Friday, March 29, 2013

Old Friends, New Keepsakes…

I am writing this blog through blurry, tear-filled eyes. Happy and emotional tears. Why the tears? Well this morning I received a special package in the mail, an unexpected package, one filled with cards and trinkets and expressions of friendship, from some dear friends I have had for years. These are friends I have never met, some I’ve never even chatted with, except, of course, online. They all got together and conspired to give me something precious, a new box for special keepsakes and things to fill it with.

As you may recall, in February I wrote a series of blogs about a ten year friendship that ended three and a half years ago, called “Remnants of a Friendship.” I told the story of my friendship with “Marie” and how I needed to dispose of boxes of cards and mementos I collected that represented cherished memories…the remnants of what once was, and all that remained, of a close relationship. It was hard to reread the cards and make the decision to let a lot of these things go, but I did purge my “treasures” as I blogged, and shared my recollections about many items in the three boxes.

I think my blogs touched many of my friends because they have big and compassionate hearts. They have managed to use email and regular mail, to replace my old boxes with a new box, filled with new treasures. I don’t think any of them even live in the same state: New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Illinois, Minnesota, Oregon and California. They all sent cards of friendship with special notes of love and appreciation in them, and some even included little “gifts” and tokens of affection, for me to put in my new memory box. I really don’t know how to thank them for such a thoughtful, priceless gift or express how it made me feel today.

I’m not trying to be modest when I say that I don’t consider my friendship anything extraordinary. For me this is what friends do. We help each other, support and encourage each other, laugh together and cry together and get through whatever life throws our way. So I am just being me, doing what I do. I love my friends and when you care about people, to a certain extent and to the best of your ability, you do what you can to make a difference in their lives. All of my friends have done as much, or more, for me as I have for them. They are all different and all very special people. They all deserve cards of appreciation and love from everyone they know, not just me.

Today some of my friends have helped me to heal a little bit more. They have helped shrink some of the old scars that were left by the hurt of a broken friendship. They were there for me, for the past three and a half years, filling the void, even if they didn’t know it. And I want to thank them all from the bottom of my heart. Tina, I know you were the one to conceive this idea, find this beautiful box and collect all these items from everyone to send to me. Thank you.  Cathy, Carmen and Angela, thank you for your cards and notes, your kind words will not only hold a special place in my new box, but in my heart. Sharon, when I saw a horse on the card, I knew it was from you. I love the keepsakes! We do share a love of wine and will be hanging that little plaque in my new kitchen one day soon. As for the dream catcher, I could use all the help I can get in the sleep department and will keep it beside my bed. Kelly, you made me laugh with the Betty Boop magnet! It will be the first thing up on my new refrigerator and I’ll smile every time see it. Sandy thank you for your thoughtful words and the gold heart charm. It’s beautiful and it triggered another memory  had forgotten till now. I don’t know if I had mentioned it or not, but I have to tell you that Marie had given me half of a “best friend” charm that I wore every day on the chain with my cross. It was a birthday present. I took it off my chain a long time ago because it no longer applied. But ever since then, every time I feel for my cross, to make sure it’s there or to say a prayer for someone, I remember that charm is missing. Now I am going to put your charm on my necklace. So now, even that has been replaced. Thank you.

I just want to add that every day all of you make a difference in my life, whether you are there for me or I am there for you. Today you have given me a precious gift, in words and thoughtfulness, that I will never forget. But, even more precious than all these things, is your gift of friendship that is everlasting. This feels like a sequel to the story of my friendship with Marie, only this one has a happy ending. Thank you all. xoxox

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Beware Of Facebook Lock Out…

I was watching the evening news while waiting for my daughter to get home from work and heard about the “Facebook Lockout.” Facebook is apparently trying to cut down on fake accounts, like the kind “catfish” make up, and many other scams. And, in addition, if you are in violation of any of their terms and conditions, they have decided they will lock you out of your account for 24 hours. In order to get back in to your account you will have to provide them with government identification. The ID can be a passport or driver’s license which must show your picture, birth date and name which they will delete it after confirming your identity.

What if you don’t violate any of their rules? Well, you still may get locked out in error. In that case you will have to take it up with Facebook and get them to tell you why you have been locked out. Maybe they will unlock your account, maybe not. If you cannot reach Facebook, you may have to ask a good friend to contact them on your behalf. How about that?

I am not crazy about this new plan that Facebook is already implementing. I don’t feel safe giving out my government ID in a day and age when identity theft is a serious problem and getting worse by the minute. I understand Facebook’s need to try and eliminate corrupt and demented people from taking advantage of unsuspecting account holders, but requiring government identification doesn’t sit well with me. I’m not sure if I would give then that information and, in that case, I would lose my account. This is another case where the good are being punished for the sins of the bad.

