The Mess We're In

So, today is Black Friday. What does that mean? Hordes and hordes of people stomping all over each other to save a few dollars (and in the interest of full disclosure, I sent my husband to Walmart this morning to buy clothes for my kids that they need for winter: jeans, pajamas, coats. Most all of it was gone at 5:15 when he got there. We ended up with a couple of items that turned out to be so cheap in quality I will likely take them back). Anyways . . .

Apparently people are cutting back on their holiday spending due to the poor state of the economy. Here are a few examples:

Even for the growing number of parents who were limiting their gift buying to just their children this year, financial troubles were forcing them to be stingy.

"I have never slept here before to save a few bucks, but with the economy so bad I thought that even a few dollars helps," said Analita Garcia of Falls Church, Va., who arrived at a local Best Buy store at 7 a.m. Thursday with 10 family members. She bought a 32-inch LCD TV for $400, slashed from $500, along with an iPod and several DVDs.

"This year a lot of people I know won't be getting Christmas presents. I have to pay the rent and bills, and I have two little ones at home to think of," Garcia added.

Oh, wow. That is rough. I am really feeling for this poor woman who has rent and bills to pay and two little ones. All she can afford is a $400 t.v. and an ipod. *sniff*

Let's take a look at another tragic story.

Inside, Kira Carinci, 33, a teacher from Cicero, N.Y., searched for the $80 "Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock" video game and guitar controller bundle for her son but said she is more concerned about money than she was last holiday season. She said she had set aside a certain amount for Christmas spending.

"I don't usually save, so this year is a little different," she said.
Wow, actually needing to save money. What a concept! Last but not least:
Joyce and Kevin Kirk of Georgetown in southwest Ohio, who arrived at Kohl's at Eastgate Mall in suburban Cincinnati, at 4 a.m Friday, bought toys for the baby and clothing for her older children, mostly at 50 percent to 60 percent off.

She said they decided to focus more on the kids this year and cut down on gifts for other people. Her husband, a construction worker, wasn't getting enough work at his company and recently switched to another company.

"We just can't do as much this year because of the economy," said Joyce Kirk, who aims to cut her holiday budget to $1,000. She usually spent $3,000 to $4,000 on Christmas gifts

Oh, this is TERRIBLE. The shock of it all. Only being able to spend $1000 on Christmas gifts for your children. HOW WILL WE SURVIVE?!?!

Okay, obviously I am being facetious, but stories like this make me want to THROW UP. What an over-privileged, spoiled, fat, greedy nation we are. A failing economy means only $1000 to spend on the kids? If only other countries (like, perhaps, Haiti, where children are starving to death) had the struggles we have. If a $400 t.v. and an ipod is "cutting back" - if people used to spend $4000 on Christmas and didn't save money, well, no wonder we are in the mess we are in! And to top it all off, a Walmart worker in New York was stampeded to death in the melee - just a martyr to the cause, I suppose. (Okay, I can't believe I wrote that last sentence. What a sickening thing to happen. What a sick, sick world when someone dies because of a bunch of greedy people wanting to shop for deals.)

In October Conference, Elder L. Tom Perry spoke on simplifying our lives. He says there are "spiritual benefits" to a simplified lifestyle and that man only really needs four things: food, clothing, shelter, and fuel. Elder D. Todd Christofferson spoke of building up Zion and said:

We might ask ourselves, living as many of us do in societies that worship possessions and pleasures, whether we are remaining aloof from covetousness and the lust to acquire more and more of this world's goods. Materialism is just one more manifestation of the idolatry and pride that characterize Babylon. Perhaps we can learn to be content with what is sufficient for our needs.
And what are our needs? Elder Christofferson quotes 1 Timothy 6:7-8
We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.

This Thanksgiving weekend, I pray that we can all be grateful for our many, many blessings and recognize the great responsibilities associated with those blessings. I pray that we will be wise during these difficult economic times to use our resources to provide for the needs of our families and to help those around us who are less fortunate. I pray that the adversity we face as a nation can be a blessing if it humbles us to turn to God for relief. Amen.


