Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sanford should stay, two top South Carolina papers say

Well, well, well. Eliot Spitzer resigned from being Governor of New York over his prostitution scandal - adultery is adultery, whether with a mistress or a prostitute, the violation of marital covenants is something that most would frown upon, our over 50% of adulterous marriages notwithstanding.

I really think that Governor Sanford should follow Spitzer on this one. He broke the law, and for those of their state's residents serving in the service, that is tantamount to "conduct unbecoming an officer." We cannot have double standards for politicians who are sworn to uphold the law, particularly as it relates to members of the military.

Lt. Dan Choi is going to be on trial tomorrow for openly admitting to being gay. The same laws that are forcing him to be truthful about his sexual orientation should be the same laws used to judge the politicians who create the laws.

Sanford left the state, even the country, after spinning a tale of being alone hiking on the Appalachian Trail, when he was in fact in Argentina, with his mistress. What message does that send to his impressionable sons? Men everywhere, in fact?

I am surprised, although not entirely - to see that two of South Carolina's largest dailies are calling for him to remain in office. If he would lie to his wife and staff about his whereabouts in order to cover up an affair, what else would he do or not do?

Here is the link to the story - feedback appreciated: http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sanford's wife: "His career is not a concern of mine."

Finally, one of these powerful political allies/wives is standing up and not standing by her man. I have watched the wives of Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Eliot Spitzer, Rudolph Giuliani and countless others stand by their men during press conferences, professing forgiveness and yet appearing humiliated.

Sanford's wife is having none of it: She had a promising career on Wall Street prior to marrying him and professed recently that she and their children will be just fine, his philandering notwithstanding.

I am not telling anyone not to forgive a wayward spouse, I have, after all experienced adultery and forgiveness myself of a fashion - long story - What I am saying is that a woman or man who has been wronged deserves time to lick their wounds and heal from the onslaught of lies, betrayal and the inevitable glare of media cameras in the cases of those mentioned in this story.

Jenny Sanford is a strong woman in her own right - hell, maybe if they impeach him, they should nominate her to fill his time left in office - she has my support.

Farewell to the King of Pop

For my regular readers, you are well aware of my love of all things technical, including my new mobile device. It is from Sprint and is pink with flowers - a far cry from the other mobile devices and telephones I have used in the past - I can't help it - I love being a girl!

I was at lunch with a couple of friends yesterday and we had the usual discussion around work, family, gay issues and religion - great wine and conversation to be sure.

I came home and opted not to turn the computer on, instead fixing a supper of pasta salad and some really good wine. How is it that I am so connected and yet unconnected at times? Suffice it to say, I did not get the news of the King's passing from my mobile device, but from across the pond.

The call came from my sister in England - Michael Jackson was dead. How could this be? He was only 50 years old. She spoke with my mum - visibly upset and very teary. My 4 sisters and I grew up listening to the Jackson 5 - the Osmonds were peripheral, but the Jacksons were a HUGE influence on our family - from the music, to the clothes, to the fact that they were 5 siblings growing up together.

It would appear that not only was his death untimely, the cardiac arrest might have come about due to abuse of prescriptions according to his attorney and close family friend. It is a sad time for all of us - he was to begin a 50 locatino concert tour next month.

Farewell, Michael - you will be missed

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

NCY Teachers Paid to do Nothing

I wrote yesterday about the New York teachers' union wanting to have more influence over charter schools. I worried about this effort on a couple of levels - mostly the unrighteous dominion one.

A story on the AP wire about NY teachers who are under investigation caused me consternation. I recognize that teachers have a right to be heard and to keep their jobs and therefore their salaries whilst under investigation, but can't help but think that their time is better spent in administrative functions, like some 60% of those polled.

It is apparently in their contracts that they keep their jobs, and do nothing else whilst under investigation - even police officer accused of misconduct are assigned to desk jobs - what a colossal waste of taxpayer monies.

Here is the link to the story: http://news.aol.com/article/nyc-teachers-paid-to-do-nothing/538142?icid=mainmaindl1link3http%3A%2F%2Fnews.aol.com%2Farticle%2Fnyc-teachers-paid-to-do-nothing%2F538142

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Unions seek bigger role in charter schools

I was a parent volunteer for years when my 3 sons were younger. I also taught preschool in Kentucky for two years. As a former educator and school volunteer, education reform has been close to my heart for a very long time. I was blessed to attend St. Luke's - a wonderful parochial school in London - I then attended a private girls' school: Silverthorne. My education made me the person I am today. While I have yet to complete my college education, (I was busy being a full time mum to my 3 sons at the time and then was a single parent raising 3 sons for 10 years) and taught preschool while their dad went to college, I know that a strong foundation in life begins with a good education. My children were blessed to attend a private preschool and my oldest continued in that tradition up until 1st grade.

Charter schools offer parents choices. Schools of choice are a crucial component in parenting of children who learn in a non-traditional way. I have one, perhaps two of those in my 4 sons. Two of them went to alternative high schools and one has since graduated and will attend University in the fall. The other will obtain his GED, a few years later than he should have - keep up the great work, Kyle. Kyle is 21 and is presently reading some 2-4 books a week in order to keep his mind sharp.

I am not against unions, as I have stated previously. I am against the unrighteous dominion that permeates them at times.

An AP story this morning indicates that unions here in New York are seeking a bigger role in charter schools. My question is: Do they seek to improve working conditions of teachers in those schools or are they merely looking for exhorbitant and arbitrary union dues?

