Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy New Year!

I’m finally back, but barely… least it would seem so….. as my blog will soon be moving to a different venue. When my URL changes, I’ll post that change here.

This has been ‘the winter that was’ for our family, one we’ll always remember. After surviving an as yet unnamed virus that laid me low for the entire summer and fall, it could only get better. Or so I thought. Then came reality. My youngest brother suffered multiple heart attacks, requiring some hospital time, an angioplasty and stent. A couple weeks later, my hubby had the same procedure for the same reason. Three days after that, I had surgery for a hernia and torn abdominal wall, apparently caused by all the retching and heaving during my prior illness. Almost immediately after I returned home, my older brother’s wife came down with what she thought was the flu. Ha! When she started upchucking black bile, off to the hospital she was taken.

During emergency surgery, a growth was found, growing from her appendix. This growth had twisted her intestines so that nothing could pass through. The surgeon removed the growth and appendix and all was well. Or so we thought. She developed breathing difficulties due to a rapid fluid build-up on her lungs, and her condition was not good at all. Their daughter, a nurse who lives in Illinois, made a quick trip to Iowa to check on her Mom. Once here, she started deep breathing exercises at once, which the hospital had been remiss in starting immediately after her surgery. What a difference those exercises made! Sister-in-law was finally able to come home the day before Christmas and is doing well. Today our grandson had hernia surgery and is doing fine.

Needless to say, we will gladly bid adieu to 2008! It has been a year of loss on many fronts, from the death of loved ones to the demise of some relationships along the way. Although we enter 2009 with very little in the way of expectations, hope is still very much alive. As The Greater Depression comes to pass, we try to make intelligent decisions in changing our spending habits. Purchasing big ticket items has been put on the back burner for now. Even allowing for the huge price cuts, that new Ford 150 will not be coming home with us just yet. Instead, we will be using any budget surplus to pay down debt and build our emergency fund.

Given the current news, and assuming you all understand that our economy is in seriously deep kimchi, it would probably be redundant for me to keep posting about The Great Depression of the 30’s. It’s enough to state that the parallels are astoundingly similar, right down to the fact that Wall Street, Mortgage Brokers and Bankers were at the center of that storm, too. Be careful who you read and/or listen to and take advice from. Don’t panic and try to not get depressed, even though your retirement account has probably taken a huge hit. We’re all in this together and together we’ll survive it. It’s a great opportunity for an economics lesson for your families, and it’s a lesson that’s been needed for a very long time. Who amongst us hasn’t squandered resources we shouldn’t have? It’s time to learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others. God is still on His throne, and the sun still rises in the east and sets in the west.

‘Till we meet again, I wish you a Happy, Healthy New Year! I'll be back next year!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Only Yesterday I

Most of the following information was taken from the book, Only Yesterday, by Frederick Lewis Allen. His book, an informal history of the 1920’s, starts with setting the stage for the market crash of 1929. He covers the era from the end of WWI to the aftermath of the crash. The information in this book stays with you long after you’ve read the last page, and almost haunts you during the events we’re now living through. I can’t begin to tell you how often I and other readers refer to it during conversations regarding our present economy. If I had read no other books dealing with this era, this one alone would make me realize that as a people, we have learned nothing when it comes to greed and wanting more. The term, keeping up with the Joneses, must have been born during this era and is still alive and well today.

The decade after WWI and leading up to the crash of 1929, was a very prosperous one for America. As morals declined, our appetite for material things grew. Of course many new products were made available, from cosmetics to refrigerators to telephones. Automobiles were now available in various colors, theaters prospered as movies replaced game nights at home, and independent storekeepers struggled to hold their own as department and chain stores multiplied. This was supposedly the era of Coolidge Prosperity, and during the three years between 1924 and1927, there was an increase from 75 to 283 Americans who paid taxes on incomes of more than a million dollars a year.
There is a saying in financial circles: “Liars figure and figures lie.” How true this would soon prove to be! While figures lied about prosperity, the government and big business not only bought them, hook, line and sinker, they were the author of many of them. The figures said that the purchasing power of Americans was increasing at the rate of more than 2% annually. The figures showed corporation profits and retail business jumped by leaps and bounds. The common stock of RCA, or the Radio Corporation of America, grew from 85 ¼ in 1928 to 549 in 1929. Who could deny that times were, indeed, good?

Installment buying became huge as people were starting to believe it was old-fashioned to limit their purchasing to only the cash they had on hand. All the experts, from the great economists of the day to the U. S. Treasury Secretary to Presidents Coolidge and Hoover, promised that prosperity was here to stay. And as stocks skyrocketed so did investor speculation. So it was that Americans began to gamble with their futures. The game of advertising knew no bounds as its agents persuaded people to buy, buy, buy. No longer was it considered enough to recommend one’s goods in modest and explicit terms by placing them on the counter and letting the consumer make up his or her own mind; advertising was the new way to compete. And so the aggressive advertising agents consulted with psychologists, used poetic eloquence and ran pushy, national campaigns to ‘break down consumer resistance.’

Pity the poor salesman who didn’t meet his quota, a new device meant to increase sales and to punish the poor sap that didn’t. Never before had such pressure been exerted on salesmen to get results, and if he didn’t reach his figure, he could lose his employer’s favor and maybe even his job. All sorts of trickery was in vogue and totally acceptable given the fervor of the day to sell more, more, more. Afterwards, a sales manager for The American Slicing Machine Company told of how his company had ‘asked each employee to appoint a child in his family as a mascot, realizing that every one of them would work his head off to make some youngster happy at Christmas. The way these youngsters took hold of the plan was amusing, and at times the intensity of their interest was almost pathetic.’ The sales manager of another company reported cheerfully that one of his stunts was ‘to twit one man at the good work of another until he is almost sore enough to be ready to fight.’

Still another company invented – and boasted of – a method of goading its salesmen which for sheer inhumanity probably set a record for the whole era of Coolidge Prosperity. It gave a banquet at which the man with the best score, (sales), was served oysters, roast turkey, and a most elaborate ice; the man with the second best score had the same dinner but without the oysters; and so on down to the man with the worst score, before whom was laid a small plate of boiled beans and a couple of crackers. Of course, this pressure to sell trickled down to the consumer who felt the pressure to buy.

Frederick Allen cited two extreme examples of high pressure selling: A wholesale drug company offered to the trade a small table with a railing around its top for the display of specials; it was to be set up directly in the path of customers, ‘whose attention will be attracted to the articles when they fall over it, bump into it, kick their shins upon it, or otherwise come in contact with it.’ And the publication, Selling News, awarded one of its cash prizes for 'sales ideas’ to a vendor of electric cleaners, (vacuums), who told the following story of commercial prowess. One day he looked up from the street and saw a lady shaking a rug out of a second-story window. ‘The door leading to her upstairs was open. I went right in and up those stairs without knocking, greeting the lady with the remark; “Well, I am here right on time. What room do you wish me to start in?” She was very much surprised, assuring me that I had the wrong number. But during my very courteous apologies I had managed to get my cleaner connected and into action. The result was that I walked out minus the cleaner, plus her contract and check for a substantial down payment.” The readers of Selling News were apparently not expected to be less than enthusiastic at the prospect of a man invading a woman’s apartment and setting up a cleaner in it without permission and under false pretenses. If you could get away with such exploits, it helped business, and good business helped prosperity, and prosperity was good for the country.

As I’ve studied this era in our history, I have to wonder if consumer cynicism was born immediately after October, 1929. And yet……., we still have the inept, pushy salesmen. Some are door-to-door, but most are in car lots and appliance and/or furniture showrooms. Then of course we have the big box stores that stack their inferior merchandise high and leave little room in the aisles for maneuvering even a shopping cart, much less a wheelchair. (And they wonder why so many of us shop on-line!)

