You are currently browsing the archives for February 2010.
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Hooked on Law and Order

  • Posted on February 28, 2010 at 1:27 pm

The last couple of weekends I find myself searching for “Law and Order” shows on television.  It doesn’t matter if it’s the original Law and Order or the SUV  or Criminal Intent one.  It doesn’t matter which actors are involved.  I admit it.  I am a “Law and Order” addict.  What I don’t get is why and when this happened.  I would rather watch Law and Order than just about anything else on television.  It can even be shows I’ve already seen.  It doesn’t matter.  The shows are essentially the same, you know the cops will eventually get their suspect and the killer is usually one diabolical person that needs to go to jail!

In life I don’t think things are quite this easy and the lawyers and police are as intelligent about solving their crimes.  It doesn’t matter about real life though I’m still drawn to the fake life of Law and Order.  The actors on the show whether they be the “stars” or visiting actors are always top notch and oh so believable.  I really don’t have one favorite.  I like most of them pretty much equally well, so what could possibly be drawing me to this show?

I don’t know anyone that has murdered someone else and I don’t think I’d find them all that interesting to talk to but for some reason stories about murder I find very compelling.  I like to read things by Dan Brown, you know the Da Vinci code guy, and James Patterson which both are consumed with MURDER.  Dan has quite a plot going on and James seems to work with different teams of writers to turn out one formulaic murder after another that some how gets solved.  It’s funny when you think about it.  I’m as straight laced and orderly as you can imagine.  I don’t break the law and I set my cruise control so I don’t get tickets.  I always slow down when I see a police car even though I’m just going the speed limit.  I cross every “T” and dot every “I” because I don’t want to break any rules.  I am so used to following the rules I can’t imagine breaking ANY rules.  Is this why I love to see and read about all of these crazy murders?

One of my favorite shows to watch is the unlikely show of “24”.  I don’t believe in torture at all and think our country has been on a slippery slope that is an embarrassment for what we have always stood for but one year my son and I counted the ways “Jack” killed people on the show.  Both of us love that show for the action and drama.  Fortunately, I can always separate reality from a television drama.  Just because I like these murder and mystery dramas doesn’t mean that I believe our country should be run with torture and lawyers that step on the border of civil liberties.  These are fantasy shows that I find very interesting.  It doesn’t mean I believe in capital punishment or throwing people in the slammer and throwing away the key.  It means something else I’m sure but I’m not sure what.  It isn’t gore that I like.  I used to like to watch those “CSI” shows but now I avoid them.  I can’t stand the gruesome autopsies.  I think that’s just sick.  I don’t need the blood and guts to be drawn into the murder investigation.  I think it’s the characters that really pull me in to Law and Order.  It’s all of the interesting lives from poor to rich but all have murder on their minds.  So I sit here listening to Law and Order and turn the channel from TNT to USA because TNT went to a movie and USA is still playing Law and Order SUV.  I can’t get enough of it and hope it stays on telelvision because I can’t imagine watching another stupid reality show and I think the dogs agree!

I don’t think it will hurt me but this is one addict that is going to keep getting her fix form Law and Order as long as that candy is put on television!

Health Care Reform

  • Posted on February 27, 2010 at 11:21 pm

Like everyone else I have a lot of concerns about health care reform.  I don’t trust either political party as both have been backed by the corporations.  In my own job as a teacher the health insurance cost has sky rocketed since September 11th, 2001.  We used to have MESSA Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance and it was considered the “Cadillac” of all plans.  After much negotiation we kept that plan for awhile and each teacher contributed about $2500 a year.  Eventually, it just got too expensive and we went to a Blue Cross Blue Shield PPO plan.  The cost for our school like any other business is astronomical.  Those in congress that don’t want to fix this system have their heads stuck in the proverbial sand.  In my opinion there is no way business can continue to sustain this cost.  I believe costs could be cut considerably with a single payer system.  If we all paid in with some kind of graduated plan, we would all share in the burden and perhaps we could focus negotiations on salary instead of insurance.  Sharing that burden across a wide spectrum of salaries should mean the best for the greater good of all.  I believe we must have healthy people to have a healthy nation.  No one wants to be next to that person in public that is coughing and wheezing because they can’t afford medical care.  Our country should and is better than this.  It is unconscionable that there are people that become so ill that they only get to the doctor as a last resort.  This is a moral indictment of our country and its lack of respect for its greatest resource, its people.  We hear all of the politicians that talk about the “greatest generation” and how noble they were and how lucky we are that they fought for our freedoms in WWII.  What about this generation?  Why can’t we as a country stand up and declare that this generation is great and in their greatness we will devote ourselves to solving the problems of this generation and fight for their jobs, health care and general well being?

