Sunday, September 30, 2007

Woman dies at airport jail

This is something that could have just as easily happened to you or a member of your family - not just at an airport holding cell, but in any other situation where there's no oversight over the authorities.

Last week, a 45-year-old woman was arrested at Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport after a conflict with the airline. (As is usual in the corporate world, the airline blew the woman's behavior out of proportion.) After police took the woman to a holding cell, she was found dead.

But you're not gonna believe this: Authorities are trying to shift blame onto the woman, saying she may have choked herself trying to break out of the handcuffs.

I don't buy that. How can a person choke themselves while trying to break out of handcuffs? And if they could, why didn't the cops stop the woman from trying to get out of the cuffs?

Like I said, the way things are today, you could be next - and that's why I'm writing about this incident.


Canada threatens to copy failed War on Drugs

Tell me if this doesn't have Bush's crap-caked fingerprints all over it.

Over in Canada, officials for Prime Minister Stephen Harper of the Conservative Party are threatening to mimic the failed anti-drug policies that have long ravaged the U.S. and A. (In addition, Harper is a climate change skeptic, but that's another matter entirely.) Harper's Health Minister Tony Clement declared that "the party's over" for illegal drug users. Conservatives also scuttled a popular bill that would have softened marijuana laws. As a result of the Harper administration's meddling, the number of people arrested for smoking pot has suddenly soared.

"The party's over"??? Didn't Mad Dog (the elder Bush) use these exact words regarding illicit drug users when he took power?

It's pretty clear the current Bush regime has some influence in Canada's latest crackdown. The U.S. government has long had a system of classifying and certifying other countries based on how willing they are to go along with the War on Drugs. Every so often, you hear of some move in Washington to decertify another country because it won't erect a gallows for every pot smoker. I know Congress in the '90s threatened to decertify Colombia because Colombia's Supreme Court legalized marijuana possession.

It looks like that North American Union (our continent's equivalent to the EU) that Bush supports is closer than we think, if Bush and Harper can coordinate failed laws together.

If Harper wants to waste Canadian taxpayers' money on this prohibition horseshit that doesn't work, then probably the only party that's going to be over is the Conservative Party. Harper's crackdown is really an old, stale, headline-grabbing blowhard gimmick that harms the public.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Rick Santorum's new job

Remember Rick Sanitarium? He was the religious militant who served as a GOPee senator from Pennsylvania until losing reelection last year:

Santorum lost the election with the biggest margin of defeat for an incumbent U.S. senator in 26 years. Pretty funny, huh?

Well, lately I've noticed that ol' Frothy happens to look just like the guy in the hamburger costume in the Burger King commercials:

(Picture removed)

Ha ha, Frothy, you big loser!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Conservative photo hoax madness

Two or three years ago, the wingnutosphere was at the top of its game, but now it's simply miserable.

The conservative noise machine claimed this week that a banner displayed by an antiwar organization said, "We support the murder of the American troops." Naturally, however, the whole story turned out to be a hoax. The photo showing the banner was a bad photoshop job from a year ago. Nonetheless, a right-wing blog commenter (who is reportedly a member of an organization that beats up parents of fallen soldiers who oppose the war) claims to have seen the banner firsthand - despite the fact that the banner never existed.

Also this week, David Horowitz - of FrontPage infamy, not the 'Fight Back!' guy - made a fool of himself in a similar fashion. Horowitz has invented something he calls "Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week." To promote it, he distributed a photo that he claims is of a teenage girl being buried before being stoned to death in Iran. But this photo also turned out to be not what was claimed. The picture was actually of an actress in a 1994 Dutch indie film - not a real stoning.

I know Iran ain't exactly a human rights giant, but hey, if you're gonna post a photo from an indie film made in Holland 13 years ago, why tell people it's a new photo from Iran? That's just about the dumbest thing I've ever heard of. But then again, David Horriblewitz wasn't exactly known for being the most trustworthy guy around.

So just in the past week there's been at least 2 cases of the wingnutosphere distributing photos that they knew weren't real - and getting caught almost immediately. They never learn, do they?

This is just like the time during the invasion of Iraq when the Bush regime took over Iraqi TV and made those ridiculous propaganda broadcasts. The broadcasts purported to be Saddam Hussein telling Iraqis to surrender, but all they consisted of was a photo of Saddam torn from a newspaper, with his lower jaw being crudely moved up and down like in a cartoon. Furthermore, what was claimed to be Saddam's voice was just someone speaking English in a heavy accent. Because most Iraqis didn't speak English, the message's intended audience couldn't even understand it anyway! The only difference between this incident and this week's photo hoaxes is that the U.S. government actually wasted taxpayers' money on this shit!


Give a hoot! Find a candidate!

The website of WQAD-TV in Davenport, Iowa, hath provided this handy-dandy survey that lets you figure out which presidential candidate is closest to your views:

I took this survey and discovered that Dennis Kucinich is closest to my views, while Mike Fuckapee ranks at the very bottom. Does that pib or what?

If Kucinich isn't the Democratic nominee, can he at least get a Cabinet position? Or is the DLC dead wood gonna have its way again?

Hurricane survivors lose homes to tough luck approach

It's hard to believe that 2 years after the hurricane that hit the New Orleans area that there's still people living in makeshift trailers because there's still no permanent housing for them (despite the government's promise to help them find that). But these improvised homes are the only homes they have now - and now they're being taken away anyway.

States, counties, and cities along the Gulf Coast are now decreeing that these trailers must close and that the 70,000 families who live there have to leave. Matthew Avara, Republicon (sic) mayor of Pascagoula, Mississippi, boasts, "It's an act of tough love." No it isn't, Matthew. It's a tough luck approach, not a tough love approach. If you love the people, you don't take their homes away without warning when they have nowhere else to go.

Haven't hurricane survivors been through enough already (much of it at the hands of the government)? It's like the state and local governments are actually trying to make life rougher than it already is. I'm sure that's the case, because I've known for years that's been the main goal of the Far Right. "Tough love" is a conservative code phrase for soaking the poor. (They used it in the welfare "reform" debacle too.)

Residents of the trailers have to demonstrate progress in rebuilding or get rid of the trailers - but they can't show any progress because they still haven't received money that was promised to them by insurers and the government. Furthermore, the local governments' actions are an illegal government taking. Folks had been issued these trailers and had been authorized to use them. Besides, some of them are on the property where their houses once stood! Are the cities saying you can't even live on your own property now?

That's the type of thing the so-called property rights movement should be focusing on. Not wealthy beachfront property owners on Lake Huron who expect the government to give them their own beach for free.

The nationwide housing shortage has hit the Gulf Coast especially hard, so that makes things even tougher for those who survived the hurricane.

What's really miserable are the excuses used by officials in a futile attempt to justify closing the trailers. They accuse the trailers and their inhabitants of bringing crime, hampering recovery efforts, and creating an unsafe situation in bad weather. But almost nobody's dumb enough to believe this bullshit, and even fewer actually believe that kicking people out of their trailers and into the streets reduces crime or makes them safer from the weather.

Exurbia speaks (rather, screams until it gets its way) again.

Also, a note to news organizations: It's not proper protocol to copy each other's articles almost verbatim. That means you, Sun Myung Moon's UPI.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Pedestrian alcohol tests struck down

A practice that's so profoundly absurd that we couldn't believe it was actually going on has now been struck down as the liberty destroyer it is.

Believe it or not, Michigan had a law that let police stop pedestrians under 21 and make them take breathalyzer tests to check for "under-age" drinking. Mind you, these were not motorists, and the cops weren't checking for drunken drivers. These were pedestrians. And they were checking 20-year-olds, not kids.

But now a federal judge has quite properly put the kibosh on that, saying police can't make pedestrians take a breathalyzer test without first obtaining a search warrant. It's that not-so-little thing called the Fourth Amendment, y'know.

I still think they ought to lower the drinking age. If you're old enough to die in one of Bush's wars, then certainly you're old enough to drink. I know nowadays it's taboo to express this opinion (thanks to all the whiny exurban soccer parents who are against free speech), but that's my belief and I'm stickin' to it.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Idiot Act continues to crumble

Man, this is great!

When the Patriot Act passed, we wanted it gone. But since we didn't get to see it struck down all at once, we'll settle for watching it die a long, slow, agonizing death.

Today, 2 more provisions of the Idiot Act were ruled unconstitutional by a federal court. These provisions let the government issue search warrants without probable cause - but have now been struck down in a case filed by an Oregon attorney who the government falsely accused of being involved in the Madrid train bombings.

