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Confessions of a reformed Republican

 

 

I have been a Republican most of my voting life. When I turned voting age I proudly marched down to my voter’s registration office and put my name on the rolls as a Republican.

I come from a long line of Republicans on my mother’s side and my father was the lone Democrat in a family of red-white-& blue blooded Republicans. I had the mistaken idea that Republicans were always right and the Democrats were so liberal they were almost communists. I don’t believe in voting a straight ticket but I had the philosophy of when in doubt vote Republican.

Disillusioned and disenchanted

The transformation was gradual and I’m not sure exactly when I changed, or if I did change. I don’t think I changed so much as the Republican Party did. The shift began sometime in the middle of George W. Bush’s reign term. The campaign and insistence of Bush to invade Iraq to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction had something to do with it. So did his “Mission Accomplished” speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln on May 1, 2003 when, clearly, the mission was not accomplished and many years of war were ahead.

I became cynical when I saw vice president Dick Cheney pull the strings from behind the scenes and interfere in areas that benefited his company, Halliburton. Cheney was chairman and CEO of Halliburton from 1995 to 2000. He retired from the company during the 2000 U.S. presidential election but still received stock options and other payments from the company. During his term as vice president, Halliburton was allowed to bid unopposed on government contracts. Cheney is also responsible for the infamous Bush/Cheney loophole of the Clean Water Act. Halliburton is a prominent player in the relatively new fracking industry and Cheney was successful in eliminating a disclosure of chemicals used in the fracking process. They claimed it prevented competitors from stealing their formulas but it also exempts these companies from having to meet strict EPA regulations and endangers the water supplies.

I became even more disenchanted when John McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate. She is an embarrassment to the female population. She makes a good cheerleader but is ignorant of political and foreign affairs and basic fifth grade history.

Mitt the Twit

I thought the current presidential Republican candidate would be more intelligent and informed but it looks like he came out of the same mold as Palin. His trip abroad this summer, which was intended to showcase his foreign affairs savvy, only made him look more foolish. The Brits began calling him Mitt the Twit because of his blunders. Who in his right mind goes to our long-time ally and insults them by saying they are not ready to host the Olympics on the eve of its opening? He then went to Israel and insulted the Palestinians with a comment about their “culture”; and, as an equal opportunity abuser, he insulted the Jews by referring to a stereotype of the Jews.

Romney further exhibited his incompetency in foreign affairs by issuing a statement regarding the attack on our Embassy in Libya calling Obama’s handling of the violence “disgraceful” and accusing the administration of sympathizing with the attackers. He was too quick to jump to the party line of portraying the president as always apologizing for the U.S.’s actions and made a fool of himself in the process.

In addition to individuals within the party I am also upset with the Republican Party as whole for their stand on women, birth control, and no abortions in cases of rape and incest. The party wants to set back the women’s movement to the 1950’s when women stayed home, cooked, cleaned, wore house dresses with pearls (think Harriet Nelson in Ozzie and Harriet), and never had an original thought. In addition, the middle class and below is looked down upon as evidenced in Romney’s latest comments about 47% of the people not wanting to work or pay taxes and sponge off the government. The party has become the party of the 1% and the “wanna be’s”; that is, those who want to be part of the 1% and think that some of it will rub off on them if they vote Republican.

Mind polluting and propaganda spewing

And we can’t forget the plundering, pontificating, mind-polluting, propaganda-spewing duo of Limbaugh and Beck. Nothing more needs to be said about this Republican self-promoting tag team.

Compounding these issues is the Tea Party and the “religious right” who think they have all the answers and if you don’t agree with them you are not only wrong but also ungodly and un-American. The way the party is now I don’t understand how any middle-class American, woman, minority, or disadvantaged can vote Republican.

I looked around and thought, “What the hell is going on? This party does not represent who I am or what I believe.” At that moment I woke up and became a “reformed Republican.”

Reformed and rehabilitated

Yes, I am now a proud reformed, rehabilitated Republican. The party took a sharp right turn and left me in the middle of the road seeking my own path down the center between far-right Republican extremism and bleeding-heart liberal Democrats. I think I will start a third party called the RRA (reformed rehabilitated Americans). It is open to disillusioned voters of all parties who want to restore integrity and sanity to our government. Anyone with me?

