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New Years and Politics

  • Posted on December 31, 2012 at 6:53 pm

The cartoon version of me living in a cartoon world called politics.

At the end of an old year and the beginning of a new one, I always tend to think about the past, present, and future.  This year is no different.  I am sitting here thinking how politicians always manage to pull the American people apart.  They wait until the last possible minute to pull some rabbit out of a proverbial hat that we are supposed to buy as some kind of miracle of sorts.  I don’t really buy the drama that is going on in Washington D.C. because they so easily passed two bills recently that didn’t get much notice.  The first was FISA and the second was a pay raise for themselves.

Warrantless wiretapping of American citizens is good for another five years.  Just think about that.  http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2012/12/fisa-passes-warrantless-wiretapping-will-live/60403/

Just when you are lead to believe that the Democrats and Republicans cannot agree on anything, you discover that they both believe in stepping on the constitution to catch the bad people, whoever they may be.  We can live safer knowing that they got General Patraeus out of office through the search of his email correspondence.  Now I frankly don’t care about Patraeus as he is of no real concern to me.  However, the fact that my email could be investigated or even my website, well, that is another matter.  I believe in free speech and I certainly believe in utilizing the World Wide Web for learning and sharing ideas.  I don’t believe the government should be able to search any of my documents because I may use some word that they have put on a terror list of commonly used words by terrorists.

About the pay raise, you can see it is not seemingly huge but when compared to most American worker’s pay it is humongous.  http://www.wtvy.com/home/headlines/President-OKs-Pay-Raise-for-Congress-185310012.html

Therefore, here at the end of the year there is drama going on in Washington D.C.  Both parties attend the same parties and social circles.  Many even marry each other.  Politicians also seem to live cozy with the press.  If you work in politics, it is only a matter of time before you are on the political shows or in some cases become the show.  The story that they don’t get along just doesn’t work with me because they get along when they want to.  I remember when Senator Teddy Kennedy died.  When Senator Orrin Hatch spoke about his relationship with Kennedy the veil of contention was lifted.  When Teddy asks Orrin, “How did I do?”  You must think about the theater that was created by both parties when dealing with legislative issues.  At that time, I realized that all of the fighting by the politicians is some kind of weird Kabuki Theater.  The drama is created for the American people.  We are expected to think they are fighting for us but the reality is they fight for themselves and the moneyed interests.  We have been expected to “share the pain” of their decisions but in reality the poor and middle class bears the burden of all that happens in politics.

This past year has been frustrating, especially for teachers like I.  Here in Michigan we have painfully watched as politicians systematically took away many of our hard earned benefits through legislative action.  We have to pay more into our insurance package.  Years ago, the insurance was one of the most sought after benefit for teachers.  Now, it is built in with plans that make teachers be more of a gambler than most teachers would like to be.  There is a built in cap, which means if you want a better package, it is no longer negotiable.  Our retirement package has been changed and we are expected to pay more for that change.  Our union dues can no longer be taken out of our paychecks.  Our union has to work harder to collect those dues.  Teacher evaluations in our state are now tied to our students’ test scores.  Within the next couple of years, it will be around 50% of our evaluations.  In addition, as an art teacher, my evaluation is tied to reading and math scores. It seems we are all reading teachers these days.  Recently, Governor Snyder signed into law “right to work” legislation.  He did this as a favor to all of us dissatisfied teachers of course.  Please note the “snark” in my voice.  Here in Sturgis we took a 0% pay raise to go along with all of the other things that happened this year.  We were happy because at least we have our jobs.  This is the kind of year it has been, a contentious one, leaving many people confused and worried about the future.

I have always been an optimist.  I look to the future thinking positive thoughts.  However, I have learned that it is difficult to be in charge of your own fate these days.  It doesn’t matter how good of a teacher you really are.  What matters is how the numbers look on a database.  Things that are not measured like creativity, relationships, emotions, devotion, time, and caring won’t show up on that database that determines my ability as a teacher.  I will live with that.  I look to this New Year still hoping that the politicians will wake up and see all the damage they create when they make decisions for the American people that really are insane and stupid.  I cannot help it as I am ever the optimist.  This next year has me thinking that Governor Snyder probably has a plan for me and it probably isn’t what I want.  At the federal level, they have a plan for all of us as well and it probably isn’t what we want.  I will hold out and keep on voting, trying to remove the blight I see that are the politicians that continually serve the rich and connected.  However, it is discouraging to see what happens to people when they become politicians!

