Category: politics

Glenn Beck- 9/12 Project

Before reading this post- if you get annoyed at political discussion stop reading now.  This is just my opinion.  I simply found something that motivated me to be a better person, and I wanted to share it with all of you.  Take it or leave it!

Everyone knows I love politics.  I enjoy hearing different opinions and arguments on all sides.  I have always liked the passion behind a good debate.  I am not sure why- just have.  If the opportunity presents itself I would love to someday be a public servant in some small way.  This would not be for my personal glory but to serve my country and support the values I believe in.   Why does the idea of public service seem to be lost on our society?  The early founders were practically forced into service and now the career path of a politician often feels like the journey of a Hollywood celebrity.

I think both parties are equally guilty of this game, which is why neither seems to care what public opinion currently thinks.  For instance, nobody cares that the public has resoundingly opposed the stimulus package- from November on this has consistently been the case.  A recent poll said the support for the package was below 37%.  Another sign of discontent is that President Obama’s poll numbers have fallen dramatically in the first 100 days and they are now below President Bush’s at the same time in his presidency.  Despite such disapproval nobody in Washington is listening.  In fact, many of the politicians seem to think the  American public is not educated enough to understand such tough economic conditions.  If that is the case than your job as politicians is to educate us!

The problem is  many in Washington not only think we are too stupid to understand what they are doing to our economy, but they think we do not care. In my last entry on the stimulus package I posted a video with Senator Charles Shumer.  In it he calls the American people “the chattering masses” and says “the American people don’t care”.   I found this statement shocking in its candor and disgusting in its implications.  And remember this is not some no-name senator.  It is the 3rd ranking democrat in the senate.  My fear is that he was stupid enough to say what all the Senators and Congressional Representatives feel. They think we don’t care.

What if they are right?  There are certainly a lot of people who don’t care enough to vote.  The ones that do, rarely take the time to be informed on issues- even though such efforts only take a minute or two.  It has always boggled my mind!  Do they not understand issues like the stimulus bill effect our lives?  They effect ALL of our jobs, investments, property, families and certainly our education.

I am not saying that everyone has to agree with me but CARE! If anything was gained by the election of President Obama it proved that American’s could get excited about a candidate and politics.  For several months people watched debates instead of sitcoms and commented on interesting issues.  Although I did not vote for President Obama, I felt the excitement of a candidate of change.  Now I wonder- what has he changed?  Not much.  What promises has he kept? Not many. To name one failed promise, he swore time and again on the trail to stop earmarks in bills. Now the spending bill he signed has over 9,000 of them! 9,000! With the President’s current popularity I do not buy his excuse of needing to sign an “imperfect bill”.  He had the political capital to at least reduce the earmarks and he failed to do so.  I will also add that 40% of these earmarks came from Republicans, so they are equally guilty in ignoring what America wants.  In fact, the Republicans are trying to make the Democrats seem like the bad guys while still sneaking in whatever spending of their own they can get in.

I am not writing this to bash President Obama or any other politician.  I have hope for them all.  Perhaps foolishly, I believe most of them are good men and woman with the right intentions; however, many have forgotten who they work for, and what we as Americans stand for.  They have gotten so caught up in money- that it has become a type of panacea for every wound.  Just throw more money at a problem and it will all be made better! Selfishness, greed and a loss of vision is leading us into debts both morally and financially.  In a sea of money and political correctness, these politicians seem to have forgotten the fundamental values  of honor, freedom, integrity, faith, justice and hard work that our government is there to support.

To be honest,  this spending bill was making me depressed.  I felt like no one was listening to me and millions of other Americans who find it crazy and irresponsible. Even the socialist nations of France and Germany are refusing to go along with the big spending!  Now China has expressed worry that the $1 trillion in US treasury bonds they own is a bad investment. The Chinese, the French, the Germans, the majority of Americans all seem to think this is a bad idea! Why doesn’t anyone care?

