Posts Tagged ‘Current Events’

Komen vs Planned Parenthood

February 3, 2012

There’s been a lot of noise this week about Komen’s announcement that they changed their rules. Their new rules included that they will no longer provide grants to any organization that is under investigation. Once they applied this rule, however, only one organization was affected – Planned Parenthood.

Immediately upon hearing this announcement, many people took great offense and started sending out tweets and posting blogs protesting Planned Parenthood’s exclusion. Also, some corporations, politicians, and individuals began donating directly to Planned Parenthood. Within a couple of days, Planned Parenthood donation pace was too great for them to provide a solid number of money received – and instead estimated about $400,000.00 raised in 48 hours that were directly caused by Komen’s decision.

Today, Komen decided that the protesters were correct and they should, in fact, be funding grants to Planned Parenthood.

For me this exposed that Komen doesn’t do direct research. I thought the money that I and others donated to them went directly towards cancer research. After all, their catch-phrase is “race for the cure”!
I don’t know how many people knew that Komen provides money to cancer screenings and questionable breast exams. I didn’t. Would I have donated to them with that knowledge? Probably not. I thought my money was going exclusively towards cancer research. After spending more time on their site, I see they spend a lot of money on things that are unrelated to cancer research.

People were upset because as soon as they heard that it involved Planned Parenthood, they automatically thought of abortion. Of course, anyone whose ever called Planned Parenthood for a non-pregnancy issue, knows that they do far more than just abort fetuses (which is a valuable thing on its own). Because of the natural association between Planned Parenthood and abortions, people decided that Komen was making an anti-abortion statement.

This reasoning ignored that Komen was initially funding PP and that Komen had a legitimate reason to cut funding. After all, if you are in the grant business, you should be responsible that the grants are made to deserving, transparent, and ethical organizations.

The Congressional investigation, launched by Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), into whether PP had illegally misused federal monies is, on its face, a legitimate reason for a responsible organization to be cautious.

Stearns, “I am leading a formal investigation into taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood, which receives over $1 million a day in taxpayer money. Repeated cases of Planned Parenthood ignoring state and local reporting requirements, many involving minors, and allegations of financial abuse led to this investigation ā€“ the first ever oversight conducted on this group. We are still working with Planned Parenthood on getting the records and documents for the investigation, and Iā€™m interested in holding a hearing depending on what the investigation discovers.ā€

However, today’s press release is the smart political decision even if it’s not necessarily the best policy decision.

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Primary Field

January 25, 2012

This is a break-down as of January 25, 2012.

Obama
Weaknesses:

  • Economy is still weak.
  • Perception that he isn’t doing anything/ineffective.
  • Perception that he doesn’t care about his job performance.
  • Perception that he allows political games to prevent him from doing what’s right for the country.
  • Perception that he’s weak on foreign threats.
  • He pushed through a large, expensive insurance reformation while the country was dealing with economic instability.
  • Perception that his political views aren’t consistent.

Strengths:

  • He pushed through a major insurance reformation even while the country was dealing with economic instability!
  • He’s the incumbent.
  • He appears presidential.
  • His base is large and it is virtually impossible to lose their support.

Romney
Weaknesses:

  • Perception that he made his money solely by firing people.
  • Perception that (some of) his policies are too left-wing.
  • Unanswered questions about his financial dealing (offshore accounts).
  • Perception that his political views aren’t consistent.

Strengths:

  • He has large name-recognition.
  • As a former republican governor from Massachusetts, he can work with Democrats.
  • He has been through the primary season before, so he should be equipped to succeed.

Gingrich
Weaknesses:

  • He has aligned himself with Sarah Palin.
  • Perception that he’s a weasel.
  • Perception that he’s two-faced.
  • Perception that he’s immoral.
  • Perception that he took money from places that he advocated and advocates shutting down.
  • Perception that he’s unstable.
  • Perception that he cares more about himself than the Republican party or the country.
  • Perception that his political views aren’t consistent.

Strengths:

  • He has aligned himself with Sarah Palin.
  • He is a good orator.
  • He rabble-rouses effectively.
  • He currently espouses Conservative principles that resonate with his base.

Paul
Weaknesses:

  • Perception that he’s kooky.
  • Perception that he’s a racist.
  • Perception that he’s antisemitic.
  • Perception that he’s weak on foreign policy.
  • Perception that he has no chance to win the nomination.
  • Perception that he’s old.
  • His base tends not to vote in elections.

Strengths:

  • He resonates well with young, idealistic, and conspiratorial people.
  • He appeals to some libertarians.
  • Perception that his political views are consistent.