At any rate, this is a small slice of the atmosphere leading up to the crash. I would especially like to spend some time on the decline of the morals of that time, but no one would want to read it. There are SO MANY comparisons to be made between the era leading up to the crash and the times we live in, I would be writing for hours. And since most people have the attention span of five minutes or less, I’ve already exceeded my limit. Be back in a few days with more true stories of that time. If any of you have heard memories from your parents or grandparents of life during the Great Depression or the Great American Dust Bowl of the dirty thirties, please send them my way. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Shadows of The Great Depression

They say it can’t happen again, but they are the same people who tried to make us believe in the strength of our economy when all the while it was a wind-swept house of cards. There probably wouldn’t have been a run on the banks in 1929 if people hadn’t believed the lies of the Federal Government, Wall Street and Big Business; if they had paid attention to what was going on around them, they could have taken steps earlier to keep their money safe. And maybe, just maybe, they would have also planned at least a little for what was coming.

Instead, like today, people continued living life like times would always be good. The socialites wined and dined and ignored what was happening around them…………, until it hit their doorstep. Here in Iowa, the farmers saw it coming and they, along with others in agricultural states, may well have been the first to feel the sharpness of its teeth. Iowa didn’t have The Worst Hard Time, as that was experienced by those states who suffered through The Great American Dust Bowl. A book by that name, The Worst Hard Time, authored by Timothy Egan, details the extreme conditions families endured during that time, in parts of Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, New Mexico and Texas, with Kansas and Texas receiving the largest amount of tragedy.

A family walking 30 miles to Santa Fe to visit relatives, during depression years

Over the last few years, I’ve read and studied The Great Depression and The Great American Dust Bowl with expectant interest. In referring to the dust bowl years, the weather can be controlled by no one but God. But when it comes to finances, we’re at the mercy of greedy big government and greedy big business. Add that to our own greed and desire to ‘keep up with the Jones’, and we’re reaping exactly what we’ve sown. Conspicuous consumerism has run rampant, and anyone with two active brain cells had to know this artificial economic bubble had to burst someday. The ridiculous rate of inflation that we’ve experienced simply couldn’t sustain itself forever.

“MORE, MORE, MORE,” has been the cry of the two generations that came along after the generation who fought through The Great Depression, The Great American Dust Bowl and World War II. The mantra has become, “I’ll get mine while the getting’s good and to hell with future generations.” We want ‘instant on’ everything, including wealth or at least the appearance of having wealth. I have watched children and grandchildren marry and expect to immediately have what it took years for my generation to earn. They do not know how to be poor; they do not know how to make water gravy; they do not know how to NOT want MORE.

It’s apparently more comfortable to keep one’s head buried deeply in the sand and ignore the coming fury. I guess the thinking is that if we pretend all is well, all will, indeed, be well. There have been those I’ve tried to discuss this with who actually didn’t want to face or acknowledge the possibilities. A Christian told me that their family wasn’t going to worry about it because no matter what happens, God will take care of them. I tried to remind that person that God also gave them a brain and expects them to use it. Guess they haven’t read the parts of the Bible where God allowed His children to suffer great devastation for years on end.

Another person actually told me that her psyche simply couldn’t handle thinking about it and she found it too traumatizing to discuss. This same person wouldn’t allow the TV to be on much right after 9/11 because she didn’t want her children to see all the media coverage and "get scared". Yet, this same woman discretely told me last week that she’s now talking to her husband about their need to “stock pile food.”

Food line during depression

My parents were children of The Great Depression; my mother was barely seven years old and my father was almost eleven. He was the fourth of six children, two others having died earlier in their lives. His two older brothers were in and out of the house as they tried to make their own way and, for the most part, failed. He’d had both a mother and father in the home until the depression hit, but when he was about twelve, his father decided he couldn’t support all of them anymore; and since his mother wouldn’t agree to place the three remaining minor children in an orphanage, his father left the home, taking the two older, adult boys with him. (His older sister had married and moved to Illinois.)

Placing one’s children in an orphanage was actually an act of kindness compared to some who either kicked their small children out, some as young as seven-years-old, to fend for themselves; or worse, tried to do away with them. In the book, Riding The Rails by Errol Lincoln Uys, there is a true tale of a little girl in Nebraska who………, well let me quote for you, from the book:

"When the New York Stock Exchange crashed in 1929, Donald Newhouser was a thirteen-year-old Nebraska farmboy. ‘I saw children coming to school in zero weather with holes in their shoes, thin coats and no gloves. We would have a bucket of snow ready to put their frozen hands in, as they came screaming into the schoolhouse after walking two miles to get there. One little girl came in, her eyes swollen from crying. She said her father had tried to kill her because there was nothing in the house to eat. Her father held her over the cistern by her fingers, ready to drop her in; only her mother’s praying and begging saved her.’”

So, yes, I think putting a child in an orphanage is much kinder then killing them! My father held it against his dad for the rest of his life because he had left the family. Because of his grudge, I never got to meet my grandfather. To be sure, there is no proof that Dad’s family would have been better off if Grandpa had stayed or gone, but I do know my grandmother had to do menial labor and seamstress work to feed her three children. There were family tales of how she sometimes entertained men in her bedroom during that time, and how she kept a stopwatch in her room expressly for that purpose. Dad remembered some of it in great detail, and that’s another thing he never forgave.

Of course, the kettle of cold oatmeal that was made every morning and was their food for the day is something else he remembered; that, and the fact that they usually didn’t have enough sugar or milk for the lumpy cereal, so had to use water to thin it down. He delivered newspapers and at fifteen-years-old, he rode the rails for awhile. Since he attended North High School in Des Moines, I have to assume his rail adventures were short-lived.

Unemployeed people standing in line for free food for their families.
Notice the tragically hypocritical sign behind them.

Mom’s family had both parents and five children, one born during the depression. Grandpa had been laid off from his job on the railroad, and did whatever he could to keep his family together and fed. He grew all their vegetables, canned, and also had a root cellar in which he kept carrots, onions and potatoes for the winter months. They raised chickens and he hunted squirrel, rabbit and coons, and he fished when the weather allowed; he brought home catfish in a big pail of water. Of course, certain commodities were rationed, so things like butter, sugar and eggs were harder for some to come by. While Mom’s family had the eggs from their chickens, sugar, butter and some other commodities weren’t as readily available.

Grandma’s sister lived right next door. Her husband worked for the telephone company, which kept him working through the depression, and they had only one child; they also had a garden and raised chickens. For some reason, both families received the same amount of ration stamps, no matter that one household had three people and the other had seven. My aunt did NOT share her ration stamps with her sister’s family, which was a sore point between my Grandmother and her sister for the rest of their lives.

My mother, (far left) and her siblings, in 1933

Momma dropped out of school during Junior High, when her parents couldn’t afford to buy material for her Home Economics sewing class. Her teacher offered to bring material and have Mom sew clothes for her, but the humiliation was too great for my mother; that, and not having decent clothes and shoes to wear to school. As soon as Grandpa was able to work again he saw to it that his kids had things a little better, including dance lessons for his daughters. But my grandparents never splurged, at least not that I know of. They were frugal and Grandpa kept raising his garden and chickens for many years. The chickens were the first to go, when I was a young teen, but that garden kept them and the extended family in vegetables until Gramps died.

