If you don’t add value…

Just because someone is in a leadership position does not make them a leader, in and of itself. We are witnessing in real-time what leadership looks like and does not look like.

On the former, the president-elect has been inclusive, hopeful and unifying in his speeches. He said the major issue of the moment is the pandemic noting we cannot recover our economy without addressing the increasing cases and deaths. He has already announced a team to address these issues and given Americans straightforward advice about masks, social distancing and doing what is needed in advance of the vaccine.

On the latter, we have an incumbent president who I have never concluded was a leader, given his self-serving, untruthful, demeaning and bullying actions. After saying we should give him a chance after the 2016 election (as we should do with any president), it took less than a week for him to start burning that misplaced trust. A democratically elected leader does not act that way – an autocratic one does. Long ago I wrote that if the president cannot add value when he talks or tweets, he needs to stop talking or tweeting.

When a person in a leadership position does not add value or is untruthful, they start getting ignored. When you say inane or untruthful things, the speaker turns people off. Since the 2020 election, the incumbent is doing what many (including me) expected him to do – claim victory early on, claim fraud when the votes come in, and contest the election. He has been setting the stage for these actions for many months.

It should be noted that major news networks have cut away twice, once from the president and once from his PR person, when they started saying unsupported claims of wide-scale fraud. Think about what that says. Cutting away may be one of the biggest insults a president could get. In essence, the networks are saying if this is what you are going to talk about, then we have better things to do. It is like the crazy uncle at the Thanksgiving table – you just stop listening to him.

On the night of the election when the president claimed victory, he was vilified by more than several news people saying he cannot make that claim and is inflaming the situation. Chris Wallace of Fox News was one of those people. Even Republican leaders called the president “reckless and irresponsible.” Yet, he still has his sycophants who support this incredibly untruthful narcissist.

Now, I read that foreign leaders are giving the president the cold shoulder. That speaks volumes as well. The difference between these two candidates is staggering. One is being a leader, while the other is being, well whatever he wants. The story on the latter has gotten real tiresome. And, people are voting with their feet.

Keep calm and be patient

The election for president is still being determined, so anyone declaring victory at this point is premature. I was hoping to avoid a situation where the president did what he did early this morning – declare victory, insist the counting be stopped and crying foul in the process.

This is the worst outcome that could have occurred, giving a window to the corrupt and deceitful president to be, well, corrupt and deceitful. The people on the ground are trying to get it right, doing what the president fails to do – their job in a competent and honest fashion.

It should be noted Fox News host Chris Wallace and former Republican governor Chris Christie have both chastised Trump for his premature celebration. The outcome is still unknown, with Michigan and Pennsylvania having around 25% or more of their counts outstanding. Wisconsin is leaning narrowly Biden’s way, with absentee ballots in two Democrat leaning towns left to count.

Nevada is also leaning Biden’s way, but still has more counts left. In fact, if Biden carries Nevada, Wisconsin and Michigan, that will put him at 270 votes, without counting Pennsylvania. I don’t know the hold-ups in North Carolina and Georgia, but those look like Trump wins.

Frankly, I was hoping to avoid this being so close. I am disappointed in my home state of North Carolina and surprised how Ohio and Florida went. Trump is doing what he was expected to do, even after lying and saying he would not until the votes are counted. His illicit actions over the last six months having been staging for this very moment.

So, if he ends up winning after the votes are all counted then he wins. Yet, we still are in the fourth quarter of this election, so we need to stay calm and be patient.

From a retired federal employee

In the letters to the editor in my local newspaper was the following letter. It speaks for itself, but I will make one comment following the letter.

“As a retired federal employee with over 34 years of service during the administrations of eight presidents of both political parties, I want to offer my heartfelt thanks to the millions of current federal employees across the country and around the world for your work on behalf of all of us.

Never in my experience have I seen such disdain from a president and his administration for federal employees, calling them “idiots,” “a disaster,” and otherwise demeaning service.

Federal employees deserve better than that, and I am here to just say thanks for your service.

Any boss who treats federal employees the way the current president does should not be the boss.”

