Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Service of Wardrobe and Grooming: Planning Ahead for Women and Men

Monday, May 16th, 2016

Jane sanders

Last week I sent a note to winners attending the Christopher Awards this Thursday to ask them to look for me because I’d like to include them in a group photo that I’ll send media after the event.

It’s always a scramble to gather a good number of people by category–in this case authors of winning books–during the cocktail hour. I like as many as possible to share in the publicity opportunity. It’s awkward and disrespectful to tuck into a group of people happily talking, stare at a name on a badge, and turn away from someone because they aren’t the person you’re looking for so this year I also made myself a sheet with their publicity photos.

To help me find them, two of the women wrote back immediately describing the dress they were going toSarah palin wear—one bright pink; the other a green floral. Both my collaborator on the project, David Reich, and my husband laughed in wonderment that they knew so far in advance what they were going to wear. A third woman, after asking about the dress code, reported she’d wear a long skirt and dressy top.

I related to them: For one thing, I need to determine if what I plan to wear needs to be ironed by me or a dry cleaner. My hair stylist doesn’t work on Thursdays and no matter what I wear, if I’m not happy with how my hair looks, I could be in vintage Chanel and I wouldn’t be happy. However, the wonderful stylist, who understands these things, said she’d come in on Thursday for me.

And I’m wallpaper at this event.

Think of what it must be like for a woman running for office—or the spouse of a man who stands on countless stages in line of the camera’s eye. Men have a big advantage. They only need to decide on necktie color—blue or red—and to be sure the tie has no mayo stain.

Elizabeth warrenEverything about a woman is under scrutiny. You’ve never seen one wear the same favorite day after day, photo after photo. On the contrary, most on the national stage don’t wear the same jacket twice. Bad hair days are out. And makeup? Maybe D. Trump is concerned about the latter two but both are essential for women.

How far ahead do you plan your wardrobe for a special occasion as a guest at a wedding, graduation, baptism, or naming or as part of the team at a product launch, awards, client or fundraising event? Do you agree that most women have this disadvantage?

Hillary clinton


Service of More Born Every Minute

Monday, May 9th, 2016


Sorry to have to share more scams for suckers but it’s important to get out the word.

Moving right along

Did you hear about the Douglas County, Georgia family that hired a moving company through Craigslist and with the exception of one box, lost all their worldly goods?

Moving van plainThe movers had stolen the U-Haul truck [that the vehicle didn’t have the name of a mover painted on the side would have given me immediate pause]. According to Richard Elliot of WSB TV, after loading the truck the movers “appeared to be heading to the family’s new home in another county. But along the way, the homeowner said, the movers ditched her and vanished.” Estimated loss: $75,000. The box was recovered on a sidewalk by Cobb police two days later.

The homeowner was grateful. She’d said “If I don’t get anything back, I want that box, because it has all of our social security, birth certificates in it. It has death records from my mom and son,” she said, as well as the family Bible. The iPads and phones were missing from the box.

The naïveté of the customers made me sad: Most would have kept small electronic items and personal papers with them or stored them with friends. No wonder they were easy marks. I have to give it to the movers: They cleared the house in four hours. That’s lightening fast. Given my recent experiences in moving, I’d guess they didn’t pack or protect much; they must have tossed the furniture and other belongings in the truck.

Vote by hanging up

Telephone town hallHave you been invited to attend a town hall meeting on the phone with a political candidate? Take care warned Catherine Fredmen on where she shared intel from David Dewey, director of research at Pindrop Security, a firm that sells anti-fraud detection technology to call centers and others.

If you’re enticed by scammers that take advantage of the season and you give your credit card number to donate to your favorite pol, “Not only have you handed over money to an unknown entity, you have opened the door to identity theft.” She advises if the call is unsolicited, don’t play ball.

Not playing around

V TechWrote Fredmen, “Scammers are after more than your credit card number. Instead, they glean personal information to build detailed profiles that can be used for sophisticated forms of identity theft that may not be immediately obvious.” Her example is VTech, a toymaker. She continued: “For example, scammers could exploit the VTech data breach, which compromised the profiles of 6.4 million kids around the world, to hack identities for years. Because kids have no credit history and their parents generally don’t check their credit reports regularly, the theft might not be noticed until the kids grow up and apply for a credit card or financial aid for college.”

