Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Plaxico Burris gets his day in court

Last November I wrote a piece about the aforementioned NFL star and his mishap with a gun going off in a Manhattan night club - turns out that the gun was not registered in NY State, but Florida where he had lived previously.

Months later, a media frenzy surrounds him as he prepares for his day in court, though there is speculation that his attorney will ask for a "continuance" - not sure of the verbiage - either way - he is looking at up to 15 years in prison for this felony charge.

In my previous post about this story, I think I was a tad too harsh on Plaxico and wish to publicly admit that this writer was a bit one-sided in her zeal to judge him given her distaste for all things firearm related.

The bottom line is that Mr. Burris is actually an upstanding citizen - he has no criminal record whatsoever and the fact that he did not register his gun in another state because he had recently relocated does not make him Charles Manson. His mistake in judgement occurred when he brought a gun - loaded - into a private club without a clip for safety purposes.

I hope that he gets a fair shake - I am doubtful - we are after all speaking of an African American male and we know how our justice system likes to treat them don't we?

Black caucus calls for more diversity in bailouts

Well, it had to happen and let the games begin.

It seems that the Black caucus has "called the President out" for not having enough women and minorities involved in the banking bailouts.

It is not enough that he has a council on women - the first President to do so that I can recall - it is not enough that the Attorney General is black - it is not enough that his wife is black - she could just have easily been white, given his bi-racial heritage - we all know that would not have played in the White House and McCain and Palin would be ruling the roost in that scenario - perish the thought.

Here is the link to the story: http://news.aol.com/article/black-caucus-calls-for-more-diversity-in/405193

I need to read GNN.com - more later.

GM's ousted CEO eligible for 20M retirement package

I must admit that I had some serious Schadenfreude when I heard that Waggoner was stepping down from GM last week.

Today I have angst and outrage over this story detailing his retirement package. It posted an hour ago on my mobile device via CNN - I cannot link to the story so I am pasting it in its entirety here:

"General Motors' outgoing chief executive Rick Wagoner is eligible to receive more than $20 million in his retirement package, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.Wagoner announced Monday he was resigning at the request of the Obama administration, which has prodded GM to restructure as the company receives government financing to stay afloat.

Although Wagoner is not eligible for any severance pay upon leaving GM, he is eligible for hefty retirement benefits."He has worked for GM for nearly 32 years, and he would be entitled to certain vested awards, deferred compensation, and pension and other post-retirement benefits," GM said in a statement.Upon Wagoner's departure he will be eligible for both a salaried retirement plan and an executive retirement plan, which at the end of last year totaled approximately $20.2 million, GM spokeswoman Julie Gibson said.Most of it would be paid out as an annuity over five years, with the remainder as a small lifetime annuity, Gibson said.

Wagoner hasn't yet officially left the company and has not received any of the retirement compensation. What will actually be paid to him is still being reviewed, GM said.Paul Hodgson, senior research associate at The Corporate Library, which analyzes corporate governance and pay, said if Wagoner is contractually entitled to the compensation, GM couldn't insist on withholding it.Wagoner will not comment on the matter, Gibson said. The United Auto Workers also said it had no comment on Wagoner's compensation.

Wagoner said late last year he would accept a $1 annual salary if the federal government would come through with billions of dollars in loans for GM. The loans came, and Wagoner's $1 salary commenced January 1, according to a filing with the SEC.The federal government has loaned $13.4 billion to GM and $4 billion to fellow struggling automaker Chrysler, and on Monday, President Obama gave failing grades to both companies for their turnaround efforts. He said the government would give GM "adequate working capital" over the next 60 days, during which GM must prove it can "restructure in a way that would justify an investment of additional taxpayer dollars."Chrysler will be given adequate capital to continue operations for 30 days while completing a merger with Fiat.Wagoner became CEO of GM in 2000. Before that, he was chief operating officer and led the company's North American operations. He also served as chief financial officer from 1992 to 1994."

No wonder the auto industry is in such a bloody mess! Twenty million dollars in a retirement package? On what planet is that even acceptable? Of course these CEO's can afford to accept a paltry $1 salary - they think that we the public have forgotten all about their bonuses, stock options and retirement packages that they continue to draw from during times of financial duress for their companies - I am outraged and we all should be! Maybe it is true - maybe GM was beginning to turn around under Waggoner, but after reading the story, methinks they/we are all better off without him. Mr. Waggoner will have earned about 3/4 of a million dollars for each of his 32 years of service - talk about overpaid!

All things being equal, even the President who can do a marginal job - think GW Bush - can hardly earn that amount with speaking engagements post White House - why on earth is it acceptable for a CEO to receive not a golden parachute, but a platinum and diamond encrusted parachute in this case? How much is too much and when is it ever going to be enough?

Is the First Lady the President's secret diplomatic weapon?

This story posted just about an hour ago on my mobile device - what was I saying earlier about being a news junkie??

