Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More Education, More Economic Failure?

President Obama is advocating a longer school year and it's not just the kids who are complaining.

The president says kids in the U.S. spend too little time in the classroom, putting them at a disadvantage when competing with students from other countries. He has suggested that making school days longer, and extending the school year will increase learning, raise test scores and close the achievement gap. But will the expansion acheive the goal the president is striving for?

Critics say that if the school year is extended it will hurt many districts because they'll have to retrofit older buildings with air conditioning which will raise their utility bills to unaffordable levels. Overtime for teachers will also have to be paid which can destroy a smaller district's budget at a time when money is already tight.

Another problem with the proposed change is the detrimental effect that it is sure to have on the travel and leisure industry which relies on summer family vacation travel as a major source of revenue.

Speaking to, Joe McInerney, president and CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association said that fewer vacation days will dry up the industry's labor source and lead to huge losses of revenue for American hotels and resorts.

As an example, in the New Jersey shore area alone, the average cost of a rental home is $1,500 to $2,000 a week. In the tourist town of Wildwood, approximately 7 million visitors flood the boardwalks, beaches, and restaurants from mid-June to September, spending over $185 million on hotels and prepared food and beverages alone. (according to John Siciliano, executive director of the Wildwood Tourism Authority.) The figures do not include dollars spent in retail stores, and amusement park rides in the area which could triple the $185 million dollar figure.

Another area that would be hit hard by the change is the summer camp industry which relies on thousands of school kids each year to fill camp counselor positions. If the kids are in school there will be no counselors and no campers which will destroy the 150 year old business.

While the president is correct in looking at the problem that American kids have when competing with students from across the globe, the negative economic impacts of extending the school day and year must be considered.

Can we really afford to add more stress to an economy that is already buckling under the strain of record unemployment, small business bankruptcy and major industrial failure? This is yet another example of why any person who is given the job of president must be willing to look at all aspects of a situation before moving forward with a plan.

Ideas are great and should be the basis of an open dialogue with everyone who has something to gain or lose if they are enacted into law. While something must be done to ensure that our American students are making the grade in the area of academics, it should not be done at the expense of our economic future.

As the debate moves forward, one can only hope that this is one time where the president will not act according to his typical nature and will finally realize that true leadership means listening to all of the expert input before moving forward with a decision. Listening is an important skill Mr. President and should be the basis for any final decision that you make, even if it ultimately means that you are wrong.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

This Speech is "Too Free"

The U.S. Secret Service is investigating a poll that was on Facebook for a short time over the weekend. It asked users to vote on whether or not President Obama should be assassinated, but was quickly taken down when its content was reported to the site administrator. Secret Service Spokesman, Edwin Donovan said the agency will take appropriate investigative steps to determine who put the poll up and prosecution will be likely once that person is found.

Bob Beckel, a Democratic strategist and contributor to Fox News said whoever created the poll should be prosecuted, blaming the incident on right wing political extremists. Beckel said that the threat was unacceptable and un-American, and on that point, I couldn't agree more. While I champion anyone's right to freedom of expression, the Constitution only guarantees that right if the speech in question doesn't call for violence against a person or group

The following is an excerpt from the Cornell University legal website about the First Amendment and what it does and does not protect.

''The most basic component of freedom of expression is the right of freedom of speech. The right to freedom of speech allows individuals to express themselves without interference or constraint by the government. The Supreme Court requires the government to provide substantial justification for the interference with the right of free speech where it attempts to regulate the content of the speech. A less stringent test is applied for content-neutral legislation. The Supreme Court has also recognized that the government may prohibit some speech that may cause a breach of the peace or cause violence. The right to free speech includes other mediums of expression that communicate a message." (courtesy of

There it is in black and white. There is no protection for anyone who would ask the readers of a social network to vote on whether or not someone should die. In fact, the person who would do such a thing is not only breaking the law, they're breaking the moral code that separates humanity from the animals. There are enough forums in this country that allow everyone to share their point of view and participate in open political discussion without resorting to the kind of nonsense that this poll stooped to. I hope the Secret Service finds those responsible, and I'm confident they will.

Perhaps the next Facebook poll should be created and put up by those of us who enjoy a healthy political debate. It could ask the question: " What should happen to those who call for violence against someone because they disagree with their politics?" My answer? Jail time should be mandatory.

