Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's open thread

2008 in review: The GOP utterly lostimated.

Celebrate the past year's hilarious political developments by popping open a few kegs and contributing to yet another open thread!

Teacher files frivolous suit over "discrimination"

This is "discrimination" how???

According to the Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati's official newspaper, an elementary school teacher in Ohio is suing teachers' unions for discrimination she claims she suffered. I'm sure there's much more to the story than the article reported, because the piece so reeks of anti-labor bias, but I'll have to go by the facts they reported for now.

The federal suit claims the unions discriminated against her by spending union dues on causes she disagrees with.

So now it's "discrimination" if someone spends money in a way you don't like? Does that mean that if I shop at a store whose owner decides to donate their revenues to right-wing causes, I can sue? If you can sue a union, why can't you sue a corporation?

And if you can sue unions, does this mean you can sue the Archdiocese of Cincinnati for spending money from the collection plate on blatant anti-union propaganda? Clearly the archdiocese is against organized labor. It can deny it all it wants, but the fact that it would publish such a piece proves where it stands.

The work-for-less intelligentsia is helping the teacher fight her case. The misnamed National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is even giving her free legal help.

I know there's two sides to every issue, and reasonable people can disagree. I'm not saying you can't have views that don't square with unions'. But the disgraceful Far Right brain trust is once again turning a culture war matter into an economic one - with the goal of harming the working public. That's always their goal. All of their demagoguery on social issues has the ultimate aim of undermining economic justice.

I'd like to see laws passed against frivolous suits like this. If it gets to the point where activist judges start siding with those who'd use cases like this to undermine economic fairness, then we need to take a serious look at passing a constitutional amendment.

Innocents abducted under "medical" guise

"Only in BushAmerica...The land of missed opportunity..."

Government and private agencies all over the country long ago made it their policy to "disappear" innocent Americans under the guise of psychiatry - often because of their political views, but sometimes because of family disputes or some other matter. And this scourge has only gotten worse.

America's psychiatric "hospitals" are full of people physically restrained or secluded for years for no reason - despite the fact that laws and court rulings explicitly forbid perpetual lockups.

In Virginia, a man was locked in a tiny suite for 15 years. In Connecticut and Florida, detainees were literally tethered to furniture for years at a time. Also in Florida, a man was strapped to a bed or wheelchair for over 2 years.

Federal law says seclusion, restraints, and druggings can only be used in psychiatric facilities in emergencies, and even then for no more than 24 hours at a time. Even the Supreme Court has ruled it unconstitutional to restrain people for extended periods. But "hospitals" evade this law by signing off on these restraints every 24 hours indefinitely.

There ought to be a law. There should be a federal ban on using restraints, period. But I think psychiatric abductions should be halted altogether.

Meanwhile, Dick Cheney roams free.


There's a tear in their beards...

My fact-finding mission in North Carolina and Virginia lasted less than 3 days, but I'm still recovering from it! I earned it, and I was going to make the best of it!

When I got to my motel near Lynchburg, Virginia, I found it fair to protest the Far Right. Everything in Lynchburg is named after Jerry Falwell. Even one of the main roads is called Jerry Falwell Parkway for its most infamous citizen. Also, it appears as if Lynchburg may be the biggest city in America - not counting suburbs and consolidated city-counties - that McCain won. (I'm talking the city here, not the whole metropolitan area. Lynchburg is an independent city, but it's city-sized, so I don't count it as a consolidated city-county.)

So if something's gotta get ru, why not make sure it happens in Lynchburg?

At this inn, I noticed that the cover of the phone book was graced with an ad for a local right-wing talk radio station. The ad featured photos of Bill O'Reilly and Dr. Laura - some of the most flatulent forces of right-wing hypocrisy.

It was immediately clear what to do. I grabbed my pen and drew mustaches and beards on both:

Later it occurred to me that Dr. Laura bears an overpowering resemblance to that drawing of the woman with orange hair that was all over the Cincinnati Yellow Pages in the '80s. In my day, I had defaced that drawing in the same uproarious manner.

The funny thing is, the phone books in Lynchburg come out in October, so this is still early in that directory's lifespan.

I bet there is a tear in their beards, because they're probably still crying about the election results.

Readers want Bunning to resign

I plan to post a new 'Pail Poll this weekend, but the results from last week are in, and they ain't good for ol' Jimbo.

Most of you want Bunning to resign his Senate seat because of his scandal in which he abused his foundation's nonprofit status to make a profit. (The national media has ignored this scandal.) You voted 9 to 4 to oust the embattled Republican senator.

You mean there's actually 4 whole people in Kentucky who like Bunning? I think I know who they are: They're probably the people who used to attack me at school.

Nagged in Nags Head

(I wrote up this piece Monday night - the second evening of my road trip. So read it now before it reads you!)

Near Lynchburg, VA (12/29/08) - I'm still on my excellent fact-finding mission, and today I found some unfortunate facts about the takeover by the Far Right of a resort island on North Carolina's Outer Banks.

I ate lunch at the horrendous Dirty Dick's tourist trap, but that's not what's at issue here.

Rather, the island containing Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, and Kitty Hawk emitted some rather unsavory Allowed Clouds.

For starts, when we drove onto the island, an angry red traffic sign scolded, "ALL FIREWORKS ILLEGAL."

Suuuuure. You honestly think I wouldn't have violated that Allowed Cloud by now if I lived in the area?

Hey, no biggie - just as long as I can easily defy it.

Of greater consequence may be the snooty attitude regarding "their" beach. The fact of the matter is, oceans are public property. Laws throughout the eastern U.S. also establish beaches as public up to the point where plant and animal life are land-based. Because our beaches belong to the people, public access must be provided.

Unfortunately the "all land is private lolololololz" ideologues don't grasp this concept.

I tried looking for a spot from which to access the public beach in the Outer Banks. I work hard, and I'm a member of the public, so I have a right to use a public beach. But almost every access point was emblazoned with a sign screaming about how it was private. Public access points often had no parking. I kept passing up ones that had parking, because highway authorities had placed unrelated traffic signs in front of the signs for them - in order to keep people from finding them.

The beachfront region was also marred by sprawl, but the insistence by wealthy residents of monopolizing a public beach undermines the sprit of American ingenuity just as much.

Other than this, a bippin' good time has been had by all on our fact-finding trip!

Shitty radio abounds (imagine that!)

(I wrote up this entry Sunday night while I was out of town. So read it and believe it!)

Greenville, NC (12/28/08) - When I embarked (arf-arf!) on my exciting fact-finding mission today, my heart sank at an unfortunate development. I'm not referring to the endless government surveillance along US 58 near Danville, Virginia - though I could be.

Rather, I speak of the dour radio that confronted us from the get-go.

Public affairs programming deserves more time on radio - as radio uses the public's airwaves. But identical authoritarian philippics airing on 3 stations in the same city at the same time isn't what I call public affairs.

At least 3 Cincinnati stations - WKRQ, WUBE, and WSWD - were airing the exact same program inveighing against the eeeeevils of drink.

The 3 stations are owned by the same company - Bonneville - on the same band in the same market.

That's "diversity of voices"?

This never even would've been legal before the right-wing Telecommunications Act of 1996. Or if the states had opted to shore up the removal of ownership caps.

Hey, if you're going to air a program-length editorial against alcohol, at least make sure your stations carry 3 different ones. At least that'd be more amusing.

It's fair to say 2 of the 3 stations were heritage outlets. They hadn't been great for years before Bonneville decimated them further, but this development is still a crying shame.

Blistex smells nice.

Realizing the radio business isn't improving from its wretched self (does anything ever?), I shut the radio off for most of the rest of the way to Greenville.

The new administration must make repeal of the '96 telcom law a priority. Either that or the states should reinstate ownership caps.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Welcome back to Kentucky. Bipping prohibited.

I got home from my fact-finding mission in the Southeast a couple hours ago, and I managed to find some facts!

When I got back to the hotel room each night of my trip, I worked on new entries for this blog, and I'll have those up shortly!

I bet the Far Right thought this blog had been killed off once and for all because of the lack of entries the past few days - but I fooled them!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Welcome to North Carolina. Bipping mandatory.

I'm in Greenville, North Carolina! Man, this trip rules!

But bipping is mandatory in this state. So I have opted to bip throughout my exciting fact-finding mission.

