Category Archives: Hot Topics

A New Era of The Church Begins; The World Welcomes Pope Francis


Today in a world of instant technology, millions of eyes were glued on a smoke stack, and when white smoke was finally seen at 2:06pm (ET)…millions of eyes were glued to the red curtains. They were not awaiting a politician or a movie star…but a religious figure. In a world where there is a drastic separation between church and state, no one questioned network TV and public radio spending hours and days covering the news of a religious event. In a world where religion often takes a back seat…this was a welcome change. 

It is really hard to explain the feelings I have right now. It is just such an overwhelming feeling, I can describe it only as “epic.” This is the first year I was able to watch the beginning of Conclave and the revealing of the new Pope live and the video and pictures from the moment are so ceremonious and so beautiful, it looks likes something out of a movie. The crowd at St. Peter’s Square is filled beyond capacity. Thousands braved the cold and the rain to witness such a momentous moment in history. Once the crowd let out a roar and lights appeared behind the curtain…for those following moments, I did not Facebook, I did not Tweet, I did not text. Like millions of other people, I just took in the essence of the moment and simply watched the red curtains in anticipation for the new leader of the Catholic Church.

This was my first introduction to Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina…a man who will now forever be known as Pope Francis (the 1st). He seemed humble and very personable. It is noted that he is a known for his work with the poor and is supported among liberal cardinals. The new Pope asked the people of the world to pray for him and there was a hush among the crowd and it is hard to fathom the sense of overwhelming prayers that were offered in living rooms, in cars, at work…from people all around the world.

I don’t know how non-Catholics view this moment and I am sure some don’t understand the reason why a man is being revered my millions. But as  a Catholic myself, I feel like this is the moment the Church needed. All the reporters kept proclaiming how the Church is at a crossroads, and it is very true. I don’t think it was coincidence that Pope Francis is the first Latin American Pope and I hope the new Pope is able to guide The Church into the modern world and that he will be able to address issues, such as women leaders in the church, homosexuality, and  the decline of Catholics around the world. Being Pope is no “dream job.” Pope Francis, from this moment to probably the day he dies will be the spiritual leader for about 1.2 billion Catholics around the world. Everyday for the rest of his life, he will “learn the sorrows of the world”…he will not only have to have a “special depth of faith” that few men can handle, he will also have to govern and appoint necessary leaders to help guide and strengthen The Church. And the Catholic Church is not just “a” church, it is “the” Church which has been established in tradition going back centuries, is the beacon of faith for people from the Americas to Africa to Asia, it leads the rich and the poor, the young and the old. Tonight, regardless of the color of their skin or the language of their land, millions of Catholics will pray in solidarity for the new Pope, and I will be one of them.

NOTE TO READERS: I do NOT usually write religious based posts and will probably not write very many. While I always welcome any new followers, I wanted to put out this disclaimer for anyone who decides to follow this blog, based on this religious content…otherwise you will be a little “shocked” to read what email notifications you will be getting. 🙂

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Sandy Hook Elementary School Tragedy


cr: http://catsbabiesandgiraffes.tumblr.com/

The events of this tragedy have left me feeling drained. If you would like to read thoughts similar to mine, visit this link:

http://heartofanadvocate.wordpress.com/2012/12/17/the-sandy-hook-elementary-tragedy/

If you want to watch President Obama’s vigil speech from last night, please visit this link:

If you want to read the transcript of President Obama’s speech:

Transcript of President Obama’s speech at the interfaith vigil in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 16 in honor of the victims of the shootings at Sandy Hill Elementary. Source: White House

Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, Governor. To all the families, first responders, to the community of Newtown, clergy, guests — Scripture tells us: “…do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away…inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”

We gather here in memory of twenty beautiful children and six remarkable adults. They lost their lives in a school that could have been any school; in a quiet town full of good and decent people that could be any town in America.

