Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What Not To Pack

The host of TLC's What Not to Wear, Clinton Kelly, talks to CNN's Travel section about packing light when traveling.

What Not to Pack

Do teenagers think rationally?

Interesting blog from the CNN Health section on whether teenagers are able to think rationally. Written by a producer on Dr. Sanjay Gupta's segment.

Do Teenagers Think Rationally?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

This Thanksgiving Day

We give thanks for all that we have been given...for friends and family, for good food, for the Internet, for blessings large and small. May the awareness of these blessings stay with us and strengthen us through the year.

Psalm 100: 1-5

King James Version (KJV):
Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.
Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the Lord, he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

New International Version (NIV):
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.

The Message:
On your feet now- applaud God!
Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence.
Know this: GOD is God, and God, GOD. He made us; we didn't make him. We're his people, his well-tended sheep.
Enter with the password: "Thank you!" Make yourselves at home, talking praise. Thank him. Worship him.
For God is sheer beauty, all-generous in love, loyal always and ever.

The Word on the Street:
Let it rip! Let it out! Shout!
Let the planet pulse with songs that elevate, celebrate him:
Party songs, get-up-and-dance songs
'Bout the one who rights those wrongs!

Let it rip! Let it out! Shout,
'We know God makes us grow!'
Let there be no doubt, God is God; so elevate, celebrate him.
We belong, belong to him, sing along;
With him we'll sing those strong songs.

So come on in, party on up, give it on out;
Let the celebration in your soul shout out!
Let him know, let it show, throw your thanks about;
Spread his name around, bang the drum:
Make a solid sound with what you've found!

For God is top, large, in charge and pouring out
A barrage of good things! His love rings true,
Bringing in love when the new's not new;
Bringing in love from the future right through.
Bringing down love on everything you do.
So everybody sing, strong and true:
'He's top, till you drop- but he still don't stop!'

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Starting the beautiful season early...

"This Christmas" (Peter Mayer)

It's Christmas time again
New year's 'round the bend
There must be something more than give and take
What it's all about
Turns you inside out
'Til you finally see the difference you make

This Christmas
This Christmas
There's a gift that only you can give.
This Christmas
This Christmas
Give yourself...to love

It's in short supply
Such an obvious demand
Shouldn't be so hard to understand
We hang the lights for hope
Look for the star to follow
Peace on earth
For what it's worth is in our hands

This Christmas
This Christmas
There's a gift that only you can give
This Christmas
This Christmas
Give yourself...

Start with the best of you
Followed by the rest of you
The things you say
The things you do this Christmas
This Christmas

This Christmas
This Christmas
There's a gift that only you can give
This Christmas
This Christmas
Give yourself...

Lend a heart, lend a hand
Make a start and understand
Lend an hour, lend a day
Wrap yourself to give away

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Democratic Debate (Part 1) Liveblog

Democratic Presidential Debate- University of Nevada Las Vegas- 8 PM EST
Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. Barack Obama, John Edwards, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Sen. Joe Biden, Gov. Bill Richardson, Sen. Chris Dodd

8:14- Things are starting off with a bang. Obama and Clinton sparring back and forth in true debate form over healthcare. Clinton accuses Obama of not having a true universal health care program; Obama disagrees strongly. Active audience, already heckling candidates.

8:15- Edwards chimes in- starting interestingly with not claiming perfection, talking about restoring trust in the presidency. Challenges Clinton on a vast range of issues...talking about her voting record.

8:17- Clinton responds- attacks Edwards back, saying he wasn't for universal health care in '04- "positive plan for America"

8:18- Joey Biden weighs in- the mudslinging isn't important- it's all about who's going to take action- "little" plug for his experience at the end

8:20- Edwards: "Is it fair to accuse Sen. Clinton of flip-flopping, but change your own positions?"- his problem is that she sounds like she's saying two different things at basically the same time. Commentary on poverty issue. "People are entitled to know that they have choices."

8:22- Chris Dodd- we want a Democrat in the White House. The American people want results. Focus on that.

8:24- Bill Richardson- "All I want to do is give peace a chance." Stop the mudslinging. Let's debate the issues in a positive way.

8:28- Illegal immigrants: Obama- "a nation of law AND a nation of immigrants." Problem is so distracting we can't solve it. Pro- drivers licenses

8:30- Edwards- Doesn't support drivers licenses for illegal immigrants but is pro- immigration reform.
Chris Dodd- Anti- drivers licenses
Kucinich- pathway to citizenship

8:33- Richardson- pro-public safety; anti- drivers licenses for illegal
Biden- No.

