Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Class Reunion

Well, the class reunion is over....all but the breakfast. Tomorrow at 9:00, we will have breakfast at Sirloin Stockade before church....those of us who are interested.

Friday afternoon was awesome. We all had a great time getting reacquainted.

Then Friday evening we went to the Veterans Memorial Stadium to watch the homecoming football game from the third floor of the stadium. We started out ahead and the lost the lead right down to the last one minute when one of our young men got the ball and ran it into the end zone for the touchdown. The score was 41 to 42 in Coffeyville's favor. It was a real cliff hanger. Everyone was elated!

We had wonderful chili and the committee all baked cookies for dessert.

Today, I went to the Alumni Center for the day starting at 10:00 until 3:00 this afternoon. I came home then and changed clothes and Bob and I went to the banquet. The food was very good and the entire evening was memorable. We had 61 classmates there and 35 wives or significant others.

I won the table centerpiece and brought home a lovely bowl of flowers.

But I am exhausted. I took my bath and am ready to go to bed.

This building is the Alumni Center where we met and visited each day.

Friday, October 17, 2008

My 55th Class Reunion

This should be an interesting weekend. It is my 55th class reunion. I will go to the Alumni Center at 2:00 and finish lining up people for the tours tomorrow. I have arranged for tours of the Brown Mansion, Dalton Defenders Museum, the Airport Museum, and the new Community Elementary School. The picture shown here is the Brown Mansion.

Then this evening, we will go to the third floor of the stadium and have a chili feed and watch the high school homecoming game between Coffeyville and arch rival Independence.

Tomorrow, I will man the Alumni Center again from 10:00 until 4:00 and then go to the college Student Union building for our banquet. It should be great fun...I hope.

I went to Independence this morning and had my hair done for the event.

Later this morning I made a batch of peanut butter cookies for tonight's chili dinner. I will leave about 1: 45 for the Alumni Center.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Last Debate

Well this last debate was by far the most interesting of the three. McCain was in an attack mode in his desperation. But, once again, the bulk of his remarks, and those of Obama, were repeats of former points with very little new material.

I was proud of Obama when asked how he felt about Sarah Palen as vice president, instead of attacking her lack of credentials for the job, he said, "I'll leave that to the voters". He was unflappable.

McCain, on the other hand,over and over again, showed his annoyance with Obama's remarks during the entire debate, if you can call it a debate.

Bob Shieffer did an excellent job of bringing the candidates back to the questions, time and again.

McCain tried very hard to shake Obama by suggesting that Mr. Obama would hurt the economy and many entrepreneurs, Mr. McCain said, “The whole premise behind Senator Obama’s plans are class warfare — let’s spread the wealth around,” repeating a phrase Mr. Obama had used to Mr. Wurzelbacher in explaining the rationale for his upper-income tax increase.

But I agree! Let's do spread the wealth around. People who are millionaires and billionaires won't be able to spend all their wealth in three lifetimes. Many of them don't even pay taxes since they have high powered lawyers on payroll to help them find all the loopholes. pointed out:

McCain claimed the liberal group ACORN “is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history ... maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.” In fact, a Republican prosecutor said of the first and biggest ACORN fraud case: “This scheme was not intended to permit illegal voting.” He said $8-an-hour workers turned in made-up voter registration forms rather than doing what ACORN paid them to do.

McCain claimed that Obama’s real “object” is a government-run, single-payer health insurance system like those in Canada or England. The McCain campaign points to a quote from five years ago, when Obama told a labor gathering that he was “a proponent of a single-payer health care program.” But Obama has since qualified his enthusiasm for Canadian-style health care, and his current proposal is nothing like that.

Obama did repeat a dubious claim that his health care plan will cut the average family’s premiums by $2,500 a year. Experts have found that figure to be overly optimistic.

McCain described Colombia as the "largest agricultural importer of our products." Actually, Canada imports the most U.S. farm products, and Colombia is far down the list.

McCain said “Joe the plumber” faced “much higher taxes” under Obama’s tax plan and would pay a fine under Obama’s health care plan if he failed to provide coverage for his workers. But Ohio plumber Joe Wurzelbacher would pay higher taxes only if the business he says he wants to buy puts his income over $200,000 a year, and his small business would be exempt from Obama’s requirement to provide coverage for workers.

