*Editorial note: The blog will be down next week. I am scampering into the fields of print journalism. smile
Dallas Morning News ran an excellent article by Carl P. Leubsdorf to honor former President Gerald R. Ford. (front page Dec. 27). The headline writer missed it by a mile. It was titled "Accidental chief helped U.S. heal". Now maybe it is because my bellows were in use and my feet were in motion when I kicked my way out of the womb, but I have never believed in blind luck. I do not believe in accidents of good fortune. But I do believe that the vast majority of those who hold the reins in the corridors of influence have attained to their position by a series of premeditated and hard knuckle decisions.
Early on my parents drilled it into the heads of their six children that life was not for the weak. Yes, the weak could certainly survive but life would pass them by, to be remembered no more. I believe people live on "the dash".... that little dash on the tombstone separating the time of birth from the time of death. I determined early on that I wanted to live on "the dash" in such a way that people would remember me long after my feet took flight. President Gerald Ford (1913-2006) had a long dash when it came to longevity, but his place in history is also secure because of the choices he made with his life. His ascendancy to the presidency of the United States of America was the culmination of the measured steps he took regarding his personal, professional and lifetime associations.
Here are some observations I have made regarding influential people I respect:
*Prioritizing of time and resources are in healthy alliance.
*Decisions are made using a risk-benefit paradigm. I use this paradigm constantly! I am not afraid to step across the line and confront risk if I see the greater good.
*An ability to walk away from a decision which is not working, and regroup both emotions and intellect to formulate a new plan. Stubborn behavior is not a virtue for all scenarios.
*Commitment to social causes and the bigger picture.
*Ability to reside within a command structure and fall under chain of command. In simpler terms, the distinct recognition of a need for accountability.
*Partnership with other people of influence and setting aside of personal differences for goal achievement.
I am sure the readership has additional thoughts regarding the nature of influence. How are individuals able to harness actions and behavior in sequential steps which then open doors of opportunity? Many times there are years in the shadows before the appearance of the recognizable public face.
Elvira Arrellano may claim the right to sanctuary within the walls of a Chicago church but the fact remains she is an illegal immigrant on American soil, convicted of Social Security fraud and has already been deported once prior to this attempt.
Although the right to sanctuary or political asylum has its roots in medieval English law it is unlikely that Ms. Arrellano has an inkling regarding the history of sanctuary in England, where warriors fleeing the battlefield would find sanctuary in the church. This was to keep the hide on the man and the Angel of Death away until another day or another battle. At times it was also a means for felons on the run to receive a bit of a reprieve while their families either sought legal options or the necessary bribes to freedom. It was never a long term solution.
Ms. Arrellano has staked her claim as a church squatter based on the U.S. "Sanctuary Movement" established in the 1980's to assist refugees fleeing Central American nations caught up in civil wars and oppressive regimes. This movement was headed by Rev. John Fife of Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Arizona. It was his congregation which was the first to declare its self a "sanctuary" for illegal immigrants. Other denominations followed, most notably University Baptist Church in Seattle, which also managed to get the city of Seattle to declare its status as a "Sanctuary City". Things gained momentum and moved along quite nicely until the F.B.I. infiltrated their ranks and began to issue arrest warrants to participants for harboring and aiding illegal immigrants. This populist movement somewhat fizzled after citizens decided they would rather not end up in jail. Rev. John Fife had a few months to reflect on his own actions while a resident of our penal system awaiting trial. These days, he is still busy working to ramp up watering stations in the desert to assist the weary traveler on their way.
But should the church provide sanctuary for illegal activity? And if so, should the safe pasture apply only to illegal immigrants seeking to avoid a lawfully executed deportation order? Think again of her social security fraud. There are no hard statistics but it is estimated that hundreds of thousands of American citizens have had their identities stolen by illegal immigrants. Ms. Arrellano might be working under your social security number. And if it is not her, have you considered whether another illegal alien is now "you"? Now if that doesn't make you feel warm and fuzzy, nothing will do the trick. Why is this treated like a political hot potato? What if a man is sought for child molestation? Can he set up residence in a church and evade arrest? Or what about the scam artist who just drained your elderly parent of their life savings?
Maybe the leadership of this Chicago church should stop for just a minute and consider the message they are sending to their own children: The law is to be honored and upheld unless it is within the walls of our church. "Different rules" apply when it comes to the emotional issue of sanctuary. But for many Americans Ms. Arrellano is not a cause celebre'. She is a woman who is evading the warrant for her arrest and deportation for identity theft and illegal status.
