Monday, September 26, 2011

2012 Winter Classic keeps it classy

Hide yo kids, hide yo wife. Hide yo valuables, and for the love of God hide your jersey when walking through groups of rival fans. The NHL has just announced that the 2012 Winter Classic will feature the Philadelphia Flyers vs New York Rangers and will be hosted at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.

Wow. If the plan was to round up the trashiest fans the NHL has to offer and try and set some sort of record for most people beaten to death in a parking lot, then well done.

The Rangers are expected arrive in Philadelphia at staggered times over the Christmas holidays, each player in a separate, nondescript car, to the luxurious Motel 8.

Instead of the National Anthem, the game will commence following a rousing rendition of either "Smack My Bitch Up" or the unedited version of "Forget You", as determined by popular fan vote. Fan vote will be determined by whichever artist, Prodigy or Cee Lo, isn't bludgeoned to death getting off their tour bus.

Fans are encouraged to wear helmets to the game to show their support for their favorite team, and also to avoid a similar fate.

Intermission will feature a shot put-style battery throwing contest where fans try to get the most distance on a Bud Light-fueled Duracell toss where the winner will receive a bullet proof vest so he or she can survive the inevitable shanking-in-the-bathroom sure to follow as a result of being seen on the JumboTron.

Following the game, the losing team will be set up as decoys and awarded medals of participation, which, if the players are wise they will use to try and reflect the light into the eyes of the fans pelting them with beer bottles to temporarily blind them, while the winning team will be allowed to immediately flee to their armored buses through the nearest fire exit.

Should fans set fire to the arena, officials plan to seal all exits, trapping the fans inside like the British army pulled on the colonists during the revolutionary war as depicted in Mel Gibson's movie, The Patriot. If officials are forced to resort to what has been dubbed "Plan A", a college scholarship fund will be set up for the children of local strip club employees, whose business is expected to be irreparably damaged by such a "tragedy".

And then the children will salt the land, so nothing will ever grow there again.

I think this Rangers fan is voting for the Cee Lo song.

Know how I know this Flyers' fan's father is one proud dad? Hint: it isn't because she is literally wearing only a bra and short shorts to a sporting event and has an arrow painted on her body pointing to her unmentionables.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The GOP's Breakfast Club

"At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in the room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul." ~Billy Madison

As I wrote this, the Boston Bruins were up 5-1 over the Vancouver Canucks and went on to tie the Stanley Cup Championship series 3-3. America may have lost in the GOP Presidential debate Monday, but at least it's winning at hockey.

While America was the loser, it was hard for me to pick a clear winner in the debate, but I'm going with Herman Cain and Mitt Romney. Rather than blogging a play-by-play analysis of the cacophony of "pro-life" this and "cut corporate taxes" that which was the first large-scale GOP debate in the run-up to the 2012 Presidential election, I just want to highlight some standout moments. Here they are, chronologically.

I'll start with the candidate with whom I'm best acquainted, former PA Senator Rick Santorum. I've met and worked with Santorum politically in the past. I think Washington Post's Jonathan Bernstein put it best when he said Santorum's "only plausible role in these proceedings is to be as shrill and abrasive on the various social issues as possible." (

Santorum certainly played his roll well tonight. The debate started at 8PM and when I flipped to CNN at 8:07, the first statement I heard out of anyone's mouth was Santorum dropping the importance of his pro-life agenda in response to a question about the economy. Way to stay on point.

Michele Bachmann was up next and she didn't bother answering the question at all. Instead, she took the moment to announce that she officially filed the papers to run for President. I wanted to be offended at her lack of respect toward addressing the issues affecting the American people, but honestly, it's best she doesn't talk.

Then there was Tim Pawlenty. Who?? Exactly. Unless you're a political insider or citizen of Minnesota, you probably have no clue who Pawlenty is, nor would you after having seen his lackluster performance in the debate.

"T-Paw" missed a crucial opportunity to really define and establish himself as a candidate when he chose to tuck tail rather than take current GOP frontrunner, former Gov Mitt Romney, to task about Romney's advocacy of universal healthcare in Massachusetts. On Fox Sunday, Pawlenty knocked what he called "Obamneycare"; a hybrid of "Obamacare" and "Romney". People don't know who Pawlenty is, and if he wants to make a name for himself he needs to make, and stand behind, his bold statements, or he is going to be swallowed by the more recognizable names in the field.

Back to Bachmann, who unfortunately decided she was now going to answer some questions, she asserted that the Tea Party is made up of "disaffected Democrats", and paused for emphasis, before adding on a litany of political party types who make up, what I can only assume, is the other 99.99% of the Tea Party.

She then graced the American people with her economic panacea. Her big job creation plan? "Kill the EPA", or, as she so cleverly named it, the "Job Killing Organization." But then this got me thinking that, while she may not make a very good President, or even a passable Hill intern, she'd be a great pirate. Just think about all the pirate-y names: Blackbeard. Treasure Cove. Dead Man's Bay. Those are all both scary AND seemingly self-explanatory, eliminating that whole need for an A to B logical thought process like in high school when your math teacher would ask you to "show your work" solving a problem. Why? Sounds scary, therefore is scary. No explanation needed. Shipwreck Island. Boom.

Back to Santorum, this time trying to fake a blue-collar empathy to appear more sympathetic on the issue of jobs. "I represented the Steel Valley of Pittsburgh when I was in Congress.” ...Okay no, no you didn't. You didn't even live in Pennsylvania when you were our Senator. You and your wife and 19 kids and counting picked up and moved to Virginia where you home schooled your children with help from cyber schools while the good people of Pittsburgh footed the bill. (

Not only did Santorum not represent the interests of his Pennsylvania constituents, which is why we voted him out of office, he couldn't even pretend to care enough about the state to live or keep his family there. His audacity in still standing up there, years after this issue, and insisting he's was a Pittsburgh boy while he was in Congress was a slap in the face to the people of Pennsylvania. Elephants never forget. And neither do donkeys. And Pennsylvania will not look kindly on Santorum come voting day.

The candidates were also asked a completely random selection of pop-culture "this or that" questions periodically before cutting to commercial breaks. Ron Paul picked Blackberry over iPhone... Hands down best answer to any question I heard all night. Though to be fair, I'm sure it is at least in part due to the fact that Paul has no clue how to use an iPhone., and it is entirely possible he thought he was choosing a fruit over one of those new-fangled contraptions the kids use nowadays.

