Dec 31 2011

Conservative Bloggers Call First Lady ‘Fat Cakes Michelle,’ Criticize Her Fashion Choices

Ever on the hunt for something disparaging to say about the first family, conservative bloggers have criticized President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for various aspects of their 17-day vacation in Hawaii–including the first lady’s fashion choices.

“While Obama sits back in DC making sure Congress passes the payroll tax holiday bill, Michelle Obama and her kids decided to begin their ultra-expensive, ultra-lavish, tax payer funded 17 day Hawaii vacation. Fat Cakes Michelle just couldn’t wait another day or two for business to wrap up in DC.,” according to the right-wing website “fireandreamitchell.”

In addition to criticism of the timing, destination and cost, Michelle Obama is also taking heat for a dress she wore to Christmas day church services at the Kaneohe Bay Marine Base.

According to ABC News, Mrs. Obama was photographed in a striped white sundress by French-born, U.S.-based designer Sophie Theallet, with an estimated price tag of $2,000.

“Some see the first lady’s penchant for expensive labels at odds with her reputation as a bargain shopper who frequents J. Crew and Target,” ABC News reported.

One comment about the First Lady on the Naked DC website read: “She claims to be a champion of the poor and a fellow bargain shopper, but yet, here she is, sporting a dress that no unemployed American can afford.”

Of course, it wasn’t reported that Mrs. Obama wore that same dress to an official ceremony in Accra, Ghana back in July 2009, and wore it again that same year during the family’s vacation on Martha’s Vineyard.

The first lady appears to not only have a good eye for fashion, she’s also not averse to wearing and being  photographed several times in the same outfit.

I give her mad props for providing a great example of how to stretch a dollar–well, two thousand of them, that is.

by Kathleen Cross for rollingout.com


Dec 28 2010

Mike Vick and I Have Something in Common

First things first, let me confess that as it relates to discussing Michael Vick’s crimes against animals I cannot be considered unbiased. I have an 8-year-old pit bull who has been with our family since he was two months old and the thought of Baloo, or any other dog, being tossed in a fighting ring to win or die trying is beyond disgusting–it is just plain evil.

Having said that, let me also confess that I am an avid fisher-woman. There are few activities that bring me more peace of mind, excitement or satisfaction than sitting on a boat from sunup to sundown casting my bait and fighting those fish who are desperately trying not to end up on my plate. The bumpersticker “I’d rather be fishing” was created with me in mind.

There are some members of PETA who will call that just plain evil.

Now, if you think I’m equating dog fighting with fishing, I’m not. I don’t think they’re the same–not even close. Dog fighting is about violence, ego and money. Fishing is about… Um, well, hmm… many people do fish for food.

:-/

No, for real. The creator obviously intended for fish to be eaten by other animals. Am I not one of many predators who kill fish for food? (And, I bet grizzly bear claws  cause the fish a whole lot more suffering than my little hook.) Besides, I never catch more fish than I will feed to my family, and I do not catch and release. Once I’ve caught enough fish to eat (or to give away to friends or family who will eat it) I quit fishing. Just between us, when I’m impaling a worm or bait fish on my hook I apologize to it, and once I’ve landed a fish and got it into the boat, someone else has to kill it for me because I can’t bring myself to do it. (I have no problem, however, rolling it in some cornmeal and frying it up afterwards).

All of that “justifying” my violence against fish is the result of a little voice in my head that doesn’t want to feel bad about making the fish suffer–it’s called “empathy.”

EMPATHY : “Understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another.”

Most humans have empathy for other humans, and many have it for animals, but empathy is an easy thing to lose when you are desensitized to violence from a very young age. I can remember being taken fishing when I was a small child and refusing to participate because to me it looked like they were torturing defenseless creatures. Over the years, the more I witnessed the adults around me doing it, and the more I saw the benefits of catching fish, the more desensitized I became–until I eventually grew to love the sport myself.

I will never understand how a person could get pleasure from electrocuting an animal or how they could throw their family dog into the fighting ring and laugh as their pet suffers (which Vick reportedly did), but I can understand how over years of being exposed to that kind of violence, your empathy voice might get silenced until you just don’t hear it anymore. It appears that after years of exposure to violence against dogs being perpetrated by people Mike loved and admired,  he not only shut the voice off, he developed an appetite for the violence himself.

Michael Vick is now an ex-convict who served time for torturing dogs, and he is using his experience to prevent other young people from going down that same violent road.

