Views on the News

Views on the News*

 December 24, 2016


Observing the political-campaign business, the rules of the game suddenly seemed to change this year.  Let me try to count the ways:

·    Money doesn't seem to matter so much anymore.  Some winning campaigns this year operated on low-lactose diets, notably President-elect Trump's.  The Trump campaign spent about half as much as the Clinton campaign, but won nearly half again as many electoral votes, and that's not counting the spending of Democrat super PACs.  Trump had the advantage of celebrity, which helped him get most of cable coverage during the primaries, so he used it to make arguments and advance policies that won votes.  

·    TV spots don't matter so much anymore.  Old-line network audiences are a fraction of what they used to be, and technology allows people to skip TV ads altogether.  A zero-cost tweet gets more attention and a YouTube video can get more votes than a $10 million ad barrage.  A corollary is that the Democrats' obsession with the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision allowing corporate political communications is beside the point.  

·    Celebrities don't count, because nobody votes because of a celebrity.  The money ferrying such celebs to Clinton event venues was totally wasted.

·    Outrageous statements aren't disqualifying.  The Clinton campaign spent the bulk of its ad budget on spots about decrying Trump's character, and this barrage was augmented by mainstream media talking heads expressing horror about his latest outrage.  Many voters are tired of being told they can't say things that are politically incorrect, like noting that terrorists are Islamic jihadists.  They don't mind, and they rather like it when candidates do.

·    Polling and big data don't automatically generate the right moves.  Campaign strategists have used polls to shape messages since the 1960s, but poll interpretation is not a science but an art. The Clinton campaign didn't notice its candidate's weakness in the Midwest, because those areas are just one subgroup in statewide polls. That weakness swung 70 Obama electoral votes to Trump.

·    Not being able to understand how the opposition thinks is huuuugely dangerous.  The Trump campaign seems to have had a pretty good idea of what its Republican opponents and the Clinton campaign were up to, but the reverse was clearly not true.  In post-election interviews Clinton campaign operatives were blaming their defeat on racism, the FBI director, the Russians.

Mature adults would be seeking to understand how they had missed how the rules changed. 

(“How the political rules changed in 2016” by Michael Barone dated December 17, 2016 published by Washington Examiner at http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/how-the-political-rules-changed-in-2016/article/2609885 )

With President Obama on the defensive at his final press conference and Hillary Clinton’s last campaign event resembling a wake, the Democrat Party is limping off the stage and into the political winter.  It was supposed to sit atop the national power pyramid for decades, a new paradigm of liberals, progressives, the young, the old, the unions and blacks, Latinos, Muslims and Asians.  But a funny thing happened on the way to one-party dominance: The people who work for a living said no, hell no.  Their revolt brings Donald Trump to the White House amid hopes of a revival of the economy and of the American spirit.  Thoroughly beaten, the Dems are at their lowest point in nearly a century.  From the White House to Congress to statehouses, they are on the outside looking in.  Their punishment was well-deserved, as demonstrated by Obama and Clinton.  Full of excuses and blaming everyone except themselves, their closing acts proved it is time for them to go.  They have nothing new to offer, with their vision of the future limited to larger doses of the same failing medicine and their intolerance for disagreement showing they would never learn from their mistakes. Their bad ideas had run their disastrous course.  Yet instead of analyzing what went wrong and trying to find new organizing principles, party leaders and activists are pointing fingers at the FBI and Russia, and engaging in a mad bid to overturn Trump’s Electoral College victory.  Because they are doomed to fail, we could be witnessing the death throes of the Democrat Party as we know it.  With Obama and the Clintons encouraging the attempted theft of an election they lost and failing to denounce intimidation and death threats against Trump electoral voters, most Americans have reason to consider the Dems a dead letter.  Yet the final verdict on 2016 depends on Trump’s performance as president.  If he delivers “jobs, jobs, jobs” and peace-through-strength abroad, he will forge a new governing consensus and remake the political landscape.  While it’s too soon to know what exactly Trumpism stands for, it’s clear that many Republican orthodoxies and special-interest debts are being tossed overboard.  His cabinet nominees are incredibly accomplished individuals who come to their new jobs without the burdens of past Washington gridlock.  Trump has a chance to build a pragmatic coalition that keeps faith with mainstream America.  The obstacles, of course, are many.  Much of the Islamic world is on fire and the great powers are moving ever closer to confrontation in Europe and Asia.  Obama leaves office with Russia, Iran and China eating our lunch, with the Chinese theft of a Navy drone a goodbye insult. The unspeakable horror of Syria and the rise of the Islamic State will forever be part of the 44th president’s legacy.  The domestic divisions are stark and bitter in the last eight years.  We are now perilously close to a boil, and that too falls partially on Obama’s shoulders given his fear-mongering about Trump.  It is reasonable to worry the nation is on the verge of a crack-up, but there is also a possibility that America is on the verge of a new greatness.  It’s up to Trump, the ultimate outsider and a historic disrupter.  Victory presents him with an opportunity to make government work for the people, instead of the other way around.  America needs the change he promised and he needs to commit every ounce of his being into keeping that promise, because if he succeeds, so will the nation. 