The Wizzle is back, just in time for the whole darn economy to fall apart

Hey there, it's me - the mostly absent, cautiously optimistic, baby-making, tree-hugging, flip-flopping resident bleeding heart! The newest, smallest member of my household is 8 weeks old and I'm starting to come up for air periodically, so I thought I'd write an actual post of my own - you know, instead of just lying in wait and then picking apart other people's deepest thoughts...

...although my own preference is to do less talking and more listening. It really has been enlightening and a pleasure to read everyone's perspectives on the issues we've discussed. I surely get tired sometimes of hearing my own voice talking itself in circles in my head!

I've been thinking a lot about the economy and all, as I try to calculate how many children we can reasonably stuff into our little house (since it appears that selling it for a profit is, shall we say, a pipe dream at best). While I'm calculating that, I'm studiously avoiding checking the value of our 401K and praying that BBD's job will continue to be secure. I'm sure we're all pretty much in the same boat there.

So my family's future isn't looking too bad at the moment - but I'm way out here in the Wild West. Many of the good people of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and the rest of the Midwest are waiting this week for the other shoe to drop. The very foundations of their livelihood, the Big 3 automakers, have come groveling to the government to save them from bankruptcy. People aren't buying their products, and they're bowed low with the weight of some of the most generous pension and health care plans in the known world. Millions of people depend on Chrysler, GM, and Ford for their jobs in one way or another, and the way I see it, those people will get screwed now or they will get screwed later. The question is, are the rest of us going to go down with them?

Mitt Romney wrote an editorial for the New York Times this week that really summed up the situation very well, in my opinion. Basically, if the Big 3 bailout is shot down, the companies will declare bankruptcy. They will be able to start over and restructure the areas that are most problematic: the management that has come up a day late and a dollar short in anticipating the changing needs and expectations of the American buying public, the adversarial relationship between the management and the workers' union, the gross excesses of executive compensations and benefits that are in no way tied to company performance or the compensations of the "regular" employees, and the total lack of investment in research and development - the pioneering spirit that this country - and the American auto industry - was built on! We pioneered high-quality/low-cost cars, for crying out loud, and now practically everyone in the world makes them better and more efficiently than we do.

Bankruptcy is going to hurt the employees of the Big 3, and all the employees of other businesses in their wake. And anyone who knows me, knows that my heart breaks for those people who have given their lives to these companies, trying to support their families and just keep their heads above water. It's an honest living. But I just don't see any way around the restructuring that needs to happen. For the Big 3 to regain their competitive footing, they're going to need to address these problems sooner or later. So people's pensions are going to be smaller, their pay will be cut, their benefits reduced, because that's the only way for American car companies to keep making cars. The difference is, it can happen in 5 or 10 years anyway and the rest of the taxpayers can foot the bill, or it can happen now and we can begin the extraordinarily painful rebuilding process sooner.

Now, as I've been typing this my mind has wandered, as it so often does, and I find myself thinking: building cars that all of us drive is an honest living. We manufacture so little in this country anymore, yet our know-how and infrastructure for automobile manufacturing is so good that even many "foreign" cars are now made right here in the USA. I think we should cling to that and do it the very best that we can.


Henry Ford built his extremely successful operation on mass production of of inexpensive cars - coupled with high wages for his employees. It was one of the critical, fundamental tenets of his business model. We are now at the point where the Big 3 can no longer afford to offer that to their workers, because Honda, Toyota, and others pay their workers less and yet churn out better products. But why is that? People used to buy cars and houses and furniture and groceries from their local vendor or producer of said items. They used to go to their physiciand and pay in cash for their treatment. They weren't all wealthy, but they didn't have to buy everything at Wal-Mart just to have enough money left over to keep the lights on.

What has changed in the world? Is there just so much more information, so much "access", that we are aware of all the "stuff" out there in the market and we perceive it to be necessary for a middle-class life? Is it globalization? Is it overpopulation? Is it the ever-growing chasm between the Haves and Have Nots? Why do we run around like chickens with our heads cut off, working more hours, spending more money, getting more stuff, but not any happier? Why can we "not afford" to shop at ethical businesses, to buy high-quality products that don't fall apart after 5 uses and sit in a landfill, to pay our honest workers a living wage? Is our income relative to our needs so much less than it used to be? Or has our perception of what we need, or deserve, grown faster than we can support it?

