Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Bah Humbug!

The holiday season is about giving thanks for the gifts that life has given us. But if you are like most people, that optimistic outlook has disintegrated like a mistletoe on fire. Countless hours huddled up in department stores or worse yet, camping out three days in front of Best Buy for the new PlayStation. And we really wonder why the rest of the world thinks we are materialistic, selfish morons?

It all starts with kids. I was in their position not TOO long ago. Christmas was not about giving but about receiving! A list for Santa 5 pages long...and worse yet, disappointed when I didn’t get everything on the list. I have two amazing parents but looking back, they probably should have taken me to homeless shelters and soup kitchens to see kids my age, and what they would not be getting for the holidays. Not to make me feel bad but to learn to give back and certainly, be more humble. How many different versions of Barbie’s do you really need? It is an essential lesson and one I learned later in life. I understand now how hard my parents struggled to give me everything they could but I didn’t see that back then. I only saw what they couldn’t give me rather than what they could.

Fast forward to 2006. A wiser Geiss emerges. Someone who sees the world with open eyes and has made a concerted effort to give back and help others. But today I sit at my desk with a ‘Toys for Tots’ box stowed by my legs and out of site. A friend had approached me about helping out and collected donations for the United States Marine Corps Program. The Not-for-Profit Charity that distributes donated toys to needy children in the community in which the campaign is conducted. The primary goal is to “deliver a message of hope to needy youngsters that will motivate them to grow into responsible, productive, patriotic citizens and community leaders.” WOW! Sounds good to me. Unfortunately, the flyers we put up saying this exact same thing did not warrant a positive reaction from some.

When did “giving” actually start to offend people?

I am sure if the banners were about giving away a cruise or that coveted PlayStation 3, I could have kept them displayed.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Snoozing Through Our Wake Up Call

Five years ago yesterday, it was another beautiful Tuesday morning. I had just received my promotion and things were going well. Arrived at work in Uniondale, Long Island at 8:30am. The sun was already beaming through the huge windows at my desk. My supervisor was sitting across from me listening to her voicemail. Flicking on my computer to start my day, she hung up her phone and announced to me that a plane hit the World Trade Center.

“What a moron,” I thought to myself. “Probably some stupid, rich asshole who just got his pilot’s license flying his ‘more money then I will probably see in a lifetime’ Cessna.” Shortly thereafter, a co-worker came running around the cubicles saying another plane hit the other tower. The murmuring started and people made their way to the conference room to turn on the television. The vision of the two towers on fire is forever seared in my memory. A moment of disbelief as we all stared at the screen. The minute I could recapture my thoughts, they lead me to my father and sister-in-law who worked in mid-town. By the time I got back to my desk, there was a voicemail from my father. He said that he was meeting up with my sister-in-law and getting out of the city as fast as they could. He ended the call, like any of his calls, and said he loved me but the urgency in his voice made this time so much different.

Our Vice President came out and announced that we could leave. Doing so, I headed straight home and turned on the television. By this time, the news of the Pentagon being hit was also on the news. My mother called…being stuck in a classroom, I told her what was happening. My mother is not one to be easily shocked and takes things in stride more than most. This time, I could hear the utter disbelief.

Taking after my mother in many ways, I was resolute to stay calm but nothing could have prepared me for seeing the towers fall. Just a year earlier, I had stood at the top of the South Tower. My lifelong sense of safety had been shattered. Conflict and terror was something that happened somewhere to other people. Even the previous attack on the World Trade Center and Oklahoma City Bombing did not rattle my foundation.

What happened next was the most amazing part of this story.

The dust settled, and what emerged was a unified and compassionate America. Feeling like I was living in a dream, strangers would say “Hello” as you passed. Customers didn’t cut each other on the checkout line. People really would help ‘little old ladies’ cross the street. Americans proudly sang the National Anthem at events even if they couldn’t carry a tune. Even my hard-nosed company handed out American flags and told us that no one was charged for the time they left on September 11th and even wished us all well.

But like most dreams, it came to an end. Shortly after the year anniversary, people stopped wearing the flag pins on their lapels; flags on cars became scarce and soon everyone was angry again. Even criminals, who seemed to be on holiday, were back in business. Fear once again became the comfort. Who should we fear now?

We were told that Iraq DEFINITELY had weapons of mass destruction, and no doubt, would look to use it on us. Be afraid…be very afraid!!! Just turn on the news or open a newspaper…the fear was all around us. The ‘evildoers’ were coming!

Yesterday marked the 5th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Where I am now…no one said a word. No one seemed to acknowledge that this day held any significance from any other Monday. No one had flag pins on their lapel or seemed to take a moment of silence or reflection that morning. Disheartened at the lack of patriotism…I guess I expected more.

But are we really to blame for our lack of empathy?

A country now shrouded in fear and divided by a war. No clear reason that we can agree upon for being there and knowingly lied to by our government about those reasons. Headlines reading about 40,000 Iraqis being killed…photos of children killed and maimed during this warfare…thousands of fellow Americans, trying to serve this country, but being killed for another. Fueling the flame of discord, the tears in this countries fabric are now visible.

