Archive for the ‘Politicians’ Category

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 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 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.

Service of When Is It Worth Selling Your Soul to the Devil?

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

Photo: theodysseyonline.com

There was a day when many wouldn’t buy products from companies or countries they disapproved of. There may be a few who still don’t though I suspect less than in earlier periods. Stock brokers ask if there are industries clients want to avoid investing in. Some PR and Ad agencies refuse to represent certain clients because they don’t like what they stand for or how they operate.

Photo: cnn.com

But this isn’t always the case. As recently as the midterm election constituents voted into high office—the Senate–a man who was indicted on federal corruption charges. [The Justice Department dropped the charges against him after a hung jury and mistrial.] In order to win, another senatorial candidate [photo right] swallowed his dignity and unctuously made up to a former opponent who had seriously trashed his father and his wife. He also won.

Emperor Vespasian. Photo: en.wikipedia.org

The Roman emperor Vespasian is said to have remarked “money does not stink.” The headline of Eliot Brown’s Wall Street Journal article illustrates how true this still is: “In Silicon Valley, Saudi Money Keeps Flowing to Startups Amid Backlash–Entrepreneurs and venture capitalists have remained generally quiet about Saudi funding since grisly killing of journalist.”

Brown wrote: “Two startups— View Inc., which makes light-adjustable glass, and Zume Inc., which uses robots to make pizza—disclosed investments over the past week totaling a combined $1.5 billion from SoftBank’s Saudi-backed Vision Fund.” Katerra Inc. that constructs housing units, is into SoftBank for $3 billion. SoftBank is in negotiations to lend WeWork $15-$20 billion. Wikipedia describes WeWork as “An American company that designs and provides shared workspaces for technology startup subculture communities and services for entrepreneurs, freelancers, startups, small business and large enterprises.” [This reporter wrote in a subsequent article on November 14 that the actual SoftBank investment in WeWork is $3 billion, although his sources told him that the larger amount is still under consideration.]

WeWork. Photo: wework.com

SoftBank is Japanese-owned. The Vision Fund has $100 billion to invest in tech companies. According to Bloomberg’s Pavel Alpeyev, “Saudi Arabia is the biggest investment partner.” Brown reported “Saudi Arabia has become the largest funder of U.S. startups in recent years as it works to diversify its economy by steering a big chunk of its Public Investment Fund toward technology. The kingdom has committed more than $12 billion to U.S. startups since mid-2016, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis, largely through its $45 billion commitment to SoftBank’s $92 billion Vision Fund.”

After Turkish allegations about journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s brutal murder some companies refused to attend an October conference “in Riyadh sponsored by the Saudi sovereign-wealth fund,” Brown reported—even some backed by SoftBank.

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

Companies that wanted to cut ties with Saudi Arabia include what Brown called Hollywood’s biggest talent agency, Endeavor, as well as Virgin Group and “multiple Washington lobbying firms…. Republican and Democratic lawmakers also have called for curbing ties with the kingdom. …Other companies, including many in the energy industry, have stood by Saudi Arabia through the controversy.”

Are there exceptions in which crossing a moral line is legit? Have you boycotted purchases or refused to work for a company or organization on ethical grounds? Have we lost our compasses that determine right and wrong now more than before? Have expedient choices always been pretty much acceptable here?

Photo: medium.com

Service of Watchdogs Asleep on the Job When Their Partisanship Gets the Better of Them

Monday, October 1st, 2018

Photo: watchdogri.org

Partisanship has caused our representatives to lose their focus. It masks common sense forcing our elected officials and their appointees to make decisions for the wrong reasons. Senator Flake admitted on “60 Minutes” last night that he would not have taken the step he did to insist on an FBI investigation in the Kavanaugh hearing had he been running for office.

Bloomberg View senior executive editor David Shipley shed light on an example that impacts us all yet hasn’t grabbed many headlines. He argued on Bloomberg radio “that the Federal Election Commission [FEC] is overly partisan, and if Democrats take control of one or both sides of Congress in November, they should commence hearings into its operations.”

