Politics, et Cetera

A publication from The Political Forum, LLC

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

They Said It:

Men read and write only because they are convinced that certain great subjects are worth reading and writing about. Four great themes, it seems to me, have been the inspiration of most important imaginative literature from the dawn of Greek civilization down to our own age. The first of these is religion: the description of the relation between divine nature and human nature, as in Hesiod and Dante and Milton. The second is heroism: the nobility of strong and earnest men, as in Homer or Virgil or Malory. The third is love: the devotion beyond mere appetite, as in classical legend or medieval romance. The fourth is the intricacy of character and class, ranging all the way from Chaucer to Conrad. Now a society which has lost its religious convictions and its piety denies itself the first theme. A society which denies the right to greatness and to distinctions among men deprives itself of the second theme. A society which takes love for no more than the carnal appetite cannot attach real significance even to the novel of adultery. A society which looks upon men as mere production-and-consumption units of interchangeable value cannot understand the subtle shadings of personality and rank of a different sort of age. The springs of the imagination thus are dried up. For a time, satire can exist by pointing out the decay of faith and heroism and love and variety; but when even the memory of these themes fades, then satire, too, comes to an end. Then boredom triumphs in life and in art.

Russell Kirk, “English Letters in the Age of Boredom,” Shenandoah, Vol. 7, No. 2 (Spring 1956), pp. 3–15.

 

WON’T GET FOOLED AGAIN.

Unsurprisingly, there are a number of political commentators and prognosticators who disagree with the prediction we made last fall and reiterated last week, namely that Hillary Rodham Clinton will NOT be the next President of the United States.  Some still believe that she is inevitable because of her skills and her experience – and, of course, her husband’s skills and experience.  Others believe that the Democratic coalition gives her an advantage, while still others think that the relative inexperience and unpredictability of the GOP contenders gives her an edge.  Our personal favorites, however, are those who think that she will win simply because she is a woman, and America is “ready” for a women president.  Last week, Fernando Espuelas, who writes for everyone from NPR to the Huffington Post, to The Hill put it as follows:

Clinton has a built-in advantage — her gender.  It now looks that she will use the glass-ceiling theme to connect with millions of people who think that the disparities in opportunity, income and talent-based achievement between men and women is not only unfair, but damaging to all women, two-income families and the economy in general.

Some percentage of Americans, likely a large one, would like to cast a historic vote.  When polling points to Americans wanting “change,” what bigger change than a woman as president?

This is a good piece.  It’s sharp.  It’s witty.  We thought it was excellent satire.  The only catch, we’re afraid, is that it appears Espuelas is dead serious in this belief about the power of “gender.” Moreover, he is joined in his folly with numerous other “experts.”

Color us skeptical.  We think Hillary’s “gender” will have no impact whatsoever on the race. She will, we think, be treated like any other candidate, which is to say that her candidacy will stand or fall on its own merits, not on the presumed preference of some large number of American voters to right some terrible flaw in social justice.

For starters, the last time the ruling class pressured voters to “do the right thing,” the results were manifestly disastrous.  The presidential election of 2008, you may recall, was billed as both a chance to overcome all vestiges of racism and to produce something called “change.” Of course, no one was able to say specifically from what or to what the change was to occur.  But the underlying theme was an attack on all past behaviors, past prejudices, and all traditional mores, moral values, and social norms that were collectively responsible for mess we were in.  Put away the old hatreds, America, they said.  Change your ways, and, in so doing change your future.  Be the country you should be, that you’ve always wanted to be.  Make race and racism things of the past!

Implicit in these appeals – both the subtle Obama campaign appeal and the less subtle media appeal – was the insinuation that by electing its first black/African-American president, the United States could move beyond race and would therefore see racial healing and racial harmony.  By breaking the glass-ceiling of race, Americans could get beyond racial disunity, beyond racial ugliness, and beyond the problems associated with the racial divide in this country.

Needless to say, things haven’t quite worked out as Americans were promised they would.

In a poll taken near the end of the year, Bloomberg Politics found that a majority of Americans – and a plurality of African-Americans – believed that race relations had grown worse under President Obama.  Recapping the poll, The Hill, noted that it wasn’t really even close:

The poll was conducted for Bloomberg Politics in the days following a grand jury decision not to indict a white New York City police officer who killed an unarmed black man.

It found that 53 percent of respondents think race relations have gotten worse under the nation’s first black president.  Thirty-six percent say relations have stayed the same, and only 9 percent say they have gotten better.

