Samuel Alito, "Ghetto" Italians, and corporate-sponsored gas
[Posted 10 January 2006]
Last year, I had a contract IT (computer) assignment
in New York, and was looking for an apartment. A friend suggested that
I try a neighborhood in Staten Island, saying it was an old Mafia
area. She thought the neighborhood
was a safer area because people were afraid of the old Mafia guys.
I told her that
my Italian last name didn't mean that I wanted to live anywhere near Mafia
guys. I never liked those "tough guy" Italians. The Italians
in my family were super-nice people, a lot of school teachers and musicians.
Then, there was last year's Columbus Day Parade. Aside from honoring an
explorer who opened the Americas to MASSIVE GENOCIDE, I was especially offended
by a newspaper article calling Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia a "Paisan," and
praising him for marching in the Columbus Day Parade in the Big Apple.
Antonin Scalia? Paisan? More like, sell-out. Scalia is an embarrassment to
Italians, not anyone to be proud of. He's in the pocket of George Duh-bya Bush and
big corporations -- eliminating our Constitutional rights whenever possible,
approving sweeping powers for the Executive branch of government and protecting
corporations at the expense of everyone else -- in other words, a sold soul.
Some may even say a police state or dictatorship advocate.
Gotta wonder if he loves Mussolini or something... He sure doesn't seem to be in
love with the US Constitution.
Now that another crazy Italian has been nominated to the Supreme Court, I'm trying
to think of a term to disown them. I've met plenty of Italians I wouldn't want to
identify with over the years -- half of those were on the Long Island Railroad, I
think. You know the types -- guys whose life goals are pretty much
drinking beer and watching
football. And supporting George Duh-bya Bush because they're too lazy to read the
news, can't be bothered with more than 5 minutes of TV blather, believing it
all because educating themselves takes more work than drinking beer and watching
football. Yeah, I can't support senseless stupidity just because an Italian is
Yet I can't think of an appropriate word to disown Italians
in a way that makes people
understand WHY they're disowned. Yes, there are always words like sleazebags or
scumballs, but those are generic terms that could apply to non-Italians as well.
Common words don't begin to address the issue of people expecting intelligent
folks like myself to
support and even admire COMPLETE MORONS just because they're covered by
the broad ethnic umbrella of Italian-Americans.
The only term that comes to mind is something used in the African-American
community -- namely, the word "Ghetto."
Let me give a couple of examples as to how the term "Ghetto" is used. Back in the
90s, I was working at the Help Desk for Prudential's Medical division
in Woodland Hills, a suburb of Los Angeles.
I'll describe some of the company politics for my fellow corporate techies,
just because bad company politics are always kind of
interesting. The manager, Ron, was kept in meetings all day by
Prudential's management, and so I was the Technical Lead Analyst, the manager of
the Help Desk in Ron's absence. During our tenure there, the FANTASTIC manager of
the IT Department decided to take a job at Coast Savings and Loan. Because
Prudential was too cheap to pay its regular employees the market rate for IT
(Information Technology/Computer) techies,
the old manager was able to steal some of the better technicians from Prudential,
to work for him at Coast Savings
and Loan. I made it clear that I wanted to stay at Pru's Help Desk with Ron,
because having a boss that nice was really rare in my career. But one of the Help
Desk techies took a job at Coast, and another one of our techies
quit for some other reason, maybe was offered a better job, which left a
couple of openings. Now, Ron was African-American, and if I was Ron's right-hand
"man," then another African-American, Tony, was my right-hand man. I could count
on Tony to walk people through fixing their own computer problems
quickly, and he always did a good job no matter what the task.
Our Help Desk, by the
way, was a picture of efficiency, partly thanks to the ticket system/knowledge base
that Ron and I had developed on our own.
But the job openings in the Help Desk meant that Ron
had to hire a couple of new guys, and he made the mistake of being too nice,
giving a couple of unqualified "black brothers" a "chance."
The 2 new guys he hired were OK I guess -- one was trying to do his best -- but they
really didn't have the skills, and were starting to irritate employees who
called the desk.
