Thursday, March 31, 2016

Deadbeat Island Doesn’t Belong On Taxpayers’ Tab

Betsy McCaughey: Deadbeat Island Doesn’t Belong On Taxpayers’ Tab

If you have a retirement fund or pension, or you’re a taxpayer, get ready to have your pockets picked.
The Obama administration wants Congress to enact a bankruptcy plan for Puerto Rico, forcing holders of Puerto Rican debt (including New York City pension funds) to settle for less than they’re owed.
Puerto Rico is over $70 billion in debt and already defaulting. House Speaker Paul Ryan has promised action by March 31, and the Supreme Court took up the issue on Tuesday.
Federal law bars Puerto Rico from going bankrupt. If Congress rewrites the rules now retroactively, it will jolt municipal bond markets. Jittery lenders will demand higher interest from states and cities that need to borrow, whacking taxpayers who foot the bill.
Bankruptcy’s not the answer. Congress needs to show Puerto Rico some tough love by imposing a financial control board that will curb the island’s profligate spending and cut its bloated government payroll.
Puerto Rico’s pols have flunked civics. The island is mired in cronyism and corruption. Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, D-N.Y., calls a control board a “colonial power grab.” Nonsense. A control board turned around New York City in the 1970s and the District of Columbia in the 1990s without resorting to bankruptcy.
Allowing the island to weasel out of its debts will encourage more irresponsibility. Last Christmas, the island’s governor doled out $120 million in bonuses to employees, just before defaulting on millions in debt. The island is a socialist paradise where only 40% of adults work, but those who do are guaranteed paid vacations and other perks.
Puerto Rico’s publicly owned utility is $9 billion in debt but still provides free electricity to 78 municipalities, keeping local pols happy, and even powers an ice skating rink in the tropical heat. Yet on Tuesday, the utility pleaded with the Supreme Court justices to be allowed to stiff its creditors.
Predictably, the Obama administration supports Puerto Rico’s efforts to default, telling Ryan that a bankruptcy would “cost taxpayers nothing.” If you believe that, I have some Puerto Rican bonds to sell you.
Even liberals like New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. blasted Obama’s proposal, saying that it would hurt the value of the city’s pensions and “by extension the retirement security of New York City workers.” Ditto for retirees and investors nationwide.
Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., warns against Obama’s plan. Investors will realize that if Congress can erase Puerto Rico’s debt, “they can do that for California and Illinois and New York,” leading to a “rapid escalation of borrowing costs for states.” And their taxpayers.
On the legal front, Puerto Rico’s lawless politicians didn’t wait for a congressional bailout. In 2014, the debt-mired island passed its own local bankruptcy law — now being challenged in the Supreme Court.
Puerto Rico wanted to help its electric utility escape paying its debts in full. Trouble is, the U.S. Constitution and federal law prohibit it. The Constitution’s framers barred local governments from passing bankruptcy laws, reserving that power for Congress alone. After all, if local politicians could rewrite the rules and erase debts, who would ever loan money?
Ignoring the Constitution, Puerto Rico passed its law anyway. What chutzpah! But the utility’s creditors challenged it in federal court and have won each step along the way. It’s amazing that the Supreme Court is even hearing an appeal on this.
Even worse, during oral arguments Tuesday Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor seemed sympathetic to this lawless act. With Justice Antonin Scalia deceased and Justice Samuel Alito recusing himself, the island has a shot at a 4-3 victory. It would be a defeat of the rule of law.
In 2013, President Obama pushed Congress to avoid a national debt default, insisting, “We’re not some banana republic … We don’t run out on our tab.” Why is that behavior suddenly acceptable for Puerto Rico?
McCaughey is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and author of “Government by Choice: Inventing the United States Constitution.”

