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Happy Thanksgiving!

November 22, 2018

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade began with good old weatherman, Al Roker, and something new, two female masters of ceremony instead of the usual male/female team. I guess this really is “the year of the woman.” And just to make sure we didn’t understand that bit of PC, there was a lesbian couple amongst the first group of dancers, a singer who was announced as “from Puerto Rico,” assorted high school bands, the Ohio State band, and some really good dancers, including the Rockettes who dazzled us with their precision dancing.

More skin is being shown by female dancers than in earlier parades, but some dancers demonstrate they can really dance as opposed to perform gymnasium routines. I particularly liked the dancers from a dance school who performed a traditional waltz.

I look for signs of the times–good and some bad–in major events like this one and especially what style of military uniforms marching bands wear. Ohio State’s marching band, perhaps reflecting the parsimony of Ohioans, hasn’t been changed since World War II. But, the local high school bands wore beautiful, new, stylized uniforms reflecting a less militaristic mindset–and the wealth of New York and New Jersey suburban communities.

And, if you were gearing up for Thanksgiving dinner, there was the Jolly Green Giant representing B&G Foods, Inc. (now selling at $30.11 a share),  Entenmann’s, a private baking  company based in Totowa, New Jersey and many other provisioners to remind us of goodies to come on this day of prayer and the giving of thanks. Not forgotten was a large turkey driven by a GM pickup truck (shares now priced at $35.55).

All in all, today’s Thanksgiving Day parade is only half-over, but I get it!

At least for now, American commerce and Political Correctness are holding hands in celebration and giving “Thanks” to a life of bounty. As “big box” stores are forced to close, however,  I wonder how long Macy’s will be around to regale us with this delight-filled parade, or what will come next.

Be assured, as long as there is an America, there will be something coming next.

Biased “Journalism” as Seen by Joe Morris

November 18, 2018

“J” Schools, indeed the entire “Left University” system of Progressives who dominate American higher education, are responsible for lack of objectivity and adversarial reporting of today’s media. For that reason, many no longer watch CNN or look for alternatives to the Washington Post and The New York Times. Immediately after the election of 2016, President-Elect Trump took aim at biased reporting. And yesterday, a Chicago conservative Republican, Joe Morris, took time to analyze biased “journalism” at the New York Times.  

Here is his analysis. 

The lead story on the front page of The New York Times this morning announces, under the gleeful subhead “A  PROBLEM  FOR  TRUMP”, that CIA briefers have told Congressional that the agency has concluded that Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (“MBS”), the Saudi Crown Prince, ordered the killing of Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2, 2018.  You will find the NYT article linked and set forth below.

I offer a few observations:

(1)  Under Executive Editor Dean Baquet, and as advocated by Media Columnist James Rutenberg, The New York Times has abandoned objectivity in news coverage and now sees itself as an advocacy organ whose first priority is opposition to the unacceptable presence of Donald Trump on the national scene.  On this proposition:

A summary of the controversy appeared in a column in mid-August of this year by Michael Goodwin in the New York Post. 

You will find it linked here:

Mr. Goodwin cites (and links to) a pivotal op / ed essay by James Rutenberg, theTimes‘s Media Columnist, of August 7, 2016, in The New York Times, which is here:

and quotes Dean Baquet, the Executive Editor of The New York Times, as embracing the Rutenberg imperative.

Controversy soon erupted after the Rutenberg essay appeared, and it has continued in both academic and journalistic circles.  Here, for example, is a piece addressing some of my concerns that appeared in the Claremont Review of Books in 2017, written by William Voegeli (who earned the Ph.D. in political science at Loyola University Chicago): 

Not only all editorials and columns, but all purported news reports, appearing in The New York Times must therefore be analyzed through critical lenses.  Put otherwise, based on the NYT’s openly-declared change in its mission, nothing that appears in The New York Times can be accepted at face value and must be assessed as a species, not of journalism, but of partisan advocacy.

(2)  The underlying story of the Khashoggi murder, if true, represents a gross violation of human rights and of international legal norms reaching and tainting the highest levels of the Saudi government.

(3)  Anything the C.I.A. tells Congress will almost certainly be leaked. 