Our Help Desk supported thousands of Prudential employees with only
6 technicians at the desk, with backup technicians from other departments within IT
for in-person help (Desktop Support techies, Network techies, Client Server techies).
The desk was extremely
high volume, and you had to be both good and fast to handle your job as call after
call was automatically forwarded to your extension.
One day, an employee complained about one of the newer technicians. Ron talked
to the new techie about it, and then went back into meetings.
The newer technician
then told me that he was going to "talk to" the woman who'd made the complaint. I
was shocked. You just didn't confront "customers" (the employees we served)
in a professional corporate
environment like Prudential's. It could be considered harassment.
I warned him that he'd better be careful, because
he could easily be fired if he said the wrong thing or even if the woman took
it the wrong way.
When the new tech was out of the room I mentioned my concerns to Tony,
who said he couldn't
believe it. Tony assured me that he'd talk to the new tech about it. Then he
gave me his assessment of the new techie's plans -- "GHET-TO". I had to laugh.
"Ghetto" wasn't hard to figure out -- it
meant someone who used street behavior in the work place, wasn't
professional or educated. "I went to college, I know," he said.
Tony was something else. Aside from being great at his job in a strict and demanding
corporate workplace like Prudential (the 13th largest corporation in America at
the time), he'd even resisted baseball scouts when they wanted to take his son out
of regular private school. Tony wouldn't put up with his child neglecting
studies, said that baseball shouldn't be his kid's only option. I don't know what
Tony said to the new techie, but amazingly the new guy wasn't fired after that.
Must've worked, whatever it was.
Before I move onto the next example of "Ghetto," I should finish the story of
Coast Savings and Loan's plundering of Prudential employees, and Pru's subsequent
downward service spiral. After the old manager stole most of the better
employees, service went way down. As Ron pointed out, because the first point of
contact was the Help Desk, the Help Desk was blamed for everything. If the network
went down for a while because of server failure, it was perceived to be the Help
Desk's fault. Plus the two new technicians started to give us a bad
reputation among those employees who reached them. And so the Help Desk was
outsourced to a company in Texas, which was a disaster. It was a lot
like the Help Desks in India these days, only the accent wasn't quite as bad.
I wasn't immediately
terminated from Prudential, because they wanted to keep me on for other things,
but the place they sent me was awful. Back in the 90s, Prudential had lost a big
lawsuit because of certain sales people who
sold "upgrades" on life insurance to people, basically robbing existing
customers of the value of their old life insurance
policies. Another way of saying it is that
Pru's salesmen ripped the old people off on their life insurance.
I was working at the medical division, but all of the people I worked with felt
bad about that. We were just employees, there for a paycheck,
and didn't support any behavior that cheated customers out of their
Well, guess where I was sent after the Help Desk? To the department handling a
huge optical-scan database of documents pertaining to the lawsuit -- the same lawsuit
that Prudential had LOST because of the life insurance scams. The first day I
went to the new
department, they were in the process of losing a SERVER full of documents.
For those non-techies who don't understand how much a server holds,
that's like a WAREHOUSE full of records burning down, and there were actually
warehouses of physical records burning down pertaining
to the same lawsuit in months prior to this little incident.
The Network Administrator in charge of that server -- some
self-aggrandizing kid with a really crappy attitude -- claimed to have also lost the
backup of that server
at the same time, by rebooting in the middle of a restore. This little failure
didn't seem to bother his boss in the slightest, who smirked when he told
her about it. It seemed
pretty fishy to me, but I was only in charge of helping another guy with broken
folders and whatnot. My job there lasted
a few WEEKS before I called Ron at his new job, asking to ACCEPT his ongoing offer
of a job at his new company. Finally Ron came through with a job, and I could
leave the big mess at Prudential.
