Wednesday, October 28, 2020

"Win Without Crowing; Lose Without Crying"

Al Mann, Duke University 1936
Long ago in Durham, North Carolina, there was a football program for elementary school-age boys — the Al Mann Towel Football League, which played on an open field in Forest Hills.

No hitting. No pads. Just blue or red t-shirts and shorts with a towel stuck in your belt that would get pulled by the opposition when you had the football which meant you were down at that point. Kids learned how to work together as a team and got some exercise and a lot of fresh air before going to a Duke or Carolina “real” football game later that afternoon.

Care to guess what was really being taught all those Saturday mornings?

Sportsmanship, fair play, integrity and honor. Football was way, way down the list.

Al Mann had been a championship boxer at Duke University before World War II. All of the parents of the boys who played in his league grew up in the Great Depression, the one that makes anything we have gone through look like a garden party. Later, after all that hardship growing up, those parents fought in and suffered through World War II, the bloodiest and most costly war in contemporary human history in terms of lives lost.

They knew what honor, duty and responsibility meant. They had lived it.

Al Mann opened every practice and ended every game with his trademark challenge to every young man in his program: “Win without crowing; lose without crying”.

If I heard it once, I heard it a thousand times. In a world of total chaos, unemployment, famine and war, the only things that carried those parents through difficulty was their word, their honor, their trustworthiness as a friend and neighbor. Winning to them really meant “survival,” but it should be done without berating the fallen opponent. Losing to them meant, “this time, perhaps, but save the tears to reflect on what you could have done better to win the next time.”

After World War II, America did not take over Germany or Japan and subject their people to imperial rule as Roman Caesars did when they defeated an enemy. America helped both nations rebuild so their people could prosper in democratic freedom from tyrannical rule.

America won without crowing… and left.

Those Great Depression/WWII parents sought to instill in their children those same qualities of working hard, self-sacrifice, loyalty and honor.

Apparently, those lessons have been forgotten by many in public and private life today.

We have a very contentious presidential election upon us. Militant progressives are threatening to riot and burn down the streets if Joe Biden is not elected president. Each side is gearing up for what could be a long, tedious, contentious legal battle that could stretch on for months unless there is a massive landslide one way or the other that no one in their right mind could contest.

Progressive liberal Democrats never gracefully accepted the results of the 2016 election when Hillary Clinton lost. They did not follow the lead of Richard Nixon in 1960 when he gracefully conceded to JFK, even though he knew at the time, which was proven and admitted to later, that Mayor Daley had stolen the election for JFK in Chicago, and JFK’s VP running mate, Lyndon Johnson, had stolen the election for JFK in Texas.

They did not follow the lead of then-VP Al Gore in 2000 when he gracefully conceded to George W. Bush 43 after an extended recount in Florida and subsequent ruling by the Supreme Court. Both Nixon and Gore could have formed a “resistance” movement and fought the new administrations tooth-and-nail for four years, but both men had enough decency and respect for the history of the United States and its people not to put the nation through such turmoil.

They both “lost without crying.” At least in public. Nixon in 1960 and Gore in 2000 set the bar for how losing political candidates should conduct themselves at any level of elective politics.

To their credit, JFK and Bush 43 “won without crowing” and set about to lead this country as the Constitution instructed chief executives to do.

Al Mann does not have a Wikipedia page dedicated to what he did for the young men of Durham long ago. Perhaps he should. Before next Tuesday’s election.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Margin of Error Explained by a Carny Barker at the State Fair

'Hey! You There! You Are Gonna Vote
Republican! Am I Right? Am I Right?'

Have you ever had a guy at the State Fair verbally accost you, saying he can name your age and if he is wrong, you would win a prize of your choice?

Ever notice what the margins of error are that makes him a winner and you a loser?

“If I guess within 3 years of your age, you lose!”

Depending on your age, that sounds reasonable.  At age 64, your inner egotistical mind might think: “Hey! He might think I am just 50! What do I have to lose other than $1?”

At age 7, the chances of losing are much higher. Most kids’ ages are easily guessed since plus/minus 3 years would put a 7-year old in the range of 4 to 10 years old that most anyone, including the carny barker, could readily guess.

If you were 64, the carny barker would have to guess either 60 and below or 68 and above for you to win. He intuitively has a 95% degree of confidence you are between the age of 61 (3 below 64) and 67 (3 above age 64).

