America’s Debt-Ceiling Crisis – To Some It’s Just A Game

Real estate mogul Donald Trump speaks at the Faith and Freedom Coalition in Washington June 3, 2011. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

I used to like Donald Trump. Before Barack Obama was elected President of the United States.

Before then, Trump was a pretty cool dude in my eyes. Of course, I only know his public persona, but there was something about his arrogance and unapologetic boasting of wealth that was strangely appealing. Although I was concerned when he re-opened the ridiculous “Birther” notion that Obama wasn’t a natural born U.S. citizen, I still held him with certain measure of respect.

No more.

Donald Trump. Multi-millionaire Donald Trump is advising Republicans to force a default so America can lose its AAA credit rating. Why? To ensure Obama isn’t re-elected.

What world does he live in?

Oh, that’s right. He lives in a world of privilege that his children and grandchildren also inhabit. Well, for those of us who live in the real world, a default could mean higher interest rates. It could mean watching our 401Ks dwindle. It could mean having to tighten an already tight belt.

For the Donald Trumps, John Boehners and Barack Obamas out there, this is not a game. There will be NO winners in a default. We already live in a society where the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer and the Middle Class is disappearing. Yet, you men of privilege take to the airwaves and act like victims when you know a default would have less a financial affect on you than it would the average American family.

Again, I implore our elected officials to get back to the business of doing what is best for America instead calculating personal gains. Donald Trump proves wealth isn’t an accurate measure of intelligence or common sense. He does prove that the rich only care about winning and being rich. He doesn’t give two hoots about America. Or, maybe he doesn’t give two hoots about an America that is led by a Black man.

Both groups, Democrat and Republican need to compromise on this issue in order to regain the trust of the American public. Don’t be misled by a pretentious, media-savvy usurper with a personal ax to grind.

Is This Behavior Befitting Elected Officials?

AP

I’ve never hidden the fact that I am a supporter of President Barack Obama. I like his vision for the country and his ability to stay focused on his goals in spite of heavy, soul-wrenching opposition. Whatever your take on the president, you have to admit no other Commander-In-Chief has faced such an uphill battle with regards to his birthplace (yes, Hawaii is a vacation spot AND a US state), respect (what other president has had a member of Congress call him a liar during a State of the Union address?) and roadblocks when it comes to his vision for America (only doctors, independently wealthy and relatively healthy individuals could view universal healthcare as an affront to personal liberties.)

With that said, I am more than disappointed in Obama’s and Speaker of the House John Boehner’s inability to compromise on a resolution for America’s debit-ceiling crisis. These are intelligent men that are coming across as both stubborn and arrogant. It’s very easy to cross your arms and draw a line in the sand on the “principle” of this issue if you are a millionaire. A government shutdown is not going to adversely affect them on a personal level. Their children will still attend private schools. Their mortgages will be paid. They will not have to choose between paying a bill, buying groceries are refilling their maintenance medications. However, the vast majority of their constituents are not as privileged.

This is not a game; this is life. In a culture where workers are expected to do the jobs they are hired to do, it is sad to see these two engage in such childish antics as walking away from negotiations then holding press conferences to try to outdo the other. Shameful.

My message to Obama, Boehner and all the members of Congress and the Senate: Please grow up. Buckle down and do what is best for all Americans instead of pandering to people who would least be affected by a government shutdown. Enough is enough. Elections are right around the corner. If you can’t do it, I will make sure to vote for someone who can.

Following Your Intuition

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The theme of O, The Oprah Magazine’s August issue is following your intuition. I read the articles with much interest because I recently ignored a nagging feeling only to regret it later. Painfully regret it.

I have had off and on back pain for the past decade, ever since taking a fall down a relative’s staircase. Beginning this year, the pain increased in frequency and intensity. Several weeks ago, I had an episode where the pain now radiated to my hip and down the back of my left leg. I finally visited my primary care physician (PCP) and he did a preliminary examination. He initially diagnosed a possible pinched nerve. He ordered an x-ray and prescribed medication for pain, an anti-inflammatory and a muscle relaxant. He asked me to schedule another visit in a few days go over the x-ray and measure improvement, if any. Taking the medication did take the edge off the pain although there was still stiffness in my lower back. During the second visit, the doctor asked how I was feeling and I advised, truthfully, that I was much better than I was during our last visit. He nodded then advised the x-ray was normal so there was no way I had a pinched nerve. He said I simply had a pulled muscle and advised me to continue with the medication and handed me a printout of exercises to perform to strengthen my back muscles. He advised if I didn’t continue improving, he would then refer me to an orthopedic specialist.

Although it was a diagnosis I wanted to hear, it just didn’t seem right. So I asked him, “The pain in my hip and down my leg, that also comes from a pulled back muscle?” He nodded, noticeably irritated that I was questioning the diagnosis. I left the appointment relieved that I didn’t need additional tests or specialist visits, but also with a feeling that something was wrong. I eventually shook away the feeling. I mean, I’m not the MD, he is. This is a man I not only respect but also like as a person. I had never had a reason to question him, so why was I doing it now?

Twelve days later, I suffered a relapse that was twice as intense as the one that prompted my first visit to my PCP. The pain lasted throughout the night and didn’t let up that morning. I called my doctor’s office as soon as it opened (8:30 am), explained I was having a relapse, and requested the number to an orthopedic specialist so I could possibly see him or her that day. The receptionist advised she would have to pull my file for the doctor and call back when he recommended the specialist. I waited.

