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I am a high school English teacher in an urban high school in Oklahoma City. I am a member of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2309. I am a Democrat, a union activist and a worker for social justice. I also am a Christian (Congregationalist). I play chess and coach our school chess team.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sarah Palin Took Gifts Got Special Considerations as Mayor

The former home of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on Wasilla Lake in Wasilla, Alaska, is seen Wednesday, Sept. 24, 2008. Two months before Palin's tenure as mayor ended in 2002, she asked city planning officials to forgive zoning violations so she could sell the house.
(AP Photo/Al Grillo)

from the Associated Press

Though Sarah Palin depicts herself as a pit bull fighting good-old-boy politics, in her years as mayor she and her friends received special benefits more typical of small-town politics as usual, an Associated Press investigation shows.

When Palin needed to sell her house during her last year as Wasilla mayor, she got the city to sign off on a special zoning exception — and did so without keeping a promise to remove a potential fire hazard.

She gladly accepted gifts from merchants: A free "awesome facial" she raved about in a thank-you note to a spa. The "absolutely gorgeous flowers" she received from a welding supply store. Even fresh salmon to take home.

Highlights from Robin's Sermon 28.09.08

Jesus driving the money men from the Temple
Here are some highlights from the Sunday service at Mayflower Congregational Church-UCC. "Where head and heart are equal partners in faith."

The Prayer of Confession:
Lord of Life, we pause in the midst of high anxiety about our country's financial future to remember the wisdom of the church about wealth and the life of the spirit. Once again, as we struggle to recover from an era of greed and corruption, we are driven back to words that are older than any political party or media spin: "The love of money is the root of all evil." Teach us, we pray, to heed the wisdom of the ages, not the seductions of idolatry. In the name of Jesus our Teacher and Lord we pray, Amen.


Special Music: "Simple Gifts" Shaker hymn, arranged by Mark Hayes

Scripture Reading: Mark 10:17-25 (The story of the rich man told by Jesus to "sell all you have and give to the poor.")

Next to the kingdom of God, Jesus' most freguent topic was money.

When Jesus attacked the Temple money changers during Passion Week, he sealed his doom.

Talking about greed is suddenly in in our world. We are reminded of the scene in the movie Wall Street where Michael Douglas' character states that "Greed is good."

We need to be reminded that the First Commandment is, "Do not make an idol for yourself out of anything."

Jesus said, "You cannot serve God and Wealth."

"The love of money is the root of all evil."

One commentator said, "Why do we borrow money from China so that we can buy oil from Saudi Arabia which in turn is poisoning our planet?"

Prosperity theology, the preaching that God will help us become rich, is the final and complete perversion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Louis Brandeis once said, "We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."

The church of Jesus must challenge the present social/economic system in the nation, not merely endorse it.

Proverbs 19:17--"He who gives to the poor, lends to God." This is a much safers investiment than any bank.

The responsibility of the church in this economic crisis is the same that it has been throughout the ages. We must seek to help those harmed by these events and confront those who have caused it with the Word of Truth.

We need in these times to rediscover the joys of simplicity. In the words of the Shaker hymn:
It's a gift to be simple.
It's a gift to be free.
It's a gift to come down where we ought to be.
And when we come around to the place that's right,
We will be in the valley of love and delight.

Obama Emerging as the Clear Winner of 1st Debate

from MediaCurves.com
Note How Well Obama Does with Independents
This should surprise many Republicans

Saturday, September 27, 2008

John McCain vs. John McCain

The First Debate

from "The Daily Kos"
To be honest, I couldn't watch the first debate. When I want someone to win so much, I have a hard time watching because I get so nervous. I have always been that way. Can't explain it.

However, from the reaction I have seen in the reviews of the event, Obama did well. He was fighting on McCain's ground since the debate's topic was "Foreign Policy," and at the very least, Obama stood even with McCain.

That in itself is a victory for Barack Obama.

In addition to this, two polls suggest that those who did watch the debate felt that Obama was the clear winner. A CBS poll of undecided voters showed that 39% felt Obama won while 24% felt McCain won. A CNN/Opinion Research Corp of those who watched the debat found that 51% of those polled thought Obama did the better job in Friday night's debate, while 38% said John McCain did better. However, CNN noted that more Democrats than Republicans watched the debate. (Perhaps Republicans felt as I do about the debates.)

In any case, McCain is trailing in the polls, and he needed something to shift the momentum. It appears that he failed in this mission.

One other thing that has to be noted is the fact that McCain flip-flopped on his vow not to attend the debates until the negotiations on bail out deal had been resolved. McCain wanted to appear to be some type of major player in their resolution. He failed on that mission also, and had to go renege on his vow.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Is McCain Becoming The Issue In This Race?

Does Obama have the cooler head?
A truism of politics is that when a candidate becomes "the issue" in race, in other words, when a candidate's personality or credibility comes into question, then the race is over, and the candidate has lost.

