Friday, May 31, 2013

Coordinated Targeting

I continue to watch for further information to come out about the various scandals swirling around this administration. Today I want to take a further look at the targeting of conservative groups, focusing on True the Vote, which I have participated in personally. [I’ve written about TTV here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.]

This will lead to a question about how the administration goes about business: Who is doing the targeting, and how do they go about coordinating?
There are two nonprofit organizations started by Catherine Engelbrecht, here in Houston, Texas, in 2010 that have grown nationwide since that small beginning. One is True the Vote, with the mission of helping people learn how to verify free and fair elections. Its purpose is nonpartisan and educational and should qualify as a 501(c)3 organization, which would allow donations to be tax deductible. The other is King Street Patriots, a nonpartisan but conservative group helping to share information and advocating on specific issues. KSP has been holding weekly meetings, with speakers, and annual conferences. It does not endorse candidates or parties, and welcomes all interested comers. KSP should qualify as a 501(c)4 organization—nonprofit for the organization’s tax purposes, but donations would not be deductible.

Filing for nonprofit statuses for these two organizations was done in July 2010 (almost three years ago). I have applied for nonprofit status before. We organized a homeschool support group in December 2005. We were able to apply online and qualify as a Texas nonprofit organization while the organizing meeting was still underway. It took a few months to put together the paperwork (a few pages) to apply for federal 501(c)3 status, with educational purposes. We received that status about two months after applying. There were no IRS visits, phonecalls, or examinations of our personal IRS filings. Our organization handled very little money—enough dues to cover basic insurance and facility rentals; there were no employees, and most activities were paid for by participants. So it was simple—also quick. (We also didn’t have a president then who makes it clear he believes parents do not have a natural right to school their own children.)
TTV and KSP are much bigger, and more complex. But their purposes are no more nefarious or suspicious than our homeschool group. I can understand a few additional clarifying questions, to make sure the group does what it claims to do. But those could have been simply answered by IRS people visiting the website, where videos of meetings are archived, or having someone drop in to observe. Meetings are open. Rolls aren’t taken, although there is always a sign-up sheet to get emails, if you want to get announcements.
These organizations have done everything required by the law—as well as everything required by the harassing IRS. And still they have not received their nonprofit certification.
It’s odd enough that the IRS has taken three years, has acknowledged knowing about the targeting for well over a year, and still hasn't ruled on the status—either way, granted or denied. So clearly the IRS problem isn’t cleared up yet.
But the real scary part is how many other federal agencies got involved. The full timeline of encounters is available. (This article is also a good summary. Also, watch the 13-minute interview on Huckabee, above.) Besides multiple encounters with the IRS, and the hundreds and hundreds of pages of answered questions still not qualifying as enough, there has been scrutiny from the FBI Domestic Terrorism Unit, twice, asking about attendance by a specific person. (Don’t know who this person was, but no information was available except that this person had attended, according to a sign-in sheet.) Plus there were four additional FBI general inquiries.
Then there were personal audits by the IRS of the Engelbrecht’s small business. Let me say that, in the dozens of times I have attended events at King Street Patriots, Catherine Engelbrecht has never even said the name of her family business or what it did. All she has said was that she stepped away from the family business to do this volunteer citizen work, and her husband stands behind her and continues without her. I have never been aware of his attendance at any event; if he’s been there, he has remained anonymous. I saw her children only once, at an all-day presentation by another organization, educating on the US Constitution.
Her family has stayed very separate from the nonprofit work. She has done nothing to connect her private life with the nonprofit organizations. The personal audit ended up giving them a small refund—that’s how squeaky clean they were, even under scrutiny.
Then came unscheduled visits and audits by the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. The business has a class 7 license, which would allow them to manufacture gun parts, if they chose to—which they do not do. They were required to open their safes and provide serial numbers of any personally owned firearms. ATF made more than one visit.
OSHA dropped in unannounced, even though they’d never found the need to make contact in the first 20 years the family business was in operation. They wanted to see the family farm, count animals, examine fence lines, and a great many things unrelated to running a small manufacturing business. Violations were found: the seatbelt on a forklift was the wrong kind. They were using safety goggles as required, but not the right kind.
Result: fines of $25,000. They were able to talk those down to $17,000. They feared arguing further, because who knew how much further the persecution would go? It was not an insignificant amount for a small business of 30 employees.
The cost for the nonprofits has probably reached into the hundreds of thousands of dollars for accounting and attorneys. Note that this is all in response to questioning, with no accusations of crime or wrongdoing. They do not have that kind of money; they do not even have employees. I believe (not sure) that much of the legal help has been provided pro bono; Jay Sekulow of American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) has been involved with this and another couple dozen similar cases.
Another agency, puzzling to me because the name makes it appear to be a state agency, not federal. In November of 2012 was an unscheduled audit by the Texas Commission on Environment Quality. In response to yet another unrevealed complaint?
Only the IRS and FBI made contacts related to the nonprofits and their activity—pretty intrusive, but at least related. But the family and family business got harassed by the IRS, OSHA, ATF, and TCEQ. Never happened before, but at the same time scrutiny follows the nonprofit applications. Coincidence?
On radio yesterday a caller reached Sean Hannity’s radio show (around 3:45 PM CDT, 5-30-2013), saying a similar harassment happened to him a few years ago. He and his wife own a small mom-and-pop business. They support traditional marriage and made a donation to the Prop 8 campaign; within a month they also made a donation to a church. Shortly later they were suddenly targeted by OSHA, the IRS, and another agency I didn’t catch. It cost them considerably in accounting and legal fees, fighting accusations like “you have too much money in your account,” when they kept only three months of working capital. Sean Hannity responded that there are a great many untold stories. Some of them he has collected in a studio audience for Friday’s show (TV show, on Fox News, I believe). These are people who have reason to believe they have been targeted purely for their political views.
There are three possible explanations:
  1. There is no targeting based on political beliefs; this is all just coincidence (which pretty much no one believes anymore; even the IRS has admitted to targeting).
  2. There has been targeting based on political beliefs, but it was limited to low level rogue employees in a specific IRS, acting on their own (pretty unlikely, considering all the evidence from various places and various agencies).
  3. There has been targeting, beyond the IRS nonprofit office, beyond even the IRS as a whole, coordinated among various agencies, including private citizens and their businesses aside from their nonprofit activities.

