Enlightened Conflict

the ongoing Trump crap show (a diary)

January 5th, 2017

 bullshit type

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“Bullshit is a greater enemy to the truth than lies are.”

 

Harry Frankfurt

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Well.

 

If I got paid by the word with regard to everything I have received about

Trump and everything I have written in response about the ongoing Trump shit show <almost 18000 words in one week on the asshat himself> … well … suffice it to say I would most likely be lounging outside the Deux Magots with a funny looking beret on my head sipping on some French espresso living the large life.

 

 

That said.

 

 

I admit

 

When I share my thoughts I am not quite sure if my Trump frame of reference is “amateur trying to do a professional’s job” or sheer incompetence or bullshit languagedangerous naiveté <simplistic thinking applied to a complex issue> or lack of understanding of how to lead, purposeful ignorance or he is just a purposefully ignorant dumbass … regardless … all of it always through the filter that “strength is only conveyed through an obvious façade of unwavering thin skinned bombastic narcissism”.

 

In addition … I never really know if I am assessing lies or bullshit.

To lie assumes a presumption the person actually knows the truth <and I often seriously doubt he knows what the hell he is talking about> while bullshit, by contrast, does not know or care whether what s/he says is true or false. The liar possesses knowledge of the truth, while the bullshitter ignores it entirely.

 

What I do know <and I’m concerned> is that the other morning on tv I saw a panel of journalists/news anchors simply laugh out loud over a preposterous trump tweet lie … and move on. He has normalized lying to such an extent they don’t even bother to respond or comment … just snicker at the absurdity of it all.

 

And all the while, as they snicker and dismiss, it is only The Donald who can tell the truth while everyone else is automatically lying.

 

Black is white.

Up is down.

In is out.

 

In this alternative world Trump creates an alternate truth … and somehow we are actually letting it become real.

This cannot be normalized nor can it be deemed accepted. The Trump shit show has to be publicly reviewed as constant bullshit.

 

Regardless.

 

The people who ask me about Trump bring up valid points and express valid thoughts. Love Trump or hate Trump he has made people talk about what matters.

 

Here is a random sampling of thoughts shared with me  … and thoughts I have shared in return:

 

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  1.  Americans don’t think America is great.

The gap between rich and poor has grown wider.

As have black and white relations.

Hollywood thinks it’s great, because they’re in the stratosphere of pay.

Someone makes $2.5 million a month.  A month!

Good for him. Bad for middle class who can’t relate.

 

  1.   Most people don’t like the Clintons or the Bush’s.  They’re just slimy people.

 

  1.   Trumps vision is this:   Every deal must be great for America. Not even. Better. That’s winning.

We’ve been losing to the Chinese for years. Losing manufacturing jobs, losing companies to Mexico, etc. The fact that he wants those companies going to 3rd world companies to pay a tariff on their products coming back in to America, is genius. A fair penalty for not giving Americans here a job.

 

  1.   What’s nice about Tweets over Speeches is they’re his own words. Not rehearsed scripts written by others. It’s real. Raw. Right or wrong. It’s honest.

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The thoughts are valid … if slightly misguided. But I answer every email I get and try and address each thought one by one.

 

Why?

 

The discussion is all that matters. The moment we stop talking with each other and debating with each other is the moment we stop listening and … well … we stop. Period.

And that is not good.

 

 

Trump’s message, dumbed down for America, is simple:

Make America great again.

 

*** uhm. This only works if enough people believe America is in enough of a shithole that it isn’t great now.

 

And he is a master at creating shithole perceptions:

election choices dimensions self interest

-Create more U.S. jobs <by implying unemployment is horrible levels … and it is not>

 

-Re-negotiate bad trade deals <by implying globalization is bad … and it is not>

 

-Make friends again with Israel & Russia <uhm … we are supportive of Israel with unwavering security support … oh … implying we should be friends with Russia … who by the way needs us … and we do not need them>

 

-Why?  Because the enemy of my enemy (ISIS) is my friend <oh … if it were only that simple … it is easier to just say islam is bad>. Oh … also … by implying ISIS is an actual existential danger to us AND by implying it is a bigger issue than it is <that’s called ‘selling through fear’>.

 

-Stop illegal immigration (somehow-most likely a fence and more border patrol) <if it were actually a big problem … I would agree … he implies it is a big problem>

 

-Eliminate the bad parts of ObamaCare. Most of which, “only works, if you don’t.” <which, oddly, Clinton & Obama wanted to do and Republicans did not>

*** I would note on Obamacare … imagine where we would be if everyone had done what Kasich had done on day one … rather than fight it … he moved forward to see how it could benefit his people. If it had been embraced on day one it would be fine and have less fixes needed.

 

Other issues discussed?

 

Tariffs.

 

They weren’t good then and they are not good now.

All they do is raise the costs to us, the working people, as the company passes them along back to us. His tariff only on US company importing back in to US is almost as non-genius as his “tariffs on China.”

 

Its simplistic drivel that suggests you can penalize companies for competing in a free market.

  1. The issue isn’t cheap labor … it is varying cost of living nation to nation. In a global economy unless everyone has the same cost of living <and standard of living> there will always be other places cheaper to create the shit you want to create. Tariffs only exacerbate the issue.
  2. 90% of jobs outside of USA will never come back. We need to get over that. Those jobs are cheaper through automation in US if we demand they bring them back.
  3. Tariffs kill many small businesses who can only compete with cheaper goods outside of USA.

 

You cannot bring back jobs. And, practically, he doesn’t really care about the overseas jobs <and he shouldn’t> … everything he is talking about is about bringing back money. Which he is gonna need with his budget plan <that part is actually ok>.compete Authentic Self

 

Authentic.

 

Sigh.

 

What a sad state of affairs if we are using ‘like Trump because he is authentic.’

Authenticity has never hit such a low.

Especially if it is combined with ‘raw & honest.’ I will give him raw … but honest? He is not just a liar … he creates an alternative universe. And, please, please don’t say ‘all politicians lie.’ The majority use selective truths and facts. At least their ‘lies’ are mostly a distortion of the entire story. Trump authentically creates an entirely new story <lie>. He is singlehandedly destroying the concept of authentic.

 

Twitter & tweeting.

 

…. by the way, saying “he should make speeches not tweets,” is like me saying, “we should do television ads  not social media!”   The world has changed. Forever.

 

*** wrong. Leader’s words matter. And how and when you use words matter. If he tweeted his vision, if he tweeted words that led ?? sure. Maybe. But he has quotes using navigatedivided so much thru his rhetoric he needs, as a leader, to establish a construct for what he plans. His tweets appeal to his rabid base who say ‘do whatever you want.”

But most people want a leader to lead.

He needs more than 140 characters to explain. And, no, the world has not changed forever in this case. Twitter is a supplemental communication tool. It does not live in a vacuum. It cannot. It supplements, or compliments, events and stories and content. He needs to offer content.

 

China.

 

Well. They have a significantly lower cost of living and standard of living for their workforce. Their government subsidizes their private businesses. They are US economy from maybe 100 years ago.  TPP was our best way of curbing China … anything you may think is bad tradewise with China now … will get worse without TPP.