Well, I found someone who does.  I am not usually a talk radio/ tv news person.  I love NPR and feel I am an Independent on most issues.  However, I happened to catch the latest Glenn Beck Show on Fox News, and was very inspired with what I saw.  I have heard Beck speak and been impressed in the past but this was something special.  In the program he talks about his feelings after 9/11 (thus calling it the 9/12 project) and then contrasts with his current feelings.  He talks about how no one is listening and how nobody in either party can be trusted.  He asks every American who still believes in this country to send in their photos- he gets millions.  He interviews Iraq veterans, 9/11 victim families and gives 9 principles and 12 values that exemplify the American spirit.  I agree with every one of his 9 principles and 12 values.  If I worked for a year to summarize my own values and principles in regards to this country they would end up the same as Beck’s.  I love that he isn’t afraid to declare his belief in God, family, and America!

He actually gets emotional at several points, and I found the whole thing very moving.  He tells us to remember how we felt on 9/12, and how we just knew what to do, and how we could help.  Those feelings came out of our core beliefs and values.  It is these values that will save America- not spending more on lavish programs or shopping to boost consumer confidence.  Real confidence comes from an understanding of why we matter- why each of us matters to this country and to God. I can’t recommend the program highly enough.  During the broadcast there were crowds all over the country watching and cheering. I wanted to cheer too! Put it on your DVR this weekend or watch it online if you can.   It’s not just a political rant.  It’s a reminder of what is good about America, and I felt validated by it.

Beck is a member of my church, so perhaps he presents his program  in a way I understand.  However, this basic message of integrity, service, friendship and courage is one any American can relate too. I promise it is not a partisan attack. Check it out!

The Nine Principles

1. America is good.

2. I believe in God and He is the Center of my Life.

3. I must always try to be a more honest person than I was yesterday.

12 Values

  • Honesty
  • Reverence
  • Hope
  • Thrift
  • Humility
  • Charity
  • Sincerity
  • Moderation
  • Hard Work
  • Courage
  • Personal Responsibility
  • Gratitude

4. The family is sacred. My spouse and I are the ultimate authority, not the government.

5. If you break the law you pay the penalty. Justice is blind and no one is above it.

6. I have a right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, but there is no guarantee of equal results.

7. I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable.

8. It is not un-American for me to disagree with authority or to share my personal opinion.

9. The government works for me. I do not answer to them, they answer to me.

Advertisements

Why I think the stimulus package is a bad idea

Ok so I normally don’t get into politics in this blog, but I can’t go on without stating my peace about this stimulus package.  This is just my opinion, so take it for what it is worth.  (You’all know I love politics- so it can’t come as much of a surprise!).

Recently President Obama has put forth a $800 billion stimulus package and that’s only a small portion of his $3.5 trillion budget.  Even left-to-center media outlets such as the Los Angeles Times has called Obama’s plan and resulting projections “optimistic, even quixotic”.  I agree.  Do you know this package, inflation aside, is the “largest single spending bill in human history”?

Personally I have always been a believer in low to no debt- purchasing only what I need first and then what I want second.  Call me old fashioned but I have lived to 28, gotten myself educated (earned my MBA last year), rent a nice apartment, and live a nice life without scraping up an ounce of debt- not for a car, credit card, nothing.   Yes, I have been given some advantages to help me stay out of debt; however, there were certainly moments when I could have gotten credit card and other types of debt if I had let my guard down. For example, I went to an affordable graduate program,  and I have always driven cheap cars. The truth is I”m not even that thrifty but on the other hand I have never allowed my spending to get out of control- to build into debt.  If I can do it than the federal government can. It just has to be a priority and there has to be sacrifices.

