Weekend Digest: The CIA, post-truth, celebrities born on Christmas edition

by Larry Brannan ([email protected]) 262 views 

Talk Business & Politics will air in Northeast Arkansas on Sunday at 10 am on KAIT’s NBC affiliate. Politicos Skip Rutherford and Rex Nelson will be part of our 2016 year-in-review, look ahead to 2017 wrap-up.

We will be off-air in central Arkansas and will return next week. Also next week, we will debut the program in Northwest Arkansas and Fort Smith on KFSM at 10:30 am on Sunday morning.

One of the challenges of being a CEO is that you rarely are asked to choose between a wrong or right answer, says Harvard Business Review.

Instead, chief executives are often presented with two “right” answers, but one is slightly worse. Strategy, after all, is about tradeoffs — choosing where to focus. At the strategic level, picking a slightly better option can create tremendous value. Pick the slightly worse one and the consequences can be far reaching.

So what’s the answer? HBR says, CEOs should actively manage five specific tensions in today’s complex global business environment. Learn what they are at this link.

Business Insider reports, “Housing affordability in the U.S. is at an eight-year low.”

Home prices plunged during the subprime-mortgage crisis that contributed to the 2008 recession. Several high-risk borrowers who had been granted loans became unable to pay, prompting lenders to stop granting risky mortgages, and crushing demand for housing.

The economic recovery and tighter regulations helped heal the market and improve demand. Home values jumped to pre-crisis highs. But wages grew at a much slower pace, worsening affordability, even though mortgage rates were at historic lows.

And now mortgage rates are rising again. According to Freddie Mac, the average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage hit a two-year high of 4.3% this week. That was up from 4.16% last week, when the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate and signaled that it expected to hike in the new year more times than it previously thought.

“The prospect of further interest rate hikes in 2017 will likely cause further deterioration of home affordability next year,” Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at Attom, said in a statement. “Absent a strong resurgence in wage growth, that will put downward pressure on home price appreciation in many local markets.”

For the complete story, follow here.

An agent’s first-hand account of interrogating Saddam Hussein:

“It was December 13, 2003, and I’d been in Iraq for eight weeks, a CIA analyst looking for leads that might take us to Saddam and his notorious henchmen. That was when I was called to see Buzzy Krongard, the CIA’s executive director.

“The war to topple the regime had been going for nearly nine months, yet when it came to Saddam, all we’d turned up were ‘Elvis sightings’, as we called them. Until, that is, troops searching a farm near Saddam’s home village of Tikrit found a large bearded man concealed in a tiny underground bunker.

“Capturing Saddam was all very well, but now we had to get to the truth about his regime, and in particular the weapons of mass destruction that had been the pretext for the invasion. His response was simply to mock us.

“Ignoring his goading, we asked Saddam if he’d ever considered using WMDs pre-emptively against U.S. troops in Saudia. ‘We never thought about using weapons of mass destruction. It was not discussed. Use chemical weapons against the world? Is there anyone with full faculties who would do this? Who would use these weapons when they had not been used against us?’

“That was not what we had expected to hear. How, then, had America go it so wrong?”

Find out at this link from DailyMail.com.

Forbes reports, “In a world of soaring player salaries, we decided to look at who is the top-paid athlete born in every state as well as the District of Columbia.”

Half the states have an athlete making more than $20 million in salary and bonuses this year. Topping the charts is D.C.-native Andrew Luck with $44 million. Which Arkansas native was the highest paid athlete in 2016?

Click on this link to learn them all.

The Cook Political Report posts, “Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s victory was definitely THE most interesting thing that happened in the 2016 election, but it certainly wasn’t the only interesting thing. In keeping with our end-of-cycle tradition, we found 56 more interesting things to tide you over during the holidays as we take a well-earned break.”

But one fact stands out:

“Just three counties – Macomb County, MI; York County, PA and Waukesha County, WI – elected Donald Trump. If those three counties had cast zero votes, Trump would have lost all three states and the election. By the same logic, just three counties re-elected President Obama in 2012: Miami-Dade County, FL; Cuyahoga County, OH and Philadelphia, PA.”

Give this post a full read here.

“Republican lobbyists and CEOs have already found ways to sway the president elect,” reports POLITICO.

Longtime lobbyists, who initially viewed Donald Trump and his political operation as something of a puzzle, appear to have figured out in the month since Election Day the most effective ways to influence the president-elect.

Eight veteran Republican lobbyists, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about relationships between clients and the transition, laid out several paths to persuading the man who vowed to “drain the swamp” of Washington lobbyists and political insiders.

So what’s the inside scoop? Click here for complete details.

Brookings says, “With the exception of Democrats, no group has done more soul searching since election day than journalists.”

As a candidate, Donald Trump demonized the press, used social media to bypass it, hired a media propagandist to run his campaign, and established a pattern of proffering false statements and then denying doing so when caught. Afterward, the Oxford English Dictionary named the adjective “Post-truth” the word of the year, citing both the Brexit and U.S. elections. This declaration clearly indicates that the world of facts in which journalists try to operate, if not lost, is losing ground.

Since November, journalists have wondered in public and private how to cover a Trump government — though the question should probably be turned around to “what do citizens need now from the press?” The answers offered have ranged from the suggestion that the press now abandon all its traditional canons to the idea that it must cling even faster to them than ever.

The ground has indeed shifted. But rather than helping the press, too many of the prescriptions I’ve heard threaten to further marginalize real journalism and play into the hands of those who want to position a free press as the political opposition rather than a separate and independent fourth estate.

The answer for journalism is not going to be found in chucking all the old notions or in clinging to them, but in a blend of embracing some revolutionary methods while keeping faith with some key fundamental principles. The following seven steps outline that path—one that will better serve the public in the new political, technology, and information era.

Read more here.

The Washington Post says, “Ed Schultz used to be the bombastic lefty host of a syndicated radio show and daily MSNBC program. He befriended Hillary Clinton, called Donald Trump ‘a racist’ for his birther views, and once beseeched God to take Dick Cheney ‘to the promised land.'”

But the times have changed. And so has Ed Schultz.

In mid-2015, MSNBC handed Schultz his last paycheck. After six years on the air, the ratings of his daily program, “The Ed Show,” were soft and MSNBC was going for more news in Schultz’s time slot, not opinion. His daily radio show had ended the previous year.

So Schultz went back to his lakefront home in Detroit Lakes, Minn., and took stock. At 61, after a lifetime in broadcasting, he concluded he wasn’t done. In early 2016, he returned to television, albeit in an unlikely place and role for a guy who once styled himself as a “prairie populist.” He became the lead news anchor for RT America, the domestic network of what was once known as Russia Today, a globe-spanning multimedia organization funded by the Russian government.

“Schultz, in other words, went to work for “Putie.” Read the in-depth story at this link.

Whole Hog Sports reports, “Frank Ragnow had some fun with Austin Allen before he announced he was returning to Arkansas for his senior season in an essay Tuesday afternoon.”

The junior ALL-SEC center sent Allen and a few other friends a text message in the morning, hours before the announcement posted on ArkansasRazorbacks.com.

What did it say? Click on this link to get in on the fun.

Ok we’ll give you one: Humphrey Bogart.

Who are the others? AOL has the answer at this link.