(“Time to face reality, Obama – Trump is going to be president” by Michael Goodwin dated December 18, 2016 published by New York Post at http://nypost.com/2016/12/18/time-to-face-reality-obama-trump-is-going-to-be-president/ )


Nothing so epitomizes the politically correct gullibility of our times as the magic word "diversity."  The wonders of diversity are proclaimed from the media, extolled in the academy and confirmed in the august chambers of the Supreme Court of the United States, but there has never been one speck of hard evidence to support the lofty claims.  Although diversity has become one of the leading buzzwords of our time,  it has a history that goes back several generations. I n the early twentieth century, the principle of geographic diversity was used to conceal bias against Jews in the admission of students to Harvard and other leading academic institutions.  Because the Jewish population was concentrated in New York and other east coast communities at that time, quota limits on how many Jewish students would be admitted were concealed by saying that Harvard wanted a diverse student body, consisting of students from around the country.  Some highly qualified Jewish applicants could be passed over, in favor of less qualified applicants from the midwest or other regions of the country.  It is common, at colleges and universities across the country, for the test scores of Asian American students who have been admitted to a given college to be higher than the test scores of whites or of blacks or Hispanics.  That may not seem strange, since that is true of test scores in general, but, at any given institution, applying the same standards to all, the test scores of students at a particular institution would tend to be similar. More Asian Americans would be admitted to higher ranked colleges and universities, however, if the same standards were applied to all.  In short, something very much like the quota limits that were applied to Jews in the past are now being applied to Asian Americans and, once again, are being justified by diversity.  Today, as in the past, diversity is essentially a fancy word for group quotas.  It is one of a number of wholly subjective criteria, such as "leadership," used to admit students to colleges and universities according to their group membership, rather than according to their individual qualifications.  In the U.S., the Supreme Court itself has long been part of such game-playing when it comes to affirmative action.  Back in 1978, an opinion by Justice Lewis F. Powell banned racial quotas with one hand and created "diversity" as a criterion with the other.  In other words, colleges were told in effect that they can have racial quotas, but they just can't call them racial quotas.  According to the Constitution, "We the People" are supposed to decide what laws and policies we live under, but not if we can be so easily fooled by courts using slippery words like "diversity." 

(“The ‘Diversity’ Fraud” by Yhomas Sowell dated December 20, 2016 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/thomassowell/2016/12/20/the-diversity-fraud-n2261393 )

President-elect Donald Trump probably will not often communicate with the nation via traditional press conferences, nor will Trump likely field many questions from New York/Washington journalists.  What we know as "the media" never imagined a Trump victory. It has become unhinged at the reality of a Trump Presidency.  The fading establishment media is now distrusted by a majority of the public, according to Gallup and becoming irrelevant even among progressives.  In the 1960s, all the iconic news anchors, from Walter Cronkite to David Brinkley, were liberal, but they at least hid their inherent biases behind a professional veneer that allowed them to filter stories through left-wing lenses without much pushback.  When Cronkite returned from Vietnam after the 1968 Tet Offensive and declared the war stalemated and unwinnable, no one dared to offer the dissenting viewpoint that Tet was actually a decisive American victory.  The mainstream-media narrative in 1963 that Lee Harvey Oswald, the Castroite, communist assassin of John F. Kennedy, was a product of right-wing Texas hatred was completely crazy, but largely unquestioned.  That old monopoly over the news, despite the advent of cable television and the internet, still lingered until 2016.  Soft-spoken liberal hosts on public TV and radio superficially sounded more news-like than their gravelly-voiced populist counterparts on commercial radio and cable news.  Yet the thinning veneer of circumspection that had supposedly characterized the elite liberal successors to Cronkite and Brinkley was finally ripped off completely by a media meltdown over Trump.  When the press is unashamedly slanted, even its benefactors want even more partiality, media heartthrob Barack Obama included.  In his last press conference as President, Obama attacked pet journalists for reporting on WikiLeaks' release of John Podesta's emails, supposedly at the expense of his own legacy and Hillary Clinton's accomplishments.  The WikiLeaks trove certainly proved another disaster to the media, but only because it revealed that mainstream journalists conspired with the Clinton campaign.  CNN's Donna Brazile leaked possible debate questions to Clinton.  Washington Post op-ed columnist, Dana Milbank, even asked Clintonites for research to help him attack Trump.  In today's media, all of this progressive distortion serves as an insurance policy for lapses of personal integrity.  MSNBC anchor Brian Williams sermonized about the so-called "fake news" epidemic.  Williams failed to remind us that he was removed as NBC's evening news anchor for serving up all sorts of fake details about his supposedly brave trips abroad in search of edgy news stories.  After the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, the co-hosts of the show "CNN Newsroom" collectively put up their hands in "hands up, don't shoot" solidarity, echoing a narrative of police murder later proved to be completely false by a lengthy federal investigation.  Decades-long journalistic one-sidedness was apparently tolerable when there were no other news alternatives. Mainstream-media monopolies once were also highly profitable, and long-ago liberal news people were at least well-mannered.  All of those assumptions are no longer true.  News outlets such as The New York Times and NBC have no more credibility than most websites or the National Enquirer.