Naturally, rain looms today, despite what the dumbfucks of the media claimed beforehand.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Open thread

My fact-finding mission in the Southeast gets under way tomorrow morn, and odds are that I won't be able to post here until I get home sometime Tuesday.

This blog gets thousands of visitors daily, so I sorely expect to find this entry full of comments by the time I return! Gab about anything: Cars. Money. Beer. Toilets. Anything!

Just think! No conservatives for 3 days!

Chip the Magic Racist

Chip Saltsman, 40, is a right-wing operative who has chaired the Republicans in Tennessee. And he's as vicious as the rest of the right-wing brain trust (such as it is).

Saltsman is now a candidate to become head of the Republican National Committee. He's endorsed by Mike Huckabee, Bill Frist, and other sorryasses.

To celebrate Christmas, Saltsman gave a CD to RNC members that included an unfunny parody of the song "Puff The Magic Dragon" titled "Barack The Magic Negro." The tune was first aired on Rush Limpballs's program last year.

The Republicans sure are obsessed with race, aren't they?

If I failed to go back in time to retroactively prevent someone else from saying something racist, I'd be assailed by critics as the worst bigot since Trent Lott. But Chip Saltsman gets a free pass for this?

Worse, Saltsman now defends the song. Apologists for the parody keep praising it as just a commentary on an earlier Los Angeles Times piece. But that's roo gas. The satire got played on talk-shit radio precisely because it has some appeal to right-wing listeners' racism.

This controversy speaks volumes about what's become of the GOP.

It's amazing that a few people try to unfairly play the race card against my blog and others' similar endeavors, but anything the Republicans do is considered "art" no matter how racist it is.


KHK recruited hundreds of miles away

This entry shows not only how out of control the Kids Helping Kids cult in Cincinnati was, but also that we must make sure it doesn't reopen.

I've learned that KHK was recruiting in Floyd County, Kentucky - with the school system's blessing. This is significant not only because there's plenty of counties in rural Kentucky that are far more right-wing than Floyd County is, but also because Floyd County is nowhere near Cincinnati! By road, it's about 200 miles.

Here's the school system's drug policy:

In addition to the usual right-wing drug testing language (which was once unheard of in American public schools) and stagy programmy propaganda about "signs and symptoms of substance abuse", the manual also lists KHK as a resource and gives its phone number.

You knew the cult recruited in schools in my area, but this story shows how far and wide the cult's influence must have ranged.

(More info:;

Internet censorship coming to a land near you

Prior restraint of websites already flourishes in America as well as Britain, but a British official wants it to expand to much more stifling levels.

Culture Secretary Andy Burnham told the Daily Telegraph that he wants to negotiate with the Obama administration to devise an Internet censorship system to give each website a rating, much like that which gags the movie industry.

Luckily, Obama won the American election - and not, say, Tommy Thompson. If a Republican had won, I think such a system would be almost a certainty. Then again, censorship didn't exactly diminish during the Clinton years.

How does this proposal differ from similar forms of speech suppression? The video game rating system in the U.S. was said at first to be voluntary, but some states and cities have placed the force of law behind it - thus making it a form of government censorship. Burnham's proposal would be more direct: Under this system, ISP's in both Britain and the United States would be required by law to place ratings on websites. Even sites like YouTube and Facebook would be required to remove "offensive" content within a government-mandated deadline.

Burnham, however, continues to fib about his right-wing motives. "This is not a campaign against free speech," he said. Um, yes it is. It very clearly is. It's interesting that this proposal was announced right when articles were emerging about the fact that more people were getting their news from independent websites. I guess government officials want to keep everyone captive to their propaganda outlets.

Well, guess what? I'm not putting a rating on my site. And if it gets blocked because of it, I will sue.

Someone on DU said it best: "Where did Labour get...All these folks with traumatic toilet training issues?"


Friday, December 26, 2008

Media bias watch: Bush credited for Ted Kennedy's health clinics

Sort of like how much of the evening news in mainland China is devoted to praising that country's regime, some in the American media are trying to do the same for Bush.

Not ones to let history go unrevised, the wingnuts' latest contention is that Bush - all by his lonesome - built countless health clinics in poor areas all over America.

Where are these new clinics then? I sure don't know of any expansion of such clinics in poor areas around here.

Actually, the first congressional champion of these clinics was Ted Kennedy, and most of the clinics were built before Bush took power. And Barack Obama introduced a bill to quadruple funding for this program. Apparently, however, Obama's bill didn't pass, because so many Republicans opposed it.

It would be laughable that the Bush era would be considered one of improvement in American health care - except it's really no laughing matter. I don't know if this media folktale about Bush's alleged flawlessness will achieve the same penetration as the "MIRACLE ECONOMY!!!" hoax of a few years back, but I'm sure they'll think of something else.

Nice to know your eyelashes will last

Now we know where the priorities of the FDA and the health industry are, huh?

The FDA has now approved the first prescription drug to enhance dull eyelashes. Like such a drug is really needed.

There's a skillion new drugs out there that may save lives or substantially curb major public health threats, but those have been waiting for years for FDA approval. But it takes no time at all for eyelash drugs that are purely cosmetic to be approved.

I can't believe such a drug was even developed. Drug companies like to say that their products are so expensive because they need to finance the development of new drugs to combat disease. Well, now we know what new drugs they're financing.

Thinning eyelashes are a serious public health menace, I guess.


Taliban blows up schools

Weren't these right-wing creeps supposed to have been ousted from power?

The Taliban is now banning 40,000 girls in one region of Afghanistan from enrolling in school, after a 14-month-long campaign in which the Taliban has blown up over 100 schools.

The locals say they must abide by the Taliban's rule.

Excuse me for a moment, but I thought the Taliban was supposed to have been defeated?

John Kerry was right when he said the Iraq War caused America to take its eye off the ball in Afghanistan.

It's not as if Bush's right-wing cohorts give a shit though. After Bush falsely stated that "we destroyed the Taliban in Afghanistan", Bill Frist and Mel Martinez wanted Afghanistan's new government to include Taliban members. So why was America even in Afghanistan if the Taliban was just going to be kept in power?


I know someone's going to notice sooner or later, so...

I don't try to be backwards and provincial on this blog, but sometimes it appears that way.

The Campbell County school system didn't exactly provide me with the best education, so even now I remain ignorant of things that every American should probably know.

But just this afternoon, I decided to get smart and briefly read up about some things. Maybe a few days too late, but better late than never. A lot of you won't even catch what I'm getting at here, but a lot of you will, and I can understand your point, as long as you're diplomatic about it.

I may have had a grade-Z formal education, but at least I did try to self-educate in order to avoid ill feelings. You may have been right to fault me for some things the past few days, but please don't fault me now.

I think I have a strong record that outweighs recent mistakes, and I do more with what I have than a lot of individuals did with the much wider opportunities that they've had.

Until now, there were certain things I thought I'd never have much reason to learn about if they seemed outside the world I know. I got set in some of my habits as a youth, but I guess you learn from experience. I can probably say that even with this matter, I'm no more provincial than most Americans were in 1990.

So, folks, just accept this for what it is.

Egotistical right-wing sheriff gets his own TV show

I've usually enjoyed the TV series 'Cops' ever since I was in high school, except when they do those preposterous drug warrior segments. But this is patently ridiculous.

I've mentioned Phoenix-area Sheriff Joe Arpaio before. He's the egotist who has boasted for years about feeding jail inmates spoiled bologna. Many of Arpaio's so-called crime-fighting techniques (some of which involve racial profiling) have been ineffective.

But now Fox is actually giving Arpaio his own reality TV show, titled 'Smile, You're Under Arrest'. And a lot of folks aren't smiling.

A network website describes Arpaio's show as a "high-energy prank show" in which real suspects with warrants are arrested in "elaborate comical stings."

But Joe Arpaio's not such a funny guy, as his misrule has seriously harmed individuals and cost taxpayers dearly.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Slow days loom!

Enjoy your holidays, because this blog is going to be slooooow until New Year's!

For one thing, I just removed the old computer desk. The desk was even closer to caving in than I thought, but it looks like I'll be able to salvage a shelf that was attached to the desk. The desk was only 8 years old, but they don't make things like they used to, as you know.

Until the new desk is hauled in, my work station is scattered about the floor, which makes putting together material for this blog all the more frustrating.

