Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

Photo courtesy of iStock

Photo courtesy of iStock

It’s hard to choose which was the bigger shock: a federal judge ruled Oklahoma’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, or the founder of a Republican gay-rights group quit the Republican Party. What could have ever driven a gay advocate from the GOP? Was it something they said?

Jimmy LaSalvia, the founder of the conservative gay advocacy group GOProud, recently changed his party registration to unaffiliated, writing on his blog, “I am every bit as conservative as I’ve always been, but I just can’t bring myself to carry the Republican label any longer.”

Why? It was the “tolerance of bigotry in the GOP. The current leadership lacks the courage to stand up to it — I’m not sure they ever will,” wrote LaSalvia.

Maybe that’s not fair. After all, when is the last time we invited Republican leaders to condemn anti-gay discrimination? And if we are going to invite the world’s worst law firm of Cruz, Boehner, Christie, Ryan and McConnell to do this, we should offer them recent examples of what their silence is tacitly accepting.

To wit, of sorts.

On his radio show, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said that “basic biology” dictated that acceptance of homosexuality would lead to the end of the human race and not, for example, floods, famine, plagues, or war.

“Its logical conclusion would be if it were normal it would be extinct, the human race would be extinct within time if it were normal,” said Perkins. “Biology says that only we exist as human beings is that a man and a woman come together and we procreate. That’s the reason that government has long recognized marriage is because it is the place in which children are born.”

When the Republican leaders rush to condemn this pestilent prejudice, I would appreciate it if they could answer a serious question: If marriage is for procreation, and my wife and I decide not to have children, do I still have to take out the garbage?

Not wanting to miss the crazy train, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Clown Car), scolded the federal judges who’ve been on the equality kick to get some “basic plumbing lessons.” He summed up the legal reasoning behind recent rulings striking down gay-marriage bans in New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Utah thusly: “Basically, we haven’t seen any biological evidence to support marriage being between a man and a woman.”

Most Republican bigotry against gays ignores the whole “endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights” and goes right for the fascination about what part goes where. Not so with Dave Agema, a former member of the Michigan House and a current member of the Republican National Committee, whose extremism in the defense of bigotry recently spilled over our borders when he took to Facebook to defend Russia’s “common sense” anti-gay laws.

Here’s what Agema calls “common sense”: Russia’s law outlaws gays from public displays of affection, including holding hands, expressing positive messages about LGBT people, broadcasting or printing news stories that feature gays or lesbians, and treating gay and straight relationships as the same. Also, the rainbow flag is illegal.

This defense of Russia’s legally enfranchised disenfranchisement finally drew censure from one Republican official.

“This is outrageous that a leader of the National Republican Party, my political party, is siding with an autocratic regime that believes in arresting political opponents, censoring reporters, jailing dissidents and eliminating free speech,” said Dennis Lennox, a precinct delegate in Michigan.

On his way out the door, LaSalvia credited this tolerance of anti-gay bigotry with why a recent Gallup poll showed that only 25 percent of Americans called themselves Republicans, an all-time low. It’s not that Americans are less conservative, he wrote, but that they were “too embarrassed to formally affiliate with a party that’s lost its way.”

Republicans can find their way back into the greater American family when they start speaking up about abhorrent comments such as those made by Agema, Gohmert, and Perkins. By remaining silent about anti-gay prejudice, Republican leaders leave the impression that they agree with a position that most Americans equate with not letting blacks or women vote. So here’s your chance, GOP.

Speak now, or forever hold your peace

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Jason Stanford

Jason StanfordJason Stanford is a Democratic political consultant and opposition researcher based in Austin. He served as 2006 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris Bell's campaign manager and chief spokesman. As the head of Stanford Research, he leads opposition research for various candidates and interest groups across the region.

Stanford moved to Texas in 1994 to work as a Deputy Press Secretary for the Ann Richards Committee. Jason and a former colleague founded Stanford Ryan Research & Communications, Inc. in January 1997. The firm became Stanford Research in 1999.

He’s the co-author of “Adios, Mofo: Why Rick Perry Will Make America Miss George W. Bush”, and has a degree in Russian from Lewis & Clark College.

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Difficult Holidays: Peace in the Midst of Our Own Expectations

christmas-garbageThanksgiving was fun. We spent a week at The Farm in Jasper, Alabama with Zeb’s family. I love them and I have the best in-laws in the world. I don’t even have to try to like them, because I just do. They are awesome. And I say that because I don’t want anyone, anywhere to confuse what I’m about to say– but sometimes the holidays just suck.

Yeah, I said it.