(4)  The left, in Congress and at the NYT, finds the situation useful as an embarrassment and quandary for President Trump, who has (a)  sided with Saudi Arabia in what the Saudi government perceives to be its existential conflict with Iran and (b) has used evolving Saudi perceptions of their interests to tone down Sunni Arab conflicts with, and actually significantly improve cooperation with, Israel.

(5)  Note the quick pivot reported in the article:  “Lawmakers are hoping to use the controversy over the assassination to try to force an end to the Saudi war in Yemen, or at least the American military support for it.”  The “lawmakers” in question are Democrats.  The “Saudi war in Yemen” is the civil war there between the government of the Republic of Yemen, recognized by the United States and most of the world, and militarily backed by Saudi Arabia;  and the Houthi rebels, an insurgency militarily and financially supported by Iran.  Yemen, the second-largest state (after Saudi Arabia) on the Arabian Peninsula, is situated along the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean at the southwest of the peninsula and its border with Saudi Arabia is the longest land-border on the peninsula. 

(6)  The left remains invested in the Obama deal with Iran, which, in addition to the “Joint Plan” on Iran’s nuclear weapons program (since abandoned by President Trump), involved the transfer, promptly accomplished, of billions of dollars in hard Western currencies to the Iranian regime physically transported in a series of secret airborne shipments.  Most observers agree that the Iranian regime has invested the cash windfall from Mr. Obama in its military adventures abroad, including, for examples, the Houthi rebellion in Yemen and the supply to Iran’s proxy, Hamas, in Gaza, of thousands of rockets and other weapons, among them those that Hamas rained down on Israeli civilians in the last few weeks.  This, on top of the left’s antipathy to Israel and its pandemic worldwide antisemitism, leads to rather reflexive support for Iran and for opportunities to undermine progress toward the pacification and normalization of relations between Israel and Arab states. 

(7)  Note, too, the passing references in the NYT article to a few aspects of Washington “inside baseball”:

(a)  The Times reports:  “The [C.I.A.], and its former director, John O. Brennan, had a close relationship with Prince Mohammed’s rival, Mohammed bin Nayef. The young crown prince outmaneuvered his rival in 2017 to consolidate his position.”  Mr. Brennan, perhaps the most partisan CIA director in history, opposed the rise of MBS and has been furious at Trump Administration changes in Middle East policy and at the agency.

(b)  The Times further reports:  “Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, has been particularly close to Prince Mohammed.  Mr. Kushner has long advocated that a strong relationship with the Saudis is in the United States’ interest, and he has pushed to maintain support for the crown prince despite the death of Mr. Khashoggi….”  The NYT’s aim here is to locate White House support for Saudi Arabia and MBS as personally close to Mr. Trump as possible.  In any event, Mr. Kushner has his enemies, not just on the left and in Congress, but within the Administration and inside the White House itself (which, in Mr. Trump’s administration, is unusually volatile and given to visible internecine conflicts).


Dr. Herb London, RIP

November 12, 2018

NewsMax’s John Gizzi reported yesterday that Herb London passed away on Sunday, November  11.

Herb and I planned to conduct a Webcast on the topic of Celebrity and American politics

Herb had produced a video on this subject for the Hudson Institute in June 2009 and I encountered it only when I was writing a new book on the fragility of politics in an era of Celebrity. Herb beat me to it with that webcast and his familiarity with the groundbreaking study of celebrity in the 1961 book by Daniel Boorstin, The Image or What Happened to the American Dream.

What a webcast that would have been if Herb London, age 79, had lived. His passing and my inability to attract a grant to conduct the event are a great loss.

I knew of Herb London from when he was at New York University and because he had begun something he called “Renaissance University.” Herb was excited, as far back as the 1990s in the promise of the Internet for education.  He planned to create his own university, but by the time I travelled to New York to meet with him to discuss my own plans to create a solely online University, he had moved on to another project.

Herb invited me to participate on a panel in April 2012 at a meeting of the National Association of Scholars on the subject of technology and education. His presentation at that event is pure Herb London involving humor, knowledge of his subject and questions about his topic.  When a scholar gives a presentation that asks questions, he has admitted that  he doesn’t have all the answers. That’s the type of colleague you want to have.

