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Silenced Press Equals Fractured Freedom

25 Feb

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“I’m not teaching you what to think; I’m teaching you how to think,” emphatically stated my professor in class after class. We got it—not what to think, how to think. His assignments—papers mostly—asked us to draw deep from the well of knowledge we gained and discover our own conclusions.

In retrospect, it was one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned—teach people how to think, not what to think.

It carried over into my years of ministry. By teaching the Bible, I asked open-ended questions, presented historical data, and put some “what if’s” into the mix. God offered humanity free will—to choose or not to choose a relationship with Him. He gave us all the information, though we may not understand it, but didn’t force us to believe it.

As I survey the political landscape, I see our right to freely think being slowly taken away. See, it’s not that we can’t think what we want; it’s just that we’re are being told WHAT to think, not HOW to think.

Whenever someone disagrees with our new volatile President Trump, they are called out by the biggest bully in the world. For example, CNN has been repeatedly called “fake news” and The New York Times as “failing” on the Twitter account of the President of the United States. As a former middle school youth leader, I can honestly say I’ve seen more mature language on Instagram between feuding middle school girls.

Most recently, on February 24, “Fake News” and “Failing” along with other media outlets including Politico and BuzzFeed were excluded from Sean Spicer’s press gaggle, while other right wing news outlets were allowed to attend. When I was a college journalism student, CNN and The New York Times were THE STANDARD for televised and print media, yet now they are demonized for printing so-called lies and “making up sources.”

Trump’s repeated criticism of the media sets up a dangerous platform for him to become a dictator-in-chief. One of the first tactics used by dictators is to discredit and silence the opposition. The most troubling part is that many believe Trump as he tells people what to think, not how to think. If someone disagrees with Trump, they are removed or “reassigned” from his staff for “not supporting his agenda.”

But what if CNN, the NY Times, Politico, Fox News, and all the rest of the media are telling the truth? What if we do have a compromised relationship with Russia? What if things are chaotic in the White House? What is there’s a bigger problem in America that Trump just doesn’t what us to see? Smoke and mirrors work just as well for politicians are they do for magicians.

As you read my thoughts, I’m not telling you what to think, I’m asking you to just think. Look at the facts from all the different news organizations, the headlines and stories vary, but the news isn’t all that different. Trump’s Tweets are out there. Read them and think about them. I hear his supporters say that he just tells it like it is. I appreciate honesty, but I also value words and language. They can pull us up or drag us down.

Let me ask you—are Trump’s words elevating our nation or dragging us into civil chaos? Moreover, is Trump telling us what to think by silencing and discrediting the media or is he allowing us to look all all the sources and decide for ourselves?

A nation that cannot think for itself, where free press and free thought are stomped upon, is a nation that is not truly free. It’s a nation of fractured liberty where liberty and justice for all is a slogan of the past, not a right for the future.

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Doggone that Mitt Romney! (We don’t take animal abuse lightly)

11 Jan

Photo by ABC's Emily Friedman

Even though I’m an Independent and feel that my personal interests in social programs might be best served by a Democratic President, I still eye the Republican candidates with interest.  As an INDEPENDENT thinker, I like to look at all the candidates and chose the one that I feel can best serve my country.

I’ve already said that Newt Gingrich makes me sick.

I like what I’ve heard from Ron Paul.

And I’m not sure about Mitt Romney.

Well, friends, I am now sure that I will NEVER vote for Mitt (and not just because “President Mitt” sounds silly).  Apparently, Romney is an animal abuser.  According to several sources (check out this Huffington Post article), in 1983, Romney strapped the family dog, an Irish setter named Seamus, to the the top of the car in an airtight container for 12 hours.

If you’re a dog lover like me, you probably just screamed, “WHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAT?!”

Of course, we all make REALLY STUPID mistakes.  So Romney has a chance to redeem himself when questioned about this incident by Chris Wallace, host of “Fox News Sunday.”  Watch the clip below.

Well, that clears *THAT* up!!!

Because Seamus LIKED it…apparently.  Umm, my dogs also like run freely off the leash IN THE STREET…that doesn’t mean they should do it!  Besides, just became a dog is trained to go into the kennel doesn’t mean the dog likes it! 

And, why doesn’t Romney know Massachusetts law?!  I mean, isn’t it the President’s job to KNOW the law and ENFORCE it, at least by example?

