Friday, November 17, 2017
How do you fight hate crimes when so many turn out to be fake? Remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s great “I Have A Dream Speech”, especially “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”? Remember Nina Simone’s great song “To be Young, Gifted, and Black”? Remember the post-racial Presidency of President Barack Hussein Obama? Sadly, race relations today are highly divisive, one year after the post-racial Presidency of President Obama. Race relations are so divisive that a single spark can ignite demonstrations, protests, riots, and vandalism. The spark can range from a police shooting to the posting of graffiti. One racist message is one too many. Yet many of these racist messages now turn out to be fake. One fake racist message is not only one too many, but further fans the flames of racism. Some recent examples sadly show the power of fake racism. Five black cadet candidates last September at the Air Force Academy Preparatory School reported racist messages outside their dorm room. The message said “Go home” with the “N” word. Lt. General Jay Silveria, Superintendent of the Air Force Academy, mustered the entire cadet corps and delivered a strong anti-racism message to the cadets - that racist behavior is unacceptable at the school. One of the five cadets was arrested a week ago for writing the racist remarks. Three incidents rocked the Eastern Michigan University community last spring and this fall. “KKK” was sprayed last September in red, white, and blue on a dormitory wall, coupled with a racial threat that blacks should leave the campus. The “N” word was posted Halloween on a building next to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Monument. The message again ordered blacks to leave the campus. A racist message was left in a men’s restroom stall last spring. EMU erupted after these message. 1080 hours of campus police investigations coupled with local police and FBI led to the arrest of a 29 year old former student three weeks ago. The suspect is Eddie Curlin, an African American. St. Olaf College in Minnesota was wracked with a series of racist messages last spring. A message left on a car on April 29 said “I am so glad that you are leaving soon. One less [N ] that this school has to deal with. You will change nothing. Shut up or I will shut you up.” Demonstrators ensued. Classes were cancelled “so that we may have time for faculty, students, and staff to continue their discussions about racism and diversity on our campus.” The message was fake. Kansas has witnessed several “hate’ messages, two of which at least have been fake. An African American maintenance worker on crack splay painted KKK and a swastika on the wall of the Concord Fortress of Hope Church in Kansas City and set a fire in the building to hide his theft. A car at Kansas State was painted with a racist message. The “N” word was on the rear windshield. Words painted include “White’s only,” “Die”, and “date your own kind.” Dauntarius Williams, the African American owner of the car, later admitted to painting he car. He said it was meant as a Halloween prank. The Bart System in the San Francisco Bay Area has been repeatedly vandalized with racist messages with racist slurs and swastikas. Videos show the perpetrator to be African American. The problem is how do you respond and react to hate crimes when so many turn out to be a hoax?
Sunday, November 12, 2017
The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) unveiled on November 7 an 8’ tall statue of George Orwell, the first public statue of the great political commentator. It is in the piazza of the BBC’s New Broadcasting House, where George Orwell worked for two years during World War II. Eric Blair, best known by his pen name, George Orwell was born in India. The Indian state of Bihar opened a George Orwell Museum in his birthplace in Motihari. (See my January 2, 2010 blog). George Orwell is most famous for his anti-Communist, pro-freedom books, Animal Farm and 1984, which are required reading in England, banned in other countries, and provocative to my generation in high school. Animal Farm gives us the classic “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.” People who have never read 1984 will recognize some of these words and phrases: Big Brother, Doublethink, GroupThink, Thought Police, Newspeak, and Unperson. The Thought Police are a problem today, especially on our campuses. Orwell’s perspective was formed in the Spanish Civil War. He was wounded fighting for the Republicans. He quickly became disillusioned with Stalin and the dictatorial Soviet Union. George Orwell viewed himself as an antiauthoritarian, democratic socialist. He witnessed the disappearance during the Spanish Civil War of objective truth, what we now call “fake news.” He wrote: “In Spain, for the first time, I saw newspaper reports which did not bear any relationship to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie. I saw great battles reported where there had been no fighting, and complete silence where hundreds of men had been killed. I saw troops who had fought bravely denounced as cowards and traitors, and others who had never seen a shot fired hailed as the heroes of imaginary victories.” He continued: “The very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. Lies will pass into history … If the leader says of such and such event, ‘it never happened. If he says that two and two are five - well two and two are five.” His description of fake news prophesizes today’s news. 1984 presages the omnipresent CCTV today. The Orwell Statue is an act of Orwellian Irony. George Orwell abhorred statues, monuments, and even the BBC. He once said: “That seems to be a fixed rule in London. Whenever you do by chance have a distant vista, block it up with the ugliest statue you can find.” He also called the BBC’s atmosphere in his diary as “something halfway between a girl’s boarding school and a lunatic asylum.” He resigned from the BBC in 1943. He wrote in his letter of resignation: “For some time past I have been conscious that I was wasting my time and the public money on doing work that produces no result …. I feel that by going back to my normal work of writing and journalism that I could be more useful than I am at present.” His more productive work was Animal Farm in 1945 and 1984 in 1949. George Orwell stood a gangly 6”2”. The statue has him leaning forward with his hands sticking out, one of which contained his ever-present cigarette. He refused to quit smoking despite the tuberculosis that was killing him. A famous Orwell quote from Animal Farm is the inscription on the wall behind the Orwell statue: “If liberty means anything at all’ it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
Sunday, November 5, 2017
Hollywood proclaims strong belief in the First Amendment and Freedom of Speech. It is a powerful proponent of Free Speech. Rank hypocrisy. Not historically for complainants of Hollywood’s fabled casting couch or conservatives. Some actors and actresses were reputed to have slept themselves to stardom. If so, that was probably consensual. However, sex under physical force or coercion is not consensual. It is rape. Consent while drugged or intoxicated is not consent; it is rape. Bill Cosby may still get convicted. Sexual relations with underage boys or girls is statutory rape, commonly referred to as pedophilia. Roman Polanski is not the only Hollywood luminary who is a pedophile. Kevin Spacey is now seeking counseling. Kevin Spacey’s House of Cards has collapsed. The serial groper is now seeking counseling’ just like Harvey Weinstein, the serial rapist. And just like Harvey Weinstein, he was emboldened by getting away with It in the past. 7-9 days of counseling, as with Harvey Weinstein, is not going to cure 3-4 decades of sexual assaults. The consistent pattern by several Hollywood notables does more than reflect an assertion of power over the powerless. It is a reflection of a psychologically sick person who is so emboldened by their success that they can no control their rampaging libido. Boorish behavior can legally constitute sexual harassment, but the Hollywood complainants assert more than boorish behavior. They claim a wide variety of physical attacks: rape, exhibitionism, forced oral sex, and groping. They are claiming rape, sexual assaults, batteries, and emotional distress. Only after several brave actresses and models were willing to talk to the New York Times and Ronan Farrow of The New Yorker was the conspiracy of silence breached. A tsunami of Hollywood victims came forward. Many of the perpetrators were sadly well known in Hollywood for their transgressions; Harvey Weinstein, James Toback, Kevin Spacey, et al. The growing list of includes agents, actors, directors, executives, and producers, including Brett Ratner, Bill Shine, and Tyler Grasham, head an ever expanding list. Some have accused the victims of being accomplices because of their failure to come forward until now. The victims understood that their careers would fail as they would be ostracized in the industry. They also understood that they would be engaged in an exercise of futility; nothing would happen to the perpetrators. They knew that the accused sexual harasser Casey Affleck recently won an OSCAR as best supporting actor. They know the pedophile Roman Polanski received a standing ovation when he won an Oscar in 2003 for directing The Pianist. They also know that Hollywood started a petition seeking a pardon for the pedophile. Not an expression of sympathy for his victim(s)! They know President Bill Clinton got away with rape and "beloved" Senator Ted Kennedy survived the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. Artistic, but especially commercial success, can bring you forgiveness, tolerance and even enablers in Hollywood. The victims also understand the orthodoxy of Hollywood. Prop 8 was the contentious anti-gay marriage state constitutional amendment in California. Courts subsequently struck it down. Several prominent creative voiced were either fired or forced to resign for supporting Prop 8. Brendan Eich, CEO of Mozilla, was forced out for supporting Prop 8. Hs crime was donating $1,000 to the Yes on 8 Campaign. The same fate awaited Richard Raddon, Director of the Los Angeles Film Festival for donating $1,500 to the Yes on 8 Campaign. Hollywood also does not believe in Freedom of Religion. Scott Eckern, Artistic Director of the California Musical Theater in Sacramento paid the price for following his Mormon beliefs in contributing $1,000 to the campaign. So did Marjorie Christoffersen, manager of the El Coyote restaurant in Los Angeles. Her donation was only $100. The same Hollywood culture that prevented victims from speaking out also silences conservatives in Hollywood. Conservatives get the message. Unless they are a superstar in Hollywood, they are to remain in the conservative closet. The problem transcends Hollywood. It extends to D.C. and Sacramento, and now London, The California Legislature has now spent over a half million dollars in recent years settling sexual harassment claims; that is, California taxpayers have wasted $580,000 satisfying illegal conduct by legislators and staffers. One final thought; A few actors were ridiculed in the past for getting caught paying for sex, notably Hugh Grant and Eddie Murphy. Paying is far different from forcing!!!!!!
