Sunday, October 25, 2020

Something Doesn't Add Up

If polls didn't exist, who would you say was winning the election right now?

It' a serious question. Would it be the guy who has massive rallies every day, many of them spontaneous, or the guy who stays in his basement every day, drawing scant crowds the rare times he comes up for air?

Joe Biden is up eight points in the RCP national average. This is no small thing. Yes, pollsters got it wrong in 2016, but they tend to correct for past mistakes. They have reputations to maintain. 

But are they just biased? Conservative Twitter seems to think so. The "game," many think, is to build a false narrative about Biden being way up and then correct the bias at the very end. That's when pollsters get judged, you see, by the last poll. If they were way off a month before the election, who's to say they were wrong? Public opinion changes. 

But I have looked at the samples used by literally hundreds of polls, and I am not seeing any significant sampling bias. I'm not sure at all that's going on, and if Republicans are counting on it, they shouldn't.

But, those rallies.

The enthusiasm gap is as wide as the Grand Canyon. 

Today, I went to a Trump rally. I wanted to see one up close for myself, and it was an eye opening experience.

The rally had about three hundred cars. There were no prominent speakers or otherwise big draws. Just random people. There were truckers and bikers, and even a guy in a Bentley. Interestingly, more than fifty percent were women. I recognized a few that I knew, and was surprised they were on the Trump side of the fence. They told me they typically have to keep their views close to the vest. Cancel culture.

No one with any connection to the Trump campaign had anything to do with organizing the event, it was all word of mouth. This is a phenomenon being played out all across the country, and it's one we've never witnessed in our political history.

The rally started in Greenwich, Connecticut, and traveled about twenty miles out I-95 and back. This is deep blue Connecticut, by the way. No Trump yard signs anywhere. And yes, we got the finger a few times, but the overwhelming reaction from others was wildly supportive. Hundreds of cars honked in approval. Scores of people waved excitedly from overpasses or by intersections. 

It was like someone had given them permission to publicly show their support for Trump without suffering some sort of backlash. There was palpable joy at seeing so much Trump support in a place like Connecticut.

Which brings me to the whole idea of the "shy" Trump voter. This is a real thing, and it's what the pollsters may be missing. It's people who won't talk to a pollster, or if they do, are reluctant to say they are voting for Trump. 

The big question is, how big is this effect? If it's two points, that may not be enough. If it's five or more, Trump likely wins. (Remember, he's closer than eight points in the swing states.)

Something else to consider: do you know any Trump voter from 2016 who isn't voting for him this time? I don't. In fact, most are more enthusiastic this time around. That, and there's no question Trump will gain with blacks and Hispanics. Question is, how much?

So who has he lost, then? Suburban women? I was surrounded by them today.

On the other side, literally no one gets excited about Joe Biden. I don't think Jill Biden gets excited about Joe Biden. Is animus towards the other guy enough to get someone elected? Not impossible, but you tell me the last time it happened.

One thing's for sure: this election is make or break for the pollsters. Everything - everything - we see around us with our own eyes cuts against what they are saying. If they get this wrong, either through bias or procedural error, the whole industry deserves to be thrown on the ash heap.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Why Trump

Four years ago, I wrote a piece about what to do if you hated both candidates. Trump was, at the time, my last choice among Republicans, and most Republicans I knew felt the same. Some felt strongly enough to go Democrat.

"I could never vote for Trump," they all said.

At the time, I wrote this:

I hear this a lot. I'm not talking about Democrats, but Republicans, particularly of the educated, northeastern, country club variety. The sort that like Kasich. For this genus, voting for Trump is declasse
, a lowbrow act. And they would rather see Hillary Clinton be President than have their sophistication questioned at the next cocktail party.

So let's get this part out of the way. Trump is boorish, and
frequently crude. He has no filter. He has a checkered past with women. His facility with the English language is wanting. He tweets too much and sometimes with little thought.

He is all those things. In a perfect world, Trump would have the decorum of a Mitt Romney. But he doesn't.

(Worth noting here that there's one thing I don't buy, which is that Trump is racist. There's no evidence for this - indeed, there's ample evidence to the contrary - and Charlottesville was an abject lie.)

The question is, do these things mean you vote for Joe Biden?

Four years ago, I held my nose and pulled the lever for Trump, having no clue what might come. He was a total wild card.

Now, I will walk across a vast plain of burning coals to cast my vote.