Santorum
Weaknesses:

  • Little name recognition.

Strengths:

  • His ideology would resonate with the Conservative base, if they knew about him.
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Dems: We want our Weiner out

June 14, 2011

The bandwagon of politicians calling for Anthony Weiner’s resignation is filling up. Today’s NY Daily News quotes President Barack Obama as saying “If it was me, I would resign”.

Anthony and I don’t agree politically. I don’t particularly like him.

However, so far, none of his disclosed extra-curricular activities warrant him resigning his job. Barring any new revelations, he hasn’t committed any crimes.

I think non-indicted elected officials have an obligation to stay in office until their term completes. (It was wrong for Sarah Palin to leave her governorship and it was wrong for Trent Lott to resign his senatorial seat. However, people who commit crimes, like Alan Hevasi and Charlie Rangel should have resigned immediately.)

If there was a chance that his electorate would choose a better politician, maybe I’d be tempted, but we all know they are just going to elect another Schumer clone. So, what’s the point? All it will do is cost us money to run a special election.

Therefore, I implore Anthony Weiner to think of his obligation to New York City and not resign.

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Not all it’s quacked up to be

March 15, 2011

Friday. Japan hit by a major earthquake and a horrific tsunami. Unthinkable amount of people are killed and multiple thousands of people are still missing.

Saturday. Comedian Gilbert Gottfried makes some jokes about Japan using his private twitter.com account.

Sunday. Aflac, an insurance company that employed Gottfried to voice their mascot duck, fires Gottfried for being insensitive.

“Gilbert’s recent comments about the crisis in Japan were lacking in humor and certainly do not represent the thoughts and feelings of anyone at Aflac,” Michael Zunda, the company’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer, said in a statement.

“Aflac Japan — and, by extension, Japan itself — is part of the Aflac family, and there is no place for anything but compassion and concern during these difficult times.” He added that the company was giving the International Red Cross 100 million yen (U.S. $1.2 million) to aid in disaster relief.

I think Alfac made a mistake. Either by hiring a comedian in the first place or by acting like his tweets are a big deal.
First, the few tweets I saw from him were funny. Distasteful, certainly. But, also, very funny.
Second, what do you expect from a comedian? This is what they do.
Third, no one would suspect that his tweets reflect Aflac’s thoughts or feelings. In fact, no one thinks that Gottfried doesn’t feel badly about the situation in Japan. Jokes and personal feelings often diverge.

I think the whole thing is overblown.

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Federal Politician Tax

February 2, 2011

There’s been a lot of talk over the past 24 months about the economy and the ability for the credit rating of federal, state, and local governments to stay strong.
Usually these conversations focus on cutting spending and increasing governmental funds.
The governments are always looking for ways to increase revenue. They increase license fees, taxes, penalties for simple mistakes, penalties for not complying with their ideas of health, etc.

When politicians announce their new tax ideas (let’s be honest and call it what it is, a tax), they usually try to paint the victims as greedy/wrong and they extol the virtues of having the extra funds.

In general I don’t favor increasing taxes. I think the average person struggles to get by day-to-day and should have fewer taxes.

However, I do acknowledge that there are governmental services that need funding. (I can argue that there is too much spending, but politicians would never cut spending intelligently.)

So, how do you keep spending at its current levels without increasing taxes on the citizenry or running up a deficit?

The common answer to this question is to isolate a small segment of the population (so they can’t defend themselves), demonize them, and apply a levy. Examples of this are “rich” folk who are greedy, “smokers” who are sick and dirty, “soda drinkers” who are sick and gluttons, “bridge-crossing drivers” who ruin the environment and didn’t really need to cross the bridge, “drivers with a visible cell phone” who cause accidents, etc.

A while back I was watching a news show and they showed how the personal finances of federal congress representatives increase tremendously once they start serving.

As much as people lament that all the personal investigations into politician’s past and characters will lead to fewer candidates for public office, this has not proven itself to be true. It’s clear that there will always be people who will aspire to public office so they can gain power they lack and control others.

Therefore, it seems like the solution is simple. Add a new, large (non-deductible) tax for all federal politicians. This includes all members of both houses of Congress and all members of the Executive branch. I would not levy this tax on Supreme Court members unless there was accurate data showing that their personal finances also increase far beyond their federal salary.
This tax would begin from the day they are sworn in and end when they could prove that they are not earning far beyond their federal salary/pension.

The advantage of this plan is average Americans wouldn’t be harmed by politician’s frivolous spending. Federal, State, and Local governments would have a large funding stream that allow essential programs to continue without worries. And, it would allow politicians to finally contribute towards society.

