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Obama’s Racialized Presidency


By William J. Dodwell    December 4, 2015 

            Much has been said about President Barack Obama’s desire to fundamentally transform America.  For the most part his agenda has been rooted in his ideology of social justice based on the historical Marxist redistributionist model that aims to level the economic and social playing field.  And in the process he hopes to diminish America to just another player on the world stage.  But his actions betray another motivation that capitalizes on his unique presidential power to get as much as possible for the black underclass and to undermine the white majority.  Having been elected and re-elected largely on the basis of race, given so much support from guilt-ridden whites and a huge black vote, he may feel he has license to pursue racial preferences in his policies.  While many would not begrudge him for looking out for his own, this bias should not be at the expense of American sovereignty, prosperity, culture and hegemony. 

This paper examines Obama’s racialized agenda on three fronts:  redistributing income to blacks; transforming American demographics through immigration; and undermining national security in refusing to appropriately prosecute radical Islamic terrorism.  My purpose is to expose related truths of his presidency, some of which are suppressed by the political correctness of remaining silent.

The signs

            Shortly after the 2008 election I told a losing municipal candidate that Obama’s upcoming administration will be about “getting whitey”.  He quietly agreed.  Given the historical significance of that election, the 95% black vote for Obama, and mass media adulation, I meant the new president was determined to “get ours” with a racial animus.  Perhaps his return of the Churchill bust to Great Britain immediately upon occupying the Whitehouse was a symbol of that mindset.  To be sure, the left has given him a green light to get away with whatever he can.  Indeed, his disregard throughout his presidency for the law he is sworn to uphold has demonstrated that propensity to push the envelope.

            Dinesh D’Souza’s 2012 documentary film, “2016: Obama’s America”, portrays Obama as inimical to American tradition and exceptionalism.  He suggests this sentiment is influenced by his father’s anti-colonialist, anti-West bent reflected in Obama’s book “Dreams from My Father”, and his own experience raised in a Muslim environment in Indonesia.  And no doubt his half-black parentage makes him sympathetic to redressing past social injustices and the current plight of his people. The problem is this mindset has undermined what’s best for America regarding economic and social wellbeing, and has weakened our institutions of justice, democracy and the rule of law. 

President Obama through his imperious agencies and executive orders has promoted affirmative action, an open southern border, and wealth redistributionist policies, especially through the Department of Justice, EEOC, Homeland Security/ICE, HHS, HUD, the CFPB and the Defense Department.  Accordingly, he embraces the current income inequality mantra of the left that disproportionately implicates blacks.  His agenda is particularly reflected by unwavering tax and spend proposals, selective prosecutions, immigration policy, and regulatory injustices in health care, housing, hiring and lending – all with race in mind.  Accordingly, during Obama’s tenure the government has compiled massive databases classifying the population by race. 

And what is one to make of the notorious thug, Al Sharpton, getting so much access to the Whitehouse, and prominently featured at the presidential table no less?  Additionally, Obama’s allegiance to environmental and labor groups has been aimed in part at garnering campaign support for himself and Democrats to foster the implementation of his racial agenda.  In fact, paradoxically, he is so beholden to the teacher unions he opposes charter schools despite their overwhelmingly support in black communities.

            Obama’s virtual suspension of border enforcement and his promotion of amnesty for illegal immigrants are aimed at ultimately entrenching the leftist agenda through new Democratic voting.  But he also wants to diminish the white race through the browning of America.  In the traditional sense, President Obama seems downright anti-American.

            And consider his Muslim-sympathizing posture, starting with the bevy of Muslim advisors the president employs and receives at the Whitehouse.  Perhaps relatedly, he plans to resettle 10,000, and possibly in time up to 200,000, Syrian refugees to the U.S. in the wake of the latest ISIS attack in Paris which involved at least one known Syrian assailant.  This, despite opposition from more than 30 governors and over half the American people polled, and notwithstanding the FBI and CIA Directors conceding the lack of resources to vet them.  What’s more, surveys indicate that some 15% of Syrian refugees sympathize with ISIS.  Fortunately, the House garnered a veto-proof majority in support of a bill to defer any refugee admissions until a vetting process is established.  But Obama still dismisses opponents to this proposal as racists.  And according to Governor Chris Christie on Fox News, Obama already has placed a number of Syrians throughout the U.S. through non-governmental organizations (NGOs), such as Catholic Charities, without even informing the governors.  For Obama, accommodation to Muslims overrides the safety of Americans.  Would he feel the same about, say, Scandinavian refugees infiltrated by white terrorists?  

Obama refuses to acknowledge the term radical Islamic terrorism, referring to the mass murder at Fort Hood by an Islamic officer an act of workplace violence.  He has imposed political correctness on the military purging manuals and documents of all references to Islamic terrorism.  And, he has hampered military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan subjecting personnel to prosecution for perceived violations of mandated restraint in the rules of engagement.  Reportedly, the president has refrained from attacking ISIS oil sites out of concern for damaging the environment, and has withheld fire to promote the narrative that Al Quaeda is on the run.  Some 80% of U.S. sorties return without releasing their ordnance because targets cannot be identified in the absence of necessary ground troop guidance which Obama does not authorize.

The president insists on treating Islamic detainees as criminals for prosecution in the courts rather than as enemy combatants subject to military law.  Accordingly, he has been hellbent on closing the detention center for Islamic captives in Guantanamo Bay.  Currently he plans to send the captives to facilities in the U.S. in direct contravention of a Congressional ban, flouting the law once again.  And his occasional utterances in Arabic are off-putting.  President Barak Hussein Obama is a Muslim sympathizer, if not a Muslim himself.  It is said he is loath to appear waging war on all Muslims.  Indeed, he is reluctant to combat any Muslim.

            All four Governors of the Federal Reserve Bank are now Obama appointees.  Notwithstanding the Fed’s supposed independence, is it a coincidence that interest rates have been kept at near-record lows for so long considering they accommodate government borrowing that finances much of the spending in Obama’s racial agenda?  Just sayin’.

Fiscal policy

            Obama has steadfastly refused to cut non-defense spending and has insisted on continually shifting the tax burden to the rich while exempting almost half the population from federal income tax.  This is the ultimate Robin Hood redistributionist scheme that largely benefits the black underclass, which, by affecting many whites as well, buys broad political support.  To Obama and his ilk, bigger government is the solution to the plight of the poor. 

Taxpayer-funded health care subsidies and Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, as well as myriad social programs, weigh on federal and state budgets.  The government has fraudulently siphoned funds to ACORN and its successor organizations much of which finances leftist political activity aimed at promoting wealth redistribution to blacks.  Obama’s tripling of food stamp spending during his tenure, his expansion of welfare eligibility and discontinuation of work for welfare, as wellas his expansion and abuse of the free cell phone program for the low income population, all accrue disproportionately to blacks.  Indeed, given government accommodations, one might say the race glass is half full in need of behavioral change and personal responsibility to fill the void, rather than half empty requiring more government help as the left always claims.

One might ask, “What’s wrong with some life enhancements for this segment of humanity?  The problem is that it is a slippery slope that could turn into a runaway train that is difficult to rein in politically, all the while encouraging permanent dependence.  And many amenities to the poor are granted surreptitiously where government is fooling productive Americans.  As a consequence, America’s underclass with its government largesse lives better than the general population of many nations while the costs become imbedded in the budget baseline probably forever given the difficulty achieving entitlement spending cuts.  Why doesn’t Obama promote the qualities needed to earn one’s way to a better life?  Rather, he fosters the tyranny of low expectations and the perpetuation of the welfare state at the expense of the national interest.  Income redistribution is so much easier for a president.  And Obama is cashing in for his people, ultimately to their detriment. 

Law enforcement

            The Justice Department under Attorney General Eric Holder, a black man who displays a similar racial chip on his shoulder as the president, advanced the notion of disparate impact as a basis for establishing discrimination in hiring, lending and housing.  There is no sign that this zeal is abating under his successor, Loretta Lynch, a black woman.  Disparate impact holds that a statistical outcome which is at variance with overall black representation in an area constitutes de facto discrimination regardless of any evidence of intent to discriminate.  Outrageously, in June 2015 the Supreme Court upheld the theory with regard to the Fair Housing Act of 1968.  However, some other applications have been struck down in lower courts.  On the basis of disparate impact determinations, the Obama administration is scheming to force developers to build heavily subsidized housing in upscale neighborhoods for blacks and other low income populations who are greatly underrepresented.  In addition, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) created under the Dodd-Frank Act applies flimsy disparate impact evidence to construe racial discrimination in auto lending.

The president undermines the separation of powers through executive order, as well as highly expansive interpretations of legislation in the executive rulemaking process enforced by his agencies in implementing laws passed by Congress.  Recognizing that Congressional political will and the capacity of the courts to challenge the president are limited, Obama takes a “sue me” approach to policy, audaciously pushing the envelope.

            The President and Eric Holder inserted themselves in high profile racial events second-guessing local law enforcement, including incidents involving Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fl., Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., Freddie Martin in Baltimore, Md. and a black Harvard professor in Cambridge, Ma., all helping to spawn the dubious “Black Lives Matter” movement.  The catalyst is always a white on black event while nothing is said about the rampant black on black crime that devastates so many black communities.  The Justice Department has forced changes in the Ferguson, Mo. police force, despite ultimately acknowledging the innocence of police officer Darryl Wilson who had to resign.  In addition, federal monitors have been placed in many cities. 

Many believe this kind of intervention and publicity are a prelude to the federal takeover of local police.  Already a reluctance to use appropriate police aggression undermines public safety and the quality of life.  Ignored is the highly disproportionate crime committed by blacks that inevitably results in incommensurate conflict with the police.  Indeed, the president through his pronouncements has lent credence to the Black Lives Matter movement which disingenuously claims such encounters are predicated on gratuitous police malice toward blacks.  Black grievance purported by the group is now encroaching acquiescent academia amid support from many naïve white students and cowardly college administrators.

            The Justice Department has diverted sizable portions of the post-financial crisis multibillion-dollar settlements with major banks to the aforementioned corrupt successor organizations of ACORN that serve black communities.  According to The Wall Street Journal, Justice directs settlement funds to such Obama political allies as The National Council of La Raza, The National Urban League, The National Community Reinvestment Coalition and NeighborWorks undermining constitutional Congressional authority over spending.  In 2009, the Justice Department dropped prosecution started in the Bush administration of a New Black Panther who terrorized voters outside a polling place in Philadelphia during the 2008 election.  And Obama’s attorneys general steadfastly exempt sanctuary cities from immigration law despite numerous horrific acts of violence by illegal aliens, and in the face of national security implications amid heightened terrorist threats.

Obama’s apparent sympathy for Muslims comes through in the failure of his compliant Justice Department to vigorously prosecute alleged terrorists despite abundant evidence of wrongdoing.  (Of course, properly treating them as war combatants is off the table for Obama.)  As mentioned, he refuses to link radical Islam with terrorism, and restricts interrogation techniques.  Rather, the president released five very high ranking Muslim detainees for what now appears to have been a known deserter, while celebrating the event on the front lawn of the Whitehouse featuring the deserter’s white father speaking Arabic.  What an insult to the American people, not to mention those who fought and died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

            Earlier this year, Christian Adams, a former federal attorney in Eric Holder’s Justice Department, said on Fox News that Holder is “obsessed with race”.  He also asserted much of the staff at the agency now is grossly incompetent.  Might that be because of aggressive affirmative action hiring that substitutes race for professional qualifications? 

In a speech delivered on a Hillsdale College cruise in July, Michael B. Mukasey, former U.S. Attorney General under President George W. Bush, said support for left-leaning activities has become a hiring criterion in the Department of Justice.  And he said public display of that sentiment in and out of the office in the form of posters has become common.

Affirmative action

We may never know how many affirmative action hires fill the ranks of the Obama administration who, never to be fired, will imbed Obama’s racial mindset in government for years to come.  And racial interference extends beyond government to the corporate subjects of regulators who are compelled to cooperate or suffer reprisals.  A president is entitled to appoint whom he wants.  But one wonders whether Obama is relying on gratuitous black appointments at the expense of effectiveness and security just for the sake of raising the black profile in government.  And to be sure, such a practice helps to advance the general black agenda as well.  Consider Susan Rice as National Security Advisor.  She’s been seemingly invisible as the nation’s security is threatened by terrorists like never before.  Many more effective whites are probably available for the job.  But then again, Obama is not really interested in fighting Muslims. 

A personal anecdote illustrates the tactics employed to promote affirmative action at General Motors when it was controlled by the U.S. government following its bailout.  The rescue was prompted by a fateful business decline exacerbated by the deep economic recession following the 2008 financial crisis.  In the circumstance, GM became something of a ward of the state subject to the machinations of government bureaucrats.  

            In March, 2010 I interviewed for a financial executive position with GM at its New York office.  Initially, I, a white man, met with a most unfriendly HR manager, a black woman.  Without any introduction she asked to take a copy of my driver’s license which she said was necessary because the position was assigned a company car.  This seemed most bizarre before I even sat for a single interview.  Nonetheless, after meeting with several executives I felt pretty good about my prospects.  Two weeks later I received a call from an HR representative in Detroit to return for a second series of interviews in New York.  Upon arriving I waited about an hour without any guidance as the New York HR woman I met previously was absent that day and apparently told no one about my appointment.  Finally, when the executives I was scheduled to meet appeared they seemed quite flummoxed about my being there.  One asked me who arranged the appointment.  He did not seem to recognize the name of the HR person in Detroit who called me.  Nevertheless, the interviews proceeded.  In the end I was never more confident of an imminent offer, especially since I was already told of a trip to review operations in Brazil upon coming aboard.  (One should not count chickens before hatched but this case seemed a slam dunk never before experienced in countless job interviews throughout my near 40-year career.)

            But the absence of any further contact reinforced my suspicions about the strange series of events – the steely demeanor of the HR manager, her preoccupation with my driver’s license, and the lack of her coordination with the interviewing executives.  Here’s the theory I surmised at the time.  The federal government through the EEOC was coercing affirmative action in GM hiring and was the HR manager’s first allegiance.  She could not have cared less about the hiring executives because she was taking orders from the EEOC. (Perhaps she was even an EEOC employee.)  Her job was to systematically monitor the race of applicants to assert discrimination and thus ensure a plentiful crop of black hires.  The drivers’ license with a photo affixed was used to document the race of applicants and establish patterns of racial bias.  It would appear the New York HR manager interfered with my candidacy sometime after the Detroit HR manager scheduled my second series of interviews, thus accounting for the executives’ confusion when I arrived.

            Lo and behold, four years later my suspicions were affirmed in an editorial in The Wall Street Journal, April 17, 2014.  It was entitled “Opinion of the Year” with a call out “You won’t believe how the EEOC tried to prove racial bias.”  The article cited a federal court’s decision and outright rebuke against the EEOC in its disparate impact case against a company for discriminatory credit and criminal background checks based on a review of drivers’ licenses.  According to The Wall Street Journal:

                        … the EEOC had… assembled a team of five “race raters”

to look at the drivers’ licenses of a sample of applicants and

then classify them by race.  If four of the five agreed on the

race of the individual, the applicant was classified by that race.

            Indeed, the GM HR manager was only concerned with enforcing the EEOC’s racial agenda by contriving evidence of discrimination.  It would seem having formally established my white race in the rating process, the HR manager eliminated me from further consideration, perhaps by telling the executives I withdrew my candidacy.

As mentioned, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) tried a similar tactic to demonstrate discrimination in auto loan interest rates.  The agency claimed outrageously that any borrower with a black sounding name, such as Johnson or Washington, who pays a higher than normal rate is a victim of de facto discrimination.  Happily the House voted overwhelmingly against the CFPB’s attempt to prevent dealers from negotiating interest rates so that minorities would not be disadvantaged by typically lower credit scores.  It is hoped the Senate will follow through on this issue.  Yes, the Obama administration is obsessed with race.

Immigration

            Especially disgraceful has been President Obama’s abdication of his responsibility to enforce immigration law.  In the spirit of the fourteen-year old Dream Act proposal, he bypassed Congress in 2014 to grant by executive order temporary legal living status along with social security numbers for 5 million illegal immigrants.  This adds insult to injury sustained from another unilateral action the president took in 2013 that grants amnesty to illegals who arrived before the age of 16, subject to certain conditions.  Fortunately, the 2014 injustice has been overruled in the courts.  The Justice Department has appealed and the case likely will be heard by the Supreme Court.  In the meantime, criminal deportations have declined as Obama continues to order border patrol agents to practically stand down, as well as allow sanctuary cities to break the law with impunity. 

Also reprehensible is the president’s inaction since 2014 with respect to the tens of thousands of children crossing the southern border from Central America at the risk of rape and murder.  Rather, Obama quietly resettles them in communities throughout the country at great distress to locals.  Some believe Obama orchestrated this migration knowing that legal recourse is impracticable given required court hearings for all, most of whom fail to appear.  Separately, Obama’s position on admitting unvetted Syrian refugees into the U.S. is just the latest indication of his obsession with diversity, even at the expense of national security.  Obama disdains the racial status quo of America.

            As mentioned, the purpose of Obama’s immigration policy is to establish a legacy that sets the stage for an eventual windfall of new Democratic voters predisposed to big government and its largesse.  And the subsequent chain migration of relatives that follows reinforces that prospect.  He knows an ongoing liberal agenda will sustain minorities as the traditional meritocracy never will.  But a corollary to this demographic transformation through immigration is to facilitate rendering the white population to minority status.  Obama harbors a certain scorn for whites predicated on bias experienced growing up, and possibly on his mixed race.  This attitude is reflected even in a certain hostility for his white racist (his term) grandmother who raised him. (However, Obama also has expressed appreciation for her intervention.)  Some resentment might be generally understandable but is problematic for a President seeking payback.  The opportunity to turn the tables as President of the United States has grave implications.         

Health care

            The principal impetus behind Obama’s Affordable Care Act was to provide health care to the uninsured, a disproportionate percentage of which comprise the black underclass.  In typical redistributionist fashion his program taxes the haves to fund premium subsidies for the have nots.  In the process, taxpayers fund a massive expansion of Medicaid, $750 billion of which is transferred from Medicare, while the non-subsidized pay much higher premiums and deductibles than before.  Taxpayers also finance bailouts of insurers to cover losses resulting from expensive mandated coverages, too many unhealthy insureds, and too few healthy policyholders.  In fact, government sponsored insurance cooperatives are falling like dominos, and the largest insurer, UnitedHealthcare, is considering opting out of the Obamacare exchanges.  Many believe insurer failures are by design in the grand plan for a single-payer system.  After all, government control of health care, some one-sixth of the economy, establishes a great opportunity to expand the liberal agenda which accrues primarily to minorities.  As such, premiums are means tested and the Affordable Care Act is replete with affirmative action provisions that apply throughout the health care system. 

As insurers fail and enrollment falters, premiums, deductibles and copayments are rising while doctor and hospital networks narrow.  As a consequence, even the needy targeted by Obama are not really insured since out-of-pocket expenditures are so high.  And catastrophic coverage for major illness may not exist because of network restrictions.  For example, unless the hospital and all the attending physicians, including myriad specialists, are members of a plan’s network, a patient can be exposed to a huge bill that bypasses the out-of-pocket policy limit unbeknownst to policyholders.  This was not the case before Obamacare.  Because many reject coverage and pay a penalty due to the costs and restrictions, the number of uninsured is still what it was before the Affordable Care Act.  Ironically, many of those who opt out despite premium subsidies are the low income people for whom Obamacare was established.  But not to worry.  Obama gets credit for the illusion that blacks are better off.

            While rising health care costs were a problem before Obamacare, conservatives have proposed many alternative plans based on market competition that drive costs down and provide desirable affordable coverage for everyone.  Among their remedies are tax advantaged health savings accounts, interstate policy sales, and the option to purchase cheaper catastrophic insurance.  But free market consumer choice is antithetical to the government health care model, which is another tool for restricting individual freedom and redistributing income in order to empower Washington under the guise of helping the downtrodden.  Obama will not forsake redistributionist policies, even for failed programs, because they ensure a government role and are as a whole indispensable for sustaining the black community.  To concede the failure of one government program undermines the entire egalitarian mission of the left.

Affordable housing

            Federal affordable housing policy was the seminal cause of the 2008 financial crisis because government mandated banks, as well as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to relax mortgage underwriting standards to increase home ownership among minorities.  Nevertheless, accommodations to low income borrowers continue apace in Obama’s messianic zeal to transfer wealth to minorities through credit subsidies.  This results in higher interest rates for other borrowers to cover the greater credit risk, as well as potential taxpayer losses from Fannie and Freddie loan guarantees. 

In the aftermath of the crisis President Obama and Congress considered diminishing or dissolving the two home finance government sponsored entities in recognition that government’s role in housing was excessive.  Nevertheless, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the conservator of Fannie and Freddie since the crisis, continues to lower lending standards for the mortgages they purchase from banks.  Obama’s 2013 appointment of Melvin Watt to head the agency was telling considering he is a black man with no mortgage experience.  Not surprisingly, on his watch Fannie and Freddie have relaxed underwriting criteria and down payment requirements for mortgages they purchase.  What’s more, the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) has lowered the fee it charges lower income borrowers to insure their mortgages.  Recently, Obama changed his inclination to unwind Fannie and Freddie to supporting continuation of the agencies and their historical mission, which is largely aimed at minorities.

            As mentioned, President Obama is trying to impose affordable housing in affluent communities on the basis of bogus disparate impact criteria advanced by the Justice Department.  If past is prologue, white flight would ensue in the wake of plummeting property values and quality of life, leaving the lavish spoils to the new minority occupants.  Yet another way of redistributing wealth, and destroying neighborhoods he disdains.

Student loans

            While the federal student loan program benefits all races, the virtually unrestricted lending criteria and Obama’s increasing repayment concessions disproportionately benefit minorities who can least afford college.  As such, he would like to go further and accommodate the growing cry for blanket loan forgiveness and free college as a new entitlement.  In fact, the federal takeover of college loans, codified in the Obamacare legislation, and the growing impairment of the portfolio may be a prelude to that eventuality.  Again, the resulting government augmentation reinforces and perpetuates the redistributionist model that redounds largely to blacks.  It also compounds the intrusive national debt.    One wonders if the president will try to saddle the taxpayer with forgiven student debt in a last gesture before leaving office.

Voter fraud

            A most transparent campaign to entrench Democrats in government and thereby color America to Obama’s delight, is the left’s acquiescence to illegal voting by minorities with full support from Obama.  This is apparent in the ardent opposition to voter ID laws which liberals falsely claim are aimed at suppressing the minority vote.  In fact, the left refuses to even acknowledge that significant voting violations by minorities occur.  (Obama and the left should read John Fund’s two books about existential voter fraud.)  The left even supports proactive herding of illegals to the polling places by corrupt community organizing groups funded by federal monies.  As mentioned, Eric Holder dropping the New Black Panther voter intimidation case in Philadelphia is testament to the lawlessness in voting. 

            In 2014 the Supreme Court, in a case brought by the state of Alabama, ruled against a provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act requiring certain southern states with a history of abuse to seek federal approval to make voting procedural changes.  Obama and the left opposed this change even though such voting abuses have been absent for many years.  This is supported by the record numbers of minorities elected to state and local office in the South, and by the fact that a greater percentage of blacks in Alabama have been registered to vote than whites according to The Wall Street Journal.  Anything to perpetuate the specter of racial discrimination.

Prison release

            Another racial accommodation is President Obama’s release of criminal illegal aliens and so-called “non-violent” offenders from federal prisons, which, needless to say, affect minorities disproportionately.  Obama purportedly released many violent illegals because of space constraints, a good number of whom offended again.  In addition, some 6,000 drug offenders, and many more to come, were granted early release to align sentences with the severity of the crimes committed.  This concession applies to many drug dealers who did not engage in violent acts, such as murder or assault, or consort with gangs. 

            And Obama has instructed his agencies to discontinue asking about a criminal record on employment applications.  The so-called “ban the box” initiative prevents employers from initially asking applicants about felonies in the interest of accommodating former inmates in their transition to normal life.

To be fair, making punishment fit the crime and allowing for possible personal redemption are compelling considerations for preventing incarceration from destroying a life.  But the historical propensity for criminal activity among blacks is a major reason many non-blacks are wary of them.  Suppressing a criminal record would eliminate a means of distinguishing the good from the bad.  As a consequence, this policy could result in more discrimination in hiring and housing to avoid the chance of liability or peril from criminal acts.

Conclusion

            Many black public figures evidence racial animus – Eric Holder, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, etc.  But as president, it’s a problem.  Because he represents all America, he should not predicate his leadership on redressing the perceived grievances of small minorities and diminishing the influence of the white majority.  But Obama’s policies promoting wealth redistribution and illegal immigration while dismissing the threat of radical Islamics do just that.  Dr. Ben Carson, Herman Cain and other black conservatives have shown no sign of that preoccupation while acknowledging past injustices.  Rather, they embrace universal American interests recognizing racial relations have improved enormously such that opportunities are relatively rife.  Fretting about the distant past is unproductive.

Obama and the liberals sympathize with black grievances that flow from the legacy of slavery, lynching and societal discrimination imbedded in the black psyche.  As such, they dwell on ongoing government recompense for that experience that brings adverse economic and social consequences. Conservatives focus on the self-inflicted causes of the black plight including family breakdown, crime, and the failure to appreciate the value of education.  They highlight 50 years of failed government remedies and excuses for continued hardship.  The president joins the media and the left turning a blind eye to the realpolitik of the black malaise while using the unique powers of his office to compensate his people at the expense of the commonweal.  He should use the bully pulpit to inspire the black community to adopt the values that optimize success, as reflected in some of his own achievements.  Rather than acknowledge the failings of the black community, the left blames “white privilege” which supposedly bestows automatic societal advantage – yeah, but a benefit that is earned either directly or by dint of meritorious ancestry.  Blacks should strive for the same.

But Obama doesn’t care about the real solution.  He’s more interested in presiding over giveaways and payback while also bringing America down in the global context.  His tactics for transforming America and establishing that legacy will only become more aggressive as the end of his term approaches.  And much he puts in place is inextricable.  God help us.


©2015 William J. Dodwell



Donald Trump:  Change Agent or Buffoon?

 

By William J. Dodwell    April 25, 2016


            Donald Trump’s heretofore successful candidacy for president reveals new forces at play among the electorate disaffected by the Washington establishment and a feckless and diffident Republican Party.  His supporters are understandably sick of political correctness and the duplicitousness of Republicans in Congress as they cave to the Democrats, despite past promises and healthy legislative majorities.  Notwithstanding Trump’s many flaws, he has truly struck a nerve in American politics as a genuine outsider committed to breaking the mold.

 

            This iconoclast has produced the “Trump phenomenon” that is the unique political dynamic that constitutes his persona vis a vis the voters, media, Republican establishment, nomination process, and his rival candidates in an unprecedented political ascendancy.  Herewith, an analysis.

 

Trump’s appeal

 

            More than anything else, Trump’s overt rejection of political correctness has put him on the political map.  That is to be applauded.  His straight talk about immigration, mass deportation and the building of a wall on the southern border has accorded with pent up frustration on both sides of the aisle.  His focus on the atrocities of illegal aliens perpetrated against the citizenry, and on the burden they create for American workers they displace, has triggered a spark. Other issues striking a chord are his call for a return to American hegemony on the world stage, serious help for veterans, restrictions on Muslim entrants, a true commitment to destroying ISIS, and a return of jobs moved overseas.  In addition, his proclaimed self-funding and the independence it buys from special interests is an important drawing card. (He has not ruled out fundraising in the general election.)

 

            Despite Trump’s mega-wealth, he identifies with the working class.  He grew up well off in Queens, New York City, not among the Manhattan elites, who to this day do not accept him entirely.  He started working with his father building low and middle income housing in Brooklyn and Queens.  But Trump’s ambition and courage brought him to the big time in Manhattan.  As a consequence, he built a multibillion-dollar real estate portfolio that includes several properties that helped to revitalize sections of New York City, especially when it was in serious decay in the 1970s.

 

            Trump’s populist appeal has roused many blue collar democrats, independents and lapsed voters, as evidenced by the huge crowds he attracts at his rallies and by the record turnouts at primaries and caucuses.  Indeed, his supporters include legions of low information voters who ironically plagued the Republican campaign in 2012 from the left.  His support rests on principles of sovereignty, a strong defense, fiscal soundness and economic prosperity devoid of philosophical trappings in a sometimes fanciful delivery of style over substance.  Widespread public anger over President Obama’s lies and executive overreach, geopolitical weakness and political correctness gone amuck drives Trump’s popularity.  And no doubt, his business success and fighting spirit inspire confidence in his ability to be president.  At the same time, the propagandist left and its dupes portray Trump as a racist, xenophobe and fascist.

 

            Trump’s outsider candidacy evokes another billionaire businessman renegade in Ross Perot who ran in 1992 as an independent against George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, often leading in the polls.  His promise “to get under the hood” to fix America’s problems rang true to a country beset by immediate economic weakness.  Like Trump, he warned about trade policy, but lost a televised debate with Al Gore about the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on Larry King’s program. Although Perot garnered 19% of the popular vote in the general election, he scored no electoral votes.  Nevertheless, he denied Bush a second term in the process.  Would the electorate support the Trump aberration in the general, or deliver a reprise of Perot’s fate amid a wave of second thoughts?  Voters can be fickle.

 

Media accommodation

 

            Unlike any candidate in political history, Trump has attracted enormous free media coverage because of the political tsunami he has created.  One reason for the largesse is the outsize ratings he generates for television and radio which supersede their aversion for Trump’s conservative and politically incorrect positions. If not for his massive popularity, Trump would not be covered as he has been, particularly for his views on immigration. Indeed, hosts are desperate to interview him for personal and network ratings. 

 

That motivation engenders a certain media pandering to Trump.  But other considerations preclude reproach as well.  Some suppress their criticism out of fear of inciting his wrath in the form of public verbal trashing.  Others fear lawsuits from the litigious candidate who unsuccessfully sued an author for defamation in response to a challenge to his billionaire status.  And no doubt many curry favor with him in the hope of continued donations and business contracts, as well as cabinet posts and sinecures in a Trump administration. Other media commentators have longstanding friendships which no doubt temper their fire.  Fox’s Jean Pirro, as she discloses, has been Trump’s friend for decades and received his donations during five runs for office.  As such, she would never give him the third degree.  His long relationships with Fox’s Sean Hannity and Greta Van Susteren also protect him from rebuke.

 

Peter Johnson, a Fox legal analyst (and Democrat), said on the air, “Trump is the smartest person I know.”  Really?  I sensed at the time he was pandering because he or his law firm does business with the Trump organization.  Sure enough some time later he acknowledged that, not to be repeated again by my observation.  Then amazingly, during an apparent lull in their relationship regarding interview access, Bill O’Reilly of Fox, who amicably has pressed Trump in his interviews, also said recently, “He is the smartest person I know.”  Really?  More than Charles Krauthammer or his other colleagues at Fox?  What is the evidence of Trump’s superior intelligence?  It certainly is not displayed in his policy explications.  And he’s no strategic genius as his campaign has been criticized for a weak ground game.  In fact, his failure to compete in Colorado out of an ignorance of the delegate game there earned Cruz 40 delegates while he was shut out.  Perhaps his business savvy has earned him the intellectual praise.

 

            Many on the right suspect the media promote Trump because he is Hillary Clinton’s easiest opponent in the general election.  As such, liberal media would love to see Trump win the Republican nomination.  If Clinton wins against a weak Trump, the media will have enjoyed both a political and economic victory.

 

Trump’s personal shortcomings

 

            To be sure, Trump does not embody the typical presidential profile.  He is vulgar, inarticulate and uninformed.  Mentally and emotionally unstable, immature and thin-skinned, he lacks the conventional qualities of a president.  He repeats the same mantras:  Make America great again (his theme); Romney choked; China eats our lunch; we never win anymore; I built a great company.  He can’t expound on any issue as he constantly repeats himself and digresses into subreferences and non sequiturs.  Indeed, his bravado which attracts so many supporters also alienates others as evidenced by his more than 60% unfavorable rating, including some 78% among women.

 

            Trump brags about his wealth which is an integral part of his brand.  He cites his net worth as $10 billion but people in the know recognize that is grossly inflated.  Forbes Magazine in its 2016 annual list of the world’s billionaires reports his wealth at $4.5 billion based on the work of a special analyst assigned this particular billionaire.  Trump’s figure does not accord with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) that auditors attest to for public corporations as required by the SEC.  Rather, he values properties at the present discounted value of future revenue streams that are exaggerated estimates and sheer guesses.  However, his portfolio carries relatively little debt having discharged much of it through four bankruptcies some years ago.

 

            And then there is his behavior.  Testament to his immaturity are:  his facetious comment about Carly Fiorina’s face (who ironically is an attractive woman); his outrageous dismissal of John McCain’s heroism because he was captured (subsequently retracted); his mockery of a disabled reporter; and his childish name calling directed at his rivals as in “little Marco” and “lyin’ Ted”.  Trump says he will become presidential if elected.  He also has suggested a reluctant “pivot” to normal demeanor in the general election.

 

Trump always judges people in terms of how “nice” they are (to him) rather than on the basis of substance, a sign of his fragile ego.  For example, he seems naively flattered by Putin’s complimentary remarks about him, which, of course, are really aimed at buttering him up in case he is elected president.  Actually, that mutual admiration society started with Trump’s expressed conciliatory posture toward Putin.  In one of the debates Trump bragged about a friendly live exchange with Putin in the “green room” of “60 Minutes” in September 2015 before their segments aired.  But the truth was exposed later that Putin appeared via satellite separately and continents apart.  This fib compares with Hillary Clinton’s prevarication about taking gunfire on the tarmac in Bosnia in the 1990s.  Too bad.  Now Trump may lose some good ammunition he could use against her in the general election if he is nominated.

 

            Trump is largely ignorant about the issues and has no desire to change.  This is particularly odd as to economics which has been touted his strong suit given his Wharton background and successful business career.  (He attended the Wharton School of Finance as an undergraduate, not the more prestigious graduate school which has the global reputation he boasts about.)  In his comments about trade he seems to have confused the trade deficit with the budget deficit and national debt.  He decries the growing $19 trillion debt but opposes any cut to entitlements which constitute more than 70% of government spending.  Similarly, he supports former Republican Senator Connie Mack’s “Penny Plan” which calls for cutting 1% of spending across the board annually, but he would not touch entitlements.

 

            Trump was rebuked for his apparent ignorance about the nuclear triad (the nuclear delivery capability from the ground, sea and air.) when questioned in the fifth debate.  He also suggested China is a participant in the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks during a tirade against that country until Rand Paul corrected him.

 

            Trump thinks he can substitute his negotiation skills developed from his many real estate deals for knowledge and judgment about complex issues.  That and his general hoopla might sell in the primaries but he would have to face realpolitik in the general election and convince a much larger and more serious electorate.  As odious as she is, Hillary Clinton would clobber him in the debates.  But maybe this cycle audaciousness trumps substance. 

 

Trump would not be where he is today but for a uniquely exasperated electorate that is willing to overlook his many foibles.  One suspects he never expected to last this long, perhaps explaining why he has not assembled a conventional campaign apparatus. (That is currently changing.)  He is reminiscent of former professional wrestler, Jesse Ventura, who ran for governor of Minnesota in 1998 on a lark.  He wound up winning the race but declined to seek re-election.  Some have questioned if Trump’s heart is really in the race or whether is he is just stoking his ego?  At this stage he has to be committed.

 

            Nonetheless, Trump looked very much in his element when he spoke at the New York State Republican Party dinner prior to the primary at the hotel he rebuilt from ashes in his late twenties.  He related interesting anecdotes about his New York real estate projects that revealed a special talent.  At that location he had come full circle from starting his Manhattan career to addressing the state’s Republican leaders as the subsequent winner of the primary in a blowout, and the almost continuous front runner in the Republican campaign.

 

Trump’s policy problems

 

            Several of Trump’s policy positions have given him trouble in the media.  To wit: Deportation of some 11 million illegal immigrants; building a wall on the southern border and making Mexico pay for it; delay in denouncing David Duke; neutrality about the Israel/Palestine conflict (later recanted); a moratorium on U.S. entry for all Muslims; punishment for women who have abortions (later recanted); a reevaluation of NATO; and making other nations pay more for our involvement in their defense.  He even suggested they develop their own nuclear weapons.  Some other utterances in his past have alienated the conservative base.  But so far, Trump’s Teflon quality has endured.

 

Taxes

 

Trump’s tax plan proposes marginal rate cuts for individuals and businesses, and lower corporate and capital gains rates.  In addition, he calls for a special low rate on the repatriation of overseas profits to unleash some $2 trillion of overseas profits onto the U.S. economy (if not invested in acquisitions and stock buybacks).  Critics say this plan will blow up the deficit and debt.  However, Larry Kudlow, conservative economist at CNBC, praises Trump’s plan as pro-growth.  

 

Immigration

 

            Trump’s position on illegal immigration launched his candidacy.  He put the issue back in play just when the Republican Party was ready to make serious concessions in its platform to shore up the Hispanic vote for the election.  Trump turned the argument completely around in blunt terms that no one had the courage to say.  For that he won the support of millions of angry voters.  Bravo!  In particular, he cited the fact of many Mexican rapists and murderers among those crossing the border.  Naturally, his critics misrepresent his statement demagogically claiming he referred to all Mexicans in an effort to brand him a racist.  Of course, truth does not mean much to the left.  And, unfortunately, many gullible Americans accept its lies and propaganda.  The nation is under siege by immigrants and terrorists and many citizens do not report transgressions or suspect behavior by foreigners out of fear of invoking the demons of political incorrectness.  The de facto prohibition on impolitic speech is indeed a scourge.

 

            Trump wants to end sanctuary cities, those liberal bastions that refuse to enforce federal immigration law resulting in safe harbor for countless repetitive offenders, many who have murdered, raped, kidnapped and assaulted innocent Americans.  His solution is to withhold federal funding from offending municipalities, and possibly prosecute law-breaking officials.  He calls for building a secure wall that will virtually eliminate the inflow of illegals, and claims he will make Mexico pay for it in the form of a tariff on their exports to the U.S.  Most controversially, he advocates deporting all 11 million or so illegals already living here while bringing back the good ones in accordance with the law.  As desirable as mass deportation is to perhaps most Americans, the Congress and the courts will obviate such an accomplishment, especially as entire industries and their markets that depend on illegals complain en masse:  hotels, restaurants, construction, landscapers, agriculture, etc.  But by simply stating his deportation policy repeatedly in populist riffs grows support for Trump’s candidacy. 

 

            Trump’s immigration stance also will help to ensure that potential Muslim subversives are fully vetted, to include Syrian refugees among them.  Accordingly, he proposes a moratorium on all Muslim entrants, and supports the inspection of mosques in the U.S.  Again, Congress and the courts may prevent the moratorium but just airing the sentiment widely and often reinforces his backing.

 

            Speaker Paul Ryan and others have denounced these measures saying, “It’s not who we are.”  A President Trump would presumably reject that silly cliche and do what is right to protect the nation’s security and sovereignty.  But protecting the quality of life diminished by culture clash is another consideration in immigration policy that no politician has the courage to invoke.

 

Trade

 

            Trump is particularly strident about trade and U.S. companies outsourcing operations overseas.  He says he will negotiate better trade deals and assign corporate takeover artist, Carl Icahn, and other proven business acquaintances to the task.  He opposes the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal with 12 Pacific Rim countries because of too many concessions that hurt American workers.  He will tax imports from U.S. companies that move out of the U.S., such as Nabisco and Carrier, and will impose tariffs on currency manipulators, notably China.  

 

Trump frequently cites the unfairness of currency devaluation but fails to offer a brief explanation of why that might be, as necessary for general audiences to understand and appreciate.  A devalued currency makes exports cheaper and therefore more competitive in world markets.  That translates into lower prices for American consumers as domestic producers mark down goods to compete with imports.  That discounting can squeeze profits to the point that companies have to lay off employees or even go out of business.

 

Trump speaks only about the effects of devaluation on workers and never mentions the benefits to a much larger population of consumers in the form of lower prices, better selection and improved products forced by competition.  His protectionist posture regarding imports invokes the specter of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act that sparked the Great Depression because it prompted retaliatory tariffs by trade partners. 

 

Trump denounces companies for moving operations to other countries but never acknowledges the taxes, regulation and labor costs (especially of union employees) that compel the move to remain competitive. Moreover, small businesses have to shut down altogether under the burden.  He decries the effect of devaluation on jobs but does not mention the benefit to consumers.  Could Trump be in Big Labor’s pocket?    

 

Big Labor

 

            Trump never criticizes the excessive salaries, benefits, pensions and work rules unions impose on companies.  That is because his business interests have relied heavily on organized labor and will in the future when his children take over (with the help of current executives).  He does not want retaliation against his current projects.  He cites the importance of education but never faults the teachers’ unions for the poor quality of public schools.  In fact, an important reason companies hire so many foreign workers (besides lower wages) is because not enough Americans are sufficiently skilled and educated to produce effective and competitive product anymore. This not only applies to technology.  Consider all the foreign bylines in the press, such as The Wall Street Journal.  Apparently, there is a dearth of sufficiently literate Americans. 

 

As president, Trump would support pro labor issues and appoint union advocates on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) who would establish costly precedents for business, as well as state and local governments.  Very disturbing is a news clip in which he is seen walking with Richard Trumka, head of the AFLCIO.  Trump’s cozy relationship with unions is never questioned, seemingly not even by conservatives.

 

            Ted Cruz in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper said he hears the Trump team is acting like “union thugs” threatening delegates to support him at the convention.  Tactics include constant harassing telephone calls at home.  Might Trumka be providing the henchmen?

 

Regulation

 

            Sour on banks from his many unpleasant experiences with real estate financings and debt restructurings, Trump may not be enthusiastic about pursuing Dodd-Frank relief, although he has opposed the law on the stump.  But he does support reigning in the predatory EPA. Moreover, he recognizes the climate change issue as a hoax involving a global wealth redistribution scheme executed through taxation, fines and litigation that enriches many of its principals.  Good for him!

 

Foreign policy

 

            Trump’s proposal to decentralize the defense of America’s allies is ill advised.  Re-assigning overseas troops stateside would cost more both economically and strategically to deploy them when needed, thus diminishing their threat to the enemy.  Encouraging the independent development of nuclear arsenals invites undue proliferation and risk.  But certainly the paper tiger that is now NATO must be shored up, and all beneficiaries of U.S. military assistance should compensate their benefactor fairly and bear an appropriate share of the cost of their defense.  To be sure, Trump would never negotiate such an outlandish agreement as the U.S. pact with Iran.  A policy of firmness that instills fear in potential enemies is a benign and protective deterrent.

 

Health care

 

On health care Trump has to offer solutions beyond just medical savings accounts and inter-state competition for insurance policy sales he touts in interviews.  His experience with health care for his employees, which he sometimes cites, makes him particularly credible.  Selling insurance across state lines will help but, according to Avik Roy of the Manhattan Institute, studies show that reform would only reduce policy costs about 5%.  Trump has to promote competition among health care providers.  Tax deductible medical savings accounts would do this by giving the consumer a stake in the cost and an incentive to shop around rather than rely on the employer bearing the cost.  But more is needed.  Insurers should be free to offer tailored policies with a sliding scale of coverages, premiums and deductibles, including high deductible catastrophic coverage, instead of the expensive one-size-fits all that is the Obamacare redistributionist model.

 

            Trump has to trumpet the failures of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) noting the rising premiums and deductibles and the narrowing networks of doctors and hospitals that worsen an already costly program for many.  In this socialist program higher income insureds subsidize lower income insureds, and taxpayers subsidize insurance company losses.  In addition, $700 billion was shifted from Medicare to prop up the fiasco.  It seems Republicans are afraid to criticize the ACA now because the national hue and cry of a few years ago has abated as the public has experienced the program.  But there is still great support for repeal and replace.  It has to be rekindled.

 

Accordingly, Trump has to highlight the losses many insurers incur.  This includes U.S. industry leader UnitedHealth Group which just announced withdrawal from the ACA exchanges, except in a few states.  Americans who lose their policies because insurers drop out of the market, as they are doing, may be forced to accept very limited Medicaid coverage which many Obamacare enrollees have but are advertised to be generously covered.  Trump should not be shy (imagine that!) about publicizing the notion that insurance company failures might have been expected from the beginning as a prelude to a single-payer system.  Obama’s perfidy about health care is well established.

 

            Republican politicians have been saying they want to repeal and replace Obamacare for years.  But only now has Congress begun to develop a detailed replacement bill.  Trump has to expose that inaction and pledge results.

 

Supreme Court nominations

 

            Happily, Trump is unequivocal about appointing conservatives in the mold of Antonin Scalia to the Supreme Court.  He even said recently he plans during the campaign to name a pool of about 10 candidates from which he would nominate to establish his conservative bona fides for the voters.

 

Expectations

 

            As stated, many Trump proposals could never be implemented as they will face insuperable opposition in the Congress and the courts.  And there is the question of his genuine conservatism given his past opinions and lack of specifics about his policies.  What’s more, he has walked back many campaign statements.  So what really is to be expected in a Trump presidency?  Will he be too conciliatory? Can he be trusted? 

 

Like President Obama, he could rely on executive order and aggressive administrative action through his agencies to get his way.  But it is hoped he would be more respectful of the Constitution, as two wrongs do not make a right.  In addition, a sustained Republican majority in the House and Senate would help him advance his conservative policies, as well as thwart any tilt to the left.

 

The opposition

 

The Trump phenomenon flies in the face of much more informed Republican rivals, some of whom are political outsiders too, and true conservatives.  Most of Trump’s opponents declared him unfit for the presidency with Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio deriding him as a “carnival barker”.  Only Ben Carson, Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee held their fire.  Carson and Christi now endorse Trump, doubtless eyeing nice spots in his administration that might position them for another run at the presidency.  And Huckabee’s daughter, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is now a senior adviser on the Trump campaign.

 

            Currently, his rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich are collaborating to deny Trump the 1,237 delegate majority before the convention.  By coordinating their campaign itineraries to concentrate on their respective strongholds, they hope to optimize the number of non-Trump delegates in the remaining primaries.  They say a Clinton – Trump race in November would be disastrous for the party and the nation.  But at the same time, an open convention gives them a chance for the prize.

 

As mentioned, many on the right question Trump’s conservatism.  He says past statements expressing left of center views and his political contributions to liberals were necessary to function as a high profile businessman, especially in New York City.  Now he claims as a politician he speaks his true mind which includes evolvement on some issues.  Pure conservatives do not buy it.  The National Review denounced him in a special issue featuring articles by 22 prominent conservatives stating the case for denying him the nomination because he lacks genuine conservative principles and appropriate decorum.  Indeed, Trump does not speak the language of conservatism as all the other Republican candidates have.  Rather than waxing philosophical, he embraces conservative principles in practical terms and expresses them in plain-spoken fashion.

 

The nomination process

 

Thus far, the primary and caucus voters opt for the renegade in the hope of breaking the mold of the Republican Party.  And Trump believes the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the GOP establishment are scheming behind the scenes to defeat him to protect the traditional quid pro quo culture involving contracts, political contributions, jobs, etc. now threatened by this interloper.  Some, including former candidate Dr. Ben Carson, even suggest the establishment, absent a white knight, might prefer defeat in the general election over submitting to the new order Trump would impose on them.  How far would the Republican apparatchiks go to subvert the voice of the people?  If the nomination comes down to the delegates rather than the voters in a contested convention, there could be a battle royal among the remaining candidates, the delegates and the party officials, coupled with a revolution by a disenfranchised electorate.  Trump is already sounding the alarm.

 

            To be fair, the delegate selection process and convention rules have been in place for many years.  But because voting beyond the first ballot at the convention has occurred only infrequently (most recently in 1976 for Republicans and 1984 for Democrats), the public, and apparently Trump, have not been aware of the party practices.  The nomination process is designed to select the most electable candidate in the general election.  Thus far, that process through the New York primary has awarded Trump 47% of the delegates with only 38% of the vote, which is suppressed by the participation of up to 16 other candidates.  Indeed, the U.S. is a representative democracy, i.e., a republic, promulgated by the Constitution.  As such, Congress votes on behalf of the people on federal issues in lieu of impracticable referenda.  Dissatisfaction with results can be redressed through elections.  Likewise, the Electoral College, not the popular vote, determines presidential winners in order to level the playing field for small states which otherwise would not attract the interest of the candidates.

 

            Is the will of the people subverted?  In the Republican nomination process a candidate must win 1,237delegates, being a majority, including a voting majority in the primaries and caucuses of eight states, to avoid a contested convention.  Perhaps problematically, convention rules may be changed in the week prior to the national confab that affect delegate eligibility and convention proceedings.  In a few states, such as Colorado and Pennsylvania, state officials, rather than voters, assign delegates to candidates.  If no candidate attains the 1,237 delegate threshold on the first ballot at the convention for which most delegates are pledged to the choice of the voters, the delegates are free to vote as they wish in subsequent ballots until a candidate garners the 1,237 delegate majority. Delegates released by candidates that have dropped out, principally Marco Rubio, are free to support who they want in the first ballot.  Likewise for delegates never bound by primary voting results, such as those from Pennsylvania. 

 

Generally, released delegates will take into account the candidate with the best chance of winning the general election.  On that score polls consistently show also-ran John Kasich the leader.  But delegate allegiance to local voters is also a factor.  Throughout the process, even before the convention, candidates could wine and dine, horse trade, and even bribe and threaten delegates for their allegiance in the ballot voting, notwithstanding the illegality of coercion, certain spending, and quid pro quo agreements.  And party insiders wield their influence behind the scenes as well, most likely to undermine Trump, their arch enemy.  As such, there is the potential, legally and illegally, to deny the people’s choice.

 

            The propriety of the so-called “super delegates on the Democratic side is truly questionable.  These unbound representatives constitute some 30% of the delegate majority required for the nomination who are free to support any candidate irrespective of the voting in the primaries and caucuses.  To date they support Hillary Clinton as a block seriously handicapping her opponent, Bernie Sanders.  As it happens, after the New York primary Sanders lags too far in the voting anyway for a plausible shot at the nomination.

 

Speculation abounds about whether the Republican Party machinations will produce a nominee who fared poorly in the primaries and caucuses, or even someone who did not run at all.  Trump believes the process is rigged to allow undue influence from donors, special interests and party insiders to deny him the nomination if he falls short of the 1,237 required delegates before the convention.  But some unbound delegates may fear the voter backlash to even the appearance of corruption enough to support Trump after the first ballot.  

 

Trump and others believe the winner of a plurality of the votes in the primaries and caucuses should be the nominee to reflect the will of the people.  But the rules are the rules and they require a majority win. One can argue about the inequities of the nominating process, but changes have to be decided long before the election.  As such, dissidents may work to amend the rules for the next cycle.

 

Conclusion

 

            Donald Trump has galvanized a dormant sector of the electorate for which business as usual in Washington and a politically correct agenda are anathema.  At the same time, his proposals seriously alienate the so-called GOP establishment which wants to protect the status quo for its benefit.  It also bemoans his lack of policy substance, stability and decorum that could preclude his victory in the general election, as indicated by a significantly higher net unfavorable rating than Cruz, Clinton and Sanders.  Can a yahoo president be good for America? 

 

Trump’s chief rival, Ted Cruz, is also a maverick who as a freshman senator has proven a commitment to benign change with a passionate dedication to the U.S. Constitution.  He also demonstrates qualities that make him more electable in the general.  Because of his frequent stands on principle, he is despised by his colleagues in the senate and reviled by the Republican Party leadership.  At a time when so many Americans have vented visceral discontent with the status quo, that vilification should be a badge of honor.

