For Becky

43

March 2, 2011 by esarsea

I wanted to establish a thread somewhere other than on the “Contact BS” page to discuss what’s happening in Wisconsin. As a public school teacher, our very own  Becky (long time BS BLOG contributor) is directly impacted by the union busting efforts of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

I have an interest on a number of levels. I am the past President and Charter Member of an AFL-CIO affiliated Union Local. I’m married to a public school teacher, who is part of a collective bargaining unit. I was a public employee at the time of my union affiliation, as is my wife now. This topic does hit close to home for me.

Although Becky has been hesitant to really talk about it here thus far, maybe we can show her some support with our comments.

In the interim, check out this Fox News video. You’ll see PALM TREES in the backgound of a news clip used to show the protests taking place in Wisconsin. That’s right…palm trees. Nice job, Fox.

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43 thoughts on “For Becky

  1. esarsea says:

    Moved here from the Contact BS page:

    Becky Says:

    February 19, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    Hey guys. I know I haven’t been here in a while, but just curious if you have thoughts (and I’m sure you do!) on the Budget Repair Bill and the protests of state workers going on in Wis. It’s been quite exciting to watch, especially on Msnbc. My husband was in Madison yesterday, but missed his idol, Ed Schultz. Said it was cool as hell though to see so many of our fellow teachers and other working class colleauges stand up for their rights.

    Anyhow, thought this one might make for interesting debate.

  2. esarsea says:

    Moved here from the Contact BS page:

    Becky Says:

    February 27, 2011 at 8:14 am

    Well, the above issue has become much larger than I ever imagined when I wrote that comment a week ago. I can see that it is better left alone. Not a can of worms to be opened up on here.

  3. esarsea says:

    Moved here from the Contact BS page:

    Stu Says:

    February 28, 2011 at 6:18 am

    Actually this is the perfect place to open up that can of worms!

  4. esarsea says:

    Moved here from the Contact BS page:

    Becky Says:

    March 1, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    I’m frankly sick of sick of talking about it at this point. At first I thought it would be fun to bring it up here, knowing the conservative vs. liberal views, but then things really got intense the past week and the topic became exhausting, though still at the forefront for my family.

    A vacation in the Utah mtns sounds great right now. I guess we’ll settle for our hot tub with a view of tall pines and Wis. river. (Oops! Now people know those lazy, tax-sucking teachers can afford a hot tub and a home on the river!)

    • torqdog says:

      Yeah Becky, this issue has been an exhausting excersize. This issue runs MUCH deeper than the pro vs. anti union debate. Both sides have much to gain and much to lose and there are so many side-fights going on, we could spend weeks, maybe months deliberating here. And everyone is so “dug in” that any debate seems pointless as no-one is gonna change their mind or budge.

      Frankly, I’m just kinda sick of it all and would really rather join Bill in his 10,000 foot Ice fishing trip if I could.

      • Bill says:

        (Tweet, tweet-tweet, tweet-tweet) Don’t worry, be happy. . .c’mon Randy, I have extra poles, folding chairs, etc. Get over here. It’s a week-end trip and you’ll have a ball and we’ll put you up Saturday night.

  5. torqdog says:

    The Fox video you referenced is a big FAIL Stu. If you look at the caption above the video when they show those two clips it clearly says “Union Protests”. Anyone who has been following this issue realizes that it’s no longer just a Wisconsin thing as it has spread throughout the land. I believe those two clips near the end were from a protest in L.A. or Vegas but don’t quote me on that as being the location. They were used to show that the Union folks have been getting a little rowdy in this affair and how contentious the protesters have been getting.

    As is typical, a short clip that leaves out the “rest of the story” can be used very effectively to completely take a storyline out of context. Unfortunately, both sides engauge in this practice and it’s sometimes difficult to discern fact from fiction unless you are watching ALLOT of news. I happened to be watching O’Reilly (a rare occasion these days) when that clip was broadcast and those “Palm Tree/Union Thug” vids fit perfectly into the storyline.

    Anything that is rated #1 in this country seems to be fair game for vilifying and demonization these days. It’s not just Fox, but Walmart or any sports team that becomes a dynasty and there are others that escape me right now. For some sick reason, we just love to tear down anything that becomes “too” successful and cottage industries arise and prosper filling that “need”.