Watching the Idiot Act's slow demise is kind of like the hilarious results of the 2006 election being slowed down to fill several months. What a joy!


Big yellow taxi

Because the previous entry got too long, I'm devoting a separate entry to my own experiences with anti-bicycle violence.

The problem is far worse in the suburbs than in the cities (of course), and I never had this problem until 2001 - like so many other problems that only began in 2001. (Ahem.) Usually they follow a pattern of a near-miss caused by an idiot in an oversized vehicle talking on a cell phone, who after almost causing a wreck flaps their arms like it was my fault. But at least thrice, it was clearly malice from the very beginning.

9/4/01: The first and most serious incident happened when I was run off the road by a white SUV and strained my knee. This was clearly a deliberate act.

If the system was as zealous in going after who did this as they are in going after victimless crimes, they'd stop every SUV of that type and interrogate each driver until they found the assailant. Seriously. They would. I almost had to take a polygraph in 6th grade when some twerp wrote "FUCK" on the chalkboard in math class, and the dust from the chalk to write it was far less of a contributor to climate change than even one SUV is. If I could be dragged out of class over something like that, then why can't they stop every SUV in the area that looked like the one that hit me until an arrest could be made?

9/12/03: I was run off the road by a van for a local business. This episode was overshadowed, being in the fascism wave that dominated the middle of this decade and all. I got the license plate number (which was later lost), but naturally nothing was ever done about it by the authorities.

The third incident (the only one of the 3 that was in a city area) was just this past Saturday. After Ploptoberfest, I got off the Taylor-Southgate Bridge in Newport, Kentucky, and bipped onto 3rd Street. A taxi roared up behind me and screeched to a halt just a couple feet before hitting me on my bike. This too was an intentional, malicious act. At night, 3rd Street swarms with taxis - which are already allowed to break the law by having a current license plate on the back and an older plate on the front, or plates from both Kentucky and Ohio. (Both of these practices are illegal.) The glut of big yellow taxis is because they (as the song says) paved paradise and put up a shopping complex hardly anyone goes to - so hardly anyone rides in the taxis either. (Around here, you hardly ever see taxis where you need them the most.)

I got the license plate number of the taxi that almost hit me, in case the authorities are interested. Which they're not, because if they were, they would have already gone after the taxis for the license plate violations. (If you're a regular car owner, try putting an outdated plate on the front of your car, or try using plates from 2 different states. See how many microseconds that lasts.)

In all 3 of these cases, aggravated vehicular assault was committed. Especially when it's such a mismatch as a bike versus an SUV, they need to start coming down hard on this crime. There ought to be stiff prison terms. If they can put people behind bars for buying more than 9 grams of cold medicine a month, then they can do the same with people who wield a weapon that weighs thousands of pounds.

Bus hits cyclist, but cyclist (and spouse) handcuffed

One of the big myths spread by the hateful meanies of today's suburban Establishment is that America's roads were designed strictly for cars. To them, anyone who can't afford a car or who wants to save gas isn't even mammalian. These days, if you don't have the biggest SUV, you get treated like shit.

However, bicyclists have a legal and moral right to almost all of the same roads as those hulking SUV's. If the road lacks a bike lane or similar amenity, bikes have a right - often a duty - to use the same traffic lanes as motorized vehicles. In fact, the United States Numbered Highways system was designed primarily for bikes. But in practice, this right is maliciously disrespected by government agencies. (See, they want people to drive. That's what happens when Big Oil runs the country.)

A recent event in L.A. shows just how little respect the city has for the laws that are supposed to protect bicyclists. A cyclist traveling on Hollywood Boulevard - on the far right of the right-hand lane - heard a horn behind him. The horn came from a city bus, which went on to actually hit the cyclist: The bus touched the cyclist's hand as it carelessly zipped by him. Because the left lane was empty, there was nothing to stop the bus from using the left lane instead. But nope. The bus just had to use the right lane so it could hit the cyclist, didn't it?

The bus continued, but the bike caught up with it at a bus stop. The cyclist (who wasn't seriously injured) politely informed the bus driver that she had created a dangerous situation. But the bus driver yelled, "You were in my way! You need to get off the road!" She then angrily slammed the bus window.

Then the bicyclist informed the bus driver he was calling the police to report her for assault with a deadly weapon. The deadly weapon of course was the bus. A piece of metal weighing several tons and traveling at 25 MPH is a weapon.

While the cyclist tried calling the cops, he got that "all operators are busy" horseshit that the phone companies were supposed to fix 25 years ago. So instead he called his wife and got her to summon the police to the scene. Through it all, the bus driver was still engaged in her tantrum at the bus stop. She then struck the cyclist with the bus again. There were witnesses to the incident. The cyclist dismounted from his bike. Then the bus backed up and roared towards the bike, pinning it under the bus's front bumper. The bus driver then began yelling at other bus drivers who went by in the left lane. An indignant passenger on the bus tried to incite fellow passengers to attack the cyclist. He got another passenger to help him yank the bike from under the bus and violently fling it onto the sidewalk. At some point, one of the bike's wheels became hopelessly bent.

Because of the bus driver's screeching skizzum, traffic backed up for blocks. Then the angry passenger jumped back off the bus, spit on the cyclist (which is battery), and ran away.

Finally, the LAPD showed up. The cyclist's wife arrived on the scene as well. The police car pulled up to the cyclist, and 2 officers leaped out. One of them yelled at the cyclist, "Hands behind your back!" The bicyclist's wife said, "Hey, he's the one who called you." Then one of the officers promptly shoved her into a wall and handcuffed her too.

The police proceeded to lecture the cyclist about interfering with traffic. Except it was the bus, not the cyclist, that was impeding traffic. A police sergeant and the supervisor of the bus system then arrived and berated him further. The cyclist stated he wanted to file assault charges against the bus driver, but the cops would have none of it. In fact, they told him to expect a ticket himself. The bus boss declared that drivers are supposed to honk at cyclists: "That's how they are trained to drive. They are told to honk at road hazards!"

This incident wasted 2½ hours of the police's and the cyclist's time.

The following day, the bicyclist called the bus agency to report what happened. Later he got an e-mail from an official there that completely contradicted what the bus supervisor had told him at the scene. According to the e-mail, "Bus operators are not told to honk at cyclists." In fact, the bus company's policy clearly states cyclists have the same right to use the roads as motorists and that if bus drivers pass cyclists they have to have a side clearance of 3 to 4½ feet.

The bus agency hired a driver who doesn't even know how to drive? The bus driver in this case clearly didn't follow the rules she was supposed to operate under. Also, anyone who gets even an ordinary driver's license is supposed to know bikes have the same rights to the road as cars. The driver's manual in probably all 50 states clearly states this. (Not like everyone heeds the laws, judging by the shitty driving you see from regular motorists in the Cincinnati suburbs.)

Basically what this boils down to is this: The system connives to keep bicycling down and to keep itself from trouble. If a bus doesn't obey the rules of the road and ends up plowing down a cyclist, the system considers this to be no loss.


Congress holds hearings on song lyrics

You can't make this stuff up, people.

An article from yesterday says a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee has opened hearings to investigate the lyrics of rap music. This article is from the same day as the story on the all-time high heating costs that loom for this upcoming winter.

Yes, you read that right. A committee on energy and commerce - instead of probing real energy-related issues like fuel costs - is probing song lyrics!

Yeah, that'll really solve the nation's energy crisis.

Why is any congressional committee investigating lyrics? I'm sure nobody has ever died from the lyrics they're investigating. Yet Congress allows the Iraq War - which has killed thousands - to continue unabated.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Heating costs set new record; government sits on ass

It's another record!

Wait a minute. I didn't mean the good kind of record.

Each year at this time, the same story always emerges: Americans will face record prices to heat their homes for the upcoming winter. This year is no different, as folks in the great big U.S. and A. are predicted to pay record costs for electricity, propane, and heating oil to keep warm over the looming months of gray skies and frigid weather.

The costs of natural gas and electricity are predicted to go up 5% and 7%, respectively. But the cost of heating oil is expected to bunk up 28%. Propane prices are supposed to go up a staggering 30%. All of these numbers are a much higher rate than household incomes are expected to go up - if they go up at all.

Congress promptly acted and announced a new - aw, you're not fooled by that, are you? Say, maybe if Congress wasn't so busy passing meaningless resolutions condemning MoveOn ads, it could do something about it. But nope. They consider it not worth their time (unlike all this anti-MoveOn bullshit).


