Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The America I Could Love

As I wade through the refuse on the way to the primaries, I have been doing a lot of thinking about what direction I'd like to see our country take.
It seems to me that in order for a country to be a major world power and respected internationally that their priorities ought to be; (1.) educated citizens, (2.) healthy citizens, (3.) decent housing for all citizens. If we are going to borrow money from China don't you think we should make sure that we get the most value for our money?
I am tired of sending my taxes to a government that wants to use them to kill people.
I was watching Nova last night on PBS and the topic was the restoration of the Parthenon. They had found some ancient stones left in the rubble that were actually lists of expenditures made with public funds. Since Greece was a democracy, the posting of these lists was a law.
How far has the American democracy deviated from these standards!
It is no secret to those around me that I would like the United States to become more of a socialized country. We already pay farm and timber subsidies, so why not medical and educational?
Top notch educations for free or nearly free would make our citizens a force to be reckoned with. Those that do not want to go to college could still benefit from national health insurance. If we all had access to medical care, there would be more folks willing to take lower paying jobs that have no benefits.
Why don't our citizens deserve a home to go to? Why are our mentally ill forced to live on the streets? Are we all so caught up in trying to improve our personal lives that we forget about our own village?
Just, thinkin'...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Creepin' Oldies!

I turned 50 in 2007. I found it to be quite a shock and much more difficult than my 30th or 40th birthdays. I have a feeling that 60 will be easier.
So, why the difference? Well, mentally I've never gotten much past 16 anyway. I now have two grandchildren. My oldest son turned 30 last May. I'm beginning to look A LOT like my mother who, as you know, has always been old. And I hurt in places I didn't know could hurt and am willing to discuss it with anyone that asks. (I have a male colleague who always says that he's stiff in all the wrong places!)
My politics have creeped from the left to the far left. Was it in "Annie Hall" that Woody Allen talks about the woman with a shopping bag that stands on the corner screaming about Socialism? While I don't usually carry a shopping bag I do have a purse that contains my entire life. If I were marooned on a desert island (or more likely here, snowbound) I could survive on its contents. There are currently 5 different types of medicine, two spiral notebooks to remind me of my bright ideas and passwords to various Internet sites, a huge wallet, 4 pens, a box of Gobstoppers, a check book, and a nail buffer. If my granddaughters are visiting there is no limit to what I might be carrying around. What I don't have is a cell phone. I really don't like to talk on the phone unless I initiate the call. Also cell phones are complicated and I feel dumb.
My taste in music places me anywhere from ages 40 to 80 in terms of preference. My taste in movies is definitely skewed to the oldies; Dodsworth, The Treasure of Sierra Madre, The Grapes of Wrath... I also appreciate the outrageous; Mystery Science Theatre 3000, South Park, The Simpsons, Futurama, the Naked Gun series, Young Frankenstein. Also, the unintentionally bad; The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand wrote the script!), a Summer Place...
You might catch me reading anything from "The God Delusion" to "Little House in the Big Woods".
As for sex appeal, I wish I'd have taken advantage of that when I was 17. I spent my 20's, 30's and 40's being frumpy and now am trying to release my inner hippy. I don't know which is less attractive. Working as a receptionist has helped but we live in a pretty casual "anything goes" kind of town that few people dress up in.
Oh for a time machine that would allow us to go back and be young but know the things we know now!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

"Independent" Oregonians Brainwashed by Phillip Morris B.S.

Well, once again, big tobacco has had it's way. A chance for the citizens of Oregon to act like humans and fund children's health care with an increase in the cigarette tax was soundly defeated through ignorance and $12,000,000 worth of propaganda from the tobacco giants. Think of how many truly needy children that $12,000,000 would have helped.

I am a 5th generation Oregonian. My ancestors arrived in this state in 1847. My gggg grandfather, Robert Young, was the kind of free-thinking rabble rouser that thoroughly scares the neo-cons. Oregon was built by folks like him. They were the predecessors of the Tom McCall's and Mark Hatfield's and Wayne Morse's that followed.

I also have to point a finger at the lack of responsible journalism that has been the standard fare for the last 6 years (at least). Recently I saw a clip of an old newscast by Walter Chronkite and the contrast between news reporting then (1980) and now was striking to say the least. There was none of the editorializing, tiptoeing around the issues, or kowtowing to sponsors that we've all grown used to, just straight reporting. It was an amazing contrast to the Fox "National Enquirer-esque" news propaganda. Thank you, Washington, for repealing the fairness doctrine!

Anyway, nearly a trillion dollars for the invasion is acceptable but a drop in the bucket for children's health care is "too expensive".

