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POLITICS


Miscellaneous Thoughts Posted to Linked In Between October and December 2017

By William J. Dodwell

 

  • A STARK REMINDER.  Amid the evaluations of President Trump’s first year performance, we should consider its stark contrast to the record of ills Barack Obama bequeathed us. We see the deep state he entrenched in government to foster the continuance of the radical left and to thwart the new president.  In particular, we witness the corruption of the Department of Justice and the FBI under AGs Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch at Obama’s behest. We must remember Obama’s stealth socialism and anti-Americanism to help ensure such a president is never installed again. Recall the adage that warns that he who ignores history is destined to repeat it.  In that spirit I re-post the article I wrote denouncing the Obama legacy following Trump’s election in 2016 entitled, “Good Riddance To The Scoundrel-In-Chief”. http://www.williamjdodwell.com/special-notice-1  12/28/17
  • TRUMP’S FIRST YEAR IN OFFICE: A PROFILE IN COURAGE.  As the year closes it is fitting to assess the performance of the president’s first year in office.  As a Ted Cruz supporter in April 2016 I wrote an article in The Comprehensive Conservative entitled, “Donald Trump:  Change Agent or Buffoon?”  http://www.williamjdodwell.com/archives/archives_finance-the-economy/all-website-commentaries_2#Link-41  The piece portrayed a Trump profile consistent with certain conservative principles in his policy proposals, but also one fraught with unorthodox personality characteristics that called into question his fitness for office.  At the time I stressed the need for a president who has the courage and commitment to “break the mold” of traditional Republican politics.  I believed both Cruz and Trump had that quality, but favored the former because of his substance. 

After nearly a year in office, Trump has demonstrated two particular truths.  One is that a good president does not have to be a towering intellect with a silver tongue, or even close.  Secondly, he showed the primacy of courage in effecting necessary change as he bucked the establishment, rejected protocol, defied political correctness, and challenged the media for their vilifying lies and propaganda. And he does it in the face of intense opposition in Congress and the deep state bent on his impeachment.  Trump is to be applauded for his support for tax cuts and deregulation as agents for economic growth, for conservative judicial appointments, for sovereignty through a secure border and controlled immigration, for a strong military, and for continuing America’s preeminence.  His success in already implementing some related policies renders decorum ancillary. Rather, it was his courage that won the day.  Indeed, the importance of this presidential requisite is a new realization, particularly when viewed in stark contrast to his feckless predecessor.  

 

Examples of Trump’s courageous acts include: 1) Withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord; 2)  Bombing Syria for using chemical weapons; 3) Committing to moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem;  4) Speaking bluntly about and to North Korea; 5) Arming Ukraine against the Russians; 6) Insisting that NATO members pay their fair share; 7) Calling for a selective Muslim travel ban; 8) Starting the process of building a wall on the southern border; 9) Unconditionally destroying ISIS in Syria and Iraq; 10) Cutting the U.S. United Nations budget; and 11) Substantially nullifying Obama’s legacy through executive orders. All this demonstrated a degree of courage not seen in modern times, not even by Reagan and Truman.  Trump’s trade policy, dubious to some conservatives, at least showed backbone in his withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and in the renegotiation of NAFTA on the ground that fair trade must accompany free trade. Is Trump’s trade posture motivated by private knowledge of surreptitious redistributionist concessions of previous administrations imbedded in trade agreements influenced by globalist forces?  

 

The “Never Trumpers” forever lament the impurities of his conservatism.  But making the perfect the enemy of the good is impractical.  I support their call for a new conservative party to supplant the Republican establishment.  But it has to be an incremental undertaking that gradually changes the traditional paradigm while improving the status quo.  Trump has begun to do that.  To be sure, it’s no more Mr. Nice Guy. Nor should it be.  12/26/17

  • A MUSICAL MERRY CHRISTMAS.  In the spirit of Christmas I present another two of my piano solos for the cultural conservatives out there.  The first one is that old work horse, “The Christmas Song” at https://youtu.be/GivJtMPobwU composed by jazz singer, Mel Torme´.  Then I get down and dirty with “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree” at https://youtu.be/QlN8YX_uUhs written by Johnny Marks, who composed a number of Christmas hits in the 1950s and 1960s.  Of course, “The little girl with the big voice”, Brenda Lee, popularized this song heard incessantly every year at this time since she recorded it in 1958.  Both selections are taken from my 2009 Christmas album (self-produced).  For more of my piano recordings see my YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrgNxZBhgoNNZ6nmb7SAKxA    12/20/17

  • A MOST POLITICALLY INCORRECT REMARK 

https://sites.google.com/site/thecomprehensiveconservative/special-notice

12/19/17

  • RESPONSE TO READER ABOUT OMAROSA.  Allow me to respectfully rebut your brief critique of my commentary.  I wrote a combination of fact, opinion, speculation and inference, with a requisite infusion of political incorrectness.  Let’s look at each component, although I can’t annotate everything in this small space.  FACT:  1) Omarosa’s dramatic exit from her Whitehouse job; 2) Her uninvited attendance at some of the president’s meetings; 3) Her claim to Chief of Staff Kelly in response to her firing that she helped get Trump elected; 4) Former press secretary Sean Spicer’s offer of a Deputy Communications Director position to Katrina Pierson.  And I didn’t mention the report that Omarosa showed up at the Whitehouse with a 39-person wedding party unbeknownst to security personnel.  All this was reported by The Wall Street Journal, the New York Post and Fox News - just by my observation. See a recent cover of the New York Post and report of its story by The Hill at http://thehill.com/homenews/media/364853-ny-post-cover-shows-illustration-of-omarosa-being-dragged-out-of-the-white April Ryan is a lead television reporter of the incident.  The Hill, and others, also reported on Sean Spicer’s job offer to Katrina Pierson http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/323843-report-katrina-pierson-turned-down-top-white-house-job  OPINION: 1) Omarosa lied about the nature of her departure. The widely reported facts cited above are credible. I daresay her denial on Good Morning America was not credible to most viewers.  2) She might sign a tell-all book deal trashing Trump and would lie in the process.  My use of the word “might” speaks for itself.  Her spilling the beans is quite plausible given her personality, perceived greed and possible vengeance. I believe she would likely “do anything” for a price. Others have intimated a book deal, including Tucker Carlson. 3) Omarosa is an undistinguished woman who was hired by Trump because she’s black. Her resume is pretty thin for having had such a relationship with Trump that gave her regular access to the Whitehouse. (She did work in Al Gore’s office when he was Vice President.)  The politics of television and the presidency make affirmative action a plausible factor in her hiring.  4) She is despised by many.  I gleaned this from what I referred to as the “many accounts” about dissention among her co-workers over time.  She didn’t make any friends at The National Association of Black Journalists in August. Here’s a New York Times report that attests to her likability problem. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/11/us/politics/omarosa-manigault-newman-nabj.html  Perhaps you’re fixed on my speculation about Katrina Pierson’s security clearance at the end of my piece? I hesitate to speak ill of a tea party conservative but I feel compelled in defense of my journalistic integrity.  The basis of my conjecture is the fact that she pled guilty to shoplifting which might have disqualified her in a background check for Spicer’s nice job offer.  Here’s one of many references: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katrina_Pierson  In addition, there was an inconclusive dispute about her fraudulently collecting unemployment insurance after returning to work. Google it. As to your intimation of “fake news”, that’s what CNN and MSNBC do with their panels of seven that obsess for days over Romney’s “binders of women” and the sexist implications of Trump’s recent comment that “[Senator Kirstin Gillebrand]would do anything” for a campaign donation from him some years ago.  Fact and opinion based on credible reports and reasoned inferences and speculation are legitimate, even if controversial. 12/19/17

  • RESPONSE TO READER ABOUT TAX CUT.  Tax cuts under Presidents Kennedy and Reagan certainly had long-term beneficial supply-side effects.  To a lesser extent, so did George W. Bush’s, contrary to liberal claims.  In addition, the investment community anticipates such a sustained stimulus as evidenced by the tremendous rise in stock prices since Trump’s election.  The “trickle down” effect is a tired old left-wing mantra refuted by the examples I mentioned.  But the fundamental fiscal problem is government spending.  Without that gross excess, tax revenue wouldn’t be so problematic.  My prescription for years has been:  slash spending; slash taxes; and slash regulation.  It’s a formula for economic Nirvana.  Merry Christmas. 12/18/17

  • TOKEN HIRE, OMAROSA, COULD BACKFIRE ON TRUMP.  Given her mean mien and bitterness over her recent ignominious dismissal from her Whitehouse job, Omarosa Manigault Newman might be amenable to joining forces with Trump impeachment-seeking Democrat operatives to pen a lucrative tell-all book that seriously damages the president.  Indeed, she had a front row seat as she reportedly sat in at some of the president’s meetings uninvited.  And then there is what she would simply make up, such as stories about racism in the Whitehouse.  I would think Trump is nervous about this. 

The irony of this undistinguished person having such access to the president is rich. Let’s face it.  Trump brought Omarosa into his orbit solely because she is black.  He hired this utterly talentless individual for his “Apprentice” television series doubtless out of diversity considerations.  Later he gave her a campaign role and a make-work job in the Administration to reach out to the black community.  Omarosa claims she contributed to Trump’s surprisingly high black vote (8%) in 2016 and on that basis, as well as because of her long “relationship” with Trump, she felt she could take unlimited liberties. 

 

She reportedly wandered freely around the Whitehouse, reminiscent of JFK’s toddler son, John John, in the Oval Office.  According to reporter April Ryan, this proverbial “angry black woman” (my appellation) was forcibly removed literally kicking and screaming upon her firing by Chief of Staff John Kelly.  Her denial of this dramatic exit on Good Morning America demonstrated her terrible acting skills. By many accounts she is despised by those she worked with over the years.  This kind of person could be dangerous.  

 

Katrina Pierson, the savvy black woman who performed so ably as Trump’s national spokesperson during the campaign, would have been a much better diversity pick in a suitable role.  And given her capabilities, she would be no token hire.   But she seems to have disappeared after supposedly declining Sean Spicer’s offer to be Deputy Communications Director. (Security clearance problems?)  12/18/17

  • RESPONSE to Jim McTague’s article, “The Death of Editing”.  You affirm what I have lamented for some time.  My political philosophy evolved from the Wall Street Journal editorial page over the last 40 years.  But it seems that since Newscorp under Rupert Murdoch acquired the publication several years ago editing has been jettisoned for economy.  While I still swear by the content (except immigration), the editorials are often disjointed and even inscrutable, especially the third one, oddly.  What’s more, basic grammar is ignored in papers everywhere.  I’m sick of seeing “John Smith HAS died.”  Isn’t death completed action?  Also, “He will try AND do it.”  Time was any fourth grader knew the infinitive “to do” was called for.  And, whenever I see or hear, “It’s a good THING.”, I vomit.   Journalists are too lazy to come up with a predicate noun or omit the word “thing”.   Professional publications and journalists used to be guardians of the language.  While the decline no doubt derives from the requisites of the internet as you describe, it also may be attributed to an eroding culture which minimizes literacy and substitutes video games and smart phone obsession for reading.  And, of course, the deterioration of education is on full display.  12/14/17

  • DID FOX RIG ITS FINAL ROY MOORE POLL?  The day before the election Fox’s own Alabama poll reported Roy Moore behind a whopping 10 points.  What? Chris Stirewalt explained that it portended a big Democratic turnout, especially among blacks, because this is the first time in a generation their candidate had a chance of winning.  Problem is, no other poll was anywhere close to that result.  As it happened, Moore lost to Jones by only 11/2 points, consistent with all the major polls.  Would CNN or MSNBC have touted their polls if they showed Jones 10 points behind? 

Was Fox grandstanding again to show its remorse over its own sexual misconduct issues?  Did Fox fabricate and trumpet a huge projected loss for Moore to further disassociate the network from the candidate as a way of atoning for the “sins” of Bill O’Reilly, Roger Ailes, and others formerly in its employ?  What’s more, as the returns came in Laura Ingraham and her guests betrayed a negative tone about Moore throughout, even when he was 8 points ahead with over 60% voting. 

Fox News has been a disgrace in its capitulation to the sexual harassment movement.  Forced by legal settlements “to clean up its act”, the network has completely chickefied itself gratuitously assigning women to numerous anchor spots and other prominent positions.  Fox is advertising its conversion.  Did you hear Sean Hannity brag about how big and beautiful Laura Ingraham’s new set is?  Fox has caved and they are desperate to let everyone know it. The network was clearly ok with Republicans losing a vital senate seat over unsubstantiated allegations wrapped in a left-wing propaganda campaign.  Once again I say, we need a new conservative network to replace Fox. 12/13/17

  • STOP THE NONSENSE!!  The sexual harassment beat goes on.  I’m getting tired of writing about it but its hyper-politicization by the left and the right is getting so bad I’m compelled to double down in my protestations in the name of truth and justice. Every day the “me too movement” produces more accusations prompting resignations from high profile figures in government, entertainment, media and the corporate world for ill-defined violations by unnamed accusers.  And there is no regard for the rights of the accused in this blood sport.  A guy can’t even make a pass at a women anymore?  Gimme a break!  The emasculation of American society continues apace. 

As if on cue, the Sunday papers report a raft of accounts from accusers.  One front page story features an 82 year old woman who says she still suffers from a suitor’s pursuit 34 years ago, then in her late forties, for which official recourse was not available.  She said, “I was defeated.  I lost my identity and my self-esteem.  It took a long time to get it back …  I’m still not sure that I have.”  Geez!  And weaklings like this expect equality with men?  Gimme another break!  Is there any wonder why men have dominated humanity since inception?  The media promote the notion that sexual harassment is pervasive and serious.  It is neither.  In 40 years working on Wall Street I never witnessed a case, and do not readily recall ever hearing of an incident. 

 

The fundamental questions should concern whether the accusations are true, and whether they are serious.  Surely, many claims are lies and exaggerations to cash in or to exact revenge.  Others try to influence elections.  Consider the forgery of Roy Moore’s yearbook signature perpetrated under the auspices of ethically-challenged feminist Gloria Allred.  And what defines serious misconduct to warrant costing one’s job, career, reputation, and possibly life savings, especially when only alleged?  The general public does not believe a grope qualifies as sexual harassment, certainly not a previously unreported one that occurred decades ago.  To my mind, anything short of rape or assault should be worked out among the woman, her aggressor and immediate authorities, regardless of how relatively offensive an act might be.  No lawyers necessary.  By that standard neither Franken nor Conyers should have resigned, despicable as they are politically.  But as a practical matter they had to leave because their party drummed them out of the corps to promote a larger agenda. 

 

Of course, it’s about more than just sexual harassment.  The issue is about the political and economic exploitation of the act to empower women by disempowering men according to feminist tactics.  In the process, the left sacrifices some of its own through forced resignation to achieve the high ground by which to demand the same of opponents on the right.  This makes the issue seem nonpartisan and thus gives it more currency.  At the same time, the right foolishly goes along out of fear of provoking a media backlash, inviting lawsuits, and losing women votes.  We saw Republicans and conservatives retreat en masse last year in the wake of the Access Hollywood tapes of candidate Donald Trump.  They also caved following Congressman Todd Akin’s innocuous remark about rape during his 2012 senate race in which he was leading in the polls.  To his credit, President Trump displayed the courage and leadership to openly support Roy Moore for senator in the face of a massive sexual harassment pity festival.  The importance of that seat today supersedes any consideration of flimsy sexual misconduct accusations - which are likely bogus. 

 

Meanwhile, sleazy lawyers and their clients try to create litigation opportunities to pad their bank accounts.  Ultimately, the left hopes to generate enough propaganda about sexual harassment to affect the 2018 elections.  It is also designed to create an impetus to drudge up the meaningless Access Hollywood tape again in an effort to force Trump into resigning.  To the left’s benefit, the uber-attention on supposed injustice against women creates an atmosphere of atonement among organizations impacted by charges of sexual misconduct resulting in a move to hire and elevate more women.  Certainly, this has happened at Fox News.  It will be interesting to see how many women replace the men who resign their positions because of sexual harassment claims.

 

Indeed, most people couldn’t care less about sexual harassment allegations.  It is vital they not become brainwashed by media propaganda.  They must speak out and vote accordingly to stop the castration of America.  12/11/17

  • DISCOLORED BLUE BLOOD.  What do the Royal Crown and the British people really think about Prince Harry’s upcoming marriage to a woman who is half black?  Of course, political correctness precludes any official objection, or even the mention of the anomaly, but doubtless they believe the sacred bloodline would be tainted by their progeny.  In fact, some speculate that Princess Diana’s untimely death was arranged to prevent her marriage to billionaire Egyptian Muslim, Dodi Fayed, in order to preserve genealogical purity.  Perhaps Harry should watch his back.  12/7/17

  • TOLERANCE RUN AMUCK.  Last week I attended a talk by activist Pamela Geller, president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative.  At her own peril she has for years vociferously decried the terrorist acts of radical Muslims and the acquiescence of governments and media who are viscerally contemptuous of her. Criticism of radical Islam has become increasingly verboten in many quarters.  To wit: Ms. Geller said Facebook and YouTube have blocked her commentary.  What’s more, policemen are stationed at her events to quell (white) protesters who claim her revelations constitute hate speech.  (Former defense official and current security advocate, Frank Gaffney, experiences the same protests when he makes presentations citing the serious threat Muslim operatives pose within the U.S.   I witnessed it first hand.)  Most startling was Ms. Geller’s disclosure about FBI agents on the scene of the Mohammed cartoon contest her group sponsored in 2015 in Garland, Texas at which two radical Muslims opened fire.  Geller says FBI personnel were seen running AWAY, apparently because of the political incorrectness of engaging Muslims.  She said the assailants were killed by her personal security team which conducted a SWAT-like operation, not by the local police as reported.  Another shocking revelation for me was her claim that the European Union has been orchestrating the African Muslim migration to Europe all along.  Currently, we see the reaction to President Trump’s re-tweeting of a video showing Muslims in the act of terrorist activities.  In particular, the UK parliament absurdly debates whether Prime Minister Theresa May should cancel a scheduled state visit for him because of that deed.  The cancer that is radical Islamic terror has to be aggressively challenged and exposed.  Under President Trump progress has been achieved militarily in the Mideast.  But on the social front political correctness is defusing opposition.  Meanwhile Islamic terrorists and propagandists gain ground, tacitly supported by probably most of the Muslim population. (There are far too few Sebastian Gorka’s among them.) Ms. Geller was especially vitriolic about the role of media, calling them “evil”.  While liberal politics certainly underlies pro-Muslim media sentiment, I have maintained that another reason of late is quite pragmatic.  That is, news outlets are deathly afraid of a Charlie Hebdo type of bomb attack at their doorsteps. The election and re-election of Barak HUSSEIN Obama was a symptom of a naïve ecumenism regarding race which extends to misplaced empathy for the civil rights of Muslims, despite the threats posed by the many terrorists among them.  The outrageous verdict in the Kate Steinle case is another manifestation of a perverse tolerance regarding immigration and illegal aliens that threatens our security and sovereignty.  Even the judiciary is complicit in this corruption as evidenced by liberal activist judges ruling against Trump’s selective Muslim travel ban while ignoring applicable law.  The recent Supreme Court decision to allow the ban pending further adjudication by the courts is some consolation, but a final determination could be overly restrictive.  PC protections must be abolished to prevent Europe’s self-inflicted fate from occurring here.  Mosques must be monitored and shuttered where appropriate.  Atrocities must be reported and displayed everywhere.  Muslim immigrants must be extremely vetted for entry into the U.S.  And Pamela Geller must be supported and celebrated in her efforts to call a spade a spade in her war on terror.  12/6/17

  • RESPONSE TO READER.  My comments do not indict all women.  They mainly refer to those who would capitalize on the sexual harassment media craze for monetary or political gain. They would fabricate stories and feign offense at the slightest groping.  In that context I described today’s woman who curses like a sailor, etc.  as antithetical to the fragile lass the protesters portray.  She generally is not so weak and therefore cannot be so easily offended as claimed.  I direct my ire at the lawyers, as well as the feminists and their liberal allies, who would have us believe that male aggression is out of control and that women are under siege.  The vast majority of women do not believe that.  They would not make a fuss unless genuine assault were involved.  Good for them.  That was my point in my 2016 article “The Trump Tapes:  Feigned Indignation in All Quarters” I wrote in reaction to the Access Hollywood tapes of Donald Trump in 2005.  The fraudsters and propagandists make all the news. No one else really cares about the sexual misconduct flap, except to the extent one is unjustly vulnerable to lawsuits and shakedowns as a result of the current firestorm.  Short of real assault, women, individually or collectively, have to disarm unwanted aggressors, to include enlisting the authorities.  If they’re as tough as the left says they are, what’s the problem?  Yes, men have a responsibility to respect a woman’s individual tolerance for pursuit in his expectations about sex.  But a man who does not can be rebuffed by a no, a slap, or even a punch, depending on her degree of rejection. 12/6/17



  • SEXUAL HARASSMENT:  HA! HA! HA!  Somebody please help me stop laughing!  The crocodile tears, the phony outrage, the lies, and the hypocrisy are killing me.  Last week comic slut, Sarah Silverman, denounced with expletives galore the scourge of sexual harassment and the culture from which it emerged.  Hmmm.  Recall her scatological stage act in which she positioned one microphone by her ass and another to her crotch and then went on to expound about bodily functions.  Surely, a paragon of decency and a perfect role model to lecture us about carnal excess.  In particular, she expressed sympathy for her good friend, pervert extraordinaire Louis CK, who was recently outed for his many acts of indecent exposure which Silverman admits she knew about for years. Everyone is shocked … shocked over revelations concerning Matt Lauer.  Yet, we see a 2012 clip of Katie Couric joking that Lauer “… pinches my ass a lot.”  Consider this paragraph from my October 13, 2016 article in The Comprehensive Conservative I wrote in the wake of the Access Hollywood tapes entitled, “The Trump Tape:  Feigned Indignation in All Quarters” at http://www.williamjdodwell.com/archives/archives_finance-the-economy/all-website-commentaries_2#Link-44  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. By this standard, today’s woman doesn’t need coddling.  If she can’t stand the heat she should get out of the kitchen.  Or, should I say, get back in the kitchen. 12/5/17

  • TURNING THE TABLES ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT.  A few more thoughts amid all the sexual harassment bombshells of late.  Sleazy lawyers are circling like vultures with scripts in hand in search of litigants. The current laws give them plenty of opportunities for big paydays.  Women claiming they were mute about sexual misconduct for years in fear of losing their jobs is the pretext de jour.  But maybe it all was quite different.  Perhaps the women prevailed on the men, who were loath to admit they were so vulnerable.  As such, the women freely claim to be victims to position themselves for settlement money.  This might explain reports of Charlie Rose appearing naked before female employees and Matt Lauer having sex in his office.  The women made them do it. But what man would make such a claim?  Eliminate the sexual harassment laws to allow men and women to pursue one another with impunity.  This would accommodate those women who desire to sexually engage men without having to prompt those afraid of being sued.  Then men would be free to oblige and share the fun.  Level the playing field.  After all, women seek equality.  What’s more, the lawyers would have to find other work as their extortion racket evaporates.  The women who received taxpayer-funded sexual harassment settlements from Congress should be required to return the money to the Treasury.  If the men accused were actually victims afraid to speak up, they should not have to pay as proposed.  If the women are victims, they and their associates should have reported the misconduct upon occurrence.  Their longstanding silence suggests their claims are lies.  For women who are not the aggressors, the protocol is simple.  If one is pursued by an unwanted suitor she should say no.  If he persists, punch him in the face, he’ll get the message.  If he continues, report him to authorities who should fire him if the claim is verified.  If they don’t act, go public and get another job.  And in a karmic act of revenge, she could sexually harass a man.  It’s a man’s world in which testosterone rules.  Passive women should learn to live with it, perhaps by consulting their predatory sisters. 12/4/17

  • SEXUAL HARASSMENT:  WAY OVERBLOWN.  The plethora of reports about sexual misconduct involving public figures has generated a media firestorm on the left and the right that is fraught with faux outrage.  On the left, the hoopla is a cause ce`le´bre that promotes the feminist agenda aimed at disempowering men as a means of achieving equality.  On the right, it’s about morality grandstanding. The issue is also about creating a cottage industry that enriches lawyers and accusers through litigation opportunities.  However, all this posturing should not divert from the fundamental question as to the genuine seriousness of the accusations, and thus the issue writ large.  How many reported acts are truly predacious?  Nobody mentions the mitigating factors that diminish the significance of the sexual harassment bandwagon.  How is it that Roy Moore’s accusers are always said to be credible while his denials are suspect?  Many accusations, perhaps most, could be pure fabrications, some for monetary gain. Democratic Congressman Clyburn said this in defense of Congressman Conyers.  (No sign of him applying that skepticism to Roy Moore’s case.) Consider the doubtless lies of accuser associates who could have spoken out.   For example, those around Charlie Rose claim they never reported his bad behavior because they weren’t aware of it.  Really?  That’s incredible given the way women instinctively talk with one another.  Other claims involve varying degrees of verbal offense or groping.  Hey, even President George H.W. Bush admitted to copping a feel.  And some offense might be the reaction of man-hating lesbians hypersensitive to the slightest male overture.  Of course, all of the contacts in question are borne out of natural male libidinous forces which grown women should be able to handle, especially in the highly sexualized culture produced by the left. That’s life in the big city.  In fact, many women are flattered by sexual attention and welcome more.  Should they be denied one of life’s small pleasures?  Besides, crying wolf can hurt the case of real victims.  So, what’s truly serious?  Standing naked before an employee as Charlie Rose allegedly did?  Weird. Flipping the tongue as Democratic Senator Al Franken is said to have done? Inappropriate.  However, all this pales in comparison to outright assault or rape which define the true standard for concern.  But that is too high a threshold for lawyers trying to capitalize on the media brouhaha.  They seek to expand the meaning of sexual harassment for their own enrichment through legislation and litigation.  Indeed, lawsuits are brewing in the wake of the mass pity party for alleged victims.  At the same time, feminists celebrate their progress in the war on men. And many conservatives are right there with them.  Suckers.  But bravo to President Trump for supporting Ray Moore against still unfounded allegations.  11/27/17

  • SEXUAL HARASSMENT:  A NEFARIOUS GROWTH INDUSTRY.  The latest orchestrated explosion of sexual harassment allegations manifests a collaboration of industrial proportions among lawyers, feminists and media to produce big legal paydays while empowering women and disempowering men.  The strategy is to expand the range of sexual harassment targets, the array of grievances, and the temporal scope of liability to set the stage for ever more lawsuits that enrich lawyers and litigants. Another aim is to undermine the republic by emasculating American society as a predicate to forging a new order.  Last night Laura Ingraham featured, and supported, the crassest example of this nefarious undertaking.  After a dramatic build up that suggested a sexual misconduct bombshell was about to be revealed, Ingraham presented a woman with a cub lawyer.  The woman proceeded to cite an incident 16 years ago in which her boss, a former Congressman, asked her to “twirl around” after complimenting her looks.  Following the “victim” expressing her indignation, the lawyer chimed in with a call to “expand the protections” of women, and then perfunctorily praised his co-guest for the bravery to publicly tell her story. (Her fee was not mentioned.)  Beyond outrageous!!  This development has both economic and political motives.  The monetary incentive, as mentioned, concerns the potential legal settlements resulting from defendants caving to avoid reputational damage and the cost of unfavorable court decisions. What’s more, an expanded legal definition of sexual misconduct, which lawyers are advocating, makes the accused more vulnerable in court cases.  The political angle is a de facto war on men waged by the left and buttressed by the search for sexism under every rock.  Its discovery is used as a tool ultimately to diminish the influence of men, with the larger goal of emasculating America in the hope of its destruction. As we see in this case, even the most frivolous charges are game.  Moreover, the sexual harassment juggernaut no longer rests only on recent causes of action. Complainants now invoke incidents from decades ago in the hope of lucrative redress under liberalized laws, which may include an extended statute of limitations.  The sexual harassment battle ground started in corporations some years ago.  Then it expanded to college campuses under the banner of a bogus “rape epidemic” fostered by the complicity of the Department of Education that issued mandates with no provision for due process afforded the accused.  In the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein revelations, the malaise has extended to Hollywood with a retroactive reach that captured many top actors, thus amplifying public empathy for the “cause”.  Now government is yet another target as exemplified by this case, Roy Moore’s crucible, and the latest expose´ involving Democratic Senator Al Franken.  Interestingly, unlike the political motive of the sexual harassment movement, the economic incentive does not discriminate by party affiliation in order to cast a wider net. Shame on Laura Ingraham, a conservative stalwart, for not calling out this charade for what it is.  As a woman in media, is she abetting this crusade? Is Fox News, in a grandstanding show of feigned repentance for its many (unjustified) sexual misconduct legal settlements, forcing all on-air personalities to go along with this extortion scheme? 11/17/17

  • IT’S LOOKING BETTER FOR ROY MOORE.  Judge Moore’s lawyer said yesterday that it appears Moore’s signature in an alleged victim’s 1977 yearbook is a forgery.  Specifically, it looks like it was lifted from the woman’s divorce documents which Moore signed as a local law official.  Ethically challenged Gloria Allred, under two separate investigations, won’t say whether the yearbook signature is genuine and does not agree to release the book for an independent review. Hmmm.  It calls to mind the likely fabricated birth certificate presented by Barack HUSSEIN Obama.  Meanwhile, traitor Mitch McConnell states that if Moore is elected he would be subject to an immediate ethics investigation and expulsion proceedings.  Of course, McConnell was of no such mind while corruption allegations surrounded Senator Menendez for months before his current trial.  And he’s a Democrat no less. Moore critics say it was well known locally that in his thirties Moore regularly trolled teenage girls in a mall from which he was later banned.  Really?  As many ask, Why didn’t the voters or his opponents in several political races ever bring it up?  Of late, President Trump has not opined.  But he’s under political pressure too from the growing sexual harassment juggernaut.  My guess is Trump supports conservative Jeff Sessions returning to his senate seat. This avoids the danger of losing a valuable legislative vote and gives Trump the chance to appoint the right person as AG.  Then he can hope for special counsel Mueller to be fired and Hillary Clinton be truly investigated for her shenanigans concerning emails and the Clinton Foundation.  Now that’s a scenario to relish.  11/16/17

  • NO WOMAN STANDING NEXT TO GLORIA ALLRED HAS ANY CREDIBILITY.  The noose tightens for Judge Roy Moore as the odious Gloria Allred pulls more women out of the woodwork claiming to be victims of Moore’s sexual misconduct 40 years ago as they read from Allred’s fictional scripts.  Even Sean Hannity, a supporter until yesterday, gave Moore 24 hours to explain the charges with specifics as his advertisers withdraw one by one.  Recall the corrupt Allred recruiting some 10 women to make outrageous claims against Trump during his campaign in 2016 in the wake of the Access Hollywood tapes.  One particular accusation expressed by an accuser on television in a display of horrible acting had Trump openly groping the now homely obese claimant’s chest on a commercial flight in the 1980s when he was already a nationally known figure.  Simply not credible.  Pure fiction. Indeed, a transparent lie that calls into question all of Allred’s claimants. Using the same dishonest tactics Allred drove Herman Cane from the 2012 presidential race.  Interestingly, Allred’s almost as contemptible daughter and fellow feminist, Lisa Bloom, has disappeared.  She was caught with her panties down surreptitiously representing Harvey Weinstein who commissioned her to silence his victims.  What a hypocrite!  Even the despicable Kathy Griffin abandoned Bloom over a dispute involving a $40,000 legal bill for defending her in the aftermath of Griffin’s famous incident brandishing Trump’s severed head.  Griffin claimed Bloom’s service was “a waste of money”. Specifically, Bloom objected to Griffin speaking extemporaneously on television in her presence rather than adhering to Bloom’s script. That’s how it works.  Alleged victims are tracked down and instructed to lie by their lawyers – and likely paid handsome bucks. Outside a trial, lawyers and their clients can lie with impunity. Their worst nightmare is to be exposed in a court room.  Moore must persevere to end this extortionist precedent. (Disbarring corrupt lawyers would be a nice deterrent.)  The criterion for Moore’s exoneration has morphed from establishing truth to establishing only the credibility of Moore’s statements.  Not much focus on the credibility of the accusers, which in the presence of Allred has to be seriously questioned.  The report of Moore’s comment and signature in an accuser’s yearbook raised an eyebrow.  But on second thought that would seem to suggest an amicable, not predatory, relationship with the girl who presumably petitioned Moore’s signature, unless the alleged misconduct occurred later. But an a priori friendly association diminishes the credibility of the charges against him.  In the absence of proof, Moore must be supported by the good conservatives of Alabama.  Probably fabricated allegations must not suffice.  Channeling Steve Bannon, Republican senators who would neuter Moore in office if elected should be replaced.  Retaining this conservative senate seat is essential in the current political environment.  Indeed, the nation depends on it, and many more.  11/15/17

  • RESPONSE to reader re “Double Standard …”:  The question is whether the left’s fealty for the gay community supersedes its aversion for Moore’s socially conservative ideology.  I suspect it might given my hypothetical case. Thus, liberals would go easy on Moore for mere allegations of misconduct.  Similarly, conservatives would subordinate support for Moore’s ideology out of fear of alienating the gay voting block at large and tarnishing their brand by criticizing his sexual preference.  As such, if Moore’s victims were boys, I think criticism would diminish on both sides.  Democrats would invoke their alliance with the gay community.  Republicans would cede deference to the power of the gay vote and their hit machine that could have far reaching repercussions for them.  This is what happened in 2012 when the Republicans caved horribly to denounce two of their senate candidates, Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, for harmless comments about rape vis a vis abortion.  They feared a backlash from women in the election fostered by all media which are obsessed with the abortion issue.  See my response to Wayne Hawke for a more expansive explanation.  11/14/17

  • RESPONSE to reader re “Double Standard …”:  I concede a little hyperbole. The difference between the Sandusky case and my hypothetical Moore case is that the former involved established FACT duly adjudicated and condemned by all. But the Moore case involves only ALLEGATIONS. I say in that instance the media would give my hypothetically gay Moore the benefit of the doubt to avoid an outcry from the gay community, primarily an ally of the left, for merely speculating about alleged sexual assault and pedophilia. That would put gays in a bad light unnecessarily. If serious sexual misconduct is proven, not just credible, all bets are off. Consider a couple analogies. In the world of identity politics the liberal media grossly under-report black-on-white crime to suppress the stereotype of that pathology in the black community. Also, in the 1980s and 1990s the liberal media tried to democratize the AIDS epidemic to dispel the notion that it is a gay disease.  Likewise, exposing gay activity, as in my hypothetical Moore case, invokes the gay stereotype of pedophilia. (Older teenage subjects are common among them too.) The media would not want to entertain unproven bad behavior by gays, a political ally, any more than it wants to focus on pandemic black crime or on AIDS as a consequence of gay behavior. What’s more, a gay backlash could have severe consequences at the polls that give both the left and the right pause. Politicians are becoming as fearful of the gay mafia as they are the AARP. Since gay marriage was virtually legitimized, the gay movement is a third rail, unfortunately. Finally, as you say, Bill Clinton was impeached (for established bad behavior) but “NOT REMOVED”. That’s because of the relativist left protecting its own, and of diffident Republicans. As to “Republican sleaze balls”, how about the sleaze on the left in Hollywood, and in the Hillary Clinton camp, not to mention the entire corrupt Democratic Party?  11/14/17

