Monday, July 4, 2016

Happy Independence Day! Why, Despite Everything, We Can Be Optimistic About Our Democracy

Photo by Heidi Haines, April 4, 2016
Happy Independence Day, my fellow Politicos! On this day, in 1776, a grand experiment in democracy was born, one that has survived and kept our American ideals alive, despite its many challenges. However, this year, the Republicans have made our presidential primaries a laughingstock. We've watched our primary process become a roll in the dirt, with the GOP candidates stooping so low as to compare the size of their hands...and other unspeakables. The standard-bearer of the Grand Old Party has offended a laundry list of every possible group, with the exception of old white males and racists. I've seen more than a few friends who have been Republicans their entire lives leave their party, because, as several friends told me, the party has left them.

We've seen a Congress that is deadlocked, simply to keep a duly-elected President from any success on the part of the people. We've seen the race-baiting and incendiary speech of the right make blatant racist remarks acceptable again, and sexism rears its ugly head to discredit the good work of a candidate, based solely on her gender. And while we have made huge strides in the way our LGBTQ brothers and sisters being granted the rights they deserve, the GOP continues to pass laws to codify discrimination over the most ridiculous and nonsensical issues. (Bathrooms? Really???)

So what have we got to celebrate today? With all that is wrong with our nation, is there still reason to be optimistic? As I watched the best Fourth of July movie EVER with my son this morning, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, I realized that, despite all the schmaltz and idealism in the classic film, there is still actually reason to believe in this grand experiment. Despite all the bullpucky on Capitol Hill, and the GOP fight to divide us with fear over any way that we are different, there is actually still reason to believe in this small-d democracy of ours.

The host of the classic movie related a little bit of the film's history. At the time it was released, there was a premiere screening at the National Press Club. Senators and other lawmakers were invited to attend the Jimmy Stewart film that sends a regular guy to D.C., only to be disillusioned by the corruption he finds there (spoiler alert: don't worry, it's a very satisfying, all-American ending). Apparently, there was much unease among the Senators during the screening, much squirming in their seats and outrage...the film hit far too close to home for these guys as Mr. Smith calls them out on their lies, backroom deals and self-interest. Mr. Smith was decried as unpatriotic, anti-American, and unrealistic. "Why, no one in Washington would ever dream of acting in their own best interest over the will of the people!" Many stormed out of the screening, decrying the injustice of it all. Sound familiar, anyone? The old white man doth protest too much!

When we look at the reaction of those Senators, it rings all-too familiar with what we see today. Even in 1939, filling one's own pockets on the backs of citizens wasn't new. But you know what else isn't new? The Mr. Smiths of this world. Fighters for what's right, throughout history, are an American staple. We still have good people like Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Sherrod Brown, Hillary Clinton and many others fighting for American families and the middle class. And theyr'e not the only ones. It's simple acts by you and I, such as taking our kids with us to the polls to instill democratic values, or my Little Man, no longer the tiny boy he was when I started this blog (16 now, 6'3" and still growing), asking how he can volunteer at the polls. It's the difference of opinion that my daughter and I have, choosing candidates that reflect our generations, but still able to respect each other's choice. And it's the faces of the students I accompanied to D.C. as they saw our founding documents for the first time, knowing they will be an active part of our democracy when they're grown. It's our fellow citizens and Dreamers' families fighting for immigration reform, or protestors continuing to keep the importance #BlackLivesMatter in the news until change is made, or LGBT families and friends attending Pride despite threats and hatred, these are the reasons we celebrate. It is our shared idealism, the faith that we have as a people, big actors and small on the American stage, that gives us reason to believe. We celebrate the efforts of our founding fathers today, and those who have fought, and those who continue to fight to make our democracy strong. And as long as we all continue to do our part in this grand experiment, we have every reason to believe that it will continue to be the greatest democracy on earth, the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Happy Independence Day, my fellow Politicos. Relax, enjoy and revel in the rights and freedoms in which we are privileged to share, and continue to fulfill the responsibilities and hard work that we share as well in these United States. Here's a shot for you from the kids' D.C. trip this year. Enjoy!

Photo by Heidi Haines, April 4, 2016
Why are you still optimistic about our democracy, my fellow Politicos? Please join the conversation and post comments below! 

Happy Independence Day! Why, Despite Everything, We Can Be Optimistic About Our Democracy

Photo by Heidi Haines, April 4, 2016
Happy Independence Day, my fellow Politicos! On this day, in 1776, a grand experiment in democracy was born, one that has survived and kept our American ideals alive, despite its many challenges. However, this year, the Republicans have made our presidential primaries a laughingstock. We've watched our primary process become a roll in the dirt, with the GOP candidates stooping so low as to compare the size of their hands...and other unspeakables. The standard-bearer of the Grand Old Party has offended a laundry list of every possible group, with the exception of old white males and racists. I've seen more than a few friends who have been Republicans their entire lives leave their party, because, as several friends told me, the party has left them.

We've seen a Congress that is deadlocked, simply to keep a duly-elected President from any success on the part of the people. We've seen the race-baiting and incendiary speech of the right make blatant racist remarks acceptable again, and sexism rears its ugly head to discredit the good work of a candidate, based solely on her gender. And while we have made huge strides in the way our LGBTQ brothers and sisters being granted the rights they deserve, the GOP continues to pass laws to codify discrimination over the most ridiculous and nonsensical issues. (Bathrooms? Really???)