Monday, September 28, 2009

It's Time To Be Presidential

The Iranian government test fired two long range nuclear missles over the weekend and word is they plan to test another today. The country's leaders say the missles have the capability to reach Israel and US military bases in the region, causing even more tension between Iran and the West. President Obama is now threatening stiff sanctions, and plans to demand full access to Iranian nuclear facilities at a meeeting he'll attend in Geneva on Thursday. The meeting will include the first direct negotiations between the U.S. and Iran in 30 years, but is it too little too late?

Senator Kit Bond of Missouri, seems to think so. Speaking on Fox News, he said this is another example of why diplomacy doesn't work with terrorists like Iranian leader Ahmadinejad. Bond, the Vice-Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee also pointed out that the president made a huge mistake recently when he gave in to Russian demands to drop plans for a U.S. missle defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic. Bond said that by giving them more than he got in return, Obama has left the U.S. without much hope of getting nations like Russia to join us in the economic sanctions against Iran, that he is calling for.

Meanwhile in other news, U.S. General Stanley McChrystal appeared on 60 Minutes last night, and said the situation in Afghanistan is worse than he first thought in light of the geographic spread of the violence there. McChrystal said more troops are needed for the U.S. to complete a successful mission in the region and he said that without the troops we are sure to fail which would mean an even stronger position for the Taliban and Al Queada. The most shocking admission from the General came when he said that he's only been asked to meet with President Obama once in the past 70 days in spite of the president's public reluctance to send in the additional troops he's requested.

Ok, so a rogue nation like Iran continues to snub its nose at the U.S. and our own General in Afghanistan is calling for more troops or he says failure is imminent there. The president responds, by planning to sit down with the Iranian leaders because of his continued flawed belief that negotiations will work, yet he is leaning toward saying no to more troops in Afghanistan ignoring the advice of our top military leader in the area, a man he has only met with once in over two months. Now, in one final bad decision, the president has announced that he will go to Copenhagen on Friday, in the middle of all of this, to try and secure Chicago as the site for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

WHAT? It's about priorities sir, and one might believe that yours need to be re-evaluated. Is it wise to spend your time attending a meeting on something as superfluous as whether or not we host the Olympics in seven years? I think not. You were hired to be the Commander in Chief of this country which means our national security, not your personal public relations efforts, should be at the top of that priority list. We've seen you cracking jokes on Letterman, we've seen the razzle dazzle of your personality that you display at press conferences, yet we don't see or hear from you when you're needed most. You are not auditioning for the job sir, you've got it, so it's time to put the public relations efforts aside and start acting like you belong in the most powerful position in the world. Even those of us who didn't vote for you respect your gift of gab, but we need and in fact, we demand much more. You are responsible for my safety, the safety of my family and the millions of citizens like me who have trusted you to keep us safe. It is your duty to uphold that responsibility, so please, for the sake of all of us, straighten up and be worthy of the position you have.

It's sad that you won't listen to the majority of those who put you in office when it comes to questions about healthcare reform and the economy, but it is unconscionable that you refuse to listen to your top advisors on how to proceed in matters of national security.

Wake up Mr. President! It's time to start acting like you're capable of fufilling the position you've been elected to hold.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Where are you going Mr President?

A new video that shows elementary school kids in New Jersey learning songs praising President Obama for his "great accomplishments" is making conservatives, religious leaders, and The Christian Commentator (yes, me!) very annoyed today.

CBS and Fox News report that students at the B. Bernice Young Elementary School have written songs about the president and one video even shows them singing their song to the tune of "Jesus Loves Me". The video was posted on the Drudge Report and hundreds of angry comments from readers across the country came pouring in. What do you think? Is this just an example of innocent school kids honoring their president or is it indoctrination on the part of the school district for allowing it to happen?

As far as this writer is concerned it's an attempt to indoctrinate school children into a belief system that supports the idea that the president is some type of God.

The fact that the melody of the song is the same as "Jesus Loves Me" makes this incident even more reprehensible. I didn't think we were allowed to use religious music in our schools? Is it somehow ok if we allow our children to insert praise for the president where the praise for God used to be? OUTRAGEOUS!

