Me, Myself, and the Voices in My Head

A place to ramble and maybe make some sense about a thing or two.

Archive for the category “Politics”

Memorial Day — You’re doing it wrong!

On this Memorial Day, we sit out on our decks and party.  Three days we’ve got off from work with burgers on the barbie.  But if you take a moment to reflect, away from your party scene, the radio will remind you what this day truly means.

It’s time to save, I said SAVE, on a waterbed!  It’s time to buy a great mattress at an even greater price!  I’ve got two words for you — It’s “Tire Sale!”  We’ve got rock-bottom prices and the time is running out!

You’ve got one full year, that’s right — one full year!  No interest!  No payments!  This could be the Memorial Day Weekend you enjoy for years!

Oh, yeah, and something about guys who died for our country…..  (“Memorial Day” parody by Heywood Banks)

Sadly, that song which was written as a joke to show just how out-of-touch we are with what Memorial Day really means is truer than you think.

I’ve seen and heard lots of people talking about their holiday weekend.  The “fact” that it’s the first weekend of summer.  About how much they’ve enjoyed their mini-family vacations and days spent on the lake or fishing or perfecting their barbeque techniques.  I’ve also seen a lot of people posting photos/cartoons and statements thanking veterans for their service.

Memorial Day is not the day we say “thank you” to our veterans.  EVERY DAY should be a day we say “thank you” to our veterans.  But for those who can’t be bothered to do that every day you see someone in uniform or someone wearing a hat or jacket showing they were one who promised to put their life on the line for our country, then at least say “thank you” on Veterans’ Day (11 November).

Memorial Day is when we should stop what we’re doing and remember that it’s the day set aside to say “thank you” to those veterans we CAN’T thank in person anymore.  They gave the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefields, wherever they were.  And we remember those veterans who have passed-on and the service they so proudly gave to our country.

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and was started by Major General John A. Logan from Southern Illinois and the GAR, the Grand Army of the Republic.  The GAR was an organization of Union veterans.  Three years after the Civil War, in 1868, he said that on May 30th all the graves of our war dead should be decorated with flowers (which would be in bloom across the country at that time).  In his orders, he stated:

We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. … Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners.  Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

This was done because in many areas immediately following the Civil War, only those of either Union or Confederate forces were being remembered and the graves of the “enemy” were falling into neglect.  One of the first records of equal decorations came in 1866 when women visiting the sites of the Confederate dead from the Battle of Shiloh near Columbus, Mississippi, noticed the graves of Union casualties being ignored and desecrated because they were they “enemy.”  Disturbed at the sight of the bare graves, the ladies placed flowers there as well.

Many Union or Confederate Decoration Day ceremonies are still held every year.  Memorial Day, however, was made a Federal holiday by an act of Congress in 1971 and the last Monday in May was selected as the date in order to be fairly consistent with the orders given by Maj. Gen. Logan as well as coinciding with the local/regional celebrations that had been occurring since.

Every grave in every national cemetery will have an American flag placed upon it today.  Some are placed by soldiers, some by civic groups such as the Boy and Girl Scouts.  Many family members will also decorate the graves of their loved ones in national, state, and private cemeteries.  Speeches will be made and politicians will “pay tribute” across the country today.  But it shouldn’t be just them making an effort.  And it shouldn’t be just the veterans who were able to come home to their country and families and who live with the memories of how their comrades gave the ultimate sacrifice.  It should be all of us — every single person who enjoys the freedom for which those brave men and women laid-down their lives.

It’s not about the sales; it’s not about the picnics; it’s not about a day off with or without pay.  It’s about gratitude; it’s about honor; it’s about those we can never say “thank you” personally to again.

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I can see why the USPS is in the crapper….

Everyone’s complaining that the United States Postal Service (USPS) is going to be closing post offices and processing centers and probably raising the prices on stamps a zillion more times before the end of the year.  There’s a very, very good reason why, but first let me start with my story of the day.

I like to sell items from my website.  I also like to sell items on eBay.  Many times I have items that need to be shipped overseas.  So, I use the USPS to ship overseas because it is cheaper than UPS, FedEx, or any of the other commercial carriers.  Today I had a World War II Brazilian officer’s belt buckle that had been sold, ironically enough, to a gentleman in Brazil.  I had listed that the weight of the item was about 1 pound because it’s small, brass, and isn’t hard to put into a padded envelope or a small box.  Today when I attempted to ship it, I weighed the buckle and it was actually 2.9 pounds.  That’s fine — not a lot of difference since I’m going to be sending it Priority Flat-Rate International where items up to 4 pounds can be shipped for one fee.  However, what they failed to tell me was that I also needed to weigh the box with it.  If it’s a flat-rate box and it says I can ship up to 4 pounds, why are they also charging for the “free” box?  What’s the point of me using their “flat-rate” service if I’ll end up paying the same amount as if I used my own box?

It’s things like this that explain why the USPS is really in the crapper.  Back when UPS, FedEx, DHL, and the countless other commercial shipping companies that have come-and-gone started vying for our business, they promised overnight or next-day or 3-day shipping and that’s exactly what you got.  The USPS’ attitude was that “it will get there when it gets there” because it’s run by the government with overpaid government employees.  I’m not talking about your standard letter carriers who are actually out in the heat, ice, rain, and snow actually delivering your mail — especially those like my letter carrier who still has to do it on-foot and not in the cute little air-conditioned truck.  When the Postmaster General of the United States makes a 6-figure salary and never actually handles a piece of mail, something’s wrong.  And it’s the lackadaisical attitude of the “perpetual government employment” and specialized benefits that have the higher-ups not really caring if people complain about the service they receive.  It used to be a one-horse show back in the old days.  Them days, partner, are over.

