Attitude Reflects Leadership- Moving Forward

Attitude Reflects Leadership

 

The election is over, the results are in and the people have spoken. President Obama won the electoral vote by a distinct margin as well as the popular vote- although, admittedly by a lesser margin. The people also made their voices heard in several key Senate races, rejecting the misogynistic, xenophobic attitudes of the Todd Akins and Joe Walsh’s of the world. Despite an unprecedented amount of money and effort spent to sway some voters while suppressing others, African-Americans, Latinos, women and young people came out in record numbers. Despite any complaining or rationalizations to the contrary, this election was a mandate that reflected not only a changing electorate but also changing attitudes. To underline the changing attitudes argument, one only needs to look at wins on progressive/liberal ballot initiatives in some states.

So, despite laws passed over the past two years to limit, suppress or otherwise restrict the ability to utilize the most effective and crucial part of our citizenship, people showed up.  Those who would have been most affected by that disenfranchisement came out to stand in incredibly long lines to exercise their ultimate civic duty and right. This is what democracy looks like.

While the President won re-election and the Senate retained its majority (adding more female members than ever before) the House of Representatives stayed essentially the same. Ironically, in the face of these results, the Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell stated that the election was “not a mandate” but rather a time extension for the President to fulfill what he had previously promised to do. In a slightly more conciliatory tone, Speaker of the House, John Boehner stated that it was up to the President to “lead”. Pardon me, Mr. Speaker, but isn’t it your job to lead too? For the last two years, this President has faced an obstructionist Congress, who- in the words of Sen. Mitch McConnell- saw it as their main objective to make President Obama a one term President. Under the leadership of you, Speaker Boehner and Eric Cantor, the House of Representatives did everything in their power to fulfill this desire. Despite your best (or should I say worst) efforts, this did not come to pass. Therefore, it is time for Senator McConnell to realize that he is the Senate Minority Leader and that his desires and wishes are not the sole focus of the United States Senate- nor should they be. It is also time for you, Speaker Boehner to actually take a real leadership position and recognize that the process of governing is one of discussion, compromise and the ultimate objective of finding the best path to fulfill the needs and desires of all your constituents. That’s right, the needs and desires of your constituents- not a radical fringe element of your party, nor well- heeled special interest groups, but the collective good of the American people.

In order to address these needs, needs that have been ignored for the sake of political expediency, and to pursue a goal that was in complete contradiction with their sworn oath, this Congress needs to accept the will of the people and start now to do the work they were elected to do. If they want to show the American people they are serious men and women deserving of the offices they hold, they will use this lame duck session in Congress ( for some, their last) to get some real work done. To begin with:

  • Let’s work together to avoid that “fiscal cliff”. The need for cuts AND revenue was easily grasped by the nine year old daughter of a UniteWomen-Virginia member, so it really shouldn’t be that hard for members of Congress to see the logic in shared responsibility. Before you start retorting with remarks about penalizing “job creators” and crying “class warfare” , the Bush tax cuts haven’t created too many jobs ( not in this country, at any rate) and that class warfare line only works when those with money and power use undue influence to disenfranchise those with little of either. Not to mention, the county was spinning along pretty well from a fiscal standpoint when those with a lot more were paying a little more.
  • Pass the Senate version (S1925) of the Violence Against Women Act. It has been over a year since the VAWA expired and while S1925 passed with a bi-partisan super-majority (68) in the Senate, the House has refused to bring it to the floor for a vote. Instead, they cling to their House version of the bill (one which excludes Native Americans, LGBT and those of immigrant status) which they passed only narrowly (222- 205) and split hairs over the definition of rape. This measure was first adopted in 1994 and has been reauthorized with bi-partisan cooperation every time until this last time. Isn’t it time to move past questions of “legitimate rape” and agree that protection under the law should be afforded to everyone within our borders?
  • For a party that seems to constantly harp on the unemployment numbers in this country you would think the GOP would have been more supportive of President Obama’s American Jobs Act, but that hasn’t been the case. This initiative would give tax credits to small business, help improve the nation’s infrastructure and provide jobs for returning veterans as well as many others. The American Jobs Act can only benefit this country and address a variety of problems at the same time.

