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I know I could graduate two or more semesters early if only I would take summer classes. But I won’t. Two courses a semester on top of working full-time and trying to have a life (and have some fun!) is too stressful and I need the three-month break from formal education, tests, papers, discussion boards, wikis and required reading. I admire and applaud those that go to school year round and know that we all have different goals, restrictions and time frames.

I spent most of this summer on my self-help project. I realized that I needed to let go of some things, move on with others, change some behaviors, and learn why I keep making some of the same mistakes and how to make better choices. I also needed to figure out what I want to do when I grow up.

I did a LOT of reading—blogs, articles, and books. Not all information is good information. In fact, some of it is garbage. However, a little discernment and fact checking can do wonders. A beauty magazine suggested a biotin supplement to improve my soft, splitting nails. Dr. Oz said it was OK. I have been taking it for several months and my nails have improved. Speaking of Dr. Oz, I work in the same complex and happened to be in the elevator with him one morning. He must have been experiencing a bad day, because he was not the same persona as on TV. Excuuuuuse me.

I read all kinds of relationship advice, ranging from carving my initials into the leather seats of someone’s car to reciting the following mantra over and over again: “I’m sorry; please forgive me; I love you; thank you.” Forgiveness of a behavior does not mean acceptance, and it allows the forgiver to find peace and move on. Acknowledging my part in a failed venture and seeking forgiveness for my failures is an important ingredient in recovery. Grudges and holding onto hurts destroy the soul.

I read some excellent books, including one with simple yet creative ideas on how to handle money, a beautifully written but disturbing book about the spiritual, physical, and bureaucratic struggles of inhabitants of a Mumbai slum and a poorly written but “different” trilogy about alternate lifestyles. OK—it was the Fifty Shades of Grey books. The first one was riveting and thought provoking, but the experience became less interesting through book two and turned into a boring, eye-rolling page-turner by the third installment. Part of the problem may have been that I read all three books over a several day marathon. Even though I was number 1,000 something on the New York Public Library e-book list for each book, they happened to become available at the same time and I did not want to have to re-request them and become number 1,000 something again.

I tried some new recipes and made food I enjoy but usually buy prepared or in a restaurant. Hummus did not turn out as good as Sabra’s, but my gazpacho is very tasty (but not as good as Billy’s, the brother of a friend) and my sesame noodles are not bad. Since I had so much leftover fresh ginger from the sesame noodles, I chopped it and added it to boiling water for a few minutes. I ended up with ginger water that tastes great in a tall glass of ice or mixed with tea.

Besides cooking, I took time to enjoy crafts again. I made a few pieces of jewelry, picked up a needlepoint that I hadn’t touched in many years, and will finish (I will finish!) the sweater I started about 10 years ago and left more than half done.

One of the best suggestions I learned on the self-help journey is to expand my social group. Be open to new people, different types of people, other experiences and settings. Meetup.com has a meetup group for any and every interest. Joining a group is free and I now belong to several. I have been on walking tours of lower Manhattan, visited Coney Island and City Island, went out to dinner and brunch, explored my ancestry and did other really interesting things with people I did not know a few months ago. I have old and dear friends, but we don’t have the same interests in everything, the time or the resources. I have made some new friends and I am taking a trip with one of them through our travel meetup group.

I have learned so much through my informal education this summer. I am grateful for everything that has brought me to this point in my life (the good and the bad, because nothing is a mistake if you learn from it) and the sense of accomplishment and empowerment that comes with the ongoing and never ending self-discovery process. The journey is as important, if not more important, than the destination.

Mary Casey is a student in the MS in Business Leadership and Management program at CUNY School of Professional Studies and is an alumna of Lehman College. She is an administrator for a university in NYC. She loves to travel and wants to see as much of the world as possible. Mary created and maintained a community/political blog from 2002 to 2004.

What a group. What a choice. The remaining field of Republican presidential candidates is one of the weakest in history. It is not just the liberal media that thinks so. Former Republican Congressman and current MSNBC host Joe Scarborough believes it and right wing pundit Charles Krauthammer called the candidates “embarrassing”.