This is well said. In Michael Lewis’ well researched book “The Fifth Risk” which looks at what these federal employees actually do and how the current administration did not take much time at all to learn what they do and the heightened risks as a result, he noted the following theme. The deep state (as these folks are often called) are the people who actually know what they are talking about.

Narcissism and pandemic misleading

The following is a brief letter I sent to my newspaper. Please feel free to adapt and use. Note I softened the last line from the word that I think best defines the actions – sociopathic.

The revelation the president admitted he knew of the pandemic risk, while misleading us, downplaying it and calling it a hoax, is troubling. Epidemiologists and historians have noted mission one in pandemics is tell people the truth, then they are prone to follow healthy safety directions. When we needed leadership, he passed and decided not to create a panic, which is absurd and deadly.

Help me understand, what kind of person holds several rallies without caution, knowing the virus is air borne, putting his most faithful fans at risk just to garner applause? This is beyond narcissism, in my view.

The nonpartisan Concord Coalition on the absent relief package

The Concord Coalition is a nonpartisan group that researches and educates on the US deficit and debt problems. The following was in my inbox from that group and it speaks for itself.

“The following is written from the perspective of Concord Coalition Policy Director, Tori Gorman.

Avid readers of The Lookout will notice that my missive today is unlike any of my previous entries. If you are accustomed to the colorful charts and technical policy analyses that usually accompany my posts, my sincerest apologies. Those features will return, but today’s post is from the heart.

Last week I fully anticipated that I would be spending my waking hours prior to publication of this newsletter buried in legislative text, frantically distilling the latest coronavirus relief package from Congress for our readers. Instead, I find myself staring at an empty desk while federal officials jet home for their sacrosanct August recess. Why? Because despite over 160,000 Americans dead from COVID-19, a record-setting decline in economic activity, over 31 million people collecting some form of unemployment, and millions of children unable to return to school, lawmakers refused to compromise.

Unconscionable.

Each side has expressed support for another pandemic relief bill and each side has tendered their initial offer. The House-passed HEROES Act would spend another $3.4 trillion whereas the Senate Republican package of proposals would spend closer to $1.2 trillion. Clearly there is plenty of playing field in between to reach agreement.

On what planet is an acceptable outcome ZERO?

To add insult, on August 8, President Trump announced with great flourish a series of toothless executive memoranda from the ballroom of his eponymous Bedminster golf club – actions that will have virtually no effect except to make any further negotiations more difficult: A payroll tax proposal that neither side in Congress supports, a pseudo-unemployment insurance scheme virtually no state can navigate nor afford, an eviction ‘moratorium’ that isn’t, and student loan action that could have been, and should have been, more robust.

At some point in our political history ‘compromise’ became a dirty word. Somewhere it became acceptable in an election year for Congress to punt the people’s work until the November results were known. In today’s environment, however, where twin crises are leaving a trail of death and destruction, it is imperative that lawmakers rise above the low expectations they champion, return to Washington, and do the work they were elected to do.

Americans deserve no less.”

What the president has fashioned with executive orders is beyond his authority. Congress has the purse strings given to them by the Constitution. What the president has proposed is unworkable in parts and unwieldy in others. But, again we are not an autocracy and Congress needs to do its job.

What I also find interesting is the president’s executive order did not include a price tag on debt impact. I have done some back of the envelope calculations and it is likely nearer the $1.2 trillion GOP figure, if it is not extended, but we just do not know. I also feel that cutting FICA taxes will be harmful to Social Security and Medicare, at a time when they need more funding not less.

Yet, what no one has done is calculate what we need to do, including all three parties, the Senate, the House and White House. The House at least passed a bill on May 15, but the Senate could not bring themselves to debate and vote until the bewitching hour. Frankly, that is poor leadership by Senator Mitch McConnell and the president. Crisis planning is often not the best of planning.

You would think our so-called leaders could take the time to do some homework. But, what do I know?