I thought they belabored this "Joe Plumber" reference. But as he has done in previous encounters, Mr. Obama looked right into the camera and calmly repeated his plan: “Now, the conversation I had with Joe the Plumber, what I essentially said to him was, five years ago, when you weren’t in the position to buy your business, you needed a tax cut then. And what I want to do is to make sure that the plumber, the nurse, the firefighter, the teacher, the young entrepreneur who doesn’t yet have money, I want to give them a tax break now.”

I was amused that McCain kept talking about how Sarah Palen knew all about autism. Her baby has Down Syndrome, not autism. Doesn't McCain know the difference?

And Obama incorrectly claimed all of McCain’s ads had been “negative.” That was true for one recent week, but not over the entire campaign. And at times Obama has run a higher percentage of attack ads than McCain. But maybe McCain learned a lesson not to run attack ads. Obama's campaign is much better at it and obviously more effective too.

From The Nation this observation:

Late in the debate was the clincher for McCain's demise. McCain lost it the most when discussing abortion, putting air quotes around “health of the woman," belittling women's health concerns as if it were a political slogan, This stage of the debate was infuriating, and will be remembered by millions of women. The notion that many women thought McCain to be pro-choice, is now ancient history.

The most amazing remark was made by McCain, though. It was the suggestion I heard McCain make, toward the end of the debate, the idea of allowing returning soldiers to become teachers with no training or certification. This would litter our school system with teachers trained in military regimen yet many of whom are under educated and unprepared. Is the idea to completely turn our schools into armed camps? Whatever. It is just another example of McCain's obvious senility and idiocy.

But it certainly displayed the two very different temperaments of the candidates with less than three weeks until Election Day. Obama, calmly explaining his points and McCain showing impatience and sometimes even anger. It was obvious the old man was doing his best to try to control himself.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Too Much on My Plate

I really have a lot on my plate right now. I am chair of the Celebration Committee for the Independence Ministerial Association and spent an hour this morning helping to plan the Community Thanksgiving Service. Plus, I am co-chair of the Restoration Studies Symposium for next April and we are trying to locate a keynote speaker for that event and waiting for the submissions of papers. My first choice Bart Erhman was not available so now we are contacting Steven Patterson. I have my class reunion this weekend and then I have this wedding on Saturday the 25th.

Oh my! How on earth do I get myself in these positions?

Tonight we will watch the last debate between Obama and McCain. We watched an excellent PBS special on Frontline last night about the two of them.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesday Busyness

This morning I got up at six and fixed Bob some sausage and eggs, with toast. I was going to be gone most of the day with one activity or another. I got my hair done at 9:15 and then went to the market to pick up a few things I will need for dinner Thursday evening when Cyndi and Jeff come for dinner to discuss once again their plans for their wedding on the 25th.

After that, I had an 11:00 board meeting of the Montgomery County Medical Clinic. It was a long meeting and we didn't break up until 1:00. But we worked on our policy statement.

Then I came on home. My sister had a problem with our bank and I went up there and weeded that out.

My brother-in-law approached me at church day before yesterday to tell me that my sister has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. She had had a CAT scan and a PET scan and it appeared that the right side of her brain, where cognitive activity should be, had very little activity there. Phyllis is my only sister so between my brother-in-law and myself, we will be caring for my sister as the disease progresses.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Privatizing Medicare

I see how McCain intends to "fix" Medicare. He will privatize it and pass the program on to private insurance companies.

"Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) recently admitted he would cut $1.3 trillion from Medicare and Medicaid over the next ten years to finance his health care plan. McCain's proposed cuts echo former House Speaker Newt Gingrich's 1995 effort to cut $270 billion, or 14 percent, from projected Medicare spending over seven years and force millions of elderly recipients into managed health care programs or HMOs. As Gingrich admitted, "We don't want to get rid of it [traditional Medicare] in round one because we don't think it's politically smart." "But we believe that it's going to wither on the vine because we think [seniors] are going to leave it voluntarily," he added. Despite McCain's career-long support for limiting Medicare benefits and eligibility, the campaign, is denying that its financing mechanism would undermine benefits. Appearing on CNN, McCain senior policy adviser Douglas Holtz-Eakin implied that "McCain would save money in the federal health programs" by focusing on preventive care and weeding out $1.3 trillion worth of inefficiency and fraud. Nonetheless, a Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF) analysis of the senator's proposed cuts finds that McCain would also undermine Medicare and Medicaid benefits and eligibility and would force those with private insurance plans to pay more for health coverage out of pocket.