Credit cards were something my parents and grandparents just didn’t do. Dad and Mom had a couple department store accounts at different times, and later in life Dad carried one card for when he traveled, but he paid it off in full whenever he received a statement. How different that is from my generation! Most of us carry at least a couple cards ‘just in case,’ but some of our kids and grandkids use credit cards to live on. Frankly, I’m scared for them. But they don’t seem to be concerned. As long as they can make those monthly payments, (and there are always those ‘Payday Loan/Cash Advance’ places), they think they’re okay. Borrowing on tomorrow may work as long as one has a job and tomorrow actually comes, but what about that time when there simply is NO MORE??? What happens when there are NO MORE jobs? NO MORE credit? NO MORE tomorrow? Well, therein lies the problem; tomorrows WILL come, but MORE of anything else may not.

In my next few posts, I will share with you some true stories from real people that somehow lived through The Great Depression and The Great American Dust Bowl. Meanwhile, please plan ahead; plan for a time when there will be NO MORE.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Michelle Obama: The Tale of Two Very Different Potential First Ladies

As I promised in my last post, here are parts of the October Reader’s Digest article covering Melinda Henneberger’s interview with Michelle Obama, along with my comments which are in blue. Hopefully, after reading both posts, you’ll know a little more about the two women whose husbands are seeking the highest office in our country.

Which one of these women will be our next first lady? We’ll soon know, as the election is less than 30 days away. The information I garnered from these two articles also shed an intimate light on the man who will be our next president. For a few this information may change their vote, but for most, I think our prior choice has only been confirmed. I would be interested to know whether or not any of this information is new to you, so don’t hesitate to leave a comment. Or, as some folks already do, feel free to send your comments to my email address. Either way, I’d enjoy hearing your opinions, even when they don’t agree with mine. Now, on to Henneberger’s interview with Michelle Obama.

“Before I met Michelle Obama, her brother, Craig Robinson, told me that to really understand her, I’d have to know a little bit about their father. Fraser Robinson worked swing shifts for the city of Chicago, tending the boilers at a water-filtration plant. ‘My father was not college-educated,’ said Craig, head basketball coach for Oregon State University, but was ‘full of integrity,’ the ‘gold standard’ of husbands and ‘a hardworking man who raised two kids when he had multiple sclerosis.’

When I sit down with the potential first lady at her husband’s Chicago campaign headquarters, I see what her brother is getting at. In nearly an hour with Michelle and her 70-year-old mother, Marian Robinson, nothing comes across more clearly than the extent to which 44-year-old Michelle was molded by the years she spent watching her father, whose determination defined strength for Michelle. She came to see complaining as a moral failing and a show of self-indulgence. ‘Seeing a parent with a disability moving through the world and living life as if that disability didn’t matter,’ Michelle says, ‘always made us think, What do we have to complain about? We wake up, we bound out of bed, we are healthy, we’re happy, and our father is struggling to get out of bed. But he never missed a day of work, never talked about being sick. So it made it hard to wake up and say, “I don’t want to go to school.”’”
So far, it sounds like Michelle comes from a regular, working-class family who taught her to do what you have to do to face a day without complaining. Not much else can be garnered from the above paragraphs except that Michelle wasn’t from a rich, elitist family. In other words, she’s from a family much like many of ours.

“But victimhood is not her style. On the contrary, she’s disinclined to take political jabs personally and so disinterested in dissecting or answering them that when I invite her to take umbrage, she practically yawns. She’s a big girl, she says, and sees that those attacks are not about her, not at all.”
It would seem that Michelle is not thin-skinned and refuses to throw back the mud pies that are thrown at her. How refreshing!

“Here in the Midwest, the highest compliment that can be paid someone who has done well in life is that he or she is ‘still so normal.’ Michelle Obama easily qualifies for the participant ribbon in that event, turning up at Obama headquarters on time to the minute, in a simple black-and-white cotton skirt and sleeveless blouse, with one arm around her mom. (Marian, who is on her way to pick up her grandkids at camp and agreed to come only because her daughter promised that she wouldn’t have to have her picture taken, has never given an interview with her daughter before.) Because campaign spouses tend to keep a wary eye on the political mercenaries who run these operations, it’s a bit startling that even the volunteers call her Michelle and shout a casual greeting as she arrives. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a presidential candidate’s wife inspire less fear in the troops.”
From this we can see some of Michelle’s personal qualities. She has a good relationship with her mother, who is apparently willing to help out like many ‘normal’ grandmothers do every day. I love it that the grandmother is picking the children up from camp instead of having them fetched home in a limo. The fact that the campaign helpers are at ease around Michelle is very telling, as is Henneberger’s comment about Michelle not instilling fear in the troops. It would seem that Michelle does not have a Queen Me complex.

“For a while, she’d hoped to become a pediatrician. ‘I like kids, and I thought being a doctor was a noble profession.’ But? ‘Then I got to high school and started taking science. And math.’ Today she works in a medical center, but as an administrator for the University of Chicago Hospitals. (Besides heading up and quadrupling the number of volunteers who come in to lend a hand, and rejuvenating a volunteer program to give time to the community), “she’s also led a push to get patients who use the ER for routine care connected to neighborhood clinics instead, both to cut costs and to improve preventive care for low-income families.”
She has a career that allows her to give back to her community and has apparently used her position to help others while at the same time, managing to cut costs. Very admirable; I wonder if her hubby will be able to do likewise on a national level?

“If Michelle is vain about anything, it’s not her fancy degrees from Princeton and Harvard Law, or even her husband’s presidential aspirations, but the family she was born into. Her parents lavished her with ‘structure and consistency and chores,’ made their kids budget their allowance and their time, and played board games with them every Saturday night.

The family’s one-bedroom apartment – the upper floor of a bungalow in the South Shore neighborhood – was so snug that Michelle and Craig slept in the living room, which they divided with partitions, up until they packed for college. Marian still lives there; she occupies the whole house now, in the same part of town where both she and her husband were born.”
This is a picture of a woman who is still proud of her roots, even though they were rather humble. She doesn’t try to be someone other than who she really is. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if she could bring that normal family atmosphere to the formal White House, showing the whole world that most of America is made up of everyday people? The fact is, the percentage of rich, elite families in our country is very small, with most of us having to work real jobs for a living. Since Michelle and Barack are NOT from rich families, would that translate to them being able to understand the plight of the rest of us who sometimes have to struggle to pay the bills? Personally, I'm fond of the fact that Michelle is not beauty queen material. It tells me she's probably not a high maintenance woman.

“When Michelle first started dating Barack, his mother-in-law says, ‘I didn’t know his mother was white for a long time. It didn’t come up. Not that it made any difference, because that wasn’t an issue in our family.’”
Michelle was not raised in a racist family, and that is to her parents’ credit. Regardless of the hateful emails I’ve received from 'Christian' people who are racist, I do not believe Barack Obama’s staff will be made up of only black people wearing turbans and robes. Neither do I believe that Al Sharpton and/or Jesse Jackson will be running the country. Some of the ridiculous allegations I’ve read remind me of when Jack Kennedy was running for president and my poor grandfather, a staunch Democrat, was in such a worried state he almost became physically ill. For the first time in his life he would have to vote Republican, because the belief was that if Jack Kennedy became president, the Pope would run the country. Sadly, many of us haven’t come very far in our thinking in the last almost fifty years!

“Paradoxically, perhaps, their father’s illness taught both his children that if he could get up and go to work and enjoy his life, then they didn’t have to feel constrained, either, in any way. With one exception: How would Michelle ever find a man who could live up to her father’s example? ‘That was the kind of guy my sister was looking for,’ her brother said. ‘We used to joke as a family, “She’ll never find a guy like that, because they don’t exist anymore.”’ What she sought most of all in a mate was Fraser’s glass-half-full fortitude – and there’s a pretty straight line between that worldview and Obama’s ‘Yes, we can!’”
In my opinion, Michelle’s positive attitude added to her husband’s can do spirit would be an asset to our nation in general and to our governing body in particular.

