Trump making classic narcissistic CEO blunder

Reading The New York Times’ thoroughly reported tale of decline, Inside the Failing Mission to Tame Donald Trump’s Tongue, I am struck by Trump’s focus on his rallies as evidence of his assured election, despite the ample evidence to the contrary.

Success at business meetings when it’s All About You, a trait shared by The Orange D with narcissistic CEOs, is different than real engagement with the electorate. Rallies, especially the subjective size of the crowd (always “yuge” in Trump’s estimation), are misleading indicators in a national campaign. Trump and his fellow narcissists judge success by their ability to draw a crowd. Likewise, Trump’s focus on the “historic” number of votes he received and lost, despite the general increase in the number of voters overall due to population growth, demonstrates his inability to understand the underlying meaning of the data, which is simply political trivia.

Trump’s team is not really campaigning so much as identifying locations that are the optimum distance from a large enough population to ensure a crowd of 5,000 to 10,000 for the boss. His real estate mindset serves him well as a showman who needs a crowd, but it doesn’t do any good for his electoral math. This explains why he can justify two upcoming events in Washington state, which he is assured to lose in November. Except for the value to Trump’s ego, the trips are an otherwise wasted effort to win the election.

Then there is his mouth, which hurts him with voters who are not caught up in an in-person love fest with Donald Trump. Words are all that get out of the event venue. Crowd’s feed Trump’s worst trait, his ego, which is connected to the world through his mouth. He says all the craziest things they would only dream of saying, so it’s more like a rock concert or a twisted self-help event than a political rally for the crowd. There is genuine shared enmity in the room for everyone not in the room, which unites a certain kind of crowd. For everyone watching from the outside, it’s a turn-off.

The narcissistic CEO holds meetings to hear how well he or she is doing, in contrast to more successful CEOs who constantly study the operation of their company for improvements. For Trump, the crowd’s the juice that makes his brand go. As the big orange one noted this week, the company is having its “best year ever.” It’s an open question whether Trump distinguishes between dollars and voters when speaking in terms of his campaign’s success. That he doesn’t plainly see the difference in value between a dollar and a voter speaks volumes to this writer.

Trump obviously loves his crowds, and cannot be advised to embrace a different kind of campaign style, because the only measure that matters is Trump’s happiness. His team, which includes his vaunted family, are failing Trump, because they’ve been organized around Trump’s self-centered need for attention. It’s more evidence of why Trump is thoroughly unqualified to be President of the United States.

Improvisational Writing

I’ve been writing a bit every evening, using comments or postings on Facebook as a prompt. When something captures my attention, I start writing, trying to take an analytic view in the case below of riff on the 2016 Presidential campaign. Some replies on Facebook become a complete idea sometimes.

For example, this evening my friend Scott Anderson commented on an article I posted about Donald Trump.

He wrote: Is he worse than Cruz? They are all bat shit crazy

And the improvisation started:

They’re both in the batshit crazy category, but it is so batshit crazy inside that category that you can never say which is currently more batshit crazy.

You may think one is batshit crazier than the other with a high degree of certainty and just then, with an audibly sharp “Frack,” the other goes batshit crazier to take the lead. I haven’t been able to test it, but I theorize that this happens several thousand times a second. The egos of Trump and Cruz are so massively bat shit crazy that the pressures must be intense. If we could tune into the signal, see the singularity of batshit craziness in the Republican primary, where would that insight lead us?

How about Gore/Warren, with Bernie Sanders designated to become Attorney General or Secretary of Health and Human Services, against Rubio/Kasich (Strident and Duller)? That’s my prediction. Gore’s too rich now to be bought, an idea the Trumpies seem to value, and he could tap the Kennedy era spirit of reinvention in the face of global warming. Gore has the money, and could bring plenty of Democratic money, to battle the Koch Network. Finally, he can take the mantel of economic growth from Bill Clinton, something Hillary can’t do. Just spitballing that Gore idea.

Jump in, Al Gore, jump in! [End improvisation]

I’m going to keep this up. I’ll post the complete ideas that emerge. Some of these will be steps toward broader consequences of the election, but I’ll write about technology and business, too.

We live in the Age of Guile

The following in response to Joe Eisner on Facebook:

Maybe Trump will be the man who sells the world. He and his sidekick, Vladimir Putin, will have a reality show that satisfies their insatiable egos. We’ve lived to see the stranger become truth and everything, from the economy to political decisions, fiction.

