Saturday, September 27, 2008

"Turn, Turn, Turn" - The Byrd's Performance of Ecclesiastes' Prayerful Text



Thanks to Dr. Brendan Teehan for inspiring me to look up this song written by Pete Seeger, (given his response to yesterday's post.) It's quite lovely to listen to this, and watch -- mindful of all that our hearts hold at this time. Political, economic, environmental, social, global issues: this song is a lovely prayer for all of us!

Amen.
Melissa

To watch a Video of Pete Seeger talking about how he came to write this peaceful anthem, click here.


To read more of Seeger and the origins of this song, click here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Message to John from Ecclesiastes: A Time to Debate?


I love mixing faith and politics. They go so beautifully hand-in-hand.
In this case, my question is more tongue-in-cheek:
If there is a time to be silent, is there a time to debate?
Go Discussion! Go Debate! Go Ecclesiastes! Go John! Go Barack!


Eccl 3:1-11
There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every thing under the heavens.
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to tear down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them; a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.
What advantage has the worker from his toil?
I have considered the task that God has appointed for the sons of men to be busied about.
He has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put the timeless into their hearts, without man’s ever discovering, from beginning to end, the work which God has done.


Peace, Love,
Melissa

Sunday, September 21, 2008

On Mbeki's Resignation...


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/7628387.stm

Wow. How many have seen this? (Link above to the BBC's broadcast of Thabo Mbeki announcement to step down.) I don't know enough about the circumstances surrounding the South African President's decision to resign, but his speech here is a class act.

I have lots of questions. But grounded in this current time in the US political front, I wonder, "Would anything come from a US president resembling this? What would George Bush sound like delivering such a short and humble address? What would ANY US President sound like resigning?" (What do I sound like resigning?)

Hmmm.......
Peace,
Melissa


A Working Weekend: Collaborating on this Literacy Tools Book


"What is literacy? Why is literacy important? How do we assess anyone's literacy? (How do I know if I am literate? ....Who am I?!)

These are some of the initial questions* I asked myself back in March, when Rick Beach wrote inviting me to co-author a literacy tools book for educators with Gerald Campano. I think back on that day in March, and my head spins.....I think a lot of things are still spinning....(I write this and chuckle.)

Ahhh! But seven months later: we have a contract from Teacher's College Press, we have an outline for this text, and we have our first weekend of collaborative writing, thinking, working, under our belts! Amen!

What follows are some pictures from our gathering at Professor Beach's home in south Minneapolis, and a meal out with Nancy Beach and colleague Cynthia Lewis. What a privilege to hold space with these lovely people! What a privilege to be invited into this work, to spend time in meaningful questions and theories and stories -- in an attempt to make an impact on the critical literacy of all students -- including ourselves!

Enjoy the photos! Stay tuned....
Melissa


Note the light reflecting on the table...

Rick always providing structure, an outline...


Source Materials: including some of the "books" produced at North High

Dinner at Peninsula (From Left to Right:)
Rick Beach, Gerald Campano, Nancy Beach, Melissa Borgmann, Cynthia Lewis


University of Minnesota Literacy colleagues in discussion...


Dr. Campano happy with this fine menu of Malaysian cuisine...


In conversation with one of our lovely hosts: Nancy Beach


Fed on so many levels...


Rick gives us a tutorial in PBWiki navigation (our collaborative, online writing tool.)


More instruction...


Our ensemble at the weekends' close...

*Posted to the PB wiki sites' notes (thank you, Dr. Beach!)
Grounding Questions (Melissa, 3/8)

What is literacy?

Why is literacy important?

How do we measure and assess anyone's literacy?

(How do I know if I'm literate? Who am I?)

What does literacy look like? Sound like?

Who cares?

What do we want students to know?

What is good teaching?

What are the tools that good teachers use?

What are tools for good living?

What is empowered living?

What does an empowered, emancipated human being look like? Sound like?

Is this something we want on the planet? In our society?

Does honoring all voices, all intelligences matter? Does it happen? How?

What happens if we don't honor all people?

What happens if we do?

What assumptions am I making in posing these questions?

Collide-a-Scope Performance Festival: Occupying the Ontological Space of the "Other"?!?

"What does it mean to occupy the ontological space of the 'Other''? Seriously. This is one of the questions that I have been holding during this weekend of collaborative book writing with professors Gerald Campano and Richard Beach.

I arrive home from this kind of intellectual activity, to view the following video produced by my friend Matt Peiken, arts journalist and producer of this series, the "Three Minute Egg." It features Rodney "October" Dixon - former North High "Writing as Performance" student and "Teens Rock the Mic" poet, as well as Kenna Cottman Sarge - dancer, collaborator and North High graduate.

In my mind, this "Collide-a-Scope" Performance Festival invites us deeply into this experience of inhabiting the ontological space of the "other." This makes me happy. But, I don't know...What do you think?

Enjoy! If you are in town, check out the festival!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Muslim Prayer in the Work Place: One look at Devotion in a Nebraska Meat-Packing Plant

The following exchange was excerpted from the Borgmann Family Blog. It's predominantly between my Aunt Enid in Grand Island, Nebraska, and Cousin Lisa in Lincoln and her sister, Erin, living in Tripoli, Libya. Their writing about the Grand Island Meat-Packing plant and Muslim workers during Ramadan, made me wonder a lot of things.
What does it mean to be Muslim in America? Is a Somali
Muslim treated differently than any other Muslim? How about Catholics or Jews? What are the conditions of working in the meat packing industry? How much
immigrant labor is employed by Swift? How do we deal with cultural differences in the work place? How is this situation with Swift's Plant similar and different to other industries with a diverse labor force?

The email exchange closes with more questions I posed today in the
Borgmann Family List-serve.

****

Aunt Enid:

Grand Island has made the news recently with demonstrations by
hundreds of Muslim Somali workers from the Swift plant. They are
upset because they haven't been allowed to pray – especially now
during Ramadan. Is Swift wrong? How do you figure in the times thatseveral hundred workers need to stop 3 or 4 times a shift and kneel on the floor? How do you handle it? I think a couple of shifts had made some allowances, but no one was fired. I understand that the Greeley, Colorado plant is in the same fix. We're very aware here at the office, because they obstructed traffic on Hwy. 30, walking the mile and a half into the City office, and passed our building. It was all peaceful, but I had no idea that there were so many in GI, and wonder where they all live?

