Mexicans and Muslims; Policy and Communications

mexicans
I do not believe Donald Trump is racist, and I don’t think people need to fear that.

When I temporarily made my business inactive in 1996 so that I could go to work for an Ontario cabinet minister, I was delighted to learn that the process of government divides much of its activities into two distinct categories: policy and communications.

Up until that time, I had never been exposed to that kind of binary thinking. Policy, and communications. Hopefully the policy development is done first (although, sometimes governments want to say something they believe will be popular having NO idea whether the policy is even achievable. That’s a real crapshoot).

In a perfect world, the “order of operations” is this:

  1. Develop policy.
  2. Communicate policy.

In the best cases, the communications team is aware of the policy development in process and attends early meetings to identify issues and opportunities.

Then, after stakeholders have been consulted and policy has been developed and approved, communications takes over to roll out the announcement.

In my career I have seen terrific policy initiatives supported by great communications work. I have seen poor policy initiatives die a quick death despite Herculean communications efforts. But the worst thing to see, as a communications professional, is good and helpful policy buried by terrible communications.

Famed presidential speechwriter Peggy Noonan once stated, “Great speeches are based on great policy.” In other words, you can be the best orator in the world but if you have nothing of substance to announce or to promote, it’s all just a lot of hot air and platitudes. If government decided to drop the tax rate by 20 per cent, anyone could write that speech and anyone could deliver it, and it would be well received. If government decided to raise the tax rate 20 per cent, the best speaker in the world would still be ducking rotten tomatoes. Great speeches are based on great policy.

The idea that policy and communications are two wholly distinctive-but-dependent areas is not one a lot of people outside of government grasp. In fact, I once attended a professional development day at which I was asked to state my purpose in life. In front of a room full of salespeople and businesspersons, I stood up and announced:

“I hope to prevent great policy from ever being destroyed by poor communications.”

The entire room full of business people sat there, mystified. No one had a clue what I meant. Most people simply don’t divide life into “policy” and “communications.” They don’t even want to try.

Which brings me to Donald Trump and his comments on Mexicans and Muslims.

Way back in the early days of the presidential campaign, Trump gave speeches and interviews talking about preventing illegal immigration from Mexio, and halting all immigration by Muslims.

I doubt these words were edited by any professional speechwriter; he just opened his mouth and out they came. I also do not believe he was referring to any specific policy that he had developed with knowledgeable people, after having discerned what was possible and advisable to do and what was not.

He was simply aware that many, many Americans were heartily sick of illegal immigration from Mexico, and very frightened at the prospect of continued jihadist attacks on American soil. So he just opened his mouth out came a lot of words on the topic. He was engaging in communications in the total absence of any policy development at all. I do not believe Donald Trump is racist and I don’t believe people need to fear that. I do believe he did a lot of damage with his early communications.

It has been interesting to note how his words have evolved over the past many weeks. On illegal immigration from Mexico at his kickoff speech he said:

“The US has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems.

And these aren’t the best and finest.

When Mexico sends its people they’re not sending their best.

They’re not sending you.

They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with them.

They’re bringing drugs.

They’re bringing crime.

They’re rapists.

And some, I assume, are good people. …but we don’t know. Because we have no protection, and no competence. But we don’t know. It’s gotta stop, and it’s gotta stop fast.”

 

When I read these words, I don’t interpret that he is smearing all Mexicans; I think he is referring to the ones who break the law by crossing into the US illegally. I assume he thinks the “best and the finest” are staying home in Mexico while Mexico assists the “people that have lots of problems” with exiting the country for the US (and for those of us old enough to recall the Mariel Boatlift, when Castro emptied his prisons and mental hospitals and shipped those Cuban citizens to Florida, this does not seem a completely far-fetched idea).

Compare that first speech to the language posted to the “Positions” section of his campaign website:

“Protect the economic well-being of the lawful immigrants already living here by curbing uncontrolled foreign worker admissions

  • Select immigrants based on their likelihood of success in the U.S. and their ability to be financially self-sufficient.
  • Vet applicants to ensure they support America’s values, institutions and people, and temporarily suspend immigration from regions that export terrorism and where safe vetting cannot presently be ensured.
  • Enforce the immigration laws of the United States and restore the Constitutional rule of law upon which America’s prosperity and security depend.”

 

Obviously somewhere between his campaign launch and election day, a team of policy analysts began to flesh out the relevant policy, and some communications professionals massaged the language. Had he used these words in his launch speech rather than his own emotional diatribe, perhaps he might not have been labelled a racist. Maybe he would have been anyway. In any case, he tapped into an important zeitgeist and Americans voted him president, so it is not for policy/comms wonks to tell him he was wrong. Not a one of us has been elected president.

These ARE the policies Americans voted for. It would be a shame if poor communications defeat effective policy before good, smart people even have a chance to write the policy.

With regard to Muslims and immigration to the United States, his first statement from December 7, 2015 read:

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

Currently, the Position statement on his campaign website reads:

“Vet applicants to ensure they support America’s values, institutions and people, and temporarily suspend immigration from regions that export terrorism and where safe vetting cannot presently be ensured.”

