Monday, March 28, 2011

Test Teacher

Sing Along With Test Teacher

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Rally Thursday, March 24, 2011

State Of Emergency Protest:

Day Of Rage Against The Cuts

Student / Labor / Community Rally Against Budget Cuts

Thursday, March 24 at 5 PM

Rally at City Hall at 5 PM, March to Wall Street at 6 PM

Jobs, Not Layoffs!
Affordable Housing Now!
No Cuts to Social Services!
No Union-Busting or Privatization!
Stop the School Closings!
End Mayoral Control and Fire Cathleen Black!
Extend the Millionaire’s Tax!
Close Corporate Tax Loopholes!
Bring Back the Stock Transfer Tax!

Endorsed by (list in formation):
To endorse or for more information, email
Anakbayan New York/New Jersey
Bail Out The People Movement
Bronx Green Party
Catholic Scholars for Workers Justice
Center for Immigrant Families
Citywide Coalition for Educational Excellence Now
Coalition for Public Education/Coalición por la Educación Pública
Community/Farmworker Alliance
Community Voices Heard
CUNY Mobilization Network
DC 37
DC 1707
December 12th Movement
Democratic Socialists of America
Fight Imperialism Stand Together
Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment-GABRIELA USA
Freedom Party
Freedom Socialist Party
Grassroots Education Movement
Hunger Action Network
Hunter Fights Back
IBT 808
Independent Community of Educators
International Action Center
International Socialist Organization
Manhattan Green Party
May 1st Coalition
Million Workers March Movement-East
Movimiento Independiente de Trabajadores
New York City Labor Against the War
New York Collective of Radical Educators
New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
Organization for a Free Society
Our Schools NYC
Philippine Forum New York
Queens College STAND
Radical Women
Social Workers for a Free CUNY
Socialist Party
South Bronx Community Congress
Students for Educational Rights
Students Without Borders
Teachers for a Just Contract
Teachers Unite
TWU 100
TWU 100 Woman’s Committee
UAW Region 9A
United National Antiwar Committee
UUP Brooklyn Health Science-SUNY/Downstate Chapter
Workers World Party

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Proud to Be a Union Member - Finally

Last week I went to my first UFT meeting as a retiree.  Lucky I did, because they handed out badges that looked like this (only round).  After the meeting was over, I walked from 52 Broadway to the World Trade Center, right through the heart of Wall Street,  proudly wearing my badge.  People with expensive suits and ties looked at it, and then looked away.  Once I got into the subway station, other people looked at it, and then at me, and smiled.

Today bloggers are writing about why they support unions.  Why do I support unions?  The answer is:


If that seems a little rude and crude, please forgive me. I was bullied by a billionaire for nine years. It has changed the "lens" through which I see the world (to use a Bloomburger term).

There are three kinds of power: The power to get, the power to hold, and the power to take away. When Bloomberg came into office in 2002, he gladly would have fired every teacher in the system, converted every public school into a private charter school, and hired only those teachers who were willing to work without a union contract, i.e. low wages and no benefits. The only reason that he wasn't able to do all that was because he didn't have the power. With all his billions, and all his friends' billions, he didn't have more power than the teachers of New York City. We held on and he couldn't take away...

...not all at once, anyway. However little by little, an ounce here, a pound there, he has slipped away with little pieces of power that we thought we could spare. Nine years later, thousands of letters to file, thousands of "U" ratings, thousands of hearings, thousands of dollars in fines, thousands of teachers flung into rubber rooms or into ATR limbo, he is well on his way to reaching the goals he had at the beginning of his reign.

One of the ways that he has made us loosen our hold, has been to shame us and blame us. He accused us of perpetrating a failed system that hurts children's chances of succeeding in life. He blamed us for putting our union benefits ahead of the welfare of our students. According to him, we, the teachers put children last; he, the billionaire, put children first. Our ranks were riddled with incompetents and abusers. He would weed them out and substitute them with "supermen" like himself--only younger. We were lazy, he was hardworking. We were selfish, he was selfless. We were resistant to change, he was the agent of change.

Little by little the abuse took effect. We became apologetic. We began to believe his lies. Perhaps we shouldn't have so much power. Perhaps we shouldn't be so selfish. We pointed fingers at each other.

