Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tom to Lead His Company's United Way Campaign

I'm so proud of Tommy. Today he met with the CEO of his company so that they could get to know each other and to discuss United Way.

Background: The Executive Leadership Team had decided that Tom would be a good person to lead the company's United Way campaign. The company president called Tom into his office on Monday to find out if he'd be interested. He gave Tom the night to think about it.

As always, I couldn't help but put in my two cents - which was that he should do it. Tom also spoke to his dad who told him the same thing. Well, Tuesday morning Tom informed the company president that he was up for the challenge.

That led to the meeting today with the company CEO. Tom says he thinks things went well and I'm sure that they did. I have so much respect for Tom. He is a super talented manager and I'm sure he will do a great job! He has the leadership skills to excel at any opportunity that comes his way.

Notre Dame Scandal - Press Release

Today the Cardinal Newman Society issued the below statement:

First 300,000 Petition Signatures Delivered to Notre Dame Board Members, Fr. Jenkins
Copies Are Being Rushed to Rome, Papal Nuncio, USCCB and ND Bishop John D’Arcy

Manassas, Va. – Today, April 29, 2009, the first 300,000 names of individuals who signed the petition at — opposing the University of Notre Dame’s decision to honor President Barack Obama at commencement — are being delivered to Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., the Board of Trustees and the Board of Fellows as they prepare for scheduled meetings on Friday, May 1, at Notre Dame.

As of this morning, more than 344,000 people have signed the petition, but because of the overwhelming numbers it took The Cardinal Newman Society more than 24 hours to prepare the data and print more than 64,000 sheets of paper, double sided, which were then bound in notebooks and sent via FedEx to Father Jenkins and individual members of the Notre Dame Board of Trustees and Board of Fellows.

Copies of the petitions are also being rushed by The Cardinal Newman Society, which sponsored the petition, to Archbishop Zenon Cardinal Grocholewski, Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education; Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Apostolic Nuncio (Vatican ambassador) to the United States; Francis Cardinal George, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB); Bishop John D’Arcy, of Fort Wayne-South Bend, who presides over Notre Dame; and Bishop Robert McManus, Chairman of the USCCB Education Committee.

“Only the Notre Dame Trustees and Fellows have direct authority over Father Jenkins, so their meetings on Friday are our best hope for an end to this scandal,” said Patrick J. Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society.

“It is critical for all of us to pray that the Trustees and Fellows charged with safeguarding Notre Dame’s Catholic identity will heed the 50 bishops and hundreds of thousands of faithful Catholics urging Notre Dame to withdraw its invitation to President Obama.”

The University of Notre Dame is governed by a 12-member Board of Fellows, including six Holy Cross priests, who are charged with ensuring “that the University maintains its essential character as a Catholic institution of higher learning.” The Fellows delegate most of their governing authority to the 38-member Board of Trustees, comprised mostly of lay people.

The university’s charter states: "The essential character of the University as a Catholic institution of higher learning shall at all times be maintained, it being the stated intention and desire of the present Fellows of the University that the University shall retain in perpetuity its identity as such an institution."

Specter's Exit Long Overdue

I'm pleased to see that PA Senator Arlen Specter has switched parties. He should feel right at home with the Secular/Socialists (the Democrat Party). Sen. Specter was the poster boy of RINO's. I honestly can't think of one single value that Senator Specter holds in common with conservatives.

I've always known he is far left on social issues - that was a given. However I mistakenly thought that Sen. Specter may still possess some remote sense of fiscal conservatism. So much for that! When he supported the fiscally irresponsible porkulus bill that was a new low - even for him. At that point I knew that we could never count on Sen. Specter to vote responsibly on anything.

Amongst all of the chatter in the liberal media about the Tax Day Tea Parties being Obama bashing events (which they were not), they mostly neglected to mention that a lot of Republicans got called out too. In fact, at the Dallas Tea Party the loudest boos of the evening came at the mention of Senator Specter's name.

