Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Final Justice for Major Anderson

 USAF Major Rudolf Anderson, who died when his U-2 was shot down over Cuba on 27 October 1962.  The event pushed the U.S. and the Soviet Union closer to nuclear war; intelligence information discovered later suggests that Fidel Castro may have played a key role in the incident (USAF photo via Wikipedia)

Various pundits and politicians--as they often do--made fools of themselves over the weekend, offering effusive praise for Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, who finally assumed room temperature at the age of 90.

El Commandante was a hero to leftists around the world, who conveniently ignored his real record as a brutal despot who killed thousands in his gulag, and thousands more through the deprivations that come with a failed, socialist economic system.  Castro was hailed for Cuba's "advances" in education and health care, but such claims masked the reality of everyday life in Fidel's Workers Paradise. The Cuban leader gave everyone a taste of poverty, with little access to basic consumer goods and services that were readily available in other Latin American countries.  No wonder that so many took to the seas in rickety boats, trying to escape Castro's living hell.  We may never know how many drowned attempting to cross the Florida Strait, or disappeared in the regime's prisons after being recaptured by the Cuban coast guard.

Of all the tributes to Castro, none was more pathetic than the eulogy offered by Justin Trudeau, Canada's liberal prime minister.  In a statement released shortly after the dictator's death, Mr. Trudeau noted that the Cuban dictator was a "controversial" figure, but praised his "tremendous dedication and love for his people."  That was too much for Senator Ted Cruz of Texas; the son of a Cuban immigrant who was forced to flee the island because of Castro's tyranny.  As Mr. Cruz tweeted:

Unfortunately, President Obama's comments on Castro's passing weren't much better.  In an official statement, Mr. Obama whitewashed the dictator's decades of killing and enslaving the Cuban people, unwilling to say anything that might jeopardize the recent "normalization" of relations between Havana and Washington.

There were celebrations in Miami (and elsewhere) when Castro's death was announced, and rightfully so.  Virtually everyone in the Cuban exile community--or a member of their family--experienced Fidel's terror first-hand.  For them, his appointment with the Grim Reaper was long overdue, and they can take some solace in the thought that Castro is receiving his eternal punishment.

The same holds true for the friends and family of U.S. military members who perished as a result of Castro's actions.  That list includes eleven airmen who were crew members on RB-47 reconnaissance aircraft that went down during and after the Cuban missile crisis in 1962.  The same holds true for members of the Alabama Air National Guard who were shot down during the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.  On temporary assignment to the CIA, they flew B-26s that provided air support for Cuban exiles trying to establish a beachhead and begin the liberation of their country.  The Alabamians died while President Kennedy refused to commit a much larger American force to the fight.  Their sacrifice wasn't acknowledged by the CIA until almost 20 years later, and the agency refused to comment publicly on their mission until the late 1990s.    

Castro's passing may also offer some closure for the family of USAF Major Rudolf Anderson, who found himself literally in the cross-hairs of the missile crisis, and became the only American to die in action over Cuba.  A graduate of the Air Force ROTC program at Clemson University, Anderson earned his pilot wings and flew F-86s during the Korean War.  Five years later, he was selected for the U-2 program and quickly established himself as one of the best at piloting that difficult and unforgiving aircraft.

When the missile crisis began, Anderson was part of the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, based at Laughlin AFB, Texas.  With more than 1,000 hours in the "Dragon Lady," it was a given that Anderson would be among the pilots flying the daily, high-altitude missions over Cuba.  Launching from their base in west Texas, the U-2s would head east across the Gulf of Mexico.  Over Cuba, the U-2 pilots would typically fly a long, looping track over suspected missile sites and other facilities before heading north and recovering at McCoy AFB, near Orlando, Florida.  Missions staged from McCoy followed a similar path, with the pilot flying on to Laughlin after photographing targets in Cuba.

The U-2 missions began in early October and by the mid-month, photographs collected by the U-2 confirmed what the CIA had suspected.  Russia had placed nuclear-capable, intermediate range missiles in Cuba, placing much of the CONUS under the threat of nuclear attack.  As tensions mounted and the U.S. implemented a naval blockade, the U-2 flights continued, providing valuable intelligence for President Kennedy and his military advisers.