Among black people, only 45 percent say race relations have gotten worse, though that figure is still the plurality in the poll.  Fifty-six percent of white people think the situation has deteriorated.

Let’s take a quick look at those results and do a little math.  Lo and behold!  A full 89% of Americans believe that race relations have either grown worse or stayed the same over the course of the Obama presidency.  Which is to say that 9-out-of-10 think that the Hope and Change they were promised has turned up hopelessly unchanged.

Similar polls have found similar results over the last few months.  Earlier this month, CNN found that a plurality of Americans think that race relations have grown worse under Obama, while 84% believe that relations are either worse or unchanged.

Of course, the polls merely confirm what each us of understands instinctively.  You don’t, as Bob Dylan might put it, need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.  And in this case, the wind is blowing in the direction of racial paranoia, excuse-making, and recrimination.  From the very start of the Obama presidency – indeed since before the presidency began – all opposition to the man, his appointees, his policies, or even his pronouncements has been deemed incorrigibly racist.  Don’t like Eric Holder because he was the guy who sold Clinton on the Marc Rich pardon?  Well, you must be a racist.  Don’t like Keynesian stimulus bills that funnel money to Democratic constituencies?  Racist.  Don’t like the bailout of GM that screws over bondholders and violates traditional bankruptcy rules?  Racist.  Racist, racist, racist.  Not a day of this presidency has gone by without someone, somewhere declaring that otherwise innocuous political criticism is somehow an indication of deep-seated racism.

In the last few months, racism – or at least of the allegations of “racism” – has spread rampantly.  Last month, for example, Senator Rand Paul, the semi-libertarian who has long opposed government overreach, particularly with respect to law enforcement, announced that he was opposed to Attorney General-designate Loretta Lynch’s position on civil forfeiture and would thus not vote to confirm her.  In response, Congressman G.K. Butterfield, the chairman of House Congressional Black Caucus declared that “the Congressional Black Caucus recognizes Senator Paul’s unfounded argument as nothing but an excuse to keep an African-American legal scholar from holding this high position. . . .

In October, a young woman posted a video purporting to show how many “catcalls” and unwanted sexual comments women must endure while walking around the streets of any big city, in this case, New York.  The problem with the video, it turns out, is that it was racist, or as Slate’s Hanna Rosin put it, “specifically, it’s a video of a young white woman who is harassed by mostly black and Latino men as she walks around New York City for 10 hours.”

Even Ebola – the dreaded necrotizing virus that has killed more than 10,000 people in West Africa – is racist, or at least the fear of it is.  Writing for London’s Guardian newspaper, Hannah Giorgis reported that if you fear Ebola, which kills 90% of those infected, you are a modern-day Orval Faubus, or worse!  To wit:

Ebola now functions in popular discourse as a not-so-subtle, almost completely rhetorical stand-in for any combination of “African-ness”, “blackness”, “foreign-ness” and “infestation” – a nebulous but powerful threat, poised to ruin the perceived purity of western borders and bodies.  Dead African bodies are the nameless placeholders for (unwarrantedracist) “panic“, a conversation topic too heavy for the dinner table yet light enough for supermarket aisles. . . .

We are comfortable with viruses that ravage entire communities, so long as those communities do not look like the ones we believe are deserving of health.  Black bodies exist only on the receiving end of apocalyptic fanfare like airport screenings designed to weed out Ebola carriers (with dubious success) or excessive, deadly force from police that claim to protect and serve all people.  Africa exists only in stark contrast to the civilized west, where disease and disorder must be contained to preserve health and hierarchy.

Before Obama was elected, in the Spring and Summer of 2008, a handful of political observers, most notably the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto, warned that electing Obama based on his race could well backfire.  If Obama does well, Taranto opined, then his presidency could well be source of racial pride and healing.  If, however, he were to do poorly, then his presidency would likely have the opposite effect, turning his defenders into angry, paranoiacs who see racism everywhere and in everything and rendering his opponents frustrated and exhausted for having constantly to defend normal political opposition against heinous and unfair charges of racial prejudice.

As we survey the ruins of, for example, Ferguson, Missouri, we can’t help but think that Taranto deserves a special award of some sort for prophesying that which should have been obvious to all of us, but wasn’t.  Americans – very genuinely and very hopefully – voted for an inexperienced and woefully un-defined candidate because they were told he could change the racial calculus in the country, could redeem a history of shocking and embarrassing racial discrimination.  He didn’t.

