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Deika Morrison: Reasoning the Reasons

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Building back confidence one day at a time......

Don't know about you, but I'm feeling more confident everyday. I look forward to hearing from President-elect Obama. Let me tell you why:
  • Consistency in tone. He consistenly sounds the same. Same tone. Same unpanicked demeanor. Same balance between a sober tone and an optimistic one.
  • Consistency in message. He sounds like candidate Obama and that's good. Priorities then are priorities now. Jobs, jobs jobs and people first. Tweaking here and there as details emerge through the transition sharing of information; but the objectives remain the same.
  • Consistency in approach. He's practical. He's people oriented. He's solving problems. He actually said today that the American people are not interested in ideology; they want solutions. Well, I for one am not interested in ideology, and I for one want solutions. All these ideologies need review since none of them seem to be working (or we would not be in this global mess). So, while people philosophize, let's look at the real problems and come up with real solutions. Who knows, we may even invent a new ideology in the process.
  • Consistency in personality. This one requires some explanation. Over time, I watched him speak at events and he has the ability to "feel the pulse of the people". That is a rare gift that manifests itself in many ways. For example, on the campaign trail, it is the gift that allowed him to go off script, and connect with people while being himself. President-elect Obama is showing that consistency in personality in his appointments. He's "reading the pulse of the people". For reasons too numerous to mention here, the selection of the economic team and, more importantly, the positions for which they were selected speaks volume - to me personally - of a deep understanding of multiple issues beyond confirmation hearings.
Confidence is a key - not the only key, but a key - factor to recovery. Recovery won't happen overnight; but it won't happen ever without confidence.

So far, I'm getting the impression the President-elect knows what he's doing: he's got a vision for a plan to get things done, and he's got a team whose mandate is to get those details for the plan to achieve that vision...to get things done. Things for the people. Things to solve problems. And that's making me pretty confident.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

In search of the intellectual President with a practical Presidency

I find this transition period very....well, interesting.
  • I understand the need for unity. Please do show everyone how magnanimous you are, Mr. President-elect, to look beyond all the comments made about you on the campaign trail. Never mind that those who made the comments are highly unlikely to be as supportive of you even after all this "forgiveness". Problem with this? Unity is a nice concept; but a real challenge to achieve. Alienating your base is a real risk in wooing those who have not warmed up to you. History is full of examples of people who have ended up with nothing by ignoring those who loved them because they spent all their time trying, and failing, to make those who didn't love them do so. Try convincing your base to woo them too, because there are those who will have a harder time with forgetting comments about race, experience (or proposed lack thereof), and generally dismissive and condescending tones. Recognize that that takes time - not everyone is you.
  • I understand the search for experience. I recognize the magnitude and variety of challenges - so many balls in the air all at once. But no change can happen without people and people will become disengaged if promises are not kept, if the authenticity of the leader is doubted. Hope and change are what the winning team ran on. If there was a yearning desire in the country for a complete return of any Administration, then would that candidate not have been selected from the very beginning? There is still time to balance the experience and familiarity that seems to be so critical to "hit the ground running" with those fresh revolutionary ideas to get the country out of the deep ditch quickly; those fresh revolutionary ideas without which there would be no President-elect Obama . Age and experience have no monopoly on solutions. Let's have a healthy mix of perspectives - old and new; experience and youth.
  • I understand the intellectual appeal of "the team of rivals". What a statesman and leader you are if you can pull it off; if you can get a team of rivals formed. Does the team get anything constructive done though after they have agreed to serve? Or do they just look nice and give historians lots to write about? That is the real test. We need some realism about the personality types. Leopards (note the plural) never change their spots. Qualifications are not the issue. Ability to work in a team is; to not act in a parallel, and opposing manner that introduces divisiveness. Has that test been passed? I'm not so sure.
Frankly, the President-elect has made some great choices, and like all choices there are positive and negative aspects to each one. In net, the country needs a team that works; a team characterized by personal dynamics where members exhibit respect for each other and can work together to find creative practical solutions - for all people - that can be implemented in the fastest and most cost-effective manner.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The first 100 days...