  • DOUBLE STANDARD RAILROADS ROY MOORE.  Here’s a hypothetical.  If Judge Moore’s alleged victims were boys the accusations probably would not be reported, much less denounced.  Mainstream media would ignore it like wrongdoings concerning Benghazi, Hillary’s emails and the Clinton Foundation. And even the right would join them. Republicans scurry for cover from the sexual harassment claims against Judge Moore in fear of a backlash from women voters as the left, particularly feminists, ironically claim the moral high ground.  (Republicans caved like this in 2012 when they unnecessarily walked away from two viable senate candidates, Todd Akin of Missouri and Richard Mourdock of Indiana, because of innocuous comments they made about rape.) But neither the left nor the right would say a word if Moore had engaged male teenagers as they would fear a backlash from the gay community to which pedophilia is commonly ascribed.  Making an issue over that kind of behavior would strike a very sensitive PC nerve today. So, why would homosexual dalliances be ignored while Moore’s heterosexual proclivities nearly 40 years ago are condemned?  It’s because for the left it’s not about morality but rather a political smear as Moore rightly claims. After all, Hollywood feted Roman Polanski who raped a 13 year old girl, and until last week was about to release a film starring Louis CK in which he indulges a sexualized fantasy about his teenage daughter. And of late, the Weinstein syndrome has given new meaning to hypocrisy on the left.  Furthermore, liberals made a hero out of Bill Clinton despite claims of rape and sexual harassment from several women, and who at 52 engaged in sexual misconduct with a 21 year old intern in the Whitehouse while he was president.  Meanwhile, the right has to pretend to be horrified on moral grounds merely based on accusations which may very well have been concocted by Democratic operatives who paid accusers.  Consider the women who came out of the woodwork against Trump in the wake of the Access Hollywood tapes in 2016.  Some of them, highly improbable candidates for amorous advances given their looks, made outlandish claims of sexual harassment. This is why the call for Moore to withdraw by McCain, McConnell and other Republicans merely on the basis of accusation is so outrageous. But then again, the M&M boys have an ulterior motive – to torpedo Moore in favor of an establishment candidate.  In fact, McConnell spent $30 million of Republican funds in Moore’s primary to do just that.  The allegation concerning Moore’s relationship with a 14 year old girl should be dismissed as unprovable.  The other accusations, albeit tawdry, concern women who were of the age of consent, which was 16 in Alabama.  Whether sexual activity occurred at all, happened under duress, or was consensual is unknowable in a he said, she said scenario. As such, Moore should not be denied a run for the senate simply because of possibly bogus accusations.  Furthermore, the double behavioral standard applies to Democrats vs. Republicans beyond sexual misconduct.  How is it that Democrat Charlie Rangel remained in Congress after a tax fraud conviction?  How is it that Democrat Barney Frank continued to serve in Congress after confessing to hiring a male prostitute as a personal aide nearly 30 years ago who used Frank’s premises to ply his trade?  Where was the moral outrage in those instances?  Character doesn’t matter on the left, even in the face of acknowledged charges.  So, why does the mere allegation of impropriety on the right disqualify its candidate?  Republicans don’t call for the resignation of Democrats for criminal activity but they’ll sacrifice their own on the basis of false or unproven claims out of paranoiac concern about how women voters (and some men) would react.  In the war against the nefarious left the right needs all the weaponry it can get.  It must not relinquish precious few allies in Congress for tenuous moral reasons on what is a very uneven playing field for assessing impropriety. Losing a Republican senate seat because of mere accusations while holding only a slim majority is too high a price to pay for extra morality points.  The left doesn’t lose face despite ostensibly bad behavior. The right should not have to prove its moral bona fides by falling on its sword in the face of unproven events.  11/13/17

  • PHONY MORALIZING OVER THE ROY MOORE FLAP.  As predicted, sexual harassment charges run amuck in the aftermath of the Weinstein expose´.  The latest brouhaha concerns allegations about Alabama Republican senate candidate, Roy Moore, pursuing an underage girl 38 years ago when he was 32.  Of course, the left is having a field day over the report. But it is interesting to witness the grandstanding on the right which seems to indicate a defensive “doth protest too much” tone in light of its own publicized foibles.  Catholic Church spokesman and EWTN host, Raymond Arroyo, is quick to express outrage. Is he defensive about the priest scandals?  Fox News displays its faux indignation chastened by the many sexual harassment settlements that have forced the network to flood the zone with women in its programming.  President Trump called for Moore’s withdrawal if charges are true (which cannot be proved at this point).  Might he be compensating for his indiscretions revealed in the Access Hollywood tapes aired during his campaign?  Given a four decade period of silence, the accusation should be dismissed out of hand as just another political red herring.  British conservative journalist, Katie Hopkins, has it right.  On Sean Hannity’s radio program she said she unreservedly “blames the victim” because of the long reticence of the accuser.  That silence coupled with the plethora of other claims emanating from the Weinstein “scandal”, as well as the upcoming Alabama election, make the charge against Moore highly suspect.  Therefore, it should be summarily rejected.  The point is, once again politics undercuts truth. Conservatives must stand up to unprovable, politically motivated charges and stare down the phony pique expressed in all quarters.  Like the many other high profile sexual harassment claims, I believe few really care about them.  And they shouldn’t.  Republicans will likely keep the senate seat as Alabamian voters are very conservative.  But elsewhere the Moore tactic could cost the Republicans their majority as the few who would be influenced by sexual harassment ploys might swing an election.  That’s serious business.  11/10/17

  • MORE CONSERVATIVE MUSIC.  Time for a break again to feature another of my piano recordings for the cultural conservatives out there.  Some think it is egotistical to invoke this next selection unless one is like a Sinatra, or a multibillionaire who becomes President of the United States (recall Trump’s dance at his inaugural).  A few believe only Frank is entitled to sing this song as a quintessential tribute to his track record.  And, many singers believe one has to “earn” the right to do the song. I say bull bleep to all that, recognizing that as an instrumentalist considerations might be different than for a vocalist.  It’s a great composition and therefore should be performed in all quarters.  One can identify with it on levels other than experience.  Like any song, it can be inspirational and enjoyed vicariously, or internalized as a celebration of one’s own independence.  In any case, the song is universally uplifting.  So, biography aside, and without apology, I present my extended piano arrangement of “My Way” at https://youtu.be/fDRvLDBiVOM Consider it an anthem to conservative individualism.  11/7/17

  • THE GOP TAX BILL FALLS FAR SHORT.  Conservatives hoped that with Republicans controlling the Whitehouse and both chambers of Congress the nation would get a better tax break than what the GOP proposed last week.  Without question, a substantial tax cut would significantly spur economic growth, now suppressed for a decade.  Indeed, anticipation of such relief is a principal reason for the record stock prices achieved since Trump’s election.  While proposed corporate tax cuts promise important economic stimulus, suggested individual tax relief falls far short.  A reduction of the corporate rate from 35% to 20%, a low 12% tax on trillions of dollars repatriated from overseas operations, and the complete expensing of capital expenditures as they occur, while not ideal, would be a sure boon to the economy as they reinvigorate business investment, job creation and wage increases.  However, individual rate cuts largely offset by curtailed deductions with no rate break for upper income earners doesn’t leave much of an economic fillip.  This is especially disappointing considering this non-relief applies to many small businesses that create jobs. Tax simplification from fewer tax preferences and a doubling of the standard deduction is great, but not if it’s a substitute for significantly lower net taxes.  Politics has poisoned the well even before debate. Everyone worries about “paying for” tax breaks so not to expand the deficit.  In fact, a major tax cut would well more than correct an initial temporary deficit increase by improving economic growth.  As President Reagan proved, supply-side economics works.  Republicans also cave to the left and its class envy ploy of denigrating relief for the rich.  In fact, the wealthy are in a superior position to expand growth and employment through greater investment in their business interests.  Even if they placed their tax savings in financial assets, it’s better for the economy than government keeping it.  What’s more, Republicans have not said a word about excessive spending, the fundamental fiscal problem.  A significant cut in government expenditures, which are fraught with waste and fraud, would lower reliance on taxes in the first place, as well as on borrowing, to enable greater national income, debt reduction and renewed prosperity.  Unfortunately, this notion has become a non-starter in today’s political environment, which is why we need a sea change in elective politics brought about by aggressive messaging to and education of voters.  Steve Bannon has the right idea, but implementation requires recruiting, training and funding the right candidates and risking setbacks in the meantime.  Indeed, more dangerous than the politicians are the people themselves as they succumb to the lure of the left evermore.  Conservatives have a mission:  to wake up America.  11/6/17

  • CELEBRATING FIVE YEARS OF RIGHT-WING PONTIFICATION.  This month marks the quinquennium of “The Comprehensive Conservative”, the website dedicated to the proposition that the best antidote to political correctness is POLITICAL INCORRECTNESS.  In mostly long-form pieces, it defies liberal sacred cows, shibboleths and third rails to expose truths no one dares to broach.  Covering politics, culture and the economy from the perspective of the far right, it embraces a truly comprehensive view of conservatism that decries a range of ills from government intrusion and corruption to artistic and behavioral deterioration.  No one is spared in this most impolitic pursuit of truth and propriety lost in the massive encroachment of the left that has eroded individual freedoms, diminished America’s exceptionalism, and degraded the quality of life.  “The Comprehensive Conservative” invokes the way it was in the hope of restoring a meritocracy consistent with the principles of the founding, as well as many of the cultural standards of yore.  Indeed, it’s about doing it the right way – the right-wing way.  Check it out at  http://www.williamjdodwell.com/  11/1/17

  • MORE MEDIA RACIAL GAMBITS.  The cover of the sports section of yesterday’s Sunday New York Times displayed the headline, “A Racist Gesture Prompts a Crisis”.  What a joke!  The reference is to game three of the World Series in which the Houston Astro’s Yuli Gurriel jocularly mimicked the slanted eyes of Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish of the L.A. Dodgers.  The reporter, propagandist Tyler Wepner, presents the act as a “crisis” for Major League Baseball.  Of course, liberals want us to believe this is a crisis to magnify the significance of race they use as a tool to promote their Marxist egalitarianism and balkanization.  But the public must rise up en masse and say, NO ONE CARES!  It’s the only way to stop this politically correct tactic dead in its tracks.  Already the press is making hay over the decision to suspend Gurriel, a minority himself, next season rather than now.  Of course, nothing is said of racial slurs by blacks about whites, such as the many uttered by former heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson.  Another tempest in a teapot is brewing over Houston Texans owner, Bob McNair.  In an owners’ meeting he invoked the phrase, “inmates running the prison”, a term he says referred to the NFL prevailing over the owners.  Some football players think the remark was aimed at recent player protests.  Not mentioned is a possible innuendo about players as “inmates” because of the many felons in the league.  Actually, that interpretation is quite fitting (and privately harbored by most owners and fans).  People MUST muster the courage to reject the media politicization of race.  So, as cowardly coaches and owners make groveling apologies and run frantically for cover from possible media vilification, the folks should vociferously express privately and publicly their utter disinterest in racial ploys.  10/30/17

  • HERE WE GO AGAIN:  BILL O’REILLY AND ALLEGED SEXUAL HARASSMENT.  Once again the Sunday New York Times maliciously featured a front page piece yesterday about 67 year old Bill O’Reilly and a sexual harassment lawsuit.  This time it’s revealed that in 2016 he personally settled with claimant and 18 year colleague, Lis Wiehl, for $32 million.  Her charge was “a nonconsensual sexual relationship”, based on mere suggestive comments like his other cases.  What the hell is this?  Was the fragile helpless complainant, a middle age Harvard lawyer, a slave in a cage?  Where does the line defining extortion lie?  How can a sexual harassment settlement of this magnitude ever be justified?  Unfortunately, O’Reilly is so averse to a public spectacle from a prolonged court case he says he settles to spare exposure to his two children, 14 and 18.  I would think they would be more concerned about this payment, and the others, coming out of their inheritance.  Moreover, O’Reilly’s weak stomach encourages more frivolous lawsuits, and ups the ante for other claimants and their odious parasitic lawyers, now abetted by the legal catalyst of the Weinstein syndrome.  The solution to this injustice is a concerted effort among men in business to minimize female employment within the discrimination laws while making every effort to amend the statutes. In addition, that solidarity should ensure that accusers never work again.  It’s time for hardball.  10/23/17      

  • IN THE NFL, RACE TRUMPS PATRIOTISM.  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s cowardly decision to allow players to protest during the national anthem reflects the stark reality of today’s game - It’s all about race.  Does anyone believe that a white player’s grievance expressed on the field would be tolerated?  Reportedly, some 70% of NFL players are black (and much more among starters).  Therefore, owner decisions to challenge player recalcitrance are largely influenced by the fear of a racist taint ascribed to themselves, the team and the league by the media, and even some players.  Most fans oppose the protests.  Some reject the police brutality premise conjured by Black Lives Matter and the liberal media, as well as other alleged racial injustices.  Others are averse to mixing politics and sports at all, either because they don’t like politics, or they object to the particular venue to express it.  Happily, many alienated fans are tuning out the games.  Owners can take comfort in that black fans will always watch the games to see their brothers triumph, irrespective of the politics.  Unfortunately, the media, are poised to draw inferences about racist motives underlying owner interest to discipline players.  Imagine the reaction to the Commissioner suspending one black player after another for not following orders not to kneel.  So, he and the owners cave to the players.  Of course, they also back off at some point so not to lose games from too many suspensions which would cost valued revenues and fans.  Now Colin Kaepernick, the progenitor of the racial drama, is suing the NFL for collusively blacklisting him for his beliefs.  Of course, the real reason for passing him over is that his skills have eroded.  But the owners have every right to blackball him anyway for objectionable behavior on the field.  No business has to hire a troublemaker (unless he’s black?).  Reportedly, a team offered Kaepernick a $900,000 job before the season as a backup quarterback but he turned it down.  Aggrieved fans should stay away from the games while conservative media ostracize offending players and bring pressure on advertisers to drop sponsorships.  This will make it clear to the players that taking a knee, or linking arms in solidarity, during the anthem could cost them dearly.  And maybe the league will reverse its decision to avoid the embarrassment and cost of gaping holes in the crowd and their bottom line.  It’s happening already.  It’s nice to see photos of large swaths of empty seats in NFL stadiums during games, consistent with significantly declining television viewership.  And companies are terminating player endorsement deals.  The football field should not be a forum for promoting one’s politics, not even for blacks.   10/19/17

  • BEWARE OF THE REFORTIFIED SEXUAL HARASSMENT PC BEAST.  The left is capitalizing on the Weinstein expose` by extrapolating the much chronicled improprieties of the Hollywood culture to sexually predatory behavior in society at large, a longtime pet grievance of the left.  Aiding this effort is a national groupthink reaction to the tawdry revelations of Weinstein’s escapades marked by almost universal “shock”, “horror”, and “disgust”, albeit largely feigned out of peer pressure.  Will heightened public sensitivity about sexual harassment invite a new offensive by the PC warriors salivating over potential jury pools sympathetic to plaintiffs, pretense or not?  Even the right gives new currency to this liberal hobby horse.  Conservatives do so in their zeal to vilify the left for perpetrating the Hollywood malaise, while properly highlighting the hypocrisy of the left’s recent denunciations. Thus, the crusade against the code of conduct in Hollywood is an opportunity to double down on sexual harassment lawsuits in general.  This means a coming plethora of exaggerated and bogus claims by dishonest complainants and sleazy lawyers – the “witch hunt” that Woody Allen predicted.  This new atmosphere already has resulted in Roy Price, the head of Amazon’s entertainment division, having to resign simply on account of the surfacing of two-year old allegations of a salacious remark he made to a female television producer.  In particular, watch the left unleash this refortified sexual harassment beast on conservative targets.  10/18/17

  • FOX NEWS ON WEINSTEIN:  DOTH PROTEST TOO MUCH.  As a self-anointed arbiter of truth I must take my conservative brethren to the woodshed for their posturing against Harvey Weinstein.  It’s all Weinstein all the time on Fox.  Is the network trying to compensate for its own experiences with sexual harassment charges against Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly and others?  I say, “Doth protest too much.”  Fox is piling on Weinstein the way the left barraged Trump over the Access Hollywood tape as if the revelations are earth shattering.  Two wrongs don’t make a right.  Accusations of rape or genuine assault probably are exaggerated.  Every Fox opinion host is beating the drums in faux outrage as if following a play book.  Sean Hannity has ranted for three programs in a row in which he expressed, among other things, horror over a Weinstein groping incident.  In his typically repetitious litanies he is coming across as a super prude.  He should go back to the seminary he attended as a youth.  Jean Pirro, an effective anti-left scold, is overwrought in her invective against Weinstein.  Jesse Watters, who commonly quips humorously about everything, is suddenly sullen in his remarks.  Even the forever jocular Mark Steyn feigns a glum expression.  Greg Gutfeld started to joke about the hoopla on his show but seemed to retreat when he saw his guests were not going along.  I guess he didn’t get the memo.  I understand that Fox is highlighting the hypocrisy of the left in its reaction to the publication of Weinstein’s misdeeds, italicizing it in bold.  Have at it!  But pretending to be shocked at Weinstein’s long known indiscretions, joked about in Hollywood and in media for years, is a bit rich – and hypocritical.  (Reports of his screaming and frequent threats to sue are much more reprehensible.)  At one level he’s just a horndog run amuck without a morals clause in his contract.  Are grown women so defenseless and fragile they recoil in horror when a guy cops a feel?  If so, I quote the Bard again, “Get thee to a nunnery.” If women are so vulnerable, how can they seriously seek equality?  Maybe the new found indignation on the left suggests liberals now believe men and women are not really the same after all.  It will be interesting to see how reporter Ronan Farrow’s career fares.  Will he be a hero to the left for elevating political correctness, or a villain for exposing its soft underbelly.  Lawyers and the left have traditionally exploited the line between aggressive pursuit and sexual assault in the defense of the politically correct standard of sexism from which Hollywood has been exempt.  As such, in the wake of the Weinstein explosion, filmmaker Woody Allen warns against a coming “witch hunt” over the slightest libidinous overture.  He’s right.  Fox plays to this slippery slope in its current grandstanding even though it scores delicious points for exposing the left’s hypocrisy.  Authentic physical assault is one thing.  Leveraging power to achieve consent for sexual favors is another.  In that context, the Weinstein flap is probably blown way out of proportion, although certain behavioral limits should be observed. 10/16/17     

  • GIVE WEINSTEIN A BREAK.  Alleged sexual harassment has become a cottage industry.  The Harvey Weinstein expose arises as Uber is dismantled, Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes are ousted from Fox, and top executives at Amazon and Fidelity have lost their jobs, all over accusations of sexual misconduct. For what? A raised voice; aggressive pursuit; an off-color remark; groping?  So what?  But let’s focus on Weinstein.  Boys will boys.  Hey, give him credit.  At least he didn’t pursue guys.  Some women claimed to be raped.  Really?  After all this time.  Yeah, the smell of cash can be intoxicating.  The hypocrisy is overwhelming.  Hollywood, all media, and women rights groups kept his internally well-known activities under wrap for decades.  Many even joked about it.  Only after reporter Ronan Farrow (Frank Sinatra’s illegitimate son?) spilled the beans in an article spiked by the New York Times and suppressed by NBC does the outrage emerge.  Imagine that – Hollywood expressing moral indignation.  Now that’s funny.  Actresses come out of the woodwork to register their feigned shock and disgust.  Ding dong the witch is dead.  Now they can talk (and cash in). The proverbial “casting couch” has been a sine qua non in Hollywood since the 1920s.  All women in the industry know that going in.  Not to condone it, but if there were not so many takers, the practice would have died.  But in Hollywood, career has always trumped morality.  That’s their choice. Of course, today perverse legalities loom as opportunistic plaintiffs join forces with greedy lawyers and activist judges to create big paydays. That’s a huge headache for Weinstein.  Give him a break.  Short of bona fide assault, it’s all much about nothing.  But exposing the mass hypocrisy of the left is so sweet. 10/13/17

  • RESPONSE TO READER RE NFL PLAYER PROTEST. In respect of "racial injustice”, which is what the NFL players are protesting, the government threw $20 trillion at the black community with the intent of helping it. Where's the injustice of that from their perspective? Of course, there were many unintended consequences which precluded the efficacy of that aid to blacks. And those consequences were of their own doing. The horrific days of lynching are thankfully gone. But some enmity continues because of their squandering of that assistance, as well as their anti-social behavior, notably violent crime. That tremendous waste and social scourge make most whites less sympathetic to their self-inflicted plight.  10/12/17

  • FURTHER TO MY CALL FOR A NEW CONSERVATIVE NETWORK.  (See my 10/10/17 post.)  The goal of a new conservative network is to garner another 10% at the polls in order to effect policy that takes our country back, not to take over the world.  This enterprise would attract new viewers and listeners out of sheer force, such that even some of the ignorant and apathetic would take note, as well as some open-minded moderates.  The concentration of politically incorrect conservative heavyweights as I identified would be too compelling to resist.  It’s about achieving critical mass.  The left has gained far too much ground.  A stronger resistance is essential.  Now it has girls joining the Boy Scouts for cryin’ out loud.  Diverse opinion is not required.  Look at Rush Limbaugh’s success.  Also, consider that liberals have never had any traction in cable news and talk radio.  A conservative “echo chamber” would be a persuasive power that solidifies and reinforces the right-wing point of view.  Fox liberal foils, such as Juan Williams, are just flies in the ointment with the same old leftist tripe.  Ok, some dissent is good for context, but the audience can peak at CNN and MSNBC during the new network’s commercials for that.  Fox is not fair and balanced in its opinion content. Even-handedness is not what made it successful. Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs and Jean Piro, for example, would never say anything remotely critical about President Trump.  Indeed, that kind of ideological near-monolith made Fox a power house.  Nevertheless, Fox’s appeal wanes as it drifts from its conservative moorings because of new liberal management, coercive sexual harassment legal settlement agreements, and liberal media pressure.  This is an opportunity for a new large scale independent truly irreverent conservative network to replace Fox and more effectively take our country back.  10/12/17  

  • HARVEY WEINSTEIN AND ROGER AILES: TWO PEAS IN A POD?   Conservative in solidarity, Sean Hannity, delivered a powerful diatribe against the left for its hypocrisy regarding Harvey Weinstein’s chronic abuse of women in his orbit, and for the long acquiescence of Hollywood and its allies. Hannity is absolutely right.  However, where was his outrage in response to similar revelations about the late great Roger Ailes at Fox News?  In particular, Ailes, like Weinstein, allegedly exposed himself to some of his female on-air personalities.  Personally, I put little stock in sexual harassment charges as I wrote in many posts in the wake of Bill O’Reilly’s ouster.  I don’t believe any sexual misconduct short of definitive assault calls for anything more than the firing of the accused if proven.  Under no circumstances do women deserve millions of dollars in damages.  But that said, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.  The hypocrisy Hannity rightly denounces also lies within.  10/12/17

  • RACIAL INJUSTICE?  THE NFL NONSENSE CONTINUES.  Let’s examine the “racial injustice” the NFL players are protesting.  As a class blacks have always occupied the bottom rung of the socio-economic ladder.  Why?  They claim discrimination.  While that continues to be a factor to a small degree, it is nothing like it once was.  Despite over $20 trillion of government programs for their benefit, massive affirmative action, media fawning, and a radical reduction in societal bigotry, blacks remain on the bottom. Why?  It’s not because of racial injustice.  It’s because of blacks’ own inadequacies and predilections that have engendered the many self-inflicted pathologies affecting their community.  Black inequality is a result of bad behavior and what has become a decadent culture fostered by politically liberal tolerance.  NFL players should be grateful to the white men who possessed the creativity, business savvy, and capital to create and build the sport and the league that have so enriched them.  They should enjoy the going while it’s good because after they retire history shows that many will be loading trucks, facing bankruptcy and spending time in penitentiaries because they refuse to emulate the character and industriousness of the white man they loathe. Whose fault is that?  Kudos to those blacks who do adopt the white man’s model.  They should prevail upon their brethren to do likewise and stop whining, especially on the football field. 10/11/17

  • WE NEED AN ALTERNATIVE TO FOX NEWS.  In view of the litigation induced feminization of Fox News and its drift to the left, a new ultra-conservative network with plenty of testosterone on the scale of Fox is a must.  Glenn Beck, CRTV and various podcasts are great but they don’t have the critical mass to predominate, partly because they’re subscription based.  We need an ultra-rich far right wing benefactor to create a truly independent network that supplants Fox News.  The savior might be a consortium of conservative billionaires including the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, Ken Langone, as well as some second tier deep pockets, such as Rush Limbaugh.  Maybe even Donald Trump would contribute to the capitalization after he leaves office.  A solid right-wing line up unfettered by advertisers and political correctness could spread conservative truth like never before to create a new Enlightenment and a corresponding government and nation. Imagine what a talent pool could do consisting of Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, Michael Savage, Michele Malkin, Sean Hannity, Alex Jones, Laura Ingraham and Glenn Beck, and so many others like them.  In addition, we’ll take the chicks the left silenced in Ann Coulter and Monica Crowley and give them a voice again. And, hey, let’s bring back Barry Farber before he slips into the grave.  The undertaking won’t be easy because, regardless of the independence of a privately-held entity, the new network still would be subject to existing laws and regulations open to liberal interpretation.  Indeed, it was the lawsuits (as well as advertiser threats) that got Fox.  Ideally, the new network would hire people who are not on principle litigious, especially the women.  But government agencies, such as the FCC, could make things very difficult.  Nevertheless, the network’s huge capital base would withstand politically correct advertiser defections.  In fact, retaliatory measures against those firms should follow.  At the same time, the new network would adopt a strict policy of legally denigrating liberal adversaries plaguing the rest of media, as well as exposing enemies in government.  We have to take our country back.  Winning over an uninformed and apathetic public is no mean feat.  It will take time.  A new conservative network would wield tremendous influence.  We’ve made progress in the Trump election, but an additional 10% at the ballot box in federal, state and local races could do wonders.  10/10/17

  • RESPONSE TO READER:  The feminization of Fox News goes beyond the question of qualifications.  My lament is that the change is wholly predicated on politically correct based litigation over Fox’s many “sexual harassment” lawsuits that forces it to adopt the left’s feminist agenda.  This is antithetical to conservative viewership.  Market forces do not call for more women representation.  In fact, Fox previously was No. 1 in all cable news for some ten years.  But recently, it briefly fell behind even the historical cellar dweller, MSNBC.  Moreover, regardless of the women’s qualifications, I say an overly chickefied Fox is a diminished Fox.  By analogy, I (and probably most men) think the politically correct gratuitous insertion of so many female commentators in professional sportscasts is unseemly, despite their skill. Some fields by their nature are male bastions, just as technology careers are heavily skewed towards men because few women opt for them. I reiterate, it’s still a man’s world.  As such, the news business should embody that reality by virtue of the role men play in creating the news as they dominate every field of endeavor.  Relatedly, men probably constitute most serious viewership.  Equal gender representation is not a laudable goal unless the market warrants it.  I’ll settle for 75/25 – if only the lawyers and regulators would allow it.  10/10/17

  • WHAT IS HAPPENING AT FOX NEWS?  Fox should change its name to the BBB Network – Broads, Broads, and more Broads.  The female headcount and visibility have seemingly mushroomed in the aftermath of the numerous “sexual harassment and “sexual discrimination” lawsuits, especially as evidenced by more women having their own shows.  There is no market demand for this.  The only consolation is that there is less opportunity to put Geraldo Rivera in my face.  The entire distaff contingent wears four inch phony eyelashes that could sweep the floor.  What’s next, a strip show?  In fact, now there are so many chicks at Fox it could produce its own brand of “Naked News”.  At this rate the only semblance of manhood over there will be some chicks with d—ks as the network emulates the mainstream media’s obsession with the transgender population.  Any men that do remain will be passive, crying, woman-dominated wimps as portrayed in most television ads.  To be fair, the women perform creditably.  But it’s still a man’s world.  As such, news programming and staffing should commensurately reflect that reality and political correctness be damned.  Unfortunately, PC is now codified in the law, engendering potential litigation that deters the exercise of basic freedoms.  It’s time to repeal and replace.  That takes manhood.  10/9/17

  • IS POLITICAL CORRECTNESS AFFECTING REPORTING ABOUT LAS VEGAS MASSACRE?  With all the speculation about Stephen Paddock’s motive, barely a word is mentioned about his psychopathic father as a factor in the son’s attack.  Indeed, Paddock, Sr. had a record of serious crime and long incarceration.  He even escaped prison to land on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list.  A bad apple to be sure.  Why isn’t anyone suggesting possible genetic criminality as an impetus for the Las Vegas killer’s horrendous deed?  Two reasons come to mind embraced by both the left and the right.  One is the aversion to stigmatizing mental illness and undermining the mental health industry.  Media fear invoking the wrath of the huge population suffering mental illness in one form or another, as well as offending its institutional lobby.  The other concerns the political sensitivity of broaching how people are genetically influenced in bad behavior. An examination of individual intergenerational genetics and its deterministic force can easily be extrapolated to racial genetics with all its implications.  This topic is verboten in all quarters, particularly as it relates to pathologies in the black community, even though a supposed slippery slope may be a path to truth.  (Alcoholism among the Irish is another example.) Recall the fate of sports commentator and oddsmaker, Jimmy “the Greek” Snyder, in 1988 when he suggested that blacks have a certain physiological superiority with respect to athletics.  CBS ignominiously fired him.  Few dare to engage a political third rail.  What’s more, discussion about mental illness as an influence on mass murderers deflects attention from the role of guns, to the chagrin of the left.  Skepticism of news coverage is essential in finding truth - not only of what’s said, but what isn’t.  10/5/17


  • SEND THE NFL A MESSAGE:  TAKE A KNEE.  NFL player recalcitrance has morphed.  Now they agree to stand for the national anthem, but link arms in solidarity instead.  This is still unacceptable.  Take a knee.  Don’t attend the games; don’t watch the games; don’t read about the games; and don’t talk about the games.  What are they expressing solidarity about in their conga line pose?  Is it the Black Lives Matter beef about racial injustice as it relates to disproportionate contacts with police?  The solution is simple:  Blacks must stop committing grossly disproportionate crime.  No one mentions this obvious problem that is authoritatively documented most recently by scholar Heather MacDonald’s in her latest book, “The War on Cops” in which she points out blacks commit ten times the violent crime relative to their population.  As such, racial profiling is wholly justified, and disproportionate encounters with police are inevitable.  Some question whether the owners are afraid of the players.  Of course they are.  That’s why they rescinded the ban on tribal end zone celebrations.  That’s why they tend to suppress player felonies, which are endemic.  The owners acquiesce because they are deathly afraid of being called racist, and they fear costly player mutinies, advertiser boycotts and media opprobrium. They face an understandable dilemma in having to placate both the players, as well as the fans who could decimate ratings and advertising revenue.  Nevertheless, true leadership calls for imposing discipline and insisting on obeisance to the rules that circumscribe player behavior. As to those who don’t comply, do as Trump says, fire the sons of bitches!  Owner cowardice should be met with fan retaliation in the form of a mass withdrawal of support.  Of course, the media will have a race festival defending the players.  One particularly outrageous example is the literal parsing of Trump’s use of the age-old epithet “sons of bitches”.  Idiots on CNN and MSNBC are actually excoriating the president for calling the players’ mothers dogs.  Fan withdrawal can restore proper decorum on the field. And, in the extreme, it can help to make America serious again in the fight against the left which is largely disarmed by ignorance and apathy fostered by an obsession with sports.  I dream of permanently empty football stadiums throughout the country. Death to professional football, basketball and baseball as viewers switch to C-SPAN en masse.  But that’s a commentary for another time.  10/2/17
                                                                                            ©2017 William J. Dodwell




Miscellaneous Thoughts Posted to Linked In Between January and March 2018


By William J. Dodwell

  • WE DID IT AMERICA!  Sunday’s Oscar show was the lowest rated in its history, just as I called for in my 3/2/18 post.  (You’re welcome.)  The show garnered 26 million viewers versus about 60 million 25 years ago and was down about 20% from last year’s near-record low.  That’s progress!  But I don’t think the Academy cares anymore.  It is now dedicated to using the program as a platform for promoting leftists politics, regardless of the ratings.  Of course, I did not watch the ceremony, but I saw some clips on the news.  Best actress winner, Frances McDormand, looked like an absolute fool shaking her body uncontrollably as if she were hit by a bolt of electricity while beseeching all the women to stand. Ladies, if you think that theatre will change men’s minds about the gender wars, you are on your way to going back to the kitchen and relegated to procreation duty. 3/6/18


  • 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. Don't watch the ceremony.  Don't talk about the ceremony.  Don't read about the ceremony.  And don't even think about going to the  movies.  This Marxist, anti-Christian institution continues to vilify President Trump and conservative values at every turn.   Send a message to these hypocrites touting their #Timesup and #Metoo nonsense aimed at exonerating themselves. Moreover, it’s meant to promote a new ultra leftist feminist agenda dedicated to leveling the playing field by disempowering men through capricious firings and resignations wholly absent due process.  Ban the box office. Starve this beast. Make Sunday’s program the lowest rated in its history.  3/2/18


  • A GREAT MUSICAL ARTIST PASSES. A moment of silence for singer Vic Damone who died last week at 89.  Frank Sinatra said he had “the best pipes in the business” by which he exemplified the beauty of The Great American Songbook.  As an elevator operator in Brooklyn, NY in the late forties, he had the fortune to have Perry Como step into his cab one day.  Damone seized the moment by stopping the elevator to sing a song.  Como put in a word for him, and the rest is history.  Damone was a major exponent of traditional popular music that is sadly approaching extinction because the nefarious political left replaced it largely with nihilistic noise.  As such, degrading hip hop, i.e. rap, is the leading “music” consumed by America today.  What a travesty! (Somewhere Sinatra is vomiting.)  Celebrating a musical artist like Damone puts into perspective how far our culture has deteriorated.  Unfortunately, the vast majority of the population, brainwashed so long by the cultural dreck foisted on it by the left as an adjunct to its political agenda, has never been exposed to his genre of music and therefore cannot appreciate the nation’s artistic descent.  We may not be able to change this.  But at least we should be aware of it.  2/21/18


  • CLEARING THE AIR ABOUT STOCK TURMOIL AND THE ECONOMY.  Amid the recent correction in stock prices and attendant volatility, the media obsess about seeming anomalies that portend some form of possible ruination precipitated by rising inflation and interest rates.  But in reality, the sky is not falling. 

Analysts have long anticipated higher inflation and interest rates in the normal course as the economy improves, especially in view of the salutary effects of Trump’s tax cut and his ongoing regulatory reform.  Seemingly ignored is that rates will rise from historically low levels to still relatively low levels.  As such, higher borrowing costs will continue to be quite manageable. As usual, the Fed will raise short-term rates commensurate with inflation and economic growth.  But what is new is that the Fed will also pressure longer term rates somewhat as it pares its $4 trillion-dollar bond portfolio amassed from past quantitative easing.  Those bond purchases were meant to suppress rates while forcing capital to flow to higher-return assets, such as stocks, in a misguided effort to create a “wealth effect’ that would stimulate the economy.  But faster interest-rate normalization would have been better for the real economy since the Great Recession ended in 2009.


The Fed withdrawing its support by not rolling over maturing bonds, and by eventual outright selling, will inevitably result in moderately falling bond prices.  But that should not augur disaster as some predict, even as Europe and Japan eventually follow suit.  Astute bond investors will adjust durations before adverse price movements create serious losses.  The 10-year Treasury bond yield is still under 3%.  That allows a lot of room for upward movement before reaching a tipping point.  Going forward, long overdue interest-rate normalization will benefit savers and fixed-income investors, and ultimately the general economy as higher rates redirect capital from certain overvalued financial assets.  