Fear and the Fiscal Cliff

  • Posted on December 28, 2012 at 8:43 pm

I am so tired of the media talk about the fiscal cliff.  I personally think all of the hype is to make us believe that we must all sacrifice, not just the wealthy, to save our country.  With all of this talk about a cliff, I started thinking about this old commercial.

I just want the American people to remember this image from the video because the cliff is not for the wealthy; it is for the poor and the middle class.  If I were to buy into all I hear from the pundits, it appears that Armageddon is on the horizon.  We will all fall into that crazy spinning thing on the old Twilight Zone show.  We won’t know what hit us.  Up will be down and down will be up.  We will be in some crazy world where nothing works the way it should.  Oh, yeah, aren’t we already there?  With Governor Snyder in office, I call that Michigan!

It amazes me really just how little our federal representatives do.  I saw a program that said they were really only in session two days a week.  Wouldn’t we all love a job like that?   We could all give ourselves pay raises to go along with our jobs and of course, a huge staff that actually does our work.

I really don’t care if we go off the imaginary cliff except for what it might do for the unemployed.  I think the rich need to pay more.  If that is what it takes, so be it.  The Republicans are fools to think they aren’t going to be blamed though.  I actually think the vision of the cliff is a joke.  The media is using it to put us all into a frenzy of fear.  I’m tired of being programmed to be AFRAID.  FDR said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”  It is amazing that all we get is fear from the media and the Tea Party crazies.  If I believed all of the things, they are trying to make me believe I would be sucking my thumb, rocking in my bed waiting for the Angel of Death to come get me.  Fear is something that is used to control us “little people” by getting us to sign on to some awful program to “share the pain” or fight some stupid war because “We value our freedoms.”

I hope President Obama stays strong and doesn’t give into some Republican Tea Party stance that only helps the rich, big business, or the military.  Seriously, how much more money do we need to spend on the military?  There is a unique article up at San Diego Veterans for Peace.  http://www.sdvfp.org/us-military-spending/

We are spending a good chunk of our money on the military and of course, and a lot of it goes to some well-known big businesses.  What is appalling is how little is going into education.  More and more of the education dollars are coming from local taxpayer money, which can be hard for poor districts and states.

I think that all of this fuss about education is driving many terrible changes that are not really helping students.  When I have students that are difficult in my middle school art classes, more often than not their behavior can be attributed to their struggle with reading.  I find students that misbehave are usually misbehaving because they are too challenged with the work.  I think more has to be spent on early education and I don’t mean TESTING!  I think by third grade a student that is struggling will really stick out.  If they get lost in the early elementary, the problem doesn’t go away or repair itself, it just gets bigger!  I believe we need to do more to support people with young children through either Headstart type programs or some other program that gets students exposed to the wonder of books at a younger age.  Most of us read to our children when they were little.  We bought beautiful books and our children couldn’t wait to learn to read.  Some parents don’t have the resources or lack the skills necessary to get students really into books at a young age so those children start school behind the other students.  They spend the rest of their young lives trying to catch up to their classmates.  If they don’t catch up, they are the students that I find in my middle school art classroom that are mischievous and naughty just trying to get my attention for all of the wrong reasons.

It may seem like I went off on a tangent.  What I’m trying to say is that our values for federal dollars and expenditures are skewed and need to be changed.  I don’t care if we fall off the cliff because so many students in my classroom have already been shoved off the cliff, so many people that are unemployed have been dropped off a cliff into an abyss of failure wondering when they are going to find a job or get back to where they were.  I was talking to my niece who works and helps manage a large apartment complex.  She deals with background checks for people.  She told me that it is unusual to see someone with good credit, most people have had collection agencies hounding them and many have even lost their homes.  These people have already faced the cliff!  When a business goes under, like GM or Chrysler they reshuffle and maintain their credit standing so they can get loans.  People don’t have that ability.  When they face bankruptcy or the loss of a job, they face the ultimate fear of that cliff.