8:34- Chris Dodd- Pay for teachers- merit? excelling? Cannot judge based on students and the areas. Need to spend more on Education- NCLB is a piece of crap.

8:36- Teachers' Union clout- Kucinich "I'm the candidate of workers"- stands for jobs for all, education, health care, etc.

8:37- Richardson- teachers are underpaid and we need to be more bold- junk NCLB and get creative

8:39- Clinton- weeding out the bad teachers- system has served us well but we need to reimagine it
Biden- an excellent teacher should be judged by whether they improve themselves outside the classroom- that's merit pay- gathering additional knowledge- merit pay, who makes the decision?- we should demand more of the teachers but we need to pay them more- "don't tell me what you value, show me your budget"

8:42- Pakistan- are there times when the security of the US is more important than the way an ally conducts itself in terms of democratic ideals?: Biden- Musharraf needs to resign from army and hold free elections by January otherwise will move to cut off funding- needs to come up with detailed plan for Pakistan, not Musharraf- need to up economic welfare-type aid not military aid

8:44- Richardson- suggesting cutting off aid but problem, could endanger US national security- are you concerned? Yes, of course- in this policy we forgot our principles- democracy and human rights are most important to him- condition assistance- restore constitution, free elections, end state of emergency, allow Bhutto to run, reinstate Supreme Court, pursue terrorists effectively- we need to be on the side of democracy- at times human rights are more important than national security--VALUES

8:47- Edwards: basic goals: control extremists, support democratic reformers, free elections, control nukes--> Pakistan example of policy that will not work re: spread of nuclear weapons-- need to lead a long-term worldwide effort to rid the world of nukes

8:48- Obama: human rights and security are complimentary not contradictory > Pakistan's democracy would strengthen our battle against extremists > need to keep nukes out of the hands of extremists but can't just prop up anti-democratic practices

8:49- Dodd: ironic that Bush is encouraging Musharraf to restore constitution--national security more important- need to have sense of balance about free elections- might not work in our favor- need to move to remind Musharraf about his role and his promises but dangerous

8:51- Clinton: national security more important but they are not contradictory necessarily > "we are in a bind" > have to stay on top of situations like Pakistan- president needs to pay attention

8:53- Is Gen. Petraeus right about the surge working? >Richardson: we shouldn't be talking body counts- one is too much. The surge is not working- less possibility of a political solution now- get the troops out in a year but we can't just "wave goodbye"- US-led political compromise among three sects

8:55- Kucinich- surge is not working- troops need out now- adherence to internat'l law

8:56- Obama- troops are doing a great job and making a difference in some places but hasn't made real tangible (esp. political!) difference- troops out in 16 months

8:58- Dangerous toys from China- Kucinich: people who voted for free trade with China bear some responsibility

9:00- Edwards- "Cute, Dennis, cute." Free trade messed up. NAFTA/CAFTA not in the interest of American people.

9:01- Clinton- was Ross Perot right in the 1990s about NAFTA?- it didn't do what we hoped- we need to refigure it- smart trade relations to American benefits- about toys--we need to be concerned and keep an eye on corporations trading- need to be sure they're safe- NAFTA was a mistake because it didn't deliver- need to enforce labor rights

9:03- Dodd- global economy- we need to expand markets and shut down markets when things become unsafe

9:04- Obama- pro-Peru trade agreement but opposed to CAFTA and South Korea- need to send our inspectors over to China to see if products are safe, review agreement every year

9:06- Biden- we can shut this down! It's within our WTO rights- enforce the agreement.

9:07- Obama- Q: You're pro-nuclear power, but what about the waste? > nuclear power has to be part of energy mix, but not whole thing- charge polluters, reinvest in alternative power source research - we can meet our energy challenges

9:09- Richardson- technological solution- make Yucca Mountain a laboratory for safely disposing of nuclear waste-- also need to cut advantages for nuclear power companies- energy revolution- renewable energy- American people need to make some sacrifices

9:10- Clinton- are you exploiting your gender?- no, just trying to play the winning card- people don't attack her "because I'm a woman, they attack me because I'm a-head"- HST quote- "I feel very comfortable in the kitchen"- America has made a lot of progress- especially significant to women- not running because she's a woman but it's history in the making and that's significant

9:14- Edwards- all candidates should be held to same standards- need a strong candidate but voters entitled to know they have choices

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Notes: Terry McAuliffe; Valerie Plame Wilson

Again, benefits of being in Washington, D.C. include being able to hear amazing people speak. Last week, I was able to go and hear from Terry McAuliffe, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and from Valerie Plame Wilson, the former CIA operative who was "outed" by senior Bush administration officials in July 2003.