“Michelle met her future husband in 1988, when he took a summer job at the Chicago law firm Sidley & Austin, where she specialized in intellectual property law. She was assigned to mentor Obama, who had just finished his first year at Harvard Law. As he recalled their first meeting in The Audacity of Hope, ‘I remember that she was tall – almost my height in heels – and lovely, with a friendly, professional manner that matched her tailored suit and blouse.’ He was smitten from the get-go, but she worried that it wasn’t a good idea to date someone from the office. Even when she brought him home to meet the family, they at first assumed that ‘he was just another one who wasn’t going to make it,’ her brother said. ‘It was hard to pass muster with my sister.’ Michelle asked Craig to check out Barack by playing basketball with him – she’d always heard their dad say that you could tell a lot about a man’s character on the court. And? ‘No personality flaws with respect to the basketball evaluation,’ Craig said. So Michelle and Barack started dating.”
What could I possibly add to that??? Straight forward, honest and includes a sweet ah factor. I especially liked the idea that Michelle’s family was totally involved in her decision-making in regards to a future mate.

“Her husband has written that what he wanted more than anything was to be the kind of father he’d never had. In a speech he gave on Father’s Day, Obama said, ‘I resolved many years ago that it was my obligation to break the cycle – that if I could be anything in life, I would be a good father to my girls.’ Obama wanted a partner who would expect nothing less and a woman who saw parenthood that same way. In a recent interview with Reader’s Digest, he credits Michelle with creating a ‘zone of normalcy’ for his daughters. The girls still go to the same school. Michelle dropped them off and picked them up each day until recently, when her mother took over. They still don’t have a nanny. ‘Their lives haven’t changed or been disrupted, and that’s been Michelle’s greatest gift to me,’ says her husband.”
Both Michelle and her husband are trying to make as normal a life as possible for their daughters, although I’m sure they could now afford a nanny and a chauffer. The only downside I can see to them moving into the White House is the fact that the girls’ lives would change drastically. But from what I’ve read so far, I’m betting Michelle will help keep them grounded. I also like the fact that Barack seems to have the utmost respect for his wife and isn’t shy about proclaiming that fact.

In the article, Michelle deals with the questions that had been raised in regards to their then-pastor, Jeremiah Wright. She said, ‘Obviously, if we had heard anything like that, we wouldn’t have been part of it.’

“But there’s no question that Wright’s words were even more damaging when coupled with Michelle’s own statement – played on cable television almost as often as Wright’s – that ‘for the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country.’ In the same speech, at a rally in Wisconsin last February, she went on to say that ‘I feel privileged to even be witnessing this, traveling around states all over this country being reminded that there’s more that unites us than divides us, that the struggles of a farmer in Iowa are no different than on the South Side of Chicago, that people are feeling the same pain and wanting the same things for their families.’

Only the ‘proud’ comment is recalled now, despite her insistence that she didn’t mean to say anything more incendiary than that she’s never felt prouder. Because Barack Obama is not as well-known as his Republican rival, voters look to his wife for clues about what kind of a person her husband is in a way that they may not look to Cindy McCain. So ‘changing that first impression will be critical to the public’s perception of her,’ said the University of Notre Dame’s Robert Schmuhl, ‘and possibly to whether her husband wins the White House.’”
Considering the fact that, in my opinion, the Republicans know they have such a slim chance of regaining another four years in the White House right after the debacle of the last eight years, no matter what she would have said, they were waiting like vultures for an opportunity to discredit both Michelle and Barack. While I do think they should have been more careful in their choice of pastors, I don’t hold it against them.

Here’s why: My father was a white, Pentecostal minister and he used the pulpit to whip people around on an almost weekly basis, holding them to rules that weren’t even scriptural. Yet, most of the congregation stood behind him. Whether or not they lived the way he said they should once they got home, I have no way of knowing. But as an older adult, I’ve talked to former members of my father’s churches, and most of them don’t even remember how he distorted the scriptures. In other words, for personal reasons, I have to give the Obamas a pass on Jeremiah Wright. We should ALL be more careful in our choice of pastors!

As far as Michelle’s proud statement goes, I think someone “strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel.” (Matthew 23:24) A person couldn’t have done all the work she’s done for her community and neighborhood if she was ashamed of her country. Think, People; THINK!!!

“She’s no longer ambivalent about whether that (Barack winning the White House) would be such a good idea: ‘Eventually I thought, This is a smart man with a good heart, and if the only reason I wouldn’t want him to be president is that I’m married to him, no, I can’t be that selfish.’ If Barack is elected, Michelle insists, she has no interest in a role beyond that of help-mate and mother. As November approaches, she is impatient with questions about attacks on her: ‘I could care less – no, I don’t want to say that – but I don’t worry about me.’ (She is learning to self-edit.) ‘I worry about the issues, so the focus should be on moving the ball forward, on the greater good of our kids, the environment, and who cares what they say about me.’”
How refreshing – a first lady who doesn’t want to attend cabinet meetings and briefings and is interested in being only a help-mate and mother. With her brains, experience and can-do attitude, I’m sure she’ll find a cause to champion, but I don’t think it will consume her. She knows how to live with little materially and yet is comfortable with success. Her husband’s respect and admiration for her shows and I think they make a great team.

My bottom line on Michelle Obama is this; I have great respect for her. She seems to have the thick skin that would certainly be required of a president’s wife, yet the ability to be warm and put those around her at ease. She doesn’t seem to have a big head and remembers her roots. Since she is as intelligent as her husband, yet doesn’t demand an important role in which to prove that intelligence, and since she seems to be comfortable in her own skin, I hope Washington is ready for her. Like Bess Truman, she may shake it up a bit and I think she would be an asset to our country in every way. She has used her role as a woman, wife and mother to set a good example for other women. In spite of her ability to put her husband and family first, she doesn’t seem to put herself last. That’s a rare quality anywhere!
Can YOU see her in the White House? What do you think she has to offer other women and young girls? Do you think she can handle all the social occasions that would be demanded of her as first lady? Do you think she would present our country well to all the visiting foreign heads of states and their mates whom she would have to accommodate? How do you think she would be perceived abroad, as she visits other countries? Since material things don’t seem to be important to her, what do you think would be her first order of business once she’s moved into the White House?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Cindy McCain: The Tale of Two Very Different Potential First Ladies

From the beginning of this presidential campaign, (many, many moons ago), I’ve been interested in the mates of all those running for our nation’s highest office. Now that we’re down to the final two, I find the differences astounding. The polish and, dare I say, the ‘beauty queen’ appeal of Cindy McCain can hardly be missed, while the intelligent but ‘real people’ appeal of Michelle Obama is almost too good to be true.

When I received my October Reader’s Digest, it was interesting to note there were articles on interviews with both women included in this month’s publication. Further, I was excited to find that the interviews were given by the same reporter, Melinda Henneberger, and was sure I’d be able to detect Henneberger’s favorite by reading both interviews. As I devoured each article, I kept my radar on, trying to read between the lines. Henneberger is good! After reading both interviews, I don’t have a clue which lady she favors. But thanks to her, the differences came into very clear focus for me.

When I think of some of our past first ladies, I view some with admiration, a few with pity and at least a couple with something bordering on contempt. One thing is for sure; the first lady of our country can’t be ignored, and if you study them at all, you’re quite certain to learn more about their mates. So for those of you who haven’t read this month’s Reader’s Digest, I will cover some of the highlights of each interview, which will be in quotes, and then insert some of my opinions, which will be in blue. We’ll start with Cindy McCain, and in a couple days, Lord willing, we’ll learn about Michelle Obama.

