Archive for the ‘The Good of the Order’ Category


Trump to Announce Carrier Plant Will Keep Jobs in U.S.
From the earliest days of his campaign, Donald J. Trump made keeping manufacturing jobs in the United States his signature economic issue, and the decision by Carrier, the big air-conditioner company, to move over 2,000 of them from Indiana to Mexico was a tailor-made talking point for him on the stump.

On Thursday, Mr. Trump and Mike Pence, Indiana’s governor and the vice president-elect, plan to appear at Carrier’s Indianapolis factory to announce a deal with the company to keep roughly 1,000 jobs in the state, according to officials with the transition team as well as Carrier.

Mr. Trump will be hard-pressed to alter the economic forces that have hammered the Rust Belt for decades, but forcing Carrier and its parent company, United Technologies, to reverse course is a powerful tactical strike that will hearten his followers even before he takes office.

“I’m ready for him to come,” said Robin Maynard, a 24-year veteran of Carrier who builds high-efficiency furnaces and earns almost $24 an hour. “Now I can put my daughter through college without having to look for another job.”

It also signals that Mr. Trump is a different kind of Republican, willing to take on big business, at least in individual cases.

And just as only a confirmed anti-Communist like Richard Nixon could go to China, so only a businessman like Mr. Trump could take on corporate America without being called a Bernie Sanders-style socialist. If Barack Obama had tried the same maneuver, he’d probably have drawn criticism for intervening in the free market.

In exchange for keeping the factory running in Indianapolis, Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence are expected to reiterate their campaign pledges to be friendlier to businesses by easing regulations and overhauling the corporate tax code, according to a spokeswoman for Mr. Trump.

The state of Indiana also plans to give economic incentives to Carrier as part of the deal to stay, according to local officials.

The message from Mr. Trump that captivated the Carrier workers — keeping manufacturing jobs in the United States after decades of losses to overseas factories and automation — resonated throughout the Rust Belt. That promise, plus his opposition to pacts like the North American Free Trade Agreement, were key reasons he was able to edge out Hillary Clinton in states like Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Political symbolism aside, saving 1,000 Carrier jobs doesn’t loom so large in an economy that’s created an average of 181,000 jobs a month this year, noted Jared Bernstein, a liberal economist who served as adviser in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2011.

Still, he confessed a grudging admiration for Mr. Trump’s political jujitsu. “If I weren’t so scared of the damage a Trump administration might do, I’d find it refreshing to see an administration fighting for factory jobs like this,” he said. “That said, no one should confuse what Trump is doing here with sustainable economic policy.”


In February, a video went viral showing furious workers in Indianapolis learning their jobs would be going abroad.

Good Jobs, GoodbyeWhen Jennifer Shanklin-Hawkins saw Donald Trump talking about the factory on the news, all she could do was shout “Yessss!” at the TV. “I loved it,” she said. “I was so happy Trump noticed us.” (March 2016)
Can Trump Save Their Jobs?The day after the election, Paul Roell headed straight to the plant before sunrise, bleary-eyed but euphoric. “I don’t watch sports, but this was my World Series,” he said. (Nov. 13, 2016)
Over the long term, and for less prominent firms, the temptation to move to cheaper locales for manufacturing will stay great, said Robert Reich, a prominent liberal Democrat who served as secretary of labor in the Clinton administration.

“Memories are short but the economic fundamentals remain the same,” he said. “Wall Street is breathing down companies’ necks to cut costs, and the labor savings in Mexico is too great.”

Mr. Trump first announced he was talking to Carrier on Thanksgiving Day via Twitter, which the company quickly confirmed. The discussions have continued this week, and with a tentative deal in hand on Tuesday, transition officials scheduled Mr. Trump’s and Mr. Pence’s visit to Indianapolis.

“I didn’t think it would be this quick,” Mr. Maynard said.

While the standoff loomed large in the lives of its employees in Indiana, for United Technologies the forgone savings is tiny — equivalent to about 2 cents per share in earnings.

“Every penny counts, but if we step back and I’m looking at earnings of $6.60 per share this year, 2 cents is an easy concession if the president-elect listens to some of the company’s bigger concerns,” said Howard Rubel, a senior equity analyst with Jefferies, an investment banking firm in New York.