Respectfully, I have to agree with Chris Matthews who seems to have dedicated every Hardball show on MSNBC to lobbying for a package of jobs, infrastructure development and immediate relief to the American people.

Why he has to lobby though is truly fascinating but puzzling.

In this environment of record unemployment and severe financial hardship due to a man made shock to the financial system, I am trying to understand the viewpoint of those who support "small" changes that don't cost money, but don't solve the pressing problems either. It is amazing to watch fiscal conservatives argue against spending to save the economy from irreparable damage because of cost when they have presided over this monumental deficit and debt.

I'm not calling for immediate energy independence or health care reform, BUT is it that "big" things cannot be done, and only "small" things (that are not small but called "small" because they don't come with a big price tag) can be done. Why is there not space for some of both? So:
  • I love the environment, but how does an environmental proclamation put food on the table for hundreds of thousands of people?
  • I support all and every efforts for human rights, but how does closing Guantanamo Bay create jobs for hundreds of thousands of people?
Why is it either or?

Why is there a debate about mandate when the President-elect won so convincingly?

My two cents? Obama was elected to do what he promised.....so now he should do it without apology because those practical people-oriented solutions he promised are more urgently needed with every day that goes by.

Holding on to hope.......

For those of you who have been following my blog, please forgive me if I sound like a broken record but there's just something I must say.......again.

The global financial system is broken.....badly broken. It is not serving domestic economies, or the global economy. It is not serving the people. It is not serving even itself.

The global financial system needs fixing......urgently. But we need...and here I go again...not just a "new global financial architecture" but a stronger, more stable, more equitable and more sustainable global financial and economic system.

How do we achieve that? Well, as it turns out we were, yes were, off to a great start. Governments managed to talk, agree and act in a coordinated manner. Developing and Developed countries will come to the table in the first of several summits as the G20 meets this weekend in Washington. China, in a major move, stated it would be an active participant.

So why have I used "were"? Because I am becoming doubtful that we are heading in the right direction:

First, I still hear some world leaders and their surrogates talking about blame and responsibility. I really think we do not have the time or luxury to squander this precious opportunity to achieve real meaningful change to the entire global landscape. Use history to understand the problems and guide solutions, but long speeches about who did what to whom is really not helpful. There are very constructive ways to spend time at this weekend's G20 meeting, and pointing fingers respectfully, is not it.

Second, this cementing consensus of the absolute need for an expanded role for the IMF is troubling, frankly. There are well documented problems with the IMF. Increasing funds to the IMF and expanding its powers before reforms are even agreed upon seems like a recipe for further problems - sooner rather than later. I recognize that there are so many issues that are complex that it will take time, but I hope this weekend's meeting realizes that the emergency measures must not cause more problems.

Third, I have struggled with the best way to say this one so here goes:
  • I understand there is only one President at a time, and I agree. So I understand that the President-elect does not either want to or feel that it is appropriate to be at this weekend's meeting.
  • I understand the need for the President-elect to have representatives who do not necessarily participate, but listen.
But, with the greatest of respect to the representatives that the President-elect has chosen, may I ask why - given the significance and complexity of these specific issues - has he not included as an additional representative someone familiar with these issues - like for example, Governor Corzine? Great to have a bi-partisan duo, but a former Secretary of State and a pro-deregulation former member of the House of Representatives when the genesis of this problem is so highly technical and due in part to lax and absent regulation? I think that the criticism being leveled at the transition team is fair - the selection of representatives does seem to indicate disinterest in this meeting.