I came across this great website that has a great deal of information about the issue of health care in our country.  It’s a non-partisan site and I highly recommend it for learning more about this issue.

http://www.kff.org/

If you move around the site you will find many areas of interests.  At this point you can find a side by side comparison of the different proposals in congress.

http://www.kff.org/healthreform/sidebyside.cfm

Here is a snippet from the section about the uninsured:

Key Details:
Workers usually enroll in employer-sponsored health insurance if they are
eligible. Since the average annual cost of employer-sponsored family coverage in
2009 was $13,375, lower income workers cannot afford these plans without
sizable contributions from their employers.3
• Since 2000, the percentage of firms offering coverage has decreased from 69% to
60% and the percent of people with employer-sponsored insurance has also
decreased. Recent declines in employers offering coverage have had the greatest
impact on low-income employees.4
• The uninsured realize that health insurance is important but cannot find affordable
coverage. In a recent government survey, only 2% of adults said that one of the
reasons they are uninsured is because they do not need coverage.5
• About three-quarters of the uninsured are uninsured for more than one year.6 The
uninsured often remain without coverage because they do not have access to
employer-sponsored insurance.
Nonelderly Uninsured by
Family Work Status, 2008
Total = 45.7 million uninsured

Another thing I came across is the fact that more people as they become unemployed are qualifying for Medicaid so we are already paying for them.  As with everything it seems that the lower middle class are hurt the most, if you really consider them to be called middle class any more.  I can understand small businesses that cannot afford to figure out how to pay for health insurance.  If health insurance costs are getting to around $13000 for most companies how can a beginning company compete with this, or any company for that matter?

It is time for the government to close all of these loop holes for the insurance and pharmaceutical companies and reform health care for the benefit of all of us.  Politicians that seem to want to stall any effort to reform this system need to be voted out for the good of all.

William Miller

  • Posted on February 25, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Mom and Dad

I sit here thinking about my father today

With his well worn hands

Yet gentle way

My dad liked working with those hands

Whether pulling a weed or mixing some dough

There was always some work that just had to be done

But of course there was also time for some fun

In his later years my dad missed my mom

Even when she was holding cards, shaking her leg

And you knew what was to come

Because she had that twinkle in her eyes

She loved beating dad at cards

But it was hard to see dad when mom was gone

A part of him was gone too

Mom and dad were really just one

I’ve never really gotten over losing my folks

They stay in my heart and I think of them daily

Sometimes it’s little things that make me think of them

Like the date today, Daddy’s birthday

Sometimes it’s even watching the Pistons

My mom was really their number one fan

If I drink Irish crème I always think of my dad

And the many times we spiked our coffee together

Sometimes I’ll see an elderly man or woman

Notice the way they carry themselves and I’ m reminded

Of the two I hold most dear

My wonderful parents that were always there for me

Pressing me on and helping me

Holding my hand through the rough times

Lifting me up when I needed it

Encouraging me when I was discouraged

Just always there for me and my son

Watching Josh read a book upside down

Peeling an Onion and laughing

When Josh bit into it like his Grandpa

I remember that hearty, belly laugh

That goes to your soul and fills you up

And makes you feel like you don’t want to be

Any place else in the world

But in the valley of your father’s laughter

Watching those sparkling blue eyes twinkle

Drinking in the last of a good joke or story about the old days

When dad was young and mom was too

And all they had was their love so true

Union Busting

  • Posted on February 24, 2010 at 9:29 pm

Central Falls High School

Every union in the United States of America will be busted in time.  Unions really built the middle class.  If it wasn’t for unions all wages would have been kept low for most people.  When a union goes into a community it puts pressure on other companies to up their wages in order to recruit good workers and also to include things like health insurance.  Since Ronald Reagan it has been fashionable to bust the unions.  He busted the air traffic controllers.  It’s been down hill ever since for anyone belonging to a union.  Today I think there are only about 8% of the people that even belong to a union.  The next unions to take the hit are going to be the teacher’s unions.  They are going to be busted.  The government is doing everything they can to talk about the poor quality of teachers, which really is bogus.  Teachers are more qualified today than they ever have been.  They have degrees that include a major in the area they are teaching.  Many have other things they bring to their teaching experience whether it is other work experiences or even travel experiences.

Today I came home and saw this on the news.  http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/02/24/rhode.island.teachers/index.html?hpt=T2

The Superintendent stays and every teacher, principal, etc. is fired.  This is incredible.  If you read the article you will see that they have made some gains with testing.  The trouble was in the negotiations.  This is a drastic move by the board of education.  I know I wouldn’t want my child to go to this school.  They care so little for the children that they will expose them to an all new crew.  They may hire up to 50% back but who knows who the “chosen” ones will be.  Probably the ones that keep their mouths shut and don’t ask any questions or rock the boat in any way.  Any one with a brain knows that not all of these teachers fired are poor teachers.  Maybe none of them are as it is a largely Hispanic community where English is a second language.  NCLB has very difficult standards of testing for these new English learners.  It amazes me that they expect so much from them so quickly.  Our Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, applauds this move.  http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=433×195524 This shows me where Obama stands on the issue of unions.  When the government wants to go into communities and fire teachers and staff and then create a new or charter school in its place that is all about destroying public schools and unions.  I cannot be convinced that this is a great move for this community.  I know how I feel about my students and I know how hard I work each and every day to help students find success.  I don’t believe this school in Rhode Island doesn’t have hard working, talented teachers that just got fired!

As I was looking online I came across this.  http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://newsblog.projo.com/mocchi_poster.jpg&imgrefurl=http://newsblog.projo.com/2009/08/funeral-set-for.html&usg=__bxvIHLt5FbMjPvVznexbC1TmHRo=&h=341&w=512&sz=58&hl=en&start=5&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=GgLaNIjFpBvt6M:&tbnh=87&tbnw=131&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dcentral%2Bfalls%2Bhigh%2Bschool%2Bteachers%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26rlz%3D1B3GGGL_enUS231US233%26tbs%3Disch:1 This school started the year with tragedy, a well liked teacher died in a crash and now their going to lose all of their teachers.  Wow, this school is in crisis and these poor kids are being treated like just a bunch of numbers on a score card for testing!

