Monday, December 31, 2007

ISP having teethcosters again

This might end up being a very slow week here at The Online Lunchpail, because my allegedly high-speed ISP is in a costerly mood again. (Like I said, it's one of only 2 high-speed ISP's available in my area, so it ain't like it's a competitive industry like all the capitalist dominionists claim.)

And I know it's gonna be a long week, because I went to my ISP's website to see if they've put up a status page (like every other ISP did back in 1996) and was instead confronted with this yet again:

So 2008 is shaping up to be the Year of the Coster before it's even beginned!

National Guard war call-up biggest since World War II

Lately the wingnutosphere has been screaming louder about how great the war has been going lately - even though 2007 has been the deadliest year yet in that conflict. As a rule, the louder they yell, the wronger they are.

As the war continues to go as badly as ever, the military has now given the Ohio National Guard its biggest call-up since World War II. Some 1,600 Ohio Guard troops are being sent to Kuwait or war-torn Iraq. This is over one-tenth the total strength of the Ohio Guard.

If there's some major disaster in Ohio next year like a flood, who's going to help out, with so many Guard troops away fighting Bush's war? This year there's been some severe flooding, and if there's another year like 1997, the Buckeye State is going to need all the help it can get.

This bullshit has to stop, and it has to stop now. Ohio and the other states need to step up to the plate this instant and order their Guard troops back home. The National Guard is needed first and foremost for domestic disasters - not failed foreign wars.


One right-wing extremist replaces another

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bloomberg may split conservative vote

Embattled New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is threatening to mount an independent bid for President. That's right, President. But all you can hear is me laughing.

Yeah, I know, I know. Bloomberg isn't as right-wing as the Republican Party whose banner he got elected under. But if you look at his policies against labor or the homeless, he's as economically conservative as can be. And even if he isn't, somehow I wonder if the media would have ever paid attention to him if he wasn't a multibillionaire and one of the richest people in the world.

It's kind of like what happened with Ross Perot. If someone just like Perot but of only average means tried to run for President, you know they wouldn't have attracted much attention. Furthermore, it's been said that Bloomberg might invest $1,000,000,000 (a billion) costly dollars of his own money in his presidential campaign. Who of average means can buy themselves the presidency like that?

What's funny about Bloomberg's potential candidacy is that it'll split the Republican vote more than it splits the Democratic vote. It'll split both far more than it'll split the Green vote, so this may be the best shot yet for the Greens to capture the White House or at least some lower offices with their coattails. You have to ask yourself, why wouldn't they? With the Democrats still inching to the right, and with a possible Bloomberg bid, conservatives may have 3 major candidates to split their vote, leaving everyone else to the Greens. It's only logical. Maybe not very likely, but logical. (Everyone laughed when I said the Democrats might regain both houses of Congress in 2006 - and guess what? So don't laugh too hard at my suggestion.)

But the New York Times reports that Bloomberg would promote himself as a "pragmatic, progressive centrist." Riiiiight. We'll see how "progressive" or "centrist" he is if we report more about his mayoral policies. I remember when Tommy Thompson, Tom Ridge, and even you-know-who were pumped up as "pragmatic" governors, and look how right-wing they got to be.

Look, if the pundits are gonna try to parlay someone from outside the two-party fold into a viable candidate, let's try to make sure they're not yet another conservative, which Bloomberg is. Every brand of conservatism is well-represented by the major parties already. It's the ideology that's agonizingly destroyed the country for the past 27 years, so why not try something different?


Man convicted of manslaughter for defending his family

If someone threatens your teenage son, don't you think you have a right to put forth a defense against this threat? I would think so. But now a 54-year-old man from Long Island has learned the hard way that if you defend your family, the system will throw the book at you.

Last year, a mob of several teenage hooligans showed up at the man's house late at night, yelled racial slurs, threatened to kill him, and tried to fight his 19-year-old son. Anyone would have felt threatened by such a large crowd that was obviously spoiling for a fight. But the man kept a loaded pistol in his garage, and he got his gun out to scare the youths away.

But the drunken, racist mob was stupid. One of the members of this violent crowd strolled up to the man and slapped his gun as he was holding it. From what I can gather, this caused the gun to discharge squarely in his face, killing him.

Because the man was clearly defending himself (and the shooting only happened because a member of the crowd had the nerve to slap the gun), it's hard to imagine the man actually being charged with any crime, let alone convicted. But Suffolk County prosecutors immediately came down hard, charging him with manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon. And just a week ago, right before Christmas, he was actually convicted of these charges!

But how?????

For one thing, there was no criminal possession of a weapon, because it's perfectly legal to have a pistol in your home in the state of New York. Apparently, the thing that made it allegedly "criminal" was that someone was shot with it. Well, isn't that already covered in the manslaughter charge? If this isn't a case of unconstitutional double jeopardy, what is? And besides, since when is self-defense considered manslaughter?

The man was on his own property, protecting his family from racist hoodlums who threatened to kill him - yet still he was convicted of manslaughter and the weapons charge. Now he's looking at up to 5 to 15 years in prison for manslaughter and 2 to 7 years for the weapons offense (although these sentences would probably run concurrently).

Now it turns out that at least 2 members of the 12-person jury that convicted him say they were unfairly pressured by fellow jurors into changing their vote to guilty. I believe that. Out of 12 people chosen at random, you'll likely get approximately one Freeper type who is always out to throw the book at someone and isn't satisfied until the rest of the world agrees.

Speaking of Freeper types, where are they? Aren't conservatives supposed to be Second Amendment champions? Well, conservative commenters on other websites are praising the conviction, yapping about how the man's gun was illegal (even though it wasn't).

Um. Aren't conservatives supposed to be the ones who support gun owners' rights? Oh, I get it now. Conservatives believe in "right to bear arms for me, not for thee." Of course, I knew that already.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Insurer won't cover formula child needs to live

In a health care system, if a doctor decides you need something in order to live, you get it. But BushAmerica doesn't have a health care system.

Just outside New York City, a 3-year-old girl is allergic to food. Any food she's ever tried, she's had a reaction that damages tissue in her esophagus. This reaction is potentially fatal. (This condition was almost never seen before 1995, but now about one in 10,000 children has it.) But doctors prescribed a hypoallergenic formula that provides the nutrients that would otherwise be found in ordinary food.

The trouble is that this supplement costs $1,200 per month - and her family's health insurance that's provided through her dad's job as a police lieutenant has stopped paying for it.

The formula is the only thing in the world the child can eat without having a life-threatening allergic reaction - and insurance won't even cover it!

Her doctors are furious.

What's the point in even getting insurance? It doesn't cover the treatments people need (as this is at least the third story like this I've covered this month), so what does it cover?

Insurance covers part of the cost of some cosmetic procedures (as I just found out by searching on Google), but it won't cover life-saving prescriptions. That's how topsy-turvy the American health system's priorities have become.

How much longer is the American public willing to tolerate a broken system that just keeps getting worse?


California limits insurer lies

Insurance company dishonesty suffered a crimp this week when a California court put the kibosh on health insurers' practice of waiting until consumers are sick or injured before investigating their medical history and canceling their coverage using the excuse that information was left off their original application.

To be frank, I had thought Congress put a stop to that shit nationally 15 years ago. Or was that yet another rule that was forgotten?

The practice now banned in California is called post-claims underwriting. Actually it had been banned in California under a 1993 law, but it took a court this long to rule that the law actually exists. This practice had led to many lawsuits by customers and to state enforcement attempts when greedy insurers retroactively canceled folks' policies just when they needed them and billed them for services that were performed before the cancellation. In one case, Blue Shield dropped a policyholder and caused him to suffer permanent, disabling damage to his bladder because he had to wait too long for surgery.

Ironically, when the man and his wife sued Blue Shield, a lower court judge initially made them pay $104,000 to Blue Shield - not the other way around. Can you believe that? You read that right: A corporation broke the law and injured a customer, and when the injured man sued, he had to pay the corporation $104,000. But now that decision has been overturned by the new ruling against insurers.

As long as insurance companies are part of the American health care system, Congress needs to step in and ban post-claims underwriting nationwide, if it's not already illegal. But if there's ever real health care reform, the money-grubbing insurance racket can't be permitted to be a part of it.


Friday, December 28, 2007

Vermont town may arrest Bush and Cheney

Why in the Wide, Wide World Of Sports did it take this long to get this far towards bringing the right-wing dictator to justice? I guarantee you that if I was judge-exec of my county, Bush would have been arrested on sight when he visited NKU. So wipe that smirk off your face, Georgy.

