Friday, February 6, 2015 - Volume 6, Number 1

© Copyright 2015, The Ultrapolis Project.  All Rights Reserved.

The State of the New Republic – and UWFR

Collapse Leads to “Worst Gay Power Couple” Named by the Daily Beast


·         The State of Bipartisanship & the Republican Variable

·         The State of 2016: Warren, Clinton, Christie, Ryan, et Al

·         Cartoons: The State of Delusion; Obama Offensive; Progressives on Vaccines; GOP Vaccine View







The State of the

New Republic

The Future State of an

Old Faith


The Fall of a Friend


Welcome to UWFR Volume 6.


We begin this new year’s series with a reminder to our longtime readers, and explanation to our new, of what UWFR is, and what you should expect from these pages, if you decide to spend any of your precious, finite time on earth on them.  Then, we will repay your forbearance with a few words about what is coming in 2016.


But, first we shall tell you of an old friend who has fallen on very hard times.


At the end of 2014, we learned of the collapse of a journalistic enterprise we had long viewed as a friend.  For those of us who spend a lot of time reading about current affairs, a publication that places the value of its content above the more immediate demands for immediacy or ‘viralness’, and openly stakes its worldview while it yet strives for intellectual honesty and fairness, is a friend indeed.  And, these kinds of friends are getting harder to find in this age of blogs, hits, ‘likes’, ‘followers’, ‘re-tweets’, and polarization.


The New Republic has been such a friend,  though perhaps we should also admit it had become a more distant one in recent years.  Still, to read of the abrupt, en masse departure of two-thirds of its writers and contributors, some whom we had followed for decades (as one followed before Facebook and Twitter), was a bit like reading about an old friend falling deathly ill.  And this was particularly disconcerting after witnessing the slow degradation or death of so many other friends.


The New Digital Vertical


Publications that once insisted their words be arranged in such a way as to communicate not just facts with accuracy, but also ideas with honesty, careful to show respect for the maturity of their readers-- these now are fading away.  One by one, they are being replaced, we are told, by “vertically-integrated digital companies”.   Whatever these replacements are called, we recognize them here by their ‘bait-and-click’ headlines, their ever-coarser language, their hyperbolic accusations, their growing cheekiness, and their expanding dearth of talent over age thirty (let alone forty, or fifty).   Nothing like a group of nothing but recent, 23-year-old graduates to tell us what the world is really like.


Even in the airwaves, the serious and venerable National Public Radio sometimes seems overrun with scratchy, high-pitched voices that one swears must be straight out of high school.  But, we digress.


Heyday of a Faith


We came to know the New Republic in its heydays of the 1980’s, when the magazine was considered a ‘must read’ by political elites of both major parties, including those at the White House, and as it advanced a muscular liberalism that artfully and brilliantly challenged orthodoxies and rigid ideologies from any band of the political spectrum.


Of the dozen or so news and commentary publications that we have regularly tracked for the last 30 years from the left, right, and libertarian ends, TNR was our favorite.


Some of our readers may find that odd, given UWFR’s own general leanings.  And it is true that we have generally disagreed with many of TNR’s liberal-progressive positions.  But, for many years TNR was a rare place where one could read liberal-leaning polemics that resonated with moral reasoning and inarguable logic that honestly challenged some of the premises of an ascendant conservatism in the United States, while also holding the stupidity and excesses of the far left to account.


In it’s first issue, published on November 7, 1914, the new editors began a century of words with these:


The New Republic is frankly an experiment. It is an attempt to find [a] national audience for a journal of interpretation and opinion. Many people believe that such a journal is out of place in America; that if a periodical is to be popular it must first of all be entertaining, or that if it is to be serious, it must be detached and select. Yet when the plan of the New Republic was being discussed it received spontaneous welcome from people in all parts of the country. They differed in theories and programmes [sic]; but they agreed that if the New Republic could bring sufficient enlightenment to the problems of the nation and sufficient sympathy to its complexities, it would serve all those who feel the challenge of our time. On the conviction that this is possible The New Republic is founded.  Its success inevitably depends on public support, but if we are unable to achieve that success under the conditions essential to sound and disinterested thinking, we shall discontinue our experiment and make way for better men. Meanwhile, we set out with faith. 


We cannot say if their faith was rewarded as they planned or expected, but seventy years later, ours was.


At First Slowly, Then in a Crash

100 Years Come to a Halt


We did find in more recent years that the publication had taken an ideologically stiffer turn to the left (following a national trend towards ideological rigidity that has afflicted all political corners, and on which we have commented frequently; and not unlike what we have witnessed even in some of our own personal friends over the years).   In our view, in that turn it lost some of its former critical sensibility and the exciting unpredictability of its pages that went with it.  It may be the reason why it has lost almost half its paid subscribers since 2000.  Still, it remained a liberal-progressive publication we could look forward to reading with interest: still helping us find the kinks in our own arguments and ideas, and alerting us where we might want to think anew.


