Is It Any Surprise?

Top officials in the Trump administration are clueless about how best to cope with their boss. Haven’t you been there? Several times likely?

That’s what I find so fascinating about this, nearly every adult working person can relate to some degree. We haven’t wanted to kill our worst bosses like in the 2011 comedy Horrible Bosses, but we’ve desperately wanted them replaced.

And in those situations, we haven’t known what to do either.

We realized quitting wouldn’t accomplish much. So we complained a lot to whomever would listen, but that didn’t accomplish anything either. We’ve tried talking to them about necessary changes to no avail. We’ve conveyed our dismay to their boss with mixed results. That’s the key difference in this workplace. Mattis, Kelly, and the other cabinet members don’t have that option. I feel for Mad Dog, JK, and the others deeply mired in Trump’s swamp of amoral ego.

When it comes to coping with truly dysfunctional bosses, what is the collective wisdom? What should individuals and work groups do first, second, third? What is the academic literature on this? Absent any profound insights, we just end up with anonymous editorials, resignations, and books that offer little guidance on what to do differently the next time.

We can and must do better. Somehow.

Wednesday Assorted Links

1. I wouldn’t normally be drawn to an essay titled The Gift of Menopause, but the Times’s preamble drew me in. So glad. Brilliant. Exquisitely written.

2. The Difference Between Being Broke and Being Poor.

3. The Fight for Iowa’s White Working-Class Soul. Is that DJ Byrnes’s future?

4. The Highest Court in the Land. For Richie. Who would dominate.

5A. The specious claims of the “wellness industrial complex” continued. Worshipping the False Idols of Wellness. 5B. Wellness Brands Like Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP Wage War on Science.

6. Flat Cokes, Relay Running, and 500 Pages of Notes: A Professor Prepares to Break a Guinness World Record for Longest Lesson. I will not be attending.

Make Cars Great Again

By weakening fuel efficiency rules. Thank you Trump Administration for correcting the errors of the Obama Administration and helping keep cars affordable. And safer. All while continuing to protect the environment. And thank you for soliciting “all interested parties to weigh in with their views”. Very cool. Very democratic.

My view is totally sympatico with yours. Put me down for a “yes” vote on the weaker rules. Goals should be achievable, and you’re right, electric vehicles are for losers. In particular, this really resonated with me:

“Some data conclude that nearly half of consumers who purchase an electric car do not buy another because of challenges with range and recharge times.”

When it comes to things like your Environmental Protection Agency’s track record and your courageous questioning of climate change science, your administration has earned my trust so the phrase “some data” is good enough for me!

And I also agree that subsidies for electric vehicles are for losers best left to European and Chinese businesses who will never truly grasp capitalism’s allure. Please know my free-market invisible hands are clapping for your commitment to Big Oil having a more level economic playing field.

“. . . keeping in place the standards finalized in 2012 would add $2,340 to the cost of owning a new car and impose more than $500 billion in societal costs on the U.S. economy over the next 50 years.”

Again, thank you, $2,340, is not chump or even trump change. About $200 a year over 12 years of car ownership is a hell of a lot to ask for things as boring as markedly improved gas mileage and slowing climate change. Wouldn’t the typical electric car owner save more than $200 in gas costs? Sorry, strike that from the record. I’m sure there’s some more sophisticated math you have used that I probably would not understand. If you say it doesn’t “pencil out”, then it doesn’t pencil out. And “$500 billion in societal costs over the next 50 years?! No way can I do that math, but again I trust you that the “societal costs” are super scary things like more liberals feeling emboldened about spotted owls, more illegal immigrants invading our country, and more Democrats invading Congress.

“Due to these increased costs, Americans are holding on to their older, less-safe vehicles longer and buying older-model vehicles. The average vehicle on the road today is 12 years old, and data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows passengers are likelier to be killed in older vehicles than newer ones. In each of the past two years, more than 37,000 lives were lost on our roads. A key goal of this rulemaking is to reduce the barriers to enabling Americans to purchase newer, safer, cleaner cars.”

Initially, upon hearing that your Administration wanted to weaken fuel efficiency standards, I wondered why. I thought if America’s engineers were even a little great, the Obama goals were appropriately aspirational. I apologize that a part of me even wondered if you might be currying favor with Big Oil and Big Automakers, but upon just a little additional thought, that struck me as entirely too swampy a thing for your team.

