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 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, 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.