(“The Trump Nail in the Media Coffin” by Victor Davis Hanson dated December 22, 2016 published by Town Hall at http://townhall.com/columnists/victordavishanson/2016/12/22/the-trump-nail-in-the-media-coffin-n2262278 )

In possession of government power, liberals pompously invoke established customs, but once out of power, they immediately start breaking them.  No sooner had they lost the White House than they returned to the primitive and infantile stance of 1960s-style radicals.  Liberalism is willfulness writ large.  Its relationship to law and custom is determined not by fixed principle but by whatever liberals want at any given moment.  Insofar as law and custom are useful to retaining power, liberals demand that others follow them.  But the moment law and custom become an impediment to regaining power, they give themselves permission to violate them.  The “ends” suddenly justify the means, and anyone who questions their bad behavior fails to see the “higher” good at stake.  Hillary spent much of the campaign harrumphing about Trump’s “horrifying” disdain for decorum and election-year proprieties.  In defeat, she and her aides have now exceeded whatever post-election pouting they claimed Trump would indulge. Their hypocrisy so far has been hapless, losing votes in recounts that they demanded and electors from an electoral college that they intimidated.  So much for the “temperament” of Hillary and her supporters.  They alone, according to the media, had the “maturity” and “stability” to save a serene republic from Trump’s tantrums.  Now they behave like demented flower children.  Never far below the vestments of liberal establishment respectability lies the shabby attire of radicalism.  Out came the obscene placards the moment liberals lose.  In defeat, their rhetoric grows unruly and revolutionary, with old contempt for the “bourgeois” resurfacing in jeremiads against “talk radio” and “white privilege.”  They grow more paranoid, blaming enemies, both foreign and domestic, for their loss of power.  In their mutterings about conservative FBI agents, Russian hackers, and a “basket of deplorables,” Bill and Hillary sound like the 1960s radicals and George McGovern campaign volunteers they once were.  The revisionist spin they are putting on the race is laughable, given the lengths to which the ruling class went to pull Hillary across the finish line.  She had all the advantages in the race: more money, more media, a Democrat establishment propping her up, a Republican establishment tearing Trump down, an attorney general and FBI director saving her from indictment, endorsements from almost every newspaper coast to coast, multiple cable channels and networks acting like adjuncts of her campaign, and Hollywood and academia churning out propaganda for her daily.  And she still couldn’t win.  In her post-election analysis, she alternates between insulting the people and infantilizing them.  She casts them as pawns of Russian manipulation.  Never mind that at the debates and in the campaign she had warned the people that “Putin wanted” Trump to win and had hacked into the DNC to accomplish that goal.  Indeed, that was one of her favorite talking points.  It was the media in her pocket, not the hackers, who sought to deceive the people and push Hillary to victory.  The people had no reason to question the veracity of the hacked emails, but they had plenty of reason to question the truthfulness of the fawning press coverage that she received.  Survey after survey shows that 90% or more of reporters vote Democrat.  Hillary is apparently upset that that support is not at 100 percent and that media outlets deigned to report the hacked emails. She feels that they should have all banded together and suppressed the story.  Often, losing politicians bemoan an uninformed electorate. Hillary trashes an informed one because she is mad that they knew too much about her, and she was undone not by lies but by the truth. 

(“The Desperate Revisionism of the Left” by George Neumayr dated December 21, 2016 published by The American Spectator at https://spectator.org/the-desperate-revisionism-of-the-left/ )


There is so much published each week that unless you search for it, you will miss important breaking news.  I try to package the best of this information into my “Views on the News” each Saturday morning.  Updates have been made this week to the following sections:

·  Employment at http://www.returntocommonsensesite.com/dp/employment.php


David Coughlin

Hawthorne, NY