Let’s be different and call it an Orange Friday

Black Friday started as a day of shopping for others, but has turned into a month long inventory close out event for personal shoppers. Oh, a few gifts are bought, as well. I have never cared for Black Friday, so when we visited my grandparents for Thanksgiving, I would always take my cousin and sister to a movie on Black Friday. It was a lot quieter then.

So, rather than call it Black Friday, let’s call it Orange. As per the show about women in prison, “Orange is the new black.” I am not saying we are all prisoners of the retail engine, but we should just use a more fun color and do something different. Orange is brighter and more vibrant.

In our family, we have a larger dinner gathering with multiple siblings and cousins where we can knock out more leftovers after our smaller Thanksgiving meals. Yes, I will be eating more today. So, more hiking, Yoga and Pilates will be required.

A few odds and ends for this Orange Friday are as follows:

In Alaska, the votes are tallied and the results are favorable. Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski, one of the few Republicans with the courage to stare down and call out the deceitful actions of the former president, won her Senate race. And, Native Alaskan and Democrat Mary Peltola won her Congressional seat defeating former governor and vice president candidate Sarah Palin. It should be noted the former president endorsed the opposition in both races, so this adds two more to the tally of failed candidates under his purview.

In Oakland, a new mayor was voted in named Sheng Thao, a progressive who defeated the moderate Loren Taylor. What proves interesting is Thao was at one time a homeless person after a split up from her abusive husband fifteen years ago. Plus, she is the first woman of Hmong descent to ever be elected mayor. Her parents were refugees.

I find these two sets of stories very compelling. To me, they show more glimmers of hope that Democracy can survive when too many folks are trying to bully, lie and cheat their way into office. It is not surprising that outgoing Brazil president Jair Bolsonaro is contending his election loss (this was an easy prediction of a few weeks ago), nor is it surprising that Kari Lake won’t concede her Arizona governor race loss, even though the existing Republican governor is welcoming incoming Democrat winner Katie Hobbs. Both Lake and Bolsonaro like to emulate the former US president and his penchant for tossing the checkerboard when he loses.

So, let’s celebrate an Orange Friday. Enjoy your families, enjoy the day and enjoy that the candidates who emulate the orange hair guy did not win.

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Monday meanderings – October 3, 2022

I hope you had a great weekend and stayed safe. Ours was a little soggy here with the remnants of Ian.  Here are just a few meanderings on this October Monday morning.

A letter to the editor from a self-professed MAGA Republican noted how he hated RINOs and liked GOP Congressman Madison Cawthorn because he spoke his mind. It should be noted Cawthorn lost his primary in the spring. I am all for speaking one’s mind, but you need to have something of value to say. Like his peers Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, etc. his problem is saying stuff that is simply not true. If people want to be taken seriously, they need to be serious-minded. The truth would help.

Per an article in Rawstory called “Unhinged, deranged Trump may be a danger to himself and others: GOP Strategist” “During an appearance on CNN’s ‘State of the Union,’ Republican Party campaign consultant Scott Lennings launched a brutal attack on Donald Trump over his threatening social media post that claimed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has, as Trump put it, a ‘DEATH WISH.’ During the panel discussion on Sunday morning, Jennings, who is close to McConnell, claimed if you heard someone like the former president rant like that on the street, you’d call the authorities at 911 before they hurt someone. Asked about the Truth Social attack, Jennings replied, ‘It’s hard to know where to start, with the assassination instructions or the blatant racism.'”

In AP article called “Brazil’s Bolsonaro and the right outperform, defying polls,” “Jair Bolsonaro considerably outperformed expectations in Brazil’s presidential election, proving that the far-right wave he rode to the presidency remains a force and providing the world with yet another example of polls missing the mark. The most-trusted opinion polls had indicated leftist former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was far out front, and potentially even clinching a first-round victory. One prominent pre-election poll gave da Silva a 14 percentage point lead. In the end, Bolsonaro surprised to the upside and came within just 5 points. He will face da Silva in a high-stakes Oct. 30 presidential runoff.”