I think the evidence grows stronger that it’s the third explanation. So the question is, who coordinates, and how do they accomplish it? Over and over the White House declares it knew nothing. But all of the federal agencies involved come under the executive branch; the President is ultimately responsible for their behavior.
Technically, it’s possible the President remains hands off, but it’s hard to imagine he maintains his ignorance in any other way but with a wink-wink, “we never had this conversation,” “you know what to do without it being spelled out; that’s why you were hired—for your initiative” kind of machination. It’s also possible that there’s some specific coordination going on that is being covered up and lied about. The Chicago Way (which our president is much more qualified to teach than he ever was Constitutional law) includes both versions.

Questions are arising concerning an unusual number of White House visits by the former IRS Commissioner, now counting up to 157 (compared to one by his predecessor during the eight Bush years). He’s not supposed to be a policy maker. So what is there to talk about? And we’re supposed to believe neither he nor any White House person knew anything about the targeting? Just another odd coincidence?
I don’t want scapegoats. I want truth about what is actually happening, so we can learn from this history and never suffer repeating it.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What Is Power?

During one of our Sunday lessons this week, the teacher (a good friend of mine, who embarrasses me by saying I’m one of the smartest people she knows, but who is also very smart in various less sedentary ways) put this word equation on the board:
Belief + Action = Faith, and Faith = Power
This was a religious lesson, about not feeling ashamed that your belief is not yet knowledge; if it is a strong enough belief that you then act on it, trusting it to be true, then that is faith. And it is by faith that the world was created and all miracles happen.
But the Faith = Power part intrigued me. I have written here before about the word power; specifically about the difference between leaders and power mongers. Leaders serve, while power mongers act in ways to increase/protect their power over others. So I wondered if this equation could be applied also to power in a more general sense, or whether there is an actual difference.
Phenomenal Cosmic Power; Itty-bitty Living Space
What is power? In a lot of youth literature, people have special powers, maybe magical or super powers, or at least special talents and abilities beyond normal humans. And then there’s the dilemma that, “with great power comes great responsibility,” (according to Spiderman’s Uncle Ben). I don’t think I want to deal with that kind of issue today. I want to deal with something closer to real world power. I went to the handy dictionary. There are a lot of layers in defining power. So I think I’ll pick and choose how I mean it here.

Power is the ability to act, produce, accomplish, do. It can also be the ability to influence the behavior of others, which could be either very good or very bad. In the world of politics—which most of us would prefer to avoid but can’t if we care about our own freedom to act, produce, accomplish, and do—power might also mean the authority to act, or to control the actions of others. Such power is like fire, important for use in certain limited circumstances, but dangerous in the wrong hands or in the wrong situations.
I’ve previously asserted that seeking power is evil, but I think I need to clarify the definition, because having the power to do good, and wanting that ability, is not a bad thing. The power to act in a positive way is good, but power to act in a negative way is, well, bad.
So how do we make sure that we’re seeking power for good? And how do we prevent others from gaining power for evil?
Power needs a source. So if we’re going to a good source—THE Good Source—then we can be pretty certain our power will be for good. If you have something Good to do, and you ask God for the power to do it, when that power is granted, you know you didn’t supply it yourself; you put in the work, but you got the ideas, the energy, the opportunities—the power—from the source for good. There’s a sense of humility in the heart. If you’re missing the sense of humility and thankfulness, and in its place find a sense of superiority or entitlement, you’re probably seeking the wrong kind of power.
I don’t think there’s any problem with wanting power from God to do His will. That is very different from power mongering—loving power for self. But power to do God’s will is always about serving His children, even when leading and influencing them. The evil kind of power is about controlling, rather than serving. Originally, I said it this way:
A power monger is the polar opposite of a leader. He/she uses coercion as a basic tool. A power monger uses deception to gain power, not trusting honest persuasion to get people to give it to him/her. A power monger doesn’t recognize God-given rights, but only the privileges he/she decides to grant, usually to those most likely to return political favors (money, votes, support). A power monger can coerce at any level from family to international, but those with an appetite for power generally seek it over a larger and larger circle of minions.
A power monger sees him/herself as elite and superior over the other lower beings, as opposed to seeing him/herself among fellow citizens as a leader would do. A power monger doesn’t avoid chaos, but rather uses it (sometimes even creates it purposefully) as an opportunity to cause more people to succumb to the desire for protection, which he/she offers. A power monger is selfish, doing good for others only if it will increase his/her personal power.
I think the Spherical Model helps explain the difference. Those who choose to dwell only in the southern hemisphere, in either statist or chaotic tyranny, think there are only two choices: control others, or be controlled by others. They seem perversely unaware of the entire northern hemisphere where people work and live freely among one another—using limited government to help with the limited times people fail to consider one another’s rights and self-govern. It’s the hemisphere where freedom, prosperity, and civilization thrive. It’s not a dog-eat-dog world there; it’s a mutually respectful world. Unlike the power mongers in the tyranny hemisphere, leaders in the freedom hemisphere must be servant leaders, who lead by persuasion, information, and example.
Why don’t we simply choose that? Some of us do. But we live in a world where we do not have a critical mass of people choosing the better way.
I believe God used the faith of righteous people to establish this country in the first place. God has power to do anything. I believe He can bring us back to the freedom zone; I do not know if that is His plan, or if some sort of disastrous version of natural consequences is more likely.
But this will continue to be true:
Faith in God Power to Do Good
We can act on our desires to do good in our homes and communities and country, and He will give us power to accomplish enough good that we can still enjoy many of the blessings of that northern hemisphere that so many others are too blind to see. If we act on faith, miracles will still happen.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Not Just Another Monday

I read something yesterday,* about Memorial Day, reminding me that it wasn’t until 1971 that Memorial Day, along with several other holidays, was changed from a specific date to a particular Monday, allowing for three-day weekends. The author hypothesized that something of the meaning began disappearing with that change.
Fallen Warriors Memorial--Houston
from their Facebook page