That is QUITE the evolution in language: the issue now becomes “regions that export terrorism” rather than “Muslims.” We have not yet heard how it will be determined that a region is a “terror-exporting” region, but then, Trump hasn’t even been sworn in yet. Let’s give him a month or two to get the experts working on this. Let’s have faith that they can develop effective policy. Let’s not kill the initiative through hysterical communications before we even have a clue about the specifics of what is being proposed.

Finally, I encourage everyone to read Trump’s “Contract with America” which was released with his Gettysburg Speech. Surely there will be items here with which readers take exception, but it would be great if when people debate whether or not his policies are sound or will be helpful, they had some background on what his stated policies ARE.

It would be a terrible shame if solid policies being proposed die on the vine because of off-the-cuff communications from the first month of his campaign.  America deserves better.

-30-

Whew, I think I’m done now!

Love and best wishes,

Rita

 

 

 

 

 

 

#8 Grab her by the pussy

trump-stupid
Trump has said some stupid things. He has acknowledged this.

I have six brothers.

Growing up in Detroit, we lived in a small house in which the entire attic area was converted to a sort of dormitory where all six boys slept. My sister and I slept in a tiny gable room just off of their bedroom.

Many days, I woke up to the sound of them “jaw-jacking:” lying in bed and calling across the room, they competed over a wide range of topics including who could bench press the most weight; who had the longer newspaper route; who earned the most money; who could pole vault the highest.

I knew they were jaw-jacking, because they SAID so all the time, as in, “You can’t press 225! Don’t give me your jaw-jacking!”

My sons continued the proud and time-honoured tradition of jaw-jacking, elevating it to such illustrious heights that I long ago immortalized it in one of my favourite columns, “Invisible Toast.” All mothers of sons should read this piece; it will give you a great insight into jaw-jacking. It ends with this exchange:

“You two,” I fumed one day after listening to an hour of arguing on some mundane topic. “On your deathbeds, you’ll still be arguing over Invisible Toast!”

“Yeah, we will,” Dave, now an army officer, agreed completely. “And my invisible toast will be so much more rad than Tom’s!”

“In your dreams,” sneered Tom, now an economist. “You will only wish your invisible toast could compare to mine, you loser!”

In between listening to my brothers  jaw-jack and listening to my sons jaw-jack, I was out in the working world, listening to men jaw-jack. I was a waitress for a decade, from age 12 to 22. I was young with long hair, nice legs and enormous boobs. ENORMOUS. (I had them reduced some years later, thankfully; but to be fair, those boobs earned me a lot of generous tips from men who were happy just to see them.)

Working as a cocktail waitress, I was a magnet for every lech in the bar. In the 1980s, I assumed the groping and the pinching was part of the job, until one day the bar manager, Patti, asked me: “Is that guy grabbing you?”

“Yes,” I replied. “I try to stay away from him.”

“Drop a cup of hot coffee in his lap,” she directed me.

“Ouch!” I winced, imagining the pain. “Couldn’t I drop a cold beer?”

“Coffee is cheaper,” she pointed out, reasonably. I was allowed to use my liquid of choice; but he would not be groping me any longer. Her explicit support boosted my confidence tremendously.

Patti was also the person who stopped business dead one night when a raucous crowd of soccer fans overwhelmed the bar. We were scrambling to get everyone served, but evidently we weren’t moving quickly enough because one of the men at the counter started whistling at me to get my attention.

“HEY!!!!” Patti bellowed at the line-up of waiting men. “NOBODY WHISTLES AT THE STAFF IN THIS BAR!!!”

The crowd fell silent for just a moment as this sunk in; then the roar began again with lots of talking, laughing, and cheering – but no whistling. I was impressed.

It would be nice to think that men objectifying women was a practice that went out of vogue in the 1980s, however the very fact that Hooter’s exists leads me to believe there are still vestigial remnants of that dark age.

I survived it, and in fact, I gave my daughter this piece of advice when she was just four years old in the case that someone touched her when she did not want to be touched:

“You just shout at the top of your lungs, ‘Get your fucking hands off of me,’” I instructed her. “Embarrass him in front of everyone.” 

“I’ve never forgotten that you told me that,” Johannah told me 20 years later. “It was good advice.” 

So, what’s my point here?

  • Men jaw-jack. Maybe over money, athletic prowess or their style with women, but they jaw-jack.
  • Men are attracted to pretty women. In years past, it was more acceptable to actually touch them. This is not acceptable any longer, which is great.
  • One way or another, women can put a stop to the touching. My daughter figured this out at four years old; surely a mature woman can understand the concept.

Donald Trump’s “grab her by the pussy” jaw-jacking with Billy Bush was stupid*. Touching women who don’t want to be touched is unacceptable.

Was this the end of the world?

No.

Now, can we get on with creating jobs and restoring world peace? I think there are a number of actual Yazidi sex slaves in Syria who would appreciate getting some help.

-30-

*CLARIFICATION: Donald Trump was wrong to do this. Not just stupid, but wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I support Donald Trump and wish him – and all of America – great success

trump

Contents

Intro. 1

The Art of the Deal 2

The Apprentice. 2

Jean Chretien and Money in American Elections. 3

The Absolute Corruption of American Mainstream Media. 3

The Stinking, Festering, Fetid Cesspool which is the Clinton Foundation. 5

Having Skin Thick Enough to Work for Bombastic, Boorish Men. 5

Grab her by the pussy

Mexicans and Muslims; Policy and Communications

In Conclusion (for now)….. 6

 

 

Intro

 

It’s been a long week for Donald Trump supporters, especially those courageous enough to say so publicly.