CEO Pay and the American Dream

  • Posted on February 23, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Gary Markstein from Cagle Blogs

http://cagle.msnbc.com/news/CEOSalaryCaps/1.asp

I came across an interesting website yesterday.  I was searching for information on the cost of congress.  I read some things but happened upon this site.  http://www.bls.gov/oes/2008/may/oes_nat.htm#b00-0000 What is interesting to me about this site is in the area of healthcare support workers.  Since there are so many people in the baby boom generation getting ready to retire I kind of think there will be plenty of jobs in the future in the area of health care workers.  You know the low paying type jobs where people are cleaning bed pans and taking care of the daily lives of our aging population.  Our young people looking for jobs have so much to look forward to if they are in food service or healthcare support.  Maybe one needs to be an air traffic controller instead.  Even though Reagan busted that union in the eighties it sure looks like that’s a job some might want with the high pay.  An ambulance driver makes less than a bus driver.  Wow, when your life is on the line, who are you going to call?  Sadly missing from this list are the CEO’s of the corporations which earn multitudes more than anything on this list.  They get paid the big bucks making sure we get paid the peanuts.

The AFL-CIO has data on their website about CEO pay.   http://www.aflcio.org/corporatewatch/paywatch/

Wouldn’t you like compensation like this?  http://www.aflcio.org/corporatewatch/paywatch/ceou/top100.cfm I really don’t feel I need that much money and wonder why these guys need that much?  Is there ever enough?  The CEO for Visa makes almost $18 million dollars.  Little people with credit card debt should be mad as hell while they scrape their money together to pay their bills.  Omnicare, they provide pharmaceuticals for seniors, at least that’s what the web said.  I see lots of insurance and health care companies making the big bucks for the CEO’s.  The talking heads and Republicans are so worried about socialism.  Socially, I find these CEO pays unacceptable!  If you really search through the data on the AFL-CIO site it is quite interesting.  They list everyone from A-Z.  Do you know where your money is going?  My guess would be probably to some of these guys.

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/IH31Dj02.html

Here is a snippet from this article:

American opinion on CEO pay
In the United States, only 32% of the public currently supports an outright pay cap on executive earnings. But average Americans appear to be every bit as outraged over CEO pay excess as average Europeans. Indeed, 77% of Americans say corporate executives “earn too much”. Only 11% admire “those who run” America’s “largest companies” either “a great deal” or “quite a bit”.

CEO pay isn’t limited to being a problem just here in the United States of America.  It is obviously a problem world wide as the rich appear to be getting richer and the poor poorer.  The bottom forty percent of the people in our country own less than one percent of its wealth.  It may be time for a revolution.  http://www.faculty.fairfield.edu/faculty/hodgson/Courses/so11/stratification/income&wealth.htm

If we can’t get Congress and the President to hear us, we may have to protest for the greater good of all the people.  I hear Republicans screaming about “Socialism” but if Capitalism is producing such a high discrepancy in the wealth distribution maybe we should consider more social type programs to even things out a bit.  It just isn’t right that it is getting harder and harder to earn a living wage in the U.S.A.  We all have heard since we were children about the “American Dream”.  You know the good job, white picket fence, nice house, nice car, healthy kids and the kids able to afford to go on to college.   And health care?  We never even had to hardly think about that.  My mom had fourteen children.  She used to spend about two weeks in the hospital.  Today all of that would be impossible!  All of the “American Dream” is in jeopardy at the current time for most of the American people.  There is a growing divide between those that “Have” and those that “Have not”.  I see it in my art classes.  Some students do a lot of traveling, have every toy you can imagine and some are just scraping by and hoping for some heating assistance for the winter months.  We need to shake up things in Washington D.C. before our communities all look like the war torn looking cities like Chicago and Detroit.  We must hold the Congress accountable for how they’re spending our money and who they are giving it to.  You know if they would have given that bail out money back to the people, I think the economy might have moved a bit.  They wanted to get money out in circulation.  The American people could have circulated that money a lot better than a band of bankers.  I’m sure they would have paid bills, bought vehicles, homes and everything else which would have stimulated this economy.  Congress in their infinite wisdom thinks we are too stupid to know what to do with our money.  Instead they kick it back to their friends and endorsers.  As a final note it will be interesting to see what Evan Bayh will do with his almost $14 million in campaign funds that he has left over.

In Search of the Democrats

  • Posted on February 22, 2010 at 1:02 pm

I was visiting Tennesse Guerilla Women this morning and loved this video post so I’m posting here and giving a link to her site.

http://guerillawomentn.blogspot.com/

This is just what I have been talking about in so many ways but Ted Rall is a lot funnier than I am.  We could do a Where’s Waldo for Democrats. It wouldn’t take too long to find the true Democrats, you know those ones that I remember when I was a kid that actually stood for Democratic principles!  You know I’m home with a snow day.  There is no teaching going on today, so I’m having some fun expressing myself.  This has got to be watched.  Archie Bunker at his finest.  It’s amazing what you can find on Youtube but what is truly amazing is how close to reality this clip is for today.  Am I in a time warp?  This could be now.

This is TV when it was really good.