With all of the shipping choices people have now it’s no wonder that the commercial shippers are driving the USPS out of business.  They’re in it for the profit and if the customer isn’t happy, they’ll tell their friends who will tell their friends and pretty soon your company has no one using it.  I’ve seen quite a few come-and-go over the years.  The ones with staying power offer the services you want at a reasonable price and guarantee that you’ll get it.  The USPS always has a “window of opportunity” of when something might arrive.  Rarely do I ever see a confirmed date with the Post Office.

The USPS constantly is trying to remind everyone that they’re self-funded and not assisted by the Federal Government and that only your use of the Post Office can keep it going.  Guess what?  That’s the same thing you’ll hear from a privately owned business!  Gee whiz, who’d have thought that if you gave good service, didn’t overspend on benefits and retirement (something that occasionally is done in commercial companies as well), and tried to stick to your budget that you could be successful?  But, the Federal Government doesn’t require that the USPS make a profit; it just has to break-even.  And then they’re also supported by taxpayers through the “Postal Service Fund” but they don’t like to talk about it because they usually come up with a profit at the end of the day when it’s all is said and done.

And they wonder why people prefer email and commercial shipping?

Still banging my head against the wall

I was hopeful a few days ago when I received a response from one of my elected officials regarding my concerns about why I wasn’t reappointed to my old job.  They sent me a nice email:

April 18, 2012

Dear [Me],

I have sent the enclosed correspondence about your situation to [Governmental Agency Acronym].  The enclosed copy is for your files.

If you have any new, relevant information, please send it to:

Name and address of possibly underpaid staff member
Office of Desperate to be Re-elected Official
Mailing Address to “Local” Office

Or

Fax number that no one uses anymore because of e-mail and the Internet

Please be assured that we are continuing to work on this matter and will contact you as soon as we receive a response.  If you have received this message by email, it is not possible to reply by email.  Please contact my office by phone, fax, mail or online via webform on our website at webaddress.PLEASE-vote-for-me.gov.

Again, thank you for contacting me.  Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance to you on this or any other issue.

Sincerely

Quite odd that if they can send me an email that I can’t send another in return.  I thought that was how email worked.  All these years using the Internet and somehow I missed that.

Anyway, I opened the “enclosed correspondence” to see what it had.  Here’s what I found:

Dear Sir or Madam,

The purpose of this correspondence is to inquire about non-reappointment of [Me, but with my name in all capital letters].

[Me] contacted [Desperate to be Re-Elected Official] out of concern for this case. Her current mailing address is [none of your business].

Her email address is [also none of your business].

Her date of birth is [REALLY none of your business]. I have attached a signed Privacy Act Release Form for this case. (NOTE: The Privacy Act Release Form had all that info on it, so why waste time in a “letter” repeating it?)

According to [Me], she was recently not reappointed to her [old job title] position after almost 8 years of work without personnel or performance issues.  As she has not received an answer from [Governmental Agency Acronym] regarding the specific reason, she believes that it is due to the fact that she has obtained a certified service dog to assist her.  I have attached the email she forwarded to our office where she quotes the letter she received from [Governmental Agency Acronym], as well as her signed Privacy Release form. (NOTE: Didn’t they already say they’d attached this?  Who writes these things??)

I respectfully request that your office give each and every due consideration under the law to the request of the constituent. Please update me by email about the status of this application or the reason for this denial so that I can inform the constituent.

Best regards,

Name of possibly underpaid staff member

So, the letter was off and now all I had to do was sit-back and wait for an answer.  My attempts at getting a straight answer from supervisors (and, I thought, friends) didn’t work.  My attempts at going through the Equal Rights and Equal Employment Offices had met with little fanfare and, as of this date, still no response.  Now I was going to get somewhere!

Today, an email arrived from the political official’s address.  Inside I found:

April 20, 2012

Dear [Me],

I have received the enclosed correspondence from [Governmental Agency Acronym].  The enclosed copy is for your files.

Please feel free to contact me in the future if I can assist you with any other matters of federal concern.  If you are receiving this message by email, please note that it is not possible to reply by email.  Instead, please contact my office by phone, fax, mail or online via webform at http://www.I’m-getting-very-desperate-to-be-reelected.Give-me-some-money.gov.

Again, thank you for contacting me.  Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance to you on this or any other issue.

Sincerely

Okay, a stock response with a quick flip of the ol’ web address where donations are happily received.  But, it had only been 2 days!  I knew something was fishy.  The government never works that fast.  Not for regular taxpayers like us, anyway.

So I opened the attached “response” and here’s what I saw:

Good Morning [Possibly Underpaid Staff Member],

Thank you for your recent inquiry about [Me].  She is concerned about not being reappointed as a [old job title and acronym for it].  On behalf of the [Actual Name of Governmental Agency and Acronym], the following is what I can share at this time.

March 24, 2012, marked the end of the current appointment period for all [old job acronym].  We were asked to evaluate our current work force needs based on [Governmental Agency Acronym]’s mission. This required making some difficult decisions.  Clearly we had people who had contributed to our mission for a long time and were good employees.  However, our current and projected staffing needs meant we needed to create a more nimble organization, which required making some very hard choices.  At this time, it was determined per the Stafford Act and your Conditions of Employment, to allow [Me]’s appointment to expire.  {Me] is free to apply for an appointment within another Cadre.

