Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Officials of the Cincinnati Zoo had an easy, but difficult, choice Saturday. They would have liked to save Harambe, the beloved 17 year old Western Lowland Gorilla, but the life of a three year old boy was at risk. The zoo had no choice. They could not let the boy die. Whatever uproar exists now over the shooting of Harambe is as naught compared to the uproar that would have arisen had they let the gorilla intentionally, or unintentionally, killed the child. Animal rights cannot trump human life, especially that of a child. The child invaded Harambe’s home, such as it is. The gorilla did nothing to entice the three year old to disobey his mother, climb a three foot railing, walkthrough bushes, and then fall 15’ into a shallow moat. The gorilla did nothing wrong. He was acting on instinct. The initial video showed him holding the child. That seemed a warm, loving act. Then the crowd started yelling and screaming. Harambe apparently started to panic. He brusquely dragged the boy through the water. The full video showed it all. The bot’s life was at stake! Even if the mother were neglectful, which I doubt, the boy’s life was at stake. Even if the zoo’s enclosure was inadequate, the boy’s life was at stake. Even if we shouldn’t have zoos, or aquariums, or animal circus acts, the boy’s life was at stake. The zoo had no choice. Even if the 17 year old Harambe was not yet in the prime of his life, the boy’s life was at stake. The zoo had no choice. Even if Michael A. Budkie of Cincinnati’s Stop Animal Exploitation Now is right claiming the zoo violated the Animal Welfare Act, the boy’s life was at stake. The zoo had no choice. Even if almost 100,000 persons signed a “Justice for Harambe” petition in less than 24 hours, the boy’s life was at stake. The police are now investigating the child’s parents for possible criminal violations, presumably “child endangerment.” That investigation will go nowhere. By all witness accounts, the mother was momentarily distracted, the mother was not neglectful. Parents know that in the split second a parent’s attention can be distracted the little “angel” will find mischief. Parents, no matter how careful, cannot watch their children 86,400 seconds a day, every day, every week, every month. The zoo had no choice. No gorilla whisperer existed. Tranquilizers would have taken too long. Harambe was agitated. The zoo had no rational choice. “Justice for Harmbe” sounds like a cry for “justice’ by those with prejudged views about what the outcome should be. That’s not justice. Harambe’s genes will live on. His sperm had been harvested to be placed in a gorilla sperm bank. The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden had no more choice than the san Francisco Zoo on December 25, 2007. Three young men under the influence of marijuana having also drank alcohol and entered the San Francisco Zoo near closing time. 9/11 calls soon came in that a tiger was loose in the Zoo. Tatiana, a 4 year old Siberian Tiger had attacked the three, killing one and clutching a second. The police had no choice but to shoot Tatiana. Although not definitely proven, strong evidence existed that the three youths, aged 17, 19, and 23, had taunted the tiger. Pine cones and sticks were found in the tiger pen. They did not get there through natural forces. Tatiana was apparently upset. The necropsy showed concrete chippings under her paw. She apparently climbed out of the pen. Perhaps the Cincinnati Zoo had an insufficient barrier. The San Francisco Zoo’s moot wall was inadequate. The standards of the American Zoological Association called for a 16.5’ high wall. The Zoo initially claimed the tiger wall was 18’ high. Investigation showed that it was only12.5’ high. The Zoo settled with the surviving brothers for $900,000 and then with the family of the deceased for an undisclosed sum. If the Cincinnati Zoo’s barrier is proven to have been deficient under professional standards, then a settlement might also be reached if the parents bring a lawsuit. Zoos may have to reassess their barriers, but will probably not return to the earlier days when the animals were kept in small metal, brick or concrete cages. Today’s zoos aim to present a more natural environ for the animals. The tradeoff is less safety. Nothing will bring Harambe back, but the boy lives.
Monday, May 30, 2016
Always remember the New York Times motto: “All the News That’s Fit to Print.” The New York Times did a hit piece on Sheldon Adelson last Monday, “Adelson’s Era: Do Billions Erode Press Freedom?” The allegation is that Sheldon Adelson, who purchased the Las Vegas Review-Journal six months ago for $140 million, was interfering with the journalistic integrity of the newspaper. Mr. Adelson made his fortune by tearing down the old Sands Hotel and replacing it with The Venetian and Palazzo in Las Vegas and building a new Sands in Macao. Reporters had been investigating his Macao financial dealings when Mr. Adelson acquired the hometown Press-Journal. Mr. Adelson replaced top editors when he assumed ownership. There has also been the resignations or firings of about 12 reporters and editors, with others looking to leave. New owners usually engage in a degree of housecleaning. Mark Sullivan once said: "A newspaper,as reflects its fundamental character, is one of the least permanent institutions ... It can change ownership overnight." The New York Times problem with Sheldon Adelson is not because he is exercising directly, or indirectly, control over his investment. The underlying reason for the hit piece is because Adelson is a large multi-million dollar backer of Republican candidates and will back Donald Trump. It’s political. The Times has not said anything about the hundreds laid off, fired, or bought out since 2008 by the Times. The Times is silent about the November 2015 firing of two assistant editors with 16 and 20 years of experience. It has not discussed the surprise firing of Jill Abramson, the Times Executive Editor, on May 14, 2014. The New York Times is in no position to argue for journalist integrity after its two hit pieces on Senator Marco Rubio, and its hit piece on Donald Trump a week earlier. The June 5 front page article attacked the Rubios for acquiring 17 speeding tickets over 18 years. Only 4 were by the Senator – 4 tickets in 18 years. The other 13 were by his wife. That is front page news on the New York Times during the Presidential Election? Of course, Secretary Clinton had no speeding tickets during this period because she hasn’t driven a car in 20 years. The chauffeur-driven Hillary professes to represent the people. The paper followed up on June 9 with another front page expose on Senator Rubio. This one stated the Senator was ‘bedeviled by financial problems” with student loans and a mortgage. The New York Times in 2008 failed to report on the student loans of the Obamas and Michele Obama’s 2005 $316,962 salary from the University of Chicago Hospital, the Obamas sweetheart housing deal or Hillary Clinton’s $10,000+ cattle futures profits. “All the News That’s Fit to Print” “All the News the New York Times decides is Fit to Print” The article also claimed that the Senator took out a home equity loan and then purchased a $80,000 on a 24’ luxury speedboat. The Senator had actually purchased an offshore fishing boat after receiving a $800,000 book advance. The New York Times quoted a financial expert who turned out to be an Obama donor. Yesterday’s Sunday New York Times approached the tabloids in its front page article positing that the rise of Donald trump and the conservative movement in Europe signals a return to Fascism. The paper did another hit job on Donald Trump on Sunday, May 15 when it attacked his behavior to women. He allegedly crossed the line in his private conversations with women. The women quoted immediately claimed the paper took their remarks out of context and misquoted them. They had praise for Donald Trump. Be that as it may, the younger trump may have hustled women, but unlike President Clinton, he was never accused of rape, an accusation currently ignored by the Times. This Trump article, the June 9 Rubio financial