Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Slight Interruption

Not on hiatus, but the time I am able to devote to this has been severely reduced because of the role I have accepted as Press Secretary to Kevin Acklin, the independent candidate for mayor of Pittsburgh. I plan to revisit this from time to time, rather than let this sit idle. Feel free to leave comments regarding the blog or any other subject you like. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you. Andy

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Common Sense Gun Control

The shots that took the lives of three Pittsburgh Police Officers were heard across the country and have resumed the debate about the sale of assault weapons, like the AK-47, which Richard Poplawski had armed himself with when he took on the city's police force back on April 4th. Governor Rendell was right when, in the wake of Poplawski's rage, he said, "these weapons have absolutely no purpose but to kill." I mean, how many of even the most die-hard gun and hunting enthusiasts would endorse the idea of trying to bring down a deer with an AK-47? Certainly not with the aim of bringing it home in one piece. What some might view as a distasteful illustration of its fire power only serves to illustrate my point. This is a killing machine, a weapon of war, not to be viewed as "a collector's item" for so-called "sports enthusiasts". And that's why Governor Rendell, joined by Pittsburgh's Mayor, is calling upon congress to reinstate the ban on the sale of assault weapons that was lifted ten years ago. But if what happened in Pittsburgh City Council this week is any indication, that will remain an elusive target. A delegation of State Legislators, led by Republican Daryl Metcalf of Cranberry has vowed to block any effort on the part of council to pass local gun laws that would, among other things, prohibit the sale of assault weapons. No way, says Metcalf and others, that the state is going to relinquish control of such matters to local jurisdictions. This came even as the head of the National Rifle Association was whipping up the crowd at a rally in Harrisburg, warning, once again, that the right to bear arms is in jeopardy. Excuse me, but hogwash! Are all gun owners and those who speak for them suffering from a severe deficit of common sense? And that, by the way, includes the legislators who cower at the idea of being in the NRA's sights. What will it take for them to suddenly become enlightened? Another massacre? Or just a few more police officers being ambushed by an AK-47 wielding deranged gun owner.

Speaking her mind

She said nothing derogatory, demeaning or profane towards or about those Perez Hilton professes to represent. She was simply asked for her opinion and it cost Miss California, Carrie Prejean, the title of Miss USA. Whatever you might think about such beauty pageants, it's important to remember here that the candidates are not running for political office. So Ms.Prejean and her competitors are not about initiating or shaping public policy. She was simply asked to speak her mind and, in accordance with her beliefs, she did so. She does not believe in gay marriage. "I was true to myself", Ms.Prejean later said. Isn't that an admirable trait for someone pursuing such a title? Especially, of course, as she was not outright condemning the beliefs of many others or recommending they be treated as lepers. She and the other candidates on stage with her earlier this week deserve the right to answer questions put to them without fear of intimidation. The audacity of Perez Hilton to think her answer had to be his answer! By the way, any semblance of credibility or credentials he might have brought to the table were totally shattered by Hilton's later reference to Carrie Prejean as "a dumb bitch". While she lost the title she no less managed to take center stage. It would be interesting to see how Hilton would fare on "Celebrity Apprentice", hosted by the same man who put together this year's Miss USA Pageant. Be nice to hear Donald Trump giving him a much deserved, "You're Fired"!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Holy Hot Buttered Popcorn!

Holy hot buttered popcorn, Batman! Did you catch those prices? Ten four, Robin. That’s why I smuggle Orville’s into the theater, if I can get it past the concession police. Holy half hour of previews before the main attraction, Batman, I’m not talking about the popcorn but the ticket prices! Especially for the 3-D movies. That’s certainly the way I felt this past weekend while dolling out $19-bucks for two tickets--for a registered AARP member and a ten-year-old! They up the ante, as you probably know, to cover the cost of the 3-D glasses. Now I know that in this time of severe economic crisis, more people are going to the movies, just to get away from it all. And it seems the theater owners and movie makers are putting a premium on escape, rather than cutting you a break. By the way, these were matinee prices! $9.50 a piece, instead of the usual $6.50 a head. Six dollars more, the result of the $3.00 “surcharge” per ticket, to cover the cost of the 3-D equipment that theater operators lease. Never suspected I’d be stiffed like that but not wanting to disappoint my 10-year-old grandson who had been successfully reeled in by the barrage of tv promotions in advance of the film’s release, I took the plunge. However, I struck popcorn and a drink from the menu to avoid adding another eleven-bucks to the bill. . .

This being the third 3-D movie we’ve seen in the past couple of months, I wondered if we could save 6-bucks on a pair of tickets by holding on to our 3-Day glasses from the earlier films. “ No way,” says a teenager at the ticket counter with the tone of a teacher, chastising you for being late with your homework assignment. After some prodding, you’re told you can use the glasses from a previous 3-D like the “Jonas Brothers Concert”, “Coraline”, and “Journey to the Center of the Earth”. However, you still have to pay the 3-dollar “surcharge”. Covers the cost of the 3-D equipment theater managers lease to be a part of the latest movie craze. But it seems the movie managers are making more than enough to cover the cost of the 3-D technology. What’s next, will we have to pay extra for the “Birthday Crowns” at Burger King? You wonder about the wiggle room the movie chains have to work with and why, in this time when we all need a break from reality, that they seem bent on cashing in on it. The weekend gross for the debut of “Monsters Versus Aliens” was projected to be well over $58 Million in ticket sales. That’s well ahead of “Race to Witch Mountain” following its debut three weeks ago. Seems it’s time for a price break at the concession stand. Like maybe a buck or two off that bag of hot buttered popcorn that costs no more than a few cents to make and doesn’t really contain butter. Where’s Batman when you need him?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

AIG Bashing

If there was any doubt about it, the appearance recently of AIG's new CEO before a Congressional committee demonstrated that, Americans in general, are, "mad as hell and they're not going to take it any more". It gave members of the House Financial Services Committee a chance to crow and distance themselves from a debacle for which their constituents are likely to hold them equally accountable. And why not? As we taxpayers are holding 80% of AIG.It's little comfort to anyone recently laid off, facing the prospect of being unemployed or agonizing over the loss of their life's savings, that Edward Liddy, AIG's new chairman, finds, "it's distasteful to have to make these payments", meaning, of course, the $165 million in bonuses paid out to more than 200 AIG executives. All of whom, by the way, had they been managing a major sports franchise, would have been fired mid-season. With AIG the logic seems to work in reverse. While the company says it is contractually obligated to pay the bonuses, it admits that to have denied them might have triggered a mass exodus of talented executives! Talent? And who would want those who proved they were neither the best nor the brightest but otherwise greedy enough to bring AIG to the brink of extinction. Even though it is unlikely Americans will get the revenge they feel entitled to, they are nonetheless determined to get an accounting of who got what and are likewise itching to know who knew what and when. Senate Finance Committee member, Chris Dodd, has nobly offered it was his decision to let the bonus payments go forward but only after being "pressured" by others. Let's hope it's someone who was truly culpable and not just a scapegoat paraded before the cameras to appeal to those wanting blood. It's a new era, says President Obama. Right now Americans are wondering how much longer before it begins.