Facebook may wind up losing a lot of people in the process. Would you be one of them? I am providing a link with more information so you can at least be aware of what to do in a lockout situation or think it over ahead of time.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Catholic Church Indulges Bill O’Reilly…

Before I launch into my little rant about Bill O’Reilly and the Church, let me say that for many decades I have been appalled at the way the Church changes their rules to accommodate certain people for an exchange of cash. I distinctly remember a case where my aunt’s friend, Jennie, who had never been married, wanted to marry a man who was divorced. She wanted to get marry in the Catholic Church because she was a devote Catholic. The only way for her to do that was if the man was able to get an annulment of his first marriage. The Church told her that it wasn’t possible, there could be no annulment. She continued to plead her case because it meant a lot to her to be married in church and to be able to continue to receive communion. The Church reply was that for $5,000 they would grant him an annulment. Her reply was basically that hell would freeze over before she paid $5,000 to the church for a piece of paper. This is going back over 40 years ago, when for $5,000 you could put a good down payment on a house. What pissed me off was that an annulment should not be bought, either it was allowed by church law or not. This was one of the incidents that caused me to begin losing confidence in the Church.

Now back to old Bill O’Reilly. Bill and his ex-wife split in April of 2010 and divorced in September 2011. They agreed to share custody of their two children. Things got very messy when Bill decided to hire the children’s “neutral” therapist as a full time employee, to parent the children. When his ex-wife complained about the unfairness of that and that it undermined the court’s order for an impartial third party to look out for the children’s interests, Bill got pissed. Bill allegedly decided to take his divorce issues to the Catholic Church, because he is said to contribute a fair amount of money to them, roughly $65,000 in 2011 alone. Bill’s ex-wife had remarried after the divorce, but continued to go to church and receive communion. Thanks to Bill, the church reprimanded his ex-wife for receiving communion after her divorce and remarriage AND for telling her children that her second marriage is “valid in the eyes of God.” Now if she doesn’t heed their warning, there is speculation that she could be excommunicated. Nice.

I am not a fan of Bill O’Reilly. I am not a fan of the Catholic Church. This case is just a small example why. Bill O’Reilly is an arrogant, full of himself, pompous asshole. He may demonstrate some moments of intelligence, but I would have to listen to him too long to pick up on it. I acknowledge, because I can’t listen to him, that I don’t know much about him. But, how full of himself must he be to think he can go to the church and use them to bully his ex-wife into complying with his breaking or circumventing court orders? It doesn’t matter because Bill must have learned, as I did years ago, that the Church puts a price on everything, and breaking rules can be done if you fork over enough money.

One of my many issues with the Catholic Church stems from the fact that their hard and fast rules become somewhat arbitrary when money is involved. These are not just isolated incidents. In fact, in my studies I learned that as far back as the 1500’s, corrupt priests sold “indulgences” to parishioners, which were certificates that pardoned sins. This was one of the main reasons Martin Luther attacked the Church. Many things the Church provided were based on exchanges of money: Christenings, Marriages, and Burials. I guess some things never change. The tradition continues hundreds of years later, money in exchange for favors. I’m sure God is very pleased with the entrepreneurial ways of the Church. They are big business! Bill O’Reilly learned this lesson well. If you are rich and give enough money to the Church, they will grant you special favors. They will even harass your ex-wife for you for no extra charge. That’s what I call “Holy Sh*t.”

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

NYC Fire Commissioner’s Son Racist?

It would seem that NYC’s Fire Commissioner, Salvatore Cassano, has a son who is blatantly racist. The story came out yesterday that Joseph Cassano has been making racist, anti-semitic and other offensive remarks on his Twitter account for months now. Apparently, he was even suspended from school for doing so at one time, but that wasn’t enough to teach him a lesson. His father’s prestigious position with the NYC Fire Department didn’t deter him either. Now, instead of his tweets being buried alive under thousands of other benign tweets, they have been preserved for posterity in various news and media articles which are quoting him left and right.

Joseph Cassano, 23, has been working as an EMT for the city for about three months. EMT’s get preferential consideration for openings in the fire department. Working for the FDNY was the young Cassano’s goal. Do I think there was some influence in getting Joe the EMT job? Yes I do. It’s reported that 100 new hires were made to the EMS department, of which 40% are minorities. I read that the fire department has long been under represented with minorities. In fact in 2011, a judge found that the FDNY discriminated against minorities for years and appointed a court-appointed monitor to oversee hiring. And who is in charge of the FDNY? Salvatore Cassano. Maybe there is a connection between the discrimination of the FDNY against hiring minorities and Cassano’s racist attitude? You have to wonder.

