Posts tagged ‘leadership’

Surprise!

North Korea is not a surprise, yet it captured the news yesterday, whether true or not. Sooner or later they were going to get there and like Trump the President, who they are is no surprise from who they have been. China and the United States, the two parties that could have solved this together, have failed to, looking to their own selfish needs and kicking the can down the road. The can has now arrived. No more road to kick down. And North Korea is no Soviet Union of old. Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) may not force people to be rational. I have argued for years that North Korea is a living hell on earth and that China and the United States could not or would not force regime change was a political and moral failure. Now we have saber rattling with a moron for President.

Make no mistake, the United States could not solve this without China. And China in its own self-serving needs for trade and a firm border to keep immigrants out and buffer to US backed South Korea, could not bring itself to deal with a painful problem. And too many times we have thrown our hands up and just said well, maybe the government will fall. In North Korea, falling means taking everyone with you. That is the critical understanding we have failed to understand. So now we have entered very dangerous times because we refused to do the hard things when we needed to. Now the hard thing is unimaginable. And we have a moron for President.

Oh, and global warming is happening faster and may be more drastic than anticipated. Surprise! Not. We have known about global warming since the 1980’s. We have seen our impact on the planet, not just its weather, but its species for hundreds of years and we do nothing. Oh there are little movements around the edges, but business must come first. Now we are faced with the reality of once again kicking the can down the road, and the road is coming to an end. No more kicking. But like the North Korea problem, we have a moron for a President (not to mention a whole Party in charge of the country whose litmus test is not believing in science).

There has been some debate about whether the latest government report on the rapid increase in the impacts of global warming might force the moron President to change his stance. Sometimes I wonder what planet these people are on. Donald Trump got here illegally by laundering money for the Russians and he certainly colluded with them in the election. The investigation is tightening and he needs his base to terrify Republicans into not impeaching him when the other shoe drops, as it most certainly will. So he is not going to change on global warming, and we are going to see it it full force, and like the Korean thing, the outcome will be disastrous.

Meanwhile in the world of economic inequality, the inequality grows. And sooner or later the markets will come crashing down because the part of the pie that goes to the majority of consumers will be too small to sustain it. The markets are at record highs this week, believing that our moron President will cut regulations and taxes so they can further increase their profits with no concern for the damage they are doing. We have legitimized economic inequality by believing a high tide lifts all boats, except it hasn’t, and we have also kicked this can down the road, and sooner, rather than later, the market is going to crash.

Are you sensing a trend here? We Americans, who can do anything, have done nothing. When things got hard, we went looking for easy simple answers that ignore reality. Enter the Republican Party, facilitated by the Democrats, who know how to pander to Americans looking for the easy answer. Ronald Reagan, the prince of government is the problem, told us to be selfish and seek out gains for ourselves and everyone would prosper. Kiss “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” goodbye. We got tax cuts pay for themselves and the private sector will solve all problems. Driven our roads lately? We are starting to look third world. But don’t forget their main message, investing in government through taxes is a waste of money. Now look at us.

We are reaching a point where ignorance is considered a virtue (remember the rural wisdom of Sarah Palin?),where the ignorance of the base chose a leader that could finally push us over a cliff. We are approaching a critical turning point in the history of our world, conservatism has run its course and almost destroyed us, and we have a moron for President. I don’t think we can wait four years. If Trump continues his “fire and fury” (remember how well shock and awe worked out?) rhetoric, we may not have to worry about global warming as the aftermath of a nuclear war could be much worse. But if we somehow get through this, will we have learned our lesson? Or will we go looking for the next easy answer and not doing the hard things that make life and our country great? I am not optimistic after watching the last 50 years.

America really does have some amazingly hard working and smart individuals and we could solve these problems if we had a leader that made Americans aware of their failures and showed us a path forward.  Even the mindless base of Donald Trump might be led out of the wilderness of ignorance if they understood the challenges before us and a leader who inspires sacrifice.  But where is he/she?  Right now the one we got thinks the solution to jobs is to bring back coal which is never coming back and backed up by a pack or sience and reality deniers.  Hey! Bring on the fire and fury! All we need is a leader who can one again inspire us with, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” and get on with it.  So far we got the moron President and his scared shitless Party.

