Accountability for American Carnage

When Donald J. Trump delivered his now famous “American Carnage” inauguration speech in 2017 we misunderstood it. We thought he was describing the United States as he saw it but he was really previewing the America he wanted. Last week, on January 6, 2021, we saw the spoiled fruit of Trump’s real vision for American carnage.

Of course, maybe we misunderstood because that was the first lie of his presidency. The recordings indicate he said, “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.” Could it be that he simply changed one word – “starts” to “stops” – to tell us the greatest lie of all?

Like most Americans this week, my brain cells have been working over time to make sense of what we witnessed this week. In this post I’m going to do my best to convey what I’m coming up with so far. In this moment, as a country, we are still on information overload so I will not try to cite everything. I think of myself as a researcher and essayist, not a journalist. However, I do rely upon multiples of time-tested, trustworthy journalists and other researchers for the information that informs my thinking and writing.

The question that has been rolling over in my mind is this: What does accountability and justice look like in the wake of the attempted coup on the United States last week?

To answer this question there are three legal concepts we have to understand: free speech, sedition, and treason. For my sources I am relying on the National Constitution Center and Findlaw. Both sites translate the Constitution, constitutional interpretations, and law into more understandable language for legal dummies like me.

Let’s begin with the concept of free speech. This is what the Constitution says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

First Amendment, Interactive Constitution, National Constitution Center, January 10, 2021

However, there are three situations in which restrictions can be placed on free speech. You can go to the link and read it for yourslef and I will briefly highlight them here. Government can Constitutionally restrict:

  1. Certain types of speech including: defamation, true threats, “fighting words,” obscenity, child pornography, and false commercial advertising
  2. A speaker who is in a special relationship to the government, such as an employee or elected official “even based on content, when their speech is incompatible with their status as public officials.”
  3. Speech under a less demanding standard of “reasonableness.”

Now let’s turn to sedition. Sedition is legally defined as a conspiracy between two or more people to:

To conspire to overthrow or destroy by force the government of the United States or to level war against them;

To oppose by force the authority of the United States government; to prevent, hinder, or delay by force the execution of any law of the United States; or

To take, seize, or possess by force any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof.

FindLaw, Seditious Conspiracy and Federal Law: The Basics. January 10, 2021

Finally, as unbelievable as this all is, we need to clarify the meaning of treason and how it relates to sedition. In this case, I’m going to let FindLaw make the point again:

Sedition differs from treason (defined in Article III of the U.S. Constitution) in a fundamental way. While seditious conspiracy is generally defined as conduct or language inciting rebellion against the authority of a state, treason is the more serious offense of actively levying war against the United States or giving aid to its enemies. Another way of looking at it is that seditious conspiracy often occurs before an act of treason.

Findlaw, Free Speech, Sedition, and Treason. January 10, 2021

How are free speech, sedition, and treason relevant to the issue of accountability? Simply put: Certain free speech can result in siditious conspiracy and that conspiracy can lead to treasonous acts. Justice can only be done when there is accountability and we have to be willing to hold people accountable. This may be the biggest problem of all in this situation and begs the question: Are we willing to hold everyone accountable who has accountability? That, my friends, is a really, really big group of people. Let’s look at just a few (or many) of them.

Donald J. Trump

Regardless of why he does it, Trump is on record ad nauseum pushing the boundaries of free speech and potentially engaging in seditious conspiracy. If we are willing to hold him accountable, despite all the risks of agitating his easily agitated Trumpists base, it is the purview of the Congress and the courts to determine his to determine his culpability and penalty. For this reason, the House is moving swiftly to act. But we must be willing for him to be held accountable.

The Republican Party/GOP
Could this be the portrait of the Republican Party from the Trump Administration?

To be clear, in my family, social, and professional circles I associate with Americans who have diverse political views: Libertarian, Republican, Democrat, Independent, Green Party, Socialists, Monarchists, Anarchists, and, yes, even Trumpists. The Republicans I know are as appalled by Trump, his actions this past week, and his repeated failures as I am. However, it has to be said that the Republican Party has been, and continues to be in this moment, missing in action. This is a crucial time for the GOP.

The Republican Party is afraid of holding Trump accountable for fear of losing the Trumpists but it fails to understand the long game. Not all Trumpists are the hard core followers who attempted the coup at the U.S. Capitol last week and who came to DC with guns and explosives. Many just wanted the experience of protesting in Washington, not an invasion. We know that because of the number of people who have since abandoned Trump and the Trumpists. Some members of the GOP did it in the votes to certify the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris (e.g. Loeffler, Lankford, and Graham). As Foxs News and other outlets have reported there has been a flood of resignations since the Capitol invasion: cabinet members, senior staff, and lower level staffers did it by immediately resigning. At least one Trumpist rioter says showing up was the worst decision of his life and, as identities are exposed, arrests are made, and indictments come out, many other Trumpists may also have second thoughts.

If the GOP thinks the Trumpists are a valuable part of their constituency at this moment, they are wrong. The PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll shows that while the country is divided about removing Trump from office right now, the vast majority of Americans condemn the attempted coup on January 6th. The GOP does itself no favor now or in the future by failing to hold Trump and the Trumpists accountable. Doing so means it will lose even more support from the “average American” which is the real silent majority. We must be willing to hold the Republican Party accountable for its part.

The Democratic Party/Dems

In the spirit of transparency, I identify as a Democrat. However, I am not a “Proud Democrat” because I do not always agree with what the the Dems do. So why do I identify as a Democrat? Because the Dems, though sadly imperfect, align with my core value and belief in the greater good for all better than any of the other options…so far. That being said, the Dems are also accountable. The Dems are accountable because they have been complicit with the Republicans in creating the sharp political division that exists in this country. There have been many missed opportunities for the GOP and Dems to come together to govern for the greater good. They failed to do so because of outside interests, internal interests (aka politics), and, sometimes, just downright stubbornness. The intractability of their positions have resulted in a Congressional stalemate and national division it will take years to heal.

The Republican Party has been as partisan as possible during the periods it has controlled Congress over the past decade. The temptation for the Dems will be pay back. At least, that’s how it appears the game is played, and the game has been “on steroids” for the last generation or so.

The Dems have an opportunity to set a new standard of collaboration with Republicans. For the rational, non-Trumpists remaining in the GOP, collaboration will be especially important for helping establish the Republican Party again as an honorable, fair, and dependable opponent – not enemy. This, I believe, will be important for the healing of the country. For it to happen, though, we must be willing to hold the Democratic Party accountable for its part.

Individual Trumpist Legislators and other Trumpists

Accountability is already happening for this group but it is unclear how far it will go. Trumpist legislators (in both the House and the Senate) have unmasked themselves as Trumpists more than Republican. Major corporations are stepping back from financially supporting GOP Senators who objected to the certifcation of the 2020 election. It began with a trickle of three corporations early in the weekend, by Monday morning (today) there was a gush of corporations suspending support of Republicans who moved to de-certify the vote and even all political contributions. This trend is forecasted to grow and continue, especially toward others in the GOP if the Republican Party does not take steps to return the party to some semblance of what it used to be when it was really the Party of Lincoln.

