Wednesday, October 29, 2008
I don't claim to be a Republican or a Democrat...being Mormon, I take the church's standpoint- I don't endorse anything political unless it is something that goes extremely against my beliefs...I guess you could call me a Republicrat....there are certain issues I agree wholeheartedly with each party about and certain issues that make me want to take one party and throw it out the window...I make it a point with every election to do my research and vote for the candidate that I feel has the best plan to lead our country- I don't allow myself to be swayed just because so and so is a Republican or a Democrat.
I also HATE smear campaigns. If I get any emails that closely resemble what could be an attempt to belittle an opponent I delete them without even reading them. I think that people should focus on the issues and the plans...not statements taken out of context or stories that have been hyperbolized so much that they have become a "tall tale."
So, in the spirit of fair and unbiased voting, I have been doing my research and I thought that I would share with you all the knowledge that I have gleaned from looking into the platforms of both presidential candidates. It is my hope that as you read this information, you won't blindly walk into a voting booth prepared to make a decision based on propaganda...it is my hope that you will be making an informed decision based on who you think has the best plan for what our country needs right now. For more information on either candidate or their platforms, I strongly suggest you take 20 minutes and peruse their websites: barackobama.com and johnmccain.com. In many cases, I just cut and pasted directly from them.(notes: once at the Obama website click on the link in the bottom right hand corner that says "continue to website" I clicked above for like 5 minutes not getting anywhere until I figured this out, once inside the website, it is very easy to navigate. I found McCain's website difficult to navigate and a bit tedious at times...good luck my little Republicrats! I'm proud of you for getting informed!)
SO....here we go- here are the big ticket issues and how each candidate says they plan to tackle them:
On the Economy:
Both candidates agree that the economy has some major fixing to do...obama's website notes that McCain says he doesn't understand the economy, but in the interest of fairness I would like to point out that he has hired people that do understand it, just like Obama did...so children lets stop fighting and see how you each plan to fix what is wrong! Both candidates want to encourage trade and making American workers more marketable to foreign employers who may want to build a factory or a company here in the states. Both candidates also want to encourage more flexibility in the workplace, allowing for parents to be more involved in the lives of their children. Obama's plan is described in more detail than McCain's but both have the same end product.
McCain: Starts immediately with the idea of helping with the soaring cost of gasoline and food. His gas plan makes me a little nervous, I'm not going to lie...he says that we are going to "tell" the overseas oil companies that our reliance on them is going to end...actions speak louder than words in my opinion. However, he does have a few actions listed to back this up- actions such as finding our own sources of oil (this would add jobs to the economy and lower prices once refineries can be built to process the oil) He also plans to increase the value of the dollar (he doesn't say how though...I thought you had to have something to back up an increase in the value of your money but I could be wrong.) He also plans to give a summer gas tax holiday, suspending the federal tax on gas from memorial to labor day, to decrease the tax on imported sugar based ethanol (ethanol is a substance mixed with gasoline to make it go further...like adding water to soup so to speak) this would lower the gas prices by making a bigger supply. He also plans to roll back the mandates on corn based ethanol, which are causing higher food prices (don't ask me how, he doesn't say...however, I'm sure his team of experts knows what they are talking about.) As far as the housing crisis is concerned, McCain doesn't believe that tax payer dollars should go to bailing out the banks who either a)took advantage of people overselling the idea of a subprime loan or b) didn't do enough credit checking to verify that people could pay the cost of such mortgages over time if the rates increased. He believes the help should go to the homeowners themselves. In the case of his help plan, people who bought a home on a subprime loan from 2005 and after and still live in the house as a primary residence will be eligible to refinance with a government HOME loan. He plans also to lower the corporate tax rate in hopes that businesses will be more willing to work here in the states, and give a tax credit of 10% to companies who work within the states.