But there were growing concerns about the potential vulnerability of the U-2s and their pilots.  Along with the nuclear delivery systems, the Russians had also deployed SA-2 surface-to-air missiles.  Two years earlier, an SA-2 downed a CIA U-2 over the Soviet Union, leading to the capture of pilot Francis Gary Powers and an embarrassing international incident.  As the crisis wore on, there was mounting fear that a Cuba-based SA-2 would again engage a U-2.  At altitude, there was little a pilot could do, except fly an S-shaped maneuver, designed to increase the "miss" distance between his aircraft and the early-generation SAM.

Anderson was on the flying schedule for 27 October, one of four U-2 flights scheduled for that day.  Electronic intelligence (ELINT) information confirmed a growing threat to American recce aircraft and three of the U-2 missions scrubbed.  But senior officers at Strategic Air Command (which controlled Air Force U-2 assets) decided to go ahead with Anderson's sortie.  He launched from McCoy, following a mission profile that would carry him over key locations in eastern Cuba, then on to Laughlin.

In the early 1960s, most military pilots had nothing more than their eyeballs to detect enemy missile launches.  The CIA had developed and installed an early radar warning receiver (RWR) in the cockpit of their U-2s.  When a tracking radar (like the one associated with the SA-2) was detected, a yellow light illuminated on the device.  A missile launch was indicated by a bright red light.

American ELINT assets detected a spike in SA-2 radar activity from eastern Cuba, including the site near Banes.  But the RB-47s and other platforms monitoring the signals had no way of providing warning to the U-2 pilots.  Given the escalating SAM threat, the Air Force "borrowed" RWR-equipped U-2s from the CIA, and it is believed Anderson was piloting one of those aircraft on the 27th.

Unfortunately, the spooks were missing key pieces of the puzzle--information that would have likely prompted cancellation of Anderson's mission.  The night before his flight, Fidel Castro visited Russian air defense headquarters in Cuba and urged commanders to put the network on combat status.  Russian officers, increasingly worried about a potential U.S. attack, needed little encouragement.  That's why American ELINT operators noted an increase in "Spoon Rest" and "Fruit Set" radars at SA-2 sites, as Anderson passed overhead.

But Castro's involvement in the U-2 incident may have gone beyond that meeting with Russian air defense commanders.  In 1964, almost two years after the missile crisis, cryptologists at NSA broke a Soviet military cipher and began working their way through old message traffic, hoping to glean additional insights about Russian operations.  A number of messages originated with Soviet forces in Cuba, during the nuclear face-off with the United States.

Some of that traffic provided new--and startling--insights about the status of Soviet air defenses in Cuba.  Several messages alluded to a firefight at the SA-2 site at Los Angeles, near the Cuban naval base at Banes.  Russian commanders at the scene reported the SAM complex had come under fierce attack and their troops responded.  The attackers were never identified, but with no reports of internecine combat among Soviet troops on the island, the assault was almost certainly carried out by Cubans, presumably under the orders of Fidel Castro.

Other reports suggest that Cuba gained joint control of the SAM sites about the same time, a significant change from established Russian operating procedures.  Was the sudden change a product of Fidel's visit to Soviet commanders and the apparent attack on the Banes SA-2 complex?  The answer to that question remains unclear, as does the issue of who was in control when the site launched a pair of missiles against Anderson's U-2.  At least one exploded near the aircraft; shrapnel punctured the pilot's pressurized flight suit; the rapid decompression killed him in a matter of seconds.  Wreckage of the spy plane landed near the SAM complex; some of it remains on display to this day at military museums in Cuba.  Major Anderson's body was returned to the U.S. a few weeks later, after the crisis ended.  He is buried in his hometown of Greenville, South Carolina, where an F-86 on static display serves as a monument to Anderson's life and sacrifice.

