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The Optics Of Day After? Right Out Of A Bizzaro World

by John Jazwiec

While Trump's presidency has seemed like a reality show, yesterday it felt like it went much further.

Like some kind of Bizzaro World.

Forgetting about the bombshells, that may have lead to Comey's firing and how screwed up/misdirected the communication was, the optics were insane. 

First Trump sits down with a 93-year old Henry Kissinger. Was Nixon's NSC and Secretary of State - known iconically for kneeling in prayer with a tearful Nixon right before Nixon resigned - a coincidence or Trump trolling his detractors?

Then Trump brings in Russia's Foreign Minister (who hadn't been invited to the White House since 2013), Russia's US Ambassador (the guy at the center of the storm with Flynn) and a Russian - with no security clearance - who takes pictures in the Oval office where the US press wasn't invited.

Was Trump just gullible? How do we know the guy with no security clearance wasn't also bugging the oval office? Or was Trump again just trolling.

Finally, Putin weighs into all the Comey controversy - like some de facto head of the US - in a hockey jersey?

I am not in a position to defend nor indict Donald Trump. I will leave that to the checks and balances of the US Constitution. But I am questioning the impact of the eroding credibility of Trump. And yesterday didn't help.

Comey's Firing - Hypocrisy, Insecurity And/Or Something Larger

by John Jazwiec

One of Trump's gifts is that his hyperbole and bizarre tweets/comments come so fast and furious that I and most people can keep up with them.

HRC, her supporters and some Democrats, who were furious over Comey's election decision making, are now calling out the Trump administration for his firing. That's just hypocrisy. 

Trump at best, showed his tendency towards extreme insecurity by firing Comey. It came a day after Yates made Trump look bad. And putting "While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation" showed an insecurity with a non sequitur argument that had nothing to do with the intent of the letter. 

While I don't accept the argument that firing Comey was akin to Nixon's Saturday Night Massacre nor the logic given his false testimony regarding the Clinton emails, I do see an accumulation of actions that optically question whether Trump is hiding something.

Said accumulation has to include the firing the respected NY District Attorney who was in a position to investigate Trump in his business venue. The 18 day delay in firing Flynn, from being told of by Yates twice after his inauguration. Comey being fired right after he requested more resources to investigate Russian collusion. Session's requirement to recuse himself in the investigation, while his new deputy - two weeks into the job - but still allowing said new deputy to opine that Comey should be fired and was fired the same day. 

At the very least, Trump - who is being sued for violations of the Emoluments Clause - has unknown business ties to Russia. He denies it. But his son has already said that not only do they do "a lot of business in Russia", but has reportedly said "We don't rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia."

It is not illegal to do business with Russia. What is illegal is Trump denying it. That could be relevant to collusion with Russia or have nothing to do with it. Again it's at least an optical problem.

Nixon's fall was not so much the Watergate break in, but the coverup. Subpoenas - like the ones issued against Flynn - lead to lower people being flipped. 

The problem in all this, is not as much a constitutional crisis, as it is a presidential/public leadership crisis. When will the public completely distrust the Trump administration? When will members of the GOP, in the House and the Senate, reach a tipping point where they start looking out for themselves and turn on a life-long Democrat who hijacked their party?

I don't know if it is within Trump's temperament or the constraints of his legal liability, to just come out and tell the truth and stop the slow dripping/draining of his presidency. Nixon knew and latter said that's what he should have done. 

But if Trump doesn't stop the theatrical optics now, he is almost certain to lose the faith of his party and the country at the very least. Or face a possible impeachment/resignation.

It is important to remember that it took almost two years for Watergate to bring Nixon down. So unless Trump stops all of this with transparency and truth, there is going to be a lot more chapters to be written about Trump's presidency or lack there of. 

Vive La France

by John Jazwiec

Vive La France.

The nation of France voted against dangerous populism overwhelming on Sunday. Western values/Obama bested Russia/Trump by 65% to 35%. 

