Selecting The Wrong Leader. . . Again

Fighting an insidious attack on my immune system, I’ve opted to lean in to the sickness by reading the Atlantic’s God’s Plan for Mike Pence and the New York Times’s Inside Trump’s Hour-by-Hour Battle for Self-Preservation.

Journalism is hemorrhaging jobs, but fortunately, in some places, long form journalism is flourishing. These are detailed; thoughtful; and if you’re left-leaning, harrowing pieces.

From God’s Plan for Mike Pence:

“Scott Pelath, the Democratic minority leader in the Indiana House of Representatives, said that watching Pence vouch for Trump made him sad. “Ah, Mike,” he sighed. “Ambition got the best of him.” It’s an impression that even some of Pence’s oldest friends and allies privately share. As one former adviser marveled, ‘The number of compromises he made to get this job, when you think about it, is pretty staggering.'”

Tucked in the NYT piece were passing references to Trump’s twelve daily Diet Cokes and his regular dinner of. . .

“plates of well-done steak, salad slathered with Roquefort dressing and bacon crumbles, tureens of gravy and massive slices of dessert with extra ice cream.”

I’m calling bullshit on his doc’s glowing reports on his health. #fakenews

Why do we as citizens, employees, members of civic organizations, make leadership decisions we often regret? Why is our batting average too often Seattle Mariner-like?

Because we pick leaders based upon tangible qualifications that most closely match those we detail in our job postings, with far too little attention paid to the finalists’ psychological well-being. Granted, psychological well-being is hella-hard to assess in even a series of interviews, but somehow, we have to get better at it.

Let’s start with this premise, on a “Psychological Health” scale of 1-100, the most self-actualized person in the world is a 90. Put differently, everyone has “issues” and is fallible. The goal is to select leaders with the fewest inner demons so as to avoid getting hopelessly side-tracked from the group’s overarching mission. How about this for an interview question: Which of your inner demons are we likely to learn about six months from now? Maybe I should use italics when joking. But seriously, how do interviewers enter the side or back door to assess a candidate’s relative mental health and basic people skills?

My best work friend of all time took another job two and a half years ago. When the damnable university called me to talk about him, this is some of what I said, “He utterly has no ego. As a result, he doesn’t care who gets the credit for the good work that get’s done. All he cares about is that good work gets done.” His lack of ego was an indicator of genuine psychological health, the foundation of which, was equal parts a wonderful marriage and extended family, a deep spirituality, and a commitment to physical activity. Importantly, he also laughed a lot, often at himself.

Maybe the answer to the question, how do we assess job finalists’ psychological health, lies in the previous paragraph. Talk to more former co-workers in greater depth. I’m interested in other ideas you may have.

 

Sign(s) of the Apocalypse

Sports Illustrated used to have a weekly “sign of the apocalypse” blurb which was some especially depressing sports-related quote or news event. Let’s revive it with this mind-blowing missive from Darren Rovell, ESPN Senior Writer:

“$13.2 million: Estimated value to Big Baller Brand as a result of the back and forth between LaVar Ball and Donald Trump over the UCLA basketball players release from China. The value grew another $4 million over the last 24 hours, including Trump’s two tweets on the topic this morning.”

Anyone who reads and/or talks about LaVar Ball is being played. Thanks to this post, I’m complicit in the mania now.

Two hundred years from now, in 2217, when academics are writing about the steady decline of the U.S. throughout the 21st and 22nd Centuries, an especially creative historian will point to the Donald Trump-Lavar Ball twitter back-and-forth as the beginning of the end of U.S. hegemony.

The President now supports Roy Moore because Moore denies the allegations. Trump strikes me as more amoral, than immoral. His only core values, as far as I can tell, are related, attract more attention and acquire more wealth. We have a President that doesn’t factor in the country’s best interests. And he has over three years left to wreak havoc.

Most depressing of all, my political party couldn’t find anyone to beat this guy.

Postscript: I hereby pledge to post again tomorrow. Something a little more upbeat for the best holiday of the year.

 

Friday Assorted Links

1A. Running While Female. Male runners may be shocked to learn how often women must endure on-the-run harassment. Many female runners have come to just expect it.

“43 percent of women at least sometimes experience harassment on the run. . . compared with just 4 percent of men. In the vast majority of cases, it’s not life-threatening. But it is pervasive, and it’s upsetting, and it’s most likely happening to. . . someone you know.

