Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I am appalled and embarrassed by Oklahoma's current immigration laws. I am reminded that we are all immigrants or their descendants. Some of us just came more "legally," whatever that means, and more recently than others.

Some individuals proudly hold themselves forth as descendants of the Mayflower's Pilgrims, illegal immigrants. They didn't apply to the Native American citizenry for admittance to this country. As the descendants of these Pilgrims and the immigrants who followed spread from the East to West coasts of this country, they didn't ask permission of its inhabitants to steal their land or destroy their food supplies.

We fought a war to steal Texas, New Mexico and California from Mexico and the Mexican people. Our Southern borders once belonged to the very people who we now deny admittance.

To say the least, Henry David Thoreau would have been quite vocal about Oklahoma's immigration policies. In opposition to the Mexican War (c. 1846-1848), Thoreau refused to pay his taxes and spent a night in jail. In his treatise,Civil Disobedience, he wrote, "Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them ...?" If the law "is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law." He went on to write, "Ours is the invading army ... If a thousand men were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood."

Likewise, I applaud the Catholic Charities' stance that Oklahoma's House Bill 1804 is "immoral."

I have Mexican family members. In my experience, the Mexican people are honest and hard-working. They are often devout Christians, and their families and children are cherished.

Likewise, I have many friends who are immigrants from countries such as Jordon, Morocco, Vietnam, Cambodia and Afghanistan. They bless my life with their heritages and customs.

Americans are a rich blend of immigrants. Our strength is founded in our diversity. Let us not forget from whence we came. Let us dare to live our lives with open arms to all of our brothers and sisters.


As we were concluding my recent eye examination, the optometrist cavalierly remarked that I had only the slightest beginnings of cataracts but, when I needed my cataract surgery, I could have XYZ adjustments to my replacement lenses.

I promptly remarked that I didn't plan on needing surgery until I was ninety-five and, since I was checking out of this hotel at ninety-seven, there was no point in bothering.

The optometrist lamely laughed and said, "Oh yeah, that's positive thinking." However, he persisted in referring to my future cataract surgery. Since I know he gets a kick-back from the surgeon he refers his patients to, I felt he was licking his chops in anticipation.

Well, I certainly do believe in the power of positive thought. It is a proven fact that our bodies hear everything we tell them and respond in kind, and I have no intention of having cataracts. How's that for positive thought.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


I once had a dentist with a big, new, fancy office with lots of gadgets. He hopped back and forth between patients, treating two, three or more simultaneously. I felt like an open mouth on a conveyor belt.

The dentist had an overhead television in each treatment room for patients to watch while he hopped. If I asked a question, he usually selected a program for me to watch about crowns, root canals or whatever.

I just wanted him to talk to me and feel we had connected on a personal level before he performed a procedure in my all too vulnerable mouth.

As I finished the visit, my bill certainly reflected the dentist's desire to quickly pay for his new building and machines.

I now see Dr. Duong, who practices in a simple, bare-bones office building. He has a gentle, kind manner and takes time with each of his patients. As we talk, I feel recognized as a human being and not just another mouth on an assembly line.

Dr. Duong is Vietnamese and came to the United States as a young boy. He was one of the boat people. His life has not been easy, but he has worked hard and lived frugally. He, his wife and two small children occupy a modest home next door to the clinic.

As I pay my bill, I feel grateful for the service Dr. Duong provides. I am also glad that I am not financing a bunch of new gadgets.


On my yearly visit to the optometrist, I noticed once again his offices had been redcorated and fancified. Since I had started with him in a bare, white-walled office in a strip mall, I realized he is making entirely too much money.

My visit began with his assistant trying to sell me an additional exam on a machine that made pretty pictures. Since I know my eyes have changed very little over the decades, I refused. As if I had committed a heinous crime, I had to sign a paper stating my refusal. I figured if he can't see my retina and optic nerve well enough with his ophthalmoscope, he needs to hang up his white coat and call it a day.

During the examination, he told me about his wife's spa, located next door, and all of the services it provided. On leaving his office, I felt as if I had visited a used-car lot.

More toys in medical offices don't improve health care. They just increase revenue. In the United States, we pay more for health care than do our European counterparts, without any significant improvement in health or longevity. Escalating medical costs in the U.S. have reached such epidemic proportions that many people are going abroad for their medical needs and, believe me, if I ever have a serious illness, I'll be country and health care shopping.

Give me a break. All I want is the bare-boned basics in health care. Give me the plain, white-walled offices without the bells and whistles. Then, I will feel more confident that my visit doesn't support the practitioner's decorator and spa.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Bush's swan song of greed, corruption and deceit was perfectly orchestrated to usher in a new era of governmental and corporate transparency and accountability.

The dirty laundry of Madoff and others is hanging for public display, and the grass roots of America are rightfully enraged.

Bankers have been caught with their hands in the till, gorging themselves with bonuses as businesses go under and homes are foreclosed.

AIG perpetrated insurance fraud and proved what many have long thought, "Insurance is organized crime." Rather than insuring a business protection from themselves, the neighborhood thugs, they insure against the next roll of life's dice. However, if that roll isn't to their liking, they stamp it, "CLAIM DENIED."

Meanwhile, the "Big Three" American automobile companies, in bed with the oil companies, have ignored global warming and continued to perpetuate our dependence on foreign oil as they built more big-butted trucks, SUVs and consumerism's biggest rolling box, the Hummer. Only after being amputated from the governmental tit by the Obama administration are they becoming "enlightened or die" to the beauty of smaller electric or hybrid vehicle.

In the aftermath of unregulated capitalism and our country viewing reruns of the "Great Depression," only now is our Congress and its constituency willing to implement the long-needed retooling of America. What a perfectly orchestrated setting for an intelligent, socially-conscious individual of integrity, like President Barack Obama, to take the helm and steer our nation's passage into new and uncharted waters.