When addressing protecting medicare and social security for retirees, Pawlenty said, "We want to keep our word to ppl we made promises to." What, except union workers expecting their pensions?

At some point, the proceedings devolved into a debate of who could oppress gay people more.

Santorum, on the issue of prayer and faith: "All of our ideas are allowed in and tolerated."
Santorum, on abortion: "All life" should have "respect" and "dignity".

His comments are of course in stark contrast to the point of absurdity as he juxtapositioned them with statements that gay marriage should be constitutionally banned and that gays should be banned from the military through the reinstatement of Don't Ask Don't Tell.

Sadly, every single member of the GOP field agreed with him on the issue of a constitutional ban on gay marriage (even Newt Gingrich, who I can only assume is, however, okay with marriage between one man and three women in rapid succession) and in the reinstatement of DADT, which of course framed as gays as likely to exhibit "military misconduct" which should be frowned upon... every single member of the field except for one...

Enter Herman Cain.

Herman Cain was the only member of the GOP who seemed to express any true tolerance toward the gay community at all, saying the issue of gay marriage should be left up to the states rather than be banned through a constitutional amendment, and that he would not pursue the reinstatement of Don't Ask Don't Tell.

Herman Cain dug himself into a hole, however, bungling a chance to retract earlier statements he made about refusing to appoint a Muslim to his cabinet.

It is, one would think, truly hard to top such a seemingly offensive remark. Never fear, Newt is here.

Gingrich came to Cain's rescue by out-bigoting him, essentially endorsing McCarthyism... yes, that happened. #goodoldfashionedwitchhunt

As far as the depth of foreign policy experience possessed by this esteemed panel, my favorite comment was by Pawlenty who called Iraq, a "shining example of success in the middle east." ...if Sarah Palin can see Russia from her house, it should be immediately apparent that Pawlenty cannot see Iraq from his.

So, at the end of the day, we've got God's crusader, that dumb tea party one with the crazy eyes (no, not the one who thinks masturbation is a sin, the other one), that guy who says anything he says is inaccurate, the Mormon yankee boy who brought his state universal healthcare who now TOTALLY opposes universal healthcare, the crazy old man, what's-his-name, and the pizza shop owner guy / token minority.

With a field like that, it's no wonder we got a debate like this. Bang up job, candidates.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Everything I know about the NBA in 150 words; written by a bandwagon fan

Is this still relevant? Because if not I can do this in under 100 words.

I liked Michael Jordan and have his #23 Chicago Bulls jersey from when I was a kid.

I had a Toronto Raptor's Starter Jacket as a kid... I don't for the life of me know why.

I hate Kobe Bryant and Lebron James because Kobe doesn't know the meaning of "no means no" and Lebron = Judas.

I like Shaq because of Shaq Versus.

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Washington Wizards suck.

I like John Wall’s dance and I know he played for Kentucky because, as a WVU fan, I hated him. We're cool now.

I know the name Dwyane Wade thanks to Jay Z’s song, Empire State of Mind. The playoffs have taught me he is a guard for the Miami Heat.

Former Pitt Panthers' player, Sam Young, plays for the Memphis Grizzlies.

Kobe Bryant plays for the Lakers.

I can correctly pair almost all the NBA teams with their appropriate cities.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. 150 words. I can’t tell you one single other thing about the NBA.

Don’t get me wrong, I know a ton about basketball and I’m a rabid college hoops fan, but after college I completely lose interest as players either get drafted into the NBA or fade into obscurity.

With these things in mind, I’m jumping on board the NBA playoffs bandwagon for the first time in my life. Last year, I watched the final NBA Championship game and that’s it. This year, I’ve watched a handful of games already including last night’s OT victory of the Heat over the Celtics and the triple OT victory of the Thunder over the Grizzlies. I just can’t bring myself to not watch a close sports game.

Two years ago, I decided I should adopt an NBA team for the novelty of it. Since I live in Washington, DC, I decided to go with the Washington Wizards. I’ve only been to 2 NBA games in my life: Wizards vs Detroit Pistons and Wizards vs Milwaukee Bucks. And I mean, I met the Wizards’ mascot, the G-man, and he’s pretty cool... so they've got that going for them... which is nice.

I figure I can lump them in with my Pittsburgh Pirates in the “bless their heart” category of teams. Also, this way, if the Wizards get good one day, no one can accuse me of just bandwagoning with the good team. Oh no... No, I’ll bandwagon with one of the worst and ninja my way in as a fan while no one is looking.

But, since the Wizards aren't in the playoffs and I’m trying to get into the NBA action, I’ve also decided to bandwagon temporarily with the Celtics and Grizzlies as my “backup” teams to the Wizards. I went to Boston University, so I figure that gives me enough credit to qualify as a half-assed Celtics fan. I’m a huge Pitt Panthers’ fan and their former player, Sam Young, plays for the Grizzlies. In the same vein I cheer for Ohio State solely because and while Terrelle Pryor (from my hometown of Jeannette) plays for them, I will cheer for the Grizzlies because of Sam Young. If both those teams get knocked out, I'll be cheering for Team-Anyone-But-Miami-Heat.

Now, behold, as I make a concerted effort to join the ranks of NBA fans. I’ve clearly got a way to go. Go Celtics and Go Grizzlies!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My "lazy, greedy, union-employee" parents

Seen to my left and right; the face of union workers in America. This isn't photo-shopped.

If you've ever met me, you know I love talking politics. If you've ever talked politics with me, you know the one subject about which I will entertain absolutely no debate is labor unions. While I have many reasons for my stance, I'd like to elaborate on just two of these.

My mom:

I'll start with my mom. My mom is a member of the most vilified of all unions; the teacher's union. Specifically, she belongs to the Pennsylvania State Educator's Association (PSEA).

My mom has been teaching for 30 years; since she was fresh out of college at 22. Officially, she works 9 1/2 months a year, from 7:20AM until 2:40PM. In reality, my mom stays at school until at least 8PM one to two nights a week with her journalism students putting out a nationally award winning yearbook and newspaper. When she was hired, the yearbook and newspaper didn't win any awards.

She never leaves school ever before 4PM. She stays after to do some grading, prepare her lesson plans, or talk to students who come to speak with her. Her "summer break" starts in mid-to-late June due to the many snow days caused by the Pittsburgh-area winters. She starts spending all her days back at the high school again by mid-August, when she comes in to get her classroom ready for school to start, and to receive the yearbooks from the publication company and get them in order to distribute to students on the first day of school.