Ted Cruz: Our Last, Best Hope

America needs something better than a feedback loop for popular resentment. We need a real leader. America's elite is arrogant and corrupt, but the state of the American people is just as alarming. America had 90% adult literacy in 1790, when only half of Englishmen and a fifth of Spaniards and Italians could sign their names. We had the best educated, most motivated, and healthiest workforce in the world by an overwhelming margin.
Now Americans aged 16 to 24 rank at the bottom of a 22-country evaluation of numeracy, literacy, and technological problem-solving.
Poor student performance should be no surprise: America's family structure is falling apart. Nearly 30% of non-Hispanic white children are born out of wedlock, as well as 53% of Hispanics and 73% of African-Americans. When Reagan took office, 18% of all American births were to unmarried mothers. By 2014 the figure was above 40%.
Catch-up ball doesn't begin to describe our predicament. We need nothing short of a great national turnaround. There are two Republican candidates who made clear from the outset that it isn't business as usual -- Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. Another Romney wouldn't be relevant.
Our elites, to be sure, have sold us down the river. There's unlimited capital for investors to buy foreclosed homes, while half of Americans can't raise a down payment or qualify for a home mortgage. The Pentagon and the defense contractors slated a trillion dollars for the F-35, the biggest lemon in the history of military aviation, crowding out every other acquisition program in the military. Our tech companies have become a conspiracy to suppress innovation, managed by patent trolls instead of engineers. The financial industry ran the biggest scam in history, the subprime bubble of the 2000s, and the Obama administration hasn't sent a single miscreant to jail (it just slapped multi-billion dollar fines on the banks' stockholders, that is, your pension fund or 401k). The Clintons are a criminal enterprise, as Peter Schweizer showed in his book Clinton Cash. The foreign policy establishment treated the world like a giant social experiment and wasted blood and treasure to make the world safe for democracy.
The result is the most corrupt and cartelized economy in American history. For the first time since numbers were kept, new business has contributed next to nothing to employment recovery since 2009, as I reported here March 2. But Donald Trump encourages magical thinking. Repeating, "We're going to make America great again" by kicking out Mexican illegals and repatriating jobs from China is nonsense.
Our elites are rotten, but the people are hurting and confused. After the generation of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, America has done a terrible job of forming elites. But we still need leaders who can uplift us, teach us, and inspire us. Self-educated outsiders like Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan have been our ablest leaders, not the valedictorians of Harvard or Yale. Lincoln might have been self-educated, but he was the best thinker of his generation. Reagan also was self-taught, but he had a broad and detailed grasp of foreign policy and understood Robert Mundell's supply-side economics early on. They were also profoundly good men.
Ted Cruz is the a gifted outsider with unique leadership capacities. He has a brilliant grasp of Constitutional law from his service as Texas' solicitor general, a granular understanding of business economics from his service at the Federal Trade Commission, and a clear vision of what America should and shouldn't do in foreign policy. He was an academic superstar at Ivy League universities but never let his success flatter him into complacency. He has deep religious conviction. He also has the will to lead. It's not surprising he isn't popular among his Senate colleagues: if Cruz is elected president, it will shut down a corrupt and cozy game. He has the brains to understand the problem and the guts to clear the obstacles to a solution.
Donald Trump's popularity rests on his knack for handling politics as reality television. Americans always have distrusted elites, but today's popular culture takes this to a pathological extreme. We find it oppressive to admire anything that is better than us. Instead, we identify with what is like us. That's why we listen to singers who sound like an average drunk with a karaoke machine instead of Frank Sinatra. That's why reality TV is so popular. Everybody gets to be a star. We like to watch ourselves in the mirror. This blend of narcissism and resentment is toxic. Trump's bling-and-babes lifestyle has become a national paradigm for success. We're not Trump's constituents; we're a virtual posse.
We keep hearing that Trump is a businessman who will "get things done." That is utterly wrong: the most successful businessmen are very good at very limited number of things. Great entrepreneurs, as George Gilder wrote, are the kind of people who sit up all night thinking of better garbage routes. Trump is not even a particularly successful entrepreneur; if he had put the $100 million he inherited in 1978 into an index fund, he'd have twice as much money today. As a casino investor, he doesn't compare to Sheldon Adelson, who came from poverty and now has ten times Trump's wealth. In fact, Trump has the worst possible kind of background for a president: as the child of wealth running a private company, he is used to saying "Jump," and having his lackeys say, "How long should I stay in the air?"
Trump doesn't read. He brags about his own ignorance. Journalist Michael d'Antonio interviewed Trump at his New York home and told a German newspaper:
"What I noticed immediately in my first visit was that there were no books," says D'Antonio. "A huge palace and not a single book." He asked Trump whether there was a book that had influenced him. "I would love to read," Trump replied. "I've had many best sellers, as you know, and 'The Art of the Deal' was one of the biggest-selling books of all time." Soon Trump was talking about "The Apprentice." Trump called it "the No. 1 show on television," a reality TV show in which, in 14 seasons, he played himself and humiliated candidates vying for the privilege of a job within his company. In the interview, Trump spent what seemed like an eternity talking about how fabulous and successful he is, but he didn't name a single book that he hadn't written.
"Trump doesn't read," D'Antonio says in the restaurant. "He hasn't absorbed anything serious and profound about American society since his college days. And to be honest, I don't even think he read in college." When Trump was asked who his foreign policy advisers were, he replied: "Well, I watch the shows." He was referring to political talk shows on TV.
Trump voters may not read, either, but they should want their president to know something about the problems he proposes to address.
Trump is horribly wrong about big issues. America's economic problems are notdue to Mexican immigrants or Chinese imports, as I wrote in this space last July. I give him credit for punching through the "Islam-is-a-religion-of-peace" idiocy peddled by George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton. A plurality of Americans (46% to 40%) support his proposed ban on Muslim immigration. That's the wrong way to go about it; the right way is to treat the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, as Cruz proposes, and then roll up its supporters. I also give Trump credit for lambasting the awful Iran nuclear deal earlier this week at the AIPAC conference. Cruz did it a lot better.
Unless Hitler or Goebbels were to rise from the grave and run for president, I will not vote for Hillary Clinton; in a Trump-Clinton race, I will vote for Trump without a second's hesitation. One can't exclude the possibility that Trump might be a good president; he knows little and makes things up as he goes along, and might conceivably stumble on good solutions. But it is much more likely that he will preside over America's continuing decline while saturating us with self-consoling rhetoric.
We are in deep trouble. We need a president who can lead us out of our economic and moral slump. I fear that Ted Cruz is our last, best hope before we follow former superpowers like Britain down the slippery slope to national mediocrity.

