At first glance, the essays would appear to put forth the typical liberal/conservative, point/counterpoint arguments so common in the media. Mr. Bolewicz refers to "the images of atrocities coming out of Iraq" and "the debatable mistakes made by the Bush Administration," while Mr. Hansen writes, "Praise God for the courageous leader currently in the White House."
But under closer inspection these simplistic descriptions begin to break down. In fact, the "liberal" piece states, "People who quite possibly bear the most responsibility for the current war ... are the ones you will find in your very own mirror." It goes on to comment that "the blood ... upon the hands of President Bush ... is also on the hands of each and every taxpaying American in this country." Mr. Bolewicz even goes so far as to chastise those who did not support Bush's election because they "simply didn't work hard enough to keep the Texas candidate out of the Oval Office." Harsh words, for sure, but a refreshing exercise in personal responsibility nonetheless.
Meanwhile, waving the "conservative" banner, Mr. Hansen writes simply and arrogantly, "I did not take part in abusing prisoners. Therefore, I do not own that action and am not shamed by it." Gee, it must be nice to only have to admit to American citizenship when it's convenient. Many Americans can't afford that luxury, particularly those whose daily uniforms include a U.S. flag sewn on the shoulder.
This intrinsic discrepancy really got me thinking. Remember when disciplined conservatives saw everything in black and white while the wishy-washy liberals could offer only lame rationalizations? Remember when the right preached a mantra of individual accountability while the left passed the buck and the blame? Remember when the tax-and-spend liberals guaranteed ballooning deficits while the fiscally responsible conservatives promised a balanced budget? Hell, remember when we used to see those bumper stickers that read "Grownups Vote Republican"?
Wow. Have times changed, or what?
A Tribute to Ronald Reagan
Hail to the Chief! I cannot help but smile when I think of you, Ronald Reagan. Yet I do not think of you as President of the United States but as a warm, enthusiastic, principled human being. My husband and I would love to have invited you and Nancy to our home to have dinner and to have a warm, spirited, personal, and political conversation. Bulwer-Lytton said, "Nothing is so contagious as enthusiasm; it moves stones, it charms brutes. Enthusiasm is the genius of sincerity, and truth accomplishes no victories without it." You, more than any other statesman, truly epitomized this sentiment. I particularly admired how you blended enthusiasm and humor with your beliefs so that all Americans listened to what you said even when some did not agree with you. Yes, you made us, as Americans, believe in ourselves! You always looked at a glass as half-full and not as half-empty.
The world will never forget you for your strong emphasis on freedom, personal liberty, and human dignity. Yet I shall never forget you for an additional reason. You and I have met on a number of occasions - in Iowa, Washington, and California. The first time was in California. I was attending an Allied Chemical Meeting in Los Angeles in 1978 with my husband. You were the major speaker, and after the speech, a small group of major fertilizer-company owners were invited to talk to you personally. I was invited as a spouse. I was also a new Scott County, Iowa, County Supervisor and was very interested in welfare reform as you had initiated as California's governor. I was fortunate to be introduced to you first, and we had a very truthful conversation about welfare reform, much to the chagrin of all the fertilizer people who wanted to talk about agriculture. Moreover, we had our picture taken together, so I will never forget your graciousness and the twinkle in your eye.
We met a number of times later in Washington, including during your 1981 inauguration as well as the House Chowder & Marching Society dinner in the 1980s that you (the current president), President Ford, and President Nixon were attending. Again, with your warm greeting and enthusiasm about Davenport, Iowa, I had that same feeling that I would love to sit next to you to discuss a large variety of issues. That did not happen, but I shall never forget your warm smile, devoted attention, and firm handshake.
I join others in grieving at your passing but know that you are in a better place now where there is no suffering. May God bless you, Nancy, and your family! May peace be given to Nancy as she is surrounded by beautiful memories. I wish you farewell. However, I know that you agree with the poet, "Bid me not 'Good Night'; but in some brighter clime, bid me 'Good Morning.'"
Senator Maggie Tinsman
Bush Is the Right Man
No matter how much gloom and doom I hear from the media, I cannot ignore the fact that because of President Bush's economic plan, this country is doing better than I could have imagined after the events of 9/11. President Bush is the right man for a very difficult job, a job not made easier by critics who constantly change their minds regarding their criticism. If one were to listen to the president's critics, one would hear things such as, "You went to Iraq too soon," followed by, "Why didn't you do something about terrorism before 9/11?" With critics like that, no one could win - except maybe John Kerry. He is pretty fond of flip-flopping on major issues.
As for me, I support the president who has guided me and my country through the most difficult time in my lifetime.
Jennifer E. Newman
Bringing Death with Dignity to Iowa
Most of us know of people who have died badly from incurable diseases, very much against their own wishes. In certain extreme circumstances, the State of Oregon permits its residents to choose to end their lives when faced with unavoidable, prolonged suffering. The Oregon law has been upheld despite a number of legal challenges.
The principle behind the law is not suicide, but rather dealing with a loss of autonomy. It may include directives such as assignment of power of attorney for health care and preparation of a living will, both of which are provided for by Iowa law.
In Oregon, the law provides the option of the prescription of a lethal dose of drugs when both patient and doctors have determined that death from the current affliction is both imminent and inevitable. Contrary to what some might think, this option has been chosen by only 171 people, a tiny fraction of the 53,544 who have died in similar circumstances in the seven years the law has been in effect.
If you support the power of Iowans to choose their own death with dignity, contact your Iowa legislator. To learn more about this movement, go to (http://www.endoflifechoices.org).
Len Adams, Secretary
Iowa Chapter, End-of-Life Choices