July is her only real time off. In July, she spends one week every summer with her students at a yearbook and journalism conference so she and the students can learn new skills to help improve the publications and build closer bonds among the publication staff. When my mom has a student who can't afford to go, but wants to, she pays for their trip herself out of pocket.

She takes her students on a trip to New York City every year in March to attend a national journalism conference at Columbia University. The students who can't afford the trip sell candy bars as a fundraiser to pay for their trip. When my mom has a student who can't afford to go even after fundraising, she pays for the remainder of their trip herself. One year, with a particularly promising but poor journalism student, after a chaperone backed out last minute and couldn't go, my mom gave the opened spot to the student.

When one of my mom's students recently became homeless, she came and asked my mom if she knew anyone who wanted two cats, because she could no longer keep her beloved pets. With two rescue cats and a rescue dog of her own, my mom couldn't take them in herself. After asking and emailing around unsuccessfully at the high school, my mom paid $200 to have her cats neutered and fostered so they could find forever homes. They had to be neutered in order to be fostered.

My mom has several students every year who can't even afford lunches, but who for whatever reason, are not yet part of the school lunch program. My mom buys them food at the grocery store when she goes shopping for our family, and every night when she makes her lunch she packs healthy lunches for her students who can't afford one. She finds a subtle way to get it to the student after the other students have left the classroom for the next period, so they won't be embarrassed by having the other kids see.

Students come to my mom for advice when they're pregnant, when they have problems at home, problems in a relationship or with a friend, or for advice on where to go for college or which elective classes to take. In her spare time, my mom writes letters of recommendation and grades an endless stack of papers. My mom easily spends 12 hours every week outside of work grading papers. She makes and updates her lesson plans. She goes to the store to purchase supplies for her class room, because the limited budget she has through the school for these expenses doesn't provide enough for her to get all the things she needs to give her students the best education she feels they deserve. When invited, she attends students' graduation parties and the weddings and baby showers of former students. She goes to the musicals and plays at night in the spring when her students are in them.

Years after her students graduate, or on graduation day, they come and see my mom or write letters that have made her cry, thanking her for all she did for them. They tell her how much she has changed their life for the better.

My mom loves her job. She doesn't want to retire early, and often jokes about how she'll be teaching until she's so old, students just stop listening to her. Her only remaining goal for herself in life is to be able to travel the world. She was born in France. Since then, she has never left the US but for twice to the Virgin Islands. It's too expensive and our family can't afford it.

My dad:

My father, on the other hand, has never gotten a thank you note for his work. He is in construction and has been since he was 18 years old when he worked in the summers to pay to put himself through college. My dad is a union member of Laborers' Local 1058.

Working construction means you work long hours in every condition. When the roads are so bad no one else can get to or from work, my dad has to be on the job site. He has worked in the freezing cold winters in Buffalo and Pittsburgh in sub-zero temperatures, where massive heaters have to be turned on at the site so they can do pours and the concrete doesn't freeze before they can lay it properly. He is currently working in New Orleans where temperatures are in the 90s all summer and the humidity through the roof. He of course works outside in all these conditions.

He works in all these places and many others, far from his family and home, because that is the nature of the construction industry. You follow the projects the company for which you work does. I remember the first time my father was sent out of town. I was 4-years-old and my dad sat down with my little brother and me on my grandmother's couch and told us. He didn't want to go, but he had to. That was the first, and one of the only, times I ever remember seeing my father cry. He still drove home every single weekend to be with his family.

He works from 5AM until 6PM virtually every single day. He works 7 days a week nearly every week. He has off Christmas, but not Christmas eve or the day after. When the company does major pours, my dad will get home from his regular work day around 7PM, and needs to be back into work at 2AM for a pour that will go until midnight the next night. He still has to be at work the very next day at 5AM again.

He comes home from work covered head-to-toe in mud and cement.

A few days before my dad married my mom, he fell off the Liberty Bridge in Pittsburgh. He fell into one of the giant 150 ft-or-so concrete pillars. Fortunately, he was wearing a safety harness that was secured to the bridge. Labor unions, who lobbied for improved worker safety devices on job sites, were responsible for saving my father's life. A few years before, on the same job site, an iron worker fell off the bridge at another spot and was paralyzed.

On a different job site where my father worked, the boom of a crane collapsed and crushed the oiler inside the cab to death. While building one of the tunnels to the Pittsburgh airport, one of my father's coworkers was in a work accident that decapitated him. While building the Whitehurst Freeway in Georgetown in Washington DC, my dad, one of the first on the job site every day, found the destroyed body of a woman. She had thrown herself off the partially-finished freeway to commit suicide, and landed in front of their construction trailer. That was how my father started that work day, and he worked the full day afterward.

My dad was one of the first on the scene in October, 2001, when a speeding tractor-trailer veered onto a road-side job site and killed five of the construction workers who work with him. He was the superintendent of that site, and they were one of his crews. They were sitting and eating their lunches when it happened. He came home that day, in shock, and told our family about how he came upon their lunch boxes with their half-eaten lunches. He didn't need to elaborate on the rest of the gruesome details of that scene. If he had gotten back to that area of the job a few minutes earlier, that could have been him. [ ]

My father's coworkers who have died were also, of course, union employees. Thanks to labor union lobbying as a result of this and similar accidents, state police are now present on most road-side construction projects in Pennsylvania to be sure traffic actually obeys the construction signs.

My dad was shot with a paintball gun in Lancaster, PA by some kids driving by a job site.

He works constantly around jack hammers and incredibly loud machines and will undoubtedly one day suffer hearing problems. My grandfather, who was in construction for his entire life, has to hear through a hearing aid, and even then very poorly. My dad already has serious back problems as a result of the heavy lifting required of him. These will no doubt only get worse with age.

My father is in New Orleans now working to build new and vastly improved flood walls to protect the city so another Katrina will never happen.

Most people in the US have never seen a dead body outside a funeral home, or been shot. Most people's lives aren't at risk every single day at their job site. The giant construction signs reading "Slow Down, My Daddy Works Here" in a child's handwriting have special meaning to me. My father has seen as many of his friends and coworkers die as any Iraq or Afghanistan war veteran, but he isn't treated like a hero. Instead, when we do things like take a bus tour of the city in Boston, he gets to hear the tour guide on the loud speaker crack jokes about construction workers "not exactly being qualified for Mensa" as we ride past them.