 

            Of course, it all comes down to the electorate.  Has a center right nation become center left, considering the popularity of self-described democratic socialist Bernie Sanders in the Democratic race?  Republican candidates have to buck the tide of gullible and disaffected chronically unemployed and underemployed youth saddled with student loan debt.  They also have to overcome deficits with blacks, Hispanics and women.  A dumbed down culture long fostered by schools, colleges and media downplays and even denigrates scholarship.  The body politic exploits racial tensions and promotes gross political correctness.  As a consequence, naive and uninformed voters susceptible to the appeals for evermore government providence hold undue sway.  This reality is antithetical to free markets and private enterprise, job creation, national security, and individual freedom essential to get the country back on track to strength and prosperity.

 

            But Republicans may take solace in the fact that the last two presidential cycles were dominated by the historical significance of the first black president, the Great Recession, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Those factors have largely receded, perhaps giving way to new thinking, especially considering the public anger with the status quo.  As such, considerable numbers of conservative Democrats, new voters and independents may combine with the Republican base to achieve victory in November.  May Donald Trump break the mold and Ted Cruz preside over the reform.

                                                                                        ©2016 William J. Dodwell


The Trump Tape:  Feigned Indignation in All Quarters

 

By William J. Dodwell    October 13, 2016


            The media are all aglow over the release of an audio tape that features a private conversation containing lascivious comments of Donald Trump in 2005 caught on a hot mike.  The left is salivating over the prospect of derailing his presidential bid while the spineless right joins in mass denunciation.  The fury is reminiscent of the highly politicized reaction to Missouri Republican Congressman Todd Akin’s comment about “legitimate rape” that launched the Democratic “war on women” campaign in the 2012 election cycle.  No doubt, many establishment Republicans are secretly cheering the bombshell. 

 

While some are genuinely offended by Trump’s purported gender transgressions, especially among educated “liberated” women, most take a politically correct stance through requisite expressions of scorn.  They include those who try to hurt the Trump campaign, and those who are too cowardly not to object to the tape because of how others might otherwise react.  Others are intimidated into silence rather than challenge the gambit. Actually, most could not care less about the expose.

 

The Todd Akin analogy

 

In 2012 a preoccupation with Todd Akin’s fallacious but substantively harmless comment about “legitimate rape” cost Republicans an almost assured senate seat that resulted in retaining the odious liberal, Claire McCaskill.  The media and the feminists trumped up artificial indignation in all quarters over his comment, including among Republicans and conservatives who considered support for Akin a political non-starter.  The ostensible tactic of the left was to depict Akin as inimical to women for lacking sensitivity for rape victims.  But the subtext was about the liberal obsession with the abortion issue. 

 

Akin posited, wrongly, that women who are raped are not likely to get pregnant because the reproductive system shuts down under the trauma.  The left tacitly feared that, in the event Roe v. Wade were overturned, Akin’s supposition, if it gained currency, would re-characterize rape so as to minimize it as a widely accepted exception to the right of an abortion among pro-life advocates.  This means his notion would eliminate the opportunity to feign rape as a means of having the procedure legally.  Akin would have won his race were it not for universal political posturing by media and all politicians that duped the voters about the significance of his casual utterance.  Once again, the drums are beating to defeat Trump in the guise of defending women.  What a sham!

 

Like the phony firestorm over Todd Akin’s politically incorrect comment, as well as the reaction to Romney’s “binders of women” remark during the 2012 race, the liberal media relish another opportunity to alienate women from the Republican presidential candidate.  Just as the mass feigned indignation over the Akin and Romney brouhahas lacked substance, so too does the current tempest.  The Trump tape is a red herring that must not distract from the dedication to defeat Hillary Clinton next month.

 

The case for Trump

 

            That Trump is an emotional adolescent has been established throughout his campaign, but he still won the Republican nomination and a general endorsement from the party (until now).  Therefore, why the surprise and how is his immaturity any more serious now?  Some take issue with his comments in the context of his infidelity and that of some of his subjects.  More problematically, others claim his behavior caught on tape constitutes assault that disqualifies him.  But is that the case?  His statements indicated that based on experience he believed his targets might be receptive to his advances because of his celebrity.  In fact, most women probably would like to be wooed by a billionaire, even a lecherous one, who potentially would provide considerable benefits (gifts, prestige).  Indeed, on the tape he said women “let” him take liberties.

 

As such, Trump was not really rapacious.  He just immaturely indulged libidinous desires for his subjects encouraged by his experience with them.  Surely he had to be aware of potential legal liability for crossing a certain line.  (To be fair, that did not stop alleged rapist Bill Clinton.)  Did his lewdness constitute physical violation by certain societal standards of today?  At any rate, in the second debate Trump said in response to a moderator’s question that he did not act out any of his talk.  If he is to be believed, his reply renders the assault allegation moot leaving only the significance of his thougts in question.  At least that was the case until recent legal challenges by supposed victims.  How much credence should be given to their claims of abuse?

 

            As Trump said, his comments were private locker room banter common among men which he probably never seriously actualized.  Certainly, he would not speak so salaciously in public as that would be reprehensible.  Absent evidence, grabbing the crotches of casually known female acquaintances, as he mentioned on the tape, is not credible.  What if someone secretly recorded football star Tom Brady making similar comments to team mates in the shower?  (He probably has a private shower.)  Would he be vilified as Trump is?  Is private bawdry more significant when applied to a candidate for president of the United States?

 

            Republican Senator John McCain, with his reelection in mind, said Trump demeans women and therefore he will not vote for him after previously endorsing him.  But that interpretation is in the eye of the beholder.  Many see Trump as a mere lecher.  Should an overtly prurient interest disqualify him?  Some claim Trump thinks of women as personal property.  Well, he is a real estate man. (kidding)

 

Critics say Trump’s behavior reflects a character flaw that renders him unfit for the presidency.  Should a Commander in Chief be allowed human shortcomings, even idiosyncrasies?  Recall that President Jimmy Carter admitted to “lust in the heart” during an interview with Playboy Magazine during the 1976 campaign.  In fact, boys will be boys with respect to sexual thoughts and words, even presidents.  But translating them to action could be problematic.  Bill Clinton acted on his proclivities while in public office to the point of reportedly exposing himself to his targets and even allegedly raping one.  American history is fraught with other examples of bad behavior by presidents.  For, example, John Tyler, the tenth president in the 1840s, held orgies in which he and his son participated.  And President John Kennedy’s escapades in office are now well chronicled.  So, Trump would hardly be the first horndog in the White House.  Is such a person fit to be president?

 

If moral turpitude is an overriding issue, consider well-documented evidence concerning Hillary’s pay-to- play deals involving the Clinton Foundation, and the destruction of emails previously subpoenaed.  Also ponder the curious body count associated with Hillary and her husband over the years, including the recent shooting of a reporter believed to leak Democratic campaign emails to WikiLeaks.  Republican operative, Roger Stone, has presented compelling evidence of Clinton involvement in the Vince Foster death.  In addition, researchers and former Clinton associates have reported on Hillary’s violent outbursts in books and television appearances.  Is she fit to be president?

 

Trump’s apologies for private speech are not necessary as there was no intention to offend, and he had no control over publication.  In any case, no one believes his contriteness other than for having been exposed.  A leopard does not change his spots.  In the second debate Trump tactfully capitalized on his apology to pivot to Bill Clinton’s sexual history in office, scoring a major point about the difference between talk and action.  As long as Trump’s predilection is expressed in words and not action, few truly care, despite media portrayals.  Nonetheless, the media obsession about the Trump tape could have a mass psychological effect against Trump at the polling place, like the Akin case.

 

            Predictably, political opponents are recruiting alleged Trump victims to establish the assault assertion.  To date, five women have filed charges for groping.  Democrats invoke the standard line heard in rape cases, that the accosted did not come forward in the past because of humiliation, as if groping is equivalent to rape. One can imagine the loathsome Gloria Allred chomping at the bit for a potential piece of Trump’s wallet long after the election.

 

            Donald Trump is a highly flawed candidate.  (I supported Ted Cruz in the primaries.)  But at least he would cut taxes and relax regulation to surely grow the economy.  In addition, he would secure the border and ensure a ballast against liberal judicial activism on the Supreme Court.  By contrast, Hillary Clinton would double down on Obama’s destructive leftist agenda.  Keeping her out of the White House is paramount and supersedes the personal foibles of the only practical alternative.

 

Today’s woman

 

            The premise underlying the outrage over Trump’s behavior suggests women are vulnerable and need to be shielded from overly aggressive males.  The irony is inescapable as so many feminist-influenced women emulate male behavior.  Today, women curse like the proverbial sailor.  Some look like convicts as they deface entire limbs with tattoos.  Prostitution has become an almost acceptable way to finance college.  Stripping is a legitimate occupation.  According to Nielson ratings, one-third of internet porn viewers are women, and once stigmatized female performers now are legitimized.  And consider how women are portrayed in risqué movies and television programs.  They love Howard Stern despite his extreme antics involving women over the years.  They cheer certain female comedians who in their acts explicitly celebrate women acting like men sexually.  Many women in business proactively prevail on male underlings for sexual favors.  And women teachers pursuing underage male students is fairly commonplace.  If that is the culture, society should not act like all women need a “safe place” like fragile reality-averse denizens of a college campus.

 

            Historically, stark physical, emotional and psychological differences between men and women have rendered the latter in need of certain protections that are codified in the culture and the law.  For example, a societal objection to rape establishes it as a criminal offense punishable by a long prison term.  In addition, assault presumably has two standards:  one applied to attacks on men, and a lesser one to physical contact with women because of the comparative physical frailty of females.  But unlawful physical attack is distinguished from sexually induced groping or fondling.  One might say today’s mores born of the sexual revolution and its evolution blur the line between legitimate and illegitimate contact.  It’s the price of sexual freedom that evolved with the full cooperation of the distaff.  And men are wired to respond accordingly.

 

Misogyny is the hatred for women, a term wrongfully ascribed to Trump for his tape comments.  Rather, he displayed a libido accommodated by the attitudes of today’s liberated women and, as he says, fostered by his own celebrity.  This is not a case of blaming the victim for arousing the attacker.  But in the context of today’s male/female relationships certain standards have changed such that the Trump tape should not shock anybody.  And, again, behind the politically correct posturing, most consider it innocuous.  Even the evangelicals dismissed the Trump flap so not to undermine his chance to intervene in much more important issues, particularly for them the defense of religious freedom under the First Amendment.  Some consider their position as selling out.  But it is really a pragmatic concession for the greater good, both for their interest and that of the nation.

 

Squaring the conservative circle

 

            How does the Trump tape defense reconcile with conservative principles?  This requires viewing behavioral standards in relation to both fitness for the presidency and the realization of higher conservative considerations in a battle of competing interests.  Consider the dynamics of general behavior and what defines conservatism within that construct.  Personal conduct is governed by several guideposts including:  law, morality, ethics, culture, ideology, faith, natural law, the forces of biology, and perhaps genetic predisposition.  In life certain of these elements motivate, others restrain, and some of them may conflict, but they all inform behavior in varying degrees.  Individuals choose which influences predominate (except genetic ones).

 

Law establishes clear limits on behavior and punitive consequences for breach.  Mores and ethics provide additional constraints that may change over time.  Faith, codifies behavior, especially that founded on scripture, and fosters inspiration.  Culture dictates customs, tastes and practices in certain quarters and also changes over time.  Ideology, such as conservatism, defines political and cultural parameters that, with respect to behavior, guides one’s activity relative to individual freedom, human rights, respect for tradition, aesthetics, personal fulfillment, and possibly a particular theistic belief.

 

            Trump’s tape behavior seems to rest disproportionately on sexual instinct fostered by the permissive cultural environment of his generation, and reinforced by his puerile nature which has become so apparent.  He is not especially constrained by religious faith and has demonstrated some ethical improprieties.  However, he recognizes personal moral responsibility and the restraints of law.  This profile may not comport with the standard conservative behavioral model.  In fact, Trump does not embody the conservative political model either, yet, he won the Republican nomination.  The subsequent tape revelations just accentuate the aberrations that were already discounted. 

 

Should the tape be the straw that breaks the camel’s back?  More important is the totality of his life taking into account his business and social relationships, entrepreneurial success, philanthropy, and the family he raised.  Of course, there are limitations to mitigating factors.  Relativism is not a conservative value.  For example, a mafia chieftain with the same profile as Trump who commissions murder would not get any consideration. (Do the Clintons come to mind?)  On balance, Trump is within the spectrum of behavioral propriety, with a forgiving nod for professed, if not entirely sincere, contrition for those offended.

 

            But now Trump’s behavior is viewed in a political context, that is, in terms of his fitness for the presidency.  As such, some conservatives, notably evangelicals as mentioned, subordinate traditional behavioral considerations to a larger benefit achieved through the ability to significantly affect government policy for the greater good as president.  This compromise is particularly important to them in view of an existential threat to religious freedom.  Similarly, other conservative interests, such as limited government, strong defense, and the practice of original intent exercised in the Supreme Court, would be severely undermined if Trump were to lose the election.  Therefore, those values supersede traditional conservative behavioral standards in this case because individual freedoms are under siege by the left like never before and could be seriously dissipated for years to come in a secular march toward tyranny. 

 

Mass hoopla

 

            The faux outrage about the Trump tape is disturbing.  Everyone recoils in lockstep.  Like the Akin imbroglio, no one dares not to be offended.  Intimidation abounds.  Phony politicians on both sides of the aisle fear alienating voters.  Lawyer contributors on television news programs fear offending female clients and colleagues.  News hosts and reporters fear a threat to their ratings.  Individuals fearing the disapproval of friends join the chorus, or at least remain silent.  All fear being ostracized by the other, especially by the media, if they do not viscerally denounce Trump’s tape comments.  In a disingenuous extrapolation, some say men should be offended because of their relationships to mothers, wives, sisters and daughters.  As one with all those links to the other gender, this writer couldn’t care less about the Trump tape.  And the wife agrees. Truth be told, most Americans probably consider the whole matter a yawn.  But too many succumb to such media propaganda in the voting booth as they did in the Akin case.

 

“Tape shock” pretense among some Republicans calling for Trump to leave the race, including a number of conservatives, is predicated on protecting their reelection prospects.  Others feign horror as a pretext for removing Trump’s unprecedented threat to the party establishment.  In view of Trump’s strong performance in the second debate, he might have had regained momentum but for the Paul Ryan disavowal and other Republican defections.  Those politicos should be held to account in the future.  Much of America wants to break the party mold and rid it of types like “It’s not who we are” Boy Scout Speaker, Paul Ryan.  Ditto for the vast majority of Republicans in Congress, including many fickle conservatives.

 

            If the media are so interested in the treatment of women, where is the outrage about Bill Clinton’s predations and Hillary’s efforts to suppress them through threats to his victims?  To this day mass media have been largely silent.  And not a word from the feminist movement.  What hypocrisy!  What about the rape case in which Hillary as a public defender was recorded laughing about an exculpatory lie detector test that contributed to a not guilty verdict for a man she truly believed guilty?  Was that woman morally served?  How many are aware of reports of Democratic Senators Ted Kennedy and Chris Dowd forcing a waitress against a table in a drunken act of sexual aggression some years ago?  And why does truly misogynous rap music get a pass? 

 

Time was when journalistic standards fiercely upheld truth (with some exceptions, such as the peccadillos of President John Kennedy and the illness of President Roosevelt).  But today, media are largely corrupt in their dedication to big government and the policies that protect, perpetuate and enlarge it.  Ironically, the politicization of the Fourth Estate responsible for helping to defend the people from tyranny actually contributes to it.

 

The imperative

 

            The voters MUST keep the corrupt Marxist scoundrel that is Hillary Clinton from occupying the White House.  The Trump tape must not divert from that mission amid yet another invocation of identity politics.  As said, as bad a candidate Trump is, the alternative is so much worse.   At least Trump is convincingly committed to the primary essentials of lowering taxes, relaxing regulation, securing the border, and upholding the constitutional integrity of the Supreme Court.  Hillary Clinton would do just the opposite and much more to the nation’s severe detriment for years to come.  The politically correct obsession with the Trump tape cannot be allowed to deny a Trump victory or threaten down-ballot prospects.  Voters must not be duped by another “war on women” ploy.

 

The mission:  Challenge corrupt media.  Stop Hillary.  Elect Trump.

 

                                                                                                    ©2016 William J. Dodwell




GOOD RIDDANCE TO THE SCOUNDREL-IN-CHIEF

 

By William J. Dodwell     November 23, 2016

In the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, let us be grateful for dodging a bullet in the recent election that will end the policies of that scoundrel who has occupied the Whitehouse for the last eight years.  As such, it is fitting we reflect on the nefarious force he has been, and record the ignominious legacy he deserves in the hope of preventing such a person from achieving the presidency again.

Barack HUSSEIN Obama heads for the exit in the wake of two terms of failure and venality buttressed by corrupt media, a gullible electorate and a diffident citizenry plagued by political correctness.  Of particular note, is his concealed empathy for Muslims manifest in his restraint in prosecuting the war on terror, and even in accommodation to the radical Islamic enemy, at grave risk to Americans.  Herewith just a sampling of his transgressions. 

The damage

He was lawless, repeatedly flouting the Constitution he was sworn to uphold.  He recurrently lied to the people, notably about Obamacare and Benghazi.  His politically motivated premature withdrawal from Iraq directly gave rise to ISIS.  He seemed to betray a certain sympathy for Muslims, starting with his refusal to utter the term “radical Islamic terrorism”.  And he ordered falsified intelligence reports to fabricate the success of his Mideast policy.  He squandered much of his economic stimulus meant for phantom “shovel-ready jobs” on transfers to the teachers unions in exchange for political donations to himself and other Democrats.  He doubled the national debt borrowing more than all his predecessors combined.  He secretly diverted billions to his homies in the hood from bank settlements and other monies as part of a grand scheme to redistribute income from the haves to the have nots in classic Marxist fashion.  Obamacare is just such a program.

Obama prevented normal economic growth throughout his administration through excessive regulation, and by refusing to cut taxes substantially across the board because rich people would benefit.  This despite an assured boon to small businesses and the lower and middle classes.  As a consequence, American workers suffered chronic real unemployment and underemployment which especially affected new entrants to the workforce.  For his legacy, he desperately forged a heavily one-sided nuclear deal with a wholly untrustworthy Iran creating grave risk for the Mideast and the world. He opposed oil and gas development that would render the country energy independent.  He acquiesced to the IRS efforts to undermine tax-exemption applications of conservative 501(c)(4) social welfare groups that engage in political campaigns.  He harbored contempt for Congress as evidenced by his many imperious unconstitutional executive orders and regulatory schemes to bypass the will of the people.  He embraced a global socialist order marked by open borders and diminished American stature on the world stage, and gutted the military in the process. And with all our problems, he thinks climate change is the first priority, while his DOJ considers criminalizing dissent on the issue.

Obama sought to transform the demographics of the nation to create future Democratic voters and to dilute the white population. He was dedicated to Robin Hood tactics and pay-back against white America in some misguided notion of reparations for past injustices.  Accordingly, he surreptitiously directed extra funds to the inner cities via successor groups of ACORN which Congress voted in 2009 to defund for rampant fraud. Currently pending in Congress is The Stop Settlement Slush Fund Act of 2016 (H.R. 5063) to redress this outrage.  In the effort to reverse the white flight to the suburbs, he directs HUD to hugely subsidize low income residents to move into upscale neighborhoods, and coerces developers to accommodate the program.  This will surely result in skyrocketing crime and plummeting property values, as well as kill race relations.

He gave race hustler Al Sharpton and domestic terrorist group Black Lives Matter seats at the Whitehouse table and surrounds himself with Muslim advisors.  In war, he hamstrings American soldiers through highly restrictive rules of engagement that have prolonged military operations costing untold lives, injuries and treasure.  He also has prevented effective success against ISIS by prohibiting the destruction of enemy oil fields out of concern for the environment at the expense of thousands of lives and billions of dollars.

Obama’s DOJ seriously undermines law enforcement by suggesting bogus racial motives to police action.  This has emboldened wanton black violence against cops that has caused them to retreat in fear of their lives.  Ignored is the historical highly disproportionate violent crime by blacks that has caused their frequent confrontation with police.  Rather than capitalize on his position as the first black president to address that stark reality, he accommodates imagined black grievances.  Ironically, race relations are the worst in decades.

He ordered Homeland Security to tell border control agents to stop working, such that in some locations supervisors told them to stay home.  This, despite countless horrific crimes by illegals that have terrorized communities.  He released thousands of violent felons from prison. He furtively settled tens of thousands of migrants from Central America acrossthe country without informing local officials. He admitted 10,000 Syrian refugees despite the inability to identify terrorists among them, he and supports settling many more.  He granted amnesty to millions of illegal aliens only to be stopped by the Supreme Court.  To cover his tracks, he reports bogus deportation increases.

In his final days as president Obama is no doubt working to solidify his mark through more executive orders, regulation and affirmative action placements with his “pen and phone”.  Trump will be able to undo some of it but much of the taint will likely remain.

Obama’s path to the presidency

How did this character become president?  Obsessed with the prospect of Obama becoming the first black commander-in-chief, the media put him in play as a potential candidate after an uplifting speech he delivered at the 2004 Democratic Convention.  They have shamelessly protected, promoted, and cheated for him ever since.  The left figured that, as president, Obama would become an exalted symbol of the underclass that liberals could further exploit for their own empowerment.  Thus, the media refused to vet Obama during the 2008 election cycle or thereafter, despite serious questions about his background, including his birthplace.  In the 2016 cycle the media anti-Trump lies, red herrings and propaganda were at a fever’s pitch.

Challenges to his origin on the basis of compelling evidence were summarily vilified and dismissed, even by conservatives, as attempts to delegitimize the first black president.  In fact, the inquiry was about his compliance with a constitutional requirement and everyone knew it.  Of note, the same reservation was raised about Republican presidential candidates John McCain and Ted Cruz.  Obama’s so-called long-form birth certificate which supposedly establishes his birth in a Hawaiian hospital, produced several years into the controversy, is said to settle the issue.  Problem is, no record exists of his mother having been registered in the facility.  Oops.  Sadly, much of America indulged its racial guilt complex and sought absolution by electing the guy president.  

The electorate also fell for the leftist propaganda about big government, diversity and the environment fostered by the poisonous culture of political correctness.  Ironically, Obama’s transgressions may make it harder to elect another black president.  This would be a shame if the likes of such blacks as former presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson, former Congressman Allen West, and Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke were to run in the future.

A new day

But America finally awoke on November 8, 2016 in electing Donald J. Trump, as Obama had pushed the envelope too far.  The nation has been providentially snatched from the abyss that would have been a Hillary Clinton administration dedicated to continuing the Obama disaster.  Now the country can hope for large tax cuts and regulatory relief that will finally spur the economy to prosperity again.  Also in prospect are secure borders and deportation of criminal illegals, the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, new oil and gas development, and a Supreme Court that will uphold the Constitution.  As Trump might say, “This is H-U-G-E.”  But he must resist the many pressures within and without his party to relent. 

As Winston Churchill said, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”  The election worked out this time, but it could backfire in the future as the left further entrenches and the culture deteriorates.  After all, Hillary won over half the votes despite her leftist agenda and abject corruption.  And, Obama enjoys a high (personal) approval rating.  Trump had better do well because some black degenerate named Kanye West says he is going to run for president in 2020.  Will America fall for racial and other gambits again to allow another scoundrel to foul the office, whether it be that jerk rapper or some other leftist?

On January 20, 2017 the Marxist and likely foreign-born secret Muslim will saunter out of the Whitehouse with a smirk that says, “S-U-C-K-E-R-S”.  Good riddance, Obama.  May the door hit you on the way out … really hard.

                                                                        ©2016 William J. Dodwell



Miscellaneous Thoughts on the Presidential Campaign and Other Issues as Posted to Linked In Between October and December 2016

 

By William J. Dodwell     January 14, 2017



ANTI-AMERICA OBAMA is currently bringing in as many Syrian refugees as possible despite the inability to vet them thoroughly. He's against establishing a safe zone for them in Syria or the region because that wouldn't damage America. Add this to his release of thousands of violent criminals from prisons into communities. Shame on America for electing this globalist racialist Marxist. It could happen again unless conservatives really galvanize.  12/31/16

WHERE'S ANN COULTER? Ubiquitous for years, since August 2015 she has been virtually absent from media because of a harmless impolitic tweet. Where are the conservative protests against this outlandish censorship? I've posted this message several times in recent weeks and no one has the courage to respond. 12/29/16

Financial institutions in particular suffer from regulatory overkill in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. Liberals refuse to acknowledge that lax mortgage underwriting standards caused the crisis, chiefly imposed by the government on the banks to increase home ownership among low income earners. Overly stringent capital requirements are not necessary if lending standards are upheld. Regulation and sustained near-zero interest rates have stifled economic growth by restricting lending to small businesses, fostering uncertainty that hampers capital investment. Instead, capital flows to higher-return equities and other financial assets, and corporations deploy cash for stock buybacks. Trump's deregulation and tax cuts will re-launch the real economy.  12/28/16

Free markets, limited government and the rule of law will foster the economic growth that improves everybody's prospects. Over time, beneficiaries will change with structural transformation in the economy. They must adjust or make do with what they have. Leave government out of it, except to provide for the truly needy.  12/28/16

The left lionizes this guy (George Michael), along with other recent decedents, Prince and David Bowie, to promote the entertainment field it dominates and uses to advance its agenda. What is their appeal? The musical model is Frank Sinatra, Nat Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, et al. that unfortunately has been lost for generations. Our decadent culture is a sad product of the left.  12/28/16

MERRY CHRISTMAS as we celebrate the fortuitous election that produced a savior (Trump) that will redeem the sins of his predecessor and crush the serpent that is the Left. Hark! He restores the prospect of renewed prosperity, security and sovereignty in his promises to diminish government, build a great wall, and uphold the Constitution. Joy to the world that embraces the return of a benign hegemonic power respected by all lovers of freedom. Deck the halls with visages of the new leader! (I can dream, can’t I?) 12/25/16

A spending cap is great in theory but enforcement is quite problematic. Consider the joke the debt ceiling has become. When reached, it is inevitably raised, notwithstanding brinkmanship about shutting down the government. To be sure, excessive spending is the basic problem affecting growth.  It’s the factor that drives the other economic drags of debt, budget deficits, and taxes. As such, inflated corrupt publicly financed infrastructure projects would exacerbate the problem. Spending is the mother's milk of all politicians and they will not allow it to be seriously limited, even with a balanced budget requirement and a super majority override requirement. We need a sea change in Washington culture. Will Trump drain the swamp?  Meantime, radical tax cuts and deregulation will help immensely. 12/24/16

(Response regarding a list of government agencies proposed for elimination) Abolish the VA and let veterans secure private medical services through vouchers. Alternatively, get rid of the labor unions that seek to bloat the bureaucracy with as many employees in order to maximize the VA budget and union power. Congress, including supposed VA champion Senator John McCain, has been feeding this beast by just throwing money at it for years. Surely the abuses were evident long ago but no one has had the courage to challenge the unions. Why isn't the EPA on your cut list? Political backlash?  12/21/16

FIGHTING BACK. Last night Fox News featured a segment on a “Professor Watchlist” compiled by Turning Point USA. The organization promotes and defends conservatism on college campuses. In particular, it outs professors who discriminate against conservatives. The intransigent enemy must be exposed and vilified. Where open debate is not permitted conservatives must wage war.  12/20/16


DUMP YELLIN. Trump must replace the Fed Chair when her term expires Feb 2018, or fire her beforehand. Her remark that the economy is operating at full capacity and therefore doesn't need any fiscal stimulus, such as the tax cuts and deregulation Trump proposes is absurd. That is exactly what is needed to escape the chronic sclerotic growth she contributed to. She thinks nominal full employment based largely on lowing paying and part-time jobs and a 40 year low labor participation is sufficient. Steve Forbes or David Malpass would be great replacements. See my August 20, 2016 related paper in The Comprehensive Conservative entitled “Post-Crisis Secular Shifts In the Capital Markets and the Global Economy Could Foster a New Normal” 12/17/16

DRILL BABY DRILL! Pruitt at EPA and Perry at DOE will open the spigot. Tillerson at State will help too but, as a major oil executive, he has to continue to pretend to pay some homage to the climate-change HOAX. Looking forward to more oil development on public and private lands, as well as to more pipelines and refineries. And let's hope they bring back the coal industry by repealing Obama's environmental regulations. In addition, they should save money by de-funding the fraudulent alternative energy projects. Nevertheless, political and legal obstacles are daunting.  12/16/16

Hollywood airheads trying to overturn the Trump victory in the Electoral College vote on December 19th are nauseating. Martin Sheen's appeal is particularly bad. Is he an actor? One wouldn't know it watching his arms flail and his awkward look at the teleprompter. There's a guy who's really lost his chops in his dotage. Hollywood is a particularly nefarious force of the left. Ban the box office and ignore the Oscars. Name and shame those leftist clowns – repeatedly.  12/16/16

Too bad Trump felt it necessary to meet with that degenerate Kanye West. And, unlike the other visitors to Trump Tower, he posed in the lobby with him. Of course, he was just pandering to the black community, perhaps to compensate for only one black cabinet nomination. Nonetheless, this act tends to legitimize the cultural blight this depraved creep represents. But Trump never did display any class. In any event, delivering on his promises of significant tax cuts, deregulation, the wall, deportation of illegal aliens, and conservative Supreme Court picks, is much more important 12/14/16

(Response regarding the claim that Trump attracted legions of racist voters.)  Trump won mainly because he represents a blow to massively reviled political correctness. For many, his dedication to tax cuts, deregulation and border security rang true. Others voted for him as the anti-Obama. Trump voters did not ascribe racism and misogyny and, therefore, they were not determinative factors. They voted on particular issues despite Trump's personal traits, which do not include bigotry. The left created this straw man to discredit Trump's victory and his coming conservative policies. There is no evidence his decisions would reflect bigotry. His statements about illegal aliens regarding crime, drugs and American worker displacement were based on specific realities that resonated with voters. Trump did not blanketly condemn any group. The Access Hollywood tape recorded a meaningless private conversation with no implications for his policies. On that point, see my October 13, 2016 article in The Comprehensive Conservative entitled, "The Trump Tape: Feigned Indignation In All Quarters".  Liberals will say anything to prevail and often succeed. They have little regard for truth. In 2016 reality reached a tipping point and the left can't stand the hurt.  12/9/16

Trump's equivocations about some campaign promises have been troubling. Likewise, his reported thirty hours of conversations with Obama. Will Trump be persuaded to go soft on the president's legacy by tempering his reforms? We know Trump is a sucker for compliments and ego stroking, and frequently expresses opinions based on how "nice" one is to him. Will he let personal chemistry supersede principle? Nonetheless, his cabinet picks are solidly conservative, indicating his actions overshadow his words. (Excepting the Labor nominee's immigration stance.) I'm confident good changes are acomin'.  12/9/16

HOW ABOUT MORE CHICKS ON THE TRUMP TEAM? Not because of diversity bunk, but for their proven conservative bona fides and a certain karmic balance the distaff provides. Carly Fiorina, Monica Crowley and Laura Ingraham would be great Trumpettes. And Sarah Palin would kick ass to get it done. Katrina Pierson, Trump's national spokesperson, did a great job, especially for a rookie. She's got chops. Kelly Ann Conway's great too, but she now stands to forfeit too much money in a government job. She could be another Megan Kelly, without the feminist hobbyhorse. Bring them on.  12/9/16

 

Bravo to Trump's pick for EPA Secretary. Scott Pruitt is a certified "climate-change skeptic" who will turn things around. Of course, the man-made climate change gambit is a HOAX aimed at redistributing global wealth from the rich to the poor through taxation, litigation, fees and penalties while enriching the principals, especially the thugs who rule the third-world. At the same time, the issue is a pretext for expanding and empowering government. Pruitt seems like a guy who will call a spade a spade.  12/8/16


As Obama approaches his exit I again try to emblazon the national memory with the record of how bad this guy has been, lest it be forgotten after he leaves. Elected because of the color of his skin, he exploited the American guilt complex to get away with ignoring the Constitution and the law to advance his racialist, globalist, socialist agenda. So, as testament to his horrific legacy, abetted by utterly compliant and corrupt media, I again post my November 23, 2016 article in The Comprehensive Conservative entitled, "GOOD RIDDANCE TO THE SCOUNDREL-IN-CHIEF", to help ensure: Never again!  12/8/16

(Response regarding a proposal to eliminate certain government agencies.)  Yes, the Dept. of Energy and the others you cite should be abolished. But why isn't the EPA ever mentioned in discussions about shrinking government? Like the Energy Dept., it too is partially founded on a false premise, the HOAX that is man-made climate change. The EPA is a tyrannical body. Let's hope nominee Scott Pruit will change that by gutting the agency. 12/8/16

Cowardly Republicans decided at the eleventh hour not to impeach IRS Commissioner Koskinen for his obstructions of justice in the investigation of the agency's maltreatment of conservative groups. WHAT AN OUTRAGE! Were they afraid of ruining his Christmas? This is a terrible precedent that will surely encourage future government abuses. We need a powerful force to combat the left, not these weaklings. The Republican Party has to be completely overhauled, or replaced by an alternative. Trump will make some changes but not nearly enough. 12/7/16

(Response) Government spending drives taxation - and borrowing. That's why expenditures must be limited as a percentage of GDP. A balanced budget requirement is just a prescription for tax increases and more borrowing because self-serving politicians won't limit spending sufficiently. "Starving the beast" helps to restrict taxation that can tyrannically stifle a nation. Too bad Trump doesn't understand this. He carps about the $20 trillion debt but advocates a trillion more in wasteful infrastructure projects. And he won't touch entitlements representing 70% of the budget. But the issue is relative in the extreme. Dots (small nation-islands) in the ocean (as cited) can't be entirely compared with developed nations because of different economic, social, cultural and political dynamics that affect the prospects for freedom and prosperity. However, a credo that says less taxation = less spending = more economic freedom is a sound one. 12/7/16

Dr. Ben Carson's nomination for HUD Secretary is encouraging. As a true blue conservative he can be expected to end Obama's current program of highly subsidizing low income residents to move into upscale neighborhoods, while coercing builders to accommodate. Carson can terminate this outrage, aimed largely at a black constituency, without being called a racist. Let's hope he'll help to dismantle Fannie and Freddie too, and curb the increasingly expanding government affordable housing policy that caused the 2008 financial crisis.  12/5/16

Ivanka Trump is a problem. First she persuades her father to adopt her socialist tax scheme for childcare and family leave, now she gets him to meet with the contemptible Al Gore about the environment. This registered Democrat and long-time personal friend of Chelsea Clinton has to be neutralized. To be fair, Donald Trump only agreed to listen to the climate change advocates to determine the EXTENT of man-made agents. This is not necessarily a capitulation of his past hoax claim. He's just looking for affirmation of what he believes is an infinitesimal influence on the environment. Can he expect a truthful response?  12/6/16

IT'S WAR OUT THERE! The left's effort to absurdly cast Trump supporters as neo-Nazis and white supremacists is an example of why conservatives have to fight, not just talk. Good arguments are not enough because the left doesn't care about truth. Liberal propagandists must be exposed, vilified, marginalized, shamed, humiliated and silenced, just as they try to do to conservatives. It's a daunting task because they're backed by mainstream media, academia, Hollywood, Big Labor, as well as entrenched careerists in government. Nonetheless, it's time to get down and dirty in a war on the left. Let's rumble. 12/4/16

Trump's role in getting Indiana to concede tax incentives tor Carrier to stay and save jobs is fine. It's done all the time. But if Trump threatens retaliation for a Carrier move to Mexico in the form of government contract cancellations or tariffs on Carrier imports to the U.S., that's tyranny. Companies move out of the country because of high taxes, uncompetitive union labor, and government regulation. That is what should be targeted. Otherwise, consumers, who far outnumber workers, overpay or properly opt for cheaper and maybe better quality imports.  12/2/16

CELEBRATING FOUR YEARS OF RIGHT-WING ENLIGHTENMENT at The Comprehensive Conservative http://www.williamjdodwell.com/ covering politics, culture and the economy. Dedicated to upholding truth and traditional values in defiance of political correctness, this website promotes political and cultural conservatism with an attitude in the effort to debunk liberal orthodoxy. It broaches what politicians dare not say and the PC-silenced public would love to hear.  12/2/16

(Response regarding an Indian guest complaining about an American hotel clerk joking that his name “has every letter of the alphabet”.)Bottom of Form It is perfectly reasonable that an English speaking American desk clerk would react as she did to your name. Her jocular comment about the alphabet was apt and funny. When you're in America you should understand this. We don't need more sensitivity about offending people. That's how we got political correctness. I support a campaign to defy political correctness. Incidentally, it's amazing how many Americans butcher my simple perfectly phonetic Anglo name. Don't take the clerk personally. Curb your paranoia.  12/1/16

(Response to comment) Language has deteriorated in America for some time. No doubt it’s a result of standards erosion in the schools. But it's also attributed to a culture in which serious reading is obsolete. Reading, or the lack of it, transfers to speech and writing. The proper use of past participles is constantly violated, even by television and radio commentators. For example, "have went" instead of "have gone" has almost become acceptable. Another pet peeve of mine is "It's a good 'thing' or bad 'thing'." People are too lazy to think of an appropriate predicate noun, or omit "thing" as redundant. Again, even the pros are remiss. As Jacques Barzun says, as cited in your article, we need "to re-sensitize the mind to words". Indeed, weak language leads to weak thinking - at the risk of the republic. Don't expect the schools to care. I believe the political left, to which they are beholden, is determined to dumb America down to prevent critical thinking that challenges government and liberal orthodoxy. Liberals know that brain-dead students lead to Democratic voters. 11/30/16

The Left is now fretting about people saying things they used to keep to themselves. It claims it's a manifestation of hate speech encouraged by the Trump campaign and victory. Actually, it's a sign there's a crack in the wall of political correctness prompted by Trump's brave talk about illegal aliens and Islamic terrorists. Before people cowed in silence about those issues. Now they're out in the open recognizing that Trump's victory reflects a huge population of like-minded Americans. Widen the crack in the PC wall. Defy the speech police! 11/29/16

Well, the election is over and I'm still waiting for Ann Coulter's return from media imposed exile for a harmless tweet she issued in August 2015. I notice that television news people now make third person references to her, but still no live appearances. There's freedom of speech in America under the law, but not in practice.  11/28/16

I thought John Bolton was a no-brainer for Secretary of State but he's barely mentioned. What does Trump see in Romney considering his outright denunciation of the New Yorker throughout the campaign, as well as his own criticisms of the 2012 candidate? Could it be their shared business experience? In any case, I suspect Trump told Conway to publicly question Romney's candidacy (most unorthodox) to get Romney to withdraw. Who's left? Giuliani has conflict of interest issues. Can Petreus get a security clearance for the job given his conviction for classified information violations?  11/28/16

WATCH YOUR WALLET! Beware of Obama in his waning days as he funnels billions into fraudulent environmental projects and ACORN-like inner city community groups, unbeknownst to Congress. In addition, he'll probably release more illegal aliens. The media will not cover this. Trump has to revoke all of Obama's executive orders, regulatory schemes and fraudulent acts immediately upon taking office.  11/18/16

The earth replenishes itself naturally. Consider the trauma of volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and other disasters over billions of years. The earth is not fragile. We saw how quickly the sea recovered from Saddam Hussein dumping hundreds of millions of gallons of oil in the Persian Gulf when the U.S. invaded Iraq in the early 90s. We have not come close to the limits of the earth's regeneration ability. Climate has changed naturally from inception and will continue to do so. Man's input has nothing to do with it. It is infinitesimal.  11/17/16

As always, evident environmental degradation results from natural causes which cannot be controlled. Some effects, such as beach erosion, can be fixed but only God controls the forces that bring them about. Man has no control over temperatures, tides or natural disasters. You say err on the side of caution. For a fallacy? And at what cost? The cost is the left's agenda of redistributing wealth to the have nots through global taxation, fines, penalties and legal verdicts and settlements while the principals enrich themselves by skimming off the top. The U.S. is the prime target. The climate change issue is a HOAX.  11/18/16

I'm a free trader but Trump's strident cries about FAIR trade got me thinking. Does he know something few others do? Might he be aware of hidden provisions in trade agreements that are stealth wealth redistribution schemes to other nations? Conceivably, this could be accomplished by allowing concessions to a trading partner, such as a tariff, without a corresponding benefit to the U.S. Perhaps, there's good reason to re-examine those deals. As Trump says, our trade negotiators are just political hacks. They might be secretly pushing a leftist agenda. Carl Icahn would see the ruse. 11/17/16

(Response regarding Einstein’s definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result.) Yes, recalcitrant Republicans in Congress could continue to be a problem. But let's see their impact given a Republican president who has the power of veto and executive order, as well as the bully pulpit. This is a new variable that Einstein would acknowledge. It could be different this time around.  I wouldn't expect Congress to have acted differently at this point in naming its establishment leadership. But it is hoped Trump's fierce determination will prevail and soften the resistance of his party in time. Rome wasn't built in a day. 11/17/16

TAXPAYER ALERT: Federally funded infrastructure spending must not diminish the degree of tax cuts. It's a sop to the construction unions to which Trump has been beholden for years. Corruption is inevitable. What really needs reconstruction? How much is really needed? How much scrimping on cheap materials for profit? What about deliberate cost overruns? Repeal the Davis Bacon Act that requires union labor rates on federal projects. Tax cuts and regulatory relief will grow the economy for the long term. Infrastructure won't. Remember, the teachers unions got most of Obama's stimulus. How did that work out? What a waste!  11/16/16

I'm sick of the Bannon-bashing. We should have three more of him in senior roles.  11/16/16

Climate change is a HOAX.  The photograph of several third-world leaders standing on a stage smiling in $3,000 suits after last year’s Paris summit tells it all.  They’re anticipating the big checks that will flow directly to their pockets from the eventual $100 billion Green Climate Fund established at the confab.  11/16/16

 

HAVE YOU OFFENDED A LIBERAL TODAY? C'mon, it doesn't take much. To fight political correctness offend a liberal daily. Don't cow to the left. That's how the problem arose in the first place. Say all the things the speech police say you shouldn't, and do it repeatedly. Turn the tables by insulting and intimidating them into silence. It's right out of their playbook. See my June 17, 2016 article in The Comprehensive Conservative, "Challenging the Culture of Political Correctness".  11/15/16


First Trump gets soft on Hillary who butters him up in the hope as president he will drop investigations of her and the Clinton Foundation. Then he gets seemingly star struck by Obama who extends special transition assistance probably in the hope of Trump reciprocating by going easy on his legacy. Will he stand up to Congress trying to water down his campaign promises? Bannon should put Trump in a full nelson whenever he gets wobbly until he comes to his senses. That's his job.  11/15/16

I see Dick Morris has emerged on Bill O'Reilly's program after a four year media exile. This prompts the question of whether Ann Coulter will be allowed back from her 15 month banishment now that the election is over. Morris is a self-serving admitted liar. But Coulter is a truth-teller. Her blacklisting by all media for "that tweet" is appalling. It seems even Trump has ignored her despite her book promoting his candidacy. Who says there's free speech in America?  11/14/16

I'm getting nervous about Trump's equivocations. One can almost hear establishment Republicans whispering in his ear. Regarding the wall, he's gone from brick and mortar to a virtual electronic barrier, to a fence. What's next, a shower curtain? Anything less than a real wall can be easily dismantled when he's gone. That's what the left and moderates really have in mind. An impenetrable wall should be 100 feet up and 100 feet down to prevent the tunnels and to ensure its permanence. Let's get real.  11/14/16

I'm pumped now that Trump's victory has set in. I think we're at the threshold of a new day that will further repudiate the Obama years. His legacy is toast. Although not the conservative I would hope for, Trump supports tax cuts, regulatory relief, the wall, deportation, healthcare reform, and conservative Supreme Court nominee criteria that can turn things around dramatically. Until now, the focus has been on his anomalous profile and demeanor. But as president that's not important so long as he's committed to the right policy, especially considering a Republican House and Senate. I think we're getting past his quirky persona.  11/12/16

Don't be fooled by Hillary's "gracious" concession to Trump. She's buttering him up so he won't prosecute her for the improprieties of the Clinton Foundation (notwithstanding a potential Obama pardon). That might be why Bill Clinton also made the congratulatory phone call to Trump. Unfortunately, Trump seems vulnerable to falling for this gambit. I hope this possible weakness doesn't make him susceptible to capitulation on policy.  11/12/16

 

Let's not get carried away by the post-election faux conciliation. It's always insincere on both sides of the aisle. There's no meeting of the minds with a Chuck Schumer or a Nancy Pelosi et al. We've been providentially snatched from the abyss as Marxism slowly engulfs America. Republicans must leverage their new power to the hilt. Give the Democrats a taste of their own medicine. Trump should issue legal executive orders as necessary and the Republican Senate should capitalize on the 51 vote filibuster rule. When in trouble, Trump should use the bully pulpit to appeal directly to the people, and not just by tweet.  11/11/16


It's a wonderful day in the neighborhood. How about that record high stock market? It's anticipating the predictable economic boom that will ensue from Trump's tax cuts and regulatory relief. He'll bring home $2 trillion of overseas corporate profits. He'll gut Dodd-Frank and free up bank lending to small business. He'll repeal Obamacare. He'll open up energy development. Drill baby drill! He'll revoke all of Obama's executive orders. Watch the airheads protesting in the streets change their tune when they finally get jobs in the new Trump economy. Soon the Obama nightmare will be over.  11/11/16

Let’s not forget the Trump victory is a stark repudiation of Obama, a lawless leftist.  Mainstream media don’t mention this because, as always, they promote the notion that any criticism of the first black president is racist.  Trump must revoke Obama’s many income redistribution schemes in housing and elsewhere, and resist the faux charges of racism.  Ditto for building the wall, ending sanctuary cities, and executing deportation of criminal illegal aliens.  The recovery from the “obamanation” of probably the worst president in our history will take courage.  Trump must not cave.  11/10/16

Trump's dream team: John Bolton, Secretary of State; Newt Gingrich, National Security Advisor; Rudy Giuliani, Attorney General; Chris Christie, FBI Director; Larry Kudlow, Secretary of the Treasury; General Michael Flynn, Secretary of Defense; Jeff Sessions, Homeland Security; Steve Forbes, Federal Reserve Chairman. These guys would take our country back. And Giuliani would put Hillary behind bars. If Trump can't abolish the fascist EPA, he should leave the office vacant and furlough the employees. The first order of business is to rescind all Obama's executive orders and repeal Obamacare.  11/9/16

HOW SWEET IT IS!! Ding dong the bitch is dead. No need for burial. Sweep the Marxist crook down a storm drain. The Trump victory repudiates Hillary and Obama, and resoundingly humiliates the corrupt media. May the great Ann Coulter gloat forever. Kudos to Fox News and most talk radio for fighting the good fight, in particular Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Monica Crowley, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and Michael Savage. Of course, Trump is not a conventional conservative but he saved us from the brink of national destruction in Hillary Clinton. His rescue of the Supreme Court alone is HUUUGE.  11/9/16

Hillary is vulnerable to blackmail by foreign leaders and others who would reveal quid pro quo deals involving the Clinton Foundation. We know they abound. As president she would likely compromise herself against the national interest when confronted by donors demanding concessions. In fact, as Secretary of State she ceded 20% of our uranium supply to Russia in exchange for over $100 million paid to the Clinton Foundation. In addition, her borderless, globalist mindset would exacerbate the avalanche of drugs and crime cascading over the southern border destroying communities. She must not get near the Whitehouse!  11/7/16

Sure Trump has negatives. But Hillary's are soooo much worse. She's on the ropes. Put her away. Kick her to the curb. Do it for Ann Coulter who's been banned by practically all media for over a year for "that tweet". The Fourth Estate has become a bad joke. A vote against Hillary is a vote against media bias and corruption. It is a vote for free speech. How ironic that Hillary hired Jay Z to get out the low life vote. His language on stage made the Trump tape sound like Sunday school. And the Clinton Foundation paid for Chelsea's wedding, plus her living expenses for the next decade. Corrupt to the core.  11/7/16

TRUMP: Economic growth through tax cuts and regulatory relief; secure borders and American sovereignty; energy development; Constitution-friendly appointments to the Supreme Court and lower courts; the end of Obamacare; law and order; a strong defense and restored American hegemony. HILLARY: The exact opposite enveloped in a Marxist, globalist agenda that stifles individual freedom and prosperity, increases a dangerously high national debt, and advances Obama's racist dream of transforming the demographics of the nation.  11/5/16

Don't takes your eyes off Obama in this lame duck period. He is determined to force the liberal agenda through executive orders and the regulatory power of his agencies. And we will never know how many non-firable affirmative action hires surreptitiously fill the federal ranks to poison future policy with his leftist ideology. Right now HUD is moving low-income people into upscale suburbs, including Westchester, NY, through massive home subsidies. This inevitably means soaring crime and plummeting property values. For context, see my December 4, 2015 article, "Obama's Racialized Presidency" in The Comprehensive Conservative. 10/29/16

THE CROOK IN THE PANTS SUIT IS GOING DOWN. Pile on! As Ann Coulter says, “Humiliate the media." on November 8th.  11/4/16

Finally, we’re hearing about the Clinton Foundation investigation which exposes the true impetus behind Hillary’s private email server.  We now learn that the FBI has been exploring pay for play arrangements in five of its offices.  But partisan bickering within the FBI, as well as efforts to suppress scrutiny by Attorney General Loretta Lynch (no doubt on orders from Obama) has kept revelations under wraps.  Recent email leaks show abundant evidence to support prosecution.  The utterly corrupt Marxist that is Hillary Clinton MUST be stopped at the ballot box.  11/3/16


MetLife does not pose a systemic risk to the financial system any more than money funds and mutual funds do.  AIG failed because of a huge portfolio of unhedged credit default swaps covering impaired mortgage-backed securities of clients.  Its conventional insurance business had nothing to do with the firm’s misfortune.  Insurance companies fund their investment portfolios with premium collections.  There’s no counterparty exposure to speak of.  Besides, the inability to honor life insurance claims is hardly a systemic financial crisis.  The effort to designate MetLife a systemically important financial institution (SIFI) is a power grab by government to further control the financial sector.  Let’s hope the Treasury’s appeal is summarily dismissed like its original case. 10/31/16

IS THE PUBLIC FINALLY GETTING WISE TO THE CLIMATE CHANGE HOAX? Interestingly, the issue has not been mentioned much in the 2016 election cycle, other than the Democratic primary. Is it because it is no longer appealing to voters? If so, that's progress. Maybe they were sickened by the photograph of several third-world leaders dressed in $3,000 suits smiling on a stage following the Paris summit last year. They were no doubt anticipating some nice checks that would flow directly to their pockets from the eventual $100 billion UN Green Climate Fund.  10/29/16

See this video for proof positive of liberal media bias during the 2016 campaign. The presenter looks like some kind of derelict but the content is quite revealing. https://lnkd.in/dDeN4J6   10/29/16

Hillary is sick.  Why isn’t anyone exposing her health issues?  Voters have a right to know whether a candidate is likely to serve a term, and to assess the probability of a running mate serving in his/her stead.  Hillary has been reportedly suffering from heart problems, Parkinson disease, epilepsy, and blood clots and is currently taking medication for all of those conditions.  We have seen her physical vulnerability during the campaign.  As Trump says, Hillary doesn’t have the stamina for the job.  Her health should be independently evaluated and reported.  10/28/16

BRING BACK ANN COULTER. Virtually all media have banished her since that impetuous impolitic tweet in August 2015. Such censorship is outrageous! She would have helped Trump's campaign substantially if heard as widely as she was for years before her exile. Will she be allowed back after the election? Or, will the powers that be destroy her career like Arsenio Hall's at the top of his game over 20 years ago for booking Louis Farrakan on his show?  10/26/16

