Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Kevin McCarthy misspeaks - BIG time

                              THIS one...                ...not this one.

“Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?  But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today?  Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable.”  Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), responding to Sean Hannity about GOP wins in the House.

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Has so-called Republican leadership totally lost its moorings?  Rep. McCarthy - potential next Speaker of the House - answered a question that he should have totally aced with a spectacular insight.  The House can take a bow for bringing down Hillary Clinton's poll numbers.  He is getting pummeled for his "misspeak," including by the Rupert Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal!  YIKES & ZOWIE!

Asked by Sean Hannity on Fox News how he would be successful as House speaker in carrying out a conservative agenda, Mr. McCarthy pointed to the Select Committee on Benghazi, saying it had helped lower Mrs. Clinton’s approval ratings, and suggested that a similar approach might get the public behind a conservative push to defund Planned Parenthood.

“The question I think you really want to ask me is how am I going to be different?” Mr. McCarthy said. “What you’re going to see is a conservative speaker that takes  a conservative Congress that puts a strategy to fight and win.”

“And let me give you one example. Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened had we not fought to make that happen.”

Democrats said the remarks were proof of what they had suspected all along.

Perhaps Rep. McCarthy is so used to Fox News being a conservative echo chamber, he might have forgotten for a telling moment that it's the most watched channel & not everyone agrees with him.  We've seen that happen before with GOP leaders & wanna be's appearing on Fox.  They let the truth slip because they know they're in friendly ground.  

Rep. McCarthy's office can issue as many statements* as it wants "clarifying" his remarks, reinforcing that the Benghazi committee's weren't politically motivated, but his comment is not going away.  He sure can't slam Hannity for asking a "gotcha" question.  

Oh - and one other point of interest for Rep. McCarthy to ponder.  NO ONE has considered Hillary Rodham Clinton "unbeatable" since a certain junior senator from Illinois challenged her in 2008!

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* "The Select Committee on Benghazi has always been focused on getting the facts about the attacks on our diplomatic facilities in Libya that led to the death of four Americans,” said Matt Sparks, a spokesman for Mr. McCarthy. “This was the right thing to do and the Committee has worked judiciously and honestly.  As a result of that work, there are now numerous investigations being conducted – including the Federal Bureau of Investigation. These inquiries have nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the consequences of what the former Secretary has done and her confusing, conflicting, and demonstrably false responses.”

Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon called Mr. McCarthy’s comments “a damning display of honesty by the possible next speaker of the House.”

Rumor has it...

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 ... that Folks Who Matter, who hold the purse strings & stock the coffers, aren't wild about having a farm market associated with our local college.  Word on the street is they regard business majors as potent future contributors, while folks engaged in agriculture et al are doomed to a life of near (or below) poverty.  The buzz is they see the college - founded on strong spiritual principles - as earning an ever higher & higher student body through our sports programs & business-related degrees.

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As someone with many years experience in marketing & public relations for Prudential, I find those rumors hard to believe.  

I am 63 years old, ANC Class of 1970, Bryn Athyn College Class of 1975 - over all the years between my graduations & now, hardly a single person from the nearby communities, hearing from whence I hailed, had a kind word to say about our town & schools.  Now, since the high school & college gardens took center stage, so to speak, alongside the Pike, since Bryn Athyn Bounty debuted, I hear countless wonderful things from total strangers.  

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The Brickman Center is beautiful & draws a lot of admiring attention, but its the gardens & the farm market that people bring up to me.  Oh, and the sacred arts program.  They are the things that draw attention.  It's unlikely that savvy business folks would miss the importance of such key differentiators.  

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If anything, the school gardens & the May - mid-October farm market provide recruiters with cutting edge marketing tools.  Farm-to-table is a burgeoning meme - even with jocks.  It offers a unique marketing edge that beautifully balances sports.  

Potential students - and their parents - are looking for a great experience as well as a decent school.  The gardens & the farm market appeal to the heart.  

Is there any truth to the rumors flying around our little boro?  Just because they seem ludicrous doesn't mean there isn't any substance to the buzz.

What an incalculable loss that would be.  Yesterday, I took a grannie client to the Cheesecake Factory in Willow Grove for lunch.  A waitress who was NOT our server recognized me as The Cupcake Lady & took the time over a busy lunch hour to share her enthusiasm for Bryn Athyn Bounty Farm Market.  

That wholehearted response is typical of what I hear over & over in places that, like the Cheesecake Factory, have nothing to do with the college or even our community.  

