Trump sucks as a leader…

So, we all heard the campaign rhetoric.  Trump is successful!  He gets shit done!  He knows how to run large organizations.  I imagine that seemed good to some.  Well, they were sold a bill of goods.

Trump sucks as a leader.  He even sucks as a manager, and I think managers are the bane of corporate hierarchies.

We’re essentially a month in.  Here’s what we have:

*Signature “get shit done” piece of work is the Muslim ban (he called it a ban so save the dispute.)  It is widely protested and blown up in court….twice.

*National Security Advisor forced to resign because of illegal activity with a foreign government.  Trump says information is false while simultaneously saying leaks are a huge concern and will be pursued.  He used “huge” several times.

*Calls the press the “enemy of the people.”

*Says he inherited a huge mess from Obama.

*Publicly insults an American company for dropping his daughter’s products.

*Has a foreign threat security meeting in a restaurant dining room.

*Makes up terrorist attacks to fortify his narrative.

We can debate his questionable cabinet picks or his seeming desire to unravel every law that inhibits the select few from making more money.  I’ll concede every one of those.  My point is he is a piece of shit leader.

I don’t think any of my bullet points are debatable.  They are widely reported (even by the media he deems valid), and in most cases we have video of him saying it.

What, in those, suggests he is a leader?  To me, he seems more like a juvenile throwing tantrum after tantrum.  A leader might think through events so that his “huge” act isn’t found unconstitutional.  A leader might use “extreme vetting” on people we entrust to protect our national security.  One of his first hires is a traitor?  Not good leadership.

Think of the great leaders you know.  How many of them blame everything on everyone else?  How many of them use positional power to bully?  Even more important, bully those they swore to serve?  Which leaders you admire lie…all the time?  Which of your favorite leaders lack judgment?

What leaders blame their poor performance on others, whether true or not?  What leaders complain that things are unfair, whether true or not?  What leaders publicly criticize those who work for them?

Trump is a piece of shit.  The one thing he was supposed to be is a leader.  He’s a horrendous piece of shit at that.  Every business leader should be embarrassed by him.

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You’re not a patriot…

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

That is the first amendment of our constitution.  Journalism is the only profession explicitly named in the document that has made America unique in human history.  Our founding fathers recognized that a free press would act as an alert whistle to government overreach.

Today, our beloved leader called the press, “the opposition party.”

He takes offense at the media doing their jobs, the jobs the architects of our exquisite constitution found so crucial.  This follows our sitting president’s efforts to undermine and destroy well established institutions of journalism.

Think about that.  Our president is deliberately exerting his power to marginalize a news outlet that publishes content critical of him.  Our president opposes the first amendment.

I don’t like the second amendment.  I don’t like guns.  I still fully support gun owners and their rights because I believe in our constitution.  Nobody, not even the president, gets to select ala carte which parts of our constitution they believe to be valid.

We have systems in place to amend our constitution.  Don’t like part of it?  Work to amend it.  Don’t subvert it.  Especially, don’t subvert it if you’re the…um, president.

Don….I’ll call him Don because a president who disrespects the constitution I served to protect and the office I was bound to follow as the highest in the chain of command….doesn’t deserve my respect and insults the title of President, you are not a patriot.  You’re an insult to real Americans.  Real patriots died for our constitution.  You had bone spurs.  Now you’re having a tantrum that is unconstitutional.  It isn’t the press’ job to confirm the narrative you want.  It is their job to call bullshit.  A real patriot would celebrate that.

You’ve already diminished the office by your tweets, but please, by all means, show us the fake news the NY Times published.  Man up, you twitter bitch.  Put some actual facts in your posts.  “People tell me,” does not constitute evidence.  Your butt hurt does not make the Times fake news.  Until you produce something tangible, your words are sedition.

What do you have to prove to us that your disregard for our constitution is valid?

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And then came the taxi drivers…

Well, we’re one week into the regime.  After previously criticizing president Obama for his use of Executive Orders, our Beloved Leader whipped them out so fast this week that he didn’t have time to spray tan.  Notice how he’s significantly less orange now?

Sooo, we had the removal of scientific data, a gag order placed on our government agencies communicating with us (you know, We the People?), a continued temper tantrum about the press and the election, and we banned all incoming travel from a group of Middle East countries.  Fortunately, we did not have to ban travel from countries where Beloved Leader has investments.  Whew!  (Yes, I know those are the countries where the 9/11 attackers actually came from.  Remember, we now have a government mandated narrative.)

A funny thing happened on the way to the empire.  Resistance came from unexpected sources.  It started with the Badlands National Park tweeting pesky scientific facts.  They were quickly shut down but not before they went viral. In what seems to be a planned response, they were quickly joined by @altusforestservice, @altFDA, @altEPA, and (my favorite) @RogueNASA.

Our scientists and conservationists, people whose careers are about protecting us and our land and advancing our knowledge, are the ones saying, “we will not go quietly into the night.” (Independence Day quote is totally for Rogue NASA.)  These people are, at the very least, risking their careers and paychecks to tell us our leadership may be bat shit crazy, but they’re going to be called on it.

Right now, legal U.S. residents are being denied entry to the country.  Why?  Because they are originally from one of those “terrorist factory” states our Beloved Leader  has vowed to crush.  These are teachers, students, doctors, engineers, or artists.  They are working here and helping advance our society.  “Nope, sorry, can’t come back in.  Sucks that your children are still in our country.”

We’re also not taking any immigrants from these countries for the foreseeable future.  So, we have three big issues.  First, we just became world class dicks.  Second, Beloved Leader followed up by saying Christians in these very bad countries would be given preferential treatment so we have a violation of church and state.  Third, want to create more terrorists?  A good place to start is by telling people you don’t like them or trust them, you don’t need them, and you don’t care about them.  YAY US!  Beloved Leader told the world we were assholes, violated our constitution, and put us more at risk.  In his first week!

Each of those topics deserve their own post or twelve.  I want to go back to our badass scientists.  I don’t know that many of us thought the Park Rangers and quantum physicists would be the first to draw a line in the sand.  Right now, NYC taxi drivers have called a work stoppage to JFK airport.  I’ve been in a lot of New York cabs.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a driver who was born in America.  They are a melting pot of immigrants from all over working their asses off, and they just said, “Fuck you, Beloved Leader.  We provide an essential and critical service, and we’re going to stop because you don’t want us here.”

While Rogue NASA makes me so happy, the NYC cabbies are doing some serious shit.  Beloved Leader and his cabinet and his pals are all about getting that almighty buck.  I’d say they are business people, but given his bankruptcies and half his staff came from Goldman Sachs, they’re not very good at it, and it would be an insult to business people.

Know what business people hate?  Disruption to the orderly collection of profits.  Know what happens when taxis refuse to go to JFK?  A disruption of the orderly collection of profits.  Know what ruthless business people do when there is a disruption to the orderly collection of profits?  They turn on their own.  Someone has to take the fall for missing the quarterlies or a plunge in the markets.

Who will be next?  Plumbers?  Sanitation workers?  Who knows?  I just anxiously wait for the next group to say, “Fuck you, Cheetoh.”  When enough start doing it, Wall Street will pay attention.  That will be the end of Beloved Leader.

Next time I’m in NYC, I am way overtipping my driver!

 

 

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Is this what it looks like?

Is this what the birth of a regime and the end of a democracy look like?  I don’t intend to be melodramatic with that question.  I ask it honestly.

This week our government began deleting web pages.  These weren’t just “position” pages.  They included actual science and study.  Now they’re gone.  This week our government issued a gag order.  Only the trusted inner circle could use social media.

I was on the Badlands National Park  twitter feed when the posts were deleted.  These weren’t political posts.  They were statements of scientific fact such as, “The pre-industrial concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 280 parts per million (ppm).  As of December, 2016, 404.93 ppm.”  I watched the posts disappear because they didn’t fit the mandated narrative.  Think about that.  We now have a government mandated narrative.

This week we were introduced to “alternative facts.”  These are even more scary than censorship.  We can delete information such as pre-industrial CO2 concentration and hope people forget.  Alternative facts tell us to disbelieve what we saw.  I watched the inauguration and thought, “Huh.  A lot of empty spaces and seats.”  Now I’m told it was a record breaking attendance.  My own sensory input is wrong.

Data is eliminated, and we are told how to think.  Is that open government or the beginning of something different?  Our new leader continues to seek validation and announces an investigation into a voter fraud narrative that has already been thoroughly debunked.  Why?

My social media feed is filled with scared and angry people.  Is that statistically representative?  I doubt it.  How is it different from, “People tell me…”?  How many times have we heard Trump say, “People tell me it’s great.”  What people?  Where?  When?  We don’t get those answers so my social media feed is just as valid.  I can at least identify the people.  Our citizenry is worried.  What does our president do to alleviate those concerns?  Nothing.

Today, our president put his signature on denying Muslims into our country and announced he was proceeding with his wall.  The wall is a symbol.  It won’t accomplish anything, and his vehement spending cuts supporters don’t care that it will cost hundreds of billions.  Know who else has a wall?  China.  Is that whom we’re emulating?  Psst…authoritarian rule throughout their history.

It all seems like Orwell was a visionary.  Is it?  I hope not.  We’re in week one, and our scientists, our conservationists are already hiding and posting from anonymous (I hope for them) accounts.

What will week two look like?

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Quantifying loss

I see a lot of social media posts about the grim reaper that 2016 has been.  It certainly seems like it has taken a higher than usual toll on our cherished celebrities.  Two days ago, we had to put my dog, Bailey, down.  It has been a sad time in our house.  To occupy my head, I started thinking about quantifying loss.  Is it possible to objectively say this year has been worse than others?

First, let me be clear that the loss of a loved one is devastating to those close to that person…or pet.  I am not suggesting one death is a greater loss than another to the friends and family of the deceased.  I am exploring how that loss affects us, the general public.

The first criteria I established was level of fame.  Here is a list of celebrities who died in 2016.   I don’t even know who some of these people are.  I researched methods of measuring fame, but they are inexact at best.  A rudimentary approach is a simple google search of the person and how many responses come back.  This is skewed by the actual death, and it can’t be measured retroactively.  I can’t google Natalie Cole in 2015.  What I can determine is how famous someone is to me, and I can make assumptions about general public awareness.  I doubt many people don’t know who Muhammad Ali is.

Next I added current relevance.  While probably every American knows who Nancy Reagan is, making her fame level very high, how many of us have really thought about her in the last twenty years?

There is a marked difference in response to the death of Fidel Castro and say, Gene Wilder.  To account for this, I added “belovedness.”  For Harry Potter fans, Alan Rickman, who portrayed the ultimately heroic and devoted Snape, was truly cherished.

The unexpected celebrity deaths seem to punch us in the collective gut even more.  To at least partially account for this, I indexed age against U.S. life expectancy for men and women.  I recognize that not all celebrity deaths are American, but I am exploring American reaction to them.  Our life expectancy for a male is 76 years so we respond to the death of a British actor in relation to our frame of reference.  So, David Bowie’s death at 69 is 91% of life expectancy.

I ended up with this formula:  Response = (Fame + Relevance + Belovedness) +/- Age Index.

So, Abe Vigoda passing away at 94 looks like this:  F5 +R2 + B8 – AI 23% = Response of 12.  By comparison, George Michael dying at 53, with fame of 8, relevance of 4, belovedness of 8 and an age index of +30% has a response score of 26.

For me, who came of age in the eighties, David Bowie has a score of 29.7.  Prince has a 32.5.  And, with a resurgent relevance score due to her return as Princess Leia, Carrie Fisher has a punch me right in the feels score of 34.

By comparison, 2015 did not have a single celebrity death with a response score above 28.  We lost Leonard Nimoy and B.B. King last year, but they were much older.  Maureen O’Hara was certainly beloved, but she was 95 and long out of our collective consciousness.

Robin Williams, in 2014, received a 33 but was far and away the highest score.

I calculated the notable celebrity deaths of other years, and I can say with the exact precision of inexact science and questionable math, to quote my better half, “2016 sucked dick.”  I would speculate that the values I applied in each formulation at least approximate a median response.

So, you can calculate for yourself or quote me as an expert.  2016 was, in fact, an epic shithole of a year as far as losses of icons go.

Incidentally, my dog passing away at only 8 years old, gets a response score of 36.  So, 2016, fuck you and good riddance.

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Preparing for the end…

I went on a backpacking trip this summer with my dog, Bailey.

DCIM100GOPRO

This is the goofy boy.  I’ve taken him on many hikes through our local woods but this was our first multi-day outing.  I covered 36 miles.  He covered about triple that, dashing up the trail, returning to see if I was still on the way, and venturing off trail to smell interesting things.  I kept him on leash for the first….50 yards.  After that, I let him loose, and he did his job.  He returned whenever hikers were approaching.  He sat by my side while they passed.  I’ve hiked the AT almost twice.  He is a much better blaze finder than I.

DCIM100GOPRO

bailey

He has been my companion, and he has been my friend through many of the most difficult times of my life.  He sat next to me whimpering when I learned my son had died.

He doesn’t know why he gets to sleep in my office now or why he’s getting so many treats, but he sure likes them.  I’ve lost many people in my life.  This hurts at least as much.

When he was a puppy, we would take him for walks along the beach.  He would whine and curl up in a ball until we carried him.  As he grew, Lori was worried he might be aggressive with the cats.  We foster terrified cats, and Bailey is our liaison.  He lies down and lets them hiss and spit and eventually curl up next to him.

He loves playing ball.  I’ve never found the end to his willingness to chase and retrieve a tennis ball.  He loves tearing apart the cardboard center of the paper towel roll.  He loves standing over the cats while they eat breakfast and cleaning their bowls when they’re done.  He loves dashing into the woods, following his nose, rushing from one interesting smell to the next.   He loves swimming…in anything.

I learned this week that Bailey has lymphoma.  We have maybe weeks.  He doesn’t know.  He’s just digging the extra treats.  I love my dog.

bailey-surprised

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Gut punched…

I woke up this morning gut punched….just deflated, demoralized…and sad.  There are many rifts and problems in our country, but I did not believe we were capable of what we did yesterday.  Donald Trump is our president elect.  I have been trying to wrap my head around that concept all morning.  Donald Trump is our president elect…

We elected a draft dodger who called a prisoner of war a loser.  We elected a man who mocked a reporter with a degenerative disease.  We elected a man who called one of our largest ethnic groups “rapists and drug dealers,” and wants to round them up for mass deportation.  We elected a man who wants to target and monitor Muslims because of their faith.  We elected a man who brags about sexual assault and thinks it is acceptable to demean women, and he has a court date in December with one of his victims.  We elected a man who wants to punish women who get abortions…and who used to be pro-choice.

We elected a misogynistic, racist, islamophobic, homophobic, sexist, bullying, fucking game show host as the leader of our nation!

I did not think we were capable of this.  I did not think we, and by “we” I mean the older, uneducated, white males who gave him the victory, could be so cowardly, insecure, and selfish.  Yes, I get that our society is shifting.  The privileged perch that heterosexual, Christian, Caucasian males have held for so long is eroding, and that is scary for those clinging to it.  Our society is becoming browner, and your neighbors may not believe in Christ.  They may be two males, and they, gasp!, are married.  You’re competing for jobs in a global economy against people from vastly different cultures.  Your boss may be a woman.  Your very “us-ness” is threatened so you lash out at the collective “them.”

Rather than at least adapting and competing, because embracing our growing cultural richness is beyond the realm of possibility, they found a bully who channeled all their fear and hatred.  They found a champion who said it was okay to be a bigot.  It was okay to objectify women.  It was okay to expect the privilege to continue.  It was okay to not only not stand up for those who need and deserve our support, but to attack them for threatening our us-ness.

I saw that throughout the campaign.  I saw it build and grow.  I wasn’t blind to it, but I am still gut punched today.  I am because I thought, in the end, enough of us would vote with the good of at least some others in mind.  Perhaps a wife or a daughter?  In my opinion, a vote for Trump was one of pure selfishness.  The fifty year old, protestant, non college educated, white males who overwhelmingly voted for Trump did not think of their daughters.  They thought of themselves and their fear of marginalization.

Trump’s snake oil genius was convincing them to do so.  What do they think he is going to do for them?  Put the little women back in the kitchen?  Shove the gays back in the closet and toss all the brown people out?  Even if he actually cared about them, what do they think he’s going to do?

I didn’t think we were capable of this.  Donald Trump is our president elect…

 

 

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