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Archive for the tag “current-events”

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.





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.



Teachers and Unions

This will be quick.

As some of you know, the teachers in Chicago’s public school system are out on strike.

This was thought to be impossible.  The Illinois State Legislature had passed a law ,at the urging of Chicago’s current Mayor, requiring a 3/4 majority vote before a union could call a strike.

Problem is, the teachers are so upset 90% of them voted to go out on strike.

So, here we are.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am 100% in  favor of unions.  I spent a few years as a union steward.  I don’t believe that management would willingly treat employees fairly without some sort of union pressure.  That is how they came to be.

Over the years, since Pres. Reagan fired the air traffic controllers,  it has been tough for unions.  And workers have suffered as a result.

Businesses started moving their operations out of the country, paying workers there  pennies compared to what they had to pay workers here.

Wages drop. People have to work more than one job or both spouses have to work in order to get by. Or both spouses have to work two jobs.  It can be a damn hard life.

The narrative I have seen suggests that union members should make less to bring them in line with others.

You will notice when this sort of logic is applied to the top one percent, they scream “class warfare”.

Make them pay their fair share in taxes and the rich have fits.

So, applying their own logic to the rest of us, we should be working to get wages up to the union standard.  A rising tide lifts all boats.

The problem with dealing with the teachers union is you can’t outsource them.  You have to find a way to break them or scare them into concessions.  These are CHICAGO teachers, my friends.  They don’t scare. I also read today the janitors union is going to join the strike.

My advice to the Mayor of Chicago is do what you can to make the teachers happy.  They work in a town where kids are shot and killed on a weekly basis.  That kind of threat of violence has to find its way into the schools. A child’s attention is tough enough to get without them having to worry about the walk home.

In addition the cost of living in a big city is never mentioned when wages are talked about.  Rent or home ownership is way more expensive in a big city such as Chicago of New York as compared to a small town in, say, Iowa, for example.

Education is always the first budget cut.  ALWAYS.  If you want a better world, you have got to  give kids the best education possible.  And you have to pay for it.  I have voted in favor of referendums that wanted to raise property taxes for the schools. Even with my own kids in college, I will still willingly support any move to fund the schools at a level that will be fair for all.

Stop teaching to the test.

Keep the arts education along with readin’, writin’ and ‘rithmatic.

Stop trying to unload the most senior teachers with “evaluations”.

And parents need to be involved.  Volunteer. Keep an eye on the homework.  Send e-mails to the teachers.  Even if everything is going well.  Let them know how much you appreciate their efforts.

Our kids and  teachers deserve our best.



I Still Believe In A Place Called Hope

I was going to wait until after tomorrow night and write a recap of the Democratic National Convention.

My plans changed after hearing former Pres. Clinton give his speech.

Let’s travel back in time for a little while.

In 1992, after eight years of Reagan and four years of Bush the Elder, there seemed to be an opportunity for a Democrat to be elected President. Not a great opportunity, but if things fell right, it was possible.

As a lifelong Democrat, I was more than ready for that to happen.

Along comes Bill Clinton.  He had been Governor of Arkansas.  He survived a tough primary battle and there always seemed to be some sort of controversy following him around. But he was our nominee.

At the convention, he gave a tremendous speech which ended with the line I am using for the title of this post.  It was a long speech. He had given a speech in 1988 at the last convention that lasted so long, he was invited on the Tonight Show to explain himself.

During the fall campaign, he faced not just the incumbent, there was a little feisty millionaire named Ross Perot.

There is a documentary about that campaign called The War Room. Told from inside the Clinton election headquarters.  Very interesting stuff.

On Election Day, after a very hostile campaign, the country had a new president.

President Bill Clinton.

He brought to the White House a very astute political mind and a ton of baggage. He was called slick.  A womanizer. His enemies followed him from Arkansas.  He also picked up more when he got to D.C.  The Republicans really hated him for ending their run in the White House.

Investigations took up a lot of Congress’ time over his first term.  Most amounted to nothing.

Meanwhile, he was able to get the Family Medical Leave Act through Congress. That allowed people to get unpaid leave in the event of a family medical emergency.  I think it was one of the biggest accomplishments of his time in office.

Brokering a lasting peace in Ireland was another great moment for his administration.

In 1996, he faced a re-election battle against Sen. Bob Dole.  He won the battle, but the investigations continued.  Eventually, he got himself in trouble because of an inexcusable affair with an intern. Impeachment proceedings commenced.  He was impeached by the House and went on to face trial in the Senate.  That was where it ended.  The Senate decided not to kick him out of office and he was able to serve out his term.

His Vice-President, Al Gore ran for President against George W. Bush, a Governor from Texas.  I don’t feel like writing about that mess, so let us skip ahead.

He went on to be an ex-President.  Wrote a book. Started a foundation.  Gave speeches. Made some serious money giving speeches. Helped his wife become Senator from New York.

Eventually, his wife ran for President in the Democratic Primaries in 2008 against Sen. Obama.

Bill gave speeches all over the country during the long battle for the nomination.

I saw him in Fort Wayne.  He filled the auditorium and was even more remarkable in person as a speaker.  No teleprompter just a few notes.  He had a wonderful way of explaining why you should vote for his wife using a mix of humor and passion.

I imagine he knew how much he owed her considering all they had been through in their life together.

She lost that battle by a narrower margin than people remember.

Her opponent in that fight went on to be President, winning by 8.5 million votes over Sen. John McCain.

The Republicans didn’t and don’t like this turn of events.  They have been doing everything they can do to make this term a failure. You could argue different if you like, but this is how I see it.

Last week, I gave my opinion of the RNC.  So, I won’t go over that again here.  Take a look at it if you haven’t.

The DNC started with a long series of speeches capped off by Michelle Obama giving her husband a boost with a speech even Republicans liked.

The second night ended with former President Bill Clinton giving a prime time speech.

And what a speech it was.  Scheduled to last 28 minutes, it went 48.  Reporters who had the transcript of the speech were left scrambling because he went off script as he saw fit.  It was a flawless performance.  With the rhythms of a Southern preacher, he explained the situation the country was in, how it got there, and how President Obama was the only person who could keep things going in the right direction.  It was full of numbers and facts and specifics.  It was the kind of speech a man who is no longer running for anything can give.

From A Mess To The Masses has the speech up on her site.  You can click on the link in the blogroll and find it.  She titled it The Master At Work.

It is a long way from now until the election.  There will be a lot of money spent trying to run off our current President.  It is a little deflating at times to watch how money seems to overrun the process.

After former President Clinton’s speech, I am allowing myself a little of the optimism that I have always had about voting.  I refuse to believe a 8.5 million vote margin can be turned around into defeat no matter how much money is spent.  Or how many restrictions are put on voters and their ability  to register.

As the man himself said twenty years ago, I still believe in a place called Hope.



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