Perhaps this law wasn’t in the books in 1983, or perhaps Romney was ignorant of the law.  I mean, who of us hasn’t violated a law on purpose or pled ignorance?

I can understand if Romney humbly admitted that he made a mistake and said that he no longer does this sort of thing.  I’d still feel uneasy about a man with such poor judgment.

But, no, Romney laughs at this “silly misunderstanding” leading me to believe that he’s a pompous, arrogant fool.

Look, Mitt, dogs are trusting creatures, who think that you have their best interest at heart.  You didn’t have Seamus’ best interest at heart, don’t admit that you made a mistake in tying your dog to the roof in an airtight container (Exactly how does a dog breathe in an airtight container anyway?), and you went to the Grinch’s School of Dog Care.

As the owner of two precious canines, I can confidently say that you lost my vote.  Not that you ever had it.  If you can’t treat a dog humanely, how am I supposed to trust you to treat the American people any differently?

Why Christians Can “Celebrate” Osama’s Death

2 May

“Death of OBL reflects the world’s universal longing for justice. We want a God of love, but we also want a God of justice.”

–Dan Darling via Twitter (@dandarling)

Since the news broke last night about the death of Osama Bin Laden, there has been a flurry of reaction—some patriotic, some celebratory, some hilarious, some warning, and of course, some articulating the “Christian” response to Osama’s death.  According to some individuals (who I don’t want to call out and “flame” on this blog post), because Osama Bin Laden was a human being created in the image of God (a fact I don’t dispute), Christians should not be celebrating his death.  He was, after all, a human being.  In fact, the only “Christian” responses I’ve read on the blogosphere are ones condemning Christians for being happy because, they claim, Jesus would not celebrate Osama’s death.

Honestly, I don’t know what Jesus would have done.  While I can’t envision Him dancing around with a flag and a tacky patriotic T-shirt (His allegiance was to God after all, though He did render unto Caesar what was Caesar’s), I also cannot say that Jesus would not approve of Osama’s death.  Since there is no actual depiction of Jesus and the death of a human terrorist in the Bible, I guess we’ll just have to divvy up the Bible verses between this side and that and try to make sense of this whole thing.

And that’s the funny part—I’ve got my verses talking about how God hates  injustice, my Old Testament stories about how God smite “mighty” tyrants (like how Pharaoh’s heart was hardened against God, which I would argue, is probably also the condition of Osama’s heart), and a slew of other Scripture to back up my position.  The other side has verses about how Jesus calls us to love our enemy and do good to those who mistreat us, but then again, aren’t we talking about interpersonal conflicts?  Jesus also said there would be wars and rumors of war…and He didn’t usher in the peace that everyone was calling for.  In fact, He brought a “sword.”

Therefore, I don’t think either side can really lay claim to the biblical position because I’ll match you Bible verse for Bible verse.  We can argue this thing all day and all night.  So I’m not going to do that.  In fact, I’m not even interested in debate.  I merely want to say this—to those of you who, like me, are tired of other Christians trying to make you feel guilty for being happy about a very bad man being killed, you are not alone.  In fact, you may find much justification for your feelings in Psalms and the Old Testament (which some have conveniently thrust aside).

My breakthrough came from a high school girl named Janette, who tweeted this: “’When the wicked perish there are shouts of joy’ Proverbs 11:10.”  She told me that she felt bad about celebrating until she found this verse.  Interestingly enough, Janette’s older brother is in the Air Force and has served overseas fighting in the war on terror (or whatever we’re calling it these days.)  Despite her family allegiance, she sought a higher allegiance—one to her God.

I am not saying that Janette’s verse or conclusion settles the argument—that would be oversimplifying the whole debate.  I am merely pointing out that there is another side to the “Christian” response—one that understands that to bring justice, social or otherwise, evil must be destroyed.  Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we know that evil will be destroyed once and for all, but until then, we simply do our best to understand how to live in light of what Scripture and God reveal to us.  Unfortunately, we all seem to have varying opinions on what that is. And my opinion is that we Christians can celebrate the death of Osama Bin Laden, for it is a picture of when our Warrior God will destroy Satan and his legions.  One day we Christians will be at a miraculous party, a wedding feast, for the royal union of Christ and His Church—after He vanquishes the villains.  Now that’s something worth celebrating.