The holidays suck. Maybe not for everyone, but I know I’m not alone in this.

I mean, I guess EVERYTHING about the holidays doesn’t suck, but for me, anyway, they are almost always emotional.

You know that hollow, day after Christmas kind of feeling?? That. I hate that.

I guess it boils down to expectations. No matter what, we always have them. Other people have different ones, and then we are all in the same place trying to celebrate and be happy, but there are kids everywhere and tons of people to be fed. And I crave the quiet corner in my bedroom but I’d be sad if I was there because I want to see everybody and do everything but that’s hard too.

My parents divorced when I was sixteen.  It affected every member of my family differently but deeply. Sometimes it still surprises me that my parents aren’t together anymore. Like it just happened yesterday.

Then, in 2006, someone broke into my childhood home and burned it to the ground. (BTW, great job on never doing anything about that, ever, Jasper Police Department.) Thankfully my mother wasn’t in the house when it happened but she lost everything. And for me, the last bit of “home” was gone. Even after my parent’s divorce, home was still home. But then it was just gone and part of my childhood went with it. I miss that house, and the life I thought I was supposed to have pre-divorce. I struggle to this day with my expectations being so very different from my reality.

The day before Thanksgiving, I cooked dinner at The Farm for my wonderful family. The in-law family that has accepted me as their own for the last sixteen years. My dad came by for a quick visit before dinner and I was so happy to be there with everyone.  We ate dinner, my nieces washed dishes and cleaned the kitchen, and I went upstairs to the room Zeb and I share at The Farm, and cried for two hours.

It wasn’t about anybody or anything, it’s just that sometimes, when you are broken– the things that are supposed to feel good, don’t. I’m not sure if I should attribute this to being from a “broken home,” having chronic depression, being human, or all of the above.

I texted with my friend Heather, (because she’s the kind of friend you can text the day before Thanksgiving, when you are crying in the bed), and just talking with her made me feel so normal that I cried harder. Mostly because I knew I needed to write about this moment, because I don’t want you to think you are alone if having to force yourselves to keep moving forward through the holidays when you don’t always feel like it.

I took for granted when I was growing up in my parent’s huge house that one day it would be full of their grandchildren. It never crossed my mind that not only would I not be spending the holidays with my parents, but they wouldn’t be spending it with each other. And every year, I find myself holding my breath around the holidays. Not figuratively. My chest aches and I realize I’m not breathing and it hurts. It hurts to breathe, but it hurts not to. So I take a deep breath and pack up my family and we come to the Farm, where my husband and kids feel like they’ve always belonged but where I still feel slightly conspicuous. I love it there but it’s not my home– it’s not where I was raised. It’s not mine.

Sometimes it just hits me so hard that I need to be saved from myself. From my expectations of other people, from my expectations of me.

The weight of these expectations is what keeps me from breathing. 

But I keep it breezy on Facebook and say things like,  “Have a great turkey day! May all your food dreams come true! Happy Holidays! Fa la la la laaaa!!!”

Because it’s easier than saying, “Hey, I realize today may be really hard for you because it’s not what you thought it was going to be 5 years ago, or 3 months ago or 2 minutes ago. But I hope it’s bearable. I hope it’s good. I hope you make it through this day with a smile. I hope you are kind to yourself today. I hope you breathe and notice something beautiful. Maybe it’s not what you thought it was going to be. But maybe you’ve been adopted into something that is lovely and beautiful and full of light.”

But maybe that’s what I should say instead. Because maybe then you’d feel less alone, and so would I.

Because if you’ve lost someone, if you are struggling with depression, if you feel out of place or out of step or out of sync… I simply hope your holidays are bearable. I hope you breathe through them. I hope you embrace what is beautiful and let go of everything that isn’t and I pray for peace for all us in the midst of our own expectations.

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Robin O'Bryant

Robin O'Bryant is a stay-at-home-mom, syndicated humor columnist and author. Her kids keep her laughing and/or gagging every day. She started Robin's Chicks to document their lives together and as a way to make other moms laugh and realize it REALLY is funny, when it’s happening to someone other than YOU!

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The Elf On the Shelf Is In Need of a Vacation

Photo courtesy of Michael / Flickr

Photo courtesy of Michael / Flickr

I’m not sure if you’ve heard about this new thing that Santa has been up to for the last few years. Apparently, he needed a little help keeping tabs on who was naughty and nice and started sending elves to kids’ houses to monitor their behavior 24/7. You may think the elves look like small stuffed dolls but you would be wrong, my friend.

