Bellbottom Blog

Scratching A Writing Itch From Time To Time

Archive for the month “October, 2012”

Liberal And Proud Of It

I have been wrestling with whether or not to write another political post.

The main concern I had was, could I write one without swearing a blue streak?

The closer we get to Election Day, the worse it gets for me. I have been sweating out election results since 1974.

That was my senior year of high school. I graduated in June and volunteered to work at the local Democratic Headquarters.

(Ah, youth, how I miss it.)

I was working for a savings and loan as a teller during the day and after work off to the Headquarters I would go. During that summer, President Nixon resigned just one step ahead of the posse.  His level of dishonesty and treachery has rarely been seen before or since.  His people, most of whom just happened to be on the government payroll, racked up some serious prison time before all the dust settled.

On Election Day 1974, Democrats in my Republican county swept almost all the offices with the exception of the sheriff’s race. I was a runner at headquarters that fine day, taking results from the phone bank down two flights of steps to the County Chairman’s offices. It was exhilarating, tiring, and unforgettable.

That election season sealed it for me.  I have been a Democrat ever since.

It hasn’t been easy.

Going through the dark times of the Reagan-Bush years.

Finally watching Bill Clinton break the GOP hold on the White House.

Then 2000.   ( I still can’t talk about it.)

Eight more years of GOP occupation of the Oval Office.

Than, in 2008, after far too long, I had the opportunity to vote for Barack Obama.

The guy I voted for won by 8.5 million votes over his opponent.

As they say on Duck Dynasty, I was, “Happy, Happy, Happy.”

The Republicans were not “Happy,Happy,Happy.”

From the start, they have done all they can to obstruct, delay, and lie .

The only thing they wanted was for this President to lose his re-election bid.

They thought the Tea Party would help them in this quest. And in 2010, Tea Party types won a lot of seats in Congress.  Republicans started feeling good about 2012.  So good, in fact, 30 or 40 of them decided to run in the Republican primaries.  Then came the GOP debates.  I called it Clown Car 2012 on Twitter. After every debate, there was a new front runner until the one with the most money won out.  He was a slippery sort.  Widely despised in his own party for his inability to tell a straight story.

Meanwhile the Tea Party types are running for re-election or have decided to run for higher office trying to take the jump from the House to the Senate.

What they are finding out is running for office doesn’t get easier the more you do it. Now you have a record of sorts to defend. More attention is paid to your every word.

But with all the issues that are being argued, my concern rests with the effect of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling.  That decision allowed billionaires the opportunity to donate huge amounts of money to any candidate.

One in particular donated $10 Million to Newt Gingrich  in the primaries. When Newt went belly up, the money man went with Mitt Romney.  The amount of money he has spent is approaching $80 million with a few days to go.

I have said the Romney campaign doesn’t care much for the truth.

Let’s just take one of the Governor lies apart, shall we?

Mr. Romney says he worked with a Democratic statehouse to get things done in Massachusetts.  If you look at the record. Mr. Romney issued around 900 vetoes in 4 years.  Over 800 of those were overturned.  Hardly the cooperative spirit he would want you to believe.

You have to wonder what kind of people would lie with the unrelenting audacity that Mr. Romney and his followers .  They are sure that if they muddy the water right up to the end, the money they have accumulated will put them over the top.

If that were to happen, and I don’t think it will, it would be a sad day for our republic.

I remember what things were like when the President took over.  Since he came into office, the Dow and the Nasdaq are up by 100% ( I got that info from Fox so you know it is true).

We are out of Iraq.  Hopefully, we are getting out of Afghanistan.  Bin Laden, the person behind the 9/11 attacks, is dead.

The auto industry is back from near extinction.

My 20 year old son, who is working full-time to pay his way through college, is covered by our health insurance thanks to Obamacare.

You may be wondering about the title of this post. I took a quiz the other day. It determines where you fall on the conservative-liberal scale.  I wound up in the 14% bracket “very liberal”.  I was called a socialist by someone who doesn’t understand the meaning of the word.

I believe in unions.  I don’t think corporations will treat their employees fairly without someone watching them.

I think healthcare should be available for all.  The answer Republicans have for that is emergency rooms will take anyone.  We all know how important regular doctor visits can be.  Early detection can prevent an illness from getting to the point that emergency room help becomes necessary.

As we have seen with Hurricane Sandy, a national response should be run by the federal government if the problem gets too overwhelming for the local area.  I can’t imagine how the subways are going to be brought back to full working order without federal help. The Republican Governor of New Jersey has made no secret of his willingness to ask Washington for help with his state and their problems.  It was the National Weather Service that tracked this storm.  In fact, the Service has done a great job of tracking dangerous weather over the years.  You want to trust a private firm with that?

I think a country that takes care of the less fortunate is the type of country we should be.

Not everyone can be the CEO of a big company.

There is honor in working as a janitor, assembly-line worker, security guard, checkout clerk and they should have an opportunity to make a living wage.

What fuels the economy is when the middle-class has disposable income.

The rich should pay their fair share in taxes.