Mr. President you need to stop this. You have provided us commentary on everything from the Kanye West incident at the Video Music Awards, to your picks for the best team in the NBA, but when little children are "worshipping" you, you remain silent. Whatever your religious belief or practice, anyone with an ounce of common sense would stop this. It is inappropriate and cannot be taken as a compliment by anyone who doesn't view themselves as a God. The children aren't the problem. Those who refuse to stop this, are.

Please show some respect sir. You've asked that we to do the same for you, and I believe we should comply with your request. That being said, millions of us value our religious heritage and political freedoms and we don't want our children politically indoctrinated (one way or the other) when we send them to school. It's bad enough that our text books don't teach the "true" history of America, and it's bad enough that our Christian freedom of speech is being taken away. But, allowing kids to sing a song to you, that is considered a mockery by so many, is just simply too far over the top.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Call To Prayer

A friend of mine sent me an excerpt from an article written by David Barton on This is important so I agreed to place it here, asking all of my readers to take time tomorrow to pray to our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ........

"American Muslims have enjoyed the direct support of President Obama. In April, he traveled to Egypt where he told the Muslim world that America no longer considers itself a Christian nation. He later traveled to Turkey and announced that America was one of the largest Muslim nations in the world (despite the fact that 78% of Americans claim to be Christians but only 1% claim to be Muslims). Then in May, President Obama refused to invite Christian and Jewish leaders to the White House to participate in the National Day of Prayer (as former presidents have done), but in September, he did invite Muslim leaders to the White House for a special Muslim Ramadan celebration to commemorate Allah delivering the Koran to his prophet Mohammed.

Heartened by this new encouragement, Muslim leaders have called 50,000 observant Muslims to come to the Capitol this Friday, September 25, for a day of Jummah (Friday congregational prayer). The sponsors promise that from 4AM to 7PM, "the Athan [the call given five times each day for Muslims to participate in mandatory prayer] will be chanted on Capitol Hill, echoing off of the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and other great edifices that surround Capitol Hill." The goal of this event is that "the peace, beauty and solidarity of Islam will shine through America's capitol." In fact, their website for this unprecedented event proudly and unabashedly declares, "Our Time Has Come!"

As Bible-believing people, let's also make this Friday a day of prayer – and please encourage others to participate with you. We know that our contest is with spiritual forces (Ephesians 6:12), and we firmly believe that He Who is within us is greater than any other god or force (1 John 4:4), so I encourage you to fill America with prayer to the True God this coming Friday."

Let's ban together to make this time, a time for Jesus.

Grow Up Already!

Senate Democrats are being accused of placing a "gag order" on private insurance companies who are speaking out against the president's healthcare plan. The hoopla began when Louisville based company Humana sent a letter to its Medicare Advantage beneficiaries warning that if Congress cuts funding, millions of seniors and disabled people could lose many important benefits.

In response, Montana Senator Max Baucus who chairs the Senate Finance Committee denounced the letter as false and a blatant scare tactic. Other insurance companies have been warned by the government not to follow in Humana's footsteps.

My questions is, "How can the government issue a warning when this company was exercising its right to free speech in the marketplace?" Attornies who have reviewed the letter said that nothing in it is blatantly false, even though Humana obviously has a huge interest in stopping a public option for healthcare. Perhaps even more importantly, when trying to determine if illegal lobbying practices were used, wouldn't it have made more sense for Senator Baucus to engage in a private discussion/investigation with Humana so he could address his concerns? Now there's a political war over where the rights of free speech end, which ultimately makes the American public more suspicious of everyone involved. Now, there are no winners in the war.

Partisan politics have hit an all time low in this country, with both sides of the aisle refusing to comprimise on any issue. The anger and bitterness that has permeated Washington has never been worse,and conspiracy theorists have never been given this much fodder from which to build their false assumptions. This is just the latest battle in a time when political gridlock is the norm, and open, honest discussions on policy have been forgotten. Our lawmakers need to wake up and recognize that we have serious problems in the country, and we've given them our vote so they can represent our interests to the best of their ability.

The issue with the Humana letter isn't just about what they said or their right to say it. It's about having an open dialogue on an issue that will affect us all. Scare tactics? Gag orders? They're irrelevant. Lives are being affected by these decisions so it's time that our so-called leaders grow up and learn how to play nice.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lost With Nothing but a Satellite TV

The story of Libyan leader Muammar al- Qaddafi's quest to find temporary living quarters in the U.S. is getting more bizarre by the day. The dictator, in town for the United Nations General Assembly has been trying to find lodging since he was turned away earlier this week from a Manhattan townhouse.

