Monthly Archives: July 2007

Cheney Gets Rapped by Another VP

Very interesting article in the Washington Post, Answering to No One, by Walter Mondale (Jimmy Carter’s VP). He gives a history of the role of the vice president, and then comes to Dick Cheney. His words affirm what I’ve felt for a long time.

Cheney set out to create a largely independent power center in the office of the vice president. His was an unprecedented attempt not only to shape administration policy but, alarmingly, to limit the policy options sent to the president. It is essential that a president know all the relevant facts and viable options before making decisions, yet Cheney has discarded the “honest broker” role he played as President Gerald Ford’s chief of staff….

Through his vast government experience, through the friends he had been able to place in key positions and through his considerable political skills, he has been increasingly able to determine the answers to questions put to the president – because he has been able to determine the questions….

I’ve never seen a former member of the House of Representatives demonstrate such contempt for Congress — even when it was controlled by his own party. His insistence on invoking executive privilege to block virtually every congressional request for information has been stupefying – it’s almost as if he denies the legitimacy of an equal branch of government. Nor does he exhibit much respect for public opinion, which amounts to indifference toward being held accountable by the people who elected him.

Whatever authority a vice president has is derived from the president under whom he serves. There are no powers inherent in the office; they must be delegated by the president. Somehow, not only has Cheney been given vast authority by President Bush – including, apparently, the entire intelligence portfolio – but he also pursues his own agenda. The real question is why the president allows this to happen.

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When Connor Sleeps

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Connor, like our cats, can fall asleep in a variety of positions. Here is he contorted in sleep, on our loveseat and in his crib. Cute stuff, but sure doesn’t look comfortable.

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Movie: Hairspray

hairspray_300.jpgLast Saturday Pam and I saw the movie/musical “Hairspray.” My goodness, that was fun! After the opening song by Tracy Turnblad, “Good Morning Baltimore,” I turned to Pam and said, “This is going to be a good movie.”

Hairspray was delightful from beginning to end. The music and dancing were incredible. Mom and Dad–are you reading this? You’d love this movie.

I’d rank Hairspray as the best movie I’ve seen this year. And we’ve not seen any duds yet. We’ve seen seven movies, and I’d put them in this order: Hairspray, Evan Almighty, Live Free or Die Hard, Shrek the Third, Oceans 13, and Transformers. (Yes, we skipped the third iterations of both Spiderman and Pirates.)

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Charismatic and Orthodox

Last Sunday, our worship team played about six songs during an afternoon service for another church group. The local Charismatic Orthodox Church was dedicating its new facility.

Yes, you read that right–Charismatic Orthodox. Two words you don’t see together often. The New Jerusalem Charismatic Orthodox Church.

We held the service in an open-sided tent on their property. A generator in the bed of a pickup truck powered our amps and instruments. The strong breeze kept blowing my music around.

I suppose about 100 people were there, probably half black, half caucasian (which says something real good about them). They had bishops all over the place, and plenty of clerical collars. The lead pastor was a big black fellow, probably a former defensive end. Real nice guy.

The denominational head came up from Florida to say a few words. He was a fairly young guy, maybe 50 years old, with a very short ponytail and a purple shirt. He kept an informal bearing, almost playing the part of the cut-up as he bantered with the local minister. I liked him. He told about what they’re doing around the world–not in a lot of places, but in several places–and I was impressed with their spirit and vision.

After the service, I told the minister, “You have a great thing going here.” He said, “As long as we can keep politics out of it.” I gave him a thumbs-up.

The Charismatic Orthodox Church is committed to inviting other groups to use their facility. An organization that provides up to 2500 meals daily to poor children works out of their building. So does a prison ministry and, I think, some other groups. They want to be a blessing to the total body of Christ. They had named their building–big block letters on the outside–“Community House.”

I thoroughly enjoyed getting acquainted with these fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Good people. And they seemed to like our music, too.

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Baby Aspirin Meets Homeland Security

babyaspirin.jpgI went to the doctor yesterday, the first time since I turned 50. Visits to the doctor are going to be decidedly less fun than in the past. As if they’ve ever been fun. Maybe fun, if you compare them to going to the dentist.

For several years, I’ve been taking a 5mg tablet for high blood pressure. Well, Doc didn’t like my blood pressure reading. So he wrote me a prescription for a second pill. And then, for good measure, he told me to take a baby aspirin once a day. I’ve gone from one pill to three pills, and I’m only 50.

This morning I took the two prescription pills, which come in simple containers, and saved the baby aspirin for last. It was not easy to reach.

I tore open the box. The bottle had one of those plastic casings holding the cap in place. After some effort, I nicked it with a fingernail and was able to tear the plastic off. I then tried removing the plastic cap, but it wouldn’t budge…until I realized you had to line up two arrows just right. Even then, the cap was too small for my fingers, so I used my teeth to wrench off the cap.

Now I was confronted with one of those cardboard circular inner caps. I tried pushing it in with a finger, but couldn’t do it. So I hit it with some nail clippers. Finally, I could get to the baby aspirin.

Not so fast. There was still a wad of cotton blocking the way. I stuck my fat index finger into the bottle, but couldn’t find a way to force the cotton out. So I just pushed it to the side so I could pour out a pill.

By that time, I was definitely in need of a hypertension supplement.

I’ll work on the cotton ball tonight. I’ll extract it using my Channellock needle-nose pliers.

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Further Proof of My Codgerdom

I went to Pizza Hut for lunch today. As I left to pay my bill, the clerk, a young gal, said, “What’d ya have, Sweetie?”

