Farewell, Joe LeGrand

Once upon a time I didn't like Joe LeGrand. It was 3rd grade. I was in the Epiphany Toppers Drum and Bugle Corps, and Joe was a bugler who stood right in front of me. He kept turning around and giving me dirty looks. So I decided right then and there that I didn't like him.

Joe was a year ahead of me in school. While our lives intersected a lot, we weren't really close. We ran in different circles in grade school and high school.

But he started working at Binder's Market in St. Louis Hills, and my mom and dad went in there a lot, so I ran into him now and then. Those encounters--about 1989--were confusing. He'd smile when he recognized me--like he'd been waiting for me to walk in because he had a great story to tell me. Just me, no one else.

He usually did.

Joe and his brothers eventually bought Binder's and renamed it LeGrand's. The store didn't accept food stamps, but the LeGrand generosity was unlimited. They donated everything, including their time and their infinite spirit. And their endless smiles.

I like all the LeGrands, but Joe ended up being one of the people I admired most. He gave my nephew a job when my nephew was very young. Taught him more about customer service than all the MBAs graduated in the last 40 years will ever know. Not that Scottie doesn't have a natural talent for sales and getting customers what they want--he does. But Joe LeGrand exposed that talent and helped teach Scottie how to let it shine. And Scottie wasn't the only student of Joe LeGrand's customer service school.

LeGrand's served simply the best sandwiches, brats, barbecue, and meats in South St. Louis for 30 years. And no one ever went in and out of LeGrand's without feeling they'd just spent time with good friends. Here's what Joe told Feast Magazine about knowing his customers:

“We know ‘em by name,” LeGrand says with conviction. “When they hit the door, we’re making their sandwich. I have customers who come in and we change the radio station. I’ll put on some Dean Martin. We know these customers that well.”

Yeah. Hear that, BoA? (Is the Deano for Scottie?)

Joe LeGrand passed away last week. He was only 52--one year older than me.

Joe's death leaves a big hole in this world, especially in South St. Louis. We can take some solace in the fact that Joe taught a lot of young people how to serve the public, how to give more to customers than customers expected for their dollar, and how to smile no matter how bad you hurt.

And he taught me a lesson I need to learn over and over again: when you decide you don't like someone, you're probably wrong.

I was wrong in 3rd grade. Joe LeGrand was a stand-up man who would change the world for many people.

Eternal rest grant unto him, Lord, and let the the perpetual light shine upon him.

How the chippies will miss him.

More reactions:

Riverfront Times:

Who is going to replace LeGrand at the market? "Nobody is going to replace him. We're still trying to decide what is going to happen," said Perry.

Instead of flowers, the family asked that memorial donations be made in LeGrand's name to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. We also suggest you have a great sandwich to honor him. His favorite was the "LeGrand Special" -- roast beef, turkey, corned beef, cheddar, lettuce and tomato.

Ted Drewes

The South St. Louis Community lost a very dear friend this past week. Joe LeGrand's pride and passion for providing us...

Posted by Ted Drewes Inc. on Monday, August 3, 2015

Joe serves an excellent steak. Image clipped from http://www.feastmagazine.com/dine-out/features/article_35e2179a-2eef-11e4-a9b6-0017a43b2370.html

Now, the White House Says Russia Preparing to Invade Ukraine

This morning, a White House aide told reporters that Obama’s sanctions are visibly “weakening” Putin and Russia. Hours later, the White House recognizes that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could come any moment.

Speaking from the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, Mike Rogers, the chair of the House of Representatives intelligence committee, said US intelligence officials were convinced “that Putin is not done in Ukraine”.

Surprise. As I’ve written, Russian paranoia demands a larger sphere of influence and a large buffer of puppet governments, all the way to the German border with Poland. Plus, Putin has no strategic reason to stop with Crimea. Having articulated the Putin Doctrine that allows Russia to invade any country where two or three gather to speak Russian, any tweet from a Russian-speaking person in any country as a pretext for invasion and occupation.Finally, Putin knows that his window for re-establishing the Soviet Union’s extensive collection of occupied nations could slam shut when the United States elects a new President in 2016.

