Parents and Employers Finally Speaking Out Against the Administration

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I have waited weeks for the parents of those Americans lost one month ago when our diplomatic outposts in Libya were attacked by terrorists to speak up.  As a mom myself, I could not imagine sitting back while elected and appointed officials played games with America and American lives.  Telling us that “the movie did it.  Telling us it could not be helped.  Telling us they care.  And, most stridently, telling us it wasn’t their fault.  I couldn’t imagine enduring their crocodile tears, their excuses, their feigned concerns and their continued apologies to those who hate us.

But it was their fault, and beginning yesterday, with the congressional hearings targeting the attacks of that terrible day, as well as who knew what and when, the resulting panic among those responsible is palpable.  See them squirm and stammer, insisting they always labeled it terrorism, they never said it was a movie, and most stridently, it wasn’t their fault.  Coinciding with this comes an interview Pat Smith, mother of slain state department official Sean Smith, gave to CNN, where she spoke the truth that every parent, every family member, and every American should be speaking.  She made clear her lack of appreciation for the artificial condolences, stalls and lies offered to her by this president, this secretary of state and their people.  She shared her private hell and her growing anger, and I hope she understands that we all, parents or no, we share her fury and her loss.  And, like her, we will not believe one word this government offers on this or any other subject.

While we have waited weeks for this, and hope the other parents will follow her lead, we have waited years for business owners, large and small, to join the chorus of voices also finally speaking out about what this president has done to our nation’s business climate, and what he intends to do if he is given four more years to complete the destruction.  This was capped with casino magnate Steve Wynn’s recent interview, where he berated the current president for targeting this nation’s true job-creators with destruction.  “I’ll be damned if I want to have him lecture me about small business and jobs!” stated Wynn, echoing sentiments shared by businesspeople, from mom-and-pop proprietors to Fortune-500 executives, across the nation.  Well said, Mr. Wynn, but if I’m not mistaken you boasted of your vote for this “lecturing” president four years ago, and he has indeed pursued everything he promised long before you cast that vote, but at least you’re on board now.

And now, in this swirl of financial and national-security chaos, we await tonight’s vice presidential debate, the democrats crying that “debates don’t matter,” “Libya doesn’t matter!” (and it’s not our fault!), hiding behind Big Bird and Elmo, and pinning all their hopes for change on Joe Biden.  Meanwhile, they cannot deny the wave of great courage that has begun to spread across our land with a momentum that may ultimately prove to be unstoppable.  Here’s hoping it has already reached that point.

Japan’s Tragedy and Preparing for the Worst

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As a veteran of several large earthquakes during my formative years, I have watched with great sorrow the tragedies that have stricken Japan over the past couple of weeks.  While my own thoughts mirror those we have heard from all corners in the aftermath of the trauma, the events and the dignity we have witnessed of the victims dealing with those events have gotten me thinking, as they should, about what we can do when and if we find ourselves in the sites of such unexpected danger.

Believer that I am in preparedness, when I lived in earthquake country I was one of the most prepared individuals ever to populate the San Andreas Fault.  Outfitted with water, food (for dogs, too), light sources, camping gear, first-aid supplies, radios, tools and enough batteries to power an L.A. high rise for a week — from car to office to home — no earthquake was going to leave me and mine helpless. When I then moved from earthquake country to blizzard country some years back, I simply transferred that mindset to accommodate the new type of threat Mother Nature may decide to send my way.  

My long-suffering husband has through the years humored me in my compulsion, and like any decent mother bear, I have schooled my kids in the fine art of preparing for disaster, which has become second nature to them, as well. And indeed my clan has witnessed firsthand the value of my efforts, particularly when we have found ourselves in sub-zero temperatures without heat or light or running water.

