Sunday, August 23, 2015

Compare Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump Campaigns? Okay…

Let’s do that on basic level that should make the elements obvious to anyone capable of objective reasoning. First, how is the media presentation of the two campaigns? No doubt, Donald Trump has had far more practice at attracting media attention than Bernie Sanders.

There is a swirl of media attention around Donald. Most of it comes in terms of how he is upsetting the other GOP candidates’ chances for the nomination. It is difficult not to watch when he comes onto the newscast behind a microphone-lined podium. One cannot help but wonder what he can say that is more offensive or obnoxious than anything he has said already.

Bernie is getting a reasonable amount of attention from the Sunday morning talking heads shows. The discussion, however, is generally focused on his opponents rather than Bernie. An interview is also not likely to happen without attempts to get him to speak negatively of his opponents.

A look at the social media campaign will show a distinct contrast between the two candidates. Donald’s pattern is rambling of sentences beginning with the first person pronoun. This is followed by a barrage of negative comments against all who do, or might, oppose him. Social media is simply an extension of what Donald boasts or attacks from the podium.

Bernie’s social media broadcasts are as consistent as what he has been saying for the last forty years. If any group or individual feels an attack from Bernie, it is because they are the side that cares nothing of majority of the American people or the disappearing middle class. Bernie shouts out for campaign finance reform, income and wealth equality, racial equality, women’s rights, education for all, reforming Wall Street, and saving the environment.

When it comes to their following it is hard to discount the loyalty to both Bernie and Donald. Both candidates’ supporters seem be of the political fringes of the country. Both are fed up with the status quo. The difference, like the candidates, lies in the behavior and core values of the two groups of followers.

One need not look far to find Donald supporters making comments that are baseless and, more often than not, crass. Any attempt to engage them with logic, however neutral the attempt might be, will be met with unimaginable vehemence. The question, however, is how will Donald win the nomination without the support of nearly everyone in the country who is of a minority or traditionally oppressed group of people?

Bernie’s lack of the celebrity status that Donald holds gives Donald an obvious recognition advantage around the country. Bernie, however, has been consistently growing larger crowds. No other candidate seems able to repeatedly replicate the large crowds.  Phoenix, on July 11 for example, netted a crowd of 11,000 for Bernie.

On that same day in Phoenix, Donald claims to have drawn a crowd of 15,000. The number seems unlikely, however, in a venue with fire code capacity for only 4000. Even a huge overflow could not have more than the tripled the venue capacity.

Bernie went on, with a west coast tour in August, to set even higher crowd records that capped with 27,500 in Los Angeles. Donald recently boasted huge numbers in Mobile, Alabama. With a venue capacity for 43,000, estimates have ranged from 20,000 to, as high as 50,000. Donald has quoted 30,000. Even at 20,000, to his credit, he has outdone the other Republican candidates.

The following of both of these candidates represents the frustration of the status quo that continues to take the country into an overall downward spiral. That is, however, where the similarity ends. The differences are simple and profound.

One candidate will do and say whatever will draw attention to his campaign. His campaign rhetoric and his supporters are mean-spirited. He is a demagogue, at best.

The other candidate wants a better life or Americans, in order that they might rebuild a better America. In doing so he expects to expand the middle class, rather than reduce it. He has been carrying the same message for forty years.

Bernie Sanders is unwavering in his belief of what is best for our country. He fights without want of fame or glory. He fights this fight because a political revolution is necessary.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Politicans for Sale

A billionaire was on his way to his Manhattan penthouse after a business trip to Aruba. Through the dark-tinted glass of his limousine, he spotted something very strange at the curbside. It was an odd looking vending machine with a sign on it that read POLITICIANS FOR SALE.

There was a parking spot next to the machine that was marked RESERVED PARKING FOR VENDING MACHINE USE ONLY – LIMIT 10 MINUTES. The limousine was nearly past the spot already. The rich man instructed his driver to circle around the block and come back to the vending machine.

When the car was stopped at the curb alongside of the vending machine, a touch screen lit up with two choices. One read PRESS FOR INSTRUCTIONS TO PURCHASE A POLITICIAN. The other choice read simply CANCEL. The rich man was not about to cancel at this point. He was insanely curious if there was really an easy way to buy a politician.