Cousin Erin:

If they're stopping 4 times a shift, they must be working some long
shifts! :D It would depend on the shift, but unless they're working
more than 8 hours at a time the max would be 3... the night or
morning shift would have one or even none. There are only 5 calls to
prayer in a day- the first at sunrise, the last at night before bed-
the other three spaced during the day. I'm pretty familiar with this
by now, since the call to prayer can be heard at pretty much any
place in town- especially at work because there are 3 mosques close
to us, one right across the street. I keep meaning to catch it on
video and post it so you guys can hear it- it's sort of haunting but
cool at the same time. Anyway since they're based on the sunrise and
sunset they change a little every day, but today's prayer times here
are:

5:22 AM, 1:01 PM, 4:31 PM, 7:10 PM, and 8:30 PM.

It depends on what calendar you use, what timing method you use...
they're all a little bit different. You can find the times here:
http://prayer.al-islam.com/

I don't see why it should be a problem; it takes just a few minutes.
Most workers take more time for smoke breaks. Of course the way meat-
packing plants enslave people they probably don't get even smoke
breaks... and of course we've all heard the stories about factory
workers who wear diapers because they're not even allowed to go to
the bathroom. :( Here we allow people to stop for prayer (although
many don't) and during Ramadan their work day is shorter too. I can't
imagine working, especially on my feet like at a factory, without
eating or drinking all day.

The Wikipedia article is interesting and has links at the bottom to
audio files... but nothing's quite like hearing it in person.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adhan


Aunt Enid:

Re: the Muslim walk out: The Muslims returned to work and were told
that the whole line would shut down for ½ hour so they would be given
enough time to pray, but that pissed off the rest of the other
workers, and a big batch of them have walked off because they said
they're just being cut hours and pay. Nice mess.

Cousin Erin:

Why do they need to shut down the line?? What do they do when someone
goes the bathroom, shut down the line? Or are there so many of them
that there's just no way? Why would anyone else complain about
getting a half hour off? Or is it unpaid, which would be total BS for
everyone involved... and why a half hour? seriously, doesn't take
THAT long...

I'm guessing it's only a matter of time until someone gets drunk and
shoots one of these immigrants. Could get ugly.

Aunt Enid:

More of the Swift plant walk out:? Yes, Erin, they were going to cut
time out for everyone to allow people to pray – well that created
such a ruckus that there was a riot in the lunch room during one
shift yesterday between the Muslims and Hispanics and police had to
break it up.? Since then, Swift has backed out of their deal with the
Muslims and things are back to where they were, and the Muslims are
now back to threatening to walk out again unless they're given the
opportunity to pray.? It doesn't take long, but several women were
kneeling on the floor at their work station, or going into the
bathroom to pray and the first practice was dangerous and the second
ticked some people off.? I wonder if they are really that devout??
Nobody has ever given the others a day off or whatever for Holy Days
like Ash Wednesday or Good Friday.? You just work around it somehow.?
It's going to be interesting to see how they solve it.?

Cousin Lisa:

This morning on the radio they said that all the workers would be
short a 40-hour week with the new praying plan, which meant they
would have to work on Saturdays. Heck, I'd riot, too.

I'm sure if Swift management really wanted to solve the problem, they
could. I suspect they came up with the plan which entailed everyone
working on Saturdays, knowing full well that the rest of the staff
wouldn't go for it. Hence, shift the conflict from blaming management
to blaming the Muslim workers. Now all the Muslims will be attacked
by coworkers for their religious beliefs and management can feel smug
and blame everything on the Muslims.

Randy made a point that Swift probably doesn't have Sunday shifts.
Most factories don't.


Melissa:

I wonder what a work force could accomplish if they were allowed to
meditate/ pray/ pause 3 times a day?

What would productivity look like?
What would the happiness level be?
What about worker satisfaction levels?

Hmmmmmm...

The Vis sisters pray together 4 times a day. And they go about their
work and service in such a different manner.....It's amazing how less
cranky we are, when we breathe deeply in any kind of communal way....

Sunday, September 14, 2008

On Transformation and Change: Permeating all Layers of Psyche, Spirit, Community


The following is excerpted from the Borgmann-family-e-political-discourse. I am responding to my cousin Erin's thoughts on change. It triggered this reflection -beyond the political realm, to the psychological, spiritual, intellectual, mystical.
***
All I can do is remind myself that change is HARD. It's HARD to face what you've "known" or believed your whole life and think about it maybe having been wrong. Even if what you've been isn't wrong, but now you have to be something new, something more, it's a painful, painful process. - Erin Cederlind
***

This made me cry reading it. It makes me cry. Which just means that it has this deep kind of resonance.

If a goal is to really see CHANGE - in this country, in the world -- that change begins in the very core of our beings. In our cells. In our spirits. In our brains and how we store information and our capacity to dialogue and act consciously. And THAT KIND OF CHANGE - is the work of our lives!

I think of myself. I think of having to reconcile the privilege of being raised with overwhelming love and resources - with the recognition of working and teaching in overwhelming poverty and abuse. I think of how that called the deepest parts of me to change my perception, and change my actions, my career!

But then I hold that what has been the toughest thing for me to do, is just as fiercely difficult for my conservative brother-in-law, my homophobic pops, or some of my students and their families....!

I think of Shaylin Burn. A student of mine who was sexually abused for years by her grandfather and uncle. I think of her mother and father's role in her life, as two, seemingly happily married people living in the suburbs, raising their kids, sending them to this urban arts magnet high school, but masking the reality of the deep terror that permeated their family. I hold the knowledge of her parent's ensuing drug addictions. I think of what teaching Shaylin meant to me. I think of how I was taught by her daily.....
Can you imagine she had trust issues?
Can you fathom she had deep doubts of a teacher's genuine concern for her well-being?
Can you see her reluctance to have to change and
love herself when all that was modeled for her the first 16 years of her life: was that loving adults violated and abused you, said you weren't loveable-- and then tried to kill themselves?
What do you suppose Shaylin tried to do herself?

This kind of "change" that we all must experience -- is one that strikes at the very core of our comforts in identity. It's EASIER to rest in what we were raised believing and seeing and "knowing' - because it shapes so much of our psyches. To shift our thinking, is to go against the grain! Is to defy what the people who we have loved and trusted have taught us...(Why would they lie!? No one has to be "bad" or "evil" to misguide a person- just human... and that's messy, always - because we all are human!)

I'm not trying to shock anyone with this example, but simply speak to what, for me, are the most extreme forms of transformation, and how difficult this all is for ALL of us.

I pray about it constantly.

peace,
Melissa

P.S. My former student's name has been changed. She is an adult now making her way as a kind of change-agent in the Cities.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Barack, Grant and Foogie: Engaged in Community Transformation

The following was written originally and posted on our Borgmann Family List-serve. I'm responding here to my brother-in-law "CJ"'s comments about transforming this country through community organizing and transformation. Chris and I share a deep passion for seeing change in this country. HOW change occurs is an essential question we write about. He, from a Republican perspective, me, a Democratic one.

