Sunday, February 27, 2011

Obama has gone too far

The Constitution of the United States established three branches to our government to ensure that none of them could usurp too much power. The Judiciary Branch is the branch vested with the power to decide whether any law or executive act is unconstitutional. That is not a power granted to the Executive Branch – the president.

Then what in the heck is President Obama doing, and why is he getting away with it?

On Feb. 23, he announced that he had instructed Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., not to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act, that he was declaring it unconstitutional. The DOMA was signed into law in 1996 by President Clinton and denies federal recognition of same-sex marriages. Don’t get caught up in the politics of gay marriage and whether or not that should be legal. That’s a blog for another day.

Pay attention to what Obama is doing. He has picked and chosen a law that he believes to be unconstitutional, has declared it as such, and has instructed the Justice Department not to uphold it any longer.

That is not his right. That right belongs to the Judiciary Branch of our government.

Do you know what we call heads of government who unilaterally decide to ignore their established government foundations – especially those foundations that are rooted in democracy? What we call heads of government who unilaterally decide what laws to disregard, what laws to enforce, bypassing systems of checks and balances established to prevent that very thing happening?

We call them dictators.

What other law or laws do you suppose Obama will decide are unconstitutional? Term limits? The right to bear arms? The right to free speech? If he gets to pick and choose which laws are constitutional and which ones aren’t, then how are we supposed to feel secure in any of it?

Someone (besides this blogger) needs to stand up to him and say, “Mr. President, you’re out of line. You don’t have that right. Back off.”

Because what scares me is that if someone doesn’t do that soon, it may be too late.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Let 'em smoke outside in NYC - I'll move if I need to.

I can’t stand cigarette smoke. I don’t like to be around people when they’re smoking. I don’t like the way it clings to my clothes or my hair when I’ve been somewhere smoky. And I hate what it does to the human body – how it opens the door wide open for the big “C.”

With that said, though, I think New York City has gone too far. As spring melts into summer this year, smokers in NYC will no longer be allowed to smoke outside in public places. They won’t be able to smoke in parks, public plazas, or on beaches. According to a recent article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a citation for violating the new law will cost them $50.

A spokeswoman for the mayor’s office is quoted as saying, “There is a lot of public support for [the law].” Know how they figured that out? In a city the size of NYC – more than 8 million give or take a head or two – they called (on land lines) 1,002 residents and surveyed them on the topic. Of those surveyed, 65 percent supported a smoking ban such as the one that’s been signed into law. Go ahead, do the math with me. That means 650 people in New York City are in favor of this law.

Now, I know that if they had managed to survey every single person in the city, there would be many more than 650 people in favor of it. I get that. But did they really try and get a true sample of residents’ opinions?

The article goes on to say that the city has tried to curtail smoking by raising taxes on cigarettes to the point that a pack goes for at least $11. I don’t have a problem with that. As I mentioned, I hate cigarettes and their nasty byproduct (smoke). They kill you. Period. If you want to commit suicide slowly by smoking, then it doesn’t bother me if you have to pay $11 per pack to do it. Maybe, at that price, people might actually think twice before buying them and choose not to. That would be wonderful (for them and for those who love them and would like to have more time here on Earth with them).

But I digress a little. I have a problem with the government forbidding this act in public. Proponents of the law say that smoking isn’t a fundamental right and that the laws are enacted for the good of our public health, which the government is obligated to protect. But I’m not certain I need – or want – the government trying this hard to “protect” me. If I’m outside at a park or on a beach and someone lights up too close to me, guess what I do. I move. Wow, that’s hard. I don’t need the government babysitting me this much.

And here’s the really scary part of this. In 2007, Belmont, California, passed a law forbidding smoking in apartments and condominiums – in people’s homes. Since that law passed, many other California cities passed similar laws. According to CBS News, a law will soon be passed in Minneapolis that prohibits smoking in public places – even your own car.

Now, doesn’t that scare you a little? Smoking fan or foe, do you want the government’s fingers reaching that far into your private little corner of the world?

