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Pacifist Patriot's Journal - Archives
Posted by Pacifist Patriot in General Discussion
Mon Oct 17th 2011, 08:11 PM
A man who could have been anywhere from 30-50 was standing on the corner in 85 degree heat holding a sign that said, "just hungry." I rolled down my window, beckoned him over and gave him the three dollars I had on me. He smiled and said, "God bless you" and the light turned green.

I turned left under the overpass where it's two lanes headed west. The car that had been behind me on the exit ramp pulls up on my left as we stop at the next set of lights. The woman waves over at me so I rolled down my window assuming she was going to either ask for directions or ask if I'll let her over into my lane so she can take a right soon.

She started screaming, "What the hell do you think you're doing?! You realize he's just going to go get drunk or high, right? That's all we need is more bums on that corner!"

I was planning on ignoring her and rolling my window back up but then noticed the big chunky cross swinging from the rear view mirror.

I smiled sweetly and said, "What am I doing? I'm sitting here thanking Jesus I have the good fortune to have a few bucks in my wallet so I could help out one of God's children in need. What have you done in the Lord's name today?"

Okay, this was NOT my finest hour...considering I'm a non-theist. And no, I do not think all Christians behave as this woman did. Not remotely. But if she's going to advertise herself as a Christian with a public display of her faith and have the gall to lecture me against charity? I'm going to call her on it. I felt a wee bit less guilty when she squealed out of there and I saw the Catholic Radio station bumper sticker on the back of her car (a decidedly conservative station), the Choose Life license plate, and the Mario Rubio campaign sticker in the window.

Anyone surprised she was driving a Mercedes 550?

Okay, now that I've probably irritated enough people with generalizations I'll just say I'm so weary, so very very weary with respect to a lack of compassion. So yes, I'm lashing out at this one woman, but no, I'm not assuming anything about Christians in general or Mercedes drivers. Bleached blondes with bad face lifts? Yeah okay, I'll be harsh there.

I really hope the 99% movement continues to raise awareness with respect to human dignity. Thanks for humoring my rant.
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Posted by Pacifist Patriot in General Discussion
Thu Oct 06th 2011, 08:11 AM
I don’t for one moment honestly believe anyone who is paying attention can fail to grasp the message in the Occupy Wall Street movement. There may be an absence of identifiable leadership in terms of a charismatic speaker addressing a million people massed at the steps of the Lincoln memorial, but that can’t be confused with the lack of a coherent message. The problem lies with being unable to fully express that message on a bumper sticker, in a ten second sound bite or within the average attention span of the people who really need to hear it. There is no slogan and quite frankly, I don’t think there should be. It’s bigger than that.

I’ll try to articulate what I believe to be the primary goal in the broadest terms possible, but even that will leave certain individuals scratching their heads. Either because they don’t get it or they want a detailed plan.

The 99% want an economy and power structure that affirms human dignity, not one that denies and destroys it.

As a community minister, most of my ministry is done outside the four walls of a place of worship. My job is to meet people where they are. Consequently, I serve religious people of many faiths, the “spiritual, but not religious” and yes, even the non-religious. I am both a non-denominational minister and a no-denominational minister. I am called upon to provide a non-anxious presence at a time when anxiety is all someone knows. As you can imagine, I’m a very busy woman these days.

I have watched three people die of cancer this year, one woman lasting less than 160 days from diagnosis to death. She and her husband own a small business and a modest home. Had she lasted much longer, both the home and the business would have been lost to financial ruin. Imagine grief compounded with relief the financial pressure of terminal illness didn’t result in homelessness and five people losing their jobs. The other two families were not as “lucky.”

The 99% want to know they are not one catastrophic illness away from losing everything they’ve worked for and the hope they have for their future.

Earlier this summer I had to invoke mandatory reporting for the first time. I had been ministering to a family in which the father had been jobless for almost three years. I’ve seen his depression grow exponentially worse despite the love and support of an extended family network. He began expressing the feeling his family would be better off dead than living like this. I felt real fear a family annihilator might be sitting before me. There was no psychiatric help available to him after the initial admission and assessment. At least nothing a family in this situation can afford.

