October 31, 2008

The Truth About Obama

Sorry, but I just have to do this. A friend of mine keeps sending me these ridiculous e-mails about Obama. It's so clear to me that they are nothing more than conspiracy theories and attempts to scare people but she actually believes them--and she's really smart. So I feel the need to get political (again) and get the facts out.

The number of lies being spread about Barack Obama and his policies are staggering. At snopes.com if you search Barack Obama you will find 29 claims that have been proven false, starting with claims that he's a "radical muslim" who was sworn into office on the Quran to claims that he "plans on officially doing away with capitalism and replacing it with his much favored system of socialism."

Search John McCain at Snopes and you'll find only 5 claims that have been proven false.

Barack Obama's website has an entire page dedicated to stopping the lies. John McCain's website has no such page because spreading lies has not been a tactic the Obama campaign believes in. (I'm not saying they're perfect. I'm not saying they don't stretch the truth but compare the two and you will find the most blatant and oft repeated lies fall on the McCain camp.

It seems to me that the McCain campaign thinks Americans believe everything we hear. Perhaps they think we care less about issues than we do about gossip. Jerome Corsi obviously feels that way.

Okay, let's start with something that matters...

Obama's Tax Plan: Truth vs. Fiction


Fiction: Obama would impose a 28 percent tax on the profit from all home sales.

Fact: Both Obama and McCain would continue to exempt the first $250,000 of gain from the sale of a primary residence ($500,000 for a married couple filing jointly) which results in zero tax on all but a very few home sales.

Fiction:
Obama is proposing a 28 percent capital gains tax rate.

Truth:
It's true that Obama favors raising the top rate on capital gains from its present 15 percent to 20 percent or more. He specified that the rate would go no higher than 28 percent saying, "my guess would be it would be significantly lower than that." Furthermore, he has said only couples making $250,000 or more (or singles making more than $200,000) would pay the higher capital gains rate. That means the large majority of persons who pay capital gains taxes would see no increase at all.

Fiction:
Obama proposes to raise the tax rate on dividends to 39.6 percent.

Truth:
Dividends currently are taxed at a top rate of 15 percent. Obama would raise that to the same rate as he would tax capital gains, somewhere between 20 percent and 28 percent but likely "significantly" lower than 28 percent. This higher tax also would fall only on couples making $250,000 or more or singles making more than $200,000.

Fiction:
Raising tax rates on capital gains or dividends would result in higher taxes on investments held in Individual Retirement Accounts or in tax-deferred college funds.

Truth:
Tax-deferred funds would still be just thst--tax--deferred. The whole point of such plans is that dividends and capital gains are allowed to accumulate and compound tax-free. Neither Obama nor McCain proposes to change that.

The bottom line: Any capital gains or dividend income from stocks, bonds or mutual funds owned outside of tax-deferred accounts would continue to be taxed at current rates except for couples making over $250,000, or singles making more than $200,000.

Fiction:
Obama proposes to restore the inheritance tax.

Truth:
The previous statement is false, as are the claims that McCain would impose zero tax and that Bush repealed the "inheritance tax." McCain and Obama both would retain a reduced version of the estate tax, as it is correctly called, though McCain would reduce it by more.

The tax now falls only on estates valued at more than $2 million ($4 million for couples able to set up the required legal and financial arrangements). It reaches a maximum rate of 45 percent on amounts more than that. It was not repealed, but it is set to expire temporarily in 2010, then return in 2011, when it would apply to estates valued at more than $1 million ($2 million for couples), with the maximum rate rising to 55 percent.

Obama has proposed to apply the tax only to estates valued at more than $3.5 million ($7 million for couples), holding the maximum rate at 45 percent. McCain would apply it to estates worth more than $5 million ($10 million for couples), with a maximum rate of 15 percent.

In addition, Obama
has not proposed a tax on new homes with more than 2,400 square feet, or a new gasoline tax or a tax on retirement accounts. Nor will he tax water, as one e-mail claims.

There is some truth to the claim that Obama would impose "new taxes" to finance his health care plan, depending on your interpretation of "new." He has said he would pay for much of his plan "by allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for people making more than $250,000 per year, as they are scheduled to do." That would certainly be a tax increase for those high-income persons, compared with what they are paying now. But whether that's imposing a new tax, or just letting an old one come back, depends on your point of view. It may well be that Obama will eventually propose tax increases to finance some of his health plan if the cost savings that he says will finance much of his plan are don't materialize, but it's wrong to say that he's proposing such taxes now.
I got this information from factcheck.org.

What is ACORN?

This from the ACORN site:

ACORN is the nation’s largest grassroots community organization of low- and moderate-income people with over 400,000 member families organized into more than 1,200 neighborhood chapters in 110 cities across the country. Since 1970, ACORN has been building community organizations that are committed to social and economic justice, and won victories on thousands of issues of concern to our members, through direct action, negotiation, legislative advocacy and voter participation. ACORN helps those who have historically been locked out become powerful players in our democratic system.