Unless we demand everyone to stop wanting to own a home and to need $70,000 a year to live … competing with China will always be difficult <and the same with any of the developing countries>.

The other thing people seem to forget is … if you are a global company the closer you can put your manufacturing to the sale … the lower the distribution costs.

I am not suggesting trade deals do not always need to be tweaked <not trashed or even renegotiated>. Market dynamics demand shifts in deals to maintain balance. But the overall goal should always be win win. Especially for USA. Because we have the largest economy … and we have the largest buying capability … we win if the tide rises higher.

 

Great.

 

The majority of people actually do think America is great <numbers show that>. And even middle class America does <albeit if you look at just the Republican numbers they think we are in a complete shithole>.

What many people have been convinced is that someone has it better than they people forget own greatnessdo … and they get grumpy about that.

Heck. We barrage people with so much negative crap even if they are happy they have been convinced they should be unhappy.

 

This may be the greatest example of the gap between perception and reality I have seen in my lifetime.

Small groups of people are desperately in worse shape, some people are in good shape but have not improved, most people are doing fine but hearing all the talk about the top 1% and feel entitled to some of what they got. That is reality. we have a higher standard of living than any country of any size in world. We live longer, are, other than fat, in good health, best and largest economy in the world, low unemployment, low overall violence <with isolated pockets which people distort to a larger view>.

 

That is Trump’s most egregious flaw. He distorts “the one” into “the many.” He implies an isolated situation is indicative of the greater whole. And he does it with such hyperbole <and lies> even if most people do not believe it … it elevates whatever perception you may already have a little higher <therefore … he drags more people closer to believing we are in a shithole … not great>.

 

Winning & trade deals.

 

Oh. If it were only as simple as you suggest. Trade deals are not just trade deals … they encompass foreign policy as well as alliance issues. Regardless. Even if they were only trade … in a global world a ‘deal’ wins when it is balanced … you call it ‘even’ … one side does not win. If you do try and negotiate something like that you create imbalance in the relationship <which creates anger & frustration> and creates the kind of ‘why America is hated’ feeling which seeps into the population which … well … creates terrorists.

We seek mutually beneficial deals in which American companies benefit. The issue isn’t trade deals … it is deciding what we want the American economy to be and how we can insure the American worker benefits. Companies, in general, do not care about the labor force unless they need them. It is, frankly, not in their interest to care.  Their interest is to be competitive in the marketplace and make money.

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job i am the greatest confidence trumpMy own guess is that Theresa, having sussed in advance that her interlocutor is a blithering saddo, will put him at his ease with an extravagant compliment about his non-existent personal magnetism. “That thing on your head is divine,” she will be already saying during the soup course. “So elegant, yet so masculine.

How do you keep it in place? Surely only the strongest industrial adhesive can contain something so powerfully virile?”

By that time, she will be breathing in his ear and he eating out of her hand. Cue violins.

 

—-

Clive James

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  • So as an Independent who loathes politicians and lawyers in general, I, like so many others are willing to give him enough rope to hang himself.  Which, he may do.  But my goodness, give it a chance.  Because as even Obama says;  “We want good things to happen. Because if he fails, we fail.”

 

*** I have never suggested I want him to fail. All I have ever done is demand he lead. I don’t want to give him rope to fail because if he fails … we all hang.

 

 

  • I LOVE that he’s pissing off Republicans, Democrats, Bush’s, Clintons, and everything in the political establishment. So do a ton of Americans.  No more politics as usual, and all these cozy-wink-wink jobs are going away. No wonder they’re all freaked out.  I say, throw them out!

 

Well.

 

No one of any consequence is hysterical <although I would suggest if I saw any of my employees hysterical I wouldn’t laugh or shrug it off as silly … I would sit back and wonder what I had done to create it>.

They are freaking out not because it is affecting status quo … but rather because <a> he shows no sign of being a leader and <b> he shows little sign he knows what he is getting into to.

 

No one is pissed off. These are people who take their jobs seriously and have serious jobs to do.

They are all concerned he is not qualified and not doing anything to insure he can meet the bare minimum to fulfill his obligations as a president.

 

If I wanted to hire a change agent I could have hired him as a consultant. He got hired to be a president.

People absolutely fear what they do not know.

 

Ultimately, that is my point. A good leader abhors uncertainty in their organization. It creates dysfunction and inefficiencies.

 

  • It’s amazing to me how many people criticize him, before he’s even been in office one day. What happened to Liberals wanting everyone to have a fair chance to prove themselves?…

 

This has nothing to do with liberals. People I know say the republicans are mortified by his behavior and uncomfortable with his lack of leadership skills to date.trump-money-winning-god-we-trust-captalism

 

And that is why you shouldn’t be amazed. Being president isn’t about ‘getting a chance.’

This is a country and not a business. And it is certainly not a real estate business with no culture and just “Trump personality” as a guiding compass.

 

But even if I do view this as a business leader … he has done nothing to show leadership, explain his vision <except in tweets>, explain that he understands the depth & breadth of what is demanded of his position <diplomacy>, or even made an effort to explain to the significant majority of the country who did not vote for him <democrats + independents + nonvoters> how he plans on uniting everyone after he was so divisive in the campaign <and continues to use words that divide>.

 

He sees uncertainty as a plus. And maybe in his little world of real estate it is … but in the bigger world where his words drive company value up & down, his tweets create diplomacy issues and his silence permits everyone to guess what he will do … there has to be some undergirding of certainty to hold it all together.

Any business leader will tell you that. He looks like, and acts like, a rookie in a leadership position. He is making the type of leader mistakes we make in our first big promotion.

 

On top of that … I wrote about this days before the economic piece I wrote … he acts like a president now but acts like his actions have no repercussions until inauguration. He is the president elect and not a citizen sitting at the corner of the bar bitching about ‘those damn politicians.’

 

And if you think everyone else globally is sitting around waiting to see what he really is gonna do … well … you are nuts.

 

While I criticize him incessantly for his words and his lack of understanding that words matter. I criticize him mostly for his lack of leadership. He has never run a company with an organizational culture. He has only run a transactional company. He would not know how to run a real company if you … well … tried to teach him.

 

As I wrote in my piece … I would have him work for me and I would direct him to do things because he is transactional. He would be great at sales and duking shit out on a transaction by transaction basis. But I would never, ever, permit him to run an entire business organization. our only hope is, just as I wrote, the cabinet people can see beyond the simple transactions and weld together a new global economy without costing us too much with regard to our overall role in the world beyond simple economics.

 

I criticize him because he deserves criticism. He is not a thin skinned brat. He is not a tweeter in chief. He is responsible for 320 million people. He is responsible for a country that currently resides at the hub of the global wheel.

 

 

In addition I often find in this discussion we end up confusing two issues:

 

Accepting responsibility and Implementing responsibility.

 

responsibility does not matter but it doesI have no doubt this administration will implement some things that will be good <I am just not sure at what expense … as I have written several times>

 

But as any leader worth a shit will tell you … in order to most effectively implement, particularly change, you need to accept responsibility, earn the trust in the responsibility and ultimately align people in a direction. Then you will be judged fairly in the ‘first year in office.’ He is showing he has never run a real organization before.