Laws fight back against RFID fascism

RFID - which stands for radio frequency identification - is another tool of today's high-tech scoundrel. RFID is an identification method that stores data in a tiny tag and can transmit a radio signal that can be read from afar.

So it involves ID's and radio. We can't let the spittle crowd get a foot in the door here.

Though RFID may have a few positive uses, RFID has many uses that are so nefarious that we can't believe they've been allowed to go as far as they have. In an experimental program, right-wing retail and consumer product giants tracked buyers of products by secretly placing RFID readers on shelves to photograph purchasers and transmitting the images to corporate offices hundreds of miles away. Customers were not told they were being photographed.

An even more wrongteous use of RFID involves its forced transplanting in humans. This is something the dinosaur media seems to support, because when you see TV news reports about it, they always act like it's such a great breakthrough, as the whole news team smirks and grins about it. RFID tags can be transplanted under human skin. These tags look like miniature hemorrhoidal suppositories with a tiny soda bottle inside - which is fitting, because I think Corporate America needs to take RFID and shove it up its ass.

But there's good news. After a Cincinnati firm (which is now out of business) began requiring workers to get RFID tags implanted in their skin in order to access the data room, people finally took notice of RFID abuse. Wisconsin and North Dakota promptly passed laws to ban mandatory RFID chips in humans. These laws forbid businesses from making workers get an RFID chip. This month, the California legislature approved a bill to do the same. Employers there would face stiff fines for violating this act. The legislation would prohibit forced RFID tagging as a condition not only for employment but also for promotion or any other "employment benefit."

Naturally, the RFID racket opposes these new laws, accusing legislators of fearmongering. Judging by Big Business's torrid record on human rights, however, we know we have to be fearful of what companies do. Influence by the RFID industry caused right-wing lawmakers in Florida and Oklahoma to kill anti-RFID bills in their states. (A bill against forced RFID implanting is the type of thing you'd think nobody would be against, but some ideologue always is.)

The only maker of human-implantable RFID chips that has approval from the FDA is Applied Digital Solutions, which makes VeriChip. VeriChip won FDA approval several years ago, when ultraconservative vomit inducer Tommy Thompson was Bush's Secretary of Health of Human Services, a department that oversees the FDA. After Thompson left the HHS, Applied Digital Solutions appointed him to its board of directors.

The problems with RFID tagging don't stop at privacy violations, identity theft, and political corruption. Years before being approved by the FDA, RFID implants were shown to cause cancerous tumors in as many as 10% of cases.

Yet the Bush regime has the nerve to call antiwar activists terrorists.


Monday, September 24, 2007

Church wants apology over politically motivated probe

Now we know the armchair hawks don't have anything better to do with their wasted lives than sit around scouring all the major newspapers for signs of dissent.

A couple years ago, the government threatened All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, over a former rector's antiwar remarks that were made before the 2004 election. The IRS warned it might revoke the church's tax-exempt status because of the rector's antiwar views.

This threat was so clearly politically motivated that it was astonishing the government had the audacity to even issue it - and even more shocking that it actually carried out an investigation. IRS guidelines say that for churches to keep their tax-exempt status, they can't endorse candidates. But All Saints Episcopal Church didn't endorse a candidate. And this guideline is strictly an IRS matter, meaning only the IRS is authorized to investigate alleged violations. But in this case the Justice Department got involved as well.

And you know it's politically motivated, because look at all the wingnut Pat Robertson-type churches that have endorsed conservative candidates and causes, but which the IRS refuses to investigate, even after citizen complaints. The probe of All Saints wasn't even initiated by a citizen complaint but by government observers searching news articles for antiwar statements by ministers. Conservative churches have actually been telling worshipers how to vote, yet they don't get investigated, even though that runs afoul of the IRS rule. But more progressive churches get investigated even when they don't endorse candidates.

A letter from the IRS to the church stated that their "concerns" arose from an article in the Los Angeles Times that discussed the antiwar sermon. Our tax dollars are paying government workers to sit around and read newspapers until they find articles like this?

One 70-year-old congregant said of the government's probe, "I'm appalled." A tax attorney said he knew of 2 other churches that received similar letters for views that contradicted the Bush regime.

Last year, the IRS ordered All Saints to turn over all e-mails and documents that it possessed from the 2004 campaign that even referred to any political candidates. The church was also ordered to hand over all its utility bills. The church was warned that its case would be referred to Bush's alleged Justice Department if it did not comply - which was clearly an act of political intimidation. (As more proof of Bush's intolerance of dissent, the Bush regime also launched an IRS probe of the NAACP because its chairman, Julian Bond, dared to criticize Bush.)

Now All Saints wants an apology from the IRS over this politically motivated harassment. The IRS has ended its probe, after accusing the church of engaging in an illegal sermon. (An illegal sermon???) The church also wants the Treasury Department to investigate the Justice Department's involvement in the investigation. The IRS probe cost the congregation roughly $200,000 costly dollars.

In summary, a church actually got in trouble with Bush's Justice Department goons because a former rector said the Iraq War "has led to disaster." Those who still insist the United States isn't a dictatorship can kindly recline their mouths to a closed position now.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Department of Justice plotted against Edwards and Hillary Clinton

This ought to be a big story, but so far it's been swept under the rug by the dinosaur media.

Human rights attorney Scott Horton reports that the Bush regime's so-called Department of Justice hatched a vast right-wing plot back in 2001 or 2002. The Bush brain trust - which assumed that John Edwards or Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic presidential nominee in 2004 - identified potential backers of Edwards and Clinton. The Bush regime proposed raiding law offices of lawyers who backed the assumed Democratic ticket, seizing all politically oriented documents that they might possess, and using the documents to view the Democrats' campaign strategy.

From what I can gather, it looks like several of these rogue raids actually were carried out all over the U.S. and A. Apparently the attorneys who were raided didn't raise a stink about the involvement of John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales (both of whom were reported to be personally involved) because they didn't want to be intimidated further.

Whatever happened here, it's clear that major crimes were committed. (Big surprise, huh?) Not like we expect the right-wing media to get on the job in getting to the bottom of it.


Friday, September 21, 2007

GOP thug shoves reporter down steps

This incident shows what a bunch of sorryasses the Republicans have become.

Mike Flannery, a political editor for WBBM-TV in Chicago, has made a complaint with police after an aide to right-wing congressman Jerry Weller deliberately shoved him down a set of stairs. The event took place at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon in Joliet, Illinois, where the lawmaker announced his intent to not seek reelection. When Flannery asked Weller about his shady land deal in Nicaragua, an aide named John Dusik knocked Flannery down the steps, causing him to collide with a woman, who also ended up falling.

And yes, there's video of the entire altercation. So don't deny it, Rethugs.

Flannery said this is the first time in his 33-year career that he's ever had to file a police report. Dusik was later arrested over this attack. At the same event, Dusik also shoved a reporter for a local cable channel. So that's 2 assaults at one Weller event. Flannery said Dusik "went from being a zealous staffer to being a goon."

Weller's land deals have resulted in a watchdog group proclaiming him one of the most corrupt members of Congress.

Here's hoping John Dusik gets prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law! This sort of thuggery by the GOPstapo has gone on long enough.


Ploptoberfest looms

I detect something looming, don't you?

Why, it's Ploptoberfest - the Cincinnati version of Oktoberfest! I call this annual festival Ploptoberfest because people like to plop stuff - meaning they put stuff in toilets. The item most commonly plopped at Ploptoberfest seems to be piles of loopy religious tracts handed out by proselytizers who frequent the event, which are often plopped into the toilet bowls in the portable outhouses.

I've goed there every year for the past few years. Ploptoberfest in 2004 was a downright spectacle, because I managed to get in 2 separate fights within about 10 minutes of each other over politics. (Around that time, the spittle contingent was at their shrillest.)

Being the swell guy I am, I'm going to Ploptoberfest tomorrow, and I have an important family gathering scheduled for Sunday. So feel free to turn this entry into an open thread about this blog's populist goodness, in case I don't have time to post many entries this weekend.

Disgraced ministry wields DMCA against dissenters

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act is a tool of the modern-day scoundrel to bop people around with. The 1998 law is a rogue law, passed by a rogue Congress. As part of the post-1994 spittle wave, I deem it null and void (being the regular guy I am).

But that doesn't stop the silly assclowns of the Far Right from wielding the DMCA in an attempt to bludgeon all who dare to disagree with them.