Clearly I understand that debt is a necessary tool for our economy and that balancing the budget at this point with two expensive wars and other problems is an impossibility.  However, that does not mean that we need to add to the debt by billions and trillions of dollars. Such a spending spree would be like me maxing out on my credit card when I am low on funds just to boost my confidence.   Everyone would think I was crazy.  Millions of people like myself feel the same way about the stimulus plan- a giant spending spree when we need to cutback! Why do you think Wall Street has failed to respond to the supposed promise of the stimulus package? It’s because economists know or  at least are uncertain of the possible side effects of  the plan’s high price tag.

Some will counter my argument by saying that the spending will increase consumer confidence, build public works and provide new jobs.  I am not convinced we need to spend this much- if the concept is true to begin with.  Obama’s stimulus package is often compared to 1940’s legislation such as the GI bill, which paid millions to educate our troops.  Such legislation shows a clear investment benefit that I do not see from the stimulus package- nor do I believe such an investment would cost trillions of dollars.  To me it feels like anything whether it is of value or not is being tagged as something that will stimulate the economy.  It’s like a giant stimulus parade that keeps growing and growing- right along with our debt. Take a look at this interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about this over-spending.  In it the author argues that such reckless spending actually hurts our economy and will force us into “a longer period of recession”:

“But after five weeks in office, it’s become clear that Mr. Obama’s policies are slowing, if not stopping, what would otherwise be the normal process of economic recovery. From punishing business to squandering scarce national public resources, Team Obama is creating more uncertainty and less confidence — and thus a longer period of recession or subpar growth.”

Others will argue that the New Deal of  the 30’s and 40’s was an example of government stimulated growth.  I used to think this to but in recent reading I have done there appears to be much debate on this topic.   Economist’s Christina and David Romer (who incidentally actually work for Obama on his Council of Economic Advisers) said “a simple calculation indicated that nearly all of the observed recovery of the US economy prior to 1942 was due to monetary expansion.  Huge gold inflows in the mid- and late- 1930’s  swelled the US money stock and appear to have stimulated the economy by lowering real interest rates and encouraging investment spending and purchases of durable goods.”

Isn’t that interesting?  My whole life I have been taught that the Roosevelt spending and the war got us out of the Great Depression.  (Despite my mother arguing the opposite!) In fact, the National Bureau of Economic Research did a a study on the effect of the economy from military spending during World War II.  They found that “military spending had virtually no effect”.  Even if you do not accept such an argument, the stimulus presented in the 30’s and 40’s paled to what is being offered now- and my fear is that we’ve only just begun.

I do think that some of the New Deal programs had a positive economic impact merely for the motivation it gave  melancholy unemployed workers.  Massive groups of unhappy citizens are bad for democracy and create shaky policy, even revolutions; therefore, some government spending in this regard is appropriate- just not trillions of dollars.

There are clearly items such as stabilizing the credit market that need to be addressed- but wasn’t that what the $700 billion was for that we already spent? $700 billion we did not have?  Now we are adding to it!  To me it is outrageous.  Do you all realize that with just this $700 billion you could give every American $3500 to spend how they wish?  Doesn’t that put it in perspective!

Again, I recognize the need for some intervention and spending but I just think the stimulus plan and the budget are out of control. The fact is that before this our government was already in debt to China and other countries.  Now we could end up as a pawn in their international games.  I want a fiscally independent America.  One that can look at this crisis and actually plan for a productive economy in the future- instead of building mountains of debt for future generations.  Let’s have a little bit of perspective here and be willing to sacrifice pork programs (and even good but non-essential programs) for the plans that will truly build up the confidence and strength of Americans and our economy.   I love this country and I want to see it succeed not flounder in wasteful debt!

Take a look at this video.  It is admittedly right-wing but I think the statistics make some good points.  To Senator Shumer- I am one of the chattering class, and I care:

Patriotism and honor

The enemy is anybody who’s going to get you killed, no matter which side he’s on.

Joseph Heller- Catch 22

Our obligations to our country never cease but with our lives.

