Sharing moments in time…

Posts tagged “politics

Our white house occupant – a month in review


On the 26th of September I published a post called “a simple question” where I attempted to draw a comparison between the presidential candidates in the context of a hiring decision.  I tried to characterize both candidates using hiring criteria that would be applicable to an executive in a company, organization or even the presidency.   I made some judgements and statements about how I thought each would perform in various situations based on their resumes, their experience, and the personal attributes as we knew them at that time.  As the election is over and the new administration has had a month in office I thought it might be interesting to revisit what I had said then vs the experience to date.  In the paragraphs below I will recount what I said in that previous post vs what has happened since the inauguration.

…… would you hire an “outsider” with no applicable experience or track record and a questionable (at best) and undocumented record in their own business?

 His actions and statements to date (both verbal and twitter) continue to show no depth, lack focus on meaningful issues and give no indication of being able to accomplish things within the structure and laws of the three branches of government.  In the meantime, he continues to hide any detail of his prior experience which might indicate his level of competence, his character (and sanity),  or his potential conflicts of interest.  The chaos and dysfunction that he spreads appear contagious even to more experienced or seasoned people…..

…. would you hire the candidate who overly simplifies the issues leading to impractical or ineffective strategies, brags about successes not related to the issues, and who cannot even understand your detailed questions about your specific issues?

We now have evidence from his executive orders that he is more concerned about the appearance of satisfying campaign promises then he is about effective governance.  The immigrant ban was poorly written and not staffed and has now been sucessfully challenged in the courts.   His lack of understanding of the issues has led to him retract his initial position on the one China policy (without any concessions from China), embarrassed himself to other world leaders (START discussion with Putin, Wall payment with Mexico, immigrant agreement with Australia), and makes it impossible for him to address ANY issue in more than a one sentence soundbite.

…. would you hire the candidate who is critical and disparaging towards your company without understanding your work environment or the vast diversity of your customer base both domestically and across the globe?

Trump has attacked virtually every aspect of the Executive Branch (Cabinet level departments and Agencies) and even the Judiciary (those “so-called Judges”).  The Departments must be thrilled with the prospect of being led by people who have stated their intent to abolish them (even though they had no idea what was done there – e.g. Rick Perry).  The nominee for the Supreme court vacancy uses words like demoralising and disheartening to describe Trump’s comments on the Judiciary.  The demonstrations around the globe reflect the damage he has done in a month to our relations with friends and allies.  In addition, his choice of using the CIA wall of heroes to discuss “important issues” like crowd sizes and TV ratings (and a similar performance in front of DoD memorials in the Pentagon) show a tone-deafness and total lack of understanding of the sacrifices others have made for this country.

……would you hire the candidate who sees diversity as an impediment?

So far, his cabinet and advisor selections seem to be based on their loyalty to the Donald and the size of their portfolio rather than competence.  He did have one day when he was checking a limited number of diversity boxes (e.g.  Ben Carson, Betsy De Los) versus choosing a qualified candidate.  His Executive Order on Muslims and the deportation of non-violent long-term resident immigrants (for being undocumented) don’t inspire confidence in his approach to terrorism or immigration.  His incredible ignorance of Frederick  Douglas and his accomplishments (“he’s doing a great job”) was an embarrassment at the celebration of Black History month.  Add to that the total lack of outreach to anyone outside of his immediate supporters and it paints a very poor picture of his vision for the entire country vs. just Trump country.

Would you hire the candidate who may not be the most likeable but can perform the duties of the position, or would you hire the candidate who brags about successes (without proof of those successes) who is likely to alienate both your workers and your customers?

Probably his greatest “success” to date has been to renegotiate with the Carrier corporation to save a few hundred jobs in Indiana.  The cost of that success was millions of dollars of tax breaks in Indiana which the company has stated that it will use to further automate their factory at the cost of additional jobs.  Mr T  also seems to have a habit of praising the audience he is talking to while ignoring the past very negative comments he has made about that very same group.  He of course denies anything negative he might have said even though it is in writing on his Twitter feed or on video.  He is also already bragging about the cost savings he negotiated on the F-35 program – a cost reduction that had been negotiated by the DoD over many months prior to his involvement/election.  