I’m in a bit of a unique position, as I was born in the U.S. but moved to Canada when I was 12. I chose Canadian citizenship – for which I had to work very hard – and have never voted in the United States. However as a business person who is politically engaged, I take a keen interest in what goes on during electoral races in both nations.

I tried really hard not to offend people during this election campaign. My Facebook page, which I update almost every day, was virtually a “politics free” zone: I learned very quickly that while posts which feature food, dogs, and humourous anecdotes remain very popular, any mention of Donald Trump was immediately incendiary. So, I kept my opinions mostly to myself, although I did venture to comment on others’ posts every now and then.

Since the election, a number of people have written me (usually through private message, as though we are secretively whispering in a closet) to ask why I support Trump, whom they assume to be an absolute ogre. Rather than reply in detail to another private message, I’ve decided to lay it all out here in a blog I can share with everyone.

The Art of the Deal

Almost 30 years ago, I read Trump’s book “The Art of the Deal.” I was just starting out in business, and that book helped me a lot. The advice, and the attitude, was a gift.

In particular, Trump relays a story about a building he wanted to renovate and sell, but the City of New York would not permit it. He was tied up for years, which would seem like a negative, but meanwhile the real estate market was skyrocketing and when he was finally allowed to complete the deal, the price had escalated wildly and he profited hugely. “Delay is not always a bad thing,” he surmised, advising businesspeople to be patient.

A decade later, my partner and I purchased a giant house at a ludicrously low price. Because we were not in a rush to move, we started with a stink bid and only increased incrementally over the months; eventually the owners became as desperate as we were patient, and we got the house for tens of thousands of dollars less than the asking price. That house tripled in value while I owned it. Lesson learned; thank you, Donald Trump.

The Wollman Ice Rink story happened around the same time: New York City was trying to renovate Wollman Ice Rink in Central Park. Donald Trump could look out the window of his office and see the ongoing chaos. For seven long years, he watched hapless workers start and stop the renovations.

Finally, he got so sick of the incompetence, he approached Mayor Ed Koch and asked the City to let him to take over the project. He finished it in four months, under budget. Now he looks out his window at kids skating; isn’t that better? What if he could do that for federal government projects?

The Apprentice

I loved “The Apprentice” and watched every episode of the first few seasons religiously. It became a bit repetitive as the years went by, but the first 3 or 4 seasons were PACKED with really great business insights and advice.

Trump always had one male and one female executive – usually George and Caroline – to follow the teams’ progress, report back, and advise him in the boardroom. I have always been mystified that the only thing people remember from the boardroom is Trump saying, “You’re fired!” because I found that if you paid attention, Trump and his executives gave out incredibly valuable assessments and advice to the young people at the table.

In one episode, Apprentices were given a house to renovate and sell. The team that made the most profit won. One team, led by a swaggering, confident young man, spent days and thousands of dollars renovating their house.

“He spent all that time and money, and he didn’t even add a fourth bedroom?” Trump asked George incredulously. “It’s still going to be advertised as a three bedroom house. What was he thinking?”

In Season One, the teams started out as “The Men” versus “The Women.” The women kicked the men’s’ butts repeatedly, episode after episode.

About mid-season, Trump called everyone to the boardroom and announced they were going to have to shuffle the teams, because the men were being trounced so badly. “Again, the men are taking a beating??!!” he noted with dismay. Trump worried they would have no show if he allowed the women to continue their victory run.

He had no problem publicly acknowledging the women’s superior performance. No woman who has ever worked for him has come forward to complain about their treatment or career experience. Fast forward to 2016, and he’s now a sexist, misogynistic pig. When did that happen? What did I miss?

 

Jean Chretien and Money in American Elections

As a card-carrying Conservative, I disagreed with former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien on many, many things. However, his legislation to put limits on election spending was a stroke of genius, one of the greatest things he ever could have done for Canada.

I’ve run federal campaigns. We get to spend roughly $1 per voter during the Writ period. Woo boy! You need to be creative and heavily volunteer-dependent to run a campaign on about $90,000.

The money spent on US elections is appalling – some reports say Hillary Clinton spent $1 billion on her 2016 campaign. The Super PAC system is insane! It appears that it was designed to help cheaters cheat. How can Americans stomach this? It has spawned a massive election industry with a voracious appetite for uncontrolled spending. It has become a self-perpetuating machine of manipulation and, I think, corruption.

Years before Donald Trump stepped forward to run, I used to muse over how great it would be if he would decide to run: he could fund his own campaign. He wouldn’t owe donors, or lobbyists, or any political operatives. He would be, truly, just about the only human being in the country that could do what needed to be done.

I was thrilled when he decided to run, hoping he would turn down all large donors and give himself  a clear shot at reforming US election finance. I keep my fingers crossed that he will. I do not think Americans will see another opportunity like this, ever. Not in a decade, not in a generation, not in a century. Never.

No matter what else he might screw up, if he could get this one thing right, it would be worth all the stress Americans are feeling.