I realize that such preparations may be useless in the face of tsunami or nuclear meltdown, and my heart goes out to the thousands of people dealing with such unspeakable tragedy today. But the hard fact of this life is that some catastrophes simply defy preparation or human intervention. Or blame.  Preparing for the worst, however, gives us power, and I have found that that with that power comes peace of mind. When you acknowledge that disaster can strike, and you  gather the supplies and learn what to do if it does, you become less a victim in both mind and body. So wherever you are, wherever you live, be ready ahead of time for whatever special brand of disaster might occur — earthquakes, hurricanes, brush fires, blizzards, tornadoes, the list goes on. By preparing for disaster, we make our own luck, and perhaps even our own survival, as well.

A Letter to Mrs. Obama from an American Parent

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Dear Mrs. Obama:

A friend was kind enough to send me a copy of a letter you wrote to America’s parents, written, it appears, when you were busy hosting visitors from China as your husband celebrated “China’s rise,” and in the aftermath of the terrible shootings in Tucson.  Your letter, as you may recall, was written to instruct us parents to be tolerant and to teach tolerance to our children, suggesting that if we had done this, we might have prevented the Tucson shooting.

I know the past few months have been very busy for you, what with entertaining foreign dignitaries, hosting the White House Super Bowl party, taking vacations, traveling across the country for the Tucson memorial/Obama-campaign-launch event, teaching parents to prevent mass murders with tolerance, and gaining access as part of a large group of politicians to the ICU to visit Tucson-shooting victim Congresswoman Giffords.  I’m still wondering how a large group of non-family-member politicians gained that access; most hospitals are pretty stringent about ICU patient visitations.  I also don’t remember you and your husband being quite so passionate and involved when more than 40 people were shot, 13 murdered, at Fort Hood by a radical religiously-motivated shooter back in November, 2009.  But I do remember talk of tolerance; guess we parents didn’t do our job to prevent the tragedy in Tucson.

You, however, do not rest.  In your tireless efforts to make us, as your husband described, “better,” you have now taken it upon yourself to help influence and control the portion sizes served by America’s restaurants.  I believe I speak for many other American parents, who, like me, eat quite frequently in America’s restaurants and love nothing more than receiving enormous portions of food and bringing enormous boxes of leftovers home afterwards to satisfy the enormous appetites of growing active kids.  With all due respect, you need not suggest that we offer them something more in keeping with your list of preferred foods, because what and how we feed our kids is our decision, not yours.

Also our decision, and one of the most personal as a parent, is the decision to breastfeed – another issue you have taken upon yourself to promote.  I know it has been years since you were faced with that decision, and I don’t care to know what you decided, but I would imagine you know of women, who, for whatever reason, either could not or would not engage in this activity.  What is never addressed in regard to this topic is that it can be far more difficult and far greater a commitment than many women realize.  In answer to your related claim that breastfeeding prevents obesity, while plenty of scientific evidence confirms the benefs of breastfeeding on brain development, I have seen nothing linking it to long-term obesity prevention (and I have a feeling you haven’t either). 

So with all due respect, Mrs. Obama, as one of the millions of American parents you are addressing en masse with your letters, your speeches and your alleged scientific conclusions, I have done just fine on my own feeding my kids; monitoring their portions of restaurant food; and, as is my right as an American (an American who has always been proud of my country), teaching them the core values of my choice.  Indeed I know I speak for myself and millions of other American parents, when I say that we were doing just fine in this mission, long before we ever even heard of you and your husband.

I thus think your time might be better spent, not lecturing American parents on what we must do to ensure our progeny and their beliefs meet your and your husband’s particular expectations, but to concentrate instead on your own daughters.  I know nothing about your children (apart from the private information you shared about their BMI scores), and that is how it should be.  Your children and their BMI scores are, and should be, no concern of mine, and you, a self-appointed representative of the government, need not bother yourself with concerns about my children, either.

Happy Birthday, Boy Scouts of America!

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February 8, 2010 | Comments

Today the Boy Scouts of America celebrates its 100th birthday. As a scout mom, I thank the BSA for all it does to promote character, loyalty and patriotism in the young men of our nation. Here’s hoping it continues to deflect the efforts made to undermine its foundation in this crazed world of ours, so it may celebrate 100 more years in February, 2110. Cheers!