How do we hold these lawless lawmakers accountable? You know the answer to that and it involves ballot boxes not bullets.

And what of the other Trumpists who were outside, then inside, the U.S. Capitol? It’s not looking very happy for them. There is a nationwide “manhunt” on for them. (Did they really not bother to consider that virtually everywhere in DC is in the view of surveillance cameras?) People have been arrested already from Hawai`i to Florida. Friends and family, who recognize their selfies and photos in social media, are calling the authorities.

Right now many of the charges may seem minor but there were five people who died. It appears the Capitol Police officer who died was struck on the head with a fire extinguisher by one of the Trumpist rioters. One day after storming the U.S. Capitol (by January 7th), there had already been 82 arrests. By the next day, January 8th, 13 had been charged in Federal Court and 40 more in Superior Court. The arrests and charges are growing and are expected to go into the hundreds. This does not even consider the number of people who are losing their careers and jobs as a result of this illegal action.

To add insult to injury for these folks, many of whom may have just been caught up in Trump’s rhetoric and the fever pitch of the Trumpist party atmosphere, their “fearless” leader betrayed them. He promised to march with them; instead he hid out at the White House. He said he supported them; then he denounced them on Twitter and described their behavior as “heinous.”

As sad and tragic as it is for these deceived Americans, we must be willing to hold Trumpists accountable.

The Media (as an entitty, both news and social)

In an age when the velocity of information is faster than our ability to fully comprehend it, two things must be true:

  • The Media – in all its forms – has to be responsible
  • We must be media-wise critical thinkers

The Media has to be committed to doing good research on its stories and to reporting its findings honestly. Overall, I believe much of mainstream media does this. Most media outlets will not release a story unless there are multiple sources. Ideally, those sources will go on record but that doesn’t always happen out of fear of retribution, especially during the Trump administration. For that reason, they need to have even more sources to ensure the credibility and consistency of the story. Using anonymous sources is not any cause for alarm as long as it is made verifiable through multiple sources who give the same story. We should not give a single second of consideration to the Media sources that fail in this most basis responsibility to truth and unbiased reporting.

Okay, look, everyone has a bias. When the Media is wise and honorable, it is upfront and clear about that bias so consumers can make informed decisions about whether to pay attention to it.

Social media has a particularly difficult challenge because it tries to provide an open forum for people to engage one another. That’s fine…but part of holding them accountable might be regular tutoring in the restrictions of free speech from the National Constitution Center. Also, I think it is a mistake for social media to be allowed to get into the “news business.” Most do not appear to have the expertise, infrastructure, or interest in vetting their stories as professional journalists. All of this to say that accountability does include regulation of the social media.

The Media, in all its forms, has the responsibility of shining a light on the most important issues, events, and figures of our day. Let’s be honest. Donald J. Trump has been important only because he has held the Office of the President of the United States. Period. Prior to his riding the escalator down Trump Tower in New York to announce his candidacy, he was thought of as unimportant if he was ever thought about at all. The Media treated him as a sideshow during his campaign but then, when he moved inside the big top, as the ringmaster, he had the spotlight. We can hold the Media accountable by urging them to avoid the next sideshow and stay focused on what really matters. I get it…they have to give the Office of the President their attention and it just so happened Trump was in that office. But now they have a choice. What matters is not Trump’s posts on social media, rants, conspiracy theories, temper tantrums, lies, etc. Media is accountable because it empowered Trump to become larger than life and more important than he ever was. Now they need to be held accountable for keeping the microphones and cameras off of him.

Now, what if the Media fails to be responsible and self and external regulation fails? What are we consumers to do? We have to be critical thinkers on our own. We have to recognize the valuable role Media plays in our society and, at the same time, scrutinize and evaluate what it tells us and call it out when it is gets the fact wrong and when it spews minformations, half-truth, conpsiracy theories, and other lies. We must be willing to the hold the Media accountable for honesty, integrity, and focusing on what really matters.

We the People

In the final analysis it is We the People – all of who live in the United States and its territories – who need to hold ourselves accountable for failing to:

  • Protect our fragile democracy from relentless attacks.
  • Live out the basic lessons we learned as children on how to play well with others…even those we disagree with (this is also known as “civility”).
  • Speak truth to power.
  • Build open, honest, and kind relationships with one another.
  • Listen thoughtfully, patiently, and seek to understand what is being said before we respond.
  • Assume and believe in the best intentions of all of us.
  • See and respond compassionately to the cries of any and all of us who feel marginalized and left behind – regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, age, status, faith, or political leanings – not just at this time of an unprecedented pandemic but always.
  • Follow the “Golden Rule” of treating others like, no, even better than, we would like to be treated.
  • Seek truth – not just the convenient kind that supports our ideology but the inconvenient truth that tests our ideology.
  • Research candidates and being clear on our most deeply held values and ideologies to ensure our candidates are in alignment.
  • Vote in every election in any legal way available to us to ensure that our voice is being heard and considered.
  • Call for accountability for all those I’ve mentioned here.

But, of course, we must be willing hold ourselves accountable. We are not without blame for what happened last week. We can and must do better in the future because our future depends on it. Will we?

Be safe, be well, wear your mask, keep distance, wash your hands, and, in every way and every day, stand up for accountability, justice, and peace in our country and our world.


Photo Credits:

Featured Photo – Shot Sign in Front of U.S. Capitol – csp55167745 © Can Stock Photo / focalpoint

Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil Owls – Peter Holmes on Pixabay

A Little More Normalcy

Not that anything in the world is very normal. Honestly, on the whole, I am not sure that is a bad thing. Change is hard anytime it happens. When the change is sudden and large, it is even more difficult. Change is another word for opportunity, if we will look forward rather than back.

Recently I was talking with colleagues (by Zoom, of course) and we were discussing the changes the pandemic has brought to how work happens. For example, even when people can return to the workplace, many businesses may decide to sanction remote work because they have found their employees are more productive, less stressed, and happier working remotely. Of course, that is not true for everyone and not every employee or company will find the changes to be positive. I do believe we are more likely to seize the opportunity and benefits of change if we can look forward to how we can do things better than if we keep wishing and hoping we can just go back to “normal.”

Today I’m running piece on teamwork I hope you find useful. It addresses the challenge of integrating new members into a team, including some adaptation for our current state of pandemic living and working virtually.


Welcoming and Integrating New Team Members

My first job was at a local newspaper and print shop. It was in the same very small town I grew up in and I already knew the three other people who worked there. However, that did not make it any easier. I did not know them in the context of their professional work…only as acquaintances in the community. When I arrived on my first day of work, I was nervous, unsure of myself, and just a little scared. 

  • What if I could not learn how to use a light board or operate a printing press? 
  • What if I made a mistake, how would the boss react? 
  • What if I did not understand something, who would I ask and would it even be okay that I asked? 
  • What if I did not fit in?
  • What if…what if…what it…

Later in my career I would often experience the “new hire” experience from the perspective of an existing team member, except the “what if” questions were a little different. 

