Hold your head high, kid.

Watching the live Wisconsin recall election returns feels like watching the Superbowl — if the Decepticons were playing against the Justice League. As I type, the score is: Decepticons – 3, Justice League – 2. We’re in overtime, and somebody’s about to win. Big.

The crowd behind MSNBC’s Ed Schultz is clearly rooting for the Justice League, and so am I. As we wait for the final votes to be counted in the race between Sandy Pasch (D) and Alberta Darling (R), a very familiar uneasiness is rearing its ugly head — that head belonging to one Kathy Nickolaus, Waukesha County Clerk.

Perhaps you might remember Nickolaus from the Wisconsin Supreme Court brouhaha in which two days after the results were announced, the clerk miraculously discovered over 14,000 votes she neglected to tally. Rachel Maddow dubbed Nickolaus as “the only famous county clerk in the entire nation.” Once again tonight, the country is on the edge of its seat wondering why in the world Kathy Nickolaus and Waukesha County are unable to count votes in a timely manner using the same voting software and equipment that caused no controversy anywhere else in the state.

Something fishy this way comes. Again.

Behind Ed Schultz stands a young girl holding a sign and an American flag. Earlier in the evening, she seemed hopeful, obviously excited every time the Justice League pulled ahead. Now, as the shenanigans have become apparent in Waukesha County, her face is full of real anxiety.

I remember how this feels. When Reagan won, I was about the same age and cried all night because I was scared that he was going to blow up the planet. (Turns out, he only ruined the middle class.) I wish I could tell this kid that’s it’s going to be okay.

But I can’t…

…because it was just announced that Alberta Darling has won.

Hold your head high, kid. Don’t cry tonight; just keep fighting the Decepticons.

Why does Chase Bank hate animal rescue so much?

This week, volunteers for a well-respected Dallas area animal rescue group, DFW Rescue Me, were denied access to one of their adoption sites because Chase Bank did not want to risk possible damage to the grass in the parking lot from the group’s walking dogs. Although the volunteers with DFW Rescue Me maintain they do and will continue to clean up any excrement, the branch representative still would not compromise with the pet store who was sponsoring the event, nor would Chase entertain the idea of the rescue workers being allowed to use any part of the shopping center away from its grassy areas.

For those of you who might be wondering: Yes, this is the same Chase Bank that was amongst the top four failing financial institutions bailed out recently by the American people in an unprecedented giveaway of around 800 billion dollars in total. They pissed on our lawns for years with their poor mismanagement and complete disregard for business ethics, yet the company is unwilling to clean up its mess with the public even after we rolled up our sleeves and did the dirty work for them.

Here is what Jim Wenger, Co-founder of Rescue Me, has to add:

For further information on how you can assist, contact DFW Rescue Me. The animal service has a variety of volunteer opportunities available and is always accepting donations at any level. This is a well-operated, professional, non-profit organization that deserves to be honored in our community.

If you have an account with Chase that needs to be closed or would just like to voice your opinion, contact the company at: 1-877-682-4273. If you would like to call the specific branch of Chase responsible for waging this campaign against animal rescue, please contact its management: (214) 827-8611. While you’re on hold, shoot Chase an email, too.

I haven’t seen it with thine own eyes, but this grassy area in the parking lot must be one of the world’s seven wonders in order to elicit such protective measures. Is it solid gold? Is it landscaped with moon rocks? Who knows! Let’s go see. If you would like to check out Chase’s grassy area in question — perhaps even with a friend who has paws, the location is: 6310 E Mockingbird Lane, Dallas TX, 75214.

You might need directions. I’d hate for you to miss this spectacle of spectacles known as The Grassy Area in Chase Bank’s Parking Lot:

6310 East Mockingbird Lane, Dallas, TX 75214 – Google Maps

—————————————————————————

Update: 8:46 p.m. from DFW Rescue Me: “We have had an overwhelming response from our DFW Rescue Me supporters. The branch manager has contacted us and we are working towards a resolution. Chase bank is very much in support of our rescue efforts and it was the actions of one misguided employee that caused the situation.” Michael from DFWRM adds: “I’m hoping that if we’re successful in resolving this problem, we can then get the same kind of response with animal friendly folks sending thank you’s to Chase for modifying their position!” Stay posted.

—————————————

LATEST UPDATE 10/2011: Given every opportunity to right the situation, Chase Bank has opted to ignore the staggering number of requests from the Dallas community. In fact, everything Chase assured the rescue about supporting adoption efforts and DFW’s bevy of concerned citizens has yet to be demonstrated by the financial institution’s failure to act. Like other local businesses, Chase was even offered the opportunity to sponsor an event through the State Fair of Texas and repair the bank’s less than philanthropic appearance locally as a result of the animal rescue episode. Instead of becoming part of a community solution, Chase, by its continued lack of solidarity and unwillingness to rectify the rash actions of its branch representative in the above instance, has made the decision to stand against helping animals on euthanasia lists find homes. 

It is important to understand that taxpayers locally spend $111 on average every three minutes to euthanize animals. Chase has blocked a solution to this crisis, choosing to ignore many taxpayers’ wishes. That’s pretty high and mighty of them after how hard we worked to bail them out of their gross financial mismanagement just a few years ago. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Banned Books

As a young mother, I took my daughter to the library for story hour at least twice a week for years. Without a doubt, it was the best way I could have ever helped her get a head start on just about everything. One thing always stood out for me most on our trips to the “Museum of Books” — the signs hanging all over the children’s section that told them to: “Read Banned Books.”