Yesterday, Qaddafi's henchmen were found trying to pitch an elaborate tent to be used by him for entertaining, on the Seven Springs Estate owned by Donald Trump in Bedford, New York. The Westchester Journal News quoted one law enforcement officer as saying that they were notified by U.S. Secret Service earlier in the day that Qaddafi's advance people were setting up the tent, but that the Trump people did not seem to know that he was the one renting the ground. Local politicians were quick to react to the news, in light of the controversy surrounding the recent release of convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi.

Speaking in the Westchester Journal, County Executive Andy Spano said, "There is no legal way to prevent this as he is a head of state despite the fact that he has a long history as a terrorist."

A building inspector had tried yesterday to deliver a stop work order because the tent, which had already been installed with satellite tv violated local regulations, but no one on the site spoke English. Finally, last night, Bedford town attorney Joel Sachs was able to declare the tent an illegal structure because Qaddafi's crews had not gotten a work permit. Meanwhile, the Libyan leader is still not having success in finding a place to call his temporary American home.

So what is a poor homeless terrorist to do? Fox News this morning conducted a hysterically funny poll asking Americans to give ideas about where Qaddafi can pitch his tent. Suggestions like: "the moon," "the Grand Canyon on a windy day," and "in the middle of the Atlantic" were among my personal favorites. Where do you think the tent should be put? I'm thinking on the White House Lawn, then perhaps we could name him "Property Czar" as he now has plenty of experience in being homeless,and his politics aren't that far off from some of our other Czars.

Video Alert:

The production company owned by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and his wife Callista has just released a new documentary, Rediscovering God in America II - Our Heritage.

The film explores the role of religion in early America and our forefathers belief that "Our Creator" is the source of our liberty, prosperity and survivial. Tracing our history from the first permanent English settlement at Jamestown in 1607 to the end of the civil war in 1865, Rediscovering God in America II tells the story of the deep faith that motivated our leaders and highlights those leaders belief in religious freedom.

Imagine that! Faith and Religious Freedom really did play a role in the founding of America! I can't wait to see the documentary. You can buy it at

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It's Not Just the Flu that's Swine

It looks like the state of Massachusetts will be the first to pass a law that will force residents to get the H1N1 vaccination, otherwise known as the Swine Flu shot. Governor Deval Patrick said he will sign the bill that gives police the power to enter homes without warrant and forcibly vaccinate or quarantine those who refuse the injection. Adults would be quarantined, and could face up to six months jail time if they refuse. Children would be removed from the home and vaccinated even if it is against their parents wishes.

This is unbelievable! What happened to a person's right to refuse medical treatment? What happened to a person's right to preserve their own body?

Enacting this type of law is engaging in just the type of panic that we've been told to avoid when it comes to Swine Flu, or any other disease. We've all heard the warnings. We've all been taught the most effective procedures for preventing any kind of flu. Measures like washing our hands, covering our mouths when we cough, they're no different for the Swine Flu. But now, one state plans to enact Marshall Law destroying the rights of it's citizens? First, it's Massachusetts, then as the outbreak widens, it's likely that other states will follow suit.

So what happens if the government does begin to force the injections on people? Back in 1976 dozens of people died in the Swine Flu vaccination program, and they died from the shot not the flu. What about people like myself who have chronic illnesses and who have to be very careful when taking new medications? Will the police believe me if I try to stop them from injecting me? Who will protect me if I'm thrown in jail exposed to others who may or may not have the disease? If I'm quarantined will the government force my employer to pay me for lost time from work? If police are allowed to inject citizens, who will be responsible if their lack of medical training causes an injection site reaction? While I'm speaking in the hypothetical, these questions and hundreds of others have to be addressed before Massachusetts or any state begins to force drugs on people who may or may not be able to take them.

If Governor Patrick goes through with this program, I believe there will be a civil revolt and the state will have problems far greater than the Swine Flu. Our ancestors died to preserve the personal freedoms that this law will take away, and Swine Flu or not, I'm sure many will once again be willing to die to preserve those freedoms.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Out With the Bathwater

A trip for one Arizona family turned into a nightmare recently, when Child Protective Services showed up at their home and took their children away. Lisa and Anthony Demaree had taken their three kids, then ages 18 mo., 4 and 5 to San Diego and like many parents have done, took some photos of the three girls in the bathtub.