What's changed? While Trump, the man, is no different, Trump the president, has surprised wildly to the upside. He is a damn good executive, despite having to weather the constant lies of the media, Democrats, and even our intelligence agencies. It seems every week there's a new manufactured scandal. It comes up empty and they pivot to the next with nary a moment for self-reflection.

The thing is, I don't need the president to be my friend. I don't need him to join my country club. I need him to do a job. That means creating prosperity and keeping the country safe.

Four years ago, I suggested that the "tie breaker" (assuming you liked neither candidate) should be policy. What's remarkable about Trump is just how doggedly he has pursued the policies he promised. If you're like me, you have never given much credence to any politician's promises. When Trump said he'd build a wall, I thought, "Yeah, sure."

And yet, a wall he's building, despite everything that's aligned against him. Really, I thought it was just a campaign line.

So, let's take a quick look at what Trump's accomplished. (Perhaps you don't know all this, because the media won't report any of it.)

Tax cuts. We had the highest corporate tax rates in the world. Now we're competitive. 30% of the stock market rally is attributable to the lower rate.

Economy. Pre-COVID, the most robust economy in world history, with record low unemployment rates for minorities and women.

Energy independence. Fracking and pipelines like Keystone have freed us from having to suck up to the Middle East.

Massive deregulation. Equivalent to a huge tax cut, and a big part of the growth surge. Under appreciated in scope.

The suburbs. Ended Obama's insane social experiment in housing.

Title IX. Ending Obama era practice of depriving young college men of due process (I wrote about this in Campusland).

Middle East. Peace breaking out all over, and it's because Trump has ignored the foreign policy establishment and rewritten the rules. Plus, he's phasing us out of the endless wars and bringing troops home. Any Democrat would already have won a Peace Prize. Maybe two.

Israel. Moved the embassy and recognized Jerusalem as the rightful capital. No previous president had the stones.

Iran. Got us out of an abominable deal that paved the way for the mullahs to get the bomb.

Climate Accord. Got us out of a ruinous deal.

Kosovo/Serbia. Another peace deal! Got thirty seconds of coverage.

ISIS. Heard from them lately? Neither have I.

Soleimani and al-Baghdadi. Dead.

World Health Organization. Defunding this corrupt, China toady. No one else, including Republicans, would have put up with the crap Trump knew he was going to get on this one.

Supreme Court. Putting constitutionalists (not conservatives) on the bench. And what other president would have stuck with Brett Kavanaugh? George H.W. Bush would have folded like a tent.

Trade. No more one-sided deals.

NATO. He's getting deadbeat European countries to pay up.

Prison reform. 'nuff said.

Long list. I'm sure I forgot some things.

But, wait! What about COVID!

That is, perhaps, a whole other post, but the bulk of the mismanagement on COVID has come from Democrat governors like Cuomo. Trump let them have a lot of rope, something for which he was criticized. But if he'd gone the other way, they would have screamed fascism. I do think his messaging has been poor, but the bottom line is that this is a virus, and viruses will always run their course until either herd immunity or a vaccine. You can delay illnesses (and harm the economy, which we did), but the virus doesn't just go away.

Now, Biden.

I remember one of my political science professors at Yale saying presidential candidates would always move to the center in order to carve out the maximum part of the electorate.

Like so many things I was taught in college, that's totally wrong.

This election has one of the starkest choices in U.S. history, and that's why it's so important.

Biden is not a liberal. He's also not a moderate. He's not anything. For the seven hundred years he's been in Washington, he's been a human weather vane.

The problem is that the weather in his party is blowing hard - really hard - to the left. You don't think that Elizabeth Warren, AOC, and the rest aren't coming to collect on their IOUs? Biden was not their guy, but they all dutifully lined up. Biden campaigned all-out as a progressive during the primaries to shore up their support.

At any rate, even if he once might have been inclined to stand up to the far left, he no longer has the mental strength to do so. He is clearly in cognitive decline.

If Biden wins, he will likely win the Senate as well. When that happens, the filibuster goes on day one. And starting day two, you will see an onslaught of progressive legislation unmatched in our history. They will seek to get it done quickly, before the public catches on, and before they lose in the midterms.

So, what to expect?

Single-payer healthcare. This will be item #1. Hello Canada, long waits, zero innovation, and higher (hidden) costs. Nothing is as expensive as what the government makes free.

Free healthcare for illegals. Biden raised his hand, thus forever putting to bed his moderate rep.

Immigration. Look for virtually no enforcement. 

Green New Deal. This one is so insane that I wouldn't expect the full proposal to pass, and Biden has expressed reservations. But some form of it will pass, along with a bevy of regulations. Look for energy prices to spike, and a renewal of the Paris Climate Accord.