The 99% want to know the odds of being in this situation themselves are astronomically low, but if it is, they can get help.

Last spring I sat up with a young girl for hours the night before her high school graduation. She hadn’t eaten in several days and couldn’t stop crying. She was terrified of the “real world.” She had everything in order to begin college in the fall….including student loans. She knew her parents were also taking out a home equity line of credit to help with her tuition and living expenses. She also knew her brother who would be graduating from college in December owed over $30,000 in student loans already and was beginning to panic over getting a job in order to pay them back because his friends who’d graduated that spring were all jobless save one.

The 99% want their children to go off to college with a sense of excitement and optimism, not trepidation and despair.

About this time last year, a couple who had booked me to officiate their wedding ceremony called a few weeks before to ask about scaling it down. Way down. They had been living with his mom whom they just learned was being foreclosed on. She had hidden her financial problems from them because she did not want to ruin their big day. The mother had purchased the house at the height of the market when she had a job that would easily cover the mortgage. Since purchasing the house, her take home pay has been reduced more than 30% because of both pay cuts and increases in employee contributions to benefits. All three would be homeless in a matter of months. Could they just come over to my house and have a private elopement? That huge wedding they had to scale back had consisted of a BBQ for 30 at a municipal park.

The 99% want a better life for their children than they had, not a harder one.

I visit a young man in the county jail who has been sitting there for over a year waiting for his case, a non-violent offense, to come to trial. One of the charges has been dropped, the other was supposed to have been tried last January, but keeps getting delayed. He’s seen his public defender twice. He is over a thousand dollars in debt to the county because they charge you for a portion of the expense of your incarceration. He is estranged from his family and as an inmate he’s obviously unemployed. Exactly how is he to pay this debt?

The 99% want a pragmatic justice system and to never become victim of an industrial prison complex.

I drive shut-ins to the polls on election days. Each election cycle I’ve been getting fewer and fewer requests. I called a few right before the mid-terms last year only to hear repeatedly, “why bother, my vote is not going to be counted properly anyway.”

The 99% want an election system where they don’t just feel their vote counts, they know it does.

I have ministered to returning vets who have been unimaginably damaged, physically, emotionally and psychologically by their experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq. I have ministered to victims of bullying in inadequately staffed nursing homes. I have ministered to government employees laid off because of budget cuts in what most of us would consider essential services. I have ministered to children who will never experience a stable home because our social services are a strange and tangled network of government and NGOs struggling to cooperate with one another, but often constrained by regulations and mandates.

The 99% want to know they are valued for who they are and what they do whether its collecting your garbage, teaching your kids or performing surgery on your spouse.

This is about human dignity and power. When 1% control the wealth, and consequently the power, is it any wonder human dignity is suppressed? No one denies the profit motive is a valid incentive. Businesses do need to make a profit to remain in business. It’s the disparity folks. When a CEO makes over 350 times what his average employee earns, and yes, it is most likely to be a he, that’s wrong. When a corporation makes record profits without paying taxes on their earnings, that’s wrong. When banks engage in predatory lending practices, charge exorbitant fees and accept bailout money without passing along the financial relief to their customers, that’s wrong. When funding war and destruction goes without question while social programs are dismantled, that’s wrong.

This isn’t just an economic and political issue, it’s a moral and ethical one.

Why? Because of the families grieving for their sick and dying loved ones, the people concerned about providing for their families, the students deserving the hope that should come naturally in youth, the faceless and nameless who are callously brushed off as “the dregs” of society.

Because the 99% are human beings, and with that comes the inherent worth and dignity to love and be loved—to speak and to be heard—to share in the task of raising up themselves and their neighbors, not being used to prop up the 1%.

