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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!

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!

Protest at the Capital in Lansing

  • Posted on April 13, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Here is a video from Wood TV8 about the protest that took place at the Capital building today.

I’m sure most people won’t know much about the protest here in Michigan today.  The best printed press I could find on it was from San Antonio.  Yes, I know that’s not a Michigan newspaper.  Surprise, surprise!  Here is a link with many pictures.

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/article/Anti-Snyder-protest-draws-thousands-to-Capitol-1335980.php#photo-

In Detroit many bus drivers took the day off to support the protest.

http://www.detnews.com/article/20110413/METRO05/104130390/1361/Scores-of-Detroit-bus-drivers-call-in-sick-during-Lansing-protest–expected-back-Thursday

In our own local Sturgis Journal there is an article about possible budget cuts here at Sturgis that amount to a bit over a million dollars.  I can’t get to the piece online but it includes shutting down the pool which would be sad.

I also came across this bit about Ken Ross.

http://www.upi.com/Business_News/2011/04/09/State-regulator-gives-Fed-rule-thumbs-down/UPI-68151302369316/

And then a few days later look here is Ken Ross again.  This time he’s leaving the job.

http://www.lifeandhealthinsurancenews.com/News/2011/4/Pages/Ken-Ross-to-Leave-Michigan-Insurance-Post.aspx

I also found this buried tidbit informative.

http://www.crainsdetroit.com/article/20110405/FREE/110409954#

This was meant to be a quick post just to let people know what’s going on here in Michigan.

Jon Stewart “Must See” TV and Frances Perkins

  • Posted on March 4, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Last night I stayed up late just to watch the Daily show because I knew Diane Ravitch was going to be on the show.  It was too late to stay up but I’m not sorry I watched it.  Jon has a great staff.  They put together all of the important elements in their clips and it is truly “must see” TV.  If you do nothing else tonight, watch Jon Stewart’s whole show.

http://www.thedailyshow.com/full-episodes/thu-march-3-2011-diane-ravitch

Diane mentioned Finland because that country has been sited so many times for their world standing in education.  Diane talks about this and also the relation of education test scores to poverty which I have written about here on my post many times before.

It is amazing that teachers have become the “scapegoat” for all that is wrong with education today.

After checking out Jon’s show you might want to get the new book on Frances Perkins.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frances_Perkins

I, like most Americans, don’t know enough about our history.  Frances Perkins was FDR’s labor secretary.  My sister is reading a book about her and it sounds fascinating.  The book is, “The Woman Behind the New Deal” by Kirsten Downey.

If you cannot afford to buy the book, remember you can get it at your local library.  They will even have it shipped in from another library for you.

What is shocking to me is how little I know about this amazing woman.  She was truly a champion for workers’ rights and we all need to learn more about her.  When you think about the fact that a state like Mississippi hasn’t even elected one woman to congress in all of their history, then you read about Frances and “New Deal”, you will be absolutely amazed.  http://womenincongress.house.gov/

We need more women like Frances Perkins in public office today.

A Tale of Two Cities

  • Posted on February 27, 2011 at 8:20 pm

This weekend, just like every other weekend this year, I have been busy working on assignments for a couple of courses I’m taking.  When I finished today, I sat down and watched CNN and HLN news.  I couldn’t help but notice two news posts that seemed like a strange juxtaposition to be next to each other.  One showcased Oscar opulence and the other a scene from the state house at Madison, Wisconsin where protesters are camped out and being asked to leave.  http://www.wkow.com/global/category.asp?c=123753

Tonight belongs to Oscar but I, for one, could care less who or what gets an Oscar.  Watching the news where Wolfgang Puck showed off little Oscar chocolates coated with 24K gold just kind of repulsed me as I thought about what is happening in Wisconsin.  The heat and pressure is really being put on the teachers.  The next move is layoff notices which are now being sent out to teachers by many school boards across the state.  http://lacrossetribune.com/news/local/article_4f6825c2-4160-11e0-afd8-001cc4c002e0.html