John McCain is perilously close to becoming a major issue in this campaign due to his recent antics in regards to our country's financial crisis. By his seemingly impetutous decision to suspend his campaign and insert himself into the negotiations between the White House and congressional leaders, he has raised questions regarding his judgment and his temperment. This quote fairly sums up my impression of what McCain has demonstrated about himself:
"It just proves his campaign is governed by tactics and not ideology. In the end, he blinked and Obama did not. The 'steady hand in a storm' argument looks now to more favor Obama, not McCain... My guess is that plasma units are rushing to the McCain campaign as we speak to replace the blood flowing there from the fights among the staff."
-- Former McCain adviser Craig Shirley, quoted by the Huffington Post.

The question the American people need to be asking is, which person has demonstrated a cool head and steady nerves during this crisis? Who would they want to have at the helm of this country during those inevitable times when it seems that all hell has broken loose? Obama is the man for me.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

McCain Didn't Even Read Treasury Proposal

from Wire Services
Though Sen. John McCain says the nation's current financial crisis requires "all hands on deck" because "the whole future of the American economy is in danger," he admitted in an interview in Cleveland on Tuesday that he hadn't even read the Bush administration's proposed rescue plan that was unveiled over the weekend.

American Prayer

American Prayer (Barack Obama Video)from You Tube

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

2008 Republican Party Platform Opposes Bailouts

New GOP Logo?
from VoteFromAbroad.Org

"The Republican Party platform adopted 3 weeks ago explicitly opposes government bailouts of private companies. Here is the exact quote (from the section "Rebuilding Homeownership"):
We do not support government bailouts of private institutions. Government interference in the markets exacerbates problems in the marketplace and causes the free market to take longer to correct itself. We believe in the free market as the best tool to sustained prosperity and opportunity for all.

"This plank in the GOP platform is not controversial within the party. Republicans have always believed that when companies make bad business decisions the market will punish them and this is the deterrence for future companies to think through their decisions carefully. The problem now is the utter hypocrisy of throwing overboard a principle Republicans have held dear for a century. If (big) companies lose the fear of bankruptcy because they expect the government to bail them out, they will take unconscionable risks in the future. Maybe somebody should send Henry Paulson a copy of the Republican platform."
The GOP is being hoisted on its own petard.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Thanks to my friend Shauna Struby

I sent out my questions I posted yesterday to my friends, and Shauna saying she had heard it this way:
They Privitize the Profits and Socialize the Losses.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Why?


Why do businesses want the government to leave them alone until they get themselves into so much trouble they come running for help?

Why are individual citizens on welfare irresponsible, but businesses on welfare are victims of a bad economy?

Why is it Socialistic for the government to take over the failing health industry, but not for the government to take over the failing banking industry?

Someone explain this to me.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Obama and McCain Tax Plans Compared

from VotefromAbroad.Org

Each of the candidates has a tax plan, but they differ quite a bit. Here is a chart showing the plans. McCain's plan focuses tax cuts on upper-income taxpayers. Obama's focuses them on lower-income taxpayers. However, with the government about to spend something like $1 trillion to buy nonperforming mortgages, it is unlikely the new President will have a lot of budget room left for tax cuts of any magnitude unless they are offset by tax increases of the same magnitude. In that respect, Obama's plan might be doable since it is budgetarily neutral, raising taxes on the rich by as much as it cuts taxes for the middle class. McCain's plan cuts taxes for everyone and thus reduces federal revenue and increases the budget deficit.
from The Washington Post
Read the entire Washington Post article here.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Community Organizers vs Governors

"Wasn't Jesus a Community Organizer and Pilate a Governor?"--e-mail response on NPR's "Diane Rehm Show" to Palin's acceptance speech at the RNC in which she praised governors and mocked community organizers.
1st Century Community Organizer
First Century Governor

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Jim Roth Catches a Hit and Run Suspect

Jim Roth, Corporation Commissoner and crime fighter
Jim Roth, Oklahoma Corporation Commission, helped to apprehend a driver after the man allegedly fled the scene of an accident he caused. Roth told reporters that he saw a man rear end a car driven by a woman while Roth was traveling on NW 23rd Street near Ollie Ave. The woman's car then rear ended another vehicle. The man causing the accident tried to drive away, but Roth followed and caught up with him. Roth then blocked the fleeing driver's car. Roth then called 911 and the police

For a complete story use the following link from the NewsOK.com web site

Jim is running in a special election for a full term on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. The Commission is charged with regulating utiliites and consumer rates in Oklahoma. Gov. Henry appointed Roth to replace Denise Bode who resigned from the Commission in 2007. Prior to his appointment, Roth served as one of Oklahoma County's Commissioners.