I believe the thumping was due to two large factors. One that should send a message to Trump and the other due to location.

France - although derided by Americans for their national native blood pride - nonetheless showed that the country is far more tolerant to immigration in the face of terrorism.

France saw what was happening in America. If it could happen here, the French knew that their perilous Republic, was far more at risk than an America with checks and balances. The sent a clear message to Russia and Trump.

They also are quantumly closer to the ongoing Russian asymmetrical campaign of Russian influence/takeover. 

Thus the center held.

Never have I been more proud of my French ancestry.  

Vive La France!

The Politics Of TrumpCare And George Will

by John Jazwiec

The Politics Of TrumpCare

The House passed TrumpCare yesterday. It isn't going to become law, so everyone needs to chill. But I think I can explain the politics behind this uphill vote yesterday.

The GOP House spent 7 years blasting ObamaCare. They were the dog that chased the car and finally caught it. Given the past promises to repeal ObamaCare and the balkanization of the House GOP, the GOP House had no choice but to pass "a" bill. 

Then they skillfully played upon Trump's fears and anxieties to make it "his" bill at the White House.

The Senate isn't going to pass anything like it. They are not going to use the nuclear option (50 votes). Why? Because the House bill would be a GOP disaster. Regardless of any ideological argument, the optics of worse health care coverage for 25 million Americans and a tax roll back for the rich would kill the GOP brand. They have to protect their jobs and they have to rescue the House GOP back from the brink of disaster. 

The Democrats are fooling themselves - with gerrymandering - that this vote will translate into control of the House in 2018. Why? Because ObamaCare or whatever it is called, under the Senate, will not resemble TrumpCare. And Trump may not sign a water-downed version of the House plan.

There were no winners yesterday. But the only person who lost yesterday, was a gullible Trump. Expect this image to become iconic. A bunch of old white guys surrounding a billionaire. With the billionaire front and center, essentially owning the optics.

Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 7.31.32 AM


George Will's Column

George Will, who is perhaps the most respected conservative journalist in the country, wrote a column that encompassed what a lot of Americans have been thinking over the last 100+ days.

Will did it with a literal version of a sniper. 

It is urgent for Americans to think and speak clearly about President Trump’s inability to do either. This seems to be not a mere disinclination but a disability. It is not merely the result of intellectual sloth but of an untrained mind bereft of information and married to stratospheric self-confidence.

In February, acknowledging Black History Month, Trump said that “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more, I notice.” Because Trump is syntactically challenged, it was possible and tempting to see this not as a historical howler about a man who died 122 years ago, but as just another of Trump’s verbal fender benders, this one involving verb tenses.

Now, however, he has instructed us that Andrew Jackson was angry about the Civil War that began 16 years after Jackson’s death. Having, let us fancifully imagine, considered and found unconvincing William Seward’s 1858 judgment that the approaching Civil War was “an irrepressible conflict,” Trump says:

“People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?”

Library shelves groan beneath the weight of books asking questions about that war’s origins, so who, one wonders, are these “people” who don’t ask the questions that Trump evidently thinks have occurred to him uniquely? Presumably they are not the astute “lot of,” or at least “some,” people Trump referred to when speaking about his February address to a joint session of Congress: “A lot of people have said that, some people said it was the single best speech ever made in that chamber.” Which demotes Winston Churchill, among many others.

What is most alarming (and mortifying to the University of Pennsylvania, from which he graduated) is not that Trump has entered his eighth decade unscathed by even elementary knowledge about the nation’s history. As this column has said before, the problem isn’t that he does not know this or that, or that he does not know that he does not know this or that. Rather, the dangerous thing is that he does not know what it is to know something.

The United States is rightly worried that a strange and callow leader controls North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. North Korea should reciprocate this worry. Yes, a 70-year-old can be callow if he speaks as sophomorically as Trump did when explaining his solution to Middle Eastern terrorism: “I would bomb the s--- out of them. . . . I’d blow up the pipes, I’d blow up the refineries, I’d blow up every single inch, there would be nothing left.”

