I Met The Swamp And It Is Us

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So with the election came promises (and hope to some) to “drain the swamp” in Washington, D.C. and beyond. 


That means redefining the size, scope, and purpose of federal government.


It also means reducing regulations that stifle American business and competitive advantage, placing restrictions on lobbying, and imposing term limits on Congress.


Presumably, it also means addressing mounds of fraud, waste and abuse in the system (many examples of each are out there).  


So here is a funny true story from when I was traveling recently…


A gentleman is riding with me in the elevator and he turns to me to make chit-chat. 


He says, “Good morning. Where you from?”


I smile and respond, “Washington, D.C.,” and add proudly, “the nation’s capital!”


He then asks, “What do you do there?”


Feeling a little perky that morning and with the elevator ride about to come to a stop at the lobby, I quickly blurt out, “Oh, cleaning up the swamp.”


To which, the man responds with the sarcasm galore and probably a good dose of disdain, “Yeah right!” 


There was something so comical about this scene in which I sort of baited this guy and at the same time found the reaction that is all too likely throughout America.


Do people believe and are they committed that we really do the following:


– Change the status quo of big stumbling government


– Right the wrongs done by those who take advantage of the system, its power and big money


– Restrain the ginormous national debt that threatens to consume all of us


– Fairly and compassionately address the nation’s priorities including those for national security, prosperity, and well-being


– Drain the swamp from the horrendous creatures that dwell and thrive therein


And the capital is not built on a preexisting swamp, but it did come and grow, man-made, dark and deep, as a result of the greed and fear that drives too many, far too far. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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Is Our Democracy Failing Us?

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The latest was Kathy Griffin grotesquely holding up a decapitated and bloodied head of the President of the United States, Donald Trump.


Before that was Stephen Colbert uncool, profanity-laced barrage against the President.


Even Madonna lost her sh*t and threatened to blow up the White House at the mass women’s march earlier this year. 


But all this is still only the tip of the iceberg, as liberals “resist” him and extremists even riot and commit acts of violence; the investigators look to impeach him; the mass media lynches him daily; witches try to cast a mass spell on him; and even late night comedians make him into the butt of every joke and asses wisecrack. 


No respect anymore.


No genuine dialogue.


No negotiation.


No compromise.


No problem-solving.


No putting the nation first. 


The glove are off as tempers and politics are boiling over in Washington, D.C. and all across the nation.


As liberals and conservatives battle it out for the direction of our country.


Some may say that this is what democracy is supposed to do…


But at this extreme, this is how nations self-destruct, not govern!


Who is laughing?


Certainly those that would threaten our way of life:  Russia. China. North Korea. Iran. ISIS and Al-Qaeda. 


Only sane Americans are crying out for leadership to stop killing each other and instead coalesce–irrespective of right and left–and to move this nation forward stronger in the world–militarily, economically, and socially.


As we continue to beat each other senseless with new revelations of debauchery and corruption every 5 minutes on TV, our politicians are black and blue, their agendas are dead on arrival, their proposals are torn to shreds, their votes are filibustered, the parties are deadlocked, the government nearly shutdown again, and progress is nowhere to be found.


As some states talk of succession, some nutty people out there are advocating for violence to our elected leaders, and others are even calling for civil war, should it come to it. 


As many have commented, civility is gone from political discourse, and instead angry and violent discord rules!


This is not a healthy democracy, but a political system being torn apart by extremists and haters.


How do we get the destructive abnormal new normal back to a fruitful normal is normal again?


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

BIG Difference Between Private and Public Sectors

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So I thought this was very telling today about the difference between the public and private sectors…


I was teaching a class and gave the students a challenging scenario and problem and asked how they would solve it.


The class was a mix of leaders and managers from the public and private sectors–this time weighted mostly on the commercial side. 


Typically, the students from the government usually provide answers in terms of lengthy analysis processes, negotiations, vetting and getting buy-in and approvals through many layers of bureaucracy and red tape, as well as getting people to understand the what’s in it for me (WIIFM) value proposition.


However, this time, one the students from the private sector said bluntly, the following:

We can either do it the easy way or the hard way!


So I asked, “What do you mean the easy and hard ways?”


And he answered:

The easy way is that we can try at first to appeal to people, but if that doesn’t work then the hard way is we just do what needs get done.


Again with great interest and curiosity, I inquire, “And how do you that?”


This time someone else answers, and says:

We do “rip and replace”–we pull up the truck in the middle of the night and we rip out the things we don’t like and replace it with what we do, period.


Then I ask innocently again, “So what happens the next morning?”


And the 2nd person answers again, and says:

Who cares, the job is done!


This reminded me a little of the old images of the mob gangster pulling up in the shadows of the night to someone’s door that wasn’t cooperating and applying the baseball bat to the knees!


Yes, it’s a very different and extreme way of getting what you want and when you want it, done. 


Quite a BIG difference between the private and public sector approach to getting thing done!


One one hand, we have the speed and execution of the marketplace versus the more lengthly thoughtfulness and inherent compromises of government and politics. 