Of course we all know that Governor Walker is threatening to layoff state employees as well.  While this is being played out in Wisconsin, Hollywood is busy with all the Oscar parties and events.  The Oscar swag bag could pay for a teacher, benefits and all.  http://www.hollywoodtoday.net/2011/02/27/oscars-2011-even-the-losers-get-75000-plus-in-swag-bag/

It is kind of scary the tale of these two cities.  One full of opulence and one filled with normal people doing normal jobs just asking for the right to negotiate.  It’s even scarier when a simple gift bag for the 1600 or so Oscar elite is worth more than what most teachers received in a year’s salary and benefits.  Winners’ swag bags are worth twice as much.  Imagine a gift worth $150,000!  It’s hard to fathom how the rich, powerful and famous live.  I’m just a teacher.  I drive a 2001 Ford Taurus and I live a simple life but now the government has put a target on my back because I’m paid too well.  I have to “share” the sacrifice.  I don’t have a problem with sharing a sacrifice as long as everyone has to give their fair share.  What I want to know is what sacrifices are the wealthy facing?  What will they be missing in their opulent lifestyles?  Will the Koch brothers have a few less billion to throw around?  Will the Hollywood elite have to give up a few thousand from their swag bag?

Educating our children should be the top priority in our country.  Our children are our most precious resource.  The best thing you can give your child is a good education from dedicated professionals.  I know what I put into my teaching and I see my colleagues doing the same.  I’m sure Wisconsin teachers are dedicated as well.  There may be a few bad apples as every profession has those people that might be considered “lazy”.  However, the truth is teaching is a profession that has come a long way.  Teachers used to be able to teach with an 8th grade education.  Those days are long gone as most teachers have earned the equivalent of their Masters and beyond.  Teachers want to be paid for being the professionals they have become.  Teachers have had a lot of pressure to keep up with the times.  For years teachers have been the first to learn about the new technologies when they come out and they have worked hard to get that technology installed in school districts.  There is much more to the profession of teaching today than has been in the past.  Teachers have to learn new strategies for teaching the 21st century student who has been raised with an appetite for TV, video games and computer gadgets.  Teachers attend conferences, take more college courses and get involved in professional development to improve their teaching ability.  This effort is on going and lasts for the lifetime of the teacher.  Many people have no idea what is really going on in schools today.  They hear something about a test score and think they know the whole story.  Much of what a teacher does on any given day could never show up on a test.  I’ve listened to children tell me how their parent died and why their sad to letting me know they’re hungry, to even showing me their excitement at learning something new in my class.  These are precious moments.  Sometimes I’m teaching and sometimes I’m listening and sometimes I’m just someone showing a young soul that I care about them.  You may see me as someone that needs to share a sacrifice.  I see myself as someone that puts her hand out every day and lifts up children that need a helping hand!

Wisconsin, the Koch Brothers and Luscious the Cat

  • Posted on February 21, 2011 at 7:50 pm


The Citizen United decision has changed and corrupted the election process.  Most of us thought the election process was bad before this ruling.  However, what is bad can obviously get worse.  We should all be alarmed to discover the close ties of Justice Clarence Thomas, his wife, and Justice Antonin Scalia have with the Koch brothers.  If you’ve been hiding under a rock, you might not know who these powerful brothers are and why their relationship with these justices on the Supreme Court should cause alarm and concern for normal American citizens.  From the archives here is the case:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/22/us/politics/22scotus.html

The Supreme Court may have been bitterly divided on this case at the time but we didn’t know how close the two above justices are to the Koch brothers.  The Koch brothers have benefited greatly from this ruling.  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/15/us/politics/15thomas.html?_r=1&ref=clarencethomas

