” CNN Town Hall with Senator Michael Bennet – ‘Aiming to Grab Attention in a Crowded Field’ ” – May 30, 2019.
Senator Michael Bennet, Democratic Presidential candidate, addressed questions from the audience in a Town Hall tonight held at the CNN Center, Atlanta, Georgia.
CNN’s Dana Bash moderated the event.
Senator Michael Bennet was born in India when his father was an aide to the US Ambassador to India. Senator Michael Bennet is the seventh Senator to enter the Democratic Presidential nomination.
Here’s my brief presentation of the Town Hall event.
1. Figure below represents the Priorities triad of Senator Michael Bennet :
Priorities triad constitute the following three elements : Healthcare ; Climate Change ; and Immigration Reform.
Senator Michael Bennet supports incremental steps in health care and coverage – “Medicare X” – a balanced alternative to ‘Medicare for All’. It comprises a public option modeled after Medicare alongside private options on the Obamacare marketplaces. A new version done with Senator Tim Kaine in 2019 provides for expansion of access to tax credits. Senator Michael Bennet supports bolder actions to address Climate Change. He is a strong proponent of Clean Power and Energy Plan and his commitment to Climate Change actions comes from his strong belief and trust in scientific findings and facts. As a member of the Gang of Eight, a bipartisan group of four Democrats and four Republicans, he was responsible for introducing a comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation. The bill was titled : “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernisation Act of 2013”. The bill passed the US Senate with 68-32 votes but was stalled in the House. He later cosponsored the Dream Act of 2017.
2. Figure below represents Senator Michael Bennet’s Leadership triad :
Leadership triad consists of the three following elements : Analytic Decision-making, Passion, and Pragmatism.
As a Senator showing signs of deep study, knowledge, and analytical skills his decision-making in all the bills and letters that he was part of stood out as a characteristic and distinctive feature of his ability. His astute but high decibel speech on the Senate floor in January when he challenged the Republican Senator Ted Cruz’s forceful voice and judgement on a matter of opinion as ‘Government shut down and Border Wall’ catapulted him into a person holding very strong feeling and direction of mind – as highly passional. He is a pragmatic person who values facts more than opinions and theories. He likes choosing more practical ideas than ideal ones. Hence his opposition to far left Socialism; Medicare for All; and Border Wall’ Shut down.
3. Figure below represents Senator Michael Bennet’s Strategy Triad :
Senator Michael Bennet’s Strategy Triad consists of the following three elements : Legislative Majority, Working Together, and Truth & Integrity.
His main Strategy is to have majority in the House, Senate, and in Washington DC administration. This comes out of his experience, specially, with President Donald Trump being able to appoint 100 judges by now in his term due to a single change that Barack Obama did in his term and for which regretfully he voted in favor then. His recipe for tackling all problems irrespective of the sectors of the economy is for ‘Americans to work together and fight the problems in a united fashion’. He feels a strong need to restore the values of ‘truth and integrity’ of actions be it in administration, economy, healthcare, education, climate change or any other issue that American citizens care for.
Best question in the audience came from Margaret Thomson who wanted to know how he will increase teacher pay and the quality of education at schools across the country. Senator Michael Bennet took pleasure in answering the question with his accomplished background of five years and more as the “Superintendent” of Schools in Denver. Tracing the education from the end of World War II’, he sought to emphasise the two factors that need consideration : (a) We should operate on a 21st Century offering and not a 19th Century offering – a teacher or a nurse now should get as much as anyone in any other sector gets for shouldering the same responsibility. Quality will be ensured. (b) “Economy grows with growth in Education” is a dictum that he will advocate and practice and this must be well recognised and understood.
General conclusions :
1. Senator Michael Bennet made a strong bid to evoke discussions and make the audience know the issues of importance in a broken system as the one most citizens feel today.
2. More than fighting for winning the nomination, he appeared keen to create a sense of identity of his own in the minds of the audience for any other opening in future.
3. His emphasis on job record as proof of performance will need to stay firmly etched in the minds of the audience/people for long enough to propel himself up the ladder of a huge rungs, a task highly challenging.
“Dieu avec nous”
Friday, May 31, 2019 – 10.09 a.m. (IST)
Tidbit : ” The way to wealth is integrity and frugality ” – Raja Srinivasan.
Tonight’s CNN Town Hall featured the former Congressman from Texas, Beto O’Rourke, who announced his entry into the Democratic Presidential nomination bid on March 14 this year.
The Town Hall held in Des Moines, Iowa, was moderated by Dana Bash of CNN.
Fresh from his visit to the flood ravaged Davenport, Iowa, Beto O’Rourke took the stage to answer questions from the audience.