Also, next week my annual fact-finding mission looms. It's scheduled for December 28 to 30, and I've been planning it for weeks. This time I plan to go to North Carolina and Virginia, and I probably won't have access to a computer for 3 days.

It used to be that I didn't announce fact-finding missions ahead of time, for security reasons, but now I figure it can't do much harm.

The only fact I've found so far today is there are some slooooow days ahead for the 'Pail.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Open thread

It's another open thread, so I better find some comments here by the end of Christmas Day!

Otherwise I'll cry like the macho superman I am.

Utah bill would curb social engineering nonsense

I'm an economic populist first and foremost. But social engineering efforts by the Far Right keep hard-working Americans down almost as much as their economic engineering efforts do.

In Utah, it's illegal for people in a cohabiting relationship to become foster or adoptive parents. Most other U.S. states don't have such a policy.

Utah's policy is rather ludicrous - especially because the state has a shortage of potential adoptive and foster homes. And because other states get by relatively well without such a rule.

The Utah rule isn't some vestige from the 19th century. It became law in 2000, believe it or not!

Now, however, a Democratic lawmaker has introduced a bill to repeal Utah's ban on unmarried foster and adoptive parents.

But the Utah legislature remains so conservative that it probably won't take up this issue any time soon, beezweezerly enough.


Bush pardons fraudster

When Bill Clinton issued a series of last-minute pardons, Republicans stamped their feet and demanded a constitutional amendment to weaken presidential pardon powers.

Now Bush is abusing pardon powers outright, and nobody raises a peep.

Yesterday, Bush pardoned a Brooklyn real estate developer who scammed hundreds of poor homebuyers. The developer, Isaac Toussie, had been convicted of mail fraud and lying to HUD. He falsely claimed Whoopi Goldberg and other celebrities had endorsed his business.

Victims of Toussie's fraud are outraged at the pardon.

Why was a con man pardoned for preying on some of New York City's poorest people? Well, it helps that his daddy donated $28,500 to the Republicans this year.

Actually the Republicans were right 8 years ago: We should amend the Constitution to limit presidential pardons. Unchecked pardon power was actually a carryover from the days when America was ruled by the British crown. But the GOP doesn't dare advocate limiting pardon powers now.

Shockingly, Toussie was still able to find work as a real estate consultant even after his fraud convictions. This is yet another aspect of this story that shows that in modern America, everything is about who you know. People who are honest, knowledgeable, and hard-working can't find a job anywhere except Booger Burger, but a Republican con artist like this gets to keep their well-paying job.


City sued for harassing disabled homeless

City officials in Laguna Beach, California, really aren't in the holiday spirit, are they?

Right-wing city leaders have in effect criminalized being disabled and homeless - under the guise of an anti-sleeping ordinance. The city authorized sweeps of beaches and parks to harass, threaten, and arrest disabled homeless people.

All out of sheer meanness.

But now the ACLU is suing the city because the anti-sleeping ordinance is unconstitutional. The city of Laguna Beach had plenty of time to enact City Council's recommendations for dealing with homelessness, but it willfully failed to do so.

City leaders who supported cracking down on the homeless should also be prosecuted for crimes against humanity.


Congress to crack down on bailed-out banks

Yeah, sure they are.

I'll believe that when they do it.

The same bill had already been introduced earlier, but the Senate didn't even bother to take it up.

I agree with the DU member who said the morons in Congress should've demanded accountability before giving banks $700,000,000,000 of the taxpayers' hard-earned money.


Ernie the climate change skeptic ('Sesame Street' Wednesday)

Few would consider Ernie of 'Sesame Street' to be one of the world's great scientific minds. It seems that Ernie believes what artificial sweetener ads and Free Republic tell him - not what scientific reports say.

Don't get me wrong. Ernie's a nice guy and all. But he's been hoodwinked.

Why - like other climate change skeptics - he doesn't even believe that warm temperatures melt ice:

That sketch deals with the ruinment of Ernie's ice cube collection.

People thought I was weird because of the time I collected dried thorns off plants to use for self-defense in middle school, but ice cube collecting puts that to shame - especially because Ernie didn't even bother to keep his ice cube collection cold!

It's not like Bert is such a brainiac either. Notice how he thinks ice cubes should be placed in the refrigerator rather than the freezer.

But both members of the comedic duo are smarter than the Freeper droids. At least Ernie is smart enough to learn that the ice cubes melted instead of being stolen. The wingnut brain trust never learns and just repeats the same moronic ideas over and over for years.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Frosty defeats Grinch

It always gives me a great feeling inside when some petty crybaby gets the smackdown they so richly deserve!

In Anchorage, Alaska, some right-wing galoot complained to the city about a neighbor's giant snowman - even though the snowman created no harm to anyone. Apparently the complainant considered the snow giant to be demonic.

Every neighborhood seems to have a busybody who gripes about everything. They spend every summer calling the police on 10-year-olds who set off Fun Snaps, so I guess they need something to whine about in winter too.

Shockingly, city pen pushers actually ordered the man who built the snowman to take it down all because one person complained. So he did. He was threatened with arrest if he didn't.

But this War on Winter ended up backfiring. In the middle of the night, someone came along and built a new snowman that was much bigger than the one the city ordered taken down.

As Nelson of 'The Simpsons' would say: Ha ha!

As chestnuts roast over an open spit, let that story warm your heart!


Words that sting

"...just because you're too damn lazy..."

In high school, I thought that lecture was funny - because a teacher was angry and said "damn." Now I realize how hurtful it was intended to be.

I haven't had much recreation since I was a teenager. When I have, it's always in the back of my mind that it must really be for the amusement of the collective. I recall when this feeling first emerged, a few months after I was expelled from a Catholic high school, and now I know it's because that particular school intentionally breaks people down.

The lecture in question occurred one day in sophomore religion class when the priest who taught the course became exasperated because students' homework wasn't up to his standards. The harsh clergyman said to the class something like, "I don't want to hear any complaining about your grades just because you're too damn lazy to read the directions for a simple assignment!"

For a year or two after that, I actually believed I was lazy, all because he said that I and other students were.

Even now, I have to work harder to prove myself. It isn't just a matter of earning a living. It's also one of self-respect. I think it's obvious though that there's a dominant media culture that will never be satisfied no matter hard I or others like me work.

It's kind of like the wingnutosphere's recent hit piece against the autoworkers that was debunked. Right-wing blogs wanted people to think that hard-working autoworkers were lazy and greedy all because they didn't want to take a pay cut. Similarly, the attack on my industriousness in high school was to make me and the school community think I was living an easy life.

Those who tried to break me and my schoolmates are no different from those who denounce hard-working Americans in the labor force for insisting on decent pay.

Now that the priest's tirade and the discredited autoworker story prove we're all toiling on the same corporatist estate, maybe it's time we should all have a little fun! Let's not recreate for the benefit of our corporate masters, but let's share our fun with other hard workers!

Aspartame subsidy decried

As I told you last week, the state of New York wants to impose a 15% soft drink tax that exempts diet sodas - thereby creating a taxpayer subsidy for synthetic toxins like aspartame. Already, the so-called logic behind this exemption is becoming undone.

Numerous separate studies have linked diet soft drinks to diabetes, cancer, and other conditions. A 2005 study by the University of Texas Health Science Center and 2007 reports by the University of Massachusetts and Canada's University of Alberta all found that diet sodas were more likely to cause obesity than regular soft drinks. The Massachusetts study (which the media ignored) found diet sodas carry a risk of diabetes and heart disease.

The FDA and European regulators (agencies that are purchased and paid for by the frankenfoods industry) claim aspartame - known by the brand name NutraSweet - is safe. This claim is patently untrue. Numerous studies by American and European researchers have connected aspartame with cancer, organ damage, and headaches.

Still, a few individuals try to deny that artificial sweeteners are dangerous, and the media is always happy to give them face time. However, they never cite any studies showing that these products are safe - probably because there are none.

The artificial sweetener subsidy may be questioned here and elsewhere, but modern America isn't a society in which science usually prevails. If the proposal to give diet soft drinks a free ride passes, that'll seem to legitimize it and further marginalize dissenters - and the cycle will continue. Kind of like with the Sudafed logs.

And this is how societies end.

Comcast cuts MSNBC

Comcast makes Storer look passable in comparison, don't they?