You all should remember Glenn Beck’s rally in Washington D.C. or the Tea Party movement.  Well, the Koch brothers, in the words of Frank Rich are the “Sugar Daddies” that help fund these “noble” causes.  So, how does this all matter this past week in Wisconsin?  The Koch brothers are funding, once again, the efforts to destroy and take down public unions.   http://blogs.forbes.com/rickungar/2011/02/18/koch-brothers-behind-wisconsin-effort-to-kill-public-unions/

Not only that, but within the legislation that the governor wants pass is some writing that allows for “no bid” contracts.  Many believe this is set up to pay back people like the Koch brothers that have been funding the campaigns of people like Governor Walker.

http://motherjones.com/mojo/2011/02/wisconsin-scott-walker-koch-brothers

This all gets more and more interesting as the days go by.  Governor Walker, trying to appear all noble, is just looking out for payback for his buddies.  That payback is about killing unions, not just public sector unions but private as well.

I found this hilarious video that pretty much says it all.  It’s created by some person named Luscious the Cat on Youtube.  It seems that Luscious is trying to educate the American public in what I think is a very creative manner!  I figured why should I keep writing when Luscious can dramatically educate the public for me.  Thanks Luscious!

Solidarity and Why Wisconsin Matters

  • Posted on February 20, 2011 at 11:27 am

I’ve been watching the protesting going on in Madison, Wisconsin with great concern.  Many believe, just as I do, that Madison is a test case for the rest of us.  I believe there has been a constant push to divide workers in our country and around the world.  All people that work for someone else need to pay attention to what is happening in Madison.

Unions have become the target of business and we, the American people, have been duped by the corporate propaganda machine.  Unions have been blamed for everything from the current economic condition to why businesses are choosing to manufacture goods in other countries.  However, what most people should be thinking about is how workers are being treated around the globe.  We were lead to believe that NAFTA and opening up normal trade relations with China would help raise the standard of living around the world.  http://articles.cnn.com/2000-10-10/politics/clinton.pntr_1_wto-membership-china-global-trade-regime?_s=PM:ALLPOLITICS

What is really happening is a growing divide between the very wealthy and the rest of us.  We, the American people, the real laborers of our country, have not understood how we should all be banding together in solidarity.  We should be insisting on good and fair working conditions and benefits for everyone from the person that sweeps the floor in the factory to teachers, doctors, waitresses and anyone else that is an employee in this country.  Instead we sit back thinking only of ourselves and our particular circumstance.

Some look at teachers and think they deserve this.  Part of this is because this whole past year there has been systematic propaganda put out by the corporate media about how bad teachers are because the American student is so poorly educated.  We have heard the drumbeat from the president on down through Michele Rhea in Washington D.C. and the video, “Waiting for Superman.”  If you are to believe the corporate media, then you would have to think that your own child is getting a poor education.  I’m not saying that all students are getting a great education.  What I am saying is that the corporate run media has been pushing hard for the demise of the teacher’s unions for the past several years.  This should come as no surprise for anyone that can think back over the last few years and especially this past year.  The corporate run media wants people to think this group in Madison is just a bunch of cry baby teachers that don’t care about anything but their cushy jobs with summers off.  The corporate run Republicans have been taking our government from the federal level on down to the state level and privatizing anything they can get their hands on.  This is another area that we have been lead to believe is a better choice.  Private companies can do a better job than the government, or so we have been told.  This is just another way that politicians have been rewarding those companies that have been giving charitably to their campaign coffers.

Looking around the world this year there have been protests all over the globe. While the banks have been rewarded because they were too big to fail, the citizens of the world have been taken down a notch through the decimation of benefits, pensions, health care, and college education. I remember distinctly this video of students protesting in England and some of them shouting, “Off with their heads.” This video doesn’t play the sound but it did happen. This was in reference to Prince Phillip and his wife. Unions have been protesting around Europe as well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zptklj49AYs&feature=related

As a country we need to stop pitting the old with pensions against the young, the union employees against those non union workers, as well as government workers pitted against private employed workers.  The workers of the world need to unite in solidarity or they will continue to lose benefits and wages while the wealthy will continue to rake in the money, get all the tax breaks and the CEO of these big corporations will continue to receive unbelievable bonuses.  The truth is what is happening in Madison, Wisconsin is the destruction of bargaining.  If unions across this county cannot have true bargaining rights, you won’t have them either.  If they lose benefits, you will surely lose benefits as well.  If they have no strength, neither will you!

