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.

navigators versus sledge hammers

January 4th, 2017

Innovative solution plan as a pencil trying to find way out of maze breaking through the labyrinth as a business concept and creative metaphor for strategy success and planning achievement.

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“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”

—-

Plato

 

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“A person who can think differently and truly on his feet will always find it difficult to sit and fit as an employee in a workplace, for his attitude & approach towards the work will often hit the ego of most co-workers.”

 

Anuj Somany

 

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“If u want to work in Corporate, then u should know how to play Chess.”

honeya

 

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Ok.

 

I was asked recently about a past job I had where I had struggled to be sledge-hammer-maze-business-get-shit-donesuccessful. After hemming and hawing a little <I have never really been sure what hemming or hawing was> I answered “the position required a dedicated navigator with navigator skills and I am a sledgehammer with some navigator vision.”

 

<note: I didn’t understand that until actually into the role & assumed responsibility>

 

 

Yeah.

 

I am a sledge hammer.

Always have been and I assume I always will be.

 

I respect navigators but they are too slow for my tastes, far too often worried about political correctness and always too skewed toward what is important politically versus ‘what is the right thing to do.’

 

Ok.

 

Let me explain navigators and sledge hammers.

 

In business, there are just some people who see office politics <which all organizations have whether you like it or not> and they have the skills and vision to navigate them to get shit done <they also tend to benefit personally with this skill>.

 

In business, there are just some people who want to get the right shit done and believe if it is right then … well … it is better to just say ‘damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead’ rather than screw around with navigating people’s feelings and politics.

 

 

Now.

 

That doesn’t mean that sometimes a navigator isn’t more effective and that a navigator, which is tightly associated with someone who can play office politics, is always a corporate whore.stay the course direction path compass

 

That also doesn’t mean that there aren’t navigators with good moral compasses because there are a shitload of navigator managers who are skilled organizational politicians who do not showcase questionable behavior or even distastefully ‘sucking-up’ behavior.

 

Pretty much any leader worth a shit takes a realistic approach to managing around workplace politics. This does not mean they are ‘political’, per se, or want to play the political game … it’s just they understand that you have to navigate competing interests, whatever resources may be available, the nuances of what is viewed as authority <and who has the authority … which is most typically “enough to hang yourself’>, the bendable organizational rules and whatever information is available.

 

And, to be clear, the best of the navigators have a sledge hammer in their tool box <and use it on occasion>.

 

And, to be clear, the best of the sledge hammers have either some navigational skills or, at minimum, navigational vision <i.e., they can ‘see’ the politics and organizational rubble affecting your path>.

 

Me?

 

I am a sledgehammer.

 

I like to get shit done.

do what communiqueAlways have and always will.

 

Okay.

 

I like getting smart shit done.

 

And I really like getting smart ‘right’ shit done.

 

The nuance between that stuff is clear … if all I did was get shit done, smart & right being set aside, politics and navigating would become almost irrelevant.

Because then you are simply a doer <not a thinker or a thinker/doer>.

 

But even as a sledge hammer you recognize that whether you hate it, admire it, practice it or avoid it, office politics is a fact of life in any organization. And, like it or not, it’s something that you need to understand to insure not only your professional success but the success of the good shit you want to do.

 

Yeah. Sure.

“Politics” certainly has a negative connotation. It most often refers to strategies people use to seek advantage at the expense of others or the greater good.

In this context, it often adversely affects the working environment and relationships within it.

 

<and sledge hammers abhor this type of politics bullshit>

 

I hesitate to suggest there could ever be something called “good office politics” but some organizational expert asshats believe that is the kind of crap you do which helps you fairly promote yourself and your ideas <they call it networking and stakeholder management … I call it the ‘necessary bullshit you just have to suck up and do in order to get good shit done’>.

 

As a sledge hammer I realized that there were some things that a navigator thinking-maze-navigator-business-sledge-hammer-do-shitwas good at and I should learn if I wanted to be a more effective sledgehammer.

 

About the only thing I truly value in a navigator is “social astuteness.”

 

This is the ability to read and anticipate situations – allows you to prepare, adapt and tailor your behavior based on the people and conditions around you.

In my words this is being aware of the people & what they believe and the situation organizationally.

 

Let’s just call this “context” <at least that is how a sledgehammer views it>.

 

Now.

 

Being aware is different than acting upon it.

Being aware meant that it prepared me, and my groups, to manage the carnage or consequences of slamming your way straight thru a maze.

 

As a sledge hammer it pays to understand the real map, or maze, of the organization.

Internal politics, more often than not, has little to do with the real organizational chart they give you when you sign on.

 

Someone outlined this important crap to be aware of really well:

    Who are the real influencers?

    Who has authority but doesn’t exercise it?

    Who is respected?

    Who champions or mentors others?

    Who is “the brains behind the organization”?

 

 

As a sledge hammer I realized there were absolutely some things that were in my control as I bashed my way through the middle of the maze getting to where I believed an idea, or the business at large should go.

 

office-politics-navigator-sledgehammer-business-jerks-speechBut, as a sledge hammer, I also recognized I needed to manage my own behavior <this lesson took some time … and learned thru some painful trial & error>.

 

Through watching others and some painful trial & error you learn what works in your organization’s culture.

 

But you learn really fast … as in REALLY fast … that as a sledge hammer you invest exactly 0% of your time and 0 energy on:

 

 

  • Gossip & spreading rumors: you learn to shut up and even when you hear something you wait and assess the credibility

 

  • interpersonal conflicts – you avoid “like/dislike people” discussions and certainly do not get sucked into arguments

 

 

  • Integrity above all: this is a sledge hammer mantra … be professional, do not cut corners, do things right and always remember the organization’s interests

 

  • No complaining: a sledgehammer accepts it will not be easy and you don’t whine about the tough path you have chosen <because it is the path you have chosen>

 

  • Confidence: a sledgehammer is assertive not arrogant, proactive maybe edging on aggressive without ever sneaking into aggressiveness

 

  • Never personal: a sledge hammer has only one thing in focus … the good of the organization <it is NEVER personal>

 

  • Transparency:  assume everything is gonna be seen anyway so you may as well share it all

 

 

Look.

 

Here is what I know.

 

no-way-said-that-in-a-meeting-sledgehammer-goes-right

……… whoa … did you guys do THAT ………..

When you are a sledgehammer and everything goes right it is not only the best in the world for you but organizationally everyone kind of goes “whoa, that was something.”

 

<which is kind of cool and makes it all worthwhile>

 

 

I will admit.

 

Being a sledgehammer is a lonelier way to conduct business than being a navigator. It isn’t that you are not liked nor does it mean you aren’t viewed as a team member at the table but navigators, I tend to believe, are just more social human beings & employees.

 

But sledge hammers have one thing in common … we are all homesick for an organization where we can not think about anything but getting good smart shit done.

 

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“I am homesick for a place I am not sure even exists.

One where my heart is full. My body loved. And my soul understood.

 

(via lipstick-bullet)

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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.

Enlightened Conflict