Would you hire the candidate whose extensive open record contains many accomplishments but also a few highly public mistakes or would you hire the candidate who has taken all possible steps to keep his or her record a complete secret (even from those he intends to serve -the voters)?

Despite continued calls for visibility (including over 600,000 signatures on a white house petition) of his tax and business information, he continues to insist “no-one is interested” and disregards the concept that he now works for “the people” vs the other way around.  He has resisted providing even the same level of documentation that EVERY other senior government employee must provide for ethics evaluation.  In addition, he flaunts his disrespect for those ethics rules by holding international events at his properties, and even has his subordinates endorsing his family businesses (a clear violation of the law).  Every one of his decisions should be examined for the potential effects of his conflicts of interest – this will still be an issue at every turn.

…. would you hire the candidate who brags of instantaneous and miraculous results with no substantiation of approach and who may present a dangerous threat to your company due to conflicts with your long established company values and morality?

He has stated that the immediate impact of his immigration ban would be an improvement in National security against radical islamic terror – while there is no validated instance of a terrorist act from a US immigrant from those countries.  In addition, the vast majority of security experts point to a long term danger of his policy by providing an effective recruiting tool for ISIS and other terror organizations.  One can only suppose that is one reason why the SECDEF was not briefed on the order until the signing was underway.  We will be feeling the repercussions of this impulsive policy for decades.  The “American dream” as a beacon to the rest of the world has been badly tarnished.

….  would you hire the candidate who is likely to be angered, threatened, and/or take an adverse situation as a personal affront?

A man driven to anger by crowd sizes, imaginary voter fraud, and even negative sales reports for his daughter’s clothing lines is not exactly my model for a crisis manager.   His knee-jerk reaction to the Mexican President’s canceled visit was to propose tariffs on all Mexican imports – something that would cost the American taxpayer and also encourage further migration to the US.  Hopefully, cooler heads will advise him but it is not clear who he listens to outside of his immediate family and shadow president Bannon  – not exactly comforting.  His reaction to the current NSA resignation and continuing investigation is to question the leaks that identified the issue rather than address the security implications of the contacts.  It is telling that a president (and party) that made the potential and inadvertent exposure of classified information such a campaign theme is now downplaying the actual and deliberate release of sensitive information to Russia.

Would you hire the candidate that is likely to hire key personnel (eg. Supreme Court Justices) who have a proven history of dedication to the values of your company, customers, and other constituents or, would you hire the candidate who would blindly listen to supporters of a minority of your interested parties independent of likely issues/impacts to be addressed?

While Mr Trump has stated (even on the day of Gen. Flynn’s resignation) that he has assembled the world’s most wonderful group of staff and advisors, the hearings demonstrated a group with questionable backgrounds, lack of knowledge, and existing and potential future conflicts of interest.  At least the nominee for the Labor Secretary, who had a terrific resume of opposing every labor initiative, was withdrawn due to a lack of support as I was writing this…..   It is also apparent that the administration plans to support only the Trump base supporters and ignore the majority of Americans who voted against him or who are now protesting his policies.  If his support continues to dwindle (as it has already started), it is very likely that he will blame everyone but himself in what becomes and increasingly insular and dangerous core group of supporters.  He started a war with the credible media from his first day in office and has only escalated his demonstrably false disinformation campaigns through his official spokespersons and his own twitter accounts.  This cannot end well….

Would you hire the candidate whose experiences demonstrate support for your workers wellbeing or would you hire the candidate with a history of sacrificing his commitments to his workers in favor of his own personal balance sheet/reputation?

