That big undo button the President has in his mind

Since there is such a fuss over “button, button, who has the largest button,” let me build on this theme with another button that comes to mind. For some reason, the President believes he has an “undo” button that can make people forget what has happened.

The most recent example is in response to the comments made by Steve Bannon, Trump’s former Chief Strategist, that are derogatory to the President and his family. In trying to diminish Bannon, Trump said Bannon was just a staff member who did not greatly help Trump’s election and never got one-on-one meetings with the President. Call me crazy, but Chief Strategist sounds kind of important and we should not forget that Bannon was given an unheard of security clearance usually reserved for Generals. As for the one-on-one meetings, there are pictures of the two of them meeting, which look like no one else is in the room.

Of course, he changes his stories so often, he presumes reporters don’t remember he said things. The infamous meeting with Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort and several Russians is now being referenced as treasonous and unpatriotic by Bannon. Yet, we should not forget that the President has changed his story twice on his knowledge of this meeting. First, he said he had heard about it shortly before the news broke. Then he changed the story to knowledge the month before the news broke as he funded $50,000 into Junior’s defense fund. Then, he changed it again and said he was aware of the meeting before it happened, but did not attend. Now, Bannon implies more to the story, asking the question why was the meeting held in Trump Tower?

The above story will likely haunt his son and son-in-law more than it will him, but his story changing as to why he fired James Comey, may come back to haunt him for obstruction of justice. Firing Comey was not the wisest move on Trump’s part, but he added fuel to the fire by doing the following: firing Comey without the courtesy of telling him or his communication people who had to plan on the fly in the White House shrubbery, deviating from the story as to why Comey was fired two days later in an interview with Lester Holt saying it was due to the Russia thing, and then providing altering versions of the story in future tweets.

For me, I am not going to let him off with an “undo” button. He has pushed that button so many times, it has worn out. My thesis is simple. If he is not guilty of anything, then why does he act so guilty with his story changing? And, for those who want him to testify to remedy all questions, there is an interesting story about a deposition he once did, when the opposing attorney made him recant under oath 30 lies he had told. When you change your story so much, it is hard to remember the truth.

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Side of the Angels

A CFO once said during a meeting I was involved with “at least we are on the side of the Angels.” He was referring to a decision a Committee had made which was a conservative reading of the law. If they were wrong at least they would not be at risk.

I use this example as many decisions are made these days that run counter to what experts using data and analytics might say should be done. A good example is happening as of this writing in the US Congress. A law is being passed which goes against what several nonpartisan economic and budget organizations are saying will happen. It is also being sold as more than it is, which is a windfall for wealthy people and investors. These lawmakers are not on the side of the Angels on this issue.

Earlier this year, the President of the United States decided to pull the US out of the Paris Climate Change Accord. As a result, our country was not invited to a conference last week to plan ahead. We are the lone country in the world that will not be in the accord. Ironically, the accord permitted flexibility to reshape how we comply, so leaving was merely a political statement. Being a lone wolf on one of the two most important topics in the world does not leave us on the side of the Angels.

We must do our homework and make decisions based on data, analytics and nonpartisan opinions of experts. Making decisions off rhetoric and lobbyists’ wishes   tends not to be on the side of the Angels.

 

 

Note to young folks – Republicans are leaving you holding the bag

As a former Republican, now Independent voter, it is very hard to defend what my former party stands for. What used to be a party that boasted fiscal stewardship with a little heart, now is fiscally narrow-minded and mean-spirited. There are three major themes that have emerged during the Trump version of this party, all of which are leaving young people holding the bag.To summarize, they are:

  1. ignoring a huge debt problem, making it worse with the Tax Bill,
  2. ignoring the impact climate change is having and will have on our planet, and
  3. ignoring the wishes of young adults eliminating net-neutrality, demeaning civil rights of those who are not white heterosexuals, and denigrating free press.

Note, I placed three separate, but related issues into the third basket, as I see each in a composite context to restrict the rights of information to the masses.

On the debt problem, we are currently at $20.6 trillion US debt. But, that is only part of the problem. In the fiscal year ended September 30, 2017, we had a $666 billion deficit with $3.3 trillion revenue falling short of the almost $4 trillion in expenses. The Congressional Budget Office projects the debt to grow by $10 trillion over the next ten years without the impact of the Tax Bill. That would put us at over $30 trillion in 2027. When the Tax Bill impact is thrown in, the debt could be as high as $32 trillion. Note, with a $3.3 trillion annual budget, it would take us ten years to pay the debt if we spent no other money and there was no interest cost on the debt. What this means is there will be a reckoning that will come in major tax increases and major spending cuts which will hit young adults,

Ignoring climate change is a fossil fuel industry funded requirement placed on Republicans. In the book, “Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman” by Miriam Horn, these hard-working folks see what climate change is doing everyday, yet they have to tiptoe around Republican politicians in their states to explain what is happening to water, crops, topsoil, fisheries, bayou, etc. without using the word climate change. Even though we have many great things going on to combat climate change in the US, our country was not invited to the most recent climate change planning event with other major leaders. Fortunately, our business, city and state leaders don’t necessarily need Washington to make a difference, but it would be great to see what we could do when DC is not putting up roadblocks.

