First Pundit Night Remarks

I was pleased to participate in Dr. Coleman’s political pundit night on 9/12/18 to answer the question: Is Tom Reed a success or failure? Naturally, I answered that Tom is a success. In a state absent conservative governing principles, Tom Reed is a breath of fresh air. But the heavily progressive audience did not agree. Most listened politely to my remarks. I’m guessing they totally disagreed with me, which is fine. Some, however shouted, laughed and were rude. We expect such behavior from some on the left. It’s right from their playbook: when you have no argument, mock and harass. We don’t let their childish tactics deter us. My brief speech follows. Please note that the text below is mostly in the form I used to deliver the speech. The next pundit night is in late October to discuss President Trump and the midterm elections. I’m looking forward to it and I thank Dr. Coleman for inviting me and for trying to get people from opposite sides of the political spectrum to talk to each other.

Dr. Coleman, fellow pundits, ladies and gentlemen.

I have good news and I have bad news.

First the bad news.

Upstate New York is in a generations-long death spiral.

In a 1962 speech to the Economic Club of New York,

President John F. Kennedy noted

the chronically depressed areas upstate.”

Ladies and gentlemen – that was 56 years ago.

According to the Federal Tax Agency,

New York State has the highest combined taxes in the nation.

Chief Executive Magazine rates NYS with the second worst business climate in the country.

Meanwhile – upstate continues to de-populate.

From 2000–2016 NYS lost 14% of its population to other states.

NY leads the nation in population loss.

In the recent debate between Governor Cuomo and Cynthia Nixon

they spent 10 seconds on upstate, and zero seconds on tax reduction, the

awful business climate, and population loss.

That is no accident.

Because – upstate’s decline is the direct result of their progressive policies.

That’s the bad news.

Now the good news. Tom Reed stands like a lighthouse—his ideas, a beacon to

point our way out of the mess we’re in—and to warn us to avoid Democrat policies. policies that have failed us for 60 years.

Tom stands for lower taxes, less government and the inevitable result-


Tom spoke at a “Defend Private Property Rights” rally to support victims of Cuomo’s fracking ban. Who were the victims? Farmers, union men and women;

electricians, carpenters, plumbers, welders. Regular folks looking for work, a chance to make it.

Tom fights for them.

Tom voted for the Trump tax cuts, keeping $1,474 in the pockets of married couples with 2 children in the 23rd Congressional District — an 18% tax cut.

Last February, Tom threw the wasteful Omnibus spending bill under the bus,

a gutsy, common-sense vote.

Tom introduced the “Reduce” act to help middle-class families by reducing the cost of college and to make academia more transparent, a desperately needed reform. Tom supports school choice to give minority children a chance at success

by escaping failing public schools. In New York, Tom Reed is one of the few

commonsense conservative voices in a room crowded with incompetent


We desperately need his voice, here and in Washington.

He’s a runaway success.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.


The alt-right recently held Unite the Right rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia and Washington, DC. Naturally the press turned out in droves, far outnumbering the twenty racists and other assorted nutters they were sent to cover. Why would the press bother covering a culturally and numerically irrelevant fringe group?

In school, we learned that political philosophy/ideology can be thought of as Left (progressives) or Right (conservatives), and that going too far to the left yields communism, while going too far to the right leads to fascism. But does this make any sense? For the purposes of this article I will continue to use the terms left and right, but it’s more accurate to think about it as less and more; big government versus smaller, limited government. The extreme of conservatism is not fascism. It’s anarchy. Extremes of the left yield both fascism and communism, which require a big, all-powerful government.

American conservatives believe in the principles expressed in the Declaration of Independence. Foremost is the “self-evident truth” that we are born with our rights. Government can’t give you the rights you already have at birth, but it can take them away. If you believe your rights come from God or nature, you’ve failed Fascist 101, because fascists don’t believe people have any rights that government doesn’t give them.