While the federal workforce is always an easy target, most administrations learn that it serves vital purposes for our country.  This administration runs the risk of driving the competence out of the bureaucracy through its continuous disparaging remarks and actions (hiring freezes, etc).

Would you hire the candidate who has significant experience in making life or death decisions when necessary or would you hire the candidate who puts everything, including human life and decency in profit and loss terms?

After the recent mission in Yemen, it was heartening to hear Sen McCain remind the “president” that no mission can be called a success  when there are American lives lost – something the “Commander in Chief” seemed to have overlooked.  He also seemed to have no regret or remorse about the loss of civilian lives during the firefight – including women and children.  There is a difference between taking a strong stance and showing no compassion – but that is one more thing that he does not appear to understand.

Would you hire the candidate who is cautious in describing sensitive issues which might affect your company and/or its competitors or would you hire the candidate who praises your competitors while berating your own company and its leadership?

The continuing courtship with Russia and Putin continues to baffle and concern just about all expert observers.  His choices for top advisors seem to aggravate those concerns.  The actions of his National Security Advisor have led to his resignation less than a month into his term!  Even though Gen. Flynn’s action may have been against the law, Mr Trump is more concerned about the leaks than any wrongful action by one of his “Best and Brightest” advisors.  

Would you hire a candidate who could be a source of inspiration to others or would you hire the candidate who is just as likely to be a curiosity or embarrassment to your company and customers?

I  think Mr Trump has inspired millions across the US and around the entire world  – to protest his every action and proposal.  The signs mocking him and calling him an embarrassment speak for themselves.  The daily reality clown show rivals any of the nightly entertainment shows…..if only they weren’t so damaging to people’s real lives.

Would you hire the candidate who sifts through differing opinions and complex position papers in order to make an informed decision or one whose opinion is primarily influenced by a Twitter feed?

It has become increasingly apparent that White House policy is affected by and sometimes driven verbatim from a single cable TV station and other right wing sources like Breitbart.  Numerous sources have described his inability to focus on details and nuance – driving his policies to be so limited in depth   as that contained in his 144 character twitter rants.  While this inattention to detail played well on the campaign, it is frightening in its portent for the future.  He is personally responsible for the age of fake news as he and his staff have made it their primary coping mechanism for their own incompetence.

Would you hire the candidate who has actually achieved results for the disadvantaged in your company or customer base or will you choose the candidate who has had little life experience with the concept of disadvantage and looks upon those in that condition as either undeserving or flawed?

The administration has made NO outreach to the disadvantaged communities other than warnings about “calling out the troops” to solve problems (in Chicago and even in Mexico!).  His billionaires club of a cabinet also have no history or life experience dealing with the less fortunate of our country – besides, the poor and the people of color didn’t vote for him.

In summary, while I was concerned and disappointed after the election, I held out some hope that Mr Trump would allow himself some introspection and make his long awaited “pivot” to acting like a world leader.  Instead he continues to stoke his own ego, ignore his weaknesses and lack of knowledge, and in doing so, threatens the very foundations that have made America the most admired country in the world.  By focusing on his reputation he endangers the country’s.  While I hope he sees the chaos he is creating and modifies his approach and behaviour, I fear that it is beyond his makeup to change.  He has been entitled all his life and his focus on winning for himself will never be replaced with a genuine affection for (all) the people of these United States of America.  Thanks for the opportunity to vent…..


A simple political question…..


I don’t often write political commentary or opinion on this blog but this campaign season has compelled me to at least ask one simple question.  If you were hiring one of the two candidates to be an executive for your own company (or other organization), who would you hire?  As a former senior executive within the Department of the Navy who made many of those type of decisions in over 30 years of government service – I think it is appropriate to put our (the voters) decision in that context.

Would you hire the candidate who comes with an extensive knowledge of all aspects of your business and has been successful at all levels (despite difficult challenges and environments) or would you hire an “outsider” with no applicable experience or track record and a questionable (at best) and undocumented record in their own business?

