such a development? The same morning conservatives were cheering Fiorina as the GOP’s answer to Britain’s “Iron Lady,” Chris Cillizza, in the liberal Washington Post, was warning Republicans, “This is the ad that could kill Carly Fiorina’s campaign.” Run by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) against Fiorina in Boxer’s victorious 2010 California Senate campaign, Cillizza reported that
The commercial notes that Fiorina laid off 30,000 workers at HP [Hewlett-Packard] while feathering her own nest (the ad's narrator says she tripled her salary) and buying a "million-dollar yacht" and "five corporate jets."
It took the New York Times’ Amy Chozick and Quentin Hardy another three days to rev up that paper’s assault on Fiorina’s record. Under the biased headline “As Profile Rises, Carly Fiorina Aims to Redefine Record as a C.E.O”--of course “redefine” means “fixing” something wrong--Chozick and Hardy on Page One wrote that Fiorina and supporters are trying to alter Fiorina’s
rocky business reputation and fend off attacks on her as an unfit and heartless executive. Such accusations helped doom her 2010 Senate campaign in California. Democrats called her “Carly Fail-orina,”
The New York Times suggests--and implicitly hopes--Fiorina
risks becoming bogged down in a defense of her record at the expense of her message as a political outsider who would bring conservative change to Washington
Attemptiong to keep her on the defensive, the article attacks Fiorina’s “knack for self-elevation,” pointing out that “Carly is not an engineer,” and rips into HP’s $24.2 billion merger with Compaq Computer, which “divided the HP board” and greatly increased the company’s size.

Quite gratuitously, Chozick and Hardy add:
The deal was so personal to Fiorina that she referred to HP as “Héloïse” and Compaq as “Abélard,” a pair whose romantic letters became treasures of medieval French literature, which she studied at Stanford. (Abélard was eventually castrated after fights with Héloïse’s family, a detail Compaq executives were unaware of at the time.)
Good grief. “All the news,” fit or unfit to print.

Chozick and Hardy won’t allow Fiorina to blame the fall of HP’s stock price on the well-known burst of the dot-com bubble that drove many tech firms out of business, as they tell us “HP shares fell by more than the stocks of competitors like Dell, IBM, Intel and Microsoft.”

This kind of reporting is called “cherry-picking.”  The two Timespersons, echoing the Boxer ad, inform us that Fiorina
ushered in a period of corporate scandal, including public clashes with members of the Hewlett family. Fired in 2005, she left with more than $42 million in severance, stock options and pension.
Board fights and golden parachutes a “scandal”? Really?

Ranging far afield in their search for dirt, Chozick and Hardy proclaim that HP is cutting up to 30,000 jobs today. That’s a full decade after Fiorina left the firm, but an action “which Fiorina’s detractors view as a repudiation of her legacy."

According to Chozick and Hardy, “some”
say the latest saga began with Fiorina’s grand acquisitions, which never yielded the profits or economies of scale she and her successors anticipated. “She had a very mixed tenure,” said George Colony, the chief executive of Forrester, a technology research firm. “The culture she tried to change spit her out, eventually. I’d put her at the top of the bottom third of C.E.O.s.”
The Colony quote is significant, since unlike those from others, including Jim Margolis, the ad maker for the Boxer campaign, and Barbara Boxer herself (!), Colony’s bias against Fiorina isn’t obvious on its face.

The piece “Fact check: Carly Fiorina didn't have a great run as CEO of Hewlett-Packard” by Fortune’s Stephen Gandel lacks the New York Times’ raw bias against Fiorina. Fortune (3.6 million circulation, 2014), however, is owned by Time Inc., which leans liberal in contrast to Fortune’s conservative rival Forbes (6.1 million circulation).

Gandel quotes Fiorina saying the tech-heavy NASDAQ stock index fell 80% while she was CEO, sending some HP competitors out of business and eliminating all their jobs. Gandel pointed out that Fiorina pegged NASDAQ’s fall from its peak in early 2000 to its early 2003 bottom. But if you look instead at Fiorina’s full 1999-2005 tenure at HP, the corporation’s stock fell 43% even as the NASDAQ dropped just 23%, and IBM’s shares went down only 29%. Gandel did concede other computer companies went out of business.

Here’s the problem with how Gandel rearranges Fiorina’s “80% NASDAQ fall” numbers. She became CEO in July 1999, just as the NASDAQ began a 91% rise over the next eight months to its all-time high. To measure Fiorina's performance from July 1999 during the NASDAQ bubble’s inflation period instead of from her first major decision as HP chief in May 2000, two months after NASDAQ topped out, makes no sense, except to obscure the fact that Fiorina actually started running HP at the peak of the dot.com bubble, giving her little chance for any positive HP stock performance record.  As she correctly points out.  The NASDAQ’s fall from its March 4, 2000 peak to Fiorina’s departure was 59%, greater than the 43% HP decline under her tenure.