The screen was within reach of the rich man’s seat in his limousine. He put down the car window and pressed for instructions. The next screen read FOR YOUR PRIVACY AND SECURITY YOU MUST ACCEPT A SHROUD OVER YOU AND YOUR VEHICLE. The choices read ACCEPT and DECLINE.

When the rich man pressed ACCEPT, there was noise of machinery moving as a huge shroud rose out of the pavement in a perimeter around the area and covered the limousine and vending machine. There was distinct sound of latching when the shroud secured at the top. The screen lit up.

You will have offers to purchase politicians at various levels of government.  After completing each purchase you will be given the option to upgrade. Upgrades will cancel the previous purchase. NO REFUNDS OR CREDITS WILL BE GIVEN.  All deposits on a previous purchase are automatically forfeited and cannot be applied to the next purchase whether you make the next level purchase or cancel.

Do you accept these terms? The rich man pressed YES.

The next screen was a menu that read:

The rich man did not want any small potatoes. He pressed NATIONAL LEVEL. The next three screens gathered the rich man’s name, personal information and banking information for transferring of funds to make a purchase.


The rich man did not need to think long. He had enough judges in his pocket already. He had more lobbyists than any rich man could ever want. He even owned a few House members and a couple of senators.
He pressed SENATOR. The rich man could always use another senator. The screen gave more choices.

LEVEL ONE SENATOR      $100,000
Will legislate to cut education and social programs to reduce your taxes.

LEVEL TWO SENATOR     $200,000
Will legislate to cut education, social programs and get huge tax breaks for you.

Will legislate to cut education, social programs, get tax breaks for the wealthy, and reverse environmental restrictions.

Will legislate to cut education, social programs, get tax breaks for the wealthy, reverse environmental restrictions and relax trade barriers to allow exporting of jobs and import of cheap products with huge profit margins.

The rich man was glowing with greed. Owning a few level four senators could negate the need for expensive lobbyists and buying unpredictable judges. It was more than he could have imagined. He pressed LEVEL FOUR.

The next screen had a CONFIRM button and a SPECIAL OFFER button. For a total of only $1.5 million the rich man could have a total of five senators. He could not believe this deal as he accepted the offer.

The next screen had another CONFIRM button and, yet, another special offer. BUY A U.S.PRESIDENT. This was way beyond too good to be true but the rich man could not resist. A few senators were nothing compared to owning the president. He touched the screen.

A reminder and confirmation came up to tell the rich man that his deposit of $1.5 million for the five senators would be forfeited and would not be applied to the purchase of a president. The rich man snorted in amusement as he touched the CONFIRMATION.

The screen gave two choices of presidents.

INCUMBENT PRESIDENT                               $100 million
No promises but every possible pressure will be used to block anything that the incumbent tries to do that does not directly benefit the wealthy.

PRESIDENT ELECT                                           $10 billion
Guaranteed to be sympathetic to the wants of the wealthy, without regard to the whining of the liberal constituency. More than willing to start war with another country for control of natural resources and corporate profit of war materials.

There was no point to buying an incumbent. Besides, his term was nearly over. The best buy would be a president elect with strings attached to do the bidding of the rich man and his friends.

The rich man touched PRESIDENT ELECT. To his amazement there was yet another level available for purchase. A lifetime as member in the WORLD RULING ELITE was being offered for the one time dues fee of one-trillion dollars.
This offer slowed the rich man down somewhat. A trillion dollars was a lot of money, even for a rich bastard like him. There was a warning written in fine print with the WORLD RULING ELITE choice.

WARNING: The intent of the World Ruling Elite to claim all of the wealth and power of the world for themselves. The World Ruling Elite has no loyalty to nations, gods or races of people. There will eventually be mass casualties manifested in the form of common people as victims of starvation, pandemic, war and natural disaster. Those with a conscience should not make this purchase as you will, no doubt be haunted by your decision. It is not the intent of World Ruling Elite to allow the total extinction of the working class as some of them will be needed to serve us. Adequate crumbs will be thrown to the stronger among them in order that they might survive as loyal and dependable servants for the Elite.

The rich man read through the warning quickly. With no conscience to hold him he touched the button to purchase his membership. The screen flashed with a final message as if a casino jackpot had just been won.

Congratulations! You have just proven that there is no end to human greed and want of power.

For the reader who is looking for the ending or the punch line anticipated from what might have been perceived as an anecdote, this no joke. The problem is real. If you do not understand campaign finance reform, you are not alone. As a citizen, however, you should learn as much as you can and support only those of our political leaders who have not been bought nor can be bought in the future. We owe this to the future generations.

