Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Service of Gifts with Strings

Friday, November 25th, 2022


Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Strings are what often accompany political donations. You scratch my campaign and I’ll scratch your project–or go easy on you or your company.

However, the figurative kind of strings don’t belong on personal presents. We knew a wealthy woman who gave generous graduation checks to her grandchildren and then complained if some didn’t put the money in savings. She didn’t recognize that it wasn’t a gift if she was to control what they did with the money.

Sometimes people threaten beneficiaries of a will. If they don’t kowtow, they’ll be stricken from the document. A longtime friend of my mother’s suddenly tried to control and question her choices of whom to see and how often. Once mom determined the behavior wasn’t a one-off, it lasted only minutes more. She objected; the woman threatened to alter her will so that her daughter wouldn’t receive her antique gold coin collection. “Keep it,” said mom. That was it. Mom was right.

My friend Nancie suggested another kind of gift-with-string: The pads and address labels that accompany fundraising requests. We both admitted putting the “gifts” to good use and not filling the return address envelopes with checks.

It’s holiday tip time in apartments and offices around the country. Do tenants demand to know what workers do with their gifts? What about recipients of giant Wall Street and corporate bonuses—are they expected to divulge to employers what they do with their $millions? NO! So why do some people feel that they are entitled to control when they give a present?

What examples of gifts with strings have you noticed? Has anyone tried to tie you up? Do you use the “gifts” that charities include with requests for support without sending money?


Image by Steve Norris from Pixabay 

Service of Prep for the Job

Monday, November 14th, 2022

Some people succeed in jobs for which they weren’t trained or prepared. Take political widows who slip into their husband’s congressional seats. Wives that choose to be are steeped in their spouse’s work and have survived the drill. They campaign fiercely and are on top of the issues. Many had staying power. Here, from an article in usatoday.com, are just some:

  • Rep. Edith N. Rogers’s husband was in his seventh term representing Massachusetts in the House when he died in 1925. The Republican party urged her to run.
  • Rose McConnell Long took over Huey Long’s Louisiana Senate seat in 1935.
  • Margaret Chase Smith won a special election in 1940 after her husband died and joined the House. She also served in the Senate representing Maine.
  • Democrat Elizabeth B. Andrews, Alabama, took office a year after her husband died in 1971.
  • Cardiss Collins’s husband died in a plane crash in 1972. She won a special election the next year and took his place in the House representing Illinois. She remained until 1997.
  • Debbie Dingell replaced Representative John Dingell, Michigan, after he died in 2015.
Image by Keith Johnston from Pixabay 

However, there are some candidates whose preparation and background make no sense for them to be elected to office. Take a man running for Senate from a background in sports. He wasn’t in sports administration or marketing: He was a star player from the start: He won a Heisman Trophy as a junior at the University of Georgia and subsequently was inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame.

After he played for major NFL teams, he represented the US in the Winter Olympics as part of the bobsleigh team and tried his hand at mixed martial arts.

Before his campaign, in addition to a friendship with the president, the closest he got to politics was as co-chair of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition from 2019-2020.  James Morgan, usatoday.com, covered the announcement of his two year appointment although the article was fuzzy about his role and background: “As Co-Chair, Walker will have a lot of responsibilities related to the council but he has been quoted saying that he is willing to help President Trump. Walker continues to be in excellent shape and fitness that he is legendary for. Walker has made a significant impact off the field, since his retirement from the NFL, and always does an outstanding job of representing the University of Georgia.”

Impact doing what? He is also associated with a company that sells branded meat products.

To be fair, there have been sports stars who turned their attention to politics and did well. Here are just a few of the ones that Business Insider mentioned: Four term House member from Oklahoma, Steve Largent, had been a renowned player for the Seattle Seahawks and J.C. Watts, University of Oklahoma and Ottawa Rough Riders quarterback also served his state in the House. NFL wide receiver and college football coach Tom Osborne represented Nebraska in the House for eight years until 2003.

