“You’re Fired!”

The last few days have revealed the true character of the President and his inability to lead.

Why have prominent CEOs abandoned our President, Donald Trump, a fellow business person?

As is his wont, President Trump blames them, not himself, for their departures.

Successful leaders recognize Donald Trump is neither a leader nor a businessman.  His speech and behavior defy both labels.

kellyGeneral John Kelly, a proven leaders, seems to telegraph this assessment in his facial expression and body language at President Trump’s unhinged press conference at Trump Tower on Tuesday.

Real leaders do not act like Trump.

Leadership in business, the military and politics is meant to provide clarity, to inspire and to unite.  The true test of this capacity occurs at times of crisis.  At such moments, the first utterances prove the measure of the person in charge.

For this reason, the past two weeks were President Trump’s “moments”:  last week, with the threat of World War III and this week, the threat of Civil War II.

For both, especially over the weekend of crisis in Charlottesville, he failed. Miserably.  The failure cannot be explained away as “missed opportunity,” which is like arguing you could have passed the two-day bar exam if you had had another few days.

By casting blame on “many sides” for the violence in Charlottesville, and then circling-back to defend this indefensible utterance, he displayed his incompetence—his moral rootlessness, his megalomania and his constitutional inability to inspire.

Truly successful business people do not act like Trump.

Sitting on one of his advisory panels must have been painful.  Leaders of industry surely do not see in the new President someone they would emulate.

For leadership, the prominent business book, Good to Great by Stanford Business School professor Jim Collins, provides metaphoric examples of great leadership:  great leaders look out the window when things go well and in the mirror when things go poorly.  Bad leaders– non-leaders–do the reverse.

A great leader is someone who does not thrust personal interests ahead of the needs of the company or organization.  Instead, she inspires great collective effort and loses herself in service of the larger organizational mission.

By this definition, it is hard to see how President Trump could have been a successful businessman.  For anyone who has been a business leader, judging Mr. Trump’s business acumen by the measure of “The Apprentice” (even with its “great ratings”) sounds like comparing a bucket of water to the ocean.

Trump according to Trump has built a “beautiful multi-billion-dollar company.”  By now, of course, we can adjust for the effects of self-promotion and marketing hyperbole.  We can also take into account the several bankruptcies left, like the Jersey shore after hurricane Sandy, in the aftermath of the beautiful Trump businesses.

Given the paucity of his financial disclosure, perhaps we will never know.

I do not mean to suggest that pre-President, Mr. Trump did not amass a fortune.  Self-promoters often do (look at the Kardashians).

Nor do I mean to suggest an absence of business models that can become wildly profitable through bluster, fear, intimidation and the extortion of loyalty (look at the Mafia).

Bad “leaders” must go, and quickly.

As chairman of a corporate board of directors, I once had to fire our company’s CEO. Among other things, the CEO had been caught lying to the board, lying to our shareholders and damaging our brand with customers.

The CEO tried to dodge the facts with bombast and bluster.

Because I supported the CEO’s hiring in the first place, it was not easy to admit error.   However, as “you’re fired” left my lips, I knew the welfare of all of our company’s employees and the quality of our brand depended upon this person’s immediate departure.

I would have been satisfied with a resignation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alt-transcript of Yesterday’s Alt-reality Press Conference at the Alt-White House, Trump Tower

President Trump has an uncanny ability to spot moral equivalence, as demonstrated in this alternative transcript of yesterday’s press conference.

. . . .

Reporter: Senator McCain said that the alt-right is behind these attacks, and he linked that same group to those who perpetrated the attack in Charlottesville.

Trump: Well, I don’t know. I can’t tell you. I’m sure Senator McCain must know what he’s talking about. But when you say the alt-right…uh, define alt-right to me. You define it. Go ahead.

[Cross talk. Reporters shout questions.]

Trump: No, define it for me. Come on, let’s go.

Reporter: Senator McCain defined them as the same groups.

Trump: OK. What about the alt-left that came charging at-

[Indistinct.]

Trump:  You know what?  Listen.  Last night I decided to do my own historical research.  So, I watched the History Channel.  You may not know about this, fake news, but there was a war.  Not so very long ago.  The alt-right was occupying France.  There they were, the alt-right, minding their own business and you what?  You know what? The alt-left came charging at them across the English Channel and attacked them.  Surprise attack.  Very violent.  Very violent.

[Cross talk. Reporters shout questions.]

Trump: Excuse me, what about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right. Do they have any semblance of guilt?

[Cross talk. Reporters shout questions.]

Trump: Wait a minute. I’m not finished. I’m not finished, fake news. That was a horrible day.