In other news, the movie “Shutter Island” wins the weekend.  My son says I have to see this movie.  He loved it.  He was a film student at the University of Michigan.  I’ll probably see it when its on DVD but for anyone else it might be worth coughing up the money.  The big news though isn’t Tiger Woods but the Afghanistan civilian deaths.  I’m left wondering why we are still stuck in these two stupid wars when we are supposed to have a DEMOCRATIC president.  Of course the MSM is still talking about Tiger.  I found it interesting this morning when Joe Scarborough from “Morning Joe” on MSNBC said Tiger’s apology was like a third grader acting.  Personally, I don’t give a crap about Tiger.  What I found interesting is the fact that Joe bummed around on his wife and probably should have kept his mouth shut like he usually does about these sexual matters.  He divorced his first wife and couldn’t be faithful to her.  It kind of reminds me of the pot calling the kettle black.  The numbers don’t matter.  What’s the difference if you were unfaithful once or twenty times?  You’re still a dirt bag Joe!  Also Obama is now going to “compromise” on the health care debate.  Isn’t that what we have been doing all along?  Everyone hates John Edwards but John said if you invite the corporations basically to the table they will eat all the food.  That’s not a quote.  It’s just the basic idea of what he said.  John has lost all credibility because of his personal choices but we all should be questioning why that is so.  Does anyone really think our founding fathers were any different than the “cheating” men of today?  The truth is John had a message that nobody (corporations) wanted us (the little people) to hear.  No, we are better served hearing about the sex lives of the rich and famous!  I’ll put it right out there.  I don’t care who is sleeping with who, what, when or wherever?  I do care about who is picking my proverbial pocket and asking me, “Does that feel good?”

Any one out there might not like John but a lot of what he said holds true today.

And what about Obama taking a clue from Edwards?  Is this possible?  Could he use his executive powers to do this?  I would like to see it happen.  I think we all need to remember what was said during the 2008 election.  We might not like the imperfect messenger, John Edwards, but let’s get back to basics and try to get congress and the President to remember what was discussed during the election.

If taking away the health care from Congress would get something done, we should all be screaming, “Do it!”  More than likely though their corporate buddies would buy them new insurance.  And in other news we have the credit card industry.  For months I’ve been getting those little fine printed “exclamation of changes” to my credit card.  You know the ones that say your credit card is going from 8.9% to 29.99 gazillion percent!  Oh, congress has really pushed the credit card industry.   They are really holding their feet to the fire now!  Oh gasp, they have to find other ways to make money now.  Yeah, immediately they raised everyones rates for no reason other than they could and put on many more ways to get a pound of flesh.  Thank you congress and all of you that get money from the credit card industry.  You may want to search through the years at Open Secrets.  It doesn’t matter which party they’re in.  Banks like them both!

http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/summary.php?ind=F03&recipdetail=A&sortorder=U&cycle=2010

I’ll end on a positive note about the news.  The USA hockey team beat Canada and Bodie Miller got a gold!  All is right with the world!

Dropping Like Flies

  • Posted on February 21, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Evan Bayh listening to the American people?

Is there something in the Washington D.C. water?  Why are all these congressmen deciding not to run?  Another one bites the dust with Evan Bayh from Indiana.  The talking heads keep telling us the so called reasons but are there more sinister motives.  Are some being pressured not to run much like the Lt. Governor Democratic nominee from Illinois, Scott Lee Cohen?  Oh, the shame of it all.  The people voted for him to be the nominee even with his scandalous past but the Dems in power will have none of it.  “One day you’re in and the next your out!” as Heidi Klum claims on Project Runway.   Evan Bayh gave an emotional speech that seemed honest.  It really seemed like he didn’t want to leave at all.  Maybe he’s getting ready to run for the White House or maybe he was forced out because of some hidden, secret scandal yet to be revealed.

Or maybe we should just take him at his word.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/21/opinion/21bayh.html?hp=&pagewanted=al

We all know that congress is dysfunctional.  It’s a given and we don’t label them a “do nothing” congress for nothing.   The two parties have run amok.  We used to at least feel like one of the two parties represented us, the little people.  Conservatives had the Republican Party and liberals had the Democratic Party.  Today it feels more and more like the two parties represent corporations and no one else.  Under George W. Bush the congress ran up the debt in unprecedented numbers.  Conservatives weren’t represented neither were the liberals but corporations were highly represented especially the ones that were profiting from these two wars we have been enmeshed in for years.  Have you noticed how the press portrays Barack Obama as a liberal and claim he’s moving to the left and so on?  This is just smoke and mirrors as much of the press is controlled by corporations.  This is to make those of us that are liberal feel like we got what we wanted.  How untrue all of this is as I find it amazing to note that the “change” from one party to the other has virtually gone unnoticed by most of us little people.  If I had fallen asleep after the 2008 election and just awaken it would seem as though GW was still president.  If I were voting right now I would vote for women because we are under represented and I would vote out most of the incumbents.  If you have spent the majority of your life campaigning you more than likely are out of touch with the American people any way.