What’s the brouhaha about Trump’s refusal to commit now to the election outcome?  He is simply deferring acceptance pending a determination of election improprieties, particularly voter fraud.  Why should he have faith in a legitimate outcome in view of what he thinks is a rigged system in terms of media bias, polling manipulation and voter fraud.  Many Democrats still don’t accept George W. Bush’s election despite three recounts and a Supreme Court decision.  Besides, if he doesn’t accept the result, so what?  What could he do, start a revolution?  10/25/16

Trump self-funding?  I have a theory about Trump’s claim of self-funding his campaign.  In fact, Trump has issued a loan to his campaign the proceeds of which fund operations.  Donations are applied to retiring the debt which means they go directly to Trump, effectively reimbursing him.  Donations in excess of expenditures will be retained by Trump (as permitted by campaign law) resulting in a nice profit for him.  To assure full reimbursement and possible profit Trump has significantly limited ads and staff for a ground game.  He has only about 25% the staff that Hillary has.  10/25/16

Glad to hear that Trump is going to sue his accusers.  Their assault claims are phony as an $8 bill.  Those women should be driven to penury.  If just one complainant comes forward to publicly retract her charge and discloses compensation received for the claim and the person who recruited her, all other claimants would be called into question.  This slander has to stop.  A successful legal precedent will do it. And it would be so great to see that the repulsive legal rep, Gloria Allred, doesn’t make a dime from the ruse.  Incidentally, Trump is criticized for disparaging one of the woman’s looks to discredit the credence of her charge.  In the circumstance, his point is absolutely relevant.  10/23/16

How about Trump’s action plan delivered in his Gettysburg address!  If 25% of this Contract With America is implemented, we’ll be much better off.  He has to keep repeating those points in appropriate venues and media to prevail in the election.  There would be tremendous support for his policies (not all) if non-base voters make the effort to understand them and their potential impact.  10/23/16

(Response to comment.)  The U.S. Fed discontinued QE over a year ago to no consequence.  In 2013 there was the “taper tantrum” when Ben Bernanke hinted at reducing QE bond purchases, but when it actually happened much later portfolios remained intact.  The ECB QE policy has accomplished little, so why continue it?  The real solution is to normalize interest rates to allow capital to migrate from inflated financial assets back to the real economy of goods and services to truly stimulate growth.  See my March 1, 2016 article in The Comprehensive Conservative entitled, “The Fed’s Folly:  Not Normalizing Rates Quickly After the Great Recession”.  Of course, that would not be without pain.  Bond portfolios would suffer, the euro would rise to hamper exports, and inflation would decline when Europe is already grappling with deflation.  But bond investors can mitigate the effect by shortening durations when given the signal of an ECB rate hike.  The point is, the general economy is much more important that short-term disruption of investment portfolios.  Recall the courage of Fed Chairman Paul Volcker in the early 1980s when he raised interest rates dramatically and quickly (under different circumstances).  The ensuing brief recession was worth the following 20 year period of almost uninterrupted growth.  U.S. and European monetary policy that has created years of near-zero and negative interest rates has hampered economic growth.  10/22/16

Kudos to Trump for telling it like it is about Hillary, even at the Al Smith Dinner.  No other candidate, except Ted Cruz, would have had the courage to repeatedly expose the gory details of her corruption.  This is no time for protocol or even comity.  We face political war where the country is at the precipice of losing its freedoms and the potential for prosperity as we’ve known it.  Too bad Ann coulter is still exiled by the media, including conservatives, for her harmless tweet in August 2015.  She would be a great on-air contributor in the fight to bring Hillary down.  October 2016

Voter fraud is real!  John fund wrote two books on it, most recently a couple of years ago.  Why aren’t conservatives mentioning this in response to the left’s latest red herring to derail Trump?  October 2016

Where’s the praise for Trump’s fine performance in the third debate?  All media are writing him off in order to gloat later about their prescience, even conservatives.  Prove them wrong on November 8th like the Brits did in the Brexit vote.  This is an important chance to truly fight big government, corrupt media and political correctness.  Don’t squander it.  Hillary MUST be stopped!  October 2016

The IG reported Hillary’s State Dept. cannot account for $6 billion of contracts because documentation identifying recipients is lost.  Did it disappear because the money went to Clinton Foundation donors?  Did it go to leftist community activist groups at Obama’s behest where much of the DOJ bank settlement money went?  October 2016

­                                                                                                    ©2017 William J. Dodwell



Miscellaneous Thoughts Posted to Linked In Between January and March 2017

By William J. Dodwell  April 3, 2017

  • TRUMP IS BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE. Trump is misguided in going after the conservative caucus.  We need more of them elected to get more conservative bills, including health care.  Who is Trump going to support in his primary challenges against his conservative dissenters, RINOS?  Rather, the moderates should be targets for primary challenges by conservative candidates.  Republicans should strive for critical mass conservatism in Congress by getting more right-wingers elected, even if it is necessary to conciliate somewhat in legislation in the meantime.  Then we can truly make America great again.  3/31/17
  • Response.  Everyone knows about Sinatra’s dark side.  That doesn’t detract from his talent as a singer and great practitioner of The Great American Songbook.  I invoked Sinatra as an example of “cultural conservatism” as distinct from “political conservatism” in the context of my website theme, “The Comprehensive Conservative”, which encompasses both.  Sinatra was a Democrat originally but later supported Reagan, but that is irrelevant with respect to cultural conservatism.  I discussed the paradox about political conservatism vs. cultural conservatism in the preamble of my website, pointing out that many cultural conservatives are politically liberal and vice versa.  That’s why a true conservative, that is a Comprehensive Conservative, is a rare breed today.  O’Reilly’s preference for rock music technically disqualifies him as a Comprehensive Conservative, while my fondness for Sinatra music, coupled with my far-right political views, makes me the real McCoy.  3/31/17
  • JOINED AT THE HIP WITH BILL O’REILLY?  I watched Bill O’Reilly promote his latest book on Tucker Carlson the other night.  Entitled “Old School”, it pits traditional values (he calls them points of view) against contemporary practices in the respective cultures.  I was struck because I thought I had a lock on that niche through my commentaries about cultural conservatism in my website, “The Comprehensive Conservative” at http://www.williamjdodwell.com/ .  Indeed, that theme was my motive for establishing the publication in 2012, along with my thoughts on political conservatism. To be fair, O’Reilly previously addressed a similar subject in his book, “Culture Wars” which pre-dated my website.  I haven’t read that work but I should.  Our common mindsets might suggest we’re of the same philosophical cloth.  In fact, we grew up within three miles of each other in the same period, but we never met.  Maybe there was something in the water. In any case, O’Reilly says his approach in this book is jocular and instructional, but mine is serious and confrontational. What’s more, he’s a rock and roller, while I’m a Sinatra man.  So who’s the true conservative?  3/30/17  
  • Response regarding Obama’s birthplace.  The birther issue has nothing to do with race. The left invokes it as a red herring to intimidate those who question Obama's birthplace. The issue is about setting a precedent for ignoring a constitutional requirement that the president be born in the U.S. John McCain's and Ted Cruz's candidacies were questioned regarding birthplace as well. Obama's birthplace is not at all settled. Many questions remain unanswered, and ignored by the left, including the authenticity of the supposedly official birth certificate. Like many, I believe that more likely than not Obama is foreign-born.  3/28/17
  • I WANT TO BE YOUR FAVORITE RIGHT-WING EXTREMIST.  If you yearn for a conservative firebrand who takes no prisoners in the war on liberals, check out The Comprehensive Conservative at http://www.williamjdodwell.com/ .   This website obliterates leftist shibboleths regarding race, climate change, political correctness, etc., while promoting limited government, the rule of law, constitutional freedoms, political and cultural sovereignty, fiscal austerity and free markets.  In the interest of unadulterated truth, content focuses on the glass half empty for a change with no apologies for the offended. It also condemns cultural deviancy that has undermined classic standards of language, behavior, appearance and music. Atavistic? Anachronistic?  So what?  Let’s celebrate, and perhaps restore, the norms of yore that built this nation, in particular the meritocratic model now lost in the egalitarian cesspool of liberalism.  3/28/17
  • SPECULATION AD NAUSEUM. Talk of Trump’s demise because of the health care loss is nonsense, at least in the long term.  Ignore the media and pundit extrapolations.  Kennedy recovered from the Bay of Pigs disaster and Reagan survived a sharp recession early in his first term as a result of the Fed’s harsh, but necessary, interest rate hike to 22%.  Republicans are likely more unified on Trump’s tax cuts, deregulation and border security, which even have some Democratic support.  Those advocates will not be deterred by the health care failure, especially considering a possibly better bill later on.  3/27/17
  • TRUMP’S RESOLUTENESS WILL PREVAIL.  Remember, his personal motto for decades has been, “Never give up.”  He’ll go directly to the people and garner backing for his agenda as Obamacare further deteriorates and inflicts more and more pain, backfiring on the Democrats.  He’ll preach from the bully pulpit the unquestionable economic growth and jobs that will ensue from his tax cuts and deregulation on which he was largely elected.  And reports of evermore illegal alien atrocities embolden grassroots support for deportation and the wall.  The people must hold politicians’ feet to the fire. Focus on truth, not anti- Trump media interpretations and propaganda.  3/27/17
  • Unless you dress like these clients in this circumstance (call them customers), would you trust this guy with your money?  Hey fella, lose the beard and find a tie.  (TD Ameritrade television commercial.) https://www.ispot.tv/ad/AhOF/td-ameritrade-green-room-we-listen   3/25/17
  • Response.  Ivanka sales skyrocketed despite the Nordstrom ban which triggered a counter ban against it.  Likewise, if she is prevented from operating in California, there could be such a backlash throughout the rest of the country that overall sales might increase anyway.  Many would react against a corrupt court and the liberalism of the state.  3/23/17
  • Response regarding San Francisco lawsuit against Ivanka Trump for unfair businesses practices.  Of course, this is the very definition of a frivolous lawsuit. But given the corruption of the court system as evidenced by the rulings against Trump's travel bans nothing is predictable. In any case, the action will not affect consumer buying, except possibly in loony California.  3/22/17
  • Response regarding the annual Whitehouse Correspondent’s Dinner.  It's so great to rain on the left's parade! Let's hope Trump orders that no one from his administration attend the event. Conservatives should institute their own annual dinner and NEVER participate in this one.  3/21/17
  • I WANT MY ANN COULTER.  Recall the television ad for MTV (a degenerate enterprise) in the early 1980s featuring Pat Benatar (some kind of rock star) beseeching viewers to call their cable companies to say, “I want my MTV.”  Let’s use this tactic to get the outrageously censored, but gradually returning, Ann Coulter back on the air waves on a regular basis.  Call the news networks and demand, “I want my Ann Coulter.” Stand up for free speech.  Let’s show the Force who rules.  3/21/17
  • Response regarding Ann Coulter’s media banishment.  The media’s “extreme sensitivity”, as you say, to the Jewish community is based on the fear of reprisal for perceived offense in the form of bans, boycotts, firings, pressure on sponsors to drop advertising, and orchestrated general media jihad against offenders.  That is what I object to regarding Coulter’s involuntary media exile.  Such retaliation must be challenged.  3/21/17
  • Response regarding Ann Coulter’s media banishment.  Thanks for the clip.  What comes across the most is Donny Deutsch’s paranoia expressed in response to Coulter’s comments.  I believe that hyper-defensiveness among Jews is a universal problem in relations with non-Jews.  As Coulter explained herself, Deutsch could not get past the perceived insult to Jews despite her insistence that no offense was intended.  She was just expressing her point of view regarding differences between Judaism and Christianity on the basis of respective history and doctrine. That said, I have no interest in Coulter’s or anyone else’s opinion about the better road to heaven. But she has the right to her opinion and I applaud her courage for divulging it.  Anti-Semitism is not about different religious precepts.  It’s about real or perceived enmity, discrimination, and again, Jewish paranoia, in social interactions.  Coulter wasn’t banned for this exchange but I think her media banishment for her September 2015 tweets was the straw that broke the camel’s back considering a series of startling comments over time, including the Deutsche interview.  3/21/17
  • ANOTHER ANN COULTER SIGHTING.  Outrageously banished by virtually all media since September 2015 for some harmless tweets, she popped up on Hannity Friday night.  It was funny to see him pretend like nothing had happened all this time.  She also appeared on Jeanine Pirro’s program the following night for the second time in three weeks.  This marks three such emergences by the once ubiquitous media figure after a year and a half absence.  It appears Fox CEO, Rupert Murdock, is lifting his Coulter ban as the Force permits him and the rest of media to gradually allow her back. Is the Force relenting in reaction to a public backlash? Be aware of what has been happening folks.  Don’t tolerate this censorship.  Fight the Force in defense of freedom of speech in America. For background see September 17, 2015 USA Today article at http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2015/09/17/ann-coulter-comment-jews-gop-debate-israel-relations/32543837  3/20/17
  • Response to Congressman Steve King’s reference to “culture clash” in a comment about immigration.  This is the first time I've seen a reference to "culture clash" in the immigration debate. Bravo! It isn't politically correct to cite the term. But it is part of our sovereignty. I wrote about the culture clash issue four years ago in The Comprehensive Conservative at http://www.williamjdodwell.com/ but I've been a lone voice in the wilderness.  3/17/17
  • Response regarding a politically incorrect cartoon of drunk Irishmen on St. Patrick’s Day.  Funny. But would a response to Black History Month presenting a stereotypical cartoon depicting blacks in the act of committing various crimes be fair game?  3/17/17
  • Response to comment about fraudulent unemployment payments.  Just another example of how Obama tried to divert funds to his homies in the hood - in this case drug addicts and dealers. Add this to his acquiescence to welfare fraud, cheating in the food stamp and disability programs, as well as the billions of bank settlement proceeds he diverted to these people.  3/16/17
  • Response regarding Trump’s leaked tax return.  When I heard the news it immediately occurred to me that Trump might have leaked his 2005 tax return.  This particular return shows he made more money than some would have suspected (about $250 million before deductions), thus bolstering his boasting about his wealth, the magnitude of which many question.  As Trump said, the tax return … “ was not embarrassing.” Perhaps it was his best year.  The return also shows he paid substantial tax relative to his income, a 25% effective tax rate.  This might suppress suspicions he paid no tax because of an 18 year tax carry forward for a $900 million loss one year as suggested by a state return leaked a few months ago. What’s more, Trump is capable of shenanigans like this.  Recall the 1980s tape of him pretending to be a PR agent named John Miller reporting that Madonna was trying to date him.  I certainly could be wrong about this but it’s fun speculating.  3/16/17
  • Response regarding rapper Bow Wow’s comment.  When will decent people call out the practitioners of this genre of decadence for what they are – ANIMALS.  3/16/17
  • YELLEN IS NO HEROINE.  She just allowed another quarter point interest rate hike. What a yawn.  Interest rates should have been fully normalized by now, nine years after the financial crisis.  The short-term rate should be 5%, not 1%.  The cost in economic growth from timid monetary policy that starved the real economy and inflated the financial economy for so long is enormous.  Trump will rightfully replace her next February when her term expires.  3/16/17
  • A WAKEUP CALL ABOUT WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH.  Last month I summoned the temerity to question Black History Month.  This month, in the interest of unvarnished truth, I comment on Women’s History Month.  In the quest for outcome equality both celebrations presuppose a certain subordination to their racial and gender counterparts.  As to women, consider this.  Virtually everything one sees other than nature was conceived and produced by men:  buildings, cars, other products of all kinds, infrastructure, businesses, technology, as well as government, law, finance, science, music and sports.  This has been the reality since the dawn of humanity.  What does that tell you?  Just sayin’.  The slogan exclaimed in today’s women’s marches and elsewhere is “The future is female.” Ladies, as you partake of the essentials and amenities of life, remember the source.  Indeed, men will still rule.  Would you really want it any other way?  3/12/17
  • RESPONSE regarding Obama’s false birth certificate.  We have to be concerned about setting a precedent for violating the Constitution with impunity if this story is true.  3/11/17
  • RESPONSE regarding Malik Obama’s presentation of his half-brother Barack’s actual birth certificate showing his birth in Kenya.  If this news is authentic it's HUGE.  It delegitimizes Obama's presidency irrespective of race.  And it clearly establishes the corruption of the media for either concealing this or refusing to pursue it.  The government is also at fault for the constitutional breach. Everyone, including conservative media, has been scared to death of this issue because the left made it about race. What a victory for Trump.  If this finding is true, can you imagine the media trying to recover from the humiliation?  Ahuma-ahuma-ahuma … It would be b-e-u-t-i-f-u-l!! But, since all media were complicit in the fraud, no major outlet will likely report it.  Why embarrass themselves?  Maybe Barack and his allies refused to pay Malik’s continued extortion demand now that he’s out of office.  I've said all along in my writings that Obama was probably not born in the U.S.  For one thing, there is no record of his mother registered in the Hawaiian hospital where the president was purportedly born.  3/11/17
  • DON’T DONATE TO YOUR ALMA MATER.  One effective way of protesting academia, that bastion of Marxism, is to withhold donations.  So, when your alma mater calls for that annual alumni fund, stiff them – and tell them why.  Starve that beast. Your money is used to promote multicultural, environmental, LGBT and anti-American awareness, as well as the rest of the radical left agenda.  In particular, it goes to free rides for minorities which enable the colleges to tout their diversity and burnish their liberal bona fides that sustain government funding. Meanwhile, tuition for whites rises unabated. It’s a typical socialist wealth redistributionist scheme. Don’t be a sucker. When the endowments fall maybe the indoctrination camps will diminish as well.  3/8/17
  • RESPONSE.  Obama nominated Loretta Lynch for AG on Al Sharpton's recommendation, of all people. Republicans who confirmed her are suspect. Not doing what is right for fear of being called a racist should be punishable by a primary challenge. They need to read The Comprehensive Conservative at http://www.williamjdodwell.com/  3/6/17
  • BE PREPARED FOR YOUR NEXT FIST FIGHT WITH A LIBERAL.  Arm yourself with red meat from The Comprehensive Conservative at http://www.williamjdodwell.com/  I’m William J. Dodwell, the fire-breathing, bomb-throwing founder and right-wing zealot dedicated to unvarnished truth regardless of who is offended.  Call me Wild Bill.  Consider the website my answer to political correctness as a kick-ass conservative who wants his country back.  Like-minded thinkers are encouraged to unite.  I take on sacred cows including race, the environment, labor unions, as well as such things as cultural rot, failed monetary policy and media lies about the financial crisis.  When a liberal darkens your door, de-bunk his bunk with raw reality that delivers a knockout punch.  3/3/17
  • RESPONSE.  The prospect of significant tax cuts and deregulation is behind the post-election stock market ascent. If it doesn't materialize this year because of a recalcitrant Congress, we are in for a major market correction.  3/3/17
  • RESPONSE.  Billions from the bank settlement funds went to leftist activist groups under Eric Holder's direction. Obama is corrupt beyond measure. Government also cooperates with Jesse Jackson's bank shakedowns conducted through his annual Wall Street Project.  3/2/17
  • FOR YOUR DINING, DANCING AND LISTENING PLEASURE I present my YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrgNxZBhgoNNZ6nmb7SAKxA featuring some of my piano recordings of beautiful old songs.  They include selections from The Great American Songbook, as well as more contemporary hits of that kind.  This is my pitch to promote “conservative music”.  Free CDs containing hundreds of my arrangements are available if you want to drop by and pick them up.  3/2/17
  • RESPONSE.  Trump would be hypocritical in attending the dinner, but he did leave open the possibility of attending next year. He's hedging his bets. Besides, Trump attended the Al Smith Dinner with Hillary. It's all about assessing political fallout.  3/1/17
  • RESPONSE.  Irrationality has been imposed on so many by the left of late through the schools, colleges and the denigration of scholarship by the secular media. Irrational thought defuses challenges to the liberal agenda. The malady is not irreversible, but change will be like turning around a battle ship - a cultural sea change if you will. And that's only in the circumstance that permits it, that is, entrenched conservatism.  2/28/17
  • RESPONSE. Coulter is not forced to temper her speech. Rather, media executives control her by ordering staff not to book her because of her harmless September 2015 tweet. They do this to prevent advertisers from withdrawing ads who themselves are under pressure to do so from the FORCE. Media also ban her to escape orchestrated ostricization by other media who earn points with the FORCE for doing so. Who's the FORCE? Hmmmm. It's up to the people to rebel against it.  2/28/17
  • ANN COULTER RE-EMERGES – SORT OF.  She seems to have returned from media exile in her appearance on Fox with Jean Pirro Saturday night.  By my observation, it’s her first television appearance in a year and a half since the powers that be banished her for that harmless tweet. Is she allowed back because of widespread complaints about her ban?  Is she back because the election is over?  Or, have those powers just administered some temporary penance for her?  In any case, her disappearance is outrageous.  The people should rise up against this tyranny.  Let’s see if her return lasts.  2/27/17
  • TRUMP SNUBS MEDIA AGAIN – BRAVO.  I’m so glad to hear Trump is opting out of the annual White House Correspondents Dinner.  I’ve objected to this event for some years.  It’s just a mock fest against Republicans.  It also subordinates the presidency to the leftist media.  This is yet another sign of Trump’s gumption.  Reportedly, Republicans have loathed this event for years but none of them had the courage to challenge it.  Bravo again for Trump.  2/27/17
  • RESPONSE.  In this day and age I am clearly in a small minority regarding my opinions on attire and other cultural issues.  But consistent with my comprehensive conservatism I stick to them.  I notice male newscasters, panelists and contributors are increasingly jettisoning the tie.  I don’t like it. I’ve said before that reconciling political and cultural conservatism is problematic and I address it in my website Position Statements. Check out my website Archives in the Culture section at http://www.williamjdodwell.com/archives for my commentaries on dress, language and music. 2/24/17 
  • GET RID OF IVANKA.  Once again she has prevailed on her father to tilt left, this time with an assist from her husband, Jared, a key Trump advisor.  First it was about expensive tax preferences to defray the costs of child care.  Now it’s about toning down initial language in Trump’s upcoming executive orders rescinding Obama’s environmental regulations. Specifically, she objected to criticism of the Paris Agreement for which Obama pledged U.S. support.  Does this mean Trump will reverse himself and not nullify American backing? This broad is a lefty, and in particular a climate change freak.  Get her out of there!  And one has to wonder what influence Kushner has in keeping the president from doing what’s right in other areas.
  • RESPONSE.  Dress certainly does not make the man, but appearance is one component of the Comprehensive Conservative as defined in my website. That's my context. Such a conservative is a suit and tie kind of guy and a dress or gown type of gal. Nice dress has nothing to do with intelligence but it usually makes one seem so. He/she embraces certain cultural boundaries on behavior, appearance, language and the arts. That person would never wear a tattoo or listen to rap music or raucous rock, or perhaps not even wear jeans like me. My daughter says I'm stuck in the '50s, but I say more like the '40s. In high school I wore a tie while pole vaulting. But at the upper heights I removed it in case it might dislodge the crossbar as I passed over it. If I were to dig ditches I might remove the tie, depending on the temperature.  2/28/17
  • BANNON’S ARROGANCE. I’ve been highly supportive of Stephen Bannon on policy and continue to be.  But what’s with his sloppy attire at CPAC?  I’ll accept the shaggy hair.  But the dockers(?) with a suit jacket sans tie is arrogant and tasteless.  The only thing worse would be jeans in which case I would withdraw my support. What’s next a tattoo on the neck?  Put on a suit and tie, Bannon, like all the other guys.  As I said before, conservatism is not only about politics; it’s about refined culture too, and appropriate attire is part of it.  Grow up man.  2/24/17 
  • GO BANNON. Stephen Bannon, special advisor to President Trump, says the administration is dedicated to neutering the administrative state. This means that government agencies will be seriously chastened in their overreaching regulatory interpretations of legislation they have so tyrannically applied, especially under Obama. The corrupt EPA is particularly vulnerable. This executive action coincides with a more restrictive judiciary stance taking hold on Chevron deference, the legal principle by which courts tend to defer to the agencies in regulatory disputes because of their technical expertise, unless especially unreasonable. As Trump’s salutary developments transpire, it becomes ever more apparent that since November 8th divine providence has intervened to save the nation.  2/23/17
  • Well, it’s that time again – TIME TO IGNORE THE OSCARS.  Hollywood is a major enemy of the right, along with the media, academia, the plaintiffs’ bar, Big Labor and the Democratic Party. As such, its celebration is to be disparaged, or at least disregarded.  Denigration is particularly appropriate this year in view of the high profile this Marxist, anti-Christian institution has taken vilifying Trump before and after the election. Send a message to the Martin Sheens, the Robert De Niros, the Meryl Streeps, and the industry at large. Ban the box office.  Starve this beast.  Make Sunday’s program the lowest rated in its history. 2/21/17
  • MEMO TO NEWS PROGRAM DIRECTORS.  I speak for legions in the following:  I don’t want happy talk on a couch.  I don’t want fake smiles, phony eye lashes and flashes of artificial pearly whites. I don’t want feigned laughing and scratching, shucking and jiving.  I want my news and analysis straight, no chaser.  2/20/17
  • TRUMP DAY.  On President’s Day it is fitting to honor the current occupant of the Whitehouse.  Say what you will about our unpolished president.  He’s fearless.  He’s a relentless fighter unafraid to violate protocol.  He’s for doing what’s right regardless of who’s offended.  That’s leadership. How refreshing! It’s not only what he says.  It’s the way he says it.  No U.S. elected official in modern times has had the courage to challenge the media like Trump does.  Bravo!  2/20/17
  • Response.  I loosely define conservative music as traditional works that feature melody, harmony, and rhythm along with refined instrumentation, including voice. Of particular note are Frank Sinatra and the Great American Songbook. This contrasts with nihilistic, head banging, raucous rock and rap. Political and cultural conservatism are often insoluble. Ultra liberal Barbra Streisand is awful politically but a great songstress. Music makes strange bedfellows.  2/17/17
  • IS THE LIBERAL EDUCATION ESTABLISHMENT DELIBERATELY DUMBING DOWN AMERICA? See my latest paper in The Comprehensive Conservative at http://www.williamjdodwell.com/culture/current-commentary  The enemy is within. It's lurking in our schools and colleges as it imposes leftist propaganda and academic dilution aimed at defusing intellectual challenge to its agenda.  2/17/17
  • THE REPUBLICAN PARTY CAN’T BE TRUSTED, especially in the long term.  We need a shadow party of hard-nosed right-wingers to be at the ready to replace elected Republicans who go soft. They would be available to constantly voice opposition and wage primary challenges against RINOs wherever and whenever necessary to achieve sustained conservatism in government.  We need a deep, deep bench to replace those who cave and those who lose too many elections.  This requires vigorous recruiting, training and funding to produce relentless pressure on incumbents.  The tea party does this to some extent but it seems erratic. There’s more national support for the hard right than people think.  2/16/17
  • Check out my You Tube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrgNxZBhgoNNZ6nmb7SAKxA  for “conservative” music featuring over 50 samples of my piano recordings.  These beautiful compositions of yore should not be forgotten.  Conservatism is not just about politics; it’s about culture too.  2/16/17
  • MISSOURI BECOMES THE 28TH RIGHT-TO-WORK STATE.  Good progress has been made diminishing the private industrial unions, some of it occasioned by increased global competition and automation.  But the much bigger target are the public sector unions that saddle taxpayers with bloated salaries, benefits and pensions, bankrupting some cities. The greatest culprit are the teachers unions with their rigged contracts enabled by compromised pliant school boards.  Growing school choice support is a big threat to them. Let’s hope Betsy De Vos will bring new impetus to the movement.  2/13/17
  • CLIMATE CHANGE HOAX REDUX.  James Baker’s recent proposal for a carbon tax on companies to encourage a reduction of carbon emissions is misguided.  The plan is to remit the entire tax to taxpayers as a dividend, estimated at $2,000 a year per person. But like any corporate tax, companies will pass it on to consumers in the form of higher prices, which would offset the dividend variously.  Although the tax would be in exchange for eliminating all existing environmental levies, politically that would never happen, or wouldn’t last long.  Moreover, in time politicians would retain more and more of the tax for government spending, as well as raise the tax.  The premise of the proposal is that it would ameliorate the man-made climate change threat as insurance on the chance it is say, 50%, likely.  In fact, it is not.  No need for an insurance policy to protect against something nonexistent. The proposal is a prescription for bigger government. 2/11/17
  • BETSY DE VOS PREVAILS.  YOU GO GIRL!  The new Secretary of Education will expand charter schools and diminish the nefarious teachers unions.  She’ll promote real learning again and return control to local communities.  She’ll help to rid the classroom of leftist propaganda and non-academic social awareness nonsense. Ultimate success:  No more unions.  No more Education Department.  Truly educated students.  Let’s hope.  2/10/17
  • Next week marks Jesse Jackson’s 20th annual Rainbow PUSH Wall Street Project in New York City.  It promotes diversity in business, including employment, contracting, vendor selection, education, and capital investment. It is a noble initiative in theory if meritocratic.  But here’s my opinion.  The program is better called, The Annual Jesse Jackson Wall Street Extortion Festival for its shaking down banks for donations. Banks contribute wildly every year because the politically sensitive Federal Reserve Bank and other regulators are watching. Financial institutions fear regulatory reprisals, as well as Jackson’s orchestrated racially inflected publicity backlash for not cooperating.  His corporate shakedowns over the years are well-chronicled. And his non-profit outfits have never been held to account by the IRS for dubious financial operations that enriched him. See this link for documentation of past Jesse Jackson “indiscretions”. http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/jesse-jackson-the-politicized-irs/  2/9/17
  • Response. As a semi-professional/amateur musician, I wholeheartedly support your work. But as a veteran of Wall Street I want the public to know that this event is known as the Annual Jesse Jackson Wall Street Extortion Festival. Banks donate wildly because the Federal Reserve Bank and other regulators are watching them. The banks are deathly afraid of reprisals if they don't give. Jackson knows this so he shakes them down big time and tacitly threatens them with bad publicity if they don't cooperate. But good luck with your show.  2/8/17
  • Response.  Small banks already were granted some regulatory concessions during the Obama administration. The inequities of D-F on these institutions has become so obvious Democrats ignore them at their political peril as the effect on small businesses in their districts comes increasingly to bear.  2/7/17
  • The disproportionate impact of Dodd-Frank on small banks is generally recognized now, even by Democrats. Widespread sympathy for the community banks will lead to disproportionate relief.  2/7/17
  • DODD-FRANK IS REGULATORY OVERKILL. The financial crisis was caused by weak mortgage underwriting standards chiefly mandated by government to promote its affordable housing policy. Controls on bank lending criteria and certain capital requirements are enough to prevent another crisis. The rest of D-F is largely superfluous and injurious to the economy, especially as it denies small businesses access to credit. It only fosters government control over the financial system. Free Wall Street to free Main Street.  2/6/17
  • Today fiscal policy trumps monetary policy. Tax cuts and deregulation will generate the economic growth that finally will raise interest rates where they belong. Yellin never had the courage to normalize rates to help redirect capital from inflated financial assets back to the real economy. She'll be replaced next February.  2/4/17
  • ARE SUCCESSFUL BLACKS EMBARRASSED ABOUT BLACK HISTORY MONTH? Just askin'.  2/4/17
  • In the war against the left, arm yourself with raw meat from The Comprehensive Conservative at http://www.williamjdodwell.com/  It covers politics, culture and the economy in brutally honest commentary. Straight, no chaser.  2/3/17
  • TRUMP RE-ASSESSED.  Some on the right complain that Trump is not a real conservative. They point to his past hobnobbing with liberals, his donations to their causes, as well as his position on certain issues. Among them, I supported Ted Cruz, but switched to Trump when Cruz's campaign ended. Having seen President Trump in action I now believe he was a conservative all along and was previously pretending to be a liberal to facilitate his business and social life in New York City, which he always claimed. His actions since elected are largely conservative. He's even becoming more polished, actually speaking in full sentences now.  For the most part, he's doing it the right way - the right wing way.  2/2/17
  • Response about voter fraud.  I served as an election judge once upon a time....I won't say where, but I can guarantee we probably all should have been prosecuted. I just did as I was told and never spoke of it again....I also never served again either. And yes folks, it was for the benefit of the Democratic Party. The sad part was it wasn't necessary at the time.  2/1/17
  • Response to Whitehouse ban of CNN. I hope this is true. I used to switch to CNN and MSNBC when Fox goes to commercial just to be directly informed of the propaganda and distortion. But since the election those outlets have become unwatchable. I now toggle to C-SPAN when Fox goes to commercial. But because that station is commercial free, sometimes I wind up tuned in for an hour and miss the Fox programming.  2/1/17
  • GORSUCH IS A GREAT PICK! SCALIA LIVES. A ROCK-RIBBED CONSERVATIVE WHO WILL CORRECT THE LEFTWARD LIST OF THE COURT. More vacancies to come. The word is one Justice will resign this summer. One would assume one of the elders, particularly, Ginsberg. But Thomas might take the opportunity to retire given a president who will nominate a like-minded replacement.  2/1/17
  • The Left Doth Protest Too Much. In the wake of Trump's call for an investigation of voter fraud, liberals seem panicked in their insistence it doesn't exist. If true, why don't they agree to an investigation that would settle the matter. What's to worry? The fact is they know an honest and thorough investigation would expose them and delegitimize the Democratic Party past, present and future. Blatant voter fraud is tied to illegal immigration. While the left says voter fraud doesn't exist, which it certainly does, it deflects the issue by protesting voter suppression, which does not exist.  1/30/17
  • Following on the fake news syndrome, how about denouncing the phony smiles and laughter of cable news contributors as they discuss serious issues? Trying to ingratiate themselves to the audience and fellow panelists, or showing off their artificially perfect row of teeth is off-putting.  1/30/17
  • VOTER FRAUD IS REAL. Esteemed writer John Fund documented it extensively in two books in recent years. Why aren't they ever mentioned, even by the right? The left always dismisses the issue because the fraud largely benefits them. It's all about inflating Democratic votes. An independent investigation would expose the shenanigans or put the matter to rest for everyone. Can we ever expect an honest non-partisan study?  1/27/17
  • JUST BUILD THE WALL! A hundred feet up and a hundred feet down to prevent tunneling. Also make sure it is permanent so a future administration can't readily dismantle it. If we have to pay for it, so be it. Mexico certainly won't agree to pay as Trump was insisting. Even a temporary tariff as proposed is worth it. A better measure is to impose a surcharge on all remittances to Mexico by Mexican illegals and expatriates here until the wall is paid for. We must not allow a payment contingency to delay construction. In any case, we can afford the cost, especially if we ensure the labor unions don't rip us off.  1/27/17
  • Response. Yes, Scott, the private unions have diminished and will continue to do so for the reasons you mention, thank God. (Unfortunately, the scourge of public sector unions more than offsets that progress.) In the case of Trump's infrastructure projects, the clients are pro-union governments - federal, state and local. This means probable collusion with contractors at the expense of taxpayers as political hacks accede to cost overruns and absurd work rules. This is most unfortunate considering most of the projects will be unneeded boondoggles. As for partial private financing by construction companies, how much recourse do they have against union abuse, notwithstanding the profit motive? Just to publicize it is very impolitic and invites retaliation. Call me a cynic. 1/26/17
  • Response. To the extent Trump's renegotiations redress cheating and excessive concessions to trade partners they are commendable. As Trump says, free trade, but fair trade. But if a trade war ensues, the detriment to consumers I described is real. I support the Keystone and Dakota projects because they're about essential energy development and independence, notwithstanding probable union corruption. But Trump's infrastructure projects, whether financed publicly, privately or some combination, will unduly cost taxpayers whether at the federal, state or local level. Nonetheless, the real issue concerns the true need for infrastructure which is grossly exaggerated by special interests. 1/26/17
  • Trump is making some great progress but he's wrong on trade and infrastructure. His trade policies will make consumers, who far outnumber workers, pay substantially more for less selection and perhaps inferior product. Import competition forces American producers to hold down prices and ensure a certain quality. Tax cuts and deregulation will help, but inflated union wages defeat competitiveness. Plus, automation will not be stopped. Infrastructure spending is a boondoggle for the labor unions and inevitably invites massive corruption locally. Infrastructure projects must be certifiably necessary and funded by local taxes and bond issues. Expenditures must be rigorously audited. 1/26/17
  • It will be interesting to see how much additional Obama corruption is uncovered as the Trump team becomes entrenched. Already The Daily Caller reports that the VA has harbored many convicted felons, some of whom continue to break the law as employees while the VA covers up the crimes. John Crudele of the New York Post reports that serious falsification of statistics occurred in the Census Bureau that materially understates the unemployment number and affects redistricting in favor of Democrat candidates. Obama was corrupt to the core.  1/26/17
  • From the beginning I've referred to what Trump is doing as "breaking the mold" of the Republican Party. First I ascribed it to Cruz, my first choice. Regardless of his many foibles, Trump is to be lauded for doing what no one has had the courage to do. Let's hope the Trump brand is a new Republican brand. 1/24/17
  • Response.  Ms. Crowley's inexplicable plagiarism does not invalidate her countless verbal expressions of truth and insight in the media for years. I don't know that she can recover from this revelation. Ann Coulter has been banned from virtually all media since a supposed anti-Semitic remark she made in September 2015 following a GOP debate. This censorship is outrageous and should be challenged. That you and many others were not aware of this is testament of the effectiveness of this banishment. See a USA Today article about the incident at http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2015/09/17/ann-coulter-comment-jews-gop-debate-israel-relations/32543837 1/24/17
  • Response to question about the Comprehensive Conservative differs from the libertarian.  Conservatism and libertarianism overlap to some extent. Both advocate individual freedom and limited government but conservatism sets certain boundaries that exclude excess. The Comprehensive Conservative embraces both political and cultural conservatism (hence its comprehensiveness) on the basis of traditional values. Unlike libertarians, for example, the Comprehensive Conservative decries raucous rock music and hideous tattoos, and does not support the legalization of marijuana. Rather, it favors The Great American Songbook and its practitioners, such as Frank Sinatra and Nat Cole. It supports individual freedom as promulgated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. But it tempers those freedoms in the cultural realm with respect to overindulgence and decadence such as displayed by degenerate rockers and rappers. Reconciling political and cultural conservatism can be problematic. Read my website Overview for a more expansive explanation. 1/24/17
  • Response. Glad to hear the LGBTQXLVBEZ, whatever the f...k it is today, and other political correctness are gone. Let's hope Trump also orders the military to reinstate all the references to Islamic terrorism Obama struck from all operating manuals.  1/21/17
  • What a sad turn of events for great conservative commentator, Monica Crowley. Plagiarism charges look convincing and she has yet to offer any explanation. She resigned her new job with Trump. She apparently lost her editorship and column at The Washington Times. She's gone from Fox News. Her Ph. D. may be revoked.  And her website is dormant. Such a smart, knowledgeable person does not have to rely on plagiarism. It's incomprehensible. Add this to the outrageous censorship of Ann Coulter for a meaningless tweet, and we have lost two conservative stalwarts. 1/21/17
  • In celebration of the astonishing success of the most improbable prospect for the U.S. Presidency, I offer my recording of "The Impossible Dream" (the second selection). https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrgNxZBhgoNNZ6nmb7SAKxA   1/20/17
  • A MOMENT OF SILENCE for Buddy Greco who died recently at 90. Mainly known as a singer, particularly for his rendition of Richard Rodger's "The Lady Is A Tramp", he was also an accomplished jazz pianist. Here is a video of him playing a duet with the late great jazz pianist, Billy Taylor. (Buddy starts playing at the 2:05 mark.) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRsH2sTX9PE 1/20/17
  • HE'S OUTTA HERE!!! Hallelujah! Banished to the trash bin of history. Good riddance, Obama. May the door hit you on the way out - really hard.  Here’s my take on his legacy:   https://sites.google.com/site/thecomprehensiveconservative/special-notice-1 1/20/17
  • Let's put to rest one common tribute to Obama. He did not save the country from depression in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The Federal Reserve Bank infused the financial system with abundant liquidity which stabilized the economy. This is always done in times of crisis. However, subsequent monetary policy has been feckless. Obama's stimulus spending was a sham that benefited mainly labor unions and other Democratic donors. He refused to support tax cuts and deregulation absolutely required to normalize the economy and create sufficient quality employment. Annual growth of 2% during his tenure is way below historical standards coming out of a recession. Go Trump!  1/19/17
  • As the tensions of the Obama years end, let us relax for a bit and savor the change. Here's a ballad from my latest CD of piano solos, "How Do We Keep The Music Playing?" Consider this an example of conservative music.  1/19/17
  • Marc Lamont Hill is right. Of course Trump is pandering to blacks. He's a politician now. The only visitors he appears with in the lobby of Trump Tower are blacks - Steve Garvey, MLK III, Kanye West. He probably earns some political points because of the photo ops. Trump's pandering to blacks started with special treatment of Omarosa. She was the proverbial "angry black woman" on the Apprentice and an undistinguished performer. But Trump has elevated her to the White House. After a complete personality makeover, she now appears frequently on television as a Trump spokesperson. Do you think a white version of her would be featured this way?  1/19/17
  • Glad to see Theresa May taking a hard line on the Brexit. Sovereignty takes precedence. Conceding a free flow of people in exchange for a free flow of goods should not be acceptable. Individual trade agreements will be forged eventually. The EU relies on British markets. What's more, other EU nations are entertaining an exit. Bust that socialist body!  1/18/17
  • Trump disrupts free trade and foreign investment flows to protect U.S. jobs at the expense of corporate profits, as well as the benefits imports to consumers, who far outnumber displaced workers. And he cavalierly dismisses the resulting pressure on the dollar. Some attribute the 1987 stock market crash to Treasury Secretary Jim Baker also publicly downplaying the dollar. I remember the uncharacteristically sheepish photo of his very proud man when the sky fell. Global economic integration is more complicated than Trump's narrow view. The solution on the currency front is to revive the gold standard.  1/18/17
  • As expected, donations to the Clinton Global Initiative have dried up since the election causing the Clintons to terminate the operation. This is proof positive of the foundation's pay-to-play, quid pro quo, influence peddling modus operandi predicated on an expected Hillary presidency that Republican critics claimed all along. But liberals would have no problem with this crook in the White House.  1//17/17
  • The left tries to delegitimize Trump to retaliate for his birther rants which the media claim were based on race. Of course Trump's protest about Obama's birth origin was predicated on a constitutional requirement. This is never mentioned, even by the right which is cowardly silent on the issue. What's the left's basis for delegitimizing Trump? He won fair and square. Georgia Congressman Lewis says Trump is illegitimate because of alleged ties to Russian hackers. There is no evidence of that relationship and no evidence of the hacking affecting the election. The left will propagandize throughout Trump's tenure in the hope of convincing a good portion of the population he’s illegitimate.  1/14/17
  • Government confiscation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac profits is wrong. The bailout has been repaid 1 1/2 times. Profits should revert back to investors, notwithstanding the implied government guarantee against default and insolvency they have enjoyed since inception. What's going to happen to Fannie and Freddie? Wind down; restored public ownership; public/private shared credit risk between government and banks; dissolution; or more of the same. We need to revitalize the private securitization market that has been moribund since the financial crisis. Get government out of the housing market.  1/11/17
  • Obama had nothing to do with the stock market recovery. It is attributed to the Fed's monetary policy which resulted in protracted near-zero interest rates and trillions of dollars of bond purchases that caused huge liquidity.  In addition, the near record stock market anticipates Trump's tax cuts and deregulation as evidenced by the big runup since the election.  People invested in stocks as an alternative to nothing on bank CDs and money markets funds. As a consequence, stocks and other financial assets are inflated. Everyone knows the nominal unemployment rate is misleading. Most of the new jobs are part-time or low level. In addition, the rate doesn't capture the millions of people who have given up looking as reflected in a 40 year-low labor participation rate. Obama failed to implement appropriate fiscal policy. If he significantly cut taxes and regulation, as Trump proposes, the economy would have grown twice as much over eight years and created millions of quality jobs.  1/11/17
  • Trump's "Buy American" promotion is wrong. Inflated union labor costs render American cars uncompetitive. In order to compete on price, U.S. automakers have to use inferior parts and materials which significantly limit the useful life of the vehicle. I would never buy another American made car. Here are some of my experiences: One car was junked at 46,000 miles. The next one frequently broke down on the road at 94,000 miles. The next one required a new transmission at 73,000 miles. I’ve now owned a Japanese car for eight years.  So far so good. Get rid of the unions so American companies can compete.  1/10/17
  • THE CLIMATE CHANGE HOAX: It seems more and more people are on to the climate change scam. The long-time media suppression of dissenting views is a clue in itself. It's about the redistribution of wealth from rich countries to poor ones trough taxation, fines and litigation while the principal operatives enrich themselves in the process. This growing realization combined with the Brexit and other dissent in the EU, and of course the Trump election, suggest the world is waking up to the problem of centralized government. Sovereignty and individual freedom are sacrosanct.  1/10/17
  • Enough already about the Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds deaths. Their coincident passings are noted. Let's move on. They're just exponents of the Hollywood left which wants the world to obsess about them as proxies of their agenda. Hollywood must not be a focal point, unless it is to damage it. Ban the box office. Ignore the Oscars.  1/8/17
  • Trump shouldn’t interfere with corporate relocation decisions. Hopefully, his proposed tax cuts and deregulation will change the corporate calculus. But even then, inflated union labor costs and a shortage of qualified American workers will loom for some. In addition, as technology advances, companies will rely less on labor.  Government coercion that restricts competiveness to save jobs subverts free enterprise to the detriment of consumers. Regarding trade, Trump should renegotiate unfair trade deals. A trade war from new American tariffs could exacerbate job displacement.       1/7/17
  • The recent attack on a vulnerable white youth by four blacks in Chicago is indicative of the particularly virulent strain of miscreant in the inner cities today. The reason no politician has the courage to challenge the ongoing scourge in Chicago is because the targets will fight back with guns. As a result, many, many police, as well as National Guard troops if called, would be killed and maimed. In addition, the media would portray the conflict as a race war. Politicians, as well as police and Guardsman, are scared to death of this scenario. Why isn't anyone mentioning this?  1/6/17
  • Response to a potpourri of comments.  The Fed is INDEPENDENT by law.  The president only has the power to appoint the Chair person.  It is hoped Trump will dump Yellen when her term expires in February 2018.  Thank the teachers unions for the lack of qualified STEM job candidates. Reagan's tax cut led to about 20 years of prosperity.  President Kennedy's was also very effective.  Tax cuts help businesses create jobs, including small ones with non-wealthy owners.  Trump's proposed tax cuts, including a reduced rate on repatriation of overseas corporate profits, will do wonders.  Infrastructure spending is largely a boondoggle for the construction unions.  It does not create sustained economic growth.  What do deregulation and tax cuts have to do with hurricane Katrina and oil spills? The BP and Valdez disasters were results of not executing existing rules. The 2008 financial crisis was primarily caused by government forcing banks to lend to lower income borrowers who could not afford to repay.  Dodd-Frank is preventing small community banks from lending to small businesses at great cost to the economy.  Stolen pensions?  Historically, labor unions steal members' pensions.  Today, pension are unfunded because of the Fed's near-zero interest rate policy.

