Tuesday, September 30, 2008

But has SHE seen it?

SP has made an issue of her foreign policy readiness by stating that Alaska is near Russia. This article reports how a CNN reporter went to check that out on the island of Little Diomede. "As a matter of fact, no Alaska governor in the state’s nearly 50 year history has ever visited the remote outpost that still has little running water. We were curious what the Little Diomeders thought about Palin’s claim of foreign policy experience because of the proximity of Siberia. Interestingly, many of these Alaskans had no idea who Sarah Palin was! It turns out they have no TV on the island, and therefore, many don’t follow the news."

This reminds me of the joke we've heard around here so often, "Its not the end of the world, but you can see it from here." Actually, that place is up the road about 20 miles.

Some of these stupid political arguments and speeches of late remind me of writing essays in freshman English class when we would take any bit of information and fact and stretch it to try to convince the teacher of our own points of view.

And...I just ran across this blog commentary about cramming for the debates, comparing this to cramming for a college exam.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Debate and Patriosim

I liked this commentary. Begala says, "They're both good men; both patriots. But they have fundamentally different views about the future of our nation. Debating those differences is a beautiful form of patriotism."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Free Palin

Interesting commentary here. Do you think that McCain is treating Palin differently than he would treat a man? And why do people often call her "Sarah" when they don't call McCain "John?"

BTW, Brown is the same reporter that I saw interviewing a McCain spokesperson during the first evening of the Republican convention, the non-convention evening. She was repeating her question over and over in a mild tone of voice and trying to get the spokesperson to stay on the subject of the question rather than talk about the Dems. She was not hostile nor disrespectful, although the man accused her of something like that, and the next day McCain's camp said that her network couldn't have an interview with McCain.

This commentary, however, isn't the least bit neutral. But I do think it brings up a good question: Why can't we hear from Sarah Palin herself? What are they hiding? What are they afraid of?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Protecting the Great Lakes

This article is about protecting the Great Lakes from diversion to other states and countries. It is more complicated that it sounds because several of the states that border on one of the lakes also have a substantial part of the state's land in other water basins. Some Canadian provinces have also been working of similar legislation.

What really caught my attention is the phrase "death by a thousand straws." At last, government is being proactive on an environmental issue.

Too Easy Credit

Wouldn't you think, after the disaster on Wall Street and the mortgage melt-down, that companies would be more careful about easy credit? NOT! We got a notice from our credit card company that they were reissuing our cards with a new account number due to some sort of cyber fraud or stealing of the account numbers. I had to call a phone number to activate the new cards. That meant talking to someone with an accent, who did what was necessary on his computer, and then tried to talk me into accepting a check for $8000, interest free until February, 2008. "No thank you." "Well, the check is ... and it expires if you don't deposit it....bla bla bla." "No thank you." Well, bla bla bla." "No thank you." "Ok." Sheesh.

And what a boring job he must have. I wonder if he gets a commission. My son tried a cold calling job a few years ago and lasted only one day. Some people have no choices.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Issue of trust!

I can’t remember an election season in which I’ve personally paid as much attention to what is going on with the candidates and their electioneering. Maybe it is because I get a lot of my news from the ‘net and I also now have satellite TV, so I could, if I wanted to, watch news 24/7. Maybe it is because the political ads seem so, well, in-your-face. Maybe it is because Pres. Bush has such a low approval rating and so many people want a change, whatever that means. Just maybe, yes, actually, it is because it seems that the state-of-the-world is so frightening and dangerous these days, that we really do care who are leaders will be and what they stand for.

As I’ve mentioned before, I have always thought that anyone running for president must be a little nuts and unrealistic. That said, I think that one of the qualities that I most want in a president is leadership, i.e. the ability to inspire us all to do more together than we would do on our own. Of course, I pray that our new president will have insight, foresight, and look to the long term good of the world, not just his/her friends, and even, not just for our own country. We need a president who is aware of the rest of the world, the deep poverty and despair in certain areas as well as the “development” and “progress” in other areas. We are no longer the country with the biggest and best, tallest and most expensive everything. We need a president who will be able to contemplate our place in the world that is in, as one writer called it, “the post-American world.”

And what do we get: political ads and commentary focused on hairdos hunting and guns, sex education in kindergarten{old reference] (and here), family values and use of children in campaigning and accusations hurled at the other candidates, which sometimes contain, according to the fact checker groups, distortions, if not outright lies. Candidates are tied to people who may or may not represent the view of that candidate or his party, as in this reference to immigration. Each side accuses the other (and here) of something different on economic issues even when they seem to be agreeing. Each side says it will lower taxes and accuses the other side of saying that it will raise taxes because they present only a portion of the tax plan. "However, commercials run this year represent a break with this general pattern. Attack ads broadcast in recent months have twisted the truth, lied about personal background, taken statements out of context, and clearly sought to manipulate voter sentiments." quoted from Darrell M. West is vice president and director of Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. and the author of "Air Wars: Television Advertising in Election Campaigns, 1952-2004."