***
"What this country really needs are people like Barack Obama in every community, motivating and leading people to change the way they live, and help one another (community organizers I guess!!! Haha)." - cj

What do you think he's inspiring?

I was talking to Grant Foster* the other day over at Brian Mogren's place in North Minneapolis. Grant was there gardening. He does odd jobs for Brian when he's not working at Jiffy Lube. Grant is the uncle of one of my former students that many of my immediate family members has met: Reggie "Foogie" B. Anyway, I know a lot about Grant's life, because Foogie and I have been close, and because Foogie has shared stories of this uncle, and then, the uncle, has come into this circle of my life, by grace, as gift. Grant is 45 years old. A black man. And about 16 years ago he lost his privilege to vote when he committed a felony. He is not unlike any other human who has battled some major issues, in this case, depression and addiction. He has spent time locked up, and time in and out of finding the will to piece his life back together. He's a recovering addict. We all know addicts. (Some of us are in recovery ourselves.) All of us know what it is to fight some demon and work to love and be our best selves.

Anyway, Grant and I were visiting about tomatoes and weeds and the best approach to water and fertilization (Grant loves to garden!). And then he asked, "Melissa, do you know who you are going to vote for?"

I laughed and said, "Yep, I think so! How about you?"

He responded, "Do you know this is the first time in years that I've WANTED to vote? I had to get a whole lot of paper work filled out and mailed in, but my voter registration card came in the mail yesterday!"

He was beaming. So proud. So happy. So excited. I knew his joy. I know who he is voting for.

***

"America has lost the community spirit it used to have, on a lot of levels." - cj

Again: What do you think Obama is inspiring? More inefficient government spending on programs? Or more people getting motivated and organized to do the work themselves, ie, (cliche, cliche, but true, true): BE THE CHANGE THEMSELVES? Inspiring Grant, in this case, to simply use his voice. To recognize he has a voice! He has something to say in this simple action. (Just like he has this simple gift to garden and do this work to beautify the Northside. Talk about being part of community spirit! About being part of the transformation!)

There's no way government alone can "fix" anything! Just like nothing can "fix" an addict. Or "fix" or "solve" depression. Or "FIX" literacy. WE HAVE TO DO THIS WORK! But our government leads the way in areas like health care, education and basic infrastructure: roads, water, law enforcement...It does so, by providing reasonable and adequate funding for basic things. Providing REASONABLE funding to sustain such basics is essential! It's not a party-affiliation matter. It's a human matter!

Again, after looking at the federal budget information you gathered, don't you agree there is room for some more investment in the American people that could really serve this community spirit and growth? And don't you think Obama's priorities around investing in the American people separates him from McCain's priorities around funding war?

It's not irresponsible to fund basic things. Irresponsible is to create legislation, and then NOT fund items. No Child Left Behind, for all of it's horror, was increasingly horrific, by one simple fact: it was never ever properly funded. But then again: it was the lowest common denominator of anything written and passed by congress for education.

***

I go back to Grant. Foogie. And wonder really, how much anyone of us really wants to see these men engaged and successful in the world. What is the role of government here and its leaders?

It's only through relationships and taking the time to really UNDERSTAND the disenfranchised people in this country, that we can begin to see ourselves - and engage and transform --together.
I need Grant and Foogie in my life as men who remind me of the gift I have to offer as a woman of care and compassion and dialogue, just as they need and appreciate me in their life as someone who sees them as more than simply failed Black men, but as citizens with something to give. As HUMANS with God-given talents that belong to the world!

Significant learning is occurring in these significant relationships for me.

And to borrow from an Aboriginal woman's words about "being saved" vs. "mutually transformed" I say, "my liberation is bound up with theirs!" Indeed.

Obama does get this. He has lived this. He lives and leads from this understanding. All of this separates him hugely from McCain.


*Not his real name.


Friday, September 12, 2008

On Race: An excerpt from National Public Radio and Nebraska

The following is an excerpt from the Borgmann-Family-Political-e-Discourse. The exchange is between two family members in Nebraska. I'm drawn by my aunt's response to the National Public Radio reporting on race in this election, and her brother-in-law's sarcastic, vivid, but honest retort --drawing on his life working in the south and in the manufacturing industry.

Aunt:

I heard something very disturbing on the way home from work yesterday on NPR. A black female reporter and white male reporter interviewed a group of black and white men and women from some little place in Penn, and asked how they were planning on voting and why , and if race had anything to do with their choices. The majority of the whites were going with McCain (several were undecided) and all of the blacks with Obama. When asked point blank why the whites wouldn't vote for a black person, none of them gave a sensible answer. One woman, who had grown up around black people all her life said that she didn't trust Obama. She said she was just sure that he was Muslim, despite what he's said, and that once a Muslim, you're a Muslim until you're dead! It was sickening. The blacks were also all voting for Obama because he was black, and that I can understand better. One woman said she was so sure of him, because being black, Obama would be watched as close as "white on rice" and he wouldn't be able to get away with anything because he's black. I'm just as sure that there are now a multitude of Republicans voting for McCain / Sarah Palin strictly because she's a woman and a lot of men because she's a pretty one with "spunk".
It just drives me nuts that no one is thinking of the issues, or really listening to what is being said.


Brother-in-Law:

Classic example is the south. They used to be the solid Democratic south until that rotten Democrat Lyndon Johnson passed equal rights. I have probably said this before but I was in Biloxi, Mississippi when that bill was passed and those white born again evangelicals were "absolutely furious" about that and to this day they vote strictly Republican because they don't like blacks.

I give plant tours where I work occasionally to people from all over the world. On a couple of tours probably about two years apart, I got asked the following question from some people from the south—Georgia in both cases as I recall.

"Ya'll got any n----r's working here?"

So goes the southern Bible belt.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Gift of SARAH PALIN: Critical Inquiry!

The following is excerpted from the Borgmann Family emails. My sister-law-Emily, a feminist and Hillary supporter, (now Obama backer), is writing in response to more news of Sarah Palin and her dismay. Emily is also a huge animal-rights activist. This is our exchange, and my search for the gift in this time.
***
I absolutely DESPISE this woman. Not because she's a woman or mom or whatever, but because every single one of her freakish beliefs is SOOOOO opposite my own I can't even FATHOM trying to connect with her. - Em

Em, Family, this is such a GIGANTIC point, and SUBTLE POINT...

What is our capacity to separate gender (or race) from identity?
How is this election a gift to the critical consciousness of ALL AMERICANS?
We are, for the first time, being presented with images of human leaders that challenge our preconceived notions (stereotypes)?

I LOVE IT!