Human Dignity

Should it really be this hard for a democratic society to achieve?
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Posted by Pacifist Patriot in Florida
Mon Mar 28th 2011, 07:41 AM
I am extremely concerned about a current bill in committee that would force a woman to undergo an ultrasound prior to an abortion. I understand this would be the case even when it is not in the best judgment of her personal physician. Regardless of one's views on abortion, this is not an appropriate measure to take.

I looked at the composition of the Florida Senate Health Regulation Committee and only see two individuals who might have had personal experience with a transvaginal ultrasound. Due to a personal struggle with infertility, I have had countless ultrasounds of this type and can assure you it is an invasive medical procedure that should never be forced upon any woman if not considered medically appropriate by the attending physician.

While I would love to see a world with a 0% abortion rate, I would prefer that be because of a 0% unwanted pregnancy rate and 0% congenital defect rate. Investing in education and medical care for all woman would advance the cause of eliminating abortion far more effectively than state-sanctioned rape, which is what forcing a transvaginal ultrasound amounts to. I realize that sounds melodramatic, but again, I speak from experience.

I am grateful I have never had the personal trauma of deciding whether or not to terminate a pregnancy, either because the child was unwanted or not viable, but I have provided pastoral care for those who have. It is never ever a decision made lightly no matter what some far right wing pundits would have their listeners or viewers believe. I cannot imagine the compounding effect SB 1744 would have on the women in our state who are faced with such a heart-wrenching decision.

Please leave such matters between a woman and her health care provider. Our constitutional right to privacy would ask no less.

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Posted by Pacifist Patriot in GLBT
Tue May 26th 2009, 06:08 PM
Religious institutions have no legal authority to render a couple married in the eyes of the law. None. Nada. Bupkus.

In the United States, marriage has always been a civil contract under state statute, with the exception of that horrific piece of legislation passed by Congress in 1996. But even so, it still is a contract governed solely and exclusively by civil law.

This is one reason why I detest the idea of civil unions for everyone and then letting the religious institutions marry whomever they want.

No way!

Language is important and this distinction grants religious bodies authority over a powerful historical institution they do not currently have.

This is about equal protection under the law. Religious groups having the power to abridge civil rights should be anathema to every single American.

Say it with me again. The power and authority of religious institutions neither grows nor shrinks when marriage equality is granted. Their position in the role of marriage remains utterly unchanged.

Clergy are witnesses, nothing more and nothing less. If they don't want to be a witness to a particular marriage contract they don't have to be.
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Posted by Pacifist Patriot in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Mon Dec 22nd 2008, 09:02 AM
The first thing to understand is that marriage is marriage. A couple is either legally married or they are not.

If we're going to discuss how the state should be involved in marriage than we need to understand what we are talking about. A little history lesson doesn't hurt from time to time, but I'm not stepping up to the podium on that one. If you are interested at all, I highly recommend two authors. Their books are fascinating in their own right. What is Marriage For?: The Strange Social History of Our Most Intimate Institution by E. J. Graff and any and all of Stephanie Coontz's books.

I have noticed a bit of confusion about the legal process regarding marriage. Not surprising since most of us, if we go through it at all, usually do it less than a handful of times.

Here is how it works with a few minor differences depending on the state. For example, my state is one of the three that permits a notary public to solemnize a marriage but clearly that doesn't impact the overall process outlined below.

1. Couple decides they want to spend the rest of their lives together.
2. Couple decides whether or not they want to do that in the context of a legal marriage.
3. Couples who decide to get married go to the state and apply for a marriage license.
4. State issues a valid Marriage License after receipt of a fee. (actual amount depends upon state and can sometimes be a serious impediment for the impoverished - Thanks for the reminder TechBear)
5. Couple chooses who is going to marry them.
6. Couple exchanges vows in front of their officiant.
7. Officiant declares them to be married.
8. Officiant signs marriage license and files it with the state.
9. State certifies the license.

Couple is legally married.

Notice there is not a single mention of religion in the process. Religion becomes involved at steps 3-7, but is not required. If the couple wants their marriage to be solemnized in the context of a religious ceremony or with the blessing of a particular member of the clergy, they may choose to do so. The clergy or denomination has the option at that point to either agree or turn them away. The couple needn't bother with religion at all and get married by a secular officiant.