Of course, Salvatore Cassano came out with a very nice public apology for his son’s behavior. I am sure he was embarrassed and humiliated by his son’s words, which were extremely offensive, even to our own Mayor Bloomberg, who read the anti-semitic tweets and commented about them. Commissioner Cassano says his son regrets making the tweets and says “that is not his son.” Oh no? Whose son is it? I don’t believe for a second that his son regrets making those comments and I especially do not believe that he didn’t mean every single one. You don’t make comments like that over a long period of time and not actually think that way. And, young Cassano also made a public apology, after resigning his job as EMT, saying he regretted making the comments and enjoyed his job, treating every patient with care and respect. Let me know if you believe that!

Here are a few of his choice tweets:

“I hate ems” and, “Everybody wanna be a firefighter, but don’t nobody wanna be a damn EMT.”

 “Got kicked in the shin by a drunk and had to carry a 275 pound guy down 5 flights of stairs . . . my job is the worst #yearandahalftogo.”

On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, he posted, “MLK could go kick rocks for all I care, but thanks for the time and a half today.”

“Getting sick of picking up all these obama lovers and taking them to the hospital because their medicare pays for an ambulance and not a cab.”

“News flash to half of the island,” Joseph, who lives at home with his parents on Staten Island, posted in August. “ur white! Stop talking like ur a shwoog.”

“I like jews about as much as hitler #toofar? NOPE.”

“I love boob jobs . . . I wish every girl in America were forced to get one once they turn 18.”

Now, I wonder how does a young man develop such deep seeded feelings of hate and intolerance towards others? I wonder how it is that his family was “unaware” of his feelings until they were exposed by the media? I have known some racist people in my day and they never keep their racism a secret. It always comes out at one time or another. I can’t imagine that, in the privacy of his family home, that he never expressed his feelings towards minorities, Jews, women, his job, or the patients he cared for on a daily basis. I find it very hard to believe his family didn’t know or maybe they did? Maybe he was raised in a home where this type of language was acceptable? I mean where is a child most likely to learn to be racist? From his family? From his friends? From his community? It really gives you something to think about. Children aren’t born racist, they are made racist, they are taught to be racist. I believe children usually pick it up from the attitudes of the parents and the types of comments they are used to hearing in the home, where it’s condoned. His father, Salvatore, says his son was raised with good values and respect for all people. So where did he go wrong?

I’m glad Joe Cassano wasn’t smart enough to keep his beliefs to himself. I’m glad his Twitter rantings were exposed and that he had to quit his job. He, and people like him, have no business serving a diverse city like New York. How are we to know if his attitudes didn’t affect the kind of medical care he provided to members of different groups that he expressed hate towards? My guess is that it did, and this is one instance where social media served a good purpose.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Rob Portman Changes His Mind On Gay Marriage...

Yesterday morning, on the news, I heard that Rob Portman changed his position on same-sex marriage. He is a conservative and, up until the past few days, had a strong stance against gay marriage. But now, after his son told him he was gay two years ago, Portman has re-evaluated his thinking, done a little soul searching and has done a complete 180 degrees on gay marriage. Why is it okay now? Well, he wants his son to be able to enjoy the “stability of marriage” that he has experienced for 26 years. And now I am pissed. He was willing to deny every other gay individual what he now wants his son to be able to enjoy. This is exactly what happened with Dick Cheney, who reversed his position once his daughter confessed she was gay. Is this hypocrisy or what?

When conservative politicians change their minds because their children are gay, what are they really saying? To me it says, I don’t care if all of your children are gay. I will not support their right to marry. BUT, if one of my children is gay, I will change every opinion I have ever held and fight for their right to enjoy the privilege of marriage. All of a sudden it doesn’t matter that the Bible says the sanctity of marriage is just between a man and a woman. All that matters is that their son or daughter is gay and they want the best for them. It erases every word they have said on the topic of banning gay marriage. Just like that. If his son had never mentioned being gay, then he would still be voting against gay marriage for every other gay son and daughter in America. But now he has had a change of heart, and thanks to his son, Portman is another politician who will be supporting gay marriage for all. But should it take having a gay child for a politician to support the right of other gay individuals in the country to be able to marry?

As it turns out, most Americans favor gay marriage. Many of them vote. They may have gay children, grandchildren, siblings, friends who want to be able to marry one day. Who do you think they will vote for? The politicians who will deny their loved ones their constitutional rights, or those who support their right to marry? Many conservatives are now rethinking their position on this issue and crossing over to the other side. They are making the right decision, but maybe for the wrong reasons. Is it because they want to be re-elected to office and have to consider that more young people, with open minds, are becoming voters every day? So it seems to me that if the “gay” issue either hits home or they want to continue to serve in public office, politicians like Porter are coming around to “changing” their position on gay marriage. It’s that simple.