Once the new [New Job Title] program (what the [old job acronym] program used to be called) is accepting applications, the non-appointed [old job acronym] (your constituent in this case) could apply.  The details of this are still being worked out, and we will keep you posted.  I hope this helps and let me know if you have any additional questions.

Best regards,

External Affairs Specialist, [Area for which I used to be employed]

Hmmm….something seems familiar.  Why, yes!  That whole second paragraph was nearly identical to what they’d sent me previously (and you can check my prior posts to verify it)!!  They didn’t even change the word “your” before “Conditions of Employment” in order to make it read correctly!  They completely avoided the reason why I was asking for clarification and simply whipped together the same old spiel they’d been given to placate those who weren’t rehired and sent it.  And the Desperate to be Re-Elected Official’s staff didn’t even bother to check that it wasn’t an actual response to my actual question before slapping the Official’s name on the email and sending it to me.

Oh, sure, it looks “better” with them saying that I can apply when the new program opens.  However, those who were reappointed also have to apply and if they’re hired, they don’t lose their accrued sick days and their pay could go up but cannot go down.  Those of us who were not reappointed have to start from scratch, regardless of how much experience we have, and lose all of the sick days we’d saved working over the years.  So, technically, someone who had just been hired prior to the “reappointment” period who was retained could be making twice what I made and have no experience but if I get rehired to my “old job” I’d have to start at the bottom of the salary tree again.  Yeah…that sounds really fair.

I immediately went to the website of Desperate to be Re-Elected Official and left them a nice message that what I got was a whole lot of nothing that I hadn’t already sent copies of to them.  And, no, this person will not be receiving my vote in the election — even though this fiasco had nothing to do with my previous intentions to not vote for them.

Oh well….  I’m still on the hunt for answers.  Yeah, I may be just banging my head against the wall, but it’s better than sitting and wallowing in self-pity or wondering what I did wrong (which was nothing).

My optimal job?

Went to see my therapist today.  She’s concerned that I’m not doing as well since I’m not working and still trying to find answers.  We talked; she asked questions; I answered them; and then I left.

Well, it wasn’t that simple.  She asked me a lot more questions today than usual.  And she was trying to help me determine what would be the best job for my personality.  Politics was her first suggestion.  I immediately told her that I wouldn’t be a popular elected figure because I have a low tolerance for stupid and that the “shut-up filter” in my head doesn’t always work.  She asked if that wouldn’t be a good thing to have since it would be different from what we have now?  I told her it wouldn’t be a good idea because the last politician that spoke his mind and didn’t really give a crap about what anyone thought was Teddy Roosevelt and there was an assassination attempt on his life (but he kept going with his speech).  I also don’t have the ability to promise things that I know I can’t deliver or be beholden to people just because of the money they have.

We discussed my strengths and weaknesses.  I told her about career fields that Husband had suggested that I had turned-down because I know that I don’t have the personality to do them.  She asked me what she thought my optimal job would be.  What would let me do what I wanted to do and be able to do my job without someone micromanaging me?  What would let me be able to help others but also make sure that people are doing their jobs correctly?  What would let me feel that I’m accomplishing my goals/desires while I work?

The only thing I could come up with at the spur of the moment was “dictator of a third-world country.”  My therapist laughed and said that my answer didn’t surprise her.  Husband wasn’t surprised when I told him tonight, either.

Now I have a “homework” assignment to make a list of things that I can and can’t do while working.  That’s going to be interesting.

But for now, I have to go watch “Toddlers and Tiaras.”  I don’t want to, but a friend of mine from high school is going to be on it and has been talking about it for quite a while and I said I’d watch it.  Husband asked  if I’m going to blog about it.  I don’t think I could express my contempt of that show and the way the kids and parents act well enough with polite words.

Search for answers continues….

Ahhh….just when you thought it was safe to come back to the blog, I’m writing about trying to find out why I didn’t keep my job again.  Actually, it’s not so much about why I didn’t keep it.  It’s more about making sure that the reason for my release wasn’t something discriminatory.

Today I resent the email I’d sent last week to the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) officer as well as his supervisor, the Equal Rights Officer (ERO), asking for more information and at least a response of some sort since he had marked my previous email as read but I’d not received anything.  I also received only one response from my Congressional/Senatorial search for answers and completed the Privacy Act information sheet they requested so they could process my inquiry.  Seems odd that one who didn’t respond is up for election and lives in the same town in which I live!  So much for “hometown concern” this election season.

I did receive a response from the ERO supervisor.  I was somewhat surprised until I remembered that if the supervisor receives complaints about employees not completing their duties, they have to do something about it.  Well, they don’t “have to” I’ve discovered, but it looks better on their performance appraisals if they do.  Here is what I received:

Unfortunately, I cannot provide any specifics with regard to your statements and that received from your cadre leadership.  I can tell you that each organization now has an “established force structure” level.  Basically, that we will only be allowed a certain number of individuals in any cadre based upon the number that is established for the cadre.  My own cadre is going through this same situation.

Please let me know if you do not hear from someone by next week.

Not exactly an answer to my question but it does address the fact that all cadres are having to cut-back.  I replied with sincere thanks and asked for additional information as it is received regarding my inquiries as to why a simple reason of downsizing or a referral letter couldn’t be provided so that those who’ve lost their jobs will have an easier time finding new ones.