It doesn’t matter if the marriage ceremony is performed in a catholic cathedral, a conservative temple, a methodist church, a UU fellowship, the little chapel of Elvis, over the kitchen sink or on the beach. Whether or not the couple is legally married has everything to do with that little piece of paper issued by the state and absolutely nothing to do with where their vows were witnessed.

States do have laws governing who can and cannot solemnize the vows and sign the license for legal purposes. While clergy are always on the list, it doesn’t stop there. Depending upon your state you can be married by a justice of the peace, town mayor, notary public, certified officiant, judge, etc. But it is that piece of paper, a Marriage License, that makes you married in the eyes of the law. Period.

Now since clergy and religious bodies already have (and have long had) the right to decide whom they will and will not marry, the problem obviously lies somewhere else. Back at step 2. Some of us have the freedom to make that choice while others have it legally denied them. Can anyone tell me how that is not discrimination? Can someone tell me why religion should have any influence over step 2?

As an aside, I wish we could dump the phrase “gay marriage.”

If we have "gay marriage," what is mine "heterosexual marriage?" No, it's simply a marriage. So I refuse to use the term. This is an issue that includes both civil rights and social norms. Sometimes legislating for civil rights precede and act as an impetus for shifts in social norms. So when involved in conversations, I reverse word order and say “equal marriage rights for same-gender couples.” You may think I am being prickly and that is okay. This is a personal preference and not an imperial edict that everyone approach this as I do. I just think it is a phrase that better captures what my values are and why this is important to me.

Marriage has long been seen as a religious institution because so many people choose a religious context in which to solemnize their vows. However, it has never in our country ever been anything but a civil contract controlled by secular law and regulated by the state. As a hint, I'll mention those history books up there again. You might be surprised by what you learn. Even with my experience I was startled by a number of things about marriage through the years.

Bottom line, I will not stop until same gender couples have the same freedom of choice at step two as my husband and I did. It is morally right and in congruence with our secular values as a nation.



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Posted by Pacifist Patriot in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed Nov 05th 2008, 08:16 AM
They were relegated to non-human status yesterday. I can only interpret that way since they are not considered equal in the Florida constitution and as we all know Americans began with the proposition that all men (and women)were created equal. If they do not have equal protection under the law than they must not be human.

I cannot tell you how much the passage of this amendment has affected me both emotionally and physically.

After that moment of silence, please think of ways to fight back. We cannot allow religious extremists to force their cruel immorality into state governance. What do we do now?
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Well done, Senator. That is a gracious concession indeed.
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Posted by Pacifist Patriot in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Mon Nov 03rd 2008, 09:11 AM
In 2000 and 2004 we were encouraged to violate human dignity and be willing participants in legalizing discrimination.

Why? Because same sex marriage will cause harm to those of us who are in "traditional" (not exactly, but they obviously haven't read up on the history of marriage) heterosexual marriages. It will reduce the value of our relationships and somehow eradicate the sanctity of the marriage bond.

So for eight years we have been asking a simple question. How exactly?

Unable to come up with an answer they have changed the impetus to give religious and political extremists the power to constitutionally govern love and commitment.

Why should we violate human dignity and be willing participants in legalizing discrimination now?

Because same sex marriage will "hurt our children." I must once again demand an answer to a very simple and obvious question. How exactly?
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<Quite long, so grab a cup of coffee or tea...or just skip it all together if you don't have the patience today. Totally understand.>

I am not referring to mailing fraudulent voting instructions or other actions that point directly to the GOP. I am referring to the distribution of machines and/or booths, availability of polling stations, etc.

I can only describe the system in one county in Florida, but that too is an important point. Beyond federal and state statutes and regulations, Supervisors of Election have a fair number of decicions to make and they make them in different ways.