After taking the pictures, (which were part of many that were taken on the trip) to WalMart to be developed, an employee saw that the girls were partially nude and called the police reporting a case of child pornography. The Demarees lost custody of their children for a month while an investigation ensued. Now, they are suing WalMart, and the Arizona Attorney General's Office claiming that the defamation to their character has left them with long term psychological effect.

So what do you think? Pornography or parents who thought their kids were cute while playing in the tub? How many of us have taken bath tub photos of our own kids? How many of us as adults still cringe when Mom pulls out the bath tub photos of us?

This is yet another case where a system that is supposed to protect kids has failed miserably. Some kids are abused for years, and it is only discovered when their bodies are found. These little girls obviously had a loving family who wanted to capture the memory of their playing in the tub, but they had to endure a month long separation from their home because some overeager employee had a dirty mind. That's outrageous and I hope the Demarees collect a bundle.

Big kudos are also going out today to the real estate agent in New Jersey who refused to let agents for Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi strong arm him into providing living space for the dictator during an upcoming United Nations General Assembly. The agents wanted Jason Haber, a broker for Prudential Douglas Elliman to clear out the residents of a posh Manhattan townhouse so Qaddafi could move in. Habor told them that if they sent convicted Lockerbie Scotland bomber
Abdel Baset al-Megrahi back to Scotland maybe something could be worked out. Qaddafi's people hung up, and now they reportedly are having trouble finding him a place to live.

Now that's chutzpah! I think Jason Haber belongs in politics! What do you think?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Big Brother, Big Brother, Are You There?

Today, I thought I'd discuss an interesting Facebook conversation I participated in yesterday.

The Washington Times reports that The White House is now collecting and storing comments and videos placed on its social-networking sites, like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube without asking the consent of, or notifying the users. This seems to run counter to the president's promise during his campaign to protect privacy on the internet and to run a transparent government. One Obama campaign document pledged, that as president he plans to strengthen privacy protections for the digital age and it said he will harness the power of technology to hold both government and business accountable for violations of personal privacy.

The document was perhaps making reference to President Bush's policy of uploading presidential speeches onto iTunes, and other governmental monitoring like wire tapping the phones and monitoring the websites of suspected terrorists. According to David Almacy who served as the Bush Internet Director, the administration did not use the then fledgling social-networking sites in the same manner that the Obama White House is currently using them. The administration did however admit to archiving comments posted on its official website, but not the social networks.

So, the question is: Is president Obama continuing president Bush's policy of government monitoring or is he expanding it? Perhaps even more important than that, is the basic issue of why this is being done in the first place. We were told that our privacy would be protected, not invaded. Were we not being told the truth? This type of monitoring was supposed to be stopped, not enhanced.

As uncomfortable as the issue can make us, one can almost understand why some monitoring needs to be done, if government websites are subject to threats from possible terrorists. I suppose there is a certain amount of privacy invasion that needs to take place, to keep us safe. BUT IT IS A SLIPPERY SLOPE! At what point does monitoring for national security turn into monitoring because someone disagrees with one of the president's proposals? Since the healthcare debate has raged across this country with the polls showing that most Americans do not favor the Obama plan, more and more of these types of issues are cropping up. Even on this blog, links to pro-Obama messages started mysteriously popping up when I typed in text such as "Insurance" or "Healthcare." (and it took forever to remove) While I'm not suggesting that I'm being monitored, it makes me a bit nervous and is a very strange coincidence at a time when so much of this stuff is happening.

Our forefather's died for our freedoms and rights and the basic concept of open dialogue and free speech is as integral to America as the air we breathe. I may not like what you have to say, but I'd certainly stand up for your right to say it. If the president and his administration are truly gathering information about people because of open dialogue that may not agree with their proposed policies, then that is immoral and un-American.

Remember Mr. President we still live in America, although it may not look so much like it anymore. Those who voted for you last November did so because they liked the message that you delivered, and they cast their ballots because you had the right to call for the change that you believed was needed, even though many of us disagreed. With all due respect, you've had your say Sir, and you continue (and rightfully so) to get your say each and every day across the main stream news. For those of us who want to engage in a discussion about your policies and ideas, we are simply asking for the same right.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Healing of America

Having just come through a serious illness of my own, I listened with interest this morning as New York Times bestselling author T.R. Reid discussed his new book "The Healing of America."