I then received the following item from a friend who saw it posted on a social media site:

So, [Assistant Administrator Name] graced us with his presence yesterday, and put on a dog and pony show – gist as follows.  1) DAE’s will be assigned to the Region they live in.  2) If that Region is fully staffed, and you are offered a position, it will be as a “surge” type of role.  3) An email will go out in the next 10 days, a package within the next month RE: re-application.  4) We are top-heavy with those in the C3 to E range, so there’s gonna be some payroll adjustments.  5) When asked if they are trying to get rid of people, responded “Some people are taking this the wrong way.”

“Taking this the wrong way” — are they serious?  How else is someone who has worked for years without any issues (and I’m not just talking about myself) supposed to take not being retained in their job?  Yes, it’s a temporary job.  No, you’re not supposed to rely on it for your sole source of income.  I didn’t.  I’m one of the lucky ones that has a spouse who makes enough to pay the bills if I’m not working, but I knew a lot of others that this was the best job they could find and all they had because you’re supposed to be able to deploy at a moment’s notice but no one else will hire you for a “permanent” job when you’re planning to leave any time you’re called-up.  And when looking at the differences between what new employees were making with this organization and what they could make “in the real world,” there’s no denying that people would prefer this job over a “typical” one.  I, however, did it because I was good at it (and I’m not ashamed to say so) and I knew I was making a difference.  And, yes, the money I made helped when there were unexpected medical bills (usually mine and usually caused by the stress of this type of work) or if my family wanted to visit where I was working over the holidays (which helped my morale a lot) or perhaps all of us taking a trip somewhere (which never did happen).

Still no idea how all of this will end and I’ve been looking for something else that fits my personality and work ability so that I’ll have something else to do during the day.  I don’t feel so much as if I’m beating my head against the wall with this.  It’s more like trying to figure out a mystery.  Who’s got the answers and whose buttons can I push just right that might give me some information that someone really didn’t want everyone else to know.  It’s like when I used to be a reporter/editor with the newspaper.  There’s a juicy story in this somewhere.  I’ve just got to figure out where to dig.

In for a penny, in for a pound

Yup, I’m back on the “crusade for answers” again.  Can’t help myself.  I see and hear others who feel the exact same way I do and there’s got to be something, anything that we can get as an explanation so that those of us who’ve lost our jobs (many after long employments) don’t feel like we’ve been kicked to the curb because we don’t fit the ideal of a “nimble organization.”  And I see others who’ve kept their positions basically saying “Tough crap!” to those of us unlucky enough to fit in whatever arbitrary mold was used to select the “keepers” from the “losers.”  Even one person said, “If we want to fire you, we don’t need a reason because the regulation says we can release you at any time for no reason whatsoever.”  That’s a nice slap in the face to everyone who loved doing their jobs, did them very well, and enjoyed helping others while spending months away from home, family, and friends in austere conditions and are now basically told to “Get lost!”

What did I do today, you may well be asking.  Today I got tired of waiting for the EEO representative to answer my email (he’d marked that he’d read it but I don’t know if he really had or not) and no answers at the phone number I was given to contact the same person.  So, I figured if I can’t go any farther up in the organization, I might as well contact those who help fund the organization and see what they have to say or can find out for me.  Yup, I contacted my Congressional Representative and the two Senators from my state.  I sent them all the exact same letter explaining what’s happened, the responses I’ve been given, and why I feel that I (and others, though I cannot speak for them) have been treated unfairly by the organization or, if not the organization as a whole, at least by the Region for which we used to work.

Do I expect much to come from this?  Not really.  Well, the biggest wish would be to watch all of the people who work in the Congressional Liaison Offices going batty because of an employee who has a better understanding of Equal Rights than they thought bringing in the “big guns” but that’s not going to happen.  They hate it when Congressional inquiries are made on behalf of constituents who feel they’ve been wronged.  And, with it being an election year, many Representatives and Senators will be more willing to help those they represent in the hopes of gaining votes.  And since I’m no longer an employee, I have every right to contact whomever I want.  I “stayed in my lane” as long as I could.  Now I’ll do it my way.

Like the title of this post, if I’m going in for a penny I might as well go in for a pound.  They’ve taken their pound of flesh over the years and I knew that they’d never pay back all that I’ve given.  I’m tired of playing it safe and sitting along the sidelines hoping to remain under the radar to keep a job that I love because I could help others in their times of need and would certainly hope that there would be someone there for me if I were in the same position.  I’ll find a way to continue to help others somewhere down the road.  Whether it’s with this agency or another remains to be seen.  But I’m just not going to sit and “take it” anymore.

A brief review/rant of last night’s debate

I have lots and lots to do today, so this one is going to be quick.  I watched the Republican Debate last night and found myself again frustrated by what I heard and saw.  So, since I’m busy, this is going to be a quick synopsis of what I saw and remember from the show.

The four candidates were introduced by CNN in an almost WWE “wrasslin'” style as each was given a nickname and funky background music.  They all came out onstage and stood for the National Anthem.  Politicians need to learn where their heart is — most of them were covering their spleen with their right hand.

Questions were posed and Frothy Mix (Santorum) and Mittens (Romney) sat and argued like small children trying to one-up each other.  Newt (Gingrich) looks as if he’s put on a few pounds and the way he sat in his chair holding his right hand made me wonder if he was constantly checking his pulse or if he was just trying to control himself from smacking Mittens for all of his inane comments.  DocRon (Paul) sat at the other end of the stage and was often ignored but did make sure that when he was asked to give a “quick response” by the moderator that he said, “No, not a quick response.  I get one minute like they do!”

