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By the way

Storms coming through, lost power briefly. If I disappear, that’s why.

‘Don’t vilify public workers’

It’s mild, but it’s something:

Addressing governors from around the country at the White House this morning, President Obama dedicated a moment of his speech to warning them not to vilify public workers.

“I believe that everybody should be prepared to give up something to solve our budget challenges,” Obama said. “In fact, many public employees in your respective states have already agreed to cuts. But let me also say this: I don’t think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified or when their rights are infringed upon.”

Thousands of public employees have protested in Wisconsin and Ohio as Republicans have proposed stripping them of some collective bargaining rights, as part of new state budget plans. Pensions and compensation to unionized state and municipal workers have come under increasing fire from conservatives during the past year.

“We need to attract the best and brightest to public service,” Obama said. “We’re not going to attract the best teachers for our kids if they only make a fraction of what other professions make … Yes, we need a conversation about pensions and Medicare and Medicaid and other promises that we’ve made as a nation, and those will be tough conversations and necessary conversations.”

Not liking that last part, though. If we have to keep promises to bankers to allow them to keep their obscene bonuses, well, you won’t get away with swatting the rest of us away.

Bill Gates and schools

People seem to confuse creating a successful monopoly with brilliance.

‘Gov. Walker, this is not your house’

The police union refuses to remove protesters from the Capitol:

My night with Steve Earle

So we had dinner downstairs in Johnny Brenda’s before the show, and the only available seats in the dining room were right next to… Steve Earle, who was sitting at the small table right next to ours. I was trying to read the chalkboard menu, which was on the wall behind his head, but I didn’t want to look like I was staring at the celebrity. It was a fine line to walk.

Plus, I couldn’t decide what I wanted. Finally I said to Steve, pointing at his plate, “What’s that?”

“Mussels and sausage,” he said.

“Is it good?”

“Yep.” Then he started talking about how the sausage was supposed to be chorizo, but he didn’t think it was. He liked it anyway.

Brush with greatness!

But our attention was really on Rocco, the absolutely adorable eight-month old who was the offspring of the diners on the other side of us. This baby had the cutest face, and just beamed at everyone. It was a pleasure just to see him smile. (How can you not love babies?)

By the way, Steve was right; the mussels and sausage were really, really good.

The show was a benefit for Witness to Innocence, an organization of exonerated death row survivors who fight against the death penalty. Ray Krone and Ronald Kitchen, two of the members, told their powerful stories to the packed house.

Then Steve came out, talked about his support for the cause, then told a funny story about showing up at a 5th century church in Rome to surprise Sister Helen Prejean (the anti-death penalty activist nun whose book inspired “Dead Man Walking”), who was speaking there. He said she saw him, just stopped her speech and said, “Steve Earle.” Pause. “In church.” Pretty funny.
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Oscars

The older I get, the less interested I become in who wins what. Lots of cheesy movies win Oscars, and occasionally, even great ones. And yes, I do think it’s “an honor just to be nominated.” It’s recognition, and actually winning depends on so many random factors, the losing nominees shouldn’t ever feel like losers.

But anyway, I didn’t watch last night, because I was at the Steve Earle show. I’m happy “Inside Job” won (the documentary category was very strong this year), and I did catch the Inception bit with Anne Hathaway and James Franco online, which was surprisingly clever (I love special effects).

I’m still trying to track down a video of the finale with the PS22 chorus, of which I’m a big fan.

Did you watch? Did you like it?

Still there

While holding the Capitol building doesn’t guarantee a successful outcome for the Wisconsin protesters, it’s pretty clear that the odds of retaining collective bargaining rights drop precipitously if they’re ejected from the building. So this is very good news indeed:

MADISON, Wis. — In a victory — at least a symbolic one — for Wisconsin’s public employee unions, the Capitol authorities announced on Sunday that demonstrators could continue their all-night sleepovers in the building and would not be forcibly ejected or arrested.

Just one day earlier, the state agency that oversees the Capitol police had said that the overnight protests, which have occurred continuously for almost two weeks and have been the heart and soul of the demonstrations in Madison, would cease on Sunday.

The agency is led by an appointee of Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, whose plan to strip public employee unions of nearly all of their collective bargaining rights has led to huge rallies in opposition, with as many as 70,000 demonstrators marching around the Madison Statehouse.

Union officials, who had denounced the plan to close the Capitol overnight as an effort to silence critics, called the reversal a capitulation by Mr. Walker’s administration.

“Cooler heads prevailed,” said Jim Palmer, the executive director of the 11,000-member Wisconsin Professional Police Association. “They had said they were going to clear the place out, and then they thought the better of it. Now it’s clear that law enforcement professionals are running the show.”

Officials from both the governor’s office and the Department of Administration, the cabinet-level state agency that had previously called for closing the Capitol, could not be reached for comment.

Transcendental blues

Steve Earle:

Little Village live:

You just can’t forget him (can you fool)

Tracy Nelson:

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