No as legend tells it, these elves have magical powers. Every night while the children sleep, the little elves fly back to the North Pole to tattle to the Big Man about the kids to which they are assigned. But you know elves— so full of life, so full of mischief.

Those little elves are so busy that my Facebook feed is full of other people’s elves: taking a marshmallow bubble bath in the sink with Barbie, hanging the family’s underpants by the chimney instead of stockings, hanging upside day from the family Christmas tree.

Apparently, those little elves are SO busy that their behaviour is quite the hot topic around the lunch table at my girls’ school. Sadie, Aubrey & Emma come home everyday recounting the new adventures of their friends’ elves.

Ketchup-vegetableWhich may explain why my kids are a bit disgruntled with Santa this year. While he did send an elf to keep an eye on them, poor Chippy seems to be struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder. He’s listless throughout the day and while their friends’ elves get into all sorts of hijinks at night, Chippy tends to spend entirely too much time on Netflix bingeing on his favorite shows. He lays around the house, sipping on a glass of Chardonnay, eating homemade Chex Mix and wearing yesterday’s yoga pants. Occasionally, Chippy makes a half-hearted attempt to climb the Christmas tree, but it’s just so much work.

Chippy recognizes the total insanity of making a mess in someone else’s house and is smart enough to know, if I was left to clean up after a night of elfish escapes, he could expect to be our dog’s new chew toy before I poured my first cup of coffee. I’m pretty sure what Chippy needs is a little vitamin D. A long vacation somewhere where the sands are white, the water is cool, the sun still knows how to shine and the drinks are served in coconuts— and if he wanted to take me with him, well, that’d be okay, too.

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Robin O'Bryant

Robin O'Bryant is a stay-at-home-mom, syndicated humor columnist and author. Her kids keep her laughing and/or gagging every day. She started Robin's Chicks to document their lives together and as a way to make other moms laugh and realize it REALLY is funny, when it’s happening to someone other than YOU!

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Top 10 Things I’m Thankful For This Holiday Season

Photo courtesy of iStock

Photo courtesy of iStock

I’ve watched on Facebook as my friends have done 30 Days of Thankfulness and while I haven’t participated I have definitely been thinking about what I’m thankful for. Here’s my top ten list of things I’m thankful for this holiday season:

1. I no longer spend all my time and money in the baby aisle at Target.

2. I can’t remember the last time we took a family road trip where I actually contemplated walking the last 100 miles home because it would have been more pleasant than being in the car.

3. Everyone in my house is potty trained.

4. I won a bet with my husband about football and I plan on holding it over his head as long as we both shall live. (It’s the little things.)

5. I really truly like all of my family members, not just the ones that live in my house but the ones I grew up with and the ones Zeb grew up with as well. As I get older, I’ve realized that not everyone has this experience.

6. My church family is the real deal. They continually show up and love people like Jesus would. They laugh with me, cry with me, pray for me, and when the occasion arises— drink with me just a little.

Ketchup-vegetable7. Everything I have. I don’t mean to sound trite but I remember living in a one bedroom apartment, hauling laundry to the laundrymat every Saturday & wondering if I was going to have enough quarters to wash all of our clothes, like it was yesterday. Sometimes when I walk through my house I cry, because I can’t believe how far we’ve come.

8. That my in-laws (The Farm People) added on to their house and there is now so much room for my kids to run and play with their cousins that they don’t climb all over me and I almost don’t even need to pack my anxiety pills. (Almost.)

9. That my husband is a morning person. I love so much about Zebulicious but this is one of my favorites, he lets me sleep late all the time and I almost love sleep as much as I love my family members.

10. You. Yep, that’s right. I am so thankful for you. Thank you for reading and laughing with me. Thanks for emailing me and stopping me in the grocery store to tell me that you enjoy what I do. I hope all of your food dreams come true this week.

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Robin O'Bryant

Robin O'Bryant is a stay-at-home-mom, syndicated humor columnist and author. Her kids keep her laughing and/or gagging every day. She started Robin's Chicks to document their lives together and as a way to make other moms laugh and realize it REALLY is funny, when it’s happening to someone other than YOU!

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Thanksgiving at the Cheneys Ought to Be Fun This Year

thanksgiving-dinner“The holiday turkey sure looks grand this year,” Dick Cheney said. “Why don’t we go around the table and say what we’re thankful for?”

Daughter Mary squeezed Heather Poe’s hand and declared, “I’m thankful for my wife.”

“Daddy, there she goes again!” daughter Liz yelled. “She keeps trying to promote her agenda!”