John Adams

I concluded an interesting experience this evening.  It is always intriguing when I am presented with two contrasting views and then forced to reconcile my own feelings.  This has happened to me regarding the subjects of patriotism, honor and courage.  To begin with, I just finished reading the “classic” novel Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.  At the same time I have been watching the new miniseries on John Adams based on the popular biography by  David McCullough.

On first glance the two may seem completely different and to a certain extent they are ( Catch 22 being a dark comedy and John Adams a dramatic real life biography).  Still, I could not ignore the contrast in philosophies the two stories bring up.  In Catch 22 the main character Yossarian’s objective in life is to not fly missions, to not serve.  His rational for this decision makes sense- the less he goes into battle, the greater his chances for survival.  The now famous “catch 22” by which the title gets its name (and the phrase was invented) refers to the idea that if a man wanted to fly more missions he’d be crazy; however, if he didn’t than he was sane and would have to fly the missions.  It’s a circular argument that is interesting and certainly one I hope to never face.

Here is my problem with Heller’s book and the argument- how come honor, patriotism, the good of mankind, never even comes into play?  There is not a single character in the novel with honor or courage.  They are all simply trying to live.  Surely in a battalion of men there would be a few soldiers who believed in the nobility of their task, who believed that freedom is worth paying the ultimate sacrifice for if needs be? In addition, what about those people that are not required to literally die but are asked to sacrifice their life in the form of their time, talents, energies and passions? What if all of these people took a Yossarian philosophy and did only the bare minimum- just enough to get by but not enough to make a real difference? Would this not have a terrible effect on our country?

In contrast I looked at the amazing life of John and Abigail Adams (as well as so many others featured in the film). They spent their entire life serving their fellow citizens.  These missions put them in great physical harm and required personal hardships including separation from their children for years.  Adams, Jefferson, Washington all were reluctant servants and yet they did it because they knew it was right.  As much as I admire many politicians (and anyone who has talked to me knows I love politics!) I don’t think I know of one that could be called a reluctant servant.

Maybe I am too idealistic in my views but I feel this country was founded on the idea that individual citizens, individual voters would not only make wise decisions but would hold democracy and freedom above all else. I hope we are not as the characters in Catch 22- merely watching our own backs, making sure we come out ahead of everyone else.  Look at the legacy of the early heroes, look what principles they taught generations through their sacrifice.  It is difficult to deny that their courageous choices were nothing but of the highest importance.  For example, if Washington had been selfish he could have become a King and been called “Your Highness” (Adams even put such a measure before congress).  He refused, and we are all the better for it.

I am sure that if I was ever called into battle such choices would not be made lightly (as they are in Catch-22) but I hope I would have the courage needed to protect liberty.  The only thing in my life that has been even a tiny bit similar  to battle was my mission where everyday we were required to sacrifice time, family and home for a higher principle- for something I believe in strongly.  During my mission I received great inspiration from the stories of the Mormon pioneers who sacrificed everything for religious freedom.  I have always wondered if I could do what they did.  I sincerely hope so.  Just as I have a religious passion I also have a deep patriotic vein within me, and I hope like the many soldiers who have died to protect my country and freedoms I would be brave and do all that is required of me.  Either way, I would like to think that the honorable route would be the most common- not the exception to the rule as in Catch 22.

I highly recommend watching the miniseries John Adams.  It is remarkable on every level.  The acting is superb- even in the small parts.  The make up and costumes is some of the best I have ever seen.  Before seeing the film I knew a bit about Washington, Hamilton, and particularly Jefferson; however, not much about Adams.  I found it moving, personable, and non-vitriolic.  In fact, all of the founding fathers except maybe Hamilton and Franklin, are portrayed in the film as simple men who served their country as best they could.  This is what I expect out of myself and those around me each day.  It is my greatest goal in life to live in a way that matters- that makes a difference for good. I am not perfect, and I certainly lead a small life; however, on occasion I have moments of decision,  of integrity and faith.  It is at these moments I pray that I think of future generations, of my loved ones, and of my country and hope I make the correct, if difficult choice.