It was a brave thing, I thought, and a great point. If we don’t read banned books, we’re not living in a democracy where Freedom of Speech is respected. So, yes, at all costs read banned books!

Recently, reports surfaced that Republic High School (Republic, MO) banned Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five. Well, alright. That’s one way to get high school kids off of Facebook long enough to bend the spine of a GREAT piece of literature. After all, the fastest way to convince a teenager to try something is to label it “forbidden.”

On Friday, the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis responded by offering the students free copies of SH5. But there’s a “but”: The institution doesn’t have a fat wallet, and they are asking for your help. With only enough funding to provide Missouri students with 150 novels, plus shipping, the institution is requesting supporters and all those who find book-banning distasteful to make $5 donations via PayPal so that every student who requests a novel can be included.

And God bless you…Kurt Vonnegut! (For the nerds, heh.)

Bank of America gets schooled, I mean, totally pwn3d by DC “classroom.”

Yesterday, the DC chapter of US Uncut, a non-profit organization against unnecessarily obscene tax shelters for corporate giants such as Bank of America, staged a flash-mob protest inside the lobby of a DC BoA location.

Students, educators, children, and concerned citizens entered the building and signed in to speak with a representative about opening an account. While waiting for an appointment on the busy Saturday at the bank, the large group peacefully opened their books (see covers!) and held a lesson about paying taxes and pondering possible reasons why BoA was able to make 4.4 billion dollars profit without paying any taxes, amongst other related topics.

This is a bravely effective, peaceful demonstration. The duration is about twenty minutes; however, the information shared by the students and their teacher is delivered in such a hilarious manner that it’s worth your time. Judging from their reactions, the bank representatives might disagree.

Many exclamation points and kudos for the US Uncut DC chapter (see link for complete details of the protest) as well as to all who participated in various protests held yesterday around the entire nation for other US Uncut groups as well as for www.MoveOn.org.

Originating link to video: http://sharing.theflip.com/session/ff4dd613b9fd8b5591a48caae618dc34/video/66975281

 

A very special thank you to Wisconsin’s Governor Walker

Dear Governor Walker,

I hope you’re able to read this through all of the racket from those tens of thousands of protesters outside your office doors. Then again, as you reassured Fake David Koch, you’re “used to people yelling” at you. Now there’s the mark of true leadership.

You, sir, are a real conservative, and I know the 27% of Wisconsin voters who *did* make it out to cast a ballot in your favor must be proud. Of course, some of those voters who showed up for your state’s alarmingly low turnout are probably a little peeved about your attempts to sneak some pesky language about eradicating collective bargaining in your budget bill, but, hey, who cares about them now, right? You’re in office, and that’s all that matters. No need to negotiate. You know what’s best for those 27% (minus the ones patrolling around outside your office who claim they’d like to take back their ballots now). They have “obviously been asleep for the past eight years.”

Get ‘em, tiger.

During the 2010 gubernatorial campaign, I reveled in hearing stories about how you’re such a conservative rock star that you still drive a 1998 Saturn with 100,000 miles on it. That’s an accomplishment. Not just any politician serving in elected office with a wife and two young kids at home can get away with driving less than 20 miles a day. Wisconsin is only 66,000 square miles. It’s not like you can see Russia from there like Sarah Palin can from her state. Besides, why in the world would anyone in his/her right mind ever want to elect a leader who travels outside of his ritzy neighborhood? That would be ridiculous.

The other day you said you didn’t want Obama sticking his nose in your business. Who does this Barack Obama think he is — the President of the United States? YOU ARE THE GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF WISCONSIN. What could a guy like Obama possibly have over you — a Nobel Peace Prize?  Well, you’ve got a freaking Saturn with a hundred thousand miles on it! He’s got a stoopid degree from Columbia and another useless piece of paper from…what’s that place? Oh, Harvard. Whatever. You didn’t even need a degree to rise to the apex of Wisconsin politics! He’s only got 309,000,000 citizens to worry about. You’ve got, like, at leeeeast five million — maybe six with all the new corporate business you’re anticipating from union busting. You’re right; don’t listen to him. That Obama dude is totally unqualified to even be in the same room with you.

You know who you should listen to, though? Texas Governor Rick Perry! There’s a guy who has REAL experience in screwing teachers who aren’t even unionized. Plus, he’s got a $27,000,000,000 budget deficit in a state where he’s served as the highest ranking elected official for over a decade. I’m so glad his flip-flopping, Republican-slash-Tea Partying bohiney is supporting you on Newt Gingrich’s I’m With Stupid website. You must be over the moon about finding a conservative powerhouse like Newt to tout your cause. It’s not every day that a check-kiting, ethically sanctioned former Speaker of the House will stand up and yodel your praise on every corner of the internet. Have you gotten a quote from Scumbag Steve yet? You could be Master of the Universe with a Perry-Gingrich-Scumbag trilogy behind you. Need to get on that, Smithers.