I don’t think the ban on gay marriage will be an issue much longer. As hard as they try, politicians cannot hang on to archaic thinking in such progressive times.  I really believe that the laws will change soon and all gay people will be able to get married and enjoy the same privileges as heterosexual couples. The sooner the better.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Sink Holes...

I find the subject of sink holes fascinating, especially since we are hearing more and more about it in recent days. What causes huge deep holes, like the one that swallowed a Florida man in his bedroom, to open up in the earth? This is another one of these things I had never heard about and now it is happening every day. The news reported a man playing golf in St. Louis, was swallowed up at the 14th hole by a 10 foot sink hole. Luckily or him, his quick thinks friends got him out, but not before he was traumatized. As I perused the internet I found that Harrisburg, Pennsylvania currently has 41 sinks holes that they can’t afford to fill because the city is bankrupt. Who the hell can feel safe living in Harrisburg? Even if they fill these holes, where will the next ones open up. This has been an ongoing issue there since 2010.

The top states at risk for developing sink holes are: Texas, Alabama, Florida, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky…but I heard New Jersey was having issues too. Who knows what other states will be added to the list in the weeks and months ahead. The issue has to do with (simple version) the water underground that erodes the soil over time and causes it to collapse. No one tracks the number of sink holes, but I read that CNN did an investigation that revealed from 2006 to 2010, in Florida alone, almost 25,000 insurance claims were made for sink hole issues. The insurance companies are now raising their rates for sink hole coverage.

Some of these holes are enormous. They can swallow homes, buildings and even football fields. It’s mind boggling. I thought the issue was purely Mother Nature at work, but that’s not necessarily true. Sink holes can also result from drilling for a mine or well and even from putting up buildings and parking lots which changes the way water drains and is absorbed. So there is another environmental hazard being made worse by mankind. It s reported that the massive sink hole in Guatemala was probably the result of “human activity.”

It’s a devastating problem. The ground literally just opens up without warning. The area where the Florida man lost his life was tested for sink holes just a couple of months before the incident happened. So apparently it’s not easy to spot a problem until after it happens. All the people in surrounding homes had to leave the area. No one knows how wide and deep the hole will continue to grow.

I’m hoping that scientists and investigators will continue to study this problem and offer some remedies and preventative suggestions to this issue. It’s a terrifying thought to think you can be walking down a street and just disappear…it reminds me of the Twilight Zone. And just because we may not live on a state prone to sink holes, doesn’t mean we are not at risk. The human causes of sink holes exists everywhere there are buildings and parking lots…which in my own New York City…is just about every square inch.

If you are interested in sink holes and want to see what they look like, just Google them. There are tons of pictures online and these things are scary!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The New Pope, Francis…

When they first announced the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, I was more than a bit skeptical. Why, after 600 years, does a Pope need to resign when so many died in “office.” So I did a little research and found, as usual, a scandal was involved which I previously blogged about a few days ago. In my research, it was reported that Vatican officials did not want anyone elected who was Italian or lived in or near the Vatican. The new Pope would have to have “clean hands” and not be implicated or associated with anyone in the sex scandal he would have to “fix.”  Knowing that Easter is around the corner and the pressing concern of the Church to elect a new Pope, so much so they waived the customary wait for the conclave, I figured it would only take two days to elect someone, and it did. The skeptic in me still thinks they had someone in mind the whole time and they put on a “show” of a few votes and black smoke to make us think it wasn’t decided until yesterday.

As I sat with my family at dinner, we discussed what I had learned about the recent scandal and what the media was saying about a new Pope. Where would he come from? Who would it be? There were rumors of various Cardinals who were being considered. They mentioned our Cardinal, Timothy Dolan, and another from the Boston diocese. I said I hoped they weren’t going to select an American Cardinal. Too much had gone on here over the past ten years or so regarding the pedophile priests and countless victims. I felt that too many, in the American churches, either knew or the scandal, participated in the cover up, were involved in the abuse, and tried to make it go away instead of contacting the authorities and having these priests prosecuted. Timothy Dolan does not have clean hands. He actually paid guilty priests $20,000 to leave the church rather than go through a whole process of excommunication or defrocking…whatever they want to call it. Imagine paying pedophiles $20,000? Yeah that was a quick solution to his problem of clearing up corruption, but what about the victims? Many had to sue the church to get any sort of compensation for the abuse they endured, but the pedophiles walk away with money in their pockets!  As we discussed all this, with me doing most of the talking, we got around to where they would find a Cardinal who could come in and clean house. I suggested they might pick someone from South America. My older daughter scoffed at me. Why there? I said because 40% of Catholics are Hispanic and that is a good reason for me.

