Civil war survey results are disturbing – note to Senators with a plea for leadership

The following represents a letter I posted on my two Senators’ websites and that of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. It is yet another plea for leadership, this time in the face of a survey result noted in the first sentence. Americans need to hear that elected officials have a steady hand on the wheel.

Seeing a survey that noted 40% of Americans (and 50% of Republicans) think that a Civil War is likely in the next ten years is disturbing to this independent voter. What also is disturbing are elected leaders who sow discord to garner votes. One Senator said if the former president is charged there will be rioting in the streets. From what I have read and witnessed, charging the former president may be appropriate and hold him accountable for his alleged and possible crimes.

We need Senators to be the leaders we deserve. Like many, I am very tired of these zero-sum games that are being played. We are the ones that pay the price for this gamesmanship. Please help manage real expectations not perceptions and wants. To be frank, it is a failure of leadership that this many Americans believe these things.

Please feel free to adapt and use. It is high time Senators start acting like leaders. And, if they cannot, they should resign. It is one thing for an entertainment opinion host to babble about BS, but when an elected official parrots that BS, it is shameful because most of them know better.

A few sayings to help us through the day

Here a few sayings that I have picked up along the way. Please feel free to offer some of yours that who add some relish to this grouping.

Have you ever felt like the whole world is a tuxedo and you’re just a pair of old brown shoes? (George Goebbels)

I have noticed the more I practice, the luckier I get. (Gary Player)

Opportunity is often missed as it is dressed up as hard work. (Malcolm Gladwell)

I have noticed common sense is not all that common. (Mark Twain)

A man will never be shot while doing the dishes. (Unknown)

More shots are missed because they are never taken. (Unknown)

If you always tell the truth, you don’t have to remember as much. (Unknown)

We tend to spend more practice on what we do well and less on what we don’t. It should be the other way around. (Harvey Penick)

No is just an answer. Don’t be afraid of hearing it. (Unknown)

I took the last shot because I knew I could handle missing it. (Jim Furyk)

You cannot have too many cups of coffee with people. It is my fault should not be a frightening thing to say. (a friend and colleague)

Don’t ever be surprised when an ego-centric person turns on you. It will happen. (Unknown)

People should get more credit for doing the right thing than going along with the crowd. (Unknown)

Paying it forward may be the most selfless of gifts. The gift of your time is the best thing you can do for your kids. (Unknown)

The greatest lights in our community or family are the people who always visit or help when it is needed. (Unknown)

Helping people climb a ladder out of the hole they dug is better than just pulling them up. If they climb it, they may avoid digging a new one. (a friend and social worker)

You have two ears and one mouth, use them in that proportion. (an old boss)

32 million fewer words – a second much needed reprise


The following post was written ten years ago and I provided a reprise of it last year. Given its continuing relevance with attacks on education by a short-sighted few and difficulty in recruiting, rewarding and retaining good teachers, I thought I would republish it. It is a little longer than my current posts, but it takes a more holistic view of the issue, so please bear with it.

While reading David Brooks’ excellent book called “The Social Animal,” I was alerted to a key result of classic study by Betty Hart and Todd Risley of the University of Kansas. One of the conclusions of the study is by the age of four, children raised in poor families have heard 32 million fewer words than those raised in professional family households. Breaking this down to an hourly basis, children of poor families hear on average 178 utterances of words per hour as compared to 487 words per hour in a professional family home.

And, it is not just what they hear, it is the emotional tone. There tended to be far more encouraging words than discouraging words in the professional home setting. Translating this to today’s time, there is a greater propensity to see single head of household families in impoverished families, so with one less adult and with the greater stress of earning a paycheck, doing housework and raising children lends itself to fewer conversations to hear those missing words.

In my volunteer work with homeless families and tutoring underprivileged children, I witness this first hand. I see kids who are having to overcome more obstacles than the very difficult one of coming from a homeless or impoverished household. They are starting school even further behind than the other children and will have to work hard to catch up. Just using the tutoring example, the two 5th graders I tutored were smart children, they just needed more time, targeted explanation and encouragement. The encouragement is as or more important than the first two needs.