A government for the people by the people…but if our government sets a bad example, is that a valid excuse to follow? Doesn’t it come down to the individual level?

It is easy to blame others for the misfortunes we feel. I am prime example. I write rants about bad government policy but rather than take the 20 minutes to vote at this last primary, I went to spinning class. Rather than join my local community service club, I used the excuse I was too busy. Rather than fetching a homeless woman food, I looked at my feet and kept walking. Being more concerned with saving my money for an I-pod then donating a few bucks to the St. Judes Church who keeps sending me address stickers.

If September 11th has taught me anything, it is that life is short and unpredictable. Making excuses and holding grudges will not make me feel better. Showing compassion is actually easier than hate…for I must be the change I wish to see in the world.

Rise and shine!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Door-to-Door Soul Service

Trying to close my eyes before takeoff, a man sitting behind is shouting into his cell phone. Impossible to drown out his overbearing voice, I soon gather from the conversation that he is a religious man and speaking to a police officer somewhere about missionaries for his church. Praying a flight attendant would insist he turn his phone off, he continued arguing about their rights to solicit religious information and pamphlets door-to-door in this particular neighborhood. “It is part of our first amendment right,” he demanded. I wish there was a right to peace and quiet!

In 2002, the United States Supreme Court ruled for a local congregation of Jehovah’s Witness and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, a nonprofit publisher of church literature, in striking down the ordinance regulating uninvited peddling and solicitation. The ordinance had required Jehovah’s Witnesses or other door-to-door advocates for religious or political causes to get a permit. The Jehovah’s Witnesses countered that the ordinance restricts an array of First Amendment freedoms, including of freedom of speech, press, association and religion.

The court had granted certiorari to decide the question: “Does a municipal ordinance that requires one to obtain a permit prior to engaging in the door-to-door advocacy of a political cause and to display upon demand, the permit, which contains one’s name, violate the First Amendment protection accorded to anonymous pamphleteering or discourse?”

Ruling in an 8-1 decision, the court looked to pass precedent in Murdock v Pennsylvania when then Court noted that “hand distribution of religious tracts is an age-old form of missionary evangelism-as old as the history of printing presses. This form of religious activity occupies the same high estate under the First Amendment as do worship in the churches and preaching from the pulpits.” First, just because it is “age-old” does not make it right. Second, printing presses and therefore, newspapers, are optional. You CHOOSE to have a newspaper delivered to your door. Third, going to someone’s door and basically putting that person in a position of discourse is completely different from that person choosing to go to a church and engage in the discussion. Plus, this ordinance does not restrict public areas like stores, street corners, restaurants and parks.

Although the petitioners (Watchtower Bible, et al) did not challenge the procedure by which a resident my prohibit solicitation, it still puts the burden on the resident. In order to bar people from door-to-your-door canvassing, you must file a “No Solicitation Registration Form” with the mayor AND post a “No Solicitation” sign on your property. Not to mention, having to do this defaces their property. Although not a permanent structure, an unsightly one at best. And what is the solicitor is blind? Does the “No Solicitation” still apply to them? After all, the law states “and” which means a property owner needs to do both.

The lone high court dissenter was Chief Justice Rehnquist. I always knew I liked this guy! In the decision, he affirmed, “The town had little reason to suspect that the negligible burden of having to obtain a permit runs afoul of the First Amendment. For over 60 years, we have categorically stated that a permit requirement for door-to-door canvassers, which gives no discretion to the issuing authority, is constitutional. The District Court and Court of Appeals, relying on our cases, upheld the ordinance. The Court today, however, abruptly changes course and invalidates the ordinance. It is not clear what test the Court is applying, or under which part of that indeterminate test the ordinance fails. Under a straightforward application of the applicable First Amendment framework, however, the ordinance easily passes muster.”

The ordinance does not bar people from canvassing but simply allows a bit more security and accountability. Rehnquist also looked to this point, “More than half a century ago we recognized that canvassers, “whether selling pots or distributing leaflets, may lessen the peaceful enjoyment of a home,” and that “burglars frequently pose as canvassers, either in order that they may have a pretense to discover whether a house is empty and hence ripe for burglary, or for the purpose of spying out the premises in order that they may return later.” Martin v. City of Struthers.”

In striking the Struthers ordinance down, Justice Hugo Black wrote: “While door to door distributors of literature may be either a nuisance or a blind for criminal activities, they may also be useful members of society engaged in the dissemination of ideas in accordance with the best tradition of free discussion.” And what if you do not want to be a part of the discussion? I know you can just not answer your door but what if you were outside in your front yard when a canvasser stopped in? Are you forced to go into your house in order to not be bothered? The question arises of were does private domain start?