I started thinking about that, for other holidays as well. Presidents Day was one; we no longer celebrate the birthdays of Lincoln and Washington on their actual February birthdays, learning about them in school classes and elsewhere. Instead we have a holiday for family vacations, a brief college break, an extra shopping day, during which we have pretty much nothing in the way of traditional ceremony reminding us of those two extraordinary presidents.
Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, celebrated on a Monday in mid-January, came after the change, so has never been truly connected to his actual birthday. Having a holiday for a single American, no matter how influential, seems odd when we only bunch our greatest, and all, presidents some Monday in February. It’s better when the day is referred to as celebrating equal rights or something—something worth teaching about in schools. But again, it’s a day off from schools, with very little in the way of traditional celebrating.
We tend to keep traditions alive better when they are date specific, rather than a convenient Monday. Christmas tends to be full (overfull, at times) of traditions. The Fourth of July, Independence Day, could hardly be celebrated on a different day, and it does retain traditional parades, fireworks, and brass bands in addition to summer cookouts and family time together.
Thanksgiving is on a changing date, but always the fourth Thursday of November; it remains full of tradition. It can be anywhere from a single day off during the week to a four-day or even seven-day vacation. Easter is day specific as well, a certain Sunday after the spring equinox. There’s enough meaning attached that we get together for traditional family celebrations whether we get time off or not. So it’s possible, even without specific dates. But the three-day weekend does seem to have lessened, rather than increased, our ability to pay attention to the purpose of special days.
What if we had kept Memorial Day on its original May 30th? Would we remember it is as something much more than the first good cookout day of summer? Would we meet together somewhere in reverence, at a cemetery or monument, and tell stories of fallen heroes? Would we remember how solemn this day is, compared to July 4th, and compared to Veterans’ Day? I don’t know. And I don’t suppose it’s likely we’ll go back.
But here in Texas we say, “Remember the Alamo,” and of the current war against radical Islamists who attacked us 9-11-2001, we say, “Never forget.” Memorial Day was officially instituted after the Civil War, to honor soldiers who had fallen on both sides, so we would never forget their sacrifice that brought us toward full freedom, and all the soldiers since who have made that ultimate sacrifice.
On a personal note, 32 years ago, on Memorial Day, after I had decorated graves at the cemetery with my family, I drove the hour home and went to a church activity—and met Mr. Spherical Model. [When he tells it, he says we met in a dark bathroom, which, while accurate, begs for a lot of explanation. You’ll have to ask him sometime.] So the day has an added, happy reason for remembering.
We plan to see grandkids, have some Texas barbecue, and enjoy the Monday off. I expect many of you will do the same. But I hope we can all also do some grateful remembering.
*The link had video/audio of three mournful but beautiful pieces of music honoring fallen soldiers, worth listening to.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Our Refuge and Strength

I was getting ready to leave the house yesterday and had the radio on Glenn Beck’s show, and a guy called in, with a scripture. It caught my interest. I wasn’t able to write it down right then, so I tried to remember and look it up later. “Psalms 40-something” I repeated to myself. In my later search I came across Psalm 43:1
Judge me, O God, and plead my cause against an ungodly nation: O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man.
which seemed somewhat appropriate in this season of IntimOgate. But I didn’t think that was the one that struck me.
Eventually I found the right one, and verified it by re-listening to the radio program. At about 139 minutes [may require subscription to view/listen]  into the show is a call from Joshua in Arkansas (I adjusted his quotes of the actual scripture words to match my Bible; there were only a couple of minor discrepancies not affecting the meaning):
In prayer this morning, God kind of gave me a message for you and for the people of Moore, Oklahoma. Psalms 46 starts by saying, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” It talks in that chapter about nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall. He lifts his voice and the earth melts. The last verse of that scripture ends with, “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.”
It’s verse 10 of this psalm that says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” I need to spend more time in Psalms. Good stuff.
There are philosophical questions that come up after disasters and extreme trials. There are some clearly unhelpful beliefs:
·         The people are being punished for not believing in global warming.
·         The people are being punished for not believing in (fill in the blank).
·         This is proof that believing in God and conservative values gives you no protection.
·         Those people ought to have prepared better or chosen to live somewhere else.
Bad things happen. Records show that the rate of tornadoes of all categories has been consistent over the decades records have been kept. Oklahoma is an area where tornadoes happen. I can understand, after Katrina, saying, “Let’s not rebuild below sea level; there’s no way to prevent flooding there.” But to refuse to build or farm or travel across the vast part of the US subject to tornadoes is unreasonable. And areas that aren’t subject to tornadoes probably have something else: earthquakes, flooding, drought, hurricanes, blizzards, or something else. You can’t live in a place free from natural dangers.
Bob Gorrell cartoon
I think our response is what is important. Do we turn to God and trust Him to get us through whatever trial we face? Do we seek to help the injured, rather than ignore them or blame them? Our love of God and His children is a measure of our civilization; the more civilized, the more peace and comfort we will experience, even during the inevitable difficult times.
My sister-in-law, in Oklahoma, linked someone’s Facebook note I thought was worth repeating. This is written by OK resident Jennifer Winton Edmundson. I don’t know her, or any more about her (even whether my SIL personally knows her), but I thought this was worth sharing:
Dear Non-Oklahomans or at least those that do not live in our Tornado Alley.... If you do not live here, please do not tell us how we should be building our schools, doing rescue, how to rebuild or question why we live here. Criticism, if warranted, is just only from those directly affected.... You have no idea what it is like to be in a tornado.... You have no idea how massive an EF5 is... You probably do not know that in that size of storm, you have to be underground and that under our ground is a level of rock that needs dynamite to get through in many places... The people in Moore had 16 minutes. 16 minutes. I take longer showers. And in that time I cannot fathom how many people were saved by our local meteorologists, by teachers, by people paying attention and knowing what to do. Heroes. I mourn with those that lost so much—everything. I can’t imagine the crushing sorrow they are enduring. I rejoice with those saved. Those 101 that came out overnight....And I marvel at the selflessness and generous spirits of those with whom I share this state. These people—that is why I live here. What can you do for Oklahoma? Pray. Pray hard. God did not do this to us, but you can bet He will be here as we walk through it.... You can send money and supplies to local charities. But please, refrain from "you should have's"... It compounds the loss... Sincerely, Now an Okie....
**This now concludes my kind of rant....

I heard today that people of Joplin, MO, who were on the receiving end of help not that long ago, are gathering supplies and gearing up to help the people of Moore, OK. Because of the kind of people we’re seeing in OK, I expect they will not only rebuild; they will be sharing with others sooner than we could expect. May God help them!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Look for the Helpers

On Sunday afternoon, when we got home from church and started checking email and Facebook, we learned, after the fact, that Mr. Spherical Model’s brother and family, in Oklahoma, had spent the afternoon in their tornado shelter—their first time actually having to use it. There were four adults, one child, and a hamster in a shelter that says it fits eight—but they said they were pretty squished.

