You are currently browsing the archives for December 2012.
Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 entries.

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!

SEO Powered by Platinum SEO from Techblissonline