The following speech was given at a Wednesday Morning Club event on April 18, 2006. -- The Editors.
If you go to a college campus, watch television or go into a bookstore, you’re like to see these suspects: people like Al Franken, Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, and Ralph Nader. They talk about a whole host of issues. They talk about affirmative action. They talk about economic justice. They talk about the importance of regulating corporations and avoiding entanglements with corporations.
We also have people like Hillary Clinton, Barbara Streisand or Nancy Pelosi. Some of these people on the liberal left actually are in positions of power and authority. When it comes to debating them and arguing with them, you probably have had the same experience I have, and that is that oftentimes people on the liberal left pose as our moral superiors.
In other words, when you end up debating an issue, the issue no longer becomes whether the policy makes sense. The issue becomes, Who is more morally clean? Who is superior in moral terms? For example, if you oppose their economic agenda, you’re greedy! It’s the end of the debate. If it is a question of their environmental agenda, and you oppose it, you are a polluter. When it comes to the issue of labor unions, if you don’t support the agenda of labor unions, you are heartless—end of discussion. And of course, if you oppose affirmative action quotas, you are a racist and a bigot.
This is something that we’re probably all used to and, if you’ve been on a college campus recently, you realize that what the liberal left oftentimes pushes these days is not a series of policies, but an ethic or new way of living. Essentially what they’re doing is their going to college campuses and they’re telling young people that, if you want to live a morally clean and superior life, you need to embrace our agenda. It’s the way that you should live your life and it’s superior to the materialistic, capitalist way that your parents told you about.
This is something that I’ve heard repeatedly. In fact, I have relatives who are Ralph Nader supporters and friends of the liberal left, and it dawned on me, as I heard them talking about these issues passionately, that oftentimes there was a yawning gap between what these people say that they actually believe and how they actually live their own lives.
So what I decided to do is go back in history a little bit and look at the 1960s idea. You probably remember the 1960s, the idea that the personal is political. In other words, the things that you do in your life personally reflect on your moral commitment or your political commitment to the cause. I decided to conduct a little investigation and turn that on its head. I wonder, is the political personal? In other words, do the people on the liberal left actually live by the ideas that they impose on the rest of us?
For example, they talk about affirmative action but, when it comes to hiring employees, do they actually practice it? When they advocate taxes on the American people, do they pay those taxes or do they actually set up tax shelters to avoid those very same taxes?
They talk about the environmental agenda and the importance of green politics, but when it comes to their own private property, do they actually act on those same values?
Let me begin with a rather large target and that’s Michael Moore. Michael Moore is clearly the biggest leader of the liberal left on college campuses today. His book Stupid White Men came out a couple of years ago. Did anybody have the misfortune of actually reading that book? Good. Well, I performed a valuable public service—I read it for you and what he said in Stupid White Men is really quite interesting.
He talks about the fact that America is plagued with racism and bigotry. He says, for example, at work, we whites get all the plum jobs, double the pay and a seat in the front of the business to happiness and success. It’s very clear in his mind. There’s not an occasional pocket, perhaps, of bigotry. It is a widespread phenomenon that we are all involved in.
Then he talked about a trip he took to Los Angeles, being the sensitive man that he is. He said, “I now play a game with myself trying to clock how long it will be before I spot a black man or woman who isn’t wearing a uniform or sitting in the receptionist desk. During my last three trips to Los Angeles, the clock never stopped. The black head count was zero.”
Now this is a pretty noxious approach to say that you’re going to have a black headcount. But this is oftentimes what happens with the liberal left. When they discuss affirmative action, the only way that you can prove your commitment to the cause is by looking at the numbers. Let’s run the numbers. Do you have a work force that is sufficiently diverse? And if the numbers don’t measure up, you are de facto racists and bigots.
Michael Moore, as a result of this view, advocates what he calls “aggressive affirmative action.” He’s very clear on this in his book. Here Michael Moore is at his most sanctimonious when he says, “If you’re white and you really want to change things, why not start with yourself?”
Therefore, I decided to start with Michael Moore. Michael Moore likes to talk about affirmative action. Michael Moore likes to badger the rest of us about it. Let’s take a look at Michael Moore’s hiring practices. This was a very easy thing to do because, as a lot of you who are familiar with the entertainment industry probably know, the industry is decided by credits. You can find out who worked on a film, who worked on a book, who worked on a television show by simply looking at the people who were credited in those positions. So I did that in the case of Michael Moore. Let’s see what we found.
