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J.C. Penney: A National Disgrace

Johnson brought a deadly mix of egomania and delusion to the job, overpaid by a board he -- even if innocently -- duped. And now the Board ousts him to (re)bring in another person clearly not cut out for the task at hand.

As a nation, we're proud of Apple and other tech names. Even tech underachievers put JCP to shame. We should be extra proud of Howard Schultz and his team at Starbucks (SBUX). Yet, you never hear any of the suits and dresses on JCP and BBY Boards talking about what has happened over the years at Starbucks?

Are they too dense and out of touch to see the connection?

To see a company that has harnessed everything from daily habit to loyalty to mobile and digital to create a user experience that transcends coffee.

Starbucks could -- all else equal -- afford to stand still for a little while. It could get by pulling the same tricks out of the same dead and tired bag -- a la JCP and BBY with merchandising overhauls, enhanced customer service, stores within stores and odd tweaks on the meaning of the word "sale" -- but it doesn't. It walks and talks and acts like a tech company. It pushes the envelope on innovation.

And, along with Apple and Amazon and a handful other names, it's one of the companies America can truly be proud of.

It was one thing to watch newspapers collapse at the hands of the Web and social media, but at least old guard publishers have managed to stay in the game at varying degrees. The game just changed; they hung on tight enough so it did not leave them completely in the dust.

But that's not the case with the department store. Ron Johnson walks away at JCP. The board makes another bonehead move. More people will lose jobs. The right ones -- young, tech-minded visionaries -- will probably not get hired to influential slots. And an American institution will wither away because of a lack of visionary and revolutionary will on the part of boards of directors and management teams that should have been put out to pasture long ago.

I know it shouldn't, but the whole sordid tale makes me angry.

-- Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola is TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola's daily contributions to TheStreet frequently appear on CNBC and at various top online properties, such as Forbes.
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