Mitt Romney has not only proven himself to be out of touch with reality, he has proven that he will say and do ANYTHING to get the nomination. When running for Senate against Ted Kennedy in the 90’s and then for governor of Massachusetts in 2002, he was a pro-choice moderate. After he was elected governor, he vetoed a bill to give rape survivors information about emergency contraception. Fortunately, the state legislature overturned his veto. He has vowed to overturn Roe v. Wade and is against the ruling that most employers, including church-affiliated ones, must provide contraception in health care plans offered to employee. Romney wants to repeal “Obamacare” even though it is largely based on the insurance plan he championed as governor. He released two years of tax returns only after negative publicity could no longer be ignored. His 2010 and 2011 tax returns show unearned income of over $40 million on which he paid taxes at a rate less than 15%, numerous tax shelters and Swiss bank accounts. When he desperately wanted to be John McCain’s VP in 2008, he eagerly gave many years of tax documentation to the McCain campaign. Romney’s finances certainly caused concern to McCain, no slouch in the mega millionaire category thanks to his wife. Romney’s income is from his days at Bain Capital, from where he retired in 1999. Bain’s mission was buying up companies, taking out huge loans against the companies to pay itself enormous fees at low tax rates, selling off assets, firing people, underfunding the pension plan, defaulting on the loans and then running the companies into bankruptcy. Romney claims that while at Bain, he created thousands of jobs and believes if companies fail it is because they are weak and it is good for capitalism. His record as governor of Massachusetts does not reflect great CEO qualities either. He doesn’t worry about the poor because of the great safety nets they have. You know, the ones he wants to cut.

Newt Gingrich is amazing. What else can you say about a nasty megalomaniac who had an affair with his high school math teacher while he was still in high school and later married her, began an affair with a younger woman and dumped wife #1 when she was in the hospital for cancer surgery, started an affair with a much younger woman (who is now wife #3) and dumped wife #2 when she was diagnosed with MS. This is the same man who led the impeachment cries against Bill Clinton for his sex scandal. Gingrich’s reign was known for his government shutdown, ethics charges, reprimand and fine and resignation as Speaker and from the House. He went onto a successful lobbying career and amazingly resurfaced in politics with a penchant for placing his ego above the good of the party. He is running on a strong family values platform and does not believe in abortion for any reason, even in the case of rape, incest or health of the woman. Gingrich believes that English should be the official language. He and wife #3 (the oddly coifed and botoxed Callista), are good Catholics. Newt and Mrs. Gingrich (whomever she is at the time) will retire to the moon colony that he will create by the end of his second term as president.

Rick Santorum wants to bomb Iran, even though he would love to be an Ayatollah and impose sharia law – as long as it’s Christian (particularly Catholic). While he was in the Senate, he was pro-big government spending and earmarks. Now, he is anti-big government and pro- tax cuts. Tax cuts for the wealthy, that is. He wants government out of our lives but it’s OK in our bedrooms and for controlling women’s bodies. He has extreme social conservative views (just Google “santorum dog” or even just “santorum”). Santorum questions climate change and evolution and successfully added an amendment to No Child Left Behind requiring the teaching of Intelligent Design. His own 7 children are home schooled, and one of the reasons he lost his Senate seat by a landslide was because of the expense of his children’s “cyber school” billed to his Pennsylvania school district combined with the question of his Pennsylvania residency. He is against government-funded (public) schools and just recently announced that he is against coverage of prenatal testing (among many other procedures!) in health insurance plans.

Ron Paul is a principled person with a lot of extreme views. He does not change his stand on issues to win elections. He doesn’t participate in the congressional pension or accept Medicaid in his medical practice. He strongly believes that government should exist for national defense and a court system, and not much else. He is against most government spending, taxes, entitlements, the Federal Reserve and government agencies. Paul wants the US out of Afghanistan and is against most military intervention. He claims to be a strict Constitutionalist and believes that most matters should be left up to the states, including civil rights. Paul supports the right to bear arms, homeschooling, the repeal of Roe v Wade and corporate tax cuts. He vows to cut the federal budget by over $1 trillion. Why did someone who hates government choose to be part of the government?

For many reasons, Obama has not been able to accomplish some of his campaign goals. Besides inheriting an economic catastrophe that was shockingly worse than imagined, he is constrained by a Republican-controlled House that would rather destroy the country than work with him, and he does not have 60 Democrats in the Senate to prevent filibusters. It is amazing how much he has been able to accomplish, despite the misinformation and outright lies that have been spun. Racism plays a large role in the more than usual partisan politics game.

Think about it. Who is the best choice to be our next President? He’s already in the White House.