article, and a 2012 Governor Mitt Romney hit piece were written by the same New York Times reporter, Michael Barbaro. The New York Times should go back to real journalism rather than Tabloid Journalism or Yellow Journalism. The Times said not a word about the student debts of the Obamas, or the sweetheart deal they got on their Chicago house, or Michelle’s $316,962 position at the University of Chicago Hospital in 2005. The Times has not said a word about Hillary Clinton’s lack of speeding tickets because the self-proclaimed candidate of the people hasn’t driven a car in over 20 years. Some of the Times' coverage is sloppy. For example, columnist Gail Collinsin a February 13, 2015 column criticized Governor Scott walker of Wisconsin for teacher layoffs in 2010. Governor Walker did not take office until 2011. The publisher and CEO of the New York Times is Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., commonly referred to as “Pinch” in contrast to his dad known as “Punch.” Pinch is not the smartest publisher in the history of the New York Times. He graduated from Tufts, a good school, after being denied admissions to both Harvard and Columbia, a legacy. The rumors are that his SAT scores were poor. He is presiding over a financially declining newspaper in a declining industry, a difficult challenge. He has to transform the paper in the digital age as traditional circulation and advertising plummets. Google is the future; print is passé. The Wall Street Journal under Rupert Murdock ownership is successfully navigating through the change. Business Week under Bloomberg has been resuscitated. It can be done. But not by Pinch! Instead of broadening the paper’s base, he is shrinking it to the progressive left. It’s no longer “All the News That’s Fit to Print” The New York Times is also no longer “The Newspaper of record.”
Monday, May 23, 2016
Budweiser Was Sold to Inbev of Belgium, and Now Wants to Call Itself America: So Much is American No More
Budweiser Sells Out to the Belgiums; now wants to Call Itself America. Who Else is No Longer American? “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose” Gertrude Stein “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet;” Shakespeare Americans who sold out to foreign companies are no longer American, regardless of what they call themselves. Anheuser Busch, due to incompetent management, sold out to ImBev, a Belgium brewer in 2008. Budweiser, the top selling American beer, wants to rename itself “America” through the November election. Drink a Bud/America while you watch more of America move overseas. America is for sale! Miller Brewing was sold to SAB (South African Breweries) in 2002. AMC Cinemas was acquired IN 2012 By Dalian Wanda Group, a Chinese company. AMC is now in the process of acquiring Cinemark. Smithfield Foods (Armour, Carando’s, Eckrich, Gwaltney’s, and John Morrell) are now part of China’s Shuanghui Group Nestles, the Swiss food company, now owns the following, once American brands Dreyers Edys Haagen Dazs Hot Pockets Lean Cuisine Bottled Waters Arrowhead Calistoga Deer Park Ice Mountain Ozarka Poland Springs Zephyrhills Frozen Foods DiGiorno Pizzas Hot Pockets Lean Cuisine Stouffer’s Tombstone Pizza Other Once American Companies Carnation] Gerber’s Goobers Libby Animal Foods Alpo Friskies Purina Unilever, the British-Dutch food conglomerate Best Foods Cutex Helene Curtis Hellmans Jif Pepsodent Ponds Q-Tips Vaseline Ice Cream Ben and Jerrys Breyers Fudgsicle Klondike Popsicle Sealtest Let us not forget Forbes Magazine, “The Capitalist Tool,” was sold in 2014 to Hong Kong investors. Chatten, manufacturer of ACT, Allegra, Gold Bond, Cortizone-10, Kaopectate, Dexatrim, Aspercreme, Selsum Blue, Nasacort, Unisom was acquired by Sanofi, a French company, in 2010. Henkel of Germany owns Dial Soap Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep are owned by Fiat, an Italian company. Mack Trucks are part of Volvo as are White Trucks and GMC Heavy Duty Trucks. Freightliner is owned by Mercedes Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue are owned by the Canadian Hudson Bay Company CITGO, the oil giant, is owned by the Venezuela National Oil Company British Petroleum (BP) acquired SOHIO, Amoco, and ARCO Michelin, the French tire company, owns B.F. Goodrich and Uniroyal Tires while Firestone is part of the Japanese Bridgestone Tire Company Trader Joes is owned by Aldi of Germany Giant Supermarkets and Stop & Shop are part of Royal Ahold of Sweden Holiday Inn was founded in Memphis, but now answers to British Inter Continental Hotels Caribou Coffee and Churchill’s Chicken are now out of Bahrain Drink Jim Beam, courtesy of Japan’s Suntory 7 Eleven is now also out of Japan Speedy Alka-Seltzer is part of Bayer Aspirin Electrolux of Sweden owns the American appliance makers Frigidaire, Gibson, Kelvinator, Tappan, White-Westinghouse Phillips of France owns Magnavox, Philco and Sylvania LG of South Korea acquired Zenith All American no more. Just don’t call yourself America or American
Thursday, May 19, 2016
Venezuela Puerto Rico Greece Detroit Flint Hartford San Bernardino South Bronx Baltimore California Illinois Veterans Administration ObamaCare TSA Post Office DC Metro Public Education Roads and Highways Deferred Maintenance in our public institutions of Higher Education Slight possibility of free college tuition, but a high probability of no job upon graduation High taxes, low services The more government offers, the less it can deliver The Constitution simply as a historical anomaly Senator Sanders feels the Bern while China, India, Vietnam, and Eastern Europe are turning to capitalism What do the formerly Communist countries know that the Senator Sanders of the 1960’s never learned? Socialism fails. It deadens human initiative It deadens the soul An oppressive bureaucracy Shortages Corruption Socialism impoverishes all but a few politically connected Equality, equality of poverty
Monday, May 16, 2016
President Obama delivered the Commencement Address at Rutgers yesterday. He warned against ignorance: “In politics and in life, ignorance is not a virtue. It’s not cool to not know what you’re talking about. That’s not keeping t real or telling it like it is.” That is rich. The community organizer came into office ignorant of economics, but well versed in Liberation Theology. He is still economically ignorant. An ironic remark by the President or either was ignorant of what was in his ObamaCare bill, or lied to the American people, a far worse trait than ignorance. Remember, “If you like your insurance plan, you can keep it?” Remember, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor?” How ignorant was he of his Stimulus Bill when he told the American people “shovel-ready” jobs were waiting for the Bill, but then a few years later joked “I guess they weren’’t so shovel ready after all.” Which time was he ignorant of his Bill? An ignorance prat from the candidate who said he campaigned in all 57 states with one or two remaining. The President entered office ignorant of foreign policy, but believing America is an oppressor nation. Thus, he began his Administration with an apology tour and will end it in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In between he failed to understand Russia, China, Iran, and ISIS. He unilaterally yanked the anti-missile defense system out of Czechoslovakia and Poland. All he got was Putin was contempt. He is truly ignorant of The Art of the Deal as proven by his negotiations with Cuba and Iran. He gave up much and got so little in return. He also warned a few weeks ago that we need to get along better in politics. Yet he started his Administration by stiff-arming the Republicans on the Stimulus Bill. He unleased Senator Harry Reid, then Senate Majority Leader, to stiff arm the Republicans. How ignorant is a President who refuses to recognize Islamic terrorism for what it is: “Radical Islamic terrorism.” Indeed, he will not use the name because he is ignorant of Islam other than the peaceful Islam he knew as a child in Indonesia. Ignorance and the failure to learn are the hallmarks of this Administration. How ignorant can you be when you are ignorant of your own ignorance?