I have friends who have made 180 career switches. One moved from a spectacular career in marketing to owner/founder/chef of a food enterprise. Her success benefits her family yet should she have failed, it would have impacted only them.

Americans are sports crazy which accounts for this candidate’s name recognition and acceptance as a contender. Sports competition teaches crucial life lessons. Yet don’t you wonder how physical fitness and a connection at a high political level translates to potential success for the essential job of US Senator? In addition, there’s something mean about subjecting this man to such scrutiny. I can’t help thinking about the Jimmy Stewart character in the 1939 movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

Service of When Over the Top Marketing Blows Back

Thursday, September 1st, 2022

‘Tis the season which the following note illustrates. The email arrived at my inbox recently.

Image by Grégory ROOSE from Pixabay

A contributor wrote: “I’m bombarded by both [political] sides and they cry disaster in order to coax $$ out of one’s pocket.  I think I could recite all of their ploys, which include  ‘weeping’ ‘last request’ (yeah right) ‘losing’ ‘packing our bags’ ad nauseam!  One request started by trumpeting that I am an ’embarrassment.’  I liked that one so much that I pressed the unsubscribe button.  Don’t count on those ads to relay real news — their motif is not fact, but enrichment.”

If you’re reading this post I bet you receive such missives especially if you’ve ever sent a politician even just a few dollars. They must sell donor contact info.

It’s not just political campaigns. I’m a former subscriber to a magazine whose publisher sends countless emails with drastic discount offers. Make sure, if you fall for one, that you’re signing up for more than just a few issues. These offers culminate with “this is your last chance.” For today maybe or until next month or perhaps in celebration of St. Swithin’s Day [July 15].

Clothing brands with dedicated stores and e-commerce operations use the same ploy. “Some discounts as large as 70 percent!” “Sale ends tonight.””Add another 40 percent reduction!” You can be certain that the cashmere sweater you coveted was sold out in every size and color two sales ago.

Were this approach not profitable we wouldn’t be bombarded. I suspect the cry wolf sales approach–“there will never be another deal or opportunity like this” or “without your money we’re doomed”–works for some while it irritates others. Where do you fall? Have you succumbed to the pressure of “now or never” or “Your $10 will make all the difference”?

Service of Two Sides of a Tennis Court

Monday, May 2nd, 2022


Image by Bessi from Pixabay

Wimbledon is off limits to Russian and Belarusian tennis players because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. According to NPR’s Rachel Treisman, “U.K. Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said last month that ‘nobody flying the flag for Russia should be allowed or enabled’ to play in it.”

The players impacted are, as ranked by the Association of Tennis Professionals, the top two in men’s tennis, Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev, as well as two other men in the top 30 as well as the 4th ranked woman, Aryna Sabalenka.

Last week I heard valid arguments pro and con from former sportscaster, now radio morning show host Len Berman, and guest Arthur Caplan, PhD, director of NYU Langone’s Division of Medical Ethics.

Dr. Caplan said that we can’t let the players show up at Wimbledon or at any sports event and he hoped that the US Open follows suit. Russia has committed war crimes, shelled apartment buildings, leveled another country and given that we aren’t going to war we have only two potential weapons: financial and turning Putin into a pariah.

Len disagreed with Dr. C and in a rare show of solidarity his co-host at the WOR 710 morning radio show, Michael Riedel, agreed. Beman felt that it’s not right to take it out on [star] players who have nothing to do with the war.

Dr. Caplan responded that he fears that Putin et al will say “look at what our country can achieve–” He’ll make something of it.

What do you think? Should politics impact whether athletes compete in international competition?


Image by anais_anais29 from Pixabay

Service of Bad Precedent

Thursday, November 12th, 2020

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?

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?

Service of Good Sportsmanship

Monday, November 9th, 2020

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.

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

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.

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?

Service of When You Lose, Let Go

Monday, October 12th, 2020

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.

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”

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?

Service of Standing Up to Power When Health is Involved

Monday, October 5th, 2020

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.

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.

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?

Service of the Similar Reaction to Temper and Humor

Thursday, October 1st, 2020

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.

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?

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