"You're incompetent and resistant to change!"
"No, you are!"

We pushed our students to do well on his tests to prove to him that we weren't such lazy pieces of Charlie, Roger, Able, Peter.

We gave and we gave and we gave. Giving up power means you lose and someone else gains. You stop holding on and somebody else takes away.

Our union leadership rarely uses the word, "power". I just looked at the latest edition of "New York Teacher," and couldn't find the word anywhere. There is a lot of talk about rights and benefits, sacrifice and solidarity, but not power. Perhaps the word has negative connotations reminding us of those who ruthlessly dominated others--Atila the Hun, Hitler, Stalin--Bullies, despots, tyrants, overlords, slave drivers, etc.

But our power is different. Our power comes from large numbers of people working together in solidarity. It's a democratic power and serves the best interests of the great majority of people. All of Bloomberg's rhetoric about unions being responsible for a failed system is B-U-L-L. He and other billionaires are making the power grab of the century, of the millenium, and they are doing so by dividing us, setting us against each other, and making us ashamed of our power--the power of our union.

That was until Wisconsin. The rallies in Madison were not called by the union leadership. People went out and stood together, joined by a common cause of defending the right of collective bargaining. It is so important to hold on to that right because it gives us power when bargaining with very rich,powerful people and entities who have no problem returning us to the times when these words described the harsh reality of American workers:

Sixteen tons, and what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt.
St. Peter don't you call me, 'cause I can't go.
I owe my soul to the company store.

There is no need to apologize for having taken power away from those who forced people to live like that. We should be exceedingly proud of workers who joined together to seize power from the rich and give it to the poor. Why would we ever want to go back to the way things were? Would that be putting children first?

Somewhere in my lonely battle with the forces of Bloomberg, I lost my pride as a union member. Thanks, Wisconsin for giving it back to me.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Deja Vu All Over Again

"We must close union offices, confiscate their money and put their leaders in prison. We must reduce workers salaries and take away their right to strike" - Adolf Hitler, May 2, 1933

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hit Them Where It Hurts - The Wallet

I have been wracking my brains to figure out how we can boycott the 400 and their Corporations.  As a matter of fact, we already are.  We americans have cut down our spending out of necessity, and I am sure they are feeling it.  That is one reason why they are going after the public sector.

Fire fighters in Wisconsin found a way to get them where it hurts, though.  I am sure, if we all thought very hard, we could find a way here as well.

Wisconsin Firefighters Spark "Move Your Money" Moment

Kucinich In Wisconsin - Reclaim America from Corporations

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Bring Wisconsin Fight to NYC - Planning Meeting Monday March 14

Do you want to bring the Wisconsin fight to New York City?  
Are you tired of just hearing the only solution to layoffs, defending seniority, and stopping budget cuts is calling your State Senator?  

Well, members of NYCoRE (New York Collective of Radical Educators), GEM (Grassroots Education Movement), and Teachers Unite are ready to organize to bring the fighting spirit of Wisconsin to New York City.   On March 25th, there will be another round of Fight Back Friday actions at schools all over the city. If you're interested in activating your school and coordinating with other teacher activists to mobilize collectively, please attend! This is our opportunity to learn more and plan together. Teachers will work in breakout groups to build networks of mobilized chapters or plan for their schools' participation in Fight Back Friday!

There will also be an eyewitness account from Wisconsin and a discussion about its relevance to our fight in New York against the end of seniority, layoffs and constant media attacks.  All are welcomed and please bring a friend.

Monday, March 14 · 5:00pm - 7:00pm
James Baldwin School (Rm 317)
351 W. 18th St.
New York, NY

Directions: James Baldwin Schools is between 8th and 9th Avenues.
Take A,C or E to 14th or 1 to 18th.

For Questions or Comments E-mail

Check Out The Veteran Teacher's Blog

From now on, when I hear or read the words "all the teachers in the Rubber Room should be fired" or "no one should be guaranteed a job for life (tenure)" I will immediately refer the Benighted One to the Veteran Teacher's blog, just in case the  Unenlightened One never takes the trouble to visit the blog, I'll include a little preview.