Cindy McCain: “The way Cindy McCain tells it, when her husband finally got around to asking his wife whether he should run for president in ’08--‘Of course, he asked me last’—she was ready for him with a considered response: Uh-uh. No. Having been through it before, she wasn’t sure she could stand any more good times like the South Carolina primary of 2000, when a flood of ‘McCain has a black love child’ phone calls and flyers proved there’s no biographical fact that can’t be turned into a political liability. (The smear referred to their then-eight-year-old daughter, Bridget, whom Cindy brought home as a baby from Mother Teresa’s orphanage in Bangladesh.)”
So, here we have a man running for the highest office in the country, one that will put his wife and family smack dab in the limelight and his spouse is the last one he discusses his decision with. Personally, I find this unforgiveable and cold as it shows a complete lack of respect for his wife’s input about how this decision will affect her and their family’s future. This paragraph also ‘outs’ Cindy McCain’s thin skin as a politician’s wife, but we’ll have a chance to deal with that later.

“In the two years before her husband decided to run again, Cindy had suffered a stroke that left her unable to speak clearly for several months and had also made the difficult decision to allow her younger son to enlist in the Marines – at 17, he still needed her permission. And, she adds, ‘I had just lost my mother, too.’”
I found it interesting that the reporter referred to their son as her son; this depicts a family that is fatherless, which I believe it usually is.

“But Cindy McCain, retiring by nature, has never been fully at ease on the public stage. Little wonder, given that her formative experience in politics was arriving in Washington at age 28 with her new congressman husband only to find herself shut out by friends of the first Mrs. John McCain. Carol McCain had been taken under the wing of Nancy Reagan, who gave her a job in Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign and, later, in his White House. After one frosty year in Reagan’s (and Carol’s) Washington, Cindy moved back to Phoenix, in 1984, and ever since has been doing what she calls ‘this bicoastal thing,’ adding that John is ‘home only on weekends.’”
Well ..., what did she expect??? John McCain was married to Carol when he met Cindy; they married about a month after John’s divorce from Carol. And if Cindy thought Washington was frosty in the 80’s, what makes her think they’ll treat her any better today? There are some things people just do NOT forget!

“She has often said that though John left the service long ago, she still thinks of herself as a Navy wife, raising four kids mostly on her own while her husband was deployed to Washington. When I run this view…past her husband’s best friend, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, he says, ‘You got it. This wouldn’t be her first choice.’ (He also suggests that Cindy saw something of her father in John: ‘Her father got shot down during World War II. Cindy must be attracted to guys who get shot down.’)”
Yes, she is raising their family a-l-o-n-e. I also thought Graham’s comment ‘Cindy must be attracted to guys who get shot down’ was very belittling and demeaning.

“Now that she’s signed on for another tour, she’s marching through the campaign well defended, with her silk-lined armor and flawless hair and makeup a kind of protective shield. …..Graham says…’She has a good heart and has gotten a thicker hide, but this doesn’t come easy to her.’”
Not much I can add to that; it speaks for itself, I think.

“Her press aide makes that clear enough by offering some unusual guidance before we sit down for an interview: ‘Feel free to ask Mrs. McClain about her past addiction to pain pills …, but please don’t upset her by mentioning a New York Times story linking her husband to a female lobbyist.’ (The story was deemed so unfair that it wound up helping the campaign, but five months later, it remains a sore spot with the candidate’s wife.”
You’ll read more, later in this article, that makes one wonder about John McCain’s morals, or lack thereof. I think this shows that Cindy McCain is most certainly NOT ready for Washington. Regardless of what Graham says about her having gotten a thicker hide, I’m thinking …, not so much!

“She’s … much more skittish than I remember her being on the campaign bus during her husband’s previous run, and she is extraordinarily guarded when we do talk, facing each other in two straight-backed chairs in the middle of an other wise empty room in her husband’s campaign office in Coronado, California: ‘There is no McCain temper; I’ve never seen it … He’s as healthy as a horse and as young as one too …We never argue.’ Ever? ‘No, we do not argue.’”
To all that I say BUNK! Most of America has seen his temper, yet he wife hasn’t? Gimme a break! And they never argue? If they never argue, it’s probably because they don’t have much of a personal relationship.

“Her best friend, Phoenix real estate CEO Sharon Harper, explains that Cindy’s ‘personality if really two fold; she’s reserved and gentle but also strong and independent.’ On one hand she’s a cowgirl – literally, a former rodeo queen – who sleeps in tents on humanitarian missions, took up car racing after her stroke, and overcame her fear of flying by getting her pilot’s license. But she’s the rare cowgirl who stands in perfect fourth position after years of ballet and reflexively crosses her legs at the ankle.”
After reading that paragraph and in light of John’s VP pick, it makes one wonder about John's weakness for certain personalities. Maybe beauty doesn't challenge him as much as brains do?

“… she met John McCain at a reception in Honolulu. The McCains love telling the story of how they both fibbed about their ages that night; Cindy made herself four years older and John, four years younger. In a recent late-night TV appearance, Cindy told Jay Leno that ‘he kind of chased me around an hors d’oeuvres table’ that evening. ‘I was trying to get something to eat and I thought, You know, this guy’s kind of weird.’

McCain was married at the time but has freely admitted that long before meeting Cindy, he’d ‘started carousing and running around with women,’ as his friend and fellow Vietnam vet Robert Timberg wrote in John McCain: An American Odyssey. Carol McCain had been through a lot, waiting five and a half years for him to be released from captivity in Hanoi and barely surviving a car crash on the third Christmas Eve he was a prisoner. A former swimsuit model, she was much altered by the accident and has had trouble walking ever since.”
Somehow all this makes John McCain seem more like a dirty old man instead of the hero people try to depict him being. Since Cindy comes off as being a rather shell-shocked woman who will ‘stand by her man’ no matter how badly he treats her because the show must go on, one has to contemplate her real feelings for him these many years later. Of course, these beauty queen types never get real enough to allow others to gauge their humanness. John’s first wife, Carol, is the real hero; not once has she talked trash about her carousing husband or how he left her for a younger, more perfect woman. She got on with her life and now…..Cindy McCain has the gall to be thin-skinned? And John and his ‘Republican followers’ had the gall to throw dirt at Bill Clinton??? Please…..pass me another break!

“Just over a month after the divorce was final (and after signing a prenup), John married Cindy, in May 1980, and went to work for her father, who helped him launch his political career. Speaking about their emotional division of labor as a couple, his wife of 28 years is modest: ‘My husband does his thing, and I make sure we all stay together as a family.’ (Apparently, she’s also in charge of the candlelight; when a reporter recently asked McCain to name the last romantic thing he’d done for his wife, his answer was, ‘Let’s see … Over the weekend, we ordered out, which was nice. Chinese. Didn’t have to entertain anybody. Didn’t have to have a political conversation. Didn’t have to ask anybody for money.’)”
Whatta guy! Just about gives a gal goose bumps, doesn’t it? Now let’s get this straight: John comes home from being a POW, finds his wife has also survived some physical horrors of her own, chases skirts, dumps his wife for a gal almost half her age, marries said gal, let’s new wife’s Daddy launch his political career, does his own ‘thing’ while his wife keeps the family together, considers Chinese take out a romantic gesture …, what am I missing? Why don’t I see the HERO others keep talking about … (well, at least HE keeps talking about)? And as for Cindy; I want to walk right up to her, slap her perfectly made-up face, and ask, ‘What are you thinking???’