The tornado passed nearby but missed them Sunday, so we went “phew” and thought the danger was past. And then Monday came. We heard enough news to recognize the family was safe, but elsewhere in Oklahoma things were much much worse.
We found ourselves glued to the Weather Channel after dinner. One of the news people broke down while talking about the lost children at an elementary school, some of them drowned under the rubble. That was heartbreaking. Another school, a few blocks away, had all the children huddled in inner hallways (if you can’t get in an underground shelter, an inner windowless room is the place to go), and despite the devastation, all the children survived. You do what you can to improve your odds of survival, but there’s not much a mere human can do against 200-mph winds and buildings being ripped apart.
Plaza Towers Elementary, the morning after
from news source
Tornadoes of any size are scary enough. But this one was more than a mile wide, stayed on the ground for 45 minutes (rather than the usual quick touchdown), and decimated a swath 17 miles long. Nature wins this round.
We had what seems like a lot of shocking, emotional, and devastating news lately, some local, some national: West, Texas, explosion; mass stabbing at our nearby community college; the Boston Marathon bombing; the Newport, Connecticut, school mass murder. One of the quotes that started appearing was from the unlikely source of Mr. Rogers:
When I was a boy I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”—Fred Rogers
I found the image on Pinterest, linked to here
I knew those stories would come out. Some of what we’ve heard since Monday have been stories of heroic teachers, guarding and shielding children through the storm, and teachers hugging and carrying children out of the rubble. There was also the tireless efforts of first responders who worked through that first night. When I went to bed, the estimated death toll was 51, but by morning it had dropped to 24, including just 9 children. Some of the heartbroken were blessed with happy reunions. As homes and property were utterly lost, those who found their loved ones will feel blessed.
One happy woman, counting her blessings that she was alive, was telling newspeople her dog must be under the rubble, and then, on the air, she found her dog alive and got him out, and thanked God for granting both of her prayers—her own life, and her dog's.
One of the things we have learned by living along the Gulf Coast is that when disasters strike—and they strike all too frequently for our comfort—people reach out to help. They love to help. They consider it an opportunity and a privilege. I expect what we’ll see in the coming days is an outpouring of love and caring for the people of Oklahoma.
I’ve been noting a few resources where help can be offered:
Basketball star Kevin Durant, of the Oklahoma City Thunder, donated $1 Million to the Red Cross of Western and Central Oklahoma for his home town’s disaster relief. You can add to that donation here. The local station News 9, connecting with the Red Cross, suggests texting the word “food” to “32333” in order to make a $10 donation. (You can verify their site on Facebook: Oklahoma Tornadoes Recovery.)  If you’re local, you can drop off donations at the News 9 studios.
Mercury One, a Glenn Beck charity, set up a 2013 Midwest Tornado Relief, and already has supplies delivered to Moore. Beck says 100% of donations go directly to relief; any overhead costs get paid for from some other source. Donate here.
LDS Humanitarian Services is another place where 100% of donations will go directly to aid. They are already responding to needs in Oklahoma, and the Church will be providing volunteer labor as well (watch for the yellow Mormon Helping Hands T-shirts). (Note: your donation will go 100% to humanitarian aid, but will not be earmarked as to where, so Oklahoma’s needs will be met, and donations will also be spent around the world where there is need.] Donate here, indicating “LDS Charities (Humanitarian Services).”
Hugh Hewitt’s radio program has recommended and linked to Feed the Children Disaster Relief. Donate here.
May God pour out his blessings on those in need! And may we find the helpers to lift our spirits, and be the helpers where we can.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Running Out of Other People's Money

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money”—Margaret Thatcher

I was thinking about this quote a few days ago while conversing with a friend in Venezuela. Our friend Farida, from Uganda, who is working in Venezuela for another year or so, was in contact on Facebook. I asked her how she was doing, now that she had finished training in Houston and returned there. I was concerned because I’d read this article about shortages there, particularly toilet paper.
The article starts with this:
CARACAS, Venezuela - First milk, butter, coffee and cornmeal ran short. Now Venezuela is running out of the most basic of necessities — toilet paper.
Blaming political opponents for the shortfall, as it does for other shortages, the embattled socialist government says it will import 50 million rolls to boost supplies.
That was little comfort to consumers struggling to find toilet paper on Wednesday.
The conversation between government and economists is almost comical:
"State-controlled prices—prices that are set below market-clearing price—always result in shortages. The shortage problem will only get worse, as it did over the years in the Soviet Union," said Steve Hanke, professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University.
President Nicolas Maduro, who was selected by the dying Hugo Chavez to carry on his "Bolivarian revolution," claims that anti-government forces, including the private sector, are causing the shortages in an effort to destabilize the country.
The government has announced its intention to import 760,000 tons of food, plus 50 million rolls of toilet paper. Commerce Minister Alejandro Fleming said of this amount, "We are going to saturate the market so that our people calm down." I looked up population data, and Venezuela has a total population in 2011 of 27,635,743. We could round either up or down, but we can estimate how long 50 million rolls will last the population.
I’m an extravagant American living in plenty, who likes to be clean. I also happen to use the same bathroom most of the time, so I will do for estimating. With help of Mr. Spherical Model, we go through a roll in about two days. Let’s stretch that out, to double, for people who are trying harder to make things last. Let’s say, generously, that a person can make a roll last for a week. That means that, after a couple of weeks of ordering in 50 million rolls (assuming faster shipping and disbursement than is normal in Venezuela), the country must already have ordered another 50 million, because those are going to be gone before another order can arrive.
So I asked Farida whether she was experiencing these problems. Yes, indeed. She had been living in a hotel before her training in Houston, and now is setting up in her own little house. So she now needs products she didn’t worry about in the hotel. And no toilet paper is available. We discussed options. Amazon doesn’t ship there. Stores are empty. After two weeks of looking, she finally got some TP from “some Chinese guys.” She says, “Fortunately I always have baby wipes somewhere.” But for how long? I told her that my mother, as a young girl on a farm, used to use catalogs and other paper that was going to be thrown out anyway. She laughed, but she may be considering this.
She said, “It’s a roller coaster ride in this country. I feel like I’m doing my time…. The mentalities are worse than the struggles…. If I told you what I have had to go through in this country, you’d be shocked. There is nothing more hard to survive than a fixed state of mind. I haven’t told my family because they would be in a state of panic.”
Mr. Spherical Model has a new boss, who recently transferred from Venezuela. He lived there for some years with his family. Getting the family moved out has taken longer than planned—everything does. (This is the second boss over the years transferring out of Venezuela.) He confirmed the hardships. He met Farida briefly before leaving, and added that where she is located, near the oil fields, is really in the middle of nowhere, so it’s even harder to get needed goods.
Farida avoids bread anyway, but one of the success claims of Venezuela has been that it always provides bread to its people. It’s a kind of white “pita” called arepa, that is cut in half and then filled as a sort of sandwich. It hasn’t exactly caught on worldwide, but the people there are used to it. Except now they can’t even get their entitlement share of arepas.
Venezuelan bread, arepas, stock photo
I did the math on the food being imported by government as well. According to the US Dept. of Agriculture, the average American eats this much:
The US Dept. Of Agriculture estimates that the average person in the United States eats .5 lbs of meat, 1.6 lbs of dairy products, .2 lbs of fats and oils, .8 lbs of fruits, .7 lbs. Of vegetables, .5 lbs of grains, and .4 lbs of sugars per day for a total of 4.7 lbs. of food per day.
Let’s say that people in Venezuela are smaller, or used to less, and get by on 3 pounds of food a day. If I did the math right, the special shipment of 760,000 tons of food will last all of 18 days. By the time they can order more, again, the shipment (if it ever reaches the people) will have run out. In the US, if there’s a shortage, someone in the marketplace opens up a factory, or farm, or supply line, to sell to the waiting buyers. Seems more sensible.
Venezuela hasn’t always been this way. It may never have been as thriving as what we’re used to, but it has abundant natural resources, natural beauty, a good climate. It should be possible for people to thrive there. Socialism, among the population (exempting the elite rulers) has been a leveler. It has taken from producers, to make sure they had no more than non-producers. It has prevented innovation and success, removing incentive to produce. And it has created the mindset that government provides, so everyone will be dependent.
It is an exemplary socialist state: rulers create needs and provide just enough subsistence to maintain power over a helpless but not quite desperate people. If the goal is to provide power to a limited number of power mongers, it has met the goal. If it is, as stated, to build a utopian, perfect, productive equality society—it fails, as they all must.
The reason to bring up Venezuela, and other socialist tyrannies, is as a warning. We have power mongers, using socialist dogma and patterns, in order to remove power from us—We the people—in our Constitutional republic. We know what will happen if they are allowed to take us down that road—economic and social failure.
On the Spherical Model, only tyranny, economic deprivation, and savagery are possible when people are held down in the southern hemisphere. That is the only outcome possible. The only antidote is living the principles of freedom, free enterprise, and civilization. May we find the courage and character within ourselves to move back upward!