 

 

This is by no means a complete list, but it is a start- a long overdue start. So, for those of you on your way out, think about the giving these last days in Congress your full measure of civic devotion. . That does not mean devotion to your party, or a big campaign contributor, but to the people who filled in that slot next to your name on a ballot with the assurance you would do your best to make their life better. For those who are returning, you have a larger issue to consider. Not only must you consider your obligation to your constituents-not just the ones who voted for you, but all of them- you must also consider your own future.

This election was both an affirmation and a rejection. An affirmation in the course the President has set this country on and a rejection of tired old attitudes of division, exclusion and fear. Speaker Boehner, it is time to take a true leadership role in the House and not just pay lip service to the notion of  “working together”.

Finally, let’s all accept the writing on the wall. The post election spin from the right has laid blame or given credit to almost everyone and everything but the  GOP endorsed platform. Before election night was officially over, blame started to shift to the messenger (their nominated candidate). Yes, Mitt Romney does share responsibility for his ever-shifting, unclear status on key positions, or his vague tax plan, but that was hardly news to anyone paying attention. It was the overall message of entitlements only being deserved by the rich, that welfare was only good for corporation, or that government should be almost non-existent unless a woman wanted to control her own body or defining what marriage was and who could avail themselves to it.

Personal freedoms should belong to everyone, not just the privileged few, and that government does have a role in our lives, was the underlying message in the outcome of this election. It is time to accept that and begin to work on creating a more perfect union.

Brenda Seward

Virginia State Director- UniteWomen.org

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Style Over Substance

The Danger of Favoring Style Over Substance ~

In the wake of the first of three Presidential debates, I think it’s important for us to examine a few things about how we react as voters to these debates.

First, debates- in theory- should be about the presentation of facts. The way in which those facts are presented is the basis of the debater’s position on a particular argument.  In reality, this is not always the case- especially in political debates. In politics, the message is often either obscured by the delivery, or enhanced beyond its merit.

Which brings me to the October 3rd debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney. The debate format consisted of questions posed by the moderator, to which each candidate had a two-minute window to respond. The rulebook was the first thing to die an ugly death that night. The second was the truth. During the debate, Mitt Romney repeatedly ran over his time allotment and interrupted the President during his. In the interest of fairness, President Obama ran over his time on occasion as well, but given the Romney interruptions, it came close to even. In fact, I heard reports that President Obama actually had more speaking time, but that did little to sway the overall effect.

In regards to the truth, several reports- including Factcheck.org, where Romney is referred to as a “serial exaggerator” and Politifact  call out Romney on his patently false statements- especially those in regard to the Affordable Care Act ( Obamacare). An article in The Week that asks who told the biggest “whoppers” in the debate reveals that (of the points they covered) Romney made three claims that were “not true” or “mostly untrue” and that President Obama never got farther than “half-true”. Some of the biggest lies Mitt Romney told in the debate concerned healthcare- specifically regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA)) , (ironically modeled after Romney’s own plan in Massachusetts) which Romney has promised to repeal his “first day in office”. Romney also plays pretty fast and loose with the truth regarding what he will put in its place. Economist, Paul Krugman lays out the obvious falsehoods in his New York Time Op-Ed entitled “Romney’s Sick Joke” far better than I can. I highly recommend reading it in its entirety.

Despite that, President Obama did not come across as the “winner” in this debate. Why, you ask? The clearest reason I can see is this: the President was faced with an opponent who seized the podium and did not let go until he was done. The legitimacy of the argument was lost in a fury of bully tactics and the inability of the moderator to establish a sense of order.

To add insult to injury, the post debate analysis was not friendly or even conciliatory towards the President. I thought Chris Matthews was just this side of apoplectic when he was criticizing the President’s lack of “fire”. Lawrence O’Donnell, more measured in his analysis, asserted that he “likes that kind of debate format”, saying that it gives both sides the chance to show their strength. I agree with that statement for the most part- BUT, that sort of free-for-all does not work well with time limits. Especially when one party respects the time limitations, more than another does.