Others will recall Herb’s various political campaigns, the organizations he chaired including the Manhattan Institute, Hudson Institute, his Great Books program at NYU and the National Association of Scholars and some details about his personal life and last hours of life.

For me, Herb London was a stalwart friend and colleague and a wonderful person to have on your side when attempting great things.

Rest in Peace, Dr. London.



Trump Tries to Recoup

November 8, 2018

At yesterday’s press conference, a feisty President Trump took on an adversarial press and gave some indication that a major house cleaning would clean up a mess created by the President’s lack of experience. Within an hour of that press conference, President Trump asked for, and received, the resignation of his Attorney General. He also took action against CNN’s Jim Acosta by removing Acosta’s press credentials.

Other actions likely to occur include the resignation of Chief of Staff Kelly and Kelley’s former Chief of Staff, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. Both Sessions and Gen. Kelly’s appointments are representative of a lack of knowledge of the community of conservative professionals attracted to government service during the long march–from 1955 to 1980–to power and influence of the American conservative “movement.”

Former Sen. Jeff Sessions was given the Attorney General assignment because he was the first sitting Senator to endorse Trump’s candidacy and told the President-elect that he wanted it. General Kelly is representative of the President’s trust in Generals and Admirals, something he learned as a cadet at New York Military Academy. Here’s a list of former Generals and Admirals appointed to top offices in the Trump Administration.

Gen. James N. Mattis, Secretary of Defense, Gen. Michael T. Flynn, first National Security Advisor, Gen. H.R. McMastersecond National Security Advisor, Gen. John F. Kelly, Homeland Security Secretary and Chief of Staff, Brig. General, Mitchell Zais, Deputy Secretary of Education, Admiral Harry Harris, Ambassador to South Korea.

And lest we forget, U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, was a graduate of West Point who reached the rank of Captain, before leaving for a career in business.

All are honorable men, to be sure, but you can’t govern with appointees whose experience was not gained in politics. And in the case of Secretary Mattis, his appointment ignores the principle of civilian control formalized in the National Security Act of 1947 that created the Defense Department. That act made it a requirement that only civilians could lead the Defense Department and other Military Service agencies.

The one hopeful sign that President Trump is learning that there are conservative professionals he can trust is his mention of China expert and former Reagan appointee, Mike Pillsbury, at yesterday’s press conference.

Unfortunately, after two years in office, according to “Tracker,” of 702 key positions requiring Senate confirmation,131 have no nominee, 12 are awaiting nomination, 182 have been formally nominated, and 381 have been confirmed.

We can’t blame this poor showing entirely on Senate Democrats. President Trump believes that the U.S. government has too many employees and should be run like a business. Unfortunately, unlike the U.S. government, the Trump family business was a very small organization. Emulating that organization places the President’s policies at risk to failure. Even if President Trump begins to listen to, and accept the recommendations, of political conservatives willing to serve in his Administration, the future of this Administration is quite bleak.

First, there is the likelihood that the Mueller investigation will lead to indictment of the President’s son and son-in-law and other investigations are looking into possible money laundering and violations committed by the President and members of his family.

Second, the President believes that foreign policy is best conducted in personal meetings between the President and other heads of state–without proper planning required to ascertain what national interests should be advanced.

Third, the President refuses to attempt to rein in the cost of Entitlements.

Fourth, the President rejects free trade in favor of imposition of tariffs and fifth, the President has no formal training in economics.

Add to those a sixth deficiency, President Trump is dyslexic and reads with difficulty, relying on cable television reporting for basic information.

Six is not a lucky number.




Thales College Designed to Fail

November 2, 2018

At a time when we need wealthy persons to found new colleges and universities, we should take an interest in a new college in North Carolina calling itself Thales College. I’ll watch its progress with interest. But, what little I have read suggests that the new college’s wealthy backer, Bob Luddy, has not done any research in instructional design for distance learning, nor has he read about the American system of accreditation that constrains innovation in higher education.

