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That Flag?

  • Posted on June 25, 2015 at 8:22 pm

A couple years ago, I had some students that wanted to depict the Confederate flag on their scratch art projects.  I told them I would not allow it because it is a racist symbol.  They argued with me about that issue and did not believe me.  I said, “Let me see, how about I put racist symbols on Google images and see what happens?”   I did that and of course many images came up but the Confederate flag was smack dab in the middle of all that hate.  My students told me that just because it is on the Internet doesn’t make it true.  These are middle school boys growing up in southern Michigan with the mentality that there is nothing wrong with that flag.  I periodically have students that have challenged me on this issue, swastikas, and the KKK.  Sometimes they are testing me to see what I will accept and sometimes they are just so used to being around these symbols and seeing them that they just don’t know any better.

I know there has been more of this these past few years and it is related to the Tea Party movement and, of course, to the fact that we now have a black president.  Over the years, the more that I see of President Obama, the more I realize how much hatred there is in our country.  This is more than a Republican or Democratic issue.  Those Republicans that refuse to work with President Obama have refused from day one.  They don’t hate him because he is a Democrat; they hate him because he is a black Democrat.  I have always found President Obama to be a tad more Republican in his stances than that of a progressive Democrat.  I could not understand why the right could be so down on him.  He has done so much that they should be happy about.  Getting up the “courage” to take down this racist symbol is in my mind, is a joke.  As an educator, I know it is racist and so do all these powerful people.  I am no more educated than most of them, but so many of them, like these young boys, do not want to face the truth.

John Oliver said it right when he talked about the Confederate flag, “The Confederate flag is one of those things that should only be seen on t-shirts, belt buckles and bumper stickers to help the rest of us identify the worst people in the world.”   I laughed when I watched his piece on this because that is exactly how I see it.  Whenever I see someone with that flag, I think I know what they are about and I choose to avoid them.  It does however; make it easier for them to find each other in a crowd, if they are looking for like-minded people.  Now that it is out in the open and everyone knows it is a racist symbol, one would think that people would want to get on with the healing and remove it from any part of their lives.  If I were wearing something that I discovered was racist, rest assured, I wouldn’t want to wear that thing again.  For me, the Civil War was a part of history and should be treated as such.

What does our country stand for?  We go into other countries trying to democratize them.  We say we stand for all that is good and right in the world and for freedom of speech.  At home, we have allowed hate groups to spread their hate.  Whether it is the KKK, Neo-Nazi groups, or the American Family Association, hate groups teach hate.  They start when people are very young children to indoctrinate them with their personal form of hate.  These peoples’ rights are protected and often by groups like the ACLU.  I don’t know what we can do to stop all of this hate, but I do know that children are not born hating anyone.  Hatred is a learned behavior.  We believe in free speech so these people are still going to be allowed to spread their own form of hatred but it should be clear that anything that breeds that hatred should not be accepted on government property, whether it be federal lands or state owned, or allowed within government programs.  We, as a country, must be leaders on this issue.  It is clear to me that these flags and monuments to a time when we were a country with a master and slave population, need to be put in a museum.  It is time that we healed as a nation and worked to support each other.  Race should not be what defines us as a people.  Our spirit, integrity, and character should.

The TSA and Other Things on My Mind Today

  • Posted on January 31, 2014 at 12:46 pm

I think this is going to be a long day.  I have a stressed out dog, a curious cat, and a backache.  It is the middle of winter and I am getting a new roof.  My animals, especially my poor dog, seem confused by the noise and feel somewhat invaded.  It is early.  I know that this day is only going to get much worse.  Speaking of feeling invaded, I just read the article, “Dear America, I Saw You Naked and Yes, we were laughing. Confessions of an ex-TSA agent.” by Jason Edward Harrington over at Politico.com.  I have to say nothing in it surprised me but it sure reinforces many of the things I had been thinking about giving up our freedoms and all for the sake of safety.  Some of it is just to keep us in line, so to speak.  Nothing more but to make it look like someone is doing something to keep us safe.  The next time you are traveling and have to be personally checked in some way, you might think more about why it is you.  He even suggested there is a special code for attractive women, no real surprise there.  It sounds more like a Frat house party than what we should consider serious government business.

