Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

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

Service of Too Ambitious: Mixed Signals

Thursday, August 13th, 2020

Photo: flexjobs.com

To apply for the advertising director position I took a psychological test required by the magazine I worked for as an editor. I didn’t get the job. I was “too aggressive” according to the analysis. That was eons ago.

The day after the Democrat VP pick, the 28th White House Press Secretary and former White House Communications Director for DJT, Sean Spicer, told 710 WOR Radio morning show co-hosts that one of the downsides of Kamala Harris is that she’s “too ambitious.” That’s one reason he thought Susan Rice would have been a better pick.

Photo: todayifoundout.com

At the same time going Dutch on a first meeting is not appropriate according to many otherwise progressive, independent women who have always supported themselves and who applaud the professional successes of women. Even though the initial face-to-face meeting made possible by online dating websites is a crapshoot for both, they expect men to pick up the tab for the wine, coffee or meal or they say there won’t be a second date.

Mixed signals.

Are customs and conventions for business different than social ones? We’ve come a long way from the Hepburn-Tracy movies of the 1940s like “Woman of the Year”–or have we? Should men always pick up the tab?

Name a politician who isn’t ambitious.  Why are ambition and aggression such bad traits for women? Do those who object to ambitious, driven women prefer a wallflower to run the company they work for or the ones they invest in?

Photo: whydoguys.com

Service of the Impact of Alarm From a Pandemic: Are Your Prominent Personality Traits Magnified?

Monday, May 25th, 2020

Photo: yourstory.com

Most people I know appear to be adjusting to the pandemic. What’s no surprise? Stress and anxiety are magnifying some personalities. The attempt to readjust can happen after any shock such as the death of a spouse and I’ve noticed this in some of my acquaintances lately. If one is usually generous, she tends to go overboard; if nervous, he freaks more easily. Hoarding is another tendency that has impacted a few.

Some with enough capital to support three families for a lifetime, if chronically anxious about money, become crazed over a perceived delayed pittance. The resourceful are ingenious in supplementing dwindling incomes.

Photo: ksat.com

Our chronic political divide isn’t helping keep lives in balance. Know anyone who waits until now to cut off all contact even though differences in political philosophy have been clear for decades?

Some dig in their heels to extremes refusing to face scientific evidence. “Masks can save your life” and the lives of others NY Governor Cuomo said again at his news conference on May 23, echoed by governors–both blue and red–Dr. Deborah Birx and countless others. Nevertheless doubting Thomas’s proudly prance around unprotected in public mimicking the exposed mouth and nose of a peacock-proud president. Even the “New York Tough” moniker doesn’t dilute the inference of weakness to those who interpret being told what to do as unmanly. Experts can’t convince them that their reasons are faulty–actually dangerous–if they think that “real men don’t wear masks.” [There are still drivers who won’t engage seat belts and parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids.]

Have you noticed in yourself and others behavior that represents an extreme personality trait?

Photo: youtube.com

Service of Debates: Is This The Way to Pick the Best Candidate?

Monday, February 24th, 2020

Photo: politico.com

The flaws of the debate system to chose a presidential candidate reminds me of one of my business experiences where a person with the gift of gab may not have been a client’s best choice. Here’s the story. A longtime client wanted to initiate a special project. I submitted my idea but another agency won. [I kept the retainer business for years after that.]

Photo: youtube.com

The woman who presented the winning idea–a nationwide consumer contest–was one of the best speakers I’ve heard. Turned out implementation was not her–or her marketing agency’s–strong suit. And the idea itself, without a marketing or advertising budget to support it, from a little known organization, was flawed. In addition, there was money to run the contest only one time and it can take years for such a project to gain momentum.

The prizes for the winner involved generous donations of product. Turned out the agency didn’t know a soul in the industry so my client asked me to make introductions. Gritting my teeth while smiling, I did.

Once the expensive failure was over it was time to send the contest winner–one of only 30 entrants [!]–the goods worth $100,000 at retail.

Photo: youtube.com

The cherry on the stale cake came over the phone again, this time from the project agency. They needed my help. When they reached out to the primary manufacturer-doner with the winner’s name and address for shipping the prize they learned that the person they’d previously worked with was no longer with the company. Nobody else at the company knew what they were talking about.

“No problem,” said I, “this is a reputable company–just send them your correspondence and agreement.” The reply, “There isn’t any. We never confirmed the donation in writing; only on the phone.” Huh?

So what does this business kerfuffle have to do with debates of presidential contenders? Just because someone has a quick tongue or makes a slip-of-one, should they earn or lose anyone’s vote? [For the purpose of this post I have simplified my example. There was politics–if you’ll excuse the expression– involved in the choice of project. The committee wanted to back one of their associates’ contacts, the glossy if defective, marketing company.]

Further, debates don’t always identify the best public speakers. Remember the one in which Barack Obama fell on his face? He subsequently became the best presidential orator of modern time. Do you think debates are the best way to evaluate the candidate that will get your vote?

Photo: washingtonmonthly.

 

Service of Protecting a Whistleblower

Thursday, November 21st, 2019

Photo: federalnewsnetwork.com

I’ve written three previous posts about whistleblowers. The first, in October, 2010, was about a Minneapolis resident who gave up his job as a trader at a brokerage firm to become an FBI informant. His target was a suspicious Ponzi schemer. The second was about the Penn State assistant football coach Mike McQuery who was placed in protective custody and on administrative leave because of his role in the Jerry Sandusky child molestation case. In the third I covered the countless leakers in the early Trump administration. We learn the names of some and not of others.