To anyone who has worked many years in high-volume retail or mall settings, I feel your pain. For those who cringe at the thought of hearing Yoko Ono warbling in the background of John Lennon's "Happy Christmas" even one more time, just remember she's far from a new recording contract these days. Elton John, Christina Aguilara, ...the mob that was "Live Aid"... have all participated in the "Scrooge-ing" of my mind at Christmas. What I've realized is that the mind-numbing repetition of the same pop-culture-acceptable tunes gets me to humming...loudly...in the car. I have to admit that I catch myself reaching for a Nickelback or Dierks Bentley CD just to numb the pain.
America's commercial appetite must be fed, you know. With all of these frantic shoppers and business office visitors needing something to fill their skulls it is incumbent upon the business community to do so while remaining politically correct and "cool". Now that we are rounding the corner into the final stretch, be comforted that Bruce Springsteen's (actually quite fun) "Santa Clause is Coming To Town" can be substituted for the Yoko nightmare bouncing around in your head. You just have to concentrate a bit.
It is unfortunate that an industry with a fair amount of disdain for the Christian religion somehow feels compelled to contribute vast quantities of secular-friendly "holiday" tunes, or that celebrity icons succeed in regularly publishing "updated" traditional tunes freshly slaughtered with dull butter knives. Yet amongst all of the overplayed crappola there is actually some quality stuff. Celine Dionne's version of the Lennon barf is actually (saw that coming didn't you) better. Who can resist the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, or who hasn't bawled their eyes out listening to Newsong's "The Christmas Shoes"?
Christmas music (oops, "holiday music"?) is somewhat of a microcosm of the state of things for this most-important of sectarian celebrations. There's a lot of GOOD out there, but it seems to get drowned out by the dopey, watered-down feel-good pap that passes for the season. As I begin to get grumpy at times, I do find I can remind myself that worse things could be going on than people missing the "reason for the season".
One of my favorite plot lines in a fairly recent movie: An aging and dried-up rocker fights his way through recording a Christmas-time song to boost his popularity in "Love Actually". The whole movie is a hoot, but if Christ is mentioned once in the movie I would be completely shocked. Still, I LOVE to laugh and that movie did it for me. It's just not exactly "Christmas-eeee".
I may not catch the spirit of the season thanks to Rosie O'Donnell's two Christmas albums out (did you even KNOW it could get that bad?) but rest assured Chip Davis, your local church choir, and Nat King Cole still know how to give the baby Jesus his props.
So as I coast into the weekend, allow me to wish everyone a very MERRY CHRISTMAS. I would ask the readers to do me a favor: Give us one example of each...the Christmas song you love to love, and the one you would like to send to the recycle bin.
Being a registered nurse I enjoy reading research news. Research comes in waves. So what is the hope for today, can be the makings of disaster and the class action lawsuit of tomorrow once the product hits the market and mass consumerism exposes any research flaws. I wonder if the new nasal spray to fight obesity might fall in that category.
America has an obesity problem. We eat too much and exercise too little. There is even a new term which has been coined by the medical community: "Diabesity", i.e. diabetes caused by long term obesity. We are seeing an alarming increase in diabetes in children. Black adult females and also Hispanic women are being hit particularly hard with the co-morbidities of carrying around enough weight to qualify as Siamese twins.
But I am not convinced that a nasal spray blocking a sense of smell and taste is the answer. What if you are sleeping in a downstairs bedroom and do not smell the smoke that is coming from an upstairs bedroom fire? And what about that potato salad at the summer picnic that doesn't taste quite right? I have certainly declined food that had a suspicious taste. And I worry about gas leaks. Yeah, gas leaks. Now living with males all of my life, the ability to use a nasal spray and block out the human expulsion of gas might be a definite benefit. But I think men with newborn babies already take the spray. They probably buy it at some underground black market facility that is known only to them. My husband never admitted to smelling a dirty diaper! But it was strange how he could smell bacon cooking while taking his shower. Hmmm?
Critical care nurses have a highly-developed sense of smell. Certain infections, certain end-stage disease processes have odors which we recognize. Other professional jobs depend on sense of smell and taste also. But I do worry that offering a nasal spray as an adjunct therapy to treat obesity will not do the trick. Because overeating and lack of exercise have to do with discipline. And discipline cannot be purchased in a bottle.
The traditional church has historically been seen as a place of safe pasture. And it should remain a safe pasture; the kind of place to take your small children and know that they are not going to be manipulated by adults who have an agenda to teach them about safe sex or introduce them to books about Daddy having a boyfriend. They can get that in the public school system. It should be a safe place to take your teens. They will be exposed constantly to pornography, drug use and a culture of disrespect to authority in their local neighborhood. The church can be a place where they enjoy the interaction of people with like belief and vision. And the church, should remain a place where one generation can pass on to the next, the societal anchors that keep our nation strong.