I don't love anyone despising anyone.
I love that we are having to, as a nation, really, really weigh the discord in our hearts and minds when it comes to these leaders and the state of our nation. We are all ultimately just getting clearer about own capacity to hold tension, to live in contradictions, and continually see our way through...The election, for me, is one invitation to ALL people to grow in their WISDOM, in their capacity to gather info and vote.
Always, though, underscoring, that any of this activity is pretty PRIVILEGED, as none of us are living in dire poverty, locked up, or is COMPLETELY OBLIVIOUS like some of the removed wealthy folks. (NO JUDGEMENT: JUST FACT!)

WE ARE SO LUCKY! GO CRITICAL CONVERSATIONS AND QUESTIONING! GO COGNITIVE DISSONANCE AND CHANGE!!!

Love,
Melissa

***
On Sep 10, 2008, Emily.Borgmann wrote:
I got this emailed to me from aunt Jo in Albuquerque. I, for one, am not in the mood to start regressing as women.

I watched Anderson Cooper 360 last night and they were talking about Palin. They showed lots of pictures of her with dead and bloodied moose and elk, and then some really fun family stuff of people shooting innocent and terrified moose, wolves and bears from planes as they were run to exhaustion then shot multiple times. That's a fair playing field if you ask me!

Marian, I'm sorry if I offend you when I say this, but I absolutely DESPISE this woman. Not because she's a woman or mom or whatever, but because every single one of her freakish beliefs is SOOOOO opposite my own I can't even FATHOM trying to connect with her.

SHE MAKES ME SO FREAKIN' SICK AND ANGRY!!!!! I've already posted my blurb. I wish I could find the picture of the moose with it's throat blown out and it's bloody face to attach. I'm sure all you ladies can relate.

**note, I'm not opposed to hunting or trying to stop it….I have too many fights on my plate as it is. I just don't get it**

Emily Borgmann| Production Coordinator
Omaha, NE 68154 |

Tax Burden Fairness?...Response to Chris Johnson

This following was written originally as an emailed response to my brother in law, Chris, and our family, in the Borgmann Family List-serve. See his originally letter by clicking here.
***

"But do you give any value to what a persons level of contribution to
the government or society is?" - cj

This is an essential question.

How do we measure "contribution" of a person to society, or to the government?
How is the value of a person's contribution determined or weighed?
Is money the only way we might assess contribution?
What if we held something larger?


I think about the role of priests, nuns, social entrepreneurs, (whoby definition measure their work in the number of LIVES they impact.)I mean Mother Theresa didn't generate a lot of cash flow, but she certainly did have an impact on the society of India, and all the other countries where her order went. Hmmmm.....

What would happen if we held out for larger, more complex assessments of that human contribution?

As long as we continue to operate in a bottom line only mentality, (and assess ourselves and government through this lens) we will be miserable and perpetuating our own suffering in this country, as well as others here and around the world.

Fairness? What is fair?

Clearly, currency is necessary for one kind of approximation of value. But dollars are not the only way we give or contribute. And surely, from a spiritual point of view, God doesn't measure us by the amount of money we make. Hahah. No. I think it's something more like this:

Do we use our gifts?
Are they for the greater good?
Do we use them fairly? What does Love say? Justice say?

You know me, family, I have to challenge the philosophical underpinning of any discussion and challenge frameworks and perceptions!

I really think if we get stuck in fairness around taxation, we'll be stuck as a miserable country always feeling someone got something over on us. It's not a generative and creative place to be. Nor a happy one.

Here's something to chew on...Instead of Gross National Product, what if we followed Bhutan's model, and went to assess the USA on how happy people were? Gross National Happiness?

Here's a TIME magazine article on this:
http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1016266,00.html

Info from Wikipedia follows. LOVE!
Peace, Happiness,
Melissa

***

Gross National Happiness (GNH) is an attempt to define quality of life in more holistic and psychological terms than Gross National Product.


The term was coined by Bhutan's King Jigme Singye Wangchuck in 1972
in response to criticism that his economy was growing poorly. It
signaled his commitment to building an economy that would serve
Bhutan's unique culture based on Buddhist spiritual values. Like many
moral goals, it is somewhat easier to state than to define.
Nonetheless, it serves as a unifying vision for the Five Year
planning process and all the derived planning documents that guide
the economic and development plans of the country.
While conventional development models stress economic growth as the
ultimate objective, the concept of GNH claims to be based on the
premise that true development of human society takes place when
material and spiritual development occur side by side to complement
and reinforce each other. The four pillars of GNH are the promotion
of equitable and sustainable socio-economic development, preservation
and promotion of cultural values, conservation of the natural
environment, and establishment of good governance.

Tax Burden Analysis: "What is Fair?" Questions from Chris Johnson

The following is excerpted from our Borgmann Family List-serve. My brother in law, Chris, writes here daily. I'm appreciative of his entry into the dialogue, and his own posing of critical questions.
***
Tax Burden Analysis

I thought this was an interesting site.....

http://www.ntu.org/main/page.php?PageID=6

This link shows the categorical break-down of the US Income Tax burden over the past 8
years.

Yesterday there was discussion about fairness, although we didn't
really come to any conclusion other than fair has a different
definition depending upon what angle you look at it from. That's how
I saw it, and didn't really hear back on it. "No taxation without
representation?" What is fair and balanced representation? Surely every person deserves to be represented. But do you give any value to what a persons level of contribution to the government or society is?

From 1999 til now, the top 1% paid 10% more in tax revenue, the top
25% paid 3.26% more, the top 50% paid 1% more, and the bottom 50%
paid 25% less. Also, in that same time, the threshold for average
income went up from $26,415 to $31,987 (up 21%), and the threshold
for the top 1% went from $293,415 to $388,806 (up 32.5%) So the rich
got richer, the average got richer, but it's tough to say that the
poor got poorer, because I don't have any data from this that shows
where the bottom 1% is, what poverty level is, etc.

I agree that the wealthy should pay more in taxes than the poor. And they do. But how is it not currently fair. At what point WOULD it be fair?
It was mentioned yesterday about a possible flat tax rate. What would
that tax rate be? How could the lowest 50% afford that? And where
would we find the money to fund our government if that were the case?

cj

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

A Global Perspective on this US Election...

Family, Friends,

I find this BBC Poll from today interesting.

"Given how negative America's international image is at present, it is quite striking that only one in five think a McCain presidency would improve on the Bush administration's relations with the world." -Doug Miller, GlobeScan chairman.

Some questions:
How important is world opinion?
How important are relationships in the world?
How well does anyone know McCain?
What shapes global opinion of Obama?
What factors do US Citizens weigh, hold, approaching the election?