Now, obviously, the matter of a candidate’s sex – of “gender” as the pseudo-educated types prefer – isn’t exactly the same as the matter of one’s race.  Women have unquestionably been discriminated against throughout American history, but not in the same way that blacks were.  The American history of sex discrimination is very similar to every other country’s history of sex discrimination.  It has crossed all racial, ethnic, and religious lines, although some more than others.  And while it has been every bit as pervasive and difficult to eradicate, it has not been quite as overtly and exceptionally brutal as was/is American racial discrimination.  In any case, the point here is that a vote for Hillary Clinton isn’t an explicit vote to right the wrongs of the past or to heal the wounds of discrimination, like a vote for Obama was.  It is, rather, an acknowledgement that “it’s about time.”

And yet, the downside of voting based on the perceived need for a “quota” will nevertheless accompany a Hillary Clinton victory.  Last week, in the most disastrous Clinton press conference in well over a decade, the pre-selected media questions included the following softball, served up by Kahraman Haliscelik of Turkish television:  “If you were a man, today, would all of this fuss being made be made?”  Sounds familiar, no?  We can see it now, the Clinton (restoration) presidency in a nutshell:  Don’t like Hillary’s choice for Attorney General?  Well, you must be a sexist.  Don’t like Keynesian tax-and-spend fiscal policy?  Sexist.  Don’t like the second bailout of the Big Banks?  Sexist.  Sexist, sexist, sexist.  And so it will go for four – or, heaven forbid, eight – years.  No opposition will be legitimate; it will all be sexist.

Obviously, we won’t be subjected to polls about whether President Clinton has made sexual relations better or worse, if for no other reason that the answers would likely be unfit for family newspapers.  Nevertheless, Hillary will never, ever do anything wrong of her own accord.  It will always be the damn sexists causing her problems.

How do we know this?  Well, the Obama experience sets a precedent.  Moreover, it is important to remember that Hillary Clinton has never, ever done anything wrong in her entire life to this point.  If you don’t believe us, you can ask her.  The Rose Law Firm billing records that disappeared and then turned up years later with her fingerprints on them?  Pure coincidence.  The cattle futures bonanza?  Careful reading of the Wall Street Journal.  The death of the American ambassador to Libya.  What difference, at this point, does it make?  This is a woman, recall, who blamed a “vast right-wing conspiracy” for the FACT that her husband was caught getting frisky with a White House intern.  She is impervious to criticism, largely because she knows, in her heart of hearts, that all criticism is based purely on jealousy of her awesomeness, not on the fact that she is one half of the most corrupt political couple perhaps in the history of the republic.

All of which brings us to the second reason why we believe that voters will reject the notion that they should voter for Hillary Clinton based on her “gender.”  America may indeed be ready for its first woman president, but that’s not to say it has to be this woman.  Indeed, the very notion that it has to be Hillary Clinton strikes us as insulting – to women in general and to the country.

We’ve been through all this before – over and over and over… – so we’ll spare you all the details of Hillary Clinton’s sordid past, present, and future, but what exactly is it about Hillary that makes the ruling class think that she is only woman who could be elected president?  They insist interminably that “it’s time” for a woman president, but they can only think of one woman who could possible meet the mandate of history.  And it just so happens that this one and only woman who is capable of shattering the glass ceiling is the most tired, tiresome, and tiring woman in Washington.  What exactly does that say about the ruling class’s view of women in this country?  In one of his columns last week – “The Tropic of Cankle” – the inimitable Mark Steyn a similar question.  He put it this way:

Let’s take The Hill’s chap at his word: “Gender” will trump whatever stiff the Republican primary season throws up.  In that case, why not run a woman who isn’t quite so bloody awful at running?  Someone younger, someone whose principal selling point isn’t her husband’s surname, someone with actual accomplishments and a political philosophy?  She doesn’t have to be that much younger, or accomplished.  Elizabeth Warren is two years younger than Hillary, and her principal accomplishments are TARP and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, neither of which is my cup of tea.  But that’s two more accomplishments than Secretary Clinton can claim.  And okay, she’s not the most riveting public speaker, but she’s Tom Jones at Vegas next to a speak-your-weight machine in a pantsuit.  And yes, Senator Fauxcahontas Crockagewea Warren’s got her own scandal – in that she got hired as Harvard Law School’s “first woman of color” on the basis of a dubious claim to be one thirty-second Cherokee and having contributed Cole Porter and the Duchess of Windsor’s favorite crab dish from an upscale Manhattan restaurant to a cookbook of authentic tribal recipes.