Therefore, here I sit wondering why Congress cannot do their job.  I have to do my job.  If I didn’t do my job, I would lose it.  I think if the Republicans are going to act as if they are incapable of working with the President on this issue or any issue for that matter, they should lose their jobs.  We, the American people, deserve better than this.  Holding out for more tax breaks for the two percent of this nation is ridiculous.  Holding firm on trying to privatize or change the retirement age on social security is also ridiculous, especially when they (Congress) get such great pensions through their tax paid jobs!  Many people work physically demanding jobs.  They should not be expected to work even longer so that the rich can get their tax cuts.  Making cuts to Medicare doesn’t work either.  Perhaps we should cut the congressional staff.  Of course, we cannot do that because they are the people that actually do the “work.”  This article is interesting because it just reaffirms for me that there is a big divide in this country between the wealthy and the poor.  The staffers are the American people.  The senators and representatives live large like the wealthy.  No wonder they don’t understand the people they are supposed to serve.  http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/jun/6/congressional-staffers-public-shortchanged-by-high/?page=all

I don’t fear the fiscal cliff but I do fear the Tea Party conservatives left in charge of our country!  Heaven help the poor and middle class if 40 or so Tea Party Republicans continue to get their cues from Grover Norquist and not the American people.

Teaching with Guns? What?

  • Posted on December 27, 2012 at 10:58 pm

Teaching with Guns? What?

Here it is the day after Christmas and I was watching Martin Bashir’s show on MSNBC.  He had a substitute.  I was half listening and decided to create a simple sketch of a teacher.  Yes, this is any teacher.  The NRA thinks the only thing we can do about guns is to have “good guys” with guns to shoot the bad guys with guns.  Here in Michigan our Governor was seriously thinking of allowing guns in schools.  He was going to sign the bill on that fateful Friday when of course it became politically incorrect to do so.  That doesn’t mean it won’t happen in the future though.  Therefore, here I am picturing teachers with guns.  Teaching with guns, what a strange concept that is to me!

The thought of this just blows my mind.  I am not a gun person.  I have friends that hunt and are really into their guns.  I’m okay with that.  It’s just not my thing.  However, I don’t see the need for assault weapons in the hands of anyone but the military.  If they are allowed, then why do we allow clips that hold 30 or more bullets?  It just seems insane to me to have these weapons and bullets so easily available to anyone.  I don’t think the average person needs a rocket launcher and hopefully they are not legal so why a weapon that is made to just kill a large number of people in a very short time?  These are the thoughts that go through my mind on this subject this fine snowy day when most people should be thinking about the peacefulness of the season.

Government created laws regulates many things in our lives.  We cannot drink and drive.  In Michigan, I have to sign my life away to get Sudafed.  We have speed limits on our roads.  We have to insure our vehicles.  We have to purchase hunting and fishing licenses.  I had to be finger printed to become a teacher.  Volunteer parents have to go through a background check to go on a school outing with their own kids.  With all of this in my mind, it is hard for me to understand why we cannot create some kind of sense with the gun issue.  It seems like politicians are more concerned these days about women’s bodies than guns!  This year has really been the year of the woman.  Whether a woman can have complete control over her own body is an issue that most Republicans would like to control.  Guns?  Not so much!  Women’s bodies are regulated by the government but don’t touch our guns.

As a teacher, I cannot imagine guns in school.  Working with middle school students can be very trying at times.  Students can be very moody and they don’t always make good decisions.  We know that their brains are not fully developed and they lack executive decision-making skills because of this.  That is why kids sometimes do stupid things.  Imagine school with teachers with guns.  It’s a vision I don’t want to witness.  I know teachers that have lost their cool with students and students that have simply lost it.  Imagine, adding a gun to that mix?  As a parent, I would not want my child taught by someone carrying a gun.

The NRA needs to help be a part of the solution and not the problem.  I watched “Meet the Press” and heard the same old stale ideas that the NRA has have had for years.  Truthfully, not everyone should have access to guns.  If someone in a household has some psychological issues, I think it is a household that should not be allowed to have access to high-powered assault weapons.  You would not hand a loaded gun to a small child to play with so why give a person living in an altered universe an opportunity to fulfill some imagined fantasy.  We are better than this.  We should be able to work together to create a plan that makes sense to everyone.  Teachers should not have to worry about whether they are packing a pistol or not.  They should be spending their energy nurturing and igniting the minds and imaginations of the children they teach.  They should not be expected to show up for target practice in order to get their teaching certificate!

Happiness and Dreams

  • Posted on November 24, 2012 at 7:55 pm

I have a friend on Facebook that recently posted a video that I think everyone should watch so I am sharing it on my blog.  The second video is a video response to the first video.  With all of the trivial mass garbage that is posted on the Internet daily, it is not often that I come across videos that make me really think and want to think.

