Tuesday, January 28, 2003

SOTU Notes

I'm impressed. I'm not sure whether it is with the president or his speechwriters, but every time he gives a speech under pressure, George W. Bush really delivers. He was passionate without being schmaltzy and convincing without being arrogant.

My dyed-in-the-wool liberal childhood friend doesn't have a television. I was a bit apprehensive when she asked to come over and watch the State of the Union tonight, but I figured why not? I am fairly certain that it helped her opinion of the president. While she still sniggered at his offerings on the environment, she seemed intrigued by the ideas of the mentoring program for prisoners' children and HIV treatment in Africa.

I find many of the domestic programs that Bush proposed this evening intriguing, although I am not certain they all should be implemented by the federal government. However, I was most impressed by his solid explanation of the reasons for pursuing Iraq. Without revealing key sources, he laid out a sound case for containing the madman that is Sadaam Hussein and tracking down and destroying his armaments.

When Bush described the torture methods employed by Iraq and ended with the line, "If this is not evil, then evil has no meaning", I got goosebumps. Three cheers to Bush for turning in another solid performance, another attempt at explaining to the American public what we must do. A bit too much domestic pork for my tastes, but I would agree with Mark Byron and give him an A- for the evening. Kevin Holtsberry and Jason Steffens have up some good observations as well.

Monday, January 27, 2003

Sunday’s Hawkeye Bully Pulpit
Warning: long winded musing ahead

My husband, my best friend from high school, and I hit the road this weekend. We hadn’t been on a road trip in quite a while, so it was a nice, relaxing experience. Two and a half years of life in the “real world” have taught me that this is a good thing to do every couple months. Getting away from the grind and your daily surroundings has a way of relaxing you and giving you time to think.

Friday afternoon we drove due northwest, to the great college town that is Iowa City / University of Iowa. Several friends from college are in professional programs up there. Despite our grand intentions of hitting all the fine movies and musical performances in town, we really just spent the weekend talking, playing cards, and eating well. You have to love the food in college towns if nothing else – in about thirty six hours we managed to eat tasty Bruegger’s bagels, wonderful Vietnamese / Thai food, scrumptious enchiladas, and a great assortment of Indian food.

After one too many hands of spades on Saturday evening, I hauled myself out of bed around 9 am Sunday in search of worship. One quick glance at the phone book, and I decided to go to a service at one of the university-affiliated Protestant churches. Within the first three minutes of the service, I was already feeling quite uncomfortable. Why? The minister was reading aloud a bulletin from the General Secretary of the National Council of Churches calling for us to “let our hearts, our minds and our prayers be as one, witnessing to the ways of peace; witnessing to the fact that war is not the answer” on Monday, January 27th.

I did consider this statement and the obviously well-meaning sentiment behind it. I have thoughtfully and prayerfully considered the implications of the war in Iraq. I have prayed for peace, that Sadaam will come to his senses, that God will send a peaceable charismatic Muslim leader to turn around the tide of hatred spewing from the Middle East. I’m still praying for the miracle, but I doubt it’s going to happen.

To some degree, I felt this sermon was almost brainwashing. I felt like myself and others in the congregation were being scolded for thinking that there may be such a thing as a just war or preemptive measures. This wasn’t helped by the fact that the pastor launched into a sermon based on the third chapter of Jonah in which God calls Jonah to Ninevah. Basically this pastor was comparing Jonah’s situation with Ninevah to the American public’s situation with Iraq. Despite the fact that God wanted to forgive the Ninevans (spelling?), Jonah was skeptical. He didn’t think these people were worth saving, just like this pastor sometimes thinks the world would be better off without Iraq / terrorists. I believe his exact words were that occasionally he thought the world would be better off if a huge mushroom cloud rose over the region, but that he was ashamed because he had such sinful thoughts.

