Sunday, September 4, 2016

Labor. OUR day is every day.

I've been looking forward to Labor Day since midnight of last year's Labor Day. As of late, I've been making sure to attend at least two cities' celebration of our day. (Milwaukee and Racine)

It's the one day when I get to see everyone together from events/actions throughout the rest of the year where we have participated as "fractioned causes". Teachers have had actions. Building Trades have had actions. Organizations doing things such as #FightFor15 held actions. Community activists have furthered their causes throughout the year.

By the end of the day my cheeks are usually sore from the amount of smiling that takes place. It's a celebration. Often I am lucky to have participated in so many actions that I sometimes forget that they took place - until I see the faces of those that I was lucky enough to stand with. Every Labor Day is a reminder of the past year.

It's also a look into the future.

Since 2011 when the reprobate Scott Walker and the Banana Republicans invaded Wisconsin, working people have had their share of gut punches. We've learned that in order to avoid the finishing stomp on our heads that we need to get up as quickly as possible.

After every single attack we as a collective have done exactly that. Got up and dusted ourselves off.

We know where these attacks come from, and, we understand that we aren't going to stop them any time soon. We know that we'll still be getting sucker punched next week, and, we prepare ourselves as best as we are able.

Instead of doubt where we stand it emboldens us. It makes us stronger - more determined to win the war.

It forges us.

By now you know our history. Chances are that before 2011, you may not have known what Wisconsin gave birth to: Public sector unions. Workers Comp. Unemployment compensation. Weekends. The 8 hour day.

Wisconsin also gave birth to those of us who call it home. The two are inseparable. WE are Wisconsin. Our ancestors didn't just give birth to us - they gave birth to ideas that respect the work that we do. We owe it to them to take back what is rightfully ours. For those of us who belong to unions, we understand that our fight is for every worker whether they have representation or not. All work deserves respect. All workers deserve respect.

On this Labor Day I just wanted to write a quick reminder, and, a "thank you".
Thank you for refusing to give up. Thank you for fighting throughout the year.

Thank you for understanding that every day is Labor Day.

Looking forward to seeing you on Monday.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

So, you wanna vote for Jill Stein?

Go ahead then. Vote for her.

I'll make you a deal. I won't try to bully you, or, belittle you into voting for Hillary Clinton. In return, you stop posting right-wing theories or accusations telling me that I'm a "neocon".

I get it. I really do. You're beyond disappointed that Bernie didn't win. You're convinced that he had the election stolen.

You want to make the U.S. a better place for all.

I do too. I don't honestly think that the Primary was stolen, but, I do think that there was a definite bias that favored Hillary. I'd like to think that what I've done shows what's important to me. I've seen you around, and, know that we do see eye-to-eye.

Here's an idea. Let's remember how we stood together in opposition to Governor Walker and everything that he did to Wisconsin. The only thing that has changed is that the Banana Republicans have become more entrenched through use of voter suppression, creating WEDC, trying to break down unions, make it easier to use bribery to influence elections, and probably the worst thing done - gerrymandering of our districts.

Let me ask you how the Presidential election will affect what we stood next to each other in opposition to.

If Trump wins, Wisconsin will get exported to every other state. I don't think that there's any doubt about that. We can kiss the Supreme Court adios, and, for most of you reading this who have been paying attention to how a Supreme Court can affect legislation - as it did in Wisconsin - you understand what that will bring.

Right to Work for Less will be making it's way to the SCOTUS. How do you think Trump appointed justices will decide? (and remember - they are selected for life)

It's not too difficult to see why I have no hesitation with who I will be casting my vote. All that one needs to do is look at Trump.

Now, I'm pretty sure that Trump is so horrible that Hillary wins it. By a lot.

Let's fast forward to the presidential election in 2020. What do you think that will look like? Can we afford to let the Banana Republicans become entrenched throughout the country as they have in Wisconsin?

With a Hillary victory, it's going to create a backlash that will make what Obama has faced seem like nothing.

That's why I'm writing this. We need each other to make things how they need to be. I've stopped posting negative things about Jill Stein not because I don't believe them, but, because I want to work with Stein supporters to create change.

Locally we have huge issues that don't have a chance to be addressed while we decide who is best to beat Trump.

We can all agree that we can't afford Trump just like we all agreed that we need to remove Walker.
Let's keep working on removing Walker and the rest of the Banana Republicans. There will be more than one name that we can agree on on the November ballot. Let's get them elected.

Let's keep the pressure on the Democratic Party to hear us. I'm listening, and, I'm talking. We have friends in the house. No need to throw eggs at it - we are already inside. You're invited in as well.

Who you vote for is your choice. You also have another choice with how you wish to view those who you stood next to in the past.

The way I see it - there is only one enemy. No need to create more.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Why does State Rep. Christine Sinicki have a primary?