See the entire article below.
Peace,
Melissa
St. Paul, MN

World wants Obama as president: poll

Posted 10 hours 26 minutes ago

US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama may be struggling to nudge ahead of his Republican rival in polls at home, but people across the world want him in the White House, a BBC poll said.

All 22 countries covered in the poll would prefer to see Senator Obama elected US president ahead of Republican John McCain.

In 17 of the 22 nations, people expect relations between the US and the rest of the world to improve if Senator Obama wins.

More than 22,000 people were questioned by pollster GlobeScan in countries ranging from Australia to India and across Africa, Europe and South America.

The margin in favour of Senator Obama ranged from 9 per cent in India to 82 per cent in Kenya, while an average of 49 per cent across the 22 countries preferred Senator Obama compared with 12 per cent preferring Senator McCain. Some four in 10 did not take a view.

"Large numbers of people around the world clearly like what Barack Obama represents," GlobeScan chairman Doug Miller said.

"Given how negative America's international image is at present, it is quite striking that only one in five think a McCain presidency would improve on the Bush administration's relations with the world."

In the United States, three polls taken since the Republican party convention ended on Thursday (local time) show Senator McCain with a lead of 1 to 4 percentage points - within the margin of error - and two others show the two neck-and-neck.

The countries most optimistic that an Obama presidency would improve relations were America's NATO allies, including Australia (62 per cent).

A similar BBC/Globescan poll conducted ahead of the 2004 U.S presidential election found that, of 35 countries polled, 30 would have preferred to see Democratic nominee John Kerry, rather than the incumbent George Bush, who was elected.

A total of 23,531 people in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, the Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Turkey, the UAE, Britain and the United States were interviewed face-to-face or by telephone in July and August 2008 for the poll.

- Reuters

Monday, September 08, 2008

St. Francis de Sales, Sr. Mary Virginia, and Obama: Getting rid of the Fear!

((The following was inspired by a Borgmann-Family-email. My aunt Marian, an avid Hillary supporter in Nebraska, is writing specifically to my cousin Derrick, an avid Obama supporter in Colorado. Her question triggered my own tale from tonight in Minneapolis.)
***
How are you handling the ups and downs of the Colorado [presidential candidate] polls? Back when I was obsessed with this election, I made myself sick watching polls. I'm a recovering democrat now. -Marian
***
I'm back from the Visitation Monastery. (For those who don't know: I hang out a lot with nuns who sorta saved my life when I was teaching in North Minneapolis.)

Anywho. It's a Salesian Spirituality evening, and we are doing a little reflection/ meditation/ prayer work with some pithy passages of Francis de Sales (one of the founders of the Vis Sis's.)

Sr. Mary Virginia reads aloud this line,
"Remain in peace; rid your imagination of whatever troubles you."
Sr. Mary Virginia is in her early 70's. She speaks fluent Spanish, and comes from St. Louis. She has a new left knee. She says, "This phrase really speaks to me. I've been waking up with crazy fears of my imagination, and I just need to get RID of them!"

She pauses, and we are to move on in the group. But I have to ask, "Sr. Mary Virginia, can you give me an example of what makes you afraid?"

"Oh, Melissa, I keep imagining that Obama is going to lose the election. I wake up at 5 am, sick to my stomach."

I started laughing so hard and then squeezed her. I am glad to not be alone.

I love this woman. I love this room of 35 people: nuns and lay folk from the community and across town, who gather one night a month to get real in their faith and in how they try to keep fear and anxiety at bay, and trust God's in charge. We are all recovering "control freaks," I think.... :-)

Just passing this along....

xoxo,
Melissa

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Costs of Universal Healthcare: A French Model and the Questions it Invites for the US

The following is an excerpt from the Borgmann Family Blog. I am deeply appreciative to my cousin Jill Timmer-Teehan, who lived in Paris, France, for two years with her family, and who thinks deeply about topics, weighing research with her lived experience, as she discerns a course of action and invites our collective examination of issues in the United States. In this case: health care. She provided the following information on France's Health Care System that I'm citing here and responding to. Below, you'll find my brother-in-law's response as he weighs this information, and asks his own thoughtful questions. We are all examining the information, looking at wellness, and the costs of well-being for all.

Costs of Universal Healthcare: French Model

Jill, thank you for sending this article!

This is excellent information to weigh on what [universal health care] costs. [This stands out to me from your article]:
In 2005, U.S. spending came to $6,400 per person. In France, it was $3,300.
To fund universal health care in France, workers are required to pay about 21 percent of their income into the national health care system. Employers pick up a little more than half of that. (French employers say these high taxes constrain their ability to hire more people.)
Americans don't pay as much in taxes. Nonetheless, they end up paying more for health care when one adds in the costs of buying insurance and the higher out-of-pocket expenses for medicine, doctors and hospitals.
Again, thanks for sending this, Jill.

Do we want to spend more on taxes in order to ensure the well-being for all?

I am curious about what France's incarceration rates are, as well as the cost to fund their prisons. US jails, for me, are a direct expense in not investing in early-healthcare and education, and looking at the sustainability of such things to achieve life-long well-being and realization of God's gifts-- for each and EVERY PERSON.

Meditating on fishes and loaves,
chickens and eggs,
Melissa

On Sep 6, 2008, at 10:58 AM, Jill Timmer Teehan wrote:

In 2000, health care experts for the World Health Organization tried to do a statistical ranking of the world's health care systems. They studied 191 countries and ranked them on things like the number of years people lived in good health and whether everyone had access to good health care. France came in first. The United States ranked 37th.

Some researchers, however, said that study was flawed, arguing that there might be things other than a country's health care system that determined factors like longevity. So this year, two researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine measured something called the "amenable mortality." Basically, it's a measure of deaths that could have been prevented with good health care. The researchers looked at health care in 19 industrialized nations. Again, France came in first. The United States was last.

French Lessons
Now some American experts say there's a lot Americans can learn from the French.
For starters, the French system is not what most Americans imagine, says historian Paul Dutton at Northern Arizona University, author of Differential Diagnoses: A Comparative History of Health Care Problems and Solutions in the United States and France.
"Americans assume that if it's in Europe, which France is, that it's socialized medicine," he says. "The French don't consider their system socialized. In fact, they detest socialized medicine. For the French, that's the British, that's the Canadians. It's not the French system."
France, like the United States, relies on both private insurance and government insurance. Also, just like in America, people generally get their insurance through their employer.

In France, everyone has health care. However, unlike in Britain and Canada, there are no waiting lists to get elective surgery or see a specialist, Dutton says.He says the French want pretty much the same thing as Americans: choice and more choice.