The People of Ohio Speak Up for the Middle Class

 

The people of Ohio stood up and said to Gov. Kasich and the Republican controlled legislature in a loud and clear voice, “We are mad as hell and we aren’t going to take it anymore!” The referendum on SB 5 was defeated across party lines by 61% to 39%.

The fight over Issue 2, which would have stripped collective bargaining rights from many hard-working middle class people, proved to be a battle ground for rights and dignity for the Ohio workers. It was a battle that was far more than just Republicans versus Democrats, or union versus non-union, or even the haves versus the have-nots; it was a battle for the right to be heard. Ohioans and the American people in general are fair, intelligent and reasonable when treated with respect and given the opportunity to participate in problem solving sessions.

Gov. Kasich’s bus finds a roadblock

When Gov. Kasich rode into office a year ago he came with an arrogant attitude that said it is my way or the highway. He literally told a gathering of reporters and lobbyists that if you aren’t on his bus he is going to run you over. What he didn’t consider is—if you get enough people surrounding the bus then it isn’t going anywhere. Some tried to get on his bus but found the doors closed and others began looking for another mode of transportation. Now the people have found their own bus and are driving it straight toward Kasich and his buddies.

At his concession speech Gov. Kasich said he will take some time to listen but then defiantly announced that local governments should not expect a state bailout. People don’t want bailouts. They want to work. They want the opportunity to bring management and workers to the table to discuss among themselves their problems and work out a solution benefitting all. It is called negotiating and compromise.

Ohioans won’t tolerate disrespect

Former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland noted how state workers took 20 furlough days and pay freezes to help him balance the budget. “The impression that was given to the public was that public employees aren’t willing to participate. I think they have been and will continue to be,” Strickland said. “But they are not going to take disrespect, and they aren’t going to tolerate name-calling. If this administration understands that, then I think there could be the ability to work together.”

Bill Leibensperger, vice president of the Ohio Education Association said, “There has always been room to talk. That’s what collective bargaining is about. You bring adults around a table to talk about serious issues.

Support crosses party lines

These issues were important to more than just the people directly affected by SB 5. We Are Ohio, the organization behind voting no on Issue 2, raised $30 million, four times that of the Republican Building a Better Ohio. In addition, more people voted against Issue 2—about 2.1 million—than voted Kasich into office in 2010—1.89 million. In a Quinnipiac Poll two weeks before the election, 32% of Republicans were opposed to SB 5.

Vice President Joe Biden issued a statement saying, “By standing with teachers and firefighters and cops, Ohio has sent a loud and clear message that will be heard all across the country: The middle class will no longer be trampled on.”

Grandma Quinn—“We showed him!”

But Grandma Quinn, the great-grandmother who unwilling became the face of the campaign, said it best when she said, “That showed (Kasich). We showed him.” Short, sweet, and to the point. I like that Grandma Quinn.

Yes, Ohio’s voice regarding treatment of the middle class was clear last night and loud enough to be heard across the nation, “We are mad as hell and we aren’t going to take it anymore!”

 

http://www.toledoblade.com/Politics/2011/11/08/Issue-2.html

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2011/11/08/1-issue-2-election.html

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/11/07/1033957/-Occupy-a-Voting-Booth,-Vote-No-on-Issue-2,-and-Defeat-John-Kasich

Liar, liar, pants on fire!

Vote NO on Issue 2

My conservative nature causes me to wince when I call a person a liar but in the case of Issue 2 there are no other words for what is happening. The supporters for Issue 2 have resorted to lies and smear campaigns to keep the legislation on the books that was SB 5.

 

Lie #1—State workers don’t pay their fair share for benefits

Gov. Kasich constantly says in his commercials that he is merely asking state workers to pay their fair share for benefits. He claims that he is asking state workers to pay 10 to 15% for their health care and retirement benefits. Well, guess what—they already pay that amount. My husband is a retired state worker and has paid into his benefits from the beginning. They also claim that it is unfair state and public workers get pension benefits for life! Yes, they do and should—those benefits aren’t a gift—they are what the workers have paid into instead of social security or a 401K. Considering the current debates nationally over social security, the Republicans should be happy with this because state workers do not get social security.