By that time, the bigger manager
(the one who smiled over losing a server) and I weren't getting along because
of that young kid who lost the server. Aside from perpetually lying about long
hours he was working (even when I was there late to see that he hadn't) and
complaining loudly about everyone else in the company, one day he almost hit my
head with a football
he was tossing around the office. The manager laughed it off when I told her
about the football near-miss,
but I was tired of being terrorized by the man, his football, and various other
projectiles he launched around the office while talking loudly about what a genius
He and his department were so substandard in comparison to Ron's Help Desk that I
couldn't believe I was in the came company, and the only reason I'd stayed
at Prudential was because Ron was such a good manager. I didn't want to
stick it out at Pru to work with a complete idiot, and so I moved onto
the next job. A couple of years later, I
heard from an employee who'd stayed at Prudential -- the medical division where
we'd worked went bust
about a year later, and was sold to Aetna. The IT Department was dire
after the Help Desk left, and the new IT manager (not an IT guy at all -- just
another manager who'd worked his way up from the Mail Room) had brought in a
bunch of inexperienced techs
from New Jersey and elsewhere. Of course any bad IT department puts a drag on
worker productivity, plus an underwriter confided that Pru's Senior Care program
was losing money. Well, if I could see the decline, upper
management should have seen it too. I don't feel sorry for them.
That's Prudential's "Ghetto" story. Amazingly, another example of the term
"Ghetto" came from another computer
job at yet another medical insurance company. This time, the sad part is that it
was an insurance company serving "celebrities" -- musicians and TV workers,
mostly. It was called AFTRA H&R, for American Federation of Television and
Radio Artists, Health & Retirement (formerly affiliated with the AFTRA union, but
now a separate entity). AFTRA H&R is one of these places that you'd expect to
really have its act together, because it serves celebrities. Unfortunately,
First of all, a couple of years ago, their Finance Director
managed to steal 1.36 MILLION dollars from the fund (a fund that finances
retirement & medical benefits for radio & TV workers -- rock stars, news anchors
and whatnot), and the huge amount of missing money wasn't detected
until auditors found it. Then, the probe into the theft apparently only addressed
the Finance Director who stole the money, not the issues of
poor oversight or negligence. Only the Finance Director went to jail.
The Executive Director at the time was happy to say that
insurance would cover the loss to the fund, but claimed a lack of safeguards and
just plain ignorance as to how the man managed to embezzle so much without
attracting her interest. I can't recall working for a company where the CFO or any
other accountant could steal so much money without detection. Usually the chief
accountant is responsible to the owner/executive for a full accounting of finances
on a regular basis. (As an aside to any existing members, as a
former employee I'd strongly suggest that you keep every scrap of paper
documenting your retirement contributions & medical benefits. Maybe I'll detail
some of the reasons for that
later in this article -- basically dealing with the potential
for paperless document destruction mentioned
in the Prudential story above. Personally, I
wouldn't keep my money there, and don't even like having my name on their database
as a former member because their data security is so loose.)
Back to the main story.
When I arrived a couple of years ago, AFTRA's IT Department was a bunch of servers
and cables strewn around a back room in a bigger mess than I recall seeing at any
of my previous companies. But there was a good reason for the clutter --
one Network Administrator was handling almost everything, along with one assistant
basically a Computer Operator running checks and other reports. Jason was one of
these super-techies who WAS the company network -- overworked, underpaid,
missing time with his family because of late nights at AFTRA. For
an organization that large, I was amazed that one man could even handle it. But I
have occasionally seen one-man shows who know their networks so well that
they can keep it together for their company. There have been times in my life
when I was that
Eventually, though, most super-techies burn out and leave a company,
often deciding it
isn't worth the trouble when someone starts abusing them. And when they leave a
company, they're the last person to go it
alone. It always takes more than one person to replace them. I was hired just
at the beginning of this process -- trouble started to brew for Jason. First,
boxes of pre-printed checks arrived with duplicate
numbers. I'm not sure if that's what caused the printing failure, but the
computer operator of 6 years suddenly ran 2 batches of checks with jumps in the
numbers, i.e. the numbers on the computer-generated printing
and the numbers on the pre-printed checks didn't
match about halfway through the run, and most of the checks had to be destroyed and
re-printed. It was a big mess, but the employee running the job
had been there 6 years. Despite the employee's longevity, for some reason
Jason was pressured into firing his only assistant. In the
former employee's place, two employees were hired -- a young help desk analyst
just out of college, and then me.