The preacher then launched into a series of analogies comparing the Ninevans to junior-high bullies tormenting you in gym class, church elders trying to get rid of a controversial pastor, an antagonistic work supervisor, the WTC terrorists. Yet God still forgave all the Ninveans. After accepting his love, they turned their lives around. In theory if we did the same to Iraq, we would have the same results. Along the same lines, the former bullies would now ask to clean out your locker, the church elders would instead ask to sign your petition in support of the ordination of gays, and the supervisor would become very supportive of diversity awareness and affirmative action. Accordint to this sermon, it almost seemed that this pastor thought anyone who opposed these political stances was sinful and evil.

Perhaps I should have known better. I was in a very liberal college town. If Madison deserves the moniker “Moscow of the Midwest”, Iowa City should at least be referred to as Stalingrad or another Russian city of equal stature. It still bothered me that a service could be that partisan, that I could sit in a sanctuary and feel alienated because of the political stances flying out of the minister's mouth. I considered walking out towards the end of the sermon, but I eventually decided to stay thinking that God must have brought me to this church for a reason. I stuck it out and tried to enjoy some beautiful music and worthwhile prayers.

However, the service really did nothing for my soul. It instead left me somewhat confused, a bit angry, and a little lost, thinking that perhaps I wasn’t meant to be a member of this particular denomination. Then I hopped on the Internet that afternoon and found out the NCCUSA encompasses almost ALL mainline Protestant denominations. It really left me wondering – did anyone out there experience a similar service on Sunday morning? It also left me curious as to what the Bible says about peace as the only answer. I seem to remember mention of a just war, things that were worth fighting for. I'm going to do some research on my own, but I'd be grateful if one of the more well-versed Christians out there (no pun intended) could detail these concepts for me.

I cannot say that I am yet 100% in support of a war with Iraq. I think there have been many interesting columns debating the pros and cons lately, from Peggy Noonan to Josh Claybourn. However especially in light of reports today, I am not confident that the inspection approach is working. In an ideal world, I would love to live in a peaceful society, a place where we could logically debate such opposition into a democratic regime and happily destroying their stockpiles of biochemical and nuclear weapons. I just don’t think Sadaam, Bin Laden, and Co. are reasonable. I still pray for peace, but I will fully support our military if and when the time comes for them to thoughtfully, compassionately do what needs to be done to protect America and the rest of the civilized world.

Update: Not related to my post specifically but Mark Byron and Iowa City resident Jason Steffens have offered their thoughts on evangelical Christians and the war over the last day or two.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

The Really Courageous Choice

I have been struggling with what to write in this post, but I cannot let the day go by without commemorating the 30th anniversary of Roe versus Wade. I will spare you my arguments about state's rights within the decision and jump right to the moral question here.

What do I object to most about the culture war over abortion? The fact that abortion is treated as a simple choice that no one in their right mind would deny the female gender.

This came to mind again this afternoon when Amy Welborn's blog pointed me towards an article about an older actress named Jennifer O'Neill (Summer of '42). She had come on the show to plug her “Silent No More” campaign and talk about the remorse she feels over her own abortion and how the pregnancy crisis centers she works with inform mothers about the emotional and physical risks of abortion.

Her deviation from the pro-choice mantra clearly irked most of the hostesses. As the Media Research Center notes, the female hosts on The View "politely berated" Ms. O'Neill. The transcript of the some of the exchanges on the show details the more ridiculous, unsupported comments made by the hosts. (FYI, these hosts include the special Lisa-Ling replacement guest host Ana Gasteyer, who has forever ruined my enjoyment of several Saturday Night Live characters. Big boo to their next O'Neill critical guest Katy Sagal, who is making me question my enjoyment of Eight Simple Rules at the moment).

What bothered me the most about this whole altercation (and much of the other press surrounding the Roe v. Wade anniversary this week), was that these women act like abortion is such a simple decision. Consider one of Starr Jones' brief tirades towards this woman.

“Suppose I am eighteen years old. I’m going to college. I was careless I made a mistake. My life is ahead of me and I have chosen that I want to terminate that pregnancy and I don’t want to hear from you Miss O’Neill. In the first trimester, I make the decision in seven weeks. I don’t want to hear the options. I’ve made an informed decision.”