Lie #2—State workers are paid 43% more

State workers are paid 43% more! That is according to Kasich. REALLY? If that is true I want to know where all that extra money is. It certainly isn’t in our pockets. If public workers receive that much then everyone and his brother would be lined up for state jobs.

Lie #3—“Joe the Teacher” is no ordinary teacher

An ad which appears to be an ordinary teacher has been running in which he praises Issue 2. In reality, “Joe the Teacher” is Kyle Farmer, a self-described “political operative” who is chairman of the Fairfield County GOP. Farmer is not just an ordinary teacher but played a prominent role in Kasich’s 2010 campaign and has political ambitions of his own. It is rumored that he plans to run for the Ohio House of Representatives. Adding insult to injury, the small school district where he lives has already suffered a $330,000 in cuts or nearly 17% over the status quo.

Lie #4—Granny Gate

Perhaps the best example of the lies from this campaign is the now famous Grandma Quinn commercial in which the Vote Yes people took her emotional ad for voting NO, twisted her words, and took them out of context to make it appear she was in favor of Kasich’s SB 5. (See Opponents of “Vote No on Issue 2” stoop to new low—)Compounding this error was Kasich’s arrogant comment that he didn’t see anything wrong with this tactic saying “It is fine” and shifting the blame to his opponents who originally used the commercial.

Be reasonable and support the hard-working middle class

Now Kasich has become the smiling, innocent-looking face urging people to vote “yes” on Issue 2 and appealing to state workers that he is merely asking they pay their fair share. He is pleading for everyone to be “reasonable”. As I previously stated, state workers already pay their fair share so now it looks like it is time for Gov. Kasich to be reasonable.

State workers are not the problem. They are concerned, hard-working individuals who don’t deserve the blame for the economic mess this state is in—neither do the nurses, police, firefighters, or teachers. These are the people who make up the hard-working middle class that is quickly disappearing from the American scene.

This legislation is just another effort to decimate the middle class. The politicians turned their backs on this important segment of society when they passed SB 5. It took away the bargaining powers for unions in their dealings with government employees. Strikes are banned and so is binding arbitration for police and firefighters. In the event of a “stonewall” during negotiations, this bill gives the governing body rights to implement its own last offer, with no recourse for the unions/workers. This sounds dictatorial to me. Would you like to be in a job where you have no say in your pay or working conditions?

Behind the scenes stakes

Much more is at stake with the passage or failure of Issue 2 than just what may happen to government and public employees. It could also have a huge impact on the future of a two-party system in the state of Ohio and Gov. Kasich’s future in politics. When this bill went through the Senate, even Republicans in the Republican controlled senate foresaw problems and the bill narrowly passed by a vote of 17-16, even though they controlled 23 of the 33 seats.

Blind PAC arms of the Republican Party are pumping millions of dollars into the passage of Issue 2. This is seen as not just as an attempt to break the unions but also an attempt to weaken the Democratic Party. Traditionally the Democratic Party has been associated with the workers and the Republican Party has been associated with big business. Many see this campaign to break unions not only here in Ohio but other states as an attempt to weaken the Democratic Party over-all.  Dale Butland, a Columbus-based Democratic consultant, said many see the true motivation of this movement is to defund the Democratic Party and ensure a one-party rule….

Many agree that the world is not the same and changes need to be made. These are tough economic times and sacrifices are needed everywhere. However, when given the opportunity to voice their opinions and voluntarily work with management, the public workers have been very cooperative. They have given up over $1 billion dollars in pay and benefits over the last several years.

Be an educated voter

 Don’t fall for their lies. Let the legislators know that Ohioans are proud, responsible, and well-informed voters. We won’t allow one party or the other to impose heavy-handed, dictatorial measures on the workers of this state. A lot is riding on your vote. Support those who are the backbone of our society and vote NO on Issue 2 tomorrow, November 8.

