Currently browsing posts filed under "Mike Needham ’04"

Follow this category via RSS

Dost thou renounce Satan?

The Record Editorial Board writes:

In our June 6 statement “In solidarity with Black Lives Matter,” our editorial board expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement and called on the College, its students and its alumni to make monetary donations. We made a donation as well, giving to three organizations that support grassroots journalism and journalists of color: the Marshall Project, the National Association of Black Journalists and Unicorn Riot.

But as the board met over Zoom to belatedly discuss these issues, it became clear that we, the Record, along with many predominantly-white journalistic organizations, need to hold ourselves accountable as well. For far too long, the Record has operated under institutional values, cultures and practices that illustrate that the Record benefits from and perpetuates white supremacy.

1) The current students on the Record have done a better job than any group over the last decade at least. Indeed, they may have published more high quality reporting than all those students put together. If Wokeness helps quality, then more Wokery, please!

2) This is nuts. Don’t you think? If I wrote a parody like this a decade ago, I would be laughed off the internet as an absurd slippery-slope fearing conservative maniac. And yet here we are.

Consider a single specific. The Record claims that its institutional values — values promulgated by people like Mike Needham ’04, Bart Clareman ’05, Ainsley O’Connell ’06 and scores of other students — “perpetuates white supremacy.” Give us some details. Which values, specifically, did Ephs like Needham/Clareman/O’Connell promulgate which helped to perpetuate “white supremacy?” The whole thing is insane.

It would be one thing — still unfair but not actually nuts — to claim that Needham/Clareman/O’Connell failed to live up to their own ideals, failed to be as accurate/thorough/objective as reporters ought to be. We are all sinners in this fallen world. But the Record now argues (really???) that these neutral values are part and parcel of white supremacy.

Should I spend a week Fisking this nonsense or is the whole topic too depressing?


Ephs at the forefront of a new American conservatism

Saw this article come across my email about Ephs Mike Needham and Oren Cass launching a new group called American Compass that aims to “reorient the right.”  As explained in the article:

Running as a populist, [Donald] Trump challenged Republican orthodoxy on free trade and tapped into the disaffection of blue-collar workers in the heartland who have been left behind by the growing, but uneven, economy. For the most part, however, he said conservative elites in the think tank world have not followed suit.  “The goal, long term, is to think about what the post-Trump right-of-center is going to be,” said Cass. “One of the reasons we think this is such an important project is that, even four-plus years after Trump emerged on the scene, there really has been very little new and interesting ferment in the right of center. It’s pretty much the same set of institutions and publications and so forth. … By and large, the establishment is what it was. And it seems to be keeping its head down and sort of hoping that everything can just go back post-Trump to the way that it was pre-Trump. To the extent that the future should sound different, and certainly I think it should, now is the time to start building the institutions and efforts that are going to make that a reality.”

Cass and Needham are not particularly recent grads (’05 and ’04, I believe), but its pretty amazing to me that leading conservative intellectuals have come out of Williams in (relatively) recent years.  Are the next Cass and Needham analogs currently in the Purple Valley?  Perhaps the angst about lack of ideological diversity is somewhat overblown.  I doubt they would have time, but it would be great if one of them would come to Williams and give a talk about their new organization.


Needham ’04 Becomes Rubio’s Chief of Staff

From the New York Times:

As chief executive of the influential conservative think tank Heritage Action for America, Michael Needham waged years of unforgiving political warfare against the Republican Party establishment, deepening the divide between party leaders and grass-roots activists that helped elevate Donald J. Trump to the presidency.

Now Mr. Needham is leaving his job there to become chief of staff for one of the Republican establishment’s favorite sons, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida.

Both are also quite young. Mr. Needham is 36 and Mr. Rubio is 46. And both believe that the Republican Party has not done enough to rethink its animating ideas and appeal to voters at a time when Mr. Trump remains woefully unpopular with younger Americans.

“Any fair-minded observer of the last several years would say conservatives have work to do in order to assure our principles remain relevant,” Mr. Needham said in an interview. “There was truth in candidate Trump’s declaration that this is the Republican Party, not the Conservative Party. Our challenge as conservatives is to build a movement that inspires a majority coalition of Americans.”

But beyond their shared views on the party’s need to have a better 20-year plan, the two have taken very distinct approaches to leadership. Mr. Needham has been a leading practitioner of the uncompromising, scorched-earth style of political combat that was a trademark of Tea Party-inspired politicians and activists. He frequently clashed with the Republican leadership in Congress and challenged it to drive a harder bargain on issues like defunding the Affordable Care Act, which led to a two-week government shutdown in 2013 that most Republicans came to see as ill advised.

