Tell me why (an underused question)

The Beatles sang, “Tell me why…., you cry and why you lie to me.” Why? A question we do not ask enough, especially of those who need it asked again and again. I witness politicians, business leaders, experts and regular people like us say things as if they are fact, but the comments are merely opinion or conjecture. And, in the case of one person in particular, any comment is likely untrue.

So, here are a few why questions.

– Why does a person who claims things that run contrary to his narrative are a hoax, actually made money off hoax strategies? We have heard words like Climate change hoax, Russian hoax, Ukrainian hoax, Coronavirus hoax, etc. from this person, but he made a lot of money off selling his name to developers for projects he had nothing to do with. The name was supposed to bring in more customers under the perception of quality. That is a hoax perpetrated on the unsuspecting buyer.

– Why would the White House change how data is reported on COVID-19 cases and deaths circumventing the CDC reporting? If you control the data, you can control the narrative, maybe?

– Why are sycophants of the president going further with their CYA efforts at this point? Congresswoman Liz Cheney sided with Dr. Anthony Fauci and the usual suspects in the House want her to step down as a Republican leader as a result. They want Republican legislators to be all in for this candidate regardless of the veracity of his narrative.

– Why has the Vice President, a self-professed devoted Christian man and husband, decided his reputation can be thrown out the window as he lies for the his boss? I think it was in Bob Woodward’s book “Fear,” based on 750 hours of interviews that noted how disappointed Republican leaders are in Pence not corralling the president more. Of course, why did they not do it?

– Why are British folks surprised about the lack of interest in pursuing then (and now), purported Russian involvement in the Brexit vote? A weaker EU is a help to Russia. Of course, Putin had his fingerprints on this issue, just as he had a hand on the 2016 US presidential election. Putin is a KGB trained expert on disinformation – social media is nirvana to him – so his use of such to gain advantage is not a surprise.

– Why do leaders try to rewrite history, even when it occurred just a few months ago? Governors who opened up their economies too early are saying how could they have known the pandemic could get worse? The president says often he did not say things he is recorded saying. He said the coronavirus was a hoax at one of his pep rallies at the end of February, the night of the first official US COVID-19 death. Note to these folks – the uptick in COVID-19 is not a surprise. Don’t act like it is and try not to make the same mistakes.

– Why are people surprised when a famous person, like Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain, et al, get COVID-19 after being in very public settings with no masks or social distancing? I read there has been an uptick in cases in Tulsa after a recent presidential pep rally. I do not wish COVID-19 on anyone, but these cases are not a surprise.

– Why would one of the president’s people let him be interviewed one-on-one with Fox News Chris Wallace, one the more studious and tenacious interviewers around? In real time, Wallace corrected the president on several untruthful statements such as regarding the lowest death rate in the world on COVID-19 (not even close) and Biden supporting defunding of the police (not true as per his policy statements). The president was heavily perspiring not just because it was hot. He was thinking why am I here? In short, someone thought it was a good idea to put a president who does not command many facts in an interview with someone who does.

That is all for now. What are some of your why questions?

If you don’t deal with a crisis…

There is a hard lesson for people in leadership positions, that should not be this hard to understand. If you don’t deal with a crisis, it has a predictable habit of biting you in the rear-end.

The first and foremost lesson in addressing a crisis is to tell people the truth. Only then, can you enlist their understanding and help.

The second key lesson is to show sincere empathy for what people are going through. If they detect insincerity or a self-serving mindset, you will lose their trust.

The third lesson is to do what you can to help people or lessen the dilemma. Do not make matters worse. Not unlike the Hippocratic Oath, a leader should “do no harm.”

Having said these three lessons, it should not be a surprise that Messers. Bolsonaro, Johnson and Trump have failed miserably to address the COVID-19 pandemic and racial injustice crises facing Brazil, United Kingdom and United States.