These are just two examples of union workers. This is what your tax dollars pay for. My parents are the "Everyman" union worker to me. So the next time you hear a talking point about "lazy, greedy" union employees, you can feel free to think, like I do, of my parents, and see if those words still ring true to you, or if you find yourself searching for some new adjectives.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

It's a party in the USA: What we're really celebrating

"Answering the question of what we're really celebrating, and why, matters not just to our internal conscience, but to how we are perceived by the world as well."

Last night, television and radio programs across the United States were interrupted by breaking news that President Barack Obama had an announcement. I caught wind of the news through twitter and turned on my tv. Shortly thereafter, widespread speculation in the twitterverse, they by news reporters, broke the story the President would confirm shortly thereafter.

At approximately 11:30pm, President Obama announced, "Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world, that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of Al Qaeda, and a terrorist who is responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women and children... The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation's effort to defeat Al Qaeda... Justice has been done."

As Obama spoke, cheering crowds massed outside the White House fence.

One of my best friends since middle school called me up in the midst of this and asked if I wanted to go to the White House, last night's celebration ground zero, to join in the festivities. She and I both live in DC now, having moved here from western Pennsylvania. My friend was with me that day, September 11, 2001. It was our senior year of high school.

With that day in mind, I answered, "Absolutely." She picked me up and we sped down to my former law school campus at George Washington University to park and walk the few blocks to the White House. Along the way we ran into scores of fellow revelers walking towards the same destination. You could hear the crowd screaming and cheering and cars honking from blocks away.

When the last block separating us from the White House ended and the buildings parted, we were greeted with the sight of hundreds or maybe thousands of revelers. The majority of the crowd was 18-28 year olds; almost all young people who seemed to be mostly students at GW and Georgetown, confirmed by the GW and Georgetown t-shirts many sported. The primary attire, however, was red, white, and blue. Revelers rocked homemade t-shirts and signs. Among my favorite was a young man holding up a sign that read "A HAPPY MUSLIM" and smiling for pictures. There were plenty of young marines wearing their marine hood shirts and carrying a giant marine flag. The scene could have easily been mistaken for a super hero convention with all the American flag capes people were wearing. I was impressed, frankly, by all the patriotic gear people happened to own.

People cheered "USA! USA!" and "Obama! Obama! You [expletive] killed Osama!", sang the National Anthem and God Bless America. They lit sparklers, climbed trees and lamp posts, and blew vuvuzelas; horns made popular by the World Cup. I had my trusty vuvuzela with me as well; a blue horn with a small American flag I taped to it last Fourth of July. I ran into 3 other young men in the crowd with the instruments as well, and the crowd reacted enthusiastically and laughed at their err.. "music".

Crowds parted way easily to let you through. If you asked people to take a picture of you with your camera, they were happy to oblige. Even those perched atop the coveted spots on the White House fence who had been there for hours were happy to let you up into their spot so you could get a photo.

The crowd was truly all in this together. It was full of Democrats and Republicans, young marines and Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans and pacifists, rival college campus students of GW and Georgetown. All were jubilant and there was more than just a feeling of camaraderie; it was like we were all friends with the same shared experience and, in fact, we were. We all shared that awful day in history that President Obama noted is "seared into our national memory." And here we were, sharing this too.


I understand that in many places, any death can be deemed justice by certain stretches of the imagination. Indeed, though most of the world mourned with the United States on 9/11, there were people who celebrated. While these people may have perceived the United States as having committed injustices against them, what they were celebrating was the death of thousands of our innocent civilians.

Here in the United States, our Navy SEAL troops who executed the mission to kill bin Laden "took care to avoid civilian casualties", said Obama in his speech. Bin Laden was given a burial at sea according to proper Islam law; his body washed and placed in a white sheet.


The crowd did not burn photos of bin Laden in effigy last night or hit photos of him with a shoe. They waved the stars and stripes.

Answering the question of what we're really celebrating, and why, matters not just to our internal conscience, but to how we are perceived by the world as well.

When one truly evil person we know is directly responsible for atrocities on our people is removed as a threat, we rejoice in the fact that justice has been done.


Monday, April 18, 2011

The canary in the coal mine for the GOP

Justice Prosser may have won the election, but the battle over union rights is far from over and will play out in swing states in 2012.

The votes were totaled and a winner unofficially declared and reported far and wide by the media, including by my own blog. 204. That was the number of votes that separated the two contenders in the Wisconsin Supreme Court election battle royale between conservative incumbent David Prosser and liberal challenger, Joanne Kloppenburg. Considering that approximately 1.5 million votes were cast, this was bound not to be the last word in this election.

In fact, the very next day, nearly 14,000 votes were discovered that had not been tallied in the original total. After the dust cleared, the end result is that Prosser narrowly defeated Kloppenburg by 7,316 votes.

I had been hoping for Kloppenburg to remain on top as the election miscounts we've now come to virtually expect in America played out, despite her tenuous lead of only a few hundred votes in the original final count.

However, an incredibly narrow loss for Kloppenburg does not mark a loss for unions, nor for the Democratic party; quite the opposite per the details in my original post. A few wise commentators for the GOP are acknowledging that this election could spell trouble for Republicans in 2012. As I predicted, however, many in the GOP have been selling the tale of a solid GOP victory! A mark of support for Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's underhanded budget-ploy he used to cut corporate taxes and cut union bargaining rights, all while plunging Wisconsin from a predicted $121.4 million budget surplus into a $137 million budget deficit.

The story most of the GOP isn't telling is the background story I told in my last blog post; the truth behind the scenes of the Walker scam on the people of Wisconsin; the truth behind the vote that is a Justice with an untarnished record plunging from receiving 99.54% of the vote in the last election to only 50.48% in this election.

This is not only virtually unheard of in state Supreme Court races where the incumbents win, period, but it all happened in only a matter of weeks. Weeks is all it took for Kloppenburg to go from a virtual nameless nobody on the Wisconsin political scene and living on a prayer as far as this election was concerned, to the canary in the coal mine for the GOP in 2012.

These weeks before the election were the direct and undeniable result of dramatic policy changes and political battles forged by Republican Gov Walker and the Wisconsin GOP against unions and the working class people of the badger state. This election was a referendum on Walker and the GOP.