  • What if the new person cannot learn their job? 
  • What if they make a serious mistake? 
  • What if the new hire does not understand the work we do? 
  • What if the new person does not fit in? 

When a new person joins a team, there are always “what ifs” and everyone has them. For this reason it is important we do everything we can to make the process of change in our teams smooth and easy for everyone. 

Teams change. Promotions, different opportunities, retirements and other individual changes means our team will need to change as well. Team growth also means team changes. That’s just how it is in organizational life. 

In the 1960’s a researcher named Bruce Tuckman came up with a simple way to describe team development. It has been around a while but it is still widely regarded as very useful for helping us understand team behavior. It is known as Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development and you may have heard of it already. The four original stages are forming, storming, norming, and performing. 

Performing is the stage every team aspires to reach. Performing is when teams are working together like a well rehearsed dance troupe. However, when team membership changes at this stage, the team will revert back to the earliest stage of development – forming – when the new team member arrives. The forming stage is when the “what ifs” appear again for everyone – the new team member and the existing team members, too. 

To successfully move through the forming stage toward performing it is important for team leaders and their teams to have a plan for integrating new members.

The plan can be built around three phases in the hiring and on-boarding process. 

  • The first is the period of recruiting and interviewing. 
  • The second is after hiring and before the new team member begins. 
  • The third is from the first day the new team member joins the team and beyond. 

I want to take a closer look at making a plan with you but, first, I need to offer this caveat. Organizations have specific policies and protocols they must follow when hiring new people, or promoting and moving people within, to comply with the law. Therefore, the suggestions I am going to offer here should be considered within the scope of the required law. Whenever and wherever possible, I hope these suggestions will be considered and then implemented. 

Recruiting and Interviewing Phase

First, let’s take a look at a couple of ways to successfully integrate new team members during the recruiting and interview phase. 

Whenever possible, invite team members to recommend people to interview for the open position. Recommendations could include people who are outside of the organization or within the organization. Current team members are already invested in the success of their team. They know better than anyone what it will take to be a successful team member. They are more likely to recommend people who they believe will be a contributing, successful member of the team. 

Especially when the field of candidates have been narrowed to the finalists, have an informal team interview. This can be done by bringing the whole team together with the candidate or having the candidate meet one-on-one with each current team member. Several positive things are accomplished by having a team interview. One is that it will deepen a sense of responsibility toward and ownership of the team by current members. Another is that it will help the team form a consensus agreement on which candidate will be a better fit. Finally, should the candidate be hired, it will have already started the process of relationship building which is so important during the forming stage of a new team. 

The team interview is also important for the candidate. By meeting with the team the candidate gets a glimpse of its culture in action. Just as the team can assess whether the candidate is a good fit, the candidate can assess fit for themselves. 

I remember a time when I was a candidate for a position in which I would be an associate director working with the executive director and as a member of the leadership team. Everything went very well in the process and I really liked the organization and was eager to say yes if the offer was made. Then I met with the team I would be working with. Midway through the team interview I realized I would not be a good fit with them. I was deeply disappointed but knew it would be a mistake if I were to join them. Despite the attraction I felt toward the organization, I knew it would not be long before I would regret joining them and I knew they would soon come to regret it, too. 

Preparing for the First Day

The second phase in the hiring process, between the hiring and the new hires first day, offers another opportunity to integrate the new team member. Here are four things you can do to prepare your team to welcome the new member.

  1. Make Some Noise! Let everyone on the team and in your organization know about the new addition. Share a photo of the team member and a short bio (no, not a resume, a bio) with the team. I also recommend you share it with the whole organization. Give people a face to connect with the name, let them know the person’s start date, the location they will be working, and encourage them to “surprise” them by greeting and welcoming them by name. Of course the surprise greeting may have to be by email and that is okay.
  2. Prepare to connect them virtually to their team from day one. This is particularly important during times, like the COVID-19 pandemic, when people may not be working in office environments face-to-face. Typically, it is the first day when new hires receive their email and log-in information. Still plan to do that but make sure the new team member really DOES have their email ready on the first day. However, distribute their email in advance to other team members and encourage them to prepare an introductory email (e.g., their own photo and bio and a word of welcome) that they can send to the new team member on Day 1. 
  3. Put together a welcome package. A terrific team activity is to put together a welcome package for the new team member. Make it practical (e.g., pens, notebook, Kleenex, hand sanitizer, etc.), make it fun (e.g., candy, gum, a toy), and make it light (e.g., a clown nose, a silly hat, or something “funny” you think they will “need” in their new position). More than anything else, the welcome package needs to be the team’s personal expression of excitement about and appreciation of the new team member. Make sure the welcome package is on the new team members desk the first day. Of course, if the person is working remotely, make sure it is dropped off or received on their first day. 
  4. Be ready for the new team member before their first day. Nothing feels more inclusive than feeling like you were expected. I remember my first day in a new position that I was very excited to be filling. I could not wait to get started! My first day was a let down though. I was assigned an office and a computer that had not been cleaned. The prior occupant liked to eat at the desk and the computer keyboard and desktop were covered in crumbs. Even the office chair had food stains and crumbs on it. I did not feel comfortable starting my day without giving everything a thorough cleaning. Though someone had hung a welcome sign on my door, I really wondered if anyone really cared that I was there. Whether the person is working on site or remotely, it is important to make sure everything is ready for the new team member on Day 1. 

From the First Day 

The third phase begins on the new team member’s first day. The ideas here not only help integrate the new team member but also help build and maintain a sense of teamwork and team identity. 

  • Have a team social to welcome new members (while social distancing): COVID-19 makes it challenging to socialize physically in the same space. However social interaction among team members is still important to integrating new team members. Until you can physically meet up in a social setting again, set up a virtual team meet up for the purpose of introducing and getting to know new team members and each other better. Occasional but regular virtual social gatherings will help maintain a sense of team identity and strengthen teamwork. Just make sure you keep the social meet ups social, and the work meetings work. 
  • Decode the team and organizational language. When you join a team or organization that uses jargon or lots of acronyms it can feel like you need to learn another language just to communicate. Give new team members a head start by familiarizing them with terms, language, jargon, inside jokes, and acronyms the team or organization frequently uses. It could even be a fun team-building activity to work together to create a “dictionary” of such “coded” communication for new team members. 
  • Pair them up with a colleague for support, insight, and learning. This could be a mentor or another team member they need to “shadow” to learn the job. However, it could also be a friendly presence on the team who will help and support the new team member through the process of joining with the team. At a time such as this, in the midst of a pandemic, pairing up will need to happen intentionally but virtually. In a virtual environment it will wise for the veteran team member to make the first move to engage the new team member to start the supporting relationship.
  • Acquaint them with your system and its leaders. More than giving the new team member an organizational chart, help them understand how things are supposed to work (the formal system) and how things actually work (the culture). Personally introduce them to the system leaders. Avoid telling them to “Just go talk to Carlos” or “See the IT coordinator.” Remember, they may not know who Carlos or the IT coordinator is and what they should talk to them about…even if Carlos is the IT coordinator. Acquainting them with your system means teaching them how to get copies made and where to find supplies. It also means introducing them to the Executive Director or CEO and other leaders. While working remotely an email introduction can be used to connect new team members with system leaders.
  • Have serious fun. Integrating a new team member can and should be fun for everyone. Having fun while doing serious work is important for bonding, camaraderie, and moving back to high performance as a team. Whenever and however possible, make welcoming and integrating a new team member an enjoyable experience. 