Here in Newtown, I come to offer the love and prayers of a nation. I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts. I can only hope it helps for you to know that you’re not alone in your grief; that our world too has been torn apart; that all across this land of ours, we have wept with you, we’ve pulled our children tight. And you must know that whatever measure of comfort we can provide, we will provide; whatever portion of sadness that we can share with you to ease this heavy load, we will gladly bear it. Newtown — you are not alone.

As these difficult days have unfolded, you’ve also inspired us with stories of strength and resolve and sacrifice. We know that when danger arrived in the halls of Sandy Hook Elementary, the school’s staff did not flinch, they did not hesitate. Dawn Hochsprung and Mary Sherlach, Vicki Soto, Lauren Rousseau, Rachel Davino and Anne Marie Murphy — they responded as we all hope we might respond in such terrifying circumstances — with courage and with love, giving their lives to protect the children in their care.

We know that there were other teachers who barricaded themselves inside classrooms, and kept steady through it all, and reassured their students by saying “wait for the good guys, they’re coming”; “show me your smile.”

And we know that good guys came. The first responders who raced to the scene, helping to guide those in harm’s way to safety, and comfort those in need, holding at bay their own shock and trauma because they had a job to do, and others needed them more.

And then there were the scenes of the schoolchildren, helping one another, holding each other, dutifully following instructions in the way that young children sometimes do; one child even trying to encourage a grown-up by saying, “I know karate. So it’s okay. I’ll lead the way out.” (Laughter.)

As a community, you’ve inspired us, Newtown. In the face of indescribable violence, in the face of unconscionable evil, you’ve looked out for each other, and you’ve cared for one another, and you’ve loved one another. This is how Newtown will be remembered. And with time, and God’s grace, that love will see you through.

But we, as a nation, we are left with some hard questions. Someone once described the joy and anxiety of parenthood as the equivalent of having your heart outside of your body all the time, walking around. With their very first cry, this most precious, vital part of ourselves — our child — is suddenly exposed to the world, to possible mishap or malice. And every parent knows there is nothing we will not do to shield our children from harm. And yet, we also know that with that child’s very first step, and each step after that, they are separating from us; that we won’t — that we can’t always be there for them. They’ll suffer sickness and setbacks and broken hearts and disappointments. And we learn that our most important job is to give them what they need to become self-reliant and capable and resilient, ready to face the world without fear.

And we know we can’t do this by ourselves. It comes as a shock at a certain point where you realize, no matter how much you love these kids, you can’t do it by yourself. That this job of keeping our children safe, and teaching them well, is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, the help of a community, and the help of a nation. And in that way, we come to realize that we bear a responsibility for every child because we’re counting on everybody else to help look after ours; that we’re all parents; that they’re all our children.

This is our first task — caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.

And by that measure, can we truly say, as a nation, that we are meeting our obligations? Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children — all of them — safe from harm? Can we claim, as a nation, that we’re all together there, letting them know that they are loved, and teaching them to love in return? Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?

I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer is no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change.

Since I’ve been President, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by a mass shooting. The fourth time we’ve hugged survivors. The fourth time we’ve consoled the families of victims. And in between, there have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children, in small towns and big cities all across America — victims whose — much of the time, their only fault was being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change. We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law — no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.

But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely, we can do better than this. If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that — then surely we have an obligation to try.

In the coming weeks, I will use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens — from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators — in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. Because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?

All the world’s religions — so many of them represented here today — start with a simple question: Why are we here? What gives our life meaning? What gives our acts purpose? We know our time on this Earth is fleeting. We know that we will each have our share of pleasure and pain; that even after we chase after some earthly goal, whether it’s wealth or power or fame, or just simple comfort, we will, in some fashion, fall short of what we had hoped. We know that no matter how good our intentions, we will all stumble sometimes, in some way. We will make mistakes, we will experience hardships. And even when we’re trying to do the right thing, we know that much of our time will be spent groping through the darkness, so often unable to discern God’s heavenly plans.