Despite a series of record shattering price increases, stocks still sport reasonable traditional price-earnings ratios backed by healthy corporate profits and relatively stable commodity prices, especially oil.  (However, record shale production is muting oil prices which dominate the major stock indexes.)  Contrast those fundamentals to the stock boom during the dot.com era of the 1990s that ended in a bust in 2000.  At that time, analysts adopted unprecedented price valuation measures alternative to traditional earnings and cash flow indicators.  Substitutes included multiples of the rate of earnings growth, and even of just revenues in the absence of profits.  As stock prices soared in expectation of new game-changing technologies still in the conception stage, so did euphoric investor demand, not unlike bitcoin today. 


Seemingly afraid of spoiling the party by upholding traditional stock valuation measures, most analysts adopted new ones to justify the lofty prices, no doubt in part to stimulate more buying that enriches Wall Street.  Indeed, that capitulation to “irrational exuberance” was an abdication of duty that should have tainted the securities industry, but analysts were barely held accountable.  Now that dereliction is forgotten.  After the bubble burst, I remember asking, “Why would anyone trust a securities analyst?” But today’s stock valuations bear no such artifice.  The dot.com bust notwithstanding, significant stock price run-ups historically falter on signs of oncoming recession, not from valuation concerns.  Despite the aging recovery, economic slowdown is not apparent any time soon given the tax cut and deregulation.


Current anxiety about stocks rests on exaggerated fears about rising interest rates from inflation, as well as some concerns about overvaluation.  As explained, worries about stock valuations and the effect of higher interest rates are overblown now.  What’s more, inflationary pressures are not likely to develop for some time.  That’s because the new investment in the U.S in response to the recent tax cut and deregulation will likely substantially contribute to capital formation, higher employment and rising wages amid coordinated global economic growth. This stimulus includes direct investment here by foreign companies and the deployment of trillions of dollars of overseas U.S. profits. Even derided share buybacks and dividend increases will benefit the economy.  All that new investment, long deferred because of economic uncertainty, will likely balance economic demand and eventually restrict budget deficits because of the reality of supply-side economics, even given Trump’s new spending.  Meanwhile, a risk-averse Fed will ensure against an overheated economy.


To be sure, not everything is rosy.  Household debt is at record levels signaling serious implications for consumer spending.  In addition, some structural unemployment exists.  The president’s $4.4 trillion-dollar proposed budget for fiscal 2019 might require substantially more government borrowing that could raise interest rates.  But the positive effect of the tax cut throughout the economy will likely more than offset the strains of new spending.  Higher deficits in the short-term should be tolerated while greater economic growth develops.  This is not to dismiss the seriousness of the $21 trillion-dollar national debt which will decline materially only by reducing entitlement spending.  Alas, there is no appetite on either side of the political aisle to do so.


Economic fundamentals belie the media hype about volatility, inflation and interest rates.  The significant rebound from the recent sharp downturn in stock prices seems to support that assessment as many still confident investors have taken advantage of price dips.  The precipitous drop was largely attributed to computer-driven trading strategies based on the so-called volatility “fear index” that continues to abate. And yes, healthy corrections are to be expected after such a long dramatic ascent in the equity markets.  Barring a terrorist or geopolitical calamity, more prosperity is on the horizon.  We can thank Trump for that prognosis.  He is the main impetus behind it.  2/14/18


  • OBAMA HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE POST-CRISIS RECOVERY.  The economic recovery since President Trump’s election has been startling.  But the left touts the good fortune as a continuation of Obama’s policies, including the former president himself.  Let’s be clear.  Obama had nothing to do with Trump’s economic improvement, nor that which occurred during his own administration.  The Trump recovery is a direct reaction to his tax cuts and deregulation, both anticipated and realized.  Indeed, he removed the shackles with which Obama stifled the economy for eight years.   

Modest economic growth during the Obama years was a result of a natural resuscitation of demand deferred while growth and incomes were moribund following the 2008 financial crisis. Consumption and business investment slowly resumed in the natural course as pent up demand and depleted assets brought the economy out of hibernation.  For example, many had to buy cars after putting off replacement for extra years as they fully depreciated.  Likewise, businesses replaced equipment, albeit only in earnest after recovery became sufficiently evident here and abroad.  Some growth returned during the Obama years despite him, in the face of Obama’s continued excessive taxation and increasingly onerous regulation.  His notorious $800 billion-dollar “economic stimulus” was a bust, mostly squandered in a sop to the teachers unions in a gross political play. Obama even conceded recently that there is “no such thing as a “shovel-ready job”.

 

Similarly, the Democrats take credit for prosperity during the Clinton years.  His economic policies were more salutary than Obama’s largely because the Newt Gingrich led Congress held them in check.  The success of the economy in the 1990s was attributable to the private sector, namely the dot.com revolution, which generated huge tax revenues that contributed to the first budget surplus in 30 years.  Clinton was just a bystander.  To be fair, the private sector also produced the ensuing bust in 2000 after investors created a stock market bubble.  But better that than a growth-smothering government.

 

President Trump has restored consumer and business confidence that has yielded record fundamentals-based stock valuations that portend continued economic health for some time.  Today’s prosperity never could have happened in an Obama presidency.  1/16/18

 


  • PEOPLE TO MEDIA:  SHUT UP AND SIT DOWN!  For weeks we’ve endured an endless media stream of agenda-driven and mostly unsourced allegations of sexual misconduct in a heightened manifestation of political correctness.  It culminated in a hypocritical display of mass remorse at the Golden Globe Awards encapsulated in a “Time’s up” button and all-black garb.                             

Now we’re subjected to the continuous media vilification of President Trump over his leaked vulgarity about immigration policy.  His wholly legitimate question concerning why immigrants from certain third-world countries are favored over more palatable candidates is met with severe media derision.  In particular, Trump asked lawmakers assembled in the Oval Office the rationale for importing squalor from Haiti, Africa and elsewhere. As usual, the media try to conjure massive public offense aimed at undermining the president they hope will succumb to impeachment at their hand.

But once again, most Americans tacitly seethe at liberal media denigrating what they believe to be truth and reason.  Trump rightfully questioned why the U.S. does not admit more people from countries like Norway instead of backward nations.  This most impolitic remark inevitably resulted in untoward racial inferences by the left.  Of course, Trump’s suggested criteria take into account that country’s track record and the benefits Norwegians would bring through their presumed assimilation and respect for American sovereignty. What’s wrong with that?  

Haiti and Africa don’t meet that standard, not just because of tyrannical governments, but also given the social and moral foibles of too many of their people.  What obligation do Americans have to allow immigration to infuse third-world characteristics in our social fabric in an act of national masochism and possible suicide? Empirically, race and civilization correlate substantially.  America ignores that fact at its peril.                                                                                                                           

People of truth must stand up against the leftist media that are bent on destroying America.  I do my small part through my posts and social interactions.  For example, soon I will promote my annual “Time to ignore the Oscars” appeal to combat Hollywood in which I urge people to avoid the box office and other leftist Tinsletown products.  But in an act of sheer irony, I invoke the 1976 movie, “Network”, to implore like-minded truth-tellers and patriots to fight mass media.  We should muster the spirit of the exasperated news anchor, Howard Beale, who lamenting the nation’s ills petitioned his viewers to open the windows and scream, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”  Similarly, register your indignation by shouting down the media every day in concert with family, friends and co-workers.  Don’t let them win.  1/14/18


  • TRUMP IS RIGHT ABOUT THOSE “SH—HOLE COUNTRIES”.  Once again President Trump displays the courage to say what everyone believes but is too cowardly or dishonest to admit, even though it was just in a private meeting with some lawmakers.  He poses the eminently sensible question: Why should the U.S. admit immigrants from dysfunctional societies, such as Haiti and El Salvador, riven by crime, violence, poverty, disease, and government corruption?  The inevitable result of this policy is to create economic and cultural strains on the receiving nation, especially in the long term.  Popular recognition of this stark reality catapulted Trump to victory in 2016 and brought about the Brexit vote in Europe. 

As a point in fact, most such populations are black and brown, notwithstanding any number of upstanding individuals among them.  Draw your own conclusions as to why that’s true.  Perhaps there really is significant correlation between race and civilization.  We have a president who challenges the globalist left in its effort to contaminate America with third-world pathologies in order to pave the way for its destruction.  And that cabal hopes to capitalize on new found Democratic votes as a means to that end, enabled by ultimate citizenship promoted by a relentless liberal immigration juggernaut.  


We see the devastation that unfettered immigration has wrought in Europe.  Thank God we have a president who speaks unequivocally against it.  1/12/18



  • IS TRUMP CAPITULATING ON IMMIGRATION?  President Trump’s surprising confab with members of Congress in the Whitehouse to discuss immigration might suggest an impatience to just get something done to score some more points.  Is this action aimed at counteracting the effect of Michael Wolff’s just released book, “Fire and Fury:  Inside the Trump Whitehouse”?  Is he trying to ward off a possible rout in the midterm elections in November?  Is he posturing in advance of his 2020 re-election bid?  Or, is there a master plan at work here?  It’s hard to tell because Trump gives off conflicting signals.  On the one hand, he said he will rely on whatever Congress “comes up with”.  Yet when asked about the wall, he insists it is indispensable but he can cut the estimated $18 billion cost.  Of course, everyone knows the wall as Trump has touted it in the last couple of years is a non-starter for all Democrats and even some Republicans.  Then what does Trump mean? 

        Perhaps he’s trying to create an image of bipartisanship knowing a consensus in Congress will not materialize, especially given a 60 vote requirement             in the senate.  Then he could say he tried, having firmly placed his stake in the ground, and thus rightfully blame Congress –  without possibly having             to make any concessions amid congressional gridlock.  Alternatively, he could renege on his campaign promise and settle on a watered down bill that             may or may not result in a legislative victory.  Given Trump’s supposed insistence on the wall, it would seem the first scenario is likely.  Besides, to             cave on two years of strong rhetoric on the issue would doom his re-election.  His base would diminish, and Democrats will never give him credit                 anyway. 

 

For conservatives there are two non-negotiable prerequisites to satisfy before any consideration of DOCA immigrants:  1) Full and immediate funding to build and secure one of the already completed concrete wall prototypes to cover all vulnerable terrain; 2) The end of chain migration for all prospective legal entrants.  These measures would dramatically reduce the number of illegal invaders, and mitigate the ill effects of legal immigration, to include inevitable massive Democratic voting.  We must stop the flow of drugs, criminals, and disease, as well as minimize infrastructure strain and culture clash from unassimilated foreigners.  In addition, officials must develop and enforce effective controls over expired visas, and ensure employers comply with mandatory E-Verify reporting of illegals.  The conservative wish list also calls for a meritocratic basis for naturalization to replace current country-based allocations, and an unequivocal end to the immigration lottery.  

 

Without the aforementioned two non-negotiable provisions, Trump should walk and accept the status quo.  He could revisit the issue in time if sufficiently more conservative Republicans are elected to Congress. That might be his plan.  If Trump does not prevail, at least he would have thwarted the intense pressure to make things worse.  1/11/18 


                                                                                                    ©2018 William J. Dodwell

GUN CONTROL: A BIPARTISAN ASSESSMENT 

 

By William J. Dodwell    March 10, 2018

 

Once again, in the wake of the recent Parkland, Florida high school shooting that killed 17 people, the gun control debate takes center stage, this time with seemingly greater resolve to take action.  The issue involves many competing interests but mainly focuses on the Second Amendment right to bear arms vis a´ vis public safety risk, especially at the hands of mass murderers.  Those on the right invoke the constitutional freedom to bear arms to defend against a potentially tyrannical government, while also extending that right to self-defense against private transgressors.  Critics on the left claim the current availability of guns fosters their criminal use, most horrifically in mass murders, and they concede little regard for their need in self-defense.  The following examines the basic premises underlying the positions on both sides.

 

On the right:  The Second Amendment and tyrannical government

 

The Second Amendment

 

The Founding Fathers enacted the Second Amendment in the aftermath of the Revolutionary War waged against a tyrannical motherland, Great Britain, and in the absence of a national standing army that was largely disbanded after the war.  Many objected to a federal army out of fear of its oppressive powers.  Rather, state militias defended the colonies from foreign aggressors and functioned as an internal police force.  Today established armed forces defend the nation’s security, while local police throughout the land enforce the law under the auspices of the Department of Justice and the FBI.  The question is whether the threat of the government taking up arms against the people, so feared in colonial times, is still a cogent prospect or an outmoded notion. Is that danger plausible enough to warrant the risk that common access to guns poses to public safety?  The left considers the prospect of authoritarian government intervention outlandish.  The right considers it real.  Thus, the bitter debate over restrictions on the freedom to bear arms established in the U.S. Constitution.

 

Most conservatives believe, that despite a benign military and local law enforcement, an inimical government still has the power and inclination to nullify constitutional freedoms by physical force, if necessary, in the effort to maximize its power.  As such, Americans are entitled to arm themselves as promulgated in the Second Amendment of the Constitution in just one sentence that reads:

 

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,

the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

 

This right, established in the context of colonial times, was affirmed by the Supreme Court, first in 2008 in District of Columbia v. Heller regarding federal law, and again in 2010 in McDonald v. Chicago in respect of state and local law.  However, many on the left do not accept these decisions.  In fact, ironically, some liberals accuse the Court of judicial activism on the issue.

 

Tyrannical government

 

Consider that Nazi Germany and other authoritarian countries throughout history confiscated all guns in the course of imposing dictatorships.  Here at home, non-military agencies of the federal government have stockpiled guns, ammunition and military equipment in recent years according to Adam Andrzejewski, founder and head of OpenThe Books.com.  They include such Rambo-style units as the IRS, EPA, Small Business Administration, Treasury, VA and Department of Education. Why?  Also, why do Obamacare questionnaires that doctors are required to present to patients and return to government ask whether they own guns?  Does that inquiry speak to an altruistic exercise to protect the citizenry against its murderous self, or to a nefarious effort to quell potential opposition to an unlawful government? 

 

In view of growing intrusion on the people’s freedoms by an increasingly polarized and corrupt government, fostered by stifling political correctness, heavily promoted by academia and mass media, the right believes a government coup cannot be ruled out.  This is why conservatives oppose a national gun registry as it would facilitate confiscation in the event the government becomes a police state that tries to overthrow the democracy.  Indeed, a disarmed citizenry would remove an important check on the continued accretion of government power, as well as on the ultimate nullification of constitutional freedoms.

 

Today, conservatives worry that the increasingly liberal Democratic Party poses the risk of tyrannical government.  Indeed, the Democratic ranks are becoming more progressive as new candidates emerge, especially from the state legislatures.  For example, consider the left’s growing globalist and redistributionist bent and its defiance of the Constitution in the support for open borders and sanctuary cities, ultimately aimed at producing Democratic voters that will entrench the party and the welfare state.  The abrogation of federal immigration law also is part and parcel of a campaign to promote identity politics as a means of balkanizing the electorate around personal grievances rather than traditional constitutional principles that bind the nation. 

 

Also ponder the erosion of free speech protected by the First Amendment as evidenced by the suppression of conservative expression in the schools and colleges.  Indeed, this censorship fosters acquiescence to an ever-expanding canon of political correctness, a derivative of identity politics.  More broadly, the progressive view is about supplanting meritocracy with egalitarianism that engenders public support for, and reliance on, the state.   In another act of tyranny, conservatives believe woefully lowered academic standards in the schools are designed to ultimately thwart intellectual challenges to liberal orthodoxy so as also to cultivate future Democratic voters.

 

Also threatening the republic is the left’s insistence on ever-growing centralized federal government, regardless of fiscal strains, that encroaches on the rights of the states.  What’s more, an increasingly activist judiciary accommodates this leftward tilt, sometimes irrespective of constitutional restraints.  A particularly egregious example of this overreach is the 2017 ruling of Judge Derrick Watson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii against President Trump’s Muslim travel ban.  Astonishingly, he ignored specific support for the ban in the governing statute in direct defiance of the law.

 

As liberal Democrats amass executive, legislative and judicial control, the prospect of further diluted constitutional freedoms on which the nation has prospered becomes more likely.  While Republicans currently control the federal and state governments, power can shift quickly, even to the point where the government might resort to physical force to protect its dominance.  Given Democratic extremism exemplified above, a certain de facto tyranny already exists.  The right to bear arms is an important deterrent against that ultimate transgression by ensuring the government may not act with impunity.  Indeed, images of the American Revolution against British tyranny are not far removed.

 

The Obama example

 

To illustrate the vulnerability of the U.S. as a free constitutional republic to an overweening government, conservatives need only cite the anomalies of the Obama administration and its Marxist, globalist, redistributionist bent.  The president’s unaccountable flouting of the law suggests a potential slippery slope that could conceivably lead to an overt tyrannical turn on the people.  Consider the following examples.

 

  • The shirking of federal immigration law through a catch and release policy, and ordering border agents to stand down. Obama also unconstitutionally decreed effective amnesty for some 800,000 DACA immigrants by executive order.  In that spirit, many liberal cities and some states followed suit with impunity declaring themselves sanctuaries for illegal aliens, many of whom are criminal - all in the quest for future Democratic votes.

  • The deceit in foisting the Affordable Care Act on the people.

  • An imperious EPA that bankrupts citizens and companies for failing to comply with draconian environmental rules, such as the disingenuous designation of wetlands and pollutants based on extremely expansive applications of the law.

  • Other suffocating regulation and unconstitutional executive orders that stifle economic growth. Also, the coercive legal settlements imposed on banks by the unconstitutional Consumer Finance Protection Board that discouraged banks from lending.

  • The IRS maliciously denying tax-exempt status to qualifying conservative groups and its refusal to fully cooperate with Congressional investigations.

  • Evidence of illegal surveillance of the Trump team through illegal unmasking, and of Democratic efforts to undermine his administration through Obama loyalists planted throughout the administrative bureaucracy dedicated to blocking his reforms.

  • The evidentiary corruption of the DOJ and FBI in the effort to derail Donald Trump’s candidacy for president in favor of his Democratic opponent; complicity in falsifying an application for a FISA warrant to justify his surveillance through submission of a fabricated dossier.

  • The DOJ’s clandestine diversion of bank settlement funds related to the 2008 financial crisis to corrupt inner city civic groups, such as ACORN and its successor organizations.

  • The FBI’s contrived acquittal of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her email violations and her pay-to-play schemes involving the Clinton Foundation, despite abundant evidence suggesting criminal wrongdoing; this included her concurrence to sell 20% of the U.S. uranium supply to Russia in exchange for a $145 million payment to the Clinton Foundation; the DOJ acquiesced throughout.

  • Obama-directed falsified intelligence reports that minimized U.S. struggles in Iraq and Afghanistan to create the appearance of progress.

 

The right points out that compounding the gross improprieties of the Obama years was the complicity of corrupt media determined to protect the current and historical record of the first black president, an important liberal precedent.  To that end, all media refused to vet him as a candidate, to include ignoring abundant indications of his foreign birthplace that, if established, should have constitutionally disqualified him for the presidency. What’s more, Obama’s intransigence and collaborative media propaganda were largely accepted or ignored by the American people, inasmuch as Hillary Clinton garnered a majority of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election.  In view of this public acquiescence to government corruption, it is not inconceivable that such a renegade state could eventually invalidate remaining freedoms by force.  Only armed patriots could thwart the attack.

 

Some conservatives believe the nation rests on tenuous grounds, increasingly adrift from the principles of its founding. As such, they insist the right to bear arms is paramount as an antidote to tyranny, even if the resistance is executed on behalf of a popular minority.

 

On the left:  Public safety vs. the Second Amendment

 

Semi-automatic rifles

 

Gun critics cite many reasons for restricting firearms.  They believe the more guns extant, the greater the risk of crime and accident.  That concern supersedes the remote threat of a tyrannical government, and even the right of self-defense in private life.  Today, particular focus centers on mass murders and semi-automatic weapons, especially the AR-15. (Automatic arms are illegal.)  The left claims such arms are not necessary to protect against private transgressors and dismisses the probability of a government takeover of the people.  The right argues semi-automatic rifles are essential for effective defense, especially against potential hostile government forces, and legitimate for other purposes as well.  What’s more, conservatives point out that so-called assault weapons are used in only 2% of some 12,000 annual gun crimes, and are instrumental in a relative handful of gun fatalities.  Yet, that rifle gets disproportionate attention because of sensational media coverage following mass shootings in which it is commonly deployed.  In addition, semi-automatic rifles are lawful for hunting and other recreation, such as shooting competitions and hobby use, enjoyed by liberals and conservatives.  As such, the popularity of those activities is a major political obstacle to curbing the legality of semi-automatic rifles.

 

Calling out the NRA

 

The debate on the left largely centers on the demonization of the National Rifle Association (NRA), the premier gun owner advocate for the Second Amendment.  It promotes pro-gun arguments, and funds political campaigns in exchange for legislation favorable to gun owners.  The left claims this organization is just a proxy for the gun manufacturers and a conduit for their funding gun-friendly representatives in government.  As such, might NRA-influenced laws accommodating gun access exist to protect gun-makers’ profits at the expense of public safety?  Relatedly, is the NRA’s objection to raising the age for gun purchasers predicated on protecting Second Amendment rights, or is it out of concern for the revenues of its benefactor, the gun manufacturers?  

 

In the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida high school shooting, the NRA seems to face unprecedented resistance as many companies have broken ties with the organization under threat of boycotts.  Targets include companies that offer discounts and perks to NRA members, such as banks that issue the NRA Visa card.  The boycott movement is urging technology companies, such as Google, Apple and Amazon, to stop streaming NRA-produced videos.  And investment firms are under pressure to sell proprietary and client portfolio stocks of companies engaged in the sale or manufacture of guns.  The mass media in its animus toward gun ownership portray the NRA as the bogey man while giving short shrift to law enforcement lapses, consideration of mandatory armed guards, as well as to the Second Amendment itself.

 

But a much entrenched gun culture in this country provides enormous support for the NRA and gun ownership.  Consider Georgia Governor Nathan Deal who, at the behest of his Lt. Governor, Casey Cagle, signed into law a bill rescinding a tax break for Delta Air Lines in retaliation for cancelling discounts for NRA members.  As such, federal legislation to restrict gun access has been heretofore a non-starter as elected officials fear the consequences of supporting it.  (It’s like a politician’s fear of offending the AARP, a powerful lobby for the large voting retiree population.)  To wit, Congress allowed the 1994 assault weapon ban to expire after ten years because of little political appetite to renew it.

 

Raising the age for gun purchases

 

Is increasing the age requirement for gun purchases discriminatory as some conservatives claim?  The minimum age for the purchase of alcohol and tobacco is a safeguard against disproportionately irresponsible behavior among youth.  Likewise, a minimum voting age ensures a certain maturity beneficial to the public selection of elected officials.  Should that concern about irresponsibility and immaturity among youth not also apply to guns without being unduly discriminating?  Many on the left believe a higher minimum age requirement would eliminate a segment of the population largely associated with gun abuse. 

 

But conservatives argue that such an age limitation on gun ownership denies the constitutional right of self-defense, while an age limit on alcohol, tobacco, or voting only denies an indulgence or electoral representation.  One might ask why a minimum age would not be lowered to, say, 12 if maturity is not a factor.  To that point, gun restrictionists would say that one who owns a gun poses a potential danger to others, while one who consumes tobacco and alcohol, or who votes, does not, thus supporting a higher eligibility age for the gun owner.  In any case, most believe a lower age requirement for military use of a gun is justified by the precedence of national defense, and the fact that risk is limited to the relatively few who wear the uniform.  When considering limiting gun ownership through age requirement, or anything else, because of the risk of harming another through accident or murder, one has to consider the seriousness of denying one the important Second Amendment right of self-defense. 

 

In a different vein, some think the pervasiveness of violent video games coarsens attitudes about the responsible use of guns as to create an appetite for carnage, especially among youth.  Is an age restriction or other limitation in order here?  How about the influence of movies that so commonly portray violent characters wielding the assault weapons Hollywood decries in its political protestations?  Indeed, the movie rating system restricts viewership to above a certain age.  The jury is still out on these questions, but any consideration has to be weighed against the austerity of denying the public the entertainment value of these products.

 

The Parkland shooting – a watershed event

 

The Parkland, Florida incident reached a critical mass sparked by law enforcement failing to act, as reportedly four local deputies hid outside the school without engaging the shooter.  What’s more, both the FBI and the Broward County Sheriff’s office dismissed numerous reports in the decade before the shooting that the confessed assailant, Nikolas Cruz, was a serious threat to public safety.  Citizen calls even expressed alarm about his stated plan to attack a school. 

 

Historically, short of a preferred outright gun ban, gun critics have called for a reliance on effective law enforcement and a universal background check to preclude the need for civilian intervention in shootings.  By contrast, gun advocates have said law enforcement is not enough because it often fails, while background checks often are intrusive and ineffective.  They believe an armed civilian auxiliary, best attuned to the many potential abusers imbedded in the local social fabric, is necessary to take up the slack in identifying and engaging suspects.  In fact, most conservatives say the Parkland killings would have been limited if teachers and others were armed, especially in view of the cowardice supposedly displayed by the deputies.  Now it appears changes are afoot.

 

The Parkland massacre marks a tipping point in the gun debate as yet another mass murder, among several in just the last couple years, has frayed public patience to the point of a large scale grass roots call for reform.  As such, some advocate reinstating a ban on so-called military-style rifles, as well as outlawing controversial accessories, such as bump stocks.  Why are these weapons necessary?  Gun advocates invoke the tyrannical government scenario.  But why would they be needed to thwart an intruder or other private transgressor?  Conservatives minimize the risk guns pose as they claim irresponsible shooters are the problem, not guns per se. Therefore, emphasis should rest on deterring and challenging assailants through maximum armed force within reason.   

 

An anomaly

 

Why isn’t law enforcement brought to bear for not trying to quash the numerous daily gun murders occurring on the notorious South side of Chicago, despite the strictest gun laws in the country?  Where is the outrage on the left about those killings?  The likely reason that the mayor and law enforcement do not engage is racial politics.  To challenge the atrocities in that predominately black community would result in a race war with massive casualties on both sides.  The abundant supply of illegal guns coupled with an implacable criminal force determined to use them to protect turf makes for a potential racial clash with volatile implications throughout the body politic.

 

 For that reason, the politicians have no appetite for intervening.  And the police lie low in understandable fear of their lives in what would be a bloodbath as the opposition would resist en masse.  There would be little “hands up, don’t shoot” capitulation there.   In this case, the right points to the ineffectiveness of gun laws, while the left calls for a complete ban on guns.  But, truth be told, liberals mainly are mute about Chicago because they are loath to focus attention on rampant black crime.

 

Solutions

 

The extreme solution to the gun dilemma is to ban all guns at the expense of recreational and self-defense considerations, including protection against a government attack, a position espoused by much of the left.  A more realistic approach is to isolate the bad actors and prevent them from purchasing a gun in the first place, especially the mentally ill.

 

 To that end, more rigorous background checks and improved registry and attendant infrastructure are supported by much of the left and the right.  Senator John Cornyn (R - TX) proposes a version of this in his “Fix-NICS” bill which would supposedly detect many would be assailants before they strike.  This bill refers to repairing the incomplete FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database designed to flag gun abuse suspects. Data systems integration is key to avoiding silo-effects that break the flow of information (as they did prior to the 9/11 attack).  Those identified as risks according to prescribed criteria would be banned from purchasing arms and required to relinquish any already owned.  What’s more, proponents say civilians should have a systematic link to the process as unique grass roots reporters of suspect conduct.  Additionally, Florida Governor Rick Scott just signed into law the implementation of a state-wide database to identify anyone who makes a threat or is struggling with mental health. 

 

However, vast background check systems are a slippery slope that challenge constitutional due process and could falsely malign innocent people, as well as deter some mentally ill from seeking needed help.  The vetting process to identify potential gun abusers is fraught with possible error, fraud and privacy concerns.  Indeed, false positives could taint one’s reputation and employment prospects, as well as unduly deny the constitutional right to bear arms.  Ideally, criminal probability would be assigned to profiles, but that could be an exercise in sorcery. For these reasons many liberals and conservatives are skeptical of expansive databases as a preemptive tool to reduce gun abuse.

 

Rather, conservatives stress better enforcement of existing laws that follows up on leads and ensures effective engagement by officials on the scene.  In addition, they support supplementary law enforcement in the form of armed guards and trusted trained civilians in schools and certain other public venues, like those that already exist in airplanes, airports and elsewhere.  But added risks and costs give critics pause.  Accidents, as well as the misplacement or theft of guns are possibilities, and tight school budgets are at cross purposes.  Other security measures call for raising the minimum age for purchasing a firearm, and perhaps limiting the number of guns owned.  In a nod to the new seriousness of the gun abuse problem (or to political correctness), some stores have discontinued the sale of military-style rifles. Walmart has even stopped selling toy guns.   Conservatives insist that, if Second Amendment freedom is to be compromised, it has to be in exchange for actions that substantially mitigate gun abuse.  In other words, gun restrictions must be effective to justify the right to bear arms.  Just placating political interests must be avoided.

 

Striking a balance

 

In the final analysis, a tradeoff between public safety and self-defense sanctioned by the Second Amendment always remains.  On the left, insouciance about the Second Amendment because of the seeming remoteness of a government takeover engenders a disposition toward restricting gun ownership in favor of safety. So too does the left’s reliance on law enforcement for engaging criminals absent a complement of armed citizenry.  However, the right’s concern about a government threat to Second Amendment freedom, in the form of gun restrictions, confiscation or physical attacks against the people, compels gun availability in order to preserve all precious constitutional freedoms. This right to armed self-defense applies to encounters with private aggressors as well.  Conservatives believe criminals will always find guns, lawfully or not. This means restricting their availability at the expense of law-abiding citizens is misguided

 

On the left, the disproportionately severe emotional impact of mass murder necessitates gun restriction as a preventive measure.  But on the right, such potential devastation demands gun accessibility to minimize such slaughter through the presence of guns as both a deterrent and a means of resistance.  In short, the left believes the abundance of guns invites violence, and therefore should be restricted.  But the right claims guns are necessary for self-defense against tyrannical government and all manner of transgressors, in conjunction with law enforcement. 

 

To best reconcile the two disparate perspectives, gun law has to optimize safeguards against gun abuse without unduly infringing Second Amendment freedom.  This means laws must demonstrate effective deterrence and tactical opposition against aggressors to justify gun right concessions.  In the process, law enforcement must be held accountable for its lapses to ensure appropriate adjustments. 

 

Continued dissatisfaction on both the left and right is inevitable.  But if some mix of proposed reforms substantially limits gun abuse while reasonably upholding the right of the public to bear arms to defend itself, victory may be declared.  The balancing act can be adjusted as experience dictates, but unfortunately, politics will always rear its ugly head, which too often undermines the commonweal.

                                                                        ©2018 William J. Dodwell


Miscellaneous Thoughts Posted to Linked In Between April and June 2018


  By William J. Dodwell



  • .THE WORLD CUP:  A LEFTIST TOOL.  This time of year we have to endure the ubiquitous media coverage of the world soccer championships.   The underlying political agenda should not escape astute observers of the political scene.  As a globally popular game it is a symbol of the Marxist one-world social dynamic, and thus a tool of the media to propagate those politics.  Despite America’s lack of interest in the sport, the left continues to foist it on the populace. By design, soccer has to some extent replaced (Little League) baseball in the grade schools. 


         But in fact, only foreigners residing in this country care about it.  The media, attracted by the huge foreign population in the U.S., promote the game to their         economic, but also, political ends.  Every Greek diner displays the elimination contests on the television.  Newspapers splash their coverage as if it were the         World Series.  Yes, some Americans respond to a brief focus on their ancestral homeland or ethnicity, and others see the competition as a gambling                     opportunity.  But the vast majority don’t care about the game with its minimal scoring, seeming lack of strategy, and hyper-emotional fans. What’s more,             FIFA, the world soccer federation, has proved to be grossly corrupt. 


The left seizes on the general appeal of sport to get Americans to embrace this globalist symbol in the hope of ultimately inuring them to a one-world mindset and an open borders policy.  Indeed, the media-induced faux soccer craze is a leftist tactic aimed at influencing attitudes about non-white immigration in this country.  6/28/18




  • TRUMP THE GREAT.  The president continues to stick to his guns on immigration and trade.  He insists he will not support migrant camps in the U.S.  He is only enforcing existing law regarding custody for children separated from their parents because of their required jailing for the misdemeanor of crossing the border illegally.  Democrats and many Republicans want him to ignore the law and allow the migrants permanent entry which means effective amnesty and eventual voting rights.  Of course, doing so would encourage additional mass migration which Trump will not abide.  Many of the children detained were abandoned by horrible parents who never even toilet trained them.  What’s more, without current protection some children would be joined by kidnappers, pedophiles and traffickers claiming to be their parents.  As Trump says, Congress could quickly amend the law to mitigate the separation problem but Democrats refuse because they want to exploit the optics of crying children for political gain in the midterm elections.  Meanwhile the children are enjoying a physical quality of life better than many Americans.

On the trade front, Trump just declared an additional $200 billion of tariffs on imports from China, in addition to the $50 billion currently in place.  China likely will cry “uncle” first, resulting in major tariff relief (ideally tariff elimination). In the meantime, many small businesses in particular have to bear higher prices for imports and for product of competing domestic producers.  Some may have to close shop.  This is most unfortunate but recall Fed Chairman Paul Volcker’s monetary tightening in the early 1980s that did the same amid a sharp recession.  That action ushered in economic growth and stability still enjoyed today.  Economic relief from fair trade would foster a similar stimulus.  It is worth the short-term pain.  The same applies to other trading partners.