The carny barker has 7 years to choose from, not just the three above or below your real age. He could guess 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66 or 67 and still win since he could guess you were 64.

Many public pollsters are the age-guessing carny barkers of the political world. They just don’t tell you they are.

When you see public polls saying, “Joe Biden Is Up 10% over President Trump!”, what you don’t hear are all of the caveats about their sample size and makeup. Many times, poll results are published that have no relationship or bearing on what the final demographic makeup of the voting electorate will be when the counting is done.

Many public pollsters are the age-guessing carny barkers of the political world. They just don’t tell you they are.

A public poll saying Biden is up 10 is trying to make you believe the final result of the election will be 55-45. Any poll is just a snapshot of the mood of the electorate on that date with that selected sample of people. Any political person can write questions and select a favorable sample to produce the results they want to produce to help their side win and depress the other side so they don’t vote.

Since the margin of error is plus or minus 3 for either side, 55% could be on the high side by 3 points and 45% could be on the low side by 3 points, meaning the gap could be just 4 at 52-48, much closer than a 10-point blowout.

Pollsters will say they have a 95% degree of confidence, meaning that they believe that 95 out of 100 times taking the poll with the same sample set of respondents, the result will be in the 55-45 range, including 52-48.

Nothing is ever really certain in politics, which is why we actually have elections and don’t rely on polls to elect our leaders.

Any statewide poll in North Carolina that is not based on interviewing a sample that will approximate a final voting electorate population that is roughly 74% white, 20% black, 5% Hispanic and 1% Asian or other races with appropriate educational level, income status, political affiliation and age distribution is suspect.

Six of the last 10 presidential elections in N.C. have been decided by less than 5 points. Only Bush 43 (twice), Bush 41 and Reagan ran away with double-digit victories in North Carolina.

Chances are there will be a close election on Nov. 3 in many statewide and district races. Emotions are running high amongst partisans on both sides, which guarantees increased enthusiasm to vote.

Just don’t let a carny barker pollster drive you crazy until then.

(first published in North State Journal 10/21/20)

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Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Go Back to the Future with “President” Joe Biden… If You Dare

The average annual rate of real GDP growth under the policies of President Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden from 2010-2017 was 2.1%.  

There are no “ifs, ands or buts” about that fact. Anyone is entitled to their own opinion, but no one is entitled to their own set of fictional facts, to paraphrase former Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY). 

Economic growth was not “great,” as Joe Biden and the Democrats want you to believe. In fact, it was dismal, desultory, sub-standard and poor. 

Most business owners, small and large, were on virtual strike during the entire Obama/Biden Administration. They were unwilling to invest, expand and hire aggressively until the morning of Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, when they realized the heavy-handed, business-unfriendly policies of Obama/Biden and Hillary Clinton were on their way out of the White House at noon Jan. 20, 2017. 

It was one of the worst periods of stagnant economic activity ever. Almost as bad as under President Jimmy Carter.  

Which is saying something. 

After the crushing economic recession of 1973-74 caused by the “oil crisis,” which looks almost quaint now that America is energy self-sufficient, the economy rebounded to grow an average of 5% in real GDP under the policies of President Gerald Ford in 1976 and into 1977. President Carter somehow figured out how to mismanage both fiscal and monetary policy such that the hellhounds of inflation (12%) and sky-high interest rates (21%) were unleashed on every American consumer, worker, retiree and citizen.  

Real GDP growth under Carter’s leadership collapsed to average only 1.86% per year from 1979-1981. 

President Reagan’s free market policies sparked real economic growth rates that averaged 4.5% annually from 1983 to 1988. The real 7.4% growth rate in 1984 is more related to the momentum coming out of bad recessions since so much of any recovery is attributed to regaining lost ground and jobs quickly.  

Every new administration elected after a recession has enjoyed the “miracle” of high economic growth rates far in excess of 2% in the first several years of new leadership. Except under VP Biden, who says he was appointed by President Obama to lead us out of the greatest recession since the Great Depression. 

George H.W. Bush 41 was defeated by the recession of 1990-91 that was still lingering far into 1992 when former Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton won in a three-way race that included Ross Perot. For seven out of the eight years of Clinton’s presidency, Americans enjoyed annual 4% real GDP growth rates fueled by the first internet boom. 