This is presenting three key aspects that emerged from the Town Hall engagement :
1. Beto O’Rourke’s Priorities : The Figure below represents Beto O’Rourke’s Priorities triad :
The triad has three elements – (a) A massive $ 5 Trillion proposal to combat Climate Change and signing the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge that he hopes will alter any misperceptions that the citizens may have held against him. (b) A well crafted proposal to reduce ‘Gun Violence’ covering universal background checks; banning sales of assault rifles; a law enabling removal of firearms from people likely to cause a danger; active funding and research into gun violence – comprise the Chief components of what he promises to address for the benefit of the people of America and (c) Living in El Paso, an area close to the border, Beto O’Rourke feels strongly that his comprehension on the aspects of border wall to Immigration has been so lucid that he would always hold the “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” as one of his priorities ( Border makes America Great according to him ).
2. Beto O’Rourke’s Strategy : Figure below represents Beto O’Rourke’s Strategy :
(a) He is keen to promote democracy at home. It is not in his mind to embrace the strong men in the world and turn back our true allies. President Trump does that. I want to send a clear signal to all nations in this world that the future of this land is a Democratic one and not an autocratic one. My administration will do this. This is how we will restore ‘Global ‘Trust’. (b) His view on ‘Impeachment’ is crystal clear. He wants it to happen for the following twin reasons : it is the duty of the Congress to protect our Constitution; and lots of information that were withheld will come to the fore revealing a clear picture. There will be consequences and justice if we want to hold to democracy and that is why impeachment is necessary. It is also the only way to get accountability and justice. (c) United States will not fight any war unilaterally, much less the ‘Trade War’ with China. That China is up to creating hurdles of every hue to challenge the American stability and growth is well known. We need to have allies and the fight (Trade War) should be continued with support from allies.
3. Beto O’Rourke’s Leadership : Figure below represents Beto O’Rourke’s Leadership style succinctly –
Accountability, Unity, and Tough Decisions constitute his leadership triad. ‘Accountability’ comes from responsibility and Democratic dealings are the lynchpin promoting it. His support for increasing public schools ; support for legalising cannabis ; support for Social Security 2100 Act ; support for Minimum Wage ; support for public option in Medicare – all arise out of his desire to bring ‘Unity’ among People. ” If we play nicely by the set rules, we’ll end up with the same results ” says Beto O’Rourke also adding that we need to take ‘Tough Decisions’ to overcome the challenges we face today.
The best question tonight came from a lady, Dianne, a telecommunications lobbyist suffering from Multiple Sclerosis requiring every six weeks a remedial medical injection costing $ 21600 ; worrying constantly about their depleting savings ; trying to find a way out constantly without any success uptil now ; seeking to know what Beto O’Rourke would do to help her. It was an emotive moment evoking positive swirls in the minds of all people present. Beto O’Rourke’s response was equally emotional, concerning, and conciliatory. Vowing to control the prices of key drugs to reduce the expenses in such cases, he advocated strongly his proposed “Medicare for America” allowing every citizen on an employment based health insurance to keep that insurance if they wanted to, but it will move all uninsured, Medicaid covered, and newborn citizens to Medicare immediately. Stabilisation of insurance markets to improve the Patient Protection and ACA is his goal. The audience responded with big applause.
General points :
1. I witnessed people in audience responding enthusiastically, supportively, and favourably to every answer of Beto O’Rourke in this Town Hall with cheers and applauses acknowledging a stand out performance.
2. Long on issues and measures and short on specifics of achieving them, Beto O’Rourke may have to step up and accelerate by the time he prepares to meet with other candidates in debates.
3. His voice reflects and affirms his resolve and energy to take on any opponent with aplomb.
4. His social media skills give a source of confidence and power in this new age era, and can well put him on good stead in his campaign.
5. Earnest and eloquent, Beto O’Rourke kept the audience thoroughly engaged with his sharp, precise, and convincing ( as reflected from the cheers and applauses from the audience ) answers to all the questions.
” Hail Unity, Fail Division ” seems to be his core message to the people tonight.
” Dieu avec nous “
Wednesday, May 22, 2019 – 10.29 a.m. (IST)
Tidbit : ” No one is born to be the President of the United States of America ; least of all me “. – Beto O’Rourke.
Of late FB is being invaded by storm.
Public knowledge and awareness to the privacy of their data was roused by the revelations of FB-Cambridge Analytica data scandal first in March 2018. FB lost more than $ 100 billion in share prices and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, had to agree to testify before the Congress. He apologised : ” it was my mistake. I am sorry. I started FB, and I am responsible for what happens here.”
A few days ago, Co-founder, Chris Hughes, who left FB in 2007 after selling his shares for half a billion dollars in a sense of anger and responsibility wanted FB to be broken up as a mark of ‘accountability’.
Domination of Zuckerberg ; wielding power that is unprecedented and un-american ; Zuckerberg’s unilateral control over speech ; need for acceptable guidelines for free speech on social media ; need for reforms to restore shareholders’ and public’s confidence – are the reasons he advocated.
Democratic Presidential nomination seekers (2020) – Elizabeth Warren (MA) , and Kamala Harris (CA) strongly pitch for breaking up of big tech companies like FB, Amazon, and Google if they are elected. Unilateral power over economy, society, and democracy is not good – according to them.