Sounds so simple the way she puts it huh? Just choose to terminate, don't worry about over silly consequences or consider the moral consequences of what you are about to do. Just do it! So what if you were careless and made a mistake - no one has to know! Your life can go on completely as planned. Just go have a simple procedure, terminate your unborn child's chance at life, and go along your merry way no worse for the wear. Don't listen to those options, don't think about the life your son or daughter could have had.

Obviously, I feel abortion is wrong. I think it is the murder of an innocent, and it sickens me to think about how many lives our country loses each day. However as to its legality, I do not think there are simple answers. I will also acknowledge that this is a complicated subject, the idea of when life begins and when our society should allow it to be ended, and that good people can disagree on this matter. However to pretend that this is a simple personal choice and there are no moral questions here...that disgusts me.

The fact of the matter is any woman in this situation has already made a choice. Except in cases of rape or incest, she has chosen to have sex with her partner. She may or may not have chosen to use contraceptives, but regardless she should have realized there was a chance that she and her partner might create a human life.

I admire are the women who decide that they have already made their choice. They accept the fact they have created a life and decide to see their pregnancies despite whether they are inconvenient for their careers, embarrassing for friends and family, or difficult burdens to bear alone. They rearrange their lives to have these babies and support them, or they arrange to give their babies up to loving families if they cannot. I also admire the women who regret taking the starndard "pro-choice" course of action and then come out and share their stories in hopes of sparing other young women this pain and other babies this fate. These are the women who are making the courageous "choice", and I salute them this evening. May Jennifer O'Neill and others like her serve as an example to the generations to come.

Other good appropriate links on the subject:

Frederica Mathews-Green writes another great NRO column about her journey: feminist to pro-life advocate

Kathryn Jean Lopez writes about the "Women Deserve Better" campaign . (Mad props to Patricia Heaton yet again)

Chris Cotner has a rather touching post about his own personal Roe v. Wade celebration

Josh Claybourn links to nauseating comments regarding abortion made by potential Democrat presidential wannabes.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003


I am a huge fan of Jack Nicholson. I don't really know what started it. I suppose my first memory of the man is as the slick, suave next-door neighbor / astronaut in Terms of Endearment. (Short confession: T of E is one of the few girly tearjerker movies that this logical, rational twenty-five year old loves). Whether in tearjerkers, romantic comedies, or action type movies like Batman, Nicholson always seems to execute his roles flawlessly and present the characters in an interesting way. Kevin Holtsberry's assessment of About Schmidt has me intrigued and ready to go see the film this weekend. The only thing that makes me wary of this film is the sneaking suspicion I have that it's overall message is to belittle the significance of life in Midwest. Hopefully I will be able to see this movie this weekend or next and chip in my two cents soon.

Randy McRoberts and Mark Byron have some interesting thoughts about how to pray regarding the upcoming war.

Interesting discussion on whether it is moral and/or allowable for Christians to partake in alcohol. Hope to chime in with my two cents soon, but consult Josh Claybourn, Bobby A-G, Mark Byron on the matter.

Two good pro-life links: one to outspoken Hollywood pro-lifer Patricia Heaton for standing up to the no-standards folks in Hollywood again. Second, a nudge toward Tony Woodlief's column this week on protesting abortion. If you haven't checked out Woodlief's blog yet, by all means do so. He has some incredibly touching posts on there about his family and the faith he has relied on when facing tragedy in his life. (Credit for links to Jason over at Antioch Road and indirectly to MarcV over at Spudlets)

Speaking of Marc, I totally understand where he is coming from on the George Clooney fiasco. My husband used to love O Brother Where Art Thou, and I was sad to hear of Clooney's anti-American, anti-Bush remarks because I knew that would end his enjoyment of the film. It took me two weeks to convince him to see Catch Me If You Can due to Tom Hanks' omission of "under God" from the pledge. I personally refuse to see a Julia Roberts or Cameron Diaz film in the theater at this point, because I have been so offended by the unsustantiated liberal political lines that they have regurgitated in public. I can handle political involvements by Bono, Christoper Reeve, Michael J. Fox, and to some degree even Angelina Jolie. I think those celebrities have honestly given time and thought to their stances and really addressed their grievances through legitimate political avenues. But George, Julia, Cameron, Tom, Ben and those types of acting professionals can definitely count on seeing less of my family's hard-earned money in their box-office totals.