In the book, Reid gives an account of his findings after his visit to wealthy, industrialized democracies worldwide to investigate which countries have the best healthcare system.

After stops in Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the U.K., Reid found inspiration in the fact that unlike the U.S., these countries have achieved their goal of providing all citizens health care at a reasonable cost. He also found that "socialized medicine" is not the way that the successful countries are caring for their citizens. The coverage is there, and the healthcare statistics are better than those we have here in the U.S., but it's being provided through private doctors, private hospitals and private insurance. While Reid did find some problems, like long lines in Canada, sparse facilities in parts of France, and poorly paid doctors in Japan, none of the various world systems he reviewed are run by the government.

I only hope that our own government considers the investigations of people like Reid as they continue the debate over our own healthcare reform. We definitely need change. A two week infection has cost me several thousand dollars, and I may need more treatment before it's all over. But, that care should not be handed down by a government who has had so many problems running itself, leaving our country in the current financial state it is in. In fact, had I have faced my illness in a socialized system, I'd probably still be waiting for the care that in this case may have saved my life.

Basic healthcare is a fundamental right of all human beings. Government run healthcare is a tragedy waiting to happen.

Check out "The Healing of America." It's available at online booksellers like, and is a worthwhile read in a time when so much is at stake.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Have We Forgotten?

It was 8 years ago today that terrorists changed the face of America forever. It was about this time of day when the two planes crashed into the world trade center, one hit the Pentagon, and one was forced down onto a Pennsylvania field. Over three thousand lives were lost, and Americans were left feeling vulnerable and afraid. Most of us will never forget the horrific images of burning/collapsing buildings and people jumping from the top floors of the Trade Center to their death. A few weeks later, America went to war in Afghanistan, a home bred terrorist started sending Anthrax through the mail, and many of us feared that life as we knew it was over.

Today, we remember. But do we really? I'd like to think that I take the time every day to remember the lives that were lost, but as Americans we all seem to have an innate ability to move beyond a crisis and settle back into the status quo. I remember so well the graphic images of the death and destruction, yet if I'm honest, I only ponder the events of Sept. 11, 2001, each year on the anniversary of the attacks. I feel as if that's the case for many of us.

I also wonder about the thousands of people who converted to Christianity that day as they faced their own mortality. Do they still believe? Do they live a life of service as requested by God? Or, have they too, forgotten the horrors and returned to the life they knew before? If the television news is any indicator my guess is the latter.

I remember where I was that day, headed from Cincinnati to Gatlinburg, Tennessee with no airplanes in the sky and no other cars on the road. At each stop I remember telling anyone who would listen that God was still in control, but do I witness with such passion today? Like everyone else I am guilty of forgetting, and like everyone else I need to take pause and remember that God is still in control.

So if you're taking a moment today to remember the lives that were lost, I hope that you'll remember more than just the tragedy of Sept. 11. I hope that you'll remember that while lives were lost that day souls were saved, and that is one part of this anniversary that will always offer hope.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Beautiful Mess - The Story of Diamond Rio

Life wasn't always easy for the members of Diamond Rio. From their humble beginnings as theme park performers through their rise to country music superstardom, the book "Beautiful Mess" - The Story of Diamond Rio," highlights the personal and professional struggles of each band member, proving once and for all that the road to the top isn't always paved with gold.

While the book provides a glimpse into the career path of each member of the group, it was their personal stories that held my interest. Stories such as the vocal struggle that almost cost lead singer Marty Roe his career, the health related challenges for Gene Johnson, the adventuresome spirit of Jimmy Olander, and the hysterical anecdotes as told by Dana Williams, are what kept me reading.

My only criticism of "Beautiful Mess" is that it becomes a bit bogged down in the early chapters when author Tom Roland chronicles the band's rise to fame. I personally, would have liked to read more of the story from the band members point of view and less about the details of the various country music connections that brought them together. That being said, overall the book is an interesting read, and the second half of it is sure to inspire anyone who enjoys a story about the rise from rags to riches.

Product Details
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson (September 15, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1595552685
ISBN-13: 978-1595552686

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Happy Labor Day!

