January 31, 2009
January 30, 2009
That was my comment earlier tonight to Nic. Call it gloating if you want; I'm ok with that. President Obama has shown in his first few major moves that he never got beyond Econ 101's notion that you have to put money into a system to stimulate it.
Pres. Obama's idea? Give our money to these people: third-world nationals in poverty, illegal immigrants, people who don't work or pay taxes.
Never mind that none of these groups is likely or even able to put money back into a system that they don't participate in! Third-world hunger relief? It's a fine cause, but not one that we taxpaying citizens should be obligated to give to.
Illegal immigrants? They should have no benefits given to them by our government, especially not in the form of a government check (which, in all liklihood, would get cashed in their home country, not the United States).
Lastly, the unemployed, though I myself am frequently counted in their ranks, should not receive more money when they already don't pay any taxes. I could be wrong (I frequently am), but it seems like the President wants to take my tax payments for this year's earnings and loan them into the future to fund all these projects. That's not the kind of loan I'm comfortable with. How about you?
CNNmoney had a recent article (before the package was voted down Wednesday by every single Republican representative and 11 Democratic reps as well) outlining how the stimulus package would "affect you." Take a close look at the absurd amounts of money going into rather vague projects. For example, "$32 billion for a "smart" utility grid and renewable energy production" and "$79 billion to help states offset education costs."*
Does this mean we're going to be required, no, mandated to use "green" energy, environmentally-friendly homes and vehicles? What is this, Russia?
Does the money flooding into "offsetting education costs" mean home-schooling parents will be receiving those vouchers after all, and the lessoned student population will naturally result in lower education costs? What is this, a dream come true?
It'll probably turn out to be neither Russia nor a conservative parent's dream situation. As the Wall Street Journal reported, the stimulus package "embodies President Barack Obama's philosophy... that a nation in crisis has moved beyond 'stale political arguments' over the size and reach of government."
Apparently an economic crisis is a fine time to convince taxpayers that central government should be even bigger than it is, that its almost tentacle-like reach into what should be private sectors of health care, elder care, special education, preventative medicine, housing standards, environmental concerns and so on could and will expand until Obama says 'when.'
My question is, when will this carousel ride that Democrats are on come to an end?
Not a single House Republican voted for this stimulus package; that is more than just a casual difference of opinion. The House Republicans run the gamet from extremist to moderate to liberal conservative. How then can their total solidarity not yield even a murmur amongst Democrats in the House and Senate? Do they (Dems) just not care about the 48% of U.S. voters who would not support a president with such liberal leanings?
What about the 82% of voluntarily-polled Wall Street Journal online readers- some of whom are surely Democrats, even liberal ones- who feel strongly this package will not result in our economy being stimulated? What about the stats showing that the package from last year didn't really help either? Can all these things just be ignored?
More and more I am feeling underrepresented in my government. And not just because I am a hard-line conservative, but because I am a person who believes in representational government at all! There seem to be fewer and fewer elected officials who are even remotely interested in the earnest concerns of informed, educated, passionate, voting citizens like myself.
And that worries me a great deal.
*I found another site that outlines the education makeover offered by the stimulus package. You can access it by clicking on this link.
January 20, 2009
Obama's inauguration went pretty swimmingly, so goes practically every news source today. Predictably, most of the comments are about what Mr. and Mrs. were wearing (irrelevant)*, how the new President had a little "snafu" over the wording of the oath (insignificant), and a permutated slew of "history in the making" cliches.
Missing almost entirely was mention of President Obama's plans for his first few executive weeks. But I remember when he was making plans a year and a half ago at a conference for Planned Parenthood:
"The first thing I’d do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing I’d do."
In the following months Obama also penned an open letter to the "GLBT" community, promising that he would be an ally to them if elected to our highest office in government. Here is an excerpt from an article concerning the letter:
"He [Obama] once again said he backs the 'complete repeal' of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a law passed in 1996 that gives states the option of not recognizing another state's 'gay marriages.' It also prohibits the federal government from recognizing 'gay marriage.' Ever since it was passed homosexual activists have viewed it as a significant legal barrier to nationwide legalization of 'gay marriage.' " (Here is a link to a post about this letter.)
