Friday, April 23, 2010

Arizona Gets Tough on Immigration

On the heels of an ICE raid last week Arizona legislatures working to pass legislation that will allow the state to determine the eligibility of a person to be in the State, verify a claim of legal residency, confirm the identity of a person, and determine if the person is in compliance with Federal immigration laws. 

Obama says the legislation "threatens to undermine basic notions of fairness that we treasure as Americans."

Arizona Senator Russell Pearce states that "illegal is not a race it's a crime."

Representative John Kavanagh says "70% of likely voters in Arizona support this law and I suspect that across the country the figures are similar." He also is confident that the governor will sign the bill as she is a strong supporter of the needs of immigration.

Definition of illegal immigrant: (noun) a foreigner who has entered or resides in a country unlawfully or without the country's authorization.

Just in case there is any doubt the definition of unlawful is: (adjective) not lawful; contrary to law; illegal.

In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper Kavanagh continues to say that "People are fed up with the lack of any enforcement of illegal immigration by the federal government. We have no choice but to fill the void that they've created."

While it is believed by critics of the bill that this will foster racial profiling supporters believe that it gives power back to the legal citizens of the United States and fosters the idea that America is still a land of opportunity but that opportunity is best found by following the proper channels to enter the country.

Although this legislation is making many Latino's fume with ideas of discrimination I have to believe that they must also understand that Arizona is not simply going after Latinos. This law does not profile one race over another nor one culture over another. It provides protection of the citizens and puts power in the hands of the police. 

Arizona is more likely, due to it's geographical location, to have more illegals coming in from Mexico that are of Latin American origin, but the law is for all illegals and not just Hispanics. 

With the federal government clicking their heels on what to do about the US immigration problems it is no wonder that states like Arizona are starting to take a stand with immigration problems. Sure there are a few kinks that will have to be ironed out of the wording, but the legislation is a start for people to see that many American's are fed up with immigration excuses and want some true law enforcement.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Troubles with Adopted Children - Is there hope?

On the heels of the TN womanTorry Hansen, who sent her 7 year old adopted son back to Russia causing international upset between our two countries one has to wonder is the problem with the parent or the child. The woman sent the boy unattended on a jet with a backpack of cookies and energy drinks. In my opinion it's a bit of both. The boy, however, had suffered a history of abuse in his native country. The woman was aware of his background, but she claims she was unaware of the severity of his problems. She also, according to reports, did not enroll the child for public or home school. The true victim here is the child.

Of course Hansen is not the first adoptive parent that has raised the eyebrows of the adoption of foreign children in the US. In 2008 an adoptive father left his 21 month old baby in the backseat of his car at work; Peggy Sue Hilt beat her 2 year old adopted Russian daughter to death in 2006; Denis Merryman dies at age 8 after being adopted and starved to death. The list goes on with more than a dozen horrifying deaths of adoptive children solely from Russia. 

I know from experience that adopted children can be quite challenging. I was an adopted child myself. When you feel as if no one wants you it can cause some psychological harm. A child cannot comprehend why no one would want them. The fact that someone cares enough to adopt you just doesn't calculate easily. When you add children that suffer from other problems such as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome an entire new problem surfaces on top of what is already present.

The Deep Spring Ranch for Kids  in Eureka, Montana is one place that has been established to help families that have difficulties with adopted children, mainly from Russia, to cope better and to receive the mental and moral help they need to survive in a familial environment. CNN's Gary Tuchman does a wonderful and touching job bringing a story of a families struggle with a troubled young man they adopted as a toddler. This family chose to help the child and unite their family instead of giving up and sending the child back. They are simply amazing and inspiring.

Sometimes it's the tough choices that cause us the most difficulties that are the right choices. Parenting is not a part-time job.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Good News Wisconsin - An Import Beer with a Kick is On It's Way!

No one enjoys beer more than the people of Wisconsin. At least that is what I thought until I started listening and watching the videos of the hot Scottish men (with equally hot accents) who are unafraid to don a penguin suit (or nothing at all) to promote their new beer that has a 32% alcohol rate. According to Time the beer is on the way to the US.

The beer's website tells us : "A warning label on the Tactical Nuclear Penguin bottle does state: 'This is an extremely strong beer; it should be enjoyed in small servings and with an air of aristocratic nonchalance. It is exactly the same manner you would enjoy a fine whisky, a Frank Zappa album or a visit from a friendly yet anxious ghost.'"

Tactical Nuclear Penguin from BrewDog on Vimeo.

So, with an alcohol content like that is it a beer or a liquor? If you drink enough you won't care.

Friday, April 9, 2010

What's Wrong With Kids Today? - Parents

We had a serious dilemma in my home a few years ago. We had a child that was so emotionally hurt that she started acting out in a horrible way. She hurt people physically and mentally. She started shoplifting because she just wanted the things she saw. She didn't care about repercussions. She didn't respond to therapy. She didn't respond to punishment. She didn't respond to positive reinforcement.