How PC culture is killing higher education

Glenn Reynolds: How PC culture is killing higher education

Universities like Emory trivialize education by rewarding politically correct student dictators.

If I were to offer one piece of advice to university presidents, it would be to watch the scene from The Social Network in which Harvard President Larry Summers tells the Winklevoss twins to grow up and stop complaining about the actions of other students. “This action,” says Summers, “the two of you being here, is wrong.”
That’s precisely the response that university presidents should give to students who come, claiming fear and trembling, to see university presidents because they’re unhappy with the speech of other students. Instead, all too often, these students are indulged in a way that the Winklevoss twins were not, with consequences for the university, for higher education — and, actually for the complaining students themselves — that are likely to prove disastrous.
The latest example of this phenomenon can be found at Emory University in Atlanta.
At Emory, students of the “social justice” variety were upset when someone chalked ”Trump 2016” on sidewalks. The students announced that they felt “fear” and “pain” as a result. The students challenged the administration; one student demanded that it “decry the support for this fascist, racist candidate.” According to TheEmory Wheel, another student complained: “I’m supposed to feel comfortable and safe (here). But this man is being supported by students on our campus and our administration shows that they, by their silence, support it as well … I don’t deserve to feel afraid at my school.”
Emory President James Wagner at first showed a bit of resistance, but quickly caved, promising to identify and discipline the authors of the offending pro-Trump writings.TheEmory Wheel reported, "The University will review footage 'up by the hospital [from] security cameras' to identify those who made the chalkings, Wagner told the protesters. He also added that if they’re students, they will go through the conduct violation process, while if they are from outside of the University, trespassing charges will be pressed."
As New York Magazine’Jesse Singal wrote, this response was “extremely creepy, and a sign that something has gone seriously wrong.”
Writing in The Atlantic,Conor Friedersdorf noted that this sort of embarrassing student “activism” is actually fueling Trump’s rise. And as Reason’s Robby Soavecommented: “No wonder so many non-liberal students are cheering for Trump — not because they like him, but because he represents glorious resistance to the noxious political correctness and censorship that has come to define the modern college experience.”
But Friedersdorf makes another point, one that college presidents should keep in mind: The Emory protesters managed to fill a conference room and meet with Emory President James Wagner, but they don’t actually represent the feelings of Emory students overall. He observes: “On Yik Yak, a social media app popular among college students in large part because it permits anonymous speech, the Emory student reaction to the chalk controversy wasn’t mixed, as often happens when one views that platform during a campus controversy. It was clearly, overwhelmingly antagonistic to the student activists.”
Freed from a fear that student “activists” — and their allies in the university’s Student Life and Diversity offices — might punish them, students expressed their true feelings, and they demonstrate that the “activists” are a small, unrepresentative slice that is being indulged at the expense of the university as a whole. (This is probably why so many campus administrations and activists don’t like Yik Yak: It allows students to express themselves without fear of repercussions.)
POLICING THE USA: A look at race, justice, media
And indulging those activists is dangerous to universities because it makes them ridiculous. As Friedersdorf also notes, Emory and its “fearful” students were widely mocked, even in the liberal press. And they deserved to be mocked, because their behavior was childish and silly.
Higher education already faces falling enrollments, reduced public support and a general decline in public esteem. In Connecticut, the state legislature is even looking attaxing the enormous endowment of Yale UniversityUniversities used to be revered, but now, as Walter Russell Mead writes, “From the point of view of much of the public, highly-endowed colleges are becoming an underperforming asset: The feeling is growing that elite fat cat universities are an expensive luxury, and that the money spent propping up their endowments would be better spent buying school lunches for needy kids, or topping off up the pensions of retired civil servants.”
When students at Emory University — annual cost of attendance, $63,058 per year — act so foolishly , and worse, are indulged by those who are supposed to supply adult guidance, it gives the appearance that higher education is largely a waste of societal resources. That’s not a good place to be, right now. University presidents, take note.
Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a University of Tennessee law professor, is the author of The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself, and a member of USA TODAY's Board of Contributors.

