Isn’t he CUTE – my four favorite Trump lies

Since my memory is so poor and the lies told by Donald Trump in this campaign season so prevalent, I resorted to the use of an acronym CUTE to remind me of my four favorite Trump lies. These are not necessarily his best ones and with a track record at year-end 2015 of telling the truth only 24% of the time, there are too many to choose from.

I mention these as people will tell me that they are for Trump because he tells the truth or says what we want to say. As for the latter, I would grow concerned if you really wanted to say some of the bigoted and xenophobic stuff he babbles on about. As for the truth, based on his history and campaign statements, I would not equate what The Donald says with the truth. So, if the opportunity presents itself at a future cocktail party, remember the 24% figure first. But, if you need a few fun examples, here are four CUTE Trumpisms which are not truthful.

C = Crime: To inflame a crowd, The Donald said 81% of white homicides are committed by black assailants. Actually, the percentage is more the opposite as the FBI notes that it is only 15%. I think this exemplifies Trump at his worst as it is intended to enrage a strident fan base and blame a group of people. There is a reason so many white hate groups, like the KKK and Nazi party, endorse The Donald.

U = Unemployment: The Donald said the current unemployment rate of 4.9% is not correct. He heard it was more like 30% and one report said 42%. This number is published monthly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is 4.9%. When you look at underemployment, it is higher, but nowhere near 30% or 42%. It should be noted if unemployment were that high, we would be in a severe depression.

T = Taxes: He has said this numerous times including the New Hampshire debates, where no one corrected him. The Donald said we are the most taxed country in the world. Not even close.  Per one measure ratioing taxes to GDP, we are 27th out of the top 30 wealthiest nations. Using a measure of taxes per capita, we are 17th. In fact, per the Paris based Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development, we are well below the average taxes per GDP rate for their 33 surveyed countries.

E = Environment: His most colorful lie may be the most ludicrous thing said by any candidate, including some of Ben Carson’s inane statements. The Donald said global warming is a hoax invented by the Chinese to steal our jobs. Really? I guess those 97% of scientists, 195 countries, and every major science organization who follows these issues, are all wet. I guess since Trump said it, we don’t have to worry about it. Rather than quote facts, let me ask if it is a hoax, why is Exxon-Mobil being sued by the New York State Attorney General for misrepresenting to investors and shareholder the impact of climate change on their business? Why does Duke Energy factor climate change impact on their water reservoir evaporation loss models?

The sidebar story is there is a reason some of the GOP candidates are reluctant to call Trump out on these untruths. The reason is they are an extreme or even mainstream version of the narrative the GOP wants Americans to hear. The last statement on global warming is ludicrous, but not too different from other candidates who deny climate change. John Kasich is a lone wolf in this slate of GOP candidates who notes the real concern of man-influenced climate change. No one corrected Trump on the most taxed country in the world comment, as that is what the GOP wants Americans to believe. The other two fall into the category, as well.

As I have said  before, our world is complex. It is hard enough to govern when we use factual information. What we don’t need is people advocating stuff that either they know is a lie to gain votes or don’t know which is equally bad. Given his track record of making stuff up, my money is on the former. And, that is no way to govern.


A Great Leader

I have written before about great leaders and bosses I have witnessed or read about. Not that I am an expert, but the following opinions about leadership resonate with me.

A great leader…

deflects credit to others and does not take credit when it is not deserved.
– reaches out to others for their thoughts, even if it is to validate a preconceived notion.
encourages communication with those up, down and across the organization.
– recognizes the best ideas to improve sales, performance, safety or efficiency come from those closest to the action.
empowers his or her people to do the jobs they have been hired to do.
– admits mistakes and seeks to remedy them, not cover them up.
encourages people to share their concerns with him or her and not look for people to agree with everything he or she says or does.
– creates a culture of doing the right thing and shows little tolerance for cheating the system.
establishes BHAGs or Big Hairy Audacious Goals, which show a path forward. *
– treats people fairly and consistently.

Please note I did not indicate any personality style. Great leaders can be introverted, as an increasing number of CEOs are, of they could be extroverted. Yet, we often mistake the ability to tell a story with someone who can actually lead.

Finally, great leaders are not perfect. Seeing how they react to business or personal failure is key. Do they blame others or accept the failure? The is the best window into how the person will lead.

* From the book “Built to Last” which reviews why companies are successful over time.

Fiscal FactChecker: 16 Budget Myths to Watch Out For in the 2016 Campaign

I have written several times that we need to do something about our debt crisis, as the problem is only going to get worse. I liken it to having a water problem in your house. If you don’t fix it now, it will get far worse later on.