Here’s my best guess on Putin’s map for 2016:


Red is conquered. Pink represents countries forced, by Western weakness, to accept Russian dictates.

To me, the question is no longer “will Putin continue to conquer Europe,” but “will the West survive?”

The US and Europe have no economic means to go to war without first defaulting on trillions of dollars in debt. The Obama Pentagon has systematically dismantled the US military, currently working on a plan to reduce forces to pre-World War II levels. (Because man is too advanced to ever fight another war.) Plus, the US public’s tolerance for war is near zero. From left to right on political dial, the energy comes from those who want America to get out of the World’s Policeman role.

Put it altogether, and we could be in a for nasty 2014-2015.

This might not be a bad time to learn some basic disaster preparedness skills. Start with Peak Prosperity blog. If the bad thing never comes in your lifetime, you’ll at least learn how to live a little cheaper.

What Would You Do If You Were Putin?

You saw Obama stand by as you threatened Georgia in 2009. You heard Obama whisper to Medvedev that he’ll be willing to defy Congress to capitulate to you after Obama’s re-election.

You watched Obama and his bumbling Secretary of State mangle its its own strategy in Syria—if the US ever had a Syrian strategy at all.

You saw that the US was completely unprepared for your annexation of Crimea.

You see the headlines of massive NSA spying on US citizens, though that same NSA was blind to your invasion of Ukraine.

And you know that Obama will be a lame duck, weakened, unpopular president until January 20, 2017.

Think is, you have no idea what kind of leader will follow Obama.

You remember that the American people replaced a similarly weak and bumbling Jimmy Carter with the determined, affable cowboy Ronald Reagan.

If you’re Vladimir Putin, wouldn’t you grab all the land you can before the next American election?


What Will Putin Do?

Book That Called Russia’s Expansionism.



1.2 Million Reasons to Vote for Eileen Tyrrell on April 8

Do you live in Rockwood School District? I do. My kids all went to Rockwood schools. My wife taught in a Rockwood school for three years.

The teachers in Rockwood tend to think a lot like the people who live here. They're not a bunch of wacked-out lefties. Not most of them.

Still, that good education has come with HUGE price tag. Rockwood is one of the most expensive districts in Missouri. Property taxes for residents are almost double the average car payment.

And Rockwood's board and administrators have a long, ugly history of scandal, corruption, and waste. The Missouri Auditor and the Missouri Ethics Commission practically have field offices at Rockwood's headquarters.

For me, that last bullet is the root of all Rockwood's evil. School board members get arrogant and secretive. The Rockwood Board does the bidding of the NEA instead of representing the taxpayers who build and maintain the schools. They use your tax dollars to extort more of your tax dollars. They want it all.

That's why Rockwood needs a real champion of education and the people.

Vote for Eileen Tyrrell on April 8

If not for Eilleen Tyrrell, that crooked construction company would still be pocketing millions of your tax dollars illegally. Eilleen Tyrrell and Lisa Hunt Earls formed Rockwood Stakeholders for Real Solutions in 2011. Eilleen wanted to give taxpayers a voice.

Eileen Tyrrell gave you a voice, and that voice made your schools better. But it wasn't easy. RSRS continues to battle the NEA-appointed Board of Education at every turn.

The union bosses and their hand-picked BOE think your money is their play toy. And they don't like citizen activists like Eileen protected your pockets.

Last year, Eileen made a difficult decision. As one of the boldest, most tenacious ambassadors of accountability in education, Eileen decided she needed to represent you on the inside.

I support and Eileen Tyrrell for Rockwood School Board on April 8th--and every other day of the year.

I meet a lot of people through St. Louis Tea Party activities. Many of those people come out and do a lot of hard work. But that work takes a toll. Most cannot sustain their effort over a long period.

Eileen Tyrrell never gives up. Eileen has fought the good fight--and won--more than anyone I've met in the 5 years that the Tea Party has been around.