Starting with his first film, Roger and Me, the crew and all of that was all white. But let’s cut him a little bit of slack, since he was starting out in the business. He was in Flint, Michigan and these were his buddies so it must just be an aberration. There’s his second film, Pets are Meat, Return to Flint, his second documentary. That was all white as well. Canadian Bacon was his feature film. Hopefully nobody had the misfortune of seeing that film. All the senior people he hired in this case were white as well.
Then you get to TV Nation, his television series. Almost all of the senior people in this case were white. Then you had Fahrenheit 911. Again all the senior people are white, with particularly ironic about this is, two years before Fahrenheit 911 came out, Michael Moore, in Stupid White Men, said, “All minorities who are interested in working in the television and film industry should send me their résumés because I want to hire you.” Well, I guess this was the first film he did after that. I assume those résumés probably got lost in the mail. Then there’s The Big One, another one of his documentaries. Again, all the senior people that worked on that film were white. Bowling for Columbine, similar situation.
What is the grand total? How is Michael Moore doing? I found that he had hired 134 people since 1990 to work on his film projects, his documentaries and his books. Of those 134, a grand total of 2 were actually African-American. I should say that I found one white individual who was an African-American studies major, so maybe he counts that as well.
But the point I’m making is that Michael Moore, who likes to go on in extreme pomposity to complain how racist and bigoted we are, has an absolutely horrible record when it comes to actually hiring minorities.
Let me move onto another interesting target, or another question as relates to Michael Moore. That is his view on racism in America. You see, it’s not just a question of who we hire and the fact that we don’t hire in the numbers that he feels are sufficient. It’s also a question of where we live. Did you know that if you pick to live in a certain neighborhood and it happens to be predominantly white, that means you’re a racist and a bigot? That is again the theme and the view that Michael Moore espouses. He talks about the fact that, when minorities move into a neighborhood, all the white people flee. The racism is so rampant in American, this is the reality.
Well, Michael Moore lives somewhere. Michael Moore seven years ago moved to Central Lake Michigan. Now Central Lake Michigan, for those of you who don’t understand the geography, is on Torch Lake, which is one of the most beautiful lakes in North America. Central Lake Michigan takes the U.S. Census likes the rest of us. Now given Michael Moore’s views about the fact that where we live defines whether we’re racist or not, one would think that this would be a pretty diverse community. But, according to the U.S. Census, Central Lake Michigan has 25,051 residents and there’s not a single black resident in the entire town. That’s quite a stunning record for Michael Moore, wouldn’t you say?
One could say that, you know, perhaps this is just an extreme case involving one individual. Let’s pick another target: Al Franken. Al Franken has the same views as Michael Moore. He says that Republicans are racist because they oppose affirmative action, that conservatives “hurt black people and help rich people.” He says that the lack of diversity among conservatives is a sign of racism. He laments the fact that, whenever he sees a gathering of conservatives or gathering of Republicans or corporate America, it is predominantly white and that is just a terrible, horrible thing.
Well, Al Franken’s in the same business as Michael Moore—entertainment. Again, you can take a look at the credits. What you find with Al Franken is a very similar pattern. All the people he’s hired to work on all of his projects, with one exception, have been white. In fact, Al Franken hired 112 people and only one was African-American. Now this is particularly funny for Al Franken. He wrote a book a couple of years ago called, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. Did anybody have the misfortunate of reading that book? Okay. Well, Al Franken devotes an entire chapter of the book on a very easy target for liberals, and that is this fundamentalist college in the Carolinas called Bob Jones University. Whenever liberals want to look at religious conservatives, they go to Bob Jones University. And that’s what Al Franken did and, in this chapter, he talks about how abhorrent it is that Bob Jones University has a student body population that is only 1% African-American. The irony of course is that, based on the numbers, Al Franken’s staff is whiter than Bob Jones University. It’s a stunning development, when you think about it.
Let’s talk about some other issues, burning issues such as Michael Moore and capitalism and corporations. This is probably his favorite subject, because Michael Moore believes that corporations are uniformly evil. He has said numerous times, he doesn’t think capitalism is right “on any level.” He has called capitalism “another evil empire,” in contrast to the evil empire, the Soviet Union, which is gone. We’ve still got one we need to defeat. He says that corporate managers are in fact “corporate terrorists.” People who work for Halliburton he calls “corporate thugs.” Halliburton—remember the name of that company.