Frothy Mix kept falling into the “John Kerry Trap” of  saying that he “voted for something before he opposed it” which the other candidates, with the exception of DocRon, seemed to not notice.  DocRon, however, did jump on it.  He also made a comment about not believing something that Frothy Mix said was “real.”  Frothy Mix tried to interrupt by showing his hand and arm to DocRon and saying, “Sorry!  I’m definitely real!” to which DocRon simply replied, “Congratulations.”

Mittens kept trying to remind everyone about how he was affiliated with the Olympics but never could get the right words out.  He said he was “in the Olympics,” not that he served on the Olympic Committee.  If he was “in” the Olympics, then in what sport did he compete?  And, in my own opinion, who gives a crap that he worked on the Olympic Committee.  True, he uses it as a way to prove that he’s the most qualified to run the country economically, but that’s with a budget of billions which only people like he and his friends have, not the type of budgets with which we “regular people” are familiar.

Newt made a great statement that everyone is comparing what they’re going to do with what the current government is doing and pointed out that the current government is the problem.  Like, duh!!  If the others didn’t already know that, then they don’t need to be up there.

DocRon was patient as he was mostly ignored throughout the night and did defend himself and his ideas when he could.  However, I do believe that he often got some of the biggest applause and was the only person who, as everyone tried to make sure to mention as many of the Bill of Rights amendments as they could, mentioned the Second Amendment.  And I agree with him that if someone has entered the country illegally and is trespassing on your property, you should be able to call the police and have them arrested (and they can be referred to the proper immigration authorities).  Why not?  If I can report citizens for trespassing, why do illegal immigrants get a free pass?

At the end of the debate, I really got upset when they were asked their final question and only two of them answered it.  Newt and DocRon actually answered the question.  They passed my first rule of having a debate.  When it was Mittens’ turn and he started his campaign speech, the moderator stopped him and asked him to answer the question.  Mittens countered with, “You get to ask the questions you want; I get to give the answers I want.”  Frothy Mix took the same approach and both stayed “on-message” and wouldn’t answer the question directly.

So, if I had to choose someone at this moment, it would be either DocRon or Newt.  Newt actually isn’t “presidential” in my eyes, but he at least can answer a direct question!  Same for DocRon.  You might be stunned at what you hear but he’s not going to mince words or go off on his “message” instead of addressing the issue.

They said last night this could be the last Republican Debate — I seriously doubt it.  Everyone’s in-it-to-win-it and no one is going home until they mathematically can’t win.  And some are trying to get enough delegates so they get a prime-time slot during the Republican National Convention, which worries many in the RNC.

I just hope that the next debate is better than this one was and that questions can actually be answered directly.  And if they don’t, I still think dropping them through the floor or squirting them with water like you do your dog or cat that won’t behave would be fine.

Presidents’ Day Sale: Isn’t that every day?

Once again we have another Federal holiday and the newspapers, radio, and television are filled to the brim with advertisements for Presidents’ Day Sales.  Will we ever have a holiday that doesn’t involve unbridled avarice?  Sure, we’re a capitalist society, but we do we have to change our holidays from times of remembrance and honor to just simply buying the crap out of everything?

Of course, I’m also one of the “old fogeys” who remembers back-in-the-day when we used to celebrate George Washington’s birthday on one date (February 22nd) and Abraham Lincoln’s birthday on another (February 12th).  And if you’re reading this and have no idea who either of those people are, then please, in all seriousness, stop reading my blog because you’re just going to embarrass yourself.  Our school classrooms were always decorated with silhouettes of Washington and Lincoln and the red-white-and-blue bulletin board borders were strung around the room and decorated each desk.  Sometimes there would be contests to see who could dress-up most like either of them and some teachers who only wanted to have to decorate once in the month of February would put the silhouettes of our first and sixteenth presidents (facing each other, usually) inside a large pink heart.  That one always confused me.

After the recognition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday as a Federal holiday, a lot of states stopped celebrating Lincoln’s birthday because they didn’t want to have to give their employees another paid day-off.  Some states still celebrate it, however, as a state holiday (Illinois being one of the biggest).  But if we had a holiday for every president and event in our country’s history, the government would never be open and all Federal employees would spend most of their time off with pay.  Actually, there are some days it seems like they do that anyway.  Technically, there is no “Presidents’ Day” or “President’s Day” or “Presidents Day” (depending on your interpretation of punctuation rules).  The official designation is Washington’s Birthday and no formal bill has ever changed that.  Some have tried — Nixon issued an executive order to celebrate all presidents (including himself, of course) but that didn’t change the holiday.  A bill was even introduced in 2001 but it never made it out of the subcommittee trying to present it.

So, the sales we’re having are actually to celebrate Washington’s birthday.  But let’s look at the phrasing of what’s printed on most of our calendars because the greeting card industry and all the politically-correct rulesmongers won’t have us ignoring the other 43 presidents we’ve had.  Presidents’ Day.  A day for all of the presidents.