Taxes. Up they will go, starting with corporate taxes. They will once again be among the highest in the world. Biden's plan also virtually eliminates estate tax exemptions, plus passes cap gains liabilities on to future generations. Awful.

$15 Minimum wage. Sounds great, but in reality is a job killer for those that need it the most.

New States. Puerto Rico and DC, thus ensuring semi-permanent congressional control.

Court Packing. Fifteen justices, something even RBG was against. Biden is being coy, which means he wants it.

Civil Disorder. Is Biden really going to stop the violence that his own base creates? And don't think the rioting will stop because a Dem is in the White House. That's not how radical movements work.

Iran. The deal will be back on the table.

China. No one is closer to China than Joe Biden.

Speech regulation. I'm speculating on this one, but political correctness will rule the day, and the New York Times is pushing for it.

Any of these policies is horrific, but add them together and you have permanent change, the sort countries never recover from.

And we now also know that Biden is thoroughly corrupt. He has made himself a very wealthy man by having his children sell access to him. Incredibly, this isn't illegal, but it's still unethical and corrupt. Everything the left has long accused the Trump family of doing, the Biden family has actually been doing in spades.

So, give me the boorish tweet-sender. The choice is easy. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

The Veepstakes

The veep-stakes is always a fun game to play, so let's play it. Plus, we're all tired of COVID, COVID COVID.

Our particular method will be to look at the current market odds on and say whether the Naked Dollar is long or short relative to those odds.

Kamla Harris - 28% probability 

Short. She's intersectional, which is to say both female and black, so that's good. Could have been a trifecta if LGBT, but she (decidedly) isn't. Having said this, she ran a terrible campaign for the nomination and the Dems don't need California. (When all is said and done, VP candidates usually only provide a small bump in their home states and little else.) Also, with Harris, I think there's personal baggage. She should probably be trading around 15%.

Amy Klobuchar - 24% 

Long. In some ways perfect. Popular governor of a northern state in the midwest, precisely the region Dems need to win back, plus I think people can imagine her being president. This latter point is important. Joe Biden is experiencing a rapid mental decline. Not even Democrats put up much of an argument about this. Whomever Biden picks needs to be perceived as Oval Office ready. On the negative side, Klobuchar doesn't exactly light a fire on the stump and she won't be a hit with the Bernie Bros. (Full disclosure: Klobuchar is a college classmate.)

Elizabeth Warren - 14%

You must be kidding me. SHORT. Warren annoys everyone. She's the scold of a teacher you had in sixth grade that ruined middle school for you. She also loves to be the center of attention. If you're Biden, why do you need that? The Dems also don't need Massachusetts. The final nail in her coffin is that governor is a Republican, so the Dems would lose a senate seat.

Gretchen Witmer - 9%

Short. I used to be long Witmer and when she traded as high as 22%. Michigan is a serious prize with sixteen electoral votes and Trump only won it by 10,000 votes out of 4.5 million. But Witmer has seemed a bit off-kilter with her bizarre and overreaching regulations around Michigan's COVID lockdowns. Still, she's at 57% in the polls, so I might rethink this one.

Stacey Abrams - 7%

Short. Do you remember the kid who really, really wanted to be class president and actively campaigned for it? Yeah, that's not the kid you elected, was it? You elected the kid who acted like he didn't care. Abrams would also have to resign from her imaginary job as governor of Georgia.

Michelle Obama - 6%

Long. Is there any doubt Biden would pick her if she'd only say yes? She's easily the best choice in terms of electability. (She's the worst choice in terms of qualifications, but I quibble). So, would she? I doubt it, but at 6% it's worth a punt. Whomever gets picked has a really good chance of being president, and possibly sooner than later. And while the Obamas are off somewhere living on Easy Street, the possibility of being POTUS has got to tempt anyone.

Cortez Mastro - 6%

Long. Occupying Harry Reid's old seat in Nevada, she's supposedly on Biden's short list. Female, Latina, so yay intersectionality! The Latina (LatinX?) part is a big plus, with Trump having made inroads with the Hispanic community. Nevada only has six electoral votes, though.

Tammy Duckworth - 4%

Short. Intersectional, but Illinois? Don't see it.

Tammy Baldwin - 3%

Long. Wisconsin is said to be the "fulcrum" state in 2020, like Ohio used to be. Dems were shocked to lose it in 2016, and absolutely need the Badger State to win in 2020. Baldwin is popular and - bonus intersectionality points - is a lesbian. That helps with the Bernie Bros and at the same time she might have midwestern appeal to moderates. Also, the governor of Wisconsin is a Dem, so no loss of the seat.

