Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Understanding Trump

As someone who has worked in large corporations for twenty years, I have observed many senior executives in action. That experience has led me to recognize Trump traits that mirror those I have personally experienced. The first common leadership trait I see is the art of persuasion.  Trump is a master persuader, just as all senior executives and hypnotists are.  There are many campaign examples of Trump persuading folks to believe and follow a CEO/reality television star that had no political experience.

Much of this persuasion comes off as boastful. When he said he'd build a wall and get Mexico to pay for it, many were persuaded to believe he would indeed build the wall. Nobody really believed he will get Mexico to pay for it, but the bombastic thought of him demanding that Mexico pay for the wall persuades his followers that he will build the wall after years of other politicians saying they would but never getting it done (including Hilary Clinton). He also claimed to know ISIS better than the generals. That boast persuades many to believe that he is committed to defeating ISIS, even though they don't actually think he knows more than generals. By labeling Ted Cruz "Lying Ted" and Hillary Clinton "Crooked Hillary", he casts a mental image of his opponents faults every time he refers to them.  He didn't need to explain each time the reasons behind his names for both. Classic sales persuasion.

A second tactic Trump used to great success is called "Pace and Lead". It is a persuasion technique that is well documented and used by Trump.  The best example from the campaign was when he said that as President, he would stop all Muslim immigration.  He paced a large segment of his followers by taking an extreme position that he knew would resonate with them.  Once paced, he could then lead them to a more realistic solution - extreme vetting and build the wall. I believe he never had any intention of blocking Muslim immigrants.

Trump used pacing and leading on the larger immigration issue also. His original position was build the wall, make Mexico pay for it, deport all illegal immigrants, no exceptions. He was pacing a group of supporters he would soon attempt to persuade. Not long after this position, deport all became deport violent criminals (bad dudes), and revisit the rest of illegal immigrants at a later date once the inflow was curtailed. That is his current position and is no different than many of his republican primary challenger's positions. He successfully moved a large number of his base to a more reasonable position.

These two examples also gave Trump the "dangerous", bad temperament reputation. If you believe he was serious during his pacing phase, you may believe he is dangerous and doesn't have the temperament to be president. In actuality, President Trump is far less dangerous than a President Clinton would have been. Clinton's positions on Russia and Iran could lead to war.  Trump's pacing position is just his tactic to lead others to a better solution. Trump isn't dangerous and probably has a better leadership temperament than Hillary has.

Finally and before our very eyes, Trump has demonstrated why he is the best person for the job.  The primary purpose of a senior executive is to define a path for the organization they lead, and be prepared to do what he can to solve the immense problems that will arise as that path is followed. Think about Trump and team's accomplishments in the past 18 months. In the republican primary, his opposition consisted of 16 seasoned politicians that wanted the same thing he wanted.  Only one would get it. It is obvious that Trump had a strategy, surrounded himself with some of the best business minds he knew, and brilliantly vanquished each opponent to become the last man standing.

Then in the national campaign, Trump faced an electoral map that strongly favors democrats.  Needing 270 electoral votes with the largest states ( California and New York) and their 84 electoral votes already off the board left him with few paths to victory. Somewhere around the beginning of October, Trump pulled his team together and devised a plan that would result in 270 electoral votes. He then resourced the plan and executed his part in a stellar manner. Watching the Trump team thread the needle on Tuesday was the culmination of a brilliant plan to solve a complex, almost mission impossible problem.

That is the kind of brainpower and execution I want solving some of the problems facing America. We just might solve a few for the first time in decades.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The State of the Race, the State of the Country

After the democrat convention, Hillary Clinton's lead in polling surged to what some pundits called unbeatable levels. They said the race was over - the coronation of Hillary Clinton should begin. Then out of left field, Trump began to close the gap. Now, on Friday September 23rd, the race is nearly a dead heat based on traditional polling. Non-traditional polling mechanisms tell a different story.

New metrics based on YouTube views, social media messaging, party enthusiasm and campaign crowds are beginning to indicate a real chance that Trump will win in a landslide. These new "big data" analysis' have proven accurate at predicting outcomes of complex questions, such as the Brexit vote.  Both parties are beginning to pay attention to these non-traditional indicators. This could be the reason that even as she is slightly ahead of Trump in national polling, Clinton appears to be in panic mode. Her recent rants and name-calling appear conclusive proof of the anxiety building within her campaign. She may be one collapse, eye twitch, obvious lie or long winded answer/redirection from a precipitous fall in the traditional polling.