Republicans feel a surge coming on.  They think that the American people want their type of rule.  How unquestioningly they miss the mark.  They fuel the Tea Party people thinking that it is the Republican Party that the Tea Party wants to emulate.  I find this all very doubtful.  It seems to be more of a Libertarian view or a left over fringe of the Ron Paul movement rather than the Republicans that have the hearts of the Tea Party movement.  Truthfully people in this country are fed up with both parties.  We don’t like the money involved in elections and the partisan way everything is seemingly decided.  That of course is just to fool us as both parties are really representing corporations.  The question is really which corporations back which party?   http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/index.php Anyone that has ever gone to Open Secrets usually comes away with their eyes open as to who is running our government and it isn’t “We the people!”  This next site is interesting for finding information in the news about corporations and politics.  http://www.corpwatch.org/index.php I contend that we should change the way we elect out politicians from the local sheriff to the highest office in the country, the President.  We should make elections meaningful again with much debate so we can truly see where these people stand on the issues.  We should bring back the League of Women Voters to organize the debates.  Now Presidential debates are negotiated between the two parties.  Forget about the parties.  Take them out of the picture and ask whatever the people want to know.  We should give equal television time to all of the candidates.  Independent candidates shouldn’t have different requirements than the two main parties when trying to get on the ballot.  In many states Independents have to jump through extra hoops to try and get on the ballot.

In the Michigan Presidential primary of 2008 when the people voted some of their votes ultimately were given to a candidate that they did not vote for on May 31st, 2008 when the Democratic Party rules committee met to decide what to do about the Michigan Primary.  When my sister called the Attorney General of the state of Michigan she was told that the Democratic Party could do what they wanted with those votes.  It’s like a club or a union.  They can decide things for us.  What I don’t understand is the fact that we, the taxpayers, paid for this “club” to have their primary.  I believe it cost our very “poor” state twenty million dollars to have that primary.  What a waste of tax payer money!  I would have to say whether Evan Bayh is talking truth to power or has been pushed out, much of what he has said is a known fact.  Congress doesn’t accomplish much these days but they do manage to irritate the hell out of the American people, the voters.  Let’s hope we stay mad as hell and remember these antics the next time we go to the polls.  Let’s start thinking about voting against the two party system and the money interests.  Let’s ignore the media and search for our own truth.  There are plenty of publications on the web that can better inform the public about what’s really going on.  So let’s all get educated and do what we can in our own communities to inform people about the corruption in Washington D.C. and even in our local communities and states.

Locally, there are two main issues that rise above most other issues.  The first is job security and the second is the education of our children.  We want our jobs to be secure with benefits and comfortable enough so we can raise our children and have something left for retirement and we want our children to have a life filled with opportunities that only a good education can provide.  Slowly but surely we are failing in these two main areas.  The federal government has abandoned us on both issues.  They have transported our jobs out of the country, killed unions to lower our wages and have tried everything they could do to destroy public education.  They are watering down the education system by slowly but surely sneaking money out to “charter” schools with far different requirements than public schools.  They have done a wonderful job of convincing the people that everything is wrong with our children’s education in a public school and it must all be changed from the bottom up.  We have lost our local control over our schools and our jobs.  Some might think the main issue is taxation but truthfully if you have a good job with benefits taxes aren’t as difficult to pay!  It’s time to fire the people that brought us to the brink of disaster and to a life of recession and depression.  The government has wasted our money, our resources and now they will lay waste to our children in endless fighting of endless wars.  We must dismiss them as surely they have abandoned us, the American people!

The Morality Test

  • Posted on February 21, 2010 at 1:06 am

Integrity comes in all colors!

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about spirituality, morality and all of the things that make us the way we are.  Why do we choose the things that we do?  I grew up in a family of fourteen children and I don’t think any of us think exactly alike.  So, what makes us choose certain moral choices?  Tonight I took a morality test on the internet.  I was surprised at the results as they fairly accurately described me.  (The Morality Test) http://www.outofservice.com/morality/results/?morality=73&political=93&social=64&o=8&c=97&e=22&a=87&n=9 I’m a shy person but am also out going in many ways.  I am politically liberal and yet very conservative socially.  I’m kind of close minded in my approach to morality because I see many things in very simple terms.  There isn’t much leeway for me on most issues of morality.  It’s either black or white.  There really aren’t many shades of gray for me.  I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about should I do this or should I do that as there really is just right or wrong for me  Like I said there aren’t any areas of gray.  I don’t consider myself to be a typically closed minded person on most issues.  I’m only closed minded on the issues of what I believe to be right and wrong.

My family is Roman Catholic.  I’m sure this has much to do with my morality code.  I remember talking with a fellow male teacher years ago.  He used to joke about messing around on Saturday night and then going to penance on Sunday.  Maybe it’s different for guys but I never did that.  He loved the Catholic Church because it taught forgiveness.  He always felt that he could go ahead and mess around on Saturday because on Sunday all would be forgiven.  He also talked about it being his “duty” to test the girls.  I never felt that kind of connection with the church.  My connection with the church was more inwardly spiritual.  He knew he would be forgiven for his weaknesses.  I, on the other hand, couldn’t bring myself to be weak and out of control morally because I couldn’t face the consequences that bad behavior might bring.  This may be something to do with the differences between the sexes.  Of course a young woman would and could pay dearly if she messed around on Saturday night as she could get a bad name or an unwanted pregnancy.  None of these things showed for the young men.  Back in my day, the only people that got “bad names” were girls.  It was always “boys will be boys”.  It was almost expected that a guy would “sow his wild oats” but girls were treated differently.