Val Demings - 3%

Short. Black, from Florida, and a former police chief, she'd be an interesting pick and an overnight star (think Geraldine Ferraro and Sarah Palin, both for about a week) if it weren't for the fact no one's heard of her and wouldn't be able to get their heads around a semi-obscure congresswoman being a heartbeat away. A Joe Biden heartbeat away.

Hillary Clinton - 1%

Short. Not worth shorting anymore but there was a boomlet a while back that had her up to 10%. Easy money.

Andrew Cuomo - 1%

Long. The man who won national acclaim for overseeing the worst COVID disaster in the country. Go figure, but it happened. People can see him as president and no matter what happens we will have to endure the insufferable Cuomo family for years to come. Biden promised a woman (a dumb move to limit his options) but could easily use COVID as cover. I don't see it, but at 1% you're looking at a 100-1 payout, so I'm long.

Did I miss anybody? Thoughts?

Edit: it seems that the Democrat governor of Wisconsin would NOT get to pick a successor for Baldwin - there would be a special election. This reduces Balwin's chances considerably. 

Sunday, March 29, 2020

A Cure for COVID - Why Is No One Talking About It?

I have been bearish on COVID-19 for some time. In my house, we actually bought some masks back in mid-January before there was a single case in the U.S. I am increasingly growing bullish, though, and one of the main reasons is that there appears to be a cure, at least if people are treated at early onset of symptoms.

And yet, no one is talking about it.

I watched the Sunday talk shows. Nothing. All they wanted to talk about was how ridiculous they thought Trump's idea was to have partial re-openings by Easter (when all he said was that he hoped it could happen).

Go on Drudge right now - there's not a single story about any cure.

Politicians are silent.

And yet this cure is being administered widely right now and is working.

So what gives?

First, some background. In mid-March, a Frenchman named Didier Raoult announced results of a study involving a combined treatment of Hydroxychloroquine, a common anti-malarial drug, and Azithromycin, an antibiotic. I'll call them H&A. 

Before we go further, note that Raoult is a renowned physician and microbiologist. You can read about him here. This is not Jude Law in Contagion, wandering around in a hazmat suit peddling forsythia.

Didier Raoult

The results of the study were extremely positive, with most patients having no symptoms in only five days, and they caused Trump to express optimism in a press conference. However, there were some issues with the test, not the least of which was the small sample size (24).

Okay, fine. But this is surely cause for hope, no?


Raoult's findings were widely ridiculed, especially when Trump expressed his own optimism. 

Then, two days ago, a bombshell. Raoult conducted a second study, this time with 80 patients, and the findings were remarkable: of the 80, 78 fully recovered from all symptoms within five days. One 85 year-old patient died and one 74 year-old was still in the ICU.

A doctor friend of mine says these are insanely good numbers, the best you'll ever see in a medical study. If you want to nerd out, you can read the study here.

Moreover, it's working elsewhere. Another doctor I'm familiar with says they are prescribing it widely in Cincinnati and seeing similar results. Another doctor for an Orthodox Jewish community (where COVID is running rampant) in upstate New York has this to say:

"Since last Thursday, my team has treated approximately 450 patients with the (new) regimen. Of this group, we have had ZERO deaths, ZERO hospitalization, and ZERO intubations. In addition, I have not heard of any negative side effects other than approximately 10% of patients with temporary nausea and diarrhea."

(Note that there's a broad clinical trial going on in New York right now and results are expected to roll in this week.)

BUT, the medical establishment in the U.S. is reluctant to get on board, including the media's new Elvis, Dr. Fauci.

Why? Well, they have a certain way of doing things, you see, and it involves months of randomized, clinical trials, you see, and rushing things is just not prudent.

Here's someone named Joshua Sharfstein. He's a former FDA bigwig and current Vice Dean at Johns Hopkins:

"The best way to know whether medication for COVID-19 is effective is through a high-quality clinical trial. Efforts to widely distribute unproven treatments are misguided at best and dangerous at worst."

Here's the thing, Dr. Sharfstein. H&A have both been around for decades. They are cheap to produce and their side effects relatively benign, particularly when they are only needed for a few days. There's no downside to distributing them widely. Its effectiveness would be readily apparent. Or not. The downside is that COVID continues to run rampant. 

If I had COVID right now, I'd tell Dr. Sharfstein to kiss my ass.