I'm taking a few days off and will not be posting until Tuesday Sept. 8

Have a great Holiday!

Take the Tiara off that Toddler!

I was half asleep last night, clicking through the channels, when I came across a show I found absolutely appalling. It's called "Toddlers and Tiaras" and is aired on TLC. Upon further research I found that the show, in its second season, follows the toddler beauty pageant circuit. TLC bills it as a look at passionate moms who "glam" up their little divas adorning them with spray-on tans, fake eyelashes, fingernails, and more make up than most adults wear for a night out. (Sadly, think JonBenet Ramsey)

The part of the show that I saw, featured the performances of girls as young as four. They were doing the "shimmy shake" and dancing around like they were strippers in some gentleman's club. "THEY WERE FOUR!" The little girls had on so much make up that they they looked plastic.

In the older category (11-13 year olds) the girls were dressed suggestively and looked 30. If that isn't horrifying enough, their mothers were standing by, some dancing their routine on the sideline as the girls performed on stage. One child's mom made a scene because the music died when her daughter started her performance and she could be heard yelling above the crowd for her little girl to get off set.

Lest you think this is just some isolated beauty pageant that is being exploited by a cable network, think again. According to the TLC website this season will focus on the Hawaiian pageant circuit and the Gold Coast Pageants that inspired the movie Little Miss Sunshine. (now I know why that is one of my favorite movies) These pageants are making millions and hundreds of little girls are being exploited each year.

While I have never been blessed with children I have to pause when I see this kind of program and ask: "What the heck is wrong with the mothers who would do this to their own child?' We've talked about child abuse this week and in my opinion this is an example of the worst kind of abuse. There is a problem in this country with an oversexualization of young girls, and for many of them, this kiddie beauty pageant circuit is where it starts.

When a mother parades her daughter around as a sex object before she is old enough for grade school, it is NOT normal. I find it unbelieveable that any responsible parent would want middle aged men glaring at their skimpily clad daughter, and that they would encourage it by making their baby up to look like a young adult. (and there were middle aged men in the TLC crowd, glaring on as these girls danced.) Calling Doctor Phil, Calling Doctor Phil! We've got years of therapy ahead for these poor children.

Sadly, I think TLC is first, trying to make a buck, and secondly trying to expose these mothers who have twisted the reality of their children's worlds. However, they're doing it at the expense of the children who they feature. I'm concerned that those who are prone to engaging in this type of exhibitionism will see this show as yet another chance for even more exposure for their daughters, which will likely make many more people want to be a part of it.

What happened to the idea of innocence and purity for little children? Is it just another Biblical concept that society wants to throw away? While I may not be a fan of beauty contests in general, at least the young adult women are making up their own minds that this is where they want to be. (although I realize many of them started as a child) However, for these little girls , a desire to dress up and please mommy, is taking them down a dark road that can destroy their values and self worth.

It's not only sad when some adult woman parades a toddler on stage and television so she can somehow fufill her own dream of being adored by the masses, I believe it's criminal. I only hope that as TLC kicks off this second season of Toddlers and Tiaras, the response is dismal, and this season will be the show's last.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Do You Trust in God?

I'm encouraged today, in spite of one atheist's attempt to remove the name of God from American currency. Michael Newdow, who you may know as the man who has spent the past four years trying to ban the Pledge of Allegiance from being recited in public schools, is now challenging the motto that is printed on our money because it refers to God.

Saying the motto "In God We Trust" is an unconstitutional endorsement of religion, Newdow, a California doctor and lawyer filed a federal lawsuit last week, and this is the same argument that he used when challenging the Pledge.

So, why I am encouraged? Well, MSNBC (see liberal friends I do watch something besides Fox News!) has put a poll on their website asking the American public to vote on whether the motto should be removed.

The link is: if you want to click through and vote.

The result? 88% of those who voted say that Newdow is all wet, and that the motto "In God We Trust" should remain! Yea!

While I realize that much of that 88% is made up of Christians and others who have no problem with God, I think it is wonderful that in a time when His name is being denigrated in our government, our schools and our entertainment, a sampling of our citizens overwhelmingly feel that it's ok if He stays on the money.

So, click through and vote if you haven't already,because it's your chance to go on record for a God who has blessed us mightily.

As for you Mr. Newdow, the people have spoken and it would appear that you need to leave God alone and find someone else to hassle.