Well yesterday the cardinals elected a new Pope. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, is from Argentina. Pope Francis is the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church. He is the son of Italian immigrants. So the Church managed to find someone who is not only from Latin America, but of Italian descent too. He is a Jesuit. The first Pope who is both a Jesuit and from the Americas that has ever been elected. He chose the name Francis in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. St. Francis and his followers lived a lifestyle of poverty so as to devote themselves to caring for the poor, the animals and even the environment. In following with this tradition, Pope Francis lived in a small apartment and is said to have taken public transportation even though, as Cardinal, he would have been afforded much more. He wanted to be “one” with the people and has often spoken about the unfairness of poverty.

However, there will not be any radical or progressive changes under his reign because he is a conservative. He has spoken out against abortion and euthanasia. He believes homosexuality is immoral. He opposes same-sex marriage. Though he argued against it in Argentina in 2010, he was not successful. He also opposes adoption for same-sex couples, saying it would deprived children of having a mother and father, which is what God intended.

Now what? Well I hope they give Pope Francis a few days to settle in to this enormous role before that dump that 2 volume, bound in red, scandal investigation in his lap. Three Cardinals prepared it and it details who and what was involved in the current sex scandal crisis facing the Church. It will be his job to read it and to figure out how to properly deal with and end the corruption. I actually feel sorry for him. It’s not like this is the first or last scandal facing the Church. They haven’t even resolved the pedophile priests scandal. Church scandals and corruption go back in history almost to the day Peter picked the rock out on which to build it. They are good at covering up scandal. They have had a lot of practice.

I hope that this isn’t just another scam. By that mean, I hope the “Church” didn’t select this new Pope for “show.” I hope he is allowed to handle things the way he sees fit and not the way he may be advised to handle it. After all, if he follows his advisors, who may well be residents of the Vatican, how will things changed? How will they get “fixed?” The Pope may have clean hands, but what about the people who will be surrounding him and filling his ears with what they want him to know?  I guess we will have to see what he has to say, what he does, and how he will lead the Church from here on in. It may be too late for anyone to undo all the damage and corruption that has been done and restore morality and confidence in the Church. But, in the spirit in which I have been raised, I will pray to God that Pope Francis can accomplish something that no one before him seems to be able to do…rebuild faith in the Church.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Cannibal Cop

This story is just too bizarre for me not to have something to say about it. Frankly, I can hardly believe it and you can bet Hollywood is already writing a screen play for a movie inspired by this true story.

The trial of Gilberto Valle is now underway and he has, of course, a female attorney to defend him. The facts of the case are that Valle, a member of the NYPD, was involved in an online subculture with people who plan and plot to kidnap, rape, cook and eat women. He also managed to use a government data base to collect information on specific women he wanted to target. It is reported that he had a list of at least 100 women and was involved with two online predators, one in Great Britain and a butcher in India, with the same sick minds and into cannibalism. Valle discussed taking his then girlfriend (now wife and mother of his child) to India, where the men could gag her, take her to the basement and take turns sexually assaulting her. Then they would slit her throat and cook her. Valle said he loved the thought of stringing her upside down, watch her suffer and slowly cook her till she dies. He actually wanted to cook women alive.

The defense? Yes, he has a defense. Valle pleads not guilty and his lawyer says he never actually committed any crimes or harmed any women, it was all fantasy. Role-playing with like minded individuals, she called it. If it was fantasy, why did he need real information on these specific women? Why was he trying to get information about their jobs and daily routines? To me that shows intent to do harm and carry out his plans. And who is going to decide what was the real operation of his mind? Who do we believe?  His lawyer? Do we just take him at his word that this was all a “game,” and let him back into society? Or do we trust the mounting and irrefutable evidence that he himself created due to his obsession?

His wife took the stand on Monday to testify. She learned she and her friends were at the top of her husband’s list of planned victims. His wife said she found Valle to be acting strange and her concern led her to install spyware into the computer to see what was going on. What she found was shocking and unimaginable. Once she read and saw the horrible pictures of what he had been obsessed with, she took their baby daughter and left the home. She took her laptop with her, back to her parents home in Nevada, and handed over keys to FBI for them to search her apartment. That is when authorities found websites and incriminating Google searches for rope, chloroform, and recipes for “human flesh.”

Valle, if convicted, faces life in prison. Thank God he has never actually harmed anyone, that that know of yet. Who knows how close he was to actually executing his sick plans? I can’t for the life of me imagine what kind of mind would/could conceive of ideas like these. I am just glad his wife and daughter are safe and that spyware exists so she was able to discover his intentions before she was his first victim.