Obama: Obama also tackles oil, food, and taxes. Under his plan, the government will enact a windfall profits tax on excessive oil company profits to give American families an immediate $1,000 emergency energy rebate to help families pay rising bills. This relief would be a down payment on the Obama-Biden long-term plan to provide middle-class families with at least $1,000 per year in permanent tax relief. Instead of looking for more oil sources, Obama plans to invest $150 billion over 10 years to advance the next generation of biofuels and fuel infrastructure, accelerate the commercialization of plug-in hybrids, promote development of commercial scale renewable energy, invest in low emissions coal plants, and begin transition to a new digital electricity grid. This plan also creates jobs for millions of American workers. He has several other plans that would create jobs for people in many different sectors, you can look at his website for those, but I felt that this was the biggest.
Obama also plans to create a new "Making Work Pay" tax credit of up to $500 per person, or $1,000 per working family. The "Making Work Pay" tax credit will completely eliminate income taxes for 10 million Americans. Corporations get tax breaks if they send their business and factories to overseas locations, Obama plans to end those tax breaks and implement a rewards system for companies who stay in the states and who create better working conditions for their employees (i.e. retirement plans, health insurance, etc.) Obama also plans to eliminate all capital gains taxes on start-up and small businesses to encourage innovation and job creation. He also plans to increase minimum wage to help people living at or below the poverty line. With the price of food and gas being so high, many people are barely able to make ends meat. His plan will raise minimum wage to $9.45 an hour.
Both: Unfortunately, McCain took this opportunity not to play nice and instead of stating all the facts about his health care plan he took it as an opportunity to smear Obama's ideas and deny Obama's accusations, which means somewhere in this wide world Obama decided to do a little smearing of his own....It really cheeses me off...can't we all just get along? Seriously, what do you have planned to fix the fact that currently more than half of Americans CAN'T AFFORD health insurance? Oh well....c'est la vie. I'll tell you what I could glean... Both candidates hope to reform Medicare by cracking down on fraud and making prescriptions more affordable.
McCain: plans to give a refundable tax credit to people who elect to have insurance through their employer of up to $2500. The families will not only decide where the tax credit should be directed for their coverage needs, (i.e. you can pick your own insurer) but any additional money left over after purchasing coverage will be controlled by the family in a portable health savings account(translation: leftover money goes to pay premiums for the next year) He is promoting Medicaid reform that encourages ending Medicaid/Medicare fraud. He also plans to promote research for chronic care conditions and reward prevention wellness (I have no clue what that means...I'm sure someone does...) McCain also plans to reduce drug costs by encouraging use of generics. McCain also plans to develop a model to help some people get over the pre-existing condition hump, meaning some pre-existing conditions will no longer stop you from being able to get health care. His olan will also make it beneficial to stay under employer coverage because you will be left with more money in your portable account.
Obama: Unlike the propoganda states, Obama is NOT going to require healthcare, but he does want to make it more affordable (atleast that is what I'm reading...) Like McCain, he plans to tackle the preexisting condition problem, but he plans to require insurance companies to cover ALL of them, opening up the idea of health coverage to millions of people. Obama also plans to Create a new Small Business Health Tax Credit to help small businesses provide affordable health insurance to their employees. He, like McCain also plans to give a need based tax credit for those who choose to buy health insurance. Obama also plans to Create a new Small Business Health Tax Credit to help small businesses provide affordable health insurance to their employees, lower costs for businesses by covering a portion of the catastrophic health costs they pay in return for lower premiums for employees, prevent insurers from overcharging doctors for their malpractice insurance and invest in proven strategies to reduce preventable medical errors, he also wants to make it more difficult to sue for malpractice if, through hospital records, it can be proven that the doctors exhausted all the resources available to them to solve the problem. Obama also wants to make employer contributions more fair by requiring large employers that do not offer coverage, or make a meaningful contribution to the cost of quality health coverage for their employees, to contribute a percentage of payroll toward the costs of their employees health care.(in other words, they need to give a "medical stipend" as part of a paycheck to offset the costs that the employee must deal with because they don't have access to insurance.) He would also like to establish a National Health Insurance Exchange with a range of private insurance options, as well as a new public plan based on benefits available to members of Congress that will allow individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health coverage.
He also will help seniors by lowering the costs of prescription drugs by making alternative available, such as imports from safe countries where the drugs people need are cheaper.