I am so incredibly disappointed if that is the case.
  • It is no small accomplishment that the G20 is willing to meet.
  • It is no small opportunity to reshape the global financial and economy system so that it works better for all in a sustainable way.
  • It is no small task to achieve consensus on very technical issues where I am sure that Heads of State will come fully prepared from their respective Finance Ministers who meet just before this meeting.
  • Finally, it is a huge underestimation of the global will to move on - and do so urgently. This state of limbo just will not do while the US waits for a new American president. Other countries are more than happy to be the financial center of the world. And no matter what, some countries will not allow this to happen to them again ever - Obama or no Obama.
So, I'll watch this weekend and yes, I recognize this is the first of many summits to deal with these issues. But most importantly, I remain hopeful because after all, that is what my candidate and now President-elect told me for so long to be.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Making the case for sustainable and responsible capitalism

If you have missed it, this is a very worthwhile read "Yes Business Can" written by the Chairman and CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz

Why China gets it, and the US has not

No matter what, China has an ability to remain focused on what matters - and that's China, China's interest and the Chinese people.

The announcement of the $583B stimulus plan is just further evidence of this.

See here for Huffington post article.

See here for the 10 areas designated for spending

Economic growth and the welfare of the people will not be jeopardized, ladies and gentlemen.

So while the USA whose damaged economy lies on the verge of extended recession and even depression, and the powers that be even debate the merit of a stimulus package before an amount can be agreed upon, China comes out with an aggressive broad based plan to revitalize the economy, keep and generate employment, stimulate domestic demand, and provide assistance to those in need.

No matter what the critics may say, China is using this time of unprecedented uncertainty to bring certainty to its economy - to strengthen the fundamentals of its economy, so when the global economy gets back into gear, China is more than ready - China will be ahead.

And for every day that goes by in the US without a stimulus package, the US deepens its economic problems and falls further behind in preparation for global competition.

Sadly, ideology is the reason for this unfortunate US position - some strange objection to spending in order to provide relief to the people, and stabilize the economy. The government is not replacing the private sector; but the economy cannot come to a standstill while the private sector undergoes unprecedented change through a man-made shock largely generated by an element of the private sector itself. Something must happen to make the private sector the engine of growth again - and a stimulus plan can help with short term measures.

It is not either government or private sector. It is necessarily both.

And this is why China gets it, and the US has not.

Thankfully, the President-elect has called for a strategic stimulus package now, and will make it so immediately upon taking office if necessary. Let's hope that the American people and the economy do not have to wait until then because I'm not quite sure that they can.

Friday, November 7, 2008

President-elect Obama sounds like Candidate Obama.......and that's good!

Throughout time, voters have voted for candidates on the promises. Unfortunately, right after they are successful, candidates either forget or decide not to bother with the promises made. Those who voted for them become disillusioned, disappointed and lose even more faith in governance and government. National development becomes even more difficult because people just become detached.

Not so today.

President-elect Obama had his first press conference today. Yes, short but sweet. Yes, thoughtful answers to questions. But most importantly, he has remained on message. President-elect Obama sounds just like Candidate Obama and that's good!

In summary, he reiterated 5 priorities:
  • getting a fiscal stimulus package in place - as previously mentioned and still urgently needed
  • containment of the financial sector crisis to minimize the spread to other industries and globally
  • special initiatives for long-term competitiveness of the auto industry
  • an assessment of the bailout plan initiatives, and whether or not they are true to agreed bipartisan objectives
  • getting started on the long term key priorities identified in the campaign
Importantly, he stressed what I will call "realism" and "practicality"
  • Practical solutions are needed for meeting the challenges which are difficult.
  • Recovery will take time but the American people are resilient and more than capable
  • The election cycle was long and its time to put that behind us and focus even more on the needs of the people. It must be remembered that the American people need help.
  • It's time to put aside partisanship and politics

The President-elect mentioned that a President can do much to restore confidence - a critical function in an era where crisis of confidence, perhaps more than anything else, nearly brought the economy to a grinding halt and will dictate to a large extent the speed of the recovery. When the President-elect has chosen in his first press conference to stay completely on message - to say all the things he no longer must say to appeal to voters but he does say because he means what he had been saying all along, this is perhaps the most tangible way to be credible, and to lead that restoration of confidence.

Well done, Mr. President-elect.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Treasury Secretary

OK - I cannot resist. I have two cents on this topic.