It's hard to claim that all the cable news and commentary channels don't lean to the right to at least some degree, but everyone knows Fox News Channel is the leader in right-wing cable commentary. Despite MSNBC's overall conservative lean, at least MSNBC has a few progressive commentators.

For years, I've been subjected to a right-wing plen-T-plaint that claims Fox News Channel is on fewer cable systems than CNN or MSNBC despite receiving higher ratings. This I doubt. For starts, a string of motels in the Midwest removed CNN but kept Faux, so I strongly doubt that CNN is on more systems than Pox. For another thing, I've yet to see any ratings that show Fox beating CNN. If the ratings show this, it's probably because they're skewed or because there's such a small sample size. (Recently there was a thread on a radio board about a county in Kentucky where the top-rated radio station is one you can't even pick up. That shows how accurate rating surveys are.)

Now the yeezlypops at the wretched Comcast are removing MSNBC but keeping Fox News Channel. In some Comcast markets (if not all), Comcast has removed MSNBC from its basic cable tier - but Faux remains.

Conservatives are complaining about Fox being on fewer cable systems than its competitors, even though the largest cable company in America has removed competitors from basic cable and kept Fox?

Gee, no bias at Comcast, huh? (That's sarcasm!)

Today, almost all cable systems in the U.S. are monopolies awarded by local governments. And we all know which party's held the purse strings for 28 years, so that's part of the problem right there.


Church officials want "Hokey Pokey" criminalized

No, I'm not making this up.

I had involvement with the Catholic Church throughout my youth, but the Church's bureaucracy has now proven more than ever how out of touch with reality they are.

The song "Hokey Pokey" - which is called "Hokey Cokey" in Britain - has long been a standard at children's parties. For years, it was sung on 'The Uncle Al Show', a Cincinnati-based children's TV program. It's all very harmless, and it's hard to imagine anyone ever getting offended by it.

But in Scotland, Church officials and politicians want the song banned, because they call it "anti-Catholic." They want anyone who sings "Hokey Cokey" to be arrested and prosecuted under the hate crime laws.

They claim the song was written in 18th century Britain to make fun of Catholic church services. That however is complete fabrication. The tune was actually written in the 1940s to provide inoffensive entertainment for Idaho tourists.

Some sources suggest the song's title came from the expression "hocus pocus", but that's questionable. It's also been suggested that "hocus pocus" is a mocking corruption of a Latin phrase used by priests during Mass. That too is probably an urban legend.

It's ironic that Church officials would say "Hokey Pokey" is a hate crime, for there are many high-ranking officials in the Church who hate various groups themselves. They hate Muslims and gays, yet they claim "Hokey Pokey" is a hate crime!

This is on par with Don Wildmon organizing pickets of Sesame Street Live performances following his claim that Bert and Ernie are gay.

The European Union allows governments to persecute Muslims (more on that later), while it also lets countries throw people in jail for singing a tame children's party song? The EU also extradited an Austrian cartoonist to Greece to face ridiculous "blasphemy" charges, so one can't help but worry that punishment is in store for those who defy the "Hokey Pokey" commissars.

If it's happening in Scotland, it'll be going on in America before you know it. Intolerant Church bureaucrats accuse others of intolerance as a means of projection. Were these officials not so narrow-minded themselves, they never would've made such a stink over a charming little song associated with kids' TV shows.


Monday, December 22, 2008

Santa Cruz! Midland! It's a great place to start!

Metro Mike lives, everyone!

That's a reference to a project following the 1988 presidential election that ranked all of America's metropolitan areas based on the percentage of votes each major candidate got. If I remember correctly, Fort Walton Beach, Florida, was Mad Dog Bush's best area, but for the life of me I can't remember what Dukakis's best area was.

Now, 20 years later, I've put together a ranking like this based on the 2008 election! I've ranked all 364 metropolitan areas - not counting the 2 in Alaska, because the website I got these from doesn't break down Alaska results by county equivalent.

Obama's best area is Santa Cruz, California. This list of his top 20 areas shows a disproportionate number of college towns:

1. Santa Cruz, CA
2. Santa Fe, NM
3. San Francisco, CA
4. Pittsfield, MA
5. Santa Rosa, CA
6. Boulder, CO
7. Laredo, TX
8. Madison, WI
9. Ithaca, NY
10. Honolulu, HI
11. Durham, NC
12. Ann Arbor, MI
13. San Jose, CA
14. Burlington, VT
15. McAllen, TX
16. Washington, DC
17. Salinas, CA
18. Trenton, NJ
19. Chicago, IL
20. Iowa City, IA

McCain's best area is Midland, Texas, which is near one of the home bases of the Bush crime family. McCain's top 20 is exclusively Southern, except for the areas in Utah and Idaho:

1. Midland, TX
2. Provo, UT
3. Amarillo, TX
4. St. George, UT
5. Gainesville, GA
6. Odessa, TX
7. Abilene, TX
8. Cleveland, TN
9. Idaho Falls, ID
10. Logan, UT
11. Fort Walton Beach, FL
12. Dothan, AL
13. Wichita Falls, TX
14. Longview, TX
15. San Angelo, TX
16. Houma, LA (home of the fascist school uniform policy)
17. Dalton, GA
18. Panama City, FL
19. Morristown, TN
20. Decatur, AL

I don't know what the best areas for the third party candidates are, for the website I saw lumps them all into "other."

Cincinnati ranks #260 for Obama and #101 for McCain. (The exurbs speak!)

I made this!

A pure work of video genius!

The Eyewitness Cam likes to be funny. And I do too. It's a diversion from the usually serious nature of this blog.

So we've created this hilarious parody video to entertain you:

That's a spoof of the classic bumper played before CBS special programming in the '70s and '80s.

Psychiatrist probed for Paxil payoffs

In very few places other than the fucked-up right-wing Bizarro World of psychiatry would it be considered acceptable for Big Pharma to pay doctors to promote a drug without these payments being disclosed.

Dr. Charles Nemeroff is a psychiatrist at Emory University who is reportedly an expert on depression. But now he's under fire for getting paid millions by Paxil maker GlaxoSmithKline to give what Glaxo calls "product talks."

In response to a U.S. Senate investigation, the university admitted that Nemeroff failed to disclose "substantial speaking fees from pharmaceutical companies to Emory." As a result of this scandal, Nemeroff stepped aside as head of Emory's psychiatry department - and the National Institutes of Health froze funding for a depression study by Nemeroff.

Have the payoffs to Nemeroff compromised his research? Well, a popular book that describes numerous drugs and their supposed benefits has a chapter on Paxil coauthored by Nemeroff. The chapter seems to portray Paxil as a miracle drug, a cure for all that ails this big, mean world that the psychiatric industry doesn't understand.

Nemeroff praises Paxil despite the fact that Paxil has actually been found to have serious side effects including suicidal behavior.

It's not known how many more stories like this there'll have to be before Big Pharma has to clean up its act once and for all.


Plane crash victim was warned of sabotage

After the highly suspicious plane crash that claimed the life of election fraud witness Michael Connell, more details are emerging.

We already knew Connell was threatened by Karl Rove for refusing to take the fall for Republican election fraud. It now turns out that Connell had been specifically warned of sabotage to his plane.

WOIO-TV in Cleveland reported that Connell "was apparently told by a close friend not to fly his plane because his plane might be sabotaged."

I'm not naive enough to expect a thorough investigation though. All 5 members of the National Transportation Safety Board are Bush political appointees. There's also been a media cover-up: When the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported the crash, it made no mention of Connell testifying in the election fraud suit.

But I do think it's now beyond a reasonable doubt that it was sabotage by someone in the Republican ranks. By precisely who is yet to be determined.


"Foolproof" traffic cams fooled

In postdemocratic America, you have to watch your own every move to stay out of trouble. But sometimes even that's not enough.

Traffic enforcement cameras - which are frequently abused to Make Money for the well-connected firms that operate them - lay this point bare.

Apologists for traffic cams say the devices are foolproof. Indeed, the cameras are considered so infallible that many motorists who have been wrongly ticketed (despite being nowhere near the camera) have never been able to clear their names.

But now a new pastime in Maryland shows just how gullible the cameras are. It seems that some local high school students have gotten the bright idea that they can make phony replicas of their teachers' license plates, paste them over the plates on their own cars, and zip through the traffic cams at law-bustin' speeds.