©2017 William J. Dodwell  


 





Miscellaneous Thoughts Posted to Linked In Between April and June 2017


 By William J. Dodwell


  • TRUMP’S JUMPED THE SHARK TWEET. SO WHAT?  Once again President Trump indulged his immature petulance, most recently in a tweet tirade against MSNBC co-hosts Joe Scarborough and his chick Mika Brezinski, rendering media all atwitter (pun intended).  What else is new?  This personality has been on world display for over two years now, what’s the big deal?  He’s Trump being Trump.  A leopard doesn’t change its spots, even as president of the United States.  In fact, his combative attitude is an effective antidote to the status quo and its “don’t rock the boat” culture.  It got him elected.  To that point, Trump has a considerable mandate that includes:  tax cuts, spending cuts, massive deregulation, national security through military strength, free-market health care reform, a wall along the southern border as part of a war on illegal immigration, conservative appointments to the courts, unfettered energy development, a reversal of as much of Obama’s damage as possible, and harsh admonishment of mass media.  As long as he delivers, his demeanor is irrelevant, notwithstanding the outrage, faux and otherwise.  I wrote about Trump’s foibles in an article in The Comprehensive Conservative dated April 25, 2016 entitled, “Donald Trump:  Change Agent or Buffoon?” while a Ted Cruz supporter.  See it at http://www.williamjdodwell.com/archives  At this point, as long as he’s a change agent of the sort described, I don’t care if he’s a buffoon too.  6/30/17      

  • PUTTING DEMOCRATIC OBSTRUCTION IN PERSPECTIVE.  Trump and the Republicans complain that Democrats in Congress reject everything Republicans propose.  But it’s par for the course today.  In a hyper-polarized political environment that’s the name of the game.  The Republicans did it to some effect in the Obama years limiting the damage, as bad as it was.  As a consequence, Obama resorted to heavy reliance on executive orders, even illegal ones, which Trump has summarily rescinded.  Today, the debate on the merits of legislation is secondary to achieving the power to pass it through success at the polls.  To overcome obstruction Republicans have to win converts to produce large majorities in Congress to support the president’s conservative agenda, such as it is.  The two sides are too far apart for reasonable compromise and majorities are too slim in this new paradigm to get the right things done in the long term.  As such, Republicans must adopt full-time campaign mode to re-elect deserving incumbents and recruit, train and fund new conservative candidates in replacement of the retiring, as well as the unfaithful.  Getting the right people in the right numbers will mitigate internecine battles that impede progress.  Rather than overly compromise on principles, Republicans should capitalize on the still dormant conservative voter who has not succumbed to the dreck propagated by the media, government bureaucracy, Hollywood and academe. Trump should hold frequent rallies throughout his term as they can be quite inspiring.  Effective and aggressive messaging and rebuttal can expand the base, especially given the extremism of the left largely responsible for the gridlock that blocks conservative accomplishment today.  6/22/17

  • IS RUSH LIMBAUGH UNDER SIEGE?  As the left targets Fox News for evisceration, I wonder if a parallel strategy is underway against talk radio, in particular Rush Limbaugh.  Yesterday I heard him do a commercial for an online debt consolidation outfit particularly aimed at those overburdened by student debt. What's next, an ad for Publishers Clearinghouse?  Is he desperate for advertisers?  Is he losing genuine sponsors to boycott threats?  It would appear conservatives are in for a growing ongoing fight.  They must rise to the occasion.  It would probably help if Limbaugh would disclose this problem if it exists, as Hannity did, rather than be coy about it.   Exposure would galvanize some on the right for aggressive counteraction.  6/21/17

  • LISTEN UP WOMEN NEWSCASTERS AND COMMENTATORS.  Yesterday I opined on the disuse of the necktie among newsmen and male contributors on the air, and the decline of men’s appearance in general.  Today I address the distaff.  As the summer season gets underway women on the air will be flashing cleavage like sparklers on the 4th of July.  That’s great, but a word of advice.  You better have a rack to back it up.  Otherwise, you look like “the little engine that could”.  If you don’t have the goods, flaunt the gams instead. (I love political incorrectness!)  6/14/17

  • AMERICA’S SLIPPERY SLOPE TOWARDS DECADENCE.  Increasingly male news anchors, guests and panelists eschew the necktie, heretofore a universal symbol of professionalism.  Of course, the standards for attire have been deteriorating for some decades:  Men in shorts; jeans with suit jacket; casual office wear; defiling tattoos; untucked shirts; and now open collars during serious programming before millions of people. What’s next, a loin cloth and a tusk through the nose?  It may be just a matter of time.  In the aggregate, this sartorial decline is symptomatic of a dangerous drift as sloppy attire can yield muddled thinking, undisciplined performance and ever more docility to liberal politics in a descent towards third-world status.  Even if bad appearance does not always foster a liberal mindset, its increasing presence suggests a growing leftist leaning with nefarious implications.  Yeah, the slobs in the technology sector have revolutionalized the economy.  But, ironically, they’re solid leftists who support policies that expand government and erode traditional freedoms.  Is there a connection between clothing and politics, either cause or effect, that undermines traditional values?  Today the tie.  Tomorrow the nation?  6/13/17
                    - Follow up.  This issue concerns cultural conservatism, the second pillar of the Comprehensive Conservative I espouse. But at some point culture and politics intersect.  If the slob factor has gone from, say, 10% to, say, 50% and growing, that is of concern mainly because it may be politically influenced. The necktie might be a bellweather for liberal encroachment.  6/14, 15


  • MEMO TO FOX NEWS: GET RID OF GERALDO RIVERA.  He is on the air morning, noon and night. He was in my face when I retired Friday night and again when I tuned in Saturday morning.  That day he appeared with three other panelists and spoke incessantly for ten minutes or more rendering the others virtually mute.  How does Fox allow this?  The guy is an ego maniac.  One would think that after almost 50 years in the lime light he would have had his fill of attention.  His opinions don’t bother me so much (except for his stance on immigration). It’s his narcissistic OBSESSION for media exposure I can’t abide.  His relish for the camera and the sound of his own voice is palpable.  I felt similarly (but not nearly as much) about Johnny Carson towards the end, having been a fan during his early and middle years. Someone tell Rivera to finally get off the stage.  Put him out to pasture to make room for a solid right-winger.  Fat chance.  Fox is drifting to the left, and women and minorities are becoming gratuitously more prominent in the lineup to boost its diversity score .  6/12/17
  • Follow up.  The HOAX is the left's effort to propagate the notion that man's contribution to climate change is significant - enough to justify the hoopla and wealth redistribution. But actually, man's pollution has an infinitesimal impact on climate change, if that. To predicate energy restrictions and wealth transfers on that basis is a fraud. It is a HOAX to attribute every adverse climate, or weather, event to man. It is a HOAX to say that man can have an appreciable effect on climate change or its resolution.  6/6/17

  • THE CLIMATE CHANGE HOAX CONTINUES.  In the aftermath of Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord mass media go all out to protect the religion of man-made climate change in the face of contrary reality.  In responding, conservatives have been diverted from two principal points.  1) The primary issue is not how many more jobs are created by the solar energy industry or saved by deregulation, or how much reduction in carbon emissions has already been achieved.  The glaring truth is that fossil fuels and nuclear fission are by far more productive and economical sources of energy than the alternatives.  This is despite alternative energy’s rate of growth, which is government subsidized and derives from a very small baseline in its incipient stage of development.  If the national grid fails because of a shortage of coal or nuclear power that results in blackouts throughout the country, no amount of solar, wind or any other energy source will get the lights back on - now or ever.  2) The other missing point concerns the third rail which almost no conservative will broach.  That is, that man-made climate change is not a crisis or threat.  Rather, it is a HOAX.  Trump said as much in his remarks last week without using that word.  It is a massive wealth redistribution scheme from developed nations to developing ones, particularly at the expense of the U.S.  Hundreds of billions of dollars of payment transfers enrich third-world thugs and countless intermediaries in the process while empowering tyrannical government.  Much of the scientific community toes the liberal line about climate because they and their sponsors fear the loss of their jobs and generous funding from the left. And, as the email expose at the University of East Anglia revealed in 2011, some scientists and their henchmen fabricate data to fit the liberal narrative.  They also prevent naysayers from publishing research, thus stifling their careers.  Happily, climate skeptics and deniers are increasing their numbers.  Conservatives can accelerate the conversion by emphasizing traditional energy’s far superior effectiveness and by exposing the man-made climate change fraud.  6/6/17            

  • KATHY GRIFFIN IS ON THE ROPES, SO GO FOR THE KNOCKOUT.  I wish Kathy Griffin would suffer the same opprobrium for her longtime hyper-aggressive public liberalism as she does for her recent anti-Trump performance art which, while tasteless, is innocuous.  More is at stake than a presidential desecration.  Let’s relish the schadenfreude. While she’s on the ropes knock her out by capitalizing on her widespread ignominy.  She’s a minor figure but a visible symbol of the nefarious left.  Conservatives should seize the moment and make an example of her.  It’s payback time.  She said she’s broken.  The backlash is working.  Performance contracts and endorsements have been cancelled (which could be temporary).  Pile on now.  Conservatives have to treat fire with fire.  She’s legally free to express herself as she chooses but she and her ilk better be prepared for the reaction, which is also a public right.  That will give the left pause in the future.  This response is particularly important as Griffin attempts to get off the canvas by invoking victimhood and tacitly pulling the gender card, as evidenced by the presence of contemptible feminist lawyer, Lisa Bloom, beside her at her press conference.  Griffin’s act is to garner sympathy through her current vulnerability while trying to preempt punitive response in the form of boycotts and blacklisting.  The message is, I’m broken but don’t mess or I’ll sue for sexual harassment or discrimination. If conservatives (and others) can generate enough public appetite for her obliteration, either for her beheading bit or her politics, it will overwhelm any legal case.  As the left tries to put Fox News out of business and stifles free speech on campus, the right must retaliate big time.  It’s war out there.  Kill or be killed.  Let the Griffin flap be a catalyst for an all-out offensive against the left.  On to the rest of the Hollywood crowd, and beyond.  George Soros anyone?  6/5/17

  • BRAVO TRUMP, BUT WE’RE NOT OUT OF THE WOODS YET.  Kudos to Trump for withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, with a shout out to EPA head, Scott Pruitt, who probably influenced his decision most.  However, Trump’s suggestion to renegotiate or forge a new agreement is disturbing.  Aside from unfair, the deal is predicated on a false premise - that man-made climate change is a legitimate threat.  Of course, the issue is a HOAX that should not be accommodated to any degree. This is what Trump believes privately but, as president, he cannot say publicly.  In fact, Trump stated in his announcement that the Paris agreement is a massive wealth redistribution scheme aimed at favoring developing nations economically at our expense that results in no change in climate.  He also wisely questioned the disposition of the $100 billion annual collective contribution to the Green Climate Fund.  (“Where does the money go?”, he said). But the withdrawal process takes three years according to the accord.  Does this mean that in the interim the U.S. continues to pay into the fund and commit to prescribed carbon emission reductions with their adverse consequences for industry and workers, and possibly be subject to undisclosed rapacious fees and penalties?  If so, climate advocates would probably oppose making concessions through renegotiation and hope the next president will re-enter the agreement in four years.  Amid this uncertainty, coal and energy firms might hesitate to invest.  Ideally, Trump would withdraw from the underlying United Nations Framework On Climate Change treaty, that takes only one year, and free the country from all global environmental entanglements.  Unfortunately, repeal of a senate-ratified treaty is rare.  6/2/17 

  • TRUMP MUST WITHDRAW FROM THE PARIS AGREEMENT.  Trump said he will decide this week whether to withdraw from the 2015 Paris Agreement that Obama signed.  It commits the U.S. to climate change initiatives including major investment in alternative energy projects.  It also requires contributions to an eventual $100 billion fund to distribute payments around the world to prevent and respond to disasters disingenuously attributed to man-made agents.  It is a massive socialist wealth redistribution scheme that will enrich kleptocratic despots and other Marxist ministers around the world, as well as further empower governments.  Trump has to resist considerable pressure to endorse the accord within his administration, as well as from European leaders he just met last week.  He also has to overcome the suasion of his leftist daughter and son-in-law.  Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has mouthed support for certain environmental activism in the past, including at his confirmation hearings.  But truth be told, he has had to pretend to support the issue as CEO of Exxon, a principle target of environmental fascists.  He is not likely to try to talk Trump into supporting the Paris accord.  Trump used to call man-made climate change a hoax.  Let’s hope his current equivocation on the issue is just political posturing.  A decision to withdraw would be a significant sign of strength few politicians could muster.  [W1] 5/31/17

  • DON’T DONATE TO YOUR ALMA MATER.  In this commencement season my March 8th post bears repeating for graduates, parents and alumni:  One effective way of protesting academia, that bastion of Marxism, is to withhold donations.  So, when your alma mater calls for that annual alumni fund, stiff them – and tell them why.  Starve that beast. Your money is used to promote multicultural, environmental, LGBT and anti-American awareness, as well as the rest of the radical left agenda.  In particular, it goes to free rides for minorities which enable the colleges to tout their diversity and burnish their liberal bona fides that sustain government funding.  Meanwhile, tuition for whites rises unabated. It’s a typical socialist wealth redistributionist scheme.  Some colleges are declared sanctuaries for illegal aliens who get free or discounted tuition. A number of them join gangs that maraud over campus.  Cowardly administrators refuse to quell disruptive behavior by naive students brainwashed by America-hating professors.  Don’t be a sucker. When the endowments fall maybe the indoctrination will subside in favor of academic freedom and campus discipline. Money talks.  5/25/17, 6/7/17 and repeated thereafter. 

  • GET A CLOWN SUIT FOR POPE FRANCIS.  Reportedly, Pope Francis was quite cool to Trump upon meeting him at the Vatican today, maybe even dismissive.  Yet, he fawned all over Fidel Castro during his visit to Cuba in 2015.  The guy’s a Marxist clown.  He pontificates ignorantly about the perils of climate change, egalitarian attitudes about immigration, and other liberal nostrums.  The Church is desperate to shore up its decimated membership and recover from the priest-scandal settlements in a quest for relevance again. This pope is very accommodating towards that end.  The current campaign to enlist souls throughout Africa is one example. But given today’s secularized world and a disgraced priesthood, a return to its past glory is a tall order. (Recall the fate of evangelist Jimmy Swaggart when his mushrooming global cable television network crashed to the ground after his fall from grace.)  The Catholic Church with its billion-plus largely nominal followers does not have nearly the influence it had when I was a young acolyte. As always, the plan is to maximize the numbers in the hope the money will follow.  But Trump’s agenda does not comport with Pope Francis’ appeal to the proletariat.  Hence, the snub.  5/24/17

  • INFERENCES FROM TRUMP’S COMMENT TO COMEY MAY BE TOO LITERAL.  All media, including conservatives, are reporting Trump’s controversial comment to Comey regarding his investigation of Mike Flynn as an unequivocal request to exonerate the general. This is not necessarily the case at all.  Worse, some reports lie stating that Trump flatly told Comey to let Flynn off.  Comey’s memo cites Trump saying, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”  But Trump very well may have implied an innocuous context to the effect, “In the course of your investigation I hope you can find justification for freeing him.” Why isn’t anyone suggesting this interpretation?  That Trump’s statement implied Comey’s due consideration is not unreasonable. Trump must have known that any insinuation of an unqualified request for Flynn’s dismissal could be deadly, even alone in the room with Comey.  Everyone knows Trump is not articulate.  As such, his inartful wording may be taken too literally. It is utterly appalling that crooked Hillary could escape the same scrutiny in spite of all the evidence against her for far more serious allegations. The system is truly corrupt.   5/19/17

  • COMEY DESERVED TO BE FIRED.  AG James Comey deserved removal for not referring the Hillary email and Clinton Foundation cases to AG Loretta Lynch for consideration of prosecution. He cited serious security violations and faced abundant evidence of improprieties by the Foundation but gave her a pass anyway. (Of course, Lynch, who was in the tank for Obama, would not have pursued charges anyway.)  What’s more, Comey’s emotional account (almost crying) of his angst about whether to disclose or suppress new Hillary email information expressed at last week’s Congressional hearings betrayed a weakness unbecoming of his office. Also, if Comey decided not to pursue evidence that the Obama Administration illegally surveilled Trump, while investigating Trump for complicity in Russian election tampering despite a lack of any evidence, he would have showed bad judgment or timidity.  Attorney General Jeff Sessions should not have recused himself from the latter case as his contacts with Russian officials were obviously insubstantial. Now Republicans risk Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, an Obama appointee, caving to Democrat pressure to appoint a special prosecutor with all the negative political implications for even a completely innocent subject.  Let’s hope Comey’s successor delivers the goods on Hillary and Susan Rice et al so that AG Sessions and Deputy AG Rosenstein can put them in prison and set an enormously important precedent. Is it too much to expect Rosenstein to prosecute Obama’s former henchmen?  5/10/17

  • Response to comment regarding overused words and phrases.  “Thing”, as in it’s a good thing or a bad thing.  People, including journalists, are too lazy or illiterate to think of substitutes.  This is lamentable considering journalists are the supposed guardians of the language.  Ditto for “narrative” regarding agenda, worldview, etc. The word “existential is over used too.  It’s ok, but let’s hear some alternatives.  How about the unctuous, fulsome, obsequious “I look forward to working with you …” uttered by cabinet and other nominees, as well as certain federal officials, at Congressional hearings? 5/5/17

  • DISHONEST REPORTING BY FOX NEWS.  With all the corruption in media, Fox News has been looked to as something of an oasis for truth seekers.  But the “fair and balanced” network is hardly a paragon.  A seemingly concerted over-the-top celebration by Fox on-air personalities in reaction to the House vote to repeal and replace Obamacare is a disgrace.  By my observation, prime time programming at Fox failed to mention the bill’s highly questionable prospect for passage in the Senate.  Lesser informed viewers might think the bill is now law given the hoopla there.  Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs are the biggest culprits.  Neither of them is ever critical of Trump. What’s more, usually insightful Fox contributor, Newt Gingrich, sounds like a flack for him since the election.  His remarks about the president, as “smart” and “fast learner”, seem gratuitous as if to dispel a general perception to the contrary. And Gingrich too has not been critical of the president at all since last November 8th.  Could this have something to do with an ongoing “advisory” contract with the Administration?  If so, doesn’t that conflict with his formal role as Fox contributor?  Conservatives want their view presented prominently as an effective antidote to the propaganda of Fox counterparts.  But shills on the right who shade or distort the truth can be almost as bad.  5/5/17

  • TIME TO SHUT DOWN THE GOVERNMENT – FOR REAL. The obsession against shutting down the government is unfounded. In fact, only about 15% of "non-essential" functions would be discontinued. And there is plenty of money coming into the Treasury from tax receipts to service the debt and pay major bills. Politicians are loathe to be "blamed" for a shutdown. But come election time, no one even remembers that it happened, or certainly knows the circumstances that brought it about in order to assign blame. A threat to shut down the government is a great gambit for garnering some Democratic support for spending cuts. Call their bluff. Gingrich did it as Speaker in the '90s. Now the president has to pull this trigger.  5/2/17

  • MORE CONSERVATIVE MUSIC.  Comprehensive conservatism is not just political.  It’s cultural too.  As such, I present some recently added piano recordings of mine on my You Tube channel as my pitch for conservative music.  Hear my selections at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrgNxZBhgoNNZ6nmb7SAKxA . In particular, listen to my version of Duke Ellington’s classic, “Solitude”.  Hold on for the entire recording to capture all the jazz improvisational nuances.  Select from over 50 more samples for something that whets your musical appetite.  Parents, expose your children to REAL music and encourage those inclined to learn an instrument (especially the piano). The experience could tremendously enrich their lives forever.  5/2/17

  • IT’S WAR OUT THERE. Liberal activists targeting Fox News show a new determination to silence conservatives.  Their ilk, with mass media support, denied Charles Murray, Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter their right of free speech on college campuses. They smeared and temporarily silenced Monica Crowley over exaggerated plagiarism charges. And they brought down Bill O’Reilly crying crocodile tears about alleged sexual harassment.  The latest scalp appears to be Jesse Watters’ as he has been taken out, at least temporarily, for a supposedly sexist remark on the air, while Sean Hannity is in the crosshairs. Leftist tactics now go beyond historical vilification and mockery. Today, the liberal elites are bent on destroying the opposition outright, the constitutional right to free speech be damned.  If this mindset marks a sea change in media, conservatives must treat fire with fire and adopt an offense equally visceral and bellicose. Moreover, the right should seriously consider creating an alternative news network to replace Fox, since the progressive Murdoch sons seem disposed to significantly altering its voice as we have known it. For many years Fox ratings have proved that the conservative message has far more viewer support than its counterparts.  And there is plenty of talent available for the new undertaking, especially as Fox releases its own or stars defect. The question becomes, What is the best model?  5/1/17

  • CREATING A SUCCESSOR TO FOX NEWS.  The prospect of Fox News’ demise amid new leftist interference prompts serious contemplation of a cable replacement.  But how would the new organization avoid the same fate as Fox?  Like Fox, a publicly-traded entity (or its parent) would be subject to the potential cost of boycotts by or against advertisers and cable carriers, and to the reaction of shareholders. Left-wing courts could uphold flimsy individual sexual harassment, retaliation and discrimination charges, as well as related shareholder lawsuits.  Liberal government regulators could trump up violations.  The IRS could order audit reprisals.  And adverse new ownership is just a succession or sale away.  The new organization must have enough capitalization and revenue to match and exceed Fox’s exposure and influence.  Financing possibilities include:  1) Direct investment by conservative billionaires, such as the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson; or 2) a spin-off, leveraged buyout, or outright acquisition of Fox News from parent News Corp, or 3) a takeover of some other network.  Revenue models include advertising, member subscriptions, product sales and donations. Only the vulnerable public company model that relies on advertising with some diversified revenue streams seems viable for the scale of operations desired. Unless, deep-pocketed conservative ownership can ride to the rescue that can ensure adequate capitalization to cover shortfalls from operations, including profit hits from the cost of boycotts and lawsuits.  That means a wealthy conservative benefactor(s) with like-minded heirs.  Is there a right-wing version of Bill Gates out there?  5/1/17

  • Trump's tax proposal is good. I don't begrudge a tax break for the rich; the top 1% of earners already pay about 40% of all federal taxes, and their spending and investment contribute considerably to the economy. However, the elimination of deductibility for state and local taxes, including property taxes, in exchange for doubling the standard exemption cannot possibly survive the final version of the bill. This is a huge disadvantage for the middle class. Ideally, spending would be slashed to make room for massive tax reduction and ensuing economic growth.  5/1/17

  • TRUMP’S TAX PROPOSAL IS A MUST.  Major reductions in individual and corporate tax rates are indispensable for reviving the economy.  Never mind worrying about how they will be “paid for” to avoid expanding the budget deficit. Substantial tax cuts will prime market demand that will engender broad economic growth that will eventually cover an initial deficit, and even enable debt reduction. Supply-side economics works, despite what the liberal naysayers propagandize.  We might have to take a couple of steps back in terms of a worsening short-term budget gap in order to advance in the long-term, but it’s worth it.  Forget about the deficit and focus on sustained economic growth that will create jobs and prosperity.  Tax cuts combined with massive deregulation will send the economy to the moon.  And if major spending cuts are added, forget-ha-bou-it!  Unfortunately, adverse political forces always preclude the optimum solution.  But let’s strive for even 50% of that – for now.  4/27/17

  • ENOUGH ALEADY WITH THE “HUNDRED DAYS” APPRAISALS.  I understand that this time interval is a traditional benchmark for assessing the president’s progress and comparing him with his predecessors.  But it’s a self-promoting media artifice.  It’s too soon to evaluate the president.  The political dynamic is different today because of unprecedented polarization in government.  That problem has interfered with forging necessary consensus on bills and filling vacancies in Trump’s agencies, notwithstanding control of the Whitehouse and both chambers of Congress. But what really gets my goat is the mass mimicry in the media on both sides of the aisle as if an insufficiently accomplished Trump turns into a pumpkin this Saturday (a liberal’s dream). He is to be credited for his many executive orders so far, his muscle on the world stage, and installing Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.  But given such recalcitrance among Democrats, progress on the legislative front, including tax cuts, health care and financial deregulation, will take time.  I believe Trump can reconcile with conservative holdouts but I fear he will concede too much in the effort to get Democratic votes in Congress.  Rather, Trump should use his “pen and phone” till they wear out (but, unlike Obama, only within constitutional limits). Let’s defer the report card until the midterm elections.  In any case, he better build that f---in wall or there will be hell to pay all over America.  4/24/17

  • Response to reader regarding sexual harassment.  Regarding your penultimate comment: You say everyone chooses to ignore me because my views are “irrelevant”.  I certainly got your attention. And, you need a different adjective.  One might disagree with my comments but they are spot on pertinent to the topic. Besides, I bet hundreds read my posts and are cheering. You don't know otherwise. The reason they are not responding is because they understandably fear guilt by association that can cost them their jobs, clients, or friends. Political correctness is a powerful muzzling force that undermines our freedoms and very few have the courage to challenge it. My comments are not directed against women.  They are aimed at the underlying PC and fraud that have made sexual harassment a cottage industry.  I am just as vociferous about the man-made climate change hoax, as well as illegal aliens and the immigration issue.  4/23/17


  • Response to reader regarding sexual harassment.  Are the faux campus rapes with no right to legal defense for the charged wrong? Was the fabricated story about the University of Virginia rape reported to Rolling Stone magazine wrong? Was the phony Duke lacrosse case wrong? These cases are symptomatic of large scale fraud by gold diggers and their lawyers. It's all about what constitutes genuine abuse and my definition is very restrictive. Sexual harassment is a feminist weapon to advance their agenda. Liberals see almost anything as abuse if a woman makes an accusation. Conservatives have a much higher threshold.  4/23/17

  • Response to reader regarding sexual harassment.  Anyone with an IQ above room temperature knows that the left has practiced identity politics for years of which gender transgression is one example. The victimization ploy and the rest of the liberal agenda are not conspiracy theories; they’re obvious.  (Not that leftist cabals don’t exist all over the place.) Don’t be a dim witted PC dupe for the left. O’Reilly’s alleged behavior was not predacious.  The women at issue deserve no sympathy and certainly no compensation. See my many formal posts of late for elaboration, including my sexual harassment jokes. No political correctness here.  4/22/17.

  • MORE SEXUAL HARASSMENT NONSENSE ABOUT O’REILLY.  Last night MSNBC’s leftist Lawrence O’Donnell aired a follow up interview with the contemptible feminist lawyer, Lisa Bloom, who brought three “victims” with her.  The core issue here concerns what constitutes bona fide sexual harassment.  As such, the testimony of those broads shows how tenuous plaintiff claims can be.  A black women who O’Reilly allegedly referred to as “hot chocolate” mentioned the pain of revealing her experiences with him.  Christ! No one’s forcing her to appear on national television (except maybe Bloom for her own selfish ends).  Another woman complained about O’Reilly’s sexism in calling her “hysterical” during an encounter with her.  She also said she had significant difficulty getting media appearances after O’Reilly cut her off his show in which she had appeared weekly for several years. First, what did she expect when she pulled the gender card on her boss with all its implications?  Second, that’s the respect he gets for obviously making her career?  Without that exposure she’s apparently back to being a nobody. Bloom is adopting the “retaliation” defense for her, which shows how capricious the term sexual harassment is in relation to claims of “suffering”.  That’s the problem.  The law must be amended to avoid this abuse.  4/21/17

  • O’REILLY’S GONE. NOW LET’S SEE A BACKLASH.  The odious Lisa Bloom discussing Bill O’Reilly’s alleged improprieties with Marxist Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC revealed a nothingberger.  (Lisa Bloom is the daughter of the even more odious feminist, Gloria Allred.)  She ranted about the chronic “angst” of the alleged victims. In one case Bloom charged O’Reilly with wrongdoing for telling an out of control female employee she was “hysterical”, a universally sexist term according to her.  Also mentioned was O’Reilly asking a Fox contributor to his hotel suite after dinner while on the road. Now there’s a criminal act. My favorite but truly incredible claim concerns O’Reilly lasciviously saying aloud while passing a black woman’s desk, “Hmmm. Hot chocolate.” (That’s funny.  He should add, “Marshmallows available.”)  Bloom’s modus operandi is to trot out as many complainants as possible and link their fabricated or exaggerated stories to retaliation or sex discrimination to the point that Fox has to concede.  Unfortunately, it worked. Never mind the veracity of the claims.  Recall the outrageous stories of women drawn from the woodwork last year claiming abuse by Trump. The only justifiable charge would be legitimate assault but none is claimed.  In this case, Fox advertisers are the primary culprits.  They withdrew from O’Reilly’s show in droves fearing media boycotts.  The O’Reilly flap, like Roger Ailes’ouster before him, is part of an orchestrated effort of the left to destroy Fox News, a conservative bastion.  Of course, the flip side of the accusations is defamation, which O’Reilly should pursue to impoverish and humiliate the claimants, sending a message to other bonanza seekers.  Moreover, boycotts should be staged against the cowardly advertisers.  Remember the boycott by the gay Nazis against Chick-Filet.  It backfired resulting in a counter-boycott at the encouragement of Mike Huckabee that led to customers standing in line around the block in support of the stores.  Likewise, conservatives should organize a ban against offending companies, their products, and their advertising agencies. Support for right-wing media and contempt for the left are tacit but huge.  That sentiment has to be mobilized for the sake of the conservative movement or there will be more injustice sparked by politicized and monetized faux outrage.  4/20/17

  • Follow up.  As a practical matter, Spicer, or any non-Jew, should avoid publicly invoking Hitler or the Holocaust because of the inevitable backlash in the Jewish community which would respond indignantly regardless of what is said. In this case, Jewish leaders even lied about Spicer’s accurate comment (after his explanation) to garner sympathy.  As horrific the Holocaust was, Jews sensationalize it to their advantage even three generations later to have a monopoly on the issue in public discourse.  To acquiesce to this reality as you suggest is to reinforce that leverage and forever muzzle non-Jews regarding this topic.  Moreover, this accommodation ultimately extends to a general concession where Jews are immune from any criticism, such that violating that immunity invites retribution like that experienced by Ann Coulter, Arsenio Hall and untold others.  What’s more, this suppression plays into the hands of the political left which most Jews embrace.  As it is, the fear of offending Jews stifles free speech and keeps everyone else walking on egg shells and cowed in silence.  Certainly, the media contribute to this skittishness.  I say, fight this tyranny and tell the Jewish community and its lackeys, GIMME A BREAK.  To be sure, overplaying the Jewish hand fuels the fires of anti-Semitism.  4/14/17

  • SUPPORT SEAN SPICER.  I expand on yesterday’s post I headlined GIMME A BREAK.  Some Jewish leaders call for Spicer’s resignation saying he denied the Holocaust in a recent statement distinguishing Assad’s chemical attack from Hitler’s murders. WHAT? Spicer simply said that, unlike Assad, Hitler didn’t gas his victims in the open.  He did acknowledge that Hitler committed his atrocity in remote facilities, and needlessly apologized repeatedly and profusely about the paranoiac or feigned confusion that ensued.  The blatant lie by those Jewish leaders and others about Spicer’s comment calls into question the sincerity of their reaction.  In fact, it raises the specter of an ulterior motive, that is, a longstanding agenda implemented through hypersensitive Jewish umbrage about the Holocaust. The Jewish community seems to use it as leverage to create a certain homage to itself in the general population that results in massive accommodation.  (Witness media figures fall in line like puppies when featuring this issue.)  The powers that be punish deviation from that allegiance through their economic, political and media clout that operates through their ubiquitous puppets.  That force silenced Ann Coulter for a year and a half for her tweets about pandering to Jewish voters during the 2016 presidential campaign.  It destroyed Arsenio Hall’s career at the top of his game in the 1990s for booking Louis Farrakhan on his show. The examples abound. Everyone grovels so not to risk the opprobrium of all media that threaten jobs, advertisers, sales, and votes.  And one wonders why there’s anti-Semitism?  As I say, gimme a break!  Of course, the sensitivities of the Jewish community are understandable, to a point.  But to force that sentiment on everyone else with implications of retribution ensures a backlash, stealth as it is.  I daresay I speak for many millions who cower in silence.  This force has to be challenged. And Trump must not cave on Spencer’s predicament.  4/13/17

  • Follow up. Certainly this media response is part of the anti-Trump smear campaign. Reporters and Democrats would have feigned the same outrage if Spicer cited the Eskimos of the Aleutian Islands.

  • GIMME A BREAK.  Sean Spicer is getting heat for innocently distinguishing Assad’s chemical attacks on his people from Hitler’s genocide, despite falling over himself to emphasize he was not diminishing the horror of the Holocaust.  The media writ large, fearful of the powers that be in the Jewish community, won’t let go.  Indeed, they earn points for this nonsense.  This is the kind of crap that stokes anti-Semitism.  Nothing is allowed to be compared with the atrocities the Jews suffered at the hands of Hitler, even 75 years later.  Do the tens of millions of victims of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot count?  Political correctness be damned. 4/12/17

  • Follow up.  Plane operations involving hundreds? of people in respect of the flight out Louisville supersedes customer accommodation for a few, or one. Flight attendants were needed to avoid cancelling that flight serving hundreds of paying customers. If the doctor refuses all accommodation offers, then what? He has to be forcibly removed and suffer the physical consequences of his resistance.

  • MAN REMOVED FROM PLANE WAS WRONG.  The Vietnamese doctor forcibly removed from a United Continental Airways flight from Chicago to Louisville got what he deserved.  He was subject to the rules of the airline and the industry, notwithstanding the deliberate overbooking policy. It’s a law and order issue.  Three others left voluntarily without incident.  But this guy screamed and thrashed like an infant when physically manhandled only after repeated attempts to get him to comply.  His injury was of his own doing.  Not mentioned in reports is the fact that he was dragged down the aisle because he was unconscious. That was wholly appropriate. Not removing him would have resulted in cancelling a flight out of Louisville at significant cost and inconvenience to many.  I wonder how many patients he’ll lose because of his outrageous behavior. Or perhaps sympathy will take precedence.  It shouldn’t.  In 2004 he was convicted of dispensing fraudulent pain killer prescriptions in Kentucky, now the opioid capital of the nation thanks to creeps like him.  The guy’s a slime ball.  4/12/17

  • ANOTHER SEXUAL HARASSMENT JOKE.  Further to Bill O’Reilly’s plight at Fox News, with impetus from the spirit of comedian Don Rickles who just died, I offer yet another joke about the absurdity of sexual harassment lawsuits.  Mockery is one way of fighting the left and this feminist weapon deserves that treatment.  Here goes.  Sally works in the accounting department at Deep Pockets Corporation.  But she moonlights at a local strip club.  She swings from a pole until 3 am with dollar bills protruding from every orifice (customer tips).  Then she goes home and bangs four guys before breakfast.  She manages to roll into the office at 10:30 whereupon her boss, Ed, overlooking her lateness, says with a smile, “You look nice today.”  Sally snaps indignantly, “How dare you reduce me to an object of your prurient interest.  I’m deeply hurt.”  She proceeded to file a $7 million sexual harassment lawsuit ------ and WON!  Now she owns the strip joint.  http://www.williamjdodwell.com/  4/10/17

  • Response to reader regarding sexual harassment.  I said in previous comments about this that I acknowledge exceptions for rape and genuine assault. But other claims are suspect. I am focusing on the many fraudulent cases that extort millions of dollars. We hear enough about the other side, much of which is contrived by the left. My joking is to belittle that element. I WILL NOT BE POLITICALLY CORRECT!  4/7/17

  • SEXUAL HARASSMENT – WHAT A JOKE.  In the spirit of comedian Don Rickles who died yesterday at 90, and in the context of the Bill O’Reilly flap, I offer some gems I thought of this morning.  1) Here’s a belated St. Patrick’s Day bit.  The greatest horn dogs out there are conservatives and Irishmen.  Put them together and it’s Katie bar the door. Congress should recognize this natural reality by adding an exemption to the sexual harassment laws and give O’Reilly a break.  2) A woman in settlement talks over her sexual harassment claim told the defendant, “Throw in another million and I’ll let you f—k me.”  Then her female lawyer said, “Make that two million.”  3) A woman who hasn’t been touched in a year turns to her female office colleague and asks, “How can I get Harvey here to sexually harass me?  She responds, “Tell him you’ll file a sexual harassment claim against the company and you’ll share the settlement money with him.” Somewhere Rickles is smiling.  4/7/17

  • REPEAL SEXUAL HARASSMENT LAWS.  Amid the brouhaha concerning the alleged escapades of Bill O’Reilly at Fox News, it is appropriate to bring to light the injustice of sexual harassment laws.  The problem is the overly expansive interpretations, the potential for extortion that enriches lawyers and claimants, and indeed the law itself.  Short of rape or outright assault, these laws should not exist. An innocent touch, a raised voice, a salacious remark, a disingenuous charge of retaliation, and utter lies should not yield multimillion-dollar settlements, and the humiliation and ruined reputations that lie in their wake. What’s more, defendants who go to court face an increasingly corrupted politicized judiciary.  Women who can’t stand the heat should get out of the kitchen (or get back in the kitchen of yore). Sexual harassment has become a cottage industry aimed at criminalizing for profit the slightest infraction in relationships between men and women.  The media have exploited the law to conjure such fantasies as massive date rape in colleges, a rape epidemic in the military, and untold transgressions in corporate America.  Indeed, this injustice is a tool of the feminist left that must be neutralized. Regarding allegations in the office, a serious deterrent is needed.  Industry should pool resources to ensure claimants never work again.  Women who sue better win big or face possible penury. In addition, employers should vilify plaintiff lawyers.  Name ‘em, shame ‘em and maim ‘em (figuratively).  Also, cut back on female hiring being careful not to invite discrimination suits. Consider it a risk management measure. Women should know that if they choose to play hardball, they better be prepared for devastation.  But most importantly, these laws must be repealed.  The same tactics apply to bogus discrimination suits.  4/6/17

  • SEXUAL HARASSMENT AT FOX.  The front page of Sunday’s New York Times exposed Bill O’Reilly’s supposed peccadillos regarding some female colleagues who filed copycat lawsuits to cash in.  (Would the newspaper do this to Brian Williams, Chris Matthews, et al?)  All O’Reilly did, perhaps crudely, was pursue some women only to be rebuffed.  In a separate case some years ago he yelled at a young production assistant in front of others.  So what?  Today, many women are crasser in the office.  Women want equality? Then man up, ladies.  If the fair sex is so fragile (vive la difference), perhaps it should be subordinated in business.  Legalities aside, why should O’Reilly and Fox pay millions of dollars in settlements that could go toward some good right-wing stories and O’Reilly’s many charities?  The template is simple.  File a dubious sexual harassment claim predicated on a contract not renewed, a promotion denied, or other unfavorable outcome.  But the message to men might be:  Don’t hire women; they’re not worth the trouble.  Or, how about repealing the sexual harassment laws?  Then let the good times roll with impunity for men and women.  Now that’s equality.  These laws are written to encourage extortion that enriches complainants and their lawyers while adding a quiver to the feminist arsenal.  Absent the monetary opportunity, liberated women might agree to my proposal for gender parity.  As for the dissenters, both men and women, they can find other jobs.  Problem is, the lawyers would never allow such an intrusion on their wallets.  4/4/17

  • Response to reader regarding The Bell Curve. I believe Murray's findings. He's an eminent social scientist out of MIT and Harvard, not some quack. Of course, the left tries to discredit his work, and even paints him as a racist, for the reasons I mention. And, as I said, his conclusion is self-evident. I don't know Rushton, but he's discredited as a racist for the same reason. That's the left's default position. It can't rebut Murray's study. It's most inconvenient to liberals. It's a major threat to them. Hence, their dismissal.  4/3/17

  • Follow up regarding The Bell Curve.  People in general differ in all kinds of respects: intelligence, work ethic, personality, etc. Differences also exist among races: Asians are more intelligent; blacks have superior physiology manifest in their athletic prowess, and so on. God created all equal with regard to human rights, not attributes.  4/5/17

  • CAMPUS ERUPTIONS OVER CHARLES MURRAY EXPOSE A RAW NERVE OF THE LEFT.  Simply put, as a class, Asians are smarter than whites (except for Ashkenazi Jews), and whites are smarter than blacks.  Esteemed social scientist Charles Murray established this in his 1994 book, “The Bell Curve”, in which he asserted that intelligence is the principal determinant of socio-economic outcome.  Besides, anyone who has not lived under a rock knows Murray’s thesis is self-evident.  Even liberals know it but vehemently denounce those who dare to mention this reality because it belies the very premise of liberalism – that everyone is equal.  Conceding the veracity of Murray’s work raises the specter of the meritocratic model, the very antithesis of liberalism, and the hallmark of conservatism.  What’s more, liberals who would acknowledge Murray’s findings forsake the political power they derive from exploiting the black underclass through trillions of dollars of government social programs rendered unjustifiable in the face of genetic actuality.  Indeed, Murray’s conclusions about IQ call into question the purpose of remedial programs for the downtrodden that enrich so many ministerial   liberals who skim their share off the top.  Hence, the eruptions of late on college campuses where Murray was invited to speak.  Of course, the indoctrinated students protesting are too naive to be taken seriously, but some of the professors must know the score. However, they have to pretend otherwise or their employers will lose government grants and other funding and, in turn, professors will lose their jobs.  It’s such a charade.  So much for academia as the laboratory of truth.  4/3/17


  • Response to reader’s comment.  Take it from a pianist, Billy Joel, although talented, is not much of a pianist as he just pounds.  He concedes that his brother who plays classical piano is the real musician in the family. The only songs of his I like and play are “New York State Of Mind” and “Just The Way You Are”.  Elton John seems to be a more genuine pianist but I can’t tell from his music, none of which I like.  Fact is, early on he played piano in bars.  That was the inspiration for his “Piano Man” classic. Regarding rock stars, I always ask, Are they real musicians, or just rock stars?  My test is the ability to creditably perform classic standards, a la Gershwin, Porter, and Rodgers, et al.  Surprisingly many rock “artists” do.  Actually, I prefer to listen to Billy Joel and Elton John interviews rather than to their music.  They’re both interesting chaps.  But their music definitely does not conform to the Comprehensive Conservative standard.  I’ve written about this topic.  See my December 27, 2012 commentary entitled, ‘Lamenting the Demise of Traditional Popular Music” in my website archives under Culture at http://www.williamjdodwell.com/archives 4/2/17

  • Follow up regarding genius IQ.  According to one IQ Rarity scale, one out of 161 people globally have an IQ of 140 or higher, which is the 99.6 percentile.  The definition of genius is elusive but it has to be more distinctive than that.  A 160 IQ translates to one in 11,307.  180 equates to one in about 3.5 million.  Interpolating the figures, only two people in the world have an IQ 200 or higher.  4/1/17

     

                                                                                                                                              ©2017 William J. Dodwell

 

Miscellaneous Thoughts Posted to Linked In Between July and September 2017

  • TRUMP SHOULD GET RID OF GARY COHN.  This liberal stalwart from Goldman Sachs should never have been hired as chief economic adviser, or for any other position in the Trump administration.  Reportedly, his sensitivities were rattled by Trump’s statements about Charlottesville because he believes he did not sufficiently denounce hate groups.  This prompted him to publicly criticize Trump and to prepare a tentative resignation letter.  (Go home, you cry baby!) It turns out that Trump’s reference to bad behavior on “both sides” (Cohn’s beef) was accurate after all, as Antifa violence before and since has been exposed and even criticized by Nancy Pelosi.  The American people don’t want a top official’s personal sensitivities to interfere with running their government.  (No, they don’t share Cohn’s feelings about hate.)  Today, it’s reported that Fed governor, Stanley Fischer, is unexpectedly resigning for “personal reasons”.  Might he too be offended by Trump’s Charlottesville remarks?  If so, good riddance.  Or, maybe he’s leaving because he was passed over for the Fed Chairmanship.  Speaking of which, we now hear that Trump’s umbrage about Cohn’s disloyalty might have caused the president to remove him from consideration for Federal Reserve Chairman next year.  That’s good.  Trump has plenty of good choices.  Consider Steve Forbes, John Taylor and David Malpass - all great monetarists who favor normalizing interest rates more aggressively.  In any case, Trump has got to send Yellen out to pasture when her term expires next February.  9/7/17
  • LET TRUMP BE TRUMP.  Trump was in fine form in Arizona the other day kicking ass and taking down names.  Liberal media now highlight his anomalous behavior to question his fitness for the presidency, as if it’s something new to be concerned about.  He has been this way since he began running.  It’s his style and it got him elected.  Trump’s attacks on the media and his rejection of many protocols help to break the mold that has entrenched the Washington establishment for too long.  His behavior is an agent for necessary change.  By now we know Trump will never act presidential.  So what?  Besides, as long as the media continue to propagandize and personally malign him in a relentless effort to remove him from office, Trump, and any president, is wholly justified in reciprocating in kind. Corrupt mass media are determined not to cover the issues honestly or concede any credit for the president regardless.  Therefore, he should amp it up in sync with increasingly malicious media attacks against him.  Trump must name ‘em and shame ‘em by EXPOSING specific media scoundrels, as well as individual Democrats in Congress, to inform the public and to hold them accountable.  This means frequently citing chapter and verse regarding their comments and positions.  Some fearful Democrats may very well flip his way.  Trump should capitalize on the bully pulpit through many more rallies and other public pronouncements in the course of selling his agenda.  Criticizing Republicans in the House and Senate is problematic because he cannot spare votes in passing his bills, given complete opposition among Democrats. The solution there is to develop a deep, deep bench of conservatives to wage constant primary challenges.  But this strategy will take years to employ.  These are truly times that call for hard ball, and Trump must not relent. The media and the rest of the left surely will not.  8/24/17
  • CAN’T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG?  NOT REALLY.  Amid the Pollyannish calls for racial unity in the aftermath of Charlottesville, and the demand to erase parts of American history as a solution, I pose this question:  Do you think this guy is ready to play patty cake?  https://www.teaparty.org/final-warning-white-people-goes-viral-twitter-charlottesville-rally-258912/  He is symptomatic of irreconcilable pervasive pathologies and racism in the black community today produced by decades of liberal social policies that seriously limit racial relations.  The left always presents race in terms of the glass half-full.  So, for perspective, I portray the glass-half empty because truth is a function of both.  Despite the efforts of the left, Americans don’t obsess about race relations.  Racial interaction will be based on individual behavior, achievement and production in a meritocratic society that provides for the truly needy.  Those that violate behavioral norms will be rightfully shunned.  Those who do comply can hope for some semblance of one big happy family of all races, limited by economic differences and culture clash.  The pathological nonconformists always will ensure certain racial division, especially as government accommodates them.  Unfortunately, media race-bating has created a considerable brainwashed and intimidated populace that sadly postures concurrence while suppressing what it really thinks. Liberals and cowardly Republicans deride calls for secure borders, sovereignty and expressions of legitimate threats to traditional principles as “It’s not who we are.” The guy in the video is not who we are.  Thugs and miscreants who have taken over inner cities are not who we are.  Corrupt governments that refuse to enforce immigration law, permit criminals to maraud with impunity, and surreptitiously redistribute taxpayer income to poor communities, are not who we are.  A nation in which upholding the precepts of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution is considered extremist, is not who we are.  A good percentage of Americans recognizes this and will never accept the left’s melting pot.  I’m just keepin’ it real.  8/21/17

  • THE CHARLOTTESVILLE HATE BANDWAGON ROLLS ON.  More and more pundits, politicians and CEOs join the faux outrage and pandering over the racial hate artifice created by the left and sustained by all media. The latest charade is Apple CEO, Tim Cook, donating to groups fighting hate.  What a phony!  The fact is the people, other than minorities who stand to gain from concessions, don’t care a whit about the racial ploy.  And the media don’t care about them. Privately, Americans see nothing there.  They want Congress to pass Trump’s agenda to finally stimulate the economy. But, unfortunately, many feel they have to pretend to care in today’s fascist environment.  The left depends on this intimidation. President Trump’s opinion about the Charlottesville riot, the catalyst for the contrived media brouhaha, is clearly innocuous in substance.  But the media disingenuously lever the race card to the hilt in promotion of the left’s Marxist masterplan.  The script calls for national healing but the country isn’t riven.  Tell that to the tired old fool, Tom Brokaw.  Now local officials demand historical statues to be dismantled on the basis of misconstrued racist implications, even one in Chicago of George Washington because he owned slaves, a common practice in his time.  Once again, Trump bravely expressed his disagreement.  What’s next, reparations?  The left is bent on eradicating and rewriting American history and identity. This truly nefarious force embodied in media, government, academia, unions, the plaintiffs’ bar, and grass roots liberal activist groups must be blocked.  But where’s the resistance?  Conservatives are so spooked by the statue controversy they won’t even support one of their own in the Alabama primary to replace Jeff Sessions' senate seat - Judge Roy Moore of ten commandments monument fame.  For my part, I’ll use a blunt stick on the enemy.  I’ll defer to the faint-of-heart right-wingers to finesse the message.  8/18/17 
  • THE HATE CARD.  In the wake of the Charlottesville incident the media air vigils denouncing the hate expressed by some of the demonstrators.  But the main catalyst is the hate dishonestly, or stupidly, inferred from President Trump’s explanation of his thoughts about the riot.  Ironically, the media distort his sentiment to rally hatred against him in the hope of damaging his presidency.  Of course, Trump clearly denounced hatred, but that expressed by both the protesters and counter-protesters.  However, that opinion doesn’t satisfy the scurrilous media.  Liberals aim to target only white conservatives, even the innocent ones.  The left exerts every effort to convince the public that Trump is Hitler resurrected.  But truth be told, few really care about the media’s hate charade.  Why the outrage? There’s plenty of precedent for these demonstrations.  Recall the Nazi march through the largely Jewish community of Skokie, IL 40 years ago, upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Nonetheless, many pretend offense to avoid being called racist, including business CEOs who fear reprisals from advertisers, some customers, and a few employees.  Everyone’s covering their ass.  As mentioned, the left applies the hate card only to white people.  Nothing is said about the vitriol spewed by Antifa, Black Lives Matter and similar groups.  Nor does media speak of guys like this: https://www.teaparty.org/final-warning-white-people-goes-viral-twitter-charlottesville-rally-258912/ .  That’s out of bounds because whites created this monster.  Yeah, white liberals.  Media show Charlottesville residents mourning the tragic death of Heather Heyer committed by a deranged white protester.  But where was the equivalent media sympathy following the brutal murders of Kate Steinle and so many others at the hands of animalistic illegal aliens?  Or for the cops wantonly ambushed by blacks at a gas station or while sitting in squad cars? Collective hate trumps individual hate? Conservatives should hate the far left as much as it hates them, and capitalize on the motivation it engenders to defeat liberalism and reverse its scourge.  8/17/17      

  • PRESIDENT TRUMP IS ABSOLUTELY RIGHT ABOUT CHARLOTTESVILLE.  In the words of the late conservative talk radio host, Bob Grant, “Somebody has to say these things. It might as well be me.”  In this spirit I further speak to the Charlottesville debacle in terms no one dares to discuss.  President Trump is the most courageous public official in politics for sticking to his guns in his characterization of events in the face of tremendous vilification by all media, and even his own party. He is also absolutely right in his assessment.  The violence erupted from both sides while purportedly some of the perpetrators were paid operatives of the left. What’s more, witnesses report that law enforcement accommodated the counter-protesters, no doubt at the behest of the leftist mayor and the sleazy liberal governor.  Yet, the media, in abject abdication of their responsibility, ascribe all the bad elements to conservatives, the president and the Republican Party with no attribution to the militant left Antifa and its backers.  The Wall Street Journal of 8/15/17 even cited Trump’s party affiliation on the front page in reporting about his initial statement so as to italicize blame.  It said, “The GOP president’s decision Saturday not to single out neo-Nazis or white nationalists …”.  Who are these white nationalists?  Many, or most, are non-violent advocates for secure borders, sovereignty, the Constitution, and traditional values in opposition to government encroachment to the contrary. As Trump said, “They’re good people”.  Everyone denounces the violence, but media ignore that of the counter-protesters who triggered it. As to the so-called white supremacists, they’re calling for racial preservation in the face of concerted forces on the left aimed at re-writing or eradicating the nation’s history and at transforming the demographics of America, ultimately to create an electorate that will support their big government agenda.  For decades the left has used the monolithic voting block of blacks towards that end, as well as to justify trillions of dollars of government expenditures, some of which devolves to liberal institutions and individuals who perpetuate the Marxist juggernaut. Importing immigrants to expand a largely government dependent population would increase to the point of ensuring permanent leftist control.  And, of course, there’s the matter of preserving our language, culture and safety from millions of permanently unassimilated invaders. In time, the browning of America through mass immigration from impoverished areas and associated interbreeding, coupled with domestic interracial propagation now promoted in the media will, on balance, render it a third world nation, notwithstanding the introduction of many good elements into the gene pool.  Hitlarian? Racist? It’s scientific fact.  The left is well on its way to realizing this scenario and it calls for staunch non-violent resistance through vociferous opposition.  Liberals always ascribe hate as a means of deflecting opposition.  But one has a right to hate in the absence of violence, and it is often justified. May the Jews hate Hitler?  By loose extension, when I consider how the liberal operatives of teachers’ unions have deliberately destroyed education by dumbing down curricula and suppressing or distorting the nation’s history, I hate them.  When I see how college administrators beholden to Marxist abettors have converted campuses into leftist propaganda camps antithetical to the principles of our founding, I hate them.  When I contemplate the purveyors of poisonous political correctness that pervades government, academia, media and even corporate America, I hate them.  When I ponder elected officials who refuse to enforce immigration laws to allow murderous illegal aliens to terrorize communities, I hate them.  The left invokes David Duke as a universal symbol of hate.  In fact, he just celebrates the origins of this country founded on white achievement and Christian values which now are under siege by our institutions.  He has long since renounced his KKK background, as did Democratic champion Senator Robert Byrd.  To draw from the 1970s movie, “Network”, many Americans are mad as hell and aren’t going to take it anymore.  And the hate isn’t just among whites.  Consider this video at https://www.teaparty.org/final-warning-white-people-goes-viral-twitter-charlottesville-rally-258912/   It increasingly reflects the sentiment among blacks that contributed to the violence in Charlottesville.  This behavior is the result of decades of liberal accommodation that has condemned so many blacks.  As the miscreant in the video said, today’s black is not the black of 1923.  Indeed.  The black community should reject the exploitive left and embrace the likes of Allen West, Larry Elder, and Alan Keyes, for whom I voted in the 2000 Republican presidential primary.  8/16/17

  • LET’S GET REAL ABOUT CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA.  In the wake of the explosive incident in Virginia last weekend a litany of kumbaya platitudes is heard in a massive groupthink urging unity in the face of bogus racial division.  The clichés include:  “It’s not who we are.”  “We’re a nation of immigrants.” “We’re not a racist nation.”  “Can’t we all get along?”  At the same time, we hear leftist buzzwords:  “White nationalist” (used ad nauseum), “White supremacist”, and “nativist”. As such, media have cast the tragic outcome in a racial light to lend credence to their pluralist and globalist worldview as the alternative solution to social harmony.  The left blames the conservative protesters and extrapolates their transgressions to conservatives in general, while seemingly excusing the role of the liberal counter-protesters.  And the conservatives are too frightened to challenge the message; in fact, they even abet it.  The event started as a legitimate rally in opposition to government intrusion, particularly in respect of the removal of a statue memorializing a Confederate civil war hero, Robert E. Lee.  The display of a lone Nazi flag, the presence of a few Klansmen, and the psycho who drove his car into the crowd were extraneous, and the group at large probably disavowed them.  But the rally transformed into a melee when leftist counter-protesters started throwing punches.  Some suspect the police chose not to engage the crowd to ensure a racially inspired spectacle would ensue to the benefit of the left and its media.  Did leftist Governor McAuliffe issue a stand-down order?  Once the fuse was lit on essentially an expression of conservative values, it set the stage for promoting the media-contrived narrative that the political right is racist and fosters national racial division. Commentators across the political spectrum equate a gathering of white populists and traditionalists to an ascendant white supremacist movement.  The perverse logic proceeds as follows:  White southerners celebrate the Confederacy.  They therefore embrace slavery and racism.  They support President Trump who therefore must be racist.  Media are so bent on portraying the event in this light that they obsessively demand that Trump explicitly denounce the protesters as white supremacist terrorists.  To his credit, the president is not taking the bait (so far).  To do so would play right into the hand of the left which characterizes the legitimate conservative protesters as social outcasts and ignores the liberal counter-protesters who triggered the fracas.  8/14/17      