Would you hire the candidate who has done extensive research on the issues currently facing your company and who can describe their strategy and approach to those issues or, would you hire the candidate who overly simplifies the issues leading to impractical or ineffective strategies, brags about successes not related to the issues, and  who cannot even understand your detailed questions about your specific issues?

Would you hire the candidate who has worked with your company’s leadership to solve difficult problems and who understands the different issues of your entire customer base, or would you hire the candidate who is critical and disparaging towards your company without understanding your work environment or the vast diversity of your customer base both domestically and across the globe?

Would you hire the candidate who shows respect for all people or the candidate who sees diversity as an impediment?

Would you hire the candidate who may not be the most likeable but can perform the duties of the position, or would you hire the candidate who brags about successes (without proof of those successes) who is likely to alienate both your workers and your customers?

Would you hire the candidate whose extensive open record contains many accomplishments but also a few highly public mistakes or would you hire the candidate who has taken all possible steps to keep his or her record a complete secret (even from those he intends to serve -the voters)?

Would you hire the candidate who is likely to continue the success of your company with steady if not spectacular results or would you hire the candidate who brags of instantaneous and miraculous results with no substantiation of approach and who may present a dangerous threat to your company due to conflicts with your long established company values and morality?

In the face of adversity, would you hire the candidate who could express understanding, compassion, and a measured way forward or would you hire the candidate who is likely to be angered, threatened,  and/or take such a situation as a personal affront?

Would you hire the candidate that is likely to hire key personnel (eg. Supreme Court Justices) who have a proven history of dedication to the values of your company, customers, and other constituents or, would you hire the candidate who would blindly listen to supporters of a minority of your interested parties independent of likely issues/impacts to be addressed?

Would you hire the candidate whose experiences demonstrate support for your workers wellbeing or would you hire the candidate with a history of sacrificing his commitments to his workers in favour of his own personal balance sheet/reputation?

Would you hire the candidate who has significant experience in making life or death decisions when necessary or would you hire the candidate who puts everything, including human life and decency in profit and loss terms?

Would you hire the candidate who is cautious in describing sensitive issues which might affect your company and/or its competitors or would you hire the candidate who praises your competitors while berating your own company and its leadership?

Would you hire a candidate who could be a source of inspiration to others or would you hire the candidate who is just as likely to be a curiosity  or embarrassment to your company and customers?

Would you hire the candidate who sifts through differing opinions and complex position papers in order to make an informed decision or one whose opinion is primarily influenced by a Twitter feed?

Would you hire the candidate who has actually achieved results for the disadvantaged in your company or customer base or will you choose the candidate who has had little life experience with the concept of disadvantage and looks upon those in that condition as either undeserving or flawed?

While these considerations might sound slanted (they are), they are the kinds of things that every executive weighs when making important personnel decisions.  We collectively are about to make such a decision.  I hope that you will consider this “checklist” of  evaluation factors or, even better, make one of your own before you take the next and most important action – to VOTE!

 

 

 

 

 


Another view of the House (of the people?)


I found another photo which could represent the current state of insanity in our Congress.  If you look at the Papa elephant (which just coincidentally is the symbol of one un-named political party) and that represents the “majority”.  The Momma elephant could be symbolic of the minority party.  The thing of note here is that (finally) the mainstream of the majority and the minority appear to be on solid ground – meaning trying together to avert a worldwide economic calamity.  Meanwhile, the youngster (representing, lets say,  18% of the country) is throwing a tantrum and splashing around in unknown waters.  So….a question to all of you parents out there – would it be better for the parents to take charge of the unruly child or should they just jump in and maybe all go down together?   Seems like a pretty easy choice to me …..but then again, I’m not an elephant.

Should we call them Papa John, Momma Nancy, and baby "T"?

Should we call them Papa John, Momma Nancy, and baby “T”?


