FBI Flies Surveillance over Me and Thee

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by DonkeyHotey https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by DonkeyHotey https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/

I wonder if the government is going through our lingerie drawers when we’re out of the house.

That’s about the only thing they seem to be missing in their zeal to pry into what Americans are doing.

We all know about the government scooping up our cell phone calls and emails. We also know that they monitor our bank accounts to see if we withdrawing our money in suspicious ways. It’s even a federal crime to withdraw your own money from your own bank account in a “structured way.” You don’t have to commit any other crime. All you have to do is withdraw your own money from your own account in the wrong way.

Now it turns out that the FBI hires fleets of airplanes from dummy companies that it’s created to fly surveillance over Americans. The FBI says that these planes are “not equipped” to fly surveillance over me and thee. They are, rather used for “operational” activities.

So, we have a question, and that question is, do we believe the FBI?

Is this is all shades of Cold War spy stuff turned on the American people? Is the FBI running a U2 spy plane deal like those our country once flew over Communist countries?

We did that because Communist leaders said things like “We will bury you,” to America, and they had the bomb and an air force and missiles and a navy and World War II had proven they knew how to fight.

Is the FBI now running the same kind of surveillance on little old us?

If the FBI turns out to be engaging in a U2 scenario against the American people — and given what we already know the government is doing to us, that’s a fair question — I can’t help but wonder which American managed to scare the government so badly that it is so afraid of its citizens.

Our government is increasingly an isolated bubble of group think whose decision-making positions are held by graduates of a few schools and members of a few think tanks and organizations who all know one another. They are as separated from the American people as a lone fisherman, living on the banks of the Amazon.

They not only don’t know anything about the people of this country, they have contempt for us. If you doubt that, just replay a couple of the comments made by President Obama and Governor Romney in their respective campaigns. If you take them at their words, you can only conclude that We the People are a bunch of unwashed ignoramuses to both of them.

They not only have contempt for us, they are, if all this surveillance means anything, afraid of us.

The real question here is does law enforcement exist to enforce the law and maintain the pubic safety in the interests of domestic tranquility, or does it exist to control the American people? If it turns out that the FBI really is surveilling the American people, U2 style, then I think the answer is clearly the latter.

From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI is operating a small air force with scores of low-flying planes across the country carrying video and, at times, cellphone surveillance technology — all hidden behind fictitious companies that are fronts for the government, The Associated Press has learned.

The planes’ surveillance equipment is generally used without a judge’s approval, and the FBI said the flights are used for specific, ongoing investigations. The FBI said it uses front companies to protect the safety of the pilots and aircraft. It also shields the identity of the aircraft so that suspects on the ground don’t know they’re being watched by the FBI.

In a recent 30-day period, the agency flew above more than 30 cities in 11 states across the country, an AP review found.

Aerial surveillance represents a changing frontier for law enforcement, providing what the government maintains is an important tool in criminal, terrorism or intelligence probes. But the program raises questions about whether there should be updated policies protecting civil liberties as new technologies pose intrusive opportunities for government spying.

U.S. law enforcement officials confirmed for the first time the wide-scale use of the aircraft, which the AP traced to at least 13 fake companies, such as FVX Research, KQM Aviation, NBR Aviation and PXW Services.

Even basic aspects of the program are withheld from the public in censored versions of official reports from the Justice Department’s inspector general.

The FBI also has been careful not to reveal its surveillance flights in court documents.

“The FBI’s aviation program is not secret,” spokesman Christopher Allen said in a statement. “Specific aircraft and their capabilities are protected for operational security purposes.” Allen added that the FBI’s planes “are not equipped, designed or used for bulk collection activities or mass surveillance.”

But the planes can capture video of unrelated criminal activity on the ground that could be handed over for prosecutions.

Some of the aircraft can also be equipped with technology that can identify thousands of people below through the cellphones they carry, even if they’re not making a call or in public. Officials said that practice, which mimics cell towers and gets phones to reveal basic subscriber information, is rare.

Details confirmed by the FBI track closely with published reports since at least 2003 that a government surveillance program might be behind suspicious-looking planes slowly circling neighborhoods.

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I’m Triaging My Life for Thriving, Not Just Surviving

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

I volunteered to host my book club at my house tonight.

Then, life piled on and I made a decision to move the book club meeting to a local restaurant. My fellow book-clubbers were not only gracious about it, they seemed delighted with the prospect of dining while we talk.

I could, if I had been stupid, have soldiered through, putting together snacks and polishing my house so I could play hostess. But that would have been, as I said, stupid.

I had plans to write a blog post today about a topical issue, taking my own slant on the subject. I’d done some research, filed the links in Omnifocus and had it ready to put together. That was going to be today’s big post.

Then, Mama’s hallucinations came back and I need to spend the day going from doc to doc. I could, if I had been stupid, have skipped my early-morning aerobics class and put that post together. But that would been, as I said, stupid.

Both these things would have violated the triage I’ve set up for my life. This isn’t the first time I’ve had to establish iron-clad priorities and stick with them, even when it stings. That’s the life of every successful elected official. I would never have been elected without the ability to do this, and I could never have passed all the legislation and taken care of my district and still had a happy home life without it, either.

I thought I was past that kind of self-discipline when I walked out of the House. I ping-ponged around for months, while the exigencies of Mama’s dementia made hash of my life, my health and my state of mind. I wasn’t managing these things; they were managing me.

It all came to a resounding crash a couple of months ago. Mama’s dementia tripped over into active 24/7 hallucinations of the ugly kind, and then, right on schedule, I got sick and couldn’t get well. Suddenly, I was out so deep in the deep that I couldn’t touch bottom, and I was so tired, that, try as I might, I was swallowing water and dipping under.

Enter depression, a big shot of despair and anger. It was miserable.

I prayed and prayed and I didn’t think I was getting answers. But God was answering me, He just wasn’t telling me about it. Help came in the form of new medications and healing in my own body. Help came in that small still voice that told me that I wasn’t going to be able to do this perfectly, but doing it in a messy way with lots of mistakes was alright. It was ok to just muddle through.

God gave me something I didn’t pray for but which has helped me more than I can say. He gave me peace with my own weaknesses and faults, acceptance of my failures and stumbles. He gave me His love and His acceptance and His assurance that imperfect was good enough.

I didn’t hear voices, and I didn’t get specific direction. What I got was a gentle attagirl and a loving Peace, Be Still.

The rest came from me. God gave me courage and peace. He freed my mind from the depression and anguish and that let me find my own way out of the woods.

Robert Frost said that the way out is through. In this case, he was absolutely right. The way out is through. I’m not the perfect daughter doing the perfect job of caregiving. I am just me, seeing my Mama home the best way that I can.

