Category Archives: Editorial

The State of the Union Address and Republican Response – Doing What’s Right or Hollywood Hype?

At least no one shouted, “You lie!” this time.

President Barack Obama delivered the State of the Union address tonight in full campaign mode, highlighting his accomplishments (the death of Osama bin Laden, creation of jobs, the success of the auto industry) and future goals for America including:

• Tax reform for businesses that outsource jobs and tax breaks for businesses that create jobs in America (which seemed to be met with bipartisan approval)
• The appointment of a trade department to regulate and investigate foreign piracy and taxation (not so much bipartisan approval. Even I, a supporter of the president, feel this may be a waste of taxpayer money)
• Immigration reform (there were camera shots of John McCain who appeared somewhat bemused)
• Unemployment reform (change it from an unemployment program to a re-employment program, met with bipartisan approval)
• Equal pay for women (met with approval from the female members of Congress and the Senate. Camera shot of Laurene Powell Jobs, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ widow)
• Clean energy
• Banking reform
• Agriculture Reform
• Health care reform (strictly partisan approval)
• Unit to investigate reckless lenders (Again, not so sure I agree with this one – waste of taxpayer money. Received, in my opinion, a deserved lukewarm response)
• Revoking tax breaks for wealthy Americans (also met with lukewarm response. What can one expect from an auditorium mostly filled with millionaires?)
• Congress and Senate reform (stepped on some toes with that one)
• Foreign policy

Of course, the Republican senators and congressmen spent the majority of the time with stern countenances as President Obama relayed his vision. Speaker of the House John Boehner set the Republican tone earlier by calling the president’s speech “pathetic” so that was no surprise. What’s surprising is that neither party is willing to work with the other to better the conditions and circumstances of the everyday American citizen. Actually, it’s shameful. The president stated he does not want to return to the same policies that placed America in this recession. I argue no one – Democrat or Republican, Tea Party or Libertarian – wants that. Hopefully, they will prove it by stopping childish name-calling and finger-pointing and getting to the business of fixing this country. Note: I found it strange that as ABC went to a commercial break, it was announced that the State of the Union Address and Republican Response were being brought to us by The Descendants, which is a current theatrical release starring George Clooney. Well, ABC is owned by the Walt Disney Company. Which begs the question: Did I just view a big Hollywood production?

Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana delivered the Republican response. The response went pretty much as expected: The President is wrong. His polices are wrong. His ideals are wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Republicans are right. The only way to cure what ails America is vote in a Republican president and Senate. He advised America’s problems are mathematical, but didn’t provide an actual formula or solution. To really get the viewer’s riled, we were enlightened to the fact that the Obama administration works to divide Americans by courting favor to certain groups. We were also enlightened that the current administration feels we are too incompetent to self-govern. Woo-Wee, them there’s fightin’ words!

Hmmm, this may really be one great big Hollywood production, after all.

Dear Paula Deen,

Today, you announced you have Type 2 diabetes. You were asked why you waited so long to disclose your condition, especially since you love to prepare fried, rich and buttery foods on your popular cooking program. You graciously answered those questions, even though it is no one’s business. One’s medical history is a private, personal matter and shouldn’t be public fodder. Your medical condition will not affect any aspect of my life as I am sure it will not affect anyone else’s life outside of your family.

I’ve watched you on Food Network for many years and don’t recall you ever forcing anyone to try your recipes or suggesting people eat rich or fried foods on a daily basis. You expressed your love of these foods and I’m sure you still have cravings for them. You know the lifestyle changes you had to make and I’m sure you are still following your doctor’s orders.

I, for one, will continue to watch your cooking shows, read your magazine and try the occasional recipe. Your personal life is just that – YOUR PERSONAL LIFE. I appreciate your public persona and implore you to not change a thing. To me, the people criticizing you are akin to those who blame and even sue fast food chains for causing their children and them to be overweight. Like failing to exercise and eat balanced meals weren’t contributing factors. There is way too much information on the importance of diet for anyone to feign ignorance. No one forced them to eat fast food everyday rather than prepare a healthy meal at home, just like you can’t force people to load their plates with butter. Those are personal decisions.

Keep your head up, lady. I’ll be tuning in to Paula’s Home Cooking this weekend.

Disrespect To The Highest Levels

Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden were booed at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Finale in Miami. They were there presented as grand marshals and were there to show support for military families.

Much speculation has gone into why they were booed, and there have been many valid points given. Deep down, however, everyone knows the real reason why they, no scratch that, Mrs. Obama, was booed. Thankfully, Rush Limbaugh has finally led that humongous elephant out of the room.