 

In business terms … he just got promoted to a fragmented organization in which one department adores him. This is exactly what happens when a sales EVP gets promoted to CEO of a service driven organization. Sales is known for saying whatever they need to say to make the sale … and the rest of the organization gets stuck fixing it or making it work. A good leader in that position stands up and lays out his guiding principles, his vision for what he wants to do and asks <yes, ASKS> everyone to contribute and give it a chance. A good leader says “if we all move forward, point out what needs to be fixed as we move forward, we can do this.”

 

A good leader knows if you do not prime the pump attitudinally … accept the responsibility … you are destined for a dysfunctional bitchy organization.

 

He should give three speeches. Not taped. Not tweeted. Speeches.

 

  • Explain his campaign rhetoric. “I may not say the right thing every time but apply this filter with everything because my intent always remains “x” …” <note: albeit I tend to believe he has no idea what he is saying in some incomprehensible word salad>

 

  • Explain his vision. <and I really do not care if it is economic at the expense of other shit … just state it>.

 

  • Explain change management. Any leader worth a shit will warn people of what is coming. If he plans on doing a lot in 100 days … warn everyone. If he wants to set some expectations for year one. Tell everyone. Any good leader knows you purposefully set the ‘judge me by’ goalpost … because if you do not everyone will judge you differently.

 

In addition … if he does this he calms global parties who are now scrambling to do their own thing. He doesn’t just need a ‘year to judge’ internally, domestically, he needs to calm global partners now.

 

He can do all of his now and stop the ‘fear’ and divisiveness <but he has not people response to changechosen to do so>.

 

And he needs to do it NOW because Obama is so well respected by the majority of USA and the world … and he is acting so differently from Obama … he needs to show people the bridge. Any good leader knows, if you are significantly different from the leader you are replacing, you need to calm some employees … and manage the excitement of others.

 

I don’t ‘give’ a leader anything.

I expect a good leader to lead.

 

And maybe the worst? He doesn’t even seem to understand the repercussion of his style. He assumes he has been crowned and everyone will automatically respect & trust <despite the fact he had a crappy reputation running his own department in the business> and he is oblivious to how his words divide and not unite.

 

He may be an excellent transaction dealer. And I hope he is.

Because he absolutely sucks as a leader.

 

Anyway.

 

I will continue to try and watch all the news stations and read shit online when I can <usually when I am sitting on an exercise bike in the gym and can watch CNN, MSNBC & Fox at the same time> … but Fox is a little tough to swallow most of the time.

 

I think much of the conversation is all stupid.

 

I think conservatives laughing at liberals is stupid.

I think liberals laughing at conservatives is stupid.

 

It’s all stupid because we all want the same thing … some just like different tactics than others. And getting angry over tactics is … well … stupid.

trump-welcome-to-the-circus-debate

But I think Trump is the stupidest because a good leader would have resolved all of this already … and he has done nothing.

 

And I am too tired of talking about how twitter is not a main communication tool <especially for a leader>, that Trump does not know how to lead, that his main go-to tactic is to appeal to people’s fears & doubts, and that I worry his personal opinions are more important than trying to appeal, and benefit, 320 million people.

 

But I will keep talking to whomever will listen about this until we make good progress and get what we should expect from our leaders.

Trump Putin enlightenment

November 6th, 2016

trump speaking at a rally june

 

“In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies.”

 

Winston S. Churchill

 

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“Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it, so that when men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is over, and the tale hath had its effect: like a man, who hath thought of a good repartee when the discourse is changed, or the company parted; or like a physician, who hath found out an infallible medicine, after the patient is dead.”

 

 

Jonathan Swift

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I am not a conspiracy theorist … never have been and never will be.

 

putin-militaryI will never suggest Putin and Trump have a “relationship.”

And I will never suggest that Putin has any particular interest in Trump, per se, but rather has a particular interest in what a Trump presidency may offer Russia.

 

I say that because we would be foolish to ignore the fact that Putin, an ex KGBer, would not want to insert himself and his country’s interests into any political field he could play on.

It was a tried & true Soviet tactic and I seriously doubt it has been shelved as a “useless failed tactic of the Cold War.”

 

In fact.

Over the past several years Russia’s “confrontational policies on the global political arena” have been well documented.

 

I say that because while we Americans tend to believe the world revolves around America the world is a bigger place … and Russia has been tied to politics & influence in Great Britain, France, Ukraine, Syria, a number of the past Soviet satellite countries and south America … as well as USA. Populists in the United States and Europe, from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump to British politician Nigel Farage or Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, have voiced their admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

 

It is a fact … proven and unequivocal … that over the past two years, in particular, the Russian political establishment has only intensified its confrontational policies in the global political arena.

 

They are doing so because the more they can diminish and divide global entities the more likely they can fill in the gaps and step in as an equal.

 

Regardless.

 

My decision to write something about this had nothing to do with any newspaper headline or twitter conspiracy rumblings about Russian intervention into America’s election but rather it had to do with a Dollar Store book.

 

Yeah.

Every once in a while the Dollar Store <yes … I wander in there on occasion> has a book section with a fairly nice selection of outdated first releases for … well … one dollar.

 

I get them and throw them on my stack of ‘to reads’ and sometimes good … sometime bad. The other night I went thru the stack and decided to pull out “The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin” by Masha Gessen.

 

Well.

 

Within the first 50 pages I saw one after another comparison point to what Trump says and how he behaves to how Putin is described <words and actions>.

 

To be clear I was choicefull with regard to what I pulled out of the book because the author writes with little objectivity and lots of disdain for Putin.

 

Putin is an autocrat but one with characteristics like loyalty to Russia, maniacal self-control, hard work, and a spycraft trained insight into other people’s attitudes & behaviors. Putin’s autocracy seems driven by a commitment to Russia’s revitalization on a global stage balanced by a fear of loss of control <hence his heavy hand leadership>. it is wrong to solely draw distinctions with old Russia <czar or Stalin> but it would also be wrong to ignore the desires to use what may be perceived as the ‘best of the old’ to create and embed in the new Russia.

 

But it isn’t that Putin sees himself in Trump <he may … without the buffoonery aspects> but rather what Putin sees in Trump is the power of divisiveness and the management of power <internally thru law & order and repressing the press> and a desire to not manage power <externally as in isolation and lack of desire to embrace global commitments>.putin-trump-hillary-obama

 

I read somewhere:

 

NO ONE IS EASIER to manipulate than a man who exaggerates his own influence.

 

 

Suffice it to say that Putin and Russia benefit on all counts with Trump.

 

Trump has denied the American people serious debate on policy because he has none himself to debate. Instead what he has offered a smothering blanket of lies promoting fear so that he confuses voters with regard to reality. The danger for the country is that his rhetoric <and potential style> creates huge divisions and brings chaos. He offers only a backward step and America’s “competitors” are happy to step forward.

 

Let’s just assume, take it at face value, that Putin will weigh in wherever he sees an opportunity.

