Beware of folks – a few quick lessons taught us by the books on the former president

There are many books about the former president, both before, during and after his presidency. Some have been written by excellent authors who have done their homework. There are lessons to be gleaned on how not to act which need to be highlighted.

Beware of folks who claim all criticism is fake news or from sources who just don’t like them. These are a toddler’s response to mom finding her child’s hand in the cookie jar. “Mom, that is fake news.”

Beware of folks who cannot articulate a point of view without name-calling or labeling something. That is like defining the ingredients from the name on the jar. It is a short-cut to arguing and an attempt to mask a lack of understanding.

Beware of folks who take credit for all things good, even if their role was small or nonexistent, and blame others for all things bad, even if they had a heavy hand in things. A leadership consultant used that phrase often to define how to spot a leader.

Beware of folks who need fixers or sycophants to rationalize or make problems go away.

Beware of folks who bully other people into acquiescence. There is a name for people like that. A bully.

Beware of folks who have a hard time with the truth. Start with the base of not believing a word they say and then add back when they actually tell the truth on occasion.

Beware of folks who will blame institutions of people as scapegoats for their failings. Institutions are not perfect, but they tend to be served by hard working people who are more trustworthy than politicians.

Beware of people who refuse to be accountable for their actions. It is my fault or I could have done better will go a long way.

Focus on doing your job, not keeping your job

I think many of us are tired of the gamesmanship that is going on in the halls of government. Both sides do it, but for a long while the former Republican Party has embraced untruths and even conspiracies as talking points. It used to be politicians would run off rhetoric, but govern more off facts. Now, facts are deemed less utile.

I want to say to people like Senator Ted Cruz or Lindsey Graham, it is OK for us to disagree on policy issues, but you are a Senator of the United States of America. I expect you to tell the truth, nothing less. You do disservice to our country when you do not and abet others who do the same.

Our problems are hard enough to solve when we deal with facts, but nigh impossible when Senators, Governors, Representatives just parrot BS, because someone told them they better. This is especially true when the one telling them to do so has such a fragile ego that painful truths must remain untold or white washed. Or, when truth tellers do share the truth, they need to be respected not vilified for not going along with party political messaging.

We need to hold our legislators (note I avoid the word leaders) to account to address problems and not political gain. We need these legislators to focus more on doing their job than keeping their job. The word leader applies to legislators that can do that and not those who see which way the political winds are blowing. And, it certainly does not apply to a person whose decisions try to protect a fragile, enormous ego.

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