The unnamed whistleblower at the center of the Ukraine telephone call/impeachment initiative is courageous as they all are. I also think that they are the rarest of birds and as such should be shielded from harm and at all costs left forever unidentified except to the appropriate authorities.

Photo: fedsmith.com

The USA TODAY editorial board wrote: “The fundamental promise of whistleblower protection is to create a safe space for a witness of wrongdoing to come forward and report it — and, for the sake of his or her professional reputation or even physical safety, to remain anonymous in doing so.

“Nothing chills truth-telling in the halls of power like the risk of retribution, and no risk is more harrowing than unmasking potentially impeachable offenses by a president.

“So it may come as little surprise that Donald Trump — with his legacy and potentially even his job hanging in the balance — would turn the promise of whistleblower protection on its head. He has launched a vitriolic campaign to publicly identify the person who exposed his problematic July 25 phone call with the president of Ukraine.”

In addition they wrote: “Making the whistleblower’s identity known would expose the person to the kind of character assassination from the extreme elements of the president’s supporters that other impeachment inquiry witnesses have endured.”

The word assassination is apt. One of the whistleblower’s lawyers said he feared the man or woman would be killed if identified.

Those who call for identifying this whistleblower say it’s important to know his/her motivation and political preference. Do you agree?

Have you ever worked for someone whose dicey business behavior should have been made known? Did you report him/her? Do most of us stay mum because we are taught from childhood not to be tattletales? Do you praise or condemn whistleblowers? Do you think that there should be exceptions to the rule that protects their identity and that some should be exposed?

Photo: amazon.com

Service of Appearances Matter But Pick Your Battles Carefully When Contesting Questionable Choices

Thursday, September 19th, 2019

Glasgow Prestwick Airport
Photo: glasgowprestwick.com

House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings picked an example that, at first blush, looked like the Trump organization was yet again driving–and profiting from–government business at one of its properties while the head of the family ran the country. Digging deeper, while the situation doesn’t look right, the severity of the malfeasance is feeble at best.

Brigadier General Edward Thomas spoke with Lalita Clozel and Joshua Jamerson for their Wall Street Journal article “Air Force Reviews Travel Policies Amid Scrutiny Over Trump Resort –Aircrew’s March stay at Scotland resort followed guidelines, Air Force says; House Democrats probe the expenditures.”

Brigadier General Edward Thomas. Photo: af.mil

The general didn’t address the issue of the property’s owner. He said “U.S. Service members lodging at resort accommodations, even if within government rates, might be allowable but not advisable.”

The general added: “We are not only stewards of American tax dollars but we represent our nation as we travel abroad.”

The fact is that the crew spent $30 less than the maximum hotel per diem allowed at the Trump Turnberry golf resort which is some 40 minutes from Glasgow Prestwick Airport. In addition, the reporters wrote that it was the cheapest option.

According to Clozel and Jamerson the president tweeted: “I know nothing about an Air Force plane landing at an airport (which I do not own and have nothing to do with) near Turnberry Resort (which I do own) in Scotland, and filling up with fuel, with the crew staying overnight at Turnberry (they have good taste!). NOTHING TO DO WITH ME.”

The reporters continued: “The C-17 plane and its crew were on a multi-leg journey that took them from Anchorage, Alaska, to Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, to Portsmouth, N.H., Glasgow and Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait and then back.”

Prestwick was selected as a refueling location in August 2016, months before Trump was elected, because it has better weather than Shannon, Ireland, is open 24 hours and doesn’t attract a lot of air traffic.

“Since October 2017, the U.S. military has paid the airport hundreds of times for fuel purchases totaling $11 million Cummings said. The U.S. government has also made tens of thousands of dollars in purchases at the Turnberry resort in 2018 and 2019, according to procurement records.

“Both the Scottish government-owned airport and the Turnberry resort have lost money in recent years, Mr. Cummings said in his letter.”

Since no laws or regulations have been broken and the crew spent well under the per diem hotel ceiling, should Representative Cummings look for a better example of the enrichment of the Trump empire while the company’s namesake is in office? Should the Air Force forbid crews from staying at any resort for appearance’s sake? Should there be a regulation prohibiting any government employee from staying at a property owned by a president, cabinet member, senator or congress man or woman?

Boeing C-17 Photo: af.mil

Service of Second Chances for People and Pets

Thursday, April 18th, 2019

Photo: toolshero.com

It’s Easter, Passover and spring, a good time to celebrate second chances.

Photo: youtube.com

I saw two Chihuahuas get one. They were on the Furry Friend Finder segment on CBS 2 Weekend, a local NYC metro news show. The dogs were 14 and 15 years old and needed a home–a difficult ask.  They’d been in a previous weekly segment in which the hosts introduce the audience to dogs in search of a forever family. A New Jersey family adopted the two elderly pups—they had a 14 year old pooch to welcome the others.

I’ve written previously about my sister and a friend each of whom adopted ancient orphaned cats, giving the felines a second chance at loving homes.

Photo: golfdigest

The odds that Tiger Woods, 43, would ever again win a major golf tournament seemed slim due to a series of back operations and psychological issues that appeared to send him off his game. Yet last weekend he walked off with yet another green jacket at the Masters Golf Tournament and he was no spring chicken–three years younger than Jack Nicklaus, the oldest player to don the trademark jacket.

Photo: facebook.com

And then there’s Bill Weld, 73, former Governor of Massachusetts, who is running for president on the Republican ticket taking on a 72 year old incumbent. There was a time when septuagenarians would not be fighting over one of the most difficult and stressful jobs on the planet.

And what about Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris? It is slated for another chance.

I’ve been blessed by second chances, have you? Please share examples.

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