Yet, with the benefit of hindsight, isn’t that kind of a charmingly amateur, sweetly naïve, small-town, home-cooked mom’n’pop racket compared to the 24/7 industrial-scale multinational Saudi-kissing pedophile-jetting rackets of Clinton Global Mega-Racket Inc. . . .

Wouldn’t Democrats like to elect a real first female head of government like Thatcher or Merkel or Golda Meir or all those Scandinavians? Why should all those Americans itching to cast that “historic vote” have to have it tainted and thrown away on dynastic succession? How “historic” can your vote really be when, insofar as Hillary’s “running” at all, she’s running as if she’s already won and she’s just running out the clock till the coronation? Are Democrat women so cowed and subservient they’re just going to have the House of Saud’s candidate shoved down their throats and meekly be driven to the polls in theirs burqas by Lanny Davis?

Steyn concludes – rightfully, we suppose – that Democratic voters will indeed agree to swallow what’s left of their pride and vote for Hillary.  That strikes us as just an awful statement on their part, about the state of American politics and about the conditions they believe make women politicians “real” women.  Sarah Palin wasn’t a real woman, recall, because she wasn’t pro-Choice.  Carly Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, isn’t a real woman because she supported Sarah Palin and because she too is insufficiently pro-Choice.  Kelly Ayotte, the junior Senator from New Hampshire, is also not a real woman because she is pro-Life.  South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley?  Not a real woman.  New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez?  Not a real woman and not a real Hispanic.  And on and on it goes.

All of which is to say that the only woman in the world capable of being “the most powerful man in the world” is an inveterate liar who pursues power simply for the sake of pursuing power.  Or so we’ve been told and so the Democratic Party has decided.

Maybe we’re naïve.  Or maybe we’ve played this game so long with the Clintons that our judgment is clouded.  Whatever the case, we don’t think that the rest of the American voters – including the all-important independents who decide presidential elections – are going to buy the line that the Democratic Party is selling this time around.  They’re not going to elect Hillary Clinton simply because she’s a woman.  They think more of women than the Democratic establishment does, apparently.  The electorate is not going to be guilted a second time into voting for a bad candidate simply because she is a member of an under-represented demographic group.  Making history is nice enough, we suppose.  But the American people are not likely, in our opinion, to put their hands in the fate of a corrupt old retread simply because history beckons.  As the statesman and orator George W. Bush put it:  “fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

The American people won’t get fooled again.  And this business about it being their responsibility to vote for just any old woman for the sake of history is, we think, likelier to alert them to the danger of voting for Hillary than it is to appeal to their sense of cosmic sexual justice.

In other words, if the Democrats’ best argument for a Hillary Clinton presidency is that she’s a woman, then she and they are doomed.

 

THE MAN IN THE CEMENT SHOES, REDUX.

Longtime readers know that we rarely comment on specific companies in these essays.  And certainly we don’t give investment advice regarding those few companies that we do, on rare occasion, mention.  To do so would require both a skill set that we don’t possess and an NASD registration we neither can afford nor want.

When we do mention companies, therefore, our purpose in doing so is to explain how the domestic and global political trends affect them, allowing you to draw your own conclusions about what that will mean in the long run for them, for their industry, and for business in general.

Several years ago, you may or may not recall, we wrote a piece about Microsoft and about the trouble it was having with the Justice Department’s anti-trust division.  In a July 15, 1998 piece titled “The Man in the Cement Shoes,” we explained that the Microsoft action on the part of the Clinton administration was pure political extortion, the stuff of which the corporatist state was made.  We argued that Microsoft was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg and that by attacking Gates and company, the “government” would bring the entire largely unregulated high-tech industry to heel.  We put it this way:

Prior to the start of the Justice Department investigation of Microsoft, Bill Gates, whose business was “generally unregulated,” was the quintessential example of someone who was “seeking nothing from government.”  Indeed, he considered politics to be, in the words of D. Michel Heywood, an editorial writer at The Columbian (a newspaper published in Vancouver, Washington, roughly four hours south of Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters), “the kind of dirty game that could be safely left to others.”

Even as late as last year, Microsoft employed only four employees in its Washington government-affairs office.  As U.S. News and World Report financial columnist James Glassman once pointed out, this pales in comparison to the 26 lobbyists employed by IBM, the 45 by AT&T, and the 21 by Motorola, all of which have remarkably lower net worth than Gates’ firm.  Nor did Gates care much about direct political contributions. According to the Washington Times, during the 1995-96 election cycle Microsoft gave less than $100,000 to politicians.

