Weekly Update 04-10 Jan 21
Clips on media/communication, national security, politics, sports, and pop culture worth knowing about in the days ahead.
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By Larry Diamond, Foreign Affairs Yesterday’s assault on the United States Capitol by a right-wing extremist mob may have only modestly damaged the building, but it gravely injured the prestige of American democracy. The United States’ authoritarian adversaries are gloating. China’s Communist Youth League, echoing U.S. reactions to the 2019 pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, called the storming of the Capitol a “beautiful sight.” And America’s democratic allies, who well understand the importance of U.S. democratic leadership to the global cause of freedom, have been badly shaken by the images of ruffians rampaging through the world’s most powerful democratic assembly on the day of its most important deliberative task: certifying the results of the presidential election. In the wake of this calamity, American political and civic leaders now face an urgent imperative to repair the fabric of U.S. democracy.
The Capitol attack shows the danger of forgetting America’s history.
By Brent Staples, NYT
The history of the United States is rife with episodes of political violence far bloodier and more destructive than the one President Trump incited at the Capitol on Wednesday. Nevertheless, ignorance of a grisly past well documented by historians like W.E.B. DuBois, John Hope Franklin and Richard Hofstadter was painfully evident in the aftermath of this week’s mob invasion of Congress. Talking heads queued up to tell the country again and again that the carnage was an aberration and “not who we are” as a people.
Some of the American mystique has gone, even if the raw power remains. That is what makes the scenes in Washington not simply pathetic, but important too.
By Katie Martin, The Atlantic
This was not shocking in the same way as attempted and successful coups elsewhere—Egypt in 2013, Thailand in 2014, Turkey in 2016—which were serious, planned, meticulous. This, it seemed from afar at least, was an orgy of anger whipped up by a deluded and bitter man. It was closer to one of those videos you sometimes get sent of a fight breaking out in the chamber of some obscure parliament, the subplot always being: Look at this crazy place.
By enabling the president anyway, Republican elites helped make the storming of the Capitol possible.
By Ezra Klein, NYT
For years, there has been a mantra that Republicans have recited to comfort themselves about President Trump — both about the things he says and the support they offer him. Trump, they’d say, should be taken seriously, not literally. The coinage comes from a 2016 article in The Atlantic by Salena Zito, in which she complained that the press took Trump “literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.”
On this Roundtable episode of the Defense & Aerospace Report Podcast, sponsored by Bell, our guests are Dov Zakheim, PhD, former DoD comptroller, now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Gordon Adams, PhD, Non-Resident Fellow at the Quincy Institute, Byron Callan of the independent equity research firm Capital Alpha Partners, Michael Herson, President and CEO, American Defense International and Chris Servello, a founder of Provision Advisors (and Defense and Aerospace team member).
By Josh A. Goldstein and Shelby Grossman, Brookings
In 2019, and again in 2020, Facebook removed covert social media influence operations that targeted Libya and were linked to the Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin. The campaigns—the first exposed in October 2019, the second in December 2020—shared several tactics: Both created Facebook pages masquerading as independent media outlets and posted political cartoons. But by December 2020, the operatives linked to Prigozhin had updated their toolkit: This time, one media outlet involved in the operation had an on-the-ground presence, with branded merchandise and a daily podcast.
By Randall Lane, Forbes I am chief content officer and editor of Forbes, and post on business, philanthropy--and food! Yesterday’s insurrection was rooted in lies. That a fair election was stolen. That a significant defeat was actually a landslide victory. That the world’s oldest democracy, ingeniously insulated via autonomous state voting regimens, is a rigged system. Such lies-upon-lies, repeated frequently and fervently, provided the kindling, the spark, the gasoline. That Donald Trump devolved from commander-in-chief to liar-in-chief didn’t surprise Forbes: As we’ve chronicled early and often, for all his billions and Barnum-like abilities, he’s been shamelessly exaggerating and prevaricating to our faces for almost four decades. More astonishing: the number of people willing to lend credence to that obvious mendacity on his behalf.