Are you doing what you want to do?  Are you afraid to do what you dream?  Are you like the hamster on a wheel that cannot get off?  If so, you will appreciate this first video.  What do you desire?  Lucky for me I have always been able to work with art my entire “adult” life.  I treasure getting my fingers dirty and stretching the boundaries of what I think I can do, but what really is exciting for me is teaching art.  I know deep down inside I love seeing what art does for young people.  How it encourages them and can help them feel good about themselves.  There is nothing more thrilling than watching the development of a young child’s mind and growth with art.  I see a spark and I feel the emotion that went into their artwork when they really care about what they are doing.

Here is the video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=siu6JYqOZ0g

I have worked several different jobs over my lifetime.  I had a summer at a factory in my hometown.  It hurt my fingers with the little metal shavings that would get into them.  I have waited tables, greeted people, sold cameras, and done many jobs as I was working my way through college.  I sold my pottery at art shows for many years and I loved it except for the fact that even with art there is always the problem of making money to live……so, sometimes you make mugs, many, many mugs, to survive!  However, even when I was doing other things I think in my heart I was always a teacher.  When I went to Central Michigan University to update my teaching certificate so I could teach again, I asked one of my professors to write me a letter of recommendation.  He went beyond my expectations.  He came up to visit me at my studio near Maple City.  I was in the middle of getting ready for yet another art show, so I very busy.  I stopped what I was doing and showed him how everything worked.  I explained the firing process.  I was excited that he had taken the time to stop in and see me.  When I received a copy of his letter, he wrote about how I am always teaching.  He knew I was busy but he learned so much from visiting me because I took the time to show him what I was doing.

Teaching in itself is an art form.  Not everyone has that gift.  Anyone that thinks it is easy to teach someone about anything just doesn’t really understand what it takes to be a good or great teacher.  Think about the last time you tried to give someone directions that has a hard time understanding the whole north, south, east, and west thing.  Some people can understand those directions quite easily while others are immediately lost when you open your mouth.  Teaching is the same way as some students come more prepared than others and some just lack understanding or perhaps confidence.  No two students are identical but we keep teaching them all the same ways.  It’s a bit confusing.  Like the video, we should be teaching students how to reach for their dreams.  School shouldn’t be about taking a series of standardized tests, but about learning, thinking, and even dreaming.  We should give students the opportunity to create in the arts, perform music and drama, build with their hands, and of course learn how to read, write, and do those complex math problems.  However, in school we should also be developing self awareness for each student, not to be future drones, but to be self sufficient, confident, and most of all we should teach them how to think independently!

The second video was a video response to the first video.  It is Charlie Chaplin giving his last speech in “The Great Dictator.”

I think as a society, we owe it to each other to be the best that we can be.  We should encourage each other to become the best that we can be.  We should not be greedy or hateful.  In this season of giving my gift to any of you that bother to read my blog is the gift of thought.  I hope each of these videos causes you to think about how you make an impact on the people you meet each day.  If you work with children, remember that they need strong people in their lives that truly care about them.  It is up to us, the people, to create the kind of world that we want it to be.  It is up to us to create our own bliss in whatever way we are able.  I challenge all of you to reach outside yourself and help someone else that needs it, but most of all find what will make you happy.  If you are happy, you just might make someone else happy as well!

Dear President Obama

  • Posted on November 11, 2012 at 11:13 am

The election is over and now the real work begins.  I saw how hard you fought for your reelection and the toil it took on you on election night.  However, the real work is just beginning.  Republicans don’t want to believe you were given some kind of mandate, as they still do not believe in science, polling, and reality.  While they appear stunned by the results, I suggest you get to work on becoming the leader that the American people deserve and want.

I don’t care about words like “mandate”.  I care about the American people.  From my point of view, it is obvious that the American people want to see that 2% pay their fair share of taxes.  It’s time to stand firm for America with all of the things you talked about during the election.  Create a government that is for the people not for Wall Street.  The people want good paying jobs, quality schools, a living wage, and an end to the never-ending cycle of war.  We want our infrastructure built up so we don’t have to worry about bridges, potholes, and the next big storm.  We want a transportation system that isn’t built on an America from fifty years ago.  We want a government that doesn’t pay special attention to minority groups of people like billionaires, millionaires, and those Tea Party nuts that follow Grover Norquist.  We actually want the two parties to sit down together and develop ideas that help the country and not hurt it.