She tried to burn down the house. We were at our wits end to find out what to do. Our home life was basically hell and our younger children were afraid, and rightfully so.

I had called the school. No help. I called the police. They were supportive, but they couldn't do a lot. It finally got out how serious things had become when she attempted serious physical bodily harm on one of the children. The school liaison officer stepped in and was extremely understanding and supportive.

It broke my heart to see her taken in a police car and placed in a facility. My dilemma was I was torn as a parent watching my child go somewhere other than home, but I had two other children at home that needed to feel safe as well. This was the hardest time in my life as a parent.

She needed help and she wasn't getting it at home. I didn't go to the police to get out of my parenting duty, I went to get her help because I honestly love her. It's the same reason why, when she got out of the group home a year and half later, I had the store call the police and walked away when she was caught shop lifting. I wanted her to know that she wasn't going to be able to go back to her old habits. I loved her but I wasn't going to allow her to sabotage herself.

I did get horrible looks from the store personnel. I don't think they expected a parent to react that way to less than $5 worth of merchandise. But I informed them that I wanted her punished now while she was still a minor instead of when she was 21 doing the same things and her punishment would be much sterner and on her permanent record.

We did end up discovering what her major problem was that she was harboring. The lack of support from her biological mother also influenced her. She has made major breakthroughs in her life and relationships since letting go of things. She's become more of a loving and caring young woman. She still has a little way to go, but don't we all?

Being a parent is tough. We have to make choices every day when it comes to our children. There are no guarantees that what we do are right, but we have to trust and do what we know will be best in the long run. That's why it's so hard for parents that are more interested in being popular with their kids and are afraid of their children hating them.

Of course there are parents out there who probably should never have become parents to begin with. They are so caught up in their own lives they don't parent at all. These children are neglected and have no idea, for the most part, how to relate to other people. It's sad, but it's part of our society. There are parents that do nothing or little to nothing for their children and then there are those that do way too much.

I've been watching the news reports on Phoebe Prince who was "bullied to death" from classmates in her high school in Massachusetts. It's tragic. Six students tormented this beautiful young lady until she took her own life. Why? Jealousy perhaps. It doesn't matter. In the long run what matters is that someone dropped the ball here long before the bullying started. Because the kids in question should have never started bullying to begin with. They should have been secure enough in themselves that those types of actions weren't a consideration. It's very hard for me to believe that no adult knew what was happening here. Ignorance isn't bliss; it's advocating bad behavior.

I remember walking through my daughter's school a few years ago to retrieve some books from her locker. One of the sports teams was running the hallways. At the end of the pack was a boy that was having problems keeping up. He was trying, but he just didn't have as much stamina as some of the other guys.  Instead of encouraging their team mate, however, I hear "why don't you just stay here. You're worthless and slow. You can just follow us in on our last leg and tell the coach you ran the whole thing." The boy kept up at his slow pace determined to finish, I imagine. But I saw his face and it hurt me. I yelled down the hallway to the team, "Wow! Way to support your team mate guys!"

I've heard the adage "kids are cruel." It's true. But where do they learn it? From the rest of us. When we let it pass and accept it we are actually condoning it. When we call our children names inside the home we are teaching them to call others names outside the home. When we allow siblings to call each other names like "stupid" or "fatty" by ignoring it and letting it pass we are condoning it.

Parenting is a full time job. A lot of parents have to work and rely on day cares or babysitters to help them. That's fine. We have little to no control of what is happening with children when they are out of our sight. But we should make a genuine effort to spend quality time with our children when we have home time even when we are dog tired.

I remember speaking with parents when I was teaching middle school. One of the most common responses I received from parents was, "I don't have time to spend them." I asked, "Do you watch television during the week?" "Do you have time to read the paper?" "Do you spend time talking to your friends on the phone?" "Do you spend time on the computer?" Of course they do, but they call this their own down time.

I'm not saying that parents don't have the right to some personal time. I am saying that when we give birth to children or make a choice to raise a child we have taken on a full time obligation. We are the number one teachers of our children. We need to make sure that we make time. We have to sacrifice.

Somewhere we have to stop and understand that we are parents to our children not friends. It doesn't mean we can't be friendly, but we can't just let things pass. Guilt parenting is not good parenting. Children of all ages need structure. If your teenager is angry with you for enforcing a curfew of 11 or 12 that's a good thing. Let them be angry. Let them know that not everything in their life is going to be exactly how they want it.