Senator Specter had to know how disliked he is within the Republican party. The latest Rasmussen poll had former Rep. Pat Toomey with a 21 point lead over Sen. Specter in the 2010 GOP primary race for U.S. Senate. Clearly Sen. Specter could never win again as a Republican. Now let's hope Sen. Specter's desperate attempt to prolong his disgraceful Senate career as a Secular/Socialist (Democrat) comes up short. Go future Senator Toomey and good riddance Senator Specter!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Update on Notre Dame Scandal

It's very sad that Rev. Jenkins has made a mockery of Catholic values and brought disgrace upon the University of Notre Dame. I'm so glad that Mary Ann Glendon has refused to participate in this travesty. She is to be commended for her integrity. Below is a news release posted today on the Cardinal Newman Society website:

Mary Ann Glendon Declines ND ‘Laetare Medal’ Due to Selection of Obama as Commencement Speaker

At the news of Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon’s decision to decline the University of Notre Dame’s offer of the prestigious Laetare Medal and a speaking platform on account of the selection of President Obama as commencement speaker, Cardinal Newman Society president Patrick J. Reilly issued the following statement:

“Mary Ann Glendon is one of the most accomplished Catholic and pro-life leaders of our time. In heroic fashion, she has willingly sacrificed an award that she richly deserves, as a casualty of Notre Dame's choice to betray its Catholic mission. We urge Catholics nationwide to continue to pray that Notre Dame will end this scandal.”

Below is the text of the Honorable Mary Ann Glendon’s letter to the president of The University of Notre Dame, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.

April 27, 2009
The Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
University of Notre Dame

Dear Father Jenkins,

When you informed me in December 2008 that I had been selected to receive Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal, I was profoundly moved. I treasure the memory of receiving an honorary degree from Notre Dame in 1996, and I have always felt honored that the commencement speech I gave that year was included in the anthology of Notre Dame’s most memorable commencement speeches. So I immediately began working on an acceptance speech that I hoped would be worthy of the occasion, of the honor of the medal, and of your students and faculty.

Last month, when you called to tell me that the commencement speech was to be given by President Obama, I mentioned to you that I would have to rewrite my speech. Over the ensuing weeks, the task that once seemed so delightful has been complicated by a number of factors.

First, as a longtime consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I could not help but be dismayed by the news that Notre Dame also planned to award the president an honorary degree. This, as you must know, was in disregard of the U.S. bishops’ express request of 2004 that Catholic institutions “should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles” and that such persons “should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” That request, which in no way seeks to control or interfere with an institution’s freedom to invite and engage in serious debate with whomever it wishes, seems to me so reasonable that I am at a loss to understand why a Catholic university should disrespect it.

Then I learned that “talking points” issued by Notre Dame in response to widespread criticism of its decision included two statements implying that my acceptance speech would somehow balance the event:

• “President Obama won’t be doing all the talking. Mary Ann Glendon, the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, will be speaking as the recipient of the Laetare Medal.”

• “We think having the president come to Notre Dame, see our graduates, meet our leaders, and hear a talk from Mary Ann Glendon is a good thing for the president and for the causes we care about.”

A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.

Finally, with recent news reports that other Catholic schools are similarly choosing to disregard the bishops’ guidelines, I am concerned that Notre Dame’s example could have an unfortunate ripple effect.

It is with great sadness, therefore, that I have concluded that I cannot accept the Laetare Medal or participate in the May 17 graduation ceremony.

In order to avoid the inevitable speculation about the reasons for my decision, I will release this letter to the press, but I do not plan to make any further comment on the matter at this time.

Yours Very Truly,

Mary Ann Glendon

Mary Ann Glendon is Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. A member of the editorial and advisory board of First Things, she served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican from 2007 to 2009.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Greinke Does it Again!

Zack Greinke continues to sparkle! Greinke pitched a three hit complete game and would have had a shutout if it wasn't for an unearned run in the 5th. Zack struck out 10. Grienke is now 4-0 and still has an ERA of 0.00.
Royals 6. Tigers 1. KC is now 9-7 and in sole possession of 1st place - assuming the White Sox, who are behind 12-0, lose.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

No Excuse for Perez Hilton's Behavior

Re: The Perez Hilton vs. Carrie Prejean (Miss California) saga

I strongly condemn Perez Hilton's boorish behavior. Believe me Hilton does not speak for all gays and lesbians. Personally I'm embarrassed by him and gays like him. His hateful rantings are despicable and totally out of line. He owes Miss California a GENUINE apology.

Hilton asked Carrie Prejean a question about gay marriage and she gave an honest answer. Well that was just too much for the bigoted Hilton to take. How dare a contestant in the Miss USA pageant answer a question with integrity rather than political correctness! We can't have that!