God sent me to the bottom. And I’m a firm believer in karma, and I think it happened because of what I did and what I allowed to happen to those animals, so I was stripped of everything, stripped me down to the bone of everything and, you know, I think I took for granted the position that I was in in my life, all the blessings that I had, and that wasn’t my purpose in life to be doing what I was doing and it was wrong,” -Michael Vick

There are thousands of little boys out there right now who have been taught that dog fighting is a sport. They have never had a high profile “role model” tell them otherwise. Now they do.

Unless you’ve been hiding from television and Internet news for the last 24 hours, you have probably heard that President Obama recently called the Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, and praised him for giving Michael Vick a chance to revive the career he lost when he was thrown in jail for operating a dog-fighting ring. Obama said the Eagles giving Michael Vick a second chance was important for society.

I agree.

Obama’s  message gives hope to ex-convicts who want to work and become productive members of society, and it also uplifts a high profile spokesperson against cruelty to animals to whom kids will pay attention.

I believe thousands fewer dogs will suffer as a result of what Michael Vick is now doing. How could that be bad?

By the way, I really would appreciate
any arguments you all have
for or against fishing.
After writing this piece,
I think I’m on the fence.


Dec 15 2010

The Sexiest Teacher Alive: Don’t Let the Clark Kent Steez Fool You

I mean no disrespect to Geoffrey Canada’s wife, but her husband is my idea of what a real man looks like.

Okay, okay, before I get myself in too much trouble, let me clarify that in using the term “sexy” to describe this married  father of six, I am respectfully referring to the non-erotic definition: “arousing intense excitement.”

Just so you know, I’m not the only person in the world admitting to being intensely excited by the man. Geoffrey has aroused the ardor of a diverse body of media personalities including David Letterman,  Ed Bradley, Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper, Oprah Winfrey and Glenn Beck.  When Oprah first laid eyes on him she flung her arms wide for a hug and gushed, “I just want to kiss you.” (I’m feeling you, O.)

The President of the United States called Canada “a pioneer…saving a generation of children.”  First lady Michelle Obama referred lovingly to him as “one of my heroes,” and an award-winning documentary about him entitled “Waiting for Superman” (yes, that is a reference to Geoffrey) was released this fall to critical acclaim.

If you’re not up on what this man does for a living, I’m going to have to let you Google that, because as ambitious and awe-inspiring as it is, I am on a more personal mission here.  Here’s the short version of why he’s garnered so much attention:

Geoffrey Canada’s Harlem Children’s Zone is transforming a 97-block area into a community of stakeholders whose primary focus is educating the program’s 8,000+ (mostly poor) children to such high levels that 100% of them will graduate from college. (Yes, you read that right.)

What Mr. Canada does is undoubtedly worthy of great respect and praise, but why he does it should also be the subject of a documentary as far as I’m concerned.  What motivates a man with a Master’s Degree from Harvard to invest it in Harlem? We can easily observe that  he shows incredible passion and tenacity in pursuing quality education for all, but what exists deep down in the man that leads him to devote his life to saving other people’s children?

Geoffrey says the calling to serve his community rang in his ears at a very young age–on one of the saddest days of his life.

“…my mother told me Superman did not exist.”

He cried.

“I read comic books and just loved them because even in the depths of the ghetto you thought, ‘He’s coming, I just don’t know when, because he always shows up and he saves all the good people’.”

Geoffrey’s mother thought he was crying for the same reason a child mourns upon learning that Santa Claus is not real, but even at such a young age, he knew his loss of Superman had devastating  implications.

“I was crying because there was no one coming with enough power to save us.”

Some fifty years later, while most of us stand around arguing about whether it is poor leadership, ill-prepared teachers, uninvolved parents, disinterested students, or a multitude of other excuses for why millions of children are being academically shortchanged, this man chooses to focus instead on high expectations and successful solutions.

The urgency he feels about educating children is reflected in this excerpt from a poem entitled “Don’t Blame Me,” written by Canada in 2007.

If there is a God or a person supreme,
A final reckoning, for the kind and the mean,
And judgment is rendered on who passed the buck,
Who blamed the victim or proudly stood up,
You’ll say to the world, “While I couldn’t save all,
I did not let these children fall.
By the thousands I helped all I could see.
No excuses, I took full responsibility.
No matter if they were black or white,
Were cursed, ignored, were wrong or right,
Were shunned, pre-judged, were short or tall,
I did my best to save them all.”
And I will bear witness for eternity
That you can state proudly,
“Don’t blame me.”

I love this super man.