Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

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 – 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 I’m interested in holding a hearing depending on what the investigation discovers.”

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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Public School Funding

February 16, 2011

In the NY Daily News for Wednesday Feb 16, 2011 on page 7 there’s a story about public school funding.

The article states that NYC public schools received $649 less per student than NYC charter schools. NYC public schools received $16,011 per student while NYC charter schools received $16,660 per student.

16,000-plus dollars a year per student is too much money. The city should cut spending per student by half. $8,000 per year per student is still high, but is much more reasonable.

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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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Hot Tub Time Machine

March 30, 2010

I went to see “Hot Tub Time Machine” today.
It is a silly movie. It doesn’t make sense and doesn’t even try to explain things.
I expected a funny movie. It was. At times.
I expected it to make fun of the eighties and the politician of the decade. But, aside from a few brief pans of President Ronald Reagan speaking on television, it was bereft of politicians or political satire.
Overall, I give the film a 5 out of 10.

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.

Becoming human… another step

March 17, 2010

Often when I examine myself and where I want to be, I wonder if I’ll ever be human. Sometimes when I’m at a bar and people seem to be having a good time around me and I’m in my own island, these thoughts pop up.

And then… I’ll have experiences like I had Thursday night and tonight. And, I’ll feel like I can do this!

I know I don’t tell this blog about all the lousy experiences I have. I don’t feel obligated to share everything with this blog. They happen and they get me down. Which is why I think I should take a moment to applaud these experiences.

I ride the train (read: subway) to and from work each day. (My dream is to ride a bike or roller blades to work, but for now I take the train.) On the train there are many people that seem bored and would appreciate a small conversation. (Nothing too personal or too long.) I often “know” who these people are. I can sense that if I said something, they would respond. At least for a minute or two. For Israelis this paragraph is laughable, after all, some Israelis take this to a bad extreme. But, for me, a former Orthodox Jewish male, the idea of speaking to a random stranger, female or male, without regard for a “tachlis” (a religious or financial purpose) is not only “crazy”, it borders on “vyihorag val yaver” (all yourself to be killed rather than transgress). You can see, therefore, why I have limited experience and confidence in engaging strangers in conversation.
Wednesday, on two different train, I was right next to the person, women in these cases, who were looking for conversation. I had a great opening line for the first one, but she was a religious Jewish woman (obviously married) and I felt very uncomfortable saying something to her. The second was further away from me. She kept looking at me with “angry” eyes. But, then she moved very close to where I was and she looked at me a couple of times. I felt very sure that she wanted me to say something. But, the anger in her earlier glances and the fact that she was also a very religious woman (though unmarried), kept me from saying a word.
Thursday, I was working on my Sudoku puzzle when a couple moved to a bench that had two open seats. When they sat down a young woman stood up. It was obvious that she got up to make things comfortable for the couple. I seemed very friendly and I wanted the third to be the charm. I looked for something to say. She had a cross dangling from her neck, but too close to very visible cleavage. Too dangerous. Pink nail polish, hmm, but she was wearing black, so I couldn’t comment on that. Then I saw her earrings. Holy cow! They were long rectangle thingies! I was genuinely curious. So I asked her if they were religious.
“Huh?”
“Your earrings, are they religious? I see you are wearing a cross.” (I thought maybe they were the Ten Commandments or something similar.)
“Oh, haha, no, they are cassette tapes.”
We had a brief conversation for another minute or so and she left smiling. Mission accomplished!

I signed up for notification of free events in New York City on twitter. Monday morning I got a notification that “The Leprechaun” would be playing for free at a bar in Manhattan. After checking IMDB.com, I decided to attend. When I got there, the bartender explained that they weren’t able to get the movie, so they were showing “Up” instead. A group of guys at the bar overheard our exchange and we engaged them in conversation.
Later a gal sat next to me. She was joined by her boyfriend a little while later. The three of us had a very interesting conversation about health care reform. Too bad Congress wasn’t in the room with us, I think we had the problem licked.
After they left, I shared a conversation with a couple on the other side of me and a different bartender. The bartender and the fellow were both facing the prospect of having to propose to their girlfriends. At first I suggested reasons not to get married, but after I saw that these poor men aren’t facing the same issues as me, I tried to honestly reassure them.
(For example, the bartender said he totally loves her and he wants to have children with her. However, the idea that he’ll never be with another woman scares him. I asked him if he would even want to be with another women. (I wouldn’t ask that of most people, it’s a dangerous question, but I was confident of how he would answer.) He admitted that he doesn’t want to be intimate with anyone else. I tried to show him that he isn’t really giving anything up.)

The only drawback was I didn’t get to watch the film. 🙂 But, since I only went to the film in the hopes of meeting and conversing with people, I have to consider the night a complete success!

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.

The writing on the hand

February 11, 2010

The Sarah Palin controversy is strange to me. I don’t understand the uproar.

‘Photographs posted to blogs after Ms. Palin’s speech to the National Tea Party Convention on Saturday night captured several words scribbled seventh-grade style on her left palm: “energy,” “tax cuts” (with “budget” crossed out in front of cuts) and “lift American spirits.”
‘Ms. Palin read from a prepared text for the initial portion of her appearance, so it appeared that the notes scribbled on her hand were in preparation for the subsequent 15-minute question-and-answer session she did with Judson Phillips, the founder of Tea Party Nation, the social networking site that organized the convention. Pictures captured her glancing at her palm while she answered the questions.
‘During her speech, Ms. Palin had savaged President Obama as a “charismatic guy with a teleprompter” — a line that got one of several cheering ovations from the audience.’ – New York Times Feb 9, 2010

I don’t see the correlation between a teleprompter and a note. Teleprompters tell an orator what to say, word for word. Having a note with key points to address requires the orator to do more then say words with emotion. It requires them to express thoughts at appropriate times and in their own words.

I don’t like Sarah Palin. I think she’s dangerous. But, getting on her case over this issue is unfair and unintelligent.