The issue of who was in charge at Banes on that fateful day is critical.  Word of the shoot down quickly made its way to the White House, where JFK and his advisers assumed the Russians made the decision on their own, dramatically escalating the crisis.  And to be fair, the order to fire was made by Moscow's senior air defense officer on the island.  But if his decision was influenced by Castro's lobbying--or a Cuban assault on the Banes complex--it puts his directive in a completely different context.  Subsequent interviews with Cuban and Russian participants have provided confirmation--and denials--of the attack on Banes, and the role of Fidel Castro.  It remains one of the unanswered questions regarding the darkest moment of the missile crisis.  

Despite the loss of the U-2 and Major Anderson, the U.S. never lost interest in aerial reconnaissance over Cuba, and tweaking Fidel whenever the opportunity arose.  In the 1980s, as a junior intelligence officer, I met an F-4 squadron commander with a background in the SR-71.  On one occasion, he amazed us with 8mm "home movies," shot from the cockpit of the Blackbird (amazing).

And, he would gladly tell the story behind another of his prized possessions.  It was a photograph of Castro, greeting Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev as he stepped off the plane in Havana.  Both men are shaking hands, but they are looking straight up.  Their skyward gaze was caused by our squadron commander, who was at the controls of an SR-71 over Cuba that day.  Brezhnev's arrival ceremony was interrupted by the distinctive double sonic boom of the Blackbird, leaving Fidel to explain why the Yanqui air pirates were operating with impunity in his airspace.

In some respects, those flights--which went on for years--provided a measure of justice for Major Anderson and the other U-2 pilots who risked their lives over the island during the missile crisis.  Our departure from Cuban skies was only temporary.  When we returned, it was with a vengence, and there was nothing El Commandante could do about it.                                       



Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Prepare to Board!

J.M.W Turner's famous painting of the Battle of Trafalgar (1805).  The Royal Navy's pending loss of anti-ship missiles on surface combatants will force a return to closer-range engagements, with potentially deadly consequences (Wikipedia image)  

Just another, sad, reminder that Britannia no longer rules the waves.

The Royal Navy--which set the sea power standard for centuries--has announced plans that will further reduce its combat power and leave its ships vulnerable in potential engagements with Russian, Chinese and even Iranian vessels.

From the UK Telegraph:

Royal Navy warships will be left without anti-ship missiles and be forced to rely on naval guns because of cost-cutting, the Ministry of Defence has admitted.

The Navy’s Harpoon missiles will retire from the fleet’s frigates and destroyers in 2018 without a replacement, while there will also be a two year gap without helicopter-launched anti-shipping missiles.


Harpoon missiles are unlikely to be replaced for up to a decade, naval sources said, leaving warships armed only with their 4.5in Mk 8 guns for anti-ship warfare. Helicopter-launched Sea Skua missiles are also going out of service next year and the replacement Sea Venom missile to be carried by Wildcat helicopters will not arrive until late 2020.

Without the Harpoon, the strike range of Royal Navy frigates and destroyers will be effectively reduced by 75%.  The U.S.-built Harpoon, introduced more than 30 years ago, can hit surface targets up to 80 miles away.  Without that capability, RN combatants will be forced to rely on their deck guns, which have a maximum range of 17 miles.   

Needless to say, senior British naval officials, past and present, are more than a bit concerned:

Rear-Adml Chris Parry, said: "It's a significant capability gap and the Government is being irresponsible. It just shows that our warships are for the shop window and not for fighting."

Lord West of Spithead, a former First Sea Lord, said: “This is just another example of where the lack of money is squeezing and making the nation less safe.

“We will have this gap of several years without missiles. Well, that’s fine if you don’t have to fight anybody in the meantime.”

The problem, of course, is that we're entering an era when global sea lanes are becoming a contested environment.  Russia is rebuilding its fleet from the ruin of the early 90s and recently deployed a carrier battle group to the eastern Mediterranean, to support operations in Syria.  China is building its own blue-water navy, and will have 4-5 carrier battle groups (with commensurate power-projection capabilities) within the next 10 years.  Even regional powers like Iran and North Korea have sea and shore-based anti-ship missiles that can out-range the deck guns of Royal Navy surface vessels.  

