Friday, October 14, 2011

Occupy Wall Street

I originally wasn't going to post about this, because well: Who on earth could be against Occupy Wall Street?

But then, much to my complete inability to understand, some people actually are against it.

I can not, for the life of me, understand how this can be. I mean, seriously, peaceful people gathering to protest greed.

Not corporations. Greed. There is a BIG difference, and I think that is why people are supposedly against it- because they don't understand it. (Or, they only watch FauxNews and for some reason believe what is said on that so-called station).

Liberals and democrats are all for businesses. We're all for hard work. What we are NOT for is CEO's getting a 27% pay increase while middle-class workers get a 2% pay raise. What we are NOT for is CEO's pocketing millions of dollars while they ship jobs overseas. What we are NOT for is CEO's taking billions of dollars of bail-out money, and holding on to it: refusing to lend so that thousands of small businesses go under.

What is to like about those CEO's?

Let me give you a personal example.

My mom lost every penny of her retirement- retirement she had dilligently saved for over 30 years of dedicated service at Washington Mutual. When it went under (in very shady circumstances if there ever was one), she lost EVERY. SINGLE. PENNY.

What did Washington Mutual's CEO get? He got paid 21 MILLION dollars for 17 DAYS of work.


What hard-working middle-class citizen thinks that is just great? Fair? Reasonable? Right? What true, hard-working American is not furious that we live in a society where that is not only OK, it's acceptable?

That's what Occupy Wall Street is about. It's about this top 1% who DID NOT work hard to get where they are. They simply screwed the most people.

And, I'm so incredibly SICK of people saying that the poor are lazy. I grew up so poor the stories I could tell you would make your head spin. But my dad was, and still is, the absolute hardest worker I know. He worked three jobs to make ends meet. Those bastards on Wall Street who stole my entire mom's retirement have no clue what hard work is- they have never done what my Dad did. They have never sacrificed and worked like I watched my dad.

The janitors, mechanics, and factory workers are the TRUE hard workers in America. Screw you Republicans who think if you have money it's because you "worked harder." Screw you Herman Cain for treating the poor like trash, saying they just need to work. Screw every person who honestly thinks that "working hard" automatically equates to making money.

I have, unfortunately, seen how the "real world" works. I saw my mom cry for weeks while some Wall Street hypocrite took everything from her.

So, yeah, I'm pretty pissed at Wall Street. Not businesses and corporations in general. At these selfish, greedy, despicable men (who I am absolutely certain will rot in Hell someday) who are stealing from the working class, and then blaming the working class for being in such a plight.

And if you're not angry, you don't get it. Start researching, and you'll be angry.

UPDATE: I will note, that I do NOT think the violence in Rome is OK. The protests in the USA have been incredibly peaceful. In Denver, the leaders of Occupy Denver actually went around the park and collected and got rid of anything that could be used as a weapon (large rocks, sticks, etc.) and held several meetings discouraging violence. Even though the police came, it was incredibly peaceful with no violence from either side. Peaceful protests should always be encouraged in a country that claims democracy.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Something Everyone Can Cheer About

You thought I was going to mention Gadhafi based on the title of this post, but no, it's a Jon Stewart clip that I think everyone will enjoy (unless you are really sensitive to bleeped out cuss words...there's a bit of cussing, but they are bleeped). Enjoy!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

For America's future, parties must find political common ground

Unfortunately, we now live in a world where compromise has become a dirty word.
--Michael Fitts

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (CNN) -- As Americans come together to celebrate Independence Day with parades, backyard barbeques, and fireworks, we should also look back on our history and reflect on what has made us the great republic we are today: political compromise.

Our need for compromise is as great as ever. But as the 2012 election cycle heats up the prospects for bipartisan action to address our country's most serious problems decrease with each passing day. The United States is engaged in two wars (at least) overseas, faces an ever-increasing deficit, high unemployment, and soaring health care costs -- all during a sustained economic crisis.