He says oil companies “rape and destroy our environment,” and he says pharmaceutical companies are “greedy and kill people.” I guess this is their business model—to kill off their customer base. He’s said repeatedly, “I don’t own a single share of stock because it’s morally wrong.” Now this is something that he likes to trump out all the time on college campuses. He actually goes and tells young people, “You don’t want to work for the big man. You don’t want to work for the boss man. You don’t want to work for corporations. You don’t want to invest in the stock market because, by investing in the stock market, you are cooperating with the debasement of the world. You’re exploiting people in developing worlds. You’re exploiting American workers.”
This is what Michael Moore tells college campuses. What he tells the IRS is something very different. You see, Michael Moore and his wife set up a tax shelter about 15 years ago when they started making money on Roger and Me. This is a private foundation. They completely control it. It has no employees. There are only two members of the board and the two members of the board are Michael Moore and his wife. It’s registered at their home. This is an example of some of the capital gains that they’ve taken in recent years. This is the allegedly stock-less Michael Moore.
It makes very interesting reading because you find Pfizer, for example. He bought shares of Pfizer. He’s owned shares in Schlumberger, an oil well-drilling company. He’s owned shares in Noble Energy, which is an oil pipeline company. If you look about 60% down the right-hand column, you can see that, a few years ago he actually owned shares in Halliburton, of all things. Can you imagine a shareholder meeting with Michael Moore and Dick Cheney?
The point is that Michael Moore is very much involved in the stock market and it’s a good thing. He’s a wealthier man because of it. While he goes around telling people on college campuses, “Don’t be involved with the Big Man,” Michael Moore’s actually in bed with the Big Man. Michael Moore is an individual who has invested in the stock market and is very much the corporate investor that he professes to lament and dislike.
Then there’s Ralph Nader—Saint Ralph, of course. People on the left may think that he has gone off the reservation a few times, but otherwise he’s completely morally clean. At least that is the agenda. He has taken the same view that Michael Moore has, that, corporations have eroded our standards of living and sometimes life itself. He complains about rampant speculation on Wall Street and he says, “We shouldn’t make decisions based on “sales and profits and corporate yardsticks.” Instead we should invest in what he calls “consumer-owned private enterprises at a community level.”
Ralph Nader talks a lot about co-ops. He loves co-ops. The problem is, Ralph Nader doesn’t invest in co-ops. You see, when Ralph Nader ran for President, and he’s run a couple of times, he released his financial disclosure forms. What these reveal is that Ralph Nader has no investments in community co-ops but he owns stock in a whole host of companies. What’s interesting is, they’re all non-union. These are high-tech companies that do a whole lot of business in the developing third world. This is the friend of the working man. He wants other people to invest in co-ops but he’s going to invest in Fortune 500 companies himself.
But it gets even deeper with Ralph Nader, because he’s been an activist for more than 40 years. What’s very interesting is, when you go back and look at Ralph Nader’s stock investments over the years, through tax shelters that he owns, you find a very, very interesting pattern. For example, in 2002, he supported the fair use of copyright, which was a position supported by Verizon, a company in which he owned $300,000 in stock. In 2000, when he campaigned for the break-up of Microsoft, he quietly held investments in a whole host of high-tech companies that also wanted to see the break-up of Microsoft and understood that it would benefit their business.
In 1976, he campaigned against Firestone but he bought shares in Goodyear. This is all completely documented. In 1973, he bought shares in Allied Chemical, which produced air bags, about a month before he came out publicly in support of air bags. In 1970, he campaigned against the merger involving IT&T and he quietly short-sold those stocks, anticipating of course that, if the merger didn’t go through, he would make a lot of money.
In 1967, the case that made him famous, he campaigned against General Motors because of the Corvair. He never told anybody he had stock in Ford. What’s very interesting about that case is there was actually a reporter that found about this and asked him about it. He said, “You know, Mr. Nader, I just talked to your broker and he said that you bought shares in Ford.” Ralph Nader’s explanation was, “Those shares weren’t for me. Those were my mother’s shares.” So I guess the Nader family is very much involved in financial investing.
I have another section I like to call, “Workers of the World Unite Somewhere Else.” This is where we find Nancy Pelosi—Democrat leader in the House, the best friend of labor unions you can imagine. She says that labor unions are vital to negotiating good wages and working conditions. She won the Cesar Chavez award from the United Farmworkers Union in 2003. Remember that, the United Farmworkers Union. She is the top recipient of PAC contributions from the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees Union.