What Republican Leadership Looks Like

From the NYT:

Mr. Trump declared that his plan was now to “let Obamacare fail,” and suggested that Democrats would then seek out Republicans to work together on a bill to bury the Affordable Care Act. If he is determined to make good on that pledge, he has plenty of levers to pull, from declining to reimburse insurance companies for reducing low-income customers’ out-of-pocket costs to failing to enforce the mandate that most Americans have health coverage.

“It’ll be a lot easier,” Mr. Trump said at the White House, adding: “We’re not going to own it. I’m not going to own it. I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it. We’ll let Obamacare fail, and then the Democrats are going to come to us.”

 

Then he tweeted this that is just mind boggling:


Democrats obstruct?  They were totally taken out of the process and by using reconciliation, the Republicans only needed 50 votes and pious Pence.  Let’s see, we had 8 years of total Republican obstruction using the filibuster, but now it is not fair?  Oh, and one might wonder if they had their super majority, which they did not need for this bill, it might still not have passed.  It was just bad legislation or as Lindsey Graham said, “I would like to see a bill people actually liked.”

Now on the “own it” thing, where does the buck stop again?  This is what White America brought us.  It is clear Obamacare needs some fixes.  But try to focus here.  Obamacare was a conservative health plan that preserved the private insurance market, born in the Heritage Society and successfully implemented by a Republican governor, Mitt Romney.  The Republicans have gone so extreme, they tried to kill a market place approach to healthcare.  Now the Village Idiot in Chief (VIC) is going to kill it (by cutting off reimbursements to insurance companies for high risk areas making the markets too risky to operate in) and then he is not going to own it? Oh, trust me, he and the Republicans are now in charge of government.  They own it.

Will Democrats come crawling?  That is really the question.  I have opined on this before.  Instead of letting Senator Manchin, who is really a Republican, drive the train, they need to decide what their bottom line is, otherwise they are going to own it with the Republicans.  Here was my suggested list:

  • Keep the subsidies and strengthen them – that means keeping the taxes on the wealthy
  • Keep the requirement for mandatory insurance and expand the penalties to provide a larger insurance pool to lower premiums. We all have to have automobile insurance after all
  • Keep the requirements for mandatory minimum coverage (including things like existing conditions and kids till they are 26, not to mention birth control, drug rehabilitation, etc.)
  • Where the exchanges are losing insurers (primarily due to the threat of not funding subsidies and turning the exchanges into high risk pools by the Republicans), offer a single payer alternative, Medicare for all in effect. Let the private insurers compete and see what happens
  • Continue and reinforce efforts to reduce medical costs through recommended effective treatments, incentivizing outcomes, and allowing the government to negotiate prices with big Pharma (maybe making it legal to buy drugs from Canada)

In other words, no backsliding, just fixes.  Will Republicans go for that?  I doubt it, so make it clear they own the failure, you offered solutions.  Don’t go weak-kneed and decide you can save some, that is how you became the minority party.

And now back to leadership.  The VIC has no idea how healthcare works so he could not lead anywhere.  He promised a fix that was easy and now after the Republicans failed, “We are not going to own it.”  That will be his motto for the rest of his term as one thing after another does not materialize as promised and it must be the Democrats or Hillary’s fault because, “We are not going to own it.”  Even though they now have all the reigns of governing. Get used to failure.  While he can accomplish many things like decimating the environment, destroying our State Department, maybe a trade war, and setting Justice in this country back years, they will all lead to disastrous outcomes, and mark my words, “You are going to own it.”  You and your Republican buddies.

Thank you white ignorant people, and those who did not vote or thought they were making a principled choice voting for a hopeless third-party.  It was either Trump or Hillary and you chose Trump and the nightmare that is unfolding is all on you.