Read the story and judge for yourself: http://news.aol.com/article/unions-seek-bigger-role-in-charter/538223

A story about gay allies

I share the following poignant and timely story from an associate and gay rights champion, Carol Lynn Pearson. You can visit her online at: http://www.clpearson.com/

"TALK! SING! LOVE! A number of weeks ago I received a phone message from a very faithful LDS woman I had attended church with for years, Diana Jones. (Diana gave me permission to tell this story using her name.) "Hi, Carol Lynn. I wonder if you'd let me come over and visit with you. I'd like for us to talk." My heart sank. Oh, no, I thought, Diana wants to bear her testimony to me that if we just follow what we're told on issues of homosexuality, all will be well; I love Diana and I don't want to have that conversation with her.

I didn't return the phone call for several days. Then I thought, This is rude--I've got to call her back. So I did. "Hi, Diana! I hear you want to talk with me. I'll be glad to have a visit, but there are two things I do n't want to talk about. One is the church and the other is proposition 8. I'm guessing that takes away your reason for wanting to talk to me."

"Well--maybe," she said hesitantly, "but let me just tell you what I've been thinking. As you know, I sing in this semi-professional chorale for women, and I've learned that a number of the women are lesbians. I've gotten to know several of them and I just love them so much! I saw the pain they experienced last fall around prop eight and everything, and I thought--this is not okay--there has to be a better way. Last weekend we had a retreat for the chorus and two of my lesbian friends and I sat up in our pajamas half the night just talking, talking, talking. I told them about you and your work and asked if they'd be interested in meeting you. They said, yes, they would love to meet you. So--that's why I was calling, Carol Lynn, to see if you might be willing to spend an evening with me and my lesbian friends and just talk."

"Diana!" I laughed. "I would be thrilled to talk with you and your lesbian friends!" And so a couple of weeks later, five of us met at Diana's. We ate her good chicken soup and talked and talked and talked. Allie, who last summer married her partner and with her is raising two little boys, said, "It's amazing--the most conservative thing the gay community has ever done is the thing that has caused the most outrage--our wanting to marry." There were tears, there was laughter, there was love. All of us left thrilled at our conversation and determined to meet again, which we have done.

A couple of nights ago I went with Diana to hear their chorale perform in the chapel on the campus of nearby St. Mary's College. Stunningly gorgeous pieces sung by straight women and gay women, their beautiful voices blending into one.

Behind the singers in their soft green blouses and black skirts was some marble statuary: Jesus on the cross, and above that--a resurrected Christ with his arms out. I loved looking at the two art pieces as I listened to the women sing. A Course in Miracles tells me, "Each day, each hour and minute, even every second, you are deciding between the crucifixion and the resurrection."

Our human family has had such a struggle deciding to give one another life instead of death. We have made progress, become more sensitive on many issues. At this moment in history, the question of how we respond to our gay brothers and sisters is before us. Do we wish for them crucifixion or resurrection? Are we prepared in our hearts to give them life or to give them death?

The massive human chorus of which God is the director needs, I believe, all of our voices."

You can also read, "Goodbye, I love you" by Carol Lynn Pearson - the deeply moving story of her saying goodbye to her former husband, as she took him into her home after the divorce and nurses him in preparation for his death from AIDS.

Carol is a phenomenal woman and one whom I was blessed to meet during my stay in Utah.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Tough choices for a mum in New York

We have made amazing strides with reproductive rights for women in the United States.

In New York State, if a woman leaves a baby at a police station or a hospital within 5 days of giving birth, she will not face criminal charges.

Last evening, a desperate new mother left her newborn baby in an apartment building in Hempstead New York. I cannot begin to comprehend what she must have been feeling, leaving her precious baby behind for strangers to take care of.

I am not going to second guess this poor woman - she is going to spend her life beating herself up over this one.

It is sad that she felt she had no other choice but this, and even sadder that she will now be hunted and face charges for her "crime" - maybe she has had a bad experience with authority figures, maybe even been arrested - we all know that police stations and hospitals are equipped with security cameras.

I pray for her and her wellbeing - I hope that she can dodge this bullet - she has suffered enough.

Albany shenanigans part 2

It is unfortunate that the Governor of New York does not have executive powers that would affectively address the coup that recently took place in the Senate of New York.

That said, he is fully cognizant of the fact that there are some 42 bills left unattended during this debacle. He has grown weary, as have many of us. Today, he is compelling the Senate into an emergency session and will do so every day, including holidays and weekends until they address these bills.

As a former political appointee, confessed political junkie and now a political consultant, I have watched these events unfold and have been inwardly hoping that the Governor would find a way to compell these slothful servants - well, he has now found the way and woe betide anyone who crosses him now.

Thanks Governor Paterson.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Obama: "We need fathers to step up."

I met an amazing couple on the bus home from the museum - the express bus lends itself more to conversations and getting to know people in a way that other commuting busses don't.

The father gently cradled his 18 month old as she sipped on her bottle. They were heading to Grandma's house. She eyed her father adoringly as he held her in his tender arms. The scene was beautiful and reminded me of happier days with my former husband - before the animosity of the divorce drove a wedge between us that remains unbridged even 10 years later. We struggle greatly to remain civil - differences in parenting styles frequently being a cause for contention.

This beautiful couple defied the odds - both products of divorced parents, highly successful - she an attorney and while I did not ask him of his profession, could tell he was educated, articulate and clearly had something about him that attracted his amazing wife - you can tell a lot about a couple by spending even 30 minutes with them on a bus ride. We exchanged cards and I hope to keep in touch with them.