________

Here’s a post my grad school professor, Dr. Phil Monroe (call him “Dr. Phil”) wrote titled, “What is the proper response to Bin Laden’s death?”  I believe that Dr. Phil and I are saying the same thing, but being as he’s highly intelligent and much more eloquent, so he says it minus my tongue-in-cheek.

________


On a completely different note…I can’t help but sharing some of the funny (and touching) Tweets I’ve read about the death of OBL in the same post.  I don’t want to overplay the “Osama is dead” thing, so you get a mixture of both sides of my personality in one bite.

In no particular order, here we go:

@Reuters: U.S. official says loss of OBL puts al Qaeda on path of decline that will be difficult to reverse.

@jaykrul: The joy is not that he is in hell but that he can’t destroy other peoples’ lives.

@jimmyfallon: Got Bin Laden AND interrupted Celebrity Apprentice? Win for Obama all around.

While waiting for the President to officially announce OBL’s death @jenbjones said “News folks are now reading tweets to stall for time. All they had to do was ask me to sing. I have numbers ready just for times like this…”  To which I asked what number she had prepared.  Jenny’s response, “I’d do my Born in the USA/Material Girl mash-up. It’s only half relevant, but the costume is very sparkly.” (Read her blog at JennyBJones.com.  She’s a laugh riot!)

@amysondova I might just unfollow the next person who tries to make me feel guilty for being happy about the death of a VERY BAD man. (That’s me and I think I’m funny because a lot of people RT’d this!)

@KatDuncanPhoto: Obama didn’t address speculation that bin Laden was killed by a blue bird that turned into 3 blue birds just before hitting the compound. (Angry Birds game referece)

@AmandaStratton: The girl married her Prince. The bad guy is dead. It’s a real Disney weekend here on Earth.

@ArizonaNewsnet: Historical note: Hitler death announcement also came on May 1 (1945).

@nimprojects: Is Obama also going to announce who got fired on Celebrity Apprentice?

I can’t find the Tweet, but Harry Potter nerds all over the place will appreciate this one (paraphrased): “Apparently Obama’s birth certificate was Obama Bin Laden’s final horcrux.”

Tweeted on Monday afternoon–@owlcity: Wait, what? Did you guys hear what happened to #Osama???????

So, what’s your response to Osama’s death (without getting too heady)?  What’s your favorite Tweet or something funny you heard?  And what do you think about the U.S. burying OBL at sea at 2 AM Monday morning–does that scream conspiracy theory to you?

Updated Review Policy and My Love Note to the FTC

10 Mar

Hear ye, hear ye!  I have updated parts of Backseat Writer’s Review Policy and added a bit of plain speak to my FTC Disclosure.  Read on, you know you want to…

REVIEW POLICY

Request for reviews/interview/marriage proposals can be sent to amy@backseatwriter.com.

Why, yes, I would love to review your album, book, movie, or product!  Due to time restraints, that book I’m eventually going to write, and my personal preferences, I may not be able to honor all requests for reviews, interviews, or Nigerians who want to wire me money.

Before you hit me up with your latest and greatest, please note that I will only accept music for review (and artist interviews) that is downloadable or send to me via snail mail.  Additionally, I will only accept books that are readable on Kindle or sent to me in hard copy format (again, in the mail).  My reasoning?  I need my music and reading material to be portable—to go with me where I need to go.  That’s how I live life and that’s how I review materials.  I cannot be chained to my computer listening to music or reading books.

Additionally, I retain the right to accept or reject all materials based on quality of content and whether or not I believe the materials fit in with the vision of Backseat Writer.  Usually I can tell whether or not something is a good fit by the press release and I will tell you so before you send materials, so feel free to send your queries to amy@backseatwriter.com.

I also added this to that terribly interesting FTC Disclosure or what I like to call “My Love Note to the FTC”…

I do not get paid to do reviews or interviews (though if anyone wants to hire me for freelance work, I’m listening.)  I do not accept money in exchange for posting press releases or endorsements.  All content is generated for the pure love and joy of writing!

Links included in posts are for informational purposes only and are never composed for the purpose of including advertising.

No record company, publisher, publicist, band, artist, hobbit, or gnome will ever influence the content, topics, or posts made in this Backseat Writer, though they may inspire a few!

Any time you want to review parts of my publications policies, you can click on the “About Backseat Writer” tab and read your little heart out.  It is slightly more interesting than watching paint peel.