One last thing. Through all three phases it is important for team leaders to communicate openness to feedback and a willingness to improve the process. One way to do this is to simply ask team members, including the new team member, to suggest ways to improve the process. My own preference is to ask people to tell me how to make something better rather than to tell me about its problems. This appreciative approach ensures the ideas and suggestions I receive are actionable.

Remember, teams change. A change in team membership requires us to step back to an earlier forming stage. It may be tempting to feel discouraged by this slight step back. However, it also presents an opportunity to welcome and integrate a new team member who can help the team attain an even higher level of performance in the future. 


Chickenman – Episode 96 – Only 1 Episode Remaining!

Illogically, Chickenman wreaks havoc on a movie set.


And They’re Off!

The big news this week is the selection of Senator Kamala Harris as Joe Biden’s running mate on the Democratic ticket in this Fall’s presidential election. The selection of Harris has been met, it seems, with broad and enthusiastic approval within the Democratic party. Of course, some Democratic leaning folks will not be pleased with the selection as neither Biden nor Harris is as left leaning as they would like.

On the other side, of course, is Donald Trump and Mike Pence for the Republicans. Trump and Pence have a very solid base of support within the “New” (Trumpian) Republican party. It is less solid among moderates and even among some conservative Republicans who are mounting strong anti-Trump campaigns and have pledged to vote for Biden and Harris. These include Republican Voters Against Trump and The Lincoln Project. Both of these are putting out some strong ads against Trump.

This is going to be one of the most consequential presidential elections in my lifetime and in the history of our country. To be clear, these are not the same lengths of time. I’ll have more to say about the upcoming election later but, for now, I want to make only two points because time is short and timing is important.

First, be sure you do everything necessary to ensure you will be able to vote. Register if you need to register. Request an absentee ballot or mail-in ballot if you have that option. Whatever it takes, please vote. Voting is a right. The right to vote is also a privilege that has set the United States apart from many other countries for more than 200 years. When we fail to exercise our right to vote, we inch closer to losing it altogether.

Second, do everything you can to make sure everyone who is eligible to vote is able to vote. We are seeing some serious efforts to suppress the vote, including tinkering with the United States Postal Service. We cannot allow our ability to vote to be undermined by anyone. As individuals we may have little influence on state and national rules for voting (e.g., mail-in, absentee, etc.) but what we CAN do is offer to help our friends and neighbors vote.

We can do that by offering to help them request mail-in or absentee ballots. If you are reading this blog, it is probably because you have internet and a possess some savvy about how to use it. Some people do not have access to the internet. Some, even if they do, do not have sufficient comfort or skills with it to request ballots or register. We can help, right?

We can help them vote by posting the ballots in the mail for them or even dropping them off at the election office or election drop boxes, as we learned last night we will have here in Maryland. Of course, we can do these things while also maintaining physical distance and remaining safe during the pandemic.

Most importantly, we need to be planning and doing these things NOW. Let’s get to work!

That’s it for today. See you again soon. But, of course, I’ll leave you with a bit Chickenman.


chickenman – episode 90 – Only 7 more after this one!

Chickenman, still dangling over a bowl of lumpy oatmeal placed there by the Very Diabolical, gets an assist from his mother.


July 13, 2020 – News and Info You May Have Missed

Stories of covid-19

So, how is the battle against the Novel Cornavirus going? According to the data, as of yesterday at 2:12 PM, it’s going just GREAT if you are trying to kill off a lot of people in the U.S. Sometimes I wonder if that isn’t the point of Trump’s inaction. Maybe he wins the election by reducing the electorate!?!? Seems a really odd strategy but…geez…weirder things have happened, eh?

Here’s a couple of graphics I grabbed yesterday. First, this one comes from the Harvard Global Health Institute, and you can check out the current data yourself by following the link or just clicking on the map.

This map shows, county by county, the risk levels for each. The redder the county, the higher the risk. In this way the Harvard Global Health Institute folks are trying to answer the question: How severe is the pandemic where you live?

Just a glance of the map tells us a couple of things. First, it’s much less risky to be in the Northeast and the Rocky Mountain region. Not a good idea at all to plan vacation travel to Arizona, Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, Georgia, Texas or Alabama. Each of these states – as whole – are in the red (highest) risk level category.

The scond thing this tells us, because all of the these states are in the “sunbelt” in the midst of summer, the Novel Coronavirus is not being slowed by the outside temperature. You’ll remember this was one of the theories being floated by Trump a few months ago based on a Department of Homeland Security study, which was not peer reviewed. This is a great illustration of why good data matters and, even more, a good process needs to be used to get to the data. By the way, what IS the status of that study? Was it ever completed? Has it been reviewed? After Trump put it out there as yet another one of his “creative” solutions to the virus, it seems to have disappeared…you know…like the virus… in the sunlight, after you drink a gallon of Lysol, and take a few hydroxychloriquine.

I have one more graphic, this one from the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation in Washington State. These are the folks who have been trying to project the number of deaths from the pandemic in the U.S. See below for their latest projection. They are now projecting over 200,000 deaths by November 1. Again, check it out for yourself at the link or by clicking on the graphic.

November 1 – in case you’ve forgotten, this is only two days before the General Election on November 3rd. Please, don’t forget…either this number and to vote.


news and info you may have missed

Maureen Dowd has not exactly been friendly to Joe Biden. She has called him out on some of the faux pas and bad choices he has made over the years. She has a realistic view of who he is. And she has a realistic view of who Trump is. Her column in Satuday’s NY Times is worth reading.

Also worth reading is Ashley Parker and Robert Costa’s piece in the Saturday’s Washington Post. The growing movement of Republicans working against Trump’s reelection seems to be gaining some traction.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a fan of the public radio show On The Media. The July 10th show, 40 Acres, is particularly interesting and informative with regard to housing discrimination and the eviction crisis in the United States. Generally I’m pretty well informed but I do not know much about real estate, financing, and “redlining.” Listening to this show, though, gave me a much better understanding of all of these.

Jo, a regular reader from out West, sent me this great piece from NPR. She and I have worked in the field of sexuality education. She found this story from NPR and passed it on to me, knowing of that part of my professional background. The title of the article says a lot doesn’t it? Starting A COVID-19 ‘Social Bubble’? How Safe Sex Communication Skills Can Help.

Judy, a reader from really far out West, also sent me a piece about the disparties in enforcing stay-at-home emergency orders by Honolulu Police. The Hawai`i Public Radio describes Micronesians, Samoans, and Blacks have been disproportionately cited for violations. Violations in Hawai`i carry some pretty tough penalties – up to $5,000 in fines and a year in jail. However, Hawai`i also has a large homeless population which has further complicated the issue.