    • torqdog says:

      And speaking of the new “civility” tone we’re all supposed to be adhering to after Tucson, check out this blatantly unreported story. Seems as though media bias by way of intentional silence is alive and well. If this was the other way around, would we ever hear the end of it? The Dems would be having a field day and their cohorts in the MSM would be playing first fiddle.
      http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2011/03/01/wisconsin-dem-assemblyman-tells-gop-assemblywoman-you-are-f-king-dead

    • Stu says:

      I did now notice that “Union Protests” vs the “Madison WI” banner after watching it again. Didn’t see that initially. However the dialogue of the commentators, as that scene was displayed, was about the crowd in Wisconsin.

      At the 1:30 mark O’Reilly asks, “Can you break down the crowd? How many are professional left wingers and how many are regular folks?” Tobin replies, “It’s tough to tell. On the weekend you get lots of out of towners. People are bussed in not only from Wisconsin but a lot of surrounding states” and THEN they cut away to the protest scene that’s actually in California?

      Tobin is reporting from Wisconsin, talking about the crowds and protesters in Wisconsin, and the banner changes not from “Madison WI” to “Somewhere, CA” but to “Union Protests.” Why not just use scenes from Wisconsin, since that’s not only where they are, but the place they are talking about? Because there wasn’t enough aggressive behaviors in Wisconsin to dramatize the report adequately — so they had to use a clip from a California protest.

      Hey, you know I lean to the right. My view of Fox News however was forever changed by that Monsanto whistleblower clip.

  6. torqdog says:

    Because there wasn’t enough aggressive behaviors in Wisconsin to dramatize the report adequately — so they had to use a clip from a California protest.

    That’s right! That’s kinda what I was referring to with the ability for us to decipher “fact from fiction” any more. All, and I repeat ALL news orgs have an agenda these days and it is disgusting watching them ALL try to act like they’re reporting in non-biased or “fair and balanced” way. Whether it’s blatant opinion shaping or outright bias by way of completely ignoring a story as illustrated above because it might be harmful to the favoured politicians or party that they’re in cahoots with, they ALL do it.

    And mind you, that Fox clip again is cut to fit an agenda. The actual interview went on for approx 4:30 or so. Look at the time stamp in the lower left corner ……… it starts late into the 4th minute after the hour. O’Reilly’s “Talking Points” segment usually runs about 2 to 2.5 minutes starting right at the top of the hour. The folks that edited this clip cut in late and left early, all to fit their “hate Fox” agenda. Be careful Grasshopper! Be careful how you view and interpret these things.

    • Stu says:

      LOL!!! Funny how there was an agenda to illustrate an agenda.

      O’Reilly is a funny guy. Whenever I see him now I always think of his would-famous meltdown. “F**K IT! WE’LL DO IT LIVE!!” LOLOLOL

  7. Bill says:

    (Tweet, tweet-tweet, tweet-tweet)

  8. BIll says:

    If Fox just didn’t have such a proud history of using photos hours after an opposition rally (See! No one came!), the DC crowd image at Obama’s DC speech substituted for a later Tea Party rally, using Beck’s 9/12 rally photos and saying it was Michelle Bachmann’s anti-health care reform crowd, Laura Ingrahm used a doctored photo to criticize Al Gore, someone on staff doctored a photo of a NY Times reporter to make him look darker, foreign and more sinister. Seriously, there are too many available on the net to see them all. Google “Fox uses doctored photos” sometime when you have nothing to do. When I google “MSM uses doctored photos,” I get a 5 year old story about Reuters, a London-based news agency, accused in a single incident of doctoring a photo.

    Just sayin’

    This reminds me of people who defend George Bush’s marble-mouthed communication for 8 years by saying,”Well, Obama said there were 57 states once during the election campaign!”

    And I say,ok, what else you got? Seriously. Who puts food on their families? Who operates Nukuler Power Pants? Who gives out “mexed-missages?

  9. Becky says:

    Thanks Stu. Especially for the nice big photo of Scotty! I’m not in the public schools now. I teach at a privately owned preschool, but Wes is a public school teacher, and I’ve been around enough teachers to know what’s really going down. This bill also does a host of damage to other public services and Wis. will no longer continue to be the pleasant place to live that it’s always been to most of us.

