Monday, January 21, 2013

Office Politics


I am in the middle of an office politics mess. As a group, everybody is contributing, and there is good team spirit. But then you might be traveling with one of them, and he might start criticizing a new colleague in subtle ways to indirectly build himself up.

Afraid To Travel


That is politics right there. When they do it I’ll say: “No, no, stop right there. He is new, he is still learning, you have to spend time with him.” As the leader, you can either encourage politics or stop it. If you show you have no tolerance for it, and encourage people to work together, they start to figure out that you do not have time for politics.

A big matrix organization has plenty of room for politics because matrix means you might have two or more bosses. If there is a problem, a conflict, I’ll often go to the source. I don’t talk over the phone. And maybe over a meal I’ll do some coaching, talk straight, give them some advice on how to work well with the other individual, and encourage them to talk to each other. Also, do not try to solve difficult issues over e-mail, because e-mails can cause serious misunderstandings. Politics means human, and human means politics. My hope is politics can be contained by communication, straight one-on-one communication.

Rink Rats

BOYS ONLY? -- "Obama's Remade Inner Circle Has an All-Male Look, So Far. About 43 percent of Mr. Obama's appointees have been women, about the same proportion as in the Clinton administration, but up from the roughly one-third appointed by George W. Bush. ... The White House itself employs almost exactly the same number of men and women ... But Mr. Obama's recent nominations raised concern that women were being underrepresented at the highest level of government and would be passed over for top positions."

INAUGURAL NUMBERS, from Presidential Inaugural Committee:: "1,500: Number of portable toilets on the National Mall for Monday's ceremonial swearing-in ... 54: Number of inauguration ceremonies, including this year's, held in Washington [First George Washington was on balcony of Federal Hall, N.Y.C.; second Washington and John Adams were in Congress Hall, Philadelphia; has been at various locations at U.S. Capitol starting with Jefferson] ... 21: Height, in feet, of each of the five jumbotrons on the National Mall ... 7: Number of times the official Inauguration Day has fallen on a Sunday, including this year ... 2: Number of times the public Inauguration date has fallen on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, including this year."

BIDENWATCH - "Latinos take on bigger role in Obama inauguration, Eva Longoria, a co-chairwoman for Obama's campaign, hosted 'Latino Inaugural 2013: In Performance at the Kennedy Center' as a salute to the president Sunday evening ahead of his public swearing-in Monday. Jose Feliciano, Chita Rivera, Rita Moreno and Latin pop star Prince Royce all performed. The lineup also included Mario Lopez and Wilmer Valderrama. Vice President Joe Biden and his family appeared onstage, drawing big cheers, to help open the show. He said he wanted to thank Latinos for their support in last year's election. Biden said something profound happened with the enormous Latino support for Obama, and he said the Latino community underestimates its power. 'One thing that happened in this election, you spoke. You spoke in a way that the world, and I mean the world, as well as the United States, could not fail to hear,' Biden said, calling the Latino vote decisive. 'This is your moment. America owes you."

SECOND-TERM AGENDA - Top agenda items for Obama II will include immigration reform and gun control. On the economic front, the main battle will remain over deficit reduction. Even if the fiscal brinksmanship eases (see below), there is limited reason to hope for a great deal of progress on the deficit front with both parties firmly dug in on how to move forward. Democrats want more revenue through tax reform and rates, and Republicans only want big spending cuts, including to entitlements. ...

Maybe a new era of good feeling will dawn. But don't bet on it. Seems more reasonable to hope that Washington mostly gets out of the economy's way by avoiding scary crises. Corporate tax reform, including a lower rate and broader base, is not impossible but still seems fairly unlikely given the differing views on increasing revenue.

And there is little time for a president to make big moves in a second term before lame-duck status sets in around the midterms. Big pushes on immigration and guns won't leave much room. And who knows what horrors a deeply uncertain world will throw at Obama and the U.S. over the next four years, upending carefully laid plans.

OBAMA 2.0 - "Three Chances for a Second-Term Legacy: The president is stuck in a 'Groundhog Day' loop of fiscal crisis, followed by rancorous partisan debate, followed by half-solution, before repeating. ... Beyond that, Iran's nuclear program also hangs ominously over the second term. But conversations with those in the Obama world suggest that if the president can shake those problems, he has three big chances for crafting a broader legacy: energy independence, an immigration overhaul and a new assault on income inequality. ...

