Monday, April 26, 2010

And the winner is: Barack Obama Cat Jordan

Resting comfortably in the pictures from top to bottom are: Barack Obama Cat Jordan, Punkin Cat Jordan, and Ditto Cat Jordan.

I originally wrote this column in November 2008, when all the relevant facts were brand new. In the ensuing year and a half, we've had so much fun being a three-cat family again, after several years of being owned by only one, then two fur-babies, that I decided it was a good idea to update the details and introduce a growing circle of internet friends to our resident "fur-politician" and his "cabinet." Here's the story of how our current felines joined the family:

On Tuesday, November 4, 2008, a momentous election was held, and the winner, who is both black and white, is named Obama. I’m not talking about the historic election that swept the first biracial person into the highest office in the land. I’m talking about the informal straw poll that was taken in our backyard. The victor in that contest was a beautiful black-and-white tuxedo cat officially dubbed Barack Obama, in honor of the nation’s president-elect (at that moment).

The oldest member of our brood joined us in spring 2006. Six weeks after our beloved 15-year-old, Ray Lee, passed into the next plane, we went to the local shelter and connected with a huge long-haired black cat named Ditto, who proceeded to relish in the joy of an only cat for most of that year. Ditto was so spoiled that when we gave dinner to strays on the veranda--actually bowls of cat food on the concrete outside our back door--Ditto was not amused.

Sometime during the winter of 2006-7, a lively orange cat became a regular at the al fresco table. A cursory equipment check and a scrawny physique (the result of malnutrition) led us to believe the visitor was a girl. A vet later disabused us of that notion, and "she" underwent a psychological gender reassignment, becoming an official "he."

Despite Ditto’s objections, by summer 2007 we named the new cat Punkin and encouraged him to come inside often for respite from the desert sun, hiding him carefully when we could so he'd be safe from Ditto's wrath. When we left Arizona City for Casa Grande, Punkin made it clear that he had to come too, and he became a full-time member of the family from that evening on. For the next year, these two continued to "discuss" territorial issues in our new house, often with far more drama than necessary.

With their own version of homeland security, Ditto and Punkin chased away any animal that intruded into their new backyard. The most frequent scofflaws were a dark-gray cat that is almost Ditto’s size and the little tuxedo cat, who was not much more than a kitten in those days. The day before the 2008 presidential election, a neighbor asked us if the tuxedo was ours after he’d sneaked into their house, in spite of their dogs. At that time, I found him to be a featherweight. But we were sure our cats still wouldn’t accept him, so he was released with instructions to go home, wherever that was.

On Tuesday, November 4, 2008, Jim went to bed around 9:30 p.m. knowing the nation would soon have a leader with a Harvard law degree, but a small cry in the backyard led him to come out and lead me to the back door. When we opened it, this scrawny black-and-white cat sauntered in--smiling as broadly as a kitty can and followed by our two furry bouncers. Despite the fact that Ditto and Punkin can barely stand to be near each other, together they happily informed us that this new cat could stay.

So, it was official. Barack Obama received 100% of our popular and electoral votes. Our home is his domain, and we are his lackeys. If I open a can of cat food, our resident-elect is all ready to dig into the biggest bowl.

After a month of enjoying a regular diet and plenty of warm places to sleep, Obama had gained over two pounds--one-third of his previous body weight. His "gentleman’s equipment" (as Craig Ferguson is wont to say) is history, so there’ll be no little Baracks, but with good care and plenty of love, he has nothing to complain about.

Like his namesake, our Obama has brought peace and hope to warring factions. Despite their earlier animosity, Ditto and Punkin now tolerate each other--most of the time--and they’re absolutely gaga over their new little brother. Both of them will rub noses with him and even allow him to sniff their tails on occasion.

Obama brings vitality to the corps. When he says it’s time to play, somebody must join in the game. He loves string, and if nothing else, he can get a rise out of Punkin by taking a running leap over his brother’s orange head.

Like his brothers, Obama is extremely affectionate with mom and dad, and he quickly learned to relax and enjoy plenty of nap time, just like the other two. So, after several years of being a one- or two-cat household, we’re officially owned by three cats again. It's been over a decade since we’ve had that many cats. We can't imagine life without them. One or two should be enough, but somehow, they multiply--though they've all been "fixed." I don't know how, but it keeps happening that way.

And here’s a treat: Our cats are now on video. They’re the stars of the top three videos you’ll find listed on my YouTube page at:

On Inauguration Day, all three fur-babies joined me to watch the human Barack Obama and Joe Biden take the helm and bring calm and vitality to our ailing nation. And since that day, we've all kept a close eye on their progress, to make sure everything continues to go as well as it can, considering the opposition that has been pitted against them.