Mark Zuckerberg, however, is far from rattled. He has his defense playing strong : ” Breaking up the company, FB, cannot bring about accountability; cannot successfully address problems of safety, privacy, misinformation, and speech ; rather it would actually hinder FB’s efforts to safeguard it’s networks; FB’s budget for Safety this year is more than the whole revenue of the company when FB went public earlier this decade” – he added.
Former UK Deputy PM and FB VP, Communications, Nick Clegg said : ” what matters is not size but rights and interests of consumers.. Big is not bad; success should not be penalised. “
There is no alternative social media platform for the consumers now to switch to and that makes it hard for critics to get FB to submit to them at this juncture.
I always speak in my classes that “innovation” sprouts and shows up in an environment of adversity and chaos. The situation that FB finds itself in is no different than this.
FB is already on its move to be more than a mere social media platform with its intended foray into a cryptocurrency based financial tech system tying itself to Visa, Master Card, and First Data Corporation enabling its shareholders and consumers to make payments, exchange money, and to buy products. This may well be a new and extremely significant value addition .
World going digital and no smartphone without FB is the best advantage that FB enjoys now. And rightly, it expects to make big inroads into business aggressively. To follow the ‘marketing dictum’ it wants to “explore the unchartered territory and tap the market big swiftly”.
It also throws light on another management dictum that emphasises any entrepreneur to remain ‘focused’ on his/her goal. Mark Zuckerberg remained fixated on the goal of ‘growth’ and slipped in the aspects important to consumers – safety and privacy. While this does not absolve him of his errors, serious as they are perceived to be now, it throws light on the shortcomings of a true leader. His failure to list the responsibilities clearly, and effectively delegate them to an identified group within the organization is a lesson to be learnt in management.
FB may feel threatened ; Zuckerberg may feel betrayed ; Critics may feel pleased ; Consumers may feel bewildered ; Regulations may be tightened ; – but innovations and value additions cannot be stymied.
The present environment may at best spell a downward trend for FB, but its resurgence with accelerated momentum is not far away.
There is no Stopping FB.
” Dieu avec nous “
Wednesday, May 15, 2019 – 8.59 p.m. (IST)
Tidbit : ” Social Media puts the ‘public’ into PR and the ‘market’ into marketing “. – Chris Brogen.
Tonight’s CNN Town Hall featured Former FBI Director, James Comey. Today marks the two year anniversary of James Comey’s firing. The Town Hall was held in Washington DC.
Anderson Cooper of CNN moderated the event.
James Comey had these to say : 1. Robert Mueller Report is a high quality work. 2. What was laid out for Mueller for investigation was broader in scope. 3. No collusion with Russia as inferred by Trump is unacceptable. 4. Russia investigation was conducted by the book. 5. Mueller ‘should’ testify before the Congress.
Figure below represents the three elements of the ‘Obstruction of justice’, an aspect of the investigation.
This is what is revealing : James Comey strongly feels that the element of “corrupt intent” is clear in the report from many instances. For e.g. direction to Don McGahn to fire Robert Mueller. Wanting to limit the probe of Russian investigation to only future investigations was another.
Trump would have been charged if he is not President is his conclusion. ‘Mueller did something principled and fair’, he said on Mueller’s decision not to offer a judgement based on his conclusion that a sitting President is immune from indictment.
James Comey had this to say about “Leadership” : “Leadership needs to have a moral component, and that moral component is lacking thoroughly in Trump’s presidency. He lies constantly and we are numb to that sadly.”
“It is the nature and character as leader who holds the “American Values” high only that will distinctly mark a good President. You cannot have someone who is a chronic liar.” – has been the essence of his thoughts.
He has detailed elaborately in his recent book titled : ” A Higher Loyalty – Truth, lies, and Leadership “.
Whenever he referred to the need for reflection of “values” as being important for a President, there has been a loud applause from the audience.
Standing out separately and significantly from the discussion was the question on ‘what will put a stop to school shootings ?’ from an elementary school teacher. James Comey’s answer was also very distinctive – ” Connecting educators, law enforcement personnel, and health professionals will be the right move forward. No need to arm teachers. It is not a workable solution. It requires more training and discipline”.
On AG William Barr he said : ” William Barr acted in a way less than honorable. He also lost his reputation by the act of his 4 page summary of Mueller’s report and the press conference he held before the release of the redacted report”.
On Rod Rosenstein he said : ” he is not a man of strong character, but he has accomplishments to his credit”.
James Comey singled out James Mattis as the man with strong character, principles, and integrity.
Finally, he felt that going into 2020 there will be this overarching goal of Russia on interfering in our elections to damage the reputation of our democracy and the nation.
He is certain not to seek entry into Politics even while admitting that he may not be averse to participating in Election meetings trying to change the Presidency.
” Dieu avec nous “
Friday, May 10, 2019 – 8.09 a.m. (IST).
Tidbit : ” FBI doesn’t spy, FBI investigates ” – James Comey.