If I had to pinpoint the one item for which I’m most grateful, Governor Walker, it’s that you have really brought unions into the spotlight again. What a relief. Most people in the Right-to-Work states had forgotten what those even were! Remember when you wistfully compared what you’re doing to the Reagan Presidency? Well, don’t get carried away. Even Reagan had a union card (not that it meant anything to him, of course, but he had one). I think people need to know how irrelevant unions are since the world is a perfect place now that you’ve been God of Wisconsin for a month and a half. You’ve shown the globe that US workers aren’t willing to stand up for their ridiculous beliefs if you don’t include those silly marches on your capitol, the Twitter Army, the petitions, and the busloads of supporters who’ve ruined your peace and quiet since you got back from the Superbowl. Why should they protest for their ideals, anyway? You’re in charge, and it doesn’t matter if the people who voted in your state are rallying to negotiate. Yours is a totalitarian regime — I mean, Conservative Extremist regime, sorry — and they’re gonna have to just take your word for law. The end. “It’s for the good of the taxpayers [and the Koch brothers].” If the unions are there to protect the workers’ rights, how will you and your campaign financiers ever raid the poor and give to the rich? People in this country died, were beaten, and lived in danger for the sole purpose of advancing American labor rights. No big deal. I think we’re all past that. Who cares? Forget about it. Greedy workers.

Good luck on those layoff notices you’re mailing out next week. I’m sure when your kids ask you about that, you’ll have just the right thing to tell them while still maintaining your status as their conservative uber hero. Come to think of it, you’ll probably have appropriate wisdom to share with all the children of the working families you’re about to lay off: “Well, your moms and dads were state employees who didn’t support me like some of the other public unions, and so I had to parade around in my vanity suit a bit. Sorry you guys lost your house, but your parents almost cost me the Wisconsin election last year.” How are you planning on counterbalancing the cost of all that unemployment? Maybe Rick Perry will loan you the three billion he sucked from Texas education into its Rainy Day Fund. That’ll show those uppity teachers in both states!

On a final note, sending Sarah Palin to rile the troops was not your best move. We can’t trust Communists or Socialists or Amazons or Moose, and she can see them all from her backyard. Too close to the enemy, Scott.

Good luck with that Madison police chief who’s all up in your grill after that phone call you had day before yesterday with Fake David Koch. Yikes. I’m sure there are five gazillion Creationists begging for God to send you an angel to help with this mess. They must be feverishly sending 20th generation, emergency prayer FWD FWD FWD FWDs to everybody who’s ever mistakenly given them an email address. Never fear (unless you end up dealing with that fallen angel with the horns and the red face paint).

In solidarity — wait — you know what I mean,

KK

 

 

Open letter to Sarah Palin from a REAL union member

Aside

Dear Sarah Palin:

After your insensitive rhetoric regarding teacher walkouts in Wisconsin this week, you’ve merged into the next level of Offensiveness. Congratulations. Have fun bumping elbows with Montgomery Burns, Sheldon Adelson, and a slew of attention-seeking, anti-union cable TV hosts.

When you begged your union “brothers and sisters” to “make sacrifices,” were you temporarily in some kind of parallel universe where you had something in common with dues-paying members?  Surely you can’t be that ignorant of blue collar etiquette after having flaunted your familial roots in American labor for the past two years.

Wisconsin: kind of a big deal

Let’s be clear about a few things:

  1. Your husband, who used to pay dues to the Steelworkers when he wasn’t conveniently going back and forth between supervisory positions, is not a union member like you’ve blathered on about for the past two years. Furthermore, there are many reports about Todd Palin’s failure to support members during nearby pickets as well as of his practice of not contesting the hiring of non-union workers to replace bargaining units. Face facts, Palin; If you didn’t live in a closed shop state, Todd would likely be a scab;
  2. The Steelworkers Union, your husband’s brothers and sisters, spoke out heavily against you in 2008. Todd’s dues went toward fighting against your candidacy:

“FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT:

Wayne Ranick
(412) 562-2444 or

  1. 901-8442 (c)

August 29, 2008

Statement by USW International president Leo W. Gerard on John McCain’s selection of Sara Palin as his running mate:

“It is important to realize that while the governor’s husband is a member of a union, this does not automatically qualify her for an on-the-job training program to become a heartbeat away from the presidency. And while her husband is one of 850,000 dues-paying members of the steelworkers union, it does nothing to absolve Sen. McCain of his long history of anti-union sentiment and anti-worker actions, including continuously pushing an anti-working family agenda that:

*Opposes giving workers the right to bargain collectively;

*Jeopardizes retirement security by privatizing social security;

*Further threatens job security by signing more job-stealing trade deals without the regard to human rights and environmental abuses; and,

*Erodes the ability of working families to secure quality health care by taxing their employer -provided coverage for both active and retired workers.

McCain’s choice is another example of his poor judgment and his desire to play politics as usual. McCain-Palin is not a team that works for working families. The first-term governor’s record is thin and divisive. And John McCain has a life-long record of being for the rich and powerful. No union card can hide that any more than Ronald Regan’s union card did.”

3. You are not my sister. You’re a fire-starting, self-serving, anti-union, wannabe politician, and I’m not falling for your dog-and-pony show, Miz Lady.