Just as important, we know the rest of us have work to do as well. That’s the lesson we hope Americans finally understand. We can’t just depend on our elected officials to do everything for us, nor can we allow anyone to push legislation that serves small groups of people and harms the many. We must take responsibility ourselves, for ourselves and everyone else. It’s time to get on with it. There’s work to be done. That's why I'm writing this Peace Blog, my books, and everything else. We are the people; we are the government; we are members of society, of the human race, and that carries with it a responsibility--whether we like it or not. We have to start caring not just for ourselves and possibly just our closest kin and friends, but for everybody. That's how a world should work. That's how the world will work!

SAD UPDATE: On a hot day in August of 2011, Ditto developed a serious respiratory infection. Barely hours later, he died in the loving arms of his favorite ‘kitty-pediatrician.’

Comforted by the fact that his suffering was brief, we cherish the idea that if there is a heaven, Ditto will among the many feline-children whose love we,ve enjoyed over many decades. He’ll be the huge black kitty resting quietly in his favorite hidey-hole, waiting for chin bumps and several long minutes of comfy lap snuggles.

WEB EMAIL STILL INACTIVE: One issue still on my To-Do list is to bring my website email back to life. Now that we're nearing the end of our long Spring agenda, I should be able to tackle the issue by early June. When that miracle occurs, I will definitely post the Good News here. More reason to keep in touch. Hope and Love to all!

The World I Imagine: A creative manual for ending poverty and building peace and my historical mystery novel, Lion’s Pride, are available through your local bookstore. They are featured at, Barnes & Noble, and most online bookstores around the world. Both are available for Kindle readers.

COMMENTS: The purpose of this blog is to share positive ideas for making changes that will help everyone, not just a narrow group of people. I’d love to hear more ideas for imprinting positive effects over a wide range of areas in our society.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Welcome to the Arizona Gestapo

As I begin this post, my TV is tuned to CNN so I can watch Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signing SB 1070 into law, giving law enforcement agents in the state the power to arrest anyone they suspect to be in the country illegally. Supporters say the law is necessary because of the violence of the Mexican cartels that is spilling over into our state. But one terrible reality is that this is going to make it easier for criminals to prey on otherwise law-abiding people whose only crime is that they don't have a green card. And because of the possibility of undue harassment, it will make a lot more people, especially Latinos, hesitate even more than in the past before they report a crime that's been committed against them.

When a Latino woman is raped, she's going to be even more afraid to report the crime now than she was before this law goes into effect. Even minor crimes are going to increase in immigrant communities, while any semblance of law enforcement will virtually disappear, because so many people will be afraid to report it to the authorities, if not for themselves, then at least for their friends and neighbors.

In fact, I know personally of at least one person, and possibly more, who work in a public service agency and have taken financial advantage of Latino clients, including a couple of friends of mine. Even though one of the victims I know is a citizen, born in Casa Grande (yes, we're part of the United States, albeit a mere 60 miles from the border!), the other is a legal immigrant who was raised in California and Arizona and has been married to a citizen for more than a decade. They're perfectly legal residents, yet they're still afraid to speak up for themselves, despite the fact that they know for sure that others like them have also been taken advantage of--all of them for several thousand dollars apiece, and all of them Hispanic, with at least one non-citizen in each family!

And remember, all this criminal activity committed against Latino victims took place a couple of years before SB 1070. This new law is just going to add a new layer of fear to all the residents of minority communities, even among people who are citizens or at least are in this country legally. Another effect will probably be a diaspora of workers out of Arizona, again, not all of whom are in this country illegally. In fact, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico warned Brewer against signing the bill, in part because of the number of people who would flee her state and settle in his, just east of Arizona.

And if Arizonans think that's a good thing, they should look at the example of Prince William County, Virginia, which for a couple of months in 2007 had a similarly tough law to fight their "illegal problem." When all the Hispanics left the county as a result, the economic impact was immediate and widespread. That's why the law lasted only two months, taking an edge off the economic brunt of the legal battle that is also being threatened by activists here in Arizona.

It's interesting to note one more factor that's received bare mention during the runup to this bill becoming law: Anti-immigration laws are generally being passed and signed by members of the party that has vehemently opposed national legislation that would solve the immigration problem, illegal and otherwise. Republicans aren't willing to admit that the upper class that is their mainstay is the same class that makes illegal immigration possible and gets the most economic benefit from the practice. And as experiences in Prince William County and elsewhere demonstrate, the overall economic impact of immigrants, whether legal or otherwise, benefits everyone. Running all the Latinos out of town--or in the case of SB 1070, out of the state--is counterproductive to improving the economy during a severe recession.

And since one more argument for SB 1070 has been that state officials don't believe federal authorities are doing a good enough job harassing the Hispanic population, consider one more experience related to me by a couple of my Latino friends: The man was born in Mexico but raised in the states, his wife is a natural-born citizen whose parents were born in Mexico, and like their mother, both their children were born here in Arizona. The wife and kids all had their passports, and she had her Arizona commercial driver license, while the man had his Arizona commercial driver license, his green card, and a legally obtained visa for their trip to Mexico to visit his parents for several weeks.