In addition to Wisconsin, big union states like Ohio and Pennsylvania will also have their say within their own borders on the matter of union rights in 2012. While Kloppenburg narrowly missed out on victory, unions have always turned out much bigger droves of supporters in OH and PA. The unions, now provoked by the GOP's attack, won't take this affront laying down, and we will see the results of this in '12.

[For more on the history of this election and on the Wisconsin union battle, and what it means for the 2012 elections, read my last blog post: "The Wisconsin Supreme Court election and why it matters".]

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Wisconsin Supreme Court election and why it matters

This is what democracy looks like.

204. Today, Joanne Kloppenburg defeated David Prosser in the Wisconsin Supreme Court election by 204 votes out of over 1.4 million ballots cast. While the number may seem small, and the Republican party will no doubt attempt to paint it as such in the coming days, it is, in proper context, staggering, and the implications are monumental. While there will likely be a recount, this election is the canary in the coal mine for the GOP.

Your run-of-the-mill state Supreme Court races get little to no attention. They attract little to no voter interest, draw little to no campaign funding, and receive little to no media coverage. Today's Wisconsin Supreme Court election, however was a historic, virtually unprecedented battle. This election received national attention and around the clock media coverage from the time results began filtering in yesterday evening until the final votes were tallied late this afternoon. Over 1.4 million voters turned out to cast their ballots, many waiting in lines for over 20 minutes before polls even opened at 7AM. Nearly $3.6 million was spent on the race.

Until a few weeks ago, Kloppenburg was an all-but-unknown Assistant State Attorney General. She barely hung on in the requisite general run-off election where she garnered a meager 25% of the vote. Prosser, her opponent, is a conservative three-term incumbent State Supreme Court Justice who had previously served as Speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly before being appointed to the court by former Republican Governor Tommy Thompson. Prosser won his last election with 99.54% of the vote. He received nearly every single vote.

Until a few weeks ago, Prosser was a shoe-in practically guaranteed to walk away with this election by another staggering margin of victory. But, a few weeks ago, Republican Governor Scott Walker changed all that. A few weeks ago, Governor Walker took on the unions and the working class people of Wisconsin.

Walker took to the media outlets decrying the $137 million projected end of year state budget deficit. He blamed the shortfall on one of the Republican party's favorite scape goats: unions. He blamed teachers. He blamed healthcare workers. He blamed government workers, bus drivers, garbage collectors and postal workers. He blamed the working middle class.

But while Walker was busy pointing the finger, attempting to distract the good people of Wisconsin with smoke and mirrors, the truth was slowly but surely coming to light. On Feb. 16, the Madison-based newspaper, The Cap Times, revealed that the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau had released a memo on January 31, detailing that the state was slated to end the 2009-2011 budget biennium with not a deficit, but with a *surplus*; a surplus of $121.4 million.

You can read the memo for yourself here:

So, if not the result of greedy union workers, where was Walker getting his figures? As it turns out, Walker had just pushed through a bill containing $140 million in new spending to provide corporate tax breaks. It was Walker's bill that created the deficit from the huge surplus he inherited coming into office. Walker, elected as a platform fiscal conservative, was quickly arousing suspicions and stirring public interest, though not in the direction he anticipated.

As it turns out, an unavoidable, union-caused, pre-existing deficit isn't the only lie Walker and the Wisconsin Republicans were peddling. Walker said he wanted workers to "contribute more" and "pay their fair share" of their pensions. This was a statement he made over and over again. The truth, however, that the media soon exposed, is that the union pensions are 100% employee funded. Every penny of the union workers' pensions are bargained-for part of their compensation packages. They are deferred income the workers have both bargained for and earned; a form of deferred compensation. The key phrase in the workers' contracts is "The Employer shall contribute on behalf of the employee." You can read the labor agreements for yourself here:

Rather than private investment and stock portfolios for retirement like the wealthy or privately employed workers have, union members defer a portion of their own earned wages which they essentially agree to let the state hold on to and manage temporarily, under the assumption they can draw from their own contributions at retirement.

Walker and the Wisconsin Republicans' lies aside, the unions attempted to meet with Walker to take a few cuts and make some sacrifices in order to meet him halfway. Walker refused. This is where he made perhaps his most fatal flaw. When union workers attempted to meet with Walker on the budget issues, he made it clear that he wasn't interested in just the budget, but in also stripping workers of their collective bargaining rights.

He wouldn't sit down with the unions, so the unions came to him.

Tens of thousands of union workers stormed the Wisconsin Capitol.

They came from far and wide with their signs and protest songs to stand in the freezing cold and be heard. As union workers made their entrance and presence known, Wisconsin's Democrat Senators made their exit; strategically fleeing across state borders and using Senate rules to do what their minority membership couldn't: prevent Walker's budget which would slash union workers' benefits and collective bargaining rights from passing. However the rules could only prevent budget matters from being decided while the Democrat Senators were in hiding. It couldn't halt all legislation.

Walker and the Republicans then separated the budget and collective bargaining issues, temporarily ignoring the budget matter. On March 10, the Republicans passed a bill stripping the union workers of their collective bargaining rights.

The jig was now up. The fraud on the American people became apparent as Walker's smoke cleared and his mirrors shattered; the illusion seemingly no longer necessary now that he had completed his disappearing act with workers' rights. This was never about the budget. The entire situation; the created deficit, the lies surrounding it, the "solution", were all manufactured by Walker to provide justification for union busting.

They may not have known it at the time, but Walker and the rest of the Wisconsin Republicans just put the final nail in their own coffin. And they didn't just seal their own fate; they had just launched a massive counterattack on the GOP.

Republicans will no doubt try to write off the Prosser loss as the result of poor campaign organizing. Walker will no doubt try to claim Prosser's near 50% of the vote as nearly 50% support for his attacks on unions.

In reality, these things are yet more illusions the Republican party would like people to buy into. In reality, Kloppenburg's defeat of would-have-been-shoe-in Prosser, slated to walk easily with a victory just a few weeks ago, is a direct referendum by the people of Wisconsin on Walker and the Republicans, who had just taken office and taken the majority only months ago. Prosser, with no scandal or blip in his record, could not have lost that much support that quickly without a particularly damning intervention. No campaign in history has ever been that poorly managed.

On March 18, Judge Sumi did what 14 fugitive Senate Democrats and tens of thousands of protesters had failed to: she halted Walker's law by issuing a temporary restraining order blocking the new law from taking effect.