“Get off your soapbox and pass those yams,” Mary spat. “You’re not pandering for that Senate seat today. Daddy, tell her that there aren’t any Wyoming yahoos in this dining room.”

“Leave Daddy alone, Mary. And get your own yams. I love you, and I love Heather, and I love your children, but your family unit has no family values, and the Republican primary voters in Wyoming agree. Daddy, tell her I’m right. Daddy, are you listening to me?”

“Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against us…”

“Daddy’s floating down memory lane again,” Mary scoffed. “Which is fine with me, because he always liked you best.”

“No, he likes you best,” Liz sneered, stabbing the breast meat with the serving fork. “Years ago he said that people should be free to enter into any kind union they wish. Daddy, why aren’t you endorsing my Christian behavior?”

“Hel-lo!” Mary mocked. “Didn’t Daddy show up, just other day, at your campaign fundraiser? When the chips are down, he can’t do enough for big sister. Big sister, who’s on the wrong side of history. Big sister, who sees herself as a new generation of Republican leader. Big sister, who wants to set back the Republicans by 40 years. And I don’t like the way you’re holding that serving fork.”

“You know what, that cranberry sauce over there has more substance than you. Haven’t I always been compassionate to you and Heather? Haven’t we all spent time together? When you guys got married…excuse me, ‘married’…didn’t I make a point of telling you how happy I was for you?”

“Maybe a mouthful of stuffing will shut you up,” Heather Poe piped up. “Take this dish and start spooning it in, because I can’t listen to you anymore. Mary and I have hosted you at our home, and you were all warm and friendly – ‘the Christian way to behave,’ you’ve call it – and then, a couple weeks ago, you go on Fox News to say that you oppose the legitimacy of our kind of family? That’s offensive, to say the least.”

“Couldn’t have said it better myself,” Mary chimed in. “Right, Daddy?”

“Saddam has been very, very good at hiding his WMD efforts. We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.”

“See what you’re doing, Mary?” Liz bellowed, pounding the table and sending the pumpkin pie skyward. “You’re upsetting Daddy! – you and your ‘spouse,’ who’s actually not a spouse in 35 states! You think you’re so smart, haven’t you heard of state’s rights? Or is that not part of your agenda?”

“Hey, take it easy over there!” Heather yowled. “I spent hours making that pumpkin pie, but if it’s too gay for you, then don’t eat it. And if you don’t think that ‘freedom’ means freedom for everyone – as your own dad has said – then spare us any more of your political lectures!”

“I love you both so very, very much, but how about I take this drumstick and knock some sense into the two of youze?” Liz said, brandishing a leg. “Look, I’ve got a tough primary in Wyoming next year. If I can’t win over the conservative base, I’ll have moved out there for nothing. In the spirit of family values, Mary, why won’t you support your own sister?”

“Oh, now I get it, Heather and I are supposed to be roadkill for your ambition – just red meat for the bigots to chew on. Speaking of meat, gimmee that turkey platter. That hunk of breast is going right in your face!”

“Oh yeah? Well, maybe I’ll take this gravy and splash it all over your lesbo blouse!”

“Just as well, because I saw you spit in the tureen!”

“Did not!”

“Did too! I got it on my phone, and it’s going on Facebook!”

“Daddy,” Liz cried, “tell Mary she’s wrong! Hey wait – Daddy, what are you doing? Put your dish down! Where are you going?!”

“To get peace and quiet. In my secret undisclosed location.”

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Dick Polman

Dick PolmanCited by the Columbia Journalism Review as one of the nation's top political reporters, and lauded by the ABC News political website as "one of the finest political journalists of his generation," Dick Polman is a national political columnist at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Dick has been a frequent guest on C-Span, MSNBC, CNN, NPR and the BBC. He covered the 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004 presidential campaigns. In his 22 years at the Inquirer, he has also been a foreign correspondent based in London; a baseball writer covering the Philadelphia Phillies; a general-assignment writer in the feature section; and a longtime Sunday magazine contributor.

In the early '80s, he wrote three metro columns a week for the Hartford Courant. A graduate of George Washington University, today Dick is on the full-time faculty at the University of Pennsylvania, as "writer in residence."

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Alison Rosen: Obsessed With Candy Crush

candy-crushI should probably delete “Candy Crush” from my phone. I’m not going to, but I probably should. Here’s why:

The other day while having a conversation with my sister, I found myself wishing I could reach across the space between us, place my index finger on her left eye, my thumb on her right eye and squish them together until they exploded and disappeared. Sadly this isn’t even a move in “Candy Crush,” though it’s similar to one, but for it to really work her eyes would have to be made of candy and she would need to have at least three. I also long to group trees, cars and buildings into groups of three — or, be still my heart, groups of four — and slam them together to make them disappear.