The check printing was outsourced to another company, and so we were
available to help Jason handle his overwhelming job.
But as soon as I was hired, I was given away. Another manager wanted me
to help write the company's HIPAA Security Policies, and so Jason was down to one
assistant. While working for another manager, I heard that
Jason was being abused by both a subcontractor and management within the
organization. He started looking for another job, but helped AFTRA hire his
replacement and tried to then train that new Network Administrator.
I was involved somewhat in
this process, as I was documenting server information and a few other procedures
for the Network Administrator who replaced Jason.
Now, here's where Jason makes the same mistake as Ron at the Prudential help desk.
There are plenty of fantastic African-American techies out there. Look at Tony
from Prudential, or Jason from AFTRA, even a super-techie I worked
with briefly at Con Edison, whose e-mail address I retain just in case I need to
hire a Network Admin in the near future. But hiring a techie to give an
African-American brother a break... Well, Jason had to learn that lesson.
It was a fatal error. Not only did the new Network Admin
continue to blame Jason for every problem months after Jason was gone,
but there were servers failing without backup,
power outages without enough UPSes to let the servers shut down properly, and things
that no decent techie would EVER allow to happen. And this was after the new guy
had months to supposedly bring things up to IT standards. AND, he'd been given
yet another assistant -- he hired another African-American male, apparently
pre-existing friends or relatives, judging by their close relationship.
Meanwhile, I was writing company policy. At first I took the new Network Admin
seriously, thinking Jason had hired him, therefore he must be good. And so I'd ask
for his input on the new policies. Now, there wasn't a lot of room for change in
the HIPAA Security Policies. HIPAA had a Federal deadline, and was governed by
Federal law meant to replace state law on the security of health care
records. Specifically, HIPPA's Security Rule (vs. its Privacy Rule, dealing largely
with paper records) dealt with
ELECTRONIC security -- the Federal government was trying to prevent the massive
leaks of private information that could only be possible in the computer age.
We had a HIPAA consultant from Vermont who was an authority on HIPAA, who
basically wrote the policies for us. He'd write a policy, telling me what points to
cover in the procedure, and then I'd modify his policy and write the procedures to
be specific to AFTRA. Because the HIPAA consultant was such an expert, about
the only thing I could add was a knowledge of standard corporate procedures from
all of the huge corporate IT Departments where I'd worked in the past -- some very
impressive names, I might add. And so I'd throw together some standard policies --
things that places like Prudential and Disney had in place 10 years ago -- and
sometimes would run them by the new Network Admin for his input. Unfortunately,
his input was basically that he didn't want any extra security, or any extra work
For example, he didn't want expiring passwords. At the time, no one's passwords
expired, and there were rarely
restrictions like a mix of letters and numbers -- something that's expected these
days in any company, in order to make passwords harder to guess by hackers.
(Keep in mind that celebrities' information is involved
here -- social security numbers, addresses, phone numbers, financial and medical
information that a lot of people would love to have, or love to sell.)
He also didn't want logins to expire after a certain amount of inactivity, e.g.
computers logging off automatically when employees left their desk for more than 30
minutes. At the time, I could wander around after hours and see just about any
program open and available on employees'
computers, logged in under various employees' IDs.
(Keep in mind that the cleaning staff often propped the doors
open at night, so this information wasn't necessarily secured from non-employees.)
We're talking LISTS of celebrity social security numbers and other sensitive
information displayed on computer screens,
at various locations in the company, UNATTENDED after 5 p.m.
Without expiring logins, the only thing stopping this practice would have been
employee education, but the new Admin was completely opposed to educating staff
about network security, or even sending an e-mail on the topic.