Dora the Explorer Fuels Arizona Law Debate…and I don’t know what to think.

22 May

Debbie Groben, FreakingNews.com/AP

Now that Dora the Explorer is the poster child for Arizona’s Immigration Law, I decided it was time to put a stop to this mayhem and foolishness.  According to this article , some people with more time on their hands than me have Photoshopped a smiley Dora into a mug shot.  Dora features a black eye, apparently from a tussle with the U.S. Border Patrol.  Really?!  Are you kidding me?

First of all, Dora is a CARTOON character—as in she’s not actually real, despite her mega-million dollar marketing franchise.

Second, if Dora was indeed a real little girl, she might very well speak Spanish and talk with a slight Latino accent.  I have no idea where real Dora would live—in a Latin American country?  The United States?  Canada?  Australia?  It’s a mystery! I happen to live in an area that has a large Latino/Hispanic population—most of these people are not illegals.  They just speak Spanish and sometimes have accents.

Third, Dora’s a world traveler, who obviously needs a passport to get around.  I mean, the ONE episode I watched of “Dora the Explorer” featured Dora speaking to some Amazon River dolphins, which are pink.  Clearly, Dora gets around.

Bringing Dora the Explorer into the immigration debate is as ridiculous as it gets, but then some see the Arizona Immigration Law the same way—ridiculous.  Personally, I don’t know what to think.  At first, I thought, the law might be a good thing.  I mean, if I go to a foreign country there are a many times I might have my passport checked? (OK, that’s what the ladies on “The View” said.  I went to Canada twice.  I’m not really a world traveler like Dora).

Then I read my blogger friend Richard Daley’s post on how he feels about the Arizona law.  Daley, who was born in Trinidad, quotes Eugene Cho who writes, “It means that if I’m ever in Arizona, as a foreign national, I pretty much have to justify my right to be in this country whenever I interact with the law. Which says to me that I’m not wanted here, and it would really be more pleasant for everyone if I left.” That struck a nerve.

I want to say, “No, no!  We want you here.  We are proud to welcome you into our country.  I mean, that’s how my ancestors came to be here.”  On the other hand, I do not like the idea of Mexican gangs and drug lords infesting our country with guns, drugs, human trafficking, and other such nonsense.  Do I care if a guy is working on a farm and sending money home to his family?  Of course not.  How about the French student who “forgets” to renew his student visa?  No.  And, of course, I welcome people like Richard and Eugene Cho with open arms because they are fascinating people.

But I do not welcome those who kill, maim, and destroy our American way of life, which threatens not only our citizens but our friends from other countries as well.  Immigration is the very foundation of our nation and we should never forget our roots.

So, I’m interested, what do you guys think about the Arizona Immigration Law?  Also, what do you think of this Dora the Explorer situation?

Book Review:: Tea with Hezbollah by Ted Dekker & Carl Medearis

29 Jan

I always thought sitting down with chocolate chip cookies and a cold glass of milk was key to peace in the Middle East—if only we could all agree to sit down together. That’s what Carl Medearis suggested to novelist Ted Dekker one evening over dinner—only the pair would drink tea, a popular drink in the region, with the likes of Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Samaritans.

Tea with Hezbollah by Dekker and Medearis is the travelogue of the duo’s adventure into Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, and Israel to meet with some of the most dangerous key players on opposite sides of the Middle East conflict. The result is a fascinating book, which culminates with a visit to the 700 remaining Samaritans who occupy an area just outside Tel Aviv. Written primarily by Dekker, the book is a fascinating look into the world of Arabs, Christians, and Jews who are confronted with Jesus’ second greatest commandment—to love one’s neighbor. Dekker also weaves together the story of a girl named Nicole, an American who seeks to find her roots in the ghetto of Beirut.

Through Medearis’ extensive contacts g in the Middle East region, Dekker and Medearis are able to meet with everyone from Osama Bin Laden’s brothers, who think Osama is a jerk, to Sheik Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, known to Westerners as the political voice for Hezbollah. To me,  the most interesting parts of the book were not the interviews with Hamas leaders or sheiks, but the thoughts of every day people such as the scholarly Dr. Micah and Sami Awad, a Christian living in Bethlehem (not Pennslyvania—the one where Jesus was born) who embraces non-violent beliefs.