In 2010 at least, and certainly 2011, America should have experienced similar economic booms of 4%, 5%, 6% or 7%+ annual real economic growth rates that generated millions of new high-paying jobs.  

It did not happen. There was not one single year under VP Biden/President Obama’s leadership when America achieved real inflation-adjusted growth rates over 2.6%. 

How could it? First the financial banking system had to heal from massive wounds, most of it self-inflicted by reckless, overleveraged loan and investing policies. Then President Obama insisted on saddling the U.S. economy with much higher taxes, more federal deficit-spending, exorbitant regulation and a virtual government takeover of health care which constituted 16% of the entire economy. He and VP Biden crammed the ACA through Congress without a single Republican vote. 

Vice-President Biden whole-heartedly supported every single Obama policy. He never said anything negative about their joint strangulation of the American economy, not even when President Obama said 2% growth was the “new normal” for America. 

Mr. Biden wants you, the American voter, to go back with him in time to “the halcyon days of the Obama Administration,” a time that was so unsuccessful that the American economy, employment and stock market took off the day after Americans realized their terrible policies would end, because Hillary Clinton was not elected to continue them. 

Progressive liberals and #NeverTrumpers want to bring back those dark days to you, the America citizen. Go ahead if you want to vote for Joe Biden and other progressives, but just know you will be hurting yourself, along with 160 million other working Americans of all races, religions and ages who have prospered since Nov. 9, 2016. 

(first published in North State Journal 10/14/20)

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

What Unites — And Divides — Us As Americans

You know what really identifies us as Americans?

Our independence. Americans don’t want other people telling them what to do. They, we, didn’t want the King of England telling us what to do; we don’t want the United Nations telling us what to do and we don’t want our bosses, neighbors or spouses telling us what to do all the time.

We sure as heck don’t want people in the other political party telling us what to do. We are not an acquiescent society of individuals by any stretch of the imagination.

“Asking” though is an entirely different matter. My father used to say he loved North Carolinians because if you asked them for help, they would give you the shirt and coat off their backs. However, if you demanded their shirt and coat, they would tell you to go to hell and fight you tooth and nail.

You know what really divides us as Americans?

That same hard-headedness and independence. We get entrenched in our beliefs and ways of looking at the world and its problems and find it hard to see things “another way”.

Such is our collective life together today in America. We see it in all aspects of life but most explicitly expressed in our sordid national politics. Hardly anyone today seeks to persuade with facts and logic with a touch of humor anymore.  The left has abandoned all pretense of “positive persuasion” and now “demands” everyone thinks like they do; say what they say and spend tens of trillions of your tax dollars and borrowed money forever like they do.

Republicans tend to not care as much about what people say or do as long as they don’t try to force them to do the same. But they still have entrenched positions they are unwilling to give up without a fight to be sure.

Ask anyone if they want to be dictated to on a daily basis. Chances are close to 100% they will answer in the negative, often with emphasis added.

The left and the media have done a good job, in their minds, of dividing us as a nation into various tribes: rich vs. poor; white vs black; atheist vs religious; straight vs gay. Identity politics has ruled American politics for the last 30 years, perhaps even longer.

It is almost like we are not The United States of America but “The Divided States of America” which is unlikely to stand much longer.

One possible outcome on November 3 is that either side wins a resounding electoral victory and wipes out the other side for a decade or two. If there is such a sweep, we are either going to be a much more free democratic republic based on the principles of capitalism and free enterprise or we are going to become a socialist country in the mold of many countries in Europe.

Make no mistake about it: 2020 truly is a hinge election much like 1940, 1860 and 1780 that defined who we are as nation.  If he wins, Joe Biden is not going to be able to corral the extreme leftist socialists who provide any energy to today’s modern Democratic Party.

Biden says he “is the Democratic Party!”.  Biden may be the last white male to be nominated by the Democratic Party for President forever. He will join the Mohicans and the passenger pigeon on the list of extinct species.

If we have a status quo election with split control of the White House and Congress, the only way to get anything done will be the same things that have ever achieved anything of substance in Washington — clever leadership and compromise.

Ronald Reagan used to tell his legislative team “to go up to Capitol Hill and get 75%, 60% of what we want this year. We can come back next year for the rest.”

We compromise in every other daily aspect of life: business, marriage and friendships. Only in politics is compromise a four-letter word.

It is time to get over it. For our nation’s sake.

(first published in North State Journal 10/7/20)

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