An interesting side note: In Justice Stevens opinion, he notes that “Although Jehovah’s Witnesses do not consider themselves to be “solicitors” because they make no charge for their literature or their teaching…They also explained at trial that they did not apply for a permit because they derive their authority to preach from Scripture. “For us to seek a permit from a municipality to preach we feel would almost be an insult to God…””

When you need an answer, just say it in the name of “God”.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Immigration: Part IV-Final Thought

The International Monetary Fund estimated that Mexicans in the United States sent $20 billion to Mexico last year, the country’s second largest source of foreign income after oil. The majority of people are coming to the U.S. for money! People do not want to leave their homes and families, but when their governments do not support worker rights for fair pay and fair treatment, there are very few options. Those that do come here for American values and ideals, can get caught up in a decade long process.

Entering a country illegally just because you come from an unjust nation does not give you a right to break the law. “If someone wants to be a citizen of this country then let them enter our borders with our permission. Those without permission are illegal and should be arrested and imprisoned.” (Paul Geiss) There are approximately 590,000 immigrants in the country who have blatantly ignored orders to leave. (New York Times, 4/21/06) “Imagine turning more than 11 million people into criminals, and anyone who helps them,” said Angela Sanbrano, executive director of Central American Resource Center of Los Angeles. “To be treated as criminals after all the work they did isn’t fair,” commented Fabricio Fierros, an American-born son of mushroom-pickers who came to the United States illegally from Mexico. Breaking the law does make you a criminal! America does not owe illegal aliens any rights. If you truly want to be an American, then abiding by American laws is the first necessary step.

Unfortunately, I firmly believe the American government has made the legal line seem like an endless gantlet of bureaucracy. To think we have non-US citizens fighting and dying for this country every day. Those people truly love America and yet we do not even bother to put in an express lane for them.

Currently, a standard path to citizenship can seem endless. On top of that, naturalized citizens then wait again to get their family members to become naturalized. So many look to anchor babies in order to solidify an American citizenship. In California and Arizona, greater than one in five babies are born to undocumented mothers and nationwide, about one in ten babies are born to illegal alien parents. At birth these babies automatically become legitimate U.S. citizens and have full rights and protection under our laws. Plus, they have the ability to sponsor their parents as citizens once they reach age 21. (Fusion Magazine, Jan/Feb 2006) “…Any baby born in this country to any illegal alien, should not be an American citizen. So many of these criminals come to the U.S. just to have babies (which of course the American taxpayer pays for) just so it will make their babies Americans and harder for us to deport their parents.” (Paul Geiss) Officials in Los Angeles…estimate that these babies account for at least thirty percent of all Aid to Families with Dependent Children cases. (Fusion Magazine, Jan/Feb 2006) The largest group of illegal immigrant patients is pregnant women... under a 2002 amendment to federal regulations, the births are covered by federal taxes through Medicaid because their children automatically become American citizens. (New York Times, 7/18/06) Guest worker provisions suggested by the Bush Administration would expand the number of foreign-born citizens by tens of thousands.

For public hospitals and maternity wards in border states, "their care has swelled costs for struggling hospitals and increased the health care bills that fall to states and counties." (New York Times, 7/18/06) Why it must be hard to deny someone care, there are far too many American citizens, that work hard, pay taxes and still do not get the coverage and help they need and deserve because monies alloted for them, have been used on illegals. "A study ordered by commissioners in Harris County, which includes Houston, found that about one-fifth of the patients in its health system last year were immigrants without documents, most of them from Mexico. Their numbers had increased 44 percent in three years, the study found, and their care had cost the county $97.3 million, about 14 percent of the health system’s total operating costs." (New York Times, 7/18/06)

A side argument to this might be that health care costs too much to begin with, health care professionals deserve to make higher salaries. These people (for the most part...I know there are exceptions), work hard, study hard and save lives. I do not believe we should lower the cost of what health care professionals get paid but rather look to companies to pay for it. Until our government puts their foot down and insists that companies pay accordingly for their employees health insurance, these people then have to look to the state and/or federal government for help. And too many get turned away.

I sympathize with the plight befallen on those that live under corrupt and dehumanizing governments but all too often we ignore our responsibilty and coware from the horrors we see. I implore people to become involved in their government or at least, their community. For example, Mexican citizens need to start standing up for their rights IN MEXICO. If people put as much effort into the recent protests and demonstrations in America for 'Illegal Immigrant Rights' as they did in Mexico, then the current Presidential election would not be on the fence but would have outright elected Anders Manual Lopez Obrador…a Presidential candidate fighting for worker’s rights and the poor. You must be the change you wish to see in the world. - Mahatma Gandi

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Immigration: Part III-The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there,
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence;
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

-Robert Frost

On May 25th, the Senate approved a wide-ranging overhaul of immigration laws to bolster security at the Mexican border and to grant many illegal immigrants a path toward citizenship. With approximately 11 million illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States, action has been long overdue, but is this the best path?