Kent Hovind - who got an entry on the Conservative Fool Of The Day blog back in its heyday - is a right-wing Young Earth creationist minister who was so obsessed with the idea of dinosaurs coexisting with humans that he started a theme park based on this notion. (One of Hovind's funniest claims is his insistence that the Loch Ness Monster is a dinosaur.) Hovind also declared that he was going to renounce his American citizenship so he could avoid paying taxes. Now Hovind is serving 10 years in prison for tax evasion.

Hovind founded a ministry called Creation Science Evangelism, which is now run by his son, Eric Hovind. Now this group is sending out bogus, idiotic DMCA notices to YouPube trying to silence video clips it disagrees with.

The funny part is that anyone who sends out these notices must swear under penalty of perjury that they own the copyright on the material in question and that they actually believe the material is encroaching on their copyright. Now it turns out that this ministry had explicitly declined to copyright its own materials and actually encouraged people to distribute them. But not too long ago, they suddenly began claiming all these items were copyrighted.

So which is it?

Are they copyrighted or not? Or are the Hovinds just changing their minds to suit the purpose at hand? And if the Hovinds, like other conservatives, think the Newt is so great that the DMCA is a legitimate law, that means they have to be bound by the perjury part too, don't they?

Because they initially encouraged distribution of their materials, it's obvious they're using the DMCA just to silence opponents - not to stop a copyright infringement. So if the DMCA is legit like they think, that means they've committed perjury.

Maybe Congress can settle this shit once and for all by repealing the DMCA (like they're s'posed) so the Hovinds can't use it to bully people around in the first place.


Republicans allow land grab by power companies

This story that came to us over the summer shows just how tied to Coprorate (sic) America the GOPoo is.

New York's 2 senators - Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer, both Democrats - helped expose a federal land grab that was going on in their state. The land grab was made possible by a law passed by the Republican-controlled Congress in 2005 that allowed private property to be seized by the federal government and given to private electric companies to build power lines.

At issue here is a planned 200-mile stretch of electric towers 150 feet tall going through scenic sections of upstate New York. I visited the Adirondack Mountains in 2005, and I was assured that New York state law protects the Adirondacks forever. Until the sun expands and forces us earthlings to resettle on another planet, the Adirondacks were supposed to be forever free from further construction. Although the power lines aren't planned for the Adirondacks, it makes me wonder whether they're safe anymore from the Bush regime's meddling, stinking arm.

In effect, the new law legalizes what would otherwise be an illegal abuse of federal eminent domain powers.

Not only would it allow land to be taken from private citizens but it also encroaches on land protected as scenic. The new power line is supposed to go up the Catskill Mountains and along the Delaware River, which is supposed to be under federal protection as a wild and scenic river.

The planned power line is not a government project for public use but is being built by New York Regional Interconnection, a private for-profit company.

To add injury to insult, the Department of Energy opted to hold its meeting about the new law way over in Rochester, some 130 miles from the nearest point along the proposed power line. Schumer criticized this as "bizarre and unfair."

Then again, probably everything about the new law is bizarre and unfair. It smacks of power companies being allowed (ooh...) to do what they want just because they're bigger than everyone else.

And there's also the story of a 60-year-old woman in Georgia who was strip-searched by police because she disagreed with power company goons who tried to put a power line on her farm. The woman's lawyer pointed out that power companies want people's farmland without having to pay for it. The attorney said of the power companies, "If anybody gives them any lip, they'll put you in jail." Georgia laws (like those in many states) give unfair preferential treatment to private utility companies who want to seize land.

In the Georgia case, the power company had hired its own deputy from the sheriff's department to intimidate local residents. So the deputy was really serving the power company rather than the community.

Among major corporations, utility companies are some of the worst. (I'm allowed to say that because I worked for a phone company.) They're usually monopolies, yet there's not only almost no regulation of what they do, but they also get special privileges from the government to abuse eminent domain. Utility companies are like the villain in 'Elmo In Grouchland': If they see something, it's theirs. If they touch something, it's theirs. If they think about something, it's theirs.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Resolution supporter backs assassinating judges

Now that the day's business is over, it turns out the Senate's resolution to condemn MoveOn was sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). Cornyn, a right-wing nut who evaded the draft during the Vietnam War (even though he supported the war), is perhaps worst known for his statement in 2005 in which he condoned the assassination of federal judges who issue rulings he doesn't like.

People still listen to what this wingnut has to say?


Senate comes through for Bush regime in MoveOn flap

So the Democrats have come through for the liar Bush once more!

The Senate has just voted to condemn a perfectly reasonable ad placed by MoveOn that criticizes David Petraeus. All Republicans voted for the resolution (no surprise) - and half the so-called Democrats did too!

Nice to know the allegedly Democratic Senate has time to waste on shit like this instead of more important things like the war and the economy. Luckily, no Democrat in the Senate who's now running for President voted for this idiotic resolution, so hopefully if they get elected President they'll put their foot down against this DLC nonsense.

However, Daily Kos reports that the Senate rejected a resolution to condemn personal attacks against Max Cleland, a war hero and triple amputee.

So according to the DLC and the GOP, it's fine to issue false personal attacks against a war hero like Cleland but it's totally taboo to run an ad against Petraeus that's factual and fair. (During Cleland's Senate reelection bid, Nazi scumbag Karl Rove helped make a televised attack ad against Cleland that showed Cleland morphing into Osama bin Laden all because he disagreed with Bush.)

Now that it passed a resolution to condemn MoveOn, what will the Senate do next? Condemn us too? The Senate needs to condemn their own stupid faces.


Dan Rather sues pants off CBS

I'm sure Dan Rather ain't exactly hurting for money, but CBS ain't either. So what a joy it would be if Rather won every penny of the $70,000,000 lawsuit he's filing against the network. CBS so deserves to have to pay that amount.

The suit results from Rather being forced to step down as evening news anchor following the story about Bush's National Guard memos during the 2004 "election." From the get-go, Freepers tried to debunk this story using every silly meme they could think of. According to them, proportional fonts weren't invented yet in the '70s, typewriters with such fonts weren't invented yet in the '70s, the National Guard didn't have such typewriters, the font on the memos was too close to that of a modern word processor, Bush wasn't invented yet in the '70s, and so on and so on and Scooby-Dooby-Doo. Every one of these claims was shot down almost instantly. Every damn one of them. But the right-wing media engaged and comforted the Freepers in their tirades, leading to the myth that the memos themselves were discredited. This fable stuck in the minds of much of the general public as if it was fact.

The memos never were discredited. Many think they were. They weren't.

The legendary newsman says CBS and several executives violated his contract and "seriously damaged his reputation." The latter charge though may be weak: As was pointed out in The Last Word of 2/3/05, a Hear The Issues poll taken just after the Bush memo flap showed that Americans considered Dan Rather the most unbiased news anchor in America - while the despicable Brit Hume was considered the most biased.

Rather says CBS executives made him "a scapegoat" in an effort "to pacify the White House." Rather says the bigwig who oversaw his radio segment told him he was losing that position because of "pressure from 'the right wing.'" So that pretty much shows you where CBS stands, doesn't it? Rather also takes aim at CBS's appointment of Richard Thornburgh - Attorney General under Mad Dog Bush - as a panelist to review the disputed memo story.

Even though Rather wants $70,000,000 costly dollars, at least he has the gumption to stand up and be heard above the din of the right-wing noise machine. It may be a small price to expose how a bunch of Freak Rethuglic loudmouths can get away with shouting down the most trusted man in America and how right-wing pressure can ruin a legitimate news story. Hopefully there will be subpoenas against RNC insiders who were behind all this pressure.

Better yet, maybe the truth about the legitimacy of the National Guard memos and the preferential treatment Bush got will finally come out.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Another right-wing federal prosecutor under investigation

Rachel Paulose is the ultraconservative U.S. Attorney for Minnesota. Paulose has long held positions in the government and in private law practice. Several years ago she worked as an attorney for the Republicans in an election-related lawsuit. Her well-established partisan hackery earned her an appointment as an interim U.S. Attorney last year - under a provision of the Idiot Act that allowed Alberto Gonzales to singlehandedly appoint interim attorneys. (The previous U.S. Attorney for Minnesota had been effectively forced out of office in Bush's attorney firing scandal. The Bush regime objected to his refusal to stop Native Americans from voting.) Bush then appointed Paulose as the permanent U.S. Attorney for Minnesota. The corrupt Senate's confirmation of Paulose occurred with no hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Paulose's behavior on the job has been so frightening that several of her administrators resigned early this year. It was reported that Paulose berated her employees and constantly quoted Bible verses.