The latest battlefield is regarding the ordination of gay pastors. In the Dallas area, Highland Park Presbyterian has suspended payments to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) over this issue. This church of 4,300 members is one of the largest Presbyterian congregations in the nation. Two of the largest Episcopal parishes in Virginia have taken more drastic measures. They have voted to join their conservative Anglican brethren and form a rival denomination. Do they have the right to engage such behavior? Of course they do! Money and membership impact national church ecclesiastical bodies and their policy and decision-making think tanks.
Declining the affirmation of gay pastors is not just an issue of civil rights for the gay community. What about the civil rights of a community church to sustain the traditions with which they are comfortable and also believe to be in line with their Biblical application?
Our children need role models. They are in scant supply in the sports industry, media industry and (gasp) among some of our elected officials. They know all about Terrell Owens spitting on another player. They need to hear about the One who allowed Himself to be spit upon. They know about the Hollywood women who show their crotches to the camera. They need to also know about the One who saved the woman caught in adultery, saving her from stoning by a group of men. He chose to display kindness to her, in spite of her sin. They know about former Representative Mark Foley and his text messages to young male Congressional pages. They need to know that there are men out there that do not hurt little boys; that there are men with masculinity devoid of abusive tendencies. The church, can offer that picture to a child.
Let the children and youth see the traditional picture of life, presented by the church. The church occasionally fails in these areas. But that does not negate the need for a continuance of Biblical tradition. These provide societal anchors that have served us well. The church has the right to keep the gate to the sheep pen closed to homosexual ordination.
"The day that there is a democratic Palestine living side by side in peace with a democratic Israel is going to the the day that this region clearly has a new sense of hope and a new sense of unity.... And so, of course, we need to work each and every day toward resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict." Dr. Condoleeza Rice, American University in Cairo, 20 June
One thing is for sure. Israel is not going away. The people have proved their tenacity and staying power for decades as a modern state. President Ahmadinejad will never achieve his fantasy of blotting Israel off the face of the map. Maybe he needs to have a little chat with Mordechai Vanunu. Israel with nuclear options? If you want to play a dangerous game negating that thought just whistle along as the Beatles sing "Imagine". It's easy if you try....
So what remains in the "options" arsenal of choice for the Palestinians, a poor but proud people? Dare I say it? Might good governance by wise men, be a first choice? Just look at the almost weekly mess of the Hamas-controlled government. Can we even begin to imagine that in America that we would open our local newspaper to find a Cabinet minister whose convoy is fired upon by a crowd of unruly citizens? Or that Americans would set up a missile battery to fire on the presidential residence? What about last week? Three children killed in a botched assassination attempt on their politically important father as they were riding to school? One of the children had ten bullet holes in his head. Follow that up with a public revenge assassination of a young judge, forced to the sidewalk outside his courtroom and tapped in the head. His blast into eternity, at the hands of three men who had calmly eaten lunch at a food stand down the street prior to drilling his head full of holes. Strong stomachs, those Palestinians.
So do we have an Israeli-Palestinian conflict or can we just call it a Palestinian conflict at this point in history? For it appears from the weekly news releases coming from Gaza that the Palestinians are their own worst enemies. They do not know how to govern themselves effectively. And if the governance they prefer is rulership by anarchy, marches by tens of thousands of restive citizens, public assassinations and the inability of their political factions to get along, so be it. Let's call it what it is, which is the makings of a civil war within their borders.
I ask the following, with a sensitivity that understands the refugee status, the history of the past generations and the abject poverty in which many of them live. But the question haunts me at this point. Are the Palestinians culturally poor? Has their identity suffered a mutation because of the many years of focusing on Israel as the enemy, while not seeking viable solutions within the Ummah? And as with mutations, have they passed it on to their own children? Is it an ideological mutation which is good when maintaining a war footing against an enemy and there is psychological need? But a mutation which can cause harm in the next generation which must work to restore a structural and functioning government?
Our own nation suffered a revolutionary war for independence and approximately three generations later, a civil war which tore the fabric of our nation apart. Our wise President Abraham Lincoln, started our nation on the path of reconstruction before he was murdered. This path, was continued by succeeding generations of American leadership who understood the vast wound of the American people. We also had an almost immediate "refugee" problem with the tens of thousands of freed black slaves. They were free, but free to do what? Many were illiterate and with no skills beyond the backbreaking labor to which we had subjected them. It took us many, many years to make amends for that situation also. But it was our own people, who took the reins of decision and brought a return of societal health to our citizens.