You don't know Trump as well as you think: Column

You don't know Trump as well as you think: Column

It's wrong to write off the Donald asa cartoonish narcissist. There's more to him than that.

Many commentators are convinced they know the real Donald Trump. He is, they think, so obviously shallow, insecure and garish that single descriptive words or phrases are all that is needed.
He is, take your pick: “the Last of the Great Vaudevillians,” the “king of bad taste in a country that loves bad taste,” a “comic-opera demagogue.” Or, more seriously, a “con artist,” “a fascist,” “the latest in a long line of demagogues,” or a “bullying thug.”
Most of these characterizations are little more than name-calling masquerading as analysis.
Consider Trump’s “narcissism.” There is the brash and indisputably ostentatious display of his wealth. That’s coupled with a self-proclaimed vocabulary of his accomplishments that seems limited to superlatives.  This has given rise to a cottage industry of pundits who think they have plumbed Trump’s supposedly shallow emotional depths with a single, misapplied clinical term.
The hallmark of someone with a “narcissistic personality disorder” is “an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others.” This seems like a definition tailor made to fit Trump, and many, without further reflection, have used it that way.
Don’t Trump’s repetitive superlatives — “huge,” “great,” “biggest,” “wonderful” — all reflect his inflated self-importance? Doesn’t his branding of everything from steaks to towers reflect his need for admiration? Don’t his repeated and often personal attacks on his rivals and opponents show a lack of empathy?
No. No. And yes, although it’s more complicated than that.
Business conducted at his level of play requires ambition, risk-taking, resilience, and the capacity to fight back — just like national politics. Trump’s broadsides are a signal that if attacked, he will not go quietly into the night. And his outlandish policy prescriptions like the mass deportation of illegal aliens and a possible trade war with China are best seen as reflecting the direction of his thinking — opening bids as it were, not deeply held and entrenched policy positions.
Empathy for the left out, ignored little guy? Trump has built his campaign on it. Ordinary Americans are looking for a fighter, someone who considers “cares about people like me” to mean that a candidate will fight for them. His reflects a much keener diagnosis of the public he hopes to lead than Jeb Bush’s idea of campaigning as a “joyful tortoise.”
Critics have conflated the by-products of Trump’s branding strategy with his character. He engineered a successful repositioning of his highly leveraged building empire to one increasingly built on his brand name. Big, bold, brash and successful are its sales themes.
Is there an element of hype in the pitch? Of course there is, and it carries over to his “Make America Great Again” theme. Yet note that the object of his ambitions is not himself, the mark of a true narcissist, but his country. And note too the word “again” that speaks to restoration and reform."
POLICING THE USA: A look at race, justice, media
Trump has said repeatedly that “the country is in trouble,” and he is not alone in thinking so. Seventy-one percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the direction of the county. Trust in government has declined from 73% in 1958 to 19% today. Trust in public institutions, including the presidency, Congress, the Supreme Court and the federal government, is also at historical lows.
Mr. Trump offers himself as someone who wants to and can fix what’s ailing us. He may well be entirely experientially unprepared and temperamentally unsuited to accomplish his purpose should he gain office, but I credit his motive with sincerity. It compares favorably in purpose  to our current president who publicly aspired to “greatness” for himself and transformation for the country.
Mr. Trump has said, “I didn't need to do this. I have a wonderful life. I have a great, great company... I wanted to do it, because somebody has to do it.” This may well be true, but his motive is not devoid of self-interest.
That self-interest is summed up in the title of Aretha’s Franklin’s iconic song R-E-S-P-E-C-T. From his childhood roots in the out-borough of Queens, into the wilds of Manhattan that his father warned him were not hospitable to “our kind of people,” to his relentless pursuit of the Plaza Hotel because it added tradition and class to his holdings, to his efforts to be a major political player (an effort that the president mocked and others like Romney never took too seriously), Trump, like the rest of us, has been seeking recognition for his accomplishments.
He has been called “a clown candidate.” And, as he noted before the New Hampshire primary, “A lot of people have laughed at me over the years. Now, they’re not laughing so much.”
The issues Trump raises are serious. He seems serious about addressing them. His capacity for leadership is real, if flawed. The most important question about a President Trump, however, is whether, should he gain office, he could learn how to successfully govern.
Stanley Renshona political science professor at the City University of New York, is a certified psychoanalyst and the author of 15 books, most recently Barack Obama and the Politics of Redemption.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Deep in the Red, California Pension Fund Pulls Political Stunts