Now, the NEA is strong-arming teachers to fight Eileen. Some of those union-blinded teachers will put pressure on you and on your kids to stand by the old guard and their secretive, expensive, corrupt ways.

One Rockwood teacher wrote an impassioned Facebook post encouraging you to vote the way her union bosses tell you to vote.

But you're not like that. You chose to live in Rockwood because you know that hard, honest work wins out. You don't take orders from union bosses, and you don't let elected officials secretly divvy out your tax dollars to their friends.

I am confident that you will join me in supporting and electing Eileen Tyrrell on April 8th.

If you believe in government accountability and good schools you will click this link, send Eileen a few dollars to fight the NEA's millions, and ask just 2 other people to vote for Eileen on April 8th. That's the only election you need to care about.

Vote for Eileen Tyrrell on April 8th in Rockwood School District.



This Book Predicted Russia's Ukraine Adventure. Poland's Next.

Did you ever read a book and think, "I need to tell people about this?" Then you didn't tell people about it. I mean, you didn't blog about it. You didn't "officially" proclaim the book "required reading."

Then something happened that you knew could happen because of the book, but you don't get credit for calling it because you never got around to pumping the book.

That's how I feel today.

The book is The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century by George Friedman, founder of STRATFOR, came to me as a gift from a great friend (who I don't see enough) around Christmas 2012. Friedman wrote the book in 2009. Here are some of the insights I noted back then:

  1. Stop sweating China. China will turn inward soon, as it always does, probably splitting its coastal, Westward-looking areas from its interior.
  2. Russia, on the other hand, wants to reassemble the Warsaw Pact into a buffer.

(Here's an important post by Friedman about the present crisis in Ukraine.)

I made more notes, but those were the biggies. Here were some specifics on point 2:

On the Orange Revolution in Ukraine

The Orange Revolution in Ukraine, from December 2004 to January 2005, was the moment when the post–Cold War world genuinely ended for Russia. The Russians saw the events in Ukraine as an attempt by the United States to draw Ukraine into NATO and thereby set the stage for Russian disintegration. Quite frankly, there was some truth to the Russian perception.

On Russia's Strategic Need to Dominate Ukraine

If the West had succeeded in dominating Ukraine, Russia would have become indefensible. The southern border with Belarus, as well as the southwestern frontier of Russia, would have been wide open. In addition, the distance between Ukraine and western Kazakhstan is only about four hundred miles, and that is the gap through which Russia has been able to project power toward the Caucasus (see map, page 71). We should assume, then, that under these circumstances Russia would have lost its ability to control the Caucasus and would have had to retreat farther north from Chechnya. The Russians would have been abandoning parts of the Russian Federation itself, and Russia's own southern flank would become highly vulnerable. Russia would have continued to fragment until it returned to its medieval frontiers.

Ukraine and Belarus are everything to the Russians. If they were to fall into an enemy's hands—for example, join NATO—Russia would be in mortal danger. Moscow is only a bit over two hundred miles from the Russian border with Belarus, Ukraine less than two hundred miles from Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad. Russia defended against Napoleon and Hitler with depth. Without Belarus and Ukraine, there is no depth, no land to trade for an enemy's blood. It is, of course, absurd to imagine NATO posing a threat to Russia. But the Russians think in terms of twenty-year cycles, and they know how quickly the absurd becomes possible.

On What Russia's Doing About It

After what Russia regarded as an American attempt to further damage it, Moscow reverted to a strategy of reasserting its sphere of influence in the areas of the former Soviet Union. The great retreat of Russian power ended in Ukraine. Russian influence is now increasing in three directions: toward Central Asia, toward the Caucasus, and, inevitably, toward the West, the Baltics, and Eastern Europe. For the next generation, until roughly 2020, Russia's primary concern will be reconstructing the Russian state and reasserting Russian power in the region.

On What Happens Next

But the real flash point, in all likelihood, will be on Russia's western frontier. Belarus will align itself with Russia. Of all the countries in the former Soviet Union, Belarus has had the fewest economic and political reforms and has been the most interested in re-creating some successor to the Soviet Union. Linked in some way to Russia, Belarus will bring Russian power back to the borders of the former Soviet Union.