A few months ago when this same tax was proposed by the governor, it was quashed by, among others, state representative Greg Smith. I wrote an email to Mr. Smith letting him know how disappointed I was by his actions. He wrote back telling me that this tax would be "unfair to smokers". I wrote back and told him that he shouldn't let the tobacco companies do his thinking for him. He denied this. Neo-cons are always more concerned about funding for their next campaign than actual people.

It must be wonderful to live in a country that covers the health needs of everyone. Just think of the amount of stress it would remove from our lives to know that, when old age came, we wouldn't be making a choice between medicine or food.

Last weekend my 25 year old daughter (insurance went bye-bye at age 24 and due to her health history we aren't able to even buy her any) tripped in a sauna and fell onto the hot rocks. Her arm has 3rd degree burns from her shoulder to her elbow. When she came to show us what had happened, she was practically in tears, not from pain, but because she was concerned about burdening us with payments to the hospital. Obviously, this was not our primary concern but it broke my heart to see her worrying. Just a couple weeks ago as Generalissimo Bush vetoed the s-chip legislation he made mention of tax payers having to foot the bill for "children" up to age 25. His tone was quite disdainful. He apparently never considered chronically ill or injured older children whose treatment could very well be monetarily beyond the reach of even 2 parents with full time employment. Republicans never really have empathy for any situation that does not directly effect them.

You may ask, why doesn't this young woman have a job that provides some kind of health care? She's looked. It could be because the price of health insurance premiums have gone up 500+% in the last 11 years based on what my husband pays. In 1996 we were insuring 7 people for about $200 a month. We now are insuring 4 people for over $1000 a month. This same increased premium no longer covers the same blood pressure medication it covered 3 years ago. From the tone of the agent I spoke to I might as well be requesting payment for botox treatments!

I say, let's stop skirting the issue with PC terminology. Don't ask your representatives in the government for "universal health care". Demand socialized medicine. If they have a problem with it, demand to know why. Remind them that their job is to represent you. Demand that they do it.

Become like the pioneers.

Friday, October 5, 2007

First Ammendment Rights in the Military Shorn Away With the Hair

We received a call from our daughter-in-law Haley last night telling us that our son Joel had safely arrived at his base to begin his enlistment with the Navy. She was told that his family would not be allowed to write to him until he has permission for them to do so. Someone with a uniform and a Napoleon complex stood by his shoulder and told him exactly what to say. Haley said that she could tell that Joel was surprised and unhappy with this turn of events. Obviously this is not what the jolly recruiter sells to young folks looking for a way to pay school loans and earn a steady pay check. In fact, it occurs to me that this is why the Bush administration won't spent any money for education; it's a good way to beef up the military through desperation.
My father was a Marine recruiter for nearly all of my life with him. (He died in a single car accident when I was 16, a result of his intoxication. He was an alchoholic from the time of his return from Vietnam until his death.) In the last few years of his life he switched his "MO" to corrections and was a warden at the brig at the Marine Corp Training Depot in San Diego. I remember clearly his fretting over meeting his monthy quota. They sell a good line of bull and laugh with each other about it. Don't get me wrong, I still love my dad and miss him desperately. He never got to meet a single one of his grandchildren or see me graduate from high school or walk me down the aisle when I was married. I am now 9 years older than he was when he died. I have been married for 12 more years than my parents were. But, I sure understand his need to self medicate.
I know that boot camp is all about turning individuals into a unit. They do this by breaking down the individual and blanket punishment meant to either bring together or tear apart the group. (My father was a drill instructor fro a brief time when I was very young.) Their reasoning is that the robots need to be able to follow orders without question. At times, if the commander is a decent one, it could mean the difference between life and death. It also takes away from each and every one of the human beings in the unit.
One of the possitive things about my father's death is it took me away from a military base setting and put me into a situation where I learned to question, ALWAYS question, authority. My background of being raised to consider the group made me aware that there was a huge segment of the population that was not being represented by the government in charge. I saw through the lies we were being told. I understood the effort the government was making to generate fear and paranoia. The only difference between then and now is that then Communists were coming to get us, now it's terrorists. So much bull shit.
I was reading on Truthout ( this morning an article from the Seattle Post Intellegencer about Ehren Watada, a young man that was able to hang on to enough of his individuality to refuse to be deployed to Iraq. He considers the invasion illegal, which it is. Are we having fun now, supporting illegal actions by our government with our tax dollars? Also, we can pay to prosecute a young man who is brave enough to point out the hypocrisy and immorality of it all.
My guess is that Joel was kept from actually having a conversation because of the embarassing revelations made by those darned soldiers that tattled to the world about abuse, torture, rape and other injustices commited in the name of "not having to fight this war on our soil". I hope my Joel will become one of the tattlers. He is bright and articulate and I hope that he takes careful note of everything that goes on.
In the mean time I complain on at least monthly basis to the powers that be. One of my favorite whipping boys is U. S. Rep. Greg Walden from our district. This guy apparently has had a microchip implanted by the Bushies. If it's morally repusive, he'll support it. About two weeks ago there was an article in our local paper that had Rep. Walden whining about the lack of Federal funding for one of his pet projects. I couldn't just shut up. I emailed and asked him where he thought the Federal tax dollars were all going. No response.
Anyway, keep a positive thought for the loved ones of those who have made the stupid choce of enlisting in the military. Stupid or not we love them anyway. And if you have the chance remind everyone that the first ammenment still is in effect unless there was a "judicial opinion" to the contrary!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Action Instead of Prayer

