Monday, March 27, 2017

Is Trump a GOOD Leader?

What makes a good “leader”?  It’s a simple question, but can it be answered simply?

A good leader leads well.  Okay, but that’s not saying much.  We might then ask, what does it mean to lead well?

So, I offer a few sound principles around good leadership that might help us get a handle on what makes a good leader.

One: leaders are responsible for the people they lead.  For example, they are responsible for the direction they are taking their followers, those being led.  In other words a good leader leads in such a way that the wellbeing of his/her followers is a priority.  Thus, a good leader is selfless: more concerned about the people and their needs than his/her own self interests.  A good leader takes into account the overall welfare, health and safety and prosperity of the people—so that all that are affected by his/her leadership (or at least most) are able to thrive.

Two: a good leader is not only knowledgeable but wise and skillful in the application of that knowledge.  Knowledge is one thing, but the wise use and application of knowledge is another thing altogether.  Thus, a good leader is measured in his/her behavior and comments, and is insightful and discerning in his/her communication and understanding.  Hence, a good leader helps his/her followers see and understand more clearly the necessity of certain actions and choices over others.   Hence, a good leader not only inspires but also informs, instructs, and enlightens his/her followers.  People are not left in the dark; neither are they left confused or puzzled or bewildered by what is being said or done.  They are able to connect the dots and are able to see the wisdom of a leader’s actions and statements.

Three: a good leader is thus transparent, has integrity and is therefore trustworthy.  A good leader communicates well and hides nothing, especially of great import.  A good leader leaves no doubt and immediately clears up questionable action (or words).  A good leader most certainly says what he means and means what he says.  There is no double-speak.  There is consistency in both action/behavior as well as in word and speech.  And there is full ownership of contradictory words and actions with appropriate correction or re-alignment.  Hence, a good leader unites, rather than divides, and extends confident assurances rather than spreads anxiety.  Indeed, the words and actions of a good leader effectively results in peace and calmness within a people, rather than worrisome, troubling hearts and minds among the people.

These are just three good leadership traits.  There are certainly more.  I wonder, just using these three traits as a measure, how would you rate President Trump as a leader?

Monday, March 20, 2017

Trump Has No Evidence and Gives No Apology

To this day President Trump provides no real hard evidence that the previous president, Obama, “wiretapped” Trump at Trump Towers.

It would seem that Trump supporters believe Trump, taking him at his word, rather than accept the truth that it did not happen, given the lack of evidence after appropriate investigations have been made.

In short, President Trump is getting away with making unfounded serious and profound accusations against a previous president without political, social, or legal, consequence.

What’s next?  Who’s next?

When the president of the United States of America can get away with making a baseless and outrageous accusation of this kind against a former president, we are in big trouble.  Yet, few Republicans seem to own how serious this really is.  Yes, this is serious!!

What’s worse is that, through his spokesman, Sean Spicer, Trump has now accused one of our greatest allies to be in cahoots with Obama in this so-called wiretapping scheme that Obama supposedly perpetrated against Trump.  The scandal is getting worse, not better as time goes by!

This action cuts to the core as to what kind of man we presently have, holding the office of the presidency.  At first, Spicer said, “The Tweet speaks for itself,” and it does!  But then, Spicer/Trump saw the need to redefine and reinterpret what Trump really meant by his tweeted accusation.  So now we are to assume that, no, the tweet actually does NOT speak for itself—it now needs, as I Love Lucy’s Ricky Ricardo use to say, “some esplaining.”

I’m a pastor.  I know without a doubt that if I were to make a false accusation of this magnitude against another or former pastor I would be forthwith dismissed, let go!  I would be held accountable for my unsubstantiated accusation including my poor choice of words.  Minimally I’d most certainly be required to apologize, among other things.  No doubt I could also be sued for libel in a court of law.  Yet, here we are speaking of a man who holds the office of the President of the United States, and he’s getting away with it!!  Is President Donald Trump above the law?  NO, he is not!

And Trump hasn’t even completed his first 100 days in office yet!

Wake up people.  Trump is dangerous, very dangerous.  We’re heading for trouble.  If we don’t hold him accountable now, we will greatly regret it later.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Health Care and Caring for our Sick and Weak

Do we care?  How do we care, for the sick and the weak?

This is what our national health care system really touches upon.

Given our national attitude, it seems that we actually have little compassion and little care for the sick and weak among us—it’s more like “every man for himself.”

We know that the world can be harsh and unkind.  People get sick, there are unexpected accidents and unanticipated illnesses that hit many families.  That’s life.

So, the point is this: we are either in this together, as a national community, or we are not.  If not, it is the wealthy that will stay healthy.  And as to everyone else, it’s “Tough luck; that’s life!”

The greed of some resists the needs of the many.  We tend to reserve available health care resources for only those that can afford it.

We seem to prefer an imbalance, inequality when it comes to who receives and who does not receive adequate, even basic, health care services.

All do not care for the sick, the weak, or the old (and the very young), that is left only to the few.

Thus, not all life is equally valued (consider how we treat nature and its creatures).

