Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hell no, he won't go!

Forgive the expletive, but I am fast running out of patience with that renegade faux Governor of Illinois. He is like an out-of-control three year old or teenager - take your pick. He is on restriction and cannot seem to comprehend the fact that there are limitations placed on one when one breaks certain rules. In other words, his actions would lead one to believe that rules are made to be broken, or that they simply do not apply to him.

Many in the great state of Illinois, including our President-Elect Obama, have called on him to do the right thing for the people of that state and resign or step down.

Recently he spoke of a list of some 25 accomplishments he had achieved whilst in office and indicated that the public should judge him based on that.

There is a slim chance that the FBI charges against him will be dropped and that he will be vindicated, but that is highly unlikely, given all that we know of the situation thus far.

He should perhaps look at my own former Governor Spitzer who recognized immediately what needed to be done once he had compromised the ethics of his office and thus his constituents.

To compound the issue, Blagojevich yesterday named Obama's successsor to the senate - I have nothing against this man. Indeed, from all news accounts, he seems to be a worthy successor. That is not the issue. This Governor has lost the right to make decisions on behalf of the people of Illinois and should cease and desist immediately!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Murders by black teenagers rise - NY Times

The celebrated reduction in murder rates nationally has concealed a “worrisome divergence,” said James Alan Fox, a criminal justice professor at Northeastern University who wrote the report, to be released Monday, with Marc L. Swatt. And there are signs, they said, that the racial gap will grow without countermeasures like restoring police officers in the streets and creating social programs for poor youths.
The main racial difference involves juveniles ages 14 to 17. In 2000, 539 white and 851 black juveniles committed murder, according to an analysis of federal data by the authors. In 2007, the number for whites, 547, had barely changed, while that for blacks was 1,142, up 34 percent.
The increase coincided with a rise in the number of murders involving guns, Dr. Fox said. The number of young blacks who were victims of murder also rose in this period.
Murder rates around the country are far below the record highs of the late 1980s and early 1990s, when a crack epidemic spawned violent turf battles.
“Regrettably, as the nation celebrated the successful fight against violent crime in the 1990s, we grew complacent and eased up on our crime-fighting efforts,” the authors said.
The report primarily blames cutbacks in federal support for community policing and juvenile crime prevention, reduced support for after-school and other social programs, and a weakening of gun laws. Cuts in these areas have been felt most deeply in poor, black urban areas, helping to explain the growing racial disparity in violent crime, Dr. Fox said.

The preceding is a story I found in the NY Times this morning. The report will be released later today.

I am concerned by this report on many levels. I am the mother of 4 sons who are half black and half white. I don't anticipate that any of them will become a murderer, but am alarmed at the statistics cited in this report. We should all be. We are failing our children. Kids need after school programs - those in the age range of 14-17 are at the highest risk for this black-on-black crime of murders committed by these youth. The sad thing about this study (and there is much to be sad about - please read the entire article if you have time - here is the link: is that our youths have been consistently ignored, and black families continue to experience a disproportionate breakdown in already fractured families. Indeed, our President Elect Obama's community outreach work on Chicago's south side was primarily with African American youths in that demographic who would have been on the path to nowhere without his programs and intervention. I was most proud of him when he called on absent African American fathers to become more involved in the lives of their children. Absent this, we as a society need to fill the void that is created when African American males become separated from their fathers, for incarceration, divorce, lack of marriage or any other reasons.

We need a comprehensive program to address the unique needs of our African American males. They are growing up without fathers - fathers who are absent, in prison or both. This cannot stand and were the statistics the same amongst the Caucasian community, I dare assert that we would be convening special sessions all over the country in caucases, congress, neighborhood meetings and the like. They need to see African American teachers en masse in school districts, and not just at the upper levels, they need a teacher a day to see a positive male role model. Where are they going to learn how to be a man if they are never around one? My children are fortunate in that they have had a father by birth and many surrogate fathers who have helped them along their way so that for the most part, they have avoided the pitfalls that might have tripped them up in their respective life's journeys.

It truly takes a village to raise a child, and if these children are not going to attend after school programs or Boys and Girls' Clubs, then employment training opportunities need to be afforded them so that they can get off the streets and become positive, contributing members of society.

Gaza uprising

I am heartsick over recent events in Gaza. The fragile Egyptian-brokered ceasefire ended on December 19th officially, though according to news reports, things had been escalating with Hamas and Israelis long before that.

There are at last count some 300 dead and over 600 wounded according to news reports. The UN Security Council has condemned the airstrikes and attacks and has called for a ceasefire - others are following suit. The UN has declared humanitarian efforts a disaster. What a sad thing to have to admit.

I watched the first CNN news report covering the story on the plane into JFK on the way home from Chicago. I was struck by the gruesomeness of the footage. Surely it is not necessary to show bodies oozing blood as they lay dead in the streets. We have all witnessed enough carnage in recent years to last a lifetime. Do we really need to glorify death?

The children and innocent victims are in my thoughts and prayers. Accordingly to Israeli spokespersons, Hamas was warned of airstrikes beforehand and all not affliated with them were told to evacuate. This is not good enough. If they had time enough to warn, could they not have sat down to broker another peace agreement together? This time, one that both sides could uphold?

I realize that my knowledge of this conflict is cursory at best, but I have been watching and reading the news reports on same for decades and I am getting weary of it, really weary.

Madame Secretary Clinton has her work cut out for her. Who knows, perhaps Bill will come in handy after all.

My first ever Amtrak train ride

This Christmas was surely a test of patience. I was stuck at JFK overnight, after being bumped off a crowded flight. When I finally made it to Chicago, I had to wait a day before I could get to Kalamazoo, Michigan, my final destination. It seemed I had not only picked the busiest time of year to travel, but the worst blizzard in recent years. The temperatures were frigid in Chicago. I walked from the EL stop at Clinton Street and braced myself against the 1 degree weather, wind chill not included. I made it to Union Station to find that buses were not running and that trains were full. If Chicago is serious about winning the bid for the 2012 Winter Olympics, they had better get themselves in shape a la Salt Lake City, Utah.

I digress. On my return trip, as fate would have it, another storm brewed and dumped ice and more snow on the ground, precluding a nice leisurely two hour car ride with my dear son, Tye and to the O'Hare Airport. We slipped and slid in his car to the Amtrak station where I purchased my ticket for the train that had been delayed some 30 minutes due to the ice storm.

I settled in with my coffee and breakfast sandwich and expected to see smiling faces, a la Metro North that I so love here in NY. It was, alas, not to be. I can clearly see why Amtrak is subsidized by the government - it is to make sure that the employees act as though they were recently released from prison and have forgotten all social graces. The uniforms were not crisp and neat as those of my Metro North conductors. In fact, a makeover is long overdue.

When I finally made it to Chicago, I exited the train and slipped down the stairs - an annoyed Amtrak worker asked me in an obligatory tone whether I was alright - how that could be the case, given that I had just slipped down a flight of stairs, I don't quite know. I graciously said I would be fine and went on my way.

I doubt seriously whether I will take another Amtrak train ride - the company was good, thank goodness and I met some really nice people, but the train was old and in need of a makeover and the conductors need some lessons in decorum.

It is now clear to me why they are losing revenue and operating in the red in recent years.

I took a trip into NYC last evening - I rode my beloved Metro North - friendly well-dressed conductors, clean train and life is good again.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A few thoughts on our abyssmal education system and what needs to happen

I just read that the Yonkers superintendent of schools makes some $261,954 annually in his compensation package. Why do we need these individuals? Can't school boards do an adequate job of supervising schools? If we multiplied this two hundred plus thousand dollars a year by all school districts across the state, we could put that money to use in classrooms, not in the pork belly that is administration.

I would like to see male teachers, or those desiring to teach - be offered the benefit of having their education paid for if they teach in an inner city school for 5 years post graduation. This would ensure that we have some of the brightest and most dedicated students coming to the program and also provide our unmentored youth the opportunity to have a male role model in their lives on a regular basis, particularly in these days of rising divorce and single parent statistics.

As a mother raising 3 sons alone after a divorce, I was so very grateful to teachers, male and female who mentored my 2 sons (one was not as lucky and slipped right through the cracks to the bottom rung of the ladder, which subsequently broke and did not catch him when he fell). I was appreciative of late night phone calls to advise me of missing assignments and other pertinent information.

I have spent years volunteering in public schools and taught in a private school for a season. What I learned is that there is a tremendous amount of waste that takes place in the office of administration/superintendent. The salaries are about 5 times what a teacher makes, granted, years of experience and in some cases, a PhD are required to be a superintendent, but when schools are struggling and classes are too large, teachers overworked and underpaid, we need to revisit the structure, do we not?

I had the fortune of attending a private girls school in London, England - I was then moved to a public school. I recognized immediately the difference and even had the audacity to go to the principal to voice my concerns over what the problems were that appeared to be limiting learning for students.

What I learned in Europe is that 6 weeks' vacation in the summer is just the right amount of time off. A few weeks interspersed for spring break and fall break provided the balance for the remainder of the year. The long breaks in the American school system are no longer in line with how we live our lives - the American farmer is all but obsolete with no need for children to be home an entire season to help with planting and harvesting of crops. What I subsequently learned as a volunteer and then educator in American schools is that students spend from September to December catching up on what they "forgot" or unlearned over summer vacation. This is not acceptable and as long as we refuse to address this inequity, we will never be able to compete with our scholastic counterparts in other parts of the world.