  10. Becky says:

    And just for the record, our house on the river is small and our hot tub is a used one :)

  11. Bill says:

    Yeah, Becky, you guys sound like you’re getting fat eating at the public trough, all right! How can you do that when CEO’s all over the country, the ones who hate unions, are foregoing their annual bonuses because. . .their company’s stock portfolio didn’t perform the way the had forecast and it MUST be the fault of unions or immigrants or regualtion for non-existent taxation or health care reform or that damn non-existent highway from Mexico to Canada where illegal Mexicans drive flaming, toxic chemical-spewing semi trucks full of plastic coffins for the Michelle Bachmann Memorial Re-Education camps.

    • Becky says:

      ahhaha! That’s the sort of Bill comment I needed at the end of a long week.

      Now there’s people in my town and Wausau, rounding up lists of teacher names and their salaries, so they can complain about us even more. In Wausau they’re getting the names of the teachers who called in “sick” for two days to protest, and listing them in the paper.(By the way, Wes didn’t skip out of school to go. They had a half day off after PT conferences) The public needs to realize that Wis. teachers have had only a 3.8% raise for the past 15 years and most of that went to health insurance and retirement. There were 2 years somewhere along the way that they actually took a pay cut.

      Our state has been known for an excellent public education system, clean water and abundant, well-managed natural resources, a safe and well-maintaned highway system….but Scotty and the Koch bros. don’t give a rip.

  12. torqdog says:

    This vid illustrates why this has become such a volatile issue. As I said previously, folks on both sides are dug in so deep that I don’t see any chance that there will be any sort of compromise. It’s like the shootout at the OK Corral …….. you just know someone is gonna get hurt. And let’s not forget what Bill reminded us of repeatedly after the 2008 election Becky, elections have consequences and your side lost. Walker was elected on a campaign of austerity which means he has the backing of the electorate, regardless of what the “push polls” might tell you.

    • torqdog says:

      I found this comment and feel it shows why this has become such a “hot button” issue with the electorate. There just don’t seem to be any checks and balances in place that can effectively stymie some of the lucrative contracts the unions negotiate. And up to now, there really hasn’t been any reason for politicians to even make attempts to reign some of this stuff in as the “money circle” has been flowing unabated.

      Union leaders sit on one side of the table representing their members (in collective barging negotiations for better wages and benefits) the elected officials sit on the other side representing the tax payers, yet most elected officials are in debt to the unions for the major campaign contributions the led to their election. So now we have the union being represented on both sides of the table leaving the taxpayer without representation. We , the taxpayers have reached our breaking point.

  13. Becky says:

    Well, first of all, the latest Rassmussen poll, which heavily favors republicans, shows that if the governor’s election were to be held right now, with the current knowledge in place, Walker would lose by a landslide. He didn’t campaign on union busting. Yes, there are many who voted for him, including some uninformed teachers, who are kicking themselves now.

    Most school employees also understand the tax issue and have been pushing for some alternative to funding other than property taxes. And it is hard for us to listen to people like paper mill workers, most of whom make more than teachers do for a job that requires little education or brains. Most of them also have 3 or 4 snowmobiles and ATVs, and many of their children drive teachers to drink. They have no idea what teachers deal with. The union is the form of support that assures that teachers will be treated and compensated like the professionals that they are.

    I have been able to see both sides of the issue from the start, but the fake Koch call and the sleazy way the Repubs. managed a vote last week pushed me over the edge.

    And no, I don’t mind slight tax increases to ensure that quality of life remains high in Wis. I asked for this, but you’re right, feelings aren’t going to change, so let’s be done and move on to more sublime topics.

  14. Becky says:

    And thanks again Stu, for the opportunity to rant about this and get your opinions. It’s kinda fun seeing my name at the top of the blog too, but not fun to continue bitter debate. Just waiting til Apr. 1 now, to see what happens in our school district.

  15. Bill says:

    Randy has a point, even though my comments about the mid-terms were more sarcastic about what Republicans were really gonna do with their House majority and new power. And this is what they’re gonna do: undo as much Obama-influenced legislation as possible by voting not to fund it and using their majority power in the House and in state offices to use budgets as an excuse to cut the social programs they depise, go after unions because they are a huge part of the Democratic Party’s base in elections and close down departments and offices that tend to social programs, education grants, defunding PBS, NPR and Planned Parenthood (Feds allocate a sliver to those orgs’ budgets, but it’s the conservative message that counts in poking those people in the eye) and what really pisses me off is Limbaugh was paid to attack President Clinton and support Bush during the years his Oxy-breath was piped into our military people though Armed Forces Radio Network. Conservatives want to do away with PBS because of the perceived leftist-slant, but had no problem with with Limbaugh paid tax money to attack the Commander In Chief while troops were being Tokyo-Rosed (search it) all those years.