Yesterday, the jury returned a verdict. Guilty on all counts of conspiracy to commit kidnapping. His lawyers were upset saying he was charged with a crime because of internet searches and fantasies he wasn’t going to act on. They say we don’t know the operation of his mind and can’t prove intent to harm anyone. They also say we all need to be worried about our online searches. I say they can’t prove he didn’t have intent to harm. I say his actions all point to his intent to do harm. I saw the charts of the 100 women he had selected with their pictures and information of where they lived, worked and more. I saw the searches on how to make chloroform. He detailed how he was going to place the body so it fit in an oven. He searched for torture devices and other tools. He agreed to kidnap a woman for $5,000 for a guy who wanted to rape and kill her and then showed up on her block. The other man has been arrested. And there were plenty of pictures of women being tortured that upset the jury. The prosecution states that Valle went beyond just thoughts, he took actual steps to carry out his conspiracy. That he was plotting to commit crimes. The jury made its decision based on all the evidence presented.

Valle’s mother was shocked. She was there every day of the trial and cannot understand how her poor, innocent son could be convicted when he didn’t do anything. Sorry, but I find it hard to come up with any sympathy for her. And to his defense attorneys, and anyone else who feels Valle got a raw deal and was wrongfully convicted, I say what if your daughter or wife was on his list of planned victims? Would you feel the same way? Should law enforcement have waited around until one of the victims actually disappeared? Is that what his defense attorneys are suggesting? Let’s wait and see how far he is willing to go to carry out these crimes? Thank God we will never have to “wait and see.” Hopefully, he will get life in prison and this menacing man will never be a threat to anyone again.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Elisabeth Hasselbeck Leaving The View

I was never a fan of Elisabeth Hasselbeck and never understood why a “Survivor” contestant was chosen to co-host on such a popular show. There were certainly many more popular and well known personalities around who would have been glad to sit at the table for daily discussions. Elisabeth was basically a nobody. And besides not being well known, she also distinguished herself from the others on the panel by her strong, conservative, republican views. She has always held those views and it has sparked many a lively political discussion over her 10 years on the show.

So this morning I was a bit confused to see that she was fired yesterday because of her political views, which the audience finds offensive? All of a sudden viewers finds her offensive and won’t tune it? Excuse me if I find that unbelievable. I also am of the opinion that no one should be fired for their beliefs. We are all entitled to our own opinions and this show is about sharing different points of “view.” Now they are telling us they only want to hear one point of view? The liberal point of view? I am not satisfied with this explanation. So I search a little more on Google to see if there is more behind this story. I don’t watch The View every day, and figure I might have missed something. Elisabeth has been known to make, shall we say, stupid comments. My daughter has had many a melt down over the words that come out of Elisabeth’s mouth over the years, so I need to find out what else might be going on.

I Google the firing of Elisabeth Hasselbeck and find an article about some comments she made back in 2010. They were offensive comments concerning Erin Andrews’ wardrobe on Dancing With The Stars. Elisabeth criticized Erin, an ESPN reporter, for wearing next to nothing on the show. Apparently, Erin had been the victim of a peeping tom 3 months previous to doing the show and Elisabeth joked that if the “peeper” had just waited 12 weeks he could have gotten an eyeful without the jail time. Well her comments were like the shot heard round the world. Erin was extremely offended and didn’t even want an apology. Elisabeth apparently felt very bad and may have made up a story that her 5 year old daughter told her to apologize for her remarks. Barbara Walters is reported as having a hard time believing the story about her 5 year old, and told Elisabeth to make a public apology. Whoever suggested it, she apologized. However, because it was thought that she said what she really meant at the time, the apology carried little weight. This is just one example of the type of comments that are a liability to the show and make her unlikable. It was actually thought that she would be fired at that time, but she wasn’t.

Now, do I think she should be fired for her political views? Absolutely not. That is what the show is supposed to be about, differing views. Do I think that it’s the real or only reason she was fired? No, I don’t. I think there is more to the story than ABC is revealing, even through “anonymous sources.” I won’t be sorry to see Elisabeth go, but I want it to be for the right reasons and I personally don’t want to be fed a line of BS. The truth always comes out and it will in this case too. Nothing is confidential any more. I imagine Elisabeth, herself, will have a lot to say about it soon enough.

P.S. Barbara Walters announced that this story was a rumor. They love and appreciate Elisabeth and have no intentions of firing her. I don't know, I always feel where there's smoke, there's fire. However, for now Elisabeth is safe.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Taylor Swift...

I always seem to waiver on the subject of Taylor Swift. Part of the reason is that the media always pits her against Carrie Underwood, almost like it’s a competition for awards and popularity. Well that’s no contest in my book, for many reasons, the main reason being Taylor’s lack of singing ability. She has proven time and time again that she can’t hit the right notes, even to songs she wrote herself. Also, Taylor is not a real country singer. I don’t even know how she gets inserted into country music awards where she competes against Carrie. But even without real vocal ability, she is very popular with preteens. Up until now, I have thought Taylor was a good role model, compared to most entertainers. She knows who her fans are and she recognizes that she is a big influence on them. I have to give her credit for conducting herself in a positive way…if you overlook her serial dating.