When Carrier announced in February that the two Indiana factories would be closing, it did offer benefits to employees facing layoffs, including paying for them to go back to school and retrain for other careers. Even with that, however, once the layoffs were to begin in mid-2017, most of the workers would have had a hard time finding jobs that paid anywhere near the $20 to $25 an hour that veteran line workers earn.

Carrier is best known for its air-conditioners, but it also sells a variety of other heating and cooling equipment for homes and businesses, like the gas furnaces and fan coils for electric furnaces made at the Indianapolis factory. The jobs in Indiana Mr. Trump has referred to are in two separate sites — the Carrier plant in Indianapolis, with 1,400 employees, and a United Technologies factory in Huntington, Ind., with 700.

While Carrier will forfeit some $65 million a year in savings the move was supposed to generate, that’s a small price to pay to avoid the public relations damage from moving the jobs as well as a possible threat to United Technologies’ far-larger military contracting business.

Roughly 10 percent of United Technologies’ $56 billion in revenue comes from the federal government; the Pentagon is its single largest customer. With $4 billion in profit last year, the company has the flexibility to find the savings elsewhere.

Members of Congress have been pressing to punish big military contractors if they move jobs outside the United States.

Many industrial companies face intense pressure from Wall Street to increase profits, even when the economy grows slowly — a major reason United Technologies decided to move.

That won’t change after Mr. Trump takes office — especially when hourly pay in the Indianapolis plant is equivalent to what workers in Mexico make in a day.

“This is a spot solution,” said Mohan Tatikonda, a professor at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. “If it goes through it helps some Carrier employees for a period of time, but it doesn’t address the loss of manufacturing jobs to technological change, which will continue.”

A version of this article appears in print on November 30, 2016, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline:

Trump meets with Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke as he considers Homeland Security appointment

President-elect Donald Trump met with Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke on Monday as he continued to consider appointments to his cabinet.
The Wisconsin law enforcement official and outspoken opponent of the Black Lives Matter movement is under consideration to run the Department of Homeland Security.

From Daily Mail

Trump also saw George W. Bush homeland security official Fran Townsend, today and plans to sit down with House Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul on Tuesday.

Clarke did not speak to reporters gathered in the lobby of Trump Tower when he entered. He passed by nearly two hours later without offering a comment when he exited.
A frequent guest on Fox News, the Democrat has aligned himself with Trump and spoke on his behalf at the Republican National Convention.
The elected official, who voters affirmed for the position four times after his initial appointment, is known for taking on the Black Lives Matter, which he has described as a ‘domestic hate group’ and ‘black slime.’
‘Before long, Black Lies Matter will join forces with ISIS to bring down our legal constituted republic. You heard it first here,’ he said in an October 2015 tweet.
That same month Clarke claimed on Fox ‘there is no police brutality in America.’
‘We ended that back in the ’60s,’ he said. ‘You look at the data and the research, and there’s a new Harvard study out that shows that there is no racism in the hearts of police officers. They go about their daily duty, if you will, to keep communities safe.’

In July he declared a long-running ‘war’ on police after five Dallas officers were gunned down as they kept watch during a Black Lives Matter protest.
Several months later, in October, with the national election just weeks away, Clarke echoed Trump’s claims that the system and the fourth estate are rigged.
He said on Twitter: ‘It’s incredible that our institutions of gov, WH, Congress, DOJ, and big media are corrupt & all we do is b****. Pitchforks and torches time.’
Clarke has more recently taken on anti-Trump protesters, calling them ‘goon anarchists.’
He said in a Nov. 11 tweet that officials could put an end to rioting by declaring a state of emergency and and imposing a curfew.
They should also ‘authorize ALL non lethal force’ he said, including ‘tear gas.’
As DHS secretary, Clarke would be in charge of overseeing the nation’s immigration system and implementing the president-elect’s deportation policy. He’d also be in charge of the Transportation Security Administration.


Republican Outlook 2012 - Part 3 - My Candidates

Many good potential Republican candidates for the 2012 presidential election are beginning to attract attention. Some of my favorites are, in alphabetical order:

Mike Huckabee, making his second run for president, has experience as a Minister, Educator, Author of several best selling books, televangelist, television station owner and producer, and was a conservative Lieutenant Governor and Governor of Arkansas, a highly Democratic state, is an ABC Radio Commentator, and hosts a talk news show on Fox News Channel. He has very strong conservative stands on economic and social issues, respects the Constitution, and is deeply patriotic.