Backing him up was
a highly suspicious MIS Director who was absolutely
hostile to IT security -- a highly prejudiced and abusive older Japanese man,
who thought his job was to FIGHT Federal regulations and HIPAA, not comply with
them. The MIS Director was pretty bad all around,
from ramblings at MIS/IT Department meetings slandering just about
everyone in the company, to poison-pen e-mails calling an Administrative Assistant
"crazy" simply because she dared to follow instructions from HR, saying that IT
workers must punch in and out at the start and end of their work days like everyone
else in the company. (This was something he strongly opposed for some reason. He
fought it by having another Admin. Assistant falsify records for the male
techies -- "the
guys" as he called them -- clocking the men in ontime and logging
them off an hour late each day, when often they were hours late in the morning
and rarely really worked late. Meanwhile, I, the lone female,
actually had to punch in and out with real times.) The
MIS Director also used ethnic references like "the Korean kid," bad-mouthed
every woman in the company who had any authority, got a long-time employee
(the Director of Operations) demoted because the MIS Director didn't like being
responsible to this Operations
Director, and so much more... This same MIS
Director called me a "cop" for simply writing the company policies I was
hired to write, despite the obvious need for improvement in his incredibly
insecure network, not to mention a rapidly approaching Federal deadline for those
policies. I thought this was highly unusual, and honestly -- coupled with
the stolen money in the past, the company going "paperless" in the midst of lost
data, and system corruption -- almost criminal. I don't recall ever working in a
company where management was so HOSTILE to new government regulation. At the
larger corporations I've worked with, the only questions asked were how big is the
budget to deal with this,
and what's our plan to COMPLY with these new regulations. Fighting them isn't an
option -- that's a political lobbyist's job, if the fight was considered
worth it. Most of the
time, if the technology is there to protect people, you'd better be using it anyway,
or the civil courts would find you when something eventually DID go wrong.
But I was just there to write
policies & procedures, do some technical documentation, and help them out
with a PC database product that seemed to need a lot of support for some reason.
So I continued to do my job. Yet true to the abusive environment that had driven
my former boss out of the company, the harassment started, and then escalated.
Long and highly suspicious story short, the new Network
Admin became extremely abusive toward me for no apparent reason other than
my role in writing the new policies. He'd say things like "Pam, you'll be the
death of me" when I'd bring the subject of new policies
up. He'd also threaten my job, even though
he wasn't my manager and had no hiring or firing authority, saying that a person
who thought we needed the new HIPAA Security Policies had no place at AFTRA.
And true to form, his sidekick, the new assistant who had almost no interaction
with me, suddenly was hostile toward me as well.
This culminated in what I'd call "corporate-sponsored gas."
The new Network Admin AND his new assistant decided to walk past my desk dozens of
times a day, parading back and forth over and over again for no apparent reason,
until they'd pass gas. After a while, I realized it was an ongoing harassment
scheme, and so I brought an old fan in, a machine called "The Blizzard."
It was an especially powerful fan,
purchased at an office supply store, fairly expensive for a fan at the time.
The Blizzard kept most of the smell away despite the two men's
frequent and unexplained stops in and around
my cubicle, while passing gas. Sometimes the Network
Admin's assistant would stop there to make personal calls
from my telephone, despite having his own phone at his own desk.
Eventually, there were certain days
where the smell was just intolerable, and I'd have to get up and wander around for
a while. After MONTHS of putting up with this kind of abuse, aside from the slander
and regular abuse from the MIS Director (who'd managed to fire 8 or 9 people in less
than a year, out of department of about 10, including temps --
all the while throwing around more
abuse than I could possibly document here, especially toward women),
I finally said something to the HR Department. They never took a single measure to
monitor or relieve the harassment.
One day the smell made working intolerable, and the HR Director was out. By this
time, I was tired of having to wander around the company doing nothing for half the
day, and decided to mention it to the Executive Director. It was a risky move, but
HR wasn't doing anything, and the harassment made it very unpleasant to work at all.
Instead of taking it seriously, the Executive Director was instantly hostile,
claiming that the Network Admin, the MIS Director, and their assistant couldn't
possibly be harassing anyone.