Now, its hapless, insouciant owner, Facebook near-billionaire Chris Hughes, has clumsily shattered the journal founded by Walter Lippmann, doing so just 30 days after its centennial anniversary, and a mere two weeks after a gala event keynoted by former President Bill Clinton celebrated TNR’s 100-year milestone.  The disaster is seen as so egregious, it, along with a humiliating electoral defeat of his husband, led to Mr. Hughes and his husband being called “America’s worst gay power couple” in a story headline in The Daily Beast.


We have sympathy here for Mr. Hughes’ position.  We do not doubt the sincerity of his motives.  He is simply a casualty of the same phenomenon that afflicts our own nation’s president.  Both rose to the world’s highest pinnacles of power and fame in a very short time, and with comparatively little effort.  As a result, both don’t seem to know how to deal with the world as it really is.  The Achilles’ heel of all inexperienced ideologues is their notion of the power of their good intentions.  They do not understand that before you can remake the world, you must first deal with it as it is.


Shortly after the mass exodus of talent at TNR, which came in protest to Mr. Hughes’ announced new direction for TNR and his unceremonious firing of its editor, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg announced publicly her cancellation of her subscription.  So total was the evaporation of available talent at TNR, it could not produce it’s next edition due in December.  A spokesperson for TNR announced the journal will resume print publication in February.  The blog-like website remains active.


TNR provoked us into thinking harder about the world; about what should be the purpose of every philosophy and ideology advanced by any moral, thinking being.  And even on those frequent occasions when we thought TNR’s authors were mistaken in their criticism of a particular political figure or cause, or on the more rare ones when we thought they were being downright unfair, we never lost faith in that ship’s set course to advance the public discourse necessary to advance the progress of our nation - and no less of our human race. 


Continued column 2 >



Ultrapolis World Forecast & Review

Ultrapolis Project – ultrapolisproject.com



Editor: Marco Antonio Roberts

Copy Editor: Michael Alberts

Contributing Editors:

Mark Eastman

Mark Steele






Our forecast record cannot be beat.  One can follow the herd chasing the latest hyperbolic, melodramatic, and soon-forgotten micro-trend, or one can be wisely and judiciously in front of it with UWFR. 



Forecasts on Track: New signs that UWFR forecasts on the 2016 prospects for U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are bearing out.  Column in the Wall Street Journal published Monday, January 26, 2015.





< From column 1


A New Experiment


So, we have now already told you a little of what we are about here.   Though we are a much smaller enterprise, have a different ideological leaning, not to mention a completely different format and focus, in UWFR’s core there is a bit of TNR.  We too are an experiment; we too believe in the critical and moral examination of ideas that may bring enlightenment to the problems of the nation, and sufficient sympathy to its complexities, that they may serve all those who feel the challenge of our time; And, we too have set out with faith.


We will take advantage of some of the technology of our time.  We will use our Twitter account to post brief forecasts that cannot await the next publication (had we been diligent with that, we would have had our Romney forecast posted before we were surprised by its sudden staleness).   And we will continue efforts to expand our reach with targeted ads.  But well researched and carefully considered full essays will remain the core of UWFR.  Readers who click on our ads will have to decide to stay based solely on our content.  We began our first Twitter ad campaign last year.  Because it has netted us 100 new readers per month, we will continue with those ads.


The avalanche of blogs, posts, and on-the-spot instant online comments and analysis are, by definition, not well researched and carefully considered.   They can’t be.  And, we bet most are forgotten within minutes, though any time you spent on them you will not get back.  Our writing here will continue to aim to stand the test of time, not the test of notoriety.  We invite new readers to peruse some of our past issues.  We think you will find all still relevant at many levels.  We are on the hunt for readers who value that kind of writing, and who value their time.


Of Objective Forecasts and

Ideological Ships


Our forecasts will continue to be a central element of UWFR.  Anybody can safely opine about the future, because few remember what they said. Do you remember all the conservatives that predicted a 2012 win for Mitt Romney, and all the liberal-progressives that said the government shutdown of 2013 would damage the Republicans in 2014? (We got both right).  We issue forecasts to test the soundness of our views and arguments, not to rally any side.  The new Forecast Tracking Chart we launched last year at readers’ suggestions will help readers hold us to account. We also hope it will demonstrate the strength of our forecast record, which in turn should provide evidence of our objectivity and critical analytical capabilities.