These are not rhetorical questions, any of them. I really don't know, and I'd really like to. I wonder if there's any hope for a society where you can only live comfortably by entering a few select professions. Teachers, auto workers, construction workers and garbage collectors provide services we need, and I would venture that they provide a great deal more benefit to us than all these executive-investment-banker-speculator number crunchers who circle over us, betting on our misfortunes, shuffling imaginary money around and profiting from the people who actually get their hands dirty and WORK.

What does the future hold? Does GM restructure its benefits, cutting back so far in the name of competition that another blue collar career becomes one that cannot support a family? Or does the new management find a way to keep Henry Ford's dream alive in a new century, a new society, and a whole new world?


A Hero

I'm proud to be posting the 100th post on politicaLDS. This is really a fun site, and I've learned a lot from everyone who has participated - bloggers and commenters alike. Thank you all!

The Internet is an incredible place - Wikipedia, in particular. I was reading some articles on World War II and somehow made my way over to the entry for the Medal of Honor. The Medal of Honor is the highest decoration awarded by the American military. Seven Medals have been awarded for acts since 1990, all posthumously, to military heroes who distinguished themselves "conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States".

I was reading through a list of living Medal of Honor recipients and I recognized a name - Daniel K. Inouye - who is a senator from Hawaii. His story is pretty incredible and I thought I'd share it.

I'm paraphrasing/quoting liberally from this page, which you should really go and read, it's a great, uplifting story.


Dan Inouye was born in 1924 in Hawaii, the grandson of Japanese immigrants. His grandfather had moved to Hawaii to work, trying to earn money to pay off a debt of $400 incurred when his house burned down in 1899. They had hoped to be able to move back to Japan after five years, but with a wage of $10/month, it soon became clear they'd be staying there longer. (The debt, by the way, was eventually paid off, after thirty years of work.)

When the Pearl Harbor attacks happened, Inouye was a medical student, and gave aid and assistance. For Inouye and other Americans of Japanese ancestry, this was a difficult time:

...I was driven by an insidious sense of guilt from the instant the first Japanese plane appeared over Pearl Harbor. Of course we had nothing to feel guilty about, but we all carried this special burden. We felt it in the streets, where white men would sneer as we passed. We felt it in school when we heard our friends and neighbors called Jap-lovers. We felt it in the widely held suspicion that the nisei were a sort of built-in fifth column in Hawaii.

Not long after the war began, the military government ordered us to report all radios with shortwave bands. My father had just bought such a set. It was a beauty, picking up Tokyo and the Philippines perfectly We were all enormously proud of it for we had few possessions and had save] a long time to get it. But we promptly complied with the order, and about a week later three men came to our door. They were from Naval intelligence.

"Where is your radio?" one demanded.

"It is here," Father said. "Please come in."

"No, no. Bring it outside."

We did as he said and, without another word, he dug a screwdriver in behind the backing and ripped it off. I looked at my father. His eyes had narrowed, but he said nothing. The man with the screwdriver snapped the wiring inside the set, then reached in and removed the tubes one after another, smashing them on the ground. It was needless destruction; he could have deadened the shortwave band by disconnecting a single wire.

My father's face turned black, and I knew he would not suffer this indignity in silence.

"Here," he said, "let me help you." He reached down to the pile of wood we used for our stove and hefted his ax. Instantly all three of the Naval officials reached for the bulges under their jackets.

Father smiled sadly "Put your guns away, gentlemen," he said. "I only want to help." Then with three great swinging blows of the ax, he smashed the new radio into splinters of wood and glass. "There," he said, breathing hard from his effort and anger, "that should do it. Now you'll never have to worry about it."

He put down the ax and walked back up the steps into the house, leaving us looking at each other in silence.