Most of the SOEs I have met were caring people who really and truly desired a fair, easy and short voting experience for their constituents. This is another important point. In my area they are elected rather than appointed, making them directly answerable to the very people they serve. Personally, I think the position should be non-partisan but you would likely still get people who more closely affiliate with a particular political party even if they cannot opening declare it. Suffice it to say, they are not all evil henchman at the beck and call of the GOP...or the Democrats for that matter.

Voting lines in areas of Florida have been widely reported as having extraordinarily long lines and some seem to think it a concerted effort to suppress the democratic vote in this state. Elsewhere I have attempted to make the point that the real reason for such lines is a stupid law, not an oppressive one that could have as easily affected the GOP as it has the Democrats. THE most important reason for these lines is the fact that Democrats and some Independents/NPA voters are astronomically more motivated to vote early than are Republicans. Let's face it. We have something to get excited about and they have the Cadaverick and his Gussied Up Barbie Doll.

Note: Our Republican governor issued an emergency order to extend early voting hours at the Supervisor of Election's office every day and extend weekend hours at the other early voting locations. He's also the one who restored voting rights to oodles of convicted felons. I suspect his party is seeing him as something of a maverick.

So moving past early voting, how can you tell if vote suppression is occuring on election day?

As I said, I can only describe the system in my county but that is exactly why each and every informed voter should inquire of the Supervisor of Election's office exactly how precincts are configured, polling places determined, machines and/or booths allocated and election day problems resolved. Keeping in mind this weekend is not the time to be asking these questions. These men and women will be working like dogs from Friday evening until at least Wednesday. They do not see their families much, if at all, and generally fall into a stupor once the election results are certified. Here's hoping your SOE website has all this pertinent information.

Okay, here's how it works in my county.

1. Precincts are based on population and historical data about registered voters per population. So while my precinct has not changed because of no new building in the area, other precincts have had to be created, eliminated, combined or redrawn.(This is not the same thing as districts which politicians love to tinker with in order to create safe constitutencies.)

2. Polling places are located within precincts and sometimes combined. My precinct shares a polling place with another precinct because the polling place is located on the border of our two precincts and no one has to drive more than three miles to vote. They are selected based on ability to serve as a polling place on election day (many of our polling places are in churches because they are understandably vacant on Tuesdays and have large areas that can accommodate the machines), their willingness to utilize the space, and located so that no voter has to drive a long distance to vote.

3. Machines & Booths Booths (we don't have touchscreen so when I refer to machine I'm referring to a tabulator) are allocated based on registered voters in a given precinct as well as a determination of likely voter turnout. I am going to use some patently made up figures to illustrate the point.

A. 1800 registered voters 4 booths
B. 1350 registered voters 3 booths
C. 900 registered voters 2 booths
D. 450 registered voters 1 booths

A booth is allocated using a formula something like the average vote time is 90 seconds and the average switch time between voters in 30 seconds. We're open 12 hours so each booth can safely handle 360 voters. Assuming an 80 percent turnout (unprecedented but accounted for) we could allocate one machine per 450 registered voters.

Such equations are not without their problems.
a) Voter registration may have surged after the booth allocation was determined, but before election day. (Though there is last minute number crunching over the weekend to try to address this.)
b) The county may simply not have the budget and the equipment to meet the goal of 450 registered voters per booth on election day. (Bad, bad, bad!)
c) Early voting may bring disproportionate numbers of voters out of the equation. Which as we well know would actually depress lines in strong democratic areas while rendering them the same in republican ones, giving a strange impression of vote suppression against the GOP who are now the ones standing in a bit of a line. *Shrug* Who knows?
d) Lines are inevitable because people do not arrive at the polling station in two minute increments. If a hundred people arrive close together and there are 10 booths there is going to be about a twenty minute wait for the guy who walked in the door last. However, there will be times throughout the day when it's virtually a walk-up.