Paulose is also a member of the misnamed Federalist Society, an antidemocratic right-wing organization that also includes several Supreme Court Justices as well as miserable scumbags like California congressman Dan Lungren.

But now the Office of Special Counsel is investigating Paulose for an assortment of violations. It's been alleged that Paulose has mishandled classified information, fired the person who called it to her attention, retaliated against other workers, and made racist statements about an employee.

Oh well. Another day, another Bush crony who coasted through life is busted.

Also, Paulose had previously been working for the law firm that was defending United Health Group's CEO in a series of civil suits. The CEO was a big Republican contributor. Paulose's predecessor was looking into possible criminal charges against the CEO. But when Paulose was appointed as U.S. Attorney, she suddenly shifted the office's priorities off of that case.


Wheelchair-bound woman killed by taser

In Green Cove Springs, Florida, a 56-year-old wheelchair-bound woman died after police came to her home and tasered her 10 times. Now her family is taking the police to court. The police report says one of the officers fired the taser 9 times in just a bit more than 2½ minutes.

So this is how they treat someone who's in a wheelchair? What threat could the woman have possibly posed?

Several important points: Aren't tasers supposed to be nonlethal? And aren't tasers supposed to only be used as a substitute for other deadly force? How could a person in a wheelchair possibly pose enough of a threat to use any deadly force themselves (unless they had a gun, which the woman in this story didn't)? In other words, police aren't supposed to use tasers unless they would have otherwise used a gun.

The overuse of tasers is a certain case where the whole world looks a nail because all the system has is a hammer.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Republican prosecutor arrested in child sex sting

Keep your kids away from monsters like this.

John David Roy Atchison is an assistant U.S. attorney for northern Florida. Or at least he was. Now the 53-year-old prosecutor has been arrested for allegedly flying to Detroit to have sex with a 5-year-old girl. Atchison was arrested at Detroit Metropolitan Airport after being caught by this sting.

A 53-year-old man. A 5-year-old girl. That shows you what kind of sicko Atchison is.

The things Atchison reportedly said while trying to pick up the 5-year-old are enough to make anyone vomit. According to detectives, Atchison admitted to previous sexual activity with children: "I've done it plenty," he reportedly said.

So now he's facing up to 30 years in federal prison. And pedophiles like this don't survive long in federal prison.

Here's the part the dinosaur media forgot: Atchison is a Republican who works under U.S. Attorney Gregory Miller, a Bush appointee. Ironically, Miller liked to talk about how he apprehended pedophiles - yet he didn't apprehend the one who was right under his own nose.


Kerry condemns police riot

Good. This is part of what I was waiting for.

After the incident yesterday where an unarmed University of Florida student was attacked by police because he supported Bush's impeachment at a John Kerry speech, Kerry has condemned the arrest of the student. "In 37 years of public appearances, through wars, protests and highly emotional events, I have never had a dialogue end this way ... I asked the police to allow me to answer the question and was in the process of responding when he was taken into custody," Kerry declared.

Evidently, Kerry didn't even know the guy was tasered until after the event was over, because the cops opted to fight the student all the way up the ramp before the tasering. (Even in the close-up clips we've seen, the tasering itself isn't that clearly visible.) If I was in John Kerry's position, I would have screamed at the cops to back off (not just "asked" them) before they dragged the guy away - but on the other hand, it's a situation not every speaker would have handled the same way, especially because the police ambush happened so quickly that there was no time to think.

Now when are Bush and the Republicans gonna condemn all the Bushist thuggery at his events? (Hint: They won't.) And when is the Democratic Party (not just Kerry) going to condemn what happened at the Kerry event (to prove they're not merged at the feeding trough with the GOPoo)?

Also, ABC isn't exactly blameless either, because someone who asks a speaker questions during an allotted time frame is not a "heckler."


Black lung rates double under Bush

Black lung disease - a form of pneumoconiosis - is a dreaded affliction that affects coal miners. Over years, coal dust fills the miner's lungs, robs them of breathing function, and leads to a slow death.

After the 1969 Mine Safety and Health Act, great strides were made in battling black lung. But now the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health reports that this trend has suddenly been reversed, as the rate of black lung has doubled in the past 5 years. Miners who have 25 years of experience now have about a 9% chance of having black lung - a rate that is more than twice what it was.

The head of the United Mine Workers said there's likely a couple of factors in this new trend: For one, the law may not be stringent enough. For another, the Mine Safety and Health Administration isn't even bothering to enforce the standards. Under Bush, the MSHA is generally very lax in enforcing mine safety standards - contributing to recent mining disasters like the one in Sago, West Virginia, that killed 12. Rep. George Miller, a California Democrat, said the Bush regime has "stacked" the MSHA with "industry insiders" and that the MSHA has refused to fine mine owners who violate the law.

Of course Bush doesn't give a shit about miners or any other working people getting sick from their job.


Another out-of-control Bushist police incident

In BushAmerica, don't criticize Bush.

In fact, don't even criticize Bush's opponents for not doing enough about Bush. Because look what happened at the University of Florida when John Kerry came to speak there.

A 21-year-old student asked Kerry some tough but fair questions. For instance, why not contest the 2004 "election" Bush stole? And better yet, why has there been no move in Congress to impeach the embattled dictator?

Fair questions, don't you think? John Kerry even thought so, because you'd have to be a nut not to. But when the student asked these questions, all hell broke loose.

There's a video on YouPube that shows what happened, another video from WTVJ-TV in Miami, and yet another video at the Ocala Star-Banner website. The young man was reasonable and polite. In his questioning of Kerry, he cited a book by Greg Palast and said, "He says you won the 2004 'election.' Isn't that amazing?" Brief applause can be heard. Apparently somebody then heckled the questioner, causing him to ask the heckler to give him 2 minutes to speak.

By this point, police were already seen commiserating among themselves about how to handle the student. Around the time of the heckling, the female officer approached the questioner and tried to get him away from the microphone, but then returned to the back of the room. The young man then asked Kerry why he conceded the 2004 "election" so early. More applause can be heard.

At the end of the set of questions, Kerry then started answering him. By the time the answers began, however, it was clear where this was going. The student's questions were busting wide open the whole system of the 2 major parties being merged at the feeding trough. The questions threatened to expose all the arm-twisting that goes on in Washington.

That type of dissent against the Bush order is not tolerated. Right at the end of the questions, 2 cops ambushed the young man without warning. The officers grabbed him by the arms, and the male cop appeared to be trying to bite his arm. At least 2 other officers appeared, and the cops literally dragged the questioner out of the auditorium, brutalizing him throughout. (One account says there were 6 officers.)

From watching 3 different videos of the altercation started by the police, all of that is indisputable. Several other facts are also beyond dispute - most notably, that the group of police officers violently wrestled the student to the ground and tasered him. By that point, the melee had drifted upwards into what appeared to be some type of hallway with loose chairs, and it's unclear whether Kerry or most of the spectators at his speech could even see or hear what was going on, because this was so far from the stage. Several other people were clearly heard screaming.

The fact that the student is completely innocent of any wrongdoing is also perfectly clear. However, one of the male cops accused him of inciting a riot - which is a lie, because really it was the cops who incited a riot. (This happened right after the female officer apparently misquoted a Joe Raposo song.) Some folks who witnessed the incident then offered to testify in favor of the student.

The student was charged with resisting arrest and disturbing the peace - even though all 3 videos prove he's innocent of these charges too.

According to one report, John Kerry acknowledged the fairness of the questions, and there's no justification to blame Kerry if the police can't control their own Bushism. However, if the Democratic Party doesn't at least condemn the cops' illegal actions, then the party is part of the problem, and it just goes to show just how merged at the trough they are with the Republicans. We don't expect the Republicans to condemn similar violence at Bush events, because Bush thugs actually encourage it. (There's probably at least 30 stories like this from Bush rallies we haven't gotten to yet - and that doesn't count the ones we already have.)

I guarantee you I would have acted the same way the young man in these videos acted after being snared by the police - and the cops would face a lawsuit to boot.

Only a Bushist would support the police's attacks against a man for questioning why an allegedly Democratic Congress has surrendered to the swinging dick of the Republican Party.


Monday, September 17, 2007

A debunking of a debunking of a debunking

I like that word, don't you? De-bunk-ing! I guess if something is debunked, it had to have once been bunked. That must be the case here with the Freepers' Vietnam Memorial vandalism story.