Even Gandel admits:
Doing some kind of transformative deal was probably the right call for the company, even if Compaq didn’t work out immediately. Eventually, it led to big changes at HP that were for the best. HP has had some good years since Fiorina left the company. Earnings nearly doubled the year after she left, which Fiorina gets no credit for but probably deserves some.
Much of the credit for HP success goes to the corporation’s shifting emphasis to printers, a shift that occurred under Fiorina’s tenure. HP's printer and server market share did double from 1999 to 2005.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The “T” word: landscape-changing, even when unspoken.

Peggy Noonan, the former Reagan speechwriter, has a weekly Wall Street Journal column. Noonan, like others, is currently focused on Trump.

But her latest column leaves Trump unmentioned, even as she explains why people go for him. Trump talks and acts working class, thus closing the elite-masses gap the way Romney and Jeb! can’t.

Noonan doesn’t say Trump speaks common American. But Trump profits from the very problem Noonan identifies, Noonan knows it, and Noonan expects you know it too.

Here’s Noonan’s writing. Please agree Noonan is without naming Trump explaining the Trump phenom:
this crisis talk of “the elites” is pertinent. The gap between those who run governments and those who are governed has now grown huge and portends nothing good.
Rules on immigration and refugees are made by safe people. These are the people who help run countries, who have nice homes in nice neighborhoods and are protected by their status. Those who live with the effects of immigration and asylum law are those who are less safe, who see a less beautiful face in it because they are daily confronted with a less beautiful reality—normal human roughness, human tensions. Decision-makers fear things like harsh words from the writers of editorials; normal human beings fear things like street crime. Decision-makers have the luxury of seeing life in the abstract. Normal people feel the implications of their decisions in the particular.
The decision-makers feel disdain for the anxieties of normal people, and ascribe them to small-minded bigotries, often religious and racial, and ignorant antagonisms. But normal people prize order because they can’t buy their way out of disorder.
The biggest thing leaders don’t do now is listen. They no longer hear the voices of common people. . . In this age we will see political leaders, and institutions, rock, shatter and fall due to that deafness.
Don’t misunderstand me. Trump talks common, but he goes too far, such as attacking Carly Fiorina's face. He won’t age well; “T” numbers will drop.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Should conservatives want Hillary? Duh!

As a conservative, I hope Democrats nominate Hillary for president. The Republican nominee--whoever he or she is--will defeat this dishonest, corrupt and damaged candidate.

My chief worry is Democrats will realize this fact in time to replace Hillary, or that the Obama-run federal government will indict her for mishandling classified information, and thus force Democrats to nominate someone else.

During Watergate, observers knew by April 1973 it was over for Nixon. Yet it took another 15 months, discovery of taped conversations, and tremendous pressure from the media and his own party to get Nixon finally out of office. Conservatives should hope Hillary, Nixon-like, can hang on through next July’s Democratic convention.

Certainly, Democrats still remain strongly behind Hillary. While acknowledging that “It is true that Clinton made a big mistake using only private emails and took an excruciatingly long time to offer what should have been an easy apology,” liberal Brent Budowsky has just argued that:
Clinton is the most qualified person in the race for the presidency. She was the closest confidant and full partner during the most successful and fondly remembered presidency of modern times, an achievement no other candidate can match.
Yet in an early sign of what’s to come, another liberal, Harry Siegel, yesterday wrote in the New York Daily News:
it’s going to be awfully hard for [Clinton] to change opinions formed over decades, even without months of drip-drip to come from her self-inflicted private email, Clinton Foundation and whatever-else-emerges mess. . . Clinton is setting us up for . . . the circumstance that produces a Republican-dominated government significantly to the right of the American public.
Let’s hope for a government that’s exactly where the American public wants it--effective and honest.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

The Trump Phenom: Wishful Thinking

Michael Barone, with the Washington Examiner, is one of the most astute conservative political observers. Digging into recent polling data on Trump’s lead, Barone notes that
over 40% favorable ratings [are] from voters 50 and over. But his favorable ratings among voters under 35 were only 25% and 28%, while 66-68% of them rated him unfavorably.
Barone explains Trump’s rejection by youth this way: millennials don’t care about Mexican illegals, and they don’t worry about international trade taking American jobs. Older people, caught in the “remember Ross Perot” past, do. Barone then reminds us that facts are on the side of youth. Net migration from Mexico since 2007 is 0, and international trade’s relevance to U.S. jobs has declined along with the world economy.

