Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Don't take it personally....

Sally Yates has been fired.  It shouldn't have been a surprise to her, and I don't think it was.  She was a short-timer... someone from the Obama administration who was merely a placeholder, while Trump's appointee is confirmed (or not). Even had she kept her mouth shut, and even if Sessions is not confirmed, no person in their right mind would expect her to retain her position once someone new is confirmed. This is nothing new or unusual.  It is common for a new President to clean house. Ms. Yates took the opportunity to go out with some fanfare, rather than quietly step down.  And there's nothing wrong with that.  In fact, there's nothing new about an attorney general refusing to support certain action.  The ban on gay marriage is an instance that immediately comes to mind, but it's far from the only example. As an attorney, I'm not required to follow my client's instructions if I feel they are unethical... and that rule goes all the way up to the top.

But there's a problem with how the firing was done. Let's ignore the timing, let's ignore the jokes about 'You're Fired', let's ignore some of the angry and inaccurate comments that people are making about Ms. Yates.

Instead, let's look at the official White House Statement:

Had I been consulted, I would have suggested something like.. "The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has been relieved of her duties.  Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia has been named to serve as acting Attorney General to serve in her place."  That statement would have been accurate, and professional.. and would have given Trump critics very little to criticize.  When Ms. Yates announced her position on the immigration Executive Order, she had to have known that she would be removed; it would be foolish for anyone to expect anything different.

But instead of something clean and professional, we have this childish, tantrum-sounding, name-calling statement.

Betrayed?  Gee, Trump administration... don't you think that's just a teeny tiny bit overreaching?
Weak on borders and illegal immigration?  Yeah, right...  as if that's why you removed her.. and where's your foundation for that statement?  Sounds like slander, to me.
Wrongfully held up confirmation?  For strictly political reasons?  Oh come on, quit being a baby. Where were you for the past 8 years?  Or for that matter, where have you been on numerous occasions when there's been a change in the President, and Congress hasn't been onboard?
And, I'm sorry, Mr. Boente, but somehow your kowtowing statement doesn't make me feel protected.. it looks to me like the main thing being protected is your job.

And then it hit me.  THIS is the problem...Trump, the experienced businessman, is taking all of this PERSONALLY.

I can disagree with my mother  (sorry mom!) and argue with my siblings, and when I'm in court I take a position contrary to that taken by the other side's attorney.. but at the end of the day, I love mom, I love my siblings, and I share pleasantries.. and even lunch.. with opposing counsel when court is over.
We're getting knee-jerk reactions (and tweets, of course) from President Trump.. because we're hurting his feelings.

President Trump --   debate, and discussion and opposing views... this is all a part of how this country is run. We are not your employees. We are allowed to disagree with you. And if you would quit taking things personally... if you would quit reacting because somebody hurt your feelings... who knows -- maybe you could be a decent President.
No, I didn't vote for you. But there have been many elected officials over the years who did not get my vote.  I can move on. And you need to, as well.

And hey.... have a cup of tea.. it might make you feel better.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Bottle caps, Wisdom, and Incorrect Facts

I imagine everyone has seen the television commercials for Snapple beverages, proclaiming "made from the best stuff on earth".  I like Snapple, I find their beverages very refreshing. But I have to admit that part of what attracts me to Snapple is their bottle caps.  Yes, they do make a cute little 'pop' when you open them for the first time. And after that, they close very tight. (Yes, I'm sitting at my computer.  Yes, I'm prone to spills.) And frankly, they're easier to open than the eco-conscious thin plastic caps on water bottles.

But what I really like is the "Real Fact" that appears inside each bottle cap. I often save the caps, and on more than one occasion, a Snapple Fact has led to a blog post. Sitting on my desk right now are caps informing me that the planet Saturn would float if placed in water, at one time brandy was used inside thermometers, and penguins have an extra organ above their eyes that converts saltwater to freshwater.
Today, my bottle cap said "Three out of every six Americans....."  And that was as far as I got.

Three out of every six?  Isn't that the same as one-half?  or seven out of fourteen?  

What on earth would make you say three out of every six?  Previously, when I'd written a blog post on an idea that was triggered by a bottle cap, I had never come across anything contrary to what was on the cap.  And while 'three out of every six' isn't wrong, per se, it's not quite right.

So I googled Snapple, and worked my way over to the Wikipedia site.Where I discovered that there's actually a list of Incorrect Facts  (not to be confused with alternative facts... oh wait..maybe they ARE the same.... but that's another post for another day).  The Wiki section labeled Incorrect Facts goes on to say Several of the facts on Snapple caps have been found to be outdated, incorrect or exaggerated.

Hmmm.  Outdated?  Well I don't really have a problem with that... the world is changing so fast, and I certainly don't expect the Snapple people to keep track of which bottles have which factoid so they can do a recall if something changes.  The Wiki post lists twenty-five things that Snapple didn't get quite right. Some of these, you really can't blame Snapple for.  For instance, fact #975 says that the letter J is the only letter missing from the periodic table of elements.  In 2012, the only element with a Q in its name was renamed to something without a Q.  So now, both J and Q are missing.  So outdated, I understand.  

But exaggerated facts cause me a bit of concern, and incorrect facts cause a lot of concern. After all, I've been relying on these bottle caps, I've been assuming that they're correct.  Now, of course, I have never spouted cap facts willy nilly, without doing additional research, but still.....

On the other hand, when I've done additional research, I've never had an issue with any of the facts on the Snapple bottle caps.  And even this time... it wasn't that I was challenging the information on my cap as being wrong... it was that I didn't know why the cap said 'three out of six', when the standard way to express this would have been 'one-half'.

By the way, in case you're curious, the rest of the factoid on the bottle cap was "...live within fifty miles of where they were born".  So I decided to check this out.. to see if this was one of the accurate, outdated, exaggerated, or incorrect facts. According to a New York Times article dated December 15, 2015,  the majority of Americans live within 18 miles of their mother.  Hmmmm, that's not quite the same as the place they were born... and the article says 18 miles, not 50 miles.. but all in all, I'm going to let this one go.  Except I still don't understand the '3 out of every 6'.

I guess all of this goes to show you that you can't really rely on anything, can you?  It's up to you to check the accuracy, and consider any discrepancies.  And while some 'facts' may be subject to interpretation, others are not.  So if I said that there are so many facts on Snapple caps that you never see the same one twice, that's probably an exaggeration.  And if I said there are only 257 different facts, that's outdated information. But if I said that in January, 2017, there are 4,159 different 'Real Facts' on the Snapple bottle caps, that is absolutely wrong.  It's not an alternate fact, it's an incorrect fact -- which isn't a fact at all.

In case you wondered, the Snapple flavor that I like best, is the diet lemon tea... but you probably already guessed that.  And now, I'll go make a cup of typhoo tea, as all this tea talk has me thirsty.