(Keep in mind that the MIS Director had sent e-mails
around the company slandering people, and the HR Director mentioned she was AWARE
OF THEM when I'd brought them up weeks earlier.
So was the Executive Director really kept out of
the loop about her Director's bad behavior, or did she just have the habit of
looking the other way when employees were being harassed... or when people were
stealing millions of dollars from the retirement fund?) I was fired within a few
days of mentioning the problem to the Executive Director -- the same older woman
in place while the former Finance Director embezzled
over a million dollars from the company. This was nothing more than
retaliation for a complaint of harassment, which I've been told is illegal in
New York State. (Notably, I was the
only woman in the IT Department until the week that I was fired, when they hired
a new female temp just days before letting me go.)
I did manage to get a few things done for AFTRA's members before I left, though.
Despite the MIS Director bad-mouthing me to the HR Director and Operations
Director so much that those two employees (otherwise seemingly honest workers)
told me that they could see his point that I was a
"cop" for writing the new policies, I managed to get most of the
policies I wanted signed by the same Executive Director who later had me fired.
And then the Operations Director authorized me to
hold employee classes on the new policies,
basically training every company employee on them.
I accomplished this miracle simply by NOT running things past
the Network Administrator or MIS Director after they displayed so much hostility.
It wasn't necessary to include them anyway, since the Operations Director and
Executive Director were in charge of the new policies, and were familiar with the
type of rules typically included in any company policy. The Director of
Operations and AFTRA's Attorneys struck down a few points, but by the time
the MIS Director saw them, the policies were written. Then, when the MIS Director
complained to me, I
told him that similar policies were standard IT policies on the books at most other
companies 10 years ago -- why couldn't he handle 10-year-old standards in the
industry? He finally admitted to the other Directors that there was nothing in the
new policies that he couldn't comply with. Yeah, sometimes I actually care
about my job enough to do the right thing. Plus I never like to do a half-assed job,
even when I'm in a really half-assed company. I always try to keep at least a
minimum standard when circumstances allow it. And the unaddressed harassment made
clear that I wouldn't be there long enough to worry about my job anyway, especially
with so many good techies being fired around me for no apparent reason.
In other words, the password requirements, expiring
logins, encryption, and many other standard security measures were approved by
AFTRA's counsel, signed by the Executive Director,
and on the books when I left the company. The MIS Department may not follow any
of them, but at least AFTRA's polices are no longer Dark Ages IT. Their
HIPAA Security Policies are almost exactly what their consultant wanted, with
watered-down versions of Prudential's policies used as the model for corresponding
procedures. (Keep in mind that Prudential's procedures were a million times
stricter than AFTRA's policies though -- and Prudential's were in existence AND
strictly followed ten years earlier, before HIPAA was even written or passed into
law.) If AFTRA actually follows its new policies and
procedures in the future (who can tell if THAT will ever happen), AFTRA's data
should be SOMEWHAT secure.
But policies won't protect the data from insider theft or negligence, and it
makes me pretty nervous when a company like that tries to go paperless.
While I was there, I also worked on correcting data errors for their planned
paperless medical claims system. Meanwhile,
there was a simple power failure (something that happens to any company several
times a year). Because there weren't enough UPSes (supposedly
unknown to the Network
Admin, who'd been working on those servers for months prior), no one at the weekly
IT meeting could assure the MIS Director that there wasn't data corruption across
all of their databases and other systems. Plus their optical scan database was
constantly going down because the server was too small, and neither the Network
Admin nor his pricey consultants were able to
configure a larger space well enough to keep that particular server from bringing
the network down periodically.
So who knows how many scanned documents and other data may have been lost so far?
Doing a comparison with old data backups wasn't even considered at the IT
meeting dealing with the lack of UPSes and power failure. (By the way, the MIS
Director said that UPSes are "very expensive," and therefore they wouldn't be
able to afford enough of them. HUH? UPSes are pretty cheap these days, and that
guy spent money on all kinds of silly projects.) That's a convenient way to lose
records, isn't it? And with no paper backup.
