Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Profiles in Sucking Up

The WikiLeaks Hillary Clinton email archive is a fascinating information resource.  It is the duty of all good citizens to educate themselves about the candidates, and what better way than reading their work emails?

Of note is a Minnesota connection.  Eric Schwartz is the Dean of the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs.  Before ascending to that lofty ivory tower, he was the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration.  He was also Hillary Clinton’s occasional pen pal.  Or at least he was a pen pal by proxy, not writing the then Secretary of State directly, but occasionally reaching out to her assistants Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin, to facilitate communication.

We begin the story with an email in May, 2011, with news of his taking the position at the University of Minnesota:

I promised you I'd let you know the very moment I had made a decision on the Humphrey School.  And in what has been the most difficult career decision I have ever confronted, I have decided to accept their offer. It was so difficult because I cannot imagine a more meaningful and fulfilling position than the one I now hold. And I cannot imagine a more inspiring leader than the Secretary —or more support than that which I've received from you, and from others on her senior-level team.

This man cannot imagine a more inspiring leader than Hillary Clinton.

Have you ever heard of Winston Churchill?  Mahatma Gandhi?  Martin Luther King?   Wet blankets.

Maybe Eric Schwartz doesn’t get out much.  Or maybe, to paraphrase another line from the Princess Bride, that word doesn’t mean what he thinks it means.

But he's not alone in this opinion of the Secretary.  Here's a sampling of others in the Hillary email collection, striking a similar tone:

Kathleen S. Ruckman, Branch Chief, Department of State Office of Children’s Issues:

Thank you so much for your excellent introduction of the Secretary today, and for your support of the good work of GLIFFA. As always, the Secretary was brilliant and inspiring.

Brilliant and inspiring.  Why was Eric Schwartz’s support for Hillary so milquetoast?  

David Goldwyn, Special Envoy for International Energy Affairs:

I thank all of you, my partners in EEB, and in the regional and functional bureaus for your friendship, kindness and collaboration.  And most of all I am deeply grateful to Secretary Clinton for giving me the opportunity to advance this energy security agenda, and for being such and amazing, inspiring, and courageous leader.

The triple down brown nose, well played.

And finally, Ambassador Joe Wilson.  Yes, THAT Joe Wilson.  When he’s not drinking sweet mint tea and not finding anything in Niger, he’s forging bold new frontiers in the art of email sycophantry:

Dear Hillary, Below you will find a note from Valerie on a Global Zero summit at Yale in February. I want to take this occasion to wish you, WJC and Chelsea and Marc all the very best this holiday season and in 2012.  You have been a voice of reason in the cacophony that passes for discourse in our international affairs, and a beacon of hope for women throughout the world. Thank you and your family foyour tremendous service to humankind.

Inspiring hope throughout the world and providing tremendous service to all humankind.  Your move, Jesus Christ.

Seriously, if Joe Wilson were writing an email to the Messiah upon his second coming, hoping to, say, secure a job or influential favors down the road, how does he ‘up’ the rhetoric from what he already wrote to Hillary Clinton?

Also, a warning for all of you people writing to Hillary  If you keep telling her things like this, she’s going to start to believe it!  The last thing we need is a President who believes themselves to be a brilliant, courageous, inspiring, gift to all humankind.

Plus, I’m not sure that kowtowing to power at this level actually gets you anything.  When the dear leader is under a constant torrent of praise and accolades, your little droplet of boot licking isn’t likely to be all that memorable.

For example, take Eric Schwartz.  In 2012, the year after leaving Secretary Clinton’s service, and attesting to her unimaginably inspiring leadership, he wrote back, asking for a solid in return:

Madam Secretary: I first want to convey greetings to you from You have so many friends and admirers here in the Twin Cities, and there is so much good work being done here on public issues of concern to you. For these reasons, I thought I'd take the liberty of asking whether we could present to you the Humphrey School of Public Affairs Public Leadership Award at a Minneapolis event sometime next April, at a specific date we could determine that suits your schedule.
… But if you might be prepared, in principle, to consider joining us in mid to late April, I'd be very eager to provide additional information. Your participation would be a source of great inspiration to people in Minnesota and beyond.

Or to put it in other words, unimaginably inspiring leadership to all of humankind.

Imagine this if you will.  What if the above were actually true?  What if YOU receiving the Humphrey School of Public Affairs Leadership Award gave great inspiration to millions and millions of people?  Or, what if that proposition was questionable, but a valued colleague actually believed in it?  The obvious response to such a request would be “What a wonderful opportunity and thank you for the very kind words, I’ll clear my schedule for any day you desire, please let me know what works for you.”