My take is that Barone is engaging in wishful thinking. The reason youth don’t like Trump is his anti-Mexican rhetoric. Youth are far more non-white than the U.S. population as a whole, and even if they’e Caucasian, their friends aren’t lily white. Youth think Trump is racist, and they don’t like him.

As for older, mostly white people, they don’t care what Barone says about international trade. The U.S. economy sucks, Trump projects extreme (to put it mildly) confidence he can create jobs, so they love him.

Trump. Deal with it.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

TRUMP

Trump, the man and the phenomenon, under attack from both left and right.

Here’s liberal George Packer, writing in the New Yorker:
Populism [demands] simple answers to difficult problems. It’s suspicious of the normal bargaining and compromise that constitute democratic governance. Populism can have a conspiratorial and apocalyptic bent—the belief that the country, or at least its decent majority, is facing imminent ruin at the hands of a particular group of malefactors [i.e., politicians].
[Many] have won the Presidency by seeming to reject or rise above the unlovely business of politics and government. Trump takes it to a demagogic extreme. There’s no dirtier word in the lexicon of his stump speech than “politician.”
Please note: Packer’s “normal bargaining and compromise” takes place among an elite of Democrats and Republicans to which average people feel no connection whatsoever.

And here’s conservative Bret Stephens, sounding off in the Wall Street Journal:
a party that is supposed to believe in the incomparable awesomeness of America thinks we are losing the economic hunger games to the brilliant political leadership of . . . Mexico. [A] movement that is supposed to believe in economic freedom doesn’t believe in the essence of economic freedom: to wit, the free movement of goods, services, capital and labor.
The “party” to which Stephens refers is Stephens’ very own Republican Party. Ah despair, Trump is thy name.

Personally, I don’t believe that the masses can successfully overthrow a united elite. One has to have at least a piece of the elite on one’s side. Hitler had the Reichswehr and many industrialists. Lenin had intellectuals and part of the army. Trump, by himself alone, is rich, but not THAT rich.

So confronted by Trump’s rise, I am calmer than Packer and Stephens. I believe the Trump phenomenon stems from real issues, including the elite’s failure to take care of the economy and bring prosperity to our working class. Trump is right about our porous border and our failure to track down visa overstayers, right about the disconnect between Washington and the country, right about the meritocracy's anti-democratic nature, right to harp on how political correctness attempts to attach votes of those dependent on government to the nation’s liberal elite.

Packer wants Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, to work together. We already know what that means to progressives: “conservatives, listen to your intellectual superiors, and gracefully accept your junior status in the ruling elite.”

Stephens argues for the unfettered free movement of goods and labor, even as ordinary people believe cheap goods and cheap labor are taking jobs away from them. This is a real problem, one Marco Rubio, among others, treats seriously.

The average American isn’t responsive to the Bret Stephens/Wall Street Journal/Mitt Romney agenda bringing globalization with all its consequences to Main Street. The elite-masses disconnect helps explain why elite Republicans are linked to elite Democrats as the problem, not the solution.

And why we must deal with the Trump phenom.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Memo to Conservatives: Abandon Culture Wars

New York Governor Roosevelt (1929-32)
"Never let your opponent pick the battleground on which to fight. If he picks one, stay out of it and let him fight all by himself."

--Franklin D. Roosevelt (1930)

Roosevelt was a political master, winning the White House four times while successfully hiding his inability to walk. Roosevelt’s advice to pick always your own battlefield and never fight on your opponent’s represents the soundest two sentences I’ve seen on winning politics. It echoes the teaching of Chinese 6th century BC military strategist Sun Zi, who in The Art of War wrote, “if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles.”

It’s time conservatives stopped losing the culture wars. It’s time for conservatives to leave liberals to fight “all by themselves” and move to a new battlefield.

There’s evidence conservatives are catching on.