Taylor is about 23 (I’m too lazy to look up her age), and has been dating and breaking up with boys/men for several years now. It’s even become a joke because with every breakup comes a new hit song. I have to say that I never felt any of her relationships were “real” or serious. To me it always appeared that they were about getting media attention and publicity, not just for herself, but the guy she was dating. That’s just my opinion. The age range of her “suitors” goes from teenage boys to older men. You have to wonder why any male in his right mind would get within 100 feet of her. If a boy/man decides it’s worth the risk of dating her, the rest of us are waiting for him to get dumped and then ridiculed in one of her new songs. I wonder if there are statistics on how many men she has written songs about? I’m sure she has broken every record…for dating, not music.

Well, now Taylor has made it back in the news again, but this time not so much on a positive note and not for dating or breaking up either. It happened at the Golden Globe Awards, when Tina Fey and Amy Poehler made a joke about Taylor’s love life. Actually, Taylor made her own love life a joke, but I digress. The joke told at the award ceremony was that Taylor should stay away from Michael Fox’s 23 year old son. Everyone laughed, except Taylor. Taylor went on to interview with Vanity Fair and expressed her sentiments about the joke in that interview. She quoted Madeline Albright, saying, "there's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women." Now, I don’t know about you, but that sounds to me like Taylor can’t take a little joke. It wasn’t even a bad joke. It might not even be a funny joke, considering her history. But Taylor was evidently pissed off and the story still has not died out.

Now, everyone wants to know Tina and Amy reactions to what Taylor said about their joke. Tina said, “I did not see that one coming…it was a light-hearted joke.” Amy sad she was sorry Taylor felt bad and that she was going to hell, but not for this…mostly for things having to do with boring taxes. Too bad Taylor doesn’t have a sense of humor. It is really an honor to be teased by two of the funniest women in the entertainment industry today. I guess they touched a nerve. Maybe Taylor is tired of dating? Maybe she had Michael Fox’s son in her crosshairs as her next target? Whatever is bugging her, it’s unbecoming and a little immature. I think Taylor Swift needs to grow up. Stop dating teenagers. Take some time to discover who she is besides a serial dating, dumping, song writing, “singer.” She needs to mature and figure out what she wants in a man. Let some time pass and change her M.O. so men aren’t afraid of her. I wonder if she even knows how to write songs about anything else?

I heard, not long ago, that she sent a message, via another person, that she wanted to date Bradley Cooper. Bradley Cooper? Thank God he had the sense to politely decline. Her rumored new boyfriend is Ed Sheeran…I am supplying a link if you care to check him out. I think there will be a new Taylor Swift song out in April…Get a Make Over Or It’s Over, over, over…


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Jodi Arias Murder Trial…

Seems I am the last to know about the case of Jodi Arias, the woman who brutally murdered her ex-boyfriend, Travis Alexander, in Arizona in 2008. I haven’t read all the facts, but they are prosecuting her for premeditated murder and she is claiming self defense, saying she was a victim of abuse. The only other story with as many holes in it as hers is Oscar Pistorius’s account of what happened to his girlfriend. Ironically enough, both bloody victims were found in the bathroom.

Jodi went into Travis’ home armed with a gun and a knife. She says he lunged at her. She ended up shooting him twice in the face, slitting his throat from side to side and stabbing him 27 times. Overkill? The pictures of the crime scene are pretty gruesome.

To make a case for her defense, Jodi is claiming all kinds of things about Travis to malign his character and justify her actions. And even though she kept a detailed diary of their relationship, she never bothered to mention the things she now alleges about him. His deviant behavior, she states, included his sexual desire for young boys. She alleges he was a sexually deviant womanizer. He owned a gun. He abused her. None of these things have been confirmed by evidence or witnesses. At first, Jodi denied she had anything to do with the murder and blamed it on “masked intruders.” But later, she admitted to doing it. She used the handgun from her grandparent’s home and got rid of it. She also got rid of the bloody clothes and tried to clean up the crime scene. The motive? Jealous rage. She allegedly killed him because he tried to break up with her.

Investigators found a camera at the murder scene which contained some pictures now being used as evidence. The memory card contained pictures of their last sexual encounter (the case is full of sexually explicit details that occurred during their relationship), Travis in the shower presumably just before his death, pictures of his bloody body and Jodi dragging the body across the floor. The crime scene pictures may have been taken accidentally when the camera was dropped. There are a lot of pictures online. There are a lot of videos of Jodi testifying in her case. She is very calm and cool. It’s eerie to me. Almost reminds me of Casey Anthony. No conscience, no remorse, no emotion.