From the Baltics south to the Romanian border there is a region where borders have historically been uncertain and conflict frequent. In the north, there is a long, narrow plain, stretching from the Pyrenees to St. Petersburg. This is where Europe's greatest wars were fought. This is the path that Napoleon and Hitler took to invade Russia. There are few natural barriers. Therefore, the Russians must push their border west as far as possible to create a buffer. After World War II, they drove into the center of Germany on this plain. Today, they have retreated to the east. They have to return, and move as far west as possible. That means the Baltic states and Poland are, as before, problems Russia has to solve.

Russia's Ukraine Adventure

Poland Is Next

As Friedman predicted, Poland would become a problem for Russia to solve.  So today's Business Insider headline struck me. And it should strike fear into Poles.

This Russian Exclave Has Poland Worried About What Putin Will Do Next

Kaliningrad was originally a part of Germany until its annexation by the Soviet Union in 1945. During the Cold War, Kaliningrad was one of the most militarized and closed off sections of the USSR.

Today, Kaliningrad is of extreme strategic value as it hosts the Russian Baltic Fleet in the port of Baltiysk — Russia's sole ice-free European port. Kaliningrad is also home to the Chernyakhovsk  and Donskoye air bases. It is uncertain how many soldiers Russia has in the region; however, short-range mobile ballistic missiles have also been deployed in Kaliningrad since at least 2012.

Just as Friedman predicted.

The Poles fear the Russians and the Germans. Trapped between the two, without natural defenses, they fear whichever is stronger at any time. Unlike the rest of Eastern Europe, which at least has the barrier of the Carpathians between them and the Russians—and shares a border with Ukraine, not Russia—the Poles are on the dangerous northern European plain. When the Russians return to their border in force in the process of confronting the Baltic states, the Poles will react. Poland has almost forty million people. It is not a small country, and since it will be backed by the United States, not a trivial one.

Polish support will be thrown behind the Balts. The Russians will pull the Ukrainians into their alliance with Belarus and will have Russian forces all along the Polish border, and as far south as the Black Sea. At this point the Russians will begin the process of trying to neutralize the Balts. This, I believe, will all take place by the mid-2010s.

America and NATO Are Powerless

Guys like John McCain just don't get it. America's ability to intervene in Europe ended when the government and the fed transferred trillions in real and future dollars from the US economy into the hands of Wall Street favorites.

Plus, the US is without a president capable of the  most basic geopolitical strategy. I know Obama fans think he's brilliant. He's not. Assad, Putin, and others have run mental circles around our president. Oh, an Iran. Remember the "peace in our time" John Kerry announcement on Iran?  Iran didn't skip a beat in its march toward nuclear weapons. He seems to lack even the intellect to recognize when he's been had.

The world falling apart and looking for someone to lead. Obama just ordered our armed forces to shrink back to pre-World War II size just in time for World War III. Vladimir Putin seized the moment to fill the void.

History may not repeat, but it rhymes.

Read The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century to get a feel for where this goes next. And don't forget, America is out of money.

Why Do Messages Backfire?

In the 1970s, a magazine ad for Benson & Hedges cigarettes portrayed a hockey fight. Two players slug it out. Sticks and gloves litter the ice. The point of view is on-ice, in the midst of the scrum. The crowd is on its feet, banging the glass. You're right there with linesmen trying to break it up.

The hockey gloves are Coopers. Every hockey player knows the name. In the photo, one of the gloves has been doctored.

Hockey Benson & Hedges Ad

Where the word "Cooper" belongs is another word. A word you wouldn't expect a cigarette company to place on an ad for cigarettes. But the word is undeniable.

It's "cancer."



Because advertisers understand how messaging works. Government and politicians don't.