The Law and Order President

Make no mistake, this is code for we will get all these black people back in line.  Here is what www.Vox.com sent out this evening:

  • At least 198 people were arrested over the weekend while participating in protests after the deaths last week of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police. [CNN / Ashley Fantz and Steve Visser]
  • The protests were uniformly peaceful; at their most aggressive, in Baton Rouge, protesters blocked a highway. But police were not having it. [NBC News / Phil Helsel, Elisha Fieldstadt, Matthew Grimson, and AP]
  • DeRay Mckesson, an activist and arguably the most recognizable member of the movement against police racism, was arrested in Baton Rouge, in what the arresting officers clearly knew was going to be a great photo op for him and the movement and a crappy photo op for them. [NYT / Yamiche Alcindor]
  • Several journalists were also arrested in Baton Rouge, and in Rochester, two black journalists were picked out of a group of journalists and arrested (their white colleagues were unmolested). [Poynter / Benjamin Mullin]
  • The mood of the protests — nonviolent protest met with aggressive response — was reminiscent of many of the nights of protests in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. This photo of a protester in Baton Rouge is as iconic as any the movement has produced. [Vox / Victoria M. Massie]
  • But in a pattern that’s been seen time and time again since 2014, media devotes much less attention to nonviolent protests (even with aggressive police responses) than tense or violent ones. [Baltimore Sun / Leah Eliza Balter]
  • That is not a good look for democracy. It also sends a very strong message to would-be activists about what sort of tactics are effective in getting the public’s attention. [Vox / Dara Lind]

You can go to the site for the links, but is is a strong indication that in many states police, in their stupidity, are making things worse.  And it works forcing more confrontation which is the last thing we need and what the Donald promises to bring us in spades.  It is the same stuff Giuliani was pushing in his respect the police.  Well police, respect the people who have real grievances with you.  Sadly it is a few, but that is all it takes.

Now I will tell you that I don’t agree with a lot of Black Lives Matters tactics, but they are right about the issue.  Calling for President Obama to visit not only Dallas, but Louisiana and Minnesota is stupid, to be frank.  Whether Charleston or Dallas, there are real people grieving over a gross act of mad men.  In Louisiana and Minnesota that may also be true, but due process and not prejudging the outcome is critical to the rule of law.  Thankfully, President Obama, a black man, gets it.  Between him and the Dallas Police Chief, they have shown leadership we should all pay attention too.  We throw hero around like it means nothing, but these two and the way they have responded to these situations merits hero.  Meanwhile back in Trump land, we are sending out dividing racial messages in barely hidden code.

Belief in Climate Change?

A new poll out shows that almost 47% of Republicans now think we should do something about climate change. But that something isn’t much. If you look at the actual poll results what you find is resistance to anything that might cause some discomfort to the voters. No on a gas tax increase, no on an increase in taxes on carbon, but tax breaks yes. We have a trend here. People want painless ways to deal with global warming.

And when we get done with what people believe and want, it has little to do with what needs to be done. You know, the pesky little facts as opposed to wishful thinking. What needs to be done, and what is the most effective way to do it? Well we already have the answers from science, but this was a poll about how people feel, which quite frankly I could get a flying … about.

So what do you do with polls in this country? You craft your message of leadership to what people want, not what they need. Then you craft your policies to what they want so you can stay in office while you watch the ship sink. Here is an example of the type of thinking this poll engenders:

Political analysts say the problem for many Republicans is how to carve out a position on climate change that does not turn off voters like Mr. Becker, but that also does not alienate powerful conservative campaign donors. In particular, advocacy groups funded by the billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch have vowed to ensure that Republican candidates who support climate change action will lose in primary elections.

You know there was a time in America when we faced a real crisis and we crafted policies to best deal with it and then went out to sell it to the public. It was called leadership. Now-a-days we just see what they want regardless of its effectiveness and package that up in our best messaging. After all reality is now shaped by what people think, not what really is, right? Mother Nature might not cooperate however. Isn’t it wonderful to be in the greatest country in the world? Hey, did you see that Super Bowl commercial about …

Today’s News

Yesterday I was in a rather depressed mood. Circumstances have not changed but as a world renowned psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, author of the classic bestseller, Man’s Search for Meaning, told us about the experiences of the Jews in the concentration camps, “Everything can be taken from a man but–the last of the human freedoms–to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s way.” In other words, you always have the freedom to choose your attitude about events.