It does work in the opposite direction as well. I am much more likely to go see the movies of showbiz individuals that I respect. Now if only Arnold, Mel Gibson, Bruce Willis, and Patricia Heaton would start putting out decent movies. The South Park creators present us with a bit of a conundrum though...

Monday, January 20, 2003

Busy, busy....

Real life has been beckoning the past couple days folks. I've been traveling the past few days for my new job and celebrating my birthday with various families. Between that and maintaining some semblence of my workouts, I am exhausted. Apologies for the hiatus folks, but thoughtful reflections on these topics will follow as soon as I have a bit of time and am inspired.

In the meantime, check out this somewhat disheartening article on the "hanging out, hooking up" culture on high school and college campuses today.

Peggy Noonan has a thoughtful reflection on the Democrats and abortion, while over at National Review they have a report on how the religious left marked Roe in DC this weekend.

Interesting piece on Martin Luther King's political ideology at NRO as well. Matthew Spalding argues MLK was a conservative.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

Contradicting Viewpoints

Yet another post on the Ryan topic -- hopefully it won't be bothering me so much tomorrow. Posting about other topics should resume shortly.

I just got off the phone after finishing an argument with one of my best friends. She's doggedly liberal and just as stubborn as I am. In some ways we understand each other completely, but we are at different ends of the spectrum on so many political issues. She called me as I was doing dishes and watching the end of ex-Guv Ryan on Oprah, Part II. I made the mistake of mentioning this to her and a cricular argument ensued. You know the kind of argument that just keeps repeating itself and is never going to end, because both of you are highly unlikely to change your viewpoints and see the world the way your verbal sparring partner does? That kind of argument.

In a typical anarchical liberal mindset, this friend argued that even if done for the wrong reasons and bending the law extremely that if this sort of revolution can bring attention to a "broken" criminal justice system, then it was all worthwhile. She also basically said that I was being a hypocrite for my stance which is basically: I am against the death penalty. I am uncomfortable with it, I think it may not always be applied fairly, and I would rather not see our society putting so much of its effort into deciding who lives and dies. However, I am not entirely certain that it is WRONG. While the Christian in me has trouble with us "playing God", I do realize that there are passages in the bible which can be seen as advocating (or at least justifying) the death penalty. In the meantime though, it is the law of the land. It is the justice that was served. For Governor Ryan to indiscriminately undo that justice in the case of each and every inmate on death row...that just feels wrong to me. If the Governor had decided to subject all cases with questionable convictions to an intense public comission review and commute all sentences of those not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, I would have praised his decision. If the Governor had announced a referendum where the citizens of Illinois voted on whether capital punishment should be allowed in our state, I would have respected his choice. As it stands, I feel like he cheated his constituents, especially the victims' families.

Basically, a seemingly dishonest former pharmacist undid years of work by the judges and juries of Illinois. A judicial system that had the death penalty as an option and had applied due process to those it sentenced. This governor came along and said that because he didn't want to put one innocent man to death, let's just disregard the sentences/punishments applied to all of them. In my opinion, pardons are there to dole out to those who were mistakenly put behind bars, who have paid too high a price for a not-so-serious crime, and free those who are later proven innocent. In Ryan's case, it seems that he just decided Illinois shouldn't have the death penalty at all. While technically legal, it seems to be a morally dishonest, sneaky way to get his way. Shouldn't surprise me...just like the guv. What saddens me is that I campaigned and voted for him four years ago.

While part of me abhors the death penalty, I still feel that it should have been applied to at least the unquestionably guilty men on Death Row. Why? Because that's the law of the land until we make it otherwise. This punishment is a consequence of the crimes that they committed. The fact that these men will now live out the rest of the natural lives albeit in captivity -- strikes me as unfair when their victims' lives were ended in such grisly and painful ways.

