Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Barbour Embarasses Mississippi

Today our esteemed Governor wrote an op ed piece in the Washington Post in support of Toyota - and then went on CNN to do the same thing. Haley seems to have forgotten that he is a Governor now - not a lobbyist for big corporations. I know, I know. We have lots of jobs in Mississippi dependent on Toyota. But Haley seems to have also forgotten that people were killed due to Toyota's greed and negligence. Toyota's arrogant behavior was wide spread and reprehensible - and Haley looked to be defending that behavior.

And then he makes matters worse by making it look like the Department of Transportation was just picking on poor little Toyota in order to increase the market share of GM, of which US taxpayers now own a large chunk.
"That's why I hope Congress will resist the temptation to attack Toyota simply to advance the interests of its American competitors." -- Haley Barbour
Let's remind Haley that not everyone has his sick, paranoid mind. Other members of Congress, of both parties, were furious with Toyota. They were certainly not thinking of GM stock - they were concerned for the dead and injured Americans that were Toyota's victims - some of whom testified today.

And let's also remind Haley that the Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, who was almost apoplectic over Toyota's behavior, is a Republican.

Haley, Congress is trying to increase accountability and resources to monitor and regulate all car companies - not just Toyota -  in order to protect American and to prevent this from occuring again . You, on the other hand, were only concerned with money.

You shamed us, Haley. Mississippians are not like that.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Rubin turned seven years old a few days before he and I flew to Los Angeles to visit Rachel. She and I had talked briefly about him staying on with her when I returned home. I think neither of us knew how that decision would turn. She knew I would miss him; she would have to make arrangements for his day care. On the other hand she is the alpha female in his life. I've been his bud for a while now so of course he cares for me but the minute he sees Rachel it becomes obvious that she is the love of his life.

A few years ago, while Rachel was still living in Natchez, Rubin became critically ill with Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA). I was running for city council and the afternoon of the political candidates forum Rachel became aware of his illness. She noticed he had hematuria while walking him. I was busy getting ready for the forum when she raced back to the house and said she had to get him to the Vet, that he had blood in his urine, and they were off. I had my mind on the forum and wasn't alarmed; thank goodness she was!

That night he was up and down, restless and uncomfortable. Later it was clear that he wasn't getting enough oxygen. The next morning we returned with him to the Vet and he kept him, gave him a blood transfusion. We still had no diagnosis. That afternoon we visited the clinic and determined he needed to get to LSU School of Vet Medicine. We finally convinced the Vet to make the arrangements for transfer after I suggested he type and cross match him and order in blood for another transfusion. Impossible! The Vet made arrangements for transfer.

We drove to Baton Rouge that evening in heavy rain and presented Rubin to the clinic staff. They immediately diagnosed him with IMHA and told us the prognosis was extremely poor. We left him with heavy hearts and lots of tears.

For an entire month Rachel and I left Natchez every morning to see Rubin. After most of those visits we left anguished and fearful of the call we didn't want to receive. He was so sick and weak he couldn't lift his head to greet us. He wouldn't eat, not even the tasty wet food. We brought his favorite "babies", a familiar blanket. He had an IV but they kindly moved him into a room so we could be close to him. Rubin needed our love and encouragement and the will to survive.

Back home we researched the disease. We know about IMHA. Rachel joined an online support group, which provided answers and solutions, stories of success and loss. Fortunately, we were able to provide for Rubin every possible treatment available: numerous blood transfusions, Immunoglobulin, cancer drugs.

He eventually started eating and was strong enough to take short walks in the grassy area in front of the hospital. We sat with him on a blanket in the sun enjoying his wet kisses. He was eating; he was better. His blood levels were improved. We took him home and after a week he relapsed so it was back to ICU.