I don’t.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

RIP Dear Coach and Friend

On Thursday, I received an email from an old friend who had been fighting cancer (melanoma). I was on his prayer list and got status updates from him as he sent them out to keep us all posted on his treatment and recovery. Thursday’s update explained a recent emergency room visit he’d had to make but reassured us that he was home, and that Hospice was there only to help with his recovery. “Certainly do not look at this as a here today, gone tomorrow situation,” he wrote to us.

Saturday, two days later, he was gone.

Mike put up an inspirational fight. In all of the emails he sent out, he was positive and upbeat, regardless of the chemo he was enduring and the way it made him feel physically. He and his family shared this incredible faith and belief in the goodness of God, in His immeasurable wisdom, and they never seemed to worry. They amazed me through all of this.

When Donna, Mike’s wife, sent out the email telling us that Mike had passed away, she put in the subject line, “New bass in God’s choir of saints.” I know that heaven’s doors swung open wide for Mike, and I love picturing him singing in a heavenly choir because I can only imagine how happy he is there.

I’m writing this blog for two reasons. First of all, Mike was a friend. He was my high school volleyball coach, and he became a colleague and friend when I began teaching at my alma mater. I have known him and Donna for so many years, and he will be missed by many.

Secondly, Mike’s death brought home to me (again) how quickly our lives can end. I knew he was sick, but after Thursday’s email, I never expected to hear news of his passing this weekend. We need to remember that each day is a gift and to treat them as such. We hope for tomorrow, but we don’t always get it.

And finally, I wrote this blog also because of Mike’s life. He and Donna lived their faith. Their belief in God was evident in the grace with which they battled Mike’s cancer. They knew they could handle anything because they weren’t handling it alone – God was with them.

They have been reminders to me that God is with all of us, and I, for one, am so grateful to have Him in my life. I pray that as you read this, He is with you too.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine's Day - to spend or not to spend?

“How much are you going to spend to show your love this Valentine’s Day?” was the opening line of a story on the local news last night. I rewound the DVR to make sure I’d heard that right, and yep, that’s what she said. “How much are you going to spend to show your love?”

Hmmmm…..Really? That’s how we show our love? We spend? The news story went on to say that Americans as a whole spend $15 billion – yes, that’s right, billion with a “B”- on Valentine’s Day. The biggest chunk of that pile of Benjamins is spent on jewelry to the tune of $3.5 billion, with dining out running a close second at $3.4 billion. Flowers cost us $1.7 billion. It makes me wonder, how is the remaining $6.4 billion spent?

I admit to liking Valentine’s Day. My husband, in the past, has given me both flowers and jewelry, and I enjoyed receiving those gifts. Money is a little tight right now, but we are going to try and have dinner together out somewhere this Monday.

Do I doubt Terry’s love if I don’t receive flowers or jewelry on Valentine’s Day? Do I feel unloved if we don’t celebrate the day somehow together? Of course I don’t. Terry shows his love for me every day in so many ways – in his sense of humor, his patience, his consideration, his affection for Tori.

I got really irritated by that news story last night, and I think those ill feelings were the result of the way the anchor led us into the story, that whole “spend to show your love” comment. I thought – at first – how horrible that made us Americans sound. We spend billions to “show our love.”

Then I felt guilty after I got irritated because I’ve been the beneficiary of Valentine’s Day and enjoyed my gifts. Did that make me an Ugly American?


Many of us are so busy that we don’t pay as much attention to our husbands, wives, significant others, as we should. Sometimes we let too much time go between the last time we said, “I love you,” and the next time we said those three important little words. Sometimes we don’t show the gratitude to our partners that we should for everything they bring to our lives. I think Valentine’s Day reminds us to do that. And, hopefully, it reminds us that we should try harder to keep those “Valentine’s Day” feelings alive and well throughout the year.

There’s nothing ugly about that at all.