The camera snaps a photo of the plate - and a speeding ticket gets mailed to the teacher, even though the teacher is innocent.

Teachers aren't the only victims. Other students are too.

It's unclear how much success victims have had fighting these bogus citations. One official admitted that this hobby will damage public confidence in the traffic cams.

I never had confidence in this program to begin with. Once you've seen that there's a whole system in place to "get" you no matter how innocent you are, it's hard to see why anyone ever thought the cameras were perfect.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Bailed-out banks still use corporate jets

Must be nice to be a rich bank or insurance company. I guess there's no strings attached for financial institutions that got free bailout money from us taxpayers, judging by the fact that they're still not selling off their corporate jet fleets that enable their execs to fly in style.

Six financial firms that each got a gimme worth billions still fly their own fleets of jets - many of which are used for top execs' personal trips.

Insurance giant AIG still has 7 planes in its fleet, for instance, and Bank of America has 9.

This follows the discovery in October that AIG spent thousands on a hunting trip in England for its top execs - even while the company was begging for bailout dough. One of the AIG bosses boasted, "The recession will go on until about 2011 - but the shooting was great today and we are relaxing fine."


Another good health poster

Since this is the time of year when things get the most boogery to spoil your holidays, I've found another fine old poster that took seriously the threat of contagious respiratory illnesses.

Common colds should be taken seriously. Many Americans who are my age remember when they were. That was before the greed-driven health care system conditioned everyone into believing otherwise.

And when this poster was made even before my time, public health was taken seriously back then too:


This poster makes it very clear: If you get a cold, "CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN." I still trust the hydrogen peroxide treatment, but I know many folks refuse to try it, because it's never been advocated in any sugar-free gum commercials. (The state of New York is about to give aspartame a taxpayer subsidy, so public health obviously isn't a high priority anymore like it was in the days of that poster.)

I also wouldn't worry about a solitary boogie dripping out. But if the more vexing symptoms set in, I certainly would see a doctor. That poster was right. I think that if I'd seen a doctor, I wouldn't have developed bronchitis several years back.

It's pretty bad that society now places a higher priority on cosmetic procedures for the opulent than on serious respiratory diseases that can strike anyone. But these days, money talks.

When Cheney tried to bite Gerald Ford

I saw this photo a while back, and everyone said I should write about it, because it's so uproarious:


That's a photo from 1975 of Donald Rumsfeld, Gerald Ford, and Dick Cheney together in the Oval Office. Cheney and Rumsfeld of course occupied important positions in the Ford administration - giving them a chance to consolidate their power even a generation ago.

As a side note, the elder Bush is not pictured here, but Ford later appointed him as CIA director. Bush was so paranoid that he believed Rumsfeld was plotting to destroy his political career. (For all I know, maybe he was.) But that's another topic entirely.

The funny thing about this photo is Cheney's pose. (That's Cheney on the right.) The sorry-assed goofball has his hand on his gut, and like an angry animal, he's baring his teeth at President Ford (who is standing in the middle).

Yes, Sure Shot Cheney is showing the Leader of the Free World that Ultra-Bite smile!

When I look at this photo, I feel like saying to Ford, "Watch out, Jerry, he's about to bite you!"

As for ol' Rumsfeld, he has this excited look on his face like he's about to watch a good boxing match.

The aftermath of this photo is unknown. It's not known if Cheney was successful at mauling the Commander-in-Chief, or if Ford got out of the way in time.

This picture is actually symbolic of the way Dick Cheney later returned to bite America squarely on its rump.

Bunning hypocrisy

You can't make up this shit, people. You just can't.

We all know that right-wing Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Kentucky) is now under fire for making a profit off his "nonprofit" foundation.

But it turns out that back in 1995, Bunning (then of the U.S. House) launched a war against nonprofits, who he baselessly accused of abusing their nonprofit status. His aim was to silence nonprofits who disagreed with him.

You read that right: Bunning accused nonprofits of abusing their status - then he abused his own foundation's nonprofit status.


Should Bunning resign? ('Pail Poll)

Well, the results of last week's 'Pail Poll are in, and it's a tie!

Last week's survey asked you which of several right-wing mucketymucks should be prosecuted first by the Obama administration.

The results are somewhat of a surprise - at least to those who don't know that many readers of the 'Pail have looooooooong memories. Tied for first place with 4 votes each are George W. Bush (no surprise) and...Newt Gingrich (!!!).

Dick Cheney places behind the top 2, with 2 votes. Alberto Gonzales and Donald Rumsfeld each received one vote. John Ashcroft and Michael Mukasey received none, proving how irrelevant they truly are.

Now, for this week's 'Pail Poll: Should Jim Bunning resign his Senate seat after being caught abusing his foundation's nonprofit status by making a profit?

Incidentally, what Bunning has done is even worse than the Rod Blagojevich scandal, but I've yet to see any national news outlet print even one word about it. Gee, no bias there, huh?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Bubble gum bustin' while it cuts the dustin' (Bubble Gum Weekend)

You know something? This isn't just any weekend. It's a Bubble Gum Weekend!

True to form, a hilarious old commersh for Trident sugarless gum has now appeared on YouPube to menace us all.

In this ad that I recall seeing around 1990, several people bubbled. It didn't pop in their face like the Gum Fighter used to do, but they bubbled nonetheless:

That commercial is amusing on several fronts. The voiceover man declares, "People don't chew Trident just because more dentists..." And so on and so on and so on. You've heard that tagline a gabillion times before. If people don't chew Trident for that reason, maybe it's because people don't chew Trident at all.

Honestly, do you ever see people chewing Trident?

Also, near the end of the commersh, an elderly woman blew a big pink bubble. A lot of people consider bubbling to be only humorous if the bubbler appears to be at least 65. I have no idea why this is. I guess many people assume that the bubbler must have been born before bubble gum was invented, and therefore they'd never have reason to chew it.

Evidently, the folks in this ad share that view. The only time they cheer and laugh is when the elderly character bubbles.

Also, I can tell their bus system isn't TANK, because TANK likes to keep its routes confined to areas where most people can afford a car (which the desert in this ad presumably isn't).

'G'. Gum.

Don't vote Romney...Map out Bromley!

Damn! The Far Right must be hating me right about now!

But the 'Pail doesn't keep me because I'm handsome. It keeps me because I give the Far Right shitfits. And that I'm doing again, for the second time in as many days with my bike map project.

To rub in the fact that Mitt Romney was defeated in his presidential efforts, I've decided to post a bicycling map of Bromley, Kentucky - as 'Bromley' nearly rhymes with 'Romney'. This is the sixth map in my series.

It includes part of Bromley-Crescent Springs Road - the thoroughfare where a driver of an SUV intentionally plowed me down back in 2001. I got Bromley done early because it's a fairly small burg and didn't take much time.

So peep and weep:

Seasons greetings!

Seasons greetings from The Online Lunchpail!

It's hard for me to get in the holiday spirit (because of experiences I had with school), but now is our time to pay respect to the season and share good times with family.

Don't let the War on the Holidays ruin your seasonal spirit. Bill O'Reilly and other conservatives claim there's a War on Christmas, but talking heads like O'Reilly are involved in a War on the Holidays, as they attempt to shut out the other events one might celebrate. Many of this blog's fans observe Christmas, but this blog also has readers who are hard-working Americans who celebrate other holidays instead of or in addition to Christmas - and the 'Pail extends its holiday message of cheer to all!

Here's hoping for a great holiday season!

Election fraud witness dies in suspicious plane crash

Michael Connell was a Republican computer expert who gave important testimony in the case of Republican fraud that marred the 2004 election in Ohio.

Lawyers thought Connell's testimony would finally nail Karl Rove. In fact, Rove threatened Connell and his wife if Connell didn't take the fall for the election fraud. This was such a serious threat that a lawyer in the case requested witness protection for Connell.

Now, Connell has died in a mysterious plane crash. The 45-year-old was flying alone in his private plane, when the aircraft went down only 3 miles from Akron's main airport. Connell was an experienced pilot who had flown his plane for years.

Mike Connell was an important figure. In addition to being involved in the election fraud case, he also helped the Bush White House destroy its e-mail traffic. If he had ever testified in that case, it would have likely implicated Dick Cheney in criminal activity.