Saturday, May 14, 2016
Well, I’ve done it. Reached 70 today. Who would have thunk it? It’s time to reflect, and I’ll like to indulge you and me with thoughts about music over 7 decades. I have seen the changes from 78’s to 33 1/3’s, regular LP’s to the revolutionary Hi Fi, and stereo. Along came reel to reel, 8 tracks, cassettes, CDs, DVDs, ITunes, YouTube, and even the partial rebirth of albums. YouTube makes it easy today. Watch one music video, and YouTube throws scores of related ones at you. Some nights I spend hours listening and watching songs on YouTube. It’s addictive. First, we start with the popular music of the 1950’s with such classic songs as “How much is that doggy in the window?” Patty Page, “Mack the Knife (Bobby Darin), “Town Without Pity” (Gene Pitney), Tony Bennett, and Elvis. But then several genres developed in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. First up was the Folk Music boom, led by the Kingston Trio, the Limeliters, the Smothers Brothers, Joan Baez, and Peter, Paul and Mary on AM. FM Radio entered the scene with “underground” music, such as Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, etc., switching into Rock. We had the surfing sound, Jan and Dean and the Beach Boys. Rock emerged, Buddy Holly and the Crickets, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis. Sun Records, Chess Records, MoTown. Then came the British Invasion led by the Beatles Glen Campbell had a string of geographic hits in the late 60’s:” Galveston,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman” John Denver was the star of the 1970’s Elton John soared in the 1970’s Classical and Country were always in the background. Comedians made their names off LP sales. Bubble Gum music never left. The first country western song I remember is still one of the best, Marty Robbins, “El Paso” The juke box at the University of San Francisco was stuck on three songs: Johnny Cash, “Folsom Prison Blues,” Simon and Garfunkel, “Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” and, of course, The Mamas and Papas with “California Dreaming.” Of course, we’ll in California. It’s not a Dream – the Haight-Asbury during the Summer of Love. My favorite San Francisco song therefore is Scott McKenzie’s “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair).” (Watch the YouTube video with the Flower Children). That replaces “San Francisco: Open Your Golder Gate” by Jeanette MacDonald. Tony Bennett’s “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” never did it for me. And yet, the car radio played “California Dreaming” as I drove to Bradley Airport in 1994 to catch a flight to Orange County for a job interview at Chapman University. It was a sign. The juke box at the Northern Freeze in Ada, Ohio kept playing Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s “Four Dead in Ohio.” As for Michigan, there is no great song. Simon and Garfunkel in “America” sang “It took four days to hitchhike from Saginaw.” A sad song for Michigan is Golden Lightfoot’s “Black Day in July,” about the riots in Detroit Speaking of Michigan, John Phillips Souza once said Michigan’s “The Victors” was the greatest college fight song. I’m biased so I agree, but the Notre Dame Fight song and USC’s Fight On are right up there. I had plenty of time to catch the music of the time, as well as complete my dissertation, between 1972 and 1975 when I taught at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio. I could stack the turntable with LP’s. So here’s my list. It is highly personal and difficult. There were so many great musicians and music that it’s tough to decide. Most beautiful voice with a great song: Judy Collins and “Amazing Grace” A modern runner up to Judy Collins would be Celtic Woman’s “Amazing Grace” on their Songs from the Heart Live Album Best album, Carol King, Tapestry Best retro soundtrack, Forrest Gump The song which touches me after my personal diaspora from San Francisco was Neil Diamond’s “I Am, I Said:” “L.A.’s fine, but it ain’t home, New York’s home, but it ain’t mine no more.” I’m back in California, but the OC is not San Francisco. Political song for all ages: The Who, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” Best IRS song, George Harrison, “The Tax Man” Best environmental song: Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi, “They paved paradise to put up a parking lot,” was a major hit, but I favor John Prine’s “Paradise,” dealing with Peabody Coal’s strip mining of Paradise, Kentucky. Randy Newman’s “Burn On, Big River, Burn On’ is worth listening to about the Cuyahoga River catching on fire. Best idealistic song, John Lennon, “Imagine” Best railroad song: Arlo Guthrie’s “City of New Orleans,” was also a big hit, but my favorite is Gordon Lightfoot’s “Canadian Railroad Trilogy” Best airplane song, Peter, Paul and Mary, “Leaving on a Jet Plane” or Gordon Lightfoot, “Early Morning Rain” Best anti-war song, The Kingston Trio, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” Best Canadian commentary, The Guess Who, “American Woman” Best New Orleans Song: Eric Burdon and the Animals, “The House of the Rising Sun” I once found a souvenir shop named The House of the Rising Sun on Bourbon Street) Best one hit wonder, Zager & Evans, “In the Year 2525” Best song of seduction, Limeliters, “Have Some Madeira, M’ Dear?” Best weather song, The Beatles, “Here Comes the Sun” Most memorable concert: The Allman Brothers at the Lenox Music Inn (since defunct) in August 1979 - my first date with my wife Apocalyptical song, Barry McGuire, “The Eve of Destruction” Alaska song, Johnny Horton, “North to Alaska” Colorado song, John Denver, “Rocky Mountain High” Massachusetts song: The Bee Gees, “Massachusetts” New York, Frank Sinatra, “New York, New York” Tacoma, Washington, no song, but watch the video on Galloping Gertie Washington State, Woodie Guthrie, “Roll On, Columbia, Roll On” West Virginia, John Denver, “Take Me Home Country Roads” Southern California song, Albert Hammond, “It Never Rains in Sunny Southern California” Food song, Larry Groce, “Junk Food, Junkie” Best Elvis song: “In the Ghetto” (just as poignant today) My favorite Woody Guthrie tune, “This Land is Your Land” Pete Seeger’s greatest, “Turn, Turn, Turn” Favorite Rolling Stones song, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” Most cryptic song, Don McLean “American Pie” Song for women, Helen Reddy, “I Am Woman” Favorite Beach Boys Song: “California Saga” Favorite Woodie Guthrie song, “This Land is Your Land” Song I cited twice in law review articles, Simon and Garfunkel, “The Sound of Silence” – “People hearing without listening” Theme songs that define and make a movie: The first I remember is Tex Ritter, “Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin’,” in High Noon. Others are the Theme from the Magnificent Seven, which also became the song of the Marlboro Man commercials (check the videos) Vangelis for “Chariots of Fire.” Check out the combined “Chariots of Slumdog” on YouTube Great movie songs at the end of the movie: “Up Where We Belong” by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes in An Officer and a Gentleman, and Irene Cara’s “What a Feeling” in Flashdance Favorite Country-Western videos: “Even God-Fearin’ Women Get the Blues” and Independence Day” by Martini McBride and “How Do You Like Me Now” by Toby Keith. Best group: The Beatles Best duo: Simon and Garfunkel Favorite Canadian singer: Gordon Lightfoot Thanks for indulging me.