Bob dylan, DJ

Another regular reader, Mike, reminded me that Bob Dylan had a radio show on satellite radio back in the early 2000’s. It was called “Theme Time Radio Hour.” I don’t remember if it was on XM Radio or Sirius (before they were joined up and became SiriusXM). I’m inclined to think it was XM Radio because I remember listening to the show a few times and the only subscription I had at that time was to XM.

I found if you open the archive website link in Google Chrome, there will be a player that opens with it to allow you to listen to the show. Firefox may require you to download a player first. If the link above does not open in Chrome, you can cut and paste this link into your Chrome browser: https://www.themetimeradio.com/

The theme for the very first episode was Weather so it featured weather realated music from all genres. Dylan featured music by a wide variety of performers: Muddy Waters, Jimmie Davis, Joe Jones, Dean Martin, Sister Rosetta Tharp, Jimi Hendrix, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder, and one of my all time favorites, Fats Domino.

The show was on for three seasons. Seems like some good Summer time listening!


chickenman – episode 80

Ms. Helfinger continues her breakdown and her visit with the psychiatrist. However, she flips the couch on him!

July 11, 2020 – How To Plan When You Can’t Plan

a musical summer!

Last Friday night Clemencia and I fired up Disney+ and watched Hamilton, a film of the extraordinarily popular Broadway show that won a boatload of Tony’s in 2016. We had to subscribe to Disney+ to see it but, fortunately we got a bundle that includes Hulu and ESPN as well. Weirdly, the cost of the Disney+ for a year is still less expensive than a single seat at most live performances of the show…not that there will be many for the near future.

Okay, for a little more fun with Hamilton, have you seen Weird Al Yankovic’s “The Hamilton Polka?” You’ve got to take five minutes (and one second) to watch it.

If you’ve ever wondered how artist’s react to being parodied by Weird Al, you’ll also enjoy these two links: Lin-Manuel Miranda hears “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “The Hamilton Polka” for the first time and Jimmy Fallon’s interview of Lin-Manuel Miranda and Weird Al, with the story of how it all came together.

We enjoyed Hamilton a lot…in fact, we watched it a second time and let it inspire us to see what other Broadway shows might be available for us to watch this summer. Much to our delight we discovered that PBS is going to start showing Broadway shows on Friday nights as part of its Great Performances: Broadway at Home series. It all begins on PBS on July 24th.

We’ve decided to get an early start by watching several Broadway shows that are also available through streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and, again, Disney+. BroadwayHD is a streaming service that provides access to all kinds of Broadway shows. It is a paid service but at $99.00 a year, it is still less expensive than a ticket for one in the nosebleed section!

how do you plan when you can’t plan?

That’s the question I’ve been helping a number of my clients answer over the past few months. When the pandemic national emergency order was issued on Friday the 13th of March, most of us (except my spouse, Clemencia) were pretty sure this was going to be a two-week bonus vacation, right?

But those two weeks grew into four weeks, then six, then two months, then three months and now we are in our fourth month of an altered reality due to the Novel Coronavirus. Plus, as our understanding the virus changes, it changes how we think about the future – vacation trips, school, working back in our offices with other people (in the flesh), and team sporting events – from junor soccer, to little league, to professional sports.

Let’s be honest. Long-range planning is very difficult, if not impossible, right now. We don’t when, or if, our kids will be in school this Fall. We don’t know if we will be “locked down” again. We don’t have a clue what our lives and our work will look like six weeks from now, not to mention six months.

Such uncertainty is disconcerting and uncomfortable. I have spent the last decade or so becoming comfortable with uncertainty. I have always been a very planful person and I’ve always wanted to know, with a high degree of certainty, what was coming next. Thankfully, I need less certainty today.

Several years ago I became interested in complexity theory and the concept of emergence. Understanding and embracing these has allowed me to help my clients achieve a greater level of peace in the current environment. Planning is an effort to control the uncontrollable. However, there is nothing wrong with planning if we don’t become compulsive about it. In fact, there are good reasons for doing some planning.

It is most valuable when we can think of planning as a form of readiness to adapt when adaptation, or more adaptation, is required. Adaptation is always needed…not just in a highly unpredictable pandemic but at all times because none of us can predict the future. If we could do that, all of us would be rich and all of the casinos and lotteries would have gone broke by now.

At the heart of effective planning in a time of extreme uncertainty there is the need to trust. No, not leaders or other people to save us. We need to trust in a process more than a plan. For example, we may not have a plan for how to get our kids back to school safely, but we need to be able to trust a process for determining how to move forward and yet remain nimble in case circumstances change quickly again. The same is true for re-opening our businesses, bringing people back into work safely, and returning to some sense of life as it was on March 1 rather than March 13.

To trust a process requires us to trust how decisions are made. I have great appreciation for the leader who says, “I’m not exactly sure how we are going to do this, but I know we can figure it out if we consider the information and facts we have, work together on a solution, and be responsible to do our part and follow through.” I have much less appreciation for those who claim to know the answer based on their intuition and “gut.”

If you are leading a team, an organaization, or even a family, try leaning into your uncertainty and trust the process instead of trying to guess your way out of this with a plan. Put down your logic models, theories of change, strategy plans, and organizational charts for a little bit. Just step back and keep your eyes open to the lessons to be learned and the opportunties that are emerging in this new reality.

In brief, trust the process. Know the best answers for this moment will emerge as we move forward as best we can and with openness to those things we can’t see when we overplan. And, remember, you do not have to have all the answers all of the time. Trust that others have answers too.


the view from jeff

chickenman – episode 79

Ms. Helfinger makes an involuntary trip to Dr. Friendly…who sounds a lot like Bela Lugosi. I wonder what he looks like?


June 29, 2020 – Trauma & Organizational Culture

Today is Monday, June 29, 2020 and Hug Holiday Day. This day is designed to encourage people to give hugs to others who need them. It was obviously created before the COVID-19 pandemic. Hugs are great, but not for now. Save the real hug for after we get through the pandemic. Instead, mark the day by giving virtual hugs to people who need them. You can do this by giving them a call, sending them a note, or planning a Zoom meeting with them…unless they are totally exhausted from Zooming already. In which case, give them a hug by NOT inviting them to Zoom.


traumatic disruption and organizational culture

How does an organizational trauma impact it’s culture? This is the focus of another segment of my nearly hour long interview with Lamar Roth, Director of Human Resources at Excel Industries. In the brief conversation below, we talk about how the culture of Excel Industries was impacted by two major traumas. The first was in February 2016 when a gunman entered Excel Industries and began shooting his co-workers. Four employees, including the gunman, died.

The second began in March of this year when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States. In the full interview Lamar talks about ways the two traumas are similar and how they are different. He also describes how the lessons learned in the active shooter experience informed and helped prepare the company to deal with the pandemic.

This 6 minute, 54 second video focuses on the impact of traumatic disruption on the culture of Excel Industries. The full 56-minute video, Leading Through Traumatic and Disruptive Events: A Conversation with Lamar Roth, includes many more insights and recommendations for organizations also dealing with COVID-19.


who will we be?