Mary Casey is a student in the MS in Business Leadership and Management program at CUNY School of Professional Studies and is an alumna of Lehman College. She is an administrator for a university in NYC. She loves to travel and wants to see as much of the world as possible. Mary created and maintained a community/political blog from 2002 to 2004.

I had a different blog post almost completely written, but then a friend of mine forwarded an email to me entitled, “WHERE ARE ALL THE GIRLFRIENDS OF OBAMA?”. I replied, “Are you serious?” and thus began yet another crisis in our friendship since high school and my scrapping of my original blog post for today.

We had a few more exchanges of emails, her indignation rising with each of my attempts to dispute the claims made in the chain email, such as Obama never attended Columbia University. OK, I admit my eye rolling may have come across, but I provided links to Snopes, PolitiFact and Columbia University.

Two stick figures holding an extra large envelope with the word fake written on it.

After complaining that I called people who don’t agree with me crazy and that providing unbiased documentation to refute the crazy right wing stuff is a typical liberal response (yes, it is), my conservative friend finally read the information. She admitted that the email is a little crazy. Thankfully, she is liberal enough to accept facts.

In his 2006 book, Conservatives Without a Conscience, John Dean claims that about 25% of Americans will not believe the truth, no matter what, when faced with facts. He backs up his assertion with psychological studies. Nothing you can say or do will convince this group. He also points out that over the past few decades, those conservatives without a conscience have hijacked the Republican party and masterfully use smear campaigns and the spin machine to push their agenda and get their candidates elected. It has gotten so much easier with the growth of the Internet and social media. Add rigged elections and a friendly-to-the-cause Supreme Court, and we are still suffering the result.

It is no secret that the Republicans’ top priority is to defeat the Socialist Kenyan, even if it means destroying the country in the process. Nothing gets done in the Senate without the 60 vote supermajority (and never mind the useless DINOs) and the House is ruled by one of the most inept Speakers in history who can’t control the crazies in his party.

What could be worse? Even though “Yes We Can” has not worked for many reasons, do you want Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann et al. appointing federal judges and Supreme Court justices until 2016?

Mary Casey is a student in the MS in Business Leadership and Management program at CUNY School of Professional Studies and is an alumna of Lehman College. She is an administrator for a university in NYC. She loves to travel and wants to see as much of the world as possible. Mary created and maintained a community/political blog from 2002 to 2004.

One of the liveliest Discussion Boards this semester in my ECO course was “What about all my stuff?” It concerned supply and demand, why we buy goods and services, the satisfaction derived from those goods and services and whether the owner of the greatest amount of stuff is the winner. Is happiness determined by who has the most, or who needs the least? More than a few people pointed out that all the stuff requires a place, even to the point of renting a storage unit. We discussed when is it enough, what drives us to buy so much and the role of marketing in our decision-making process.

Throughout the semester, the Marketing Discussion Board questions took on many of the same issues. Does marketing help us to make choices or are so many choices created to drive consumerism? Is marketing about satisfying needs and wants, or does it create what we think we need and want? When does it become out of control or greedy?

This brings us to Glee. I admit that Glee is one of my guilty pleasures. Each episode is a morality tale enveloped in great song and dance routines. The 12/13/11 show was about the true meaning of Christmas, and it is not Santa, expensive gifts and excessive consumption.

As you celebrate this holiday season (Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Bodhi Day, Solstice, Festivus, or any other significant day in your winter calendar), why not take the opportunity to reflect on what is important? Gifts and toys are nice to give and receive, especially for young children. Yes, your daughter wants an iPad and your son wants an iPhone. Your grandchild really wants an Xbox. Do they need ten other things as well? Should you overextend your credit?  Are you comfortable or able to spend so much money?

Perhaps you can give some gifts to your loved ones and donate one or two to a local charity? Maybe, instead of more stuff, you can give the gift of time or experience to your spouse, significant other or parent. Go to a cozy B&B for the weekend; take your mother to a nice show; clean your grandmother’s garage; take your child to a sporting event. For the person who truly has everything, make a donation to his or her favorite charity or cause.  If the economy has hit you hard, you are getting by or you are doing well, the gift of yourself is priceless.