So what about our history is about to feel the wrath of Obama's brand of change?
Marriage and family.
The first two things Obama might like to do in upcoming weeks, to prove he has the cajones to make some things really happen (and make his supporters instantly happy) is to sign the so-called "Freedom of Choice" Act and then repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.
Would he really do this, you wonder? Would he dare stamp "CHANGED" over two institutions- sanctity of life and sanctity of marriage- that are shown large support nationally, opting instead to rashly throw into question whether or not all babies are worth carrying to term and whether or not we should keep marriage between one man and one woman?
There are dire consequences to these changes that I don't think President Obama has thought through.
Are we to believe that he holds no more esteem for his own heterosexual, two-parent, two-child, long-term, monogamous marriage and family unit than he would for, say, two lesbians who, physiologically, are unable to have children and even if they adopt would be completely unable to provide a father for that child? Are we to believe that one of these situations- the one with the dad and mom and stable home- is not more statistically ideal for raising a child, than the other- two "moms" cannot provide true gender roles- which complicates a vulnerable mind inexplicably?
I am a middle-class, college-educated, liberally raised, multicultural-loving, independent-thinking woman under 30 who voted for democrats twice (forgive me, readers!); I'm in a target group for supporting the abolition of the stale, boring, traditional values of my forefathers. But you know what, Mr. President, I object to your intentions.
I value marriage and gender roles and macho men and delicate ladies. I believe all children can the opportunity to grow in love, nurtured by a mom and a dad who, though they will inevitably fail somewhere, are the only combination to provide archetypes that children need to model. And I value all of the children God makes, even when they're unplanned, even when the life of the parents is rough. There is always someone ready to hold a brand new, adopted son or daughter and love and love him/her like their own.
If you don't believe that these things are still possible, President Obama, then you don't have much hope for America at all.
*For an article that actually calls Mrs. Obama on her recession-proof wardrobe click here
Please join me in fighting FOCA (click here for link to outside site)
Please join me in keeping the DOMA intact (click here for link to outside site)
Happy inauguration (or aggravation) day, everyone!
There are undeserving people getting hired to luxurious positions of influence while earnest, hardworking people can't find a job at all.
There are babies having babies, babies killing babies, silly women trying to lead others by the power of their personalities while decent, gracious women who just want to love their kids and bake pies are demeaned as "backwater."
There are agents in popular culture who savagely force-feed us stories of murder, rape, white-collar crime, violence against the vulnerable and sexually perverse exploits while yet gentle teenagers genuinely struggle with whether or not hand-holding is ok.
In my own time and family, I have seen more emotional fallout than material struggle. There have been years of troubling, high-decibel fights, a divorce and remarriage, a difficult custody trial, drug abuse, unpredictable disease, psychological depression, two instances of jailing following arrest, too many "I hate yous" and too few "I love yous."
On the national scale, we have an outgoing President who some feel has been God's punishment on our nation because he helped us go to war. On the other hand, we have an incoming President who some feel has floated into office on a false pretense that his being black means something substantial about racism in America.
And in my own mirror, I have seen my once highly-admired beauty fall strand by strand into the sink, inexplicably, taking with it a great portion of both pride and confidence, leaving behind questions to be answered only by God Himself: How? And why? If you had asked me then, the best part of me had been taken away for no good reason.
There are many, many reasons to be misanthropic. Yet today I find myself an optimist, not a cynic. It is not because I see so many undeniably good, selfless acts committed by people every day, nor because I see myself doing similarly. In fact, it has nothing to do with people at all.
I can be an optimist only because God is One who does everything selfishly for Himself, and because I am one of His people.
"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?
January 16, 2009
"We just ask that you hear our prayer..."
Two different usages of the same word imply two very different meanings.
In the first instance, "just" implies a similarity to "only" or "merely," as in "will you merely do this one thing."
In this example we can assume that the one thing (in this case, a prayer) is either of such great importance that it is the only thing that will be asked of us, or that it is of little significance due to the minimal participation it requires.