The first rule of going through is to make sure that you get through. What that means in direct terms is don’t get sick. In the new triage of my life, I have a husband, a mother, and my own self to tend to. My precious children are adults who can and do take care of themselves. Not only that, but they’ve come on board big time in terms of Mama, or as they call her, Amah care.

My first priority isn’t taking care of Mama or even being a wife to my husband. My first priority is taking care of me. By that I mean two simple things: Don’t get sick spiritually and don’t get sick physically.

A couple of the Catholic Patheosi are pretty much saints. I won’t embarrass them by detailing their life of prayer and worship. It’s enough for the purposes of this post to say that I ain’t them. For me, not getting sick spiritually depends an awful lot on God’s mercy. I pray, and I pray often. But many of my prayers are said while I’m driving my car or loading the dishwasher or giving Mama her bath or throwing out her dirty diapers.

One constant prayer is simply that God will save me from my inner jerk.

I go to mass, but only once a week. There was a time when I went every day, but not now. I probably should start going more often, simply because every time I take the Eucharist, it heals me, and I do need healing. But it’s tough to start something new right now.

My first area of triage is simply this: Get 8 hours sleep (I’m not doing so good at this one), go to aerobics class and ride my recumbent bike on the off days, stop eating junk. This is number one. If I crater physically, I can’t do anything else.

Right next to this is pay the bills, keep the car and house maintained. This isn’t time consuming, but it must be done.

Still in the first area of triage is say a prayer, read the Bible and play some music on the piano every day. The piano soothes and heals me almost as much as sleep and exercise. Ditto for prayer and Scripture.

Then, my next first area of triage is take care of Mama. This is huge. It’s hours and hours. It’s unpredictable and crazy making. It’s why I have to stay prayed up and exercise, sleep, eat right. I can not take care of Mama unless I do those things.

The other thing in my first area of triage is my husband. He’s my other half, my life’s partner, my lover and my love. It’s a joy to spend time with him. I can’t let him and our relationship be shoved out of my life by other things.

Spiritual and physical health, Mama, hubby: These are first priorities.

Second priorities are the book and the blog. The blog comes after the book in priorities.

Third is everything else. That includes keeping the house clean, doing laundry, etc.

So, the reason I haven’t been blogging as much is simple. The blog got bumped to second place of second place. I blog after I take care of me, Mama, hubby, pay the bills, change the oil in my car, get the air conditioner serviced and write my book. The blog still comes in ahead of running the vacuum and doing the laundry. Fortunately, those things fit easily in odd moments.

When I need to stand up and take a break, I vacuum the living room or empty the dishwasher.

What I don’t do is skip aerobics to blog or short-change my husband to work on the book.

That, my friends, is the new triage of my life. It seems to be working, but as I said, Mama’s hallucinations are back. That may well force a whole new paradigm on me. I’m doing doctor duty today. And that’s why this is the only post you’ll see from me until tomorrow.

Prayers and blessings to each of you.

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Do-It-Yourself Home Office Organization That Won’t Drive You to the Dogs

Copyright Rebecca Hamilton, All Rights Reserved

Omnifocus Pro Screen Shot. Copyright Rebecca Hamilton, All Rights Reserved

I didn’t wait around about closing down my legislative office. I was ready to go.

I had been packing for weeks. We adjourned on Friday, the following Monday we took my son’s pickup to the capitol and loaded it up with my stuff. It actually took two trips.

I unpacked it … sort of. I put things with no place to go in drawers and closets; stacked artwork and framed documents, and proceeded to ignore the mess for the next year.

I also ignored the needs of revamping how I do things.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I realized that it was time, past time in fact, to plow through this and get rid of it. This realization began with another realization: I need to organize my work life according to the work I’m doing and not the work that I did.

That began with looking at my software. I discovered that my computer back door into the House was still active. I could, if I wanted, go into the bowels of the legislative process and co-author bills, file amendments, and, I guess, even author bills. I tried to delete this, and found that it wouldn’t go away.

Finally, I gave up and decided to do a complete reformat of every computer. That took a while, but it was well worth it. I backed up all the files that relate to the legislature onto my archive drive and then wiped the main drives clean. I only reinstalled software that I actually use.

I had another realization that had been pinging me for several months now: I need to get serious about organizing calendars. I came into this writing deal from the thoroughly spoiled vantage of an elected lawmaker. Legislators don’t worry about getting to things on time or remembering appointments, or even making appointments.

When I was a legislator, I had somebody who did all that for me. Lila, Deborah, Linda, Miss Trina made sure that my schedule was buttoned down tight. They handed me maps on how to get there, agendas and lists of notes for every occasion. They reminded me which mark to hit. If I took a trip, they not only made every arrangement in advance, they handed me a folder with every detail I could possibly need arranged in one, two, three, follow-the-yellow-brick-road format.

I couldn’t do all that for myself if I was still a rep. The workload is too much, the scheduling too complicated and too tight. I needed to keep sharp just to handle what I was handling.

Now that I’m running my own little ship, things are much less fraught. I am challenged by taking care of Mama while trying to do all else, but the scheduling is down to simple stuff like doctor’s appointments and going to the bank, with an occasional speech or public event thrown in for spice.

It should be ez pz. But it’s not. I find myself struggling to carve out time to write my book, time to sleep and time to relax. Caregiving has its own demands and they tend to wreak havoc with schedules.

I’m faced with an entirely different kind of planning than I have done before. Writing a book requires extensive research and outlining. Writing a blog takes a chunk of time every day. Caring for Mama is all about constant interruptions, intermittent runs to the er, and unpredictability that can slip into chaos at a moment’s notice.

The thing about caring for a 90-year-old-going-on-two is that things can slide from calm and settled to out of the box crazy and terrifying in seconds. Oldsters get a cough. It’s just a little cough. Then, without warning, they’re wheezing and struggling to breathe and your day looks like a drawerful of stuff that someone jerked out and upended on the floor.

I spent months “handling” this by putting my head down in dumb endurance; like a buffalo, walking into the wind. Then I realized that if I don’t get on top of it, it’s going to roll right over me and leave me flat.

How to organize this in a workable way? That was the question I faced when I finally got around to considering these things.

My first stop was to consider what software I needed to help me get organized and work more efficiently. I thought about Microsoft Outlook. That’s the software of choice for the people who had kept me marching in a straight line when I was a legislator.

I actually signed up for MS Office’s monthly fee and downloaded it. Then I realized that MS Office is an island of sorts. It doesn’t play all that well with Scrivener or Curio or Aeon Timeline. That gave me pause.

When I finally understood that if I wanted to sync my Outlook planning files to my iPhone, iPad, MacBooks, I would have to upgrade to the business version, I bailed. Apple syncs my calendar and contacts for free. I like that price.

Still, I needed more powerful planning software than Apple’s Calendar and Contacts. That’s when I remembered that I owned a software called Omnifocus Pro. I bought it on a special introductory deal a while back, then didn’t use it because I had people doing what it did for me.