In addition to The Concord Coalition who I have mentioned before, a sister nonpartisan group to their effort spawns from the Committee for Responsible Federal Budget called Fix the Debt. The Board of Directors of the Committee include some big names who served in various government, think-tank and business roles. The Fix the Debt group was founded by former Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles and former Senator Alan Simpson of the Simpson-Bowles Deficit Reduction Committee.

I will provide a link below, but wanted to summarize a piece called “Fiscal Fact Checker: 16 Budget Myths to Watch Out For in the 2016 Campaign” which is dated August 6, 2015. Those myths are:

Myths about the National Debt

  1. We can continue borrowing without consequences
  2. With Deficits falling, our debt problems are behind us (this is expected to reverse in 2015-16)
  3. There is no harm in waiting to solve our debt problems
  4. Deficit reduction is code for austerity, which will harm the economy

Myths about Taxes

  1. Tax cuts pay for themselves
  2. We can fix the debt solely by taxing the top 1%
  3. We can dramatically lower tax rates by closing a few egregious loopholes
  4. Any tax increases will cripple economic growth

Myths about Health Care and Social Security

  1. Medicare and Social Security are earned benefits and therefore should not be touched
  2. Repealing Obamacare will fix the debt
  3. The Health Care cost problem is solved
  4. Social Security’s shortfall can be closed simply by raising taxes on or means-testing benefits for the wealthy

Myths about easy fixes

  1. We can solve our debt situation by cutting waste, fraud, abuse, earmarks and /or foreign aid
  2. We can grow our way out of debt
  3. A Balanced Budget Amendment is all we need to fix the debt
  4. We can fix the debt solely by cutting welfare spending

In addition to the above, I wanted to reiterate two global trends that impact the US as well. First, per the World Health Organization, we are the most obese country in the world, as well as having the highest costing health care system in the world. The Affordable Care Act has helped, but we are over-tested, over-medicated and future train wrecks waiting to happen This will create continued cost pressures on Medicare, Medicaid and the subsidies under Obamacare.

Second, per the World Economic Forum, we are an aging population. We are not as bad off as places like Japan, Greece, Portugal, Spain, etc., but as we age cost pressures on Social Security and Medicare/ Medicaid will heighten. For people in their 60’s, the average cost of health care is roughly twice that of folks in their 30’s. The aging is actually hitting some of our states and municipalities with increased retirement liabilities relative to fewer workers being hired. Detroit, Stockton, and Birmingham have all filed for bankruptcy, with this being a contributing cause, plus states like Illinois, New Jersey, etc. are having significant retirement cost pressures.

Please check out these two websites and see who is involved in these nonpartisan efforts.

Also ask your Senators, Congressional representatives and Presidential candidates what they plan to do about this. Like climate change and the global water crisis, we can no longer wait on action.

Have you ever noticed…

Speaking as someone with many imperfections and having been around the block a few times, let me offer some random musings for consumption and consideration.

Have you ever noticed…

  • People who are the least tolerant of others tend to require the most tolerance from other people in dealing with them.
  • People who tend to be hypercritical of other people or things, often cannot take criticism very well.
  • People who say “this is the truth,” usually do so before or after something that is not truthful or is an opinion.
  • People who say “this is the truth” are implying what they said at other times is not necessarily so.
  • People who brag on how pious they are should not have to brag about such matters – it should be obvious.
  • People who shout down your argument are using volume not quality as their argument.
  • People who name call or label don’t have a very good argument, so they must resort to shorthand demonization.
  • People can rationalize the most ridiculous viewpoints if they have decided this person best represents their interests, even if said viewpoint is antagonistic to their interests.
  • People who have an easy solution to a complex problem often do not understand what the problem entails.
  • People will agree with veracity of a source of information when it agrees with their position, but call that same source biased when it does not.
  • People who ignore the facts tend to get agitated when facts are used to refute their argument.

Now, I want you to close your eyes and picture each candidate running for office. Do any names come to mind as you do? If so, then do yourself a favor and vote for someone else. Being politically incorrect does not give anyone license to lie, name-call or label folks. But, if someone is going to be candid, then he or she should be prepared for candor in return.

If you have friends that are like this, my strong advice would be to lessen contact with said friend, as it will be less stressful. If you have a business colleague like this, smile, say have a nice day and move on down the hall. If this is your boss, then you may want to put that resume together.