Betsy Siino | Comments

College Students, Wake Up!

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January 21, 2010 | Comments

The results of Tuesday’s election in Massachusetts have left me thinking about a conversation I overheard this last Christmas.

Our family was flying west to California for the holidays as we do every year, this time with stopovers in both Las Vegas and Reno. On the flight between those two cities, I was seated in front of an older woman and a young female college student. As we took off over the glittering lights of the Las Vegas strip, the older woman introduced herself to her younger seatmate (and, by extension, to me) as a medical-school professor, a recent transplant to Nevada from the East Coast.

Sounding almost like a young schoolgirl herself, this mature professional woman chirped with abandon about her love for her new state. Compared to her life spent entirely in the east, Nevada was in every way living up to its reputation as “the wild west,” she said, a genuine “frontier.” Her enthusiasm for her new home was so infectious, I wanted to jump off the plane and enroll in her medical school.

Anyway, the young woman next to her, a native of Reno, she said, was in her first year at a small Massachusetts college – an International Relations major (whatever that is). The physician spoke to her about her own years training, practicing and teaching in Boston, and they chatted a bit about living in the Bay State. Then the doctor popped the big question: “So how does it feel moving from a state that has no income tax [Nevada], to a state that has one of the highest tax rates in the country [Massachusetts]?”

“Well,” said the girl, “I’m in college, so it doesn’t really affect me.”

I grinned, imagining the wise smirk the International-Relations major’s comment must have inspired on the face of her seatmate. “Oh, it will affect you,” said the doctor. “And I’m sure it’s affecting your parents, and the new federal taxes coming are going to affect them, too.” (As a parent myself, I would not be very happy to think my daughter considered punishing tax burdens as something that “doesn’t really affect me.”)

The girl’s ensuing silence indicated that she didn’t want to talk about this anymore (not a good sign for someone who wants to relate internationally). I’d like to think that once she got home, she made a similar comment to her parents, who in turn decided to look in to the education they were financing for their beloved daughter. If nothing else, I hope the physician’s statement at least gave the girl some food for thought.

It certainly gave me food for thought, as I now think back and wonder if Tuesday’s election in this young student’s adopted state has in any way “affected” her. How has it been presented and discussed, I wonder, in her probably elitist, liberal, kumbaya International Relations classes? I have my assumptions, of course, but do she and so many others like her now realize the gravity of what is at stake for her and for all of us in this country? Do they realize that this election “affected” the state in which this girl now resides, but also in her home state? And my home state. And yours. And every other state in the union.

Perhaps before this girl embarks on her career in International Relations (whatever that is), she should learn about the dangers her own country is facing at the moment – including the tax burden that will await her once she graduates and embarks on that career. I’ll wager she is learning nothing like that in those International Relations classes of hers. We can guess what she is probably learning: the Blame-America curriculum embraced by the President and his advisers and colleagues during their formative years.

As someone more in line with the American-Exceptionalism curriculum, I ask you college students out there to start thinking beyond the walls of those classes. Before you agree to packing your university auditoriums to cheer on the President and provide him with a backdrop for his latest photo-op, as happened last Sunday in Boston (and will surely happen when he campaigns for Harry Reid next month in Nevada), think about the effect this man, this Congress and their agenda could have on your long-term goals, your long-term hopes and dreams. Battles are being waged right now in all of our own backyards that you think “affect” only your parents at the moment, but if this President gets his way, the outcomes of these skirmishes will profoundly affect your future – and not in a positive manner.

So look to Massachusetts and be grateful for what happened there on Tuesday, despite what your professors may be telling you in class. Time to see the big picture and your place in it. Time to think about long-term consequences and, to paraphrase JFK, what you can do, not for this President and his colleagues, but for your country, your family and your future.

In short, wake up. It does affect you.

Betsy Siino | Comments