I downloaded Omnifocus (I have the pro version) and fired it up. It turns out that it’s exactly what I need and that I much prefer the combination of Omnifocus/Calendar/Contacts/Mail to MS Office. They work together seamlessly, and it didn’t cost me a dime. Also, Omnifocus is very friendly with Curio. Curio is a wonderful software that I’ll talk about in another post.

I’ve got my computer work process streamlined now. I have planning software that works for me, and everything syncs like magic. This process has convinced me that Microsoft Office may the best for a corporate type environment, but it has serious shortcomings for a blogger/writer/mom/caregiver.

That’s difficult since I’ve sworn that I will abandon Apple when these devices become obsolete. The problem isn’t the big stuff. MS Office will work for a writer, although it’s not very elegant. I actually prefer Access to Filemaker Pro, although I don’t really need either now that I’m running a small shop. MS Publisher is the best software going for putting out mailings for campaigns. But I don’t do that anymore, either. Outlook is probably the best for complex schedules, especially for more than one person. But I fly solo now, and my schedule is unpredictable; not complex.

Here’s how I’m doing the organization part of my computing life today.

I made a schedule with times blocked off for blogging, book writing, Mama’s daily stuff, my aerobics class, etc. The schedule syncs automatically between Omnifocus Pro and Calendar. It also picks up addresses, phone numbers, etc, automatically from Contacts. In fact, it even gives me a map to appointments.

I set up projects for the blog, the book and Mama in Omnifocus Pro. Omnifocus Pro syncs with Safari, so if I find a web site I want to blog about, I can just send it to Omnfocus Pro. If I plan an activity in Omnifocus Pro, it automatically goes to calendar. I can view calendar from inside Omnifocus Pro, so I have a multi-colored view of my schedule with times blocked off. It’s so simple, Leisy and Lufte could do it.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Everything syncs automatically between all my devices.

This setup seems to be working. I get a lot more done, and I don’t feel so stressed. It’s great to be able to pick up my iPhone and see everything I need to know, wherever I am. In fact, it comes close to making my iPhone a replacement for those incredible folders I used to get when I was in the House.

This allows me a more livable life. Thanks to better scheduling through technology I’m not constantly walking into days that look like this:

dog.jpg

Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

 

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Former Oklahoma Rep Randy Terrill Begins Prison Sentence

Rep Randy Terrill. Photo Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives File Photo.

Rep Randy Terrill. Photo Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives File Photo.

My former colleague Representative Randy Terrill surrendered to authorities today. He is beginning a one-year prison sentence for bribery. He will also pay a $5,000 fine.

Rep Terrill and I fought one another to a fare-thee-well over immigration laws that he passed. Other times, on other issues, we agreed with one another.

But the important thing to me is not the issues. It is the tragedy of seeing someone I know go to prison. I will pray for Randy. He can come back from this and live a good life. I hope that is what he does.

From kfor.com:

OKLAHOMA CITY – A former State Representative turned himself into authorities Friday morning to begin service his sentence for his political bribery conviction.

Randy Terrill’s surrender comes exactly one week after the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals upheld his conviction.

He will be transferred to a state prison where he will serve one year for the crime.

He also has to pay a $5,000 fine.

His co-defendant, former State Senator Debbe Leftwich, is serving one year of probation.

 

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Crisis Pregnancy Centers are Under Attack for Saving Lives

Copyright:  Mother and Unborn Child Care. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Mother and Unborn Child Care. All Rights Reserved.

Two days ago, the California Assembly passed a bill attacking crisis pregnancy centers. Among other things, this new law would require crisis pregnancy centers to refer women for abortions.

The President of the United States has staked his administration’s legacy on an attempt, through the HHS Mandate, to force Catholic ministries and Christian businesses to pay for contraceptives, including abortifacients.

Christian small business people are being threatened with life-destroying fines and the loss of their livelihoods if they will not bake cakes and provide flowers for gay weddings. This is being called discrimination on the part of these small businesses, even though it is nothing of the sort.

They do not discriminate against any group of people. They offer service to all, including homosexuals. What they do not want is to participate in this one type of event which violates their religious faith.

Why are these things happening?

Why is it so important to those who hold different viewpoints from traditional Christianity to force Christians to violate their faith?

The answer is that in terms of practical reality, it isn’t. Crisis pregnancy centers do not stop women from choosing an abortion. “Choice” co-exists with crisis pregnancy centers.

What crisis pregnancy centers do is offer life-saving alternatives to abortion. Unlike the scrape ‘em and street ‘em abortion clinics, crisis pregnancy centers are in for the long haul. They help women throughout their pregnancies and afterward.

Birth Choice of Oklahoma, the crisis pregnancy center where I volunteered, also has a home where women can stay during their pregnancies. We have women who come back to bring their adult children who they chose not to abort because of Birth Choices’ ministry to them in a desperate time of their lives.

These women are grateful beyond words for their children’s lives. Grateful, too, for the lives of their grandchildren. They realize now what they would have lost if they had chosen to kill their baby. They are grateful to the people who helped them and supported them so that they could chose life instead of death for their child.

That doesn’t answer the question as to why crisis pregnancy centers are under attack, why a President has staked his administration’s place in history on an attempt to narrow and ultimately destroy the First Amendment, why the existence of Christian small businesses who don’t want to violate their faith is such a cause of rage and hatred.

Pro life people have used the business model to explain the attacks on crisis pregnancy centers. After all, abortion is a big, profitable business. It turns out that doctors who kill can make a killing doing their worst.

So, pro life people posit that abortionists attack crisis pregnancy centers because these centers cost them business. It is all a matter of  the doh rey mi.

The trouble with this explanation is that it doesn’t explain why a president would destroy his own place in history, just to attack religious freedom. It doesn’t explain why destroying every small business person who does not want to participate in gay weddings must be ground to dust.

There’s more afoot than money in this desire to punish and destroy competing voices in the march to cultural nihilism. It appears that the something lying at the bottom of this sewer of coercion is far simpler and pure in its evil than greed.

I think what we are dealing with is a desire to destroy faith itself. Every time a Christian is forced by government power to chose between following Christ and doing what the government commands, one of two things must happen. The Christian either bows low before government and denies Christ, or they chose Christ and defy the government.

If they deny Christ, the demons and devils rejoice, and Christian witness in our society dies another death. If they chose Christ, the government swings into action to either bring them to heel or destroy them. Either way, the lesson is plain for every other Christian to see: Following Jesus can cost you everything you have. The government will attack you with all its might, and the media and the howling Christian haters will support them in doing it.

Worse, other Christians will mostly just stand by and let it happen by making a Niemoller choice that, since this isn’t happening to them personally, they can pretend that it doesn’t matter all that much.