Other countries are wising up, why can't we? India will no longer export Hydroxychloroquine, wanting to keep all supplies for themselves. Significantly, they are giving it to their frontline health workers as a prophylactic. South Korea used it and they are one of the least-hit countries. Belgium just made it a part of their protocol.

Fortunately, drug companies are stepping up. Companies like Bayer, Novartis, and Teva have agreed to mass produce up to 250 million doses, and much of that they plan to give away for free.

All of which brings us to the question of media and government radio silence. You'd think news of this would be everywhere.

With the government, the kind explanation is that they know the facts and they don't want there to be a run on H&A. Indeed, there is anecdotal evidence that doctors and pharmacists are quietly hoarding H&A in case they need it personally (good for them - they're on the front lines). This should be a short-run concern, with drug companies stepping up.

As for the media, I find it difficult to conclude it's anything other than hatred for Trump. He's optimistic about H&A, and Orange Man Bad, so H&A must also be bad. It's a harsh thing to say, but they don't want these trials to succeed. What else can explain the coverage? Get Trump out of there and sort this out later. 

Don't believe me? Do some googling. The only times they mention H&A are in the context of making Trump somehow look bad. For instance, when two Nigerian men died after ingesting Hydroxychloroquine, there was a rash of stories, many directly implicating Trump in the deaths, when in fact these men both self-medicated and overdosed. You can overdose on aspirin if you take too much. Then, after some genius in Arizona died after ingesting fish tank cleaner, thinking it was the same thing because the name was similar, the media also blamed Trump. CNN didn't even bother to mention it was fish tank cleaner! The viewer was meant to assume it was the Hydroxychloroquine.

This is the media's darkest hour. I never thought the corruption they displayed during Russiagate could be exceeded, but they have cleared that bar and are still going. At least their Russiagate coverage didn't cost lives, which is arguably what's happening now.

So, as I re-read this, I fully realize that I sound like one of those internet cranks peddling crazy stories for clicks. If you're hearing about H&A for the first time, I probably come off like that. Trust me, I'm rational. If you don't trust me, go out and do your own research. Everything's out there.

The good news is that unless there is some crazy hole in this, the truth of will become apparent soon, probably over the next week, two at the most. Look for markets to respond positively and lots of tweets to be deleted.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Fighting Socialism May Be the Bigger Fight

This is an excellent article by my friend Emil Henry that ran in The Hill today, reprinted with his permission...

Forecasting the aftermath of the current crisis is nearly impossible, but here is one prediction you can take to the bank: However deep the economic carnage and regardless of its source, those who seek to drive this country towards socialism will exploit it for all it’s worth.
President Trump recently declared himself a wartime president, as well he should. He is fighting an unprecedented two-front domestic war — one a health crisis, the other economic. In the coming days, the economy will further decline, perhaps in unprecedented ways. And since economic upheaval usually precedes political upheaval, he will soon need to fight a third front: the inevitable propagandizing that will flow from forces of the far left who will lay many resulting economic inequities, real or perceived, at the feet of free markets and capitalism.
The catalyst for the ascendancy of socialism in our recent politics was the financial crisis of 2008. In its wake — sparked by Occupy Wall St., encouraged by hard leftists and enabled by the media — a majority of millennials and Gens X, Y and Z now look favorably upon the movement, according to most polls. They were the base that put a Democratic socialist within a hair’s breadth of the Democratic presidential nomination. And because political views formed in youth tend to last a lifetime, this voting bloc will be the pig in the electoral snake for decades to come.
If the economic blow of the Great Recession was able to catalyze such a breathtaking lurch leftward, imagine what two in a row — in less than half a generation — might unleash on our body politic. Socialists and progressives must be salivating at the prospect of the potential for a one-two punch.
So, brace yourself for the emergence of yet another generation of those intrigued by the false promises of socialism. Ominously, this will coincide with the natural decline of the elderly, the last demographic to understand, overwhelmingly, the abhorrence of socialism.
Will Trump rise to such a fight? I am not holding my breath. He is a warrior, yes. It is a source of his appeal. But he thrives on bludgeoning opponents personally, not in nuance and appeals to higher principle which this fight will require.
His adversaries will be nimble and guerilla-like since socialists already live every day on a wartime footing. Whether originalists Marx and Engels, revolutionaries Lenin and Castro, or modernists Bernie Sanders and AOC, a common thread amongst them all has been to pounce upon every inequity for maximum political impact.
Inequities on a scale that may exceed the financial crisis will abound in the days ahead. So, look for progressives to seize upon them as the true fruits of capitalism, and re-issue the siren call of socialism. Look for the Trojan Horse temptation of state-sponsored security at the expense of freedom, innovation and growth. Overflowing hospitals? Time for Medicare for all. Joblessness and bankruptcies? Time for Universal Basic Income. 
And look for the made-for-Instagram moments where AOC, Bernie and other opportunists will make great hay and stoke class warfare, the rocket fuel of all socialists. When a Southampton socialite is filmed at the butcher’s counter ordering, in full Marie Antoinette style, to “sell me the entire cabinet!”, demands for a Wealth Tax and other state confiscations will surely follow.
There will be winners in this mess. Private jet travel, the ultimate self-quarantine, is in high demand. Big Tech is king as remote work and in-home entertainment drive demand for broadband connectivity. Food distribution is humming from servicing a population now eating three meals a day at home. Amazon is hiring thousands to meet demand from folks avoiding stores and malls.
But to the left, winners are not exemplars of a vibrant, nimble private sector providing value and service in a time of great need. They are simply the rich getting richer. They are to be scrutinized, regulated, and gouged of ill-gotten profit.
The most dangerous propagandizing from the left will come if the number of U.S. COVID-19 infections, and our economic dislocations, exceed China’s experience. That would lend credence to their predictable and seductive yet insidious suggestion that central planners have the best tools to protect humans from themselves. Never mind that the cause of U.S. business dislocations will have been the government and its mandated business shutdown.
As we sit in our homes watching people die and savings destroyed as the economy melts, it may be hard to fathom that this third front might actually prove the more existential fight for our country. But if we lose, and yet another generation falls for what some have called the Big Lie of socialism, then founder Ben Franklin’s warning of our Republic’s fragility may prove hauntingly prophetic.
Emil W. Henry, Jr., served as U.S. Treasury Assistant Secretary from 2005-2007. He is CEO and managing partner of Henry Tiger LLC and Tiger Infrastructure Partners, a private equity firm.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Conservatives Don't Win Stuff