It’s not that I’m destructive, mind you. It’s that I’m obsessed.

For the uninitiated, “Candy Crush” — or “Candy Crush Saga,” its full name — is a super popular game that refers to itself as “an addictive and delicious puzzle adventure.” It’s made by King.com, a British company that’s currently the top supplier of games to Facebook and Apple (they passed Zynga, maker of “Words with Friends” and other popular games, in June) and worth somewhere between 5 billion and 7 billion dollars.

I’m not really a big video game or puzzle person. In fact, I can think of nothing more deadly boring than a big jigsaw puzzle spread out in a zillion pieces on an empty table. To me, jigsaw puzzles have always been something you do to pass the time when you have absolutely zero better options. I can imagine someone saying: “You guys go ahead to prom. I’ll just stay here and work on this thousand-piece puzzle of a kitten.

“No, you guys go ahead to the amusement park. I’m under house arrest and the electricity has gone out, so I’m going to drink cold Postum and work on this 2000-piece jigsaw puzzle of a dandelion.

“Hot air ballooning? I couldn’t possibly go hot air ballooning with you. I am paralyzed from the waist down and have contracted scabies, so I’m just going to stay home, break in these new pajamas, scratch myself and put the finishing touches on this 3000-piece puzzle of, get this, a hot air balloon!”

In terms of time wasters, I’m more of an ’80s sitcom and mess-around-on-Twitter person. Sometimes I’ll spend an hour or two looking for something I’ve misplaced — but somewhere in between hearing my fiance talk to my mom about how much money the makers of “Candy Crush” had raked in and how he refuses to download the app because he’s convinced it’s somehow so persuasive it convinces otherwise sensible people to part with tons of money to keep playing, I decided I would take that challenge. It’s sort of the online equivalent of being compelled to take a drug after watching an after school special.

Thus far I haven’t fallen into financial ruin or sold an organ on the black market to keep playing. The only negative consequence of allowing “Candy Crush” into my life — I mean, other than wanting to squish my sister’s eyes — is that it’s functioning like a gateway drug, and I need something stronger. Candy is dandy but strip clubs and murder might be more my speed. Do I dare dip a toe into the world of “Grand Theft Auto V“? My coworkers have discussed looking at their calendars and making sure they didn’t have anything they really needed to get done before purchasing the game. Unfortunately, once again, I see this as a challenge. Other than a ton of work and planning a wedding, I think I’m wide open!

So, talk to you in a few months?

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Alison Rosen, Creators Syndicate

Alison Rosen, Creators SyndicateAs "newsgirl" and cohost of the “Adam Carolla Show” -- the world's most downloaded podcast with a Guinness record to prove it -- and host of the “Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend” podcast, Alison Rosen reaches over two million listeners weekly.

Alison was an early adopter to new media, building a loyal following through her blogs and videos, social media and interactive Ustream show for which she was dubbed, "The future of television," by former AOL CEO Barry Schuler.

Alison's roots are in traditional media, having written for Rolling Stone, The NY Post, Vibe Spin, Maxim, The Village Voice, People, Seventeen and Elle, among others. She started her career as a journalist early, writing for the Los Angeles Times while still in high school. She went on to work at the OC Weekly in Orange County as a music writer and then as Features Editor (while playing guitar in a punk band) before moving to New York and helming the “Hot Seat” section of Time Out New York, where she worked from 2005 to 2008.

Alison has also carved a niche for herself as a pretty, witty and slightly devilish TV personality, appearing regularly on morning news shows in New York and on the late-night gab-fest “Red Eye” on Fox News Channel. She pops up all over the dial, most recently on E!

In late 2008, she performed stand up at Gotham Comedy Club and won the title “New York’s Funniest Reporter.”

Since January 2011, she has been Adam Carolla’s news girl and cohost and in early 2012, Alison’s launched her own podcast, “Alison Rosen is Your New Best Friend,” to which her massive fanbase quickly followed. Alison currently resides in Los Angeles and always gets lost, even though she has GPS.

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My Own Personal Shutdown

congressUsually Washington’s ineptitude enthusiastically inspires me to post glib and uninformed political opinions on social networking sites to better alienate myself from family and perceived friends. But for once our government’s incompetence has actually served to inspire me to evoke hope and change within myself to better this country.

I am of course glibly referring to our federal government’s current impotence, dereliction of duty and apathetic attitude toward winning the hearts and minds of millions.