What’s interesting about that is, there were several strikes a few years ago in San Francisco, where she came down strongly on the side of the hotel employees and restaurant employees union and campaigned aggressively for them against other hotels. Of course she is the most reliable vote in Congress for organized labor.
What’s interesting about Nancy Pelosi is that she and her husband not only are very influential in the Democrat Party, they’re very wealthy. With Nancy Pelosi, her commitment to organized labor essentially ends when it comes to her own businesses. Nancy Pelosi and her husband own a Napa Valley vineyard that’s worth about $25 million. They grow very expensive grapes for very expensive wines, and they don’t use members of the United Farm Workers to pick their grapes. This winner of the Cesar Chavez award hires only hire non-union contractors.
There are plenty of union contractors in Napa Valley and there are other wineries that use them, its’ just that the Pelosis don’t have happen to among them. They also sell their grapes to non-union wineries. They recently held investments in two other wine businesses that were also strictly non-union.
But it gets even worse than that. Nancy Pelosi and her husband also own a chain of restaurants and a hotel in Napa Valley, California. Despite her public commitment to the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees Union, you better not join that union and work for the Pelosis, because you will end up getting fired. For example, they are partners in a hotel with 250 employees, which is strictly non-union. They are among the very few owners of Piati, a chain of Italian restaurants with 900 employees. Again, if you try to join the union when you work for the Pelosis in their restaurant, you will be fired.
One other issue for Nancy Pelosi. I hate to pick on her, but it’s just so inviting. As they say in the military, it’s a target-rich environment. With Nancy Pelosi, another big issue is the environment. She always makes statements that, with us, the environment is not an issue, it’s an ethic, it’s a value. Which is a nice way of saying, “I love the environment, but not when it comes to our own businesses.” A lot of people don’t realize that, in 1996, Nancy Pelosi and her husband and fewer than 10 other partners wanted to build a golf course and country club outside of San Jose, California, called the CordeValle Country Club. In order to get approval to build on these 275 acres, they had to comply with some very stringent county environmental regulations. Now the California tiger salamander and the Western pond turtle are apparently endangered species and they’re very, very common on these 275 acres that the Pelosis wanted to develop.
So the agreement they struck with local regulators was, we’ll build the golf course, we’ll set up some holding ponds and we’ll create a natural habitat to make sure that these environmental endangered species survive.
Of course, they built the golf course. It opened in 2000. If you want to join, the membership is $250,000. But they never followed the environmental regulations. The ponds were never built for these endangered species. For seven years, they also failed to file any of the environmental reports required by the California Fish and Wildlife Commission. A 2004 County Environmental Compliance Report found all kinds of environmental problems on the Pelosis’ golf course.
Remember with Nancy Pelosi, her commitment to the environment is not just an issue, it’s an ethic and a value. What does that actually mean in practical terms? Did they turn around and build this habitat and comply? No, they solved the problem the old-fashioned way: they hired lobbyists and they got the environmental regulations changed. So if you go to the CordeValle Country Club today and play golf, it’s a wonderful course, but there will be no holding ponds. There will be no endangered species and the Pelosis seem to be quite happy with that.
There’s one more individual, sort of the liberal lion of the U.S. Senate, and that would be Ted Kennedy. If there’s one issue that Ted Kennedy likes more than any other, it’s taxes. In his mind, he’s the Robin Hood of the U.S. Senate. He’s going to steal from the rich and give to the poor. He talks about tax cuts or bonanzas for the rich and giveaways. He supports the inheritance tax in the name of social justice and says repealing it would benefit millionaires. He believes it’s that simple.
That’s what Ted Kennedy says about taxes. But what is the Kennedy record of actually paying taxes? Ted Kennedy of course is a millionaire. You’d think the inheritance tax would affect him. How has that worked out? The reality is that the Kennedys have set up dozens of trusts around the world to avoid paying the very tax that he says is important to pay in the name of social justice: the inheritance tax. What’s particularly ironic about this is, for a long time, their largest asset was Merchandise Mart, the real estate conglomerate. When they decided to set up a trust, where do they domicile that trust? Anybody want to guess? Was it Massachusetts, their home state? Florida? California? Delaware?