Reporter: Is it the same level as the Nazis?

Trump: I will tell you something. I watch TV very closely, much more closely than you people watch it, and you have- You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now. You had a group, you had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit, or visas, and they were very, very violent.

[Cross talk. Reporters shout questions.]

Reporter: Mr. President, are you putting what you’re calling the alt-left and alt-right on the same moral plane?

Trump: I’m not putting anybody on a moral plane.

[Stunned silence.]

. . . .

 

People of Good Will Unite!

We must overwhelm the attitudes of white supremacy, nationalism and insularity that take us backward and harm us all.

David Duke, KKK Imperial Wizard was correct in his weekend Tweet to @realDonald Trump:  White Americans put Donald Trump in office.

david duke
KKK’s David Duke in Charlottesville, Virginia -August 12, 2017

By “White Americans,” though, he surely refers to members of a distinct minority for whom whiteness and white privilege is essential to identity.  They cling to it desperately as they watch their whiteness diluted and dismissed as cultural and historic artifact.

Charlottesville is evidence of this virulent white minority and the sad fact that the fight for civil rights in America is not over.  As hard as it is to imagine in this modern era, there are young, khaki-clad white Americans, wearing MAGA hats, who cling to a past of confederate white supremacy, anti-Semitism, slavery and segregation.

Don’t they see their mindset holds them and the rest of our society back?  Overcoming such attitudes and practices has been essential to cultural and economic progress.  Watch the movie Hidden Figures and wonder if we could have been first in space and sooner to the moon if American society had not committed the crimes of slavery and post-slavery segregation.

Even the Neanderthals intermingled with Homo sapiens and gave up their “big brow” identities.

Charlottesville was an odious clash between progress and those willing to do violence for their identities of color, race, religion and nationality.  For what purpose?

Return to slavery?  Segregation?  Closed borders?  Travel bans?  Trade wars?  All these hobble progress and diminish economic activity.  The only modern hypothetical I can think of is a Walmart closing its doors to customers and allowing only its employees to do business within its walls.  Its “economy” would shrink and failure would loom quickly.

Historic examples include the many failed “utopian” experiments where groups of people walled themselves away from the of rest society, “drank the Kool-Aid” and otherwise spiraled into dysfunction and self-destruction.

Diversity, acceptance, inclusiveness, respect, open doors:  These are not just long-accepted American values, they are essential to American economic progress and prosperity.

Add smart investments in education, job growth and upward mobility, and the economy can soar—for the benefit of everyone.

 

Coming Soon:  Dragging the Anchors of Economic Inequality

Charlottesville: Shadows of Darkness

The eclipse came early.  The insanity abroad has been eclipsed by insanity at home.  White nationalists invaded Charlottesville this weekend and the country is bathed in darkness.

When the president attributed blame for Charlottesville to “many sides,” he demonstrated an alarming moral emptiness and intellectual vacuity.

We need presidential resolve and encouragement at such a moment of national crisis.

Much has been said about this overnight, including a retributory Tweet from the “Grand Wizard” himself, David Duke.  Among all the critiques, this one is perhaps the most gut wrenching.

duke

Duke attacks the President for his ambiguity, for being an ingrate to the White Nationalists “taking back America” in Charlottesville, for his failure to take their side and for failing to condemn instead the counter-demonstrators who opposed their efforts to “preserve” White History, White Culture and White Identity.

And it was not just about color, these white boys flew and wore both Confederate and Nazi symbols, spewed anti-Semitism, pulled down rainbow flags and rejected every individual and collective quality of a diverse, pluralistic society.

This is White Darkness indeed.  It expects to be unleashed from “political correctness” and “in control” with the license and leadership of a bouffant-blond, Aryan-looking White President.

These defenders of White History are the “spiritual” and intellectual descendants of the white American immigrants who, among other things, robbed the indigenous peoples of their land, killed them off with guns and disease, stole Africans from their homes, pressed them into the holds of ships to be transported like animals from Africa, and precipitated the death of millions in a civil war fought over the abominable practice of slavery.  They evoke the Nazi crimes of World War II, defend the Holocaust and justify other nationalist horrors of the modern era.

Yes, Mr. President, please do look in your mirror.  These people voted for you, echoed your words this weekend and proudly wore your absurd MAGA hats while they hissed their hate and wreaked their havoc.  You have enabled them and by your example and, by your silence, you have left them unshackled.

I hope these White Americans represent just a small number of the white Americans who voted for you.  But every white American who did, should also look in the mirror, especially the mirror of history.