As a candidate, Trump did not know what the nuclear triad is. Asked about it, he said: “We have to be extremely vigilant and extremely careful when it comes to nuclear. Nuclear changes the whole ballgame.” Invited to elaborate, he said: “I think — I think, for me, nuclear is just the power, the devastation is very important to me.” Someone Trump deemed fit to be a spokesman for him appeared on television to put a tasty dressing on her employer’s word salad: “What good does it do to have a good nuclear triad if you’re afraid to use it?” To which a retired Army colonel appearing on the same program replied with amazed asperity: “The point of the nuclear triad is to be afraid to use the damn thing.”

As president-elect, Trump did not know the pedigree and importance of the one-China policy. About such things he can be, if he is willing to be, tutored. It is, however, too late to rectify this defect: He lacks what T.S. Eliot called a sense “not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence.” His fathomless lack of interest in America’s path to the present and his limitless gullibility leave him susceptible to being blown about by gusts of factoids that cling like lint to a disorderly mind.

Americans have placed vast military power at the discretion of this mind, a presidential discretion that is largely immune to restraint by the Madisonian system of institutional checks and balances. So, it is up to the public to quarantine this presidency by insistently communicating to its elected representatives a steady, rational fear of this man whose combination of impulsivity and credulity render him uniquely unfit to take the nation into a military conflict.

I Told You Trump Is A Terrible Negotiator

by John Jazwiec

Is Trump really the great negotiator (I know people who have negotiated with him and they say he has attention deficit challenges, knows little to nothing beyond real estate and quickly backs down if you push back)? January 17, 2017


A spending agreement was reached last night that will keep the government funded through the end of September. The Democrats are celebrating. The GOP is silent.

The following is what the Democrats - in the minority - got from Trump (who I said before he was inaugurated had a history of being a poor negotiator from personal contacts)

  1. Trump is restricted from starting to build a wall. He can't even put one pole in the ground.
  2. Draining the swamp? Non-defense spending is going up, not down.
  3. Trump's attack on science? He was supposed to gut federally funded cancer research. Instead the cancer research added $2 billion to its budget.
  4. Gut the EPA? The EPA will have no staff cuts.
  5. Winning over Midwest working class Catholics? Planned parenthood is fully funded and still intact.
  6. Cutting ObamaCare subsidies. Didn't happen.

Maybe Trump should stick being an historian of the Civil War. 

“I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little later, you wouldn’t have had the Civil War. He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart. He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War, he said, ‘There’s no reason for this.’ People don’t realize, you know, the Civil War, if you think about it, why? People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?”

Besides Andrew Jackson having died a decade and a half before the Civil War, Jackson taking out an ad for a $50 for a runaway slave to be returned with an extra $10 for 100 lashes up to $300, and the issue of slavery .. I guess Trump is saying ... something. What? Slavery should have been maintained and/or is Trump a pacifist too?

Liberals - Stop Marching

by John Jazwiec

Liberals. The Freedom Caucus. Trumpkins. I don't respect all three.

Maybe that's because I am a social libertarian that skews to the right of center on fiscal policy - assuming there is a level playing field to formal and self-taught education - who views American Capitalism as intrinsically fair and drawnistic.

I don't respect Trumpkins (although I deeply sympathize with them) because, instead of retraining - the funds were there under Obama - they didn't do anything but wish upon a deeply flawed, too-impossible "star" to save them. And they never bothered to analyse the costs and viability of what Trump promised. Promises that never had a path to fruition through Congress. 

I don't respect the Freedom Caucus. While I am right of center on fiscal policy, I do understand the destabilizing economic forces of 21st Century macroeconomics. If a national government can't provide basic social nets - than exactly what is the government in place for?

And I don't respect liberals. They march. But they don't vote. Exactly how do they think all of these marches are going to change Trump? Instead of marching, they should spend their time organizing get out the vote campaigns for 2018/2020.

