Thursday, January 31, 2008

High school students expelled for kissing

Last night, before I heard this story, I was thinking of how contradictory the compulsory schooling laws are: Kids are required to go to school, but the "zero tolerance" Nazism has been pushed so hard that almost everyone does something that would get them expelled, which means they're not allowed to go to school. It's a conflict of laws that approaches entrapment.

I'm wondering what happens to all the students who get expelled these days. Obviously most of them don't go on to private schools, because private school enrollment is declining. I know expelled students can't just stay home and watch 'The Price Is Right' and play Dig Dug for the rest of the school year, because then they're entrapped into being labeled a truant. I know a majority don't start homeschooling either, because there's a lot of red tape in that.

Now, in Richland County, South Carolina, 2 high school students have been expelled for the rest of the school year for (horrors!) kissing on the school bus.

Um, these are teenagers. These are not 4-year-olds. What does the school expect? It used to be that most American public high schools would have just ignored it. At the one I graduated from, I can almost guarantee nobody would have batted an eye.

At least one of the expelled students started homeschooling after being kicked out of school.

But the school district won't budge and arrogantly defends its expulsions and its authoritarian prudery. So the students' families are appealing the penalties to court.

Hopefully the court will smack the school down hard!


Onward, so-called Christian hackers!

Now you can tell MySpace is owned by the same company that owns Fox News!

MyBaste has long been a source of aggravation for the 35,000-member "Atheist and Agnostic Group" that had set up shop there. Two years ago, MySpace deleted the group following complaints by religious militants. The so-called Christians who complained about the group did so solely because they disagreed with its theological views and wanted them silenced. The complainants behind this organized campaign hate atheists and agnostics.

This past Thanksgiving, the Taliban struck again. This time they hacked into the group and deleted material from it.

Um, isn't that illegal? Where's the ruling regime in prosecuting this case?

Then, on New Year's Day, MySpace went ahead and deleted the atheist and agnostic group again. MyBaste has refused to restore the group.

Nice to know MySpace allows itself to be bullied by religious fanatics who are such controlling cowards that they can't deal with a view different from their own. You hear a lot about other countries' religious extremists, but America has some that I guarantee you are just as bad.


Army suicides soar

Back in 2001 - before the Iraq War - the U.S. Army reported only 52 suicides. But in 2005, the Army was up to 87 suicides. In 2006, it was 102. And the suicide tally for last year (if they're all confirmed) is 121 - over twice what it was before the war.

It shows how this war has taken its toll not just in the form of instant fatalities from roadside bombs and the like, but also in the form of slowly shattering soldiers' minds. Think what fighting for years in a war would do to you.

Bush's war hasn't only killed thousands of troops from physical injuries but hundreds more by driving them to suicide.


Montel Williams loses show after criticizing war cover-up

With the media run by McCarthyist Nazis, it was only a matter of time before another celebrity was embargoed for dissenting from the Bush thugocracy. Not content with banishing the Dixie Chicks from the nation's airwaves for their views, Bush's thought police appears to be doing the same to Montel Williams.

This past Saturday, the longtime TV talk show host was a guest on Fox News Channel's 'Fox & Friends'. He ripped into the media for spending too much time covering Heath Ledger's death and not enough time on the deaths of the 28 American troops in Iraq who had already been killed this month. Williams wasn't criticizing Ledger and expressed condolences for the actor's family. His criticism was directed at the media for its lack of appreciation for the men and women in uniform who fight a war the media clearly supports.

Montel Williams made a great point. I hadn't heard anything about even one troop death all month until he mentioned the 28 casualties the media has swept under the rug. The month wasn't even over, but this was already an increase over the number of deaths in December. (This dashes to smithereens the wingnuts' lies that the war is going good.) For 3 minutes, Williams had the 'Fox & Friends' hosts utterly owned. Then the show suddenly cut to a commercial break, and Williams was nowhere in sight when the show came back.

The Bush thought police's punishment of Williams for defending the troops seemed to be swift, certain, and severe. Fox-owned stations that carried his talk show dropped the show. As a result, after 17 years on the air, Williams's show is now being canceled altogether.

This is how Fox treats a former Navy lieutenant commander for discussing a war issue?

And to think that a few years ago I was actually angered that several markets lost their Fox over-the-air affiliate because some right-wing hate group complained about 'The Simpsons'. These days, 'The Simpsons' is one of very few things on any Fox network or channel that's even worth saving. (In fact it's one of very few things on any network that's worth saving.)


Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Law protects government over broken levees

I used to think that if the government screws up and someone gets injured or killed as a result - like if Skylab had killed anyone - the victim or their family has the right to sue. But it's not always so.

A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can't be sued because a levee in New Orleans broke during Hurricane Katrina, which contributed to flooding the city. That's because there's this old law called the Flood Control Act of 1928, which says the federal government is immune from legal action when levees burst.

I think the breach in the levee was nothing short of deliberate. I believe the levee was neglected by somebody in the government before the hurricane just so parts of the city that were near it would have to be abandoned if there was ever a flood, and that this lack of care caused it to break. I firmly believe this is so. Whether it was intentional or accidental, why should there be a law to let the government dodge responsibility for its own incompetence? That's not what I call accountability. If someone in the government wanted to deliberately break the levee, there was nobody stopping them, because they couldn't be sued.

This law is a remnant of the robber baron days of the 1920s. Congress needs to step in and seal the cracks in this law.


Wingnutosphere throws fit over Bush arrest vote

With the looming vote in Brattleboro, Vermont, on whether to arrest GeeDumbya and Sure Shot Cheney, the wingnutosphere is throwing as much of a shitfit about that as they are about Hulk Hogan's endorsement of Obama.

For one thing, the story was picked up by the media in countries around the world. That includes the countries that aren't so friendly to America - even though all they did was republish the article that appeared in the American media verbatim. So all they're doing is reporting the facts. But solely because the story was picked up by other countries' media, the spittle contingent is seeking charges against the town of Brattleboro for treason.

Then the wingnuts suggested that Brattleboro's vote is a conspiracy to kidnap Bush and that the town should be arrested for that. They also suggested dropping a nuclear bomb on the town.

Hey wingnuts! Suck it up, will ya?

Damn, what a bunch of hypocritical brownshirts the wingnutosphere has! They sure hate free speech when it exposes Bush's idiocy, don't they?


Greenspan downplays recession

Remember this dude? It's former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan. The conservative Greenspan was first appointed by Reagan, and during the later part of his reign he supported GeeDumbya's irresponsible tax cuts for the rich and raising the retirement age (which would deprive workers of benefits they paid for).

Now Greenscam - while admitting that "the probability of a recession is at least 50%" - is denying the recession that's already here. When was the last time America wasn't in a recession? By most reasonable measures, the last time it wasn't in a recession, people were wearing wide-collared shirts and watching 'Real People'. Greenspan was instrumental in deepening the chronic recession.

Surely, there's been years when it's improved, but it's never gone away. When more and more of your hard-earned money keeps going to the more fortunate, and you don't even make as much as you used to when adjusted for (whoosh...whoosh) inflation, what do you call it? That ain't exactly an economic boom.

But Greenspan remains oblivious. He says a recession "will probably happen but the facts suggest we are not there yet."

We're not there yet??? What about the record rate of foreclosures? Stagflation? Chronic underemployment? The widening gap between the rich and poor? Mounting national debt?

Uh, Alan??? Hello???

The trouble is that Greenscam represents a conservative economic establishment. These economists don't think the way you and I think. Booms and recessions are defined by them in relation to the stock market, wealthy investors, and Big Business. If the 10 largest corporations in America each made a trillion dollars this year, while employing the entire labor force by keeping them as slaves, Greenspan would call that an economic boom.

But hey, don't take my word for it. Take your own. If you really are better off than you used to be, great. But if you're like most Americans, you know Greenspan is full of shit when he says the country isn't in a recession.


The problem I have with the GOP

The Online Lunchpail is a progressive populist blog with multiparty appeal. By being progressive and populist, however, that eliminates the Republicans from being part of this multiparty big tent. The positions and actions that dominate today's GOP tend to give me trouble with almost all things Republican. My opposition to their acts is very personal, after I smartened up in middle school in the '80s.

Quite frankly, most modern conservatives have an attitude problem. They won't agree to disagree. They're big bullies.