Poor Ann Romney is still whining about the fact that she won’t be FLOTUS.  I am not sure why but I did watch the Mitt movie on Netflix this week during our hiatus from school because of the chilling weather.  The movie was a great, big, warm, and fuzzy fluff piece for Mitt.  Aw shucks people, he is just one of us!  We just don’t really understand what a decent, caring individual he really is.  While I am sitting here trying to comfort my poor dog, I cannot help but think back to another dog that spent a treacherous time on the roof of Mitt’s automobile.  Maybe Mitt is one of us, one of those people that don’t understand those of us that treat our animals as if they are human.  Enough said, but don’t be surprised if Mitt doesn’t run again.  The movie made me think it was a setup for 2016!

While I was home, I also viewed those annoying videos all teachers have to view yearly about everything from blood borne pathogens and sexual harassment, to chemicals in the work place and what OSHA means to me.  I am not sure why I have to view these every year because my memory isn’t that bad.  However, it is just one of those things that some government official thinks we need to freshen up on yearly.  I always find the sexual harassment video interesting.  When I see the young female teacher sitting at her desk with the lecherous older teacher trying to persuade her to get on his team, I can only wonder what female teacher wears a top like that.  It has spaghetti straps and I think she is ready for a party.  I know many young, female teachers and I haven’t witnessed any of them dressed quite like that at school.  If they did, the boys would surely be having much better attendance rates than some of them do.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending an online art conference put on by the Art of Education.  It was an interesting day.  There were many technical problems for people as the video streaming had some issues.  Even though there were problems, I still had a great day.  It was nice to feel like I was part of something bigger as I viewed and participated in conversations with other art teachers from all over the world.  Of course, art is universal and it is truly, a language that all people can understand.  AOE gave us a password so we can view the videos for the next six months or so.  This is great as I remember many times coming back from a conference trying to remember all of the different presentations I attended.  At AOE, I can review the videos and maybe get even more from them.  While they didn’t present enough material at the high school level, I was able to get plenty of ideas that I will be using in my own classroom in the days and years to come.  I really can’t wait until the next one.  Therefore, if you are an art teacher, you might want to look into the Art of Education website for future reference.

Speaking of art and websites, I want to give a shout out to my favorite online art teacher, “The Helpful Art Teacher.”  Rachel Wintemberg teaches in New Jersey and has only had her blog for a bit over three years, but it is jam packed with great lesson plans.  She shares everything and researches whatever she is posting online.  While the site visually may look a little simplistic, it is far from it.  I can spend days perusing Rachel’s blog.  It is just a treasure.  If you are an art teacher, you really need to check it out.  It is really geared for the middle and high school crowd but it is awesome.  I have nominated her blog for the Art of Educations Art Ed Blog of the Year Award.  You are welcome to nominate her as well if you are so inclined.

While I am hearing a lot of pounding, my baby dog, Brodie, has seemed to settle in under my feet, so to speak.  He pipes up once in awhile but he seems to be appreciating my presence near him and is glad that I am calm and not freaking out by the noise.  The geek in me finds this product very interesting and it reminds me of a piece of sculpture.  It could be revolutionary and it is based on an old concept.  How cool is that?

I talked with one of my ten brothers the other night about farm subsidies.  I won’t get into the sum total of our conversation but it had something to do with the concept of socialism and how some people that despise the concept of socialism are the biggest socialists, so to speak, as they get subsidized. So of course, I had to go find the website for myself and it is interesting.  If you would like to know who is getting farm subsidies in your area, just plug in the zip code.  This is for the period of years from 1995 through 2012.  I always find these things interesting because so many people worry about the $133.85 some poor person might be receiving from SNAP.  Maybe we should be looking beyond to the people that really get the lion’s share of government money through special programs, lobbying efforts, and no bid contracts.  Don’t even get me started on those charitable organizations like churches that get government money for “helping” other people.  I always think it would be better if the government just gave the money right to the people.  Think about how the bankers were all bailed out, if the government had just sent that money out to us, we would have gotten the economy going, by spending it.  Instead, the bankers kept it and then made it more difficult for businesses to get the loans they needed.  I am not an economist but something stinks in our government.  We have two parties that get their seed money for their elections from businesses that lobby for special treatment.  The rest of us out in the real world just keep doing what we are supposed to be doing and keep on hoping that something different will be done.  President Obama was going to bring us change but that’s not happening.  Washington is more gridlocked than ever and controlled by special interests that have nothing to do with most of the American people.  The one percent is getting richer and the rest of us continue to hang on….hoping to see something constructive done by our government.  I won’t hold my breath.  I don’t see any real change in anything but education and that’s just because there is money to be made there.