In other words, this man posed a serious problem to the criminal Republican leadership. And now his plane has suspiciously gone down right when he had crucial information to share.

After the GOP criminals sabotaged Paul Wellstone's plane (which there's no denying they did), one immediately suspects sabotage in Connell's crash. The crash is being blamed on the plane running out of fuel, but Connell was such an experienced pilot that he surely checked the fuel gauge before he took off. So it's clear that someone put a leak in the fuel line before the flight.

It also turns out that Connell had to make emergency landings of at least 2 flights in the past 2 months because of suspicious problems.

Or maybe I'm just paranoid for thinking that a gang of sociopaths like that which dominate the GOP today would kill a man who was about to reveal damning information about them. But like I always say: Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Open thread

Court blocks standardized test

The national religion of standardized testing has just received a mild blow, as a judge has blocked California from implementing a statewide algebra test for 8th graders.

The reason for the court's decision is that the state Bored of Education acted outside its jurisdiction and with no public input.

Few tears are being shed over the ruling. Most families agree that there's too much standardized testing in today's schools - and not enough teaching. Schools today are forced to teach to the test, not to the student.

On the other hand, I have to ask why so few 8th graders in California have even taken algebra. I think I had something resembling algebra even by 4th grade, so it seems rather odd.

Maybe the reason not as many 8th graders take algebra now is that the schools spend too much time teaching gimmicky feely-bad courses instead and enforcing moronic dress codes.


My n00 drug testing plan lololololol!

To counter the right-wing cultism on other websites, here's my big new super-duper idea. It's not to be taken seriously, of course, but I'm just posting this for illustrative purposes.

I was forced to take a drug test once, and I'm less than pleased by this fact. (For the record, I was clean, but it's the principle that matters.) Also, from the mid-'90s until it was ruled unconstitutional, many Americans who received certain government benefits were also forced to take drug tests.

This policy was tossed out because it violated the Fourth Amendment's provision against unreasonable searches and seizures - but the damage caused by forced drug tests is done.

How about if we start forcing CEO's of banks that get government bailout money to take a drug test? Make 'em pee right in a cup, and have a member of Congress chosen at random drink it to see if they get high.

Wouldn't that violate the Fourth Amendment? Well, no. At least not if we pull the same type of semantic maneuvering that our cheery lawmakers do. We can make it so accepting bailout money is implied consent to be tested.

Kentucky legislators have actually passed a law effectively saying that simply applying for a driver's license constitutes implied consent to have your school release your academic records - in violation of federal law.

Lawmakers try to circumvent the law in order to "get" those who got in minor trouble at school, so why can't we do the same to powerful bank execs? Because we respect the Constitution, that's why.

It's the duty of each and every one of us to build a society based on the human rights that are enshrined in the Constitution. I know there's a BushAmerica bandwagon that says otherwise, but we as human beings are expected by nature to have the courage to keep our rights.

Elderly man roughed up in botched drug raid

When you see stories like this, you know it's time to end the War on Drugs (as if this hasn't already been clear for years). Just end it.

Last week, I told you about a Georgia family that was roughed up when drug agents mistakenly raided their home - adding to a long string of similar incidents nationwide.

Now something similar has happened in Dallas, where an elderly gentleman in a small apartment was brutalized when deputies wrongly raided his place in a drug raid.

Yesterday morning, police came to the man's apartment with their guns drawn, violently pulled him out of the apartment, and tried to cuff him.

Police had the wrong residence. They were actually looking for a man who was only 27, while this man was clearly much older. But now it turns out that cops already knew he wasn't the right guy when he opened the door! But they tried arresting him anyway!

You read that right: They knew they had the wrong guy, but they tried arresting him despite knowing they had the wrong person. How ridiculous is that?

But hey. It's a "war" on "drugs."


Right-wing politician has 18 kids

Jim Bob Duggar and his wife Michelle are media celebrities who are now welcoming their 18th child.

I wouldn't judge someone just because they have 18 kids. Whether the Duggars have 30 children or zero isn't the real issue here.

The real issue is that Jim Bob Duggar is a rather, uh, interesting character - and that the media has yet another double standard.

When I say Jim Bob Duggar was a conservative politician, I don't say it to judge. I say it because it's a fact. Most articles don't mention the fact that he was a Republican legislator in the Arkansas House several years ago.

According to the Wikipedia articles about the former lawmaker and his family, the Duggars "endorse the Quiverfull movement." Some of Quiverfull's own advocates have stated that the movement's purpose is to have as many children as possible in order to produce a generation of right-wing leaders to someday dominate positions of influence.

Again, I'm not judging the Duggars. I'm just stating the facts about Quiverfull as reported by its own supporters.

The omniscient Wikipedia also says the Duggars back the teachings of Bill Gothard, a speaker and writer known for his goofy claim that the Cabbage Patch Kids are possessed by demons.

Now what about the media's double standard? Well, just look at how the media (especially rightist talk radio) acts about other families who have only 3 or 4 kids. If most people - including married couples - have that many children, some in the media unfairly brand them as irresponsible. That's because most people aren't right-wing politicians like Jim Bob Duggar was.

Imagine if you can what the negative reaction by the wingnutosphere would be if I was the father of 3 or 4 children, even if this was in the context of marriage. But the Duggars have 18 kids, and cable channel TLC gives them their own TV series for it!

In short, the media treats ultraconservative professionals like Jim Bob Duggar much more favorably than it treats everyone else. There's no denying it, and it's time we bring the issue to the fore, even though this isn't an easy entry to write.

And that's not really the Duggars' fault. That's the fault of the conservative media culture for having such an obvious double standard that favors conservative families such as the Duggars because of their views.

The media judges. It judges folks for supposedly having too many kids - if they don't share the Duggars' ideas. I'm sincerely trying not to judge the Duggars, for they are certainly entitled to their beliefs. But I'll certainly judge the media and the right-wing blogosphere for practicing doublespeak and phony populism.


RIAA to harass ISP's

Now that the Recording Industry Association of America has finally figured out that its frivolous lawsuits accusing individuals of stealing music haven't yielded the results they wanted, the RIAA is employing a new anti-people tack.

The RIAA's 35,000 lawsuits targeted everyone from small children to little old ladies who had never used a computer in their lives. Even people who died before file sharing was invented were sued posthumously. When it became clear how bogus these suits were, it was a public relations nightmare for the record industry.

The RIAA's latest effort tries to avoid those humiliating woes. The industry association says it's made agreements with ISP's under which it'll notify the ISP if it thinks a customer is distributing music files.

If you think this will catch only people who are sharing music illegally, I have my doubts - especially after seeing how the lawsuits targeted people who had never even touched computers.

It also raises the question of how the industry will find alleged file sharers. Will they just log on to AltaVista or Google and type in "metallica" to see what comes up? Will they pressure the ISP's to spy on users? Will the RIAA place wiretaps?

I honestly have a hard time trusting the RIAA or some ISP's to do the right thing, so who doesn't believe the RIAA won't turn your ISP into its own private police force?

If they're worried about the decline in music sales, maybe the decline is because much of the music today is so unlistenable.

What's next? A taxpayer-funded bailout for the recording industry?


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Franken beats Coleman

Glad this is finally over, but odds are that you heard the results here first!

The Senate election in Minnesota between Democrat Al Franken and incumbent Republican Norm Coleman (and others) was 6 weeks ago, but the Coleman machine has kept things gummed up so badly that we couldn't declare a winner until now.

Actually I would've called it for Franken weeks ago, but if they decided to take it away from him, I didn't want to be shouted down for the next 6 years, like what happened for 4 years after each of the so-called elections that Bush stole.

So yet another incumbent Republican is history!

Al Franken is a famous comedian, but the fact that Norm Coleman lost is pretty damn hilarious on its own.

My crowning achievement in mappery!

Damn, the right-wingers are gonna be mad!

I finally completed my bicycling map of Bellevue, Kentucky - making it the fifth in this series to be completed. Bellevue isn't like one of these microtowns that I'd already finished; it's a sizeable community, and mapping it required a lot of hard work.

To make the Far Right doubly mad, you may notice routes marked with a blue marker. These are bike routes that I've designated. Much as Rand McNally created the U.S. numbered highway system in the 1920s for their road atlas, I've devised a system of local bike routes for these maps.