I just gave her my bill and money. I hate it when waitresses call me stuff like that.

She counted out the change and said, “Here you go, Li’l Darling.”

Li’l Darling? What in thunderation!!!

These are terms you would normally think of sweet young things saying to old codgers, for whom there is no attraction. A pretend, game-like kind of false flirting to let geezers think they’ve still “got it.” If some young stud approached the check-out register, I seriously doubt she’d call him Sweetie or Li’l Darling. That would seem like genuine flirting. Rather, she’d probably be holding her breath, hoping he noticed her hair or something, maybe ask for her phone number.

But me? No, I’m totally harmless. Just another old guy.

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Connor’s Dedication

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Connor was dedicated this morning. Allen and Carolyn went forward with Connor, Pastor Tim asked them some questions about their commitment to raising Connor, and then Tim took Connor in his arms and prayed over him. Then we watched a video presentation showing photos of Connor (most of which I took) by himself and with various people (including two photos of Connor sleeping on me).

It was nice. And it was extra meaningful to Pam and me.

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God’s Blessings at Biaggis

Today is our anniversary–18 years. Pastor Tim called attention to it during the service, and asked me the secret to marriage. Standing at the keyboard, I moved to my microphone and said, “Listen to my wife and do everything she says.” The ladies seemed to enjoy my response.

biaggis.jpgAfter church Pam and I ate at Biaggis, a wonderful Italian restaurant. We go there maybe once a year, and often in conjunction with our anniversary. The place is expensive. Our bill, before tip, was an uncannily even $50. I had Shrimp Oregonata, which I order nearly every time.

As we sat down, we heard a large group sing “The Doxology.” Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise him all creatures here below….”. That was their prayer for the meal. It was a good-sized church group, mostly older people. And that got me to thinking about the mere idea of holding a church get-together at a place like Biaggis.

We would never do that at Anchor. Unthinkably expensive. Some people could afford it, but not most. For too many, going to Lee’s Chicken would be as much as they could afford…if that. I remember when we took Carolyn and Allen to Bob Evans, and Allen, in 27 years, had never eaten there. At a Bob Evans.

But here was a large church group, and when they asked each other, “Where should we go to eat?”, somebody suggested Biaggis, and everyone said, “That sounds good.” For those people who thanked God for whom all blessings flow, money is not an issue. I think I can safely assume that their church is located in the suburbs.

And they would probably be puzzled by my musings. I would have been puzzled, before we went to Anchor eight years ago. I saw no problem with eating at nice restaurants; it was something to which we were entitled, due to our incomes. We gave it no thought. The position of the poor in Fort Wayne was nowhere on our radar. Being a good Republican, I would have argued that if poor people got off their duffs and worked, they could have flowing blessings and eat at places like Biaggis, too. Simplistic and naive and clueless and altogether wrong. I’m sure God just smiled and thought, “Steve dosn’t get it now, but someday he’ll at least start to get it.”

But the underclasses are firmly on my radar now. I think about our flow of blessings all the time, and the comparative lack of flowing blessings among other people who also love God. People who are now my friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ. I reflected on the act of paying $50 for a meal, even once a year for a special anniversary meal. I am very pleased that I think about this stuff all the time. Because I once was oblivious, and now I’m not. Jesus was never oblivious about this.

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iChat and the Chinese Firewall

Two days ago at work, about 11:30 am, I received an iChat instant message from Erinn. Erinn is in China, working with a group from Huntington University that is teaching teachers of English in Zhuhai City, a major city in China. It’s a very neat opportunity. Erinn worked in my office until last November, when she accepted a high school teaching job.

Anyway, Erinn said some plans had changed, and she needed to do a presentation. But she was having trouble gathering photos for a PowerPoint presentation. She just needed some photos of typical American sports–basketball, baseball, football, soccer, golf, etc. She tried Google images, but the vaunted Great Firewall of China wouldn’t let her find anything. Evidently American sports photos are considered enemies of the state. She had been trying for a good while, but in vain.

So she was wondering if I could help her out. Could I use my graphics resources to send her some suitable photos. I have a good library of photos on my computer, and among them were some sports photos, which I quickly located. I dropped a football photo into the iChat window and hit the Return button. A few seconds later, the image having appeared on her screen, she responded, “Ooh, that’s a nice one.” Or something like that.

I dropped in photos of people playing other sports–basketball, golf, hockey, even skateboarding. All got through. Amazing. I drag a photo into a message field, send it, and almost immediately it appears on Erinn’s screen on the other side of the world. Sometimes technology can be radically cool.

“It’s been a pleasure circumventing cyber tyranny,” I told her as we ended our chat. And I imagined Chinese cyberspooks, frustrated by their inability to stifle iChat, scrambling black helicopters and dour sunglassed men in black SUVs to Erinn’s IP node.

Apple iChat. Think Subversive.

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Connor Learns to Crawl

ConnorCrawling_200.jpgConnor started crawling two weeks ago, and now, he tools around everywhere. Getting into everything. Grabbing. Touching. Inflicting no small amount of anxiety on our cats. He hasn’t caught Jordi or Molly yet, but it’s just a matter of time before he sneaks up on one of them while they’re sleeping. Molly was sleeping peacefully when a baby hand touched her tail. She bolted with maximum haste.

Our house now features numerous barriers. A gate going into the kitchen. A crib blocking this route, boxes here and there, my accordion in yet another place. All to impede mobility.

The little guy continues to change our lives. I’m not sure I’m all that crazy about this crawling stuff. When he just laid in one place, flopping arms and legs but going nowhere–yes, those were the good ol’ days. Days now gone forever.

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