American schools clearly need an overhaul - I look to the Obama administration to correct this imbalance.

Closure finally comes to the family of Adam Walsh

Several years ago while living in Michigan, I had the great fortune of attending a taping of the Oprah Winfrey show in Chicago.

It was an amazing experience - the crowd, mostly women - was lined up all around Harpo studios hoping to catch a glimpse of whomever had been taped before our scheduled guest.

In those days, you just went to a show, hoped to get a decent seat and knew nothing of the fabulous "my favorite things" show that everyone tried to get tickets for.

Word spread through the crowd that Barbara Walters had been taped for the show previous to ours. The crowd was buzzing about who we might get to meet.

I was taken by the extremely handsome, bright, articulate and saddened John Walsh. His son, Adam taken from him so cruelly some years before. He wore a black turtle neck and gray sport coat - he looked distinguished, but oh so sad as he spoke of his devastating loss.

I believe that God has a way of making our challenges become strengths - think of how many criminals are out of business as a result of "America's Most Wanted." John Walsh would never have conceived of such a show had his life not been touched by such horrific violence. I am thankful that John and his wife can finally put this chapter to rest and move on with their lives, knowing that the person responsible for this and other heinous crimes, indeed, a serial killer, is dead and gone and that their sweet Adam is in heaven.

Who are those haters anyway? Gay rights is a human rights issue

I have long maintained that gay marriage is a civil rights issue. It is as important a civil rights issue as women's suffrage or the civil rights movement. Had men not stood up with women to have the vote, they would still be deemed property and not have the right to vote. Had whites not stood up with blacks, they would still not have the right to vote.

I often hear people speak of gays and pedophiles in the same light. One is an abhorrent, hurtful and deviant lifestyle, and the other is a sexual orientation. We cannot and should not lump them together.

Why can't we have more men teaching preschool? Why doesn't the government pay for all men who want to teach school to complete their undergraduate work and graduate work so that for all those young men and women growing up in fatherless homes, they have a role model in the classroom, on a daily basis. How serious are we about education reform really?

I digress. We often hear of parents expressing dismay over male preschool and Sunday school teachers. Why the outrage? They are convinced that these men will molest their children. Statistically speaking, most pedophiles (some 65%) are self proclaimed heterosexuals.

Some years ago, one of my sons was manhandled quite violently at a church-sponsored Boy Scout camp. I was chagrined and horrified when he explained to me what had transpired: he had been sleeping in a tent with a kid who threw up and he and the other tentmates wandered around, trying to find a clean place to crash. As fate would have it, they ended up in the tent of a boy whose dad was one of the counselors at camp.

When he saw the boys up and about, he flew into a rage, slamming my son into a tent wall, ripping his shirt and sending his friend into the fire, still glowing with embers. My son never went back to scouts after that - he was so close to getting his Eagle Scout - I talked to the local police and they assured me that this man was a decent man and attended church services regularly and pretty much talked me out of pressing charges.

My point is that I would much rather have my sons be with good, decent, well rounded men, straight or gay, than with scary overbearing men with anger and rage issues, straight or gay.

Does Caroline Kennedy have "fire in her belly" and does it matter?

According to a Fox News report: "Some have questioned whether she (Ms. Kennedy)would bring more than name recognition to the job.
U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman recently compared Kennedy's appeal to that of singer and actress Jennifer Lopez.
"I don't know what Caroline Kennedy's qualifications are except that she has name recognition, but so does J. Lo," he said. "I wouldn't make J. Lo the senator unless she proved she had great qualifications, but we haven't seen them yet."

Caroline Kennedy certainly has name recognition - it is not just that - she comes from a political dynasty, Bobby, John Jr. and Ted - she has her mother's style and grace and wit and is a formidable woman in her own right.

Some years ago Howard Dean's cousin, Peter Corroon was running for the seat of Salt Lake County Mayor in Utah. He was a political novice in many ways - I was one of his inner circle, working long hours on his campaign. Some questioned his lack of "fire in his belly" - at a campaign speech, he addressed those dissenters and told them passionately that he has a fire and that it is in his heart. Caroline Kennedy might not have the New York political connections, but she has her own brand of fire and politics - she will champion the causes that she has championed as a private attorney and citizen for decades, including children's issues and education.

To equate her with someone like a pop singer does a disservice to women everywhere - I am quite sure that such a comment would not have been made had a man decided to throw his hat into that ring, someone with name recognition.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

On breaks, Obama will return to city streets

This is the headline of a recent AOL news story. It should not come as a surprise that this down-to-earth President-Elect is going to remain in touch with his roots. Chicago became his home after finishing school on the east coast. Yes, his mansion is 1.6 million dollars, but it is hardly a ranch in Crawford, Texas, a seaside villa in Kennebunkport, Maine or even a governor's mansion in Arkansas.

The Obamas will continue to be what we have come to love about them - in touch with regular people, their wealth notwithstanding - after all, they barely paid off their student loans a few years ago (that was surely before the rousingly successful books penned by then Senator Obama - Dreams from my Father and The Audacity of Hope).

Here is the link to the story - it is worth reading.

God bless the Obamas and may they continue to keep in touch and keep it real.

Obama's new education secretary

Okay, okay - so I didn't get my wish: I really wanted Colin Powell to return to an administrative/cabinet position but it was not to be.

Obama has just appointed Arne Duncan to this coveted post.

According to news reports: "The incoming Education Secretary is a 44-year-old Harvard graduate and basketball player, who once played professionally in Australia. He has a track record of raising student performance in the tough environment of Chicago schools and is an advocate of higher pay for teachers, as well as pushing them harder."

Mr Obama declared that failing to improve classroom instruction is "morally unacceptable for our children". Mr Duncan said education was "the civil rights issue of our generation".

As my regular readers and friends know, education, or the reform thereof is something with which I concern myself greatly. All parents should be concerned with the abyssmal state of education in our great country. It is simply not acceptable that the standards of achievement in inner city and poor school districts continue to drop, except in the cases of exceptional leadership with great superintendents and principals, not to mention in tune teachers.

Our children deserve more, to coin a phrase used by the Utah Education Association. Let's pray that they finally get it, regardless of the size of their household income.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What's in a name?

Barack Hussein Obama is our new President Elect's given name.

For years, he struggled with his identity and even called himself Barry for years after his father gave him the moniker. Once he reconciled himself to his heritage, he took the name Barack and used it with pride. It happened in California whilst at Occidental University - you have to read "Dreams from my father" to know the story. When he finally arrived at Columbia University in NYC, he was no longer known as "Barry", but "Barack".

We all have nicknames, given names, pet names, names that we conjure up because we don't particularly care for the names our parents gave us.

There has been some mumbling about Obama's middle name and the fact that he - gasp! - plans to use it for the inauguration ceremony in January. Presidents have always used their full names - Barack's middle name comes from his grandfather. Barack is proud of his heritage and we should be proud that for once, we don't have to check a box and figure out his parentage, ethnicity or heritage - he wears it on his sleeve, proudly for us all to see.

One in ten families who own a home are now in some form of distress

This tagline is according to a statement by President Elect Obama.

According to CNN -- President-elect Barack Obama has chosen Shaun Donovan, New York City's former housing commissioner, to be his secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Trained as an architect and with experience as the New York City commissioner of housing preservation and development, he brings with him a unique blend of hands-on experience. He also worked at HUD under the Clinton administration.

The players are almost all assembled. The Obama team just gets better and better. I am personally anxiously awaiting the choice for Education Secretary - Colin Powell or Caroline Kennedy are my picks.

I pray for relief for homeowners - that the Obama team will figure out a way to assist them in their plight and save them from the perils of foreclosure. I also pray for the Obama's that they will find a place to transition so that their beautiful girls, Sasha and Malia are able to start school on time with their new friends - transition is so very difficult for children - surely someone can come up with a solution that is agreeable and workable for all?

Obama's homeland chief to tackle disaster housing

I was excited to see this story on AOL news today.

After the Katrina fiasco, we have learned not to expect the government to be there for us with FEMA assistance in a disaster. We can, however rely on such organizations as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, American Red Cross, United Way and others to see to it that food and other needed items are on the ground within hours of a disaster striking. Indeed, the American Red Cross and LDS Church both endorse the idea of a 72 hour emergency needs kit. It will take an average of 72 hours for help to arrive in the event of a disaster, hence the kit. The kit should contain life-saving medications, prescription and not, food, clothing, water, if possible and other items that one might need.

Obama's foresight is amazing - Janet Napolitano is a remarkable woman. I watched her career blossom whilst working in the Salt Lake City Mayor's office - she was a westerner as was I. Both formidable women, working in high-powered careers - okay, hers was a tad more high-profile than mine, but you get the point.....

Obama has picked in Napolitano, a woman who is driven, sees needs, meets them and has an amazing resume to prove that she is more than capable of seeing that the American public can again rely on their government in times of crisis - whether foreign or domestic.

God bless Obama and his almost complete administration team.

Why the automakers should succeed in their efforts, but need to learn something first

I have been mulling over the vote on this for about 24 hours. Still not entirely surprised at the outcome.