Liberals are naive and are just as rigid in their ideology as the Freedom Caucus. They are in a idealistic tizzy about Obama getting $400,000 for a speech to Wall Street and $60 million in book deals. 

From where I sit, Barack Obama gave up his highest earning years for public service instead of monetizing his Harvard Law Degree and being President of the Harvard Law Review. Obama doesn't need a ghostwriter. He has written two bestselling books on his own. Obama doesn't need to learn how to entertain an audience to give speeches. He is a born orator who was probably the best presidential comedian in history.

And Wall Street? Exactly how do liberals think Obama got to be president in the first place? You don't get Dodd-Frank and consumer protection without being pragmatic enough to cultivate relationships with Wall Street to get elected twice. 

Finally, liberals and anti-Trumpkins, need to be patient with Trump. Assuming he isn't impeached or quits because the job is too hard, his favorability cap remains no more than 40%. He didn't attend the annual White House Correspondent Dinner because he despises the fake media. Instead he delivered a speech to Trumpkins that was divisive enough as to maintain his base at all costs, while alienating the remaining 60%.

Mobilizing the other 60% to vote against Trump is the only answer. And liberals need to understand that the right candidate can't be their version of idealism but must be closer to the center.

Headlines I Skipped 04.25.17

by John Jazwiec

Obama Returns - And Avoids Talking About Trump

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Skipped it. I'm sure Obama didn't talk like Trump. He probably spoke in a logical and calm matter using nouns and verbs. Doubtful he used exclamation points and mispronounced names. Ditto on his crowd's size and lack of sounding like a pugilist. That's probably means Obama said more about Trump then he meant. 


Trump Seeks 15% Corporate Tax Rate Even If It Swells National Debt

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Skipped it. Lowering corporate tax rates only helps the price of stocks. Mr. Populist? Where is the stuff for your voters? Billionaire cabinet? Taking away H/C for millions? Tax relief for middle class working folk? A Wall? Kudos Donald. You are a world-calls huckster and you fooled your base. They haven't turned on you yet because of confirmation bias. But confirmation bias doesn't last long, when someone's life and family are worse off than they were before. 


Trump Imposes 20% Tariff On Canadian Lumber

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Skipped it. What's next? A tariff on the NHL and the Toronto Blue Jays? Donald we get it. You don't want anyone coming to this country. You don't want any foreign trade. Well ... except when your company does it. Really? Messing with Canada? That like messing with Hawaii. There is a joke in there. Feel free to explain it to Trump. 


Trump Brags About Getting Better Ratings Than 9/11

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Skipped it. Does the star of Celebrity Apprentice.think he just replaced Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show. And how can someone be so tone deaf to a national tragedy for their own personal insecurity? Seriously, the mainstream has done a pretty good job of holding Trump accountable. Why? They understand sanity is a rare commodity. And that brings higher earnings. What they won't say, is that Trump is out of his mind, over his head and becoming a national and world joke. That would eventually end the gravy train they are riding on now.

Will the French Election Destroy The Post World War II Order?

by John Jazwiec

Trump isn't helping the post-World War II order by supporting Le Pen (who wants to get out of the EU and become closer to Russia). Trump isn't helping the post-World II order by legitimizing Turkey's dictatorship.

While things look better after the first French presidential election, a Le Pen victory in a run-off in May would destroy the post-World War II order. 

With Brexit and a Le Pen victory the only thing holding up a return to a balkanized Europe - which was its state before World War I and II - is Germany. Merkel is up for reelection. I am not sure Germany could keep the EU if Le Pen is elected. But I am sure, that if Merkel were to lose in Germany, Europe will return to different countries with different agendas.

England would become an island of anti-Russian Western support. France would go in the opposite direction. And a pro-Russia Germany or anything between would leave Europe destabilized.