Crisis pregnancy centers have been under attack from those who want to destroy Christian voices in the public sphere for quite a while now.

I would think that of all the voices the darkness wants to silence, crisis pregnancy centers would head the list.

Crisis pregnancy centers give the option of choosing life to women who have been offered nothing but the option of death as a solution for their problems. Crisis pregnancy centers save babies’ lives. They also save young women from murdering their own child.

Crisis pregnancy centers are a light, shining in the darkness, and the darkness, as it always does, hates the light.

Every time you write a check in support of Mother and Unborn Child Care, you are choosing life. You are, whether you know it or not, choosing Christ.

Every volunteer hour you spend in service to Mother and Unborn Child Care is an hour given to the light against the darkness.

Every child you save, every mother you save, sets in motion a line of life that goes forward into the generations to grandchildren, great grandchildren and on.

You are helping young women chose life and by doing that you are saving the life of a child, and you are saving a young women from killing her own baby, and you are saving her patrimony.

Of course, the darkness attacks crisis pregnancy centers. Of course, this darkness wants to force those who have given so much to the service of life to bow before the baals.

Breaking us — and make no mistake about it, everything I have described is an attempt to break us — and our witness for life is, in the twisted minds of those who listen to the darkness and follow after it — breaking Him. It is another Calvary, only this time it is in the hearts of believers.

I urge everyone here to open your check books and write checks that say no to the darkness and yes to the light. Mother and Unborn Child Care needs our support to continue its life-giving work.

Supporting Mother and Unborn Child Care is an opportunity for you. You can, by writing a check, save  generations of life, defend young women from being coerced into murder, and light a small flame that drives back the darkness, just a bit.

Is there anything more important you can do with your money?

Do you have the opportunity to do this much good with your hard-earned cash in any other way, any other place?

If not, I urge you to take full advantage of the opportunity that is before you tonight and support life.

Thank you.

To donate to Mother and Unborn Child Care, go here.

To learn more about Birth Choice of Oklahoma, go here.

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California Assembly Passes Bill Attacking Crisis Pregnancy Centers

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Justin Brockie https://www.flickr.com/photos/justinstravels/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Justin Brockie https://www.flickr.com/photos/justinstravels/

California’s Assembly passed a bill this week which, among other things, would force crisis pregnancy centers to refer for abortions.

Sponsors of the bill claim that it is designed to “protect” women from the supposed “misinformation” that crisis pregnancy centers give them. I’ve volunteered in a crisis pregnancy center, and this claim of misinformation is, in my experience, untrue. We did not refer women for abortions. But we also did not give them inaccurate information.

Unlike Planned Parenthood, we did not arrange abortions for pimps who were procuring the abortions for trafficked women, or for minors who were having affairs with grown men, or for women who wanted to abort their baby girls because they wanted a boy, instead. So far as I know, the legislators sponsoring this attack on centers who help pregnant women have not authored legislation dealing with any of these abuses, even though the nation’s number one abortion provider has been taped committing them.

I also doubt that the California Assembly has passed laws requiring abortionists to refer women who are ambiguous about abortion to crisis pregnancy centers.

Crisis pregnancy centers are under attack for one simple reason: They give women a choice about “Choice.” This appears to be the last thing that the purveyors of abortion as the sum total of women’s human rights wants.

From what I’ve read, those who debated against the bill did so on the basis of freedom of speech. I assume that they chose this argument because it is the best one they could mount, given their audience.

I wonder how the backers of this bill would have reacted if someone had tried to amend it to make it a felony to use abortion to practice gendercide, or to make it a felony to provide abortions for sex traffickers and pimps? What would their arguments against this have been?

How would they have debated against an amendment to require abortion providers to refer to crisis pregnancy centers and to give their patients accurate information about the high rates of abortions performed on minorities?

Another good amendment would be one requiring that abortionists give women the opportunity to see ultrasounds of their babies before making a final decision to abort them. There’s no more accurate information for these women to get than to let them see an ultrasound of their babies. They have a right to know what they are doing before they do it, not years later when they can only grieve their decision.

I don’t know the procedures in the California Assembly. For all I know, they do not allow amendments to legislation. But the votes on these amendments would have made a point.

It’s bound to be difficult to be pro life in the California Assembly. From what I read, the opposition to the bill came entirely from Republicans. Kudos to them.

Shame, shame on the Democrats who authored and voted for this bill. They are a smear on our party.

From the Sacramento Bee:

California pregnancy centers that often seek to steer women away from abortion would need to provide information about reproductive services available elsewhere, including abortion, and disclose when they lack medical licenses under a bill the state Assembly passed on Tuesday.

Backed by a coalition that includes NARAL Pro-Choice and Planned Parenthood California, Assembly Bill 775 takes aim at so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” that critics say exist largely to persuade women to carry their pregnancies to term, often giving the impression of holding medical credentials that they do not possess. Lawmakers called the bill, which passed 46-25, a simple matter of informing women and protecting them from being misled.

“It’s hard to understand how those who claim to care about women find it so threatening to inform them about accessing affordable health care,” said Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, D-Marina Del Rey, the bill’s author.

Republican lawmakers derided the bill as an unconstitutional attack on private entities, saying it would force crisis pregnancy centers to abandon their core beliefs. The California Catholic Conference also opposes AB 775.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article22370520.html#storylink=cpy

 

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The Reason Why I Am a Catholic

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Robert Cheaib https://www.flickr.com/photos/theologhia/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Robert Cheaib https://www.flickr.com/photos/theologhia/

2.000 years ago, a man gave his life for me, for you, for all of us. This man was the Son of God: Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Saviour and Messiah. Join the Catholic Church! http://catholicscomehome.org/ From YouTube posting.

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Pope Francis: We are Living an Ecumenism of Blood

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

The “father of lies” is the one how is persecuting Christians today says Pope Francis. “We are living an ecumenism of blood.”

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We are Catholic

What does it mean to be Catholic in today’s world? There are many lies and distortions placed upon the Church by the world and the evil spirits that prowl it. So we must proclaim the truth loudly! from the YouTube posting.

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Saints Who Were Martyred While Celebrating Mass

Photo Source: Wikimedia, This reproduction is permitted under the Article 45 of the Salvadorian copyright law

Photo Source: Wikimedia, This reproduction is permitted under the Article 45 of the Salvadorian copyright law

St Oscar Romero was martyred while celebrating mass.

Can you think of a better way to go?

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I’m Going to Michigan to Speak for the Babies

Me, speaking at the march. Copyright: Diocese of Tulsa. Used with Permission. All Rights Reserved.

Me, speaking at the march. Copyright: Diocese of Tulsa. Used with Permission. All Rights Reserved.

I have the privilege of speaking for the babies at Mother and Unborn Baby Care of Southeastern Michigan’s fundraising dinner this Thursday.