All congress is asking for is that the UAW members take a pay cut for 2 years until things are stable with The Big Three again. A small sacrifice to make given the alternative. I recognize that earning $70+ an hour versus $40 an hour will be difficult, but if they don't accept the deal, they will find themselves unemployed and when they finally find jobs - the line workers, that is - they will be earning more like $10-$15 an hour if they are lucky. They are skilled workers and deserve to be compensated, but during this trying financial time, it would behoove them to swallow their pride, perhaps take on a second job, as are many in the country in our present circumstance and just do what congress is asking - it is surely not an unreasonable request.

Americans are tightening their belts and living within their means for the first time in decades. We are sacrificing, working part time, underemployed, working below our skillsets and abilities, foregoing bonuses, from the smallest to the largest dollars amounts - all for the greater good - taking care of ourselves and our families. We can do this if we work together. Sure, it won't be easy, but look at Rose the Riveter "We can do it."

I wonder what Mitt Romney and Lee Iacocca are thinking about this debacle.

Any ideas out there?

The true meaning of Christmas - lost forever, perhaps - please tell me I am wrong

The commercials and movies are in full swing - have been since last month, before the turkey had even been purchased, much less digested.

We are in a deep recession - one of the gravest in many years. One would not know this were one to judge from the commercials for new Lexus SUV's, diamonds, toys, toys, toys, clothes and more, more, more. Buy now and pay later. I say buy Local First - keep the tax dollars in the community and support a locally owned business - they do give back more than the average big box retailer and if you buy a gift certificate this year from a local merchant, they will be around next year for it to be redeemed, unlike many big box stores - please bear that in mind as you shop this season.

This is a time of year where there should be perpetual hope. A love of God and all mankind. A belief again in angels and the miracle of the Christ child.

I am a believer in angels, the Christ child, miracles, Christmas movies, choirs, the Tree at Rockefeller Center, storefronts decorated with dazzling displays. This year is no different for me. I am maintaining my perspective. I am downsizing my giving for my immediate family - that means holiday cards with memories for my sons, instead of the usual money, gift certificate or clothes.

It is a miracle that I am going to spend Christmas with two of my four sons at all - a dear friend has given me a buddy pass to fly standby so I will have a glorious week spending time with my 11 year old whom I have not seen for over 2 years with all the changes in my life.

It will be wonderful to remind him of the family traditions - baking cookies for neighbors and friends, going to midnight mass, atttending worship services at the local Mormon church (he is Mormon and I am not) - remembering to be thankful, perhaps finding a group where we can volunteer time and deliver meals or serve meals to homeless and/or shut-ins as his brothers have done in years past.

I am cultivating an attitude of gratitude. Less is certainly more.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A tale of two men - or African American men growing up without fathers

They both travel heavy and with the Greyhound bus. One has a fear of flying since 9-11 and he thought his aunt and grandmother had been lost in the terrorist attacks. The other is a student in the Carolinas and is coming to Peekskill NY for Christmas. Both young men travel with a ton of clothes, shoes, belts, jeans and those hats with the darn gold stickers on them even months after purchase - another clothing phenomenon that is lost on me.

They are both African American men - one is brown - a black mother and Caucasian father and the other is black - both were raised by single parents - mostly their mothers. The college student is a sophomore and is planning to teach math. I told him to be good to his mom and to never forget the sacrifices she has made so that he can be in college.

The other sits in a state prison - the divorce and subsequent fallout too much for him. He had been an average student. He was shy, skinny and played football and baseball. He was a boy scout and loved to clown around for family and friends.

After the divorce, he lost his way - it was just too much to bear - he started hanging out with the wrong crowd - some gangsters, others peripheral gangsters. His mother put him in an alternative high school and worked with some programs to get him back on track, even reported him to the police when a valuable item was missing from the family home - a police sergeant told the mother she was overreacting - there was no real punishment for a kid who had never before been in any real trouble and she should not expect a judge to take it seriously. Would that she had that choice to make over again - she would have insisted on peer court, a real court, intervention of ANY kind.

There are far too many of our young men incarcerated for minor and major offenses. We cannot continue to lock up generations of men and expect there to be no ramifications for families and society. Would that this young man were in school studying, instead of getting his GED in a locked facility.

Choose wisely, my friends. There but for the grace of God go many of us........

The bailout that wasn't

I do not find myself altogether surprised at the vote on this last evening.

Republicans have thumbed their noses at President Bush, probably for the last time, in voting against the bailout.

There are 3 words that are the supposed sticking point - it has to do with wages. UAW wages are higher than those of other auto workers - for those of you who read my post earlier this month, you will recall that the hourly wage difference is about $30 when factoring in health insurance costs. According to news reports, The Big Three are now talking with bankruptcy attorneys. Frankly, I still believe that this is the best route to completely restructure the companies. According to a CBS news report this morning, "Despite Coming Within "About 3 Words" Of A Deal, Republicans Block $14B Package Over UAW Refusal To Accept Pay Cuts"

This is a failure of management of colossal proportions - the UAW is to blame - for essentially creating a welfare culture amongst its members. They expect exhorbitant wages for a product that is neither particularly desired by many Americans, nor is it particularly affordable, and of utmost consideration - not gas friendly.

I was most interested to listen to the mayor of Lansing, Michigan, mayor Virg Bernero. - Lansing is the home of some 6,000 auto workers. He was interviewed in the same news program that I referenced earlier about the three words - he thinks that congress should be forced to take a paycut and work based on merit.....shouldn't we all work and be paid based on merit? He is furious that the bailout has not passed and thinks that Wall Street and Congress are to blame - what a ridiculous assertation - The honorable mayor is in Washington and stumping on national news shows to advocate for his city - I appreciate his efforts on behalf of those who elected him - that is after all his job, but I think he is misguided. I don't feel sorry for the UAW or The Big Three - they have brought this misery on themselves and now it is time for them to get serious about how they do business, much like many other companies around the country and the world are doing lately.

In other words - It's NOT the economy, stupid.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Chicago workers end window plant sit-in

Thank God - the conscientious objectors have been vindicated in their efforts to achieve an equitable separation from their company. Workers will receive vacation pay, 2 months of health insurance and accrued sick leave - their sit-in has ended and rightfully so!

They stood up for themselves, went against an overbearing company that tried to circumvent federal laws granting them certain rights, such as 60 days' notice of the plants closing.

I love a happy ending.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Road Home - A family shelter

For over 5 years, whilst living and working in Salt Lake City, Utah, I spent my Sunday afternoons volunteering in the computer lab at The Road Home - a family shelter. It is a homeless shelter that provides shelter to the homeless families affected by the one paycheck syndrome - that is the syndrome that means that a large percentage of the population are one or two paychecks away from being homeless.

Volunteering at the shelter was rewarding, humbling and an eye-opening experience. I learned much about people, how to treat them, how not to judge them and how to help them.

The Executive Director became a friend to me, as did many of the staff, as I volunteered over the holidays, taking food to shut-ins, serving meals to homeless, serving as a table captain at the annual fundraiser etc. The shelter director is a soft spoken man by the name of Matt Minkevitch. I first met him when following up on a complaint from an individual who called the mayor's office where I was a constituent liaison, to allege that he had been mistreated. A quick phone call to Matt and a personal guided tour was promptly arranged, along with attendance at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for affordable housing units located in close proximity to the shelter. I immediately carved out time in my schedule to volunteer weekly and grew to love this place - The Road Home.

I have been handing out money to homeless individuals for as long as I can remember - dating back to 25 years ago when living in Frankfurt Germany. Sometimes, I would purchase a meal, other times I would hand over cash. Matt would remind me of the folly of my ways - knowing that it is not the best solution for a homeless person, but I would always feel guilty about being able to afford a $50 dinner tab and not give a homeless person $5 for a meal or a bottle of beer - I never worried about where the money was going - I operate on a different level - there but for the grace of God go I - maybe it is because I read a sermon given by a man by the name of King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon - an LDS book of scripture - this king allegedly lived in the Americas and was holding a mass meeting for his religious followers. He spoke of the homeless, downtrodden and the less fortunate - he said that our job was not to judge, nor to say that we would stay our hand because people had brought the misery of (homelessness) upon themselves - rather we were to give because - and I paraphrase - there but for the grace of God go I.

I have recently met two homeless women - between jobs, one living out of her car, the other living in a motel room - both trying desperately to find a place to land - a home - something of their own. They are not included in the homeless statistics as they are flying below the proverbial radar.

Please find time to donate to a charity or church of your choice this season, indeed, throughout the year - there is always a need - if you do not have money, donate time or goods. Trust me, you will be blessed for it.

The great auto bailout - Car Czar included

According to news reports this evening, the bailout is almost final - it will go to the Senate for a vote tomorrow.

I am frankly disappointed in this outcome. I had really hoped that the big 3 would have to do what other companies are forced to do during times of financial trial - file for chapter 11 reorganization. That would require restructuring of monies, staffers, and the like.

The one good thing about this bailout is that a car czar is to be appointed to review progress of the spending etc. every 45 days. That was at least the word last week - I hope it will be the case in the final analysis. While these extortionists, AKA the heads of the big 3 - had asked for over $40 billion, they will have to "make do" with a paltry $15 billion. If we could give a stimulus check to every unemployed and underemployed person out there, we could stimulate the economy, homeless shelters would not be filling up and our country would be better off. I hope and pray that the monies will be used wisely.

I reiterate my point from last week's blog on same issue: the Smart Car sales are not suffering - they are up some 40%. Prices range from $11,600 for a basic car (sans radio and A/C) and deluxe about $16,000.