Only President Trump has the courage and conviction to pursue these and other important policies.  What leadership! 6/19/18

  • See my paper entitled, “Rethinking Free Trade” published in Social Science Research Network (SSRN), a division of Elsevier Publishing at http://ssrn.com/abstract=3184446 6/18/18

  • See my June 10, 2018 article published in The American Thinker entitled, "A Protracted Trade War? Not Necessarily" at https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2018/06/_a_protracted_trade_war_not_necessarily.html


    President Trump must persist in his trade stance, notwithstanding economic and political pressures in the short-term. In the longer run trade partners will likely relent because their suppressed export revenue from new U.S tariffs and concomitant inflated input costs from their retaliatory tariffs will hurt them much more than the U.S. Up to $200 billion in annual deficits, the equivalent of 1% of U.S. GDP, has been ceded to other nations. This incidentally finances socialist policies throughout the world. It must stop.  6/10/18
  • I FEEL A SONG COMING ON.  Time once again to shift from conservative politics to conservative culture.  Accordingly, The Comprehensive Conservative features some more of his piano recordings.  My first selection is that great Cole Porter classic from the 1930s, “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” which I recorded in 2010. https://youtu.be/rhqEPH8FmQY
    The next song is a Michel Legrand composition from the 1982 movie, “Best Friends” I recorded in 2016 entitled, “How Do You Keep The Music Playing?” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LVoVjirOE1k
    For the first time I add a third song, just because I feel like it.  Enjoy that old jazz standard from the 1940s, “On Green Dolphin Street” by Bronislaw Kaper.  I recorded this on tape in 1991 and later digitized it for CD and the internet, hence the raspy sound. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZpxVQXy4_NM 
    For a wide selection of more recordings see my YouTube channel at
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCrgNxZBhgoNNZ6nmb7SAKxA
    6/5/18
  • VULGARITY AND THE LEFT.  Liberals have legitimized profanity in public discourse, even among women who once were shielded from it in polite society.  Cursing in open forums is now an emblem of freedom, but with certain restrictions in the name of political correctness.  The firestorm over comedian Samantha Bee’s utterance of the “C” word in reference to President Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, is instructive.  On the one hand, the liberal canon promotes open vulgarity, but on the other hand that code proscribes this particular epithet on the ground that it encourages misogynist indulgence in contravention to gender politics.  (Yet, a reference to the male counterpart is apparently acceptable.)  
Recall comedian Andrew Dyce Clay twenty years ago.  His act mainly involved salacious invective that traditionalists considered misogynist.  But he never spoke ill of black people.  Today, both women and blacks are off limits, as well as all others in the identity politics spectrum.  Liberal protected classes are sacrosanct and take precedence over vulgarity as a tool of the left to bring down America.
In fact, liberals celebrate freedom of expression in general (but only for their nefarious ends).  However, they draw the line at the slightest negative racial invocation for which they administer the harshest reprobation for conservatives in a most hypocritical double standard.  We see this in the current Rosanne Barr flap regarding her jocular physical characterization of Valerie Jarret.
Another example of how public vulgarity and political correctness intersect under the banner of free speech is Michelle Wolf’s vile performance on national television at the recent Whitehouse Correspondents’ Dinner in which her closing line was, “… I gotta get the f**ck out of here.”  After Wolf finished, the association’s president, Margaret Talev, took to the podium to condone the entire act as a demonstration of First Amendment rights.  Oddly, while conservative critics rightfully scorned Wolf’s leftist political references, few seemed to object to her vulgarity, suggesting it is now indeed institutionalized.
Civility as a social guidepost is one thing; political correctness is another.  By any traditional standard all three women behaved reprehensively.  But civility is no longer the benchmark on the left.  Today, vulgarity and political correctness replace civility.  So, liberals get to curse like a sailor in public to the cultural detriment of the nation’s soul while upholding the PC bible.  As such, Samantha Bee can spew profanities, except for the “C” word that violates the gender card.  Rosanne Bar can joke with abandon, except as it invokes race.  And Michelle Wolf can spread her verbal excrement as she promotes the liberal agenda in her act.  The left gets to degrade America both culturally and politically in a double whammy to tradition.
Vulgarity and political correctness erode the nation’s underpinnings by design.  Whenever a PC violation emerges, all media recoil in feigned indignation meant to intimidate the public into common cause.  Really, how offensive is Samantha Bee’s utterance?  Likewise Rosanne Barr’s joke?  Not to condone them, but not at all, of course.  Nonetheless, the media say they’re verboten and you better think so too.  As such, the left seizes upon PC transgressions and vilifies the transgressors, especially conservatives.  As a result, everyone, even conservatives, cow in mass obeisance to the left pretending to be offended for fear of social retribution. 
The left loves public vulgarity because it degrades America. But it will not be permitted to undermine more pernicious political correctness whose purpose is to ultimately destroy America.  Samantha Bee and Roseanne Barr recently learned that lesson.  6/3/18

 



  • DONALD J. TRUMP:  MESSIAH.  As I watched him at the recent Tennessee rally I became more convinced that the guy is a gift from God to save this nation. He has truly made a believer out of me.  During the primaries I was skeptical of his abilities to be president.  So I supported Ted Cruz as a conservative maverick with a conventional political profile to break the mold of establishment politics.  As it turned out, Trump (whom I supported in the general) is producing great results as a genuine disrupter. His hallmark is his unparalleled courage coupled with incredible stamina for his age. His remarkable fearlessness makes him the best leader since Ronald Reagan, and in some ways better. All this despite a quirky personality that betrays some instability (but not enough to disqualify him).  As to his idiosyncrasies, as long as he implements conservative policies, I don’t care if he bangs Stormy Daniels in the Rose Garden in full view of the press corps.

His decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Mexico, Canada and Europe for their failing to correct grossly unfair agreements of the past took courage in the face of intense political pressure worldwide.  After some brinkmanship, I believe that Trump’s determination will eventually result in concessions for the U.S. because our trade partners desperately need us. Similar courage displayed with respect to the Paris Climate Accord, the Iran deal, the VA problems, defeating ISIS, border deportations, including MS-13 animals, standing up to North Korea, the Jerusalem embassy, the NFL anthem, and his “free to try” experimental drug policy define him as a truly transformative president.  And of course, his immediate and ongoing effort to nullify the horrendous Obama legacy through a major tax cut, conservative court appointments and deregulation, to include the gradual dismantling of Obamacare, calls for a national standing ovation.  

Now with all deserving kudos in place, my advice to Trump is BUILD THE F***IN WALL. 5/31/18


  • STARBUCK’S HOWARD SCHULTZ:  A GUILT-RIDDEN LIBERAL FOOL.  His premium-priced lattes don’t attract too many downscale customers.  So, he feels compelled to open his restrooms in the interest of a diverse environment.  Of course, as the inevitable vagrants take over there will be no sales (not even pay toilet revenue) and still a monolithic store population.  How does Howie explain this to the shareholders?  They can’t all be “socially responsible” investors.  What is the protocol for a shareholders' action suit against a deranged CEO? Political correctness run amuck. 5/30/18

    • MY RESPONSE TO COMMENT.  This is chick-speak.  You ask for more accommodation to girls in the classroom through greater consideration by their male counterparts.  That just plays to the nefarious political agenda behind the scenes.  As it is, boys have been marginalized by a feminist-dominated education system that neuters them. Their natural tendencies for kinetic behavior and aggression are suppressed in the schools today.  Watch out.  Your son’s support for his female classmates you mention may be the first sign of his indoctrinated feminization. Education fools even try to eradicate any semblance of gender difference.  They refuse to acknowledge the historically obvious that males are more naturally oriented by interest and ability for science and technology pursuits.  The first general sign of the emasculation policy appeared when coaches were first forbidden to allow the score of games to be disclosed. Boys have been furtively relegated in academics such that college attendance is heavily skewed toward women now.  All this has terrible implications for our future society.  At this rate, forget about men mentoring women in the workplace.  The guys will all be subordinates. Just what the left wants as the country careens toward third-world status.  5/28/18

    • THE ME-TOO MOVEMENT IS OUTRAGEOUS. I used to say the lawyers were largely behind it to make a buck, which they were.  But now allegations of sexual misconduct don’t even reach the stage of litigation, or even of legitimate due process of any kind.  Almost daily mere accusations force resignations and firings that destroy careers, finances and family.  It would be interesting to know how many of those displaced men are strategically replaced by women as a means of forcing them up the ladder to diminish male dominance.  While a few reports of behavior may be reprehensible, most are innocuous, or they should be considered such.  A passing touch or comment, a raised voice, or much more, especially many years prior, do not warrant attention, much less action in the age-old battle of the sexes. Ironically, such charges make women look weak, at the same time they seek equality with men. To the aggrieved, grow up. The Me-Too Movement is simply exploitation by the feminist left with a big impetus from man-hating lesbians.  And, of course, the media seize the opportunity to push the identity politics envelope yet further in the left’s ultimate quest to divide and conquer America on the way to a globalist socialist regime (which would ultimately doom women as well). 

    To the accused, man up.  Men must stand up against this attack – a tall order in today’s castrated America.  I relish the thought of the possible backlash scenarios. Here are some to ponder.  Increasingly, men will focus on small businesses that lie under the legal radar.  Even in large corporations, male executives will hire and promote as few women as possible without triggering discrimination and harassment prohibitions.  Even before “Me-Too” men were reluctant to hire women because they are prone to filing capricious lawsuits that invariably wind up settled in their favor to avoid further ramifications.  Many cases involve as little as $20,000, not the multi-millions that get the media attention.  These women are a nuisance.  They engender male resentment and skepticism about all women in the workplace, not sympathy for their advancement.  Because of the egg shells atmosphere in the workplace, women will have difficulty finding relationships, or even the chance to get laid, as men concentrate on other female populations.  In time, even women will revolt against the movement as too many eminently qualified innocents go down amid the fire.  After all, they know that, ultimately, it always has been, always will be, and always should be a man’s world.  5/28/18

     

    • TANYE AND “BENIGN SLAVERY”.  The debate about race is rarely honest.  Political sensitivities cause the focus to center only on black grievances and attendant accommodations as the solution to their difficulties.  This “the glass is half full” view suppresses inconvenient realities about black behavior and history.  Indeed, the pursuit of truth also requires a consideration of the role of personal responsibility and the deleterious reliance on excuses in “the glass is half empty approach”.  In particular, that contemplation should include an understanding of the complete reality of slavery, which is commonly ascribed to ongoing problems in the black community.

       

    Last week rapper Tanye West created a furor suggesting that, because slavery in America lasted as long as 400 years, some slaves tolerated slavery by choice.  After all, if slaves opposed their plight en masse the resistance would have reached a critical mass that would have ended slavery much earlier.  Predictably, Tanye’s words created vitriol on the left.  True to form, some black thugs called for violence against him in a display of animus that is symptomatic of problematic black behavior writ large.  On the right, Laura Ingraham suggested Tanye meant to say something less toxic that did not diminish slavery as the sacred cow it is.  No, Tanye said what he meant.  What’s more, he’s right, the extent to which has to be determined.

     

    I have long harbored Tanye’s thought about what might be considered certain benign slavery but have not dared to address it in my extensive writings on race.  But since Tanye opened the door, I will enter the fray.  Of course, this is not to ignore lynchings, whippings and other atrocities inflicted on slaves in undeniable bondage.  We also know that slaves were abducted and many tried to escape as their owners chased them in pursuit.  Involuntary servitude was a reality.  But could it be that for some, perhaps most, slavery was benign?  Consider, they got three square meals a day and a roof over their heads that might not otherwise have been available to them in a highly discriminatory society.  This phenomenon is seen among some long-term convicts who do not want their freedom when their sentence expires.  They only know prison life and they are comfortable with the succor it offers.  This acquiescence may have prolonged slavery as Kanye suggests.  To what extent was slavery benign, akin to the relationship of a Jack Benny to his domestic, Rochester?  The question is verboten because it undermines slavery as an excuse for the ongoing black plight that deflects from real solutions in the debate about race.  As always, politics trumps truth.

     

    I continue to denounce Kanye West as a purveyor of cultural rot that corrupts our youth and degrades our civilization.  But if his expressed allegiance to Trump garners substantial black support for the president, as evidenced in the immediate doubling of Trump’s approval rating in the black community, I’ll give him a temporary pass.  And I’ll give him eternal credit for broaching slavery by choice, a notion heretofore never even whispered.  5/7/18

     



    • FIGHT DAVID HOGG AND HIS MANIPULATORS.  Here is at least a partial list of advertisers who have withdrawn ad placement from Laura Ingraham’s program in support for the latest pawn of the Left, David Hogg:  Ace Hardware, Expedia, Trip Advisor, Johnson & Johnson, Bayer, Office Depot, Honda, Nestle, Wayfair, Nutrish, Ruby Tuesday, Miracle Ear, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Atlantis, Paradise Island, Joseph A. Bank, Jenny Craig, and Stitch Fix.  Be sure to challenge this outrage by supporting a massive counter boycott against these companies and urge everyone you know to do likewise.  Do not buy their products and register your complaints with managements informing them of your boycott.  Show the Left and their toadies who’s really boss. 4/8/18


    Miscellaneous Thoughts Posted to Linked In Between July and September 2018


    By William J. Dodwell

    • EVEN IF FORD AND RAMIREZ ACCUSATIONS AGAINST KAVANAUGH ARE TRUE, THEY SHOULD NOT BE DISQUALIFYING. 

      All the focus is on the credibility of the allegations of Dr. Christine Baisely Ford and Deborah Ramirez, but no one has the courage to challenge the seriousness of the charges.  Even if true, the accusations are not grave enough to deny Kavanaugh his confirmation.  Reprehensible, yes, but not criminal or disqualifying.  Nor does Kavanaugh’s behavior nullify his esteemed lifetime record, which is the proper basis of his qualifications for the Court.  The claims are just about the intemperate acts of an inebriated teenage horndog that yield no subsequent pattern in future conduct.  The faux outrage in large measure derives from the #MeToo mentality and its advocates.  They now collaborate with Democratic operatives in their desperation to protect their increasingly liberal agenda from the threat of another conservative on the Supreme Court. 

       

      Ford’s charge of attempted rape is overblown.  In fact, the alleged act was just adolescent horseplay, while Ramirez’s claim of indecent exposure is harmless.  As to the supposed “trauma” they suffered, well, they should get over it - or get thee to a nunnery.  The alleged conduct should not derail Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

       

      Of course, ugly politics is driving this charade, so justice is merely academic.  But if this Democrat standard of prosecution becomes commonplace, the republic is doomed.  As mentioned, #MeToo has gone beyond just sexual misconduct in the effort to castrate America.  Now it overtly collaborates with the left to advance globalist socialism while undermining the rule of law. As such, the movement ought to be obliterated.  9/27/18



    • MORE WAR ON #MeToo. Here is yet another excerpt from my recently published manifesto, “War On #MeToo: The Real Story About Sexual Harassment”. See the complete paper at https://lnkd.in/d_xvnvJ

             From the section titled, "What hath #MeToo wrought?" The #MeToo movement is primarily a campaign of the left to empower women by                    disempowering men in the latest play on identity politics. But it also gets full support from the right out of fear of alienating women, a huge population that traverses all social, commercial and political constituencies. The movement’s tactics have breached appropriate ethical standards as they vilify all manner of male behavior toward women to produce serious personal, employment and societal consequences for the accused. Meanwhile, advocates try to shame men into supporting its agenda. Sadly, they succeed.

     

    Injustices include a dearth of due process for the accused that allows plaintiffs to weaponize capricious and fabricated grievances with impunity. Some accusations concern comments that arise from private conversations or internal conference calls. And the #MeToo gestapo extends to speech outside the office, even to the home, sometimes resulting in domestic abuse charges. The new paradigm is a godsend for feminists.  9/25/18


    • HAVE THE DEMOCRATS CREATED AN EMERGING BACKLASH AGAINST #MeToo?  Even some liberals think Dr. Christine Baisley Ford’s flimsy claim against Judge Kavanaugh hurts the movement for its transparent lack of substance and the obvious delay tactics of her Democrat operatives.  After all, the #MeToo crusade is largely about seizing upon a woman’s allegation as a substitute for a determination by trial based on the law.  As such, a claim must have at least some semblance of credibility to sustain duped public support for the movement.  The Kavanugh case could erode that trust.  Now it gets worse with his former classmate Deborah Ramirez’s claim that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a party 35 years ago.  These much ado about nothings make #MeToo look bad, and that is good.

     

    But there is more at play.  According to Fox’s Tucker Carlson, Democrats and the accusers’ lawyers might be trying to trigger a certain arcane Senate procedure that could derail the nomination even past the 2020 presidential election if a vote is not taken soon.  To do this, I fear Democrats could feign outrage at some comment in Ford’s, or even Kavanaugh’s, testimony on Thursday as a pretext for again demanding a special investigation.  Conceivably, Senator Grassley might have to agree on political grounds.  Accordingly, Ford’s lawyers, in cahoots with corrupt Democrats, could order, or pay, her to fabricate any kind of concoction.  At this point Ford’s claim has the backing of the entire liberal establishment as it exploits the popular #MeToo mindset to block a conservative from the Supreme Court.  Indeed, the movement is not just about feminism.  It’s about buttressing the left’s agenda writ large.

     

    Ford’s claim has little credibility as there is no evidence, no corroborating witness, and no complainant memory of basic details.  As to the seriousness of the charge, Ford seems to construe an alleged incident of adolescent horseplay as attempted rape.  Hey, any 17 year-old guy who hasn’t tried to cop a feel as Kavanaugh allegedly did is probably an eventual candidate for the gay mafia.  Also, consider Ford’s initial legal representative, sexual harassment and anti-Trump activist Debra Katz, who orchestrated the claimant’s coming forward.  She is the very image of the far-left, clip-haired, man-hating lesbian on which #MeToo depends for particular impetus, as has the longstanding NOW movement.  At bottom, the case is primarily about combating a potential blow to abortion rights through the repeal of Roe v. Wade, the greatest threat to women’s equality, liberals believe.  But liberals also hold that the entire progressive agenda is at risk if another conservative ascends to the Court.

     

    Will the Democrats keep drudging up more claimants to delay the vote beyond that supposed procedural deadline?  Senator Feinstein already has called for suspending hearings again to investigate Ramirez’s innocuous claim.  The mind boggles at the lies, innuendos, and exaggerations the Democrats could conjure from any number of planted complainants to sway a few Republican votes to derail the nomination, or even force Kavanaugh to withdraw.  Committee Chairman Grassley must stand firm and take a vote this week.  The fear of a voter backlash in the midterm elections for not further accommodating the Democrats is unfounded.  The left’s subversion of justice will galvanize the Republican base more than ever, and win over many sympathetic independents in the very defense of the republic.  

     

    Meantime, the #MeToo spirit underlying the faux Democratic outrage in the hearings may be losing ground.   That definitely would be an added victory for justice.  9/24/18


    • FORD’S CREDIBILITY AND THE SERIOUSNESS OF KAVANAUGH’S ALLEGED ATTACK ARE THE ISSUES.  How credible is Christine Blasey Ford’s claim of sexual assault against Bret Kavanaugh?  She remained virtually quiet for 36 years. Reportedly, she is a left-wing political activist, a prerequisite for a college professor’s career, who spent the weekend deleting all her social media accounts to suppress her political bias for next week’s hearing before the Senate Judicial Committee (now in doubt).  Her long silence ended at the most opportune moment as her conservative target is about to be confirmed for the Supreme Court.  One wonders how much some leftist benefactor paid her to suddenly come forward.  Her claim flies in the face of Kavanaugh’s categorical denial and stellar legal and social track record.


        How serious is Ford’s accusation, which is fraught with mitigating circumstances?  A hormone and alcohol fueled seventeen year old male groped a                 woman at a party.  Wow!  Unprecedented.  This is life growing up.  If Ford can’t abide it she should get thee to a nunnery.  Teenage boys do stupid things,     such as instinctively drive fast, or engage in horseplay, which does not rise to the level of rape or assault.  In any case, Kavaugh’s meritorious                         achievements throughout adulthood belie the relevance of his adolescent judgement in a possible inebriated moment, and stand as justification for his             confirmation.  However, Kavanaugh’s firm unequivocal denial would have to square with the nuances of the mitigated version of events to avoid a                 disqualifying perjury charge.


     In the absence of a trial, the accusation is just an unprovable he said/she said case that should not dash his confirmation.  Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley must deny the Democrats’ latest ploy to delay a vote pending a formal investigation.  A sincere Ford would reject Democrat pressure and testify now or not at all.  Postponing the full Senate vote until after the midterm elections allows red state Democrats, such as Manchin and Heitkamp, to vote no with political impunity.  Unfortunately, the uncertainty that looms if Ford refuses to testify now may provide political cover for some renegade committee Republicans to vote nay in a fatal blow to Kavanaugh’s nomination.   9/19/18


    Sexual harassment law on its face appears quite punitive, even draconian.  But according to Lex Machina, a legal analytics company, the defendant prevails in 95% of court cases, suggesting that few claims pass muster on the legal merits.  Because of this track record, there is a move among liberals to amend the law to make it more accommodating to plaintiffs.  What’s more, 75% of cases settle.  This shows that claimants avoid trial because of the slim chance of winning, but also because of the cost and unwanted publicity of a trial.  Defendants and their employers shun trial for the same reasons, despite an excellent chance of winning.   As a consequence, many accused unfairly lose jobs and more for behavior that may be risque´, but within the bounds of the law, just because skittish employers fear a media backlash from sexual misconduct charges.  Something is wrong with this picture.

     

    The #MeToo movement encourages claimants to exploit the vast grey area between claims that hold up under the law when tested in trial, and those subject to a much lower ambiguous threshold in a settlement case.  In so doing, #MeToo sensationalizes cases through the media to become a propaganda force of the feminist left.  9/18/18

     

    • #MeToo RUN AMUCK IN KAVANAUGH HEARINGS.  The movement is a tool of the left to empower women by disempowering men.  But now we also see it is as a new identity politics weapon, like race, to block conservatives.  The accusation of a woman who claims Judge Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her over 35 years ago when he was 17 is, of course, absurd.  But its truth and seriousness cannot be determined without formal adjudication that would derail the confirmation, despite a certain exoneration in court.  As such, the allegation serves as a reason for gutless grandstanding Republicans to withhold their support, which committee member Senator Flake has done already.  #MeToo must be defeated. 


            See my recently released manifesto, “War On #MeToo:  The Real Story About Sexual Harassment”, available in its entirety at https://sites.google.com/site/thecomprehensiveconservative/culture/current-commentary

              9/17/18




            The #MeToo movement encourages claimants to exploit the vast grey area between claims that hold up under the law when tested in trial, and those subject         to a much lower ambiguous threshold in a settlement case.  In so doing, #MeToo sensationalizes cases through the media to become a propaganda force of             the feminist left.  It is safe to say women in the workforce are more litigious than men, as they are often quicker to sue over perceived discrimination.                  Many such unheralded frivolous workplace cases commonly settle for as little as $20,000 without public knowledge.  However, the media often promote             female claims against high profile figures, giving the accuser more leverage in settlement negotiations.  Fearing political fallout, employers terminate                 accused men for mere allegations without due process, other than perhaps a perfunctory internal investigation to cover themselves.  Many company                     defendants settle to the detriment of the accused employee just to cut their losses and avoid reputational damage, and accusers know it.  Justice is often lost         in the process.  9/11/18


    • ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE ALSO CENSORS CONSERVATIVE CONTENT.  With all the attention on conservative censorship by social media, no one has mentioned antivirus software as a culprit.  After I renewed my antivirus protection recently using a different product called WEBROOT, I began to see the following alert message over the Google entry for my website, The Comprehensive Conservative:  “Suspicions Site.  Caution:  It is likely this website contains malware or other security risks.” This never happened before with other software. Nor does the alert appear when I access my website from another location.  “Conservative” is a prime keyword for these scoundrels. It’s like chum to a shark. Spread the word because I think this aspect of conservative censorship is under the radar.  9/6/18

    • BOOKSTORES SUPPRESS CONSERVATIVE WORKS.  Not only do social media platforms block conservative content.  Bookstores do too.  Last night I perused a store in Penn Station, New York City hoping to peak at some current conservative releases.  Appallingly, Jeanine Pirro’s “Liers, Leakers and Liberals” was nowhere to be seen.  Only after asking, did I see Greg Jarrett’s “The Russia Hoax” lying flat on a table in the back underneath several other books.  Both were recently #1 on the New York Times Bestsellers list and they currently occupy the #4 and #2 positions respectively.  Ann Coulter’s “The Resistance Is Hopeless”, which initially makes the list next Sunday, was absent as well, as was Danesh’s D’Souza’s “Death Of A Nation” which has been on the list for 13 weeks. Why were these titles not in stock and, in Jarrett’s case, not displayed at the entrance to the store along with other popular books?  Is management afraid of rousing conservative sentiment before the midterm elections?


      Of course, this is not new.  I had the same experience in 1992 looking for Rush Limbaugh’s first book, “The Way Things Ought To Be”.  And that work was the fastest selling in publishing history at the time.  In the past, I found that hits by Pat Buchanan and Michael Savage also were buried in the back on the ground level shelf.  On one occasion, I took a Bill O’Reilly bestseller from obscurity and placed it upright on the front display table right over an Al Franken book.  I did the same with a Savage book to displace some liberal’s tome I don’t recall. 


      The stranglehold the left has over media is beyond outrageous.  In this case, conservative readers have to question the store managers, let them know the political shenanigans they’re playing are obvious, and demand that top selling right wing authors be represented prominently, as often required by contract with publishers.  But beware.  In my experience this can lead to fisticuffs.  9/5/18


    #MeToo is the latest identity politics play.  As an exponent of the leftist feminist agenda, as well as the LGBT cabal, this movement aims to capitalize on false and exaggerated sexual harassment claims to empower women by disempowering men.  Specifically, plaintiffs rely on a denial of due process for the accused and the opportunity for legal settlement extortion, a course that destroys careers, reputations, marriages and finances of hapless defendants.  Accusers avoid trial, where 95% of these cases fail, in order to extract lucrative settlements from their targets.  The #MeToo movement operates unchallenged because of a fear of political backlash in the media and a gullible public. Consider this paper a call to arms for men and women alike to restore justice and combat this new onslaught of the left.  Read my entire 10,000 word (21 page) report to understand the full context of this nefarious force.  9/4/18


    • ENOUGH ALREADY WITH THE McCAIN TRIBUTES.  With all the media accolades for Senator John C. McCain in the wake of his death he’ll get whatever praise he might be due.  So it is incumbent on me to put the encomiums in perspective by highlighting his faults in the interest of truth.  He was a darling of the liberals for his many traitorous acts against his Republican Party.  He was the maverick, but always to the left.  He urged compromise while the Democrat Party drifts toward socialism.   

            In particular, he will be remembered in history for his momentous vote that defeated the repeal of Obamacare, even though he had campaigned                     on  abolishing it.  For that he deserves eternal damnation.  Did he do it as a vendetta against President Trump?  Did he do it to preserve the signature legislation of the first black president?  He said he did not like the replacement plan but that is no excuse given how bad Obamacare is.  McCain was supposedly a champion of veterans.  But he did nothing in all those years to uproot the status quo at the VA fraught with union bloat, incompetence and corruption.  He just demanded more funds to feed the beast.  In all that time as one so close to veteran affairs, did he not know about the VA scandals?  Did he cover them up to protect the unions, or perhaps Obama?  It took President Trump to make some appropriate changes.  He campaigned for reelection in 2010 promising to support the border wall.  Recall his quip, “Build the dang wall.”  Then he reneged.  In the 1980s he was a member of the so-called Keating Five that tried to compromise bank regulators. That contributed to depositors of a savings and loan to lose their life savings by converting their deposits to junk bonds that financed failed risky real estate investments meant to enrich some bad actors. 

     

           Let’s hope McCain’s replacement will be a solid right winger who will support the Trump agenda.  That’s the kind of maverick we need.  8/26/18

                

     



    • SHAME ON FOX’S ED HENRY.  Usually a savvy commentator on Fox, last night Ed Henry made a fool of himself grilling the gorgeous Katrina Pierson about her knowledge of Trump having used the N-word as the traitorous Omerosa claimed.  I thought I was watching MSNBC.  As if the race card was not enough, he then pulled the gender card on her barking the question about whether it is ok to call a woman a dog, Trump’s reference to Omerosa for her recent criticisms of him.  Regarding the N-word, NO ONE CARES!  People may feign concern in public but privately they couldn’t care less. Knock it off! As to the dog reference, over time Trump used that term describing several white men, including Mitt Romney.  Why should women be exempt?  The term is not sexist at all.

             Perhaps Fox management ordered Henry to put on the act.  I’ve said in the past that Fox is DESPERATE to shake off the supposed sexist image it acquired         in the wake of the network’s many sexual harassment settlements.  The complete feminization of the Fox lineup that ensued is exhibit #1.  Ed Henry                     should stop grandstanding to the PC police or move back to CNN or on to MSNBC.  This is why for some time I have called for an alternative major                     conservative network that refuses to play these PC games.  I nominate Alex Jones as its signature host and suggest a prominent role there for Katrina                     Pierson.  8/15/18


    • KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE LEAVES FOX.  Sadly, beautiful Kimberly Guilfoyle left Fox News to join pro-Trump “America First PAC” as vice chairperson, no doubt to help the president’s reelection in 2020 .  At Fox she was an excellent spokesperson for the conservative cause.  But she also contributed aesthetics with her great gams and one of the better racks in cable news, especially during the summer cleavage season.  (Take that #MeToo!)  She’ll be sorely missed.

      Some speculate she wants to capitalize on her friendship with President Trump and new courtship with ten years younger Don Jr. to start a new career in politics.  But I don’t think that’s her only aspiration.  I bet she’s angling for half of her beux’s eventual inheritance through a marriage and divorce.  She’s a very savvy chick.  Message to Don Jr.:  Watch your wallet.  7/28/18

    • THE DIVERSITY AGENDA IS DESIGNED TO DESTROY AMERICA.  For years the left has been pushing diversity as a way of balkanizing America, ultimately to destroy it as we know it by transforming the demographics of the country.  The most ostensible tactic has been affirmative action which pervades the workplace, academia, housing and society at large.  This policy has underpinnings in the law, as well as social acquiescence as a result of an intimidating imposition of political correctness.  


            Another way of diversifying America has been through lax immigration enforcement, especially in recent years.  In the Obama administration, border patrol         officers were ordered to catch and release illegal aliens, and at one point told not to come to work.  Now the left promotes complete disregard for                 immigration law in the designation of sanctuary cities and states while increasingly calling for open borders, and even the abolition of Immigration and Customs         Enforcement (ICE).  Of course, the ultimate objective is to secure the votes of these immigrants when they eventually acquire voting rights.  They                         undoubtedly will overwhelmingly support liberal big government policies that will doom America.

     

            The diversity agenda has long infected education where American exceptionalism is now heresy.  Accordingly, the left has suppressed the teaching of                 Western civilization, eliminated American history and civics in many schools, and generally dumbed down curricula and performance standards.  A most             disturbing revelation was disclosed on the Laura Ingraham program last night by Dean Cheng of The Heritage Foundation.  Astonishingly, in response to             Ingraham’s comment that American students are not choosing STEM curricula, Mr. Cheng indicated it was by design.  He said that college professors are             telling their white students that mathematics is “… about grievance, whiteness … and oppression” and they thus discourage this course of study for them.              Hear his comment starting at 46:13 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27AiHx8jzjY  As a consequence, Asians dominate this discipline and other                 STEM concentrations in the colleges, rendering whites marginalized as to satisfying the increasing demands for highly technical and technological skills.              This deliberate surrendering of STEM education to Asians to the near exclusion of whites is aimed at establishing minorities at higher social levels and                 lowering the economic status of the current majority to ensure the demise of traditional America.    

     

            The ultimate way of transforming the demographics of America is through interracial breeding, and the left is in high gear promoting it.  Consider the many         racially mixed couples appearing in ads today ostensibly as mates, not dates.  Of course, this is no accident.  The left now overtly encourages interracial                 propagation by making it appear commonplace.  Interracial unions that evolve organically in the spontaneous course of human interaction and natural                 selection are one thing.  But proactive mass promotion of same by grossly exaggerating the practice for the purpose of de-whiting the population is quite             another.

     

            The American people have set the stage for the ongoing browning of America by caving to the corrosive political correctness that has spawned it.  In the             end this cowardice will make the U.S. a genetically debased third-world country, before ultimately subsuming into a borderless, one-world amalgam of                 mostly impoverished inhabitants with a few elites at the top.  Karl Marx is alive and well.  7/26/18


    Miscellaneous Thoughts Posted to Linked In Between October and December 2018

               

    By William J. Dodwell

    • #MeToo QUASHES SEXUAL REALITY IN THE WORKPLACE.  The recent Google employee walkout in protest of sexual harassment is testament to the groupthink and naivete of the movement’s sycophants.  Even the CEO publicly embraced the event, although intimidated workers would not speak with reporters.  Never is sexual harassment defined, and the woman is always to be believed.  It would seem that any overture is off limits, and a mere allegation is enough to banish an accused.  In fact, the Google CEO announced that no payments will be made to anyone named in a sexual harassment claim.  What a travesty!
                The nouveau puritanism imposed by #MeToo denies the natural sexual dynamics of the workplace. Indeed, what was normal male pursuit is now                         considered sexual harassment.  As such, the new mores leave little room for starting relationships.  The fact since time immemorial is that women want                 and expect to be wooed, especially if still disposed while the biological clock winds down.  Oftentimes the workplace is the only venue available to                     them, and men, as time constraints and circumstance preclude alternatives.  But for the #MeToo crowd emasculating men to empower women is more                 important.


    Historically, women rely on the workplace to meet men in the hope of marriage, children, and yes, sexual recreation.  Middle age women can’t go to clubs anymore.  And they may not be interested in adoption, surrogacy, childlessness or maidenhood.  Men instinctively initiate the interactive process that accommodates women’s desires.  Perhaps, it’s a prolonged gaze, an innocuous touch, mutually furtive knee contact under a conference table, or a slightly salacious double entendre with a smile.  This is not sexual harassment.  It’s flirting.  It’s sexual reality in the workplace.  Indeed, it’s life.  So, get out of the way #MeToo!


    When a few men and women work in close proximity for an extended time, such as a temporary office at an offsite function, sparks will fly.  Many men would eventually make a pass at a woman in that circumstance.  And many women would be disappointed if they didn’t.  But #MeToo makes that quite dangerous today. 

    I know of one man’s experience that is instructive as a microcosm of sexual reality in the workplace.  On three separate occasions in different years, he cautiously indicated sexual interest in a woman colleague.  In each case, she appeared with a plunging neckline the next day exposing abundant cleavage.  The message was clear:  You started it, so you complete it.  Today, such a scenario might prompt a woman to cash in through a frivolous sexual harassment lawsuit.


    #MeToo deprives women of important emotional experience because of its taboo against sexual expression in the workplace, as it deters many men from behaving normally as women would expect.  The movement is supposed to benefit women.  But in reality it probably makes many of them quite unhappy.

     See my manifesto, “War On MeToo:  The Real Story About Sexual Harassment” at https://sites.google.com/site/thecomprehensiveconservative/culture/current-commentary

    11/6/18

    • A PERSONAL APPEAL TO SAVE THE NATION.  Vote Republican on November 6th.  Turnout is vital! It’s all been said but the following cannot be repeated enough. 
      • This election is mainly about keeping Democrats out so Republicans can retain control of the House and Senate.  But it’s also about increasing those majorities to facilitate passing Trump’s agenda.  Undesirable Republicans can be dealt with later.

      •  A Democratic House or Senate would undo the economic prosperity enjoyed since Trump’s election as business and consumer confidence wane and the left thwarts Trump’s reforms.  

      • The Democrats would raise taxes and abandon all immigration controls as they lead key committees that control the legislative process.

      • Democrats have lurched radically to the left in their dedication to making America a socialist nation on the order of Europe.  They are globalists.

      • Remember the corrupted Kavanaugh hearings, the caravans, and sanctuary cities all of which have shown the Democrats’ true colors.  Democrats support unbridled illegal immigration ultimately to create legions of new voters, the vast majority of whom will certainly vote Democratic if citizenship is eventually granted.  They don’t care a whit about the effect of waves of impoverished migrants and the many criminals among them.  11/5/18

    • THE NEW FOX NEWS:  ALL CHICKS ALL THE TIME.  Ever since Fox News settled several sexual harassment lawsuits last year it has flooded the zone with female anchors, contributors and panelists in desperate atonement for its supposed sins.  The news set now rivals the Rockettes conga line at Radio City Music Hall across the street from its New York City offices often appearing in the background.  What’s next, the Menstrual Minstrels?  It’s not that the women on the air aren’t whip smart and competent.  It’s a cultural thing.  There’s little testosterone left there.  Since men rule the world they are best suited to report on it, and probably constitute the bulk of the audience.