On the legalization part of the bill provisions divides the currently illegal immigrant populace into three groups:

1. Illegal immigrants here for more than five years could gain their citizenship after working for six years, learning English and paying a penalty and back taxes? How much in penalties? Most immigrants’ work for less than minimum wage (minimum wage being a whole other rant), and once on a “path”, you MUST learn English. How? Are we setting up a free program to teach the English to the different languages that are spoken in America? Or do we leave that to the immigrant to figure out?
2. Illegal immigrants here from two to five years would have to return to an entry point and apply for a guest-worker program. And what if they don’t? And if they do, how much will it cost? How long will it take?
3. Workers here less than two years would have to return to their countries of origin. And how are you planning to enforce this? How many taxpayers’ dollars will this cost? Even President Bush said in his address to the nation that the Catch and Release program who initiated because the government did not have enough space for detainees. Bush asserted that this program will end and asking Funding from Congress. (No! You are asking the taxpayers to pay and not just pocket change but $1.9 BILLION. Why not tax the businesses that have been found to hire illegal immigrants? These are not just small construction businesses, but multi-million dollar corporations like Target and Walmart. The new plan will punish employers who hire illegal immigrants with a fine up to $20,000 and three years in prison after an electronic verification system is established. Ummm…who from Walmart is going to prison? The door greeter?

Security! The bill provisions also authorize enhanced border security measures, including the addition of 370-mile, triple-layer fence along the border. Authorizes President Bush’s plan to send 6,000 National Guardsman to the U.S.-Mexican border. To do what? Oh, provide intelligence and surveillance support to U.S. Border Patrol agents for they cannot catch and detain illegal immigrants (, 5/17/06). "Border State Governors expressed concern that diverting troops to the border would exhaust Guard members already drained by war deployments…and would not have troops available to deal with forest fires or other natural diseases.” (New York Times, 5/17/06) How fast can you say Hurricane Katrina? Shouldn’t a change in border security have been top priority immediately following 9/11? Oh, I am sorry…too many photo ops, too little time.

Using a bulldozer to create a new path and then leaving all the broken trees and shrubs to navigate through is not a better way to get to our destination. For the sake of diverting issues President Bush speaks to the American people like Rameses in The Ten Commandments… "So let it be written, so let it be done," with no guidance or forethought.

This President took a hard line against Iraq. A country thousands of miles and an ocean away-waged war against this country, overthrew its government…killing its people who opposed these outside forces and putting our Americans in danger and yet continues soft policy against the corrupt government right next to us. “The rich are richer and the poor, we are poorer,” said Arturo Sierra, 38, an electrician in Mexico. “The government has taken it upon itself to deliver the country to foreign governments and to the rich Mexicans, who continue exploiting workers with miserable salaries.”

Sending the National Guard “will not stop the flow of migrants. To the contrary, it will probably go up,” as people try to get into the U.S. with hopes of applying for a possible amnesty program, said Julieta Nunez Gonzalez, the local representative of Mexico’s National Immigration Institute. Immigrant support groups estimate 500 people died trying to cross the border in 2005. (, 5/17/06) One Mexican migrant commented, “Even with a lot of guards and soldiers in place, we have to jump that puddle. My family is hungry and there is no work in my land. I have to risk it.”

This new path is sure to take more lives needlessly for the sake of salvaging corrupt relationships in the maze of money.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Immigration: Part II-A Foreign Policy

In a land that insists on the falsehood of “Innocent Till Proven Guilty”, prejudice has once again filled this nation’s atmosphere. Collective fingerpointing at all illegal immigrants regardless. But to fairly look at immigration, we must first look at from where these people are emigrating.

The New York Times 1/14/06 headline reads, “Wealth Grows, but Health Care Withers in China”. After the collapse of ‘evil’ communism, where everyone had free healthcare, “China’s economic reforms have turned an almost uniformly poor nation into an increasingly prosperous one.” But the collapse of socialized medicine has left rural areas without sufficient resources. The former system of free clinics has disappeared and coverage in these areas is 79% UNINSURED. “The failure of the government to provide decent health care for peasants has reinforced the idea of China as two separate nations: one urban and increasingly comfortable, the other rural and increasingly miserable.” Democratic leaders cheered when communism was overthrown in China. Our companies have infiltrated their economy and our government allows a $202 billion trade deficit with China in 2005 alone. Yet we turn our backs.

For poor Nigerian villages, a battleground has ensued after the oil milling below the ground. “Conflict has left dozens dead and wounded, sent hundreds feeling their homes. It has laid bare the desperate struggle of impoverished communities to reap crumbs from the lavish banquet the oil boom has laid in this…poor corner of the globe.” (Lydia Polgreen, New York Times) Government has removed itself and the oil companies have taken over as dictators. “They see the oil companies as being the nearest government to them,” said Don S. Bonham, a spokesman for Shell. Africa is expected to provide the United States with a quarter of its oil supply in the next decade. (Lydia Polgreen, New York Times) The communities are fighting over the oil fields which has an annual budget of more than half a billion dollars to spend on its 3 million people. “But most of it goes to white elephants like a new mansion for the governor.” (Lydia Polgreen, New York Times) Yet we turn our backs.