Universal Coverage, Not At Expense Of Choice
Dutton says these shared values come out of a shared history. Both countries are products of Enlightenment-era revolutions.
"The French hold individual liberty and social equality very dear ... 'liberty, equality, and fraternity' — of course the slogan of their revolution," he says. "And in this country, of course, we have similar ideals: individual liberty, social equality — equal chances for everyone."
But the French have done a better job of protecting those values in health care, Dutton says.
Americans often assume that when people get universal coverage, they give up their choice in doctors, hospitals and care. That's not the case in France, Dutton says. The system is set up both to ensure that patients have lots of choice in picking doctors and specialists and to ensure that doctors are not constrained in making medical decisions.

In France, the national insurance program is funded mostly by payroll and income taxes. Those payments go to several quasi-public insurance funds that then negotiate with medical unions to set doctors' fees. (Doctors can choose to work outside this system, and a growing minority now charge what patients are willing to pay out of pocket.) The government regulates most hospital fees. This system works collectively to keep costs down.

When someone goes to see a doctor, the national insurance program pays 70 percent of the bill. Most of the other 30 percent gets picked up by supplemental private insurance, which almost everyone has. It's affordable, and much of it gets paid for by a person's employer.

"There are no uninsured in France," says Victor Rodwin, a professor of health policy at New York University, who is affiliated with the International Longevity Center. "That's completely unheard of. There is no case of anybody going broke over their health costs. In fact, the system is so designed that for the 3 or 4 or 5 percent of the patients who are the very sickest, those patients are exempt from their co-payments to begin with. There are no deductibles."

Treating The Sickest
In France, the sicker you are, the more coverage you get. For people with one of 30 long-term and expensive illnesses — such as diabetes, mental illness and cancer — the government picks up 100 percent of their health care costs, including surgeries, therapies and drugs.
France has made an unusual guarantee that every cancer patient can get any drug, including the most expensive and even experimental ones that are still being tested, says Dr. Fabian Calvo, deputy director of France's National Cancer Institute. This kind of access is why the French — unlike Americans — say they are highly satisfied with their health care system, he says.
"It's a feeling of safety — that if you have a big problem, you could have access to the good therapy," Calvo says. When compared with people in other countries, the French live longer and healthier lives. Rodwin says that's because good care starts at birth. There are months of paid job leave for mothers who work. New mothers get a child allowance. There are neighborhood health clinics for new mothers and their babies, home visits from nurses and subsidized day care.

The Cost Of Care
It's expensive to provide this kind of health care and social support. France's health care system is one of the most expensive in the world. But it is not as expensive as the U.S. system, which is the world's most costly. The United States spends about twice as much as France on health care. In 2005, U.S. spending came to $6,400 per person. In France, it was $3,300.

To fund universal health care in France, workers are required to pay about 21 percent of their income into the national health care system. Employers pick up a little more than half of that. (French employers say these high taxes constrain their ability to hire more people.)
Americans don't pay as much in taxes. Nonetheless, they end up paying more for health care when one adds in the costs of buying insurance and the higher out-of-pocket expenses for medicine, doctors and hospitals.

France, like all countries, faces rising costs for health care. In a country that's so generous, it's even harder to get those expenses under control.

Last year, the national health system ran nearly $9 billion in debt. Although it is a smaller deficit than in previous years, it forced the government of President Nicolas Sarkozy to start charging patients more for some drugs, ambulance costs and other services. Debates over cost-cutting have become an expected part of the national dialogue on health care.

Related Stories
July 10, 2008
France's Model Health Care For New Mothers
July 9, 2008
France At Forefront Of Free, Innovative Cancer Care


Jill Timmer Teehan
2690 Kelly Knoll Lane
Newbury Park, CA 91320

(805) 499-7027 home
(484) 888-5549 cell
brenjillca@yahoo.com

There Will Be Change No Matter What: Questions for Discerning your Vote

The following is an excerpt from the Borgmann-Family Blog. I am writing after the close of the Republican National Convention, posing questions for further reflection and discernment. My Aunt Marian's comment follows.

============================================================
Notes on the Republican National Convention

There will be change, no matter what.

We will have a feisty war hero who has served this country for decades, paired with a fiery woman who has lead in Alaska. Or we will have a feisty black man who inspires and believes in
change from the bottom up, paired with a seasoned Catholic congressman.

Both will serve and work for reforming and rebuilding the failed parts of this country's economy, its relationships between its citizens and immigrants here, and its relationships with others
across the globe. Both will work for the greatest good in making change in our energy
sources and educational systems.

HOW each will do this, though, is what we must all be really curious about, and really weigh.

What has shaped the perspective and capacity to lead of each Presidential Nominee?
What shapes and governs our individual perspectives and thus influences most greatly how we vote?
What is each of our top issues, and how did that issue get born?
What do we agree on in this family?
Is there a coalition or platform that is the readership of this list- serve?
How can we see all sides or facets of the issues most pressing our family?

How can we see all sides or facets of the issues most pressing for our country? (How might these greatly differ or align? Who don't we see in the Borgmann Family Blog? Who do we?)

What assignments or research might we have to do, in order to grasp the fullness of what is before us?
How much time or energy do any one of us have to investigate anything?

What do we want our budget to look like?
How do our allocated resources reflect our priorities?

Prayers, Peace,
Melissa

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Aunt Enid and Cousin Erin on Sarah Palin as Vice President

The following is an exchange from the Borgmann Family List-serve from my Aunt Enid, living in Grand Island, Nebraska, and her daughter, my cousin Erin Cederlind, living in Tripoli, Libya. They are both incredibly articulate and thoughtful relatives whose perspective on issues I'm grateful to read and receive. You might note Erin's self-described "feistiness," as well. This exchange fueled a whole host of exchanges then on the topic of sexual education in our classrooms, which I will also be excerpting and posting.
Please note: these were written before Governor Palin spoke at the Republican National Convention. Enjoy! -- Melissa

****

Aunt Enid:

My 2-cents Worth [On Sarah Palin's nomination]:

The choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate for John McCain just shocked me to no end. She pretty much stands FOR everything that I am AGAINST . How can anyone in Alaska not be aware of the precarious condition of the lands that have been protected for years and years, and yet she wants to drill for oil on them. Drilling for oil there is not a permanent solution, and yet she is willing to destroy the area for a temporary fix instead of trying to come up with a better way to generate energy. She's for abstinence and removing sex education in schools, and apparently doesn't see that that doesn't work. What in the heck does anyone need to have anything to do with shooting a fully automatic machine gun?? I don't think that her being a woman and mother has anything to do with the fact that she has no experience with foreign affairs either, and the fact that she would truly be a heartbeat away from being our president scares the crap out of me! --Enid

****

Erin's Response:

True dat!