I have had fun writing my little thoughts.  I hope someone finds me somewhat entertaining and perhaps I can get someone thinking, a simple thing this teacher would like to do.  You don’t have to agree with me on anything, but just think.  I’ll leave you with a picture of poor Brodie.  As you can see, he is frightened but sitting under my computer chair knowing I will save him from all that is evil!100_2107

Secret Service Goes Quiet on Pay

  • Posted on July 25, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Office of George BushH.W. Bush and his Secret Service Patrol

Yesterday, I saw on the news the nice little story about President H.W. Bush shaving his head in support of one of his secret service member’s children who is battling leukemia.  I diverged off from the cute little story when I had a conversation with my sister this morning and she was quite upset to think that President H.W. Bush has that many secret service people protecting him.  I told her I thought there seemed like a lot but I didn’t actually get a good look at the picture as I was working in my studio and mostly listening to the news.  I decided it was worth a second look and I am flabbergasted at the sheer number of able-bodied men it seems to take to protect merely one of our ex-presidents.  The story is here:  http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/07/24/19662020-bush-41-shaves-head-in-support-of-2-year-old-cancer-patient?lite

Now, maybe this doesn’t bother you but from my perspective, it seems like there weren’t any cuts made in protecting our dear ex-presidents when all those cuts were made this spring to the rest of the country.  I know there are many people unemployed so I think that maybe a job in the Secret Service would be good place to look for work.  Here is the link in case you are so inclined.  http://www.secretservice.gov/faq.shtml#faq8

I did some research because I wanted to know what it costs to take care of our ex-presidents.  Interestingly enough, I could only find the cost for their homes, office, and so forth but not the cost for Secret Service as I think it’s a secret!  Now, the cost for running their homes and so forth is also quite large.  In fact large enough that most of us would be happy with a onetime payment of that lottery prize.  I am providing a link here but the expense for 2012 was $3.7 million.  Interestingly enough, there was an act back in 1997 that would have ended secret service for all future ex-presidents after ten years.  http://www.usatoday.com/story/theoval/2013/03/26/obama-bush-clinton-carter-congressional-research-service/2020323/

This would mean that President Clinton would have been the last to receive this service for his lifetime.  However, contrary to what we have been made to believe about Congress and the President not getting along, they actually do pass some legislation.  In January of this year, as I loosely quote Wikipedia, President Obama signed legislation reinstating lifetime Secret protection for himself, President George W. Bush, and all subsequent presidents.  Maybe this seems fine to everyone else but I question a government that can spend so much on those at the top of the government food chain and so little on those at the bottom.  They, meaning Congress, politicians, and the right wing media have us little people worrying about the person next door getting food stamps, SNAP if you will.  As you will see from this chart, the average SNAP benefit is $133.41.  I have been to the grocery store lately and by my calculations that doesn’t go too far!

We can all get into a battle about protecting our ex-presidents but my concern is the number of secret service needed to do that job.  There have been major cuts to programs for everything from defense to education.  Everyone at the bottom seems to have to give up something, so why don’t those at the top?

 

The Courting of Hillary?

  • Posted on January 28, 2013 at 6:44 pm
, via Wikimedia Commons”]

I watched 60 Minutes last night because I wondered what the Obama, Clinton interview meant.  I was somewhat surprised by the relationship that appeared between the two.  Of course, there is much speculation as to what is really going on.  Will she run in 2016 or won’t she?  I came away with many different thoughts but number one I do think President Obama wanted to thank Hillary for her service to the country.  The Republicans have bullied her for years and they continue to try to take her down only to discover that she is more popular than ever.  President Obama praised her for being an exemplary Secretary of State.  I agree with him.  She has worked tirelessly to try to improve our foreign policy and our standing on the world stage.  Her tireless effort more than likely has contributed to her current health situation.  Hillary has given much to his country.  No one can question this.  I have no doubt that President Obama does have feelings for Hillary and he must admire her for her effort and unfailing devotion to her job and country.