Complaining about service jobs being outsourced to India, each year, about 200,000 (40,000 below the age of 16) Nepalese women are trafficked across the Indian border and sold there into slave-like conditions. Victims end up as sweatshop workers, domestic servants and even prostitutes in the exploding sex trade. (“Sold to the Circus for $13.42”, Marie Claire, Feb 2006) This article discussed the experiences of Gita Lama, who at 13, was sold to the circus for 1000 rupees ($13.42). Gita came from a village that had no electricity and the entire village pumps its water from a single well. Her situation worsened after being sold and others like her. Abused and beaten, one girl recalls, “I existed like the living dead. I didn’t have choice. I just shut my mind to everything and dealt with it, but I wasn’t really alive.” Yet we turn our backs.

Since most immigration is believed to be from Mexico…

In Yolanda’s hometown, a tiny coastal village near Zihuatanejo, Mexico, dusty plots of land barely yield enough corn to feed the families who harvest it. Death by starvation is an ever-present reality. Growing up, Yolanda remembers eating iguanas, armadillos, and pigeons when the harvest failed and her father became desperate to feed his 10 children. During the rainy season, the children huddled under a dripping cardboard roof in a one-room wooden hut with no stove, refrigerator, or running water. Despite all this, she dreamed of a high school education. But at 14, she was on her way home from class when an older man from her village pushed her off her bicycle and raped her. Because she was no longer a virgin, she was forced, by shame, into marrying the man who stole her innocence. Pregnant, her new husband beat her. Finding the strength, she left him. For what many might seem like an obvious choice, being young, with no money, no education, and no where to go, a neighbor offered Yolanda a chance for employment in the United States.

“It was a moment of desperation. I wanted to make money to give my daughter a better life, so what had happened to me wouldn’t happen to her,” recalls Yolanda, who believed she was signing up for a job as a waitress. Leaving her daughter with her mother, she packed a single bag and headed for the U.S. Shortly after arriving, the true nature of her job was revealed and a reality made clear. Yolanda was sold into sex trafficking. We hear about these incidents overseas, but the truth is, they happen right here in this great land. Knowing that if she left, she would be reported to immigration, she had nowhere to turn. She couldn’t go back to Mexico…“In Mexico, if you don’t have money, you don’t have anything. I stayed because I was afraid for my family.”

The Department of Justice estimates that every year, 17,500 people in the U.S are victims of “human trafficking”-foreigners brought into the country by coercion, threats, or physical violence and sold to a trafficker for forced labor. And yet we turn our backs?

Note: This Administration’s only foreign policy has been that of warfare. Now on the domestic front, giving amnesty to all illegal immigrants does not solve what plagues us. We must look at each individual case and allow people like Yolanda the chance for a better life…and maybe one day soon, obtain her dream.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Immigration: Part I-The Crystal Ball

The Puritans were people who grew discontent in the Church of England and worked towards religious, moral and societal reforms. They asserted that The Church of England had become a product of political struggles and man-made doctrines. Escaping persecution from church leadership and the King, they came to America. ( Settling into a foreign land, they encountered numerous hardships. Coming from a different lifestyle, customs and language, there were many conflicts with the indigenous people of the land.

The first notable sign of strain was the Powhatan Confederacy that lasted from 1622-1644. Much of the initial ill will was rooted in the colonists' belief that the Indians would welcome them and willingly supply food. Their perspective was that exchanging European tools and Christianity for sustenance could forge a mutually- beneficial arrangement. That bargain made little sense to the natives. The settlers failed to realize that the Indians only hunted and gathered little more than their immediate needs required and additional pressure on their food supply by the colonists raised a real possibility of starvation. Tensions were heightened when the colonists allowed their livestock to wander into Indian cornfields…wiping out crops, and especially when the whites used their superior firepower to extort food contributions from the tribes. (

In retaliation in 1622, the Indians launched a surprise attack on the settlements killing nearly 350 whites. ( Warfare between the races continued for another decade, but neither side won the battle. Bloodshed was the only notable trophy. The settlers gave up any pretense of coexisting with the Indians and embarked upon a policy of extermination.

Fast forward to the 21st century for another battle among the “natives” and “immigrants” of this land: The updated version has immigrants coming here with the belief that the American people would welcome them, supply aid…adding additional pressure to government programs, and allow them to take American jobs and not pay income tax on them. The immigrant perspective being one of taking on duties that American’s would not and offered more culture to the “melting pot”. Tensions are heightening once again…

Will this lead to the same horrible outcome of fighting, killing and extermination?

Note: With the forceful emotions embedded in this topic, I feel we will be condemned to repeat history if we do not turn our focus on the reasons WHY people are leaving their homes for America. Stay tuned for this discussion…

Saturday, April 08, 2006


A beautiful Friday morning, get the coffee started, make breakfast, turn on the local news and what stops me in my channel-flipping tracks? Peter and Elizabeth Popoff! A harmless, all-American couple sitting in a living room setting: Elizabeth has a young golden-haired terrier sleeping in her lap. She is wearing a soft green dress with a detailed collar; her bleach-blonde hair is immaculately styled. A bright-warm toothy smile greets me. Her husband is also ‘put-together’ in casual attire. His face is a bit more bronzed and has slicked-back black hair. His arms and hands speak to the camera…to me. Urging me to call the number below, for what I now gather, is a FREE sample of Miracle Spring Water! I can receive this FREE sample simply by calling 1-800-206-9277.