Palin, perhaps you might want to divert your misguided comments to Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who wants to eradicate all collective bargaining agreements under the guise of necessity during his state’s economic crisis. Earlier this month, Walker granted $117,000,000.00 in tax breaks to Wisconsin’s corporate interests who he claims are responsible for creating new jobs (when there’s no justifiable data supporting his assertion of this trend occurring or increasing). Sarah, why should working class Americans have to “sacrifice” any further so that Walker can do everything possible to assist anti-union businesses tear down workers’ rights? You’re a union gal in that parallel universe. Why aren’t you speaking out about this injustice? If employees making less than 50 grand a year, with decades of seniority, are expected to “sacrifice,” do you really believe Gov. Walker is interested in preserving the ideal of a fair day’s work for a fair day’s wage? No. Certainly not. He wants to make things cushy for businesses to ignore cost of living, employee benefits, and anything else that is responsible for catapulting our nation into a big fat oppressive oligarchy.

But, I forget…you don’t care about those things either. You campaigned and ran with a senator who was against raising minimum wage and voted against it for nearly ten years. You were against the Employee Free Choice Act (Hey, way to express your concern for Todd’s professional welfare!). You were in the middle of a scandal within your own gubernatorial office involving unfair hiring/firing on the basis of nepotism. You sure don’t mind wasting the public’s tax dollars when it benefits you. Why in the world would you ask the people of Wisconsin to ignore their legal RIGHTS to collective bargaining agreements? It’s not as if these workers are demanding unsuspecting Americans pony up for private LEER jets and $150,000 wardrobes. After all, that’s just greedy.

There’s some sort of misconception that a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) is akin to Satanic literature passed out by the Temple of Set. Sarah, you should clear this up since, in your infinite union wisdom, you’ve probably crossed paths with at least five billion of these contracts. CBAs are not secretive, Pig-Latin-encoded scripts for corporate takeover. Rather, they’re handbooks distributed to members that outline what’s expected from employers as well as workers. In fact, these contracts are the result of negotiations agreed upon by both sides — usually with heavy compromises on behalf of both parties.

Some of the poorest people I’ve known in my life carry active union cards. I can’t say the same about the wealthiest people I’ve met. To suggest that union workers are undeserving of the wages they earn is like arguing that rich people should receive food stamps. My neighbor, a GM autoworker for 40 years, doesn’t wear a Rolex. He doesn’t go on expensive vacations with his wife, who works in the school’s cafeteria. We’ve both cracked up about our “greedy union pay” because we know the truth — it’s nothing compared to the kind of cash the other side brings home.

Look, you’ve had a bad year. Your reality TV show was cancelled. You put those nasty crosshairs over the infamous map of targeted districts, including that of Giffords’. You demonstrated your inability to handle guns and hunt large, still mammals within very close range. You’re weathering rumors about infidelity within your marriage. And now there’s this business about having to deal with your barrage of ignorant, anti-union sentiment! Heavens alive, Sarah. Will it ever end? Maybe you should just call it a political day and focus on the Miss Senior America Pageant. No sense in delving further into that which hasn’t worked for you or America thus far. I think the grownups can handle this one without your complete lack of diplomacy and common sense screwing it up any further.

You pissed off 15 million union workers today. Man, that’s a lot of votes. Maybe you should think twice before you take something people died for so lightly. We’ve watched your cronies ship our jobs overseas. As a group, we’ve taken pay cuts while execs received bonuses. We’ve lost pensions, work hours, been laid off indefinitely, and are scorned for our “greed” while your conservative affiliates do nothing but make things worse for workers. In December, you were against getting rid of tax breaks for the richest of the rich, Sarah. Remember that? And now you’re asking middle-class people — teachers, police officers — to “sacrifice?” OMGWTFBBQ. I think I hate you. Seriously.

I hope Al Franken is taking note of this trip you’ve been taking through Crazytown. Your bullshit deserves to meet his pen.

In solidarity against your insensitive remarks,

Kristan <—real union member (in an open shop state, even)

P.S. Lose the Peggy Hill costume. It’s not making you look like you know anything about foreign or domestic policy anyway.

Oh, Paul Ryan, you might need a lesson from Jim Webb.

Did you just see House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s Republican rebuttal to the SotU? Snooze. Give me a break. Is this the best the elephants can do on an important evening like this? It was like watching a cyborg boil water while watching paint dry.

Listen up, Paul-borg. In 2007, Senator Jim Webb of Virginia delivered a real address. This is what it looks like when someone cares more about the nation than impersonating Reagan:

Webb spoke during the Bush administration, when eloquence in public speaking was something a lot of us were starving for.

I’m Senator Jim Webb, from Virginia, where this year we will celebrate the 400th anniversary of the settlement of Jamestown  an event that marked the first step in the long journey that has made us the greatest and most prosperous nation on earth.

It would not be possible in this short amount of time to actually rebut the President’s message, nor would it be useful. Let me simply say that we in the Democratic Party hope that this administration is serious about improving education and healthcare for all Americans, and addressing such domestic priorities as restoring the vitality of New Orleans.

Further, this is the seventh time the President has mentioned energy independence in his state of the union message, but for the first time this exchange is taking place in a Congress led by the Democratic Party. We are looking for affirmative solutions that will strengthen our nation by freeing us from our dependence on foreign oil, and spurring a wave of entrepreneurial growth in the form of alternate energy programs. We look forward to working with the President and his party to bring about these changes.

There are two areas where our respective parties have largely stood in contradiction, and I want to take a few minutes to address them tonight. The first relates to how we see the health of our economy  how we measure it, and how we ensure that its benefits are properly shared among all Americans. The second regards our foreign policy  how we might bring the war in Iraq to a proper conclusion that will also allow us to continue to fight the war against international terrorism, and to address other strategic concerns that our country faces around the world.