Jodi told many lies to authorities throughout their investigation. Her story has changed several times. There is more than enough evidence to convict her of premeditated murder, in my opinion. There is daily live stream coverage of the trial online. I caught a few minutes of her testimony. She looks like someone you would never expect to commit such a brutal crime. Yet, some of what I read indicates she was an obsessed stalker.

Enter Nancy Grace. Nancy loves a good crime story and milks them all for all they are worth. She has taken on Jodi’s case and found her guilty of Murder 1. I haven’t had a chance to watch Nancy yet because I am watching American Idol…I rather listen to music than be bombarded with the details of this murder/sexcapade. However, I may tune in when there is nothing better to watch and get Nancy’s full blown opinion right from the horse’s mouth. One of the things Nancy is harping on is that Jodi now has a female, inmate lover and expects this to bolster the prosecution’s case. Jodi claimed that Travis was a sexual deviant, but this jailhouse romance, coupled with the fact that another ex-boyfriend’s claims that she liked to take naked pictures, may just shift the deviancy on to her, in the minds of the jurors.

I have to say, the facts of the case are fascinating enough to have gotten my attention. There is certainly enough here for a great movie. You just can’t make this stuff up. Oh, did I mention she bought several gas cans before committing the murder? Who does that? It’s almost like she had intentions to burn the place down and destroy all the evidence…don’t you think?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Pope Resigns, Scandal Suspected…

Ever since the child abuse scandal broke about ten years ago, I have written off the Catholic Church. I have not heard or read anything in the last ten years to satisfy me that the Church has taken this scandal seriously or taken the steps necessary to help victims, punish abusers, prevent future cases of abuse, or hand over their internal investigation documents to authorities.

So I became a little skeptical when it was announced that the Pope was “resigning” from his position because of health reasons. Since Popes are elected for life, they all die in office from old age or illness and no one ever saw the need to resign. Now, rumors are surfacing which the Vatican is denying. If you recall, several months ago the Pope’s butler was arrested for stealing papal documents that were published in a book. But then, after he was convicted of theft, he was later pardoned, and all was suddenly “forgiven.” Everything got quiet…till now. Suddenly, the Pope is going to resign. Something that has never been done before, since 1415. Why now?

Several online websites are reporting that a scandal involving gay priests, prostitutes and blackmail is brewing at the Vatican and it was hoped that it would be squashed if the Pope resigned. The allegations point to high ranking members of the Vatican who have had “ties of a worldly nature” with gay men who are now allegedly blackmailing them. The charges are made in a 300 page report which outlines how priests were being extorted by gay laymen, who allegedly have photographs to go along with their threats and accusations. The three cardinals appointed to investigate have reportedly found there has been an underground “gay network” and “sex parties.“ There is even a rumor that a European government has issued an arrest warrant for the Pope, though this is very questionable.

The reasoning behind the resignation is to elect a new Pope as soon as possible; one who has no ties to the Vatican, Rome or the current situation, and bring him in to clean house. And because the Vatican population is largely Italian, they may be seeking a non-Italian Pope to bring about the changes needed to restore order.

As usual, the Church is denying rumors and acting as though it is the victim of media attacks. However, I find it difficult to believe anything the Church says to explain away this or any other scandal. Eventually the truth will come out. Too many people are involved in this “gay network” for one or more of them not to divulge names, dates, facts, photos or other evidence of what has been going on. I’m sure more will soon surface to confirm or refute the allegations being made. The 300 page, two volume report, will not be made public, it will be handed over to the new Pope. Meanwhile, even as the Church is denying allegations of the scandal, the resignation of Cardinal Keith O’Brien of Scotland has been “accelerated.” Hmmmm, you have to wonder why. Well stop wondering. It has the do with allegations being made against him, dating back 30 years, by four priests. Of course, following the lead of the church, O’Brien is contesting these charges and is seeking legal counsel. And also in the news is another Cardinal, Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles, who allegedly played a role in covering up sexual abuse by priests. And then, this past Friday, a Monsignor Balestrero, secretariat of state in the Vatican, was transferred to Columbia, who knows why? Everything is suspect and hush hush.

As for me, this is just another huge mark against a religion that fails to practice what it preaches and covers up its sins. Whatever happened to confession is good for the soul?

P. S. Meanwhile, the Pope changed the conclave rule to waive the customary waiting period of 15 days, so the Cardinals can get an early start. They can’t wait to get the new Pope in office so they can present him with the two volume, red covered, investigation into the aforementioned scandals, conducted by three cardinals. The new Pope is already going to be saddled with a huge headache, which the Church has been trying to contain instead of being forthcoming. Now where have we heard this before? I wonder what name the new Pope will take? I’d like to suggest Pope Jude, after the saint of impossible causes, because it seems where the Church is concerned, it’s mission impossible.

Since the Church is probably my biggest Pet Peeve, I wouldn’t be surprised f there is another blog in the near future.