Let's try to reduce our carbon footprints - the time for the US to drive gas guzzling huge vehicles has long since passed. Let us try to be responsible stewards of our earth.

Unrighteous dominion and the Governor of Illinois

What a sad day for the state that gave us our 44th President.

I was not able to track the news yesterday as I had a busy day and heard from a friend that the esteemed, or not so esteemed Governor had tried to "sell" the seat vacated by President Elect Obama.

My Mormon friends and readers will recognize the tagline of this post, but for those of you who do not, allow me to elaborate: "We have learned by sad experience, that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon get a little authority as they suppose, that they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion."

In this case, the unrighteous dominion was not perhaps so immediate, the election took place last month, after all, but since the quote is from a scripture, I think that I can speculate that "immediate" means in a relatively sort time.

Men and women in power fall in many categories. Above all, I have learned by my own experience that people in general will only do what one allows them to do - that is, if they think they can get away with doing it - good or bad, by golly, they will.

President Elect Obama has called for the resignation of the Governor as well he should. He should be impeached.

This should not stand and we as a people need to demand better from our elected officials.

Missing friends....

I am so very thankful for "free" long distance - that is, long distance that is one flat fee, all bundled together - in my case, I traded Cricket - not available where I live currently - for Sprint - the simply everything plan - I love texting my kids, checking email, calling friends all over the country.

I spoke today with Gayle - she lives in Utah - our second call in as many days - my heart still belongs there, I miss my former home of some 7 years. Gayle is the first friend I met in Utah and one of the last I saw on my visit there last spring.

Today we spoke of missing each other, as we often do - Gayle and I are in sync - not sure why or how, but we are - like sisters. She is over 30 years older and one of my closest and dearest friends - I am blessed with many close and dear friends. Gayle is a woman ahead of her time - working when a woman was "supposed" to stay home. Forming clubs for other Navy wives whilst stationed all over the world with her sweet husband, Arnie. Volunteering in the community. Gayle has pretty much done everything and lives her life each day wanting to do even more. I love her.

We spoke of a sandwich she was fixing and she wished I were there to eat one with her. There is something about having someone fix food for you - it just plain tastes better.

I will head out to Utah in the spring, to visit Ry - my oldest son, friends and especially, to sit at Gayle's kitchen table and qwetch.

God bless friends

A father's anguish

It began as any other ordinary day. I am sure that he kissed his family good bye and expected to see them at the end of a hectic day at his office in California.

On December 8th, an F-18 fighter jet crashed into his home in San Diego. Some F A/18's had been taken out of the sky due to mechanical problems. Would that this plane had not been in the air. Fortunately, the pilot was able to eject safely. That might not be as fortunate in the long run - I am sure that ambulance chasers are considering lawsuits against the pilot and/or the military, and he will have to live with killing 4 innocent civilians, two children, a mother and a grandmother.

I saw the father on the CBS morning show today and he could barely walk. I was struck by his palpable grief and anguish. He was being comforted and almost held upright by his pastor and other friends. Pastors are on call 24/7 and 365 days a year. They are available to assist congregants with their temporal and spiritual needs. I cannot imagine what that was like for the pastor to get the phone call from his parishioner.

My prayers are with this man through this awful and life changing experience. His faith is strong - he knows that his family members are in Heaven - I wonder what comfort that is to him as he misses them every day for the rest of his life.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

What are civil rights anyway?

There is a nasty rumor swirling around Proposition 8 in California. The reason it was successful was due in large part to African American so-called Christians. Another reason is the LDS Church and other conservative Christian factions.

As a a woman of colour who is formerly LDS, I find this report to be disturbing on so many levels. Blacks were subjugated to slavery and horrors of Jim Crow laws and mysegyny and Mormons were tarred, feathered, raped, murdered, chased from state to state and finally came to Utah after an extermination order was issued against the entire religion in the 1800's by Governor Boggs - the governor of Missouri. Can you imagine such a thing in our lifetime? What is even more amazing is that the LDS Church is visiting hate and oppression on another group - have they forgotten their history?

I spoke recently with someone who told me of a story that happened at one of California's well-known newspapers. It seems that an employee's picture was defaced when another employee wrote the word: "Lesbo" on her picture. This employee was shell-shocked - her usually upbeat and bubbly personality stunted by such a vicious act. My friend went to HR to report the incident and then went again to make out an official complaint.

I repeat my thought from earlier in the week - "when one person is marginalized, we are all marginalized"- there are not enough gays in the country to "threaten" traditional marriage - and on another note - if traditional marriage is so good, why is the divorce rate so high?

41 years ago, my previous marriage to my Caucasian husband would have been illegal - thanks to Loving vs. Virginia, the supreme court decision that outlawed such nonsense, we were able to marry, have 4 amazing children and enjoy a good life for 15 years. Allowing gays to marry would not make my marriage any less valid as a result.

I wish that people would stay out of the private affairs of others - if we all minded our business like watches, like my mum says - life would be much easier.

Prime Minister of Kenya calls for troops to dislodge Mugabe

For those of you who read my blog regularly, you will know how I feel about the situation in Zimbabwe. It is simply unconscionable that our brothers and sisters be allowed to live in such dire circumstances under such tyranny.

I read this story on this morning - here is the link: Condoleezza Rice is among many who have called for the departure of Mugabe - the question is, who should be the one to dislodge him.

I really don't care who does it, or how it gets done, what I do know is that the suffering in this beautiful African country has escalated and the pain is becoming too great for our brothers and sisters to bear. Anyone who speaks out against the government is censured and usually in a violent way.

This has to end soon - I hope that the ANC steps in to do something before it is too late.

Standoff continues in Chicago factory

I read this story with interest.

I have attended many protest hearings, protests, marches and the like in my lifetime - I love the concept and practice of civil disobedience.

According to the news reports, in Illinois, a factory of the size in question needs to provide workers with 75 days' notice in the event of a closure. The workers received 3 days' notice. That means no job, no health insurance, no accrued vacation time being paid out - nothing.

The loan on the factory is held by Bank of America - one of the largest banks in the country - I hope that with the pressure being brought to bear by other unions who are now involved, that something will give - appropriate notice will be given to workers and that monies be found to provide COBRA benefits.

More signs of the times.

Roll on January 20th. I am already excited at President Elect Obama's plan to get more jobs in America - these people need hope - if they can get blue collar jobs in the new plan, even better.

Does religion cause violence?

I saw this article in the LoHud newspaper yesterday. Here is a link to the story: Please take time to read the story - it is thought-provoking.

Years ago while still living in London, I left my church because of the "troubles" in Ireland - that would be the was between Catholics and Protestants - later on, while living in Germany, I became disgusted over the conflict in the Middle East and stayed away from religion even longer.

I am now what I call spiritual, not religious - I love being a spiritual person - I love reading the scriptures, attending services, praying, singing hymns and everything about being spiritual. I am not a religious person - while I attend Episcopal services, I am not calling myself Episcopal. I attend service at a Baptist Church in Harlem, pray most days in a UCC Church and find myself to be a better person because of it.

The recent attacks in Mumbai have led people to have the discussion over religious extremists - in this case, they are perhaps Islamic fundamentalists, but could just as easily be from another denomination of any of the world's religions.

I abhor violence in any manner. I cannot imagine why anyone would commit heinous acts of violence in the name of God, Allah or any other name under which one calls their higher power.

The Mumbai attacks were reprehensible, abhorrent and caused the loss of life - worst of all. I pray that those responsible will be found and brought to justice. I think that the God whom I know and love would be sad to see his name being used to wreak havoc on any of his children.

NYPD in hot water again - police sensitivity training desperately needed across the country

Some years ago, I was at a training with police officers in the Salt Lake City police department. The presenter spoke about his training and how police officers are trained to look at people. His statement chilled me - he indicated that everyone is an a#@hole and their job as police officers is to have people prove to the police that they aren't, but that police officers still expect citizens to be a@#holes. I recall sitting in weekly meetings with police officers, listening to them speak of arrests and hostile situations that they have encountered - without fail, when describing perpetrators, they spoke of their race unless they happened to be Caucasian - I shared this with the Chief of Police's Executive Officer, as it was troubling to me - the blatant racism subsided a bit, not as much as I would have liked, but at least I stood up for what I believed to be inappropriate behavior.

As I heard the news story this morning of yet another of NYPD's victims, I was reminded of Abdoul Louima - the Haitian immigrant who was sodomized and beaten years ago by the NYPD. This newest claim states that the defendant was smoking pot, though no evidence was found to indicate same - he was stopped at one of NYC's subway stations by NYPD officers and was allegedly beaten, sodomized with a nightstick by one officer, while being held down by two others, and is now even still in pain weeks later, using a crutch to walk.

After that training, I had a different view of police officers - I had never really been particularly of them as a rule, given that I am a minority and have seen my children profiled a few too many times. I believe that an a##hole is an a@#hole, you can give that person a gun and a badge, but they are still an a#$hole.

The Salvation Army and the Catholic church

I know I have grabbed your attention with the tag line - it is intentional.

I have long maintained, as it states in the bible, that whosoever forbids to marry is not of God.

I just watched an ABC news report of a Captain in the Salvation Army - "Doing the most good" in Wisconsin. He became widowed a year ago. Statistically, men remarry within a year of being widowed. He asked God to send him someone to fill the void - a woman beautiful on the inside and the outside. He met Cia and they fell in love - a perfect match. They cannot be married in the Salvation Army, which is a bona fide church, I learned today - she is not of the faith and so he is giving up his home, job, and pretty much everything in order to be with the woman he loves.