The Bushists just absolutely hate it! They cannot stand it!

To see the 5 maps I've made, point your pooper here:

ACORN targeted by frivolous RICO suit

The right-wing brain trust never ceases to astound!

Now, 2 wingnuts in suburban Cincinnati - Jennifer Miller and Kimberly Grant - are filing a frivolous RICO suit against ACORN, claiming ACORN somehow deprived them of their right to vote.

We named Miller our Conservative Fool Of The Day on 2/22/08 because of her tantrum at a school board meeting.

The lawsuit demands that the court shut down ACORN - though it provides no real evidence ACORN ever committed vote fraud.

In fact, the Ohio election board says ACORN weeded out bogus voter registration forms before anyone could vote. Many of the forms were submitted by Republican operatives trying to set up ACORN.

In other words, Grant and Miller are hallucinating about Mickey Mouse voter registrations that don't even exist!

The judge ought to fine Miller and Grant back to the Stone Age for filing such an obviously superficial suit.

Meanwhile, ACORN activists have now been arrested in Arizona just for disagreeing with right-wing Phoenix area sheriff Joe Arpaio.


One psych ward, 2 rapes

Psychiatric abuse is a national scandal that seems to worsen every year.

Now there's been at least 2 rapes just recently at the Rawson Neal Psychiatric Hospital in Las Vegas. They took place only a week apart in November.

The circumstances surrounding the attacks are unknown, but authorities are investigating.

Things don't look good for the state of mental health care in America or of the psychiatric industry in general, do they?


Bunning profits from his "charity"

Kentuckians have long known that Jim Bunning is interested primarily in Jim Bunning.

Now the 2-term Republican senator is in the scandal of his life, as it's been discovered that he's made money off a so-called nonprofit foundation he started.

Whooooo, man! This guy could be in some deep trouble! The IRS and the Senate do not look kindly upon shenanigans like this. At all.

The Jim Bunning Foundation collects money that Bunning, a former major league pitcher, gets from autographing baseball items. It's taken in about $500,000. Where does this money go?

The biggest recipient of money raised by the Jim Bunning Foundation is (drum roll, please) Jim Bunning. Tax records show that he's gotten a $180,000 salary just for working for this "charity" a grueling one hour a week. According to these records, Bunning is the only individual employed by his foundation or to get a paycheck from it.

Churches and charities in the area have received less than $140,000 from the Jim Bunning Foundation. While 36% of the money raised by this "nonprofit" has gone to Bunning's salary, only 27% has gone to charitable activities.

It doesn't look good for ol' Jimbo, does it?

Daniel Borochoff of the American Institute of Philanthropy said, "The IRS doesn't want people to just set up their weekend hobbies as nonprofit foundations so they can take advantage of the tax-protection rules." But it appears that's exactly what Jim Bunning did.

Longtime Bunning follower and lobbyist Rick Robinson, who incorporated Bunning's foundation, said the senator created the "nonprofit" so he could make money from autographs without violating Senate rules on outside income.

So he's saying the purpose of a nonprofit is to make a profit? Yes, I heard him too. He really said that.

What's next? Is Bunning going to start holding Freedom Concerts?


Idiot Act to expand?

I think scientists have just discovered the heaviest chemical element ever known: idiotactium. It has no protons, neutrons, or electrons, but it has enough morons to make up for that.

Police in Tennessee are reporting an increase in meth labs after the renewed version of the Patriot Act started requiring allergy sufferers to sign logs every time they buy medicine.

So what are officials planning on doing now? Why, expanding this failed law, of course.

They never learn, do they?

Now they want new laws requiring you to sign a log even to buy liquid pseudoephedrine drugs. This after they kept assuring us over and over again that the laws would only apply to pseudoephedrine in pill form. It's unclear how they think meth cooks may isolate pseudoephedrine from a liquid.

This proves once again that once tyrants are allowed to get one dumb law passed, they inevitably expand their efforts. And that's been the story of America for the past quarter-century.

It works like this: They identify a problem, pass an oppressive law to "fight" it, watch the law fail, and use that as an excuse for even tougher laws. The cycle never ends.

I don't know what it's going to take to stop these right-wing tyrants, but they're out of control.

I'm going to say it now: We need to repeal the Patriot Act - but we particularly need to repeal state and federal laws that punish innocent Americans just for buying over-the-counter allergy medicine to use for its intended purpose.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bush regime falsely accuses British hunters of being terrorists

If you still thought the Republicans were America's gun rights champions, this story should kablammo that notion clean out of your conscience.

Recently, 2 hard-working Englishmen scrounged up just enough money to fly to North Carolina for a hunting trip. They brang along 2 air gun silencers as a gift for their friend in North Carolina.

The men had no problems boarding the plane in England. But when they landed in America, authorities falsely accused them of being terrorists and jailed them.

A judge ordered them released, but authorities got an order to supercede the judge. The travelers subsequently spent 24 days being shuffled among crowded, brutal American jails.

Further, they were forced to plead guilty to a felony just to be released. Their legal ordeal ran up thousands of dollars in bills.

These guys can blame Bush's Department of Homeland Suckyurity for being held for almost a month in American jails. One of them said, "I will never come back to the United States, ever."

Now the British public is furious at the U.S. government, and wants answers.


The Six Dollar Man! ('Sesame Street' Wednesday)

Beep a beep a beep, boop a boop a boop, beep a beep a beep, boop a boop a boop! News flash!

'Sesame Street' in the '70s was known for Kermit the Frog's "News Flash" segments. Often they were based on an old nursery rhyme, but one of them featured the Six Dollar Man - a parody of the 'Six Million Dollar Man' TV series of the time.

The Six Dollar Man was a hilariously destructive robot built by an eccentric Muppet professor:

I always dug this sketch because it used neat words like 'lubricate' and 'activate'.

But I doubt it could air today. For one thing, the cost of the Six Dollar Man's parts now well exceed $6, thanks to (whoosh...whoosh) inflation. Because of Bush, you'd be lucky to find even the bowling ball for less than $60, let alone $6.

The more serious issue though is that scouring pads are now considered nothing but drug paraphernalia. Seriously. I saw an episode of 'Cops' in which a motorist was arrested just for having scouring pads. (Who says America hasn't become a command state?)

Nonetheless, I would've liked to have a robot like this at the protests against Kids Helping Kids. We could have it march down the driveway of the facility and generally cause a ruckus. If the programmies threw my robot in the dumpster, at least I'd only be out $6.

Psychiatry's political madness

If this story doesn't completely debunk psychiatry, what will?

I've noticed for years that psychiatry in effect suppresses dissent. Indeed, many governments - including the United States and the old Soviet Union - have placed citizens in psychiatric "hospitals" because of their political views.

The psychiatric racket's definition of a major mental illness is disagreeing with a shrink.

But there hasn't really been much examination of what specific views or philosophies are suppressed. I think the latest development, however, lays that bare.

Dr. Lyle Rossiter Jr. has released a book attacking liberalism as a mental disorder. Right-wing websites praise Rossiter as an acclaimed Chicago psychiatrist, but he's actually just some nobody. They call him an independent voice with no links to conservative activists, but that's a lie, as Rossiter writes a column on a right-wing extremist site.

Apparently this book came out 2 years ago, but it's been such a flop that people are just now discovering it.

The aim of the book is clear. It tries to label those who dissent from the conservative order as mentally ill. Various unpleasantries befall a person when they are labeled: Their views may no longer be taken seriously, they may be institutionalized, they may lose their right to vote or drive.

The liberalism-as-disorder meme is now raging through the wingnutosphere, and the timing is important. Psychiatry has long practiced suppression of dissent, but Rossiter's book is designed to promote support for this suppression to average readers. The book seemed to be released at just the right time, for it was right when the wheels were falling off the Bush wagon, and Bush's cultists could trot out this book as ammo against dissidents.

Actually, all the book seems to be accomplishing is proving what a pseudoscientific crock psychiatry is.

If liberalism is a mental disorder, conservatism is a social disease.

Insurance racket may silence cannon

A few miles from here, at Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Kentucky, they have a tradition: Every time the school's football team scores a touchdown, a cannon goes off.

Even folks who don't care about school athletics enjoy the cannon. It's artful expression, much like my Fourth of July displays of the '90s.