Folks in Brattleboro, Vermont, now want Bush and Cheney arrested and indicted for war crimes. The people of Brattleboro are petitioning to have the item placed on the town meeting agenda coming up in March. The measure asks whether the town's governing board shall have the town attorney draft indictments against the Poosome Twosome.

They'd be weird not to. The Vermont Senate has already voted in support of impeaching Bush.

Since he seized power, Bush has been to every state in the U.S. except Vermont. Now it looks like he might not get that last state highway sign for his collection.


Couple fights foreclosure for 11 years

I think it's great when people fight stuff. The Freepers are flying into a public temper tantrum right now because someone fought a foreclosure, because Freepers think banks have unlimited rights. But I think fighting the system is the embodiment of the American spirit.

Just outside Cleveland, a couple found their house foreclosed upon back in 1996. But - unlike most folks, who would just buckle - they fought it. For 11 years, they looked to the law books, and weren't forced out of their home until this year. While the bank fought them tooth and nail, they didn't make any mortgage payments, because the foreclosure was still pending.

The bank launched the foreclosure in 1996 when the couple failed to make their payments. But whose fault is that? The bank was refusing to accept their payments! You can't just foreclose on someone after not accepting their payments.

The homeowners' argument in contesting the foreclosure was that the bank couldn't bring the foreclosure because it didn't legally own the mortgage. But - faced with more foreclosures than at any time in recent memory - more courts are accepting this argument, as banks fail to prove they own the mortgages. The couple also points out that the bank can't back up its claim that they owed late fees that they were once charged. (A bank employee even admitted as much.)

If someone who owns a big house like that isn't safe from being foreclosed upon, imagine what it's like for small homeowners.

The bank was really looking a gift horse in the mouth: Sheriffs have the option of not even enforcing foreclosures at all. One of the basic problems today is that America has moved too far towards corporate-centered policymaking, and it's a trap that encourages people to not fight banks. The legacy of corporatism has led to the increase in foreclosures in several different ways.

Legislators need to limit banks' power to foreclose. If a bank refuses to accept payments, it can't be allowed to use this as an excuse to take someone's home.


More about the Anderson school shakedown

Here's something else about efforts by the Anderson, Indiana, school system to extort nearly $41,000 from parents who sued it over the fascist dress code.

It turns out that the parents who sued tried to drop the suit when right-wing U.S. District Judge John Tinder made it clear he was going to make them pay the $41,000 if they didn't. (How's that for bullying from the bench?) But when they tried dropping the case, they got a letter telling them they weren't allowed to. (Ooh, an Allowed Cloud!)

In other words, they were required to drop the case, but at the same time weren't allowed to drop the case. And so, the fix was in.

Also, a correction to NewsLink Indiana's report: The article says that "precedent says" that if you lose a lawsuit, you have to pay the winner's legal fees. Actually, quite the opposite is true, at least in cases like this. It was a longstanding legal principle that if a person sues an agency and loses, they don't have to pay the agency's legal bills. Anyone who thinks "precedent says" the opposite has been reading too much Contract With America legal theory.

Hopefully the plaintiffs will continue to refuse to pay the $41,000.


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Mall free speech upheld

Of all the changes that have affected America in recent years, one that's inescapable is the decline of Main Street as it's been replaced with the commercial avenues of new: suburban shopping malls. Thus, almost everyone agrees that malls - even while privately owned - are generally a facility for public assembly.

Almost everyone, that is, except the owners of these gargantuan retail complexes. And conservatives. (As if most of the owners aren't conservative.) Theirs is a Bizarro World where bottom line tyranny rules the roost.

In 1979 the California Supreme Court told these pied pipers of poologgery to eat a dick. They ruled that malls are indeed public conveyances and that they can't bar the exercise of free speech on the premises. But the powerful mall owners can't be wrong, can they? So in the '90s they thought this ruling had worn off and decided it was a good time to start stifling free speech again. In 1998 an upscale mall in San Diego was the site of a protest by a union that demonstrated against the unfair labor practices of the right-wing San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper. The protesters handed out leaflets urging a boycott of a store in the mall that advertised in the paper.

But the mall wanted none of it, and they banned the union from the grounds.

Now - after a federal court bunked the case back to state court - the California Supreme Court has once again ruled that malls are a "public forum", in essence repeating its 1979 ruling that mall owners forgot about. Malls can impose "reasonable regulations." But they can't ban free speech altogether.

What's shocking is that it was only a 4 to 3 ruling - which shows how far from common legal principle the system has drifted.

Conservatives have already criticized the ruling against the mall as a taking of private property. One of the dissenters from the ruling, Justice Ming Chin (one of "Poopypants Pete" Wilson's appointees), even criticized the 1979 decision, saying that other states don't have a right to free speech at malls. Bull. And shit. The mall owners still own the malls, so it's not a taking. And any court in its right mind in any of the 50 states would probably also back mall free speech rights.

Hopefully this'll put the kibosh on the ideology of corporatism that increasingly has allowed malls to act outside the law.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Right-wing judge makes family pay school's legal fees

If there's one Nazi idea that's seen unexpected inroads in America over the past 15 years, it's mandatory uniforms in public schools. A vast majority of folks who have kids in public schools hate it, but most of them just buckle under and take it. Who wants to spend money fighting something that'll be over in, like, 13 years anyway? Guess everybody thinks just a little fascist brainwashing never hurt anyone once it's over.

There's many arguments in favor of school uniforms. Unfortunately, all these arguments are lies. Uniforms and right-wing dress codes are not the economic equalizer that the liars who support it claim. If you contrast my first high school versus the one where I graduated, that's one difference that just sticks out like a sore thumb: My first high school, which had a draconian dress code, had the worst snobbery, bullying, and violence I've ever seen. My final high school, which had almost no dress code to speak of, reported zero fights all school year. Weird thing is, everyone else who transferred between schools in other areas says nearly the exact same thing.

Gee, what a coincidence!

I saw a survey from Knoxville, Tennessee, that showed that support for uniforms increased with economic levels. (I couldn't save the report I saw online about the survey because it was in a nonstandard format.) Yep, uniforms sound like a real equalizer to me - not! The few sites I've seen supporting uniforms focus mostly on instructing followers to try to convince us poor people what a great idea it is. That's their idea of populism. Like FairTax cultists, they're from the "trust us rich folks" school of phony populism.

It proves many things. For one, vote Green. Then you won't get a President who says, "The era of big government is over," while backing uniforms in the same speech. (This is not a reference to Bush, incidentally.) For another, uniforms channel economic differences into violent deeds and bullying.

The economic sting of uniforms is heightened in Anderson, Indiana. Because the city's school system is run by Nazis, it recently enacted an absurd dress code that amounted to a uniform policy requiring the purchase of extra clothes costing hundreds of dollars. (The dress code is regulated by the color of the clothing.) The school system refused to reimburse parents who had to buy the items. The uniforms have no purpose outside of school - because who the hell wants to be seen wearing it? Thus, nobody had the think-alike attire until the school made them buy it, so it was a school expense.

This calls the uniform policy into question not just on the usual free speech grounds but also on the grounds that it violates the right to a free public education.

If you're of average smarts, you'd oppose it. But if you're of above-average smarts, you'd fight it. One way is to ignore the policy and let the school do its worst to enforce it. Another way is: Don't take the law into your own hands - take 'em to court! Laura and Scott Bell - who are parents or stepparents of 5 children in the Anderson schools - did exactly that when they sued the Anderson school system over its new sumptuary laws. Because legal fees are too expensive, they filed the suit pro se, which means they used no lawyer.

If that isn't a clear-cut case, I don't know what is. How can a public elementary or high school be allowed to force every family to pay hundreds of dollars per child as an admission fee?

When you have idiots running the country, it's the school however that comes out on top. The school system launched slick legal maneuverings in which they moved the case from local court into federal court (where they knew they'd get a more favorable ruling), which caused the Bells to miss a deadline. Then, U.S. District Judge John D. Tinder - a Reagan appointee - called the Bells' suit frivolous and threw it out.

If the judge had simply tossed the case because of missed deadlines and sent it back to the local court where it belonged, it would be one thing. But that's not what happened. The school system used taxpayer dollars to shop for a friendly judge, which caused the deadlines to be missed. Then - after the fix was in - the right-wing federal judge ruled that the Bells' case itself was frivolous and that they lost their claims that the dress code violated free speech or family rights.