Now let’s add the commercialization part.  Presidents’ Day Sale.  A day to sell presidents?  We have that every day, don’t we?  Look at the current campaigns — it’s a battle for who’s got the most money; who can spend the most in a certain area; and who is going to promise the most going back to the citizens just so long as they donate enough to help them get elected.  No one without a huge “war chest” could even dream of becoming president.  If you don’t already have your own large amount of money that’s doing nothing but waiting to be spent, a PAC, a Super-PAC, or a Super-Sized-PAC-with-fries-and-a-drink, you don’t stand a chance.

Technically, we buy-and-sell our presidents every day.  After one election ends and the inauguration occurs, hopefuls for the next one four years down the road start jockeying for position.  And anyone in politics who says they’re not interested in running is probably lying through their teeth.  But behind the scenes, where the lobbyists and special-interest groups lurk while pretending they’re not involved, the money gathering begins.  If you’ve got the money, we’ve got the candidate for you!

It’s been jokingly suggested that we should make all of our politicians wear uniforms with their “sponsors” logos on them, like the NASCAR drivers do.  There’d be some who’d have to change outfits four-or-more times a day just so every donor would get equal “screen time.”  Watching them trying to give a speech or meet-and-greet with the public would be hysterical as they try to ensure shaking enough hands while holding a sponsoring beverage in the other.  Shoot, the State of the Union address would have everyone sitting and listening to the president while an aide did the old “hat dance” (where the winning driver had to briefly wear a hat from each of the race’s sponsors during the post-race interview) as they sat in the gallery.  I’d almost pay to see that!

The current political climate is already bragging and complaining about money raised and spent and who has how much.  Sure, they say we have “free” elections — but don’t take that too literally.  We’ll pay for it, for good or for bad, one way or another.

Political rant for the day (prospects for more are good).

I’ve been trying to stay out of the political fray in this blog because I know there are TONS of bloggers who are better at it (and many who are not), more popular, and people like a variety of subjects to read.  But today, I’ve just had it.  I’ve had it with the media and the talking heads of the national and local news stations yammering about certain topics while completely ignoring others and I’m tired of it.  Not just tired; sick and tired.  And everyone knows that’s the worst tired to be.  So, for today, I’m gonna rant ’cause it’s my blog and I’ll rant if I want.

First order of business in this rant — there were two caucuses and a primary this week.  Just two days ago on this past Tuesday for those who didn’t know.  They were held in the states of Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri, respectively.  Rick Santorum won the majority of votes in all three contests.  However, Mitt Romney, days before the Missouri primary, said that Missourians were having a “beauty contest” instead of a primary because their votes “wouldn’t count.”  Hmmm….clever way Mitt to get people to not turn-out to complete their civic duty and participate in a right given to them by the government in a state where you weren’t very popular.

For those who kept saying the Republican Party was wasting millions of dollars in having a Primary that “wouldn’t count” and that it was incredibly irresponsible on the part of Missouri to allow it — let’s look at the law.  The State of Missouri has a law that sets the date of the primary and for 2012 it was set, by that law, for February 7th.  The law was enacted when other states had moved their primary dates forward and Missouri wanted its primary to still be “relevant” in picking the candidates for president, regardless of political party.  The Republican National Committee (RNC) set the rules that required all states with the exception of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina to wait until March 6th to have their “contests” or risk losing half of the delegates for their state when it comes time for the RNC Convention later this year.  That rule was enacted after Missouri and other states had changed their primary laws.  Because the law is on the books in Missouri, the State legislature attempted to pass a resolution to move the date so that the primary would be in “compliance with the RNC” and that they wouldn’t have to risk losing delegates.  Whether you believe the statements that the Missouri Legislature just didn’t act in time or that the Governor (a Democrat) helped to block the change of date in order to cause the problem, the fact remains that a change couldn’t be passed and the State of Missouri was required by law to hold the primary last Tuesday.

So, of course all of the Republican candidates who weren’t going to have a great showing in Missouri decided to make fun of the predicament the people of the Show-Me-State were in or, in the case of Newt Gingrich, didn’t appear on the ballot at all.  What people are conveniently forgetting is that the primary wasn’t only for Republicans.  Democratic candidates and even a Libertarian candidate appeared on their respective party’s ballots in Missouri.  Even Republican candidates who have long since cancelled their campaigns appeared and some even got votes!  Everyone just assumes that President Obama will receive the nomination again for the Democratic Party, but technically the votes cast by any Democrats towards the choosing of a candidate would count since the Democratic National Committee (DNC) didn’t make any changes to their rules/regulations regarding primary dates.  So the delegates selected by the primary in Missouri for the Democrats will count.  Only the Republicans have to assemble again on March 17th in a caucus to select the delegates for the RNC Convention.  And, any registered voter in the state who declares themself to be a Republican can participate in the caucus — so even though the popular vote was for Santorum, the caucus vote could change.

But to say that “Missourians’ votes didn’t count” is just wrong.  The people of Missouri who went to vote weren’t there just for a presidential nominating primary.  Many cities, towns, counties, and municipalities had issues on the ballot that needed votes.  Many, regardless of their political affiliation, went to vote on some controversial issues.  Those votes most certainly counted.  The decisions they made that day on those amendments and/or referendums impact the lives of Missourians very much and those who were dissuaded from voting by presidential candidates saying that their votes “wouldn’t count” were completely misled.  And they were misled by the people who want to be the next leader of the country!  How despicable is that?  It’s like waving a flag that says, “Yes!  You can trust me because I’m an honest leader but only when it suits me and I really don’t feel the need to waste my time on you!”  Any candidate who would directly or indirectly try to influence a registered voter to NOT vote should NOT be allowed to be a candidate for president (in my opinion, for whatever that’s worth).