 

The point in highlighting these interferences is not to call for permanent indignation <meddling in other countries’ internal affairs is not totally uncommon in international politics> or to feed the kind of paranoia that sees the Russian president’s hand behind every political development in Europe & the USA. It is, rather, to assess whether such tactics, if pursued, may work and whether any country which Russia targets might substantially change its course on Russia after the elections.

 

Anyway.

 

Here are some excerpts from the book.

Some of the thoughts I pulled struck me as parallels to the attitudes of a large swathe of the citizenry which gave rise to the possibility of Trump.

I will not draw any conclusions nor will I offer any thoughts. All I ask is you read and think about all you have heard and seen from Trump throughout this entire election process:

 

 

  • “He laid out his conditions for my appointment. He said, ‘As long as you don’t butt in on my turf, we’ll be fine.’” Kasyanov, entirely unaccustomed to street language, was struck by Putin’s wording much more than by the substance of what he was saying.

 

 

  • “He is a small, vengeful man,” was how she put it. The case against Gusinsky was, just like the case against Rozhdestvensky, a case of personal vendetta. Gusinsky had not  supported  Putin  in  the

 

 

  • The country was battered, traumatized, and disappointed. It had experienced hope and unity in the late 1980s, culminating in August 1991, when the people beat back the junta that had threatened Gorbachev’s rule. It had placed its faith in Boris Yeltsin, the only Russian leader in history to  have  been  freely    In  return,  the  people  of  Russia  got hyperinflation that swallowed up their life savings in a matter of months; bureaucrats and entrepreneurs who stole from the state and from one another in plain sight; and economic and social inequality on a scale they had never known. Worst of all, many and possibly most Russians lost any sense of certainty in their future—and with it, the sense of unity that had carried them through the 1980s and early 1990s. The Yeltsin government had made the grave mistake of not addressing the country’s pain and fear. Throughout the decade Yeltsin, who had been a true populist, riding the buses and mounting the tanks—whichever the situation happened to require—increasingly withdrew into an impenetrable and heavily guarded world of black limousines and closed conferences.

 

 

  • Yet the government seemed entirely incapable of convincing the people that things were indeed better than they had been a couple of years earlier, and certainly better than a decade earlier. The sense of uncertainty Russians had felt ever since the Soviet Union crumbled under their feet was so great that any losses seemed to confirm their expectation of doom, while any gains were transformed into fears of further loss.

 

 

  • As was the case elsewhere in Russia, a few people were getting very rich very fast, first by buying and selling anything and everything (for example, exporting Russian timber  and  importing  Chinese  umbrellas),  then,  gradually,  by  privatizing  Soviet industrial plants and creating new institutions. Many Russians, however, got poorer—or at least felt a lot poorer: there were so many more goods in the stores now, but they could afford so little. Nearly everyone lost the one thing that had been in abundant supply during the Era of Stagnation: the unshakable belief that tomorrow will not be different from today. uncertainty is a bitchUncertainty made people feel even poorer.

 

 

 

  • The same day, Putin made one of his first television appearances. “We will hunt them down,” he said of the terrorists. “Wherever we find them, we will destroy them. Even if we find them in the toilet. We will rub them out in the outhouse.” Putin was using rhetoric markedly different from Yeltsin’s. He was not promising to bring the terrorists to justice. Nor was he expressing compassion for the hundreds of victims of the explosions. This was the language of a leader who was planning to rule with his fist. These sorts of vulgar statements, often spiced with below-the-belt humor, would become Putin’s signature oratorical device. His popularity began to soar.

 

 

  • “Berezovsky would keep calling me and asking, ‘Isn’t he fucking amazing?’” she told me years later. “I would say, ‘Borya, your problem is, you have never known a KGB colonel. He is not fucking amazing. He is perfectly ordinary.’” “I was  curious,  of  course,  to  know  who  this  guy  was  who  was  now  going  to  run  the country,” she told me. “So I got the sense he liked to talk and he liked to talk about himself. I’ve certainly spoken to many people who were more interesting. I had spent five years writing about the KGB: he was no better or worse than the rest of them; he was smarter than some and more cunning than some.”

 

 

  • “I realized that this was how [Putin] was going to rule. That this is how his fucking brain works. So I had no illusions. I knew this was how he understood the word Patriotism — just the way he had been taught in all those KGB schools: the country is as great as the fear it inspires, and the media should be loyal.”

 

 

  • The informals had no common political platform, or a common language for the discussion of politics, or even a common understanding  of  the  place  of  such  a  discussion,  but  they  shared  two  things:  a distaste for the ways of the Soviet state, and an abiding desire to protect and preserve what little was left of their beloved historic city. “The people of our generation saw only a dead end ahead: if you did not escape, you’d face degradation,” Yelena Zelinskaya recalled twenty years later. Zelinskaya put out one of several samizdat publications that united the informals. “We could no longer breathe among the lies, the hypocrisy, and the stupidity. There was no fear. And as soon as the first rays of light seemed to break through—as soon as people whose hands had been tied were allowed to  move  at  least  a  few  fingers—people  started  to    People  weren’t  thinking  about money, or about improving their standing  in  life;  all  anyone  thought  about  was  freedom. Freedom to conduct your private life as you wish, freedom to travel and see the world. Freedom  from  hypocrisy  and  the  freedom  not  to  listen  to  hypocrisy;  freedom  from  libel, freedom from feeling ashamed for one’s parents, freedom from the viscous lies in which all of us were submerged as if in molasses.”

 

 

  • Rigged for me while espousing rigged is bad. This was the same man who, just a day or two earlier, had emphasized to his biographers how vicious he could be if someone so much as seemed to cross him, the same man who flared up instantly and had a hard time winding down, the same man whom his friends remember all but scratching out his opponents’ eyes when he was angered. Why would this man sit idly while one private company after another violated the terms of the contracts he had signed with them, leaving his city without the food supplies it so badly needed? Because it was rigged to end that way from the beginning, Salye believes. “The point of the whole operation,” she wrote later, “was this: to create a legally flawed contract with someone who could be trusted, to issue an export license to him, to make the customs office open the border on the basis of this license, to ship the goods abroad, sell them, and pocket the money. And that is what happened.”putin-tv-media

 

  • The day the media died. I spent Election  Day,  March  26,  2000,  in    I wanted to  avoid  the  entire question of going to the polls in an election I felt was a mockery, following a campaign best described as a travesty. In the course of less than three months since Yeltsin’s resignation, Putin had not made any political pronouncements—and this, he and his spin people seemed to think, was a virtue: he felt that dancing for his votes was beneath him. His campaign had consisted essentially of the book that put forward his vision of himself as a thug, in addition to a turn at piloting a fighter plane amid much press attention, landing it at Grozny airport a week before the election. His entire political message seemed to be: “Don’t mess with me.

 

  • But I saw a lot of Putin voters among the Chechens too. “I’m sick of war,” a middle-aged man in Grozny told me. “I am sick of being passed on, like a baton, from one gang of thugs to the next.” I looked around: we were in an area of Grozny that had consisted mostly of private homes; now there were only metal fences separating one ghost property from another. “Wasn’t it Putin who did this?” I asked. “War has been going on for ten years,” the man responded, exaggerating only slightly: the first armed uprisings in Chechnya dated back to 1991. “What could he have changed? We long for  a  strong  power,  power  that  is    We  are  the  kind  of  people  who  need  an arbiter.