If you are my age or older you will remember the saying, “As the Dow Goes, so Goes the Country.”  Today as a worker and a teacher I can honestly say I believe as Madison goes, so goes the country.  If they lose, so will we!  There is a concerted effort by the Republican governors across this country to destroy union’s rights to collectively bargain.  Here is a piece from Ohio.  http://www.cleveland.com/open/index.ssf/2011/02/overhaul_of_states_collective.html

I want to play a video from last week that really explains what is going on in Madison.  It really is about busting the union and nothing else.  It’s a longer video but you should watch the whole thing and listen to John Nichols at the end when he talks about what is happening around the world.

Ed Schultz has done a great job of covering Madison this whole past week.  His show is on at 10:00 p.m.  Eastern time on MSNBC and he has been spending time there.  I found this video of Ed talking to the teachers just before his show the other night.  It really is good.  Ed understands what’s really going on.  It is as he says about what is morally right and fair.

As a teacher I want to add some information that most people don’t realize.  Young teachers here in Michigan have to take classes for the rest of their lives.  The cost of this comes out of their pockets.  I’m currently taking courses and it’s not cheap.  The teacher qualifications and licensing has changed drastically over the last twenty years.  Teachers used to get a life certificate.  I have a continuing certificate.  I don’t have to renew my certificate any more.  I’m taking my courses to reach a higher level of pay and expertise, not because I have to do so.  Younger teachers have to take courses in order to keep their license updated.  They also have to pay for renewing that license.  I’ve been taking courses throughout the school year, so I don’t have a lot of “free” time.  Many teachers take courses in the summer time as well.  Curriculum planning is also done in the summer time.  I think some people just don’t have a clue how much planning goes into creating a good classroom atmosphere and education for the children of our country.  I know what my commitment is as a teacher.  I give my all to my students.  I know other teachers that do the same.  We are dedicated professionals that care about the well being of our students.  We go out of our way to do our best to help students reach their full potential.  We even buy things to bring into our classrooms and donate for good causes that will likely benefit some of our students and their families.  We are not the enemy.  We, the American workers, should all stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Madison, Wisconsin.

I would also like to thank the brave Democratic state senators that have chosen to leave the state of Wisconsin so a quorum could not be met to pass this vote.  They are true heroes for the working people of America.  http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2011/02/19/wisconsin_protests_in_images

Additional food for thought:

Here in Michigan our Republican governor has proposed a budget that would mean a $470 funding cut for each and every child being educated in our K-12 public schools.  http://www.michiganpolicy.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1018:a-comprehensive-analysis-of-governer-snyders-budget-proposal-for-k-12-education&catid=75:k-12-education-blog&Itemid=132

I’m sure he’ll be looking to see what happens in Wisconsin.  We have already faced some changes in bargaining rights based on the Race to the Top program instituted by President Obama.  http://www.michiganpolicy.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=840:hb-6331-collective-bargaining-agreements-and-performance-based-initiatives&catid=35:k-12-education-policy-briefs&Itemid=117

By the way we haven’t won any “Race to the Top” money.

Here is a good op-ed piece from the Washington Post.  http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2011/02/scrooge-ism_in_wisconsins_unio.html

This is an interesting website to look at union membership across the nation.  The numbers here in Michigan and in Wisconsin have gone down.

http://www.bls.gov/ro3/mdunion.htm

This is good if you like to look at statistics from the Census Bureau.

http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/

This blogger has written about wage stagnation and how we have coped.  This is interesting.

http://bonddad.blogspot.com/2010/05/wage-stagnation-biggest-threat-to.html

Also if you think this isn’t going on around the world, just look at these pieces and think.

http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/295564

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/13/civilian-protests-around-_n_808306.html#s223153&title=Tunisia_

War, what is it good for?