Those darn Obamas are a group of uppity blacks. Hey, black people are OK to dance and sing and play sports, but they have no business in politics. That’s just crossing the line. And that fact that we, the American people, have to refer to them as “Mr. President” and “First Lady” is just disgraceful. The reality of a black family living in the personal quarters of the White House is unconscionable. Who do they think they are?

If my tone seems sarcastic, it’s because it is. How much disrespect does one family have to endure? It was a shameful showing for NASCAR and the country for the crowd in Miami to boo the First Lady and Dr. Biden. I have one question, though. If both women were booed, why is the focus on Michelle Obama? Because everyone knows she was the true target of the crowd’s disdain, as much for her husband’s controversial politics as for the color of her skin. Yes, I went there. Limbaugh noted Mrs. Obama’s fiscally irresponsible spending in his polarizing support of the crowd. I can remember former First Lady Nancy Reagan – wife of President Ronald Reagan who the current crop of Republican contenders cite as the greatest president – was also criticized for her spending and redecorating while her husband was in office. His administration championed budget cuts while his wife spent millions received through “donations”. She was known to favor glamorous gowns and expensive china and did not appear to have any regrets even though the country was in a recession during that time as well. Despite all of this, I don’t think one person in that NASCAR crowd would have booed her had she been presented as grand marshal. You want to know why? They know it would have been disrespectful to her as a former First Lady and as a person, just as it was disrespectful to Mrs. Obama.

Oh, Rush. You’re very critical given your own past indiscretions with painkillers. One would think your criminal investigation and subsequent redemption would give you a little more compassion and understanding. But then, compassion and understanding don’t pull in the big ratings, do they?

I won’t even delve too deeply into Newt Gingrich’s plan to have children in disadvantaged neighborhoods work as janitors in their schools to reinstitute the value of work. The value of work and a hard-earned dollar should be instituted across the board so that things like this don’t happen to the privileged.

America has become a divisive, greedy, rude and disrespectful nation where not even the office of the presidency is shown respect. This is a very sad commentary of our times.

Time Out for the N-Word

Nigger, Nigga or however you want to pronounce is, unfortunately, a part of America’s – no the world’s – lexicon. It isn’t going away anytime soon no matter how much I wish it would.

By now, you may have seen the clip of Sherri Shepherd taking Barbara Walters to task for using the word “nigger” when reporting on the name of Texas Governor and Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry’s family’s hunting ranch. At first, Sherri stated she didn’t like the way Barbara pronounced it. Then, she admitted she didn’t like hearing the word come from white people.

Neither do I.

But the one thing I’m not is a hypocrite. Not only do I not like hearing the word uttered by whites I absolutely loathe hearing it come from the mouths of black people, especially young black people. The popularity of rap music, particularly gangster – excuse me, gangsta – rap has made it hard to escape the word. Our young people – black, white, Hispanic and Asian – think nothing of saying this word openly in mixed company. True story: It was pointed out to one young, black woman who repeatedly said the word at her place of employment that it was rude. She was dumbfounded. “But everybody says nigger,” was her defense. This scene didn’t play out this year; it happened over ten years ago.

If Barbara Walters can’t say “nigger”, then Lil’ Wayne and other rappers shouldn’t be given a pass, either. My deepest concern for black youths is not having an understanding or appreciation of their race’s history with all its injustices, struggles and accomplishments. No other race has taken such a mean-spirited, painful and derogatory term for their culture and turned it into an acceptable mainstream expression. I have never heard a Jewish person greet another with “Hey, kike!” I have never heard a Jewish comic joke about life in a concentration camp, either. And because they don’t make light of their culture’s dark moments, it is not acceptable to disrespect them. I can’t say the same for my race and culture.

And to those who say there is a difference between “nigger” and “nigga”, I say there isn’t. You do yourselves and others a serious disservice by promoting the use of this word in whatever variation as a means of empowerment. It may be empowering if you are a millionaire rapper who travels with an entourage that includes bodyguards. It is hurtful and humiliating to the man sitting at the bus stop being attacked by racist skinheads and the man tied to the back of a truck and dragged until dismemberment.

We as a race have come too far to cling to this disparaging reminder of the past. Let’s do away with this word. Let’s make it unacceptable for anyone to say “nigger”, regardless of race, color or socioeconomic background. We can do it. I know this thought makes me a somewhat of a Pollyanna, but a girl can dream, can’t she?