What about it readers? Does my stance seem inherently contradictory to you?

Other interestings posts/columns on the Ryan fiasco:
Benjamin Kepple, whose take on this topic seems quite close to my own.
Bill Murchison column at Town Hall, on the details and Ryan self-aggrandization
Paul Craig Roberts hopes we really debate the morality of death penalty due to this
Pat Buchanan lets the Guv have it, noting that he abandoned Illinois conservatives long ago
David Limbaugh on the Governor's arbitrary and capricious misuse of his power

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Poisoning the Pool

One final note on George Ryan: Chicago talk radio this afternoon was discussing the fact that some in Illinois see this entire death row commutation as Ryan's attempt to poison the jury pool. If he is lauded by liberals and families of criminals nationwide, if he is a household name because of his appearances on Oprah, if he is a known controversial figure nationwide...there is speculation that this inherent bias might be enough to cause a mistrial. I am speaking of course about when George is indicated and brought to trial for the License for Bribes corruption scandal in the near future.
Oprah and George

Today was a first for me readers. I left work early to watch Oprah. Now for some women this may be an everyday occurrence, but for me this is like Haley's Comet: one of those spectacular events that definitely doesn't happen very often.

However the local papers had been chockful of reports about Oprah's visit to the Pontiac Correctional facility, and the fact that today's episode would be called "The Governor who Emptied Death Row". Just from the title, I got the impression that Oprah was going to heap plaudits and praise upon his head, and the show would physically sicken me. Yet somehow I was still compelled to watch. Oprah had three of the four men who were completely pardoned on her show. Given the accusations of torture that these men have made against the police, I wanted to turn it on and hear their side of the story.

Madison Hobley struck me as an intelligent man. The press has been heaping attention on him, as he has the best story behind the deal. Convicted of murdering his wife, child, and several others when he allegedly set an apartment building on fire, he spent almost a decade in prison. While there, he got involved with a church group lobbying for his release and met a young University of Illinois law student who became his second bride.

Listening to Hobley speak about his time on death row, I got the feeling that might be an innocent man. However, I also got the feeling that he was a bit too smooth. He said all the right things in terms of opposing the death penalty and innocence of so many of his friends on Death Row, but when he spoke of the death of his first wife...he just seemed cold. No tears over the fact she was killed, no comments about how he missed her for years, no anger that he was the one convicted of the crime when he'd lost so much, just nothing. Somehow, I just got a gut feeling that something was a bit off.

The other two men just rubbed me the wrong way. They were full of comments about how their feelings were hurt and they wanted to see people stop lobbing "hurtful" accusations at the Governor for the good thing he has done. The things that allegedly happened to these men in questioning...the beatings, baggings, racial slurs -- there are no excuses for such tactics. We should expect more from our law enforcement. At the same time though, I am not entirely convinced that such beatings occurred. Even if they did occur, I do not think that destroys the fact that these men were convicted with evidence in a court of law.

Although Oprah came off in some respects as "siding" with the pardoned men, I was impressed by her broadcast of conversation with the victims' families. In letting them speak to the governor and vent their anger, Oprah helped me understand what the victims' families are going through better than any member of the mainstream press has.

One thought that came to my mind during the show: Oprah asked each man, "Do you feel free now?". At least one gentleman commented that after so many years of being locked in that 12 x 8 foot cell, he still really did not feel free. Even if he didn't feel free all those years, he had an existence. He had food, water, TV, opportunities for spiritual growth. Even if it was a limited, constrained existence, it cannot have been THAT terrible. He was still alive -- which is more than I can say for the victims of the guilty murderers among the 172 inmates. Many of these women, men, and children would have jumped at the chance to stay alive and live in that cell.