If you think about it, women have always surrounded President Obama.  His mother and grandmother played key roles in his young development and of course, his wife and young girls continue to provide a certain female perspective for him today.  The recent appointments that he has made and the picture depicting so many male staff members has been talked about in such a way as to suggest Obama has no room for women in his cabinet and his life.  Could he have taken this time to thank Hillary to remind people of how closely he regards the counsel of those women around him?

Perhaps the president needed a moment to show women that appreciate Hillary that he too appreciates her.  I don’t know what caused him to take this moment to thank Hillary but me for one am glad he did.  Hillary deserves recognition for her years of service to this country.  I am glad that Hillary and Barack could look beyond the 2008 primary to get some things done for the good of the country.

I can only hope that the Republicans could learn from this relationship.  Hillary called the president, her president.   It’s about time the Republicans understood that he is their president as well as ours.  He won the election.   I think the president should pick the cabinet he feels is the best choice for the country at this time in history.  I also believe that the Republicans should be thinking about the good of the country and not their next election.

On Meet the Press Sunday, I saw Rep. Paul Ryan.  He still doesn’t get it.  Obama won and he won decisively.  It wasn’t even close, as the Republicans want us to believe.  http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/robert-schlesinger/2013/01/04/the-final-2012-presidential-election-results-arent-close

Ryan feels like Obama has to make nice with the Republicans on their turf.  In one breath, he says we have a majority and then the next he talked about how he was disappointed that Romney didn’t win so they could put forth their “agenda”.  It is obvious that he felt that if they had won they would have the backing of the people to put forth their agenda.  My question is why he doesn’t feel the same way when Obama won?  It just dosen’t make any sense at all to me.  He also mentioned Hillary in a positive way, which is just bullshit from his mouth.  Is he really thinking any of us that like Clinton could possibly like his policies?  Dream on Paul.  If you want to watch him click .

His biggest regret is that they didn’t win and they didn’t get to put the kind of “reforms” that he thinks the country needs in place.  He says this around 17.26 into the video.  He understands that his party needs to expand their appeal but he still just doesn’t get it in my mind.  Ryan thinks the president is more worried about a political conquest of the Republicans than with doing what is right for the country.  He went on to talk about if we had a Clinton presidency he thinks we would have fixed this mess by now.  This is all Ryan bullshit because he would have been doing the same thing to Clinton that he has done to Obama.  The Republicans are disappointed about the election.  After all, they had planned on Obama having only one term as president.  They were going to do everything in their power to make it so.  Well, they lost and the American people made their choice.  Now, they expect Obama to come crawling back to them with his tail between his legs like some whipped puppy.  I don’t think so.  Obama does have the backing of the people.  I like what has been happening with my stocks and I sure don’t want those Republicans to start putting the stops on the economy.  If anything, the government needs to put more money out to build up the infrastructure and get this economy moving even better.  We don’t need the boogey man Republicans constantly holding the fiscal cliff over our heads causing chaos and instability.

As far as Hillary goes….she rocks and the president knows it!  Unfortunately for them, so do the Republicans!  She had Paul Ryan singing her praises this weekend.  This coming the same week when the Repubs showed their despicable behavior to her which culminated with Sen. Rand Paul dreaming about being president so he could have the opportunity to fire her.  These Republicans are funny.  They fear Hillary and they will do anything they can to keep her from running in 2016.  I’m sure it won’t take long until the crazy nuts start talking about how she killed Vince Foster.  Hillary, if you run, you got my vote.  If you don’t, have a long and happy life.

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.

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!

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!

Mitt Romney Calls Again

  • Posted on June 30, 2012 at 1:20 am

Mitt, calling me once again! (Picture is just for reference.)

Tonight I got another crazy call from Mitt Romney.  I decided one of my brothers must be playing a joke on me.  I cannot remember how many times I have been called by Mitt in the last two months but, it has been enough for me to feel like he has me on speed dial.  I did my usual hang up after he screamed how the first thing he would do is repeal Obamacare.