There’s only one thing we can be sure of, and that is the love that we have — for our children, for our families, for each other. The warmth of a small child’s embrace — that is true. The memories we have of them, the joy that they bring, the wonder we see through their eyes, that fierce and boundless love we feel for them, a love that takes us out of ourselves, and binds us to something larger — we know that’s what matters. We know we’re always doing right when we’re taking care of them, when we’re teaching them well, when we’re showing acts of kindness. We don’t go wrong when we do that.

That’s what we can be sure of. And that’s what you, the people of Newtown, have reminded us. That’s how you’ve inspired us. You remind us what matters. And that’s what should drive us forward in everything we do, for as long as God sees fit to keep us on this Earth.

“Let the little children come to me,” Jesus said, “and do not hinder them — for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

Charlotte. Daniel. Olivia. Josephine. Ana. Dylan. Madeleine. Catherine. Chase. Jesse. James. Grace. Emilie. Jack. Noah. Caroline. Jessica. Benjamin. Avielle. Allison.

God has called them all home. For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on, and make our country worthy of their memory.

May God bless and keep those we’ve lost in His heavenly place. May He grace those we still have with His holy comfort. And may He bless and watch over this community, and the United States of America. (Applause.)

If you want to cry more tears and read the obituaries of the victims, please visit this link:

Newtown, CT obituaries

If you want to sign a petition regarding gun control, please visit this link:

Sign Petition Addressing Gun Control

Goodnight and much love to all my dear readers!!

And It’s Official…President Obama Re-Elected for the Next 4 Years!


It has just been announced…President Obama will serve his second term in the White House. He has just won the swing state of Ohio…giving him 275 electoral votes vs. Romney’s 203 electoral votes. All around the nation people are holding election viewing parties and they are either full of happy cheers right now or sullen faces trying to hold back tears and anger. And then there are houses like mine, which are filled with mix emotions…with some upset for Romney and others happy for Obama.

Looking back on this election season…one thing I can say is, that this election struck a personal nerve with so many people. I’ve seen family members and friends attacking each other over policies and political views. So glad that is now over. Whoever you vote for is your own prerogative and you can’t decide what is the best choice for another person. This election also had a sense of urgency…that whoever won this election would really decide the economic welfare of a nation. I voted early on Saturday and waited in line for an hour…others reported 2 hr waits…and 3 hour waits…but guess what…we all still waited. This election really showed how much every vote really counts. As a person who had to earn my right to vote, I was honored to be able to take part in such a historic election. This election, I didn’t really vote for myself because I feel like I would have been ok under either administration. As a registered Independent and as person who does not vote along party lines…I went back and forth this whole election season torn between who I would cast my vote for. As a self-employed person with 3 jobs, decent healthcare, a law degree, and secure financial standing…I realized how blessed I am. While I am not rich, I am also not poor, I don’t have kids who need to be fed, I am not affected by abortion laws or gun control or military cut backs or gay marriage…so I decided to vote on behalf of all those who had the most to lose in this election.

I honestly liked the Romney and Ryan team, so I would have welcomed him as President with no hard feelings, but I am also happy to say that I don’t have to. After tonight…my life will continue as usual. I will wake up at whatever time I want to and go in to work whenever I feel like it…I will continue  to advocate in D.C. for people who don’t have a voice…I will continue to watch kdramas and blog till all hours of the night…and no matter who leads this great country, I will continue to be free to do so. Keep in mind that whether you are happy or sad regarding the election results, you still live in a great country…and unlike so many other people around this world, you will get to show your approval or criticism for the government when you get the opportunity to cast your vote again in the next 4 years.

