Archive for the ‘Flip Flopping’ Category

Service of Changing Your Mind IV

Thursday, September 3rd, 2020


I’ve written here about this subject covering an organization that disinvited a celebrity speaker to politicians flip-flopping about policies or giving the go-ahead for a public event and then cancelling it in the end. Apology and forgiveness are cousins to changing one’s mind and I’ve written about these as well.


What, if anything, does it take to change a voter’s mind? The people who run political campaigns must think it can be done or they wouldn’t throw mud and innuendo at one another and plant rumors. Has Trump had a stroke or Covid-19? Is Melania steadying him as he walks which is why she holds his hand these days?  Does Biden have dementia? Why is he hiding in his basement?

Every time I enter a room to get something and I can’t recall why, I remember I’ve been doing this since college when I’d arrive in a friend’s dorm room and go blank. Lucky I’ve not run for office all these years as I’d already be institutionalized by the media. I’ve never remembered movie or book titles, hotel or restaurant names. I’m ashamed. My husband enabled me as he always came up with the info I’d forgotten.

I marvel at actors who remember a book’s length of lines and friends who always dig up the title or name I’m groping for. Google is a godsend, but I digress.

Are people who turn a blind eye to a politician’s transgressions as easy on their spouses, siblings and children? What filter do voters use to determine truth from fiction? Do we believe only what we want to hear? What does it take for a politician on one side of the aisle to compromise or change his/her mind or is that out of the question these days? Have you ever changed your mind about anything?


Service of Do as I Say….

Monday, August 1st, 2011


….Not as I do.

You’ve heard of the parent who yells at the children on a Sunday morning, ordering them to hurry up and get dressed and off to church on time and then turns over and falls back to sleep. I thought of the do as I say, not as I do man I knew when listening to pro-business New York morning talk radio host John Gambling discuss two events relating to General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt last week.

Note: Gambling is not a President Obama fan and Immelt heads the President’s panel of outside economic advisors–more about this shortly.

I went to Google to make sure I heard correctly and confirmed the instances Gambling mentioned:  That in less than half a month, Immelt coolly contradicted himself.

us-chamber-of-commerce**At CNNMoney on July 11 Chris Isidore wrote: “The head of General Electric told a jobs summit at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Monday that businesses needed to take the lead on job creation.”

**On July 26, Vittorio Hernandez wrote on “General Electric announced on Monday that it will move its healthcare x-ray division headquarters from the U.S. to Beijing, China in August.”

counting-moneyBack to Immelt being the head of outside economic advisors. In Service of Pet Peeves II and previously, a reader has corrected me about my criticism of Immelt for his profitable corporation paying no taxes at a time of economic crisis and for moving the light bulb operation to China to save manufacturing costs-and now x-ray headquarters for the same reason.  I understand that his job as the head of a corporation is to make money for his stockholders and for this he gets an A+.

But is this the person to be addressing job creation here? Is this the fellow to lead economic advisors to the President right now? I pray that I am connecting all the wrong dots to come to this conclusion, but as a PR person sensitive to superficial things like consistency, symbolism, and practicing what you preach, Immelt is sending out all the wrong messages in the economic advisory role. Only if the plan is for all of us who want to work to move to China is he our man. Your thoughts?


Service of Restrictions

Monday, November 8th, 2010


As you read it, you’ll notice that this post could also be called, “Service of Mixed Messages.”

I get the restrictions on liquor and cigarettes for children under a certain age but I wonder, no doubt due to my love of Crackerjacks and happy memories of tiny tops and other surprises hiding in those boxes of toothsome caramel popcorn, whether a city or state should also protect children from high calorie food with toys.

The Board of Supervisors will be protecting the children of San Francisco in this way, which you no doubt heard or read about on TV, radio, on the Internet–everywhere last week. As of a year from next month, a restaurant meal and drink can’t include a toy if its calorie count is more than 600. And less than 35 percent of those calories can be from fat.

Maybe we should ban bubblegum too. Family lore has it that I picked up some chewed bubblegum from a NYC sidewalk and popped it into my then two year old mouth which no doubt happened to thousands of others. Think of the potential choking and disease!

school-lunchroomWhile San Francisco is banning Happy Meals and their equivalent, did you know that 23.5 percent of high schools offered fast food from chains? Lesley Alderman, in “Putting Nutrition at the Front of the School Lunch Line” shared this statistic from the Centers for Disease Control, identifying Taco Bell and Pizza Hut as examples.

While too much food is going on, Alderman notes in The New York Times, that “School lunches must meet a minimum calorie limit set by the government, but it’s up to individual schools to decide how the calories are apportioned. If a meal has not reached the limit, the cook can toss on extra slices of bread to bring up the count.” So some kids aren’t getting enough calories? Shouldn’t we focus on them too?

pizza2And since I’ve digressed to the secondary theme of mixed messages, what about the front page story in the same paper, “While Warning About Fat, U.S. Pushes Cheese Sales.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the same place that warns people about eating high calorie foods laced with saturated fats, helped Domino Pizza revitalize its recipe by adding both calories and fat in the form of additional cheese. The result, a dramatic sales spurt. Along with the formula makeover, Dairy Management [part of the Department] “proceeded to devise and pay for a $12 million marketing campaign” according to the writer Michael Moss.

Do you think that the government should influence what we buy to put into our mouths unrelated to cleanliness and safety? Does the increasing government involvement in health care give the government the right to interfere–in a “He who funds, runs” sort of way?


Service of Lies

Monday, May 17th, 2010


People lie for obvious reasons. Americans are funny about the penchant. Criminals are often punished by press, public and juries not so much because of what they did wrong, but because they lied about taking drugs, keeping a mistress while married, stealing funds, insider trading or whatever. Scuttlebutt has it that former Governor Spitzer will be OK because he admitted to his wrongdoing.