The Declaration says government must be answerable to the people, and exists to protect our individual rights: “To secure these rights Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Fascists force people to bow to the government. Conservatives strongly support people’s right to own property. For fascists, property ownership is a privilege granted at the whim of government. Conservatives favor government closer to the people, because people know and have access to government officials and can therefore influence policy. Fascists believe in an all-powerful central government. What if government fails to secure our rights? The Declaration says, “That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends (our rights), it is the Right of the people to alter it or to abolish it.” This ultimate power is ours. For conservatives this is an article of faith; for fascists, a mortal sin. The contrast could not be clearer.

The philosophical roots of conservatism begin with John Locke, the Enlightenment and the concept of Natural Law, which formed the basis of the Declaration and our Constitution. According to Natural Law, we’re all born free and equal with inherent rights, and we are able to understand things through reason. Georges Sorel, one of the foundational philosophers of fascism (as well as socialism and communism), believed in myth over reason and violence as a means of change. Contrast this with Jefferson’s appeal to reason in the Declaration: “To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world” and “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes.”

The cultural project to convince Americans that a tiny nudge is all it takes to turn conservatives into goose-stepping Brownshirts began in the early 1920’s. Progressives of the day invested considerable hope in Woodrow Wilson, America’s 28th President. By the end of Wilson’s second term, optimism gave way to bitter disappointment because Wilson was unpopular, having left the country exhausted from war and mired in a deep depression. In the early 1920’s intellectual elites (academics, writers, and artists) did what elites always do: they blamed average Americans for Wilson’s unpopularity, especially people from small towns, who were called ill-educated, unsophisticated, dumb and therefore vulnerable to the siren song of fascism. The modern version of this is Hillary’s description of Trump supporters as deplorable and irredeemable.

Consider also the aspect of personality. Conservatives are seen as conventional, conformist and respectful of authority, traits that some ascribe to fascists. The idea that inside every Rotarian lurks a potential fascist is deeply rooted in the progressive psyche. Sinclair Lewis’s “It Can’t Happen Here,” written in 1935, is about the fascist takeover of our government. It is reissued every time a Republican is in the White House. The New York Times re-reviewed It Can’t Happen Here in January of 2017 (the timing was not coincidental) with the headline, “the novel that predicted Trump.”

The idea that every conservative is a potential Hitler frightens progressives to death. As crazy as it sounds, they believe it. That’s one reason why they have no qualms in smearing us with the vile epithet of “fascist.”

Which side is closer to fascism, left or right? Hitler was a socialist. The name Nazi stands for National Socialist German Workers Party. Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was named after leftist Mexican President Benito Juarez. Mussolini was a socialist who said “Everything within the state, nothing against the state, nothing outside the state.” Now consider what the patron saint of progressivism, FDR, proposed in his 1944 State of the Union Address. “Necessitous men are not free men,” FDR said, and went on to propose a second bill of rights that guaranteed not only health care as a right but “good health,” “a decent home” and a good-paying job, all provided by the government. Obama echoed this in 2001 when he said that the Constitution says what the government can’t do to you, but does not say what the government must do on your behalf (everything? Whatever Obama thinks government should do?) This has been an ongoing project of the left since FDR’s second bill of rights speech. If something is a right, then government must provide it. The government produces nothing, of course, and so it must seize it by force, and then proceed to regulate it, run it, and redistribute it. FDR and Obama echo Mussolini, “everything inside the state.” The party platforms of both the Italian and German fascists are a lot closer to FDR and Obama than to anything ever proposed by a conservative.

Back to the original question. Why did a host of reporters turn out to cover a handful of crazies in Charlottesville? Most reporters are progressives who believe the left-right model. They share the utterly irrational fear that every conservative is just itching to channel his inner Hitler, and just needs the right leader to come along (Trump anyone?). To be associated with fascism is to be branded as a hate-filled kook, and guarantees a big headline.

And once you’ve implied that conservatives are a part of the fascist family tree, you never have to consider or, heaven forbid, debate a conservative idea.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.


A lesson in Progressivism

In my old neighborhood in Brooklyn, there was always a guy who knew a guy who was selling watches or cameras or suits – whatever happened to fall off a truck. The cops from the 68th Precinct would pinch the guy. Given that he was caught with the swag, the boys in blue hauled him off. Simple. You get caught with the swag, you go.