The second order of business in this rant is my complete frustration and disgust with the media, especially the national media, to continue their blackout of Dr. Ron Paul’s candidacy.  And don’t act like you’ve not noticed it — even major networks like CNN have admitted that they’ve been purposefully non-reporting anything about his campaign.  Just watch the debates — who gets pushed to the side of the group and not asked very many questions?  And it’s incredibly stupid for the media to do that (1) when there are questions for which Dr. Paul is more than competent to answer (medical issues come to mind) and (2) when the public is watching closely to see just how biased the network really is.  And regardless if you’re a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or any other party affiliation, you should be demanding that they treat Dr. Paul with the same courtesy they do the other candidates.  Last night I was watching the NBC Nightly News and it was said, loud and clear, that there were three Republican candidates.  Who dropped out??  Romney?  Santorum?  Gingrich?  If they’re saying that there are only three Republicans left in the fight, then it had to be one of them because Ron Paul has said he’ll stay until it’s “mathematically impossible” for him to win enough delegates and that time certainly hasn’t come yet.

Is this a campaign speech in favor of Ron Paul?  Not necessarily.  I have the candidate in mind that I would like to win.  I’m incredibly glad to see many of the candidates drop-out of the race and feel some of them took way too long to do so.  However, I certainly know that if I were running for office that I would want to have the same coverage that the other candidates receive.  I’m not saying that every single candidate should get 24/7 news feeds and you can usually tell who is and who isn’t really in the race for the long-haul and committed to actually getting elected.  If I didn’t have enough money to put as many commercials on television as the other candidates, that would be my issue and I’d have to really work hard on fundraising.  But to give a speech somewhere or participate in a televised debate and be basically ignored while the media fawns all over the “big name” (i.e. “big money”) candidates is just not fair.  And to be completely omitted by a national news program when you’re (1) still on the ballot, (2) still campaigning, (3) haven’t stopped your campaign, and (4) are the number-one recipient of campaign contributions from active duty service members and their families is offensive.

Children are taught in school that anyone (who is a native-born citizen of the United States over the age of 35 and has lived in the US for over 14 years) can grow up to become the president.  The media is teaching them otherwise.  And since the American people are becoming more and more “educated” by mass media and turning into sheep that follow only what the famous and wealthy have to say, I guess I shouldn’t say I’m surprised at this turn of events.  It still ticks me off royally, but I shouldn’t be surprised.  What I am doing, though, is educating my children in their political rights and making sure that both (only one is eligible to vote at the moment, though) understand that it is a civic duty; it is a right given as part of their citizenship in this nation; and that if they decide they don’t want to or don’t care about voting, then they really have no right to complain when things don’t go their way.

My political editorial – Come back to reality, Mittens!!

Okay….it’s Wednesday and I was going to blog about my therapy session today.  We talked about some things I’ve posted on my blog, some responses I’ve received, and other issues in my life.  It was a nice, typical session.  My therapist was just surprised that I wasn’t there as early before my appointment as usual and thought I was going to skip-out today.  I told her that I’d gotten on a rant and had to finish a post.  She asked if it was here on my blog and I told her it was on my Facebook page.  But, under the circumstances, it belongs here too.

Those who’ve been reading my posts for the past month know that I’ve been trying to stay out of the political fray.  Politics and religion.  Two topics on which I have very strong opinions that many in my family and circle(s) of friends disagree.  That’s why I don’t bring them up.  But today, a statement was made that is being argued and will be for a LONG time to come.  Or, at least until the speaker figures out that he’s made a complete idiot out of himself with it and goes away (my opinion).

I’m sure you’ve already heard, but today on CNN, Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney — who just the night before won the Florida Primary — said that he’s not concerned about poor people.  Well, not exactly.  He said he’s not concerned about the “very poor.”  Even that’s under debate.  Here’s part of the transcript:

“By the way, I’m in this race because I care about Americans.  I’m not concerned about the very poor.  We have a safety net there.  If it needs repair, I’ll fix it.  I’m not concerned about the very rich.  They’re doing just fine.  I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90, 95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.  I’ll continue to take that message across the nation.”

Okay…so let me sort of dissect this statement.  He’s not concerned about the “very poor” because they have a “safety net.”  He’s not concerned about the “very rich” because they’re “doing just fine.”  And he suggests that 90-95 percent of Americans are struggling right now.  What I’ve not been able to determine from his statement is this — when do the “poor” become “very poor” and the “very rich” become just “moderately comfortable” in his mind?

I’ve been “poor.”  I’ve been “very poor.”  I’ve been “very poor where you have to decide whether you and your child can eat or just him so you can pay your electric bill.”  I’ve been “very poor to the point where you apply for help but you’re told you’re not ‘poor enough’ for it even though you don’t have two nickels to rub together.”  I grew up poorer than my family would like to admit, I’m sure.  And, sadly, I know that with the state of the economy and the outlook for the future, my kids probably won’t have much to inherit from me and their success will be completely dependent upon them and the choices they make.  No huge nest egg waiting around for them like good-ol’ Mitt had.

But, just to show that I’m not trying to make a soundbite into a rant, let’s read the rest of the transcript from what was said next by Soledad O’Brien as she tried to let him reword his response:

O’Brien: “All right.  I know I said ‘last question,’ but I’ve got to ask you:  You just said, ‘I’m not concerned about the very poor because they have a safety net.’  And I think there are lots of very poor Americans who are struggling who would say, ‘That sounds odd.’  Can you explain that?”