And waited.

While waiting, I noticed something strange happening with my left leg. Little by little, it was becoming numb. The numbness eventually settled around my ankle and top of my foot. I was unable lift my toes. I’d be lying if I said this was anything less than frightening. Tired of waiting for my doctor, I located an orthopedic specialist and made an appointment for 8:45 the next morning. Note 1: My doctor’s nurse called me four hours later with the name and numbers of two specialists.

The next day, the orthopedic specialist examined me and determined that I had drop foot which is difficulty lifting the front part of the foot due to weakness or paralysis. He ordered a magnetic resonance imaging or MRI to determine its underlying cause. The results were available the next day and he requested I come in for a consultation. During the consultation, he advised the cause of the drop foot was a herniated disc that was pressing against the L5 spinal segment nerve root. This spinal nerve runs down the back of the legs and provides sensory and motor signals to the legs. Note 2: I have now learned that an x-ray alone should not be the only testing done when there is consistent back pain. The x-ray will almost always come back as normal. For an accurate diagnosis to be made, an MRI should be done.

Later that afternoon, I kept thinking if I had only followed my intuition and got a second opinion, I might not have experienced this relapse and drop foot. Thinking my condition was a just a pulled muscle, I didn’t exercise much care in my normal routine. I continued to do all the lifting and bending I’d always done. When I felt the stress in my lower back, I attributed it to the pulled muscle. How much further damage had I done by not having an accurate diagnosis?

I’m not laying much blame on my PCP. His specialty is not orthopedic medicine. His response could have been a lot better, though. Mostly, I blame myself because I knew there had to be something else causing my intense pain, but I didn’t want to believe it. Instead of following the voice inside me, I shut her up.

In the August issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, Oprah Winfrey writes on her “What I Know For Sure” page: “I’ve trusted the still, small voice of intuition my entire life. And the only time I’ve made mistakes is when I didn’t.” Boy, did that speak volumes for me.

And, hopefully, it speaks volumes for you. Whether your intuition is nudging you about your health, career, or personal situation, take the time to listen, even if you feel silly for doing it. It’s better to feel silly than be sorry.

The Casey Anthony Jury – What Were They Thinking?

The “not guilty” verdict handed down in the Casey Anthony decision shocked many. It appeared to be an open and shut case. This young woman failed to report her missing child, partied hard during the child’s disappearance, and told repeated lies when questioned about the circumstances leading up to her daughter’s horrific death. What in the world was going on in those juror’s minds?

Some years back, I was selected to be a juror on a child molestation case. It, too, appeared to be open and shut. Without going into specific details, a young boy accused a man, an old family friend, of sexually molesting him over the course of several years. When first approached with these allegations, the friend fled to his native country for a while before returning to the United States. The boy, now a young man, contacted the authorities when he learned of the man’s return to the States. The authorities felt there was enough evidence to arrest the family friend and subsequently bring him to trial.

From the outside looking in, those facts alone seemed to indicate guilt on the man’s part. Why else would he run when approached with the boy’s allegations? The prosecution began strongly with a searing opening statement. While the defense gave off an eccentric air coupled with a condescending tone. The prosecution presented its witnesses, including the plaintiff. The defense presented its witnesses, including the defendant. Both sides cross-examined the witnesses. The closing statements were again more of the same – a strong showing by the prosecution and a strange showing by the defense. We deliberated several hours before returning a not guilty verdict.

What happened? Three things: One, while the young man (who was now living as a transgendered woman) gave a powerful and graphic testimony, the other witnesses for the prosecution were weak to say the least. As horrible as the defense attorney was, he was able to poke holes in their recollections of events. The witnesses for the prosecution even contradicted themselves several times while being questioned by the prosecutor. Two, the defendant gave a valid reason why he retuned to his native country. According to him he didn’t run; the allegations were so ridiculous, he thought the matter was resolved when he denied them and felt free to visit his home country to take care of family business. He had made the same trip several times before, so there was nothing unusual about him leaving. Three, the judge felt her instructions to the jury were so clear that when we asked for clarification, her response was to “follow the instructions you were given.”

Left on our own to decide this man’s fate, we had two questions: do we ruin a person’s life based on gut feelings? Or do we base our decision strictly on the evidence presented during the trial? While we were moved by the accuser’s testimony, there were too many doubts presented not just by the defense, but also by the prosecution. I’m not sure if the prosecutor thought it was such an open and shut case that the corroborating witnesses would not be a major factor but, if she did, she was sadly mistaken. Because of the doubt, we were unable to render a guilty verdict.

After the decision was read, we went back to the jurors’ room, where the defense attorney thanked us and the prosecutor looked at us like we were the dumbest people she had ever seen. Even the judge scolded us, saying she couldn’t believe we didn’t hand down a guilty verdict.

The entire experience left me with such a bitter feeling towards the American judicial system that I rarely follow trials. I didn’t follow the Casey Anthony trial, except for the news coverage. I don’t know the evidence presented, the instructions handed down to the jury or the strength or weakness of the witnesses. I can tell you, however, that being charged with the responsibility of deciding someone’s fate is not as easy or simple as it appears. It is a decision you, as the juror, also have to live with. You not only have your opinion to consider but also instructions from the judge. I’m sure the jurors in the Anthony trial were faced with these challenges and then some. Although it may not make sense and we may not agree, “not guilty” may have been the only verdict they could give.