In this same book, Mr. Brooks introduced me to a Greek term called “thumos.” We apparently don’t have an identical match in our language, but the word explains a lot of what we all need, but especially children. Thumos is the desire for recognition and union. People want to be recognized for their contributions, but through such recognition they want to have a sense of belonging. Translating this to the 5th graders, the children reacted well to the recognition of their efforts and especially the successes. When they “got it” it was like giving them the keys to the kingdom. It truly exhilarated me as much as it did them. To see their faces light up at the moments of clarity was truly joyous. High fives and fist bumps seemed to be insufficient to celebrate the moments.

I mention the tutoring as I see the resolution to this effort as “taking a village to raise a child.” This African proverb is very much on point, as parents, teachers and counselors all need hour support to help these children climb their individual ladders out of poverty. Why is this important for everyone? Education is probably the greatest challenge for our country as we have fallen asleep at the switch and will not be able to compete as well in the future. I do not have any statistics for what I am about to state, but I believe our best can compete with others’ best students. I think other countries have caught up and made this echelon highly competitive. Yet, when you get beneath this small sliver of talent, I think other countries are kicking our hind end all over the place.

The jobs of the future are not the jobs of the past. Even manufacturing jobs and high skilled blue-collar jobs require an understanding of technology that may not have been required to the same extent before. If our children are not educated we will continue to be left behind. There are too many examples of where the United States is not in the calculus of whether to invest in a facility, but the one I like to use, is Mercedes had to dumb down their manuals on how to build their car for the plant they built in Alabama. They had to use more pictures than words. If we cannot offer an employer a capable workforce, they will find it elsewhere and they do.

So, what do we about finding those 32 million words? And, what do we do from that point forward? In this age of budget cuts, which are totally understandable, we have to be zealous in defending educational investment. We have to invest in pre-school programs to help kids get off to a better start. The “Smart Start” and “More Before Four” programs do pay dividends and we need to find more ways to reach kids. And, we need to invest in our teachers – we need more and higher quality of teachers, but we need to give them the freedom to tailor their teaching.

We need to continue the focus on providing resources to parents through the various “Parent Universities.” To my earlier example, we need more volunteers to help tutor, mentor and baby sit while the parents attend self-education or teacher conferences, etc. In my work with helping homeless families, the significant majority of whom are employed, I come across a contingent that cannot be swayed from their belief that all homeless people are bums and addicts. I have argued until I am blue in the face to dissuade them from this erroneous belief, but the one area I do get some nods of approval, are to say let’s set aside the parent(s) and focus on the kids. They did not choose to be homeless. If we help them, we can break the cycle of homelessness. Quoting a forward-thinking minister, he said “we have no idea of the untapped intellectual capital that may reside in these kids in poverty.”

So, spending in the area of helping children is not only the right thing to do, it is the smartest investment we could possibly make. I need only look at the second prize winner in a recent Intel science project who was a former homeless child. Yet, we also need to spend money on organizations like “Planned Parenthood.” This organization has become a pawn in an idiotic political game. As an Independent voter, this pariah status placed on such an important organization makes me ill. There are numerous studies that show causal relationships between family size and poverty in the US and abroad. In the work on homeless families I do, I tend to see larger families than in non-poverty settings. I place a lot of criticism on the churches for this. Birth control is used by many women and men, but it not as available or universally understood as needed in all segments of our population.

One of my old colleagues who is an African-American woman told me how frustrated she was at her minister and church leaders. She said the teenage kids in her congregation are so misinformed about pregnancy and STD risk. As an example, some told her they heard you could not get pregnant if you had intercourse standing up! When she went to her minister to see if they could offer some guidance she was scoffed at.  Abstinence is the only thing they will teach. Well, as a 53-year-old let me state what everyone seems to know but the church leadership – kids are going to experiment and have sex. You can preach all you want, but it will not stop that train. So, we must embrace planned parenthood and the use of birth control. And, to me what better place to teach than in church. In many respects, I think some ministers and church leaders are misusing their authority to not be forthcoming with these kids. Please note through all of this discussion, I did not use the word abortion; I see that as its own issue with its own debate. I am speaking of birth control which is used by well over 90% of Catholic women, a fact the Catholic church tends to overlook.