People who volunteer at crisis pregnancy centers are pro life heroes. Helping them in their life-saving work is a blessing and a gift to me.

If you’re in Southeastern Michigan, I’d love to meet you. Just be sure you bring your pen and checkbook so you can donate to Mother and Unborn Baby Care. $ for crisis pregnancy centers is $ that saves the lives of precious baby boys and girls. There’s no better way to spend your cash than that.

From Kathy Schiffer:

Oh my gosh, did I forget to mention this?

For the first time ever, Rebecca Hamilton–author of the popular Public Catholic blog here on Patheos and a former legislator in the Oklahoma House of Representatives–is coming to Southeastern Michigan.

Rebecca will be the keynote speaker at Mother and Unborn Baby Care’s spring benefit dinner this Thursday, May 28.

Her story will touch your heart:  Not always a pro-life Catholic, Rebecca was the first Director of NARAL (the National Abortion Rights Action League) in the state of Oklahoma. But following her conversion, she went on to sponsor and advance some of the strongest pro-life legislation in her state.

Representative Rebecca Hamilton holds a baby in the Oklahoma Legislature

To learn more about Rebecca and her contributions in defense of Life, check out my article in the National Catholic Register.

To visit her website, Public Catholic, click here.

And to get last-minute tickets to the Mother And Unborn Baby Care dinner, which will be held at the lovely San Marino Club in Troy, call 248.559.7576. The registration deadline has passed, but if you HURRY, I hope you’ll still be able to get a seat!

 

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Why Weren’t the Laws Concerning Minors Followed in the Duggar Case?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tori Rector https://www.flickr.com/photos/124387535@N03/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tori Rector https://www.flickr.com/photos/124387535@N03/

I haven’t paid much attention to the case of Josh Duggar.

I never watched the cable reality show that brought his family to fame. I am neither a fan nor a hater of this family. They just aren’t on my radar.

When Josh Duggar’s juvenile records were revealed, my mind was elsewhere. I was vaguely aware that the situation surrounding Mr Duggar had developed into another round of the culture wars, but nothing more.

Then, I realized that, based on what I’d read, Mr Duggar did not receive the legal protection that he was entitled to as a minor offender. That made the situation interesting to me.

Here’s what little I know.

Josh Duggar, who is a member of a large family that has a successful reality tv show, evidently engaged in some sort of sexual touching of young females when he was 14 years old. His father subsequently filed a report with the police about this behavior. There is no reported history of repeat offense.

Josh Duggar is now an adult. He is married and has children of his own. The police report from his past has surfaced. This police report has become a means of attacking the philosophy and religion of his family. This has led to a media feeding frenzy.

My questions about this do not concern the treatment Mr Duggar is receiving from the media. I am wondering why, since he was a minor at the time these things occurred, his records were made public in the first place.

There is a reason for sealing the judicial and criminal records of minors. That reason is simply that minors can and often do commit criminal acts and then never do it again. Adolescent offenders are actually likely to go on to lead productive lives.

I personally know people who committed crimes when they were minors and who have lived long productive lives as successful members of the community. I grew up with these people. Their actions as youthful offenders in no way represents who they are now. They, quite literally, grew out of their violent adolescence and went on to live productive and respectable lives.

Our juvenile justice system is based in part on the understanding that minors, in particular adolescents, have an enormous capacity for positive growth. They are in fact and in truth, children. Their ways are not fixed. With proper intervention and with love, they can and they often do, change entirely.

That is why we do not put minors in adult prisons and do not, with a few exceptions for specific violent crimes, try them as adults. It is also why we seal their records.

The reasoning behind sealing the records of adolescents who commit crimes or who have various problems is that adolescents are not fully formed adults. They are not culpable for their actions in the same way that an adult would be. They also have a much greater potential for successful and life-long reform than an adult would have.

Sealing an adolescents’ records is a way of giving them a second chance. When they grow up to be productive adults who do not repeat the behaviors that got them into trouble, it is considered that they have demonstrated successful reform. Sealing their records, or even expunging their records, is a way our legal system has of giving minors a second chance at life.

My question in the Duggar situation is why wasn’t this done with his records?

I understand that he and his situation are being used as a weapon in the culture wars. I also understand that these culture wars are ruthless. Josh Duggar’s past is a tactical weapon. It will be used as a tactical weapon. The law does not enter into that.

However, the law still exists. Josh Duggar was a minor at the time of these offenses. So far as I know, there is no record of a repeat offense. Why was the law not applied to Josh Duggar as it is to other juvenile offenders?

His records should have been sealed. In fact, they probably should have been expunged.

Culture wars aside, the legal protections that are available to minor offenders were, for some reason, denied Josh Duggar.

There are a lot of other questions I could ask about this, but I’m not so sure they’re pertinent. I honestly don’t want to know the details of what he did that got him into this situation. I also don’t care if his family’s television show stays on the air or not.

What concerns me is that he was himself a minor child when these events took place and his rights as a minor offender were, for reasons unknown, denied him. As I said, there is a purpose for these laws, and it is a good purpose.

Contrary to prevailing perceptions, most adolescent offenders actually do grow out of their problems. A recent PBS documentary claimed that as high as 80% of youthful offenders never repeat their crimes. 

Actors Steven McQueen, Marc Wahlberg, Robert Mitchum and Merle Haggard are all entertainment industry examples of juvenile offenders who reformed. I’ve seen many adolescent offenders grow up and live productive lives.

The culture wars’ feeding frenzy notwithstanding, I have a question as to whether or not Mr Duggar’s legal rights as a minor offender were violated. So far as I know, we are dealing with a police report rather than a conviction, and this police report concerns the actions of a 14-year-old offender. If there are extenuating circumstances which required that his records not be sealed, I do not know about them.

This situation raises questions about youthful offenders and how they are treated generally. Most youthful offenders will not repeat their offenses. As Mr Duggar’s situation illustrates, youthful offenders who later become prominent citizens may in fact be facing a kind of social and cultural life sentence for their offenses if we do not seal their records.

Do we want to allow youthful offenders second chances, or do we want to treat them the same as we do adults?

That’s a question we need to consider. The situation with Josh Duggar illustrates just how serious it can become.

 

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My Dead Will Stay Undecorated.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by David Goerhing https://www.flickr.com/photos/carbonnyc/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by David Goerhing https://www.flickr.com/photos/carbonnyc/

It’s Memorial Day.

Our big plan was to load Mama in the car and go on our annual cemetery safari, trotting around the state to put flowers on the graves of our dead family. We usually end up running into relatives we haven’t seen in a while for impromptu graveside reunions. We also enjoy the drive.

But springtime plans in Oklahoma are always subject to the weather. This year, the weather says that smart Okies stay off the highways.

Saturday night was another go round of storms and flooding. My husband went to vigil mass. The kids watch Mama every week so I can go to mass.