I digress - it is an amazing account of the remarkable Michelle Obama, with comparisons to Jackie Kennedy and what she did for the American image abroad.

Here is the story - I have to post it in its entirety, since there is no link on the CNN main page.

"What can the first lady accomplish when she accompanies her husband on his first trip to Europe? She can play a role in the rebranding of America.President Obama has star power. We saw it when he traveled to Europe during the campaign. So does the first lady: When Michelle Obama accompanies her husband overseas this week for the G-20 summit, it's likely to double the wattage."I believe in this nation. And I believe in my husband,'' the first lady said in a recent interview on ABC's "Good Morning America.''Obama remains a figure of hope to the world. But he is not immune from criticism. His policies have been under attack abroad as well as at home.

"He talks about a large stimulus campaign by Americans. All of these steps, their combination and their permanency, is a way to hell," Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said.Some foreign leaders are resentful because the financial crisis that threatens to undermine the world economy started in the United States."It was a crisis that was created and spread throughout the world due to the irresponsible behavior of white people, blue-eyed people, that thought they knew everything but are now showing they knew nothing," Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said.

Obama's mission is to rebrand the United States as a force for change and hope in the world, just as John F. Kennedy once did.First lady Jacqueline Kennedy was an important asset to JFK. Her charm and sophistication were a sensation overseas. Michelle Obama also embodies a new American brand: diversity and accomplishment."We're at a time when we're going to have to try a lot of things. Some of it won't work; some of them will," the first lady said.

Although her schedule overseas has not been made public, CNN has learned that the first lady will venture out twice on her own.In London, England, Michelle Obama will visit a school for underprivileged girls, many of them learning to speak English. She is likely to make a strong statement about women's rights, as she did recently when she brought together "Women of Courage'' at the White House."The difference between a struggling family and a healthy one is often the presence of a strong woman or women at the center of that family," she said.The first lady will also visit the Jewish quarter of Prague, in the Czech Republic, which symbolizes the tragic history of a community that found success and influence in the United States.An African-American first lady will pay tribute to women and Jews. It's the new face of America."

God bless America and I thank God every day since the election that the change which we had longed for has finally come!

Angie Harmon deemed "Racist" for hating Obama

Okay, okay - so the story showed up on AOL just 10 hours ago and I got my hot little fingers all over it. It is actually a tagline from a website called Popeater, but the header grabbed my attention which is, of course why I am posting about it. It is filed under "politics, gut reactions and movie news", interestingly enough. Here is the link to the story: http://www.popeater.com/movies/article/angie-harmon-deemed-racist-for-hating/404722?icid=mainmaindl2link6http%3A%2F%2Fwww.popeater.com%2Fmovies%2Farticle%2Fangie-harmon-deemed-racist-for-hating%2F404722

Angie Harmon is an amazing actress and is among a number of Republicans who are disenchanted with our current President. After barely surviving the last 8 years, I know what it feels like to have a voice in the White House espousing policies that are so far from your own ideaology, one wanted to go to bed and wake up when it was all over. Thank God, the American public has spoken and it is all over - we are in a new era of hope and change sweeping the land, indeed the entire globe.

President Obama is faced with some of the most tumultuous times in recent history - two wars, an economic crisis the likes of which we have not seen since the Great Depression, the auto industry in crisis and rising unemployment. He is recently being criticized for taking on too much at once. What on earth is the man supposed to do? Retire to his bed at 9.00 each night and hope and pray that things just get better?

We are in an unprecedented time - good and bad - there is much greatness in the world - we are more unified with our allies than in recent years - we are more aware of being part of a global environment - we are finally addressing global warming, community gardens, taking care of our neighbors on our streets and across the world. There is also much sorrow. Wars, famine, turbulence, political unrest in many parts of the world.

This week, President Obama is meeting with the G-20 in an amazing show of force, not the usual meeting just for the original G-8, but also for the up and coming, developing forces in the world - this is an incredibly brave endeavor - Vice President Biden started out last week to warm the stage for Obama - the two men are an incredible force - formidable, even.

This financial debacle began on our shores - the greed of Americans, specifically COO's, CEO's and other top executives, along with their cohorts on Wall Street - saw a way in which they could earn obscene amounts of monies with toxic mortgages and now we have the fallout - huge foreclosure rates and millions of out of work Americans, not to mention the debacle with our own 401 K accounts.

Yes - Angie Harmon can express her outrage at what she believes to be Obama's inexperience, but in my estimation, he is doing an amazing job with remarkable grace and leadership. It is her right to criticize, but let us not call her racist because our new President just happens to be black.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Coffee hour - what women/men want.

For over 20 years while I was a practicing Mormon, I bemoaned the fact that there was no time for socializing on Sundays. Mormons are worker bees - they pride themselves on their work ethic - there are more call centers located in Utah's "Beehive State" than anywhere else in the nation - why? It is a right to work state, Mormons are hardworking and are grateful to have a job - any job - by and large, they marry young and have kids while trying to finish undergraduate school, so that $8 an hour call center job is a necessity to supplement financial aid from school.