Lil' Obama Supporter

Jaida Ship
Last night, I went to our Oklahoma Centennial Bison football game against a team from Empire, Oklahoma. Attending the game was Jaida Shipp and her mother Crystal Shipp. I asked Crystal for permission to take a picture of Jaida wearing a Barrack Obama basketball jersey. Crystal graciously gave me permission.
As you can tell Jaida is an eager poser.

BTW, Centennial won the game 44-20!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Palin attacks McCain?


In her speech at the RNC, Palin attacked the "Washington elite." I guess she had in mind the man who is running at the head of her ticket. I mean, really, who is the "elitist" in the presidential race this fall? A man raised by a single, working mother and her family who succeeded by his own talents and intelligence? Or is it the man who divorced a wife who remained faithful to him during his long absence and married into money? A man who owns more homes than he can remember? A man who believes that someone making $5 million a year is merely "middle class?" Come on. It's time that we realize who is a member of the "elite" and which party has been looking out for the elite for the past 8 years.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sarah's Palin Husband, Todd, Long Time Member of Alaska Independence Party

The "Alaska Independence Party" advocates that Alaska ought to succeed from the United States and become an independent nation. There has been a rumor that Gov. Palin at one time was a member of the party, but that doesn't seem to be the case. She does have ties to the party through her husband, Todd who once belonged to the party for several years but is not registered as "independent" or "undeclared."
Todd Palin, Longtime Former AIP Member

Meet Sarah "Pork Barrel" Palin

More reports are coming in about Sarah Palin's past political activities. One of the more interesting ones is the fact that as mayor of a town of only 6,700 souls, she managed to get over $27 million from the Federal government. This dispite the her present claim that she abhors "Pork Barrel" spending by the Feds.

From the Washington Post:
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin employed a lobbying firm to secure almost $27 million in federal earmarks for a town of 6,700 residents while she was its mayor, according to an analysis by an independent government watchdog group.

There was $500,000 for a youth shelter, $1.9 million for a transportation hub, $900,000 for sewer repairs, and $15 million for a rail project -- all intended to benefit Palin's town, Wasilla, located about 45 miles north of Anchorage.


According to MSNBC:
As mayor of Wasilla, however, Palin oversaw the hiring of Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh, an Anchorage-based law firm with close ties to Alaska's most senior Republicans: Rep. Don Young and Sen. Ted Stevens, who was indicted in July on charges of accepting illegal gifts. The Wasilla account was handled by the former chief of staff to Stevens, Steven W. Silver, who is a partner in the firm.

Of course, in politics, if I get it, its "needed funding for the good of the community." If you get it, it's "Pork Barrel Politics."

Monday, September 01, 2008

Working with Gustav Evacuees in OKC

About 9:30 this morning, my friend Barbara Royce called and asked if Cat and I could help with the effort to shelter people coming up from Louisianna ahead of Hurricane Gustav. Barbara is the United Way, Labor Liaison. We told her that we could, so we went down to the old abandoned Lucent plant on the west side of the city where about 1800 evacuees arrived by bus and by car.

Cat ended up on the serving line, and I mostly stood around and helped to answer whatever questions I could. Ramona, Cat's sister who is staying with us for a while, came also to help serve.
Car from Louisianna drives into the Lucent parking lot.
Evacuees line up to be served food.
Cat works in the serving line.

Did Sarah Palin flip-flop on "The Bridge to Nowhere?"


In here introduction as McCain's pick as his running mate, Gov. Sarah Palin had this to say about the infamous Alaska "Bridge to Nowhere" decried as an example of Pork Barrel spending at its worst. She claimed, "I told 'Congress thanks, but no thanks,' on that 'Bridge to Nowhere.' If our state wanted a bridge, I said, we'd build it ourselves."

But let's look at that claim. On August 29, 2008, she says she told Congress "no thanks" on money for the bridge. But what did she actually say at the time? It took a bit of digging, her office's press release from September 21, 2007 paints a much different picture.

"Ketchikan desires a better way to reach the airport, but the $398 million bridge is not the answer," said Governor Palin. "Despite the work of our congressional delegation, we are about $329 million short of full funding for the bridge project, and it's clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island," Governor Palin added. Source of Quote

"Despite the work of our congressional delegation?"But didn't she tell "ongress no thanks!"Still, this could be interpreted as "he congressional delegation wanted it, but I didn't."So let's go earlier for a quote. October 22, 2006, Palin was asked:

Would you continue state funding for the proposed Knik Arm and Gravina Island bridges?"

Her response was solid:

Yes. I would like to see Alaska's infrastructure projects built sooner rather than later. The window is now - while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist." Source of Quote

The implication is clear. Governor Palin wanted Alaska's congressional delegation to get Federal funding for the Bridge to Nowhere. When they were unable to secure full funding, she canceled the project, willing only to spend Federal money on the bridge, not State money.

(My thanks to Stan Simpson for this report.)