Mobile wallets on the move

“Dewey put the security of mobile wallets to a little test,” such as Apple Pay, Google Wallet, Samsung Pay, Android Pay and PayPal, added Fredmen.  “First, he secretly copied credit card numbers and expiration dates from a few colleagues at Pindrop. A little Google investigating revealed the answers to ‘secure’ identification questions (such as a colleague’s mother’s maiden name) needed to activate the colleague’s card under Dewey’s mobile wallet account. Within minutes, Dewey had strolled over to Whole Foods and bought lunch for the office—paid for by his unwitting colleague. (The colleague was reimbursed.)”

Are you familiar with these scams or potential breaches? Know of others?

Android pay




Service of Gray: Senate and the Supreme Court

Monday, March 21st, 2016

Black, white, gray

I was far stricter when young than I am now [though close friends and family might not agree]. Then I saw life as black and white, wrong and right, with little room for compromise. Today I can live with gray fairly comfortably on many subjects.

That’s why I’m surprised at the intransigence of Republican senators and their refusal to give Supreme Court nominee Judge Merrick Garland the courtesy of a hearing. Not all of these women and men are young—haven’t they learned anything in their years on this planet? What happened to the greater good and being strong enough to admit a mistake and change your mind and give the President respect and the judge a chance?

Child tantrumI find this heels-dug-deeply-in-the-ground stance, a child’s tantrum attitude of “we won’t recognize someone” [even if we respect him] conflicts with an easy-peasy nonchalance when it comes to what Supreme Court judges are allowed to do.

In “Scalia Was No. 1 on Court in Paid Trips,” Eric Lipton wrote “Among the court’s members, he was the most frequent traveler, to spots around the globe, on trips paid for by private sponsors.”

According to Lipton in his New York Times article, “Legislation is pending in the House and the Senate that would require the Supreme Court to create a formal ethics system, beyond the Ethics in Government Act, similar to the one that governs actions of all other federal judges. That system is known as the Code of Conduct for United States Judges.”

US Supreme Court in 1930

US Supreme Court in 1930

Lipton continued: “Chief Justice Roberts has argued that the Supreme Court, even though it generally abides by this judicial ethics code, is not obligated to do so. It restricts how much judges can be paid for private travel, and limits other activities outside the court, such as allowing private organizations to use ‘the prestige of judicial office’ for fund-raising purposes.”

Justice Scalia took 258 subsidized trips between 2004 and 2014, according to Lipton, who noted that he gave speeches, participated in moot court events and taught classes in Ireland, Hawaii and Switzerland to name a few places. When he died he was the guest of the owner of a company that had “recently had a matter before the Supreme Court.”

In addition, “Many of the justices are frequent expenses-paid travelers, a practice that some court scholars say is a minor matter, given that many of the trips involve public talks that help demystify the court. But others argue that the trips could potentially create the appearance of a conflict of interest, particularly when the organizations are known for their conservative or liberal views.”

So while the Republican Senators are avoiding the job they are paid to do—to select a Supreme Court Judge—do you think that at the least they should turn their attention to legislation that would require the court to create a formal ethics system?

Code of Conduct

Service of Anger II

Monday, March 7th, 2016


When an elderly friend stood up to get off a public bus last week the driver slammed the back door shut and shoved off and out of the bus stop abruptly before he could exit. Fortunately this passenger, who was carrying a heavy package, was holding on and no harm was done except he had to walk four extra blocks to get home. He said drivers are usually nice to him.

I was fuming, having just heard his story, and mentioned the incident to a lovely very young cashier at an office supply store. She responded, “Anger.”