Hilton's subsequent personal attacks on Prejean reinforce what I have learned through personal experience and that is this: Some of the most intolerant people around are the same gays and lesbians who are always preaching to others about tolerance. As a gay conservative I know firsthand the abuse that gay liberals will heap on anyone who dares to disagree with them about anything.

As far as gay marriage goes I have mixed feelings, but that is a subject for another post. My point here is that people ought to be able to express their opinion on the issue without worrying about coming under attack.

It especially troubles me that Christians are coming under attack more and more often nowadays. Without doubt, Christians are the most persecuted group of people in America today. The hate and bigotry that secularists like Perez Hilton spew forth daily against people of faith sickens me. The sad reality is that there are a lot of Perez Hiltons out there. God help us!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Royals vs. Rangers

Texas Rangers 6. Kansas City Royals 5.
Tom and I went to the Rangers/Royals game this afternoon. We had a good time despite the Royals losing. At least when we left, after the Royals batted in the top of the 8th, KC was up 5-2. We listened to the rest of the game on the way home and I'm glad we weren't there. The Royals bullpen had a total meltdown. The Rangers scored three runs in the bottom of the 8th to tie it. Then Michael Young hit a home run in the bottom of the 9th to win it for the Rangers.

We had great seats right behind the 3rd base dugout. Tom didn't care that we were in the sun and got up several times during the game to stand in the shade. I enjoyed the sun very much - my only regret is that I didn't wear sun screen and got a little bit burnt.

As usual there were a lot of Royals fans at the game since there are many Kansas City natives living in Dallas. In the top pic above I'm wearing the free Rangers cap they gave me at the gate (it was Cap Day today) - but my heart is still with the Royals. We usually try to go to see the Royals every time they are in town.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Greinke Pitches a Gem

Royals 2 Rangers 0
Just finished watching the Royals & Rangers game. My favorite pitcher, Zack Greinke, pitched a complete game shutout. Wow! This would be a great start against anyone but considering all of the bats in the Rangers lineup it is extremely impressive! Greinke now owns the team record for consecutive scoreless innings pitched (34) surpassing Kevin Appier. He is 3-0 and has not allowed a run in 20 innings in 2009. Way to go Zack!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Come and Get Me Janet

Sure signs you are a potentially dangerous right-wing extremist and will be subject to monitoring by Obama's homeland "security" department:

You believe in God and you live your faith.

You believe that "Thou shalt not kill" means exactly what it says.

You believe charity is defined by what you give of yourself - not by how much you demand others to give of themselves.

You believe in American exceptionalism and that the U.S. has been a force for good in the world.

You believe that freedom isn't free and must be constantly safeguarded.

You believe in peace through strength.

You are a veteran and strong supporter of the U.S. military.

You believe liberty is an inalienable right that cannot be conferred or taken away by government.

You don't believe in a "living" Constitution - nor do you believe in judicial activism.

You believe in the free exercise of religion, freedom of speech, the right to keep & bear arms and the rest of the Bill Of Rights.

You judge people by the content of their character - not by the color of their skin.

You trust your friends and neighbors more than you trust government.

You believe that capitalism beats all the other "isms".

You believe that we are Taxed Enough Already.

You work and pay your own way in life and expect others to do the same.

You believe in personal responsibility and that rewarding bad behavior just encourages more bad behavior.

You believe it is quite reasonable to question the "science" of global warming.

You believe in protecting our borders.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dallas Tea Party

I just arrived home from the Dallas Tea Party and am fired up! Tonight was about sending a message to politicians at every level of government - this reckless spending has got to stop! We are sick and tired of a government which takes us for granted. It is high time that politicians pay attention to the PRODUCERS instead of the parasites who freeload off of us.

A couple of the speakers tonight referenced John Galt. Who is John Galt? He was the hero in Ayn Rand's classic "Atlas Shrugged." I've read this book twice and believe it should be required reading for every high school student. Galt and the other producers withdrew from the world to let the looters fend for themselves. You can probably guess how that turned out.

Conservative radio celebrity Mark Davis emceed the Dallas Tea Party and did a fantastic job. We got a nice surprise when Michelle Malkin called Mark on his wireless. He put Michelle on speakerphone up close to his mike and she spoke to the crowd for a few minutes. I just love Michelle!

My office is just a block away from City Hall where the Tea Party was held so it was very convenient for me to walk over to the event after work. I had only intended to stay for about an hour but once in the company of so many other patriotic God-fearing Americans I didn't want to leave. I ended up staying until 8pm and then walked back to my office building to grab my briefcase before catching the train home.