(I'm not even covering servers that failed under the new
Network Admin, some without backups -- with partial data recovery due to luck
Good thing I don't have money in the fund, because
the only person overseeing the MIS Director is an Executive Director who already
missed the Finance Director's million-dollar theft scheme.
In the end, AFTRA was a miserable place to work all-around, and so it was almost a
to be fired. I felt sorry for most of the employees left behind, on top of the
celebs who think the organization is keeping their data safe somehow.
One thing that
impressed me as almost comical was their coffee situation. They paid for coffee
on the 7th floor, where their executives had offices, but not on the 8th floor,
where most of the other employees worked. And so I decided to buy coffee for the
8th floor, because buying pre-made coffee for myself daily
at a deli or Starbuck's was just as
expensive as coffee from the grocery store for everyone. A couple of times, we
were almost out of sugar or creamer, and so I'd send an e-mail around the office
saying that I was sorry, but couldn't get to the store again until after the
weekend. I'd then receive e-mails from management saying that they did indeed buy
coffee for employees, and they didn't like the implication that someone other
than AFTRA was buying the coffee. Well, I was buying the coffee, so what did they
want me to do, lie to everyone? Eventually, the Mail Room Manager (one of the
women constantly slandered by the MIS Director, because she was a woman of some
authority and longevity within the company) decided to start ordering coffee for us.
I still had to buy the sugar and creamer, though. And management's excuse for not
buying coffee for the 8th floor? That no one was willing to make it. Well, let
me tell ya, people were making it even when we were down to only half a packet of
coffee, and they had to put up with coffee as weak as tea until more was ordered.
There was even a super-nice lady who'd make coffee for everyone before I was
scheduled to come into the office mornings, and she made it EVERY DAY.
I could barely keep up with coffee consumption by the time the mailroom started
ordering it, and was grateful for the boost in purchasing power. Lugging those
big cans of coffee on the subway wasn't a picnic, either.
Also, there were rarely snacks for employees, for example
doughnuts or other treats you'd find provided occasionally
in other companies. Management said they couldn't buy snacks for employees because
they were a government-regulated fund and their expenditures were closely watched.
(So tell me again how the accountant managed to steal over $1 million, when even
doughnut expenses would be disallowed?) But lack of funds aren't an excuse for
management. I wasn't a manager there, but I could still afford a periodic $20+
of Dagoba chocolate bars for my fellow IT staff -- a brand they really
enjoyed by the way, with the lavender and rose infusions making the chocolate
extra yummy. So why couldn't other managers occasionally buy doughnuts for their
departments? AFTRA rarely did anything special for its employees.
And their celebrity members didn't get anything special that I could see.
Aside from not wanting to take extra security precautions (much less even
standard precautions) with data because it involved
celebrities, AFTRA denied certain treatments
like everyone else in the insurance industry. I was also present at meetings
where standard insurance talk went on, sometimes saying essentially that they
resented bending their rules for members because of "who they [their members] are."
Namely, they didn't like the fact that some of their members had the power to
mention any bad experiences with AFTRA on their TV show the next day. They did
bend the rules a few times because of this particular concern.
In the end, they were just insurance people, nothing special there.
But it's time to get back to the term "Ghetto."
There I was in New York, thousands of
miles away from Prudential in Southern California, and nearly ten years later.
Yet as soon as I told
one of my African-American friends about the gas-passing co-workers and other
ordeals at AFTRA, the first word out of his mouth was "GHETTO!"
The term was applied in the same way as at Prudential. Basically, "ghetto" meant
the people in question couldn't handle being professional, had
to use street tactics like threats and abuse.