Photo: commons.wikimedia.org

I checked out some info about the FEC. Its six members** are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. A term is six years, two appointments are made every two years and no more than three commissioners can represent a party. Four members must agree for the commission to take action. **In an “On the Media” interview on NPR on Saturday, Washington Post national reporter Michele Ye He Lee said currently there are four commissioners on the FEC–two from each party.

Shipley said that the Trump 2016 campaign solicited funds from members of Parliament in the UK, which is illegal, but even though watchdog organizations filed complaints, the FEC didn’t pursue the campaign or enforce the law. “The FEC preferred not to know,” he said. He added that “Republicans on the FEC were sure that campaign laws were not broken.”

He also mentioned that when Paul Manafort was Trump’s campaign chairman he sought campaign money for a super PAC that backed Trump, which is also illegal. Nothing happened.

Shipley recommended that if “Democrats take control of Congress in November, and if a bipartisan resolution is impossible, Congress should wind down the FEC and transfer its function to the justice department.” He concluded: “Status quo is a mockery of the law.”

Do you agree? How can members of a watchdog commission accept the position and then forfeit their responsibility without blinking? Can you identify other examples of people we depend on to watch out for us who, for reasons of partisanship, turn a blind eye to illegal activities?

Photo: personaliberty.com

Service of While We Were Distracted by Stormy, Omarosa, a $15K Jacket & Michael Cohen…

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018

Photo: nationofchange.org

Cable and social media are obsessed with Stormy, Omarosa, the $15K Paul Manafort jacket, the Cohen admissions and other almost daily forehead-slapping bits that distract from and mask crucial changes by the current administration none of which are topics around the water cooler.

Daniel Nelson wrote in sciencetrends.com that the administration cut out the yearly budget for NASA’s Carbon Monitoring System which measures greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere and “will likely stymie efforts to combat global climate change.” The savings was $10 million/year. [By comparison, the Mexico wall is estimated to cost $70 billion to build and $150 million/year to maintain.]

Photo: NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory

According to Nelson, “Kelly Sims Gallagher, the director of the International Environment and Resource Policy Center at Tufts University says that the decision was ‘a grave mistake.’”

The program supported research big and small. It:

  • ensured that countries adhered to the Paris climate accord because it measured reductions in emissions
  • provided data for 65 projects to understand how forests keep carbon out of the air
  • prevented deforestation of tropical forest in developing nations
  • tracked dissolving carbon flowing from the mouth of the Mississippi River into the Pacific Ocean
  • helped Providence I. reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Meanwhile Betsy DeVos was busy unraveling consumer protections in another sector—for-profit colleges. [Examples: chains which train automotive mechanics, cosmetologists, cyber security techs and, like the now defunct Trump University, real estate investment specialists.]

Photo: economicdevelopment.org

According to Erica L. Green, DeVos “formally moved to scrap a regulation that would have forced for-profit colleges to prove that the students they enroll are able to attain decent-paying jobs.” In her New York Times article, Green described the sector as “scandal-scarred” noting that the now rescinded gainful employment safeguard was made during the previous administration.

Photo: autotraining.edu

The rule under Obama “revoked federal funding and access to financial aid for poor-performing schools” where graduates were left drowning in debt with poor job prospects. Green reported that since 2010, when the Obama administration began to tighten the rules, almost half the career programs and schools have closed and the student population shrank by more than 1.6 million. The president of Career Education Colleges and Universities, the industry’s trade group, admitted “The sector today is so much better.”

Who will be left holding the bag to pay defaulted loans under the DeVos change? Taxpayers.

“‘The Trump administration is once again choosing the interests of executives and shareholders of predatory for-profit higher education institutions over protecting students and taxpayers,’ said John King, the Obama-era education secretary charged with enforcing the rule, who called the move ‘outrageous and irresponsible.’”

Attorney generals of 18 states have sued to delay enforcement of the DeVos reversal.