And the political spokespeople defend these distortions with new distortions of their own. I saw one interview where the reporter kept asking the same question because the spokesperson kept changing the subject to the ills of the other candidate. Finally the spokesperson started attacking the reporter’s motives. I’ve seen interviews in which the candidate’s answer to any questions is “I will bring change” with zero specifics being given. Is that because the candidate doesn’t even grasp the issues? We have to trust that change is good and that change means moving the country in the direction that I want it to go.

Even in our senatorial campaign has sunk to that level, including video of one of the candidates losing his temper. Each ad is a slam against the other major candidate, with nothing positive about the “approving” candidate’s own stance. We actually have an Independence Party candidate in our state who is a viable candidate due to serving out a term in the Senate after the death of Senator Paul Wellstone. I think all the negative campaigning will drive people in his direction.

All of these candidates are eroding their trustworthiness in my mind. The major presidential candidates pledged to keep the campaigning from getting negative. They’ve broken that promise. They say things that are not factual in some cases, as opposed to just another interpretation of the same thing. Does that mean that they are deliberately lying or are they parroting what they’ve been told to say or do they understand the issue so poorly that they don’t know that they are not telling the whole story?

Well, none of this is new in politics. But one of these people will be our president. I would think that a president wants to be trusted and believed. Apparently they don’t understand that TRUST is built, it doesn’t automatically come with a title.

Also try listening to this. and if that doesn't work, read this.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

What I did on my vacation:

Visited the Runstone Museum where I enjoyed learning about the Kensington Runestone.

Drove past about 1000 lakes and ponds. No, I'm not exaggerating. One county has 1048 lakes.

Visited several wonderful state parks: Lake Carlos, Maplewood, Glendalough, Crow Wing, and Mille Lacs Kathio State Parks. When we've talked to the park rangers this year and in the last few years, they've been discrete, but when we've asked them specific questions about what they are doing in the parks, staffing, improvements, etc. they have told us that the state's budget situation, i.e. priorities, have caused many of these fine parks to cut services, staff, and close buildings. We've seen this first hand in many of the parks.

Since we've become empty nesters, we've set a goal of visiting all the state parks. In these last few years, we've visited 18 parks, but in the last 30 years, we visited 43 of the parks, totally.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Keeping up

I'm keeping up with Ike and Sarah while at a resort/conference center on a lake in western Minnesota, or as my husband would term it: a scar on the shore of a lake that was beautiful. We are not here for vacation, although for me it is a vacation. I still think that my 21 year old daughter should have been named the Veep candidate, as she also has run a business, but she has actually been to all parts of the world except South America, and when she was on these travels, it was to where the real people live, not just to where the rich Americans play.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

stolen quote on Politicians

Saying for the Day
Politicians are people who, when they see light at the end of the tunnel, go out and buy some more tunnel. ~John Quinton

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

If your brother sins against you.

Matthew 18: 15 – 17 (Sermon reflections.)

This passage as traditionally been used as a basis for cutting off contact with people who have broken the rules of a group or who have done something that offends a person or group. Within the Christian tradition, it has been used as the basis for excommunication or shunning.

The passage assumes that the other party has indeed done something wrong as it says, “If your brother sins against you…” This also assumes that there originally was a closeness between the two parties. But it does not say that the other party has to change or repent, only “listen to you.” If he doesn’t listen, then take along witnesses so that “every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” Obviously the issue must be something that happened before the witnesses or they could not testify to anything. However, witnesses could observe the discourse between the parties.

Then if the person still doesn’t listen, then go before the church. If he still doesn’t listen, “treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

So how do we treat pagans or tax collectors? This is where the shunning comes in. The Chosen People weren’t supposed to mix with the pagans or Gentiles. Tax collectors represented Rome, so even if they were Jews, they became societal outcasts. Shunning doesn’t mean overt action against people, but rather implies cutting off contact or considering them to be a Non-Person, so to speak.

But we could also rightly ask, how did Jesus treat the pagans and the tax collectors? Jesus always seems to disregard those boundaries. He actually invited Matthew, the tax collector to be one of his disciples. Jesus talked to women and Gentiles, who then helped spread the Gospel of his love. Jesus forgave people even if they were on the other side of these lines.