We referred to TNR as a ship.  We did so because one of our highly esteemed readers referred to our little enterprise here as a “great ship” when offering some honest criticisms (Reader’s Comments in UWFR, November 27, 2013).  Great or not, we have set sail for the course first laid out by TNR 100 years ago.  Of course, we may tack to the right.  But, no one should misinterpret that.  For while our mast may bear an unflinching and unapologetic starboard tilt, we also carry a portside anchor which we shall deploy without hesitation at the first sign of ideologically extreme or incoherent waters.


Ideological principles are useful.  They help us chart a course, to map a way to address the political and social problems of the day that must be confronted.  But they are not laws from the hand of God.  They are man-made contraptions.  Here we think it ideologically prideful and foolishly stubborn to stick with a course when the evidence is all around you that you are headed towards an encounter with a jagged iceberg or a craggy shore.


A Higher Creed


In the final account, why should we care if an answer is called conservative, liberal-progressive, or libertarian?  Shouldn’t we care more that, however imperfectly, it advance the human condition for as many as possible; and that it do so within a framework that balances a respect for individual human freedom against an equally important call to moral responsibility?   That, at least for us, is a directive that more plausibly comes from the hand of the Creator mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, than does any strict adherence to a party banner or ideological creed.


That is the faith under which we have set sail, and under which we will continue, as we are able, to deliver these pages to you.




December came and went for the first time in our adult memory without a visit from our old friend.  Still, we are keeping our subscription to TNR.  But, even if we find that the New Republic we knew is gone for good, we will continue to keep vigil for an old faith to see a new day.


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The State of


The Republican Variable


Tuesday, January 20, President Barak Obama delivered his sixth State of the Union address.  We took the occasion to glance back at our last year’s review on his fifth such address, and noted how similar the two addresses were in tone, and how unchanged are the President’s expressed ideas of what he wants to achieve in what is left of his time in office.


So much of what we said last time, in our UWFR issue of Feb 10, 2014, still applies. We see no point to repeat it all.


Meanwhile, in the same night, and the same week, the Republicans displayed some of the lack of discipline that has on many occasions led them to be out-maneuvered by President Obama, when by all accounts, he should be dead in the water.


Obama Stays Course


The President showed himself again an able speaker, if only his words carried more credibility.  No doubt, even some allies must have been a bit startled by the President’s glowing description of his foreign policy successes.  Of course, anyone who only gets his or her news from the Huffington Post or MSNBC can be forgiven for not knowing any better.  On the other hand, even viewers of more serious venues such as PBS and NPR would know better. (Anyone see the devastating critique of the Obama administration in Frontline’s documentary “The Rise of ISIS”, featuring the administration’s own top former officials as chief witnesses?)  Yet, President Obama remained undaunted by the electoral beating his party received at the polls just a little over two months before.  In the wake of his 2012 re-election, we said this about President Obama:


President Obama is no Jimmy Carter.  True, Mr. Obama is often too slow, methodical and tentative in hot situations, a complaint we and others have made before.  But that should not be confused with trepidation on his part.  The president, when settled on a path, will have his way and give no quarter to any and all who oppose him.


No change here, or to any other forecast we have made up to this point regarding what is left of his presidency regarding his style (unyielding), and his effectiveness (ephemeral).


The President said words that sounded like a call to rise above crude partisanship, yet before, after, and in between those words were others that offered no concessions of any kind to the opposing party.  It was a bit like someone saying, “If you are willing to stop being such a jackass, and would agree with everything I say, we can work together.” 


Continued column 3 >

< From column 2


A Poke in the Eye

As Arm Outstretched


In his calls to common ground, that ground was almost entirely on his side of the fence, and on his terms:


We still may not agree on a woman's right to choose, but surely we can agree it's a good thing that teen pregnancies and abortions are nearing all-time lows, and that every woman should have access to the health care she needs.


Yes, passions still fly on immigration, but surely we can all see something of ourselves in the striving young student, and agree that no one benefits when a hardworking mom is taken from her child, and that it's possible to shape a law that upholds our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.


Notice how he could not resist putting the abortion issue on the terms that define the opposing side as “anti-choice” and denying a “woman’s right”.  In his shoes, had we been truly reaching for common ground, knowing full well the opposing side sees the issue as a matter of being “pro-life”, we might have said:

We still may not agree on the difficult question of abortion, but surely we can…


Secondly, he only listed examples of where conservatives might be goaded to concede his point.  In this case, be it giving every woman access to “the health care she needs” (presumably as defined by him in terms of free birth control and ‘reproductive’ services), or making sure no undocumented “hardworking mom is taken from her child”.  We did not hear anything like:


Yes, passions still fly on immigration, but surely we can all agree that no legal preferential treatment should be extended to foreign citizens who deliberately violated our laws over those who are patiently waiting in lines at American embassies around the world.