Friday, May 17, 2013

You Might Be Living Under Tyranny If... Part II

In Wednesday’s post we covered three scandals in the news right now revealing the tyrants running our federal government. I hadn’t planned on a part II, but there is some follow-up information on these scandals, as well as a couple of additional issues exemplifying the tyrannist attitude.

Romeike Family Update
You might be living under tyranny if the administration makes arbitrary decisions about who can be allowed to enter the country, regardless of the law or natural rights.
We talked about the Romeike family from Germany (recently on March 22 and earlier in October 2011), here in the US legally since 2008, based on seeking asylum when their native Germany severely fined and threatened the parents with jail time and loss of custody of their children. In 2010 a US circuit judge granted their asylum, along with a strong statement about parents having a right to make decisions like education and religion for their own children. Out of the blue (no apparent request from Germany), the DOJ insists on overturning the ruling and kicking this law-abiding family out of the country. Why? To declare to the American people and the world that there is no inherent right to parent your own children; government reserves the “right” to impose its decisions on parents and their children.
This should be an easy win for the family, as it had been the first time. But this week the ruling came out against the Romeikes; they lose their right to be in the US, because the judicial system has decided the threat of losing their right to parent and maintain custody of their children is not sufficient to gain asylum. To paraphrase, "We can’t go willy-nilly granting asylum to people just because they could lose their family and their freedom from imprisonment; bad stuff happens all over. We don’t want to encourage people to come here for freedom, or we’d get some kind of unmanageable influx."
Meanwhile, if someone comes here illegally, because economic conditions are inferior where they come from (or not), even if they commit a crime, the DOJ feels so strongly that they should be allowed to stay that it sues states (Arizona, for example) for any effort to protect its own borders.
The road hasn’t ended quite yet for the Romeikes. There are still a couple of levels of appeal. And then, if all continues to go against them, I hope they will be allowed to find another less tyrannical country that will accept them, rather than be turned over to the oppression facing them in Germany. 

Sibelius Obamacare Overreach
You might be living under tyranny if the government tries to control your health care decisions. The IRS, already proven untrustworthy, is put in charge of health care financing. (Note: a single judge decided the government had the right to force Americans to buy health insurance if you called it a tax, even though the monstrous bill passed by the slimmest of margins, following various shenanigans, only because of the insistence it was not a tax.) If things weren’t bad enough, the IRS happened to seize some 60 million personal health records.
Further, you’ve got the head of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sibelius, pressuring health care industry providers, over which she has oversight, to do her bidding to recruit participation in Obamacare. This does not convince anyone of the intention to provide more and better health care at lower, fairer prices. Prices might actually be 100%-400% higher than predicted.  

Targeting for Political Reasons
You already know you’re living under tyranny when you’re a target for being a patriot. Targeting of organizations because of their pro-Constitution (and therefore presumably anti-regime) beliefs, is bigger than the IRS policy of tagging organizations applying for 501(c)4 status. Individuals have been targeted for IRS audit as well. And corporations have also been targeted—being forced to publicly announce any of their political or issue-related donations. The purpose here is the chilling of First Amendment freedom to express ideas.

I wanted to point out that 501(c)4 status implies that there will be political and issue advocacy purposes, including lobbying related to the organization’s mission. Donations to such an organization are not tax deductible. The advantage is only to the organization; it has a cultural, social, or educational benefit and purpose rather than making a profit, and therefore it does not have to pay taxes on money going through the organization. This is the kind of organization Obama spent his career years creating. So he knows what they can accomplish—and that is why he wants to ensure that those he considers ideological enemies are prevented from succeeding in their missions.
screen shot from Glenn Beck's 5-15-2013 show
Glenn Beck sought input to name the combination of scandals. His news people will start saying “Intimigate,” but for his purposes, he is changing the spelling to “IntimOgate,” with the O being the Obama logo. 