In the second instance, "just" implies a similarity to "only" also, but in the sense that it means "simply" or "solely," as in "we simply ask this of you."
In this context it seems the significance is of a more meaningful type, such that the sole asking of this one thing will, if granted, be sufficient to the asker.
I get my first example from a very successful speaker (can't call him a pastor without diminishing the role of a real man of the cloth) who frequently asks his audience (can't call them a congregation...) to participate in "asking Jesus into their hearts." In effect this is a typical "alter call," but with the notable insertion of the term "just," with all its previous indications intact.
Would it not serve his purpose to implore the audience to pray with him without using that word? I fear he does not realize that he reduces the act of addressing God in prayer exponentially by suggesting that they are "just" talking to God.
This is the holy Lord of the universe, the Creator, the Savior, the Comforter, our Priest. And that thing they are asking of Him- a convoluted version of saving grace- is worthy of much, much more than a simple nod of the head and a pre-scribed prayer.
The act of loving sacrifice of His own Son for us is, in fact, the only hope we have in the world. It is not just anything. It is everything.
I have pondered on the use of "just" in our daily prayers, which is where I derive my second example. Are we to diminish ourselves in our asking things of Him? Are we to just thank Him?
The first answer is yes, the second is no.
In our asking of Him, particularly when it is an asking of Him to hear our prayers, we ought to be nothing but humble. We ought to simply, merely be asking of Him that He bend His ear to us. Likewise in our asking of continued sustenance we ought to do the same, with a keen observation of our position (low, bowed) in regards to Him (Most High).
However, when we thank Him, there can be no amount of praise that surpasses that which He deserves. We are not just thanking Him, unless you consider giving your whole life and livelihood up to Him as a small gesture.
January 13, 2009
Student auctions off virginity for offers of more than $3.7 million
"Miss Dylan, from San Diego, California said she was persuaded to offer herself to the highest bidder after her sister Avia, 23, paid for her own degree after working as a prostitute for three weeks.
"I know that a lot of people will condemn me for this because it's so taboo but I really don't have a problem with that.
"My study is completely authentic in that I truly am auctioning my virginity but I am not being sold into this. I'm not being taken advantage of in any way.
She added: "It's shocking that men will pay so much for someone's virginity, which isn't even prized so highly anymore."
This is certainly comment-worthy, but it's simple and direct: This is yet another case of academic "feminism" teaching a woman that her body is her own, it is property to be bought and sold, which is ok provided she's the one taking the bids.
Do I need to repeat my own condemnation of "feminism" being taught today, that it seeks to destroy everything gentle, beautiful, sincere, emotive and feminine in women?
I don't really think I do. If you've read this summation of the article and still are unmoved, there is- and I say this with all loving sincerity- something desperately wrong with you.
When I was in college I scorned images of women at "Mtv Spring Break" making out with strangers on the beach, I preached venomously against Playboy, pornography and strip clubs. But I had no compassion for these women taken under by a false sense of who they are. I would sneer and say sarcastically, as if speaking to their at-home audience, "Hi Dad/Mom, aren't you proud?" I not-so-secretly loathed their upfront sexuality, a quality I would never possess.
As Lauryn Hill said, "Don't be a hard rock when you really are a gem, baby girl."
So goes my plea to this as yet unhardened 22-year-old student who has found the "easy" way to pay all her college bills in one fell swoop: You don't know what else you are sweeping away by giving up the specialness of your virginity to someone you don't even know. If you get married your husband will know his only chance to get the key to your heart was at the highest monetary sum.
It's cliche, but still valid to wonder if this girl is willing to pay the price she's putting on herself, or on the rest of us women. Lastly, her conclusion is rather shocking; clearly virginity is worth something, at least to some men it is worth over $2 million dollars. Leave it to a "feminist" to see the physical evidence for the promotion of feminine preservation and conclude the opposite.
In 2009, please, I beg you, please stand up for real femininity in our young women!
