Saturday, April 5, 2008

From Move On America

10 things you should know about John McCain (but probably don't):

1. John McCain voted against establishing a national holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Now he says his position has "evolved," yet he's continued to oppose key civil rights laws.

2. According to Bloomberg News, McCain is more hawkish than Bush on Iraq, Russia and China. Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan says McCain "will make Cheney look like Gandhi."

3. His reputation is built on his opposition to torture, but McCain voted against a bill to ban waterboarding, and then applauded President Bush for vetoing that ban.

4. McCain opposes a woman's right to choose. He said, "I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned."

5. The Children's Defense Fund rated McCain as the worst senator in Congress for children. He voted against the children's health care bill last year, then defended Bush's veto of the bill.

6. He's one of the richest people in a Senate filled with millionaires. The Associated Press reports he and his wife own at least eight homes! Yet McCain says the solution to the housing crisis is for people facing foreclosure to get a "second job" and skip their vacations.

7. Many of McCain's fellow Republican senators say he's too reckless to be commander in chief. One Republican senator said: "The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He's erratic. He's hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me."

8. McCain talks a lot about taking on special interests, but his campaign manager and top advisers are actually lobbyists. The government watchdog group Public Citizen says McCain has 59 lobbyists raising money for his campaign, more than any of the other presidential candidates.

9. McCain has sought closer ties to the extreme religious right in recent years. The pastor McCain calls his "spiritual guide," Rod Parsley, believes America's founding mission is to destroy Islam, which he calls a "false religion." McCain sought the political support of right-wing preacher John Hagee, who believes Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for gay rights and called the Catholic Church "the Antichrist" and a "false cult."

10. He positions himself as pro-environment, but he scored a 0—yes, zero—from the League of Conservation Voters last year.

Clean Church

I went to my church this morning to clean it up. This is my month to do that chore. I vacuumed, dusted and polished the furniture this week. Next week I will mop the bathroom floors, the kitchen and the foyer. I really enjoy cleaning the church. It gives one a lot of time to think. There is a lot of work to be done there and we need to schedule a clean up for the entire congregation so we can get the flower beds in shape, plant some more shrubbery and have the carpet cleaned. It always looks lovely after spring cleanup.

We spent nearly a year building this church building. A local contractor put up the building and finished the sanctuary and bathrooms, all but the painting and wallpapering and installation of the booths in the bathroom. When his crew finished, my daughter and I wallpapered the lower part of the foyer and the bathrooms and hung silk shantung in the front of the sanctuary instead of paneling.

A group from Miami, Oklahoma and Vinita, Oklahoma came over on several occasions and were a major help. Woody Wilson led these guys and they put up the walls for the all purpose side of the church and later came back and put all the trim up. Woody even built our kitchen cabinets.

I had just retired and we had a friend that worked evenings and could also do wiring so my husband and I and that friend worked in the all purpose side of the building for three months, wiring, insulating, painting, installing the bathroom dividers and shower doors. The congregation, who were still working helped when they could and as we needed them.

We all worked very hard and everyone donated something toward it's completion. Because we did so much work on this building, we all feel ownership in it.

That's been nearly nine years now and there really needs to be some sprucing up. We are having our sign refurbished now and when it is finished, I will post a picture here of the new official sign.
We are a small congregation of about 25. Luckily, we are a self sustaining church, and we get along fine. We do not pay a pastor. Because I am retired, I have the time to do all the administrative tasks that responsibility brings. The only paid person is the fellow who mows for us all summer.

Our people are all very close and more like family then church members. And that's just the way I like it. We are not obsessed with growth. When someone joins our church, we are delighted but we have folks that attend fairly regularly that do not feel that they must become a member to enjoy the fellowship. We serve a light breakfast on Sunday mornings and have a lively church school class. Our worship services vary as the speakers and presiding elders vary in their approach to them.

Yes, it's the perfect church for the person who likes community.

Friday, April 4, 2008


One of the more interesting books I've read is the book, "Don't Think of an Elephant" which talks about how the Republicans have framed the debate these last years. Frames are mental structures that shape the way we see the world and are very important. For example, the Republicans coined the phrase "tax relief" instead of "tax cuts". When we think of relief, we know there must be an affliction. A remover therefore becomes a hero. Democrats who use the term "tax relief" are shooting themselves in the foot. They have let the Republicans frame the issue. Even when Al Gore explained that the tax cuts would only go to the top 1% of the very rich, folks still thought they were a good thing because they thought those folks deserved to keep their money. So George Bush's "tax relief" plan made him a hero.