In modern times think about Star Trek and the Klingon saying, “It is a good day to die”. That is the ultimate choice of attitude. I had a friend who died after a long battle with cancer who use to toast every day, “It is a good day to be alive.” So I choose not to be depressed by the steady decline of America led by the Republicans, but to find kindness, humor, justice, and love where I can in what I can effect. That is about all any of us can do. That does not mean I still am not annoyed by our stupidity. I just can’t let it fester without pointing it out. So to that end:

  • Remember yesterday when I described the episode in Newsroom where the Assistant Director of the EPA said we are doomed? Well here is from the NYT today regarding the upcoming Climate Summit in Lima: “While a breach of the 3.6 degree threshold appears inevitable, scientists say that United Nations negotiators should not give up on their efforts to cut emissions. At stake now, they say, is the difference between a newly unpleasant world and an uninhabitable one.”
    Yet we still have the Republicans denying it. Makes you wonder what else they have totally wrong (just about everything)
  • There was a headline today in my local paper (Sacramento Bee) that read: Executive action has risk for Obama. I am thinking no duh. Leadership is taking the ultimate risk. We have confused leadership with mob action in today’s politics. What does this poll say, what does that poll say? The majority of American people want … We have confused managing constituent desires with leading constituents to a better world. Some choices are tough and they are not popular, but necessary. There are tons of demagogues out there who will feed the masses fears (Republicans), and criticize whatever he does. That just goes with leadership. If your vision is to feed the rabble’s fears to stay in power, well, that is not leadership. We haven’t seen leadership from Republicans in years.
  • There was an interesting article about Russian money flowing into Europe to fight fracking. Russia has a strangle hold on Europe as their major supplier of natural gas so it is in their interests to make sure Europe does not become energy independent. Now there may be some good reasons why we want to be very careful with fracking, but Russia’s motives are the same as the oil industries opposition to alternate energy tax credits (backed by their Republican lackeys). They have their cash cow and that is more important than anything else. It is why we need government to regulate and overrule the very rich
  • Finally, Black Friday and the Thanksgiving weekend both in retail stores and on-line were down 11%. “Experts” had predicted new confidence and expanded spending from last year. Nobody gets it yet. Our economy is in dire straights. The jobless rate, the real jobless rate, is not really improving when you factor in the kinds of jobs people can find. It is an indication that with a growing GDP, the fruits are going to the few and they can not make up the spending of the many. Yet we do nothing, paralyzed by Republicans who won’t move on minimum wage, infrastructure, or investment in R&D

What we need to know is out there, but we are still failing to understand or act upon it. Meanwhile here in vineyard land, the fall is beautiful, she who must never be mentioned here thinks I am her hero, all my children are well, I have a good supply of good wine, and my golden retriever is sleeping by my side. It is a good day to be alive.

Mr. President, I am Not Impressed – Ebola

The President cancelled his fund raising trip today and met with his Ebola response team to review the gross failures in Dallas. The point was to show he takes this seriously and to show we are taking charge of this thing.  But he missed a grand opportunity to take charge, but started out okay and finished okay.  He began by telling us that when a potential case is identified, a team from CDC will be dispatched (Great!) within “hopefully” 24 hours.  Huh?  If you watch the TV show Criminal Minds, they have their own airplane.  We should be able to have a team anywhere in the United States within 6 hours.

Then he implied that the team will ensure the hospital has the training and resources necessary.  I don’t buy it.  If they aren’t trained and ready, it is already too late.  CDC should send out intake protocol, testing protocols, isolation , and disposal (of contaminated material) procedures and protocols, immediately deploy, ensure and evaluate all the aforementioned  processes during the intake and isolation, and then move the patient to a regional prepared  center for treatment and isolation.

I say this because it is ludicrous to assume that hospitals around the nation have been trained and have experience in this specialized isolation and treatment. The funds for emergency response have been severely limited in the Republican’s cut everything binge.  Most hospitals can not afford to perform the training and set aside resources to be ready to properly treat these patients.

Based upon the CDC evaluation of the all of the above processes where the patient was brought into the system (intake), they will work with local authorities to establish watchlists , limited isolation if necessary, and travel restrictions will be implemented for healthcare workers and others that came into contact with the patient before full containment was established, again, if necessary.  They will be continued until additional infections are ruled out.

Treatment of patients will be performed at identified regional Ebola hospital treatment centers to ensure no further spread of the disease, best practices, and lessons learned are implemented. In other words the feds take charge with support from regional hospital centers.