Implausible Deniability
You might be living under tyranny if your tyrant combines a claim of leadership skill with a claim of unawareness of the behaviors of rogue underlings. Why would the underlings so frequently behave in tyrannical ways, if the tyrant’s leadership didn’t create the spoken or unspoken understanding that oppression against the enemy is acceptable, even expected—as long as you don’t get caught?
Thursday the president held a brief and pointless press conference, repeating that he knew nothing about the IRS problem. Actually, what he specifically said was, “I can assure you that I certainly did not know anything about the [inspector general] report.” He didn’t say he didn’t know about the policy or practice of targeting political enemies. He specifically denies knowing only the findings in the report. And his swift action to hold people accountable? Accept the resignation of the acting IRS Commissioner, who was stepping down in June anyway. Take that, IRS! That is what the wrath of an outraged president feels like, when he’s out to protect our freedoms.
Oh, and in case you didn’t know, that division that targeted Tea Party groups the last couple of years? Their leader was promoted to run the Obamacare office of the IRS—because Obama was so outraged. Yeah, that’s it.
He didn’t know what happened in Benghazi. And his Secretary of State was out of touch as well, both of them unaware it wasn’t a spontaneous response to an internet video, even though all the rest of us knew it was a terrorist attack.
His DOJ head didn’t know about the AP phone record overreach either. (And of course can’t be blamed for the collection of data related to phonecalls from the AP that just happened to connect to the legislative branch.) He knew it was in response to one of the most crucial leaks of classified information in our lifetimes, a clear danger to the American people, and therefore worth getting the legal permissions for the invasive move. But it wasn’t important enough to mention such a threat to the president, who remained unaware entirely until he heard about it on the news. Nor did Attorney General Eric Holder remember any details, because he recused himself from the case early on, for reasons that he couldn’t recall.
Did we mention that this administration, in five years, has prosecuted more whistleblowers (for leaking classified information that endangers the country?) than all of the previous presidencies combined? It’s an everyday event for the DOJ, but the AG wouldn’t know about that.
If any more scandals pop up in the coming days, be assured the president will hear about it on the news, just like the rest of us. Comedian/commentator Jon Stewart put together a collection of the president’s new favorite buck-stops-somewhere-else explanation about knowing nothing before the news reports. It’s a 5-minute clip; the part about the president getting his briefings by the news starts at about 2:40 in:


This much scandal is upsetting. But it also could be a good thing. We’re hearing about the news. In such a flood that it’s hard to take in, but at least these things are being reported. And, because of the AP scandal, some news sources might actually begin to make assumptions other than, “those are just right-wing conspiracies,” and think, “maybe the president hasn’t been entirely truthful up till now.”
All along it has been my hope we could have clarity. Let truth prevail, and not deception. I still believe people who know the truth choose freedom and civilization, rather than tyranny and savagery.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

You Might Be Living Under Tyranny If...

Comedian Jeff Foxworthy makes lists, mostly about being a redneck, but sometimes also about the culture and inside jokes about various locations. I thought we’d do a similar list (less funny) today, about living under tyranny. Because this has been quite a week for news.

We’ll take them individually.

You might be living under tyranny if your government scours the internet to find an American citizen to serve as scapegoat, to cover up its relationship with Islamist terrorists. We covered this in more detail Monday, specifically about that search for a scapegoat and the continued lying about it—with the hint that the purpose must be to cover up something much worse, which we don’t know about yet. I did link speculation by Glenn Beck from last October. Here’s a second, shorter clip (5th one down in this collection) from that same week in October 2012. In addition, Geraldo Rivera let slip that his sources currently corroborate what Beck has been saying (to the sound of crickets) for half a year.
I don’t know what Benghazi was really about. I do know that the tyrannists we are currently subject to went to great lengths to lie about what they were doing, about what happened, and why. They use obfuscation, repeated lies, and eventually claim, “That happened so long ago; what difference does it make now?”—a pattern we can count on. And there’s not much from these tyrants that one can count on. 

IRS Thuggery
You might be living under tyranny if the most powerful collection agency in the world creates an enemies list—and if you love your country, you’re on it.
I’ve been aware of the IRS enemies list for some time. I couldn’t locate the date in my notes, but it seems like within the last year that King Street Patriots let us know, at one of the Monday meetings, what was happening to them, which sounds very much like other stories this week. (King Street Patriots was mentioned on Rush Limbaugh’s Tuesday show; they’re definitely on this list of targets.) The amount of information required by the IRS was impossible to obtain, and ridiculously short-time-limited. They were getting the help of lawyers to help with the effort, in addition to the various other lawsuits they suffer pretty continually.
King Street and other groups were given impossible requirements, including having to provide copies of every email, text, tweet, or post given out or received, since inception of the organization; list of speakers, detailed subjects (including transcripts of what was spoken  in some cases, as if anyone hoping to become qualified for tax exempt status already has transcribing technology at the ready), and lists of participants, and in some cases the affiliations of family members of participants. It was horrendously intrusive, impossible to provide, and intended (I believe, as do many others) to intimidate and extinguish voices at odds with this administration.
What we know is that high level officials in the IRS, which is the collection arm of the executive branch (the Obama administration), sent the directive to flag for extra scrutiny any organization applying for tax exempt status if they had certain characteristics: the words tea party, patriot, or had as a purpose educating about the Constitution, or showing disagreement with the current government. Hmmm.
And that is not all. Oh, no, that is not all. Besides harassment based on patriotism and good citizenship, the IRS also provided the application materials—private documents—to enemy organizations.
The president is shocked, SHOCKED! After leadership in his executive branch has come out and apologized (claiming it was rogue underlings, which they’ve since had to walk back), so the actual deed is known and admitted to, the president says, if the allegations turn out to be true, that would be outrageous. But let’s be cautious and not assume they’re true just because the executive branch has already come out and said so (possibly to do damage control for what would be worse revelations if they waited?)
And Jim Carney, his spokesperson, also claimed the president was unaware and therefore guilt-free. But he was certain, if it turns out to be true, the president will be appropriately outraged. So the president, while cautiously not outraged yet, is preparing to be so if the need arises. And then appropriate action will be taken. Rest assured. (For some reason, I’m not resting well on that assurance.)
If you think targeting political enemies is unconscionable, if might not be comforting to learn your political enemies have a totally different moral take on it: Former NAACP chair, for example.

Media Control
You might be living under tyranny if the government has an unusual number of incestuous relationships with members of the media, but feels the need to place secret wiretaps on wide swaths of major media organizations, in case something is said they don’t like.