(Okay...so I'm not trying to sound biased, I'm still not sure who I will vote for...I am trying to give fair play to each candidate, but Obama's website has a lot more information...there isn't just the "what" he plans to do...its "how" he plans to do it and he gives background to explain his decisions...I'm just saying, I feel like I'm being a little more informed about his policies than McCain's...however, both of them still have good ideas, its just in the implementation of the ideas that I feel like I am lacking information from McCain.)
Both: Feel that everyone has equal rights to good education. Both candidates feel that the parents shoud be a big part of the decisions surrounding their child's growth and development.
Both candidates want to simplify the Higher Education tax benefits and the current method for application for financial aid. Obama wishes to make the financial aid application a check box on your tax forms that automatically will apply you for the many different forms of federal aid, and McCain wants to consolidate the programs so that you only have to apply one place for all forms of financial aid.
McCain: Wants to make choice of school, just that- a choice. No more worries about district lines, if the school won't change to meet the needs of the student then that student has the right to change schools. As far as early childhood education, McCain feels that the programs already in place are working. He wishes to make sure that their resources are devoted to the most needy children. McCain also wishes to keep working under the current ideas of No Child Left Behind. It is his hope that as the program builds, teachers will be able to use the grouped scores to show students that their individual efforts are appreciated or need to be raised. He wants to ensure that there are quality teachers available. McCain wishes to enact alternative methods of certification for people who are qualified in their field and are highly motivated to teach, current certification requirements bar many people who could be good teachers from teaching. He also wishes to give teachers that move to help underperforming schools bonuses. McCain also plans to expand online education opportunities. He also plans to reform how student loans are dispersed, making private lenders more responsible for letting the students understand the terms of the loans.
Obama: Obama wishes to create a public Early Childhood Education school, he will start first by increasing funding to programs that already exist to help parents enroll their children in preschool so that a larger section of the population would be eligible for aid. He hopes that these increases will encourage states to open public pre-schools so that EVERY student gets a head start advantage. He also plans to reform No Child Left Behind. Under the current plan, teachers are forced to teach "to the test" meaning, the creativity has left the classroom in some ways because teachers are under pressure to have their students fill in the answer bubbles correctly (I'm not going to lie, I like this idea. No Child Left Behind has irked me ever since it was enstated. It was a good idea, but I think they missed the mark when it came to delivering a finished product. Its a proven fact that some children just don't test well... I have a research paper that I did in high school to prove it, filled with resources....) Obama's reforms will make it more about the individual than the group and testing the children in ways other than a standardized test format. He also plans to give funding to underperforming schools to help them improve their programs rather than take it away and force them to slip further behind the pack because they can't afford to keep teachers. He also wants to give help to Charter schools that are performing well and find ways to close charter schools in which the children are not recieving an education equal to that of their peers (in other words he isn't going to CLOSE charter schools, he wants to help them, but if they won't change even with help he wants the children to have access to education at a better place.) In addition to his ideas for Federal Aid, he has some new ways to get funding for school. For example, students that have been serving their community in various ways for atleast a year before college (i.e. candystriper at the hospital, big brothers big sisters, etc.) will be eligible for up to $4000 in free financial aid via a tax credit. He also plans to give education benefits to those who are studying to be teachers, making sure that the people that want to become teachers remain motivated to do so and study hard.
Both: Both candidates agree that we can't just "cut and run."
McCain: McCain's strategy calls for much of the same tactics we are dealing with now; however, it seems like he is putting more emphasis on training Iraqi security forces to bring our boys home, and increased efforts to get rid of the Al Qaeda presence in Iraq. He also wants to encourage Iraqis to use their own money to create jobs for the vast number of unemployed people in the country in the private sector.