The system is broken.
Only grassroots activism will fix it.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

It Is Simply About Money

Most of us are too busy in our daily lives to take enough interest in politics to have a good understanding of what is going on. The mudslinging TV ads bombard us for the campaign season and we are always thankful when it is over. We either don’t vote because we don’t believe that we can make a difference or we vote, not feeling that it really mattered.

There has never been a more important time in the history of our country for the 99% of common citizens to believe that their vote counts. Very simply, our government has been sold to the wealthiest contributors. You owe it to yourselves and the next generation to learn, to understand and take action for a government that is truly of the people and for the people.

With few exceptions, the politicians who win elections are those who have the most money backing them for campaign ads and expenses. That leaves candidates no time to stay in touch with the entire constituency. Instead they are investing most of their time sucking up to wealthy donors. It would be naïve, at best, to believe that wealthy campaign donors are motivated by altruism.

It is the simple rule of tit for tat. When the elections are won, the donors expect to be taken care with legislation that will serve their own individual needs. The wealthy will profit. The poor are blamed for the troubles of the country. The middle class carries the tax burden.

The system is broken so badly that elections are actually bought. Given the right vehicle for contributing cash to a campaign, there is no limit to the amount money that can be accumulated from donors in order for candidates to win. It is very much like campaigning from the end of the rainbow.

The result is that middle class income potential and buying power have sadly diminished over the last thirty years. This is exacerbated by higher costs of consumer items, housing and education. The hole is getting deeper and the hope of getting out is nearly gone for most working people.

You can do something about this and you owe it to yourself, your children and your grandchildren to do so. First, make the time in your busy life to stay abreast of what is going on. Know how your congressional representatives and senators are voting and why. When you don’t agree with their direction on an issue, write to them to tell them about it. They all have websites with links for email communication

No one can keep up with everything that is going on in the world or the country. However, if there is one issue that is important above all other issues it is campaign finance reform. The lack of restrictions on campaign donations needs to be outlawed.

It is that shortfall of restrictions that allows the wealthy to buy our government. The legislators are not going to act on effective campaign finance reform without strong grassroots movements pushing them to do so. It is up to the population with 99% of the votes to beat down the wealthy few who have 99% of the cash.

Monday, February 24, 2014

She Had a Family, Too

In June of 1963 the United States Congress passed a law to which women’s rights groups had rallied toward for over a hundred years. The Equal Pay Act made it illegal for women to be paid less than men for doing the same work. A year later the Civil Rights Act passed and, thus, made it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

In the years following the passing of the Civil Rights Amendment, black men started making their way into factory jobs that, previously, they wouldn’t have been considered for if white workers were available for hire. About this time, one thirty-something divorced mother of four was cutting her own path. Barbara Eastman was taking 856 hours of training at the Hawkeye Institute of Technology in Waterloo, Iowa to learn the basic skills required to be an apprentice machinist.

On June 25, 1967 the Sunday edition of the Waterloo Courier, the local newspaper of the time in that area, had a front page story telling of arms reduction talks between President Lyndon Johnson and Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin. A smaller headline and article dominated page 33 of the Sunday newspaper.

The internal headline read Barbara Eastman Has Man’s Job. A photo of the apprentice machinist, on the job at Apex Tool and Die where she had been employed for three months, accompanied the story. Barbara was quoted as saying that, following graduation of the tech school, she sought work in a small shop, such as Apex where she might enhance her basic skills with the rounded experience of doing different work on different machines each day. She didn’t want to limit her future career potential by knowing only how to turn out identical parts from one machine in a mass production environment.

Barbara insisted that she not be given preferential treatment over the men in the shop because of her gender. Nonetheless, there were times when her petite 5’ 1” frame required that she seek assistance from a co-worker. This was no different than a man of small stature needing help with a task. Size can go the other way, too. There are times when a large person can be at a disadvantage where a small build or small hands might better fit a task. The differences simply shouldn’t be about gender.

Even with the proper training, it wasn’t easy for a woman to find a job in what was traditionally a male vocation. Barbara made applications to nearly all of the machine shops in the area where she lived. She was laughed at in many of them for seeking a “man’s job.”