On the way back to their home in Arizona, they were stopped by the Border Patrol and questioned. In spite of all the documentation that proved their legal status, they were held for over two hours and threats were made that they might not be able to stay together as a family. The wife told me later that she feared they could at least deport her husband and possibly even take away her children as well. In the end, the family were allowed to continue on their way, very much the worse for their experience!

If the immigrant-haters don't believe members of the Border Patrol are doing their job of harassing legal residents who "look like" "illegal" immigrants, they should take this story to heart. Instead, the state will have to cut even more money from "unnecessary" services like education and health care for poor children, because it's going to cost them a packet of money defending this immoral law in the federal courts!

Meanwhile, laws like SB 1070 just inspire me to keep writing about why we need to find win-win-win solutions to the situations that lead to such horrendous statutes. In the end, I always return to the premise that the root cause of all these problems is poverty. If we would do what is necessary to end poverty, not only in our country but throughout the world, poor people would not have to leave their home countries and move to places where they can earn enough money to buy the basic goods and services their families need to enjoy a dignified existence. In the long run, ending poverty would benefit us all. The only thing we need is the social, moral, and political will to accomplish the task. Until then, I'll keep on writing about the possibilities.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

On this 40th anniversary of the celebration of our planet, I hope that everyone does only two small things:
  • Pick at least one small habit you've been wanting to change in order to be just a bit greener than before and start making that change today!
  • Make every day from this day forward Earth Day, and stick with that new good green habit you've just started working on for the rest of your life!
Repeat both of these steps on every single April 22 of your life, and one day you'll look at yourself and realize youve become a true "green god(dess)"!

It's the best gift we can give to ourselves and our home, Mother Earth!

Love and peace to all,
Debbie Jordan

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

One Good Thing . . .

Yes, when we do a small thing, take one tiny step, we never know where it will lead. That's why we must always be sure our actions are positive, and never be afraid to take them. Something that happened just this evening demonstrates that to me.

Late last year, I had a date to give my first speech in over a decade, my first ever on the subject of ending poverty in order to build a more peaceful society. I was delighted that I was going to discuss that uplifting subject at the December meeting of the Arizona Chapter of the Department of Peace Campaign in Scottsdale. A few days before the speech, my publicist, Babs Chandrasoma, emailed me to say a documentary filmmaker, Dafna Michaelson, wanted to interview me for her yearlong project,, when she came through Phoenix on December 2. What good fortune! That was the very day I was to go to the Phoenix area for my speech! God was certainly working overtime on my schedule!

But there was a small problem: Neither Dafna nor I had any idea where we could do the interview. It would have been too difficult for her to come all the way out to our home in Casa Grande, 60 miles south of the city, and since I rarely go to Phoenix, I didn't have a clue what was available there. So, I shot emails out to the people I know who know people, and I got two offers right away. One came from the man who serves as pastor of the nondenominational chapel at Sky Harbor Airport. Using a conference room in the chapel suite would certainly be convenient, since mine would be the first of several interviews Dafna had scheduled shortly after her plane landed. But the other offer from Caitlin Flaherty was even more intriguing.

As Executive Director of the AZDOP Campaign, Caitlin was the person who'd invited me to give the speech at their monthly meeting. Even better, her home is just a few minutes' drive from the airport, and she has a wonderfully peaceful backyard full of native desert plants. Caitlin generously offered the use of her backyard for my interview, so when you watch my interview, you're seeing Caitlin's garden behind me. But that's not the best part!

Just last evening, Caitlin sent me an email to show me the interview she did with Dafna via the internet! So, Caitlin's simple act of generosity led to one more chance for her to share the importance of making changes in ourselves in order to help make the world a better place. And don't forget, all this began with Caitlin's original offer for me to discuss my creative ideas for win-win-win solutions for the world's problems with the people in her group. Who knows what other wonderful developments will come from these small steps forward?!

One more good thing has come from Caitlin's generosity: I haven't posted anything on this blog since the middle of last year. That's because I spent so much of 2009 taking care of several unusual medical issues and focusing on my online column as Phoenix Progressive Examiner for Now I'm past those medical details, but as an Examiner, I'm expected to concentrate on Arizona politics, which is such a negative topic these days. While I certainly have a lot to say about what's going on in the Grand Canyon State, I prefer to focus my energies on the positive aspects of looking for those aforementioned solutions, rather than just complaining about all the problems that seem to get worse every time the politicians get involved.

And one more thing I didn't do last year that I must take care of this year: I am determined to finish writing my second peace book, Keep on Imagining: Spreading the wings of peace. That's why I've decided to make this blog my primary focus from now on. It will help me to keep my spirits up, share my hope and ideas for building a better world, and publish that next book by the end of 2010.

So, come back often, and tell your friends about me! I'll be here often!

Love and peace to all,
Debbie Jordan