Here in Steuben County, Republican campaign signs have been disappearing for ten years. Fed up with the situation, the Tom Reed campaign put a tracking device on one, and Reed’s campaign manager, Nick Weinstein, followed the tracker to the home of a local activist, retired reverend Gary “Lightfingers” McCaslin, who was subsequently charged with petit larceny.

The whole dustup is a lesson in progressive political thought and tactics.

First, progressives disregard the idea that someone else’s private property is their own. They’re always telling us what to do with our money, our labor, our land, you name it, so why not campaign signs? Coercion, regulations, prosecutions and intimidation through pubic shaming are all tools of the progressive left.

Second, they never admit they’re wrong. The attorney for Lightfingers blamed “the inappropriate political climate” for the alleged theft, which is amusing since most of the hysteria these days comes from the left. Progressives never accept responsibility for their numerous screw-ups; it’s always someone else’s fault.

Third, when the owner of the lifted property complains, progressives blame the victim. The name-calling begins – petty, paranoid, stupid – in an effort to cast the victims as evildoers. By implication, of course, progressives are good guys and innocent victims themselves.

Fourth, they say they did it for the community, the common good. Lightfingers’ attorney told us that he was just trying to clean up – and isn’t it just like a conservative like Reed to litter? To save the environment, Lightfingers was gathering campaign signs, even if they didn’t belong to him. This is the technique of claiming the moral high ground. Not only are progressives good people, they’re better than you.

The method is always the same, no matter the issue. You could substitute tax cuts, health care or natural gas development for campaign signs, and the progression (pun intended) would be exactly the same.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.




The other day, I went to our local DMV in Corning to renew my driver’s license, which seemed a mundane enough activity. Little did I know I was about to journey through the looking glass.

To look at the building sitting high on a hill, you’d never guess that the DMV is located there. The only sign says, “WARNING SIDEWALK UNDER REPAIR.” The main entrance sits at the top of the concrete steps. You can’t take the steps, which are torn apart, but no signs indicate where you’re supposed to go. I stumbled around until I found a way in.

The building is a magnificent old courthouse fronted by Greek columns. Inside are marble floors, a graceful winding staircase, a vaulted ceiling and intricate molding of the type found only in buildings constructed in the late 1800’s. It was a time when people were well-mannered. My, how things have changed.

The signs inside said Line One and Line Two, but it was unclear who was supposed to stand in which line or where the lines began. I was one of a few early arrivals. We were all confused, looking at each other questioningly. We waited in front of a massive iron grate, and somewhat later than the advertised opening time of 8:30 AM, the grate slowly and noisily rolled up to reveal counters, computers and two scowling DMV clerks. It was immediately clear they had flunked the customer service course. Their faces said, “approach with caution.”

The clerk in front of me, looking annoyed, said not “Good morning” but “Who’s next?” which would seem to be a rhetorical question, since I was first in line. He never looked at me or spoke to me while he looked over my paperwork. At last satisfied, he barked, “Read the top line.” I had no idea what he was talking about. I said, “I’m sorry?” He said, “Eye exam.” Baffled, I asked, “Where?” He gestured to a wall plastered with black-and-white leaflets, in the middle of which was a well-camouflaged black-and-white eye chart. I read it and he said, “Line number two.” “Did I pass the eye test?” I asked. Still looking everywhere but at me, he growled, “Yes.”

I had come up in the world; I graduated to Line Two. I moved to where I thought Line Two was. I looked at the others waiting back in Line One, who were smiling, shaking their heads, rolling their eyes or shrugging in resignation. Their faces said, “Yes, we’re paying these people to treat us like crap.”

Now my wait in Line Two began. No one was staffing it. After ten minutes I caught a clerk’s eye and, smiling, I asked, “How long?” Sounding bored, she said, “As soon as they’re done in the back.” Minutes dragged by, more people arriving, more sympathetic smiles and eye-rolling among the crowd. A couple in their mid-60’s walked in, confused about where to stand. The woman said, pointing to my lonely spot on Line Two, “Do we line up here?” “Oh, no,” I chuckled, “This is Line Two, apparently it’s my own private line. I think you belong on Line One.” I stood for another ten minutes and finally a clerk from the back made her way to the counter and the steel door in front of Line Two ground open. This clerk didn’t look at me either. She called, “Who’s next?” I glanced behind me – I was alone – and said, “Must be me.”