Friday, October 20, 2017
Hollywood is notorious for the casting couch, which we now know includes pedophilia, statutory rape, rape, and other forms of sexual assault. Past studio moguls known for the casting couch include Harry Cohn of Columbia, Darryl Zanuck of Fox, and Samuel Goldwyn and Louis B. Mayer of MGM. Errol Flynn and Roman Polanski enjored under age women. Arnold Schwarzenegger was no saint. They all did it because they could. Hollywood stood and applauded when Roman Polanski won an Oscar in 2002. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has expelled Harvey Weinstein, but Bill Cosby and Roman Polanski remain members. Harvey Weinstein did it because they did. Harvey Weinstein, now sometimes nicknamed Harvey Swinestein, may be the lowest of the low, but he is certainly not alone. Harvey Swinestein may be a pig, but he is certainly not alone. Harvey Weinstein’s sordid tale of misconduct is revolting and repulsive, but he’s not alone. Hollywood is known for arrogance, bravado, bullies and egomaniacs. Harvey Weinstein excelled in these. He was arrogant and a bully beyond the norm, but he is not alone. Harvey Weinstein did it because he could, but he’s not alone. Dozens of actresses and models are coming forward with despicable tales of sexual harassment by directors and producers, and to a lesser extent, actors. Yet, no matter how reprehensible the tales are, they are not naming names. Alyssa Milano asked others to #MeToo if they were harassed. Scores have, including Monica Lewinsky. Sorry Monica, but a long period of consensual sex does not constitute sexual harassment. Therein lies the problem. First, without proof, they would be open to a defamation suit. Second, they remain scared of being cut off in Hollywood. Very few producers, directors and studio leaders are women, who could protect them. Directing and producing remains primarily a man’s world in Hollywood even though women and making strides. The men who protected Harvey Weinstein are still in power. A lot of directors and producers are undoubtedly consulting their lawyers these days. Everybody knew, but nobody acted. To do so would be to commit Hollywood suicide. Look at Tippi Hayden. She disappeared after The Birds and Marnie. She claims Alfred Hitchcock blackballed her in Hollywood because she would not submit to his aggression. She paid a steep price. Actresses warned other actresses, but it was on the Q.T. Few dared to go public. Jane Fonda said she knew a year ago, but is now ashamed of staying quiet. Yet she is not naming names. She’ll rather go to North Vietnam and pose on a North Vietnam anti-aircraft gun for propaganda against the United States rather than name names in Hollywood. Quentin Tarantino said he knew, but is now sorry he didn’t do anything. Yes, he did; he continued to produce his movies with Harvey. It was economic. It took the New York Times and New Yorker Magazine to bare the bare facts about Harvey Weinstein, but they could only do so because a few brave actresses were willing to talk. Hollywood cheered the fall of Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly at Fox, ignoring its sordid record. Many actors and actresses sleep around. We should be careful to not confuse promiscuity with the casting couch. This problem is different from when Hollywood would not name the gays and lesbians in its community. It’s different because these directors and producers are hurting people whereas outing gays and lesbians could hurt their careers. Rumors always circulated to the general public about individual actors and actresses, but few people really cared. They weren’t hurting anyone. The Church covered up clergy abuse for decades and reassigned the priests to other parishes. The pedophile priests were hurting young boys. It’s not just Hollywood and the Church. Politics can bring out the worst animal behavior in some men, including Presidents Clinton, Johnson, and Kennedy while in office as President. Senator Teddy Kennedy was notorious for his philandering. Some members of Congress proclaim one thing, and do another. It goes down to the local level. Some politicians are susceptible to corruption and sexism. The stories are beginning to emerge in sports, especially in women’s gymnastics. Sexual harassment exists in many occupations and professions. Silicon Valley, in its short existence, suffers from sexism, if not sexual harassment. By no means, not all or presumably a majority of men! But one is one too many. Harvey Weinstein is now learning a fundamental lesson of success: Be nice to those you pass on the way up. You may see them again on the way down!
Thursday, October 5, 2017
We hear and read how divisive a voice President supposedly is. And yet, what about Ex CBS Vice President and senior counsel Hayley Geftman-Gold who posted on Facebook after the Vegas killings: “If they wouldn’t do anything when children were murdered I have no hope that Repugs will ever do the right thing … I’m actually not even sympathetic bc country music fans often are Republican gun toters."? Those who have online threatened Ms. Geftman-Gold with violence? Michelle Obama? “No wonder people don’t trust politics” because the Republican Party is “all men, all white.” Hillary Clinton calling Trump supporters “deplorable?” Hillary Clinton calling women who supported Donald Tump “publicly disrespecting themselves?” Massachusetts Democratic representatives Seth Moulton and Katherine Clark who refused to observe the Congressional moment of silence for the Las Vegas victims? Nancy Sinatra, who tweeted and then deleted “murderous members of the NRA shoud be executed by a firing squad.” ESPN commentator Jemele Hill who posted: “Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded w/other white supremacists,” subsequently added “Trump is the most ignorant, offensive president of my lifetime. His rise is a direct result of white supremacy. Period.” One more: “He is unqualified and unfit to be president. He is not a leader. He is not a leader. And if he were not white, he never would have been elected.” Ithaca College Professor Stephen Mosher who called “God Bless America” a “warmongering song.” Controversial Drexel Professor George Ciccarielo-Maher (2016 – “All I want for Christmas is white genocide”) “White people and men” go on shooting sprees “when they don’t get what they want.” Duke Professor Jay Pearson for calling President Trump a “textbook racist”? Smithburg High School history teacher Joshua Cramer, who posted his rule: “Trump is a symbol of racism and bigotry. As I did last year, students wearing Trump or MAGA apparel are asked to leave. Let them come after me for it.” Val State Fullerton Professor Eric Canin who attempted to rip a sign out of a college republican’s hands and then hit another college Republican in the face? Fresno State Professor Lars Maischak tweeting “To save American democracy, trump must hang. The sooner and higher, the better?” Imagine, liberals advocating lynching? Professor Maischak further tweeting “Justice = The execution of two republicans for ech deported Immigrant”? More from Professor Maischak: “If only Mary had an abortion! We would have been spared this Clerical-Fascist crap”? Clemson Professor Bart Knijnenburg on Facebook calling “all Republicans “racist” and “scum”? Cambridgeport Elementary School librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro who returned a gift of Dr. Seuss books from First lady Melania Trump on National Read a Book Day to the First Lady, saying the Seuss illustrations are "stepped in racist propaganda,caricatures, and harmful stereotypes."? How about her calling Dr. Seuss "a bit of a cliche" as well as "a tired and worn ambassador for children's literature."? Elgin, Illinois School Board member Traci O'Neal Ellis who posted on Facebook "That flag means nothing more than toilet paper to me."? The professoriate and academic Neanderthals who chill speech and muzzle conservatives on campus? Colin Kaepernick and the NFL?
Saturday, September 30, 2017
The Hubris of Roger Goodell and the NFL In the immortal words of Mad Magazine’s Alfred E. Neuman: “What, me worry?” These are trying times for the NFL. The owners and players are rolling in dough. Almost all games are sellouts. The NFL is back in Los Angeles. NFL teams have received $3.2 billion in stadium subsidies. $7 billion annually in TV contracts with CBS, ESPN, Fox, NBC, and DirecTV. Unlike professional baseball and hockey, they don’t have to support minor league teams; the colleges are their minor league. Even the most incompetent owners of chronically losing teams earn a large profit from the NFL. Commissioner Goodell earned $31.7 million in 2015 and $174.1 million over seven years. His motto: “What, me worry?” He’s getting a five year contract extension through 2024. What, Roger worry? What’s the buyout? The Commissioner started out in the NFL as an intern. He is the living exemplar of the Peter Principle in action. Beer and jersey sales are in the stratosphere. The Dallas Cowboys became “America’s Team.” Baseball was America’s Pastime; now it’s football. The Boys of Summer aren’t worshiped anymore. Colin Kaepenick took a knee last year and is out of the League. The NFL is taking a knee this year. The NFL now believes it is bigger than the fans. The hubris of the NFL. NASCAR understands its fan base. One owner said the crew members could stand, or take the Greyhound Bus back. The NFL's swans headquarters are at 345 Park Avenue in Manhattan. Perhaps they should move back to Columbus or dayton. They have forgotten their fan base in what New Yorkers often derisively refer to as "Flyover Country." The NFL celebrated America’s military, but charged the Pentagon $6.1 million to do so. NFL, look to the University of Missouri. We go to the movies and watch TV, both for entertainment, and to escape from the real world and its problems. So too with athletic events! We don’t go to the movies, watch TV, or football games for politics. We can do that with CNN, Fox, and MSNBC. President Trump in a simple tweet made it about the American Flag and the National Anthem. The Flag is our symbol. Our men and women have died under, and been wounded and maimed under the Flag. They salute the Flag to honor the Flag and country. The players say it’s about oppression, inequality and the President. President Trump’s patriotic tweets trump the NFL players. They cry oppression. 25 year old pampered, self-indulgent multi-millionaires present a poor case for oppression. Many of the players decry inequality. The highly paid players are a symbol and beneficiary of inequality. High ticket prices, gouging food and beverage prices, inflated prices for merchandise made in sweatshops overseas, resulting in high salaries, that’s the NFL inequality. Give it back to your community. 25 year old basketball, football, and baseball players with histories of alcohol, drugs, domestic violence, and illegitimate children are not role models for America. Their athletic success is a role model for aspiring athletes. Leave it at that. We hardly ever hear of the lives of the scores of players who are solid citizens and loyal family men. We hear of the miscreants on and off the field. Similarly, I don’t care what Hollywood celebrities profess and proclaim, but I find their mug shots and rap sheets amusing. Freedom of speech? Not really! Freedom of speech does not legally exist in the private sector. It is a constitutional guarantee against actions of the government, but does not apply to private action. However, we respect their right to protest, by words or symbols. Actions have consequences. Just as the players can state their positions, the public has every right to respond by not buying their tickets and merchandise, attending their games, or watching their games on TV. The President has the same right to speak out as the players. President Trump has every right to use the President’s Bully Pulpit to call out the players. They’ll show President Trump. They’ll kneel, hold hands, stay inside, and stand for God Bless the Queen in England. That’ll show Trump. And the American public! Solidarity of the players. The hubris of the players and the Commissioner. Their arrogance betrays the basic maxim: “Don’t bite the hand the feeds you.” Who’s right? The NFL or President Trump? Initial fan resistance may be a trickle or a torrent. Even if a trickle, a trickle can build on a trickle and turn into a flood. These are the early keys to the answer: 1) TV Viewership, but that can be ambiguous and reflect multiple causes; 2) Game attendance; 3) DirecTV refunds for the NFL Football Sunday package; 4) Resale ticket prices on StubHub; and 5) Jersey and merchandise sales. The owners, successful entrepreneurs, understand. The NFL does not.