 NOTE:  This blog post was written several days ago but when I tried to post it to my site the day before Election Day my internet connection mysteriously quit. Before posting I visited my blog site and I attempted to retrieve several articles from the Columbus Dispatch archives to add their links to the bottom of my post to verify facts within this text. During this research process my computer slowed to a stop until I could no longer access the internet. Now, the day of voting, my connection is again mysteriously restored. Polls will be closing within the hour and although it is too late to possibly influence anyone’s vote I am still posting this entry. I feel it contains important information people should know regardless of the outcome of the voting. Was I personally sabotaged and shut down by someone disagreeing with my politics? (It has happened in the past.) Did I pick up a virus from one the sites I visited? Or, was it fate? You be the judge. I will conduct an investigation and if I ever find an answer I will keep you informed. If any other bloggers have had a similar experience I would like to know. We must protect free speech.

 

http://www.rr.com/news/topic/article/rr/9000/54960035/Eyes_of_nation_on_Ohio_vote_on_union-limiting_law/full/

 

Get’R Done

Picture of Larry the Cable Guy

Image via Wikipedia

Over the approximately 20 year’s experience of sitting on boards, I have decided that the act of governing is a nasty business. Most boards are composed of what I call the 4 Ds—dreamers, doers, doubters, and downers. Each individual group, if gone unchecked, can cause ruin for the organization, but with each working together and compromising, I find a workable solution always appears.

I have served every position on boards except treasurer (I’m a words person not a numbers person) from president to non-voting advisor. I have also served on various types of boards from church boards to professional organizations to non-profit organizations. The board is elected by the general membership to run the daily business of the organization (from maintaining the physical plant and staff to paying bills) to charting the future and setting goals for the organization.

 Many times while sitting at a board table I have pictured the organization as a boat with rowers on both sides—the dreamers and doers on one side and the doubters and downers on the other. In order for the boat to move ahead each side must work hard applying equal energy so the boat moves forward in a straight line. I am always amazed watching debates on the boards as each side energetically argues its position until someone in the middle suggests a compromise that encompasses both views.

This is true democracy in action where people come together and speak freely until a solution is found. Ideally, our federal government is an extension of this metaphor only on a grander scale. I must admit I am not the first to come up with this metaphor as Plato wrote about it and so did Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in his immortal poem “O Ship of State” but my views aren’t as grandiose as Plato and Longfellow because I see the working mechanics where they were talking about the state itself.

This form of governing has worked well for thousands of years until now. Now we have a new party in our governmental mix known as the Tea Party. Don’t get me wrong, I have been in favor of a third party for years to break up the gridlock in Washington but I was hoping that third party would be composed of intelligent people who would listen to both the Democrats and Republicans and be the ones to work out a compromise between the two. However, it seems what we have is a bunch of not-so-intelligent people determined to hold their own line in the sand and not bend either way. In other words, we have a road block that only complicates the gridlock in Washington. I admire people who stand on principle and I have done so many times, myself, even to the detriment of me or my reputation. However, I have never done so when it meant the total collapse or downfall of the organization I was representing. Something each elected representative should keep in mind is he or she is there for the good of the whole. The Tea Party has not acted responsibly for the good of the whole nation. They have brought us to the brink of collapse standing on principle of a few regardless of what is good for the nation. There always comes a time in a debate where both sides need to recognize the merits of the opposing view and work to find a middle meeting point. As much as I dislike certain elements of both the Democrats and Republicans they have always eventually compromised, shook hands, and continued to the next problem like civilized citizens. I’m afraid I can’t say the same for the roadblock in the middle called the Tea Party.

While serving on both professional and non-profit boards there was always a certain professionalism that pervaded the atmosphere with unspoken rules in effect where each recognized the importance of the work we had to do. Everyone also recognized that a business does not operate the same as a family unit and a business or organizational budget and financial responsibilities were not exactly the same as a family budget. Serving on a church board that is composed of professionals, homemakers, entrepreneurs, laborers, and both educated and uneducated has always been a challenge because not everyone has the business background needed for running an organization. During one intense debate over the church’s budget a woman with no business experience was resisting paying the staff and couldn’t understand why we needed to pay a choir director. She asked why someone in the choir couldn’t stand in front and wave his arms. Others felt that all staff members including the minister, secretary, custodian, etc. should serve on a volunteer basis. Still others didn’t understand that electric and gas bills needed to be paid. Some never understood the concept of “the cost of doing business”.