Then came the real clincher. Just a few weeks ago, Tinder ruled that the Bells had to pay the school system's legal tab of almost $41,000 - which is much more than the family's total annual income!

Here's a message for the Anderson school system: Don't expect other people to pay your legal fees. The school system hired expensive lawyers to abuse the system by shopping for some right-wing judge and filing moronic motions to gum things up - when it would never have had any legal fees if it had just dropped the new dress code altogether. The school system set itself up for a big legal bill and made someone else pay for it.

In BushAmerica, crime pays.

Here's an even bigger clincher. John Tinder is known as one of the biggest right-wing activists on the federal bench. Prior to this ruling, his biggest claim to notoriety was his 1990 decision that gutted an Indiana law that barred hauling in garbage from other states to be dumped there. Voiding this law wasn't just a bad ruling - it was an activist ruling. Tinder's extreme activism led Bush to nominate him to be moved up to federal Circuit Court. Then - just after he made the Bell family pay $41,000 to the school system - the Senate confirmed Tinder 93 to 0!

What was this I hear again about America having a two-party system?

Every so-called Democrat who voted to confirm Tinder after he made such an extremist ruling ought to be kicked out of the party immediately.

The Bells' response to Tinder's idiocy is priceless. Laura Bell said being forced to pay the school system $41,000 is "flat ridiculous." How is she going to pay the $41,000? She said, "I'm not paying it, obviously."

Now that's a great response! Concise, clear, and unambiguous. If a school violated my constitutional rights, do you honestly expect me to pay the school more than a year's pay because of it?

The next step is making sure the school system's lawyers are disbarred for pulling this shenanigan - and impeaching John Tinder for violating the Constitution he swore to uphold.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

"Values voters" step up War on Christmas

The self-anointed guardians of morality are really in the Christmas spirit!

While I celebrate the season as one of service, mercy, and love, the "let's get offended by everything" crowd celebrates it by getting offended. And this War on Christmas isn't even limited to the good ol' U.S. and A.

In Sydney, Australia, a U.S.-based Santa Claus recruitment business has told its store Santas not to say "Ho ho ho!" and to change it to "Ha ha ha!" The reason? Because of the raunchy U.S. slang term 'ho'.

I swear I am not making this up.

Is there anyone in the world besides the "values voters" who consider Santa's laugh offensive? The Australians are laughing their asses off that the Americans who run the recruitment firm can be so prudish. Nobody is going to seriously mistake this time-honored Christmas greeting with being called a crude slang word, so this effort to sanitize Santa falls flat.

I remember once in the '90s, after reading a story about radio stations censoring the word 'ho' from songs, someone joked that maybe they'll censor Santa Claus next because he says, "Ho ho ho!" Now it's actually happened!

What's next? Are we gonna stop teaching our kids that the Pilgrims said, "Land ho!"?

Are we gonna stop buying them HO scale train and car sets?

Maybe everyone should just gouge out their eyes and stuff rags in their ears forever so they never have to see or hear anything that remotely resembles something offensive ever again.


Monday, December 24, 2007

Huckabee supports 23% national sales tax

The more I read about Republican presidential hopeless Mike Huckabee, the more I can't stand the guy.

The former Arkansas governor is often portrayed as a "Pat Buchanan lite", featuring a blend of fiscal populism and cultural conservatism (though more nuanced than Buchanan's bigoted tirades). But as long as it's under the modern Republican banner, this alleged economic populism always seems to fall to rack and ruin under closer scrutiny.

Huckabee's supposed populism thumps false. Fuckapee is a cultist of the so-called FairTax, a perennial cause celebre of the Far Right that would establish a confiscatory national sales tax to replace other taxes - not just personal income taxes but also corporate, capital gains, and estate taxes. Detect a pattern here? Capital gains and estate taxes are generally paid by the wealthy, and those would be abolished. Corporate taxes are paid by major corporations, and those too would be history. By contrast, the proposed sales tax on all goods and services - which has no exceptions even for food - would hit the poor and working class harder.

So much for Huckabee being the great working-class champion!

The amount of the sales tax that would be charged under the UnfairTax plan has varied over the years, but has generally inched upward. Fuckapee's version would establish a 23% sales tax. Yes, 23%! But it'll end up being even worse: William Gale of the Brookings Institution says that for a national sales tax to generate as much revenue as the current tax structure, the sales tax may run as high as 50%.

If you thought (whoosh...whoosh) inflation was bad now under idiot Bush, wait until you have to spend another 50% every time you go to Kroger. On the other hand, Gale says the tax will end up being so high that stores and consumers will just evade it anyway - so the government won't even bring in any revenue from it!

Either way, that would pretty much do in the economy for good: If people obey the tax, they have far less buying power. If they don't, the government goes further into debt and forces everyone to pay for it later.

But that doesn't deter the FairTax movement that uses talk radio and right-wing websites to draw its small but loudmouthed group of followers to public rallies and Internet forums.

I do my own taxes. There have been easier tasks, but I ended up not paying nearly as much as I would under the UnfairTax. In some years, I actually got a refund. I think this underlines the thrust of the FairTax cult: The Movementarians who support the UnfairTax want to see elimination of the tax brackets that exist under a progressive taxation system. This shows that the UnfairTax and the Huckabee campaign aren't supported by the working class but by the phony populists who are economically secure but self-righteously scream about being "robbed" by the government (even though they never have to worry about becoming poor). The proposed sales tax isn't even designed to bring in more revenue. It's just designed to make the poor pay more. The modern FairTax movement itself was begun by an organization called Americans for Fair Taxation, which was founded in 1995 (when else?) by a group of millionaires from Texas.

The FairTax is regressive because if a person who earns $10,000 a year buys an item, they pay a much greater percentage of their earnings on the tax than someone who makes $10,000,000 a year buying the same item. If that isn't soaking the poor, what is? I don't see how it can possibly be any clearer.

If Huckabee's UnfairTax passes, individuals and the smallest businesses would in effect be tax collectors who would form the personal IRS benefiting each wealthy person or corporation.

How does Mike Huckabee expect to win support from the average American who has to work hard for a living? Right now he doesn't need to, because he's running in the Republican primary. In fact he has to work harder at supporting it. Most of the other Republican contenders support a hefty national sales tax too (despite their lies about being the party of lower taxes) - but only Huckabee makes it central to his campaign.

However, even the usually conservative economist Bruce Bartlett said of the FairTax, "Anyone who supports it should not be taken seriously." That the Republican faithful take Fuckapee seriously is proof of how far outside the mainstream his party has become.

Outside the GOP fold, nobody believes the FairTax cult's mindless blatherings. That frustrates them, and it makes them crazier. But it's gotten old. A 3-year-old who throws a tantrum eventually gives up when they realize they're not getting their way. The UnfairTax crybabies are different in that they haven't given up yet. Don't give in to this zillionaire cult that tries to brainwash people into thinking the poor have it so easy.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

FBI steals robbery victims' life savings

It's ironic that a government that won't regulate Big Business has no objection to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from hard-working individuals.

In Lima, Ohio, a 63-year-old man and his wife spent their lives toiling relentlessly to save up for the future. They lived modestly and saved over $400,000 which they kept in a safe at home.

This past summer, 2 robbers broke into their house and stabbed the retired foundry worker's son. But the retiree shot one of the robbers to death. He wasn't charged with killing the robber, because it was self-defense, and he was cleared of any wrongdoing for the shooting.

But Lima Police found something they thought was far more of a threat than the armed robbery. They found marijuana in the home. The robbery victim took marijuana to alleviate pain caused by arthritis, shingles, and a hip replacement. Although the herb was clearly used for medical purposes, police promptly seized the $400,000 the man had worked for his whole life.

Then the FBI took the $400,000 from the city police!

No trial, no nothing. A man is out his whole life savings even though he wasn't even charged or convicted of a crime!

Once the FBI takes money or property from someone caught with even a small amount of marijuana, the seized cash or items are usually gone for good, even if no trial or conviction ever happens. I call that theft.

The FBI is just assuming the man got his $400,000 by selling marijuana. And the laws are so draconian that the burden of proof has shifted from the government to the person who has their money seized. According to the Constitution, you're supposed to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. But right-wing forfeiture laws have placed the burden on the accused to prove their innocence.

In other words, in order to get his $400,000 back, the victim of the robbery has to go to court to prove he didn't sell marijuana - or he has to provide dated receipts he got from his workplace going back his entire life.

A lifetime of hard work, gone. What lesson is the FBI teaching by seizing someone's life savings without even charging them with anything? Is this any way for the government to treat a 63-year-old arthritis patient?