According to the Salvation Army website: "Salvation Army officers must devote full time to Army work. An officer who marries must marry another Salvation Army officer or leave his or her officer status. Married captains and majors will individually carry the rank applicable to their own length of service, not that of their spouse. In case of married officers, the conferred ranks of lieutenant colonel, colonel and commissioner will be held jointly. As ordained ministers of the gospel, they are authorized to perform marriage ceremonies, funeral services, and infant dedications. They also provide counseling and consolation to the bereaved." This strikes me as unfair on so many levels.

The story reminds me of father Joe - he is the minister at St. Andrews church in Hartsdale where I worship. He was a Catholic priest for decades. He met a widower, Joanne and they fell in love. He left the priesthood and they are happy in their life together. Indeed, Joanne is now attending seminary to become an Episcopal priest.

Why do these stories continue to surface? When will religions recognize that a man and/or a woman are more effective in their pastoral duties when they have a help meet. That person is not necessarily of their faith, but shares many things in common.

I repeat - whosoever forbids to marry is not of God.

Dennis and Tina

I met an amazing woman a month or so ago. Her name is Tina. She is the mother of a remarkable little boy, Dennis. Dennis has Cerebral Palsy. He is chronologically 5 years old and functionally about 18 months old. He has amazing blue eyes, the longest lashes I have ever seen, baby smooth skin and a loving disposition.

I have been helping Tina to take care of her son during the times when she works one of her 3 jobs and needs help. I admire her tenacity, intellect, wisdom and uncanny ability to juggle much in her life. Her full time job is as a manager of a marketing company, her part time job is as a manager at a local restaurant on weekends and the final job is babysitting two sweet little girls whose father is a NYC firefighter. Did I mention she is also going to school to study law?

I have grown to love this little family in a very short time - God really does put people in our lives for a reason, more than one reason on occasion. I was actually planning to stay with Dennis and Tina for a season, a longer one than a month or so, but the remoteness of their home was a bit difficult for me to manage. We found each other on Craigslist - we were going to barter rent for nanny duties. I have tears in my eyes as I write this post - Dennis is under my skin and Tina is in my heart.

Tina and I were almost in an accident this week. As she used her amazing defensive driving skills to keep us from rear-ending one of the two recently-wrecked vehicles that collided in front of our eyes - I prayed for God to spare us. Tina and I have much in common - 11 year olds, kids with special needs, single parents and the desire to make our place in this world. Tina is looking for a new nanny to fill my spot - I wish her well.

p.s. the new nanny can't come after all - I will stay here and nanny part time and live in Hartsdale part time - a perfect solution.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Americans and their commutes - are we crazy?

Last year, Americans spent 4.2 billion hours sitting in traffic. This according to an IBM ad online in the NY Times today.

I have spent years in the workforce and some of that time commuting. I have learned that quality of life is far more important the older I get.

A commute time of up to one hour is acceptable, but anything longer just cuts into the quality of one's life. I am convinced, and studies will support this - that Americans are happier when their commutes are shorter.

I recall driving to work daily for about two years - I would listen to NPR and found myself yelling at the radio whenever I heard things with which I disagreed. I would then find myself at the office some 40 minutes to one hour later and would have to check my mood, which was inevitably soured by the long drive, the traffic, the accidents and of course, the news stories that made my blood boil.

I now live in Westchester, New York and commute just under one hour - it is just the right amount of time to read a chapter in a book, say hi to regulars and enjoy the day.

Granted, not everyone can work so close to where they live, but it behooves us to try to do so whenever possible, not just for our own sanity, but for the environment and our children.

Caroline Kennedy in the senate - does it get any better than that?

I was excited to see that Ms. Kennedy Schlossberg is considering the soon-to-be-vacated NY Senate seat when Hillary Clinton is confirmed by the senate to become the next Secretary of State in the Obama administration.

Caroline Kennedy is a formidable woman - she has of course, the benefit of being from one of the most amazing political families of our generation - her relatives have changed the face of America for the better - Robert, John and her uncle Ted who was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year - may God bless him.

Caroline is known for her advocacy work that centers around public education - we all know that our education system in this country is fraught with trials, ineptitude, low scores, crowded classrooms, low teacher morale and the list goes on. As a former educator, I purposely took a job in a private school so that my children would have the benefit of attending. In my most recent home state of Utah, charter schools are springing up at an amazing rate - their schools perform almost at the bottom in the nation - when it comes to per capita spending, they fall behind Mississippi. Our students deserve more.

For a time, I served on a board (Utah council of Educators) to try to address such inequities in the Utah school system where 3 of my 4 children were attending and succeeding and failing at varying levels. With Mrs. Kennedy in the senate, we can ensure that our children's needs are being met at the highest levels - inadequacies and inequities that exist in schools could be addressed.

It would certainly shake up the crowded field of would-be candidates - an impressive field, I might add - they would serve for 2 years, finishing out Senator Clinton's term and then would need to be elected.

Change has finally come to this country - I welcome the change.

Bill Ayers breaks his silence

I was thrilled to see that Bill Ayers has broken his silence - he is featured in today's Times in an op-ed piece.

Here is an excerpt of what he has to say about our President-Elect: "The dishonesty of the narrative about Mr. Obama during the campaign went a step further with its assumption that if you can place two people in the same room at the same time, or if you can show that they held a conversation, shared a cup of coffee, took the bus downtown together or had any of a thousand other associations, then you have demonstrated that they share ideas, policies, outlook, influences and, especially, responsibility for each other’s behavior. There is a long and sad history of guilt by association in our political culture, and at crucial times we’ve been unable to rise above it.
President-elect Obama and I sat on a board together; we lived in the same diverse and yet close-knit community; we sometimes passed in the bookstore. We didn’t pal around, and I had nothing to do with his positions. I knew him as well as thousands of others did, and like millions of others, I wish I knew him better. "

Here is a link to the entire article.

We all learned a great deal in this last election - one of the most riveting in our nation's history. Let's hope that the negativity is behind us and that we can now move forward.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The great bailout

Banks, mortgage companies, financial institutions, municipalities - they are all standing in line to be recipients of part of the government's $700 billion bailout.

Most recently, the big 3 automakers have returned to Washington to plead their case.

I have been watching the story unfold with great interest. I have vascillated between whether their request should be honored, or whether the powers that be - our elected officials - should simply tell them no. I was struck by one senator who likened the asking to that of a college student coming home and asking for money. The senator's first instinct would be to ask the student for their credit cards.

The automakers should hand in their credit cards, file for bankruptcy protection, take away all the bonuses of their heads, the stock options, get rid of their private jets and other "perks". Only then would they be able to reorganize and restructure their respective companies and that would just be the beginning.

A report on CBS morning news today indicated that sales of the European "Smart Car" are up some 40%. This mess with our automakers here in the US is not simply a product of a recession and a bad economy, but the failure of them to listen to what experts have been telling them.

It costs some $1500 dollars more for a UWA made auto vs. a Toyota made sans union here in the US. That is a huge difference - the hourly pay for a UAW worker is some $70+ dollars including health insurance benefits (how clever of them to disguise it so that we don't know what the bottom dollar figure truly is) vs. some $48 for a non UAW worker. I am not against unions, but what the UAW has done to their members is unconscionable and even abhorrent - they have created a culture of dependency, almost welfare-esque in their members desires to have higher wages and job security, they have veritably blackmailed the automakers into acquiescing to their every whim - some rational and others not so rational.

Methinks congress should send them packing and then they would have to do what the average American is doing during this time - reprioritizing - driving more fuel efficient cars, foregoing large items, bonuses at work and other.

More on this later. I don't think I am finished on this topic yet.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Planned Parenthood's controversial gift certificates

Planned Parenthood in Indiana is recognizing that in a difficult economic time, women put their health on the back burner. A brilliant marketing idea is the genesis of gift certificates for Planned Parenthood services.

Some extrememists think that the certificates will be used - gasp - for pregnancy terminations - I believe that this is highly unlikely, rather that women might use the morning after pill or other contraception.

Either way, it is a needed thing and again, a clever marketing tool to help women of all ages get the services they need.

I would purchase one for a friend if she needed me to.

Governer Janet Napolitano has "no life"

I am sure you have heard this story by now.

I never cease to be amazed at the stupidity of some individuals, particularly when they know a microphone is nearby. See the quote below:

"Janet's perfect for that job. Because for that job, you have to have no life. Janet has no family. Perfect. She can devote, literally, 19-20 hours a day to it," said Rendell, whose comments were picked up by the open mike.

I too have served as a political appointee, not in a cabinet position, but in an extremely demanding role. The hours were long and grueling, and I loved the job.

My former boss, the mayor of Salt Lake City Utah made an off the record comment about someone who was running for mayor and was a mother of a small child - he basically indicated that she would have a difficult time with the demands due to having a small child. He is not sexist, but was trying to articulate what can be a frustrating position on such an issue.

Had I to do it again, I would not have taken the job - much as I loved it - it took away my life with my children - no ball games, no track meets, no field trips - all those bonding times during the day that one has as a parent were lost to me as I tried to juggle long hours.

Janet Napolitano is an amazing woman - brilliant, intelligent, insightful and her family status is not anyone's business.