While the recent golf summit between President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner was a rare show of bipartisanship, compromise on real issues remains elusive.

The White House and Congressional Republicans risk defaulting on the country's debt as they continue to squabble over raising the debt ceiling. Many in Congress question whether Obama is flouting the War Powers Resolution with continued American military "support" in Libya. And so far the current crop of Republican presidential contenders are speaking to just one side of the electorate when offering their prescriptions for what ails America.

The reality is that Americans elect leaders to solve problems. A basic truth many of our elected officials in Washington fail to grasp is that to confront major problems and reach some level of viable agreement, effective political leadership requires compromise.

When our leaders refuse or are unable to compromise, the results can be catastrophic. In an equally uncertain time immediately following World War I, President Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, saw hopes for lasting peace in the League of Nations, stating prophetically in 1919, "I can predict with absolute certainty that within another generation there will be another world war if the nations of the world do not concert the method by which to prevent it." But he and Senate Republicans refused to compromise and as a result Wilson's dream for American involvement in helping lead a peace-preserving world body was shattered.

More recently, in 1993, then-newly elected President Bill Clinton devised a plan to "to fix a health care system that is badly broken," and provide all Americans with basic health care. Several factors led to the plan's failure a year later, from closed-door White House task force proceedings to Republican intransigence. The net effect was that for the next 15 years, "health care reform" was the third rail of politics and debate was stifled.

Alternatively, compromise makes progress -- even incremental progress -- possible. Yet moving toward the middle has frequently proved hazardous to one's political reputation.

Business considered President Franklin Roosevelt a traitor to his class for enacting New Deal legislation, while his left-leaning supporters felt the legislation was too accommodating to business. President Ronald Reagan twice angered his conservative base: first by agreeing to payroll tax increases with then-House Speaker Tip O'Neill in order to save Social Security; second, by negotiating nuclear arms reduction agreements with the "evil empire," the Soviet Union.

Today, many debate what our Founding Fathers intended. The fact is, our founders intended our three co-equal branches of government to lead figures like Reagan and O'Neill to think through their differences and compromise with one another. Our Constitution was born in compromise after Benjamin Franklin helped break the deadlock in 1787 over the divisive issue of proportional representation. Then, the center of our young, fragile republic managed to hold because political adversaries looked to Congress and the courts as mediating institutions.

Early in the 20th century, the aptly named U.S. Supreme Court Justice Learned Hand observed, "The solution to any problem will almost always be compromise based on experience." He added, to underscore the point, that no court could save "a society so riven that the spirit of moderation is gone."

Unfortunately, we now live in a world where compromise has become a dirty word. The reasons are complicated. One is simply the social stratification in our country -- we tend to work, live, and vote with people who think as we do. Another is the splintering of our media outlets. Liberals have MSNBC and the Huffington Post. Conservatives have FOX News and the Weekly Standard.

Adding to the polarization of American politics is the absence of big tent political parties that are inclusive of moderates as well as staunch partisans -- and which as recently as 25 years ago mediated many of these divisions out of the spotlight. At the end of the day, this leaves decision-making to occur in the media glare with public leaders subject to charges of inconsistency and hypocrisy.

While unilateral disarmament by either Democrats or Republicans is not an option leading into 2012, I do see some ways forward. The first is simply for each of us to recognize the degree to which we are complicit in the bloodsport of politics. Too often we see disputes over hot-button issues as battles to the death between the forces of right and wrong.

Second, we should identify and support leaders who have a genuine record of promoting real solutions and forging thoughtful compromises. History is replete with examples. In the wake of World War II President Eisenhower, a Republican, left the New Deal intact. Fervent anti-communist Richard Nixon created the opening with China. Bill Clinton backed welfare reform.