The Palestinians sustain their own wound. But where is the salve applied by their own leadership? Where are the wise leaders to take the reins and guide with steady hand, as opposed to a reactionary trigger finger? For as long as the political factions continue on a path of violence as opposed to one of negotiation, the Palestinians will continue to suffer. The Palestinians, need a few good men.
The Ottoman Empire spanned a timeline of approximately four hundred years. Although the decline was already in place, the noticeable change was facilitated after the Turks allied themselves with Germany in World War I. With the defeat of Germany, the domino effect fell squarely into the lap of the Ottoman Sultanate, which controlled a vast geographic holding. Under the Sykes-Picot Agreement, areas were mandated into zones controlled by the British and the French. Great Britain received partitions of "Palestine" which included modern Jordan (the Hashemite Kingdom), Israel and the West Bank. France snapped up Lebanon and Syria in a caretaker role.
The Balfour Treaty of November 1917, by the British Government, gave the glimmer of hope for a Jewish State and the fight was on. In actuality, a noticeable diaspora of Jews began to return to Palestine in the 1880s, but it was Balfour that put the flesh on the skeleton of a vision and gave the thing a pulse and the Jews their running shoes. Things moved back and forth between the Jews and the Palestinians with notable massacres on both sides. The culmination came with the declaration of a Jewish State on May 14, 1948 by the Israeli Provisional Council of State. Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen had troop mobilizations ready and when the announcement was made, all hell broke loose.
When the dust settled there were an estimated 500,000 to 700,000 displaced Palestinians, creating the refugee crisis which gave us the U.N. General Assembly Resolution no.194 which sought for the U.N. Security Council to work to both demilitarize and also internationalize Jerusalem in a post-war environment, establish a Conciliatory Commission to repatriate, resettle and provide social rehabilitation of Palestinian refugees. On the heels of this resolution, issued on Dec. 11, 1948 the international diplomatic community descended upon Lausanne, Switzerland in 1949. This conference lasted from April 27 through 12 of September, producing the usual impotent document that diplomats like to churn out in post-conflict environments. What looks good on paper, giving a noble vision of bringing normalcy from the womb of war, does not always happen. We produced a stillbirth on this one, for the most part.
As we have seen, humans do not respond with conformity to documents and treaties and the devil can be in the details, when it comes to human reaction to the instrinsic and extrinsic forces that govern their lives. This is especially true during times of war. Solutions are usually not of the short lead nature and can in fact prove elusive. This is not merely due to lack of will on either side but also because of the nature of humanity being generational in focus. While each war has a beginning point and an ending point on the historical timeline, the scars of war are not only carried on in the hearts of the warriors, but transmitted as an emotive through the oral traditions passed on to the children. The people of the East, have a much stronger tether to their oral traditions than do those of us birthed in the West.
Here in America we love the old song "This land is your land, this land is my land..... this land, was made for you and me." Life has worked out well for most of us. America is a wonderfully stable place. But when looking at the chunk of real estate that is Jerusalem and its surrounding holy precincts, this cradle of civilization is the place to which the three major world religions lay hold of their roots. The fight is definitely still on! And nearly sixty years after the remarkable rise of a modern Israeli state onto the stage of the world, the "Palestinian question" still remains today.
Let's examine some of this tomorrow.
I didn't think much about it when I was a kid. Puppets that looked like Glen Campbell with rouge. Abominable snowmen, amateur dentists, and Bill Clinton as "The Heat Mizer" were an annual treat. A couple of years ago, I was appalled to finally realize that Kris Kringle consults a warlock to populate his naughty-or-nice list. Look just how far we've gone, folks. Christmas, if you look anywhere it's still allowed, is nothing more than another day to make somebody else feel good.
For those with an interest in history, take a peek into the past and into the life of Saint Nicholas, Bishop of Myra. Christians and non-Christians alike deserve more than we get, and it's no wonder many don't take the holiday seriously any more...we don't.
My wife informed me today that while watching one of the morning news shows she observed a segment advising people about cards and gifts in the workplace for Christmas. "Keep religion out of it", they said. "You don' t want to offend anyone." I agree, I must say. Instead, pee in a cup...drop in an image of your favorite deity and have a good laugh sometime later... like July. Christmas is hardly a time for such polarizing endeavors as "religion". You might as well break out and exchange voter identification cards!
Somewhere, and at some point in time, it became unfashionable to recognize Christmas for what it really is, the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. You don't have to believe it. You don't even have to care if it's true. Just let it be what it is, would you?
