Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I Was Wrong

I was wrong. In my Fearless Forecast of October 30 I predicted that the polls were underestimating the enthusiasm of the Tea Party movement. The November 2 elections included some truly historic wins for the Tea Party movement, but the public opinion polling overestimated rather than underestimated the enthusiasm.

The best and most telling example of this was Sharon Angle's loss to Harry Reid in Nevada. The polls right up until election day had Angle ahead by several points, but when all the votes were counted Reid won by 50.6 to 44.2. The same sort of thing happened in Pennsylvania where the last polls showed Pat Toomey ahead by five points and he only won by two.

Just like they say about real estate where the three most important things are location, location, location, in politics the three most important things are turnout, turnout, turnout.

I fear that I got so caught up in my enthusiasm for the Tea Party movement that I let it cloud my judgment. I suspect that the idea that my favorite candidates would do even better than the polls predicted was a bad case of wishful thinking.

This isn't the first time I've been wrong. I recall once back in 1957..., but then that's another story.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Elections 2010 - A Fearless Forecast

Here it is just three days before the 2010 general elections and I feel as if I have some sort of insight into the results. If I wait until after the election to write about this, it might seem like 20-20 hindsight, so I'll put it out there now.

I believe that there are going to be some big surprises in the November 2, elections. I say that because I don't believe that the polling companies are capable of dealing with the intensity of mood. When I studied this years ago we referred to it as "salience." The idea at the time was that some people would agree or disagree on an issue or candidate, but the strength of their conviction was what really mattered.

It is my sense of things that the uprising Tea Party rebellion has a great deal more intensity than is being measured in the polls so that if a Tea Party candidate is behind by five, or even slightly more than five, percent in the polls going into election day they have an excellent chance of winning. By the same token, Tea Party candidates that are running even will win by about five percent and those that are in the lead will win by even greater numbers.

I plan to look carefully at this after election day and will report the success or failure of this analysis.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Tougher Row to Hoe

I have always thought that it was important to contribute to campaigns of candidates for public office I support. I'm not wealthy. My contributions are relatively small.

I believe that conservatives should make a special effort to support minority candidates who strongly uphold conservative values. For a variety of reasons, these candidates have a tougher row to hoe.

I have listed below the names and web pages of candidates in this category I have supported this year. I do this not to boast but to urge you to join me in providing this sort of support.

Ryan Frazier (Ryan is a Tea Party member.)
Congress from Colorado's 7th District

Michel Faulkner
Congress New York's 15th District (This is the seat presently held by Charles Rangel.)

Charles Lollar
Congress Maryland's 5th District

Eric Cary (Eric has been a speaker at several of our Tea Party meetings.)
Maryland State Senate

On August 23 I am adding two more entries suggested by friends

Allen West
Congress Florida's 22nd District

Stephen Broden
Congress Texas' 30th District

If you are aware of other black conservative candidates please let me know about them. Also, please consider adding their names and web sites to this list and passing it on to others you think might be interested.

Added August 30.

At the Restoring Honor rally on the Capital Mall on Saturday, I saw an African-American participant wearing a t-shirt with a Gadsden flag and Broadus for Congress printed on it. I did a little research and found that Robert Broadus is another candidate that belongs on this list.

Robert Broadus
Congress Maryland's 4th District

Friday, July 16, 2010

America's Ruling Class

The August/September 2010 edition of The American Spectator magazine contains a very important article by Angelo M. Codevilla titled "America's Ruling Class -- and the Perils of Revolution."

This article should be must reading for everyone who cares about America.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Alinsky on Why Tea Party Scares Elitist Liberal Establishment

In my previous blog I said that in "Rules for Radicals" Saul Alinsky explains why the Tea Party movement makes the elitist liberal establishment so paranoid. That generated quite a bit of interest so here it is.

In this case I'm using the "extreme fear" definition of paranoid rather than the "irrational fear" one. The fear is quite rational.

This is how I explain it in the talks I've been giving to Tea Party meetings.

Did you ever wonder why the Tea Party movement scares the liberal establishment so?

Why they accuse you of being “Astroturf.”

Why they hysterically accuse Tea Partiers of being racist, sexist and homophobic?

The answer is in Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals.”

Alinsky says that “Power has always derived from two main sources, money and people. Lacking money, the have-nots must build power from their own flesh and blood.”

So when the liberal establishment looks at the Tea Party what do they see? They see real people, lots and lots of real people, a diverse group of real people building power with their own flesh and blood.

That’s got to scare them to death.

By the way, this fits neatly into Brother Saul's rules for power tactics. The first rule of power tactics is, "Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have."

It doesn't hurt a bit that a mid April AP-GfK poll found that 31% of the public identify themselves as Tea Party supporters and that 33% agree with its positions compared to 26% who disagree.

Watching the liberal establishment squirm is great fun. Maybe that's why the call it a "party."

Here's a link to a complete list of Alinsky's "Rules."