Wah! This discrimates against democratic precincts. They'll have longer lines. Perhaps, but when you arrive at the polling place you are standing in line with Democrats, Republicans, Independents, NPAs, Green Party, Liberatrians, etc. If they are allocated on a proportional basis (rather than an even basis which is causing some problems with early voting) than line waits should be relatively even. It's GOTV and sadly the economic and educational demographics of a precinct that primarily account for uneven lines. However, our SOE also factors in variances in historical voter turnout to allocate booths. This was a move to provide more booths to alleviate wait times in areas with higher voter turnout, but that attempt to solve a problem may very well backfire this year, at least initially in the day.

4. Election Day Problems In my county, as mentioned above, spare machines are kept in reserve and moved as quickly as possible to a precinct reporting a down or spazzy tabulator. Generators are provided at all polling places. While our form of voting does not absolutely require power, it does help to be able to actually see the ballot, so lights are deemed a necessity. And then you've got the tabulators and the computers used by the elections officials. If a precinct feels it is underutilizing booths or a precinct feels it needs more booths they can call in their status and booths can be moved around the county. Tabulators are preconfigured for a particular polling station so if we run out of spare tabulators we're down to paper ballots (not such a bad thing).

In a very long nutshell, these are the four key things to inquire about before being able to assess if voter suppression is happening on the part of the elections officials.

This is NOT to say there won't be other problems. Vote flipping, tabulator manipulation, purged voter roles, badly trained election volunteers, confused voters who received a deceptive letter from the GOP in the guise of trying to be oh so helpful, etc. We absolutely must remain informed and vigilent and report errors as soon as they happen. We just need to make sure our focus is steady and rational.

Figure out WHY the lines are long before jumping to the conclusion it is because your SOE is the spawn of Satan and is out to get the Democrats. They cannot control when people arrive at the polls, the weather, a laptop or printer going on the blink. They can try to rectify or alleviate some problems, but they aren't divine.

If you feel the SOE has made some appalling decisions, either stupid or constituting vote suppression, find a voters advocacy group in your county. They will be able to help you make a strong and principled appeal to your county officials and beyond. Oh, and work on an opponent's campaign the next chance you have to toss the bastard out of office.

Cheers!

P.S. As you can probably see, the problem with the SOE in my county is not equitable distribution of polling stations, tabulators and booths. He seems to have a fair grasp on making the process as fast and easy as possible. Our problem is he is utterly clueless about security issues and just cannot grasp the dangers inherent in the tabulators. In my opinion, that is much much worse than having to stand in line for an hour. I'd rather stand in line and know my vote was counted properly than breeze in and out and wonder if the results are valid.

Edited to fix a formatting error.
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Some people are too shy, uncomfortable or in an inappropriate setting to directly confront a silly rumor or nasty right-wing meme they are confronted with or overhear.

I have made up a single page with helpful links. I have a few pages with me every where I go.

I respond or politely join a conversation I have overheard with, "Oh my, it sounds like old-fashioned politicking have gotten in the way of understanding the political candidates. If you are like most voters and want to make up your own mind rather than allow propaganda to make it for you, I have a list of really helpful non-partisan websites - except of course for their own official sites - that will really help you separate the outrageous lies from the real policy positions of both candidates." and then I hand them the sheet of paper. It is up to them whether they care to educate themselves or persist in being stupid gits.

---- Word Document Times New Roman 14pt .75" margins all the way around makes for a single page -----

The Truth Behind Internet Rumors and Cyber Mudslinging

Barack Obama
http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/obama...

McCain
http://www.snopes.com/politics/mccain/mcca...


Policies from the Candidate’s Official Websites

John McCain Issues
http://www.johnmccain.com/Informing/issues /

Barack Obama’s Blueprint for Change: Obama and Biden’s Plan for America
http://www.barackobama.com/pdf/ObamaBluepr...


Endorsements

John McCain http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_John_...

Barack Obama
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obama_endorse...


Campaign Fact Checking and Independent Policy Comparisons

Annenburg Political Fact Check
http://factcheck.org /

The Tax Foundation: Presidential Candidate Tax Plan Comparison
http://www.taxfoundation.org/candidates08 /

WCVB TV
http://www.thebostonchannel.com/presidenti...
Click “On The Issues” tab


Thanks for being an informed voter and not settling for party propaganda!
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I stole a McCain yard sign.

