Thursday, August 06, 2020

Trump's Worst

Vote for Trump’s Worst!

The competition among his cabineteers is fierce.


By Gail Collins

Opinion Columnist

·         Aug. 5, 2020

OK, people, I know you’re feeling a little wan and helpless these days. Sure does seem like a long time until November.

So let’s take an early vote and pick Donald Trump’s Worst Cabinet Member. The competition is intense this year. Some days it feels as if everybody in the administration is trying to grab the grand prize. That they’re running around with a list in their pocket titled Things to Screw Up.

Vice President Mike Pence has been a faithful hanger-on from Day 1. He’s now doing double duty as Trump’s coronavirus czar. In which capacity he predicted on April 24 that the epidemic would be “behind us” by Memorial Day weekend.

Last season’s winnerAttorney General William Barr, certainly hasn’t been resting on his laurels. At a recent House Judiciary Committee hearing, he had to be prodded twice before acknowledging that presidential candidates aren’t supposed to accept foreign assistance. When asked if he agreed with Trump’s shocking suggestion that a president could move Election Day, Barr said, “I’ve never looked into it.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo came in second-most-awful last time around. Can he make the big leap? He got a boost recently from my colleague Tom Friedman, who hinted at his opinion in a piece called “Mike Pompeo Is the Worst Secretary of State Ever.”

Nothing like the tried-and-true Trump veterans when it comes to top-notch terrible. But there’s new talent, too, thanks to all the shuffling that keeps going on. Chad Wolfthe acting head of homeland security, is the fifth person to lead the department in the current administration. If he can hang on until after the election, he’ll have racked up more than a year on the job — a Trump administration achievement that is no doubt due to all the prior experience Wolf had as a travel industry lobbyist.

The postmaster general is no longer officially in the cabinet, for reasons way too dense to explain. But we’re going to leave Louis DeJoy in the mix because of his vigorous efforts to wreck the postal system — a goal that we’re sure has nothing to do with the president’s hatred of voting by mail. DeJoy’s top qualification for the job appears to be more than $2 million in donations to Republican causes during the Trump regime.

Did we mention his wife has been nominated to be ambassador to Canada?

The Worst contenders keep on coming: Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross Jr., another previous winner, has been relatively quiet recently. Literally, since he reportedly keeps dozing off at meetings. The man is 82 — what do you expect? But he’s still plugging away at the administration’s priorities, like shutting down the census count four weeks early.

Interior Secretary David Bernhardt is a former lobbyist for the oil and gas industries, a résumé you will notice crops up frequently. This has given him the in-depth understanding that allowed him to take a lead in the administration’s massive financial relief package for oil and gas companies.

Bernhardt also seems to have been one of the central administration players in the drama of Lafayette Square, when protesters were ejected by military police to make way for Trump and his Bible.

But he’s not volunteering any information. “The Babe Ruth of stonewalling,” said Ron Wyden, the Democratic senator from Oregon who’s been following Bernhardt’s career for a long time. Bernhardt traveled recently to Wyden’s home state where he met with Native American tribes — and refused, Wyden noted, to wear a mask.

If you’re into the environment and want another option, there’s E.P.A. head Andrew Wheeler, a former lobbyist for — wait for it — energy companies. His latest crusade is extending the life of gigantic pits of coal sludge.

Or how about U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer? He’s not in the news as much as some of the others, but we’ll always remember his speech defending Trump’s China wars, revealing, “I don’t know what the end goal is.”

More! How about health and human services head Alex Azar? He’s been on the job a couple of years now, which by Trump standards makes him a hardened veteran. When he’s not busy failing to respond to the pandemic, one of his other missions is overseeing the administration’s attempts to gut the Affordable Care Act and replace it with … some other thing.

You don’t have to reward splashy bad behavior if you prefer the more modest figures who prefer to screw everything up from behind the scenes. Like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, whose standing in the Worst poll soared when people realized they had a secretary of education who didn’t like public schools.

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao may not have done much for infrastructure, but she sure is connected. Wife of Mitch McConnell, Chao is also a member of a wealthy and powerful family that’s deeply into shipping contracts. That got up to $1 million from our government’s recession-fighting Paycheck Protection Program.

So — who’s your favorite? Send me a Worst Cabinet Member pick in the comments. Voting’s open until midnight Eastern time on Sunday, and we’ll announce the winners next week.


Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Gaming the System

Gaming the System

It is all about the Electoral College now
Trump accused Birx of crumbling under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s criticism of her usually upbeat presentations about the crisis. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Both the administration’s disastrous response to the coronavirus and looming legal troubles are putting pressure on the president.
Yesterday, Dr. Deborah Birx, the advisor to the White House on the coronavirus pandemic, warned we are entering a “new phase” of the disease as it is “extraordinarily widespread.” Today, Trump accusedBirx of crumbling under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s criticism of her usually upbeat presentations about the crisis. “So Crazy Nancy Pelosi said horrible things about Dr. Deborah Birx, going after her because she was too positive on the very good job we are doing on combatting the China Virus, including Vaccines & Therapeutics. In order to counter Nancy, Deborah took the bait & hit us. Pathetic!”
When reporters asked what he meant by the tweet, he answered, “Well, I think that we’re doing very well and we have done as well as any nation.”
The US has more than 4.5 million infections and more than 155,000 deaths.
In an astonishing interview with Jonathan Swan of Axios, aired tonight, the president could not seem to grapple with the reality that the numbers of dead are climbing in America. He continued to insist that what mattered are cases, and that we have high infection numbers only because we are testing. Swan explainedthat our death rate as a proportion of our population is “really bad,” but Trump incorrectly insisted it is “lower than the world,” and told Swan, “You’re not reporting it correctly.”
Today another penny dropped, too. We learned that the Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. is apparently investigating Trump for more than the hush money paid to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who both claimed to have had an affair with Trump. Vance’s team appears to be focusing on tax fraud, insurance fraud, and bank fraud, all crimes Trump fixer Michael Cohen said were on the table. According to CNN legal analyst Elie Honig, this is significant because hush money payments are hard to prove because the prosecutors have to prove intent. Financial fraud, in contrast, is based on documents.
This seems to be bad news for Trump, and his lawyers were in court today trying again to stop Vance’s subpoena of Trump’s financial documents from his accountants, Mazars USA.
As for the upcoming election, there is something obvious in front of us:
No one is pretending that Trump is going to win the popular vote. He’s not even trying to. He’s doubling down on the culture wars that excite his base in the hopes of getting them to turn out in strong numbers, most recently by sending federal law enforcement officers into cities led by Democrats in order to create images of what looks like rioting, to enable him to set himself up as defending “law and order.”
At the same time, he and his supporters in the Republican Party are working to guarantee an undercount of votes for his opponent by attacking mail-in voting, shutting down polling places, kicking people off voter rolls, undercutting the United States Postal Service, and even, perhaps, by permitting a wave of evictions that will make it significantly harder for displaced people to vote.
It is notable that, as a country, we are not talking about policies or winning majorities. We are talking about how Trump can win by gaming the Electoral College, or by cheating.
In the past few days, polls have shown that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is running strong against Trump in the Rust Belt swing states that Trump needs to win. A new poll yesterday shows Biden at 50% and Trump at 41% in Pennsylvania, whose 20 electoral votes Trump picked up in 2016 and that he sure would like to have again this time, although there are routes for him to win without them.
Also yesterday, the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story about a crisis in mail delivery. “Neighborhoods across the Philadelphia region are experiencing significant delays in receiving their mail, with some residents going upwards of three weeks without packages and letters, leaving them without medication, paychecks, and bills,” it began. The recent overhaul of USPS procedures has led to the pileup of undelivered mail across the country.
The new Postmaster General, Louis DeJoy, a Trump loyalist, claims his new regulations are to promote efficiency, but the sudden slowdown of mail delivery just as people begin to receive and return their ballots raises concerns that it is a deliberate attempt to skew the vote. On “Fox News Sunday,” yesterday, host Chris Wallace asked senior Trump campaign advisor Jason Miller “Isn’t the postmaster general increasing the chances that the Postal Service will be overwhelmed… coming up to the election?” Miller replied that any problems would not be DeJoy’s fault, but rather the fault of Democrats who are changing the rules around mail-in voting.
The Trump campaign is also alarmingly unwilling to rule out accepting foreign help to pull out a win. According to former National Security Advisor John Bolton, Trump asked Chinese leader Xi Jinping for help swinging agricultural states back to the Trump camp with large purchases of US agricultural products, and ask that he apparently got with the Chinese trade deal of January 15.
Last week, a Brazilian newspaper reported that US Ambassador to Brazil Todd Chapman lobbied for lower ethanol tariffs by emphasizing “the importance for the Bolsonaro government of maintaining Donald Trump as US President.” According to a letter written by the chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Eliot Engel (D-NY) and chair of the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, and Trade Albio Sires (D-NY) to Chapman, demanding an explanation by 5:00 on August 4, the article went on: “Iowa is the largest ethanol producer in the United States…and could be a key player in Trump’s election. Hence the importance – according to Chapman – for the Bolsonaro government to do the US a favor.” The report has been independently confirmed by another Brazilian newspaper.
We know Trump pressured Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to announce an investigation into Hunter Biden and the company that had hired him, Burisma, before he would release congressionally appropriated money to help our ally resist Russian incursions. And we know that Ukrainians linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin are currently feeding information to Republicans involved with the Senate’s own new investigation of Hunter Biden.
Last summer, Trump said he would take help from Russia or other countries if they produced information he could use against his opponents. On “Fox News Sunday,” Jason Miller refused to say that the campaign would not accept foreign help in this election. Host Chris Wallace pressed him on the issue three times, and Miller simply called the question “silly.”
“Can you flatly state that the Trump campaign and the administration will not accept foreign assistance this time?” Wallace asked. “Chris, I said that’s an absolutely silly question. We’re going to go and win this election fair and square,” Miller answered.
In 2019, Ellen L. Weintraub, former chair of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) officially stated: “Let me make something 100% clear to the American public and anyone running for public office: It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a US election.” She continued, “This is not a novel concept. Electoral intervention from foreign governments has been considered unacceptable since the beginnings of our nation.”
The FEC does not currently have enough members on it to have a quorum, leaving it unable to conduct business.
The concern that a sitting president is angling not to win reelection by appealing to a majority, but rather by using the apparatus of his high office to cheat, is unprecedented, and we must not normalize it.