I know all about it - I was one of those working Mormon women - worked while my husband went to school - worked really hard as a preschool teacher for a pittance in Kentucky. All because of my belief in the Mormon ethic of hard work etc. Years later, it is my turn to return to college and complete the degree that I began many years ago. I digress.

Fast forward a few years and I have become a lover of coffee since having left my Mormon faith behind during my years of living in Zion - aka - Utah. I love coffee hour - it is a sacred tradition that I hold dear. Each Sunday after worship, I go to the social hall and mingle with parishioners as we discuss the sermon, politics, work, networking possibilities, kids, neighborhood goings on and much, much more.

Yesterday, I was privileged to attend worship with a dear friend who attends a church where the minister was celebrating his one year installation anniversary. There was more than a coffee hour - there was a sumptuous banquet - salmon, baked and fried chicken, salads and rolls and delicious desserts.

I sat at a table with my friend, a separated man (experiencing his second divorce), and a deacon who is celebrating over 30 years of marriage with the same woman. We talked candidly about the sexes and what each of us wants. It was an eye-opening conversation. I heard that women want men to take out the trash and buy them diamonds - I don't want diamonds and I can take out my own trash, thank you very much! Diamonds are blood money and I want no part of it - I will take a QVC Diamonique ring any day - I want a man who meets me half way - a man who has a life and will be a helpmeet to me - one who loves me and cherishes me as much as I love and cherish him. One who accepts me with my weaknesses and my intellect - who is not afraid of my strong opinions and loves mental sparring. I want a man who is passionate and caring, strong and silent, who knows about the world and who his elected officials are - who is committed to making a difference in his community and who is committed to me. I heard that women want men with tons of money - I can earn my own money and buy my own coffee/dinner. I am happy to split the cheque on most occasions, but at the present time, find myself working part time due to the economy. This is but for a season.

What I do know is that I know exactly what I am seeking in a man - I get men on a very fundamental level - which comes not only from having raised 3 sons, but also from the amazing men I am privileged to know intimately - and not in the biblical sense - the two Jim's, Dan and John, Les, Clark, Gordon, Alex, Blaine, Scott and my favorite guy on the planet - for the most part, these men are gay, but that is not what makes them amazing - what makes them amazing is that they know that for years, I was married to a gay man and am therefore not a threat to them, as I am their ally. They are as real as they dare to be with me. I meet them exactly where they are - no expectations, no assumptions.

I love keeping it real.

Anything Europe does, I love it - yes, I do have some biases.


This amazing story showed up on the Times blogs today.

It speaks of the different countries in Europe and how they are managing their respective workforces during times of an economic downturn. Contrary to their American confreres, they are not laying off, they are putting workers on shorter work weeks or furloughs, as in the case of my brother in law who works for Ford Motor Company. Of course, he would rather work his regular hours and have a full paycheck, but in this case, 1/2 a paycheck is better than no paycheck at all.

Last week, I was visiting with a coworker - we chatted briefly about our respective families and then he said something that was quite remarkable - he was glad that his family was all employed. It was said so simply and with a sense of reverence, even deep gratitude.

I mused over his reaction and comment for the rest of the week and shared the story with another coworker today. Ironically, we have had a few layoffs where I work in recent weeks and the mood has been quite sombre, morose, even and certainly not without great duress, given the nature of having to lay people off.

In the case of the small non profit where I work, having those individuals remain even on a part time basis was simply not feasible. The monies are running out and in a few short years, the organization will likely cease to exist, short of some extraordinary fundraising efforts. Granted, every effort is being made to see that the closure does not come, hence the laying off of two staffers.

That stated, what if we in America would look to our European counterparts for guidance - shorter work weeks, job sharing, longer vacation times, etc.

If you read the article whereof I speak, you will be perhaps surprised as I to find that of those who have been laid off in this countryin the last 12 months, 6 in 10 workers have not received any unemployment benefits.

It is time to rethink how we work in this country - Utah is leading the charge - the governor implemented a 4 day work week some months ago, to save on gas prices. Other states should follow suit.


I admit it - I am a news junkie - CNN, MSNBC, anything but Fix News.

I have to know what is going on at all times - my mobile phone has alerts and browsing capabilities, I check emails to get Washington Post and NYTimes updates constantly - I check CNN all the time and read as many online publications and print news journals and watch news journal shows when I possibly can. I am addicted to news and have to know what is going on all over the world whenever I can.

Today I got a dose of reality when I happened upon the good news network www.gnn.com

Please check it out at least once a day, or in my case - at least as often as you check out the OTHER news - there is so much bad stuff out there, one could become abysmally depressed.

Thanks for entertaining a new site.

The struggle for gay marriage continues, but another nod comes from the amazing Mayor Mike Bloomberg of New York - go Mike!

Last week, at the annual NYC LGBT dinner gala, Mayor Bloomberg again endorsed gay marriage.