Thousands show up for Dallas 'tea party'; Texas Gov. Rick Perry riles Austin
06:56 PM CDT on Wednesday, April 15, 2009
By WAYNE SLATER and DAVE LEVINTHAL/ The Dallas Morning News

Police estimated several thousand people attended the Dallas tea party event, which kicked off shortly after 6 p.m. Protesters waved yellow “don’t tread on me” flags and a variety of colorful signs alternately decrying taxes, panning a federal economic stimulus package, chiding President Barack Obama as a socialist/communist and announcing Christ has risen.

Becky Hanshaw, a pink papier machie pig hat atop her head, said she drove 10 hours from McAllen to attend the rally because “it’s time to stop the craziness.” “I work too hard to give my money away,” said Hanshaw, a dental hygienist by trade. “This is a message to both parties, because I don’t believe the Republican party is conservative enough.”

In Austin earlier today, Gov. Rick Perry told an anti-tax "tea party" Wednesday the federal government is "rampaging through the halls of Congress" with big-spending programs and only states' rights can stop it. "We will not stand our pockets being picked, our children's future being mortgaged, our rights being taken away," the Republican governor told a cheering crowd of 1,000 people outside Austin City Hall.

Perry dismissed characterizations that those attending Wednesday's "tea party" rallies in Texas and around the country are "a bunch of right-wing extremists." "But if you are, I'm with you," he said.

During the speech, people waved "Don't Tread on Me" flags and signs lampooning the Obama administration's economic stimulus efforts. Some shouted, "Secede!"

Among the signs: "Obama. Liar in Chief" and "I'll Keep My Guns and Money. You Can Keep the Change."

Taxed Enough Already (TEA) Party Day

Today Americans all over the country will be attending tea parties as a peaceful show of protest at all of the socialist spending taking place in Washington DC. Hopefully this signals the resurgence of the conservative movement to take back America from the radicals.


Lead Story on Drudge Report

Tue Apr 14 2009 08:44:54 ET

AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry joined state Rep. Brandon Creighton and sponsors of House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 50 in support of states’ rights under the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“I believe that our federal government has become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of our citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state,” Gov. Perry said. “That is why I am here today to express my unwavering support for efforts all across our country to reaffirm the states’ rights affirmed by the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I believe that returning to the letter and spirit of the U.S. Constitution and its essential 10th Amendment will free our state from undue regulations, and ultimately strengthen our Union.”

Perry continued: "Millions of Texans are tired of Washington, DC trying to come down here to tell us how to run Texas."

A number of recent federal proposals are not within the scope of the federal government’s constitutionally designated powers and impede the states’ right to govern themselves. HCR 50 affirms that Texas claims sovereignty under the 10th Amendment over all powers not otherwise granted to the federal government.

It also designates that all compulsory federal legislation that requires states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties, or that requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding, be prohibited or repealed.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Look Back at the Past Week

Highlights and lowlights:
- Great news! Daddy's surgery on Tuesday was successful - they were able to remove the rest of the tumor.
- My sister Lori was hospitalized on Tuesday with an infection in her leg. She was released from the hospital on Friday but will need to remain on antibiotics for awhile longer.
- Mother hasn't had any headaches in the past week. She had banged her head pretty bad about three weeks ago. The doctor did a brain scan and all looked fine. The doctor had told mother the headaches would probably last about two weeks. Thankfully it looks like they have gone away.
- I had a follow up doctor's appointment on Wednesday. Doctor says the tendinitis in my right arm is much better. I was given the OK to resume light upper body workouts! I worked my triceps tonight for the first time in 2 1/2 weeks. Although I used light weight I did a lot more reps. I'm sure I'll be sore tomorrow!
- AT&T and CWA still haven't reached agreement on a new labor contract but the union is continuing to work under the old contract.
- Tommy had the day off on Good Friday. I was supposed to have a full day of vacation but had a lot of work that I had to get done so I ended up working Friday morning and taking 1/2 day vacation. It was another very busy week for me at work.
- We spent the weekend in Goldthwaite. Left Dallas at 1pm on Friday and got back home at about 1:30 this afternoon. Last night we went to Jessica's (Tom's niece) birthday party at Kay and Mark's house. We had a nice visit to G'waite - it was great spending time with Tom's family.
- The Kansas City Royals are 3-3 after the first week of the season. We lost our season opener on Tuesday in Chicago but came back and beat the White Sox on Wednesday and Thursday to take the series. We then hosted the Yankees for a weekend series. New York won the first two games but the Royals avoided the sweep by winning today. Not a bad first week. I'm predicting that the Royals will win 85 games this season. The Royals have some great young arms so I'm confident we can do it!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Start of Baseball Season