When I was PTA president, we started a book donation program to the school library in honor of a special person. The librarian gave us a wish list, and we suggested that parents donate the book in a teacher’s name instead of giving a holiday or end of year gift. A fancy bookplate identified the honoree. Despite Kindle, Nook and the iPad, a real book still makes a nice gift but there are many other options. I am sure local community centers and programs have wish lists of their own.

This post is by no means a Bah, Humbug to the holiday season. It is a suggestion to take a deep breath and not be caught up in the gimme frenzy. You have control, not the marketers!

Best wishes for a happy, healthy and peaceful end of 2011 and start of 2012.

Back in the 60’s, the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions were exciting and we all watched Walter Cronkite or Huntley and Brinkley report all the details from launch to splash down. Beginning with Alan Shepard’s 15 minute sub-orbital flight in 1961 and culminating with the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969, the space program was fascinating.

The public thrill did not last long, and except for crises, disasters and firsts (ride, Sally Ride), we stopped paying too much attention. Launches rated little more than a few seconds on the evening news. However, so much science was going on! Besides the high profile space shuttle and space station programs, NASA has conducted hundreds of manned and unmanned missions and has many more proposed. I was astonished by the number and descriptions of each program and you can link to each one at http://www.nasa.gov/.

President Kennedy inaugurated the US space program with landing men on the moon as its goal. For over 40 years since that accomplishment, humans have been confined to earth orbit. In 2004, President George W. Bush announced a plan to return Americans to the moon by 2020 and ultimately, to reach Mars. He stated, “the desire to explore and understand is part of our character“. Two robotic rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, successfully landed on Mars in 2004. Spirit stopped communicating last year and Opportunity continues to function beyond all expectations. President Obama reiterated the commitment to Mars but pushed the target date back to 2030, and robotic rover Curiosity was launched on November 26 on its 8 month journey to explore the planet.

According to NASA, this is the beginning of a new era in space exploration where the International Space Station will be used as a stepping stone. In addition, NASA plans to foster a commercial industry for projects within Earth’s orbit so energy and resources can be focused on sending astronauts to an asteroid and eventually to Mars. I hope they have read Packing for Mars by Mary Roach and can figure out all the complications by 2030. “The road ahead is challenging but this approach and space exploration architecture puts us in a position to go where no human has gone before.

Space exploration has provided countless benefits and NASA’s website has a list at http://techtran.msfc.nasa.gov/at_home.html. Of course, the benefits come with a high costs  and it is prudent to ask if the benefits are worth the expense, especially in these difficult economic times. Does the quest for knowledge and need to explore have a price tag?

Mary Casey is a student in the MS in Business Leadership and Management program at CUNY School of Professional Studies and is an alumna of Lehman College. She is an administrator for a university in NYC. She loves to travel and wants to see as much of the world as possible. Mary has more comments on the SPS blog than she received on the community/political blog that she created and maintained from 2002 to 2004.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” So states the First Amendment. What has happened to the right to peaceful protest? Has the Occupy Wall Street movement terrified the powers in charge so much that they will do anything to prevent opposition?

Police in riot gear, swinging batons and using teargas, have arrested noisy but generally peaceful protesters. Even in Berkeley, of places! Encampments across the country have been bulldozed. After a two-month occupation, over 1,000 police descended on Zuccotti Park in NY in the early morning hours of 11/15 to clear out the protesters. Granted, Zuccotti Park is private property, but was a surprise and overly aggressive raid at 1am by so many cops warranted? Should personal property have been confiscated or destroyed? Within hours after the eviction, OWS protesters got a court order allowing them to return and to re-erect tents. As of this writing, that decision was overturned and protesters cannot set up camp.

What has happened to freedom of the press? Journalists covering the OWS events across the country including writer/activist Naomi Wolf have been arrested for doing their jobs, even though they were wearing press badges at the time. Arrests have occurred at New York City, Chapel Hill, NC, Atlanta, Nashville, Milwaukee and Richmond, VA. The Society of Professional Journalists and the New York Press Club have condemned the arrests and issued formal protests.

Besides arrests, reporters have been prevented by police from getting “too close” and filming evidence of abuse of power. Police brass are preventing the witnessing of massive shows of force and violence against the protesters. Isn’t this what is done in third world countries and dictatorships? The New York Police Commissioner is a Special Forces wannabe who has secretly built an incredible operation since 9/11.