The story ran on the AP on March 26th - here it is - it is brief, so I am posting it in its entirety:

"Mayor Michael Bloomberg is reaffirming his support for legalizing gay marriage.
The mayor told an audience Wednesday night that he will again ask state lawmakers to allow gay couples to tie the knot in New York. But he doesn't know whether Albany is ready to support such a measure.

Mr. Bloomberg made the remarks at an annual dinner of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center.

He says the tide of public opinion is turning in support of gay marriage. Mr. Bloomberg offered to testify in favor of any bill considered in the capital.

The statement came less than a week after New York Sen. Charles Schumer appeared to reverse course in his views on gay marriage, saying no group should be deprived of equality."

This story is heartening for those of us who have been in the trenches, fighting alongside our gay brothers and sisters for equal rights - if Charles Shumer can have a change of heart, what is next? Are we really ready to have this debate in Albany?

New York runs red and blue and the further upstate one goes, the bluer it gets - It was to be a goal of Governor Patterson to address the inequities in GLBT relationships vis-a-vis gay marriage, but after realizing what a hot button issue it was, it was decided by the powers that be to table the issue until they were more sure that he would be elected outright. That is still to be determined. What we do know is that gay rights are civil rights and equal rights should go to everyone.

I was a member of the amazing group Equality Utah for several years during my sojourn in the Rockies - every year, I would watch aghast as hateful legislation was brought forth against my gay friends - denying the right for domestic partner benefits, health insurance and other such issues were routinely targeted.

I have written of being a former political appointee of the mayor of Salt Lake City - often I am asked of my proudest moments during my tenure - by far, the Winter 2002 Olympic Games were my proudest moment and the next proudest moment was when the mayor signed an executive order relative to domestic partnerships, indicating that all city employees should be entitled to them as GLBT persons. I was truly proud of the mayor on that day as I stood behind him in his ornate conference room - surrounded by leaders, friends and allies of the gay rights movement in Utah - yes - there is one of them in Utah - it is not as advanced as what we have in New York or California, but it is there nonetheless.

I continue to speak for my brothers and sisters of the GLBT community - that they will be heard, that they will get the rights that we in the straight community take for granted - may that day come soon and may we never take it for granted that there but for the grace of God go all of us - women, people of color and other minorities - we are in this struggle together.

Equal is right - and remember - injustice to one is an injustice to all of us.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Zeal for battle over bonuses waning in Washington

This story posted on AOL just about an hour ago.

As it happens, after all the moaning, groaning, whining and grandstanding of recent weeks, the powers that be (Congress) have now decided that we need those at the helms of large financial entities on our side, in order to release funds to Joe citizen to get the economy moving again. It is truly a matter of which came first - the chicken or the egg, or we all need each other to get along - take your pick.

I would have liked to see some appropriate penalties levied against AIG staffers for their grossly inflated and inappropriately timed bonuses, but apparently I am not going to see that in my lifetime. What we have all learned is a great deal - we are surely more aware of golden parachutes, stock options, corporate jets and most of all - bailout monies, who gets them and what is done with them.

In a recent conversation with an employee at UBS, he shared that he too had received a bonus that he did not want to see taxed - granted, his monies came from Switzerland, but I can't imagine that country has money to throw away any more than ours does at this time - speaking for taxpayers. It has become a debacle, a boondoggle, a tar baby that no-one knows quite how to handle - almost like the out-of-control preschooler having a tantrum in the grocery store - the parents are afraid to say anything for fear of sounding harsh - onlookers fear the wrath of the parents, and so, nothing is said at all.

Here is the link to the story if you can stomach it - I suppose it makes sense in the end, but it is a disappointing ending - I had surely hoped for a much different outcome. http://money.aol.com/news/articles/_a/bbdp/zeal-for-battle-over-bonuses-waning-in/398150

The Obama's get up close and personal in D.C.

This posted on AOL earlier today: Could It Really Be Him? Yeah, Probably
"The Obamas’ out-and-about style has Washington, D.C., residents asking each other: Have you bumped into your president and first lady yet?"

Can you imagine such a thing? You are out at a basketball game and see the President sipping a beer during half time - you are out dining and find the First Couple entering your favorite restaurant - you are at the ballet or theater and find the First Family enjoying an evening of ballet or the Alvin Ailey dancers. For years, the First Family has lived behind a shroud - even the gregarious Clintons were not as outgoing as the Obamas - that is what makes this story so likeable.

We are in the midst of a world economic crisis, fighting two wars, unemployment is at a 26 year high and still the First Family finds time to get out into their neighborhood.

I read the story and was reminded again of why I relate with this couple so well. Whenever I move, that's one of the first things I do - find a favorite coffee place, restaurant, theater - get out and meet my neighbors - that is exactly what they are doing - we should all be proud that they are setting an example for the rest of us - we are surely in a quagmire, but we will not always be - when the good times roll again - we will be thankful for our local coffee shops, restaurants, friends to hang out with (whom we have hopefully not forsaken during these times of hardship anyway). The Obamas have what we all should be striving for - life balance.