Family wants charges against insurer that delayed transplant

Anyone who's followed the story of the 17-year-old leukemia patient in California whose life-saving liver transplant was denied by CIGNA has now learned of the sad result of CIGNA's refusal to approve the transplant in time.

Following the death of the teen, her family and their attorney want criminal charges against CIGNA. I agree wholeheartedly that criminal charges should be filed - and I think they should go for the maximum.

Unfortunately, America has seen such an agonizing drift towards chaos and corporate depravity in recent years that there's no guarantee there will be any prosecutorial action at all against CIGNA. Big Business's lawlessness has in effect been normalized. When the government was dismantled in the '90s, the scales tipped away from the consumer and towards Corporate America, ushering in an era of corporate-centered thinking that's continued ever since.

While I support criminal charges against CIGNA and similarly irresponsible corporations, my view has unfortunately come to be considered taboo. This populist stance is one of many that's become banished and shouted down to the point where the punditocracy refuses to even regard it as a real perspective. Now this taboo is finally being challenged by the requests to prosecute CIGNA for negligent homicide.

The family's lawyer - who is referring the case to prosecutors for criminal charges - says CIGNA only approved the liver transplant when it did because they knew that by that time it was too late, and the patient would die before the transplant could be performed, thus CIGNA wouldn't have to pay for it. The attorney said whoever at CIGNA who made the decision to initially refuse to approve the transplant is "some piece of garbage." All of the doctors agreed the teenager needed the transplant, but the insurer declined it.

If corporations want rights like people have, they should be subject to criminal charges like people are. If a corporation is just a group of people, then maybe the people who make up the corporation's board should be imprisoned when they do wrong.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Labor board muzzles free speech

With a neo-Nazi government in power, you can't expect it to ever side with workers. This past week the Bush regime once again lived down to expectations when the National Labor Relations Board decreed that employers have the right to bar workers from sending out union-related messages on their workplace e-mail.

I, however, decree employers don't have this right. The NLRB's diktat runs against years of what was thought to be settled policy. If an e-mail is union-related, then of course it's work-related. Clear? The union isn't an outside agitator but is a federation of workers.

The NLRB is in effect stifling legitimate communications between the unions and their members.

Is the NLRB going to make it illegal to use the bulletin board in the lounge at work to post union notices? That's exactly what this is like.

An important question I haven't seen asked yet: This ruling came about because an employee of a newspaper sent out e-mails to fellow workers about union activities. How did the employer even know what the worker said if they hadn't been spying on her e-mail? Answer me that one, wingnuts.

What's especially pathetic is the NLRB's excuse (that's another word for horseshit) for issuing this high-handed fiat. They said barring union communications falls under the employer's "basic property right." So they really do think workers are company property.

Although Robert Battista, the right-wing chairman of the NLRB, stepped down after this ruling because his term expired, Bush has threatened to abuse the recess appointment privilege (again) to reappoint Battista so he doesn't have to be confirmed by the Senate.

How do we stop this right-wing crap?

There ought to be a law. Because the federal government is obviously dead wood, the states need to step up to the plate and pass laws saying workers have the right to use e-mail for union activities.


If you're sick, see a doctor

One of the top health stories now in America underscores something that can't be stressed enough: Doctors exist for a reason. Don't delay seeing a doctor if you need to.

I have to say this, because around the time I started high school, my whole family seemed to pretty much swear off physicians forever, because medical care got too expensive. They could be sick for a week, and they wouldn't go within 3 miles of the doctor's office.

Although I'm not a doctor, I think flushing the ears with hydrogen peroxide to prevent a common cold, or even after symptoms first appear, works. I've mentioned it before, and it's discussed on other websites. But if a cold sets in, and this treatment no longer works, visit a physician. Now. Right away. This instant. Pronto. Worry about the cost later.

It can actually save your life.

CNN reports that the killer adenovirus - a potentially fatal form of the common cold - is approaching epidemic levels. The state of Oregon seems to be hit particularly hard by this deadly virus. Even people who were in perfect health have died from it. In Oregon alone, at least 7 have died. But this is a nationwide alert.

Instructively, the existence of the adenovirus has been known for decades - but it apparently didn't mutate into its fast-spreading killer form until 2005. So you can't blame Carter for this, Freepers. (Have you also noticed that people get sick a lot more now than they did in the '70s? I think I can count on one hand the number of times I was sick before second grade.)

This also highlights the point that you can't trust the current government in battling the epidemic. The CDC refused to admit the spread of the fatal virus until after it had long since sickened many. Indeed, the long-running policies that have made health care too expensive and the official pronouncements that nobody should see a doctor for a cold have contributed to the current threat by conditioning people into thinking they shouldn't seek treatment if they get sick.

So take my advice. Or don't spread the misery.


Friday, December 21, 2007

Government ignores GOP fraud; fraud allegations against others debunked

Last year, a Republican voter drive in the Nashville area was found to be plagued by some 150 phony GOP registrations in both the city and the suburbs. Local election commissions received numerous bogus voter registration forms submitted by Republican National Committee-linked workers. They contained the names and addresses of real residents, but personal information such as their birthdates and signatures were wrong. Several of the people whose names appeared on these forms said they never submitted the forms and that Republican operatives forged their names on them.

Nashville election personnel said the fucked-up forms were submitted in the name of Tennessee Victory 2006, an RNC-sponsored group backing Republican candidates.

One has to ask how these voter forms were approved in the first place, because some of the people whose signatures were forged were already registered voters. Others weren't even old enough to legally vote yet. It was later found that most of the victims of this forgery were in heavily Democratic neighborhoods, so it was obvious the Republicans were trying to get Democrats disqualified from voting by having them registered twice.

There's no end to the thuggery the RNC and state Republican groups will stoop to, is there?

What's amazing is that area Republican leaders never even denied it was fraud. Nashville GOP boss Jon Crisp's defense was that the forms were submitted by an operative who got paid according to how many voters they registered, so "this is more financial fraud, not election fraud."

Now that we've established that it's fraud of some sort, let me go find the story about the investigation by the federal government into the RNC that followed.

Still waiting.

Hmm, I can't find that story. Maybe it's because the so-called Justice Department decided not to do anything, despite all the evidence against the Republican National Committee.

Throughout Bush's reign, his Justice Department has had a hard-on against ACORN. ACORN is a community group representing working-class families and helps address issues like housing and education. I've found several stories of prosecutions against ACORN employees alleging vote fraud. Strangely enough, however, none of them are from before 2001. Even weirder, the investigations of ACORN I've seen were all launched by Bush's Justice Department - or in one case by a conservative county prosecutor.

Well, isn't that odd?

I'm not saying there wasn't some voter fraud. But it was ACORN that reported it! ACORN itself wasn't permitting fraud to take place in its name. The group actually turned in people who were submitting phony registrations. Yet ACORN is made out to be guilty.

What's going on here?

An incident in Florida should pretty much blow the entire war against ACORN out of the water. A few years ago ACORN was helpful in getting Florida voters to pass a much-needed referendum to increase the minimum wage. During this campaign, a Miami guy who was employed and then fired by ACORN filed a lawsuit against the group claiming it registered voters but threw away the forms of anyone who registered Republican. However, the judge found the accusation so bizarre and baseless that it amounted to defamation of ACORN. A police investigation of ACORN also turned up nothing.

When I read this, my mind reeled a mile a minute because it was obvious then what was happening: Republican operatives are applying to work at ACORN, getting themselves fired, and claiming it was because ACORN wouldn't let them report voter fraud. That much is clear. I'm sure the people who tried committing voter fraud in ACORN's name were also GOP operatives, and that they were trying to frame ACORN. I'm 100% positive of that.

If that wasn't enough, of the 2 people who stood by the plaintiff in accusing ACORN of discarding their registrations, one turned out to be a felon, and the other lived in New Jersey! So they weren't even allowed to vote in Florida anyway! If their forms really did get thrown in the trash, this was probably why!

This nonsense continues even today. In the St. Louis area - where election officials have actually threatened ACORN - the Justice Department has now charged several people with faking voter registration forms for ACORN. If I was a betting man, I would wager my life savings and all future royalties that the culprits in this case were Republican moles too. This pattern is so well-established now that if people can't see right through it then they must really be gullible.

Don't get me wrong: The employees who allegedly faked the forms should be prosecuted - not just for voter fraud but also for trying to frame ACORN. I think the government will push this case only enough to drag ACORN through the coals but not enough to actually convict anyone - because the defendants are almost certainly working for the GOP.