She will do a remarkable job in the Obama cabinet. We are all lucky to have her. Let us not judge her.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Academy award winning (best original screenplay) Juno - a remarkably candid movie

I am a movie buff - became one during my Salt Lake years. I particularly loved movie going at Trolley Square or the Broadway cinema - a good choice for Indy flick lovers. And, of course the dollar movies in Sugar House - everyone loves that - movies and popcorn for under ten bucks for two.

Now that I am resident in the NYC area, and my budget is somewhat limited, movies are not something that I can enjoy on a weekly basis - as a result, my tastes are more discriminating. This is a good thing.

I recently saw Juno - a movie about a teen couple who become pregnant, finds a newspaper ad and seeks out a couple to whom to gift their child. The mother of the child had originally wanted to have the pregnancy terminated, but after being heckled at an abortion clinic and hearing that her baby already had fingernails, she changed her mind and sought out the aforementioned couple (Jennifer Garner - uptight, Stepford wife and Jason Bateman - immature and amazingly inappropriate acting husband).

The movie was so very well done. Everything from the taunts that mum-to-be (Ellen Page), must endure in order to get around at school as her belly gets increasingly larger with the pregnancy's progression, to the awkwardness that comes to her relationship with her boyfriend and father of the child.

Juno is quirky, believable, loveable, kind and good-hearted. For those of you who have faced the heart-wrenching choice to terminate a pregnancy, the movie might be a bit much - it has a pretty decent ending - not Stepford-wife-esque - more Desperate Housewives-esque.

The movie is a candid look at the adoption process and its foibles. I highly recommend it. Having two close friends who have adopted, I loved the movie and how well it portrayed the emotions of the awaiting parents - the quandaries of the single mother and how this issue is far more complex than many realize.

Let us hope that Planned Parenthood will regain some of the funding lost through the Bush administration so that women actually have choices again.

Proposition 8 and Loving vs. Virginia - Equality means everyone

My heart is heavy lately. Part of it sings at the election of our remarkable 44th president - Barack Obama. The other part mourns for my gay brothers and sisters who continue to be treated like second class citizens.

The California supreme court is going to hear proposition 8 challenges and the United Church of Christ has joined others in a lawsuit to receive redress for what they believe to be an unconstitutional action. Here is a link to the story: - you can also link to the UCC website at

Many of you know that my children are bi-racial - for 15 years I was married to their father, a man whom I loved deeply who is also gay. We divorced when his sexual orientation became known to me. Note that I use the words sexual orientation, not preference. Straight people take for granted that we are opposite sex attracted, and not same sex attracted - we must choose our words carefully when speaking of this important issue.

Ironically, our marriage would not have been permitted in many states in the nation some 41 years ago, prior to the supreme court decision in Loving vs. Virginia.

We have come so very far with civil rights and yet our gay brothers and sisters are required to take a seat at the back of the bus. No marriage, no domestic partner benefits, no tax breaks, etc, etc, etc.

Let us continue to pray for a resolution to this situation - a fair and equitable one, where none feel threatened (except those bigots who would be threatened over something else, were it not for this). Let us continue to implore our elected officials to be mindful of gay rights and remember that equality is for everyone - it is not a choice, but a right. Equality means everyone - when one person is marginalized, we all are.

Ask and ye shall receive

In these trying economic times, it is easy to lose focus of our blessings.

I spent an amazing hour yesterday afternoon with a dear friend in Hartsdale, visiting Trader Joe's, Bagels n' More and The Bakery. The purpose of our visit was to secure donations for upcoming coffee hours at a local church.

I have secured these donations in the past, recognizing that some stores simply throw their day-old and otherwise outdated items in the trash, not sure how to get them to the homeless shelter. That was last year - I worried that a year later, I would be met with some resistance. Not so. I assured the manager at the Bagel shop that the church we represented was indeed affiliated with an ecumenical food pantry and that we would be sure to get day old bagels to homeless and otherwise downtrodden Westchester residents. In exchange for our tax exempt ID form, we will now receive as many leftover bagels for coffe hour and the homeless as our little cars can carry (okay, so I don't own a car these days - trying to reduce my carbon footprint). The point is, we asked, they said yes and now we will receive.

As I continue to read the disturbing reports of Black Friday's WalMart stampede on Long Island, I am truly thankful for small business owners - they get it on a basic and fundamental level - they understand that their livelihood depends on good customer relations and giving back to their community. They also recognize, as do astute and educated consumers, that a large portion of every dollar spent in their store stays in the local community and does not go else where into the black hole of big-box land profits.

I found this great article in the Wall Street Journal online, whilst researching for some statistics for this story - please check it out: - Here is a teaser from the article: "Three–quarters of small business owners said they donate a percentage of their profits to charity, with 5% of small firms donating more than 10%, according to a fall 2008 survey by American Express. "

Remember your local shops when shopping this holiday season - even locally owned franchises are better than big-box stores for your local economy - but close, buy local, do something good.

Republican Saxby Chambliss wins Georgia runoff - no supermajority for Dems

Maybe Sarah Palin and John McCain have found a new raison d'etre: They are clearly very good at stumping for others - they just couldn't seem to get themselves elected.

According to the Washington Post this morning, Saxby Chambliss beat his opponent in the runoff - and by quite a margin. Chambliss has 58% of the vote vs. Martin's 42% with 97% of precincts reporting. The country now awaits the fate of the Minnesota recount. It should be interesting.

Democrats around the country, elected and not, had hoped for a supermajority. Frankly, I think that having a Democratic Senate and White House is more than enough of a majority to get things done in a bi-partisan manner. According to the Washington Post article, "You have delivered a message that a balance of government in Washington is necessary," is what he stated at his victory speech.

Speaking of which: One of the reasons he was such a popular Governor, George W. Bush was a master at bipartisanship whilst Governor of Texas - would that he had remained so when he finally came to Washington.

Gentlemen, start your engines

They're baaacck!

The heads of the Big 3 automakers are back in Washington - this time, sans private jets, fortunately.

They have revised their wishlist and one head honcho is even going to take a $1 annual salary until the debt is repaid. Am I thoroughly convinced that the taxpayer should bear the brunt of this debt at a moderate interest rate? Not in the least. Should we really have to pay for the mistakes of managers gone awry? The price and quality of the US automobile has not kept up with those of Japan and other countries. The automakers have not been as aggressive in bringing to the consumer models that are not as reliant on so much darn gasoline.

Why is it again that we should help them? I don't have any relatives or even friends in the auto industry, and I do not mean to sound cold, but why is this our problem? Other companies and consumers have to file for bankruptcy protection at such times as this - this gives them a chance to reorganize their debts (under chapter 11), come up with a credible plan of attack and restructure the company to make it profitable again.

Lee Iacocca asked where have all the leaders gone as it related to political figures in his recent book, "Where Have all the Leaders Gone?" When he was the head of Chrysler, they received a similar bailout, but the monies were repaid within an inordinately short period of time under his fine leadership.

If I were able to have my say on this, aside from in this blog, I would ask the Bush and Obama administrations to insist that the automakers bring Lee Iacocca and Mitt Romney to the table - and force the automaker heads to work with these two remarkable intuitive men when it comes to business acumen. Romney has amassed a fortune turning companies around - it is just too easy for some to get in that line and ask for a handout, not a handup. I say we make it a tad harder.

Plaxico Burris, the New York Giants, Mayor Bloomberg and the hippocratic oath

Mayor Bloomberg is outraged at the unfolding events outlining what led to the "accidental" shooting by Plaxico Burris, NY Giants player at a Manhattan nightclub over the weekend. He thinks that Burris should be locked up - that is exactly what would happen to you and I, were we to be in the same situation.

Not only was Mr. Burris carrying a concealed weapon in a nightclub, the permit for said weapon was not valid in NY, rather in Florida.

The injury he sustained came allegedly by his own hand, as he shot himself in the thigh after accidentally discharging his weapon that was tucked into his waistband. If I hadn't seen it on several news channels, I would not have believed that this story is credible. It is amazing how much these NYers love their sports - it was the lead story on many news channels.

To add insult to injury, when Mr. Burris finally checked into a NY hospital, his wound was not reported to the authorities - methinks that the healthcare worker has not only been suspended, but should read the hippocratic oath - whether a doctor or not, the oath is there to protect patients from harm. Great harm has been done to Mr. Burris by not allowing him the benefit of reporting appropriately to the authorities just what happened in that nightclub with the gun.

He has now been suspended from the Giants for the rest of the season.

Do I really care about this? Not particularly - it would appear that Mr. Burris has a penchant for drama, having been at least twice fined and or suspended from games for altercations with referees and the like.

I do, however have a remarkable young man in my family of whom I am particularly proud. He plans to attend Western Michigan University on a football scholarship. I am planning to have a serious conversation with him (again) about the many unfortunate trappings of jockland, as I fondly refer to it. He will need to understand that he is not above doing homework, participating in non sports related events at school, volunteering in his community, and above all, not acting like an overgrown adolescent while others are watching.

It is time for us to restore balance to our country and stop idolizing sports stars and paying them huge salaries for their talent. They are mere mortals with amazing gifts - they are not gods - they are humans with weaknesses and foibles - let us not forget that.

And lest we forget - suspension from games does not necessarily indicate that Burris will forfeit his mega-million dollar salary in the meantime.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

He's not black - he's also half white - what we can learn from our new "brown" president elect

President Elect Barack Obama is making some remarkable choices for his new cabinet. Most notable is his choice for Secretary of State - the honourable Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Skeptics might look upon this and muse that this is merely a case of Obama keeping his friends close and his enemies closer. Harvard MBA graduates might recognize it for what it is - a stroke of genius and brilliant strategy and logic.