  • THE BIRTHER ISSUE LIVES. What with Obama out of office, the suggestion that he was not born in America and therefore was ineligible to be president is still verboten – even by conservatives.  The reason is that raising the question effectively delegitimizes his presidency, a patently racist deed, according to the left.  Those who suspect or believe Obama is foreign-born are deathly afraid to entertain the thought publicly for fear of being labeled a racist – even conservatives.  In fact, this prohibition operates at the institutional level too.  Conservative organizations and media are particularly loathe to broach the topic because they fear the question brands their very ideology as racist, playing right into the age-old liberal stereotype.  This cowardice was illustrated last night on Fox’s “The Five” when Greg Gutfeld jokingly (but seriously) invoked Kenya as Obama’s birthplace.  His fellow panelists, including three conservatives, frantically dismissed his comment like a political third rail.  Gutfeld has done this on the show before to the same reaction. (He could be flirting with termination.)  Credit him for his devotion to truth.  Even Ann Coulter won’t touch this issue, except to denigrate any challenge to the charade.  Abundant evidence supports Obama’s Kenyan origin, or at least seriously calls into question his claimed Hawaiian birth, even allowing for some possible document fabrications.  The issue should be independently investigated and settled for the record, starting with Obama’s allegedly fraudulent long-form birth certificate.  Why does it matter?  Because flouting the constitution can lead to repetition, not only in regard to this issue, but more serious ones too that eventually threaten our basic freedoms. Bad precedent greases the slippery slope to tyranny. Giving a pass to Obama, and Hillary Clinton regarding her emails and foundation, both with cover from corrupt media, is reprehensible.  Acquiescence could give serious impetus to an increasingly corrupt government in a death knell to the republic.  8/11/17    

  • GOOGLE AND GENDER OCCUPATIONAL ASSIGNMENT BIAS.  As a champion of political incorrectness, I have to weigh in on the latest flap involving Google and its firing of an employee who dared to violate PC protocol.  Regarding the company’s initiative to diversify its workforce, he stated the empirically obvious that women are not as suited to engage in computer science and technology. Recall that economist Lawrence Summers was forced to resign as president of Harvard in 2006 supposedly for the same suggestion about women and mathematics.  Of course, as in academia, politics trumps truth in corporate America today.  Companies cave to PC out of fear of reprisals against their organizations and products by the media, who influence the buying decisions of advertisers and customers.  But let’s talk truth.  Indeed, the vast majority of those who elect to study the disciplines in question are men. Since men and women are clearly different physically and emotionally, why is it unreasonable to admit that they are intellectually different as well?  Put another way, since men dominate all fields, even those ascribed to women such as fashion and cooking, is it unreasonable to deduce that men are more suitable for technology too? Google objected to the employee’s invocation of a gender stereotype.  Well, most stereotypes exist because they contain considerable truth.  In 1988 oddsmaker Jimmy the Greek was fired by CBS and excoriated in the media for citing the obvious fact that blacks have superior physiology and athleticism.  Of course, stereotype exceptions apply.  I recall a woman in a graduate school math class who amazed her classmates with her facility for immediately grasping complex concepts.  The professor had to tell her to stop raising her hand so he could challenge the others.  Stereotype exceptions also apply in the inverse.  For example, as an adolescent I didn’t embrace the right of passage for typical teenage males, that is, automotive mechanics. Rather than getting under the hood and dirtying my hands, I played the piano.  Yet, this former chick magnet, and now just a geriatric horndog, is a model of virility.  Nonetheless, gender occupational assignment derives from a scientific and experiential basis and should be recognized as such with consideration for notable exceptions. To do otherwise will compromise the quality of the workforce.  8/10/17
  • ALERT!  My much anticipated white paper on financial regulatory reform and the dismantling of the Dodd-Frank Act will be published soon. I urge my financial fans who are waiting with bated breath to be patient.  I know, a whole year between financial treatises is difficult to endure, but I’ve been preoccupied with other projects. Please sit tight. 8/4/17

  • FIGHT PC - OFFEND A LIBERAL DAILY.  Have you offended a liberal today?  C’mon, it doesn’t take much.  Irk one with a politically incorrect comment right to their face. Embellish it with an indignant or mocking tone, along with a disgusted expression. Watch them squirm, sweat and slink away.  Embarrass them into silence.  Eventually, this pushback will give them pause about vocalizing their PC, just as the left has muzzled the general population with it for so long.  Most liberals are really simpletons and cowards. We must turn the tables. We’re seeing some progress.  The “L” word has become an epithet that has morphed into “progressive”.  And it appears some now are somewhat sheepish about calling one a racist.  This is because the charge has become a mindless groupthink response that makes the accuser appear stupid.  Bill O’Reilly said some time ago that if someone calls you a racist, say nothing, walk away, and NEVER talk to that person again.  My tack for any charge of bigotry would be to laugh out loud for ten seconds and reply with a dismissive, insouciant smile, "Whatever you say."  Take away the liberal’s shield that is the race, gender, anti-Semitic and gay cards.  Genuine discrimination is one thing.  A trumped up political bludgeon or a paranoid grievance is another.  Fight the leftist scoundrels – every day.  8/3/17
  • A WORD ABOUT SCARAMUCCI.  When Anthony Scaramucci was named Trump’s Communications Director replacing Sean Spicer I anticipated a kick-ass operative who would be more effective in advancing the president’s agenda.  But in the New Yorker interview we saw another dimension of that personality as he spewed vulgarities about his colleagues in the Whitehouse, albeit supposedly unintended for the record.  The inclination to speak like that in any circumstance betrays an emotional weakness unbefitting of his position, especially when he goes beyond curse words to salacious metaphors.  Perhaps this guy, who looks like he’s 17 and turns out to act like he’s 12, has a Napoleon complex.  Occasional well-placed profanity of a certain sort can create emphasis, a form of interjection, if you will, with the impact of onomatopoeia.  But even that selective use is an affront to the language.  Indeed, regular indulgence, which was his reputation, is unacceptable in professional circles.  To be fair, Trump was given to this childish trait too, but presumably he has retired it since becoming president.  Scaramucci’s propensity for profanity fostered a certain lack of gravitas which also applied to Reince Priebus in a different way.  Sometimes Priebus seemed like Michael Dukakis in the notorious video of him in the military tank during his 1988 presidential campaign.  But new Chief of Staff, John Kelly, is quite different.  His manly and seasoned visage and authoritative decorum are redolent of Reagan staff chiefs, Don Regan and Jim Baker.  Kelly commands the respect needed by one in his position that can serve Trump well in a truly kick-ass way.  Even Scaramucci, who bragged that he reported directly to the president, said he was willing to report to Kelly.  I think Kelly will stabilize the Whitehouse and better move Trump’s agenda, as long as Jared and Ivanka, and the President for that matter, don’t get in the way.  Recall that Nancy Reagan was tough-guy Don Regan’s downfall.  8/2/1

  • MORE CONSERVATIVE MUSIC.  Taking a respite from the hurly burly world of politics, I present another two of my piano solos for the cultural conservatives out there.  Here the Comprehensive Conservative steps out of character a bit with a robust rendition of Barry White’s 1970s hit, “Love’s Theme”, at https://youtu.be/VTE1H3QLo5E, which I recorded in 1991.  The other selection is a red hot arrangement of a Duke Ellington jazz standard, “In A Mellow Tone”, at https://youtu.be/dDUlUi0Fxlw, which I also played in 1991.  Regarding the latter, stick with it as I progress from the elemental to the complex.  I start cooking at about the :50 mark and build from there.  I re-discovered both recordings recently in the course of digitizing hundreds of my piano tape recordings of the early 1990s for CD and YouTube.  Please excuse the audio quality as that conversion process is imperfect. (I would appreciate advice on how best to do this.)  For more of my piano solos, including some originally digitized recordings of the last few years, see my YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrgNxZBhgoNNZ6nmb7SAKxA  .  8/1/17

  • IN DEFENSE OF AG JEFF SESSIONS.  I recently posted comments denouncing Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from the Russian collusion probe and for upholding asset forfeitures by law enforcement.  However, I also decry President Trump’s public denunciations of his attorney general as they can undermine his agenda by diminishing relations with other agency heads, as well as with Republicans in Congress.  In addition, this behavior can hurt recruitment, including that of replacements for resigning cabinet members soured by his style.  Sessions, a great conservative stalwart, must have tremendous difficulty functioning in the circumstance.  This is especially so if he believes Trump is trying to force his resignation so a replacement can fire Special Counsel, Mueller, who arose out of Sessions’ recusal. Will Sessions resist resigning out of spite for Trump and effectively (or deliberately) accommodate Mueller’s investigation? Nonetheless, Trump’s tongue lashings have apparently motivated Sessions to start investigating the leaks. If they also induce him to re-prosecute Hillary for both the email controversy and her improprieties with Clinton Foundation (which Trump previously dismissed), some good will have come of this. But it is increasingly apparent that Trump wants a path to oust Mueller.  That means Sessions will be gone, one way or the other.  And the suspect Deputy AG Rosenstein who appointed Mueller should go with him. 7/27/17

  • SHAME ON AG JEFF SESSIONS:  COUNT 2.  Senator Jeff Sessions, who rightfully argued so steadfastly for serious measures against illegal aliens, has been tainted of late on two counts:  1) Recusing himself from the Russian collusion probe. (See my previous comment); and (2) Upholding asset forfeitures by law enforcement.  Here I address the latter.  Routinely, local police permanently confiscate property of suspects in the conduct of criminal acts, including their cars and homes.  Oftentimes, the sale proceeds are used for police bonuses and raises.  While this might be justified in the case of convicted criminals, in many instances this policy is wrought upon those not convicted, and even not charged.  This is pure theft!  What’s more, Sessions’ federal edict overrides laws in several states prohibiting the practice.  Sessions talks about standing firm against the undue enrichment of criminals but doesn’t seem to mention the many innocent victims of this outrage.  The Supreme Court has broached asset forfeiture more than once, demonstrating considerable disposition against the practice. But it must definitively decide on the issue in the hope of ending widespread abuse.  Shame on Jeff Sessions.  7/26/17

  • SHAME ON AG JEFF SESSIONS:  COUNT 1.  For some years I have sung the praises of Senator Jeff Sessions for his courageous and adamant stance on restricting immigration.  His call for strict action against illegal aliens coming across the southern border, for the prosecution of criminal aliens, as well as for deportation, distinguished him more than anyone in Congress (possibly excepting former Congressman Tom Tancredo’s short lived but less effectual efforts several years ago.)  But Sessions’ star has faded of late.  He should not have recused himself from matters concerning alleged collusion with Russians to affect the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.  His brief and few casual contacts with them while Senator were absolutely innocuous.  As reported, a number of Democrats in Congress, including Nancy Pelosi and Claire McCaskill, had substantive contacts with the Ruskies. Sessions explained himself well in the Congressional hearings.  He should have stuck to that eminently reasonable defense. Unfortunately, his recusal set the stage for Special Counsel Mueller’s politicized witch hunt now underway.  Upon recusal, I predicted that Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein would cave to media pressure and appoint a Special Counsel, which he did in days.  The advice the Chief Ethics Officer gave Sessions recommending his recusal is quite suspect given the sheer innocence of his Russian exchanges.  His encounters do not meet a reasonable threshold for even the appearance of collusion as critics claim.  If they do, Pelosi and McCaskill should be investigated too.  Now with damage done, there is no telling how far this charade might go, not to mention the distraction it is to policymaking.  President Trump is understandably incensed.  Shame on Jeff Sessions.  7/26/17

  • EVALUATING A FEW ON-AIR NEWS PERSONALITIES.  Brit Hume:  A clear-thinking and acutely insightful conservative analyst.  He is truly the dean of the industry.  Charles Krauthammer:  A profound, expansive thinker and articulate spokesman always worth hearing. But he is not a dyed-in-the wool conservative as he sometimes lets his heart overrule his head.  Geraldo Rivera:  As I said in a recent post, he exudes narcissism from every pore.  When will this ubiquitous drama queen finally surrender the stage?  If Fox keeps him to play the diversity game, it should put a different gay guy on the air.  Sean Hannity:  A true-blue conservative but he is hard to take oftentimes.  He is repetitive, especially with his litanies.  He interrupts guests unlike any other in news, and he frequently displays off-putting immaturity.  He is extremely thin-skinned, reacting to criticism that isn’t there. (Ask Newt Gingrich.)  He would never, ever say anything negative about President Trump.  So much for his claim to be fair and balanced.  Lou Dobbs:  A genuine conservative but he is misguided about monetary policy.  He too would never dare to criticize Trump.  Now the ladies.  Jeanine Pirro is the hottest chick in cable news. I can’t concentrate on all her commentary because she gets me so excited.  Twenty years ago I felt this way about Maria Bartiromo.  While the bloom is long off that rose, Pirro, who is much older, still looks pre-menopausal.  What’s she eating?  Kimberly Guilfoyle:  She has one of the better racks on the air.  If she hikes her skirt another inch, I’ll call a cop.  (And I’ll go with him.)  Jessica Tarlov:  She has an unprofessional scratchy voice and used to have a sour expression that seemed to say, “I’m not on the air more because I’m Jewish.  Why can’t I have my own show?”  Recall during the presidential campaign she claimed that a six pointed sheriff’s badge juxtaposed to a pile of cash was a Star of David contrived to invoke an anti-Semitic stereotype.  Actually, the image alluded to the prosecution of Hillary Clinton in relation to illegal donations to the Clinton Foundation. Paranoia gone amuck.  What with Fox diversifying its lineup in reaction to the “scandals”, this Democratic strategist is now a contributor and therefore on all the time. (Perhaps Fox got B’nai B’rith off its back.) She even musters a smile now, albeit artificial.  Of late she seems to have moderated her liberal persona in a calculated appeal to a wider Fox audience aimed at boosting her ratings.  Rachel Maddow:  Oddly, there is something endearing about this lesbian leftist who looks like a 12 year old boy.  Sometimes she does touch on truth in her byzantine analyses.  (Note:  Understand the motive underlying my irreverence.  I am viscerally dedicated to defeating political correctness as it relates to racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, and sexual orientation.  As such, I defy it, I mock it, and I stick it in the eye of its perpetrators.  It’s what I do.  All good conservatives should too.)  7/24/17
  • ANOTHER WALL STREET LIE.  Recently I wrote about the scam on Wall Street to scare younger Americans into investing more to compensate for the presumed loss of Social Security benefits resulting from the collapse of the system. More investment means more asset-management fees for the firms.  Alas, the propaganda doesn’t end there.  Investment firms also target older Americans by trying to make them believe they have to invest more to protect themselves from being wiped out in retirement by medical expenses.  While that is conceivable for a few, the vast majority of retirees will die of natural causes without the financial drain of a serious illness.  What’s more, Medicare covers quite a lot, including cancer treatment expenses.  Reasonable premiums for Medicare, plus a private supplemental policy (Medigap) to cover Medicare’s 20% exclusion, and additional private coverage for prescription drugs will suffice for most retirees.  All that protection costs only a few hundred dollars a month, plus the cost of uncovered drugs if any.  Like the lie about the impending collapse of Social Security, investment advisers tell clients they should save for an expensive stay in a nursing home, as if it is a forgone conclusion.  Balderdash!  The relatively few who do become ill enough to need third-party treatment have the option of home care with help from family members.  But the Wall Street narrative doesn’t even mention it. Even the cost of long-term care in a facility (another fraud) may be minimized by legal protections that exempt certain assets from claims by nursing homes, including one’s house.  After a patient’s social security benefit and a possible pension are applied, Medicaid pays the balance for most patients.  Wall Street doesn’t mention this either.  Those relatively few having significant means who don’t qualify for this Medicaid benefit can resort to conceding a lien on the estate after death for the costs.  Since the public is aware of these realities the big push to sell expensive long-term care insurance has been a huge failure.  The latest elder scare by the investment community is yet another attempt to capture elderly wealth. Not only do investment advisers encourage clients to sock away as much as possible with them for a remote contingency, they caution them to minimize medical expenditures by questioning the need for tests and procedures, and, they push end-of-life agreements.  Of course, that is good practice, but it also optimizes the investment account balances left with the firms, which may continue long after assets pass to heirs.  7/19/17    
  • TO MY FELLOW RIGHT-WINGERS:  HOW CONSERVATIVE ARE YOU?  I’m so far to the right that when I drive I don’t make left turns.  My idea of a diverse work force is one dominated by white males dutifully supported by provocatively dressed women from around the globe.  I’m so conservative I won’t throw out a wall-to-wall carpet until the pile is worn along the baseboards. I work from a 1958 calendar with a Bridget Bardot pinup photo. I’m a fire-breathing, bomb-throwing, frothing-at-the-mouth right-wing zealot that scares liberals into silence (and some conservatives too). I’m so conservative I wear a tux, tails and a top hat to see the dentist. I’m so right-wing political scientists are extending the end of the spectrum just for me. I water the lawn in the rain just to be sure a spot isn’t missed. My preferred demeanor makes Donny Osmond look like a hip hop star. I do yard work in a tie. I’m so conservative I think the federal government should be reduced to fit in a Motel 6 with the porch light on to welcome right-wing monitors. If I had my druthers Frank Sinatra music would play in all quarters by executive order. I lean so far to the right my gait is distorted so that I’m called the old sidewinder. I’m so conservative I make Sean Hannity seen like a wild-eyed ‘60s radical. How conservative are you?  7/17/17
  • PRINCESS DIANA:  LIBERAL ICON.  Next month marks the twentieth anniversary of Princess Diana’s tragic death abetted by an obsessive paparazzi pursuing her in a high speed car chase through a Paris to London tunnel.  Today, I’ll get a jump on the media deluge.  This commemoration seems rather remote now, but the news coverage of her death in the U.S. at the time was 24/7 for weeks in many outlets.  Elton John even composed a tribute song, “Candle In The Wind”.  I meant to write an article about the basis for the unwarranted hoopla then, but I never got around to it until now.  Part of the reason for the media hype was America’s historical fascination with the royal family. But the wall-to-wall coverage also marked the culmination of years of fawning over this media darling. Why? At the time I mentally posited the following reasons, all of which ingratiate Diana to the political left:  1) She was a commoner who rose to the pinnacle of haughty British society.  2) She besmirched the royal crown and the illiberal effeteness it connotes through her marital infidelity and rowdy behavior.  3) She publicly embraced the liberal agenda seizing many phony photo ops featuring her posing with poor African children.  The left celebrates her as a sympathetic progressive figure portrayed as a victim of her irredeemable husband, Prince Charles. (The feminist angle: It’s always the man’s fault don’t you know.)  Something of a slut, her lifestyle flew in the face of traditional marriage and family. (Extra media points for that.) And her serious relationship with Egyptian billionaire, Dodi Fayed, hinted at tainting the purity of the royal bloodline. Indeed, she is a liberal icon.  7/12/17    

  • THE MEDIA PUSH DEGENERACY.  Last week the New York Post reported a comment by rapper 50 Cent, aka Fiddy, about his opinion of the new album of fellow degenerate, Jay-Z.  A master of elocution, he said on Instagram, “I thought the s—t was aight, you know what I’m sayin’?  I liked the s—t.  But … the s—t was too smart.  I felt like I was supposed to be wearing glasses and s—t, and tie a f—king sweater around my waist.  It was like Ivy League s—t.”  Why is this animal cited in the news?  Legitimizing him and his ilk by publicizing them and the dreck they produce has poisoned our culture and corrupted our youth for some time now. These illiterates are even role models in our schools to some extent.  It’s up to cultural conservatives to denounce this societal infection.  It would be nice if media would help to defend our civilization against these low-lifes and their purveyors.  Instead, this decadence is celebrated in the name of race relations, and, of course, the almighty dollar.  The market for this garbage is so large and lucrative now (Jay-Z is worth half a billion dollars) that one wonders whether the scourge will ever die.  Nat Cole, Billy Eckstine, Sammy Davis, Jr., et al must be spinning in their graves.  7/11/17   

  • SEXUAL HARASSMENT:  YESTERDAY AND TODAY.  Now Uber and Silicon Valley have fallen at the hands of the sexual harassment gods.  And most recently, yet another accusation has been waged against a Fox commentator, this time FBN Charles Payne, by Hottie, er, Scottie Nell Hughes who claims she was “forced” into a three year relationship as a condition for her air time.  Thus, it is fitting to consider how this issue has evolved over time to the perversion of justice it’s become.  A personal anecdote illustrates.  Some decades ago at an office social event, after having had one too many, I engaged in a conversation with a woman who was the designated IT support person for our area.  To facilitate the chat I adopted her technology vernacular.  So, I whispered in her ear, “I’m user friendly.” Then I added, “And I have a great hard drive”.  Seemingly unfettered, she slowly walked over to two or three women nearby and apparently told them what I said.  Within 30 seconds I heard a huge roar of laughter from her group.  Back then women had a sense of humor about this kind of thing.  Today, a man faces a lawsuit.  The left thinks that’s progress.  7/10/17

  • WALL STREET IS LYING TO US.  For some years we have been hearing warnings that Social Security benefits will not be available to younger Americans when they retire because the system will have collapsed.  Of course, this is nonsense as such an outcome would be politically verboten.  Revolution in the streets would ensue if the government appropriated hundreds of thousands of dollars withheld from paychecks over a work life, plus an equal amount contributed by employers.  Simply raising the eligibility age slightly would avert the problem for some time.  In the extreme, the Federal Reserve Bank and the Treasury could respectively print money and borrow to cover a shortfall. But Wall Street is perpetrating the default deceit to scare people into socking away more into their fee-generating 401(k), IRA and other investment accounts to compensate for their forfeited Social Security benefits.  By crying wolf, asset-management and brokerage firms are trying to condition the public to this doomsday scenario through a constant drumbeat in public forums, including investment seminars, in the hope that everyone will consider default a foregone conclusion.  This fait accompli propaganda also plays into the hands of the federal government.  That is, mass acquiescence to Social Security confiscation encourages government to renege on its obligation since an already discounted public mindset assures impunity. Could there be collusion between government and Wall Street in this scam? Amazingly, it seems many people stoically buy the lie, including Sean Hannity and other radio talk show hosts.  But when the time comes to collect, a much greater number of defrauded retirees will likely react in mass rebellion.  Actuaries say Medicare is much worse off than Social Security.  Why don’t we hear about that program imploding?  Because that eventuality is also politically prohibitive for government, and, Wall Street has no stake in it.  7/5/17

     © 2017 William J. Dodwell


 [W1






CULTURE


Religion:  A Force for Good and Evil


By William J. Dodwell    December 19, 2015 

            Religious tradition undergirds American society and civilizations throughout the world.  In the United States the pilgrims and the founding fathers embraced it, and the culture has continued it through organized religions that provide a benign guide to living for most.  But many God-fearing non-religious, as well as atheists, reject denominational worship in favor of their own notions of righteousness.  History shows oscillating patterns of religious and secular interest in a continuum between faith and reason highlighted by the 18th century Enlightenment period in Europe.  That movement shifted focus from religion to rationality, liberty and tolerance as it emphasized empiricism and science.  In the extreme, religion takes the form of irrational zeal that justifies wars and mayhem in the name of theistic loyalty.  Today, that model is particularly manifest in the atrocities of radical Islamic jihad.

The religious believer
          
             Many find solace in organized religion as a source of divine inspiration for overcoming the difficulties of life and optimizing the joy of living.  Some view it as a means of securing happiness in the hereafter.  Religious institutions also provide a sense of belonging in a social setting of like-minded people that promotes a kind of groupthink about God largely derived from sacred scriptures.  Religious beliefs are usually founded on faith that is informed by upbringing and a certain psychological and emotional predisposition.  They transcend rational analysis, particularly when exercised through exotic rituals and symbols that serve as vehicles for embracing the abstract.  Some, such as born-again types, get religion in reaction to harrowing experiences.  Others convert through powerful persuasion.

            Most believers rely heavily on the Bible as a definitive source of righteousness.  Accordingly, they establish it as a basis for many political positions on such issues as abortion, gay marriage, immigration and wealth redistribution.  The bible belt, the presence of a Bible in every hotel room, and the book’s distinction as the most purchased publication of all time are testament to its power and the popularity of its message.  Many other believers profess nominal obeisance to their organizational affiliation but only superficially apply its tenets to their lives, if at all.  In fact, ongoing non-compliance of some members could rightfully render them hypocrites.  Consider the barbarism of Mexican gangs who nevertheless identify with Catholicism because of its long tradition in their country.  Ditto the Italian mafia.  Pseudo-religionists see their faith as a one-way street where they appeal to God for help but ignore the canon.  Or, religious affiliation is just pretense to enhance social acceptance.

At the same time, religious institutions strive for economic and political power through optimal membership and church attendance that engenders tithing and reverance.  That goal is particularly perverse in cable television broadcasts featuring faith healers who exploit seemingly feeble-minded audiences.  Separately, Jimmy Swaggart, until his fall from grace, was obsessed with multiplying his cable outlets around the world to maximize followers and the dollars that follow.  Of course, many upstanding evangelists have enriched untold millions of lives including Billy Graham, Robert Schuller, Fulton Sheen, Jerry Falwell and today, Joel Osteen.  Indeed, evangelical followers constitute an important voting bloc in elections.  Additionally, Islam functions as a systemic political network of global governance sustained through conversion and fearful adherence based on interpretations of the teachings of Mohammed.

The Catholic Church’s peak power rested on its massive following cultivated globally over centuries.  Today that power is largely attenuated by the priest scandals, as well as a secular sea change that has decimated vocations and membership.  Today the Church tries to fill the empty pews by promoting the plight of migrants and launching a new campaign for converts in Africa.  In addition, Pope Francis opines sympathetically about climate change and has liberalized the interpretation of some church doctrine, perhaps out of political expediency to garner membership and shore up the institution.

            The community church is particularly dominant in the black culture as something of a palliative for economic and social ills.  It also is a social rallying point that incorporates the black instinct for music.  But one wonders how matters of faith and morals supposedly proclaimed in the pulpit comport with the pervasiveness of violent crime and other behavioral pathologies in black precincts.  It seems many church leaders excuse aberrant conduct out of concern for alienating followers who do not want to be held to account.

            In a civil society law supersedes religion.  Although American jurisprudence derives from Judeo-Christian precepts, a legal defense cannot rest on biblical references.  For example, opposition to abortion and gay marriage may be legitimately argued in public discourse on biblical and sociological grounds.  But the current law, like it or not, rests on constitutional principles such as human rights and religious freedom, irrespective of contradictory scripture.  Nevertheless, in societal relations religion plays a large role in upholding traditional values minimized by the courts.

The non-religious believer

            Then there are God-fearing people who do not affiliate with organized religion.  To them the scriptures are inauthentic screeds written by men sometimes hundreds of years after the fact.  They lack credible divine origination and are subject to many interpretations - literal, metaphorical and allegorical. 

Rather, the non-denominational believer gleans from the astonishing vastness, complexity, diversity and orderliness of the universe a benign supreme being in control who can be honored, as well as petitioned in the form of prayer.  Associated with this force is the notion of retributive justice characterized by karma, an inexplicable but seemingly real phenomenon in which everyone’s good behavior is rewarded and bad acts are punished.  The relationship with God is intuitive, experiential, as well as faith-based inasmuch as the believer recognizes the legitimacy of something beyond reason.  This person is guided by natural law reflected in an inherent desire to do good and avoid evil that is informed by a conscience, and by an understanding of the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  The non-religious believer’s relationship to God is personal and founded on general spirituality rather than specific theology.  His behavior additionally rests on a sense of morality and ethics grounded in tradition, as well as on codified law.  On that basis he cultivates a personal responsibility for his conduct and a certain obligation to others.  No club-like comradery is necessary.

The atheist, the agnostic and the moral cretin

Atheists adopt a purely rational assessment of the existence of God.  Faith and intuitive deduction do not suffice.  Only empirical proof will do.  This is understandable given man as a rational being.  It’s said that faith is a gift.  Should one be vilified for not having it?  Many brilliant people reject God’s existence.  But so do many geniuses embrace the mystery of faith.  Atheists are not without scruples.  They are guided by a secular code of morality and ethics founded on natural law and even common sense.

            Agnostics are not sure whether God exists or not and therefore may conduct their lives like atheists.  On the other hand, perhaps they hedge their bets with a certain nod to the supernatural.

            Another category consists of those devoid of a natural moral compass, the so-called “bad seed” born missing a certain chromosome. These incorrigibly unscrupulous beings, often with an inborn propensity for violence, keep law enforcement particularly busy.

The decline of religion

            The secularization of society since the 1960s embodied in the mores of sex, drugs and rock and roll promoted by licentious media has rendered religion almost an anomaly as the culture steadily defines deviance down.  Feminism, the sexual revolution, pornography, abortion, out of wedlock births and other social changes and former moral proscriptions have vitiated traditional values in favor of temporal indulgence, notwithstanding some societal progress.  

According to the Pew Research Center, 23% of Americans do not identify with a religious denomination today, and 11% do not believe in God, as a certain moral scrupulousness has abated.  As such, once discouraged mixed marriages across religious lines have become quite common.  In addition, the prohibition of religious displays in many public places and the suppression of the Merry Christmas greeting, for example, show how far theistic sensibilities have waned.  But they also reflect the intrusion of poisonous political correctness.  Amid the changes, atheists have gained currency as an identity group.

            Nevertheless, God is still invoked in circumstances that call for such things as benediction or a moment of silence.  However, although the latter acknowledges God, such a public mourning also may be an expression of solidarity in grief that accommodates secular human relations.  But God still is referenced on the U.S. currency and in many public places.  Is it just a matter of time before those vestiges of traditional faith are eradicated?

            Godless societies have not fared well.  Consider the paganism of the Roman Empire and the historical hardships of totalitarian states.

Religious extremism

            Throughout history some primitive irrational religious practices, such as voodoo, witchcraft, mythology and idolatry have achieved societal acceptance.  But the common denominator among religious and non-religious believers is a yearning for a benign, if sometimes delusional, external force in the quest for inner peace.  In the process, the extremists jettison reason, just as one might embrace astrology or superstition.

            The deranged indulgence in religion has a history of brutality wholly antithetical to the benevolent deity the followers worship.  Consider the Crusades waged by the Catholic Church against the Muslim Turks in the 12th and 13th centuries, and the concurrent global Inquisition aimed at combating heresy against the Church’s teachings.  Other examples include the numerous lengthy wars in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries involving the Protestant Reformation and the rejection of the Holy Roman Empire.  And now there is radical Islam.  It’s been said that religion has been the primary cause of war.  To be fair, this is not true.  Non-religious wars led by Stalin, Hitler, Lenin, Mao and others were much more devastating, collectively resulting in a loss of over one hundred million lives.

Today disparate religions coexist in a more ecumenical spirit of tolerance in a very secular world.  Perhaps that is because individual religions have lost the social dominance that existed when their more numerous church goers might have socialized more along denominational lines.  Nonetheless, Muslims remain largely segregated as they staunchly resist assimilation.

Many intelligent Muslims suspend reason to subscribe to a perverse interpretation of the Koran and the mandates of Shariah law.  Accordingly, they support barbaric jihad promoted by their leaders in the quest for a global dominance in which Christians and Jews are either converted or eliminated while non-compliant Muslims face death.  Peaceful Muslims, fearful for their lives, refuse to inform authorities about signs of radical activity.  Other non-combatants secretly cheer the havoc their brethren wreak.  Today Islamic terror grips the world.  This is a classic example of religion as a force for evil. 

Religious fanaticism is psychopathic with potential pandemic consequences that can undermine civilization.  It must be suppressed through the exercise of God-given reason and free will which distinguish man from all other creatures.  And that resistance is not limited to the extreme zealots.  Some regular religious practitioners might relocate along the spectrum of faith and reason in recognition of the pragmatic.  Much religion is not benign.  It is often a shrouded exponent of the political and economic ambitions of the powers that be.  While religion can be altruistic, people should retain their individualism in the pursuit of self-realization and not relinquish their reason.

Conclusion

            Rendering oneself to God presupposes a certain faith, whether summoned through religion or not.  Most temper it with reality but some forsake reason to the point of renouncing their individual freedom to pursue happiness and fulfillment.  This extreme not only applies to religious fanatics but also to those who exaggerate the significance of the Bible and who embrace rituals, symbols and superstitions, possibly to the detriment of their wellbeing.  For example, belief in the divinity of Christ and his resurrection is widespread but contravenes reason.  So does the rejection of technology by the Amish, the prohibition of blood transfusions by the Jehovah Witnesses, and Jews refraining from eating pork, all in deference to an abstract being.  

To the extent believers unduly alter their behavior or thinking to comport with religious tradition, their allegiance may override important temporal considerations.  For example, one might agree with a completely open border in the spirit of accommodating the downtrodden in an extreme interpretation of biblically inspired altruism, but it is self-destructive for a country.  Likewise for redistributing wealth through confiscatory taxation.  At some point religion intersects with politics and ideology where devotion to God may unnecessarily conflict with dedication to secular principle.

            Of course, religious observance is a personal choice that gives one legitimate comfort and a blueprint for morality.  But one decides on a point between faith and reason, between fantasy and reality.  That decision has implications for his freedom and possibly that of others.  One’s liberty derives from man’s unique intellect which is not just an instrument for self-indulgence but a potential agent for magnanimity that promotes the greater good.  Sometimes a religious choice is founded on an illusory notion of wellbeing and salvation that unnecessarily denies one a better life.  This is particularly reprehensible when a religion is forced on practitioners. 

Is reason supreme?  It trumps blind religious faith that eclipses one’s identity and may espouse harm to others.  Nevertheless, a believer’s reason needs guidance through a relationship with its inexplicable but intuitive source - God.  The appropriate blend of faith and reason can transcend the power of intellect by introducing hope, another elixir of life.  The atheist is left to his own devices.  But it is said there are none in foxholes.

©2015    William J. Dodwell


Challenging the Culture of Political Correctness

 

By William J. Dodwell    June17, 2016


            Relentless media and institutional interference in public discourse through sanctions on speech have cowed most Americans into silence about many inconvenient truths.  As a result, a culture of political correctness forsakes traditional values in favor of the grievances of myriad identity groups at the expense of the greater good. At the same time, the new paradigm tacitly elevates the overall liberal agenda.  Suppressed dissent about such sacred cows as diversity, the environment, immigration, big government, and wealth redistribution contributes to ever-growing curtailment of individual freedom and a denial of reality itself.  Indeed, restrictions on speech from unchecked political correctness can lead to state-sponsored censure, as First Amendment rights are redefined and diluted in a dangerous descent into tyranny.  The same accretion of government control threatens the rest of the Bill of Rights as well. 

 

Looming social, professional and legal consequences of impolitic opposition, or even inadvertent offense, create an atmosphere of fear and disgust throughout society.  And too much accommodation to the aggrieved leads to behavioral and punitive excess, such as the possible criminalization of climate change dissent which the Department of Justice is currently considering.  In turn, political correctness encroaches the right to criticize the deviant behavior, cultural extremes and government sanctions it encourages.  Americans must reverse this malaise by vigorously challenging the speech police.  

 

Sensitivity gone amuck

 

            Political correctness deters critical speech against designated liberal constituencies through the fear of vilification or reprisal.  Those groups, primarily based on race, gender, religion and sexuality, develop a power of their own by claiming perceived or feigned offenses, which mobilize their benefactors in media and the government to their defense.  In the process, the left garners the allegiance of the protected classes while silencing their critics into effective acquiescence to liberal orthodoxy.  The mass sensitivity that results inhibits dissent out of the fear of offending.  This sets the stage for even more limitations on free speech and other liberties as the grievance industry expands.  Consequently, Americans have to endure racial profiling bans, discipline problems in the inner city schools, absurd conduct codes on college campuses, and propaganda about the environment, just to name a little of the fallout.  Here are some examples of how the touchy feely culture produced by political correctness has muzzled dissent and expression.

 

The Trump University kerfuffle

 

Presumptive GOP presidential nominee, Donald Trump, faces a firestorm for invoking ethnicity in his campaign.  Specifically, he suggests recusal for Gonzalo Curiel, the federal judge assigned the civil case brought against him alleging fraud at his Trump University real estate school.  Trump says the American judge’s Mexican ancestry may bias his opinion in light of Trump’s stated intent to deport 11 million illegal, mostly Mexican, immigrants, and to build a wall on the southern border to keep newcomers out. 

 

The media, as well as many leading Republicans, denounce Trump’s referencing the judge’s ethnicity as racist while ignoring the remark in context with his campaign statements about Mexicans.  Trump rightfully questions the judge’s independence based on his ethnicity in his capacity as a litigant in the case.  In addition, his immigration policy expressed as a presidential candidate, and the judge’s membership in a Latino legal association, raise political implications for the judge’s independence that morally justify Trump’s call for recusal.  

 

These circumstances are distinct from Trump questioning the judge’s independence on the basis of his Mexican heritage while a sitting president.  That would be problematic.  As such, Trump’s insistence on the judge’s extrication is wholly reasonable and therefore not racist, even though his call is not in accordance with legal recusal criteria.  Besides, was it pure chance that a Hispanic judge was assigned the case given the likely Republican nominee’s controversial immigration policy?  It would appear somebody in authority hoped to tilt the scales against Trump.  The public has to reject this distortion of the race-obsessed media and those seeking political cover.  Cowardly pundits and politicians, are deathly afraid media will render them and the GOP radioactive for not calling Trump out for this supposed indiscretion.  Sadly, in media, entrenched political correctness trumps truth.

 

The truth is few really care about Trump’s ethnic invocation, except some Mexicans, pretenders, and brainwashed paranoid hypersensitives offended by the affront to political correctness.  (Reportedly, some 60% of those polled said Trump was wrong but that is probably because they feared appearing to be racist to the pollster.)  The public must recognize that liberals have made the term racist so gratuitous as to be almost meaningless.  Massive sustained vocal opposition to media misrepresentation and charges of racism can vindicate Trump and neutralize the race card while showing the people are not dupes.  A Trump victory in November would be media’s ultimate comeuppance, just as his immigration stance was in the primaries.  But, unfortunately, informed, activist conservative populism of this sort is a long way from critical mass as the bigot label still rules, regardless of its lack of substance.  This has to change.

 

The war on radical Islamic terror

 

            The recent attack in Orlando, Florida in the name of ISIS that killed 49 people is the latest reminder of the insanity of political correctness as it cripples the fight against radical Islamic terror. The PC crowd, including President Obama himself, as well as presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, fails to acknowledge a systemic threat in the Muslim community out of fear of offending innocent followers.  Chillingly, one can reasonably suspect Obama is a Muslim sympathizer in view of his upbringing, policies and seeming refusal to take Islamic terror seriously.  (Clinton goes along with Obama on everything to protect his legacy, so he in turn will order Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, not to indict her for improprieties concerning her e-mails and the Clinton Foundation.)

 

Indeed, Obama and many liberals will not even mention the word Islam in relation to countless terrorist acts committed in the name of Mohammed’s teachings.  In the wake of Islamic acts of terror on U.S. soil, the media are quick to divert focus from radical Islam ideology to the gun control issue and warnings about unfair blanket indictment of Muslims.  References to Islamic terror have been deleted from all U.S. government and military materials.  Mosques cannot be inspected.  Surveillance is subject to anti-profiling restrictions.  Political correctness has intimidated the public from reporting suspect activities of Muslims out of fear of being called racist.  Overt proselytizing of militant Islam in the military and the workplace cannot be pursued.  In Europe, local governments designate Sharia law zones where law enforcement cannot engage. 

 

The mass media refuse to call radical Islam for what it is.  Rather, they protect it on the grounds of religious rights and to thwart discrimination.  But another reason for their long acquiescence is cowardice – the fear of a bomb at the door a la Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

 

The left touts religious liberty for Muslims in America, many of whom conspire to destroy the country and may not even be citizens.  But it denies the same for Christians who decline on religious grounds to accommodate gay weddings or comply with health care mandates regarding contraception.  PC madness is a prescription for ongoing terrorist acts. 

 

Alleged anti-Semitism

 

            An article in the Sunday New York Times, May 29, 2016 by Rob Walker entitled “Left Speechless by Hateful Talk” illustrates how hypersensitivity founded on political correctness could undermine social harmony.  In his weekly column about workplace grievances, Walker cites a Jewish reader’s complaint about what he perceives as the anti-Semitism of a department leader to whom he indirectly reports.  Here are the specifics.  While walking with the complainant to the parking lot after an offsite event, the boss, who probably did not know the employee is Jewish, referred to someone who would “Jew the price down”.  Walker responded sympathetically to the reader’s question about what he should do about the man who the “shocked” and “flabbergasted” subordinate says “… is probably a Jew hater.”  The columnist recommended responses including discussing the matter with the offender or another superior, to carrying on despite the frustration from not confronting offensive speech.

 

            Of course, the incident could have been triggered by intemperate remarks about race, gender or sexuality as well.  And, indeed, at some level such indiscretion can strain organizational comity and client relations, and on a large scale may create social discord.  But the issue concerns the reason the article was written.  Publicizing a petty private incident like this to promote political correctness fosters a walking-on-egg shells society.  Of course, silencing dissent is a goal of the left for which the New York Times is a leading exponent.  “Jewing the price down” is an age-old aphorism that invokes a history of Jewish involvement in business which necessarily involves energetic negotiation.  As such, there is a rational basis for the saying, which, while not a term of endearment, is not necessarily an expression of hate as posited by Walker and his reader. 

 

The aggrieved employee blithely extrapolates this well-worn phrase to a hatred of Jews.  Like many hypersensitive about their ethnicity, he should curb his paranoia because false charges of anti-Semitism engender social alienation, which the New York Times invites by publicizing this incident.  While rightful indignation based on a reasonable standard of general sensibilities warrants public attention, there should be a high threshold for local intervention and a higher one for publication.  Otherwise, keep it private.  A standard might be what it would take for the media to express the same revulsion to Catholic bashing.  From the Jewish perspective, the incident may raise the specter of the Holocaust.  But in the context of the general population 75 years later in what is now a somewhat philo-Semitic country, the employee’s grievance seems overblown and potentially disruptive.  Jews might consider keeping their powder dry for the truly important offenses.

 

Most stereotypes derive from at least partial truth.  For years people have talked about drunken Irishmen, gluttonous Italians, and lazy Blacks.  While certain discretion is important in a civil society, especially in a public forum, it should not be the role of the media to hector and vilify when stereotypes are invoked.  If positive stereotypes are valid, why not negative stereotypes in the interest of truth, especially if they help to remediate bad behavior?  The problem is, it is not about truth.  It is about political correctness with its undue emphasis on sentiment.

 

Let individuals bear the consequences of their words and temper themselves accordingly, or not.  The employee offended by the Jewish slur has options that Walker cited.  But if he takes action that gets the offender fired, he sows the seeds of real anti-Semitism.  Better to let it go and move on. 

 

Ann Coulter’s exile

 

            It has been ten months since conservative pundit, Ann Coulter, was banished from the media for an unfortunate twitter outburst concerning the Republican presidential campaign.  All over cable news channels for years, she is now apparently restricted to her weekly blog, missing the most exciting election cycle in decades.  Her offense was to express her frustration about Republican candidates repeatedly pledging support for Israel, which Coulter apparently considered unproductive pandering in view of so many issues having much broader appeal to voters.  “How many f…ing Jews do these people think there are in the United States?” was her tweet that may have ended her career.

 

The political correctness lies in what comedy slut Kathy Griffin said about picking targets for ridicule in her act, “Don’t mess with the Jews.”  Why?  Everyone else is game (Well, not Muslims).  For many, the Jewish exemption breeds resentment that assures a backlash in some quarters.  A response to Griffin might be what Harry Truman said, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”.  Since Jews are very much in the kitchen prominently involved in many areas of endeavor, to their credit, they are going to get heat on account of a seemingly disproportionate influence.  It goes with the territory.  No doubt their special consideration arises from the sensitivity about the atrocities of World War II, and that has to be respected. “Never again” is an understandable dedication, but three generations removed, linking a slur to another genocide can undermine support needed in the face of a real threat.

 

Coulter’s tone suggests a certain animosity, but so what?  As she explained in the wake of the incident, she could have said the same about pandering to the evangelicals, and felt similarly about repeated Republican invocations of Reagan and abortion.  Her emotional choice of words should not brand her an anti-Semite deserving of exile. (Of course, the banishment is enforced mostly by non-Jews in media who fear for their jobs and the reputations of themselves and their networks which a concerted Jewish effort might destroy for not leveling retribution against her).  Having happened, her disappearance sends a strong message about “messing with the Jews”, but it comes at a public relations cost as her isolation, and that of many others, does not go unnoticed, despite the utter lack of news coverage about it.  As mentioned, this kind of action can breed anti-Semitism.  She has a right to say what she wants and the public has a right to hear it.  Where is the outcry from the libertarians?

 

            Coulter recently emerged on a couple of talk radio programs.  Perhaps her sentence is nearing an end.  That would be better than Arsenio Hall’s fate whose popular television show, and career, abruptly ended after Louis Farrakhan appeared as a guest some 25 years ago.

 

The Donald Sterling flap

 

One of the most outrageous examples of public timidity in the face of racial politics perpetrated by the media concerns the 2014 pillorying of billionaire Donald Sterling, former 30-year owner of the Los Angeles Clippers professional basketball team.  His girlfriend, in an extortion attempt, publicized a recording of him in a private telephone conversation with her in which he spoke disparagingly about black people.  For that he was forced to sell the team and was banned from the NBA for life.  Astonishingly, the public seemed to acquiesce to the media firestorm that followed.  No one had the courage to defend Donald Sterling.  Only Mark Cuban, owner of the competing Dallas Mavericks basketball team, urged caution about the slippery slope that could ensue from prosecuting private personal communications.

 

Sterling did nothing wrong.  Sure, his words were problematic for a white owner of an NBA team in a predominantly black league, but they were private.  As a practical matter, it might seem Sterling would have to go, but not really.  The mass media created an explosion of phony indignation fraught with political imperative.  Absent the media cataclysm, the general public would not have cared much, even blacks.  But the incident was too much of an opportunity for the PC police.  Where is the mainstream media coverage of Al Sharpton’s private racist utterances caught on tape years ago?  How many white citizens feign positive sentiments about blacks that belie their real opinions founded on the many social pathologies in the black community?  The media outrage directed against Sterling for this inherently innocuous happening could by extension shut down any criticism of black people, the meal ticket of the left.  (A liberal dream come true.)  Mass capitulation to the media in its vilification of innocents and its suppression of truth has to stop.

 

            Here’s an interesting coda to the Sterling debacle.  Former Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, paid an overpriced $2 billion for Sterling’s LA Clippers (in a forced sale no less) inflating team valuations throughout the NBA.  Not long later Bruce Levenson, who owned a controlling interest in the Atlanta Hawks, announced he will sell his stake after surrendering to the league his e-mail in which he attributed low attendance to black fans who “scared away” whites from the arena and the surrounding bars.  Did he capitalize on the newly inflated valuation of his team by indicting himself in the wake of the Sterling tsunami in order to expedite a quick lucrative sale that otherwise would not have occurred?  Was his proffering of the e-mail a confession in the name of political correctness, or a ruse for financial gain?  In any case, Levenson’s comment about a business reality does not justify the owner having to sell.  Who could argue with the reasonableness of his statement, especially in a southern city?  Maybe if the truth about attendance and its threat to the viability of the team were allowed to emerge, black fans might alter their behavior to save their team and keep it in Los Angeles.  Or not.

 

More laissez-faire is needed in public discourse

 

Critics might argue that if it were not for political correctness imposed by the media the N-word, for instance, would still be popular.  Certainly, television, radio and print may rightfully promote change by setting an example in their content.  But propaganda, intimidation tactics, retaliation, and blacklisting, out of ulterior political motives, repel audiences, or should.  Over time a civilization adjusts to genuine sensitivities and creates new norms.  And if an individual chooses to shun another because of a slur on a group, that is his right.  As such, most offenders will suffer consequences naturally and eventually fall in line with a reasonable consensus standard without badgering from the mass media.

 

            The politically correct culture has become a battle between the offender and the aggrieved where the latter is ever more prominent as the left creates more protected classes amid an increasingly docile public.   The coddled groups collectively operate in common cause with one another, which is to dispel discrimination, but also to stifle dissent in deference to the larger liberal canon.  The politicians and the media freely, and usually inaccurately, brand the politically non-compliant as “haters” or “bigots” to establish official vilification that will deter emulation.  Expressed dissent is even criminalized as “hate speech” in some precincts.

 

Public denunciation of a petty slur not only panders to identity groups.  On a large scale it creates a mass docility that disarms opposition to important causes of the left, including sanctuary cities, climate change, and certain government social programs.  People are afraid to object.  Consider the utter nonsense in academia today with its trigger warnings and safe spaces.  And mere allegations of rape on campus are taken as virtual fact with no rights for the accused as liberal administrators effectively abet the feminist mission to further empower women by marginalizing men.  It seems the aggrieved are always right and the offender wrong amid much feigned indignation.  The public has to support the rights of alleged offenders by challenging the aggrieved and insisting they make adjustments where appropriate.  In other words, opposition has to tell the cry-babies to “get over it” as oftentimes the truth hurts.  Political correctness must not eclipse truth and individual conviction. A massive backlash is in order. 

 

The ever-expanding PC code promotes the agenda of the progressive left

 

Political correctness in the law vs. the culture

 

The war on political correctness rests largely on protecting individual freedoms of speech, religion and association.  The First Amendment upholds those rights against government restrictions imposed by federal, state and local law and its administrative enforcement in its rulemaking process.  But liberal politicians and the courts, averse to the original intent of the Constitution, continually infuse political correctness through expansive legal interpretations that undermine First Amendment rights, as well as other constitutional protections, including property rights and gun rights.  The imperious overreach of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a prime example.

 

PC madness originates as an encroachment on liberties in cases of individuals versus private business or property, which are not protected by the First Amendment.  Typically, liberals sensationalize an issue to create social pressure that ultimately leads to codifying it in local, state or federal law, at which point the grievance is legitimized and subject to a First Amendment defense.  This may occur through a new law, or a Supreme Court decision that an issue is already covered by existing law. 

 

In the absence of legislation, the political correctness campaign is a culture war waged by activists, lawyers, media, lobbyists and government seeking protective laws.  In that conflict, conservatives have to build a concerted resistance against PC based laws that undermine individual freedoms, and fight for laws that uphold them.  The battle includes opposition to legislation that imposes excess entitlements and wealth redistribution.  The fight may call for new laws, but it also supports or challenges the constitutionality of existing laws, such as those concerning abortion, gun rights and discrimination, where conservatives and liberals disagree with respect to upholding, repealing or amending them.  Some political correctness battles will remain cultural or philosophical, such as those concerning social mores, speech codes, public school curricula, and even public vulgarity, appearance and aesthetics.  But that combat in daily life is as necessary as the battles in Congress and the courts.

 

The evolution and consequences of political correctness

 

Today extolling traditional values, including family, patriotism and meritocracy, while denouncing their opposite, violates the politically correct code.  Those tenets fly in the face of the liberal agenda which promotes a growing entitlement-oriented society and an egalitarian environment in which everyone gets a trophy and the high school valedictorian is an offensive designation.  Indeed, critics must defeat this mindset.  According to the principles of the founding, everyone is equal under the law in respect of opportunity, but not outcome or entitlement.  Conservatives believe material life beyond basic needs should be earned while the truly needy are accommodated.  A government that guarantees a standard of living in excess of necessities does so to create an entitlement dependency that further empowers itself – like a drug pusher.  As such, political correctness is a nefarious force that calls for vigorous opposition.