I hope his presidential reality tv catchphrase will be “Come on Vlad, let’s find some broads” instead of the insidious evil in “Build walls and burn the disagreers–we’ll rebuild at a higher margin per square foot,” which seems to be his current game plan.

Your friend in confusing times. Etc.

Our ancestors lived in various golden and guilded eras, which counted only money as outcomes. The new aspect of our times involve the use of social capital massive advantage. A rich television star and a democratic socialist are leveraging those uncounted advantages this election cycle to rally apparently powerful political bases.

I suggest our current economic-political environment be referred to as “The Age of Guile.” Cunning use of social capital produces a Trump, on the one hand, and a Bernie Sanders on the other. Bernie uses more truth than Trump, as a recent Washington Post analysis, which is debated here, as all analysis ought to be. Nevertheless, Sanders hones his message to be attractive to his base, who are prepared to repeat it in social media wherever he says it, very much like Trump. That’s why Bernie Sanders can marshal millions of dollars in small donations each month without a lot of spending. Trump has broken all records for campaign spending efficiency using the same strategy.

Guile can be used for good, as the Star Wars franchise demonstrated in its first trilogy, when the Force triumphed over evil. Since then the Force has always been on the struggling side of the Skywalker family’s internal battles. Likewise, there seem to be more quiet bigots in waiting for Trump than there will be college kids fired up by Senator Saunders.

Guile has outwitted the Republican and Democratic establishments. Rabid libertarian capitalism has more money to throw behind its candidate than all of academia combined. Wealthy guile is likely to triumph over rambunctious age combined with a youth movement, and only if Sanders can get past Hillary Clinton.

Trump looks like the potential winner who is most tyrannical of all available choices. He’s emblematic of The Age of Guile, and guile’s most dangerous practitioner.

Hobby Lobby ruling: Back to the middle ages

Except for Dred Scott v. Sandford, today’s Supreme Court ruling allowing “closely held companies” such as Hobby Lobby to decide what forms of birth control may be available to employees, is the dumbest, most backwardly venal decision by a group of men (all male majority in the case) in the history of the Supreme Court. At least, like Chief Justice Taney, all these men will eventually die and be remembered for this kind of crony capitalist decision, which will be humiliating to live with until it is overturned.

We’ve put women in the back of the medical care bus, a man at the wheel, and decided to close our eyes to gender bias and the influence of money on health care in the United States. Too bad that the conservatives on the Court did not listen to the advice of another conservative Chief Justice, William Rehnquist, who wrote a memo while clerking for Justice Jackson in 1952, when Brown v. Board of Education ended the Scott decision’s influence on public policy by striking down the segregation of schools: “Scott v. Sandford was the result of Taney‘s effort to protect slaveholders from legislative interference.” Taney ignored basic facts to ensure a system of human slavery was sustained, the Court’s majority today is ignoring medical advice to accommodate profit combined with bigotry.

In the meantime, join me in taking a pledge:

I will not shop at any store that places the owner’s religious beliefs above the employees’ freedom to choose medical treatment. America is great when we can each choose a personal path based on our own values, not when it enforces the values of any group, majority or minority, male or female, straight or gay population, regardless of religious affiliation, on the rest of population.

We’ll always have the reversal of the decision to look forward to, which could come with just one more woman on the Court, but we have to wait for it, for now. Hopefully, not for as long as the Scott decision to be tossed out,which took more than a century.

Liberty

“Does the love of virtue denote any wish to discover or amend our own faults? No, but it atones for an obstinate adherence to our own vices by the most virulent intolerance to human frailties.” — William Hazlitt, On the Pleasure of Hating

We like to say we’re all on our own in this day and age, competing for our share of the goods available and free to choose. That simple assumption could destroy liberty by making it appear irrelevant in an age of apparent plenty.

If we are all going to sink into our own little digitally enabled just-in-time worlds, the assurance of liberty we’ll grant one another is all the more important to achieving justice and the diversity of lifestyles we hope to provide to our children.

I want my children to have the liberty to experience the odd and wonderful lives they could, not ones defined only by the services they can afford or a narrow range of choices allowed by the prevailing definition of normal.
 

Never count chickens before they are hatched (Obama Wins Iowa Republican Caucus)

That said, the Iowa Caucuses results to the moment suggests that 50% of the Republican electorate are casting their votes for Ron Paul and Rick Santorum, two thoroughly un-electable candidates. This is not going to be a good year for Republican presidential aspiration. The ideological splits between Romney and these two are greater than those between Barak Obama’s centrist approach to the presidency and any Republican that could possibly be elected this year.