But there is more to the story. My neighborhood does not permit signs in yards so they have accummulated on a grassy knoll just outside the subdivision. My Obama sign has been stolen three times. Tonight I drove by and saw that not only was the Obama sign stolen, but a McCain one was put in it's place. So I pulled over just to check if once again they had simply thrown it into the woods. Nope, it was definitely gone. I couldn't help myself. I slipped the plastic McCain sign right off it's posts. It is now lining the cats' litter box.

Not my proudest moment. So I donated $2.00 to the McCain campaign.

WHAT?!

Yes I did. But this isn't necessarily bad news. I have purchased from the Obama store but have declined to donate directly in cash. Horribly irrational and superstitious, but every time I donate money to a candidate they lose. Yep, I have never in my life ever donated to the winning side. I am convinced my money is cursed.

So in one fell swoop I eased my conscience a little on the sign and doomed McCain to a resounding defeat.

Oooo, I hear scratching in the other room. Me thinks McCain's name may be in the process of being shat upon.
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Because not only is it a British newspaper it is owned by Rupert Murdoch.

An American Choice
Barack Obama has shown the character, intelligence and judgment to be president. He is the better candidate for the White House


It is for the American people to choose the next president of the United States. Anyone who is not a citizen should proffer advice on the question only with the greatest humility and tact. The price paid in money or in blood for the decisions of the president falls mainly, even if not exclusively, on Americans. And the nuances of political discussion, so important in selecting leaders, are often hard for outsiders to grasp.

Yet it would be naive to think that readers of a British newspaper have no stake in the outcome of the contest between Barack Obama and John McCain. Both the economic and the foreign policy of the of the White House incumbent have a big impact on other nations.
....

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/l...

My husband is in the newspaper business and has spent three of the last five weeks over in England. The editorial staff were thrilled when he told them their coverage of American national politics was better than what we see in our own newspapers. When I was over there a few weeks ago, as soon as someone discovered I was American, all they wanted to talk about was the presidential race. I've not seen it to this degree at any time in my past. Despite some racist nutter shooting a Londoner for wearing an Obama t-shirt, I think it's safe to say that if Obama were running in the UK, landslide would not be an adequate description for the margin of his win.

Granted, such an endorsement will probably never enter the consciousness of most Americans, but then most of the Americans I met while in England at the end of September (as the bailout debates and initial negative vote occurred) were there on business and were primarily backing McCain. I wonder if that has changed? And would their perusal of The Times while hunched over their morning coffee in the hotel Club rooms have any effect? Who knows, but I'm loving this endorsement anyway.

Cheers!
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Posted by Pacifist Patriot in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Mon Oct 13th 2008, 09:13 AM
He's eaten his breakfast, is splayed across my bed watching cartoons and in about thirty minutes will begin his school work. He loves legos, Aston Villa football, horsing around in the swimming pool and archery.

In thirty years he could conceivably be involved in charitable organizations. Heaven knows who will serve on the board with him. Might be a couple of rehabilitated Republicans with umpteen ethical censures and a smattering of corruption convictions behind them. Maybe a disgraced page diddler or two.

How strange would it be in thirty years to have his character defined by the criminal behavior of the GOP during the latter part of the previous century and the early years of this century?

See, it defies reason. Which means that anyone using the Ayers story to prop up McCain and the GOP, or anyone buying into the story to justify their voting Republican, is at a minimum unreasonable. But I will take it further. These individuals are utilizing the classic tactics of the witch hunt. They are tapping into the psyche of the homogenous community with an instinctual fear of difference. They are so damaged they are choosing hate as their lense through which to view the world.

I look at my sweet adorable eight year old boy who sees joy everywhere he goes. I don't ever want him to experience this hate, either from the inside or the outside. This is another reason why an Obama presidency is so important to me. It would truly be a visible example of triumph over hate. That is the world in which I want my son to thrive in thirty years.
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Posted by Pacifist Patriot in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Thu Oct 09th 2008, 10:41 PM
Like many of you, I do not have a degree in either Business Administration or Economics. I have a general grasp of the current financial and economic crisis, but I can't say I'd be able to assemble the jigsaw even with a nice graphic to assist me.