The race to the White House on the Democratic side was not expected to be between these two rivals, Clinton and Obama - both senators - neither of whom had served as a governor (though, I digress here when I note that Ms. Sarah Palin is a governor and leaves much to be desired when it comes to intelligence and the ability to lead her country). Obama was the dark horse in more ways than one. Indeed, Bill Clinton got extremely testy during the final stages of the campaign - he wanted the White House badly for Hillary - really badly - I am not convinced that the country was ready to have him in it again, shenanigans and all.

What can we learn from President Elect Obama as he has made this amazing choice? The first former First Lady to be elected Senator and now she will be Madame Secretary - right up there with Madeleine Albright, (who was, incidentally, confirmed by President Bill Clinton) and Condoleeza Rice. We can learn that Obama is determined to pick the best and brightest for his administration - bright people tend to surround themselves with intellectual individuals. I recently heard him speak of being one who welcomes strong personalities when asked if he thought the cabinet was too full of strong-minded individuals.

What we should take away from this lesson is that Obama is reaching across aisles, gathering former foes, bright minds and shining stars to begin to fix this mess that we are in in our beloved United States of America. Let us all pray for him and his emerging cabinet.

On another note, I am enjoying immensely, his memoir "Dreams from my father" - I highly recommend it - great reading, thoughtful, intellectually stimulating, and above all - he addresses race in a way that is long overdue.

The headline of this post comes from a story in yesterday's Washington Post. The article details issues surrounding the parentage of bi-racial persons in this country. It is particularly germane to my family, as I am the proud mother of 4 bi-racial (half black and half white) sons. Two of them have come to me on more than one occasion to explain what it was like for them to be growing up, trying to be brown, when others wanted them to pick just one race with which to identify (that one drop rule clearly still applies). Think of Halle Berry, recently named sexiest woman alive, Alicia Keyes, Grammy award winner, phenomenal singer Mariah Carey and the amazingly gifted golfer Tiger Woods and others who are of mixed parentage - prior to Loving vs. Virginia, their parents would not have been able to marry, and even if married, would not have been able to share the same bed to procreate - we sure have come a long way.

It is my dream and hope that with the ushering in of our remarkable new President Elect Obama, that my children and countless others in this country will not have to check one box, or renounce one race, rather that they can embrace their parentage on both sides.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mumbai massacre

The killings have shocked the entire world - the children, families, women, Jewish couple from Brooklyn, American father and 13 year old daughter - the list goes on.....

The siege has ended, according to Indian officials - and now comes the daunting task of assigning blame. Just who are these terrorists? Are they really just a small group of individuals? An aberration, an anomaly? How on earth did they manage to hold under siege the busiest and most prosperous city in India.

I am sure that many will be wondering these same questions.

My prayers are with those who have lost loved ones and for the Obama team tasked with addressing this situation.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday and a salute to volunteers and mums around the world

Today marks my third experience with Black Friday. For my friends from across the pond, that would be the day after Thanksgiving, when Americans get up at a ridiculously early hour in order to procure presents for the holidays at bargain prices.

I have found Pokeman cards for my kids, large screen TV's and today - the piece de la resistance - a Kitchen Aid mixer for my dear mum. Mum is amazing - she raised five wonderful daughters - led us by example and we are all productive members of our society. Mum gives to so many charities, I cannot keep count - even as her 401k and retirement funds are diminishing in the midst of this economic crisis, she maintains her commitments.

Some weeks ago, at her church - St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Hartsdale, NY - she volunteered to bake cakes for a fundraiser. She took orders, anticipating that she might make 10 cakes or so - that number quickly grew to 28 cakes and still countin last I knew.

These are not any old cakes - oh no - they are traditional Jamaican rum cakes - they are prepared with love and a huge time commitment. She is always looking for Jamaican rum to soak the fruits in for weeks, even months ahead of time, and deals on dried fruits to put in the mix. It is amazing to see what happens in preparation of this event.

As she has made this commitment, one thing is clear - she needed a better kitchen mixer in order to devote the hours necessary to preparing these cakes with love.

This morning, I was awake at around 5.oo a.m. I called a nearby Kohl's department store and was advised that they did indeed have the desired mixer, at a reasonable sale price and the store had been open since 4.00 a.m. and would have quantities to last until they ran out (I love really useful salespersons). Hey, I worked retail through a couple of Black Fridays myself - I know what good customer service is and can surely tell what bad customer service is, conversely.

We readied ourselves and set out for the store. It was full of eager shoppers. The lines resembled Russian food lines in another era, and I wondered again why it is that civilized people will stand for hours in a line to spend their hard-earned monies. I made the mistake of not taking my cell phone with me. Fatal when shopping with someone else on such a day as today. Mum could not find me in the huge store and tried to have me paged, only to be passed along, from one sales associate to another, all passing the buck, claiming that it was not their job to page guests. We finally found each other and I was guarding what I thought to be the desired mixer.

True to form, mum stated that based on the horrible feeling in the store, poor customer service, et al - she had no desire to spend her money there. I love that about mum - she really puts her money where her mouth is. This mixer cost a pretty penny. We were not going to stand in line for over an hour at a store where our business appeared to be unappreciated.

I called a local Bed, Bath and Beyond - no crowds, extremely friendly staff and their beloved 20% off coupon was being thankfully honoured in the store on Black Friday - the one day of the year when it is honoured without actually being in the hands of the guest - we saved a pretty penny on that mixer - enough that mum could purchase her long coveted stainless steel flip top rubbish bin for the kitchen in her condo. We found a few more things, stopped at another store - Home Goods - again - excellent customer service, no crowds and pleasant shopping, ate breakfast and came home.

Mothers are the ones who get things done in this world - yes, men do too, don't misunderstand me, but there is something about a woman who takes charge of situations.

I love my mother - she is my most-admired woman. Formidable, intelligent, with a strong conviction. I don't know if we got the best deal on that mixer today, and I suppose, it doesn't really matter - what I do know is that my mum has class and will only do business with those who have earned her respect. A good lesson for all of us.

Now off to make those 28 cakes - in 2 or 3 shifts, methinks. Either way, infinitely faster because we have a wonderful new mixer to help us along.

Happy Thanksgiving - or should I say - Happy Black Friday.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Kristallnacht and the LDS Church continues to baptize Holocaust victims

I read the story on CNN on my mobile device earlier today.

Yet again, the LDS Church is being called to task for baptising Jews - specifically, Holocaust victims.

The practice of baptising for the dead is mentioned in the New Testament by Paul as an aside. The LDS faith believes that every mortal who has lived should have the opportunity to be baptised into the LDS religion in the event that they might change their minds about their chosen religion and want to be LDS in the life hereafter.

Apparently, talks between leaders of the Jewish faith here in the U.S. and Lance Wickham, an elder in the LDS Church broke down over the weekend. I fully understand that someone of the LDS faith with Jewish ancestors might want to give his ancestors the opportunity to be baptised into the faith, but to arbitrarily gather masses of names and submit them for proxy baptism at any one of the numerous LDS temples worldwide indicates a lack of respect for our Jewish brothers and sisters.

Proposition 8 and the LDS Church

I received a petition in my inbox last week. A friend was asking me to sign on to have the IRS review the non-profit status of the LDS Church. It seems that some think they have gone (again) too far (they claim to be politically neutral) this time. They are not the only church who galvanized their flocks to speak out against gay marriage. Many other conservative churches cautioned and advised their followers to vote against proposition 8.

There have been a myriad of protests in California, even in Utah - my former home - at the home of the LDS Church headquarters in Salt Lake City, some 3,000 protestors led a march against the LDS Church, asking them to recognize equality.

I am not here to tell any church how to lead their affairs, what I am here to do is to remind us all that in the 60's it was illegal for Barack Obama's parents to be married in many of the 50 states.

This issue will continue to be a divisive one for many of us. I read a great open letter on the UCC Church's website on this topic recently. The complete letter can be found at this link:

The struggle will not be over, as long as any of us are marginalized - be that women who do equal work for less pay than men, gays who cannot legally marry, and so on and so forth......

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday after the historical election

Well dear readers,

It has been almost a week and I just can't get enough of the talk, pundits, politocos, analysts, all sharing their opinions about how and why President Elect Obama was able to "pull this off" so to speak.

Around the world, American expatriots and foreigners alike are rejoicing. One American living overseas said that for the first time in 8 years he felt like he could be a proud American again. Remember those classes we were encouraged to take prior to traveling overseas? No more hiding ourselves and our nationality - finally a chance to breathe and be proud Americans again.

May God continue to bless President Elect Obama and his family - and of course, God bless the USA.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

How we voted based on our religion......

Catholics voted for Obama, Protestants for McCain - 78% of Jews voted for Obama.

I find these numbers quite remarkable, in that I was lunching today with a Jewish friend and we spoke of Hitler's atrocities and slavery's atrocities - reparations not given - why she felt uncomfortable in Austria - same as I felt living in Germany during the rise of the neo-Nazi movement in the early 1980's.

Jews and blacks have a shared and very sad history together - it is not surprising that we voted along the same lines based on our heritage, race and religion.

Bishop Jakes spoke with Chris Matthews about us coming together in spite of our differences - he made a point of saying that we need to respect one another regardless of how our opinions might differ.