To be fair, the Royal Navy still has strike options beyond a 4.5-inch naval round.  British attack subs, like their USN counterparts, are equipped with Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles (TLAM), with a maximum range of up to 1,500 miles, depending on the variant.  But the TLAM is most effective against fixed targets, not maneuvering ships, and U.S. plans to halt its production will limit availability for the RN in the future.   

Another strike option is based on Great Britain's two, new fleet carriers, the HMS Queen Elizabeth and the HMS Prince of Wales.  The largest warships ever built in the UK, the carriers will embark an air wing that includes F-35 Lightning IIs and helicopters capable of attacking surface targets.  But the weapons employed on those fixed and rotary-wing assets are range-limited, and the aircraft would have to run the gauntlet of advance air defenses (on Russian and Chinese ships) to deliver their ordnance.  And there are a number of operations where Royal Navy destroyers and frigates will not be operating with a carrier.  

What to do in the decade between retirement of the Harpoon and the arrival of replacement weapons? The Brits can increase joint ops with the U.S. Navy, which will retain an anti-ship missile capability for the foreseeable future.  But even the USN's position is far from optimum; the Harpoon variants in widest service are older models and vulnerable to anti-missile defenses.  Work on a replacement (the Long-Range Anti-Ship Missile, or LRASM) is in development, and won't reach the fleet for years.  

Making matters worse, the range of naval strike aircraft is also dropping, thanks to limitations of the F/A-18 airframe and dwindling tanking capabilities within the fleet, so USN Super Hornets and the F-35 will have to run the same air defense gauntlet to get a crack at the surface combatants of peer/near-peer competitors.  Meanwhile, both Russia and China have fielded advanced, supersonic anti-ship missiles (most notably, the SS-N-22 Sunburn) and Beijing has invested heavily in the DF-21, a ballistic system widely touted as a "carrier killer."  Collectively, these systems could create operational "no go" zones for U.S. and allied naval groups, impacting our ability to control global sea lanes. 

That's not to say that deck guns are completely worthless.  They're still quite useful in supporting troops ashore--as long as you can dodge anti-ship missiles launched from coastal batteries.  But even "revolutionary" gun technology has its limitations.  Case in point?  The Long-Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP), developed for the 155mm main gun on the USN's Zumwalt-class destroyers.  While LRLAP is extremely accurate, it's also very pricey at roughly $1 million a round.  

The projectiles are so expensive, in fact, that the Navy has cancelled the planned buy of 2,000 rounds, to be divided among the three Zumwalts that will be built.  A small number will be produced for testing, but the idea of using the weapon to support Marines ashore seems like a pipe dream. Needless to say, the Royal Navy won't be looking at its own version of LRLAP to compensate for Harpoon's retirement.  

In the interim, the RN may have to dust off employment manuals from the eras of Lord Nelson and Admiral Jellicoe.  As we noted on Twitter (@NateHale), Royal Navy surface engagement tactics from 2018 on may look something like this:

1.  Form battle line.

2.  Engage with main guns

3.  Lure enemy into CIWS range

4.  Distribute cutlasses, small arms and prepare to board!  

And the USN doesn't have much room to brag.  As our favorite naval blogger, Cdr Salamander, recently observed, the number of Burke-class DDGs that can no longer fire a Harpoon is both surprising and alarming.                                              

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Winners and Losers (Election Edition)

The earth is spinning backwards on its axis.  Aliens have landed.  Donald Trump has been elected the 45th President of the United States.

Until about 3 am Wednesday morning, most of the media nobility and political elites would have given you better odds on the first two scenarios.  Mr. Trump, the real estate billionaire and reality TV host was someone who could never be allowed to occupy the Oval Office--especially if it denied the presidency to Hillary Clinton, acclaimed by the same elites to be the "best-qualified candidate of all time."  Never mind that she is (arguably) the most corrupt individual ever to seek the nation's highest office, someone who has clearly committed serious crimes that would send an ordinary person to prison for decades.