I believe there should be limits on campaign contributions.  I don’t believe money and free speech are the same thing.  Everyone has the right to vote but not everyone can be rich, so the vote is the equalizer.  It is what keeps me and the guy down the street on an equal footing when it comes to elections.

Anyway, if you haven’t voted yet, make sure you do.

Tell them a liberal sent you.





Rules? There’s No Rules In A Knife Fight

As the V.P. debate was starting I thought of a movie scene that I love.

It is from Butch Cassady and the Sundance Kid.

Early in the film, Butch and Sundance come back to their hideout at Hole-In-The-Wall.

They find that Butch’s role as leader of the gang is being challenged by Harvey.  Harvey is a huge man and after a bit of negotiating, they decide on a knife fight to figure out who will be in charge.

Butch, as he approaches Harvey:  “Now before we get started, let’s get the rules straight.”

Harvey: “Rules? There’s no rules in a knife fight!”

Butch, hauls off and kicks Harvey square in the groin. Harvey doubles over in excruciating pain

Butch: “No rules?. Okay. somebody say 1,2,3 go!”

Sundance: “1,2,3, GO!”

Butch puts both hands together and knocks Harvey flat.

Well, boys and girls, tonight Joe Biden showed just how you handle a guy who isn’t all that familiar with the truth and the bright lights of the national stage.

You let him know right from the start that this isn’t releasing a position paper in front of a friendly crowd.  Or talking to people who have paid $5000 a plate to be there.

You call bullshit right from the start, although you call it malarkey.

You never let him breathe.

You watch him, in a great tell, constantly sip from a cup of water.  Always a sign of nerves.  The younger guy falling apart on the big stage.

You have a moderator who stays awake and focused.  Shoutout to Martha Raddatz.  Well done!

The young guy gets all tangled up in his word salad answers.  Nobody there to bail him out.  His staff looking on anxiously, wondering why the damn clock seems to be moving so slow.

Veteran of the Senate that he is, V.P. Biden constantly uses the words “my friend”.  In the Senate, they have a code of decorum that insists on using polite language when debating no matter how hot the debate gets.

Mr. Ryan works in the House whenever they are in session.  His party is in charge so they don’t have to pretend to be civil.  My way or the highway is their theme. I bet that is fun for them, but it served Mr. Ryan poorly this night. ( I would call him Congressman but his staff insisted on Mr. Ryan for the debate) I understand. The less they remind people he is a congressman the better it is for him.  With that 13% congressional approval rating and all.

Mr. Ryan is what passes for smart in D.C. these days.  He reads books. That was how one person on Twitter defended him.

I wrote the above last night.  This morning, I listened to a variety of morning shows.

A lot of focus was on Biden’s demeanor. That is when you know who won.  If you can’t attack the substance, find something shiny to pick on.

I stand by everything I said.

Mr. Ryan just wasn’t ready for the bright lights.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Few are.

Nice work, Mr. Vice-President.


I Got Chunks Of Guys Like You In My Stool

Last night, I came up with just what I wanted Joe Biden to say in his debate with Paul Ryan tonight.

The line comes from an old Saturday Night Live sketch based on the McLaughlin Group. The Group has been around forever.  They start a topic and then yell at each other until the moderator changes the subject.

On SNL, they called it The Sinatra Group.  The late, great Phil Hartman played Frank Sinatra as a tough, old school guy who took no crap from anyone. Mike Myers, Victoria Jackson, Chris Rock, Jan Hooks and that weeks guest host Sting were also in the sketch.

Sting, playing Billy Idol, had just called Sinatra a “bloody old fart”.

That is when Phil Hartman delivers the line you see as the title of this post.  He bites off every word. “I got CHUNKS of guys like you in my STOOL!”  Hartman later said he almost broke up because of the absurdity of the line.

For the record, I have the utmost respect for Mr. Sinatra and I don’t think that was meant to be an accurate depiction of him.

What does this have to do with the debate tonight, you ask?

I think the Vice-President needs to smack down Mr. Ryan every time he lies.  Which will be often.

I predict that somewhere along the way Ryan will look at the camera, and in his lamest attempt to look sincere, he will accuse Biden of being too negative.  Biden will suggest Ryan should stop lying. Ryan will say something a little sharper.  Biden will calmly knock him back.  Ryan will get angry and escalate the rhetoric. Finally, Biden will wheel on him and give him a tongue-lashing. I hope he makes Ryan cry.

But my real desire is for Biden to use that line.

Twitter would explode.

Chris Matthews  would explode.

With any luck, Fox News would explode.

In other news, check out Dana Milbank’s latest writing on the House hearings yesterday.  He writes for the Washington Post and he has an under-reported angle on the killing of Chris Stephens and the three other men.  Turns out there may have been a C.I.A. outpost at the compound that was attacked.that sheds some light on the confusing explanations about the attack and the aftermath.

During the hearing yesterday, the committee may have inadvertently spilled the beans in their haste to gain political points against the administration.