Japanese-Americans were not allowed to fight in the War until January 1943, when they were permitted to form a segregated unit. Inouye was initially passed over for service because his medical service in Hawaii was perceived to be valuable; he quit the next day and was shipped out shortly thereafter:

There was a new flurry of packing and good-byes, all hasty now, and a heartfelt hug for my mother. Then my father and I caught the bus to the induction center. He was very somber. I tried to think of something to say, some way to tell him that he was important to me, and dear, but nothing came out.

After a long period of silence between us, he said unexpectedly, "You know what on means?"

"Yes," I replied. On is at the very heart of Japanese culture. On requires that when one man is aided by another, he incurs a debt that is never canceled, one that must be repaid at every opportunity.

"The Inouyes have great on for America," my father said. "It has been good to us. And now it is you who must try to return the goodness. You are my first son, and you are very precious to your mother and to me, but you must do what must be done. If it is necessary, you must be ready to. . . to. . ."

Unable to give voice to the dread word, he trailed off. "I know, Papa. I understand," I said.

"Do not bring dishonor on our name," he whispered urgently.

And then I was clambering up into the back of a GI truck, struggling to hold my balance as it rumbled off, and waving to the diminishing figure of my father.

"Good-by!" I called long after he was out of earshot, a forlorn but resolute figure standing there alone as if he never meant to leave. "Good-by!"

Inouye did not dishonor his family. Here's his account of his final battle in the War, and what happened thereafter:

We moved, and almost at once three machine guns opened up on us, pinning us down. I pulled a grenade from my belt and got up. Somebody punched me in the side, although there wasn't a soul near me, and I half fell backward. Then I counted off three seconds as I ran toward the nearest machine gun. I threw the grenade and it cleared the log bunker, exploding in a shower of dirt. When the gun crew staggered erect, I cut them down. My men were coming up now, and I waved them toward the other two emplacements.

"My God, Dan," someone yelled in my ear, "you're bleeding! Get down and I'll get an aid man." I looked down to where my right hand was clutching my stomach. Blood oozed between my fingers. I thought, "That was no punch, you dummy. You took a slug in the gut."

I wanted to keep moving. We were pinned down again and, unless we did something quickly they'd pick us off one at a time. I lurched up the hill again, and lobbed two grenades into the second emplacement before the gunners saw me. Then I fell to my knees. Somehow they wouldn't lock and I couldn't stand. I had to pull myself forward with one hand.

A man yelled, "Come on, you guys, go for broke!" And hunched over they charged into the fire of the third machine gun. I was fiercely proud of them. But they didn't have a chance against the deadly stutter of that last gun. They had to drop back and seek protection. But all that time I had been shuffling up on the flank, and at last I was close enough to pull the pin on my last grenade. As I drew my arm back, a German stood up waist-high in the bunker. He was aiming a rifle grenade at me from a range of ten yards. And then as I cocked my arm to throw, he fired, and the grenade smashed into my right elbow. It exploded and all but tore my arm off. I looked at my hand stunned. It dangled there by a few bloody shreds of tissue, my grenade still clenched in a fist that suddenly didn't belong to me anymore.

Some of my men were rushing up to help me. "Get back!" I screamed. Then I tried to pry the grenade out of that dead fist with my other hand. At last I had it free. The German was reloading his rifle, but my grenade blew up in his face. I stumbled to my feet, closing on the bunker, firing my tommy gun lefthanded, the useless right arm slapping red and wet against my side.

It was almost over. But one last German, before his death, squeezed off a final burst, and a bullet caught me in the right leg and threw me to the ground. I rolled over and over down the hill.

Some men came after me, but I yelled, "Get back up that hill! Nobody called off the war!"

After a while a medic got to me and gave me a shot of morphine. The German position was secured, and then they carried me away. It was April 21. The German resistance in our sector ended April 23. Nine days later, the war in Italy was over, and a week after that the enemy surrendered unconditionally.

To Light a Cigarette

Of course the arm had to come off. It wasn't an emotionally big deal for me. I knew it had to be done and had stopped thinking of it as belonging to me. But acceptance and rehabilitation are two different things. I had adjusted to the shock of losing my arm before the operation. My rehabilitation began almost immediately afterward.

I was staring at the ceiling my first day as an amputee, when a nurse came by and asked if I needed anything. "A cigarette would go pretty good," I said.