  • Posted on January 22, 2011 at 1:01 am

So, I’m looking around on the internet just reading tonight and I noticed Keith Olberman is out. I don’t really care about Keith, so I read on and look for news on the wars.  I never hear much any more about either war, even though there is constant turmoil in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  It all seems pretty much null and void in the minds of the American people.  I sometimes wonder if I am the only person that thinks spending all of this money to blow up a couple of countries is insane!  I came across this site which seems interesting.   http://armscontrolcenter.org/

According to this site, here is the defense budget for 2011 and it does match up with what I have found on the Whitehouse budget website as well.

Fiscal Year 2011 Budget Overview

For Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, which begins on October 1, 2010, the Obama

Administration has requested a base budget of $548.9 billion for the Department of

Defense (DoD). This is $18 billion, or 3.4 percent, above the appropriated Fiscal Year

2010 base budget of $531 billion.

In addition, the Administration has requested $159.3 billion for “Overseas

Contingency Operations,” to fight the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

This brings the Fiscal Year 2011 defense budget request to a total of $708.3

billion.

What I am noticing is that high cost for the two wars.  I looked up the population of Iraq which is around 31.5 million.  California has a population of around 37 million.  What I am getting at is this:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget

Check out the federal budgeted money for California or any state for that matter.  I think there is something wrong with this picture.  That money spent on the wars could really be helpful back over here in our own country.  Of course the conservative Republicans have other ideas.  Here is where you can check out their proposal to reduce spending.  http://rsc.jordan.house.gov/Solutions/SRA.htm

On the two page summary, I noticed many interesting cuts to everything from the arts and humanities to the repeal of the Davis Bacon Act which requires the government to pay the local prevailing wage.  I wonder what’s up with that, less money for the common man, just trying to make a living of course.

The other day I was listening to the Ed Schultz radio show for a few minutes on my way home from school.   Some one was sitting in for Ed.  A guy called in who really cracked me up.  He was on a rant about Senator John McCain and he said McCain has been taken care of by the government is whole life.  This man couldn’t believe McCain’s stance on health care since McCain has essentially been taken care of with government health care his whole life.  I had to laugh because it was essentially true, except for the stint he had when he was a POW.  The politicians in office just don’t get it.  They have everything at their finger tips like money, power, health insurance, great pensions and they just cannot see what has happened to the common worker in America.

The American people need to pull their head out of the sand and figure out what is really going on.

Big business and government combined is a lethal combination for the American worker.  Labor unions have been destroyed over the last forty years.  One of the last of the unions still standing are the teachers unions.  They are the next to go.  This is the way the American people are being programmed right now.  There is a constant drumbeat against the teachers and their unions.  We are being told how poor our education system is and it is the fault of the TEACHERS!  Tenure is a dirty word.  We are being programmed that it is the problem and it must go!  I’m only throwing this out there because as a teacher, I can feel the target on my back and I can see what is going on.  We, the people, are being programmed once again that business is good, privatization is good, and labor unions are bad, bad, bad!

All across the country we have business people getting into government.  Here in Michigan we have our new governor, Rick Snyder, a business guy.  I listened to his state of the state address and he was very short on anything specific in terms of cuts and spending for the most part.  The big thing he talked about was building a bridge to Canada.  Here is a transcript from his address.  http://www.freep.com/article/20110120/NEWS15/110120009/1001/NEWS/Transcript-Read-and-watch-the-State-of-the-State

It had a lot of “fluff” but not much substance.  I expect in April when he gives the next speech he mentioned, we will hear more specifics.  I don’t think his address was much different than most others.  I just would like to know what his plans are for the budget.  He wants to change the small business tax but he doesn’t say how he’s going to pay for these changes.  Some in K-12 education are worried that he is going to take from that budget to give to the public colleges.  I don’t know what is going to happen, but I think it will mean more pain in education whatever is decided.  This year I had to pay 3% more into my retirement with no additional benefit.  Next year it could be more.  We don’t have a contract and we are probably not much different than most schools in the state that are wondering what the budget is going to be.