Trump was also a flawed candidate, described at various turns as a misogynist, bigot, charlatan, liar and worse--an orange-haired carnival barker with no relevant who experience who offered a "dark vision" (to use a favored Democrat talking point) and appealed to our worst fears.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Mrs. Clinton's appointment with inevitability. Despite having huge advantages in organization, fund-raising and decades on the political stage, she was a terrible candidate.  Clinton couldn't run on her record as a senator (she accomplished nothing) or secretary of state, where, in league with President Obama, she literally set the world aflame.  And if that wasn't enough, she promised more of his policies; fixing Obama care, another bloated stimulus, higher taxes and more government regulation.  Her legal and ethical issues were just rancid icing on a rotten cake.

That's why Trump is making plans for his inauguration while Clinton gave a concession speech that supposedly outlined a "way forward."  You read that right.  Is that a hint at another run in 2020?  One shudders at the prospect of another Hillary campaign, but with the Clintons, you can never rule anything out.  Our guess is that Mrs. Clinton and her husband may have some legal matters to work out between now and then, thanks to that little pay-for-play scheme they perfected during her tenure at State.  A new FBI Director and a de-politicized DOJ may have something to say about that.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves.  There's still the post-election autopsy, complete with our list of those who succeeded beyond expectations and those who failed ignominiously.


Donald J. Trump.  That may seem like a no-brainer, but the president-elect's road to the White House was anything but conventional--or easy.  Despite his vast wealth, Trump was dismissed as a side-show candidate when he entered the race in 2015.  The "experts" predicted he would fade quickly against the likes of political pros like Jeb (!) Bush.  But Trump knows a little bit about staging, marketing and image-making, thanks to those years on The Apprentice and his successful real estate career.  But more importantly, he championed the issues that resonated with ordinary Americans--illegal immigration; stagnant wages, the failure of Obamacare, the mass-exporting of U.S. jobs to locations overseas.  At times, his effort looked like a dumpster fire (Trump went through three campaign managers) and could be his own worst enemy on the stump.  But in the words of one pundit (more on them in a bit), Trump was the candidate who never quit; he hammered his opponent relentlessly and touted his vision relentlessly.  It paid off last night, in spades.  He not only won the presidency, he reshaped the Republican electoral map and re-ordered the adopted party.  Quite a feat for someone who had never run for elected office.

Kellyanne Conway.  Ms. Conway has been a fixture in Republican campaigns--and on the talking-head circuit--for years.  When she was elevated to the post of campaign manager in early summer, she became the third person to hold that title in less than a year.  While acknowledging her competence, most of the experts doubted that Conway and campaign chairman Steve Bannon could keep Trump on track.  There were inevitable problems--and gaffes.  Trump wasted time in dust-ups that could have been better spent touting his message.  But Conway brought a discipline to the campaign that Trump previously lacked; stream-of-consciousness speeches were replaced with teleprompter addresses that helped eliminate unforced verbal errors.  Ms. Conway is also one of the architects of Trump's "rust-belt strategy" that led him to narrow victories in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and (likely) Michigan that shattered the so-called "blue wall" and gave Trump his electoral win.  Regardless of what happens in the White House, Conway's campaign management was a marvel.  Honorable mentions to staffers like Jason Miller and Jessica Ditto, who played leading roles in Matt Bevin's election as Kentucky governor one year ago.  The parallels between Bevin's triumph and Trumph's winning campaign are strikingly similar.  

The Forgotten Man (and Woman).  Many of the voters targeted by Team Trump were outside the demography of post-modern political coalitions.  Mr. Trump aimed his appeal at individuals who had been cast aside in the rush towards a globalist, post-modern world, including thousands of factory workers who have watched their jobs move overseas since the 1980s.  Or those still at work who haven't had an actual pay raise in 20 years; endured the erosion of their savings during last decade's financial collapse of 2008-2009, and now face skyrocketing healthcare costs under Obamacare.  The forgotten men and women of America cast their lot with Trump and paid a price for their support.  As Michael Goodwin wrote in the New York Post:

"...Trump’s voters often took great risks and were routinely insulted and demeaned for their passion.
But they wore those insults as badges of honor, proudly calling themselves the “deplorables” and the “irredeemables.”