 

  • <the Kursk submarine disaster> “I did the right thing,” Putin said, “because the arrival of nonspecialists from any field, the presence of high-placed officials in the disaster area, would not help and more often would hamper work. Everyone should keep to his place.” The remark made it clear Putin viewed himself as a bureaucrat—a very important and powerful bureaucrat, but a bureaucrat still. “I’d always thought if you became president, even if you were merely appointed to this role, you had to change,” Marina Litvinovich, the smart young woman who had worked on Putin’s preelection image, told me. “If the nation is crying, you have to cry along with it.”

 

 

  • … spent  nearly  an  hour dissecting Putin’s behavior, replaying some of the president’s least appropriate remarks, focusing  on  showing  him  still  on  vacation,  tanned  and  relaxed  in  light-colored  resort clothing,  smiling  and  laughing  with  his  holiday  companions,  most  of  them  highly  placed officials. Again and again, he showed Putin to have lied. The president claimed that the sea had been stormy for eight days, hampering rescue efforts. In fact, said Dorenko, the weather had been bad only during the first few days, but even that had no effect at the depth at which the Kursk was situated. Dorenko compared Putin to a schoolboy who is late for class. “We don’t know what kind of teacher Putin’s fibs are intended for, but we know what a teacher says in these kinds of cases: ‘I don’t care what you thought was right—I only care that you get here on time.’” “The regime does not respect us, and this is why it lies to us,”

 

 

  • “What a shitty time we’ve lived to see,” said the museum’s director, former dissident Yuri Samodurov, “when we have to stand up in defense of people we don’t like at all, like Gusinsky and Berezovsky. We once lived in a totalitarian state that had two main features: totalizing terror and a totalizing lie. I hope that totalizing terror is no longer possible in our country, but we have now entered a new era of a totalizing lie.”

 

horizon road destination open

  • “He has  put  Russia  on  ice,”  said  one  of  them,  a  man  in  his  fifties  with  a  beautifully chiseled  face  and  tiny  wire-rimmed    “That’s not necessarily bad.  It’s a kind of stabilizing effect. But what happens next?” “It’s like the revolution has ended,” said another, a former dissident with disheveled salt-and-pepper hair and beard. He meant that the society had reverted to its pre–post-Soviet state. “Old cultural values, old habits are back. The whole country is trying to apply old habits to new reality.” “I don’t think anyone really understands anything anymore,” said a third, a short man with a very big nose and a deep voice. I personally held him to be the smartest man in the room — and  he  certainly  should  have  been  the  most  knowledgeable,  because  he  worked  in  the presidential administration. “But all the changes in the last year have occurred in the area of public consciousness,” said another, a liberal political scientist who had come to prominence during perestroika. “The nation has come out of a psychological depression. This is going to be the toughest political era yet, because nationalist ideology is always the strongest.” “But he has to live up to expectations,” objected a scholar from a younger generation, a large man with bushy black eyebrows.

<note: a paragraph later someone noted “we forget this is no longer a liberal democracy … he doesn’t have to live up to expectations of the people.”

 

 

That’s it.

All I know is that every time the author described Putin’s behavior and words I could almost see & hear Trump. This is not to say Trump is a “Putin” <plus … we are stronger as a democracy with checks & balances> but it does give you some pause as you consider the potential Trump management style.

exit and dominoes (my thoughts on Brexit)

June 24th, 2016

 The Palace of Culture and Science is illuminated brexit engkand

 

“It’s an ill wind indeed that blows no good at all.”

 

<’Tis an ill wind that blows nobody any good. Someone profits by every loss; someone is benefited by every misfortune

Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898>

 

================

 

When asked what I believe … I believe the best thing is to dissolve the eurozone as it currently exists. Similar to the Caribbean solution there could possibly end up being euro-regions with their own currency and governmental alignments (with regard to economy) but I would dissolve it.

 

Oh.

 

Regardless. I also believe it will fail even if it isn’t dissolved.

Bruce McTague 2012

==========================

 

 

Well.

 

England leaving the EU.  This is bigger than England … this is about dominoes.

 

This is the first time any member of the 28-nation EU has chosen to leave, or ‘secede from’, the EU. And it will have repercussions for both Great Britain and the EU and the US and the world’s economy.

 

It will have repercussion for any number of things.

No one can truly predict the future state.

 

England should be fine … at some point … but people who point to the past success of an independent England will be mistaken because <my prediction> Scotland will now break away as an independent nation <if EU remains for them to go to>.

 

USA will benefit. Mostly because it is stable, strong and dependable … while the EU overall will have more questions than answers.

 

Europe will not benefit.

 

Here is what everyone seems to be missing in the entire exiting the European Union discussion <that asshat Trump included>… is the world safer with EU or not? <i will answer that later in this post>

 

I personally believe this is the first domino of the EU break up. I admit. I never saw this coming. Well. I kind of did. Back in 2012 I wrote the following in my ‘question of an ongoing eurozone’:

 

intent help flaws self best

Because I mistakenly thought it was a brilliant idea … but I was naive.

 

I selfishly thought the brilliance was having one currency when traveling.

 

My naïve belief was it was going to create a super-country centered around a common currency and creating a ‘super-economy’ to balance America, a growing Asia, emerging countries <Africa> and, at that time, I thought Russia.

 

Well.  Silly me. I ignored <or maybe better said … I was oblivious> to the fact to be truly successful there were three structural components necessary … currency, economic and political.

 

Without alignment on all three the Eurozone idea was doomed for a long struggle if not dismal failure.

 

I wish I had seen this following thought from then Chancellor of Germany Helmut Kohl  in 1991:

 

“Political union is the essential counterpart to economic and monetary union. Recent history, not only in Germany, teaches us that it is absurd to expect in the long run that you can maintain economic and monetary union without political union.”

 

The EU is, and was, a flawed concept implemented in a flawed fashion.

 

Regardless.

 

As Britain exits the EU here is the potential falling domino scenario.

 

The economy. Whew. Should the EU now breakup the rise of nationalism increases almost out of survival instincts. Globalization takes on an entirely new look … hundreds of smaller fragments vying for success all the while stability is not dictated by EU/China/USA but rather China & USA are the two legs of the stool with hundreds of different sizes gnats hovering over them.

 

Regardless.

 

In the here & now.

The top priority has to be to secure economic stability for United Kingdom. But sit back and watch how the economic vultures start lurking around the EU still breathing body. Economically the entire EU as well as Britain is going to be fighting maybe not for its Life … but certainly for Life as it exists today.

 

And all that does is impact … well … global safety and security.

 

When individual interest trumps the interest of a larger whole … well … conflict increases … and increase exponentially as the number of player increase on the playing field. Think of it like the old Rollerball movie.

 

Global stability will … well … no longer be as stable. It will most likely take on a new, different type of ‘managed chaos.’

And global stability will be challenged by increased conflict.

 

Conflict between competeing economies <and currencies>.

 

Conflict for global advantage.

 

Conflict for resources.