In many ways the Catholic Church treated women differently by classifying them as either virgins or whores.  Back when I lived in Oklahoma I used to attend a mission church.  I lived out in western Oklahoma in Cheyenne.  One time when the priest came out to the mission mass I asked him to stay after as I needed some counseling.  I was alone in Oklahoma with my small child contemplating divorce.  He came out to my home, had dinner with me and we discussed many issues.  It was interesting because he explained to me how the church classified women and how it was difficult for a priest to be alone with a young woman as the priests are taught that there are women out there that are attracted to priests as mates.  He said that they essentially are taught that there are two types of women, the virgin and the whore.  Of course it’s easy to see when you really think about it.  Women are not in real positions of power within the church.  Their role is largely subordinate to the male dominated patriarchy of the church.  Of course we are taught about the virgin birth and the Virgin Mary so Mary’s position is elevated.  She is virtuous.  Mary Magdalene on the other hand was the whore but she redeemed herself so there is always the “hope” of redemption.

Morality of course has many facets.  Sexuality is just one area.  For me morality is more about honesty and integrity than anything else.  We all may know right from wrong but do we all have the integrity to live a life that is virtuous in the area of honesty?  Living a virtuous life doesn’t get anyone an award.  We hear more about the lack of virtue than about people that live with honesty and integrity.  Recently in the news we have been bombarded with the sexual mores of the rich and powerful.  We are seemingly shocked at the behavior of Tiger Woods, John Edwards and Mark Sanford.  We share indignation and are morally outraged at their audacious sexual behavior.  The truth is that none of their lives will ever effect our own situation.  We as a people do not live our lives and learn our morality from politicians, powerful people, sports figures or other wealthy people.  Most of us learn our moral behavior from our parents.  We learn from very little on what is acceptable behavior.  I contend that when people exhibit a lack of moral judgment it is because they either lacked moral guidance as youngsters or they learned how to behave like the Romans.  We have all heard the phrase, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”  Now, I don’t mean to say that all politicians cheat on their wives and it is learned behavior that is acceptable to that segment of the population but I think there may be some truth to it.  We all know that sports figures have groupies that follow them around trying to steal some time with them so we shouldn’t be so shocked when someone like Tiger gets his hand caught in the proverbial cookie jar.   I personally think the farther you move away from your roots, whether it is through physical miles or mental miles, the easier it is to go with the “crowd” that you are hanging with and forget about your moral upbringing.  This is why it can be a real eye opener when that young freshman goes off to college.  Suddenly, they are exposed to a whole new world away from the eyes of mom and dad.  It is here that integrity and honesty is truly born.  Will that child go with the flow and follow peer pressure or will they become the person they were meant to be?  Some may take years to discover who they were really meant to be.  It is a part of the learning experience.

Small town living has been pegged as narrow minded, small minded living but in reality it is very difficult to get lost in the crowd when you live in a small town.  When you live in a metropolitan area you can more easily get lost in the crowd and do you own thing.  Small town people talk and they know generally what is going on in their own communities.  I’m not saying that small towns exhibit a higher level of morality than city dwellers.  I’m just saying that people are more apt to know of your personal misgivings in a small town.  Of course the internet has made the whole world a little bit more of a small town.  It amazes me to think that so many people put pictures on the web of their outrageous behavior as though they think a future employer doesn’t know how to use Google.  I can remember going off to college and thinking that small towns were small minded but really my heart is in the small town.  It is here that I feel I can make a moral impact.  I feel if I live an honest life with integrity I become a positive role model for the many children that are raised in chaotic life styles.  I’ve always felt that we should treat each other in the manner that we would want to be treated.  I choose to live my life with integrity.  I do everything I can to treat people with respect and I expect to be treated with respect as well.  It is a lifestyle that may seem boring to many but I live my life with a clear conscience.  I know I can sleep at night knowing I don’t have to fake who I am.  If you are living with a liar whether it be you or your mate you can never really live a virtuous life of integrity because you are always expending negative energy fighting the lies.  I may be old fashioned and virtue may be over rated but I can’t imagine being anyone else.  So sleep well my friends and remember that integrity sleeps with a clear conscience.

The Angry Sting of Political Manipulation

  • Posted on February 15, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Do they represent us to the best of their ability?

I’m sitting here on this cold February President’s Day thinking about the past decade and of course politics.  I have come to the conclusion that I, like all Americans, have been manipulated by politicians, the government, media monsters and of course the corporations that control them.

It wasn’t that long ago I was a “Yellow Dog Democrat”.  You know that democrat that would vote for a yellow dog before she would vote for a Republican.  Even saying the word republican could cause me to go into convulsions of disgust.  Well, that hasn’t really changed but I find myself having the same feelings when I say Democrat.  I wonder deeply what has happened to my beloved party, the Democratic, big “D”, party.  How did we get from FDR to Kennedy to the current cast of characters including Obama?  I was a child of the sixties.  I remember sitting in my third grade classroom when we were told the president had been shot.  I remember the grief and sadness.  It’s one of those memories that will never leave me.  Everyone that was old enough to remember will remember what they were doing when they found out about Kennedy.  It was a life changing moment for our country.  We probably haven’t ever truly recovered from that loss.  We have wallowed in the consumption of conspiracy theories about his death only to have fuel added to the fire because everything is sealed.  It’s all too awful for us little people to comprehend.  Only those in power have the ability to understand what truly happened.  LBJ was probably a great warrior but the Vietnam War was the legacy most will remember.  While he signed the legislation for the “Great Society” and marshaled us through the civil rights movement, he will best be remembered for the horrors of the Vietnam War and its escalation and his inability to conclude it with positive results.  I don’t know if this was the end of the Democratic era or what but something happened over the course of the past many years that has ultimately destroyed the Democratic Party and my trust of it.