All of that has changed now, of course.  Heywood notes that “Gates seems to be learning,” and is now “plowing [money] into the game about as fast as the law strictly allows.”  David Boaz, the executive Vice President of the Cato Institute, wrote recently that Microsoft had “hired four former members of Congress, 32 former congressional staffers or government officials, and the former chairman of the Republican Party [Haley Barbour].  It spent $1.9 million on lobbying in 1997, up 67 percent from 1996.”

Gates has also upped his contributions to individual politicians. The Washington Times reports that in the 1997-98 off-year election cycle, Microsoft has already made nearly a one quarter of a million dollars in campaign contributions, nearly three times its total contributions during the ‘95-96 cycle.  Now critics of this thesis will point out most of Gates’ money (roughly 85%) has gone to Republican candidates, and that this proves that the antitrust action by the Clinton administration couldn’t have been politically motivated.

But they, we think, miss the point.  Bill Gates, you see, isn’t the Democrats’ fund raising target.  He’s the example.  He’s the guy at the bottom of the lake in the cement shoes; the guy who didn’t pay up.  The Democratic payoff, if we’re right about this, will come from others; those who don’t want a similar fate, or who, like Microsoft competitor Novell, benefit from having Gates in the hot seat.

As [Emory University Professor Fred] McChesney points out, none of this is new. Popular folklore holds that the basic concept was developed and refined by Chicago mobsters in the 1920s.  They called it the “protection racket.”  A mobster would say to a businessman, “Would you like to buy some insurance against broken windows.”  The businessman would say, “Why, I’ve never had any trouble with broken windows.”  And the mobster would say, “If you buy this insurance, you won’t any trouble in the future either.”

Today, of course, the entirety of Silicon Valley is up to its eyeballs in Washington’s corporatist protection racket.  During the 2013-2014 election cycle, Microsoft spent roughly $20 million – TEN TIMES ITS 1997-’98 total – on lobbying and contributions.  As for the high tech sector more broadly, an August 8, 2014 story in the Sacramento Bee will give you just a taste:

California’s technology sector has booted up a bigger presence in politics in recent years, a shift for an industry that began on the outside but is fast becoming an inside player. . . .

California-based companies such as Apple, Google, Yahoo and Facebook have long grown out of the dorm rooms and garages where they were founded and have since become powerful corporations with policy priorities.  “They understand how the political game in D.C. is played,” said Dave Levinthal, who tracks tech-sector politics and lobbying for the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan investigative research group in Washington, “and they’re playing it at a high level.”. . .

Excluding presidential candidates, since 2001 the technology sector has given a total of $365 million to Democrats and $312 million to Republicans, according to an analysis of campaign data by MapLight, a nonpartisan organization that tracks money’s influence on politics.  “The bottom line for them is their bottom line,” Levinthal said.  “They want someone, first and foremost, who’s an advocate for their issues.”

Case in point: President Barack Obama.  The success of Obama’s first presidential campaign was due, in no small part, to his early backing in 2007 by Silicon Valley.  He is by far the biggest benefactor of tech-sector money among current officeholders, according to the MapLight analysis.  MapLight showed that Obama has received more than $16.5 million from technology companies, their employees and political action committees since 2004.

We mention all of this today not because we want to warn you that the high-tech industry is now an integral part of the federal corporatist scam.  That ship sailed long ago.  We mention it because it gives us a frame of reference for discussing another development in the politics-business nexus that we think is important and will continue to grow more and more important as time passes.

Two weeks ago, Gregg Keizer of Computerworld.com penned a piece noting the troubles at Mozilla and especially with its formerly popular internet browser Firefox.  To wit:

Mozilla’s Firefox is in danger of making the endangered species list for browsers.

Just two weeks after Mozilla’s top Firefox executive said that rumors of its demise were “dead wrong,” the iconic browser dropped another three-tenths of a percentage point in analytics firm Net Applications’ tracking, ending February with 11.6%.

That was Firefox’s lowest share since July 2006, when the browser had been in the market for less than two years. . . .

In the last 12 months, Firefox’s user share — an estimate of the portion of all those who reach the Internet via a desktop browser — has plummeted by 34%.  Since Firefox crested at 25.1% in April 2010, Firefox has lost 13.5 percentage points, or 54% of its peak share.

At Firefox’s 12-month average rate of decline, Mozilla’s desktop browser will slip under the 10% bar in June, joining other third-tier applications like Apple’s Safari (with just a 4.8% user share in February) and Opera Software’s Opera (1.1%).   If the trend continues, Firefox on the desktop could drop below 8% as soon as October.