In addition to journalists, noted educators and politicians have been arrested including Professor Cornel West of Princeton and Ydanis Rodriguez, a New York City Council Member. Mr. Rodriguez was hit in the head during the 11/14 raid and claimed that he was held without access to legal counsel.

The same pundits who call the Tea Party protesters patriots, emulators of the Founding Fathers and true Americans consider the OWS protesters to be rabble, Socialists, leftist losers and much worse. Most of these pundits are members of the 1% and they have convinced a majority of their viewers and readers that the main ideals of OWS (end corporatism, tax the wealthiest of Americans on a fairer basis, create jobs) are somehow not in their best interests. Real Americans should be afraid of those lazy, dirty Commies. It’s their own fault they don’t have jobs.

The Occupy Wall Street movement includes drum banging idealists and opportunistic troublemakers. However, the majority is comprised of the 99% of us – average people who are struggling with earning enough to pay the bills, those who have lost jobs and homes, and others who have never had enough. Even capitalist tool The Economist recognizes the lopsided inequity between the top 1% and everyone else and the danger of it. (http://www.economist.com/blogs/dailychart/2011/10/income-inequality-america)

To go back to the beginning, what has happened to the right to peaceful protest and freedom of the press? The First Amendment Center documents the free speech issues and marked increase in journalist arrests during the Occupy Wall Street movement. Free speech is hard and sometimes painful. It must be protected and witnessed.

Mary Casey is a student in the MS in Business Leadership and Management program at CUNY School of Professional Studies and is an alumna of Lehman College. She is an administrator for a university in NYC. She loves to travel and wants to see as much of the world as possible. Mary has more comments on the SPS blog than she received on the community/political blog that she created and maintained from 2002 to 2004.

I just don’t understand the fascination with Teen Moms, Hoarders, the Housewives, Jersey Shore and the myriad other sleazy reality shows on TV. The supreme franchise, however, has got to be those Kardashians. Are you kidding me?

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy reality shows where people have talent or have to accomplish something. I never miss the Amazing Race and I record Project Runway rerun marathons. They have the right combination of Shakespearean tragicomedy to teach lessons as well as be entertaining and fun to watch. But, train wrecks stop to watch the Kardashians.

While many early television shows were unscripted and showed people in real situations (Smile, you’re on Candid Camera), the first “reality show” that I remember is An American Family. It aired in 1973 and it documented the life of a typical American family. Unexpected situations such as the separation and divorce of the parents and the coming out of the eldest son created much controversy. Some critics complained that the family members played to the camera while the family said they sometimes didn’t even realize the camera was recording. In any event, An American Family was something never before seen on TV, and it was sociological, educational and tastefully raw.

The Real World, Big Brother, Survivor, American Idol, Dancing With the Stars, Deadliest Catch and other programs showing real people or ex-stars doing something different and/ interesting have large audiences. This is understandable. Although some of the shows have started to decline or get a little too self-indulgent, they still have a point and engage us for many reasons. However, what is the deal with the embarrassing low quality ones? Why is watching someone climb over the piles of garbage and newspapers in her filthy home entertaining?

I suppose Paris Hilton began the new type of reality TV showcasing famous for being famous people. At that time it was probably funny to watch rich “celebrities” doing average things. It was a real life situation comedy. Even the Osbournes in an “I hate to admit it” way was mesmerizing. That was the guy who bit off a bat’s head and whose albums were thrown out by many of my friends’ parents? The Osbournes showed a weird, profane, sometimes (most of the time) stoned family who nevertheless loved each other.

However, the latest crop of reality shows has crossed the line. For the most part, they depict bottom feeders with psychological problems who would do anything for money. It is easy to understand why a 16-year-old pregnant high school drop out would allow herself and her unfortunate child to be used, or why lowlifes from New Jersey would jump on the money train, but the Kardashians are a different story.

The Kardashians are a family of television personalities and publicity hounds. Dad was most notably OJ Simpson’s lawyer and mom (married for over 20 years to Bruce Jenner) is an outstanding businesswoman and the manager of the empire. Besides their reality shows, they have clothing lines, boutiques, perfume, sex tapes and numerous other credits. Their reality shows have been huge hits and the money has allowed them to pursue their various business ventures and celebrity lifestyles. Kim’s wedding (a match made it heaven) cost millions but made millions. Her quickie marriage and divorce have outraged many fans, shocked, I say shocked, by her greed and hypocrisy.