Here is the link to the story - happy reading: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/26/fashion/26washington.html?nl=pol&emc=polb1

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bus driver delivers free home cooked meals

This is an amazing story about being our brother's keeper. I just found this story on CNN and was amazed. This individual makes about $700 a week and is from Colombia originally. For a living, he drives a school bus. In 2004, a friend told him about the amount of food that was being thrown away regularly where he worked and he decided to do something about it.

He began by simply delivering lunches to men in need and over time, it transformed into something much larger. Here is an excerpt from the story: "Munoz began his unorthodox meal program -- now his nonprofit, An Angel in Queens -- in the summer of 2004. Friends told him about large amounts of food being thrown away at their jobs. At first, he collected leftovers from local businesses and handed out brown bag lunches to underprivileged men three nights a week. Within a few months, Munoz and his mother were preparing 20 home-cooked meals daily."

Please read the story in its entirety - it will warm your heart and might even inspire you to do something as we try to make it through this most difficult time in which we find ourselves.

Here is the link to the story: http://www.cnn.com/2009/LIVING/03/19/cnnheroes.jorge.munoz/index.html

Recidivism and the cure for it

I recently took a trip upstate to Ossining. I went to the infamous prison Sing Sing for a tour. The tour leader was an intelligent and engaging young man by the name of Sean Pica. He is a remarkable man - a former inmate who is now the executive director of the amazing Hudson Link - a partnership with Mercy College and Sing Sing inmates to use education as a link in the chain that keeps inmates from sliding towards recidivism upon release from state's custody - those figures (for recidivists) are somewhere near 60% as I recall.

I thought I had a vague idea of what to expect at the facility. I was wrong. It was a much colder and harsher environment than even I had envisioned. We were a group of about 15 on the tour on that cold Monday evening. The cold made even more bitter with the frigid wind whistling off the Hudson river. I was truly not prepared for the way I would feel once those heavy gates slammed shut behind our group.

We were, of course, with a guard at all times - counted every time we went through another locked area or cell block. We kept ourselves together as instructed, always keeping to the right like the prisoners are trained to do. One group of inmates in cell block A was watching the news and did not seem to mind the intrusion on their private life. One inmate even showed us the inside of his small cell - he had tried to make it seem like "home" - a man can spend a lot of years in Sing Sing - some are lifers - we didn't meet any of those.

The highlight of the evening was a presentation about the previously noted Hudson Link program. It is a truly amazing collaboration between Mercy College and certain inmates at Sing Sing - whereby inmates (carefully selected based on behavior and academics) are given the opportunity to receive a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Management. Amazingly, not a single former inmate has returned to prison after going through this program - not a single one! Those are statistics that should not be taken lightly, given that again - some 60% or more of inmates will become repeat offendors and return to prison at some time after being released from Department of Corrections rolls.

You can call Sean directly if you would like to have him schedule a tour for a group, or even come and speak to a group with which you are affiliated - you can reach him at 914.941.0794, or if you would like to donate a specific amount of monies - $3000 is the cost of one complete course - $300 is the cost of textbooks for a semester - $100 is the cost of the commencement fee, cap and gown per student and supplies and dictionaries for new students is $50.

You can view more information about this amazing program via their website. www.hudsonlink.org

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Eliot Spitzer returns to the public eye

I was, as many New Yorkers, shocked, humiliated and embarassed by the prostitution debacle that brought down our amazing Governor, Eliot Spitzer last year.

In the meantime, he has bowed out of public life and spent time away with his wife and three daughters. He has earned their forgiveness for his acts and seems to be contrite and much wiser for having had the unimaginable experiences that thrust him into the butt of late night jokes, water cooler gossip and the like for many weeks last year.

I was most impressed with him today as I watched him interviewed by the competent Fareed Zakharia on CNN's GPS show this afternoon. He was the Eliot Spitzer I admired from years ago as Attorney General of New York - intellectually stimulating, articulate, knowledgeable and amazingly direct and candid in his responses.

He had some remarkable insight into the AIG mess, based on his prosecuting the company some years ago whilst still serving as AG. That he had such insight reminded me of why it is that I miss him, particularly these days when his successor seems to be stumbling along in finding his way as Governor of New York.

Some might question Eliot's qualification or even his ability to speak of the bad behavior of the folks at AIG, but his countenance and answers today led me to believe that he is a different man than he was over a year ago - he no longer appears to be quite as cocky, if that is the right word - he appears somewhat humbled and definitely has learned from his own missteps. He has every right as a private citizen, and certainly as a sometime columnist for Slate Magazine to speak out on issues that concern him - in fact, it would appear that his years of experience have qualified him most eminently for same.

I wish him the very best in his endeavors and hope that the American public will be kind to him as he carefully treads his way back into the public eye. After all, there but for the grace of God, go we all.......