Finally, we must make special efforts toward educating future leaders to bridge and heal our societal fissures. With the increasing segmentation in our society, our universities are one of the last bastions where people from diverse economic and political backgrounds come together on a sustained basis. They are, and must continue to be, institutions that instill an ethic of respect and teach people across the political spectrum how to engage with one another in the spirit of open and respectful dialogue.

In these days of overheated partisan rhetoric, a call for moderation is unlikely to rally the party faithful. But as Walter Isaacson wrote in his biography of Benjamin Franklin, "Compromisers may not make great heroes, but they do make great democracies." That should remain our common and ultimate objective.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Such a JOKE!

"(Reuters) - U.S. budget talks collapsed on Thursday after Republican negotiators walked out, throwing doubt on Washington's ability to reach a deal that would allow the government to keep borrowing and avoid a debt default.

Representative Eric Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House of Representatives, said participants had identified trillions of dollars in potential spending cuts but were deadlocked over tax increases sought by Democrats. Republican Senator Jon Kyl also pulled out, according to an aide.

"Regardless of the progress that has been made, the tax issue must be resolved before discussions can continue," Cantor said in a statement.
"House Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Washington, said Democrats must take tax hikes off the table.

"These conversations could continue if they take the tax hikes out of the conversation," Boehner said.

Negotiators had hoped to reach a budget deal by next week that would give lawmakers political cover to raise the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling before the Treasury Department runs out of money to pay the country's bills."
This is such a joke!!! Republicans are willing to negotiate as long as they get EVERYTHING they want, and their precious rich cronies are not affected. As long as all that is cut are Democrat programs, they are all about cutting the deficit. But as soon as their precious tax breaks are mentioned (tax breaks that have NOT created jobs or made for a better America, they have merely produced richer CEO's and the dissolving of the middle class), they just storm out- they can't even sit and have a civil discussion.
Apparently Reps. have forgotten what a democracy is all about- working together and compromising to determine what is best for the country. Apparently they have no human decency left in them, and all they can do is whine and pout until they get their way (oh, but of course they will blame the Dems for doing nothing about the deficit, even though THEY are the ones who are throwing tantrums louder and more annoying than my 2-year-old. All to protect their spoiled, rich, rotten, billionare financiers. And we wonder why nothing productive can get done in Washington!)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

So Sad!

I have two thoughts about this break-up:

1. I am truly very, very sad about this. They have four kids, and they seemed like such a great couple. Different backgrounds, yes, but they both seemed grounded and real. When I heard the news, I almost started crying I was so upset- for them as well as their children. I guess it just goes to show that even seemingly great marriages still have problems.

2. Republicans can get off their high horse about thinking they are so morally superior to Democrats- they have officially lost their self-righteous and self-given title of "moral gods and goddesses" of America. Granted, they lost it a  long time ago, but now they can really shut up about having higher standards than everybody else, because they don't.

Whew, felt good to get that off my chest!

Monday, May 16, 2011

CNN Presents- A Shout Out

Last night my husband and I watched CNN Presents: The Hunt For Bin Laden (I'm not sure if that is the exact title, but it is something like that). If you have CNN, you should definitely watch this!

This special feature goes into detail of what occurred for the preparation and the mission of getting Bin Laden. It is fascinating- and caused me to have a much greater appreciation for our intelligence community (dang, they are smart people!) and for what our special opps forces can accomplish (real life is WAY better than the movies!).

It is a great piece of journalism- I'm sure you will not be disappointed! Definitely a 5 star piece!

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Irresistible Revolution

"When people begin moving beyond charity and toward justice and solidarity with the poor and oppressed, as Jesus did, they get in trouble. Once we are actually friends with folks who struggle, we start to ask WHY people are poor, which is never as popular as giving to chairty. One of my friends has a shirt marked with the words of late Caholic Bishop Dom Helder Camara:

'When I fed the hungry, they called me a saint.
When I asked why people are hungry, they called me a communist.'

Charity wins awards and applause, but joining the poor gets you killed. People do not get crucified for charity. People are crucified for living out a love that disrupts the social order, that calls forth a new world.