Iowa’s only marginally useful in predicting the ultimate nominee, as the Republican winner in the state caucus has gone on to win the nomination only five of the last eight times and fares about the same on the Democratic side, as well. Mike Huckabee won in 2008 and couldn’t surface a campaign this time around. But seriously, Ron Paul and Rick Santorum? Neither has a committed constituency that can pull more than 20 percent in a national election.

And some of those constituents could be committed for what they believe to be the state of the world. The debates between President Obama and either Paul or Santorum would be like shooting fish in a barrel for the President.

At a time when the nation needs a consensus, a serious collaboration that reaches across political boundaries, the Republicans are fielding symbolic protest candidates that represent fractions — and small ones — of their base. So, tonight’s winner is Barak Obama.

Here you go, kids — the world. Watch out for all the crap we left on it.

Japan reactor core may be leaking radioactive material, official says – CNN.com.

Watching the unfolding disaster in Japan is heartbreaking — and it makes me angry. For the second time in my life now we’re faced with a nuclear no-man’s land manufactured by the energy industry. The Fukashima plant turns out to be wholly unprepared for an expected event, but we’re told other plants will weather whatever comes. It isn’t so. Nuclear energy is very dirty, claiming lives and destroying land and sea when stressed.

Wikileaks and the government you actually want

In Re Wikileaks: the widespread expressions of shock at the muckraking pettiness displayed in the recent diplomatic data released by Wikileaks is a bit comical, since it demonstrates how disconnected from reality we want our political leaders to be. Most diplomats are merely very high-level gossips and everyone spies on the other side to one degree or another.

There is nothing shocking about characterizing Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi as “feckless” behind his back, because he is a feckless fascist lout. We should be glad that we have ambassadors who will point this out about Berlusconi instead of woodenly kowtowing to him, yet I’ve read several major publications today saying this was one of the most shocking immoral acts cataloged by Wikileaks.

Even if there are some truly evil activities revealed, the conversation is trivialized by the pretense that we expect our leaders to be better, or better behaved, than us.

Ministers, priests and, maybe, psychoanalysts may be expected to be better than rest of us, because they are paid to heal our spirits. Politicians are responsible to deliver results, not perform morality plays for the edification of the masses. Besides, look at what miserable wretches are numbered among our great spiritual leaders–there’s no one with a monopoly on virtue.

We elect these people, and we can expect them to be greedy, venal, lecherous and bad sports in roughly the same proportion as we the people are. That is unless you want a god-king, which seems to be the standard against which democratically elected leaders are measured. I think this betrays a deeply fascistic desire to submit to a leader morally, politically and spiritually among a large minority of the electorate. People get leaders who disappoint them morally because they ask so little of candidates at election time besides a clean police record, then turn over the governing of the country to those impossibly pristine images and leave them to govern in virtual isolation until the next election.

We the people tend to judge pols by whether or not they do anything that hurts us financially, beyond that we fret a bit about freedom and debt, but only to the degree that the consequences of eroded freedom or debt elimination impact us personally. We ought, instead, to demand our leaders level with us, even when approaching the third-rail issues like taxes, and cut them more slack about their moral shortcomings. I personally don’t care who or how Jack Kennedy shagged during his term in office, he was a great president for a variety of reasons, not the least among them that he prevented my death and those of hundreds of millions of other people in an argument over Cuba. Nixon, had he won in 1960, would have gone to war and screwed the global pooch in a showdown with the Soviets… over Cuba.

What should a successful politician do? They invest to make the world better for our children first and foremost, but too many voters count only whether the pols have done anything to hurt them in the current term. If the success of a politician is judged by the the perceived pain inflicted by their votes or policies not being felt by many voters, that’s an awfully low bar to set for our elected leaders. I’d much rather see politicians who are willing to take some chances and make mistakes as they learn than endure a do-nothing Congress that never tries to address the public’s problems. But to get that Congress we’d have to accept that politicians can’t be celibate monks who have taken vows of poverty in order to let them off the absurd moral hook on which we hang them today.

Change is the only constant

The election shows that change happens, and happens, again. The people aren’t fickle, nor are they stupid. They are constantly adjusting the settings of government. This year, many said that “politics don’t matter,” including a lot of folks disappointed by the lack of change they perceive resulting from the 2008 Presidential election. They’ll be back in 2012, alarmed at the right turn we apparently took as a nation yesterday.