By Megan McArdle, Washington Post
One tragic aspect of what occurred at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday is that many of the insurrectionists who stormed Congress seem to have sincerely believed they were fighting for justice — making a last, desperate effort to stop Congress from knowingly certifying fraudulent election results. If such a thing were actually happening, I’d be pretty sympathetic to the patriots who risked their lives to prevent it.
By Peggy Noonan, WSJ How do we deal with all that has happened? We remember who we are. We are a great nation and a strong one; we have, since our beginning, been a miracle in the political history of man. We have brought much good. We are also in trouble, no point not admitting it. We regain our confidence. We’ve got through trouble before. We love this place and will keep it. We have a Constitution that’s gotten us this far and will get us further. We lower the boom. No civilized country can accept or allow what we saw Wednesday with the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol. This was an attack on democracy itself. That is not just a phrase. Rule by the people relies on adherence to law and process. The assault and siege was an attempt to stop the work of democracy by halting the peaceful transfer of presidential power, our crowning glory for more than two centuries.
By Ronan Farrow, The New Yorker
As insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol this week, a few figures stood out. One man, clad in a combat helmet, body armor, and other tactical gear, was among the group that made it to the inner reaches of the building. Carrying zip-tie handcuffs, he was captured in photographs and videos on the Senate floor and with a group that descended on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office suite. In a video shot by ITV News, he is seen standing against a wall adjacent to Pelosi’s office, his face covered by a bandana. At another point, he appears to exit the suite, face exposed, pushing his way through the crowds of demonstrators.
By Anne Applebaum, The Atlantic
We have promoted democracy in our movies and books. We speak of democracy in our speeches and lectures. We even sing about democracy, from sea to shining sea, in our national songs. We have entire government bureaus devoted to thinking about how we can help other countries become and remain democratic. We fund institutions that do the same.
By Angelica LaVito, Bloomberg
As the U.S. grapples with record hospitalizations and deaths from the Covid-19 pandemic, a crucial vaccination rollout campaign is being impeded by inconsistent messaging and myriad state strategies as a new variant of the virus drives up infection rates, according to public health experts. The missteps have put the number of vaccinations well behind targets set by the Trump administration’s U.S. Operation Warp Speed effort. About 5.46 million doses have been administered in the U.S. since mid-December, or 32% of those that have been distributed across the country and well below the Trump administration’s goal of 20 million by the end of 2020, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News.
The invasion of the Capitol and the Democrats’ victory in Georgia will change the course of the Biden presidency
By The Economist
Four years ago Donald Trump stood in front of the Capitol building to be sworn into office and promised to end “American carnage”. His term is concluding with a sitting president urging a mob to march on Congress—and then praising it after it had resorted to violence. Be in no doubt that Mr Trump is the author of this lethal attack on the heart of American democracy. His lies fed the grievance, his disregard for the constitution focused it on Congress and his demagoguery lit the fuse. Pictures of the mob storming the Capitol, gleefully broadcast in Moscow and Beijing just as they were lamented in Berlin and Paris, are the defining images of Mr Trump’s unAmerican presidency.
By Ella F. Washington, Alison Hall Birch, and Erika Hall, Harvard Business Review When major events like this happen, with millions of people watching, the workplace spillover is inevitable. And, particularly over the past year, many organizations have committed to stepping up in such situations to support their workers’ needs. Consider the clear and strong stances many companies took in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by police, including work with internal and external partners to develop their DEI competencies and address social justice issues. This is yet another opportunity for managers to put those corporate ideals into practice on the ground.
By Vadim Liberman, PR Daily
What happens in the world outside of work often has a direct impact on what happens at work. Politics, society and the economy frequently converge at work—sometimes leaving HR and communications leaders struggling with their own views and actions. What should communicators and HR pros consider in light of such vile actions? What should they do? Here’s what 21 HR, CEO and communication leaders advise.
By Nicole Schuman, PR Newsonline
The violent acts at the United States Capitol this week proved again how important clear communication remains during a crisis. Organizations and brands took to social media and the airwaves to state their positions. For some organizations, like the D.C. Police Union, statements included necessary facts for the public, such as where each law enforcement sector’s responsibilities lie. Providing the public with important information, particularly from a security standpoint, remains the top communication priority during a serious situation.
Even on a shoestring budget, PR is vital to your business success.
