Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Service of Bad Precedent

Thursday, November 12th, 2020

Photo: reason.com

Many of my friends stopped watching the news weeks before the election. They couldn’t take any more stress. Grownups are capable of this choice and of switching channels.

That’s why I found the following news an eye-opener in the land of freedom of speech:

“The three big broadcast networks — ABC, CBS and NBC —cut away from President Trump’s news conference at the White House on Thursday as the president lobbed false claims about the integrity of the election,” Michael M. Grynbaum and Tiffany Hsu wrote in The New York Times. Fox and CNN stayed with it, they reported.

A few days later Fox News did this to press secretary Kayleigh McEnany for the same reason.

So why are the networks suddenly doing this now? Why didn’t they do it during the 2016 presidential campaign?

Photo: whitehouse.gov

In July, 2020 The Guardian reported that “Donald Trump has made 20,000 false or misleading claims while in office, according to the Washington Post, which identified a “’tsunami of untruths.’”

The 45th president has been covered on TV many times since.

I think cutting off a political figure–especially a president–or her/his spokesperson because you don’t like what you’re hearing is inappropriate. Instead a news organization should have on hand credible pundits who parry the bogus allegations or they shouldn’t cover the conference in the first place.

Should a news organization, or its news division, use its ability to cut off a prominent speaker because its producers or owners feel she/he is making things up? Remember all the tobacco industry chiefs who stared into the camera telling the public that smoking is not harmful? Is this a bad precedent?

Photo: inc.com

Service of Good Sportsmanship

Monday, November 9th, 2020

Photo: savvymom.ca

I think the term “good sportsmanship” is redundant. But can there be too much?

Sportsmanship was paramount at the all-girls school I attended for a dozen years, as I’ve written about previously. Sports were a big deal there. In the day it had more gymnasiums than any other school in NYC.  The two teams–the reds and the whites, as I’ve written previously–bellowed cheers before each game rooting for the opposition.

This was sportsmanship gone overboard.

Photo: savvyparent

Lots of people are thinking about sportsmanship these days. Dan Rather tweeted: “Sportsmanship is being joyous in victory, without gloating. And it is being sad in defeat without being a sore loser. It is a standard I hope we can ultimately achieve.”

A photo of a letter that one-termer George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President, left in the Oval Office for Bill Clinton, [photo below], reflects a gentler time than 2020. Healing, handshaking sensibilities are ridiculed by many today–having nothing to do with the pandemic. I miss the spirit behind this example of elegant, magnificent sportsmanship. In case you can’t read President Bush’s letter in the photo, this is what it says:

January 20th 1993

Dear Bill,

When I walked into this office just now I felt the same sense of wonder and respect that I felt four years ago. I know that you will feel that, too.

I wish you great happiness here. I never felt the loneliness some Presidents have described.

There will be very tough times, made even more difficult by criticism you may not think is fair. I’m not a very good one to give advice; but just don’t let the critics discourage you or push you off course.

You will be our President when you read this note. I wish you well. I wish your family well.

Your success now is our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.

Good luck–

George

How do you define sportsmanship? Can you share good and bad examples? Is sportsmanship old school–an anachronism?

Downloaded from Facebook posting

Service of Fear II

Thursday, November 5th, 2020

Photo: training journal.com

This morning an NPR listener characterized the choices of the 2020 electorate as driven by fear. I agree.

Many voters were terrified by the shoot-from-the-hip performance of the incumbent. What would be done to control the deadly Covid-19 if Dr. Fauci was fired, another symbol of disrespect for medical science as bad as the relaxed mask and social distancing stances? How much more damage could one person cause to the environment and our standing in the world? Would this person be concerned about the welfare of all citizens or only his devotees?

The blueprint for the next four years was drawn by the last four.

Photo: ted.com

On the other hand people voted for the incumbent for fear that they would be crushed by taxes; police would abandon them for lack of funds and their homes and family would be in danger; the country would limp from foreign invaders –some claimed they were communists–breaking down our borders, stealing our jobs and socialism would smother capitalism.

In fact only those making $400,000+ would be impacted by Joe Biden’s proposed tax increase; nobody wants to live in a place without a trained, well-funded police force; many of the jobs taken by immigrants are rejected by American citizens and millions of Americans benefit from government-run programs like unemployment and social security, the latter an example of an 85 year old socialist program. According to cbpp.org, “Over 64 million people, or more than 1 in every 6 U.S. residents, collected Social Security benefits in June 2020. While older Americans make up about 4 in 5 beneficiaries, another one-fifth of beneficiaries received Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or were young survivors of deceased workers.” [In fact, the incumbent has spoken of cancelling the payroll tax which funds social security, therefore strangling it.]