You probably did not expect a discussion on education to include planned parenthood and birth control. Yet, I see them linked with the causal relationship I noted above between poverty and family size. Having an unfettered number of children, will put the family and children at risk. I love children, but with the cost of raising a child the way it is, I don’t think I could afford a fourth child. Yet, my wife and I have access to birth control and governed our family size to a manageable level. We would have loved a fourth child, but we have the family size we want. I think many church goers would say the same thing.

However, I would prefer to end on a more targeted note and that is the volunteerism. I described the need for the help, but also the joy to the giver. The gift of your time is immeasurable to those in need, but it will lift you up as well. At our agency that helps homeless families, where we do not permit the proselytizing to those in need, our executive director likes to say “who is witnessing to whom?” Our volunteers get as much out of the experience that the families do. The families are witnessing to the givers. So, find some way to give back. It will be a fulfilling experience. Match your passions with the needs in the community. My wife likes to say on her involvement “I am giving these kids a soft place to land.” Let’s all provide these soft places to land and help find the missing words in the children’s lives. You may even find a few words for yourself.



A Night with Janis Joplin – a terrific tribute (an encore)

Last night watching a terrific blues and rock and roll guitarist and singer named Joanne Shaw Taylor, my wife and I were enthralled by her talent. And, when she brought out the talented Joe Bonamassa to sing and play with her, it was even more eventful. Yet, when she broke into a wonderful version of “Summertime,” my wife and I were reminded of the legendary Janis Joplin. Here is a reprise of a post after we saw a Janis Joplin tribute show a few years ago.

My wife and I ventured to Durham this week and caught a sensational tribute to the late Janis Joplin. starring Mary Bridget Davies as the lead. She does a breathtakingly exciting and vulnerable impersonation of Joplin. When she broke into “Summertime,” with her bluesy variation of the “Porgy and Bess” song, we knew we were in for a treat. But, when she rocked us with “Piece of My Heart,” we felt that Joplin was indeed with us as she left everything on the stage.

The show is not just about Joplin, as in character, Davies speaks of her influences ranging from Bessie Smith to Etta James to Aretha Franklin to Nina Simone. Four very talented singers occupied the stage in tribute to these wonderful talents. My wife and I both thought it was done, in part, as singing as Joplin would take a toll on you if you sang for two hours plus. We also heard the variation between the operatic and bluesy “Summertime.” Plus, Joplin was influenced by Broadway show songs that her mother would play as they cleaned the house every Saturday with her brother and sister.

Joplin had a unique voice that was powerful, but bluesy and soulful, at the same time. Like a great blues singer, her voice was indeed an instrument and she held nothing back. If I had to equate it with someone else, she would be a female James Brown, in that she would give it all with her voice, body and expressions  Plus, Davies did a great job with Joplin’s stage presence and frank language, so we truly felt we were seeing Joplin in person.

We heard renditions of “Cry Baby,” which was sensational, “Try, just a little bit harder,” which was spot on, and “Me and Bobby McGee,” which had us all singing along. She ended the show after the accolades and applause, with a capella version of “Mercedes-Benz,” with the only the drummer giving us a beat. The audience was right there with he as we sung every note.

If you get a chance, please go see this show. If you cannot, here is a link to a few “real” Janis Joplin songs. It is a tragedy she died so soon.

Florida governor bans investing state pension funds if the primary selection criteria is environmentally focused funds

As a former Republican and now independent voter, it continues to amaze me that the governor of the state I grew up in continues to make decisions that are hyper-political, but at odds with data. The new target is banning state pension funds from investing in Environmental, social and government (ESG) funds as they are hostile toward fossil fuel investing. The ruling is the ESG criteria cannot be the primary focus for selecting this investment.

