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Arthur J. Finkelstein, RIP

September 9, 2017

I learned only this afternoon that, on August 18, 2017, campaign consultant and pollster, Arthur J. Finkelstein died from lung cancer at his home in Ipswich, Massachusetts. For the many who never met him, this obituary in the Washington Post is as informative of Arthur’s career and personal life, as any.

In January I saw an encomium in National Review to Arthur written by Reagan historian, Craig Shirley that looked like an obituary. We hadn’t been in touch in quite awhile, so I sent Arthur a message of my own expressing my admiration.

Arthur replied with one word, “Neat.”

Arthur and I were friends for more than forty-five years. In 1972 I joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the College of New Rochelle in New York. Up from New Rochelle on the Post Road was the office in Rye, New York of Arthur Finkelstein.  We became friends and I invited Arthur to teach a course in campaign management in my Department. In turn, Arthur invited me to join a little political action group he founded, the New York State Political Action Committee where I joined a little group of Republicans. Among them were Priscilla Buckley and Carol Learsey, Bill Buckley’s sisters, Liz Doyle and many others.

Arthur preferred PACs because donations were not limited and he was an early champion of the National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC) founded by Terry Dolan.

I would meet Arthur for meals at Gipfels, a Swiss restaurant, near his office in Rye, and Arthur graciously invited me and my wife to his home in Chappaqua. We were probably one of the few so honored by this very private public man. I recall that once he drove me to my home in Tarrytown from some political meeting and told me that he was amazed that homes could still be bought for $75,000.  His home in Chappaqua was probably purchased for $500,000.

Arthur had an intuitive grasp of the nuances of American voters and was responsible for providing polling data that led to the election of James Buckley to the United States Senate.

His career as a pollster was world class and a list of “his” candidates was surpassed only by the hilarious account of their eccentricities that Arthur would share in private.

But, Arthur was also an unfailing observer not only of the mistakes of others, but also of his own. He was an inveterate gambler and aficionado of thoroughbred racing and when on travel to Las Vegas would place a one hundred dollar bill in his shoe–just in case Lady Luck wasn’t on the same trip.

Once, Arthur told me that he blew that hundred dollar bill and was broke. He needed a way to pay for travel back to New York. He picked up his phone at his hotel to make a call and somehow another person was on the line. Arthur persuaded the caller on the crossed line to give him what he needed to get to the airport and back home.

Campaigns run according to fixed schedules and in off years, Arthur’s income was less than in years when he was involved in many campaigns.  He persuaded me to try and get some government contracts for polling research. On our first try, we won a bid to survey the cost of government regulations for the U.S. Small Business Administration.

In one class at the College of New Rochelle, Arthur challenged his students to give just one reason that they opposed the war in Vietnam. Arthur was an astute observer and knew that much of the opposition to that war was uninformed. But, on that day, a student raised her hand and said, “Mr. Finkelstein, I am opposed to the war because my brother was killed in Vietnam.”

In my case, when in the first year of the Reagan Administration I was fired by Charles Z. Wick, Director of the United States Information and Communication Agency, from my presidential appointment as Director of Education and Cultural Affairs, Arthur arranged for me to join the staff of Sen. Alfonse D’Amato. Arthur was responsible for Al D’Amato’s election to the U.S. Senate and in one meeting with Sen. D’Amato where Arthur was present, the topic of the right to abortion came up. I didn’t share my opposition to abortion with the Senator and Arthur took me aside and berated me. “You owe him,” he said.

On two occasions I tried to get Arthur to open up about his campaign work, first by encouraging him to write a book and on another occasion to do an online course. He didn’t write the book, but he did give a lecture on campaign management that I recorded and that I’ll post in a few days.

I don’t handle well the death of those I love, and learning of Arthur’s death was no exception.  The best I can do now is include him in my list of friends–living and dead—for whom I pray nightly. I owe that to Arthur J. Finkelstein.

Rest in Peace Arthur.