I know I likely irritate people, even though I try my best not to. And, if I must say something direct, I will be as diplomatic and nice as I can be. As that is how I would want to be treated if I am doing something irritating or if someone disagrees with me. Maybe, with a little more civility, we can get along better.


Remember that tingly feeling?

My blogging friend Candice made a reference in one of her recent poems to a “spinning bottle” and the angst of growing up. It got me thinking of the first time playing the game “spin the bottle.”

We were back in the sixth grade, which was very precocious then in 1969 and may be even now, although kids are far more aware now than we were. The mother of one of our friends was more forward thinking than my mother was or would ever be.

It was very exciting and gave me (and I am sure others) quite the tingly feeling of anticipation. As I recall, there were about five girls and the same number of boys. All gathered in a tight circle around a coke bottle. Now there is a commercial for the cola.

You hoped the coke bottle gods would favor you, especially if one of the girls you liked most was spinning said bottle. But, to be frank, it mattered less as you just wanted your chance to kiss a nice girl. And, you hoped the feeling toward you was not one of “oh, no” although those words were not uttered out loud. Now, our kiss was in front of everyone else, but my wife said she played a game where the kissers went into another room as they were sixteen when they played.

Of course, when it was your turn and you knew a kiss was coming, then you hoped it would land on the girl you favored. As I think back, I am at a loss of how long we played. My memory makes the time stand still, but it was likely a couple of hours with so many playing.

We could have never played this with my mother present. As I recall, my friend’s mother was sitting off to the side of the room, likely in the dining area of their apartment. As a divorced mother, my guess is she was remembering back to the tingly times in her youth. My wife said, “you mean she remained in the room!”

Kids grow up much faster now. But, I am quite certain those tingly feelings exist. That first game of Twister. The first note or text with someone you liked. The first hand being held. The first kiss. The first French kiss. The first steady girl (or boy). And, the other firsts….

Even at the age of 57, we can remember those tingly feelings. And, we still get them. The nice thing about long time love, moments where it floods back are quite nice. So, a toast to those tingly feelings. May they never wane.


Dueling Banjos

In the early 1970s, Burt Reynolds breakout performance was in a movie called “Deliverance.” A highlight of a very interesting movie was a scene where a young boy and one of the adults on a rafting trip played “Dueling Banjos” in a song of instrumental one-upmanship, the boy with a banjo, the adult with a guitar.

It is with this backdrop, that I summarize dueling lies by Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. It should be noted the only truth is they both are lying. The parenthetical comments are the truth).

DT: Unemployment is not 4.9%. It is much higher around 30%. I heard one guy say it was 40% (We would be in a severe depression if that high. 4.9% is the truth per monthly BLS reports).

TC: It would not have been a big deal if we defaulted on our debt in 2013 (Not according to experts and Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund).

DT: We are the most taxed country in the world (Not even close, 27th under one measure and 17th under another out of the top 30 wealthiest countries).

TC: Obamacare has been an utter failure (While not perfect and needing improvements, it has been pretty successful per a number of measures).

DT: 81% of white homicides are committed by black assailants (No, per the FBI it is more like 15% of the time).

TC: Donald Trump has recommended a tax plan that will increase taxes (No, like yours, both would reduce taxes to a degree, that the deficit will be significantly increased beyond the ability for spending cuts to reduce it per Former Republican Senator Alan Simpson and a nonpartisan analysis).

DT: Global warming is a hoax invented by the Chinese to steal our jobs (This may be the dumbest thing said by any candidate topping Ben Carson’s pyramid comment).

TC: I am the best solution to our problems in Washington (My opinion is the only way for Ted Cruz to be part of the solution would be to resign as Senator. He is part of the problem with his obstinance, grandstanding and name-calling).

To be frank, I am unimpressed with either of these candidates. They are both divisive  and not forthcoming with the truth. Trump’s history is one of exploiting others for money and has lapped the field in lying per nonpartisan fact checkers. Plus, he has demonized, mocked and name called several people and groups. Cruz has not only lied several times, accusations of his cheating have merit and he is known for grandstanding and not collaborating with his colleagues.

In my view, the best GOP candidate is John Kasich, but his voice is being drowned out by these two prima donnas. To me, Trump and Cruz’ leading the GOP voter polls is an indictment of the party.

Not following the process makes it political

With the untimely death of a Antonin Scalia, the US Supreme Court loses a key voice on the court. He has been a strident voice in thinking more about the written words, especially when it relates to Constitutional matters. He has given rise to a valued term which has been used to describe him – an originalist.