Yet, for the last five years, ESG funds have yielded an average annual return of 14% versus 11% for conventional non-ESG funds. ESG funds also did better in European and Global markets per a Bloomberg article. Why governor are you improperly labeling these funds as “left wing conspiracy“ when they beat the pants off non-ESG funds? Florida pensioners deserve a few answers especially when data is not on the governor’s side.

This decision is part of the fossil-fuel funded strategy of pushing back on investors looking the toward funding environmentally oriented companies through mutual funds. My former party likes to say now, we are not in the business of picking winners and losers when they have been picking winners and losers for decades. No other industry has received more government money than the fossil fuel industry.

From what I read, these funds can still be selected by Florida pension investment managers, but financial returns will be the only criteria. With fossil fuel continuing to face challenges over their polluting product along with a movement to electric cars and renewable energy, the rates of return for the ESG funds may continue to outshine others. It should be noted that many corporate sponsors of 401(k) plans (not impacted by this ruling even in Florida), often offer ESG funds as an option for conscientious investors in their plans who do not want to be associated with environmental degrading industries.

I understand the governor’s argument to a point, but find it funny that he is targeting funds that are helping the environment, especially in a state surrounded by water on three sides and who has a horrible algae bloom problem in its waterways. Miami, its largest city, has been noted globally as the at most risk city in the world to climate change with the encroaching seas and an aquifer protected by porous limestone. Plus, it is par for the course with this governor to attack some perceived slight as a wedge issue to garner votes from ultra-conservatives.

Friday follies which are sadly for real

When I worked, I may have uttered a TGIF, but now that we are retired, Friday’s stand out a little less than before. Still, ending a workweek does have a feel to it. Today, I thought I would throw together some follies that continue to be in the news and will likely be for sometime.

Let me start with an obvious one. If anyone in this country is subpoened by a judiciary body or Congressional committee, my strong advice is to get your hind-end in there and stop your wimpering. No one is above the law. That is how it works. One cannot lie and defame others or encourage sedition and just say “I don’t have to testify.” That includes US Senators, Congressional representatives, former presidents, advisors, governors, news people, ministers, priests, et al.

Along these same lines, we have seen a parade of Republicans (and Democrats) who have testified under oath of their concerns over actions of the former president on several occasions. These same folks have been vilified by the extreme fans of the former president, yet have testified anyway. What also should be noted is the critics have not testified under oath, since lying under oath is crime. So, criticism not under oath should not be given, prima facie, the same level of credence as testimony under oath. It should be noted when the former president testified on a fraud allegation court case, he pleaded the 5th amendment. To restate the obvious, lying under oath is a crime.

I read Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil may lead a coup to seize the government if he does not win the election in the fall. By itself, that is a reason not to vote for him. Any so-called leader who bullies and threatens voters is not wanting to lead a democracy. The person is wanting an autocracy.

Is Boris still around? I think I recall he would be leaving at the end of this month, yet he has been ghosting his country. The country would have liked for him to actually finish out his term doing a few things to receive his paycheck, but maybe it is better being ghosted given his bent toward the sensational and not toward stewardship.

If Bolsonaro can lose the election and the Brazil military can keep a lid on his bravado, it would be terrific if the world could then be rid of three autocratic acting people who were in leadership positions – Trump, Johnson and Bolsonaro. To me, each has shown exactly what is not needed in a leader – a me, me, me mentality. Yes, leaders have a large sense of self, but when it goes beyond that into narcissistic tendencies, that is a bridge too far.

A leadership consultant I worked with said often a good leader deflects credit to the others and assumes blame even when not due, while a bad one assumes all credit and sheds blame to others. Please re-read this sentence and see if it applies to any of these three blokes.

Now, if they could also take that Putin guy with them because it certainly does not apply to him either.

Humor abounds in all relationships

We have been watching several Rom-Com movies where relationship humor between the lead characters seasons what would be a dry movie plot. Just yesterday, in the movie “Sleeping with other people,” the main, opposite gender characters (played by Jason Sudekis and Alison Brie) became best friends. If they ever had romantic feelings for each other, they would say the word “mousetrap” to stop those thoughts. That is a neat ploy.