Talk is cheap and politicians say what their constituents want to hear. I nevertheless appreciate one that recognizes the chasm between us and wants to cool the rhetoric and lower the emotional temperature. I fear the one who enjoys the heat of conflict and creates more.

Did fear impact your vote?

Photo: heysigmund.com

Service of When You Lose, Let Go

Monday, October 12th, 2020

Photo: yoursalesplaybook.com

I’ve been on the losing side of a board vote. It’s not easy to let go, especially if you spent hours researching the argument for “your side.” The immediate choice: support the majority’s decision or leave the board.

The country did that in 2000 after the Bush vs. Gore election. A large percentage of the population gritted its teeth and moved on when Gore won the national popular vote but lost the electoral college according to the Florida vote recounting.

I am concerned that there are too many militia groups prepared to show their displeasure in violent ways should this president not win a second term.

On Friday Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning on WOR 710 radio, a station with largely a conservative Republican point of view, interviewed Brad Garrett, ABC News Crime & Terrorism Analyst, former FBI agent, media consultant on crime & terrorism and private investigator. He shared his thoughts about the arrested plot by a militia group to kidnap, try for treason and kill Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and to overthrow the Michigan Statehouse.

Michigan Statehouse Photo: michiganradio.com

Garrett said that the hate groups were “serious and were really going to try it.” Berman asked him “are there lots of kooks and groups like this around the country?” Garrett replied “Yes.” He said it is a locally-driven phenomenon and that he is concerned because “they really like President Trump” and “feel that he is in their corner.” My concern, said Garrett, is that if he loses they must “take care of their guy.”

Mary B. McCord in a New York Times opinion piece, “The plot against Gretchen Whitmer shows the danger of private militias,” identified a range of laws that “point to a single conclusion: there is no right in any state for groups of individuals to arm themselves and organize either to oppose or augment the government”

Three Percenters Photo: adl.org

The former acting assistant attorney general for national security wrote: “now, more than ever, state and local officials must enforce these statutes.” And “Those groups, like the Three Percenters, Oath Keepers and others they claim to be ‘patriots’ but answer to their own interpretation of the Constitution, are likely to hear the presidents unsupported claims about election fraud as their license to deploy to the polls to ‘protect’ or ‘patrol’ the vote.”

The president didn’t contact the Governor to see if she was OK after the foiled attempt on her life. Instead he wrote three  tweets, [excerpts follow], in which he claimed the Governor “has done a terrible job,” and he commended the Federal Government’s “tremendous help to the Great People of Michigan.” He added “…. Rather than say thank you, she calls me a White Supremacist–while Biden and Democrats refuse to condemn Antifa, Anarchists, Looters and Mobs that burned down democrat run cities…” In the third tweet he wrote “Governor Whitmer – – open up your state, open up your schools, and open up your churches!”

Craig Mauger in The Detroit News wrote: “Along with federal authorities, state and local law enforcement officials were also involved in uncovering the plot against Whitmer.”

In addition Mauger  reported: “Trump also falsely tied school and church closures to Whitmer. Schools decide for themselves whether to have in-person instruction in Michigan. Churches have been exempt from many COVID-19 restrictions in the state, and many have been holding worship services.”

Have you lived with a decision or vote you disagreed with? How have you handled the disappointment and frustration? Do you think all will be hunky dory after the election if Donald Trump loses? Are you planning to stay home the day the winner is announced in case there is violence?

Photo: boardmember.com

Service of Standing Up to Power When Health is Involved

Monday, October 5th, 2020

Photo: drivesmartgeorgia.cm

Why does someone charged with upholding rules cave?

Most people follow the rules. You brake at red lights, stay within the speed limit [pretty much], especially at school crossings and in bad weather, wear a seat belt and don’t smoke in public places. If stopped you apologize to the authorities who catch you and do what they say.

There would be chaos if most didn’t react to warnings and requests to comply. Yet some act as though they are exempt and unstoppable regardless of the stakes.