But, for some reason, I got sick. It was a funky sickness. I was just suddenly soooo tired that I told him I was too tired to go to mass. I know that sounds odd, but this was a tidal wave of tired, kinda like somebody reached out and thunked me on the head and said, “You ain’t goin’ to mass tonight.”

He went on, I stayed home, and the tornadoes and rains moved in. I ended up in the shelter with Mama while he was stranded on high ground, watching the flood waters roil around him.

In the midst of all this, Mama lost her teeth. Or rather, I should say that she hid her teeth and forgot where she hid them. We still haven’t found them.So it was tornado sirens, floods and hoisting a little old lady in and out of a storm shelter; all with an unending background of “I want my teeth.”

When my husband called, he said he was taking shelter from the floods in a car wash. I didn’t say anything to him. He wasn’t in a laughing mood. But between the teeth and sheltering his car from the floods in a car wash, I had a good laugh. I still laugh when I think about it.

Nobody was hurt. My husband was the only one who even got wet. Mama has gotten so she enjoys the drama of going to the shelter, kind of like a little kid. The only losers are our dead family, who, due to more incoming weather, will remain flowerless.

Here are a few videos of the good times for your amusement and amazement.

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This is an area where we normally enjoy family recreation.

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Dems for Life Calls on Hillary to Open Up Democratic Party to Pro Life People

Photo Source: Wikimedia, by Voice of America. Public Domain.

Photo Source: Wikimedia, by Voice of America. Public Domain.

I know what you’re going to say, so let me say it for you.

Fat chance.

Democrats for Life of America has issued a press release calling for Hillary Clinton to bring back the big tent and open up the Democratic Party to pro life people.

Now, for the response I know many of your are thinking: Fat Chance.

I am aware, in ways that most of the rest of your can only guess at, just how entrenched the pro abortion position is in the upper levels of the Democratic Party. I also am aware, again as I think most of you are not, that this does not represent the thinking of many Democrats.

The Rs and the Ds are alike in many ways. One of the most significant is that the upper reaches of both parties are far removed from the rank and file. In fact, the upper reaches of both the R and the D view the rank and file as rubes to be manipulated and managed.

So, if the upper reaches of the Democratic Party are so entrenched in abortion, is it really a “fat chance” deal to try to change it?

No.

Here’s why.

Somebody changed it in the first place.

The Democratic Party was pro life back in the 70s and early 80s. Again, I know this as most of you don’t. I have what you might call insider knowledge of how these deals came down and how we got where we are. I know because I helped create this monster.

Now, back to Democrats for Life’s call for Hillary Clinton to open up the big tent. I think their target is well chosen. Secretary Clinton is pro choice, no doubt about that. I don’t expect her to change on that, although I have to tell you, I pray for it. But she’s not a Christian-hater like President Obama appears to be. She isn’t a bigot.

Unlike President Obama, who has attacked religious freedom, President Clinton supported and signed laws guaranteeing the free exercise of religion. Both Clintons have been consistent respecters of religious freedom in their public behavior. This isn’t rhetoric. They have a track record.

Of all the Democratic candidates, I think Hillary Clinton is the best bet for opening up the party and allowing Democrats to think and let think once again.

Do not take this post an endorsement for Hillary Clinton. I will not endorse any candidate in the upcoming race. I will not make public statements about how I’m going to vote. I don’t vote straight party. I will say that much, but that is all.

My purpose in writing Public Catholic is not to promote more of the political heresy. It is to get Christians to think past the political heresy and follow Christ. Period.

That means I will step on toes from time to time. When I say that Hillary Clinton — who is the D that the Rs love most to hate — is the best bet for religious freedom within the Democratic party, that’s an honest assessment.

Will it work?

From my experience, calling people to follow their better angels never works in the short term. It is not — ever — a quick fix. But if you’ve got the guts and the persistence to keep doing it, you will find that it always works in the long run.

Not with everybody. There will always be people who cling to their dark side. But people respond to higher calls with incredible courage and power if they come to trust the caller.

I support this call to change the party. I have always supported it, and I imagine that I always will. If we can convert the Democratic Party, we can win this fight for life. If we do not convert the Democratic Party, the fight will never end.

It’s as simple as that.

Here’s the full press release from Democrats for Life of America.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MEDIA CONTACT: Kristen Day
(202) 220-3066

May 7, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC – – Democrats For Life of Americais urging presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to open the Big Tent of the Democratic Party to pro-life voters and to support neutrality on the issue of abortion in the Democratic Party Platform. The current platform not only supports abortion, but also supports taxpayer funding of abortion.

“Secretary Clinton once recognized that people ‘have deeply held differences of opinion about the issue of abortion, and she said she respected ‘those who believe that there are no circumstances under which any abortion should ever be available.’  We are asking candidate Clinton to open that door and issue in a new era of respect and inclusion for Democrats who hold these views,” said Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats For Life of America.  “For the good of the party, we must re-open the big tent to include Democrats who support life from conception to natural death.”

In 1978, the Democratic Party held a 292-seat majority in the U.S. House, which included 125 pro-life Democrats.  Increased partisanship over the pro-life issue—including the rejection of pro-life candidates within the Democratic Party—caused many of the pro-life Democratic districts to elect Republican candidates.  In fact, the number of pro-choice Democrats in the House has essentially remained around 167.  It is the number of pro-life Democrats that decreased from 125 to only a handful, leaving Democrats overall with only 188 members.

“Since the 1992 shunning of pro-life Democratic Governor Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, the Democratic Party has alienated its pro-life base.  Polls consistently show that about one-third of Democrats—that’s 21 million Democrats—oppose abortion,” said Day.  “If we are going to increase our base to win back the majority and keep the White House, our Democratic nominee must recognize the contributions of pro-life Democrats within our party and the diverse position of Democrats on the issue of abortion.”

That diversity of opinion is as follows:

  • 61% of Democrats support parental consent for minors seeking abortion (Gallup, 2011);
  • 60% of Democrats support a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking abortion (Gallup, 2011);
  • 84% of Democrats support informed consent (Gallup, 2011);
  • 49% of Democrats support an ultrasound requirement (Gallup, 2011);
  • 59% of Democrats support a ban on partial-birth abortions (Gallup, 2011).

“We are asking Secretary Clinton and any other Democratic presidential hopeful to embrace a platform that fully represents all Democrats, not just those who support abortion,” said Day.  “In the 2008 election, about one-quarter of Obama’s supporters self-identified as pro-life.  These numbers are not trivial; they exceed many prominent and well-represented constituencies in the party.  Electoral success for the party nationwide will depend on the enthusiasm of all Democrats, including pro-life Democrats.”