It got me thinking about humor in all kinds of relationships – partners, friends, relatives, etc. I won’t repeat several stories that I have written about a few times before, but here are a few I have not.

Make sure the door can lock – when I moved to a new city, I was in a temporary apartment before we sold our house. When my family was visiting, the kids slept on a sleeper sofa, while my wife and I were in the lone bedroom. During, shall we say a romantic interlude, in walks my oldest son who was about seven and he said an audible “ooh” and left the room. Note to self, make sure the bedroom door can actually lock.

Old dogs can be taught – having learned the above lesson, we went on vacation and stayed in an old lake house, whose bedroom door would not fully shut and lock. Part of our foreplay was made to include placing a chair in front of the door to keep it from opening.

Yes, your parents had sex after you were born – growing up, my parents’ bedroom was adjacent to my brother’s and mine. Since my bed was on the nearest wall to theirs, it enabled me to hear things a boy probably should not hear in the room next door. Yes, my parents had sex after I was born; I am sure they enjoyed it.

Speaking of discovery – some good friends were visiting her mother and father and were sleeping in the guest room downstairs. After one of those romantic interludes, in walks the husband’s mother-in-law. It should be noted my friend is in bed, sans clothing, with one leg positioned outside of the covers. His mother-in-law sits on the bed while they are talking and starts to pat his leg and pats it again. Then, it hits her what has just transpired and she gets wide-eyed and immediately leaves the room. See number one about locking bedroom doors.

Invariably, kids will walk through when the movie gets racy – with one adult-child staying with us since the pandemic staying upstairs when home, he will occasionally walk through our main TV area to go the kitchen. Often, if our movie has a racy scene come on the screen, that is when he walks through the room. My wife and I will say to each other “I thought this was PG-13.” That and the surprise “f-bombs” that are used in movies cause some parental cringing. He will say, “it is nothing I have not heard before.”

Yes, a squeaky bed can be heard downstairs – when we travel, we often stay in a bed and breakfast which is usually an old house. At one place, we learned, after the fact, our bedroom and another was above the downstairs parlor. The reason we know there was another bedroom is the guests were having one of those romantic interludes as we had done earlier. And, we heard the squeaky bed while sitting in the parlor below. Oops. Our bed was squeaky as well.

When it rains it pours – staying at another bed and breakfast, we arrived during a torrential rainstorm. Our room was in the back of the home with an elevated poster bed which needed a stepping stool to get into. It also was underneath a veranda with a partially covered roof accessible by the second-floor rooms. Since this story is about romantic interludes, when we were about to Christen the poster bed, we saw rain leaking down the wall. This was a few seconds before the ceiling caved in from the rain on top of us. After getting dressed and letting the owners know of our travails, we were moved to another room across the hall, but it had water running down the walls as well. So, we ended up in a third room.

So, the moral to this story is not to avoid having romantic interludes. The moral is lock or block the bedroom door, test the squeakiness of the beds, and watch out for B&B poster beds in rainstorms. And, yes your parents did these kinds of things as well and enjoyed them. As for those movies, don’t trust a PG-13 rating.

Speaker of Arizona’s House speaks up

In an article called “Ousted Republican reflects on Trump, democracy and America: ‘The place has lost its mind’” by Ed Pilkington of The Guardian, long-time Republican Rusty Bowers reflects on his actions that led to his failure to win reelection in the GOP primary. Who is Bowers?

Per the article, “Rusty Bowers was speaker of Arizona’s house of representatives when he stood up to the former president’s demand that he overturn the election result. He paid the price but has no regrets.

Rusty Bowers is headed for the exit. After 18 years as an Arizona lawmaker, the past four as speaker of the state’s house of representatives, he has been unceremoniously shown the door by his own Republican party.

Rusty Bowers shakes hands with Adam Schiff at a January 6 hearing in June.

Last month he lost his bid to stay in the Arizona legislature in a primary contest in which his opponent was endorsed by Donald Trump. The rival, David Farnsworth, made an unusual pitch to voters: the 2020 presidential election had not only been stolen from Trump, he said, it was satanically snatched by the ‘devil himself.’

