Breaking Takes by Al Sikes


Collusion with the Russians

Social and not infrequently anti-social media have created a cyclonic wind of opinion. It is almost amusing when otherwise clear-eyed people add their names to Russian-created content as they post, forward and retweet. There was a great deal of collusion with the Russians, but it was mainly unwitting.

Speaking of unwitting. Calls for government regulation of social media now populate an assortment of media. First, and of fundamental importance, our constitution guarantees free speech, not just accurate speech. Our only recourse is discernment provoked by skepticism.

Trump and Russia

One of our President’s overarching problems is frequent repetition of an ill-informed view regardless of those pesky things called facts. There is a lot of fake stuff around, a fair amount of which is embedded in the President’s twitter feed.

The origin of the expression “cry wolf” comes from one of Aesop’s Fables, The Boy Who Cried Wolf. We all remember the young shepherd amusing himself by calling for help, saying a wolf is threatening his flock when nothing is really happening. Mr. President, you should understand the ultimate risk of devaluing your statements.

Stooge Warning

The only thing worse than blather from politicians on mass shootings is the fact that the media keeps giving them a platform. Surely there are people around with more insight than NRA stooges or those who think gun control alone will solve this societal sickness. Perhaps the press might turn to those that helped start Facebook, Amazon, and Google. Ask them about data capture and analysis plus how to build a relevant database and what information we lack that is needed that might lead to timely actions.

Then you might turn to attorneys who are informed about protective custody laws. Ask them what the public can do when the evidence points to a threatening person who has not yet committed a crime.


The one encouraging sign in the aftermath of the Florida shooting has been taken by the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The students are organizing a March 24 march for Washington, D.C. and other cities to call for stricter gun control legislation.

I am certain they will make good use of social media. I also hope they will call for more than gun control. While gun laws need to be changed, a much more comprehensive approach can result in a dramatic reduction of these tragedies.

And since older people get tongue-tied talking about video games that glamorize violence and desensitize killing, perhaps the students can speak persuasively to those who create the games.

Commodity Presidents

We have just finished celebrating another Presidents Day. Let’s see, were we celebrating Lincoln or Buchanan or Washington or maybe Harrison. In our quest for a long weekend, we have commoditized presidents with few if any references to the extraordinary and principled leadership of George Washington (February 22, 1732) and Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809) who we used to recognize on the days of their birth.

Wonder what else we can we do to neuter history?

Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al recently published Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books. 

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