A lot of work is ahead of us - let us not forget from whence we came, and no matter who we voted for - President Elect Obama is going to be the President of ALL of the United States. One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. Out of many one people.

A new day has dawned

I sit here with tears streaming down my face. My fingers tremble over the keys of my PC.

I dared not hope that he would really win - could he? Would he? Were the polls wrong?

We did it! We did it! We did it!

I am overwhelmed with gratitude and humility. For years, my sons went to school and saw only teachers who did not look like them - and now, they can look to the President of this - the greatest country in the world - and see someone who looks just like them.

For years, I hoped that we would see this day come - a black President of the United States. I had hoped it would be Jessie Jackson - then Colin Powell - and now we have the most eloquent, intellectual and remarkable man we could have ever imagined - a man who was born to do this thing - this job - this calling from God - to lead our nation and heal our hearts, our minds and our homes.

God bless President Elect Obama and his wife, Michele - their children, Sasha and Malia and God bless America.

Election day buzz

I can hardly stand it!

The returns are coming in.

Until almost 7 p.m. EST, I was doing phone banking to Wisconsin - desperately trying to do my part till the end. I was supposed to be at my local train station, but at 3.00 p.m. 50% of my precinct had already cast votes, instead of by 6.00 p.m. - we were so far ahead of the game, they didn't even bother to send anyone to bug weary commuters.

I checked my email via my mobile device and realized that there was still GOTV calling to be done. I sat down at my PC and pulled up the familiar website - it was electrifying - I spoke to so many voters who had already voted - some had called family members and convinced them to vote for Obama.

This is a historical day. It is fitting that his grandmother went home to be with his mother and forebears to celebrate - there is much to be rejoicing over.

We did it - the change is coming and we are all a part of it. More tomorrow, or even later when I pop the champagne.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Phone banking

I have done it many times in the past 8 years - phone banking - telemarketing for the fearless, the unintimidated. I am phone banking from my PC in NY to people in Indiana, Pennsylvania and Ohio - they call them "Battleground states" - I can see why - they are definitely battleground states. The emotions that emanate from the other end of the telephone are strong, to be quite sure.

I am doing it because I want to do SOMETHING. I had hoped to be hired to work on the campaign full time, but decided against something that would require so many hours - I struggle with having too much stress and too many hours of work - it is difficult to have a disability, particularly one such as mine - people tend to not understand, and more often, tend to not want to understand.

I am polite on the phone - I follow the script religiously, respecting the differences, rejoicing inwardly, and outwardly, when appropriate, when I meet a true Obama supporter - the first time voter who screamed in the background of one of my first phone calls, the green card holder who cannot vote, but is proud that her citizen husband can and will vote for Obama. The 70 year old who thinks that Obama is the only one who can heal the country and is convinced of its demise under McCain. There are many - there are also the few who hang up - less than a handful so far, actually. It is all part of it - again - that is why they are called battleground states - strong opinions from the residents thereof.

This election is the most important election that we are likely to see in our lifetimes. The next few years will explain where we are as a nation, whether we have overcome our personal biases and have the guts to vote for the right person, regardless of the color of his skin. I am wearing one of my Dr. King pins - I got them at the annual luncheon I attended a couple of times in Utah - another lifetime ago - I wonder what people think when they see it - do they think I am making a statement? I am, but not the one they might think of necessarily - I have a dream and that is that my 4 brown sons will always be judged by the content of their character, and not the colour of their skin.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Can Obama close the deal with those white guys?

The presidential race has taken an exciting turn now. It all started this morning with Powell's endorsement.

It is officially all about race - no, not the race, but race, as in skin color.

The title of this post comes from the NY Times magazine today. I have not read the story - I am, after all, a tree hugger and not inclined to read many magazines or newspapers, except at my local library on occasion, or online versions.

Does Obama really have to close a deal with white guys or does he have to close a deal with all the remaining undecideds? He is moving ahead swiftly of McCain and there are still more voters' minds to sway.

At this late stage in the game, one has to ask - are people going to vote for McCain just because he shares their skin color? His economics plan has been reviewed, as has Obama's by an independent group - several, in fact - and Obama's has been deemed the most viable. McCain's ads become more desperately negative as the days inch closer to November 4th - we are now two weeks and two days away from the most important general election in many of our lifetimes.

I would like to think that we have progressed in America - that we do not see things in terms of color and race alone - that we judge people based on the content of their character, not the color of their skin - Colin Powell stated today that he hopes we have moved beyond the so-called Bradley factor, but I am not quite as optimistic.

Should I be?

An endorsement of monumental proportions

I dared not believe it......I certainly hoped and tried to be cautiously optimistic, but I dared not believe it. When I heard that retired General and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell was to be on NBC's "Meet the Press" today, I thought that he might speculate again as to his lack of endorsement of a presidential candidate.

It was at around 4.00 today that I heard the news - I was at a local eatery in Hartsdale when I was told that Powell had indeed endorsed Obama. CNN in some fashion is always on the TV and we discuss politics whenever we go to pick up some delicious West Indian food from Ruth's restaurant. I was incredulous - I could scarcely believe the news. All these months of waiting - watching Powell be so very careful as he decided whether or not to endorse, knowing of the ramifications from his party, his race and his friends, were he to endorse one way or the other. Colin Powell is West Indian by heritage and began his education at City colleges of New York - nothing is impossible in this country if one dares to dream - absolutely nothing, and methinks that is perhaps what is the most perturbing for all those out there who tried and failed - they thought that the White House was theirs as if by predestination - they had earned it by decades of public service, their last names, whatever - and then comes Obama, the Junior Senator from Illinois, with his intellect, wisdom and amazing vision - a man who can heal our nation and bring about the change that we so desperately need here in America.

A lesser person than Powell would have remained neutral and kept their voting decision to themselves, but Powell has shown us time and again that he is not a regular Joe - he is a remarkable man - intelligent, eloquent, poised, polished, with great vision, wisdom and insight into the political goings on in the country, even the world - yes, and not just on military matters dare I say it.

He is now damned because he did, and damned because he didn't. McCain is a close friend of his and they have known each other for over two decades - Obama is becoming a very close friend and they have become close in the last two years......He has often been a counselor and sounding board, mentor and now friend to the young - or relatively young - senator from Illinois.

Powell knew that he would be accused of playing his own race card by siding with Obama - had he sided with McCain, he would have been accused of betraying his race AND political party - it tooks guts, courage and the tenacity that have made Powell one of the most respected and admired political military figures of our lifetime. In another ending, he could well have been the first black President of America - he finds it "electrifying" to think that Obama might just be the one to do this instead.

God bless America and God bless Senator Obama.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Just passing this on - for those who normall vote Straight Democratic, or Republican for that matter

Just Passing this on... For those who normally vote 'Straight Democratic', please pay close attention!!!!! I was informed this weekend by a group of Obama volunteers that when voting for the presidential candidate this November, you have to make sure you punch Barack's name first, then proceed to punch 'Straight Democratic' or else the vote for the president won't count. I'm not sure if any of you are aware of this, but we know they won't tell us this at the poles. Please make sure you inform others.

For your information, I tried to verify this via Snopes, but was not able.

You be the judge....

Vote for President Barack "Osama" a freudian slip in Upstate NY - methinks not!

It was an ugly typo to say the least. One could not begin to imagine how this had happened. Sure, the powers that be hurriedly apologized for the error, but did not explain HOW this happened, only that they were sorry. For the mothers in the reading group, we recall having to practically force a civilised "sorry" from one sibling who has hurt or offended another, recognising that there was no civility there, and there was surely no "sorry" except that the offending party was caught.

What on earth is afoot in the great state of New York? Granted, it is now my residence, and for the NYC'er who is somewhat geographically challenged, they consider my county of Westchester to be "Upstate", but it is a mere 40 minutes from the city, truth be told.

Lately, we are hearing about the so-called Bradley factor - named after Tom Bradley of California. When he ran for office, in California, he was predicted to win by polls, but according to Wikepedia, something completely different happened that day:

The Bradley effect, less commonly called the Wilder effect,[1] is a proposed explanation for a discrepancy between voter opinion polls and election outcomes in American political campaigns when a white candidate and a non-white candidate run against each other.[2][3][4] Named for Tom Bradley, an African-American who lost the 1982 California governor's race despite being ahead in some voter polls, the Bradley effect refers to an alleged tendency on the part of some voters to tell pollsters that they are undecided or likely to vote for a black candidate, and yet, on election day, vote for his/her white opponent.
The theory of the Bradley effect is that the inaccurate polls have been skewed by the phenomenon of social desirability bias.[5][6] Specifically, some white voters give inaccurate polling responses for fear that, by stating their true preference, they will open themselves to criticism of racial motivation. The reluctance to give accurate polling answers has sometimes extended to post-election exit polls as well. The race of the pollster conducting the interview may factor in to voters' answers.
Some analysts have dismissed the theory of the Bradley effect as "baseless",[7] while others argue that it may have existed in past elections, but not in more recent ones.

It would have been nice to see Hillary Clinton be the first female President of the United States, up there with Angela Merkel, Margaret Thatcher et al, but it was not to be.

Are you really telling me that we are still so race conscious in this country, that we would rather be "PC" about this, and no, I am not talking DELL here - than to tell the truth when asked in a poll, exit or pre-election or otherwise?

Freudian slip my foot!