Once the law entered the court system, it slowly dawned on the people of Wisconsin that they could still have a voice in the process that was their runaway Governor and Republican legislature yet. They could change the power balance of the Supreme Court with the upcoming election.

While the court is technically non-partisan, if Kloppenburg could unseat Prosser, a conservative, on the bench, she would shift the court from a 4-3 conservative lean, to a 4-3 liberal lean for the first time in over a decade. The ramifications this will have on Walker's bill when it reaches the court's docket were apparent. The people of Wisconsin recognized this and reacted and organized in record numbers.

You do not mess with unions and you do not lie to the American people. Not only did the people rally to support the unions in the polls yesterday, they rallied to make the statement that they are owed candor and respect from their elected officials. Walker didn't do the job they elected him to do; far from. He overstepped his bounds and, in the process, kicked the angry hornets nest that is the unions.

With Kloppenburg expected to take the bench, though there may be a recount process, and Walker's bill in limbo, it isn't clear that Walker accomplished anything in terms of dismantling the unions. What is becoming clear, however, is that Walker has mobilized the unions at levels unprecedented in recent years.

Republicans didn't just seal their fate in the Kloppenburg / Prosser election, which they had in the bag until a few weeks ago. The Republicans will pay dearly for this in the 2012 election. The GOP will suffer losses in Wisconsin, as well as in the nearby, heavily-unionized states of Ohio and Pennsylvania. While all are normally swing states, I promise you they will all be blue in 2012. They should have let sleeping dogs lie.

The people have spoken out against the travesty of worker rights and against a dishonest government who is more interested in pursuing its own agenda at the expense of the people than in doing what it was elected to do. Republicans have paid a price for Walker's assault on American workers, and in 2012 they'll keep paying.

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Fuzzy Valentine

I was torn between celebrating today by wearing a red onesie and glitter heart deely-bobbers to work or expressing myself through the majesty of prose. In the end, majesty of prose won out, narrowly, but only because I don't have a bedazzler to add some extra flare to my onesie.

I custom made myself a someecard for Valentine's Day because I found that none of
Hallmark's selections accurately expressed all I wish to convey about this holiday.

Valentine's Day is my FAVORITE day of the year, just after Christmas, my birthday, Halloween, Super Bowl Sunday, New Years Eve, the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Sundays during football season, any day on which any Pittsburgh sports team wins a game, St. Patrick's Day, every Thursday - Saturday, Thanksgiving and Easter, and just ahead of Yom Kippur, Arbor Day, and Boxing Day (Canada), as I still have no idea what the hell any of those things are. My enthusiasm for the holiday is mildly dampened, however, by an annual dilemma.

Choosing just one Valentine from all my many gentlemen callers (a short list of whom can be found in last year's Valentine's Day blog ) is always a difficult task for me. Though many men vie for this privilege, this year, I haven't found any who meet the requirement of either being my soul mate, being Sidney Crosby, or being someone willing to take me out to do something gratuitously opulent, preferably involving a unicorn, icecream cake, me in a tiara, and not being offended by my texting a boy I'd rather be with after the date is over.

So upon whom, you may ask, have I selected to bestow this prestigious honor? There were 3 finalists.

Finalist number 1 is a bar; George. George makes the cut because while there last night, I found some chocolates on the bar and pocketed them. Since my drunk memory span is approximately that of a goldfish, I was delighted and surprised to find my coat pockets full of said chocolates this morning. Not only were they delicious (hello, breakfast), but they miraculously did not contain the date rape drug, Rohypnol. I know George loves me even though he only we only see each other drunk on Thursday - Saturday nights after 10PM, he always keeps the lights dimmed, he sometimes leaves me with bruises, and he is seeing a few hundred other women...

Finalist number 2 is my grandmother who sent me a Valentine's Day card with $20, which, in an effort to honor her thoughtfulness, I will attempt not to spend on booze, crack cocaine, or whores.

Finalist number 3 is my cat, Maya. I have to give it up for my cat. She's easily the most low maintenance of all the finalists, and I'm a big fan of putting minimal effort into a relationship and having the recipient of said minimal efforts not become resentful or develop a drinking problem as a result. All you have to do for a cat to love you is basically put out food and water in bowls on the floor. If that's all the effort it took to raise a child, I might actually look into it some day.

In the four years I've had my cat, I have spent more time with her than anyone else. Somehow, however, I have managed to not get sick of her except on the weekends before 1PM when she attempts to wake me by pushing each and every belonging off my dresser one item at a time, then glaring at me to be sure I heard the noise and am just passing back out before she pushes the next item onto the floor for maximum sustained annoyance.

When I get home, she greets me at the front door, meowing; her back paws on my dining room table, her front paws on the door knob, looking eagerly through the window in the door as I undo the locks. I compare the feeling of something greeting you that enthusiastically with swimming naked in a pool full of puppies. When I am home, Maya follows me from room to room, even laying just outside the shower along the edge of the basin when I'm in there. She doesn't care what I spend my time doing; she's happy just to do it with me.

She lets me watch whatever I want on tv and sits beside me on the couch or in bed and watches contentedly and silently with no complaints. Anything and everything on Animal Planet? Of course my cat is into it. Hoarders and Intervention on A&E? Maya's down. 8 hour all-day weekend marathons of America's Next Top Model? Those too. Sports games? Yup. She is the only thing I know aside from my father who can watch as many Pittsburgh sporting events as I do with me and tolerate me... although when I swear at the screen and jump up and down, she definitely glares. At least she would never cheer for the other team.

Most importantly, my cat loves me unconditionally (like my grandmother but unlike George, which doesn't appreciate when I "sit on the floor" or "go out the fire exit" or "lose my purse/cellphone/keys/coat for the ninety-fifth time"). My cat loves me whether I'm in makeup or not. She loves me whether I'm sick or healthy, and no matter my mood. She loves me whether I'm in unattractive, loose-fitting pajamas, a floor length ball gown, or something incredibly sexy like my bunny onesie, complete with bunny-footies. My cat loves me the same whether I'm sitting on the floor playing with her toys with her, or stumbling into the house at 4AM apologizing with slurred words, "I'm sorry for being your drunken, white trash mother, but next weekend I'm gonna get dressed up real classy-like and find us a DADDY... go get some lottery tickets and play my numbers. Maybe win a couple hundred and turn this life around!"