The numbers for Firefox were even worse when both the desktop and mobile data are combined.  Firefox’s total user share — an amalgamation of desktop and mobile — was 9.5% for February, its lowest level since Computerworld began tracking the metric nearly six years ago, and 3.4 percentage points lower than in July 2014, the last time Computerworld analyzed the data.

Keizer doesn’t go into explanations as to why Mozilla and Firefox are struggling so badly, but we suspect we may know at least part of the answer.  In his piece, Keizer quotes a handful of Mozilla executives.  Not one of them, of course, is named Brendan Eich.

You likely recall that almost exactly a year ago, Eich was ousted as Mozilla’s CEO after it became known that he had donated $1,000 to California’s Proposition 8 campaign, which was passed by California voters and was supposed to have banned gay marriage in favor of “civil unions.”  Four years later, the contribution was “discovered” by gay rights activists and then, two years hence, the dating site OKCupid launched a boycott of Firefox because of Eich’s contribution.  Eich was pushed out on April 3, 2014.

Of course, that was not the end of Mozilla’s troubles.  Indeed, it was only the beginning.  That very day, conservatives went on the offensive, launching their own boycott – or counter-boycott, if you prefer – of Mozilla.  That evening, on Fox News the Pulitzer Prize winning columnist and highly influential conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer spoke for many in the conservative movement as he blistered Mozilla, OKCupid, and everyone else involved in the Eich mess:

This is the culture of the left not being satisfied with making an argument, or even prevailing in an argument, but in destroying personally and marginalizing people who oppose them.  In the same way that proponents of climate change declare the issue closed — it’s over, there’s no debate, it is settled science — and therefore anybody who is skeptical of that is considered anti-science, and is called a denier.

In the same way, people are now declaring that the national debate that we’ve had for a decade or two on gay marriage is closed, and anybody who opposes gay marriage is a bigot and should be written out of polite society, ostracized and should lose their jobs. . . .

[Andrew Sullivan, a widely read blogger who happens to be gay] calls it disgusting.   He’s absolutely right.  This is totalitarian discourse, and it shows a level of intolerance that is absolutely — it should be unacceptable, and people ought to get what they’re giving out and field a counter-boycott.

We can’t tell you how this counter-boycott went – or is still going.  But we suspect that the numbers cited above by Gregg Keizer will give you a hint.  Mozilla offended the Left by Eich’s presence and then offended the Right by firing him.  In the end, we suspect, the company lost the support of both sides and thus lost countless users who were fed up with the company’s politics.

What’s most telling about this, of course, is that the company itself didn’t make its politics known, one way or another.  Eich didn’t trumpet his contribution.  Mozilla took no apparent joy in dismissing him.  No one at Mozilla made politics an issue.  But that didn’t matter.  And it doesn’t matter anywhere else either.

The fact of the matter is that the political Left has, for the last 45 years, insisted that “the personal is political,” which is to say that everything is political.  And today, various denizens of the Left, equipped with cyber-sleuthing tools that allow them to know everything there is to know about every company and its principles, are turning this slogan into reality.  And the political Right is pushing back, doing almost precisely the same thing in response.

What this means, we think, is that, going forward, companies’ value will be affected not just by their profits, their debt-to-income ratios, and other traditional measures, but by political considerations as well.  What does the company spend its lobbying dollars trying to achieve?  What does its CEO believe?  Does it support this cause?  Does it oppose that cause?

We don’t expect that there will be too many companies like Mozilla or Chick-Fil-A that will deal with these political considerations out in public, for the whole world to see.  But there will be a few.  And every year, we suspect, there will be a few more.

We used to complain in speeches about how government had altered market calculations over the years.  You no longer had to worry about which company made the best jumbo jets, for example, but which company’s government had the best and most lavish export supports for its jumbo jets.  Government involvement changed everything.

We suspect that it’s in the process of doing so again, this time as it relates to the political obsessions of consumers.

If you don’t believe us, you could just ask the CEO of Mozilla.  We have no idea who that is, of course, only that it’s not Brendan Eich.

Copyright 2015. The Political Forum. 8563 Senedo Road, Mt. Jackson, Virginia 22842, tel. 402-261-3175, fax 402-261-3175. All rights reserved. Information contained herein is based on data obtained from recognized services, issuer reports or communications, or other sources believed to be reliable. However, such information has not been verified by us, and we do not make any representations as to its accuracy or completeness, and we are not responsible for typographical errors. Any statements nonfactual in nature constitute only current opinions which are subject to change without notice.