Saturday, September 16, 2017
Law school Professors Larry Alexander of San Diego and Amy Wax of Penn published an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer on August 9, 2017. It is entitled “Paying the price for the breakdown of the country’s ‘bourgeois’ culture.” They were responding to the breakdown in American values today: the drug culture, single motherhood, the decline of adult males in the workplace, and college students lacking the basic skills needed in college. The blame it on the breakdown of America’s bourgeois culture. They wrote that the bourgeois culture of the late 1940’s into the mid-1960’s, in essence the post war America up to Vietnam, “laid out the script we are all supposed to follow: Get married before you have children and strive to stay married for their sake. Get the education you need for gainful employment, work hard, and avoid idleness. Go the extra mile for your employer or client. Be a patriot, ready to serve the country. Be neighborly, civic-minded, and charitable. Avoid coarse language in public. Be respectful of authority. Eschew substance abuse and crime ….” These are, of course, traditional American values, which are falling by the wayside in much of society today. I wouldn’t call it “bourgeois culture”, but a unique American culture. Whenever I head “bourgeois” I think of a phrase from 5-6 decades ago: “decadent bourgeois capitalism.” They wrote “Not all cultures are equal.” They are not equal to responding to the needs of being “productive in an advanced economy.” That is irrefutable. Cultures with slavery, female genital utilization, honor killings, forced marriages, rampant sexism, or cannibalism are not equal. Neither are totalitarian governments. American society of two centuries ago is not a good or equal paradigm for today, but America grew and evolved. The Ottoman Culture was not equal to Ataturk’s culture. They further wrote: “This cultural script began to break down in the late 1960’s. A combination of factors – prosperity, the Pill, the expansion of higher education, and the doubts surrounding the Vietnam War – encouraged an anti-authoritarian, adolescent, wish-fulfillment ideal – sex, drugs and rock-and-roll – that was unworthy of, and unworkable for, a mature, prosperous adult society. This era saw the beginnings of identity politics that inverted the color-blind aspirations of civil rights leaders like the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. into an obsession with race, ethnicity, gender and now sexual preference.” The “bourgeois” values were more successful in creating economic growth and the great American middle class than the current breakdown in values. I do not necessarily agree with all their points. The post-World War II period was a time of great economic growth and optimism. The United States was the only major Word War II combatant with an intact industrial base. The sky seemed the limit. Even the nascent Civil Rights Movement, beginning with the Montgomery Bus Boycott, was achieving success. A core value existed. Shared values, American values were honored and respected throughout the country. The prevailing attitude was “can do;” anything was possible and achievable. The nuclear family was the model with dad working and mom staying at home. The public schools were excellent. Civics and American History were taught in the schools to highlight the American Spirit. Taxes were low and the middle class was growing. It added up to American Exceptionalism. America knew who it was. Americans knew who they were. Americans had a common, core understanding. The culture that arose in the 13 colonies, the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution was a combination of the Judeo-Christian heritage, British values, and American self-dependence. The young republic created an unique culture in world history. It set out a welcoming mat, sometimes selectively, out to the world. The Statue of Liberty became the symbol to the world. One of the greatest contributions of the Founding Fathers was creating a government based on the Rule of Law rather than the Rule of Man. President Obama led the way in ignoring the Constitution and the Rule of Law, appointing judges who do not believe in the Rule of Law or the Constitution. The American culture was not limited to whites; it was open to all. Much of the genius of America is assimilation. Each wave of immigrants added to the American Republic. The key for all was the work ethic. They assimilated into the American culture, the white bourgeois culture if you want, for that was the path to success. Generation after generation of immigrants followed that path to success in America. I see it most recently with the Hispanic, Persian and Vietnamese students in my classes. Professor Wax was interviewed in the Daily Pennsylvanian. She was quoted a saying “Everyone wants to go to countries ruled by white Europeans … because Anglo-Protestant cultural norms are superior.” She never said that, but the quote is a red flag for attacking her for “white privilege.” It’s not in the August 9 op-ed. However, it would have been a valid, but incendiary, point to the campus leftists if she had said it. Not many would have predicted during the Dark Ages that western civilization would rise. Most of the population was illiterate. Islamic scholars were the geniuses of the time. Nation states had yet to arise. Then came the Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment, the Age of Exploration, and the Industrial Revolution from western Europe. History tells us that it was white western Europeans that rose out of darkness. It wasn’t the Aztecs, Incas, or Mayans. Nor was it the Ottomans, Persians, Egyptians, Romanoffs, Chinese or Japanese. Much of the world remained bands or tribes while western Europe was developing into nation states. Ferdinand and Isabel United Spain and dispatched Columbus to find a route to India, but the Spanish Inquisition is not a virtue of western Europe's history and culture.. By no means is White Civilization necessarily superior. Think of Hitler and Nazi Germany or Stalin and the Soviet Union. Think of the western European civilization of the Dark Ages. Professors Alexander and Wax had to foresee in a blowback in today’s charged academic environment, but they had the courage to publish it. They also have tenure, as do I. 33 of Professor Wax’s law school colleagues penned an open letter to the Penn Community. It begins “We write to condemn recent comments our colleague … has made in popular media pieces,” followed by a short paragraph of her remarks. It continues “Wax has every right to express her views publicly free from fear of legal sanctions thanks to the First Amendment, and she may do so without fear for her job due to her position as a tenured faculty member at Penn.” That is a gross misstatement from very bright law professors. She has no First Amendment Protections because the First Amendment applies only to the government – not private entities such as the University of Pennsylvania. The 33 professors wrote: “We do not question those rights, or the important role that principles of academic freedom play at our university. But Wax’s right to express her opinions does not make her statements right, nor insulate her from criticism.” They then write, without any reasons “We categorically reject Wax’s claims.” So much for civility and collegiality with this exercise of Orwellian groupthink. The double standard in the academy is clear. Seemingly the most extreme views on the left are protected. Say anything negative you want about President Trump or Republicans, and it will not only be accepted by the Academy but even rewarded on occasion. No collective group of faculty criticize these extremists. Conversely, conservative views are denounced, ridiculed, demonized, and attacked. The speakers are pilloried and sometimes physically attacked. Both Professors Alexander and Wax have been the subject of student petitions seeking their removal from required first year courses. The Penn Law Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild issued a statement: “While we do not challenge Professor Wax’s right to express her views, we question whether it is appropriate for her to continue to teach a required first-year course. The Penn Law administration has long been aware that her bigoted views inevitably seep into her words and actions in the classroom and in private conversations with students. We call on the administration to consider more deeply the toll that this takes on students, particularly students of color and members of the LGBTQIA community, and to consider whether it is in the best interests of the school and its students for Professor Wax to continue to teach a required first year course. Exposure to a diversity of viewpoints is an essential and valuable part of any educational experience, but no student should have to exposed to bigotry or abuse in the classroom.” They called the op-ed an “explicit and implicit endorsement of white supremacy.” They view Professor wax’s comments as a “textbook example of white supremacy and cultural elitism.” I view it as a textbook example of free speech. The students fail to see the implications of their proposal, because, of course, their’s the only side. The corollary to liberals disqualifying conservative professors is for conservatives to disqualify liberal professors from required courses. Members of the Federalist Society would have a field day disqualifying liberal professors, including the vast majority of Constitutional Law professors. Abortion, Affirmative Action, Gay Rights, Gun Control, and Immigration raise strong passions on both sides, but may only have one perspective presented by the faculty. The result would be sheer chaos in law schools. Of course, any conservative so acting faces the risk of a vicious and perhaps violent attack from the left. The NLG’s co-chair in a separate email accused Professor Wax of endorsing white supremacy and segregation (which she has not done) as well as lacking academic rigor, being intellectually dishonest, and failing to support her opinions with evidence. Once again the left resorts to ad hominem attacks rather than reason! The Black Law Student Association at San Diego made a similar request to disqualify Professor Alexander. BALSA’s letter wrote “Those who romanticize an era of segregation and unequal rights are being disingenuous at best and racist at worse.” One of the problems in America today is that both sides on the left and right can become so imbued in their dogma that they don’t actually look at the opposing arguments and statements. Professors Alexander and Wax acknowledged that “there was racial discrimination, sexism, and pockets of anti-Semitism” during the period of the 1950’s and 1960’s. They added “steady improvements for women and minorities were underway even when bourgeois norms reigned.” A provocative op-ed in the past would have prompted serious discussion and thought. Today though, especially on our campuses, it becomes the spark for shrill, unreasoned attacks. Yes, the values of 5-6 decades ago are fading fast in today’s America.
Sunday, September 10, 2017
Equifax Pulls a Trifecta. Equifax announced last Thursday that it had discovered on July 29 that it had been hacked. Up to 143 million personal files may have been accessed: social security numbers, birthdates, addresses, and perhaps driver licenses. About 55% of the American adult population is now at risk. It was the third known hack of the year for Equifax. A bad day for Equifax is potentially a calamity for 143 million people. The second leg of the trifecta was Equifax’s response. Three executives, including John Gamble, the chief financial officer, sold $1.8 million in Equifax shares within four days of the breach. That’s insider trading. The trio are looking at criminal and civil penalties and disgorgement. Equifax’s claim is that they were unaware of the breach. Hence, it’s just a coincidence. That might work if the sales were pursuant to a routine, planned sale, but it’s not. Equifax did not notify the public of the July breach until July 7, almost six weeks after the breech. The company has some explaining to do. The third leg of the trifecta compounds Equifax’s public relations disaster. It offered a free one year-credit monitoring, but the fine print included a waiver of any legal claims against Equifax. The company is about to run through a gauntlet of litigation. Two class action suits were filed against it Friday, with more to follow. It will also face Congressional hearings, state attorney generals, and regulatory agencies. Legal costs and settlements will claim a big percent of its annual sales of $3.1 billion. Shareholders can forget about dividends and capital appreciation for years. Equifax should have learned a lesson from Target about the dangers of a computer breach. Target was hacked December 2013 the week before Christmas. 40 million credit and debit cards were compromised. Target incurred costs of $292 million in resolving the claims. About $90 million was covered by a cypher insurance policy, leaving Target’s cost of $202 million. Equifax has a checkered history. It was earlier known as Retail Credit Company of America. Its practices and mistakes, along with its creditors, led to Congressional enactment in 1970 of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The problem for us as consumers is that we cannot boycott Equifax. We are not its customers because we do not deal directly with it. Its customers are banks, retailers et al who seek credit reports on companies and individuals will have to shift their business to Equifax’s competitors.