The word “existential” is defined as “concerned with existence, especially human existence.” Hence, it refers to how we are to be as humans. Who are we? Who will we become?

In barely four months we will have to answer these questions. The next general election on November 3rd is shaping up to be about more than a choice between two old White guys sitting in the Oval Office. The question we have to answer, first as individuals and then as a country, is far more existential than that. Our vote will be an expression of who we wish to be and what we want the country to become.

Okay, that’s it for now. I thought I had a fully baked thought to share on this today, but I don’t. It is still half baked so I’m going to come back to it, I hope, in the future. In the meantime, I’m going to sit with my thoughts about what I want our country to become. I invite you to do the same.


some days, it’s all just too much

I’m realizing that I’m feeling incredibly overwhelmed at the moment. The news today has been devastating. Is it possible that Trump’s love affair with Putin really has caused him to hide his eyes from seeing that American soldiers have died in Afghanistan with a Russian bounty on their heads? Add to this that COVID-19 still has the U.S. in its grip.

Today we have rounded the corner on 125,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. and we are headed toward 130,000 in a few days. If nothing changes in the behavior of Americans, the death toll could be at nearly 180,000 by October 1. Even worse, if Stupid people and Ignorant policies win the day, that projection rises to a higher level. At this point, the U.S., which has prided itself in setting an example for the world on all things (not that we are arrogant or anything) is now an example of what NOT to do with regard to COVID-19. To make matters worse, word comes today that the Novel Coronavirus has mutated and scientists are rushing to figure out what the “G variant” means for us.

One bit of good news, Pence has finally said that wearing a mask is a good idea. Seems too little, too late but at least he said it and he occasionally wears one. For Trump, the only hope is a bit of advice from Randy Rainbow.


chickenman – episode 72

Chickenman attempts to fly to Europe. You can only imagine how that turns out. Yes, that’s right.


June 22, 2020 – The Arc of Change

Today is June 22, 2020 and National Onion Ring Day. It only seems logical, doesn’t it, that tomorrow would be National Breath Mint day? Well, it isn’t, but enjoy the onion rings anyway.


the arc of change

I had a conversation via Zoom this afternoon with my friend Michael, a Black man who lives in Philadelphia. We got acquainted through a mutual friend, also from Philadelphia. Since that introduction, several years have passed and Michael and I have stayed in touch regularly.

Today our conversation turned to the events in the country since the murder of George Floyd. I asked Michael how he assessed things today. “I don’t really think anything is going to change,” was his response. I told Michael that I hoped he was wrong but I feared he was right.

My fears seemed to be justified by the news today. Bubba Wallace, the only Black driver in NASCAR, found that someone had hung a noose in his racecar’s stall at the Talledega Superspeedway in Alabama. Wallace had played a significant role in convincing NASCAR to ban Confederate flags at its races. Wallace was to have competed in yesterday’s GEICO 500. The race was postponed until today because of storms and rain.

The bad weather, however, did not deter some NASCAR fans from defying the rules. A parade of fans carried Confederate flags outside the gates and a small airplane flew over the track with the confederate flag and a banner with the words “Defund NASCAR” trailing. Confederate flag fliers are annoying, but those who leave nooses may have broken the law. Earlier today the Civil Rights Division of the Federal Department of Justice launched an investigation into the incident.

NASCAR drivers, crews, and owners walk and stand in support of Bubba Wallace. Source: Fox Sports.

While I write this blog I have the television above my computer tuned to the local Fox affiliate carrying the GEICO 500 at Talledega today. Before the invocation, a long time tradition in auto racing, someone painted on the infield #I Stand With Bubba. Then everyone – racers, crews, owners – lined up behind Bubba Wallace’s car and walked behind him down the pit road for the invocation and National Anthem. Even “The King” Richard Petty of Petty Motorsports was there to support his driver. Richard Petty is the winningest driver in NASCAR history. He is also a long-time Republican who appeared on stage with Trump at one of his campaign rallies in 2016. Petty, at 82 years old, is at high risk of COVID-19 but decided he wanted to be in Talledega today to stand with his driver. Petty’s actions remind us that doing the right thing should always transcend politics.

Richard Petty tweeted his support for Bubba Wallace only hours before the start of today’s rain postponed GEICO 500 in Alabama.

My friend Michael’s pessimism, the noose in Bubba’s garage, and the confederate flag flying fans at Talledega remind me that the arc of change is slow. However slow it is, it cannot stop. Each of us can contribute to the change by doing everything we can to continue the conversation and keep it alive. That, my friend, is why you are seeing so much about this issue in this blog. I want to do everything I can to see the change through.


chickenman – Episode 66

Chickenman finally tracks down the Hummer and makes the arrest. But, is this the only Hummer?


June 15, 2020 – Go Bubba!

Today is Monday, June 15, 2020, which is also Smile Power Day. Smile Power Day recognizes the power that smiles have to make us happier, make others happier, change our mood, improve relationships, send a great customer service message (if we are in business), and even help us live longer. Hey, if it does all that, I’ll take a bunch!

Thank you!

Since posting yesterday that it was time for us to let one of our miniature schnauzers go back to the universe, we received several comments of condolences and comfort. We appreciate them all. I do have an update, though. After observing that Madison has deteriorated even faster than expected since seeing our vet on Saturday and because she is beginning to experience pain, we decided to move the visit from Peaceful Passage up to Tuesday, the 16th. This blog will post at 8:00 AM on the 16th and we expect that by noon Madison will have gone to the place where all good dogs go. Again, thank you for your kind words.

Go Bubba!: a surprising move by nascar

Boomer’s ol’ #9 after a rather nasty crash in the first turn of the dirt track at the Louisa County Fairgrounds in Columbus Junction, Iowa (circa 1959).

I’ve been a racing fan since I was very young. Iowa has a great tradition of dirt car racing – especially stock cars, sprint cars, etc. When I was a kid, they were known as “jalopy races” and my brother-in-law/father figure Boomer raced a jalopy. He won a few, lost a few, and crashed a few in his run as a dirt track racer.

My oldest friend (in terms of length of time, not age) is Mark who still lives in my hometown. Mark and I started going to races together before we even entered kindergarten. Most auto racing at that time was on dirt horse racing tracks at county fairgrounds in Iowa. Since Iowa has 99 counties, there were race tracks everywhere. The Mississippi Valley Speed Club (MVSC) was the sanctioning body for jalopy races in Southeast Iowa. Racing rotated from one track to another, about six in all, each Saturday night. While refreshing my memory on this, I came across an amazing finding! Someone digitized a Super 8 reel of MVSC racing from the 1950’s and 60’s and posted it on YouTube. You won’t get to hear the roar of the engines nor smell the fumes, but you can see some of the action in this 11 minute video.