“Er, uh, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country and do for you, er, uh, ask what you can, er, uh, do for your country.”

Sorry, that’s the best John F. Kennedy impersonation I can do. I’m almost positive it doesn’t translate very well through the written word. I guess it’s one of those “you had to be there” sorts of things.

Given light of the recent shenanigans — yes, it technically qualifies as shenanigans, I’ve even consulted a dictionary to make sure — I feel Mr. Kennedy’s historic quote requires a much-needed tweaking. Maybe something along the lines of: Ask not what your country can do for you, but what your country can do for you by refusing to do their job.

Inspired by these recent bureaucratic events I have made a decision. Effective immediately, I am shutting down. Shutting down, like, completely.

Exactly like the federal government.

Normally both vilified political parties in Washington endorse the dependent behaviors of the masses, but here they are quite literally leading by example, and what a fine example they are setting. Both parties are guilty of ironically misunderstanding the sole definition of the word democracy in ways much too serious to describe within this newsprint.

The Will E Sanders Shutdown, or WESS for short, went into effect last midnight in an announcement I made to nobody in particular. Goodbye actual job and personal responsibility. Hello canned, faux Italian pastas and healthy doses of drama-filled daytime television.

Until this shut down is lifted I am going to neglect every personal obligation I have in my life. First to be suspended will be the nasty task of, much like Congress, actually paying my own bills, even taxes. So I threw all of my bills in the trash, which I will refuse to take out under the labor provisions outlined in WESS. (See page 583.)

Yes, the actual WESS bill that I passed is quite voluminous and chalk full of weird and unnecessary provisions. Strange things like intentionally taking an hour to cook minute rice, preparing meals for my cats and eating their dry food instead, and handing out last year’s leftover Halloween candy this year for Halloween.

In addition, I will be undergoing more relaxed opinions regarding hygiene, showering, properly dressing myself and sometimes secretly using the sink as a toilet until my own personal shut down is terminated. Household chores are simply out of the question. My grass can grow until next spring for all I care.

Under this personal shut down I will not allow my wife the option of choosing which shows on television to watch. I will choose for her. I am a man and she is a woman. Heredity demands that I tell others what is best for them and knowing what is best for others — just like how it is in Washington.

Plus, I will fall back on a false sense of pride, misguided philosophy and an undeserved arrogance. I will spend the entire day sitting cross-legged in the corner sucking my thumb like a temperamental child throwing a temper tantrum at Toys R Us.

Until the cable company shuts off my Internet for non-payment I will espouse my judgmental and misinformed political opinions on Facebook and Twitter. I will post links to New York Times articles that I’ve only read the first three paragraphs of in a hollow attempt to validate my low self-worth and faltering intelligence.

So if you need me, I’ll be sleeping on the couch until this thing blows over.

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Will E Sanders, Creators Syndicate

Will E Sanders, Creators Syndicate If he were to die today, the obituary would read: After receiving a solid C in high-school English with no college ambitions, Will E (no period) Sanders embarked in his father’s footsteps and worked at a factory in 1998.

After three months of hard labor, college sounded like heaven. Sanders then attended Bowling Green State University, where he attempted to quit smoking seven times, committed petty drunken crimes, worked at the campus newspaper covering petty drunken crimes (sometimes his own), and in his spare time managed to obtain a double degree in journalism and binge drinking in 2002.

A week later, Sanders was hired as a news reporter with a small Ohio newspaper. Since that time, he has received more than 25 Associated Press awards. In the fall of 2004, Sanders began documenting his ridiculous adventures and outrageous observations in a weekly humor column, called “The Usual Eccentric,” which quickly gained an impressive fan base of his mother.

After his wife ended their marriage over the telephone, Sanders, 30, then attempted to get his humor column syndicated to earn spending money for video games, “Dungeons and Dragons” books and his mortgage.

A professional 30-something slacker, Sanders resided in his childhood village of Laura, Ohio, with 600 other crazy people — including his clannish family members, who all live within a two-block radius.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a charity that directly benefits Sanders. Condolences may be expressed to nobody in particular.

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Oak Ridge Football Booster Club Banquet Scheduled for January 17

The Oak Ridge Football Booster Club’s annual Football Banquet is scheduled for January 17, and this year will feature Gerald Irons as the guest speaker.  Mr. Irons served on the Conroe ISD Board of Trustees for over 20 years, and prior to that spent 10 years in the NFL, playing for the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders.