So I do what I can to educate myself and stay abreast of the situation. Unlike Sarah Palin, I am not able to read everything written each day. I listen to BBC World Service because they have had some excellent even-handed and coherent debates on the subject in recent weeks. I talk to my husband because he does have a degree in Business Administration. I read linked articles that have been deemed worthwhile reading here. I check for relevant sources fairly regularly to see if I stumble upon something that helps my understanding.

I'm sure that it must be mentioned somewhere, but I have noticed an astounding degree of silence about what I consider to be a significant variable in these complex equations. I have heard blame and responsibility placed at the feet of mortgage lenders who should have known better than to lend to high credit risks. I have heard blame and responsibility placed at the feet of borrowers who should have known better than to over-extend themselves. What I am not hearing is the impact of underemployment and unemployment.

While the plural of anecdote is not data, in every single foreclosure case with which I have personal awareness, (it's fairly extensive in my specific locale as a member of the clergy and having a close relative in the home building industry) not one could be considered an unreasonable credit risk at the time he or she obtained a mortgage. It was a pay cut or loss of job that resulted in the default on the loan. No one buys a house assuming they are going to have their job outsourced or the demand for their industry's products dry up.

I remember when my husband and I prequalified for our loan when we went house hunting in 2002. We howled when we got the letter. "Holy shit! They think we can afford that for a house?!" Like most reasonable people we did not take what the bank said at face value and had a budget that included such luxuries as food, clothing and an electric bill or two. So yes, I think the mortgage lenders were incredibly generous (euphemism for greedy) with their offer of extending credit. We knew what we could afford for a monthly payment based on our income and that's what we bought.

Now my family has been extremely fortunate. We have not only kept our jobs but have seen our income rise modestly each year. However, at the same time our income has increased in the 3-5% range, our monthly housing payment is the amount on the note plus an additional 25%. Our taxes and insurance in escrow has risen quite a bit. I doubt anyone buys a house and says, "Oh I bet we're going to have a monthly payment 125% higher than this in just a few year's time."

So when someone's housing payment is 125% of the original note and their income is now 60% because the company has had to cut their pay in order to stave off shutting the doors altogether, is it any wonder we have foreclosures?

I have no doubt that unregulated greedy predatory lending practices and irresponsible materialistic borrowing practices contribute greatly to our current crisis. I just want to speak up for those who lost their homes through absolutely no fault of their own. They do not deserve to be regarded as financial pariahs.



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Posted by Pacifist Patriot in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sat Oct 04th 2008, 08:25 AM
Obviously creditors have gone beyond skittish to outright panic.

My husband has a relatively common name. Over the past months we have been getting increasingly frequent credit collection calls at all hour of the day and night. Each time it has been for someone else. Same name, different birthday. Same name, different city. Same first and last name, different middle initial.

At first the overdue bills were months in arrears, than 60 days past. This morning at 8AM a credit collection agent called to collect a payment that was due ten days ago. It was not the company to whom he owed the money, it was definitely a collection agent.

Creditors and collection agencies are casting a wide net and throwing it out immediately in order to make sure they have their money coming to them. Make sure you know exactly what is on your credit report.

When you get a collection call and you know you don't owe anything ask the following questions.

1) Birthdate of the individual they want.
2) Address of the individual they want.
3) Creditor seeing payment.

They will give you this information. Heck, they'll give it to you if you say you're the spouse. Unlike if you call your own credit card company to tell the fraud office you'll be out of the country for two weeks and they insist on speaking to your husband because he's the primary card holder. (My husband was unreachable out of the country so I had my son call them. They didn't blink because it was a male voice with the correct security information.) But that's a rant for another day.

We all know it's crazy out there and it's only getting crazier. We should all be doing diligence to know our credit rights.

Cheers!
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