Here are four reasons  that Thales college will fail:

  1. No Accreditation

“Because employers, colleges, and universities look primarily at the students’ grades, coursework and major, and the college’s reputation for quality instruction. They do not base hiring and graduate school admission decisions primarily on whether a transcript comes from an accredited institution.”

THIS IS A WRONG OR INTENTIONALLY FALSE STATEMENT.  Admission to college for degree completion (after one or two years at Thales) or admission to postgraduate degree programs  upon graduation will be granted only if a college’s degree programs are accredited.

American education consumers are not interested in self-study, nor in a liberal education.  They are interested in earning a degree or competency for employment. Employment with state or federal government or as a public school teacher requires a degree earned from an accredited college or university.

  1. Reliance on Recorded Lectures

“Thales College employs a version of the “flipped classroom” concept: students will receive the course lectures and reading materials online. Then, every morning, students will attend an in-class Socratic discussion led by a professor to discuss what they learned in the previous course module.” “The college plans to produce its own in-house video lectures, as well as contract with other educational organizations to use the wealth of lectures that they already have produced and available.”

BAD INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN.  Students learn best from reading, not from audio or video recordings and reading takes less serial time that 30 or 55 minute recordings of lectures.

  1. High Tuition Cost

“Total tuition for a four-year degree will be $32,000, or $4,000 per term.”

TUITION IS TOO COSTLY.  Thales’ tuition cost of $1,600 per course is far above tuition costs of between $900 and $1,000 per course at regionally accredited institutions. If marketed on the basis of price, Thales should adopt a mixed classroom/online model.  A solely online course can be offered for about $325 per course or $6,500 for a two-year AA degree.  Assume that one-half or 11 courses in a two-year program must be offered in classrooms to qualify for regional accreditation,  9 courses can be offered for $2,925 and 11 courses can be offered for $900 each or $9,900. On that model, tuition will total $12,925 for a two year degree program.  Thales’ tuition $16,000 for a two year program is too high, and without accreditation for Title IV grants and student loans, students must pay for tuition from parent’s savings or part time employment.

4) Qualified Christian and Conservative Faculty are Difficult to Find

Finally, Thales will have a difficult time hiring faculty that share the religious and political views of its Founder. A good friend who was Provost at a Protestant Christian college began to look for faculty in Europe because European scholars are less likely to be infected by PC.

This link will take you to a list “Best Practices” for effective distance learning that I compiled after  9 years of experience in distance learning.  Or better yet, read my book that explains how the current system of high cost college degree programs is on track for creative destruction.  I must conclude that Thales isn’t designed for success in the American higher education market. Thales College is designed to fail.





Allan Bloom: How Colleges Corrupt

November 2, 2018

My new book asks Can this country be saved?

Naturally, I turned for insight from Allan Bloom’s, Closing of the American Mind.

You can read what Allan Bloom had to say by clicking here


Pittsburgh, My Pittsburgh

October 30, 2018

Hundreds of thousands of Americans who were born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania now live elsewhere. For any number of reasons we left what we fondly refer to as the ‘Burgh and never returned. We are what I call “Overseas Pittsburghers,” much like the “Overseas Chinese” who opt not to live in a communist People’s Republic of China.

I like the ‘Burg, but the Democrat Party has controlled the City since 1932. Eighty-six years of one Party control–going on nine decades–is just too many.

During the Cold War, national security professionals would talk about the Finlandization that occurred in Finland when the Finns threw in the towel and accepted the Soviet Union as permanent reality. The Finns kept one accommodator in power for 45 years.

Little did they know that the Soviet Union would collapse in 1991.

Unlike the Finns, the citizens in the ‘Burg were threatened by no foreign enemies and, yet, they continue to this day to vote for a corrupt and ignorant group of politicians who pass themselves off as New Deal Democrats—86 years after a President offered a New Deal in 1932!

The lack of patriotism and intelligence that this Finlandization of the ‘Burg represents is a sign that the ‘Burg is too corrupt to handle an influx of 50,000 Amazon employees should the ‘Burg be chosen for the next Amazon HQ. Change will come, but not at the ballot box nor by a decision by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. Click here to access an essay that I wrote for the Pittsburgh Tribune in February of this year.about the prospect that the ‘Burgh would be chosen for Amazon’s second HQ.