The annual gathering of virtue-signaling liberals, otherwise known as the Academy Awards, was reminder of a phenomenon I have noticed for some time: conservatives don’t win stuff - that is, for pretty much anything (except maybe for sports, awards for which are presumably non-political).

Recently, I wrote a novel, Campusland, a satire about PC insanity on college campuses. Dipping my toes in the literary world for the first time, I noticed something: there are book awards, lots and lots of them, for any category and sub-category you can imagine. But don’t hold your breath for Campusland. A modest search of book award winners shows that winners overwhelmingly tow the progressive line, particularly in the area of identity politics. Michelle Obama will need a wheel barrow to take home all her awards for Becoming.

This phenomenon holds rigidly true throughout the entertainment world. But this comes as no real surprise, does it?

Greta, here anticipating a lifetime of awards

But what about elsewhere? Greta Thunberg has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Don’t bet against her. Barack Obama won it before he’d even had a chance to remove Winston Churchill’s bust from the Oval Office. He won it for just being so…wonderful.

Check out who’s winning Rhodes Scholarships these days. (Seriously, please do - their bios are all on the internet) They are virtually all social justice warriors. One of this years’s winners, for example, focuses her studies on the “criminalization of Central American asylum seekers and the trend towards closed borders.” Another is committed to “Asian diasporic speculative fiction and its intersections with queerness and biopolitcs.”

Yeah, that apparently means something, to somebody.

This never happens

All this is why it was a complete shock to see Rush Limbaugh awarded the Medal of Freedom. People like Rush have always understood they don’t get awards. Conservatives are expected to know their place in the cultural firmament. I’m sure Rush had long come to peace with this, which is likely why he was so emotional.

Overwhelmingly, it’s organizations that give awards; the media, academia, 501c3s, and foundations - it’s all one big bubble of self-congratulation. 

Why is this? Ever hear of O’Sullivan’s Law? It states that any all organizations that are not explicitly right wing will, over time, become left wing. This is almost unfailingly true. Left-leaning activists are attracted to positions of cultural leverage like bees to honey. Yes, they are a relatively small percentage of the population, but they are the tail that wags our cultural dog. They are brutish and unapologetic, but they aren’t stupid.

They had no idea

Exhibit A: the Mellon Foundation just gave $4 million to Yale to further “racial studies across the humanities.” Setting aside the fact that Yale already obsesses about identity politics, I submit that de-colonizing Yale’s English Department was not what Andrew Mellon, a staunch Coolidge Republican, had in mind when he set up the foundation years ago. I urge you to go to their website and look at their grant history. It’s full-on woke. While you’re there, check out their Board of Trustees. It includes the usual rogues gallery of academics, people like Richard Brodhead. You remember him, the former president of Duke who presided over the shameful handling of the lacrosse team a decade ago.