Terry McAuliffe
Former DNC chairman; chairman of Hillary Clinton for President
7 November 2007
Sponsored by College Democrats

-The Clintons were "the most expensive friends I've ever had."
-Democrats "have got to win this election."
-Iowa's caucus on January 3rd is the earliest ever held in U.S. history.
--> very early primary season, going to go very fast (1st three: Iowa, NH, NV)
-"When I refer to the president, I'm never talking about George Bush." > maintains that Bush stole the election that Gore won.
-Hillary is in a very strong position but polls can change easily- motto is to campaign like they're 20 points behind in the polls
-"Anything can happen in Iowa."
-"You win Ohio, you win the election."
-When other candidates are attacking you- "If they don't talk about you, they don't care about you."
-Woman vote very important in this election
-Democrats are probably going to pick up at least two more Senate seats (NH and VA)-- hopefully!
-Lots of opportunity coming up, but lots of work left to do
-Going to be a very tough, very dirty campaign
-The GOP will tell people things enough that they'll believe it > "The big right-wing echo chamber"
-Mistakes from the 2004 election:
-not responding quickly to the Swift Boat ads
-not being allowed to go on the offensive and say Bush's name at the convention
-losing Ohio
-On being chairman of the DNC: "You get no credit when you win and you get blamed when you lose."
-Hillary won't be elected just because she's a woman BUT don't underestimate its added benefit
-What separates her, among other things, is her solid experience.

Valerie Plame Wilson
Former CIA operative
8 November 2007
Sponsored by Women's Initiative and the Women in Politics Institute

-Finally back to Washington to tell her story, 4 1/2 years later
-Promoting her new book, "Fair Game"
-Proud to serve country in CIA- had many diverse experiences- also served as wife (of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson) and mother (of twins)
-Administration betrayed her status to get back at her husband after his New York Times Op-Ed, "What I Didn't Find in Africa."
-Cannot acknowledge that she was in the CIA prior to January 2002
-Joined CIA because of theme of public service in her family and because it sounded exciting
-Went through exams, interviews, psychological profiles
-CIA- function is to provide solid intelligence to senior officials so they can make informed decisions
-Divided into the Directorate of Administration, Directorate of Intelligence (analysts), Directorate of Science and Technology (Q-branch), and Directorate of Operations, where she worked
-Went to "the farm" after passed exams-- boot camp- paramilitary training, hostile interrogation, escape and invasion, automatic weapons--best shot in her class with an AK-47
-Learned who you could trust, who would fold, who could deliver
-After that, went through Ops course in surveillance, counter-surveillance
-instructors had developed a fake foreign country- elaborate, detailed
-had to find people to spy for the U.S. government/pass information along
-to do that, had to figure out what would motivate them
-artificial but still real pressure
-On her first day, goes in to see her legendary boss, who says, "Twirl around," and then "You'll do." --> disconcerting but proved to be a great boss
-CIA known as an "old boys" network
-no overt sexism
-DO- 17% female, only 1% were in the senior ranks
-Looked for role model who retained her femininity but was well respected in the agency, and who even had a family--near impossible
-Worked in counterproliferation division- facing new kinds of threats- ops started to work with the analysts, bringing in all kinds of diverse experts- known as the "Island of Misfit Toys" but was a new and effective model that was largely responsible for bringing down the Libyan nuclear program
-former Ambassador Joseph Wilson- met at Turkish ambassador's residence, caught each other's eye across the room
-Working on the Iraq Taskforce- try to understand state of Iraqi scientists' research
-1998- UN inspectors left Iraq
9/11- state of WMD intelligence think inconclusive- needed to be sought out- not easy, required creative operations
-Feb. 2002- received phone call from VP Cheney about report on sale of yellowcake uranium from Niger to Iraq
-CIA officials arranged for Joe Wilson to go over to Niger and investigate- Plame did NOT recommend him but was asked to ask him by senior CIA officials- Wilson came back and reported (corroborating other reports) that the rumors were false
-Later in 2002-2003, heard administration's speeches leading to the war- knew they didn't match up with CIA intelligence
-"sinking feeling"- realized intelligence was too patchy- disappointed in the job they did, concerned for troops- CIA ran out of time
-Joe Wilson- told by NYT that the story about the Niger was about to break open, told to write something himself if he wanted to control the shape of the story- wrote op-ed, "What I Didn't Find in Africa"
-both prepared for backlash- gov't acknowledged mention of Africa in speech was a mistake (good)- a week later, Plame revealed as CIA operative
-the Bush administration "used treason as a means to get back at one of its critics"
-senior officials betrayed national security
-series of personal attacks on Plame and Wilson
-Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reports- took info. about Plame passing on the request that Wilson go to Africa out of context
-Jan. 2006- resigned from the CIA
-wrote her book- censored to "protect further vindictive attacks by the government"- denial of First Amendment rights- sued CIA- lost Round 1- appealing- lawyers created fairgameplame.com to raise awareness and support
-publisher of book left in black "censored" lines so the public is aware
-Filed civil suit against the VP, Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, and others -- hold them to account for the abuse of their positions
-moved to Santa Fe- get on with life- but telling the story is important- citizens are the ones responsible for keeping democracy strong.
-Thomas Jefferson- "When the citizens fear the government, that's tyranny. But when the government fears its citizens, that's democracy."