Intrigued, but for the wrong reasons, I continue to watch this buffoon swear by the “power” of this water. Reading testimonials from idiots who have used the water and been “instantly healed” of their ailments. And what makes this water so special? Where is it from? Questions that they never touch upon. Just believe what he says and you too, can feel the “power of Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost”. Spooking me out, they switch to a segment from a “Healing”, where a woman begins to gyrate after Peter places his hands on her. Miraculously, healed of a neck injury. Praise the Lord!

Like any other sane individual, I begin to ask myself why God would let a person, Peter, decide who is to be healed? We say things are God’s will when someone gets sick and/or dies, that the situation was out of our control. Well, if that is the case, and Peter seems to heal everyone, then how is that God’s will? Isn’t he making the decision for God?

The next part of this incredible Miracle Spring Water (repackaged tap water); is that it will also allow “divine transfer”. Now this is the part that really gets my attention. “God is a God of increase,” proclaims Peter. Through “divine transfer”, you too can obtain hundreds of thousands, evens millions of dollars by simply ordering the sample of Miracle Spring Water and following the instructions. It must work! After all, one woman was to inherit property with oil on it. Which probably means, she will inherit a gas station. Would God really allow a miracle water to be sent through a 1-800 #?

Let’s review a few of the 10 Commandments:

#10-Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s house-One is forbidden to desire and plan how one may obtain that which God has given to another.

So if you obtain a house or loads of money, then that money, etc. must be taken away from somewhere else. Ah, humans selfish nature rears its ugly head. Why should it matter where it comes from, just as long as you get more…more money, more houses, more cars, more trips to Tahiti….

#1-“I am the LORD your God…You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness…you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God…”
For more information on false idols, please visit

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Dating Faux Pas

Today’s Rant is a bit of a departure from its usual topics. Hopefully this list is helpful. Feel free to add comments and additional points.

1. DO NOT DATE AT WORK! Resist the urge. I don’t care how “hot” someone is…don’t do it. It causes awkwardness if it does not work out. Unless you are 99.9% sure you will marry this person, it will most likely end, and as every should know, there is almost never a “clean” break where both people are “friends”. The reason friendship is not possible after a relationship is because there were deeper feelings in the first place, which means they do not magically disappear…and for both parties no less. And if you run with the same group of friends, then it causes tension…”Who’s side do I take?”…“If we want to go to happy hour, which one should we invite?”…Etc. Lastly, if you work in the same department, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT date that person. You have to work with this person. And if it ends ‘bad’, how will you continue to work with them? If you really want to date someone in your department, then either switch departments or find a new job!
2. MARRIED WITH CHILDREN…or any variation thereof! Getting involved, knowingly, with a married individual is not a wise choice. Even IF they claim to be “separated”, I wouldn’t take their word for it unless you have been attending the divorce proceedings. If they are not separating, and having an affair with you, then hopefully you are smart enough to realize it will not last. And if they do leave their spouse for you, then expect to have them cheat on YOU! Once a cheater, always a cheater!
Ah, the bundles of bliss that are children! Getting involved with someone who has children is very risky and frustrating. There may be resentment shown from the children…that you are trying to take their biological mother or father’s place. Plus, kids are work. Relationships are hard enough…throw kids on top of that…and unless you are a saint, prepare to be aggravated.
3. DO NOT LOAN SOMEONE MONEY! This is wrong on so many levels. First, if this is someone you have known a short while (i.e. less than 6 months) it is inappropriate for him or her to be asking you for a "loan". Assuming they are older than 18 years old, they have had at least that span of time to make longer-lasting friendships than yours, and can ask them. Second, if someone needs money, it shows they are most likely irresponsible with money and that is NOT someone you want to be involved with. There are various ways to get cash in a pinch and this person should be looking into those avenues…ever hear of a cash advance on a credit card?! So unless it is some extreme reason that you can VALIDATE, the person is probably bull-shitting you and know that if you “loan” them the money, expect to never see it again. Instead, expect that they will try to “hit-you-up” for money again!
4. TURN OFF THAT PHONE! If you are on a date, turn off your phone…or turn to vibrate and then check to see who called, check messages, etc. when you take a bathroom break. Unless you are waiting to hear the results of Grandma’s live-saving surgery, DO NOT PICK UP THAT PHONE. You are on a date, and want your partner to know that he or she has captured your attention.
5. ALWAYS LOOK SOMEONE IN THE EYES! This doesn’t mean stare the person down…which will have the opposite effect. Just be sure to look them in the eyes from time to time during the conversation. Again, this is to let the person know you are listening to them and when you are speaking, that you have their attention.
6. DON’T LIE/OVEREMBELLISH! It will only come back to haunt you. Unless you plan on this being the one and only date and will probably not converse with this person ever again for as long as you both shall live…don’t lie. First of all, do you really want a relationship to begin with falsehoods? You should know if someone likes or doesn’t like you for you...not for your lies. Plus, people usually get caught in them. It is hard to keep lies up forever. One day it might “slip” and then you have lost the person’s trust. So with that said…BE YOURSELF!
7. MEN-EXPECT TO PAY…sorry! Unfortunately, it is still very customary for a man to pay. Although equal-right activists/believers (like myself) agree this isn’t right, it is still viewed that a man should make a strong attempt to pick up the check. It should be custom that the person who asks the other person out, be the one to pay but if a woman asks you out, unless she INSISTS on paying, do your best to convince her otherwise if you plan on seeing her again. For lesbian and gay relationships…flip a coin! Just kidding. Revert to the aforementioned custom of the person who asked the other one out, be the one to pay. For group/orgy type dates…got me on that one!
8. TO KISS OR NOT TO KISS? Unless you are 7-years-old and believe the opposite sex has “coo-dies”, then at the end of the first date, a soft, brief kiss on the lips is very appropriate. It assures the other person that you are attracted to them without jumping in their pants. However, if as you attempt to kiss someone, they move back or give you their cheek, then that should send up the warning-sign that they “just want to be friends.” Otherwise, it is due to a religious belief, but you would know this before you make it to the end of the evening because the person has talked all night about their faith. Note: no garlic with dinner as this may significantly alter the intended outcome.
9. DO NOT DRINK…Too much! This can be an awkward moment on a first dinner-date. Ironically, it is usually at the beginning of the date. What happens if you order a drink and your partner does not? Don’t fret! Have your one drink but be sure not to order another one even if you are not the one driving. Also, do not comment to the person, “Why aren’t you drinking?” The person may be a recovering alcoholic and this puts them on the stop to divulge very personal information right away. If they happen to mention that they are recovering, don’t look shocked or disgusted, unless you want to end the date right there, rather comment that it takes a strong-willed person to overcome the disease. Staying positive is the quickest way too…
10. SEX…though you should avoid having it at least for a few dates! Although personally, a man I picked up at a bar and had sex with wound up being my longest relationship to date, do not use my life as an example to follow. If you have sex on the first date, you can usually be assured of one of two outcomes: a. You never hear from the person again. b. The person becomes obsessed with you and will not stop contacting you. If you think the sex is worth it anyway…then have fun and BE SAFE!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