Jon Huntsman, Jr. is the son of a billionaire industrialist and philanthropist. He served as CEO of the Huntsman Corporation, a successful businessman and philanthropist, served in three Republican presidential administrations, as Governor of Utah, and is currently the US Ambassador to China. He has very strong conservative stands, respects the Constitution, and is deeply patriotic.

Sarah Palin, candidate for vice president in the last election and a cultural icon, TV reporter, author, business woman, commercial fisherman, served as city council and mayor, Governor of Alaska, and has starred in a documentary TV series on Alaska. She tackled corruption in state government, and even within her own party. Young, brash, quick on her feet, she has gained a strong following as well as many detractors. She is conservative both socially and economically, respects the Constitution, and is deeply patriotic.

Mitt Romney, making his second run for president, is the son of the multi-term Governor of Michigan, has served as a lay minister, is a highly successful business man, and was brought in as chairman of the US Olympics to salvage them from scandal and financial ruin, served as conservative Governor of highly Democrat Massachusetts. He has very strong conservative stands on economic and social issues, respects the Constitution, and is a deeply patriotic American.

Allen West, currently a freshman congressman from Florida, is a Career US Army Officer, who grew up in Atlanta Georgia in a military family. His father served in WW2 and made a career of the military, his mother was a civilian employee of the Marine Corps, and his brother, also career military, served in Viet Nam. He is recipient of valorous and meritorious service decorations including a bronze star. He has taught high school history and college ROTC. He is a social and fiscal conservative, and is passionately patriotic.

There are other good people out there, but these are the ones that I favor. In this post I will begin evaluating candidates and end up with a ranking of most favored to least, starting with the two candidates from the 2008 primary:

Huckabee vs. Romney. On issues, these two are almost identical, so either one of them would be a good choice for conservative voters. While I like Huckabee’s stand on issues, I have doubts about his character. I was very disappointed at his attacks on Romney’s religion during their presidential run.

Huckabee is trying to make an issue of the Massachusetts Healthcare bill. Health care is not a federal responsibility. Whether a state will provide healthcare and how they will choose to do is a state issue, and if the citizens of a state want to create a program, it is their prerogative to do so.

I have been put off by Huckabee’s apparently deceitful use of statistics to attack Romney on healthcare. First he notes that Massachusetts has the highest health care premiums in the country since Romney signed health care into law as Governor; this is not a lie, but it is deceitful, because that state already had the highest premiums of any state before the law was passed. Second he used statistics in to show that state health care costs had increased from 16 percent to 35 percent after the law was passed; again technically not a lie, but the law was passed in 2006 and the 16 percent figure is from 1990 – the cost of national health care rose nearly 300% during that period, yet Massachusetts increase was only 220%, so was considerably less than the national increase during that period. He sources this from the Massachusetts Taxpayers Association, yet that organization says the costs “have been relatively modest and well within initial projections… the health care costs are not a problem” and the program is “a great success.”

Beyond the mudslinging approach that Huckabee has chosen, I give Romney the edge on meaningful leadership experience. While both have been governor, Massachusetts has double the population of Arkansas. Romney won two elections there running on a ticket of fiscal conservatism because the tax burden and state budget were in a state of near disaster. He turned the state around reducing programs, eliminating waste, balancing the budget, and initiating private insurance based healthcare without increasing taxes.

On the matter of electability, consider some more differences between the two states. While both states are majority-Democrat states, Massachusetts Democrats outnumber Republicans 3 to 1 and are among the most liberal of states – For the last dozen or so elections they have gone Democrat; whereas Arkansas has voted Republican in the last three presidential elections. The voters in Arkansas are conservatives, both socially and fiscally. Romney based on his fiscal performance was reelected to a second term in a state that a conservative should not have a chance.  He was elected based on performance.  He has proven he is highly electable. So my rating so far:

1. Romney
2. Huckabee

In my next post, I will compare Huntsman, Palin, and West with Romney and Huckabee.

Ronald Reagan Super Bowl XLV Tribute


To Vaccinate or Not?

For decades Americans have gotten vaccinations, now this practice is being challenged. It all began when an English surgeon, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, publishing a paper in The Lancet, the world’s leading peer-reviewed medical Journal. He claimed in a clinical study of twelve autistic children that their condition was caused by inoculation of MMR (the combined vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella), asserting that it would be safer to give this as three separate vaccines administered at different times.