Senator Crapo Responds . . . to My Letter

Our federal delegation seems to be failing us on one of the most important issues of our time: health care. For what matters most, they are doing least.

In response to my recent personal letter to Senator Crapo about health care, I received a “form letter,” email response.  (What was I expecting?)

The response completely ignores the issues I raised and reads like an apology for the heartless legislation now before the Senate.  [Senator Crapo’s email is copied verbatim below.]

  • No mention of the CBO scoring that shows tens of millions will lose health coverage under any version of the Senate legislation.
  • No mention of the disproportionate impact on Idaho, because of our already shameful “coverage gap” and the likely losses to already-stretched medical services in our far-flung rural communities.
  • No mention of the disproportionate benefit of tax cuts for the wealthy at the cost of the poor.
  • No acknowledgement that the problems of the current law can be traced to conservative, compromise provisions inserted in the Act; the virulent Republican opposition since; and, the new administration’s squeezing off of legally-mandated support in an effort to force failure–which is like a “caregiver” pressing a pillow over the head of a struggling hospital patient.

Senator Crapo’s email response makes clear the opposition to the current law (the “PPACA”) is based on the right-wing imperatives of unfettered markets and lower taxes. Facts, logic and a concern for the health of society (and our state) do not seem to matter.

For Idaho and Idahoans, this may be the most impactful decision our Senators ever make. Unfortunately, like lemmings (and our Congressmen before them), they appear to be following the partisan crowd in their “rush to the sea.”

In a show of courage, Senators Crapo and Risch should pull back their support and advocate for collaboration with the rest of the Senate (the whole Senate) to find ways to improve the PPACA.

I hope they will muster the courage.  Sadly, Senator Crapo’s apologia does not give me much hope.

 

Senator Crapo’s response to my letter:

July 21, 2017

Jerry Sturgill
Boise, ID

Dear Jerry:

Thank you for contacting me about health care reform. I value the constructive thoughts, opinions, and ideas shared by all Idahoans and welcome this opportunity to respond.

Prior to the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), America’s health care system was in need of reform; however, PPACA favors a one-size-fits-all, top-down approach that has led to increased premiums, smaller provider networks and stifled competition between insurers. It is necessary to work toward implementing consumer-driven, state-based health reforms that ensure the American people have access to the health care coverage that is right for them. On May 4, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives took the first step toward comprehensive health reform by passing H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act.

The Senate is currently considering various proposals to repeal and replace PPACA. Any successful reform initiative must include provisions that stabilize the insurance market, repeal the individual and employer mandates and job-stifling PPACA taxes. With premiums rising and coverage options disappearing, the status quo of PPACA is no longer an option.

Congress remains actively engaged with governors, stakeholders and consumers to develop an effective system that works for all Americans. America deserves a better process and a better product, and I look forward to doing my part to make this happen.

In the meantime, please feel free to continue to contact me about health care reform or on other matters of interest to you. For more information about the issues before the U.S. Senate as well as news releases, photos, and other items of interest, please visit my Senate website, http://crapo.senate.gov.

Sincerely,
Mike Crapo
United States Senator

 

 

“Trumpcare Will Be Like Pouring Bags of Sugar Into the Tank of Your Car”

In past blog posts, I have offered many arguments against “repeal and replace” and the American Health Care Act. Here’s a recap.

The purpose of health insurance is to spread costs and risk.  The Affordable Care Act (“ACA” or “Obamacare”) does this by requiring everyone not covered by Medicaid or Medicare to have access to health coverage, with subsidies for those who cannot afford it and penalties for those who “opt out.”Putting Sugar into car gas tank

The costs of subsidies and Medicaid expansion have been paid by taxes on the very rich.

It is no surprise that political opposition to the ACA has been funded by people who are very rich–and the insurance industry, where very rich people are stockholders.

Health insurance premiums would have come down if conservative opposition had not hobbled the ACA from the beginning and there had been greater incentive for younger and healthier people to remain in the “risk pools.”

While the ACA’s mandate and subsidies have been the target of much opposition, these were conservative concepts and implemented in Massachusetts “Romneycare,” a conservative model for the ACA.

The continuous opposition to the ACA and the post-election efforts to undermine its mandate and subsidies have further disrupted the health insurance exchanges and driven up health insurance costs.  This has been a concerted effort to prove the arguments against the ACA.

In other words, the ACA has been in the hands of its enemies and they have purposely weakened it to justify their efforts to “repeal and replace.”

The current House and Senate versions of the American Health Care Act (“AHCA” or “Trumpcare”) will not solve these problems now intensified by the conservative opposition.  The markets will continue to be disrupted and premiums will continue to rise.  Worse, tens of millions of working Americans will lose health insurance coverage.