 Tales of doom for the left and center are mere blowhardery and short-sightedness. Just look at the “radicals” elected and they backing by the Same Old Money. These are the candidates of the people who gutted campaign finance reform, not populists.

Politics is the essential human activity. When we learn that it matters, we see its power. Can the right, the left or the center hold onto that insight and drive a series of consecutive wins in order to effectively deliver change? We’ll always have to wait until the next election to see — great changes are visible only in retrospect. Not much changed in the election of 2010, because it left us pilloried on our differences rather than united in a mission.

I’m waiting for someone to step up and say that it is time to change, to invest in the future through reasonable government programs and to save, to pay-off the debt with actually responsible policies that cut costs and do not pass those savings on immediately to the living in the form of tax cuts. That will not happen until we find it within ourselves to invest in the nation, from the infrastructure to education to the health and well-being of all. The Tea Partiers and Republicans who have immediately turned to eliminating tax cut expiration are not the winds of change, just the same old bag of spending on self-serving issues.

When are we going to talk about everyone making sacrifice for the country, for the future, instead of sending young people off to make their bloody sacrifices and calling that sufficient patriotic expense for a generation? If we don’t pull together soon, we might just pull the country apart, and that would be wrong.

Mockeries of culture and patriotism

This week, “tax protesters” gathered across America to dump bagged tea into symbolic bodies of non-potable water and Ashton Kutcher challenged CNN to a Twitter follower showdown. I admire anyone who takes to the streets for their ideas and recognize the power of media, even when it is lowered to the level of counting masses of followers. Oprah followed me today. I have no idea why she did, other than to get followers, and that demonstrates a profound lack of understanding about social media.

First, the “teabaggers.” These folks are protesting taxes in the nation with the lowest taxes in the developed world. They are mimicking the actions of their forebears, who were protesting taxation without representation—less than six months after the most participated-in election in at least a generation. They are not idealists, nor do they have any idea what they are talking about, but talk away they should so that someone might engage them in discourse and collectively we learn something.

Ultimately, it costs more money to reinvest in a developed economy than in a growing first-generation industrial economy. That’s why we have taxes. The problem with our taxes is that, for the past 30 years they have been invested in the wealthy, which is why the United States and Great Britain, the forebears of Reagan-Thatcher top-down economic planning now suffer the largest wealth differentials between the average citizen and the richest one-percent of the population of any developed countries in the world. Instead of protesting taxes, these people should be protesting the indifference toward the middle class of the past 30 years and demanding even greater investment in schools, basic science and other seedings of future prosperity than the Obama Administration has imagined. That doesn’t mean lots more taxes—we could do the same by simply cutting wasteful stupid spending or returning half-way to the old top-income taxes of the past—it only means the priority becomes investment in the people, not a class that will save the people.

As for Mr. Kutcher, he seems like a nice enough guy. As a celebrity, he strikes me as the perfect attention zombie, stumbling through our screens to eat our brains. But the fact a television news network even bothered to compete with a B-grade actor over their popularity is a sign of how low we will stoop to conquer anything that can be defined as “high ground.” Now, with Oprah glomming on to Twitter, we are seeing spamming by celebrities desperate to retain their mass-media reputations. Oprah touts more than 100,000 followers in less than a day because so many people auto-follow, whether using a program to do so or simply because they are flattered by Oprah’s follow—that’s a spammer strategy.

In both cases, teabaggers and Twitter follower races, we’re seeing the aping of past behaviors, the Boston Tea Party and the popularity contests of high school and Entertainment Tonight!, turned into events that supposedly enact meaning, but are merely empty gestures. Tea baggers aren’t patriots, they are people convinced they are paying too much in taxes (just about the only obligation this country asks of its citizens), when the debate should be about how taxes are spent, what to cut and, if more money is needed to make the world a better place for our children, who among the current beneficiaries of that system should pay higher taxes.

As for Oprah, Ashton and Ev (Evan Williams, CEO of Twitter), I will not be following anyone who for all intents and purposes is a celebrity bot seeking to claw some of my attention away for themselves. I am sure that today marks Twitter’s high-water mark. Oprah’s endorsement is like being on the cover of Fortune, which, surely, Twitter and Mr. Williams will soon be. The utility of a social ecosystem is destroyed by false followers and other aggressive species that suck the air away from the genuine exchanges of ideas and information by individual members.