Saturday, January 24, 2009

My Happy Picture

My husband took this picture one spring morning. It makes me feel like spring will come again, even though there are several feet of snow outside right now. Sometimes, I need the reminder.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama Watch 2009, So Far, So Good

I will admit up front that I did not vote for Barack Obama. I voted for Sarah Palin, because I wanted the type of change she embodied. (I'm a female, Christian, mother, and a compassionate conservative, just so you know.) However, I listened to the President's speech yesterday and was impressed. He is very eloquent. If he can live up to some of the things he spoke of, that will be a good thing. In hindsight, other presidents' inaugural addresses also sounded very good (*cough* Clinton *cough*), but the actual record is less than impressive. So I plan to watch what President Obama does in the next four years, and let my opinions be heard. I'm not a political activist (yet), but I'm learning.

Today, I read the news that President Obama has frozen the salaries of around 100 White House employees who make over $100,000 a year. (Hey, Mr. President, I know a few people who might be willing to work at the White House for less than $100,000 a year, if you're really wanting to tighten things up.)

Not raising salaries in this economic climate seems to be a sensible thing.

President Obama has also imposed some strict limits on lobbying. In a nutshell,if aides leave his staff, they are banned from lobbying the administration. New hires will be banned from working on matters they once lobbied on or with agencies they once worked for. Lobbyists are banned from giving gifts of any size to any member of Obama's administration. And if someone leaves his administration, they are not allowed to try to influence a former colleague for two years.

Has no one restricted lobbying before? That's just common sense.

And President Obama is also loosening up public access to information. He has instructed government agencies to not look for ways to prevent access, but to find reasons to give access. He stated, "For a long time now, there's been too much secrecy in this city."

You tell 'em, Mr. President.

I'm sure many people could make good arguments against some of these policies. To me, President Obama is making the first steps toward running the country like a good business. But this is only Obama's second (official) day in office. Let's wait and see what the fallout is, and what he does next. Remember Matthew 7:16-20. "By their fruits ye shall know them."

If you want to comment on what the President does, or tell him what you think needs to be done, follow these links.
The Office of Public Liaison & Intergovernmental Affairs (OPL-IGA)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Help an American Soldier

"The way to have good soldiers is to treat them rightly...
A private soldier has as much right to
justice as a major general."
Abraham Lincoln 1809-1865

Soldiers are trained to follow orders. Failure to follow orders is called insubordination. But what happens when a soldier follows orders, but then is used as a scapegoat for political reasons? This is what happened in the case of Sgt. Evan Vela, from Idaho. He was sentenced to 10 years for killing an unarmed Iraqi civilian on the order of his commanding officer. Sgt. Vela's family has been tireless in their pursuit of justice. Their last best hope is a pardon from President Bush. The following was on the local news tonight.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) - The father of an eastern Idaho soldier says he has received a letter from the White House confirming that his request that his son be pardoned by President Bush is being "seriously considered."

Curtis Carnahan says he received the letter last week.

Sgt. Evan Vela, a 24-year-old U.S. Army sniper, was convicted in February and sentenced to 10 years in prison for killing an unarmed Iraqi civilian who stumbled upon him and five other soldiers sleeping on May 11, 2007.

Vela also was convicted of planting an AK-47 on the dead man's body and of lying to military investigators.

Carnahan says he's hopeful the president will do something to free Vela.

(A note here: Sgt. Vela's team leader, Staff Sgt. Michael Hensley, admitted under oath that he had ordered Sgt. Vela to shoot the man, who he felt was a threat to the safety of their team, and that he, Sgt. Hensley, was the one who planted the AK-47 on the dead man's body.)

So far, President Bush has pardoned an embezzler, a moonshiner, a bootlegger, a drug runner, a poacher, a counterfeiter, and a car thief. He has pardoned mail fraud, food stamp fraud, armed bank robbery, unlawful disposal of hazardous waste, tax fraud, and making false statements on a bank loan. To date, President Bush has pardoned 191 people and commuted the sentences of 9 people.

Wouldn't it be a little more expedient for the President to pardon an American soldier who was following orders and was then used as a scapegoat for political reasons?

Go to to find out how you can help Sgt. Evan Vela and his family.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

There is something empowering about New Year's Day, like anything is possible if I just start today. I'm still the same person I was yesterday. My socioeconomic status has not changed. My environment is pretty much the same, except our good neighbor used his new tractor to clear the knee-deep snow from our parking area and deposit it in a 5-foot pile on the lawn.

Everyone seems skeptical lately about New Year's resolutions, probably with good reason. But every year I have the feeling that THIS time, I will stick with the goals I make. I usually feel the thrill of success for a while. I make charts and graphs and detail my progress in my journal, which I vow to write in daily. Then somehow my real life intrudes on my ideal life and I abandon my grandiose ambitions and end up in the same old rut.

This year I am starting over again, but more realistically, I hope. For instance, I have set only three goals, instead of 15 or 20. I will record my progress, but not to the point that updating my charts and graphs consumes all my free time. A simple check mark on a calendar (or maybe a cute sticker) should be enough.

So to take it public, here are my goals for 2009 (so far).

I will read from the scriptures daily, probably each night before bed. But if the opportunity presents itself, I will read them in the morning or on my lunch break. I've done this before, sometimes for months without fail, but the habit is too easy to break. Life just seems to go better when I take the time to read God's word.

I will write every day, preferably for my current WIP, but I will give myself credit for journalling and blog posts. I have thought about recording word counts for the day, but that seems too close to the chart and graph territory.

I will record (honestly) what I eat every day. Notice I did not use the D word. I hate dieting. I've done at least three rounds with Weight Watchers, two with Diet Center. It all works, until I reach the screaming-with-frustration point. I don't like someone else telling me what I can and cannot do, and diet programs are no exception. And sometimes I just can't face another green leafy vegetable and I need a vacation. However, I have learned from WW and DC that simply paying attention to what I am eating and how much I am eating works for me. It circumvents mindless eating. I can go through half a bag of white corn tortilla chips in one sitting if I'm not paying attention. My real goal here is to take eating off autopilot and see what happens.

That's it so far. I've already earned two stickers today and I'm closing in on the third. I think I'll make it. Wish me luck.