The Booster Club supports the War Eagle football program where district funds and capabilities fall short.  Through spirit fees, concession and apparel sales, and various fund raisers they are able to provide financial support to enhance Oak Ridge football player experience and improve safety. They have spent $15k already on new equipment for the boys, including 50 sets of shoulder pads, 39 helmets, and two neck machines designed to reduce concussions.

This year the club has incorporated a President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer into the organizational structure, with the hope that the additional leadership positions will encourage additional volunteerism and enhance the club’s fund raising abilities. They have also created additional committee positions to promote club functions and events. The club is a volunteer organization whose success depends on volunteer efforts by the athletes’ parents, and in rallying community participation. They maintain both a website and a Facebook presence where additional information can be found.

The booster club’s annual golf tournament is scheduled for May 17, and they are excited to announce the first annual ”Side by Side” utility raffle that will allow the coaches the use of a utility vehicle throughout the season. That utility vehicle will then be raffled off at the conclusion of the football season.  The club is currently seeking local businesses to partner “side by side” to help in  supplying the utility vehicle for this fund raiser.  Anyone interested in helping should contact Stuart Norton or Billy Lowe.

Tickets for the annual banquet are $15 and a ticket will be required to attend.  Tickets can be purchased in the athletic office. The banquet will start at 6:30 PM on January 17 and will be held in the ORHS cafeteria.


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Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now

Chuck Briese, Oak Ridge Now Chuck Briese has been a resident of South Montgomery County since 1988. He and his lovely and patient wife, Leslie, have six sons, with only one left to finish high school. Chuck has been a Cub Scout leader, a Little League baseball coach, a church youth leader, and a general troublemaker over the course of the past 25 years. He is obsessed with his lawn, and likes restaurants that serve food that fills up the plate. He has a tendency to tilt at windmills, which may explain why he started Oak Ridge Now.

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Bill O’Reilly: Teenage Werewolves

Michael Landon in "I was a Teenage Werewolf", 1957

Back in the 1950s, “Little Joe Cartwright” starred in a movie called “I Was a Teenage Werewolf.” That’s right, after seeing a full moon, Michael Landon ran around a public high school foaming at the mouth and pretty much out of control. Since there was little difference between his behavior and that of the normal students, he got away with it for two semesters.

As I watched the film, I remember thinking that it was going to be tough for Landon to get into college with that on his resume. But then the 1960s happened, so that was that.

This brings me to the present. My life these days is largely confronting political and social madness on television and then going home to deal with teenage drama from an almost-14-year-old girl. I vaguely remember being 14, because I was ensconced in a Catholic high school that gave out homework assignments like they were M&M’s. Believe me, I had plenty of angst. But nobody paid much attention to it.

Like today, many teenagers back then brooded full time. Check out James Dean, an outstandingly cloudy guy. But now teens have two things that embolden their disenchantment: the Internet and permissive parents.

Earlier this week, I was encouraging my urchins to speed it up because the bus was coming.

“I can’t go faster ’cause you’re staring at me,” the teen wailed.

“I’m not staring at you. I just came into the room.”

“But I can see you!”

You get the idea. My daughter also did not want to wear anything that covered her legs — even though it was 39 degrees outside. She wanted to wear shorts. At that point, I started wishing she’d turn into a werewolf. At least the fur would keep her warm.

But it is the Internet that is truly changing the teenage dynamic in America.

It used to be that teenagers would hang out together and swap stories of woe. I remember seeing Billy Joel and his crew at stores on Levittown Parkway. They were just slouching around the same as my guys were. Just being with other teenagers was comforting, but we actually had to leave our houses to do that. Now, teens can gang-brood from their rooms on the Net.

Because nearly every awful occurrence is highlighted on various Facebook pages, teenagers now find it easier to justify their own craziness. “How can you criticize me for getting a C when Shelley got all F’s and crashed her dad’s car?” That kind of thing.

Nothing is private anymore. Teenagers are subjected to (and some participate in) incredibly destructive behavior online.

And parents have few options. Even if you ban home computers, handheld devices are all over the place. You’d have to put a full-time bodyguard on the child in order to provide complete protection.

In the end, all parents can do is try their best to impose a sense of responsibility on their kids. But don’t expect any appreciation, and be watchful at all times. Kids today are growing up at warp speed; the machines march them into adulthood way before they’re ready.

Even with fangs, Landon had it easier.

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Bill O'Reilly, Creators Syndicate

Bill O'Reilly, Creators SyndicateVeteran TV news anchor Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show "The O'Reilly Factor" and author of many books, including the newly released "Killing Jesus." . This column originates on the website www.billoreilly.com.

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Vice Turkey: Pardoned or Fried to a Golden and Delicious Crisp?