The net neutrality issue is frustrating, as with the Tax Bill, it favors those with money and not those folks the President promised to help. What will backfire on the GOP, is young folks are passionate about this issue and know Ajit Pai’s name as the demonized head of the FCC. Yet, it goes part in parcel with the restriction of flow of information. The media are demonized because they dare criticize the President. Civil rights are being squashed unless you look like the President – what he said about Charlottesville is insulting and distasteful. And, communication companies like Sinclair are being greenlighted to buy even more local stations and influencing their content.

None of us can sit on the sidelines and let this happen, but especially our younger voters. If we do not demonstrably deal with the debt and climate change, these failures will come home to roost. But, the attack on the free flow of information by this President and his party is also dear. It is a way to combat the changing demographics in America that do not support the GOP. Instead of wooing new voters, the strategy is to step on others. This observation comes from a former Republican who left the party ten years ago.

Please lend your voice to fight for better stewardship. These leaders are not even talking about issues that are of import, such as our infrastructure, water and healthcare needs, in addition to the three problems noted above.

 

 

 

Thursday this and that’s

Thursday has arrived bringing the last day of November. One month is left in the most interesting, befuddling and alarming of years. A few “this and that’s” on varied topics follow.

2017 will be remembered for two major global events, one good and one bad. And, the bad may have helped open Pandora’s Box on the good. The good will be the “year women fought back.” The bad will be electing a global leader who is known for his lying, his narcissism, his maltreatment of women, his bigotry and his bombast.

Women have been sexually harassed and assaulted for years. In some places in the world, their rights are secondary to men and/ or their husbands. Starting with Bill Cosby and Donald Trump, women are coming forward with claims of sexual misconduct. The sad part is this was not enough to prevent a man, who boasted of his assault in at least three taped settings and the fact he could get away with it, from getting elected. To me, it takes a huge effort to come forward, so these women should be heard and heeded.

The bad is the election of a man who is far from being qualified for office. Last year, I was told many times he would hire good people to make up for his inexperience. The more capable people either refused or would not kiss his ring. So, we have had a parade of folks who had to resign or were fired and our White House is filled with “chaos and incompetence” per several staffers noted by David Brooks. But, the worst part is the daily degradation of the our standing in the world, the office of the Presidency and civil rights and decorum. If not remedied, this period will be remembered as the time the US ceded its global leadership role.

Another key storiy is 2017 will be the year of backlash against the refugee crisis. With all of the turmoil in the Middle East and Africa, the flood of refugees has caused massive problems for Europe. Welcoming countries had more refugees than they could handle. So, nationalistic movements grew in size and clout. Some groups won seats in their parliaments and a few won majorities. Refugees need our help, but it has to be managed and we need to realize the US minimized its role, which further exacerbated Europe’s issues.

The other big stories are the reality of Brexit negotiations, China extending further its reach and clout with the diminishing US role, the reemergence of Russia along with its cyber manipulation of other countries, and Kim Jong Un accomplishing the build-up of nuclear weapons and ICB missiles.

Going into 2018, I worry most about the man in charge of the United States. He is not trusted, he attacks critics, he uses false news as much as Putin, he belittles legitimate news sources and he not only remains inexperienced, he does not care to do the work to become so and is rather incoherent when he defends what he does. Read a transcript of what he says and it is embarassingly nonsensical.

Let’s forget all of this and enjoy our remaining holiday season. I can leave you with this one thought – there is far more good news than bad, it just seems the opposite since the good is vastly underreported and bad is overreported. Here is one such good story – a team of Afghani girls won the global robotics competition this week, after being initially denied entrance to the US due to our Muslim travel ban. You go girls!

You’re not Vice-President of the United States

Eric Reid, a San Francisco 49er football player appeared on “The View” earlier this week. He was one of the players who knelt during the anthem at the game where Vice-President Mike Pence left in a planned protest.

It should be noted that Reid was the first player to kneel with Colin Kaepernick last year. His purpose of appearing was to regain the narrative on why African-American players are protesting. Reid, whose mother and uncles served in the military, said it is all about civilly protesting the treatment of Blacks by law enforcement. It is not about showing disrespect to the anthem, flag or military, which is why they are kneeling to at least be solemn.

Senator John McCain’s daughter Meghan has joined “The View” as of this week. She noted if she had walked out like Mike Pence had would you have felt less of me. He responded that “You are not the Vice-President of the United States.” She said “Fair enough.”