 

Imagine all of that I just said with regard to Britain’s leaving the EU if it pertained to the overall breakup of the 28 country EU. Especially the last one … conflict for resources.

 

danger wrong wayI begin this point by saying … ignore climate change at your own peril.

Climate change indirectly affects economies through access , or loss of access, to resources. The EU softens an individual country’s challenges with regard to resources <heavy droughts, lack of water in general, lack of food sources, etc.> management. Without the EU individual country’s resources will be restricted by their own boundaries … therefore… any resource crisis will potentially create desperate measures to resolve. That is called ‘war.’ Just remember … more wars have been fought over resources, like water and access to water, than religion, ideology or anything else.

 

Anyway.

It will certainly take some time for the UK to establish a new relationship with Europe and the rest of the world. So market and economic volatility can be expected as this process unfolds.

Just as it will take some time for the EU to establish a new relationship … well … with itself.

 

Britain’s economy is fundamentally strong so it will not crumble <but the suggestion it will rise to dominate the world as it did in the 1700’s is silly>.

 

But it subtly changes the dynamics of a global economy. And subtle changes are often like tectonic plates in which there are volcanoes, earthquakes and some inevitable major repercussions.

 

 

But.

 

The reason why Trump likes this is because he believes in success out of chaos. He has a warped vision of a competitive business environment in which if everyone is fighting, and the more who fight the better, the stronger the ultimate outcome.

That is his belief.

 

The reality reflects something different. In his world the few succeed, the few prosper, the few dominate the many.

 

And that, my friends, is what most likely happens if the EU fails.

 

And while I predicted it would, and will, I also suggested dissolving it so that some smart people could actually create the new norm rather than have the global entities scramble to create the new norm.

 

Lastly.

The voting & voters.

 

Lastly.

 

The voting & voters.

 

Overall there is a true misunderstanding or lack of understanding with regard to global trade and the global economy. And we will never reach a point where the everyday schmuck sitting at the kitchen table looking at their own horrible bank account draining bills to pay will ever truly understand. But voters vote, mostly, with the kitchen table thoughts n mind, not the globalization truth that exists.

 

The Brexit vote was a naïve vote. One driven mostly by individual thoughts.

 

And to make the point clearer … it was truly the middle aged kitchen table voter … because almost 75% of the 25&under aged voter voted to remain in EU. The young voted with the future in mind and the older voted with the past in mind.  vote young

 

Regardless.

 

In the USA it is kind of like the overall discussions of NAFTA and any other globalization trade deal or trade laws. From the kitchen table they look anti-American … yet … they create lower prices for us to put shit on the kitchen table and , in general, while they shift some jobs away from the US they also create jobs IN the US. that is the way a global economy works.

 

Individual countries & economies ebb & flow if they are tapped into the grater whole of a global economy.

 

That is what Britain now has to deal with.

 

And, ultimately, if you are considering Trump … that is what you need to deal with.

 

Britain leaving the EU was not a smart choice. But, in my eyes, it was inevitable.

The non-smartest thing was that it happened this way and wasn’t a planned exit.

 

I am not suggesting this is the end of the world as we know it. It is possibly just the beginning of a new look for the globalization economy world. One that may be more dynamic in spurts and more challenged at other times. Entities like the EU “flattened” economic swings. Maybe we miss the highs a little bit but we also avoid the massive lows. If only for this point we would miss the EU if this is the beginning of the end.

 

the purple palace

November 16th, 2013

 

“What’s missing from pop music is danger.” – Princeprince rasberry beret

 

Ok.

This is a self indulgent quasi musical-quasi biographical thought I have been meaning to write for some time … it is also kind of my nod to an influential 50something.

 

A 50something who while being curmudgeonly in his older years … was also curmudgeonly when young … as well as he has reinvented himself and his music several times … never losing what was at his core <danger> … and remains relevant today as he was back in 1980.

 

This is about Prince.

 

To me Prince is a musical genius and an incredibly talented guitar player and musician. It’s hard to argue that Prince is one of the most talented and versatile musicians to ever set foot in a recording studio <even if you have not acquired a taste for his music>.  Since 1978 he has over 30 albums and had dozens of hit singles and even had a few movies.

 

“No child is bad from the beginning, they just imitate their atmosphere.” – Prince, Sexuality

 

 

and Prince as a live act? <which I have been fortunate enough to see him twice> Stupendously memorable.

 

Just go back and watch the movie Purple Rain again <and grit your teeth to get thru the horrendous acting> to see and listen to the music.

Prince and the Revolution are spectacular.

 

Computer Blues may be one of the most overlooked songs of all time.

Let’s go Crazy is an almost perfect song beginning to end.

And Darling Nikki remains one of the rarest of rare good “fuck you” songs of all time. Good enough that it pissed off Tipper Gore so much she formed the Parents Music Resource Center which – unfortunately – began the whole “parental advisory” stickers on explicit albums <thanks Prince>.

 

 

And then there was Sign O the Times album. Two words … ‘Oh my’.

Created from remnants of three abandoned albums <Crystal Ball, Dream Factory and the untitled “Camille project”> Sign O The Times is a wonderfully crafted album. Some call it his masterpiece.

It has a little of everything for everyone … funk, pop, rock, blues and soul.

 

            “In this life, things are much harder than in the afterworld. In this life, you’re on your own.” – Prince, Let’s Go Crazy

 

          “Everybody gets high, everybody gets low, these are the days when anything goes.” – Prince song <Sheryl Crow, Every Day Is A Winding Road>

 

His band, The Revolution, was also a crazy – sometimes under appreciated – good band <Wendy and Lisa going off and doing some really good stuff on their own>.

 

prince hi lowsMorris Day and the Time may truly be the the hidden gem associated with Prince  <seen in Purple Rain>. A good band in their own right … they also were  spectacular live.

 

Live <I was fortunate enough to see The Time as well as Prince> their choreography <which you can see some of in the movie> in combination with their music was a funk non stop musical party. Band members Terry Lewis and Jimmy Jam went on to be one of the best producer teams ever <they produced Janet Jackson’s first albums and you can see them in her Control video> and Jesse Johnson went solo.

 

Well.

All this brings back some memories.

So you can skip this part if you would like because I am going to digress. So bear with me … give me a moment and let me reminisce.

 

 

It begins in Tampa Florida in the early mid 1980’s. The Time song The Bird was a mainstay at my favorite bar at the time <and I met a future girlfriend dancing on the bar to Jungle Love one night>.

 

That place was called The Yucatan Liquor Stand.yucatan liquor

Some people say that music is the soundtrack of life … so Prince and The Time was a part of my 20something soundtrack.

And that time certainly centered around that place called the Yucatan Liquor Stand.

And a best friend who we did so many things together that my parents, separated from my life by distance and my typical non communicative self, had to ask if we were gay.

<please note: which was an incredibly funny but incredibly uncomfortable phone conversation to have with parents … I will come back to this later>.

 

And a really special young lady who, for over 3 years of my life, played a significant role.

 

Yucatan Liquor Stand was THE Tampa bar/dance club at that time. My best friend and I probably went at least one night every weekend for almost 2 years.