The beginning of baseball season is one of my favorite times of year. Maybe it's the feeling that spring really is here. Or maybe its the anticipation of what the new season will bring for my favorite team - the Kansas City Royals. I don't know but I always get jazzed.

The Royals were supposed to open their season in Chicago tomorrow against the White Sox; however I just found out that the opener was postponed until Tuesday due to weather. Bummer.

As I say every year - THIS could be the season the Royals win it all. You never know. That is what is so exciting about it.

AT&T Bargaining Update

Below is a public statement released today by AT&T. Going into the new week, I'm just going to focus on doing my job and try not to let the ongoing negotiations be a distraction.

Negotiations continue, AT&T announces highlights of proposals to CWA
April 5 – Today AT&T Inc. and Communications Workers of America (CWA) continued to meet and negotiate toward new agreements for 80,500 Core wireline employees. The current agreements expired at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, April 4.

In the Southeast, where the contract does not expire until August 8, both parties have agreed to stop negotiations and reconvene this summer – as they would have under normal circumstances. These 32,000 union-represented employees are no longer part of the current negotiations.

AT&T’s wireline business is declining (20 percent of consumer access lines lost in the past 3 years), yet it is the part of the business where union employees have the richest health care benefits. Union-represented Core wireline employees pay similar amounts for their health care as union workers at the Big 3 automakers pay – and it’s clear what those sorts of unsustainable costs have done to America’s auto industry. These employees also pay significantly lower than what other AT&T employees pay, including those covered by other CWA contracts.

In a time when other employers are totally abandoning health care benefits – as well as pensions and wage increases – AT&T takes pride in being able to continue to provide good jobs with good wages and benefits that among the best in the nation to all of its employees. To that end, here is a general summary of the present proposals made by AT&T:

• Health care plans that keep Core wireline bargained-for employees with lower health care costs than AT&T management, other recently negotiated CWA agreements, competitors and well below the national average – remaining one the of most robust health care plans in the nation. Some elements of the plans include:
o Employee heath care costs pegged to wages, so that those who earn less, pay less for deductibles
o Full company-funded coverage of all preventative care, including annual physicals, mammograms, well-baby care, and immunizations
• Wage increases for all years of the agreement, through a combination of wage progression, raises and lump sum payments – at a time when many U.S. employers are either asking for wage concessions or freezing wages
• Upgrades for premises technicians – including additional wage increases beyond those outlined above and, where needed, conversion of employees from temporary to regular status
• Increase in pension contributions every year of the agreement and continuation of the 401k plan with generous company match, even as employers are decreasing or eliminating this benefit

It is important to note that the highlights above are what the company has proposed and is not an all-inclusive list. All items are still on the table and pending negotiation by the Company and the union.

The Company stands ready to negotiate with the CWA at any time in a continuing effort to reach an agreement.
Yesterday was another busy day.

Tom and I had breakfast at Kel's and then ran errands. Among our many stops: Target, Tiffany's at the Galleria (to pick up my necklace that was being repaired), car wash, SuperCuts & the dry cleaners. By the time we got home, Casey (our housekeeper) was there getting things back to normal.

UPDATE: Rob finished painting on Friday, except for the inside front door and some minor touch-up. The new paint job looks fantastic! I must say that Tom did a great job picking out the colors! He truly is VERY good at that kind of thing, although he doesn't think so.

We then took an afternoon drive to locate the call center that I would have to work in should there be a work stoppage at my company. Since I'm not very good at directions (even with my navigator) I wanted to make a test run.

It was a beautiful 80 degree day in Dallas so when we got home from our drive I sat by the pool (in a tee-shirt and a pair of shorts) to read, relax and soak up some rays! I needed some downtime after the extremely busy week I had at work.

After a late afternoon nap, it was time to go to a spring party at Ranil & Craig's house. Ranil and Craig are good friends that we met through LCR. They had Uncle Julio's cater the food (fajitas) which was a nice treat since that is one of our favorite places to eat! We had fun and saw a lot of friends, but left the party early (around 9:30pm).