From Ben Domenech, founder of the conservative "Federalist":
Most people speak about issues through the lens of culture, sports, and relationships, not based on elections and legislation. That's why our most popular stories are about sex, pop culture, faith, child-rearing, and more, and why we don't write gauzy profiles of congressmen. [T]he politics of Taylor Swift, Neil de Grasse Tyson, and John Oliver matter a lot more than the politics of another white guy in a Brooks Brothers suit who has a plan to save the country.
From conservative Heather Wilhelm, in “RealClearPolitics”:
Welcome to the culture wars, which have little to do with actual culture, and everything to do with harnessing raw government power. In the wake of [the marriage equality] Supreme Court decision, numerous commentators called on conservative Christians and other same-sex marriage “dissenters” to call the whole thing off. Here’s the weird thing: I suspect that many of them would if they could, at least in the political arena. Many Americans, after all, just want to mind their own business. It’s the ever-growing government, weirdly, that won’t drop the topic—and it’s the ever-growing government, ultimately, that won’t let the culture wars die. If current trends continue, we can expect more of the same.
From Kevin Williamson, writing in the conservative National Review:
there has never been a better time to be anything other than a straight white male in America. Women are thriving in higher education and the workforce. The Supreme Court just declared gay Americans can now marry anyone they please. We have elected and re-elected the nation’s first black president, and there is a good chance he might be followed by the first female president. [emphasis added]
You have to credit the Left: Its strategy is deft. If you can make enough noise that sounds approximately like a moral crisis, then you can in effect create a moral crisis. Never mind that the underlying argument — “Something bad has happened to somebody else, and so you must give us something we want!” — is entirely specious; it is effective. . . Democrats argued that decency compelled us to pass a tax increase in the wake of the [financial] crisis, though tax rates had nothing to do with it.
And again from Benjamin Domenech, along with conservative Robert Tracinski:
The 2004 effort to push state measures designed to stop gay marriage in tandem with George W. Bush’s re-election effort was a Pyrrhic victory, one which contributed to the Great Sort that eliminated the last of the Reagan Democrats. The efforts of religious leaders and traditionalists to win the argument at the ballot box won temporarily, but could not last in a country where [conservatives] no longer controlled the culture or the courts, and where these non-traditional relationships were depicted as healthy and normal on a daily basis in mass media and social media. The eventual triumph of the Counterculture was ensured.
Time to fight elsewhere.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Iran Appeasement: Method Behind Madness?

Both the non-aligned movement -- founded by Yugoslavia’s Tito, India’s Nehru, Indonesia’s Sukarno, Egypt’s Nasser, and Ghana’s Nkrumah -- and Barack Obama were born in 1961.
Barack Obama is successfully destroying traditional U.S. foreign policy. We used to lead the world’s most powerful alliance. Now, Obama has moved us toward a new home in the Third World, nations that grew together in the anti-colonial, anti-white man non-aligned movement that currently controls the U.N. General Assembly.

To over simplify, the Democratic Party is a coalition of government masters and workers, affiliated media, non-profits, crony capitalists, unmarried women, and minorities united against the capitalist white males who project the Republicans’ public image. Isn’t the GOP the party of imperialism, of corrupt, right-wing authoritarian regimes, of military spending over social welfare, of wasteful wars abroad? So why not ground Obama’s “transformative” foreign policy in the nonaligned movement’s traditional anti-colonial roots? Goodbye England, Germany, Israel. Hello Iran, Cuba, and non-aligned movement friend the Soviet Union Russia.

In April we wrote:
Obama has a consistent world view. Growing up as a minority half-black in Hawaii and Indonesia, Obama took comfort in the anti-colonial, anti-European wave of nationalism that swept through the mostly non-white world at the time. He rode that affirmative action tide through Columbia and Harvard Law to safe landing with his impressive black wife in mostly black South Side Chicago. Race remained his co-pilot as he rose through the Illinois State Senate and the U.S. Senate to the White House.
Don’t tell Obama the numbers are against him; he knows better. Israel is the past, much as Great Britain, Western Europe, and the Republican Party are the past. Time to align with a future that includes Iran, Obama’s own “Nixon goes to China” place in history.
The Iran deal makes no sense otherwise. Iran is militant, revolutionary, supporting anti-West, anti-Israel forces in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, Lebanon (Israel’s enemy Hezbollah), the West Bank and Gaza (Israel’s enemy Hamas).  Iran's leaders have just won a big victory! Free to advance its nuclear and missile programs, Iran will threaten all its Sunni Arab neighbors and any Western country where terrorists with nuclear weapons can destroy cities. What madness has descended upon us.

               Neville Chamberlain                               Barack Obama                         
In 1938, the world stood by as Britain and France at Munich signed away the independent nation of Czechoslovakia to Adolf Hitler. Chamberlain was a sincere man who knew, as did his French ally, how in the Western Front trenches, the Great War (1914-18) had destroyed a generation of youth to no apparent purpose. Chamberlain would not allow that to happen again. Vietnam was America’s mini-Great War, and Democrats including Obama are determined the U.S. will avoid any such future wars. Sincere, maybe. Misguided, clearly.

“Better red than dead.” Really?