Saturday, March 21, 2009

March madness - a woman's point of view

I love NCAA basketball. I live and breathe the game during March each year.

I was a one time assistant coach on one of my sons' basketball teams when we lived in Utah - Junior Jazz, they called the teams back them. Still do, as far as I know.

My love affair with basketball began with the one and only Rick Pitino - OMG - he is sizzlingly hot - as in GQ, mui caliente and anything else I can think of to describe this man with whom I have had a one-sided love affair for some two decades. We were living in Kentucky, where basketball is life - it is the only thing to live for - okay, okay - there is the Kentucky derby, horsebreeding and some other minor league sports, but NCAA basketball, specifically the rivalry between Pitino's now Louisville Cardinals and then Kentucky Wildcats. There was nothing else to do, but learn to love the game.

I would watch with my then husband and our three sons - we would schlep all over Kentucky as my husband coached church basketball teams - young men up until the age of 18 - he was still playing on adult leagues himself at the time, but we loved it! Saturdays were basketball days. We would pile into the car and drive from tournament to tournament.

When we did not have games to visit, we piled onto the bed in the master bedroom and watched NCAA games - it was a thrilling time!

Rick Pitino went on to coach the Knicks and Celtics and has done amazing things for basketball - indeed, he is the only NCAA coach to lead 3 different schools to the NCAA Final Four - all that and hotter than hell too!

Let's not stop there - we have the amazing GQ esque Pat Riley and a host of other NCAA and NBA coaches.

As I stated in my bio of this blog when I began blogging over a year ago - hot men are in abundance in New York, but hotter men are found all in one place during March Madness!

Long live basketball!

Should the United States ban a Japanese "rape simulator" game?

This headline is from Slate Magazine posted on March 9. The well-written story comes to us courtesy of Leigh Alexander.

I have been a friend of the ACLU for many years, but every now and again, I find myself penned into a corner, such as at the subject matter of this story. I am a passionate advocate of free speech and would never presume to tell anyone what to do or think, with the exception of my 4 amazing sons, and even now, as they are older, trust that I have laid a foundation for them to make wise choices for themselves in their post adolescent and now college years.

A rape simulator game defies all comprehension. Here is an excerpt from the story: "The last couple of years haven't been as fruitful for video game scolds. Jack Thompson, the longtime face of the anti-game-violence movement, was recently banned from practicing law in Florida. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals just ruled that a California law banning the sale of violent video games to minors was unconstitutional. There is a Wii in the White House. With America's pro-gaming forces gathering strength, crusading politicians must now journey beyond our shores to find games to rail against. Enter New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who has joined with the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault in calling for a stateside ban of a Japanese "rape simulator" game called RapeLay."

Here is the link to the entire post: http://www.slate.com/id/2213073/pagenum/all/#p2. I must confess, I ordinarily read an entire story before posting, but in this instance, became quite disgusted at the level that ordinary Japanese men are going to commit rape, even suggesting appropriate trains and timetables for the best case scenarios.

Granted, anything is available online, including this smut, but what message are we trying to send? Is it really ok to glorify violence against women?

I am behind Christine Quinn and will send a strongly worded email to Mayor Bloomberg indicating that we should go to any lengths legally possible to keep such a scourge from our wonderful city of New York.

The US Post Office - a few years behind the proverbial 8 ball

Why on earth has it taken so long for the powers that be to acknowledge that the US public has changed the way it does business?

Telephone companies have recognized that many of us no longer use land lines. With mobile phones and wireless Internet being the most commonly used forms of communication for voice and Internet, home phones are all but extinct.

Finally, the US Post Office is reviewing their pricing, Saturday deliveries, having employees opt for early retirement and closing some unnecessary facilities. We have all seen the writing on the wall for years now. What on earth took them so long at the US Post Office?

For far too long now, the Post Office has arbitrarily raised prices on stamps and other services, all without improving services except in minute instances - for too long, they have held the American public hostage with their lock on delivering the mail. Well, we have outsmarted them - we have figured out how to e-pay, phone-pay and block our junk mail - I am pleasantly surprised and truthfully, happy, when I hear my personal mail carrier in our office, comment at how the Post Office is going out of business. I won't miss the junk mail, the arbitrary price gouging, the union grievances and all that has come to symbolize the Post Office.

Good riddance to poor management on any level and in any organization, even if you THINK you have automony. There are lessons to be learned here for many.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Former AIG head denies he started executive bonuses

It is beginning to sound like a game of "Who's on First?" I have no idea when that show started - I have never seen it, but in my 20 years of living in America, have had it quoted to me enough that I know vaguely how it works........enough said. I think you get the point.

"I started it - no - he did - no - she did - no you did!" Is this a squabble between preschoolers? No, these would be AIG employees, former and present, who are trying desperately to distance themselves from the bonus debacle that has Americans from all socioeconomic groups outraged, to say the very least.