Answers to Questions:
-Impeachment- flows from investigation but can be distracting
-Betrayal has a ripple effect- make informants take their info elsewhere because if the CIA can't protect one of their own, how could they protect them?
-Politics needs to get out of the intelligence industry
-Doesn't want this incident to define her
-Director of the CIA needs the ear of the president but needs to stick to the facts and keep politics out of it

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Amazing song!!!

Brave by Idina Menzel

I don't know just where I'm going
And tomorrow is a little overwhelming
And the air is cold
And I'm not the same anymore

I've been running
In your direction
For too long now
Lost my own reflection
And I can't look down
If you're not there to catch me when I fall

If this is the moment I stand here on my own
If this is my rite of passage that somehow leads me home
I might be afraid, but it's my turn to be brave
If this is the last chance before we say goodbye
At least it's the first day of the rest of my life
I can't be afraid, 'cause it's my turn to be brave

All alone
All I ever wanted was to be the light
When your life was daunting
But I can't see mine
When I feel as though you're pushing me away

Well, who's to blame?
Are we making the right choices?
'Cause we can't be sure
If we're hearing our own voices
As we close the door
Even though we are so desperate to stay

If this is the moment I stand here on my own
If this is my rite of passage that somehow leads me home
I might be afraid but it's my turn to be brave
If this is the last chance before we say goodbye
At least it's the first day of the rest of my life
I can't be afraid cause it's my turn to be brave


Oh, and I might still cry
And I might still bleed
These thorns in my side
This heart on my sleeve
And lightning may strike
This ground at my feet
And I might still crash
But I still believe

This is the moment I stand here all alone
With everything I have inside, everything I own
I might be afraid but it's my turn to be brave
If this is the last time before we say goodbye
At least it's the first day of the rest of my life
I can't be afraid, it's my turn to be brave

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

God's Politics (1)

Thoughts from my readings of Jim Wallis' book God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It.

Introduction: Why Can't We Talk About Religion and Politics?
<>Wallis is frequently correct about how most people don't want to talk about religion, or politics, or both- being at AU, a politically active place where there is a lot of religious diversity and so at least some conversation, I forget sometimes how those subjects turn people off. I remember how much it always annoyed me in high school that the only place we ever talked at all about politics was in Civics class my senior year. People looked at me like I had two heads if I talked about it outside there, and ended the conversation rather quickly.
<>I wish people would take more time to ask whether they are on God's side rather than proclaiming confidently that God is on their side. It ticks me off to no end when people claim God for their political party--not because God is indifferent but because I think He is bigger than any one political affiliation. Like Wallis says, "God is not a Republican. Or a Democrat."
<>"Faith must be free to challenge both right and left from a consistent moral ground." I agree strongly, especially with the consistency part. So few people are consistent on what they believe. For instance, people will be pro-life on abortion but support the death penalty. It bugs me.
<>Poverty is a religious issue. The environment is a religious issue. War is a religious issue. A "consistent ethic of life" is a religious issue.
<>"Personal and social responsibility are both at the heart of religion."AND "God is personal, but never private." Both very true--and something people should keep in mind.
<>It's not a good idea to polarize politics and religion- the two are not mutually exclusive. If you try to isolate them, that leaves "a spirituality without social consequences and a politics with no soul."