The other day I was applying for a bus grant to take some of my art students up to the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and I asked the school secretary what portion of our students was on free and/or reduced lunches.  Our school was around 61% but she said one of the elementary schools is somewhere around 90%.  These are scary numbers.  We need jobs for American workers.  I feel like I’m on a wheel that just keeps going round and round.  War, what is it good for?  What is it really doing for the American people?  We know what it is doing for some corporations.   http://www.presstv.ir/usdetail/160995.html

You must listen to this video because it is so interesting.  The wars will continual until they are financially unsustainable because it is in the best interest of corporations.  War, what is it good for?

My Nightmare

  • Posted on July 27, 2010 at 10:05 am

I keep having a reoccurring thought about the up and coming governor’s election.  It truly is my nightmare scenario.  I’ll get to that in a minute.  First of all, you must know that I think Speaker Andy Dillon and Attorney General Mike Cox were separated at birth.  I think they look alike, talk alike, and even though one is supposed to be a Democrat, they both are essentially Republicans.  So, in my mind, someone must have been adopted out or something as there is no way they can be so much alike and not be related.  My mind knows they aren’t each other’s doppelganger but my heart tells me they could be.  So my nightmare scenario is that both of them will win their respective primaries and the state of Michigan will end up with no real choice for a governor!  Egad, can’t people see what I see?

If these are my choices in the November election, I don’t know what I will do!  I have always voted.  Do I leave the top of the ticket blank?  Are there any third candidates I can vote for?  I can’t possibly vote for Andy Dillon.  He’s costing me a special “tax” of 3% more money that I must pay into my retirement.  I’d like to smack him every time I get an email from him telling how he stuck it to me.  Okay, he doesn’t put it quite that way but he wants everyone else to know how he’s going to get every piece of meat off me he can because I’m a public school TEACHER!  Oops, I said a dirty word!  I don’t know when the legislative body decided to set teachers in their gun sites but I know I’m a prime target.  When I was a kid, everyone loved teachers. Today I feel like there’s a target on my back, so I’m getting worried about the primary that’s coming up.  I’ve decided that I will beg every person I know to vote for Virg Bernero.  So, here I am asking for your vote for Virg.  No, really begging for your vote for Virg!

Virg Bernero is married to a teacher so he has to at least “get” teachers and understand how important education is.  I saw him at the MEA rally in June and I like the fact that he’s out there trying to “fight” for change.  Andy Dillon tries to paint Virg Bernero as an “angry” man.  I say, “Who isn’t angry in Michigan and if you aren’t angry, why aren’t you?”  I want someone willing to fight for our state and try to get it back on track.  I don’t want someone I can’t trust to do the right thing and.  Andy lost my trust when he picked my pocket and asked me how I liked it.  He scares me with his forced smile and smarmy hair and I really find it hard to understand why he thinks it’s productive to shut down government instead of working to fix the budget!  I also can’t get beyond the fact that he wants to tinker with my health care and isn’t really focusing on the real issues.

The issues of course are JOBS!  If we can get jobs back in Michigan, it will solve many of our problems.  I would like you to check out Virg at his website.  http://www.votevirg.com/

If you aren’t sure who you want to vote for, please humor me and choose Virg.  If you are voting in the Democratic primary he really is the only Democrat running.  It will make me happy and isn’t that just what you would like to do…make me happy?  Just think about it.  I wouldn’t have to live my nightmare scenario.  I would be hopeful for Michigan’s future.  It would keep hope alive and I wouldn’t have to spend the next two months in turmoil over the November election.  My primary vote was stolen once in the 2008 primary.  I think I at least deserve to have this vote counted for the person I choose and maybe some of your votes as well!  Come on make my day and vote for Virg Bernero!