Chris Wallace Photo: foxnews.com

Jason Abbruzzese, a blogger for nbcnews.com, wrote that the moderator of the presidential debate last week, Chris Wallace, “noted that Trump’s family members present at the debate did not abide by the mask mandates put in place by the Cleveland Clinic.  ‘The interesting thing was that the Cleveland Clinic said that everybody in the hall with the exception of the president the vice president and myself had to wear a mask,’ Wallace said.”

The Center for Disease Control [CDC] is clear: it “calls on Americans to wear masks to prevent COVID-19 spread.” In a July 14 CDC press release: “There is increasing evidence that cloth face coverings help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.”

Abbruzzese continued “Trump’s group wore masks as they entered the hall but took them off when they sat down. According to NBC News reporters who attended the debate, a doctor from the Cleveland Clinic tried to offer some of the group masks but was waived away.” In addition, this group had arrived late to the debate and were not tested as was the rest of the audience.

Photo: businessinsider.com

On Sunday, Fox News Sunday anchor Wallace grilled Trump Senior Advisor Steve Cortes asking, about the Trump family, “why didn’t the rules apply to them?” Cortes accused Wallace of haranguing him as he did the president during the debate. Wallace said that the Commission on Presidential Debates revised its rules: anyone without a mask will be kicked out, ejected next time.

Clearly nobody followed CDC guidelines in the Rose Garden at the White House regarding social distancing at the Supreme Court nomination ceremony on September 26 for Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Hugging and handshaking happened as though it was 2019. Reckless gathering happened at a reception indoors as well, mid-pandemic, where few masks were worn. Video clips of the garden show none who have subsequently tested positive wore a mask: Kellyanne Conway, Chris Christie, Republican Senators Thom Tillis, N.C., Mile Lee, Utah, Ron Johnson, Wis. and Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. president of Notre Dame. Who knows where the first lady and Donald Trump were exposed.

At least Rev. Jenkins apologized. According to a Facebook posting by America Magazine: “‘I regret my error of judgment in not wearing a mask during the ceremony and by shaking hands with a number of people in the Rose Garden,'” Jenkins wrote in a Monday letter to students, faculty and staff. ‘I failed to lead by example, at a time when I’ve asked everyone else in the Notre Dame community to do so.'”

Anyone else? Yesterday, on Face the Nation, Trump campaign senior advisor Jason Miller complained “Biden uses masks as a prop.”

The mountain of doctors on the steps of Walter Reed Medical Center on Sunday, some of the best minds in the world watching over the president’s every breath and course of illness, show that they are turning their attention and expertise to cure a sick chief of state. However I thought of the 208,000+ dead citizens who didn’t enjoy such care during the months the administration downplayed the severity of coronavirus and scoffed at the protocols and measures science claims will help stop it. Will Congress take a second look, before it takes further steps in November to repeal the Affordable Care Act, so during the crisis, if not the future, millions maintain insurance stability for the little care they currently get?

When compliance can mean life or death, should the Cleveland Clinic doctor have insisted–or someone come on a loudspeaker to announce–that those who refuse to wear masks please leave the auditorium? Why didn’t this happen? What are people afraid of? What are the rules for if anyone is exempt?

How come the White House ignores CDC protocols and guidelines for its guests and visitors and why do the latter play along? Who do they think masks and social distancing are meant for? Do you think those who before didn’t believe they served a purpose will do so now? Can we expect enforcers to put more muscle behind mask wearing and social distancing no matter who refuses them?  Have you witnessed other examples of people who think they are above the rules and of someone who stood up to them? What is the worst that can happen to the person who does?

No masks at 2020 presidential debate Photo: news.yahoo.com

 

Service of the Similar Reaction to Temper and Humor

Thursday, October 1st, 2020

Photo: guystuffcounseling.com

I know about temper. Mine is the worst. Batten down the hatches when I blow up. Nothing funny about me.

I think reactions to some humor and temper are similar in their disparity. The way the same words and tone are interpreted in a range of ways–as nasty by some, humorous by others–works for both comedy and anger.

In vintage slapstick movies, when a character slips on a banana peel, I wonder, “Did he hurt himself?” I never chuckle while many think such scenes are hilarious.

Photo: menshealth.com

Does anyone remember the 1980s Broadway audience participation smash comedy in which the actors ridiculed participants mostly for things they couldn’t change? I don’t recall its title. The audience doubled over as I sat stone-faced when actors ridiculed an older man sitting next to an attractive much younger woman. They brought on stage the nerdiest looking short man to stand by one of the actresses, a 6-foot beauty and kept returning to a bald man in the audience to make a hat slip off his head [and bald pates were not in fashion]. Sidesplitting for most but not for me.