First, check this link to see the names supposedly in consideration so far.

My two cents for President-elect Obama?
  • Please don't rush - we already have a Treasury Secretary and the new one cannot even go through confirmation hearings until after you are sworn-in in January. Please let's not make the markets skittish unnecessarily. Please let's not make matters worse.
  • Please don't pick people for the wrong reason - like "they have already been vetted"
  • Please don't pick people so it looks like the return of any previous administration, and that does include a complete return of the Clinton administration - Bush43 did that and people did not like it. People expect new and fresh - that's why they voted for you. Experience yes, of course.
  • Please, if you must consider controversial people, please have anyone who may have said controversial things like "women aren't smart enough for math and science" deal with that issue.
Finally, please pick somebody who can do the job with credibility with the people AND the private sector.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The President-elect goes for gold in the Olympics of the Superpowers

Tonight, I just want to record that I saw it for myself.



A new President has been elected to be the 44th President of the United States of America. Congratulations to President-elect Barack Hussein Obama.

A President-elect with a platform that is decisively inclusive and built solidly on hope, unity and change.

A President who embodies a new dawn - in his style, in his temperament, in his approach to organization, in his beliefs, and yes, of course, in his ethnically diverse background.

The baton has been passed. The American people executed that smooth and successful baton change placing the last runner of the USA team in the 4x100 relay in the Olympics of the Superpowers in a real position to go for gold.

America, your President-elect has told us all who runs the last leg. It is each and every one of us.

Let's get to work.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Great spot from NBC - 5 ways to make sure your vote counts!

In a spot called Making your vote count (click here) see 5 things to do before you go to the polls. Very important!

It's not over 'til it's over

With all due respect to pollsters, I must admit that polls give me no comfort.
  • First, they are - albeit scientific - just an indication of the outcome. Methodology could be flawed, or imperfect. Unprecedented registration, changing demographic....too many unknowns to have any kind of certainty. Maybe I'm just overly cautious.
  • Second, polls are not clearly marked ballots. Polls cannot be physically counted to elect a President.
  • Third, voters are busy and voters like convenience. Too often people either cannot or decide not to bother with long lines, extreme heat or cold, or any form of voter intimidation. Polls that indicate that their candidate is ahead provide a false - I repeat - false sense of security.
This may seem obvious but I feel like it must be stated.

How does one get elected? Frankly, as it turns out, it has less to do with eight years of claimed dissatisfaction, or 20 months of evaluating the options for the new President. No matter how much money is spent up to the day of elections, it can all come to naught on the day itself. Yes, it can. So, what is important? The VOTE of each and every person. The actual VOTE.

What must not be taken for granted? People can change their minds for the strangest reasons up to the very last minute. They can have second thoughts because of something they heard or saw on the way to the polling station. Yes, they can.

Election day itself requires supreme preparation for any possible contingency. No complacency allowed. Details. Details. Details.

My two cents? Organizers must put themselves in the mind of the voter. The key to elections is the degree of organization on the ground. Simple. Know your people. Know your voters. Know the issues. Be proactive. Keep focused on the bottom line - clearly marked ballots that are considered legally cast. So, voters wake up and decide when to go to the polls. How do they get there? Do they drive? Public transportation? What do they see and hear? What is the weather like? Do they have unforeseen needs? Can the organization help them get back and forth? Do they need to be continually convinced to stay in the line no matter what? What about when they get into voting booth? Have they been properly educated about how to vote SO IT COUNTS? Did I say - have they been properly educated about how to vote SO IT COUNTS no matter what "special" circumstances may arise in the booth such as technological difficulties? Does the machinery have laser-like focus on getting people in and out of the voting booth having voted SO IT COUNTS - no matter what?

Last word? A poll is a very useful tool that can promote complacency. There are never enough votes. NEVER. Every singe one counts. A poll is not a clearly marked ballot that is legally cast. Only legal votes can be counted to elect a President. So let's get those legally cast votes going!
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Reasoning The Reasons by Deika Morrison is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.