The real danger area for community hospitals is the intake process when the patient has symptoms but has not been diagnosed, because full protection will not be employed.  The good news is that in the early stages, the virus is not that virulent and the real infection danger occurs later as the disease progresses (treatment, not intake).  The real focus for these community hospitals should be clear procedures for intake to identification of an actual ebola infection when the CDC takes charge.

That is what he should have said.  That is the way to handle these things and would give the nation the confidence we are taking charge instead the CDC will get there in 24 hours and then implement training and procedures.  It is too late.

He finished okay though when he pointed out that the prevention is to stop it in Africa.  But he failed the leadership test and left the impression that additional  Texas Health Presbyterian Hospitals would be in the lead with the CDC getting their within 24 hours and said nothing about travel ban restrictions of healthcare workers.  It’s always about the details and he has never gotten that. That is what Project Managment 101 is all about and I do not see much expertise in it in his administration.

 

Our Conflicted President

I have been a persistent critic of President Obama’s leadership. While his heart is in the right place and he has done some important things, there is strong dissatisfaction with his leadership even among Democrats. Now one can blame this on the disinformation machine created by the conservatives to describe an alternate reality, but that only works on their base. There is a problem here and I have called it, no there, there. The real indicator of this problem is that he does not get credit for the great things he has done.

What I mean by no there, there, is that from where I sit, I do not see some overarching strategic plan. There is no guiding principle that we all understand and defines his actions. He seems to be a creature of the moment, looking for the consensus answer as though by definition, a consensus solution is the right one. The political reality is there is no consensus solutions except maybe to bomb somebody, so the approach was doomed to failure. We are where we are today with a totally dysfunctional Congress because of that truth.

Well, I am not the only one. Leon Panetta apparently has written a book with some strong criticism of the President. Here is an exert from the Daily Beast:

“Hesitation and half steps have consequences as well—and those remain to be determined,” Panetta said.

Throughout the book, Panetta repeats that senior White House staffers, such as National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, then-Counterterrorism Advisor John Brennan, and Deputy National Security Advisor Dennis McDonough (who later became Chief of Staff) had more influence and control over national security policy than senior officials such as him and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

I read this as the President being super insular about who he trusts and ignores others. It is an indication that he does not seem to have an inner guiding compass that he has faith in, so he depends upon the advice of others whom he knows. I think this was best illustrated by his failure to focus on jobs and took up the conservatives chant of fear deficit. His close advisors are from Chicago and they bought into the whole austerity thing.

His pivot on moving on immigration by the end of summer is another sad example. While it makes perfectly good sense to a politico, it fails the leadership test and the voters get it. In their mind he is just like the rest of them. Actually he is not, but that is the message he sends with his wavering. He would have been much better served in the long run to have stayed firm with his promise and stare down conservatives and purple state Democrats. I strongly believe he would have gotten a bump by showing strong leadership and letting the country know Democrats really do stand for something beside the easiest route to re-election.

I have already pointed out his failure on the economy with his “pivot”. It came from no deep conviction about how the economy works and what the right path should be. In the same vein, you can see how his lack of an overarching strategy on the Middle East has left him looking like he is floundering and reactive. The Middle East is a mess and there are no easy “John McCain” solutions. It is a complex social, religious, and political caldron. Force will not solve it, just kick the can down the road.

So the question is what is our overall strategy? Unknown. Do we stand firm and push for human rights, democracy, minority rights, and equal rights for women? Or do we do deals with the devil for short term battlefield gains, but leave the real problems festering? Can we do both? Again, I haven’t a clue because the whole strategy in the Middle East has been to get out without an underlying explanation of why that might be the best course of action. Now we are back in the middle of it and nobody knows where we are going. That is not leadership, but management of a near term problem without a long term strategic objective (that we understand).

I read recently where we have now spent more in Afghanistan on nation building projects that are crumbling than we did for the Marshal Plan to rebuild Europe. We have built massive power plants that are not economically feasible, built sanitation plants that lack maintenance, and it goes on and on. It is a crime that we did not invest this in our own infrastructure, but Congress is quick to authorize war funds and loath to invest in America. This is not all President Obama’s fault, but once you are in charge, you are in charge.