Brodhead - let's put at least one face on this

Alas. I know of no simple, or even complicated, way to stop this. Conservatives just don’t share liberals’ zeal for moving the cultural needle, and thus, over time, the Prize Givers have become dues paying members of the coastal elite. The populist revolt that is re-aligning our politics is in no small way due to their condescending smugness. Most of us have just started tuning it out. We don’t care who won the Nobel Peace Prize or Best Picture. We don’t know or care who won a Pulitzer or a Palme d’Or. 

Hey, libs: you are all just congratulating each other, and your bubble is shrinking every day.

Friday, January 17, 2020

For those who are interested, I did an in depth interview with Eric Metaxas that airs today. he's a very interesting guy with a big platform, and also a Yalie. It airs today on 200 radio stations, but probably easier to watch on Youtube:

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Early Prediction: Democrat Convention Fireworks

Milwaukee, home of the next Democratic convention, could be a very interesting place to be next July. And by interesting, I mean ugly. That's because it might be the first brokered convention since 1952, but significantly less genteel than the days of Adlai Stevenson. 

Hardly anyone seems to talking about it.

The obvious reason for this is that no particular Democrat seems to sustain any momentum. First, there was Biden, but ethical troubles and questions about his senescence brought him back to the pack. Then Warren surged to a 52% probability in the betting markets, but has since fallen precipitously as her universal healthcare plan landed with a thud. More recently, Pete Buttigieg has made a run, but now past comments have landed him in hot water with the identity politics crowd (ironic, given he's gay). At one point, Kamala Harris was also the favorite in betting markets.

But there's a less obvious reason rooted in how and when Democrats award their delegates. 

Here's the how. Unlike Republicans, Democrats award their delegates proportionately, which means it's much harder for anyone to land an early knockout blow, particularly in such a fragmented field. 

Here's the when. With California moving up to join the pack on Super Tuesday, the primary schedule is historically front loaded. Almost a third of the delegates will be awarded by March 3rd. It hardly leaves time for any candidate to establish clear momentum from the handful of early contests. 

To win the nomination on the first ballot, a candidate must clear the 50% bar. Things could certainly change, but right now this doesn't look probable. That's when the fun starts, after the first ballot, because then it's a brokered convention. Let the horse trading begin. And who knows how many players there could be in this game. Perhaps an also ran like a Buttigieg, Bloomberg, or Harris plays king maker with their delegates. Anyone with even a handful of delegates will have serious leverage.

Also, on the second ballot, the so-called super delegates get a vote. This is the fun part, from the perspective of a Republican on the sidelines. You remember them: they're the ones who carried water for Hillary in '16. Super delegates consist of party insiders and they really, really pissed off the Bernie Brigade last time around.

Add to this the general mood of Democrats and liberals these days, which is to say, spitting mad. Sure, they're mad at Trump, but really they're just mad. Outrage is the lingua franca of the left these days. They will march and shout at the drop of a hat and are just as happy with circular firing squads. 

Just imagine, in particular, if the progressive Bernie and Warren mobs get a whiff that the fix is in by party insiders to shove Biden over the finish line.

Here we come, Chicago 1968. Pass the popcorn.

Monday, November 25, 2019

The Indulged Children of the Ivy League

Yale, the school that I love, just can’t seem to get out of its own way lately. At Saturday’s football game against Harvard, something like a thousand students occupied the field for almost an hour. Where “The Game” once had a grand tradition of student pranks, one senses it will now just be another opportunity to showcase protest culture. 

To be fair, Harvard students were involved as well, but where PC outrage culture is concerned, Yale always seems to be front and center. There have been many times in recent years when I have felt acute embarrassment over the latest developments from campus. There was, of course, the “screaming girl” incident where students harassed, hectored, and threatened a prominent professor over the issue of Halloween costumes (look it up on YouTube - it’s shocking). Rather than being expelled, at least two of those students were given awards at graduation for promoting racial comity. 

There was the covering of a stone carving because it depicted a pilgrim with a musket. There was the free speech conference that two hundred students tried to shut down. I was at that one. On a more personal level, there was the undergraduate woman who accused me of patriarchy for holding a door for her at my last reunion. 

Incidents like those prompted me to write the satirical novel Campusland, but Saturday’s events remind me that it wasn’t satire at all.