Good, now lets turn from the church-folk and talk to the secularists out there. Hey. It's not your fault, so don't think I'm going to bust anyone's chops for just wanting to buy a present here and a fruitcake/doorstop there. When Christians in this country and others gradually sold out their faith for an economic juggernaut, you were just kind of sucked in with the plankton.
Since we've become just another European-style managed economy, the government is in somewhat of a pickle. Determined to drive out "religion" from even the halls of public debate and discourse, "it" provides the catalyst for what gives the politician power: money and taxes. So it's understandable that the modern Christmas holiday in America, which results from having one's cake and eating it too, demands to be spiritually fed by the church in Laodicea (Rev 3:14-22).
But we the Christian community cannot point a finger. We can only hang our head and confess that we, more than anyone else, are more focused on the secular spoils than the faith of our fathers. Just like the shout against the civil union movement may fall ineffective from the roar of tolerated hetero-infidelity and promiscuousness, the magical truth of the Savior's birth is annually overshadowed by pin numbers and platitudes.
I spoke today with a superior at my place of business. We were talking about the numbers of Christmas cards sent each year, and how many of them carried nothing more than an empty ( and secularized) message of "happy holidays" and "looking forward to a bright new year". If we canned that practice and diverted the $1.50 - $5.00 per card to families or communities in-need, wouldn't we have a more-lasting effect?
My how far we have fallen. My only hope is that poor unsuspecting children will not stumble out of bed, unnoticed, checking their televisions to see where Santa's sleigh is this year. Instead, they will get the 'looping' gift of two perverts hunting for "Girls Gone Wild".
Lord help us...
Elizabeth Bolden, the oldest living human, just passed away at age 116. Here was a lady born in an era of horse and buggy, living to see man step foot on the moon and even further advances in space technology. She is a woman who survived a childhood without antibiotics, vaccines or medical care. And her life spanned seasons of war and seasons of peace in our nation. My own beloved Cherokee grandmother is 94 and resides in a nursing home in Montana. She was still shoveling snow off her steps at age 87 and lived at home until last year. She remains alert enough to give the nursing home staff problems. They once tried to cut her fingernails and she refused, stating that they were her "weapons". Her tongue, remains a potent weapon. smile The last picture I received of my grandmother shows an old woman with a wrinkled face but with startling happy and beautiful eyes, seated in a rocker. This woman, is beautiful to me. One of my favorite contemporary songs expresses the love of a man for a woman. In it he declares that his desire is to be there, to watch the woman age "in beauty". And as I look around me, there are many beautiful older people in my community.
It is remarkable how some individuals take the good health they are given in their later years and bring tremendous wordcraft, art and music, benefitting the souls of men long after they have crossed over to the other side. The composer Verdi gifted the world with "Falstaff" at age eighty and followed it with "Ave Maria" at age eighty-five! Tennyson was 80 years of age when he wrote "Crossing the Bar" and Goethe was the same age when he completed "Faust". And moving on to science, we do well to remember George Washington Carver. He remained at the Tuskegee Institute right up until the time of his death, continuing his research into agricultural advance.
I have gotten to the age in my own life that I have to stifle a yawn at the young models that grace the pages of our fashion magazines. I look at that beach boy and think "Great pecs, but does he have a brain?" And who cares whether Ms. Spears runs around without her underwear while only a couple of months post-partum from the birth of her second child? She can live to be ninety and her life will still not count for much. But beautiful older people? Look all around you. There are probably a few of them living in your own neighborhood. They continue to volunteer, teach, write, speak, and make a difference in our lives. To age with beauty, is the best gift of all.
The Demo-raptor legal team is already beginning to show it's "killing claw" as amici curiae work in tandem with interested parties to file what will undoubtedly be dozens of legal suits against the Bush administration for its handling of the war on terror. The ACLU is already making a move against Donald Rumsfeld, even as he is in Iraq giving a farewell address to the troops. No surprise there.
Just as Dromaeosaurs are an extinct species, we need to consider whether certain aspects of the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Conventions should also be considered fossilized body of law derived from a time when war was played by different rules. The legal definitions which encompass the rules of armed conflict have their roots therein. The roots were put in the ground by intelligent men who had seen the world through the lens of war. But what could not be foreseen, was the type of war which America engages today. The nascent body of law for IHL was constructed in the era of warfare for which it was well-suited. But were the framers engaged in the same process in the 21st century, my guess is a few areas would be modified to meet the demands of the modern battle space.
International Humanitarian Law is built from a carefully crafted combination of treaties and customary international law. For example, 191 nations abide by Geneva Convention rules regarding the treatment of POW's. Overall, it has served the various nations well. But let's examine a couple of the weaknesses of IHL.