How on earth can one carry out the Great Commission if we keep within our boundaries?

[During the present season of Political Rhetoric, I can’t help but think that more would be accomplished if there were fewer accusations thrown out into the airwaves and more spirit of coming together and “witnessing” to each other with our various viewpoints. Obviously, the political posturing isn’t meant to bring people together, but rather to divide. Then we will all have to live with the consequences, regardless of who wins.]

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Random Political Thoughts and Opinions

I was all set on Friday morning to offer up a few thoughts about the speeches at the Democratic convention, but then I got caught up in watching Sarah Palin’s introduction on TV. I was too interested in being in the great outdoors and in real life to be at the computer on the weekend. Now I’ve seen much of what the Republicans have to say.

Although I lean toward the Democratic position on many things, I have voted for both parties in the past. There that is my disclaimer. Here are some of my thoughts and opinions:

Anybody who runs for President has to be just a little nuts. And ambitious. I don’t understand the political mindset.

Anybody who brings their family onto the literal political stage is asking for questions about the members of that family and their own place in that family. You can’t trot them out and then cry foul at the questions. And if you didn’t get this ahead of time, I can bet that the “handlers” did and that they were “using” those family members. The Obamas had the girls present for an interview and later regretted it, yet, there were those girls at the convention. All the Palins, except the one in the Army, were at the airport publicly greeting McCain. This is after there were criticisms about family matters. Which way do they want it?????

Many of the comments regarding Bristol Palin weren’t called for. People are making all kinds of assumptions about private matters that they know nothing about. Leave her alone. Yet, it was the family that made the announcement. I wanted to barf when I heard people saying that because the daughter is pg that makes Palin seem more human. Huh? She wasn’t human before?

While it may be sexist to ask how can a woman be in a high office when she has kids at home, etc, it is a legitimate question because we want to know how she will use her time that she will be paid for. Will tax payer money be flying her back and forth to Alaska every weekend? But it does, in some ways, demean the husband in that family. It is NOT true that this hasn’t been brought up regarding Obama. I saw it addressed in a CNN documentary about him and I saw it referred to in print. Michelle Obama mentioned the difficulties for her family when he was in Springfield, and she mentioned that in the White House it would actually be better. How often will he leave the Oval Office to spend time with his kids?

Actually, all the questions regarding Palin being a mother and how can she do it, etc. show that people still regard the mother as the most important parent, rightly or wrongly. But not working doesn’t necessarily mean being emotionally present for the children. I’ve witnessed this more than once with some of my friends, unfortunately. It would be legitimate to have the same concerns regarding all the parents that we’ve sent to war. Emotionally neglected children suffer, even when it is the dad who spends most of his evenings with business clients while climbing the corporate ladder.

As a rural, small town person, I think the real “ism” that came out in regard to Palin is that she isn’t from a city, therefore can’t possibly have what it takes to compete on the big stage. I’ve heard this too many times myself. What city people don’t understand is that in a small town and small school, ordinary people get more opportunity to be leaders than they would in a city.

Political jabs can be entertaining. They can also be misleading, overly simplistic, and sometimes they contain lies cloaked in clever language. There are now several web pages put out by news organizations which purport to compare truth and reality regarding the “facts” and “tax cuts” stated in the speeches. Here's one looking at both sides. I hope thinking people check out the truth from both sides. I don’t count on that. It is easy to be persuaded to a point of view when that is the only one we listen to. Or as my sister said, “They were speaking to the choir.” I’ve checked out several web pages where people post their thoughts and opinions after these speeches. Some of those “choir” members have rather snarky and even hateful opoinions.

When I was listening to Obama, I found myself agreeing with many of his goals. However, the only specific phrase of his speech that stayed with me is “I will ____.” After about a dozen of these statements, I turned to my husband and said, “Huh? In a 24 hour day?” He laughed. Why phrase a goal that needs the cooperation of many people to even hope to accomplish in a way that makes it sound like he himself is doing it all? That is bound to set any politician up for failure.

Lastly, I cannot respect the Cut Taxes mindset. This country has great needs and also a huge debt. It needs to be paid by the generation that is creating it, not by my grandchildren. One of the fact checking websites showed that under each persons’ plans, the taxes would actually rise. I don’t understand that hocus pocus, but a tax preparer told me that he never saw anybody’s taxes go down under the Regan Tax Cut.

My own proposal is that there needs to be an “I’m glad I’m an American” voluntary tax that we, especially the people who have made it big because of our wonderful country, could pay into to help off set our debt. I suppose that has the same chance of success as getting people in our churches to tithe.