A few wanderings on this Wednesday

My mind is wandering this morning searching for a topic that I can write more than a few words. I feel I have written too much about “he who shall not be named,” but when you live in a largely ungoverned country, it does cause consternations. So, in no particular order, here are a few thoughts:

– I am pleased with Joe Biden’s selection of Senator Kamala Harris as a running mate. She is experienced, credentialed, and brings a lot to the ticket. One can tell that “he who shall not be named” is scared, because the name calling has already started. As for those who feel she is not the perfect choice, there is no such thing.

– I had a call from a staff member of my GOP Congressman. He said he was sharing my letter I posted with the Congressman. We had a good call, but it told me the staff screens all emails, so the elected official only sees a few. The email is summarized in the link to an earlier post. I encourage you to speak to or email Senators and your Congressperson to get them to act on a COVID-19 deal, which is the right way to govern.

– On the subject of not governing, the incumbent Senator running for reelection in NC is bragging in a commercial on what he has proposed, not done. The Senate has not done a whole lot in his tenure and it appears to have punted their negotiations on a COVID-19 relief bill to the White House, which is not supposed to be how it works.

– When any legislative body does not follow its own processes, take it to the bank, it is political. The processes are there to add rigor and regimen and give citizens comfort. The process for a bill is usually one chamber passes a version, the other chamber passes a version, then they reconcile the differences. Now, people are scared of taking votes that may mean a few of one party joins more of the other party to get legislation. That is not governance – that is retreat.

As I type this, I hear yet another commercial downstairs from said Senator using the word “leadership.” Right now, there is not much leadership going on or governance. We have people in positions of leadership, but using the word “leader” is a bridge too far. That especially applies to “he who shall not be named.” Where is Harry Potter when you need him?

https://musingsofanoldfart.wordpress.com/2020/08/09/brief-letter-to-senators-and-congress-people-sent-saturday-morning/

A speech never given

The following is a speech that would have been given by a real leader back in January, 2020. This speech would have both galvanized America and saved lives. What puzzles is the person who could have given it craves so badly to be viewed as a great leader. This was truly a missed opportunity.

My fellow Americans,

At this moment, our country has not been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. Yet, I have been briefed by our intelligence and CDC folks that we must be ever-vigilant, as pandemics like this know no boundaries. Sadly, it is only a matter of time before this pandemic hits our shores. I do not wish to alarm, only to prepare ourselves.

So, I am authorizing the CDC to work with hospital systems and medical suppliers to ascertain our readiness for the pandemic. What do we need that is not in sufficient supply? How can we best remedy those shortfalls? I am asking Congress and our Governors to set aside their differences and think of solutions that will protect Americans, but keep our jobs and livelihoods from falling prey to the pandemic. With that said, safety must be the foundation of any strategy.

I will also restrict travel from China, and will see if we should consider such from other countries, as well. Travel might still occur, but we must think of identifying and quarantining folks that come from locations where the pandemic is present. We must think of ways to accomplish this and not stymie travel altogether. We must be smart, but we must be safe.

Finally, I will set up a pandemic task team of CDC and other epidemiologists who can help guide us. This is unknown territory, so my commitment to you is to shoot straight with you as we learn more. As we convene and assess this problem further, we will advise you on various strategies to mitigate the pandemic.

Thank you for your support and understanding.
The President of the United States

That is what a real leader might have said.

A voice of wisdom says harsh truths

The following paragraphs are excerpts from the article “A world redrawn: US coronavirus response fatally ‘chaotic,’ says Noam Chomsky” by AFP.

“The United States is on a chaotic path with no federal plan against the coronavirus pandemic as it reduces public health funding and ignores the advances of climate change, according to activist scholar Noam Chomsky, considered the founder of modern linguistics.

Question: How do you read the current situation in the United States, where coronavirus has killed more residents than any other nation in the world?

Answer: There’s no coherent leadership. It’s chaotic. The presidency, the White House, is in the hands of a sociopathic megalomaniac who’s interested in nothing but his own power, electoral prospects — doesn’t care what happens to the country, the world.

The president himself has said that it’s none of his business. He’s said that the federal government can’t do anything.”

The remainder of the article is more of the same, but I encourage you to click on the link below. To be a former business person, the president is not known for planning and execution. He is more known for rash decision-making and untruthful behavior.