So what have we got to celebrate today? With all that is wrong with our nation, is there still reason to be optimistic? As I watched the best Fourth of July movie EVER with my son this morning, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington, I realized that, despite all the schmaltz and idealism in the classic film, there is still actually reason to believe in this grand experiment. Despite all the bullpucky on Capitol Hill, and the GOP fight to divide us with fear over any way that we are different, there is actually still reason to believe in this small-d democracy of ours.

The host of the classic movie related a little bit of the film's history. At the time it was released, there was a premiere screening at the National Press Club. Senators and other lawmakers were invited to attend the Jimmy Stewart film that sends a regular guy to D.C., only to be disillusioned by the corruption he finds there (spoiler alert: don't worry, it's a very satisfying, all-American ending). Apparently, there was much unease among the Senators during the screening, much squirming in their seats and outrage...the film hit far too close to home for these guys as Mr. Smith calls them out on their lies, backroom deals and self-interest. Mr. Smith was decried as unpatriotic, anti-American, and unrealistic. "Why, no one in Washington would ever dream of acting in their own best interest over the will of the people!" Many stormed out of the screening, decrying the injustice of it all. Sound familiar, anyone? The old white man doth protest too much!

When we look at the reaction of those Senators, it rings all-too familiar with what we see today. Even in 1939, filling one's own pockets on the backs of citizens wasn't new. But you know what else isn't new? The Mr. Smiths of this world. Fighters for what's right, throughout history, are an American staple. We still have good people like Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Sherrod Brown, Hillary Clinton and many others fighting for American families and the middle class. And theyr'e not the only ones. It's simple acts by you and I, such as taking our kids with us to the polls to instill democratic values, or my Little Man, no longer the tiny boy he was when I started this blog (16 now, 6'3" and still growing), asking how he can volunteer at the polls. It's the difference of opinion that my daughter and I have, choosing candidates that reflect our generations, but still able to respect each other's choice. And it's the faces of the students I accompanied to D.C. as they saw our founding documents for the first time, knowing they will be an active part of our democracy when they're grown. It's our fellow citizens and Dreamers' families fighting for immigration reform, or protestors continuing to keep the importance #BlackLivesMatter in the news until change is made, or LGBT families and friends attending Pride despite threats and hatred, these are the reasons we celebrate. It is our shared idealism, the faith that we have as a people, big actors and small on the American stage, that gives us reason to believe. We celebrate the efforts of our founding fathers today, and those who have fought, and those who continue to fight to make our democracy strong. And as long as we all continue to do our part in this grand experiment, we have every reason to believe that it will continue to be the greatest democracy on earth, the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Happy Independence Day, my fellow Politicos. Relax, enjoy and revel in the rights and freedoms in which we are privileged to share, and continue to fulfill the responsibilities and hard work that we share as well in these United States. Here's a shot for you from the kids' D.C. trip this year. Enjoy!

Photo by Heidi Haines, April 4, 2016
Why are you still optimistic about our democracy, my fellow Politicos? Please join the conversation and post comments below! 

Monday, May 9, 2016

It's All Fun & Games Until Someone Loses an Eye: How Trump Won The GOP Nomination


Well, someone has finally lost an eye. The GOP thought fooling around with that sharp stick, well, a bundle of sharp sticks, would be fun, that Trump was just a joke. But now, finally, the GOP has lost an eye. And should we be surprised? Maybe. But the GOP shouldn't be shocked in the least. They are the ones who, to use another colloquialism, let the fox in the henhouse...a fox with a truckload of really sharp sticks. This is not your father's GOP, and they brought it all upon themselves. 

Sharp Stick Number One: The Teabaggers
Yes, the Grand Old Party accepted the Tea Party as its own when it let them dictate the Congressional agenda. Yes, with the state of current events, with government shutdowns, downgrades of the United States credit rating and all the rest, we see the GOP allowing the Tea Party Nutjobs being allowed to run the show, and Boehner was in no shape to stop it (see stick number 2 below). And they brought their racism, sexism and homophobia along with them. That was big ol' stick number one. 


Sharp Stick Number Two: Obstructionism, and "John Boehner isn't good at his job." 
Sharp stick number two is a forked stick, as the two pointy parts work together with a single thrust. Stopping the Obama Administration from having any success was goal number one of everyone's favorite tortoise, Mitch McConnell. He was very clear in his support of these blockades: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." Combine that with John Boehner's incompetence, and his inability to even pass what the standard-issue, typically conservative member of the party would approve, and attempting to assure that the first African American president gets noting done, causing yet another stick to poke its way onto the scene. 

Sharp Stick Number Three: Forcing The Hand of POTUS
Executive orders are the way that the U.S. president can circumvent this sort of obstructionist bullpucky. And the GOP, with their lack of compromise, and playing to the new, vocal, Tea Party base, gave President Obama no other way to accomplish some basic governance...and, by the way, rallying support of the Democratic base in the process. Great strategy, GOP.


Sharp Stick Number Four: Rrrrrrrreince Priebus and Co. Take Trump's Campaign as a Joke
Well, Rrrrrreince, who's laughing now? Last week, it actually came out that Trump never expected to win the primary. (My bored, rich megalomaniac theory proven right...just sayin'...) We have to go back to the Mittens for President campaign on this one. The Republican National Committee, in their post-mortem of the last two presidential races, decided that part of the problem with Mittens not winning was how long the primary season dragged on. So, in order to make certain that the lead candidate locked the nomination early, they pulled a switcherooo on the early primary states, thus ensuring that the early frontrunner pretty much locks up the nomination. Great idea, eh? Yeah, it was, until they got hit with sharp stick number five. 