    • Becky says:

      Exactly. This isn’t just about teachers and unions. It’s about how the people elected this past November want to take the progress we’ve made in Wis and turn it back 20 yrs. in terms of education, social programs, the environment… Things like Planned Parenthood and Badger Care are a neccessity in low-income parts of the state.

      And yeah, the Republican hypocrisy….but I said I was done with this. I need to go listen to some Chicago Transit Authority and see if it’s the Chicago I know.

  16. Montana says:

    O’rielly, what a joke, didn’t he say “video comes in video comes out never a miscommunication”. Why is it that so many fools follow this liar? It looks like that the top republican candidates for president will be coming from “Fake News/ Fox News”, or should I say “Big Business”, how funny.

    I wonder if “Fake News” has a stable of likely republican supreme court justices (I am sure they will all attend the republican state of the union, unlike Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, and Clarence Thomas, scum bags).

  17. Jane says:

    Becky i wouldn’t be so sure about who would win any present or future election. the citizens United case makes it possible for the Koch brothers’ and other corps to spend unlimited on elections. And to boot they can use funds that should be going to pensions within those corps. the message is too easy to control….

    • torqdog says:

      Well Stu, considering that you have relations with unions in one form or another, it’s not at all surprising that you have finally come to that conclusion

      Reading that article I couldn’t help but remember all the shenanigans Pelosi and Reid pulled during the healthcare fiasco. It’s the times we live in Stu, especially when 14 elected representatives go AWOL/MIA to avoid a vote. Talk about cowards!

      I guess the Union bosses who in essence own the “fab 14” see no point in their remaining out of state and will most likely now allow their return as “the damage is done”.

  18. torqdog says:

    This vid exposes the NEA (teachers union) for what it is, a power hungry bunch who really don’t give a damn about the kids they’re teaching. “….. it is NOT because we care about Children and it is NOT because we have a vision of a great public school for every child. NEA and it’s affiliates are effective advocates because we have power”.

    And we wonder why our kids are so poorly educated?

    OK, y’all go ahead and gang up on me now since I seem to be the lone Wolf in the bunch! ;-0 I’m just sayin that there are two very distinct sides to this story and it seems as though the union favoring press is really slanting the coverage on this one. Do you really think if 14 Repubs ran away and hid out in another state to avoid a vote, they would be turned into folk heroes? Hardly!!!

    • Jane says:

      T-dog, when i see that video, i don’t see it in the way i think you are. its basically saying, IMO, that they do care about those things under the “not because” but that that alone simply does not have enough influence in the way things work.
      I know ALOT of teachers in public systames throughout this nation. I don’t know any that are in it for the money. It has been a traditionally safe job with good benefits but that clip does not say what wherever you got it from says its saying.

      • torqdog says:

        My ex was/is a public school teacher and yes, I do agree that most are trully dedicated educators. However, there were plenty of “rank and file” members who were more about the union than the kids. Funny thing, most of those rank and filers, but not all, were what could be considered substandard teachers that would probably be the first to go if tenure rules were adjusted to allow performance as a main consideration.

        Again, is it really, really about “the children” or is it more about job security?And what’s wrong with “job security” being based on performance? If you are a good teacher, you should have nothing to worry about. This is the one “rub” that really irritates me about unions. Why is it that tenure is so revered when it really should be all about performance. It just encourages lazy behavior and sort of stiffles the human nature to excel.

  19. esarsea says:

    I don’t know where to start. I see that “Essential Services” like Police and Fire Service personnel were exempted from this move in Wisconsin. Nice, but last time I checked you are not required to get a college degree to be a Policeman or Fireman.

    Teachers, at least here in Washington, are not only required to have a Bachelor’s Degree as a minimum, but are also required to acquire 15 college credits every 5 years to maintain their certification (or alternatively, accrue 150 clock-hours of documented instruction in approved classes every 5 years). This is typically done during the Summer break, and is done at the teacher’s expense. It’s a never-ending process too. Mary-Anne has her Masters, and she is still required to take these classes.