Not having sex education in schools drives me crazy. I understand that no matter what things will happen sometimes, and I don't think we should go back to the time of locking up pregnant teens in a room until they give birth and get married. But the idea that teaching people about sex will make them go out and do it- baloney. Generally the opposite is true. I know that my sex-ed classes, as brief and awkward as they were, basically scared the crap out of me and made me think long and hard about what I was and was not ready for. I am a firm believer that education of any kind is never a bad thing. Again... not that we should shun her because of her daughter, or shun her daughter... but you'd think an example that personal would make her realize that a lack of education does not equal a lack of sex!

But we absolutely CAN shun her for her pro-drilling stance. Argh that makes me crazy!! Why do people think the earth is disposable??

I'm in a feisty mood today, huh? :)

--Erin


Monday, September 01, 2008

Educating Izzy and the children in Afghanistan: Books and Bombs Analogy

The following thoughts were born in writing to my brother in law, Chris, on the Borgmann Family blog. I am interested in how our US tax dollars are allocated, in what I perceive as a culture of fear, and a government who works from this deficit model. I'm tired of the fear. I want to see leaders that work from a transformed place of consciousness. The information on our military spending, vs. dollars on education is staggering. This link to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities provided by my cousin Jennie is very informative: http://www.cbpp.org/info.html.

***
Presently, the Bush Administration is spending:
$70 billion in education vs. $480 billion in defense.

Based on this, the ratio of guns/ bombs/ tanks we are buying for our children is 6.857 - almost 7 to every 1 book/ or educational/ creative toy we purchase for their growth/ development. 7 Bombs for every 1 book. This is how we spend our tax dollars.

How do you all like that message?

Another way to really weigh this information, Chris, is as Izzy's father:
You are roughly purchasing 7 guns or tanks or bombs for your daughter, to every 1 book.

You are saying,
"Izzy, grow, learn, don't fight, be a good girl, play nice."
All the while, your backyard is stockpiled with machinery and she sees daddy training for how to kill others, in the name of her growth and defense.

What is the strongest teacher here? Your words to "play nice and read a book and grow and be smart"? Or her daddy's example of buying things that do the opposite of playing nice and kill the neighbors that don't agree with her? Or who are angry because they are hungry, or have a lot lot less.

The Bush Administration did not start this trend. We did, as American people. And we perpetuate it through our fear. We have the power to change it, to change how we invest in people here, beginning with our children here, and modeling this for all abroad.

Wise governance, wise leadership, revolutionary and inspiring LEADERSHIP would do well to challenge this investment in weaponry, this allocation of resources, and truly look at the root causes of violence and terror in this world. Terror comes when humanity is not honored, hunger is rampant, basic needs are not met, and it seems violence may be the only solution.
The terrorists of 9/11 were not oil wealthy/ hoarding middle easterners living in Iraq. They were starving young men, whose poor families saw a way to put food in their bellies - by sending them to madrassas -- where they received an education steeped in gross indoctrination and also: fear and hatred of the United States. (What inspired Osama Bin Laden? Who is that man? Who are we?)

You want to combat terror? Educate. Lead. Feed. Inspire. Yes. Start by leading, and putting dollars to educate your own people. rather than building more bombs and arming more people in defense. This is called teaching by example, honoring strengths, gifts, not cowering to the lowest denominator of fear and weaknesses.

Izzy is at the center of this, just as the child in the hills in Afghanistan who wants some bread and a book to read, or a classroom to sit in and a teacher to teach him or her critically, not just memorize more hate speech and warring action.

Izzy can benefit from seeing rich examples of love and critical inquiry and compassion, right? So can those children in Afghanistan -- and around the globe.

Beth Borgmann as Vice President!

Another entry from the Borgmann Family Blog. On the heels of McCain's announcement of Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin as his Vice-Presidential running mate, questions were flying about her identity and the details around her as a working mom . My aunt Marian, a devoted Hillary supporter, responded "If she’s anything like you Beth, I have no problem with her potentially managing this country!"

The following entry was inspired by this kind of endorsement and my own contemplation:
"What if my mom ran as Vice President? Not as a Republican, but as a Democratic candidate? What would our country look like?"

I want to See Beth Borgmann and Barack Obama on a ticket! That would make my day! My century!

What do you do on education, mom?
What about our military?
Just think, if we employed a Beth Borgmann (backed by a fiery, but in the background Steve Borgmann) what would government look like?

There would be no abortion, because every single woman facing poverty or the inability to raise a child in the best way, would have a whole host of support, that Beth Borgmann would inspire through church and bridge clubs and Tom Osborn networks.

Adoptions would be a lot easier.

My mom would write tax laws so that the wealthiest people who give to charitable organizations supporting children and life-long mentorship, would be happy with their take home salary; they would be advocates for this kind of fiscal responsibility in giving. There would be enough for everyone, and this would be made quite visible through the most transparent reporting of resources and relationships.

What else would Beth Borgmann do? Have everyone get on an RV and travel to see and meet families in other parts of the country. She'd even invest in RV trips abroad, with big road trips planned in Africa (thanks, mom!) and Asia, and Afghanistan. That's Year One of her first term.

She'd make sure the smartest young people would be working with foreign exchange students (under Fabi's tutelage - our former German Foreign exchange student) to dream up new energy technology. She'd award them with research funds and a trip to the cabin or on the RV. hehe.

Beth Borgmann as VP would oversee the decrease in military spending, because so many fewer people will want to kill anyone with her in office. She makes people smile because she laughs all the time and sees their best qualities.

The people in Afghanistan, the mothers of boys being sent to madrassas to train for the
Taliban, would also love her. The Taliban of terror would dissolve once and for all. The moms and children would meet up in Beth's first RV trip through Pakistan and into Afghanistan. She would take Sylvie and Izzy, chaperoned by Noah, Jack and Trent. This team of grandkids would see first-hand how different life is in the most rural areas and marvel at how lucky they are. They would not want to "fix' anyone or simply give them money. Beth Borgmann's grandkids would just be grandkids, and this would inform her own strategy for diplomacy. The boys would play soccer with the other young boys. Jack would ask if they knew what football was. Sylvie would be cracking open lotion bottles with the little girls in Kandahar, and Izzy would join in the kids building a bridge out of sticks and asking others to help her.

Beth as VP would lead then in the international relationship-building. And a decrease in terror would ensue. How? Because she sees and is able to communicate and model how simply relationships and understanding can happen, when we become like little kids - innocent, excited, and wanting to learn new things. Play nicely.

Lotion, soccer, bridges: these go a long way in smoothing over and inspiring fun for all and movement forward.