The sad irony is he would likely be perturbed by those who are advocating not following the Constitution to replace him. These folks have said the President should not offer a replacement letting his successor pick Scalia’s replacement. But, that would mean SCOTUS would be one less justice for the rest of this term and much of the next, which begins in October. Starting out a new term, where the justices select the cases to be heard is not prudent and is unfair to the process.

To me, not following process makes it political. The process gives the President the right and duty to recommend a replacement. He should do his job. Then, it will be left to the Senate to do its job. I will be urging my state’s Senators to do their job and review the President’s recommendation. There have been fourteen justices confirmed in the final year of a President’s term, that last being one of our sitting judges, Anthony Kennedy.

In my view, when you do not do what you are obligated to do makes any action fraught with politics. I want a solid candidate nominated and from what I read there are several excellent candidates. When you don’t follow the process, the deviation makes it more political than it already is.

As for the politics of waiting, the leader of the Senate may want to think that through. If Donald Trump is the nominee, his party may risk losing the White House and Senate majority. His best bet to influence the decision may be right after the primaries.

Yet, it is grossly unfair to those who have spent time, energy and money in legal fees to present a case in front of SCOTUS. To end in a split verdict wastes many people’s time and money. So, let’s follow the process. The President will nominate someone he thinks will pass muster and the Senate should vet that person just as before. Do your job.

Why don’t more business people and investors vote for a Democrat Presidential Candidate?

Before some scoff at this question, let’s look at some data. We investors and business people are supposed to maximize shareholder and business value are we not? If that is the key goal, would we not want to vote for the party, who on average, increases the value the most? So, we should vote for the Republican candidate for President, as this party has touted they are the party of business and jobs – right?

Well, I hate to burst the bubble of some and surprise even Democrats, but the party who occupies the White House when the stock market performs the best, on average, is when a Democrat is in charge. And, on average, it is not even close.

Per a 2012 study performed by Colin Cieszynski, a Senior Market Analyst for CMC Markets, Canada, when the stock market performance since 1900 is reviewed, there are some surprising results.* Under 734 months of Republican White Houses and 617 months of Democrat White Houses (43 months of President Obama’s term were included), the following results are in evidence:

  • the average monthly rate of return under Democrat leadership is 0.73% per month, while the average monthly rate of return under Republican leadership is 0.38% per month, about half as much as under Democrats.
  • yet, the average risk as measured by monthly standard deviation is less under Democrat leadership, which is the opposite of what you would expect given the above return at 5.22% versus 5.56% under the Republican leadership.

However, let’s not stop there. Under which White Houses, on average, are the most non-farm payroll based jobs created? Again, I hate to burst the bubble of Republicans, but it is under Democrat White Houses. And, as before it is not even close. Using the Bureau of Labor Statistics after 1941 and estimates before dating back to 1921, there have been 12 Republican White Houses and going on 12 Democrat White Houses, with one year to go.** With the counter still running on President Obama’s administration, the following results are in evidence:

  • there have been over 82,000,000 jobs created under Democrat White Houses through January, 2016.
  • there have been just under 36,000,000 jobs created under Republican White Houses through January, 2016.
  • ratioing the two jobs created numbers results in a ratio of almost 2.3 to 1 in jobs created under Democrat leadership than under Republican leadership.

I fully recognize the President position gets too much credit and too much blame for the economy. Yet, they do provide headwinds and tailwinds. I also recognize that individual leaders are different under both parties. Under Bill Clinton, more jobs were created than under any other President and he was the second best President behind Republican Calvin Coolidge during the roaring twenties on average monthly return. Ronald Reagan was the third best job creator, but fell to sixth in average monthly return. FDR rated second in jobs created and fifth in average monthly return.

My point is we should be asking questions as to why this is the case, especially since it runs counter to campaign and party rhetoric. My thesis is we tend to invest in the economy more through infrastructure investment under Democrat White Houses. Not only do these investments improve assets or build new ones, they create jobs as well.  It should be noted that both Clinton and Reagan were big on trade agreements, as well, which fueled growth. While his job growth numbers were low since we were at full employment in the 1950s, Dwight Eisenhower continued investing in infrastructure building off FDR’s new deal and the stock market performed at the eighth best level on an average monthly return basis.

So, what about President Obama? As of January, 2016, there had been just under 9 million net new jobs (counting the lost jobs due to the recession when he took office), which will likely grow to net 11 million or more by the end of his last term. That would place him in 4th or 5th place in net jobs created since 1921. And, through his first 43 months office as measured in the CMC Markets study, he was in 5th place in average monthly return. I have not seen updated numbers, but he would still have a pretty good ranking, since the stock market has doubled while he has been President.