When I say Tea with Hezbollah is a must-read, I’m not mincing my words. To truly understand what Arabs think about Americans and their neighbors, you must read this book. Plus, you will also gain a sense of the “humanity” of our “enemies.” Ted Dekker’s true story of his journey in the Middle East with buddy Carl Medearis rivals the suspense found in any of his novels.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Because of the fine folks at WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, one lucky reader can win a copy of TEA WITH HEZBOLLAH for free. Simply tell me your favorite kind of tea (if you don’t like tea, pick a favorite drink) when you reply below. Easy as pie and just as tasty. The contest will end on Feb. 5 at 12 PM EST. You can also e-mail your entry to amy@backseatwriter.com or reply via Twitter or Facebook.  Don’t forget to leave a valid e-mail address so I can contact you if you win…and don’t worry, I won’t share it with anyone!

Congrats to Donna S. for winning TEA WITH HEZBOLLAH! 🙂

**Don’t forget to enter BSW’s OWOH giveaway here!**

The President is in Town (and traffic isn’t moving)

4 Dec

Photo Credit: Monica Cabrera/The Morning Call / December 4, 2009

President Obama is in town hobnobbing with elected officials and a few [successful] business owners, who are more than happy to bolster Obama’s image to Pennsylvanians.  The same Pennsylvanians he accused of clinging to guns and religion during his campaign.  The local (and national) press is all over the story while our police are out in full force blocking off roads to make sure the President can safely make it to Allentown MetalWorks and Lehigh Carbon Community College. (Incidentally, if that’s where all the cops are, then who is arresting the criminals?  It’s a heyday for the gangs in downtown Allentown I guess.) Being a staunch Independent voter with conservative sympathies, the President’s visit means little to me.  That is, until it screws up my plans.

Weeks ago, I made a very important appointment with a medical professional, who is responsible for monitoring several serious, chronic conditions from which I suffer.  When I made my appointment, I had no idea President Obama was going to visit the Lehigh Valley (and I’m pretty sure he didn’t know either).  I checked road conditions (all clear), left early, and still found myself stuck in traffic so bad that it took me 25 minutes to move 1/10 of a mile.  Needless to say, I missed my appointment and called the office crying with frustration to cancel.  Being the kind dears that they are, they rescheduled my appointment grumbling about how all their patients are having difficulty making it into the office due to traffic conditions.  Great.  People with chronic conditions unable to get medical care—could this be a sign of things to come under Obama care?

Fortunately, I was able to vent about all this to my out-of-work, yet college-degreed friend Shari as she sat home applying for jobs online.  (In fact, visit her Examiner site to throw a few extra cents her way, and while you’re at it, order a beautifully decorated cake from her at Sweets & S’Morsels Cakery)  She complained about traffic, too, and wanted to know why she wasn’t invited to meet the President since she is the unemployed.  I have no idea, since that is who he is to address.

While this visit is supposed to be a great honor for Allentown and the surrounding areas (and I suppose it is), it is also costing our area a lot of money—overtime hours for police, money and time wasted for people trying to get to appointments, small business owners who won’t have customers due to our frozen roadways, and of course, the fee for events.  In fact, I’d like to send President Obama a bill for $100—for gas used, time wasted, and the cost of the missed appointment—though I’d doubt I’ll ever see the money.  The truth is no one is going to flock to Allentown when President Obama leaves, just because he’s been here.  He isn’t helping our economy; he’s just getting in our way as we try to go about our normal lives—far removed from those of elected officials.

If the President really wants to know what it’s like for those of us living day-to-day, maybe he should talk to my friend, Shari, explain to a receptionist why he can’t make an important appointment as he tries to hold in the tears, or drive in the traffic jam of his own making.  Perhaps instead of meeting with Allentown’s mayor, he should try slumming it with the folks—that is, if we have time to take off work in this harsh economic climate.

The only upside to this–at least I don’t have to hear about Tiger Woods and his alleged extra-marital affairs for a few hours.

Blog Action Day: Climate Change–Let’s Get Our Facts Straight

15 Oct

Update: Thanks for all the comments!  I found a book that will help me to figure this out called A CLIMATE FOR CHANGE.  And you can even win a copy from Backseat Writer.  For more information, click here.

To prepare for this Blog Action Day post on Climate Change, I’ve spent the past few weeks reading up on the topic—and I’ve got to admit, I’m more confused than before.  There are a million different facts, opinions, and every side has a team of expert scientists.