            Here are some hypothetical substitutions that would improve the already good ratings.  Retain Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, Brit Hume, Mark Levin and Brian         Kilmeade, and add Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Mark Steyn, Bill O’Reilly, and Alex Jones.  Want gender balance?  Keep Jean Pirro, the hottest chick         in cable news, and give Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin their own shows.  As to the other Foxettes, send them to Naked News.  I’ll gladly watch them                 over there.  (Take that #MeToo!)  10/31/18
    • TRUMP IS WRONG ABOUT INTEREST RATES.  The president has been quite vocal about his opposition to the Fed raising short-term interest rates, even calling into question the wisdom of his appointing Jerome Powell as chairman.  This concern no doubt stems from Trump’s historical sensitivity to interest rates as a real estate developer heavily dependent on borrowing.  But now he should concern himself with the entire economy and the need to normalize interest rates long suppressed by monetary stimulus following the financial crisis.  It is time to get off the medication and end the artificial comfort. (I was a lone wolf calling for rate normalization in my writings over five years ago.) 
            To stimulate the economy after the financial crisis the Fed kept short-term rates near zero for ten years.  It also tried to suppress long-term rates artificially             to stimulate consumption and investment.  This was achieved through two years of quantitative easing by which it purchased over $3 trillion dollars of                 Treasury and mortgage bonds, the proceeds of which flooded the financial system with liquidity.  As a result of the low rates, investors sought higher                     returns in risky financial assets such as stocks, exotic bonds and private-equity. 


    Barring an impending recession, it is long past the time to normalize artificially low rates to redirect capital away from the inflated financial economy and back to traditional bank loans, savings accounts, C/Ds and corporate bonds that finance the real economy of goods and services, as well as to compensate ordinary savers again.  That has started to happen in response to the Fed’s rate hikes.  For example, safe bank C/Ds now fetch about 3%, enough to compete with volatile stocks, which recently have declined substantially.  But eventually, the Fed also has to unwind its $4 trillion-dollar balance sheet bloated by its aforementioned bond purchases.  This will almost inevitably raise long-term rates as capital is withdrawn from the financial system to buy the bonds the Fed is selling.  The Fed’s need to liquidate such a massive bond portfolio distinguishes today’s monetary circumstance from any in the past.


    Why normalize interest rates while the economy is doing fine with 2% inflation, 3.6% unemployment, around 4% GDP growth, a 2.25% Fed benchmark rate, and a still relatively low 10-year Treasury bond yielding a little over 3 %?  Because the Fed thinks the economy is flirting with overheating having reached its long-awaited 2% target inflation rate, the central bank wants to nip potential inflation in the bud.  To that end, the Fed seeks an equilibrium rate that is neither stimulative nor restrictive.  But some argue there is still enough slack in a possibly structurally changed economy not to warrant more rate hikes yet, as unemployment has uncharacteristically declined in the face of rising interest rates.  Indeed, for the first time on record, available jobs substantially exceed job seekers this year.


    However, recent growth is primarily a result of Trump’s tax cut and deregulation that have generated new private capital in the place of banks, as well as the capital markets that have been distorted by a yield-chasing escape from low interest rates.  Eventually, the economy will need that diverted capital to support production and consumption for continued growth as the effects of lower taxes and deregulation abate.  That means raising rates to make traditional saving and investment in traditional bank C/Ds, money market accounts, bank loans and investment-grade corporate bonds attractive enough again to fund the production and consumption of goods and services.  Otherwise, that capital will continue to be locked up in the financial economy in the form of stocks and bonds.  Current economic conditions probably call for short-term rates in the 4% range and a 10-year Treasury at about 5.5%.  Mr. President, brace yourself.  10/30/18


    • #MeToo IS REELING.  The movement has not only suffered from the behavior of its advocates in the Brett Kavanaugh hearings and from the lies of Harvey Weinstein accusers exposed in his trial.  Its credibility diminishes every day as more women bemoan its politicization and the risk it poses for their male loved ones.  In addition, more and more realize that the movement doesn’t speak for women any more than NOW has.  Rather, it is largely promoted by bull dykes whose worst nightmare is to be touched by a man, even as an innocent “grope”.  These women are motivated by their man hatred, not the genuine abuse of women.  

       

      Here is an excerpt from my manifesto, “War On #MeToo:  The Real Story About Sexual Harassment” available at https://sites.google.com/site/thecomprehensiveconservative/culture/current-commentary

      “What role does the proverbial man-hating lesbian play in the filing of frivolous and false sexual harassment claims?  Is #MeToo a subrosa manifestation of the LGBT community?  Does #MeToo plan to emulate the activism and thuggery the gay mafia displays in its promotion of same-sex marriage and other demands?  Perhaps when #MeToo’s real identity and motives become apparent, women will realize that the movement might not speak for the majority of them any more than NOW has all these years.  No offense to lesbians.”  10/24/18

    • BEWARE THE DEMOCRAT LIE ABOUT HEALTH CARE PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS. Since health care is currently the number one issue among voters according to polls, it is important to challenge the incessant Democrat mantra about GOP support for excluding pre-existing conditions in health insurance policies. The fact is every Republican proposal covers them and not a single Republican official objects, including the president. Of course, the left knows this but it shamelessly lies to scare many fearful citizens into voting Democratic on this basis next month. Without constant rebuttal everywhere, this lie could do serious damage to Republican candidates. It must be forcefully and persistently challenged on cable television panel discussions, Republican advertising, public debates, social media and grass roots political conversations. 10/23/18
    • THE KHASHOGGI HOOPLA IS ABOUT GLORIFYING JOURNALISTS.  Would we hear about this case so much if the victim were not a journalist?  Or a journalist working for a conservative publication instead of The Washington Post?  This is largely about media glorifying their own by portraying journalists as sacrosanct.  10/22/18
    • HARVEY WEINSTEIN PROSECUTON FALTERS.  The #MeToo movement may get another black eye to add to its embarrassment in the Kavanaugh hearings.  The rape trial of Harvey Weinstein, the supposed universal symbol of sexual misconduct and catalyst for the crusade, has exposed some inconvenient truths.  As it happens two of the accusers engaged in consensual, not coercive, sex with Weinstein according to revelations and an email.  In addition, the judge dismissed a leading figure of the prosecution for withholding exculpatory evidence that discredits an accuser.  With that, the leading Assistant DA resigned just before she reached a 20-year tenure that would qualify her for a pension.  Then a second Assistant DA quit. 


            It’s funny what comes to light when sexual harassment cases go to trial where plaintiff lies are exposed and the rule of law is applied.  That’s why only             25% of sexual misconduct cases go to court and only 5% of those result in conviction.  The #MeToo modus operandi capitalizes on the reluctance of both     the accuser and defendant to bear the cost and humiliation of trial by forcing lucrative settlements that sustain false and frivolous charges.  They also             encourage more phony accusations that collectively create the inaccurate impression of massive injustice against women.  10/22/18
          • FEMINIST PROTESTORS UNDERMINE THE QUEST FOR WOMEN’S EQUALITY.  The behavior of Kavanaugh protestors in the Senate hearing room, outside the Supreme Court, in elevator cages and elsewhere really makes women look bad.  These screeching hysterical broads are unbearable, many with crewcuts and buzzcuts that typify what one might expect in this lot.  Their fragility, self-pity and irrationality don’t inspire support for women’s equality.  On the contrary, they remind us of why women have always been subordinate.  They must be an embarrassment to the many level-headed conforming women who contribute so much.  From a man’s perspective, these demonstrations, coupled with the fraud and injustice of the #MeToo movement, reinforce the affinity for the proverbial old boys network.  Considering it is still a man’s world, all this ruckus moves women several steps backward.  It does more to send them to the unemployment line than to the board room.  10/12/18


          • #MeToo IN DAMAGE CONTROL MODE.  In the wake of the black eye resulting from the Kavanaugh imbroglio, #MeToo runs for cover.  The new mantra is to remind the world that men who make accusations about sexual misconduct also should be listened to.  Witness recent statements by Kamala Harris and Melania Trump, just to name a couple.  So now that the movement acknowledges that men may also file phony charges of sexual assault everything is supposed to be fine.  No consolation here.  Only an infinitesimal percentage of sexual charges are filed by men against women.  After all, what red blooded straight American male would complain about sexual aggression from a women?  Is this concession aimed at same-sex offenses?  In any case, nothing mitigates the gross injustices of so many he said/she said disputes that have defined the movement.  10/11/18    
           

          - Rally grass roots support for a non-violent insurgency using “War on MeToo” T-shirts, hats, buttons and bumper stickers. Feature man/woman couples arm-in-arm wearing the gear.

           

          - Fire suspected troublemakers before they sue for sexual harassment. An employer is legally free to terminate an employee for any reason other than discrimination, barring specific contract proscriptions. Therefore, the employer must ensure that the termination does not appear to be retaliation for an anticipated sexual harassment claim. State of the art surveillance technology is available that could surreptitiously monitor employees to detect brewing sexual harassment lawsuits. For example, employers increasingly use sensors to track working performance, communications, and customer service. 10/10/18

          • #MeToo IS ON THE ROPES. GO FOR THE KNOCKOUT.  Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation is a huge battle victory in the war against #MeToo as the movement’s undue influence in the senate hearing backfired.  Now is the time to leverage a public awakening about #MeToo abuses in the effort to slay this beast.  The new calls for due process involving an initial presumption of innocence and appropriate evidentiary standards for the accused must be adopted in the workplace where so many are targets of false or exaggerated allegations of sexual misconduct.  The automatic credibility of the accuser must end.  Henceforth, Kavanaugh’s name should be invoked as a caveat to every sexual harassment accusation.  

          For background information about the movement and inspiration for defeating it, see my manifesto, “War On #MeToo:  The Real Story About Sexual Harassment” at https://sites.google.com/site/thecomprehensiveconservative/culture/current-commentary






          (It was published two weeks before Christine Blasey Ford came forward.)  10/9/18

                      Here’s another excerpt from the paper under the heading “What hath #MeToo wrought?”


          “The new paradigm is a godsend for feminists, particularly the man-hating lesbians among them that give the movement impetus.  #MeToo also invites the pursuit of potentially lucrative paydays for the litigious and their lawyers, and provides an outlet for personal vengeance against work colleagues.  Now employers face potential liability amid new workplace conventions that negate natural male tendencies toward women.  Indeed, today companies hire women at their own peril.”


          As in any war, collateral damage is inevitable. As such, talented, productive women may be caught in the cross fire, even some who may run rings around their male counterparts.  But just as war is the price of national security, it is also the price of national justice.    10/3/18


          • #MeToo EXPOSED.  The #MeToo mentality was on display for all the nation in the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings.  The Democrats and their operatives demonstrated how the movement leverages the feminist agenda for larger political purposes.  Indeed, its credo has been exposed:  Defend the accuser and vilify the accused regardless of exculpatory evidence, and perpetrate lies, concealment, and any dirty trick toward that end.  Now for the first time, commentators are defending the generic accused.  Let’s see if this change of heart extends to the countless cases involving companies and other settings where so many defendants faced gross injustice.

                      The confirmation spectacle makes my anti-#MeToo manifesto all the more compelling.  See the complete paper at     https://sites.google.com/site/thecomprehensiveconservative/culture/current-commentary 


          10/2/18




          • KAVANAUGH CONFIRMATION HEARINGS:  CROOKED LAWYERS, COWARDLY SENATORS AND AN ECLIPSE OF JUSTICE

                      Christine Blasey Ford


          Ever since Christine Blasey Ford came forward she has been coddled ad nauseum by the Republicans and, of course, the Democrats.  This includes the Republican senators on the committee, Brett Kavanaugh himself, the interrogator for the Republicans, Rachel Mitchell, and even the president.  Indeed, the Republicans have been loath to criticize Ms. Ford at all out of fear of appearing to bully her and thus alienate women against confirmation in the court of public opinion, and as voters in the midterm elections.  As such, Senate Judiciary Committee leader, Senator Grassley, bent over backwards to accommodate Ms. Ford’s conditions for testifying, except for an unprecedented demand that the accused appear for questioning first.  Meanwhile, the Democrats on the committee and Ford’s lawyers subvert the process through delay tactics in the hope of extending the process to the November elections and thus end Kavanaugh’s nomination.

           

          Under questioning, Ms. Ford appeared weak and childish, but nonetheless credible.  In fact, many say she seemed somewhat imbalanced.  Besides her odd demeanor before the committee, her statements about her state of mind, supposedly attributed to Kavanaugh’s alleged attack, are telling.  One example concerns her paranoia in installing a second front door on her house against her husband’s adamant objection.  In addition, some speculate that hypnosis administered during a session with her therapist might have created a false memory involving Kavanaugh.  Would any Republican suggest that she submit to a psychiatric examination that might call into question her wholly unsubstantiated claims about the incident in question in the face of Kavanaugh’s categorical denials?  After all, Democrats cite Kavanaugh’s alleged vulnerability to blacking out during drinking as a taint on the veracity of his firm denials.  Of course, Republicans would not dare challenge Ms. Ford.

           

          Her lawyers

           

          As mentioned, the Democrat game plan is to delay the process past the midterm elections.  This affords the possibility of snuffing out Kavanaugh’s candidacy, as well as any other conservative nominee, through a newly elected Democrat Senate majority in January. (A confirmation during the lame duck session is very unlikely.)  That Democrat majority could further diminish the prospect of a conservative nominee by keeping the vacancy unfilled until a possible Democrat presidential victory in 2020. 

           

          To that end, Ms. Ford’s lawyers, recommended to her by Senator Feinstein in a most unorthodox intervention, have been quite instrumental.  They stalled Ms. Ford’s appearance in Washington for ten days while insisting on outlandish demands and lying about her fear of flying.  As to the latter, her lawyers withheld from her Senator Grassley’s offer to fly a representative to her home in California for the questioning.  Her counsel also refused to present Ms. Ford’s medical records of the alleged assault.  And, those lawyers did not present to the committee the complete notes of Ms. Ford’s therapist concerning a 2012 session.  Ms. Ford says she mentioned the incident to the therapist then, but admits that Kavanaugh’s name did not appear in the notes.  One has to wonder whether these lawyers are the culprits who leaked to the Washington Post Ms. Ford’s letter she sent to Feinstein, thus denying her the privacy she coveted by thrusting her into the public spotlight for purely political purposes.

           

          Committee senators

           

          No Republican on the committee questioned the dishonesty of Ms. Ford’s lawyers in trying to delay the process, because by extension that would impugn Ms. Ford.  Might that restraint also be out of some perverse sense of professional courtesy to fellow lawyers?  Rather than confront Ms. Ford and invite accusations of bullying, the all-male Republican majority on the committee hired a female prosecutor to interrogate her, while those members remained totally silent.  What cowardice.  The search for truth should transcend political optics, which were exaggerated anyway. 

           

          Most reprehensively, Democrat Senator Feinstein concealed from the committee Ms. Ford’s letter to her about Kavanaugh’s alleged offense for some six weeks, raising the issue just before a committee vote on confirmation was to be taken.  This was the most egregious delay tactic.  It forced additional hearings and another FBI inquiry that could have occurred much earlier.  Now the current one-week FBI investigation of allegations against Kavanaugh could raise additional implausible or bogus allegations in an extended probe that could run out the clock on the confirmation process. 

           

          Committee Democrats and Ms. Ford’s lawyers subverted the process through corruption and character assassination amid the total absence of evidence supporting the complainant.  And Republicans lacked the courage to call foul on the lawyers’ dishonesty and were too timid to effectively challenge the accuser.  In an eleventh hour flourish Senator Lindsey Graham forcefully denounced the attacks on Kavanaugh to good effect.  But it was not nearly enough.  As many have said, if these hearings are prologue, justice in America is seriously endangered.  10/1/18



          CULTURE


          WAR ON #MeToo:  THE REAL STORY ABOUT SEXUAL HARASSMENT

           

          By William J. Dodwell

          September 3, 2018

           

          Table of Contents

           

          The problem

           

          What hath #MeToo wrought?

           

          The birth of #MeToo

           

          #MeToo in the context of women’s history

           

                      Cultural secularization

                      Women’s equality

                      The lesbian factor

                      The turnaround

           

          Sexual harassment defined by law

           

          De facto sexual harassment

           

          Suggested guidelines for assessing sexual harassment

           

                      What is a reasonable grievance?

                      What is NOT a reasonable grievance?

           

          Sample cases

           

                      The dynamics of sexual harassment claims

                      Parallels in racial disparagement cases

           

          The counterattack

           

                      Considerations

                      Tactics

           

          The bottom line

           

           

            WAR ON #MeToo:  The Real Story About Sexual Harassment

           

          By William J. Dodwell September 3, 2018

           

                      In the last year, the #MeToo movement has provoked an outpouring of sexual harassment accusations in the workplace that has created undue hardship for legions of underserving accused, and general discomfort for many male workers.  Opportunistic women file sexual harassment claims throughout corporate America as they exploit new public attitudes stoked by the left in its obsession with identity politics.  The latest incarnation of this thinking recently arose from a number of high profile sexual misconduct allegations involving celebrities in the news and entertainment industries.  Indeed, the ensuing bandwagon effect prompted by all media has encouraged some legitimate claims previously withheld out of fear of retaliation by the accused and his employer.  But this new inclination for filing complaints also has yielded innumerable accusations and punishments likely founded on relatively minor misbehavior not supported by applicable law.  Then #MeToo demonizes those accused through the media to garner support for the feminist cause.  As a result, the movement now has such momentum that it goes virtually unchallenged, even by conservatives. 

           

          Herewith, a manifesto and a call for resistance.  To be sure, it is not a war on women, but rather combat against abusive gender politics.

           

          The problem

           

                      Sexual harassment law on its face appears quite punitive, even draconian.  But according to Lex Machina, a legal analytics company, the defendant prevails in 95% of court cases, suggesting that few claims pass muster on the legal merits.  Because of this track record, there is a move among liberals to amend the law to make it more accommodating to plaintiffs.  What’s more, 75% of cases settle.  This shows that claimants avoid trial because of the slim chance of winning, but also because of the cost and unwanted publicity of a trial.  Defendants and their employers shun trial for the same reasons, despite an excellent chance of winning.   As a consequence, many accused unfairly lose jobs and more for behavior that may be risque´, but within the bounds of the law, just because skittish employers fear a media backlash from sexual misconduct charges.  Something is wrong with this picture.

           

          The #MeToo movement encourages claimants to exploit the vast grey area between claims that hold up under the law when tested in trial, and those subject to a much lower ambiguous threshold in a settlement case.  In so doing, #MeToo sensationalizes cases through the media to become a propaganda force of the feminist left.  It is safe to say women in the workforce are more litigious than men, as they are often quicker to sue over perceived discrimination.  Many such unheralded frivolous workplace cases commonly settle for as little as $20,000 without public knowledge.  However, the media often promote female claims against high profile figures, giving the accuser more leverage in settlement negotiations.  Fearing political fallout, employers terminate accused men for mere allegations without due process, other than perhaps a perfunctory internal investigation to cover themselves.  Many company defendants settle to the detriment of the accused employee just to cut their losses and avoid reputational damage, and accusers know it.  Justice is often lost in the process.

           

                      Apologists for accusers also claim they are denied due process.  As mentioned, this is because of the strictures of the law that minimize the chance of prevailing in court, as well as the prohibitive financial and emotional cost of a trial.  Many plaintiffs therefore choose to settle or remain quiet.  But in most cases they secure a significant settlement payment, sometimes extraordinarily unreasonable, typically in proportion to the depth of the defendant’s pockets.  

           

          In lieu of due process through the courts, complainants rely on #MeToo’s propagation of aggrieved women’s plights through an empathetic internet and general media delivered to a credulous public.  Some sympathizers support the movement out of ignorance or gender politics.  Others back it because of sincere concern about abuse and remedy.  But this alternative prosecution of sexual harassment substitutes for legal standards as to adversely affect the culture.  As such, the media delegitimize men’s sexuality in the workforce.  Can a man not make a pass at a woman anymore?  Or, even compliment a woman’s appearance?  Legally he can, but the new order looks askance at it, thus creating an unnatural walk-on-eggshells work environment.

           

                      On the other hand, some women worry about the effect of #MeToo influenced abuses on their spouses, family members and friends.  They also fear the backlash that can diminish their career prospects as men try to avoid working with them.  And, of course, the potentially litigious atmosphere dampens the likelihood of office romances.

           

                      Some claimants even invoke sexual misconduct of decades prior, which is ineligible for trial because of the relatively short statute of limitations (except for rape).  But many of those accusers come forward to vengefully inflict reputational damage at opportune times, such as elections, and to maximize a settlement.  Others receive payments from politically motivated instigators to go public with their stories.   The publicity that results bolsters the political stature of the #MeToo movement before a largely gullible public making it more feared.  This encourages more false or frivolous claims and precipitous firings. 

           

                     We now learn that declared victim and #MeToo leader, actress Asia Argento, is an alleged offender herself.  According to a fellow actor, in 2013 she sexually abused him in a hotel room at age 17 when she was 37.  In April 2018, six months after accusing Harvey Weinstein of rape in 1997, she paid her accuser $380,000 to keep quiet.  This does not disqualify her rape allegation, but her hypocrisy undermines the credibility of her accusation and calls into question the seriousness of the movement.  How many #MeToo advocates just hope to spread feminist propaganda, or perhaps cash in?  The left is quite concerned about this blow to the movement’s standing as the media have begun to shun Argento.

           

          This paper examines the abuses that affect many accused as they unfairly lose jobs, careers, reputations, marriages and savings.  Those excesses have created a guarded atmosphere wherever men and women commingle, especially in the workplace.  Throughout this exegesis, reference to the accuser and accused applies to both heterosexual and same-sex cases but this analysis assumes the typical “he said, she said” scenario.  The thesis is not a broad indictment of working women, most of whom are productive participants in the economy, many more so than men.  It is not about women’s equality.  Nor is it about legitimate claims of sexual misconduct.  Rather, this writing concerns the unchallenged injustices of capricious and false sexual harassment accusations.  It targets bad actors and their nefarious practices exercised in response to #MeToo influences. 

           

          In particular, focus centers on exaggerated, frivolous or false claims that disproportionately and unjustifiably punish the accused to the personal, political and economic advantage of the accuser.  Injustices include plaintiffs, induced by their rapacious lawyers, shaking down defendants for exorbitant sums in settlements.  Moreover, the paper advocates a counterattack for curbing the abuses.  Thus far, the fallout from the #MeToo movement has largely escaped scrutiny because of the corporate and personal costs of a trial defense, and the feared media, market and social responses facing those who resist.  In the place of court intervention, internet and media propaganda inspired by #MeToo activism promote a supposed crisis that fosters unreasonable settlements and blindly supportive public opinion.  In the name of justice, this has to stop.

           

          What hath #MeToo wrought?

           

          The #MeToo movement is primarily a campaign of the left to empower women by disempowering men in the latest play on identity politics.  But it also gets full support from the right out of fear of alienating women, a huge population that traverses all social, commercial and political constituencies.  The movement’s tactics have breached appropriate ethical standards as they vilify all manner of male behavior toward women to produce serious personal, employment and societal consequences for the accused.  Meanwhile, advocates try to shame men into supporting its agenda.  Sadly, they succeed.

           

          Injustices include a dearth of due process for the accused that allows plaintiffs to weaponize capricious and fabricated grievances with impunity.  Some accusations concern comments that arise from private conversations or internal conference calls.  And the #MeToo gestapo extends to speech outside the office, even to the home, sometimes resulting in domestic abuse charges.  The new paradigm is a godsend for feminists, particularly the man-hating lesbians among them that give the movement impetus.  #MeToo also invites the pursuit of potentially lucrative paydays for the litigious and their lawyers, and provides an outlet for personal vengeance against work colleagues.  Now employers face potential liability amid new workplace conventions that negate natural male tendencies toward women.  Indeed, today companies hire women at their own peril. 

           

          Firings based on unsubstantiated or innocuous accusations conveniently afford upward mobility for the many women who replace them in what they might consider poetic justice.  Office romances become problematic such that men might avoid female colleagues for fear of provoking an incident.  Even occupying an office alone with a woman can be risky.  Companies eliminate alcohol at special employee events to prevent incidents of sexual misconduct with all its potential consequences for the accused and his employer.  Although alleged offenses rarely hold up in court, they trigger terminations, damage control, apologia, and quick settlements to avoid media exposure.  On the college campus sexual consent contracts, facilitated by special apps, become a defense against allegations of assault.

           

          The birth of #MeToo                        

           

          Tarana Burke founded the #MeToo movement in 2006.  But it acquired a new urgency in 2017 in the wake of a spate of revelations about chronic sexual misconduct in the news and entertainment industries.  Today, the crusade strives to right those wrongs everywhere and prevent them from recurring by imbedding itself in the public consciousness as a force to reckon with.  Accordingly, the movement has achieved credibility and political momentum that pervade business and society, despite the injustices many accused men have suffered at its hands.  Having expanded beyond legitimate grievance and reasonable remedy, the movement has become yet another form of pernicious political correctness bolstered by extremely one-sided media coverage that is rarely challenged.  Be it women, blacks, gays or the transgendered, the left protects from criticism or negativity every political identity group it has created in expectation of its support at the ballot box.  To be sure, #MeToo is about advancing the broader feminist agenda, and has garnered considerable support even on the right.

           

                      Although #MeToo has expressed discontent over sexual harassment for some time, its latest manifestation was quite precipitous.  For many decades, risqué behavior by men in Hollywood toward women was de rigeur, including use of the casting couch for one hundred years.  Jokes about their predations abounded, even among women, while authorities looked the other way to protect their lucrative star system.  Women felt compelled to comply with the culture to protect their careers.  In some cases, women were paid to remain silent about their experiences with the sybarites in their midst.  Finally, last year actress Rose McGowan broke ranks and blew the whistle about having been raped by one particularly lecherous movie mogul, Harvey Weinstein, who became the catalyst for the movement’s revival.  One by one, other women followed suit with their stories in a me-too fashion consistent with the spirit of the popular moniker.

           

          With gender politics already at a fever’s pitch, #MeToo advocates and the media seized upon the many new accusations as an opportunity to galvanize women in a new cause celebre mobilized through the internet.  In the process, Hollywood declared an epiphany renouncing its hedonist past and adopted its own slogan, “Time’s up” reconciling itself with the current righteous position of the left.  The liberal media, which for years overlooked the sexual exploits of their darling, President Bill Clinton, suddenly denounced his behavior in order to have moral authority in promoting the latest cri de coeur.  The new ethos then invaded corporate America where supposedly similar improprieties were long overlooked, ushering in a transformation in workplace gender relations as sexual harassment took on greater dimensions.

           

          #MeToo in the context of women’s history

           

          Cultural secularization

           

                      Since the 1960s many cultural and political forces have changed the social role of women and men’s attitudes toward them.  Women now comprise half the workforce and occupy many positions of importance.  Time was when some men scoffed at the notion of a woman as President of the United States because of her monthly menstrual cycle and associated mood swings and irrationality.  Today, chivalry is dead.  In fact, many women are insulted if a man holds a door for them.  The fair sex used to be protected, but now their new mores and economic status nullify much traditional deference in favor of a cultural level playing field.  Prompted by the legal availability of birth control and abortion in the ‘60s and 70s, the sexual revolution legitimized casual sex and the ensuing hook up culture, heavily promoted in movies and television as a leftist attack on traditional values.  Combined with ubiquitous pornography, which Hollywood tries to de-stigmatize and mainstream so it may capture a huge new market sector, this permissiveness brought about a highly sexualized culture that probably has made men more aggressive and less restrained in their relations with women.  The #MeToo movement is a backlash to this development.  But it is also a contradiction inasmuch as the secular culture continues to thrive without much objection among women.

           

          Women’s equality

           

                      The feminist movement fought for women’s equality.  That quest encouraged women to be like men even in the sexual realm such that promiscuity and vulgarity became commonplace among them.  Women dress like men.  Some feminists believe men are not necessary in their lives, given economic independence and in utero conception.  And certain women shun serious relationships to avoid submitting to male power.  Eventually, stripping became legitimate work, and prostitution as a means of financing college is almost acceptable.  Female comedians glorify women’s newfound sexual freedom in their acts.  In addition, the misogynist activities long featured on Howard Stern’s show found little opposition among women, including prominent female figures in media, entertainment and politics who appeared as guests.  Some years ago in New York City, and perhaps elsewhere, it became fashionable for women to walk in the streets with their breasts almost completely exposed in the summer on their way to and from work, seemingly desperate for men’s sexual attention, which inevitably followed

           

                      Meanwhile, feminists vengefully assert equality with men in hiring, promotion and compensation with considerable success.  Purportedly, employers hired, and spared from layoff, disproportionately more women during the 2008 financial crisis, such that the period was dubbed the “mancession”.  And employers give women substantial preference in hiring in certain sectors, such as local government work and medical administration.  In an added effort to disempower men, leftist media emasculate them in commercials and television portraying them as weak, unmanly figures in their relationships with women as mates and work colleagues.  In addition, women teachers, who dominate primary education, impose gender neutrality in grammar school activities at the behest of leftist administrative officials.  They also purportedly give boys less academic attention, figuring that girls deserve priority to help them overcome their historical underdog status in adulthood.  Is it coincidence women constitute some 60% of college enrollees, and in recent years attain degrees at a substantially higher rate than men?

           

                      Yet, women still enjoy some protections as the fair sex.  Absurdly, political candidates have to restrain their criticism of female opponents in public debates lest they appear to be bullying women.  Republicans anticipated that advantage for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign, but happily, Donald Trump did not oblige.  A similar protocol exists in the workforce.  Foolishly, men universally acquiesce to the #MeToo movement as sacrosanct, thus assuring greater empowerment and injustice.  Criticizing the movement is an ultimate act of political incorrectness.  Those that do could lose their jobs.  As a result, the public seems to be convinced that pervasive genuine sexual misconduct occurs, as women’s allegations, prompted by the movement, go uncontested in media, the workplace and on Main Street.

           

          The lesbian factor

           

          Some of the behavioral changes among women over time reflect the historical impact of lesbians in the feminist movement.  This raises the question as to what extent they influence the #MeToo crusade.  Is #MeToo politically affiliated with the National Organization of Woman (NOW) which has a history of lesbian activism and leadership? By comparison, Rose McGowan, the most prominent face of the current #MeToo movement, is a seeming lesbian, judging by some interview comments and her crew cut, and whose partner, Rain Dove, is a transgendered female.  Both movements would seem to embrace a certain perverse separation from heterosexual men. 

           

          What role does the proverbial man-hating lesbian play in the filing of frivolous and false sexual harassment claims?  Is #MeToo a subrosa manifestation of the LGBT community?  Does #MeToo plan to emulate the activism and thuggery the gay mafia displays in its promotion of same-sex marriage and other demands?  Perhaps when #MeToo’s real identity and motives become apparent, women will realize that the movement might not speak for the majority of them any more than NOW has all these years.  No offense to lesbians.

           

          The turnaround

           

                      Then a turnaround emerged as identity politics changed direction toward a new puritanism.  The left created the date rape hoax resulting in grossly unfair accusations without due process levied on college men often at great expense, including their career prospects.  Seizing on the political climate against injustices inflicted on women, as well as against racial inequities, an overzealous prosecutor charged several white Duke University lacrosse players of rape based on what turned out to be false testimony by the black plaintiffs.  The media hyped the alleged guilt of the defendants right to the end.  Although acquitted, the families of the accused suffered great financial loss.  But, happily, the prosecutor was removed and disbarred. 

           

          In other developments, Sports Illustrated discontinued its iconic and lucrative annual swimsuit issue.  The Miss America pageant recently dropped the traditional swimsuit competition at the behest of former Miss America and current board member, Gretchen Carlson, who won a $20 million sexual harassment settlement against Fox News.  Classic paintings featuring female nudes, including some works of Picasso, are under reconsideration for display in some quarters.  In addition, now movie makers hire an “Intimacy Director” for nude and sex scenes to ensure the actresses are appropriately respected.

           

                      And so it goes.  The culture transitioned from prudishness to permissiveness and back to what some Europeans call a Victorian order in the #MeToo movement.  But at bottom, the current phase is really about power and money accruing to women in political, economic and social circumstances through male deferral to them and greater legal recourse through settlements.  It is up to the courts to uphold truth and justice in protection of the accused, as well as the accuser.  But some judges and juries might be too politicized to expect fairness.  Today, legal funtionaries could be unduly influenced by #MeToo.  Nonetheless, sexual harassment defendants ought to insist on trial over settlement much more often to expose the injustice of many claims against them.  And the onus lies with the people to speak out in all settings about the excesses of the movement in a call for a formal resistance.

                                                                                                                                    

          Sexual harassment defined by law

           

                      Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 defines sexual harassment as a form of employment discrimination.  The statutes apply to all employers with 15 or more employees, they pertain to any gender combination of victim and harasser, and they impose only civil liability for wrongdoing. The statute of limitations for filing a claim generally ranges from six months to a year, depending on the state; three years in New York.  Here are some of the law’s proscriptions according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

           

          It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee)

          because of that person’s sex.  Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for

          sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of

          a sexual nature.

           

          … it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive

          comments about women in general.

           

          Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand

          comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious,

          harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that

          it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it

          results in an adverse employment decision (such as the

          victim being fired or demoted).

           

          It is helpful for the victim to inform the harasser directly

          that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop.  The victim

          should use any employer complaint mechanism or grievance system available.

           

          Harassment becomes unlawful where … the conduct is

          severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment

          that a reasonable person would consider intimidating,

          hostile, or abusive.

           

                      As mentioned, mainly because allegations are difficult to prove in a “he said, she said” confrontation, case law shows that very few sexual harassment claims satisfy legal criteria.  Also, the Supreme Court ruled that an offense has to be severe enough to create “an abusive work environment”.  That can be difficult to define.  True justice calls for employers to defend themselves in court rather than settle most sexual harassment claims.  In that case, most plaintiffs likely will withdraw their lawsuits.  But Laura Beth Nielson, a sociology professor at Northwestern University, a research professor at the American Bar Foundation, and co-author of “Rights on Trial” about employment discrimination law, writes about the daunting experience a claimant experiences when taking a case to court.  Rob Walker discusses her thoughts in his 8/5/18 New York Times article entitled, “ ‘You Do Not Have the Right to a Fair Workplace’ “.

           

                                  Even if you believe you are a victim of illegal discrimination,

           legal action is no easy road.  This is the focus of Ms. Nielsen’s

           studies, and her conclusions aren’t exactly uplifting. 

          Discrimination can be hard to prove, and companies have

          far greater resources than most employees.        

           

          Even workers who win their cases often feel dissatisfied: 

          Maybe they expected a bigger monetary award, or maybe

          all they really wanted was to get their old job back and return

          to “normal” which in the wake of a lengthy legal fight is most likely impossible.

           

                      Despite the seemingly harsh language of the law, a 95% exoneration rate for defendants behooves them to fight their case in court, notwithstanding the costs and hardship.  By corollary, sexual harassment claimants do not rely much on the law.  Rather, they and their concoctive lawyers exploit the ambiguity of legal, but perhaps inappropriate, misconduct to force lucrative settlements, compensation that could not be expected through a trial.  The #MeToo movement capitalizes on that vast grey area between illegal and just inappropriate sexual conduct to produce a cultural sea change that establishes a new behavioral standard not supported by statute.  That model becomes a substitute for the law and effectively gives women leverage in exacting monetary compensation in settlement negotiations, while generally empowering themselves writ large through their victories.