On a crowded subway also last week a slight man in his late teens was balancing an old person on busenormous box with a sheet cake marked “Happy Birthday Boss” on one arm and hand while he stretched his other arm over others to reach the overhead bar. In a voice I hoped would carry I asked him if anyone had offered him a seat. He smiled and said “no.” Nobody budged as the train lurched on and he tried to stabilize his package. At the next stop a few people got off and he asked me if I wanted one of the seats and after I refused politely and thanked him I shepherded him to one of them ensuring that he sat down. Were the other passengers angry too?

I get anger. I have a bad temper. But I don’t accept anger as an excuse for nasty, cruel behavior on the job or an anesthetized approach to what’s going on around you.

Pundits repeat that anger is the fuel driving support of a wacky candidate running for President. As for voting for a clown whose embarrassing performance is dragging the election back to seventh grade, the relationship of such support to anger is lost on me. And you? When you feel anger, how to you quell it?

 School elections


Service of Common Sense

Monday, December 21st, 2015

Common sense

I tell graduate students I mentor to rely on common sense and share a conversation with a former boss I’ve mentioned before on this blog. He was in the hospital with a mystery ailment, suffering countless diagnostic tests. “Could it be phlebitis?” I asked him, remembering he’d had that when I worked for him years before. Turned out that was the problem, not some exotic disease. You didn’t need a medical degree to come up with that obvious conclusion.

Whistle in the Wind

Bernie SandersSo when I heard of Bernie Sanders’ campaign worker who accessed and copied Hilary Clinton’s voter database I thought, “Is this person tone deaf to this candidate’s clean-as-a-whistle persona?” He parked his common sense in some other candidate’s driveway.

Study the Surroundings

Morgan LibraryOn a visit to The Morgan Library this Saturday, I marveled at a 3-story glass wall in the front hall [at the right of this photo]. The view captured the back of a lackluster apartment building and some serviceable, unattractive separations between unimpressive back yards. This view diminished the impact of the architectural achievement and questioned its purpose. 

In addition, a heavy door to the library and Mr. Morgan’s study opens when you push a knob on the right and surprises as it comes at you. For a distracted visitor or one who can’t back up and out of the way quickly enough, it could be dangerous.

Listen to the Expert

frizzy hairMy hair stylist told me of a mutual friend’s folly. The woman is a recent widow who wanted a different look as her birthday approached and she ignored the stylist’s advice and had a permanent. [She lives out of town and has her hair done locally.] The stylist warned her that the procedure would not enhance her wonderful straight, thick hair. The friend compounded the recklessness by immediately dyeing her tresses, burning her hair and achieving a dramatically freaky effect. The only remedy the hair stylist could suggest was to leave mayonnaise on the hair the day of her next appointment with her coiffeur, though she didn’t hold out much hope. Hopefully the rich oils in mayo would act as a super conditioner.

Is it ego that causes employees or consultants to take actions that conflict with the boss’s approach; an architect to design a project that ignores surroundings or a woman to override an expert’s advice? Can you think of other examples?

Big ego

Service of Unintended Consequences II

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

Unintended Consequences 2

Have you wondered how the shrinking moderate presence in Washington occurred; how the country has an increasing number of citizens from third world countries and how ISIS happened? Homer Byington, my husband, shares his theories.

In 1965, as part of his “Great Society” Civil Rights initiative, President Lyndon Baines Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act of 1965, passed by Congress despite the strong opposition of the Southern wing of the Democrat Party, but with the overwhelming support of the Republican minority. Its intent was to give black citizens the same voting rights as white citizens and a proportionate share of representation in legislative bodies such as Congress. It and subsequent court decisions, especially since the 1990s, have led to the re-drawing of State Congressional district lines to create a number of new “black majority districts.” Doing this, obviously, has led to the remaining districts in each state becoming far whiter than they had previously been.

The unintended, and unforeseen, consequence of this was that while there are now far more black and Hispanic congressmen and women than ever before, the number of “safe” seats controlled by extremist white conservatives has also increased even more dramatically. The number of moderates of any political stripe has declined just as dramatically.