Here are the reasons her department gives for rescinding the gainful employment rule:

  • Research ignored by the Obama administration “undermined the ‘validity of using the debt and earnings comparisons.’”
  • They found that “‘a troubling degree of inconsistency and potential error exists in job placement rates’ that ‘could mislead students in making an enrollment decision.’”
  • It was “burdensome” for schools to disclose their data.
  • “the Obama regulations ‘reinforce an inaccurate and outdated belief that career and vocational programs are less valuable to students and less valued by society, and that these programs should be held to a higher degree of accountability than traditional two- and four-year degree programs that may have less market value.’”

Maybe someone can explain these arguments to me.

Is there a chance that these reversals—and their negative impact–will be part of voter decisions at the November midterm elections? Do you think that they are widely known? Are the extraneous headline-grabbing distractions deliberate to keep our eyes off the many far bigger birdies? They sure are working, don’t you think?

Photo: pinterest

Service of Using Economic Arguments to Mask Bigotry

Monday, June 4th, 2018

Photo: wxyz.com

I’ve got news for those who fear that immigrants will take jobs from Americans. Turns out there aren’t enough people in this country to handle the work that businesses need as it is. Unemployment stats on Friday were the lowest since 2000—3.8 percent.

That fact doesn’t faze some Republican lawmakers. They demanded “a vote on a bill that would lower legal—not illegal, but legal—immigration,” according to Gerald F. Seib. In his Wall Street Journal article, “An Immigration Debate Distinct From Economic Realities–There is a good case that America’s economy has never needed immigrant labor more than it does now,” he reported that 6.6 million unfilled job openings impact fisheries in Alaska, restaurants in New Hampshire, crab processors in Maryland and farmers. “For the first time in history,” he wrote, “there are enough openings to provide a job for every unemployed person in the country.”

Photo: alaskajournal.com

There were 66,000 travel permits allotted for low-skilled foreign workers requesting H-2B visas in January yet the federal government received thousands more applications. Seib predicted that the feds might add 15,000 more–not nearly enough. “The search for more highly skilled workers is even more urgent. The NFIB [National Federation of Independent Business] says that 22% of small-business owners say finding qualified workers is their single most important business problem, more than those who cite taxes or regulations,” he wrote.

In “Summer is Here. Where are the Workers?” Ruth Simon, in the same paper, reported that last year Congress refused to renew visas for returning workers–each had to start the process from scratch. She wrote that landscaping and food processing businesses are as severely impacted as restaurants. The demand is so great that the government made a business’s “winning” workers the random choice of a lottery because they were 15,000 short six months ago.

Back to Sieb. He wrote that “Demographers think that in the next three decades, the share of Americans aged 65 and older will surpass the share of Americans aged 18 and younger,” and he concluded that even though we “can handle…and may actually need” more immigrants “the climate is more hostile toward immigrants and immigration than at any time in recent memory.”

Photo: buildingacustomhome.com

Sieb attributed the 2016 campaign for moving a political party that generally favored immigration because it energized the American bloodstream to one that is “increasingly dominated by those with a distinctly darker view of immigration.” In addition to jacking up punitive laws against illegal aliens and refusing to offer permanent legal status to Dreamers, the conservative members’ bill would reduce the number of visas by 25 percent, to 260,000/year. The Cato Institute calculated that the reduction “would be closer to 40%, adding: ‘This would be the largest policy-driven reduction in legal immigration since the awful, racially motivated acts of the 1920s.’”

Immigration grinches posit that Americans’ wages should increase as a result though that doesn’t seem to be happening [take a look at last Thursday’s post, “Service of Hourly Work–No Bed of Roses,” as one example]. Seib attributes the true attitude “among many Americans that they are losing control of their country and its traditions—as in economic dislocation. The quest to control America’s borders has morphed into much broader sentiments.”

Stingy immigration quotas negatively impact small business. Would lawmakers take better notice if big business was affected? Immigrants have been absorbed here for decades. How best to allay economic fears of those blocking immigration today? Addressing the fear of loss of control is a bigger challenge: In addition to fighting with better education, any other ideas?

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