 

The Absolute Corruption of American Mainstream Media

If it were not for the alternative media in the US, it would have no media at all

I haven’t trusted a single thing I’ve heard through the US mainstream media for many years now, and generally rely upon foreign sources and alternative media any time I hope to find out what might actually be going on. Calling up someone who lives there is also a better strategy than watching the news.

Sharyl Attkison’s book “Stonewalled” confirmed all of my worst fears. I read it and recommended it to friends long before the election started; since the election began, she has done a fantastic job of documenting the horrific abuse of public trust in which the American media has engaged. I won’t attempt to summarize her work here but highly recommend you read some of the articles on her website, especially the post-election ones.

It is perfectly clear now that the American mainstream media were not reporting the news during 2016: they were a propaganda machine for Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Party, spewing an endless series of smears against first Bernie Sanders, and then Donald Trump. I actually watched CNN anchor Chris Cuomo announce it was illegal for Americans to read the WikiLeaks releases, but it was legal for media to read them. Americans, he said with a straight face, were to rely only on the media for interpretation of the WikiLeaks releases. Actually, anybody can read all the WikiLeaks releases they want, although too few do. It’s a hard slog; thank goodness for the alternative media reporters who actually do so. Not that you will ever see much of the information in the mainstream.

The false stories generated by mainstream media no doubt impacted voters’ decisions during this election. I have been both sad and alarmed to hear young people – and some not-so-young people – reiterate to me the frightening, fictitious tripe about Donald Trump they have heard in the news. I have made it a constant commitment to go looking for these statements, exactly as spoken by Trump. I couldn’t find any of them. He never said all Mexicans are rapists; if he ever said he was going to overturn the same-sex marriage ruling, I can’t find it. Correct me if I’m wrong. I made it a point to go to YouTube to listen to his speeches in their entirety, and his website to read his policy statements.

His Gettysburg speech was particularly good, laying out a massive policy agenda with which everyone can monitor him and hold him accountable. One throw-away sentence, that he planned to sue the women who falsely accused him of sexual assault, became the entire mainstream media story. They reported nothing on the substantial policy commitments in his “Contract with America.”

Here are just a few. What is not to like? Please read the whole release.

  • FIRST, propose a Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress;
  • SECOND, a hiring freeze on all federal employees to reduce federal workforce through attrition (exempting military, public safety, and public health);
  • THIRD,a requirement that for every new federal regulation, two existing regulations must be eliminated;
  • FOURTH, a 5 year-ban on White House and Congressional officials becoming lobbyists after they leave government service;
  • FIFTH, a lifetime ban on White House officials lobbying on behalf of a foreign government;
  • SIXTH,a complete ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections.

 

The Stinking, Festering, Fetid Cesspool which is the Clinton Foundation

Over the past 40 years, an astonishing number of people who worked around the Clintons turned up dead; I won’t even try to repeat any of the accusations in this essay, but I highly recommend you view “The Clinton Bodycount” if you have not already. Cripes, three people died in summer 2016! It’s just incredible.

I will, however, express my incredulity around the fact that the Clinton Foundation, the Clinton Global Institute and an entire web of entities incorporated as charitable organizations has been allowed to mushroom and solicit billions of dollars in funds from international donors – WHILE Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.

Do Americans have absolutely NO concept of a “conflict of interest”? I just finished going through the process of renewing my Secret Clearance to work for the federal government of Canada. They wouldn’t sign me off until they knew the date of my mother’s death 30 years ago. Hillary can take $20 million from Saudi Arabia, and no one has a problem with that? Puh-leeeeeez.

The Clinton Foundation was established in order to create a presidential library in Arkansas. Twenty years later, it’s running a gold mine in Haiti. Not a figurative gold mine: a LITERAL gold mine.

Again, I can’t possibly do justice to the work others have done researching this file, but I highly HIGHLY recommend you listen to some of the excellent interviews with financial analyst Charles Ortel, who specializes in studying charities on behalf of his clients. He also has a website on which you can read his papers.

 

Having Skin Thick Enough to Work for Bombastic, Boorish Men

 

My biggest client is one of the smartest businesswomen I have ever been privileged to know. She was shocked to learn that I was a Trump supporter.

“But Rita, don’t you want to see a woman as president?” she gasped.

“Yeah, I’d love to, but I would hope it would be a woman who was not completely corrupt,” I sighed.

“Rita, how could you possibly support Donald Trump, with all the things he’s said?”

“Well, don’t forget, I’ve worked for a lot of men in politics that others hated. I know what it is like to be hated in politics. I worked for Mike Harris, and we supported Ralph Klein. I worked for Stephen Harper. It has been my experience that often, the men who do the most good for citizens offend the most people along the way. It doesn’t surprise me,” I pointed out. “I grew up in Detroit where our greatest hero was Henry Ford, who, apparently, was a total asshole. It seems to come with the territory.”

Grab her by the pussy

I have six brothers.

Growing up in Detroit, we lived in a small house in which the entire attic area was converted to a sort of dormitory where all six boys slept. My sister and I slept in a tiny gable room just off of their bedroom.

Many days, I woke up to the sound of them “jaw-jacking:” lying in bed and calling across the room, they competed over a wide range of topics including who could bench press the most weight; who had the longer newspaper route; who earned the most money; who could pole vault the highest.

I knew they were jaw-jacking, because they SAID so all the time, as in, “You can’t press 225! Don’t give me your jaw-jacking!”

