Category Archives: Leadership | Politics | Persuasion

One Millennial’s Perspective on The Donald

Donald Trump grimacing

My son Jesse is a 27-year-old lives and works in Austin, Texas.

I can never predict his take on most things. I just know it will always come after a lot of thought.

He asked me in a text last night what I thought of the current election, and specifically about Trump.

I am very low energy at night and was getting ready for bed, but nonetheless tried to have a meaningful conversation.

Jesse thought it would be entertaining to see Hillary and Trump go head to head.

I replied I would rather have a good president.

Then I said good night.

Here’s the text that greeted me on my phone when I woke up this morning:

I’ve held the belief for most of my life now that the people can’t really choose their own president. I don’t know if I really want it, but Donald trump getting elected would completely prove me wrong.

I don’t know about you, but I think there’s a lot to unpack there.

Personally, I think Trump is in some ways an attractive candidate for millennials—because he breaks the mold—but in no way would he be a president for millennials.

So I told Jesse that.

And sent him a link (Needing to Be President).

He responded—

That article was well written and entertaining. It explained trump’s motivations, but it doesn’t explain why he’s a popular candidate. I rolled my eyes when he announced he was running, and now look at him. I think it’s incredibly interesting, NOBODY seriously thinks he would make a “good” president, but everybody wants to see him there. My theory is that, like me, people think it would be hilarious to stick it to our government and put somebody in charge that nobody wants to have as a boss. Not to mention that Obama damn near made it obvious how silly becoming president is, and trump just destroys how it’s “supposed” to be done.

I told him I thought his use of the word “boss” was interesting.

Isn’t that what we’re doing? Choosing who is going to be in charge of our government?

I didn’t correct him.

He continued—

America is in a bad place, not because anything is bad but because people think it is. They don’t like or trust their government anymore, and it’s the vast majority of the country. It’s like that line in hamlet “nothing is either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” Like when people panic about the stock market and because of that it crashes. It’s self fulfilling. America doesn’t need a savvy political leader, it needs somebody the human machine called the economy can believe in. Maybe that’s not trump, but people are sick of what their party’s think is best.

I know this is only one Millennial’s idea of the Trump dynamic, but—like I said—there’s a lot to unpack here.

How many other people, of whatever age, are thinking the same things as Jesse?

The Rand Paul Birther Ad

Rand Paul fillibuster cropped

My close personal friend (whose real name I don’t know) streiff posted this yesterday:

Rand Paul PAC runs birther ad attacking Ted Cruz

It seems like every day we are confronted with more evidence that Rand Paul and his followers should be kept as far from the levers of power as Barack Obama.

Paul seems to be either unable or unwilling to break free of the need to suck up to the same nutjobs and douches that kept his old man in psychotropic drugs for  a couple of decades. Regardless, the effect is the same. Putin carving Crimea out of Ukraine is fine. The GOP “hawks” are to blame for arming ISIS (no mention is made of Obama or Hillary being anywhere in the same hemisphere). The newest round of nutjobbery from Paul is a video churned out by his allied America’s Liberty PAC.

Oh my…

Can’t say I’m shocked.

I predicted something like this a little over a year ago (Cruz vs Paul):

Here’s what I think is going to happen with Rand Paul:

  1. He’s either going to keep his dad’s base or he’s going to lose it.
  2. If he keeps it, that means he will own their history of extremism.
  3. If he loses it, he loses their operational impact.

I really don’t think he can have it both ways.

As a Cruz apologist, I do think Rand Paul serves one very useful function:

If it’s down to a choice between him and Cruz, I fully expect Matt Lewis, along with Jonah Goldberg, Rich Lowry—and even John Podhoretz—to join the Cruz bandwagon.

Even if they have to hold their noses to do it.

It appears to me Rand has decided to go all-in on his father’s army of paulites, with everything that entails.


Two things about Cruz right now:

  1. This is another example of everyone seeming to go out of their way to help Cruz.
  2. Although Cruz is catching a lot of these kinds of breaks, he STILL needs to get the WMD thing right (Ted Cruz doesn’t get ‘WMD’ right either).


Carly speaking

Everyone is shocked at Carly.

Maybe even Carly.

Something came together in my mind just now as I was re-acquainting myself with her tenure at Hewlett-Packard.

And it combined with something she said about some horrible gaffes during her abysmal Senate campaign in California.

Given the track record and/or scandal attached to every Hewlett-Packard CEO since Carly, along with the financial collapse of the tech sector during and after her tenure—how can anyone draw an objective bead on her time there?

The (usually) hyperbolic blowback to her and what she tried and sometimes succeeded in doing at H-P is going to be difficult for her to overcome.

Along with that doomed Senate race in California.

About which

“I had just come off cancer treatment,” she says of her 2010 campaign, a difficulty compounded by the death of her daughter in October 2009. “I was sick and heartsick.”

She’s gotten past that, obviously, but how did she then become such a world-class communicator?

There’s no denying she has. I mean, did you see her interview on MSNBC with Andrea Mitchell?

She puts on the same level of performance no matter where she goes or who she talks to.

Her trolling of Hillary Clinton is a sight to behold.

Absolutely masterful.

I didn’t always feel this way.

When she first gained people’s notice, I immediately thought of that California campaign and thought, “Good luck with this venture, Carly.”

Even as a vice presidential possibility, people told me they’d prefer someone who’d proved themselves as a successful candidate.



Or as a successful—not angrily fired and bitterly denounced—big time executive.

And yet, here she is, hugely, surprisingly successful so far.

But how?

It’s because she proved herself.

Not in the modern sense of the word, meaning validation or demonstration of her worth or expertise.

But a definition much older, and with special meaning to me.