Another comment on the Budget mess – and a nice Owl picture


As much as I tried, I can’t resist another photographic comment on the US budget impasse.  I chose this photo because of the adage of the “wise old owl”.  It is time for our “leaders” to get the truly wise people together, discard the harmful rehetoric of the “wise guys” (those with more bluster than knowledge), and  find the common ground that we all know is there.  Any of us who have ever been in a management and/or leadership position know that these types of compromises are made on a daily basis at all levels of organizations.  Just lock yourself in a room until you get it done.

The wisest member of the House?

The wisest member of the House?

The second subliminal message of this post meant for our leaders is WE ARE WATCHING YOU, WE REMEMBER…….and WE VOTE.


The “Greening” of our household Fleet (Chevrolet Volt)


Thought I’d take a break from my normal posts and talk a little about a new addition to our household.

I’ve been watching the various developments of electric cars over the past 2 years or so waiting for a vehicle that I thought would meet our needs.  I’ve read pretty much every article about every production or soon-to-be production electric or plug in hybrid vehicle with the intent of moving off of gasoline as much as possible.  My reasoning behind the strategy is that I believe we need to lessen our dependence on oil – especially foreign oil.  That is key to our energy independence in the future so we might as well start now.

Our needs for the car are pretty simple as we have a nice car for the long road trips that we take a couple of times a year – what we needed was an around town car for our day to day routine.  Our second car was a 2005 Chevrolet Corvette – not exactly a green machine with mileage in the low teens – but it handled the chores of satisfying my mid-life crisis and my wife’s enjoyment at being the center of attention for males of all ages as she drove “her” Vette around town.  Anyway, back to our requirements – each one of us probably puts between 20 and 50 miles on our cars in a typical day.  Many of our trips are just short commutes with a mixture of town and highway driving.  On the surface, any of the all electric vehicles might have met these needs – except for the uneasy feeling that something might come up where we need more range on occasion and also that we didn’t want to obsess over whether the car could “make it” without stopping for a charge on a longer trip.  That led us back to the plug in hybrid concept where the car drives and performs like an electric but has a “back-up” gasoline power source in case you need extended ranges or just happen to exceed your all-electric range.  That cut the field of available competitors significantly – there are really only 3 current options.  The Fisker Karma is a BEAUTIFUL automobile and would have been a sportscar class upgrade from the Corvette – unfortunately, they run around $100,000 which was out of our range.  At the other end of the scale is the new Prius plug in hybrid.  We have always liked the Prius as an affordable and efficient around town car but the plug-in version only gets about 11 miles on a charge before reverting to gasoline.  The last, and best, option for us was the Chevrolet Volt.  More expensive than the Plug-in Prius but with a 40 mile all electric range.  It is also better equipped for what we wanted.

To make a long story short, I test drove a Volt a few weeks back, took Dee in drive it a few days later, and then finally bought it home with us (having traded-in the Corvette).  The deciding factor for both of us was not only that it met our driving requirements, it was also FUN to drive (remember this is coming from Corvette drivers).  It has surprising acceleration due to the high instant torque of the electric drivetrain and it is smooth (and quiet) as silk.  Given the incentives for buying an electric car at the current time, this was a no brainer.  The photo below shows the car plugged into our brand new (today) 220V charging station which turned out to be entirely free after incentives.

“Bolt” (named after the San Diego Chargers) the Volt

To date we have driven the Volt about 400 miles.  99% of those have been electric – we have used less than a tenth of a gallon of gas but love the fact that it is there if we want to take longer trips.  We just changed our electric bill to a “time of use” billing and have the car set to charge when the electricity rates are the lowest (and when it places minimal impact “on the grid”).  So far we are really enjoying this fun little car and feel good about lessening our contribution to oil dependence.

Just as a postscript to this post – the Volt has been kind of a lightning rod for the political discourse surrounding the US auto industry.  While there has been a lot of bad information circulated about it, this interview on Fox News (not a source I use very often for authoritative data) attempts to set the record straight…..