When at last my business was complete, the woman I had spoken with earlier finally made it to Line Two. She said, “We’re moving back here from Colorado and we’re getting New York licenses and registering our vehicles.” I said with some irony, glancing at the DMV clerks, “Welcome to New York!” A knowing smile flashed across her face. “Thank you. I know New York, the bureaucrats rule and we obey.”

In the age of instant information, it took 45 minutes to renew my driver’s license, and it was an endurance test complete with uncivil civil servants. All I could think was, “Thank God these people aren’t running our health care.”

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.




Andrew Cuomo has been a disaster for all of New York but especially for Upstate. The Upstate economy is fragile and has been in an economic depression for generations. Cuomo promised to turn it around but he has failed. Seth Barron of the Manhattan Institute cataloged the boondoggles Cuomo funded with our hard-earned tax dollars. The title of the article is “A Kings Ransom” and it appeared in the Sunday July 22nd New York Post. The link appears below:

The article is an indictment of Democrat economic policy. The basic theory is that government and the experts who reside therein must direct tax-payer dollars to the “right” places to grow the economy and create jobs; in stark contrast to empowering people to create economic growth. Any Republican candidate running for state-wide office in New York state should loudly and clearly state that Democrat economic policies don’t work. We have 8 years of Cuomo’s abysmal record to prove it.

I urge you to click on the link above and read the article by Mr. Barron.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.



It may seem that the left has lost its collective mind over the supposed Trump-Russia collusion, but the upper echelons of the Democrat party know what they’re doing – enacting a cynical political strategy to discredit Trump and slow his agenda. While Democrats are now suddenly pro-America and anti-dictator, they have a long history of cozying up to terrorists, tyrants and thugs of all stripes, even Russians.

In 1927, a group of progressive activists who became known as The Travelers journeyed to the Soviet Union because they were unhappy with the economic boom under Republican Calvin Coolidge. The 1920’s were called the Roaring Twenties because this was one of the most prosperous periods in American history. Therefore, the Travelers visited a brutal dictatorship to see how authoritarians run an economy. They toured factories, work camps, construction projects and the Kremlin itself, where they met Stalin. They were deeply impressed by all they saw, and were especially enamored of Stalin. Within six years several of the Travelers wound up serving in the FDR administration, among them Stewart Chase, who coined the term “New Deal.”

In the early 1980’s Ted Kennedy, the Democrat Senator from Massachusetts known as the Liberal Lion of the Senate, made an offer to then-Soviet dictator Yuri Andropov. Through an intermediary, Democrat Senator John Tunny of California, Kennedy offered to give Andropov talking points and other political advice to be used to attack Republican President Reagan. With a humming economy resulting from Reagan’s tax cuts, the only place where Kennedy felt Reagan was politically vulnerable was foreign policy.

In 1984 the Reagan administration supported the Contras, an opposition group trying to overthrow the communist dictatorship of Nicaragua led by Daniel Ortega. Ten Democrat Congressmen, including the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and the Majority Leader, wrote what became known as the Dear Comandante Letter to Ortega. They asked Ortega for free elections and promised they would not vote to fund the Contras. This undermined Reagan’s foreign policy, made the country look weak, and usurped the executive branch’s authority in conducting foreign policy.

John Kerry, who later became the Democrat Presidential nominee in 2004, traveled to Nicaragua to attack Reagan’s policies and give support to Ortega. Ultimately, because of Reagan’s tough stand, Nicaragua held free elections in 1990. Kerry of course ran as a moderate in 2004, distancing himself from his far-left record on Latin America.

Democrats always cite extraordinary, unprecedented and life-threatening circumstances when they collude with thugs, but only when a Republican is in the

White House, and only when they sense political advantage.

Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph.D.