I am sure they will read the letter to fathers as printed in Parade Magazine today. President Obama is always giving us something to reach for, and while my regular readers will know of my disappoinment with him over gay rights issues of late, I think he has hit this one out of the proverbial ballpark. Here is a link to the story - comments appreciated: http://www.parade.com/export/sites/default/news/2009/06/barack-obama-we-need-fathers-to-step-up.html


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Hate crimes on the rise

An interesting and thought-provoking op-ed piece appeared in the Times this morning. Here is an excerpt: "The Southern Poverty Law Center has reported a resurgence of right-wing hate groups in the U.S. since Mr. Obama was elected president. Gun craziness of all kinds, including the passage of local laws making it easier to own and conceal weapons, is on the rise. Hate-filled Web sites are calling attention to the fact that the U.S. has a black president and that his chief of staff is Jewish."

I reported on this disturbing trend earlier this week - this story gave me yet another moment to pause and reflect on how far we have come and that too many have yet to embrace the change taking place in the country - sweeping change, I might add. I have no time for racists, bigots and anti-semites. I love all of God's children - she created them in her own right and with her own vision. There was room in creation for all ethnicities, races, religions and creeds.

President Obama will likely be the greatest President we will ever know. This is a wonderful thing - he is proud of his ethnic and racial heritage and should not have to excuse that. These haters would likely not have wanted Hillary Clinton to be the first female President either.

We need to pray and send positive thoughts towards the Administration, doing our part in our communitiesto see that justice is upheld and that hate has no room to thrive.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Obama making responsible dads a national priority

President Obama grew up without a father in his life, seeing his father just once after his parents separated at the tender age of 2.

He is now one of the most amazing stories of defeating the odds - Ivy League graduate, attorney and has attained the highest honor in the nation - President of the United States -some might even say - leader of the free world.

As I read his memoir - "Dreams of my Father" I wept and was touched by how much he has been affected by an absent father. I wept for my own father, who left the family home when I was in my early teens - we hardly saw him, except for the occasional weekend visit when he would come to the home, trying to reconcile with my mother.

I remember it as if it were yesterday. I had just returned from a scholarship summer abroad in Germany and was making my way on the bus back to the family home at 76 Tivoli Road in Southeast London. It was a beautiful home, a tree-lined street and neighbors who watched out for each other. I saw my dad pass by on a bus that he did not normally take - he spied me and disembarked, explaining that he had left the family home for good - in other words, he did not plan to return ever. I cried in the middle of the street as he told me the news - they had not wanted to ruin my summer abroad, and had therefore spared me that revelation. Years later, I wish I had known - my sisters had been there for the exodus - it was pretty violent - furniture smashed to smithereens and even the TV screen had been destroyed so that we would not have that form of entertainment - I shall spare you any more details as even now, decades later, it is too painful to go there.

Suffice to say, I was estranged from my father for years thereafter, seeing him once when he came to visit me and my former military husband with a new baby in Germany. I remember getting the call that he was coming. It was a pleasant visit, but the bond between us was irrevocably severed.

I have since reunited with my father, and have often wanted to ask him what was going through his mind as he smashed the beautiful glass and mirrored wall-to-wall closet and shelves and dressing table that he had lovingly created for my mother - he is, after all, a gifted carpenter.

Some things are truly better left unsaid.

I love my father, flaws and imperfections notwithstanding and hope to visit with him and meet his lovely wife in the near future.

Wounds heal with time, but the memories never fade.

I am a strong woman in my own right - a gifted writer and owner of my own consulting firm - not too bad for a girl who grew up sans father in my formative years.

I urge fathers everywhere, particularly black fathers, to heed the words of the President and make time for their children - you might be divorced, never married, or even separated from the mother of your children, but that is no reason for absenting yourself from your children.

Happy Fathers' Day!

The prayer of the righteous in Iran

The "election" is about a week old in Iran and the government crackdown on its citizens, including trying to get them not to use Internet and other services, such as Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites is not working - hah!

I believe in the people of Iran - they have spoken and deserve to see their rightfully elected leader seated. I am sad for the 20 or so deaths that have taken place, as well as the students who have been detained.

This is big, folks - they are trying to quash the will of the people. It is backfiring - Irani citizens and naturalized Irani-Americans are taking to the streets in NYC and DC - they will not go quietly - nor should they. They are determined to see this through to the bitter end.

Governments should represent the people in a democracy - while Iran is in its infancy, a sweeping tide is taking place in that country.

Let us all pray with the people of Iran that their voices are heard and their votes are counted - remember Florida.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Obama to OK benefits for same-sex partners of federal workers

Just recently, I wrote of my disappointment with President Obama over DOMA and other GLBT issues. He has thankfully remembered his promises to GLBT persons over the course of his campaign - even calling himself "a fierce advocate for gay and lesbian Americans."

He is now going to do what Rocky Anderson (former mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah) did - one of my proudest days in his office - sign legislation to extend domestic partner benefits to same sex couples for the city - in Obama's case, for federal workers. This is so encouraging on many levels.

Allies of the GLBT community have long been frustrated with the government's lack of vision concerning our issues. Hate crimes legislation in the name of Matthew Shephard has stalled and DOMA is an accepted fact.

We need to continue to work with our elected officials to ensure that all Americans are treated equally and have access to medical coverage and other benefits that straight people take for granted.

Today the federal government - tomorrow - equality for everyone!