In addition to community organizing ACORN members across the country work on issues that will raise the minimum wage or enact living wage policies; eliminate predatory financial practices by mortgage lenders, payday lenders, and tax preparation companies; win the development of affordable housing and community benefits agreements; improve the quality of and funding for urban public schools; rebuild New Orleans; and pass a federal and state ACORN Working Families Agenda, including paid sick leave for all full time workers.

ACORN and its allied organizations provide extensive services to its members and constituency. These include free tax preparation focusing on the Earned Income Tax Credit; screening for eligibility for federal and state benefit programs; and, through the ACORN Housing Corporation, first time homeowner mortgage counseling and foreclosure prevention assistance, and low income housing development.

Since 2004, ACORN has helped more than 1.7 million low- and moderate-income and minority citizens apply to register to vote. The claim about voter fraud comes from workers who made up names and registered people that don't exist. It turns out the organizations quota of 20 registrations per day has caused a few people to lie in order to appear they were doing their jobs. The cases that have been taken to court have shown there was no intended voter fraud. No one was ever planning on casting votes for these made up people--it was more about appearing to have been working when they weren't.

And how is Obama related to ACORN?

His connections to the group are few. In 1995, Obama helped represent ACORN in a successful lawsuit to require the state of Illinois to offer "motor voter" registration at DMV offices and he was on the board of a group that gave them (and many other organizations grants). Obama was never an ACORN community organizer. ACORN never hired Obama as a trainer, organizer, or any type of employee. And ACORN was not part of Project Vote, the successful voter registration drive Barack ran in 1992.

Check factcheck.org for more a detailed account of the ACORN smear that McCain is sadly perpetuating.


I'll leave you with something I'm taking word for word from 80 - 20 Initiative:

How R*cism Works

This was a piece that I found in my inbox. Shocking! However, every fact mentioned below has been independently checked out by 80-20. It helped me see things clearer.

"What if John McCain were a former president of the Harvard Law Review?
What if Barack Obama finished fifth from the bottom of his graduating class?

What if McCain were still married to the first woman he said 'I do' to?
What if Obama were the candidate who left his first wife after she no longer measured up to his standards?

What if Obama were a member of the Keating-5 (a past scandal)?
What if McCain were a charismatic, eloquent speaker?

If these questions reflected reality, do you really believe the election numbers would be as close as they are?

This is what does. It covers up, rationalizes and minimizes positive qualities in one candidate and emphasizes negative qualities in another when there is a color difference.

You are The Boss... which team would you hire? With America facing historic debt, 2 wars, stumbling health care, a weakened dollar, all-time high prison population, mortgage crises, bank foreclosures, etc.

EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND:

Obama:
Columbia University - B.A. Political Science with a Specialization in International Relations. Harvard - Juris Doctor (J.D.) Magna Cum Laude
Biden:
University of Delaware - B.A. in History and B.A. in Political Science. Syracuse University College of Law - Juris Doctor (J.D.)

versus

McCain:
United States Naval Academy - Class rank: 894 of 899
Palin:
Hawaii Pacific University - 1 semester
North Idaho College - 2 semesters - general study
University of Idaho - 2 semesters - journalism
Matanuska-Susitna College - 1 semester
University of Idaho - 3 semesters - B.A. in Journalism

Now, which team are you going to hire? "

All facts have been independently checked out by 80-20. If you like it please forward it to others.

Respectfully yours,
S. B. Woo
Member, Executive Comm., 80-20 PAC, Inc.
Please, don't be fooled by the lies. Visit snopes.com and factcheck.org and barackobama.com and discover the truth for yourself.

One last thing:
It's expected that two Supreme Court Justices will retire during the next four years--the two most liberal justices. Please don't put women in danger of losing their reproductive rights.

Please feel free to copy this and send it to your friends that might have fallen prey to the lies!!

Okay, no more politics. I swear!

October 28, 2008

Unschooling Assignment: Year Two

I've been thinking about why I haven't been blogging much lately and aside from the funk (which ended a while ago) I think the only explanation is that I tend to blog more when I'm fretting or questioning and now that I'm feeling more secure with our choice to unschool I'm not fretting or questioning as much. Lately all my fretting has been focused on the upcoming election so really, the only thing I've wanted to post has been "Please vote for Obama. Please. Please. Please." But since this isn't a political blog I haven't done it. Oh what the heck. "Please vote for Obama. Please. Please. Please." There. Glad I got that out of my system.