Sharp Stick Number Five: The Trump Candidacy
Which leads us up to the stick that landed in the Republican Party's collective eye: the unlikely candidacy of Donald J. Trump. Little did they know that Trump's hilarious, surreal, performance art level campaign, with his racist, misogynistic, birther-believing, homophobic, megalomaniacal statements and outright lies would appeal to the base: the new GOP base. The new GOP: a base full of haters that had been drawn to the party's sharp sticks numbers one and two, who took the tea party, birther-believing, racists and women-haters into their tent. And lo and behold, look who voted him in? Rrreince and Paul Ryan are suddenly surprised when 3/4 of likely Republican voters make the guy the GOP Nominee. Amazing. "Fox, come on into the henhouse. There's plenty to eat and we're happy to have you."

So, after playing with a big ol' bundle of those sharp sticks, are we really surprised when the GOP pokes an eye out? Here they are with Trump as the actual, official, genuine nominee of the Republican Party. Too late now, Rrrrreince and Paul. You've allowed your party to blind itself. There will be no brokered convention (sorry, Paul. Better luck not wanting the job next time), no way to redeem the soul of the party. Just a Trump candidacy. The people have spoken. Your people. Your base. The voters who actually go to the polls. As a Democrat, all I can say is a hearty thank you, Gentlemen. With a nominee like that, we don't need to explain to our base why we need to vote. Thanks for creating the biggest reason for Dems to get out to the polls in November. And a word of advice, Rrrreince: next time, don't play with sharp sticks.  

It's been a wild ride this year, my fellow Politicos. Any other sticks in the road that I've neglected to add to the bundle? Add your two cents below, and keep fighting the good fight. 


Saturday, February 4, 2012

New Home for Momma Politico!

Visit my new home at http://mommapolitico.com!

Hey, there, my fellow Politicos! I have exciting news! Momma Politico has a new home, as part of the A World of Progress family. Please change your reader or rss feed to the new address, http://mommapolitico.com so you won't miss a single juicy political morsel! In addition to a bold new look, the facelift for the blog involves a slight shift. The longer I've been writing, the more I have become concerned with how the national news and actions of the political elite affect families like mine. And my outlook has become more focused on putting the spotlight on how those issues affect all of us, particularly on my Kitchen Table Politics feature on AWOP Radio. The blog will have a new title, Kitchen Table Politics with Momma Politico, but it's the same political commentary you've come to expect from this humble politico. I hope you'll join me in the new leg of my online adventure!


Thanks much to Kim G., great pal and publisher of A World of Progress and A World of Progress Radio. And my gratitude to Nunzia Rider, our amazing technical wizard, who designed the new page and archived everything, putting up with my non-techie questions along the way. She's a terrific writer as well, so click the link and check out her political voice.

And thanks, to you, my fellow Politicos, for sticking with me and supporting my efforts here and on the online radio machine. Your comments, support and enthusiasm have kept this Momma writing and tossing her political opinions into the world. My enduring gratitude to you - hope you'll follow me over! And as always, you can also find me in the twitterverse @mommapolitico.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Undercover Liberal Visits The Gun Show



Politicos, please note: This is a reposting of my original gun show post, to correspond with my A World of Progress Radio show segment on the same subject. Tune in to www.blogtalkradio.com/awop to listen to the segment at 4P/7E today or to listen to the podcast, or download us at iTunes. Enjoy!


When friends asked me if I'd like to go to the gun show at the local fairgrounds, I was hesitant. I mean, really? Just because I've learned to shoot recently doesn't mean I have to dive in head first into the whole subculture...but the more I thought about it, the more intriguing the offer became. It'd be like an undercover operation, a double-agent sort of thing. No one would have to know I'm a liberal, and for a mere ten bucks, I could check out the gun show: look around, ask questions, people-watch, pick up pamphlets, etc. Who knows what I would discover? I called my friends Melissa and Kelby to accept their offer, and we made plans for the next morning.

We rolled in at around 11:15 a.m., and the lot was already 3/4 full. Though the place had been open for three hours already, no one appeared to be leaving. We trudged toward the front to buy our tickets. Immediately to our left was an NRA booth, flying the American flag, with "Join NOW!" and "Protecting Your Right To Bear Arms" plastered all over the front. I wasn't quite ready for that discussion, so we bought our tickets. Two signs were posted prominently on the ticket window: "No Loaded Weapons Beyond This Point," (holy shit, what am I getting into?) and "Your wife called and said you can buy anything you want!" Apparently the latter is a little humor to take the edge off the former... After forking over $10, I am handed a ticket and we head in.

Even before we got inside the gate, out comes Davey-friggin'-Crocket, complete with fur hat and rifles cradled in both arms. "Okay, this is gonna be good," I whispered to Missy. She repied, "You ain't seen nothin' yet, Sister!"

And she was right. As we approached the entrance, a booth appeared in front of us, with a red and white banner stating, in bold letters, "CLEAR ALL GUNS HERE" - WHAAATT? Now, there's a line of text I have never read before. Apparently, you are welcome to bring your guns, large or small, as long as you stop and register them before entering. Guns are checked to make sure they are empty and on safety, and are registered as yours and tagged to prove your ownership. Wow. This is getting more interesting all the time.



The next sign? "No Cameras Allowed" Damn. Damn! Not even in the gates yet, and they've broken my little liberal heart.

So you've checked your gun and gotten in the gates. Now what? Immediately inside the fence from where you unloaded your gun is a seriously huge stand of ammo - all calibers, boxes piled on boxes piled on boxes, a good 3 feet deep and 5 feet high, actually forming the walls of the booth. I imagine that's so you can reload...scary thought. Ammo is cheap and flowing like water in this right-wing land o' plenty. You can even buy a hand-truck if you left yours at home. Bullets are heavy, you know...