CUTS IN MEDICARE: To achieve his goal of cutting Medicare by 13 percent over 10 years, McCain will have to limit growth in enrollment and medical price inflation to 4.5 percent annually. To maintain the current operations of the existing Medicare program, however, a growth rate of at least 7.1 percent is needed over the next 10 years to cover the 2.7 percent average annual growth in enrollment and a projected rate of medical price inflation of 4.4 percent. Absent another change in his plan, McCain would have to reduce Medicare eligibility, reduce benefits, and/or increase cost-sharing. Either approach would jeopardize the benefits of existing beneficiaries and severely limit the program from accepting new enrollees.

CUTS IN MEDICAID: Assuming McCain's proposed cuts are proportionally divided between the two programs, McCain would also slash Medicaid spending by 13 percent over 10 years. McCain's cuts would limit Medicaid growth to 5.5 percent annually -- a six percent growth rate barely keeps up with medical inflation and enrollment growth -- and would likely yield a parallel cut in state funding. As a result, McCain's plan would result in a total reduction in Medicaid spending of $738 billion over 10 years, more than the cost of providing benefits for all Medicaid beneficiaries for two years. These cuts will likely cascade into the State Children's Health Insurance Program the federal program that covers millions of children who otherwise would not have access to health insurance.

COSTS SHIFT TO PRIVATE INSURANCE: If the government's support of public programs fall, those with private insurance will end up paying more as health care providers shift costs to private payers. Low payment rates in the public market will lead health care providers to pursue higher payments from the private market. As CAPAF Senior Fellow Peter Harbage points out, this cost shift represents a "hidden tax" on Americans with private insurance. Private payers will pay higher premiums and deductibles in order to make-up for McCain's radical cuts to public programs and would also finance more expensive emergency room care for individuals who are no longer covered by Medicaid. A 2005 study by Professor Ken Thorpe of Emory University concluded that cost-shifting nationally accounts for 8.5 percent of premiums. Unfortunately, McCain's proposed cuts to Medicare and Medicaid will only increase the "hidden tax" on millions of Americans."

We all know about how efficient private insurers are. The cost to the retirees would skyrocket even worse than it now does. For instance, my supplement insurance has gone from $87.00 when I was 65 to $144.10 now that I'm 72. Next year, as it always does, it will go up again. I have no health problems and take no medications but still my cost goes up each year. What on earth would those of us on a fixed income do when every Social Security raise is eaten up with Medicare and insurance raises already?

Living the Questions

Bob and I went to our Living the Questions group last evening and had a good meal and a lively discussion afterward. Then we began to discuss the political situation. I told them about an article I had read a couple of weeks ago after a friend of mine whose husband is stationed in Alaska with the Northern Command told me about the deployment of combat troops into Georgia and Alabama prior to the elections.

Here is the information I found.

On October 1, 2008, President Bush deployed a brigade -- which means three to four thousand warriors -- somewhere in America. We do not know where they are deployed though citizens have informally reported having seen military vehicles and troops in Georgia (some are actually at Fort Stewart, Georgia) and Alabama. We do know that their official mandate according to the first report is 'crowd control' as well as action in the event of a mass civilian catastrophe. Initial reports described their technology 'module package' as involving Tasers and rubber bullets.

According to Amnesty International, more than 300 people in the United States have died since 2001 as the result of being Tasered by law enforcement authorities. According to the first reports, the mission includes subduing 'unruly individuals.' After an outcry, more recent statements from military spokesmen have backed off from identifying those tasks as being the ones the troops will be charged with. Why worry about the deployment of troops in our nation?

First, the founding generation set a bright line to keep military from policing our streets in 1807 because they knew from their own experience how easily military forces -- King George's -- could subdue civilian society. The First Brigade is Bush's force: they are not answerable to Congress or to the Governors of states: they are answerable to the Commander in Chief. In an Alternet posting, a reporter interviewed Air Force Colonel (retired) David Antoon who noted that the troops must obey the president, even if he asks them to arrest Congress or fire on civilians or attack media outlets. If they do not obey orders, he notes, they face five years in prison.