Vice Presidential Debate: Foreign and Domestic Policy


 

FULL VIDEO for anyone who missed it:

 

Just my quick opinion…..I didn’t take notes tonight because I was too tired and I just wanted to sit and watch the VP Debate. I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed the VP Debates and it was actually more interesting than the first Presidential Debate. Topics ranged from nuclear weapons and Syria to the economy to health care to abortion. I really like both VP Biden and Congressman Ryan. If the elections were just between these two men…it would be a tough choice. Both men were very effective and I think both men appealed to the Independent voters. VP Biden came on strong tonight!! He called Ryan out on not being specific, for not getting the facts right and I loved how he called Ryan out for personally sending him 2 letters asking for stimulus money. VP Biden also did a good job of talking to the audience at home. There were a few times where he looked directly at the camera and asked the public who did they trust and he asked seniors whether they were happy with their health care. I think this was  a great move and helps to include voters in the debate. I know some people think that Biden came off as too “fierce” or “condescending” but I disagree. I think Biden had to come on strong, especially after the show the President put on last week.

Congressman Ryan is a lot younger than VP Biden, and I think it showed tonight. Despite that, I think that Ryan was very respectful and did his best to get the conversation back to his strong points and he continued to hammer the idea that Romney would not raise taxes on the middle class and how Obamacare would affect senior citizens. I think he also made a good move when he told the personal story of Romney paying the tuition of 2 paralyzed boys that went to Romney’s church and how Romney gives more money to charity than the VP or himself combined. He tried to explain away the “47%” debacle that Romney caused, though that wasn’t as effective.

As a Catholic myself, I was anxious to hear how VP Biden and Ryan, both also Catholics, answered the question concerning how the Catholic Church has shaped their lives and their opinions on abortion. Congressman Ryan said that he believes that life begins at conception, a concept reiterated throughout every Catholic Church in the world, and abortion should only be allowed in the limited circumstances of rape, incest, and where the mother’s life is in danger. VP Biden said that he agrees with the Churches teachings and also believes that life begins at conception, but he refuses to impose his beliefs on others who may not feel the same way. While a lot of people feel that the Catholic Church is full of strictly conservative Republicans…let me assure you that it is not. Catholics are as diverse in political thinking as any other group would be and while some stand behind what Ryan said, I know just as many who stand behind what VP Biden said. I think these two answers reflected well on both men and the Catholic Church.

What are your thoughts on the VP debate??

 

NEXT DEBATE:

Tuesday
October 16, 2012

President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney
Topic: Town meeting format including foreign and domestic policy
Air Time: 9:00-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York (Tickets)
Sponsor: Commission on Presidential Debates
Participants: President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney
Moderator: Candy Crowley (CNN Chief Political Correspondent)
 

The second presidential debate will take the form of a town meeting, in which citizens will ask questions of the candidates on foreign and domestic issues. Candidates each will have two minutes to respond, and an additional minute for the moderator to facilitate a discussion. The town meeting participants will be undecided voters selected by the Gallup Organization.

 

2012 Presidential Debate: Domestic Policy


I love men in suits. I love good looking older men in suits. I love to hear intelligent men debate back and forth on what they are passionate about. So of course I eagerly awaited the debates. Tonight was the first of 3 Presidential Debates. I took notes during the debate so excuse my shorthand and if I may have left out some of what was said. I assure you, I tried to take notes as unbiased as possible. Tonight’s debate was moderated by Jim Lehrer, the host of NewsHour on PBS, and it was hosted by the Univ. of Denver in Denver, Colorado.

My Notes on tonight’s debate:

1)      What are the major differences between the two of you, in how you will create jobs?

Obama: invest in education and training, change tax codes, reduce deficits in balanced way, build up middle class

Romney: 5 basic parts -> 1) get US energy independent, 2) open S. America for trading and crack down on China, 3) work on education, 4) balance the budget, 5) champion small business and will not cut taxes for the wealthy

O: improve education system, keep tuition low, 2) lower corporate tax code, 3) look at energy sources like wind, solar, for the future

R: adamantly denies a $5 trillion tax cut and denies helping wealthy; claims gas, food, health care, etc. has gone up under Pres. Obama; wants to use clean coal, wants to open up gas lines in Alaska and bring in gas from Canada

O: Claims Romney can’t identify how he’s going to close loopholes and deductions from wealthy

R: will not reduce taxes paid by high income and will not increase taxes on middle class income; wants to bring down rates b/c small businesses are hurting b/c they are taxed at individual tax rates

O: wants to go back to Clinton’s tax cuts

2)      What are the differences between the 2 of you, in how you are going to go about taking the deficit in the country?