While I agreed with some of the post debate criticism, I thought that criticism should have been tempered with an equal emphasis on the flagrant lies that Romney stated during the debate. The lies were mentioned, but only in the context of the President’s inability to rebut them. Therefore, the emphasis on style over content was further exaggerated,

You are probably asking, as I do repeatedly, why the merit of a particular argument gets lost in a cloud of stylistic perception. The answer is that we, at heart, are a consumer driven society. We base many, if not most, of our decisions on packaging or presentation. Since recent polls have indicated that Romney is perceived as “wooden”, “robotic”, “detached”, his biggest hurdle in this debate was to break that perception. So, he put on his best, friendly, smiling, used-car salesman face and proceeded to sell us a “car’ that he assures us is the best one available. Look at how pretty and shiny it is! No need to look under the hood or have a mechanic check it out- I am telling you it’s the best there is!  Of course, once you look under the hood, you find out that his claim that his “car’ is the best is just so much bunk. In fact, he has sold you a clunker. We have all fallen for this tactic at one time or another. There is no shame in that. The only problem with falling for that kind of tactic- that slick salesman sell- is that when it comes to making a decision about an election that way you have to wait quite a while before you can return that clunker. In this case, four years. In the meantime, that clunker will have cost you far more than you could ever imagine when you gave in to the slick sell.

So, we have to look deeper. We have to concentrate on what these people are saying and beyond that, do their actions mesh with their words. We have to look past the packaging and see what is inside the box. It is hard, I know- and it requires an adjustment to the way we think that is not encouraged by mainstream media. They are just as prone to get wrapped up in the bells and whistles as we are. In fact, they sometimes encourage that line of thinking in order to capture and hold our attention as viewers. We can help to change that by demanding more,

In a very humorously entitled article in Consortiumnews.com Robert Parry sums up the attitude regarding the political process rather well: Often, goofiness captures the U.S. political process, as it did in 2000 and did again on Wednesday night. Electing a president is turned into a fun game of playing theater critic or stand-up comedian, rather than the harder job of evaluating the mettle of the candidates who could step into the Oval Office.”

I believe that is a pretty apt analysis. The larger point is- we can do better. So, if you’ve ever been taken in by the smooth words and moves of a slick salesman, remember that feeling of anger, disappointment and disillusionment. Leaves a bad taste in you mouth, doesn’t it? Imagine tasting that for the next four years…and beyond. .

My View-

Brenda Seward

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Cookies, Quotes & What’s Real

Most things political are more about perception than actual substance. This is something that those of us who follow the political ebb and flow, whether in a professional capacity or purely out of an odd sense of curiosity. Talking about substantive policy issues hardly ever holds the attention of the media for long- not to mention the general public. So in light of that, they ( and us) tend to focus on the juicy, salacious, inflammatory and often… ridiculous. Which leads me to Hilary Rosen’s comments on CNN Wednesday night. Rosen was taking issue with Romney’s comments on the campaign trail about his stand on “women’s issues”, His comment was that “his wife tells him that what women really care about are economic issues”.

Rosen’s retort was that “Ann Romney has never worked a day in her life…”

While that is technically true, perhaps the better choice of words would have (should have) been that Ann Romney has been lucky enough to lead the kind of life where she not only never had to make the choice between staying home with her children or being able to make ends meet at the end of the month. She should have said that Mitt Romney shouldn’t be formulating opinions about half the voting population based on his wife’s opinions- that perhaps the concerns of women voters should matter just a bit more to him than that.

Instead, Rosen gave the Romney camp a great big soft pitch to swing at. Instead of focusing on Romney’s plans to “get rid of” Planned Parenthood or his ‘day late/dollar short’ lukewarm assertion that he didn’t have any plans to change the Fair Pay Act or his desire to gut “Obamacare” … or any of a number of other reasons why his political agenda  would be disastrous for the country, but specifically for women, Rosen unwittingly gave the Romney camp a way to appear sympathetic. And for  a really dumb reason.