What else? Between a Barack and Beth ticket, John McCain would salute his political days goodbye. The American people would applaud his service and support his departure, as he, himself, recognized the changing world and lesser need for his kind of governance from fear. Beth is not a leader from fear. She trusts people and their best instincts and selves. And this is exemplified in her years with Steve, and her years raising kids and seeing them successfully and happily into their adult spaces. Her leadership is really simple, and really down to earth.

Even Governor Palin is happy with Beth stepping up, as she recognizes the years of experience that Beth Borgmann has in this arena of love and relationship building and nation building. (Though Beth herself is shy on these matters, it's part of her charm.) What works well for her clan of children and family, works well with all families and those at the helm of leading people.

I wonder now, who Beth will appoint into the larger cabinet from this clan?
Hhaaaahhhhha!

Love! Happy Friday!
Melissa

Brother-in-Law, Chris Johnson: Self-identified Conservative Republican

An excerpt from the Borgmann Family Blog, from one courageous and articulate self-identified Republican in our bunch: my brother in law, Chris Johnson. This is the first in a series of his thoughts I'm making public here to offer blog readers a sense of this man's concerns, as well as how our family responds and dialogues. Chris reads a lot. He asks lots of questions. We totally butt heads, but I totally love him. This is before Obama's speech on Thursday night of the Democratic National Convention. --Melissa

From Chris:

Okay, I want to be very sensitive about this, because I know most of the readers on here are at least ardent democrats, and many are Obama lovers!! But I can't help but observe that this whole convention is nothing more than one big emotional pep rally. I have yet to hear ONE significant reason why Barrack Obama is THE man to lead our nation for the next four years. Because he's a good man? A good husband? A good father? Because his wife is a good woman? (although the fact that Theresa Heinz Kerry was a REALLY REALLY BAD WOMAN was part of the reason I didn't vote for her husband, so that's a wash...) I think most cognisant Americans agree that our country needs change at this point. I get the feeling the democratic party, and their supporters, would rather re-write the constitution that guided this country over the past 200+ years. I personally don't think the machine is broken, it just needs to be tweaked. This is still the best place in the world to live. It should be noted that monumentally good presidents don't make this nation a better place all by themselves, but monumentally bad presidents apparently do. And I guess that's the way it goes, so there's no need to point the finger at the democratic controlled congress for any of our current woes.

Both parties have a lot of changing to do. I DO think that McCain will bring about a great deal of change, but of a more moderate nature than Obama. Speaking of change, Obama's had a fair amount of his own since this has gone from a primary election to a general election.

http://www.gop.com/news/NewsRead.aspx?GUID=7ff619e1-32b0-494e-8af3-d19e9026dd0b

I hope Obama's speech tonight sheds some light on HOW he intends to change things. Not sure I've heard that yet.

cj

On "Slick Billy": Notes from Brother Ben, Aunt Marian, Uncle Leon and Sister Melissa on President Clinton

The following are from a Borgmann Familly Blog thread during the Democratic National Convention speeches. My brother Ben is responding to a moment from Tuesday evening's speeches when the TV captured Bill Clinton mouthing the words, "I love you" to his wife Hillary, as she was rising to stand at the podium. The responses from Marian, myself and Leon were offered sporadically through Friday, after John McCain announced his running mate, Sarah Palin. Anger, Sarcasm, Empathy, Humor are all rampant here. --Melissa
****

From Brother Ben:

Did anyone else puke when Slick Billy was on last night watching
Hillary? He was like mouthing words to her for the tv cameras? He
just makes me ill. I mean if it was Monica, that would be one thing.

Just had to get that nausea out of my system.

Hi all you Slick Billy fans!!!

Ben

****
From Aunt Marian:

Just for the record … that made me sick too. I'm surprised you
watched the program Ben … but, I plan to watch John McCain and see
what he has to say … don't know if I can stomach anyone else. Is
Rush speaking? How about Rove?


Who's your favorite for the VP slot? m

****
Melissa's Response:

"Slick Billy...Slick Billy....the guy that makes me puke..." Really,
Ben: you should write a song! (Smiles)


I'm sorry he made you sick. I'm sorry he made Marian sick. I'm sorry
he made me sick.
I get the notion of what it is to get nauseous from people's actions.
Leader's actions. Human's actions.

Dang contradictions! Dang public personas and humanity! Dang
political machinery!

"People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power."
- Bill Clinton, in his speech at the DNC, 8.27.08

This line of President Clinton's speech is something to weigh, then,
given the fullness of his actions, the current administrations' -- as
well as yours as a dad and husband, mine, our family's, our country's...


What is our collective example? What is its power? How is this
different from an example of power? (Of might?)
(How does this compare with Christ's example of power or powerful
example?)

Have you watched other parts of the convention? Did you hear Michelle speak? Or her brother? Or Joe Biden?

Love ya,
Melissa

****
Uncle Leon:

Bill Clinton did have a zipper problem, but he was a great president. And he is still married to his first wife.

Obama gave a speech, and Phelps swam a race. Ho hum.

Just wait until McSame gets elected and has to be removed from office for senility and the mayor of Wasilla takes over. As a lifetime member of the NRA, she would work to legalize the private ownership of all kinds of assault weapons. Did you see the picture of her firing an AK-47?

"What is at the Heart of What We are Trying to Accomplish?" An Essential Question from Cousin Jennie

The following response arrived on the heels of my informing my family that I'd be posting excerpts from our Borgmann Family List-serve. This writing from my California cousin speaks volumes, going to the heart of intentions: politically, in the family realm, in the blog-sphere, in how we all communicate, lead, love, live.

Melissa,

So often there are contradictions in our choices, beliefs, ideologies. For example, people totally against abortion, but then not supporting programs designed to prevent unwanted pregnancies (i.e., sex education in school...condom distribution programs) or social service programs to help those who have children, but may have a hard time affording them (WIC, food stamps, etc.). I thought what Barack said the other night really made people in both parties stop and think: what is at the heart of what we trying to accomplish? If we prevent unwanted pregnancies we don't have as big of issue about abortion, if we treat gays and lesbians as our brothers and sisters, we would want them to have the opportunities available to us all.
We may not agree on abortion, but surely we can agree on reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country. The reality of gun ownership may be different for hunters in rural Ohio than for those plagued by gang-violence in Cleveland, but don’t tell me we can’t uphold the Second Amendment while keeping AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I know there are differences on same-sex marriage, but surely we can agree that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters deserve to visit the person they love in the hospital and to live lives free of discrimination. Passions fly on immigration, but I don’t know anyone who benefits when a mother is separated from her infant child or an employer undercuts American wages by hiring illegal workers. This too is part of America’s promise – the promise of a democracy where we can find the strength and grace to bridge divides and unite in common effort. -- Barack Obama in his DNC Speech, 8.28.08

Enjoy your weekend!
Jennie