Pittsburg’s Lost Opportunity

September 4, 2017

In a discussion with Dr. Herb London who was an undergraduate at Columbia University when I was at Pitt, Dr. London remarked that he studied with Jacques Barzun, Sydney Hook, C. Wright Mills and some other worthies. That reminded me that luminaries of their stature were not present at the University of Pittsburgh, but I sent my colleague a link to the wiki bio of Edward H. Litchfield. In Googling that, I found a reminiscence in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette about Edward H. Litchfield, Chancellor at the University of Pittsburgh from 1956-1965, titled “The next page,” by historian James A. Kehl.

I’ve written about my Pitt experience and that I was fortunate to have left Pitt upon graduation in 4 and 1/3 years (the Trimester system introduced by Chancellor Litchfield was not supportive of serious undergraduate scholarship) and entered the University of Notre Dame where I encountered Eric Voegelin, Stanley Parry and Gerhart Niemeyer.

After WW II, the Holy Cross priests at Notre Dame were well positioned to hire the best of émigré professors from Europe and a few were still there when I arrived in January 1965.

What I found interesting about Chancellor Litchfield, apart from his habit of walking about campus in jodhpurs, was that he did not rebuild Pitt with people. Litchfield did buildings.

While at Pitt from 1960 to 1964, I don’t recall any new blood in the Political Science Department (my major), though there was the excellent Mellon Professors program (Sir Ronald Syme, Mario Pei) and the excellent speakers series (Aldous Huxley; Mendes France).

Richard Scaife, heir to the Mellon fortune was much influenced by a History professor who was fired by Pitt’s History Department. And I remember that an excellent lecturer on the history of Western civilization was cashiered, also in the History Department.

Litchfield was, apparently, a “buildings” person, not a people person, and did not clean house in the many third-rate and ideological dominated Departments at Pitt.

For very little, much less than the Panther Hollow project cited in Professor Kehl’s essay, Litchfield might have trimmed the Pitt tree with bright lights such as were attracted to the University of Chicago, or had been assembled at Columbia University or Notre Dame. In the case of Chicago, a vibrant Jewish community, many refugees from Communist Russia, supported the University of Chicago and sustained Frank Knight, Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, and others who appreciated economic freedom.

I observed in my recent book, The Conservative Rebellion, that Pitt milked wealthy ethnic Pittsburghers to fund “nationality” rooms but disdained their religious faith and what we recognize today were their conservative political views and commitment to family.  That community would have supported professors from Ukraine, Poland, West Germany (the dominant ethnic group in Pittsburgh is German) but Pitt put their money into “rooms.”

I might add that Columbia University and the University of Chicago had excellent Core Curricula (Great Books) programs that outshined what passed for a Core at Pitt in the 1960s. Given that rejection of the culture of “the Burg,” it is amazing that so many Pittsburghers living elsewhere want to return home—but probably not to the University of Pittsburgh.


The President and Finland

August 29, 2017

Yesterday, President Trump held a press conference on Monday, August 28, with the President of Finland. Finland was invaded by the Soviet Union in 1939, but lost. Finland had been subject to the Soviet Union from 1939 to 1991 when the Soviet Union expired.

President Trump stated in yesterday’s press conference that “Finland is respected by Russia.  Finland has been free of Russia, really — just about one of the few countries in the region that has been — for 100 years.”

That alone should tell us that we are in very deep doo doo.

Time For a National Conservative Party

August 22, 2017

Like all Americans, I am proud of our military services, their traditions and their loyalty to the United States Constitution.

But, President Donald Trump has granted significant control of White House operations and defense policies to former Generals.

James N. Mattis, Secretary of Defense

H.R. McMaster, National Security Advisor

John Kelly, Chief of Staff

Why would a President do that? The answer is clear:  President Trump is ignorant of the personalities that made the conservative movement, knew very little about how Congress conducts policy, and had no idea about whom to appoint to key positions in government agencies.

President Trump is a celebrity with no experience in elective office nor administration of government.