I can only hope.  Much of my personal persuasion regarding the presidential race has focused on how bad Hillary would be for America. She is a liar, secretive, unhealthy, unqualified, and unaccomplished. The fear of more racial and class warfare, more government, less freedom and the diminishing of sanctity of life, drive me to support a better alternative. But I have done little to communicate why I believe Trump would be better for America.

I will start by describing how I see the current state of the country. we are in a long post-recession period that has been more about maintaining the status quo and less about economic recovery.  Economic growth has been mostly positive, but barely.  All historic recoveries have been much stronger. Unemployment is still weak, and workforce participation is the lowest in decades, and regulations have suppressed confidence and growth. Racial strife is as high as the 1960's. Urban quality of life is poor and declining. Riots and protests are prevalent. Traditional values are no longer considered politically correct. The culture has degraded to a point where the police are considered racist, rioters are idealists, and LGBT are idolized for their abnormal behavior. Politicians spit on their constituents by overtly lying to them and doing whatever they feel is necessary to win the next election. We have come a long way in 8 years, but mostly down.

This is the Barack Obama legacy and it must be reversed. In my opinion, Donald Trump is well suited to be that change agent. First, he is the most outspoken opponent to the pervasive political correctness that has led to cultural rot and national security concerns. I don't see Trump ever phrasing his speech in a manner that doesn't offend. He is freer to speak truth than any politician on the national scene.

Secondly, as a CEO he is experienced in forming an all star team and getting their ideas on how to solve difficult problems. He is listening to Rudy Giuliani on how he made the streets safer in New York and plans to fix the problems in Chicago and other cities in the same way. Controlling immigration could also be solved if proven solutions are considered. Extreme vetting, or a suspension of immigration from certain countries would make American's safer, but history is not consulted to find this has been tried many times in the past.  Proven strategies will get consideration regardless of political correctness.

And finally, Trump's economic plan would solve so many of our problems. For the moment, consider only his plan to lure off shore profits back into America. An estimated 5 trillion dollars are parked in other countries today because a company would need to pay a 35% tax to bring the cash back into America. Leaving corporate profits off shore helps other countries, but does nothing for Americans. If Trump's plan to lower the repatriation tax rate to 10 % is successful, the impact in the United States will be immediate and phenomenal. Companies will invest.  They will build factories, expand and create new products and markets, and most importantly, hire employees. The impact of this activity will domino into other businesses.  Economic growth would explode.

And, oh yeah.  The U.S. treasury will benefit by 500 billion dollars, roughly the amount of deficit spending for an entire pre-Obama year. The exploding growth and increased government spending (you don't expect congress to save it do you?) would create an upward spiral that would last for years. This enrichment will solve other problems.  I can imagine a scenario where jobs outnumber candidates.  Basic supply and demand principles then kick in and wages increase to entice workers. Would we have seen the riots in Ferguson, Baltimore or Charlotte if the urban community was near fully employed with good paying jobs?  I think not.

Don't misunderstand.  Economic growth does not fix what is wrong in the human soul. There is still a lot of work that is needed there.  But a person with a good paying job, and who is supporting a family has the incentive to further improve the person they are. Strong family leaders are crucial to the intercity and general cultural healing that is sorely needed in America. I strongly believe that Donald Trump has a far better chance of creating that environment in America than does Hillary Clinton.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Vacuum Tubes

I remember as a youth, having a vacuum tube radio in my bedroom.  Listening to that primitive radio I first heard Led Zepplin, The James Gang, and other classic rock bands when they were at the top. All this through a small, cardboard cone speaker that could not handle much volume.  But the radio brought its own mood.

When I used it, I wouldn't need to have a light on in the room.  The vacuum tubes in the radio would heat up and glow orange, casting their light against the wall and throughout the room. The nostalgic return of vinyl records completely escapes me. But, I suspect a real or simulated nostalgic return of vacuum tube operated radios and TV's are just around the corner.

Technology changes so fast.  How many things from my generation's childhood are completely foreign to our kids and grand children? Phone booths, rotary telephones, cassette players, phonographs, and other high tech gadgets from the 60's and 70's are now only found in antique shops and museums. For some unknown reason, I remembered my old vacuum tube radio this week.

The last mass produced vacuum tube was the cathode ray tube, or CRT, that was finally retired when flat screens were invented. But before the CRT was the vacuum tube that served as amplifier, power regulator, and signal processor for the now antique televisions and radios.  Back in the day, a general consumer could fix their electronics by replacing a defective vacuum tube.

