Who Am I?

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I served in the US Navy from 2002-08; four of those years were as a Nuclear Propulsion Operator aboard an aircraft carrier. I engage in political activism in various Democratic circles when I am able to. I have a cat, and I am an uncle.

All opinions that I express are my own and do not reflect the views of any organization that I represent.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


First, my previous post was a joke and some shameful promotion. Season 4 of House of Cards drops on Netflix on 4 March.

Second, this is who I am endorsing later tonight at the Colorado Caucuses.

A disclaimer before I announce my endorsement.

There is a lot at stake in this upcoming election. Anyone who is advocating going “My candidate or nothing” (and I will address this in another post) should say hello to a possible President Trump.

This is true if you live in one of the five states that has gone for the electoral college winner in the last four elections. If you live in Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Nevada, and Virginia and you are a Democrat or align yourself with liberal-progressive views, it is your duty to your country to support whoever is the Democratic nominee. President Barack Obama has accomplished a lot. Off the top of my head: health care reform, Dodd-Frank financial reform, the stimulus, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal, expanded hate crimes legislation, reauthorizing and expanding the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Lilly Ledbetter, neutralizing Osama bin Laden, nuclear weapons proliferation treaty, possible thawing of relations with Cuba and Iran, and supporting marriage equality.

If a Republican gets into the White House, they will certainly reverse those positions with a Republican-led congress and the opportunity to return the Supreme Court to an at best 5-4 conservative lean for another generation. Republicans are planning on keeping that Scalia seat vacant until 20 January 2017 with the hopes that they will keep the Senate and flip the White House.

I say let’s deny that hope.

If you are disappointed that your candidate did not win the nomination, it will pale in comparison to how the country and those the most marginalized will suffer under a Republican president.

Again I will address the “My candidate or nothing” crowd in another post.

Vote who you want in the primary, but come the general election it is “Vote Blue No Matter Who.”

Now my endorsement (which is worthless to either candidate)

I, Michael Watts, hereby endorse…

My reasons are this.

Mrs. Hillary Clinton has an impressive resume as does Senator Bernie Sanders. Clinton was First Lady of Arkansas where she advocated for the issues of children regarding their rights, access to equal education, and quality health care. As First Lady of the United States, Clinton advocated for universal health care as shown in this 1993 congressional hearing. Even though she was unsuccessful, Congress did pass State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

In September 1995, Hillary Clinton addressed the Fourth Women’s Conference in Beijing, China. This was controversial because this was a sitting First Lady who was getting involved in foreign policy. In her keynote, Clinton addressed the delegates with the crazy notion that “Women’s rights are human rights.”

In 2000, Clinton became the first First Lady to be elected to the US Senate winning a seat vacated due to the retirement of Daniel Patrick Moynihan. In the US Senate she served on five committees: Budget; Armed Services; Environment and Public Works; Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; and Special Committee on Aging.

After the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center in her state, Clinton advocated for the health care of the first responders as well as the funding to rebuild the site.

Clinton found common ground with Republicans during her senate career which I feel is important because after this election it is likely that the Republicans will hold on to the House due to gerrymandering has given them an unfair advantage. She worked with Tennessee Senator Bill Frist to work on modernizing medical records. Newt Gingrich, who was thorn in her husband’s side in the 1990s as House Speaker, and she worked on a plan to support incremental universal health care coverage.

She also held firm to her beliefs even when it was a lost cause. In 2005 she voted against confirming John Roberts as Chief Justice and Samuel Alito as Associate Justice. The Senate, with Republicans in the majority, confirmed Roberts and Alito and those two would later make up the conservative wing of the court and voted in the majority in Citizens United, Shelby County, and Hobby Lobby. She sought to create a bipartisan panel to investigate the lack of response by various government levels in the Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts but could not get the two-thirds majority to do so.

Upon the announcement that the Lilly Ledbetter decision was ruled, Clinton introduced legislation to address pay inequalities between men and women. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act was one of the first bills that President Barack Obama signed into law.

Hillary Clinton last ran for president in 2008. Even though she lost the nomination to Barack Obama, 18 million people cast a ballot for her (ok, 17.9 million). But no woman has gotten that many votes in any presidential election.

After Barack Obama’s election, he was assembling his cabinet at his Chicago headquarters. Obama asked Clinton to be his Secretary of State. At first Clinton was hesitant knowing there were people more qualified than her and she wanted to focus on continuing career in the US Senate. Clinton pointing out that she was needed there to help pass any legislation he proposed. Obama made it known to Clinton that the economy is worse than we thought and he needed her as Secretary of State to handle anything in the international arena.

Foreign policy was her one of her realms as she traveled to 82 countries during her time as First Lady. As Secretary of State, Clinton traveled to 112 countries surpassing the record held by Madeline Albright who traveled to 98 countries.

One the things that Senator Sanders supporters use to point out why Clinton should not be the nominee is her Iraq War vote. Sanders voted against the resolution in the House while Clinton voted for it in the Senate.

But so did Senators Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Schumer, Herb Kohl, and John Edwards.

Here are some more familiar names that voted for that resolution: Joe Biden and John Kerry.

Today they are known as Vice-President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry. The president they serve under is this guy:

The one who called the Iraq War a “dumb war” at an anti-war rally when he was a state senator in October 2002.