True, sometimes I think she may be a bit of a Judgy McJudgerson because she'll give me that angry "I'm better than you" look the cat species has perfected, but I know she loves me. If you believe the adage "If you love something let it go. If it comes back is yours.", then you will be convinced of my cat's unconditional love with the following:

A few months ago, I fell asleep with my front door wide open and somehow managed to not only be not robbed and not raped, but to still have a cat. I woke up and found her laying contentedly at the foot of my bed, untempted to stray in an attempt to find greener pastures. There will always be a wide world beyond your front door, but having someone (or something) content to choose home, having realized that home is where the heart is, over whatever else is out there; that's something indispensable in any Valentine of mine. So laugh all you want at my fuzzy Valentine, but I'd rather have a cat for a Valentine than anyone who doesn't have these qualities, or who isn't Sidney Crosby.

If sappy feelings about love aren't your bag and you're a little overwhelmed with the cringe-worthy status messages of your coupled-up friends or embittered "Valentine's Day is just a stupid commercialized holiday!" status messages of your single friends, here is a video of the incredible Pittsburgh Penguins / New York Islanders NHL game / battle royale the other night. It resulted in 65 penalties, 15 fighting majors, and 6 players from each team being tossed from the game. That makes this game approximately 65 times more fun than monogamy, 15 times more tolerable than cuddling, and 6 times more worthwhile to discuss with friends than whatever monotonous, cliche thing you've got planned for Valentine's Day.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Pittsburgh Steelers: A season in review

The DJs at all my favorite bars are as thankful that the Super Bowl is finally here as I am
so that I will finally stop requesting Wiz Khalifa's "Black & Yellow" three to seven times a night.


In case you're wondering, I was up until 4AM last night, and here I am wide awake at 9AM. Nothing wakes me up before noon on the weekends... unless, of course, that morning just so happens to be Christmas or the morning of the mother of all football games and the Steelers are playing. A recent Yahoo Sports poll found that men look forward more to the Super Bowl than their anniversaries. You can chalk me up to being one girl who fits that bill, then replace "anniversary" (how is that even in the same realm??) with "Christmas".

And seriously praise the sports gods for giving me a Pittsburgh Penguins / Washington Capitals NHL game at noon so I have some sort of intensity outlet before kickoff this evening. There's a probable chance I might explode otherwise.

I've been in a frenzy since the Steelers defeated the Jets to win the AFC Championship two weeks ago to send Pittsburgh to its eighth Super Bowl appearance, tying the Dallas Cowboys for most ever Super Bowl appearances. Fun fact: with 6 Super Bowl rings, the most of any NFL team in history, that makes our record 6 of 8 in the big game. I even made a Super Bowl countdown calendar at work. I printed out a new "_ days until the Super Bowl" page every morning and proudly paraded it by the desk of my Patriots fan coworker and Ravens fan boss like a ring girl in a boxing match. I wore nothing but black and gold to work for the past two weeks until this past Thursday when I ran out of work-appropriate black and gold outfits.

This hasn't been something I've been preparing for for just the past two weeks either. As every Steeler fan knows, every year could be the year. This year, however, I've been calling a definitive Pittsburgh Super Bowl appearance since the preseason on every social media platform I use.

The season got off to what some would call an inauspicious start for the Steelers. Quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, was facing accusations (differentiate from charges) of sexual assault. To those who would continue to bring the allegations up, I would say simply this: the man was never even charged and so he never had his day in court. There was a lack of evidence to bring any charges. If you have a dispute about the lack of evidence, you should take issue with the police work in the case, not with the accused.

Even at the last game of the season, as I sat, freezing in the stands at the Steelers / Browns game in Cleveland, I heard a nearby Cleveland fan (one of the few who hadn't left the stadium after the first quarter), undeterred by the fact his team was trailing by no less than 30 points, yelling "Ben Rapelisberger". It was then that a trash-talking guru, a boy of about 10-years-old, bedecked in Steelers gear, yelled back "He's raping Cleveland right now!" Indeed.

While Roethlisberger never faced any legal action for the charges, he was suspended by the NFL for the first four games of the season. He also faced criticism from Pittsburgh fans who were none too happy about his behavior threatening to tarnish the Steeler brand and franchise, long one of the most respected in the NFL.

Roethlisberger spent the better part of the past year rebuilding his image on and off the field. At Steelers training camp in August, fans, myself included, watched the team practice in the heat, then eagerly crowded along the fences in hopes the players would stop over to sign a few autographs of the hats/shirts/helmets/dolls/calendars/photos/magazines/footballs/bobbleheads we thrust forward as far as our arms could reach. Sweat-drenched and exhausted, all of the players except two headed back to the locker room after practice. Roethlisberger and linebacker James Harrison stayed and headed toward fans. Harrison stuck around signing for about ten minutes. Roethlisberger stayed for the better part of an hour. He stayed until it started raining. He stayed past when the staff suggested he head back in. He stayed until he signed my Steelers baseball hat, and just about every thing every other fan held out for him.

Roethlisberger owed a debt of gratitude to Steeler Nation, who was hesitant in supporting him after his off-season antics. As he took to the field in week six, after facing a four game NFL-imposed suspension and a week five bye-week, Steeler Nation gave him another chance and cheered him on. Commentators questioned if Pittsburgh fans would boo him in his first return appearance, which I knew wouldn't happen. I knew Steeler fans had a deal of sorts with our QB; this is it. You get one more shot at redemption and we will stand behind you and you will show us that you're worth it.

He spent the rest of the season racking up wins despite a broken nose and broken foot, none of which prevented him from playing, proving himself worthy of that support. The Steelers went 12-4 in the regular season, locking up the 2-seed and homefield playoff advantage.

Because of Roethlisberger's suspension, most sports commentators didn't consider Pittsburgh a contender for this year's Super Bowl, or even playoffs. Not me. I knew Pittsburgh was going to the Super Bowl, and said as much on various social networking sites since the preseason. We still had the rest of an incredible team, including one of the best defenses in the NFL, an incredible runningback in Rashard Mendenhall, and sure hands and speed in wide-receivers like Hines Ward and Mike Wallace. Also, I knew that with Roethlisberger being one of the most-sacked QBs in the NFL, missing a few games would mean a QB with fresh legs and a fresh arm on someone who would otherwise be a battered and bruised at that point in the season. All those hits take their toll, and this year, a suspension simply meant that many less of them. I knew all the Steelers had to do was even go 2-2 to keep themselves in the running before Roethlisberger's return to give ourselves a fair playoff shot.