Monday, May 9, 2016
Massachusetts wants to Create a New Eastern Timber Rattlesnake island The world has some amazing islands. We have the explosive Bikini Island, which is still too radioactive for human habitation. Then there’ the Farallon Islands 25 miles off san Francisco. The Farallons served as a nuclear waste dump decades ago and now host giant, mutant sponges. Then there’s Rat Island, Goat Island, Deer Island, and the Canary Islands, not to mention Easter and Christmas Islands. Fiji Island gives us high priced water. The Pacific also has Pitcairn Island, refuge of Fletcher Christian and the other mutineers on Captain Bligh’s Bounty. Two more islands of mention are IIha de Queimada Grande, the home to snakes so poisonous that the Brazil Navy has ruled it off limits to humans, and Deer Island, the remote refuge of Yale’s Skull and Bones, who are not on Skull Island. Massachusetts thinks America needs a Eastern Rattlesnake Island. The Eastern Timber rattlesnake is on the endangered species list. It has disappeared from Maine and Rhode Island, except in a Rhode Island Zoo where baby rattlers are being bred for Massachusetts. Its numbers have been shrinking in Massachusetts to 200 in five populations. The Commonwealth’s Division of Fisheries and Wildlife has been clandestinely studying for two years a means to repopulate Massachusetts with poisonous snakes. The idea of spending money to restore rattlesnake populations explains why they planned in secret. They sprang their plan on the public a few months ago. The proposal is to introduce the Rhode Island vipers as a colony on Mt. Zion Island in Quabbin Reservoir in Western Massachusetts. Only Massachusetts can move the viper from the Garden of Eden to Mt. Zion. Where is Quabbln? It’s near Ware. Ware is where. There, I’ve wanted to say that for decades. Ware is the gateway to Quabbin and the teeming metropolis of Belchertown. The locals are unhappy. The not-so-brilliant bureaucrats figure the rattlers will remain isolated on an island, closed to humans. Three flaws exist with the proposal. First, the island is not an island; a causeway connects it to the mainland. The off-limits island has porta johns on it for the humans who are on/not on the island. Humans don’t always read No Trespassing signs while snakes don’t read at all. Second, rattlesnakes can, and will, swim to land for food and mating purposes. Once they’ve been to Ware and Belchertown, they won’t go back. Third, Quabbin periodically incurs a drought. Lower water levels will facilitate the trip to the mainland. The agency says the snakes will have GPS trackers and will be apprehended if they try to flee the Island, just like Patrick McGoohan as The Prisoner five decades ago. Quabbin is an artificial lake created in the 1930’s to supply water to Boston 90 miles east. The state has been successful in recent decades with populating Quabbin with breeding pairs of bald eagles. The eagles are salivating at their beaks. Rattlesnakes are a bald eagle delicacy. The snakes like to feast on white footed mice and eastern chip monks. Say goodbye to Chip and Dale, who will become munchies to crotalus horridus. Crotalus horridus, the scientific name for the eastern rattler seems to say it all. The phrase looks like “horrible creature.” Massachusetts wants the rattlesnake colonies to rival in significance and fame its earlier colonies of Pilgrims and Puritans. The Tea Party should support introducing Rhode Island vipers into Massachusetts because the Tea Party’s preferred flag is the famous 1775 Gadsden “DON’T TREAD ON ME” flag. The eastern timber rattler is the coiled snake on the flag. Don’t tread on an eastern timber rattlesnake. Many voters would prefer planting the snake colony 90 miles east in the Statehouse. Let the vipers mix with their cousins, the legislators. The Legislature will hold a public hearing at 11:00am tomorrow in nearby Athol (sometimes pronounced with a Boston accent as “Asshole”)
Saturday’s lead in the New York Times was “Rift Grows Wide as Republicans Abandon Trump,” followed by Sunday’s lead “G.O.P. Unravels as Party Faces Trump Takeover.” Conservative columnists, such as Ross Douthat of the New York Times and Max Boot of the Los Angeles Times denounced Donald Trump. Max Boot’s column “The Republican Party is Dead,” called Trump an “ignorant demagogue.” Bill Kristol, co-founder of the Weekly Standard and prominent neo-con, has been steadfast against Trump. He was rumored a few days ago to have approached Governor Romney about a third party candidacy. The Governor said no, but also made it clear he will not vote for the nominee. Neither will Senator Lindsay Graham nor Governor Jeb Bush, who said his victorious rival “lacked the temperament or strength of character” to be President. The conservative Republican establishment is apoplectic about Donald Trump for two reasons First, he hammered them and their preferred candidates in the campaign. Second, he is not a Reagan conservative, the current orthodoxy of the Republican Party. Donald Trump can be described either as a traditional moderate Northeast Republican or by the opprobrium “Rhino.’ Donald Trump is a fiscal conservative and social libertarian. The mainstream media is fanning the flames of Republican discontent. They want Donald Trump and the Republican Party to implode. Yet, to paraphrase Mark Twain: “The reports of the GOP’s death are greatly exaggerated.” The Republican Party has survived existential threats before. The Great Depression weakened it for decades. The 1932 and 1934 elections were devastating to the G.O.P. The 1933 Congress had 59 Democratic Senators compared to 36 Republicans and the House of Representatives was 313 Democrats and 117 Republicans. 1935 was even more Democratic: 69 Senators and 322 Representatives. 1937 was up to 75 Democratic Senators and only 17 Republicans and 323 Democratic Representatives versus 89 Republicans. The Republicans rebuilt their strength over time. Then came the 1964 nomination of Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona, a revolt against the eastern establishment. The LBJ landslide and Goldwater debacle saw the Democrats reap a 68-32 majority in the Senate and 295-140 in the House. Watergate and President Nixon’s resignation was another blowout. The Democratic majorities in 1975 were 61-37 in the Senate and 291-144 in the House. The G.O.P. survived, as it will survive this year’s election. The nation needs two political parties as a balance. Donald Trump’s election victories are not a voter’s rejection of conservatism, as assumed by commentators, but a rejection of the conservative leadership in Washington. They elected a Republican House of Representatives in 2010 and a Republican Congress in 2014. Yet, the Republicans did little to stop the Obama agenda. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner were opposed to vigorously using the power of the purse to rein in the President. They remembered the shellacking they got from the media in the 1995-96 shutdowns during the Clinton Administration. The Republicans essentially lost the battle and were blamed by the public for the shutdowns. The same result occurred in the 15 day shutdown in October 2013 during the Obama Administration. The Congressional leaders signaled they would not shut the government down again. Nor would they use the debt ceiling authorizations to crimp the Administration’s actions. Government spending escalated, government employment increased, taxes went up, but the middle class and blue collar workers suffered. The enactment of ObamaCare was the catalyst for the creation of the Tea Party. Former Senator Robert Bennett of Utah passed away last week. He served 18 years in the Senate. The distinguished senator was denied reelection in 2010 by the Tea Party, being replaced by Mike Lee. Senator Bennett’s main sin was to vote for TARP, the Troubled Asset Relief Plan of 2008, reviled by conservatives. Virginia’s Republican Congressman Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader, was defeated for reelection in the Republican primary in June 2014 by a Tea Party candidate. The Congressional leaders did not heed the lessons from these momentous defeats. They viewed the Tea Party as kooks, who cost the Republicans Several Senate seats and forced Congress into the unsuccessful government shutdown in 2013. The base of the GOP saw the Republican Congress do nothing to rein in ObamaCare, stop the Iran deal, reduce government spending, block the fast track trade bill, check the decline of the United States military, enforce the immigration laws and close the border, and contain Obama’s feckless foreign policy. They saw the Obama Administration and the Supreme Court trashing traditional values while harassing the nation’s police. The Republicans couldn’t even stop the Obama Administration’s relentless War on Coal, which has cost hundreds of thousands coal miners and coal industry associated workers workers their jobs while bankrupting the major coal companies. They see Wall Street prosper while Main Street, themselves, suffers. They see and feel themselves and the United States in decline. No wonder they rejected the insiders. They want leadership. Donald Trump spoke for them. They needed a non-conservative billionaire from New York to speak for them. They knew who they voted for and why. As I blogged on February 19, 2016, it’s Howard Beale in the movie Network: “I’m mad as hell, and I won’t take this anymore.” Donald Trump may not win in November. It may be a blowout on the scales of 1964. (Remember though that Richard Nixon was elected President in 1968 and Ronald Reagan, an actor, rose out of the Goldwater Campaign.) The Party’s base has spoken. Many of the conservative leaders are going through the four stages of grief, albeit at different speeds: Denial, Depression, Anger, and Acceptance. Senator Cruz’ people are still in denial, blaming his defeat on Senator Rubio not agreeing before the Florida Primary to be Senator Cruz’ running mate as VEEP and Governor Kasich for not providing more help in Indiana. Several are depressed while others are angry. The cry is for unity. House Speaker Paul Ryan has said he is not yet ready to endorse Donald Trump for President. The two are scheduled to meet next week. Several commentators and politicians are saying Trump will have to give in on a lot of issues to unify the party. They forget that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the biggest unifier of the Republican Party. Give in to the pressure. Donald Trump’s response is the same as Barack Obama’s: “I won.” Donald Trump has probably dusted off a song from the singer from Hoboken, New Jersey, across the river from New York: “I did it my way” by Frank Sinatra. The Party will unify behind Donald Trump. The naysayers have no alternative.
Saturday, May 7, 2016
We have a 67 year old white woman running against a 69 year old white male in the age of the diverse Millennials. Go Figure We have a New York billionaire running against an Illinois/Arkansas/D.C./New York multi-millionaire at a time when the Democratic Party is harping on inequality. Go figure The two parties will nominate the two least popular contestants in their parties and in America. Go figure If these were normal times Secretary Clinton would trounce Donald Trump in November. But it’s not. If these were normal times, Donald trump would not be the Republican nominee for President. But he is. If these were normal times, the candidate with the largest campaign chest would have won, but Governor Jeb Bush lost. If these were normal times, Republicans would have voted for a true, dyed in the wool conservative. But they didn’t. These are not normal times. The pundits have been uniformly wrong so far. So have I. Donald Trump, probably given the least chance a year ago of winning the nomination, defeated 14 experienced politicians and two eminent outsiders. It wasn’t close. He’s currently trailing Secretary Clinton by 14% in recent polls. The media has him splitting apart the Republican Party, costing them control of the House, Senate, and the Supreme Court. Democrats are salivating at defeating the bombastic, reality TV star, apprentice politician. Both Governor Pat Brown and President Jimmy Carter salivated at running against Ronald Reagan, an actor. Democrats are already running ads featuring Trump’s sexist, racist, anti-Mexican, anti-Muslim, misogynist rants. Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is publicly trashing him. It looks ominous for Trump and the Republicans. Looks can be deceiving. Whatever else you can say about Donald Trump, he’s genuine. You know where he is coming from. Secretary Clinton is an inveterate liar, who, when she gets off her scripted focus group talking points, says incredibly stupid and arrogant statements. She will try to stay on focus with her vetted talking points, such as “loose cannon” and “too big a risk.” Whatever else you can say about Donald Trump, he has created jobs, which you cannot say about the Clintons. Senator Cruz said Donald Trump was a serial philanderer. So is President Clinton, aka “Slick Willie”, whose wife, Hillary, enabled him by mounting a crusade against “Bimbo Eruptions.” This campaign promises to be exceedingly negative. The negatives are so high on both sides that this campaign will set a record for negativity. The onslaught of negative ads did not stop Trump in the primaries, but they will be effective in the general election rallying the non-Republican groups Trump insulted. The Hispanic vote, at least the non-Cuban Hispanic vote, is expected to be overwhelmingly against Donald Trump. And yet, maybe not, the Hispanics who have been here for decades are not necessarily allied with the recent immigrants who have illegally crossed the border and are costing the American Hispanics jobs. 28% of the Hispanic Americans voted 22 years ago ago in favor of California’s anti-immigrant Prop 187. Secretary Clinton has another advantage. She has built a large political machine for this election campaign, including $5 million on data mining, the successful technique used by President Obama in his reelection campaign four years ago. Donald Trump ran his primary campaign on the cuff, out-organized and out-spent by his primary opponents That won’t win it in the November election.. Governor Clinton won both Presidential elections by a plurality – not a majority due to the third party campaign by Ross Perot, who hated President Bush President George H. W. Bush did not campaign until the traditional Labor Day. In the meantime Governor Clinton painted him as an out-of-touch elitist. President Bush then ran an ineffectual campaign. His biggest problem was breaching his "No New Taxes" pledge to the American people. President George H. W. Bush apparently ran out of a spirit of noblesse oblige. Governor Clinton ran out of raw ambition. Bush 41's son, President George W. Bush also let Democrats paint him as ineffectual. First, accusing him of incompetence in response to Katrina. He stayed silent eventhough Louisiana’s Governor Blanco and New Orleans’ Mayor Ray Nagin, both Democrats, were at fault in not evacuating the City prior to the Hurricane. He did not response when they accused his Administration, maybe Vice President Dick Chaney, of leaking Valerie