People are not crucified for helping poor people.
People are crucified for joining them."

-From The Irresistible Revolution: Living As An Ordinary Radical by Shane Claiborn

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Human Predicament Cycle

I am fascinated by what is going in Egypt right now. I can hardly take my eyes off the television. It is awesome to know that we are truly watching history being made. But, it begs the question: What's next?

The answer, of course, is anybody's guess.

But I am reminded of what I learned in college- in BYU's American Heritage class. The BYU professors came up with what they call, "The human predicament cycle." It is a cycle that centuries of civilizations have gone through that goes like this:

1. Tyrannical leader/dictator
2. Revolution to get rid of said leader
3. Leader is ousted, anarchy ensues
4. A new tyrannical leader is put into power to establish order

Wash, rinse, repeat.

The United States of America is the country that was able to break from this cycle. Watching Egypt, I am reminded once again of how great our founding fathers really were. After the Revolutionary War, the people wanted to crown George Washington King of America- but he refused, knowing they had just fought a war to be rid of a king. Instead, he worked with other great men to form our Constitution and establish the United States of America. We are certainly blessed to be a part of that legacy!

Now, we wait and see what Egypt will do. Will they fall victim to the Human Predicament Cycle and have anarchy that will lead to yet another dictator? Or, will they break free and establish a government of the people, by the people, and for the people?

Only time will tell, and I am anxious to see how this all plays out!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

2011 Economic Collapse?

HERE is one of hundreds of articles talking about how our economy might collapse- sooner, rather than later.

I am sure that by now all of us agree we are in a crisis situation in regards to the economy and the national deficit.

I, however, have lost faith in both political parties to do anything about it.

Both parties caused this. One party did not do more damage than the other- and I will not argue about that. BOTH sides are responsible.

The worst part, though, is that NEITHER side is doing anything about it.

They both promise to.

They both say they will.

But nothing gets done.

Even the beloved (HA!) Tea-Partiers have vowed to reduce the budget by only 30 billion. That's 1.67% of the deficit. That's the same amount the Fed prints every MONTH. Meaning: Even the tea partiers are completely unwilling to do anything that will actually reduce the deficit.

I have completely lost faith in both parties to make the hard choices and actually do something meaningful to reduce the deficit. Why? Because it is political suicide to be the one to push the austerity measures that must be done to get our budget anywhere within reason. Remember what happened in Greece? Spain? London? It's not pretty for the ones who actually do the hard things.

So neither party is doing it.

Honestly, I don't understand all the numbers and how it all works and I don't get everything that is happening. But, I know it's not good- and it's not going to get any better anytime soon, regardless of who is in power.

What do I think will happen?

I think China will call our debt and leave us begging for mercy as the dollar becomes worthless. I think there will be massive riots in America as food becomes the most precious commodity. I think we will have to create a new currency and start over- which will most certainly be painful for all of us.

Yes, I think it's that bad.

How bad do you think it is?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Mormon Ethic of Civility

It seems now the timing is perfect for this wonderful article I read today. It was put out by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints newsroom in 2009. A very timely article for what is going on right now!

The Mormon Ethic of Civility

The political world is astir. Economies are faltering. Public trust is waning. Individuals feel vulnerable. And social cohesion wears thin. Meanwhile, stories of rage and agitation fill our airwaves, streets and town halls. Where are the voices of balance and moderation in these extreme times? During a recent address given in an interfaith setting, Church President Thomas S. Monson declared: "When a spirit of goodwill prompts our thinking and when united effort goes to work on a common problem, the results can be most gratifying." Further, former Church President Gordon B. Hinckley once said that living “together in communities with respect and concern one for another” is “the hallmark of civilization.” That hallmark is under increasing threat.