Social engineering is a bulwark of conservatism today. Now, I may be more of an economic populist than anything, but it's been clear to me for years that conservatives take even their culture war stances to extremes. At a private high school I attended, the school administration practiced what I think was a very, very subtle advocacy of violence to advance political causes. It might not have been that noticeable to most who weren't cozy with the administration, but it was there. I think the school's favored students got the message, judging by what I and others experienced during the mock election. In short, if you admitted to supporting the "wrong" presidential candidate, you were called an accomplice to certain activities, and you faced the music for it - whether you supported all the candidate's stances or not.

My candidate got 46% of the popular vote nationwide - thus the thugs at school would treat 46% of the American public just as badly.

The principal did use the intercom to advance his political views. That much is undeniable. I think that alone resulted in violence because bullies at the school were so well-connected with the school administration that they'd do anything for it.

Is that right? Republican leaders apparently think so, because they try to appeal to this same violent element. The schoolhouse bully of 20 years ago is the statehouse bully today.

I'm putting it delicately. The Republican Party has been taken over by not just a strident but a militant conservatism. Greed and control (economic and social conservatism, respectively) overlap so much that it's like how when you chew 2 pieces of bubble gum at the same time you can't separate the pieces again.

My former high school's reputation for militant conservative advocacy didn't stop the Republicans and other conservatives who ran my county from supporting a declaration giving the school its own one-shot public holiday.

It boils down to the fact that the Republicans have a serious problem with reactionary weirdoes that they refuse to confront. People get a glimpse of it every so often, like when Trent Lott makes a racist statement, but these embarrassments never stick.

I don't know of any equivalent to this on the Left. Only on the Right am I able to locate the abysmal, forbidding marsh where ideology meets fervor that is so extreme that it doesn't care what's destroyed in the process of advancing an agenda.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Good riddance to this goof

As a Kentuckian, I'm pleased to hear that 2nd District congressman Ron Lewis isn't seeking another term. As with ol' Ernie, he won't be around to embarrass my state anymore with his right-wing imbecility.

This is the clod who gave the country a sneak preview (doo dooo da doo doo doo...) of the Contract With America by winning a 1994 special election to fill the vacancy caused by William Natcher's death. Observers were stunned by Lewis's victory, and dissenters found it more than suspicious.

Lewis is one of these phony populists who claimed to be a real grassroots advocate but was backed mostly by corporate interests and the "values voters" intelligentsia. He ran on the issue of term limits and pledged to serve only 4 terms. But he later ran for a fifth term - proving himself to be another Republican promise breaker who believes in "term limits for thee, not for me." In 2004, Lewis sponsored a clearly unconstitutional bill to let Congress override Supreme Court decisions by a two-thirds vote. Lewis's idea got laughed to smithereens and back.

Oh, I bet the Republicans find someone just as bad to run as their candidate to replace Ron Lewis. The trouble for them is that folks have less of an appetite for this bullshit than they did a few years ago.

2 fights in one hour! (a blast from the past)

I've been in many fistfights with bullies, but I think the most recent was during the 2004 campaign. With the quadrennial silly season looming, I bet there'll be another, so let me regale you with the happenings of 4 years ago!

It was Sunday, September 19, 2004. I rode the Peace Bike to Oktoberfest in Cincinnati and parked it somewhere near 5th & Broadway. I then moseyed over to Fountain Square, where Motley Crue was scheduled to play. Now, the thing about events with good food, alcohol, and music is that you'd think they wouldn't attract people who hate the guts of anyone who partakes of any of these 3 items, but it's a strange world. I'm assuming the joker who I got in a fight with is one who hates fans of music, drink, and food - even though I consumed no alcohol that day. (This was still early in the afternoon.) I assume this about the man because troublemakers like this usually do frown upon others' good times. Either they're enjoying what they want denied to others or they're trying to "save" revelers from these "evils."

Anyway, I and many other people happened to be wearing a John Kerry sticker, because the Kerry folks were handing stickers out. A couple times, people asked me where they could get these stickers. The Bush cultists were passing out stickers too. On a couple occasions, I saw some asshole decked out in a Bush sticker trying to grab sheets of Kerry stickers from the Kerry folks and rend them to shreds.

As I was standing along 5th in front of Fountain Square, a guy who was maybe about my age (31 at the time) or a little younger approached me, eyeing my Kerry sticker. The tall, dapper idiot promptly accused me of making a pass at his wife - though I hadn't. His wife looked like a walking parking meter, so why the fuck would I? In addition to the wife he was referring to, the man was also with a teenage girl who was too old to be his daughter but too young to be involved with an adult man. This group was also with a small child, so it shows you they have no objection to exposing small children to fights they start.