Oh … and ‘her’ … the special young lady.

Yucatan is where I first saw her as she was dancing on the bar. She was  a waitress working her way through college. As the waitresses typically did every time Morris Day & the Time ‘Jungle Love’ came on the speakers … she was there on the bar … and it was one of those ‘boy, I need to meet her’ moments. And when I did … The Time’s role? I am fairly sure our first dance together was to Jungle Love.

 

Uhm <picture head hanging with some embarrassment here>.

While there is no photo proof I am fairly sure I was on the bar prince dancng on bardancing several times afterwards <doing the Fresh Prince Swerve I am sure>.

<different story and different post>.

 

Anyway.

 

Thanks to The Time that dance led to hearing my first real ‘I love you’ <not a puppy love one> several years later … over a phone as I stood in the Columbus Ohio airport on a Halloween night.

 

That dance led to a Christmas trip that began with a Christmas Eve plane trip with diamond earrings in my bag. Led to a return flight having learned that love between two people isn’t always enough <timing matters>. Led to a scar, that remains today on my hand, from where I had gouged a significant portion from my hand on the corner of a highchair as I desperately dove to keep Tyler, her infant rambunctious son, from falling <note: being a manly man … with all its insecurities … I hid the gouge the entire visit because I feared disappointing her after she permitted me responsibility for her child as she slept late and I almost failed miserably … but I am fairly sure her mother knew>. Led, lastly, to learning that it could be worse than leaving love behind … as I, in my own misery, flew on a puddle jumper small plane home with a 300+ pound Texan, wearing a 10 gallon hat, across the aisle from me who was flying home from gambling in Atlantic City over Christmas … all by himself.

 

Anyway. Back to Tampa.

 

This was also the time of my best friend, who abhorred Prince’s music, who put up with the music … focusing more on his overall love of MTV <when the station actually played music videos> … and nights at the Yucatan <although I am not sure he ever danced> playing pool upstairs and talking with women.

 

But most importantly … this was two guys in a time of our indestructible 20’s.

I remember as we sat together in lawn chairs with coolers of beer watching the sea water rise closer and closer to the top of the sea wall at our apartment complex as the largest hurricane in a decade made its appearance <please note that we were smart enough to get up once the water began creeping over the sea wall>.

 

 

He was the guy who listened to me babble on about the Yucatan waitress.

 

He was the inseparable sports and drinking buddy. He had an unfailing schedule of taping Miami Vice <which was on Friday nights>, driving to Yucatan <which we clearly remembered> and driving home <which was not as clear in memory … fuzzy at times> and being up and playing some sport and starting all over the next morning.

 

Which leads me back to the ‘are you gay?” parents question.

Because I must have mumbled about enough about he & I doing shit over the phone with life updates to my parents that on one hungover Sunday morning they brought me wide awake with the question … “hey, it’s okay with us … but … well … you talk about you guys so much … well … are you gay? … hey … it’s okay with us … we have gay friends.” Insert silence here.

<between the silence shock factor and the smothered immediate loud laugh … I knew I had a story I could tell for the rest of my life>.

 

Anyway.

The shit he and I did and the fact we lived to tell others about it is a testament to the indestructibility of the 20’s.

 

Whew.

Ok. I am back to Prince.

Sorry. I digressed. Prince can do that to anyone I imagine.

 

I guess I write this because music IS the soundtrack of our lives. We can all remember moments and songs and singers and the role it all played in the moments of our lives.

 

In this case it was Prince and his music. Was Prince’s music integral to my life? Certainly not.

But.

 

His 50th birthday made me think about times and moments I hadn’t remembered for quite some time.

 

And you know what?

prince purple rainIf Prince <or The Time> does that for other people as well … that is a really nice legacy to leave behind.

 

Anyway <another personal story>.

 

I also remember visiting First Avenue, the Prince club most known from the movie Purple Rain, when in Minneapolis on a business trip <only to see Prince … the littlest waifish guy I have ever seen … slide through the crowd flanked by two trucks in the guise of human bodies>.

 

And watching him play?

 

Despite Prince’s reputation for being incredibly sexual and raunchy on stage … the dude could play an amazing guitar and he wrote some intricate wonderful songs.

 

He was also a darn good <if not slightly controlling> producer for other artists like his former bandmate Morris Day’s new band The Time, Vanity, Apollonia, The Family, and Sheila E.

<another personal note: I have a good editor friend Charly who worked with him at his Minneapolis Paisley Studios and told me Prince was a detail nutso freak in the studio … but an amazingly talented editor, producer & writer>

 

In the end … I always thought Prince was at his best with The Revolution:

 

Prince on lead vocals, guitar, and piano

Wendy Melvoin on guitar and vocals

Brown Mark on bass guitar and vocals

Lisa Coleman on keyboards, piano and vocals

Matt “Doctor” Fink on keyboards and vocals

Bobby Z. on drums

 

And the Time?

 

By 1981, he had built The Time out of a Minneapolis funk band, “Flyte Time” which featured Jellybean Johnson on drums, Jimmy Jam and Monte Moir on keyboards, and Terry Lewis on bass.

To this base group were added Jesse Johnson on guitar and a lead singer and childhood friend named Morris Day as well as Jerome Benton who was a promoter drawn from another local band called “Enterprise” <Jerome was awesome as Day’s personal comic foil>.

 

The Time:

 

Morris Day – Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals

Jesse Johnson – Guitar, Backing Vocals

Monte Moir – Keyboard, Backing Vocals

Jimmy Jam – Keyboard, Backing Vocals

Terry Lewis – Bass, Backing Vocals

Jerome Benton – Backing Vocals, Percussion

Jellybean Johnson – Drums, Guitar, Backing Vocals

<THAT was a band, my friends, all doing quite well on their own>

 

Anyway.

 

Let me end with My top 5 favorite Prince songs <by the way … this was difficult … he has a bunch of very very good songs>.prince suit

Note that I would normally have lots of youtube or vevo videos here … but Prince has gone after YouTube for allowing users to post his copyrighted videos up without his permission and video material of how work is difficult to come by.

 

–          “Computer Blue” http://www.jukebo.com/prince/music-clip,computer-blue,x088xv.html

The chord shift <I think> at about the 2;00 mark is brilliant. This is a crazy good song.

 

 

–          “Money don’t Matter

Good luck trying to find ‘Money don’t Matter’ anywhere on the internet … but it is a fabulous song.

 

 

–          “Let’s go Crazy”

Probably the most iconic rock pop song Prince ever did. It is non stop musical joy. The guitar riff will last for eternity in music legend.

 

–          Pop Life

In 1985, Prince followed up the massive success of the Purple Rain album and film with Around The World In A Day, a psychedelic pop record that only someone as weird as Prince could make.  Despite its many nods to psychedelia, one of ATWIAD’s best songs was “Pop Life,” a song that addresses social issues like the dangers of drugs.

The layered piano riffs, some swirling strings mixed with some sarcastic lyrics like “… what’s that underneath your hair? … is there anybody living there?“ make this a top 5 Prince song.