Plame’s clandestine identity as a CIA agent. He was accused of lying to start the war in Iraq for Iraq’s oil. Again, President Bush stayed quiet. Then the economy collapsed. Senator McCain was ineffectual against Senator Obama in 2008. Senator Obama won in a landslide. Governor Romney let the Obama campaign paint him as a callous plutocrat four years ago. He had no response. Donald trump will not stay silent as the Democrats attempt to paint him. He has already attacked Senator warren for her false claims to be ab American Indian to take advantage of affirmative action at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Harvard Law School. She's also been caught plagiarizing. He will give better than he receives. The media boosted Donald Trump during the primary season because of the excitement and entertainment value. The media will quickly turn on him. They want Secretary Clinton to be President. The anti-Trump demonstrations, which sometimes become confrontational may create a backlash for the candidate. One final twist in the election is Hillary’s emails. Have no fear, she will not be indicted. President Obama has already stated she lacked intent. The statute doesn’t require intent. General Petraeus lacked intent, but he had to plead guilty. Attorney General Lynch will not arrest or indict Hillary Clinton or her aides. Democrats figure the electoral map will give Secretary Clinton the election. The Washington Post on May 2 posted a map which showed from 1992 to 2012, twenty years of six Presidential elections, 18 states and the District of Columbia voted for the Democratic candidate every time for a total of 242 electoral votes. Add Florida’s 29 electoral votes and the Democratic candidate will have the winning 271 votes. The 18 states are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin. Only 13 states with 102 electoral votes consistently voted Republican. Donald Trump either has to sweep all the other states or wield a few of the Rust Belt states, such as Wisconsin, away from the Democrats. Thus the overall picture looks bad for the Donald. The two parties will nominate the two least popular candidates in their parties and the nation as their candidate. Go figure. Figure the election to get down and dirty. We will probably see these romp organizations during the campaign: Democrats for Trump and Republicans for Hillary. A subtle factor is that Donald Trump is a fresh breeze while Hillary Clinton is a political retread. Donald Trump’s prospects do not appear good at this point in the election cycle. That means he has the Democrats right where he wants them.
Friday, May 6, 2016
Sixteen men and one woman threw themselves into the Republican race for the Presidency: 4 current and 5 past governors, 4 current and one former Senators, and 3 outsiders. Two of the Republican scrum had previously won the Iowa caucuses (Huckabee and Santorum). The Governors were all proven fiscal conservatives with excellence performance in office. It was open season since neither party had a primary. Thus, they all jumped in. One of the 17 would distinguish and separate himself or herself from the scrum. Who would it be? The Governors had excellent potential as President. Early favorites a year ago were Governors Chris Christy and Scott Walker. Governor JEB Bush had the money and name. Dr. Ben Carson was the outsider with presence. He briefly led the polls. Former Governors Jim Gilmore of Virginia and George Pataki of New York had been out of office so long that they never got any traction. They had nothing to lose by throwing their hats into the ring. They must have thought that lightning could strike in a bottle. It did, but it was Donald Trump’s bottle, or taco bowl. Governor Perry could not recover from his poor performance four years earlier. Both Governor Huckabee and Senator Santorum lost out on their moments years earlier. Governor Jindal never got traction, not even with his announcement. He was overshadowed by the others. Governor Walker was reported to have organized the best ground game in Iowa, but he dropped out before the Iowa Caucus. Dr. Carson, the voice of reasoned discourse, was unprepared on security issues when terrorism blew up in Europe and San Bernardino. Carly Fiorina stood out in the undercard debates. She was well prepared and articulate. The commentators and pundits were impressed. She never connected. Senator Graham never emerged from the undercard, not even winning South Carolina, his home state. The New York Times kept trashing Senator Rubio in front page “exposes.” That didn’t hurt him with Republican voters, but Governor Bush and PAC supporters spent millions trying to take him down. Senator Cruz piled on and Governor Christy skewered Senator Rubio, who appeared “not quite ready for prime time.” Both Governors Bush and Christy lost the Florida Primary, and all three soon dropped out Senator Cruz hung on.. Governor Christy was riding high pre-season, but Bridgegate crippled his image. He also had the infamous hug with President Obama draped around his neck. Governor Bush based his campaign on being the voice of reason, hoping the conservatives would eviscerate each other, and he would be the sane voice standing at the end. The voters wanted red meat this election cycle. In addition, voters were tired of the “Bush name.” The Governor was the right person at the wrong time. Senator Cruz kept asking the other contestants to drop out so that he could go one-on-one (I would say mano a mano, but the Senator doesn’t speak Spanish). He got his wish, but Donald Trump won over 50% of the vote in the seven primaries since Senator Cruz’s large win in Wisconsin. Senator Cruz ran as an outsider, but he was relying on insider rules to win delegates on the second ballot. Governor Kasich was hoping to win on the third ballot. Those are not winning strategies, but it was all they had. I like Governor Kasich, but eating a New York Pizza with a fork in New York just won’t cut it. Senator Cruz called a basketball rim a "ring" in Indiana. That's not a winning shot! Senator Cruz’ strategy was to run as an outsider, emphasizing all the traditional conservative planks and marshaling the Evangelical vote in Iowa and the subsequent Southern primaries. The theory was sweep Iowa and the South, and gather such momentum as to unbeatable. Even Evangelicals vote for the economy. President Clinton was right: “It’s the economy, stupid!” Senator Cruz’ South Carolina jibe about Trump and his “New York values” killed his campaign in New York and the other northeast primaries. His acerbic personality also hurt his campaign. Trump’s strategy was simple: 1) Be a provocateur. Grab the media attention. His outrageous statements grabbed attention. They were Shocking! Shocking! Shocking! The media loved it. They gave him so much free air time that he sucked the oxygen out of the air. Most of the candidates could not get their message across. Even JEB Bush’s $100 million plus was wasted in misdirected ads. By the time his opponents caught on, it was too late. Donald Trump had distinguished and separated himself from the Republican scrum. He was crazy like a fox! Donald Trump understood better than any of the other candidates the angry mood of Republican and independent voters. His second strategy was to emphasize three compelling tenets: immigration, the economy, and security. Build the wall, bring jobs back, and restore faith in America. Over and over! His third stratagem was to show voters he was tough. No shibboleths! No political correctness! Fourth, hit back when attacked, and even before! Donald Trump has New York values – he’s a tough New York street fighter.