"Yes, surely." She smiled and walked off, resuming in a few minutes with a fresh, unopened pack. "Here you are, lieutenant," she said, still smiling, and placed it neatly on my chest and went on her way.

For a while I just stared at the pack. I fingered it with my left hand. Then I sneaked a look around the hospital ward to see if there was anyone in good enough shape to help me. But everyone seemed to be at least as badly off as I was. So I began pawing at that cursed pack, holding it under my chin and trying to rip it open with my fingernails, It kept slipping away from me and I kept trying again, sweating as profusely in my fury and frustration as if I were on a forced march. In 15 minutes I'd tom the pack and half the cigarettes to shreds, but I'd finally got one between my lips. Which was when I realized that the nurse hadn't brought me any matches.

I rang the bell and she came sashaying in, still smiling, still "tailing an aura of good cheer that made me want to clout her. "I need a light," I said.

"Oh," she said prettily, "of course you do." She pulled a pack of matches out of her pocket-she had had them all the time-and carefully put them in my hand. And she strolled off again.

If I obeyed my first impulse, I'd have bellowed after her in rage. If I'd obeyed my second impulse, I'd have burst out crying. But I couldn't let her get the best of me. I just couldn't.

So I started fooling around with the matches. I pulled them and twisted them and dropped them, and I never came remotely close to tearing one free, let alone lighting it. But this time I had decided that I'd sooner boil in oil than ask her for anything again. So I lay there, fuming silently and having extremely unchristian thoughts about that angel of mercy

I was on the verge of dozing off when she reappeared, still smiling. "What's the matter, lieutenant?" she purred. "Have you decided to quit smoking? It's just as well. . . cigarettes make you cough and.. ."

"I couldn't get the damned thing lit."

She tsk-tsked and sat on the edge of my bed. "Some amputees like to figure it out for themselves," she said. "It gives them a feeling of--well, accomplishment. There'll be lots of things you'll be reaming for yourself."

"Look," I growled, "just light the cigarette. I've been three hours trying to get this thing smoked."

"Yes, I know. But, you see, I won't be around to light your cigarettes all the time. You have only one hand with which to do all the things that you used to do with two. And you have to learn how. We'll start with the matches, all right?"

Then she opened the cover, bent a match forward, closed the cover, flicked the match down and lit it-all with one hand, all in a split second.

"See?" she asked. "Now you do it."

I did it. I lit the cigarette. And suddenly her smile was not objectionable at all. It was lovely. In a single moment she had made me see the job that lay ahead. It took me a year and a half to become fully functioning again, but I never learned a more important lesson than I did that afternoon.

He returned home from the war with numerous decorations, met and married his wife, and entered politics. He was elected to the Hawaii Territorial House of Representatives in 1954, then the Territorial Senate, and after Hawaii was granted statehood, the U.S. House of Representatives:

In 1962, then-Congressman Leo O'Brien of New York commemorated the third anniversary of Hawaii's admission to the Union by reminiscing about Dan Inouye's arrival on the national political scene. His recollection of the day Dan Inouye took the oath of office in the U.S. House was recorded in the Congressional Record:

"Tuesday last was the third anniversary of the admission of Hawaii. Today is the third anniversary of one of the most dramatic and moving scenes ever to occur in this House. On that day, a young man, just elected to Congress from the brand new state, walked into the well of the House and faced the late Speaker Sam Rayburn.

"The House was very still. It was about to witness the swearing in, not only of the first Congressman from Hawaii, but the first American of Japanese descent to serve in either House of Congress.

" Raise your right hand and repeat after me,' intoned Speaker Rayburn.

"The hush deepened as the young Congressman raised not his right hand but his left and he repeated the oath of office.

"There was no right hand, Mr. Speaker. It had been lost in combat by that young American soldier in World War II. Who can deny that, at that moment, a ton of prejudice slipped quietly to the floor of the House of Representatives."

He became a senator in 1963, and has served in the U.S. Senate ever since. On June 21, 2000, President Clinton presented him with the Medal of Honor.