Now I can talk about unschooling. This is what I've realized: I completely agree with the philosophy but I still find myself dreding the question, "How is school going?" I had lunch with a good friend today and naturally she asked "the question" so I told her about unschooling and how I'm feeling about it. I talked about how strange it is to go through such a major paradigm shift and how I still wonder about how to make unschooling our own and whether or not certain habits can (or should) be taught. So that's what I think this coming year will be about. Now that I understand what unschooling means to the community-at-large my assignment will be to figure out what unschooling means to me and my family.
I've noticed lately that when I answer "the question" my first impulse is to say we're not really doing anything. That's really what it feels like. But then as the conversation continues I find myself saying "Oh, we just listened to Isabel Allende's Zorro on CD and we loved it. There was so much history in that story!" Or I mention the laser tag, book club or masquerade party we went to with our homeschool group. Or the "Rockets and Rollercoasters" class we took at the Science Center. Or the Pokemon sprites Jerry creates on the computer. Or our visit to the research lab at Cal Tech where Xiquan works. Or hearing Christopher Paolini speak. Or how cool Jerry's Japanese tutor is and how he's also a rap musician who makes music on his computer and is showing Jerry how to do the same thing. Or how we've been talking about the elections and the electoral college and whether or not the voting system seems fair. Or whether or not anyone has the right to tell two people who are in love they can't legally marry. Or that we're hoping to visit one of the homeschool dads at Activision (where he works) for a behind the scenes tour of the place where Guitar Hero was born. Or about the cool physics book we just bought. Or the secret drawer lock Thomas Edison invented that we're going to make. Anyway, you get the idea. There's no drudgery involved so I guess it seems like we can't be doing anying worthwhile. But look at all that stuff we're doing! And it's really cool and (dare I say?) educational stuff.

There you have it. That's what's been going on in my mind these days. That and "Please let Obama win. Please let Obama win. Please let Obama win."

October 21, 2008

Back From Hiatus

Last night I dreamed that I posted something on my blog. It was really good too. I wish I could remember what I wrote about because it was a the perfect way to end my two and a half week silence. Alas, I cannot. And while I'd like to say I've spent these past two weeks penning a comeback post that would blow your collective socks off, I'd be lying.

Even though I thought my funk was over back on October 3 when I last posted, it crept up on me again the following day and it was just too boring to write about so I took a break. I'm happy to say that I really am back to my normal self. I have been for a while now but I had a couple deadlines that, sadly, took precedence over posting on my blog.

The biggest, most important one was Jerry's birthday party. Jerry turned thirteen last week. We had a small party which was loads of fun once I got over my pre-party freak out. It wasn't pretty (the freak-out). But in the end, the day was a huge success and Jerry was one happy boy. One happy teenage boy. Oh. My. God. He's a teenager!!

Here's a quick list of other stuff that's been happeneing while I've been on hiatus:
  • The deck is almost finished. We just have to oil it and paint the rails.
  • Jerry went to a 10-13-year-old laser tag game with the homeschool group and had a great time.
  • We started a manga/anime club with the homeschoolers and Jerry found a friend that shares lots of his interests. She's a girl but Jerry doesn't seem to mind. :)
  • We had new bookshelves and a CD cabinet built-in to a small hallway in our house and I'm in the process of organizing all of our books. At last they can all go in the house on shelves!! No more boxes of books in the garage!
  • Pam Sorooshian is giving weekly talks on unschooling down in Long Beach and Jerry and I went to one. I'm hoping to go again this week.
  • Circus class is still happening and it's lots of fun now that I'm getting better. Once I talk Jerry into taking more video footage and I'll post a video so you can see how far I've progressed.
  • We went to see the Terra Cotta Warriors. They were commissioned by a 13-year-old Chinese emperor. They wern't as cool as we thought they'd be.
  • We went to see Christopher Paolini speak. He was awesome.
  • We took a tour of Xiquan's research lab at Cal Tech. Also awesome.
  • We got Rock Band!! We love Rock Band!
  • My parents came to visit.
  • Robin and Michelle, who we met at the Life is Good conference, came and spent a night with us. Awesome again.
  • My friend from high school, Ursula, stopped by for a visit the night before Jerry's party and helped me bake the cake and get ready.
  • I ordered a pattern so I can make myself a new dress for the Jane Austen Ball, which is coming up in January.
  • My sister (who lives in Ireland) is pregnant but she swears they're still planning on moving back to America sometime soon after the baby is born.
So that's the update. Now I'm going to go alphabetize my novels. Oh happy day!!

October 3, 2008

It's Me Again!

I'm back. As in, I think I'm coming out of my funk. What's different about today? Well, for one thing I'm still in my pajamas. I know. It could be completely unrelated, but here's the thing. I haven't felt like blogging lately, or doing much of anything really, other than feeling sorry for myself. But today I suddenly feel like blogging again. So as I was making a cup of tea this morning, I was thinking to myself, what's different about today? And then it came to me. I'm wearing pajamas.

