It’s unfair to blame the dog

My take on the news


PAWTUCKET PIT BULLS:  The City of Pawtucket has long had an ordinance that prohibits the pit bull breed of dogs from the city.  The General Assembly passed a law this year prohibiting municipalities from banning a specific dog breed, to include pit bulls.  Pawtucket plans to continue enforcing its ordinance claiming the law is prospective, that it applies only to cities that contemplate such ordinances in the future.  Clearly, our legislature did not intend the law to be strictly prospective since it refused to pass an amendment that would have exempted Pawtucket from the law’s requirement.  So, Pawtucket intends to violate state law.

Humans, regardless of race or ethnicity, are born neither “good” nor “bad”.  They have “clean slate” personalities that humans “program” through parenting, education, and peer socialization.  Likewise, dogs’ personalities are cultivated through human handling and training.  Like humans, they can become “good” or “bad” dogs.  They are not intrinsically good or bad at birth.

Referring to dog bites, one state legislator made a statement that seems to reflect the legislature’s majority opinion, “It is unfair to blame the animal.  Municipalities should, instead, target the people who...purposely make them vicious.” 

RHODE ISLANDERS AND GUNS: Let’s hope our legislators remember the pit bull issue when some of them try to deprive law-abiding citizens of firearms.  Just as specific dog breeds should not be banned and, instead, owners who turn their dogs into weapons should be targeted, the legislature needs to concentrate on targeting criminals who misuse guns instead of depriving law-abiding citizens of gun ownership.

Like dogs breeds, guns are not intrinsically “good” or “bad”.  It is their human handlers who make them into murderous instruments. 

CLOSE ENOUGH FOR GOVERNMENT WORK IN WARWICK?  Its school department can’t track its spending and, at year’s end, discovered a “surprise” budget surplus of $2.5 million.  Its tax collector’s office just can’t seem to get tax bills accurate.  It’s budget officer seems to have overstated needed revenue since the City Council easily found a half million dollars to cut from next year’s budget and, given more time, would likely have found much more. 

What exactly is wrong with the City’s administration?  City services, such as police, fire and garbage collection, seem to be functioning wonderfully.  But what’s going on at City Hall?  Does the city have too many employees who no longer pay attention to details, thinking “It’s close enough for government work”?  Mayor Avedisian is a smart, thoughtful and effective mayor but, after so many years in office, has he relaxed too much in his oversight of the minions at City Hall.  Let’s hope not!

BLOCK TO RUN FOR GOVERNOR AS A REPUBLICAN?  Ken Block, founder of the Moderate Party in Rhode Island and its candidate for governor in 2010, says he may run for governor in 2014 as a Republican.  He plans to poll Rhode Islanders to determine whether his move to the GOP will make him a more attractive gubernatorial candidate.

Some will consider him a “sell out” deserter from the Moderate Party and will vote against him in a Republican primary.  Others will vote for him in a primary thinking that he has the best shot to defeat Gina Raimondo or Angel Taveras in the general election. 

What voters should be considering is whether or not Ken Block will make the best governor.  His record is impressive.  He is a pragmatic politician with the business background that could make him an ideal governor.  Certainly, his published ideas on how Rhode Island government should be reformed to enhance our economic future are well-reasoned, practical and achievable.  Further, he seems to have the courage to “buck the trend” by taking unpopular positions that he believes will benefit our citizens in the long run.  He will be a formidable candidate whether Moderate or Republican.

Considering the quality of potential candidates, including Block, it certainly looks like the 2014 governor’s race is going to be the most interesting one we’ve experienced in a very long time.         

R.I. LOBBYISTS PAID BY TAXPAYERS:  It looks like the taxpayers get screwed in the long run no matter what.  The Ocean State Network for Children and Families, a non-profit organization that represents 23 non-profit social service providers, recently sent a bill to the provider agencies demanding they pay a collective $30,000 for lobbyists who had successfully strong-armed the General Assembly into anteing up an extra $5.2 million in taxpayer dollars for the providers.  Unfortunately, the only monies the social service providers have come from state and federal funds.  So, in order to pay their “assessments,” they must use taxpayer-provided money.  Thus, lobbyists will be paid with taxpayer dollars.  The bottom line:  our tax dollars are paying lobbyists to convince lawmakers to take even more money from us. 

Just as disturbing is the revelation that the CEO of Family Service of Rhode Island, Margaret Holland McDuff, who also serves as head of Ocean State Network, is paid $266,000 per year in salary and benefits.  So, a non-profit social service agency head makes an exorbitant, taxpayer-provided salary while she parcels out even more taxpayer dollars to lobbyists.  It’s no wonder our state is broke!

PRESIDENT OF “MARGARITAVILLE”? We’ve grown used to President Obama passing the buck by telling us that he knew nothing of major problems within his administration while he passed blame to one of his subordinates.  According to him, he learns of administration misbehavior the same time we do - in the breaking news.  But his speech this week, which was largely a blistering attack on Congress - especially Republicans, was totally devoid of any mention that he - the most powerful politician in Washington - has any responsibility to work with Congress to improve our economy.  He’s passing the buck again!  Blame and responsibility slide off him like he’s “covered with oil”. Perhaps the “Margaritaville” reference is applicable, since his shunning of responsibility makes him more like a “tourist” in the White House instead of a president.

Beyond passing the buck, Obama reached a new low in this speech.  He called the controversies in which his administration has recently been embroiled “phony scandals”.  Regardless on which side of the issues you stand, there is no way a reasonable person can agree that IRS targeting of political beliefs, NSA’s massive snooping into the private lives of law-abiding citizens, and the government forcing news organizations to turn over reporters’ records without search warrants are “phony scandals”.  Perhaps Obama’s approval rating ebbing to its lowest level is an indication the news media and the American public have become more astute and will no longer allow him to continue his buck passing denials.

CICILLINE’S AND LANGEVIN’S NSA VOTES:  Congressmen David Cicilline and James Langevin, usually two peas of a pod as they support the Democrat party’s big-spending, big taxing agenda, voted very differently on a House bill that would have cut funding to NSA’s program of surveillance on law-abiding citizens.  In one of the closest votes in ages, the bill failed by 217-205, a margin of only 12 votes.  As the American people’s opinion continues to trend toward retrieving a modicum of privacy from the far-reaching, intrusive, and secret snooping into our lives by our government, Congressman Langevin’s vote to continue the no-warrant searches that violate the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment will be remembered.  It will certainly become an issue in his next attempt at reelection.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK:  Germany’s security minister, Hans-Peter Friedrich, told the German people last week that, because of U.S. government spying on law-abiding citizens of all nations who use the Internet and U.S. companies’ cooperation with the government, that Germans should stop using websites like Google and Facebook.  He said, “Whoever fears their communication is being intercepted in any way should use services that do not go through American servers.”

The German response to U.S. surveillance is chilling.  It reflects the reality that this former Nazi country is far freer than the supposedly free country that defeated it in WWII. It’s pathetic but true.


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