All the Problems With Trump's TikTok Fee

All the Problems With Trump's TikTok Fee
The president floats the idea that the government should get a cut of any TikTok deal, which is just beyond belief.

General managing partner, G2T3V and Chicago High Tech Investors @tullman

It’s actually difficult to believe that the President of the United States would inject himself (no pun intended) into the middle of the Microsoft/TikTok discussions, and then demand that a “substantial amount of money” be paid to the U.S. Treasury from whatever agreement might result, as a condition of the government’s acquiescence in any prospective deal.   
Trump’s lifelong mindset is that he and his businesses should get a “piece” of every deal, deservedly or not.  Now he’s dragging the federal government down to his grifter level. His sophomoric “key money” analogy to a landlord/tenant relationship is especially telling.  Throughout his shabby real estate career it was always about using leverage to take advantage of the other parties - renege on commitments - stiff vendors and partners - and basically do whatever was solely in his own interest. 

Say what you will about the lip service to security concerns, the clear message now is that you can buy anything you want from this government, for the right price. And to be very clear, if Trump even understood what he was saying, it’s pretty obvious that he wasn’t talking about traditional taxes, capital gains or even tariffs. He was talking about extorting the parties to the deal to pay the government a bunch of money so the deal would be allowed. The message is that federal approval is for sale-; just like everything else in this administration.  
Frankly, it was stupid of Microsoft to reach out to Trump and involve him in the process. Now the company, not to mention our country’s international image, is paying the price. The old rule is that if you teach a bear to dance, you'd better be prepared to keep dancing until the bear wants to stop. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella foolishly invited this guy to the party and now he won’t leave without his piece of the action.  