The American people are a giving people.  Whenever people are in need, we give.  We step up and do our part to try to help people in trouble.  It is in our nature when diversity strikes, that the best in us comes out.   However, don’t ask us to give up the hard earned Medicare and Social Security programs that are the life blood for so many of our poor and middle class people.  The media folks keep talking about the “fiscal cliff” which is a rather nauseating term.  I cannot imagine standing on a cliff without feeling nauseated by the edge that I could fall over.  However, it is the constant drum of the “The Sky is Falling.” from the media giants that nauseates me more than the talk of the cliff.  It is obvious the media people are trying to get us, the American people, ready for the big hammer to fall.  Those same media giants are in the pocket of big business and those billionaires and millionaires.  I say Mr. President, “Stand tall and firm for the American people.”  Most of us out here know that Social Security doesn’t need to have the age raised or Medicare turned into some kind of insane voucher program.  We, the American electorate, reject those notions.  The cap on Social Security could simply be taken off and the government could stop looting it.  Let those with wealth do without those special breaks they get for being so rich.

Mr. President, you won!  The Republicans are just going to have to get over it.  Act like the winner you are and stand firm for the American people.  You owe us for standing with you when you needed us.  Now you must stand for us when we need you!  The American people need you to fight the good fight for the poor and the middle class.  You do represent all of America and that includes the 2% but the wealthy need to do their part for America.  It is the poor and the middle class that really give for this country.  We give out children to war and our sweat to build up this country.  It’s time that the wealthy gave what their best at as well and that would be their money to help reinvigorate our economy, educate our people, and develop our infrastructure.  All is possible when everyone steps up and does their part.  Don’t be afraid to ask the American wealthy to step up and do their part to make America a place where all can succeed again.

Sincerely,

Katherine, an American voter and taxpayer

Why I’m Voting for President Obama

  • Posted on October 10, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Woman of Liberty

I think I have been silent far too long.  For the last several days, I have watched Morning Joe on MSNBC and put up with the hogwash about Mitt Romney and what a great debater he is.  I say, “Enough already.”   What is hard for me to understand is the lack of substance in his debate performance.  It appears at least according to the pundits, that telling numerous lies and changing positions at the drop of a hat is exactly what it takes to be a great debater at the presidential level.  However, I wonder how it could possibly make one appear presidential.   I frankly, just don’t get it.  I did not see much about Mitt that appealed to me as a woman.  I know that when I watched the debate I found him rude, obnoxious, desperate, and overbearing.  I found his eyes to be annoying, as they appeared as if they were frozen in some crazy stare.  I kept thinking about deer and headlights.  The president appeared reserved.  He did not have the energy that Romney had and he did not throw any zingers.  However, he did say some substantial things that I heard.  He has now said that maybe he was too polite.  We all know that politics and politeness are not usually used in the same sentence, so maybe he is right.

Anyone that is familiar with my blog knows that I have had contempt for both major parties these past few years.  It seems the only winners in politics have been corporations and rich people.  During the 2008 Democratic Primary, I was a supporter of John Edwards.  Do not get all bent out of shape about this with over moralizing the good and bad in politics.  Be real.  I do not look to politicians for my morality code.  Of course, when I supported him Elizabeth and John seemed like a great couple.  Regardless of his personal problems, the message he spoke about is one that is lost today.  Unfortunately, with John out of the picture, the message has died.  John always talked about giving a “voice” to the voiceless.  I never hear anyone today talking about giving a voice to the millions of people that do not have the money and power to speak for themselves in politics.  Poverty has become a silent, deadly killer of our hopes and dreams for our future.  We all know money talks.  People in poverty do not have money and sometimes don’t even vote in their own best interests if they vote at all.  Mitt Romney talked about the 47 million people that he didn’t need to woo to become president.  He called them President Obama’s supporters and implied that they believed in a “trickle down” government.  He actually thinks that people want to be taken care of by the government.  His thought process is so off from what we, as Americans, are really all about that it is difficult for me to take him seriously.  Does anyone really think it is the rich that fight these wars?  The rich prosper from war.  The poor and the middle class fight them.   The poor and the middle class take care of people like Mitt Romney so he can live comfortably in his many homes, so he can travel easily, so he can feel safe and protected from harm.  The poor and the middle class really have built and continue to build this country.  No building was ever built without the sweat of real people.  No road ever was created by the sweat of the wealthy.  Mitt depends on the very people that he simply cannot relate to or understand.  They take care of him in every way possible yet he only sees what money can buy.  He doesn’t see what the American spirit is really made from.  We all have benefited from our ancestors hard work, even Mitt Romney.  Yet, he is a self-made man in his own self-made mind.  I find him ridiculous.