I frankly am not interested in what the Republicans have to say about healthcare as I am a woman and I had a sister who died an early death probably because she didn’t have health insurance.  What the Republicans offer women just in the area of health insurance is rather pathetic let alone in any other area.  By my understanding, they don’t want to cover much of anything that has to do with a woman’s vagina, let alone “say” that word!  All across the country the right wing Republicans have declared war on women.  They don’t like it being called a “war”.  They just think they know what we should do with our bodies better than we know ourselves.  It’s like they are the “daddy” and daddy knows what’s best for “his” little girl.  Unfortunately, daddy is living in the Stone Age and his daughter has grown up in the 21st Century!  Young women today had better start paying attention or they may end up with a daddy like Mitt who is willing to spend untold money for a prancing horse but unwilling to let his little girl take care of her own vagina.

You may think I find all of this humorous as I am laughing, but I really think this is serious business.  Women today are basically screwed when it comes to politics.  We have very little true representation as there are not enough women involved in writing the laws of our land.  The laws are still basically written by a steady stream of old white guys that don’t really care much for women and women’s rights.  They give us lip service when it’s near election time.  The Democrats try to appear to be on the side of women but hey fall far short representing my gender in any real meaningful way.  The only thing they really have going for them is the Supreme Court.  I cannot imagine another Thomas or Scalia selected for the Supreme Court but it could happen with Romney.  I don’t care much for President Obama but I am happy that he chose two women to be on the Supreme Court.  We now have better representation on the Supreme Court than we do in Washington D.C.

As far as the “Affordable Care Act” goes, I think time will tell how it is going to work.  I, for one, think we should let the dust settle and let the law blossom into what it is supposed to be.  Most of us don’t know all of the details in the law as it stands right now but people probably didn’t know how Social Security, Medicare, or any other program would work until they were enacted either.  Most of it isn’t going to kick in until 2014, so I say let’s see what happens.

The Republicans have spent far too much time strutting like Peacocks trying to get us to notice them.  However, while they have been strutting around trying to get us to fall in love with them, they forgot to do the business of the people.  They work far too hard trying to get rid of President Obama rather than working to push our country forward.  I am tired of the constant tension that is created by a party that wants to sit on their hands while the whole world crumbles around them.  They remind me of the old picture of “monkey see, monkey do”.  Instead of acting like true leaders, they watch each other and follow lock step whatever the first monkey does.  I guess that might be Grover Norquist because he seems to be holding all the cards on the tax situation or maybe it’s the Tea Party.  I don’t know why they have chosen to sit out and become the do nothing Congress that we all have witnessed.  I just wish some of them had the conviction to break from the pack and become true leaders and visionaries for the American people.  They wait until the last possible moment to pass anything like the current job and student loan bills.  They show their faux outrage at Attorney General Holder.   I guess thinking that this is what the American people want.  However, they are so out of touch with what we want that they can’t think straight.

Most of the people I know want to make a good living, take care of their families, be stress fee at work or at home from bills and the possible loss of their job.  Most of the people I know wouldn’t think of telling another person how to take care of their reproductive health or dog them on their church affiliation.  Most of the people I know don’t want to be hassled by the government in any form but definitely want health care to be available and affordable.  Most of the people I know, when they really think about it, don’t want to be sitting next to people that are ill at school or anywhere else that cannot get the health care they need because it is unavailable to them.  They don’t want their children exposed to diseases that were supposed to be eradicated just because parents cannot afford to get their children vaccinated.

I have to come back to what I think the main topic should be and it is the economy.  If you teach a child to swim he can probably save his own life.  The same can be said for people in many ways.  Most people want to work and take care of themselves.  The goal should be job creation.  If we get people working again they will take care of themselves.  It takes money to make money and to get this economy moving money is going to have to be spent.  Austerity measures aren’t going to do our country a bit of good.  We must be willing as a government to do whatever it takes to get this economy moving.  We all know there are bridges and roads that need to be built and repaired.  There are schools that need to be updated.  There are inventors, innovators, and creative young people sitting in classrooms waiting for the future to come.  What are we going to leave them?  Some pot holed roads and broken bridges?  Some school debt that follows them into old age?  Will they have memories of abusive politicians that cannot appear to be civil to each other?  We have choices to make.  I want my students to dream about a future that doesn’t include broken dreams, ineffective government, and a life time of debt.