When it came out that Dr. Wakefield had, 1) falsified his findings to support his hypothesis, and 2) had developed and was marketing his own measles vaccine and stood to profit substantially by a ban on MMR, The Lancet conducted a deep peer review of Dr. Wakefield’s paper and renounced his claims and retracted his paper.

The UK National Health Service investigated and found that there was no evidence of a link between MMR and autism. In the United States, the National Academy of Sciences conducted their own investigation and said there was no evidence that MMR had anything to do with autism in children. Finally the General Medical Council, the medical licensing agency of the United Kingdom, conducted an investigation, and found a long list of violations including unethical medical practice on children, falsifying medical records, and that he had acted with dishonesty and irresponsibly. He no longer works at the Royal Free Hospital.

In a fever of sensational media reporting Wakefield became a celebrity in England. Eerily similar to the way the media propagandized global warming, they did the same with anti-vaccine disinformation from Wakefield. The myth spread around the world, becoming an actual movement which is growing in the United States.

One of the things you can find repeated by anti-vaccine websites and bloggers is that vaccines have done nothing to reduce disease, that while disease, as well as death by disease, has diminished over the last century it would have happened anyway. They attempt to prove this by statistics showing the trend for reduction of disease has gone down at the same rate before vaccines as after. This is simply not true.

First we should expect a decrease in the spread of disease, the severity, and the death rate as a natural consequence of better medical understand, increased sanitation, and improved patient treatment. For example, prior to the first measles vaccine, most of the deaths from that disease were actually from bronchial-pneumonia; becoming better at avoiding and treating that side effect of measles, reduced the death rate.

As early as the American Revolution soldiers were given a crude vaccination from recovering victims when the doctor would scrape some of the blisters of small pox and work the fluids into cuts on the arms of uninfected soldiers, giving them a mild case of the disease and leaving them immune in the future. These and other early vaccines, while not as effective as modern, still greatly reduced spread of disease and severity of new cases.

In addition to these early attempts at vaccination and improvement of medical knowledge and practice, early vaccines have contributed to all but eliminating measles and other common childhood disease. Some of the anti-vaccine people will tell you there was no vaccination before 1950, however:
• In 1920 a measles serum was made from the blood of patients recovering from measles. It provided some resistance to the disease for inoculated children, though it was not completely effective. In those that did contract the disease it reduced the severity.
• As girls were vaccinated and later as women nursed their children, the children received increased resistance to the disease.
• The first actual measles vaccine was invented in 1950. These early vaccinations contributed to the reduction in disease through those decades.
• In 1963 the combined measles-mumps-rubella vaccine came into usage.

Prior to 1963 the US experienced between 3 and 4 million cases of measles per year. By 1983 the number of cases per year had dropped to 1,497. During the middle eighties people began to resist vaccinations and between 1989 and 1991 an epidemic spread in the US in which there were over 55,000 cases and 123 deaths; one half of these cases and one half of the deaths were children under the age of five. In 2008 there were 140 cases, largest number since 1996, and of these, 127 had not been vaccinated.

The anti-vaccine movement has taken hold in the United States, based on false information and flawed science. Since the advent of vaccines for childhood disease the lives that have been saved number in the millions; the severity of childhood disease has been greatly reduced. It is a grave mistake to deny your child this protection. It is a great disservice to your community as well.

Liberty or Civility?

I saw a political cartoon today that has Patrick Henry saying, “Give me liberty or give me civility.” The apparent point being that civility is a limit on liberty. There is a saying that people in the old west tended to be rather polite, because everybody was armed; to the degree that is true, people voluntarily limited the offensiveness of their speech as a matter of prudence. The reality is that anything that governs any action is a limit on liberty, which is why the Founding Fathers held the idea of limited government as a basic tenet of the foundation of our republic.

There is a balance that should be maintained between complete freedom to say and behave in any way a person chooses and in civility and polite behavior. Politeness and civility come from a person’s upbringing and the social culture of society.

When I was a child, in the 1950’s, society was considerably more polite than it is today, not only in speech, but in grooming, dress, and general behavior. Men were careful of their personal appearance, were chivalrous, tipping their hats (everyone wore a hat), stepping aside to allow others to pass on the sidewalk, holding doors for women, children, and the elderly, and watching their language in public.