I have no idea what to think about climate change.

On one hand, I’m terribly upset by the idea that we as humans are overheating the planet, but on the other, what if the temperature rise is a natural phenomenon, not one that is man-made?  Is the Earth going through some natural cycle or are we headed to a Wall-E-like scenario where we will all vacate the planet?  I just don’t know!

So I decided to look at pictures of polar bears.  I mean, why not?  I love polar bears and they have become the central figures in the global warming debate, right?  Ever since that picture of a mother and her cub stranded on an ice floe in the arctic surfaced, scientists and even Al Gore has pointed to the picture and said, “See!  This is conclusive proof that the polar ice caps are melting!  We need to save the polar bears.”  The image (see below) captured by Australian marine biology student Amanda Byrd was taken in August 2004 while she was studying zooplankton in the Beaufort Sea, just north of Barstow, Alaska.

Although Byrd is the rightful owner of the picture, Dan Crosbie, who works as an observer for the Canadian Ice Service (how do you get a job like that?) gave the photo to his employer, who later allowed the photograph to be used in an online magazine.  By the way, the photo has been slightly altered, and it was taken at a time of year when the polar ice caps should be melting, regardless of global change.  And the mother and her cub were just fine—not stranded—just fine!

Unaltered image

Unaltered image

I was thinking about all this one abnormally warm day last February while my friend and I walked around at a year-round outdoor market.

“If this is global warming, then I’m all for it!” laughed a man in a short-sleeved shirt who was selling merchandise on a weathered wooden table.

“Ha!  Global warming, my a**!” agreed his grubby friend.

I looked up at the sun shining in the blue sky and shrugged my shoulders.  Then it snowed a week later.  Even the local weather plays with my thoughts on the matter!

At the end of the day, I have no great insight to provide about climate change.  Merely that I think Planet Earth was a great mini-series, and if it’s true that the polar bears are in peril, then we’d better do something.  Unfortunately, by the time, we determine what’s going on and what to do about it, the polar bears will either become extinct or overpopulation of the bear population will cause another ecological disaster.

Suspend Salaries for PA Congress, Not State Workers & Social Services

14 Aug

Usually it works like this—you get a job and if you don’t fulfill the requirements of that job you get booted.  Immediately.  Not so in the state of Pennsylvania where the senators serve for four years and the representatives for two; regardless of job performance.  If it were up to me, I would fire the whole lot (including Gov. Ed Rendell) and replace them with people who could get the state budget passed.  Perhaps those firemen who run Congress on the Nextel Direct Connect commercial?

So I guess we’ll have to wait until the term limits are up for our state senators and representatives to “fire” them.  Sigh.

And do you know who’s really suffering through this budget crisis?  It’s the people.  Sure, the governor and the rest of his cronies are suffering in popularity polls, but they can still drive their fancy cars to work and go home to their cushy mansions not worrying about from where their next paycheck will come (after all, they always vote themselves a pay raise).  Nope, it’s the poor state workers who provide vital services for the commonwealth that haven’t been paid for the last month.  Fortunately, Gov. Rendell did sign a measure on Aug. 5 so state workers would be paid for their hard work.  Of course, with all the back pay, they’ll probably have to pay higher taxes to the state for earning more income.  Nice. Personally, I believe the Congressmen’s wages should be sacked for every day they fail to produce a budget.  They’re the ones not getting the job done!

A little over a month ago, I wrote about the proposed budget cuts for the state libraries (“Librarians Added to State Endangered Species List“) and now due to the impasse, private child care centers may have to shut their doors since they won’t receive funding for the state to provide care for low-income families.  Naturally, this also puts a huge burden on low-income families who need childcare so they can work.  Undoubtedly, if this crisis continues there may be some temporary lay-offs for child care workers—I think we should send them to Harrisburg to baby-sit all these whiny Congressmen.

Another program, Community Services for Children (CSC), which subsidizes early education for pre-schoolers for low-income families will have to delay the start of their fall programming.  Here’s a blurb from a recent Morning Call article: “Leaders of Community Services for Children announced that they must delay the start of school for at least a month for 233 children. Dozens of pre-school teachers, bus drivers and others will be furloughed.”  (Read full article.)   CSC subsidies also offer nutrition (quality meals), medical care, and other services necessary not only to the education of children, but to their health and well-being.