My biggest problem with Oprah's show? The fact that she reports many of Governor Ryan's statistics as FACTS about the inaccuracy of Illinois's judicial sentencing. That slant is evident in her description of the "Story behind the show" here. Check it out, and if you are really interested tune in tomorrow for her presentation of the victims' side of the story.

p.s. I can't go further on this topic tonight, but Ben Domenech has a lengthy post on Ryan, the death penalty, and respect for life that sums up my sentiments almost perfectly. John Sullivan has a great piece on why Ryan is NOT courageous in any way, and as well. Great debate in the January 12th-14th archives of the Corner as well. Mark Byron has some interesting comments

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Brief Intermission...

I have been fighting migraines and some sort of virus all weekend. Hope to get back into the swing of things and post on Guv Ryan (which still has me fuming a bit) in a day or two. Until then...enjoying the last few minutes of Republican control of the Illinois government, Illinigirl.

Saturday, January 11, 2003

On a lighter note

This is no big surprise. As a home renovation junkie, I had to post this. Thanks to Ben Domenech for the link.

take the which one of the trading spaces cast are you? quiz!

Friday, January 10, 2003

Cannot Get Started on George Tonight

It's just been one of those days that makes me embarassed to be a Republican from Illinois. Cannot get started on the whole George Ryan post this evening. Too late...must sleep. He pardoned four Death Row inmates today, and the rumor is that tomorrow he is going to commute all the sentences of Illinois Death Row inmates to life in prison. While this may be constitutional, it just doesn't seem fair in my estimation. The laws and courts are there for a reason. The governor is not there to deem all their decisions worthless and make his own sentences. Can one of the lawyer types (Bobby, Josh?) take a stab at explaining why George Ryan is able to do this?

I have spoken of this previously, and I will echo my two cents again. George is looking to make liberals and the media love him. He leaves office next Monday (for Rod! so help us all), and there are rumors that he will be the next indictment in the Illinois license for bribes scandal. I sincerely think this whole death penalty re-examination is his attempt to make it very difficult for the federal authorities to indict him. If he happens to win a Nobel Peace Prize in the process, all the better for his ego. Hey if they'll give Jimmy C the prize, anybody can win one. More on this tomorrow.

Update: As most know by now, George pardoned all 167 from Illinois's death row on Saturday. Still hoping to write on this soon. Mark Byron offers his two cents on the matter here.

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

The Bachelorette's Dilemma

So I took the bait and sat down to watch the Bachelorette premiere this evening. A little background here: I have never "followed" The Bachelor. Each season, I have tuned into the last two episodes of each show: the "Women Tell All" episode where the whole season is recapped and the final episodes where the men made their "decisions". Along with everyone else, I wondered why these women would subject themselves to such public humiliation for the chance to be proposed to by a man they hardly knew, with the eyes of the entire country upon them. Even worse, how could they think that they would find a lasting love under such circumstances? What were those girls thinking?

I had to watch tonight, just to see what on Earth would compel these guys to be the eager beaver contestants. In classic feminist theory, I'm sure this sequel is great. Trisha gets to be in the drivers' seat this time and exact her revenge on the male gender. The women have the dating power for once! Alas, I must be the worst feminist in the world. I turned off ABC with my heart breaking for the rejected male contestants. Perhaps it's just because I saw all these men introduced or perhaps it was because they'd chosen 25 guys who had developed enormous crushes on Trisha while watching the Bachelor. Maybe it's because most of the men just seemed like inherently good types, really eager to have families of their own, willing to try anything to get this woman to notice them. I didn't feel too badly for the smooth-looking guys under thirty who just wanted a date. Quite honestly, she "kept" most of those guys. I felt for the forty-something salesman Matt who just had to try to win her heart, the thirty-something small business owner who had closed up shop for a few weeks to be on the show, and the airline pilot Eric that "thought he had made a connection" talking about how they both grew up in St. Louis.

It really made me question why society has bought into this instant-looove concept The idea that marriages can be made on "reality television", based on chemical attractions, and tested over the course of a few dates for compability. It made me wonder what's wrong with our society or our dating process, that so many thirty-somethingpeople are out there so lonely and desparate. Is the Bachelor phenomenon a result of our society's emphasis on staying young and unattached as long as possible? I don't really have an answer, but I'm definitely pondering such questions.