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Indiana ended yesterday Senator Cruz’s year-long/lifetime quest for the Presidency, at least this year. He’s still young. Four years is a short time in politics. Vice President Nixon was defeated by Senator Kennedy in 1960, but won the Presidency in 1968. Governor Reagan narrowly lost the 1976 Republican nomination to President Ford, but won the election in 1980. Senator Cruz is still young, highly ambitious, and driven. He can study and learn from his defeat this year and try again in the future. He probably knew his campaign was nearing the end when he remarked earlier in the week that he would not remain in the race if there was no longer a viable means of receiving the nomination. His polling must have told him it was hopeless. It was a very humbling, humiliating, and inconceivable realization for the Senator. Thus, he got engaged in a down and dirty exchange with Donald Trump, a candidate just as ambitious as him. His emotions boiled up. The well-organized, tightly wound campaign lost control. Donald Trump referred to an article in the National Inquirer, which showed a man who looked like Rafael Cruz, Ted Cruz’s father, talking with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the shooting. The publisher of the Inquirer is a strong supporter of Donald Trump. Senator Cruz has vigorously denied the photo is of his father Donald Trump said in a Fox interview: “His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being, you know, shot.” He added “I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous. What is this, right, prior to his being shot – and nobody brings it up.” He asked the rhetorical question: “What was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death, before the shooting?” The innuendo, of course, being that Rafael Cruz was involved somehow in the assassination of President Kennedy. Senator Cruz has been very protective of his family during the campaign. He could have simply, strongly again denied the photo was of his father. Instead, he emotionally let it all out. He called Donald Trump a “serial philanderer,” a “pathological liar,” “utterly immoral,” a “bully,” and a “narcissist at a level I don’t think the country’s ever seen.” He quoted Donald Trump from an appearance on the Howard Stern Show decades ago when Donald Trump described his own battle with venereal disease as his own, personal Vietnam. The Cruz Campaign spokeswoman, Catherine Frazier, responded on a higher note: “We are campaigning on jobs, freedom, and security while Trump campaigns on false tabloid garbage ….” She added ‘Trump … is detached from reality, and his false, meaningless comments every day indicate his desperation to get attention and willingness to say anything to do so,” The Trump Campaign responded by calling the Senator “unhinged” and “desperate.” The rhetoric had gotten down and dirty. The Senator should have learned by now that you cannot win a battle of insults with Donald Trump. He should have also learned that befriending Trump (“My friend”) earlier in the campaign would not deter an ambitious Trump from turning on him. Senator Cruz, who self-proclaimed himself an outsider, mastered the insider rules of convention delegates, hoping to win a second ballot nomination if Trump fell short on the first ballot. The outsider/insider candidate lost to the true outsider. It was done and out 10 seconds after the polls closed in Indiana.
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Stacy Pincus is the lead plaintiff in a $5 million lawsuit filed in Chicago against Starbucks for consumer fraud. The allegation is that Starbucks places too much ice and too little tea in its iced tea, thereby engaging in an act of consumer fraud. Stacy is trolling for additional plaintiffs who have bought an iced tea from Starbucks in the past ten years. That would be most of America. Overcharged by Starbucks? That would be most of America. We all know that Starbucks overcharges. To say Starbucks and overcharging in the same sentence is to engage in an act of redundancy. Starbucks could serve as the dictionary definition of overcharging. The complaint alleges the iced tea was Starbucks’ most profitable product in 201. They charge more for it than hot drinks, and provide less fluid. Ice is cheaper than tea. It’s profitable because consumers want to buy it. Take coffee, chocolate, and milk, throw in fancy words, such as expresso, latte, Frappuccino, trenta, grande, and venti, served by baristas, you have the recipe to overcharge. Don’t call it a latte. Slowly call it “iced carmelized honey latte,” and watch the dollars roll in. It’s not generic lemonade. It’s overpriced “teavana mango black tea lemonade.” The complaint alleges iced tea was Starbucks’ most profitable product in 2014. They charge more for it than hot drinks, and provide less fluid. Ice is cheaper than tea. The venti 24oz. cup has three black lines in it. The highest is at the 14 ounce mark. Baristas are trained to fill the venti to the 14oz. mark and then add ice to the rest. Simple divisions tells us that 58.3333% of the pre-melt iced tea is tea. That certainly beats most restaurants. If Starbucks is liable for excessive ice, then so too is almost every restaurant in America. They make their profit from beverage sales. Ask for a soda, and it’s mostly ice. The solution is simple. Just ask for “no ice,” “hold the ice,” or “easy on the ice.” The wait staff will comply. Except for one restaurant in Seattle decades ago which charged me extra for no ice. I never went back to that restaurant. Solution 2 is just as simple as Solution One. Send the overpriced beverage back and ask for less ice. Starbucks lets unsatisfied customers return their food and beverages. My preferred solution is a third option. Don’t go to Starbucks unless it’s the only breakfast place open on the road in the early morning. Legally, there is a duty to mitigate damages once a wrong has occurred. Sending it back for a less iced replacement is an easy way to mitigate damages. Of course, iced tea without ice is an oxymoron. Starbucks stated: “Our customers understand and expect that ice is an essential component of an ‘iced beverage.’” Stacy may be the plaintiff, but I seriously doubt that she fantasized while slowly sipping her ice cold ice at Starbucks the following phrases: breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, and fraud. These causes of action in the complaint came from her lawyer Steven Hart of the Chicago class action law firm of Hart, McLaughlin & Eldridge. This looks like one of those class action lawsuits in which the lawyers will garner at least $1 million in fees, and the class member victims, a coupon for Fifty Cents.