But last Friday, as a man was loading the cannon, there was a freak accident that blew off 2 of his fingers. This has failed to stem the public's fascination with the cannon, and many local residents still dream of joining the crew that fires the device.

It seems that the only party that wants the tradition stopped is the school district's insurance carrier. Whether the school system keeps the cannon depends entirely on what the insurer dictates.

What happened last Friday was a tragic but isolated event. This is the first injury that's been reported in the cannon's 40-year history.

In school systems all over America, children get seriously injured just going to school. I know of several cases just in my area where students have had their entire lives destroyed by classroom accidents. (Most of these were the school system's fault.) Are insurers going to tell schools to stop making kids come to class because of this?

This story highlights the larger issue of the insurance industry making decisions for everyone else - a form of corporatism. Just like how health insurers make decisions that doctors should be making (a practice that results in the deaths of patients), the insurers in this story are making decisions that should be made by folks who know something about cannon safety.

Instead, however, the decision is being made by insurance companies whose field of expertise isn't cannons, but crunching numbers to protect the bottom line.

People are conditioned to toe the insurer line. Personally, I think that if the school's insurer won't let it keep the cannon, it ought to find a different carrier. But because corporatism is the national cult, too many just accept insurers' decisions as incontrovertible truths.

If we wake up in a sterile world with no recreation allowed, the insurance industry will be largely to blame.


Extremists try to silence Irish President

Uh-oh. The conservatives are upset. Whatsoever shall we do?

The University of San Francisco (a Catholic school) recently awarded Irish President Mary McAleese an honorary degree. McAleese was invited to the university to accept this honor.

Conservatives in the Catholic Church (think my first high school) are furious. That's because McAleese has fairly liberal positions on ordaining women as priests and on gay rights. Conservatives are angry despite the fact that McAleese didn't address these topics during her acceptance speech.

I usually don't post here about stories that are more about religion than government. In this case, however, I must - because conservatives tried policing a political figure's thoughts. I'm also mentioning it here because conservatives in the Church have tried using government as a tool to impose their beliefs on the public.

This story also underscores conservatives' stances that keep everyone down. Their side stockpiles capital to fight socially liberal influences, when they could instead be helping the disadvantaged.

It's a shame there's individuals around who try to deny the President of Ireland her right to have dissenting beliefs. Thought has in effect been criminalized.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Unemployment "decline" means everyone gave up

Ever wonder why the official numbers always show unemployment only in single digits, even though half the people you know haven't been able to find a job since 1997? Well, this is why.

Officially, the unemployment rate in Kentucky actually dropped from 7.1% to 6.8% between September and October. I know you're baffled that it's down at all. But these numbers are computed by dividing the number of people who get unemployment benefits with the number of employed people plus unemployment benefit recipients.

Workers who are out of a job long enough for their unemployment benefits to run out aren't counted. Nor are those who have realized that they're never going to be able to find a job so they've stopped looking.

And believe me, that does happen. Kentucky doesn't exactly have a lot of jobs waiting to be filled. Most of the ones it has either pay minimum wage or are open only to those with advanced degrees.

Indeed, Kentucky's manufacturing sector lost 4,400 jobs just in October.

An analyst with Kentucky's Office of Employment and Training said, "The decline in the unemployment rate reflects individuals who have faced long-term unemployment becoming discouraged and dropping out of the labor force."

It's pretty sad when everyone knows things are so hopeless that there's no longer any point in trying. But when America has been ruled for 28 years by an ideology built on keeping wages artificially low, who's surprised?

For a really depressing story, imagine if underemployment figures were published in addition to unemployment numbers.


Giants Stadium full of shit?

Somebody at Giants Stadium is just absolutely full of it.

At the New York Giants' football facility, a woman who has been appearing at games in skimpy outfits for 30 years has become a popular personality among fans.

But now all of a sudden the stadium has decided that she's no longer as welcome as she once was, and ejected her from a game.

The NFL doesn't do anything about spectator altercations like the one that ruined a Cincinnati fan's Rudi Johnson jersey, but it cracks down on a woman's outfit that was considered acceptable 30 years ago.

Giants Stadium security personnel told the woman she was being ejected because there's an Allowed Cloud against her carrying signs. That's bullshit, of course. How many times have you watched football games and seen signs displayed prominently by fans?

Or did the NFL just implement a no-sign rule and say it's because of "safety", even though signs have never caused serious problems before?

Man forced to undergo electroshock

In America in 2008, nobody is forced to undergo electroshock therapy, right?

Well, think again.

A 54-year-old Minnesota man has been court-ordered to undergo more than 30 sessions of electroconvulsive therapy. He dreads every session, because it causes him severe pain and destroys his memory.

This is how the right-wing regime in Minnesota treats a man with serious health problems who walks with a cane? What century is this again?

Apologists for the psychiatric industry like to talk about people being a "danger to themselves or others", but they've failed to prove that the man would pose a threat to society if he doesn't undergo electroshock treatment. He clearly wouldn't pose any more of a threat to himself than he otherwise would - because he wants the so-called treatment stopped.

There was supposed to be a court hearing today to determine if the electroshocks will cease, but the outcome of this hearing is unknown.


Cop who attacked cyclist indicted

This clip that's been posted on YouPube speaks for itself:

That video was taken in July of a bicycling event on Times Square. In the clip, one of the New York City police officers who was standing guard decides to just suddenly march towards one of the law-abiding cyclists at random and shove him off his bike while he's riding it.

Watch the clip again. You can't deny that's what happened. The cop was caught red-handed, as he apparently didn't count on anyone having a video camera to record his unprovoked assault.

Now, after a clip of the incident was played in court, the officer has now been indicted for the attack.

Police claimed the bicyclist had been obstructing traffic and had intentionally steered his bike into the officer. Anyone who watches the video can see that's not what happened. The cop who shoved him was looking in the direction from which the bikes were coming. The cyclist was doing nothing that the other cyclists weren't doing, and was actually trying to avoid hitting the policeman. Charges against the cyclist were later dismissed.

So in addition to assault, it looks like the officer may also be in trouble for filing false charges.

When you see videos like this, it doesn't exactly reinforce your trust in the system.


Another Idiot Act provision struck down!

With the Patriot Act facing its just desserts little by little, eventually there won't be any of it left.

Oh no! Then who's gonna spy on all our bank transactions? Who's gonna make us sign a log every time we buy Sudafed? Who's gonna make the library turn over records of the books we borrow?

Now a federal appeals court has struck down the clearly unconstitutional gag provision of the Idiot Act. The gag rule prohibited folks who received "national security letters" from speaking out. These letters were usually demands for documents or notices that private records had been searched by the government.

Under the court's ruling, the government now has to go to court to get a gag order instead of just handing out gag orders like mind control drugs in a school office.

The Patriot Act provision that the court struck down clearly violated the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech.

The court's ruling follows last year's decision that struck down Patriot Act provisions that unconstitutionally allowed the government to conduct searches without probable cause.

It remains to be seen how or even if the government will remedy the abuses that it's already carried out under the Idiot Act during America's lost decade.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Map war against Far Right continues

Because the Far Right is afraid of maps, I've now completed my fourth in a series of bicycling maps for Cincinnati area neighborhoods.

And believe me, they are afraid of maps. They're afraid of bicycles, they're afraid of me, and they're afraid of their own damn shadows.

My newest map is of Fairview, Kentucky (in Kenton County). This one was easy, as there may only be 2 paved public roads in the whole town (not counting those along city limits). I goed to Fairview a week ago - during the same outing in which I legally demolished Damon Thayer's dumbassed campaign sign.

So point your pooper here:

Nun gets year in jail for molesting boys

America has a longstanding pattern of coddling criminals if they happened to be employed by the Catholic Church. For instance, authorities in Toledo, Ohio, had a specific policy for decades of not going after priests who molested children.

In fact, according to authorities in most of America, if someone representing the Church does something, it's not illegal or wrong.

Now a nun in the Milwaukee area has gotten off easy for her crimes.

The nun had been convicted of sexually assaulting boys at a Catholic school in the '60s. Not long ago, she was sentenced to only a year in jail for these crimes.

Now, after she's served only 8 months, her attorneys have unsuccessfully demanded her release. They wanted her released because she might die in jail, because she is 80.

Boo fucking hoo hoo hoo. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

The nun's victims got a life sentence full of pain and terror - but she only got a year, and almost got out early.