A man will look a woman up and down as she runs past. A driver will shout a come-on, laughing with his friends as they speed away. A person on a bike or in a car will follow a woman, and she might dart down a side street to escape. Even if nothing like this happens most days, knowing that it (or something worse) could happen causes stress. As the recent national dialogue surrounding Donald Trump’s sexist comments and alleged assaults brought to light, almost all women—runners or not—have endured unwanted sexual attention. And no matter how swift a woman’s pace, it’s impossible to outrun harassment.”

1B. Male athletes at Garfield High mentored on how to interact with women.

“‘There was things. . . that I noticed that I’ve done in the past . . . I just realized I should change,’ said Ramari, a football player.”

Imagine that, coaches looking past scoreboards.

2. Why America’s roads are in tatters.

“Brickyard is among the roads that the Muskegon County Road Commission has slated to be turned to gravel, twenty-eight miles in all.”

We are a nation in decline.

“Each American driver pays about $450 per year toward roads, according to the Journal of Infrastructure Systems. Europeans fork over on average 2 to 3.5 times as much — the difference is largely in fuel taxes. Americans have always resisted giving such financial support for infrastructure projects. . . . The federal gas tax, 18.4 cents per gallon, was last raised in 1993 and has since lost more than one third of its purchasing power. Only three states currently index their gas tax to inflation.”

You get what you don’t pay for.

3. How long must Seattle teachers save for house down payment?

“Teachers with five years of experience, and a master’s degree would pay about 28 percent of their annual salary on rent for a one-bedroom in Seattle, according to the NCTQ data.

“Are you giving people enough money to buy a house or even rent a modest apartment? If you aren’t doing that, you’re sort of depriving a profession of what makes it a profession.'”

4. Fuck, I Totally Forgot to Fight for Women’s Rights and Promote Sustainability.

“You know how it is, though.”

The Difference Between Jordan Spieth and Donald Trump

Aspiring leaders can learn a lot from Donald Trump. Specifically, what not to do. Last week he bragged that HE was going to pass the biggest tax cut in history. Not “my administration”, not “Congressional leaders and me”, “ME“. At the same time, when pressed to explain why he’s failed to pass any significant legislation so far, he has his Press Secretary blame Congress for “not doing their job”.

In contrast, listen to 24 year-old Jordan Spieth after winning his next golf tournament. Or Justin Thomas in three days in South Korea. Both consistently credit their teams for their success, starting every sentence with “We“. They credit their caddies, swing coaches, trainers, agents, and families for their success. Also note how they shift gears when they lose. “My putting wasn’t what it has been.” “I never had control of my driver.”

Two utterly opposite models of leadership. The U.S. Constitution says you have to be 35 years old to be President. If not for that, I’d say, let’s make a trade, Spieth to the Oval Office, Trump to the first tee. I mean he claims to have shot 73 last week. That news was timely, I was beginning to think he had his sense of humor surgically removed.

Friday Assorted Links

1. The British Open has always been my favorite golf tournament because of the history, creative shot making, hellish bunkers, cold wind and rain, and the gorse of course. I’m going to miss it.

Englishman Nick Faldo, a three-time Open champion, said it is no longer correct to call it the Open Championship. “Now it’s ‘The Open. In another five years, it will just be called ‘The.’ ”

2. Tyler Cowen on his writing process.

“I try to write a few pages every day. I don’t obsess over the counting, I just do as much as I can and stop before I feel I am done, so I am eager to start up again the next day, or after lunch. That to me is very important, not to write too much in a single day, but to get something written every single day.”

3. Principals are loath to give teachers bad ratings.

“When principals are asked their opinions of teachers in confidence and with no stakes attached, they’re much more likely to give harsh ratings, researchers found.”

4. So this is why eldest daughter chooses to live in Chicago.

“Another interesting trend is that all cities in Southwest, from Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, are taco cities. Burrito cities are mostly from the Midwest and West. California has cities in both categories. It appears that SoCal prefers tacos (LA and San Diego), while NorCal prefers burritos (San Francisco, Sacramento, San Jose).”

Clearly, burritos > tacos, so I need to visit Indianapolis and San Fransisco.

5A. Trumpcare collapsed because the Republican Party cannot govern.

“In truth, it was never possible to reconcile public standards for a humane health-care system with conservative ideology. In a pure market system, access to medical care will be unaffordable for a huge share of the public. Giving them access to quality care means mobilizing government power to redistribute resources, either through direct tax and transfers or through regulations that raise costs for the healthy and lower them for the sick. Obamacare uses both methods, and both are utterly repugnant and unacceptable to movement conservatives. That commitment to abstract anti-government dogma, without any concern for the practical impact, is the quality that makes the Republican Party unlike right-of-center governing parties in any other democracy. In no other country would a conservative party develop a plan for health care that every major industry stakeholder calls completely unworkable.”