And Obama’s Secretary of State from 2009-13 was Hillary Clinton.

Clinton voted against the Iraq War Troop Surge in 2007. As a freshman senator, Senator Sanders voted for it.

They cite that Hillary Clinton only recently endorsed same-sex marriage and supported Bill Clinton when he signed the Defense of Marriage Act and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Senator Sanders voted against these policies when he was in the House but he is not the fierce advocate as his supporters claim. In July 1996, his chief of staff told the Associated Press that Sanders opposed the law based on Constitutional grounds and that states must respect the laws made in other states.

In 1999, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that that the state had to guarantee protections to same-sex couples. Sanders applauded the decision, but…

The second part of the decision stated that the Vermont legislature had to decide the issue. Peter Clavelle succeeded Sanders as Burlington, VT mayor and supported same-sex marriage in 2000. Sanders, as Vermont’s lone US Representative, was silent on the subject.

The Vermont legislature created civil unions in July 2000. It became a topic in the gubernatorial election, but the incumbent, Howard Dean, survived re-election.

Six years later the Bush administration proposed a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman. Sanders spoke out against it stating that it was being used to divide Americans, BUT… when asked if Vermont should embrace marriage equality, Sanders said no based on the battle that Vermont went through. In the US Senate debate that year, Sanders cited that marriage is a state issue which has been a talking point used by those that opposed same-sex marriage.

It wasn’t until 2009 when Sanders came around to supporting same-sex marriage which was the same year that Vermont expanded marriage rights to include same-sex couples.

It should be noted that Clinton voted against the constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman when it came to a vote in the Senate in July 2004 and June 2006.

So like Clinton, Sanders too has evolved on this issue. Many people have evolved on the issue of LGBT rights.

Like yours truly.

Another knock on Clinton is that she is too close to Wall Street and that her relationships with the financial sector perpetuated the 2008 crash and that Bernie Sanders is pure.

I could go on.

Sanders praised Hillary Clinton for promising to remove the three and ten year bars against returning immigrants despite that Sanders voted for that bill in 1996. Bill Clinton’s 1994 Crime Bill law is being cited as one of the reasons why the United States leads the world in most people imprisoned and Hillary Clinton is under attack for a 1996 speech regarding who is committing crimes. She has since apologized for the remarks. Again, Senator Sanders voted for the crime bill when he was a member of the House. Sanders cited that the crime bill included VAWA and an assault weapons ban. Yes, VAWA was included, but not the assault weapons ban.

There is also the F-35, a $1.2-TRILLION fighter jet that does not work. An Air Force official acknowledged that the F-35 is 10 years behind legacy fighters. Senator Sanders lobbied for the aircraft to be built in Vermont despite there is growing opposition in his state to this project.

I acknowledge that Sanders has brought many issues that have been largely ignored to the forefront in his campaign specifically student loan debt and Wall Street’s influence on our politics. He has possibly made the Democratic Party better at making their argument by citing a moral crisis. I hope that his most passionate supporters keep the flame going and look at influencing those ever-so-important down ballot races. If you are in favor of the policies and want to impact change that Senator Sanders is advocating, start with those local races.

Remember, Senator Sanders did not just burst on to the scene all of a sudden. He was elected Burlington, VT mayor in 1981. Nine years later, as an independent, Sanders was elected to the US House. In 2006, Sanders was part of the Democrats re-taking Congress for the first time in 12 years as a rebuke to the W. Bush policies. He was re-elected in 2012 and has a prominent following. I remember watching parts of his senate filibuster in December 2010 on the Bush Tax Cuts being extended (full text). It’s no Wendy Davis filibuster (2011, 2013), but it’s good.

I respect that Sanders has built a movement in his home state, and I hope that inspires future Bernie Sanderses in down ballot races. I am seeing that in a candidate for University of Colorado Board of Regents in CD-1 as one of his campaign planks is the issue of the rising cost of college.

Democrats should be proud of these two candidates. For the most part this campaign has been relatively positive compared to the shit show clown car nominating process by the Republicans.

As Senator Bernie Sanders stated during a debate, “On our worst days… we are 100 times better than any Republican candidate.”

In another debate a week later, Mrs. Clinton said she is, “not a single issue candidate and this is not a single issue country, because if we were going to achieve everything about banks and money and politics, would that end racism? Would that make it automatically going to happen that people will be able to get the jobs they deserve, the housing the need, the education their children should have?”

And she is correct.

And I think in this election she will put up the best fight against the Republicans and fight for the issues that Democrats care about and continue the fight when she is sworn in as out first woman president on 20 January 2017.

President Barack Obama’s legacy is on the line and we must passionately defend and eventually expand on it.

On a personal note I would like to close this endorsement with this: I see a lot of the women important in my life in Hillary Clinton. I see my mother in working in the health care sector for many years which was something that Clinton advocated for. I see my aunt who is a doctor who is the middle of changing careers much like Clinton did many times from being a lawyer to being a teacher to holding ceremonial titles of First Lady to being a US Senator and most recently Secretary of State. I see that same aunt who just became a mother through the adoption of an African-American teenage son and the concerns she will face in the prejudices and opportunities.

I also see my sister who is a mother and my mother, like Clinton, is a grandmother. I think about my niece.

So tonight, let us ask ourselves – if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment

My niece’s birthday is 8 November.

This is our moment to answer the call.

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