We have a common heritage of great Americans who have come before us and served selflessly - not just in the military, but in factories, offices, and in the home. This man was not held back by racism, poverty, or bullets - rather, he was driven forward by a love of family, culture and country. I think we all have something to learn from this story. May we live up to those who have sacrificed on our behalf.


Church and State collide once again

Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court began hearing arguments on a case involving the town of Pleasant Grove, Utah, incidentally a next-door neighbor to my childhood home of American Fork. In 1971 Pleasant Grove, accepted the donation of a statue from the Fraternal Order of Eagles depicting the tablets containing the 10 Commandments. Since that time the statue has been publicly displayed in Pioneer Park, along with a stone from the original Nauvoo temple and other historical artifacts.

In 2003, the founder of a religion known as Summum wrote a letter to the town asking to donate a similar statue containing the Seven Aphorisms of Summum for display in the park. Summumers (or whatever you call them, perhaps Summis or Summuma...) believe that these Seven Aphorisms are the higher law that Moses destroyed because he believed the Israelites were not ready for it. We LDS folk have other ideas about that, but that's very much beside the point.

Predictably, the town refused to display the monument, and Summum sued in order to force the town to treat them equally, arguing for the First Amendment protections of freedom of speech. Pleasant Grove initially won the case, but the 10th Circuit Court of Nutty Liberal Activist Judges Appeals overturned the original decision. The court ruled that the town must either accept the donation and display the Summum monument, or remove the monument depicting the 10 Commandments.

Summum argues that by displaying only specific religious monuments, the government's constitute a tacit endorsement of a specific religion, which would obviously contradict the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The town argues that its role in monuments such as these is not unlike a museum curator's, responsible for the selection of historically important artifacts.

Both sides have a decent argument, and it will be fascinating to see which side prevails when the ruling is issued in the Spring. I tend to side with the fruity Summum folks on this one, despite my obvious regard for the Ten Commandments. What business is it of the government's to endorse and publicly display specific religious symbols while refusing others? I would rather the government and the church be completely separate, for mutual protection from undue influence. It is the same reason I oppose school-sponsored prayer and the unnecessary addition of the phrase "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance in the fifties.

What if the monument in question had been a symbol of Judaism, or Islam, or even one of a Christian denomination in opposition to LDS teachings - say, the Five Points of Calvanism? Surely it would have been rejected, too. Just because there are those who don't feel Summum is a "legitimate religion" doesn't mean Summum's arguments aren't valid.


By the way, I hereby expressly forbid any discussion of same-sex marriage in this thread, thankyouverymuch.


Obama's Appointments

Let's keep this thread open as the place to discuss Barack Obama's appointments to his administration. I'll update the post as each major appointment is made.

November 6th, 2008 - Rahm Emanuel, White House Chief of Staff
The WHCOS is a usually a very powerful position, chiefly responsible for controlling the flow of information, protecting the interests of the President, and advising the President on policy issues and politics. From what I know of Mr. Emanuel, he is regarded as very intense and direct, but above all, someone who gets things done. He has a personal relationship with Obama and they should form an effective good cop/bad cop routine. Republicans are wary of his partisan reputation, but he is not an idealogue, and his git-er-dun nature seems to make him an ideal candidate for this demanding position as a sort of realist grounding rod for the idealist Obama.



What now?

Well, it's over. We have been hashing, arguing, debating, posturing for months now, and it has finally come to an end (for a few days). Barack Obama will be our next President. How do I feel? Dare I say "hopeful"? I learned a few things watching the election returns come in and from the speeches last night that I would like to share.

First, both McCain and Obama were incredibly gracious, and I appreciated that. They set an example the rest of us should follow in dealing with each other and working together. McCain is a good man.

Second, some parts of Obama's speech gave me hope and one part worried me. As a conservative, here are things I was glad to hear Obama say:

Let's remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity. Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress . . .

To those who would tear the world down: we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope. . .

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can't solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree.

I also liked the story about Ann Nixon Cooper and found it inspirational (but it is long, so please read it if you did not watch the speech). The one part of his speech where my little red flag went up was this:

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other. Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers. In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people.