Standard and Poor’s, My Thoughts

  • Posted on August 10, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Just like every other American I have been wondering about the Standard & Poor’s decision to down grade the United States long term rating.  I have been thinking what affect it might have on the country and even my own personal situation.  The personal situation comes up because the stock market is so volatile.  Now I don’t have a lot of money, but I do have some investments and it seems to me that they had just bounced back from the beating they took in 2008.  I decided I would do my own investigation into this rating decision.  Instead of reading the newspapers, I personally think it’s best to go the source.

The reason seems to be tied more to politics than anything else.  We all know that the country seems to be on a confused path.  Most Americans know that the Bush tax cuts, especially for the wealthy, should not have been renewed.  We are at a point in this country where the politics from the Republicans and the Democrats seem to be weighing heavily on our country by the very ineptness showcased by both parties. We are left in our small towns and big cities wondering if there is anyone in this government that knows what the hell their doing.

I really believe that the Tea Party rhetoric totally exacerbated this situation.  Michelle Bachmann even continues to use this in her speeches as if she somehow has the correct solution to the problem.  The problem with her stance is that she still clings to the idea that voting no was a good solution because after all raising taxes should never happen.  President Obama, for his part, has been weak and ineffectual.  While he seems to be embracing those very items that the Republicans want like changes to Medicare and Social Security, he refuses to really push two things that could be game changers, raising taxes on the higher incomes and retracting from these endless wars.  President Obama has embraced just about every program President Bush began.  The Republicans actually should love President Obama as he gives into them at every turn.  The change in governing from the Bush times to the Obama times is really flawless.  There really isn’t any real change.  I know President Obama ran on the words, hope and change, but actions speak much louder than words.  From my perspective, President Obama is much closer to Republican thought process and governing philosophy than he is to Democratic principles.  So, you might be wondering why I see this as basically a political problem even though in my mind the two factions are actually close in their basic philosophies.  I see them as playing “good cop, bad cop” roles.  They show us how divided they are but secretly they are still going to parties together, golfing, and having friendships with each other.  How else could such seemingly diverse people like James Carville and Mary Matlin stand each other enough to be married to each other?  Now, you can say politics makes strange bedfellows, but I believe this is just another hoax on the American people.  The people in the two parties seem more interested in their own personal situations than they do the best interest of the country.  The politics have gotten in the way of governing.  Each decision seems to be a calculation about who is going to gain or lose from the decision.

There is an article that caught my attention.  It’s from June of 2009 in the Bloomberg Businessweek.  http://www.businessweek.com/investor/content/jun2009/pi20090615_088345.htm

This article is by Nikola G. Swann who is the primary credit analyst for the rating decision.  The article was about why the United States still had a AAA rating status.  One thing caught my eye, so I compared what he said to the current document about why they changed the rating status.  Here is the most important part of that document.

Why does Standard & Poor’s continue to view the U.S. as a AAA credit?

We believe the U.S.’s key credit strengths include:

• A high-income, highly diversified economy, with unusually flexible labor and product markets.

• The unique advantages associated with the U.S. dollar’s preeminent role as the world’s most used currency.

• The country’s openness to trade and capital flows and experience in adapting to associated fluctuations.

The country’s stable political system with strong, long-established institutions, its ability to respond to changing economic and financial circumstances, and its transparency in policymaking.

However, this is the part that really caught my eye.

Still, we believe that the fiscal outturn in the U.S. will be somewhat better than that in the U.K. because of what we view as the greater diversity and, consequently, resiliency of its economy. We expect that the U.S.’s net general government debt will rise to about 90% of GDP by 2013; we expect that of the U.K. to rise to nearly 100%.

It’s the 90% by 2013 of GDP that I found interesting.  If you go to the current document, in one scenario the 90% is met at 2015 and 101% by 2021 and in another 77% by 2015 and 78% by 2021.  Obviously, one is the downside and one is the upside scenario.  The document than goes on to compare what S&P deems to be similar countries to the USA and why they made a rating change.   The country that stands out is Canada.  Of course we are friends with Canada and there are always comparisons to be made.  However, I will point out here that there is a huge difference between our populations.  Canada has nearly 34 million and we have over 307 million.  The debt to GDP ratio for Canada is much lower than any of the other countries and is listed at 30% of GDP.  I found this interesting considering the fact that Canada has universal health care.  Their taxes aren’t crazy really and they don’t even tax lottery winnings. http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/fq/txrts-eng.html

They have oil reserves that are second only to Saudi Arabia.  That’s something I didn’t know.  They also rely on the United States for both import and export business.  I n 2009 73% of their exports were to the USA and 63% of their imports were from here.  So, you might be thinking how does this all tie together?  In the document that explains how the S&P came to their decision they said this:

We have changed our assumption on this because the majority

of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise

revenues, a position we believe Congress reinforced by passing the act.