IHL does not come into play until after an armed conflict has been engaged. This legal doctrine is specifically vague regarding civil war but strongly clear regarding rules of engagement for combatants when war erupts between nations. Under IHL only combatants can be the object of military action. The Geneva Conventions (Additional Protocol I) states that combatants must be members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict. By this definition, members of an initially rag-tag appearing militia under a Shia religious cleric in Iraq were off limits to us. We could not take out Muqtada al-Sadr and the complete down line in his chain of command. He did not fit the definition of IHL and the law of armed conflict. In retrospect, my belief is it would have been better had we taken care of business as soon as he deployed his initial wave into the sea of battle. But IHL, constrained our military might. Now according to IHL, civilians wielding arms can be lawfully attacked and are considered combatants. But once again, blurred lines because of our fight against an enemy without a public face and uniform, but a very public cause - the defeat of the West and annihilation of America. This remains the expressed goal of Al-Qaedah and all multi-national umbrella organizations which pledge allegiance to the Osama bin Ladin model of world domination through violent means.
We are forbidden.... "to kill or wound an enemy who, having laid down his arms, or having no longer the means of defense has surrendered at discretion." So what are the rules of engagement when an Iraqi driver blows through a military checkpoint in a car? A car was not classified as a weapon, in the bygone era of the beginnings of IHL doctrine. But a car is certainly a weaponized vehicle when laden with explosives in the trunk. Extrapolate the limitations of outdated doctrine when thinking of the Islamic invention of the suicide bomber. What about the man walking through a crowded street with no visible weapon but strong intelligence indicates this particular 180 pound male is likely to slaughter children on a bus with the swift click of a detonating device. Israeli intelligence officers lose sleep tracking down this sort of a menace. Yet under IHL, there is no right of pre-emptive strike against an individual target who is deemed a high security risk to the public. Call it the denied right to engage assassination of high value terror targets. It may sound a bit ugly. But it is certainly uglier, to think of scraping the DNA of children off the seats of a public bus.
Departing U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan may imply Americans are a bunch of bullies, the international community may raise a cry that we have breached protocol for the rules of armed conflict, but in most regards, our nation has played by the rules in place. There were no rules followed when al-Qaedah entered our air space on 9/11/2001 and took a multi-billion dollar chunk out of our American economic hide and left us with bits of bodies to bury. I do not fault the Bush Administration for biting back. And may the chunk taken out of the hindquarters of terrorists who wish us harm, be bigger than the one dealt to us as a nation. We need a big set of teeth to continue to tackle this very real threat.
As for Kofi Annan and his remarks today, he just gets the "Hawaiian Good Luck Sign" from me. He gave the same signal to my Commander in Chief in his farewell address from the Truman Presidential Museum and Library. He did not extend the courtesy of mentioning President Bush in his speech, by name, even once. Why did he deliberately not acknowledge our President? But yet he was comfortable enough in his own skin to deliver a couple of parting shots against the Bush administration. This is a man who has claimed America as his "home" for the last decade, as he has dispatched his diplomatic duties.
To hell with what he had to say. I support International Humanitarian Law in the spirit of its intent. But the increasing encroachment of an international court of opinion, limits options for sovereign display of might as needed for the physical security of our shores. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan must be acknowledged for the viewpoints displayed toward the nation which has hosted the U.N. He has always had an agenda. It has not been without malice toward my nation.
Texas has another cheerleader scandal. It is not about a mother hiring an assassin so her thirteen year old daughter has a better chance to make the team. But the McKinney school district has a big problem in their own cheerleading backyard. The problems surfaced when first year coach Michaela Ward resigned in October, citing interference and usurping of her authority to discipline the squad for some pretty serious stuff. Let that sink in a bit. A first year coach resigns early in the school year? This made the ears of the school superintendent Tom Crowe stand up. So he sent out a hound dog of a lawyer to pick up the scent. On December 5, Dallas Morning News began to air the stench on their front page. High school football and cheerleading squads are a big deal in the Lone Star State. And from the first sniff of the filed report, things ain't lookin good, as we say in Texas.
It appears that McKinney North High School principal Linda Theret used her position to thwart squad discipline. And did I mention that her own daughter is on the squad? The principal and an assistant principal could possibly face removal, which will be a good start toward fixing the problem. But how about just cleaning out the whole cesspool of the existing squad? Because when you have minor children attending keg parties and drinking alcohol, that is a violation of law. And when you have cheerleaders wearing their uniforms and posing suggestively in a condom store, it is a violation of a code of ethics.