Today the Washington Post has made a feeble attempt to debunk those who debunked the Freepers' original claim that the monument was vandalized. As I noted earlier, the National Park Service found that the "vandalism" was actually an accident by the cleaning staff. Fortunately, the cleanser streaks can be cleaned off, but it will take a week.

The Pest has had a reputation as a respectable paper, but now they're often as bad as the dreadful Washington Slimes. Last year, the paper set up a right-wing blog run by an ultraconservative hack named Ben Domenech who had posted racist material and set up phony accounts to agree with himself on his own blog. Although the Post had a conservative blog, it offered no liberal blog.

The Post's latest article about the war memorial story was being touted in the comments section of our blog by a hostile party who I'm pretty sure is the same weirdo who keeps making a big issue of it on Freak Rethuglic.

I can find several new inconsistencies in the latest conservative version of the Vietnam Memorial story. The Washington Post - which has generally ignored the NPS's findings that the incident was a cleaning accident - reports that a U.S. Park Police detective calls the incident vandalism. This is clearly misleading, because the detective - who is not identified - could have their own agenda, as has been already pointed out by at least one commenter on this blog.

It's also been pointed out that the Park Police aren't responsible for cleaning the monument; the National Park Service's cleaning crews are. If you visit the Vietnam Memorial, you might see cops patrolling the area, but they're not the ones cleaning it - despite what the Freepers claimed. Police investigate stuff. If one detective's belief disagrees with the conclusion that was already made by the National Park Service, that's not conclusive. The Park Police say the investigation is still ongoing, so even they haven't reached any solid conclusions yet - which the NPS has.

But there's a whole other possibility we haven't seen put forth yet. It could be the NPS was wrong, and the Park Police was right. Do any of the articles say who reported the damage? I'll have to reread them, but some of the articles do say the damage was reported to the police over a week ago. But by who? You don't think a Freeper could have trashed the Vietnam Memorial just so they could blame the antiwar folks, do you?

And if you don't think the Bushists would pull off an elaborate hoax to try to discredit opponents, read about a guy in West Virginia named Phil Parlock. His specialty was staging phony attacks against himself while protesting Democratic rallies.

If it's a Freeper hoax, I hope they throw the book at the vandal. If it was vandalism at all, they should throw the book at the vandal regardless of whether they're connected to the Free Republic politburo. Desecrating a national monument is a serious crime. But I'm still pretty sure the NPS's conclusion that the damage was accidental is accurate.

Network thought police censors Dixie Chicks ad (a blast from the past)

Damn that "liberal" media! Damn 'em, damn 'em, damn 'em!

Google was sluggish this morn, so we decided to bring forth a story that's been on the backburner since late last year. This story just goes to show how out of step with America the right-wing TV networks are.

A year ago there was a popular film out called 'Dixie Chicks: Shut Up And Sing'. It was a critically acclaimed documentary about the band's struggles with being blacklisted and threatened by the Nazis after lead singer Natalie Maines dared to criticize dictator Bush. But NBC was proud as a peacock to refuse to run commercials for the film. NBC's excuse was that the ad was "disparaging to President [sic] Bush."

In other words, a movie about a band being blacklisted by right-wing extremists was now itself being blacklisted by the right-wing extremists at NBC. It just doesn't get any more right-wing extremisty than this.

Of course NBC ran the anti-Kerry ads by the Swiftboat Liars in 2004. Not only that, but NBC (and other networks) reported the Swifties' lies as fact.

Although some individual stations (including some NBC affiliates) did air the Dixie Chicks commersh, it's unknown how many networks besides NBC refused to carry it.

I think this right-wing victim fantasy about the "liberal" media can be laid to rest now, don't ya think?


War memorial vandalism story debunked

One of the latest stories to bubble its way through the wingnutosphere has been debunked - but the Far Right intelligentsia continues to stand by the story, even though it's been discredited.

According to wingnuts, someone vandalized the Vietnam Memorial. And because it was a war memorial that was vandalized, say the wingnuts, the vandalism had to have been carried out by antiwar types. But all of this turned out to be a Big Lie. We knew it was a lie (because stuff like this always is), but now it's been proven that it's a lie.

The National Park Service says there was no vandalism, and the spittle crowd is just blowing smoke. What conservatives claimed was vandalism was actually just a small streak left by the cleaning fluid used to clean the monument. A park ranger had accidentally spilled cleanser on the wall, and the stain could not be removed right away.

But hey, that doesn't stop Freak Rethuglic from trying to get the most out of it. A Free Republic member named Mary Beth Caherty - who uses the screen name tgslTakoma - is using the nonexistent vandalism as an excuse to try to pick fights with antiwar and other progressive activists.

Apparently they've pulled this same stunt before. Seems that back in March, the right-wing blogosphere - with help from Fox News - spread a phony rumor that peace activists were going to vandalize the monument. It wasn't vandalized, but the wingnutosphere exploited the situation to bring out some 2,000 followers to crash an antiwar rally. The crashers physically assaulted the antiwar activists and destroyed their belongings.

The first 4 letters in Caherty's screen name - tgslTakoma - stand for her slogan: "Think globally, shoot locally." This is ironic because one of Caherty's fellow members of the Washington, D.C., chapter of Freak Republic, Tyler Froatz, was arrested earlier this year for stockpiling illegal weapons, plotting a terrorist attack against an immigrants' rights rally, and assaulting a participant in that rally. Froatz may face prison time. Froatz is so dangerous that the judge in his case denied him bail because "the community has reason to fear" him.

The Free Republic brain trust (led by some nobody from suburban Cincinnati) continues to insist that antiwar activists defaced the Vietnam Memorial - even after the National Park Service has proven that this isn't so. The dinosaur media isn't much better: While news outlets reported the initial finding of the damage, they've neglected to follow up with the discovery that it was just a cleaning accident.

In summary, the right-wing noise machine has once again manufactured a story, had it picked up by right-wing scumbag rags like the Washington Times, only for it to be completely debunked - and spread further even after being discredited. They do this because this is about all they have. They don't have facts on their side, so they resort to bullshit.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

University dumps dean for having "wrong" political views

Academic freedom must not be a very high priority at the University of California, Irvine (which sounds like the NKU of the West, judging by this story).

After UCI signed a contract with Erwin Chemerinsky to serve as dean of the university's new law school, UCI abruptly rescinded the contract. Chancellor Michael Drake said Chemerinsky was dumped because his views are too "polarizing" - which is NewSpeak for "not right-wing." Chemerinsky is a legal scholar who had been involved in progressive causes like opposing California's failed "three strikes" law (the law that put a man in prison for life for stealing a slice of pizza). (Bill Clinton had once considered Chemerinsky for a federal judgeship, but the child molesters who controlled Congress loudly proclaimed their intent to reject him.)

That UCI dumped Chemerinsky was such an obvious case of pandering to local rightists that everyone could see right through it right away. Drake admitted that he received demands from conservatives that Chemerinsky get sacked for his political views. The list of conservatives who wanted to ruin Chemerinsky's appointment included right-wing Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich and California Chief Justice Ronald George (who was appointed to that position by that fartpipe "Poopypants Pete" Wilson).

Now the university is trying to save its reputation by attempting to rehire Chemerinsky, but the damage is already done.

It's amazing how Drake claimed Erwin Chemerinsky was too political, yet it was Drake who appeased conservatives by withdrawing Chemerinsky's contract.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Mandatory Freak Rethuglic meltdown happens

I just monitored Free Republic to see what's on the minuscule minds of the electric paddle contingent. Someone posted the article from MSNBC about the housing crisis, and naturally the Freepers followed it up with predictable Nazi vitriol in which they blamed the families who were interviewed in the story. The Freepers actually said that the people in the story "choose" to "live the way they do." Seriously. They said that.

Oh well. Another day in the land of Freak Rethuglic - a Bizarro World where the elite complain about the peasants having too much.

Housing costs rise; government sits on ass

Yet another story about something the government can fix, but chooses not to. I just think it's pretty sad when families in which both parents work can't even afford a small apartment. And it's pretty sad that in some parts of the country you have to make over $30 an hour working full-time just for such a small residence.

It's sad that, in some parts of America, the most working-class families are allowed to have these days is a subsidized suite they share with 4 other families. I live in one of the most expensive metropolitan areas in North America, but I guarantee you that if I got to that point, I'd be so damn mad that I'd fight it. Not being able to afford a roof over your head is bad enough, but it's worse still when there's a deliberate effort to rob every last shred of dignity and autonomy people have.