President Lyndon B. Johnson

President Lyndon B. Johnson

That same year, again as part of his “Great Society” Civil Rights initiative, President Johnson signed into law the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which was enacted by Congress, despite the strong opposition of the Southern wing of the Democrat Party, but again with the overwhelming support of the Republican minority. Its intent was to replace the existing law, which was discriminatory because it based visa eligibility on the national origin of the immigrant, with a policy that united families. There was no limitation on the number of immediate family members of American citizens that could be admitted.

donkey and elephantThe unintended, and unforeseen, consequence of this has been that the demographic makeup of the country has changed dramatically. Neither President Johnson, nor most others in his administration, and especially the mid-western Republicans, wanted or expected this to happen. They assumed that the vast bulk of immigrants would be family members of existing citizens and, therefore, would continue to be European. Instead, prosperity and declining birthrates there led to, if anything, reverse immigration to, rather than from, particularly Western Europe. Instead, a flood of Third World migrants, taking advantage of a variety of preference categories under the statute on a worldwide quota basis, compounded by the admission of their relatives and, in turn, their relatives, have poured into the country over the past 50 years.

In 2004, the United States invaded Iraq supposedly to fight terrorism and quickly overthrew Saddam Hussein, a Sunni, his Ba’ath Party and army. Perhaps following the example of what the Allies did in Post-war Germany with the Nazis, Hussein was eventually executed, the first tier of Ba’athists and military were prosecuted or jailed and the lower ranks were fired and disenfranchised. The latter, according to Michael Weiss, co-author of ISIS – Inside the Army Of Terror, became the pool of unemployed, unhappy, educated, technologically inclined, skilled Sunni labor from which ISIS sourced the relatively sophisticated team that now staffs its middle and upper-middle management. (Based upon my own experience with Iraqis, I’m inclined to believe Weiss.)

President George W. Bush

President George W. Bush

The unintended, and unforeseen, consequence of this occupation policy was that we and others now have a massive problem dealing with a variety of terrorist attacks by diverse ISIS agents and recruits around the world. President George W. Bush and his advisors may have invaded Iraq with the intention of weakening, and eventually defeating, al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, (although I was not then, and am still not now sure anybody in the government really understood what he was doing at the time), but they certainly did not intend to spawn a new breed of yet more sophisticated Wahhabi Sunni terrorists. However, that seems to be what has happened.

Homer asks: Do you think that there is any way in which we can undo these past unintended consequences? If so, how would you go about fixing what has happened? And, can you think of any actions our leaders are now taking which will unintentionally result in regrettable consequences for all of us?  

 Tangle of yarn

Service of Tit-for-Tat

Monday, July 20th, 2015

John McCain

Senator John McCain angered Donald Trump by calling his followers “crazies,” so Trump smacked back by belittling McCain’s war record stating that he’s “not a real war hero… because he was captured.”

If one man thinks this way there are millions who agree with him. I wonder how many of them haven’t spent two seconds at war or in the military—like Trump–or who haven’t lived with people who did.

Armed forcesSoldiers, seamen and airmen aren’t in charge of where to be and when—they follow orders–so how can they be blamed for being placed in harm’s way and perhaps captured, or worse? Once captured and severely tortured, Senator McCain passed up a chance to be released so others might leave first. For five plus years he didn’t know whether or not he’d live another day.

I’m sensitive about Trump’s comment and the issue it raised because my dad was a prisoner of war. He escaped—twice, the second time successfully—and was able to function after surviving the horrors he saw and experienced. He’s my hero.

Who are Trump’s heroes? What’s his game? His comments make me want to strike back at him—but I don’t subscribe to his tit-for-more-than-tat, below-the-belt approach which reminds me of the way children fight in a playground. Is this the reaction a statesman or woman wants to evoke; does it represent a sound negotiating technique?

J G Brown's "The Peacemaker"

J G Brown’s “The Peacemaker”



Service of Beating the Odds: Paul Wittgenstein & Joe Biden

Monday, July 28th, 2014

Pianist Paul Wittgenstein

Pianist Paul Wittgenstein

These instances aren’t news. I became aware of them recently inspiring today’s post and me.


In NPR’s coverage of the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I this morning, Tom Huizenga focused on the “Music of Conflict and Remembrance.” He also covered Austrian-born pianist Paul Wittgenstein whose career was literally shaped by the war.