Thought For The Day

“Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse, who leave the straight paths to walk in dark ways, who delight in doing wrong and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, whose paths are crooked and who are devious in their ways.” Proverbs 2:12-15

Keep the Lord’s commands on your heart and be on guard at all times. In all things, employ wisdom over emotion. It doesn’t make you weak to resist the temptation to react. Think it through and ask yourself, “How will this affect my future?” If you can’t think of anything positive stemming from your actions, then don’t do it. Don’t let your friends, acquaintances, or socio-economic condition force you into doing something you know is wrong. We are losing too many of our young men and women to split-second decisions that have tragic consequences. The Troy Davis execution and countless others where the condemned’s guilt is questionable are sad reminders. Remove yourself from situations that lead to moral and physical death.

May God continue to bless you and your family. Make it a good day.

September 11, 2001

I was home. I had the day off from work to assist my mother who was convalescing from foot surgery. I was puttering around her house when I noticed the usually chipper banter between Matt Lauer and Katie Couric on the Today morning show had turned very serious. I looked at the television screen to see thick, black smoke billowing from one of the Twin Towers. I, like many others around the country and perhaps around the world, sat frozen as the horrible sequence of events played out on live television.

Although the scenes of that day are forever emblazoned in my memory, I had begun to forget how I felt that day. The confusion, fear, anger that dissolved into incredible sadness and then hope. I had forgotten how, for one moment, our country was united in its shock, grief and then resolve. I had forgotten how I felt as I watched for the first time a plane fly the day commercial services re-instituted services. I was reminded of those feelings, however, as I watched this morning’s 9/11 memorial services. I found my heart still heavy for those who experienced such an incredible loss. It was evident the weight of their losses will forever burden their hearts. Having a heart is our common denominator. Our hearts betray our words and guide our actions. Our hearts are where our truths lie.

That is why it is unconscionable to me that hearts so identifiable with love can also harbor extreme hate. A hate so permeating that it decides the last day one will see their loved ones; decides the day of their last, “I love you”, their last hug, and their last kiss.

May God continue to bless the souls of those who lost their lives on September 11, 2011. May He also bless their families and friends. I pray that we allow Him to guide us in our actions to prevent this type of loss from ever happening again, not just on American soil but throughout the world. This wasn’t just a crime against America. This was a crime against humanity.

Rick Perry’s Day of Prayer – What Message Did It Give?

Photo: Brandon Thibodeaux/Getty

Recently, Gov. Rick Perry, R – Texas, hosted a day of fasting and prayer in my hometown of Houston. The governor asked those in attendance to pray for America and her leaders.

I am a less than silent supporter of President Barack Obama however, lately, I have become disappointed in his and the other elected officials’ inability to govern this country effectively. The Oval Office, Congress and Senate are beginning to resemble one big schoolyard with bullies on each side playing Dodgeball with bricks and waiting for the other side to “blink first”. I am an unabashed proponent of praying. Praying for our leaders can never hurt but only help them to thoughtfully, selflessly and wisely author and pass laws that add to the well-being of America and the world. I fully supported Perry in this endeavor, but I am not naïve. I understand his day of prayer was inspired by his interest in pursuing a run for the presidency. However, I would never doubt Perry’s sincerity. I’d like to believe it was a mostly genuine effort.

As with anything that mixes religion and politics, there was controversy. Picketers protested the event. There were, of course, the atheists. There were those who strongly believe in separation of church and state. There was also a young man representing the GLBT community. I remember him because he said something that stuck with me. When interviewed by a local news reporter he cited one of the reasons why he was protesting was that he didn’t think those in attendance would accept him.

I can’t pretend that there aren’t judgmental Christians or that there haven’t been many who have used the Word to further their own selfish agendas. Jesus addressed these types of individuals in Matthew 23. Men are imperfect; that is why our faith should never be placed in man but only in God. “I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God, in whom I trust.’” Ps 91:2, NIV.

Sadly, there may have been some truth in the young man’s comment. However, acceptance by man should never be a Christian’s goal. Christians should never attempt to be people-pleasers. Our goal is acceptance from God. Our mission is to conduct ourselves in a way that pleases God and draws others to Him. I can only pray that one day that young man will read the Bible for his own salvation and see that God loves him. Hopefully, after realizing that God’s love is unconditional, he will lose the apprehension he feels and enter a house of worship. Unfortunately, there will always be those who judge and those who use the Bible to condemn other groups. But in his reading, the young man would understand that God is love. And when he feels rejected by any organization he will remember Heb 13:6: “So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’”

That is something all Christians should remember, whether it’s facing our own difficult circumstances or standing up for what is right in the sight of the Lord. Let’s work on our attitudes to prevent people like the young protestor from feeling as if Christianity is out of their grasps. Remember, our job is to bring people closer to God, not push them away.

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

See image above at: www.zooomr.com/z/ photos/zoom/ 5937277/size-32/

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.