    And don’t even get me started on the Summer break thing. I’ve added up the hours Mary-Anne spends grading papers and working on lesson plans, etc during weekends and weeknights. When you add in the required ongoing education requirements, she puts in as much time as a person who works year-round.

    There has been a recent program whereby teachers can spend $10,000 for extra schooling and testing to become, “Nationally Certified.” The trade off for incurring this expense was to be an additional $5000 a year in salary…or probably closer to $4000 after taxes, or $333 per month. That’s nice, except after a number of teachers expended the time and effort and the $10,000 to complete the program they were told, “Oh, sorry you spent $10,000 and invested all that time and effort…we can’t fund that additional pay.”

    Kind of like when the voters of the State of Washington passed a one-time cost of living raise for the teachers here. The Governor said that was nice that the people of the State voted to give this to the teachers, but that it was not going to be paid.

    It was placed on hold for a couple years and then eventually implemented. But…it was implemented to coincide with an increase in how much teachers have to pay towards their medical insurance…which turned out to be more than the COLA.

    There are problems with the public school system model, no doubt. But it’s not the fualt of the front-line foot soldiers, the teachers. And I disagree with selectively removing the collective-bargaining rights of some public employee groups in Wisconsin to solve their budget woes.

  20. Bill says:

    Yup. . .you need to change sides. My Mom was a substitute teacher to make a little money while I was growing up and then went back and got her Masters when my parents divorced and becaem a public employee working for the state of Utah rescuing physically and sexually abused kids. My Pop, after being a combat infantryman in the South Pacific in WWII, came home and became a cop for years until I was born.

    Public servants. Honorable. Caring. Loyal. Underpaid. Underappreciated. Now bad-mouthed because Republicans want to defund Obama’s re-election campaign, so, we toss them overboard and visit and chat and joke with a fake Koch phone caller.

    • esarsea says:

      I’d like to believe that the elected officials of Wisconsin are motivated by the need to resolve a very real and problematic budget defecit, and not by some hidden agenda to “defund Obama’s re-election campaign” as you suggest. Maybe I’m missing the correlation, but what would one have to do with the other? I just disagree with how they are going about solving their financial problems…

      • torqdog says:

        “…… some hidden agenda to “defund Obama’s re-election campaign” as you suggest. Maybe I’m missing the correlation ……. “

        Stu, the “correlation” goes something like this;
        Union dues go to various things, one of which is their political action wing of which ~90% goes to re-elect Dems who are the obvious favorites of unions. The Dems in turn then reward the unions with nice contracts full of perks and bennies. The unions then again reward Dems and so on it goes. It’s that “circle of money” thing I mentioned up above. Now get this, Wisconsin received 701 million in stimulus cash of which 600 million went directly to the various Public Employees Unions. They in turn redirected some of that cash right back into the Democrats re-election campaign coffers. That’s the Democrat re-election slush fund I mentioned back when we were discussing the Stimulus thing a couple years ago.

        Here’s the other thing, usually when we’re discussing unions and contract negotiations, there’s quite often an evil, greedy Corporation on the other end trying to deny the workers a small piece of the pie. However, in this public employees situation there is no cigar chompin, disgusting CEO to vilify. Nope, in essence the taxpayers are the ones that pay the salaries and have up to now, never really been heard from as the unions have usually gotten most everything they bargained for.

        And mind you, this is NOT all about balancing the budget. Nope, it’s payback time which is a normal consequence from one side or the other winning an election. Think back to 2009 when the UAW was rewarded with stakes in two Auto corporations and the public employees unions got fat with all that “reward” money for helping Obama win.

        This battle is akin to crossing the Rubicon. If the Repubs are successful it will be a “fundamental transformation” (hmmmm, where have I heard that before? ;-) of how we do business in this country.

  21. Bill says:

    By the way, I forget to mention, Utah is a “Right-to-Work” state, which is a bit of a pr lie because it’s really just a non-union state.

    My parents endured these career choices with no union actively representing them in Utah.

  22. Becky says:

    I see some of your points, Torq. There are some problems with unions and some of the teachers they protect, but there are ways to get around that if a school administrator or board really wants someone gone.

    Thanks Stu, for saying more of the things I forgot to bring up about the job of teaching. Wes stands to lose about $400 a month with the benefit concessions that have been made. We can learn to live with it, but we’ve worked hard to get where we are and have two kids heading toward college, hopefully. We certainly aren’t encouraging them to become teachers.