Here's an explanation of the ad from the Dark Side of Subliminal blog:

This print ad has been deliberately created, with a subliminal message, to tap into the subconscious anxiety and fear of the target audience, surrounding the threat of cancer.
With concern over the fear of cancer, stress management expert Sally Wilson states:
“All fear will create a degree of anxiety. Conscious fears can be relatively easy to dissolve through reasoning. Other fears can deeply affect our subconscious attitudes and affect our mental health with the power to disturb our peace of mind. We may not even be aware of them. But they will all contribute to any anxiety state we may suffer.”1
Read the whole article on Darkside of Subliminal Advertising. It's fascinating.
Still don't get it? Smoking cessation guru Eric Eraly explaines more:
As a smoker, you smoke a lot of cigarettes when you feel fear…So, when I tell you that smoking is bad, that you can get cancer from it…that you are killing yourself, most likely you’ll become afraid and you’ll want a cigarette.
Every smoker knows Eraly's right. Anxiety makes the monkey scratch. Fear makes him bite.
In Benson & Hedges ad, the advertiser increased the desire to smoke with an ad the Surgeon General would have applauded. Advertisers know what doctors do not. Perhaps because advertisers get paid to change behavior while doctors get paid to deal with consequences.
On Monday, I wrote about Senator Roy Blunt's bill to require a disclaimer on Obamacare ads that informs people they paid for the ad. I understand his sentiment. His prescription will backfire.
Here's another example of government messaging having and effect 180 degrees out from its intent.
Researchers studied the effects of messaging parents about the safety of childhood vaccines. The finding are amazing.
Parents who were initially skeptical of the MMR vaccine's safety, but were convinced by the messaging the the vaccine is safe, became less likely to have their children vaccinated. From LiveScience:
Surveying 1,759 parents, researchers found that while they were able to teach parents that the vaccine and autism were not linked, parents who were surveyed who had initial reservations about vaccines said they were actually less likely to vaccinate their children after hearing the researchers messages.
While the parents were cognitively converted to the pro-vaccine position, they became emotionally more anti-vaccine because of the messaging.
And the reverse hits just keep on coming. Again from The Dark Side of Subliminal Advertising:
Recently, the largest neuromarketing experiment in history was conducted using two of the most sophisticated brain-scanning instruments in the world, fMRI (Functional magnetic resonance imaging) and SST (steady-state topography-an advanced version of the electroencephalograph).
This study was funded by eight multinational companies and cost around $7 million.
Dr. Gemma Calvert, the leader of the research team for the large neuromarketing experiment, discovered the following:
1.     “Cigarette warnings—whether they informed smokers they were at risk of contracting emphysema, heart disease, or a host of other chronic conditions—had in fact stimulated an area of the smoker’s brain called the nucleus accumbens, otherwise known as “the craving spot."  This region is a chain-link of specialized neurons that lights up when the body desires something.” 12
2.     “In short, the fMRI results showed that cigarette warning labels not only failed to deter smoking, but by activating the nucleus accumbens, it appeared they actually encouraged smokers to light up.” 13
So what's the answer? Throw up our hands and give up?
No. Changing beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors is too important to surrender. Advertisers don't give up. You never heard Don Draper say, "Forget it, Roger. You can't get people to buy laxatives."
To change beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors, look at the sciences. Don't craft messages that make you feel good about yourself. Don't try to convince people that you have the facts on your side. It doesn't work.
Instead, think about the person you're talking to. What do they believe? What's important to them? What do they want? You might have to talk to them to answer those questions.
Help people get what they want, and they might put some emotional stock in what you believe. And without emotional connections, behavior change won't happen. Facts don't matter until after the emotional decision's been made.
The FBI's behavior change model is one approach. It involves five building block:
  • Active listening
  • Empathy
  • Rapport
  • Influence
  • Behavior Change

(Read more on Barking Up The Wrong Tree.)

That's actually the model for getting anyone to do anything. It requires a willingness to communicate with people who don't agree with you yet. It means thinking in their context, not yours.

Yes, effective behavior change takes more effort than slapping a disclaimer on a radio commercial or printing a warning on a pack of cigarettes. But scientific persuasion actually works.