Several Occupy Illinois groups came together Saturday in Springfield for Occupy Your State Capital Day. I’ve been to enough protest rallies that it gets routine, but this event had some of the most exciting, energetic moments I’ve seen at any grass-roots political event.
A WAND TV reporter posted a short video that gives a feel for the day.
It started with reading a proclamation from Occupy Wall Street. Then several Occupy groups from central Illinois, including Occupy Peoria, were given a chance at the mic. Bloomington-Normal brought a large delegation and had someone sing a great song on banjo.
Next came the first reading of an eviction notice delivered to the lobbyists for the 1% and their servants in elected office who currently occupy the Illinois Capitol Building. It reflects that the same issues raised by the Wall Street Occupiers exist in Illinois state government. Rather than a request for temporary fixes, it’s an indictment of a broken, corrupted political system that’s largely unresponsive to the 99%.
The group then went on the march by downtown Springfield banks, including Chase, Bank of America, and US Bank. I started taking lo-fi cell phone picks as they arrived back at the Capitol grounds.
They marched to the front steps of the Capitol Building to deliver a notice of eviction at the door.
The eclectic crowd included union members, boomer hippies, young veterans, and everyone in between. The eviction was read again by a representative from AFSCME using “the people’s mic.”
After the reading, an energized group marched up the final steps to leave the notice at the door. It was a beautiful moment of the people demanding government represent them again. I wasn’t sure what would happen next when a few people knocked on the door as the crowd shouted, “Who’s house? Our House!”
The group eventually went back to the Lincoln statue for an open mic period. Occupy BloNo went up front as a group for another statement.
Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann, at various times, have led the Republican field of presidential hopefuls, and similarly, both candidates have seen their polling numbers decline rapidly as soon as they, you know, opened their mouths and said stuff. As Herman Cain continues to ride high (and you have to know Reince Priebus is starting to get a little concerned about that), Perry and Bachmann could both be headed for single-digit obscurity.
That could all change in a matter of days or weeks, of course. The only predictable thing about the race to date has been its comic value, and Bachmann and Perry have at least kept the farce coming along with the fail.
“There was a nagging, pulling at my heart for him to run for president. He didn’t want to hear a thing about running for president. He felt like he needed to see the burning bush. I said ‘Look, let me tell you something. You may not see that burning bush but there are people seeing that burning bush for you.’ “
A mere 10 weeks in, that bush isn’t the only thing on fire. With several engines ablaze, Perry’s campaign is losing altitude by the day. It might be wise to hose Anita down, for starters. Judging from remarks like this, her brain is overheating:
“It’s been a rough month. We have been brutalized and beaten up and chewed up in the press… We are being brutalized by our opponents, and our own party. So much of that is, I think they look at him, because of his faith. He is the only true conservative – well, there are some true conservatives. And they’re there for good reasons. And they may feel like God called them too. But I truly feel like we are here for that purpose.”
And I would truly feel that Mrs. Perry’s jaw flapping is deliberately intended to sink her husband’s campaign, except that the candidate’s own jaw flapping is having much the same effect. Let’s take a few examples from his recent Q&A with PARADE:
What do you feel is most misunderstood about you? That everyone from Texas is alike.
Move to strike as non-responsive.
Have you seen the film An Inconvenient Truth? No, ma’am.
Have you read the book? No. I generally don’t watch or read a lot of fiction.
Ah, see what he did there? But he knows that it’s fiction… how?
In the past, you’ve said that “unless my family is at gunpoint, I will not go to Washington, D.C.” If you’re elected, do you plan to govern from Texas? Look, millions of Americans who’ve served the country didn’t want to go where they were sent, but it was their duty. I don’t consider this any different.
So does someone need to hold his family at gunpoint for him to do his duty, or not?
Okay. Here’s an easy one. Great. Blue.
What? Oh, I thought you were going to ask my favorite color.
What the hell? Didn’t he mean to say “red”?
Tell me the differences between you and George W. Bush. You don’t have enough pages. We grew up differently. We have different value sets.
Huh. I guess they had enough pages after all. Yet Anita, who was also interviewed, notes at least one ominous similarity:
He’s really somebody that you want to go have a beer with, truly.
Swing and a miss, though she nearly foul tipped it; if I had to spend any amount of time with Rick Perry, at a minimum I’d sure as hell want beer, and a lot of it. Paint thinner or Sterno would do in a pinch.