After being briefed several times in January by our national intelligence people on the pandemic risk, instead of being the leader we needed, he chose to down play and nay say it, even calling it a hoax and continuing to misinform us still today.

People have died and are dying. The world is horrified by how poorly we have handled this, leading the way with 28% of the global COVID-19 deaths, with only 5% of the global population.

Just yesterday, the president said the increase in number of illnesses and deaths is fake news. Two things. Mr. Trump, that is the kind of response you’d expect from a banana republic dictator. And, Mr. Trump, if you cannot add value, please stop talking. America needs a leader, not what you are doing on a daily basis.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/a-world-redrawn-us-coronavirus-response-fatally-chaotic-says-noam-chomsky/ar-BB14xpRn?ocid=spartandhp

Yet another “disgruntled” former employee

Why is it that people who are critical of the president’s are “losers,” “disasters,” “haters,” “liars” or in some cases “ugly?” The last one he has used a couple of times, implying they are too ugly for Trump to have considered sexually (assaulting is the context). If they are current employees, they are members of the “deep state” out to get him. But, if they are a former employee, “they are disgruntled.” These are all code words for his base to ignore the criticism as it is undue.

Well, one thing is for certain, there are a lot of all of the above folks out there saying critical things. Why is that? Is it easier to believe that everyone else is lying or that a person known for being untruthful is? On Sunday night, “60 Minutes,” will air an interview with another whistleblower, Dr. Rick Bright, who was let go because he did not like the path the president was going down on the COVID-19 response and tried to intervene.

Our country is all about civil discourse. We have the right to question our leaders. Yet, if one of my criticisms got enough airplay to garner his attention, I would be labeled a “loser.” I am far from perfect, but this imperfect person has every right to question the president of the United States. For example:

– Nixon committed a crime and tried to cover it up.
– Carter could have handled the Iran hostage situation better.
– Reagan illegally sold weapons to that same Iran to fund Contra rebels in Central America.
– Bush, the elder, raised taxes after saying he would not.
– Clinton had an affair in the White House and lied about it.
– Bush, the younger, invaded Iraq under false pretenses – there were no WMDs and he knew it.
– Obama drew a red-line which Syria crossed and did not act.

Trump has extorted a foreign country for personal gain, condoned multiple communications with Russia siding with them over US intelligence and lied, bullied and demonized anyone who dare criticizes him. Yet, none of his predecessors have name-called critics like the current incumbent. My grandmother would say, if you name call, it means you have a poor argument.

Take it to the bank, the president and his henchmen will go out of their way to discredit Dr. Bright. Yet, given the many missed opportunities to get ahead of the pandemic risk, we shoud pay attention to someone who knows what it means to criticize the vindictive president. These folks show far more courage than this president reveals.

If we open up too early, get used to these headlines

“Another Smithfield Food plant has been struck by the coronavirus” by Kaelan Deese of The Hill. The following are the first two paragraphs. These headlines will happen regardless of the precautions in the future. Yet, if we open to soon, then they will be quite frequent.

“The Health Department in Bladen County, N.C., confirmed that another Smithfield Foods processing plant reported one or more positive cases of the novel coronavirus.

The department’s director, Teresa Duncan, said agencies both local and national are working to protect public health and ensure the safety of employees while further mitigating the spread of the virus, according to a press release obtained by local outlet WECT.”

I fully understand the need to look for ways to get economic activity going. But, do not let anyone tell you it is safe to go back to work without exposure. That simply is untrue, whether it comes from a protestor or a president. Taking the president at his word is a fool’s errand.

I do suggest masking up and getting take out from your favorite restaurants as a means to help others, provided the restaurant is taking precautions. For places that don’t seem to have their act together, they do not get a return visit for now. Last week, a restaurant had organized curbside service quite well, to the extent that masks and gloves were used and the returned bank cards, pens and clipboards were disinfected. I suggest keeping a bottle of disinfectant in your car, as well.

Be safe. Be socially distant. Be smart. Listen to the truthtellers.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/another-smithfield-food-plant-has-been-struck-by-the-coronavirus/ar-BB12Qua0?ocid=spartandhp