Peace Corps to get a 9% budget increase

Some of the finest people I know have served in the Peace Corps, Jacob, Lex and Ed. Suzanne is headed out this year and Christy is presently serving. They are preschool teachers, special ed teachers, managers, city planners and executive directors of neighborhood organizations respectively. They are phenomenal in their own right and I had the privilege of working with all of them whilst living in Utah.

Last evening, on Hardball MSNBC, I was happy to see an interview with Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins of New York - my senator. She is proposing a 9% increase in funding of this amazing program. It behooves our nation to be more service minded - this will also alleviate anxiety for those who have recently graduated college and have not firm job prospects lined up.

Serving in the Peace Corps is an honor, a calling, even destiny. Senator Cousins is a forward thinking and amazing politician - How is it that I always seem to get the best representation lately?

Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

AG Holder urges new hate crimes law

I lived in Utah as a minority for over 7 years - I was the target of discrimination and racial profiling in spite of serving as an aide to the mayor of Salt Lake City. My sons experienced it frequently and one was even beaten up by someone who called him the "n" word.

Since the election of the nation's first black President, hate crimes against blacks and other minorities are on the rise. Utah and Arizona were among the last states in the nation to pass hate crimes laws. Indeed, the original Utah hate crimes bill championed by Latino Pete Suazo, who died in a tragic ATV accident shortly after I went to work at the Mayor's office and was ultimately brought to fruition by the amazing Legislator, David Litvack is a sadly watered-down version of what the bill needed to be.

Critics of hate crimes legislation contend that there are already laws on the books that are strong enough, but simply need to be enforced. Recent killings would indicate that the punishments for such heinous crimes are simply no deterrent to hatemongers.

Here are some frightening statistics released by a new study as reported by the AP moments ago:
_African-Americans remain by far the most frequent victims of hate crimes. Of the 7,624 hate crime incidents reported nationwide in 2007, the most recent year available, 34 percent were perpetrated against African-Americans.
_In the five years from 2003-2007, the number of hate crimes reported against Hispanics increased nearly 40 percent, from 426 in 2003 to 595 in 2007. Of all hate crimes reported in the United States in 2007, 7.8 percent were committed against Hispanics.
_In 2007, there were 969 reported hate crimes committed against Jews, constituting 12.7 percent of all hate crimes reported and 69 percent of religious bias hate crimes reported.
_Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 2001, the number of hate crimes directed against Arab-Americans, Muslims and Sikhs escalated dramatically. In 2001, those groups were victimized in nearly 5 percent of the total number of hate crimes reported that year, 481 out of 9,730. While the number of reported hate crimes against the groups declined from the peak of 2001, it remains substantially above pre-2001 levels.
_Reported hate crimes committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation increased in 2007 to 1,265, the highest level in five years. Of all hate crimes reported in 2007, the proportion committed against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals rose to 16.6 percent, also the highest level in five years.

Would someone please remind me again why it is that we are debating about whether we need enhanced hate crimes?

A Bad Call on Gay Rights

I knew that eventually there would be issues coming out of the Obama Administration with which I would not agree - frankly, I had not expected that it would be this soon, nor on this subject. Certainly not given what he stated about being a supporter of gay rights on is campaign trail.

In the 1967 Supreme Court case of Loving vs. Virginia, the Court ruled that a mixed (black and white) couple could indeed be married. It is of interest to note that President Obama, with his mixed heritage does not grasp the connection between this aggregious wrong and the fact that his parents would not have been allowed to be married-hell, he might not even have been born.

I am tired of these lame arguments that judges use to defend DOMA - Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I am tired of my gay brothers and sisters who do not have the opportunity to marry- and now, even in those states where they are allowed to marry legally, those unions are not recognized in other states, nor do they have to be, according to the Administration - not in NY, thanks to the wisdom and foresight of Governor David Paterson.

Please take time to read this poignantly written editorial piece from the NY Times today - and then write to the President: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/16/opinion/16tue1.html?_r=1

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Upheaval in Tehran

I had truly hoped and even prayed for a change to come to the Iranian people. They have been ready to be freed from the tyranny of their ruthless leader for a long time. The outcome in this election is eerily reminiscent of GW Bush's stealing the election in Florida in recent years. The parallels of our recent election, with heavy use of texting and other electronic means is interesting.

Thousands of Iranians and their supporters took to the streets of Manhattan yesterday to protest- I would have been among them had I known it was taking place. Sometimes I feel that there are just too many causes and too little time.

I pray that the people of Iran will prevail and that the will of the people will be upheld. I have no solution for same, but truly believe in the power of the people.

There are enough expatriots from Iran/Persia in the US to put pressure on the UN and their politial leaders to get this done.

I wish them all God speed.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Key health care senators have industry ties

This heading should come as no surprise to those of us who have been advocating healthcare reform for years.

I have been sans health insurance for over a year now due to switching jobs and not having the benefit afforded me in my new job. Had Obama been President, I would have been able to afford the COBRA premiums, but that was not the case.

The list of recipients from moderate (Orrin Hatch) to exhorbitant (Senator Chris Dodd's wife) deals handed down from pharmaceutical and healthcare conglomorates is of note.

I suggest you review the list and if you recognize any of the names, send the appropriate communique.

If we are truly to have comprehensive healthcare reform, those with an agenda and/financial interest in same should have no place at the bargaining table.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

GLBT town hall meeting in Westchester

I attended this event last evening for the first time since relocating to Westchester a year and a half ago.

I was happy to see that I recognized a few familiar faces, particularly those whom I had met at Equality and Fairness Day in Albany - a day set aside for GLBT and Allies to lobby.

