My day began at 4 a.m., when I decided I was not going to get back to sleep. I took a book to another room and curled up with both it and a dog. I also opened up Facebook and found that one of my friends had been up and sharing at 2:30 a.m. — not a friend who is likely to have been ending a long day at that hour.

By 6 a.m., I was in multiple conversations, all with friends in my own time zone.

It’s Saturday. Why were we all awake?

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Coming into focus

It’s Dec. 30, and I’ve just returned from a year-end ritual: my eye exam. My eyes have been dilated, throwing my vision off a bit and making me extra photosensitive. On top of that, I left my glasses behind to get new lenses placed into them.

The result? I can barely read my computer screen as I type. My world is out of focus and could be so for two weeks, until my glasses are returned to me with their new lenses.

I apologize in advance for any typos that might creep into this blog as a result.

That said, focus seems as good a theme as any for the end of a year and start of a new one. Continue reading

Relief: Illinois has a state budget

Finally, Illinois has a state budget after more than two years without one. I, for one, am glad, even though it means my taxes will rise (gasp!) … because the truth is, they would have risen a whole lot more down the road if this state had continued to (attempt to) operate without one. Credit rating agencies were threatening to cut Illinois’ bond rating to junk status if no budget emerged by July (we’re still not assured that won’t happen anyway), and that would have caused the problem to spiral further out of control. Continue reading

Church of the Informed Citizen: Healthcare and some Illinois environmental nastiness

The much-awaited Senate proposal to repeal/replace Obamacare has occupied much of my attention this week. Here are a few articles I think do a good job of outlining and analyzing its provisions and impact.

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Church of the Informed Citizen: Feminism, feminization and more

Former FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee this week, and he and the president basically (actually?) called each other liars. But as Maureen Dowd put it in the New York Times, “the president is not in any immediate jeopardy of being indicted or impeached.” Up next, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has agreed to testify before the committee Tuesday.

There has been a lot of reporting and analysis of Comey’s testimony. The Boston Review has an insightful piece dissecting how the president’s supporters have started attacking Comey with words that portray him as a woman. It’s a sad commentary that feminizing someone in this country amounts to demonizing, denigrating and dismissing them, but it’s true. If you are interested in good government, good citizenship, and ferreting out truth, pay close attention to the language used in debating issues and discussing news. Don’t let yourself get distracted from the real issues by this sort of sleight of hand.

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Church of the Informed Citizen: More than the Paris climate accord

Regardless your position on the United States’ decision to pull out of the Paris agreement to combat climate change, How the GOP Came to View Climate Changes as Fake, in today’s New York Times, is an insightful look at the increasing influence of moneyed interests on American public policy and politics. Even Republicans who accept that climate change is real and believe we must act to stop it are largely afraid to speak up on the issue. Interestingly, among its other insights, this article tells us of a handful of GOP lawmakers who are hoping to buck that trend.

While Trump’s decision on the Paris accord fulfills a campaign promise, that doesn’t necessarily signal a trend. When his infrastructure plan comes out—it’s expected this coming week, although not with all the details in place—it won’t include nearly all the funding he talked about during the campaign. Cities, states and private businesses would have to pitch in to make up the difference: Details form the New York Times in Trump Plans to Shift Infrastructure Funding to Cities, States, Businesses.

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