 

–          “Nothing Compares 2 U”  <done by Sinead O’Connor in 1990>

Prince has written many female vocalists’ songs including Chaka Khan, Sheila E. (“The Glamorous Life”), Vanity (“Nasty Girl”), Apollonia (“Sex Shooter”), and The Bangles (“Manic Monday”).

But no other singer ever managed to take a Prince song and so fully make it her own as Sinead O’Connor did with “Nothing Compares 2 U.” Originally written for side project The Family, the song was all but ignored until O’Connor tore through the opening salvo (“It’s been seven hours and 15 days since you took your love away”) against producer Nellee Hooper’s spare piano-and-drum backdrop. The result is unforgettable.

 

I struggle to think Prince could have ever performed this song better than Sinead but if I could ask him to try … this would be the song I would put in front of him.

 

 

Please note.

 

I almost included When Doves Cry which was the last song written for Purple Rain and is a musical masterpiece. The opening guitar riff grabs your attention prince overcast days neverand doesn’t let go until the sparsely arranged song comes to an end.

 

And Raspberry Beret remains my personal favorite Prince song of all time … but it is not a particularly spectacularly written song so I aimed for the better written songs.

 

Happy 50something Prince.

Great memories.

Great music.

questioning an ongoing eurozone

August 30th, 2012

So.

 

 

It seems like I get asked my thoughts about the Eurozone a lot these days.

 

And I have been thinking about writing about the euro and the Eurozone for some time.

 

This could be a painfully long and intense post but I have elected to keep it quasi-brief and summary-like thoughts.

 

And I know where to begin.

 

Because I mistakenly thought it was a brilliant idea … but I was naive.

 

I selfishly thought the brilliance was having one currency when traveling.

 

My naïve belief was it was going to create a super-country centered around a common currency and creating a ‘super-economy’ to balance America, a growing Asia, emerging countries <Africa> and, at that time, I thought Russia.

 

 

Well.

 

Silly me. I ignored <or maybe better said … I was oblivious> to the fact to be truly successful there were three structural components necessary … currency, economic and political.

 

Without alignment on all three the Eurozone idea was doomed for a long struggle if not dismal failure.

 

 

I wish I had seen this following thought from then Chancellor of Germany Helmut Kohl  in 1991:

 

“Political union is the essential counterpart to economic and monetary union. Recent history, not only in Germany, teaches us that it is absurd to expect in the long run that you can maintain economic and monetary union without political union.”

 

Now.

 

To be clear.

 

He was not suggesting a super country but rather an alignment within constituents. The monetary, the euro currency, to be complemented by a fiscal/economic and political union so there could be control of individual country spending and coordination of economic policy within constituents.

 

chaos team alignmentThe currency came. But not the alignment of the constituents on the remainder.

 

The discussion of a fiscal alignment fell apart into a set of what they called “convergence criteria” which set limits to public debt as a % of GDP and deficits under 3%.

 

In my own pea like brain at that time I guess I had envisioned a quasi-euro parliament guiding this super cargo ship of economy insuring the overall interests of the entire Union were met while also permitting individual constituents the highs, or lows, they deserved – within a range.

 

Nope.

 

And I should have remembered that Caribbean had tried something similar in the late 50s. After dissolving that “union of constituents” in 1962 individual islands have struggled, and some have prospered, and regional combinations of islands have been successful <I am actually surprised more ‘experts’ do not pull this example out of the bag when discussing the repercussions should the Euro concept be dismantled>.

 

 

Anyway.

 

The Eurozone <EU>.

 

Without a governmental oversight <aligning, at minimum, economic interests> the Eurozone has turned into a one currency pegged to a median while all the constituents, individual countries, may have inflated or deflated economies against the median. Therefore it can make the best even better and the worst even worse. Oh. Which it did <oops>.

For example, while Germany is getting a lot of great press on its austerity and debt management one should remember that they managed a misalignment with debt in maybe the early 2000’s <or they assessed risk well and assumed some short term debt bubble> in addition their economy in particular has benefited from a currency pegged on a median, therefore offering great value in exports, when their economy is prospering. Some reports suggest that the media currency value has added at least three points to their overall GDP growth.

 

 

My fleeting point here is that Germany is not the formula for all constituents.

 

Regardless.

 

 

The euro concept has also eliminated a valuable tool – the possibility of floating an individual’s country currency against its individual economy. It doesn’t solve all the issues but it does provide a key economic tool to manage value without being burdened by the success, or failure, of others.

 

 

Look.

 

Using Germany (who is doing well now) as a guide for all countries is insanely stupid. Unless the countries revenue generating economy mirrors Germanys (which none do I believe) a country needs to customize economic management based on the country. And, once again, a country loses an important management tool if they cannot manipulate the value of its currency.

 

It is a catch22.

 

So.

 

When asked what I believe … I believe the best thing is to dissolve the eurozone as it currently exists. Similar to the Caribbean solution there could possibly end up being euro-regions with their own currency and governmental alignments (with regard to economy) but I would dissolve it.

 

Oh.

 

Regardless. I also believe it will fail even if it isn’t dissolved.

 

And I believe that thought maybe for an odd reason <which I frankly haven’t seen anywhere else>.

 

Lack of patience.

 

Let me explain.

 

intent help flaws self best

The best argument I have seen for why the Euro WILL survive is a simple one … while the Eurozone was a flawed design in conception <mainly because no one really wanted to build that particular house in the beginning> that as each crisis is faced ultimately the partially built house will be completed room by room out of necessity. And I actually agree with that thought. Crisis forces constituents to make the hard choices & decisions.

 

But.

 

No one has the patience.

 

Structural reforms pay off in the longer term. And no one has patience for long term <even if long term is really only 2 to 3 years>.

 

Even today we see the signs of it. Several of the steps taken to resolve the situations in Spain are 2 year plans <at minimum> to be truly effective. Yet if people do not see results now they clamor for more discussion and more solutions and … well … more of more. Is discussion bad in itself? Nope. But it also takes your eye off the ball.

 

 

In addition. While global economy actually needs more spending <and even some inflationary aspects> which leads to some increased deficits in stronger economies, because of overall fear, the people who shouldn’t be seeking to lower deficits will continue focusing on deficit management.

 

<by the way … that last thought is one America should be focusing on rather than debt>

 

 

In today’s world we just do not have the patience. Well. Let’s say in the western world we just do not have the patience. Asia <and China> tend to have a longer view.

 

Anyway.

 

I could be surprised.

 

And probably will be I imagine.

 

 

I was certainly wrong about the Eurozone when it was created. I could certainly be wrong here. Or maybe better said … I wasn’t wrong … I just had flawed thinking.

 

There is certainly an opportunity to strengthen the structure and rebuild the beauty in the breakdownflawed institutional architecture but I just don’t see how (1) the constituents will align to do so and (2) withstand the public scrutiny and have the patience to make, and take, the hard choices.

 

Oh.

 

And dissolving the Union? Painful. 2 years <at least> of the shit hitting the fan.

 

But.

 

Maintaining the current course <or current list of actions> is simply absurd as an ongoing solution … globally as well as european-wise.

 

Me? Rip the bandage off quickly. Lots more immediate pain but less pain overall.

Enlightened Conflict