Jair Bolsonaro has lied to Brazilians from the outset on COVID-19. Several health ministers have resigned because of his ham-handling of the pandemic. And, his country has long had poverty and racial tensions, which go unaddressed.

Boris Johnson was supposedly sitting pretty as the New Year rang in. Yet, not taking the pandemic seriously, he risked not only his health, but others. Now, he is facing backlash from some in his own psrty. Plus, he has been slow to address the racial protests which have hastened with the American police killings.

In the US, Donald Trump also naysayed and downplayed the pandemic even after being apprised of the risk. He continues his misinformation and has put people at risk by pressuring reopening and placing his own followers at risk with scheduled events.

Further, the president’s racist bent has further divided America and he adds fuel to the flames by being tone deaf to the protests.

The similarities of these three men precede their mishandling of these crises. Each are known for being untruthful, populists, and self-centeredness. Bolsonaro is even referred to as the Brazilian Trump. And, like Johnson, Bolsonaro has heightened risk by not following social distancing. And, like Trump, he has embraced a possible cure before it was proven, which remains so.

All three have failed in addresses these crises. Trump ridicules Brazil for its pandemic response, but the US numbers are far worse. Yet, each is doing their best Wizard of Oz impersonation saying “don’t look behind the curtain.” What they fail to realize, even a curtain cannot hide their mistakes.

Wednesday wanderings with a head full of wonderings

As I do a walkabout, thinking deep thoughts along the paths, I wonder about a few things. In no particular order:

If these climate change naysayers believe they are right, what is the downside of moving toward more renewable energy that uses less of our dear water and does not pollute the environment? What is the downside of planting more trees and protecting mangroves in marshes? If they are wrong and we don’t do enough, we cannot reset the clock. From a risk management standpoint, it is beyond foolish. Quoting the conservative former prime minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull, he refers to the beliefs of the naysayers in his own party as “idiotic.” I should add a key reason I left the Republican party in 2007 was its stance on climate change.

The UK decided to forego sending its bigwigs to a global security conference in Munich last week. It is not surprising the level of pushback they received from other attendees and fellow Brits. Regardless of Brexit, that global security thing is a tad important. Call me crazy, but when you go it alone, it becomes more important to make sure the country is secure. I have long worried about Brexit and I do not have a great deal of confidence in those leading the country to do what is needed to govern these issues. I hope it goes better than I fear.

Of course, having just said the above, I don’t have a great deal of confidence in those leading the US efforts either. I would love to trust the US president, but I find it hard to do so given his track record of corruption and deceit before and after the election. What the president is doing now is no different than how he has always operated, he is just on a bigger stage. I think we should put the onus on the followers of the president asking them to convince us why we should not believe the incumbent is the most corrupt and deceitful president in my lifetime, which includes Richard Nixon, who was crook.

Many years ago, I believed the US Congressional leadership was privy to the best information to make informed choices. Sadly, I do not believe that to be true. The information may be there, but I see a terrible tendency to listen to much less informed opinion hosts and, even worse, conspiracy peddlers. When Obama was president, Senator Ted Cruz pushed a conspiracy theory that Obama was taking over Texas, when he knew the military was merely doing exercises. Rather than be a leader, Cruz became part of the problem.

Yesterday, Senator Tom Cotton pushed a conspiracy theory that China invented the coronavirus as a weapon, without any proof. We already must contend with an untruthful president who listens to conspiracy theories. He was even impeached over a discredited theory being pushed by the Russians, but he is still pitching it, not having learned his lesson. “60 Minutes” even noted Sunday night that Trump refers to an Ukraine owned entity in his conspiracy discourse, but the entity is actually owned by US investors with no Ukrainian involvement. Sadly, the president’s lying is par for the course. Back to my earlier point, why not trust the president? He needs to give me reasons to do so.

Well, the walkabout at least gives me exercise, even though it does not permit me to solve any problems. We need people in position of leadership to act like leaders. At the very minimum, they should tell the truth more than they do not. As for the US president, taking him at his word is a fool’s errand.