The thrust of the fallout from Rosen’s remarks was that in saying that Ann Romney “had never worked a day in her life” Rosen was essentially saying that “stay-at-home” Moms don’t work, or that that work has no value. That, of course, was not what Rosen meant- but in this age of instant sound-bites and social media, what is said can rarely, if ever, be unsaid.

Of course, everybody rushed to take sides, counter-attack and issue dismay and indignation. I, personally thought that David Axelrod went a little over the top with his Twitter chastisement of Rosen, saying her comments were ” inappropriate and offensive”.  Were they, in fact, inappropriate? Maybe- but not entirely. Offensive? Not hardly.

Let’s take a moment and put this in perspective. Does Anne Romney fit the mold of the average, middle class, stay-at-home mom? I doubt that. Has she ever been put in the position of having to balance paying the mortgage with orthodontists bill, school fees, car insurance and the water-heater that just went on the fritz? Another one for the doubt column. Has she ever been put in the agonizing role of the mother who has to drop her wailing and forlorn two year old at daycare because she has to go back to work because her husband’s hours and benefits were cut back due to downsizing and her employer will provide her with the full benefits they sorely need. Again, I highly doubt it. So to cast Mrs. Romney in the role of Ms. Average Stay at Home is more than a little disingenuous.

For all those who are wringing their hands over this political faux pas, let’s put that in perspective too. A lot of people- mostly those in the Romney camp and their surrogates are trying to make this comment by Hilary Rosen, who is a Democratic strategist  (and should know to choose her words a bit more carefully) stick to President Obama. It is a ridiculous maneuver on a couple of different levels. For one thing, Rosen wasn’t speaking for or on behalf of the President or his administration. Two, she was voicing a valid point. For the Romney’s to equate themselves with middle class, working America, to know what it’s like to walk in their shoes and  feel their struggles is a little like another woman of wealth and privilege telling the starving peasants to eat cake when there was no bread.

For those women who took umbrage at Rosen’s words towards Anne Romney- please look past the ill-chosen delivery of her message to the message itself. Don’t be fooled by those who would pander to something with which you take pride in. True feminism isn’t about women having careers and working outside the home- it’s about CHOICE. The freedom to choose the path that works for you and the security to not have to sacrifice one need over the other. Too often women get diverted  and distracted by those who say they are “looking out for us”, when they are really looking after their own interests. We don’t need anyone telling us what we care about- we know what we care about: everything that affects us and our families.

I have to say, when I first heard Rosen’s comments last night and the almost instantaneous push-back, i couldn’t help but be reminded of the Hillary Clinton “cookie quote” in response to her choices as a mother and wife of a politician:

I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession which I entered before my husband was in public life.

She caught a lot of heat for that comment, but at the time I thought it was a gutsy, admirable thing to say. Even though I was a stay at home mom who had baked her fair share of cookies. I liked it mostly because the message was clear. She had the freedom of choice to be anything, to do anything she was capable of. Those are the true role models for young women, and as the mother of three daughters that was something I found far more valuable than a well baked batch of cookies.

We should all aspire to be everything we can and achieve all our dreams – no matter where they lead us. If we want to break barriers and set new heights, that should be our goal. We should also be comfortable being who and what we are- no matter what that may be… stay at home parent or Secretary of State, and we should question the motives of anyone who wants to hold us back or fit us into a mold.

The most tempered, fair response to all of this Rosen/Romney bruhaha has been the one issued by Michelle Obama : “Every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected. ”

That sums it up rather nicely in my book.

So lets not concentrate so much on the words, but more on the actions and the substance. That’s what real.

Brenda Seward

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Of Women and… Caterpillars?

It seems amazing to me that any group, organization or leader would show such blatant disregard for such a large constituency of voters in an election year, but the GOP seems to keep trying to draw water from the same rancid well.

It actually boggles the mind of the logical person. In an age when a person’s public remarks and/or voting record are merely a Google search away, how can someone hope to spin away the actions of the members of its party? The effort does seem to defy logic, but nevertheless, they keep trying.