Here are some hints for teenage parenting:

1. Make consequences clear.
2. Never back down from what you say. Enforce your rights as a parent.
3. Make time to actually talk to your kids, even if it seems they are talking to you under duress. It shows you care.
4. When they disobey and you are giving them chores or consequences in return put it in writing. Write down exactly what happened and what they have to do to get off of restrictions. Also put on the sheet what happens if they don't follow the guidelines to get off restriction.  Make them repeat it to you or read it to you aloud. Then make them sign it and date it. Put it in plain sight.
5. Never assume that your child is always telling you the truth. Investigate. Sometimes our children aren't lying but are omitting certain facts that might actually put what is going on in a different light. My daughter has come home accusing a teacher of saying certain things and upon investigation I found that what she said was not really true but that she had twisted the words. Why? Because she had a bad grade for not completing an assignment and didn't want us to be angry.
6. Make your child accountable. If they do something wrong make them fix it and don't make excuses or allow excuses.
7. Spend time with your teenager. Even lame time is better than no time. I remember crying and thinking my daughter hated me. It's not true. She loves me. I love her too. Sometimes it just takes time for it to come out.
8. Don't just give your children things. Presents are fine, but making them have to work for something makes them actually appreciate it.
9. Don't beat yourself up when things go wrong. Sometimes things just happen no matter how much we do right. We have to stop and remember that after a certain point our children are older and have to make their own choices. We just need to sit back and be there to support them. It's a learning process for them too.

I don't have all the answers. I don't even think that Dr. Phil has all the answers. Not all kids are the same so not all the punishments will be the same. I have three minors left at home and each of them are treated differently because what works with one won't work with the other. They are individuals.

What does work with each of them? Loving them equally. That's the best I can do.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Court Ruling Against Marine Family is a Travesty of Justice

I totally agree with John Ellsworth regarding the judgement against the Snyder family in favor of the self-proclaimed Westboro Baptist Church

In my opinion the federal appeals court is out of their mind. How in the world can you say that what this church is doing is freedom of speech when it is so clearly defamation of character? They are not expressing opinion as much as they are insulting and characterizing to deliberately hurt and incite. They are deliberately twisting their first amendment rights to insult people and the judgement of the court is allowing them to profit from it. 

These people (led by their self-proclaimed prophet Fred Phelps) created a "church." This congregation of  less than 100, and over 80% being family members, decided to create their own form of religion. That is their right. They decided to proclaim themselves as Baptists. Again, they have that right. They want to proclaim their message. Okay, that's fine as well. Yet for some reason instead of just taking their message to the airways, using the newspapers to post ads and editorials, or going door to door to hand out pamphlets they have decided that attending funerals with degrading signs regarding the dead is most appropriate. Of course, what can you expect from people who's religious website is called  It becomes obvious that they are a group of people that find life value in hate. They are raising children to believe in hate as a form of redemption. They use their children in their demonstrations and drag them around the country to places that have had tragedies, such as the shooting at Virginia Tech, to revel in the loss of lives and the misery of the families. 

I spent yesterday watching videos of the self-proclaimed prophet, his daughter, and his grand children as they happily spoke about how God hates America, God hates the world, and how we are all destined to "eat our babies." I find them to be intolerant fanatics who manage to twist the Bible. 

First, a funeral is not a place where people should be allowed to picket. It is not an appropriate place to hold demonstrations. Families have lost loved ones and are mourning. It takes people of the lowest of the low moral rating to use this as a vantage point to spout their opinions. It's like walking into a mass or church service and deciding to start yelling out obscenities because you don't agree with the religion. Funerals are quiet sacred times for families to say goodbye. They are not public or political events. 

Secondly, erroneously accusing a young soldier of being a "fag" because he serves in the military to protect his country and calling him names is not an example of free speech. Degrading his family for his upbringing is not an example of free speech. These are examples of defaming. The family is a victim of defamation of character as defined: "Defamation or "defamation of character" is spoken or written words that falsely and negatively reflect on a living person's reputation." The young hero in question was publicly slandered as were his parents. 

Third, this group continued to slander and defame our country, our heroes, our families, our people. They do this with the idea that it's okay because they are protected by the first amendment right of free speech. Did the federal court forget that this right is not absolute in any country in the world? It usually does not encompass the concept of "hate speech."  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights even recognizes that it is more a freedom of expression and the right to harbor any thoughts. No where does it say that you should indiscriminately be allowed to harass, defame, or incite hate. 

And then there is the fact that this group of people hates America and people in general. Do they really have the right to use a constitution they don't believe in to help them gain momentum to preach hatred and intolerance? It would have been one thing to reverse the original judgement that the family won and reduce their payment or say they do not receive damages from the church. It's an entirely different thing to make them pay over $16,000 to the church for taking them to court. The church put themselves in the spotlight and opened themselves up to a lawsuit. Let them assume their own responsibilities for their actions.

This link will take you to the page that tells the story of a brave young man whose family has gone through hell because of what I believe is a false, irreverent, and intolerant religious sect. Take some time and help show that Americans stand by our soldiers. We do not tolerate hate and injustice. We love all people regardless of their sexual orientations, religious beliefs, or color. Plus, most all of us have a God or Goddess or Prophet filled with love, understanding, and tolerance. We know we were not made perfect, but we also know that our imperfections make us able to grow and learn.

My condolences go out to this young marine's family. My thanks go to him for the ultimate sacrifice he made for me and my country. Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder is a hero and it is my ultimate hope that his family will no longer be victimized by misguided zealots.