Although, in fact, we really don’t know who is supposed to actually come up with the payoff. While Trump insists that he would expect someone to pay the “very large percentage” of the purchase price to the United States Treasury, that’s about the extent of the thought that seems to have entered into this discussion thus far. As usual, it’s shoot from the hip, then try to back off the obvious errors and have your people attempt to clean up the confusion and the resulting mess. This is a helluva way to run a railroad.  
And for hundreds of other tech businesses engaged in global conversations, arrangements, contracts, partnerships, etc., it muddies the waters and raises new obstacles and problems galore. Trump’s declaration that TikTok has no rights in the U.S. unless he gives them is akin to telling the rest of the world it needs his permission to do business in the U.S. and that he can withdraw that consent at any time. This is no longer any rule of contract law, or standard business protocols - it’s a rule by fiat and by impulse and emotion. And no one really knows what the rules will be down the line.
Microsoft is theoretically buying the TikTok assets - not selling them - so is Trump saying that Microsoft also has to pay a premium over and above the payments to TikTok to the Treasury as a deal fee? Or is he saying that TikTok-; which isn’t technically subject to any U.S. jurisdiction from a financial standpoint - would have to pay some large portion of the purchase price to the Treasury for no apparent reason? And, just for laughs, who is going to determine these amounts and in what forum, and who will be negotiating with the parties? Will some government agency now be a part of every global contract conversation or - worse yet - waiting in the wings to jump in and interfere with the negotiations if and when it pleases?  Capitalism can’t operate this way; at least not for long.
For centuries, businesses have required and depended on certain degrees of trust, predictability, and comfort in the laws that govern contracts and other transactions - especially internationally.  That’s ever more so in today’s global economy. This latest farce is just another Trump nail in the coffin of America’s reputation and integrity. And it risks far more in the long term than simply the consummation of a single deal.  


President Trump said in an interview with “Axios on HBO” that he thinks the coronavirus is as well-controlled in the U.S. as it can be, despite dramatic surges in new infections over the course of the summer and more than 150,000 American deaths.
  • “They are dying, that's true. And you have — it is what it is. But that doesn't mean we aren't doing everything we can. It's under control as much as you can control it. This is a horrible plague,” he told Axios' Jonathan Swan.
Reality check: The U.S. is averaging roughly 65,000 new cases and 1,000 deaths per day. The virus has already killed nearly 150,000 Americans, and it spread largely unchecked through almost the entire country throughout June and July.
The big picture: In the interview, which took place last Tuesday, Trump returned to familiar themes and areas where the U.S. really has made significant progress. He cited the dramatic increase in ventilator production, the ramp-up in testing and treatment that has reduced the overall fatality rate from the virus.
  • Yes, but: He painted a far rosier picture of the pandemic than most data would support.
On testing, Trump said, “You know there are those that say you can test too much” — a view that no experts have advocated.
  • The U.S. is experiencing long turnaround times for coronavirus testing, as Trump acknowledged, because of the high demand for testing. But that is largely a function of the country’s high caseload and the number of people at risk of infection.
He also returned to his mantra that “because we've done more tests, we have more cases.”
  • The cases the U.S. has, we would have had with or without testing. We know we have them because of testing, but the massive outbreak here would be a massive outbreak whether we chose to know about it (through testing) or ignore it by not testing.
Trump also seemed to suggest that he did not trust South Korea’s coronavirus data, when pressed on that country’s more successful coronavirus response.
  • There have been no serious allegations, from experts, international authorities or the U.S., that South Korea’s numbers are inaccurate.


Mainstream media: Stop admiring good interviews and reform your approach

August 4, 2020 at 9:27 a.m. CDT

Axios’s Jonathan Swan deserves praise for his revealing interview with the intellectually and temperamentally deficient president. Pressed on how he could crow about his handling of the pandemic when a thousand people a day were dying, President Trump replied: “They are dying. That’s true. And you have — it is what it is. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t doing everything we can. It’s under control as much as you can control it."

The sight of him shuffling through papers, unable to process unflattering information or respond to questions for which he did not have a stock answer, was sobering if unsurprising. His peevish refusal to recognize the late Rep. John Lewis’s greatness because Lewis did not attend Trump’s inauguration was yet another example of raging narcissism.

However, what is instructive — and disturbing — was the amazement expressed by other media personalities in response. They gawk and applaud as if Swan (like Fox News’s Chris Wallace) did something unprecedented. Instead, Swan — like Wallace — did his job, refusing to be flustered by Trump and eschewing congenial tactics that allow Trump to escape from tough encounters.

I cannot imagine a network anchor displaying the look of incredulity on Swan’s face or retorting “Why can’t I?” when Trump said he couldn’t count coronavirus deaths as a percentage of our population. I cannot envision a cable TV anchor (other than Wallace or CNN’s Jake Tapper) dwelling on a topic for as long as it takes to pin Trump down and refusing to rush off to another topic.

Swan and Wallace expertly displayed their craft, but they (and the reaction of their peers) wound up demonstrating how sadly deficient TV interviewers have been in the Trump era. There are two problems: the personnel hired to do tough, combative interviews and the mindset of too many news outlets.