-30-

 

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Fr Longenecker’s 12 Reasons Not to Debate Internet Atheists, Plus 6 of Mine

 

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by KAZ Vorpal https://www.flickr.com/photos/kazvorpal/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by KAZ Vorpal https://www.flickr.com/photos/kazvorpal/

Fr Dwight Longenecker published a post today giving 12 of the reasons why he never argues with internet atheists.

I’m not as smart as Fr Longenecker. I’ve been drawn into several arguments with internet atheists, both on this blog and a couple behind the scenes. Those experiences have convinced me that discussions with internet atheists are useless. I’ve give a few reasons why I think this down below.

Here’s a sample of Fr Dwight’s thinking on the subject:

1. Most of the internet atheists I’ve come across are ignorant – I don’t mean they’re stupid necessarily, or that they are bad people. I don’t even mean they are uneducated in their particular field, but most of them are ignorant when it comes to religion. By this I mean they just don’t know stuff. I don’t blame them for that, I’m ignorant about rocket science, how to do a brake job on a car, the rules of cricket and micro biology and a pile of other stuff. However, religion is one of the areas I do know something about so it’s difficult arguing with people who think they know it all about religion, but don’t.

Indeed. I couldn’t have said it better.

Now, here are another 6 quick reasons for limiting arguments with internet atheists.

1. Internet atheist arguers have themselves been propagandized. As Fr Dwight said, (only far more elegantly) when they talk about Christianity, they don’t know what they are talking about. What they do is spout talking points and misinformation that they’ve been taught by other internet atheists. They exhibit the fanatical craziness and circular reasoning of cult followers.

2. Internet atheist arguers are like the Hare Krishnas at airports that people used to joke about, only they are rude and aggressive in a way that the Hare Krishnas were not. They have no sense of boundaries. They are usually — with a few exceptions — rude and even abusive with other commenters.

3. Internet atheists are manipulative and insincere in their online discussions with Christians. They demonstrate this openly when they go back to their own venues.

4. Internet atheists are part of a large and organized socio political movement that has as its goal the destruction of Christianity. That is where they get their incentive to behave the way they do, and it is why they are so aggressive and obnoxious in their dealings with Christians.

5. Internet atheists are — as a group — pushing ideas that are anathema to civilization. While individual atheists vary in these things, the group trope is all in support of any murderous social change being advanced. There appears to be nobody, with the exception of death row inmates, whose life they consider sacred. In addition, they support everything from gay marriage, to polygamy, to group marriage to you name it. They attack religious freedom, and seek to limit the free rights of Christians to practice their religion and engage in religious speech in the public sphere. The Freedom From Religion Foundation is an organized and public group, but the internet atheists are the backers and supporters of this movement. Public Catholic is not a forum for these ideas.

6. Internet atheists run the hate blogs that constantly engage in inflammatory Christian bashing. Most atheist commenters on Public Catholic are followers of and believers in that hate-filled bigotry. They come here from those blogs with an agenda of attacking Christianity and turning Christians away from Christ. This is the opposite of what this blog is intended to do.

Despite all this, I allow a lot of internet atheist commenting on this blog. First, if the commenter seems like a sincere person who is capable of individual thought rather than just repeating atheist talking points, I’m happy to allow them to discuss issues. Second, I do it for teaching purposes. Christians need to learn how to deal with these things and I try to provide a controlled environment, without the abuse, for them to do that.

I would actually welcome intelligent atheist conversation. The problem with this is that real atheism, as opposed to the cult-based socio-political movement that we are actually dealing with, is not much to talk about. You don’t believe in God? Okay. Next topic.

It’s a negative. You can’t prove a negative, and, at the end of the day, a negative is, by definition, narrow and self-limiting. Talking about atheism is really a one-sentence discussion.

A genuine atheist, again as opposed to a cult-follower of a vicious and destructive socio-political movement, would be capable of taking a variety of positions on issues concerning the sanctity of life, religious freedom, and social morality. These people cannot do that. They are lock-step dummies who just purvey the group think of their group.

Public Catholic is not a forum for leading people away from Christ. It is a forum for equipping Christians to withstand the bullying, hazing, bashing and mockery that is heaped on them by internet atheists, among others. It is a forum for encouraging Christians to follow Christ in all areas of their lives without reservation.

As I said, I allow a lot of internet atheist traffic on this blog. But I have no problem limiting it when I think it becomes destructive to the purpose for which I write Public Catholic in the first place.

This enrages many atheist internet commenters. Making comments in the comboxes of Public Catholic is not, as some of them have claimed, a First Amendment right. The free exercise of religion, speaking about faith in public venues, petitioning the government and free assembly are First Amendment rights.

Ironically, they argue vociferously against these actual First Amendment rights. The reason? Their hatred of Christianity has made them so irrational that they are willing to burn down their own house.

 

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I Left the Legislature a Year Ago and Nothing Has Gone as Planned.

A year ago tomorrow, I cast my last vote …

Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

… and walked out of the Oklahoma legislature forever.

I can honestly say that I have not missed getting up and going out there to do the people’s business in the year since. Not once. I have no nostalgia about the place, zero desire to go back out there and make those decisions, sit through those meetings, debates, wranglings and negotiations.

I can also honestly say that, while I’m loving my new life, I’m still working to get a handle on it. I didn’t stop being a Rep until the first of December. That’s when my true life of freedom began.

During that time, my mother’s dementia went from difficult to impossible to a living nightmare. Now, thanks to powerful meds, it’s moved back to a barely livable point somewhere between difficult and impossible. Taking care of her is just possible … just. If one brick falls out of the carefully-balanced wall between getting by and utter chaos, we go back in the impossible soup again.

Taking care of her has taught me something I didn’t know about before: The physical limits of me. I have found the break point in my own physical stamina, and I hate the thing. It’s not just the work of caring for her, though that is a mountain. It’s the stress and worry, the grief and guilt. Of all these, I would say that the grief is the worst. I miss my Mama, miss her with an ache that’s like a broken tooth in my soul.

In the meanwhile of my time, I’ve been trying to put together a writing life. If caring for Mama is the meat and potatoes of my life, writing is the gravy.

I don’t mean “gravy” in the slang use of the word to mean money. I mean gravy as in the fat, the seasoning, the oh-so-good part of the tough-to-chew-and-swallow that’s underneath.

There are days when I’m too tired to write. My brain is too mushy, my anxiety and worry readings too far off the chart, for me to make my brain work. Those are days when the physical/emotional limits I was talking about earlier have kicked in.

But most of the time, writing is a gift. I feel that God has gifted me with this work at this time. I thought at one point — as my ego-saturated little brain usually does — that I was the gift, that my experiences and insider’s knowledge gave me a message worth sharing. Now I realize that the gift was given to me, not the other way around.

Productive work that God has put in your hands for His purposes is always challenging and difficult. Or, at least it has always been such for me. It is also always a blessing.