The entirety of the story can be read here: http://money.aol.com/news/articles/_a/bbdp/former-aig-head-denies-he-started-exec/390945

Again, let me refresh your memories, dear readers - AIG received millions of dollars ($173 billion to be precise) in federal funds for a bailout - they were, we were told, too large to fail - and now we hear that those who essentially ran the company into the ground did not only that, but managed to get some $160+ million in bonuses - all this for "doing a heckuva job" - where have I heard that before?

I hate to sound like a scratched record, but as a taxpayer and part owner of AIG, I want those bonuses paid back - all of them - in their entirety and sooner rather than later and I really don't care how we go about doing it. If there are no laws in place to address such grievances, then let the Attorney General Eric Holder see about getting some written and forthwith! Am I angry about this? I can't remember the last time I was so heated about an issue I was blogging about.

Is it time to bring Eliot Spitzer back? He originally brought the misdeeds of AIG executives to light before his call girl shenanigans.

Obamas plant organic garden

It was in days gone by - the Victory Garden from World War II. The First Lady, Michelle Obama and her children, along with students from a local elementary school planted an organic garden at the White House.

What a wonderful role model and example for the nation to follow.

We are in difficult times economically and financially - planting organic gardens and community gardens is one way to bridge the gap between income and outgo for many families. This is a way for families and neighbors to come together - to help one another, to get to know each other and to draw closer as we work together to help the country climb out of this quagmire.

The story can be read in its entirety on CNN today. Here is the link: http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/03/20/white.house.garden/index.html

I love the concept of doing as I do and not just as I say.

An unfortunate choice of words

Well folks, it had to happen and happen it did.

Yours truly - the untouchable and beloved 44th President of our country - yes - that would be President Obama - has managed to offend a group of citizens around the world - including moi.

It appears that last evening, on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the President bemoaned his abysmal bowling scores while practicing his craft at the White House bowling alley - you might recall it was the one and only gaffe of his campaign - he then likened them - his bowling scores, that is, to the "Special Olympics." It was a most unfortunate poor choice of words.

Aboard his aircraft and before the show even aired last evening, he was on the phone to the head of Special Olympics to apologize for the gaffe, or should we say faux pas.

I have a disability - I don't have a bandage, walk with a limp, use a cane or other walking aid, but it is a serious intellectual disability nonetheless. President Obama should know that his words will be even more closely scrutinized at his level of office.

We as a nation and a world should stop finding fault and making jokes about "those people" - whoever the "undesirables du jour" happen to be.

It was good and right that he apologize - I hope that he spoke with his children about the error of his verbiage.

Enough said.

Apparently not - in a twist of fate, the following story posted on my mobile device in the wee hours on CNN today:

An unexpected and sudden spotlight on the Special Olympics, an organization that for more than 40 years has served and honored those with intellectual disabilities, comes less than two weeks before the nonprofit launches a new campaign: Spread the Word to the End the Word.March 31 is being billed a "national day of awareness," a call to Americans to recognize and rethink their use of the word "retard," or as the organization would prefer, the "R-word.""Most people don't think of this word as hate speech, but that's exactly what it feels like to millions of people with intellectual disabilities, their families and friends," a statement about the campaign reads. "This word is just as cruel and offensive as any other slur."The push for increased respect is being spearheaded by young people who are collecting pledges or vows to not use the word at http://www.r-word.org/, and are leading online discussions on how people can get involved in this cause.

So far, across the country, 300 schools have already committed to hosting rallies on March 31, Special Olympics President and CEO J. Brady Lum said. An aggressive print and online campaign, targeting people ages 18 to 30, will follow, said Kirsten Suto Seckler, who directs the organization's global brand marketing and awareness. The ads designed by BBDO New York, will challenge the public -- with language meant to raise eyebrows -- to think about the issue more deeply.

The campaign uses slurs against Asians, homosexuals, Jews and African-Americans to make the point that language can be harmful to all groups, including people with intellectual disabilities. Attention on the Special Olympics skyrocketed Thursday when, in a quick and clearly unscripted moment, President Obama exhibited the power of words during his history-making visit with Jay Leno.While joking on The Tonight Show about his bowling prowess (during last year's campaign trail he shamefully scored 37 in a game), Obama said he'd been practicing at the White House.He told Leno that he bowled 129 in the White House bowling alley and said his bowling skills are "like Special Olympics or something."

The comment during the taping of the show prompted Obama to pick up the phone on Air Force One and call Special Olympics Chairman Timothy Shriver to preemptively apologize for the remark before it hit television screens. He also reportedly invited Special Olympic athletes to Pennsylvania Avenue to hit the lanes and give him tips or shoot some hoops. The president "expressed his heartfelt and sincere commitment to work with our athletes and make this country a more accepting place for people with special needs," Lum, the organization's president, said.What Obama said on The Tonight Show adds to the discussion that's needed to raise awareness and has proven "an incredibly important and seriously teachable moment," Lum said. From playgrounds to the "top rungs of our leadership, including our president," he said Americans have plenty to talk about and learn when it comes to stereotypes and how words can sting.