R: 1) raise taxes, 2) cut spending, 3) lower spending

i.    Will eliminate all programs that require borrowing money from China

ii.      Will make gov’t run more efficient by combining agencies

iii.      Claims President Obama has raised the deficit more than any other President in history

O: Said he came into the office which was already struggling from 2 wars being paid by credit card. Wants the wealthy to contribute more by raising taxes.

R: when you are in a recession, you shouldn’t raise taxes on anyone. When you raise taxes, you kill jobs. Raise revenue by providing more jobs.

O: Wants to take a balanced responsible approach. Oil industry gets $4 billion deductions…want to eliminate tax breaks for corporations. Don’t give tax cuts to companies who move production overseas. Help young people so they can afford to go to college.

R: Would like for states to manage Medicaid themselves, instead of the federal gov’t telling the states what to do with the money.

3)      Do you see a major difference between the 2 of you on Social Security?

O: The basic structure of SS is sound. Don’t overpay insurance companies and providers, which lowered prescription cost.

R: Neither President or himself, are proposing any changes to current retirees. Claims Pres. Obama is reducing the program by $760 million.

O: Claims Romney will turn Medicare into a voucher program for future retirees. Which would give a voucher to seniors who can go out in marketplace and buy their own insurance, but problem is that voucher won’t keep up with inflation. Private insurance will also only recruit healthy seniors, while the others will be limited to Medicare and in the end, the Medicare system will collapse.

R: Doesn’t want to change Medicare for retirees but wants to give people in the future to have a choice between Medicare and a private insurance company. This provides competition into the Medicare world.

O: Seniors are generally happy with Medicare and private insurance has higher administrative costs and also needs to be paid. AARP claims that Romney’s plan weakens Medicare.

4)      What is the view on federal regulations?

R: Regulations is essential for free economy. Thinks regulations should be changed in some areas and kept the same in others. Wants to replace some parts of Dodd Frank

O: The reason we are in such an enormous economy crisis is because of banks making money and churning out things, even they didn’t understand, so he regulated banks. Banks now how to repay all the help they received with interest.

R: Dodd Frank is killing small banks.

5)      Romney wants the affordable health care act repealed, why?

R: The cost of health care needs to be dealt with and said that Obama care is increasing the cost of health care and insurance. Cuts $760 million from Medicare. Doesn’t like the idea of an elective board which tells people what procedures they can get. Also doesn’t like how it kills jobs. Wants to craft a plan at the state level that best benefits the state.

O: Group plans lower costs. Agrees that Mass. Had a successful group plan under Gov. Romney.

R: Claims Pres. pushed through a plan without a single Republican vote. Elaborated on the successes of his health care system in Mass. Some studies have shown that Obama care will cause people to lose jobs. Something this big has to be down on a bi-partisan basis.

O: This plan was a bipartisan affair and in fact was a Republican idea. The elective board is a group of doctors, health care experts, etc. who will try to determine how to tackle health care crisis and make costs of health care more effective. Healthcare premiums have gone up in the past 2 years but this is the slowest they have gone up in the last 15 years. Romney hasn’t described what he will replace Obama care with.

R: That he will be keeping certain aspects of Obama care such as,  1) preexisting conditions covered 2) young people can stay on family plan.

O: Calls Romney out for not detailing what he will replace Obama care with. He claims that the reason why Romney is keeping his “plans” secret is not because they are good.