One might wonder why people want to break away from traditional roles. Barbara’s motivation was the basic human value of family. Like many men, she had a family to support, too. Traditional “women’s jobs” didn’t provide the income that she needed to do that as a single parent.

Some years later, Barbara took her experience gained at Apex Tool and Die on to another opportunity at Waterloo Industries. As she had planned, the diversity of Apex gave her an advantage for that change. She worked for time as a tool and dies maker and later transferred to press operator in order to get onto the day shift.

Three of Barbara’s four daughters followed the path that she had cut into factory roles that were dominated by men. Daughter Lee Ann worked alongside of her mother as a machine operator for several years at Waterloo Industries in the nineteen-seventies. Oldest daughter Donna worked at J.E. Millet Company where laundry hampers were manufactured.

Margaret, the youngest of the four who is employed at John Deer as a foundry worker, says that even for the improved acceptance of women in factories, it still hasn’t been easy. There will always be those that want to make it hard on others but her mother and women like her definitely made a difference for the generations to follow. On a more personal level, Margaret says that her mother taught her how to deal with the difficult people.

It is one thing to legislate societal change. It is quite another for the population that is entrenched in tradition to execute on the change. Regardless of how morally right that it might be over the long run, people resist change.

Barbara Eastman, later Barbara Eick when she remarried, and others like her braved the tangle of thicket and thorns to cut through virgin brush. The path is still not without occasional perils. It is, nonetheless, there to open the way.

You won’t find the name of Barbara Eastman in school history books. Nonetheless, while the ink of many famous names was drying on pages of history, Barbara and hundreds of women like her were making the history. For those efforts, the generations to follow live a different life than their parents and grandparents before them.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Symbol of Racism... or Not?

This photo of the Confederate flag has been getting around Facebook. The message printed on it reads as follows. The rebel flag was the flag of the Confederate States of America. A lot of people are offended by rebel flags because they believe that they symbolize racism. Quite the contrary. Rebel flags are not racist. The Civil War erupted over states’ rights, not slavery. The south was mostly people in favor of states’ rights. And the north was mostly people who wanted the national government to have more power over the states. Please. Learn your history before you judge. History may repeat itself…

First, that a lot of people might see this flag as a symbol of racism seems perfectly understandable. After all, the flag represented the confederacy and the people of the confederacy believed in holding a race of people in slavery.

Even after the war was won by the union and the confederacy was dissolved, the “freed” slaves were still oppressed, murdered and RAPED by the former confederates for many decades to follow into the next century. One has to wonder why anybody would fly a confederate flag in modern times. The symbol carries no positive feelings for the race of people who suffered under the people that once called themselves a confederacy. Displaying a rebel flag would be much like posting a huge crime scene photo of your murdered child in the back window of my pick-up truck after I was acquitted of the crime that I bragged of committing. Would you not be offended?

While it is true that friction between the north and the south started over states’ rights, it had everything to do with slavery. The issue of states’ rights was compounded by the voter populations in southern states being less than in the north. The southern states, with their agricultural economy built on the backs of slaves, had less representation in congress for lack of a population of white voters . Enslaved black men could not vote and had no rights as citizens. However, they were counted as three-fifths of a white man in order to artificially inflate the voter population and gain southern representation in congress.

Then there was the Missouri Compromise which allowed Maine to be admitted to the Union only on agreement that Missouri would be admitted as a slave state and, thus, maintain the balance of slave and non-slave states. As the western U.S. opened up, succession of the southern slave states was pretty much inevitable.

President Lincoln even tried to make the war not about slavery. He said openly that he wanted only to maintain the Union, with or without slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation was only a timed political move that was of minimal, if any, benefit.

The president, though he held genuine compassion for the suffering of slaves, was a racist. He believed black people to be inferior. He did not believe that they would ever be able to coexist among whites. President Lincoln favored sending black people to Africa to form colonies.

Indeed, there was an issue of states’ rights that started with drafting the constitution. In interests of states’ rights slavery was ignored in the constitution. It was left to fester and swell so that it oozed nastiness into the hearts of Americans over the years and well into the 19th century.  Southerners feared and hated northern abolitionists.

A good illustration of the rebel flag as a symbol of racism comes from a story once told to me by a southern black man with whom I was acquainted through work. He and another black man were on the side of the road after dark, suspecting a problem with their car. One white man in a pick-up truck, displaying a rebel flag in the back window, pulled up behind them.