 

Many have been silenced, not because of any epiphany, but because of threats to their social and professional relationships for speaking their minds.  For some PC zealots, mere criticism of an identity group constitutes bigotry.  Among them are those who mindlessly accuse critics of President Obama of racism because he is black.  This intimidation buttresses the politically correct canon allowing destructive leftist forces to infect daily life unchallenged amid de facto Marxist tyranny.  Indulging the petty grievances of aggrieved groups feeds the PC beast.  Every concession can erode the basic liberties on which America was founded and have allowed it to triumph.

 

            The reason political correctness has gotten out of hand is because of not only aggressive liberal engagement, but also public diffidence.  People are afraid of losing friends or even their jobs if they do not comply, or at least remain reticent.  In the absence of adequate popular resistance, a cause becomes propagandized and in time institutionalized.  It starts with the work of activists and gains currency when adopted by the media and prosecuted by lawyers who hope to establish new areas of lucrative litigation.  Corporations fall in line to protect certain markets or to avoid bad publicity.  Eventually, politicians feel compelled to support legislation, and the many liberal courts rationalize new rights, resulting in the codification of grievance remedies.  In the meantime, a president can mandate a politically correct principle by executive order.  Much political correctness is not legislated but heavily infused in television programming, advertising, movies and other entertainment that engender cultural change.  And, as mentioned, the most absurd form of PC is evident on campus as ordered by college policies. 

 

As a consequence, legal and cultural constraints stifle speech and thought with respect to differences based on race, gender, religion and sexual orientation, which the left tries to blur into one egalitarian amalgam.  That silence dispels opposition to such inviolable liberal causes as amnesty, climate change, bigger government and the leftist agenda writ large.  At the same time, political correctness often encourages aberrant behavior and fosters unfair and unproductive affirmative action.  The liberal establishment champions the supposed aggrieved by obsessing about diversity, but the real goal is to balkanize society in order to facilitate government intervention and empowerment in classic divide and conquer fashion.  Maximum government control through minimum dissent is the name of their game.

 

The transgender apologia – the latest creation of the left

 

            The latest PC pandering focuses on the transgender community.  It started with the elevation of LGBT issues and a new emphasis on the “T”, and gathered momentum with the Chaz Bono and Bruce Jenner gender conversions becoming a liberal cause celebre.  And one wonders if Lady Gaga’s rumored transgender status might have made her a priority in the star making business.  By executive order, President Obama recently mandated public rest room and locker room accommodations for this .3% segment of the population on the basis of one’s self-identified gender, rather than biological sex.  Never mind the rights of states and the privacy concerns of the other 99.7%, or the fact the issue was never really a problem in the first place.  This concession is not definitively covered in existing civil rights law based on sex.  But, as mentioned, fully protective legislation is a goal of the PC left for all its constituencies.

 

Of course, this movement is about extending gay rights to establish yet another grievance group as a cudgel to further advance general liberalism.  In fact, media references to gays now cite the LGBT rubric as that group encompasses far larger numbers and therefore wields greater political influence.  While the restroom issue has sparked vigorous debate and protests, the public seems to have acquiesced to the celebration of Jenner’s sex change, probably because of new attitudes about gay rights.  Media went into high gear and the public bought it.  ABC featured him in a much hyped interview with Diane Sawyer.  Glamour magazine named her “Woman of the Year” for “courage”.  Even the Kardashian clan who previously scorned Jenner, one calling him a “loser”, suddenly embraced him to share the limelight and the associated dollars in the ultimate display of political correctness. 

 

The public does not seem bothered by all the attention rendered this heretofore obscure anomaly of nature, an apparent indication of rightful opposition to transgender discrimination.  But the vast majority, especially school officials, does reject the federal mandate to accommodate them in public restroom and locker room settings in pre-emption of local authority.  And, some jurisdictions have imposed new pronoun designations and other speech directives in acknowledgement of transgender distinctiveness.  At the same time, some on the left are becoming uncomfortable about reports that Jenner may want to restore his manhood, as possibly indicated by his continued reluctance to fully convert.  Will the left lose a poster boy?

 

Turning the tables on the left

 

The mission

 

            The task is to turn the tables without invoking genuine bigotry which, by definition, advocates deliberate harm against a group.  It is nothing less than that.  Effective push-back requires targets of gratuitous charges of bias and hate to summarily dismiss them by challenging the accuser and frequently repeating the offense.  The PC resistance also applies to ersatz issues such as climate change, animal rights and diversity born of leftist ulterior motives aimed at redistributing wealth and weakening America.  Other targets include excessive government spending that undermines the public fisc.  One must recognize that many in the PC crowd are just indoctrinated dimwits.  Personally banishing PC practitioners may be in order if conversion is hopeless.  But lo, the courage to execute these confrontation and isolation tactics is sorely lacking.  

 

Legitimate dissent is about upholding individual liberties promulgated in the U.S. Constitution without extending those freedoms to non-citizens, such as illegal immigrants, or to radical Muslims bent on destroying the U.S.  Principles embodied in The Declaration of Independence also constitute a model for breaking away from the yoke of political correctness and the big government it espouses.  And, of course, the war on political correctness is aimed at protecting the culture against the nihilism of the left by upholding certain traditions and standards.  It is difficult to put the genie back in the bottle as generations have been brainwashed.  At the very least, resistance has to prevent new PC mandates.  Success requires concerted societal action to remold attitudes and restore past objections through demurring words, deeds and even facial expressions that effect a cultural transformation.  In some cases, laws have to be repealed and court decisions overturned. 

 

The tactics

 

Much political correctness is pretense.  Emphasis should focus on activating the pretenders who may be particularly amenable to supporting the backlash.  Consider the Donald Trump phenomenon.  Notwithstanding his many foibles, he has certainly struck a chord in his war on political correctness.  Where were all those ardent supporters of Trump’s immigration policy before he entered the political arena?  They were scared into silence.  Dr. Ben Carson also came out of nowhere to become a leading presidential candidate for a while largely on the appeal of his tirade against political correctness, starting with the famous prayer breakfast in the presence of President Obama.  Many would support a vehicle for escaping the PC cult and ending their silence and pent up anger.  Conservatives must capitalize on that opportunity.

 

Crusaders against political correctness also may express disapproval in ordinary social settings.  Consider public vulgarity and vagabond appearance that have become largely acceptable because politically correct standards make such deviance exempt from criticism.  While waiting on line, one might cast a widely visible sneer at the cultural renegade covered in tattoos that sends a message.  It says to those around him, if not to him, “No, it is not acceptable to trash our civilization.”  Openly objecting to seemingly minor offenses like this helps to de-grease the slippery slope. 

 

More importantly, conservatives must challenge politically liberal comments in public discourse.  In conversation they should criticize the unspeakable, such as the increasingly aggressive homeless population degrading the area, and vociferously denounce the enabling politicians and policies, such as those destroying New York and San Francisco.  Doing this in specific liberal venues is especially effective.  But conservatives have to muster the courage to resist the opprobrium.  It comes more easily working in groups.  Most of the time people are silent, and some walk away, but the message is registered in their minds.  Liberals can be as timid as their counterparts.  Overt agitation at work is not encouraged, but careful whispering can help.

 

An anti-political correctness movement also requires boycotting companies, their products and their advertising agencies associated with ads that continually push the envelope in promoting objectionable racial, gender and sexual relationships or portrayals.  The same applies for television and movies that proselytize for the progressive left.  Remember, not long ago some of today’s media content was verboten.  While the off-putting depictions are not to be proscribed necessarily, they ought not be promoted.  Conservative protesters may differ as to particular disapproval since they are not monolithic.  But collectively, much progress is to be made from in-your-face expression.  Of course, discretion is important.  For example, one would behave differently amid the general public than in confrontation with activists.  In any case, violence is not condoned.

 

The war on political correctness depends on individual and institutional forces to change public attitudes about defending individual liberties in the face of overweening media and government.  This means mustering the courage to treat fire with fire against the left en mass politically and culturally.  As the Trump phenomenon shows, much of the population is already convinced.  The movement just needs a catalyst to turn back the tide.  It can begin with grass roots defiance that displaces public cowardice, as well as with support for conservative organizations and events.  And, of course, electing genuine conservatives to office at all levels helps to assure compatible legislation and judicial outcomes that thwart the legal assault on freedom.  As the political and cultural landscapes change, even the media will come around as ultimately profits rule. Having vanquished the scourge of political correctness, the country will have delivered itself from what otherwise could become a fascist socialist state.

 

                                                                           ©2016 William J. Dodwell



Is the Liberal Education Establishment Deliberately Dumbing Down America?

 

By William J. Dodwell     February 17, 2017

 

            Education in America used to be sacrosanct as a key to professional, social and national success.  Scholarship was respected and something to emulate. While this ethic still exists in certain elite quarters, it generally has deteriorated substantially in the last fifty years with serious implications for societal decline, employment, the culture, the body politic and America’s hegemony.  How and why has this happened and what are the prospects for the future?

 

The long decline

 

            Academia has long been a bastion of the political left.  As such, it is a target for infusing its increasingly intrusive agenda.  The origin of the malaise derives from the ideological and administrative politicization of public education.  Liberal elected officials and like-minded school administrators embrace identity politics and other forms of political correctness that alter academic content and teaching modalities.  At the college level, professors also promote the progressive agenda, which in turn, naïve brainwashed students help to propagate through protests.  In the primary and secondary schools, teachers might not be as ideologically motivated but are controlled by their left-leaning administrative authorities, that is, superintendents and principals. 

 

In addition, teachers are governed by their unions, chiefly the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, which work in concert with state governments to optimize their salaries, benefits and work rules.  Moreover, the unions curry favor with federal, state and local politicians and the Democratic Party through dues-financed campaign contributions and lobbying efforts aimed at extracting legislation and government spending favorable to the membership that sustains them.  The unions also often hold sway over passive local school boards.  Because union power secures generous total compensation and accommodations for teachers independent of performance or student achievement, and ensures they cannot be fired, the quality of education suffers.

 

Academic dilution

 

The radical departure from traditional curricula and academic standards linked to the institution of political correctness in the schools and colleges raises serious questions as to educational purpose. Has the left deliberately diluted education in its self-interest?  Compounding the problem is a societal de-intellectualization engendered by technological distractions, such as email, smartphones and video games.  Although a godsend in some ways, these innovations suppress in-depth thought.  This creates a population unaccustomed to critical thinking and complex conceptualization which particularly undermines traditional education for the young.  Further cultural deterioration is reflected in a long popular obsession with sports and in artistic decadence promoted by the media that have contributed to an atmosphere inimical to educational excellence.

 

            Education authorities have curtailed or eliminated the teaching of civics and American history such that many children do not even know who George Washington was.  Daniel Henninger writes in The Wall Street Journal, June 11, 2015, about the College Board’s revision of the Advance Placement examination for U.S. history.  The changes recast the subject in a framework of “different contexts of U.S. history, with special attention given to the formation of gender, class, racial and ethnic identities “. 

 

Indeed, in schools and colleges the works and achievements of so-called dead white males have become impolitic.  The left suppresses and revises history to fit its agenda that emphasizes oppression, including the transgressions of the forefathers, particularly on American Indians and Africans.  While concealing the atrocities and inequities of the early American settlers and the founders is dishonest, the teaching of history should be balanced to encompass the good and the bad.  Likewise, the lesser significance of minority figures should not be exaggerated for their own sake.  But liberal educators de-emphasize the nation’s founding and the freedoms and prosperity it spawned, while lionizing the global order.  They virtually ignore the U.S. Constitution or even dismiss it as extremist.  The education establishment embraces collectivism and downplays individual accomplishment lest it pose a challenge to its power.  There is little room for dissent.  Such homogeneous thinking invites tyranny, and educational manipulation sets the stage for that outcome.

 

Rigorous grammar study, including the diagramming of sentences and verb conjugation that foster clear communication, seem to have gone out with the typewriter.  Consider the common disregard for proper past participles, even among the well- educated?  Employers complain too many employees cannot write effectively.  The extent of foreign names in media bylines suggests a paucity of qualified American educated journalists.  A rote, checklist mentality in auditing substitutes for integrative analysis contributing to costly corporate failures.  Information in instruction pamphlets is poorly organized.  Note the declining literacy reflected in the many misspellings of basic words appearing in television news trailers and closed caption text (allowing for occasional typos while typing on the fly).  Schools invoke exaggerated touchy feely notions of self-esteem and personal uniqueness at the expense of objective academic standards.  And the American culture derides academic achievers as “nerds”.

 

Sports seem to trump scholarship in the schools, and even that is subverted by egalitarian zeal by which everyone gets a trophy, and keeping score on the ball field is prohibited.  Political correctness further pervades the atmosphere with an obsession about race, multiculturalism and the environment.  In fact, in Philadelphia there is a move to adopt Black Lives Matter as a curricular topic.  In addition, California assemblyman, Marc Levine, introduced a bill requiring the State Board of Education to teach in its curriculum and textbooks about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, which the left claims invalidates President Trump’s victory.

 

Poor student performance

 

Street interviews that expose abysmal ignorance of history and current events, even among top school students, have become regular television entertainment.  SAT scores have fallen for decades despite easier test content.  And according to the 2015 global rankings of the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) compiled by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) , the U.S. scored a below average 41st in math, 24th in reading, and 25th in science.  What’s more, only about one-third of 4th and 8th graders nationally in public and private schools performed at or above grade level proficiency in 2015, according to National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). 

 

This, despite average spending per student steadily rising above the inflation rate.  Such results disprove the oft-mentioned link between spending and educational quality the progressives claim.  As more educational control has shifted toward the federal government, spending has increased significantly without improved results.  According to Investor’s Business Daily, September 7, 2015, “... the Department of Education runs over 100 grant programs, spending over $100 billion a year.  And yet we’re not better off for it.”

 

In some cases bad teachers contribute to poor student performance.  Teachers are virtually immune from termination because their unions protect them to prevent dreaded membership reduction.  Instead, incompetent or misbehaving teachers are consigned to a so-called rubber room, often for years, where they do nothing while drawing full salary.  

 

According to The Wall Street Journal, October 14, 2016, Families for Excellent Schools reports “Black and Hispanic students who attend charters in New York City scored nearly three quarters higher than their counterparts at district-run schools.”   This contrast, common throughout the country, is proof positive of an incompetent or corrupt public school bureaucracy. 

 

Explanation for the abdication

 

Apathetic parents

 

Why has educational deterioration gone unchecked?  One reason is that recent generations of parents have fully acquiesced to the indoctrination of their children because they too endured it in school. What’s more, cultural changes abetted by mass media have democratized poor education such that reading is practically passé. Generations of academic standards erosion, cultural rot, and the aggression of teachers unions have produced docile parents.  They do not question academic decline because they themselves do not know what constitutes a quality education.  School boards populated by these parents and infiltrated by liberal political operatives offer little resistance.  Hence, there is little demand for excellence in education.  In fact, some boards are known to furtively ally themselves with the teachers unions and the teachers in a united front against parents and students as they rubber stamp union contracts and resist productive reform.

 

Political indoctrination

 

The left capitalizes on parental capitulation to indoctrinate students so they grow up less than truly educated, and therefore less intellectually capable of recognizing the harm of power hungry government and the liberal agenda.  Liberal operatives in the U.S. Department of Education and their counterparts in the states control textbook content and teaching modalities through politically motivated mandates.  School administrators as agents of the left implement its agenda, locally slanting and diluting curricula and conceding to weaker student performance standards in an egalitarian spirit.  Since when have scholarship and excellence been policy objectives in the public schools?  (To be sure, the better teachers decry this state of affairs.)

 

As mentioned, armed with billions of dollars of union dues, the teachers unions buy Democratic politicians with campaign donations in exchange for writing favorable legislation and directing budget appropriations their way.  In addition, the unions fight Republican opponents through negative ads at election time.  Fearing this power of the carrot and the stick, too many pols refrain from criticizing politicized curricula, poor student performance, and excessive concessions to teacher salaries, benefits and pensions.  At the same time, progressive Democratic politicians advance the liberal agenda writ large with the help of union campaign contributions that keep them in office.  Time was when teachers considered themselves professionals who scoffed at unionization as meant only for blue collar workers.  That was before politics and monetary interests supplanted academic excellence.  To be fair, the political left imposed unionization on the teachers in the 1960s.  The unions have had a hammer lock on the profession and the body politic ever since.

 

The welfare of students is purely ancillary to the power of the unions and school administrations in their quest for political control over formative minds at the behest of liberal politicians in Washington and the state capitals.  In fact, an industry joke has one union official saying, “We’ll care about the kids when they start paying dues.”  As a consequence, political indoctrination and diluted education ensure students will not challenge liberal orthodoxy as adults, and even embrace it by voting Democratic.  The huge achievement gap between public school students and their counterparts in charter schools and in other countries is testament to this fraud on children and, indeed, American civilization.

 

The Effects

 

A refuge from truth and reality

 

            The hijacking of education by the left has had many adverse effects.  On college campuses political correctness imposed by progressive operatives and abetted by the liberal group-think of the professoriate has infected impressionable students.  It has resulted in absurd majors and paper topics predicated on a notion of ultimate egalitarianism and identity politics.  The commandment not to offend, however unintentionally, has eradicated academic freedom, the hallmark of the traditional university. In addition, the mandate has engendered the hyper-parsing of language, such as avoiding gender specific pronouns, so not to invoke the remotest implication of differentiation, transgression, or microaggression.  Naïve, brainwashed students banish or shout down conservative speakers and vilify like-minded fellow students.  Witness the recent violent protests at the University of California, Berkley against a conservative speaker from Breitbart news in reaction to the activities of the new Trump administration.  The following day the same outrage transpired at New York University.

 

Students and professors call for “trigger warnings” and “safe spaces” to protect them from the trauma of dissent. Cowardly public college authorities cave to their demands for fear of losing their jobs or funding from leftist government sources.  Private schools also acquiesce to unruly denizens to avoid media opprobrium for political incorrectness.  Curricula are fraught with sops to political identity groups while much traditional intellectual inquiry has disappeared resulting in too many shallow indoctrinated students.  Even law schools have jettisoned much traditional legal instruction for leftist indoctrination, which is manifest in many court decisions.

 

            Primary and secondary schools engage in social promotion, even graduating illiterates.  They tolerate violent behavior, even assaults on teachers, citing disadvantaged upbringing and alternative cultures as excuses.  Yet, faux violence is condemned.  For example, a diner owner told me parents accompanied by children tell him not to show Fox News on the diner television because it exposes the young ones to violence.  What?  Might the teachers and administrators be behind this propaganda?  Meanwhile, test scores and graduation rates stagnate at grossly unsatisfactory levels.  In extreme cases of academic failure the state takes control of local schools.  Of course, these problems largely derive from the pathological backgrounds of the student populations mainly in the inner cities.  But academic and behavioral discipline could improve student performance as charter schools have demonstrated.  Nonetheless, education authorities dismiss this remedy as impolitic.

 

Government interference

 

Mandates, funding and propaganda

 

            A symbiosis between academia and government has produced a monolithic political force with far reaching social implications.  The Department of Education in Washington DC has become increasingly intrusive on local schools as it dictates pedagogy and curricula.  Notable examples are President Obama’s Common Core program and President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind initiative which have yielded an unorthodox teaching-to-the test mentality.  In addition, federal and state authorities impose politically motivated mandates, including transgender restrooms. 

 

Schools and colleges depend on federal grants.  College students depend on federal loans and myriad repayment accommodation.  Graduates carry their indoctrination into the work force and the families they create, and vote accordingly.  Academia at large promotes the liberal agenda that celebrates government intervention, including many private colleges fraught with liberal professors.  As a result, education is shrouded by government influenced indoctrination that permeates the social order to the extent that students transfer it to their adult lives.  At the very least, the liberal group-think assures a lot of Democratic votes.

 

As a consequence, government grows bigger and more powerful on the backs of taxpayers and at the expense of individual freedoms.  Schools and colleges are obsessed with promoting unassailable diversity, environmentalism and the rest of the “progressive” canon in concert with the liberal political establishment and the media.  Education authorities even go along with the feminist left’s emasculation campaign that neutralizes gender in grammar schools and criminalizes college men for unsubstantiated sexual offenses arising from a faux rape epidemic. At the same time, the teachers unions push for pre-school programs to create more jobs for dues paying teachers.

 

            Ironically, the education that used to safeguard against government tyranny now accommodates it by creating a widespread predisposition to the liberal agenda.   Academic deterioration fostered by the body politic, media and the education establishment has harvested an apathetic citizenry and a gullible electorate that puts the nation’s liberty and prosperity at risk as America is dumbed down.

 

            Employers have to hire more qualified foreign workers, especially for high-skilled technology jobs, as too many American graduates cannot read, write and compute adequately.  Hence, the corporate demand for much higher H-1B visa caps established by the states.  (Cheaper labor accounts for this too.)  But to the satisfaction of the left, foreign hiring promotes diversity and holds back indigenous Americans making them more reliant on government largesse. 

 

Is the American education deficit a deliberate tactic of the left to garner allegiance?  Arguably, the less educated, marginalized by restricted employment opportunities and lower income, are more amenable to government assistance, and therefore more likely to support big government candidates at the ballot box.  As such, government encroachment on the private sector is not as objectionable to them.  Indeed, an academically limited student denied career aspiration more likely leads to a Democratic voter as an adult.

 

Escape routes

 

The charter school movement

 

            Short of reforming the public education system, the solution is to bypass it through school choice programs encompassing a voucher system, charter schools, and home schooling that do not involve teachers unions.  At the college level, conservative institutions, such as Hillsdale College and Liberty University which operate without any government funding, are excellent academic models.  Alternative education restores traditional curricula and performance standards and embraces civics, history and the humanities as constituted in the Great Books that capture the essence of Western culture.

 

Developing disaffection with failing public schools, even among once acquiescent parents, has created increasing political pressure in support of free public charter schools and vouchers to attend private institutions.  Inner city minority children as the primary victims of failed traditional public education are the greatest beneficiaries of alternative schooling.  Indeed, their parents covet precious few available charter school seats limited by the political clout of teachers unions over elected officials who determine their number.  Although regulation requires charter schools to admit students of all academic proficiencies and be accountable for performance, the absence of union influence gives them an advantage.  The unions fight fiercely to protect their turf from decimation caused by student transfers to charter schools.  Nonetheless, charter schools are growing.  In New Orleans 92% of students are enrolled in them. 

 

Political and union resistance to charter schools

 

But overall, the teachers unions still prevail even though charter schools usually produce eminently better results at a fraction of the cost, including dramatically higher SAT scores.  David Leonhardt in The New York Times, November 6, 2016, cites Paray Pathak, an M.I.T. professor who studies Boston’s charter schools.  He claims, “On average, Boston’s charters eliminate between one-third and one-half of the white-black test scores gap in a single year.”  School boards sometimes retaliate against the charters by withholding student bus service, for example, out of a concealed allegiance to, or fear of, the teachers union.

 

Migration away from regular public schools results in lower enrollment and therefore fewer dues paying teachers.  Theoretically, competition from charter schools should force public schools to improve and reverse the defections.  Yet, critics insist student transfers undermine the viability of the public school system.  But more importantly to them, they threaten the monopoly power of the teachers unions, a major source of campaign funding for liberal candidates running for public office.  The left will not let go of this bastion.  

 

The teachers unions are on the ropes, especially in urban areas where black parents demand the charter school alternative to woefully failing public schools.  And some of the better teachers are leaving the profession in disgust.  But Democrats in Congress, including black members, have long resisted this demonstrably successful path to better education.  That is because they are beholden to the teachers unions for political donations which help to sustain their tenure, and in turn, the liberal agenda through legislation and funding. 

 

Recently, the teachers unions called in all their chips to defeat President Trump’s Department of Education nominee, Betsy De Vos, a champion of charter schools.  In this fight, even some charter school advocates publicly opposed her in the fatuous hope of some relief from union opposition to their own schools in the future.  Notably, presidential aspirant Senator Cory Booker, who was a leading advocate for charter schools as Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, led the charge in the Senate to defeat Ms. De Vos.  Ironically, Newark public schools are so bad they were taken over by the state.  Fortunately, the Senate confirmed Ms. De Vos 51-50 including an unprecedented vote by vice president Pence to break the tie. 

 

What is the standard for a good education?

 

            What kind of education does one who escapes a bad public school hope for?  What is a good education?

 

Liberal arts

 

The model school and college require diverse curricula and strong performance standards that develop integrative and critical thinking skills through rigorous reading, writing and computing as exemplified by the aforementioned Great Books of yore.  As an enhancement, musical instruction for those inclined should be available.  Teachers unions need not apply.  Teaching certification should be available to exceptionally accomplished professionals in relevant fields without the requisite “education” credits.

 

Of course, at the college level the humanities raise the specter of the much maligned liberal arts program that employers have rejected in favor of commercial specialties having direct applications in business.  This transition started in the early 1970s in response to a plethora of baby boomer graduates, including women beginning to enter the work force en masse.  Employers sought to cull the herd by giving priority to business degrees which are putatively more amenable to a ready adaptation to commercial needs. 

 

But the ability to think holistically, communicate, and critique effectively, the hallmark of the liberal arts education, facilitates the acquisition of specialized knowledge in business.  These qualities also produce societal gentility and personal edification for a better civilization otherwise overpopulated by Philistines.  Indeed, even in college, a preoccupation with prospective employment income and return on investment can be misguided.  That said, given the cost of higher education and the desire for economic comfort, acquiring expertise based on commercial demand is an important practical consideration.  The disparaged well-educated server at Starbucks has become a metaphor for the dissenter.  Yet, perhaps most graduates have always worked in fields wholly unrelated to their college major.  Moreover, nearly half of new graduates work in jobs that do not require a degree, according to a 2014 report of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York cited by Jeffrey J. Selingo in The Wall Street Journal, May 27, 2016.

 

The education/employment nexus

 

So, where is the education-occupation intersection?  Students choose inappropriate degrees.  Employers apply inappropriate hiring criteria.  A paucity of qualified job candidates leave employers in the lurch.  Better coordination between schools and employers as to needed skills and knowledge might help at the vocational level.  In recent years, a concern for gainful employability consistent with employer needs sparked a new emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the schools, so-called STEM subjects.  Is the old liberal arts standard which says better thinkers are better on the job learners a better option after all?  That would require convincing employers.

 

            Parochial schools have been a good alternative to left-leaning, union dominated public schools for a long time.  But declining enrollment from a secular disaffection with religious affiliation, the priest scandals, and the attendant drop in financial resources have diminished their influence. To some extent, charter schools cannibalize the religious schools and move into their buildings after they shut down.

 

            Some support the federal Common Core program because it applies higher academic standards.  But many students and their parents opt out of it as too revolutionary.  For example, it teaches a more conceptualized approach to arithmetic in grammar school as an alternative to traditional times tables and long division.  In Common Core, one might think of 15 times 11as 15 times 10 equals 150, plus one more 15 yields 165.  Memorized times tables and rote carrying of units to an adjoining column are not necessary.  The problem is, while a valid technique, one develops this numerical facility only later with experience.  Better to teach the traditional method and expose the right students to the alternative as an optional supplement.   

 

For the less intellectually inclined, vocational training prepares students for a variety of occupations in great demand that make for fine livelihoods.  For-profit institutions fill this niche but they have a problematic history.  Many of these vocational schools have misled students about employment prospects and capitalize on government loans available to applicants. (Trump University comes to mind.)  In fact, the Obama administration was intent on shutting down the industry as predatory on the poor, including many returning veterans.  These schools should issue a standard caveat, prominently displayed, that applicants far exceed available jobs and that securing one is a virtual lottery.  Alternatively, for-profit schools should accept only referrals from employers who have expressed a need for the specialty provided.  Nonetheless, vocational training can crystalize one’s interest and provide a general knowledge of a market and industry structure that can help a student decide on a career and navigate a job search.  

 

In any case, there is no place for political indoctrination in any curriculum, including political correctness, unless advertised as such.  For example, the aforementioned Hillsdale College and Liberty University are openly dedicated to conservative teaching.  But a knowledge of the principles embodied in the U.S. Constitution and their application in history should be taught in every program.  In fact, it is essential to defeat the left and preserve the nation.  That is why the subject matter was dropped from so many public schools.

 

The Buffalo, New York Case

 

            Carl Paladino is a member of the Buffalo Public Schools Board of Education, and was the Republican New York State gubernatorial nominee in 2010.  He issued a telling report in January 2017 entitled, “How Union President Rumore Co-opted the Buffalo School Board and Rigged the Teacher’s Contract”.  While the dysfunction described here may not be typical, it is certainly symptomatic of what plagues secondary public education administratively. 

 

Administrative incompetence and corruption

 

Mr. Paladino discusses the collusion between the Board and the teachers union that pits them directly against the interests of parents and students.  The union gets the upper hand because of a less than 5% electorate turnout at Board elections held in May while teachers vote in large numbers for pro-union candidates.  The union finances friendly candidates for the Board and makes suspected payoffs for their cooperation in negotiations.  Diversity preferences and nepotism supersede merit in Board hiring, assigning and promoting, and the race card is at the ready when school and Board officials are challenged.  School principals fabricate grades and graduation rates. Student violence goes unpunished in deference to what is called “restorative justice”.  

 

The teachers union refuses to render any fiscal concession in negotiations despite the precariousness of the system’s finances with deficit budgets every year in what Mr. Paladino cites as the third poorest city in the country.  The union would not even agree to phase out over 30 years a lifetime private health care benefit for all administrators and teachers that is alternative to available Medicare.  Buffalo spends $27,000 per student for severe student underperformance while other schools in the area spend generally $12,000 - $15,000 with much better results.  What’s more, a Buffalo construction board official is under investigation by the FBI concerning a missing $450 million of a $1.5 billion school bond issue.

 

            Progressive ideology is destroying education, but so is incompetent and corrupt administration.

 

Assessment

 

Is educational failure deliberate?  Some of the deterioration is ideological imposed by the Democratic Party through its federal, state and local operatives.  The Department of Education exercises control over funding to the states which may be contingent on certain political compliance.  It also influences curricula.  Political correctness and indoctrination combined with academic dilution are so pervasively extreme as to suggest a conspiratorial force in certain quarters.  How can there be such a performance disparity between public schools and their charter school and international counterparts, not to mention a longitudinal comparison, despite massively more spending?  It cannot all be teacher incompetence. 

 

More likely, the failure is founded on a withholding of academic content and standards.  To what end?  Why would authorities rewrite and suppress American history, for example, other than to undermine the underpinnings of the republic in favor of the Marxist globalist view, especially in the colleges?  As mentioned, the symbiosis between academia and the body politic, with a big assist from the media, diminishes the minds of America over generations as to defuse any challenge to what would be a new order.

 

            The education problem also has an administrative component controlled by the teachers unions which vigorously resist needed reform, effectively abetting the liberal sabotage in the schools.  The unions fund the Democratic Party and thereby promote its agenda.  In turn, the politicians protect union interests through legislation and government expenditures, including many cowardly Republicans fearing union retaliation.  In effect, the ideological and the administrative components come together.  

 

Fighting back

 

            As President Trump’s election showed, the power of the people still can win the day in this country.  That is what is needed to transform the institutional ideological and administrative malaise in schools and colleges that has undermined education.  Advanced technology and foreign competition in the marketplace and the workplace put a premium on quality education as a means of ensuring a good standard of living.  And continued automation restricts even those employment opportunities.  As such, these structural changes in the workplace probably will result in greater income inequality as the less educated are disadvantaged.  

 

But by defusing the leftist propaganda machine that is the public education system, and by restoring academic standards, there is hope for a return to traditional education.  That will help to ensure a body politic that will support a growing economy and attendant employment opportunities that would ameliorate the adverse effect of intractable structural change in the economy.  This means ending the liberal indoctrination perpetrated by professors, administrators and politicians, and dismantling entrenched union opposition to necessary reform.

 

Where regular schools fail to reform, Americans must strive for optimal school choice and hold elected officials accountable at the ballot box to ensure quality education that is codified in legislation.  And the locus of power must return to the states and local communities.  Charter schools have made enormous progress and the climate is amenable for more.  Academic freedom and rigorous curricula must be restored and executed in the schools.  One example of resistance at the college level is Turning Point USA which compiles a “Professor Watchlist” that publicly exposes college professors who discriminate against conservatives.  College alumni should withhold donations from schools that insist on propagating liberal orthodoxy and suppressing free speech.  Education traditionalists must populate school boards.  And ongoing public caterwauling is necessary to spur corrective action by the education establishment.  Silence is not golden.

 

Ideal reform would result in de-politicized classrooms, textbooks and campuses and the demise of the teachers unions, as well as the Department of Education.

 

                                                                                                ©2017 William J. Dodwell




FINANCE & THE ECOMOMY

 
By William J. Dodwell    August 27, 2015

            Buried in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) of 2010 overshadowed by the public hoopla concerning government’s takeover of health care is a totally unrelated provision that further empowers government at great expense to the public fisc.  This companion legislation, called the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, renders the U.S. Department of Education the direct lender for almost all prospective federal student loans, greatly reducing the role of banks.  At present, the government loan portfolio stands at $1.3 trillion representing 43 million borrowers, including loans originated before the PPACA.  Student loan debt now is second only to mortgages among household liabilities, exceeding credit cards and auto loans. 

 

Under federal control, the student loan program is gradually metastasizing in a move from monthly payment forbearance to loan forgiveness, and ultimately to ongoing free taxpayer-funded college education for all.  No doubt, many borrowers are delaying or stopping monthly payments in anticipation of eventual forgiveness.  Jason Delisle of the New America Foundation writes in The Wall Street Journal that 20% of borrowers are in default.  This is despite an average income-based loan forgiveness of $41,000 per borrower and $125 billion of total forbearance involving up to three years of deferred monthly payments.

 

Misleading financial reporting by the U.S. Department of Education

 

To date, the federal student loan program has been reportedly quite profitable overall as gains from loans to graduate students and parents more than offset the losses on the undergraduate and for-profit portfolios.  In fact, profits derive almost entirely from loans to parents and graduate students, including medical and law school borrowers, who are better credit risks having good income prospects that ensure repayment.  But is the student loan program really profitable?  It may be on a net interest margin basis where the government receives more interest from borrowers than interest it pays on Treasury debt.  Indeed, loan interest rates range from 2 to 4.5 percentage points above the loan comparable Treasury note, with graduate students and parents paying more than undergraduates. 

 

But the Department of Education is notorious for obfuscating detailed information on loan delinquencies and defaults, as well as payment deferrals and forgiveness, a charge even levied by Douglas Elmendorf, the former Democratic CBO director.  Susan Dynarski, professor of economics, education and public policy at the University of Michigan, and former advisor to the Obama administration, wrote about the Department of Education’s information brownout in the New York Times on March 22, 2015.  She says the Federal Reserve Bank, the Treasury, the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as well as private organizations seek demographic loan detail to detect student debt patterns threatening households and the economy.  In addition, they want to quantify and foresee impending losses in order to intervene with borrower relief.  But available data are highly limited, as is financial reporting on profitability.  Unlike voluminous mortgage data now compiled by the government in the aftermath of the financial crisis, student loan demographics and true performance are largely aggregated and shrouded in secrecy by the Department of Education. 

 

Historically, the government has been loath to publicize real student loan default rates, even under previous federal direct loan and guarantee programs.  What’s more, it refuses to outsource detailed analytics to other agencies or private firms.  As a consequence, the information dearth conceals the growing losses and economic impact of the student loan program.  Could it be that the truth about loan defaults would prevent the program’s expansion and galvanize opposition against proposed loan forgiveness and free college education as a new entitlement?  Fortunately, Congress is on to the charade.  Representative Tom Price (R., Ga.) and Senator Mike Enzi (R., Wyo.) are trying to get the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to adopt true “fair value accounting” for student loans where performance is accurately evaluated as it is by banks, particularly with respect to defaults.  But big government politicos resist this initiative.

 

Federal accounting vs. bank accounting

 

Measuring student loan losses according to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) adopted by private banks transforms government reported profits to huge deficits.  In so doing, the CBO’s projected $135 billion profit for the ten year period 2015-2024 converts to a $1.9 trillion loss according to the table below.  Consider the 13% default rate (in dollars) of 2013 and 2014 reported by the Department of Education applied to a growing $1.3 trillion portfolio.  After deducting defaulted balances that apparently are not removed from the loan book contrary to bank accounting, and deducting balances in forbearance (non-paying loans because of deferred payment allowances and pre-graduation), the default rate suggests a $122 billion default loss in 2015 alone.  This loss increases commensurately over time with the size of the portfolio.  Adding an estimated $28 billion for net interest income, the projected 2015 operating loss amounts to $94 billion on a GAAP basis.

 

The reason for the profitability discrepancy is that federal accounting adopts a net present value method of computing profit and loss rather than cost-based accounting employed by banks.  Present value accounting involves forecasting all future net cash flows for the remaining duration of each loan, going out up to 20 years or more.  That forecast aggregates loan outlays with scheduled principal repayments and interest received, and incorporates a deduction for actual defaults, as well as consideration for prepayment patterns and default recoveries.  Then the government discounts those future cash flows to present value at a rate that is supposed to account for estimated default risk over the future life of the loans attributable to changing macroeconomic conditions.  The resulting net present value is compared to that of the previous period to determine profit or loss.  A higher present value denotes a profit for the current period, a lower one a loss.

 

  1. Understated discount rate

     

    In the process, the discount rate the CBO applies is a prescribed Treasury note rate that corresponds to the duration of each loan to capture credit risk.  This would consider the probability that higher interest rates and other factors will weigh on the economy to precipitate spikes in unemployment that trigger some permanent nonpayment.  But even the CBO openly acknowledges that the riskless Treasury discount rate is not a realistic proxy for default risk.  As a consequence, reported student loan profitability is significantly inflated.

     

    An appropriately higher discount rate would reduce the net present value such that it would turn reported profits to sizable losses.  For example, consider the non-partisan CBO’s recently projected $135 billion profit in the 10-year period 2015-2024.  By applying a discount rate 1.5% higher than the Treasury rate, the CBO projects an $88 billion loss, a $223 billion swing.  But the Department of Education’s reported 2013 and 2014 default rate of 13% reflected a degree of risk that would warrant a much higher discount rate than, say, the riskless 2.5% 10-year Treasury note, and seemingly even the higher risk-adjusted rate the CBO adopted.  The discount rate is supposed to reasonably anticipate principal and interest payments that are not forthcoming because of defaults. A higher discount rate translates to a lower present value that would establish a greater loss.  

     

    But the Federal Credit Reform Act (FCRA) of 1990 requires a loan-comparable Treasury rate be applied in setting the discount rate, regardless of its irrelevance, and it cannot be changed without an act of Congress.  As a consequence, the Department of Education has reported annual profits for the new direct loan program since inception in 2010. As noted, political resistance to changing the law in order to determine the real cost of the student loan program is considerable.  

     

  2. No “true-up” of estimated defaults to actual defaults

     

                But the distortion is more than an understated discount rate.  In federal accounting promulgated by the FCRA, an actual default is not “trued  up” against the previous, typically understated, default estimate incorporated in the discount rate.  For example, if a default is estimated as $100 and the eventual actual default is $150, a bank recognizes an additional $50 loss in current earnings upon occurrence, but the federal budget does not.  Rather, in subsequent periods estimated default rates for remaining loans are assessed in discounting future cash flows, but are never replaced by actual default losses when they occur.  If the government discounts for a 7% default rate when the actual rate is 13%, the difference should be accounted for in the budget.  In bank accounting, the balance sheet identifies the original loan amount ($150) and the contra cumulative provision representing periodic estimated defaults ($100).  Upon actual default, the net of those two balances ($50) is charged to income automatically truing up the difference between actual and estimated defaults.  Because the government does not adopt this practice, defaults are understated in the budget. 

  3. Understated recognition of defaults on a present discounted value basis

                In addition, while a defaulted loan is removed from the future net cash flow computation, it is recognized in the current period only on a present value basis, a fraction of the full value a bank would recognize in earnings.  The rest of the default amount is effectively amortized over the remaining life of the loan.  For example, to isolate defaults, assume future net cash flows are fixed at $100,000.  At a discount rate of 13% over ten years the present value would be $29,459.  If $10,000 were removed from the cash flows because of default, the remaining $90,000 over 9 remaining years would be discounted to $29,960 vs. $33,288 if there were no default.  This values the default at only $3,328 in the current budget, only some 33% of the whole loss.  The rest of the default, $6,672, would be recognized at a 13% discount each year over the successively smaller remaining life, that is, over a waning number of periods.  This amortization process also applies to the periodic default estimate implied in the discount rate.  That would be a 13% discount on the original $100,000, and then a 13% discount on the remaining $90,000 after the actual default, and so on for each successive period until each loan expires.  A bank would recognize the entire $10,000 actual default in current earnings, as well as full valued interim general default estimates.   

                The amortization of defaults in the CBO present value model is the most significant reason for the huge variance with GAAP default recognition and student loan profitability.  Simply increasing the discount rate does not nearly correct the distortion concealing the real taxpayer losses imposed by the program.  In fact, even a substantially overstated discount rate would still inflate annual profits because of default amortization inherent in the present value methodology.

                Banks do adopt present value accounting to value illiquid securities and bank loans offered for sale in the absence of available market prices.  In doing so, they assess a discount rate that incorporates interest-rate risk to account for the effect of higher interest rates on asset valuation, in addition to a rate for defaults. The resulting change in the net present value from the previous period represents the current profit or loss.  But ordinarily, banks carry loans at cost, accrue interest, assess an estimate of defaults as a percentage of the loan balance and fully charge it against current earnings.  In GAAP accounting, once an asset is depleted, as a defaulted loan is, it cannot be amortized because there is no value to recognize.  Any remaining value is written off.  By analogy, equipment is depreciated over its remaining useful life because value is realized through its continued use, and thereafter salvage value may be recognized.  But if the equipment is destroyed, the remaining book value is entirely charged to earnings as the asset is disposed. 

                While the government removes a defaulted payment from the discounting process that determines profit and loss, it does not appear to remove defaulted balances from its portfolio.  (The federal government does not compile a formal balance sheet.)   Consequently, the reported loan balance that has been increasing 15% a year for more than a decade is inflated by bank standards.  As such, in government accounting a defaulted loan in the portfolio balance is the same as a regular delinquent balance, except that it is more than 270 days overdue.  Reyna Gobel reported in Forbes.com on 9/28/14:

  It takes at least 9 months of non-payment for a default

to take place and show up on one’s student loan record

    and credit report.  The default rate has nothing to do with

whether borrowers will default later while on repayment
plans that can last up to 30 years.

                 The rationale for keeping a defaulted loan in the portfolio, and perhaps the reason for an understated discount rate, may be that the government is more optimistic about eventual recovery because of its special leverage to garnish wages, as well as withhold tax refunds and disability benefits.  In addition, liberal repayment plans that may extend for decades create expectations of eventual collections.  The percentage of recoveries on loans delinquent more than 270 days is not known.  Banks sometimes adopt this “extend and pretend” posture to put off costly write-offs but it usually is ill advised.

                In short, banks record an estimated provision for default losses each period based both on a percentage of the loan portfolio and on certain specific troubled loan information.  That estimate is fully deducted from net interest margin to determine profitability.  Separately, loans and accrued interest receivable recorded in the balance sheet are reduced by principal and interest payments, and as mentioned, by actual defaults.  Notably, a defaulted loan balance is removed from the bank’s loan book and fully charged to earnings in the period in which it is declared, less any amount previously recognized in the cumulative provision for credit losses on the balance sheet (a “true up”).  Banks to some degree recover amounts deemed in default but generally do not count on it, hence the immediate write-off.  As such, the difference between federal government and private bank accounting regarding the recognition of loan defaults results in a huge variance in reported profitability. (See the table below.) 

                For a true accounting to taxpayers, the government should adopt current fair value bank accounting that recognizes immediate and full recognition of defaults in the period of occurrence.  This yields more accurate profitability than a current valuation of future values that depends on somewhat subjective discount rates.  If the present value method is retained, the government should at least mitigate distorted reporting by incorporating a discount rate commensurate with real default risk, and replace estimated defaults with actual defaults upon occurrence.

Banks don’t want risk-laden student loans

                Unpalatable credit risk is largely why the government had to guarantee student loans to interest banks in participating in the market prior to the current direct loan program.  Then how is it that student loans now are more profitable under government’s control when its lending criteria are practically unrestricted below a household income of $200,000?  As explained, it is because defaults are substantially understated in budget results according to inappropriate prescribed present value methodology required by the FCRA. 

                Nevertheless, misinformed media tout the student loan program as profitable.  On that basis, Jeffrey Dorfman wrote in Forbes.com in April 2014 about the CBO’s then projected $127 billion profit over the next 10 years.  On the assumption that the profit is real, he argues that this business should go to the banks, which would covet such lucrative operations, rather than fund other government spending.  Problem is, as noted, the banks would impose appropriate credit standards that would exclude a certain number of needy borrowers, while the government wants to lend to everyone who wants to go to college.  Banks also would assess realistic credit losses against profits and recognize actual defaults entirely in the current period as required by corporate accounting rules.  And Dorfman points out the banks would securitize their loans to reduce risk and facilitate more profitable lending, which government believes would lead to another financial crisis.   

                Since bank practices are anathema to government’s interest and its goal of establishing college education as another entitlement, government is not likely to surrender its newly acquired fiefdom.  Nor would the banks want such an enterprise so unprofitable by their standards.  At the same time, some propose presumed government profits be applied to lower interest rates for borrowers.  Does the Department of Education resist this student accommodation because it knows it cannot afford to do so because the program is not really profitable?

Doing the math

The current student loan program

                Consider current student loan costs as a function of Treasury financing, collection delinquencies, deferments, defaults, and forgiveness, as well as growing loan volume.  According to the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, the student loan portfolio grew 15% a year from 2003-2014.  Projecting that rate over the ten year period 2015-2024, the current $1.3 trillion government loan portfolio would double about every six years and triple in nine years, as collections likely decline.  (As noted, the loan balance appears inflated by defaulted balances that are not removed from the loan book, unlike banks.)   

                Applying the current 13% default rate to the loan balance, adjusted for loans that may not be due because of forbearance, and for default balances that have not been removed, annual defaults would amount to $122 billion in 2015 and compound annually at 13% as the total loan balance increases 15% a year.  Coupled with an assumed 3% net interest margin profit, this amounts to taxpayer net losses of $635 billion in the next five years and $1.914 trillion in ten years. And this is in addition to existing federal grant programs for which $323 billion was spent in the 2004-2013 period according to the College Board, as well as guarantee claims on legacy private bank loans under the previous student loan program.

                The table below reflects a pro forma fair value GAAP presentation of projected annual student loan operating losses for the period 2015-2024 as a bank would report it.  The loan balance is assumed to grow 15% annually from the current $1.3 trillion.  The assumed annual default rate is 13% of the loan balance reduced for past defaults not removed and for forbearance which is assumed to be 16% of loans annually.  Both rates reflect recent history according to the Department of Education. 

Pro Forma GAAP-Based Profitability 2015-2024

($billions)                                                     

Year end

Loan balance

growing at

@ 15% annually a

 

Reverse current year defaults at 13%

(divide balance by 1.13)

Adjusted loan balance

(without defaulted balances)

Reverse loans in forbearance from original loan balance

at 16% b

Adjusted loan balance growing

@15% annually

Current year defaults @ 13% of adjusted loan balance c

Net interest

 margin @ 3%

 of adjusted

loan balance d

Operating profit/(loss)

(net interest margin less current year defaults)

2015

1,300

(150)

1,150

(208)

942

(122)

28

(94)

2016

1,495

(172)

1,323

(239)

1,084

(141)

33

(108)

2017

1,719

(198)

1,521

(275)

1,246

(162)

37

(125)

2018

1,977

(227)

1,750

(316)

1,434

(186)

43

(143)

2019

2,274

(262)

2,012

(364)

1,648

(214)

49

(165)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Subtotal

 

(1,009)

 

(1,402)

 

(825)

190

(635)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2020

2,615

(301)

2,314

(418)

1,896

(246)

57

(189)

2021

3,007

(346)

2,661

(481)

2,180

(283)

65

(218)

2022

3,458

(398)

3,060

(553)

2,507

(326)

75

(251)

2023

3,977

(458)

3,519

(636)

2,883

(375)

86

(289)

2024

4,573

(526)

4,047

(732)

3,315

(431)

99

(332)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total

 

(3,038)

 

(4,222)

 

(2,486)

572

(1,914)


           a.   Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas reported 15% annual outstanding loan balance growth from 2003-2014.

           b.   U.S. Department of Education 2014 Q4.  Forbearance refers to non-paying loans because of deferred payment or loans that are not due because of                     the pre-graduation status of the borrower.

            c. U.S. Department of Education 2014 default rate.  Denominator excludes loans in deferment status.

            d. Net margin is affected by delinquencies and income-based payments.  Currently, new loan rates average about 5% vs. about a 2% average 10-year                 Treasury borrowing rate.  Loan rates change periodically according to market interest rates. 

 

                Comparative profitability models appear below for the ten-year period 2015-2024.

  • $135 billion profit – currently projected by the CBO based on an acknowledged understated Treasury discount rate required by the Federal Credit Reform Act that greatly underestimates default risk.
  • $88 billion loss – projected by the CBO adopting its fair value discount rate. This is 1.5% higher than the Treasury rate and presumably reflects its standard of reasonable default risk.  The CBO does not substitute actual default amounts for understated default estimates when computing future cash flows (“true up”).  In addition, only the present discounted value of actual and estimated defaults is recognized in the current period.
  • $1.91 trillion loss – projected here applying generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) adopted by private banks.  Most importantly, actual and estimated defaults are entirely recognized in the current period, unlike CBO reporting that effectively reflects defaults in the budget only at present discounted value while amortizing the balance over the remaining life of the loan.  Here net losses derive from a current accrual of net interest income at 3% of the adjusted loan portfolio, and from a general provision for default losses based on 13% of the adjusted loan balance, reflecting actual default experience of recent years.

 

Reconciling CBO profitability with GAAP reporting

 

Quantifying the vast difference between CBO’s $88 billion loss and the $1.9 trillion loss computed here, not to mention the official $135 billion profit, is less than precise because of somewhat opaque government accounting, especially regarding defaults.  For example, a CBO document entitled “Fair Value Accounting for Federal Programs” states,

 

The models that (government) agencies use to project

cash flows generally are not made public now, so the

transparency of current FCRA estimates is limited.

 

But clearly the disparity lies in government discount rates that reflect understated default risk estimates, and in the fact that those estimates are not replaced by higher actual default amounts in the budget.  Moreover, the CBO recognizes only the present value of those understated default estimates and actual defaults in the current period.  By contrast, the conventional GAAP balance sheet accrual and revaluation approach presented here and adopted by banks recognizes a full 13% estimated general default rate in earnings based on recent experience, and records any actual default amounts entirely in the period in which they occur less previous estimates.

 

Specifically, the CBO model reflects putative defaults totaling $660 billion in the ten year period, implying only a 3.5% default rate as a percentage of the average portfolio balance (adjusted for forbearance and previous defaults), versus a 13% default rate in this analysis.

 

1,914 net loss (GAAP) vs. 88 net loss (CBO) = 1,826 difference

 

2,486 defaults (GAAP) – 1,826  =  660 CBO defaults

(Assumes the entire net loss difference is attributed to defaults.)

 

660 CBO defaults       =     66 average annual defaults

  10 years

 

1,883 = average projected loan balance over ten years (adjusted for forbearance)

 

66 average annual defaults (CBO)                             =          3.5% default rate

1,883 average projected loan balance over ten years

 

2,486  GAAP defaults                        =          249 average annual defaults  

10 years

 

249 average annual defaults (GAAP)             =                     13.2% default rate     

            1,883

 

 

Differences in the net interest margin profit attributable to spread assumptions may also contribute slightly to the variance with CBO.  But the discrepancy centers primarily on default assumptions.  Not included in the analysis are annual administrative costs which amount to about 1.7% of loan issuance according to Jason Delisle of the New America Foundation. That would amount to some $20 billion over a ten year period.