The big change to this came from the younger members of my generation in the late sixties and seventies. Inspired by left-leaning professors, it started with college students who refused to honor the draft, developed into opposition to the Viet Nam war; running counter to traditional patriotic support of our soldiers during time of war. This bloomed into the hippy era, drug culture, free love, abortion rights, women’s rights, environmentalism, and a general anti-establishment philosophy. They rose up in a mass rebellion against pretty much every social and moral more of the time.

From the close of World War II, the Soviet Union was very actively working to foment this type of unrest through agents and contacts in the American Communist Party, the Socialist Party, labor unions, the universities, and the media. These have elevated extremism to mainstream politics via left wing groups from followers of Alinsky, SDS, Acorn, and various other “community organizations” and radical groups.

The McCarthy hearings of the early fifties identified some of this activity, but concentrated most on the film industry, where they were fairly successful in disarming that propaganda effort. The irony of the Soviet success in placing socialist plants and creating civil unrest was that, while they ended up succeeding beyond their original hope, it did not cause a push for Soviet style communism, but instead a push toward greater liberty; almost, but not quite, an anarchy type of freedom.

There were some very good things that came from all this. Freedom of speech and expression were given a greater emphasis than ever before. Women gained equality in the workplace and a greater say in the political and civic arena. Citizens became openly hostile toward public corruption and cronyism. Industrial pollution and toxic waste has been reduced by probably 90%.

Business has been changed from the type X labor/management conflict model to a more win/win approach. Families have switched from a rigid patriarchal style, to more of a partnership with greater parental involvement with children. All these are examples of the good that came out of this period of unrest.

However, there were almost an equal number of bad things that came from this period; it was a sort of a “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” situation. The polite civility of our parent’s generation didn’t completely disappear, but it was badly damaged and greatly reduced.

The use of slang, poor grammar, and of aggressive, offensive, and threatening language greatly increased. Self-discipline and personal accountability have been replaced with selfish hedonism and victimization. The concept of earning respect was replaced with deserving respect. Our children have been raised to believe that competing is bad, and winning isn’t important; everybody deserves the same reward regardless of personal effort and performance.

Political correctness has created a society unable to address differences between cultures, races, or other social distinctions, while at the same time destroying the concept of the American social “melting pot.” We now have Afro-, Hispano-, Asian-, etc. Americans who believe the culture and values of their homeland or racial group is more important than their identity as Americans. We have inadvertently created a new type of segregation.

So in addition to the many good things, the history of the Baby Boomers and their children has created all kinds of bad fall-out. Examples are extremely high rates of birth out of wedlock, huge numbers of abortions, huge numbers of single parent families, widespread use of drugs, illogical environmental and social laws, great loss of heavy industry, tremendous growth in government and the taxes required to support it, and a less civil, more crude society.

A second irony is the left accusing the right of using violent rhetoric when the use of extreme aggressive violent language, hyperbole, rhetoric , and imagery has been an invention and mainstay of the left; they are now accusing a much more mild right, in particular the Tea Party and talk radio, of abusing freedom of speech with excessive use of violent language. For any liberal to make such an accusation is not only ironic, but also hypocritical.

Personally, I would like for people on all sides of the political spectrum to avoid aggressive language and instead endeavor to express their ideas and opposition with more accuracy and less emotion. I don’t think this will really happen, because the left is steeped in the concept of using every crisis to drive an emotional following to a loud attack on their opposition.

I recently stated that I dislike seeing the Republicans “playing nice” with the Democrats; and I definitely feel that way. I think the Republicans need to respect the right of the Democrats to their opinions, but I also think Republicans need to strongly counter those damaging and anti-American ideas.

Modern politics is more clearly than ever aligned between not just conservative and liberal, but right and wrong. The conservatives are simply right, and the liberals are simply wrong, and there is nothing in that to compromise. I would rather see congress unable to ever pass another law than to pass one more law that will hurt our country.

Liberal Tea Party

An example of left-wing civility



You can prepare now – To Save Money on Gas
!.) First of all, ignore the rumor that filling up early in the morning is a good idea. The minuscule amount of extra gas in your car is basically immeasurable. There are many better tips out there to save on fuel costs.

2.) One of the easier ways to save on gas is to SLOW DOWN!!! Once a vehicle reaches a speed of 60 miles per hour on the highway, it is estimated that every 10 miles per hour over this speed, you can lose 2 – 3 miles per gallon (this is even worse in SUVs ad large trucks that are less aero-dynamic). Driving 60 instead of 70 may not seem like much, but on a lengthy commute, saving 2 – 3 miles per gallon can really add up. Especially if you drive this commute every day.