Bowers was ousted as punishment. The Trump acolytes who over the past two years have gained control of the state’s Republican party wanted revenge for the powerful testimony he gave in June to the January 6 hearings in which he revealed the pressure he was put under to overturn Arizona’s election result.

This is a very Arizonan story. But it is also an American story that carries an ominous warning for the entire nation.

Six hours after the Guardian interviewed Bowers, Liz Cheney was similarly ousted in a primary for her congressional seat in Wyoming. The formerly third most powerful Republican leader in the US Congress had been punished too.

In Bowers’s case, his assailants in the Arizona Republican party wanted to punish him because he had steadfastly refused to do their, and Trump’s, bidding. He had declined to use his power as leader of the house to invoke an ‘arcane Arizonan law’ – whose text has never been found – that would allow the legislature to cast out the will of 3.4 million voters who had handed victory to Joe Biden and switch the outcome unilaterally to Trump.

Bowers has a word for that kind of thinking. ‘The thought that if you don’t do what we like, then we will just get rid of you and march on and do it ourselves – that to me is fascism.‘”

The article goes into more detail about Bowers’ long-time fealty to the Republican party. It also speaks of a man who campaigned for Donald Trump. Yet, per an attorney who worked for years for Trump before the White House, “if you are on Donald Trump’s good side, don’t get used to it.” At some point, you won’t jump high enough or genuflect low enough to suit the would-be-king acting former president.

What saddens me is to be loyal to Donald Trump requires you to believe his deceitful words and actions, even when you know they are not true. I am sure there are fans who still think every word he says is true, but I do believe that is naivete. I think far more go along with the lies because it is easier than being courageous and standing up to the lies. Plus, courage often means you are more alone in your quest, as it is a rare attribute.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/aug/20/rusty-bowers-interview-trump-arizona-republicans

Read the room – make sure your advice is being heard

One of my mentors in consulting taught me and others an approach to addressing problems for clients which he termed the “total approach to consulting.” There are two impactful stories that frame this one – the approach and how he learned it.

First, what is the approach. Address each problem holistically looking at it from all angles – what is the context, what are the end-goals, what are the short and long-term costs, who benefits and how do they benefit, what is the competitive level of the benefits as it fits in the whole, what is needed in communication, what is needed to execute the change, what is needed to administer the change, etc.?

Quite often, the last three points are afterthoughts and are key reasons changes fail to deliver. One of the things he did in his reports and presentations is have sections on these subjects so the client knew what they entailed. And, what it cost. Sometimes changes are too burdensome to administer, so options should be considered.

Second, how he learned of this approach. On the last day of an internal seminar, when everyone is checking flights and airport shuttle arrangements, a fairly round man who I will call Paul got up to speak about this concept he had been using called – the total approach to consulting. No one was listening.

After about ten minutes of a fidgety and bored audience, Paul stepped away from the podium and slammed his hand on the top waking everyone up. He said very loudly, “Look at me. No one hires me for the way I look! This stuff works and if you want to make a difference, you might want to pay attention.” The audience was rapt from that moment forward.

He taught them the total approach and one other important lesson. Read the room. If the room is not with you, then you better change the paradigm. Slamming the podium and drawing attention to his looks as an obstacle got their attention.

Reading the room is why I always wanted to be present with the client, even if we had a colleague on the phone. If the client was not getting it, I could see that first-hand, and metaphorically bang my hand on the podium. Read the room – even the best advice needs attentive listeners.

Failing to shoot straight with network viewers

In an article in Business Insider by John Dorman called “Ex-Fox News editor Chris Stirewalt says network viewers would’ve been more prepared for a Trump loss in 2020 if they’d been given ‘a more accurate’ view of the race: book,” the title of the piece tells the reader what happens when pseudo news networks do not shoot straight with its viewers. The same can happen on the more progressive sources, which is ample reason why we should focus on getting our news from more reputable sources.