Reid added this is all about leaders using their power to systemically oppress others. The Vice-President attended the 49er game with an intent to walk out. The President said as much. Reid said this oppression has been going in our country for a long time, so it was not just invented.

When asked about being called a SOB by the President, Reid said two interesting things. He said “The President should not call any of our citizens a SOB.” Plus, after Charlottesville where the Neo-Nazis killed one person and beat another, the President referred to some of them as “nice people.”

Hearing Reid articulate his rationale is compelling. When asked what he would do to fix things, he said he wanted people to know the reasons. When pressed about any laws he would like to see, he said we could start with police not using excessive force on an unarmed man.

Civil protest is done with the intent to make us feel uncomfortable. Reid said he is “somewhat grateful” the President has elevated the discussion, although that was clearly not his intent. I have written before, civil protest says a lot more about the greatness of our country than formal ceremonies ever could.

Musings for Rainy Days and Mondays

With the remnants of Hurrcane Nate bringing much needed, but plenty of rain, permit me to use The Carpenters’ song lyric for today’s musings – “Rainy Days and Mondays always get me down.”

With that said, our weekend was very pleasant as we hosted our niece’s (by marriage) baby shower. She, her mother and my wife’s sister stayed with us. It was nice to catch up over a good news event. Plus, my oldest son invited me to a movie and we saw the quite excellent “Bladerunner 2049,” with Ryan Gosling, Robin Wright and Harrison Ford.

While these good things were happening, the Man in the White House (MITWH) continues to degrade our country’s standing aboard and freedoms at home. In no particular order:

– After cutting our Secretary of State off at the knees, the MITWH ordered him to go quell rumors surrounding his disaffection, a rather embarassing affair. If I were a betting person, I would place a bet on Rex Tillerson not lasting the week. While not perfect, his relative sanity and reasonableness is needed in helping curb his chaotic boss’ actions and words.

– Since the MITWH likes to spread his insults around, he picked back up on his criticism of Senator Bob Corker, a former advisor. Corker dared question Trump’s handling of the White Supremacy issue in Charlottesville and said the MITWH needed to be more competent in these matters. After Corker defended Tillerson saying he was needed with Generals Kelly and Mattis to be the voices of reason, the MITWH starting attacking Corker, as he did with Senator Mitch McConnell last month. Since he is not running again, Corker pushed back, so a war of words is underway which is unbecoming.

– It also is rumored that the MITWH will not    certify the Iran Nuclear deal over the objections of Mattis, McMaster, Kelly, Tillerson and the six other countries who signed it. If he does, he will stand alone as Congress need not act and the other countries favor the deal. It should be noted that Iran has been judged to be in compliance with the terms of the deal.

– Then, there is the terrible follow-up in Puerto Rico. He was already behind the eight ball with a slow response and his beating up on the San Juan mayor (who is representative of other mayors) and Puerto Rican people. But, then he deigned to drop in and insult them further. In short, he said to the victims their hurricane wasn’t as bad as another, he said you are blowing our budget to help you and then tossed paper towels as an old world King might when tossing left over food to peasants. This was highly insulting to the Puerto Ricans and he would have been vilified if he said something similar in Texas or Florida.

There seems to be a consistency of actions and words that have grown very tiresome. When the same person has spats with seemingly everyone he encounters who does not kowtow to him, one must recognize that there is only one constant in this equation. It could be rightfully concluded that the one constant is the problem.

I must confess that when I see his picture behind the newcaster, meaning yet one more news report is about to be told on the MITWH, I have an emotion of disgust. I have disagreed, even strongly, with politicians and Presidents, but no one has caused me this kind of reaction. And, that is not the right sentiment to have about one’s President. The equal sad part is I am not alone in this feeling.

 

Sunday morning muses

First and foremost, best wishes to our friends, family and folks in the path of Hurricane Irma. This juggernaut has already wreaked havoc in the Caribbean and is poised to do more.

Second, continued best wishes for those dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey here in the states and those abroad who are being flooded in other parts of the world. This will be a long haul, as will recovering from Irma.

Third, best wishes to the forest fire fighters in the West who continue to battle unending blazes. These tireless heroes are a huge line of defense.

Fourth and finally, best wishes to the families and friends of earthquake victims in Mexico. For those who also lost their homes, may you find cover and shelter as you rebuild or relocate.

Disasters bring us closer as they reveal our petty differences are just that. I greatly applaud all of those who have stepped up to help through donations of time, energy, goods and money.

As we rebuild, we must be mindful of what the future holds – more powerful storms, more flooding, more drought in drought stricken areas and more forest fires. We must rebuild to withstand, prevent and manage water, wind, heat and fire. I am happy to see consultants from The Netherlands here to advise some cities on managing ocean flooding given their hundreds of years of experience as a country below sea level.

For now, let’s do our part to help others withstand, survive and get back on their feet.