  • The term Veteran has two meanings
    • Veteran teacher-- 21 years of teaching experience.
    • Veteran  military officer-- 26 years of active and reserve service.
  • Accused of incorrectly grading 5 essays from a total of three exams.
  • Reassigned out of building, to nonteaching position from August 24, 2007 to August 27, 2010 (three years, just in case the Misguided One can't subtract).
  • Completely exonerated by arbitrator because
    • differences in ratings are normal and to be expected, and that is why two or three different teachers grade every test.
    • There was no evidence he was even one of the two or three raters who actually did rate the five essays from the three exams in question.
    • He was not even in the building at the time the five essays were rated.

"District Expenses 

  • 3 + years (The Veteran Teacher) reassigned from classroom teaching to a previously nonexistent non-teaching position w/full pay and benefits paid by the district
  • 3 + years of legal bills for the school district for the 3020a
  • 3 + years of arbitrator fees for the school district for the 3020a
  • 3 + years of full time substitute coverage (pay and benefits) paid by the district
  • 3 + years of school district administrator work hours dedicated to the 3020a
  • 3 + years of lost wages as per arbitrator directive
Total Estimated Expense for the District : $XXX,XXX.XX +  plus additional (and ongoing) lawsuit related costs" (copied and pasted from Veteran Teacher's blog.)

Cost to Veteran Teacher...Incalculable

The story is given in much more detail with accompanying documents on the blog, but these are good talking points if you find yourself defending tenure and/or reassigned teachers.

Moriah Untamed

And The Award for Best Rally Goes To...

Well, Wisconsin, we tried. Yesterday turned out to be a beautiful day for a rally.

NYCoRE, New York Collective of Radical Educators, wins the UNTAMED RALLY AWARD for:

Best Music
Best Turnout

Friday was also beautiful. The Freedom Party wins the UNTAMED RALLY AWARD for:

Most Timely (2:00 PM on 3/11 as requested by Madison students)
Loudest Chanting

Both Groups tied for Contagious Positive Energy and Diversity

Although NYCoRE had a better turnout, it also had an extra day to notify participants.  The Freedom Party had less than 12 hours.

Moriah Untamed

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Rally Today Union Square 1PM See You There

Why do people become more radical?????

It's not just the Muslims who are radicalizing, McKing. When people get abused they become more radical.

Just ask Groucho and Bugs.

Moriah Untamed

Friday, March 11, 2011

Rally Saturday To Stand With Wisconsin

WEAR RED! and spread the word..........

Rally Saturday to Stand with Wisconsin!!!

by New York Collective of Radical Educators (NYCoRE)

Saturday 1 PM Union Square

Stand in solidarity with hundreds of thousands protesting in Madison, WI!

Wisconsin Republicans have rammed through the elimination of collective bargaining rights for Wisconsin's public sector workers through slick, undemocratic legislative maneuvering. They lacked the required quorum to pass the entire so-called "budget repair bill" so they split off the parts dealing with collective bargaining rights and illegally passed the bill through committee with almost no public notice.

But the fight in Wisconsin is FAR FROM OVER!! As soon as word of the Republicans maneuver leaked, Wisconsin's state capitol was besieged with protesters--with thousands forcing their way through windows and past police into the capitol building. The bill only passed when police forcibly and illegally dragged protesters out of the Assembly hearing room. Wisconsinites predict the biggest rally yet this Saturday and the bill itself sits on shaky legal ground and faces a likely challenge. Many rank-and-file unionists clamor for a general strikeand some union leaders, including Joe Conway, president of Madison Fire Fighters Local 311. The struggle in Wisconsin is ongoing and needs our support!

Meanwhile, budget cuts and anti-union legislation is spreading like a virus from Wisconsin to Michigan to Puerto Rico. But our side is fighting back. We in NYC have a duty to stand with the workers of Wisconsin and elsewhere as they continue their struggle!

What: Rally in support of Wisconsin workers
When: Saturday, March 12 1 p.m
Who: Workers, students, teachers, parents of New York
Where: South Side of Union Square

Of Course You Realize, This Means War

2:00 PM

Do something (legal) to demonstrate your solidarity with Madison today.