When one looks at the health of our economy, it’s almost as if we are living in two different countries. Some say that things have never been better. The stock market is at an all-time high, and so are corporate profits. But these benefits are not being fairly shared. When I graduated from college, the average corporate CEO made 20 times what the average worker did; today, it’s nearly 400 times. In other words, it takes the average worker more than a year to make the money that his or her boss makes in one day.

Wages and salaries for our workers are at all-time lows as a percentage of national wealth, even though the productivity of American workers is the highest in the world. Medical costs have skyrocketed. College tuition rates are off the charts. Our manufacturing base is being dismantled and sent overseas. Good American jobs are being sent along with them.

In short, the middle class of this country, our historic backbone and our best hope for a strong society in the future, is losing its place at the table. Our workers know this, through painful experience. Our white-collar professionals are beginning to understand it, as their jobs start disappearing also. And they expect, rightly, that in this age of globalization, their government has a duty to insist that their concerns be dealt with fairly in the international marketplace.

In the early days of our republic, President Andrew Jackson established an important principle of American-style democracy  that we should measure the health of our society not at its apex, but at its base. Not with the numbers that come out of Wall Street, but with the living conditions that exist on Main Street. We must recapture that spirit today.

And under the leadership of the new Democratic Congress, we are on our way to doing so. The House just passed a minimum wage increase, the first in ten years, and the Senate will soon follow. We’ve introduced a broad legislative package designed to regain the trust of the American people. We’ve established a tone of cooperation and consensus that extends beyond party lines. We’re working to get the right things done, for the right people and for the right reasons.

With respect to foreign policy, this country has patiently endured a mismanaged war for nearly four years. Many, including myself, warned even before the war began that it was unnecessary, that it would take our energy and attention away from the larger war against terrorism, and that invading and occupying Iraq would leave us strategically vulnerable in the most violent and turbulent corner of the world.

I want to share with all of you a picture that I have carried with me for more than 50 years. This is my father, when he was a young Air Force captain, flying cargo planes during the Berlin Airlift. He sent us the picture from Germany, as we waited for him, back here at home. When I was a small boy, I used to take the picture to bed with me every night, because for more than three years my father was deployed, unable to live with us full-time, serving overseas or in bases where there was no family housing. I still keep it, to remind me of the sacrifices that my mother and others had to make, over and over again, as my father gladly served our country. I was proud to follow in his footsteps, serving as a Marine in Vietnam. My brother did as well, serving as a Marine helicopter pilot. My son has joined the tradition, now serving as an infantry Marine in Iraq.

Like so many other Americans, today and throughout our history, we serve and have served, not for political reasons, but because we love our country. On the political issues ­ those matters of war and peace, and in some cases of life and death  we trusted the judgment of our national leaders. We hoped that they would be right, that they would measure with accuracy the value of our lives against the enormity of the national interest that might call upon us to go into harm’s way.

We owed them our loyalty, as Americans, and we gave it. But they owed us  sound judgment, clear thinking, concern for our welfare, a guarantee that the threat to our country was equal to the price we might be called upon to pay in defending it.

The President took us into this war recklessly. He disregarded warnings from the national security adviser during the first Gulf War, the chief of staff of the army, two former commanding generals of the Central Command, whose jurisdiction includes Iraq, the director of operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many, many others with great integrity and long experience in national security affairs. We are now, as a nation, held hostage to the predictable  and predicted  disarray that has followed.

The war’s costs to our nation have been staggering. Financially. The damage to our reputation around the world. The lost opportunities to defeat the forces of international terrorism. And especially the precious blood of our citizens who have stepped forward to serve.

The majority of the nation no longer supports the way this war is being fought; nor does the majority of our military. We need a new direction. Not one step back from the war against international terrorism. Not a precipitous withdrawal that ignores the possibility of further chaos. But an immediate shift toward strong regionally-based diplomacy, a policy that takes our soldiers off the streets of Iraq’s cities, and a formula that will in short order allow our combat forces to leave Iraq.

On both of these vital issues, our economy and our national security, it falls upon those of us in elected office to take action.

Regarding the economic imbalance in our country, I am reminded of the situation President Theodore Roosevelt faced in the early days of the 20th century. America was then, as now, drifting apart along class lines. The so-called robber barons were unapologetically raking in a huge percentage of the national wealth. The dispossessed workers at the bottom were threatening revolt.

Roosevelt spoke strongly against these divisions. He told his fellow Republicans that they must set themselves “as resolutely against improper corporate influence on the one hand as against demagogy and mob rule on the other.” And he did something about it.

As I look at Iraq, I recall the words of former general and soon-to-be President Dwight Eisenhower during the dark days of the Korean War, which had fallen into a bloody stalemate. “When comes the end?” asked the General who had commanded our forces in Europe during World War Two. And as soon as he became President, he brought the Korean War to an end.

These Presidents took the right kind of action, for the benefit of the American people and for the health of our relations around the world. Tonight we are calling on this President to take similar action, in both areas. If he does, we will join him. If he does not, we will be showing him the way.

Thank you for listening. And God bless America.

Senator Jim Webb, Medal of Honor recipient, published writer, Emmy winner, Senator, former Secretary of Navy, and general freaking badass.

Standing ovation for Rick Perry. Come on. Rock hands.