Friday, September 8, 2017
Memo to Senator McConnell, Speaker Ryan and Congressional Republicans: President Trump's "Art of the Deal" is a Deal, Even with Democrats if necessary.
Donald J. Trump ran for President as a Republican. Americans elected President Trump to get thing done in Washington. He’s tried working with the Congressional Republicans. They failed him and the American people on ObamaCare. They claimed to have repeal and replace in place after seven years of running against ObamaCare. They failed. They claimed to have a tax reform bill in place for a quick introduction in Congress. We still haven’t seen it after eight months. They were dithering over raising the debt limit. They couldn’t get budget bills through. The Senate is slow-walking his appointments. Senate Majority Leader McConnell, Speaker Ryan, and other prominent Republicans join the media chorus and Democrats in trashing the President. Enough is enough! President Trump is a man of action. He is not a traditional American politician. Indeed, he was a Democrat much of his adult life. He represents traditional American values. The relationship between President Trump and the Congressional Republicans is not one of mutual loyalty and respect, but of a forced marriage in which neither party is free to leave, but both can stray. He pledged to “Drain the Swamp.” The Washington Swamp, including Republicans, has proven to be deeper with a more glutinous viscosity than expected. He sent a message to the Congressional Republicans with DACA and the debt ceiling. If they can’t get it done, then he will work with Democrats. Some Congressional Republicans are seething over the Trump “betrayal.” They have only themselves to blame. The agreement between the President and Congressional Democrats lifted the debt ceiling for three months, and provided a continuing resolution for funding the government, all of which is attached to a $15 billion relief bill for Hurricane Harvey. The Republicans need to understand that when the President deals with Senator Schumer and Representative Pelosi the Republicans are going to be very unhappy with the results. They will not get as much as they could have working with the President. Nor should they. President Trump gave Congress six months to fix DACA. The Republicans can legislate relief to the Dreamers with border security, probably not a continuous wall, or watch the President and Democrats enact DACA, perhaps amnesty, with little border security. They can work with the President on meaningful, economy boosting tax relief, or watch the Democrats muck it up with President Trump. Many of them can also watch themselves be voted out of office in 2018, either in the primaries or the general election.
Friday, September 1, 2017
“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities It is the best of times with Jim Harbaugh as head coach. It may be the worse year yet under Jim Harbaugh after two 10-3 seasons. Much is expected of Team 138. Much is fretful of Team 138. I started at Michigan in 1970. This is the first year when I am clueless about the team. We don’t know yet if Michigan has reached the ability of Nick Saban at Alabama and Urban Meyer at Ohio State to reload every year. I quickly learned in in the early years of the great Bo Schembechler that the Wolverines would lose the last game of the season – either to Ohio State or in a bowl game. But hope always sprang eternal. Then Michigan might win the last game, but would have lost a midseason game to an unranked Big ten team. It all came together in the 1997 season when the Wolverines went undefeated during the season, beat Washington State in the Rose Bowl, and claimed a share of the national title. Then back to normal. Great winning seasons, but always a setback. Michigan was 10-2-1 against Ohio State. Ohio State’s great coaches, Jim Tressel and Urban Myer, have flipped that number. Michigan has only defeated the Buckeyes once in the past 14 games. Lloyd Carr’s last season, 1997, was the turning point. The slide began with the opening game exactly 10 years ago on September 1, 1997. Michigan lost at home 34-32 to Appalachian State, and was then blown out the next week at home by Oregon. The team went on a winning streak, but lost the last two season games to Wisconsin and Ohio State. The team redeemed itself by defeating Florida and Urban Meyer 41-35 in the Citrus Bowl. Goodbye Lloyd; Hello Rich Rod, a good coach, but the wrong coach at the wrong school at the wrong time. 3-9, 5-7, 7-6. Goodbye Rich Rod. Hello Brady Hoke. 11-2 with a win over Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. Michigan was back. Or not 8-5 7-6 5-7 Goodbye Brady, a good coach, wonderful person, but not tough enough on the players. Hello Harbaugh, the true successor to Bo and Woody. Every player has to learn his position, especially as a starter, at all times. 10-3, blowing out Florida 41-7 in the Citrus Bowl, Last year, great promise, with a 9-0 start, but then three losses in the final four games by a total of five points. The problem this year is in the dozens. 19 players from last year have signed pro contracts. Only 5 starters return, just on defense. The best defensive backfield in college last season – gone. The receiver corps – gone. The offensive line – mostly gone. Youth and inexperience can jell by the end of the season. Michigan has four difficult games on its schedule: Florida, Penn State, Wisconsin, and Ohio State. The big unknown is the first game against Florida on Saturday, September 2. If the Wolverines defeat the Gators, then they are on the road a great record. If not, it may be a long season. The problem with the Florida game is that it is the first game of the college season. This is the game players show their inexperience and lack of cohesion by making stupid plays and penalties. Michigan has inexperience. Florida has ten players on indefinite suspension, including the star receiver and starting running back. Mistakes may decide the game. Michigan’s consistent problem over the past decade is winning on the road. Penn State and Wisconsin are away games. Wisconsin is the week before Ohio State, which means, win or lose, the wolverines will be banged up when they play Ohio State. A great season will be 3-1 against Florida, Penn State, Wisconsin, and Ohio State. A really good season will be a win against The Ohio State University. They could also lose all four, making for a dreadful season. Injuries can also make a difference. Too many Michigan quarterbacks played Ohio State with limited passing ability because of injuries. For example, Michigan’s Wilton Speight suffered a shoulder injury in the Iowa game last year and lost his effectiveness over the remaining three games, including losses to Ohio State and Florida State. Injuries to quarterbacks and running backs are also caused by Michigan’s inconsistent offensive lines over the past decade. Coach Harbaugh is Old School. He loves a power running game with tight ends and fullbacks. He did it at Stanford. He’s still not there at Michigan. My prediction: 10-2 in the regular season. My optimistic fantasy: 15-0.
Sunday, August 27, 2017
Governor John Kasich is eyeing the White House. The Never-Trumper is appalled by the tone emanating from the White House. He sees a polarizing electorate. He visualizes the ultimate voter turnoff in 2020 – Trump v. Warren in the Presidential race. He senses the need for a new tone in American politics; a mellow tone. Governor Kasich wants to offer the American people a third way. He thus sent out a trial balloon last week for a unity, bi-partisan Kasich/Hickenlooper Ticket in 2020. The young John Kasich was a Reagan Republican when he served in Congress from 1983-2001. He was a budget hawk, balancing both the federal budget and later the Ohio budget when he became Governor of Ohio. Congress. Today he is a compassionate Republican who did not connect with the base of the Republican Party in a 2016 campaign for the Presidency. He won his home state of Ohio in the primary season and one electoral vote in January. Governor Kasich’s platform will be “Medicaid for All,” building on his record in Ohio, accepting the Medicaid Extension of ObamaCare over the objections of the Ohio Legislature. He won reelection in 2014 as Governor two years ago by 30 points, unlike Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado who barely won reelection by an underwhelming 49-46%. Governor Kasich is popular in Ohio, riding a ‘high.” That brings us to his choice as his VEEP partner, the Democratic Governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, Governor Hickenlooper’s platform will be “A Colorado Mountain High for All.” Free marijuana for all; no longer will Mary Jane be grown as a weed in Ohio. It’s a perfect ticket: Marijuana and Medicaid. Medicaid for all resolves the inequality in today’s America. All Americans will have equal access to medical care under Medicaid, which means an equal lack of access to medical care under Medicaid. It’s the perfect entitlement – perfectly equal. Promise it to everyone! That’s the beauty of free dope. Get high; stay stoned, mellow out, and you’ll never feel the pain of your medical ailments. You won’t notice, or care, about the lack of medical care. Just toke up. A side benefit to the government is that cannabis contains carcinogen, thereby perhaps earlier mortality, reducing social security benefits. From Colorado to Ohio, the Great Plains will be covered with amber waves of grass. Plant the vast plains of Detroit. Grow it and tax it. The Unity Ticket will have to run as independents. Neither Party will want them. Their new political party will be The Toker Party. The motto: “Free Dope for All Your Medical Needs.” The biggest obstacles are the voters. The Kasich/Hickenlooper Unity voters will be too strung out to vote. Free dope for the dopes who support the Unity Ticket.
Saturday, August 26, 2017
Once again the media shows its bias and double-standard between Democrats and Republicans. President Trump pardoned former Maricopa County Sheriff Jos Arpaio yesterday, as promised. The Sheriff was found guilty in June of a misdemeanor contempt of court by a judge for violating a judicial order Sheriff Arpaio was defeated for reelection last November two weeks after the Obama Justice formally filed charges against him in a clear political charged prosecution. The media is outraged at the pardon of the "old school” sheriff, who was stridently anti- illegal immigration. You might think President Trump pardoned a traitor, terrorist, or drug dealer, which President Obama had done. “America’s sheriff made many enemies, especially civil liberty advocates, in his 24 years as Maricopa County Sheriff. The media is again hurling charges of racism against President Trump. They were quiescent last year when President Obama commuted the sentence of Chelsea Manning, the previous Bradley Manning who betrayed the United States in 2010 by leaking 750,000, often confidential, files to Wikileaks, which quickly published them. They were equally quiet when President Obama on January 17, 2017 commuted the sentence of Oscar Lopez Rivera, an unrepentant Puerto Rican terrorist, who admitted to many acts of terrorism and violence in seeking Puerto Rican independence. President Obama freed a traitor and a terrorist without a murmur by the media. President Obama also released 201 GITMO detainees, Islamic terrorists, during his eight years in office. The media had no problem in President Obama freeing them to return to terrorism. Also on January 17, 2017 in one of his last official acts, President Obama released 330 drug dealers from federal prison. He called them low level dealers, but some were major dealers and kingpins in the drug trade. The media displayed no outrage when President Obama freed a traitor, domestic terrorist, Islamic terrorists, and drug dealers.