We enter the first of three buildings, and there's most definitely a survivalist bent. Smack-dab ahead of us is a banner advertising food that will last 30 years or more. Because, you know, in these uncertain times, you never know when you'll need to hide in the comfort of your backyard bunker for thirty years. And why not have some great cuisine available? Beef jerky and other types of dried meat are plentiful as well; every flavor and every kind of dried beast you can imagine: standard beef, elk, venison and more. Nearby, you can buy actual MREs - Meals Ready to Eat, military rations. We even see a field kitchen for sale. Where do they get this stuff? No one will say.



As I am looking around, there are guns and gun parts as far as the eye can see. Rifles, pistols, guns from the 1800's until today, and, of course, more ammo. Oh, and toys. Yes, toys. Because, ladies and gentlemen, this is a family event. Bring little Johnny on down, in his head-to-toe camo, and show him what the Nazis used to wear. Buy him those clackers you had as a kid and a neat vintage lighter embellished with a "KKK Member In Good Standing" medallion (saw it with my own eyes. Swear to God.) Something for the little lady, perhaps? How about a hot pretzel, diet soda and a pink taser in a cute case?

Speaking of the customers at the show, well, I don't ever remember being surrounded by so many white people in a looooong time. Everyone was white. There were five African-Americans, and a handful of Hispanic dealers. There were a few skinheads in the crowd: young white guys, shaved heads, wearing the "uniform" of the movement. Another strange phenomenon was noticed by our friend Joanna. She's Asian, and wondered allowed what the deal was with the Asian dealers selling all the Nazi paraphernalia. "What is up with that???" she asked.

I couldn't believe the number and variety of guns for sale. Kelby was my safari guide for the day, explaining what guns I am seeing and what their uses are, the differences and the quality, which are overpriced and which are replicas, explaining every strange thing I encountered in this strange and foreign world. Everything from hunting rifles with beautiful wood stocks to semi-automatic weapons next to kits that can fix that. One dealer named Jerry quoted me a good price on an AR-15, complete with scope and my choice of clip - 20, 30 or 40 round, out the door for $1500. He gave me his phone number, and said he'd knock a hundred off if I came back to the show the next day to buy it. There were Glocks from World War II, and brand-new high-powered assault rifles. There were devices designed to get around the California law about the number of shells in a shotgun, and I found out which states honor Utah's and Florida's "Concealed Carry" permits. These folks were well-versed in what they could and couldn't get away with, and exactly how they could skirt the existing laws. For a price, they were willing to tell you how to do it, too. Fascinating.

The thing that amazed me most was that if you wanted something, almost anything, you could find it here. It really was a bit of a one-stop shop. You could outfit your entire para-military militia here. Need boots? They've got 'em. How about helmets? Uniforms, camos, flack jackets, bulletproof vests, you bet. Custom-fitted earplugs. Survival rations. Guns, ammo, black powder, empty shells (for you DIY ammo types). And manual and more manuals: how to convert guns into automatic weapons. Self-defense for the little lady. How to use artillery and mortars. Making your own survival shelter. You name it, you can find it here. Wow. Just, wow.

Yes, you heard me right when I said that I was offered a 40-clip to go with the weapon above. There were clips available for any weapon. Entire tables of extended magazines were available. Buy-Sell-Trade booths had tables thirty-feet long absolutely covered with the types of extended magazines that allowed Rep. Gifford's shooter to continue firing into the crowd and kill/injure so many innocent people. Needless to say, the furor over the recent tragedy has not spurred our legislature to action. Is the NRA really that strong? That's downright terrifying.


I didn't come across anyone who was willing to sell me a gun without a background check. When I asked, "How much for a background check?" every dealer told me that the background check would be through a local dealer. Maybe they didn't trust me asking the question. Do I look like that much of a liberal??? I'll have to have Kelby ask next time...

And then there were the security firms and gun safes. Don't get me wrong, if you are going to own a gun, I want you to keep it locked up. Tight. And a big, heavy-duty safe with a big-ass lock is a perfect place. I'm good with that. But in the middle of a place where every description of firearm is available, between booths filled with shotguns and ammo, semi-autos and concealed carry licensing courses, were these security firms. And every one was playing ominous music, showing videos of burglaries being stopped by their systems. They warned of home invasions, warned of the need to keep your loved ones safe.It seemed a little strange in the midst of all those guns that folks claimed were for home protection. If you're armed to the teeth for security, why would you need a security system? And them it came to me: if everyone else has guns, if all these folks crawling all over the gun show have guns, well, damn, you'd better have a security system! Which struck me as a sad commentary on American life.


I was a little disappointed by the political aspects of the show - only a few booths had the anti-Obama, Dems-will-sell-us-down-the-river bumper stickers and signs. I have to admit, I was looking forward to much more right-wing nuttery. But the right-wing nutjob booths did it up right. "All negative Obama dollar bills 3 for $5" (their emphasis, not mine...as if they had something positive?) stated a hand-scrawled sign. The entire arsenal of anti-Dem, pro-wingnut bumper stickers was in one booth, a bumper crop. Other booths had stickers and magnets for $1, touting the 2nd Amendment. Something for every price range, folks. But there was no one haranguing about the lilly-livered liberals. I guess they figured that everyone who would be there was of like mind.
The closest I came to catching any of that was the guy at the "Concealed Carry" permit booth, advising someone not to spend the money on a license in Nevada. "Now that we got back the Congress from the 'libruls', we're gonna make all the states honor each other's reciprocity agreements." Meaning, Boehner and the NRA will make sure we can carry concealed weapons everywhere...No wonder we all need security systems.