You know - it sounds good, it really does. If it were President Monson saying this same thing, I would probably stand on my car and shout "Yes we can!" But, I can't help but feel that it sounds a lot like a campaign speech for socialism, too. I guess my big question is: HOW? How are we going to pitch in and look after each other? Is this a call for individual action and charity or more government? I am nervous, Barack. Please prove me wrong.

I had an epiphany this morning. I realized that I tend to vote for and support politicians that are much more right-wing than I am. I figure that if they are extremely conservative, they will balance out all the liberals and we'll end up somewhere in the happy middle. I also realized that I DO NOT extend this same courtesy to left-wing politicians. I assume that they are going to come in and enact all their liberal agendas and lead us as a nation to the left. However, I suppose there is the possibility that with Barack being extremely liberal, he will balance out the few remaining conservatives, and we'll end up somewhere in the happy middle. Please prove me right!!

There were a couple of other interesting issues on state ballots. First, abortion. In South Dakota, a law that would implement an abortion policy very similar to the church's position failed. This tells me that abortion is not going away. It has never been my big issue. I kind of have this feeling that our nation has already spoken about abortion, and it is just not going away. So, people who vote on this one issue, please stop. It doesn't really matter if your candidate does want to abolish abortion in every case. If the people won't vote to abolish it, it isn't going to happen. And, it is way too easy for a candidate to get your vote by saying that he is pro-life but then not doing anything about it. There are other issues out there to consider. I have already established on this site that I am pro-life and support a position like the church's position. I would vote that way. But, I think that values voters are being taken advantage of by focusing on this one issue that doesn't seem feasible to change.

Second, Prop 8. It passed by a thin margin. I have to admit I am honestly surprised. Yesterday, when I saw the missionary commercial, I was afraid. I was afraid that if Prop 8 passed, Mormons (and especially missionaries) would face more persecution. But then I realized that I was letting FEAR influence my feelings rather than FAITH. I was allowing myself to be intimidated into not standing for what I feel is right, and that is WRONG.

In a lot of ways, I view Prop 8 as a battle between good and evil (or, more appropriately, truth and error). Yes, this is a great over-simplification, and I already have my shield up to protect me from internet arrows. But, for a lot of people (like me) this came down to a decision of "equality" vs. "traditional values".

The campaign in California pitted those who argued that a same-sex marriage ban was nothing more than outdated discrimination against gays and lesbians, and conservatives and Christian groups who countered that the state and the courts have no right to unilaterally change a definition of marriage that has existed for centuries.

The fact that Prop 8 won tells me that a majority of the population in California still supports traditional values, and I take heart in that. In California, that crazy liberal state, every wacky proposition out of San Francisco failed (prostitution will not be legalized, they will not name a sewage plant after George W Bush, ROTC will not be banned from high schools).

One very interesting thing I noted about the Prop 8 returns is why it passed. I had to check the California exit polls to be certain, but it appears that African Americans supported Prop 8 in great numbers.

Blacks turning out in droves to support Obama also threw their support strongly behind Proposition 8, which would overturn the state Supreme Court decision allowing gay marriage. Opposition to the ban held a small edge among whites, while Latinos and Asians were split.

I find that fascinating. Mormons may not end up being the group "blamed" for Prop 8 passing. It may be the African American population in California. Isn't that interesting that the group who fought discrimination on the basis of their skin color, who fought for true civil rights and equality chose the value of traditional marriage in this vote?

From all of the past two days, I have learned this: we don't need to let political parties define us and our values. We don't need to let them divide us. As Barack said in his speech last night:

Let's resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

We share values that cross party lines. The Democrats try to claim that they are the party for minorities, yet African Americans crossed party lines to support Prop 8. The Republicans claim to be the party of faith and values, and yet people who stood in support of traditional values voted for Obama. This gives me hope! We are not defined by our party. We are defined by our values. Let's work together and find shared values and possibly buck our two parties or reshape and define them.

Obama, you have my attention. As I watched the crowds of people celebrating and crying last night, I wondered, "What do they see in him that I don't see? Why do I feel like I just got punched in the gut while they feel like the world is dramatically changing for the better? What am I missing?" I don't know. But, I am willing to look. And, I pray that we all are willing to look for the good in each other and the good in each party and work together to make this a stronger, more unified America. God bless.