Or … you could respond like Hillary Clinton when this request was forwarded to her via Huma Abedin:

Let's respond that we're putting on the list to consider for next year.

That doesn't sound good at all.  Not just the lack of acceptance. And not just the lack of key pronouns to make it a complete sentence.  It’s that detached “tell him we’re putting him on the list to consider". If she said “put him on the list” that would be a bit more promising.   But this only says tell him he’s on the list.

Did she ever agree to get the award?   Did he ever actually get on the list to consider?
The Hillary Clinton email database is silent on this matter.  Perhaps her response caught up in a pre-release purging.  But maybe there’s an inspiring, happy ending yet?

Let’s go to the record.  Drumroll please.  The official recipients of the Humphrey Leadership Award for 2013 were ...

Marilyn Carlson Nelson, Former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Carlson
Daniel Glickman and Chris Policinski, on behalf of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition
The Honorable Antonio Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Former Prime Minister of Portugal
Trista Harris (alumni recipient), Executive Director of Headwaters Foundation for Justice

TA DA!  Oh, wait a minute.

An impressive list to be sure, but a noticeable absence of the Secretary of State.   To be fair, I don’t know what happened.  It’s possible she accepted, was scheduled to appear, and then the Humphrey people got a call from Antonio Guterres’s people, and she got bumped.  As we all know, when the former Prime Minister of Portugal calls, you make room.

Of note, the years 2014 – 2016 show an absence of Hillary Clinton as well.  Ah well, there’s always next year.

Either way, I have no doubt Eric Schwartz still holds Hillary Clinton in the highest personal regard. But we can hope that the boundaries of his imagination have been slightly expanded.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Love The Job You Have

Among the most damaging platitudes that have been inflicted on recent generations of youth are ones that revolve around the idea of “following your dream.”

“Love what you do and do what you love.”

“Let money follow your dreams. Don't let your dreams follow money.”

“You can do anything you set your mind to.”

These happy sounding aphorisms may seem harmless, but they can set up unrealistic expectations and prevent people from finding satisfaction in doing real jobs that involve real work. The latest edition of Prager University features a commencement address from a special guest who knows a thing or two about work.

In this year’s PragerU commencement address, Mike Rowe, host of Discovery Channel’s Dirty Jobs and CNN’s Somebody's Gotta Do It, has a surprising message for graduates: don’t follow your passion. For one thing, passion and ability are not necessarily related, so you may never find that “dream job.” Furthermore, blindly following your dreams can keep you from finding meaningful work in another, equally satisfying field. Watch the video here and learn why your passion should follow you -- not the other way around.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Anatomy of Winning Elections

The Congressional election in Minnesota’s 8th district features a rematch from two years ago, the, now, incumbent Rick Nolan (DFL) and his Republican challenger, Stewart Mills.

The same candidates, discussing the same issues, in order to represent the same geographic area.  If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again and expecting a different result, those holding out hope for a Stewart Mills victory may benefit from seeking out a good psychopharmacologist.    

However, don’t place that mail order for your lithium prescription just yet.   For the wily Stewart Mills has endeavored to shake this redux election to its core.  

The man once referred to as the ”Brad Pitt of the Republican Party” ….

… has cut his hair.  

Kudos to Mills though for giving the voters the 'change' they claim to be calling for.  And kudos for giving us a controlled test at that.  Everything is identical about this election, except for this one variable – the length of one of the candidate’s hair.   Finally, we can test the effect of hair on electoral outcomes, under laboratory conditions.  

After this, here’s to methodically moving down the human body and testing one anatomical feature at a time, and we can finally engineer the perfect candidate.  

UPDATE:  Disturbing news out of the Rick Nolan campaign.  After consulting with his senior campaign advisers, Rick Nolan is debuting his new campaign ad tomorrow featuring this look:  

Well that certainly confuses the issue.  Why does Rick Nolan hate science?

UPDATE:  According to inside sources, Stewart Mills will not let this bold challenge go unanswered.  At a hastily called press conference at 12 noon tomorrow in front of the Great Clips on Miller Trunk Highway in Duluth, Mills plans to reestablish his advantage.  

Your move, Rick Nolan. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

HWX on King Banaian

King Banaian was on a rare and well-deserved break last week from the King Banaian Radio show, and the HWX podcast its best to fill his tassled Armenian leather loafers.

Topics addressed include:

*  The Minnesota legislature's plan for the tax collection surplus - are you included in the "wide swath" of citizens designated as worthy of a refund?