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
It’s hard to come up with anything good to say about the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists. I can’t, except to say they have the First Amendment right to peacefully demonstrate and protest. The American Civil Liberties Committee (ACLU) and Los Angeles Times share that view. The City of Charlottesville attempted to move the permitted march to another location away from the Robert E. Lee Statue. The ACLU represented the organizations in defending their First Amendment rights. It’s easy to condemn the KKK, neo-Nazis and White Supremacists with their history of hatred and violence and blame the violence in Charlottesville on them. Yet Antifa in its short life has engaged in several violent demonstrations as they believe they have the right to confront “violent” organizations with violence even if the demonstrators are acting peacefully. And yet the police stood back as the violence unfolded. I don’t care what phrase the South uses for the Civil War. They can refer to it as the War Between the States, That Recent Unpleasantness, The War of Northern Aggression, The Lost Cause, The Noble Cause; it doesn’t matter. They lost. The slaves were freed, at least from slavery, but they had to wait another century for freedom. That came when a supposed racist Congressman and Senator from Texes, LBJ, became President of the United States and pushed through Congress over the objections of the South the Civil Right Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. A united United States emerged from the Civil War. And now comes the nihilists and snowflakes of the Removal Movement. The Centennial School District in the Portland, Oregon area announced it was changing the names of Lynch Wood and Lynch Meadows Elementary Schools because of complaints about the name “Lynch.” The schools were named for Patrick Lynch who donated land in the late 1800’s. The only historic lynchings in Oregon were of whites. Saphia Jackson, Co-Director of the University of Southern California Black Student Assembly, has asked USC to rename its mascot horse “Traveler” because General Robert E. Lee had a horse named “Traveller.” Robert Saulko purchased the horse in 1958, which had been named Traveler by its prior owner. Saulko rode Traveler I across the LA Coliseum during a USC football game in 1958. The one-time act became a USC tradition. USC is now on Traveler VII. USC’s Traveler has nothing to do with General Lee’s two “L” Traveller, but such is the craziness sweeping the country today. One view is that nothing should be named for slave owners. By this reasoning, Stone Mountain with its carvings of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis should be blown up. Two of the four figures on Mount Rushmore, those of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, must be carved out of the mountain. That would send a message to the world of how far America has descended. The American people would have stooped to the levels of the Taliban at the Bamiyan Buddhas and ISIS in Palmya in destroying the world’s cultural heritage. On the other hand, the National Park Service said the Confederate monuments at Gettysburg shall remain just as those of the Union statues and monuments. Gettysburg is the history of the North and South. Ten Presidents of the United States owned slaves, some while President. The slave owners include George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James K. Polk, Zachery Taylor, Andrew Johnson, and even Ulysses S. Grant. Benjamin Franklin owned two slaves before he became an abolitionist. Francis Scott Key, who penned the Star-Spangled Banner National Anthem, owned slaves, represented slave owners seeking return of fugitive slaves, and as United States Attorney in Washington, D.C. prosecuted abolitionists. He also though represented slaves and favored shipping ex-slaves to Liberia. President Trump was derided for asking what’s next? George Washington? Thomas Jefferson? A Chicago pastor asked Mayor Rahm Emanuel to rename two parks; i.e. strip the names of President George Washington and Andrew Jackson off two Chicago parks. He suggested perhaps renaming them Harold Washington and Jesse Jackson Parks. The Reverend Al Sharpton, of Tawana Brawley fraudulent rape claim, has said it’s time to level the Jefferson Memorial. It doesn’t end going back to 1860 and secession. Nihilists in Baltimore last night trashed a 1792, 44’ obelisk of Christopher Columbus. Columbus Day is under attack in parts of the country on the grounds that Christopher Columbus unleashed the white European invasion of the Americas, subjugating and enslaving the Natives. Fr. Junipero Serra is similarly on precarious grounds. Fr. Serra, who died in 1784 is one of California’s two statues in Congress’ Statuary Hall. The Franciscan missionary founded 12 missions in California, including Carmel, Monterey, San Diego, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Clara, and San Francisco. He is also accused of unleashing the Spanish mistreatment of the Native Californians. A paper was recently published seeking the renaming of Stanford University. Governor Leland Stanford, Sr. is accused of participating in the genocidal shootings of Native Californians. Of course, Stanford University is technically the Leland Stanford, Jr. University, named in memory of the son – not the father. Governor Stanford kept California in the Union during the Civil War despite a large Southern sympathy in the state. Stanford is no more likely to change its name than Brown University, which was founded/funded with slave trade revenues. Statues and monuments are falling throughout the South, and even elsewhere in the country. The key is identifying where. It is in primarily African American cities and in states like Virginia with a Democratic Governor. Many of these cities are plagued by high crime rates, high Black unemployment, poor educational systems, high drug rates, and lack of opportunity. Baltimore is a prime example. Its homicide rate is reaching astronomical levels. Confederate monuments are neither its problem nor solution. Nor is police violence the largest criminal problem in these cities. It’s easier for the politicians to demagogue the Confederacy rather than address jobs, crime, drugs, and education. However, if the citizens of these cities wish the removal of the statues and monuments, then that should be their choice. Parts of the North are seized by the paroxysm. We don’t have buildings, cities, even states, named for the nation’s founders because they owned slaves. Nor do we have monuments and statues erected for them because they owned slaves. We honor the Presidents and Generals, such as Washington, Jackson and Grant, because of their contributions to the American nation, which they created, built, and preserved. We are here today because of them. The statues and monuments to purely fighters for the South, such as many generals, including Nathan Bedford Forrest, a founder of the KKK, are different. Their contributions were fighting for the Lost Cause. General Robert E. Lee is respected as a great military leader, but his contribution to the United States is great. The Civil War was lost by the South. Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House. The defeated general then preached peace and reconciliation. He did not carry on the fight. He served as an example to many Southerners to move on and rebuild. Obviously not all did. General Nathan Bedford Forrest became the national leader of the KKK. President Andrew Jackson could be doubly damned, first for being a slave owner and second for the Trail of Tears, the forced removal of Native Americans from the Southeast to the Oklahoma Territory. California’s Attorney General Earl Warren was one of the two movers of placing the Japanese Americans in concentration camps in World War II. He never apologized for his actions. A statue of President Clinton is in Rapid City, South Dakota. Juanita Broaddick and Paula Jones, two of his victims, are demanding the statue of the accused rapist be removed. Ten Army bases are named for Confederate Officers: Camp Beauregard, and Forts Benning, Bragg. Gordon, A.P. Hill, Hood, Lee, Pickett, Polk and Rucker. Two of our aircraft carriers are named for segregationist legislators, The John B. Stennis and Carl Vinson, made famous in the Osama Bin Laden raid. A third carrier is named for President George Washington. Once unleashed the frenzied fury of radical revolutionaries becomes uncontrollable, such as the French and Russian Revolutions. I see Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, and Chairman Mao unleashing the Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution. I hope we show more sense if choosing what part of the nation’s cultural heritage to remove and retain. Statues and monuments serve as a symbol. Southerners do not aspire to the recreation of the old slave owning South. They don’t see them as a repression of African Americans. The Confederate statues and monuments represent the Southern cultural repudiation of Washington D.C. and the progressive agenda. The demolition of history does not erase history. Attempts to rewrite or obliterate history to fit a currently popular norm simply increases the ignorance level of our campus snowflakes and fragility of the “victimhood.” We see it all now – Confederate statues and monuments, Washington and Jefferson, Christopher Columbus and Fr. Serra – the obliteration of a half millennium of the history of the American people. Suddenly, revered figures become George Orwell’s “unpersons.” It’s easy to destroy; hard to build. Centuries can be erased in seconds by nihilists. George Santayana wrote: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” also phrased as “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”
Monday, August 14, 2017
I have nothing good to say about the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and their ilk, but they have every right to demonstrate and protest. As long as they are non-violent. Antifa has every right to demonstrate and protest. As long as they are non-violent. Protesters and counter-protesters have the same rights. As long as they are non-violent. Every protester and counter-protester has a right of self-defense when attacked. Who physically started yesterday’s melee is still unclear, but self-defense does not give James Alex Fields, Jr. any right to mow down protesters with his car. I have no idea what he was thinking, but he will have plenty of time for reflection in his life in prison, quite possibly on Death Row. Reports have also surfaced about his possible insanity. The scary thing about the Charlottesville violence is that it is becoming more common in the United States with the decline of civil discourse. More often it’s the left resorting to violence, be it at Berkeley, Chicago, Claremont McKenna, Davis, Evergreen State, Middlebury College, or Missouri. A pro-trump rally in Anaheim was attacked by anti-Trump protestors on May 25, 2016. Provocateurs were hired to disrupt Trump rallies last year. A Bernie Sanders supporter tried to assassinate Republican members of Congress in Alexandria, Virginia at a baseball practice on June 14, 2017. President Obama never referred to Radical Islam Terrorism, even calling the Fort Hood shootings “workplace violence.” Yet the media is throwing a hissy-fit because President Trump initially decried all acts of violence in Charlottesville rather than singling out the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists. The failure in Charlottesville was the extreme pacificity, at least initially, by law enforcement. By way of comparison, the Seattle Police interposed themselves between the protesters and counter-protesters yesterday, reducing the risk of violence. Police forces should have learned from Berkeley, Baltimore, and Ferguson that failure to act decisively at the beginning leads to greater violence in these incidents. The city vehemently claims that no order was issued to the Charlottesville police to stand down. If so, they were poorly led, poorly prepared or poorly trained. The President of the University of Virginia, Mayor of Charlottesville, and Governor of Virginia all condemned the rally before it began, adding to the poisoned atmosphere in the city. The Mayor afterwards accused President Trump of being responsible for the violence.