By building number two, I was fascinated by all the sights and new information. By building number three, I was overwhelmed by the people walking past Hitler and KKK paraphernalia as if it was a Justin Bieber t-shirt. I needed time to process. But don't worry, I'll be back. A week  later, I am already figuring out what I need to ask next time. Next time, I'll ask the guys walking around with the backpacks full of guns, with signs strapped to their backs advertising what they're selling, if a background check is necessary when I pay with cash. Next time, I'll strike up a conversation with the RWNJ at the bumper sticker booth. Next time, I'll ask the NRA how Obama's gonna take away our guns. I'll attend the gun show with loaded...questions.

Until then, fellow politicos, I'd like your suggestions on my next undercover assignment. What bastion of conservatism should I infiltrate next? I remain your humble servant, The Undercover Liberal: braving the places no liberals dare to go, bringing you the scoop on right-wing, conservative craziness.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Why I Lied: Radio, Politics & Cocktails! My Newest Adventure In Progressive Radio

My New Partnership -
Online Progressive Radio at A World of Progress Radio
Well, my fellow Politicos, I lied. I did, and I'm sorry. I told you that the new gig as Co-Host on A World of Progress Radio wouldn't interfere with my blogging duties here on Momma Politico. And in all honesty, I really didn't think it would. But as we all know, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions...

So, here we are, many months after Labor Day, and I am back and blogging again. Most of the time, it will probably be show-related, but you know me, my fellow Politicos, I'll never fail to spout off about anything I feel is important in regards to all things political. And it's good to be back with you, my friends.

You might ask, "How did this new venture come about?" Well, in mid-July, I was approached by a tweetpal named Kim G., who goes by @awop in the twitterverse. She had asked if I'd be interested in coming on her very first online progressive radio show to discuss the GOP attack on public schools. Well, Hell's Bells, how could I pas up that opportunity??? I told her she had the right gal, and we began to email, tweet and talk about what she envisoned for her first show. We seemed to get along famously, me with my Southern California style and her with her NC southern hospitality and charming drawl, and by the end of the week, I was running the switchboard, saying "y'all' and employed as Co-Host on A World of Progress Radio. Kim is a kind and generous-hearted soul, and I am grateful for the opportunity to make a difference, fight the good fight and have this much fun - all at the same time!

It's been a fast and wonderful six months. We're there to promote the common good, as Kim would say, and to help those who keep fighting the good fight. We've grown a loyal bunch of fabulous followers on Twitter, and a great group of listeners, and gained some terrific contributors: Ashley Arrington, @arrington13, a smart cookie and our LGBTQ correspondent; Allie McNeil (no relation!) @watergatesummer, our faboo scheduler and 99% report correspondent; and our latest addition, Jordan Catapano, @GirlWalksIn2Bar, our brilliant cocktail correspondent and author of my fave gift of the season, This Girl Walks Into A Bar. My segments usually consist of Kitchen Table Politics, my view on the national events of the day and how they affect us all at our own kitchen tables, and The Undercover Liberal, in which I venture into places liberals dare not go and report back about my experiences. I'm having a blast, and really love working with such amazing folks. If you're interested in my latest joint venture, tune in on Sundays at 4 Pacific/7 Eastern, catch the podcast at that link anytime, or download our podcast on iTunes. (I know...we're on iTunes...how cool is that?) You can also follow my tweets as always at @mommapolitico and our show tweets @awopradio. Please follow us and show your support!

On the home front, Tweenie is learning to drive, and Little Man loves woodshop and works the snack bar in middle school. The Hubby and I are continually amazed at their brilliance and beauty, and marvel at how fast the time goes by. We just celebrated our 21st year of marriage and our 25th year together. Hard to believe, and still wonderful. The Christmas lights are up, and we'll decorate inside next weekend. Life is good, and we are fortunate enough to be happy, healthy and have jobs we enjoy. We're blessed in about a million ways.

And I am ever so grateful for your support, my dear Politicos! I beg your forgiveness, and I will do my best to be more faithful to my postings here as we go into the coming election year. (YAAAAAYYYY!!! Elections! My favorite time of year to be a nerdy-geeky-wonk!) More soon, and thanks for sticking with me as I explore this great new progressive radio medium. I hope you'll join us on the journey.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day And The Middle Class: Thanks, Unions!

cognidissidence.blogspot.com
Chances are, if you read this blog, my fellow Politicos, you go to work every day (or did, if you've retired or been laid off). I was brought up to believe that working for a living is a noble thing, an honest endeavor. As the daughter of retired Navy/union engineer and a nurse, I was brought  up to believe that if you work hard, you will be able to provide a decent life, a comfortable life, for yourself and your kids. And for my parents' generation, unions were a big part of what made that promise come true. Generation after generation, this promise held true: middle class families could make a decent wage, have health care for their families, own a home of their own, save for the occasional vacation, send their kids to college and retire to a modest life with a small pension from military service or their union. The American Dream.

Now, we have wandered so far astray from the possibility of that dream that my parents cannot fathom how we manage to make ends meet. And, frankly, sometimes we wonder, too. We go without much that they took for granted as a benefit of working hard. Most folks who bought homes when we did, that so-crucial core value of The American Dream, are upside-down in their mortgages, if they are lucky and haven't been screwed out of it by the loan remod industry (once again, let's put the fox in charge of the henhouse, because it worked so well with Wall Street). When you don't have equity, you have to save project-by-project to make any improvements to your home. That's challenging when you are trying to save for your own retirement, trying to make up for losses that a highly unstable economy served up in big, heaping portions (again, let's let greed regulate itself) and trying to raise 2.5 kids. The cost of health benefits go through the roof, if you are fortunate enough to have them at all - every 12 minutes, someone dies due to lack of coverage. And saving for the kids for college? Still paying off our own student loans, in an industry bubble that's about to hit as big as Wall Street did. (Listen to my interview with the makers of Default: The Student Loan Movie on A World of Progress Radio or subscribe to our show/download from iTunes.) The American Dream has now become a pipe dream for most of my generation.