*  Chelsea Clinton's husband tanks a hedge fund and Bernie Sanders' wife bankrupts a college.  Isn't it time we helped the economy by getting these people out of the private sector and back into government?  We discuss the real wages of privilege.

*  The bathroom wars continue, with a discussion of Target's recent stock performance, and a reprise of the Brownsville Stations's new version of Smokin' in the Boys room.

*  Obama speech writers laughing it up over their false promises made to the American people in years past.  We analyze the audio of old Obama speeches to see if there were any subtle clues.

Check it all out here:

Hour 1

Hour 2

And remember, King Banaian returns to live broadcasting this Saturday, at 9AM, on 1440 AM and  Don't you dare miss it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Real World

“It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.”
-Jonathan Swift

At the risk of attempting to do exactly that, Matthias Shapiro has penned a piece that seeks to undercut the popular sentiment among GOP voters that the Republican Senators and Representatives they helped elect in recent years (2010 and 2014 especially) have “done nothing” to seek to stymie the Obama administration’s plans and according to some have even collaborated with President Obama to help implement his progressive agenda to transform the country. He employs a number of facts and figures to bolster his argument which means his appeal to reason is likely to fall on ears quite deaf to such logic and quite sold on the belief that the cuckservative GOP establishment has abandoned their principles and the only hope now lies in burning it all down.

Nevertheless, for those open to embracing statistics rather than slogans it is well worth reading.

The GOP Won the Spending War While No One Was Looking:

But after Republicans took control of Congress in 2011, despite what you may have heard, they really did put a brake on federal spending. A really good brake. In fact, since 2011, federal spending has increased at only 1.3 percent per year ... the slowest rate since the aftermath of World War II.

During this lengthy and exhausting (physically, morally, and spiritually) campaign season numbers were thrown about with reckless abandon. Yet, I never once heard that 1.3% growth in government spending per year since 2011 mentioned. Seems like a pretty salient number.

This might not seem like a big difference. After all, spending is still growing, isn’t it? But capping the spending increases by that much year over hear has a massive cumulative effect. Consider what Obama projected in his budgets against what the Republican Congress gave him.

In 2009, Obama promised to cut federal spending by $100 million, which sounds big but is actually hilariously small in terms of federal spending. By contrast, by 2012 (the first fiscal year the majority GOP could even influence), the Republicans had slashed Obama’s budget expectations by $217 billion … more than 2,000 times that amount.

And that was just the beginning.

The difference between Obama’s 2015 spending projection and what was actually spent was an astounding $697 billion dollars. That’s more money than we spent on Medicaid.

Let that sink in.

In five years, the Republicans managed to hold back Obama's spending increases by more money than if they actually got rid of Medicaid. And so far 2016 looks like it will hold to that trend.

Has the Republican Congress fulfilled the expectation of the conservative voters who elected them? Not even close. Have they missed opportunities to stand on conservative principles? Too many to even count. Have they done everything they possibly could in a strategic and sensible manner to thwart President Obama’s ambitions? Probably not.

However, that’s a long ways from “doing nothing” or even worse supporting President Obama’s efforts. Acting within the constraints that our imperfect yet best possible political system provides they did make a considerable difference in slowing down the spending train whose fire the Democrats were more than happy to keep fueling. While they weren’t able to starve the beast at least they were able to reduce its intake.

So before we go all in on threats to “burn it all down” and lap up vacuous promises that will only be fulfilled in fairy land, let’s take a moment and recognize the reality of what’s really happened or not happened over the last five years when it comes to spending.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

HWX, with Guest Steven Crowder

It’s a very special episode of HWX, with Brian Ward and Paul Happe reconvening to discuss the key issues of the day.
crowder 1The boys are joined by the great Steven Crowder, of the hillarous podcast Louder with Crowder. Steven discusses his burgeoning battle against Facebook and their suppression of conservative news, as well the art behind his masterful impressions of Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and Lena Dunham, and more thoughts on the current political scene.
Other topics addressed include:
* The key civil rights issue of our time – the right to use the gender bathroom of your choice. Also featured, a sneak preview of the remix of the Brownsville Station/Motley Crue classic, Smokin’ in the Boys Room, made more relevant for these troubled times.
* Where have all the losing Presidential candidates gone? They’ve checked their egos at the door and made a new tribute album with their favorite rockers. It’s Campaign Gold 2: The Duets and we’ve got the exclusive audio.
* The humor of the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, a review of some of the jokes told by host Larry Wilmore. Funny or not? We decide.
* Andrew Jackson kicked to the back of the $20 bill. And that’s not all, we have exclusive audio of the next stage of our national deJacksonification.
HWX is brought to you by the SaneBox. It’s time to create order in the chaos that is your email inbox, with this amazing organizational tool. Visit for a FREE trial today. And when it’s time to sign up for a membership, you get $25 off for being a Ricochet listener.
Never miss an HWX podcast by subscribing in iTunes. If you liked the show, please tell a friend. And if you didn’t, STOW it. 
There are many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mother ship at Ricochet.  You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes.  Or you can just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this website.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from a written transcript.  Hope you enjoy.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