Note that candidate Obama was sure of his values or so it seemed. Secrecy was overused. Torture is wrong. Immigration has to be reformed. Even on gay marriage he had to be pushed by his own vice president. Expanding in the Middle East was a road to ruin for candidate Obama. Now all of that is in flux as if the reality of the Presidency has changed his basic values. Nothing should change your basic values and just because living by them will be harder than you think in the expediency of politics, is no reason to waver. And when you do, we the people feel betrayed. If there is no grand compromise, don’t compromise at all. Fight for what you believe in. If we understand what that is, we might fight with you.

Politics!

Watching the grilling of the Secret Service boss, from both sides of the partisan divide, one wonders who is more defunct, the Secret Service or Congress. But I would argue they both suffer from the same disease, politics. Both played to power, and we expect Congress to, but not the Secret Service.

The failures of the Secret Service came to light because former and maybe some currently employed members went to the press. One has to asked why the Secret Service did not reveal how far the intruder got into the White House unless they have become politicized and are covering their butts. And if we hadn’t found out through the press, would anything have been done? As a side issue, kind of reinforces the need for transparent government, something we are loosing under the Obama Administration. He isn’t the first one, but he is by far the worst at going after whistle blowers.

But what is going on in the Secret Service? Well the reporter from the Washington Post tells us the former and current members report that the organization has become too much a lackey to power. Instead of protect and defend, it is to make everyone happy. I see a deeper thing here as part of the Secret Service’s move from the Department of Treasury to Homeland Defense. The politicization of leadership.

I know something about leadership in large organizations spending almost 12 years in the Air Force and 22 years working for the federal government mostly in the Corps of Engineers. What was most enlightening to me was the difference between a wartime Air Force, and a peacetime Air Force. A leader who excels in one, does not necessarily excel in the other. In peace time, things get politicized, and by that I mean telling your supervisors what they want to hear, not what they need to hear. In wartime nothing matters but results. In large bureaucracies speaking truth to power is a dangerous thing without enlightened leadership.

One of the things that comes through in the investigation of the Secret Service failures was that there were agents who had important intelligence that was ignored or countermanded. If your job is to protect and defend, you go over their heads. If your job is to survive and rise in the organization, you don’t rock boats. If your organization has become politicized, you don’t rock boats, but tell them what they want to hear. That is how you become a company man. See the CIA during the run-up to the Iraq war.

The Secret Service should not be an arm of Homeland Defense. They should be an agency whose primary purpose to protect and defend no matter how inconvenient that may be for some politicos. It should be an organization that works as a team where communications are open and flow in both directions. Where the objective is to err on safety, not some other bureaucratic goal. It should be an organization that protects and encourages active input from all their agents. Somewhere that all got lost to what was convenient.

This is not the only thing that gives one pause. Remember the prostitute episodes? There is something rotten in Denmark and I am not sure we are cultivating the kinds of leaders who understand how to fix it, instead of pandering to power and demoralizing their followers in the process. In a large bureaucratic organization you walk a fine line between being politically correct to survive in the organization, and seeing and correcting inefficient and ineffective processes that those in power have a vested interest in.

In my experience the ones who do survive have one of two things in their favor, an advocate at higher level, or an enlightened leader who cultivates those characteristics that will make them a great leader, but a troublesome follower. Sadly in today’s world what we see are leaders how are masters at the political game, but have no idea where to lead to.

The Sky is Falling!

ISIS, what a muddle. What we see in it is the worst of the human race. Religion gone wild without the wet T-shirts. There is nothing to admire in their debauchery. Religion has always been a dangerous thing because it provides us a way to think, if we so choose, without questioning. It gives us a certainty that allows for atrocity. We are seeing the dark underbelly of religion and it horrifies us.

Sadly we live in a culture where spirituality is not seen as a separate thing from religion and in that muddled thinking, only the religious can be spiritual. Sad, because spirituality without religion is probably the more desirable condition to be truly civilized. But I digress. ISIS! Slap them down immediately! Oh, and they are Obama’s fault!

So let’s step back into rational land for a few minutes and think this through. First of all ISIS has been around a long time, in the form of the early incarnations of Al Qaeda in Egypt. And separate here for a minute. The Taliban are not Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda was not in Iraq before we invaded. This we know. They may use them, but they are not them. So what started this whole mess?