Lest anyone think all this fraud in this decade has helped the Democrats, why is it that the Democrats did significantly worse in elections in the years that had the bulk of this fraud? If Democratic supporters were behind this fraud, don't you think they'd stop once they realized it wasn't working?

Check the voting results from Loving County, Texas. Notice how Bush got more votes in that county than the number of people who live there.

Go ahead. Check it.

See, I wasn't making that up, was I?

Who are the Freepers gonna blame for that? Are they gonna dismiss it because "their poo also voted" like they did the first time this fraud was pointed out? Or are they gonna blame Jimmy Carter for it like they do for everything else?


Tweedledum and Tweedledumber again!

The 2 major parties really are Tweedledum and Tweedledumber, aren't they? Only now I'm starting to think the Democrats are the ones who are Tweedledumber!

On Wednesday, the allegedly Democratic Senate confirmed a whole slew of Bush nominees - more than 30 in all - by voice vote. They didn't even have a real vote. They just let 'em sail right through. Because it was a voice vote, we'll never even know which senators kissed Bush's shit-caked ass this time.

One of the nominees they confirmed was the abominable Julie Myers as director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Myers already held this post after Bush abused his recess appointment power but now had to be confirmed. Even when Bush first appointed Myers, Myers appeared unlikely to be confirmed by the then-Republican Senate if Bush hadn't used a recess appointment. Now she gets confirmed on a rubber-stamp voice vote!

Yes, this is the same Julie Myers who presided over a Halloween costume party contest in which she gave an award for the most original costume to an ICE employee wearing a racist outfit. Myers then fawningly posed for photos with the employee who was wearing the racist costume.

That nasty episode shows what type of environment prevails at ICE under Myers. But I guess the Senate is alright with that. (Did Trent Lott become Majority Leader again?)


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Insurer nearly denies teen cancer patient life-saving treatment

Anyone who still insists the American health care system is a workers' paradise after reading this story is a lost cause.

In California, a 17-year-old girl with leukemia has been denied a liver transplant by insurance giant CIGNA - even though doctors think the transplant may save her life. CIGNA's excuse is that her insurance plan doesn't cover "experimental, investigational and unproven services."

So they're saying a liver transplant is "experimental", "investigational", or "unproven"? If doctors recommend a treatment to save someone's life, I wouldn't exactly classify the treatment as any of those things. A patient's life is on the line, but CIGNA is trying to get out of paying for her treatment.

Talk about a serious lapse of ethics by CIGNA. In 1978 a prosecutor in Indiana charged Ford Motor with negligent homicide following a Pinto fire that killed 3, because Ford knew how dangerous the car was but sold it anyway. I firmly believe we need to charge corporations with negligent homicide or murder when they knowingly commit unethical actions that cost people their lives.

An equally important point is that there's probably no other country where big insurance companies are allowed to make important medical decisions. In any other country, if a doctor decides you need to be treated now, you don't sit around and wait until it's too late for some money-grubbing insurer to approve it. If I had cancer, I think I'd trust a doctor who has to follow the Hippocratic Oath before I'd trust some greedy insurer.

I don't even want to hear the excuses that apologists for the broken American health system are going to come up with to defend CIGNA or the system in general. There's no way you can possibly put a happy face on something like this.

After initially denying coverage for the teen's liver transplant, CIGNA reversed its decision and decided to cover it - but only after a massive protest by the California Nurses Association (which represents nurses in that state) and others.


Explaining Bush's scandals to our young

I'm not at my peak of efficiency right now, so I'll direct you to an article that touches on Bush's many scandals and the challenge of explaining these woes to students:

A lot of you are asking, "What? Bush's scandals didn't start until 2005?" You have to realize the media hardly covered his scandals until 2005, conveniently waiting until they wouldn't hurt his political chances.

Just now a new story broke that Bush's Justice Department covered up Republican efforts to suppress voter turnout in New Hampshire by jamming phone banks, just so the GOP wouldn't be hurt in the next election.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bush blocks state efforts to limit pollution

I must be the silliest man in the world. All these years, I actually thought the Environmental Protection Agency's purpose was to sort of like protect the environment. That's why they call it the Environmental Protection Agency. Get it? Get it? Get it? Get it?

Man, was I ever wrong! Bush's EPA seems to exist not to protect the environment but to destroy it.

Today Bush's EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson shot down an effort by California to establish stringent regulations on automakers to cut down on tailpipe emissions. Seventeen other states planned on imposing similar regulations once California did so. These new rules would have made automakers help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It would have been like if Trent Lott had to stop farting so much. But now these regulations have been nixed by the EPA.

Aren't the Republicans always the ones who are talking about states' rights? Or is this yet another case of "states' rights for me, not for thee", like that garbage called the Patriot Act?

We might as well not even have states, counties, and cities, and just be ruled by an absolute emperor instead. Every time the states try doing anything, the maggoty GOP gizzard flips open and says they can't do it.

Stephen Johnson's excuse for quashing the states' new rules is that the new federal energy law raises fuel economy standards by 2020. Yes, the auto industry gets to wait another 13 years before making cleaner cars. (The California rule that was rejected said efficiency had to start improving by 2012.) Not only that, but the new federal law doesn't even do the same things that the rejected state laws would have anyway.

That the EPA can just defy its own reason for being and strike down states' environmental regulations on a whim (without even asking for the states' input) brings a whole new meaning to "Resistance is futile."


Wingnutosphere calls Iraqi deaths a hoax

The rightist intelligentsia is really grasping at straws to justify their war.

Their plaint that's making its way through the freeposphere now is that the media ran several stories about deadly clashes between terrorists and villagers in Iraq that war supporters claim were made up. They did? Weird. I never even saw the original stories until the warmongers started crying that they were hoaxes. That's because the American media (which is always eager to cave to Bush) generally ignored the stories, leaving foreign news organizations to cover them.

What's more, these were all separate incidents covered by separate news outlets. So the wingnuts are claiming all these news organizations from around the world got together to try to make up bogus stories about Iraq?

What right-wing site originated the false notion that these stories were hoaxes? The site responsible for this delusion is a project of a right-wing media criticism group funded by conservative foundations and headed by ultraconservative media hatchet man Brent Bozell III. The website itself proudly proclaims a stated goal of fighting alleged liberal media bias. (That it claims the media has a liberal bias dashes to smithereens any credibility it has.)

And what's this site's source for debunking the news stories about the deaths? Its source is a website run by the U.S. military command headed by David Petraeus. Um. OK. Like you're supposed to trust a Bush regime site?

But thanks, Freeper peeps, for trying in vain to discredit the original stories. Now I know the original articles existed and have become more informed by reading them.

Who do you trust more? A Bozell back-slapping blog, or several different news organizations operating independently of each other?

Bush makes New York Times censor headline

What's this I hear about the United States having a free press at one time? Oh yeah. I remember that now. I think I recall sitting on the living room floor watching 'That's Incredible!' and trying to solve my Rubik's Cube when someone mentioned something about freedom of the press. These fond memories of the First Amendment are all coming back to me!

OK, seriously now. Today the Bush White House issued a formal demand ordering the New York Times to change the subheader of an article about the destruction of CIA tapes featuring terrorist suspects' interrogations. The subheader the Bush regime objected to declared, "White House Role Was Wider Than It Said."

Ever stop and think maybe the reason it said that the "White House Role Was Wider Than It Said" was that the White House role really was wider than it said? I've followed the story, and it's pretty clear the subheader was accurate. Who the hell is gonna believe the Bush thugocracy anyway, when it's put out so many lies and distortions already?

The greater issue is that who in a country with freedom of the press has ever heard of the country's leader trying to pressure a newspaper into distorting a story to meet the ruling party's warped goals?

Naturally, the New York Times caved.

Gee, it really is easy to run a dictatorship, isn't it, George?

The official White House press release that attempts to debunk the Times cites Bush's own quotes as "proof" that the Times is wrong. How's that for circular reasoning? That's like if someone writes a book that cites itself in the footnotes. (I know the words 'Bush' and 'book' don't go together too well, but oh well.)


Multimillionaires convicted of slavery lose mansion

This is the type of story that helps make this blog so rewarding.

Remember the perfume tycoons who held their housekeepers as slaves and tortured them? Now, after being convicted in that case, the jury has decided that the multimillionaire Long Island couple must forfeit their expensive mansion. The couple may still face 40 years in prison in addition.