Video by Mark Kleindolph

When we graduated from high school, I bought a rusted out 1956 Chevy for $50 to convert into a racecar. Mark and I originally had started to work on a 1952 Pontiac but the thing was built like a tank. It was just too difficult to make the modifications necessary. We stripped the 1956 Chevy, Mark put rollbars in it, and, then he took the engine out of his own rebuilt 1957 Chevy and put it into the racecar. Our first race was in West Liberty, Iowa where we didn’t fare very well. Mark got forced off the track in the backstretch and ended up clipping off an infield light pole. My run as an owner lasted only one season, but Mark’s run as a driver and racecar builder lasted a lot longer. Eventually he got some good sponsorship and he competed in the NASCAR dirt circuit. He won track and season championships at many of the race tracks we went to as kids. Of course, by the time he was racing in the 70’s and 80’s, the tracks were redesigned for much faster cars with high banking in the turns.

As kids, Mark’s favorite driver was a driver named Mark Mosier (#17) and mine was a guy name Mike Niffenegger (#76). Though I’d like to think that Mike beat Mark on a regular basis, Mark really had excellent cars and usually won. However, there was this one night I remember very clearly when Mike got the best of Mark in an unusual way. It was at the start of the feature event and as the cars were accelerating, Mike’s drive shaft broke which sent his car tumbling end-over-end in front of the grandstand until it landed on top of Mark’s car. Both were miraculously unhurt, but, of course, both were out for the rest of the feature. Alas, Mike did get the best of Mark that evening. I love the photo from that accident! Notice Mike sitting on top of his car waiting to be helped down.

Growing up in very White, very rural Iowa, jalopy/stock car racing was also very White. In fact, I don’t recall ever seeing any Black drivers in the sport through the years that I followed it closely, which was well into my 30’s and 40’s. When I go back to Iowa, I usually try to take in a stock car race while I’m there. In fact, Clemencia goes with me. She saw her first one several years ago and to my shock and delight, she loved it! In fact, her dog walking hat is a souvenir ball cap we got with the 34 Raceway logo on it. In the few times I’ve been back to the raceways in Iowa since moving to the East Coast, I have seen more diverse audiences but not so much the drivers.

The same is true in NASCAR. In fact, there is only one Black driver and his name is Bubba Wallace. He was born in Mobile, Alabama but began his NASCAR career at the age of 19 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. He finished 9th in that race in 2012. I haven’t followed much NASCAR for a few years but when I read an article about Bubba last year, I started following him. I still don’t get to watch much NASCAR but, when I do, Bubba Wallace is my guy.

When Bubba was 15 years old he was the youngest driver to ever win at Franklin County Speedway in Virginia. Since entering NASCAR Bubba Wallace has distinguished himself on and off the racetrack. Seven other Black men have been drivers in NASCAR but none has had the level of success of Bubba Wallace. He’s finished 2nd in the Daytona 500, 3rd in the Brickyard 400 (Indianapolis), and won the NASCAR Truck Series – and he is still early in his career. His potential was recognized by the winningest driver in NASCAR history, Richard Petty, when in 2018 Bubba Wallace was selected to drive Petty’s own legendary #43 in NASCAR.

However, last week Bubba distinguished himself off the track in a different way that took as much, if not more, courage climbing behind the wheel of his racecar. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the protests, he called on NASCAR to ban the presence of the Confederate flag at all of its race venues. To everyone’s surprise NASCAR did just that, going against all of the Southern “good ol’ boy” tradition that had perpetuated the display of the flag for so many years. Shortly after that, Wallace’s sponsor, Petty Enterprises, announced a new design for the #43, which had worn “Petty Blue” for many years. The new design would be all black, with #BlackLivesMatter on each side near the rear of the car, and white and black hands clenched together in unity on the hood.

Bubba Wallace’s new NASCAR #43. Retrieved from Yahoo! Finance.

Bubba Wallace is realistic. He has gotten a lot of support from other drivers but he also knows the support is not universal, especially among fans. Only seven other Black drivers have ever started in a NASCAR race in its 70+ years. He is still the only Black driver in NASCAR today. However, he has demonstrated an extraordinary level of leadership. At age 26 he has found his voice and seized the leadership moment. As a result, NASCAR has made a move away from its culture that I never thought was possible. The next test for Bubba Wallace and NASCAR will be in Talledega, AL for the GEICO 500 on Father’s Day, June 21 at 2:00 PM. This dad will be watching it from home and cheering on #43.


Free Resource for funding collaborations

My friend and colleague, Kimberley Jutze of Shifting Patterns Consulting, has just put out a terrific free resourse. Kimberley, who has a deep background in fund development, has drawn on her expertise and experience to write The Secret to Collaborative Resource Development. She is making it available at her website. Just follow the link and scroll to the bottom of the page where you will find resources, including this paper. The paper highlights the 4Ps of Collaborative Resource Development which are intended to help coalitions, collaborations, and collective change leadership groups bring the needed resources to their efforts. It is an excellent paper and Kimberley is also available to help your group put the 4Ps into action. Check it out!


chickenman – episode 59

Chickenman prepares to race the Bear Lady to his grandmother’s house…if he can get his mind off of Smokey the Bear.


June 11, 2020 – Speaking of Creepy Things…

Today is Thursday, June 11, 2020, also known as, National Corn on the Cob Day. There is no more fitting day for a guy from Iowa than this one! June seems a bit early for a celebration of corn on the cob (it usually isn’t ready for picking and eating until August). Still, any day is a good day for corn on the cob when you can get it…especially if it is fresh picked.


in praise of corn on the cob and small family farms

The ugliest worm in the world…especially if you’ve got to pick it off the tomato plant to get to the tomato.

As a kid, I don’t think I ever ate corn on the cob that wasn’t fresh picked from the garden. It was a staple in our family garden and a wonderful summer treat. We had a very large garden. It was a lot of work but it yielded most of our vegetables for the winter once they were canned. I remember there were lots of tomato plants, cabbage, rows of leafy lettuce, potatoes, carrots, green beans, rhubarb, and strawberries. Unfortunately, I also remember tomato worms. They still creep me out.

In those days my family rarely went to grocery stores, except to get flour, sugar, spices, and coffee. Our hogs, cattle, chickens, geese, goats, sheep, and garden provided everything else.

That is what it was like to live on a small Midwestern family farm in that era. We produced enough to feed ourselves and any extra was shared with neighbors. In the case of eggs and cream, they could be sold for a little extra cash.

The shifting of the U.S. economy from agrarian to industrial meant a lot of changes. Farms were industrialized too with the introduction of corporate farming. Small family farms couldn’t compete. As a result many disappeared and others became part of a corporate farm. A few, with a little help from some pretty big loans, simply became corporate farms.

Our journey to the grocery store yesterday, for the first time since March, was striking because of the absence of many items. As the pandemic wears on, my fear is that we will continue to see a growing shortage of groceries and an escalation in price. Part of the shortage is related to over-production on coroporate farms. The “just in time” corporate supply chain of farm to table is dependent on that chain remaining unbroken. When it breaks, as it did this Spring, the corporate farms can suddenly have too much product on their hands that they can’t move even if they could sell it. As a result, they end up dumping milk, euthanizing animals, and plowing under fields of vegetables and fruit. At the same time, thousands, if not millions, across the country are food insecure and going hungry.