What's attempted to put the American Dream into its final death throes has been the GOP attacks on working people in this country. Governor Scott Walker decided that he'd score some points within his party by eliminating the right to collectively bargain for teachers in Wisconsin. I really think he thought he'd be able to just run the table, and that voter apathy would allow him to mop the floor with the labor movement, effectively killing it off, for all intents and purposes. And from there, hey, he'd write his own ticket with the Republicans. A Senate seat, and, who knows? Maybe even a V.P. slot on the next ticket. Who could resist the guy that kicked Labor's ass, right? The world would be his corporate-funded oyster.

In the same way that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld stated we'd be greeted as liberators in Iraq, there was an unexpected response to this attack on working people. The cakewalk to the V.P. slot wasn't as smooth as Walker had hoped. Remember this?


What made folks stand up for union rights? There were a million reasons. First off, Walker, being the idiot that he is, picked the wrong union to mess with. Think about it: everyone can remember a teacher that made a difference in their lives; the public understands how hard teachers work for their paychecks; and we teachers damn well know how to organize a large group of people - once you've handled a class of 34 unruly, hormonal fifth graders, well, any size group is manageable! (...Plus, we make killer signs. It's all those bulletin boards we've made over the years!) These are smart folks who serve our nation admirably, performing a service that our democracy cannot survive without: the education of our populace. Secondly, the Rethugs have screwed the middle class out of so much for so long, a tipping point had been reached. And thirdly, one word: solidarity. When you mess with one union, you are messing with them all. Teachers, teamsters, plumbers, police, sanitation workers, service industry folks: when they band together, the country can effectively be shut down.

And it is that brotherhood and sisterhood that we honor today, the integrity of the working folks of this nation, who will still stand by each other to fight for so many issues that we have come to take for granted today. Think about what the Labor Movement has brought to all our lives, whether we're a union member or not:
  • The five day work week, AKA the weekend!
  • Time and a half for overtime pay
  • Safety rules in the workplace
  • Minimum wage
  • Social Security
  • Medicare
  • Child labor laws (I still can't believe the GOP is working on this one....)
  • Sick days
  • Vacation pay 
  • Maternity/paternity leave
  • Pensions
  • Due process rights - you can't be fired without cause
  • Eight hour work days
  • Worker's Comp for on-the-job injuries
  • Health insurance benefits
  • Wage equity
  • And...The Middle Class
That these concepts exist is directly due to the unions of our country fighting hard to make them a reality. Of course, the Rethugs will continue to try to rid us of these burdens to corporate profit-making. We the people must continue to protect what little is ours - we need to fight the GOP attacks against unions, as they are, ultimately, direct attacks on the rights we hold dear (see list above). Unions may not be perfect. But they're still the only protection that working folks have against the pure corporate greed that runs rampant in our country more than ever before.

Enjoy the day off, if you are fortunate enough to have it. Have a barbecue with the family and your friends. And make sure the kids know it's not just another day off of school: today is a day to honor the working men and women of this nation, and the fact that our citizens still believe the list above is important for all people, not just the rich, not just for corporate America. The GOP will continue to chip away, and sometimes try the full-court press. All the more reason that we, the people, the working families in America must continue to fight back. Not just for ourselves, but for the rights of our children and grandchildren to have some semblance of that American Dream we're all struggling to reach.

Happy Labor Day. Fly the flag, as it's a national holiday and it is patriotic to support the working people of our country, no matter what the GOP and the RWNJs say. My thanks to all those union members, including my folks, who fought long and hard for the life we lead today. And thanks, unions, for giving birth to the Middle Class. We'll continue to fight the good fight to preserve it.

Don't forget, Politicos, to tune in every Sunday at 4 Pacific and 7 Eastern to hear my rants and ravings at A World of Progress Radio: Kim and I co-host with great guests, music, and my features, Kitchen Table Politics and The Undercover Liberal. Missed a show? Subscribe to our show on iTunes. You can follow us on twitter at @awopradio and of course, my own tweets @mommapolitico. Many thanks to so many of you who've already shown your support. And thanks to everyone for supporting online progressive radio!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lizz Winstead on @awopradio; Lonely Mitt Romney's Friends Are Corporations


Hey, there, my fellow Politicos! Just wanted to take a second to thank all of you for supporting my efforts over at A World of Progress Radio (@awopradio on twitter). My cohort-in-crime, Kim G., is a generous soul, and we share the same vision: fighting for the common good and highlighting the wrongs being perpetrated by the GOP's friends, the corporations. Our contributor, Allie McNeil, of @watergatesummer fame, was able to persuade THE Lizz Winstead, whom I loved on Air America Radio, to appear on our lil' ol' radio show this Sunday! (I know! I'm still pinching myself.) Lizz has always been a fighter of the good fight, and is obviously "good people" for so graciously agreeing to visit us at A World of Progress Radio.  I'll be interviewing the folks behind the film "Default," an expose of the student loan industry, and the bubble that's about to burst in that financial sector. They're fighting the good fight, too, and we're hoping to help them in our own small way.I hope you'll get to give us a listen this Sunday, at 4 p.m. Pacific and 7 p.m. Eastern. Please tweet me and let me know what you think of the show - always looking for good feedback from my fellow Politicos. ;)