“While raising them, (their children), Cindy also became deeply involved in international relief work that until recently had received relatively little attention. Accompanying her on a recent trip to Rwanda, former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson noted admiringly that ‘Cindy McCain has had decades of personal contact with the suffering of the developing world. And in some future crisis or genocide, it might matter greatly to have a first lady who knows the smell of death.’”
WOW! Who would have thought Cindy’s relief work would suddenly receive attention when her husband is running for national office? NOW, he apparently considers her an asset? And that remark of Gerson’s about how it may matter to have a first lady who knows the smell of death …; that almost seems like a scary omen to me. What does he know that we don’t?

“At 54, Cindy sticks close to her husband on social occasions, even when the party is in her own home. In Phoenix, where she spent most of her adult life living across the street from her parents, she’s known for being hard to know.”
This does not sound like first lady material to me. When one considers all the functions she would have to preside over at the White House, not including the trips to foreign countries to visit other dignitaries, Cindy McCain seems a little fragile for this job.

“Few women attain the financial independence that Cindy has had from the start, and she does not rely on her husband to help her make even the most important decisions. She surprised him at the airport with their daughter Bridget: ‘I found her at the orphanage with a serious cleft palate, and I realized at the airport that I couldn’t give her up. I knew I didn’t need to ask my husband. I got off the plane and I had her in my arms, and he was there and he said, ‘Where’s she going to go?’ and I said, ‘She’s going to come to our house,’ and he just looked at me and said, ‘I knew that.’”
This couple does not work together as a team. What kind of a relationship could they possibly have for Cindy not to even talk to John about this before she arrived at the airport??? Not that she needed his permission, but she WAS adding a new member to their family, for crying out loud! But the first sentence may say it all; she is financially independent and what Cindy wants, Cindy gets. OR, more likely, John may be cold and distant, and with her other children growing up, Cindy needed another child to lavish her affections on.

“Years later, when she became addicted to painkillers after spinal surgery for two ruptured disks, she kept that from her husband too. It was her parents who noticed. She didn’t tell John about her addiction until right before a story about a DEA investigation into her theft of pills from her medical charity hit the front pages. But the most striking thing isn’t that Cindy kept the addiction from her husband …, but that she’d never let her husband see that she was in pain in the first place. ‘I didn’t want to tell him, because he had so much on his plate,’ she says. Following her stroke in April 2004, Cindy went away for a few months by herself, to a condo on the beach here in Coronado, to recover. Just after the stroke, McCain’s office issued a statement, quoting her doctor that the damage was minor: ‘Her speech is mildly affected, but she is otherwise intact.’ But she says now that there was nothing minor about it: ‘Right after I had the stroke, I was just lying there and I couldn’t communicate, I couldn’t talk, and I hadn’t been able to say goodbye to my family. I was sure I was going to die.’”
God love him, you gotta hand it to John McCain! To supposedly share your life with a person who is in so much pain she becomes addicted to pain pills, yet you don’t notice??? Then when she has a major stroke you allow your office to say she had a minor incident??? COLD! Calculatedly cold! Right here I want to tell you readers something; I have a condition that causes chronic to constant pain requiring narcotic medications. My husband may not have an important position, but he does work long, hard hours, and if he didn’t notice the times when my condition worsens, I wouldn’t be sharing my life with him.

My bottom line on Cindy McCain is this: Even though I don’t respect her, I feel sorry for her. She may be worth an estimated $100 million, (she refused to release her complete tax returns), and, as the RD article states, she has charged as much as $500,000 on her credit card in one month, but she’s a lonely woman. John McCain would most likely be nothing without Cindy and her father, yet it appears to me that he neglects her in every important way. She’s handy to drag out as a trophy wife, and her bank account has possibly saved John’s bacon more than once. AND, it was Cindy who went in and personally helped reorganize his campaign’s finances when they were a mess. Can YOU see her in the White House? If she can’t stand up and fight for her place in her own marriage, if she allows her husband to keep her on a shelf like a good book he once read and only gets down to read once-in-awhile when a whim strikes him, if she thinks women have to be martyrs in a marriage, what in the world does she have to offer other women??? If she has to stick close to her husband at social gatherings, even if held in her own home, how could she handle all the social occasions that would be demanded of her as first lady??? Here I especially think of all the foreign heads of states and their mates whom Cindy would have to accommodate, and if those who have known her for years say she’s hard to get to know, how would she be perceived by these dignitaries from other countries? What do you think?

BTW: Two interesting sites you might want to review to learn more about the real John and Cindy McCain are The Wife John McCain Callously Left Behind and Free Cindy McCain. These two articles are must reads if you are considering voting for John McCain.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Correction to I am a Christian I am not a Conservative

Sorry folks, but I can't seem to keep the YouTube clip operational on my site in a timely manner........yet. It may load immediately, or it may take some time. If you care enough to know which of the many ones available I had added to the post below but don't have time to wait for it to load, go to , then type in John McCain. Many options will be available.....the one I had posted was "The video that should sink John McCain's presidential dreams." It's one of the most revealing of his utter lack of respect for the truth OR the American people. I've heard it said that he, (and his running partner, Palin), says what he/she wants us to hear, knowing those sound bites are not factual, and also knowing that once someone sets the record straight, it will make no difference; we will have already heard and believed the first sound bites.


If you consider yourself to be a 'Conservative Christian,' and/or if you think America will be better off with John McCain as president, please view the YouTube clip to the left of this post. You can ignore the last frame, which I don't care for and isn't relevant to this post. Even though I'm not techo-savvy enough to know how to delete that frame, I think the other frames are certainly worth viewing. Sure, McCain was a POW, blah, blah, blah. But that's ALL he's got, folks. This YouTube clip is one of many that show what he's really made of.
Of course some of you are brain-washed and no matter how many facts you hear or read, you're going to vote for this liar. The fact that he picked a VP who is only window dressing should have been another clue, but again, if you're brain-washed, you might as well quit reading right now. This blog is only for those, especially 'Conservative Christians', who want to learn something.

We Christians have been duped for years into believing that the words 'Conservative' and 'Christian' are synonymous, but they aren't. I, too, considered myself to be a 'Conservative Christian' until I began receiving so much extremely hateful email in regards to Senators Clinton and Obama. Some were outright lies, and many were very repulsive; especially the racial ones. Truthfully, I was shocked that anyone could profess to be a Christian of any kind and send some of that trash. So much for LOVE being the most important attribute of a Christian! At any rate, I couldn't have voted for Clinton based on my personal opinions that had nothing to do with being a Christian; I just don't like her on many levels.

Our 'Christian' leaders and many of my 'Christian' friends have continued this onslaught of venom against the Democrats while excusing all the lies and false representations by the Republicans. Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying the Democrats walk on water, but they're certainly not the 'anti-Christ', either. It's just that the more nasty emails I received, the more shadows of the last two presidential elections started dancing around in my head, and I started remembering how our 'Christian' leaders had presented Bush as being a 'born again Christian,' who shared our values and would bring needed 'change' to America. Of course, this led many of us to vote for him. When he won, we entered four years of promises ignored and the rug pulled out from under the middle class, in addition to sending our young people to a war touted as a 'righteous' war. Soon, we recognized Bush as a great disappointment.

Four years later, however, we 'Conservative Christians' were told that even though Bush wasn't perfect, he really had tried to do the right things. And, we had to remember, the Democrats had kept his hands tied from doing all he could have and would have done had he had the freedom to do so. We were scared into believing that Kerry would lead us down the tubes for sure, and the America we knew and loved would be in grave danger on almost every level. Yes, Virginia, ignorance does run rampant amongst 'Conservative Christians' and so, we voted for the big phony again.