Saturday, August 12, 2017
Silicon Valley has a reputation for discriminating against women in the technical and executive ranks. Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook and Meg Whitman of HP are exceptions, but an overall look at Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google/Alphabet, and Microsoft shows male heavy employment. Google is roughly 80% male, mostly Caucasian and Asian, in its tech ranks, and 75% in leader positions. It is also fighting a federal investigation that claims it underpays women. Only 23% of Apple’s tech staff and 17% of FaceBook’s are female. The HBO series Silicone Valley focuses on men and gives actresses a secondary role. James Damone failed to understand that diversity of thought does not exist in the Academy, Hollywood, or Silicone Valley. Thought is fine as long as it comports with the accepted orthodoxy, which George Orwell/William H. White, Jr. called Group think, policed by the Thought Police. He penned a memo entitled: “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.” His memo cites several studies that show men and women think differently; that men are into things and women into people. He wrote that women in general have more empathy and neuroticism than men. His problem in the memo is that he stepped into the Harvard President Lawrence Summer’s infamous question: “Why are there fewer women in science?” James Damone answered that biological differences play a role in the lack of women in tech positions at Google. President Summer’s provocative answers cost him the Presidency of Harvard. He posited that innate or biological differences between men and women could explain the lack of female success in science and math. Married women with children might be unwilling to spend the long hours necessary for advancement. Let me add anecdotally that after 45 years of teaching law I have seen many incredible young women do it all: marriage, children, and the practice of law. Let me add that I have also seen many incredible young women sacrifice the practice of law to their family, raising children. I have not seen many incredible, young male lawyers sacrifice the law to be Mr. Mom. James Damone was careful to note that generalities do not apply to individuals, but he questioned the shibboleth of diversity and diversity training for the sake of diversity. He was concerned that Google’s diversity efforts were misdirected and ineffective, accompanied by the company’s “politically correct monoculture.” He wanted to start a dialogue within the company. The rigidity of thought in Silicon Valley is amazing because the Valley exemplifies the success of capitalism free from government regulation and rigidity. The orthodoxy leads to the Obama Administration trying to regulate the internet under. the guise of net neutrality. The Obama Administration through FBI Director James Comey tried to force Apple to unlock its users’ IPhones. Statism, the antithesis of capitalism, is how the EU is mugging Google, Apple, and other American innovative companies. Sundar Pichai, Google CEO overreacted by publicly firing Damone and then stating “We strongly believe in Googlers expressing themselves,” but Damone violated company policy “by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.” He added: “To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to such work is offensive and not O.K.” That’s not what James Damone wrote. I’m sure the Google lawyers grimaced when they heard the CEO’s remarks. The standard statement for legal reasons is “We do not discuss personnel matters.” The United States follows the “employment at will” doctrine whereby absent a contract or legal restriction, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, or no reason. In addition, the Freedom of Speech guarantees of the First Amendment only apply to the government and not to private parties. James Damone, like most employees, could thus be fired for his remarks without any legal cause of action. He wrote after his firing: “As far as I know, I have a legal right to express my concerns about the terms and conditions of my working environment and to bring up potentially illegal behavior, which is what my document does.” Actually he doesn’t. However, when CEO Pichai publicly accused Damone of violating Google’s Code of Conduct, a cause of action for defamation could be pled, followed by extensive discovery. The process will be very painful for Google. Management has made it clear to Googlers that they are not to question the company’s diversity program. Damone’s memo was in response to that attitude. Some Google employees made it clear that they will record the names of fellow employees who support Damone or oppose the company’s diversity efforts, and then blacklist them. The new rule at Google is Group Thought. The merits of Damone’s memo are debatable, some saying it’s well researched and others questioning the research, as you might expect on such a volatile subject. Lost in the debate is that Damone was careful about warning against broad generalizations. Damone’s memo decried stereotyping, but that got lost in the coverage of his memo. I believe in judging people on their individual merits. The computing industry shows a number of women engineers who have achieved greatness, including Admiral Grace Hopper and NASA’s Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson and the other African American "computers" in Alabama made famous in Hidden Figures. They triumphed under incredible stress, starting with the deep racism in the South. Google’s problem is that James Damone started a dialogue, but CEO Pichai poured fuel on the fire by terminating James Dimone. Google will need to settle with James Damone for a large sum once the lawsuit is filed. The continuing debate will be costly to Google, not in monetary terms, but in employee morale and publicity. Google will become the punching bag for Silicon Valley sexism.
Sunday, August 6, 2017
Sex Discrimination in the Airline Industry Revisited 47 Years Later: Air India's 30 Year Old Anna Divya is the World's Youngest Boeing 777 Pilot
I smile when I see female pilots walking through airports. I don’t smile as often as I would like because they are still a rarity. Anna Divya, a 30 year old pilot for Air India, is now the youngest pilot, pilot – not co-pilot, pilot – not flight engineer, pilot – not flight attendant, of a Boeing 777. She has a large smile on her face. She accomplished her childhood dream of becoming a pilot. But why do I smile? It goes back to the summer of 1969. I was hired as a legal clerk for the 2 man firm of Darwin & Riordan in San Francisco. Jay Darwin was a pioneering labor law attorney going back to the days of the New Deal. One of the firm’s clients was Jan Dietrich (1926-2008), a well-qualified woman pilot. Jan and her twin sister Marion were among the group of 13 women, the Gemini 13, privately financed to complete the same tests as NASA’s Gemini 7 astronauts. The odds are that NASA never expected at that time that any of these women would be flown into space, but it was good publicity. Jan sought employment with Oakland based Word Airways, a charter operation. World denied Jan a position despite her qualifications because she was a woman. The airline told Jan the public wants pilots to be “tall, gray-haired men.” Unfortunately for World Airways, Congress had enacted title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII forbad discrimination in employment based on sex, race, color, religion or national origin. The southern Senators tossed “sex” into the statute, hoping it would cause defeat of the bill aimed at racial discrimination in employment. They miscalculated. The bar on sex discrimination in employment is highly popular. The case settled on the courthouse steps with Jan flying for World Airways. My assignment was to do substantial research on the case. The research also led to a Labor Law Seminar paper my last semester in Law school. One of the sources of information for the paper in spring 1970 was the Soviet Embassy in Washington. I knew women pilots flew for Aeroflot and the Russian military. The embassy responded to my request with some published material, which I could quote. I don’t have any of the legal file on the case, but I also remember an affidavit by a retired brigadier general. He wrote women could not be relied upon in flying commercial airlines because once a month …. You get the drift. Far more pervasive and pernicious than the airline bans on woman pilots were their restrictions on stewardesses, and stewards, all now called flight attendants. Many of the domestic airlines were marketing glamorous young, single female stewardesses as the reason to fly their airline. “We really move our tail for you” was one such slogan for Continental Airlines. Another was “I’m Jo, Fly me” for National Airlines. Braniff Airlines promoted the designer dresses of their stewardesses. Here’s a quick summary of the restrictions: No male stewards, except on international flights. All stewardesses must retire at age 35. Stewardesses could not be married or marry. Pregnancy was verboten. Delta Airlines was an exception. Its stewardesses could make a career of flying for Delta. The flight attendant unions fought the restrictions and with the new Title VII behind them ultimately defeated them. My seminar paper was accepted for publication by the law review at the University of California Berkeley. The cite is “Sex Discrimination in the Airline Industry: Title VII Flying High,” 59 Cal. L. Rev. 1091 (1971). The article begins: “Women have historically been relegated to a secondary role in life. Cotemporary experience suggests that they may become legal secretaries, but rarely lawyers, secondary school teachers, but rarely university professors, airline stewardesses, but never pilots. The purpose of this article is to argue, based on examples of sexual discrimination in the airline industry, that society can and must change these existing patterns of unequal employment opportunities.” I am still proud of the wording of this intro. Ironically, the section on female pilots was edited out because of the length of the article. If any of the few readers of this blog are interested, I can send them an earlier draft of the article. Anna Divya, I salute you and Air India.
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Have you heard about the Trump Admin The ironies of 2017! The Trump Campaign has been accused of colluding with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton. The Clinton Campaign has been accused of colluding with the Ukrainians to defeat Donald Trump. The Russians announced the other day that they are kicking out 755 U.S. diplomats as Congress increases sanctions on Russia. President Trump said he will sign the Bill. So much for the alleged Trump-Russia détente! President Reagan ran the “Bear” Commercial in his 1984 reelection campaign against Vice President Walter Mondale: “There is a bear in the woods. For some people, the bear is easy to see. Others don’t see it at all. Some people say the bear is tame. Others say he is vicious and dangerous. Since no one can really be sure who’s right, isn’t it smart to be a strong as the bear? – If there is a bear.” The Russian Bear hibernated after the fall of the Soviet Union. President Obama and his fellow Democrats refused to see the bear even when it was staring them in the face having emerged from hibernation. Governor Romney said during the 2012 Presidential debates that Russia is the greatest geopolitical foe of the United States. President Obama had a pithy response: “The 1980’s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because, you know, the Cold War has been over for 20 years.” He was caught on a hot mic before the election, telling Russia President Dmitri Medvedev that “After my election, I have more flexibility.” The media, which is so intent with its daily linking President Trump to a non-existent Russia collaboration, gave President Obama a pass. Russia invaded Georgia in August 2008, seizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia near the end of the Bush Administration. Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014 seizing full control of the Crimea, and sponsoring with Russian soldiers, tanks and armored vehicles Russia based “separatists” in the Doneysk, Luhansk, and Dombass regions of eastern Ukraine. Russia had violated the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances when it invaded Ukraine. Ukraine inherited a large army and supply of nuclear weapons when it achieved independence from the collapsing Soviet Union. As part of the nuclear non-proliferation movement, which has otherwise been a failure in Iran and North Korea, Ukraine gave up its nuclear arsenal in exchange for assurances of territorial integrity from Russia. It also leased Sevastopol in the Crimea to Russia for the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Ukraine traded its leverage for hallow promises from the Russian Bear, an erstwhile teachable moment. Russia is currently massing troops in “maneuvers” along both the Ukrainian border and the Baltic nations. President Obama responded to the Russian invasion of Ukraine by sending the Ukrainians MRE’s (meals ready to eat) when they requested military assistance. They are currently receiving some Humvees and drones from the United States. The Defense Department and State Department announced yesterday that they are considering sending defensive weapons to the Ukrainians; i.e. anti-tank weapons. The final decision would be up to President Trump. Russia quit Afghanistan when surface to air missiles started shooting their helicopters out of the air. The United States has many ways to make Russia pay for its naked aggression. The President also announced yesterdaythe sale of 700,000 tons of Pennsylvania thermal coal to Ukraine, displacing Russian coal. President Obama practiced a foreign policy of leading from behind, if not outright appeasement on occasion. President Trump has an activist approach to America’s foreign policy.