The evening was amazing - Andrew Spano, the County Executive was there - he spoke of the work of creating the office of GLBT affairs and indicated that he had received no calls or static for doing so. He seems to be a decent man, his large budget notwithstanding.

There were tears and frustration at the open mike as people discussed being able to have domestic partner benefits - what would happen now that the Democrats no longer have a majority in the Senate - would gay marriage ultimately prevail in NY?

I think that the time is coming for NY to recognize this is a civil rights issue, as Governor Paterson so eloquently stated on that day in Albany a few weeks ago - it was at one time appropriate to discriminate against blacks and women and now it is gays - time to stop already!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My missing son

I have four sons - most of you know Ryan, Kyle and Tye - only a select few of you have met Bryce, the youngest.

In 2001, I moved from Michigan to Utah in search of a wonderful new job that would afford me the opportunity to leave welfare and subsidized daycare behind.

I discussed the move at length with my former husband and we agreed that he would follow in 6 months once he had completed a management training program in a retail store where he was working at the time. We also decided - if memory serves, he suggested - that Bryce should stay with his father since I had no daycare lined up yet. It seemed simple enough. I completed the necessary paperwork to apprise the court accordingly and gave it to Dan - it never made it.

Some months later, there was a hearing - it took place in the middle of the day and over the phone, as I was resident in Utah and Dan was in Michigan. I sat in my white Lincoln Continental with my business suit on - inbetween meetings with my job as a political appointee to the mayor of Salt Lake City. It did not occur to me that I would lose. Lose I did.

I have been trying for a week to get his dad to answer the phone so we can set up a week of parenting time in August of this year.

I lost patience and am now doing something I NEVER wanted to do. I am going through the courts to see my son. Parents should not have to be compelled to do the right thing - when they have children, it should come naturally, particularly in the case of Dan, whose newly-created Facebook indicates:
Dan Daley
There is phrase "if you don't know where you are going" any path will take you there. I am very pleased and appreciate all of my friends who have been with me through the good times and bad times. My children mean the world to me, having 4 sons have been the best investment I can imagine and raising Bryce have been the most joy in my life. I appreciate all my church friends who never took sides, you are the best,on Monday.

Well, so much for not taking sides and loving his children - he conveniently forgot to mention that he has done NOTHING to maintain parenting time with me and Bryce, and the others at times, over the years.

The battle lines have been drawn - and not by me!

I still remember how I felt that day in court all those years ago - essentially, they told me I had given up custody by moving out of the state and not filing papers with the court. I remembered my heart being smashed into pieces and not being able to breathe - I put on my brave face and went about my job and no-one ever knew what had happened. I can't believe that I am having to relive this nightmare again.

Ovarian Cancer: Fighting for a Cure

Ovarian Cancer: Fighting for a Cure

A Message From President Obama "My mother died of ovarian cancer at the age of 53, and in those last painful months she was more worried about paying medical bills than getting well. For millions of Americans, my mother's story is all too familiar. That is why we need health-care reform that guarantees affordable coverage for every American who wants it and prevents insurance companies from discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.

Earlier this year, I announced an additional $6 billion investment for cancer research as part of a long-term strategy to combat the disease, and the recovery package includes a two-year infusion of $10 billion for the National Institutes of Health, which funds cancer research. We know this fight will not be easy, but we have gone far too long without necessary reforms of our health-care system. Now is the time to commit ourselves to waging a war against cancer as aggressive as the war cancer wages against us." -- Barack Obama

This is an excerpt found on AOL in a story that will appear in Harper's soon.

The President is absolutely committed to women's health issues and we are lucky to have him and his foresight.

Kennedy health plan includes long term health care

Senator Edward Kennedy is loved and derided at the same time. He is truly one who people love to hate. I happen to not be a fan of his personal follies, but that does not impact his abilities to adequately represent his state as a Senator.

His recent coup with finding a solution to the healthcare crisis (600 pages long) is the piece de la resistance - indeed, it might even just be the coup de grace in a long and distinguished career in the Senate. He is, after all, too sick to preside over the meetings that are on tap in order to consider his proposal.

He has cleverly and with great forethought, managed to include long term health care in the provision - in other words - since he has been diagnosed with cancer, he is more aware of the limitations placed on individuals with disabilities vis-a-vis healthcare and freedom of choice.

I applaud Ted Kennedy for his ambitious efforts to bring some semblance of normalcy to this country's ridiculously beaureaucratic and even cumbersome health insurance.

Here is the link to the story as posted on the AP only moments ago: http://money.aol.com/article/kennedy-health-plan-includes-long-term/507612

Don't ask, don't tell - Op-Ed: A Gay Soldier's Husband

There are some 65,000 gay and lesbian soldiers serving presently. Their lives are no different than those of straight people, except: They cannot marry, they cannot have domestic partner benefits, they cannot come out and live openly gay, or they risk being expelled from the service and the deepest cut of all - they can't be the one to hear the news of whether a loved one serving overseas has not made it.

I just watched this video clip on the NY Times and was moved to tears. Why can't we repeal "Don't ask, don't tell." We had Brown vs. Board of Education and desegregated schools, we gave women the right to vote, we had Loving vs. Virginia and had the supreme court outlaw mysogeny (interracial marriage), so why can't we outlaw discrimination against gays?

I was having this conversation with a family member recently who is opposed to gay marriage - many years ago, a gay friend quoted me something she had seen on a t-shirt which basically stated that gays won't marry straights if they are allowed to marry each other.