If it was an outpost for the C.I.A., the committee just put a lot of other places and people in danger. I hope that doesn’t happen but if it does it is on Mr. Issa and Mr. Chaffetz.







Debate Fallout

I was going to let this one lay, but Amy from Lucy’s Football asked me to write something.

We here at the Bellbottom Blog always accept and encourage requests so let’s try this.

I didn’t watch the actual debate which puts me in the same boat as Jim Lehrer who was allegedly the moderator.

Mr. Lehrer has a well earned reputation as a solid newsman.  Problem is age seems to have caught up with him.  From the highlights I saw, he wasn’t able to keep the debaters in line with the rules they agreed to.  This is not a small detail.  Weeks of negotiations go into the format for debates.  Both sides agree to who will moderate, the height of podiums, sitting or standing, background colors, you name it.

I followed the whole thing on Twitter.  I much prefer this format.  Most of the people I follow are of the same general political persuasion that I am.  A few right wingers are in there, but as long as they behave themselves it is fine with me.

The debate was going along with out much drama until Mr. Romney used the timeworn rightwing promise to defund PBS.  The moderator just happens to work there, but as we all know Mitt has no problem firing people.  The Twitterites went absolutely nuts when they realized Big Bird and Sesame Street were on the chopping block. Parody accounts sprang up. FiredBigBird was the first one. The hashtag #OccupySesameStreet appeared.

But as the debate moved on, the mood turned somber.

Here is the dilemma the left has with politics.  They get genuinely upset when their guy isn’t going well.  They can’t hide their disappointment.

The right will follow their guy off of a cliff no questions asked.

So as the night wore on, people got more and more upset.

Look, in the runup to the event all the pundits said the challenger usually wins the first debate.

That is what happened here apparently   It does not mean the election is over.  Far from it.  The polls will be out tomorrow or sometime over the weekend and we will see how things might have changed.  My prediction is they won’t change much.  Most folks have already made their minds up.

The deal with Mitt that had so many of his own party hate him for years is the fact that he will say anything that he thinks his current audience wants to hear. No matter what he has said in the past.  During the Republican debates, his fellow competitors complained about this tendency loud and long.

When the President tried to point that out during the debate, Mitt would just deny he had ever said anything different.

The Monty Python television show had a sketch about arguments.

The man walks into a series of rooms looking for someone to have an argument with.

One of the rooms had a man who reminds me of Mitt.

The whole discussion falls into a battle of “No, you didn’t”. “Yes, you did.”  Until the man gets fed up and leaves.

It is a funny sketch but to have a debate with a man like that in real life you run the risk of letting your anger and frustration show. Then you get accused of not being presidential.

I think the president took the proper path.  Just get through it and move on with the campaign.

So, to my friends on the left, calm down.  Just because the pundits are pulling their hair out doesn’t mean you have to. The President is the same guy he was before and the Governor is the same guy he was. That should be get four more years.

To my friends on the right, enjoy the moment. You know your guy is capable of self-destructing any minute now.

No matter how you feel though, you need to make sure you are registered to vote.  And if you are going to be working on Election Day, get an absentee ballot.  It is easy to do.  You don’t need special I.D.  You can vote from home.

I know it looked like a clown car most of this year especially with the 23 Republican Debates, but you have to vote.


P.S. While I was writing this someone retweeted a Dennis Miller quote into my timeline.  He hasn’t been funny in 25 years. I don’t unfollow too many people but this will get you dropped faster than a lame, obscure reference in a Dennis Miller appearance on O’Reilly.



In Other News

While the debates are going on, I thought it would be a good time to bring the blog up to date.

I haven’t written anything for a while because my wife recently had shoulder surgery and I have been on full-time nursing duty.

Tomorrow will be three weeks since she had the operation.   I am happy to report that the patient is recovering well.

Going into it, we didn’t ask too many questions about the procedure.  The doctor smoothly assured us it would be a couple of small holes and the bad stuff would be removed.

Sounds simple.

While the nurse was prepping my wife for surgery, we asked about pain medication for afterward. She wanted something mild.  The nurse looked at her and said, ” Oh no. You want the good stuff. Except for back surgery, nothing is more painful than shoulder surgery.”

Nice time to find that out.

They sent us home with a prescription for very strong pain pills and an ice machine.

You fill this thing that looks like a regular cooler with ice and water.  It is connected to a cooling pad that fits on the shoulder. When it gets plugged in, a cold stream of ice water flows through the pad.  The trick is you have to refill it every couple of hours. That first night, I set the alarm to go off every two hours for ice and pain meds.

Well, we survived the night and fortunately the pain became manageable after that.  We found out that the recovery time for this will be several weeks.  Which stinks.  But it does give us time together that we haven’t had. I don’t recommend surgery as a way to find more family time. Just saying it has been a nice side effect.

Well, the debate is wrapping up and I am allowed to rejoin my wife.  (She says I have a habit of talking to the tv and she finds it distracting.) Also, I am a Democrat and she is a Republican.  But I am sure the talking thing is the big problem.

Until next time, you kids be nice to each other.


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