Don’t get me wrong, the students have every right to protest, but this was the wrong place and the wrong time. By holding up the game almost an hour, they placed Yale in a position where they might have had to forfeit. Imagine being one of the seniors who’d worked so hard for this moment - a Harvard Yale game with the Ivy League championship on the line - only to forfeit? How is that fair to them, their families, and the legion of fans who paid to see the game? As it was, the delay pushed the game into darkness, finally ending fifteen minutes after sunset. It was almost impossible to see, and the refs would have pulled the plug if it had gone even a few minutes longer.

Did the seemingly jubilant, chanting protesters think about any of this? No. It was a supremely selfish act, a grand display of virtue signaling. Self-admiration practically emanated in waves from the field, along with a puerile need to be the center of attention.

What were they protesting? Climate change, but it hardly matters. It’s political theater. Next week it will be something else. Yale is in the full throes of outrage culture where protests are ends unto themselves. This is something Yale has brought upon itself. For one, there are never any consequences for bad behavior. Saturday’s children knew they could have a temper tantrum on national television and fully expect campus kudos, maybe even awards at graduation. 

For another, those students got into Yale precisely because they did things like disrupt football games with protests. The admissions office prizes social justice applicants above all. (Note to the development office: good luck getting them to give back after they graduate. They have been trained to hate the very school they attend, and feel no gratitude over the scholarships you gave them.)

The culture has to change. Yale needs new leadership and a new admissions staff. It needs to cut way back on its bloated bureaucracy. Unfortunately, none of this will happen as long as faithful alums keep writing checks. Alumni need to start asking hard questions because the school they think they’re giving money to is not the one they knew. 

It’s very sad, indeed.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Exclusive Story: Anthony Weiner Used Drones to Spy on Hillary Rival

In 2015, Anthony Weiner used drones to spy on Jeb Bush's presidential campaign.

I have known about this for some time, but my source only agreed to let me tell the story just now. 

Here's what happened. In the summer of 2015, Jeb Bush had a fundraiser in the Hamptons at someone's personal residence. At the time, he was widely viewed as the frontrunner for the Republican nomination. One hundred and fifty or so guests gathered on the lawn for the event. As Bush began to make his remarks, a drone appeared about twenty feet over the crowd's heads. It was a substantial one with four propellers and a camera, and it made a fair bit of noise.

Jeb made a crack that it was probably "Hillary spying on us," and the crowd laughed. The host and his family debated getting a shotgun to deal with the problem but decided they weren't sure of the legality. After a few minutes, the drone exited. Two of Bush's staffers followed out the driveway and down the road a bit. There, they saw two men load the drone into a station wagon. 

One of them was unmistakably Anthony Weiner.

If you are fuzzy on the grand timeline of Anthony Weiner's personal descent, 2015 was after he'd been caught on at least two different occasions sexting with women on Twitter - Carlos Danger, remember? - and also after he had his mayoral campaign implode. It was prior to the underage sexting that got him sent to the big house. Basically, he was in the wilderness, both socially and politically, with little to occupy his days, although he was still married to Huma Abedin.

He needed a way to find redemption, a purpose. Was it by doing black bag ops for Hillary?

One can imagine how the video footage might have been used by the Clinton campaign. "See Jeb Bush Hanging Out with His Billionaire Buddies in the Hamptons!" (Never mind that Hillary raised money there as well, and probably knew more billionaires than Jeb.)

The idea that Weiner might have run this operation without the express approval of both Hillary and Huma Abedin seems implausible. They probably tasked him with this because he literally had nothing else to do and was eager to win back any sort of role for himself. (We've all seen how self-deluded Weiner could be.)

That Weiner and the Clinton machine would pull a stunt like this isn't in the least bit surprising. What is surprising is that the Bush campaign knew exactly what happened and did nothing with the information. Use of a drone to spy on a political rival is scandalous, and would have been so at the time, and yet Jeb sat on it. 

Low energy, indeed.

Anyone think the Trump campaign might have dealt with the situation differently? Republicans nominated Trump precisely because he was the counter-puncher they craved after decades of Republicans who always knew their place. 

Like Jeb.

If this had happened at a Trump campaign event, "Dronegate" would today be part of the national lexicon.

Does this story have current relevance? Certainly not for Weiner; he is a man of irrelevance and will be for the rest of his life. But Hillary Clinton still inserts herself into the national conversation and some think she might run again. Of course, she would deny any of this, but maybe Weiner himself is just desperate enough for public attention (of any kind) that he might just own up to his dirty tricks.