This week, RNC chair Reince Preibus made the bold, albeit ridiculous claim that the “so-called” war on women was nothing but  ginned up public relations hype engineered by President Obama and the Democratic party to dupe us poor, misguided women into voting for them. He went further to suggest that if Democrats suggested there was a “war on caterpillars” we, as voters, would fall in line with that logic.

The level of disrespect that it takes to compare women with an insect in a stage of metamorphosis is such that I can’t fully wrap my mind around it. But, I’m spared from forming the words to directly respond to Mr. Preibus. As luck would have it, Karen Teegarden and UniteWomen.org came up with an exceptionally fitting response. I don’t actually expect a counter-response from Mr. Preibus or the RNC, but it would be quite interesting indeed to see him ( or any of them) talk their way out of this one…

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United Voices Against the War on Women

I’m back everyone. I know it’s been a long time. The last time I posted here it was about the situation in Wisconsin and the war on Unions. That was a little more than a year ago. But I’m back and mad as hell!

(artwork above  from Pamela Willis Watters)

Well the GOP has decided to pick a new fight and this one is even more personal than the last one. They have decided to wage a War On Women. This fight is even more ridiculous than the last one. Not only for the fact that they have tried- unsuccessfully in my opinion- to frame their invasive, subjugating legislative maneuvers as their effort to “protect religious freedom”, but that they expected women to sit still quietly while they went about their merry misogynistic way.

It started or should I saw restarted  last fall with the most recent attack on Planned Parenthood and the GOP’s move to defund it and the associated Susan G. Komen Foundation debacle. Although, technically- this war on women’s rights has been waging  away for quite some time. It has just reached a fever-pitch in the last year or so.

The Planned Parenthood/ Komen Foundation debacle was the first real and effective push-back on behalf of women’s rights I’ve seen in recent memory. That gave me and a lot of other women out there hope that we had  a measure of recourse against some of the draconian measures the conservative right was trying to implement. That recourse came in the form of our combined voice of outrage. But more important than outrage- a plan of action.

From that point on women, and the national media started paying a bit more attention to  the rash of legislative measures- on both the National and State levels that were designed to restrict, encumber and shame women out of exercising their right to choose and direct their own health care and reproductive choices. They have tried framing their arguments in several different ways; sanctity of life, religious freedom and “informed consent”. None of these arguments hold water when closely examined. They are nothing more than buzz words used to elicit the prescribed reaction from the conservative base.

The “sanctity of life’ argument rings false when put up against restrictions to abortions in the case of women at-risk. In their scenario, the life of the fetus takes precedence over the life of the mother. The “religious freedom” position has even less merit when examined closely.

Here is the specific language from the First Amendment relating to religion: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” 

Now, I’m no constitutional scholar, but that sounds more like freedom from religion rather than freedom for religion. And why is it that the conservative right is never quite so concerned about the other aspects of the First Amendment as the are with the religious aspect. Sort of like the way they selectively read the Second Amendment…

As far as the “informed consent” position, that is such a quagmire of hypocrisy that it’s hard to narrow it down to a few lines. Suffice it to say, that it takes the position that a woman who has made the very difficult and heart-wrenching decision to have an abortion is either too lazy or too ignorant to properly inform herself about the consequences and effects that such a procedure entails.  Furthermore it maintains that she needs the intervention of the legislature and/or other governmental entities to obtain that information. It is also a gross insult to the medical professionals who advise their patients and perform these procedures.

None of these arguments are what the appear on the surface, but are rather a mass of  rationalization in a larger pursuit to restrict, control and subjugate women in order to roll back the clock on every bit of freedom and empowerment women have fought for over the last 100 years.

This current and far-reaching war on women is not something that has happened over-night. It has been building for years and has just recently reached a stage of critical mass. Like most things in modern society, it takes a radical moment to push things to their breaking point and to reach out beyond the dedicated few to the general public. That moment came when Rush Limbaugh, in all his racist, sexist, women-hating glory decided to unload a big portion of his misogynistic vitriol  on Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke.  Ms. Fluke, a law student as well as a  student of social advocacy, but more importantly, a private citizen had testified before a Congressional committee about the essential need for contraception coverage. This need was not related to a woman’s desire to, as Limbaugh put it, “have lots of sex”, but for the health related reasons that a woman chooses to or is advised by her doctor to avail herself of contraceptives.

