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For the first time in 25 years, Chicago’s teachers are on strike. Good for them.  As the mother of an eighth-grader who pulled her out of a supposedly good public school in Florida because their cookie-cutter teaching philosophy doesn’t work on her, I wish teachers were given the proper resources with which to do their jobs.

In Chicago, however, they aren’t.  They are dealing with overcrowded (and over heated) classrooms and are now being told their pay will be based on standardized testing that has nothing to do with their teaching abilities.  

Want to know what the Chicago Teacher’s Union wants?  Read the 46-page study here, or the one-page summary here.  Either way, just know that these teachers do one of the most important jobs in society – they TEACH OUR CHILDREN!  And today’s GOP wants to keep cutting their pay, undercutting their work conditions, and making it more and more difficult for our kids to get a decent education.

Of course Mitt Romney and the Republican Governors around the country continue to cut budgets for public education, preferring instead to turn our kids’ education over to the highest bidder who will, in turn, bilk the system to enrich their corporations bottom lines.  

Stay tuned….

I’ve never been a football fan, but I am today… More specifically, I’m a fan of two NFL players.  First Baltimore Ravens lineback Brendon Ayanbadejo who spoke out in favor of a Maryland ballot initiative that would legalize gay marriage.  After a Maryland state delegate wrote a letter to the owner of the Ravens to complain and urge him to “inhibit such expressions from your employee,” Minnesota Vikings bunter Chris Kluwe decided to respond…  Here’s his letter (which wins the Best Letter of the Millennium” award from me):

Dear Emmett C. Burns, Jr.,

I find it inconceivable that you are an elected official of the United States government. Yourvitriolic hatred and bigotry make me ashamed and disgusted to think that you are in any way responsible for shaping policy at any level. The views you espouse neglect to consider several fundamental key points, which I will outline in great detail:

1. As I suspect you have not read the Constitution, I would like to remind you that the very firstamendment in this founding document deals with the freedom of speech, particularly the abridgment of said freedom. By using your position as an elected official (when referring to your constituents in order to implicitly threaten the Ravens organization) to argue that the Ravens should silence Brendon Ayanbadejo from voicing his support for same-sex marriage, not only are you clearly violating the First Amendment, but you come across as a narcissistic fromunda stain. What on Earth would possess you to say something so mind-boggingly stupid? It baffles me that a man such as yourself, a man who relies on that same First Amendment to pursue your own religious studies without fear of persecution from the state, could somehow justify stifling another person’s right to free speech. To call that “hypocritical” would be to do a disservice to the word. “Mindfuckingly, obscenely hypocritical” starts to approach it a little bit.

2. You wrote, “Many of your fans are opposed to such a view and feel it has no place in a sport that is strictly for pride, entertainment and excitement.” Holy fucking shitballs. Did you seriously just say that, as someone who is, according to your Wikipedia page, “deeply involved in government task forces on the legacy of slavery in Maryland”? Have you not heard of Kenny Washington? Jackie Robinson? As recently as 1962 the NFL still had segregation, which was only done away with by brave athletes and coaches daring to speak their mind and do the right thing, and you’re going to say that political views have “no place in a sport”? I can’t even begin to fathom the cognitive dissonance that must be coursing through your rapidly addled mind right now; the mental gymnastics your brain has to tortuously contort itself through to make such a preposterous statement are surely worthy of an Olympic gold medal (the Russian judge gives you a 10 for “beautiful oppressionism”).

3. This is more a personal quibble of mine, but why do you hate freedom? Why do you hate the fact that other people want a chance to live their lives and be happy, even though they may believe in something different from what you believe, or act differently from you? How does gay marriage affect your life in any way, shape, or form? Are you worried that if gay marriage became legal, all of a sudden you’d start thinking about penis? (“Oh shit. Gay marriage just passed. Gotta get me some of that hot dong action!”) Will all your friends suddenly turn gay and refuse to come to your Sunday Ticket grill-outs? (Unlikely. Gay people enjoy watching football, too.)

I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won’t come into your house and steal your children. They won’t magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster. They won’t even overthrow the government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery because all of a sudden they have the same legal rights as the other 90 percent of our population, rights like Social Security benefits, childcare tax credits, family and medical leave to take care of loved ones, and COBRA health care for spouses and children. You know what having these rights will make gay Americans? Full-fledged citizens, just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that that entails. Do the civil-rights struggles of the past 200 years mean absolutely nothing to you?

In closing, I would like to say that I hope this letter in some small way causes you to reflect upon the magnitude of the colossal foot-in-mouth clusterfuck you so brazenly unleashed on a man whose only crime was speaking out for something he believed in. Best of luck in the next election; I’m fairly certain you might need it.

Chris Kluwe

P.S. I’ve also been vocal as hell about the issue of gay marriage, so you can take your “I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing” and shove it in your closed-minded, totally-lacking-in-empathy pie hole.

Now, that’s how I like my football players … big, smart and proud!  

And finally, if it’s Monday, I’m joined by Nicole Belle of Crooks and Liars for our “Fools on the Hill” segment.. Today, she brought us these gems:

If it’s Sunday, it’s conservatives on the news shows. Here we are, just days after a rousing and inspiring Democratic convention and guess what we got? Republicans talking about the Democrats. Just like we had Republicans talking about the Republican convention. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

So that’s why we got Newt Gingrich comparing and contrasting the two conventions on CNN’s State of the Union. Clearly, Bill Clinton’s speech—both in effective messaging and in successfully touting the presidency of Barack Obama—got under the skins of Republicans. Because only Newt Gingrich could possibly spin Clinton’s speech as a condemnation of President Obama.

The big guy himself, Mitt Romney—though being curiously shy on the campaign trail, and reticent to give interviews—made an appearance on Meet the Press with his wife.

Would it surprise you that Mitt flip-flopped on his pledge to repeal Obamacare by saying that he was going to keep aspects of it, like pre-existing conditions, in place? Although he doesn’t say how he’ll do that or what plan he would replace Obamacare with (although it sounds pretty much like Obamacare), which are those niggly little facts that the Romney campaign would rather not be beholden too. Ironically, Mitt flop-flipped back again later when it sounded like he might be reasonably aware of most Americans’ needs and backtracked on holding onto the pre-existing conditions ban.

Mitt wasn’t the only Romney who flip-flopped this weekend. Ann Romney, after making the laughable claim that she and Mitt struggled in the early days of their marriage by living off the sale of stock Mitt was given by his father (an amount calculated to be about 377K in today’s dollars), admitted to David Gregory that she and Mitt haven’t suffered financially. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have empathy, you ungrateful little peons.

And in the “OMG, he’s the male Sarah Palin” department, vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan cited his voting for the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations as indicative of his foreign policy experience.

And then a rare progressive—and more importantly, fact-based—voice had to fight to be heard over the braindead Republican talking points. As Rand Paul spouted the lie that Obama has grown the government (a lie that George Stephanopoulos lets go) Paul Krugman had to remind Rand Paul that he is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. Krugman later posted this on his blog: I know Republicans know, just know, that government has surged under Obama. But it ain’t so.