TV news personalities are hired in part because they are congenial, likable and watchable. They put guests and the audience at ease. They do not allow pregnant pauses. They bail out interviewees who are at a loss for words. This is the wrong skill set for interrogating a president, especially one who is a serial liar. In nearly four years, TV news outlets have not figured this out; some simply threw in the towel and declined to switch to more effective interviewers because their star anchors draw TV viewers.

The TV networks would do better to hire people — lawyers, specifically — who are attack dogs, who do not care about being liked and who do not care if they get “access.” House Intelligence Committee counsel Daniel S. Goldman and Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney and now MSNBC interviewer, know how to prepare a line of questions.

(Disclosure: I’m an MSNBC contributor.) They know how to listen to the answer and follow up. They shrug off bluster and body language meant to intimidate them. If the job of the media is to hold those in power accountable and to reveal the truth (not maintain phony balance), this is the kind of person you want grilling administration figures.

That brings us to the larger problems with a good deal of mainstream media coverage: the false supposition that Trump is a rational president whose actions can be analyzed as deliberate policy or political choices; the aversion to describing Trump’s statements accurately (“lie,” “incoherent,” etc.); and the reluctance to give up the false idol of “balance” when one side acts in bad faith. In conducting themselves in this way, mainstream media help prop up Trump, conferring an aura of normality that is not earned. They also let other Republicans off the hook when they should be asking hard questions about their own moral failures. (How can you seriously support someone who blabbers nonsense about coronavirus deaths? Aren’t you embarrassed to defend Trump’s blatant appeals to racism?) And they give cover to right-wing editors, pundits and columnists who concoct elaborate rationalizations and ignore what is in front of their noses — a haphazard, delusional and racist president.

After applauding their colleague Swan, the rest of the TV news universe might engage in some self-reflection. Why have they been so ineffective? Why have they played the false balance game? Do they have the people with the right skill set or have they simply given up asking the hardest questions for the sake of genial entertainment? These are tough but essential questions necessary if we are to have an effective, independent media. Right now, effective inquisitors are islands in a sea of froth and fog.

New INC. Magazine Blog Post by Howard Tullman

It a Great Time to Start a Business -- In an Office
Costs are lower and opportunities greater. But you can't build a culture WFH.

Whether you're doing it by chance, happenstance or choice, now seems like an interesting and attractive time to start a new business. Many of the best tech businesses around today were started in tough and lean times, rather than in the rosy and flush days of the recent past. And, unless you're thinking about competing with the FAANG Five (or Microsoft), the barriers to entry into thousands of different markets for products and services have never been lower. 

 As for the prospects for success, that's a different question. The answer there is very much dependent on what talents and skills you have (or can hire) and what you're willing to commit in blood, sweat and tears to the effort.  But, make no mistake, it's never been cheaper or easier to try. Infrastructure is inexpensive and readily available. The cloud (AWS and Azure in particular) has made it possible to build your new business almost "by the bit" - renting virtually everything and bootstrapping your operation until it begins to scale.

 Importantly, significant early stage capital is almost irrelevant in this new world, where code and quickness are king. The old VC gatekeepers who controlled the dollars you previously needed to launch so many ventures, and their often foolish and insurmountable requirements and obstacles, no longer matter in the early startup stages. 

 In fact, raising too much money too soon at too modest a valuation can mortgage your own financial future and cap your upside in very painful ways. Substantial war chests are certainly nice to have, but the VC-skewed distribution waterfalls usually accompanying them - and which most entrepreneurs neither pay attention to nor frankly understand - are an expensive curse that keeps on taking for years to come. Distribution waterfalls often come as a complete surprise to the management team when payday finally arrives. So, in a sense, money's really no object at the outset. 

 As far as facilities and real estate go, the WFH (working from home) story is also pretty attractive. While it's difficult to see how Covid-19 virus did anyone any real favors - other than maybe helping us get rid of the worst President in history - the pandemic certainly accelerated the waves of digital transformation in major parts of our lives.  But it has legitimized and basically mandated levels of remote workforces which, while never really super successful in past experiments, are now absolutely an acceptable and long-term part of every business's strategy and future. WFH is here to stay. Having a largely virtual workforce and thereby eliminating the major fixed and relatively expensive costs of maintaining sizable physical offices looks like and, in fact, is a godsend to many established businesses. 