Limbaugh’s initial remarks ( which don’t bear repeating here) were so offensive, so outside the realm of common decency that it elicited a firestorm of public outrage.

The stunning non-response and tepid chastisement of Limbaugh from GOP leaders and presidential candidates had it’s own corresponding effect.  That particular ripple effect was so momentous that it managed to reach people across party lines and caused several high profile Republicans (mostly women) to separate themselves from the GOP in it’s current radical form. Olympia Snowe, traditionally a mostly moderate Republican indicated her intention to resign from Congress shortly after this episode. She cited the stagnant nature and total lack of compromise  and inability to accomplish anything of worth as her reason for resignation, but given that Congressional gridlock is hardly a new situation, one must wonder at the timing of her announcement.

Women are gathering, talking, organizing and rallying across the country in an unprecedented wave of momentum to fight back against this war on women’s rights and freedom. These are not small or inconsequential efforts either and they are mobilizing at a pace that would impress any commanding general.

For instance, Karen Teegarden formed UniteWomen.org in the last week of February this year. That movement, originating with a national group on Facebook and  branching  off into individual state groups, monitored and mentored by regional groups have in a few short weeks organized (or is the process of organizing) same day rallies in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia. This effort alone is an organizational and logistics marvel carried on by men and women volunteering their time to create something that most professionals would say would take  a minimum of six months to plan. In addition to the plans for these rallies, a website has been built and videos are being broadcast on the groups YouTube channel.

Unite Against the War on Women- Protest 4.28.12

All this is HUGE– and this is only one group.

In my home state of Virginia, presided over by Gov. Bob (Trans-Vaginal Ultra-Sound) McDonnell, a bi-partisan PAC called The Women’s Strikeforce was formed in that same week. Their focus is as follows:

Our bi-partisan group will work to support and elect candidates who will bring respect for women back to an arena of civil discourse and put a stop to the legislative attacks on women.

The night the PAC was formed it became part of the national discourse and received overwhelming support in its first hour.

Women’s StrikeForce on R. Maddow show

There are similar PACs and protest groups forming all over the country, most receiving support and endorsement from not only the expected areas such as Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice and the National Organization of Women, but also from The League of Women Voters and the Coffee Party Movement. 

The amazing level of public bi-partisan support on this series of issues shows that the rank and file members of the GOP in both Congress and the state legislatures that are writing and sponsoring these restrictive and dangerous measures are grossly out of touch with their constituencies and are doing nothing more than pandering to a small yet vocal fringe of their party that seems to be driving a radical message.

In a time in this country when we are trying our best to repair a devastated economy, brought to the brink by deregulation, greed and corruption in the financial industry, the cost of two wars, rampant unemployment from out-sourcing and a shrinking market- not to mention a housing market tossed on its head, do we really need to be fighting a war that was settled 30 years ago… or so we thought?  

The answer is: we shouldn’t have to, but we are!  Women and men who support and respect them, will come together and march, attend rallies and silent vigils. We will write letters to the editors of our local newspapers, we will sign petitions and call our congressional representatives and members of our legislature. We will donate to and campaign for candidates who make it clear with words and deeds that they respect women and their rights and not only consider them “women’s rights” but basic HUMAN rights.

We will also do the one thing that is the final blow to those who seek to minimize, marginalize and restrict us as human beings. We will exercise our constitutional right to VOTE them out of office!

So, all you sisters, mothers, aunts, grandmothers and all of you men out there who love and respect them, find a group to join, a rally to attend, a candidate to work for and help us win this war on women- for our daughters and granddaughters and nieces,  so that their rights won’t be taken away.  For our sisters and friends in support of them. For our mothers and grandmothers so they won’t have to watch their daughters and granddaughters suffer needlessly and watch what they fought for trampled into the dust… and lastly for ourselves. Because when one of us suffers, we all do.