Of course, one major problem with this plan is the necessity to have Congress vote for it and the President sign it. That is highly unlikely.

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2010 Election – What happened?!?!

November 4, 2010

The election is over. Right wing parties won enough seats in the House of Representatives to take leadership away from Nancy (Don’t call me ma’am) Pelosi. They also won enough seats in the U.S. Senate to significantly bother left-wing parties’ senators.

What does the electorate want?

How can they overwhelmingly elect Barack Obama and his allies in 2008 only to throw out his allies two years later when they do what they promised to do?
I understand that there’s anger about the economy, but does anyone really think the economy would be better under McCain or Bush?

I didn’t support Obama’s health care plan and I still don’t. In fact, there are very few policies that Obama and I see eye-to-eye on. However, my personal politics is irrelevant to the rest of the electorate. What are they thinking?

Have we seen another great shift in thinking, from left to right? I don’t think so.

I think in 2008 a lot right-wing voters stayed home because they were upset with the Republican party for tremendously increasing federal spending. Also, they mistrusted John McCain because of his history. (I know I couldn’t vote for him.)
However, with the “invention” of “Tea Parties” right-wing voters could pretend that these were new ideological politicians who will really hold the line on federal spending. New Tea Parties allowed right-wing voters to keep their anger with the Republican party while still allowing them to vote a straight Republican ballot.

At the same time a lot of left-wing voters were disillusioned with the progress of their politicians.
I never thought that they would be able to get Obama’s health care plan into law, but left-wing voters wanted the health care plan to be more comprehensive.
They wanted Obama to repeal Clinton’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” military policy. They wanted Obama to outlaw foreclosures, raise taxes on anyone making more than themselves, and bring world peace.
Since they didn’t move quickly enough to make these changes, more of their supporters didn’t vote.

I don’t think the country changed its mind. I think, rather, that it’s two (or three) different countries expressing their thoughts. The left-wing of the country are still in 2008 – desperately seeking a far left-wing agenda. The right-wing of the country is still in 1994.

It would be interesting to see what would happen if both countries were motivated to vote during the same election.

Right wing politicians that think they’ve received a mandate to take the United States all the way to the right are making a partial mistake. They have received a mandate, but only from their supporters. The other half of the voters haven’t given them any such mandate.

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Slum Landlords

March 25, 2010

The Village Voice discusses landlords that don’t take care of their tenants. They allow their buildings to fall into disrepair in the hopes their tenants will move out, so they can fix it up and raise the rent.
This, of course, is illegal. The city fines these landlords. However, the fines are smaller than the money slumlords stand to gain by harming their tenants, forcing them to leave, and renting the apartments at higher prices.
I suggest instead of the fines going to the city, the fines should go to the tenants.
I think that’s “fairer”, since the tenants are the ones who suffered from the heater being busted and the other housing issues.
Also, I think it would “burn” these landlord’s insides to have to pay the very people they seek to harm! Maybe that would motivate them to follow the law and be decent people.
I think landlords who act like this should be barred from owning property in the city (for a decade or so) and the tenants should be guaranteed a year or two extension on their current lease without increases or fees allowed.
The current system gives the city incentive to allow the problem to fester. As long as violations are not fixed, the city makes money on fines. By removing the financial gain to the city, they might work faster towards requiring the landlord to fix the issues.

News and Outlook – March 7, 2010

March 7, 2010

Sunday, Daily News (page 4) : This has to be the quote of the week!
Paterson still has some support – he received a bouquet of yellow roses a few minutes before his departure, and one neighbor shouted her tepid backing.
Leave him alone!” she yelled down at reporters from her third-floor home. “He may not be any good, but he’s the best we got.”

Sunday, Daily News (pages 28, 29) : Editorial by Joyce Purnick: “Doesn’t anyone remember that it was Spitzer who gave us Paterson in the first place? The former state senator should never have become governor, and Spitzer, along with New York’s ever-toxic politics, are why he did. Spitzer selected Paterson as his running mate in 2006 to guarantee himself the black vote, plain and simple. Even Paterson’s mentors, the old guard in Harlem, favored another African American to run as lieutenant governor, Leecia Eve, lawyer and daughter of a former Assemblyman from Buffalo. Think maybe they knew something?”

In my opinion Joyce is looking for a scapegoat so she doesn’t need to look herself in the mirror and say SHE made a mistake.

When a politician chooses a running mate they _always_ choose someone who they feel will increase their odds of being elected.
Further, it’s the job of the voters to choose the political team they think will best serve their interests. The idea that voters only choose the governor is false. New York could have voted against Spitzer and Paterson, but they didn’t.
They are at fault for allegedly breaking laws and being corrupt, but we, as New Yorkers, are at fault for electing them to their positions.