When I was in high school in the early seventies I was a political junkie fueled by my huge family’s constant discussion of all things political.  My parents were strong democrats and of course Nixon, or “Tricky Dick”, was in office.   Just the name “Tricky Dick”, tells how much he was respected at our house.  Nixon led the way for the first truly non Democrat, Democrat president to be elected.  Of course I speak of President Carter.  I spent many years defending Carter but now I find him pretty indefensible.  Would anyone out there believe that it was Carter that started taxing unemployment benefits?  Of course it became fully taxed in 1987 but who would think this would start under a Democratic president?  Well, it did.  That kind of sounds like a republican plan, doesn’t it?  Carter was a “moral” president, a seemingly very religious guy that wouldn’t even serve booze at the White House.  Well, he did serve wine but any Irish Democrat, like me, should have found that to be a distrustful thing to begin with.  It was a way of controlling other people and their behavior.  It was also a continuation of Democrats having to be southern and white to be president.  It seems Democrats couldn’t carry the south without it.  Those Democrats from the south tend to be a bit more conservative than their more liberal, northern cousins.  I gave Carter a “buy” all of these years for his inability to govern this country.  During the Carter years Michigan was devastated.  In fact it was during this time that many people left Michigan for greener pastures or at least a job in another state.  Our current situation in Michigan isn’t really much different than the late seventies and early eighties, which is another story for another day.  Well, I survived Carter and voted for Mondale but of course we all know that the supreme leader, Reagan, was elected.  Please note the sarcasm in my voice.  Republicans want us to believe that Ronald Reagan was the greatest president that ever lived.  I, of course, remember him for being a union busting freak.  We all remember the plight of the air traffic controllers.  He busted them like a twig.  It’s been a downward spiral for unions ever since.  Unfortunately, the propaganda that we have been fed about unions doesn’t help but unions are responsible for many of the work place rights, however small, we have as well as the salaries and protections and benefits that they helped negotiate.  Unions brought up the pay of non union workers as well.

After Reagan’s popularity it seems like the Democratic Party was looking for a Democratic version of Reagan.  Maybe this is why Barack has such an admiration of all things Reagan. Remember how he said Reagan was a transformative president while Clinton wasn’t.  Those were code words to get the old turncoat Democrats that had voted for Reagan and were secretly voting for Republicans to come back and vote for Barack.  After Reagan the Democratic Party put up Michael Dukakis.  He was a decent guy but of course quirky like Dennis Kucinich.  The Republicans were able to reduce him to a cartoon character.  Everyone remembers the helmet he wore, Willie Horton and of course the ridiculous question about if his wife had been raped.  He was quirky and nerdy which is not popular.  I remember he even mowed his own lawn with a push mower.  That wasn’t going to get the macho, white man’s vote.  I did my best to canvas the highly Republican town of Empire, Michigan with Dukakis literature.  However, with no measurable results as Leelanau county went for Reagan.  My heart was still in it.  I was still keeping my beliefs in the Democratic Party.  Those horrible Republicans, however, were still in office!  I suffered through those Bush years when my pottery sales started taking a hit.  Under Reagan there were many wealthy consumers out buying art at the art shows.  They didn’t mind spending a hundred bucks or more on a piece of pottery.  There were still many poor people but there was a group of young buyers that I was happy to see at the art shows spending big bucks.  Under Bush all of that changed.  People wanted the same pottery for less money.  Every artist had to adjust their prices if they were going to sell art.

The nineties gave us Clinton.  Now I love Bill but let’s be real, he really wasn’t and isn’t a big “D” Democrat.  If he was he wouldn’t have sold out the unions and everybody else with NAFTA.  He also wouldn’t have made all of the heartless cuts to welfare.  Business was booming during those dot com years that probably gave people a false sense of reality because for the “little guy” there really wasn’t a boom.  They actually just survived and got by which leads us up to the Bush years of gloom and doom and more war.  The problems Clinton had in office probably hurt Gore’s election but of course Gore hurt Gore as well.  We were all manipulated by the fake outrage about the Monica Lewinsky affair.  All of those Republicans and even Democrats, like Lieberman, were oh so disgusted with Clinton.  Well, of course today we are finding out that many of them have their own little skeletons in the closet.  They only are let out of the closet when we, the people, need to be controlled.  This is all part of the many ways we are manipulated.  We all have the fresh sting of the Bush years in our rear view mirror, where if you are a Democrat, you will always feel the elections, both of them, were stolen!  I learned to believe that Republicans steal elections.  Now, I know those Republicans think that Democrats steal elections because they always go back to the Kennedy, Nixon election and Chicago politics and vote counting.