R: Wants to lay out principles he wants to foster instead of coming in and telling people it’s “his way or the highway.” The fed’l gov’t coming in and taking care of health care for the entire nation should not be the way we go with health care.

6)      Do you believe there is a fundamental difference in how you see the role of the federal gov’t?

O: 1) keep the citizens safe 2) create frameworks where citizens can succeed with free market but also thinks that if all Americans get opportunities the we will all benefit, 3) reform schools that are struggling and need more teachers

R: Mass. Is ranked #1 in schools. Role gov’t is promote and protect the constitution and declaration of independent…1) will not cut military 2) right for elders to be cared for 3)right to pursue individual dreams

7) Does fed gov’t play a role in education?

R: Wants fed’l funds to follow children

O: Completing training programs for jobs. Making college affordable

R: not making any changes to college tuitions. Questions why Pres put $90 billion in green jobs where a lot of failed, instead of putting the money into teachers and schools. Thinks we should grade schools so parents see which schools are failing.

8)      Many of the legislative functions of fed’l gov’t are gridlocked. What would you do about that?

R: Sit down on day 1 and sit with both democrats and rep leaders to work together and find common ground.

O: will take ideas from anybody who will advance middle class families. That’s how we ended up war on Iraq and closing war in Afghanistan. Initiated 3 trade deals around the world to help promote USA goods. Being a leader is about having a plan.

Closing Statements:

O: Has faith in the American public. Wants everyone to play by the same rules and gets a fair shot at everything. Promised to fight every single day for the middle class like he has been doing in the last 4 years.

R: What kind of American do you want for you and your children…but 2 paths lead in very different directions. Thinks middle class will be squeezed under Pres, there will be chronic unemployment, Obama care will change health care, there will be a $716 million cut to health care, there will be dramatic cuts to military.

My Personal Thoughts: 

Overall, I thought the presidential debates went very well tonight. I also found it interesting that Romney wore a red tie, which happened to match his crisp and strong demeanor tonight…while President Obama wore a blue tie, which also seemed to match his calm and collected attitude. The economy is a hot topic right now and both candidates know how important it is to win the middle class and they both reiterated over and over again what they would do to help out the middle class. Most Democrats love President Obama with a passion and while I can’t say that most Republicans love Romney…it seems clear that most Democrats will vote for President Obama and most Republicans will vote for whoever is running against the President.

So those are not the people who the President and Governor Romney are trying to sway. They are trying to sway and reach out to people like me, the Independents who could vote either way and who really make the difference in who wins the elections. I am 90% sure that I will be voting for President Obama this coming November….but with that being said I was extremely impressed by Romney tonight.  He came out strong, confident, and made sure to get his point across…even to the point of talking over the moderator. Even though the President called him out for not having a plan or strategy on health care and  improving job growth, I disagree….Romney did lay out the skeletons of his plan and I think Romney defended himself very well by repeating his successes in Massachusetts and by stating that he wants to work with everyone instead of making it “his way or the highway.” On the other hand, I don’t think the President came out as strong and he did not do a good job in explaining how he would get the economy back on track or even what he would do different in the next 4 years. The polls show that Romney is trailing behind the President, but I think that this debate has slowly closed that gap. The President was counting on making Romney seem less credible  but I think the President under estimated Romney tonight. From news commentary, it seems that the Republicans were very pleased with Romney and the substance of his debate. He has also  restored their confidences in him. If Romney continues to fire at the President just as strongly in the next 2 upcoming debates, as he did tonight, he will definitely win over a lot of indecisive Democrats and quite a few Independent voters and this upcoming election will be a very, very close one.

Next Debate:

Oct. 11th: Vice Presidential Debates

Topic: Foreign and domestic policy
Air Time: 9:00-10:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Location: Centre College  in Danville, Kentucky (Tickets )
Sponsor: Commission on Presidential Debates
Participants: Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan
Moderator: Martha Raddatz (ABC News Chief Foreign Correspondent)