My sons continued the proud and time-honoured tradition of jaw-jacking, elevating it to such illustrious heights that I long ago immortalized it in one of my favourite columns, “Invisible Toast.” All mothers of sons should read this piece; it will give you a great insight into jaw-jacking. It ends with this exchange:

“You two,” I fumed one day after listening to an hour of arguing on some mundane topic. “On your deathbeds, you’ll still be arguing over Invisible Toast!”

“Yeah, we will,” Dave, now an army officer, agreed completely. “And my invisible toast will be so much more rad than Tom’s!”

“In your dreams,” sneered Tom, now an economist. “You will only wish your invisible toast could compare to mine, you loser!”

In between listening to my brothers  jaw-jack and listening to my sons jaw-jack, I was out in the working world, listening to men jaw-jack. I was a waitress for a decade, from age 12 to 22. I was young with long hair, nice legs and enormous boobs. ENORMOUS. (I had them reduced some years later, thankfully; but to be fair, those boobs earned me a lot of generous tips from men who were happy just to see them.)

Working as a cocktail waitress, I was a magnet for every lech in the bar. In the 1980s, I assumed the groping and the pinching was part of the job, until one day the bar manager, Patti, asked me: “Is that guy grabbing you?”

“Yes,” I replied. “I try to stay away from him.”

“Drop a cup of hot coffee in his lap,” she directed me.

“Ouch!” I winced, imagining the pain. “Couldn’t I drop a cold beer?”

“Coffee is cheaper,” she pointed out, reasonably. I was allowed to use my liquid of choice; but he would not be groping me any longer. Her explicit support boosted my confidence tremendously.

Patti was also the person who stopped business dead one night when a raucous crowd of soccer fans overwhelmed the bar. We were scrambling to get everyone served, but evidently we weren’t moving quickly enough because one of the men at the counter started whistling at me to get my attention.

“HEY!!!!” Patti bellowed at the line-up of waiting men. “NOBODY WHISTLES AT THE STAFF IN THIS BAR!!!”

The crowd fell silent for just a moment as this sunk in; then the roar began again with lots of talking, laughing, and cheering – but no whistling. I was impressed.

It would be nice to think that men objectifying women was a practice that went out of vogue in the 1980s, however the very fact that Hooter’s exists leads me to believe there are still vestigial remnants of that dark age.

I survived it, and in fact, I gave my daughter this piece of advice when she was just four years old in the case that someone touched her when she did not want to be touched:

“You just shout at the top of your lungs, ‘Get your fucking hands off of me,’” I instructed her. “Embarrass him in front of everyone.” 

“I’ve never forgotten that you told me that,” Johannah told me 20 years later. “It was good advice.” 

So, what’s my point here?

  • Men jaw-jack. Maybe over money, athletic prowess or their style with women, but they jaw-jack.
  • Men are attracted to pretty women. In years past, it was more acceptable to actually touch them. This is not acceptable any longer, which is great.
  • One way or another, women can put a stop to the touching. My daughter figured this out at four years old; surely a mature woman can understand the concept.

Donald Trump’s “grab her by the pussy” jaw-jacking with Billy Bush was stupid*. Touching women who don’t want to be touched is unacceptable.

Was this the end of the world?

No.

Now, can we get on with creating jobs and restoring world peace? I think there are a number of actual Yazidi sex slaves in Syria who would appreciate getting some help.

-30-

*CLARIFICATION: Donald Trump was wrong to do this. Not just stupid, but wrong.

Mexicans and Muslims; Policy and Communications

 

When I temporarily made my business inactive in 1996 so that I could go to work for an Ontario cabinet minister, I was delighted to learn that the process of government divides much of its activities into two distinct categories: policy and communications.

Up until that time, I had never been exposed to that kind of binary thinking. Policy, and communications. Hopefully the policy development is done first (although, sometimes governments want to say something they believe will be popular having NO idea whether the policy is even achievable. That’s a real crapshoot).

In a perfect world, the “order of operations” is:

  • Develop policy.
  • Communicate policy.

In the best cases, the communications team is aware of the policy development in process and attends early meetings to identify issues and opportunities.

Then, after stakeholders have been consulted and policy has been developed and approved, communications takes over to roll out the announcement.

In my career I have seen terrific policy initiatives supported by great communications work. I have seen poor policy initiatives die a quick death despite Herculean communications efforts. But the worst thing to see, as a communications professional, is good and helpful policy buried by terrible communications.

Famed presidential speechwriter Peggy Noonan once stated, “Great speeches are based on great policy.” In other words, you can be the best orator in the world but if you have nothing of substance to announce or to promote, it’s all just a lot of hot air and platitudes. If government decided to drop the tax rate by 20 per cent, anyone could write that speech and anyone could deliver it, and it would be well received. If government decided to raise the tax rate 20 per cent, the best speaker in the world would still be ducking rotten tomatoes. Great speeches are based on great policy.

The idea that policy and communications are two wholly distinctive-but-dependent areas is not one a lot of people outside of government grasp. In fact, I once attended a professional development day at which I was asked to state my purpose in life. In front of a room full of salespeople and businesspersons, I stood up and announced:

“I hope to prevent great policy from ever being destroyed by poor communications.”

