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Ford-ing the Gap

Between liberal charities and their critics. On RET's reading list. Mimi's poetic stylings. Plus more.

6.15.09

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FORD THE RECORD
Re: Neal B. Freeman's Jeez Luis -- Part Deux:

We laughed off Neal B. Freeman's light-hearted first commentary on the Ford Foundation as good intramural fun. He broke no new ground in asserting that the foundation is progressive in its mission and grantmaking; we always have been and we will proudly remain so. His second commentary, however, requires serious correction.

Mr. Freeman correctly states that we have lost about a third of our endowment over the past 18 months.  This economic reality has forced us -- like so many other organizations -- to make very hard decisions.

But he gets it wrong when he claims that our approach runs counter to our values. We first made every effort to avoid impacting staff, shaving $22 million from our expenses in 2008. When our portfolio lost another $2 billion this year, we had no choice but to look for further savings in order to preserve our support to grantees. 

That meant making reductions we could sustain over time. With great regret, we closed two of our regional offices. These closures affected senior management, program staff, and support staff equally. We also froze salaries for all staff around the world, adjusted benefits considerably, and laid off staff in every one of our regional offices.

In New York, we tried to obviate the need for lay-offs by offering generous voluntary packages to a broad cross-section of staff, including a number of managers and supervisors. The packages were offered according to one criterion alone: Whether the position fell within an area where the foundation could envision more efficient ways of working. Though the process has been painful, it has been thoughtful, fair, and tuned to the long-term health of the foundation.

What we have refused to do is compromise our ability to make grants and support grantees, all of whom face even tougher circumstances than we do. The measures we have taken have preserved our grantmaking capacity and budgets, and every dollar saved has gone directly to our grantees.

Finally, regarding our trustees, Mr. Freeman might think about expanding the circles in which he associates. Among them are indeed Fortune 500 executives, university presidents, and leaders of national nonprofit institutions. The diversity of experience and excellence they bring to our board is a reflection of our best traditions of leadership and, like their predecessors, they recognize there are few other institutions that so thoroughly attempt to live up to the values they espouse.
-- Alfred D. Ironside
Director of Communications, Ford Foundation/New York

Neal B. Freeman replies:
It's good to hear from Mr. Ironside, but I'm not sure that he engages any of my central points. First, while he may have felt my commentary was "light-hearted," Ford's low-paid employees are feeling real, life-changing pain as management squeezes them out in mid-recession. Secondly, my information is that only low-paid staffers are being asked to take the hits in the New York office. I will be glad to correct any misimpression I may have created: can Mr. Ironside tell us what if any cuts have been imposed on, say, the ten highest-paid employees? And third, my comments about Ford's Directors were not to suggest that they are not good people, of course, but simply to note that they do not compare in public eminence with their predecessors. That's a fact.

MARION MICHAEL MORRISON?
Re: Larry Thornberry's Remembering the Duke Again:

I agree with Mr. Thornberry's thoughts on the Duke. However I believe he got the original middle name wrong; it should be Marion Michael Morrison unless I'm very much mistaken.
-- Joel Meeker

Larry Thornberry replies:
The subject of the Duke's real name is a bit of a moving target, thanks mostly to the Duke having led on biographers and magazine writers by claiming his middle name was Michael. In fact it never was.
When the Duke was born, to honor both of his grandfathers, the Duke was named Marion Robert Morrison. When the Duke's younger brother came along, he was named Robert Emmett, and Duke's middle name was changed to Mitchell. Robert Mitchell Morrison remained his real name for the duration, with John Wayne a creation of director Raoul Walsh and Fox studio boss Winfield Sheehan when casting the Duke in The Big Trail, in 1930.

Although fans and studio publicity departments always referred to John Wayne, the big guy himself always preferred to be called Duke. By the way, John Wayne wasn't called Duke because it's a tough, masculine-sounding name. He got the nickname when he was 11 years old. The family had a large Airedale named Duke, young Marion's faithful pal and shadow. A group of Glendale firemen, in a station near the Morrison home where young Marion and the dog often visited, started calling the boy "Little Duke," or just "Duke." It stuck. So Marion was shed of a name that he hated, and that had started a fair number of fights when other boys taunted him with it. The name Duke lasted a lifetime.

NO DOG IN THIS FIGHT
Re: The Washington Prowler's Jersey Dogs

It is essential to set the record straight. Not only is the Benenson Strategy Group not polling for Governor Corzine now, the firm, which was founded nine years ago, has never polled for Jon Corzine in either his Senate or Gubernatorial campaigns. Any White House source that provided you with this information is entirely uninformed and is trying to create false impressions about who is or is not involved with Gov. Corzine’s relection efforts.
-- Joel Benenson
Founding Partner
The Benenson Strategy Group  

CAN'T ASSUME RATIONALITY
Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.'s Israeli Settlements:

You and I might assess Israel's predicament rationally, but it would be irrational of us to expect Obama or his supporters to do likewise. The primary reason his speeches are so persuasive is that he knows how to say what people want to hear. His glib assurances are virtually all style with little rational content. They are dangerous because they appeal to many voters who tend to believe only what they want to believe.