1000 Words Unite Women

  

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Be Careful What You Say…

Be careful what you say when you are not 100% sure who is listening.

Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin found out that fact when he took a call from someone he thought was billionaire conservative (and a major Walker campaign donor) David Koch of Koch Industries. He was, in fact, talking to a blogger (Ian Murphy of BuffaloBeast) posing as Koch.

During the course of the conversation Walker revealed his true purpose behind the budget bill he’s trying to push through the state legislature. A bill that would strip public workers of their collective bargaining rights. The underlying effect boils down to  union busting  – plain and simple.

Not only that, when the fake David Koch suggested bring in some “troublemakers” to stir up things further and intimidate the protesters, Walker admitted they had ” considered the idea” but decided it wouldn’t play well politically. Not that it was potentially dangerous, or unethical or even bad form – but that it wouldn’t play well politically. Apparently it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you don’t look bad doing it. I personally believe that ship has sailed for Gov. Walker.

The worst part of this whole debacle isn’t merely that Walker is using a bill concerning his state’s budget as a way to render public unions useless, therefore ultimately eliminating their existence. Nor is it that there is an element of the bill that would give no-bid sale contracts of energy plants to anyone he deems suitable ( say for instance… Koch Industries). It’s not even the disservice it does to public employees in Wisconsin ( and elsewhere, if like-minded  Governors have their way). Neither is the worst element of this the way this whole process is throwing the hard-working public servants of Wisconsin ( who, by the way, have already given in on every single budget related item) under the bus while giving tax breaks and incentives to corporate interests in his state. Tax breaks and incentives, that coincidentally practically equal the shortfall Walker is saying he needs to cover.

The absolute worst part of this is how blatantly clear it seems that an elected official has sold himself to corporate interests at the expense of the people of his state.

Now, I know that politicians can’t run campaigns without money, and that political action committees, lobbies, special interest groups and yes, trade unions routinely raise and donate money to campaigns they feel will best serve their particular agendas. While potentially problematic, this is a widely used and largely acceptable practice. It got a lot more problematic with the recent Supreme Court decision that blocked the ban on corporate donation limits to political campaigns. The main thrust of the majority (5-4) opinion was that money equals free speech. The problem with that is that old nugget about the “golden rule”- he who has the gold makes the rules. So when it all boils down to it, who is making the rules? Walker or the Koch brothers? The people of Wisconsin need to know who their chief public servant is listening to,  them or his corporate benefactors.

So, maybe the prevalent message of this post shouldn’t be “Be careful what you say”, but rather be careful who you are listening to and more important listen carefully to what they are saying … and why.

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Another voice in the choir…

Many of you may wonder what the world (or rather the internet) needs with another voice sharing their opinion about what they think of world events. Perfectly legimate question. I posed the very same question to my daughter when she suggested I start a blog on this subject. Frankly,I think she was tired of my constantly bending her ear every time I saw something or heard something on the news that got me all wound up.

 That’s not completely fair… she’s very supportive ( read that as patient) when I jump on my soapbox. She has also managed to gain an interest and understanding of politics due to my occasional rants. Granted, this has come about in a Stockholm Syndrome manner- even though I didn’t actually force her to listen to me. Really- I didn’t!  ( thank God for indulgent children- it just may keep me out of the home when I get old). But, she has gained some appreciation and knowledge of a subject she considered boring, confusing and/or ridiculous. Not that she doesn’t stll have the latter two opinions- but who wouldn’t these days?

So today, when I’m going on again to her about the latest thing driving me crazy, my indulgent daughter remarks that of all the things I get  passionate about- including books- the one thing that really gets me going is politics and what is going on in the world.  “So, ” says she,” why don’t you blog about it?”

My retort was that my experience was writing about other people’s words, not crafting my own opinions. Not to mention, what do we need with another person lending their opinion about the events of the day?

The short answer is- we really don’t. It’s like adding one more voice to a thousand voice choir. But… maybe- just maybe every once in a while what I have to say may just rise above the din and strike a cord with some indulgent reader out there. You never know unless you stand up and sing. So… here I am.

More later on various subjects. I hope you will be listening.

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