Between what happened in Italy and what is happening in the UK, I am not seeing a lot of evidence of good governance from the more extreme right politicians. In Australia during the summer, conservatives where swept out of office due to climate change inaction and not addressing paid time off and women’s rights issues. In the UK, Liz Truss may be one of the shortest tenured Prime Ministers after a series of very poor decisions and poor communications.

Bolsonaro is the Southern Hemisphere’s version of the former US president and that is not meant as a compliment. His modus operandi of bullying, lying and denigration would make Trump proud. Regardless of politics, in my view, no truly elected official should act in this manner. They serve the people, not the other way around. And, they certainly don’t threaten people and sic their more strident allies on the targets.

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.

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.

Brazil, Russia and America – tell tale signs

Three countries that have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic are Brazil, Russia and America. A key similarity is their three leaders down-played the pandemic. And, Messers. Jair Bolsonaro, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump continue their misinformation to this day.

A pandemic expert who participated in a Bush task force on pandemics, said mission one is to tell people the truth. He noted Singapore remained opened, but the leaders told people the truth, told them what they needed to do with social distancing, wearing masks, washing hands, testing, and tracing, and because of being truthful, people did what they were asked. Singapore has had a far better handle on this than these three countries.

In an article in The HuffPost called “Brazil is the new epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic” by Travis Waldron, the following quote jumps off the screen, “Bolsonaro’s denial and incompetence have led to a predictable surge in cases.” Brazil has had national two health directors resign in the last two months over differences with the Bolsonaro who has been encouraging gatherings and shaking hands in public. Brazil has roughly 7% of the global COVID-19 cases and deaths.

In Russia, Vladimir Putin has also downplayed not only the virus, but has made sure the numbers are watered down. While publishing 7% of the global COVID-19 cases, the deaths have been published at only 1%. Per a Time article, “Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin admitted on May 7, the real number of infections in the capitol city was at least three times higher than the official figure.” Putin’s folks deny that the number fudging is happening. But, we should never forget how leaders in the predecessor Soviet Union denied the massive problem of the Chernobyl meltdown.

Not to be outdone, the US leads the way. With about 5% of the global population, the US has over 31% of the COVID-19 cases. The US president actually said this was a “badge of honor” due to our testing. Yet, we have not done near enough testing and people getting sick is not a badge of honor. Further, we have 28% of the reported global deaths. From the outset, the president naysayed, downplayed, even said the Democrats were making this into a hoax. The misinformation continues to this day with false bravado, failing to push national interventions on masks and testing, not wearing a mask, promoting cures, citing incorrect data and even stating we should try to ingest disinfectant. But, the key is we missed 6 weeks of planning to prepare ourselves and that failing rests on the shoulders of the person we needed to be presidential.

Fortunately, governors of both political parties have made more fact based decisions based on their states. And, for the most part, the American people have come together to help each other. The governors who have tried to follow the president’s lead, find themselves risking their populations more than they should. And, one that tried to read the president’s mind, found himself criticized by the president when the public reacted negatively. The sad truth is the US president’s mission one is not telling the truth – it never has been on any issue – it is to make himself look good and win the reelection. When someone makes decisions based on errant goals, the problem will continue.

The hard truth is COVID-19 will linger with us for some time and will spike again in cases and deaths. Some of that uptick is occurring now in areas. COVID-19 cares not about geography or party. The president is not incorrect when he says more testing increases the number of detected cases, but that is only part of the story. The more people gather together, the pandemic will rear its ugly head and increase occurrences. We must be smart about how we interact with society and others in the many months ahead. And, we need people in leadership positions to tell the truth.

Too often we miss the point

Between tribal politics and some media too aligned with tribes, we miss the key points. Examples are in abundance.

On the Greenland issue, the issue is not wanting to buy Greenland, which other presidents have voiced. The issue is how it was raised. The president was scheduled to visit Denmark. The time and place to broach the subject was face-to-face. And, if the answer was no, the president could have been prepared to discuss a joint investment. All of this could have been done without offending a key ally.