It's hard to believe that the farm market is that much a drain on the college budget.  It has provided spectacular benefits in introducing our neighbors to the community & schools, parents who are visiting their kids are mighty impressed, and it provides a wonderful, MUCH needed gathering place for the local community.  

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While the coffee house gossip is the current college president isn't invested in close college/community ties, the absolute certainty of a public relations backlash to pulling the plug on the most popular event to ever sprout in our backyard should at least give him - and others - pause.

Hoping that the rumors are just that - meaningless tittle-tattle with no roots in reality.

In a reverse "interest of full disclosure" statement,  please note The Cupcake Lady will not be affected if this is B.A. Bounty Farm Market's last season.  John & I would rather be back at the usual stand next year, but we have options - we'd trek up to Wrightstown.   

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 The Cupcake Lady's 2016 farm market venue?  Hope not!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

What an insult to Pinocchio!

(read to strains of another Carly singing, Nobody Does It Better...)

So, I looked up the Washington Post article on Carly Fiorina's slam that WaPo had dissed her "secretary to ceo" story.  Far from dissing her, the article spotlights her accomplishments, from her undergrad days to her H-P leadership.  Yes, it gave her "3 Pinocchios" - for carefully cultivating a "Horatio Alger-type, up by her bootstraps fable.  

WaPo's responded with the criteria for their rating:
This column generated criticism from many readers who said that her statements were entirely factual, as she once was a secretary, and thus were not worthy of Three Pinocchios. John Sexton of Breitbart wrote a critique in which he said the column was “poorly reasoned.” Even our old colleague Howard Kurtz berated us. Fiorina herself said the column was “ludicrous” and “sort of floored me.” In determining the rating, we tried to be consistent with other cases when a politician would use words that, while on the face accurate, gave a misleading picture. A good example is the  Three Pinocchio rating we gave President Obama’s campaign in 2012 for a campaign video narrated by Tom Hanks, concerning his mother’s fight with an insurance company. That column also generated criticism, though mainly from Democrats. We strive for consistency in how we apply these ratings.  In this case, Fiorina’s career really began after she received her MBA, when she was hired as an AT&T sales representative. We did not, as Fiorina falsely claimed on “Meet the Press,” assert she was not a secretary.

Per her spokesperson, Isgur Flores disagreed that the claim inaccurately depicts Carly's actual career trajectory - "She was a secretary. Later, she became a CEO. I don’t think she’s ever claimed there was nothing in between.”

Nor does she.  Brilliant marketing maven that she is, she weaves a cloud of words around details that leaves an indelible image.  Going back to the WaPo article:
Fiorina’s description of rising “from secretary to CEO” conjures a Horatio Alger-like narrative where a character starts at the lowest ranks of an industry, pulls themselves up by their bootstraps and, against all odds, reaches the top position in the industry.

When Fiorina uses this phrase, she often pairs it with saying she came from a “modest and middle class family,” or “challenging the status quo,” which frames her story as an unlikely upstart. She also pitches it as an uniquely American experience.

But the description glosses over important details. 

The word cloud she conjures to given an unspoken yet clear image includes phrases like “modest & middle class family” (HA!) & how she was "challenging the status quo."   She depicts herself as a Great American Success Story - which she is, but the story she chooses to invoke has her rising from a lowly beginning to reach the heights of power prestige influence. 
FACT:  Her father's position as the Dean of Law at Duke hardly made the family anywhere near hardscrabble.

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FACT:  Duke University's Children's Tuition Grant would have paid a substantial amount of her Stanford tuition.

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FACT:  When her application to the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business was received after the cut-off time due to Italy's lousy mail system, she used her elite undergrad degree to get accepted.  (“So, can a liberal arts student from Stanford compete with the analytical jocks you have around here?”

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FACT: A mentor at AT&T - where she did start her actual career - recommended her for a one-year, company-sponsored mid-career management fellowship at the prestigious Sloan School of Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

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FACT:  Through that fellowship, she earned a second master’s degree in business administration & was placed on a AT&T's senior management track

Many politicians (including some very experienced ones) often fall victim to "word salad," saying a lot of stuff that leaves your brain tossed around.  Not Carly.  She knows just how to conjure up word clouds which leave the listener hearing what was never actually said.

She got upset at WaPo giving her 3 Pinocchios?  Her "secretary to ceo" meme richly deserves so many more!