Obama: Obama has a plan that will have our occupation of Iraq over by 2010. He first plans to address the humanitarian crisis that we caused in entering Iraq by devoting $2 Billion to humanitarian sources for displaced Iraqi refugees and to increase stability for those who have become lost in the crowd and have been unable to find employment and take since the war began. After this, he plans on asking the Iraqis to devote their own money and resources to creating jobs in the private sector and to to building refineries of their own so that they may be able to create more jobs, stimulating their economy. Through this, they will be able to support themselves, thus drawing money back into our economy because we are no longer sending it overseas to pay for their economy. Obama also wants to increase diplomatic efforts so that Iraqis can build a government that everyone in the country can be proud of and so that the situation can be more stable. He hopes that as the pressure becomes greater on the Iraqi leaders to take responsibility for themselves and their people that as we withdraw troops, they will be able to remain strong and maintain order.
Okay....so I know that there are a ton more issues that I could cover, but this blog has already become a lot longer than I originally intended it to be. What it all boils down to is this, in many cases, the candidates agree on where something needs to be changed; however, the way they are choosing to change it is different. Voters need to make an informed decision. I call on all my fellow Republicrats to do your homework and make that informed decision when you vote. Don't listen to all the stupid propoganda (when they bash eachother, its usually something taken out of context and has been twisted so much there is maybe only 1 drop of truth left, if that...ie Palin is a CRAZY Conservative, Obama won't salute the flag, John McCain is a flipflopper, Joe Biden is...well you get the picture...) I hope this was helpful. I tried not be be biased or leave anything out (like I said, I still am sitting on the fence with this one...) However, I feel like I can make a decision when I go out on Nov. 4th to vote and that I won't feel guilty about it. Don't just choose to like a candidate because they are a republican or a democrat...choose to like them because their ideas for where our country needs to be match more closely with your own. Its okay to "break the political mold" that has been set up by your family...you may end up glad that you did... Fence sitters and people who like to stand in the middle of the political spectrum unite! Stand up for what you believe in personally and let your voice be heard!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Okay, so there is nothing better than a classic! This little gem is from 1937 and stars the incomparable Fred Astaire and his onscreen lover for many a show Ginger Rogers! I will warn all of you that aren't big fans of old movies that this particular flick is in black and white- but as a die hard fan of black and white movies since I was very young, I'd have to say that the story makes everything colorful!
Astaire is a ballet dancer named Pete Peters, known by the public as Petrovsky. He is unhappy ballet dancing and secretly practices tap dancing. He also has a secret crush on another dancing celebrity Linda Keene. He manages to meet her on a cruise ship but through a series of unfortunate (or fortunate) events (it depends on how you look at it...) the entire boat becomes convinced that they are married. Craziness ensues and everyone gets their happy ending in this musical romp. The music is spectacular- who doesn't love a Gershwin diddy?!
I strongly recommend it, its fun for the whole family!
Happy Movie Night!
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I went to the Metropolitan Opera Auditions in Spokane, WA over the weekend. The Mets are usually an enriching and exciting experience; this weekend, however, was filled with confusion and disappointment. I had amazing audience feedback, my teacher got teary eyed and I felt pretty good about how I'd done (the only thing that was making me upset was that they didn't ask for a second aria...but then again, half of the people were in the same boat as me.)
The coordinator had given the judges some bad instructions and they were trying to save time by not asking for a second aria, but it left those of us who weren't asked to sing a second aria at a disadvantage(in other words, all of the winners got a chance to redeem themselves by singing a second aria). The piano was up at full staff and none of us had had the opportunity to test the acoustics of the room in advance...usually they ASK if you want the piano up at half or full staff, or if you want the staff up at all and everyone gets an opportunity to atleast hum in the hall and figure out how to adjust your voice. I was willing to over look these things, until I talked to the judges and got totally contradictory feedback and told in so many words that I pretty much suck...they had NOTHING encouraging to say NOTHING, it was all negative and mean and nit picky and harsh...
Well, needless to say, the word on the street is that the coordinator in Spokane has been "let go" and the auditions will be returning to Missoula next year to the hands of people who know what they are doing and how to give everyone a fair chance. I'm still a little peturbed. I had amazing audience feedback and I felt that I had performed a personal best at the Mets and it felt like, in talking to the judges, I was being fed to the wolves. I'm also not a confrontational person, so when my voice instructor and his wife (the head of the voice department here at UM) asked if I had tried to stick up for myself, all I could do was shake my head... I didn't feel like I needed to rationalize my performance to someone who had already formed a negative opinion about me. I simply shook their hands and thanked them for their input... but apparently they didn't have anything nice to say to anyone...