Solidarity With Wisconsin

Friday, March 11, 2011 - 2:00pm

City Hall (Broadway entrance), Lower Manhattan, 4,5, or 6 Train to Brooklyn Bridge

I think it is important to get out on the street as soon as possible. Yes, I know it's going to be raining tomorrow, but I have rain gear. It might be cold, but I have gloves and hoody. The students - not the adults - the S-T-U-D-E-N-T-S of Madison have called for a Nationwide, that's N-A-T-I-O-N-W-I-D-E demonstration of solidarity tomorrow at 2:00 PM local time. I have e-mailed and called around and have not been able to find any other organization planning a protest at the time they called for except, courtesy of the Activist Calendar (see my links), the Freedom Party, whoever they are. I was actually thinking of just going out all by myself and walking up and down my block. But this is probably better.

Other people have been much better at showing up at PEP meetings and have organized demonstrations that I have not gone to, so I am not reproaching anybody who doesn't show up. However, there is such a thing as seizing the moment.

They asked for 2:00 PM. I'll be out out on the street with a sign.

Freedom Party HQ (718) 398-1766

Friday, March 11, 2011 at 2:00PM
New York Workers, Community, & Student Unity

City Hall
(Broadway Entrance)
Downtown, NYC
4,5, or 6 Train to Brooklyn Bridge

Workers are under attack!
Wisconsin today, New York tomorrow!
Bring "Wisconsin" Signs

For more information call Freedom Party HQ (718) 398-1766

Now I have to figure out how to make a waterproof sign.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

In Solidarity--Nationwide Student Walkout

Friday, March 11 · 2:00pm - 11:30pm (local time), High schools nationwide!

High school students in Madison, Wisconsin will walk out of class this Friday, March 11th at 2:00 PM CT to hold a 3:00 CT teach-in on Library Mall in downtown Madison regarding the effects of collective bargaining elimination on public education, as well as the proposed education cuts in the Biennial Budget.

We are asking all students in the United States to walk out at 2:00 PM local time in solidarity with Wisconsin and to organize teach-ins on the attacks on public education and working families where you live.


Wisconsin Students in Solidarity

In Solidarity

Every message I get from the UFT leadership, ends with "In Solidarity" instead of "Sincerely Yours" before a signature.

I never really paid attention to the words. It was a simple formula with which to signal the end to the message--a transition to the signature.

However, Cairo and Madison have taught us all a lesson about the word SOLIDARITY. No convenient link to Wikipedia is necessary for this concept--it is alive and well and evolving.

"Rubber room may not be a bad place for you to reflect, but will be a bad place to feed your fixation."

That was a comment to my post of Saturday, April 25, 2009 titled "Lest we forget". I had just been sent to the Rubber Room on April 6, 2009, and would remain there until I retired on November 17, 2010.  At first I thought that someone from my school--maybe the principal--was the asshole who wrote this comment.  However, knowing the Rubber Room culture as I do, I now suspect it was another Rubber Room detainee.   It is an example of a supreme lack of solidarity.  Nevertheless, the asshole was partially right.  The RR was not a bad place for me to reflect.  Here is a summary of my reflections.


Actually this is my original "fixation" now indelibly tattooed on my soul forever as a rule to live by.

Now that a film about "banksters" has gotten an Academy Award, and many other people besides me are pointing to billionaires and their corporations as the root of our economic woes, I can now say:


Billionaires are not heroes.  Billionaires are really good at amassing money and power. That's all they care about.  They don't care about you except for your role in getting them more money and power.  Don't let billionaires near your children.

Large amounts of money and power have been amassed in the hands of less than 1% of the American people.  This tiny minority (the number 400 has been mentioned) now have excessive influence over our elected officials at all levels--from mayors to presidents.  They have managed to control appointments of those officials who are not elected--chancellors, for example.  They control major union officials--Randi Weingarten, for instance.  

I generally oppose an US vs THEM mentality, but in this case, I make an exception.  It's US against 400 people.

"So", you might ask, "Principal Perry, the Bloomburger who persecuted you and sent you to the Rubber Room, is she one of US"?