Well, we've had almost four years to repent for our ignorance. Oops! I must not make such a blanket statement; I have had almost four years to repent for MY ignorance. Many of my peers still follow the pied piper with a smile on their faces and continue to blame the Democrats and all the other 'axes of evil' for turning our nation and the lives of our middle class upside down.

You know the old saying, 'Fool me once shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me?' There's something innate in me that hates being made a fool of, whether it's someone else's fault or my own. "SO", says I, "what did I miss"? I started taking apart the slogans and buzz words that had become part of my vocabulary and was surprised to learn that I am NOT a 'Conservative Christian' after all! Yes, I most certainly AM a Christian! But a 'Conservative'? No way!

Since I do a little writing and consider myself to be an amateur 'wordsmith', I was ashamed of myself when I realized how easily I had worn a label that I hadn't even researched; 'Conservative.' What does that word mean? On my shelves are two dictionaries; one older, one newer. Please allow me to share with you what I found; maybe I'm NOT the only fool walking, and some of you, too, may decide to drop a label you don't really want.

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary – 11th Edition

Conservatism: 2a. Disposition in politics to preserve what is established
2b. A political philosophy based on tradition and social stability, stressing established institutions, and preferring gradual
development to abrupt change
3. The tendency to prefer an existing or traditional situation to change

1Conservative: 3a. Tending or disposed to maintain existing views, conditions or
institutions; TRADITIONAL
3b. marked by moderation or caution

2Conservative: 2a. One who adheres to traditional methods or views

The American Heritage Dictionary – Second College Edition

Conservatism: 1a. The disposition in politics to maintain the existing order and to
resist or oppose change

Conservative: 1a. Tending to oppose change; favoring traditional views and values

So, while both parties talk about 'change,' I now know that the Republicans CAN'T change; it's not in their platform of 'conservatism.' So if you're reading this, and you're a person who wants change in D.C., you DON'T vote Republican. Of course if you're a Christian and, like some others I know, equate being a Christian with being a Republican, I feel very sorry for you. VERY sorry.

NOW.............., I'm wondering about what Jesus would do. When He was on earth, He was NOT a 'Conservative'! He was all about shaking up the order of the day and turning the existing religious leaders on their collective ears. I can only imagine what He'd do with the 'Christian' leaders of today!


Tuesday, September 16, 2008



When you’re put on the spot and don’t know the answer to the question, just make one up, smile an empty-headed, beauty queen smile and

When you’re lying through your teeth, no matter how deep and wide the lie is, smile an empty-headed, beauty queen smile and

When the facts are stacked against you, just deny the facts, blame the Democrats, smile an empty-headed, beauty queen smile and

When you don’t have a clue about the issues and can’t be trusted to face the media alone without a coach and prior prompting, smile an empty-headed, beauty queen smile and

When the thinking women of America realize that even though you may be ‘prettier’ than Hillary, (of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder), you don’t have half the brains she has; act alarmed but quickly recover, smile an empty-headed, beauty queen smile and

When the caring women of America find out how you treated the rape victims in your little, Alaska town when you were Mayor, run for your life ‘cause you won’t have time to smile an empty-headed, beauty queen smile

We’ve got your number, Babe, and it’s ZERO!


But really, Folks, if you were John McCain, wouldn’t you go for the window dressing, too? It’s ALL he’s got going for him.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I can think of a no more fitting time than now to use the expression, “It’s Only Talk.” If you are as tired of politics as I am, you understand. In addition, having had the misfortune of being raised in a Pentecostal minister’s family, this phrase became a sub-conscious mantra after so many years. Given the fact that we’re now ‘blessed’ with a Pentecostal VP wanna be, oh yeah…….I’d say the timing is just right!

Having such a long list of don’ts and such a short list of dos, you may think we had little to do while growing up, but such was not the case. We were kept busy role playing; trying to act perfect 24/7 can be exhausting! As a PK, I had the ‘advantage’ of seeing the Pentecostal world from the inside out, and I can testify to the fact that it was, and most likely still is, a hot bed of dysfunction and hypocrisy.

Of course it would be unfair to infer that all hypocrites come only from the Pentecostal movement; all religions have them. It just seems that percentage-wise, the Pentecostals win, hands down. The god I was raised to fear was the Boogie Man, not a loving Father. I somehow survived my over protected childhood, then fell flat on my face in the ‘real world;’ God’s grace found me in the muck and mire and lifted me up. Yet, since it was all I’ve ever known, I returned to the Pentecostal movement where, I’m ashamed to admit, I raised my own children. After my father’s sudden death caused me to face the hypocrisy of the belief system I’d been raised in, my Heavenly Father, in an all-out act of love and mercy, connected my brain to my heart, and life has never been the same for me or my family.

One day while pondering some particular hypocrisies I’d been raised with, I became emotionally frustrated. And since deep emotions tend to engage me poetically and even though I’d never been exposed to what can properly be labeled ‘rap,’ the following work was born. In giving birth to each of our children, I had no idea what they would look like until they were born. Poetry is much the same as childbirth; a thought is conceived and the poet is never sure what that thought will look like until it is finished. Surprisingly, this thought was born with a ‘rap’ rhythm; the first one of its kind in my family of poems. As you read it, please see the black print as statements from up-tight, self-righteous, ‘religious’ adults, (not to be confused with Christian adults); the print with color are statements from our youth who are leaning hypocrisy from us.


"What's the matter with these kids today?
They don't listen to a word we say!

You must be honest, you must be good,
You must follow God's rules, is this understood?"

I went shoppin' with my dad one day,
I was right there when he had to pay.
He counted his change, a smile played with his face,
She gave him back too much, he said, "I like this place!"

"You must be pure, you must be good,
You must follow God's rules, is this understood?"

Dad rented a movie, Mom popped some corn,
He started the flick, I got forlorn.
There was so much skin I was gettin' a chill,
They didn't seem to care that it was makin' me ill.

"You must show love, you must be good,
You must follow God's rules, is this understood?"

We got new neighbors, their color is black,
I thought my folks were gonna have a heart attack.
They put our house up for sale then acted real blue,
I thought to myself, "Is that what Jesus would do?"

It’s only talk, it’s only talk,
We can’t hear what you say, we’re watchin’ you walk.

"You must not lie, you must be good,
You must follow God's rules, is this understood?"

My mom got a call just yesterday,
Her golf pal wondered, did she want to play?
Ma called her boss, and while sounding real hoarse,
She said she was sick, He said, "Stay home, of course!"

"You must be kind, you must be good,
You must follow God's rules, is this understood?"

Monday night there was a knock on the door,
They were collectin’ for a family in our church who is poor.
As soon as they left Mom said with distaste,
"Now we’ll never get rid of ‘em and they’re so out of place!"

"You must not kill, you must be good,
You must follow God's rules, is this understood?"

"Let's talk about the birds, let's talk about the bees,
We know you're a "good girl" but if you please,
You could loose control, get into a fix,
It happens all the time, but there's RU486."

It's only talk, it's only talk,
We can't hear what you say, we're watchin' you walk.

"You mustn’t be deceitful, you must be good,
You must follow God's rules, is this understood?"

Dad just called, said he'll be home late,
He said Mom shouldn't worry 'bout settin’ his plate,
Business was so good it got kinda hairy,
He has to check all the figures with his secretary.

"You must not gossip, you must be good,
You must follow God's rules, is this understood?"

Every Wednesday, in the middle of the day,
Several women from our church get together to pray.
Without "prayer requests" there'd be no “news”,
(No wonder there're some empty spaces in our pews.)