Deep in the Red, California Pension Fund Pulls Political Stunts
The Manhattan Institute’s Steven Malanga has described the history of California’s major public pension fund as “a three-decade-long transformation from a prudently managed steward of workers’ pensions into a highly politicized advocate for special interests.” The latest evidence: The fund—which faces unfunded liabilities north of $100 billion, and rising—recently announced that it would require companies it invests in to signal their concern for climate change by changing their board composition, even if it cuts into their bottom line. Governing magazine reports:
In an effort to highlight the potential impacts of global warming, the nation’s largest public pension fund is asking corporations to include climate change experts on their governing boards.
On Monday, the investment committee for California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) voted to start requiring the corporations it invests in to include people on their boards who have expertise in climate change risk management strategies.
It’s important to remember that CalPERS is investing with taxpayer money, and that it is taxpayers that will be on the hook if and when the size of the shortfall (created by a combination of incompetent investment and union capture of the state political system) becomes to large for the fund to bear. CalPERS’ latest political stunt, like themany that have come before it, foists more risk onto taxpayers—without their consent—for little reason other than to signal its own institutional virtue.
The state legislature should protect Californians from the inept multibillion dollar financial corporation it created by imposing a back-to-the-basics investment policy. Before adding these kinds of bells and whistles to its portfolio, CalPERS should be required to either meet its investment targets for a number of years, or adjust its investment targets and contribution schedules, so that its finances are sound.
The American military commander Joe Stilwell used to say about Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek that he should spend more time “generaling” and less time “issimoing.” As with the endeavors of the Chinese Nationalist Party, state governance would proceed more smoothly if leaders focused on getting the basic job done (like funding their basic obligations) before taking on gratuitous special projects.