Mr. Needham and Mr. Rubio have often had very different things to say about Mr. Trump. Given his anti-establishment sensibilities, Mr. Needham has largely lauded the president’s agenda of low taxes and a hard-line posture toward China. He has praised Mr. Trump for helping the Republican Party forge a stronger bond with Americans who feel socially and economically disconnected and who are eager to shine a light on the corruption and cronyism they believe is rampant in Washington.

Needham has also been an eloquent defender of the Trump position — or at least the Trump campaign rhetoric — on immigration. If only Nixon could go to China, perhaps only Rubio can lead the Republican Party to the promised land of serious immigration restrictions . . .


Very Fine People

Not all Ephs were impressed with President Trump’s press conference.



I also disliked parts of the press conference. (Steve Bannon is definitely a very fine person!)

What did you think?


Needham ’04 Leads Coup at Heritage Foundation

From The Atlantic:

The drama over the removal of the president of the Heritage Foundation, Jim DeMint, is partly classic Washington power politics. But it also reflects tensions over the organization’s relationship with the Trump administration and with Trumpist ideology.

DeMint, the former South Carolina senator who has led the conservative institution since 2013, was ousted on Tuesday after a meeting of Heritage’s board, which voted unanimously to remove him. News of DeMint’s likely imminent departure was first reported by Politico last week.

Needham_Mike_TDS_loThe driving force behind DeMint’s ouster, according to multiple sources close to the organization, was Mike Needham, the CEO of Heritage Action for America, the organization’s political arm. Needham, these sources say, made a power play to push DeMint out, and is appealing to both pro- and anti-Trump elements to accomplish it.

“Needham has been laying the groundwork for this for two years,” said a source close to Heritage. “He’s been badmouthing DeMint to board members for a long time. He’s got his sights set on taking over the whole thing eventually.” According to a senior Republican congressional aide, Needham has been “trashing” DeMint to board members and saying that people in the White House and Congress prefer to deal with him rather than DeMint.

Multiple people close to the situation called DeMint’s ouster a “coup,” and said the driving force behind it was not philosophical but old-fashioned ambition and power politics. “This is an old-as-time story,” said one source.

Several people familiar with Needham’s jockeying said he has successfully exploited the growing philosophical tensions on the American right—and, specifically, on the board of Heritage—to get his way.

To the Trump-averse elements on the board, Needham has pointed to DeMint’s growing coziness with the new administration as evidence that the think tank, a beacon of movement conservatism, needs a new steward. At the same time, Needham has been telling pro-Trump board members like Rebekah Mercer that Heritage needs a leader who will follow the president’s lead—even going so far as to float White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, a key Mercer ally, as a potential future president, according to one source.

As always, we wish Ephs success in their chosen fields. Needham, obviously, seeks to increase his stature/power in Washington politics. Do our readers have any advice? My guess is that Needham is positioning himself as a future White House chief of staff. Other options?



Mike Needham ’04 on the rise of Trump:

So I think for the electorate right now, there are issues that they think about in their lives, and there’s issues that politicians in Washington actually govern on. People at home are worried about: Will I have a job in a couple of years? Why are my wages stagnant? How am I going to afford to pay my mortgage? Why has the price of ground beef gone from $2 a pound to $4 a pound? And people in Washington, D.C., move legislation to reauthorize the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program, to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, every year to go through and kind of do a Kabuki theater over tax extenders. We currently are in the midst of a fight as to whether or not you can call catfish that comes from Vietnam “catfish.” So there’s a disconnect between what people care about and what Washington, D.C., moves on, and that makes people upset. So that’s a problem that Washington, D.C., has with its voters and the Republican Party has with its voters.

I think you then have a mind-set problem where people feel like we are losing our country.

Exactly right. How might Trump (or Clinton?) capture that demographic, reach out to them in a way that might (might!) help to undo some of the destruction of the last few months/years? EphBlog recommends a new slogan/hashtag:


This is, obviously, a take off of #blacklivesmatter. Regardless of your views on the righteousness (or not) of the BLM argument, at least 75% of Americans would like to move beyond it, after the BLM-inspired tragedies of Dallas and Baton Rouge. The easiest way to do that is not with the neo-reactionary #whitelivesmatter or the traditional #bluelivesmatter but, instead, with a slogan that unites all of these while, at the same time, proving the (sadly) necessary other for people to unify against. The most natural such grouping, in the context of a US Presidential election, is Americans. Hence: #AmericanLivesMatter.

Although Trump is the most natural proponent of such a slogan, Hillary Clinton is due for a Sister Souljah moment and could (easily?) pivot to ALM from BLM at the Democratic Convention. Perhaps presidential speech writer Jon Lovett ’04 knows someone in the Hillary campaign?