I just don’t understand the fascination or entertainment value. Is television programming giving us what we want to watch or is it creating the audience? If this is what people want, what does that say about us?

Mary Casey is a student in the MS in Business Leadership and Management program at CUNY School of Professional Studies and is an alumna of Lehman College. She is an administrator for a university in NYC. She loves to travel and wants to see as much of the world as possible. Mary has more comments on the SPS blog than she received on the community/political blog that she created and maintained from 2002 to 2004.

Although we are at the end of October, it is still National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and you have a few more days to become or stay aware. I would like to celebrate the survivors, pay tribute to those who have lost their struggle, and remind everyone to know the warning signs, get screened and stay in charge of your health. Although it is very rare, men can get breast cancer too. Everyone needs to be aware, both for themselves and for their loved ones.

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month has a great website full of important information and links – http://www.nbcam.org. This is an excellent place to begin awareness. Many people do not like to think about illness or death, but pretending that nothing bad is going to happen or ignoring warning signs or the “feeling that something is wrong” will hurt you. Even if you feel fine and have no warning signs, make sure you do self exams, have regular breast exams performed by a health professional and get diagnostic tests such as a mammogram and MRI. The website provides links to free or low-cost mammograms if you do not have health insurance or are not covered by Medicare or Medicaid.

Become informed and remember that you are your best advocate! Do not be afraid to speak to your doctor, ask questions, ask more questions and push for as much information as possible. Yes, you need to rely on the health professionals, but you are a vital member of the team.

As discussed on nbcam.org, many women have risk factors that are associated with a greater chance to develop breast cancer. If you fall into this category, New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center offers programs, screenings, early interventions, support and other resources. This is a link to the Women at Risk website. It is conducting a symposium entitled, “Empower Yourself: Lifestyle and Wellness Choices of Women at High Risk for or with Breast Cancer” on Monday, 11/14/11 from 5:30 to 8 in midtown. Please call 212-305-5917 or email info@womenatrisknyc.org for more information.

If you are a breast cancer patient, keep on taking care of and empowering yourself. Learn as much as you can about your illness and take advantage of all the support groups out there. If you are a survivor, congratulations and please share your experiences and knowledge. We all have to take care of each other. Whether you are a patient or a survivor, I hope you have many years of health and happiness.

A very dear friend was buried last week. She learned she had inflammatory breast cancer almost 10 years ago. Inflammatory breast cancer is rare and unlike traditional breast cancers. There is no lump. Her breast was red and inflamed and she thought she had an infection. Her regular doctor put her on antibiotics. She finally went to a specialist who sent her for tests and to see more specialists, and she was diagnosed a few months later with inflammatory breast cancer. By the time the cancer appears as a red inflamed breast, it is already advanced. An oncologist at a famous Eastside cancer center coldly gave her three months, but she refused to accept it. She was fortunate to find a not so famous oncologist in Orange County with a wonderful staff whose care, combined with her determination, gave her almost 10 years.

Rest in peace Dawn, and all other strong and brave women who lost their battles. We will keep fighting in your memory.

Mary Casey is a student in the MS in Business Leadership and Management program at CUNY School of Professional Studies and is an alumna of Lehman College. She is an administrator for a university in NYC. She loves to travel and wants to see as much of the world as possible. Mary almost has more comments on the SPS blog than she received on the community/political blog that she created and maintained from 2002 to 2004.

A friend and I decided to go to the Occupy Wall Street protest the first Sunday in October. We made the plans after the infamous pepper spraying incident but before the 700 arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge. We didn’t know what to expect.

The last time I participated in a group protest was in August 2004 against the RNC Convention in New York. It was a family affair – my then husband and our two eye-rolling kids who were in high school. (The family that protests together . . .) It was a very festive and diverse atmosphere, with babies being pushed in strollers and grandmas being pushed in wheelchairs. Multi-generations of families and people of all races and colors marched together.

As we marched up 7th Avenue, we were penned in by police barricades. It was hot in the sun and no one was allowed to climb under or over the barricades to buy water in any of the stores along the route. Only at certain cross streets were people allowed to enter or leave the procession. There was a major police presence with few incidents during the march. As we passed Madison Square Garden (the site of the convention) and the Fox News studio, we were met counter-protesters and the volume “words were exchanged”, but the police forced the marchers to keep moving. Funny, but the pro-Bush protesters were allowed to stake out their positions and not coerced to move.