    • torqdog says:

      Becky, my Wife works for the State of Nevada. She is going to be taking quite a reduction in pay and all the perks and bennies that she has enjoyed are coming to a halt including me having to get my own health insurance. I don’t even want to mention where her health plan is going but let’s just say that “in the Toilet” would be a good place. Right now all this stuff is being negotiated but we are easily looking at a minimum $800 dollar a month cut by the time you add everything up. Is it going to make for hard times here at the Spiker Ranch, you betcha. But it’s something that needs to happen because if we don’t cut our budget here in Nevada, many social services will be cut and the axe will fall hard on those most vulnerable. It’s kinda like the old saying, “you can pay me a little now or pay me allot later.”

  23. torqdog says:

    I found this very interesting. Today, Obama held a news conference where he discussed primarily Japan, Libya and the rising Gas prices. Notably missing from this presser was any mention of Wisconsin …… not a single question from the press. I find it very unusual in that this has been the number one story all week, yet not a peep. Was it suggested to the press that this subject was “off limits” and if they agreed to that, doesn’t that kinda reek of collusion? After all, this HAS BEEN the number one story and to think that not a single reporter would dare ask a Union question leaves me suspicious.

    But never mind that ……. what I find even more interesting and telling as well is that you would think that if polling was favoring the unions, Obama would be all over it as there would be definite political gain to be had. I have a feeling that their internal polling numbers are suggesting that unions are losing favor with the public, especially after those displays of folks climbing through windows, the general trashing of the Capital building (7.5 million dollar clean-up?), death threats to Repub lawmakers as well as the “runaway 14.” John Q. Taxpayer is fed up with the whole charade.

    • Bill says:

      The people protesting at the capital are all John Q. Taxpayers, too. Why should Obama have to respond to every story out there and set himself up to be used as radical/rabid conservative bait? The top stories are catastrophe in Japan that nearly involved, but certainly engaged our country and coastal security and health concerns ( a function of the Feds), a faltering rebellion in Libya, a country tied so intimately to our country’s gasoline imports that we’re paying over $4 a gallon in 3 weeks and it’s going to impact our economic recovery very negatively and I’m just pissed he didn’t seem to have time to address who Kate Middleton has chosen as her second bridesmaid! What kind of Muslim, Marxist, Socialist, Kenyan, Gangster, Pussy, Hitler, Half-White, Anti-American, Questionable Christian, Erkel-Frankenstein-Pimp-Indonesian kind of President is he anyway?

      • torqdog says:

        What kind of Muslim, Marxist, Socialist, Kenyan, Gangster, Pussy, Hitler, Half-White, Anti-American, Questionable Christian, Erkel-Frankenstein-Pimp-Indonesian kind of President is he anyway?

        I’m totally ROTFLMFAO!!!!! You’ve made my day Mr. Bill!

    • Bill says:

      Politifact gave your tighty-righty clean-up claims a “Pants-On-Fire rating:

      “While urging a judge to scale back protests, a state Department of Administration official said the state Capitol sustained $7.5 million in damage. State officials could not immediately provide a basis for the number, and later backtracked from it. The new estimate: $347,500, some 20 times less than the original one. And there are indications that even that could be high.

      This smells like an effort to pour gas on the anti-protester fire. The claim was ridiculously high. And that gets a Pants on Fire rating.”

      • torqdog says:

        Yeah, if you noticed, I put a big old question mark after that figure as it sounded a little outlandish to me as well. I mean the whole Capital building prolly cost double that to build (just guessing).

  24. Becky says:

    There has been the question “Where is Obama” since this whole thing began and dems have been upset about his absence, especially with his past quote of “marching along with the workers” or something to that effect.

    I can’t speak to damage of the Capital or rowdy people, as I haven’t been able to be there myself, although according to my sources of information, the damage is much exaggerated.

    The Fab 14 are heroes to us and Wes is heading down there again today to welcome them. Hightower is supposedly showing up, and there are rumors of a Willie Nelson appearance along with the Wis. farmers. Wish I could go, but the kids had a variety of plans that require me to be around this weekend.

    The situation in Japan reminded me again to count blessings we have, as life on this Earth as we know it is rapidly changing with the climate, and things like money and unions will not matter. Enjoy your weekend, all.

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