They so deserve it!

They got convicted, and now they're paying. This isn't like the cases where someone accused of a minor drug offense gets their car seized without even going to trial. This time, the defendants got convicted of a serious federal crime, and it's only fair that they lose the property that was used in committing the crime, because it was so serious.


Athletes busted in cheating scandal get off easy

From grade school all through college, there's 2 different sets of rules in the American education system. Simply put, student athletes don't have to follow as many rules as everyone else. This is a demonstrable fact, because I've seen it firsthand. I'd be shocked if there's anyone who's attended an American school in the past 20 years who doesn't know it.

Schools turn a blind eye to disciplinary and academic woes of athletes because they don't want a reason to have to kick the athlete out of the sports program and cost the school a valuable team member. When my high school told me my grades would improve if I joined the track team (which I didn't join), that didn't mean it would somehow cause me to work harder at my schoolwork. It meant that the grade deflation I suffered would "mysteriously" stop.

Now Florida State University is caught up in a cheating scandal that's nabbed nearly 25 student athletes. Florida State's football team is scheduled to play against Kentucky at the Music City Bowl (which I can't wait to miss), but now many of its players are about to be ruled ineligible for this event and for games next season because they were caught cheating on tests for classes they took. At least 2 football players have already had to miss some games.

Um, excuse me? How much do you want to bet that if they weren't athletes, they would find themselves in much deeper trouble than just having to miss some games? Granted, if you're not an athlete, you don't have games anyway, but I still don't see any evidence of the athletes receiving any punishment that has any long-term effect on their academic records. I went to a public university within recent memory, and I'm quite certain that students there who weren't athletes got in a heap of trouble if they cheated - probably to the point that their whole academic career was ruined. Though expulsions were rare for any offense, I heard that one student who cheated on a test got booted right out the door in a humiliating spectacle. I can almost guarantee you that at minimum he was given a failing grade for the whole course - and that if the school ever let him back in, they watched him like a hawk.

You know the footballers at Florida State didn't even get a flunking grade, because one of the players in the cheating scandal only had to miss 4 games - which means he was still on the team after this suspension was over, which in turn means he must have been allowed to pass the classes where he cheated.

An academic advisor and student tutor were fired for their involvement, so why shouldn't the athletes be expelled?

Other than the student tutor, I've seen no evidence any student who wasn't an athlete was involved. But - in fairness to the players - that doesn't mean athletes are inherently more inclined to cheat. Non-athletes simply knew the punishment would be much stricter if they cheated. The athletes were probably used to being coddled, so I bet they actually thought they wouldn't face any penalty at all. That's the same reason 2 Florida State football players thought they could get involved in a scuffle at a nightclub that resulted in one of them being charged with a felony. If you're not a jock, you're probably used to having to think twice before getting in fights like this.

I would shed no tears if separation of school and sports became a reality. America is one of very few countries where schools sponsor organized athletic programs (although other countries do have community sports programs that are independent of schools, which I'm not against). But hey, as long as the American education system insists on being so sports-crazy, let's try to make sure the rules apply to everyone fairly.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

While Coulter gets let off, 14,000 can't vote

While Ann Coulter's friends in Florida state government let her get away with vote fraud by conveniently waiting until the statute of limitations ran out on the complaint against her before acting on it, a law that took effect just last year barred some 14,000 Floridians from even registering to vote even though they were qualified.

The new law was called a "no match" law. It said a voter's name on a registration form had to be matched with a Social Security or driver's license number. But what the law really did was create bureaucratic nightmares for many who attempted to vote. In fact, that's what it was intended to do. Remember, the Republican-dominated Florida legislature is the crew of crackpots that planned on awarding the state's electoral votes to Bush in 2000 if Gore officially won the recount, and created some of the most mind-boggling gerrymanders ever seen to "elect" Republican cronies to Congress and oust Democratic incumbents. So Florida lawmakers ain't exactly champions of uncorrupted electoral politics.

Here's an example of how the "no match" law worked: The Miami Herald reports about an engineering student from Florida named Jose Lopez-Sandin who tried registering to vote. Florida election officials rejected his application because his Social Security number belongs to a guy named Jose Lopez-Sandin. So why would they reject the form because his Social Security number is that of himself, who has the same name as himself? Because the smartypants election officials who took his election form typed his first name as Joseph rather than Jose - which ensured it would be rejected for having a different name than that on his Social Security records.

This isn't even the only error like this. Some of the voter applications that were rejected before last year's election still haven't been cleared up over a year later. If your form is rejected, you're supposed to get a letter informing you of this so you can clear it up. But many people were never sent a letter.

Finally, voters became fed up enough with this incompetence and deliberate bungling that they sued over the new law. Now a federal judge has ordered Florida to stop enforcing this law. The court said the law has resulted in "actual harm to real individuals" and that this statute violates federal voting rights laws.

But it's too late to stem the damage that's already happened because so many folks in Florida were denied their right to vote last year. After Ann Coulter had voted in the wrong precinct, 14,000 eligible voters couldn't even vote in the right precinct. That's the Florida GOPstapo's idea of "fair."


Detainee nearly tortured to death

If the Bush regime is so cocksure that someone is a terrorist, why don't they, like, put him on trial, you know? That way they wouldn't be illegally detaining him without a trial for 5 years.

For years, a British resident named Benyam Mohammed, now 28, has been held at Guantanamo Bay after American authorities claimed he trained at an Al-Qaeda camp - an accusation his supporters deny. Before he was transferred to the Guantanamo Bay death camp, interrogators tortured him by slicing his penis with a scalpel. He also claims he was transported to a secret prison where authorities injected him with heroin so he would become addicted to the drug. Lately, British authorities have demanded that Benyam Mohammed be freed from his extrajudicial detention.

Now it's been reported that the detainee has been driven so insane by the torture that he's smeared feces on the wall of his cell and is about to commit suicide. Following his smearing of the fecal matter, guards at Gitmo compounded the problem by cutting off the water supply to his cell, creating more unhealthy conditions.

Is he a terrorist or not? Maybe he is, maybe he isn't. I'm not the judge or jury in his case, so I can't make that judgment. I say that if he's a terrorist, imprison him with no amusements. But what if he isn't? Like I said, they need to put him on trial to find out if he's innocent or guilty.

I know they'll say that they can hold him without a trial because they regard him as an enemy combatant - more or less a prisoner of war. If that's the case, then shouldn't the Geneva Conventions apply? The Geneva Conventions prohibit torture of prisoners of war. You can't very well claim he's an enemy combatant just to deny him a speedy trial, while claiming he's not an enemy combatant just so the Geneva Conventions don't apply. You can't have it both ways - though the Bush regime has tried doing exactly that.

Torturing someone who's either a prisoner of war or a detainee who hasn't been convicted of a crime isn't exactly what I call displaying leadership in human rights. Then again, America is ruled by an incompetent neo-Nazi dictator, so what do you expect? No democratic government would allow a situation like this to go on for so long.

Doctors have found that Benyam Mohammed suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder because of the torture. The legal director of a group that represents him says he's never even seen a Death Row prison - where people who have actually been convicted of murder are held - where conditions are that insufferable.

But if the government disobeys the Geneva Convention and the Constitution in one setting, you know it has to be going on at other government facilities too - or it soon will be. What makes you think the government will break the law at one place and then stop? Today it's foreign detainees. Tomorrow it'll be the average American accused of merely having the "wrong" opinions.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Army loses guns and trucks

How do you just lose 12,000 weapons?

I don't know. But the U.S. Army somehow managed to do just that.

Early in the war, 190,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles and automatic pistols that were supposed to go to the new Iraqi government mysteriously vanished. The guns were believed to have fallen into the hands of the insurgents that the war attracted. Now the Army has lost track of yet more items - including 12,000 weapons, 2,100 brand spanking new electricity generators, and 6 garbage trucks. The weapons include numerous guns and terrifying grenade launchers.

How the hell do you lose a garbage truck anyway? It's not like the garbage truck fell down behind the cushions of the armchair or got placed in the wrong album jacket.

I bet some contractor who was cozy with the Bush regime had something to do with this. If I was a gambling man, I'd wager that the contractor is probably losing the weapons intentionally just so the war continues and they make more money. That's so like the Bushists. There's been a story like this every so often throughout the course of the war, so somebody's obviously up to something.


Conservatives show support for hoaxster

Who's the victim of conservative Francisco Nava's assault hoax? Is it all the progressives like you and me who had to face suspicious stares because we big, bad libs were considered guilty until proven innocent of the nonexistent assault? Is it Princeton University for having to spend resources investigating an attack that never happened?