I’m embarrassed that I pre-judged you. Of course, your first and foremost concern is our safety. All of your improvements to our infrastructure point to that. My cynicism got the best of me. I will do better going forward in my more affordable, safer, cleaner car.

Lastly, your editorial didn’t really touch on the “continuing to protect the environment” from the intro, but that’s okay. I understand word limits and trust you to be good for that. Again, to be clear, I am down with your downgrading of our fuel efficiency standards. And I look forward to your administration’s additional bar lowering pronouncements in the near future.

Journalism Lives

Two lengthy, extremely well written profiles worth your time if you’re the least bit interested in (1) North Korea and/or (2) marketing.

1. The Untold Story of Otto Warmbier, American Hostage. Unfunny throughout.

2. How Goop’s Haters Made Gwyneth Paltrow’s Company Worth $250 Million. Very funny in places.

Rejecting Cynicism in Piqua, Ohio

My nephew, D.J. Byrnes, has left his job as an Ohio State football writer (ElevenWarriors.com) to run for the 80th District of the Ohio state legislature.

DJ is way more progressive than the district, so I suspect he’s a longshot, but I’m proud of him for giving it a go.

He’s a smart, sarcastic, humorous person who wants to make a difference in his neighbor’s lives. Win or lose, I trust he’ll find ways to do that.

Why I’m Running

Jul 15, 2018

I am running because people like me aren’t supposed to seek political office. No fancy degrees hang on my walls. No opulent suits hang in my closets. I have no connections with corporations, energy companies, or shadowy networks of deep-pocketed donors.

My friends say I must be crazy to run. The absurd toxicity has poisoned our political process and pushed capable, everyday people to the sidelines. But no longer.

This fight isn’t about Democrat vs. Republican, or Left vs. Right. It’s about regular people organizing to eradicate the plunderbund that seeks to strip us of our dignity, health care, and wages.

I plan to take my pro-worker message to every corner of the district—including ruby red Darke County. I am going to take it to churches, fast food restaurants, county fairs, and gun ranges. Only donations from individuals and labor unions will fuel this campaign.

As the last three decades have shown, new faces on old politics won’t solve our problems. It’s time for Ohio to operate for the many, not the few. I am the Swamp’s worst nightmare because I cannot be bought, sold, or traded. Lobbyists and corporate shills need not darken my doorstep if their business does not benefit the hard-working Ohioans that fuel the 80th district.

Together, we will end corporate tax giveaways and create new revenue streams to invest in our district and bring new industries and jobs.

In solidarity,
D.J. Byrnes

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Apparently, from his picture, in addition to healthcare for all and guaranteed living wages, it looks like he’s going to bring mountains and mountain lakes to the district. How kickass is that?! D.J., be careful at the gun ranges and good luck come November. I’m pulling for you.

Trump, “I Said Would Instead of Wouldn’t”

More on the dystopian novel we’re trapped in here.

“President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he meant the opposite when he said he didn’t see why Russia would have interfered in the 2016 U.S. elections. ‘The sentence should’ve been: ‘I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia’.”

Cue the Twitter comedians:

• I obviously meant to shout “I DON’T OBJECT” sorry that I ruined your wedding.

• I mean, I might have ruined it, or I might not have. It was probably your fault for inviting me to the wedding. Both sides are to blame.

• I meant to say “It is NOT safe to cross” which I can see now might have made a big difference.

• I also meant I want to build a MALL between the US and Mexico.

 

Paragraphs To Ponder

John Gruber, at Daring Fireball, on what the Russians most likely have on Trump:

“I don’t think it’s the infamous pee tape because even if real, the pee tape might not sink Trump. I think it’s money — that Trump’s entire company, and therefore his personal wealth, is held afloat entirely by Russian money and Putin could pull the plug on it with a snap of his fingers. But whatever it is, it seems clear there’s something they’ve got on him.”

Gruber again:

“I’ve been thinking for a few months now that the most powerful person in the world isn’t Trump or Putin but Rupert Murdoch. If Fox News turned against Trump — not against Republicans, not against conservatives, but only against Trump and his family — it would sink Trump’s presidency within months. Politically, Trump couldn’t breathe without the support of Fox News. Rupert Murdoch could make that happen.”