See, since Xiquan moved in I've been having to get dressed (maybe it's better to say "dressed" since I'm still not wearing anything I could leave the house in) before coming up to the kitchen to sit at my computer. When we had girls living with us I had no problem strolling around in pjs but now that there's another guy in the house it's a different story. So I think there may be a connection between blogging and wearing pajamas! Does anyone else find they blog better in jammies? I know I can't be alone here.

So, now that I'm coming back to life I can tell you about some of the good stuff that's been happening. Yes, while I was sleeping life went on and some good things happened. I even had a hand in making some them happen--I just couldn't manage to get happy about them at the time.

Good thing #1: I'm going to be the new contact person for our homeschool group. This is my attempt to get myself off the blanket and away from the three people that I ever talk to at park day and meet some new people. I always do better in groups when I'm trying to make other people feel comfortable so if I'm there to greet new people that have called to ask me questions about the group, I'll be able to forget my own childish feelings of inadequacy and focus on making them feel welcome. That way I won't have time to feel sorry for myself. Pretty clever, eh?

Good thing #2: The deck is alomst finished! This weekend Warren and I are going to sand and oil it and paint the railings and then sometime next week someone will put in the steel cables that will make it safe for small children and then we'll be able to say the deck is finally done! Of course, I still have anxiety over the whole thing. Last night I dreamt that someone came into our year while we slept and dismantled the whole thing, then took off with all the wood. Next I dreamed that all the wood was back and we were just about to begin oiling it when it started to rain. Nightmares aside, the important thing is that it's almost finished.

Good thing #3: I have a wonderful husband. He's been so good to me this past month. He came home from work early one day this week when I was feeling especially low. He made me a CD with pdfs of the entire first year of my blog (comments included!). He's been getting home for dinner for the last couple weeks so we've actually been able to eat a meal together at the end of the day which has never happened before (unless he was unemployed) during our entire 17 years of marriage. Granted, we're not eating until 8 or 9 but we're eating togther and that's what counts. And we've been doing things together. We went to hear music at the library. We've walked down the street for dinner. We've spread out a blanket on our deck and sat outside under the four stars that are bright enough to outshine the city lights and sipped wine. We've been watching the Daily Show together at the end of the day. We went to see a movie together. Gosh, now that I'm listing all these things I find it hard to believe that I could have been feeling so low. Crazy, huh?

Good thing #4: I know I already said it but I'll say it again. My sister is coming all the way from Ireland for my birthday!!

Good thing #5: We saved two kittend from becoming coyote food. Here's the kitten update: We did end up taking them to a shelter because they were both crawling with fleas and they didn't use a litter box (one of them did but not the other). I decided I couldn't hand them off to someone else in that state, nor could I keep them here, especially since we already have two cats. I know I could have taken them to the vet and paid to get them vaccinated and treated for fleas but that would've cost a lot. So...I took them to the shelter where they will get a check up, vaccinations and flea treatment for only $68 each. I've got their ID numbers so I've been checking up on them daily and as of October 4 they'll be available for adoption. I'll probably give them a few days to be adopted and then if no one takes them I'll post bail and try finding homes for them. So that's the kitten story. Taking them to the shelter was really sad but now I'm able to see that it was the right thing to do. So that's good. (Still makes me a little sad though.)

Good thing #6: My friend Jill had a baby girl!!

Good thing #7: My friend Zefra has been calling me every day this week. She knew I needed her and she's been there for me even though she's going crazy planning her son's Bar Mitzvah and trying to open a new store in Berekley. Now that's a good friend!

Good thing #8: Jerry broke out his recorder this week and started teaching me to play.

Good thing #9: I bought running shoes and Warren and I have started walking 3 miles a few times a week. We're doing Saturday and Sunday for sure and then midweek when we can manage to stumble out of bed by 6. I know walking isn't running but it's only a hop skip and a jump away so I'm getting there!

Good thing #10: I feel like there should be an even 10 but nothing is jumping out at me here. Oh, I know! We have visitors coming! Friends from the Life is Good conference are going to stay the night after the WoW convention down in Anaheim. And my parents are coming down for a visit too. Oh my god and my friend Ursula (a friend from high school) is coming the following week. And Jerry's birthday party is coming up. And Halloween. Good grief. I'd better get off my butt and start preparing for all this activity.

Time to get out of my pjs!

October 1, 2008

An Unexpected Guest

Notice anything unusual or out of place here--aside from all the vegie bags, dirty dishes, paint pots, citrus fruits and unopened jars I mean?
How about now?
Yep, we had a surprise guest last night. We put him outside and he came right back into the kitchen. I guess he liked us. We still put him back out though--this time into a large bush where he seemed content to stay.