 But here's where things can get tricky: Working from home simply doesn't work if you're a startup. It's a seductive idea - and clearly a time and money saver. And also, the best and quickest way to kill your new enterprise. Every startup's success ultimately depends in large part on the entrepreneur's ability to attract and bring together diverse and talented people and to weave them into an effective and viable unit bound by a single compelling vision and a complementary culture which supports and powers the vision. You just can't get close at a distance.

 For a startup, as important as clever code and quickness clearly are, nothing is more important than effective interpersonal communication. And the culture of the company is the most essential thing to communicate. We communicate culture through stories, through confrontations and commentary, through rituals that help us translate and transmit otherwise awkward or uncomfortable emotions, and through the development of close individual relationships over time and through repeatedly shared experiences. Every successful startup has its history, war stories, and near-death experiences, which everyone is happy to share. These anecdotes bind the business together.

 The best startups develop a compelling culture with a single, and most critical, component: a powerful and contagious work ethic that infects (in a good way) not only the existing team, but every newbie who enters the environment as well. Consistently and continuously communicating the company's culture is the most important job of the founders and it's a non-stop and full-time job especially in the first few years. 

 It's really all about authentic passion.  Something that's missing in boring, painful and sterile Zoom calls, where you lose every drop of emotion and attachment in the process. Zoom fatigue is real and it's not just a matter of tired eyes and sore butts. We all sense that there's no real communication or connection between the participants, which is what is draining all the interest and energy away. You simply can't phone it in, no matter how good the technology. The best new companies make many things, but the most important product is a palpable and enthusiastic excitement that powers the team. That excitement, driven by tension, desire and fear, spurs performance and innovation.  

 Anyone who's ever been there and built an exciting business from scratch will tell you the same things: (1) there's an electricity to a winning startup that you sense the minute you step in the door. You can smell success; (2) there's a tension in the air that's driven by physical proximity, which can't be replicated elsewhere and that's shared by everyone in the company; and (3) there's an immediacy and serendipity enabled by unplanned and unstructured collisions of people and thoughts that generates the best ideas and solutions. 

 None of this energy and passion is present or even possible to communicate in any kind of effective manner in a multi-person, remote video conference. Zoom conferences simply suck all the life, all the juice, and, most importantly, all the spontaneity and give-and-take out of any call, conference, presentation, or webinar. There's no cure now or on the horizon for this sense-dulling, painful and dehumanizing technology because there's no way to replace, replicate or restore the emotional resonance that face-to-face communication creates and sustains. To be fair, it's not Zoom's fault. There's no substitute for being there and there never will be. 

 But it will be your fault, as the founder/CEO, if you're foolish enough to think that you can save money on an office/team space and still get your messages through and build the company's culture remotely or occasionally or with gig workers. It just doesn't work. When you're starting a new venture, everyone in the place needs to be in place. They're looking for immediate leadership and guidance, they need to see the vision being built out, to learn the path forward, and to see how you'll get them to the finish line. It's just not something you can schedule a few times a week or structure in advance. 

 The opportunity, the technology, the competition, and the customers' expectations and demands are all moving too quickly these days to have serious latency in your ability to react and respond in real-time. The world won't wait for Wednesday's call.  And, by the way, just because your coders and other techies have to commit their new code on a regular basis, and have it peer reviewed, doesn't mean that they get to operate in their own little vacuum either. Culture is a two-way street - output without input and direction is an easy way to lose your way. 

The early-stage risks to a new business by a failed or piecemeal attempt to infuse and embed a concrete culture are existential. It's great to have a clear view and an aspiration about your culture, but these things don't get built by themselves. If you get the culture wrong at the outset, you don't get a second chance. Culture isn't part of the game - it is the whole game. 

Work from home may be great for other folks, but it won't work for you.

Sunday, August 02, 2020


The Tanned Man Has a Green Monster

The Tanned Man Has a Green Monster
Dr. Fauci is now in danger of being lumped into Trump’s envelope of envy, the same place in which he has placed Barack Obama.

Opinion Columnist
·         July 29, 2020

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist and a leading voice in our battle against Covid-19, has gotten under Donald Trump’s skin.

He won’t lie to make Trump look better or cover for the lies Trump tells. He won’t paint a rosy portrait of our prospects during the pandemic or offer excuses for the Trump administration’s failed response and all the thousands of lives needlessly lost.

Fauci insists on following the science and telling the truth about it, and that means that the American people trust and respect him for it.