Well let me ask you this, if you look for the manufacturer of most weapons that ISIS has in their procession, you might find made in the USA stamped there somewhere. We armed the Taliban to throw out the Russians and created that mess. Al Qaeda moved into Afghanistan when the Taliban took over and attack us from there.

We eradicated Al Qaeda from Afghanistan but then invaded Iraq for no good reason, and that is what stated the whole ISIS movement as the forces of sectarian war were forever released. Aided and abetted by our fumbling management of that war.

Now we have the McCain/Graham crowd wanting another war in the Middle East with no exit strategy and no long term plan except we will be there forever. Most Americans are not going to support this, but Republicans see a chance to blame this on the President starting with the withdrawal from Iraq, to our failure to jump into the middle of the Syrian war. Not that they would do anything different, it just about throwing mud.

And the President isn’t helping because his management style lends to perceived dithering. Of course if you look at what he has actually done, it is what the majority of Americans would support, but he is loosing the war of perceptions. Let me recount:

Who got us in the war in Iraq that released the sectarian dogs of war?

Who negotiated the withdrawal from Iraq after “Mission Accomplished”?

Who wouldn’t agree to giving our remaining forces indemnification resulting in us pulling them all out?

Who put the leader of Iraq in place to begin his sectarian culling?

Who could say who the good guys were and the bad guys were in Syria?

Oh, and who got rid of the chemical weapons in Syria?

So they all sound like good criticism until you look at what really happened. So we are left with a lot of very bad choices based upon mostly Republican led neocon driven policies. Now comes the final criticism, that he has no strategy. Well do you?

McCain and company want to reenter the war so let’s say we did, what comes after ISIS. Did we empower Assad in Syria and the Iranians in Iran in a real open Shiite Sunni conflict? Are we going to be there for years to maintain the peace? Is that even politically possible? I am with the President here, there are no good choices and a strategy has not been fully formulated. But there is one if you watch what is going on.

We are trying to engage our gutless allies. If both Sunnies and Shiites have a stake in the outcome, then maybe balance can be struck. Maybe if Iraq will have an inclusive government, a stable environment can be established. Maybe if Turkey quits buying their oil and letting them transverse their border freely. Well you get my drift. There are a lot of moving parts here and a successful strategy has to involve all of them, not just the simple bomb the shit out of them McCain approach to everything.

Obama has a similar problem in Ukraine. Nobody thinks an armed conflict with Russia is a good idea. Providing the Ukrainians with weapons also has its drawbacks. The real solution without total war in Ukraine is to get our European allies to play hardball. But Europe is gutless and we can’t do this alone. So we again are trying to manage a lot of moving parts.

And here is the take away from all this. We are more or less doing the right thing in both cases. President Obama is carefully considering the complexities to formulate the best policy out of very bad choices. But his management style is the problem from the point of view of American politics. Here in America we don’t judge by what people do, but what they say and we love tough talk. If President Obama is to learn anything, it is time to start talking tough. Then just continue to do what he has been doing. The perfect leader.

More Waffling

President Obama took some major heat for another indication of wandering around aimlessly without a plan. That was his alleged claim that he had no strategy for ISIS. Now the criticism was somewhat unfair because what he really meant was that there was no good strategy for dealing with them. But once again he gives his opponents all the ammunition they need.

I don’t pretend to have a strategy for ISIS, but I know the solution is not political, and they must be directly confronted. How to do that, maintain the fragile balance in the Middle East, and not make things worse is the trick. Had he said that, he would have been perceived as leading instead of wandering.

So I open up the paper this morning, and I read “Obama Weighing Delaying Action on Immigration”. Did he not tell us he would definitely take action by the end of summer? Now he is afraid his action could hurt vulnerable Democrats in purple states. Could he have not thought about that before he promised action by the end of summer?

I guess what frustrates me the most is that could we not just do the right thing without all the political calculations? And in President Obama’s waffling, we have again a total lack of leadership, just political maneuvering. And when and if he finally does the right thing, it won’t be seen as the right thing, but just another political move to secure Latino votes.

I guess in my naive world, I think you should just do the right thing and let the chips fall where they may. At least then we would know what the word Democrat means and what their principles are. When every politician is crafting his principles around the latest polls, we are nothing more than a mob. I guess that is why I like Bernie Sanders so much. He has strong beliefs and he stands up for them.