Monday, July 31, 2017
Memo to Anthony Scaramucci and General Stanley McChrystal The media is not your friend. “Off the record” is not off the record if it would embarrass you or a conservative administration. It’s only off the record if you don’t say it. The reporters get kudos and awards. You get the boot. Check out Secretary of the Interior James Watt, who got a boot, but kept his job. Memo to Trumpanistas: “The mainstream media is at war with the Trump Administration. It is unconditional war on their part. It will only end if President Trump resigns or is impeached, at which point they will then attempt to destroy President Pence.” Even your friends may reveal your statements. Secretary of Agriculture Early Butz resigned 4 decades ago because John Dean, the disgraced John Dean, published in Rolling Stone Magazine a crude, highly offensive racist joke. Finally, understand that anyone may tape your remarks on a smart phone, any time, any place, even in closed, friendly audiences, such as campaign fundraisers. Memo to Scaramucci, McChrystal, Butz, Romney, Obama, et al, “Zipper Your Lips!” If you can’t zipper your lips, then temper your remarks. You just never know!
Jack Webb in Dragnet: “Just the facts, ma’am.” Here are the bare facts about bare ass on bare fare Spirit Airlines. An unnamed passenger caught the spirit of Spirit Airlines by barring it all in boarding the airline. No fig leaf No pasties No shame The media won’t report if it is a he or she, so I will prefer to the person as “he/she/it.” He/she/it boarded in Las Vegas for a flight to Oakland. We can safely assume he/she/it is not an Oakland raiders fan. They loudly overdress rather than underdress. We can safely assume he/she/it did not lose its shirt in Vegas because he/she/it was wearing it before embarking and disrobing. Perhaps he/she/it was mistaken about a gig. We can safely assume he/she/it either caught the Spirit of Spirit, which painted “Home of the BARE FARE” on an engine, or the letter of Bare Fare. One must bare it all to get the bare fare. Spirit is known for its cheap fares, its bare fares, but you pay for everything else except one 16” X 14” X 12” carry on, personal bag and oxygen. Spirit would charge for the air if it could. Spirit’s charges are a caricature of the larger airlines’ fees. Want to print out a boarding pass at the airport kiosk, that’s $2. Want a reserved seat, pay for it. Want to sit with your family, pay for reserved seats. Want an upgrade, pay for it Want to check in luggage, pay by the dimensions and weight. How much? Go to Spirit’s “Bag-O-Tron” and prepay No refunds On a family vacation? Bikes, golf bags, skis, scuba equipment are oversized luggage. Pay extra. Want to carry on a bag to stow overhead, pay for it. Thirsty? Buy a drink Hungry? Pay for a snack Want to fly standby, that’s cost you with no guarantees Nothing though in Spirit’s rules of carriage about passengers with lice. Presumably they can come aboard if they are attached to members of the family. Delta kicked the whole family off the plane. Good for Delta! He/she/it proves that what doesn’t go in Vegas may still stay in Vegas But where’s the video?
Sunday, July 30, 2017
The Senate Republicans Have Effectively Advanced the Single Payer Option, and Other ObamaCare Thoughts
The Republicans said give us the House and we can do something. They got the House in 2010 and did little. The Republicans said give us the House and Senate and we can do something. They gained and Senate in 2014 and did nothing. The Republicans said give us the House, Senate and Presidency, and then they could act They got the House, Senate, and Presidency in 2016, and now they would act. Let me rephrase it pursuant to the Kiss Theorem: Give us the House! Give us the Senate! Give us the Presidency! Give up!!!!!! The Senate Republicans rejected all changes to ObamaCare, the single most important factor in the Republican rise over the past seven years. They risk fading into oblivion and meaninglessness, as ObamaCare accelerates the road to implosion. The only solution then with our current healthcare system shattered will be single payer. Single payer can be highly seductive, just as socialism. Get rid of the avaricious insurance companies and let the efficiency of a single payer take over. To see how single payer would work, look to the Veterans Administration. Look to the Indian Health Service, which rivals the VA with poor health service. Look to the Army’s fabled, flagship Walter Reed Hospital, which closed in 2011, because it was physically dilapidated. The single payer will be a large, ever growing federal bureaucracy, protected against sloth and incompetence by civil service rules, and which will be unionized by the next Democratic President. Think of England’s National Health System, which is the largest employer in England, and the fifth largest in the world with 1.4 million employees. The Senators who fought change in 2017 are not up for reelection in 2018. What do they care? Four years is an eternity in politics. They must believe the Republican voters are stupid with short memories. The GOP is the party of the elephant and not the donkey. The Republicans voted in a meaningless gesture for seven years to repeals the reviled ObamaCare. Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and John McCain of Arizona ran ads against ObamaCare. Senator Murkowski sponsored several bills to limit ObamaCare. That was then; this is now. Their votes matter now; every vote matters. Hypocrisy; they got cold feet when it mattered. Senator McCain has a reputation as a maverick. He is, but he is also consistent in one respect. He respects the civility, dignity and bipartisanship of the Senate compared to the raucous House. Note to Senator McCain. Those days are history, destroyed by President Obama and then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The Republicans are criticized for not cooperating with Democrats on their attempts to deal with the Act. The Democrats, having 60 Senate votes in 2010, totally ignored the Republicans in drafting and enacting ObamaCare. It goes back even further. President Obama and the Democrats enacted their Stimulus Bill in 2009, totaling ignoring the Republicans. They didn’t even throw them a bone. Senator Reid further destroyed the decorum of the Senate by eliminating the filibuster on federal judges, except for the Supreme Court. He further limited amendments on bills the democrats wanted enacted. Senators Lindsay Graham and John McCain said before the last vote that they could not support the “skinny” Senate proposal as the final bill, but wanted assurances from the House that it would go to conference for changes. Speaker Paul Ryan gave those assurances. Senator McCain voted against it anyway and is now back in Arizona undergoing cancer treatment. Here’s what the Republicans could not even do: Repeal ObamaCare outright? No Repeal and replace ObamaCare? No Adopt block grants leaving more discretion to the states on implementing the Medicaid extension? No Repeal the reviled individual mandate? No Repeal the employer mandate? No Repeal at least the medical devices tax? No They couldn’t pass any measure, fat, lean, skinny to at least get to a House-Senate Conference Committee. The Senate couldn’t even live up to its reputation as the world’s greatest deliberate body. They debated little behind closed doors. The Republicans spent seven years listening to horror stories about ObamaCare: high premiums, high deductibles, limited networks, loss of existing insurers and medical providers. They’d heard the blowback in recent months from ObamaCare beneficiaries who fear losing their existing coverage. Their fears are real, but not realistic. The House Republicans made it clear that the current Medicaid beneficiaries would be protected. The opponents were loud, jamming the Congressional open houses back home. The protests were often organized, as they were during the Presidential campaign. Many Republicans were spooked. Now they’re hearing the blowback from their base, letting them have it. Now they’re facing the threat of President Trump to throw them onto ObamaCare, as I blogged on July 14. The Republicans should have held public hearings with witness after witness telling horror stories reminding the American people of why they detest ObamaCare. A rumor is that Senator McConnell asked President Trump to stay out of the negotiations prior to the votes. I don’t know if that’s true, but if is, then the President have further reason to be upset. Another observation is yet again the false conclusions of the “non-partisan” Congressional Budget Office, which said the skinny bill would cause 14 million Americans to lose health coverage. Absolutely false! See May 26 blog. They count as those “losing” coverage Americans, especially the young healthy Americans, who don’t want ObamaCare, and persons who prospectively would be ineligible if the loosened requirements for Medicaid would be tightened somewhat. Finally, let the American people understand that Medicaid does not = medical care. Providers are increasingly leery of taking Medicaid patients because of the low rates – another harbinger of a single payer system in the United States. Hispanics in san Jose, California have filed suit because they are enrolled in MediCal (California’s version of Medicaid), but unable to obtain coverage. This is what 51 Republican Senators voted to perpetuate!