It is unlikely that small family farms could have managed to meet the demand brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic any better than the corporate farms of today. However, small family farming operates under a different spirit that says we’ll not only feed ourselves, but we’ll make sure our neighbors have food too. This “can do” spirit seems absent in corporate farming except in a few exceptional cases.

Can we see a few more of those exceptional corporate farmers step up, please? People, including children, are getting hungry out here.


speaking of creepy things…

TravelFuntu! just appeared in my Twitter feed today with an absolutely irresistible promise, The Most Terrifying Images Captured by A Drone. When you navigate to the site, you find a slightly different title that has a mild calming effect, Scary Images Captured by Drone. Twitter did oversell the images but they are scary, especially as you consider what was happening in may of the photos that people in them just didn’t see. I also found the photos mesmerizing and meditative. You’ll do a lot of scrolling to see each of the photos but it is worth it. Let me know what you think.


Chickenman – Episode 55

Chickenman is duped into joining a protest against the Midland City Library, conveniently located across the street from the Police Commissioner’s office.


June 1, 2020 – Another Leadership Moment Lost

Welcome to The Daily Drivel!

Today is not only June 1st, it is Dare Day! Here’s a fun and interesting dare for any day – I dare you to think about somebody you’d like to know better and then ask them this question: “Tell me one story from your life that helps me understand better who you are today and how you got here.”


another leadership moment lost

We all need to be ready for those moments when our leadership is on the line and the fate or fortune of others depends on what we do.

…I take leadership to signify the act of making a difference.

Michael Useem, The Leadership Moment (1998)

Last night we watched another leadership moment come…and go…again. We were watching our local 11:00 PM news as it covered the protests and riots outside the White House, barely 20 miles from our home. We saw protesters and police, fires and rioters in an area of Washington we know well, only blocks from where I used to commute into work each day.

Posted on Facebook by MKW

The protests in Washington, as those in New York City, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Los Angelese, Miami, and a many other cities were against the brutal inhumanity that murdered George Floyd (be sure to watch this video of the timeline of Mr. Floyd’s death compiled from security and cell phone video). George Floyd died on May 25th – one week ago – at the hands of police in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Early that same day, the day Mr. Floyd died, I wrote an open letter to the President of the United States. In that letter, with reference to the pandemic, I asked him to be his best self for the sake of the country. It would not be fair to say he ignored me because I’m quite sure he never saw my letter. I would have been pleased if he had but I my expectations are realistic. However, sometimes things just need to be said.

At the same time, I did not expect the brutal death of Mr. Floyd and the extraordinary crisis upon extraordinary crisis in which we are now living. If any President were ever a real leader, these crises were leadership moments which could not be allowed to pass. But they did pass the current President of the United States.

The President has not only ignored or been unhelpful in healing the country wracked with the deaths of over 100,000+ people from COVID-19, he has done the same in the death of George Floyd. He has played golf on one of his golf courses, traveled to Florida to watch a rocket launch, and he has hidden in his underground bunker, he has berated governors for not “dominating” the protesters, and he has preened for a photo opportunity in front of a church he rarely attends, holding up a Bible so new looking one wonders if it has ever been opened or read. The church, a block from the White House, had to be cleared of protesters by Federal authories usings rubber bullets and tear gas to make a path for the President to have his photo op. However, he has not tried bringing people together, he has not tried comforting the grieving, he has not tried binding the wounds, and he has not tried to put out the fires of the pandemic and the racism he has fueled. He has missed, again and again, the leadership moment. He has failed and he continues to fail.


What’s Your Message Now?

CBS Sunday Morning had a very interesting segment on advertising this last Sunday. Many nonprofits do not actually “advertise” but they do “promote” their services. This segment looked at the ways advertising has changed since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. I found this to be a relevant and thought-provoking segment to recommend to nonprofit leaders and their organizations. Give it a look!


truth be told with winthrop dykstra-Baum

Winthrop Dykstra-Baum here with “Truth Be Told.” Today I’m interviewing, again, Tom Klaus.

  • Me: Could you move away from me just a bit, Winthrop? When I agreed to do this interview with you, you said you’d be wearing a mask and keeping at least six feet from me.
  • Winthrop: Yes, but that was before I started taking hydroxycholriquine and now there is no danger.
  • Me: Um, that’s not true, Winthrop. You could still be a carrier and, besides, the best science says that hydroxycholoriquine could be dangerous for you.
  • Winthrop: Well, this is my show and I can do what I like.
  • Me: It might be your show, Winthrop, but if you aren’t going to mask up and keep a safe distance, I’m going to ask you to leave.
  • Winthrop: Fine! (Frustratedly putting on a mask). Happy now?
  • Me: Yes, now if you’ll take about two steps back, please.
  • Winthrop (stepping back): Satisfied?
  • Me: Yes, much better. Now, go ahead.
  • Winthrop: I’ll try but I can hardly breathe under this ridiculous mask. (Pause) I understand you are no longer writing “Stories of COVID-19 and Sheltering-In-Place.” Is that right?
  • Me: Yes, that is true, Winnie.
  • Winthrop: That would be, “Winthrop,” please.
  • Me: My apologies…yes, that is true Winthrop. I’ll still be including some stories of COVID-19 but I’m changing the focus a bit of the new blog, The Daily Drivel.
  • Winthrop: The Daily Drivel?” Already it sounds more realistic and accurate.
  • Me: I’m not sure how you mean that, Winthrop.
  • Winthrop: I mean that “Stories of COVID-19,” frankly, from a journalistic perspective, was pretty lousy. At least this blog says that right up front. What guarantee do we have that this new blog is going to uphold the highest journalistic standards, like I do?
  • Me: It isn’t journalism, Winthrop. It is more like a personal journal and you and others are invited to read it. I don’t make any claims to be a journalist. I like to write, I have a sense of humor, I have a life, I have opinions, and I like to write about them in this blog.
  • Winthrop: So it isn’t journalism, yet you still expect people to take it seriously?
  • Me: Well, you claim to be a journalist, Winthrop, but not everybody takes you seriously. I mean, seriously, any decent journalist knows you don’t take hyroxycholoriquine to prevent COVID-19. There is just no science to back it up.
  • Winthrop: This isn’t about me, you are the interview subject. You can stop dodging my question anytime you like.
  • Me: I’m not dodging your question. In fact I’ll answer it right now. I expect people to take The Daily Drivel for what it is…a place to begin or end the day, to hang out, get a smile, read a rant or two, and, on occasion, even learn something new.
  • Winthrop: “Even learn something new.” There it is, Truth Be Told! You expect people to learn something new hence you are covertly trying to pass this off as real journalism!
  • Me: Really, Winthrop, is that what you think? I’m making no claims of real journalism – just real drivel. You see things when they aren’t there, Winthrop, just to be able to shout “Truth Be Told!” in people’s faces. Are you sure the hydroxychoriquine isn’t getting to you?
  • Winthrop: No, I’m fine, but, wait…I need to wrap this…it is time for my next dose.

Chickenman – episode 45

Chickenman enjoys a dinner at one of his favorite Midland City restaurants.


Stay safe, be well, keep calm, keep washing your hands, and keep wearing your mask.

Tom