"The combination of a shale-oil boom and the proliferation of natural-gas production makes possible something that seemed unachievable a decade ago: for the U.S. to achieve something close to energy self-sufficiency while also reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Already the U.S. is on its way to replacing Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil producer by 2020 ... So the emerging picture is of an energy future in which higher oil production and improved auto-fuel efficiency greatly reduce dependence on Middle East oil, while broader use of natural gas, other alternative energy sources and energy efficiency also reduce the carbon footprint. Critics say these options are opening up despite Obama energy policies so far, not because of them. Still, the potential for an entirely different approach to energy lies ahead. 'Of all the things that will happen, it will be the biggest game-changer, domestically and internationally,' says Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago and Mr. Obama's first White House chief of staff. ...

"Income inequality. ... Policy prescriptions are few. But one would be a broad overhaul of the American tax code to make it more efficient and more progressive at the same time, through a combination of flatter tax rates for all and fewer exemptions and loopholes at the top."

"As President Obama focused on his second inaugural, experts outside the White House who had been solicited for advice reported that he was more buoyant than they had seen before. In one session with presidential historians, he kicked off his shoes - not exactly a wild and crazy guy, but at least relaxed. In looking for presidential analogies, he turned to two of his predecessors for sustenance: Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower. He found some similarities between where the nation is today and where it was when FDR delivered his second inaugural address in 1937, with the nation working its way out of economic distress and a president proclaiming his concern that backward forces would stifle that progress. With Eisenhower, he found some commonalities between the situations he faces now as commander in chief and what Ike dealt with in his first term, both men bringing the country at long last out of unpopular wars - Korea for Ike; Iraq and Afghanistan for Obama - and then trying to reconfigure and downsize the military."

THE LEGACY OF TIM GEITHNER – A Timothy Geithner prepares to leave the Treasury Department, most assessments focus on how his policies affected the economy. But his lasting legacy may be more political, contributing to the creation of an issue that can now be seized either by the right or the left. What should be done about the too-big-to-fail category of financial institutions?

The Obama Administration has failed to rein in the megabanks and allowed them to become larger and arguable more powerful. This has created a political issue going forward into 2016 – what do to about Big Banks. A smart candidate could even mobilize plenty of financial-sector support in favor of breaking up or otherwise restricting the too-big-to-fail financial entities. The megabanks have very few genuine friends these days.

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Eddie Van Halen (58), Jack Nicklaus (73), Mary Lou Retton (45), Chief Justice John Roberts (58), Bob Uecker (78), Tony Villar (60), Robin Zander (60).

CHINA BETS HUGE ON COLLEGE - "China is making a $250 billion-a-year investment in what economists call human capital. Just as the United States helped build a white-collar middle class in the late 1940s and early 1950s by using the GI Bill to help educate millions of World War II veterans, the Chinese government is using large subsidies to educate tens of millions of young people. ... China wants to move up the development curve by fostering a much more broadly educated public, one that more closely resembles the multifaceted labor forces of the United States and Europe. ....

"While potentially enhancing China's future as a global industrial power, an increasingly educated population poses daunting challenges for its leaders. With the Chinese economy downshifting in the past year to a slower growth rate, the country faces a glut of college graduates with high expectations and limited opportunities. ... China also faces formidable difficulties in dealing with widespread corruption, a sclerotic political system, severe environmental damage, inefficient state-owned monopolies and other problems."

SPORTS BLINK - SUPER BOWL XLVII (47), in New Orleans on Feb. 3 - "It's a family affair ... Ravens-49ers Super Bowl rich with ... Harbaughs, :  Somewhere between Jim Harbaugh's little-brother temper tantrum and John Harbaugh's cool big-brother congrats via CBS's cameras, this Super Bowl became a Christmas card certainty. The Harbowl. The family week in New Orleans. The Harbaugh parents' dream-slash-nightmare: The NFL's only brother head coaches facing each other in something much bigger than a backyard brawl. It started when Jim Harbaugh, coach of the San Francisco 49ers, led his team back from a three-score hole on the road Sunday, earning a 28-24 win in Atlanta. It completed when John Harbaugh, coach of the Baltimore Ravens, led his team through three lead changes on the road three hours later, notching a 28-13 victory in New England.