One slight caution on the film- there is some adult content and I would recommend adults see it before children.  I would actually feel comfortable showing most of it to older children and teenagers but it depends on the child.  A few of the scenes including a surgery in the last film are tough to watch.

25 Things About Myself

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

I know these kind of things are lame but I actually like doing them.

1. I love to travel and if I had a ton of money I would vacation as much as possible.
2. I have 4 nieces and a step nephew who are the cutest ever.
3. The rest of my family dislikes tv but for some reason I love it. Favorite shows are How I Met Your Mother, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, The Simpsons, and 24.
4. I have whole sections of the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s memorized. It is my favorite movie.
5. I have a collection of Madame Alexander dolls. I got my first when I was 8 or 9 and now have 13.
6. I am an NPR junkie and love Car Talk, Radio West, This American Life and Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me.
7. I have a phobia of most animals and birds. I don’t like being licked, touched, pecked at or any of the other behaviors of animals. It’s weird but true.
8. There is nothing I love more than a Broadway musical. Les Mis is my favorite and it is the only show I have seen twice on Broadway. Amazing.
9. I sometimes do crazy things like go on a singles cruise to Mexico by myself. I like the challenge of it.
10. One of my favorite things is having a good conversation with an old, devoted friend. Best in person, but the phone is great too.
11. I love book clubs and even started going to one in September that I found out about on Craigslist. It’s been great.
12. Reading is another passion of mine. All types of books. Currently I am enjoying the Confessions of a Shopaholic books by Sophie Kinsella. They are surprisingly good.
13. My favorite names for a boy and a girl have always been Christian and Lili.
14. One of my goals in life is to someday live by the ocean. Hopefully Hawaii but I will take any ocean.
15. I went to college with my mom pregnant. My mom had the baby after my first summer term of BYU.
16. I love to swim. Give me a good pool and I am happy.
17. My current Hollywood crush is on Jeffrey Dean Morgan; although, Hugh Jackman always makes me dizzy.
18. I love politics and find it interesting to look at all sides of issues.
19. I hate mingling at a party. I seem to never know what to say.
20. I hate fake cheese
21. I have a birthmark on the top of my head that is bright red. I guess that’s another reason why I won’t ever shave my head!
22. I never went to prom in high school. My junior year I was actually on the planning committee but I got appendicitis and had to miss it. Senior year we had moved to California.
23. My current favorite food is greek yogurt with fruit and honey. I love it and I normally don’t like yogurt.
24.I love entertaining and enjoy the process of planning a menu and inviting friends.
25. I don’t like driving and honestly I am not very good at it.

So, that’s 25 things. 🙂

Vote

Hi friends,

This is a quick note of encouragement for everyone to get out there and vote on Tuesday.  I have already voted by absentee and even though I was not crazy about either candidate I finally made a determination.  As much as I respect Barack Obama (and will be actually kind of excited if he wins) I decided to vote for John McCain for one basic reason- he is more likely to appoint judges that I agree with and support. In particular I feel that abortion is a very important issue.  I am pro-life and would be happy if Roe v Wade was overturned.  I believe it was founded on faulty notions of the freedom of women.  The pro-choice team would have you believe that abortions were somehow liberating.  On my mission I met several woman who had abortions years before and the memory was continually haunting them.  Where was the supposed independence from the burden of a baby that these women were supposed to achieve?  The pro-choice movement would have you believe that abortion is a matter of female choice and that to violate such freedom is wrong.  What about the freedom of the baby? What about the right to life?

Anyway, I know this is a very touchy issue and I don’t want to ostracize people from my blog.  I merely wanted to explain my reason for voting for John McCain.  I decided that McCain is more likely to select Supreme Court and other judges that are pro-life.  I know it may be a mistake to vote on one issue but I felt so divided on every other issue- some going for McCain, others to Obama, that finally my choice came to abortion and that was the tipping point.