Contrast this to a Shabbat Prayer:

“And then all that has divided us will merge

Then compassion will be wedded to power

And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind

And then both women and men will be gentle

And then both men and women will be strong

And then no person will be subject to another’s will

And then all will be rich and free and varied

And then greed of some will give way to the needs of many

Then all will share equally in the earth’s abundance

And then all will care for the sick and the weak and the old

And then all will nourish the young

And then all will cherish life’s creatures

And then all will live in harmony with each other and the environment

And then everywhere will be called Eden once again.”

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Trump Versus Transparency

To be transparent is to be completely open and honest.  It is a core characteristic of integrity, the assurance of trustworthiness.  It is being sound and true.

Technically speaking, something that is transparent is best viewed when light shines through it, as for example a slide film.

And so, a transparent person is one who has nothing to hide and therefore has no fear of exposure.

Thus, by definition, a transparent person has no need to hide behind impenetrable walls of secrecy; no need to hide behind dark shadows of mystery and inscrutability.  That is, to be transparent is not only to have nothing to hide, it is the willingness to deliberately step into the light of examination in order to be validated as authentic.

Now, the truth is, human nature being what it is, we all want and need our privacy.  There is an old saying I’m sure you know: “everyone has a skeleton in the closet.”  In short, everyone has something to hide, something of which they might be guilty of, would be embarrassed by, or ashamed of, should it be exposed.  (In the Christian worldview it stems from our sinful nature.)

It is for this reason we humans have wisely learned to apply such principles—best summed up by such phrases as “being held accountable,” or “submitting to checks and balances,” or “the avoidance of conflict of interest,” or “reigning in the abuse of power,” or “trust but verify,” and so-on and so-forth—in the conduct of our social relationships.   That is to say: we humans cannot be inherently trusted without the application of an external means of verification and validation.  It’s just the way it is; the way we are.

No one likes to be taken as a fool, to be bamboozled, lied to, cheated, taken advantage of, short-changed, used and manipulated, left in the dark, seen as an easy take, or to be treated as just plain ole stupid and gullible.  This would be true not only in our personal and family relationships but in our social and political relationships as well.  All human relationships require a certain amount of trust; even a network of thieves working together need to trust each other.  This is why an independent means of validation and verification of one’s truthfulness and authenticity is often so important—as in “trust but verify!”

In comes Donald Trump.  He is the first president in modern history to consistently and deliberately and openly side-step and avoid independent scrutiny and verification.  He won’t reveal his tax statements.  He maintains ownership and therefore inherent conflict of interest in terms of his business engagements.  He stonewalls the media if they probe and examine or question his words and actions in light of conflicting facts and evidence to the contrary, and so-on and so-forth.

In short, Donald Trump is anything but transparent!

In crucial areas, areas of concern and of great consequence, Trump tends to hide under a cloak of darkness, behind shadows of mystery and inscrutability, skillfully and adroitly dodging the actual light of accountability in critical aspects of his presidency.

What is worrisome is that we, the American people, are letting him get away with it!

It will be to our detriment.

The longer we let him get away with this, the more troublesome and damaging will be the consequences to all Americans.

Mark my words!  There will be a day when we, all Americans, will greatly regret ever having elected him as president of the United States of America.  It is only a matter of time.  However long or however short that time may be in coming; that time will come.  For the light of truth always has a way of breaking through the darkness and becoming transparent.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Trump Complains about Media’s "Tone"

Did you hear Trump complain about the Media’s “tone”? 

Trump complained about the Media being mean and vicious toward him.  “I’m a nice guy,” he says.  Asking why they are so mean spirited toward him.

Wait!  This is the guy who regularly called Hilary, “Crooked Hilary.”  This is the guy who referred to the “so-called Judge” in reaction to the Judge who ruled against his ban against travelers from 7 selected Middle Eastern nations.  This is the same guy who viciously and publically attacks and questions the moral character or the believability or the intelligence and/or the integrity of anyone that opposes him or questions his own veracity.

If anyone has had demonstrative negative mean-spirited “tone” toward others in the public forum, it’s Donald Trump!

Trump has attitude.  And I do not mean this in a good way.  As I see him, he is like a spoiled child who, when things do not go his way, he throws a fit.  He whines and pouts and throws temper tantrums—in an adult way, of course.  He goes on the attack, belittling and blaming his adversaries and detractors, basically saying that all the bad things that are happening around him are either outright lies or have nothing to do with him and everything to do with his critics and opponents.  Yet, he speaks of the ill-tone from the Media, asserting that he’s Mr. Nice Guy. 

Have you heard of the Psychological term, “projection”?  “Projection” is when a person accuses others of having the very tendencies or behavior or attitude or feelings that the person him/herself actually has deep within him or herself—though unacknowledged or disowned.  That is, the subject tends to displace negative thoughts (or feelings, actions, and attitudes) onto others, externalizing on to others what is really going on within one’s own inner self.

So, for example, a common form of projection is when someone (like Trump) accuses others of having very angry feelings toward him, when in fact the hostility and anger is originating from within the subject (Trump) himself.