           

          De facto sexual harassment

           

          The abuses of the #MeToo movement rest on what constitutes sexual harassment according to the new politically correct behavioral code.  Thus far, the left with its megaphone in the media has been allowed to define what is offensive, while everyone acquiesces.  In so doing, the behavioral standard has become so restrictive as to overly accommodate women and imperil men, consistent with the movement’s political goal.  Sexual harassment is a matter of degree, which within certain parameters is misclassified and should be considered innocuous, if not always appropriate.  Too many offenses are called assault when they do not really satisfy that definition.  When behavior is reprehensible, sanctions should fit the offense so the baby does not go out with the bath water.

           

                      Betsy McCaughey, Ph.D., and former Lt. Governor of New York capsulizes the issue in an article entitled, “Sex Vigilantes Trash Due Process”, that appeared in the New York Post on December 13, 2017:

           

                                  Men accused of boorish gestures or vulgar remarks face

          the same disgrace as outright rapists.  And never mind if the

          accusations lack proof and the accusers remain anonymous.

           

                      Sexual harassment holds women back.  Good riddance to it. 

          But in the zeal to right that wrong and to preen as defenders

          of women, politicians are trampling American values –

          due process, the presumption of innocence and enacting

          penalties that fit the crimes.  These are too precious to lose.

           

          The propaganda about a rape culture on college campuses is instructive.  A Wall Street Journal editorial reported that a survey of students at Tulane University suggests that 41% of women undergraduates have been sexually assaulted since arriving on campus.  But closer examination reveals something quite different. 

           

                                  One problem is how broadly Tulane defines sexual assault. 

          The school goes beyond rape or attempted rape to include

          any form of unwanted sexual contact, including a stolen kiss

          or hug.  The latter may be unwelcome but are they assault? 

          This definition helps explain why nearly 38% of female

          undergraduates and 16% of males said they’d been victims

          of unwanted sexual contact.  The statistics for rape or attempted rape are lower, but the 41% can’t be broken down because some students reported more than one form of assault.  The Wall Street Journal 2/9/18

           

                      In other words, less than 3% of women, not 41%, reported rape or attempted rape exclusively.  The other offenses were just unwanted sexual contact.

           

          Unfortunately, Congress takes these so-called “campus-climate surveys” at face value and proposes they be mandatory at every college.  The misleading results have prompted the legislature to urge the Department of Education to establish behavioral guidelines accordingly with all the punitive implications.  Happily, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced new rules that protect college students accused of sexual assault, reversing draconian guidelines of the Obama administration that virtually denied the accused of due process.  The Department of Defense has already adopted austere behavioral restrictions as a result of Congressional hearings on sexual assault in the military.  This is not about protecting women.  It is about neutering men and criminalizing their behavior for political leverage.

           

          Rape and assault are clear grounds under the law for sexual misconduct claims based on inherent physical disparities between men and women.  But female sensitivities to male aggression rest on more intangible emotional differences that can be exploited by enterprising claimants and their advocates.  In particular, they toy with the definition of impropriety and discount natural male proclivities that most women actually relish to some degree.  This image of the fragile woman is antithetical to the cultural liberation women celebrate regarding equality and individual rights.  

           

                      Part of the campaign designed to advance the cause aims to get men to accept the movement.  The most obvious way has been to intimidate them into agreeing to it out of fear of social opprobrium, like any other politically correct compliance. Another way is to put men on a guilt trip about their relations with women to foster empathy for them.  Avi Klein, a psychologist in New York City and apologist for the movement, suggests this in a 7/1/18 article in the New York Times entitled, “Men, #MeToo and Therapy”.  His commentary talked about how some male patients have expressed shame about their treatment of women, even to the point of breaking into tears.  Here are some excerpts.

           

                                  The #MeToo era has changed my work.  If therapy has a

          reputation for navel gazing, this powerful moment has joined

          men in the room, forcing them to engage with topics that they

          would have earlier avoided.

           

                                  But I am also heartened by the private work that men

          are doing in therapy and how it can help us understand the

          relationship between what has been called “toxic masculinity”

          and the reservoir of shame that fuel these behaviors.       

           

                                  The young man who told me a few months ago that he was

          afraid I was going to judge him asked me this question after

          his initial disclosure:  ‘Am I the same as Harvey Weinstein? 

          Am I a monster?’ 

           

          He began to cry and then sob. As the tears subsided and

          we began to process it, more tears came, this time tears

          of relief – that he’s not a monster, that he’s capable of

          remorse and empathy.  He [had] ultimately put his own

          pleasure before someone else’s discomfort.               

           

                                  He had been thinking about one of the women he had

          told me about.  He reached out, they met for coffee and

          he apologized.

           

                      Talk about the emasculation of America!  Get thee to a therapist -  #MeToo is great for business!  What’s next, whipping by a dominatrix?  Reparations?  Of course, Klein’s account is designed to induce mass male groveling in complete capitulation to the movement.  He highlights the attitude the movement wants to promote among men about women.  That mindset would further subordinate men and make them amenable to ever more concessions to the distaff. 

           

          Suggested guidelines for assessing sexual harassment

           

          #MeToo and the media mischaracterize much sexual misconduct.  Alternatively, consider the following suggested guidelines for determining the seriousness of accusations as to prosecution and commensurate punitive sanction.  Of course, a determination of the truth of a claim takes precedence.

           

          What is a reasonable grievance?

           

                      Outright rape or assault certainly qualifies as prosecutable under the law.  For example, they apply to the case of Bill Cosby drugging women for sex.  Likewise, to Larry Nassar, the former doctor of the U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics team who molested his subjects over some 30 years.  Cosby’s conviction is pending on appeal, while Nasser is serving 60 years in prison. Reprisals for rejecting sexual advances, such as denial of a job, a raise or promotion, are also sanctionable by law.  In fact, this theme pervades the charges against Harvey Weinstein who is also on trial for allegations of rape.  In addition, it is appropriate to suspend employment of the accused pending the outcome of the trial.

           

          What is NOT a reasonable grievance?

           

                      Sexual misconduct claims not supported by the law but rather defined by the new sexual culture established by #MeToo and the left call for more nuanced considerations as to disposition.  In any case, rigorous due process to determine the truth and severity of allegations is essential.

           

                       Unreasonable grievance encompasses a wide range of sexualized acts, some more serious than others, as the degree of the offense is key and consent is a wild card.  These claims do not rightfully call for firing, litigation, major monetary settlement or public disclosure.  Behavioral prohibitions ought not deny reasonable expressions of basic human sexuality.  Yes, boys will be boys.  When a man looks at a woman he may be attracted and act accordingly, albeit with discretion.  He is wired that way, and historically, women generally have accepted that reality, and even welcome it.  Yet, today, men stand to lose their jobs because of innocuous acts of pursuit.  Indeed, macho is now politically incorrect.  Liberals try to downplay basic heterosexual male impulses to blur gender and sexuality distinctions in accommodation to the gay rights agenda.

           

                      Ordinarily, indecent exposure and the transmission of explicit sex photos warrant dismissal.  But the following acts should not.

          • Consensual sex

          • Traditional sexual pass or flirting

          • Raised voice

          • Salacious remark, sexual innuendo, or vulgarity

          • “Sexist” comments

          • Innocent touch on the shoulder or elbow (sometimes exaggerated as groping)

          • Complimenting a woman on her appearance, including the derided

                                   “spin-around”.

             

                          Again, the accused and the accuser must always be accorded genuine due process, and any sanctions should be commensurate with the offense.  Claims of misconduct committed many years prior, already inadmissible in court, ought to be dismissed from consideration.  Major monetary settlements should be avoided in order to force a plaintiff to adjudicate her claim in court, where she is likely to lose, or to compel her to withdraw her lawsuit.

             

            Women have recourse in reacting to offensive behavior.  Facing the aggressor in a cease and desist manner probably works in most cases.  An old fashioned slap in the face certainly conveys a message.  If behavior persists, she can appeal to company authorities, especially if career prospects are threatened.  If necessary, she can change jobs, recognizing the significant sacrifice.  In any case, court should be reserved for rape and assault cases exclusively.  Ideally, a claim remains a private matter that does not endanger the accused or the accuser professionally or personally. 

             

            If women expect equality in the workplace they have to muster the strength to endure certain offenses, like men do among themselves, and sometimes from women.  Failure to do so invites the old adage, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”.  (Some might say, “go back to the kitchen”.)  Otherwise, women look weak or childish, and perhaps adversarial - not the qualities that inspire advancement in a man’s world which exists for a reason. (Chauvinist but true.)  Nonetheless, women must not be denied meritorious opportunity taking into account inherent physical and emotional differences between men and women.  Nor should a certain leeway for male aggressiveness condone rape or assault, which, as mentioned, warrant dismissal and prosecution following initial internal due process.

             

            Sample cases

             

            The dynamics of sexual harassment claims

             

                        It seems nearly every day another prominent figure resigns or is fired in response to allegations of sexual misconduct, supposedly following an internal investigation, or not.  Oftentimes the specific behavior is not even mentioned.  Companies cave to mere accusations because they fear outrage in the media, as well as possible boycotts.  The fact is the public, i.e. their markets, could not care less.  Employers should stand up to liberal hectoring, realizing that any backlash is short-lived.  Customers respect that.  Defendant companies have to turn the tide against capricious employee claims and unreasonable settlements.  And grandstanding politically correct companies that impose sanctions on a supplier simply because of a sexual harassment complaint must be publicly challenged. 

             

            The first step is to establish the veracity of a claim.  If it has merit, a company has to determine if it is serious enough to terminate the accused, and to warrant a costly judgement or settlement.  If not, the accused should remain on the job and the employer should insist on a trial, unless a minor settlement suffices.  Defendants have to stop automatically capitulating to claimants.  Bogus or exaggerated sexual misconduct precedents invite litigation by gold diggers.  Most reprehensible are characters like high profile lawyers Gloria Allred and her daughter, Lisa Bloom, who are in the business of recruiting supposed victims of deep-pocketed aggressors and sometimes paying them to come forward publicly.  Then they prepare embellished grievance scripts for their clients based on lies or gross exaggerations, and hope for a big settlement. 

             

            A problem with sexism cases is that too often settlements do not comport with the offense, far exceeding fair compensation for an accuser’s “suffering”.  Such precedents intimidate workers and employers into effectively rendering sexual harassment politically sacrosanct, regardless of the truth and seriousness of an accusation.  A large number of trumped up claims also inures the public into believing the charades.  As such, #MeToo faces virtually no resistance.  At the same time, the cost and potential humiliation of going to trial too often forces settlements that might constitute extortion.  This has to change as it is not justice. 

             

            The following cases illustrate the dynamics at play, including the bandwagon effect of suing while the suing is good in the #MeToo era.

             

          • Fox News:
            • Over several years Bill O’Reilly faced charges from several female colleagues at Fox.  He was terminated eventually despite his long No. 1 rated cable program.  All cases were settled, the great majority at his personal expense.  The largest case concerned sexual harassment allegations of Lis Wiehl, a Fox legal analyst who settled for a whopping $32 million in 2017.  The only public disclosures concern a “non-consensual relationship” (What?) and explicit pornography sent to Ms. Wiehl.  (O’Reilly said the latter he received in a special email account designed to capture almost daily hate mail, some of which included pornography.  The account was directed automatically to his lawyers which included Ms. Wiehl.)  One asks how could any offense short of rape or assault be worth such compensation?  O’Reilly, then 67, said he was loath to expose his two teenage children to a public circus in court, thus avoiding such a spectacle was paramount at any cost.  (One wonders if his kids might think differently about losing that much from their inheritance.) There is something wrong with a system in which one accused of a possibly legal act has to pay that much to avoid public humiliation through trial.  Indeed, this circumstance invites extortion.  Ms. Wiehl’s damages and legal costs could not possibly have equated to that amount of compensation, but for O’Reilly’s personal vulnerability.

               

            • Eric Bolling was fired for allegedly sending lewd pictures to female co-workers - years prior.  He has denied the charges.  One might ask, what triggered the allegations after years of silence?  And why would Fox react to it years later, if not for political heat?  Because of the multitude of sexual misconduct lawsuits filed against Fox, including its CEO, Roger Ailes, the network is extraordinarily sensitive to appearing anti-woman with all its commercial ramifications.

               

            • Jesse Watters was suspended in the form of an immediate mandated vacation for a comment about the way Ivanka Trump held a microphone to her mouth.  Critics on the left and right inferred a salacious innuendo but Watters explained his remark was in context with a prior off-air comment during the break about the mellifluousness of her voice – like a smooth jazz broadcaster.  Watters got off with a warning for a questionable infraction in the first place.  This remedy was all that was necessary at the most.  It should be the standard for most first offenses.

               

            • Grechen Carlson won a $20 million settlement against Fox and former CEO, Roger Ailes, who allegedly exposed himself and demoted her in retaliation for her not cooperating with his advances.  Reprehensible behavior, yes.  But $20 million?  How is that justified?  Like the O’Reilly case, this settlement centered on the value of avoiding a public spectacle, not the damages to the plaintiff.

               

          • Keith Ellis, deputy chairman of the Democratic National Convention (DNC), is running for Attorney General in Minnesota.  But his campaign is disrupted by a former girl friend’s domestic violence charge against him.  Her phone video shows Ellis in a heated argument with her, calling her a b---h and ordering her out of his house.  All news media, as well as some Democrats and Republicans, call for his resignation, or suggest there may be grounds for it.  For what?  This incident is just a spat that happens every day all over the world.  But in this age of #MeToo, the media seize any public conflict between a man and woman as an opportunity to promote the woman as an aggrieved sympathetic figure.  Their indignation is not about serious abusive misconduct.  It is about creating a pretext for accommodating women at a man’s expense, and thus help to elevate her gender as a class and promote the movement.  This kind of case should remain a private matter, even for a candidate for public office.

           

          • A New York City taxi magnate was accused of frequently talking about a female employee’s breasts.  The court ordered a $1.3 million judgement.  A defendant should not suffer such a loss for an act like this.  The plaintiff should have quit.

           

          • A woman anonymously recounted her claim of sexual assault by comedian Aziz Ansari to a reporter for Babe, a feminist publication, in which she refers to the experience as “the worst night of my life”.  After going out to dinner with her, Ansari persisted in sexual pursuit for more than 30 minutes.  Even though the woman willfully became completely naked, she decided his actions constituted assault.  The two got dressed and then watched television for a while.  Afterwards, Ansari called Uber for her ride home.  Later, in response to her text message expressing her horror about the evening, Ansari responded with an apology for his selfishness.  Ansari publicly reported that he considered her lack of definitive verbal objection and her continuing presence to constitute consent.  But the woman believes Ansari should have read her nonverbal signs of discomfort.  Why didn’t she leave the apartment if she was so repulsed?  This is an example of how absurd sexual misconduct claims can be.  Even some feminists have denounced this woman’s reaction as a setback for #MeToo because she projects an image of women helplessness over a common experience that undermines the seriousness of the movement.  A bad date, yes.  Assault, absolutely not.  Nonetheless, Anzari’s career prospects remain in question.

           

          • Near-blind octogenarian Steve Wynn was deposed as CEO of the casino empire he co-founded because of accusations he coerced women employees to have sex with him over decades and promoted a “boys club culture”.  He contests the charges saying all relationships were consensual.  An added impetus to the firing was the board’s concern about corporate legal risk and regulatory costs associated with sexual misconduct, and the implications for weak governance throughout firm operations.  The statute of limitations precludes a court case.  But the #MeToo movement has provoked a plethora of accusations about long past misconduct in the hope of coercing lucrative settlements.  Company defendants should fight these cases to discourage future lawsuits.

           

          • A researcher sued Columbia University for $30 million because a tenured professor frequently talked to her about sex.  In particular, he explained how prostitutes are important for men’s health.  The accuser, who had been denied tenure, claims he tried to impose a sexual relationship on her and then sought to damage her career when she declined, thus suggesting a link to her tenure denial.  A gold digger in action?  A jury found that, although Columbia University was not liable for permitting a hostile environment, it decided the professor was personally liable for retaliation that damaged the plaintiff’s career.  However, Columbia could be liable for some payment for having hired the professor. Monetary damages are yet to be determined.  This is one of the 5% of defendants that lost a court case.  If he did wrong according to the law, so be it.  But will the upcoming compensation judgement be proportional to the transgressions?

           

          • Radio DJ Jonathan Schwartz, 79, was fired by New York City public radio station WNYC for what he indicates was complimenting a female colleague’s attire.  His program had aired on various local outlets for over 50 years.  At the same time, the station also terminated another broadcaster, Leonard Lopate, 77, for allegations of “inappropriate behavior”.  Donors to this non-profit should demand reinstatement for these broadcasters or lose their funding.

           

          • The prominent head of risk management at bond investment firm, PIMCO, resigned following allegations of inappropriately touching an employee at a charity event.  Does the punishment fit here? 

           

          • Les Moonves, long-time CEO at CBS, is accused of sexual misconduct by six women who detailed their accounts in an article published by the New Yorker.  They claim to be victims of his behavior during the period they worked with him from the 1980s to late 2000s, far beyond the statute of limitations but damaging enough for CBS to consider firing him for public relations reasons.  The accusers also hold CBS liable for tolerating “systemic harassment against women”.  It so happens that Moonves and CBS have been under pressure by controlling shareholder, National Amusements, Inc., to merge with Viacom.  His opposition has been instrumental in scuttling merger discussions.  Reportedly, his removal because of these accusations would significantly improve the chance of this business combination.  Have pro-merger forces orchestrated the allegations for maximum effect given the current #MeToo environment?  Moonves remains as CEO pending an investigation by an independent law firm.  In knee-jerk fashion, Moonves’ alma mater, Bucknell University, deleted from its website content celebratory of this famous alumnus.  Everybody runs scared in these cases and sides with the accused.  Justice be damned.  According to The Wall Street Journal, one unnamed CBS source said, “I think the board realizes as a whole this is a very, very, very serious situation.”  Doth protest too much.  A thrice-repeated superlative renders the statement phony as an eight dollar bill.  Of course, CBS’s reaction is really about feigning concern to ward off a media backlash and to mitigate potential legal costs.

           

          Parallels in racial disparagement cases

           

          Even above sexism in the hierarchy of political correctness and identity politics is racial discrimination and disparagement.  Indeed, sexual politics, under the auspices of #MeToo has borrowed from its racial analogue.  Racial politics has degenerated from prosecuting legitimate discrimination to vilifying one for any hint of derision based on race, intended or not.  The effect of assigning this behavior verboten status is to intimidate and silence would be offenders, and thus establish the sanctity of this PC proscription.  A common form of this prohibition is the “racial slur”, even if uttered in private conversations. 

           

          Consider the following examples of political correctness entrenchment based on race and notice the similarities to sexual misconduct charges.

           

          • ABC fired Rosanne Barr and initially cancelled her top rated revived sitcom for jocularly likening black Obama adviser, Valerie Jarrett, to an ape, as in the movie “Planet of the Apes”.  How does such an indiscretion justify terminating a huge money maker for ABC, as well as 200 jobs?  To be sure, there is virtually no real public concern about the slur to warrant that action, despite media horror.  The termination decision is pure left-wing politics to which ABC and the rest of mainstream media are beholden.  Eventually, ABC decided to reconstitute the show without Barr the next season thereby saving the jobs.

           

          • The Board of pizza chain Papa John’s forced its CEO and founder, John Schnatter, to resign for using the N-word.  The deed occurred innocently during an internal conference call with a digital marketing agency which was preparing him for media questions about his criticism of the NFL national anthem protests.  Schnatter’s complaint that the players’ behavior adversely affected company sales, along with the racial implications of his disapproval, called for PR intervention.  The company did not seem to care about the benign context of Schnatter’s utterance, which was an explicit reference to Colonel Sanders having used the N-word in the past with impunity.  Rather, the company ran scared.  Nor was the company concerned that Schnatter later reported the marketing agency, Laundry Service, demanded $6 million to keep the incident out of the media.  Pure extortion.  Later, Forbes broke the story after Schnatter refused to pony up.  Major League Baseball (MLB) and several of its teams suspended Papa John’s ads when the story went public.  Again, there is not a chance that the consuming public cares a whit about Schnatter’s comment.  The reaction is all about grandstanding to avoid a media backlash which effectively helps to perpetuate leftist identity politics.  That is what #MeToo is all about.

           

          • Paramount CEO, Amy Powell, was fired for “inappropriate remarks”.  Specifically, she commented during a conference call about a new television program in the making that black women are angry and black children are raised by a single parent.  A call participant reported the incident to HR and the knee-jerk reaction ensued.  Preventing a liberal media firestorm is paramount, regardless of public indifference.  Justice be damned.  Companies have to fight this nonsense when it happens and consumers should boycott their products if they do not.

           

          • Paula Deen of television food fame was fired for having uttered the N-word 30 years before.  How outrageously unjust is that?  It is all about demonstrating the power of the left through its PC arsenal and ensuring its perpetuation.

           

          • Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate, Ron De Santis, said that his socialist black opponent, Andrew Gillum, should not be “monkeying around” with the successful status quo.  Liberal media accuse De Santis of a racial slur.  Beyond absurd.

           

          The foregoing is just a sampling of how capriciously the left plays the race card today.  Now it follows the same play book in the gender wars through #MeToo.

           

          The counterattack

           

          Considerations

           

          Unless a plaintiff has a very compelling case, accused employers and employees have to stop caving to mere allegations because of understandable fear of litigation costs, media reaction, reputational damage, and ad sponsor withdrawals.  But what incentive does a company have to defend itself and an accused executive in view of those risks?  It is much easier to fire the accused, who is expendable in most cases, and be done with it.

           

          But firing may not be enough inasmuch as a lawsuit could ensue anyway.  And not contesting an allegation may encourage other accusers to extort concessions that could impair employee morale, and even company operations, to the detriment of corporate America in general in a new adverse culture.  The money potentially saved by not settling, the goodwill earned from a likely court victory, as well as a possible deterrent against future lawsuits might make the trial route worth it.  What’s more, sexual harassment settlements often require workplace reforms that might include unwarranted accommodations to women employees, such as unmerited preference in hiring and promotion.  Consider the new ubiquity of women in the Fox News lineup resulting directly from the many sexual misconduct settlements there.

           

          As mentioned, only 5% of sexual harassment cases that go to trial result in victory for the accuser.  As such, defendants should resist settlements as much as possible.  The plaintiff is loath to go to trial because of the long odds of winning, as well as the costs, time consumption, possible humiliation from the disclosure of tawdry details, and the aggravation.  Even a plaintiff victory may yield disappointing compensation, and getting a job back after going to court is very unlikely.  If a defendant rejects a settlement and holds out for a trial, the accuser will likely withdraw her lawsuit.  If she does not, she will enlist support from #MeToo to conjure up feminist hyperbole in the media to garner public sympathy that could hurt a defendant’s case and force a settlement later when he relents to the opprobrium.

           

          Of course, the accused faces the same unpleasantness in a trial but he has a 95% chance of winning, as sexual harassment and discrimination are hard to prove.  But unfortunately for an accused employer and employee, the monetary costs from media vilification and possible boycotts for challenging a sexual harassment claim may exceed any settlement savings, hence the tendency to avoid court.  To be sure, a perceived anti-woman label could really hurt profits.  However, such propaganda and reputational damages are short-lived.  Better to bear the hardships of a trial and set an example for corporate America against fraudulent and politicized lawsuits.  Mass employer resistance through trial would surely decimate sexual harassment claims.  However, multiple concurrent lawsuits such as those Fox News faced the last couple of years virtually preclude trials in every case.

           

          In addition, public attitudes about sexual misconduct have to change so that people largely ignore politically correct media firestorms that lead them to believe that unbridled sexual transgression is everywhere.   For example, many have changed their minds about the threat of man-made climate change in the face of continued media propaganda and exposed corruption among advocates.  Also, public opinion appears to have moderated regarding prosecutorial zealotry in child abuse cases where so many innocent accused suffered.  But that took decades.  In the meantime, employers have to adopt effective tactical methods to defend against frivolous and false accusations.  It is up to defendants and public opinion to turn the tables in a return to normalcy.

           

          On a larger scale, companies must fight the public herd instinct that always favors the accuser inasmuch as no one dares to criticize the movement.  Complainants rely on that popular support and fear.  But enough corporate challenges will achieve the critical mass needed to turn one-sided public opinion against #MeToo.

           

          Tactics

           

                      Here are some hardball maneuvers for defeating #MeToo as they relate to frivolous and bogus accusations of sexual misconduct.  Consider them a Sol Alynski-like “Rules for Radicals” for employers, other defendants and their supporters.

           

          • Rally grass roots support for a non-violent insurgency using “War on #MeToo” T-shirts, hats, buttons and bumper stickers.  Feature man/woman couples arm-in-arm wearing the gear.

             

          • Go to court rather than settle, regardless of the drawbacks, if the plaintiff rejects a minor settlement.  Historically, defendants win 95% of trial cases.  File a counter lawsuit, if justified, to deter future accuser litigiousness.  Set precedents for fighting back.  Right now, a legal settlement is almost a given.  It is just a matter of how much.  Humiliate the accuser and her lawyer in the media by exposing ill motives and personal dirt (no slander, just facts) through covert machinations.  Consider how Stormy Daniels’ discredited lawyer, Michael Avenatti, was exposed.  Reports reveal the following:  1) His law firm’s bankruptcy; 2) A federal lien for $5 million of back taxes on a coffee chain he owns; 3) A $10 million judgement for payment due a law partner; 4) A settled lawsuit for nonpayment of monies owed actor Patrick Dempsey concerning a business transaction; 5) His wife’s recent divorce filing for his profligate selfish lifestyle to her detriment.  If a defendant demonstrates that a legal foe is disreputable, public revelations have to hurt his future and perhaps give him pause in litigation.  Get the goods on the judge as well if adverse political motivation is suspected.  Theoretically, over time these tactics would lead to far fewer sexual harassment cases.  Far fetched?  Lawyers conduct opposition research and employ dirty tricks all the time.  After all, it is war.

             

          • Fire suspected troublemakers before they sue for sexual harassment.  An employer is legally free to terminate an employee for any reason other than discrimination, barring specific contract proscriptions.  Therefore, the employer must ensure that the termination does not appear to be retaliation for an anticipated sexual harassment claim.  State of the art surveillance technology is available that could surreptitiously monitor employees to detect brewing sexual harassment lawsuits.  For example, employers increasingly use sensors to track working performance, communications, and customer service.

             

          • Hire as few women as possible without triggering lawsuits.  Promote a “hire them at your peril” mentality.  This mitigates the difficult task of identifying female troublemakers in the recruiting process.  The policy is more easily enacted in small companies having fewer than 50 employees that lie under the legal radar.  This policy is no different from the predominant female hiring that occurs in many employment sectors in contravention to discrimination laws.  Unfortunately, this practice means forgoing many promising female candidates that might be better than the males hired.  War is hell.  When the lawsuits abate significantly, employers may resume normal hiring.

             

          • Blackball accusers who have pursued flimsy sexual harassment claims.  Furtively develop an industry database to block their future employment.  If a litigious employee is hired elsewhere, inform the new employer about her past lawsuit.  A court of law might find that discriminating against a former litigant is unlawful because it undermines her right to sue.  But it is very hard to prove.  The prospect of bearing a permanent scarlet letter in the employment market will surely diminish sexual harassment claims.  War is really hell.

             

          • Publicly expose advertisers that withdraw business simply because of a sexual harassment allegation, or for challenging an accuser.  Counter their boycotts.  Take solace in knowing that opposition boycotts do not last.

             

          • Promote solidarity among industry companies to fight employee lawsuits, and challenge politically motivated advertisers who act as a block in dropping accounts.  Since all companies face the potential threat of sexual misconduct claims, an industry legal defense fund to finance #MeToo lawsuits would be very helpful.

             

          • Recognize that most employees and the public are sympathetic to the unjustly accused and punished, but may be reluctant to express their support because of potential professional and social consequences.  Harness that backing to combat media vilification related to a specious sexual harassment case.  Many within and without will cheer quietly on the sidelines as they see political correctness challenged.

             

          • Distinguish the company from the competition by supporting the concern of male employees and executives about potential abusive accusations.  Encourage their input.  End the one-sidedness.  Foster a reputation for such empathy that could be a selling point for recruiting and retention amid perhaps wary employment candidates.

             

          • Defy and mock advocates who promote exaggerated sexual harassment representations that publicly bolster the #MeToo movement and perpetrate political correctness.  Expose the culprits like those who call out man-made climate change fraudsters and race hustlers.

             

            The die is cast.  It is time to declare war on the #MeToo movement for its excesses. This requires employers and the public, to include many women allies, to galvanize in a concerted effort to stop this train.

             

            The bottom line

             

                        While some sexual harassment accusations arise from severe behavior and warrant prosecution, pandemic sexual transgression that #MeToo and the political left would have people believe is grossly exaggerated.  Rather, feminists and their advocates in the media make hay over almost any public male-female confrontation to demonize men and thus elevate women for political ends.  In the process, many men suffer employment and financial losses at the hand of accusers, some for alleged offenses of decades prior. 

             

            Plaintiffs avoid a test of their case on the merits in a trial by opting for the settlement process.  The proof is in the pudding.  95% of sexual harassment cases that go to trial are decided for the defendant showing that claims do not hold up to legal scrutiny.  Mainly because of the low probability of a court victory, 75% of plaintiffs choose to settle.  This affords them the opportunity to extort the accused through negotiation maneuvers at the behest of counsel.  Indeed, the plaintiff lawyer savors the lucrative contingency fee from a settlement that likely far exceeds a court determined attorney stipend in a trial case.  Meanwhile, the #MeToo movement propagandizes the plight of the accusers in the media, especially the internet.

             

            Both defendants and plaintiffs dread humiliation from personal disclosures and outright lies that become public record in a trial.  They also recoil at the cost, time consumption, and anxiety associated with that process.  By contrast, settlements are generally private documents protected by confidentiality agreements.  As such, litigants tend to settle rather than fight – the accused reluctantly, the accuser enthusiastically.  Corporations facing sexual harassment lawsuits fear a #MeToo inspired anti-women backlash in reaction to bucking the politics of the issue as trumpeted in the media on the left and the right.  As such, a settlement may cost considerably less than an impolitic challenge in court – or so companies think.

             

            At present, companies conduct internal investigations to appear even-handed.  But are they really equitable?  As mentioned, playing defense is risky because of potential media backlash.  If an investigation discloses truly fireable offenses that create a threatening environment under the law, the employer’s response is easy.  But is an executive, who is innocent by the law’s standards, morally entitled to a defense, regardless of the consequences for the employer?  In any case, employers may levy appropriate punitive measures for sexual misconduct internally, short of true rape and assault, to include dismissal, such that a trial or settlement may be avoided.

             

                        To defeat #MeToo malice, defendant companies and individuals have to fight back by taking their cases to trial, despite the pain, to avoid exploitation through an exorbitant settlement, and to ensure a likely victory through due process based on the law.  To do so in large numbers would result in plaintiffs withdrawing lawsuits in droves.  The ones that do not, face little chance of winning a conviction, other than in the most compelling cases.  Sexual harassment claims and settlement extortion would largely disappear, and #MeToo along with it.  Companies, in concert with industry forces, must employ tough pro-active tactics to discourage sexual harassment lawsuits.  Then public attitudes will change as weak claims abate, and a more collegial and just workplace returns.  Transgressive sexual conduct cases can be resolved internally and include termination.  Bring on the resistance.

             

                        Absent a preponderance of trial prosecutions, #MeToo as a feminist cabal will continue to propagandize women’s grievances in the workplace and other settings.  It happens with full cooperation of the media in an effort to convince the public that serious sexual transgression is rampant.  It is all about empowering women by disempowering men through lawsuits without due process based on contrived behavioral standards that do not comport with the law.  Ironically, dishonest or frivolous lawsuits make women look anything but powerful, flying in the face of their considerable social and professional progress to date. 

             

            And it is not just about lawsuits.  The media sensationalize behavioral conflicts between men and women to gin up gender politics to benefit feminism and the broader liberal agenda.  In fact, the #MeToo movement may have derived from the larger LGBT platform.  At bottom, #MeToo may not ultimately represent women any more than the largely militant gay NOW crowd has.

             

            Employers must be vigilant in identifying potential troublemakers in the hiring process and thereafter, and react accordingly.  Companies, employees and the public, including many supportive women, have to change the political climate through effective opposition, recognizing that most people are sympathetic to challenging injustice.  The resistance must alter current media-driven monolithic opinion by defying and ridiculing the #MeToo movement like any form of political correctness.  Employers should be prepared to boycott defecting advertisers that grandstand to the political left.  If accomplished, credibility about capricious and bogus sexual harassment grievance will gradually evaporate like public acceptance of man-made climate change.  Hopefully, much faster.

             

                                                            ©2018 William J. Dodwell


                      

          William J. Dodwell is a retired corporate executive, management consultant and writer in the financial industry with particular expertise in the capital markets.  He has written in professional journals, the trade press and corporate publications. Mr. Dodwell is a Certified Public Accountant (Inactive) licensed in the State of New York.  He has a website called The Comprehensive Conservative in which he writes primarily long form pieces on politics, culture and the economy.  It may be accessed at http://www.williamjdodwell.com/

                                                                                              



          FINANCE & the ECONOMY


          By William J. Dodwell    September 23, 2017

           

                      Congress passed the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010 to permanently redress the problems that caused and ensued from the 2008 financial crisis.  Dubbed the Dodd-Frank Act for its  co-sponsors, Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Representative Barney Frank (D-MA), this legislation has since overly restricted the financial system to limit credit, reduce market liquidity, impose burdensome compliance costs, and hamper economic growth and job creation.  Even Messrs. Dodd and Frank acknowledged when the law passed that adjustments would be required in time as experience dictated.  Now is the time to correct the excesses and unintended consequences.  The House of Representatives, the Treasury, and the SEC already have presented recommended amendments.

          I.  Dodd-Frank rests on a false premise 


                  The stated purpose of Dodd-Frank is to prevent another financial crisis and taxpayer-funded bailout.  But the law is founded largely on misconceptions about the 2008 crisis and its solutions.  Indeed, the media continue to suppress its seminal cause, that is, a mass deterioration of mortgage underwriting standards largely imposed by the government in its zeal to increase home ownership among lower income Americans under the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), as well as other affordable housing policies.  Indeed, Peter J. Wallison and Edward J. Pinto in an AEI publication issued April 26, 2012, reported that by 2008, right before the crisis, 74% of all high-risk mortgages were attributed to government.  These mortgages consisted of those owned or guaranteed by Fannie and Freddie, insured by FHA, and issued by banks to satisfy CRA requirements and HUD mandates. 

                  In addition, lapses in federal regulatory oversight significantly contributed to the disastrous outcome.  To a lesser extent, banks also exploited the lax credit environment on their own by foisting risk onto unwitting investors at a profit.  To some degree they did this through misrepresented private-label mortgage securitizations, as well as through the sale of risky individual mortgages to Fannie and Freddie for their securitizations which carry a taxpayer-backed guarantee.  Nevertheless, government was the prime culprit in the mortgage meltdown that triggered the financial crisis.  But regulatory apologists promote the notion that Dodd-Frank is necessary as protection from the escapades of the wily financial sector.

                  Furthermore, the left overstates the direness of the federal bailout to justify retaining Dodd-Frank.  In fact, that exaggeration might be viewed as a populist ploy to inure a largely anti-bailout public to the government and its agenda-related government intervention.  Indeed, taxpayers and government operations ultimately were left relatively unscathed by the government rescue.  All the large banks repaid government funds in fairly short order, and some were forced to accept unneeded aid so not to stigmatize those that required it.  According to Pro Publica, as of August 28, 2017, the $625 billion of total government disbursements, including $80 billion to auto companies, has been recovered, plus an $89 billion profit.  This includes $390 billion recouped from $437 billion of TARP payments to 972 recipients.  In addition, the profit comprises a $23 billion 12.5% return on the totally repaid $180 billion bailout of American International Group. 