The day after the presidential debate Michael Riedel and newsman Joe Bartlett, on WOR Radio’s Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning, thought what the president had said was “funny.” I love to laugh but I reacted to his barbs, fierce faces, incessant, uncontrolled interruptions by pacing my bedroom and shaking in dread. I felt no connection to the laughter they mustered while producing sound bytes of his performance.

A friend worked for a man who terrified the office by screaming at his employees. She said she’d freeze at her desk when she heard him even though the verbal arrows, at top volume, weren’t directed at her and never had been. I suspect the man thought he was garnering respect. Maybe this is what the president had in mind.

Sometimes when an angry person feels cornered, outmatched or out of control, he’ll say things he doesn’t mean, that make little sense, are not true and are uttered only to hurt. Has anyone ever said to you, “I was just joking” after such an encounter?

The inspiration for humor that makes fun of others–especially about physical things they cannot change such as age, height and lack of comeliness–may be different from what sparks anger but the impact strikes viewers/listeners in two ways: they think the words are funny or not.

Do you see a resemblance between people’s contrasting reactions to temper and some humor? Have you found words of an angry person funny? Is mocking a person’s physical deficiencies or trip-ups a source of amusement for you?

Photo: newsroom.niu.edu

Service of What You Think of When You Walk Alone

Monday, September 21st, 2020

Photo: flickr.com

I was on a quick 20 block walk on Friday and jotted down a few of the things I thought of on my way.

Does the UN clean the flags outside?

photo: sites.google.com

As I passed the flags outside the UN I noticed that they looked shabby and needed to be cleaned. The UN General Assembly, in its 75th year, is largely virtual this September which may be one reason. Staff is no doubt busy cleaning the inside of the building to meet pandemic standards for those who are at work and will be attending meetings in person.

When I got home I Googled the question and while I didn’t learn the answer I saw that there are 193 flags arranged alphabetically–Afghanistan to Zimbabwe–from North to South and that staff raises and lowers them Monday through Friday at 8 am and 4 pm respectively.

Remembering automatic things

Waiting in line to enter Trader Joe’s earlier in the day I struck up a conversation with the woman ahead of me who said she couldn’t believe that she’d left her apartment without her mask. She was so lucky, she said, because a store across the street from TJ’s sold them. She’d forgotten three times, she said. I suggested she carry an extra as I do.

I’ve had trouble remembering whether I’ve fulfilled routine actions as long as I can remember. As a child I’d sometime get a sinking feeling if I was the last one out of the family apartment when I’d think, “Did I double lock the front door?” It was something I’d done countless times without focusing.

Restaurants open at 4 pm in Manhattan

As I passed by restaurants on First Avenue it took me a second to realize why so many serious ones are open from 4 pm-9 pm during the week: They must not attract a sufficient lunchtime crowd to pay for a second shift of wait and kitchen staff. We continue to have only outdoor dining in NYC.

Some affluent people are stingy and some of modest means are generous

I think about this a few times a year and haven’t found a valid explanation. What triggered my thoughts last Friday was how a friend said he’d donated to political candidates through ActBlue well over 100 times since the political campaigns began last June.  I know people who work hard and do well but are not affluent–they carefully pick and choose where they spend their money–yet they are munificent in their donations to charities and causes. Others with deep pockets, who donate neither time nor treasure, spend plenty on themselves but not others. They would time donations only if theirs was loudly acknowledged.

What do you think about when alone running errands, taking a walk or out and about in the car? Do you know how often the UN cleans or changes its flags? How do you ensure you’ve satisfied actions you should make automatically? Are the restaurants–not takeout–where you live open for lunch and dinner during the week? What’s the deal about stingy wealthy people and generous people of modest means?

Angelletto Restaurant NYC Photo: tripadvisor.com

Service of Changing Your Mind IV

Thursday, September 3rd, 2020

Photo: careersingovernment.com

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.

Photo: yahoo.com

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?