3.) Also, in relation to speed, acceleration can play a big part. Every time you put the petal to the metal, you are wasting gas. Slowing down when accelerating is a huge key to saving money, especially in city driving. Also, if you think you are getting to your destination faster by flooring it and passing one or two cars, you are wrong. All you are doing is endangering yourself and others, and wasting gas.

4.) Another tip I can give to save money on gas is to plan ahead to limit your trips. If you know you are running out of groceries, like milk, do not drive home and then go to the store. Try and stop on your way home to buy the essentials. Even if you have to pay an extra 50 cents for a gallon of milk, the money you would spend to drive home, then drive again to the grocery store, plus wear and tear on your vehicle, costs you much more.

5.) If public transportation is available for you to take to and from work, take it. The small amount of money you pay to ride public transportation is much less than what you would spend driving your own vehicle, wear and tear, gas, etc. Also, carpooling is never a bad idea if it is feasible for you.

The Captain and the King

The WallStreet Journal 

JANUARY 7, 2011

Why Owen Honors had to go, and why a stammering monarch is a movie hero.

At a time of new beginnings in Washington, and as a new year starts, some thoughts on leadership that begin with two questions. First, why is it a good thing that the captain of the USS Enterprise was this week relieved of his duties? Second, why is the movie “The King’s Speech” so popular and admired? The questions are united by a theme. It is that no one knows how to act anymore, and people miss people who knew how to act.

Capt. Owen Honors, commanding officer of an aircraft carrier, was revealed to have made and shown to his crew videos that have been variously described in the press as “lewd,” “raunchy,” “profane” and “ribald.” They are. Adm. John Harvey, who Wednesday relieved Capt. Honors of his duties, said the captain’s action “calls into question his character and undermines his credibility.” Also true.

In a way it’s not shocking that Capt. Honors did what he did, because he came from a culture, our culture, in which, to be kind about it, anything goes. Mainstream movies, television, music—all is raunch. To say the obvious, John Paul Jones, Bull Halsey and Elmo Zumwalt likely wouldn’t have made those videos, if they could have. More to the point, some average, undistinguished naval captain in 1968 wouldn’t have made them either, because he would have had his mind and consciousness formed in the 1930s and ’40s, when our culture was more coherent and constructive. It can also be said that Capt. Honors’s videos were not extreme by the standards of our day. Even his bigotry seemed self-spoofing, as obviously nitwittish and vulgar as the character he was playing—himself—was nitwittish and vulgar.

But the videos were a shock in that this was a captain of the U.S. Navy, commanding a nuclear-powered ship, and acting in a way that was without dignity, stature or apartness. He was acting as if it was important to him to be seen as one of the guys, with regular standards, like everyone else.

But it’s a great mistake when you are in a leadership position to want to be like everyone else. Because that, actually, is not your job. Your job is to be better, and to set standards that those below you have to reach to meet. And you have to do this even when it’s hard, even when you know you yourself don’t quite meet the standards you represent.

A captain has to be a captain. He can’t make videos referencing masturbation and oral sex. He has to uphold values even though he finds them antique, he has to represent virtues he may not in fact possess, he has to be, in his person, someone sailors aspire to be.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth is shown with her husband, King George VI, and their two daughters, Princess Elizabeth, center, and Princess Margaret, in 1937. (AP Photo)
A lot of our leaders—the only exceptions I can think of at the moment are nuns in orders that wear habits—have become confused about something, and it has to do with being an adult, with being truly mature and sober. When no one wants to be the stuffy old person, when no one wants to be “the establishment,” when no one accepts the role of authority figure, everything gets damaged, lowered. The young aren’t taught what they need to know. And they know they’re not being taught, and on some level they resent it. For the past 20 years I have heard parents brag, “I brought up my child to question authority.” Ten years ago I started thinking, “Really? Well good luck finding it, junior.”

In England this week the story continues to be Kate Middleton, who is not an aristocrat, marrying into the royal family. Meaning she’s about to become, in a way, a leader within her culture. Clever people on TV are giving her media advice. Be one of us, they say, lighten and brighten, bring in less formality and stultifying stiffness.