For 15 years, I was in a marriage where I was unfulfilled, miserable and desperately lonely. The only things my former husband and I had in common were our deep and abiding faith in the Mormon Church and our four remarkable boys.

The pain and anguish that I felt when he finally came out still cause me to tear up on occasion to this day - I remember telling him - I didn't care that he was gay, but I did care that he lied to me - he was supposed to be my best friend. Those feelings hold true today - we are friends - no longer as close as we were, there has been way too much pain and betrayal, but we maintain a friendship for the sake of our children.

Unless people have been on my side of the equation, they should stop speaking out against gay marriage.

The couple who were so beautifully portrayed in this video are a regular couple (the individual in the military is in Iraq and was not able to be videotaped) - they live in a beautiful home, but when they write letters to ea ch other, they have to censor them and be so careful about whawt they write, lest someone should find out their secret.

It is time to repeal Don't ask, don't tell - it is not working, it is unamerican and unconstitutional.

Administration to issue new Wall Street pay curbs

In an overdue effort to curb insider trading and the debacle that brought the economy to its knees last year, the Obama administration is issuing guidelines for new brokers on Wall Street.

According to an AP story: "Eager to remove incentives that they say contributed to last year's financial crisis, President Barack Obama's economic team plans to unfurl broad executive pay principles, possibly as early as Wednesday, that put a premium on long-term performance over short-term gain."

I am most encouraged by this latest effort to rein in the sense of entitlement and "gimme" attitude that has long permeated the institute of Wall Street. For too long, huge bonuses have been paid, brokers have lived like kings and have owned several homes when too many others have not even enough monies to make ends meet who might be working around the corner in other occupations. The gravy train has come to an end, the golden calf has turned to stone.

Thank God!

Here is the link to the story in its entirety: http://news.aol.com/article/administration-to-issue-new-wall-street/480968

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

TARP, Bank of America and Merrill Lynch

How ironic that today it was announced that JP Morgan Chase and a few other banks are in a strong enough position financially to begin repaying the aforementioned funds that helped them out when in a bind. Chase was able to acquire Washington Mutual, Merrill Lynch Bank of America and so on.....

I find it interesting that Bank of America card holders are now able to enter the Metropolitan Museum of Art for free now (a suggested donation for entrance is $20) and they are hosting Met Mondays - that is, on holidays when the museum is ordinarily closed, they sponsor the costs of keeping the museum open - at least that is my understanding.

My old tellers and branch managers from WAMU have made it through the merger with Chase and their jobs are intact, my friends at Merrill - not so lucky. At last count, Merrill Lynch had laid off some 30,000 staffers in order to become fiscally sound. Why then, are they spending what is essentially taxpayer money in order to let people get into the museum for free? Where is the oversight in this instance?

Albany shenanigans - Republicans regain control of New York State Senate

I could barely believe my ears as I heard the story that broke in the wee hours.

Two rengegade Democrats had apparently been meeting with Republicans in recent weeks. The result of those meetings was a dramatic showdown in Albany in the wee hours of the morning (at least, that is when I heard of the story breaking).

Governor Paterson has expressed utter disgust at his fellow Democrats, both of whom have allegedly been in difficulty with law enforcement of late.

I was in Albany for lobbying purposes recently on Equality and Justice Day, and had occasion to hear Governor Paterson speak for the first time in person - he was speaking on marriage equality and equal rights. I was most impressed with his kind manner, wisdom and intellect.

Now, due to the selfishness of these two individuals, the Democrats have lost their majority standing in Albany and we will be fighting even harder for gay marriage, school issues and gun control issues.

At least, these men should be censured, and at worst, they should be ejected from the Democratic party - shame on them!

We all know exactly how Eliot Spitzer would have handled this issue.

Will Governor Paterson follow suit?

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The importance of a police civilian review board

While serving as a political appointee to the mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah - I was the victim of racial profiling. I will not go into details here, but suffice it to say, apologies were made and I was left with a strong dislike for police officers. That is unfortunate, because I had associates with whom I worked who were police officers. We would meet weekly and bi-weekly in a community action team setting where we had representatives from various agencies work in an interagency collaborative fashion.

As part of this outreach effort, we received training one day. I shall never forget the words of the police officer who led the training. He indicated that most officers think of everyone as being an a#$hole until they prove otherwise. No matter that person's race, they are conditioned to think of others as enemy or a#$holes. I was disturbed on many levels by what I heard, but based on my previous statement, did not feel the need to go again to the Chief of Police and apprise of what I had heard.

I just heard of the case of a Mr. Holloway, a mentally ill man with schizophrenia who was walking the streets of New Jersey recently - he was stopped by police because he was wearing no shirt - he immediately complied with the officers, covering up his torso, and one of the officers proceeded to beat him with fists, and followed up with a beating with his baton. That officer had no idea that he was being recorded. He is now sitting behind a desk.

There is no civilian review board in place and residents are rightfully outraged. Mr. Holloway happens to be black and so the local NAACP chapter is looking into his allegations. He has an attorney and will likely become rich as a result of a massive lawsuit - that is as it should be.

Mayor Rocky Anderson, former mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, is one of the finest attorneys I have ever known - he is brilliant in his perception and views of the world - a former ACLU attorney, he was fully cognizant of the imbalance of power that too often occurs with police officers vis-a-vis civilians. There are, after all, a#$holes with guns and badges, let's be honest.

In his amazing foresight, Mayor Anderson insisted that all civilian boards, including the police civilian review board have representation from every council district in the city, including women and minorities in the demographic.