Now, on to lonely little Mittens Romney. Did you see that clip? Mother of God. What the hell was he thinking??? I sit here speechless. I am honestly struggling to find words, which, as you know, my dear Politicos, is a near-impossibility. But I sit here, with our usual daily dose of Maddow on the TV machine, and on comes Mitt Romney, talking to a group on the campaign trail, about taxes. He was spouting, in his usual rich-guy way, about ways to pay for Social Security. And he makes a remark that is, just, wow. Wow. That's all I can say. Here, you take a look, and I'll wait here and try to contemplate what to say about this:


I know! I KNOW! I couldn't believe it, either! We have now gotten to the point that the GOP front-runners are no longer even trying to hide their agenda. "Corporations ARE people, my friend." Whoop, there it is...the Republican Party's core belief. We couldn't write this, folks, not even if we tried.

First, there was the Citizens United decision, in which corporations granted personhood by the most activist court in the land. And I thought that was blatant. But, no, apparently Mitt has decided it wasn't clear enough. So he just spelled it all out for the American people, in simple, no-nonsense, get rid of all that legal verbiage: "Corporations ARE people." Can't get much clearer than that. Jesus H. Christ, they're not even hiding it anymore. Oh, Mittens.

But here's the best part: Did you hear the crowd? They weren't just passively listening to Mitt and buying his bullpuckey. They were calling him out. Not just heckling, these good folks were tearing into him! They were laughing at Mittens, and they were righteously angry, and they were gonna tell him about it! "Tax the rich!" "Tax corporations!" "The money goes in their pockets!" Beautiful. Just beautiful. God bless them for speaking out. It's about time!!!

Y'know what? Those brave folks are not alone. Congress has the lowest approval rating ever. Ever. How low? 82% of Americans think Congress is screwing up. Of that amount, 72 % think it's the Rethugs' fault. Fox News rates it even lower in their polls! Yes, the American people are waking up. And we're not happy.The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and the middle class is being crushed out of existence. What the GOP don't seem to get is that people have been working as hard as they can for the past 12 years. They've been doing everything possible to make ends meet, and there's no end in sight. So by God, working families, it's about time we got angry. It's about time we band together and speak out. And it's about time we call out Corporate America (read: The Grand Obstructionist Party) for the travesty they've committed against working class families. 

Today, Mitt Romney made it crystal-clear what the Republican Party agenda is: "Corporations ARE people, my friends." At least the only people who count. And maybe, just maybe, if the Dems take advantage of this opportunity to push jobs on the agenda, maybe, just maybe, we can come out of this recession still in possession of a middle class in this country.



Friday, July 29, 2011

Fundamentalism and Faith Based Politics

Hey, there, my fellow Politicos! Please welcome the author of our guest post for this week, Political Packrat, a longtime follower and sharp Politico! I will be guest posting at her site over the weekend, so watch twitter for the post or come on by her blog for my latest. Thanks!


Guest Post by Political Packrat

It's not Muslim fundamentalists who are America's biggest problem these days.  It's right wing Christian whack-jobs who have taken America hostage and who, because of a point of view that celebrates faith at the expense of reality, just may destroy the country they say they love: not out of malice, but out of a warped world view.

This isn't the first time. The  Scopes Monkey Trial  pitted Christian fundamentalists against modern, rational thinkers  back in 1925.  In case you didn't know, Biblical literalists were around then too, trying desperately to keep evolution from being taught in the schools. The trial was a landmark case which resulted eventually in legitimizing Darwin and permitting evolution to be taught in America's public schools amidst much gnashing of Christian fundamentalist teeth.  Science and good sense triumphed in the end, though it was nip and tuck for awhile. 

But,if you are taught that science is the work of the devil and that intellectual curiosity will send you to hell as quickly as masturbation, then you are so threatened by a non-authoritarian world made up of all sorts of nuances, that you cling to absolute, black and white, simplistic thinking and a powerful, punishing God who will protect you if you do the right thing and destroy you if you don't.

So why am I not surprised that the same people who think President Obama was born in Kenya, evolution is a theory, global warming is a liberal plot, education (except at a good Bible College) is the work of the devil, and trust fund kids who earn more than $250,000 a year on their investments are " job creators," are willing to bring down the economy, not just of the United States, but of the entire world, in order to square reality with their whacked, fairy-tale view of the world. 

The brouhaha about raising the debt ceiling is what I am talking about.  The newly elected Tea Party congress-people are fighting fellow Republicans as well as the Democrats for power and most of them are -- you guessed it-- fundamentalist Christians  who really think they are doing God's work.

So, in the spirit of fellowship, I am turning off the TV and saying a prayer for the salvation of their little Tea Party souls and for the world economy.  God help us all and God help the United States of America. 

I agree with John McCain on this one. 


Guest Poster Political Packrat can be found at her blog, http://politicalpackrat.blogspot.com  or at @p2packrat on twitter. Your turn, Politicos - put your two cents in here at Momma Politico!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Momma Politico Is On The Air! How Progressives Are Banding Together Via Social Media To Fight The Good Fight

Social Media Jumble     technorati.com


First off this week, my fellow Politicos, I'd like to thank all of you who listened to my debut on A World of Progress online radio! Thanks to the generous spirit of my friend Kim, who is the publisher of the terrific progressive blog, A World of Progress, (follow her on twitter, too: @awopradio), I was invited to help her out and co-host her new weekly program. It all happened kind of quickly, but from the first time we spoke, I knew Kim and her AWOP family are my kind of progressives. She talked about how if everyone is doing what they can, whether it be blogging, tweeting, writing their legislators, what a huge difference that would make. Which is why she's doing her bit on progressive radio. We had so much fun on our test run, with Shelly, a great mom and liberal, just dishing the political dirt with like-minded progressives, that I couldn't wait for the show today. It was really a blast, and we actually had quite a few listeners for the first time out. We even had  "Breaking News" from our friend Nunzia Rider, AWOP's executive editor and Queen of the AWOP Chat Room!