"John, the elder by exactly 15 months , had been asked about just this possibility last week, if the brothers Harbaugh, sons of a football coach, had ever talked about meeting in a Super Bowl. 'Not that I'd admit to,' he'd said, with an impish grin. ... Ray Lewis is going to the Super Bowl. So is Joe Flacco, who had the audacity to call himself elite before this season started. And Colin Kaepernick, too, a tattooed quarterback who, for 15 of his 25 years, has had a pet turtle named Sammy. ... Staid and safe is out, new and bold is in. That was Kaepernick and the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, winning not on the young quarterback's sprinter legs -- as they did last week -- but on his exquisite execution of the read-option offense."

--N.Y. Post wood, "BRO BOWL: Coach sibs in historic Super showdown" ... N.Y. Post sports back, "TOM WHO? Flacco outduels Brady, leads Ravens into Super showdown with Niners" ... N.Y. Daily News Sports back, "TOM HOFFIFIC! Brady, Pats again fail on big stage to set up Har-Bowl in New Orleans."

SPORTS BLINK II - "Fiery Orioles manager Earl Weaver dead at 82, Earl Weaver, the fiery Hall of Fame manager who won 1,480 games with the Baltimore Orioles seemingly was engaged in nearly as many arguments with umpires, has died. He was 82. Dick Gordon, Weaver's marketing agent, said Saturday that Weaver died while on a Caribbean cruise sponsored by the Orioles. Gordon said Weaver's wife told him that Weaver went back to his cabin after dinner and began choking between 10:30 and 11 Friday night. Gordon said a cause of death has not been determined. The Duke of Earl, as he was affectionately known in Baltimore, took the Orioles into the World Series four times over 17 seasons but won only one title, in 1970. His .583 winning percentage ranks fifth among managers who served 10 or more seasons in the 20th century."

NHL POWER RANKINGS – Our first of the new NHL season power rankings, the best of the best heading into Week 1: 1). Pittsburgh Penguins – better “D” this year, 2). New York Rangers – a team on the rise? 3). Boston Bruins – too many St. Lawrence graduates to not be good, 4). St. Louis Blues – our preseason pick for The Stanley Cup, 5). Vancouver Canucks – can they stay healthy?

COLLEGE HOCKEY PICK OF THE WEEK – Friday January 25, 8:35 PM ET, FCS; #19 ranked St. Cloud State Huskies (14-10-0) visit #6 ranked University of North Dakota (13-7-4). 11,000 strong will be in Grand Forks to view this key WCHA tilt, ND 6 St. Cloud 3.  (Season to date (4-0)

NFL FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK –   Season to date (13-7)

THE SWAMI’S TOP PICKS – North Dakota 6 St. Cloud 3, NFC 50 AFC 35.   Season to date (50-25)

DRIVING THE WEEK -  Obama sets the tone for his second term with his second inaugural address today, a speech expected to be long on soaring rhetoric and broad themes rather than specific agenda items. Those tend to wait for the State of the Union address. And with signs of a reduction in fiscal brinksmanship (including the House moving toward support for at least a temporary debt limit increase), Obama will not have to resort to the kind of clear partisanship the White House threatened last year.

House GOP leaders indicated Friday they would push for a three-month debt limit increase that would cut off pay to members of Congress if both chambers don't pass budget resolutions, something the Senate has not done in three years. Unclear how Democrats will react to the short-term hike proposal, but its existence suggests House Republicans are aware that they are entirely isolated in the belief that using the debt limit as a weapon to win spending cuts is a good idea, either politically or economically. ...

House Ways and Means has a debt limit hearing set for 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday ... U.S. markets are closed today in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday ... Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner steps down on Friday ... World Economic Forum annual meeting begins in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday.

Next week; Jack Ass of the month plus Words of the month.

Until Next Monday, Adios!

Claremont, CA

January 21, 2013
#III-40, 145

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