The Kennedys domiciled Merchandize Mart, with more than $600 million, on the Pacific Island nation of Fiji. Has Ted Kennedy ever been to Fiji? I don’t think there’s any record that he has. But they picked Fiji because it avoids IRS scrutiny, the sort that you would get if you domiciled the trust in the United States.
The reality today is that Ted Kennedy receives money from trusts established numerous times, from 1926, 1936, 1978, 1987, and 1997, and those trusts of course are designed to avoid paying the inheritance tax.
What does this actually mean in practical terms? Let me give you the bottom line. Ted Kennedy supports an inheritance tax of 49%. Forty-nine percent of what you have goes to the IRS after you die. Now, what rate did the Kennedys pay? The Kennedys have transferred $300 million, this is all according to their records, they have transferred $300 million from one generation to the other, and out of that, they have paid $132,000 in taxes, which is nowhere near 49%? Actually it’s .004 percent. The Kennedys, like a lot of other people on the left, love the idea of paying taxes for other people. When it comes to themselves, they’re not so interested.
Who else puts their trust in trusts? These are individuals who favor the estate tax and say its important in the name of social justice, but that set up a trust to avoid paying it? Well, George Soros, Ralph Nader, Noam Chomsky. Noam Chomsky is particularly interesting. This self-professed radical socialist actually set up a trust to avoid paying taxes, even though he has denounced trusts in his book. I contacted Chomsky by an e-mail. To his credit, he did respond and I asked him, “How can you, in good conscience, denounce rich people avoiding paying taxes when you’re doing the very same thing?” His explanation was, “I don’t apologize for putting aside money for my children or grandchildren.” For a radical socialist, that sounds pretty bourgeoisie, doesn’t it?
I said to him, “Look, this is a ridiculous claim. Why are you any different than any other parent?” His explanation was that it was okay because he and his family are “trying to help suffering people.” In other words, it’s okay for him to do it and not for the rest of us.
There’s just one more issue with Ted Kennedy, which is important, besides being fun and that is Ted Kennedy and gun control. This has been a big issue for him for decades. He wants an outright ban on handguns. He wants limits on all rifles and submachines guns. His view is that guns don’t make people safer. You may think they make you safer, but they really don’t make you safer.
A few years ago, Ted Kennedy’s body guard, was arrested on Capitol Hill. This did not get a lot of press. He was trying to get into the Russell Senate office building and he was carrying unregistered weapons, including one handgun, two submachine guns and 146 rounds of ammunition.
The explanation from Kennedy’s office? Kennedy’s spokesman said, “The Senator’s primary concern was leaving the city with adequate protection.” Now I’m sure that two submachine guns would make anybody feel safe. In practical terms, what Ted Kennedy says he believes and what he believes when it comes to his own life, is radically different.
Hypocrisy is part of the human condition. If we set high standards for ourselves, we all are going to fall short from time to time. Conservatives and everyone else engage in hypocrisy. There’s the pro-family politician who cheats on his wife. There’s the issue involving Rush Limbaugh and the Oxycontin, or Bill Bennett and gambling. All cases where there seemed to be a gap between what people said and what they actually did.
But there’s a fundamental difference between conservative and liberal hypocrisy. Think about the conservatives who have abandoned their principles: Rush Limbaugh or Bill Bennett or the pro-family politician who cheats on his wife. Those individuals have said that it was a dramatic mistake, that it hurt them and it hurt their families. In other words, it was a bad thing that they abandoned their principles. The point is those conservative principles are kind of like guard rails on a winding road. You don’t always like it that they’re there. They can kind of be irritating and bothersome. But they’re there to protect you and to make your life better, and that is the experience.
But you would be hard pressed to find a conservative who has engaged in hypocritically behavior and who has ended up the better because of it.
Interestingly, with liberals, it’s the opposite. Liberal hypocrites oftentimes improve their lives when they’re hypocrites. For example, Michael Moore is better off because, instead of buying into his own rhetoric and avoiding corporations, he’s wealthier because he invests in them. Ted Kennedy actually feels safer because he has an armed body guard rather than a body guard who just sort of stands there.
The point is that liberal principles oftentimes are bad for you. They take away your rights, they take away your freedoms, and they end up hurting your prosperity. At the end of the day, what this hypocrisy teaches us is not just about the failures of the icons of the liberal left, also something about their ideas, and that is that people on the liberal left, when it comes to the things that matter most in their own lives, do not trust those things to their own ideas.
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