Here, there and everywhere

A lesser known Beatles’ song penned by Lennon/ McCartney was on the Revolver album – “Here, there and everywhere.” Using this song as a title to a potpourri post seemed appropriate. In no particular order:

A stark difference in the reactions to briefings that Russia is continuing to meddle in our elections was provided this week. Senator Bernie Sanders told Putin to back off, while the president of the United States fired the acting director of the Department of National Intelligence. Former Senator John McCain said in an editorial after Trump’s kowtowing to Trump in Helsinki, that he never thought he would witness a US president taking the word of a Russian leader over that of his own intelligence people. He still is. I have shared with multiple senators for many months that we have a national security risk in the White House. His name is Donald Trump.

Wells Fargo was fined $3 billion for their actions that led to the fraudulent creation of accounts and the failure to address these issues. They had been fined hundreds of millions earlier, but they still did not realize the severity of their screw up. Something this big is traceable to the top, whether it is explicit or implicit. Implicit means they created an environment that tolerated such bad behavior.

After yet another hate inspired mass shooting, this time in Germany, it troubles me that our leaders here are not condemning this in the harshest terms as German Chancellor Angela Merkel has done. Bigotry has to be carefully taught, so the only way to teach its counterpart is to condemn bigotry again and again as wrong. Our president fails to understand this point.

On the good side, the Taliban, Afghani and US negotiators are headed for an agreement which may end hostilities and allow for the exit of more US troops. Mistrust on all sides abounds, but let’s wish for a tangible and sustainable agreement.

Finally, from mythology, people who got too close to Medusa were either shot by arrow or turned into stone. US Attorney General is realizing now he has gotten to close to Medusa damaging his reputation. So, unless he leaves the building, he will end up being shot by the proverbial arrow or turned to proverbial stone. I guess the snakes are hiding in the combover.

Have a great rest of your weekend.

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.

Brexit, Trump and Putin

A US Senate Intelligence report released Monday notes Russian meddling in the 2016 election is far worse than imagined and continues to this day. This is not news, as this conclusion has been obvious for some time. Yet, seeing an official report gives it more gravitas.

But, it goes much further than influencing a division in American politics. Putin wants to divide and conquer all western democracies. Why? A de-unified western world is far easier for Russia to take advantage of. This is what Putin has done for most of his career dating back to when he first started with the KGB.

Which brings us to Brexit. Trump benefitted from Russian efforts, being involved far more than he lets on, but is it as far as what I believe to be true that he is a compromised asset?  I also believe Putin had a hand in a disinformation campaign leading up to a favorable Brexit vote.

To be frank, just as Trump was involved to some extent with Russian meddling, I would not be surprised if Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson had some level of involvement with such a campaign on behalf of Brexit. I feel both men stirred up the Brexit pot and then bailed when the difficult work began. My guess is they want to ride in white horses to save the day, when things look so bleak.

This a key reason, I believe another Brexit vote is warranted. The British people were just as misled as the US people. I recognize fully linking Russian meddling with Johnsoh (he has been critical of Russia on the spy poisoning) and Farage is a less than reasonable claim. Yet, claiming Russia hard a hand in things, like they have done so in every important European vote, is not.

So, Prime Minister call for another Brexit vote and this time make sure it uses real data. It is that important.

Sunday seasoning

Sunday is a good day to simmer something slowly in the crock pot. With judicious seasoning, the aroma permeates the house until dinner time. Now that I made you hungry for pot roast or stew, here are a few seasonings to sample.

It is nice to see Tiger Woods competing for The Open Championship at the northern most venue in the world at Carnoustie in Scotland. For more than a decade, Woods was more successful than any other golfer in history. Unfortunately, injuries and personal issues derailed him from more major victories that would help him overtake the impressive record of Jack Nicklaus. It is good to see him back on the leaderboard.

The unraveling continues with the US President. Not only did he bully his allies, he appeared very weak in the face of Vladimir Putin. What should not be lost is by throwing his intelligence people and country under the bus, he has made even more Americans believe he may be compromised by the Russians. It has been reported that we may see some more departures from his White House, as it is quite apparent, he will throw anyone under the bus to save face.

The best feel good story of the year has been the rescue of the Thai youth soccer team. What should not be understated is the significant amount of cross country collaboration and reliance on people who had expertise to figure out the best path forward. To me, this is an exemplar as the antithesis of Donald Trump’s “go-it-alone and I-know-best” approach. Collaboration is hard work, but when nurtured and seasoned can do wondrous things.

In this same vein, another large ego, Elon Musk, showed his disappointment that the Thai rescue crew did not use Musk’s expensive technology based idea. To his credit, Musk has done wonderful things for the world and wanted to help. Yet, I mention this as the most elegant solution is not always the most sophisticated one. The term “elegant” is used in computer programming to mean the easiest and most effective solution. In this case, the safest solution was arrived at after much debate by people on the ground who were more knowledgeable of the risks.

This reminds me of the story of the child who solved a problem with a delivery truck that was just a tad to tall for an overpass it tried to go under. Everyone was stymied at what to do. After much discussion, a child who had been watching opined that they should let enough air out of the tires to lower the truck and they could drive it out. Now, that is elegant. It also worked.

Stating the obvious

The last week and three days have been a whirlwind for our country and the US President. I am both incredulous and stunned at how the events and verbiage spilled out. Let me state the obvious.

The US reputation around the world is in tatters, with many allied leaders saying and thinking they can no longer trust the word of the US President. Some have said we must prepare to move forward without the US. It should be noted the EU and Japan just inked a trade deal yesterday. And, Germany is increasing its business relationship in China.

This has been happening for some time, but the President’s sojourn included the following lowlights:

– He belittled the German chancellor and country once again, this time for doing business with Russia. This is ironic as Trump wants to do more business with Russia.
– He bullied NATO and questioned its veracity. How about seventy years of no major European conflict Mr. President? Even when he has a point, his overbearing manner is both offputting and insulting.
– He insulted his host in the UK, Prime Minister Theresa May, in a recorded interview. Then, when questioned, he did not accept accountability saying it was fake news. The news organization stood by its story.
– He then met with the Russia President after an indictment was issued by Robert Mueller’s team for twelve Russians for meddling in our election. To make matters worse, he not only sided with the Russians on Putin’s defiance, he said Americans were to blame, in particular Democrats and the media. He threw his intelligence folks under the bus and like most bullies, he appeared weak in the heat of the moment.
– He then returned home and faced heat from his own party and a cadre of Fox News presenters for denying his intelligence people’s findings. He tried to weasel out of the mess, by saying he misspoke focusing on one line. But, he did not correct several other sentences where he sided with the Russians and even threw in that others also may be culpable, which also differs from the intelligence community’s findings.

Overall, this was as shameful a performance by a President that I have ever witnessed. It was worse than I expected. Specific to the Putin press conference, Senator John McCain called it disgraceful. Other Republican legislators chimed in with varying degrees of criticism.

I do walk away convinced of three major points. I have no doubt that Trump is guilty of more than obstruction of justice with respect to the Russian meddling. I believe he is a compromised asset as he is aiding and abetting Putin’s long term strategy of diminishing NATO and the US relationship with our allies.

I also am convinced that global leaders clearly see this man for his lying, bullying and lack of accountability. My guess is they talk among themselves and to other leaders in the US about working around this man.

Finally, I am convinced that most of his staff believe what Rex Tillerson was reported to say about this man last year. My guess is more departures will occur, as he is not listening to their advice and they have to cover for the scorched earth he leaves in his wake.