Brazilian president Jari Bolsonaro has decided that the burning Amazon is not good for optics. Yet, the concern is it horrible for the planet. Now, he says he will accept the financial help from the G7 if French president Emmanuel Macron apologizes. The planet’s lung is burning – fix the problem. Your ego is secondary.

British prime minister Boris Johnson keeps  saying a no-deal Brexit is manageable. This runs counter to what CEOs are saying. Don’t tell us it is, tell us what you plan to do to mitigate the problems. The point is Brexit is a huge undertaking and it continues to appear the UK government is ill-equipped to address this. So, until Johnson is more forthcoming, Brits should  be skeptical. Suspending parliament is an autocratic move, the US president would envy.

Oh, Prince Andrew. You can say you did not do what you have been accused, but footage of you seems to betray your words. Jeffrey Epstein was someone you should not have been around. The fact two famous womanizers – Bill Clinton and Donald Trump – did so does not help your argument. The point is why do important men believe they can treat people like they own them and get away with it? Sadly, until the people who aid, abet and hide these crimes stop, these high powered men will continue to do so.

Finally, why is the US president such an errand boy for Russia? Here is a country that attacked the US to influence the election and is continuing to do so. They are denying travel visas to members of Congress which has Congress in a bipartisan uproar. So, the president is insistent that Russia rejoin the G7 glossing over why they were kicked out. Why is Trump so rewarding of Russia? That is the point. A clear message from the Mueller report is the significant level of contact between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

Those are the points that need to be made. And, we need leaders and the better media to step up and make them.

Plain talk

The news is never dull when the world has too many leaders that do not embrace facts to address problems. This is not unique to the US, but is indicative when other fact-challenged leaders are called the British Trump, the Philippino Trump, the South American Trump.

A threat to other countries’ national security is being identified in a country on the other side of the world and other hemisphere. The Amazon rain forest produces 30% of the planet’s oxygen, absorbs huge amounts of carbon and creates countless medicines. Yet, it is burning out of control and more is being harvested when it is not. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, like Trump, says climate change is a hoax and is slow to act on the fires and wants to develop more of the rain forest. This is a major concern. The planet needs more trees, not fewer.

The UK is headed for a trainwreck which makes me incredibly sad. They are unfortunately being led by a man who promises to make Great Britain great again. Financial analysts have said from the outset that Brexit will be dilutive to the British economy. Companies are moving and will move EU headquarters and distribution centers to EU cities like Dublin, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, etc. because of Brexit. And, what would be even worse, in spite of assurances to the contrary by PM Boris Johnson, is a no deal Brexit. Picture semi-trucks lined up on both sides of the borders trying to get through. Picture the Scottish and Northern Irish parliaments taking serious votes for referndums to leave the UK and rejoin the EU.

Italy will be having a new vote after the PM resigned over conflicts with his popular populist number two had created a stir. Snap elections are not conducive to stability. Just ask Theresa May, who made a horrible unforced error, losing a lot of support when she overstated her appeal.

Let me close with the most fact-challenged person in a position of lesdership outside of Putin, Erdogan, Kim and other autocrats, the regal-minded Donald Trump. His former ally and short-lived Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci, has started a group to assure Trump is not reelected saying Trump is “off the rails.” Sadly, I agree with The Mooch.

As Trump’s tariff and trade wars push the global and US ecomomy closer to recession right when the ten plus year old growth market is feeling its age, he is blaming everyone else. Yet, what he is up against is financial and non-financial news shows consistently referring to the dampening impact of the Trump tariffs and trade wars as a cause and concern.

These increasing temper tantrums (let’s call them what they are) fail to recognize the role he has played in this with poor decision-making and lying to support such. It was reported by two insiders yesterday that Trump was surprised by China’s response that morning. Really? So, the person in the White House is barking orders and calling the Fed Chair a greater enemy than Xi.

Harry Truman’s words “the buck stops here,” are words that we are unlikely to hear from this president. And, if you ever wonder what a narcissist is worried about, a key trait is to blame others with their own faults.