These relationships were pointed out as reasons the mediahas hesitated to cover Benghazi:
·         CNN president is married to Hillary Clinton’s deputy secretary.
·         CBS president is the brother of Obama adviser on Benghazi.
·         ABC president is the brother of a top Obama adviser/speech writer.
·         Senior ABC correspondent Claire Shipman is married to WH Press Secretary Jay Carney. (She also happens to substitute anchor on Good Morning America and World News Tonight, and shows up on ABC News’ This Week with Christiane Amanpour, and previous worked as a White House correspondent for NBC News.)
But the administration didn’t think it had enough control, so it claimed, supposedly, that in order to find a leak of some possibly classified information (you know, like the New York Times used to print regularly to endanger our troops during the Bush administration), they needed all correspondence for two months of some 20 AP reporters and editors, not just anyone related to actually leaked material, and not just office phones, but private cell phones, emails, texts—you know, just in case.
Carl Bernstein, who helped take down Nixon, wasn’t moved by Benghazi, or the IRS scandal. But this! This is outrageous!
National Journal’s Ron Fournier, once the AP Washington bureau chief, finally sees the situation with clarity, not that it has hit home:
One common thing with Benghazi and the IRS scandal, is were being misled every day. We were lied to on Benghazi, on the talking points behind Benghazi, for months. We were lied to by the IRS for months. And now they’re sending a clear message to our sources: Don’t embarrass the administration, or we’re coming after you. 

The president’s response is, “Don’t ask me; that’s up to the Department of Justice” (which is particularly ill-named right now).  

The list isn’t complete. Scandals are coming fast and furious (yes, pun intended). The question is, now that we know we’re living under tyranny, is recognition the first step toward changing course? Will the tyrants be held accountable? We’ll see. 

I came across this list of 100 reasons the president could be impeached. I haven’t been through them all, but you might want to take a look for yourself anyway. Personally, I don’t see impeachment as a likely outcome.  

I’m thinking of The Princess Bride, near the end, where Westley decides to leave Prince Humperdinck intact but alone his cowardice (instead of wallowing in freakish misery as previously threatened). Self-disgust with no more power over the people—that would be a just end to the long list of injustices perpetrated against a Constitutionally free people.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Lies and Videotape

I was hopeful that the Benghazi hearings last Wednesday would yield so much enlightenment that the media would say, “Oh, now I see what you’ve been saying; this is really wrong.” I am overly optimistic that way. The media who filled the Pravda role all along checked for marching orders this time as well. And the new line seems to be, “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” Or, in plain English, “Sure, it shows some mistakes were made, maybe some incompetence, but there’s no real scandal here.”

I don’t know what could rise to the level of scandal in their parallel world. For me a few new details have brought up enough new questions for further investigation.
I want to back up first, to Egypt and the protest there.
On September 10, 2012, there was a report in Egyptian media that there would be a protest about the imprisonment of the Blind Sheik, who had perpetrated the first World Trade Center bombing. It was organized and planned, and unrelated to any obscure video.
Promptly following the planned protest in Cairo on September 11, the administration came out with an apology for a specific video that, between its online posting on July 2nd and September 10th (time to build up enough indignation to bring about a protest) had only received 17 views. [The link I used for this detail in October 2012 no longer exists.]
Even though the protest wasn’t related to this video, the administration was aware of it and ready with an apology, and a promise to prosecute the perpetrator (who sits in jail still, technically on unrelated “parole violation” charges). And then the administration used this video again as the explanation for the terrorist attack on the Benghazi embassy.
This isn’t an error. We now know that the description of events was scrubbed of any mention of terrorism or Al-Qaeda connection. Also deleted was any mention of prior requests for increased security over several months, even predating Ambassador Stevens’ replacing the previous ambassador to Libya, including specific requests in the couple of days leading up to the attack.
There was live real-time contact and surveillance informing the state department of what was happening in Benghazi. It was known immediately that it was a planned, heavily armed, terrorist attack. Never did anyone at the scene, or observing it, or aware of it, suppose it was a spontaneous protest that suddenly arose from people on the street for any reason.
Yet, out of thin air the administration decries this anti-Muslim video, with promises to prosecute the perpetrator, who, by inciting the protest, is culpable for the mayhem, including the deaths of four Americans.
During the attack, nearby military was ready to take off to mount a rescue. The battle continued for 6-8 hours; help arriving any time during that span could have saved lives, even though it is likely Ambassador Stevens was beyond rescue. Twice the rescuers were told to stand down. This order came from someone, but we haven’t been able to follow the line of authority to a decision-maker yet.
How did the administration become aware of this obscure video, when so few viewers had seen it online that apparently even most of the actors in it hadn’t bothered to view it? And why did the administration claim a protest planned and carried out for a previously known purpose was a spontaneous reaction to this video? And then why did they claim that a terrorist attack on our embassy was a spontaneous reaction to an unseen video?
Compared to the siege, the heroes who were killed, and so many details of the Benghazi story, the video seems a small peripheral detail. But if we understood the use of this video, we would understand this administration and its nefarious purposes.
Someone was assigned the task of finding an anti-Muslim video that could be used as a scapegoat at an opportune moment. At some point, well ahead of time, there must have been a planning session, an assignment made, and an employee (or more) set to the task of searching out such a thing to be used if/when the need should arise. (How many of the 17 views were administration minions carrying out their search?)
One would assume that situation room planners, holding the information that security needed beefing up in Libya, and was particularly dangerous in Benghazi, with specific information about a possible attack 2-3 days in advance, with the significant date of the anniversary of the 9/11 attack coming up, that someone would plan for various scenarios—including an attack on various embassy locations. I have no satisfactory explanation for why security was not beefed up, per repeated requests.
Since danger was known, one would assume that situation room planners would include protocol for reacting to an embassy attack, and on such a date have forces ready to react. But no such response protocols seem to have been in place; if they were, they were not followed.
Why is it acceptable with the administration to appear so incompetent that they hadn’t even considered the possibility that there would be an attack on or near 9/11 in a place that was requesting more security and giving warnings of a possible attack?  One could assume that the truth is worse than looking incompetent.
We don’t have a clear answer as to why the ambassador went into the extra dangerous Benghazi location on the vulnerable date. What was he attempting to accomplish that was worth such a risk? (Speculation here, from late October 2012 by Glenn Beck.)  I don’t know if we’ll get these questions answered, and more.
But the questions about the administration’s use of the videotape relate to just how deep into tyranny we already are. Spending war room planning time coming up with ways to blame American citizens—in ways that implicate the natural rights guaranteed us by God, and spelled out in the basic law of our land—is not the behavior of a freedom government. Only a tyranny would act this way. Getting the truth about the finding and using of this videotape would uncover the tyrannical power usurpation being carried out in darkness.

Friday, May 10, 2013

More on the Ultimate Career

There are a couple of myths, contrary to each other, that both need a reality check:
·         Women are as smart and capable as men, and therefore should do the jobs men do in order to fulfill themselves; taking time out to be a mother can be a nice hobby for some, if they can handle that as well, but the real living is in the traditional man’s world.