Tuesday, July 25, 2017
The 1960’s and early 1970’s witnessed demonstrations and violence on our campuses, starting with the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley in 1964. Anti-Vietnam War fueled most of the subsequent demonstrations, riots and sit-ins, followed by Kent State and Cambodia in 1970. Other causes were the CIA, Dow Chemical, disinvestment in South Africa, and civil rights. Berkeley, Cornell, Harvard, Dartmouth, UCLA, Maryland, Indiana, San Francisco State, Kent State, Dartmouth. University leaders were seemingly helpless, although supine is a better word. The great Catholic University of Notre Dame was not immune to the student’s outpouring of rage. The campus experienced demonstrations, sit-ins, and student strikes. Notre Dame’s President Father Theodore Hesburgh led the University for 35 years, guiding it into a great academic institution. Father Hesburgh was sympathetic to the students. He also opposed the war. He believed in academic freedom. He issued a letter on February 17, 1969. His words were clear and simple. He promulgated the 15 minute rule: “Anyone or group that substitutes force for rational persuasion, be it violent or non-violent, will be given fifteen minutes of meditation to cease and desist.” They would then be asked for their ID and face suspension. They would be expelled if they persisted for another five minutes. Decisive leadership! His intent was to preserve freedom of speech and a diversity of expression at Notre Dame in a peaceful manner. The past two years has witnessed a return to riots, sit-ins on our campuses, starting with the University of Missouri, a state with underlying racial issues from Ferguson. Allegations of racism led to protests. The losing football team joined the protests, supported by their coach. Melissa Click, a communications professor, became the public face of the protesters as she was caught on video asking for some ”muscle” to muzzle against a student reporter. The University of Missouri has encountered a large backlash among students, potential students, parents, and alumni. Freshmen enrollment has plunged 35% in two years. Overall enrollment has dropped 7.4%. Faculty have been laid off, dorms closed, and the Republican legislature reducing funding. Professor Click was terminated. The craven response at Missouri was the resignation of the President and Provost, thereby emboldening the left both at the University of Missouri and nationally. Claremont McKenna students last year blocked the entrance hall in which Wall Street Journal columnist and Thomas S. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute Heather MacDonald was scheduled to appear. Ms. MacDonald is a staunch supporter of police and has criticized Black Lives Matter for its anti-police rhetoric and actions. She has published “The War on Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe.” Social media was used to shut down her event, calling her an “anti-Black Fascist.” Police led her into the near empty lecture hall for livestreaming. Her speech was interrupted by protestors banging on the windows. University President Hiram R. Chodosh promised disciplinary against the demonstrators. The University fulfilled his promise a few days ago. Five students were suspended and two placed on probation. Four of the students were seniors, whose graduation was postponed pending the completion of their suspensions. Four students from other campuses were barred from non-academic activities on the Claremont McKenna campus. Attorney Nana Gyamfi, lead organizer and co-founder of Justice warriors 4 Black Lives, protested: “Universities should be places where students learn about the power and limitation of civic engagement and this completely shuts that down with the hot-button issues of our current time.” She accused the college of “over reacting to a minor incident” with “cruel and unusual punishment.” Civic engagement does not include the right to violent demonstrations and shutting down speakers one disagrees with. The demonstrators had earlier forced on November 132 the resignation of Dean of Students Mary Spellman who had emailed a Latina student during campus protests seeking greater diversity and concerns about “marginalized” diversity students that she would work to help students who ‘don’t fit out CMC mold” I don’t think she meant it the way it was construed, but she resigned in the uproar that followed. By way of comparison to Claremont McKenna we have Middlebury College in Vermont. Charles Murray, co-author of The Bell Curve, was scheduled to speak on March 2, 2107. He was met with violent demonstrators who assaulted and battered both him and his faculty interlocutor, Professor Allison Stanger. She suffered a concussion as her hair was pulled and neck twisted. No arrests were made. College President Laurie L. Patton promised accountability while issuing a public apology. The college announced sanctions on May 23 against 67 students. The sanctions raged from probation to written sanctions of the students’ transcripts – in short, a slap on the wrist for violent violence resulting in personal injury. No academic discipline has been imposed against the rioters who shut down Milo Yiannopoulos at Berkeley on May 2, 2017. The University, the site of the Free Speech Movement, also muzzled Ann Coulter by denying her a reasonable time and place to speak on April 27, 2017. Yale, Ithaca College, Smith, Evergreen State, have also failed to support academic freedom and administrators. This fall promises to be hot, fueled partially by anti-Trump animus, unless other campuses follow the lead of Claremont McKenna making sure consequences follow violent action and disruption of speech. Peaceful demonstrators are appropriate, but stifling debate through violence is unacceptable.
Wednesday, July 19, 2017
The Cleveland woman screamed out during the 2012 Presidential Campaign: “Everybody in Cleveland - low, minority - got Obama phone! Keep Obama president, you know. He gave us a phone.” The free Obama Phone! The Lifeline program for free phones goes back to the Reagan Administration with President George W. Bush extending it to mobile phones. President Obama did not in fact start the Obama Phone program, but he extended it. The more that’s free, the greater cost to those working and the greater the diminution of the work ethic for those receiving benefits. The list of often substantial free benefits keeps growing. Cell phones are the least of it; food, housing, medical, and even cash head the list. Why work hard to achieve the American dream when you can get much of it for free? Government’s role was limited, except during war, until the Great Depression and the New Deal. The government promoted economic development and growth. The American ethos was limited government, self-reliance, and hard work. The change from reliance to at least quasi-dependence occurred earlier around 1890 when the Director of the Bureau of the Census announced the Frontier was closed. The early English settlers in Jamestown and Massachusetts always had a western frontier to settle. Wave after wave of mostly European immigrants poured into America as they progressively settled the West. Hundreds of millions of acres were cheap, if not free. The frontier settlers had to be strong and self-reliant to survive. The American people believed in independence and personal responsibility. They had to for survival. (As a side note, I took little note of the Turner Thesis, “The Significance of the Frontier in American History,” in my American history course in college). The formal end of the frontier was accompanied by the rise of the cities, whose residents could not be self-reliant. They have to rely upon others to supply food, clothing, utilities, protection, transportation, waste disposal, sanitation and public health, which necessitates a growing role for government. The New Deal started the progressive change in government’s role to one of redistribution and dependence with entitlement program after entitlement program. FDR started social security in 1935 pursuant to which many beneficiaries will be able to earn substantially more than they and their employers paid in. Unemployment compensation started in 1932 in Wisconsin, spread to five more states, and then became a federal/state program in 1935 in an expansion to the Social Security Act. The periods of receiving benefits is normally 26 weeks, but is often extended. Social security was further expanded in 1956 during the Eisenhower Administration to include disability benefits. Housing can be free or subsidized for low income residents. Los Angeles is responding to the escalating homeless problem by spending hundreds of millions of dollars on shelters and housing. Portland, Oregon is experimenting with tiny homes for the homeless. Berkeley mandates marijuana dispensaries provide free marijuana for low-income and homeless residents. Lyndon Baines Johnson, a young Democratic Congressman from Texas during the New Deal, followed FDR’s New Deal with his Great Society when he became President. He gave America Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare is for seniors and Medicaid originally for those in poverty. Medicaid is free for some, with co-pays and cost-sharing for others, but heavily subsidized. It is one of the fastest growing part of state budgets, squeezing out other programs. The ObamaCare extension offers Medicaid to those with income up to 138% of the poverty level and increased the eligible groups. President George W. Bush added Medicare Part D, a prescription plan, to Medicare. Free medical benefits also exist in a federal statute which requires emergency rooms to treat all patients, regardless of ability to pay. Free food benefits accrue through The Food Stamp Program (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Act – “SNAP”), which covers about 46 million Americans in addition to the School Lunch Program, which has been extended into summer and breakfasts. Students are demanding free tuition, realizing that their student loans are not in fact as free as they seemed at the time. Mark Zuckerberg is advocating for a universal basic income of $13,000 per person. Think of a Berkeley student with free tuition, free pot, free or subsidized housing, free food stamps, and $13,000 cash. Free! Free! Free! The days of of struggling college students working their way through college on a tight budget, receiving a basic education in economics and self-discipline are history for many of today’s students. Hard work was the path to success. It still is. The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary! It's not free. Harvard students were traumatized by overdue library fines, so now they have free use of books for however long they want. President Nixon gave us the Earned Income Credit. Many of the programs are means tested, directed at the less fortunate in our society, but not all. We end up with about half of Americans (Governor Mitt Romney’s infamous 48%) receiving government benefits, often for free. In addition, every new program creates a new bureaucracy, federal and state, to administer it. Once implemented, a new entitlement is almost impossible to repeal. Government keeps growing. Free quickly becomes addictive to the beneficiaries. An entitlement, once in place, becomes politically impossible to repeal. Free is addictive, even to Republican governors. Yesterday’s failure of the Senate to rein in, much less repeal ObamaCare, is illustrative. Much of the potent political opposition to the Republican’s efforts to repeal and replace ObamaCare was by Republican governors who signed onto the ObamaCare extension. It was “free,” hence seemingly free money to the states. The federal and state governments normally share the costs of Medicare with the current ratio about 57% for the feds and 43% for the states. The Medicaid expansion was 100% covered by the feds. Hence, free cash to cash starved states. Many Republican governors rejected the extension because it was 100% free but only for three years. The state’s share will rise to 10% by 2020. The House and Senate proposals would roll back some of the Medicaid expansion The governors squawked. Yet it was their jumping for the free money which puts them in this position. State health insurance laws and requirements imposed compulsory mandates on health insurance coverage. ObamaCare expanded these mandates at the federal level with the Secretary of Health and Human Services authorized to impose additional mandates as essential health benefits. She extended it to reproductive rights. Mandates may seem free to the beneficiaries, but someone is paying for them. It is not the insurance companies which will pass them on. The catch about "free” is that someone has to pay. They impose an increasing tax burden on those working for a living. Government at the federal, state, and local level though a series of large taxes, such as income, property, sales, payroll and excise, as well as a seemingly infinite number of lesser taxes and fees, keeps seeking more funds. National Tax Freedom Day was April 23 this year, the day when American income has covered all federal, state, and local taxes. In short 31% of American’s income went to fund government this year. It is never enough. Free is not free when someone has to pay for we all pay in the end, directly or indirectly.
Friday, July 14, 2017
President Trump may know the Art of the Deal, but he’s not yet a President Lyndon Baines Johnson. LBJ, both as Senate Majority Leader and President of the United States, was a master politician, who knew how to cajole both Democrats and Republicans in enacting legislation. Former Speaker Nancy and former Senate Majority and Minority Leader Harry Reid were good, but they were no LBJ. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is no LBJ, and neither is Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Admittedly, they lack some of the powers of past presidents and Congressional leaders to enforce party solidarity. The Speaker Gingrich House eliminated earmarks, reducing the ability to “buy” Congressional votes. The media will savage President Trump if it was discovered he made threats or express offers to individual members of Congress. He does have one ace in the hole. The ObamaCare statute threw members of Congress and Congressional staffers into ObamaCare and stripped them of their 75% federal subsidy. The statute provides “The only health plans that the federal government may make available to members of Congress and Congressional staff … shall be health plans that are … (i) created under this Act … or (ii) offered through an exchange ….” The language is very clear. The intent was to not exempt Congress from ObamaCare. President Obama in 2013 ignored the express provisions of the statute. He granted a waiver pursuant to which the Office of Personnel Management allowed the members of Congress and their staffers to obtain health insurance in the District of Columbia Small Business Exchange (SHOP). Both Federal and District of Columbia law limits SHOP to small employers with no more than 50 employees. That definitely excludes Congress. President Obama also let them retain their 75% federal subsidy. President Trump should explicitly state that if the Republicans do not carry through their promise to repeal and reform ObamaCare, then he will revoke the illegal Obama Congressional waiver. The media will scream. So what, the American people will cheer. The Hill will erupt with outrage. Americans hate that type of double standard between them and Congress. The House of representatives supposedly represent “the people.” Let them join the people. If ObamaCare is failing, then Congress and its staffers should share in the pain. If they have to feel the pain, then they will act. President Trump should make that threat.