According to conservatives, the victim of this hoax is none of these. Conservatives - being the big hoaxheads they are - claim the real victim is Mr. Nava himself.

Peep this blog at the Daily Princetonian's website:

A commenter on that blog said folks owe support to Nava even after he created this hoax. The commenter declared that "we still need to continue showing our support for Nava. He is the true victim in all this, and he needs all the help and encouragement he can get."

Encouragement to do what? Launch another hoax like this? Give me a break!

Obviously the guy who posted that comment was conservative: Earlier he made an entry on that blog arguing that the university had a double standard that discriminated against conservatives in investigating allegations of physical or other attacks. This despite the fact the university had started the investigation against the faked assault on Nava immediately. (I bet now conservatives wish the university hadn't.)

Also, it turns out that when he was in high school Nava wrote a death threat against gays. How in the fuckity-fuck did this loon ever get into one of the most prestigious universities in America after behavior like this? Well, his high school was an expensive boarding school, so that shows you that he's lived a privileged, spoiled life - so he could have probably gone to any university he wanted thanks to his life of privilege. Less opulent students have to settle for community college (if that).

Attack on conservatives found to be hoax

Modern American conservatism is an ideology built on lies. The supposed welfare abuse pandemic of the early '90s that was played up by talk-shit radio as an excuse to screw the poor was a hoax. The same goes for the phony anecdotes about the alleged excesses of environmental regulators (like the made-up story about the farmer who got sent to prison for accidentally killing a rat with his tractor). This is also the case with conservatives' so-called success stories after the mid-'90s. For instance, the supposed "miracle economy" that followed right-wing policies a decade ago was also a big fraud. Hell, all of these things are lies. Not just lies, but filthy, bloody lies. And the media was complicit in every single one of them.

The ongoing fraud by the conservative intelligentsia continues at Princeton University. A student named Francisco Nava, who serves as an official of a socially conservative anti-sex organization called the Anscombe Society, recently claimed he was the victim of a politically motivated physical assault in the surrounding township. The alleged attack followed what appeared to be a series of threatening e-mails sent to Nava, other Anscombe Society officials, and noted conservative professor Robert P. George.

The Daily Princetonian, a student newspaper at the university, initially reported the assault as if it was real. I can tell you that if I had heard of the alleged incident, I would have been almost certain right away that it was a hoax, because I know from past experience how conservatives operate. Not only does the right-wing thought police game the system, but they make shit up outright. I know this, because I was falsely accused by conservatives at my local university of criminal acts. (In one incident I used self-defense after I was attacked first.) However, the Daily Princetonian didn't seem to want to dig any deeper into the apparent assault or e-mail threats against members of the Princeton community.

One of the accounts used to send the e-mails used the name of a student apparently chosen at random, but that student was found to have nothing to do with the threats.

Naturally, the wingnutosphere went ballistic over the alleged attacks and flooded editorial pages and blogs with reams of editorializing about how evil we big, mean libs were for assaulting the poor, innocent, chaste Anscombe Society. They cried that the police weren't investigating Nava's "plight" thoroughly enough.

Well, the cops have investigated. But conservatives aren't gonna like the results of this probe.

When the case started to get a little too hot for him to handle, Nava finally admitted that he made up the assault. Not only that, but it was also Nava who sent the threatening e-mails - to the professor, to his fellow Anscombe Society officials, and to himself. All to evoke sympathy for the conservative cause.

This is the best conservatives can do?

Of course, charges haven't been filed against Nava. Aren't there laws against making false police reports and inducing panic? Not only that, but Nava impersonated another student when he sent the e-mails!

This hoax ought to just destroy whatever credibility the modern conservative movement still had (which wasn't much). But the media outside of Princeton hasn't picked up on the part about it being a hoax (even though they wasted no time in covering the initial assault report). This despite the fact that a racist incident at a university in my area was called a hoax by right-wing columnists even after it was proven that it wasn't a hoax.

When the nonexistent assault against Francisco Nava was first reported, Nava said he hoped Princeton University would show the nonexistent assailants that "intimidation doesn't work." How ironic. If the media gets on the ball in reporting that the episode was a hoax, that would show conservatives that their intimidation doesn't work.


Perfume tycoons found guilty of slavery

I guess justice can still be won in America - if you scratch and claw your way to it.

At a mansion in an exclusive Long Island neighborhood, a multimillionaire couple who owned the Royal Mirage perfume brand held 2 Indonesian women as slaves, forcing them to work as housekeepers for 21 hours a day while physically and psychologically torturing them.

But now the couple has been convicted of all 12 charges in a federal indictment that accused them of offenses such as conspiracy, involuntary servitude, and harboring aliens. They may face up to 40 years in the slammer. I hope they serve every second of it - but lawyers say they'll probably receive a lot less prison time. (Guess they can't cramp the poor multimillionaires' style too much, can they?)

The dour couple was arrested back in May after it was found that they seized the housekeepers' passports and refused to pay them for their work. Prosecutors said the couple subjected the enslaved women to an assortment of tortures, including throwing scalding water at them, making them eat 25 hot chili peppers at once, forcing them to eat their own vomit, and cutting them behind the ears with a knife. It only ended when one of the women fled.

That multimillionaires would enslave housekeepers just shows how out of control all the greed and meanness is.

Luckily, slavery is illegal in almost every country in the world. (I'm sure it's illegal in Indonesia as it is in most places.) Slavery is allowed in practice in a few nations, but generally these are countries that the Bush regime considers its "democratic" allies. The next step America must take is to cut off trade with countries with bad human rights records. (Of course, as long as Bush is in power, that means America would have to cut off trade with itself, but that's another matter.)


Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Conservative Fool Of The Day is...Joe Lieberman!

The man who calls himself an "independent Democrat" has proven that he's neither!

You know, once it was clear that the Gore/Lieberman ticket had actually won the 2000 election, I put every effort into making sure this victory stuck (even though I voted for Nader). I even went to that post-election rally up by Cincinnati City Hall (which was crashed by rightists, much like the recent protest against the teen torture center in Milford, but that's another matter entirely). And what do we get in return?

Sources in the Democratic and Republican parties say Lieberman is about to issue his endorsement for President. Which independent or Democrat is this "independent Democrat" endorsing? None! He's endorsing...John McCain. That's right, he's backing a Republican, of all things!

I wouldn't hold it against Lieberman if he supported a Republican who was worth a damn. If John McCain had, say, circulated a petition against school uniforms and introduced a bill requiring a fart to be publicly issued into Mel Martinez's face by an anonymous individual deputized for the occasion, I'd be sitting here cheering the endorsement. But nope!

McCain used to have some credibility. But - as with Colin Powell - the cozier he's gotten with Bush and the Republican establishment, the further outside the realm of the reasonable he's drifted. McCain is the dude who said MoveOn "ought to be thrown out of this country." Later the senator expressed skepticism of the Constitution's ban of religious tests for public offices. Like Lieberman, McCain continues supporting the Iraq War, even as this has been the deadliest year yet of the 5-year conflict.

Funnily enough, because Lieberman has lost all his credibility by taking such an extreme stance in support of a war that most Americans have opposed all along, his endorsement won't help McCain a damn bit. Unapologetic backers of the Iraq War aren't really what voters today have an appetite for.

You're a conservafool, Joe! How does it feel to rank up there with Gary Nodler, Tom DeLay, and the rest of the fucked-in-the-brain crew who got entries during the heyday of the old Conservative Fool Of The Day blog?


Ollie North "charity" a scam

This story has been in the making for a few months now, but we haven't been able to follow it because it had so much number-crunching.

Since 2003, right-wing talking head Sean Hannity and Iran/Contra felon Oliver North have helped put together what they call Freedom Concerts - a series of concerts featuring country music superstars ostensibly to raise money for North's Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund. The Freedom Alliance is supposed to be a charity that includes this fund to provide college scholarships to children with a parent who was injured or killed in the war. In addition to the music, at least one of the concerts also featured speeches by Newt Gingrich, Rudolph Giuliani, and other luminaries of Bushism.

It turns out however that the Freedom Alliance has received an 'F' rating from a nonpartisan watchdog group for its scaminous ways.