January 11, 2009
Mr. Washer is unlike any other pastor or speaker I've ever heard in his utter devotion to preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a measured, thoughtful and, at other times, radical and emotional way. Regardless of his audience, Mr. Washer always points them to Christ, His propitiation for us on the cross and God's justice and desire for us to renew our minds in His Word.
Even if you already went to church today this sermon is worth a listen as you spend time in family worship, or by yourself in contemplation of the new life you have been given in Christ, and by God.
When is it not a good time to contemplate the new life God has given you?
Title of the sermon is, "The Rewards of Discipleship"
January 10, 2009
I went for three items; I came back with seven. I was sweltering from going in and out of the store twice (because the first time I tried to leave I realized I had forgotten to buy sleds- grr!), bracing kamikaze snow outside and hot, dry air inside. And I do love my boots, but darn if they don't keep my feet at exactly 120 degrees. A bit too warm for my liking.
I clambered at my flimsy plastic bags- already in the process of spilling my newly-purchased goods onto the wet, dingy winter car floor- and fell out of the Accord. The Accord that, to date, I have logged over twelve hours pushing heavy snow off and scraping the unappreciative windows of this winter. With snow flying in my face, I mentally prepared not to explode when N inevitably asked, "How was the trip?"
It was then that I had a completely novel idea (for me): could I go one whole day without complaint?
Now, I know at other times I might advocate this concept for other reasons, spiritual for example: as in, 'try to ask questions and be more compassionate before you get annoyed at their behavior.'
But this is not one of those times. This is a purely self-centered, self-preservative suggestion. The goal is to inhibit oneself from constantly seeing the half empty glass or only half-done pile of laundry. The goal is to keep oneself sane, or at least calm enough in her insanity to remain composed.
So, if it's going to snow twelve inches and that means people are going to drive very liberally (i.e. no turn signals or lane adherence), just let it be. Let the snow do to people's driving what it's going to do and I will accept this. I have enough experience with these kind of conditions to know just to stay home and not make myself crazy- and hoarse from yelling at them!
Here's another one: I know that no matter how much I plan out my day/week/month/trip/job, something is going to go wrong. Let it be. I should just accept that I can't control anything, so I should not be bothered when things go how they go. The thing is, they're not going wrong or going differently, because they're just going how they are going to go.
I'm not talking about letting everything be, so don't think I've gone into some shallow new age pool. All I'm saying is that, if you know that the grocery store is swamped on Saturday afternoons then go on Friday night if you can. If you know that not having everything when you walk out the door annoys you and makes you feel old and forgetful, triple check before you leave!
I'm not telling you anything you don't know. In fact, pretty much everyone could figure this out. But if you're like me- a certified hothead who is far too easily annoyed by insignificant things about life- you can cause yourself to be focused on all that sucks in life (inconsequential things, mind you) instead of everything worthy of your thinking time.
I'll try this method first and let you know if it works. For example, if Blogger refuses to save or publish this blog for me I will just save it somewhere and try again later (instead of smashing my keyboard in frustration until my janky computer shuts itself down- oops!).
January 5, 2009
"It looks like he's got his finger on the button, ready to text! Like he's saying, "How cool is this?" Oh, that's so cute."
"Yeah, he'll do the same thing with a remote control; he'll point it at the t.v. and click the buttons. He knows how to use it!"
As Neil Postman says, we should always keep one eye fixed on technology- and be wary of our fascination with it. We should always regard book reading as normal, and reading internet news sources as "weird."
With that in mind, my comment on the conversation above is, someone thinking the infant use of technology is 'cute' is just plain weird.
What's cute? That a baby is already preparing to be dependent on cell phones, computers, diagnostic machines, standardized tests and statistics? That, before they even know* anything about themselves, children know that technology is an integral part of human existence, indeed, that these are the methods by which the flurry of information they spew forth can make any sense at all?
Were the concepts in "Brave New World" cute, or downright scary? I support the latter, as well as the notion that technology should be eyed cautiously, especially in regards to what we allow our kids to use. (This is a no-brainer, given our proclivity to watch like hawks every other substance we give to our delicate, vulnerable children.)