Being proved as being tried in fire.

Being purified.

Entering the ordeal weak, compromised.

Emerging strong, confident.

Vindicated, not because of what you accomplished, but because of what you’ve become.

And here the concept is, in my favorite context:

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

1 Peter 4:12-13 (RSV)

Carly fightin cancer

After Hewlett-Packard, after California, after cancer, after losing a loved one—

What is Andrea Mitchell’s questioning—what is anyone’s doubts—to Carly Fiorina?

She has been proved as few have.

If you are her foe, you will doubt her at your peril.

Chris Wallace and Marco Rubio need an intervention (part 1)

Marco Rubio 2

Let’s start with you, Marco

In the snippet Chris showed you, Charlie Rose asked you a question.

If you look at the Iraq war, after finding out there were no weapons of mass destruction, would you, if you knew that, have been in favor of the Iraqi invasion?

Can you spot what is wrong with his question?

“…no weapons of mass destruction…”

Here’s how you answered:

Well, not only would I not have been in favor of it. President Bush would not have been in favor of it, and he said so.

Here’s how you should’ve answered it:

Just so I understand you, Charlie, help me with some clarification:

What do you mean by “weapons of mass destruction”?

I’m guessing that in your alone moments—when you’re not under the pressure of an interviewer’s questioning—you yourself know what “weapons of mass destruction” means.

But it didn’t look like it when you answered Rose’s question.

Here’s something I recommend you study before your next interview. It’s the FBI’s definition of “weapons of mass destruction”:

What are Weapons of Mass Destruction?

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) are defined in US law (18 USC §2332a) as:

“(A) any destructive device as defined in section 921 of this title (i.e. explosive device);
(B) any weapon that is designed or intended to cause death or serious bodily injury through the release, dissemination, or impact of toxic or poisonous chemicals, or their precursors;
(C) any weapon involving a biological agent, toxin, or vector (as those terms are defined in section 178 of this title)(D) any weapon that is designed to release radiation or radioactivity at a level dangerous to human life.”

WMD is often referred to by the collection of modalities that make up the set of weapons: chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE). These are weapons that have a relatively large-scale impact on people, property, and/or infrastructure.

If you want to simplify it so even an interviewer can understand it, here’s a ready definition available on Google:

weap·on of mass de·struc·tion
plural noun: weapons of mass destruction

  1. a chemical, biological or radioactive weapon capable of causing widespread death and destruction.

From now on, why don’t you make them ask specifically which weapon of mass destruction was missing?

Not only will you slow down those interruptions (we’ll get to you in a moment, Chris), but you’ll force the conversation into shedding light instead of blowing smoke.

Because, as you know, there were weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq. Quite nasty ones, in fact.


Which is what Assad was using in Syria. That’ right. President Obama’s famous red line.

Did you notice this guy’s tweet? He’s been on a tear lately on this topic, and rightfully so.

The report my friend is referring to was published in the February 15, 2015 New York Times (C.I.A. Is Said to Have Bought and Destroyed Iraqi Chemical Weapons).

I remember it creating a stir.

Then suddenly—like a rock.

Marco, before we get to Chris, here’s John Hinderaker’s take (Iraq Had WMDs After All)—Chris, I’d like you to take notes on this as well:

Some have tried to disparage the importance of munitions like the Borak warheads on the ground that they are “old” WMDs, manufactured before 1991. But this is wrong. One of the chief concerns about Iraq’s WMDs always was whether it had actually destroyed its vast stocks of chemical and biological weapons, as it claimed. One of the principal tasks of the UNMOVIC inspections that were carried out until 2002 was to try to verify that these “old,” but still lethal, weapons had actually been destroyed. Thus, UNMOVIC wrote in its January 27, 2003 briefing to the U.N. Security Council:

One of three important questions before us today is how much might remain undeclared and intact from before 1991; and, possibly, thereafter; the second question is what, if anything, was illegally produced or procured after 1998, when the inspectors left; and the third question is how it can be prevented that any weapons of mass destruction be produced or procured in the future.

In my opinion, the revelation that more than 400 Borak rocket warheads armed with sarin were still extant after the 2003 war is of a different quality than prior reports of old stocks that were encountered here and there by American troops. These rockets were not, it appears, dispersed randomly in dumps and forgotten storage depots. One individual was able to produce more than 400 of them, suggesting that they most likely were stored and inventoried by the Baathist regime. If that is the case, the conventional belief that the world’s intelligence agencies were wrong, and Iraq did not possess significant stockpiles of WMDs prior to the 2003 war, is incorrect. One shudders to think what a terrorist group could accomplish with 400 sarin-equipped rockets.

The Times article itself cites scary, previously unknown fact:

The analysis of sarin samples from 2005 found that the purity level reached 13 percent — higher than expected given the relatively low quality and instability of Iraq’s sarin production in the 1980s, officials said. Samples from Boraks recovered in 2004 had contained concentrations no higher than 4 percent.

The conventional thinking has been that no WMDs were found in Iraq, or that whatever was found was weak sister, half-spent leftovers.

Clearly the conventional thinking was wrong.

And yet this thinking continues to pollute all media discussions about Iraq, pre-war intelligence, and shoulda wouldas to this day.

So it’s important, Marco, that you make your interviewers be very, very specific as they ask you about mistakes and WMD.

It’s especially important that you don’t keep parroting their lines.

They’re interested in The Narrative.

Your interested in the truth.

Okay, Chris…

We’ve gone on a while here.

Let’s take a break and pick this up when we get back.


Just saw this tweet. If it’d been posted yesterday, I would’ve led with it (h/t Glenn Reynolds—@Instapundit).

Good question, sir.