Friday foibles and follies

On yet another Friday the 13th, be safe and be smart. And, watch out for black cats crossing in front of you. In the spirit of the day, let me offer a few foibles and follies for your contemplation.

Per our friend Scottie’s post, it always makes sense do your homework and be prepared for whatever comes your way. Please take about two minutes to watch the video of White House secretary’s Jen Psaki’s response to a reporter question on the claim of GOP support for Senator Rick Scott’s economic plan. Trust me, it is worth the watch. See below for the link to Scottie’s post.

I apologize for a little bit of morbid humor, but it is Friday the 13th. I once read the true story of man who is about my age now being diagnosed with prostate cancer. Being married for many years, he objected to the doctor’s insistent recommendation of a more invasive surgery that would leave him impotent. He said making love with his wife was the greatest joy in his life and he pursued other procedures. After being cured for twelve years and enjoying his love life, he read the doctor passed away. The man saw the obit and smiled that he had outlived his doctor, noting to his bride, the doctor makes whoopie no more.

There is another true story I read about an older New Jersey woman who refused to sell her coastal property to a famous developer who would later become a notorious former US president. The developer wanted her property as it was next the casino he wanted to build. To his chagrin, she denied every advance to buy her property, even the threat of lawsuit and he exhibited his famous temper. A few years later, as the casino went bankrupt, her property was still standing. And, she smiled that she had outlasted the investment.

In a news report following the housing crisis in 2007-08, one of the investment banks that went under was Bear Stearns. About a year before this occurred, a financial analyst got a meeting with the CFO of the organization as he wanted to forewarn them. The analyst saw the banks and finance companies selling mortgages to people who could “fog a mirror” as their only review. These mortgages were packaged together (called Collateralized Debt Obligations) and stamped as good risk and sold to investors by folks like Bear Stearns. The analyst told the CFO he had a model which showed Bear Stearns would go under as a result. The CFO thanked him and asked him to leave. The first fallacy was the CDOs being stamped as good risk as a lot of bad risk together does not make it good. The second fallacy is the Bear Stearns folks assumed the market would always go up, which is not a realistic assumption.

These stories may seem unrelated, but at the heart of them is to two underlying themes

– do your homework and be prepared

-if you know what you want and know the options, stand firm in your mission.

The Bear Stearns story is not an outlier as several entities either went under or had to merge during the Housing crisis. The movie called “The Big Short” based on Michael Lewis’ book and starring Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Steve Carell, et al, defines what happens when supposedly smart people don’t know what they are investing in. See link below to a summary of the movie.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Short_(film)

Be prepared when you ask questions you did not research

Be careful what you ask. “Jen Psaki Destroys Fox News ‘Gotcha’ Question About Georgia Voting Law” by David Hoye of the HuffPost.is an article worth reading. A link is below. Here are a few paragraphs that give you the gist.

Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy attempted to get White House press secretary Jen Psaki in a ‘gotcha’ question on Tuesday only to end up humiliated by a pesky little thing called ‘facts.’

It happened after Doocy brought up Major League Baseball’s decision to move its 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to Denver in response to Georgia’s new restrictive voting law, which limits the use of drop boxes for absentee ballots and imposes ID requirements on those who vote by mail, among other restrictions.

‘Is the White House concerned that Major League Baseball is moving their All-Star Game to Colorado, where voting regulations are very similar to Georgia?’ Doocy asked.

Doocy was aping a new conservative talking point that the new law in Georgia isn’t that restrictive compared to voting laws in Colorado, since both states require ID to vote, and the Peach State offers 17 days of in-person early voting compared to 15 days in the Centennial State.

‘First, let me say, on Colorado. Colorado allows you to register on Election Day, Colorado has voting by mail where they send, to 100% of people in the state who are eligible, applications to vote by mail,’ Psaki said, adding that 94% of Colorado citizens voted by mail in the 2020 election.

Colorado also accepts 16 forms of identification, compared to Georgia’s six.

Psaki also made another distinction between Georgia’s new voting law and the existing one in Colorado. 

‘The Georgia legislation is built on a lie. There was no widespread fraud in the 2020 election, Georgia’s top Republican election officials have acknowledged that repeatedly in interviews,” she said. ”And what there was, however, was record-setting turnout, especially by voters of color. So instead, what we’re seeing here, for politicians who didn’t like the outcome, they’re not changing their policies to win more votes, they’re changing the rules to exclude more voters. And we certainly see the circumstances as different.’

President Joe Biden has criticized the Georgia law and its impact on voters of color, calling it ‘Jim Crow in the 21st century.’

Psaki ended the question by pointing out that in a free society, ‘It’s up to Major League Baseball to determine where they’re holding their All-Star Game.

Doocy didn’t ask a follow-up question.”

Note, Doocy did not fare well last week either, when he raised the issue of not being called on by the President at a recent conference. He insinuated there was a “no call list.” This brief interchange put that to bed.

“Psaki replied: ‘We’re here having a conversation aren’t we? And don’t I take questions from you every time you come to the briefing room?’

‘Yes but,’ Doocy started.

She quickly interrupted him. ‘Hasn’t the president taken questions from you since he came into office? Yes or no?’

Doocy got defensive. ‘Only when I have shouted after he goes through his whole list and the president has been very generous with his time with Fox. I’m just curious about this list that he’s given.'”

In my simple view, if a reporter plans on asking a question, especially one that is designed to trip someone up or make them reveal something, it would behoove him or her to know the facts. Of course, it has never stopped the higher paid talk show hosts who do not let the truth get in the way of their narrative.

Jen Psaki Destroys Fox News ‘Gotcha’ Question About Georgia Voting Law | HuffPost

Turning the page on partisanship

This morning my newspaper printed a slight variation of the following letter I sent in. I thought I would include the entire letter, which is still brief. They eliminated references to my political standing and to the first press conference.

As an Independent and former Republican voter, I welcome the return to more normal governance where truth is not a victim and there is an active attempt toward unity. Yesterday’s press conference by Jen Psaki was refreshingly civil, welcoming and truthful.

I encourage Senators and Congresspersons to work together to get things done. Executive orders are not laws, so we need bipartisan action. For those calling for more partisanship and spouting untruths, that needs to stop.

Biden won because he committed to govern all Americans and try to unite us. He cannot do it alone. We must do our part. Absent that and we will continue to self-inflict mortal wounds on our country.

Please feel free to modify and use to suit.