On one hand, it seems possible that the white man was just a southern good ol’ boy, who was proud of his heritage and willing to help out anyone in need. On the other hand and for reasons that ran generations deep, the black men were conditioned to fear white men with confederate flags. They left before the white man could get out of his truck.

States' rights, racism and the rebel flag are just three braids of the same rope. Please learn your history before you judge. This horrible period in our history must not happen again

For everyone...
Who didn't know

#StateRights #Racism #RebelFlag #ConfederateFlag

Friday, August 16, 2013

A Civil War General from Virginia

He was born on a Virginia plantation and, as a young man, received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. One of his classmates, and a friend, was William Tecumseh Sherman. The young officer served with distinction in the Mexican-American War where he was mentored by Captain Braxton Bragg. Later, as a cavalry and artillery instructor at West Point, one of his star students, J.E.B. Stuart was to become the one of  finest cavalry and reconnaissance officers of the Civil War.

Lt. Col. Robert E. Lee was the academy superintendent at West Point when J.E.B. Stuart was a cadet. The young officer, who was Stuart’s mentor and served under Lt. Col. Lee at the time, would later become a Major General in the Union Army during the Civil War. He was called a traitor by J.E.B. Stuart, who wished him hung for treason against Virginia. All three of the soldiers were sons of Virginia.

At the outbreak of the Civil War, many southern-born officers struggled between loyalty to their home states and loyalty to the Union Army, in which they had made their careers. George Henry Thomas was a private man, who later in life destroyed all of his personal documents and papers. The son of a slave-holding plantation owner, there is little record of his political position at the time. However, it can be assumed that his marriage to a New York woman provided some of the influence to his decision to remain in the Union Army.

Thomas advanced rapidly to the rank of Major General when the Civil War started. However, he was not a man to hold his own lantern high. More ambitious officers took advantage of this by taking glory for themselves at the expense of General Thomas. General William T. Sherman is known to have spoken highly of his West Point classmate at times but, for the most part, his loyalty was toward General Grant. Sherman’s loyalty to Grant continued after the war when the post war spotlight shined on the two men as heroes and helped launch Grant to the presidency.

As Confederate Maj. Gen. Thomas Jackson earned the name Stonewall Jackson at Second Manassas, so Union Maj. Gen. George Thomas later became known as the Rock of Chickamauga. Having been driven from Chattanooga by Union forces, Confederate Maj. Gen. Braxton Bragg was determined to retake the strategic supply hub. On September 18, 1863, Maj. Gen. Bragg’s army skirmished with Union forces at Chickamauga Creek.

Union Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans had been watching Bragg’s army and anticipated an attempt to retake Chattanooga. On September 19 the Confederacy was gaining ground but could not break through Union defenses. That changed with the arrival, late that night, of Confederate Gen. James Longstreet leading eight fresh brigades.

The next morning, using Longstreet’s additional strength, Bragg launched a two-fronted attack on the Union lines. Thinking that his defenses had been breached and fearing that his army would be routed, Rosecrans ordered retreat. In the confusion, Maj. Gen. Thomas took the initiative to rally the troops that he could find on the field and, with his own troops, took up a defensive position while the rest of Union Army retreated to Chattanooga.

They held the lines until nightfall when Thomas and his army could retreat back to Chattanooga under the cover of darkness. The battle resulted in extreme losses on both sides but was decidedly a Confederate victory. In the end, the Union held Chattanooga and the Confederacy held the high ground. However, if not for the actions of the Rock of Chickamauga, in holding the lines against impossible odds, the Union Army would likely have been routed and, thus, would have lost Chattanooga.

After the war, up to 1869, Maj. Gen. Thomas commanded the Department of the Cumberland in Kentucky and Tennessee. President Andrew Johnson offered Thomas a promotion to the rank of lieutenant general with the intention of replacing Grant as the general-in-chief. However, Johnson was a Democrat and Grant was a Republican with his eye on the presidency. Thomas had no taste for politics. He requested withdrawal from the nomination and asked for command of the Military Division of the Pacific.

Maj. Gen. George Henry Thomas died of a stroke in 1870. His remains were transferred from San Francisco back to New York. He is interred in Troy, New York. Thomas was born a middle child among ten siblings on a Virginia plantation in 1816. None of his blood relatives attended his funeral. Like J.E.B. Stuart, they had never forgiven him for, what they considered to be, treason against his native Virginia.