5B. The Republican healthcare meltdown.

“The larger lesson of this sorry episode is that nobody—not McConnell, or Trump, or House Speaker Paul Ryan—can resolve the contradictions of today’s Republican Party. Once the political arm of the Rotary Club and the affluent suburbs, the Party is increasingly one of middle-class and working-class voters, many of whom are big beneficiaries of federal programs, such as Medicaid and the Obamacare subsidies for the purchase of private insurance. But the G.O.P. remains beholden to its richest, most conservative donors, many of whom espouse a doctrine of rolling back the government and cutting taxes, especially taxes applicable to themselves and other very rich people. It was the donors and ideologues, with Ryan as their front man, who led the assault on the Affordable Care Act.”

5C. Trump’s clueless abdication of presidential responsibility.

“Predictable and despicable” are more apt than “clueless”.

“The first duty of any President is to protect the welfare of the citizenry. In blithely threatening to allow the collapse of the Obamacare exchanges, through which some twelve million Americans have purchased health insurance, Trump was ignoring this duty. Arguably, he was violating his oath of office, in which he promised to ‘faithfully execute the office of the President of the United States.'”

I Saw the Future of the Democratic Party

When will Hillary Clinton stop trying to explain away her 2016 election loss? Peggy Noonan’s hard hitting editorial, “Hillary Lacks Remorse of Conscience” is in my view, fair. Of Hillary’s long list of external reasons why she lost, the Pulitzer Prize winning writer concludes, “It is a tribute to the power of human denial.”

Noonan adds:

“It is insisting on alternative facts so that journalists and historians will have to take them into account. It is a monotonous repetition of a certain version of events, which will be amplified, picked up and repeated into the future.

And it’s not true.

The truth is Bernie Sanders destroyed Mrs. Clinton’s chance of winning by almost knocking her off, and in the process revealing her party’s base had changed. Her plodding, charmless, insincere style of campaigning defeated her. Bad decisions in her campaign approach to the battleground states did it; a long history of personal scandals did it; fat Wall Street speeches did it; the Clinton Foundation’s bloat and chicanery did it—and most of all the sense that she ultimately stands for nothing but Hillary did it.”

Immediately post election, political analysts told us Hillary’s public life was over. Something about long walks in Westchester County, yoga, and grandchildren. Now she seems intent on re-reinventing herself. She’ll be 73 in 2020. The oldest president ever elected is Donald Trump, who is 70. To succeed in future elections, the Democratic Party desperately needs an infusion of younger women to take the mantle of national leadership from Hillary Clinton.

The Washington Post’s Chris Cizzilla by way of Amy Davidson at the New Yorker recommends eleven:

1. Elizabeth Warren

2. Kirstin Gillibrand

3. Kamala Harris

4. Amy Klobuchar

5. Tulsi Gabbard

6. (tie) Tammy Baldwin and Claire McCaskill

8. Maggie Hassan

9. Tammy Duckworth

10. Val Demings

11. Sheryl Sandberg

To me, Warren appears cut from very similar cloth as HRC, smart, always serious, and to borrow from Noonan, “plodding and charmless”. In extremely stark contrast, there is one particular “top eleven” woman I would want to have a few beers with, Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar, who was the commencement speaker at my daughter’s college graduation last Sunday.

Klobuchar’s talk was amazingly refreshing. It was not a generic speech that she could’ve given previously. Her daughter graduated college the weekend before and she wove in stories from her perspective as a parent. She was funny in making fun of the press’s overwrought criticisms of Millenials. And she was challenging and inspiring in talking about the struggles of a Somali-American family to gain genuine acceptance in Minneapolis. And the harder the wind blew her hair sideways, the more she smiled. She was clearly enjoying herself, not just campaigning. Don’t take my word for it, decide for yourself. Watch it in its entirely here (starts at 34:00).

I hope I get a chance to vote for her sometime soon.

 

Sentence of the Day

It’s still early on the Best West Coast, but it’s going to be very difficult to top this, from Katy Waldman of Slate:

“It is such an odd, ubiquitous detail—that Trump is ‘enraged.’ He is apoplectic, incensed, irate, vexed, sore, peeved, tantrum-y, mad online, mad offline, mad in a boat, mad with a goat, mad in the rain, mad on a train.”