"Dude, what is your problem?!" the fratboy began, as he launched his accusation.

I wasn't going to be bullied by some polygamist pedophile who took offense at my politics, so I replied, "What the hell are you talking about?!"

The guy cocked his head down, and I noticed he had his hand at his side, with what appeared to be the tip of a switchblade poking between his fingers.

Before any physical contact was made, I angrily stomped away. When I returned to the Peace Bike to head home, I noticed the bike - which bore an "IMPEACH BUSH" sticker - had been vandalized by Bush campaign stickers. I ripped the Bush stickers off, tore them up, and threw them into the street.

I was furious that some asshole had run me off from Oktoberfest and that the Peace Bike was vandalized, so I gunned the velocipede on the way home. I made it to 3rd & York in Newport, Kentucky, near the bus shelter. A group of about 5 well-dressed people were hanging out there. Obviously they weren't there to catch the bus, because there aren't too many buses on Sundays. From the angle at which I was traveling, they could easily see my "IMPEACH BUSH" sticker - as well they should have, because the whole point of the sticker was for people to read it.

They were immediately hostile and began taunting me to fight them. One of them, a man who was about my age, screamed, "Are you a terrorist?!"

I continued for about a block, ground the bike to a halt, turned around, and screeched to a stop again at the bus shelter. I said, "What the fuck did you call me?!"

A woman who was about 25 said, "He just asked you if you have any Sierra Mist." See, 'Sierra Mist' rhymes with 'terrorist'. Get it? Get it? Get it? Get it? Get it? Get it? Get it? Get it? Get it? Get it? Get it? Get it?

A guy who was maybe in his 40s scowled at me, "Leave the lady alone!"

I said to this man, "It ain't her I have a problem with, stupid, it's him!" - referring to the assailant who made the first taunt.

He then promptly stomped on my right foot as hard as he could.

So I got back on the bike, continued a block towards home, then decided I needed to fight them some more, so I zipped on back. But they had begun to walk towards the courthouse. I guess this was so they could enlist their political friends. (These idiots apparently didn't realize courthouses ain't open on Sundays.) So I sped away.

If incidents like the Fountain Square argument or the bus shelter squabble (which occurred within an hour of each other) had happened years earlier, I would've just ignored them altogether. If they had happened now, I would've physically fought the aggressors to the very end. Even in 2004, if I had actually seen the Peace Bike being vandalized, you don't want to know what would have happened to the vandal if I had caught them.

The events of that day were a bit like a similar altercation I was drawn into at a Bush rally at Devou Park in neighboring Covington, Kentucky, in 2000.

I didn't start any of these fights. These brawls were started by 20-percenters who were loaded for bear. If I was going to start a fight with everyone who worshiped the Bush cult, I could just as easily hurl pebbles at anyone with a right-wing sticker on their SUV that I see on the freeway. But I don't, because I'm more mature than the dumb losers who fought me.

If the GOP standard-bearer this year has followers as crazed as Bush's, I'm sure they'll be at it again.

Rich school system won't share the wealth

You probably remember the kid who cried because the playground at their school was only the size of 2 football fields - even though the playground at your school was only the size of a garden for an urban apartment, and you were perfectly satisfied with it. Some school systems are like the spoiled crybaby you knew so bitterly in your day.

The Wimberley Independent School District in Texas appears to be one such wealthy school system.

Back in 1984, poor school districts in Texas sued because the state's school funding system, which was based on property taxes, was unfair in that it didn't provide as much money per student in poor areas than in rich areas. Years after the poor districts won this case, lawmakers finally agreed on what's called the Robin Hood formula: Rich districts had to share some of their property tax intake with poor districts. The Texas Supreme Court quickly upheld this popular policy. A later ruling struck down the funding system because it still relied too much on property taxes - but they didn't overturn the Robin Hood rule. Now Wimberley is one of about 160 rich districts across the Lone Star State that must pay into this system.

But they're refusing to pay! Real bloody mature, huh?

The vice-president of the Wimberley school board said, "We're not going to pay it." (Cue Twisted Sister: "No! We ain't gonna pay it!") But they have to pay it! It's been compared to a person not liking paying taxes but still having to pay them.