Last night from 7:30 to midnight there was a prayer vigil at my soon to be former place of employment in remembrance of the terror acts of 9/11/01. There is a member here (bi-polar and crazier than a loon...I know, I know, we all have issues, but she doesn't take her meds and is a royal pain!) who always organizes these things. She feels as if , having done this, she's done her part for God and humanity and can go along with her business.
As the pastor is sleeping in this morning I had time to contemplate the effectiveness of a prayer vigil. As an atheist I realize my point of view is anything but objective.
My feeling is that the payer vigil most serves the one on his or her knees, and not in a altruistic way. It is a huge self-serving waste of time and in the case of an evening service, electricity.
I know that human beings appear to be hard-wired to form a belief system. At the time of my spiritual journey I would get a buzz from attending a church service just from the gathering of sympathetic souls with a common goal. My opinion now is that common goal was to make ourselves feel good.
In my five years as secretary of a fairly liberal denomination I've learned that any attempt at dealing with social concerns in a practical way soon falls by the wayside because nobody wants to do more than "pray". This is certainly understandable from the point of view of the elderly members but interestingly enough, they are the most motivated to go that extra mile.
The former pastor told me that the 70-90 year old women who attended afternoon Bible study were game to discuss anything. I believe that age can make you realistic and proactive. Time is a factor. Fear of what others will think is less of a concern.
I do not have a wide experience of churches but this church only talks big. They are the laziest, stingiest group of "Christians" I've ever encountered. The problem is the "big talk" is still drawing in the area liberal, would-be, activists who still have a shred of spirituality thinking that this church is where the action is.
There is no action here.
Why didn't someone work just as hard setting up a fund for the uninsured or under insured that have been effected by breathing the toxic fallout from ground zero? Our government isn't doing it and other funds don't cove enough. Why not college educations for all of the families left behind by 9/11 and the travesty in Iraq. Send money to or Truthout or Truthdig or any of the sources of real journalism left in America.'s easier to pray, pat ourselves on the back and say "I've earned my place in heaven now".

Monday, August 27, 2007

When to Say "When"

I've made the difficult decision this week to resign from my church post. Having been the church secretary for five years, I've been there longer than the pastor. When the church had no pastor, I was there every day, week after week, for several months doing my job, publishing a weekly bulletin and a monthly newsletter.
Last Thursday I was ambushed at a job evaluation. I sat down with the church pastor and our Staff-Parish Relations chair and was completely flattened by what they had to say.
I think I am pretty realistic about my limitations. I filled out a form pertaining to my performance. I didn't give myself all "excellent" marks. I jotted down areas where improvements could be made.
The next thing I know I'm being assaulted with what a terrible job I'm doing. Funny thing is, I work two part time jobs. I give equal effort to both positions. At my afternoon receptionist job (that I've had for 5 months) I've received two raises, invitations to office functions and lots of praise. The afternoon job is much more hectic and complicated. How can I be perceived so differently?
Well, I guess I really can't be. The folks in the afternoon have wanted me to come on 3/4 time for quite awhile and I'm going to take them up on it. I don't need the aggravation.
You should NEVER be surprised at a job evaluation. If that happens, it means that your manager/boss has not been communicating with you. As problems come up, you should be hearing about them.
This didn't happen to me. I take pride in the job I do. I cried. I wrote a letter of resignation. (Did I mention that it's been 4 years since the church gave me a raise?)
I'd love to hear from others that had this happen to them. Cry on my shoulder. Tell me what you did. Share with me your cleverly worded resignation letters or speeches. I'm waiting!