It Takes A Village...

“Every few months or so, some horrifying child-abuse case elbows its way onto the front pages, and there is a general outcry: How could this have happened? Where were the caseworkers? Lock up the monsters who did this! Let’s investigate and reform the child welfare system.” (Bob Herbert, New York Times) But then the story subsides…Americans go back to worrying about all the other issues plaguing this country. Personally, no issue is as important as this one! “Child abuse is a hideous, widespread and chronic problem across the country. And it doesn’t get nearly enough attention.” (Bob Herbert, New York Times)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported nearly 1,500 children DIED from abuse or neglect in 2003. Yet this estimate is probably low since most state records are notoriously haphazard. This same year, authorities were alerted to nearly 3 million cases of youngsters who were alleged to have been ABUSED OR NEGLECTED and confirmed at least a MILLION of them. To give you just ONE example of the horrors that take place, authorities in Michigan reported the case of 7-year-old, Ricky Holland, who begged his school nurse not to send him home to his adoptive parents. He was later beaten to death with a hammer. Prosecutors said his bloody body was dragged away in a garbage bag. To think we live in a country where this happens FOUR times a day!

“We know that there is a profound connection between child abuse and substance abuse…We know that abuse and neglect are more likely to occur in households were money is in short supply, especially if caregivers are unemployed…And adults who were abused as children are more likely than others to be abusers themselves.” (Bob Herbert, New York Times) Putting these generalizations aside, we have a viewpoint in this country as reflected by our President, Republican Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee and others, who commented during a debate on same sex marriage, "Will activist judges not elected by the American people destroy the institution of marriage, or will the people protect marriage as the best way to raise children?” If the numbers previously mentioned don’t send shivers down your spine than maybe you agree with this viewpoint.

"Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman." (Bill Frist) Here is another generalization, since legalized gay unions are fairly new, it would be likely to conclude that the 1,500 deaths and 1 million cases of abuse and neglect came from an opposite sex household. (Of course I could be wrong!)

“Child-abuse prevention programs are wholly inadequate, and child protective services, while varying in quality from state to state, are in many instances overwhelmed and largely unaccountable.” (Bob Herbert, New York Times) Then maybe we should be spending our time, money and efforts trying to prevent another Ricky Holland from being beaten to death than squabbling over the definition of marriage. After all, aren’t safe, happy homes the real goal here?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Spying Game…How Safe Are We?

With the Bush crusade against the “evil-doers”, one has to wonder if aligning themselves with his position, is in fact, an act of evil when hypocrisy is embedded throughout the Bush administration’s policies.