Out of all the possible candidates for Texan Douche Bag of the Year — and there were many in the running — Rick is the 2010-2011 Grand Champion DB. His tireless campaign to keep most of Texas’ residents under the radar of increasing oppression culminated on Tuesday in some of the most ridiculous budget cuts this state has ever known. Read as: We’re paying for Perry’s sins.

This Perry. The Tea Bagging Slick Rick of the South:

(And don’t be fooled by his awesome hairdo and false rhetoric this time, okay? Rick is really screwing us. Hard.)

The Gov says there’s a little something for everybody involved in Tuesday’s cuts. Oh, goody! Let’s have a brief look.

A minimum of 5 billion dollars in public school cuts, including pre-K, art, science labs, and teacher-incentives: He’s out of his damn mind. As if the teachers don’t have enough of a hardship with their ever-disappearing and expensive health and welfare plans, the state is going to make things even harder. Who wants to go to college four to eight years to earn a professional teaching degree, obtain certification, and maintain required yearly credits, only to fight tooth and nail for a job that pays less than an entry level McDonald’s manager? Additionally, in a state with such an influx of immigrants and Spanish-speaking citizens, eliminating pre-K programs will only cost more in the long run — and not just in monetary terms. As for the other targets: Art? Science? Wait, we still have those in public schools? Nah, for real? How can we possibly stop funding for something that is already completely missing from my kid’s current curriculum? We have got to be realistic about education instead of allowing Perry to run around our districts slashing fundamental programs that don’t cater to his Texan ideal. Pfft.

Massive fiscal pruning of Department of Health and Human Services and 18% reduction in CPS workforce, one of the hardest hit government agencies in Perry’s plan: Texas already has the least amount of insured people in the country. With this new budget, Medicaid and Medicare doctors will also be falling off lists right and left with the 10% reimbursement reduction. We’ve witnessed great tragedy with Perry’s WCC forcing comp doctors to basically opt out if they wanted to maintain a reasonable business plan, so why is he now doing this to our young and our elderly? Furthermore, can CPS possibly be stretched any thinner? Are they supposed to be able to actually protect children or just make it look like that’s what they’re doing in documents? If you voted for Perry, you better not tell any kids or old people about it at this point. They’re probably totally pissed off right now — with reason.

41% cut of state education grants for college students: This is excellent news! Vomit. I was *only* planning on sending my kid to college in this state. Seeing as how Rick’s 2003 budget really made it hard for most average peeps to afford higher education in Texas, I just assumed he and his fancy pants might help me out on this one. I get it, though: It’s best to separate the classes as much as possible. One of those poor kids might be interested in science and wanna work in that NASA eyesore Rick doesn’t like to talk much about. Then another one of those kids might uncover a direct correlation to all the north Texan earthquakes and hydro-fracking, and that’d be terrible for non-renewable energy companies. You know. Hey, no hard feelings. (Bastard)

9,600 government jobs slated for dismissal, with 1,500 of those in the prison sector: Clap hands. This is my favorite. Why? Here, I’ll make it big enough for everybody and everybody’s grandma to read.

Rick is increasing his personal office staff. Apparently he needs roughly twelve more employees because 120 just isn’t enough.

I feel pretty bad for the folks over in Huntsville, too. Damn the bad luck. With more and more inmates stumbling over each other in Texas prisons, what we don’t need is a reduction in guards. Making it even more difficult, this budget stipulates 14% less mental health and pharmaceutical care for inmates. In the words of Robert Downey, Jr., Natural Born Killers, “Batonga! Batonga! Batongaville!”

Atty General fees assessed monthly for child support payments, along with an annual CS processing charge: Seriously? We need to rename this budget the “Rick Perry’s Every Child Left Behind Plan” because the kids are getting their asses handed to them. Man, I hope Big Oil isn’t taking such a beating! That might break my heart.

$30 monthly surcharge attached to smokers’ benefit plans: Are these people already paying about five thousand dollars a pack now? Isn’t about $4,995 of that in taxes already? Come on. I’m not a smoker, but this is begging for a lawsuit. Are fat people going to be paying more? What about emaciated-looking people? What about people who don’t regularly exercise? What about people who drink alcohol? What about people who watch irregular amounts of Bravo (cough, cough)? Will they all pay a “surcharge,” too?

Rick Perry gains. We lose. Again.

I wish Ann Richards was still alive. She would have been able to solve this mess with a quick glance from that evil eye she had. I’m sure he pees his pants just thinking about her. She probably haunts his dreams at night inside that ridiculous mansion we’re paying for. Hell for Perry will be Ann Richards making him “pick his switch” off the tree until the end of eternity.

From the grave, Ann Richards continues to lead this state in a way Perry could never conceive during his lifetime. Be reminded, Perry and all, of what she forewarned in 1988 during the world famous “Ginger Rogers” speech. A snippet from Ann:

This Republican administration treats us as if we were pieces of a puzzle that can’t fit together.

They’ve tried to put us into compartments and separate us from each other.

Their political theory is, “divide and conquer.”

They’ve suggested time and time again that what is of interest to one group of Americans is not of interest to anyone else. We’ve been isolated. We’ve been lumped into that sad phraseology called “special interests.”

They’ve told farmers that they were selfish, that they would drive up food prices if they asked the government to intervene on behalf of the family farm, and we watched farms go on the auction block while we bought food from foreign countries. Well, that’s wrong.