I hear your objection to my analysis: the "cuteness" she's referring to is simply the ability of a child to mimic what they see adults doing.
But how is that an objection to my urging against the wholly doe-eyed acceptance of technology, without question, into one's daily existence and our progression as a culture? If anything, the fact that children imitate what they see without knowing the meaning or the consequences of their actions, should hit home to you the necessity of filtering what technology they use.
Apply the same consideration to technology- we don't know the meaning or the consequences of its actions- and you should now be seriously pausing.
Don't get me wrong, I love my computer (well, not my computer, which is a piece of junk, but computers in general) and the internet, Pandora, YouTube and National Review Online. I also love cars and stoplights, libraries, electricity and sewing machines. You might enjoy making a video call to grandkids far away, texting a friend on your cell phone while waiting for an oil change, or the accuracy with which a Meijer register can determine that you'd like a coupon for $2 off your next purchase of Puffs with lotion (not Kleenex, but Puffs).
For you and me alike, it's tempting to view technology as the sum of the things we love about it: the convenience, the efficiency, the deals.
But consider all the elements of technology that don't, for a range of reasons, immediately come to mind, or are taken for granted: the use of statistics, government regulated information (like the IRS), medical coding, standardized tests. Forget about the positive impact of these methods; how might they bring damage to our humanity?
Statistics show the results of many questions, so that we might see popular opinion come alive. But, what questions did they ask? And is the "popular" opinions what we should be aiming to achieve? Someone once said, "What's popular is not always right and what's right is not always popular." They may have been on to something there.
The IRS now keeps electronic files of your taxes and records. All fine and good, right? It takes up less space and it can't burn in a fire or be lost. Except that... it all could still burn in a fire, or get "lost" in the computer's data files, or be erased by accident. But the real burning question is, are you comfortable having the fate of your finances determined by whether or not the computer "says" this or that about you? If it "says" audit, then audit. If it "says" you owe back taxes, then you owe. When the personal responsibility is eliminated by a machine that stores all the answers, to whom will you object when you think the answers are mistaken?
The same can be said for medical coding, but add one element: are you comfortable being a green-tabbed, region A living, insurance 16297-33 carrying patient? Are you ok being the sum total of test results and medical histories, with actual verbal contact with your doctor or personal acknowledgment of symptoms and treatments having been made obsolete?
Lastly, consider standardized tests; what does it say about us as a culture that we value numbers and percentages above the human-to-human process of learning? Are you only an IQ number? And what IS an IQ number anyway, other than a subjective scale of measuring "intelligence." But could it be that there is more to "knowledge" than what is on the test?
Looking at testing from another angle, "No Child Left Behind" has been detrimental to our children's actual educative development because it asks only for the numbers of "passed" students to match the number of "present" students. When a child seems to have fallen behind- in major skills like reading and writing- they are spoon-fed the answers for the test by teachers who teach according to getting the "numbers game" right. Anything below what is expected of them, by testing results, is considered a failure on their behalf. So imagine their motivation for just passing the kids, even if they haven't learned what will prepare them for the next grade.
* Of course, we cannot say without some hesitation that "knowing" is a concept anyone ever comes to, given the current state of philosophy of mind, but that's another story for another day.
All these questions and more, and in a more eloquent and historical context, are to be found in "Technopoly." I can't agree entirely with his arguments, but obviously it has made enough of an impression on me to write this post. I strongly urge you to read it. Published in 1992, it will probably be at your local public library.
1. Pay off at least three substantial debts
2. Sponsor a child from world vision
3. Learn how to take good photographs (ahem! I could use help!)
4. Get my health under control: develop healthy eating, sleeping and exercising regimens
5. Put away more savings money; keep a budget
6. Spend significantly less than I earn; donate more than I do
7. Work a higher-wage job with more responsibility
8. Write with more clarity and on more variety of topics
9. Read at least 20 books; decrease dependence on computer and internet for entertainment
10. Get involved with a social group of some kind (church, hobby, charity, sport)
What do you plan on doing differently, or better, or omitting this year? Let's get creative!