This Time It's Personal

The process to determine who will be the Republican nominee for president in 2016 is all but complete. A few more primaries remain, but Donald Trump place at the top of the GOP ticket is now a done deal. While we’ve been heading toward this outcome for some time, the fact that it has become a reality is a still a bit stunning. People are trying to wrap their minds around what this means for the country and the Republican party in both the near and long term. And there will be no shortage of this sort of soul searching analysis in the days to come.

However, if you step back from the potential political and even historical implications of Trump’s candidacy for a moment and look at the pending Trump-Clinton showdown purely from an entertainment perspective you can’t help but admit that it’s going to a magnificent spectacle. Like everything else that Trump has done up to this point, it will be unlike any political campaign of our lifetimes.

It’s going to be ugly. It’s going to be gory. It’s going to be crazy. And those are just three of the words that Trump will use to describe Hillary in his acceptance speech in Cleveland.

It’s going to be Iran vs Iraq. It’s going to be Nazi Germany vs the Soviet Union. Scorched earth. Take no prisoners. Give no quarter.

On the one side you have the Clinton machine. These are the folks who created and perfected the concept of “the politics of personal destruction.” They have shown no hesitation about doing anything necessary to destroy anyone who stands in the way of their quest for power. Whatever means that are required to ensure the ends of President Hillary will be justified and employed without regard to ethics or morality.

One the other side you have Donald Trump. Trump is the ultimate politician for the reality television era. There is no separation between the public and personal. Everything is public and everything is personal and everything is fair game. He’s mocked his opponents for their energy, their looks, their wife’s looks, their physical stature, and their eating manners. He’s made allusions to his opponents involvement in extramarital affairs, pedophilia, and conspiracies to assassinate JFK (indirectly). At one point or another during the primary campaign, he accused nearly every one of his GOP opponents of lying. He invented insulting nicknames for many of them and labeled them all as losers. You can only imagine him drooling over the prospect of Hillary as a rich target of opportunity for such lines of attack.

The Clinton-Trump presidential campaign will likely not be good for America and could be disastrous for the Republican Party. But it will not be boring. Might as well sit back and enjoy the show.

Monday, May 02, 2016

HWX: Making Radio History

HWX was on the radio a week or so back, filling in on the Great King Banaian Radio Show on Business Radio 1440AM.  Those tapes have of course been sent directly to the Igor Pavek Museum of Broadcasting for their consideration.   But, for a limited time, the broadcast is now available for FREE in podcast form.

Hour 1

Hour 2

 Please click the links above for all the exciting commentary related to Andrew Jackson getting bumped from the double sawbuck, analysis of campaign donations by the first name of donor, celebrity Earth day tips, a preview of the exciting new album:  Campaign Gold 2:  The Duets, a word from our scorching new sponsor, Ivanka Trump Fashion scarves, and much more.  Don’t you dare miss it!

A Party, If You Can Keep It

If Donald Trump wins tomorrow’s Indiana primary, he will most likely go on to secure the majority of delegates he needs to claim the GOP nomination. And if he does, he will have earned that nomination despite the misgivings of many in the party.

However, if things don’t break Trump’s way in Indiana or down the road in California and other states, he may arrive at the GOP convention in Cleveland without having the 1237 delegates required by party rules to win the nomination. And if he doesn’t have enough delegates to triumph on the first ballot and subsequent ballots lead to a different candidate being nominated it will be a perfectly reasonable outcome.

What? But what about the “voice of the people”? What about the millions of voters who cast ballots for Trump across the country? Isn’t this supposed to be a democracy?

No, no it is most certainly not. One of the worst problems with the way that both parties select their presidential candidates these days is the illusion that the primary/caucus/convention processes the party follow are essentially the same as those that are followed in a general election. Many if not most Americans across the political spectrum have fallen for the illusion and believe it to be reality. The media has helped enable this by reporting on primary elections as if they were the same as general elections and rarely taking the time to explain the fundamental differences.