But, this — being more popular and well-regarded than Trump — is heresy in this White House. There is but one king in that palace and all his dogs wear his collars. In that conception, Fauci is off the leash.

Trump is a man ruled by jealousies and insecurities. In his mind he is the greater, the best, the supreme, even when he obviously is not. All of which presents him with an ever recurring quandary: How precisely is it that a lying, lecherous, anti-intellectual grifter doesn’t enjoy the same high standing as the honorable and the honest, the well-read and well-behaved?

Tuesday, Trump bemoaned aloud the fact that Fauci enjoys a higher public approval rating than his own, even though as Trump put it: “He’s working for this administration. He’s working with us, John. We could have gotten other people. We could have gotten somebody else. It didn’t have to be Dr. Fauci.”

So, if Trump isn’t high enough to stand shoulder to shoulder, he’ll do his best to cut you off at the knees.

The Trump administration has tried to undermine Fauci and has even attacked him. Trump himself has openly undercut Fauci and questioned his judgment.

Trump’s jealousies are so petty that when Fauci threw out the first pitch at Major League Baseball’s opening day at Nationals Park, Trump lied and said that he had been invited to throw out the first pitch at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 15. As this newspaper reported:

“There was one problem: Mr. Trump had not actually been invited on that day by the Yankees, according to one person with knowledge of Mr. Trump’s schedule. His announcement surprised both Yankees officials and the White House staff.”

Fauci is now in danger of being lumped into Trump’s envelope of envy, the same place in which Trump has placed Barack Obama, a space in which you must endure Trump’s endless attacks because you are something that he could never be: an accomplished person who is also decent.

Obama attended Occidental College, Columbia and Harvard. Trump in one breath cast doubt that Obama actually attended those schools, saying, “The people that went to school with him, they never saw him, they don’t know who he is,” and also suggesting that Obama wasn’t smart enough to go to those schools, saying: “I heard he was a terrible student, terrible. How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard?”

Apparently Mary Trump, the president’s niece, may know the answer to a similar question. Trump has touted his attendance of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School as “super genius stuff,” but not only did the admission officer who interviewed Trump tell The Washington Post: “I certainly was not struck by any sense that I’m sitting before a genius. 

Certainly not a super genius.” But also, Mary Trump writes in her recently published book:
“Donald worried that his grade point average, which put him far from the top of his class, would scuttle his efforts to get accepted. To hedge his bets he enlisted Joe Shapiro, a smart kid with a reputation for being a good test taker, to take his SATs for him.”

There is no way to independently verify the claim, but it would most certainly jibe with Trump’s lifelong record of fraudulence and fakery.

By the way, in 2017 The Daily Pennsylvanian published an article entitled “Many of Trump’s Wharton classmates don’t remember him,” that included this passage:

“Out of the 269 people The Daily Pennsylvanian contacted while researching this story, 74 of Trump’s classmates responded. Sixty-eight of those alumni said they had never encountered Trump at Penn. Four shared classes with him and two declined to comment.”

As is usual from the king of projection: That for which he condemns another is often an indictment of self.

Trump, who falsely claimed to have written his book “The Art of the Deal,” (it was actually ghostwritten by Tony Schwartz), has accused Obama of having his book “Dreams of My Father” ghostwritten by Obama’s friend Bill Ayers, a white man. As Trump put it:

“Bill Ayers was a super-genius. And a lot of people have said he wrote the book. Well recently, as you know last week, Bill Ayers came out and said he did write the book. Barack Obama wouldn’t be president — and, you know, I wrote many best-sellers, and also, No. 1 best-sellers, including ‘The Art of the Deal.’ So I know something about writing. And I want to tell you, the guy that wrote the first book didn’t write the second book.”

Obama received a Nobel Peace Prize; Trump desperately wanted the same recognition and claims that the only reason he hasn’t gotten it is that the awarding system is rigged against him.

Trump’s jealousy of Obama is now legendary. Trump’s entire presidency is a stand against Obama’s legacy, to knock it down, to erase it.

And when the history is written about America’s response to the pandemic, the story will have two leading men, Fauci and Trump, one in the right and one in the wrong, one working to save lives and one needlessly costing them.

Fauci will be the hero and Trump the villain. This is a Trump nightmare, a logical impossibility. He simply can’t see it this way because as writer Christopher Vogler once wrote, “a villain is the hero of his own myth.”

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