That was a good thing since electronics built on vacuum tubes were very unreliable. My memory of the family TV was that it was rarely in good working order, and constantly needed vertical and horizontal adjustment to achieve a watchable picture. When was the last time you saw a modern TV exhibit the vertical roll of old TV's?  I don't know if I ever have.  I'm not even sure the new TV's have an adjustment for that picture problem.  Much of this reliability is due to the replacement of vacuum tubes with transistor and integrated circuits.

Vacuum tubes were user replaceable and made many fathers an effective TV repairman.  Grocery and hardware stores had a device where common vacuum tubes could be plugged in and tested.  When the TV set wasn't working, or the picture became unwatchable, my father would open up the back of the TV set and remove all the vacuum tubes. We would visit the store with a tube tester and one by one, plug each into the slot that matched the vacuum tube pin configuration, set the dials as instructed, flip the test switch, wait for the tube to warm up, and read the red-yellow-green meter to determine if the tube under test was the culprit.  If it was, replacement tubes were stored under the tester and could be immediately purchased.

Today, TV sets don't have vacuum tubes and contain no user replaceable parts.  When the TV stops working, we throw it away and buy a new one. Once there was a large number of TV repair businesses.  When did you last seen one?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

25 Reasons to Vote for Hillary

  1. You believe the Obama administration has brought peace and prosperity to America.
  2. You are comfortable with selective application of the first amendment protection of freedom of speech and religion.
  3. You think Hillary is a nice grandmotherly person.
  4. You see no issue with a presidential candidate calling learning disable children "f***ing retards".
  5. Defiling the white house by allowing a rapist to live there again does not bother you.
  6. You believe what a person says is more important than what they do.
  7. You are comfortable with politicians using their office for personal enrichment.
  8. You believe our second amendment right to bear arms should be ignored or repealed.
  9. You believe there is a vast right wing conspiracy.
  10. You would hire someone who spent half of their time tending to a personal business during their last job.
  11. You no longer notice the word "illegal" when discussing illegal immigration.
  12. You believe Trump has raised your taxes, stole your money or ran up the national debt.
  13. You believe that all politicians lie and that any one lie is no worse than another.
  14. You believe a person prescribed the drug Coumadin is in good health and physically prepared to be president.
  15. You believe the Clinton Foundation is a charity and not a pay for play money laundering enterprise.
  16. You believe a Clinton administration would be tough on terror and crime.
  17. You believe a country should not enforce its borders.
  18. You think Hillary would have the knowledge and desire to control government spending.
  19. You believe that a Secretary of State can do their job without a government email account and without exposing national secrets.
  20. You believe that George W. Bush has been ruining the economy for the past 8 years.
  21. You think it is acceptable for a leader to refer to Jews as "f***ing bast***s".
  22. You think that Americans should blindly believe and obey what the mainstream media tell them. 
  23. You believe abortion should be legal and available up until the natural birth of a child.
  24. You believe a candidate who was found to be careless with confidential information can be trusted to see the most top secrets of America. 
  25. You believe that you pay more dollars in taxes than rich people do.

Friday, August 5, 2016

I'm Sorry

I have been thinking about this post for several weeks, resisting it, believing that it might be too pessimistic. But I now believe it is more realistic than pessimistic so here it goes.  I am apologizing for my generation.  I apologize to my kids, I apologize to your kids.  My generation has blown it.  We are leaving the next generation a world much darker than what our parents left to us.

Throughout my young adult life, I cannot remember a time when it was more difficult to just get by. Jobs were easy, and although the pay was not high, neither were the prices of basic commodities. Today most jobs are in the service industry, and thus low paying. The cost of goods and services are high.  It's tough for young adults to achieve the quality of life my generation was afforded.

While I am not specifically to blame and neither are my friends, family or acquaintances, we are collectively to blame. We established the environment that led to the present. We made poor choices that created this world. My generation has created the current political, social and economic chaos that dominates modern life.

Politically, we demonstrated suicidal apathy by allowing politicians to lie to us, and to promise what they would do but never follow through. We did not demand honesty or integrity at any level. We believed the other elected officials are the problem, but the ones we elect are wonderful and we continued to re-elect them. Now we have politicians that blatantly lie and obfuscate, that are not transparent even as they claim to be.  Today's politician see no downside to unabashedly violating the laws they created for commoners, and they would never think of apologizing or repenting.  In short, our elected officials are criminals.