I am amazed, and frankly shocked, now that I live in the greater NYC area, that time and time again, police officers are either gunning down their own in White Plains or Harlem, simply because they are black and off duty, or brutalizing individuals. They have a strong union behind them and all too often, these rogue cops are allowed back on the streets - there is no civilian (independent) review board and this needs to change.

If you are reading this, contact your local elected official and demand that we institute this at all levels of the police department - on a city council, county council and even statewide level. The foxes have been guarding the henhouse for too long now. It is time for them to cease and desist.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Saturday at the Metropolitan

It was another wonderful day in the city. Saturday has become my favorite day of the week since I have the pleasure of being a brand new (2 months now) volunteer at the information desk in the European Paintings area of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The new American Wing was recently re-dedicated by the First Lady, Michelle Obama, and while staff were not allowed to be present, due to heightened security, I have in my possession the employee magazine that outlines the visit, complete with a beautiful and detailed photograph.

I met Mary and her friends from Orem and Pleasant Grove, Utah - they were traveling in a group of three and I was reminded of the goodness of Utahns - I lived among them for 7 years, good and bad experiences notwithstanding. I can always go back and visit, they said - which I plan to do in August.

I met Elizabeth, an amazing jewelry artist whose work is so intricate in design, I took her contact information in order to have a piece handmade and commissioned for my mother's birthday this year.

I met Jason, the massage therapist, on his way to visit "The Model as Muse" exhibit with his wife and some friends. They live in the suburbs of Albany and long to live in Manhattan. He is almost finished with school and his wife has an art history degree. Jason and I spoke of the absolute need for massage vs. traditional medicine - people would not run to the doctor for traditional western medications and treatments if their health insurance would pay for massage - it is a necessary part of one's wellbeing. It is my hope that, along with Chiropractic, massage therapy will be included in health insurance coverage, both private and the soon forthcoming national healthcare program.

That is one thing I miss about Utah, besides the mountains - my weekly massages at the Utah school of Massage Therapy. I was fortunate to live really closeby - I could go there, put my name down for a massage, return home or go out for breakfast/brunch and meet friends for a massage. Occasionally, they had 2 for 1 specials and Les and I would pair up and enjoy a massage.

I miss Les, and Jim, Dan and John, the other Jim - the Irish guy - they all know who they are. They are all at Pride this weekend - it is where I would be. I managed to serve on the board of the Utah Pride Center in spite of being on Mayor Anderson's staff - not quite sure how they worked around it, but I am glad they did. I loved being able to advocate for my GLBT friends.

The speech - A More Perfect Union

It was the most prolific speech of his presidency thus far. Sure, the stakes are high, but Obama has proven, yet again, this week and before that, that he is clearly up to the task.

Following is an excerpt of the speech:

We meet at a time of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world – tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.

Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. This has bred more fear and mistrust.

So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.
I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world; one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect; and one based upon the truth that America and Islam are not exclusive, and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings." This is an excerpt from the NY Times report on the speech.

As a woman of great faith, born Episcopal, converted to Mormonism and lived that life for almost a quarter century who has now come full circle and reaffirmed her christian faith in the Episcopal church, I resonate with the words: "justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings."

I was for a time affiliated with an amazing group called MESJ - Mormons for Equality and Social Justice. The group seeks to create understanding amongst Mormons and promote equality and social justice for those who are on the fringes of society. Some of you may recall that I have spoken of this group in earlier posts.

The work we have ahead of us is clearly not easy - it will take an effort on all of our parts to see that the Obama administration is successful.

A more perfect union is possible.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

GM, Chrysler defend closing dealers

Are they kidding? Do those dealers really think we believe that they did not see that their cheese had been moved? And not just once, but several times.

Why do we live in denial? Is it simply easier to believe that things will just go away?

GM and Chrysler are in a desperate fight for their very survival. Yes, jobs are going to be lost and dealerships must close. I am not going to pretend to understand the intricacies of car buying and selling, though I have bought at least 3 in my lifetime. I do understand that the government has taken over ownership essentially of the greatest American auto dealer. Only prudent cutbacks can help them now - the bankruptcy was the first step - more bailout the second and now dealership closings the third.

There are WIA funds available to retrain those who will lose their jobs or who become underemployed. It is not the best situation, clearly, but it is the best scenario we have at this time.

Please read this story as posted on the AP just hours ago: http://money.aol.com/article/gm-chrysler-defend-slashing-dealerships/486222

The cheese has moved and will likely be moved again several times before this is over. Let's suck up and deal with it already!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Utah vs. Minnesota, Romney, Huntsman and Pawlenty

They are rising stars in the Republican party.

Tim Pawlenty has just announced that he will not seek a third term as Minnesota's Governor. John Huntsman won a second term as Utah's Governor in a landslide and was recently tapped by Obama to be his ambassador to China and Romney managed one term as governor of Massachusetts. What they all have in common is my prediction that they will play heavily in the next primaries as in - be on the Republican Presidential ticket.

The Republican party is desperately trying to remake their image - with the exception of Romney, these men are moderate, even liberal, by conservative Republican standards. If they are to have even a remote chance at defeating Obama in 2012, they will have to come closer to the center, left even. America has shifted in it's beliefs and demographics. No more will we tolerate ultra conservatives like Bush, who had been a compassionate conservative prior to entering the White House.

Interesting to note, both Romney and Huntsman are devout Mormons and while Huntsman supports civil unions, Romney is more conservative in his approach.

I am anxious for the next election cycle - I think these men are worth watching.

