Donation kettle brings? out the best in people

Working for the Salvation Army this Christmas season in kettle assistance has allowed me to see the better side of people. It couldn't have happened at a better time after the political bickering this past November.

There were a number of possible YouTube moments with the kids while ringing my Christmas bell for donations. It is still amazing to see the effect the children eager to donate have over parents who may be hesitant. A little girl asked me how many pennies she could put in the kettle and she smiled when I told her the more pennies, the more people she would bless.

What impressed me most of all, however, was the countless times people who donated shared with me how the Salvation Army helped their families when they didn't have a leg to stand on. These were testimonies from people of all ages. One of these individuals told me every time she passed a donation kettle, she would give whatever she could in memory of how the Salvation Army reached out to her family when she was a child.

So, if you are considering where to donate this holiday season (and throughout the year) the Salvation Army is a great choice.

Carolyn Sabia



Scapegoating the rich? won't end fiscal crisis

President Obama's "My2K" (referring to the average American family $2,200 tax increase if the Bush tax cuts expire) Twitter campaign seeks to substitute self-interest for the national interest. The deficit will balloon an extra $3 trillion in 10 years if the Bush tax cuts are not allowed to expire, with an additional $600 billion of interest payment competing with discretionary spending (defense and nondefense spending like Medicare) in the national budget. The $80 billion per year gained by taxing only the rich simply won't resolve our deficit problem. The additional $220 billion per year, gained by also taxing the rest of us, will – at least in the medium term.

To address this problem, Obama must enlist us all in this fight against the debt. Scapegoating the rich fails us. We need a leader – a leader who solves our problems, not adds to them by pitting us one against the other.

Noreen Johnson



Suffering animals? should be put down

I am compelled to share my growing concern over the very public heroic efforts displayed over these past several weeks to save the lives of extremely injured or neglected animals. I see a couple of different issues here.

First we have sweet Phoenix, the dog that was severely burned. I cannot tell you how disturbing it was to see this dog suffer night after night. I do not understand why donors would spend thousands of dollars to save this dog, which was in agonizing pain. Does it make sense that we put down perfectly healthy dogs because we cannot afford to shelter them, yet put forth such effort to save this severely injured animal?

Then we have Metro, who was left at the doorstep of a vet. As I see it, a compassionate person tried to do the right thing and drop this dog off where it may receive help. The vet, practicing in an area where I imagine he is compelled to help animals at his expense regularly, is made out to be a monster for not accepting this animal into the office. As it turned out, it was the custodian who turned away the dog, but now the focus is on the "criminal" who dropped Metro off.

These animals, while recuperating quite nicely, would have been put down in the name of being humane not long ago. There are other criminal acts that deserve the focus and attention of law enforcement and our local news venues. I am not suggesting that we ignore the obvious need to punish those who acted viciously toward the animals, simply suggesting that we revisit our priorities.

Kathy Cieslak



Republicans' rejection ?of U.N. treaty is shameful

Just when you think the Republicans in the Senate cannot vote in a more backward and misinformed manner, they show there are no limits on their misguided beliefs. The arguments put forward on voting no to the U.N. treaty banning discrimination against persons with disabilities are absurd.

This treaty was negotiated by President George W. Bush, endorsed by former Sen. Robert Dole and endorsed by many military and citizens disability organizations. The Republicans passed Dole, sitting in a wheelchair in the Senate, shook his hand and shortly thereafter stabbed him in the back with a no vote.

The arguments put forward by the home school movement hold no validity regarding the treatment of children with a disability. The treaty also has no ties to abortion rights, as these Republicans claimed. The United Nations would have zero authority in the United States regarding the treaty.

Rick Santorum, a leader in the scare tactics of the party, tied this treaty to how it would affect his own disabled daughter, which has zero basis in fact. This man still believes he is a possible presidential candidate in 2016. I have a better chance of winning the next $500 million Powerball lottery than he does of ever holding that office.

A truly sad and disgraceful day in our Senate chamber.

Mark A. Muchowski

Orchard Park


West Point cadet who quit ?lacks respect, backbone

The recent article in The News about a West Point cadet quitting the academy six months before graduation because he felt he could no longer be part of a culture that promotes prayer makes me glad that he did what he did. I certainly don't want an officer with a mindset like his in any branch of our military.

His very action mocks our history and some of our greatest presidents. George Washington prayed for guidance during the Revolutionary War, while Abraham Lincoln did the same during the Civil War and even proclaimed a national day of prayer on April 30, 1863. President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered a great and memorable radio prayer on June 6, 1944, while our military forces were hitting the beaches at Normandy.

This cadet spoke of disrespect toward non-religious cadets, yet he showed profound disrespect to the thousands of military personnel who made their peace with their creator before going into battle and dying. And he showed his lack of backbone when he said he felt offended because instructors jokingly used the term "heathens" toward non-religious cadets. I wonder how he would feel in enemy captivity, where his captors might use more succinct terminology? In my mind, as a veteran, I'm glad he quit the academy because I feel he did our country a favor. I only regret that he has taken up a slot that could have been filled by someone who would have shown respect for those who came before and for beliefs not completely understood by all.

Norman Machynski