And the term is applied so consistently and confidently -- people using it know
exactly what they mean, and don't feel threatened by it in the least. I think
Italian-Americans need a similar term for unworthy Italians, too. At minimum,
I don't want any Italian telling me that I have to support some crazy sell-out just
because his ancestors were from Italy. Alito and
Scalia were NEVER appointed because they represent anything wonderful. Their
appointments were granted because they're political EXTREMISTS who will do
the bidding of power-hungry politicians and money-hungry corporations. There's
nothing to be proud of there -- if
anything, there should be shame. Italian-Americans need to learn something from
African-Americans here. I've never heard any African-Americans praising Clarence
Thomas. Maybe they do exist, but I've never come across a single person
who said that he or she admired Clarence Thomas because of his ancestry, or for any
other reason. So why would anyone feel proud of Alito and Scalia?
Being proud of sold souls like Scalia and Alito is like praising any
other person who prostitutes his soul for money, power, or a place in history --
even a really bad place in history, as anyone affiliated with the Bush
Administration provides. Their
ideology matches that of the war criminals who appointed them.
Is that anything to be proud of? Stealing an election for a
how you get appointed to the Supreme Court -- not by being at the top
of your field, or being intelligent, or being anything other than willing
to cover for the criminals who appointed you. The kind & generous type of Italian
(like my father) DOESN'T get appointed to the Surpeme Court.
Alito has the added distinction of being appointed at a time meant to
deflect attention from Libby's indictment on watered-down charges, as well as
serving the purpose of REDUCING representation of women and minorities on
the high court. The humiliation of good Italians aside, the danger with Alito
is allowing our rights to slip away. That's the problem with "ghetto" quality
Italians of national power -- instead of abusing one co-worker with
corporate-sponsored gas (which is bad enough), MILLIONS of people suffer with every
bad ruling the Supreme Court makes.
Of course, the most prominent right Alito threatens is
the right of a woman to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. There
are so many arguments pro and con that I'm not going to cover them, except for
saying that a majority of women want that right to remain on the books, whether or
not they intend to use it.
Despite Bush's view of the world, this includes a lot
of Republican women -- just about everyone except a small number of extremists.
O'Connor recognized this right, probably because
she was a WOMAN, mentioning in one of her decisions
that society imposes a huge commitment
on the part of the woman to carry a pregnancy to term, and it was the
woman's individual right to make a decision on whether to make that commitment.
It's basically the issue of a
woman's right to control her own body, to decide whether to reproduce, when and
with who, whether or not her body can be used as a baby machine for a rapist
Yes, Bush did try to appoint a woman prior to Alito -- a woman who he thought would
swing his way on issues. But she didn't have any experience on the bench.
Even for a right-winger like Harriet Meier, Republicans in the Senate weren't buying it.
And so instead
of appointing a different woman who was actually qualified, Bush decided to just
go for another crazy Italian, no doubt hoping for another wingnut like Scalia. The
fact is, being a woman makes a difference for women, and Supreme Court Justices are
appointed for life, by design so that they can make rulings without having to answer
to the other two branches of government. That's why Justice David Souter was able
that we DID have the right to have our votes counted in the 2000 election, despite
being appointed by the elder Bush. Republican Senators don't want to take
that chance this time around -- they want crazy ultra-conservative
white males on the court only.
There are a number of other issues concerning women,
including civil rights, equal pay, all sorts of things we now take for
granted in our legal system -- now in grave danger thanks to Bush and his new
appointee. And there are plenty of other issues that Bush and Cheney are counting
will swing their way with Alito, or else
Alito wouldn't have been appointed. Bush wants
sweeping Presidential powers, the right to torture, spy on citizens, make war
anywhere and anytime he wants, hold political prisoners indefinitely, perhaps
reinstate slavery, ban elections -- anything is possible when you own the Supreme
Court, right? At the moment, the balance is tipping into the crazy zone, so don't
be surprised as the country falls apart and into a dictatorship of the terminally
ruthless and unintelligent.
And so, I'll NEVER be PROUD of "Ghetto" Italians like
Alito and Scalia. They're only appointed because they reside in the wingnut zone,
willing slaves for their ruthless and greedy masters --
NOT because of any intelligence, moral character, or credentials. Anyone who
cares about America and its system of Constitutional law would demand better
for the Supreme Court, regardless of ethnic background.