Now, if Paterson resigns and Ravitch turns out to be corrupt as well, then we can pin the blame on Paterson and the NYS Supreme Court.

News and outlook – March 6, 2010

March 6, 2010

Thursday March 4, 2010 (Daily News page 3) : The FAA suspended an air-traffic controller and his supervisor pending an investigation into a couple of incidents in which he allegedly allowed his nine-year old children to communicate with pilots.
The transcript is pretty tame. The pilots understood the air-traffic controller’s instructions and nothing went amiss. The air-traffic controller was there the whole time and was clearly monitoring the situation.
When I read the article I couldn’t find a legitimate reason for all the hubbub. Obviously, the father broke the rules and should be spoken to. Does he deserve to lose his job? Should his children feel guilty and like they cost their dad his job? (As I feared, Friday’s Daily News (page 12) has the children feeling guilty for their dad’s predicament.
The fact is no one was in danger. The whole thing should have been reported as an oddity or handled quietly.

Thursday Daily News (Page 30) : After a decade of New York city wasting $722 million on a system, CityTime, that would make it harder for city worker to cheat on their clock-in and clock-out times, City Controller John Liu has asked Mayor Bloomberg to freeze all contracts and payments.
It seems to me that the amount of money wasted on the system is far in excess of the amount of money the city would save by paying workers for working when they aren’t really in the office.
CityTime relies on biometrics to ensure that the actual worker is clocking in. Currently, non-managers who earn under about $60,000 are required to slide an identification card through a system called AutoTime. Some workers took advantage of the system to have co-workers swipe their cards. When they are caught they are almost always fired. The benefit isn’t worth the risk, so the number of actual abusers is probably very low.

Thursday Daily News (Page 34) Editorial by Charles Brecher :
How to save $2B without slashing city services:
Adopt a 40-hour workweek. Savings: $500 million. About 70,000 civilian municipal employees (not teachers or uniformed workers) are required to work less than 40 hours a week, according to an analysis by the Citizens Budget Commission. Most have 35-hour schedules, some 37.5 hours. If the city workers put in 40 hours as do similar federal and municipal workers around the country, about 8,500 fewer positions would be needed to provide the same service.
If you read the above out of context, you might think that city workers work a 35 hour day, in that they can come in at 9 and leave at 4. That’s not the truth. City workers that work a 35 hour day, work 8 hour days, from 9 to 5. City workers are not paid for lunch, so it works out to a 35 hour week.
If they changed it to a 40 hours week, it would just be a numbers game. Productivity would not go up or down.

Out of the (Tiger) Woods

February 20, 2010

When the Tiger Woods story first hit, it was described as a car accident. I was very interested. Not because I’m a golf fan; I’m not. I’ve been a casual Tiger Woods fan since he burst on the scene, because he was a good winner. He excels at his craft and is a fierce competitor, but he’s not a sore winner. The way he goes about his business is impressive. (Edgardo Alfonso, former second and third baseman for the New York Mets, exhibited the same characteristics and I’ve been a fan since 1997.)
When more details leaked out and I started hearing snippets of a domestic situation, I refused to listen, read, or watch any coverage of the story. First, the whole incident is a private affair and is none of our business. Second, I’ve personally been involved in a public news story in which the media got many of the facts incorrect. I don’t trust many of the details the news establishment reports. Third, shortly before and after I separated from my wife, someone went around spreading a lot of slanderous lies about me. (I think they were hoping they could “scare” me into staying religious and not deciding that divorce is the only option in my situation. Regardless of their intentions, they were complete fabrications.) Just because someone comes forward with all kinds fanciful claims about a famous person, does not mean it’s true or that I should pay them mind.
When I picked up the paper this morning, I saw the first eight pages are devoted to a press conference that Tiger Woods hosted on Friday. I figured if Tiger is talking about it, he must not feel it’s solely a private affair. As such, I felt like he wanted me to read about the situation.

One thing I’m struck by when reading coverage of the story and editorials on the subject is the sense that Tiger was obligated to give a public apology. I don’t understand. Why am I entitled to an apology? Why do I even need an apology? Tiger hasn’t hurt me and I don’t really care about his actions. Who does he “need” to apologize to? His wife. Any woman he might have led on about his intentions with them. His sponsors. A second-hand apology to his in-laws and his family. That’s it. All of those apologies should take place quietly, one on one. The outrage expressed by fans, columnists, and women’s rights organizations is uncalled for, unnecessary, and infantile.