According to press reports, there's some "resort" towns in Colorado where working people have to live in campgrounds just outside of town. These working folks are the ones who are forced to fill the awful service jobs to serve the very rich who vacation there. As someone else pointed out, the rich tourists rely on these workers to pamper them, yet these wealthy travelers don't want to actually live anywhere near these poor workers.

Welcome to BushAmerica and the "new economy", people.

The problem is so bad that it doesn't just afflict the poorest Americans or service workers or blue-collar laborers but also some professionals with master's degrees - some of whom work over 50 hours a week! How then can the government continue to ignore the problem?

According to the Center for Housing Policy, the number of households that pay more than half their income for housing has more than doubled in just the past 10 years.

There's a bill in Congress that would create a trust fund to build or rehabilitate 1,500,000 low-income residences, but everyone knows this isn't nearly enough, because there's millions more households that are being affected by the housing crisis (and Bush will probably just veto it anyway). So we'd like to propose some stronger solutions (which of course Bush would probably also veto, but not without looking like even more of a callous ass than he already does). A while back, I read something about France guaranteeing every person a place to live. If other countries can do it, America can too. If the United States has money to waste on needless, illegal wars in Iraq and on tax breaks for greedy corporations, it surely has the money to house its own people.

One possible solution would be for the government to give money directly to people to be spent only on housing. It's simple and feasible.

But there has to actually be housing. A big problem today is that almost all new housing is for the very rich - so I'd also propose requiring developers to set aside a percentage of new housing as affordable.

One fact you seldom hear about is that sheriffs have the option of not enforcing foreclosures. But hardly any sheriffs make use of this option today - often because of political intimidation by big banks. But I also think there should be a new law to limit banks' power to foreclose.

We come up with answers. Conservatives just come up with excuses. Every time they say the government can't regulate the "free market", it's nothing but a flimsy excuse. If the government interferes with glaucoma patients' right to use marijuana, why can't it interfere with developers' made-up "right" to only build homes that cost more than $1,000,000? I'm sorry if my view conflicts with the religion called capitalism (that conservatives try imposing on everyone else), but that's just tough.

To put it mildly, human aspirations take a back seat to market excess these days. I said years ago that people need to fight it, and only now are people starting to wake up. Science tells us the lack of affordable housing isn't just bad - it's unsustainable. People can't just move to the country if the city gets too expensive, because look at all the fuel they'd use getting to work. Why should people tolerate being priced out of their own community?


The Conservative Fool Of The Day is...John McCain!

Hey! Have you heard?

Back in the 1780s, some folks got together and wrote something called the First Amendment. It's this nifty little thing that's supposed to protect free speech, you know.

But don't tell that to John McCain.

The embattled Republican presidential candidate is supposed to be such a "maverick" and all, but lately he just toes the party line. Now McCain has decided to weigh in on the MoveOn flap - and he does so with unfortunate right-wing gusto.

At a speech in New Hampshire, the Arizona senator declared that " ought to be thrown out of this country."

Um. Why?????

As far as we know, MoveOn hasn't done what conservatives have done. Conservatives are the folks who sent incomprehensible letters to newspapers demanding that the United States mimic Singapore's "justice" system. Maybe the extremist nuts who thought a country that outlawed bubble gum was so great would have been happier there instead of back in the U.S. and A. diluting our elections.

After McCain's tirade, his campaign clarified his words, saying that his speech "did not convey his intended meaning." Then why didn't he say what he meant? Not exactly a Great Communicator, is he?

Oh well. If John McCain wants to make an ass of himself, that's his problem.


Friday, September 14, 2007

Wingnuts wrong about MoveOn "discount"

To hear the wingnutosphere tell it, the New York Times gave MoveOn a huge discount on its full-page ad against David Petraeus. But already the wingnuts' right-wing talking point has been blasted out of the water.

MoveOn ran an accurate and fair ad on Monday criticizing the general. But the American Conservative Union has filed a complaint with the FEC claiming that the ad's price of $65,000 was an illegal 64% sweetheart discount granted by the Times. Rudy Giuliani has picked up this wingnut meme by attacking the Times for this alleged discount - and by assailing Hillary Clinton for failing to condemn MoveOn's ad.

But now look! The Giuliani campaign has now taken out a full-page ad in the New York Times to defend Petraeus. And guess what it costs? It costs them $65,000 - which is the same as what MoveOn paid.

It turns out that, while the paper's rate card says full-page black-and-white political ads on weekdays cost $181,692, both the MoveOn ad and the Giuliani ad were purchased on a standby basis, which costs some $65,000. The Times charged both MoveOn and Giuliani the exact same price for their ads.

So the wingnuts who claim MoveOn got an illegal special deal can shut up now. Except they won't. The right-wing New York Post ran a downright false headline claiming the Times gave MoveOn a discount, and continues to run articles falsely claiming such. A Times spokeswoman says that the Times doesn't even see the ad until after they quote the price for it.


Judge halts video game censorship law

This story is from last month, but we've got a backlog going back to 1993, so we gotta clear it out!

A federal judge has correctly ruled that California's 2005 law that prohibits the sale of "violent" video games to "minors" is unconstitutional. This verdict prompted an appeal threat from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger - which would waste taxpayers' dollars. Right-wing lawmakers who supported the unconstitutional law had claimed video games caused brain damage.

Isn't it ironic that of the 3 branches of government, the one that is not elected (the judicial branch) now has a better understanding of democracy than the 2 that are (the legislative and executive branches)? Now you know why the Constitution provides for a democratic republic with separation of powers.


Want medical care? Go abroad!

After seeing 'Sicko' a few months back, I accept no more excuses for poor health care. The United States is the only industrialized country in the world that doesn't have universal health care (relying instead on a greed-driven system that benefits insurers, drug companies, and other robber barons), and it boggles the mind that the state of health care in the U.S. and A. has declined so much that it now lags behind that of even most of the poorest countries in the world.

Twenty years ago, the American health care system was superb compared to the mess it is today. Now it's an alphabet soup of bureaucracy, greed, costly and ineffective drugs, and death. There's probably never been any society other than modern America where Big Business has gone out of its way to make such a bad health care system - and that's what's really unfortunate about the whole thing.

So now it comes as no surprise to us that U.S. citizens are flocking to Mexico, Hungary, and beyond just to see a dentist. Forty-five percent of U.S. residents now lack dental insurance. The situation is so bad that Americans who live thousands of miles from Mexico go there just to find good, affordable dental care, eye exams, or even stomach surgery. Closer to the border, retirement communities in Arizona actually have regular bus trips to Mexico to get dental care and medicine that's just too expensive in the good ol' U.S.A.

Dentists in Mexico often cost as little as one-fifth as those in the U.S. The difference between Mexico and the U.S. is so stark that folks in places like El Paso, Texas, now opt not to even get dental insurance because it's easier and cheaper just to go to Mexico.

Of course, when confronted with the data that can no longer be denied - that health care is more expensive in the U.S. - the party line excuse is that it's too easy in the U.S. to file malpractice suits. Of course, this too has been debunked. If malpractice insurance is too expensive, wouldn't the insurers be at least partly to blame for this? And it takes an act of Congress to sue an HMO. I mean that literally. A year or two ago there was a big controversy about whether health care bills in Congress should permit patients to sue HMO's - as if HMO's have some sort of special privilege to be automatically immune from legal action.

Hopefully the Big Lie about how the United States has a perfect health care system will be quieted now. But knowing the right-wing noise machine, don't bet on it.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

New Jersey defies Bush tyranny

It boggles the mind that it wasn't until years after the Republican Revolution of the '90s before states and cities decided they better start asserting their autonomy against fascism. You'd think the welfare "reform" bullshit would have done it, or maybe the 1996 Telecommunications Act, but I think the Idiot Act and No Child Left were the first instances after the mid-'90s in which states or larger cities defied the ruling party outright.

Now New Jersey is about to put its foot down against the Republicans' totalitarian ways. Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine has just told Bush that he's tired of his shit and New Jersey's going to ignore Bush's new rules regarding a children's health insurance program.

The Bush regime issued new rules last month designed to remove kids from the government-funded program called SCHIP. It might not remove children who are desperately poor, but it does remove many who are from working-class households. Bush is also threatening to veto bills that would increase funding for this much-needed program.

Bush has already told the state of New York it can't expand its SCHIP coverage. New Yorkers were furious, and that state is considering suing the Bush regime.