However, what I really wanted to write about tonight is why I am voting for President Obama.  It has taken me a long time to come to this decision.  I have been so outrageously mad at the Democratic Party since the 2008 Primary that I have joked about having DDS (Democratic Deranged Syndrome).  I was driven to exasperation by my own party with their made up rules for the Michigan Primary and what they ended up doing to Hillary Clinton in the process.  Enter Mitt Romney and the Republican Party.  If there is one thing, I can see clearly the way women have been treated by the Republican Party and flip flopper Mitt.

I believe in the capability of women to make their own decisions about their lives whether it is about their bodies or their minds.  Women don’t need men making medical decisions for them and they certainly don’t need to be taken back to the fifties with political and religious monkey business.  President Obama made two early decisions that were extremely important to me as a woman.  He chose two women to be on the Supreme Court.  With President Obama’s decision, I have better representation on the Supreme Court than I do at any other government level.  We have far too few women in politics.  One of the first things the president did was sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.  He basically said that my value as an employee was equal to any man’s value.  The president also chose Hillary Clinton to become Secretary of State.  Hillary has done a great job tirelessly working for our country.  I’ve watched her with great interest as she travels almost non-stop around the globe working for the good of our country.  She has brought great strength to President Obama’s foreign policy with her work ethic.

There are other decisions President Obama has made that I think have been good.  The auto bailout has really helped our country.  I even bought a vehicle this year when my brother-in-law let me use his GM discount.  I can only imagine the domino effect that would have happened if the auto bailout hadn’t happened.  It would have been devastating to our state, Ohio, and many other states.    While the economy is still not where it needs to be I feel we are on the road to recovery.  My son bought a condominium and was motivated by the special tax incentive program back in 2010.  It was a good incentive for selling homes and getting buyers for those homes.  The Affordable Care Act has really been given a bad rap.  Mitt Romney says he will repeal it and Republicans will come up with something better.  I can truthfully say that health care has never been a Republican issue.  If it were, we would have had health care under Reagan, Bush, or Bush.  It just didn’t happen and they even degraded Hillary when she tried to do something with health care when Bill was president.  Don’t believe the lies and truthfully, when Mitt is speaking he is lying.  I cannot believe that any politician can take so many different sides on the same issue in such a short time.  There is video proof of Romney changing positions one day and staffers changing back for him the next.  What he says really depends on the crowd he is with that day!

I have grown to appreciate President Obama.  While he is still a flawed person, I can say he is a far better choice than Mitt Romney.  “Race to the Top” is too much like “No Child Left Behind” with its heavy emphasis on standardized testing and tying teacher’s evaluations to those tests. However, he is still much better than Mitt and the Republicans.  Democrats will fund the programs that they expect schools to create.  When things were getting tough President Obama sent money to the states to keep teachers and police officers employed.  We cannot forget some of the stimulus programs that people have benefited from.  The Democrats got unemployment extended for people that were out of work!  I am sure there is more that I could say but I know that there are clear reasons to vote for President Obama and not just against Mitt Romney.

I, as a woman, would rather have a President that I trust can make a positive decision for another choice for the Supreme Court should it become necessary.  I feel I have that with President Obama.  As I said before, I do not want to go back to the fifties.  I was born in the fifties.  I have ten brothers.  I grew up in a male dominated world.  I live in a male dominated world.  I want women to continue to move forward and make their own decisions in the world.  I want women to have the freedom to be whatever they desire to be.  I am proud to be a woman that takes her vote seriously.  I value my freedom.  I value my liberties.  I am proud of my heritage and I embrace a future in America where all people are equal regardless of race, color, creed, or monetary value.  The poor and the middle class need to vote.  You may not have much money but your vote is your power!

Vote!

  • Posted on August 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm

I am so fortunate to be visiting the northern Michigan area this week.  I had a get together with some of my brothers and it was fun.  Thankfully, I am sitting in front of this view and can keep my head clear of all negative thoughts.