Although the march appeared very orderly and it was far-removed from 1968 style demonstrations, it was later revealed that over 1,800 people were arrested that weekend and held in a pen on the West Side nicknamed “Guantanamo on the Hudson”. Although the NYC Police Department lost millions in civil suits overs the arrests, they were not required to release data used in leading up to those arrests. Surveillance and intelligence gathering methods were kept secret “in the interests of national security”. (http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/11/nypd-can-keep-its-secrets-2004-convention-arrests-remain-mysterious/)

Well, the Occupy Wall Street protests sure need some invigorating. It looked more like a tourist attraction last weekend, with out-of-towners gawking at a patchwork of humanity temporarily living in Zuccotti Park. Where are the major media outlets? Where are the thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of actual participants? Where is the outrage? Are we so beaten down and defeated that we have no fight left?

There was certainly no absence of police presence. The number of police vans filled with cops just sitting there, squad cars, unmarked cars (so obvious), uniformed police, inspectors, detectives and undercover officers was astounding to the point of being laughable. Who was protecting the rest of the city? Police barricades were set up everywhere, making walking in the area difficult. No one was allowed to use a bullhorn. Taking pictures made the police very nervous. I overheard a few of them talking among each other (if he takes a picture of me . . .). Terrorism threats and national security are the buzzwords used to keep from upsetting the status quo.

Unions such as the United Federation of Teachers, 32BJ SEIU, 1199 SEIU, Workers United, and Transport Workers Union Local 100 and well known people (Michael Moore, Joseph Stiglitz) and organizations (MoveOn) are joining in support of the protests against the greed and corruption that are causing the collapse of our economy and destruction of the middle class.  This will help to legitimize and publicize the movement. Isn’t it time to speak out?

Mary Casey is a student in the MS in Business Leadership and Management program at CUNY School of Professional Studies and is an alumna of Lehman College. She is an administrator for a university in NYC. She loves to travel and wants to see as much of the world as possible. Mary almost has more comments on the SPS blog than she received on the community/political blog that she created and maintained from 2002 to 2004.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), the official United States policy on gays serving in the military since December 21, 1993, officially ended on September 20, 2011. DADT was actually repealed by Congress last December, but enforcement was permitted until the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff certified that repeal “would not harm military readiness”. Can you imagine requiring such certification and waiting periods when Truman issued an Executive Order ending segregation in the military? In any event, all certifications were completed by July and the mandated 60-day waiting period ended on September 20th.

Although homosexual men in the military faced recriminations since the Revolutionary War, they were not officially banned from service until after World War II. Warm bodies of any orientation were needed during wars. Through the years, openly gay service members faced severe discrimination and abuse, and were subject to dishonorable discharge, confinement in mental institutions and/or courts martial.

Bill Clinton campaigned on a promise to end the military’s ban on gay personnel, but after he was elected his proposal met intense opposition from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, members of Congress from both political parties, and a large part of the public. As a compromise, Congress reached an agreement known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue” and it became law. Military personnel would not be asked about their sexual orientation and would not be discharged simply for being gay. They could be gay but not act gay. Engaging in homosexual or lesbian activities were still grounds for dismissal.

The growing LGBT movement along with the revelation that the military discharged 20 Arabic and 6 Farsi linguists between 1998 and 2004 because they were gay greatly heightened the call to repeal DADT. President Obama campaigned on a promise to repeal the law and it was fiercely opposed by Congressional Republicans led by John “Faust” McCain, Lindsay Graham and entrenched military leaders. Many of the fiercest opponents of repeal were either sell-outs to the far right wing or self-haters afraid of their own ambiguous sexual identity. (Watch reruns of Glee featuring the football bully.) Those who want to keep government out of our lives are okay with it intruding on our lives when it concerns a woman’s choice or what goes on between consenting adults.

With the repeal of DADT, all qualified men and women can now choose to serve and protect our national security. The US is no longer the only industrialized country banning LGBT individuals from serving openly in the military.

Mary Casey is a student in the MS in Business Leadership and Management program at CUNY School of Professional Studies and is an alumna of Lehman College. She is an administrator for a university in NYC. She loves to travel and wants to see as much of the world as possible. Mary hopes to get more comments on the SPS blog than she received on the community/political blog that she created and maintained from 2002 to 2004.