What’s it gonna be–some bureaucracy, seemingly endless red tape, and horse-trading or the good ol’ baseball bat to the knees? 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Nuttiest Duck In DC

Just when I thought I’d met all the nuts in this town (Washington, D.C.)…


I ran into this one in the Capitol Reflecting Pool on the Mall. 


Check this out!


The duck is head first waddling away it’s feet in the air like a lost puppy.


Reminds me of too many folks who don’t want to deal with the many consequential problems that our nation faces (fortunately, there are also many good folks that do!).


From the imminent dangers of North Korea, Iran, and ISIS to our staggering national debt (all of which I wrote about yesterday) along with other critical issues such as healthcare, immigration, and jobs, jobs, jobs. 


Then there are the all too frequent projects that are out of control and funding that is flushed down the proverbial $4,000 toilet. 


A history of dysfunction, fraud, waste, abuse (along with an assortment of personality disorders) have ripened for the picking in the election famous “Swamp”–that we’ve been promised will be drained!


Maybe that’s what this duck is wading into…and what do you think he will find? 


This nation can no longer afford to go head in the sand unless we are looking to be a good-for-nothing dead duck rather than a thriving democracy and beacon of freedom to the world. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal

Budget Cuts Conundrum

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So I’m hearing two opposing themes about the proposed federal budget cuts:


1) It’s horrible because we are cutting into the bone and this is going to really hurt a lot of important government programs.


2) It’s great because we have been spending money that we don’t really have, and we need to finally reign it in. 


Let’s face it, we’ll never get such drastic cuts across the civilian government unless this country goes into severe crisis mode–which never happens until it’s too late and something terrible has happened. 


If we even got half the cuts being proposed–which most people don’t seem to believe will even happen–that would be significant and painful itself. 


The truth of the matter is that we are facing enormous danger on both the national security and financial fronts!


– Militarily–Russia, China, Iran, North Korea pose huge threats including those involving weapons of mass destruction. 


– Financially–We have a serious national debt to the tune of $20 trillion, an annual trade deficit of half a trillion dollars, and social security and medicare trust funds that are going bankrupt. 


If we let these threats run their course, we will eventually have a crisis that will be truly nationally catastrophic. 


So what’s it gonna be–guns or butter–or national bankruptcy. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Find Your Government Representatives, EASY

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Wanted to share this useful tool…it’s call My Reps


And you can find out YOUR county, state, and federal government elected officials.


All you do is type in your zip code. 


Get the names, address, telephone numbers, and even some emails for contacting your representatives about the issues you care about. 


This is what democracy is all about. 


Your officials represent you and they need to hear from you–let your voice be heard!


Great little app from the Center for Technology and Civic Life…thank you. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal via My Reps website)

An Ironic Cabinet Lineup {humorous}

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[Please only read this with a sense of political humor.]


Here are some funny ideas for domestic and foreign picks for a fantasy Cabinet team:


Department of Defense – (Oh no) Russian President Vladimir Putin because he knows how to fight and win wherever he wants. 


Department of State – (Oh no) Julian Assange because he has so may of the cables anyway.


Department of Treasury – (Oh no) President Barack Obama because he doubled the national debt to $20 trillion and it’s no problem.


Department of Commerce – Chinese President Xi Jinping because he has most of the world’s manufacturing and the biggest trade surplus. 


Department of Justice – (Oh no) James Comey (with all due respect) because he could investigate Hillary Clinton and deem her “extremely careless” with national security and yet also do the job of the prosecutors and recommend that “no reasonable” one would bring such a case. 


Department of Education – (What if) Sergey Brin and Larry Page because they made Google the most valuable company in the world by organizing all the world’s information and making it universally accessible and useful. 


Department of Labor – (What if) Ken Jennings who was beaten in Jeopardy by IBM’s Watson, and understands that artificial intelligence, automation, and robotics will soon be eating people’s lunch. 


Department of Homeland Security – (Oh no) Edward Snowden because he already knows all about surveillance–how we conduct it, how to evade it, as well as the vulnerabilities in our security. 


Department of Transportation – (What if) Elon Musk because of his leadership in electronic vehicles here on earth as well as rockets to even get us to Mars. 


Department of Energy – (Oh no) Iranian President Hassan Rouhani because he knows how to get his nukes while ridding his country of sanctions and getting $150 billion to continue global terror


Department of Agriculture – (Oh no) Any of the notorious drug kingpins because they know how to grow it, distribute it, and make lots of money doing it. 


Department of Interior – (Oh no) North Korean leader Kim Jong Un because he manages one of the most remote (Isolationist) nations on Earth and does it with virtually complete self-sufficiency. 


Department of Veterans Affairs – (Oh no) Bowe Bergdahl because he was charged with desertion and still managed to get honored in a White House ceremony.


Environmental Protection Agency – (Oh no) Former CEO of BP John Browne because he knows the ramifications of being responsible for one of the worst polluting industrial accidents in history in the Gulf of Mexico.


Housing and Urban Development – (What if) Ivanka Trump because she is an absolute class act and helps run one of the greatest brands in building and managing real estate worldwide. 


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal via National Geographic)