The most important and most challenging work He ever gave me was raising my children. That truly is eternity work. It is also the hardest and scariest work I’ve ever done.

Now, I have the twin blessings of writing and seeing Mama home. He has taken me to a place where my ability to trust Him is challenged in ways I never encountered before. I had to re-learn about letting Him handle things with Mama, about trusting Him even when the road is going down, down, down.

My not-so-saintly self always wants to take charge and do everything. I want to be in control. I want to figure a way out of every corner, plan a path and set out on it. I am not a follower. Followership runs against my rebellious nature.

And yet my life is built around followership. I follow Jesus Christ, and often as not, I have to follow Him like a blind woman, hanging onto a rope. He teaches me this lesson. He taught it to me when I was a legislator. He taught it to me when I was raising my kids. Now He has to teach it to me all over again.

Writer’s block, which I’ve had a bit, is nothing more than an internal editor trying to run the show out of pace with the work. Putting the work in His hands does away with that.

The anxieties I’ve felt over Mama are just another dish of the same stuff.

It’s a trick, using all my existing skills and minting new ones to help her, and at the same time, leaving everything in Jesus’ hands. It’s even more of of a trick, minting entirely new skills to live a writer’s life and giving that work, like all the others, to Him entire.

On the surface, it sounds a bit like running a race while sitting in place; an unsolvable conundrum. But it’s not. Here’s what I learned as a legislator, a work that is nothing but unsolvable conundrums heaped on one another.

Get yourself prayed up, then go out there and fight with all you’ve got. Trust that He will be there and He will take care of you. It’s a matter of stepping out on the ice, ever single day.

It also works. If you pray and you trust and you just do your best In Him, the ice holds. You never fall through. And He will guard you in your ways.

Now, I re-learning that same way of living, only in a different manner. I’m not the saint who just does these things. I have to re-learn in every new situation how to work and trust, how to be the child of God that I am.

The key to all this is prayer, and the mass and Scripture. My way of getting through the legislature was simple. I prayed the Rosary every day. Read through the Bible every 15 months or so, and went to mass as often as I could. This held me together when I was a legislator and it is where I go now that I’m a caregiver/writer. Different problems: Same God.

Writing is the same as every gift that God gives. It is a gift, wrapped in a challenge, and it makes me a gift to others.

I think that is the meaning of vocation. Vocation is God, making us a gift to others.

God has gifted me with changing vocations as my life’s seasons change. He has given me every gift imaginable; life, love, health, family, home and work. But the greatest gift of all is that He has given me Himself. He gave me the great gift of His presence, His love, His Spirit, walking through life with me.

Every time God gives me a new task, which I think of as my vocation for my present season, it is a challenge. It is a gift with thorns, a velvet cross wrapped in eternal love.

I have not missed the legislature for one moment. The reason is probably because my life has been so full, the work in front of me so immediate, that my cup runneth over with wine that is both bitter and sweet.

I am seeing Mama home, seeing my young adult children into their lives (a parent’s work is never done) loving my wonderful husband and writing, writing, writing.

Eternity work. It’s all eternity work.

I had envisioned a much more leisurely time of it. I was going to write, travel, drink pina coladas and take up new hobbies. I planned on losing weight, getting in shape, joining the local camera club, taking up golf, maybe buying a horse, going on great trips and living the good ‘ole life.

Instead, I’m changing Mama’s diapers. I’m taking care of her because she’s my new baby. I’m also involved in my kid’s lives (their choice) in fruitful, loving and anxiety-making ways that I never anticipated.

It turns out that my grown kids want me around. They want to be with me, talk to me, share their joys and pains with me on a daily basis.

It’s all a gift, and a challenge. God has gifted me with so much that I’m worn out from it.

It’s been a year since I cast my last legislative vote. I had all sorts of things planned for my next life. But, as usual God had other plans. Harder plans. More important plans.

A dear friend of mine tells me that if you want to hear God laugh, just tell Him your plans.

I gave up planning a long time ago, because I learned that it does no good. Life has its own immediacies. Then, when I left the legislature, I forgot that lesson and made a caboodle of sweet and soft plans, marshmallow pillows all of them, for my glorious life of unending vacationing.

Silly me.

 

 

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Senate Punts on Obama Trade Deals. The people Lose Again.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

The United States Senate once again abrogated its responsibilities in favor of letting the Prez do it.

This, my friends, is how we got the imperial presidency. Congress accedes its responsibility because the vote is too “hot” or, as in this case, the corporatist interests want the deal that’s being done.

The Senate gave up the right to amend the Prez’ trade deals and just let him, you know, Rule.

Who’s the loser in all this? Why, you and me, of course. When the Rs and the Ds get together on their corporatism, we always end up in the dirt.

We might all stand on the West Coast and wave our jobs good-bye.

From the Huffington Post:

WASHINGTON — The Senate advanced President Barack Obama’s trade agenda Thursday, voting to end debate on bill that would grant the administration power to fast-track massive new pacts through Congress.

A number of senators objected to the process, complaining that they were unable to get votes on amendments they deemed essential to making sure that looming deals with 12 Pacific Rim nations and Europe live up to promises of helping U.S. workers.

But 62 of their colleagues disagreed and voted to halt debate anyway, setting up passage of the fast-track bill by the end of the week.

… Fast track, formally known as Trade Promotion Authority, would allow the president to cut trade agreements with other nations, then advance them through Congress with expedited procedures that allow no amendments, filibusters or delays, guaranteeing him simple majority votes.

 

 

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Breaking: Federal Court Forces Notre Dame to Follow HHS Mandate

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Scott Gulbransen https://www.flickr.com/photos/sdunlvrebel/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Scott Gulbransen https://www.flickr.com/photos/sdunlvrebel/

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the University of Notre Dame’s appeal against the HHS Mandate today.

In a brazen disregard for the First Amendment, the Court argued that the “burden” on the government to re-write the HHS Mandate to allow the Catholic University of Notre Dame to follow the dictates of its faith was too high. The court also said that the “burden” on Notre Dame of being forced to violate its faith and abandon the free exercise of religion which is the guarantee of every American was just not all that important.

They didn’t put it in those words, and I am deliberately writing it in purple prose. But that is the essential meaning.

The court ruled that an agency rule written by a back-room committee of abortion industry insiders trumps the First Amendment guarantee of the free exercise of religion. It based this ruling on the bizarre opinion that abiding by the Constitution of the United States placed an undue burden on the government of the United States.

Here is what they said, without my interpretation and in their own little words:

“The very word ‘accommodation’ implies a balance of competing interests,” the court noted.

“And when we compare the burden on the government or third parties of having to establish some entirely new method of providing contraceptive coverage with the burden on Notre Dame of simply notifying the government that the ball is now in the government’s court, we cannot conclude that Notre Dame has yet established its right to the injunctive relief that it is seeking before trial,” the court said.

 

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