And from this person with an intellectual disability - I say to all of us - don't use those words - not in jest, not in context, not out of context, or even unthinkingly - we are all lesser persons when we do not understand our fellow human beings, no matter our differences

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Congress looking at huge taxes on AIG

http://news.aol.com/article/congress-looking-at-huge-taxes-on-aig/386132 That is the link to the story posted earlier on the AP news wire.

AIG has become the proverbial tar baby of this economic fallout - huge bonuses, stock options, private jets and golden parachutes are commonplace, and the taxpaying public has decided - enough!

Congress is now looking to levy huge taxes on those at AIG who received the bonuses. Had I my druthers, I would like NY's AG Andrew Cuomo to "out" those rascals and publish their names in the Wall Street Journal or NY Times for all the world to see exactly where their wrath should be directed.

Please don't misunderstand - I am not against bonuses per se, certainly not those linked to performance, but in this case, not only did these executives pretty much run AIG into the ground, but the American public has bailed out AIG to a tune of significant proportions (more than $170 million) and I do not think that now is the time for any of the executives to dig deeper into the proverbial pot, particularly given the country's financial woes, and given that some of the workers are no longer still employed by the company.

I also particularly liked the following two quotes from prominent Democrats: "One way or another, we're going to try to figure out how to get these resources back," said Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., the panel's chairman.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said AIG executives "need to understand that the only reason they even have a job is because of the taxpayers."

It is again, important to note that the taxpayers - yes, that's you, me and all the rest of the working public - out there - bailed out AIG before and we, the American public own about 80% of AIG.

I am with Harry Reid on this one - tax them to the hilt on those bonuses!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Army fired 11 soldiers in January for being gay

"Don't ask, don't tell."

Many of us are familiar with the verbiage - we are, however not necessarily familiar with the concept behind it.

Here is an excerpt from the story, but as always, I encourage you to check out the link and see the story in its entirety as posted on AOL earlier today: http://news.aol.com/article/army-fired-11-soldiers-in-jan-as-openly/380286

Denying ones sexuality, not engaging in homosexuality or gasp - trying to get married. Can you imagine the fallout amongst hetorosexuals were they to be told that for 20 years of their military career, they could not be true to themselves, literally denying their very essence for the sake of political expediency?

For years, women struggled and fought alongside men for the right to be seen as something other than property in order to achieve the right to vote. For years, blacks and whites marched in civil disobedience so that slaves could be free and so that blacks would have the right to vote.

The Gay issue is the civil rights issue of our times - we all know someone - a friend, a family member or even a co worker who is gay - at times like these, we need to stand tall - write to your elected official and tell them enough of this - no more firing good and decent men and women from the armed services simply for daring to be openly gay!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Violence among men

On a day when President Obama has introduced a council on women and girls, we reflect on the recent shootings that have taken place around the globe - Students massacred in their high school in Germany, British soldiers, senselessly murdered by IRA terrorists, the minister shot before his beloved flock in Illinois over the weekend, and the unspeakable mass shooting in Alabama yesterday where at least one small child was killed and another awaits serious surgery to remove a bullet from near an artery according to news reports.

These shootings took place all over the world and yet they were all perpetrated by men. Why are men more prone to kill so violently and so many at one time?

We should call for a day of prayer where we can abstain from the senseless violence that has overpowered the world - we need peace at a time when we celebrate the one who brought peace - Easter and Passover being the holiest of holidays for so many of us. Easter vigils and Passover Seders are going to be held in upcoming weeks and we would all do well to remember how fortunate we are to be alive in this frenetic world in which we live.

Comments are welcome - particularly from men who have strong opinions on what I have written.

Obama's council on women and girls

It is hardly surprising that this forward thinking, raised by a single mother mostly and revered by his maternal grandmother who also helped to raise him for a few years - a man surrounded by Sasha and Malia and the wonderful Michele.....has come upon this amazing idea.

Women and girls have long been overlooked with regard to policy in this country - from discrepencies around birth control and other health care concerns to savage inequities in pay.

I am so proud of his nominating Kathleen Sibelius to be HHS and believe that she will do an outstanding job of representing women and girls and yes - even the often over-represented men of this country.

We women have taken a back seat for so very long - we have struggled with earning less than our cohorts, whether that be at a discount store or at the upper echelons of management - women have always earned considerably less than their peers - this is ending with the introduction of the equal pay legislation "Ledbetter act" that was passed shortly after Obama's swearing in as the new President in January.

What can we do? Read the article, of course : It can be found here in the NY Times magazine/blog Motherlode: http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/11/obamas-council-on-women-and-girls/?hp

Yes, we have come a long way, but we have still further to go yet. We need to continue to hold our elected officials accountable when it comes to things like maternity leave, healthcare, work-life-balance, family planning options and the list goes on.