Oh well, its a learning experience, right? Who knows where I will be next year...I've been given a few very solid job offers to stay here in the Missoula area (if I stay I'm moving to Stevensville, there is a stronger LDS community there and a different singles ward...plus a change of scenery to the Bitteroot couldn't hurt, its amazingly beautiful out there) I also know that I could go on a mission if I wanted to, but there is still the issue of student loan debt that makes me a little nervous to do so right away. I also know that BYU-I is still a viable option and that Christine Czinsky (a world famous soprano who happens to teach adjunct there) would love to have me. WE shall see...I'm taking it all in stride and one step at a time.
Perhaps this weekend will be something I can look back on and be glad for later. Right now, I'm just annoyed and confused. I thought I had made so much progress in the last few months and now I feel like dirt. Oh well, c'est la vie...time to make some lemonade cuz I have a whole barrel full of lemons!
CHEERS! : ) Hugs and Loves until next time!
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Here is my pick for the week:
It was a movie that was suggested for me to watch instantly on my computer- so for all you Netflixheads out there, you can go to the Instant section and watch it right now, which I strongly suggest!
This is the sweetest little movie. It is filled with little heartwarming moments and characters that remind you of people you actually know. It is well acted and the script is amazing.
In this story, Mrs. Palfrey moves to London and lives in the Claremont Hotel, so as not to be a nuisance and a trouble to her grown daughter. She has a grandson that lives in London, but, in spite of her attempts to make contact with him, he never comes to visit. One day, she meets Ludwig Meyer (Ludo) and her life changes. All of a sudden she has the family she has always wanted, and while people are touching her life, she doesn't realize how much she touches their's. Its a little bit of a tear jerker, but it is worth the hour and forty five minutes that you will spend.
So...here is my movie pick of the week- Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont.
It has also given me a new quote that is some food for thought:
"Destiny draws you to the path, what we do after that is up to us."
Happy Movie Night!
Thursday, October 2, 2008
I'm talking about serving a mission. Here, however, are my hurdles to making this a possibility... 1) I don't have any money saved up to do this. 2) I have a little over $1000 in credit card debt and 3) I also will have (by the time I graduate) about $45,000 in student loan debt, and last but not least, 4) I am worried about my family. Things have gotten better than they were in the last few years, I don't want to go into too much description, but let's just say things were a mess for a while.; Sometimes, I worry that if I go too far away, that everything will crash and burn.
It was so nice to be with them all this weekend. Amber and I both agreed that, for a while, it seemed like we were all kids again. It was true, its so funny to see how none of us have really changed- we all are still who we were when we were little, only this time, we're better. I don't want any of that to change.
So, here I sit. I sit, and I wonder. I don't want to have any regrets when I stand before my God on judgement day. I don't want to wander aimlessly anymore, hoping that I am making the right decision when I really know what the right decision is. But how do I do this? How can I make it possible? Its not like I have a rich uncle or patron who would be willing to fork over zillions of dollars. I know that hurdle #2 can be easily overcome by me, in fact, I'd already planned on being out of credit card debt by the time I graduate, its just hurdle #3 and #4 that are keeping me concerned. I'm also worried that I am too old. I worry that my family will think that the only reason I am going is because I just can't seem to find Mr. Right...but that wouldn't be my reason at all.
I have such a strong testimony. I'm not trying to boast or be prideful...but when you consider where I've come from, the transformation can't be denied as remarkable. I have my own Alma the younger story, I think in a small way, we all do. I wasted so much time being mad at God because of the death of my father...I never really was hurting him as much as I was hurting myself. Thank God for his wisdom and for people willing to work and be tools in his hands. Thank God for a feeble testimony that grew with a small scripture passage "Oh, is it not true?" I feel like the Grinch in a way...my testimony grew 3 sizes that day...
Okay, and now I'm rhyming...