They also said this:

The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as

America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective,

and less predictable than what we previously believed. The statutory debt

ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in

the debate over fiscal policy. Despite this year’s wide-ranging debate, in our

view, the differences between political parties have proven to be

extraordinarily difficult to bridge, and, as we see it, the resulting

agreement fell well short of the comprehensive fiscal consolidation program

that some proponents had envisaged until quite recently. Republicans and

Democrats have only been able to agree to relatively modest savings on

discretionary spending while delegating to the Select Committee decisions on

more comprehensive measures.

From my viewpoint it looks like politics got in the way of everything.  Some people think that this was political because of S&P alone.  I don’t know about that.  This document might explain something about their influences.  http://influenceexplorer.com/organization/standard-poors/69ef116db51541288f82666a423a5fe5

It appears that some of the people and their families that work for S&P have given more to Democrats than Republicans.  As you scroll down, you will notice S&P contracts with the federal government.  I don’t know how any of this ties together, but I’m sharing it here because it might be important as a matter of disclosure.

The truth is we have been on a downward spiral for years.  We have spent money on two wars that was essentially borrowed money.  We were told early on that the Iraq war would be paid for by Iraq oil reserves or some such nonsense.  The military has basically doubled in spending and while doing all of this, we did not sacrifice anything other than our young people who gave so much for these wars!  While our soldiers were giving their lives and limbs, back home we were embracing the Bush tax cuts.  In each of our states we have witnessed the problems associated with all of this.  As the federal government put more in the wars, we received less in our respective states.  Many states are hurting and a good reason they are hurting is the lack of funds.  Cuts have been made across the country.  This year is unprecedented in the cuts that many states are facing.  The cuts that are most personal to me are those to education.  To me, educating our people is extremely important for the future growth and stability of our country.  An uneducated electorate is dangerous.

I sit here frustrated by a president and Congress that can’t seem to do what is necessary for the betterment of our country.  Get us out of these wars, including Libya, and get rid of the Bush tax cuts!  However, the most important thing our government should do is a jobs bill.  Certain states get an influx of cash from the federal government in the form of disaster relief.  Texas received $74,523,000 for hurricane Rita alone.  http://www.hud.gov/news/katrina05response.cfm

I feel Michigan and many other states have economic disasters that are never addressed quite like those states that have floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes.  Our whole country needs some disaster relief to rebuild the shambles from the economic disaster left from the loss of the manufacturing jobs.  In my mind, if we build it, they will come.  Just like in the movie, “Field of Dreams”, we should build our country up.  We should fix our infrastructure, transportation, and bring broadband everywhere in the USA.  We should not be cutting money from education but infusing money into education to get every student prepared for 21st Century jobs.  If we do this, we will make this country a better place for business and growth.  Everyone will win from this scenario.  Yes, if we build it, they will come.

Here is some food for thought.  I think if the Republicans hadn’t taken over the House of Representatives, we wouldn’t have received this rating.  In fact, we will never know, but I believe the stock market would be far more stable.  Prior to the Republicans taking over the House, the stock market was coming back.  Things were picking up some.  I was happy to see my personal portfolio coming back.  However, when the Republicans came in, everything changed.  Everything constricted in government from money to jobs.  The FAA even had to furlough people because decisions couldn’t be reached.  Jobs were held up because decisions couldn’t be made.  Representative Boehner and the Tea Party may be standing by their convictions, but I say at the detriment of the entire country.  I say shame on the Tea Party Republicans for letting our country down and shame on President Obama for treating this deficit debate like a political game as well.  After the debate all we heard from the pundits is who won and who lost.  It’s obvious the American people lost and no one could possibly consider these politicians to be winners!

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