A ticket to one of the Freedom Concerts cost $38 to $78. But only $4 - less than 11% of the cost of even the cheapest tickets - went to the Freedom Alliance. And the Freedom Alliance Scholarship Fund is itself only a tiny fraction of the Freedom Alliance. By my calculation, less than 6% of the Freedom Alliance's intake goes to the scholarship fund. Multiply 11% by 6% and you get 0.66% - which is about how much of the cost of a ticket goes towards the scholarships. (Actually less than that, because I rounded up to get the 11% and 6% figures.)

The Freedom Alliance spends almost 5 times as much on "printing and publications" as it does on the scholarship fund. It spends even more than that paying its own officials (I'm assuming that includes Ollie North) and consultants it hires.

Misleading folks into thinking most of the money would go to scholarships for military families when really it just lined North's own coffers led the American Institute of Philanthropy to give North's so-called charity an 'F' rating. A few other charities also fared poorly, but what the Freedom Alliance did was shockingly egregious.

Who would exploit the tragedy of the war by misleading the public like this just to award themselves a huge salary that's many times what most people in my city make? Ollie North is the man who sold rockets to Khomeini and lied to Congress about it, so do you really trust him anyway? Do you really trust Sean Hannity, after he tried blaming the Democrats for the Jack Abramoff scandal and has a persecution complex over stuff that happened to him 20 years ago? (He's as bad as the bullies I went to school with over dwelling on what happened 2 decades ago.)


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Creationist convicted in stabbing death

Stabbing people to death for having a differing opinion is the rightists' idea of a faith-based initiative.

Over in Australia, a 33-year-old Englishman has been sentenced to up to 5 years in jail for manslaughter after he stabbed a Scottish tourist in an altercation over creationism versus evolution. The victim and his girlfriend were supporting evolution, while the assailant was advancing creationism. The incident escalated throughout the evening into a shouting match at a pub. Later the incident subsided, but the perpetrator wouldn't let it go, and he attacked the victim with a knife.

Although the sentence has a maximum of 5 years, the religious militant will be eligible for release in just a bit more than a year. Then - if a Republican gets "elected" again - the United States will give him the red carpet treatment, just like the Republicans do for other terrorists (like the guy who blew up that Cuban airliner).


Friday, December 14, 2007

10-year-old arrested for cutting steak with knife

Weird how all my life I've been deceived into thinking steak knives were silverware, not weapons. I'm glad the right-wing educrats are finally setting me straight on that!

In Ocala, Florida, a 10-year-old girl was arrested and taken to juvenile detention because officials at her elementary school saw her cutting her steak at lunch with a tiny steak knife she brang from home.

I swear I am not making this up.

The school actually expects students to eat steak without cutting it.

The charge is - get this - possession of a weapon on school property, a felony. So now - if the school gets its way - it looks like the girl is going to be in juvenile hall until she turns 21 all because she tried using a steak knife for its intended purpose.

School officials cry that they had no choice but to arrest the student. The hell they didn't! Did a giant Allowed Cloud come along, pick up the knife, and threaten to slice their faces off if they didn't?

If there isn't a lawsuit over this, it'll be a miracle. Schools have no objection to ruining a 10-year-old's life over cutting a steak, while in another case in the same state they won't prosecute an 18-year-old for making terrorist threats, because they say the 18-year-old is a minor (even though the age of majority in Florida is 18 as it is in most of the country).

Man, the rightists who run America's schools are dumb!


A station from my youth sort of half-returns

Today at noon, a radio station I remember from around the time I was in junior high sort of half-returned - in name, at least - after a 21-year hiatus. It wasn't WCLU, I'm afraid, but at least it's a station I listened to occasionally back then.

Remember 96 Rock? It was a station in Cincinnati that (as the name implies) played rock music. Now this name has reappeared on its old frequency. The new 96 Rock launched today with Metallica's "Enter Sandman", followed by newer music that I didn't recognize. (I'm old.)

Unfortunately, the 96.5 frequency is now owned by Cumulus, so don't expect the new 96 Rock to be anywhere near as good as the old 96 Rock. Clueless owns stations in many formats, and it (like Crap Channel) blacklisted the Dixie Chicks from the country stations it owns, and the talk format that aired on 96.5 since last year was almost exclusively conservative, so that shows you where Clueless's mentality rests. Cumulus tried blaming the listeners for its decision to ban the Dixie Chicks from the 50 country stations it owned nationwide, but that was a bullshit excuse, because everybody I know who listens to country music thinks the Dixie Chicks were right to criticize the Bush regime. (With both Crap Channel and Clueless banning the Dixie Chicks from country radio, this blacklist was in force at the 2 largest radio station owners in America.)

No wonder Cumulus is named after a cloud - because that was an Allowed Cloud!

Just as unfortunately, radio in Cincinnati is run almost entirely by Crap Channel, Clueless, and Bombville, so don't expect any better stations to appear on a frequency that you can pick up clearly.


Reporter arrested for photographing fire

In Maumelle, Arkansas, a longtime newspaper reporter and cancer patient has been arrested because he did his job. The journalist attempted to photograph a small house fire and was promptly arrested by a state trooper with a bad attitude.

During the arrest, the reporter was not read his rights. (That happened to me once.) The cop said he saw the press credential on the reporter's windshield and on the ID around his neck but that it was meaningless. This despite the fact that state police had earlier advised the journalist that he would be allowed to photograph all fires and accidents as long as he had his credentials with him.

He was handcuffed and forced to stand still for a half-hour until he could barely move. Then, when he squirmed to ease the unbearable pain, the trooper yelled at him to stop resisting. The cop then seized a $1,500 camera from the reporter and handled it very roughly.

This is how they treat a 59-year-old man who had cancer and takes kidney medication?

Because of the state trooper's bad attitude and arbitrary actions, the reporter wasn't allowed to see firefighters' heroism in saving the house from further damage and rescuing the residents. Because he didn't see the firefighters' efforts, he wasn't able to report on them.

Naturally, rightists are using comment sections of websites to rush to the discourteous trooper's defense and attack the reporter.


Thursday, December 13, 2007

Another red flag

I'm not a fan of large, intrusive government, but I think the IRS regulations should be enforced consistently and not selectively.

I've been going through the Wikipedia articles about radio stations and found this entry about a Seattle station:

I'll quote the article in case it changes: "KTTH (770 AM) is a conservative talk radio station, owned by Bonneville International ..."

Anyone who's deeply involved in the American commercial radio industry should see a red flag popping up right there. I know there's loads of right-wing stations all over the country, but this one in particular caught my attention the moment I saw the article.

I'll see if anyone else here knows what the problem is. Anyone???

Gitmo computers used to vandalize Wikipedia

Wikipedia can be a useful resource, but as long as wingnuts are permitted to infiltrate it, its usefulness diminishes. I've had several legitimate edits to Wikipedia entries reversed instantly by the right-wing thought police, while real vandalism is allowed to stick around for weeks. A recent example of this is when I edited the entry about a certain American statesman to remove false information that came from a discredited right-wing book. When my edits were reverted, the excuse was that because the information I deleted was in a book it must have been correct. (So if I claimed in my book that pi is 5, does that mean you can edit Wikipedia to say this is true?)

Now it's been revealed that government computers at Guantanamo Bay are being misused to vandalize Wikipedia. U.S. personnel at Gitmo used the computers that are paid for by the American taxpayers to abuse Wikipedia to defend Gitmo's practices and to call Fidel Castro a transsexual. These edits weren't made by new military recruits having fun with the computers in their spare time either. The edits were a coordinated propaganda effort promulgated by Guantanamo Bay's public affairs office.

How adult.

Last year, someone wrote in the Wikipedia article about the Cuban leader: "Fidel Castro is an admitted transexual [sic]." A website called Wikileaks found that the edits traced to Gitmo. The edits included not only those to the articles about Gitmo and Castro but also cars, football, and TV shows.

What this amounts to is a full-fledged government propaganda program to deceive - paid for with taxpayer money. Knowing this, I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if the lies I've had to delete from Wikipedia were placed by the government.

Apparently, Gitmo's public affairs people have also freeped sites besides Wikipedia, such as comment sections of blogs.

Why doesn't Cuba evict the U.S. from Guantanamo Bay? I'm not saying it should be evicted because someone insulted Castro but because of what else goes on there. Even if Cuba's not a human rights giant, that doesn't justify allowing the U.S. to detain people without a trial for years under harsh conditions. As one of the articles about this story shows, there are documented cases of the U.S. holding people at Gitmo without a trial for over 5 years who were juveniles when their detention began. If they think these guys are terrorists, why won't they put them on trial to find out if they really are?

I'm sure you've heard someone say this before, but it's gone on long enough now.