Who did I not feel sorry for? Bachelorette #1 Trisha. It irked me how she described meeting the adoring throngs as magical, and then broke into tears after giving out the last rose, whispering to the producer that "It hurt her to realize she'd made those ten men feel bad. While I think her feelings were totally natural...well duh! You've been in this position before. The idea of the show is that you narrow it down from 25 suitors to 1. It's just that in the name of gender equality, we're making you the bad guy now. You are the one who sends them packing. Suck it up or don't sign on to do the show.

I'm not sure I can watch The Bachelorette on a regular basis. By boosting its ratings, I think I would feel like part of the problem. We have enough issues in our world at the moment -- we don't need to create more! But I will tell you that the preview of the entire season looks interesting. The men she kept are an interesting assortment -- some smooth operators, a cowboy, a couple firefighters, and a class-clown riverdancer among them...expect lots of (tom)cat-fights and broken hearts.

p.s. Benjamin Kepple has up an interesting related post on the sad state of (mostly reality) TV offerings in 2003 if you are interested.

Apologies that postings have been a bit slow around here lately. This is prompted by several factors, but the major one is my return to the gym this week. My workout Monday went fine, but Tuesday's attempt was a disaster. First I hit the lockers and completely changed clothes only to find...no gym shoes. Then as if that weren't enough, last night's incredibly blustery prairie wind managed to slam the lid of my late-90s Dodge Intrepid's trunk down onto my noggin. Ow. I spent the rest of the night lying on the couch doped up with a couple Advil. The dangers of New Years resolutions, I tell you...

In other news, my gym is blessed with a 5-screen CardioTheater entertainment center, so I have been catching up news programs that I would otherwise not watch in a million years. This evening's selections: ABC News with Peter Jennings, ESPN Sportscenter, CNN Lou Dobbs Moneyline, NBC News with Tom Brokaw, and a Charmed rerun old enough to feature Shannon Doherty.

So what have I been missing on those programs? Apparently nothing. I lacked headphones to listen, but I could tell that they were all featuring the same stories: the NC commuter crash, South Korean protests, crazy Matt Hale. Basically it was nothing I hadn't heard about via online news sites hours before. The Internet seems to be making newscasts more irrelevant each day.

Except one thing did strike me as new and different tonight. Did anyone see the story last week arguing that all Internet polls inherently lean Republican? While I agree that this is generally true, I did find the exception to this rule while on the elliptical trainer this afternoon. A Lou Dobbs Moneyline poll broadcast the following results from their online poll yesterday: "Which economic stimulus package do you prefer? Thirty-four percent of you said the president's; 66 percent said the plan of the Democrats'" For some reason, I'm not buying these poll results as fair and balanced. Perhaps because very few moderates and conservatives subject themselves to CNN anymore? Unless they are a captive audience, trapped at the gym or airport.
Pontifex Maximus Revulsionus

One of Illinois' poorest excuses for a human being has made the news yet again. Matt Hale was arrested today in Chicago on charges of solicitation for murder and obstruction of justice. Apparently his little group was upset because U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow ordered Hale's World "Church" of the Creator to stop using that name and remove it from all their materials. Hale claims that none of them would destroy their 'religious texts'. He could face up to 20 years in prison, and I for one hope a judge nails him and makes him serve every minute of it. Hale's brand of hate is the sort of racism that this country should focus on eradicating, not misguided remarks by old men.

Note to reporters: as of December 9th, the World Church of the Creator had moved its headquarters to Wyoming. Technically this means it cannot be not based in East Peoria, Illinois. Please make note and stop linking this poor town to such a notorious, disgusting man.

Sunday, January 05, 2003

How Taxes Work...

I received this a few days ago from a co-worker, a fellow member of the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. It's something to consider as we gear up for the next big battle over the president's tax cuts. The forward claims that the author is a Professor T. Davies, who is indeed listed as a business professor on the University of South Dakota website.