Perry’s hothouse flower routine is increasingly bizarre, and when something stands out as noteworthily bizarre in a Republican presidential race, you have a problem. While his wife bemoans Perry’s treatment at the hands of his rivals and his party, Rick openly regrets his decision to debate his rivals:
“These debates are set up for nothing more than to tear down the candidates. It’s pretty hard to be able to sit and lay out your ideas and your concepts with a one-minute response,” the Texas governor told Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly. “So, you know, if there was a mistake made, it was probably ever doing one of the [debates], when all they’re interested in is stirring up between the candidates instead of really talking about the issues that are important to the American people.”
The Perry plan offers taxpayers the choice of paying under the current federal tax system, or under a new flat tax of 20 percent that would be applicable to all individuals, no matter what their income…
… even though Perry bills his plan as refreshingly simple — anyone paying under the flat-tax system need only file on a postcard, he likes to point out — it is anything but that. By giving taxpayers an option of whether to pay under the current or flat-tax systems, he would maintain the complexities of the current tax system and layer an entire new tax system on top of it.
Good thinking, Governor. But why stop there? How about an Offense Department to complement the Defense Department? Perhaps an Interstate Parkway System? Or a Peripheral Intelligence Agency? Maybe a USPS PS? National parkettes?
“For my tax plan, I take a page out of one of my great economists that I admire, Ronald Reagan. And under my tax plan, I want to adopt the Reagan tax plan. It brought the economic miracle of the 1980s…”
During the Reagan years, the total effective tax rate ranged from 29.2% to 30.7%. By comparison, today’s rate is 27.7%. In other words, depending upon which year of Reagan’s presidency one considers, Bachmann’s proposal would raise taxes by between 1.5% and 3%, across the board.
We’d like to begin today with an issue that we regularly get incensed about here, mostly because it flies under the radar of just about everyone — including the entire media universe. Because for once, Democrats are making the attempt to use the issue to make some political hay (even though, in this regard, they’re admittedly almost as bad as the Republicans).
The Republican House leadership just released the tentative work schedule for the House of Representatives for the next calendar year. It contains only 109 days of actual work. That’s for the entire year, folks. That is less than 30 percent of the days a year actually contains. To be fair, it is almost 42 percent of the average number of workdays in a year (in other words, discounting weekend days). But still — 42 percent?!?
Stated another way, 109 days is one day short of 22 work weeks. There are, in case anyone’s forgotten, 52 weeks in a year. This conveniently leaves a whopping 30 weeks off — 150 work days — for vacationing and fundraising and campaigning and for all the other things these so-called “public servants” do in their voluminous spare time, instead of the job we are paying them a six-figure income to perform.
This is pathetic. Seriously, we’re in the midst of several crises, and the House is going to take an obscene 30 weeks off next year? Majority Leader Eric Cantor, spinning hard, responded thusly: “As with this year, the goal of next year’s calendar is to create certainty and productivity in the legislative process, protect committee time and afford members the opportunity to gain valuable input from their constituents at home.” For the benefit of the 99 percent who do not speak Washingtonese, I will helpfully translate this into English: “It’s an election year, and we’ve got to raise one whopping pile of campaign contributions by sucking up to the corporations and the wealthy — and it’s really time consuming! Plus, we’ve got to take our normal month-long vacations every couple of weeks, and we’ll be on the campaign trail for all of October — so you should just be glad we’re going to show up in Washington at all. Besides, it’s obvious nothing’s going to get done for the whole of next year, so why are you complaining?”
When you get down into the details of this problem, it actually gets worse. Congress, at times, magically turns a two-day workweek into a “three-day” workweek, by convening on Tuesday afternoon and heading for the exits before noon on Thursday. That’s three calendar days, but for anyone punching a clock, it would only be worth two days’ pay. Continue reading Friday Talking Points  — GOP’s 22-Week Work Year
ONE: Fox News Announces Appalachian Trail Correspondent!
Thinking (mistakenly) that putting Sarah Palin and Donald Trump on its payroll was insufficiently ridiculous, Fox News has now tapped disgraced former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford to do political commentary in the run-up to the next election. At long last, viewers who crave irrelevant, ill-informed right wing bloviating delivered by an ethics-challenged hypocrite won’t have to waste their time waiting for Bill Bennett to pop up on CNN.
If you missed the whole thing, or if, like me, you simply enjoy wallowing in the sordid details one more time, AP’s report on the hiring includes a concise summary of Sanford’s downfall:
… the father of four admitted to being in Argentina with a woman he later called his soul mate.