With a potential work stoppage looming I didn't want to stay out too late - this worked out fine since Tom really doesn't likes to stay out past 9:30pm anyway! As each time zone reached the 11:59pm expiration of the company/union contract I received text updates. Good news on that front: although a settlement has not been reached, talks are continuing WITHOUT a work stoppage - see below AP article for the latest.

AT&T and union talks continue past deadline

AT&T and unions for its landline workers were working past a strike deadline Sunday to try to reach agreement on a new contract.

Core wireline contracts across the country expired at 11:59 p.m. Saturday, but union-represented employees covered by those contracts continued to work under the old agreements, according to a statement issued by AT&T.

Issues such as employment security and health care have yet to be resolved, but union members will report to work, "although that can change at any time," the Communications Workers of America said on its Web site Sunday.

The union said several of its districts have filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board, accusing AT&T of refusing to provide information necessary to resolve outstanding issues.

"The CWA bargaining teams are very frustrated by AT&T's slow pace in negotiations," union spokeswoman Candice Johnson said late Saturday.

AT&T spokesman Walt Sharp said the NLRB charges are "very common" during negotiations and that AT&T stands ready to negotiate at any time to reach an agreement.

AT&T is the most heavily unionized company in the U.S., with either 112,500 CWA workers (according to the company) or 125,000 (according to the union).

The company has said a strike won't disrupt phone service because managers and contractors can keep the operation running. When this batch of contracts expired five years ago, workers struck for four days before reaching an agreement.

One key issue is the Dallas-based company's attempt to have workers and retirees pay more of the costs of their health care. The company has said it spends $5.5 billion per year to subsidize health care for 1.2 million people, including workers, retirees, and dependents.

The company said other remaining issues include wages, pensions, and work rules.

Contracts for workers in five units were each expiring at 11:59 p.m. local time in their region. Each region was bargaining separately. That means some could make a deal while others strike, Johnson said.

The units include a national group as well as workers in the Northeast, Midwest, Southwest, and West. The talks were taking place in New Haven, Conn.; Oakton, Va.; the Chicago area; Austin, Texas; and San Francisco.

An update posted Saturday by the unit that covers Midwestern workers said the company was offering "modest wage increases that would likely have our standard of living move backward over the life of the contract." AT&T also wants to reduce the value of lump-sum pension payments and eliminate the pension for new workers, the union said.

AT&T "told us that the benefits/pension proposal was a 'final offer.' They are either not serious about the word 'final' or not serious about getting a contract," the union wrote.

Workers in the Southeast, who were bargaining in Atlanta, agreed to stop negotiations and reconvene this summer. Their contract doesn't expire until August so they can't strike at midnight, the company said.

The employees covered by the expiring contracts work for the part of the company that is shrinking. AT&T's traditional wired phone business fell 3.3 percent to $17.1 billion last year, while wireless revenue grew 13 percent to $12.9 billion as customers continued to defect to cable phone services or dropped their landlines in favor of mobile phones.

AT&T earned a $12.9 billion profit for the year, up from $12 billion in 2007. Its fourth-quarter profit fell 24 percent from the prior year, though, paradoxically because of its success in selling more of Apple's iPhones than expected. AT&T subsidizes the upfront expense of the iPhone, aiming to make the money back over the two-year service contract.

Iowa and gay marriage

The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday paved the way for gay marriage in that state. I have very mixed feelings about this decision. On the one hand I'm glad that gays have scored a victory in our fight for equality. With Iowa being a neighbor to my home state (Missouri) this really hits close to home. I never thought that this day would come in the heartland of America. Perhaps Tom and I will plan a trip to IA???

On the other hand I truly wish this victory would have come at the ballot box instead of the courts. Fundamentally I have genuine concerns about judges making law whether I agree with their decision or not. The biggest part of me just thinks that it is not their proper constitutional role.

Unanimous ruling: Iowa marriage no longer limited to one man, one woman
By JEFF ECKHOFF and GRANT SCHULTE • • April 3, 2009

Basic fairness and constitutional equal protection were the linchpins of Friday’s historic Iowa Supreme Court ruling that overturned a 10-year-old ban on same-sex marriage and puts Iowa squarely in the center of the nation’s debate over gay rights.