Regardless of my vote it looks like Obama is going to win the election.  If he does, it will be a marvelous day for our country.  It is hard to believe that as late as 1965 Jim Crow laws were officially banned by the Civil Rights Act.  Now 43 years later we will probably have an African American as a president.  It’s very exciting.  I have read Barack Obama’s books and feel he is a good man who will do his best as president.  I don’t agree with him on everything, but I think he will attempt to develop a political discourse in this country that we haven’t had with Bush.  I look forward to that.  I also agree with him on the war and am glad he supports charter schools.  Health care and taxes I am more with McCain.  They were honestly about equal in my mind except for the abortion discussion.

I would like to make one more statement about the election.  All of my friends in California- please go out and vote for proposition 8.  I wish I was in California just so I could vote for it.  I am a great supporter of equal treatment for all including all of us that favor traditional marriage.  Tolerance does not mean adopting other’s moral codes- it means learning to acknowledge those differences and treating people with kindness. This is true for both sides of the debate. I support proposition 8 because I believe that marriage between a man and a woman is sacred, special, important to society and it is fundamental to the health of children.  I completely support giving domestic partnerships rights but not at the cost of harming traditional marriage.  That’s just the way I feel.

My brother in law wrote an essay on proposition 8 that I feel is quite brilliant; however, it is kind of long for the blog.  Here is one section:

“While much could be said about whether same-sex unions should or should not be granted civil marriage, the core of this issue is really about the right of private individuals to make a distinction between same-sex unions and traditional marriage. If Proposition 8 fails, this right will, at the very least, be restricted.

Though distinguish and discriminate seem similar, they represent two very different ideas. Discrimination refers to a separation made solely on the basis of a category or class without regard to individual merit. This type of distinction rightfully has no protection under the law. On the other hand, we all regularly make and rely on merit-based distinctions. These are value judgments we make based on, for example, the actions of two competing individuals in order to decide between them. Individuals do have the right to make this type of distinction between same-sex unions and traditional marriage. Such a distinction can be understood as follows. Every individual involved in a same-sex union, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other classification is engaging in homosexual activity. To many, engaging in homosexual activity is morally wrong. Based on the believed lack of value in these actions, a distinction is drawn between same-sex unions and traditional marriage. Note that this valuation is solely about the actions committed and the types of unions formed, not about any individual who engages in such actions or forms such unions. This is a clear departure from the oft-drawn analogy of interracial marriage. In the case of interracial marriage there is no way to make such a distinction that does not rely on an underlying valuation about the classes of individuals who commit such acts, which is discrimination.

Obviously and understandably, many people oppose this distinction. Nevertheless, our country is built on the freedom of individuals and groups to make exactly such declarations. In fact, a distinction between traditional marriage and same-sex unions has been publicly endorsed by both main presidential candidates and their running mates. Though their opinions on Prop. 8 differ, all four political candidates have stated that they define marriage as the union between a man and a woman. Vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden has also stated in reference to gay marriage that “Barack Obama nor I support redefining, from a civil side, what constitutes marriage. We do not support that.”

Given that some people make this distinction while others do not, what should be the government’s role? The answer is essentially none. To the extent that homosexual activities are committed by consenting adults the United States Supreme Court has rightfully determined that the government has no place to question their legality. In the same vein, even though some feel that same-sex unions are immoral, there is no room for the government to make that distinction. This is why the formation of civil unions and similar institutions to protect the rights of individuals in same-sex unions should, for the most part, be applauded. But the government should also not prevent anyone from making that distinction. By granting same-sex unions access to the traditional institution of marriage there are clear signs that this is exactly what the government is doing.”

I may add more to this tomorrow, but I wanted to do my part before the election day on Tuesday.  Hopefully nobody will be offended by my stating positions.  They are just that my positions and shouldn’t bother anyone.  I also promise that my blog will be mostly free of politics after this. Call it a rare exception. Go out and vote!  I have never missed an election (even on my mission) since I turned 18.  Don’t miss out on your chance to make a difference.