Our political parties are stubbornly ideological, and exist to breed polarization. If someone disagrees with you, they must be intolerant, racist or [fill in the blank]-phobic.  Our political tribes grow polarization in their members and foster hate and discontent. Their only goal is to win, regardless of the price in money or morale. The American political system is in shambles and I apologize to the next generation for what we hand them.

Socially, we have extended the 1960's mantra of "If it feels good, do it" and now reap the results. Truth and morality have become relative. If it's right for you, then no one should say it is wrong. Life is devalued. Purity has become a joke. Political correctness has replaced logic and reason. Civil rights have expanded to include deviant behavior. If you feel offended, somebody is to blame. Basic rights no longer come from our Creator, but are endowed by our government. The Constitution that served us so well for 200 years, is suddenly obsolete. No wonder the next generation is confused and wandering. We set that example and for that, I apologize.

The new normal economy features anemic growth to ensure that nobody can get more than their fair share. The lower production creates a downward spiral where government can no longer collect the revenue needed to finance entitlements used to purchase of votes of the dependent. Open borders dilute the earning power of young people just entering the job market, and create significant burdens on government funded safety nets. The affluent areas of the country are only those who can feed on the government largess.

And nobody seems to care. For the past few elections, I have hoped that something wonderful would happen. I had hoped the electorate would become very selective with who they choose to lead them. That we would hold elected officials to be true to their word, do what they said they would do, and act with integrity. And if they didn't, we would fire them. But we haven't and my generation is mostly to blame. I'm sorry.

The result is that we now have two horribly flawed candidates for president. Neither would have been acceptable for any political leadership position just a generation or two in the past, but now they both have strong followings. Coupled with an inept congress, the future holds more polarization, more social and economic decay.

The only hope is 2 Chronicles 7:14.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 

My pessimism is that I can do nothing to change America's course.  My optimism is that I know who can.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Why Trump?

The RNC ended yesterday, and I immediately began to become comfortable with the notion that Donald Trump is qualified to become president.  Until now, the main reason I have supported Trump is that he is not Hillary Clinton.  Hillary is the most corrupt person to ever run for the presidency. She is not a quality person of high character, nor does she have a stellar resume that would indicate she could effectively lead the country.  Instead, her resume indicates that she would continue to build her personal wealth and power, and make bonehead decisions that would not serve the country well. Why anyone believes with that resume she would suddenly become a capable president is beyond my comprehension.  But why choose Trump?

I have been extremely impressed by his children. Some in the press have said that what we may have seen this week is the birth of a new political dynasty - add the name Trump, to Bush and Clinton.  Maybe.  They seem to be fine young people who have the pedigree we may want as future leaders.  But we aren't voting to groom his children for future office.  I believe that what his children tell us about their father goes directly to Donald Trump's character.  Great parenting can produce slugs, but it would be extremely rare for slug parents to produce great kids. Donald Jr. and Ivanka (I missed Eric's speech) both emphasized how their father took the time to include them in the business and teach them what he knows.  Trump sounds like a father that was present in his children's lives. He also made sure they had the education to reach their dreams. These are the marks of a great leader. We are not voting for Ivanka, Donald Jr. or Eric but they give us important clues to who the person Donald Trump is away from the cameras.

Leaders of large businesses must set the direction that solves short and long term problems facing that business.  Trump seems to be approaching his potential presidency as a CEO.  His platform centers solidly on better trade deals and reducing over-regulation.  The desired outcome of these efforts are more jobs.  Not government jobs, but private sector jobs produced by organic growth in the American economy. Economic growth and more good jobs solve so many of America's problems. The deficit becomes manageable, discontent in impoverished cities is reduced, crime is reduced, and fathers remain in the family.  Each of these benefits brings their own benefits.  A strategy centered around more, better American jobs is a strategy that solves much of what is going wrong in America.

Trump has been called a populist.  The definition of a populist is a person who seeks to represent the interest of ordinary people. How refreshing would that be? Trump does seem to have the knack for identifying what concerns ordinary Americans, and setting priorities accordingly.  His pledge to be the law and order president, his tough stand on borders, illegal immigration and Islamic terrorism are all examples of addressing what ordinary Americans are concerned with.  He should wear the populist title as a badge of honor.

Donald Trump is an executive from a substantial business he built and leads. This may be the best time to turn to a problem-solver from the private sector to execute on the problems facing America. Politicians and lawyers have proven their ineffectiveness, so why not try a business leader?  I have experienced first hand how an effective executive can completely turn around a business with their ideas, energy and persistence.  I think it's worth a shot, especially when considering the alternative.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Why are We Being Lied To?