I fear people with this same mentality are making up the Tea Party. They are so far behind in basic knowledge of how government operates and what is expected of them that they are holding up progress. They are feeling empowered from their limited success in the last election and are boldly taking advantage of that power. This is a democracy and everyone has the right to be heard. They have been heard but now it is time to either become a player or step aside so the business of governing can continue. We sent our representatives to Washington to do a job so, in the words of Larry the Cable Guy, “Get-r-done!”

 

 

 

 

WHY WE NEED TO SAVE THE ARTS

I have several passions in life and the arts are one of them. I’m not sure why I’m so passionate about preserving the arts, perhaps it is because I never received much of an education and thus an opportunity to explore the arts as a young child.

I was in the first wave of baby boomers after the war and the overwhelmed schools were too busy shoving us into crowded classrooms to worry about the arts. To complicate matters, I moved in the ninth grade from a school system that waited until the ninth grade to introduce study in music and art to a system that covered these subjects in earlier grades. Thus, I have never had a real art or music class where I studied the basics of these subjects and then had an opportunity to participate in these activities. Most of my art education has been self-taught by joining choirs and visiting art museums, concerts, plays, ballets, etc. I think this early deprivation created a real yearning in my soul for an outlet for self-expression. Perhaps that is why I drifted toward writing.

Another popular belief during my childhood was that since we were to be the leaders in the new post war society our studies should be more about the basics such as math, science and basic writing skills. Anything in the arts was frivolous and must take a back seat to progress. But wait, this argument sounds very familiar! Over ten years ago I was a lobbyist for the arts in the schools and those are the very words I heard legislators use as they half-heartedly listened to arguments for and against revamping the educational system in efforts to establish a fair and equitable education for all. It was a huge law suit called DeRolf vs. State of Ohio first filed in 1991. The suit eventually died in 2003. I could give you the legal mumbo jumbo attached to the case but the best way to summarize it is to say it died due to politics.

Now politics threatens to endanger the very arts themselves. The Republicans have been nipping at the heels of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for years and now the Republican dominated congress is threatening to drastically trim the NEA budget or even eliminate it. The Republican Study Committee, led by Rep. Jim Jordan of Urbana, wants to eliminate the NEA budget altogether. Why should this matter to you? For one thing, Ohio arts groups have received $8.8 million from the NEA since 2007. About half that went to the Ohio Arts Council which then issues grants to smaller groups around the state. I was once a member of the board of a community concert association that received a grant from the Ohio Arts Council and I can tell you that money was greatly appreciated. It enabled us to bring in big names and quality acts to our small community. We received many letters of thanks for our long hours of volunteer work but the most rewarding one was from a patron who brought her recently widowed friend to a show. She said that was the first time in months her friend had smiled and was able to forget her troubles.

You may think you are not a patron of the arts and the arts have no affect on your life. I challenge you to stop what you are doing right now and look around you. Is music playing in the background or is the TV turned on? Musicians are providing the music. Writers wrote the script for the TV show, designers created the sets, fashion designers created the wardrobe, artists painted the sets and provided pictures for the walls, and actors made the story come alive. Do you have art work on your walls? An artist created it. The furniture you are sitting on was designed by a designer. The building you are in was designed by an architect. The magazine on your coffee table houses a multitude of artists from commercial artists, to photographers, to writers. The public buildings you were in today required the cooperation of various architects, interior designers, commercial artists, etc. Art is in every aspect of our lives.

Now, take it all away. Turn off the music, turn off the TV, close the movie theatres, silence the orchestras and bands, take away all color, make all buildings a square box, make all fabrics plain and beige. What kind of world would we have? Whether you know it or not, we need our artists. Help save the arts. Get involved with your local arts groups, community theatre, concert associations, choirs, bands, etc. If you aren’t talented enough to be able to participate, then show your support by being an enthusiastic audience member. Support these groups with you time and financial gifts. Let your representatives know that you support the arts and we need the National Endowment for the Arts

Hendrik Willem Van Loon, known for writing about the arts in history and winner of the first Newbery Medal in 1922 said:

The arts are an even better barometer of what is happening in our world than the stock market or the debates in congress.