Wrong, wrong, wrong. If any family ever needed to be classed up it is Britain’s royals, with the exception of Queen Elizabeth, that great lady. Kate should take her polite and striving middle-class upbringing and use it to add dignity and distance to the House of Windsor. They came close to losing public support for the monarchy the past 40 years, in part due to the advice of PR geniuses who told them, in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, to get with it. Stop being fusty, be hipper, show your humanity. It seemed reasonable—Britain was exploding with the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Cool Britannia. The royals had to catch up. And so they showed their human side, and revealed over the decades that they were not better than anyone else, not more disciplined, serious, patriotic, faithful or self-denying. Intimate public confessions, raucous medieval tournaments in which they rolled in the mud, toe sucking. This is royalty? Then what are slobs for?

The only good advice would have been: Stay boring, strive to appear to be persons of rectitude and high morality, don’t be modern, stand for “the permanent against the merely prevalent,” love God and his church, don’t act out and act up. Be good.

That, looking back, is all Britain needed. But it’s what every nation needs, now more than ever, from its leaders. Which gets us to “The King’s Speech.”

It is England, the 1930s, a time of gathering crises. The duke of York, a shy man with a hopeless stammer, is forced to accept the throne when his brother abdicates. “I am not a king,” he sobs; he is, by nature and training, a naval officer. Hitler is rising, England is endangered. The new, unsure king’s first live BBC speech to the nation looms.

He will stutter. But he is England. England can’t stutter. It can’t falter, it can’t sound or seem unsure at a time like this. King George VI and his good wife set themselves, with the help of an eccentric speech therapist, to cure or at least manage his condition.

He sacrifices his desire not to be king, not to lead, not to make that damn speech. He does it with commitment, courage, effort. He does it for his country.

He and his wife aren’t attempting to be hip, they are attempting to be adequate to the situation. The king is aware of the responsibilities of his position, and demands a certain deference. When his therapist tells him they must work as equals, he stammers, “I’d be home with my wife and no one would give a damn, if we were equals.” As for personal style, the great scene is when the king, on the prompting of the therapist, screams every low curse word he knows. It’s funny because it’s obvious he doesn’t say those words. He is a person of restraint, and old-fashioned ways. He doesn’t want to be one of the guys.

And audiences love it. The Journal’s Joe Morgenstern called the movie “simply sublime,” and it is, for some simple reasons. It’s about someone being a grown-up, someone doing his job, someone assuming responsibility. It is about a time when someone was taking on the mantle of leadership, someone was sacrificing his comfort for his country.

Someone was old-school. Someone wasn’t cool.

What a relief to see it. No wonder at the almost-full 4:45 p.m. showing at an uptown Manhattan theatre on Wednesday, they burst into applause, and some, you could tell, wanted to cheer.

Days of Auld Lang What?

DECEMBER 31, 2010

The origin of the New Year’s anthem—


You know exactly when you’ll hear it, and you probably won’t hear it again for a year. The big clock will hit 11:59:50, the countdown will begin—10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4—and the sounds will rise: the party horns, fireworks and shouts of “Happy New Year!

And then they’ll play that song: “Should auld acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and days of auld lang syne?”

It is a poem in Scots dialect, set to a Scots folk tune, and an unscientific survey says that a lot of us don’t think much about the words, or even know them. The great film director Mike Nichols came to America from Germany as a child, when his family fled Hitler. He had to learn a lot of English quickly and never got around to “Auld Lang Syne”: “I was too busy with words like ’emergency exit’ on the school bus,” he told me. “As a result, I find myself weeping at gibberish on New Year’s Eve. I enjoy that.”

The screen and television writer Aaron Sorkin, who this year, with “The Social Network,” gives Paddy Chayefsky a run for his money, says that every year he means to learn the words. “Then someone tells me that’s not a good enough New Year’s resolution and I really need to quit smoking.”

Auld Lang Syne”—the phrase can be translated as “long, long ago,” or “old long since,” but I like “old times past”—is a song that asks a question, a tender little question that has to do with the nature of being alive, of being a person on a journey in the world. It not only asks, it gives an answer.

