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 tag “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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Can we say “discrimination?” I thought we could!

*Insert loud screaming in frustration noise here*

Well, I just heard from my Equal Rights counselor regarding my long “quest” to find out why I wasn’t reappointed to my job and to try to get it back.  I still have another phone call coming from her when she receives the message of whether or not the person she is dealing with has the right to reappoint me or not.  At the moment, however, I couldn’t give crap one if they try to reappoint me to my old position.  There’s no way I could possibly stand to work for these people after what I was just told they said about me and my disability!

So, quick rundown before I have to go grab another Xanax.  The main Equal Rights Officer I worked with last year to get my reasonable accommodations to have Celeste come to work with me stated that I had proven that I had a disability and with all the letters from therapists, doctors, co-workers, and the trainer of my service dog that I had proven the need and should be allowed to bring her with me.  My assistant Cadre Manager signed-off on all of the paperwork and sent me a memo stating how in the future I was to notify her when I was deploying with Celeste and the rules/regulations that I would have to follow for having her in our field offices.  Basic stuff, all approved, all signed, and copies (both physical and electronic) are saved for my records.

Then, the counselor contacted my Cadre Manager and his assistant to speak with them on why I wasn’t reappointed to my job.  He stated that he’d heard my name but didn’t know who I was.  He also stated that he knew that there were issues last year with me bringing Celeste and problems at the office (which there weren’t any from her, just from others who wanted to pet and play with her) and that she was not a “service animal” but was a “comfort dog.”  Really??  Since when did he become so educated on what constitutes the difference between a SD (service dog) and an ESA (emotional support animal)??  And this is a man I’ve only ever spoken to once since I started working for him in 2009 because he never returned my emails or phone calls and I always had to go through his assistant.

And speaking of his assistant, she was very quiet throughout the interview.  I have her signature approving my request for reasonable accommodation but she told the counselor that all of that was handled at headquarters by the ERO officers.

I was right!!  They were discriminating against me when they didn’t reappoint me.  The Cadre Manager stated that my “comfort dog” would cause a problem and I couldn’t be deployed or retained because of it.  Also, he said that he had to drastically reduce the number of people he had employed but he only released two people in my section.  I guess all of the people who I trained last year will be able to go on to have full employment and success now.

I’m not expecting to get my job back because he said he’d be happy to write a letter of recommendation for me (which was the easy-out option given if they weren’t going to keep me) and I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t want me back anyway now that I know what I know.  But, I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

I’m shocked.  I’m flabbergasted.  I can’t believe that someone would be so bold to basically state outright that my disability is the reason they didn’t keep me — especially since this is a FEDERAL position and there are FEDERAL laws to protect the disabled.

You can be sure I’ll keep things updated as more info comes in.  However, for anyone who thought I was just uselessly chasing a dream, I’m not upset and I’m not going to dance around with my tongue sticking out and my fingers in my ears saying “I’m right and you were wrong!”  I’ve always had a tenacity to grab hold of something and see it all the way through to the end, regardless if I’m right or I’m wrong.  I’m glad that I have that now because I have proof that I was right this time.  And anyone who feels that they’ve been wronged should be brave enough to stand-up for what they believe in and fight for what is right.  I hope I’ve been a good example.

Now I need to try to relax before I pop a vein in my head.  That would kind of make going on to a formal complaint process difficult.

We’ll see what happens now….

Today I got a call from an EEO/ERO person regarding my previous “quest” to find out why I’d not been reappointed to my employment position.  She asked a lot of questions; I gave a lot of answers; I forwarded a LOT of emails; and she said she’d be making some phone calls and would get back in touch with me.

I have no idea if it’s really going to make a difference or not.  This has been such a stupid thing that I almost don’t care which way it turns out.  But, note that I said “almost” in that last sentence.  I’m still very proud of the work I did with that agency and believe that I still have/had many years left to help others.

If nothing else, it gives me one more step towards closure.  Who knows what will happen?

Just my typical Type-A/OCD self — have to see it through all the way to the end regardless of the outcome.

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.

Interesting information intake

Today I sat down, against the protests of some of the voices in my head, and watched a videoconference from the organization with which I used to be employed.  I wanted to hear about their new goals for the future and how bright and rosy everything was going to be now that the riff-raff hadn’t been reappointed and were no longer employed.  Of course, it was easy to listen-in since the government has promised and promised to be more transparent and the video teleconference (VTC) was held on the Internet and not behind a protective firewall.

As all of the participating VTC locations were signing-in, I did see two disabled employees on one of the cameras.  One utilizes a wheelchair and one had a service dog with him.  This gives me hope that the entire organization wasn’t looking for a way to remove those with disabilities in order to be come a “more nimble organization.”  Now I know that I can just focus on the region which determined that eight years of experience, training, and qualifications weren’t enough because I don’t know many with disabilities from there that are still employed.

Anyway, I heard a lot of interesting information in this meeting.  In a quick summary — even if you were reappointed to your job, that doesn’t mean you still have one after the end of the year.  Those who were reappointed were extended until 31 December 2012 but if they don’t remember to reapply for the new program (or just decide they don’t want to apply for it) then their job is gone.  And when they reapply, they do have some preference because they’re currently working and are already qualified for the job, but if they don’t apply early enough or aren’t really qualified enough they might not keep their job.  And there are over 3,000 vacancies that they need to fill in addition to the appointed positions that are currently filled.  So if a bunch decide they don’t want to play by the new rules or don’t qualify for their jobs, there will be even more positions available for new people — or new “old” people, like me — to take.

I found all of that very, very interesting.  For so long I’ve heard many who were reappointed gloating over the fact that they still have a job and that those of us who weren’t must have been lazy, stupid, or any number of other reasons for not being as good as they are.  Now to know that they have to reapply for their own job is making many very nervous.

The times, they are a changing.  The “good-ol’ boy” network won’t be around because the people who used to run it won’t be in charge anymore.  A lot of things that people took for granted have been identified and are being eliminated.  Streamlining the program is making a lot of people upset and some have started to say that it’s not worth sticking around through the changes.  If they’re that shallow, let them leave.  The job is to help others, not just line your pockets when you feel like being out because of someone else’s misfortune.

Will I reapply?  Sure.  I have nothing to lose.  I’ll apply for positions I want, though, rather than where they just stick people.  That’s what happened eight years ago when I first started working with them.  I wanted to do one type of job; was told I’d be much more qualified for something else that I really wanted to do; and ended up in a job that I enjoyed but really wasn’t as excited about.  Maybe this will be the way I’ll be able to find my place and use my talents in the best way possible for myself and the people served by the organization.

And, as I said, if I don’t get rehired I don’t lose anything other than a little time applying for the jobs.  I don’t have one now so I can’t lose something I don’t have.  I’m still going to advocate for equal employment rights.  It’s very near and dear to me.  And if all of my questioning and investigating keeps me from getting a job, so be it.  I’m going to do what I think is right for me for a change and not just what everyone else wants me to do.

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.

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