Or perhaps #AmericansMatter would be better. Or #AmericaMatters. These shift the focus away from an implicit repudiation of the BLM movement while still using the key word americans/america. Readers should feel free to chime in! What slogan/hashtag is most likely to win the presidential election for the candidate who first embraces it?

Needham continues:

The Muslim ban is a kind of race-to-the-bottom solution to a real problem that it is insane to suggest letting in thousands of un-vetted Syrian refugees at this time, and that there’s a lack of a statesman-like policy proposal that either brings people together or, at the very least, makes sure every part of the party feels like it’s occasionally getting its due. And that creates anger, and I think Trump has found those policy issues that allow him to challenge.

Mostly right. The real issue is that 75% (?) of the American people think that the US should not allow further immigration from countries like Syria/Afghanistan/Somalia/etc. Call them crazy! Unfortunately, no Democratic candidate and no non-Trump Republican candidate supported that view. And that led us, sadly, to Trump. Why? Because #AmericanLivesMatter.


Needham ’04 Religious Liberty

Great article from Mike Needham ’04:

It is worth recalling that, back in 1997, Andrew Sullivan insisted that, “whatever your assumptions about liberal judges, the right to marry and the right to adopt are logically, politically, and legally separate issues.” Even if he sincerely believed that almost twenty years ago, he nevertheless has proved to be quite wrong. The underlying false principles on which the judicial redefinition of marriage depends—that objections to redefinition are irrational unless rooted in animus—dictate what occurred in the first state to legalize same-sex marriage: the expulsion of the Catholic Church from the adoption business in Massachusetts.

This battle is coming soon to communities all across America. Churchgoers are asking themselves if their wedding halls will be forced by the government to host same-sex weddings and receptions. School administrators are re-evaluating curricula out of concern for their tax-exempt status. Purveyors of wedding services who see their businesses as extensions of their church communities are now questioning their choice of vocation. This is not the America our founders passed down to us. Who can fail to notice the irony that to lose this struggle is to spite the spirits of those who crossed the ocean to found this society, and whose lived beliefs infused it with the virtues that have allowed America to become, on balance, both good and great?

Social conservatives knew years ago that the redefinition of marriage would be the first of several dominoes to fall. But they must not now concede total defeat because they have lost on one question before the Supreme Court. The nation remains divided on marriage, and the Left seeks to force on all the views held by some. It is still within the power of social conservatives to repair our pluralistic fabric by embracing a true diversity of opinion on this important issue and protecting those whose views have fallen out of favor in elite circles. That can happen, however, only if political leaders are willing to take on this debate. Evidently, we the people nowadays must force this task on them.

Indeed. Read the whole thing.


Real Reform Mandate

Mike Needham ’04 writes about the past and future of the Republican Party.

From the perspective of the conservative grassroots and affiliated organizations, however, the friction of the last several years has been anything but pointless. It is a result of deep and irreconcilable disagreements between activist reformers and the Washington establishment over both the means conservatives should employ and the ends they should pursue. At its core, it is a dispute over how much the center-right should aim to disrupt the political status quo. Those eager to shake up the stale agenda of the Republican Party do their cause no service by standing on the sidelines or opposing the Tea Party’s efforts; in this fight, reformers of all stripes must hope the Tea Party wins.

EphBlog agrees! Read the whole thing.


Terrorizing Republicans

From the Washington Post:

Before Donald Trump began terrorizing the Republican establishment, there was Michael Needham.

The 35-year-old conservative prodigy has spent six years instilling panic in Washington Republicans as head of Heritage Action for America. But instead of pitching himself as the solution to D.C.’s problems, Needham conducts his own slash-and-burn campaign to rid Congress of policies and players he sees as insufficiently conservative — many of them fellow Republicans.

Read the whole thing! Longtime readers will recall that Mike, besides being editor-in-chief of the Record, as an early EphBlogger. Do you want to appear in the Washington Post in 15 years? Join EphBlog today!

Needham, a native New Yorker who has never worked on Capitol Hill, is unapologetic about leading one of Washington’s most feared advocacy groups.

“The anger [from voters] comes from a place that is profoundly right,” Needham said in an interview, referring to Trump’s political success. “I think we [Heritage Action] have landed exactly where the mood of the electorate is. I think that is why politicians are channeling our message. A Trump election or nomination is a complete vindication that Washington needs to change.”

Washington Republicans might panic at the thought of a Trump presidency, but Needham says he does not. He believes that underneath the bluster, the businessman is malleable on specifics — specifics that Needham and his team could provide.

Could Needham end up as Chief of Staff in a Trump Administration? We can only hope so!

Retired Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio), chairman and CEO of the centrist Republican Main Street Partnership, called the group’s tactics “destructive.”

“They lost me when they began shooting inside the tent,” said LaTourette, another friend of Boehner’s. “Their targets stopped being liberals and people who were trying to take the country to the left, and their fire was aimed at people who they judged as not conservative enough.”