If all of this goes in this direction - with an American president applauding - Russia, who financially supported Brexit, and who is financially supporting Le Pen and anti-Merkel candidates - will have effectively destroyed the post-World War II order.

What Putin wants is probably not France and Germany. But what he does want is Ukraine, the Baltics and maybe Eastern Europe. Who is going to stop him?

At the very least, McMaster and Mattis, have to stop Trump from supporting these separatist and dictatorial moves in Europe. And Congress and the FBI need to ferret out whether Trump is simply unhinged - not listening to their advice - or has more nefarious reasons for his behavior. 

The American people and Europe have a right to understand.

PBS's "The Great War" Shines A Light On The Depressing Real Great War

by John Jazwiec

So it's Saturday. What does someone like me do on a Saturday. Well, I first get up at 6AM - instead of 4AM - and I work until noon. Then I have a running tickler list of shows, books, movies and/or history specials. 

I have long stopped watching anything live on television. But I had read that PBS was running a 6-hour special on World War I: "The Great War". I have personally read most of the seminal books of this World War, that curiously most American know anything about. I hoped that I could recommend it to others - like my children - to understand the geopolitics that started the war and ended the war. 

After six hours of watching, I can say that PBS's "The Great War" has little to nothing to teach the viewer about the big picture of World War I. Where it succeeds though - depressingly so - is shining a light on the real great war of the United States: ethnic/racial discrimination and tension.

I am half German. But I am not going to get into the plight of German-American internment and suspicion during World War I. Why? Because it was brief and it has had little to do with the main American racial war story from the American Revolution to today. 

Maybe you are a racist. Maybe you are not. You may either not care about this "great racial war" or have never paid attention to it.

But I think it is important to see how hard African Americans have tried to prove themselves, to be "true Americans", throughout history and especially wars, only to be let down in the end. 

  1. George Washington and the Revolution stir free African Americans by the words of the new constitution. Crispus Attucks - an African American - is the first American killed by the British. An estimated 5,000 Northern State African American soldiers fight against the British under Washington, while the South refuses to free their slaves to fight. Northern African Americans remain "free" after the war, but with little to no franchisement and increasingly are attacked by new European immigrants - due to labor competition - as the Civil War grows closer. Of course Southern African Americans remain slaves. 
  2. Northern African Americans make up 10% of the Northern army during the Civil War. They fight for liberty. The fight for equality. They fight for the freedom of others in the South. And they fight for enfranchisement. Sans a short period of liberty with constitutional change and Republican presidents - namely Grant, who was as much of an emancipator in practice as Lincoln was in theory - Southern African Americans have no rights, can't vote, have no lynching protection, are segregated and live no better lives than they had under slavery. Northern African Americans face greater and greater tension as the waves of European immigrants accelerate to Northern cities.
  3. 350,000 African Americans volunteered to fight in World War I. While whites were subject to a draft, African Americans either had to volunteer or raise their own money to join. Like the revolution, African Americans are stirred by the US reasoning for the war: "World-Wide Democracy". Most notable was the the 369th Infantry Regiment who were the first regiment to fight in the war. Supreme US General Pershing gave the regiment to French military control. That was notable because that was the only US unified command exception. The 369th were on the front lines for six months, longer than any other American unit in the war. 171 members of the 369th were awarded the Legion of Merit (the highest honor in France). Nonetheless, after the war, African Americans were hunted down in the South and killed, because Southerners were afraid these brave Americans now posed a threat. Race riots break out in Northern cities. The KKK takes its 20th century shape. African Americans return back to zero.
  4. African Americans fight again during World War II. Truman integrates the military. But African Americans return back to the US, with the same level of disappointment and treatment as they had after the first World War.
  5. African Americans after World War II, go on to become increasingly used as military fodder. LBJ accomplishes real civil rights reform. But it is hard to separate the idealistic LBJ (putting JFK's programs into law) from the practical LBJ (he had to fight an unpopular Vietnam War). The poor will gone on to fight in Vietnam and all subsequent wars. African Americans make up a disproportionate share of the poor.