It was written, or written down, by Robert Burns, lyric poet and Bard of Scotland. In 1788 he sent a copy of the poem to the Scots Musical Museum, with the words: “The following song, an old song, of the olden times, has never been in print.” Burns was interested in the culture of Scotland, and collected old folk tales and poems. He said he got this one “from an old man”—no one knows who—and wrote it down. Being a writer, Burns revised and compressed. He found the phrase auld lang syne “exceedingly expressive” and thought whoever first wrote the poem “heaven inspired.” The song spread throughout Scotland, where it was sung to mark the end of the old year, and soon to the English-speaking world, where it’s sung to mark the new.

The question it asks is clear: Should those we knew and loved be forgotten and never thought of? Should old times past be forgotten? No, says the song, they shouldn’t be. We’ll remember those times and those people, we’ll toast them now and always, we’ll keep them close. “We’ll take a cup of kindness yet.”

The phrase old acquaintance is important,” says my friend John Whitehead, fabled figure of the old Goldman Sachs, the Reagan State Department, and D-Day. “It’s not only your close friends and people you love, it’s people you knew even casually, and you think of them and it brings tears to my eyes.” For him, acquaintance includes, “your heroes, my heroes—the Winston Churchills of life, the ones you admire. They’re old acquaintances too.”

But “the interesting, more serious message in the song is that the past is important, we mustn’t forget it, the old has something for us.”

So does the present, as the last stanza makes clear. The song is not only about those who were in your life, but those who are in your life. “And there’s a hand, my trusty friend, and give a hand of thine, We’ll take a right good-will draught for auld lang syne.”

To Tom Coburn, a U.S. senator from Oklahoma, the song is about friendship: “I think it’s a description of the things we lose in our hurry to do things. We forget to be a friend. We have to take the time to make friends and be friends, to sit and tell stories and listen to those of others.”

Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana said he always experienced the song as celebratory and joyful until something happened in 2004. Mr. Daniels was running for office, and it became a new bonding experience for him and his father, who followed the campaign closely: “He loved my stories from the road.” The elder Daniels died unexpectedly in August, “50 days short of my election as governor.” At a New Year’s party, the governor-elect heard the song in a new way. Ever since, “I hear its wistfulness.”

Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes,” enjoying one of the great careers in the history of broadcast news, thinks of childhood when she thinks of “Auld Lang Syne”: “I see New Year’s Eve parties going way back, all the way back to when we were little kids and you had to kiss someone at midnight and you had to sing that song.” She interviewed Mark Zuckerberg recently. “Maybe in the age of Facebook you don’t lose old friends,” she says. “Maybe it’s obsolete.” Maybe “they’ll have to change the song.”

For the journalist and author Marie Brenner, the song didn’t come alive until she moved from her native Texas to New York City, in the 1970s. That first New Year’s in town, “Auld Lang Syne was a revelation to me. . . . I thought, this is beautiful and maybe written by a Broadway composer, by Rodgers and Hammerstein.” She saw people singing it “on the street, and at a party in a bar downtown.” There was “this gorgeous moment when everyone seemed to know the words, and people looked teary and, yes, drunk.” They played the song back in San Antonio, “but it took me coming to New York to really hear it.”

The song is a staple in movies, but when I asked people to think of the greatest “Auld Lang Syne scene,” every one of them had the same answer. Not “When Harry Met Sally,” not “Out of Africa,” not, for film buffs, Charlie Chaplin’s “The Gold Rush.” The great “Auld Lang Syne” scene in cinematic history is from “It’s a Wonderful Life,” which Mr. Sorkin puckishly describes as “Frank Capra’s classic tale of an angel who takes up the cause of a progressive in order to defeat a heartless conservative. It’s possible I’m misinterpreting the movie, but the song still works.”

The scene comes at the end of the film. Friends surround George Bailey, recently rescued by an angel. Someone bumps against the Christmas tree and a bell ornament makes a sound. George’s daughter says, “Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings,” and George looks up and winks. “Thanks, Clarence,” he says, as the music swells. God bless the baby boomers who discovered that film on TV after their elders dismissed it as Capra-corn.

Tonight I’ll be at Suzie and Joe’s, with whom I worked at CBS News in auld lang syne. I’ll think of some who won’t be entering the new year with us—big, sweet-hearted dynamo Richard Holbrooke, and Ted Sorensen, counselor to presidents, whose pen was a terrible swift sword. I’ll take a cup of kindness yet for them, for all the old acquaintances in this piece, and for the readers, for 10 years now, of this column. We mark an anniversary. Thank you for being in my life. Happy New Year.

SEO Powered By SEOPressor