                  What’s more, the government pocketed over $100 billion from bank settlements and fines as financial institutions avoided the expense and reputational risk of going to court.  They also settled to prevent government retaliation in the form of regulatory reprisals and executive firings for posing a challenge.  Furthermore, the U.S. Treasury continues to pocket all profits from Fannie and Freddie long after its bailout has been repaid.  In short, the government made out like a bandit.  Fortunately, equity investors who held on to their pre-crisis holdings have recovered handsomely as the S&P 500 has well more than tripled from its crisis trough on March 9, 2009. 

                  Yes, the government posted four trillion-dollar budget deficits in a row following the crisis, but that was because the bailout and stimulus appropriations of the first year were left in the baseline in subsequent years for general spending. This is a good example of the left’s adage, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

                  The real losers from the crisis were investors holding severely impaired private bank residential mortgage-backed securities they bought under the false pretense of the rating agencies and some issuing banks.  Those investors did not share in the DOJ and SEC bank settlements meant to compensate for losses incurred from MBS issuer misrepresentations.  Rather, those monies primarily indemnified state and local government pension funds, as well as Fannie and Freddie, and helped some underwater mortgagees.  In addition, large amounts were directed to fraudulent community activist organizations, including successor groups of the congressionally defunded ACORN.  Private MBS investors were even abandoned by their securitization trustees who failed to vigorously prosecute issuing banks that hired them.  Rather, they held their fire in order to protect their prospects for future business with those banks. Where is the regulation there?  Because of that experience, private-label mortgage securitization is still dormant nine years after the crisis with no sign of significant revitalization.  

                  Post-crisis financial regulation has fostered massive consolidation in the banking industry.  Ironically, this has resulted in even greater concentration among the largest banks, the very institutions that Dodd-Frank advocates feared to be too big to fail, and therefore dependent on government bailout in the event of collapse.  According to The Wall Street Journal, the five largest banks now hold more than 40% of U.S. banking assets. 

                  Dodd-Frank is overkill.  Financial regulatory reform should focus on enforcing reasonable loan credit criteria and prudent risk management over lending, trading, investment, and financial services while ensuring an appropriate capital buffer.  Those measures will ensure the stability of the financial system without the adverse economic consequences of Dodd-Frank.

          II.  Regulatory fallout from Dodd-Frank

           

                  Today, legislators in Washington are re-evaluating Dodd-Frank with an eye toward correcting its excesses in community, commercial and investment banks.  In general, the law exaggerates potential systemic risk and goes beyond the immediate cause of the crisis concerning subprime mortgages.  In effect, it expanded government control to the detriment of bank profitability, capital availability, financial innovation and economic growth.  In particular, Dodd-Frank mandated exceedingly stricter capital requirements, limited proprietary trading, and imposed restrictions on financial product that hurt revenues and increased the risk of bank legal liability.  The law also requires that derivatives be traded on exchanges rather than on the traditional over-the counter basis, the cost of which reduces the profitability of the instruments and their competitiveness with foreign counterparts. 

                  However, there is some silver lining.  In response to post-crisis regulation, banks have bolstered their capital enough to prevent another crisis.  In doing so, the big banks have slashed expenses, fostered by a collaborative program called “Project Scalpel” that cut the cost of processing stock and bond transactions by sharing processing and technology.  But, while some Dodd-Frank regulation is beneficial, most of it warrants amendment or elimination.  

                    A. Restricted lending 


                    As a result of excessive financial regulation in the aftermath of the financial crisis founded on an overstated risk assessment, banks, especially community lenders, have significantly restricted their lending.  This is because of newly required capital set-asides that have reduced profitability, along with exploding compliance costs.  That expense also has restricted bank innovation because of an attendant dearth of investment in new production technology compared to online competitors.  In fact, onerous regulatory capital and liquidity requirements have created intense demand from banks for government securities, causing a shortage of them needed by financial institutions to secure short-term financing transactions, notably, repurchase agreements. 
                    As a consequence of Dodd-Frank, many community banks have closed or merged, and the rate of new banks starting has fallen sharply.  Unavailable capital and continued economic uncertainty, especially for small businesses and below-investment grade companies, have chronically suppressed capital investment and job creation essential for a better growing economy.  In fact, a historically low labor participation rate has yielded adverse economic and societal conditions, notwithstanding a low nominal unemployment rate which rests largely on low wage and part-time jobs.  And annual GDP growth has averaged less than 2% in the eight years since the end of the financial crisis, continuing, until recently, an already long period of near-stagnant wages.

            Yet, some subprime lending has returned among lightly regulated mortgage brokers, as well as auto lenders who try to compensate for consumer and commercial lending made less lucrative by Dodd-Frank regulation. (Subprime auto lending has abated of late.)  In response to limited lending by risk-averse banks, extensive online banking and other less regulated non-bank lenders fill the void, including hedge funds and private-equity firms.  In particular, these entities serve small businesses and less credit-worthy individuals in place of traditional banks. 

                        For example, nonbank Quicken Loans is now the nation’s second largest retail residential mortgage lender and the FHA’s largest participant in its mortgage insurance program, as the banks have largely shunned all but the most credit-worthy home borrowers.  Reportedly, the company originates and refinances riskier mortgages online and through aggressive cold calling by employees completely lacking in related experience, according to The Wall Street Journal.  Sound familiar?  Taxpayers are at risk to the preponderance of lower quality mortgages insured by the FHA that are originated by thinly capitalized nonbank lenders less capable of repurchasing soured loans. 

            One might say the Wild West atmosphere of these shadow banks raises the specter of the pre-crisis subprime loan calamity.  In fact, in a pending case, the DOJ has charged Quicken Loans with filing false credit information to the FHA about its borrowers.  In addition, in a class-action suit, a court ruled against the company for its involvement in inflating home appraisals, for which it has to pay $11 million in fines and damages.  Perhaps some Dodd-Frank regulation should be shifted to the nonbanks. (Of course, they do not pose a systemic threat.)  Nonetheless, the shadow banking system serves a market need ignored by traditional banks partly because of too much regulation.  It would be better if traditional banks assumed the risk of that business rather than the taxpayer-backed FHA.

                      B. Curtailed proprietary trading


              Dodd-Frank has changed the financial landscape through the Volcker Rule that restricts the trading of certain types of securities by financial firms for their own account.  Some of this proprietary trading has moved to hedge funds, resulting in a dearth of trading by the investment banks that has limited securities market-making services for clients.  In addition, trading restrictions have increased bid/ask spreads, thus reducing market liquidity.  In fact, Wall Street’s inventory of corporate bonds is down over 90% since 2007, according to William D. Cohan in Barron’s, 7/24/17, p.18.  In that article, he quotes Stephen A. Schwarzman, CEO of the Blackstone Group.

              “Sellers will offer securities, but there will be no buyers.  Prices will drop sharply, causing large losses for investors, pension funds, and, financial institutions.”

              Confusion about the rule, which has prompted an interest in its repeal, has centered on distinguishing proprietary trading for a bank’s own account from market-making for a client’s portfolio.  Proprietary trading involves a firm trading or holding its own securities with the intent of optimizing upside risk in a profit upon sale.   Market-making generally involves an immediate purchase or sale on behalf of a client with a set mark-up on the price of the securities for the bank.  While proprietary trading involves more aggressive risk-taking involving complex derivatives and hedges, the degree of risk it poses to a firm and the financial system is exaggerated, given an adequate capital cushion and competent risk management.  Hence, regulators are reconsidering the Volcker Rule. 

              It is important to note that the decimation of proprietary MBS portfolios that spawned the financial crisis derives from lowered underwriting standards applied to the underlying mortgages at origination, not from the trading of those securities in the secondary market.  The oft-mentioned excessive leverage supporting that trading was predicated on security valuations consistent with the top grades of major rating agencies, and on the expectation of ever-rising home prices that would further secure the mortgages.  MBS prices and the leveraged trading would have been considerably less if the true value of the securities based on surreptitiously diluted lending criteria were known.

              In response to the Volcker Rule, and chastened by its portfolio losses during the crisis, GE Capital liquidated $201 billion of financial assets to concentrate only on financing its industrial businesses.  In addition, Goldman Sachs, a legendary bond trading powerhouse, largely withdrew from proprietary trading because of the restrictions of the Volcker Rule.  It also did so because of low market volatility in recent years resulting from sustained low inflation and interest rates, and slow economic growth.  In the place of trading, the firm plans to shift its focus to lending. 

              But currently Goldman Sachs is considering a return to trading in the hope of a possible relaxation of the Volcker Rule.  But the firm plans to build its relatively small corporate client base for the trading of fixed-income securities, currencies and commodities to rely less on traditional hedge fund, bank and money manager clients.

                            C. Shortage of safe assets needed for collateral


                            As mentioned, higher regulatory capital requirements create greater demand for safe financial assets, particularly government bonds, which get more favorable treatment in bank capital computations.  A resulting shortage of such assets makes satisfying collateral requirements more expensive for repurchase agreements and centrally cleared swaps, for example.  In particular, this added demand raises the relative cost of capital for those who lack sufficient access to those securities.  The scarcity of these assets also contributes to a higher rate of security delivery failure when collateral is returned as repurchase agreements mature.  In addition, the bidding up of these safe securities can depress interest rates to abnormal lows, even negative levels, possibly complicating Fed monetary policy.

                              D. The overbearing Consumer Finance Protection Board

                     

                    The Consumer Finance Protection Board (CFPB) created under Dodd-Frank has been granted unprecedented power and independence.  It operates only under the Fed’s nominal jurisdiction virtually outside the president’s authority and with exemption from the congressional budgetary process.  Under its head, Richard Cordray, an Obama appointee who still holds the office, the agency has been a loose cannon. 

                    According to the June 2017 Treasury Report on financial reform recommendations, Cordray often ignored the law, in particular a requirement under the Congressional Review Act that gives Congress a 60 “session day” notice-and-comment period to evaluate federal agency rules.  In addition, he applies a “disparate impact” standard to determine discrimination in hiring and lending making banks unduly vulnerable to costly legal damages or settlements.  This standard establishes discrimination on the basis of the disproportionality of alleged victims’ race relative to their representation in the general population, regardless of any evidence of intent.  In examining a bank’s compliance with discrimination laws, the CFPB would simply divine a subject’s minority status according to one’s name and residence rather than empirically establish race.  Later, the CFPB relented a bit to require banks to retain a driver’s license photo of borrowers, job applicants and employees to more convincingly establish race in the agency’s discrimination cases. 

                    In the process, Cordray creates the basis for lucrative litigation opportunities for trial lawyers he hires to prosecute allegedly non-compliant banks.  According to The Wall Street Journal, Cordray eyes a run for governor of Ohio in 2018 for which he likely entertains rich political contributions in exchange for legal business with his agency.  This game is common among state attorneys general who contract out prosecution work to law firms which return the favor in campaign funds.  Government litigation against tobacco companies was a prime example of this.

                                The CFPB also restricts mandatory arbitration in financial contracts thus encouraging class-action lawsuits against banks.  This prohibition also favors lawyers inasmuch as consumer plaintiffs were awarded an average $32 in 562 class action cases studied by the CFPB while the lawyers received an average of about $424 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.  The House voted to overturn this “arbitration rule” invoking the aforementioned Congressional Review Act ignored by the CFPB and Congress during the Obama administration.  A vote is pending in the Senate where support is tenuous.

                                The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has expressed concern about the threat litigation costs might pose for the financial system as a result of the CFPB’s efforts to bilk banks through trumped up discrimination charges and class-action suits.

                                To be fair, the CFPB has intervened properly against some real bank abuses, including charging credit card accounts for products that were not ordered, mismanagement of mortgage records resulting in inflated fees, wrongly assigned title, and misapplied payments that led to erroneous foreclosures.  A particularly notable example of bank abuse is that of Wells Fargo which opened some 3.5 million accounts unapproved by customers between 2009 and 2016 which the bank charged for products.  This fraud is testament to the perils consumers may face.  It has to be deterred through appropriate regulation.

                    Nevertheless, the CFPB is a clear case of power abuse that stifles financial innovation through risk-aversion while exposing banks to onerous legal costs.  It must be reined in.

                                  E. Inappropriate non-bank regulation


                        Regulations under Dodd-Frank also affect asset-management firms and the three largest insurance companies. 

                        1. Money market funds

                           

                          The SEC now requires traditional money market funds to invest only in riskless short-term government instruments so they will maintain the historically stable $1 a share net asset value customers always have expected.  For marketing purposes, these accounts must be classified as “Government” funds.  This requirement is to prevent these uninsured money market funds from “breaking the buck”, which might precipitate a raft of withdrawals that could generate principal losses that threaten fund capital.  As a result, money managers have shifted client short-term placements in these accounts from bank C/Ds and commercial paper to safer government debt, including that of the Federal Home Loan Banks, effectively raising the cost of capital for issuing banks and corporations. 

                          To continue investing in higher-yielding bank and corporate short-term debt, money market funds must mark the portfolios to market and classify these uninsured accounts as “Prime” for marketing purposes.  This account revaluation causes client net asset values to fluctuate, thus transferring risk from the money fund to its investors.  According to Dodd-Frank advocates, marking accounts to market rightfully protects the funds from possible collapse that they mistakenly think could threaten the financial system.  They argue that pricing funds at actual market value, instead of at a fixed $1, is reasonable protection for money market firms that could otherwise suffer dangerous capital-depletion in an effort to maintain the fixed share value in the face of panic withdrawals.  This happened during the financial crisis when some money market funds holding seriously impaired assets “broke the buck” sending clients fleeing.  Separately, in an ultra-low interest-rate environment “breaking the buck” is more likely where fund expenses exceed investment income.  But that is not a systemically threatening event.

                        2. SIFI imposed on asset-management firms and insurance companies

                           

                          The U.S. Treasury invoked Dodd-Frank in designating asset-management firms and the three largest insurance companies each with over $50 billion of assets as “systemically important financial institutions (SIFI)” to be subject to, along with the larger banks, more onerous regulation and extra scrutiny.  Inappropriately, this assessment is based on unrelated bank capital and risk standards.  In fact, these nonbank institutions by their nature do not pose risk to the financial system as a whole because, unlike banks, they are not significantly interconnected with one another through counterparty transactions, and thus lack the risk of contagion.  Any systemic risk would emanate from the very interconnected and regulated banks that issue short-term financial assets in which asset-management firms are invested.  In other words, the risk originates with the banks, not the nonbanks.

                          Likewise, insurance companies do not by their nature pose a systemic threat to the financial system and therefore should not be subject to the SIFI designation. In fact, MetLife successfully sued Obama’s Treasury over its SIFI status in a court hearing in which the judge levied a sharp rebuke against an utterly unprepared and overreaching defendant.  The firm had its SIFI classification rescinded.

                                      F. Bank stress tests, living wills and bonus claw-backs


                            Under Dodd-Frank the Fed requires an annual stress test, called the Comprehensive Capital and Analysis Review (CCAR).  This assessment determines whether banks have enough extra capital to be permitted to return it to shareholders through dividends and stock repurchases without jeopardizing solvency under extremely adverse conditions.  The Fed has been notoriously secretive and opaque about its pass criteria making the examination difficult and expensive for banks to prepare.  The Fed also mandates “living wills” that establish dissolution plans in the event of bank failure.  These time-consuming requirements significantly increase compliance costs and unnecessarily constrain operations at the expense of profitability.  In addition, Dodd-Frank calls for bonus claw-backs to temper excessive risk-taking in the face of a long cultural convention on Wall Street.

                             

                            III. Other government interference

                             

                                          A. The Fiduciary Rule


                                            Separate from Dodd-Frank, the Department of Labor created the Fiduciary Rule which, in a power grab, usurped the traditional jurisdiction of the SEC by invoking a provision of the 1974 Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).  The rule calls for financial sales representatives serving retirement accounts to act as fiduciaries and fee-paid advisers responsible for the best interest of clients.  Financial advisers replace traditional commission-paid brokers who essentially take trade orders and execute them, only taking into account general client suitability criteria.  Thus, the rule supposedly affords greater protection by ensuring consideration of the investor’s interest in the advisory process. 

                                But under the new rule, advisers are subject to legal liability, notably from lucrative non-waivable class-action lawsuits that enrich the plaintiffs’ bar.  Advisers incorporate this risk in higher fees, or they might withdraw from the business to avoid potential litigation.  In addition, they could stop serving smaller retirement accounts because of inadequate compensation and added disclosure compliance costs.  If enacted, this rule could result in a smaller pool of advisers, and unaffordable fees for some, causing many small investors to fend for themselves. 

                                President Trump’s Labor Department is currently re-evaluating the economic impact of the fiduciary rule and may exempt certain transactions, such as IRA rollovers and insurance products.  Proposed implementation has been deferred until July 2019.

                                              B. Continued government control over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

                                  Another manifestation of government overreach in the financial sector outside the scope of Dodd-Frank is the evolution of mortgage-finance giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  They have been in conservatorship since the financial crisis during which they received a $189 billion government bailout.  In that time, these institutions have displaced private mortgage securitization with more of their own agency mortgage-backed securities through their accelerated purchase and packaging of newly originated mortgages issued by banks and other lenders.  As a result, the combined firms guarantee or own about $5 trillion of their mortgage-backed securities, encompassing 48% of all mortgages.  In addition, they carry some $5 trillion of corporate debt that finances the ongoing purchase of mortgages from originators.  As such, Fannie and Freddie constitute an unhealthy securitization duopoly with virtually no capital base.   

                                  Most significantly, Fannie and Freddie mortgage exposure poses potential liability for taxpayers.  That is because the government bears the credit risk, guaranteeing timely principal and interest payments to investors holding the agencies’ mortgage-backed securities.  In addition, the government implicitly backs their corporate debt in the event of insolvency.  What’s more, political forces have continued to make the two behemoths relax underwriting standards for mortgages they purchase from originating banks and nonbanks. 

                                                C. Misguided monetary and fiscal policy


                                                  Besides added regulation, banks have been hamstrung by monetary and fiscal policies.  Specifically, the Fed’s open market operations and past quantitative easing through bond purchases have produced chronic near-zero short-term interest rates, as well as near historically low long-term rates, that squeeze net interest margins and therefore curtail lending.  These low rates force investor capital into more risky assets in the quest for higher returns, rather than to traditional bank deposits that would fund lending and reward savers.  A normalization of interest rates by the Federal Reserve Bank and other major central banks will reverse this anomaly to provide income for both lenders and savers that will stimulate economic growth. While rate normalization is currently in prospect, the slow pace of rate hikes thus far will likely prevent relief for some time. 

                                      In addition, excessively high corporate and individual tax rates have stifled the economy and the banking environment.  Over $2 trillion of U.S. corporate profits remain overseas to avoid almost the world’s highest rate at home.  Businesses and investors have anticipated tax relief since President Trump’s election.  But continued uncertainty from the delay in passing proposed tax reform diminishes confidence in its eventuation.  This suppresses capital investment as borrowers, lenders and investors are reluctant to commit.  Nonetheless, optimism prevails as reflected in record high stock prices in 2017.

                                       

                                       IV. Proposed regulatory relief

                                       

                                                    A. What is needed?


                                          The objective is to achieve the right balance between free market forces and appropriate operating discipline guided by regulation commensurate with risk and size.  Ideally, this ensures optimum credit availability, appropriate risk-taking, market liquidity and innovation consistent with systemic institutional safety and economic growth.  As mentioned, the first priority is to apply lending criteria that are not too restrictive or too accommodating.  Proprietary trading also requires some limits while compliance costs should be reasonable relative to risk.  A suitable, but not excessive, capital buffer is paramount to absorb losses in another crisis and to avoid a taxpayer bailout.  Debt-to-equity conversions to replenish capital in times of stress do not suffice.  Too much reliance on this “bail-in debt” can create systemic reactions when bondholders absorb huge losses.  It also makes bond issuance more expensive and difficult.   

                                          In addition, financial consumers must be protected from abuse by banks but regulation should not unduly interfere with the economics of product offerings.  As mentioned, the Treasury and the SEC have issued reports of recommendations for various forms of financial regulatory relief.

                                          Under Dodd-Frank, lending and trading restrictions, as well as compliance requirements, have been too austere considering that lost capital and stability from the financial crisis have been restored.  To wit:  All 34 banks subject to the Fed’s latest annual stress test passed.  In addition, excessive consumer protection measures have been imposed on financial product squeezing bank profits. 

                                          Ideally, a sound financial system, including Fannie and Freddie, would safeguard against the politicization of credit and capital through social engineering preferences.  Also reprehensible are quid pro quo deals between financial institutions and political officeholders involving preferential treatment in exchange for campaign contributions.  For example, the long cozy relationship between Fannie and Freddie and Congress contributed to excessive accommodation to the housing sector.  In addition, banks need protection from abusive prosecutions by the CFPB and other agencies.  Of course, a degree of politics is inevitable, but protections against excess should be in place.

                                          President Trump has expressed support for more accommodative lending needed to spur the economy.  Accordingly, the president has nominated Joseph Otting to replace Thomas Curry as Comptroller of the Currency.  Curry, as well as former SEC Chair, Mary Jo White, were wary about excessive leveraged lending to riskier corporate borrowers and to private-equity firms to finance buyouts.  Moderated capital and liquidity requirements would permit more lending.  The president also nominated Randal Quarles for vice chair of supervision at the Fed, the top bank regulatory official.  Reportedly, he is amenable to re-evaluating Dodd-Frank for regulatory relief in the post-crisis environment, including a review of overly punitive capital requirements.  And he opposes breaking up the big banks.  Nonetheless, his reforms are subject to approval by the Fed’s board and other agencies.

                                                        B. Candidates for change

                                               

                                                          The following areas are under consideration for regulatory relief:

                                              1. Capital rule 

                                              The Fed is currently reviewing the “leverage ratio” as a prominent capital measure to substitute for a “risk-weighted assets” metric.  The former determines required capital objectively as a percentage of gross assets.  The alternative dictates capital based on a percentage of those assets adjusted for a somewhat arbitrary and manipulative assessment of inherent risk.  Excessive leverage through repurchase agreements between financial institutions, where banks borrowed short-term and invested long-term in subprime mortgages, significantly fueled the financial crisis.  When confidence in the solvency of counterparties plummeted, a liquidity crisis ensued so that banks could not roll over their repos.  This left repo lenders with impaired collateral that was valued less than the cash loaned.  Contagion throughout the financial system was a real threat given the vast breadth of the repo network.  The leverage ratio signals excess in this scenario better than the risk-weighted asset measure of capital.

                                              Today, repo volume has diminished, tenors are longer term, and transactions are secured by safer collateral.  Because of capital charges for leverage ratios above certain thresholds, banks have reduced leverage from up to 50 to 1 pre-crisis to about 15 to 1 today, leaving a capital buffer up to seven times greater to absorb losses, according to William D. Cohan in Barron’s, 7/24/17, p. 18.  However, there are tradeoffs to such safety that can render regulation excessive at the expense of lending, trading and profit. Banks have to strike the right balance and continually monitor it for adverse change.

                                              The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is considering relaxing the “supplementary leverage ratio” which includes cash margin set aside as collateral to secure swap transactions.  Proposed relief would exclude this segregated asset from the leverage ratio calculation freeing up some capital for lending.  Similarly, the Treasury proposes exempting client cash on deposit with custody banks from the leverage ratio computation.  This would potentially result in a boon to earnings because those banks could replace costly preferred stock outstanding with debt, or invest more client cash.

                                                          Such overly stringent capital requirements create shortages of safe collateral assets and hamper lending to the detriment of economic growth.

                                                          2. Volcker Rule


                                                          Having tightened the regulatory noose on banks for several years under Dodd-Frank, and considering significant improvement in the stability of the banking system since the crisis, the Fed and other oversight agencies have indicated openness to some relief.   There is general support for simplifying the Volcker Rule to enhance market liquidity, particularly in view of the Fed’s intention to start reducing its $4.2 trillion balance sheet amassed from earlier quantitative easing aimed at stimulating the economy. 

                                                          3. Stress test
                                                
                                                        There is also support for relaxing qualitative annual stress test criteria in the Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review.  Rather, advocates favor quantitative capital measures in biennial, rather than annual, tests relative to a bank’s risk to the financial system.  In addition, both regulators and Congress now support relief for small banks which under Dodd-Frank have been unduly subject to some of the same controls as big banks but with disproportionately negative impact on operations. 

                                                          But, while overly draconian stress tests designed to verify a bank’s capital adequacy under very adverse conditions are problematic, regulators and bank managements must ensure they are accurate.  Banco Popular passed a Spanish stress test in 2016 only to collapse less than a year later.  Investors who purchased the bank’s convertible contingency bonds for their extra yield, partially in reliance on the stress test, were wiped out.  The bank collapsed from inadequate consideration of impaired mortgages festering on the books since the run up to the financial crisis.

                                                          4. Compliance monitoring

                                               

                                              Banks also need relief from onerous compliance monitoring and reporting that seriously distract from company management and planning.  Redundant regulatory oversight should be eliminated or streamlined.  Some object to the role of the Financial Stability Oversight Council represented by the Treasury, Fed, SEC, OCC and CFTC among others.  It was created by Dodd-Frank to monitor the stability of the financial system as whole.  Ironically, the porous regulatory system that contributed to the financial crisis could be replaced by too much overlap that hampers bank lending profitability.  Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin expressed reservations about such coverage.

                                                                  “… we are running into situations where the law gives up to five agencies the authority to                                      administer one statute and they can’t even get a consistent rule.” 
                                                                   The Wall Street Journal, 6/14/17, p. B1

                                                          5. Operational risk

                                               

                                                          Banks have complained about inordinate capital having to be set aside to cover operational risk.  This is risk inherent in internal operations as distinct from exogenous forces in the markets and the economy.  Operational risk may arise from transaction processing errors, unrepresentative pricing, calculation errors, faulty analytics, system failure, and fraud that result in asset losses or legal settlements.  It may be mitigated by new technology, added compliance personnel, additional capital set-asides, and enhanced regulatory oversight. 

                                                          According to The Wall Street Journal, the five largest U.S. banks assign an average of 29% of risk-weighted assets and 18% of total assets to operational risk.  Reportedly, that translates to $50 billion of extra capital reserves that could be loaned or returned to shareholders.  Operational risk is largely quantified on the basis of the assets of discontinued operations, such as Bank of America’s defunct Countrywide Financial acquired during the financial crisis.  Yet, capital is still reserved against it.  Jamie Diamond, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, is particularly adamant about regulatory relief in this area.

                                                          6. Bonus compensation

                                               

                                                          Interestingly, regulators have decided not to pursue restrictions in some areas many thought contributed to the financial crisis.  Once exemption concerns longer bonus deferral and claw-back proposals that have been scrapped as a result of heavy lobbying to protect this bastion of the Wall Street culture.  No bonuses paid in the approach to the 2008 financial crisis have been clawed back.  So far, it looks like this practice will not change, despite the risk motivation concern Dodd-Frank raised.

                                                          Some believe that discipline is needed to temper excessive risk-taking by traders who some believe gave significant impetus to the crisis.  As such, critics argue that bonus compensation be predicated on traders putting some of their own capital at risk like the partnership model of securities firms before they went public in the 1970s.  In the public model, traders sometimes have perverse incentives to take big risks with shareholder capital.  But to be fair, shareholders benefit from the upside of that trading in the form of higher earnings and attendant stock appreciation.  Regarding the downside, management should ensure adequate internal controls to minimize losses from bad bets and rogue trading.  In the public model, traders are tempered by not only effective audit and management, also present in the partner model, but additionally by regulation.  Shareholders rely on all that protection when they invest.

                                                          7. Credit default swaps

                                               

                                                          The SEC gave up on new rules governing the trading of credit default swaps.   In general, the regulators seem to recognize that there is no need to further redress the damage inflicted by the financial crisis.  Rather, there is more concern about correcting the regulatory excesses that ensued in the aftermath relative to the state of the economy and the financial system today. The role of the credit default swap as a contributor to the financial crisis is exaggerated.  In fact, it was a $70 billion unhedged undue concentration of this derivative held by AIG alone that posed a threat.  That mismanaged portfolio caused the firm to fail and be taken over by the government when the value of the underlying subprime mortgages it insured plummeted and thus triggered claims.  The nature of the instrument itself is not problematic. In fact, it is an effective risk management tool for CDS buyers.  Sellers such as AIG are responsible for risk control as well.  A regulatory limit on undue concentration of CDS exposure, as exists for securities, would have prevented the AIG debacle.  Indeed, some regulation is in order.

                                                          8. Freeing up the Board of Directors

                                               

                                                          In a surprising development, the Federal Reserve Bank recently proposed relaxing its guidance on the board of directors’ involvement in technical issues so it may concentrate more on strategic matters concerning economic growth.  Currently, information that flows between the Fed examiners and bank management is shared equally by the board.  At the urging of boards of directors, the Fed calls for management to inform the board only about stymied required remediation efforts.  No more would the board be immersed in such issues as the adequacy of loan loss provisions, a common distraction.  Federal Reserve Board governor and head of the Fed’s bank oversight committee, Jerome H. Powell, has led the initiative.  He said in the New York Times, 8/13/17:

                                                                  “We need to allow boards of directors and management to spend a smaller portion of their time on                         technical compliance exercises and more time focusing on the activities
                                                                   that support sustainable economic growth.”
                                                          9. Leveraged exchange-traded funds

                                               

                                                          Continued regulatory concern focuses on the investment risk of leveraged exchange-traded funds (ETFs).  These funds take on outsize debt to finance larger derivatives-laden portfolios that are exposed to risky volatile price movements.  Meant as a turbocharged tool for short-term trading profits, regulators are considering restrictions as they worry about the potential impact on unwitting retail investors.  However, leverage ETFs represent only 1.5% of the $2.9 trillion U.S. ETF market, according to The Wall Street Journal.

                                                          10. SIFI designation

                                               

                                                          The Systemically Important Financial Institution (SIFI) designation for asset-management firms and insurance companies with over $50 billion of assets should be eliminated.  As mentioned, Dodd-Frank mistakenly views these institutions as potentially threatening to the financial system as a whole, but according to bank risk criteria that do not by nature apply to these industries.  Principally, these nonbank firms do not have counterparty relationships with one another like banks do that could create a “house of cards” contagion when stressed. 

                                                          Clients invested with asset-management firms knowingly bear the risk of their portfolio losses, which, unlike bank deposits, are not insured.  Indeed, the institution has no liability to speak of.  Similarly, insurance losses do not threaten the financial system as they are by nature episodic, not pandemic.  Therefore, insurance claims not indemnified because of company insolvency do not constitute a systemic threat.  (As explained, AIG’s credit default swap exposure was different from conventional insurance.)  What’s more, collective policyholder premium payments over time, unlike financial investments and deposits, are a spent force that cannot pose a threat to the financial system. 

                                                          By contrast, massive bank asset impairment causes capital depletion that can threaten solvency.  In turn, that can preclude payment of myriad counterparty obligations, as well as customer deposit liabilities (most of which taxpayers would bear through FDIC insurance claims.)  This bank contagion could extend to uninsured nonbank institutions invested in bank-issued C/Ds and commercial paper, but that risk would be precipitated by the collapse of the investee, not the investor.  Thus, nonbanks should not bear SIFI status because they do not originate systemic risk. 

                                                          In the interest of protecting investors from external calamity, some might advocate that government regulate the client investments of asset-management firms like it does the investments of banks and insurance companies.  In fact, as explained, this regulation was recently adopted for money market funds, and state insurance regulators have always limited the investments of insurance companies.  But restricting investments of asset-management firms would fly in the face of the right of investors to try to maximize their returns according to their risk appetite, even in the face of a systemic threat to the financial system.  As such, regulating firms that manage the financial assets of risk-taking clients cannot be equated to government protection of bank deposits predicated on asset preservation and insurance coverage founded on avoiding financial loss.

                                                          Of course, catastrophic losses of any kind, be they incurred by asset-management clients, unpaid insurance claimants, or bank counterparties and depositors, can have an enormous collective impact on the economy as spending and investment plummet.  Although the effect of the losses may be widespread, the cause, which is the focus of regulators, does not lie with the failure of asset-management and insurance companies.

                                                          Progress is evident.  The Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) created under Dodd-Frank is currently reconsidering insurer AIG’s SIFI status, as the firm has sold half its pre-crisis assets including many extraneous businesses.  In view of this review, and MetLife’s successful court challenge over its designation, insurer Prudential Financial is amplifying its challenge to SIFI oversight.

                                                          11. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac reform

                                               

                                                          Congress has been undecided about the disposition of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Conservatives call for a completely private housing sector involving the dissolution of the firms.  Others support a continued role for the entities, either in continued conservatorship or as public companies again, to provide liquidity in the mortgage market and subsidization for lower income home buyers. 

                                                          Another issue concerns the utilization of profits.  Since 2012 Fannie and Freddie have been returning all earnings to the Treasury to reimburse it for a $189 billion bailout.  Having repaid the debt, they continue to return profits in exchange for a $250 billion backup to protect against insolvency in the event of future defaults.  But some propose that Fannie and Freddie profits be retained as a capital cushion which currently is quite thin.  Of course, the line of credit in lieu of investor capital accommodates additional government spending which seems to have little resistance in Washington. 

                                                          Since 2013, these government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) have transferred some default risk to investors by issuing a new type of mortgage-backed security that does not carry the guarantee.  While issuance is small, the security is becoming increasingly popular among institutional investors as they offer higher yields than traditional agency MBS whose credit risk is borne by the government.  Investors prefer these securities to bank-issued MBS, the market for which has remained largely dormant since the crisis.  As mentioned, investor confidence still has not recovered from the compromised mortgage underwriting and ratings frauds that decimated bank MBS valuations during the crisis.  Diminishing government involvement in the mortgage market reduces taxpayer risk, and perhaps sets the stage for a much needed return to private securitization.

                                                          On the other hand, Fannie and Freddie have taken on additional contingent liability in recent years by guaranteeing the borrowings of investment firms that purchase foreclosed homes for rental.  Also, the agencies are now purchasing mortgages that finance single home rentals.  These programs were instituted in response to the lowest home ownership rate in 50 years resulting from stricter mortgage standards, as well as the weak finances of individuals caused by student debt, low savings from the Great Recession, and static wages. 

                                                          The housing sector is far too concentrated in government hands.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be taken out of conservatorship and collaborate with private banks to share credit risk.  This would reduce the potential taxpayer burden from the guarantee of agency mortgage-backed securities, while private banks would hold a greater share of mortgages issued.  Ideally, the private-label securitization market would become revitalized so more MBS investors would bear credit risk with or without a shared private/public guarantee.  However, there is no telling how long it will take to restore investor confidence in that market, as it has yet to recover in nearly ten years.   What with more pressing financial issues on the legislative agenda this year, Fannie and Freddie reorganization is not a priority.  In fact, they were not addressed in the Dodd-Frank Act either.

                                                          The nationalization of the housing sector that displaces the role of private banks and expands taxpayer-backed subsidization of home ownership, and even rental, is unhealthy for the economy.  Reform is necessary.