We should not have to remind ourselves that these scenarios are unlikely to understand that this power is dangerous. Antoon himself calls the deployment 'ominous.' Troops on our streets makes us something less than a democracy: one definition of a police state is when a leader sends his own military units into civilian streets. Meanwhile the civilian policing of citizens is becoming more brutal. Hundreds of preemptive arrests took place in St Paul, dozens of journalists were arrested.

This reporter I am quoting was phoned recently by Monica Bicking, a young, well-scrubbed Midwesterner who is one of eight perfectly ordinary young Americans charged as 'terrorists' under the Minnesota Patriot act after being arrested at the RNC.

I learned only this week that there is little good footage of the RNC brutality because police demanded the cameras of reporters or exposed their film. Some of the footage we have, showing random unprompted mass arrests, was buried in the ground
by a protester so it could survive.

Police forces have become more violent toward civilians due to resources as well as pressure from Homeland Security money and personnel. Prior to this summer's conventions, $50 million was sent to both Denver and St. Paul, much of which was used to arm and train police to act against citizens.

In St. Paul, funds were sent in advance to pay off the lawsuits against police forces that were guaranteed to arise from the planned abuse of citizens. This sort of thing is happening across the country. The tactic has established a closed circle that has turned citizens' law enforcement agencies into contractors of a state that is directing acts of increasing severity against US citizens. Now a military brigade is being deployed.

The Bush administration has unilaterally decided to defy federal laws that have kept the military off our streets since 1807, almost since the birth of this nation: The John Warner Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007 expanded the president's authority to deploy troops within the United States. The people raised a hue and cry -- and this power was then substantially limited by a new provision in the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act. But Bush signaled, with a signing statement, that he would not recognize these new limitations. We may be called unpatriotic for fearing these soldiers on our streets. We should see through this. Our military are indeed brave and overwhelmingly decent. And, as I note, they can be prosecuted for refusing to follow orders. But history -- and the Zimbardo experiments, and Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo -- has taught us clearly that decent kids under duress and following strict orders can do appalling things. Our men and women in uniform over there have followed many orders that are still giving them PTSD and nightmares at home.

Air Force Colonel Antoon notes further:

I am not a constitutional scholar. But history, which we as Americans ignore at our own peril, clearly suggests that martial law trumps civil law. As I said, and as you have written, I believe we are in great peril if we have American troops who have been trained to "destroy the enemy ... in close combat" patrolling American streets. Posse Comitatus is essential because American soldiers are not trained for such things as civil disobedience -- they are trained to kill. The US military "Warrior's Creed" clearly states: "I stand ready to deploy, engage and destroy the enemies of the United States of America in close combat. One only need look at the events in 1970 when the National Guard was called on to the campus of Kent State University. These soldiers instinctively did what they had been trained to do: kill.

President Bush has not called out a small National Guard unit. He has mobilized a battle hardened army brigade. President Bush's signing statement to dismiss the law of Posse Comitatus is gravely ominous.

If you think this is not legitimate, folks, just look around the internet. The Huffington Post presented this story.

I am leery of this entire situation....especially at election time. yes, it will be an interesting election. I hope my fears are unfounded.

The picture above was taken at the Republican National Committee and is a seventeen year old boy during a peaceful protest. According to his mother he was brutally beaten by police following the taking of this picture.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Planting Pansies

My daughter brought me three flats of pansies this morning at church and I spent the afternoon planting them in the front of my house and took these pictures.

The service went fine. Since the theme today was Plea for Peace, I talked about the recent Peace Colloquy I attended with my friends. Everyone seemed to be interested.

My son and his girlfriend left this morning. Her daughter called last evening and said she had the flu and couldn't take care of her two little boys, age six and three so he took her back to his house, a three hour drive, where she will leave him and then drive three more hours back to her home in Ricker,Arkansaw. He is pressing her to either move in with him or marry and they have only dated a month. She is resisting rushing into something and I don't blame her. He needs to be patient. It won't happen though and she will run away as fast as she can. he scares them all off.