By Kaylee Kolditz, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Public relations (PR) is a key ingredient in a business’s marketing and communications mix. While paid advertising has its benefits, it doesn’t build trust or establish a level of legitimacy for your business and brand the way PR initiatives can. So, it’s important to understand what PR is and how you can embark on effective campaigns without breaking the bank.
By Lisa Button & Philip McGowan, PR Daily
Customer service was created to solve problems, not be a source for them. But too often today, customers view the departments established to help them as the place where their problems are destined to die. They are angry even before they reach out, whether by phone, text or on social media. Their attitudes show it. This often isn’t fair—not to the brave and beleaguered customer service representatives on the front lines and not to the companies that put them there. Today’s world—rocked by pandemics, climate change, and unrest—is highly unpredictable, and its unpredictability touches every customer-facing industry.
By Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman, Harvard Business Review When discussing the careers of women leaders, there’s a phenomenon referred to as the “glass cliff.” It’s an obvious relative to the term glass ceiling, which describes the invisible barrier to advancement that women often face when they are up for promotion to the highest levels of an organization. The “glass cliff” describes the idea that when a company is in trouble, a female leader is put in charge to save it. When women are finally given a chance to prove themselves in a senior position, they are handed something that is already broken and where the chances of failure are high.
By Lakshmi Hanspal, Harvard Business Review
As remote work continues to be a pillar of our new normal, organizations are realizing that the security environment has dramatically changed. Securing remote work isn’t solely the job of the IT team, however — it also requires trust. Senior leadership needs to be able to trust from the beginning that their teams have secured systems for remote work. Customers need to trust that their data is protected. Employees need to trust that there are systems in place to support them.
The U.S. Failed to Execute Its Cyberstrategy—and Russia Pounced--Even the Best Playbook Is Useless If You Don’t Follow It
By Rob Knake, Foreign Affairs Last month, the cybersecurity firm FireEye alerted the U.S. government that hackers had breached its defenses and accessed the networks of its clients, which include numerous U.S. federal agencies and major corporations. Since then, U.S. investigators have unearthed evidence of an enormous, months-long foreign hacking campaign that gained access to the networks of at least 18,000 companies and government entities through a weak link in their supply chains: a piece of management software produced by the Texas-based company SolarWinds. Analysts are still investigating the exact source of the hack, but all evidence points to the Russian external intelligence agency known as the SVR.
Go ahead and laugh. But if we’re such a joke state, why are all of your neighbors moving here?
By Dave Seminara, WSJ Florida remains the Rodney Dangerfield of states, admired by some but derided by many. In his book “Best. State. Ever: A Florida Man Defends His Homeland,” Dave Barry laments that his adopted home is considered a “joke state.” But even Mr. Barry concedes that Florida, “because of its unique shape and warm climate, does have an unusually high percentage of low IQ people doing stupid things, frequently naked.” Last year, a study ranked Florida the country’s 28th smartest state. The headline in the Miami Herald was: “Florida is not the dumbest state in the union. Are you surprised?”
By Nikki Wentling, Stars and Stripes
President Donald Trump signed a sweeping legislative package Tuesday that aims to help veterans facing a variety of challenges, including homelessness, access to care for women and Native Americans, toxic exposure and the coronavirus. The legislation gained unanimous approval in Congress on Dec. 17 and was sent to the White House on Dec. 24. Tuesday was the final day for Trump to signal his support for the legislation. Presidents are given 10 days to sign bills before they become law without their signatures. “Congress passed this critical end-of-year veterans’ package to enact changes and provide support for every corner of our veteran community,” said Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., leader of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “I applaud President Trump for signing this important legislation into law.”
LeBron James Proposes Forming Ownership Group for Atlanta Dream; Discusses 'Push for Change' After Jacob Blake Ruling
By Madeline Coleman, Sports Illustrated
While the Lakers beat the Grizzlies on Tuesday night and LeBron James scored 26 points, the 36-year-old knew there were more important things happening across the country that would impact his and his kids' futures. "I'm smart enough to know that even though we're playing a game of basketball that there's so much more that's going on in the world," James said in postgame interviews. "So much more that's even more important than us playing a game."