Yes.  She definitely isn't one of THEM.   As far as the 400 are concerned she is one of THEIRS, never one of THEM.  I agree with the 400.  She is owned.  If they cut her chains, she wouldn't know what to do with herself, because she only knows how to mindlessly follow orders.  That's all she's good at. 

As far as I am concerned, it is a waste of time to focus on those of us who serve the 400.  We've all been there.  We have and still do make decisions based on whether or not it will affect our jobs--because without jobs we don't have homes, food, a college education for our children.  These are the chains that bind us all.

This is where Unions come in.  Our ability to collectively bargain with the 400 takes away from their ability to control us.  They are obviously moving aggressively forward to correct that inconvenient drag on their insatiable drive for more power.

I am sitting here on a rainy day writing my blog. I didn't have to get up, get dressed, and commute to work.  My rent, my food, my clothes, my health care is paid for by my pension and other union benefits negotiated in my contract.  I do not believe for one moment that I would have these things without a union contract. I do not thank Weingarten or Mulgrew, though.  It was negotiated long before they came on the scene because teachers worked in solidarity to establish a union.  

I am able to retire in dignity and relative comfort in spite of the fact that I was branded a BAD TEACHER by a billionaire's mind-slave.

I would like to call on all NYC public school teachers and their union leaders to stop looking for the BAD TEACHERS amongst you.  Stop engaging in the rhetoric invented by the billionaires to destroy solidarity.  Every time you focus on the teacher down the hall who is not quite up to snuff according to you, you are showing a lack of solidarity.  Every time you get together in the teachers' lounge and talk about what a BAD TEACHER so-and-so is, you are engaging in mobbing behavior.  Every time you come together to target a BAD TEACHER you are really just trying to offer up someone to the Bloommonster in hopes that if you feed the Ogre he will go away and leave you alone.  In reality, all he does is get fatter and hungrier.  He'll be back for more.  Whom will you offer up in sacrifice next?

The educational system is sick and corrupt.  It was bad before Bloomberg, and has just gotten worse thanks to him.  If your school were a healthy, organic social unit, where all adults--parents and teachers were working in unity and solidarity to provide the best possible education to the children, there would no such thing as a BAD TEACHER.  

In solidarity,


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Teachers Make Handy Scapegoats

Copied and Pasted from

Teachers make handy scapegoats by Fred Grimm

A scab driver, looking terrified, drove out of a freight depot outside Ironton, Ohio, moving through a picket line of angry, cursing independent haulers clustered at the gate.

One striker, enraged beyond control, broke from the line, pulled out a pocket knife and ran along with the slow moving truck, howling curses and stabbing at the big tires with every step.

I ran along with my camera, thinking that here was a wild-eyed union guy damn worthy of his bosses’ rancor. Four decades later, it’s hard to equate that unforgettable image of a crazed-with-anger trucker with a Florida school marm, the designated villain of labor relations, circa 2011.

Maybe I’m just hopelessly stuck in the past, head cluttered with memories of burly and grizzled union coal miners camped out on a snowy West Virginia mountainside at the mouth of a muddy driveway with a small arsenal of semi-automatic weapons handy in case things turned disagreeable. School teachers, not often armed with Uzi machine pistols or Buck knives, seem a poor substitute for an economic boogey man.

But Florida, or at least its governor, is in need of a scapegoat to rationalize brutal cuts in education. Guess who’s handy?

So public-school teachers, this session, will lose their tenure in a merit pay bill that’s about as sure a thing as anything percolating through the Legislature. The governor then intends to require teachers to pitch in five percent of their pay for pensions. For Florida’s 655,000 teachers, most of whom haven’t had a raise in several years, the new deduction won’t feel much different than a five percent pay cut.

Rick Scott then wants to cut the state education budget by 10 percent – more than $700 a student. This after successive years of cutbacks. Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho has warned that teacher layoffs will be unavoidable. In Broward, Superintendent James Notter said that at least least 1,270 teachers will be shown the door.

Tallahassee, to sell the saving of public education to the public, necessarily needs some loathsome targets, the living cause of Florida’s mediocre public school system. Teachers will have to do.

“This vilification… is unprecedented and it has demoralized and confused my colleagues unlike anything in my experience as a teacher,” said Paul Moore, a social studies teacher at Miami Carol City Senior High with 28 years experience. “It seems extremely powerful economic and political forces have decided that it is in their interests to make teachers insecure, to set them on edge and force them to worry about the future of themselves and their families.”