Politicians and press lying to the American public is nothing new, but the increased frequency and the kinds of lies told are new. Why have these institutions made a conscience decision to prolifically mislead those they claim to serve.  Here is what I am referring to:
  • On November 5th, 2009, Major Nidal Hasan shot and killed 13 and wounded 30 people that he worked with at Fort Hood Texas. During the shooting, he shouted Allahu Akbar, "Allah is Great". On his business card appears the acronym SoA, Soldier of Allah. The shootings at Fort Hood were officially classified as workplace violence, not Islamic Terrorism.
  • On September 11th, 2012, the United States embassy in Benghazi, Libya was attacked and resulted in the deaths of our ambassador and 3 CIA contractors. The Obama administration crafted a false narrative that blamed the attack on an internet video that ridiculed The Prophet Mohammed. Evidence mounted until it was acknowledged after the election of November 2012 the attack had been an act of Islamic terrorism. 
  • In an environment where American opinion of Iran was 8% favorable, 88% unfavorable, the Obama administration negotiated a nuclear agreement they claimed was a strong deal that ensured Iran would not develop nuclear weapons for an extended period of years. Later, it was admitted by Ben Rhodes, an Obama administration staffer, the press had been deliberately misled in order to gain public support for the deal. Recently, binding side agreements have disclosed that Iran will be able to build a nuclear bomb much faster that stated by the administration.
  • On June 17, 2015, Dylan Roof killed 9 Black members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston South Carolina. The press and politicians immediately recognized a tie between Roof and white supremacy.  They used a picture of Roof posing for a picture in front of his vehicle that included a Confederate flag on its license and forever associated the flag as a symbol of Roof's racism.  Since then, the Confederate flag has essentially been eradicated from the public.
  • On December 2, 2015 Syed Farook killed 14 and wounded 22 co-workers in San Bernadino California. Initially, the press reported this was a result of workplace disagreements that led to violence. The name of the attacker was withheld for hours because it was a middle-eastern sounding name.  Politicians leaped on the news story as evidence that guns were too easy to get and that stricter gun laws are needed.
  • On Friday November 13th, 2015, a massive coordinated attack in Paris, France, killed 130 and injured 368 at several locations. The attackers immediately claimed the attacks were a response to air strikes in ISIS controlled locations, however certain politicians and press organizations tried to cite availability of weapons as a root cause.  This line of reasoning quickly failed as it was acknowledged that France has strict gun laws and ISIS claimed responsibility.
  • On June 12th, 2016, Omar Mateen opened fire on patrons at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida.  Even though Omar pledged allegiance to ISIS during the attack, the response from politicians and press alike was this was a hate crime against the LGBT community. 
  • On July 7th, 2016, Micah Johnson ambushed and killed 5 police officers in Dallas, Texas. The murders occurred within days of 2 cop on Black killings that prompted the #BlackLivesMatter (BLM) movement to protest. Many of the protesters called for the killing of cops in retaliation. Before he was killed, Johnson acknowledged that he was mad about the recent shooting of black men.  Regardless, the press and politician were not willing to link Johnson's actions to the BLM movement.  Some even justified the killings.  A new narrative that links the killings to Johnson's past military experience has also been mentioned. Johnson was killed with a robotic bomb, which led to some calling his death a lynching.
  • On the evening of July 14, 2016, Bastille Day, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel murdered 84 and injured 303 people by intentionally driving through the crowd gathered to watch fireworks in Nice France. Within hours, the press was reporting that Mohamed had recently went through a difficult divorce, and that he may have been expressing his frustrations. It was later discovered that he had been in contact with radical jihadists, and may have recently self-radicalized, however 3 days later, CNN  continues to report that no ties to ISIS have been found.
  • On July 18th, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Gavin Long killed 3 and wounded 3 police in an ambush attack. Long, from Kansas City Missouri, had left social media messaging that indicated he was irate over the shooting of the Alton Sterling.  He also was a member the Nation of Islam organization that fosters a message of black superiority. Two days later, the press reports that Alton was a former marine with anti-government beliefs, and may have had PTSD. No linkage with BLM or Islam was mentioned.
They Dylan Roof example is the exception that proves a rule. Our politicians and press have taken political correctness to an extreme.  This extreme requires that no criticism can be made against a minority.  To do so might might cause a group of uneducated, politically incorrect majority to react with discrimination or profiling.

In practicing this form of reverse discrimination, the prophetic writings of George Orwell in Animal Farm have become more real than ever.  All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal.