Trump: How Would I know where the Buck Stops?

Harry Truman was famous for putting a sign on his desk that said

Image result for Truman the buck

Times have changed. As president, Donald Trump is heir to Truman.  But Trump has a totally different view of what it means to be president. The buck never gets to his desk. He doesn’t know what the buck is. Don’t believe me? Check out this video from The Young Turks about Trump’s lack of awareness of what he is doing. It is eye opening.


The Year of Omakasse in New York … and More!

Food Republic offers its list of 5 trends in New York dining from 2017. Ah yes, trends, assessments and predictions! It is that time of year again! And pretty soon you will not be able to listen to a program without someone telling you why 2017 was a great or terrible year, and offering their predictions for 2018.

I don’t know about you, but I think it  has been a pivotal year. And that is not because Omakase has taken New York by storm. BTW, Food Report tells us

No type of dining has seen a quicker ascension to the mainstream than omakase.

No no. The pivot has been caused by the reality sandwich that we have been consuming since the Trump election. For reasons that are less than clear, the US decided to downgrade its brand. And the chef’s special has been a nearly daily dose of disgusting drivel from the office that we call the “highest in the land”.  Not only that, we are told that the land of the free has “new friends” who reign (rather than govern) in places that are less free than we used to be comfortable with. And our old friends? They can consider themselves lucky if they get just a cold shoulder.

Will this have long term effects?  I wondered the same when Nixon resigned, Reagan was elected, Clinton was impeached, and Bush invaded Iraq. The answer was always “yes”, but not necessarily for the reasons one might have thought at the time. For example, Nixon giving us Ailes et al was not on my radar screen in 1974. Nor was the “trickle down”policy  morphing into near class warfare over “tax reform”. By way of contrast, we largely have forgotten the Clinton impeachment melodrama as well as the Bush initiated “war of choice”.  The effects are felt indirectly. Strange.

My crystal ball is cloudy, and I will not give a prediction about how this will all turn out. How it does, however, will say a lot about the future that we hand off to our kids. I am hopeful, but cognizant of the stakes we are playing for. And to get beyond where we are, we need stronger communities that bind us  to higher standards. I am ready to work for that! And if you doubt that this is important — ask yourself what community/communities does Trump come from? What communities has he strengthened during his career? Hmmm … Atlantic City? He was active there a while back. That was before his connection to professional wrestling.

I do hope that you and yours have a great holiday!

Are You Innovative Yet?

This is an eye opening bit of data

Corporate entities as noteworthy as Disney, Ogilvy, Microsoft and Coca Cola have shuttered their innovation labs in recent years. Why? They simply don’t work. In fact, according to a CapGemini report from 2015, an expert predicted 90 percent of innovation labs fail.

Innovation labs don’t work for the simple reason that they do not understand innovation as a process. Rather they equate innovation with coming up with a great new idea (GNI). But GNI’s have no value unless they plug into an ongoing exploration of what people want to do, and how to help them do it better.

American Voters May Not be as Crazy as One Might think

One of the by-products of the recent climate in US politics is to merge the words “conservative” and “loony”. And by loony, I mean unwilling or unable to engage in a reasonably intelligent discussion of policy.  There is good reason for this. Again and again, Republicans who represent conservatives act that way. One gets the sense that there is something wrong with being conservative.

As Ezra Klein points out, this is a superficial assessment of what has been going on in Republican politics. There are specific reasons why the loony right has come to dominate there. And in fact, the Republican Party has paid a high price for embracing the loony right. If it had not done so, and instead fielded more moderate candidates, it would be in a far stronger position. Instead, Democrats look forward to the 2018 midterm elections with great hope.

Underlying all of this, in my view, is that Americans have by and large voted according to what they have felt is reasonable under the circumstances at a given moment. Going back in time, Americans came to the view that the War in Vietnam had become unreasonable, and that led to Nixon’s victory in 1968. But Nixon’s behavior turned unreasonable and Ford paid the price in 1976. In came Carter. But Carter appeared unreasonable and in 1980, in came the smiling Ronald Reagan. Jumping forward, Clinton seemed reasonable in 1992 and in 1996. So did Obama in 2008 and 2012. George W Bush? Without the crisis of 9/11 and then the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, I think he would have been a “one termer” like his dad. The crisis over terrorism enabled Bush to get the benefit of the doubt.

And  what about Trump? Could one use the word “reasonable” and “Trump” in the same sentence with a straight face? No.  For that reason, he is political poison to his own party. The point here is that it is less a matter of policy substance and more the perception of whether the person and embrace of ideas are reasonable in context that matters to voters. The Doug Jones victory over Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race may support that. Even in heavily Republican Alabama, A Democrat who ran a smart race could beat a man who appeared unreasonable — just barely Here is the thing — once views set on whether a given actors is reasonable or not, those views are difficult to change. M y prediction — hanging out on the loony fringe will doom the Republican Party to the sidelines, and once there, they are likely to stay there until they put on a new face.

In that vein, I notice that Paul Ryan — a politician who tried to appear reasonable and embrace radical views on the role of the national government — is saying that he will retire.  This may be evidence that Ryan’s political stance is not tenable. A new conservative paradigm will have to emerge.

Let’s see how that comes about!

Hmmm … you might be wondering how the epitome of unreasonableness, Trump, got elected in the first place. First, he actually lost the election. We should not forget that. Trump did not appeal to a majority of voters. Instead, it was the quirky electoral college and perhaps Russian tampering that gave him the victory. Second, Fox et al have been effective for years in making Democrats appear unreasonable. They pound the drum ceaselessly that liberals — any and all of them, but especially any who are running for or in office — are dangerous to the country. “Lock her up” was consistent with this view of the world. Whether true or not, it is a formula that has turned the heads of a voting block. This was a key factor in making a number of voters hold their noses and go for Trump.

This is in flux. The loony shenanigans of the Republicans — not just Trump — over the last year is shifting public perception about the party in general. It remains to be seen how big that shift will be. So far it looks pretty big. But I would argue that Democrats have to think creatively how to seize the moment and re-take the mantle of “reasonable under the circumstances” That does not mean throwing progressives under the bus. It does mean that framing policy arguments in terms of reasonableness, not just in terms of “bleeding hearts” and “social justice”.


So Long Net Neutrality … for Now

Donald Trump came to power as a populist – a man who said he would fight for the average American. He said he would make America great again.

And of course, that was the biggest bunch of lot air since the day that the entire herd of cows gathered after a feast of hot beans for lunch.

Not persuaded? Well, consider the FCC repeal of net neutrality Why do it? There is no benefit to the common man in the street. There is, of course, a potentially huge benefit to network providers who would like to maintain and enhance their power to control what you can access on the web.

Will this be the last say on the matter? I think not. It is just one of the things that will have to be fixed after Trump  et al are kicked out.

Put it on your list.