Photo: Scienceabc.com

Service of Value Added: Postcards to Support a Political Party

Monday, August 31st, 2020

Photo: theqnote.com

I found a good way to support my political party: Through a postcard writing initiative. I increase a modest $X donation that probably wouldn’t pay for two words in a radio commercial in Punxsutawney, Pa. by adding elbow grease. And I’m not finished: At the same time I’m supporting the United States Postal Service. How great is that?

There is a tiny snag: My handwriting. The formidable Miss Means in middle school did her best to correct my undecipherable scrawl. It didn’t work. My parents pleaded with me to type letters home when I lived in Turkey for two years. These days when I handwrite thank you notes to one far too generous friend he asks me to translate the missives. Frankly, I’m out of practice as, like everyone else, I’ve increased my speed on the keyboard at the expense of my writing. My grocery lists are a challenge to me.

But I will take my time writing the postcards because it’s important.

I passed the test required by what appears to be a smart, efficient operation https://postcardstovoters.org/. For approval they asked me to photograph a sample card with copy,  based on easy-to-follow guidelines, and email it to them.

Photo: commonwealthy.com

Volunteers pay for the postcards and stamps and receive addresses–with no names–digitally. Instead of a name we’re asked to select “ONE of these or something similarly neutral/positive/encouraging: Important Voter, VIP Voter, Best Voter Ever, Valued Voter, Essential Voter, Esteemed Voter, Terrific Voter, Awesome Voter, Patriotic Voter, Super Voter, Serious Voter, Winning Voter.”

We sign the cards with first name or initials and do not add a return address.

I am doing this alone during the pandemic while others with backyards may gather a stack of friends socially distanced on TV tables. The initiative boasts “over 76,000 grassroots volunteers in every state (including Alaska and Hawaii) who have written to voters in over 200 key, close elections since March 2017.”

Some friends make phone calls for their candidate or political party and report about one in 25 pick up. That doesn’t surprise me as calls go unanswered if I don’t recognize a number. My cards might never arrive or be tossed, unread, though it’s fun to imagine what the recipient must think about a handwritten card in an otherwise pretty empty mailbox.

Is it significant or coincidental that I’ve not identified the value added category in the posts since July 2015? [I wrote the first of five posts in April 2010.] Have you noticed or experienced examples of value added?

Service of While You Were Distracted by the Pandemic & Election, Environmental Protection Initiatives Were Seeping Under the Radar

Thursday, August 20th, 2020

Photo: azocleantech.com

Millions are focused these days on ducking the dreaded virus, deciding whether or not to send their children back to school, looking for a job, figuring out how to balance job deadlines with childcare, flinching at diminished savings and/or following their candidate for the upcoming election.

Photo: reynolds.k12.or.us.

Meanwhile the administration is at work dismantling environmental protections. Two headlines in The New York Times this week tell the story: “Trump Administration Finalizes Plan to Open Arctic Refuge to Drilling,” and “Trump Eliminates Major Methane Rule, Even as Leaks Are Worsening.”

Brad Plumer and Henry Fountain reported: “The Trump administration on Monday finalized its plan to open up part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to oil and gas development, a move that overturns six decades of protections for the largest remaining stretch of wilderness in the United States.”

Millenials
Photo: travel.earth

Carol Davenport wrote: “The Trump administration formally weakened a major climate-change regulation on Thursday — effectively freeing oil and gas companies from the need to detect and repair methane leaks — even as new research shows that far more of the potent greenhouse gas is seeping into the atmosphere than previously known.”

Who cares? I’ll tell you. In addition to me and most of my friends and acquaintances, I’d wager millennials and Gen-Zers too. There are some 83.1 million of the former–aged 22-38–and 74 million of the latter, aged 5 to 25.

A hint: “When it comes to dating 20-somethings, there are few bigger turnoffs than putting refuse in the wrong receptacle, according to a new survey by Cluttr, which found that millennials and Gen-Zers prefer dating someone who regularly recycles,” reported Ben Cost in The New York Post. Cluttr is an “unwanted item bazaar.”

Regarding the survey of 1,332 young Americans Cost continued “a whopping 69% of youths would boycott a brand for not adhering to green business practices, while 67% believed that global warming is a serious man-made threat. In fact, 71% even felt that the environment warranted more concern than the economy, which recently suffered its worst blow since the Great Depression amid the coronavirus pandemic.”

Can these harmful actions against the environment be put back in the bottle? What else has happened while we’ve been distracted? Are you watching out for other issues at risk?

Slipping under the radar. Photo: dancelovetoknow.com

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