If you haven't heard of BlogTalkRadio, well, you're missing the best thing since Milky Way came out with the bar that's just chocolate, caramel and no nougat. Have you had that yet? It's fantastic. I hated having to eat around the nougat...
Amazingly good. You must try it. (And, no, they didn't pay me either.) But I digress...

Anyhow, the BlogTalkRadio premise is that, using your computer and a phone line, you can host a radio show from your own living room. And I'll be damned if it didn't work! Check out our first podcast here (I'm on in the 2nd hour). Even the Little Politicos were cooperative and quiet, and The Hubby made room for my makeshift studio on the kitchen table - no wonder I love him! :) (And, no, I have not been paid by BlogTalkRadio - I was simply impressed with the ease of use and the fun we had.)

On the website, you have a full host screen in front of you - a switchboard for callers, a way to screen them, a place for sound bytes or recordings, and a way to tweet from within the screen. Another screen provides a chat room, which can be moderated or not as you wish. Even a countdown to air time and a cool "ON AIR" light, just like on WKRP in Cincinnatti! It was an easy interface to work and gave us what we needed to get the show on the air. Kim did make some herculean efforts, though - kudos, Girlfriend! She eliminated any audio delay, and conquered any tech issues like she'd been doing this thing her whole life. Impressive.

I was slated to speak on the GOP's attack on public education. Now, you know me, that means I spent a buncha time online doing my research. I had questions, and found some amazing, and some downright scary, answers. I was spread out all over the kitchen table, highlighter in hand and Sharpie behind my ear, pulling out salient points I wanted to bring out, typing up notes in Word, etc. Now I know why Rachel Maddow just spreads everything out on the floor - her "Paper Temple," as her staff calls it:
Because, honestly, trying to put everything in sequence and bring out the points you wish to discuss takes space...a lot of space! About an hour before showtime, I got it all organized, and then called in.

We met up online and found our way around the site: getting all of us connected, logged in, etc. We had done all we could do before showtime, so agreed to meet back in half an hour. Naturally, I spent the time revising my notes and research, labeling all the pages in Sharpie so I could see which pages referred to what, and just generally being nervous. Very nervous! What if we had no listeners? What if I blew it somehow in a public forum? I added a few extra water bottles to my kitchen-table studio in case of dry mouth...and before I knew it, we were listening to the countdown to air time. Kim cued up the intro music and off we went...

We did talk about the Rethug's war on public schools, and there were some great exchanges! But one issue led to others, and we talked about a myriad of issues. The first two guests couldn't hear those of us on the phone line due to technical difficulties...hey, what would a first show be without at least one little glitch? But Kim handled it beautifully, asking our questions about local North Carolina politics - it was interesting, and I learned quite a bit! The second hour was my segment, with a terrific mom and progressive named Shelly. The three of us spoke over each other a bit, but other than that, I think we did well. If you have a chance, please listen to the podcast and give us some feedback. We'd love to hear from you. We'll spit and polish things each week, as we refine the show and respond to listener feedback, so hearing from you, my fellow Politicos and loyal readers, is important!

But the hour afterward was what impressed me the most. I'd been tweeting all week about the show, and found out afterward a good number of my followers supported me by following @awopradio on twitter as well. If they didn't listen to the show when it aired, many helped by re-tweeting the messages I sent, and the link to the podcast, too. Friends from Michigan and Ohio tweeted me to congratulate us on the show, and added some of their own commentary - my twitter feed was hopping for a good hour and a half after the show ended. Several folks offered to retweet for us next week, and others wanted to follow me on Digg and StumbleUpon. And some went ahead and retweeted my last blogpost - so thoughtful. I had some great conversations with other progressives - some may call in next time, and others are happy to promote us. What was striking about the whole experience was how progressives from all over the country were able to have a conversation - whether via text, tweet, email or @awopradio - about what's going on in our country and were able to come together to support each other.

Social media can be isolating, at times, and even overwhelming. In this strange new world, how do I find time to tweet, text, Digg, Stumble, blog, Facebook, twitpic, Google+ or one of a million other new nouns that are now verbs??? But, at its best, social media can bring together the energy and intellect of progressives across the country, even the globe, to make a difference and band together to fight the good fight. And that's what it felt like happened today. And that's what we, as a progressive, left-leaning community have to keep in mind every day. That's the endgame. As Kim said, in her light little Texas/No. Carolina twang, "everybody doing the one thing they can" - that's where our power to change this democracy lives.

Loving the online radio, gotta say. And my undying gratitude to Kim from A World of Progress Radio for the great co-host gig - I am even more excited about the possibilities ahead! I had a blast today. Please do stop by A World of Progress - amazing blog, and some fantastic people like Nunzia onboard.

No worries, though, my fellow Politicos. I'll still be blogging and tweeting up a storm (all right, maybe just a light squall...I'm not that prolific!) and Momma Politico will continue to be alive and well. Hope to hear from some of you on what topics you'd like to see covered on the next show...and what you thought of the first one! And, as always, I'd love for you to put your two cents in: social media, blessing or curse? Isolating or unifying? You tell me, here at Momma Politico.