The factory workers, the veterans, the cops, the kitchen help, people who plow the fields, make the trains run, pick up the trash and keep the country together and keep it moving — they are all now winners. As one, these cogs of our daily life rose up in a peaceful revolution, their only weapons the ballot box and their faith in the future.

Trump voters had the courage of their conviction to go against all their betters, all the poobahs and petty potentates of politics, industry and, above all, the fraudulent hucksters of the national liberal media."

And for once, their voice was heard.  

Pat Caddell.  While most members of the pollster and pundit class took a beating this cycle, Mr. Caddell was one of the exceptions.  A veteran of presidential campaigns since the Jimmy Carter era, Caddell has been predicting a middle class uprising against the elites since at least 2012.  In various appearances on talk radio and Fox News, Caddell noted the growing anger from working and middle class Americans over declining economic opportunities, including the loss of jobs, and perceptions that the system is "rigged" against them.  Not sure if Donald Trump listened to Caddell or met with him at some point, but many of the arguments from the Democrat pollster made their way into this year's GOP platform, and netted millions of votes, particularly in the upper Mid-West.  

The Homeless.  This might seem like a strange choice until you remember that members of this group virtually disappear during a Democratic administration.  That doesn't mean there are fewer homeless, it's simply that the media doesn't cover the story as often when a Democrat is in power.  Beginning in January (if not sooner) any homeless person living Trump Tower stands a good chance of getting on the evening news, while the press speculates about the new president's sympathy for the downtrodden. 

Roger Wicker.  The Republican Senator from Mississippi had the herculean (some would say thankless) task of supporting re-election efforts for GOP incumbents in the upper chamber this year.  Republicans had to defend 24 seats, and a number of those were considered vulnerable.  Wicker and his team worked tirelessly to support GOP Senate candidates and their efforts were largely successful.  Incumbents like Ron Johnson (Wisconsin); Roy Blunt (Missouri) and Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania) were considered all-but-dead just a few weeks ago.  All won re-election.  As of this writing, Republicans have lost only two Senate seats, Kelly Ayotte's in New Hampshire and Mark Kirk in Illinois.  Senator Kirk was considered dead meat a year ago, and Ayotte lost by less than 1,00 votes.  But along with the plaudits, Wicker also deserves some darts for missing opportunities.  Darryl Glenn, the retired Air Force officer who took on Michael Bennett in Colorado, ran an underfunded campaign in a light-blue state and lost by only three points.  Glenn didn't get a dime from the RSCC.  

Trafalgar Research. The Atlanta-based polling firm was very accurate throughout the campaign and they did something no one else could--proved there was a reservoir of "hidden" Trump votes, which was completely missed by Trafalgar's competitors.  Company CEO Robert Cahaly discovered a novel way to identify undetected or "under-developed" Trump voters.  Realizing that many supporters didn't want to admit they were voting for the GOP nominee, Cahaly also quizzed voters on who their neighbors were voting for.  When he found someone with two or more neighbors supporting Trump, he assessed the respondent was in the Trump camp as well.  Mr. Cahaly estimates the hidden vote could have been worth up to three points for the Republican candidate and may have provided the margin of victory in the Rust Belt.  

In fairness, we should also salute two surveys that also got it right, polls from the Los Angeles Times daily tracking and the Investors Business Daily.  The LA Times used a different approach, surveying the same sample group throughout the campaign, and they showed a consistent Trump lead.  IBD has had the most accurate poll for the last four election cycles.  There are lessons to be learned from IBD's approach.