Mayor Bloomberg's Saturday Commencement Speech at Michigan is a Call to All for Tolerance and Openness on the College Campus
University trustees and administrators should watch or read Mayor Bloomberg’s Commencement Address last Saturday morning at the University of Michigan. Most commencement speeches are not memorable. His August 30, 2016 presentation should be one for the ages. Mayor Bloomberg’s premise is that “An open mind is the most valuable asset you can possess.” He warned against demagogues in politics and campus intolerance. The political independent cautioned “Neither party has a monopoly on good ideas, and each demonizes the other unfairly and dishonestly.” He reminded us of past demagogues of the past, Huey Long, Father Coughlin, Senator Joseph McCarthy, Governor George Wallace, and Pat Buchanan. He then mentioned the current demagoguery against Mexicans and Muslims on one side of the partisan divide and Wall Street and the wealthy on the other. He mentioned no current names, but we can fill in the blanks. He recognized “the fact that some university boards and administrators now bow to pressure and shield students from … ideas through ‘safe spaces,’ ‘code words,’ and ‘trigger warnings’ is, in my view, a terrible mistake.” Let me add that much of the problem often revolves around supine administrators and trustees who readily accede to the protestor’s demands, thereby encouraging them. He added “A microaggression is exactly that – micro. And in a macro sense the most dangerous place on a college campus is a so-called ‘safe space,’ because it creates a false impression that we can isolate ourselves from those who hold different views.” This statement received scattered boos and even epithets from some of the attendees - the ones most intolerant of free speech. I have referred to these speech intolerant administrators, faculty, and students as “Academic Neanderthals.” (See May 3, 2014 blog: “Condoleezza Rice, Rutgers, Brandeis, and the Intolerance of the (Academic) Left”). Mayor Bloomberg has not had a recent epiphany. He similarly spoke out two years ago at the Harvard Commencement about liberals silencing voices “deemed politically objectionable.” He was upset about the number of commencement speakers who either withdrew because of opposition or had their invitations withdrawn due to the pressure from leftist faculty and students. He spoke of Senator McCarthy’s Red Scare of the 1950’s, but recognized: “Today, on many college campuses, it is liberals trying to repress conservative ideas, even as conservative faculty members are at risk of becoming an endangered species.” He spoke out at Harvard against the developing trend of Liberals silencing voices they deem “politically objectionable. The purpose of college is to educate and open the mind, not to indoctrinate and close the mind Mayor Bloomberg reminded us that “the whole purpose of college is to learn how to deal with difficult situations, not to run away from them.” Mayor Bloomberg acknowledged the change from an industrial society to an informational society. Thus, “The most useful knowledge that you leave here with today has nothing to do with your major. It’s about how to study, cooperate, listen carefully, think critically, and resolve conflicts through reason. Those are the most important skills in the working world, and it is why colleges have always exposed students to challenging and uncomfortable ideas.” Trustees, Regents, Curators, Visitors, Presidents, Chancellors, Provosts, and Deans, Heed Mayor Bloomberg’s words!
Monday, May 2, 2016
Professor Melissa Click Just Doesn't Get It; She Was Not Fired at the University of Missouri for Being a White Lady
Professor Melissa Click was close to success at the University of Missouri. She had been recommended for tenure, the grant of which by the Missouri Board of Curators would probably be a formality. Instead, the Board fired her on February 24, 2016. She knows what happened, but doesn’t yet comprehend it. Professor Click became the public face of the demonstrations at the University of Missouri. She had supported the protestors at Homecoming and later in the November demonstrations. She had every legal right to do so. She provided assistance to them at the November demonstrations, including organizing supplies for the demonstrators. She had every right to do so. She had every right to confront a student photographer at the protest. She also had every right to argue with him. What she did not have a right to do was grab his camera and yell for muscle to remove the photographer. She crossed the line between protected speech and unprotected, illegal action. Her acts were captured on video, which went viral. The photo of her frenzied face went viral. Her career went down the tubes at that point She had become the poster child of the demonstrations. It then turned out that at the Homecoming demonstrations, she got in the face of a police officer who was trying to clear the streets. She screamed at him: “Get your [expletive deleted] hands off me.” She asked in a letter to the editor in the Washington Post on March 17, 2016: “What would our world be like if no one ever took a chance?” She failed to understand the impulse to shame those “whose best intentions unfortunately result in imperfect actions.” Professor Click should have remembered the old adage that “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” Actions have consequences. Actions even in the liberal ivy towers of academe have consequences outside the Academy. Legislatures have the power of the purse over public universities. The demonstrations and her acts went national. A backlash resulted. Missouri will be down about 1500 incoming students next fall. Applications, both by out of state students and African American students, are down sharply. It’s looking at a $32 million gap. Contributions are not going to fill that gap with the level of discontent by the alumni, parents, and the general public. Contributions, both to the academics and athletics, have plummeted. The University announced that there will be no merit increases this year for the faculty. New hires across the board will be kept to a minimum The demonstrators won nothing, except for the resignations of the University President and Chancellor. Missouri has been a purple state, but it is swinging conservative. The backlash is not just about the University, but also the riots in Ferguson. The conservative Republican Legislature threatened to cut funding to the University. She said in a lengthy article in the April 24, 2016 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education: “This is all about racial politics. I’m a white lady. I’m an easy target.” Does she really believe that she was terminated because she was a “white lady?” Does she not realize how absurd that statement is? That she was fired because she was white on a campus accused of discriminating against Blacks?” She was fired because she threatened violence against a student photographer. She was fired because she confronted a police officer doing his job. She was in Missouri. That didn’t help her case. She existed in a academic cocoon where progressive, if not radical, politics are accepted as the norm. Conservative voices often stay in the academic closet. Faculty and student soften chill the free exercise of speech by silencing conservative voices, even as commencement speakers. That is all too often the norm. But a faculty member threatening violence against a student is unacceptable. Ward Churchill and Steven Salaita paid for their words. She paid for her acts. Maybe her due process rights were violated by the University of Missouri in how they terminated her. Maybe, but her career is over at Missouri. It will be interesting to see if she lands a position at another major university.