Within a week, The Wall Street Journal twice covered the subject head-on, which may have been coincidence, or may be an oblique way to nibble at the hanky panky going on not only on Wall Street but everywhere, while explaining the causes.

I’m not talking about the kind of story such as “Ex-Senator Could Face Longer Term in Fraud Case,” in Friday’s New York Times although it illustrates my first point. Benjamin Weiser reported “Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are seeking a significantly longer prison sentence for former State Senator Efrain Gonzalez, Jr., claiming that he lied when he told a judge he wanted to withdraw his guilty plea because he was innocent of the charges.”

I am referring to “Survival of the Fibbest: Why We Lie So Well,” by Shirley S. Wang and Eric Felten’s De Gustibus column, “6,300 Dupes Want to Know: Why’d You Lie?

childadult1Wang covers the development of lying from childhood to adulthood. I got the impression from some points made that smarter people lie-“Since telling a lie involves multiple brain processes, the more developed frontal regions of adolescent and adult brains help them keep up their bluffing.” Now lying is considered bluffing? And anyway, I’ve known world-class liars who are intelligent but who eventually forget their lies and lose all credibility with me and goodness knows how developed the frontal regions of my brain are.

Wang proffers a good excuse: “Many adults don’t even notice when they lie because they do it so often for altruistic purposes and may stop making a distinction between that and other motives.” That’s a good one. Because I don’t tell one friend who has gone through hell that she looks as she fears or I do tell another friend that her dinner was tasty when it resembled sawdust, does that give me a pass to lie to my family, clients and friends because I don’t know the difference between the white and black kind?

professorsIn the second Journal article, Eric Felten wrote about researchers Modupe Akinola of Columbia University and Katherine Milkman of the University of Pennsylvania who duped over 6,000 professors into responding to a question for a study by pretending to be a guidance-seeking graduate student. Their excuse was that they would have tainted the results of their study–to learn if professors give up more of their time if asked to help a student immediately or in the future–had they said who they were. Some respondents were livid, but Felten notes that “The American Psychological Association ethics code specifically allows ‘deceptive techniques’ in research where ‘effective nondeceptive alternative procedures are not feasible.'”

Felten also wrote that the author of “Illusions of Reality: A History of Deception in Social Psychology,” James H. Korn, “found that before 1945, fewer than one in ten studies used deception. By the 1970s, half of such research relied on trickery.”

Is deception/spin lying? Waiting for the New York State legislature to pass a budget, Governor Patterson suggested a one-day-a-week furlough for 100,000 state workers to save $200+ million. Meanwhile, to replace several people in his press office, Patterson promoted five from inside and gave them raises totaling $40,000. The representatives for the disgruntled state workers ran to the media and headlines screamed that the Governor was giving raises to his staff while causing others to lose their incomes. The facts: One staff member’s salary catapulted from $35,000 to $40,000. Those who left the press office were making $150,000. To keep the focus on the budget, the Governor told the staff he would take away their raises so as to keep everyone focused on the budget crisis. Then the reps accused him of not knowing what he was doing, of flip-flopping.

policeWhen the police dupe a suspect into confessing by claiming to know for sure that such and such happened or saying that an alleged collaborator in an adjacent room has already spilled the beans about the caper– when neither is true–are these OK lies?

While I don’t cotton to lying, hate being lied to, and have a clear inner compass that steers me away from doing so, there may be extraordinary times when lying is OK, but the liars, in these instances, must be scrupulously honest experts who know the rules and have good reasons for breaking them.

Do you think deception is lying? Do you think that there are exceptions when lying is acceptable?


Service of Flip Flopping

Monday, March 29th, 2010


Parents laugh when their young children make pronouncements such as “I will never marry,” or “I wouldn’t be caught going there if it were the last place on earth.” They don’t hold their children to such pronouncements. Executives are praised for changing a company’s direction thereby saving it.

Yet politicians are criticized for changing their minds. How many times do opponents bring up videos or quotes sometimes from years ago–when a 50+ year old opponent was in college–to show that they don’t have vision or have lost their way or at one time voted/endorsed the opposite point of view.

Saturday morning, [March 27th] a newsman I respect, Joe Bartlett on WOR radio, launched an interview with Pedro Espada, Jr. the New York Senate leader, with the fact that Espada had changed his mind about adding tolls to New York City’s East River bridges. Espada now thinks they are a good idea.

sticktogunIn economic times such as these, sticking to one’s guns no matter what seems foolhardy. Few shop and entertain where and as often as they used to. Millions are getting pretty good at making choices and accepting options that under other circumstances they wouldn’t consider. When faced with no job, a pay cut doesn’t seem so bad. Rearranging the living room furniture may be the solution to a space you couldn’t live with another second when the redecorating budget is used to pay unexpected medical bills.

subwaymapThe city’s Metropolitan Transit Authority is threatening to charge children for their MetroCards which they currently get free [and many note it’s hard enough to get some of the kids to go to school without cutting off their transportation]. It’s also anticipating severe bus and subway service cutbacks. In this context, charging drivers a small amount of money to enter the city with a car seems to make sense.

Empathizing with an opponent, enemy or someone who gets under your skin doesn’t make you weak. In fact, it might give you insight as to a creative solution to an impasse. You might find an alternate road or approach that lubricates rather than enrages the situation.

The country is so divided now as we face enormous hurdles. Elected officials seem to be digging in their heels so deep that to take a step would make them trip. While we’re spending all this money anyway, perhaps the Senate and House could afford to buy a few cartons of flip flops, take off their office shoes and don the rubber kind for a while.

Do you change your mind about critical matters more than before? What do you think of people who change theirs?


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