So, back to my question. If the goal is to make money, then on average the party that is the better enabler is the Democrats based on these economic measures. Please review the attached sources for any questions you might have.



Five questions for any candidate

After seeing the very childish Republican debate which reveals the infighting in the party, it reminded me of the questions not being asked enough or answered when they are. It troubles me that the leading candidate is loud on bravado and quiet on substance. And, he does not like questions which should speak volumes.

We need to think of five basic questions we should be asking all candidates, but especially the ones running for President. We owe it to our country and the rest of the world. And, this goes for candidates of all parties.

Why? Why do you believe that? Why do you say that? Can you elaborate on your position? In today’s politics and governance, if your opponent did something it is by definition bad and vice versa. So, this first question is key.

What? What will you do to remedy the problem you note? It is so very easy to critique, but harder to do. Tell us what your plan entails. Be specific and not speak in platitudes.

How? How will you do what you say you want to do? This is particularly good to ask when what is being advocated is unconstitutional or would lessen our global standing. Or, if the idea is unrealistic.

How long? The difference between a hope and a plan is a timeline. How long will it take? What does success look like? An early critic of going into Iraq and Afghanistan said “be prepared to stay for 30 years.” This lack of definition of success and the time to get there is a major frustration of our troops who are at risk.

How much? Money is not infinite and we do have a building debt crisis. Paying off new things is important, but we must also pay for old things, as well. And, please remember the following crude statement – any dumb ass can get elected saying they will cut taxes. Cutting taxes, in and of itself, should not be confused with good stewardship.

Five questions. They will work on any issue. And, there is one certainty, most candidates will not like answering them. But, for our sake, they must. For our children and grandchildren’s sake they must. We owe it to them.

An old colleague and friend died much too early

My friend Wes passed away at the age of 57 just shy of his next birthday. Wes was one of the smartest people any of us would ever meet, but he was far more than that. He was passionate about his work. And, he loved to learn new things and would relish in either applying the new knowledge or telling you or our clients about it. He would light up a room. He was also competitive.

Wes has had two battles with cancer. He surprised even his own doctors by surviving throat cancer. His positive attitude was noted as one reason. The doctors were so amazed, they would invite him to attend conferences and have other doctors hear is story and look into his mouth. The surgeons used part of his shoulder muscle to reconstruct his tongue. As a result, he had to learn to speak and swallow with his displaced muscle and constantly drink water as he produced less saliva.

The second cancer came along later and would cause him to retire early on disability, much before he was mentally ready. He was battling with this cancer at the same time missing out on plying his trade. The last time I talked with him, he was frustrated as he was not working. Having to go through something like this again was disturbing, especially with the hope of returning to work less available. Yet, when I asked him his opinion on a matter, he again lit up and was a totally different person.

At his funeral this week, the minister spoke of Wes’ making it long enough to attend his daughter Chelsea’s wedding just two months ago. He astonished everyone walking down the aisle with his daughter, leaning heavily on her as he wheeled an oxygen tank on the other side. He could not speak the last few months, but was a furious note writer often more interested in you and how you were doing.

His son Taylor finally betrayed a secret they shared when he spoke at the funeral. He said he and his Dad would wink at each other as their signal of affection. They would often debate issues, but the wink at the end meant, even though we may disagree, know that I still love you.

His wife Charlene is the greatest trooper. Between his two cancers, she had her own illness that took a long while to figure out. So, they shifted roles for a few years with Wes being the caregiver. Yet, when his cancer returned and she was recovered herself, she was the Florence Nightingale. She was there for him until they end.

Two of my favorite stories about Wes involved him being on the phone. We had a finalist presentation he could not attend due to a minor surgery for one of his children. He could call in as it would offer him a distraction while he waited. Wes was somewhat antsy and need such distraction. So, we created a life-size picture of a torso and head shot and sat it in the chair by the phone so they could see the voice in person. The client loved this and it showed we were the kind of people they wanted to work with.

The other involves vintage Wes. He would get so into his subject, he would often times forget who he was talking with. At the end of one call with me late in the day, he was thinking about his wife usually calling him at that time of day and signed off with “I love you.” To which I responded “I love you too, Wes.” He laughed and said that is not the first time this had happened.

Wes, I am not the only one who loves you. You touched many of us with your passion and pursuit of excellence. Your family and friends will miss you.