“How did it become acceptable to blame the teachers and not address the myriad of problems associated with public education?” asked Martha Barantovich, who teaches at Florida International University’s College of Education.

Imagine the demoralizing effect this stuff has had on prospective teachers at the college. Who wants to borrow money and spend years of their life getting an education degree to get a job in a state that ranks 47th in teacher pay – less than Mississippi? And then have your new employer characterize you as the greedy welfare queen of 2011?

Barantovich said the anti-teacher rhetoric was not lost on her students.

“Their goal to be quality change agents in education is being and has been undermined in the state for a while,” she said. “They are generally positive people excited about teaching, until they see what’s happening to teachers and schools and students.

“We are being made scapegoats for very deep and complex societal problems.’’

Trucker and miners being scarce commodities in 2011 Florida, I suppose teachers will just have to do.

Read more:

Monday, March 7, 2011

America is Not Broke - Michael Moore In Madison

America is not broke.

Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you'll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It's just that it's not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.

Today just 400 Americans have the same wealth as half of all Americans combined.

Let me say that again. 400 obscenely rich people, most of whom benefited in some way from the multi-trillion dollar taxpayer "bailout" of 2008, now have as much loot, stock and property as the assets of 155 million Americans combined. If you can't bring yourself to call that a financial coup d'état, then you are simply not being honest about what you know in your heart to be true.

And I can see why. For us to admit that we have let a small group of men abscond with and hoard the bulk of the wealth that runs our economy, would mean that we'd have to accept the humiliating acknowledgment that we have indeed surrendered our precious Democracy to the moneyed elite. Wall Street, the banks and the Fortune 500 now run this Republic -- and, until this past month, the rest of us have felt completely helpless, unable to find a way to do anything about it.

I have nothing more than a high school degree. But back when I was in school, every student had to take one semester of economics in order to graduate. And here's what I learned: Money doesn't grow on trees. It grows when we make things. It grows when we have good jobs with good wages that we use to buy the things we need and thus create more jobs. It grows when we provide an outstanding educational system that then grows a new generation of inventors, entrepreneurs, artists, scientists and thinkers who come up with the next great idea for the planet. And that new idea creates new jobs and that creates revenue for the state. But if those who have the most money don't pay their fair share of taxes, the state can't function. The schools can't produce the best and the brightest who will go on to create those jobs. If the wealthy get to keep most of their money, we have seen what they will do with it: recklessly gamble it on crazy Wall Street schemes and crash our economy. The crash they created cost us millions of jobs. That too caused a reduction in tax revenue. Everyone ended up suffering because of what the rich did.

The nation is not broke, my friends. Wisconsin is not broke. Saying that the country is broke is repeating a Big Lie. It's one of the three biggest lies of the decade: 1) America is broke, 2) Iraq has WMD, and 3) The Packers can't win the Super Bowl without Brett Favre.

The truth is, there's lots of money to go around. LOTS. It's just that those in charge have diverted that wealth into a deep well that sits on their well-guarded estates. They know they have committed crimes to make this happen and they know that someday you may want to see some of that money that used to be yours. So they have bought and paid for hundreds of politicians across the country to do their bidding for them. But just in case that doesn't work, they've got their gated communities, and the luxury jet is always fully fueled, the engines running, waiting for that day they hope never comes. To help prevent that day when the people demand their country back, the wealthy have done two very smart things:

1. They control the message. By owning most of the media they have expertly convinced many Americans of few means to buy their version of the American Dream and to vote for their politicians. Their version of the Dream says that you, too, might be rich some day -- this is America, where anything can happen if you just apply yourself! They have conveniently provided you with believable examples to show you how a poor boy can become a rich man, how the child of a single mother in Hawaii can become president, how a guy with a high school education can become a successful filmmaker. They will play these stories for you over and over again all day long so that the last thing you will want to do is upset the apple cart -- because you -- yes, you, too! -- might be rich/president/an Oscar-winner some day! The message is clear: keep you head down, your nose to the grindstone, don't rock the boat and be sure to vote for the party that protects the rich man that you might be some day.