It's only talk, it's only talk,
We can't hear what you say, we're watchin' you walk.

©CAB Hampton

In closing let me be clear about something: Do I expect to see some Pentecostal Christians in Heaven? Absolutely! The scriptures tell us we'll be judged upon our knowledge, and I truly believe this movement is big on emotions while actual knowledge of the scriptures is, sadly, lacking. (Makes it easier to manipulate the flock, too.)

Do I expect to see any of the Pentecostal leaders in Heaven? Hmm, that's a tough one, as I DO believe that so many of them, especially of the Televangelist variety, DO know what they're doing. They live in perverted opulence while many of their followers and supporters live in abject poverty. Since the scriptures tell us to give away one coat if we have two, how can they justify living such luxurious lifestyles? Mother Teresa I expect to see in Heaven. Benny Hinn and some of his cohorts? Not so much. But since I can't understand how God could have mercy on ME, and allow ME the grace He does, ANYTHING is possible.

*NOTE* Below I have listed a few 'favorites.' If you read nothing else, please read Monte E. Wilson, at least once! This man has SO much to say and says it in such an interesting way. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Blogging is an interesting pastime, and for some of us, it’s a way of communicating with others while enjoying anonymity. There are those of us who use this avenue to brush up on our writing skills. Some, who may be handicapped and/or housebound, may use this as an outlet to create a life they would otherwise not have. As an older, once popular song said, some just wanna have fun. With this outlet for expression we can be ‘real,’ or pretend to be whoever we wish; who’s going to know?

Even though I have some favorites whom I regularly read and appreciate, on occasion I’ve cruised various blogs and stopped to read them, wondering, ‘who is this person and what do they have to say?’ There are the ‘Martha Stewart’ types who seem to perform magic for their families with cooked from scratch meals and home decorating skills that rival the best of the best, while finding time to home school their children and still have energy left over to welcome their spouse upon his return from work, looking beautiful and un-frazzled. But is this woman ‘real’ or ‘contrived?’

Next may be the blog of a seemingly eloquent and intelligent man, possibly accompanied by a profile picture of a sophisticated and studious looking gentleman complete with a barely approachable expression and holding the prop of a pipe that he may or may not actually smoke. But in ‘real’ life, who is he? Does he fill an otherwise empty and impotent existence with this alter-ego he has created or is he, indeed, an educated and interesting person who would be worth getting to know a little better?
The blogs I find most gripping are those written by young people; many still trying to find themselves. Some are incredibly sad, with pictures of mutilated, tattooed, multiple pierced bodies, looking out at me from empty, soulless eyes. These sad young people often reinforce their lost spirit by adding dark, hopeless poetry, as if begging to be rescued. They don’t know who they really are; they just want to be anyone and anywhere else than who and where they are.

The blogs of the bright, savvy young people, whose enthusiasm can’t be faked, are a delight. Some seem to be a tad air-headed, but most are using this venue to communicate with old friends and potential, new friends. Sometimes I shudder at their openness and how freely they offer personal information that could invite danger and evil into their fresh, happy lives; they are so trusting it makes them vulnerable.

But I always come away wondering who these people really are. If I could be a fly on a wall of their home, what would I find? There are some who seem so unlovable; could I obey God’s commandment to love them anyway? Some seem so ‘perfect,’ could I be ‘real’ in their presence? Those who appear to be Teflon coated; would I be tempted to simply ignore them?

AND, you many wonder, WHO AM I? My profile is vague, as I intend it to be, so from that you’ll not learn much about me. In fact, in this virtual community, it is impossible to know who I really am. Yet, there is ONE who knows everything about me, right down to how many hairs I have on my head and what my next thought will be. He knows my profile from the day I was conceived until the day my earthly body will wear out and my spirit goes to Him. WHO ARE YOU? I don’t know, and probably never will; but there is ONE who knows everything thing about you, and loves you anyway.

Who Will We Be?

You can see my body, but my body is not me,
I am the psyche, mind or soul that will forever be.
My body is temporal and it will pass away;
But I, the person who’s inside, will always stay.

I can see your body, but your body is not you,
Your psyche, mind or soul will be forever, too.
Your body is temporal and it will pass away;
But you, the person who’s inside, will always stay.

Our bodies were all made by God, and will return to dust;
But what we do with what’s inside, He’s left that up to us.
He gave us choices, His only Son, and a will that is free,
What we choose to do with our inside is up to you and me.

Our looks; clothes, shoes, nails, our lovely (or not) hair,
On the image of our outside, we spend much time and care.
Owning the right car; a lovely house with a manicured lawn;
Chasing our tails, trying to keep up; working ‘til dusk from dawn.

But who will we really be, when all is said and done?
When our outside world betrays us, to whom will we run?
Will we be able to count on us, the person who’s inside?
Whom we’ve either starved or fed; from whom we cannot hide?

Our one true person who’s inside will live on and on and on,
While the earthly body in which we’ve dwelt, will be long gone.
Will we have spent our time and efforts on the lasting, eternal thing,
When our psyche, mind or soul stands before our Heavenly King?

Then it will make no difference how we look or where we live,
He’ll want to know; from what He gave us, what did we give?
While here on earth, did we put ourselves last and others first?
Did we offer the Eternal Drink to those who were in thirst?

Did we often judge others by a unit of strictest measure;
In pointing fingers at other’s faults, finding some sick pleasure?
Weighing others’ sins on our own scale of right and wrong;
Did our self-righteous act, steal someone else’s song?

Did we measure ourselves first; did we keep our soul clean?
Was our spirit sweet and humble, or was our spirit mean?
So what we do with our inside is up to you and me;
Our psyche, soul or mind lives on; who will we be?

© CAB Hampton

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Today I will try to show you the positive side of The Iowa State Fair. There are lots of contests and rides, so the children, especially, do have lots of fun. I will leave out any pictures of the smorgasbord of politicians who actually believed people wanted to see them at the fair. I'm at a point where I'm sick to death of any and all politicians and would like to see all their jobs out-sourced to China.

This first picture is an interesting one. As you can see by reading previous posts, this food on a stick was NOT on the list. Since it just showed up in yesterday's pictures, I have to wonder if it was a late addition to the food offerings this year.

Yep, Salad on a Stick!!!

Speaking of politicians, they even started serving them on a stick, too!

Take your pick; sick, sick, sick!

And someone, recognizing the direness of the situation, offered the following:

If we ever needed prayer, it's now. So just in case you can't come up with one on your own, you can get a Prayer on a Stick.

A cute little gal holding a baby pig.

Gotta love those tractors!

These would be my favorite wheels!

The Marble Competition

An Iowa fashion statement

This little girl is very happy to be seeing the fair from her Daddy's shoulders...
He just got home from Iraq

Even the Iowa State Fair Queen got involved in the Outhouse race

This is a cow chip

This is a cow chip throwing contest. I love the looks on these guys' faces!

The Iowa State Fair Queen contestants

Decorated Diaper Contest

Twin & Triplet look alike contest
I had so many darling pictures of these, but couldn't post them all

I assume this lady belongs to the Red Hat Society
At least she's creative

You just gotta love the look on this child's face while the butterflies give him/her
their full attention in the Butterfly Pavilion!

The ride almost every kid loves. In fact, I still love it.

Another fun ride

Lovin' it!

Hatin' it!

The best way to see the fair....sure saves the feet!

Looks like a stare down contest to me


It's been a long day for this little lady

Good to the last bite!

See what my Daddy won for me? He's my hero!

This little guy's face shows pure joy. Do you remember ever being that happy???
So there you have it; my favorites from the state fair. There were many more pictures, and if you want to see them, go to The Des Moines Register's web site.