The Kremlin. It was obvious early on that V. Putin had a dog in this year's presidential fight, and his name was Donald Trump.  The GOP nominee tirelessly advocated for closer relations with a Moscow regime that annexed Crimea; is actively supporting an insurgency in eastern Ukraine, and conducted an armed intervention in Syria, in support of the Assad regime (and did we mention that most of the Air Force bombing runs have been conducted against U.S.-backed rebels instead of ISIS).  Better yet, a senior Putin aide admitted yesterday that Russian intelligence services "helped a bit" with the stream of Wikileaks revelations unleashed on Democrats over the past six months.  It looks like Putin has his guy in the White House and the impact of U.S. national security policy could be dramatic.    


Hillary Clinton.  Difficult to underestimate the scope of Mrs. Clinton's defeat.  As the Washington Post noted, the former senator and secretary of state looking like a "President-in-waiting" just two years ago, with vast advantages in fund-raising, party support and organization.  Now, she's just another failed presidential candidate, with serious legal problems that will dog her in retirement.  And she has no one but herself to blame.  Following the time-honored Clinton tradition of flaunting rules, regulations and the law, Mrs. Clinton elected to create her own e-mail system, triggering the scandal that tainted her campaign, and amplified public perceptions that she is corrupt and untrustworthy.  She offered little in the way of solutions for the nation's problems and by her campaign's own admission (via Wikileaks), Clinton was badly out of touch with middle class voters.  People in places like Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennnsylvania already knew that and cast their ballots accordingly.  

The Clinton Foundation.  For decades, the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative were hailed as models of modern philanthropy, delivering financial support and needed services to poor communities arond the world.  But that was a scam, first exposed by author Peter Schweitzer (Clinton Cash) and later by Wikileaks revelations.  Both unearthed a trail of coruption, with Bill and Hill gladly selling access to the U.S. government in exchange for multi-million dollar donations to their charities.  Financial records suggest the organizations were little more than slush funds for the Clintons and their friends.  The list of current/former employees reads like a list of former administration and campaign officials.  Meanwhile, other documents suggest the Clinton charities delivered only 6% of their proceeds to designated programs and there are new revelations that Chelsea Clinton used the foundation to help pay for her lavish $3 million wedding and funded her living expenses for a decade.  While the Clintons touted the FBI's decision not to recommend prosecution for her illegal e-mail activities, they are also aware the agency's probe into the foundation is continuing, and potential indictments/prosecution could shutter the foundation for good.  

Obama's Legacy.  Voters chose Trump to repudiate the Obama agenda.  Eliminating Obamacare, enacting a pro-growth economic plan and restoring America's military strength will go a long way towards reversing the Obama legacy and (rightfully) relegating him to the dustbin of failed presidents.  

Democratic Party.  While Democrats basked in the glory of Obama--and awaited the "third term" with Hillary--something was happening to their party outside of D.C.  Republicans have redoubled efforts to take over more governorships and state legislatures since 2008, and they've been hugely successful.  As Obama and Hillary exit the stage, the GOP controlls 33 governorships and both houses of the legislature in more than 30 states.  Not only does that provide a tremendous advantage in enacting low-tax, low-regulation, pro-growth legislative agendas that are popular with voters, it also gives the GOP a leg up on re-districting and provides a tremendous incubator for rising talent.  Losses at the state level have dramatically thinned the Democratic bench.  As of today, the leading Democratic contenders to take on Trump in 2020 are Hillary Clinton (who will be 73); retiring Vice President Joe Biden (who turn 77) and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders who will be 79.  The "kid" of the bunch is Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, who celebrates her 71st birthday in 2020.  To be fair, Trump will be 74 at the time of a re-election bid, but he presents a far more vigorous image than his Democratic challengers.  And beyond Trump, there is a wide and deep pool of experienced Republican governors and senators who have their own oval office ambitions and many are only in their 40s and 50s. 