Weren't conservatives the ones who always talked about "states' rights"? Or is this yet another case of "states' rights for me, not for thee"?


A great article about my home state!

There's a great article in The Nation about the growing populism and antiwar views of Kentucky voters that threaten to topple Mitch "The Glitch" McConnell in next year's election:

I've waited since I was a teenager to see McConnell lose, and it might finally happen! Man, that would be so funny if Mr. Elbow Care (that's another inside joke) lost!

I guarantee you though that Bush and the Iraq War never were popular in Kentucky to begin with, a fact that I'm a firsthand witness to. (I'm also pretty sure Bush lost my municipality twice, even though he won the suburbs.) Also from the article it appears there's another out-of-control cop who ought to be sued (like the ones I had to deal with in the 2000 campaign).

A new rule for this blog!

Ooh, it's a new Allowed Cloud!

Due to the abuse of the comments feature (in which trolls keep impersonating regular users), I've had to make it so you have to have a Google or Blogger account to post comments.

Most other political blogs already require registration, so this blog is actually among the last to require it.

Have no fear, high-speed is here!

As promised, I got my high-speed Internet online today. Hopefully this will be a useful tool to heal the world and make this blog a better place!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Conservatives call Craig arrest "war on the West"

Man, conservatives are hilarious, aren't they? After one of their own was caught with his trousers down around his ankles (literally), they cry that the whole thing is a big conspiracy.

According to the misnamed American Land Rights Association, a conservative group, the arrest of Larry Craig is the first shot in a "war on the West." The ALRA calls itself a "property rights" group, but that's one of these phrases trotted out by self-righteous conservatives to mean the opposite of its real meaning. The "property rights" movement claims to fight "land grabs", but their idea of a "land grab" doesn't mean taking old houses in working-class areas and illegally giving them to Wal-Mart. To the ALRA and their ilk, a "land grab" is when the government fails to give public land to wealthy landowners or bars rich landowners from using their land for unreasonable purposes.

The ALRA's claims to support "property rights" are further dashed to smithereens by their opposition to allowing Native Americans to build more casinos on their own land.

Now the ALRA says Craig's arrest at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport for his behavior in a public restroom was nothing but a big frame-up designed to persecute Craig for his conservativeness and that the airport has declared a "war on the West." So they're calling for a boycott of the airport. But an airport spokesman contends, "We believe that most people will be appreciative of the fact that we try to keep the entire airport safe, including the restrooms."

Chuck Cushman, who heads the ALRA, said, "Frankly, I've been in that Minnesota airport many times. Virtually everything Sen. Craig did, I have done." Oh, so you tried performing sex acts with undercover cops too? Or do all conservatives just like to tap on bathroom floors and claim they're picking up pieces of toilet paper that only they can see?

Hopefully the boycott by conservatives will make them miss their own Republican National Convention next year. That would be so funny.

Not only is the ALRA urging a boycott of the airport but also of Northwest Airlines, for some reason.

Keep making us laugh, ALRA.


Watch for falling anti-worker propaganda

Seems that some anti-worker hacks are trying to woo folks who read this blog to their cause, like we can be duped or something. Well, they've come to the wrong place.

We checked the website of the anti-worker activist group in question and found it to be pretty much the sick joke we expected. For starts, it has a table showing that an unusually high percentage of its readers - 48% - are Republicans. Judging by the rest of their site, it's hard to believe it isn't more than 48%, because it's mostly just typical anti-labor hackery and reprints of remarks from right-wing congresscritters (whose hideous faces sneer at us). The part where they compare organized labor to terrorism is particularly hackneyed.

So be on the lookout for that right-wing shit. I know you probably don't buy their nonsense - but we're not gonna let them try to dupe you on our time!

Wal-Mart still carries tainted cat food

It's interesting how many people drive miles out of their way just to avoid shopping at Wal-Mart. Wal-Fart is a symbol of despair and Bushism. (Why is it that whenever one thinks of the year 2004, they think of Wal-Mart? It has to be the scary logo featuring white block letters on a blue background that resembles that of Bush's creepy campaign signs.)

Recently, after a customer blamed Special Kitty cat food purchased at Wal-Mart for her cats getting sick, a TV news crew investigated. The news team went to a Wal-Mart in Clanton, Alabama, and found oodles of recalled cat food still on the shelves.

When you try to buy a recalled product, the UPC label is supposed to catch it at checkout. But at this Wal-Mart it was discovered that somebody had stuck phony UPC labels over the real UPC labels so the product wouldn't be caught when a customer tried to buy it. Thus, numerous shoppers probably purchased the tainted cat food without even realizing it.

Isn't there something seriously criminal about putting bogus UPC labels on products to avoid not being able to sell it due to a recall? People have gotten the chair for much less.

Some of the brands that were recalled in the recent pet food scandal were Wal-Mart store brands. Wal-Mart does have a hand in the manufacturing of their brands. Store executives often meet with the factory owners and go to the factories, so it's not as if Wal-Fart is just buying a product without knowing what goes into it. Furthermore, when Wal-Mart did pull poisoned pet food from its shelves, it wasn't until months after they were first notified of the problem.

The professional trolls are probably gonna come here and conjure up every excuse in the book to try to shift blame away from the retail chain that they worship, but the bottom line is that somebody tampered with the UPC labels just so they could Make Money selling a recalled item.


Kit Bond bonds his lips to Bush's ass

Every time some right-wing knucklehead defends Bush's illegal wiretap program, you can just imagine them downing a big glass of blood. This is equally true of the Republican Establishment and the DLC-led Congress (more on the latter some other time).

Instead of impeaching Bush and prosecuting phone industry giants for breaking the law, Republican Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri wants Congress to retroactively change the law so telecommunications corporations that conspired with Bush's warrantless wiretap program have immunity from being prosecuted for their role in the scandal.

Bond also says he wants to broaden the wiretap powers allowed under the law.

It turns out Bond is a big recipient of campaign contributions from Sprint, so of course he's going to do the telcom racket's bidding when they get caught illegally conspiring with the government.

Meanwhile, congressional Democrats say they're looking for ways to curtail the government's eavesdropping authority - even though they just helped approve broader authority last month. The law passed last month forces phone companies to cooperate with the government's warrantless searches and shields them from being sued for it. Who would have ever thought a Democratic Congress would actually approve the expansion of Bush's wiretap powers?

Of course, the August bill was sponsored by the Republicans Bond and Mitch "The Glitch" McConnell at Bush's recommendation.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Drug War makes world's poorest live in pain

How positively moronic is the right-wing War on Drugs? It's so bad that it forces many to live and die in pain that even thousands of years ago they never would have had to suffer.

Humans have a natural tendency to seek substances that alleviate conditions that ail them. This practice has been seen from the earliest human settlement through today. But for this human function, people never would have even discovered basic medicine.

But the drug warriors have huffed out a big Allowed Cloud that tries to deny what nature gives us. While big drug companies manufacture crap that doesn't even work, the DEA raids users of medical marijuana (even in states where medical marijuana is legal) despite the fact that this substance actually works. Actually it's more like because, not despite. Big Medicine can't compete with medical marijuana without a lot of government help.

But now it's not just medical marijuana that's under attack. Now morphine is too.

Morphine has been used for at least 6,000 years and comes straight from the opium poppy. Morphine is addictive, but when used properly, it eases pain caused by cancer and other illnesses and injuries. The effectiveness of morphine and the abundance of the opium poppy in some regions make morphine a very practical medicine. Scientists now know that the bodies of humans and other animals actually make some of their own morphine.

Almost everywhere in the world, morphine is perfectly legal when prescribed by a doctor. And it's cheap. But - especially in the world's poorest countries - some doctors and pharmacists won't have anything to do with it, because the Drug War has created such fear surrounding the drug. David Joranson of the Pain Policy Study Group at the University of Wisconsin says medical concerns like pain relief just haven't received as much as attention as fighting the failed Drug War has. The Drug War affects doctors' beliefs about the types of medicines they have at their disposal. And - because of the Drug War - governments around the world are fearful of changing the laws to make the opioid more readily available for its proper use. (Very few countries allow trained nurses to prescribe it.)

Anyone who isn't desperately poor and suffers severe cancer pain would find this situation unacceptable. But anyone who isn't very poor can likely find a doctor who will prescribe morphine. In the poorest, most isolated regions, however, that's hard to do.

Are the drug warriors proud of themselves for denying millions of people access to several medically effective substances that occur in nature and have been used for thousands of years?