Former Vice President John Nance Garner famously described the vice presidency as “not worth a bucket of warm piss.” If Garner thought his vice presidency was bad, he should have tried being vice turkey.

Every year, a pardoned turkey-select is chosen at birth for official presidential pardoning at the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation. But did you know that a vice turkey also is chosen? He is put through the same rigorous training, preparing him for the Thanksgiving noise, lights and crowds if the pardoned turkey-select should die before the big day. But the vice turkey likely will never get to experience his 15 minutes of fame. And adding insult to injury, most Americans don’t even know the vice turkey exists, waiting in the wings to serve his country.

The vice turkey is an American public servant, but is he given a hero’s welcome? I should say not. It’s great to be the wingman and all, but no one knew the name of that guy who helped Tom Cruise get the chick in “Top Gun” until he showed up as Dr. Greene on “ER.” And the vice turkey isn’t likely to get a resurgence of his career starring across George Clooney any time soon. Even as the vice turkey’s mother brags about her son at the feather salon and feeding station, the other hens just stick their beaks up at her and cluck insults behind her back. What kind of turkey wants to be vice turkey when he grows up anyhow? At least being sold to Butterball is respectable!

As Thanksgiving grows near, the vice turkey grows weary of his life and title. It’s hard to hold up that patriotic red, white and blue head when you’re ignored by the country you love. Sure, the health insurance benefits are good, but the hours are fowl. And why should he have to endure this humiliation and overstimulation? He isn’t going to be the one who gets to stand in front of adoring crowds. The president won’t tickle his wattle.

The vice turkey contemplates telling the job to get stuffed. He’s seen “Chicken Run.” He knows how to fly the coop. Oh, yes, he considers running to Canada to become a draft dodger. But the vice turkey is a turkey of great moral character, and year after year, he decides to serve his country, either in the shadows or next to the cranberry sauce.

The day of the actual pardoning is anxiety-inducing for the vice turkey. There is both the hope and fear he will be called to the stage, and of course, there’s the risk he will be eaten. History shows that the vice turkey will leave Washington without being brined, baked or fried, but unlike the fate of the pardoned turkey, there is simply no guarantee. A 40-pound turkey has enough heart problems as is! With the added stress, it’s a wonder the vice turkey doesn’t kick the bucket (filled with the proverbial warm piss) right on the spot.

After Thanksgiving, the pardoned turkey and, feathers crossed, the vice turkey retire together to live out the rest of their days. But the belittling job of the vice turkey never is done. Whether the turkeys are sent to Disney to act as honorary grand marshal in the Thanksgiving Day parade or Mount Vernon to be part of the tour, it is still the pardoned turkey that gets to gobble up all the attention.

This year, we began to rectify the decades of damage done to the vice turkey, by not having the official title bestowed upon him until the day before the National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation. The two selected turkeys were given the same upbringing and respect until a Facebook competition to collect the highest number of “likes” determined their fate. Cobbler may have gotten the honor of becoming the 2012 pardoned turkey, but Gobbler still got his 15 minutes of fame. It may be a paltry consolation for the wronged poultry, but it’s a start. And I believe we addressed this issue just in the nick of time. God forbid there be a repeat of Turkey-gate 2008, when President Bush had to pardon the vice turkey after the pardoned turkey-select fell mysteriously ill from food poisoning the night before.

If you ask me, the vice turkey did it.

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Katiedid Langrock, Creators Syndicate

Katiedid Langrock has worked as an assistant adventure tour guide in the Australian outback, as a creator of gag gifts, in nearly every job in television production, and as a baby sitter. She is happy to say that only once has she lost a kid. Langrock also has a black belt in karate, a fear of fuzzy fruit, spent a cumulative two years backpacking around the world, and suffered from five concussions. Or was it six? After graduating from prestigious Miami University with a bachelor's degree in creative writing, Langrock’s first job was writing dirty key chains and bumper stickers, many of which you still can find on a beat-up pickup truck in a sketchy parking lot near you! Langrock now lives in Los Angeles, pursuing her dream of writing for television. She has written for PBS, has had a successful one-woman show and keeps steady work as a script consultant. Her television scripts have been met with a lot of interest, garnering her meetings with top execs in Hollywood. She currently is working on her sex appeal to turn those meetings into sales. Please send sexy tips to katiedid.langrock@gmail.com. Langrock lives with her main squeeze and a bunny named Pig. They, too, would appreciate any sexy tips that might get Langrock out of the red Miami University hoodie that has become such a part of her existence that she has stepped into the shower while still wearing it -- many, many times.

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