So we get "compassionate conservatism" "clear skies initiative" "healthy forests", "no child left behind". How you frame the issue is vital to how it is conceived. This use of Orwellian language is language that means the opposite of what it says. It is this kind of Orwellian language that causes a piece of legislation that actually increases pollution to be called "the clear skies act".

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Being Alone With the Cat

Now that Bob is gone for awhile, Missy, the cat, and I are enjoying one another's company without anyone teasing us. She's a card. Never a dull moment with her around. She climbs up on my lap even when the laptop computer is already there and then she pushes on the laptop with her paw. Once she gets me to move it, she lounges all over my lap and turns herself upside down and makes herself at home.

Now if I try to turn her around so I can talk to her face, she gets angry and gets down. Everything has to be on Missy's terms. What a kitty!

She sleeps on the foot of my bed. When I am ready to go to bed, I say, "Come on, Missy Kitty, let's go to bed. She goes in and jumps up on the bed, curls up and sleeps on my feet.

Painting the House

The past two to three weeks Bob and I have been helping my son-in-law and daughter get a house they have inherited ready to sell. I have painted for a couple of weeks and Bob washed all the windows inside and out and cleaned the woodwork and cabinets and then applied some stain to them to freshen them up.

We have, along with my daughter and granddaughter, painted every room in the house and taken the wallpaper off two rooms and painted those walls too. All the rooms were painted off white, beige or tan . When we finished that, we had the twenty year old carpet cleaned and it looked great.

They had not listed the house because we just finished the painting on Saturday. Then Tuesday evening a realtor called them and asked to show the house. He showed it and then obtained a contract on it. It appears the sale will go through. They are to sign a contract tonight.

Talk about quick!

Of course all that painting and cleaning made a vast improvement. That just clarifies my belief that if a house is kept clean and crisp, the property will sell. We have sold a number of houses over the years and none of them has been on the market more then a month.

The housing market may be in the cellar everywhere else but in southeast Kansas, housing is in short supply and the market is fine.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Free Lunch

I am in the process of reading a book written by a Pulitzer Prize winner who is famous for his extensive research. Here is one of the reviews:

How does "a strong and growing economy" as the president calls it, lend itself to job uncertainty, debt, bankruptcy, and economic fear for a vast number of Americans? Free Lunch provides answers to this great economic mystery of our time, revealing how today’s government policies and spending reach deep into the wallets of the many for the benefit of the wealthy few.

David Cay Johnston cuts through the official version of events and shows how, under the guise of deregulation, a whole new set of regulations quietly went into effect—regulations that thwart competition, depress wages, and reward misconduct. From how George W. Bush got rich off a tax increase to a $100 million taxpayer gift to Warren Buffett, Johnston puts a face on all of the dirty little tricks that business and government pull. A lot of people appear to be getting free lunches—but of course there’s no such thing as a free lunch, and someone (you, the taxpayer) is picking up the bill.

Johnston’s many revelations include:
• How we ended up with the most expensive yet inefficient health-care system in the world
• How homeowners’ title insurance became a costly, deceitful, yet almost invisible oligopoly
• How our government gives hidden subsidies for posh golf courses
• How Paris Hilton’s grandfather schemed to retake the family fortune from a charity for poor children
• How the Yankees and Mets owners will collect more than $1.3 billion in public funds

In these instances and many more, Free Lunch shows how the lobbyists and lawyers representing the most powerful 0.1 percent of Americans manipulated our government at the expense of the other 99.9 percent.

With his extraordinary reporting, vivid stories, and sharp analysis, Johnston reveals the forces that shape our everyday economic lives—and shows us how we can finally make things better.

I saw this author interviewed on PBS last week by Bill Moyers and ordered his book.

Nancy Pelosi on Impeachment

Nancy Palosi has made it quite clear that she will not pursue impeachment for Bush and Cheney. The criminals are going to be let off the hook. Just remember that with all the evidence against them, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Karl Rove and the rest of them have managed to get away with everything and the investigation has gone nowhere. Obviously, there has been a "deal" in the works. Clinton gets impeached over lying about adultery and they get away with starting a war over oil with a lie getting thousands of our soldiers killed in the process and messing up a country they have no business even being in. This has never been about "bringing democracy to the Middle East". It has always been all about oil. Their own website the "Project for the New American Century," said they wanted a war on three fronts long before Bush became president and it took 9/11 to get that wish granted without a great deal of objection from the American people and congress just gave them a walk on it all. Cheney was also all about restoring the unlimited power of the presidency that he knew when Nixon was president and 9/11 also granted that goal.

No, they are going to get a walk on it.

The problem with Iraq

The problem with us in Iraq is not just Iraq. This war and the insurgency is the result of a number of things, not the least being that we have supported Israel against Palestine for a very long time. Another problem is that we do not understand the culture and find ourselves as infidels on Iraqi holy ground.