This all supports my contention that bad policy is based on emotion and good policy on reason. That argument is repeated throughout my book "Reason, Emotion, and Human Error." It is in your queue, but my intention is not to pester you to deviate from your natural reading order. This will all come together in its own time.
-- William Best
New Whiteland, Indiana

MODERATELY WEAK
Re: Angelo Codevilla's Pro-Mexico (from the June issue) and Jonathan Aitken's Rowan Williams Rebounds:

What the hell? After reading the articles by Codevilla and Aitken in my last issue of TAS, that is my immediate reaction. I found Codevilla's article about embracing Mexican illegals less than thoughtful, as Regnery suggested in his introduction to the issue. I find it difficult to feel guilty about resenting the many depredations caused by the mass of illegals trespassing on the border ranch lands and overburdening our health care system, our social welfare system and our laws. There was no mention of the high percentage of illegals in our prisons, the Mexican gangs and their violence, the costs placed on our hospitals and local governments that far outweigh anything the illegals contribute with their cheap labor. I have to take the statistics put out by studies done by Heritage, et al., over the earnest supplications of Mr. Codevilla. He also neglected any mention of the sorry and enraging spectacle of the demonstrations by illegals demanding their rights while waving the Mexican flag. But not to worry! Pres. Obama is well on his way to solving the problem of illegals trampling our southwest deserts to come and work. He brilliantly has figured out that by destroying our economy and subsequently the job market, the Mexicans will have a much better chance of finding employment in their own hopelessly corrupt and violent homeland. They might as well not bother wearing out their hauraches coming here.

I had simmered down a little after reading Codevilla until I moved on to Aitken. I generally enjoy his "High Spirits" articles but I didn't buy his assertions about what a great and brilliant guy, Archbiship Rowan is. He said he was misquoted in his endorsement of some aspects of sharia law but then negelected to clarify on how this was so. Then he went on to say that he has done a great service by turning the church's concerns from such introverted things as homosexual clergy to the great religious problem and global concerns of environmentalism.  Just at a point when more and more people are waking up from being asleep at the wheel and realizing that the environmentalists are a bunch of lying, hysterical leftist extremists, Aitkin thinks the church should follow these Luddites into the abyss of economic destruction and possibly world starvation if they get their way in destroying the agricultural industry. 

If TAS is going to insert anymore of this "moderate" drivel in what usually is a refuge of brilliance and humor for this conservative/libertarian, please put some kind of warning under the subject line or at the bottom of the first page.
-- Jill Hiller
Valparaiso, Indiana

BAD COMPANY
Re: Quin Hillyer's Lib Leadership and Double Standards:

Expecting Democrats to have moral or intellectual integrity is like asking Barack Hussein Obama to produce his long form birth certificate to prove beyond a doubt he is a native born American -- it just won't happen. One could even compare asking Democrats to have moral and intellectual integrity to asking Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin (proto-Obamas) to stop practicing genocide -- it isn't going to happen. The Democratic Party is a morally and intellectually bankrupt group of self-serving egotists bent on milking the system for all they can get out of it, and the country and its hard working people be damned.
-- Michael Tomlinson
Jacksonville, North Carolina

TJ PREDICTED IT
Re: Jonathan Witt's The Mr. Potato Head Constitution:

An excellent article by Dr. Witt. I seem to recall a Mr. Thomas Jefferson opining the following regarding the effects of the Judiciary on the Constitution as something like this:

"The Constitution, on this hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist, and shape into any form they please."

I suppose we should be surprised and thankful at the two centuries of relative restraint, all things considered. There does seem to be an alarming rate of wax deformation in the last sixty years, however, consistent with this trenchant analysis by the estimable Dr. Witt.
-- Thomas Herring III
Mission Viejo, California

A HILL TO DIE ON

From time immemorial, with full knowledge that defeat was the only foreseeable outcome, people have made pledges and taken stances for what they believe is right. In the military these stands are often called "suicide missions." Sometimes miracles happen and a righteous victory is granted. But even in defeat, honor is persevered.

The Republican senators are now presented with a clear moral and ethical choice: stand down and let Judge Sotomayor be confirmed without opposition or take a stand, no matter how deeply the odds against victory, and let their voices be heard: this is still the land of liberty and a country of laws. The risks of opposition are many, but taking a stand against the tyranny of the majority was one of the core values espoused and lived by our Founding Fathers. Now is not the time to abjectly demure to the Democratic majority. Sotomayor's espoused and well-recorded philosophy make her unfit for the Supreme Court of the United States of America.
If our good senators are unwilling to stand for what is right, then they must be unseated.
-- I.M. Kessel

TIME TO LEAVE THE STAGE

Age is not kind to those who are blind
To the sensitivities of others.
Lampooning rudely,
Getting laughs crudely
Is pathetic, and if we had our druthers,

Having reached this stage, you'd close the page.
Your talent once was sunny.
You've been around overmuch.
You are out of touch.
Mr. Letterman, you are no longer funny.
-- Mimi Evans Winship

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