A key point which many fail to understand is that political parties are private entities. As such they can determine who can join their organizations and who will lead their organizations. This includes who will represent them in general elections. Nothing that they do in any of these areas has to fair, transparent, or open (unlike government entities such as the IRS-heh, heh).

If the GOP decided that the nomination would go to the candidate divined by Reince Preibus reading the entrails of a gutted sheep, it would be well within its rights to do so. Or the party could have the candidate determined by the type of smoked filled room Republican cabal featured in The Simpsons.

The point is that none of this have to involve the “voice of the people” or “the will of the voters.” The party should choose a candidate for the good of the party. Nothing more, nothing less.

In last Friday’s WSJ, Philip Terzian helped explain the roots of the problem in a piece called How George McGovern Made Donald Trump Possible:

Political parties aren’t branches of government. They have every right and reason to organize for success in general elections. Until very recently, most conventions in American history were brokered. Some of these were contentious, even rancorous, producing results that in historical terms—Lincoln, Eisenhower, James Knox Polk, Adlai Stevenson—were impressive. It isn’t unreasonable to believe that a party’s leadership has in mind the best interests of the party, and the country.

Have Republicans lately wondered why people who ought to run for president don’t, and why people who shouldn’t run for president jump right in? Read 1970’s Mandate for Reform. In a half-century we’ve gone from a shrewd, top-down selection process to a traveling carnival of the lowest common denominator.

It’s never been more of a carnival with a lower common denominator than it has in 2016.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Media Alert: HWX on the Radio

HWX will be making a command performance (it's a part of our community service sentence) on the King Banian Radio Show, this Saturday, from 9am - 11 am (central).  Listen LIVE in the Twin Cities on KYCR (AM 1440), and streaming worldwide here or via the I Heart Radio App (search KYCR).

In the spirit of King's show, we'll stick to hard core economic talk.  Advance preparations indicate topics may include:  big changes to the $20 bill, a full review of the pros and cons Andrew Jackson vs. Harriet Tubman; the economic implications of gender fluid public restrooms (that sounds weird, we'll edit before showtime); the pay gap Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders keep mentioning - truth or fiction?   Plus the debut of some sponsors, Ivanka Trump's HOT fashion scarves and the rock compilation album Campaign Gold 2:  The Duets.

It all happens Saturday (April 23) at 9am central.  Don't you dare miss it.

Ninety-Seven Percent Pure...

The latest course offering from Prager University is on climate change and addresses the notion that there is a scientific consensus that it is an imminent threat which requires drastic action.

By now you’ve probably heard the frightening statistic: 97% of scientists agree that climate change represents an existential crisis for mankind, and the only way to save the planet is to ban fossil fuels. But is this statistic really true? Enter Richard Lindzen, an emeritus professor of atmospheric sciences at MIT and one of the nation’s most renowned climate scientists. Professor Lindzen explains that most atmospheric scientists do indeed agree on the basic factors, both man-made and natural, that significantly impact the climate, but that the science and data aren’t giving us much reason to worry. So where are all of the doomsday predictions coming from?

Friday, April 15, 2016

HWX: April Love with Guest Mike Nelson

It’s a special midweek edition of HWX with Brian Ward of Fraters Libertas and Paul Happe of the Nihilist in Golf Pants reconvening to discuss the critical issues of our time. Topics addressed include:
* Black Lives Matters protests – their tactics and motivations are analyzed, including audio of a master of rhetorical jujitsu, Bill Clinton and how he responds, with equal parts shaming and offering up the real villain – the Republican party.
* Hillary Clinton and CPT time – analysis of her allegedly racist joke, as well as exclusive new audio of her subsequent appearance to make amends with a comedy set at the Apollo Theater.
* Trump – with a break in the primary season, the Trump children take center stage, and we analyze the genetic comparison of children by Trump wife. Also coverage of the Trump children’s inability to vote in New York, and Ivanka’s hot new scarf line (with an exclusive sneak preview of her new ad).
nelson imageThe highlight of the show is an appearance by comedy legend Mike Nelson of He gives us the latest scoop on the new movies getting the Rifftrax treatment, including Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Also details on the upcoming Rifftrax LIVE show (at a movie theater near you), on May 5, with a riff of the cult classic Time Chasers. We also discuss the grand reunion of the entire Mystery Science Theater 3000 crew (Joel Hodgson et al), coming on June 28. Tickets to both events can be purchased at Rifftrax LIVE.
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There are many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mother ship at Ricochet.  You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes.  Or you can just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this website.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from a written transcript.  Hope you enjoy.