·         Women who are only mothering ought to be doing better than they are, like everyone else does, because it sure isn’t rocket science.
We’ll take them in turn. First, women are smart and capable. In fact, a higher percentage of women currently graduate from college than men. While there are a few jobs women aren’t as a rule physically strong enough to compete in (pro football for example), most jobs can be done by a woman. Some jobs are preferred by women, but practically everything is open.
The part that is untrue is that doing a man’s job is a better life choice than giving birth and raising children, which just gets in the way of that real life. Having children isn’t a hobby for some; it is the purpose of the rest—the ultimate career. (See the two quotes at the end of Monday’s post, Home Making.)
My friend's baby #9, with big sister looking on,
the hour he got home at 2 days old
I’ve been noticing in media for quite a long time that almost every TV character is a single, attractive, young adult with the story potential of connecting in love with possible other characters on the show. Married family people are anomalies. (As are unattractive, undesirable characters, for the most part.)
When a person in media is a parent, it appears they got that way without sacrifice. Example: remember The Cosby Show back in the 80s? Cliff and Clair Huxtable reminisce about high school dates, so they have known each other since childhood; presumably they got married during college, or between college and graduate school. She is a lawyer, which required no less than seven years of schooling post high school. He is an obstetrician, which must have taken about twelve years for college, med school, and residency training in the specialty.
They are still youngish parents in this show. The oldest child is in college, so probably 19 or so years old. There are five children, spread over, I’m guessing, some 17 years or so of childbearing. Clair looks to be maybe 40, but we could stretch that to maybe 43. (In fact Felicia Rashad was only 10 years older than the actress who played the oldest daughter.) So Clair got pregnant probably during her first year of law school, at age 23. I’m not sure of the other ages, but she probably gave birth again her first year after law school, as a working lawyer, at maybe 26. Then again at 28, and again at maybe 32. And then there’s a gap of, let’s say eight years, so she’s 40. (I really don’t remember the ages of the children, so I’m guessing, but this will do for our purposes.) The first three come while she’s either in law school or early in her career as a lawyer—while her husband is in med school and essentially unavailable to help with the diaper changing and walking the floor at nights.
We don’t see them until they’re upper-middle-class successful. They are one of my favorite TV families; the kids are realistically age appropriate, and the parents handle their immaturity with patience, eye rolling, and humor. They’re a great example. But we never got to see how this family survived pregnancies and babies with neither parent available for in-person parenting. Was it impossible? Technically no. But very improbable.
If we, as non-fictional humans, are unable to get through law school and med school simultaneously while giving birth to child after child, so that we look lovely and comfortable by our early 40s, maybe we should shrug off the comparison. Just doing the best we can, under whatever our circumstances, ought to be enough.
Which brings us to the second myth. Taking care of children at home is a challenging job. It requires so much patience and understanding, and toleration of messiness of many kinds. It does look like drudgery sometimes; sometimes it is. And it does look idyllically easy sometimes; sometimes (though rarely) it is. But there are challenging moments every day. And if we’re open to notice, there are also some blessedly beautiful moments every day. But one thing there isn’t is a perfect version out there, of someone whose house is always clean and beautiful, with d├ęcor and food and party planning always worthy of Pinterest and mommy blogs—some impossible myth we don’t measure up to.
We need to trust that, if God is entrusting his beloved children to us, He wants us to succeed in loving them, and with His help we can do whatever qualifies as enough and then some. Let go of the angst; it’s not helping anyone.
To end, I’m sharing a link to a piece about accepting less than perfection; I love their not-ready-for-the-blog photos.

And then, please enjoy this rather beautiful little video called, “Life Doesn’t Come with a Manual; It Comes with a Mother.”

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Good Part

Motherhood is one of the key ingredients in civilization, so I’m spending another day on it prior to Mother’s Day.

I came across something yesterday about the sometimes painful time Mother’s Day is to some women. I’m linking it, because it’s worth reading. Early on I experienced some of the angst. I had lost a child (I told this story here). Then I went through some of the challenges of fertility treatments—not as long and difficult a journey as for some, but Mother’s Day was awkward a few times.  My mother had similar years. She also lost a child. Then she went through a long series of miscarriages—and during those years, women came to her accusing her of being selfishly unwilling to have a child. I have a hard time imagining such conversations between women, but that is how she remembers the pain.
Fortunately, in our church, when it’s time for mothers to stand and receive their flower gift on Mother’s Day, all women age 18 and up are asked to stand and receive the gift. The thinking is, all women are either currently mothers, or future mothers, or have been mothers, or do some mothering to those around them, or, at the very least will experience the gift of motherhood in the next life. So no one is allowed to be left out. I don’t know if that entirely does away with all pain and awkwardness, but it is an attempt to love and honor.
The author, Amy Young of The Messy Middle blog, has a portion where she suggests ways to respond to various women’s situations, which is quite lovely. One of the lines made me smile: “To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year—we grieve and rejoice with you.”
Now, for what I want to share today:
Many years ago, for a Mother’s Day, I wrote a poem comparing the scripture story about sisters Mary and Martha with the need, as a mother, to give time and not just dutiful service. It’s a challenge mothers continue to face in the effort to make a civilized home. May God bless all women in their moment-by-moment efforts to make the most joyful choices!
The scriptures I refer to in the poem can be found in Luke 10: 40-42 and Matthew 25: 35-40. I use the classically beautiful King James Version of the Bible. 
Minerva Teichert painting of Mary and Martha with Jesus

The Good Part 

Sweet, young, faithful Mary,
Attending undivided to her most Beloved guest;
Thinking of the moment as a present
To be unwrapped with wonderment. 

And Martha, good and sturdy Martha,
Cumbered about much serving
While the others carry on without her.
She aches to sit with them,
Yet works to give a worthy table. 

The aching must have pained a bit too much:
If Mary would please help a moment,
To hurry the everyday along,
Then both could sit with their dear guest. 

“Martha, Martha, thou art careful
And troubled about many things:
But one thing is needful:
And Mary hath chosen that good part,
Which shall not be taken away from her.” 

One needful thing:
That Martha had not chosen.
She could not spend time for Him,
Or time with Him would be lost. 

In my own small, learning home,
I am cumbered about much serving—
Washing and peeling and cooking, too,
For many of the least and most
Of these my brethren, children, husband. 

They get so hungry and dirty.
Yet, how unaware is the little child
Of his clean shirt and slow-cooked supper.
Rather a sandwich and a story for dessert. 

I am the needful thing!
Myself a gift to one of these—
The same as sitting at His feet.
And if I choose that good part,
Time with my Beloved guest shall not be lost. 

—Linda Nuttall
     May 8, 1984