The last figure that the news story presented was that the average American spends $116 on Valentine’s Day. If you divide $15 billion by $116, the number you get is approximately 129,310,345. There are about 300,000,000 people in our country, so that means that almost half of us are buying presents, and, hopefully, about half of us are then receiving those presents. Doesn’t this mean then that almost all of us are taking part in saying, “I love you,” to someone who probably ought to be hearing it? If those good feelings can carry over into the rest of the year for so many of us, then I am firmly in Cupid’s corner.

Tell the people you love how you feel about them on Monday. Then do it again on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, … well, you get the idea.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Illegal immigrants are breaking the law

Immigration laws are touchy subjects, I know, but I saw an article in Sunday’s South Bend Tribune about one being proposed for Indiana, so I decided to blog about it. Hopefully, there will be some discussions as a result.

According to the article, Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, introduced Senate Bill 590, which bears a close resemblance to one passed in Arizona. For example, if someone is thought to have violated a law or ordinance and is apprehended (or stopped) by a police officer, and if then that police officer has probable cause to believe the person is an illegal immigrant, then the suspect would be required to produce proof of citizenship.

Those against the bill cry foul and say this is “racial profiling.” Delph counters that by saying the bill expressly forbids racially profiling.

The bill also would require the state to send an expense report to the federal government requesting reimbursement for illegal immigration costs to the state, it would prohibit state and local governments from corresponding in any language other than English, and it would increase penalties against businesses that employ illegal immigrants.

Some complaints that have arisen in opposition to the bill say that anyone not carrying proper papers could be in danger of being arrested under this bill. Some say that other more pressing types of crimes – such as robbery or domestic violence – could be ignored or at least may receive a delayed reaction because officers are trying to sort out one of these cases. Others complain that it is asking state and local law enforcement to enforce federal law.

Here are my thoughts:

First, regarding the proper papers, if you’re a legal citizen, it’s not difficult to get – at the bare minimum – an identification card. Most of us, I would bet, have driver’s licenses that you can’t get without proof of citizenship. What’s so wrong with asking those of us who are rightful, legal citizens to carry something around that proves we are? I know some might argue this is too “Big Brother-ish,” requiring us to “register.” But I already am registered by virtue of my license, and I don’t lose sleep over it. And here’s my other thought on this aspect of it. Have you ever traveled outside our country? I have. When you do, you are advised to carry on your person at all times proof of your citizenship (of your home country) as well as a legal document proving when you came into their country and when you are leaving (not to mention why you’re there in the first place).

My next thought has to do with the employers and the enforcement of the existing law. Somebody needs to start policing the laws already in existence making it illegal to employ people who have entered the country illegally. If we don’t crack down on the employers who give these people a paycheck every week, it’s never going to stop. It’s cheap labor – some may even say slave labor – and those employers who make a habit of employing illegal immigrants are not going to stop until they start suffering damages from it. If that means state and local governments have to help the federal government do its job, so be it.

In my positions as both a teacher and a news reporter, I have met and even come to know people who have come to our country illegally. I’ve been fond of many students in the past in that situation. On a personal level like that, it’s hard to think about denying them the same opportunities my daughter has. In my travels to Mexico, I’ve ridden through some of the “real” sections of the tourist towns. I’ve seen the shacks some of them live in. I’ve watched them carry bottles of water to their homes because the tap water in their homes isn’t safe for consumption. I understand the allure of America.

But I still have to insist, if you’re going to come here, please, do it legally.

There’s a contestant on American Idol this season - Melinda Ademi – who came here from Kosovo with her family. War raged in her country, and her parents feared for their lives. But they waited. They applied for green cards and finally won those green cards in a lottery. Their lives were literally at stake and they still did it right.

That’s all I’m asking. Why do some people make it sound like it’s so wrong to ask that those who come do it legally?

There are laws in this great country of ours that we all have to live by because we are citizens of this country. That’s where I get caught up – illegal immigrants want the benefits of citizenship but they start off their pursuit by breaking the law.

I empathize, I even sympathize with many of them. But that doesn’t change the fact that the law is the law. I was born here and I have to obey the laws. Shouldn’t everyone?