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tactics & Strategy - Alinsky & Cloward-Piven

In late March I received an invitation to speak to a meeting of the Burke Society at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. My first instinct was to tell them about labor unions, since that is my area of expertise. I soon realized that I could be of much more value to them if I were to tell them about Saul Alinsky and the "Rules for Radicals." After all, labor unions are on the way out and Alinsky's influence endures through modern day disciples like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

In preparing my remarks I realized that the information would be of a great deal of interest to those involved in what it loosely referred to as the "Tea Party." I say "loosely referred to" because unlike a party in the traditional sense, the Tea Party is a wide array of groups that have little or nothing in the way of central leadership or direction. Therein lays one of its greatest strengths.

At any rate, I mentioned this to a few contacts that are Tea Party activists and the idea was very warmly received. So much so that in the last couple weeks I've made presentation to three Tea Party groups in my immediate vicinity and have invitations for several more.

At the second of those meetings I was asked about the "Cloward-Piven Strategy" and I confess had never heard of it before so I did a little research. On May 2, 1966 The Nation magazine published an article by two wacko leftist Columbia University Sociology Professors named Richard Cloward and Frances Piven. The name of the article was "The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty." Cloward and Piven, who were by the way husband and wife, proposed that if every person eligible for any form of welfare could be recruited to apply for all the benefits for which they were qualified, it would break the back of the government system and that a socialist regime would result from the ensuing crisis.

In the article Cloward and Piven pay homage to organizations spawned by Saul Alinsky and his Industrial Areas Foundation as the type of organization needed to mobilize the poor for this task.

There is now speculation that the recently enacted health care insurance reform monstrosity is the keystone of a Cloward-Piven strategy to bankrupt America and forge a socialist nation from the resulting chaos. There is no doubt that several actions of the Obama Administration fit this pattern. But then so does George Bush's Medicare Prescription Drug giveaway and many of the actions of the Republican majority in Congress when they became addicted to the narcotic of earmarks and big government spending as a pain killer for the fear of losing elections.

Bankrupting the nation as a prelude to socialism is a strategy. Saul Alinsky's "Rules" are for "power tactics." They can cut both ways. When I make presentations about them to Tea Party meetings I am training a new generation of radical conservatives, or is it conservative radicals.

In his book Alinsky also explains why the elitist liberal establishment is so paranoid about the Tea Party. I'll save that for another blog.

By the way, here's a link to a complete list of Alinsky's "Rules."

Friday, April 2, 2010

I'm going to hurt myself. Does anyone want to watch?

Once when spending a leisurely afternoon on the waterfront in Savannah, Georgia - a wonderful place, by the way, to spend a leisurely afternoon - I saw a street entertainer, a guy who rode a very tall unicycle and juggled, start his efforts to draw a crowd by yelling, "I'm going to hurt myself. Does anyone want to watch?"

I feel very much the same way about the way labor unions are determined to punish Democratic Members of Congress, even their most loyal friends, if they voted against Obama's health care reform monstrosity. The case in point is the decision of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO to withhold its endorsement of Representative Tim Holden in Pennsylvania's 17th Congressional District.

I have a strong feeling that Holden will win the Democratic Primary rather handily. He is, after all, up against a little known and poorly funded opponent who the unions didn't endorse either. After that he has an altogether different election race. The 17th is a majority Republican district. Holden captured the seat and has held on to it as a "conservative" Blue Dog Democrat.

Considering poll results showing increasing public discontent with incumbents and the recent Pew Research Center survey findings that a plurality of the public opposes labor unions, a union endorsement in November will remind the public of Holden's pro union voting record and might be the political equivalent of the Ancient Mariner's albatross around his neck.

So, how smart is this? You alienate a guy who votes with you 90 percent of the time by withholding an endorsement that he doesn't need but might appreciate, but then set yourself up to need to deliver the endorsement of the same guy when it might actually hurt his chances of getting reelected.

Are the unions shouting, "I'm going to hurt myself. Does anybody care?"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

It's Never Been Easy

In his "Rules for Radicals" Saul Alinsky said to admit that your "enemy" had any redeeming qualities was idiocy. Saul believed that “Before men can act, an issue must be polarized. Men will act when they are convinced that their cause is 100 percent on the side of the angels and that the opposition are 100 percent on the side of the devil.”

It is no secret that I'm no fan of labor unions, but I have frequently enjoyed the honest writing of a fellow who is a strong advocate of unions. David Macaray, a former labor union representative whose work usually appears in "Counterpunch" writes persuasively about unions. Unlike some union apologists he is not afraid to deal with problems when he finds them. I found a recent Macaray column, "What does $400 Million Buy You These Days?" particularly insightful.

He recently published a collection of his writings under the title of "It's Never Been Easy." I commend it to all those who are interested in labor unions, pro or con. If you find that he has been too persuasive, send me a note and I'll write an anti-union diatribe or two for you.