Congratulations, President Obama!

It's over folks, and it was over the second the networks called Ohio. There is no feasible path to 270 electoral votes for John McCain. So, congratulations, Barack Obama, you are officially (well, according to me) the President-Elect. Now get to work! :)


Closing Arguments

In my opinion, which is generally right though often disagreed with, John Sidney McCain III should be the next President of the United States. Here's why:

The primary qualification that McCain has is his experience. He has seen more than most, and he knows how to make the right decision quickly. His experience, not only in politics, but also in the military, is what the country needs during this time of war.

McCain also brings to the table a solidly conservative positions on social issues, including abortion, gun control, education, and gay marriage. We need an individual that will stand up for what he believes, and John McCain will do that.

McCain has spent a considerable amount of time trying to change what is broken in Washington. He has shown the capability to cross party lines when he believes that such an agreement is for the good of the country. He knows what it takes to actually get things accomplished with the other side, and he will be able to create the bipartisan change that we need as President.

Look, you guys know all this. You know the issues and where the candidates stand on them. You know that this campaign has been far too long and far too negative. Everybody is tired of hearing about these two guys. You hardly need me telling you who to vote for. I can only offer you the assurance that when I step up to my belly-high plastic desk on Tuesday and pick up that pen (that never has a cap so you don't steal it), I will be marking my vote for John McCain. It is not a wasted effort; this election is not decided already. This race is going to be a lot closer then all the polls indicate. Your vote matters! Let's turn Senator McCain into President-elect McCain on Tuesday.

The presidential election of 2008 is already a victory for America in the diversity of its candidates – an African-American and a woman on the Democratic and Republican tickets, respectively. Both presidential candidates have compelling personal narratives. However, we must put the historic nature of the election aside and ask ourselves: who is better equipped to lead the United States for the next four years? I believe Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois is the clear choice.

Obama’s campaign platform of hope and change is not limited to changing the policies of the Bush administration, though he will change essentially all of them. He promises to change “politics as usual” and leave behind the painful, divisive partisanship that so alienates Americans from the political process. That is a promise for which I will vote.

He has shown incredible soundness of judgment. On foreign policy, he rightly opposed the war in Iraq from its inception and will bring it to a judicious close, sensibly refocusing our military assets where the need is greatest. On the economy, he recognizes that average Americans are paying too much, and will cut taxes accordingly. Domestically, he knows that the federal government has overstepped its authority and intruded upon our civil liberties. Both candidates will increase government spending; Obama has the judgment to reform the government spending, focusing on what works and eliminating what doesn’t. He chose a running mate who is ready to step in as president if the need should arise, and he promises a bipartisan cabinet.

An Obama election would do much to restore our tarnished reputation in the minds of citizens of other nations, who remember fondly when a strong, free America led the world under the banner of liberty and democracy.

This election is nowhere near concluded; many battleground states are polling within the margin of error, and either candidate can still win. Please vote for Sen. Barack Obama tomorrow.



Supreme Court Judge Selections (coming soon to a ballot near you)

With under a week to go, some lesser discussed issues may play an important part of our future....

On July 17, 2007 Obama in speaking at a Planned Parenthood conference…
We need somebody who’s got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom…what it’s like to be poor, or African-american, or gay, or disabled, or old. And that’s the criteria by which I’m going to be selecting my judges.

McCain has said...
"The moral authority of our judiciary depends on judicial self-restraint, but this authority quickly vanishes when a court presumes to make law instead of apply it. A court is hardly competent to check the abuses of other branches of government when it cannot even control itself.

Am I to understand Obama is saying we need MERCIFUL judges? So there justice AND mercy? Its amazing that Obama managed to accomplish what God couldn't with one person. Justice Vs. Mercy. ooohh, I see, we should let drug dealers and murderers go free if they are Gay, Single moms, Black or poor?

Are McCain's ideas much better?

As a side note, here is a funny clip from Howard Sterns show... (excuse the foul language please)