Everything in the "great race war" seems to be one step forward and almost one step back. 

I think of milestones - often depicted in cinema - that uplift the mind and lead to tears, but don't seem to be anything but one-offs. 

Jackie Robinson. College educated and the first African American in baseball. Baseball becomes integrated. Racists think nothing of cheering on African Americans in sports today, as if they see black athletes in the abstract. At the same time, outside the world of sports, they want nothing to do with the race except to harm them.

The same can be said about African American entertainers. Even racists will watch integration movies like "Remember The Titans" with Denzel Washington, "Radio" with Cuba Gooding Jr. and "Something The Lord Made" with Mos Def, and it doesn't carry beyond the two hours of viewing. 

As I have said before, I am an admitted stupid-bigot. If I had my way, I wouldn't let any stupid person vote. And no stupid kid has ever been allowed in my house. But I just don't get racial bigotry. When I say I don't get it, I am not saying it like I really have a theory. I really don't understand it at all. It perplexes me and frustrates me. I look for the good and bad in people and race never enters my mind. 

Then came the election of Barack Obama. I thought we had reached the MLK post-racial milestone. But the Obama elections released a white racist backlash in the worst form: the election of Trump with the help of white nationalism. 

Having said all that, I can't deny that African Americans have made relative progress despite the circumstances. Maybe it has been better than one foot forward and almost one foot back. Perhaps it has been one foot forward with a half step back.

But this point is undeniable. A great "racial war" has been fought in America for 250 years. It is still being fought today. The US as the model of liberty? Sorry, that doesn't pass the snicker test. Things are getting worse, not better. People don't want to travel to the US anymore. Certainly they don't want to immigrate here any more. And the irony is that African Americans have the right/penalty of staying, in what is now a xenophobic nation within an increasingly xenophobic world. 

Next Post: Will the French Election Destroy The Post World War II Order?

The Why Of Congratulating Turkey's Erdogan And The Trail Of Conflicts Of Interest

by John Jazwiec

Trump took time to congratulate Turkey's Erdogan on his contested referendum to give Erdogan almost dictatorial powers. Congress and the rest of the administration voiced negative statements about Erdogan. Not Trump. Is that because he likes dictators? Only marginally true. Candidate Trump admitted “I have a little conflict of interest because I have a major, major building in Istanbul.” Why marginally true? Because it is easier to do business with dictators. 

Speaking of autocratic regimes, somehow Trump was granted rare Chinese trademarks in January. Also his daughter got trademarks approved the day Trump and the leader of China met. Both are contrary to the constitutional emoluments clause (Article I, Section 9, Clause 8) which prohibit elected officials from taking gifts from foreign governments.

Trump will be meeting with Argentina's president next week. Argentina's president is Mauricio Macri, the son of a wealthy real estate developer, who has known Trump for more than three decades. He and his father sold Trump real estate in Manhattan in the 1980s.

We still don't know what Trump's relationship with Russia is.

Sans that question, Trump may have made a fatal mistake in not putting his business in a trust. Whether warranted or not - Trump who does business around the globe - is and will continue to be subject to conflicts of interest charges when he works with other countries in two ways.

By conflict of interest changes from the press which are unneeded distraction for an administration that continues to be beset by drama, infighting, a lack of progress in its 100 days, and historical low poll numbers for a new president (Obama polled an approval rating of 61% at this time of his presidency and Bush 43 was over 50%) of 40%. 

And by conflict of interest charges by the people and eventually its elected officials, which will be less distractive and more like posing an existential threat to the presidency. 

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From athletic scholar and satirist to computer programmer to CEO success, John Jazwiec brings a unique and often eccentric perspective to business and supply chain challenges. Exploring how they can be solved through the leadership and communication insights found in untraditional sources. This CEO blog demonstrates how business insights from books on history to the music of Linkin Park can help challenge and redefine “successful leadership.” Read Jazwiec’s Profile >>

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