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« November 2007 | Main | January 2008 »

Front Page » Monthly Archives » December 2007

By Ally Klimkoski on December 31, 2007

Yours truly has arrived in the great state of Iowa prepared to take on the Establishment and talk about young voters and their impact on the caucus.

Thus far we've been shocked at the lack of yard signs. I was told that apparently Iowa is not a yard sign kinda state. I expected the moment we cross the border that the "Welcome to Iowa" sign would be eclipsed by dozens of giant political signs and the Ron Paul Blimp floating around Ron Paul gold standard slogans mixed with anti-war messages.

But no.

It wasn't until Des Moines until we saw a lonely HOPE (Obama) sign and a giant Hillary Clinton sign after we accidentally took a wrong turn. (No insulting meaning there, we just got kinda lost).

Read more from this post here ...

By J.P. Michaud on December 31, 2007

First, let me clarify a point from my earlier blog on biofuels and farm subsidies. Food should cost more than it does for two reasons: because the true costs of production are not factored in to the price, and because a large portion of the price is currently paid by government in the form of subsidies. What I failed to clarify adequately was my view that these costs should be borne by American consumers - not the farmers.

When I criticized farm subsidies I was not criticizing the farmers who have become dependent upon them, but rather an inefficient and undesirable way of funding agriculture.

We pride ourselves on being a democracy that thrives on a free market system. Subsidies distort free market forces, hide the true cost of food to consumers, and often encourage wasteful production practices.

For example, subsidizing diesel for agriculture encourages excessive tillage, a practice we are trying to discourage to improve soil and moisture conservation. It is generally agreed by economists in the World Trade Organization, including the American representatives, that agricultural subsidies are not a good thing, do not encourage sustainable and efficient agriculture, and should be ultimately abolished. But no country is willing to take the first step in eliminating subsidies because in doing so they put their own farmers at an immediate economic disadvantage. Only if all countries acted simultaneously would no single country be disadvantaged by acting first. Farmers would obtain the same profits, but consumers would pay more of their actual food bill at the supermarket and less of it through taxes.

Read more from this post here ...

By Larry James on December 31, 2007

A litany from Howard Thurman, heard in church on Sunday...

When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.

Read more from this post here ...

By Pamela Jean on December 30, 2007

Middle class and working families are hurting.

Health care costs are skyrocketing while benefits are being cut, and family incomes can't keep up with rising health burdens.

Isn't it wrong for anyone who works hard, pays taxes and plays by the rules to have to go without decent health care or to be driven into economic hardship because of health costs? With American families feeling increasingly helpless in the face of skyrocketing costs and stagnant wages, they are desperate for real reform. An overwhelming 89 percent of Americans - including 80 percent of Republicans and 84 percent of Conservatives - agree with the following statement:

With costs rising out of control and the quality of health coverage declining, the health care system in our country is broken, and we need to make fundamental changes.

Read more from this post here ...

By Nora Thomason on December 29, 2007

How safe is your right to vote? Alarming evidence continues to surface that our votes may be in danger of continued attempts at manipulation and outright suppression. When these sorts of underhanded tactics center on efforts to disqualify voters based on age, race and ethnicity, these so-called dirty tricks are not only reprehensible and unethical - but also unlawful and dangerous.

Recently, Ally Klimkoski gave us a fantastic summary of the newly discovered efforts in her state to "cage" voters. Evidently, Kris Kobach, the chairman of her state's Republican Party sent out an email boasting that his party has "identified and caged more voters in the last 11 months than the previous two years." This is not about party politics. This is about the rule of law. If guilty, Kris Kobach deserves to be bestowed with loud, raucous and sustained opprobrium.

You're about to hear an important story. It's a story that involves both your right to vote, and your right to have your vote counted.

Read more from this post here ...

By Janet Morrison on December 29, 2007

Ms. Sylvia has been asking me to go see her new house since they first found out they were getting it a couple of weeks ago. Things kept coming up and I had never gotten around to it...even when she invited me over for dinner on Christmas day.

Now that I'm done traveling for the holidays, I asked if I could swing by. She eagerly said, "Of course!" and promptly invited the rest of our staff so we could eat, play cards and just hang out--such a gracious and welcoming host...but that's just Ms. Sylvia.

Read more from this post here ...

By Ally Klimkoski on December 28, 2007

After some vote slippage in 2006 the Kansas GOP has taken a wide stance by disenfranchising Kansas voters.

Thanks to a tip-off by Blue Tide Rising many news sources have picked up on Kansas GOP Chairman Kris Kobach's push to disenfranchise many of Kansas's 2008 voters.

According to the BRAD Blog, a well known national blog that covers voting rights issues,

"In any case, it's clear that the undemocratic (small "d") practice of working to keep Democratic (large "D") voters off the rolls, through any means necessary, in order to keep them from voting, though any means necessary, has been mainlined as perhaps the top strategy for the GOP in 2008. Even Bush's Dept. of Justice, under the hand of John "Minorities Die First" Tanner, has now been officially mobilized to direct such practices on behalf of the Republican States of America.