All I can say is that I know that I worked for the cause of free agency before I came to this earth. I know that I continue to work for this cause in my own way, but I have a feeling that there are many friends that I was parted from in the pre-existence who begged me to help them when they knew that they wouldn't be born into a home with the gospel. I need to find them, I need to help them. In a way, I feel like to make up for all the time I wasted being angry with God I need to be like Alma the Younger, and dedicate my life to him. Its strange isn't it? When God gives you a commandment that seems insurmountable....I am so overwhelmed right now that I am shaking. I really don't know to do or where to start.
I worry that leaving means that I am giving up on things that I have been working for in school and in life. I know God will find a way to use my talents, he always does. I just don't know if I am really prepared for this, but I know I have to do this. As surely as I know the Gospel is true, I know that I have to do this!
How can it not be true? It makes too much sense! I can answer questions that some people search their whole life to find the answer to... Who am I? I am a spirit daughter of Heavenly Father, he loves me dearly. Where am I going? Temporally, I may not know that answer all the time, but I have faith that a loving Father in Heaven will lead me down the right path. As far as where I will ultimately end up, I pray that it will be to dwell in my Father's presence in the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom. I pray that I will be like him and my brother Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. I have been anointed in the temple to be a Queen and Priestess in Heaven. I know that if I remain faithful to my covenants that this will be so. Why are we here? That is the easy part- we are here to learn, we are here to exercise free agency. If you really like to be annoying, we are here to thwart Lucifer's plan. Through sin and transgression, Lucifer (Satan) fights to take away our free agency as he had planned to do in the counsel in heaven. The choices we make are only really free until the point that we choose, when we choose to sin, Satan wins and then you have no agency, you become a bound to that sin and to him.
I know that I believe in the words of God. I believe that the bible is true, as far as it is translated correctly, and I believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. I believe that through feasting on the words of God, you feed your spirit and can draw the Holy Ghost more closer to you, he will be a constant companion if you let him. I know that God loves and takes care of his children, he may not give you all the answers or all you ask for at the very minute you ask him, but with patience and with an understanding that He has his own purpose for you and He has his own timeline, an eternal timeline, you can be content and realize that he gives you more than you bargained for...you just have to look around to find it. I believe in the words of prophets, ancient and modern day. It doesn't make sense to believe that a loving God would leave us only with the bible and say "that's enough, figure it out for yourselves!" He still speaks to us today, through 15 wonderful men who sit at the head of Christ's true church, all who are sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators. Only one of them may have the authority to fully exercise those keys, but just think of how close to the spirit they must be to have that mantle placed on them? I know that Thomas S. Monson is a true and living prophet. I know he exercises those keys of authority through the power of God and that his words are true and helpful. I know that as we listen to the prophet and the apostles, as we take their counsel into our lives and use it, our lives will become easier. It is so much easier to lead a Christ centered life. People often say, "you don't really have any freedom,the church tells you what to do." No...no... the church gives us commands from God and we choose to obey, we choose freedom or we choose captivity at that hands of Satan...who is not a gentle master. I don't know about all of you, but I would rather be free than be a slave to worldy vices at the hands of Satan. I see it in my own family at times, and it isn't fun. Oh, how I long for the day when I can see family members who allow themselves to be slaves to Satan break free from their bonds and chains. Its so funny, because some of them haven't really done anything wrong, they allow their spouses to bind them down and have lost faith in themselves as children of God, and in the Saviour and his redeeming love. EVERYTHING and I do mean EVERYTHING is possible through the Savior and his Atoning Sacrifice. If you don't believe me, just read the Book of Mormon. The Atonement goes so much deeper than just being a sacrifice for our sins. Its redeeming power extends into every corner of our lives if we will have the faith to let it.
I guess I just need to exercise faith. If serving a mission is what I need to do, God will make it happen somehow. He will help me find the way to jump over the hurdles that are in front of me and see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have to let go of things and let him take the reigns, which is not easy for me. I have a need to control things and plan everything out, I pray for the strength to let go and have faith.
This is my humble testimony and prayer. I leave it in the name of my Brother, Saviour, and Redeemer, even Jesus Christ, Amen.
Please be praying for me as I try to figure out how to make this possible. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to bless me with them.