The unanimous, 69-page decision maintains a church’s right to decide who can be married under its roof, but it runs counter to the expressed opinion of a majority of Iowans who believe marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman.

The landmark ruling is guaranteed to send shock waves through politics in Iowa and beyond. With no appeal as an option, opponents say their only hope to overturn Friday’s decision is an almost-certain bid to amend the state constitution. But that path, which would eventually require a public vote, would not yield results until 2012 at the earliest.

Enactment of an amendment requires approval by consecutive General Assemblies of the Legislature — a General Assembly lasts two years — and a vote of the people.

In the meantime, Iowa remains one of three states in the nation, and the only state in the Midwest, where gays and lesbians can legally marry. The ruling takes effect April 24. Iowa has no residency requirement for marriage licenses, which virtually assures a rush of applications from out-of-state visitors. The ruling opens the marital door to an estimated 5,800 gay couples in Iowa.

The Rev. Mark Stringer said he cried when he learned of Friday’s decision. Stringer performed the only legal same-sex marriage in Iowa when he officiated a 2007 ceremony in the brief window between a Polk County judge’s ruling and the subsequent court-ordered delay so the Supreme Court could weigh in.

“It’s really an astounding moment under our history,” Stringer said. “What really excites me is that Iowa is the first in our area of the country. We are being a leader in civil rights, which will be part of our state’s history.”

Friday’s decision stemmed from a 2005 lawsuit filed by six gay and lesbian couples who were denied marriage licenses by the Polk County recorder’s office. The seven justices affirmed Polk County Judge Robert Hanson’s ruling that Iowa’s ban on same-sex marriages treated gay and lesbian couples unequally under the law.

“We are firmly convinced that the exclusion of gay and lesbian people from the institution of civil marriage does not substantially further any important governmental objective,” the court said in an opinion written by Justice Mark Cady. “The legislature has excluded a historically disfavored class of persons from a supremely important civil institution without a constitutionally sufficient justification.”

The ruling appeared to dismiss the option of civil unions as a marriage alternative, finding that “a new distinction based on sexual orientation would be equally suspect and difficult to square with the fundamental principles of equal protection embodied in our constitution.”

Friday’s decision also addressed what it called the “religious undercurrent propelling the same-sex marriage debate” and said judges must remain outside the fray.

“Our constitution does not permit any branch of government to resolve these types of religious debates and entrusts to courts the task of ensuring that government avoids them,” Cady wrote.

“This approach does not disrespect or denigrate the religious views of many Iowans who may strongly believe in marriage as a dual-gender union, but considers, as we must, only the constitutional rights of all people, as expressed by the promise of equal protection for all.”

The Polk County lawsuit, Varnum vs. Brien, was financed by Lambda Legal, a gay-rights group that has fought similar battles across the country.

“We won! It is unanimous!” Lambda attorney Camilla Taylor exclaimed when the decision was announced. “Today the dream becomes reality … and the Iowa Constitution’s promise of equality is fulfilled. Iowans have never waited for others to do the right thing. ”

Lambda chose Iowa because of the fair-mindedness of residents and the courts, leaders of the group have said.

But Iowa also offered several strategic advantages, according to Drake University law professor Mark Kende, who described the ruling as “very well reasoned” and predicted it will have national, possibly international, influence.

“There’s a perception of Iowa as a fair, reasonable and decent place,” Kende said. “We’re not perceived as being overly Republican or overly Democrat.”

The decision could create new, interstate legal battles, he said, when couples who flock to Iowa to marry might not have their vows recognized in other states that prohibit same-sex marriage.

Opponents, some of whom showed up outside the judicial building early Friday to await the ruling, hung their hopes on a constitutional challenge that legislative leaders said earlier this week was a long shot.

Lawyers said Lambda’s decision to sue based solely on state constitutional claims means the case was guaranteed to end in Iowa, away from a more conservative U.S. Supreme Court.

Polk County authorities acknowledged Friday that they have no plans to ask for a review by the state high court. An appeal to federal court is not an option, since the Iowa Supreme Court is the final word on matters of Iowa law.

Public opinion is a different matter. A February 2008 Iowa Poll conducted by The Des Moines Register showed that most Iowans believed marriage involves one man and one woman. However, the poll also showed that a majority of Iowa adults supported civil unions that would grant benefits to gay couples similar to those offered to married heterosexuals.