Romney:  “Well, you had to finish the sentence, Soledad.  I said I’m not concerned about the very poor that have a safety net, but if it has holes in it, I will repair them.  The challenge right now — we will hear from the Democrat(ic) Party, the plight of the poor.  And there’s no question, it’s not good being poor.  And we have a safety net to help those that are very poor.

“But my campaign is focused on middle-income Americans.  My campaign — you can choose where to focus.  You can focus on the rich, that’s not my focus; you can focus on the very poor — that’s not my focus.  My focus is on middle-income Americans, retirees living on Social Security, people who can’t find work, folks that have kids that are getting ready to go to college.

“These are the people who have been most badly hurt during the Obama years.  We have a very ample safety net.  And we can talk about whether it needs to be strengthened or whether there are holes in it.  But we have food stamps, we have Medicaid, we have housing vouchers.  We have programs to help the poor.  But the middle-income Americans, they’re the folks that are really struggling right now, and they need someone who can help get this economy going for them.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa there!  Let’s back this train up and look at some of what he’s said — and let’s do it from the perspective of someone who’s been there.  Me.

“My focus is on middle-income Americans, retirees living on Social Security, people who can’t find work, folks that have kids that are getting ready to go to college.”  Well, Mitt, in my life I have family members who are retired and living on Social Security.  They’re always complaining about how it doesn’t help make ends meet and how poor they are, so that doesn’t sound like “middle-income” to me.  Also, my friends who have been looking for work (many for very extended periods of time) would probably not categorize their familial budgets within the “middle-income” range since they don’t have an income because they are looking for work!  And those with kids in college — if it weren’t for Eldest Son’s Paternal Grandfather who retired as a professor from the university Eldest Son is currently attending, he probably wouldn’t be attending that college right now.  Why, you ask?  Because even though Husband works for the government and I work intermittently for the government (for now), we don’t qualify to be “middle-income” and can’t afford the tuition, even with Pell Grant assistance.  That’s why Youngest Son is already making plans to attend a college where he’ll have to work his way through to pay the tuition because he knows by the time he graduates high school that anyone will be lucky if they can send their child to college.

“But we have food stamps, we have Medicaid, we have housing vouchers.”  I will agree that those programs do exist.  I will agree that there are people using those programs at this time.  I will also agree that there are many who would rather lose a limb than have to sign-up for those programs but would be homeless and starving without them.  I’ve had to use food stamps.  I’m not proud of it — but I made sure that as soon as I didn’t need them I got off of the program.  When I was pregnant with Youngest Son, I was begged by a County Health official to sign-up for WIC (Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program) and food stamps — not because I didn’t make enough (I actually made too much) but because they needed the numbers to keep their program going because too many women refused to enroll for what they thought was “charity” instead of a program designed to help them through their pregnancy and to ensure their child had a good start in life.

Then came the time when Husband wasn’t working and I was very ill.  Neither of us had any income and our savings had been depleted drastically.  We needed help but we didn’t want to ask for it.  However, we swallowed our pride and went to the government office to apply for food stamps so we could be sure there would be something to eat.  They asked to see our prior year’s taxes.  The year before, I had worked for several months and made an average amount in salary.  Husband wasn’t working and was staying home to homeschool Youngest Son while also serving in the National Guard.  After looking at our paperwork, we were told that even though we had absolutely no income at the time and our savings was severely depleted (read: gone), we did not qualify because I had worked the year before and all of that money should be available now.  Forget that there are bills to pay between when I earned it and the moment I was sitting in that chair — I had made money in the past and regardless of my inability to work due to severe illness, we weren’t eligible for assistance.  As a matter of fact, the lady “assisting” us asked why we were wasting her time.  According to her and her little chart on her desk, we were “middle-income” enough.

Mitt seems to forget that the majority of the “middle-income” voters he’s referring to are only a paycheck away from being “very poor” and are pretty furious right about now.  He also forgets that the “very poor” vote just as much as the “very rich” do.  Yes, believe it or not — many of the “very poor” are bussed to polling centers by *gasp* Democratic candidates and their staffers, encouraged all the while to “Vote for Our Candidate” while being offered free coffee, donuts, or whatever it is that gets them on the bus.  Many people agree with that practice and many others disagree with it.  However, if you look in “very poor” areas of our largest cities, you’ll find that a LOT of votes are cast!  Meanwhile, in the “middle-income” areas, a lot of them who actually are “middle-income” or “moderately comfortable” aren’t voting as much.  Many are too busy trying to work long hours at one or more jobs and perhaps can’t get time-off to go vote.  Others are incredibly disenfranchised with the political system as a whole (wonder what caused that??) and don’t care anymore.  And the apathy they have regarding whether or not to vote spills out into their community and their children’s beliefs on whether or not it’s worth bothering to vote when there’s something good on TV.

You’d think someone who touts how intelligent he is and how he’s so good at creating (and taking away) jobs and knowing what the American public is thinking and how they’ll vote would have figured that out.

I’d suggest that Mitt stay out of the “very poor” neighborhoods ’cause many of the “poor” would be more than willing to show how rich they really are — in their values, their pride, and possibly with a good-ol’ fashioned butt-kickin’!

What he needs is someone to whap him upside the back of his head every time he makes a stupid remark like that.  He still isn’t worth my vote, but at least he might be more interesting to watch.

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