It might feel good to conservatives to strip the working poor of “entitlements,” but this only leads to more poverty and homelessness, which come back to bite us all.

We all ultimately pay the price through increases in our own health care costs and taxes, as the poor are left again to resort to emergency care.  Drug use and crime rates will rise.  Productivity will decline.  The negative cultural and economic impacts will be real and hard to quantify.

On the other hand, everyone benefits from the preventative measures, coordination of care and other measures enacted under the ACA.  With these measures, health costs would continue to go down.  Productivity will continue to rise.  We will all be better off.

An ounce of prevention can ultimately be worth more than a pound of cure.

The AHCA will do nothing to make our current system more efficient.  It is estimated that there is more than $350 billion of duplicated costs and waste in the system.  Not to mention profit-taking.  Because of these “burdens,” we pay more than any other developed country for health goods and services and we get worse results.

The political focus should be on making the current system under the ACA more efficient, squeezing out costs and making health care more affordable for everyone.

The AHCA (Trumpcare) is NOT the solution.  If the health care system is like a car, Trumpcare will be like dumping bags of sugar into the tank, instead of improving performance with a tune up and better gasoline.

 

 

My July 4th Letter to Senator Crapo. About Health Care, Of Course.

There is good reason for skepticism about our federal delegation. Even so, today I have mailed and emailed this urgent letter to Senator
Crapo.

Dear Senator Crapo,

On election night, when I called to congratulate you on your victory, you were gracious, told me of your working with and listening to both sides of the aisle and accepted my offer to be in touch for moments and matters of importance to Idahoans

This is one of those moments.  The matter is health care.

H.R. 1628 “The Better Care Reconciliation Act” currently before the Senate will have a devastating impact on many Idahoans.  I respectfully implore you to oppose it.

The predicted problems with this legislation are compounded for Idaho in the fact that 78,000 Idahoans already have suffered for years without health care coverage, in large part because the Idaho State Government refused Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Idaho’s Coverage Gap will grow and access to health care will become even more unattainable with the Medicaid contraction and rising premiums predicted by the CBO.

I recently received this note from someone already in the Idaho Coverage Gap:

“Jerry, it’s a sad state of affairs. I am one of the 78,000 here in Idaho. I don’t want something for nothing, but just can’t do the premiums. And it is obviously going to get worse.”

You and I have both served as Bishops in our church.  My ward is unusual in that it takes in the downtown area of Boise and the largest concentration of emergency housing for the homeless in Idaho.  Our ward also has a large swath of Section 8 housing.

Because of my experiences at Church and after the election, I joined the board of the Interfaith Sanctuary, one of the three large homeless shelters in Boise and the only one that accepts families.

ifs

In these roles, I have worked with (and conducted funerals for) the most vulnerable in our community and learned of the mental and physical problems that led to their homelessness and, like an iron boot, kept them there.

Access to health care through Medicaid is often the only thing that gives hope and the possibility of returning to productivity.

The coverage contractions and increasing premiums caused by the BCRA will only result in more homelessness, loss of hope and a growing social burden and responsibility.

In this divisive and individualistic political and cultural environment, I hope you will apply our shared values to encourage care for our poorer brothers and sisters.

The ACA was meant to do that, by spreading the risks and costs of health care to as many as possible. (We all share the costs and risks of driving with car insurance!  Why not health care?)

After strenuous and constant opposition, the ACA mandate is reportedly “hated,” but the fact is that without it (or increased taxes) more people will suffer the effects of poverty and the crushing unavailability of health care—at a cost to all of us.

Consider, for example, the statistics that show where Medicaid was expanded, the costs of emergency care went down.  Otherwise, the costs of emergency care must be spread with increased taxes and higher health care prices.

For these and other reasons, the AHCA and BCRA have been characterized as “Rich Care” for some Americans rather than “Better Care” for all Americans.  No surprise that recent polls show most Americans are against it.

This is not an area where deficit reduction or reducing taxes on the rich should be a consideration.  A healthier society will be a happier, more productive society.  Deficits and rich people will take of themselves.

Please vote against the BCRA and collaborate with both sides of the aisle to fix the ACA or otherwise spread risks and costs to make health care fair and affordable for all Idahoans and all Americans.

Thank you for your kind consideration and your continued service.

Sincerely,

JERRYSIG200

Jerry Sturgill

P.S.  Please feel free to share this message with Senator Risch.  I look forward to being in touch again on future topics, like tax reform, immigration, climate change and public lands.