Beautiful Duck Lake near Interlochen, Michigan

I was the only liberal person at the party Sunday night.  One of my brothers actually thinks that Democrats are the root of all that is seemingly evil in our society.  To him it seems that it is Democratic policies that destroy cities and lead to the destruction of our nation.  He sees Democrats as not wanting to work.  I thought that was a broad brush to paint people with and rather narrow minded.

I grew up in a FDR Democratic family.  It’s a wonder that these brothers grew up with the same parents that I had.  My parents would never agree with my brothers, not by a long shot.  Like our nation, my family is deeply divided by politics, religion, and basic world views.    I think politics in general tends to divide families especially in the last twenty years or so.  The right wing ideology of bible thumping Christianity scares the hell out of the free thinking left ideology.  For the most part, I believe in tolerance of other peoples’ ideas, unless it infringes on my life and my freedoms.  I don’t want religious zealots creating policy for our country and especially for women’s reproductive health.  Regardless of how I feel, it has made me realize that it is up to the people of this country to start making the real decisions and not leaving it up to the imperfect and bought politicians.

There are two things that I think are essential to being a true and devoted citizen of our nation.  These are to become educated and to vote.  If you aren’t voting, you need to start.  We have really only our vote as a check and balance to keep those in government on their toes.  It is so obvious across this nation this year that there are many things being done to prevent certain groups of people from voting.  This tells me that our votes must really be precious.

Recently, there was an editorial in our local paper, the Sturgis Journal, in which the writer was appalled at the lack of people voting in the August election.  I did vote but I find it a bit frustrating as I live in a Republican area.  What I am noticing is many of the local offices have people that run unopposed.  Either the Democrats feel it is a lost cause, it is too expensive to put together a campaign, both of these or something else is going on.  I also saw where some representatives want to repeal the 17th amendment which would mean that we would no longer vote for our senators to represent us in Congress.  That is unbelievable to me.  We must vote people or maybe they will start taking that vote away.  Yes, I know what you may be thinking…There seems to be no difference between the two parties these days.  I’ve said it myself.  However, that is not totally true.  One is way right and one is a bit right.  Lefties have the Green Party but in our two party system; it really leaves a lot of people out in the cold on making a statement with their vote.  I think this is why many don’t bother voting.  They don’t feel they have a real choice; they only have bad candidates and then there is worse.  It is frustrating I know but we must do our part and vote or soon we may not have the right.

Look at it this way.  If so many people are trying to limit voting it must be something special.  Regardless of how you vote, if you are of voting age, I hope you do vote.  I remember how excited I was the first time I voted.  I felt really great taking part in our government.  I grew up with political discussions about everything from the Kennedys to the Vietnam War.  To me voting was a great privilege.  I have always voted and probably always will vote.  When I moved to Oklahoma, I participated in a Caucus.  It was interesting.  Politics has always been interesting to me.  What most people don’t seem to understand is politics and those political decisions do have an effect on your life.  Politics affects everything from the minimum wage to education, and even the draft.  If you don’t get involved and vote you are leaving the decisions to other people that may or may not have your best interests in mind as they do their job in government.  So this November become a participating member of our nation.  Get educated about the issues so you truly understand the consequences of your voting decisions and then VOTE!

Mitt and Mini Mitt

  • Posted on August 14, 2012 at 7:37 pm

( Justin Sullivan / Getty Images ) Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) speaks as Mitt Romney looks on during a campaign rally at the NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, N.C.

By now, everyone knows that Mitt Romney has made his VP choice.  I have had a few days to digest this information and really feel that Mitt just picked himself in many ways.  Not that Ryan had the same life as Mitt but Ryan looks a lot like any one of Mitt’s sons.  I saw the two of them on stage together wearing similar shirts.  It reminded me of an image I can remember of my many brothers lined up in their white shirts and dark pants, except for the pattern on the candidate’s shirts.  The image of Representative Ryan is that of an all-American family, much like Mitt’s image.  However, the family that currently resides in the Whitehouse is just as all-American as Mitt’s family except for the ingrained image White America has of themselves.  In many ways, the image Mitt portrays is a message he continually sends out when he refers to President Obama as not sharing your values.  This ad is a message about values that I personally find repugnant.

I personally believe in a separation of church and state.  I do not believe President Obama has declared a war on religion.  However, the image and message are clear.  If you are white, the president does not share your religious values.  He probably wasn’t even born in this country and he probably isn’t a Christian.