They told working mothers it’s all their fault that families are falling apart – because they had to go to work to keep their kids in jeans, tennis shoes and college. And they’re wrong.

They told American labor they were trying to ruin free enterprise by asking for 60 days’ notice of plant closings, and they’re wrong.

And they told the auto industry, and the steel industry, and the timber industry, and the oil industry, companies being threatened by foreign products flooding this country, that you’re protectionist if you think the government should enforce our trade laws. And they’re wrong.

When they belittle us for demanding clean air and clean water, for trying to save the oceans or the ozone layer, that’s wrong.

No wonder we feel isolated. And confused. We want answers and their answer is that something is wrong with you.

Well, nothing’s wrong with you. Nothing’s wrong with you that you can’t fix in November.

We’ve been told – we’ve been told that the interests of the South and the Southwest are not the same interests as the North and the Northeast.

They pit one group against the other. They’ve divided this country. And in our isolation we think government isn’t going to help us, and that we’re alone in our feelings. We feel forgotten.

Well, the fact is that we are not an isolated piece of their puzzle.

We are one nation. We are the United States of America!

That said, I’m not a prisoner or a guard, but I am a Texan. I may not be a little girl in school, but I’m a Texan. I am not a teacher nor am I a CPS worker or a college student or the librarian at children’s story hour or the lady who gives free immunization shots down at the Department of Health and Human Services, but, just like all of them, I AM a Texan.

Rick Perry, if you want to cut funding, go dig around in corporate welfare a little harder. I’m pretty sure Texas has some chump change to be forked over in the less-than-starving woods of Texas Tea and natural gas drilling and insurance companies and all the other plastic-faced industries who show up to state Senate and House hearings to prevent anything that helps the real people under this Texan flag. You have spit on labor. You’ve spit on women and children. You’ve killed education. You’ve done nothing to truly benefit families in this state — whatsoever. You’ve done nothing to close societal gaps. How the hell do you claim to be a “godly man”? Godly like your BFF Tom DeLay?

There have been political leaders in the course of history I would have died defending, but, you, sir, are not one of them.

And you are definitely not a real Texan. You’re just a real asshole.

P.S. Mom, thanks for calling me at 10:30 at night to light this newest Perry fire. I’m glad I’m your go-to girl when you need to vent about what a coward we’ve got for a governor.

Hot Tub Tom: Na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, hey hey hey, GO TO PRISON

Martin Frost, I know it’s not enough, but at least the entire country knows what sad sacks of donkey dung Tom DeLay and Pete Sessions and the other schmucks who stole your seat really are. The voters, including myself, who asked you to represent us in over thirteen previous elections realize that more than anyone else. Sadly.

Even so, Tom DeLay is finally headed for the big house. That’s what happens when crooked politicians rig elections and think people are too stupid to figure out how it happened. Well, never underestimate the mass ability of an angry mob.

...and now CONVICTED! (used with permission from Dallas artist Luis Collie)

This isn’t about donkeys vs. elephants; it’s about defending our country’s fundamental tenets in democracy. Hot Tub Tom and his Clique of Dick are not patriots in any sense of that term. In the words of Texan artist Luis Collie, Tom’s actually more of a “gerrymandering shitbag.” Wait, strike that. He’s a: “GERRYMANDERING SHITBAG.”

More importantly, he doesn’t get to mess with Texas anymore.

For the entire documentary The Big Buy: Tom DeLay’s Stolen Congress and more about why Tom is about to check-in to the slammy, visit here.

Of course, if that’s too depressing, you can always review Tom’s appearances on “Dancing With the Stars.”

(And, yes, that really happened.)

This is a grand day for the Lone Star State.

Did you really want to give Dick Cheney a million bucks for Christmas? I didn’t think you did.

Somewhere in D.C. there’s gotta be a squadron of young interns whose only duty is to make sure people don’t talk about anything on Facebook unless it has to do with lunch or narcissism. What a boring job — having access to Senator So-and-So’s exciting bat signal and never getting to use it. I’m not against social media, of course, but it is a useful barometer for detecting apathy and ignorance. Even as the Senate has painted fiscal targets on our backs again this week, we’re still more concerned about finding shoes for Christmas party outfits. Generation Me is full of people who use powerlessness as an excuse for laziness, and that’s got to end.

There’s an awful lot of talk about the expiration of 2003′s tax cuts coming up at the end of this month. Republicans are vehemently pushing for the deep breaks to remain effective for those making more than $250,000 a year, using the reasoning that it’s good for the economy in terms of high-dollar spending and employment rates — citing America’s millionaires as the largest group of employers. It is true that America’s millionaires employ more folks than, say, someone who makes $15,000 a year. Duh. However, the rich are not creating new jobs for Americans as is clearly reflected by unemployment studies.

According to the US Dept. of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment rates have, in fact, risen sharply in the years following the implementation of the 2003 Bush tax cuts (click on the images to enlarge):

Furthermore, many companies owned by the richest 2% of our population are offshoring this loss of labor, for which they are remarkably also receiving additional corporate tax breaks. Read as: They’re being heavily rewarded for nothing short of their extreme lack of patriotism. If this isn’t pandering to an American oligarchy, I’d hate to see exactly what that will look like.

Projected number of jobs moving offshore. source: Bureau of Labor Statistics; Forrester Research Inc.