Thus, Trump accuses the Media of exuding hateful and hurtful, mean-spirited “tone” toward him.  But in actuality, it is Trump himself who seems to have initially harbored hateful, mean-spirited, and hostile “tone” toward others—against the Media, against the Judiciary, against Congressional Reps, against the Intelligence Agency, and so-on and so forth.

Hence, Trump is an expert in playing the blame game, painting himself as the innocent victim while pointing to his detractors as perpetrators of evil against him, as people who are intent at taking him down: “It’s not me; it’s them!”  “I’m the good guy here; they’re the bad guys.”  “I’m innocent, they are the guilty ones.”  “I love everyone; why they hate me so much, I don’t know!” and so-on and so-forth.

What’s so sad about all this is that Trump-supporters really do believe that he is the innocent victim here (in his opposition to the Media, for example).  They don’t see him as he really is.  Like Trump, they are ready and willing to denounce others in the name of truth and integrity or justice and fair play, regardless of actual facts as presented by real and concrete evidence that contradict Trump’s assertions.  Trump is being given great latitude and freedom to make striking falsehoods, while everyone else is held to exact account for the slightest error in statement or reporting.  It is a case of willful blindness in behalf of Trump.

It is in fact the greatest weakness of a democracy—the blindness and gullibility of the masses that are willing to be led by a demagogue who promises to deliver peace and prosperity for all rightful citizens, which, in the long run, usually results in great loss with much agony for all.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Pervasiveness of Trump Politics: All This or All That

Donald Trump’s administration is giving the news media a lot to talk about.

Perhaps that’s an understatement.

But what is amazing to me is how far the leading party members will go to defend their party leaders—for example, the tenacious way they choose to avoid the hard questions put to them by news reporters, regarding the many questionable dynamics going on in the present administration (such as misspoken confusing or contradictory words & messages to actual questionable behavior by cabinet members).  Instead of answering hard questions, I watch them pivoting and redirecting rather than owning and responding to all that is going on in this administration.

I’ve always heard that “politics is dirty.”  I’ve heard that sentiment since I was a child.  Yet, I’ve always resisted accepting this sentiment at face value, believing that it doesn’t have to be that way.  I find myself not able to resist anymore.

I now feel that I must agree: Yes, politics is dirty.  (“Dirty”: dishonest and conniving, lacking in integrity, manipulative, twisted and perverse and abusive in its exercise of power and authority, self-serving, and so on.)

All I see in today’s political arena is this:

One must see one’s own favored party, along with its leaders, as always in the right; that is, it (the party) and they (party leaders) can do no wrong.  They have the purest of motives, are altruistic at heart, and basically all around wonderful honest and trustworthy people.  Hence, one’s own party’s leaders should exercise all their power and authority to assert (dictate) the party’s preferences, values, and agenda, irrespective of the opposing party.

And, if mistakes are made by one’s favored party leaders (from the President on down), one must see it as the result of innocent shortcomings fraught with good intentions and therefore conclude that they are nevertheless above reproach.  Thus, their response, when party leaders are asked to give an account for their questionable words and/or actions, should therefore be one of spin, pivot and redirection, outright avoidance, and/or blaming of the opposing party and the Media.  In other words, there should be no admittance of wrongdoing of any kind, ever!

By the same token, one should also assume that the opposing party and its leaders are always wrong, lack legitimacy, are un-patriotic in spirit and behavior, have false selfish and egotistical motives, and can do no right.  In short, one must believe that the opposing party and its leaders are harmful to the nation’s welfare and therefore must never have a part or voice in influencing national policy.  It’s as simple as that.

This is what we have come to.  Yes, it’s now that black and white.  How SAD!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Let’s Not Underestimate Trump

Trump has been called insecure, thin skinned, and ignorant.  This is a mistake.  For it underestimates his ability to make calculated maneuvers in his favor.

Trump is a shrewd propagandist.  He knows how to use and manipulate the Media.

This is why he twitters as much as he does, and why he is so ready to present his own “alternative facts” by “correcting” mainstream media’s presentation of “truth.”

It is not that he is insecure.  For, if he were truly an insecure person, he most likely would never have gotten as far as he has in both the business arena as well as in the political arena.

I say that Trump is very certain of himself (though foolishly so), and that he knows exactly what he is doing.  That is, his words and actions have nothing to do with personal insecurities.

We therefore can’t afford to underestimate him, as for example by dismissing his battle with the Media as a product of personal insecurities or self-imposed uninformed ignorance.

And that’s precisely the point: Trump is smarter than the Media pundits give him credit for.  And so, thus far, Trump is getting what he wants and the powers that be readily give him what he asks for precisely because they fear political reprisals from his base supporters; for his base supporters fully buy into Trumps depiction of Reality.

Perception is everything and Trump functions with that principle in mind.

So, NO, Trump is not a naïve simpleton, who is insecure and thin-skinned.

He is shrewd and manipulative.

Trump knows how to influence and control his supporters’ perception.  He defines their perspective, creates their vantage point, and draws their conclusions for them; that is to say that Trump’s depiction of “reality” is his supporters’ given reality.  The way Trump sees things is the way his followers see things.  It’s as simple as that. 

On that score, Trump is ahead of the game and is far out smarting mainstream Media’s attempt to “keep it real.”