I asked my mother, a retired kindergarten teacher with 32 years of experience under her belt, what these cuts could mean to children entering kindergarten.  She told me that without adequate education, many of these children don’t know how to interact with their peers, are unable to focus on teaching stories discussions, can’t identity colors, numbers or letters, and lack fine motor skills preventing them from being able to something as basic as properly holding a crayon or scissors.

She said, “The gap between the children who have had a pre-school experience and those whose parents have not been able to afford one or haven’t been provided with one is immense.  Time is spent in remediation for these areas, rather than further developing them.”

They say that time is money, yet many people can’t afford the time the Pennsylvania State Government is taking to pass a budget.  Worse yet, they cannot afford the proposed cuts to social services. Unfortunately, those making the decisions for Pennsylvanians won’t be directly affected.  That is, until election time rolls around.

First Fido & Pet Peeves

14 Apr

I love this photo--just a boy and his dog. Err, make that the President and the First Fido!

Well, it’s about time!  I mean, since President Obama’s November victory speech, we’ve been speculating on what kind of dog the Obama family would get.  While I still think a shih tzu would have made a perfect pet for the first family (and smoothed over our relations with China), it came down to a Labradoodle and a Portuguese water dog.  In the end, the Portie won and since Edward Kennedy just so happened to have a few of his own; he gave the Obamas a hook-up.  Not only that, the puppy was trained by Kennedy’s personal canine trainers in Virginia.  And today Bo Obama made his world debut (except a few photos slipped out early last week.  But shhh!  No one told Bo).

Nothing like a romp on the White House lawn with your very best friend.

Of course, animal rescue groups are criticizing the Obamas for not choosing a shelter dog.  However, the Obamas contend that due to elder daughter Malia’s allergies, a Portie was necessary and Porties are rarely, if ever, found in shelters.  I suppose the Obamas could have hunted down a Labradoodle to “re-home,” but really, doesn’t the first family have a right to get whatever dog they want from wherever they want?  Plus, Sen. Kennedy gave the Obama girls up with a pedigree already house-broken puppy for FREE!  Yep, I’d go for the Portie, too.

As the owner of a pedigree canine, I find it amazing how much guff people give me.  I’m often asked why I didn’t adopt from a shelter.  Uh, because they didn’t have any shih tzus.  OK, actually there were two shih tzus at the humane society–two 12 year-old brothers that had to be adopted as a pair.  I wanted a single female puppy.  There were quite a few ultra-hyper Jack Russells, which were probably at the shelter for being ultra-hyper (a characteristic of this highly intelligent breed).   Just because a dog is looking at me with its sad eyes behind a chain link gate doesn’t mean I am required to take it home!  I am not the one who abandoned my dog at the shelter;  the former owner is.

So why am I villified for buying a shih tzu from a in-home breeder?  Maddy is a darling little dog who came from a very loving family that breeds shih tzus as a hobby.  There are so many dogs out there that need homes, I’ve been told, I should really head to the shelter or a rescue group first.  Who says I didn’t?  In the end, I picked the puppy that appealed to me.  Honestly, I prayed for her.  That probably sounds cheesy, yet it’s the truth.  Madalyne is the puppy I prayed for and I really do believe that she is a gift from God.

Still,  I’m angry that some people seem to care about the welfare of animals more than the well-being of people.  Sometimes I want to say, “There are so many kids out that that need homes; you should really try to adopt first.”  But, no, when it comes to kids who are infinitely more important than dogs, adoption is a last resort.  Interesting how that works, isn’t it? I don’t say this to undermine anyone.  I merely want to scream for the kids in foster care throughout the United States who are looking for adoptive homes.  Parents, if your child is yours by birth or adoption or foster care, I am proud of you for loving on that kid!  My point is not to insult parents but to question why we hold homeless dogs in higher esteem than abandoned children?

Suffice to say, if you can rescue a dog (or a child), good for you!  If  you decide to bring a pedigree in your home, good for you!  However, if you go the designer dog route, then be aware that you’re paying a ton of cash for a mutt.  But wherever you get your new pet (probably not from Edward Kennedy), be sure to give it a loving FOREVER home.

And take my advice, get a shih tzu.  Unless you’re the President of the United States, then get a Portie because it looks more manly than a shih tzu.  We don’t want our Commander-in-Chief to have a wussy toy breed!

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