                                                          C. The Financial Choice Act

                                               

                                                          In June 2017 the House passed a bill called the Financial Choice Act under the auspices of Financial Services Chairman, Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), which proposes specific relief from Dodd-Frank.  Accordingly, a firm may opt for maintaining current Dodd-Frank regulations, or operating under fewer restrictions in exchange for holding extra capital.  The bill requires capital equivalent to 10% of assets vs. about a current 7% average among the largest banks.  Opinions vary as to the appropriate quantification.  Former Fed Chair, Alan Greenspan, suggested even 30% in a 6/30/17 appearance with Maria Bartiromo on Wall Street Week.  But that likely would be economically stifling.  Bank balance sheets have improved considerably since the crisis.  For example, banks have increased their Common Equity Tier I ratio, the highest-quality capital, from about 7% before the crisis to about 12% today, according to William D. Cohan in Barron’s, 7/24/17, p. 17.  Therefore, there is room to relax Dodd-Frank operating strictures, especially for small banks.  The Choice Act supports commensurate relief for small banks to accommodate more lending in local communities.

                                              In addition, the Financial Choice Act proposes revising or repealing the Volcker Rule that governs bank investment funded by tax-payer insured deposits.  It also calls for ending the authority of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to close troubled banks and to order an “orderly liquidation”.  Rather, a bank would be required to file for traditional bankruptcy under a new provision of the bankruptcy code.  Also, the Choice Act would repeal the onerous SIFI designation.  

                                              Furthermore, the legislation would rein in the renegade Consumer Financial Protection Board which operates with complete independence outside the Congressional Budget process under the nominal tutelage of the Fed which funds it.  In 2016 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled the CFPB leadership structure unconstitutional.  The case is currently under review by the full Court of Appeals.  Under the Financial Choice Act, the CFPB would become an independent agency within the president’s jurisdiction subject to Congressional appropriations. 

                                                          The Choice Act removes Dodd-Frank requirements that diminish the role of the securities rating agencies whose inflated grades were central to the financial crisis.  The bill eliminates required regulatory disclosures about rating methodologies, and preserves the government imprimatur over the three leading agencies, thus ensuring their continued dominance.  Free-market advocates support this hands-off stance in favor of removing barriers to entry and allowing institutional investors to decide the suitability of the ratings of any firm that chooses to proffer them. 

                                              However, investment firms have been averse to adopting alternative in-house securities analysis in the aftermath of the crisis as too much of a distraction.  The same reluctance probably would extend to evaluating new unproven agencies.  Indeed, money managers have demonstrated continued acceptance of the big three agencies regardless of their failings leading up to the crisis in a seeming redemption of the now chastened major rating agencies.  Nevertheless, with the near demise of the private-label mortgage-backed securities market that was at the core of the financial crisis, MBS securities rating is no longer a prominent issue given the dominance of government-guaranteed agency MBS.  Continued rating of the relatively small pool of asset-backed securities, and of more transparent corporate bonds, by the major agencies is less problematic.

                                                          Meanwhile, the president has power over the rulemaking process to ease the pain of the Dodd-Frank Act.  As such, some federal agencies, as mentioned, have decided not to pursue unfinished Dodd-Frank regulations, including those concerning compensation claw-backs and credit default swaps.  The current Dodd-Frank claw-back provision allows shareholders to recoup executive compensation if paid on the basis of fraud or misconduct, or on materially misstated financial reports.  The Choice Act would restrict a request to recover compensation, or to change any other company policy, only to shareholders owning a minimum of 1% of a company’s shares for three years, versus the current $2,000 of ownership for a year. 

                                              Opponents of the proposed 1% ownership requirement of the Choice Act claim the current Dodd-Frank rule imposes an important discipline on risk-taking, as well as accountability for company actions concerning social issues, such as diversity and human rights.  But that policy makes banks vulnerable to litigious overzealous social responsibility, or so-called “impact”, investors that could crimp company innovation and profits, as well as economic growth. 

                                                          The Financial Choice Act has broad support among Republicans but Democrats believe it invites too much risk and therefore does not adequately protect against another financial crisis.  Passage in the Senate will require some bipartisan backing.

                                                            D. Senator Elizabeth Warren’s view


                                                              Senator Elizabeth Warren, a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, the creator of the CFPB, and a liberal gadfly on the financial regulatory front, claims more, not less, regulation is necessary.  In an interview with Gerald F. Seib of The Wall Street Journal (6/19/17, p. R5) she based her opinion on:  1) Massive consumer preference for more regulation expressed in polls; 2) The increased concentration of bank assets since the financial crisis; and 3) $14 trillion of total economic loss from the crisis considering home values, individual net worth, and jobs. However, she does concede regulatory relief for small banks.  Warren also calls for the complete separation of commercial and investment banking akin to what existed under the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act that was repealed in 1999.

                                                  First, while consumers have legitimate opinions about bank products and services they buy, they have no idea what constitutes appropriate regulation overall, any more than those laymen can evaluate most other issues before Congress.  That’s why the nation is a democratic constitutional republic.  Second, the asset concentration of large banks and the far-reaching impact of the crisis are effects ancillary to the seminal cause of the crisis.  That was government-induced lax mortgage underwriting, followed by bank-initiated credit concessions motivated by a lack of regulatory resistance.  Underwriting deterioration also was encouraged by the ease of transferring risk to the robust mortgage-backed securities market.  All other causative agents of the crisis, including protracted monetary accommodation, regulatory lapses, rating agency fraud, borrower deceit, as well as bank securitization misrepresentations, also were incidental to diluted credit criteria applied to home mortgage lending. 

                                                  Absent that mortgage underwriting blunder, the financial crisis would not have occurred.  As such, regulation aimed at preventing another such crisis should focus primarily on credit quality, not remote or unrelated factors.  If an improperly installed utility pole falls from a gust of wind destroying homes, cars, and possibly people in its wake, a regulator does not mandate an acre of vacant land around every pole.  Rather, it ensures more secure installation.

                                                                E. Reinstating the separation of commercial banking and investment banking under the Glass-Steagall             Act of 1933


                                                                  Some critics blame the 2008 financial crisis on the 1999 repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933.  That revocation permitted banks to engage in proprietary securities trading and securities underwriting as complements to traditional commercial lending.  Previously, commercial banking and investment banking were walled off from each other, or operated as separate institutions so not to endanger customer bank deposits.  Dodd-Frank did not restore Glass-Steagall.  But today, some call for a return to some degree of separation to prevent a problem on one side of a bank from spreading throughout the organization and the financial system at large.  As such, they argue that an appropriately structured separation between commercial lending and investment banking ensures safety, while permitting banks to engage in activities that produce diverse sources of capital-bolstering revenue.  That model helps to ensure optimal credit availability and liquidity that foster economic growth. 

                                                      To that end, proposals range from just tightening controls between the two sectors, to reinstating complete separation commensurate with inherent risk.  For example, graduated controlled integration of multiple businesses might restrict inter-company transactions between subsidiaries in exchange for relaxing regulations over particular businesses within a bank.  Or, a requirement that each business independently funds itself might be a condition for less regulation.  Extreme advocates call for a total return to Glass-Steagall separation. 

                                                                  But an analysis of the genesis of the 2008 financial crisis flies in the face of a call for complete separation.  As mentioned, the crisis was founded primarily on lending risk where mortgage credit criteria were grossly relaxed.  Indeed, lenders face exposure to the credit and interest-rate risk of their portfolios as principal.  But investment banks engaging as agent in securities trading for clients (market making), securities underwriting, mergers and acquisition advisory, asset-management, and hedging for clients, experience little risk to their balance sheets.  To be sure, proprietary trading of mortgage-backed securities for a bank’s own account was central to the crisis, but it created havoc because the underlying mortgages were tainted in the loan origination process, not because of the act of trading itself, despite excessive leverage.  Irresponsible mortgage underwriting caused MBS valuations to tank when massive defaults later became expectant.

                                                      William M. Issac, former chairman of the FDIC, and Richard M. Kovacevich, retired CEO of Wells Fargo, make an interesting case in The Wall Street Journal, 4/26/17, p. A17.  They maintain stand-alone institutions that engaged in only lending or only trading proved vulnerable during the crisis as they lacked diversified investments to absorb capital depletion from impaired mortgages.  Examples are product-concentrated Countrywide, Indy Mac, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers.  The large banks, such as Bank of America and Citigroup that diversified their risk in both commercial and investment banking, survived where homogeneous institutions did not.  As such, a combined lending and investment banking operation within the bank regulatory system that produces diverse revenue streams, and is protected by a suitable capital buffer, is the safer model for avoiding another crisis. 

                                                       

                                                      V. Integrated global regulation

                                                       

                                                                  Some advocates of stricter regulation support integrating U.S financial regulation with an international control structure that creates seamless and comprehensive global protection against another financial debacle.  This network is particularly focused on the “shadow banking system” which encompasses financial entities outside the regulated banking system to include securities firms, asset managers and hedge funds. 

                                                      In July 2017, G-20 nations meeting in Hamburg, including the U.S., agreed to comply with international regulations and enforcement promulgated by the Financial Stability Board established in 2009 in the wake of the financial crisis.  But Peter J. Wallison, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, questions how President Trump reconciles this entanglement with his commitment to relax financial regulation in the U.S.

                                                      “It is not difficult to see that this is a power grab by the regulators who sit on the FSB.  They are trying to leverage an international agreement to create a closed, uniform, global system of financial regulation and supervision.” The Wall Street Journal, 7/14/17

                                                      Inevitable tension arises.  Currently, the CFTC is challenging EU efforts to regulate foreign clearinghouses that do business in Europe.  The U.S. and the EU agreed in 2016 to recognize their respective regulations in this area, but Dodd-Frank implicitly calls for the CFTC to defer to overseas counterparts to some extent.  The EU seems to be trying to tighten this regulation in reaction to Brexit and the CFTC is resisting without running afoul of Dodd-Frank.

                                                                  Given President Trump’s express aversion to unfair trade agreements, it is not likely he will unduly subject the U.S. financial system to global entanglements that interfere with his stated commitment to deregulation.

                                                       

                                                        VI. The economic environment

                                                       

                                                                  Financial deregulation is only one piece of the economic puzzle, albeit an important one.  It affects credit availability, liquidity and capital flows through lending, trading and transactional services that impinge directly on the economy at large.  But even an optimal degree of regulation is just a theoretical construct absent demand in the economy fostered by appropriate fiscal, monetary and other government policies. 

                                                      In fact, government has restricted economic growth since the financial crisis.  Policy must change in conjunction with financial reform that stimulates loan demand and capital investment.  If not, less regulated online lending and brokerage might become an increasing threat to banks as the digital upstarts intrude the market for individual and small business borrowers in their stead.  Moreover, the tepid economic growth since the crisis will not likely improve, regardless of regulatory reform.

                                                                    A. Trump’s agenda


                                                                      The Trump administration currently proposes substantial tax cuts to complement its proposed, as well as already implemented, deregulation that can truly spur growth in a free market economy.  Trump also advocates major infrastructure spending that would provide at least a temporary fillip.  If Trump’s agenda is enacted, it would operate hand-in-glove with Wall Street reforms that could drive the economy to new heights.  But if fiscal stimulus does not transpire, and low inflation coupled with slow growth continue, financial deregulation could be largely moot relative to the economy.  Possible impediments to the president’s agenda loom in the form of tax, budget and debt ceiling gridlock in Congress, poorly executed monetary tightening here and abroad, and a major setback in the Chinese economy.

                                                                        B. Monetary policy

                                                               

                                                              Effective financial reform depends on appropriate monetary policy that lubricates the real economy with sufficient credit and capital founded on a normalized interest-rate structure.  In response to signs of inflationary pressures, the Federal Reserve Bank has tentatively raised short-term interest rates twice since December 2015, after a decade of inaction on that front, and indicates another increase at the end of 2017.  In addition, the central bank finally decided to start reducing its $4.2 trillion securities portfolio, amassed from 35 months of bond purchases under its quantitative easing programs, the result of which is expected to raise longer term rates.  Earlier action to normalize monetary policy likely would have stimulated consumption through higher savings income.  It also would have triggered business investment that creates jobs and adds growth.  Better late than never, but the opportunity cost is substantial.  The European Central Bank’s talk about liquidating its $2.7 trillion portfolio also augurs well for normalized interest rates that will foster an improved economic environment that will give regulatory reform traction.

                                                              Although protracted historically low rates were meant to stimulate demand, some argue that policy retarded economic growth because it forced investors into higher yielding financial assets at the expense of business lending and investment in the real economy.  Near-zero interest rates also severely limited savings income to the detriment of higher consumer spending.  Monetary policy must respond appropriately to the growth that would ensue from Trump’s fiscal and regulatory reform, or financial deregulation might not help the economy appreciably.   That means interest rates must rise enough to reverse yield-chasing and redirect capital to business investment and consumption. 

                                                              Fed chair, Janet Yellen has demonstrated considerable sensitivity to the slightest volatility in the financial markets in response to the Fed’s actions.  That diffidence precluded courageous action in respect of raising interest rates.  Paul Volcker she is not.  She seems to think the sustained slow growth that has ensued from post-crisis Fed policy is a new normal, the price to be paid for a secure financial system today.  Her term expires February 2018.  If President Trump reappoints Ms. Yellen, her politicized, ultra safe, new-normal mindset will not bode well for financial regulatory reform, monetary policy or economic growth. 

                                                                            C. Banking operations

                                                                   

                                                                              The banking system has replenished capital lost during the financial crisis, repaid government bailouts, tightened internal controls, and cut expenses in a return to profitability.  In fact, banks reported record profits in Q2 2017 largely because of wider net interest margin resulting from Fed rate increases that have not been passed on to depositors.  However, a slow pace of rate hikes now on the horizon likely will crimp bank profits.  While lending to large companies has resumed, loans to consumers and small businesses still lag because of uncertain economic growth prospects.  In fact, growth in business lending during the second quarter of 2017 was the lowest in six years.  If banks remain somewhat risk averse as to continue to hoard significant capital in Treasuries and excess reserves with the Fed rather than lend, economic growth will suffer despite bank deregulation. 

                                                                                D. The stock market


                                                                      The general stock market represented by the S&P 500 Index has risen about 60% from its pre-crisis high of October 12, 2007.  By contrast, the NASDAQ Bank Index has appreciated only 6% from its pre-crisis high of February 16, 2007.  And most of that bank recovery occurred since President Trump’s election during which the index has risen 19% in anticipation of his tax cuts and deregulation.  That optimism has abated of late in light of expected political resistance to his agenda.  But financial deregulation, coupled with economic prosperity, would very likely restore long-suppressed bank stock prices and drive them to new highs.

                                                                                    E. The securitization market


                                                                          Mortgage securitization, a boon to liquidity before the crisis, and which some believe essential for resuming normal economic growth, remains largely dormant because of a loss of investor confidence.  Indeed, private-label mortgage-backed securities holders were victim to rating agencies and some issuers misrepresenting credit quality.  As mentioned, these investors were left with little recourse in recovering losses when designated Trusts charged with protecting MBS investors from mortgage fraud showed greater allegiance to the issuing banks that hired them so not to jeopardize future business with them. 

                                                                          Nonetheless, in the quest for extra return in an extremely low interest-rate environment some investors recently have begun to revive interest in the synthetic collateral debt obligation (CDO), a bane of the financial crisis.  This instrument is a derivative whose performance is tied to an underlying mix of mortgages, loans and corporate debt securities.  However, today’s version is shorter-dated and protected by overlaying credit default swaps on a range of companies which mitigate potential losses. Similarly structured equities also trade.  Still, many investors are wary of the complexity, liquidity and transparency of these assets in light of the financial crisis and other Wall Street debacles in recent history. 

                                                                          Nevertheless, debt securitization provides valuable market liquidity by allowing lenders to clear their balance sheets to make room for more loans.  This financial tool would be instrumental in achieving and sustaining a normal economic recovery.

                                                                                        8. The U.S. and global economy


                                                                                          In the U.S., job creation and economic growth have stabilized and home equity loans have surged in response to rising home prices.  In Q2 2017 growth was at a 3% annual rate, versus and average 2% since the crisis, while personal income and consumer spending have been sanguine.  Economic recovery is finally taking hold in Europe and elsewhere after lagging U.S. growth for some time.  As foreign central banks ease concerns about deflation and the effects of the crisis and withdraw monetary stimulus accordingly, monetary policies once divergent from the U.S. will synchronize.  This will produce coordinated global growth as all economic engines pull together.  In fact, it has already started and U.S. bank deregulation will accommodate that progress. 

                                                                              But structural changes in the U.S. employment market could interfere.  The considerable mismatch in the supply and demand for jobs because of certain skills shortages, heavily skewed demand for the highly educated, as well as automation and global competition, has exacerbated economic inequality.  This could ensure widespread permanent underemployment that suppresses wages, consumption and economic growth.  Many adversely affected by this circumstance are the low educated and long-term unemployed who have dropped out of the market and who therefore are not counted in the nominal unemployment rate.

                                                                                          Financial deregulation can spur a sluggish economy, but not if it is hampered by countervailing monetary or fiscal policy on which growth also depends.

                                                                               

                                                                              VII. The political wild card and the obstacles to remediation

                                                                               

                                                                                          Some additional deregulation beneficial to the economy is expected through executive branch administrative rule changes.  But they face delay because many agency positions still remain unfilled awaiting President Trump’s nomination or confirmation by the Senate.  Legislation, which is required for repealing Dodd-Frank, is more problematic because of extreme partisanship in Congress.  Notwithstanding Republican control of the presidency and both chambers of Congress, financial reform will be challenging because of sharp polarization in Washington that yields few or no Democratic votes.  As a substitute for legislation, the Trump administration would have to rely on rule changes by the SEC, Treasury and other agencies as it already has.  But those adjustments could be easily reversed by a future president.  Legislation that codifies permanent relief is needed to avoid uncertainty in the economy.

                                                                                          Indeed, the political backdrop is always a wildcard as it changes every two years.  Congressional resistance to President Trump’s agenda, the effects of his ill-advised trade policy, geopolitical flashpoints, and anti-Trump media fervor could weigh on the economy as to render bank deregulation almost irrelevant. What’s more, the Federal Reserve Bank is not above politics.  Chair Janet Yellen in a speech at the recent annual meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming expressed preference for keeping the Dodd-Frank regulatory model while barely mentioning monetary policy. 

                                                                              Throughout Yellen’s tenure she has seemed snug about having simply avoided another crisis through an emphasis on bank stability, even some eight years after the Great Recession.  She evinces pride about extra-strength capital and liquidity requirements as a belt and suspenders supplement to Dodd-Frank restrictions.  And her continued historically low interest rates, started by her predecessor, have been politically beneficial for government, as well as the politically sensitive housing sector.  Was the resultant redirection of capital that inflated stocks and other risky financial assets premeditated for political reasons?  Surely the expected wealth effect has not generated the spending and investment the Fed hoped for. 

                                                                              Questions abound.  Does the Fed’s longstanding opposition to calls for an audit of its policymaking apparatus conceal ulterior motives?  Is the power that accrues to the Fed from having amassed up to a $4.5 trillion balance sheet through quantitative easing too much to give up?  Are the powers that be in government averse to breaking up the large banks because they are politically harder to control otherwise?  Is the Fed’s new empowerment over the financial system bestowed by Dodd-Frank too intoxicating to relinquish?

                                                                              One wonders how much the Fed has over the years surreptitiously embraced globalist economics as a member of the liberal central bank community.  Has the Fed been over-accommodating to central banks of struggling countries through discounted currency swaps, for example?  The Fed’s social justice agenda is also suspect as evidenced by a seeming preoccupation with economic assistance to the poor and affirmative action hiring in the banks.  One example of this posture is the Fed’s obeisance to Jesse Jackson’s annual Wall Street Project for the last twenty years which calls on banks to donate millions of dollars for impoverished communities (or else). 

                                                                              Janet Yellen is not immune to the amplified politicization of her institution under Dodd-Frank.  In Congressional testimony she expressed considerable sensitivity, feigned or not, about serving poor neighborhoods.  Is there a limit to this largess?  After all, it was a politicized Fed that triggered the 2008 financial crisis through forced preferential lending in its zeal to enforce the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act.  In that period, under Chairman Alan Greenspan, the Fed looked the other way from lowered mortgage underwriting standards, probably so not to aggrieve the body politic relying on the program’s many low-income beneficiaries.  Was he also fearful of activist groups and their media allies that would react to more selective lending that would disproportionately affect minority communities?

                                                                               

                                                                               VIII.  No silver bullet

                                                                               

                                                                                          Economic prosperity and consumer wellbeing depend on a proper balance between financial regulation and the operating freedom of financial institutions.  The principal objective of Dodd-Frank has been the prevention of another financial crisis, or at least the ability to resolve it in short order without another government bailout.  But that law has its downside to the detriment of economic growth.  As such, Dodd-Frank has restricted activities that had little or nothing to do with the crisis, which was specifically caused by politically motivated imprudent mortgage lending.  Ironically, the concentration of large bank assets under Dodd-Frank is greater than before the crisis, justifying continued concern about the vulnerability to the too-big-to-fail doctrine which the law meant to redress.

                                                                              But even the best regulation can be of limited value.  What if law enforcement lapses like it did leading up to the 2008 debacle?  What if the politics of wealth redistribution seriously erode lending standards again?  The 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act was passed in the wake of massive accounting scandals to deter corporate improprieties and to inspire investor confidence.  But it did not prevent the financial crisis, albeit obliquely related.  More directly, SOX did not prevent the subsequent fraud, risk-taking and internal control failures displayed in the debacles involving Madoff, Stanford, MF Global, Peregrine Financial, J.P. Morgan London Whale, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Fannie and Freddie, and Wells Fargo. 

                                                                              And what about speculative excesses in the stock and real estate markets reflecting the savings and loan and dot com booms and busts of the 1980s and 1990s/2000?  And, of course, regulatory oversight would not protect against major economic downturns spawned by the effects of misguided monetary or fiscal policy, such as illiquidity, inflation, federal debt and confiscatory taxation.  As such, many believe another financial crisis is inevitable regardless of regulation.  Indeed, history shows financial failure is often a product of politics and human nature, be they the acts of banks, investors or government. 

                                                                                          Financial reform under consideration today is predicated on the many flaws of Dodd-Frank.  No regulation is perfect as it always involves tradeoffs between safety and freedom, but it should incorporate lessons learned.  Messrs. Dodd and Frank acknowledged that adjustments would be necessary as experience dictates.  And, some Sarbanes-Oxley provisions were relaxed over time to foster growth and job creation, including a raising of market capitalization and revenue exemption thresholds.  The time has come to repeal Dodd-Frank while still requiring appropriate bank capital requirements and essential consumer protections.  The goal is to ensure a stable, accommodating and innovative financial system tempered by regulation that protects consumers and supports sustained economic growth.  It is hoped this model would prevent another financial crisis by focusing on the real dangers.  But there is never a guarantee.

                                                                               

                                                                              William J. Dodwell is a retired corporate executive, management consultant and financial writer in the financial-services industry with particular expertise in the capital markets.  Mr. Dodwell has written in professional journals, the trade press and corporate publications. He is a Certified Public Accountant (Inactive) licensed in the State of New York. 

                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                              ©2017 William J. Dodwell


                                                                              Rethinking Free Trade


                                                                              By William J. Dodwell    May 22, 2018

                                                                               

                                                                                          Free trade purists have historically embraced the principle of comparative advantage which asserts that nations import what other nations can produce more economically because of substantially lower labor and materials costs, technological efficiencies or superior expertise.  But in practice other factors intervene in the international trade of goods and services.  Because of different political systems, macroeconomic factors and cultures, some foreign producers enjoy lower production costs derived from government subsidies and minimal regulation.  In addition, a country might manipulate (undervalue) its currency through central bank intervention to make its exports cheaper and thus more competitive, irrespective of production costs.  In the U.S., businesses are burdened by onerous labor and environmental regulations, comparatively high taxes, and higher wages resulting from a better standard of living, and in some cases from inflated union wage scales, all of which reduce global competitiveness.  To compensate, some companies import product.  Or, they lay off workers, move operations overseas, or choose to shut down altogether. 


                                                                              Trade inequities


                                                                              At issue are certain advantages U.S. trade partners enjoy because of longstanding accommodations in trade agreements.  In fact, the U.S. imposes a fraction of the tariffs levied by almost any other nation according to the World Bank.  Moreover, the U.S. largely ignores trade agreement violations.  President Trump has called for a re-examination of these heretofore largely unknown inequities in his quest for free trade but fair trade. 


                                                                              Serious questions now arise.  Why should U.S. exports be subject to a 25% tariff while only a 10% tariff is charged on China imports?  Why should the U.S. pay a tariff on auto exports to the EU that is four times what that region pays on cars sold here?  Why should American companies be required to transfer technology to China, including patents, to get a deal?  Why does the U.S. allow trade agreements to be predicated on burdensome restrictions on U.S. foreign investment in China?  Why continue trade accommodations to Germany originally meant to help it recover from World War II?  And, of course, China, especially, flouts World Trade Organization (WTO) rules with impunity, and the U.S. gets little relief when it does appeal to that body.


                                                                              Security considerations also come into play as China steals U.S. technology and sells it to enemy nations, such as Iran and North Korea, with little or no resistance.  In fact, Chinese moles infiltrate American corporations and universities and abscond with trade secrets putting future U.S. competiveness in jeopardy. Trump challenges technology theft and longstanding unfair concessions to trade partners in his effort to renegotiate trade agreements aimed at substantially reducing major chronic trade deficits.


                                                                              Traditional free trade


                                                                                          Traditional free trade advocates claim that trade deficits are not serious because U.S. capital expended on imports is invested back in U.S. stocks, bonds, real estate and other investments that support the economy.  This refers to the inverse relationship between the current account reflecting a trade deficit from net imports and the capital account showing a financial surplus from the sales proceeds of those net imports reinvested in dollar denominated assets.  Another reason trade deficits are benign is because imports give consumers the benefit of cheaper goods and greater selection, as well as possibly better quality as domestic producers scrimp to compensate for higher costs.  Indeed, the economic impact of domestic jobs lost from import competition pales in comparison to the gains to consumers who far outnumber displaced workers.  What’s more, free trade supporters are sensitive to artificial trade barriers because they can lead to retaliation that engenders a trade war that can seriously harm the world economy as it did in the Great Depression.


                                                                              While this classic free trade thinking remains valid vis a´ vis the principle of comparative advantage, the other factors affecting U.S. trade agreements, including tariffs, quotas, regulation, subsidies and currency manipulation, have rendered them patently unfair in the excess.  This to the detriment of U.S. companies and their employees, investors and consumers because the inequities substantially squeeze profits by suppressing export revenue and increasing import costs.  As a consequence, lower profitability results in less tax revenue, thus adding to the budget deficit. In addition, large bilateral trade deficits may adversely depress the value of the dollar through the effect on the exchange rate.  While massive trade deficits reflect benign comparative advantage in part, they also reveal grossly unfair trade practices that need to be redressed.  President Trump has awakened the nation to this reality, including some dyed-in-the-wool free traders. 


                                                                              Why has the U.S. been fleeced?


                                                                              Over time the U.S. has drifted far from any semblance of basic comparative advantage.  Now President Trump has brought to light excessive concessions long imbedded in trade policies.  Why have past administrations allowed the country to be fleeced?  Special interests have lobbied for favorable provisions written into trade agreements, and into related legislation in exchange for political support.  Preferences could be in the form of extra tariffs on competing imports, such as Trump’s proposed levies on foreign steel and aluminum (partially for security reasons to help shore up an over-capacity domestic industry needed in war time).  Or, politically influential export sectors might be subject to lower tariffs offset by higher tariffs against exporters with less clout. 


                                                                              Some U.S. corporations acquiesce to high tariffs because selling to certain foreign markets is still quite profitable and holds much promise for their future growth.  Other deficit inducing allowances might veil payments to other nations in exchange for political favors.  In addition, trade giveaways might constitute wealth redistribution, or stealth foreign aid, to other nations in accordance with some hidden agenda.  To some extent trade policy accommodates foreign policy.  What’s more, certain concessions may be altruistic, such as agreeing to a higher tariff so not to threaten an importing nation’s domestic industry.


                                                                              According to stalwart free stalwart Steve Forbes of Forbes Magazine, the U.S. sells its prescription drugs to foreign government agencies at subsidized prices that do not cover the cost of research and development, thus leaving American consumers to bear the burden in higher prices.  Why is this?  Some concession to impoverished areas are justified on humanitarian grounds, but what about the developed world?  Forbes says that market should pay full price to lower costs to U.S. consumers, or do without American made drugs.  


                                                                              What can be done?


                                                                                          There is some leeway for renegotiating extreme trade terms.  For example, U.S. trade partners could lower tariffs on American goods and services, increase purchases, and relax restrictions on U.S. investments in their markets.  In the process, the U.S. could exercise some brinkmanship to get partners to cooperate without precipitating a trade war.  After all, they are very dependent on selling in U.S. markets and in many cases have huge advantages built into trade agreements that could be reduced without much sacrifice.  For this reason temporary protracted logjams are more likely than all out trade wars.  But a failure to achieve U.S. relief goals must not degenerate into a series of retaliatory actions that nonetheless hampers trade flows to serious detriment of the U.S. and world economy.


                                                                                          Presently, the Trump administration, under the leadership of Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and even Trump himself, is or will be renegotiating trade agreements with China, Japan, the EU, as well as Mexico and Canada in a recrafting of The North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).  In that spirit, Trump withdrew from the potential regional entanglements of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with eleven other nations in favor of more manageable bilateral deals.  As a result, the president hopes to reduce major longstanding bilateral trade deficits, especially the more than $300 billion annual shortfall with China, mainly through foreign tariff reductions and significant increases in purchases of U.S. goods and services. 


                                                                              Additionally, Trump tries to encourage U.S businesses overseas to move production back to the U.S. to create jobs and lessen reliance on imports, thus reducing trade deficits.  To that end, the recent tax cuts have caused Apple and Foxconn to commit to U.S. investments of $350 billion and $10 billion respectively. Another negotiating point with U.S. trade partners concerns relief from restrictions on cross-border direct investment taking into account legitimate U.S. security considerations.


                                                                              But the line between free trade and fair trade becomes blurred when Trump insists on a minimum wage in Mexico, proposed tariffs (“border adjustment tax”) on the importation of certain U.S. goods produced overseas, and specified U.S. content requirements imposed on American manufacturers - all to protect relatively few American workers at the expense of far more consumers.  Also undermining fair trade are longstanding U.S. government farm subsidies, especially to sugar growers.  As a consequence, American businesses in need of agricultural inputs for their production have to grossly overpay at the expense of profits and hiring, while consumers suffer artificially high prices.  As usual, politics rears its ugly head.


                                                                                          Many variables come into play in the calculus for correcting unfair trade imbalances.  As mentioned, they include, import purchase levels, tariffs, quotas, subsidies, technology transfers, and foreign investment that can be bargaining chips, both carrots and sticks, for more economical deals.  But, again, there are limits to resolving one-sided excesses with trade partners because of intrinsic differences in political regimes that determine the mix of government intervention and economic freedom.  Standards of living vary among nations as to affect the affordability of imports.  Macroeconomic measures, such as savings, employment, income and capital investment levels have a direct impact on trade flows.  In addition, economically free nations require protection from cheap government subsidized imports (dumping).  Inertia also takes its toll as U.S. trade partners have been spoiled for so long they are reluctant to change.


                                                                              Even the U.S. has structural limitations.  For example, Trump wants to reduce the deficit with China by increasing U.S. exports to that country by $200 billion annually.  But the U.S. lacks the industrial capacity to produce anywhere near that much additional output, especially given a full employment economy.  And saving and spending rates in China do not support commensurate demand.  What’s more, China’s Made in China 2025 campaign does not bode well for increasing imports. That program is dedicated to developing local high-end manufacturing, such as artificial intelligence products, as an alternative to its current focus on low-end consumer goods in order to elevate China’s status in the world economy.  


                                                                              Shifting imports from China to other countries where possible does not change the aggregate trade deficit unless the terms are better.  Replacing imports with domestic production where feasible would relieve the deficit.  But, despite Trump’s admonishments, forced home grown product is restricted by significantly higher U.S. production costs and attendant market prices that can seriously curtail domestic and international demand and bankrupt companies causing an economic tailspin. 


                                                                              So, while some artificial trade barriers may be negotiated away to lower the trade deficit, new ones imposed in retaliation could exacerbate it, as well as slow economic growth.  As such, some question the wisdom of Trump’s gambit to China in which he threatens $150 billion of tariffs if that country denies him his goal of reducing the bilateral trade deficit by $100 billion.  Is Trump calling bluff?  Treasury Secretary Mnuchin just announced a suspension of Trump’s tariff proposal pending consideration of a “framework” for a deal.  In addition, Trump was quick to grant multiple exemptions to his proposed steel and aluminum tariffs.  Perhaps he knows the danger of overplaying his hand.


                                                                              Exceptions to the rule


                                                                              Some considerations, such as national security, are legitimate exceptions to the purist trade and foreign direct investment model.  For example, the president has imposed sanctions on foreign companies that violate U.S. geopolitical interests.  As punishment he blocks international payment systems to prevent those firms from executing trade transactions in U.S. dollars in which a significant percentage of trade deals are denominated because of its status as a reserve currency.  This geopolitical act is an appropriate imposition on unfriendly trade partners where necessary.  Foreign acquisition of U.S companies, especially by Chinese companies, is also properly subject to special scrutiny and should be appropriately restricted on security grounds regarding technology transfer/theft and national defense.


                                                                              But President Trump is currently considering sanctions relief as a negotiating point in response to President Xi Jinping’s personal appeal to Trump to save the collapse of ZTE, China’s largest telecommunications company. That demise was caused by U.S. retaliatory sanctions in reaction to the firm’s violation of pre-existing sanctions imposed on Iran and North Korea.  Critics warn about combining foreign policy and trade policy in employing sanctions relief as a bargaining chip because it can seriously undermine the effectiveness of such international interference as a national security tool.


                                                                              Getting to fair trade


                                                                                          We now know the U.S. extends excessive largesse to its trade partners that is unfair to exporters and importers throughout the country as to have substantial impact on economic growth.  The sensitivity of the U.S. stock market to trade agreement prospects attests to that linkage.  President Trump is attempting to redress this excess through comprehensive bilateral trade renegotiations, but he risks going too far with his protectionist impulses.  He should be supported to the extent he does not overly compromise the principle of competitive advantage in a retaliatory fit of pique.  At the same time, the seemingly extra-conciliatory posture of Treasury Secretary Mnuchin should be held in check.  In addition, new agreements should ensure effective compliance monitoring and enforcement given the history of trade partners cheating.  In any case, give President Trump credit for exposing waste and fraud in trade agreements long kept under wraps.


                                                                                          Comparative advantage is still the gold standard for international trade.  But heavily one-sided tariffs and other impediments corrupt the principle.  Some adjustments to a pure free trade model may be justified because of structural differences between national economies.  However, if U.S. trade partners will not mitigate the excess, the U.S. must respond in kind to protect its economic interest.  It is likely such resistance would yield concessions to avoid a trade war which is in no one’s interest.  U.S. acquiescence to grossly inequitable trade agreements is a fool’s errand.




                                                                                                                                                                                  ©2018 William J. Dodwell


                                                                              William J. Dodwell is a retired corporate executive, management consultant and financial writer in the financial-services industry with particular expertise in the capital markets.  Mr. Dodwell has written in professional journals, the trade press and corporate publications. He is a Certified Public Accountant (Inactive) licensed in the State of New York. 



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