Ok, so I survived those Bush years and was really excited about the 2008 election.  I thought the Democrats had a real chance to do something big and of course get us out of these wars which I have never believed in.  I believed in a candidate who has since become the symbol for “Worse Husband of the Year Award”.   I was deeply devoted to the candidacy of John Edwards.  I gave over five hundred bucks to his campaign.  Anyone that knows me will know that for me to give money to campaign, I have to be a true believer.  It was the message that I believed in which has now been killed because the messenger was imperfect.  I blame the Democratic Party for much of what happened in this past election.  They wanted Barack Obama and they manipulated all of us Big D Democrats to get what they wanted.  They knew all about John’s problems and probably know about current secrets of people in power.  They needed John to get Obama through Iowa.  If John hadn’t been in the primary, Clinton would have probably won the election.  Those of us in the “know”, know she had more votes in the primary any way.  It was those pesky super delegates and the way they divvied out votes in Michigan and Florida that hurt her.  After John got out I went to see Clinton in Southbend.  I loved her and would definitely have voted for her even though there were things I disliked about her husband’s presidency.  John and the other good boys including Obama staged a “coups” in the Michigan primary.  They knew what they were doing when they removed their names from the ballot.  They set everything up for May 31st, 2008 when my vote for John was confiscated and some votes also taken from Clinton and given to Barack Obama, a man I would never vote for because of his stance on merit pay for teachers.  That’s union busting talk for anyone that understands the lingo.  On that day my blinders were torn off and I saw the Democratic Party for the down and dirty dog it is, a shill for the corporations just like the Republican Party.  They aren’t “Blue Dog Democrats” or even “Yellow Dog Democrats”.  They are pit bulls for the corporations.  How long we have been manipulated, I’m not sure.  I know that we, the people, haven’t been represented for our own best interests, whether the president is a Democrat or a Republican, for many, many years.  I’m angry about being manipulated as I well should be but I can’t understand why more people aren’t fed up with this systematic manipulation of our vote and even our thought process.   The Democratic Party with Barack Obama can’t seem to get anything done.  It’s just a game folks as the stock market is fine with how things are going.  The wars that so many thought a Democrat would pull out of continue and business is the same as it has been.  Stimulus money is going to China and no one is outraged.  It’s just business as usual. A billboard of GW shows up in Minnesota asking if we miss him yet.  I say, “How can we miss him?  He’s still in office!”   For all the “hope and change” that Barack Obama said he would bring to Washington D.C. it is amazing how nothing has really changed.  The only thing that continues is the constant manipulation of the American people.  We hear about Sarah Palin writing on her hand and Robert Gibbs, Obama’s press secretary, yucks it up with the press about it.  More manipulation as we are told she is soooooo stupid.  I sit here unable to be manipulated and controlled any more by these two parties that are shills for the corporations.  I don’t care two twits about Sarah Palin writing on her hand.  She isn’t in office.  She doesn’t control my taxes, job and everything else in my life.  The government does.  I’m angry that Gibbs wastes time on such frivolous matters when there is so much unemployment, under employment and people hanging onto their jobs by the seat of their pants!  I’m angry about all of the political manipulation of my mind and most of all, my vote.  Do I really care who these guys are sleeping with?  You know that’s what done in John Edwards.  If I cared, I would probably have to hate FDR as we all know about his love life.  Today some woman is selling love letters from JFK!  Do I really care who he slept with or do I care about how he governed?  We all know that Jefferson slept with his slave, Sally Hemmings, who happened to be born from the slave of his wife’s father, and today we respect Jefferson as a great man.  I read that she may have been the half sister of his wife.  Of course his wife was dead when he took her to bed but come on we see Jefferson as one of the great founding fathers of our country.

The Democratic Party continues their manipulation with the sick portrayal of the TEA Party, Taxed Enough Already Party.  You know they didn’t refer to themselves as “tea baggers”.  I first heard that on MSNBC.  It was another form of manipulation.  Of course, I didn’t know what “that” meant until I googled it.  I couldn’t believe the media would be so distasteful.  I remember a lot of it coming from the likes of Chuck Todd and his cohorts.  As far as I am concerned people have a right to protest our government if they don’t feel they are being properly represented.  I know Michigan is not getting the representation that they need in Washington D.C.  We’ve been hurting for years and nobody seems to care.  They’re too busy working on their next election and finding ways to manipulate the masses into believing they are actually doing something constructive for the people.   The two parties, Republican and Democratic both work hard to manipulate the masses into going along with the current plan.  When Bush was in office we were manipulated by that phrase Bush used, “You’re either with us or against us!”  Today we are manipulated by the Obama administration with race.  If we don’t like the Obama way or policies we are automatically branded a “racist”.  Now nobody really wants to be labeled a racist.  For me all of this just makes me angrier and angrier because my party has let me down and through the corporations my country has been hijacked by these two ineffective, shills for the corporations, parties.  Corporations, as noted by the Supreme Court, have more rights than I do.  If you aren’t angry about this manipulation, like me, you should be!

Starry Starry Night

  • Posted on February 10, 2010 at 8:57 pm

A Tribute to Vincent Van Gogh

Years ago I created a slide show similar to this one I found on Youtube.  I still have the slides in my desk at school.  Vincent Van Gogh is my all time favorite artist.  I love the Don McLean song.  The song fits Vincent’s work so well.  When I was in college back in the seventies I went down to the Toledo Art Museum.  I remember seeing a Vincent Van Gogh painting that I found just mesmerizing.  It was a wheat field with crows much like the one in this video.   I stood in front of the painting for probably a half an hour because I was sure that the wind was blowing the wheat.  It appeared to be moving.  How great an artist is that can capture the breath of the wind with the flick of a brush in dynamic brush strokes!  I have been a Van Gogh fan ever since.  There is something so painfully real in all of his work.  The people he painted were common.  Seemingly no one special but in every way full of humanity.

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