It has become a moniker of the Bush tenure: “You’re either with us, or you’re with the terrorists.” President Bush first spoke this statement in an address to a joint session of Congress and the nation nine days after the attacks of Sept 11th. Since then, he has used this phrase to continue to strike fear into Americans and be willing to give up numerous civil liberties in the name of national security.

“This is a limited program designed to prevent attacks on the United States of America, and I repeat, limited,” Bush said in regards to the eavesdropping program set up after 9/11. “I think most Americans understand the need to find out what the enemy’s thinking. We’re at war with an enemy that wants to hurt us again.” If I understand the president’s position, we should ‘bend’ our civil liberties, use our National Defense attacking a country in the Middle East that did not have “weapons of mass destruction”, subsequently, using valuable money, resources, and most importantly, American lives, with still the threat of terrorism looming over our heads.

With Americans in a panic and recently hearing about an avoided attack in Los Angeles, it is perplexing that we would allow Dubai Ports World to control shipping facilities at six leading American ports. The Bush administration’s approval of the recent sale of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company for $6.8 billion to a company located in the capital of United Arab Emirates, where the Sept 11th plotters had funneled money, makes you wonder about an administration that has made national security its top priority. “They said security at American ports-where only 5 percent of incoming cargo is inspected-is one of the country’s biggest vulnerabilities”, reported Brian Knowlton, International Herald Tribune, 2/19/06. Michael Chertoff, homeland security secretary, told ABC News, “We put safeguards in place and assurances in place that make everybody comfortable.” Declining to say what safeguards were being implemented, he is asking us to trust him and the Bush administration blindly.

“There’s an enemy out there,” said Bush. (The News-Journal, 1/2/06) No, Mr. President, there is an enemy right here. “It’s a suicide mission, with a nation strapped to the White House.” (The News-Journal, 11/27/05)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Female Dynamic

The history of feminism reaches far back before the 18th century, but the seeds of the feminist movement were planted during the latter portion of that century. The earliest works on the so-called "woman question" criticised the restrictive role of women, without necessarily claiming that women were disadvantaged. In both World Wars, manpower shortages brought women into traditionally male occupations, ranging from manufacturing and mechanical work to a female baseball league. By demonstrating that women could do "men's work", and highlighting society's dependence on their labour, this shift encouraged women to strive for equality.

Many feminists also fought to change perceptions of female sexual behaviour. Since it was often considered more acceptable for men to have multiple sexual partners, many feminists encouraged women into "sexual liberation" and having sex for pleasure with multiple partners leading to a new dating revolution were women offered to pay half the check with "woman money" as a way to show that a woman's worth in society was not determined by her looks, that she was not an ornament up for sale to the highest bidder.

Modern day feminism has taken a sharp u-turn back towards pre-70's ideals. “Jurassic feminists shudder at the retro implication of a quid profiterole. But it doesn't matter if the woman is making as much money as the man, or more, she expects him to pay, both to prove her desirability and as a way of signaling romance - something that's more confusing in a dating culture rife with casual hookups and group activities.”(“What's a Modern Girl to Do?” By Maureen Dowd, New York Times, 10/30/2005)

Since this reversion has affected the dating scene, it has also crossed into the institute of marriage. " ‘Ms.’ was supposed to neutralize the stature of women, so they weren't publicly defined by their marital status. When The (New York) Times finally agreed to switch to Ms. in its news pages in 1986, after much hectoring by feminists, Gloria Steinem sent flowers to the executive editor, Abe Rosenthal. But nowadays most young brides want to take their husbands' names and brag on the moniker Mrs., a brand that proclaims you belong to him. T-shirts with "MRS." emblazoned in sequins or sparkly beads are popular wedding-shower gifts. (Dowd) I’ve always wondered why their isn’t a moniker signaling a married man vs. a single man?

What about the man’s viewpoint? “I'd been noticing a trend…famous and powerful men took up with young women whose job it was to care for them and nurture them in some way: their secretaries, assistants, nannies, caterers, flight attendants…” John Schwartz of The New York Times noted the trend in 2004 when he reported: "Men would rather marry their secretaries than their bosses, and evolution may be to blame." A study by psychology researchers at the University of Michigan, using college undergraduates, suggested that men going for long-term relationships would rather marry women in subordinate jobs than women who are supervisors. Men think that women with important jobs are more likely to cheat on them. There it is, right in the DNA: women get penalized by insecure men for being too independent. “They worry that men still veer away from "challenging" women because of a male atavistic desire to be the superior force in a relationship.” (Dowd)

So it is not just a trend, rather a natural instinct, according to this research. But has this viewpoint been the cause of the 70’s feminism to retreat into modern day feminism where women seem to be looking for male approval? A ‘natural’ instinct to back down to a man in order not to intimidate him and in return, win his approval? Let’s hope not but my fear is that it is. Granted women are no longer burning their bras, rather ordering more breast-enhancing bras from Victoria’s Secret. But is this actually a new power assertion?

Note: You should never comprise who you are or your beliefs in order to conform to a standard or even to win someone's heart. If someone does not love you for who you are, then you are better off without them. At the same token, never hold yourself in too high a regard...for it is a lonely place you seek.