It's an honor to announce the very first candidate that "Iron Stache" has chosen to endorse (ever) is State Rep. Christine Sinicki.

For anyone remotely involved with Wisconsin politics - especially since the incursion of the extreme Banana Republican extremists - the name Chrsitine Sinicki is well known.

For starters, I live in a gerrymandered assembly district that has Tom Weatherston seated, and unaccountable to anyone.

Just over one year ago, I had trouble connecting with a state agency. (Unemployment) Calls are never returned from Weatherston, so I posted something about it on Facebook. Rep. Sinicki sent me a private message informing me to call her office with details.

I did.

Within hours, I received a call from the Dept. of Workforce Development.

Mission accomplished.

All that it took was a call from someone who cared in order to get things moving.

Christine Sinicki has been a "regular" at events involving Labor and Veterans - both are Causes very near to my heart. I consider her my "adoptive state rep". (I am not the only one)

After the Republican state senate cut short listening to peoples' testimony for fear of a "credible threat" taking place. (turned out to be a peaceful "sit-in" asking to keep testimony open until everyone could be heard) she contacted me as one who sits on the Assembly Labor Committee and promised to allow me to testify before that body. I did, and, was able to be heard. I will be forever grateful for that.

I'm not sure why she has an opponent who claims to be in support of everything that she has been supporting since she has been elected, but, I do know one of the people who is pushing the issue.
It's a person who does political work for a union who has some kind of issue with Rep. Sinicki cancelling an event. (after all of the other attendees has agreed not to attend as well)

The kicker? Even this clown's union that he gets paid to work for has come out in strong support of Sinicki!

Want to get kicked again? The opponent - Julie Meyers - belongs to a union. Even her union has endorsed Rep. Sinicki!

Why is every union who stood against Scott Walker since he "dropped the bomb" supporting Rep. Sinicki? The answer is very simple. She has a 100% AFL-CIO rating.

Blogging Blue found an interesting item regarding where Meyers gets the money to run her campaign.

None of it makes sense to me. Truth be told, I have not met Mrs. Meyers, but, I was recently shown a video, and, I now feel like I at least understand her husband.
It would appear that he likes to try to settle issues with his fists.

Between having this guy trying to goad people into "jumping if you feel froggy" and a campaign funded by a Temp Agency exec who regularly donated to the extreme Wisconsin Banana Republicans, I know where I'd put my support - solidly alongside Rep Christine Sinicki.

Please also check out an excellent piece from Capper at CogDis.

Blogging Blue has a terrific take as well.

Aside from choosing an incumbent over one of those "fake Dems", I don't believe that I have ever felt as strongly about a primary as this one.

This Tuesday - please tell anyone you care about who lives in Wisconsin's 20th Assembly District to make sure they show up at the polls and vote for Christine.

Wisconsin thanks you!

EDIT: It has been brought to my attention that this isn't the first time Mr. Meyers has been involved with harassment.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Haters gonna hate

Lemond Cransten has a few bones to pick with me after I admonished CEO Ron Johnson (R- Dimwitistan) for not publicly calling out Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump after he accused U.S. veterans of stealing tax dollars meant to rebuild Iraq.

The op-ed piece can be read here:
Sen. Ron Johnson should renounce Donald Trump - Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

The other day as I checked my mail, I found nested envelopes with only a name (that I'm betting isn't the person's real name) as a point of contact.

As you can see, the letter is postmarked from Green Bay. Obviously, "Mr. Cransten" must get a good deal of ribbing being a Chicago Bear fan living in Titletown. (it would explain the actual letter)
I am guessing that he also is quite miserable from having Trump as his Party's nominee. (with good reason)

Behold the actual letter:

Let's start at the beginning.
He demoted me. "PVT E-1" is a recruit. The man has power. When I ETSed with an Honorable Discharge in 1986, I was paid as an E-4, but, wore sergeant stripes due to what was known as an "AJ (Acting Jack) promotion".

He then went on to inform me that I don't speak for "real veterans". Interesting. I was elected just over one year ago to be chair for the DPW - Veteran Caucus. Perhaps Mr. Cransten only thinks that Republicans can be veterans? What I find interesting is that I really look forward to any activities that I take part in with regard to veteran issues as it's one place where veterans of all political persuasions can find common ground. It's why I jumped at the chance to be a part of the Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce. At our kickoff event, there was a very pro-RTW4L Republican State Representative who I made a beeline for to thank for attending. Veteran issues are a chance to unite. They provide the ability to open doors and minds in order to at least get us to talk to people who in this very divided State would never do so.

At events where there are pro-Labor and pro-Tea Party supporters, I always make it a point to seek out those opposed to Labor (an issue very near to my heart) who wear evidence of prior Service. (hat, or t-shirt) I thank them for Serving. I make sure that they are aware that it takes non-political soldiers to perform tasks that allow us to make our voices heard once we leave active duty.