For more, see PBS' long-overdue video report from last Summer, on the GOP's sordid history of vote caging and the corporate American mainstream media's failure to cover it when it might have mattered."

Read more from this post here ...

By Larry James on December 28, 2007

The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture will host its annual Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration symposium on Monday evening, January 21, 2008 from 7:00 to 8:45 p.m. at The Belo Mansion. Central Dallas Ministries is very proud to be one of the community organizations co-sponsoring the event.

Pulitzer Prize-Winning author Taylor Branch will be the distinguished speaker. Branch's epic trilogy, America in the King Years, won him the coveted prize.

Read more from this post here ...

By Janet Morrison on December 28, 2007

It's amazing what connections can be made at Starbucks! (ok...well, maybe that's an excuse. :) ).

A couple of weeks ago I met a friend of a friend for coffee. We both had similar desires to see kids get into college and be successful. From that meeting, we planned a College Prep Day. As I talked to parents and invited teenagers, I was pleasantly surprised at the number of teenagers who said they were coming.

I was quickly disappointed when I called to confirm with each of them the day before the event. There were many different reasons... "I forgot"... "My daughter's sick"...

Then the day of the event..."My brother went to work with my dad"... "She had to watch her younger sisters and brother because her mom had to work."

I get frustrated when people have opportunities, literally in their back yard, yet they don't take advantage of those opportunities.

Read more from this post here ...

By Ally Klimkoski on December 28, 2007

The Washington Bus has just left the station. According to an email announcing the launch of their website, the recipient of the west coast Go Grant, has taken to stirring up trouble by getting young people involved in politics.

Modeled off of their sister to the south's org the Oregon Bus Project, the WA Bus is offering similar programs including Trick or Vote, Rebooting Democracy, and enacting young people powered politics.

Read more from this post here ...

By Larry James on December 27, 2007

Our dear friend, Ann Arnold called last week. She learned of the death of my father and needed to touch base to make sure we were alright and to express condolences.

Ann and Wayne Arnold have lived in New Orleans, Louisiana for over 40 years. Their daughter, Missy Arnold Wilson, and our oldest daughter, Jennifer, have been good friends since they were little girls. We met the Arnolds when we moved to New Orleans in 1975. During our five years in that wonderful old city, Ann and Wayne showed us the ropes in more ways than one!

Wayne and Ann are heading into their third Christmas since Hurricane Katrina ravaged their city. Nothing much has changed or been done to address the disaster left in Katrina's wake.

I've been watching Brad Pitt on television over the past couple of weeks. Last Friday evening, Larry King interviewed him...

Read more from this post here ...

By Larry James on December 26, 2007

States can be a lot like people. Operating philosophies produce certain results. Neglect tends toward tragedy and amazingly disturbing outcomes.

Here's how bad things are in Texas these days - the Dallas Morning News ran a multi-page, feature report in its Points section last Sunday with the headline, The bottom line, chronicling the social nightmare that is playing out in the overly proud Lone Star State.

Want a study in the extended consequences of "trickle down," laissez-faire public policy? Come to Texas.

The state is a model of how not to do it in just about every category related to the prevention and relief of human suffering and societal injustice.

Talk about the power of a system gone wrong...

Read more from this post here ...

By Larry James on December 25, 2007

I often wonder if anyone today actually understands Jesus. Certainly, few out of my tradition seem to comprehend what his mother expected of him as she carried him to birth.

Mary's song, often referred to as the Magnificat, anticipates a very different sort of Savior than the one celebrated in many churches on this day.

Her lyrics arise from a strongly prophetic tradition.

Her words reveal that the baby she will bring into the world will be a warrior for the poor, a strong advocate for the oppressed, a major source of inspiration for the marginalized.

Read more from this post here ...

By Zola Jones on December 23, 2007

They wanted to attend a meeting that would impact their very futures in the city that they love.

This past Thursday, you may have noticed in the national news that thousands of lifelong New Orleans residents were being treated to pepper spray, mace, and batons as a way to keep them from attending that meeting in City Hall.

It's been two years since many of these folks survived the horrors at the New Orleans Convention Center and the Super Dome. In the months since, their lives have gone from horrifying to hopeless to abject tragedy. Thursday in New Orleans was an ugly and heartbreaking scene.

Why were these folks downtown? What brought them to this?

Read more from this post here ...

By Larry James on December 23, 2007

So long as my memory lasts, I'll likely never forget the week linking the third Sunday in Advent with the fourth Sunday 2007.

While waiting for the arrival of the child of hope, my father died.

At mid-week we gathered with a crowd of friends, relatives and associates to begin the memorial and healing process. Dad's wake or "visitation" on Wednesday was not only memorable, but remarkable. Church folks, relatives, long-time business associates, people from all walks of life dropped by to express their love and sympathy. The rich, the poor, the educated, the uneducated, the young, the old - all came to pay their respects.

They lifted us.

Two guests stand out from that evening.

Read more from this post here ...