So many of the habits and conventions of modern culture — ubiquitous media, anonymous and unsourced online participation, politicization of the routine, fractured community and family life — undermine the virtues and manners that make peaceful coexistence in a pluralist society possible. The fabric of civil society tears when stretched thin by its extremities. Civility, then, becomes the measure of our collective and individual character as citizens of a democracy.

A healthy democracy maintains equilibrium through diverse means, including a patchwork of competing interests and an effective system of governmental checks. Nevertheless, this order ultimately relies on the integrity of the people. Speaking at general conference, a semiannual worldwide gathering of the Church, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles asserted: “In the end, it is only an internal moral compass in each individual that can effectively deal with the root causes as well as the symptoms of societal decay.” Likewise, Presiding Bishop H. David Burton emphasized that the virtues of fidelity, charity, generosity, humility and responsibility “form the foundation of a Christian life and are the outward manifestation of the inner man.” Thus, moral virtues blend into civic virtues. The seriousness of our common challenges calls for an equally serious engagement with reasonable ideas and solutions. What we need is rigorous debate, not rancorous altercations.

Civility is not only a matter of discourse. It is primarily a mode of engagement. The technological interconnectedness of society has made isolation impossible. Of all the institutions in the modern world, religion has had perhaps the greatest difficulty adjusting to the reality of give and take with the public. Today, and throughout its history, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continuously encounters the legitimate interests of various stakeholders in its interaction with the public. Rather than exempting itself from the rules of law and civility, the Church has sought the path of cooperative engagement and avoided the perils of acrimonious confrontation.

Echoing this mode of civil engagement, President Monson declared: “As a church we reach out not only to our own people but also to those people of goodwill throughout the world in that spirit of brotherhood which comes from the Lord Jesus Christ.” Speaking of civility on a personal level, Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught Latter-day Saints how to respond to criticism: “Some people mistakenly think responses such as silence, meekness, forgiveness, and bearing humble testimony are passive or weak. But, to ‘love [our] enemies, bless them that curse [us], do good to them that hate [us], and pray for them which despitefully use [us], and persecute [us]’ (Matthew 5:44) takes faith, strength, and, most of all, Christian courage.”

The moral basis of civility is the Golden Rule, taught by a broad range of cultures and individuals, perhaps most popularly by Jesus Christ: “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:31). This ethic of reciprocity reminds us all of our responsibility toward one another and reinforces the communal nature of human life.

Similarly, the Book of Mormon tells a sober story of civilizational decline in which various peoples repeat the cycle of prosperity, pride and fall. In almost every case, the seeds of decay begin with the violation of the simple rules of civility. Cooperation, humility and empathy gradually give way to contention, strife and malice.

The need for civility is perhaps most relevant in the realm of partisan politics. As the Church operates in countries around the world, it embraces the richness of pluralism. Thus, the political diversity of Latter-day Saints spans the ideological spectrum. Individual members are free to choose their own political philosophy and affiliation. Moreover, the Church itself is not aligned with any particular political ideology or movement. It defies category. Its moral values may be expressed in a number of parties and ideologies.

Furthermore, the Church views with concern the politics of fear and rhetorical extremism that render civil discussion impossible. As the Church begins to rise in prominence and its members achieve a higher public profile, a diversity of voices and opinions naturally follows. Some may even mistake these voices as being authoritative or representative of the Church. However, individual members think and speak for themselves. Only the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles speak for the whole Church.

Latter-day Saint ethical life requires members to treat their neighbors with respect, regardless of the situation. Behavior in a religious setting should be consistent with behavior in a secular setting. The Church hopes that our democratic system will facilitate kinder and more reasoned exchanges among fellow Americans than we are now seeing. In his inaugural press conference President Monson emphasized the importance of cooperation in civic endeavors: “We have a responsibility to be active in the communities where we live, all Latter-day Saints, and to work cooperatively with other churches and organizations. My objective there is ... that we eliminate the weakness of one standing alone and substitute for it the strength of people working together.”

HERE is a direct link. I hope you guys enjoyed it!