Media, Pollsters and the Pundit Class.  This is the post-mortem equivalent of shooting fish in a barrel, but there isn't a more deserving group.  Over the past 36 hours, members of the political press; the number crunchers that drive their coverage and "analysts" of all stripes have been forced to admit they got campaign 2016 completely wrong.  We'll begin with polling that offered up a steady diet of surveys based on 2012 turnout models that assumed members of the Obama coalition would turn out in similar numbers for Hillary Clinton.  Even a Poly Sci 101 students would have a hard time buying that argument, but flawed turnout predictors gave us polls that (at varying points) told us the election was in the bag for Clinton.  The LA Times and IDB were viewed at outliers, and could not be trusted. Making matters worse, virtually all pollsters missed the "hidden" Trump vote that carried him to victory.  

As for the media, their coverage was blatantly slanted, at least when it came to Trump and his supporters.  Since Election Night, there have been a fair number of mea culpas from more honest members of the press, confessing they missed the year's biggest electoral trend--the disaffected, working class voter--and didn't do much to look for it.  To be fair, there were exceptions; Salena Zito of the New York Post drove more than 70,000 miles across battleground states and spoke with hundreds of residents who were angry and fed up with politics as usual.  Back in August, she offered growing evidence of a rising Trump tide in places that usually go Democrat:

"..In interview after interview in all corners of the state, I’ve found that Trump’s support across the ideological spectrum remains strong. Democrats, Republicans, independents, people who have not voted in presidential elections for years — they have not wavered in their support.

Two components of these voters’ answers and profiles remain consistent: They are middle-class and they do not live in a big city. They are suburban to rural and are not poor — an element I found fascinating, until a Gallup survey last week confirmed that what I’ve gathered in interviews is more than just freakishly anecdotal.


The study backs up what many of my interviews across the state have found — that these people are more concerned about their children and grandchildren.

While Trump supporters here are overwhelmingly white, their support has little to do with race (yes, you’ll always find one or two who make race the issue), but has a lot to do with a perceived loss of power.

Not power in the way that Washington or Wall Street boardrooms view power, but power in the sense that these people see a diminishing respect for them and their ways of life, their work ethic, their tendency to not be mobile. (Many live in the same eight square miles that their father’s father’s father lived in.)

Thirty years ago, such people determined the country’s standards in entertainment, music, food, clothing, politics, personal values. Today, they are the people who are accused of creating every social injustice imaginable; when anything in society fails, they get blamed.

Ms. Zito will testify that evidence of these trends was abundant and readily observable.  So, why did so much of the media miss it?  For starters, there's the inconvenient fact that virtually all of the national media was in the tank for Hillary.  Remember this little happy snap from inside her campaign plane a few weeks ago?  



Take a look; you may see some familiar faces, including NBC's Andrea Mitchell on the right.  Most of the reporters are wearing looks of absolute adulation, affirming that Secretary Clinton was, indeed, their candidate.  There were also surveys indicating that 86% of donations from reporters (and other members of the media) went to Democrat.  It's more difficult to provide fair and honest coverage when you're already invested in one particular party.   

The other problem stems from the media "bubble" that envelops the press contingent on the campaign plane. Many grew up aspiring to be one of the boys or girls on the bus, and having achieved that goal, they don't want to give it up such a plum assignment.  So, they travel with the candidate from one stop to another, fed a constant diet of leaks, press releases and statements from the campaign.  They arrive at the event site, gather their information, then it's on to the next stop.  There is often minimal contact with the ordinary folks who show up to the candidate, though many reporters expressed "concern" after some Trump supporters yelled crude comments at members of the press, accusing them of being unfair (among other things).  There wasn't much effort--at least, until after the election--to find out why those average Americans were also mad at the media.  

Our guess is the introspection won't last very long.  The media elites who live and work in places like New York, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles really don't have much appetite for dealing with the common folk, who are contemptuously viewed as Bible-thumping, ignorant hayseeds or worse.  Much better to retreat to the comfortable suburbs that surround their urban bubble and start focusing on what a hash Donald Trump will make of things, and tell voters their 2016 insurrection was a mistake.  After all, the folks who anchor and appear on cable news shows or write for Politico are so much smarter than the rest of us, and those rubes in Jesusland will never learn.  

Just one more sign of how divided this country is between the elites and everyone else.  And why members of the chattering class may have been the biggest losers on Tuesday.