 

            Absent default recovery data, the analysis assumes that the government collects no recoveries on loans delinquent more than 270 days, so the results could be exaggerated somewhat.  But even if the $1.9 trillion projected operating loss were halved, which is beyond conservative, it still would be more than ten times the adjusted $88 billion loss reported by the CBO.

 

Comparing the growing student debt bubble with the subprime mortgage crisis

 

            For perspective it is fitting to consider how the looming student loan bubble compares and contrasts with the subprime mortgage crisis of 2008. 

 

Subprime mortgage crisis

 

            The genesis of the subprime mortgage crisis was rooted in a widespread politically motivated lowering of lending standards that government imposed on originating banks, as well as on GSEs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac which purchased their mortgages for securitization.  The purpose was to advance government affordable housing policy aimed at increasing home ownership, especially among lower income borrowers.  In time, that exposure magnified as banks accelerated subprime loan issuance beyond even the government mandates in order to profit from jettisoning borrower risk through selling the loans to the GSEs, or by shifting it to investors by means of their own private securitizations.  At the same time home prices soared amid low mortgage rates sustained by accommodative monetary policy that fueled the demand for houses.  Eventually, the sheer magnitude of subprime loans outstanding came to light, especially those held by Fannie and Freddie which had not been fully disclosed, no doubt to avoid alarming the financial markets. 

 

This sudden realization of potential massive defaults devalued related mortgage-backed securities (MBS) held by banks, depleting their capital and precipitating a market liquidity crisis that engendered bank failures and government intervention.  The adverse credit implications of the huge inventory of subprime mortgages also contributed to a dramatic drop in home prices.  This resulted in up to 20% of underwater borrowers, many of whom stopped payments. Meanwhile, banks stopped new lending and foreclosed on homes.  In the ensuing economic downturn, mortgages held by originating banks and those held by institutional investors in the form of private-label mortgage-backed securities suffered mammoth losses that threatened the stability of the financial system.  A concomitant collapse in stock prices compounded the calamity. 

 

Taxpayers bore the losses that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac incurred from guaranteeing defaulted principal and interest payments to investors holding their MBS.  Banks bore the losses from loans they retained and from private-label MBS held in their portfolios that largely diminished their capital base.  At the same time, bank shareholders suffered hugely, as did individuals from impaired MBS held in pension funds, mutual funds and 401(k) accounts.  The GSEs eventually recovered their losses mainly from profits earned while in conservatorship, but also through Department of Justice legal settlements with the banks that sold them mortgages.  Non-agency MBS investors were left to their own devices through limited private lawsuits as they secured no relief from the Department of Justice settlements with the issuing banks.  Some private MBS investors partially recovered some losses by holding their securities in portfolio, while stock investors who did not sell nearly tripled their investment from their lows.  But the economy at large is still struggling for normalization seven years later because of feckless economic policies implemented in the aftermath of the crisis.

 

Student loan excesses

 

            By comparison, low underwriting standards also apply to government student loans, invoking the specter of another wave of defaults, especially amid a slow economic recovery.   Indeed, the government pursues an affordable college education policy for all Americans with little regard for the ability to repay, analogous to the affordable housing policy that triggered the financial crisis.  Meantime, borrower expectations could generate increasing losses as they anticipate growing payment forbearance and eventual forgiveness in a move toward ultimate ongoing free taxpayer-funded college education. 

 

As noted, banks are subject to fair value accounting rules where mortgages are recorded on the balance sheet and assessed a charge to earnings for anticipated credit losses in their public financial reporting.  By contrast, federal student loans are subject to opaque government net present value accounting where default risk is improperly measured, scantly disclosed and probably concealed to avoid political backlash.  As such, defaults are grossly understated in the budget along with discharged debt under new and proposed loan forgiveness programs, largely unbeknownst to the public. 

 

This accounting stealth is akin to hidden exposure fostered by the quiescence of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac regarding the true amount of subprime mortgages in their portfolio.  Misleading student loan disclosure is also analogous to the false imprimatur rating agencies assigned to bank-issued subprime mortgage-backed securities that fooled investors.  Sudden public awareness about the real losses taxpayers incur from the government student loan program could trigger a backlash in the financial markets against tax and borrowing increases needed to fund the added government spending.  What’s more, while taxpayer-funded GSE and bank bailouts were largely repaid, there is little prospect of recovering ongoing defaults and, of course, forgiven student debt is forgone.

 

And, as in the aftermath of the mortgage crisis, predatory credit repair organizations exploit student loan borrowers charging fees for services offered free online by the Department of Education.

 

Subprime mortgages vs. student loans: the aftermath

 

Mark Adelson, former chief credit officer at Standard & Poor’s, estimates subprime mortgage losses at $750 billion to $2 trillion during the crisis in his paper, “The Deeper Causes of the Financial Crisis:  Mortgages Alone Cannot Explain It”, published in the Spring 2013 issue of The Journal of Portfolio Management.  According to the table above, the current 13% default rate on an adjusted $1.3 trillion loan portfolio growing at 15% per year suggests $825 billion of defaults in the next five years and $2.486 trillion in ten years.  And under a loan forgiveness and free education policy, the losses could be multiples of that depending on when it is implemented.  So, the potential damage from the student loan program over time compares with the immediate impact of the subprime loan crisis.  However, Mr. Adelson estimates the broader impact of the subprime crisis, including the plunge in world stock prices and the prospective decline in U.S. global GDP, ranges from $5 - $15 trillion.

 

According to Winston W. Chang, Department of Economics SUNY Buffalo, NY, in his paper entitled, “Financial Crisis of 2007-2010”, $1.3 trillion of first-lien subprime mortgage loans were outstanding in March 2007, shortly before the financial crisis.  Those loans were held by the GSEs, banks, non-banks and other institutions primarily in the form of mortgage-backed securities.  Interestingly, this exposure corresponds exactly to the current federal student loan balance. 

 

But unlike mortgage securities losses, federal student loan costs to the taxpayer are ongoing and unrecoverable, especially in view of the prospect of forgiveness and subsequent free education.  Considering a manifold increase in government student loans and rising rates of default and forgiveness over time, losses could eventually exceed the precipitous costs incurred by investors and taxpayers (agency MBS) on mortgage investments during the financial crisis.  But current government student loan accounting suppresses that reality.

 

The subprime mortgage losses triggered a diffuse shot gun-like collapse of MBS, stock and home prices that fostered a deep recession sustained by prolonged business uncertainty having global economic repercussions.  It affected lenders, investors, borrowers, pensioners, homeowners, as well as taxpayers.  By contrast, government student loan costs from defaults and forgiveness engender a rifle-like effect that discretely targets U.S. taxpayers over many years without the immediate and shorter-term systemic jolt of the failed subprime mortgage market.  Nevertheless, blanket loan forgiveness and eventual free college education, given the sheer magnitude of the prospect, could have serious macroeconomic consequences.  Meantime, current student loan excesses threaten a broad economic drag from higher taxes and government debt necessary to finance defaults and forgiveness, in contemplation of eventual widespread ongoing grants.  

 

The movement toward student loan forgiveness and universally free college education

 

The incremental political move toward complete loan forgiveness and universally free college education is manifest in today’s growing income-based repayments, which applied to some 20% of the student loan portfolio balance in 2014 according to the U.S. Department of Education. In addition, about 15% of the portfolio was subject to forbearance that year.  Moreover, increasing default and delinquency rates are creating political pressure for yet more student relief.  Incidentally, the student loan burden compounds the new personal and taxpayer health care costs of the Affordable Care Act that spawned the current federal direct loan program.

 

            The existing $1.3 trillion student loan portfolio constitutes the cumulation of loan disbursements, principal repayments, interest and fees received, defaults, and forgiveness to date.   If this loan balance were entirely forgiven, it would result in an immediate loss to taxpayers for the entire amount, less estimated defaults recognized in prior periods.  In addition, a free college scenario would produce ongoing prospective losses for the entirety of new loans issued each year, currently over $100 billion.  Of course, then principal repayments, interest, fees and defaults become moot because loans become grants.

 

In the free college education model, the entire outstanding loan portfolio should be charged to the current budget.  But given the history of unorthodox government student loan accounting, the loss probably would be amortized over many years so not to reveal the actual impact on the economy and taxpayer.  Today’s loan portfolio balance of $1.3 trillion, increasing at the 15% average annual growth since 2003, would yield loan forgiveness of $2.6 trillion in 2020, and $4.6 trillion in 2024, less previously recognized estimated default provisions.  New loan disbursements subsequent to forgiveness also would be immediately charged to the budget upon payment, or should be.  

 

What’s more, government spending would likely increase at a greater rate.  Those who could not afford even government subsidized loans would apply for free college education, perhaps on a whim, without necessarily intending to graduate.  And tuition increases in response to greater demand would drive loan amounts higher. 

 

President Obama’s policies

 

            The Obama administration is quietly promoting federal student loan forbearance and forgiveness as a prelude to eventual free taxpayer-funded college education for all.  Since 2007, loans of borrowers who work in the non-profit or public sectors are pegged to income and forgiven after ten years.  Borrowers working in the private sector see debt forgiven in twenty years.  Separately, under the income-based Pay As You Earn (PAYE) plan passed in 2012, borrowers who earn below 150% of the poverty rate pay nothing, while those earning more may pay from 1% to 15% of income.  And, this plan may be combined with the aforementioned time-based forgiveness program.  In the fall of 2015, by the executive power of the Department of Education, without the approval of Congress, the PAYE program will expand eligibility to a total of six million students. 

 

In addition, the president has proposed a free community college plan, currently under review by Congress, for students with family income under $200,000.  And, reacting to fraudulent claims about graduate job placements, President Obama announced that loans entered into in reliance on misrepresentation by colleges will be forgiven.  Why not seek restitution from the colleges rather than burden the taxpayer?  This policy could invite untold false claims as interpretation is problematic.  Is the initiative just a ruse to grease the skid toward complete loan forgiveness?

 

The prospect of further forgiveness creates huge potential for borrower fraud at taxpayer expense.  As mentioned, many current borrowers anticipate the largesse and slow or stop monthly payments.  Will taxpayers also be on the hook for the many that never graduate?  Indeed, complete loan forgiveness is gaining currency and free college education could be on the way.  And once a government entitlement is born, it is difficult to rescind politically because both sides of the political aisle fear a populist backlash.

 

The Clinton Plan

 

            Bending the college cost curve for students has become a priority.  Indeed, in the political arena affordable college education has become as compelling as affordable health care.  Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton proposes a plan called “The New College Compact” that eliminates student borrowing for public college education through shared relief among the federal government, the states, the colleges, the borrowers, and of course, the taxpayers.  The Department of Education would grant new money to the states funded by higher taxes on upper income earners.  In exchange, states would spend more on higher education while colleges shift bloated administrative costs to student benefits such as instruction and athletic facilities. 

 

To discipline the college admission process with respect to the academic and financial wherewithal of applicants, public colleges would continue to pay fees for high student default rates, low graduation rates, and exaggerated student employment prospects after graduation.  College non-compliance even risks losing eligibility for federal monies.  Families would contribute what they can afford without having to borrow while students work a required 10 hours a week.  All students would be debt free throughout their education.  In addition, the Clinton initiative would lower interest costs for existing student loan debt outstanding.  Separately, the existing income-based PAYE program and free two- year community college would continue.

 

Clinton estimates the plan to cost $350 billion over 10 years, but that is apparently according to historically muddled government student loan accounting.  The CBO projects new loans of $1.265 billion for the 10 year period 2014-2023.  Assuming 70% of those loans finance public college enrollment, as reported by The College Board for the prior decade, $886 billion would approximate the borrowing that the Clinton plan would eliminate and replace by taxpayer funded grants, not $350 billion. 

 

Where is the student savings coming from in converting from borrower to grantee?  Sharing costs between the federal government and the states does not relieve the taxpayer’s burden.  As noted, higher taxes on upper income earners will fund the incremental government cost.  And shifting college spending from administration to faculty and student benefits does not lower overall costs.  The student household pays what it can afford according to a means test in exchange for not carrying any debt.  Federal and state taxpayers bear the cost of a grant for what the household cannot afford, or what would have been part of repayable student debt in the current program.  As a result, the student pays some fraction of the college cost while enrolled as the taxpayer pays the balance.  This contrasts with the current program where the student pays the entire cost in the form of loan principal and interest over many years after graduation.  As greater demand for college education inevitably ensues under this more affordable plan, the cost to taxpayers will burgeon.

 

The root causes of student borrowing

 

Government

 

            Political and cultural forces underlie the federal student loan development as the left advances its wealth redistributionist agenda by promoting a college education as a new inviolable government entitlement.  The goal is another nationalized benefit like health care, and akin to increasingly liberalized home finance through the dominance of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the mortgage market.  Federal educational aid covers undergraduate and graduate students, and even illegal aliens in some states.  And President Obama plans to restore Pell grants to prisoners discontinued in 1994 in a move to facilitate transition to private life and reduce recidivism.  Indeed, the federal student loan program is an extension of increasing federal influence over primary and secondary education.  At the same time, academia serves as a liberal indoctrination camp amid an environment of political correctness gone amuck in a cozy symbiosis with government. 

 

In conjunction with the passage of Obamacare, the government took over the student loan market as an alternative to guaranteeing private bank loans.  All the better to implement its redistributionist bent.  Of course, the banks could not support the student loan market without guarantees, and certainly not in the wake of the financial crisis and the slow economic recovery.  On account of The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 passed in reaction to the subprime mortgage crisis, banks had to impose stricter underwriting standards and comply with more stringent capital requirements.  This does not comport with lending to borrowers with little credit history and whose future income and ability to pay are difficult to assess.  Now the government lends directly with virtually no regard for credit risk, while the banks concentrate on refinancing student loans for low risk borrowers such as doctors, lawyers and other professionals.  Today, about 93% of outstanding student loan balances are held by the federal government, according to The Wall Street Journal.

 

However, the Student Loan Marketing Association (SLM), a publicly traded company known as Sallie Mae, continues to originate education loans funded by deposits and securitization of its portfolio.  As a government sponsored enterprise (GSE) analogous to mortgage counterparts, Fannie and Freddie, defaults on its loans also are borne by taxpayers.  

 

Graduate school loans constitute 40% of all student debt and 14% of borrowers reports Josh Mitchell in The Wall Street Journal 8/19/15.  These loans are potentially more ominous for the taxpayer because they’re unrestricted, while undergraduate loans are limited to $57,500.  Many go to graduate school just to postpone undergraduate loan payments.  Though graduate loan profits currently defray undergraduate losses, the New York Federal Reserve reports that 1.8 million graduate borrowers owe over $100,000, while some medical and law students owe multiples of that.  Because of the onerous debt, many graduate students specializing in less lucrative areas wind up in modest jobs rendering them unable to repay.  As a result, they avail themselves of payment deferment programs and income-based plans while anticipating eventual forgiveness. 

 

The increasing number of overextended borrowers engenders a bourgeoning call for taxpayer bailout, especially in view of the chronically discouraging employment outlook.  Of course, the seeds for this eventuality partly lie in the absence of lending criteria, graduate school borrowing caps, and restrictions on course of study and institutions attended.  But the federal lending policy is a great opportunity to expand the size and influence of government to the benefit of the political class.

 

Colleges

 

Tuition rises steadily as more government money becomes available thus creating the need for more student debt which now averages some $27,000 upon finishing a four-year college according to The College Board.  Since the late 1970s tuition has increased more than four times the consumer price index, according to Frank Mussano and Robert V. Iosue, co-authors of “College Tuition:  Four Decades of Financial Deception”.  According to Peter Cappelli, professor of management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, the 2015 graduate carries on average $35,000 of debt.  The Wall Street Journal cites a 2006 study by Ohio economist Richard Vedder that claims every dollar of aid raised tuition 35 cents.  Today, he says, every dollar increase in the subsidized-loan cap raises the cost 65 cents.  To be fair, some of the increase is a result of fiscal pressures in the states since the financial crisis that have caused them to cut funding to their public colleges forcing them to raise tuition to cover the shortfall.


        Colleges will have to get used to cutbacks in state funding explains Bruce D. Benson, president of the University of Colorado in an op ed to The Wall Street Journal on 8/27/15.  Seeing the handwriting on the wall amid progressive fiscal decline from a significant reduction of state support, he led a campaign for administrative efficiencies that netted the university over $100 million in the last few years from cost reduction, asset sales and additional revenues.  Specifically, he terminated 148 administrators, took procurement and property management in house, adopted self-insurance, secured volume discounts for the prescription drugs program, and converted a faculty and staff newspaper to an online publication.  This reduced overhead to 37% below that of national peers.  He also sold unnecessary assets including a conference center and the former medical center.  In addition, he consolidated a separate fundraising foundation increasing money raised by 20%, expanded online education, and doubled enrollment from abroad.  Truly a model toward making college more affordable.


Students

 

Extended graduation periods, commonly up to six years, diminish repayment prospects because the probability of graduation, and thus better paying employment, declines.  Jennifer Barrett, Personal Finance Editor with CNBC.com, reports that only 37% of students at public four-year colleges graduate in five years while 57% at private colleges do.  Peter Cappelli reports that only 40% of full-time students earn a degree in four years.   Of course, that means many never graduate.  Protracted college attendance and substantial dropout rates make federal student loan portfolios larger and riskier.

 

Employers

 

Meanwhile, employers require or prefer a college degree for many activities that once required only a high school diploma simply because graduates are available.  This fosters the understandable notion that college is essential to achieve reasonable prosperity as non-graduates face limited options that offer significantly lower income.  But because of failed government economic policy in the aftermath of the financial crisis, many graduates are unemployed or holding lower level jobs placing pressure on default rates at taxpayer expense.

 

Counterargument

 

            Nevertheless, Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate’s education committee, asserts in a Wall Street Journal op ed on 7/7/15 that college is still quite affordable given Pell grants and other federal and state financial aid, as well as concessions by the colleges.  With all the angst about student debt, he says on average it’s about the same as a new car loan which everyone takes for granted.  Stories about six figure debt apply only to about 4% of all student loans, 90% of which are issued to doctors, lawyers and other post-graduates.  He also touts the value of inexpensive community colleges.  Mr. Alexander suggests reducing tuition by curtailing the costly federal compliance rules which add one-third to tuition at Vanderbilt University, for example.  Finally, he warns that if too many forgo college because of perceived financial barriers the country faces serious worker shortages in a few years.

 

Colleges follow government money

 

Access to government education funds also attracts dubious for-profit schools.  These predators target veterans and minorities while reportedly sporting a 10% graduate rate and a loan default rate 40% higher than average, and garnering little recognition in the job market amid bogus promises of ready employment.  Even prestigious New York University promotes special programs via subway posters aimed at minorities, judging by the pictures.

 

            To some extent, accredited institutions expand their curricula and lower academic standards to accommodate customers with government money in hand, especially when too many seats are empty.  They even provide extensive remedial programs and re-tread high school courses in order to admit students less qualified by traditional standards.  Many colleges seem to offer progressively less academically in exchange for continually rising tuition that bears little relation to direct educational costs, as they rely heavily on low paid adjunct professors and graduate students in the classroom.  So anomalous is operating economics that colleges raise tuition just to mime the competition.  It’s about brand.  Of course, certain scholarships are offered to defray costs, but the discounted sticker price continues to rise as well.  So many college students, yet the U.S. suffers a dearth of qualified candidates in technology that creates an overreliance on immigrants with H-1B visas.  Heck, even American journalists seem to be in short supply.  Witness all the bylines with foreign names. 

 

Indeed, the average cost of attending a four-year private university has tripled since 1990 to about $42,500 per year according to Jennifer Barrett, CNBC.com.  Note that this coincides with flat parental incomes for half that period.  Partial scholarships are available but they often just discount already inflated tuition and may be marginal.  Much of the tuition funds construction for extravagant facilities in the hope of attracting students attached to government loans.  Other monies support certain frivolous college ranking criteria, as well as outsize administrative bureaucracy. 

 

Higher learning may be an afterthought in academia today for both economic and political reasons.  Questionable tuition increases drive up burdensome student debt that increasingly compels a populist move toward universally free college education.  Do the benefits of a near universally educated society justify the cost to the taxpayer and the economy?

 

Endowments and philanthropy

 

            Many believe throwing taxpayer money at social ills is automatically curative while it also assuages some personal guilt.  Similarly, some naively think donating to colleges and universities necessarily advances education as a societal benefit.  To be sure, not-for-profit institutions, and especially private colleges, depend on philanthropy to fund the huge costs of real estate and numerous capital projects.  This is because tuition plus room and board charges barely cover just operating costs.  In fact, most private colleges cannot meet the demand for financial aid.  To compensate, some schools rent premises for weddings, sports camps, corporate retreats and adult education seminars to cover tuition shortfalls as enrollment and endowments decline and student financial aid needs grow.  As such, educational giving is a noble exercise.  This year, former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg donated $100 million to Cornell Tech.  And hedge fund titan John Paulson pledged $400 million to Harvard.  But what percentage of donations fund core educational activities rather than bloated administration, superfluous capital projects and endowment building?

 

Better that excessive capital spending be applied to lowering tuition.  How often do colleges, large and small, spend on building prestigious sports franchises?   Yes, the television and gate revenues and added alumni donations from a highly ranked team could be used to enhance the educational offering, but to what extent are they?  Much of it goes to larger facilities and highly paid coaches.  And this mindset extends to women’s athletics too.  In addition, large universities with multi-billion dollar endowments just throwing off investment income could lower tuition to keep college education affordable and less dependent on government student financing.  After all, they are “non-profit” institutions.  But, again, the entrenched government/academia axis will not readily diminish itself.

 

            Many donors think they are supporting better education, but, in fact, too often their money is used, unbeknownst to them, to promote politically motivated interests or just enrich the endowment.  For example, annual alumni fund raisers are largely aimed at subsidizing minority students to further the diversity agenda.  Even contributions specifically dedicated to a particular purpose by a donor over time can become misdirected.  Consider the billionaire Yale alumnus who in 1991 stipulated his $20 million contribution be dedicated to expanding the Western civilization curricula.  He had to withdraw his pledge four years later after the institution failed even to begin implementing the program.

 

The declining return on investment

 

            At what point do rising college costs, falling income prospects, and burdensome debt justify alternatives to a four-year college education?  According to Federal Reserve data cited by Peter Cappelli in his current book “Will College Pay Off?”, more than 40% of graduates work in jobs that did not require a college degree.  To be sure, the graduate still has an advantage over the non-graduate but at some point diminishing returns set in. According to Jennifer Barrett of CNBC.com, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports a 56% differential in average earnings for the last 30 years and $1million over a lifetime. 

 

But Peter Cappelli says, graduates earn more partly because they are displacing high school graduates in lower jobs leaving them even more in the lurch.  For example, he points out that 60% of parking lot attendants have some college education.  Public concern heightens as more question a college education as a value proposition.  Chronic unemployment and underemployment among college graduates as a residual of the Great Recession and the financial crisis has engendered some new thinking about careers.  Of course, growth-oriented economic policies that create jobs would help, but even in good times a certain critical mass seems to have been reached respecting the cost of college education.

 

Reversing the trend

 

            The upshot could be a cultural sea change that restores general interest in community college and the trades.  Working class jobs can provide nice livings for well skilled workers.  For example, it seems the only licensed plumbers and electricians today are the business owners while the employees, many of them immigrants, have limited skills and rapport with customers.  Smart would be college students could instead own or serve those businesses through legitimate trade school training and prosper handsomely.  Similarly, restored shop classes in the high schools can teach non-academically inclined students marketable skills as an alternative to being lured into college under low admission standards only to fail and drown in debt. 

 

In theory, college educated labor surpluses and superfluity will diminish as many workers gravitate back to the trades and other blue collar professions.  And corporate employers facing resultant labor shortages will re-open many jobs to non-graduates like they used to.  This will result in fewer college graduates, much lower college costs, significantly less need for federal financial aid at taxpayer expense, and perhaps a more productive economy.  As a consequence, colleges will be left for the truly academically qualified and oriented at an affordable price.  Nevertheless, one has to square this notion with the new economy that increasingly places a premium on the highly educated in certain sectors.

 

            Certainly, a traditional college education is valuable in its own right, irrespective of vocational pursuit.  It fosters critical thinking, greater awareness, better communication and literacy, and personal edification.  This is why policemen and firemen, for example, are encouraged and sometimes required to earn college degrees even though education may not be functionally needed for the job.  Indeed, a genteel citizenry is a societal benefit.  Community colleges can serve that end to some degree as an alternative to a four-year college program.  There’s even an argument for prisoner education programs considering the possibly better chances of rehabilitation and lower recidivism rates.

 

But the cost-benefit calculus of higher education has changed for students today.  More blue collar career choices redolent of yesteryear’s paradigm can alleviate the imbalances manifest in chronic unemployment and underemployment, stagnant incomes, and inflated college costs.  As to federal control over higher education, government will not relinquish its newly acquired power over massive student loan debt and the political allegiance it garners.  As noted, the student loan takeover from banks is a prelude to blanket loan forgiveness and a free college taxpayer-funded entitlement to the benefit of the colleges and big government politics.  To be sure, the left will demagogue any re-privatization proposals through class warfare tactics. 

 

Conclusion

 

Continued double-digit annual growth in government student loans outstanding invites an increasingly tenuous asset bubble.  The costly student defaults and loan forgiveness that ultimately result create pressure for higher taxes, as well as more federal borrowing that exacerbates the current $18 billion national debt, both at the expense of much needed economic growth.  So do growing delinquencies and deferred payment allowances that hamper liquidity.  What's more, too many overleveraged households are not healthy either.

 

Bogus reports of student loan profits contribute to greater general spending in Washington on the mistaken ground the loan program is affordable.  Government should adopt an alternative fair value accounting methodology based on periodic balance sheet accrual and revaluation applied by private banks that would disclose real exposure to taxpayers.  Public knowledge of the true cost of the student loan program and proposals for free college education would set the stage for appropriate restrictions by Congress and the voters. 

 

            But strong wealth redistributionist political forces resist honest disclosure of student loan losses that challenges the ongoing impetus for bigger government.  The absence of healthy economic growth and job creation essential to liquidate the student loan overhang fosters increasing support for a government solution that could be irreversible.

                                                                        ©2015 William J. Dodwell


The Fed’s Folly:  Not Normalizing Rates Quickly After the Great Recession

 

By William J. Dodwell    March 1, 2016


            For more than seven years the Federal Reserve Bank’s zero interest-rate policy (ZIRP) coupled with six years of quantitative easing (QE) has failed to generate normal economic recovery in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and the Great Recession.  The Fed’s policy of too little too long has yielded only 2% annual economic growth in that period, less than half the historical recovery rate after a recession.  This GDP shortfall has been at the expense of millions of jobs that would have restored widespread prosperity.  The Fed’s recent 25 basis point increase in the benchmark federal funds rate to the .25% - .5% range is hardly enough.

 

The solution is to reverse the ineffectual process that brought down interest rates so low as to force investors from traditional savings and investments into riskier financial assets for higher returns.  This means quickly raising short-term rates.  Ordinarily, rate hikes aim to withdraw liquidity from the economy to stem inflation.  But in today's special circumstances of near-zero rates they must be raised  enough to attract capital away from excess investment in stocks, junk bonds and emerging market securities inflated by the mass escape to better returns, and back to conventional bank deposits and money market funds that can fund loans in the real economy again.  As such, normalized interest rates based on a true equilibrium in the credit markets would compensate savers with higher income, as well as incentivize banks through greater lending profitability.  The resulting consumption and investment, particularly as they benefit small businesses that create most jobs, would create the economic growth expected 6 ½ years into the recovery.  Even a mild recession in the transition might justify correcting the long-term shortfall in economic growth since the Great Recession.  However, it is not likely raising rates from near-zero would pose that threat.

 

The waiting game did not work

 

            The problem is Fed chairs Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen have been too skittish about reactions to their policies in the financial markets to do what is necessary.  Certainly, financial stability was the priority in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.  But long-term needs should not be undermined by undue fear of rocking the boat, or by almost knee-jerk responses to short-term market trading decisions that are largely speculative.  Consider the courage of Fed Chairman Paul Volcker in 1980 when, in different circumstances, he began to rapidly raise interest rates to 21% triggering a short but painful recession in 1982-1983.  That boldness subsequently ushered in almost 20 years of nearly uninterrupted economic expansion that created tens of millions of jobs.

 

            Since the financial crisis the Fed’s criteria for raising short-term rates has centered on two principal targets:  a 2% inflation rate and a 5% unemployment rate.  As such, the Fed has relied too much on the discredited Phillips Curve which posits an inverse relationship between the rates of inflation and unemployment.  Indeed, Yellin has indicated a particular preoccupation with labor markets in respect of interest-rate policy.  Other factors the Fed considers include domestic and global GDP growth, bond yields, corporate profits, the dollar, and the prices of stocks and commodities.  But waiting for harmony among these variables in stable financial markets does not correct the misallocation of credit and capital created by unconventional post-crisis monetary policy.

 

Inflation is still only 1.5% while nominal unemployment reached 4.9%.  But the latter is distorted by too many part-time and low-paying jobs and the lowest labor participation rate in almost 40 years as some 95 million discouraged unemployed left the work force.  As stated, GDP growth has averaged about 2% since the Great Recession ended in 2009 while Europe, Japan and China have been sluggish.  After seven years of waiting to satisfy its criteria, the Fed decided to pull the trigger on a rate increase in December 2015 despite continued low inflation and slow growth, to the consternation of many traditionalists.  Until then, the fear of recession and volatility in the financial markets kept postponing an initial rate hike, and now deters plans for further increases.  Indeed, persistent low inflation stokes concerns of deflation from rate hikes.  If only the Fed instead would act aggressively and independently like Paul Volcker.  Structural monetary change involving normalized interest rates is needed to restore traditional balance essential for economic growth.

 

The effects of the Fed’s failed monetary policy

 

            Since the end of the Great Recession in June 2009 the Fed has kept the overnight interbank federal funds rate near-zero by means of traditional open market operations of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) in the hope of sparking recovery through more borrowing and spending.  Accordingly, that Fed rate established a floor throughout the short-term credit markets suppressing the rates on bank loans and deposits, as well as money market instruments including bank C/D’s, repurchase agreements, and commercial paper. 

 

The Fed also attempted to lower longer term rates through six years of quantitative easing (QE) to further boost the economy, with a particular eye toward stimulating the housing sector through lower mortgage rates.  QE also was meant to drive up financial asset prices to foster a wealth effect that encourages consumer spending.  This policy involved the Fed’s purchase of Treasury bonds and agency mortgage-backed securities issued by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, while simultaneously crediting excess bank reserves held at the Fed that injected liquidity in the financial system. 

 

That new bank liquidity ultimately wended through the financial system as banks used it to fund the “risk-on” purchase of stocks and bonds by hedge funds, pension funds, mutual funds and other financial institutions seeking higher returns in a low interest-rate environment.  In fact, some asset-management firms are looking to invest in low doc Alt-A mortgages, so notorious during the financial crisis, to capture outsize yields up to 8%.  The banks, using the funds created by QE, typically finance the purchase of risky assets by financial institutions via repurchase agreements with them.  Or, the banks purchased riskless Treasuries from those firms outright allowing them to replace them with higher return assets.

 

As a consequence of this this yield-chasing, capital has gravitated to investment portfolios in the financial economy at the expense of bank loans that finance investment in the real economy and the economic growth that would ensue.  Many expected the enormous infusion of liquidity from QE to create inflation in the real economy.  Instead, that inflation pervades the financial economy in the form of overvalued securities in the absence of high enough interest rates to motivate lending through the banking system that would engender new investment.  In fact, M2, the money supply measure that includes savings deposits, money market funds and other time deposits that traditionally fund bank loans, has been almost stagnant since the financial crisis.  The strong dollar with its safe haven status also has muted general inflation needed to stimulate flow in the economy.

 

As a result of QE, some $2.6 trillion is held by banks as excess reserves loaned to the Fed on which they accrue interest income at a rate higher than the federal funds rate they receive on overnight interbank loans.  This incentive therefore restricts interbank lending needed to meet borrowing demand where it arises, thus limiting credit availability for individuals and businesses.  Instead of bank loans, many borrowers rely on expensive unregulated non-bank online lenders.

 

Through both the FOMC and QE maneuvers to lower rates the Fed hoped to increase subpar inflation that would set the stage for 3% economic growth and 5% unemployment.  Again, to date the Fed has achieved only 2% average annual growth in the weakest recovery on record.  This combines with current 1.5% inflation and a reduction of nominal unemployment from 10.0% to a misleading 4.9%.

 

            By lowering the Fed benchmark rate to near-zero the central bank lost the ability to further manage monetary policy through normal open market operations because a virtual floor had been reached.  (European and Japanese central banks have resorted to negative rates to stimulate demand but to no avail.)  Alternatively, the Fed manipulates the interest rate it pays banks on their excess reserves (IOER) to influence short-term rates across the board, including the fed funds rate.  It also moves rates by entering into repurchase agreements whereby it borrows from the banks (which hold counterparty reverse repurchase agreements) to add or withdraw liquidity in the financial system as needed.  The discount rate the Fed charges banks for short-term loans and the reserve requirement imposed on member banks are other levers for influencing short-term rates throughout the economy.

 

The Fed’s zero interest-rate policy and QE have created the following distortions:

 

    • Net interest margins are too low to make bank lending profitable taking into account higher capital requirements and heightened credit risk in a sluggish economy.  Economic growth and job creation suffer as a result.
    • The Fed has amassed a veritable sovereign wealth fund that is its $4.5 trillion bond portfolio, a quintupling of the holdings right before the financial crisis.  The huge portfolio has political implications inasmuch as the Treasury holdings effectively accommodate fiscal policy by suppressing government interest costs, and the agency mortgage securities investment competes with banks for market share in the mortgage market.
    • Lower long-term rates and greater market liquidity encouraged an excess of (leveraged) stock buybacks at the expense of capital investment
    • QE has inflated stock prices out of proportion to earnings such that equities substantially exceed historically average price-earnings ratios.
    • Low rates hurt pension funds and life insurers dependent on investment income to pay claims; they also pinch savers, especially retirees, who need interest income to defray expenses.
    • QE has created a shortage of Treasuries needed as collateral for repurchase agreements which ensure important liquidity in the financial system.  Riskless Treasuries also are essential to satisfy new regulatory capital and liquidity requirements.  In addition, distortions in the Treasury market create anomalies in the yield spreads between government bonds and other fixed-income assets by which credit risk is assessed.
    • A lack of capital investment, i.e., property, plant and equipment, has suppressed productivity essential for economic growth.
    • Business uncertainty about the market effects of unwinding QE creates a focus on liquid financial assets rather than capital investment.
    • Business uncertainty about risky expansion amid slow economic growth, taxes and regulation diverts capital to financial assets.
    • Bank lending to the Fed through interest-bearing excess reserves competes with lending to other banks through fed funds transactions which might fund consumer and business loans
    • Monetary policy has misdirected capital to government and large corporations at the expense of loans to small and new businesses that create most jobs.  Fed investment in Fannie and Freddie securities crowds out banks from the mortgage market.
    • Near-zero rates limit commercial paper issuance for lack of buyers.  Consequently, companies have to use cash to fund day-to-day operations instead of short-term borrowings.  This restricts funds available for plant, equipment and new hires that grow the economy.

 

Divining the right short-term interest rate

 

            Indeed, protracted near-zero interest rates have limited the U.S. economy to far below its potential at the expense of livelihoods, careers, family formation and even mental and emotional health.  What is an optimal short-term interest rate?  Over time the Fed has alternated between discretionary and prescriptive approaches to rate setting. 

 

Under the gold standard that prevailed in the U.S. in some form until 1971, the dollar was linked to gold at $35 an ounce.  This kept the money supply, short-term interest rates and the dollar stable.  In addition, bank interest rates were fixed under Regulation Q until phased out in the 1970s and 1980s as money market funds offering rising market rates competed with banks for deposits.  Steve Forbes in his book, “Money:  How the Destruction of the Dollar Threatens the Global Economy – and What We Can Do About It”, proposes a new version of the gold standard.  He calls for a fixed dollar/gold ratio commensurate with the nature of today’s money markets to be maintained by the Fed through its open market operations.  This would preclude inflation and interest-rate fluctuation, as well as ensure a stable dollar, as the central bank would be prohibited by law from having any monetary discretion, except in emergencies such as 9/11 circumstances.  Forbes’ model probably would raise interest rates well above their anomalous lows to foster the economic change needed today.  But the political left is averse to a policy that that would interfere with the freedom to accommodate ever-growing government spending through money creation.

 

In 1993 the acclaimed Stanford economist, John Taylor, created a model that became known as the “Taylor rule” that establishes an optimal nominal federal funds rate to be a function of inflation and GDP growth rates as defined.  The resulting equilibrium interest rate consistent with full employment and price stability preempts central bank discretion to ensure changes in inflation and GDP growth are taken into account appropriately.  Supposedly, the Taylor rule applied within the tolerances of financial stability reduces market uncertainty about future actions of the Fed.  But QNB Financial Services reports that the Taylor rule currently calls for a fed funds rate of not more than 1%, far too low to motivate savers and investors back to bank deposits and money market instruments needed to fund the real economy.  What's more, Ben Bernanke points out in a paper for Brookings 4/28/15 that the Taylor rule provides no guidance for negative real (inflation adjusted) fed fund rates which have prevailed almost without interruption since the crisis.

 

            Fed Chair Yellen opposes such a rules-based approach to monetary policy as too restrictive.  She believes the Fed needs flexibility tailored to circumstances to avoid overshooting the mark on the high side or low side.  The Fed currently strives toward the equilibrium inflation-adjusted federal funds rate at which credit supply and demand intersect amid full employment and stable inflation, the so-called natural interest rate.  That real interest rate has been negative throughout the post-crisis period to the detriment of the nation. 

 

Martin Feldstein, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors under President Reagan, wrote in The Wall Street Journal 1/14/16 that the low rates in the aftermath of the financial crisis will generate inflation that will raise long-term rates.  As such, he calls for higher rates to control inflation consistent with full employment.  This is important because excess inflation undermines the dollar to reduce its purchasing power and devalue assets.  As it happens, anomalous safe-haven investing in reaction to market turmoil, as well as weak business investment, counteract Feldstein’s theory by depressing interest rates, despite an easy money policy.  Accordingly, the 10-year Treasury yields only 1.7% with nominal full employment, or about .2 % on an inflation-adjusted basis.

 

            But the question is how to correct today’s aberration of inflated financial assets created by massive quantitative easing that has produced a $4.5 trillion portfolio at the Fed and has starved the real economy of adequate capital.  Reversing this excess requires incentives in the form of high enough interest rates to redirect investment back to Main Street.  While too much economic disruption is to be avoided, obsessing about a perfect confluence of inflation, unemployment and growth in today’s circumstances is not the solution for restoring normal economic performance.

 

A return to monetary normalcy

 

A quick normalization of rates would correct the abnormalities and promote capital investment and economic growth.  Also needed are tax cuts and deregulation enacted by Congress and the president.  The Fed has to return to conventional FOMC buying and selling of short-term Treasuries from and to banks to control short-term rates in the economy, a tool which collapsed with zero rates.  Quantitative easing ended in October 2014 but the diminution of the resulting $4.5 trillion bond portfolio has to be managed effectively. 

 

Currently the Fed reinvests portfolio securities as they mature because it needs the interest income to pay interest expense on its $2.6 trillion of excess bank reserves.  Additionally, the Fed wants to avoid disrupting the bond markets by selling too many securities at once.  The Fed is also averse to withdrawing as a ready buyer of refunded Treasury issues which could significantly increase interest costs to the Treasury.  Since 2008 the Fed has returned over $500 billion of portfolio profits to the Treasury.  Additional profits fund the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created by Dodd-Frank, as well as federal infrastructure projects approved in the highway bill passed December 2015.  Nonetheless, eventually the Fed is going to have to run off its portfolio as securities mature.  Selling them as rates rise would create realized losses that the Fed’s capital might not be able to absorb, but the process can be managed to minimize that.

 

Concomitant with portfolio liquidation, the Fed would reduce excess reserves of member banks and the interest cost paid on them while relying more on cheaper repurchase agreements and Treasury deposits to finance the remaining portfolio.  In addition, raising the IOER on remaining reserves would set a floor for other money market rates that supports a higher general interest-rate environment that attracts capital back into the banking system for lending.  But as the portfolio wanes the Fed would rely more on interest owed on repurchase agreements with banks to influence interest rates than on IOER. 

 

            Sheila Blair, former head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), objects to the Fed using repurchase agreements to set interest rates as explained in her 7/25/14 article in The Wall Street Journal.  She fears that banks would tend to enter into riskless reverse repos with the Fed rather than with other banks, thus reducing liquidity in the financial system.  This would be true particularly in times of market stress when counterparty risk renders the Fed a preferred borrower.  Such a scenario also would hurt non-bank issuers of commercial paper as buyers become scarce.

 

Eventually, with the Fed’s portfolio and excess reserves reduced to normal levels, the central bank should go back to traditional FOMC operations to set short-term interest rates consistent with equilibrium in the credit markets.  However, having experienced QE on such a large scale it remains to be seen whether the Fed would be tempted to resort to massive bond buying again as a tool to inflate the economy and accommodate the Treasury.  With this precedent are the markets unduly conditioned to Fed intervention in times of turmoil in contravention to sustained interest-rate normalization?

 

The fed funds rate could be raised to the market equilibrium point in about 18 months.  That would effectively redirect capital back to the banking system and improve margins to encourage general lending amid a more costly regulatory environment.  This probably means a 4% nominal rate and a 2% real rate.  The 4% nominal rate was last recorded in 2007 before the financial crisis. Clearly, small increments over several years are insufficient.  The Fed needs an epiphany to reject the notion that rates cannot be raised because of a soft economy.  That principle applies under normal monetary conditions.  Chronic near-zero rates are hardly normal, and they have failed to spark a traditional recovery.

 

The drop in stocks, junk bonds, commodities, and emerging market debt in response to diminished demand in China and uncertainty about its foreign-exchange policy have prompted a countervailing move to safe-haven Treasuries that challenges the effort to raise rates. Appropriately high rates in the credit markets will garner capital to the money markets again.  This will overcome safe-haven investing to produce a more productive economy that in time will support global markets.

 

            Higher interest rates will deflate overvalued stocks and bonds to normal valuations and cause some disruption for investors and the economy.  But price/earnings ratios for stocks had substantially exceeded historical averages, and some bond yields, particularly in Europe and Japan, are anomalously negative.  Lower financial asset valuations resulting from higher interest rates will help to avoid transferring that inflation to the real economy when those assets move back to money market instruments. So, a significant correction is in order and largely anticipated inasmuch as financial asset appreciation has been a trade-off for real economic growth.  A diminished wealth-effect from portfolio repricing will likely temper consumption, but higher savings income will help to offset it.

 

            Zero rates helped to end the Great Recession and bring down unemployment.  But having waited 6 1/2 years into the recovery to start raising them, the Fed risks having to reverse course as the business expansion nears an end.  One has to wonder whether the Fed has been averse to normalizing rates so long in order to capture tremendous savings on borrowing costs for the government with its implications for increased entitlement spending.  Some suspect the motivation might be to prop up the financial markets to protect the investor class.

 

Headwinds against normalization

 

            Many believe the sharp decline in stock prices beginning in January 2016 is a sign that a mere ¼ point interest-rate hike the previous month was premature and deleterious amid low inflation and slow growth.  This is not likely.  Rather, turmoil in the financial markets reflects the ongoing economic slowdown in China, the collapse of oil and other commodity prices and the attendant bank loan defaults and sell-off in junk bonds, as well as the strong dollar.  Besides, the market corrections just return financial assets to normal valuations inflated by aberrational capital allocation in reaction to ZIRP.  In fact, the S&P 500 price/earnings ratio is still 35% above the historical average.

 

Lower returns from stocks, junk bonds and emerging market investments may set the stage for the re-allocation of capital back to the real economy, perhaps after a pit stop in safe haven Treasuries.  And certain economic data support persistent rate increases that will make bank lending more attractive.  They include: a tightening labor market, rising income, improving home prices, high household net worth, still relatively high stock valuations, and, according to Morgan Stanley, the prospect of good job growth, solidified corporate balance sheets, and lower consumer debt in the next four years.

 

            But the Fed has been so sensitive to roiling the financial markets that its commitment to sufficiently sizable and frequent rate hikes is highly questionable.  Indeed, some warning signs appear.  For example, in January 2016 home sales dropped to a 12 month low.  In addition, the February 2016 purchasing managers’ index for the dominant service sector declined to the lowest level since October 2013 reflecting continued slowing global growth.  After the December rate increase the Fed said it expects to raise the benchmark rate to over 3% in three years.  This is too cautious after a 6 ½ year wait.  To be sure, overreaction (volatility) in the financial markets to aggressive monetary policy or other economic events traditionally undermines business confidence to throttle economic activity and scare the Fed into retreat.  But if only the central bank would display the leadership that Paul Volcker did in 1980 and endure the disruption while adhering to a plan for higher rates.  This mindset recognizes that unstable markets will eventually adjust when resulting new growth shifts capital away from inflated financial assets and back to the business and household sectors that drive economic expansion.  

 

Paul Volcker’s 1980s solution

 

In 1980 the problem of combined slow growth and high inflation produced an imbalance between liquidity and production in the economy.  The condition, dubbed “stagflation”, was described by what economists said was “too much money chasing too few goods” as inflation grew throughout most of the 1970s spurred by excessive monetary easing to accommodate military spending during the Viet Nam War.  In fact, the so-called “misery index”, which combines the rates of inflation and unemployment, peaked at almost 22 during the Carter administration and defined that presidency. 

 

In response, Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, appointed by President Carter in 1979, switched focus from the traditional fed funds rate itself to targeting monetary aggregates called M1, M2 and M3, that is, measures of checking accounts, time deposits and money market balances outstanding.  This policy wrung inflation out of the economy once and for all through repeated monetary tightening.  Accordingly, during Volcker’s tenure the bank prime rate moved from 11% in August 1979 to 21.5% in December 1980 and back down to 8.25% when his term ended in August 1987.  As a consequence, a sharp recession ensued for 16 months in 1982-1983 as many small businesses failed because of sky-high financing costs.  But Volcker’s derring-do gave way to nearly 20 years of nearly continuous economic expansion and prosperity.

 

Today the economy is beset by slow growth and low inflation, also caused by excessive monetary easing.  But this time the Fed, in an effort to stimulate the economy from the effects of the 2008 financial crisis, lowered interest rates so much as to divert capital away from the production of goods and services and towards investment in financial assets.  Because of soft demand in the economy in the wake of the financial crisis and the attendant uncertainty, the extra liquidity from low interest rates and quantitative easing designed to stimulate recovery in the real economy was not invested in production. 

 

Rather, that liquidity gravitated to stocks, bonds and currencies to escape the near-zero returns on traditional low risk bank deposits and money market instruments, inflating valuations in the process.  The task now is to raise rates to attract capital away from financial assets back to business investment in plant, equipment and inventory.  The higher rates improve lending margins giving banks incentive to finance that expansion.  At the same time, interest income to savers rises to ultimately stimulate some consumption.

 

            The extreme scenario of the early 1980s may have posed a greater sense of urgency than the post-2008 crisis economy with its modicum of growth and low inflation, strong dollar, the wealth effect of inflated financial assets, and the smugness of having overcome the greatest economic jolt since the Great Depression.  Hence today’s resistance to normalizing rates.  But if the Fed had begun sufficiently raising interest rates in 2009 at the start of the recovery, the economy likely would have grown much better than the subsequent 2% average annual rate, even with an intermittent recession.   Indeed, rate increases that would precipitate a 2% contraction followed by normal 4% or more annual growth over the last six years coming out of the recession would have produced much more prosperity than experienced.  That’s pretty compelling.  But the Fed is too timid to take such radical action.

 

A new normal?

 

            Some believe 2% annual growth may be the new normal what with onerous financial regulation in the aftermath of the financial crisis and an ever-expanding government.  Regulatory overkill from the Dodd-Frank Act has restricted liquidity and forced banks into riskless Treasuries or idle cash instead of loans.  Many small banks have closed because of the costly compliance burden. New rules dictating the amount and type of capital set aside to absorb potential bank losses, limits on exposure to counterparty risk, and provisions to avoid depositor runs may very well limit credit availability needed for traditional growth.  Yet, loan underwriting standards have slipped in some quarters, thus raising the specter of another financial crisis eventually.  Meanwhile, the national debt has reached $19 trillion with no sign of future restraint.  Indeed, prosperity depends on appropriate monetary and fiscal policy, as well as regulatory relief.  Unfortunately, politics precludes real solutions.

 

            By traditional standards, the current economic environment of persistent low inflation and slow growth, near historically low Treasury yields, a strong safe-haven dollar, declining profits, and geopolitical unrest created pressure on the Fed to relent on raising rates and even concede a new normal.  Indeed, an aging population and lower productivity drag on the economy, contributing to merely 1.8% GDP growth in 2015, and only a .7% annual rate in the fourth quarter of the seventh year of the recovery.  In addition, the strong dollar undercuts the Fed’s inflation target making imports cheaper.  It also suppresses prices for commodity producers thus weighing on global growth.  And, it makes dollar-denominated emerging market debt more onerous.  At the same time, weaker foreign currencies make U.S. exports less competitive while slow growth in emerging markets invites competitive devaluations that make their imports more expensive.  What’s more, divergent monetary policies in Europe and Japan counteract efforts by the Fed to normalize interest rates as other central banks accelerate quantitative easing, even to the point of negative interest rates.

 

Nonetheless, the U.S. is still in a better position than the rest of the world to start rate normalization that can lead the global economy out of the longstanding malaise.  A reallocation of capital fostered by sufficiently higher short-term interest rates, as well as tax and regulatory relief, will yield the normal economic growth that has eluded the Fed for too long.

 

Unconventional monetary easing calls for unconventional unwinding process

 

            In the aftermath of the subprime mortgage crisis the Fed took unprecedented action under dire economic conditions to save the financial system and stimulate the economy.  The Fed lowered short-term interest rates to near-zero and suppressed longer term rates through the purchase of trillions of dollars of Treasury and agency mortgage-backed securities in its six-year quantitative easing program, adding massive liquidity to the banking system. 

 

Initially, many analysts feared excessive inflation would result as the newly created credit pervades the real economy through bank lending.  But in nearly seven years that has not happened because near historically low interest rates prevent banks from lending profitably, especially in view of new restrictive financial regulation.  Low rates also discourage savers and investors from placing capital in traditional bank deposits and money market instruments that finance business investment.  As a consequence, the rise in the supply and demand for goods and services never fully materialized from the post-crisis monetary stimulus resulting in protracted slow economic growth long after a deep two-year recession. 

 

            Investors sought an alternative to near-zero bank and money market rates through higher returns in riskier stocks and higher yielding securities and currencies.  As mentioned, trillions of dollars of liquidity from quantitative easing flowed to those investments instead of production and consumption in the real economy.  But some of those financial assets have faltered because of slow economic growth and attendant credit risk, particularly as a result of less demand in China, fallen commodity prices, and maybe the recent Fed rate increase.  Those reversals have prompted the beginning of an important move away from inflated financial assets.  However, that shift so far has gravitated largely to safe-haven sovereign debt and investment-grade corporate bonds rather than bank loans and deposits that finance the real economy.  The effect of those bond investments is to suppress market interest rates counteracting the Fed’s attempt to raise them.