The entire room full of business people sat there, mystified. No one had a clue what I meant. Most people simply don’t divide life into “policy” and “communications.” They don’t even want to try.

Which brings me to Donald Trump and his comments on Mexicans and Muslims.

Way back in the early days of the presidential campaign, Trump gave speeches and interviews talking about preventing illegal immigration from Mexio, and halting all immigration by Muslims.

I doubt these words were edited by any professional speechwriter; he just opened his mouth and out they came. I also do not believe he was referring to any specific policy that he had developed with knowledgeable people, after having discerned what was possible and advisable to do and what was not.

He was simply aware that many, many Americans were heartily sick of illegal immigration from Mexico, and very frightened at the prospect of continued jihadist attacks on American soil. So he just opened his mouth out came a lot of words on the topic. He was engaging in communications in the total absence of any policy development at all. I do not believe Donald Trump is racist and I don’t believe people need to fear that. I do believe he did a lot of damage with his early communications.

It has been interesting to note how his words have evolved over the past many weeks. On illegal immigration from Mexico at his kickoff speech he said:

“The US has become a dumping ground for everybody else’s problems.

And these aren’t the best and finest.

When Mexico sends its people they’re not sending their best.

They’re not sending you.

They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with them.

They’re bringing drugs.

They’re bringing crime.

They’re rapists.

And some, I assume, are good people. …but we don’t know. Because we have no protection, and no competence. But we don’t know. It’s gotta stop, and it’s gotta stop fast.”

 

When I read these words, I don’t interpret that he is smearing all Mexicans; I think he is referring to the ones who break the law by crossing into the US illegally. I assume he thinks the “best and the finest” are staying home in Mexico while Mexico assists the “people that have lots of problems” with exiting the country for the US (and for those of us old enough to recall the Mariel Boatlift, when Castro emptied his prisons and mental hospitals and shipped those Cuban citizens to Florida, this does not seem a completely far-fetched idea).

Compare that first speech to the language posted to the “Positions” section of his campaign website:

“Protect the economic well-being of the lawful immigrants already living here by curbing uncontrolled foreign worker admissions

  • Select immigrants based on their likelihood of success in the U.S. and their ability to be financially self-sufficient.
  • Vet applicants to ensure they support America’s values, institutions and people, and temporarily suspend immigration from regions that export terrorism and where safe vetting cannot presently be ensured.
  • Enforce the immigration laws of the United States and restore the Constitutional rule of law upon which America’s prosperity and security depend.”

 

Obviously somewhere between his campaign launch and election day, a team of policy analysts began to flesh out the relevant policy, and some communications professionals massaged the language. Had he used these words in his launch speech rather than his own emotional diatribe, perhaps he might not have been labelled a racist. Maybe he would have been anyway. In any case, he tapped into an important zeitgeist and Americans voted him president, so it is not for policy/comms wonks to tell him he was wrong. Not a one of us has been elected president.

These ARE the policies Americans voted for. It would be a shame if poor communications defeat effective policy before good, smart people even have a chance to write the policy.

With regard to Muslims and immigration to the United States, his first statement from December 7, 2015 read:

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”

Currently, the Position statement on his campaign website reads:

“Vet applicants to ensure they support America’s values, institutions and people, and temporarily suspend immigration from regions that export terrorism and where safe vetting cannot presently be ensured.”

That is QUITE the evolution in language: the issue now becomes “regions that export terrorism” rather than “Muslims.” We have not yet heard how it will be determined that a region is a “terror-exporting” region, but then, Trump hasn’t even been sworn in yet. Let’s give him a month or two to get the experts working on this. Let’s have faith that they can develop effective policy. Let’s not kill the initiative through hysterical communications before we even have a clue about the specifics of what is being proposed.

Finally, I encourage everyone to read Trump’s “Contract with America” which was released with his Gettysburg Speech. Surely there will be items here with which readers take exception, but it would be great if when people debate whether or not his policies are sound or will be helpful, they had some background on what his stated policies ARE.

It would be a terrible shame if solid policies being proposed die on the vine because of off-the-cuff communications from the first month of his campaign.  America deserves better.

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In Conclusion (for now)

So, there you have it. Here’s my brain dump on why I support Donald Trump. I hope open-minded people will get behind him and help him do what needs to be done in the months ahead. The blatant, overwhelming corruption in US politics and media has got to be fixed, not just for the good of America, but for the benefit of the entire globe.

I do not think Americans will see another opportunity like this, ever. Not in a decade, not in a generation, not in a century. Never.

Love and best wishes,

Rita

 

 

 

Uber cures cancer, ends poverty, brings world peace

travis
Travis Kalanick explains the latest complicated algorithm used to charge your credit card while curing cancer through surge pricing.

September 28, 2016 (San Francisco) – If you have the Uber app on your phone, you need never fear cancer, poverty or war, Uber founder and CEO Travis Kalanick announced today.

“Uber is partnering with top cancer researchers around the globe to explore opportunities in developing systems which will eventually see us be able to guarantee that premier clients will never be exposed to the scourge of metastizing cancer,” Kalanick states in a press release he is confident will be run word-for-word by frantically overworked members of the media.

“What is more, through UberEats, we have reached out to leaders in underdeveloped nations to help end hunger everywhere. We have established pilot projects in Syria, Somolia and the Ukraine to give free rides to government agents committed to world peace.”