Or maybe just:


Yes, passions still fly on immigration, but rest assured we all do agree that we cannot reward law breaking, and that border security cannot be ignored.


A Bumpy Party


There was no concession anywhere to anything important to the Republicans fresh from an election victory.  There is no question, then, as to whether the President has changed his approach.  He hasn’t.  The question is: will the Republicans once again be provoked into recklessly charging like an angry bull?  Here is where we expect it will get interesting, as the early signs are mixed.


On the one hand, the Republicans once again showed their lack of discipline during the President’s speech by audibly cheering when the President said, “I have no more campaigns to run.”  This was juvenile, ungracious, and completely inappropriate behavior.  It deservedly earned the President’s quick-witted, razor sharp retort, “I know, ‘cause I won both of them.”  (We think the President would have come off better had he smiled when he said it, instead of allowing a glimpse of his understandable annoyance).


Another disturbing sign was the invitation the Republicans extended to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to come to the United States and address Congress, without consulting or coordinating with the branch of government that is more properly in charge of handling relations with foreign heads of state.  Given the poor state of relations between the Obama administration and the Israeli leader, the speech is not likely to back current U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.  As much as we oppose the administration’s current policy, we believe this an ill-advised and even potentially dangerous and politically destabilizing precedent.  We do not need legislators inviting foreign leaders to undermine our own.


On the other hand, the formal Republican response to the President’s State of the Union address, delivered succinctly by newly elected Iowa U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, smartly held back its fire, completely avoiding any frontal attack on the President’s remarks, focusing totally on a positive (if extremely vague) agenda.  Setting aside their slightly awkward cheerfulness, Ms. Ernst’s remarks were an unusual sign of Republican discipline, and a wise decision not to go for the red cape Mr. Obama keeps waving in front of the GOP.


In short, the variable in how developments unfold in the next few months is with the Republicans.  We think Republican party unity and discipline will be unsteady.  To borrow an over-used phrase in the next few months in the GOP-led Congress, “it’s going to be a bumpy ride”.

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The State of 2016

Warren vs. Clinton

Ryan vs. Et Al


We have already made our first 2016 forecasts for Secretary Hillary Clinton, Massachusetts U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan, and Governor Chris Christie (you can now refer to our new Forecast Tracking Chart to find most of them).  And already, our forecasts on three of them have moved closer to fruition, even though they all contravened widespread conventional wisdom at the time they were made.  As predicted in 2013, Clinton’s and Christie’s 2016 stars are now falling; while, as predicted in 2014, Warren’s is now rising (also contrary to many comments we received in response to or initial forecast on Ms. Warren – see photo above).  The Ryan picture is a bit more complicated.


Back in our October 12, 2012 issue, Mr. Ryan was noted by us a winning future candidate beyond 2012. In our Twitter service, in a post dated October 27, 2014, we forecast Mr. Ryan as one of two leading candidates in 2016.  We got a lot of disagreement on that one as well, with astute readers pointing out that House representatives do not typically win presidential nominations – and this is true.  And we still forecast so even though Mr. Ryan had already said he would not run if former Utah Governor Mitt Romney ran again.  We simply never considered a 3rd Romney candidacy viable, and we considered that Mr. Ryan must have known that.  So, while we were not surprised when Mr. Romney withdrew last week from the race, we were surprised that Mr. Ryan did so two weeks earlier, Romney or no.  Sure, he made noises about not running in 2016, and all the folks close to him said he would not do so, but we dismissed that just as we dismissed his Romney caveat. 


What to make of this apparent, yet incongruous blot on our mostly spotless record?  Could we possibly have gotten Paul Ryan wrong?  Sure, we could say that it is one thing to forecast mass trends and another to forecast an individual mind  - and we would be right to say so.  Yet, we instead choose to keep this forecast open, with a draft-Ryan campaign in mind as a possibility. Nevertheless, we admit that at this time this forecast appears to be off the rails.


We now add a new forecast on five other likely 2016 candidates: 1) former Florida Governor Jeb Bush may be a big name, and that will help him for awhile, but he will be among those who will do worse than expected; 2) Kentucky U.S. Senator Rand Paul may also shine for awhile with his eloquence and his appeal to libertarian Republicans, but in the end, will not be viable at the top of the ticket; 3) former Texas Governor Rick Perry will fail as much as we forecast the last time, except that this time the failure will not be as dramatic; and 4) former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin: Please, let’s not do this.




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The State of Delusion (1 of 4)

Obama Going on the Offensive (2 of 4)

West Coast Progressives Weigh in on Vaccines (3 of 4)


The GOP Pro-Vaccine View (4-- of 4)




Main Index of the Ultrapolis World Forecast & Review


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