Wittgenstein [1887-1961], lost his right arm when he was shot in the elbow yet he was determined to perform and “commissioned composers including Maurice Ravel to write pieces for the left hand alone.” Huizenga reported that Benjamin Britten, Paul Hindemith and Sergei Prokofiev also wrote such pieces.


Vice President Joe Biden stuttered as a child. Evan Osnos wrote in “The Biden Agenda,” in The New Yorker: “When Biden reflects on his childhood, he lingers on the experience of having a stutter.” His nickname was Joe Impedimenta.

Biden told Osmos he overcame the stutter by anticipating “what you think you’re going to be confronted with.” He’d practice the response as in, “how ‘bout those Yankees?” And he “Took to reciting passages—Yeats, Emerson, the Declaration of Independence—and by his sophomore year in high school the stutter was giving way. He won a race for junior-class president and won again the next year.”

Today Biden doesn’t like reading aloud so he avoids teleprompters–and written speeches–and prefers to speak extemporaneously.

There are countless inspirational examples like these in which people pursue a goal regardless. Please share some of your favorites.

Vice President Joe Biden

Vice President Joe Biden

Service of Negative Marketing

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

elephant donkey fighting

I missed the class on the effectiveness of negative advertising which serves politicians so well even though these ads are counterintuitive. Given 30 or 60 seconds to state your case–at major cost–you’d think you’d want to tout a candidate’s great ideas, victories and accomplishments. Positive messages these days would  no doubt result in negative polling figures and goodness knows what outcome on election day.

Politicians aren’t alone.

They lived commercialHave you seen the “They Lived” automotive TV commercial? It shows a series of cars so smooshed and flattened in car accidents that they look as though they were made of the cheapest tin can material. Someone yells “They Lived” at the worker, in hardhat, who is motioning the crane holding a metal heap that once was a car into a big pile of the same, referring to the passengers. Brrrrr—gives me the shivers.

I just got off the phone with a stranger who said, “Hiya Jeanne, this is Mike Morrow from Merrill Lynch.” I thanked Mike for calling, told him I was on deadline and someone was waiting for me with which he slammed down the phone or clicked off the connection, racing to the next patsy. Result: Bad taste in my mouth. Too bad he spoke so clearly. I can hardly understand most telemarketers. A “sorry,” would have been nice.

wold cup logo USWhat about the US World Cup team coach Jurgen Klinsmann who announced, before the games, that his team wasn’t ready to win?

And then there’s CheapOair. The name makes me want to avoid everything to do with the online Internet travel agency. I’d anticipate shoddy service from them and goodness knows what from their travel partners. They might be the most responsible travel agency on the Internet and many might consider the name of this company a hoot but travel is serious business. I’m a fan of discounts and great prices, but cheap? Not so much.

Do you respond in a positive way to negative marketing? Why is it so effective? Have you noticed other examples?


puzzled look



Service of Upside-Down

Thursday, August 29th, 2013


Upside down


Thanks for the Memories

Used to be that people with the best manners often came from the most advantaged homes but it seems that the privileged are no longer those who regularly write thank you notes, hold doors or act in thoughtful, courteous ways nor do their offspring. I’ll spare you the examples as no doubt you have many of your own.

No Thanks

I mentioned this topic to a colleague whose daughter just graduated from college. She agreed and added another twist: Many of the kids whose parents could cover college costs have no yen to go so they don’t.

You’re Strange; You’re Hired

Jack in the box

Odd behavior was the kiss of death for most careers but not for our politicians. Like Jack-in-the-boxes, they keep popping up and winning, the weirder the better.


Cheat and Win

People whose fraudulent mismanagement and insider trading garner headlines are rewarded. The former receive huge bonuses and the latter keep misbegotten gains and feel no more than a tap on the finger. Both garner front row seats at major charity events and photos in the society pages.

What’s the cause of these turns of events? What’s happened? Are we better off? Are these examples the new normal and those who aren’t comfortable are the ones who are upside down?

 what happened



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