This pivot on Uber’s part is the logical next step after it announced it would deliver puppies, ice cream, lacy bras for Valentine’s Day, and “hot chick” women drivers in France.

After following up these offers with unlimited rides for $100 and Uber for long haul trucking, the transportation start-up announced Uber for Helicopters, self-driving cars and vertical take-off and landing cars (VTOL – flying cars).

“I know some people are skeptical of our daily announcements, and believe we are just making stuff up to distract from the fact that drivers cannot make a living at Uber. Pessimists insist on pointing out that the average Uber driver lasts 3 months and drives less than 10 hours per week; but I am an optimist. I believe we must be present in all of these emerging categories, or be left in the dust when the future arrives,” Kalanick declares passionately.

“The transportation industry is a relationship-backed business,” Kevin Abbott, long-haul specialist, realist and  vice president at C.H. Robinson recently explained to the Reuters News Agency.  “There’s a lot more to it than just finding a piece of equipment.”

“Kevin Abbot is a sissy,” Kalanick responds. “He worries about things like policies and procedures, driver training, vehicle maintenance and insurance. He is stuck in the past. We are focused on lobbying politicians, avoiding expensive regulatory regimes and delivering for the long-haul clients who rely on our service. Which is why, as soon as we actually have some long-haul clients, we will pay them to appear and speak in support of Uber at all levels of government.”

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For more information, remember there is no more information. There is just this press release. Don’t be a silly pest asking for details – LOOK! SHINY FLYING CARS ARE DELIVERING PUPPIES IN SEXY BRAS!!!

–Satire by Rita Smith

 

Things we take for granted: competent civil servants, and flushing toilets

toilet
One of the most important things we take for granted, every day: a working toilet.

 

It’s so easy to take great things for granted, living in a prosperous Western nation.

I’m going to make a bold statement and say, I imagine most of us take flushing toilets completely for granted. We have them; we use them; we fully expect them to flush away everything we wish to be flushed away. Beyond that, we give them no thought. We take them entirely for granted.

For the past month, I’ve been wrestling with a toilet challenge (two toilet challenges, actually) that has been a total pain in the ass, pun intended, and made me pause to think about how fortunate I really am.

Mostly I am known for writing, posting photos, and shooting videos about food. Growing food, buying food, cooking food, serving food. Of course, what goes in must come out and so you can’t be enthralled with food and cooking if you don’t have working toilets. This is the simple truth.

Here, I pause to give a fantastic amount of credit to diligent civil servants. One of Durham Region’s super-competent civil servants called me in July with in inquiry:

“Mrs. Smith, how many people live in your house?” she asked.

“Just me,” I replied. “I had lots of company at Christmas,” I added, “but other than that, it’s just me.”

“You are using as much water as a family of 4 to 8 people,” she broke the bad news to me. “Is it possible you could have a leak somewhere?”

“In my brand new house?” I gasped, shocked. “Geez, I hope not! That would be horrible!”

In fact, when I checked my bills I noted that for one month I spent $60 on electricity; $20 on natural gas; and $261 on water. Whoops! How did I miss that?

Durham offered to send someone out to check my meter and look around my house. Again, a super-competent woman came out and inspected my meter, with which she found no problem.

“The leak must be past the meter, inside the house,” she noted. “Can I look at your toilets?”

I removed the lid from my guest room toilet; she stared intently into the tank for several moments.

“Your toilet is running constantly,” she pointed out the water lever which just exactly, invisibly, imperceptibly forming a sort of Meniscus curve at the very edge of the drain pipe.

“It’s so quiet you don’t hear it; but it’s constantly draining the tank, 24 hours per day.” It turned out that my en suite toilet was doing the exact same thing. Two toilets running 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. $261 worth of water in one short month.

I thanked the lady from Durham Region and set about figuring how to fix the problem. I turned to YouTube, which is a GREAT source of “How to” videos, and decided I needed to replace the floater assembly.

I won’t bore you with the seemingly-endless details, but it took me several different days dedicated to toilet repair to fix the problem. John at Newcastle Rona was incredibly helpful. I did indeed need to purchase two new, completely different floater assemblies – the kind that have an adjustable “collar” to allow me to adjust the floater height, which the original toilets did not have – but for almost a month I did not have use of my en suite bathroom.

Which is surely the definition of a first world problem, except that it exactly coincided with the nightmare of a giant spider bite in my nether regions. Since my own bathroom was mostly out of commission, I wound up with gauze, sensitive bandages, Polysporin, hydrogen peroxide, mirrors and goose neck lights everywhere: in my bathroom, in the guest bathroom, in my bedroom….

“I thought the whole point of having my own bathroom was that I got to keep my private stuff private!” I finally fumed. “This toilet will be fixed today, no matter what happens. Nothing else will happen until I get my bathroom back!”

Today, I think it finally is fixed. I’ve got the collar mechanism on the floater assembly figured out. It didn’t help that a washer went wandering during the process and caused another leak, but I was pretty quick to figure that out.

I am going to celebrate by completely tidying and organizing the bathroom – I get to pack away the wrenches, the plumbing products, the spider-bite first aid items, and get back to having an actual bathroom with a working toilet.

For which I am truly grateful!

And thanks, Durham Region.

Salsa Verde: now is the time!