Obama: No Difference Between Capitalism and Communism

Barack Obama Che Guevara. (AP Photo/Dennis Rivera) - Puerto Rico OUT
President Barack Obama confirmed all conservative doubts and worries about him in comments to young people in Argentina on Thursday. Not only did he say that the differences between communism and capitalism are intellectual rather than practical, he also declared that people should choose from either system whatever idea best suits the moment. This is  the kind of thinking that created Marxism in the first place.
Obama started out by decrying the "sharp division between left and right, between capitalist and communist or socialist." The president admitted that it has "been a big debate," especially in the Americas. He gave specific examples of attacks from both sides: "You're a Capitalist Yankee dog!" and "You're some crazy communist who's going to take away everybody's property!"
But here's the kicker:
Those are interesting intellectual arguments, but I think for your generation, you should be practical, and just choose from what works. You don't have to worry about whether it neatly fits into socialist theory or capitalist theory, you should just decide what works.
What does Obama think is a good example of what works? Cuba. No, seriously, that's what he said. He recalled speaking with President Raul Castro in Cuba:
I said, look, you've made great progress in educating young people: Every child in Cuba gets a basic education -- that's a huge improvement from where it was. Medical care: the life expectancy of Cubans is equivalent to the United States, despite it being a very poor country, because they have access to healthcare. That's a huge achievement, they should be congratulated.
Yes, Obama just praised a (recovering?) communist country for its education and healthcare systems. Obamacare opponents, look no further for attacks on the president's health law -- he thinks Cuba should be our model.
Next Page: Obama defends free markets, but uses the thinking that gave birth to communism.
But the president also had some less kind words for Castro.
But, you drive around Havana and you see "this economy's not working!" It looks like it did in the 1950s. So you have to be practical in asking yourself how you can achieve the goals of equality and inclusion but also recognize that the market system produces a lot of wealth and goods and services and innovation. It also gives individuals freedom, because they have initiative.
This part is great, because Obama is actually defending free markets. Such comments give hope to the Arthur Brookses of the world that we can team up with Democrats to fight world poverty. But don't go too overboard: Obama also makes sure to couch those markets in very specific terms.
What you'll find is that the most successful societies, the most successful economies are the ones that are rooted in a market-based system but also recognize that a market does not work by itself. It has to have a social and moral and ethical community basis. There has to be inclusion, otherwise it's not stable.
This is true, but these moral bedrocks should be societal, not governmental. The biggest mistake of communism and socialism is that they try to force moral agreement through government decree.
Finally, Obama argued that capitalism and communism are two competing interests that need to be overcome. This is classic Hegelian "thesis, antithesis, synthesis," the bedrock of Karl Marx's communist ideas.
It's up to you, whether you're in business or academia or the nonprofit sector, to create new forms that are adapted to the new conditions that we live in today.
Sounds reasonable, right? It all depends on what you think the "new conditions of today" are, and it really does matter whether you see them in a communist or capitalist light. Sorry, Mr. Obama, but you won't hoodwink all of us, no matter how good your rhetoric is.