In this era of individual rights we need to stop for a moment and reflect on the rights of the corporation or umbrella organization under which each of us reside. My own hospital, Baylor Medical Center at Irving, has religious roots. Baptist roots. As such, employees sign a handbook and agree to abide by a code of ethics. One of the things mentioned is to not be seen at a sports bar or drinking establishment wearing a Baylor badge or uniform. Does this mean employees cannot enjoy a happy hour after work? Of course not! But we need to change to civilian attire. If any should decide to drink excessively and start a Texas beer brawl and have their picture on the 10 o'clock news, it will be their fifteen seconds of fame, and theirs alone. See what I mean? Our actions, should not harm our employer and their public image.
Each one of us should understand a principle which the military has taught me. When I put on the uniform, I belong to them. Even when out of the uniform, I still belong to them. My job, is to make my employer look good. And in the moment that I screw the boss (my chain of command) and make him look bad, I will wish that I had never existed. Pretty harsh? You betcha. Necessary? Absolutely. The cheerleading squad at McKinney North High School needs a top-to-bottom shake up. The behavior of some of the cheerleaders is unacceptable. Hopefully, a new principal will be just the person to take on the task of flushing out the students who are giving the squad a bad reputation.
It is amazing how medicine has progressed, since receiving my R.N. license and entering the field of acute care nursing. As a child, I marveled that doctors and technicians on "Star Trek" could run a scanner across a body and do both non-invasive diagnosis and repair of injuries with use of such a device. Nothing surprises me now. Our research teams have accomplished amazing things.
Last week, working in gastro lab, we deployed a small pH capsule/transmitter into the distal esophagus of a male patient. Attaching the gel cap to the wall of his esophagus using suction, the capsule transmits information to a data recorder the size of a pager, which the client wears for 48 hours. The capsule then falls off the esophageal wall and passes through the body naturally. This is called the Bravo procedure and is used to measure pH of patients with severe GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
Radioactive seed implants are done for prostate cancer. Little umbrella-like devices are inserted into the superior vena cava, to prevent high risk patients of death from blood clots. Research on use of sono-guidance to determine whether a woman has a benign cyst or removable mass in her breast are coming along. Each advance encountered not only shortens time of hospitalization, but in many cases, the treatment is confined within a 4-6 hour window of time using a Day Surgery environment.
The rapidity with which some of these things now take place puts a greater burden on both the health care professional to provide necessary teaching, but also the client to be psychologically prepared for self care at home afterwards. These issues are especially important when the clientele is geriatric and living at home alone.
It is great to send people home two hours after a laparoscopic gallbladder surgery. Wonderful, to hand a man a syringe and teach him how to remove his own urinary catheter at home the next day. Comforting, to teach a woman how to empty her drains after she has had reconstructive breast surgery. But when they leave the hospital, the care is up to them. So in the fast-paced world of modern medicine, please do your own homework too. Jot down any questions you have for the surgeon or interventionalist. Make sure you have transportation and assistance readily available after an interface with the hospital. But most of all, follow physician instructions. It is about your health!
Tammy Swofford, R.N. BSN
Since September 11, 2001 one task engaged as a personal discipline has been analysis of hate-based movements, their leadership and the spokesmen who move the masses into play. Just as Daedalus built the labyrinth to house the Minotaur by engaging architectural deceit, in errorem variacum ambage viarum, remains an applicable statement when moving through the passageways of this underworld. I have been deploying Ariadne's thread for a long time now. It is not a pleasant journey. And the underbelly of hate speech should remain of concern to all decent people.
When it comes to hate-based movements, deceit is the name of the Minotaur. For this half-man is capable of showing enough humanity to lull the senses. Yet it is the half-beast, which requires a bloody sacrifice. The Minotaur is never satisfied, the feast never sufficient. So just as in the mythological story, more young must be sought, recruited and sent into the labyrinth of these volatile political movements to satiate a need for revenge. And as previously rational people move into shadowy passages housing Minotaurs of ideological deceit, their own path to self-destruction is secured.
Unfortunately, while hate speech is the intellectual property of these movements, these streams of thought erode the property lines of others. The innocent can suffer. But eventually, the one handling the poison is also affected. It is somewhat like the obtuse man who poisons the springs of water of his hated neighbor and continues to his home rejoicing. Only later does he realize that the same poison has flowed downstream to the tributary which feeds his own property line, but now, it is too late.
Just as Pasiphae had an unnatural carnal appetite which produced a bull-man, so the psychological mating of a hatemonger with his followers produces offspring such as the Minotaur; surly and unnatural offspring desirous for a meal of innocent human flesh.
Theseus arose with courage to bring an end to the yearly tribute afforded the Minotaur. Today, there remains a need for men and women of noble character to enter the labyrinth of hate-mongering leaders and silence their voices. It is interesting that Ariadne was of the bloodline of the Minotaur. And it is she, who provided the thread, a simple navigational tool, so that Theseus could complete his task.