He said, she said

I write on occasion about relationships.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of overhearing a lengthy cell phone conversation. On my end was a man in his 20's or early 30's who wanted desperately to see the Yankees game on TV. He had told his girlfriend that they could go and have dinner prior to the game and then go their separate ways and then meet up thereafter. Apparently, she was not happy with that compromise.

He bemoaned this and even said if America's Top Model were on TV and she wanted to watch it, he would have watched it with her.

Give and take - yin and yang. Ebb and flow - boundaries - equlibrium was clearly not in that relationship.

He further confided in the eprson on the other end of the phone line, that he was almost hoping that they got into a fight so that he could just watch the game in peace. He felt guilty about it, he stated, but what choice did he have?

One of my dearest friends in the world is a workaholic. We still manage to speak via phone every day and see each other several times a week, distance of two separate counties notwithstanding. I give him space and he does the same for me - we ebb and flow, have our shared passions and separate obligations.

Yin and yang - ebb and flow.

He really should listen and so should she.

White House frames health care as economic problem

I am encouraged that the Obama administration is taking the bull by the horns and attacking the healthcare challenge.

According to a recent report, as cited by an AP story: "The report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers says that health care costs — now about 18 percent of the gross domestic product — will rise to 34 percent in 30 years if left unchecked, wreaking havoc on the federal deficit, businesses and working Americans."

These figures are alarming and should be to all Americans. We as working Americans simply cannot withstand having our GDP so heavily invested with the cost of healthcare.

There are too many people in this country who have insurance, and of those, some 27% file bankruptcy because of not being able to pay medical bills - those numbers are staggering.

We need a comprehensive approach to insure the uninsured, get costs in check, stop the outrageous fees paid to lobbyists and cease to give so much power to HMO's.

Here is the link to the story: http://news.aol.com/article/white-house-frames-health-care-as/507612

Murder in Kansas

I could not write about the murder of Dr. Tillman yesterday. I was in shock.

Today, after some time to reflect, I will attempt to articulate my feelings on this latest senseless slaying of someone for simply doing their job and protecting and upholding a woman's right to choose - as provided for in the constitution.

Dr. Tillman has been the recipient of several attacks, including being shot in both arms, and having his clinic blown up. Attorney General Holder has order increased protection at certain abortion clinics. What a sad, sad thing.

A church is a sanctuary, a place of peace, harmony and tranquility. To murder a person in cold blood in a church with their family nearby (I assume, given that he had a wife and 4 children, one would think that at least one family member was likely in church with him that fateful day).

I encourage all of you, men and women, to make a contribution to Planned Parenthood in the name of Dr. Tillman. Pray for the board members and staff at Planned Parenthood offices across this great nation that they will be protected. I know personally of a Planned Parenthood Executive Director and board member. They are both phenomenal women and I admire them greatly. Thanks Annabel and Melanie for all that you do.

Read this thought-provoking NY Times editorial and you will get a sense of where I stand on this issue. We need to do more to protect those on the front lines of the abortion issue.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Congress set to tackle healthcare overhaul

I can scarecely contain myself, much less believe that the day has come when we, as a nation are collectively working towards overhauling healthcare.

I have enjoyed varying levels of insurance over my 20 years of living in America, but happen to fall into a category of people with a chronic illness, or major health problems who have incurred very high medical bills and not enough resources to pay for them, deductibles and copays notwithstanding.

We are finally at a point where we recognize as a nation that what we have does not work for everyone, insured or not.

Here is the link to the article: http://money.aol.com/article/congress-set-to-tackle-health-care/464742

N.Y. pension fund plummets

This was the disturbing front page story on Saturday's Journal News.

New York appears to be heading in the same direction as California - bankruptcy.

The unions here have such overwhelming power, unrighteous dominion, some might say, they negotiate this exhorbitant wages for all state workers from bus drivers to those who clean the MTA subways. I believe that a person should receive a fair wage for an honest days' work, but to have inflated salaries does not serve the public's best interest.

Unfortunately, in their zeal for bargaining - and I am not against unions - they have negotiated that their people work for 20 years and then retire. That is not the case in other states - city and state workers put in 30 years and that ensures enough funds in the retirement kitty to keep all happy.

Governor Paterson needs to have his staff review this issue and swiftly.

Here is the link to the story: http://www.lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2009905300344

Life balance - "Obama takes it slow before upcoming busy week"

This story posted last evening on the AP.

For over 5 and a half years, I was a political appointee to the mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah. I can honestly say that the two of us had NO work life balance, as did others on the staff. We were both workaholics and spent untold hours in the office - me some 60 hours a week - he frequently upwards of 100 hours. The mayor confided in me that he wished he were married - that would have surely eased his burden.

President Obama is a remarkable man with enormous challenges ahead of him. What I like about him is his commitment to his country, his family, and above all, his wife, as evidenced by his keeping his campaign promise to her this weekend as they came to NYC for dinner and a play.

Here is the article: Obama takes it slow before upcoming busy week
posted: 8 HOURS 33 MINUTES AGO
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WASHINGTON -It was a leisurely weekend for President Barack Obama, whose schedule is about to kick into high gear for domestic and overseas business.
Obama played a full round of golf on Sunday at Fort Belvoir, Va., where he stayed for about five hours. It was his fourth golf outing in about five weeks. The president and first lady Michelle Obama on Saturday watched their daughter's soccer game in the morning and then flew to New York for a late-night date.
But it's all back to business on Monday, when Obama plans to deliver an address about the auto industry. The following day he begins a five-day journey to Europe and the Mideast.