Then there is the fact that the insurgency are simply people who want us gone because we are occupying their country. Anyone who reads and studies anything knows by this time that this war is all about oil. If someone came here and invaded our country, all of us would be an insurgency. In fact, when we were a British colony, our "patriots" were the insurgency.

As far as rebuilding their country...we've tried that and received shoddy construction and wasted millions and millions of dollars. Let's get out of there if we can't provide some decent construction...and let the Iraqis rebuild their own country with all that oil money. I bet they would be happy to do that just to get rid of us.

To understand their point of view, it is necessary to put ourselves in their place.

The Very Rich

Keep in mind this one astonishing fact extracted from official government tax data: in 2005, the 300,000 men women and children who comprised the top tenth of 1 percent had nearly as much income as all the 150 million Americans who make up the economic lower half of our population. Add the income the rich are not required to report and those 300,000 made more then the 150 million.

This growing concentration of income at the top is nothing like the distribution of income America experienced in the first three decades following World War II. Nor is it like those found in Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. Instead it resembles the distribution of income found in three other major countries: Brazil, Mexico, and Russia.

In ways that most Americans do not imagine, but that have been thoroughly documented by political scientists, sociologists, and others, these three nations and the United States are alike. They all have a rapidly growing class of billionaires. They have growing and seemingly in retractable, poverty at the bottom. And all four countries have a middle class that is under increasing stress. these four countries are also societies in which adults have the right to vote, but real political power is wielded by a relatively narrow, and rich segment of the population.

But distribution of income in a society does not take place in a vacuum. It is also the product of government rules.

How many times was a president elected who did not win the popular vote?

It has happened four times.

The 2000 election was the most recent when the candidate who received the greatest number of electoral votes, and thus won the presidency, didn't win the popular vote. But this scenario has played out in our nation's history before.

In 1824, John Quincy Adams was elected president despite not winning either the popular vote or the electoral vote. Andrew Jackson was the winner in both categories. Jackson received 38,000 more popular votes than Adams, and beat him in the electoral vote 99 to 84. Despite his victories, Jackson didn't reach the majority 131 votes needed in the Electoral College to be declared president. In fact, neither candidate did. The decision went to the House of Representatives, which voted Adams into the White House.

In 1876, Rutherford B. Hayes won the election (by a margin of one electoral vote), but he lost the popular vote by more than 250,000 ballots to Samuel J. Tilden.

In 1888, Benjamin Harrison received 233 electoral votes to Grover Cleveland's 168, winning the presidency. But Harrison lost the popular vote by more than 90,000 votes.

In 2000, George W. Bush was declared the winner of the general election and became the 43rd president, but he didn't win the popular vote either. Al Gore holds that distinction, garnering about 540,000 more votes than Bush. However, Bush won the electoral vote, 271 to 266.


Share the Practice

Several years ago we had been concerned about lack of contact with some of our church members and so we started a Serendipity Bible Study to try to keep in touch with them. The Serendipity Bible Study is relational Bible study as you all know. It encourages the participant to relate to the scripture and relate it to their own experience. It was such a success that our “small group” turned into 12 – 15 people each week. After the study, we enjoyed light refreshments. These groups were held in the homes.

When we began to build our church, we found we had to stop it but it did help us keep in contact with members for that period of time.

Now we are trying something else. Our present study is interdenominational. It started by being a “Saving Jesus” study and we went through that entire series. Then we moved to a “Living the Questions” study. We have gone through two entire sessions of that. We have also done some “Nooma” discussions. We have gone from 6 – 8 in our small group to 10 – 12. We have six Methodists, one of them completely inactive, three Community of Christ members, two Presbyterians and one agnostic. It has been a very interesting group of studies. We meet either on Sunday night or Monday night…depending on the schedule of all. After the viewing of the DVD and discussion of questions, we have light refreshments and visit.

It really helps people participating to think about their scriptures and how they relate to the needs of people today.

Monday, March 31, 2008


Grandchildren can be a real blessing. Ours are grown. They are ages 29, 28, 25, 22, 21 and 17. Right now we are concerned about the 17 year old. She is a senior this year and is staying with our daughter and her husband and completing her senior year with them. She is a pretty girl and that could be a problem for her. She's much too immature for her age.

She's getting ready for the senior prom now and is interested in showing way too much they all seem to be at this time.

She plays her music constantly and wears these little earphones. She will be losing her hearing before she's 30. She is damaging the nerves in her ears but at this age you can't tell them anything because they already know it all.

But, you know, I remember being the same way when I was 17. Maybe things aren't as different as I thought.