The Curse of Santayana, the Revenge of Karl Marx

A flower lays on the granite marker at the location where student Allison Krause was shot and killed on May 4, 1970 on the campus of Kent State University in Kent, Ohio. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)
Maybe it's just us geezers who have seen this movie and know how it ends, butDavid Horowitz and I come to the same place on this issue, having started way back in the tumultuous 1960s as far apart as we could be:
The mob that came to disrupt the Trump rally in Chicago was neither spontaneous nor innocent, nor new. It was a mob that has been forming ever since the Seattle riots against the World Trade Organization in 1999, whose target was global capitalism. The Seattle rioters repeated their outrages for the next two years and then transformed itself into the so-called “anti-war” movement to save the Saddam dictatorship in Iraq. Same leaders, funders and troops. The enemy was always America and its Republican defenders. When Obama invaded countries and blew up families in Muslim countries, there was no anti-war movement because Obama was one of them, and they didn’t want to divide their support. In 2012 the so-called “anti-war” movement reformed as “Occupy Wall Street.” They went on a rampage creating cross-country riots to protesting the One Percent and provided a whipping boy for Obama’s re-election campaign. Same leaders, same funders and troops. In 2015 the same leftwing forces created and funded Black Lives Matter and lynch mobs in Ferguson and Baltimore who targeted “white supremacists” and police.
Behind all the mobs was the organized left –, the public sector unions run by Sixties leftovers,  and the cabal of anti-American billionaires led by George Soros. The mobs themselves were composed of the hate-filled foot soldiers of the political left. Now these forces have gathered in the campaign to elect the Vermont communist and are focusing their venom on Donald Trump. The obvious plan is to make Republicans toxic while driving a wedge through the Republican Party. The plan is defeat Republicans in November so that the destructive forces they have set in motion in the Democratic Party can finish the wrecking job that Obama started.
Alas, it seems that some of our friends on the right have lost sight of this long-march-through-the-institutions fact, and would prefer instead to warn the Republic about the incipient danger of a possible Donald Trump administration. But when you're of an age -- pretty much anybody under 50 -- when, as a conservative, you were born into the Reagan revolution, and consider the anomalous twelve years from 1980-1992/6 as the essence of the "conservative movement, you have a problem understanding both Trump and the new political universe in which you find yourselves.
There are two aphorisms at play here, both famous, each oft-misinterpreted but worth recalling. The first is the philosopher George Santayana's dictum that "those who forget history are condemned to repeat it." The second, of course, is Marx's famous notion that history repeats itself, first time as tragedy, second time as farce. Those of us who came into our majority during the tumultuous late sixties and early seventies are now witnessing the truth of both dicta.
Let me say that I hold no particular brief for Donald Trump as a political candidate. Despite having watched him in action since 1981, I have no idea what sort of a leader he would be and, I suspect, neither does he.  But there's no denying that Trump has tapped into an enormous reservoir of ill-will directed against the political class and, in his case, against the feckless and corrupt Republican establishment and its media sycophants. Had they shown even one-tenth the hostility toward Barack Obama as they do today toward Trump, the nation might have been spared such unconstitutional excrescences as Obamacare. Further, the lack of political will was catching, extending to the nominally conservative Supreme Court; when John Roberts saw which way the wind was blowing, he apparently switched his vote on the president's "health care" bill -- really, just another punitive tax on the middle class -- and acquiesced to the Left's brute-force victory. Trump is simply the vessel for this pent-up anger.
Rage, however, is only palatable and legitimate when it is expressed by the Left. Never mind that they have had nearly two full terms of the first president with a Muslim Arabic name and just seven years after 9/11; how's that for diversity? Never mind that for a couple of years they had filibuster-proof majorities in both houses of Congress. Instead, they've ranted about Republican intransigence and the imaginary racial animus behind one political party's blocking of the other's more radical initiatives. And so they continue to rage, as if the recent past had never happened.
But the amount of churlish invective spewed his way is both remarkable and dangerous.  Already we have seen clashes at Trump rallies as the Left, emboldened by some conservative pundits and feeling protected by its own cult of lawyerism that protects it from the physical payback it so eagerly courts, has sought to disrupt, block, or otherwise prevent legitimate political functions. I well remember the events of the awful year 1968, which included the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Bobby Kennedy, race riots and the violent student-police clashes at the Democratic convention in Chicago. No period is exactly analogous, of course, but 2016 is already feeling too close to 1968 for comfort. And there can be no doubt that its lessons have been totally forgotten by today's kiddie korps on both sides, most of whom never learned them in the first place, and who (on the Right) bemoan the loss of the "principles" of a "conservative movement" they misunderstand and had absolutely nothing to do with the formulation of the first place.
So much for Santayana. As for Marx, at the moment it does appear that he was correct, and that the oft-buffoonish figure of Trump is the comic second coming of the tragedies of 1968. But as January 1968 dawned, along with it came the Tet Offensive, which set off a chain reaction of world/historical events that also included President Johnson's decision in March (after a modest electoral rebuff in the New Hampshire primary) not to seek re-election, thus opening up the Democrat nomination to the chaos and street-fighting that ensued that summer. Johnson essentially abdicated with a call for national unity that never came:
What we got instead was the Chicago riots, the election of Richard Nixon (the most liberal Republican in modern times), the shootings at Kent State University in Ohio, the seizure of the Democrat Party by the radical left in 1972 and the defeat of McGovern (on whose campaign Bill Clinton got his start), Watergate, the accidental Ford presidency, Jimmy Carter, the Ayatollah Khomeini and the taking of the American hostages in Iran. And it was that series of unfortunate events that finally brought Ronald Reagan to the White House.
This, I think, is what younger conservatives today forget -- that Reagan was not simply handed to a grateful nation as a reward for making the proper electoral choice in the election of 1980. (The Left was appalled and dismayed, and heartbroken when he crushed Mondale 49-1, in 1984.) Reagan had to work for it -- hoisting the Goldwater flag in 1964, losing the 1976 nomination to Ford, and finally winning four years later.
But the nation had to work even harder, working through its generational battle (the Baby Boomers vs. their parents) and the internecine warfare, still ongoing, among the Boomers themselves. In Trump and Clinton, this fall's election may well see two aging Boomers, each emblematic of their side in the intra-generational squabble: the capitalist vs. the Marxist (for so indisputably she is). In each case, their vision of America is either aging rapidly or outmoded entirely, but that won't stop tempers from fraying as their supporters are, almost literally, driven toward madness.
Enough. The country called the United States of America will survive Obama, and it will survive Trump, Clinton or even Bernie Sanders. What it won't be however, is the place in which most of the Boomers grew up, and which shaped the Manichaean world-views that still compete for cultural supremacy. "The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there," wrote the British novelist L. P. Hartley in The Go-Between, in a sentence that has long outlived its author. As you look around at the wreckage that has followed in our footsteps since 1968, you'd do well to research how we got here in the first place.