Therefore, we have the two religious candidates that share our collective values, a Mormon and a right wing Catholic.  I’m not sure that those protesting nuns agree with Representative Ryan on his vision for the poor, so maybe they too are un-American because they don’t share these exact values.

We are not all the same.  The beauty of our country is the fact that we are a melting pot of people, cultures, and ideas.  I believe our greatest strength is the diversity of our people.  With our diversity we are able to develop and create new ideas and stimulate thinking beyond the cookie cutter mode of one size fits all.  We are not a cookie cutter nation where the religious right owns our brains.  We can and must think for ourselves.

As an educator, I am appalled to be inundated with narrow-minded thinking that implies we are all of the same values…one size religion for everyone.  How many times are we going to be told that we are a “Christian” nation?  In our country, we are able to be what we want to be whether it involves religion or it doesn’t.  No one has to buy into any of this nonsense.  It’s like a subtle brain washing.  I always thought that religion was a personal matter between a person and their God.  I have never looked to a politician for my values and I doubt I ever will.   When I think of most politicians and how they got where they are I certainly don’t think of religion.  It’s backroom deals and money that talks.  You scratch my back and I’ll scratch your back.  We largely don’t have control over whom we get to vote for because it’s the money that gets them where they are.  It isn’t God and it isn’t love of country.  This is the same old crap they roll out every year to get the masses on board for the next big thing (You know tax cuts for the wealthy and shared sacrifice for everyone else).  They put up something about how religious they are and stupid sheep follow them.  Take your blinders off and see these people for what they really are.

Mitt Romney was a man born with a silver spoon in his mouth.  He used his own religion to get out of fighting in the Vietnam War.  He has five sons that will never go to battle for anyone except a hostile takeover of some company.  He had a “cushy” gig in France where he tried to convert French Catholics to the Mormon Church.  I think he converted two.  While he was there, he had a car accident that I would like to know more about than I’m currently reading on the web.  He is wealthy beyond our imaginations and he won’t let us know about his taxes because it’s none of our business.  He has a lot of money outside of this country and we are supposed to believe that is a patriotic thing to do.

Then there is Representative Ryan who cannot wait to dig in and dismantle the social programs created by FDR.  Here is a man that lived on the safety net of Social Security and Pell Grants but wants to deny them for the future citizens of this country.  He wants more breaks for the wealthy and less for the poor and middle class.  He believes in the same old trickle down bullshit the Republicans have been spewing for years.

I don’t see the pick of Ryan as being that big of a stretch for Mitt.  They both are really after the same things.  With these guys, the rich get richer and the poor look for the scraps left by the rich.  Social programs and social justice, those things we were taught in church when we were kids are just some left wing Commie plot that we should avoid.  In their world, they are self-made men and the rest of the world better get in line and pull up their bootstraps.

Last night I was talking to my son and he told me he watched “The Dictator”.  Now I am not a Sacha Cohen fan but Josh wanted me to watch the dictator’s speech on Youtube, so I did.  What can we learn from this?  Where is our democracy?  I will leave you with the dictator’s speech, as it is a parody filled with truth!

Garage Sale Find: Old Poem

  • Posted on July 30, 2012 at 1:18 am

Blue Angel Wings by Katherine Svoboda

Last weekend my son helped me set up for a garage sale.  Many of you know that I used to be a full time potter.  I would go to art shows and sell my pottery.  I have many little books or journals that I tend to jot things down in.  I have also written little poems on scrap paper as well.  Josh picked up an old Anne Geddes journal and tossed it in the trash.  I quickly captured it from its pit of death and exclaimed that there might be something profound in it.  My son just laughed because I tend to keep many things that seem worthless to him!  I just want to share something that I wrote in that journal and if you have a piece of my pottery please think about me.

You take a piece of me home with you

Do you feel my presence in each piece you touch?

I am not plastic or cold like steel

But molded with love and God’s holy seal

The earth is my family

The fire is my friend

Mixed with humility and God’s tempered hand

I feel close to my maker as I lovingly drink from the cup of benevolence

And a bowl of fine wine

Drink and be merry with my pots so strong

Feel each loving stroke of God’s holy hand

Keep each piece close to you year after year

Remember the maker that brought you such cheer

Yes, I know.  It is truly a bit sappy but it was a moment I remember long ago when I was watching someone in my booth picking up my pottery and caressing it, trying to make a decision.  Just know when you are in any potter’s booth, there is a bit of the individual in each piece you touch!

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