By Lucy Belnora on December 22, 2007

I felt both enlightened and discouraged after reading Pam's very informative blog about health care. Since my own medical insurance is reasonably priced and offers reasonable coverage, I think I've been guilty of keeping my head in the sand like an ostrich. That post helped me to really face up to how broken our American health care system truly is.

Still, with all of this on my mind, a man in Iowa lifted me up with his words. I want to tell you about him and what he said.

Read more from this post here ...

By Larry James on December 22, 2007

Years ago, a good friend commented to me that "our children live in a very noisy world." He was speaking of the life environment of inner city families and children.

Of course, he was correct. Here is a paradox we would do well not to ignore: communities of health and strength are built and maintained by individuals who understand the importance of the "inner life." The ability to go inward, to find times for quiet reflection, to pray and to meditate -- this is essential to the growth of authentic, life-sustaining groups. Community development depends on the "soul-development" of each member of the community.

I read Heron Dance as a tool for journeying inward. The latest on-line edition contains the water color I've posted below, along with the following words...

Read more from this post here ...

By Adrian Klaphaak on December 21, 2007

I have a powerful true story of The Christmas Truce to share from World War I. The story serves as a wonderful reminder that we all have the ability to call a truce and enjoy a moment of peace. This is a great way to bring closure to the past year and create space and energy for expanded possibilities in the new year. In my case, I will make the effort to call a truce between my heart and my head and cultivate peace within.

Part I: True Historical Account of the Christmas Truce

(paraphrased from

You are standing up to your knees in the slime of a waterlogged trench. It is the evening of 24 December 1914 and you are on the dreaded Western Front.

All is quiet when jovial voices call out from both friendly and enemy trenches. Then the men from both sides start singing carols and songs. Next come requests not to fire, and soon the unthinkable happens: you start to see the shadowy shapes of soldiers gathering together in no-man's land laughing, joking and sharing gifts.

Plucking up your courage, you haul yourself up and out of the trench and walk towards the foe...

Read more from this post here ...

By Ally Klimkoski on December 21, 2007

I found out about two new young candidates in Kansas stepping up to the plate to run for office. I'm learning more and more about young candidates across the country and always love to shill for them as I go.

In Wichita, Donald Betts seeks the Congressional seat in the 4th district.

Betts, 29, was elected the youngest person in history to the Kansas State Senate in 2004 after serving a previous term in the State House, a post he took in 2002 at the age of 24.

In an interview with me Betts commented

"I want young people who thought that something like this could never happen to at least have some hope that it is possible if only they try."

Read more from this post here ...

By Larry James on December 21, 2007

Lots of folks have theories and opinions about the so called "poor." I invite and encounter the theories right here almost every day.

Most who comment here don't really understand poverty or what life is like inside the limits defined and imposed, often cruelly, by this reality. I know for sure that I don't really understand. I'm not poor. I've never been really poor. I come face-to-face with my ignorance when I relate to impoverished families who must deal with the practicalities of death in the city.

What is a very poor family to do when a loved one dies?

Read more from this post here ...

Earlier posts in this month:

Choosing Death or Debt: Is This Our Health Care System?, December 20, 2007
The good, the bad and the snowy, December 20, 2007
Rock, December 19, 2007
Conservative Origins of the Sub-Prime Crisis, December 18, 2007
The Courage to Change the Things We Can, December 18, 2007
Daddy, December 18, 2007
Not Charity: It's Time and Energy, December 17, 2007
The President Denies Health Care for 10 Million Kids, December 16, 2007
Radio Nowhere, December 15, 2007
Millennial Soldiers Survive Iraq, Still Die from It, December 14, 2007
Right Here for you, December 14, 2007
What is a Christian to do?, December 13, 2007
Knock knock. Who's there? The future. What future?!, December 13, 2007
The Power of Racism, December 13, 2007
Kids in Africa and Asia would love to have your job, December 12, 2007
What We Need, December 12, 2007
Happiness, December 12, 2007
Casualties of the culture wars, December 12, 2007
Food prices will go up - for the wrong reasons, December 12, 2007
The President's plan would deprive tens of thousands of decent housing, December 11, 2007
Assets for Moving Forward, December 11, 2007
AK-47s and Civil Society, December 10, 2007
Students an Easy and Convenient Target, December 10, 2007
An old lady with a baby doll, December 10, 2007
Where even public transportation refuses to go after dark, December 9, 2007
America: The Welcoming, December 9, 2007
Economic Mobility and Generations, December 9, 2007
Boyda Embraced by Republicans, December 7, 2007
Leading Beyond Fear, December 6, 2007
Surprises and Woes, December 6, 2007
Blood on the Leaves, Blood at the Root, December 4, 2007
Rep. Nancy Boyda Fighting NAFTA, December 3, 2007
Good People with Good Credit are Losing Their Homes, December 3, 2007
He's a Criminal: He Stole Our Future, December 3, 2007
Strange Fruit: Power in the Powerless, December 3, 2007
Cheney's Wager with History, December 2, 2007
Rick Reilly: Coaching the Grief-stricken, December 2, 2007
Gobble, Gobble, Slot Machine, December 2, 2007

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