LaTourette added: “Those ‘key votes’ make people nervous, because when you make a conscious decision to go against them, you guarantee yourself a primary election.”

Heritage Action was born with fangs out.

Just like EphBlog!


Needham ’04 on Boehner

Mike Needham ’04 is glad that Speaker Boehner is stepping down.

Those within Speaker Boehner’s tight-knit circle will point to the “accomplishments” of the past nine months as reasons why he’ll be missed. But take a look what the House has done this year and it’s not hard to understand conservatives’ frustrations with the Speaker’s leadership: a permanent “doc fix” that increases Medicare spending over the next two decades by $500 billion and took crucial leverage for Medicare reform off the table forever; a House-passed reauthorization of No Child Left Behind despite the objections of conservatives advocating reforms to eliminate Department of Education mandates. Not a single Republican ran on these priorities in 2014, yet aside from small-ball bills addressing business community concerns like authorization of the Keystone XL pipeline, they’ve been the central pillars of the Republican agenda.

But it could have been worse. Despite his best efforts, the Speaker wasn’t able to roll conservatives on some of his biggest priorities. For years, he hoped to cut a “grand bargain,” trading spending cuts for hundreds of billions of dollars in tax increases. Conservatives would not let him, and pressure from the grassroots forced the House instead to work toward the 2011 Budget Control Act, a package of cuts-only reforms that the Speaker has only tried to undermine ever since. And on comprehensive immigration reform—code-talk for amnesty—the Speaker never hid his views: “I think a comprehensive approach is long overdue. And I’m confident that the president, myself, others can find the common ground.” As recently as last September, Speaker Boehner told Hugh Hewitt that he was trying to “create an environment where you could do immigration reform in a responsible way next year.” It’s taken years of dedicated opposition by conservatives to prevent the Speaker’s push for amnesty from coming to fruition.

If you want to increase the income of the bottom 20% of current US citizens, the most important public policy is a decrease in unskilled immigration, both legal and illegal.


Reform Agenda

Speaking of former Record editors-in-chief, here is Mike Needham ’04 with a reform agenda for Congress.

But the failure of the president’s agenda is a consequence of progressives’ intellectual bankruptcy, not evidence we cannot solve our problems. Republicans can tackle these challenges head-on this Congress, and in so doing unite both their party and the country.

There’s no lack of ideas in the House Republican conference for leaders to pick from to address the concerns of the Americans left behind by the Obama recovery. Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.), for example, has introduced the RAISE Act, which would raise the wage ceiling union contracts have imposed on 8 million Americans. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) has an exciting agenda for housing and financial services reform. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) has proposed the HERO Act, which would go a long way toward driving higher education innovation while curbing costs to students. And the congressional reconciliation process provides Congress with the opportunity to repeal Obamacare, then work in an orderly fashion to replace it with a patient-centered alternative.

Who doesn’t think “exciting agenda” when they read “housing and financial services reform?”

I kid, I kid.

If Needham is one of the most energetic Eph voices on the right, who is an Eph counterpart on the left?


Marginally Happier

Are you a CC member interested in parking? Former Record editor-in-chief Mike Needham ’04 has news for you.

My sister brought a copy of the Williams Record home which I was perusing for old times’ sake. There is a cartoon in the 1/16 issue indicating that no students are allowed in the parking garage. This was continually an issue during our tenure as editors of the Record, where the College would forbid students from parking in the lot — even though dozens of spots could be given to students — out of a sheer unwillingness to take the 15 minutes necessary to crunch numbers.

The following articles should bring you up to speed: Record discovers College can give parking spots to students. Editorial making this point more explicitly (a damn good one, at that). College reverses policy based on Record analysis.

My favorite part of being Record editor was the opportunity to really dig into issues like this, the placement of the turf field, whether the snack bar was unnecessarily charging students tax, etc. where we could have a real role — either in large ways or small — in changing Williams policy which was wrong (almost always because of lack of attention or easily giving in to a specific interest at the expense of the whole… rarely out of malice).

My bet is that if CC or the Record really looked into the parking garage right now, they would find spots that students could park in. And that would mean that 49 students currently parked at THompson lot would get to keep their car right outside their house in Greylock, which means 49 students in Lower Poker get to move up to Thompson, and 49 students at Taconic move to Lower Poker, and 49 students without parking for a car get to bring one on campus. And, voila, just a few hours of questioning things that don’t make sense means 10% of the college is marginally happier. If you want to get in to the weeds on this story, Jeff Nelson and Bart Claremen did all the reporting.

Perhaps the new leadership at CC and the Record should look into this.


Currently browsing posts filed under "Mike Needham ’04"

Follow this category via RSS