I shake their hand with sincerity.

Moving on...

I am called a "non-combatant". Central America in the mid-80s was never defined as being an active duty war zone. I do recall digging out a bullet that magically appeared in a sandbag not more than 3 feet from where my head was located after hearing a pop followed by sand spilling out.
Let's call Mr. Cransten technically correct as I did not receive an Expeditionary medal, yet, always had a loaded weapon with me. When we travelled to certain parts of certain countries, it was mandatory to carry a concealed M1911A1. (.45 pistol) Rounds were fired.

He goes on to call me a "gooFy LiberaL ASS-hole".
Okay. Points for Lemont here. Points taken.

However further along in the sentence he accuses me of "not loving my country."
This is where the center ring of Lemont's "circus of ignorance" gets the attention of every spotlight in the house, and, it only gets better from this point on.

Anyone who Served obviously loves their country. If he had truly read what was written in the op-ed, he would know that the main reason it was written was to call out Trump's accusation for accusing other veterans of stealing something that did not belong to them.

There are no political parties in a foxhole. Ass-u-me (ing) that Mr. Cransten is a veteran, Trump accused men just like him of being a thief. I think that's all that needs to be mentioned about where Trump's (and Ron Johnson's) followers heads' are located.

Added to the brilliant letter is "I Bet your (sic) a queer besiDes"
Dude. *you're
And, sorry, but if this was your way of asking me out on a date, I am heterosexual. I do have gay friends. I cherish their friendship very very much. Every one of them makes my life better for knowing them. How Republican of you to try to use that as a means to insult me.

Lastly, he goes on to accuse me of fabricating titles and organizations while signing his name as having a fictional position in a nonexistent group.

Mr. Cransten - please reread the op ed. You confused two separate groups into one. Links are provided in this piece to help you locate them.

Thank you for the laugh. It really did make my day. I also appreciate your efforts with choosing the stationary that I am sure you reserve for any letters that you get enough nerve to communicate with that don't involve crayons.

As you seem to exhibit some initiative by reaching out to me, yet, lacking in the courage that most veterans have by providing a means to reply, please consider this public blog post my attempt to respond to your sophisticated thoughts.

Randy Bryce
E-4 - 95B
U.S. Army 1983-86
XVIII Airborne Corps Rapid Deployment Forces - Ft. Bragg, N.C.

P.S. I seem to have repeatedly misspelled your last name. I doubt you were even aware until I just brought it to your attention.  I hope you have a fantastic day.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Do you know why teachers are being murdered?

I learn about a lot of goings on through social media. I actually prefer learning what's going on in the world that way. I get to choose who I pay attention do - the media doesn't get to choose what I see.

One story that caught my eye was on the verge of being unbelievable. It had to do with teachers. In Wisconsin, we are aware of the kinds of attacks that are being faced every day. After Scott Walker was elected dictator, one of the first things that he did was go after public employees - to include public educators - with Act 10. Not only did this take away the teachers' voice with regard to working conditions, but, his budget also included the largest funding cuts to public education in the history of the state!

Attacks on education are going on all across the world. Working and living conditions are bad here, but, teachers are not being imprisoned or killed for standing up for their students.

At least not yet. Not here.

The story is different just south of the U.S. border:

"On Sunday night, June 12, as Ruben Nuñez, head of Oaxaca’s teachers union, was leaving a meeting in Mexico City, his car was overtaken and stopped by several large king-cab pickup trucks. Heavily armed men in civilian clothes exited and pulled him, another teacher, and a taxi driver from their cab, and then drove them at high speed to the airport. Nuñez was immediately flown over a thousand miles north to Hermosillo, Sonora, and dumped into a high-security federal lockup.

Just hours earlier, unidentified armed agents did the same thing in Oaxaca itself, taking prisoner Francisco Villalobos, the union’s second-highest officer, and flying him to the Hermosillo prison as well. Villalobos was charged with having stolen textbooks a year ago. Nuñez’s charges are still unknown." (source)

If jail isn't bad enough for trying to tell the world what is happening there is always another method to shut someone up:

If you'd like to know a little more about what's going on, please check out the following link from "In These Times"

On Friday night a few friends got together on the front lawn of the Mexican Consulate in Milwaukee to do what friends do - stand up for each other. We wanted to bring attention to what's going on in Mexico and educate the public.

It's what educators do. I'm not a teacher, but, who I am is a result of them.