For several Iowa couples, Friday’s victory sparked movement on long-held plans. Kate and Trish Varnum, two of the lawsuit plaintiffs, announced their engagement at a news conference.

“Good morning,” Kate Varnum said. “I’d like to introduce you to my fiancee. Today, I am proud to be a lifelong Iowan.”

Several blocks away, Diane Thacker’s eyes filled with tears when the ruling was read to a crowd that had gathered outside the Iowa Judicial Building.

“Sadness,” she whispered. “But I’m prayerful and hope that God’s word will stand.”
Thacker said she joined a group of gay-marriage opponents “because I believe in the marriage vow. I can’t see it any other way.”

Friday’s decision is expected to take formal effect when the Supreme Court issues a legal order to carry out the ruling in three weeks.

National interest in the decision is believed to be at least partly responsible for the 1.5 million people who deluged the Iowa Supreme Court’s Web site before 11 a.m. Richard Socarides, a former senior adviser to President Bill Clinton on gay civil rights, said that the ruling could mean as much to gay couples outside Iowa as in.

“I think it’s significant, because Iowa is considered a Midwest state in the mainstream of American thought,” Socarides said . “Unlike states on the coasts, there’s nothing more American than Iowa. As they say during the presidential caucuses, 'As Iowa goes, so goes the nation.’”

Others saw it differently.

• Doug Napier, a lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund in Arizona, said the Iowa Supreme Court “stepped out of its proper role in interpreting the law.”
The 1998 Defense of Marriage Act “was simple, it was settled, and overwhelmingly supported by Iowans,” Napier said. “There was simply no legitimate reason for the court to redefine marriage.”

• Maggie Gallagher, president of the National Organization for Marriage, a New Jersey group, said, “Once again, the most undemocratic branch of government is being used to advance an agenda the majority of Americans reject.”

• Bishop Richard Pates of the Des Moines Diocese urged “the voice of the Iowa people to rise in support of a constitutional amendment which clearly upholds the definition of marriage. We will then join the deafening chorus of citizens in every state, 30 to date, who have voted to preserve civil marriage as it has been recognized and defined since the beginning of recorded history for the benefit of marriage, families, children and the common good.”

Obama at Notre Dame

When I first heard that Notre Dame had invited BHO to be its commencement speaker and that they planned to confer on him an honorary law degree I thought it was a cruel joke. Certainly the premier Catholic university in America would do no such thing. BHO has been nothing less than hostile to the Catholic faith (really to believers of all faiths). I soon learned that sadly this was no joke - ND really did do the unthinkable!

I sent an email to "Reverend" Jenkins, the President of Notre Dame, expressing my strong disapproval and signed the petition at which has over 240,000 signatures and counting! I also joined the "Notre Dame Scandal" FaceBook group.

We have got to stop this mockery of the Catholic faith! Ken Connor's article today helps explain:

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Not much to write about tonight. I caught the 8:08am train which got me into the office at 8:45am.

There were very strong winds downtown this afternoon - over 50mph. My friend Greg and I took a break and walked down the street to 7-11. On our way we got caught in a wind tunnel and just about got blown over! It was difficult to stay standing!

As usual we left the office just after 4:30pm to catch the train. I got home at around 5:20pm and worked until 9pm (except for a 1/2 hour dinner break when Tom and I went to Taco Cabana). I'm now thoroughly exhausted and ready to just veg until bedtime.

Good news on the home paint job! It looks great and Rob plans to be mostly done tomorrow except for a bit of trim - which he'll finish up on Monday.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Another 12 hour work day. I was supposed to have an LCR board meeting tonight but unfortunately I had to miss it because I was working late - again! I'm finally relaxing in front of the TV watching the American Idol results show.

The front of the home looks like a tornado blew threw - everything is stacked up in the center of the living room. It looks like Rob is doing a very nice job painting but man, I sure will be glad when he is finished so we can get our home back to normal.

That's it for tonight. I'm going to do a bit of exercise and then ice my arm. Oh yea, I have bad tendinitis in both arms (especially the right one). I went to the doctor a week ago today. Doctor's orders: no upper-body workouts for at least the next two weeks. Pills. Ice arm for 20 minutes every evening.

On a final note: today was April Fools Day. As I was working in the study this evening Tom came running in from outside hollering that there was a dead dog floating in our pool. Fool that I am, I jumped up and followed him outside - only to be told "April's Fools". I admit, Tom did get me!