Wealthy Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country!

  • Posted on July 21, 2010 at 5:43 pm

What are you willing to do for your country?  We have been asked repeatedly to step up for our country.  During WWII people had to step up by going to war in a foreign land, women had to take on more manual labor, people were encouraged to buy bonds and restrictions were made on the consumption of goods.  My parents had many children.  To get shoes for their children, they would trade gas rationings with my aunt so they could buy shoes.  Today with so many people living as “expatriates”, I wonder what people are willing to do for their country.  The poor always give.  Often times they give because they see no other alternative.  This is why many join the military.  The economy is poor and they are struggling to find work.  However, we have a war economy, so they join some branch of the military.  It might not be their first choice but they may see it as their only alternative when the economy is poor and they are not wealthy.  As you read my take on things, please think about what you are willing to do for your country.

I have two political groups that are nipping at my heels trying to get me to contact my senators for their causes.  Both of these causes are worthy:  One is to save education jobs and Pell grants and the other is for the passage of a clean energy bill.  Both of these causes and their supporters are feeling the crunch because Congress will go into recess in August.  Now as a teacher I have the summer off but I always find it interesting that although Congress just had a big July 4th break they are now going to take all of August off.  For the pay they receive, I find this amazing.  I don’t think the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have that option.  Nor do most of the other government employees that work for all of our states.  If every government worker took August off, a lot wouldn’t get done.  However, senators and congress people are a completely different breed.  While they expect everyone and his brother to change with the times, they remain stuck in some centuries old concept that was based on “beating the heat”.  Is there any wonder that not much really gets done for the people in modern congressional sessions?

So it looks like Harry Reid is waiting until the last possible minute to bring up the climate bill.  http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0710/39677.html I don’t presume to understand the politics behind this but it seems to me that it will be brought up and voted down as there won’t be enough time to discuss it before the August recess.  On the other hand, if they get it done just before the recess they can talk about it in their campaign speeches.  It’s just so sad that these votes are so political and not handled in the best interest of our nation.  Whether it is voted up or down after the November election who knows who will control congress and what excuses they will give then for being a “do nothing” congress.  Thomas Friedman has an interesting take on the energy bill and it’s worth a read.  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/21/opinion/21friedman.html?src=mv

The American Federation of Teachers is contacting the public to try in get some assistance on saving teachers jobs and Pell grant money.  I received this link.  http://action.aft.org/c/44/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=382

Unfortunately, I don’t know what the bill is.  I know that Senator Harkin had this bill in April and it seems to have gone no where.  http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s111-3206

Teachers are being cut all over the country.  I think these types of bills are temporary fixes to the problem.  Both of these issues, energy and teacher jobs,  would have better chances of passing  or in the case of the teacher problem being corrected, if three distinct things happened in my opinion.  If we withdrew our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, I think that would free up a considerable amount of money that has been pouring out of our country.  We should also let the Bush tax cuts for those making $250,000 or more run out.  I’m tired of the politicians that claim these wealthy people will hire less people if this happens.  It’s quite apparent that since these tax cuts were voted in there has been a constant bleeding of American jobs.  The truth is any politician that tries to convince anyone with a brain that those tax cuts some how “trickle down” to the American people should be voted out of office.  Finally, the social security cap should be lifted on people making over $250,000.

I am a pragmatist but I have always felt that we have to do everything that we can for the best interest of our country.  The poor have always given to their country with the sweat of their brow in labor and even their lives in war.  It is only patriotic to ask those that have so much to give a little more to help our country when times are tough.  The toil of the poor and their labor built this country.  The poor have always been asked to step up during challenging times.  We now need to ask the wealthy to do their part.  We know they are unlikely to give their children for war or even labor for that matter.  They can give their money to help fuel our economy so that all can prosper in this great country.  I challenge the people making over $250,000 to ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.

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