On September 11, 2001 the Towers fell. There was scant smell of burning flesh as only mere scraps of humanity remained unconsumed by the flame. No thigh bones to hang on altars of tribute, such as those offered by Aegisthus for a conquest beyond his maddest hopes. Only bone shards remained. It was a day of sacrifice to a Minotaur of hate. Today, men of such caliber remain. May we never join their ranks. And may our children, never be their prey.
Modern Day Minotaurs:
"Look at me. Am I a savage person? My conscience is clear." Pol Pot
"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it,
people will eventually come to believe it." Joseph Goebbels
"I ate them before they ate me." Iddi Amin
"The ruling to kill the Americans- civilians and military - is an individual duty for
every Muslim. Sheikh Osama bin Ladin
"We are not angels. Nor are we the devils you have made us out to be." Slobodan Milosevic
"You can take the nigger out of the jungle but you can't take the jungle out of the nigger....
"You can not trust Jews." White Supremacist Hal Turner
MAY OUR CHILDREN, NEVER BE THEIR PREY.
Our oath that we give in the schools every morning requires liberty and justice for all. However, justice is not available to all who seek access to the courts. I admit that I believe that we have a problem with too many silly lawsuits in this state and I admit that these silly lawsuits cost millions of dollars a year in not only individual and business’ costs to defend themselves, but also demands large amounts of money to structure a court system that will handle the volume of cases. It has become apparent, however, that we are going the wrong direction in our vilification of attorneys.
I recently was asked to perform in a worker’s compensation panel discussion in Austin. That is when I realized we have gone the absolute wrong direction with the rights of individuals. A senator, Robert Duncan, made some kind of proposal and used his senatorial pressures to attempt to get the Texas Department of Insurance to speed up the process of certification of HMO networks for injured workers. That is a boring mess which need not be discussed here, but the rights of injured workers have been lost completely. Insurance companies regularly sue patients if the patient wins a dispute. Patients are usually indigent and are unable to afford an attorney for representation due to a lack of funds. Insurance companies have dozens of lawyers on staff. The patients, who are usually out of work and depressed, now get served with a lawsuit that they do not understand.
The above is an example of what tort reform has done to the little guy. While I realize that tort reform was very necessary to a certain extent, it must be kept in mind that the tort reformers are millionaire businessmen who do not like taking responsibility for things that did or did not happen. Frivolous lawsuits seldom, if ever, made it to the courthouse and the reformers knew it. certainly, to their credit, they acknowledged that aspect. However, a frivolous suit could cost $100,000 just to get dismissed. Now we have gone a different direction. It is almost impossible to find an attorney who will take a suit on contingency for most cases. The attorney must make a living and the victim is stuck holding the bucket for the actions of others. The “…and justice for all” part rings hollow to a person who has lost a relative to a drunken, doped physician who performs a surgical procedure that takes a human life. With a $250,000 cap on pain and suffering, the legislature has destroyed the elderly and poor and it did so with malice. As a Republican, this goes against our values yet our values change with campaign contributions. I admit that I thought Prop 12 in 2003 was a great idea. I admit that I was wrong as wrong could be. I believed that good government was behind Prop 12. Actually, insurance companies supported this vehicle to make more money. It has paid off in spades.
This brings me to a point. When anyone runs for office, if he/she take a contribution from the Texas Trial Lawyers Association it makes the candidate instant poison. If the other guy takes a contribution from the Texans for Lawsuit Reform, it makes that candidate instant good guy! However, when you consider that insurers are filing suits left and right against indigent patients, we must consider who, in our view, would be self-serving. Have we gone too far in legitimate attempts to limit frivolity in the courthouse? Interestingly enough, Sen. Duncan is a trial lawyer. Also of interest, the people who file against indigent, depressed injured workers are also trial lawyers. The only difference between these guys and the “Yellow Pages” lawyers is that they have a salaried job in which they work for businesses such as insurance companies. It is time to reflect upon our values in this upcoming holiday season, which is followed by another legislative session. We must reprogram our thinking to remember that a lawyer for an insurance company is still a lawyer. An attorney who works for big business has no greater interest in justice than the one working for the little guy that works a 40 hour a week job. Your legislature was elected to work in your best interest, but instead the members have taken obscene amounts of campaign money to dismantle the courtroom. It is interesting to note that it has taken 20 years or so to reach this point. You never lose your rights all at once, but rather you lose them one little piece at a time.
Jeff Cunningham, DC
Sulphur Springs, TX