I must be careful. Admitting that someone who disagrees with you isn't "100 percent on the side of the devil" might be contagious. Well, as I said, I am too soon old and too late wise.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Union Membership In America 2009: Organized labor, whither goest thou?

On January 22, 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released "Union Members - 2009," its annual report on union membership in America. On the surface it was rather normal. The total number of union members fell by 771,000, which shouldn't be too surprising considering that the economy shed almost 5 million jobs. Union density - the percent of the workforce in labor unions - fell just slightly from 12.4 in 2008 to 12.3 percent in 2009.

The real story is somewhat buried. Union membership on private payrolls declined by about 834,000, while it was increasing by about 64,000 in the public sector. (Yes, I know the numbers don't add up. Must be the rounding.) As a consequence, despite the fact that only about one in six jobs are with government, the majority of all union members in America are public employees. This was a long time in coming. When modern record keeping on union membership began in 1983 only about 32 percent of all union members worked for government. Back in the union heyday of the 1950's - using numbers that aren't quite comparable - it was about 5 percent.

This shift will have inevitable internal and external political consequences for organized labor. With their future clearly tied to the growth of government employment, labor unions will be even more adamant about the need to increase the size of government and, of course, the taxes to pay for it. The same is true of union opposition to any effort by government save money by contracting-out (privatizing) public services to the private sector.

At the same time, unions run the strong risk of being perceived by private sector employees they are trying to organize as a government employee thing. What will be the consequences for union organizers when those they are attempting to woo only see unions as the reason for unresponsive, ineffective government and high taxes?

Recently the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press reported a remarkable downturn in public support for labor unions, "Favorability Ratings of Labor Unions Fall Sharply". It would be interesting to know how much union defense of bloated public payrolls, compensation and benefits during the economic downturn had to do with it. It would also be interesting to know what percent of the "Cadillac" health insurance plans union lobbyists fought so vehemently against taxing during the debate on health insurance reform belonged to government workers.

All of the data on employment and union membership comes from the BLS Current Population Survey (CPS). (I refer to comparable numbers because in 1983 the survey methodology was improved and the numbers prior to 1983 don't quite fit with the numbers after 1983. There are no CPS numbers on union membership for 1982.) The CPS is an extremely accurate source consisting of about 60,000 interviews each month.

Drs. Barry T. Hirsch and David A. Macpherson do a great job of providing comprehensive state-by-state information from this survey on their web page at Union Stats dot com. The only problem I have with this is that it is all annual making it difficult to identify trends. The Public Service Research Foundation has used this data to produce a very interesting set of tables and charts showing employment, union membership and union density - total, private, public, manufacturing and construction from 1983 to 2009 for the nation and for each state. This information is, unfortunately, not available on their web site but is available without charge on request. E-mail requests to Please be sure to mention that you learned about them in this blog.

Further reading: If you are interested in insights into these changes from one of the nation's leading demographers of labor unions - Leo Troy, professor emeritus at Rutgers University - take a look at his "Twilight of the Old Unionism."

Monday, February 1, 2010

Thank You Massachusetts!

In a fit of irrational exuberance over the election of Scott Brown to the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts I had some bumper stickers printed up that say, "Thank You Massachusetts!"

I've given most of them to friends and associates and am selling the remainder on eBay. I'll maintain that posting as long as the supply lasts or at least until the end of February. If you're interested in this you can check it out by going to eBay and entering a search for "Thank You Massachusetts"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

No Such Thing As A 10

There’s no such thing as a 10.

I was in the Home Depot the other day and saw a sign saying that if I would rate any part of my experience in Home Depot as less than a 9, I should contact the manager.

Whoa! What’s going on?

Remember the Bo Derek movie “10”? She was a 10 because she was perfect. Very little in this world is perfect. I can only think of two restaurant meals that I’ve had in my entire life that I would regard as a 10. As fun and as exciting as sex is, I can only think of one or two experiences that I’d rate as a 10.

That means, at least in my book, that on a scale of 1 to 10, 9 is very, very good and that doesn’t happen very often. In fact, on a scale of 1 to 10, if I could rate my average shopping experience as a 7, I’d consider myself lucky. How is it then that I should notify the manager at Home Depot if my shopping experience is less than a 9?

eBay is up to the same sort of nonsense. They now have variable rates that they charge sellers for listings. Those rates go up if the seller doesn’t maintain an average feedback rating of 5 on a scale of 1 to 5. Some of the sellers, realizing more about human nature than the folks who run eBay, are putting pleading language in their listing begging for higher ratings on their feedback.

Is this the “Lake Wobegon” effect? Are we all way above average? I am, of course, above average, as are my children and their children, but I’m not too sure about all the others.

Charles Murray, author of “The Bell Curve,” did us all a favor by pointing out that half the kids in school were below average.

Let’s get real. We are imperfect. We live in an imperfect world. On average we do rather well, but rating systems that demand nothing short of almost perfect as the norm are not realistic and don’t provide any meaningful information.