 

The Malpass nostrum

 

            David Malpass, president of economics and research consulting firm Encima Global LLC, speaks of a “zero interest-rate policy trap” where below-market interest rates foster a cycle of low inflation and slow growth.  This in turn discourages the Fed from raising rates for fear of triggering a recession.  The inability to get off the dime suppresses lending to small businesses that finances the capital investment needed to create jobs, higher income and growth.  Rather, the monetary status quo restricts credit to the most credit-worthy borrowers, says Malpass, such that it is disproportionately allocated to elite bond issuers, that is, government and large corporations.

 

Malpass claims rate cuts stimulate borrowing when rates are normal, but near-zero rates are just price controls on credit that stifle growth (because unprofitable margins limit lending).  Malpass states in an op ed in The Wall Street Journal 10/7/15:

 

“The Fed’s theory that extremely low interest rates will someday cause solid growth has been disproved repeatedly.  Growth would have been faster and more balanced if rates had been higher.  In the current recovery interest rates are even lower, but the results have been worse, with real growth averaging only 2.2% - the slowest recovery on record.”

 

According to Malpass, the Fed has to pare its bond portfolio and finance it through less expensive repurchase agreements with banks instead of relying on bank excess reserves.  In the process, the Fed reduces its bank debt with portfolio liquidation proceeds freeing up cash for banks to lend, especially community banks that finance small businesses.  At the same time, banks earn lower rates on reverse repurchase agreements with the Fed compared to their excess reserves.  As a result, banks engage in more interbank lending that directs capital where it is most needed in the form of loans to small businesses instead of to the Fed.  In short, bank capital frozen with the Fed is unlocked to finance investment and consumption in the real economy.  This is true stimulus.

 

            Meantime, says Malpass, the Treasury has to cut back short-term issuances that crowd out loans on bank balance sheets.  Less short-term borrowing by the Fed and the Treasury permits more borrowing in the private economy to finance economic growth.

 

If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging

 

The Fed has to break the mold that predicates rate hikes on traditional measures of rising inflation, falling unemployment and accelerating growth, because that formula has proved not to apply in the post-crisis circumstances of massive liquidity from QE and near-zero interest rates.  Rather, the economy needs stimulus from normalized rates, even in the face of low inflation and growth.  What’s more, in a normalized rate environment higher rates create room for stimulative rate cuts when the economy slows materially, unlike the floor established by zero rates.

 

A radical increase in short-term interest rates that unwinds zero interest-rate policy and quantitative easing to achieve monetary equilibrium will stimulate the capital migration from Wall Street to Main Street in a return to normalcy.  Raising rates from zero does not throttle the economy the same as raising them from normalized rates in an inflationary environment that risks slowing the economy.  Rather, normalizing rates in today’s circumstance encourages greater saving and more bank lending to rekindle aggregate demand.  The effect is to reflate the economy as the Fed could not do in seven years through ZIRP and QE.  It is not enough that banks simply lend more of their excess reserves to accommodate production in the economy.  Higher rates improve bank margins that encourage more lending.  They also reward savers and motivate consumption. 

 

Just as economists hope for a “soft landing” after a period of turmoil, the economy now needs a strong launch fostered by the reversal of the Fed’s post-crisis policy.  In professional sports, teams struggle with the dilemma of either tinkering with the roster in the hope of a championship in the near-term, or rebuilding to achieve sustained long-term success.  After seven years adhering to the same old formula without desired results, the Fed’s policy has failed.  It is time to stop digging.  Unfortunately, the Fed does not appear to have the courage to resist formidable pressures from the financial markets to maintain below-market rates.  Where’s a Paul Volcker when we need him?

 

As mentioned, today’s conditions do not prompt the same sense of urgency as in Volcker’s time given relatively stable inflation, unemployment and growth.  Current economic data contrast with the double digit inflation and unemployment coupled with stagnant growth that plagued the economy in 1981.  What’s more, the memory of the financial crisis still deters upheaval risk.  Indeed, higher rates will deflate financial assets to the detriment of individual and institutional portfolios, including the Fed’s, but, again, they were overvalued anyway by normal standards.  

 

Greater interest income on new bonds in a higher rate environment would defray portfolio losses.  A stronger dollar resulting from rate hikes weighs on exports and overseas profits, but keeps imports cheaper.  Low oil and gas prices hurt energy producers but free up funds for more industrial and household spending.  Once economic growth gets traction from a wholesale redeployment of capital in the real economy through the banking system, portfolio values will recover according to normal fundamentals and robust job growth and prosperity will return. 

 

But the Fed under Janet Yellin calls for more of the same in the face of challenges to her first rate hike.  In fact, in recent Congressional testimony she said she would even consider a negative benchmark rate if economic conditions call for rate cuts, subject to a study of possible legal and operational restraints.  Such a policy has failed in Europe and Japan.  It would evaporate bank interest margins virtually assuring a shutdown in lending.  As a de facto tax on savings, negative rates would encourage more investment in risky financial assets.  Yet some think this is a way to stimulate the economy.  She also said that any commitment to raising rates would be entirely consistent with inflation and unemployment targets and be very calibrated and gradual.  This has not worked.  It is a recipe for ongoing malaise.  The Fed has to stop digging.

 

The market backlash

 

A sharp selloff in stocks after the 25 basis point rate hike in December 2015 prompted most market participants to rule out any further increases in 2016 as the economy softens.  In fact, that investor reaction to global economic slowdown is spooking a diffident Fed into relenting on its original plan for four rate hikes in 2016.  Volatility in stocks, bonds and currencies, as well as the prospect of recession, flag business and consumer confidence to deter consumption and investment in the real economy.  Thus, turbulence in the financial markets might give the Fed serious pause that indefinitely suspends a commitment to rate normalization.  This is especially likely in view of continued low inflation and slow growth in the U.S. that combine with escalated monetary easing by other major central banks.  Having raised rates once, now the Fed succumbs to adverse market expectations, perhaps to retreat to a wait-and-see posture until traditional economic data support more rate increases. 

 

The Fed likes to telegraph its rate posture in advance to avoid jolting the markets, especially since it has endured political heat in the past for a lack of transparency.  In particular, the central bank learned a market lesson in mid-2013 when it unexpectedly indicated it would cut back QE bond purchases.  This resulted in the “taper tantrum” that roiled the financial markets because investors anticipated continued monetary stimulus.  Historically, the Fed has intervened to calm Wall Street in times of severe stress and the markets have come to expect it.  Witness the 1987 stock market crash; the dot com bust in 2000; the post-9/11 period; and the 2008 financial crisis.  Unfortunately, this implicit protectionist role and its intolerance for market disruption have inhibited the Fed from radical action in setting interest rates.

 

Damn the torpedoes

 

Rather than pursue economic normalcy through a new paradigm of credit allocation based on incentives for lenders and savers, the Fed cautiously waits for sustained signs of growth to emerge from a policy that has failed to produce it in seven years.  What’s more, it bridles at volatility in the financial markets that might suggest untoward economic consequences.  The Fed should start normalizing interest rates now in an atmosphere of relative stability and muster the determination to ride out the market reactions to that policy as Paul Volcker did over 30 years ago.  Now that investors are conditioned to false alarms in the form of frequent triple digit declines in the Dow Jones Index that recover in short order, perhaps markets ultimately will be more amenable to rate hikes than commonly believed.

 

Glenn Hubbard, dean of Columbia Business School and former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President George W. Bush, wrote in The Wall Street Journal 1/4/16 that conditions are ripe for higher interest rates.  He claims rate hikes from near-zero levels will not hamper business as corporate balance sheets are repaired and ready for investment.  Besides encouraging broader lending, higher rates will raise returns on interest-bearing assets to stimulate some spending.  This, coupled with tax and spending cuts, as well as regulatory reform, will revive long dormant capital investment.  However, countervailing QE bond purchases by the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Bank of Japan temper the stimulus of divergent monetary tightening by the Fed.  But once higher rates restore normal growth in the U.S., the rest of the world likely will follow suit.

 

Mickey D. Levy, chief economist, Americas and Asia at Berenberg Capital Markets LLC, wrote in The Wall Street Journal on 11/30/15 about lessons learned since the early 1980s regarding unfounded fears of rising interest rates.  He points out that the history of rate hike cycles in that period shows they were predicated on an improving economy, and that economic growth continued resulting in growing profits and higher stock prices.  When the Fed raised its benchmark rate, long-term bond rates rose less than short-term rates because of lower inflationary expectations, and bank lending increased substantially.  In addition, the concern about a stronger dollar from higher rates may be exaggerated because a currency is influenced by many factors besides interest rates.  (To be sure, economic growth, trade flows, portfolio flows, geopolitical risk and safe-haven status also play roles.)  What’s more, he says any burden from rate hikes in the last 35 years was mitigated by tax cuts, investment incentives, NAFTA, deficit reduction legislation, and market confidence.  Throughout, the Fed focused on long-term objectives without worrying about short-term market reactions.

 

             Today’s low inflation and slow growth are similar to conditions in much of the period Levy talks about.  What is different are significantly below-market interest rates that distort economic incentives, and a short-term Fed view susceptible to market distractions.  The solution is to restore equilibrium in the credit markets by steadily normalizing rates in a relatively short period.  Higher rates will encourage broader lending because of higher net interest margins and will attract more deposits to fund it.  As it is, chronic near-zero interest rates compound bad debt expense from bank loans to the depressed oil and gas sector that crimp profits making new regulatory capital requirements more difficult to satisfy.  Rate normalization will re-circulate capital from inflated financial assets to the real economy to jump-start growth.  Such a scenario might even create the engine that pulls the global economy out of the doldrums, now beset by retrenchment in China, depressed commodity prices and widespread disinflation, deflation, devaluation, overcapacity and flat growth.

 

            The timing and pace of future rate increases is problematic today for those fearing impending recession.  But the Fed’s original plan to raise rates four times by the end of 2016 to 1% - 1 ½%, still below inflation, is not nearly enough to redirect significant capital from Wall Street to Main Street in the form of a transfer back to bank loans, deposits and money market instruments.  And the Fed is tentative even about that timetable in view of its fear of precipitating volatility in the financial markets.  Current mixed economic fundamentals give analysts pause, but the Fed’s waiting game has failed.  It is time to act aggressively.

 

The Fed should downplay traditional inflation, employment, growth and financial market considerations amid an aberrational monetary condition.  Rather, it should adopt a new damn-the-torpedoes policy that assigns priority to restoring natural monetary equilibrium by raising rates accordingly.  Despite areas of temporary weakness, considerable positive economic data today suggest the ability to withstand that change.  The cure will be well worth the medicine.


©2016 William J. Dodwell




Post-Crisis Secular Shifts in the Capital Markets and the Global Economy Could Foster a New Normal


By William J. Dodwell    August 20, 2016

 

Financial asset prices rise and fall all the time, while economic fundamentals move in cycles.  But some post-crisis changes suggest a new paradigm that will inhibit growth permanently.  Indeed, the more than seven year effort to recover from the Great Recession in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis has failed to produce even a return to normalcy as slow growth, stagnant wages and weak business investment around the world persist.  In fact, certain debilitative reforms in the U.S. impede recovery.  They include:  1) The Dodd-Frank Act; 2) The new preeminence of the Federal Reserve Bank and near-zero interest rates; 3) The demise of private-label mortgage securitization and the nationalization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; and 4) The possible reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act.  In addition, the British exit from the European Union holds potentially transformative consequences in Europe.


 Growth inhibitors


 The Dodd-Frank Act


            Excessive financial regulation under the Dodd-Frank Act has stifled lending, trading and liquidity, limiting credit availability and widening bid/ask spreads in security markets.  Since 2009 bank lending margins and investment in Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities have been inadequately profitable.  Newly restrictive capital, leverage liquidity and trading requirements for financial institutions prevent appropriate capital distribution needed for greater economic growth.  Consequently, businesses do not expand and new enterprises cannot get started, even though capital and jobs lost during the financial crisis have been restored beyond pre-crisis levels.  Massive consolidation in the banking industry has resulted in substantially more asset concentration and risk.  The biggest four banks after the crisis previously comprised 11 banks, 2 major securities firms and one asset-management firm just before the bust. 


            To be sure, some new regulation is salutary.  In view of the calamity of 2008, reasonably improved capital buffers are appropriate.  And, it is hoped current rules will significantly limit such abusive practices as misapplying mortgage payments, cheating credit card customers, passing off bad loans to unwitting investors, and overly-aggressive collection practices.  Most importantly, Dodd-Frank established strong mortgage underwriting standards.  (Unfortunately, in time politics has a way of eroding them.)  However, substantial restrictions on proprietary trading unduly curtail bank revenue and market liquidity.  In addition, the newly created Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) unnecessarily interferes with bank products and fees to the detriment of already paper thin profit margins.


            Too much immobile capital and operational restraint on banks that exceed prudent risk assessment seriously weigh on profits, the economy, and ultimately the quality of life.


Ultra-low interest rates and the new preeminence of the Federal Reserve Bank


            The Fed’s long insistence on not normalizing short-term interest rates has its adverse consequences.  Normal rates that would attract capital back to bank deposits and money market instruments that traditionally fund consumption and business investment would truly stimulate the real economy of goods and services while rewarding savers.  But that capital remains locked up in stocks and bonds as investors seek higher returns to escape the low interest-rate environment the Fed created.  And the central bank quintupled its balance sheet to $4.5 trillion (currently $4.2 trillion) since the financial crisis through the purchase of treasury and agency securities that produced historically low interest rates and unprecedented control over the economy.


The fear of precipitating a recession, or even creating volatility in the financial markets, dominates monetary policy.  After eight years, the Fed remains fixed on an elusive formula of concurrent growth, inflation and employment to justify any, much less substantial, rate increase.  This mindset exists among the other major central banks as well, thus ensuring continued global stagnation.  In Europe and Japan the obsession with monetary stimulus to combat deflation through lower interest rates has resulted in widespread negative interest rates, even for some long-term bonds, but to no avail.


            Complicating the role of the Fed is the interconnectedness of global economies and their dependence on the actions of the Fed.  Historically, oil and other commodity sales are transacted in dollars, and some countries have long pegged their currencies to the dollar.  But since the financial crisis, dollar-denominated lending around the world in the form of loans and bonds, as well as general international transactions, has increased dramatically.  As such, the Fed is more preeminent than ever and the dollar it controls is a major safe haven destination.  This makes international borrowers and investors especially sensitive to movements in interest rates and the dollar resulting from U.S. monetary policy.  As a consequence, the Fed has to worry about having a major influence on portfolio losses, credit availability and currency translation in foreign markets which in turn impact the American economy.  These far reaching effects inhibit much needed interest-rate normalization.


            A new book entitled “Who Needs the Fed?” by John Tamny theorizes a different approach to monetary policy akin to the gold standard.  He suggests replacing reliance on money created by the Fed that distorts capital flows to the detriment of economic growth.  Rather, he supports direct funding by lenders to borrowers from cash generated by profits realized from the lender’s production of goods and services.  In other words, lending cash derived from tangible economic resources, rather than from whimsical fiat money, can ensure a properly valued dollar, productive allocation of capital, and a more healthy economy.  This contrasts to today’s financial asset inflation born of years of extreme monetary easing that has resulted in chronically subpar growth.


            Until savers, investors and lenders have the incentive to transfer capital from the financial economy to the real economy through normal interest rates on loans, deposits and money market instruments, growth will stagnate.


The demise of private-label mortgage securitization and the nationalization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac


During the financial crisis the government nationalized insolvent Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by infusing it with some $190 billion of capital in exchange for 80% of the decimated common stock, as well as newly issued preferred stock.  As the market for mortgage-backed securities issued by private banks dried up in the wake of the subprime mortgage debacle, the government became an even more formidable force in the housing sector.  Today, some 60% of all mortgages valued at $5 trillion are owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac at taxpayer expense.


The demise of private-label mortgage securitization ended what was a valuable source of financing for originating banks, as well as credit for borrowers and general liquidity in the economy as lenders could sell off their mortgages to make room for more loans (of all sorts) on the balance sheet.  To date investors still have not restored their confidence in private mortgage-backed securities because of a lack of trust in the quality of the collateral born of fraud leading to the financial crisis, and an ongoing stagnant economy that invites defaults.  (Unlike, agency MBS, private issues are not protected against default.)  However, Dodd-Frank did institute important controls on mortgage underwriting and servicing, the absence of which underpinned the financial crisis.  As such, better quality mortgages have made private banks more inclined to retain whole loan mortgages to the extent they lend.


            Today it appears the two mortgage finance behemoths will continue under government conservatorship despite congressional debate about shrinking them, sharing risk with private banks, re-privatizing, or liquidation.  Reinforcing the government’s strangle hold is its confiscation of all profits which now have exceeded the original bailout in a contentious legal battle with shareholders.  But most disturbing is the political role these vehicles play, as before, in redistributing wealth through the federal affordable housing policy, again putting taxpayers at risk.  And now, the two companies are not disciplined by the stock market.


            Government control of Fannie and Freddie politicizes the housing sector putting taxpayers at risk of widespread mortgage defaults in an effort to advance government’s notion of social justice.  The danger is a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath.  Fannie and Freddie should wind down to share more mortgage risk with banks and private MBS investors.  But revitalization of private-label securitization depends on a growing economy, and as mentioned, investor confidence.


The possible reinstatement of Glass-Steagall


            Both the Democratic and Republican 2016 presidential campaign platforms call for reinstating in some form the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 that was repealed in 1999 under President Clinton.  This legislation separated commercial bank loan and deposit-taking operations from investment bank security underwriting, trading and advisory activities so not to put depositors at extra risk.  Proposed re-regulation is predicated on the mistaken belief that repeal of this law contributed to the 2008 financial crisis. 


But in fact, commercial banks, not investment banks, fostered the crisis through their lax mortgage lending in the origination of subprime mortgages.  Investment banks, along with only a couple of large commercial banks, engaged in highly leveraged proprietary trading of mortgaged-backed securities consisting of those subprime credits. Smaller banks suffered from defaults of individual subprime mortgages they originated, not MBS exposure.  


Plummeting MBS prices resulting from actual and anticipated defaults of subprime mortgages put bank capital in jeopardy creating a temporary liquidity crisis that caused buying and selling to come to a virtual standstill.  This prevented some counterparties from rolling over their short-term obligations precipitating a fear of actual or potential pandemic interbank contagion.  Exacerbating the debacle was insurer AIG’s undue concentration of unhedged credit default swaps which made the firm liable for covering huge unhedged MBS losses of counterparties.  As such, the underwriting and trading of MBS per se by investment banks did not create the financial crisis.  Rather, imprudent lending by commercial banks did.


Retail mortgage lenders, accommodated by the Fed’s longtime easy money policy, significantly relaxed underwriting standards largely at the behest of the federal government which was bent on expanding its affordable housing policy primarily aimed at low income borrowers.  The government also coerced Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to lower credit criteria they applied to mortgages they purchased from issuing banks, which they needed to issue their own federally guaranteed MBS.  That exposure put taxpayers on the hook for the losses.  Again, investment banks were not involved.


            The issuance and trading of MBS transacted by the largest commercial banks, as well as investment banks, followed from the rampant creation of subprime mortgages by originating commercial banks which sold off the risk to MBS investors (including other banks).  If sound underwriting had been maintained by the banks issuing mortgages, the MBS created from them would have held their value and not have caused the tsunami in the capital markets that ensued.  The off-balance sheet special purpose entities (the trusts that housed the mortgages securing MBS) that concealed some mortgage impairment, and are commonly blamed for the crisis, would have been moot.  In fact, securitization would have continued to provide beneficial liquidity to the economy by making credit more available and inherently less costly. 


Rather than separate commercial and investment banking under a revived Glass-Steagall, banks must ensure sound loan underwriting standards and maintain adequate capital to safeguard against losses, and thus avoid FDIC depositor claims.  In the unlikely event a bank still should fail, it could resort to an orderly bankruptcy, in conjunction with the FDIC, involving reorganization or liquidation without having to rely on a taxpayer bailout.  


Why should commercial banks not be permitted to engage in low risk fee-based investment banking activities such as securities underwriting, securitization, M&A advisory and client asset management that diversify revenues?  Restoring Glass-Steagall would eliminate that activity in commercial banks.  As to proprietary trading, is it riskier than bank lending?  It could be with too much leverage and opaque derivative overlays, but Dodd-Frank already safeguards against those excesses through the Volcker Rule, derivative exchanges, and stringent capital, leverage and liquidity requirements.  Institutional and individual speculative trading and investment now occurs largely in stand-alone hedge funds and private-equity funds. Proprietary trading at traditional investment banks are restricted by Dodd-Frank.  As such, restoring Glass-Steagall is moot from a risk standpoint.  But denying commercial banks the added profitability of innocuous non-trading investment banking activities is unnecessary and imprudent.  That said, one caveat is in order:  the tendency of the commercial banking arm to relax loan underwriting standards for investment banking clients to assure ongoing fee-based business.  Some kind of formal separation between the two sectors should be instituted like the traditional wall between securities underwriting and securities research.


The debate should concern the repeal of some of Dodd-Frank which immobilizes too much capital, imposes excessive compliance costs, and unduly restricts profits.   The repeal of the Volcker Rule in particular would resume more lucrative proprietary trading in commercial banks for extra revenue and market liquidity at reasonable risk given appropriate capital requirements.  But regulators and politicians overshoot the mark throwing out the baby with the bathwater in a call to separate all investment banking from commercial banks, only some of which even secondarily contributed to the financial crisis.  This, to the detriment of the financial system and the economy.


The Brexit


            Uncertainty abounds as many fret about whether the recent UK vote to leave the European Union will constitute an economic and political sea change, particularly affecting the financial center in London.  Wonderment about trade, regulation, taxes and the relationship with the EU could discourage already weak domestic and foreign business investment in the UK forcing relocation out of Britain.  In fact, several large M&A deals have been cancelled.  These developments have grave implications for corporate profits, employment, GDP and the value of the pound. 


In addition, the Bank of England’s effort to ease the impact will further postpone interest-rate normalization needed to fully restore the economy, compounding the harmful effects of chronic monetary easing.  In fact, the central bank has already reduced the benchmark short-term interest rate to a historically low .25% in response to the Brexit.  The BOE also plans to purchase corporate bonds along with government issues in its quantitative easing program for added breadth to the stimulus.


            What’s more, the Brexit could de-stabilize the EU by encouraging other members to defect.  Or, it might rekindle interest in Scotland to secede from the UK.    A weaker EU also invites Russian aggression in Eastern Europe.  But a renewed UK sovereignty may have its benefits.  Time will tell as to the degree of secular transformation.


Economic malaise


The global economy has been plagued by sclerotic growth since the financial crisis despite massive monetary stimulus.  In the U.S. dubious headline unemployment under 5% is misleading, as too many are underemployed or work part-time, and many who want to work go uncounted because they dropped out of the workforce in frustration.  In addition, monthly jobs created and lost reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) are suspect.  This agency conducts telephone interviews to determine the number of employed and unemployed.  Purportedly, if one reports unemployment he is coaxed by a series of questions to prompt an employed categorization which includes working as little as one hour for a family member, for example.  This way job creation figures can be seriously inflated by political motivation.  Genuine employment statistics could be easily ascertained by referring to the Treasury’s objective payroll data reported by employers.  What’s more, income levels have hardly budged in well over ten years. 


Excessive underemployment and part-time employment, as well as overstated job creation figures and flat wages explain why the official unemployment rate is so out of sync with anecdotal evidence of widespread economic hurt.


Amid global uncertainty, foreign investors have gravitated to safe haven dollar-denominated assets, especially Treasuries.  That has produced a chronically strong dollar that hampers U.S. exports and the overseas profits of multinational firms.  Dollar appreciation also suppresses oil prices to the detriment of a highly leveraged dominant energy industry.  


            Central banks in the U.S., Europe and Japan unsuccessfully fight entrenched low inflation or deflation through extreme monetary easing.  And economic reversals in China from too many bad loans issued in good times ended a major source of industrial demand for exporters around the world.  That overexpansion currently threatens the banking system.  Still looming are the effects of the U.S. subprime mortgage crisis because of the aforementioned regulatory overkill that goes far beyond redressing the relaxed underwriting standards that specifically caused it.  Other global drags include overextended public and private indebtedness in the U.S. and Europe, and a twenty five year refusal to write off bad loans in Japan.  Rock bottom and even negative interest rates coupled with chronically tepid economic growth and high unemployment throughout the world reflect dysfunctional financial and real economies that suggest a possible new paradigm.


A continued dearth of business investment in the U.S. precludes normal economic growth.  Businesses, beset by chronically soft market demand, limited credit, and uncertainty about taxes and regulation, withhold the investment that drives the production and consumption of goods and services needed to create quality jobs and complete economic recovery.  Instead, many companies buy back stock for a short-term fillip to earnings per share which may boost CEO compensation as well.  The highest corporate tax rate in the developed world, years of low productivity, and inadequate lending to small business do not augur well for capital investment in premises, equipment and technology any time soon.


A lot depends on China restoring its former growth rate so it can significantly contribute to global demand again.  As mentioned, its banking system is plagued by huge credit losses from an overleveraged economy which the government is trying to redress through a proposed $10 trillion bank bailout/bail-in and tighter regulation.  In the meantime, China deals with capital flight and restricts foreign investment.  China seeks to raise its profile in the capital markets by continuing to increase the convertibility of the yuan in commercial trade and financial transactions.  Also, sovereign issuers and corporations inside and outside China increasingly float yuan-denominated bonds in international markets.  The IMF’s recent acceptance of the yuan in its benchmark basket of world currencies helps toward attaining much desired safe haven status which will bolster demand for the currency.  But a worsening of China’s economy came to light after the IMF’s decision raising a question about a change of heart.  One wonders how long this state run economy will take to recover and become a major catalyst to global growth as it was not long ago.


            The world economies have slowed as expansionary government diverts capital from productive deployment in the private sector through excessive taxes, spending and regulation.  Protracted massive monetary easing to stimulate growth has failed.  Political forces have precluded corrective monetary and fiscal measures in the form of interest-rate normalization, tax cuts and regulatory reform, seemingly content with just avoiding a recession.  The question becomes whether the long dry spell reflects secular change, or an extended cyclical condition that will eventually revert to normal.  The effects of aging work forces, minimal productivity and towering debt will prolong the status quo unless countries can overcome the political obstacles to real solutions.


Distorted and diverted capital flows


            The function of the capital markets is to provide an efficient allocation of capital between lenders and borrowers consistent with productive investment and consumption for optimal economic growth.  This system largely depends on the economic incentives of commercial and investment banks, as well as asset management firms, to readily serve as intermediaries in bringing lenders, borrowers and investors together.  Certain forces disrupt efficient capital flows at the expense of the economy which may or may not change.


Monetary policy


Misguided monetary policy has created protracted historically low interest rates, even negative short-term and long-term rates, which distort capital flows because they materially suppress bank net interest margins to discourage lending.  These rates also minimize income from money market instruments to force investors to seek greater returns through riskier investments from stocks to third world bonds and beyond.  As a consequence, investors have inflated unproductive financial assets in the quest for higher returns to the detriment of the real economy, especially small businesses, which is starved of traditional capital from banks.  Extremely low interest rates also prevent pension funds from meeting their investment targets, thus exacerbating under-funded liabilities.  Low investment returns also restrict the ability of insurers to pay claims.  At the same time, individual, institutional and government borrowers capitalize on cheap money to take on excessive debt.  Yet when rates become negative as in Europe, some consumers see a sign of macroeconomic instability that prompts saving (in gold or the mattress), rather than the stimulative borrowing and spending intended by the central bank.


            The quest for yield creates anomalous demand for higher return securities that artificially suppresses yield, thus undermining bond spreads and true credit risk.  Yield chasing investment results in a less than optimal allocation of capital in the economy.  Moreover, overly interventionist monetary policy creates volatility in foreign-exchange markets that complicates free trade by encouraging currency manipulation.  And ongoing quantitative easing distorts the traditional relationship between interest rates and currency values.  As such, the anticipated central bank purchase of bonds may cause the corresponding currency to appreciate even when interest rates are cut.  In addition, the Federal Reserve Bank’s multitrillion-dollar Treasury portfolio amassed from several years of quantitative easing has created a shortage of collateral needed for interbank trading causing financing costs to rise.  Chronically distorted capital movements in the financial economy have serious implications for the world economies it is meant to accommodate.


Regulation


            New strictures on banks limit credit available for traditional capital formation and economic growth.  Increased capital requirements meant to safeguard the too-big-to-fail banks disproportionately constrain the community banks that finance small businesses, the underpinning of the economy.  Narrow lending margins and the added compliance costs of risk management, reporting and technology hit small banks harder as they, absent enough capital, are forced to curtail operations.  In fact, some banks have to merge to realize economies of scale.  The burden of low interest rates, added compliance costs, as well as major credit losses resulting from slow global growth, have seriously impacted banks around the world.


The biggest banks have to endure extra capital buffers, curb operations and pass stringent annual stress tests.  In the U.S., this means the four largest banks, which consolidated from 37 financial firms since 1990 according to Barron’s, will have significantly less capital available for lending and investment.  Further restricting bank capital and profitability are tougher loan loss provisions to be required by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) in 2020 in response to the financial crisis.  That rule calls for recognizing losses faster through a forward looking estimate when loans are issued rather than recording them after the fact.  The Comptroller of the Currency estimated loan loss reserves will increase 30%-50% industry-wide.  All told, post-crisis regulatory restrictions on bank capital will seriously diminish market liquidity and hamper economic growth. 


Restrictions on proprietary trading under the opaque Volcker Rule restrain client market-making and general liquidity in the secondary market at the expense of bid/ask spreads and added profits for banks.  In reaction, banks shift emphasis to fee-based client asset-management.  They also invest in private equity, hedge funds, and real estate, but those investments are now limited to 3% of tier 1 capital.  Banks currently carrying such holdings above that threshold must sell them by July 2017 at the risk of incurring losses because of diminished liquidity.  New derivatives exchanges and contract standardization, as well as short-term financing (repurchase agreements) limitations are aimed at reducing risk in the financial system. 


            The significant ebb in initial public offerings indicates disaffection with regulation and potential litigation.  More companies seek the refuge of a private-equity firm with its management expertise and freedom from government tentacles.


But thank God for small favors.  The FASB has proposed relaxing accounting rules governing derivatives associated with reasonable risk transactions.  This will help especially non-financial companies that engage in non-speculative hedges of materials costs.


Major foreign banks are curtailing U.S. operations because of onerous regulation.  Some critics call for breaking up the biggest U.S. banks to reduce systemic risk.  At least that would justify relaxing some of the new regulation and freeing up capital for the economy.  In the aftermath of the financial crisis the risk/reward calculus has been recalibrated to overly restrict economic activity – perhaps for a very long time.  


Alternative lending


            In response to changing bank practices the direct repo has emerged where money market funds, for example, lend directly to large investors, such as insurers, pension funds and endowments, in exchange for treasury securities collateral.  Those lenders bypass traditional bank intermediaries which are less interested in repurchase agreements now because of the extremely low interest compensation.  Rather, banks tend to hoard some riskless treasury securities previously used as collateral in repurchase agreement transactions because now they are needed to meet more stringent capital requirements, to the detriment of the repo market.  Asset-management firms also now lend directly to wealthy individuals.  And to some extent, private investor groups lend directly to companies in the place of banks that have cut back leverage loans that finance borrowers’ acquisitions because of high regulatory capital set-asides required of these assets.


Online non-banks bypass the regulatory impediments and fill a credit void for individual and small business borrowers.  They evaluate and process loan applications and raise loan capital from investors, rather than depositors, who purchase and securitize the loans. Online lenders now issue FHA insured loans as many banks exit that area.  But investor concern about data transparency and credit quality currently makes loans more difficult to sell forcing lenders to carry some of them on the balance sheet and assume the credit risk. In fact, the Department of Justice has filed what seems to be a petty lawsuit against Quicken Loans, a leading online lender, for misrepresenting the quality of loans to the FHA on what Quicken claims are minor technicalities.  The government does not like those operating outside the regulatory ambit. (Regulators betray a similar animus against for-profit schools in a long effort to tighten control and even close them, although some of the schools deserve that fate.) Nonetheless, bank lending has loosened up of late as the Fed has begun to appreciate the plight of small banks.  But economic sclerosis continues.


Securitization and other financing


Private-label mortgage-backed, as well as asset-backed, securitizations are still a small fraction of the levels attained before the financial crisis, although many legacy issues predating the crisis have recovered substantially in the secondary market.  The demise is mainly attributed to a continued lack of investor confidence in loan quality, despite new mortgage regulation governing underwriting criteria and issuer retention.  Once burned, twice shy can last a long time.  Private securitization used to provide important liquidity to the economy by enabling lenders to sell loans to investors to make room for new ones. 


For every action there is a reaction.  As such, the quality of auto and credit card lending has declined as banks compete amid Dodd-Frank restrictions on trading, mortgages and other products.  In addition, corporations issue more preferred stock in lieu of bonds to accommodate regulatory capital restrictions on institutional investors.  Also more common for that reason are convertible contingent (coco) bonds which convert to equity when capital falls below a pre-specified level.  Structural changes in capital structures raise the cost of capital and reduce liquidity as fewer investors are available.  This further drags on the economy.


Investors still rely highly on the three major rating agencies for a determination of bond quality, despite their failure in rating mortgage-backed securities during the financial crisis.  Now the SEC, in accordance with Dodd-Frank, requires them to disclose their rating methodologies.  However, SEC reports indicate continued violations out of a failure to adhere to new rating procedures.  What’s more, Micah Hauptman, financial services counsel to the Consumer Federation of America, says the deficiencies are “eerily familiar” and he questions the resolve of the SEC to pursue them.  (NY Times 1/10/16, “Still Missing The Mark On Ratings” by Gretchen Morgenson)  Could the loss of investor confidence in private-label MBS extend to other financial markets because of the continued market share considerations of the rating agencies?  Economic growth depends on integrity in the capital markets.


Too much government interference


            As government looms ever larger over the U.S. economy politics further intrudes policy, preventing real solutions.  Businesses have to adjust or cease to exist.  As mentioned, the government has issued myriad mandates over lending and trading while the Fed controls a $4.2 trillion balance sheet of securities that holds sway over the financial system.  And imperious health care and environmental regulation take their toll.  Yet, Washington DC seeks more power.  This is not good as history shows that business downturns always have been abetted by government interference.


Fiscal policy and financial regulation


The excessive diversion of capital from the private economy to government through taxation, borrowing and spending reduces the incentive to produce, as the wealth of businesses and individuals is redistributed throughout the economy.  What’s more, regulation is encouraging financial institutions to direct more capital to government securities rather than those issued by banks and corporations in a trend called “financial repression”.  This is a result of government exempting Treasuries from today’s sky-high regulatory capital set-asides. 


In addition, new regulation requires institutional non-government money market funds investing in bank C/Ds and corporate commercial paper to allow net asset valuations to float rather than remain fixed at $1.  These funds are also subject to new liquidity rules that permit customer fees when a ready market is not available for certain securities.  As a consequence, investors in money market funds require higher returns as compensation which in turn forces the funds to command higher rates on short-term borrowings of banks, corporations and municipalities.  The regulatory bias for government financial assets, coupled with the Fed’s historically low interest rates that accommodate more government borrowing, creates a massive redirection of capital away from the private sector. And this pattern is evident worldwide.


The Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), chaired by the Treasury Secretary, strives to further regulate the asset management industry and even large insurers on grounds of systemic risk from panic redemptions and massive claim defaults.  MetLife successfully challenged its “systemically important financial institution” (SIFI) designation, which carries extra capital restrictions, as a court dismissed the government’s case as utterly baseless.  But GE Capital sold $180 billion of financial assets rather than endure, or challenge, SIFI status.


The Department of Labor recently established fiduciary responsibility standards for all financial advisers but exempts state run retirement plans.  This exception is a blatant attempt by government to control eventually trillions of dollars of retirement funds by marginalizing competing private brokerage firms.  Similarly, President Obama’s My IRA is a federal vehicle for capturing retirement funds.  Most investments in government funds will be directed to low return government bond funds that finance political agendas.


Consumer banking


The Consumer Finance Protection Board (CFPB) established by Dodd-Frank construes discrimination in home and auto lending through “disparate impact” arguments to make more credit available to low income borrowers.  This principle declares de facto discrimination simply on the basis of statistical distributions of credit without any evidence of intent to discriminate.  In the circumstance traditional credit criteria for assessing the ability of borrowers to repay is irrelevant.  Government redistribution of wealth rears its ugly head again.  The agency is entirely independent as it gets unlimited funding from the Federal Reserve and is not accountable to Congress.  In response to an industry and congressional outcry, the constitutionality of the agency is under challenge in the courts.


Bank settlements


            The Department of Justice extracted some $37 billion from banks in settlement of charges of mortgage improprieties during the financial crisis.  Much of it was directed to left-leaning community groups, such as organizations formerly known as ACORN.  This is another redistribution of wealth to low income populations by bypassing congressional budget authority.  Defrauded private securitization investors received no compensation, having to rely on their own ineffective private lawsuits against banks.  Incidentally, Trustees who were supposed to represent the aggrieved private MBS investors were beholden to the issuing banks that hired them for their failed securitizations in order to get future business.  They therefore did not prosecute vigorously on behalf of their investors.  No wonder private-label securitization is still dead in the water since the financial crisis. 


As Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s former Chief of Staff, said, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste.”  The government milked the financial crisis for all it was worth, including bilking the large financial institutions, to advance the agenda of the left. 


Global debt


            Extremely low interest rates engendered by central banks have spawned some $51 trillion of corporate debt worldwide, far outpacing economic growth, according to S&P Global Ratings.  Some state governments, such as Illinois, and the territory of Puerto Rico, face insurmountable debt requiring serious restructuring.  The lack of political will to curb spending on the overgenerous social programs and pensions that created the debt portends negatively for long-term secular economic growth.  In addition, excessive sovereign debt in the U.S., Europe and Japan continues to grow disproportionately to the economy as central banks accommodate borrowing with low and even negative rates.  Indeed, nearly $12 trillion of government debt carries negative yields, according to S&P Global Ratings.  


Excessive private debt in emerging markets throttles global growth.  Protracted historically low interest rates created a chase for yield into these investments that financed massive production for export when commodity prices were high.  Now debt has come home to roost, much of it denominated in appreciated U.S. dollars, as commodities plummeted.  Similarly, liberal state controlled lending in China and an extensive shadow banking system created a boom and bust.  That reversal weighs heavily on the world economy now that materials imported by China for development are no longer in demand.


The portfolio losses yield-seeking investors would incur on longer durations of these huge debt holdings from rising inflation and interest rates seriously deter rate normalization needed for full economic recovery.  They also raise the specter of debt crises triggering massive defaults and a sudden withdrawal of credit with dire economic consequences.


            To the extent below-market interest rates are baked into the financial and economic fabric, the incentive to borrow will continue, especially by federal governments.  Corporations, individuals, and state and local jurisdictions eventually have to cut spending, restructure, or default to resolve their debt problems, absent sufficient revenue or income.  But federal governments can create money through the central banks.  Considering their addiction to fiat money for several years, they likely will continue the habit fostered by political predisposition at the expense of global growth.


The political landscape


            The politics are not particularly encouraging for free market capitalism.  Even Senator Dodd and Congressman Frank acknowledged necessary flexibility in Dodd-Frank as dictated by future experience when their bill passed in 2010.  But while Trump supports repeal and replacement, a Clinton administration, would not abide it, succumbing to the suasion of the now influential Senator Bernie Sanders and financial reform crusader, Senator Elizabeth Warren.  Both Clinton and Trump are committed to social programs, despite Trump’s wailing about the national debt.  And both candidates pander to the increasing populist sentiment about trade and the jobs it costs. 


As mentioned, the 2016 Republican platform calls for restoring the separation of commercial banking and securities activities under the Glass Steagall Act of 1933.  Uncharacteristically, Hillary Clinton does not commit to entirely reinstating the law in the Democratic platform.  (Might her Wall Street political donations be a factor?)  Both Clinton and Trump advocate major infrastructure projects to stimulate growth a la President Roosevelt’s WPA.  But that construction likely would only run up the debt and create short-term stimulus.  In addition, it would enrich the labor unions to which Trump has been obligated for years to ensure peace at his building sites, and on whom he looks for major support in the November election. (So does Clinton.)  Infrastructure projects are fraught with politics and corruption that undermine economic benefit by diverting capital from productive private investment.


Trump proposes lower taxes, including only a 10% rate on repatriated overseas profits that would return some $2 trillion to the U.S. economy.  Some of the tax savings would induce employers to raise wages and break the chronic rut of flat inflation-adjusted incomes.  Clinton is loath to accommodate business, and would continue the Treasury’s strong resistance to so-called corporate inversions by which American corporations move their headquarters overseas to take advantage of much lower tax rates.  Trump’s tax cut would stimulate the economy but it is also aimed at curtailing corporate inversions.  In 2015 U.S. companies experienced record foreign investment through acquisition, largely prompted by their opportunity to pay the lower taxes of acquiring company domiciles, especially Ireland.   


Some campaign promises require congressional approval, but a presidency can act unilaterally through executive order, as well as the rulemaking powers of its agencies.  Even the mere prospect of continued taxes, regulation and government intervention for another presidential term or more raises the specter of structural change that impinges on economic growth for the long-term.  Just in recent years the federal government has taken over health care and student loans and continues to engage more in housing. And the administration still relaxes mortgage lending criteria to qualify for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Federal Housing Authority (FHA) guarantees and insurance in the interest of its affordable housing policy aimed at lower income borrowers.  Institutional memories are short.


Growing government interference and its redistribution of wealth adversely affect the cost and availability of capital in the private economy.  What’s more, they suppress aggregate demand and production incentives essential for growth and prosperity.  Critics argue that less risk in the financial system and alleviation of social ills are worth that price.  True to a degree, of course.  But without adequate growth the standard of living declines for all.  Public sector predominance can reach a point where the economic pie grows steadily smaller.  In view of the accretion of debt and regulation in the last eight years, that may be on the horizon.


Economic impact of structural changes in the world economy


Secular or cyclical change?


            Do post-crisis aberrations in the financial markets and the economy, greater government intrusion, and an increasingly liberal body politic portend economic and social structural transformation and a new normal?  Or, is the status quo just a sign of cyclical change bent on reverting to the mean as robust growth eventually resumes in response to traditional agents such as improved interest rates, employment, capital investment and elections?  What is the tipping point that triggers a return to normalcy after more than seven years of economic lassitude following the Great Recession? 


Ultimately, the solution comes down to monetary and fiscal policies, regulatory relief, and a competitive workforce which in turn bolster business and consumer confidence and growth.  This means the turning point depends much on politics at a time when conservative policies lack strong support.  In addition, new technologies take on an increasing role in the economy as businesses rely more on technological advances to improve production and productivity.  Indeed, the top S&P 500 companies by market capitalization are technology leaders replacing the oil giants and materials producers of yore.  So, while political forces suppress the economy, technology lifts it.  On balance, what are the prospects?


Creative destruction


            In the 1970s the U.S. experienced what economist Joseph Schumpeter called “creative destruction” as manufacturing gave way to the predominance of the service economy, creating a “rust belt” in its wake, amid a more educated workforce and technological advances.  As global competition intensified, U.S. businesses outsourced production to cheaper overseas environments.  In time, a marked rise in imports and foreign investment in the U.S. reduced domestic market share for many American companies. 


Eventually, new technology and service industries were born creating new jobs that far outnumbered the ones lost.  The internet and mobile devices have forged new industries once unimaginable. In recent years the security exchanges have seen massive global consolidation as a result of technological innovation that has added enormous capacity and speed to processing transactions.  Consider the turnover of companies in the Fortune 500 and the S&P 500 that reflects astounding innovation.  And prosperity was endemic.  From the early 1980s relatively free markets produced nearly 20 years of almost continuous prosperity.  But that was when government was friendly to private enterprise amid traditional monetary policy.  Subsequently, the government got too much in the way with its taxation, spending, regulation and easy money.


            The present malaise derives from much different change.  It results from historically low interest rates, onerous taxes, runaway government spending and stifling regulation in the U.S.  It combines with smothering debt and a struggling banking system in Europe, Japan and China (no excessive sovereign debt) to throttle global demand.  Historically, interest rates, taxes and even regulation fluctuate with political cycles.  But how long will it take to normalize interest rates, significantly cut taxes and reform regulation.  It has not happened in over seven years.  In the U.S. tepid growth largely reflects the liberal policies of a single administration.  That can change with the right successor.  But can a continued status quo reach the point of no return?


The national debt at $19 trillion has nearly doubled since 2009 to more than 100% of the economy under the most liberal president in U.S. history. (It’s much worse in Europe and Japan)  There is little prospect that this trend will abate in the next administration as neither Clinton nor Trump is committed to spending cuts, despite Trump’s carping about the debt.  And when does Congress ever cut spending, the 2011 sequestration notwithstanding?  What’s more, the groundswell for student debt forgiveness along with free public college tuition, the move toward a single payer health care system, and other entitlements do not bode well.  Government spending is particularly problematic considering even emergency expenditures, such as Obama’s stimulus, get permanently imbedded in the budget baseline in future years.  Politicians do not want zero-based budgeting. 


Creative destruction will occur on the technology front, probably with serious implications for income distribution.  But entrenched liberal politics and increasing public sympathy for it will erode the traditional meritocratic model that assured steady growth for so long.


Central bank inertia


            Continued low interest rates imposed by central banks afraid of the slightest short-term market reaction will prevent capital from migrating from the inflated financial economy to the real economy of goods and services, thus assuring continued sluggish growth.  The Fed and other central banks seem to be satisfied with just avoiding a recession.  That is not enough!  What is the prospect of sufficient political will to normalize interest rates?  Probably not much. 


Besides the fear of roiling the financial markets, central banks are globalist and collectivist by nature, and are therefore perhaps overly amenable to global interdependence considerations.  This raises the question as to how committed the Fed is to restoring growth in the U.S. economy.  The unprecedented size of its balance sheet with its potential impact on the markets, plus the ability to accommodate government spending by keeping interest rates historically low, makes the Fed a formidable force.  Raising rates by selling off assets would seem to diminish it.  The phenomenon is akin to government’s resistance to lessening its power by cutting spending.  


The Fed’s hubris derives from its expanded post-crisis role assigned by Congress despite its failure to act on reckless lending prior to the crisis.  The central bank illegally nationalized AIG and sold the equity on behalf of the Treasury for a $23 billion profit.  It provides unlimited funding to the Consumer Finance Protection Board.  And, it conducts opaque stress tests on SIFIs to determine whether they may pay dividends or buy back stock. 


One speculates whether the long-term benefits to the economy are secondary to preserving the Fed’s power in accordance with its collectivist sympathies.  Given its control over chronic ultra-low interest rates and the historic size of the Fed’s portfolio, is the long feckless monetary policy that produced that anomaly an enabling instrument and a new normal?  It’s no wonder many call for auditing the Fed’s surreptitious decision-making models.


Regulation


Excessive financial regulation that requires extra capital set-asides and restricts product reduces liquidity in the capital markets limiting credit availability, especially for small businesses.  In addition, draconian non-financial regulation over health care, the environment and labor discourages business investment needed to create jobs.  Have those forces produced secular change that limits future economic growth?


Employment and income equality


A poor education system forces businesses dependent on highly skilled employees to rely on H-1B immigrants resulting in social discord among the unqualified.  In addition, inflated union wages and cheap foreign labor prompt employers to outsource production overseas so they can price their products competitively with imports in the U.S.  As a consequence, less educated American-born workers and displaced overpriced employees are left in the lurch with serious implications for careers and economic growth.  Government sanctions on the free flow of goods and on the movement of production outside the U.S. to protect American workers, as Trump proposes, will invite chaos.  Trading partners will reciprocate protectionist practices.  And citizens will revolt against higher prices and less consumer selection resulting from import restrictions, the trade deficit notwithstanding. 


The failure to restore normal economic growth for so long has yielded greater income inequality and structural unemployment.  Inadequate job creation is the culprit, founded on a widening skills and education gap, automation, and, of course, excessive taxes and regulation.  A near 40-year low in the labor participation rate tells the story somewhat, even considering the legions of retiring baby boomers.  It appears many younger people are opting for college over underemployment possibly because of the dearth of quality jobs available.  For the same reason, a good number of discouraged job seekers dropped out of the work force.  The prospect of a sustained strong growth of good jobs would seem weak, especially in view of little business investment. 


A new paradigm emerges.  Income inequality at the bottom is largely a result of structural change from the outsourcing of factory production to less costly overseas locations.  Angus Deaton, winner of the 2015 economics Nobel Prize, worries that income inequality at the top undermines democracy as the wealthy acquire undue power.  And a study by the Heritage Foundation finds that the government tries to compensate for income inequality through greater income redistribution from top earners to lower earners such that the latter are discouraged from working, thus exacerbating the inequality.


The real unemployment rate which takes into account the many underemployed and part-time workers, as well as those who have left the labor market out of despair, engenders income inequality and intensifies disparities between the haves and have nots.  (Certain income inequality is inevitable in a meritocratic society given differences in education, work ethic and ability, especially as the economy places a greater premium on the smart and educated.)  Structural unemployment and underemployment could assure ongoing slow growth that continues to suppress wages and reduce the standard of living. 


Perhaps the further commoditization of more highly skilled work in today’s “gig economy”, as well as the new “sharing economy”, will compensate for adverse structural changes in the employment market in Schumpeterian fashion.  But new technologies could aggravate the problem as capital replaces labor through automation.  Some futurists theorize the eventual omnipotence of technology through robots will render labor unnecessary such that everyone can enjoy a life of leisure.  But in the meantime radically skewed income distributions between the highly skilled and less skilled will be problematic.  


The solution is to mitigate structural employment and income inequality by growing the economy through fiscal and regulatory reform in a normal interest-rate environment.  This would create jobs for displaced workers, but structural mismatches between some jobs and available workers would remain as creative destruction ensues in a continually modernizing economy.


The body politic


Today, fiscal policy embraces egalitarian principles that promote inclusiveness over excellence while regulation discourages business investment.  Meanwhile, fiat money generated by the Fed replaces production-based capital to finance widespread government assistance and intervention.  All this monetary, fiscal and regulatory interference is the mark of a Marxist socialist state seen throughout Europe.  Will the U.S. follow suit?  Given the growing drift from meritocratic principles in American politics, in the face of an increasing predisposition to government assistance, the much maligned 2% economic growth of the last eight years may one day seem quixotic.  Indeed, the economy slowed to only 1% growth in the first half of 2016.


  Committed growth advocates among elected officials are too few and changing public attitudes about reliance on government do not augur well.  An increasingly entrenched political left, substantially founded on a new disaffected generation that emerged in the aftermath of the financial crisis, does not value, or even understand, free market capitalism.  As such, that population has no shame looking to the government for maximum assistance as it implements wealth redistributionist policies antithetical to real growth solutions.  A cultural sea change at odds with free market economics is at hand.  Indeed, meritocracy has yielded to egalitarianism in a society that celebrates wealth redistribution over production as more and more capital migrates from the private economy to government.


            The universal solution lies in minimal public spending, taxation and regulation to foster economic growth in an unfettered private economy.  Without question this can be achieved.  But unless the current trend to the contrary reverses, a new normal will arrive with a greater disparity between the haves and the have nots.  Nonetheless, a new paradigm may be inevitable regardless where the requisites of the new economy do not match available workers. 


The question then becomes whether the displaced can adjust to the needs of the private economy by reinventing themselves through new skills and aspirations.  If not, the state might have more of a role in accommodating them in the interest of social justice, especially as the political mindset of the populace drifts leftward.  The eternal question of where to draw the line between self-reliance and government subsistence would be re-evaluated in an atmosphere of diminishing growth prospects.  A new normal might have arrived already.         


                                                                                    ©2016 William J. Dodwell

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