"This is a VERY simple way to understand the tax laws. Read on - it does make you think!!

Let's put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand. Suppose that every day, ten men go out for dinner. The bill for all ten comes to
$100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men -- the poorest -- would pay nothing; the fifth would pay $1, the sixth would pay $3, the seventh $7, the eighth $12,
the ninth $18, and the tenth man -- the richest -- would pay $59.

That's what they decided to do. The ten men ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement -- until one day, the owner threw them a curve (in tax language a tax cut). "Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by $20." So now dinner for the ten only cost $80.00.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes. So the first four men were unaffected. They would still eat for free.
But what about the other six -- the paying customers? How could they divvy up the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his "fair share?"

The six men realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, Then the fifth man and the
sixth man would end up being PAID to eat their meal. So the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay. And so the fifth man paid nothing, the sixth pitched in $2, the seventh paid $5, the eighth paid $9, the ninth paid $12, leaving the tenth man with a bill of $52 instead of his earlier $59.

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to eat for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings. "I only got a dollar out of the $20," declared the sixth man, but he, (pointing to the tenth) got $7!". "Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth man, "I only saved a dollar, too, ........It's unfair that he got seven times more than me!". That's true!" shouted the seventh man, why should he get $7 back when I got only $2?" The wealthy get all the breaks!". Wait a minute," yelled the first four men in unison, "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up. The next night he didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered, a little late what was very important. They were FIFTY-TWO DOLLARS short of paying the bill!

Imagine that!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college instructors, is how the tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table anymore. Where would that leave the rest?

Unfortunately, most taxing authorities anywhere cannot seem to grasp this rather straight-forward logic!

T. Davies
The University of South Dakota"

Thursday, January 02, 2003

That's it for tonight...

I had a nice, thoughtful rundown of recent links out there, but my husband's computer decided that I wasn't going to publish it this evening. The black screen of death has spoken, and I am retiring for the evening. I'll try to add some real commentary tomorrow though. Until then...
IG's Personal Resolutions

The start of a New Year gives us a nice opportunity to take stock of our lives. If nothing else, the end of the year has helped bring some things into focus for me. While I have taken stock of the many blessings in my life -- a great new husband, a healthy family, stable employment, a promising opportunity at work, a great church family -- I can also see the areas in which my life is lacking at the moment. I'm going to share with readers here in the hopes that you'll be my "accountability partners" so to speak, and I will do my best to keep you posted on my progress. Here goes...

1) To make more time for devotionals and bible study. One of the areas of my life that I really struggle with is balance. Particularly when I get wrapped up in schoolwork (as I was from November to mid-December), I tend to neglect my spiritual growth. It's been about six weeks since my last small group meeting, and I definitely miss the discussion and fellowship. Also, I just haven't been devoting the kind of time and effort necessary to my personal devotionals. My husband is going to be a help here, as we're hoping to start a couples' study together, but I need to take responsibility for my own development as well. (Just noticed that Mark Byron has up a link to Gary Petersen's Daily Bible Study Online, which could be useful here).

2) To work out three to four times a week and run two 5K races this year. As some of you may remember, I trained for and eventually ran a 5K last July. After three months sans excercise, I have realized that working out is an incredibly rewarding investment of my time. Not only does it make me feel better physically, it leaves me more energetic, optimistic, and able to concentrate.

3) To put some time and effort into exploring my interests in politics and writing. As much as I like my job, I still feel like something is lacking in my life. Perhaps it's that my talents might be more useful to society and God in a different setting. I'm going to put more time and effort into my writing (both on the blog and perhaps elsewhere), which will hopefully result in some more interesting posts here. I feel that I've lost some of my fire and thoughtfulness as of late. I also hope to explore different arenas of politics where my skillset may be useful.

4) To take joy in the opportunities that life is affording me whenever possible and be less of a pessimist.

Perhaps they are pie-in-the-sky goals, but sharing them in print seems to make them more real somehow. Wish me luck and keep me in your thoughts and prayers as the year progresses.