Here is the gist of the article, with a link available below. Let’s start with summation at the beginning:

  • “Chris Stirewalt in his forthcoming book wrote of coverage lapses he noticed during his time at Fox News.
  • In the book, “Broken News,” Stirewalt was critical of how the 2020 election was covered by the network.
  • Stirewalt was part of Fox’s decision desk, which in 2020 called Arizona for Biden before other major news outlets.

Former Fox News political editor Chris Stirewalt in his forthcoming book said viewers would have been more prepared for former President Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 presidential election had they been given a ‘more accurate’ assessment of the race through the network’s coverage.

In the book, ‘Broken News: Why the Media Rage Machine Divides America and How to Fight Back,’ Stirewalt — who was fired from Fox in January 2021 — said that over his 11 years at the network, he increasingly saw coverage that didn’t fully capture what viewers needed to hear.

Stirewalt said that such coverage became commonplace during Trump’s White House tenure, and pointed to the ‘rage’ that he encountered after the Fox News decision desk called the pivotal state of Arizona for now-President Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.

‘Amid the geyser of anger in the wake of the Arizona call, Senator Kevin Cramer, Republican of North Dakota, called for my firing and accused me of a cover-up,’ Stirewalt wrote.

He continued: ‘Covering up what, exactly? We didn’t have any ballots to count and we didn’t have any electoral votes to award. Had viewers been given a more accurate understanding of the race over time, Trump’s loss would have been seen as a likely outcome. Instead of understanding his narrow win in 2016 as the shocking upset that it was, viewers were told to assume that polls don’t apply (unless they were good for Trump) and that forecasters like me were going to be wrong again.'”

One of the misconceptions that is played upon by news networks is polls are not accurate citing what happened in 2016. Of course, polls are only a prediction, so we must start from that premise. Yet, what too many fail to do is look only at the median likelihood and not the range of what could happen. Using the 2016 election as an example, Hillary Clinton led Donald Trump in the polls ten days before with a full standard deviation of outcomes showing she was likely to win.

After the infamous James Comey announcement about possible emails on Clinton’s aide computer at home which was also used by the aide’s husband who resigned his seat for sexual misconduct, the polls’ lead shrank so that the median expectation was still in Clinton’s favor, but a Trump win was now easily within one standard deviation meaning it could happen. All it took was to get a solid number of Clinton voters to stay home or vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party.

I was not surprised by the Trump win in 2016 nor was I surprised by his loss in 2020. I was disappointed in the former and quite relieved in the latter. I was also not surprised by Trump making a stink about the election results as he had been preparing to do so for at least six months hiring so many attorneys and belittling the mail-in process, while hobbling the mail governance. I wrote a post about this in September 2020 and Senator Bernie Sanders told talk show viewers with eerie accuracy what Trump would do on election night a month before it happened. What has consistently surprised me is sycophants who do not have the spine to tell the former president repeatedly and loudly he lost so get over it.

Our country was divided before the 2016 election, but is now more so because of the last seven years of Donald Trump as a candidate, president and former president. His greatest skill is marketing getting people to fear the other and think he is the solution. So, he took advantage of this divide and pitted folks against each other, which he does as a manager as well. This is why this strategy works in marketing, but is a horrible management approach. This was the conclusion of business analysts who covered the Trump organization well before 2016 – great marketer, poor manager.

News networks must remember that first word and give us the truth. And, when they offer opinion, I would prefer it to be broadcast in a banner below the talking head – the above is the opinion of the speaker and it should not be considered as news. This should occur whether the network is Fox News, MSNBC or Sinclair Broadcasting who requires its many local TV news stations to air the same opinion at the end of each show. And, if you get your news from a QAnon, InfoWars, or social media, stop. These are not news sources. The first two are propaganda and the latter is opinion

What I have shared with Congresspeople, Senators, and pseudo news people dozens of times is you owe us the truth. Readers and watchers believe what you say, so you need to be the best steward of that trust as possible. When I see these folks lie on purpose, it is very frustrating as they know they are lying and choose to do so anyway. That is Machiavellian. It matters not if the liar is a Democrat, Republican, Independent, Libertarian or Green Party candidate. What is even worse is when they know you know they are lying. That is just inane.