With a change in staff rotations, good fortune brought us a tiny young girl in a white coat who happened to be very, very good at being a doctor. Dr. Ashley Martin, formerly a resident at Tufts in Boston, was now back at LSU for her fellowship in Internal Medicine. We were committed to his survival regardless of the odds. Dr. Martin hung in there with us, cried with us, and gave us hope...within reason. Finally, after lots of ups and downs, erratic blood counts, we'd exhausted all known possibilities, except one. They removed his spleen, that organ which was manufacturing those overly-industrious white blood cells hell-bent on consuming his oxygen-carrying red blood cells. His spleen was huge, she said after surgery, and he would eventually loose his "Buddha Belly"...which he did. Rubin is one of the lucky few to survive IMHA. We've been home free for almost two years now and Rubin no longer shows any signs of illness.

I've had Rubin with me for the past six months while Rachel transitioned to a new apartment in L.A. and the consensus among her roommates was that Rubin should return to live with her. He was free to go now that his newly fenced yard in Natchez was tested, tried and true; I needed confirmation that all that construction trauma was worth the effort, among other considerations. On the day of my return the decision was made. He stayed and I flew home, alone.

Once in my car I found myself turning to the seat beside me. Empty! I had the compulsion to look before closing the car door to make sure he was safely inside the car. When I arrived home it was worse. As I unpacked I thought I heard his little feet padding toward my room. I got up the next morning feeling his absence with great sadness and a few tears. Who is this creature so engrained in our hearts?

Rubin is very unusual in the world of canines. (Nothing subjective here.) He's compassionate, kind and he's sensitive. Being keenly perceptive he knows when he's not well-received among a few two-legged types. He barks, knowingly, at some of my friends who've teasingly hasseled him. He doesn't forget those previous slights.

His eyes speak for him with a look reflective of his attitude and mood. And, yes, he actually tries to talk to us using tonal inflections, varying according to his state of mind and requests. When he was a baby I felt badly for him because I knew he actually thought he could talk to us. He often intoned his wishes seeming to expect a response in like manner. We could sense his frustration and as he grew older those prolonged exhortations diminished. He finally learned there was, indeed, a language barrier.

He's happy with Rachel. He now goes to daycare while she's at work and he's adjusting nicely to life in L.A. I, too, am adjusting to his absence...sort of. I no longer hear his barking in anticipation of my arrival as I approach the house. He's not here to let me know that cars are lining up outside for church services. I now walk to the river without stopping at every blade of grass, twig, light pole, fire hydrant. I miss him!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Why Is Being Elite Bad?

Elite used to be a compliment. It basically referred to the best of anything. For example, Drew Brees is now considered one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. However, nowadays that might be considered an insult instead of a compliment - at least in political circles. The worst insult you can hurl at a politician is to call him or her a member of the "Washington elite". What??? It's an insult to be called one of the best? Count me as someone who doesn't get it.

Why do we no longer want the best? We talk about how education is the answer to practically everything - and then we turn around and bash our most educated citizens. Elite conservative columnist David Brooks, who writes for the elite New York Times, recently discussed the bias against the educated members of our society. 
"Every single idea associated with the educated class has grown more unpopular. . . The educated class believes in global warming, so public skepticism about global warming is on the rise. The educated class supports abortion rights, so public opinion is shifting against them. The educated class supports gun control, so opposition to gun control is mounting. . . The educated class is internationalist, so isolationist sentiment is now at an all-time high. . . The educated class believes in multilateral action, so the number of Americans who believe we should “go our own way” has risen sharply."
Why is this happening? Why do we not want our leaders to be educated and the best? This is a very dangerous trend. Think what could happen if our governmental leadership is mediocre and uneducated. Do we really want a average somebody with a high school education testing drugs for safety, constructing bridges on our interstate highways, leading our troops into battle, deciding when to use nuclear weapons, etc.?

We don't have this attitude in decisions we make for ourselves and our families. We want the very best doctors for our loved ones, educated teachers for our children, trained electricians to work on our houses, etc. Why do we want mediocre, uneducated people running our country? I can assure you that no other major country is like that. How can America remain the leader of the world if we're the only one with undereducated leaders? The answer of course is that we won't.

Stand up and demand that our elected officials be elite.