 

Republicans are (still) blocking all legislation until the Senate agrees to renew the tax cuts for our country’s wealthiest 2% of taxpayers. Last week, the 42 Republican senators signed a letter written to Harry Reid, which basically says either the rich get their tax cuts or everybody will suffer, and that the senators, who are supposed to represent all of us, will continue to filibuster until that happens. To write your arrogant Republican senator a thank you note, go here.

Of course, there is still time to let your elected officials understand that you do not want a middle class tax hike at the expense of their partisan BS. By “time,” I mean about five minutes, so read the rest of this after you’ve taken a trip here.

In 2003, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky bravely represented the broadest taxpaying base of Americans in her speech on the house floor (H5247, pg 14420, June 11, 2003) when she supported the child tax credit, which was originally denied by Republican leaders. Perhaps you’ll recognize several top supporters of the original Bush tax cuts bill. Even Fox News can’t really find anything nice to say about the one who was convicted week before last and is now up for serving a life sentence (cough, cough, Tom DeLay, cough, cough). Ms. Schakowsky eloquently explains the exact intent of the 2003 cuts in her seven-year-old congressional address below. Not a lot has changed, really (except for the criminal conviction of the biggest lobbyist for the original cuts):

Mr. Speaker, it is stunning to me that whenever Democrats stand up on behalf of working families that our colleagues on the other side of the aisle start shaking their finger and saying, oh, the tax- and-spend Democrats. It is really amazing and takes an incredible amount of nerve for the Republicans to still want to wear that jacket of fiscal responsibility and to invoke it when we start talking about working families like this.

Let us remember that the President [Bush] was handed a $5 trillion surplus, surpluses as far as the eye could see. That is gone, blew that; and now we are at about a, according to the former Secretary, they are charging about a $4 trillion projected deficit, a debt, on top of that, and in a very short time we are almost $1 trillion in deficit. That means more money spent than we have brought in.

They like to talk about the war: Oh, we had to spend all that money on homeland security. And indeed, we did, but let us remember that most of that deficit is caused because we are giving tax cuts to the wealthiest.

Now the excuse is, well, this family, the Johnstons who make only $19,000, they do not deserve a tax cut, they say, because they do not pay tax. Hello, these are people who are paying a payroll tax. They pay sales tax, they pay excise taxes, like taxes on the gasoline they buy to get to their jobs, and they pay a payroll tax.

Think for a minute. What are the only taxes that have not been reduced? We are not talking about dividend taxes, most of the people who clip coupons, the taxes that they pay. We are not talking about the taxes on high incomes. We are talking about the taxes that everyday working people pay. That is what we are trying to do with the child tax credit, for families like that, so that they can take it and buy formula or baby food for this baby, so that they can provide for her. And that is what we are trying to do.

My colleagues notice this family is not smiling, but I want to show them the face of some people who are, in fact, smiling. Why are they smiling? A report by the Committee on Government Reform minority staff on the tax bill found that Treasury Secretary Snow’s estimated dividend and capital tax savings is between $331,000 and $842,000. That is a 1-year tax cut. No wonder he is smiling.

Secretary Evans could see between $68,000 and $595,000 in tax savings.

Vice President CHENEY, who is not in the picture but is probably smiling at some undisclosed location, will reap $116,000 a year from the dividend capital gains provisions in the tax cut. In fact, the total tax savings for President Bush, Vice President CHENEY, and the Cabinet could be up to $3.2 million. If I were a member of the Cabinet, I would probably be smiling, too.

In my State, 674,000 children and 378,000 families are not smiling. Nearly 1 in 4 families in Illinois were left behind. Now, of course, they [the Republicans] say if we take care of them we are just tax-and- spend. Tell me that we do not have enough money when we are giving tax breaks like that to not only the wealthiest in the private sector but these individuals who are serving us now as members of the Cabinet.

Behind closed doors in final negotiations of the tax cut bill for millionaires, the White House and Republican leaders exterminated the child tax credit provision that would have helped families like the Johnstons and others making between $10,500 and $26,625. That is the people that we are talking about, people who in their lifetime it will take years and years and years to earn what these individuals will get in 1 year in a tax cut. By eliminating that provision, Republicans were guaranteeing that millionaires like Secretary Snow and Secretary Evans get their full tax cut.

It did not take long for the American people to find out that their neighbors and their friends got the short end of the Republican tax cut stick, and that is why the United States Senate was shamed into passing a Democratic proposal to provide those low-income families with their well-deserved child tax credit that was removed in a secret deal by Vice President CHENEY.

They passed a restoration of the tax cut for those lower-income families, working families by, 94–2. But what are we hearing on this side? Majority Leader DELAY said, ‘‘It ain’t going to happen.’’ Well, I want to say that I think it ought to happen, I think it will happen, and we need to make it happen.

A much belated thank you to Illinois HR Schakowsky all the way from somewhere in north Texas, 2010. I appreciate lawmakers who appreciate me even when I can’t vote for them. It takes nerve to go against the grain for the good of all, especially when the people you’re trying to help are too busy updating their Facebook statuses about what they’re doing every five seconds in order to notice that someone just saved them hundreds and even thousands of dollars.

I don’t want to hear any complaining in April if you’re not gonna set aside five minutes and take action right now. As fruitless as you think it is, go there, guys. We’ve got a 98% advantage, you know.