2. They have created a poison pill that they know you will never want to take. It is their version of mutually assured destruction. And when they threatened to release this weapon of mass economic annihilation in September of 2008, we blinked. As the economy and the stock market went into a tailspin, and the banks were caught conducting a worldwide Ponzi scheme, Wall Street issued this threat: Either hand over trillions of dollars from the American taxpayers or we will crash this economy straight into the ground. Fork it over or it's Goodbye savings accounts. Goodbye pensions. Goodbye United States Treasury. Goodbye jobs and homes and future. It was friggin' awesome and it scared the shit out of everyone. "Here! Take our money! We don't care. We'll even print more for you! Just take it! But, please, leave our lives alone, PLEASE!"

The executives in the board rooms and hedge funds could not contain their laughter, their glee, and within three months they were writing each other huge bonus checks and marveling at how perfectly they had played a nation full of suckers. Millions lost their jobs anyway, and millions lost their homes. But there was no revolt (see #1).

Until now. On Wisconsin! Never has a Michigander been more happy to share a big, great lake with you! You have aroused the sleeping giant known as the working people of the United States of America. Right now the earth is shaking and the ground is shifting under the feet of those who are in charge. Your message has inspired people in all 50 states and that message is: WE HAVE HAD IT! We reject anyone who tells us America is broke and broken. It's just the opposite! We are rich with talent and ideas and hard work and, yes, love. Love and compassion toward those who have, through no fault of their own, ended up as the least among us. But they still crave what we all crave: Our country back! Our democracy back! Our good name back! The United States of America. NOT the Corporate States of America. The United States of America!

So how do we make this happen? Well, we do it with a little bit of Egypt here, a little bit of Madison there. And let us pause for a moment and remember that it was a poor man with a fruit stand in Tunisia who gave his life so that the world might focus its attention on how a government run by billionaires for billionaires is an affront to freedom and morality and humanity.

Thank you, Wisconsin. You have made people realize this was our last best chance to grab the final thread of what was left of who we are as Americans. For three weeks you have stood in the cold, slept on the floor, skipped out of town to Illinois -- whatever it took, you have done it, and one thing is for certain: Madison is only the beginning. The smug rich have overplayed their hand. They couldn't have just been content with the money they raided from the treasury. They couldn't be satiated by simply removing millions of jobs and shipping them overseas to exploit the poor elsewhere. No, they had to have more -- something more than all the riches in the world. They had to have our soul. They had to strip us of our dignity. They had to shut us up and shut us down so that we could not even sit at a table with them and bargain about simple things like classroom size or bulletproof vests for everyone on the police force or letting a pilot just get a few extra hours sleep so he or she can do their job -- their $19,000 a year job. That's how much some rookie pilots on commuter airlines make, maybe even the rookie pilot who flew me here to Madison today. He told me he's stopped hoping for a pay increase. All he's asking for now is enough down time so that he doesn't have to sleep in his car between shifts at O'Hare airport. That's how despicably low we have sunk! The wealthy couldn't be content with just paying this man $19,000 a year. They had to take away his sleep. They had to demean him and dehumanize him and rub his face in it. After all, he's just another slob, isn't he?

And that, my friends, is Corporate America's fatal mistake. But trying to destroy us they have given birth to a movement -- a movement that is becoming a massive, nonviolent revolt across the country. We all knew there had to be a breaking point some day, and that point is upon us. Many people in the media don't understand this. They say they were caught off guard about Egypt, never saw it coming. Now they act surprised and flummoxed about why so many hundreds of thousands have come to Madison over the last three weeks during brutal winter weather. "Why are they all standing out there in the cold?" I mean, there was that election in November and that was supposed to be that!

"There's something happening here, and you don't know what it is, do you ...?"

America ain't broke! The only thing that's broke is the moral compass of the rulers. And we aim to fix that compass and steer the ship ourselves from now on. Never forget, as long as that Constitution of ours still stands, it's one person, one vote, and it's the thing the rich hate most about America -- because even though they seem to hold all the money and all the cards, they begrudgingly know this one unshakeable basic fact: There are more of us than there are of them!

Madison, do not retreat. We are with you. We will win together.