Please - read about the story. Make some calls. Let people know.
Here is a list of numbers and contacts.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Senator Ron Johnson Should Renounce Donald Trump -Op-Ed Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel - 6/20/2016

At a campaign event last week, Donald Trump accused American troops of stealing funds earmarked for rebuilding Iraq. Naturally, after an immediate backlash to Trump's bizarre attempt to score political points by smearing servicemen and women who served honorably in Iraq, his campaign backpedaled and tried to claim that he wasn't actually referring to American soldiers. But the damage was done; Trump showed his true colors and the disdain he feels for America's veterans.
Of course, this isn't the first time Trump has demonstrated a total lack of respect for veterans. After he bragged about having raised millions of dollars, including $1 million of his own money, for veterans' causes back in January, it became clear that this claim was dishonest. Not only did the fundraiser raise far less than he claimed, Trump did not actually donate the $1 million of his own money until it became the subject of intense media scrutiny four months later. 
As a veteran, these incidents are particularly painful for me to watch, but as an American I am also shocked and angered on a daily basis at Trump's slanderous comments about women, people with disabilities, immigrants and Muslim Americans. 
Trump has proved himself to be not only vulgar and offensive, but also unpredictable and irresponsible, with little respect for freedom of the press or our rule of law. Having Trump in the Oval Office — and at the helm of America's military — would pose a serious threat to our security.
Unfortunately, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has refused to show the political courage to denounce this dangerous demagogue. He said that he would "support" the nominee, but not endorse him, as though there is any meaningful difference, and even went so far as to say he would campaign with Trump in Wisconsin. In spite of his recent claims that he does not support Trump's proposed ban on Muslim immigration to the United States, Johnson has still not denounced Trump or acknowledged the threat he poses to our country.
Choosing his party and his political career over the interests of our nation is indefensible, and history will not judge kindly those who stayed silent and failed to show leadership in this critical moment.
Birds of a feather flock together. Johnson has an opportunity to be a leader by unequivocally denouncing Trump and all that he stands for. If he does not support Trump's racist rhetoric and his attacks on America's veterans, it's time he said so. 
Randy Bryce is an Army veteran who serves as president of the Veterans Chamber of Commerce and chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party's Veterans Caucus.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Don't Expect Mushy Posts Like This on a Regular Basis...

One of the better things to be found in my divorce documentation is the part that states that I get to be with my son on Father's Day.

I get along very well with his mother these days. Nearly all of our communication deals with things that our son needs, or, what is going on in his life. We also text pictures to each other of fun things that we are doing with him. 

There were times when I wondered how a divorce would affect him. I wondered if he would be resentful that his mom and dad were no longer together. Thankfully, it never became an issue.

I don't get to see him as frequently as I would like, but, I understand that his mother misses him just as much when she isn't with him as I do when he's with her. We both dread when "our time" is up, but, both know that he'll be happy as soon as we hug each other goodbye.

In a way it's a good thing. Because the time we share isn't done every day, the hours that we have together mean that much more. For some odd reason, the kid never gets tired of hearing how amazing he is.

He really is.

More than that though, he genuinely is a miracle.

Not too long after getting out of the Army, I was diagnosed with Cancer. I didn't have insurance at the time, but, was lucky enough to get steered to the Medical College of Wisconsin. I was kind of a guinea pig. The treatment often consisted of a group of medical students being present. I did have a doctor that was in charge, and, I'll never forget him. The reason I bring this up is because the treatment involved surgery to remove the tumor. A lot of surgery. I was told that I probably wouldn't have children as a result of everything that they did to me.

Well, I did.

When we found out Ben's mom was pregnant, I was stunned. (in a good way) Almost in disbelief. We already had a house together, and were in a committed relationship, but, the news changed everything. It pushed a wedding ahead of schedule.

I may no longer be a husband, but, I will always be a son. And a dad. Even though the marriage didn't last, I can honestly say that my appreciation for fatherhood and motherhood increased.

I'm getting ready to go pick my son up now at his mother's house. (We split everything up 50/50. She got the inside of the house. I got the outside :))

Right now I miss him, but, that is soon going to change. He's helped me learn not to start counting down how much time we have left, but, to fully appreciate every moment that we have together. Every minute that I'm with him is proof that miracles take place.

When we're not together, I have dedicated my time to making sure that his future is brighter. These days it's taking a lot more effort than I'd care to expend, but, it keeps me occupied. It helps speed up the time that we're not together.

When I go to pick him up after school, I always have a smile on my face. That place is filled with miracles. Maybe one of your miracles is there?

Not only am I thankful on Father's Day to have a dad, but, I am thankful to be a dad. I'm thankful to believe in miracles. They take place every day. I'm thankful to those of you reading this who help me make a better future for our miracles. It's like lighting someone else's candle with your own. The light on yours doesn't get dimmer while you do it, but, it helps everyone by doing so.

So, THANK YOU! is what this is basically all about. Happy Father's Day everyone. Appreciate what you have to appreciate. It's not what you don't have that's important, but what you do have and being grateful for.

Without a son, I'm not a dad - and the sooner I hit the "publish" button to magically make this appear on the interwebs, the sooner I get to share some smiles with my miracle...