The international affair destroyed his marriage, which ended in divorce, and derailed his once-promising political career, which had included talk of presidential aspirations.
Sanford faced impeachment hearings in 2009 after the state ethics commission looked into his use of state planes, campaign cash and first-class travel stemming from the affair. The GOP-dominated House issued a formal rebuke but did not impeach Sanford, who paid $74,000 in ethics fines and reimbursed the state for the investigation and for travel and personal expenses.
But Sanford, a former congressman, remained well-regarded in conservative circles.
Cheated on his wife, lied to her and to his constituents about the affair, misused state aircraft, travel money and campaign money, racked up large ethics fines… of course he remains well-regarded in conservative circles.
TWO: “… the right of the people to keep and bear armadillos shall not be infringed.”
But 24-hour news networks can’t hold a candle to stations like Dallas-Fort Worth’s KDFW, a Fox not-News affiliate. You want to catch a story like this, you keep an ear to the ground:
A man used a frozen armadillo to attack a 57-year old Pleasant Grove woman, Dallas police said…
According to investigators, the altercation occurred when the suspect was selling the carcass to the victim, who planned to eat the animal.
The pair apparently began arguing over the price of the item when the man twice threw the armadillo at the woman.
The animal first struck the woman in the leg and then in her chest.
An adult nine-banded armadillo – the most common species in Texas – typically weighs 12 to 22 pounds, according to the species’ Wikipedia page, so roadkill dodgeball of this kind probably hurts like the devil.
I’m left a bit puzzled why someone would buy frozen armadillo in a state where the fresh variety can be found moseying down the nearest blacktop. Guess I’ll have to add this to the long list of things I don’t understand about Texas, somewhere after the entries for Rick Perry and Kinky Friedman.
THREE: Relax. If one of you clowns wins, you can just invade again from scratch.
Mere months shy of nine years after the Bush mis-Administration’s illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, President Obama recently announced that the last US troops will be withdrawn by December 31. Predictably, Republican presidential wannabes strenuously object:
It was an “astonishing failure” that risked all the gains made “through the blood and sacrifice” of thousands of Americans, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry said he was “deeply concerned” that Obama had put “political expediency ahead of sound military and security judgment.” Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) cited it as another example of the president’s foreign policy weakness, and Jon Huntsman, Obama’s former ambassador to China, called it a “mistake.”
Herman Cain let stand his assessment of last weekend, in which he announced that withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan were “a dumb thing to do.”
Does anyone here believe that in the next of an endless series of Republican “debates” a moderator or audience questioner or protestor in the back of the hall or freakin’ someone will ask this raft of boobs how they reconcile their stupid remarks with the fact that George Bush the Lesser – who started the so-called Iraq War on an Oedipal whim, goaded on droolingly by his avaricious, oil-addled, self-appointed Veep – approved in November 2008 a Status Of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government which stipulated that US troops would be withdrawn by, um, December 31, 2011?
Tenaska company is making yet another push during the Illinois legislature’s current veto session for their so-called clean coal plant proposed in Taylorville, Illinois. They need the legislature to give the plant special help because it’s not economically viable in a competitive energy market.
Last year, Tenaska threatened that they would abandon the project if the General Assembly didn’t quickly approve their bill. But, like a Kiss farewell tour, they keep coming back no matter how many times we think it’s over.
The biggest special favor Tenaska demands is mandatory 30-year contracts at a rate which guarantees their profits. Nearly all Illinois utilities will be forced to participate and rate increases will be passed on to their customers. It’s socialism for the company, which gets guaranteed profits, while us taxpayers assume all the financial risk.
The legislature is being pressured to pass this bill because it will create temporary jobs for a few years while the plant is built. After those jobs are long gone, the state will be forced to carry the burden of overpriced, dirty power for the nest 30 years.
It’s important to remember that an Illinois Commerce Commission study determined that the proposed Taylorville plant would produce some of the most expensive energy on the market, costing even more than current wind power prices. Will overpriced power from this plant still make sense 10, 25, or 30 years from now after wind and solar come down even further in cost?
It’s amazing how far a bad idea can go when it’s being pushed by every other lobbyist in town. Burdening the next generation with a 30-year mistake would rank as one of the legislature’s most short sighted failures.
Where will CO2 from the proposed Taylorville coal plant really go?
I decided to check out Occupy Chicago on October 21 while I was in town. They didn’t have an encampment site yet but around 200 were lined up along the sidewalk in the financial district. I heard the drumming from . . . → Read More: Visiting Occupy Chicago