 

 

 

 

quesadillas
Mmmmmm….crispy chili & cheese Quesadillas with Salsa Verde and sour cream. You can only get green tomatoes once per year, and that time is now!

I must be a pathetic sight, hanging around the parking lot of Price’s Country Market, waiting for green tomatoes to be available.

“Come back NEXT MONTH!” Natalie laughed at me last summer. I was there in July. Green tomatoes are not available until almost the end of August – at least, the big, fat, crunchy -almost-done-growing-but-not-yet-red ones are not available until then.

But when they are! You make Salsa Verde. And Green Tomato Mincemeat. And Green Tomato Pickles. And you make so many people so, so happy.

Click here for the link to the video. 

50 Clove Garlic Soup

Soup still
This is not a soup to serve to company. This is a soup for hand-to-hand combat with colds and sore throats.

It may be as much placebo or superstition as garlic and chicken broth, but I have not had a cold in 5 years (knock wood!)

I make 50 Clove Garlic Soup in the fall and freeze it in one-cup portions. Anytime I feel a tickle in my throat, I eat a bowl. Maybe all the garlic just keeps people away so that I am not EXPOSED to any germs…who knows? It is warm and comforting and delicious, and it’s working for me!

Click here for the video

Recipe

Olive oil (for frying)

One large onion

50 cloves of garlic, chopped (or one whole jar of Derlea Chopped Garlic)

One cup of fresh Thyme, cleaned and chopped OR one quarter cup dried thyme. Or a mixture of both.

6 cups chicken broth

One can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Indian Relish

2 tsp mustard seed

2 tsp coriander seed

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

10 hot chilies

2 cups vinegar

3 cups sugar

6 cups chopped cucumbers

3 cups chopped onions

3 cups chopped green or red peppers*

 

Boil the brine first and adjust for taste before adding the chopped vegetables and re-heating to boiling.

*I often leave out the peppers.

Delicious irony

 

bday7
It’s been an honour and a pleasure to work with Erik Waddell, who is an amazing dad and a good proof reader.

Not just ironic, but DELICIOUSLY ironic – that’s the only way I can describe one hilarious event at our birthday party blast yesterday.

Erik Waddell, his wife Trista, and their three bright, energetic kids Abigail, Spencer and Sam came to spend a day with me swimming, laughing, and eating ice cream cake.  We were celebrating both my birthday and Abby’s, and my only goal was happiness: happy kids, happy parents, happy food, happy birthday!

While Trista and I were preparing food in the kitchen, I asked if Erik had ever told her the proof reading story, which remains one of my favourite ever. She had never heard it!

“When I was Director of Communications at Health Canada and Erik was our Press Secretary, we launched Canada’s New Food Guide and were printing 4 million copies on the first print run. We not only had a printing press on stand-by; we had a paper mill on stand-by!

“Obviously this document could not go to press with a single typo, but the day the ‘blues’ were scheduled to be approved I had to travel with the Minister and could not be there myself. I asked Erik, ‘Are you a good proof reader?’

‘I have a Master’s Degree in Political Science!’ Erik replied indignantly, clearly offended.

‘That doesn’t answer the question asked,’ I pointed out. ‘I asked if you are a good proof reader. Those are two different things.’

‘Yes, I am a good proof reader,’ Erik answered, and so was assigned the task of approving the final document before it went up on the printing press.”

(And, I am pleased to say, no typographical errors have ever been found in the many millions of copies that have been printed since. It is the second-most requested document from Canada’s federal government; only income tax forms are requested more often.)

Trista and I were laughing merrily at this little display of Erik’s pride in his educational achievements versus real life practicality when we walked out into the yard. I even shared with Trista the fact that when Erik recently asked if I would provide him a reference because he was applying for a new job, I filled the glowing reference with multiple positive statements and ended with a final observation: “Erik is an excellent proof reader.” Once again, it was our little joke. Well, OK, my little joke at Erik’s expense, but I thought I was being very cute and witty.

Fast forward to lighting the candles on Abby’s birthday ice cream cake: I had really struggled with the store-bought icing tubes I used to write on the cakes. The frosting is thick and slow to come out of the tube, and has an infuriating way of lifting right back off of the cake when you finish a letter and raise the tube.

I was so focused on maneuvering to keep the frosting ON the cake, I did not notice other essential elements of cake decorating.

“Why is ‘happy’ spelled with 3 p’s?” Erik asked when he saw the cake.

bday1
The extra “P” stands for more happiness. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

 

“It’s not!” I exclaimed. “Look: H-A-P-P….oh dear!” I realized in dismay that I had, in fact, spelled ‘Happy’ – ‘Happpy.’

Of course, the third ‘p’ in ‘Happpy’ has now taken on a life of its own: friends have noted that it just means ‘more happy.’ Or more frosting to eat.

To me, it means that I’m not as smart as I think I am and I should perhaps focus more on being humble and less on being clever.

And Erik? He posted this Facebook message:

Erik Waddell This typo (icing-o? ) was a highlight of the day. :)”

Well, I set out to make people happy, so Mission Accomplished, I guess…

Congratulations on your new job, Erik – wishing you a Happpy Summer!


July 23 update: Trista posted this photo of Abby’s 4th birthday cake to make me feel better. I really appreciated it…

trista cake