Moreover, if President Trump expected to be elected, he would have put together an administration during his campaign or immediately upon election. As reported by the the Partnership for Public Progress, President Trump has been negligent in filling key positions in government agencies and has brushed off that criticism by saying “We have too many people.”

He placed his son-in-law and daughter on the White House staff, made a former Trump Administration secretary/gopher head of White House Communications and turned to former Generals to run the White House and the U.S. Department of Defense.

If anyone thought that was “normal,” they should take another look at the Trump Administration and our current two Party system.

A realignment of the two Party system is underway and now is the time for political, social and economic conservatives to create a national Conservative Party and compete with a “Trump Party,” the Internationalist GOP led by Mitt Romney and John Kasich, and the Democrat Party.

Residents of Charlottesville

August 22, 2017

Apparently not all residents of Charlottesville, Virginia were satisfied that Charlottesville police properly managed the August 12 rioting in which one woman was killed by an automobile and two policemen were killed when their helicopter crashed.

According to CBS News, Charlottesville residents attending Monday’s City Council meeting in Charlottesville expressed anger at the City’s mayor and police.

“Speakers, some yelling and hurling profanities, then took turns addressing the council, some expressing frustration that leaders had granted a permit for the rally. Others criticized the police response to the event, which drew hundreds of white supremacists as well as counter-protesters.”



Trump’s Ignorance Kills

August 21, 2017

President Trump knows nothing of the administration of a government and has failed to fill nominations for offices that require Senate confirmation.

In the case of the U.S. Department of Defense, eight months into his Administration his nominee, Richard Spencer,  for the U.S. Navy Secretary position has yet to be confirmed.

John F. Lehman, President Reagan’s Navy Secretary, nominated on January 29, 1980, instituted a program to investigate all accidents involving all Navy ships and aircraft–immediately upon being confirmed.

The collision on August 21 of another U.S. Navy warship, the John S. McCain, with a tanker is the second in two months.

This lack of oversight at the U.S. Navy Department is due to the President’s ignorance.  That ignorance kills.


Leftists at CNN

August 20, 2017

In 1980, Ted Turner founded a 24-hour cable news television network that we call “CNN.” Turner, a quirky billionaire, like President Donald Trump, lacks a traditional philosophy rooted in church, country and morality. But Turner had a grounding in the intellectual foundations of Western civilization when, as a student at Brown University, he chose “Classics” as his major.

When Turner founded CNN conservatives were sympathetic to Turner’s goal of “objective” reporting. It became clear very soon that it is not possible to staff a news enterprise with journalists In the United States and sustain objectivity in reporting.  Turner lost control of CNN after merging his company with Time Warner. That proved to be a fateful alliance of Turner’s commitment to objective reporting with the Left ideologies that dominate commercial news.

Time Magazine was founded by anti-communist Republican, Henry Luce, in 1922. That was followed by the founding of Fortune magazine in 1930. Luce was hated by President Franklin Roosevelt who retaliated for Time’s criticism by prohibiting media executives from visiting combat zones.

Luce retaliated by endorsing conservative Republican policies and giving depth to Time’s reporting by the appointment of former Communist Party apparatchik, Whitaker Chambers, as Foreign News editor in 1944.

No “owner” of a media enterprise can long control the Leftists who become “journalists,” and since the late 1960s (Henry Luce died in 1967), Time Magazine has sided with America’s enemies. It is in keeping with that direction that Time and its television property, CNN, attacks and deplores Donald Trump and his supporters. There is no objectivity, no professional courtesy, given.

This morning sitting in for John King’s Inside Politics on CNN, Nia Malika Henderson read a Tweet of President Trump that referred to “crooked Hillary Clinton.” Henderson omitted “crooked” when she read the Tweet.

Henderson “has an undergraduate degree in cultural anthropology from Duke University, and graduate degrees from Yale University in American studies and Columbia University in journalism.”

If you were looking for a Leftist to staff your team of “journalists,” and not fully report the “news,” look no further than one who studied anthropology as an undergraduate, studied “American Studies” in grad school and then went on to study journalism at Columbia University.