The team went an impressive 3-1 sans Big Ben, with speedy Dennis Dixon who was reminiscent of former QB Kordell Stewart, and Charlie Batch at the helm. Pittsburgh would have been 4-0 but for a meager 3 point loss to the Ravens, thanks in part to two missed field goals by kicker, Jeff Reed. Reed, inconsistent throughout the season, was let go in November and replaced with former Redskins, Cowboys kicker, Shaun Suisham.

The team faced more road bumps along the way, including injuries to key defensive player, safety, Troy Polamalu, defensive end Aaron Smith, and first-round draft pick, center, Maurkice Pouncey. Pouncey, who helped shore up the Steelers offensive line problem, important with a QB who takes as much time in the pocket as Roethlisberger does, and Smith will not be playing in the Super Bowl.

The only question in my mind was who Pittsburgh would face from the NFC in the big game. I had my answer as soon as the injury-plagued New Orleans Saints were eliminated in the wild-card week of the playoffs. On January 10, after watching the first round of playoffs and sizing up the competition, I called a Steelers / Packers Super Bowl, announcing my prediction on a few social networking sites with no uncertainty about it.

Needless to say, that is the match-up I'll be watching today, stressed out and living each and every moment of the game as if I were on the field with the team. I ended the last Steelers Super Bowl, in 2009, an elated mess, happy beyond words after praying into my terrible towel (now all the dirtier after yet another season's wear and tear and my superstitious refusal to ever wash it) on my knees as the refs reviewed Santonio Holmes' game winning catch in the endzone with just seconds left in the game. The truth is, Pittsburgh fans really do feel like we are out there on the field. Our hearts and souls, and the spirit of our city is out there on the line with our team.

Pittsburgh is synonymous with its sports teams. That's the reason we expect so much out of them and the reason the Roethlisberger situation mattered so much to fans. That is why I felt the need to rehash it and, in my mind, lay it to rest here. No matter how much crap anyone ever gives us for any perceived shortcomings of our city, and believe me, there are always uninformed (to put it nicely...) individuals who do, we know that when it comes to sports, there is no doubt that Pittsburgh reigns supreme.

Pittsburgh sports teams are the "My kid beat up your honor student" bumper sticker on the black stripe, yellow paint, blue-collar beater car that might not look luxurious, but never fails to get you where you need to be and get the job done. Today, our city is counting on our football team to do just that.

We are the city of champions. We have the best sports teams and the best fans. We are Pittsburgh. We are Steeler Nation. Now throw your towels up, Nation! Throw em up!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pryor, OSU take down Arkansas, SEC

Terrelle Pryor and the Ohio State Buckeyes celebrate a well-earned victor over the Arkansas Razorbacks.

To see how far someone has come, you need to look at where they started. For Ohio State quarterback, Terrelle Pryor, that is from very humble roots indeed, in a little school district in my hometown, where the high school football team lifted in the coach's garage because the school couldn't even afford a weight room. For Ohio State, that is from a record of having lost its nine previous bowl games played against SEC schools. For the Big Ten conference, that is from having just suffered three embarrassing bowl game losses to SEC teams on New Years Day.

If you understand those things, you understand why last night's Sugar Bowl was such a huge statement game. It spelled redemption across the board any which way you read it.

Admittedly, I found the game personally redeeming as well. I have been defending Pryor and Ohio State to the hilt all season, insisting to my SEC friends and in my own facebook status messages and twitter posts that this will be the year Pryor and OSU take down the SEC and break the curse. Specifically, I said I believed this year's Buckeye team would defeat any SEC school, except perhaps their #1 ranked team. That is exactly what happened.

Pryor is finally a junior; an older, more experienced QB, and, as such, he is the secret ingredient OSU had been missing in its past losses to SEC teams. No matter how many times I told everyone that this is the year and they should believe me, they didn't see it coming until this game was over.

Telling an SEC fan that any of their teams are inferior to any non-SEC teams is like teaching a pig to whistle. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. While any good football fan has to give respect to the SEC as the best conference in college football, many of their fans' blind inability to appreciate talent on other teams has warranted an "In. your. face." spirited reaction from me. The problem with SEC fans is that they fail to give any respect or recognition where it is due outside the SEC. Perhaps if they took some time to smell the winning Rose Bowl performance Pryor and OSU gave last year, they would have seen this coming like I did *all* season.

Pryor and OSU fought their tails off every day and got little to no respect from SEC fans; respect which they can no longer be denied after taking down the Razorbacks, the SEC's #2 team in this decisive bowl game.

Pryor earned the MVP award for his performance in the game, in which he basically carried the entire game on his shoulders, running for essential first downs and a team-leading 115 yards, and completing 14-of-25 passes. Two of Pryor's passes resulted in touchdowns, helping OSU build a solid lead over the Razorbacks, who went into halftime trailing 28-10.

However, the Razorbacks managed to stop the bleeding and stage a near comeback in the second half. 14 points and a safety later, Arkansas, then trailing only 31-26, nearly did get their comeback when Colton Miles-Nash hurdled two OSU linemen to block a punt and give the Razorbacks the ball at the Ohio State 18-yard line with 1:09 remaining in the game.

As if the game weren't heart-attack-inducing enough at this point, an interception by Ohio State defensive end, Solomon Thomas, only seconds later, sealed the victory of #6 OSU over #8 Arkansas, 31-26.

OSU stayed on top despite a wrist injury to one of their wide receivers which forced him to leave the game in the second half, and a late fourth quarter ankle injury to Pryor, which caused him to miss only one play while he got taped up before continuing to play through. Pryor's teammates had to assist him in getting up onto the award podium after the game.

Indeed, Pryor and OSU didn't just beat Arkansas tonight; they triumphed over the jinx of previous losses to SEC teams, and, indeed, triumphed over many disrespectful SEC fans in what will hopefully serve as an eye-opening "you're good, but you're not as good as you think you are, and you're not invincible" moment for the conference and their loyal-to-a-fault fans.

Make no mistake, I absolutely respect the SEC and the incredible talent across the board of their teams. I also respect the dedication of their fans, though not when it produces the type of hubris I saw exhibited by them this season.

This year, Ohio State's Sugar Bowl win proved Pryor and the Buckeyes were better than all in the conference but perhaps #1 Auburn. They earned the respect for which they fought every step of the way and which they had been wrongfully denied.