Wimberley school officials cry that poorer districts seem to have more money than they do and are less crowded. Did Wimberley appoint Free Republic to its school bored? I mean, this sounds so much like all the financially secure folks who've called in to talk-shit radio for years with made-up stories about welfare mothers driving a Mercedes. Whenever you hear someone complaining about the poor having it too easy, the complainant is always someone who will never be poor and never has been. Always.

While the Wimberley schools are upset over having to use the stage in the gym as storage, a lot of the schools I attended didn't have a stage in the gym. Some barely even had a gym! The Wimberley schools are mad at having to use space heaters, but much of the time my school didn't even have that! So kwitcherbeefin'!

I think I know what the real problem is. I went to some public schools in a district that was average-income but where you wouldn't know it. Overcrowding was extreme, and this school system had far fewer amenities and lower teacher pay than a much poorer school system I attended later. It became obvious that the problem in this middle-income district was fiscal mismanagement. Hell, they squandered all the money we raised with the candy sale on an extravagant sign that they ended up just throwing away after a few years. They tear down perfectly good school buildings faster than major league sports clubs do with stadiums.

Maybe, just maybe, we should ask if the Wimberley Independent School District is managing its money properly. If it's getting so little out of the money that other districts get so much more from, there's only one answer I can muster.

At least Texas has a Robin Hood rule. I voiced a similar solution for Kentucky: Pool each area's property tax revenues and divide the dough proportionally. But it was ridiculed out of hand because an opulent few didn't want to pay for the schooling of poor children. But now that Wimberley is refusing to pay what it has to pay, Texas education officials say the only option is to consolidate it with a nearby poorer district - which would effectively pool their revenues.

But Wimberley says they're not really rich, because the average home value is $165,000. They're calling that poor??? I just looked up the home values of folks I know (it's public record), and even those who aren't poor have homes that aren't worth anywhere close to that. Most ain't even 6 digits.

Damn. It's a crazy world. It's like that George Michael song: "The rich declare themselves poor..."


Bush backers threaten town officials

The 20-percenters are showing their true colors again!

In yet another example of the death of the grownup, dictator Bush's followers are flooding town officials in Brattleboro, Vermont, with harassing phone calls about the town's ballot measure that would let voters decide on issuing arrest warrants against Bush and Cheney.

The town clerk said the "nastiness" of the calls was so extreme that the town had to stop answering its phones. A Nazi in Minnesota called and said he hoped terrorists would behead town officials.

Nice to know Bush's fans support terrorism.

Because phone harassment is still illegal in Vermont (unlike Kentucky where it has in effect been legalized), Brattleboro police have pledged to go after those who make harassing calls to town officials. Good. The child molesters who are making these calls need to be put in cages. Maybe put them in a circus.

The bullies who you remember getting coddled at school grew up to be the folks who are making calls like this. That's what becomes of spoiled brats who never had anyone set boundaries for them.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Peace Bike sounding louder...

Ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages, meet the Peace Bike. Peace Bike, meet ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages.

One of my hobbies of late is to bike about my area and photograph roads, bridges, and other public landmarks. I'd say I do this an average of twice a month in warmer seasons, but I also did it today. It's a form of Roads Scholaring - a pastime I practically invented as a youngster. I've amassed hundreds of these photos in the past 4 years.

Now the trusty velocipede finally has a name: the Peace Bike. And no, it's not based on the Cat Stevens song from before he decided to become a literary reviewer. It's called the Peace Bike because it's a bicycle of peace and love.

I buyed the Peace Bike in 2004 to replace the mediocre Extremist (which was the brand of the previous bike). The Peace Bike is an Ironhorse brand but was the least expensive bike I could find. I've fitted it with many goodies to make it a practical personal vehicle for short trips. It's seen much travel about the 'Nati and its environs, and it's suffered the untimely poppage of many a tire. It even bore an "IMPEACH BUSH" sticker, which once prompted a fistfight by right-wing extremists.

People have requested photos of the Peace Bike to waft in their direction, and today I obliged. So here's a picture of the Peace Bike:

In case you want to expand this photo to full size, it can be found at:

Prosecutors wash hands of hand gel case

Only in BushAmerica can a 7th grader almost go to juvy for daring to think hand sanitizer smells nice.

In Lewisville, Texas, a middle school student almost found his life in shambles all because of a harmless stunt he pulled in class. When he noticed his teacher had a container of hand-cleaning gel on her desk, he did what any other 7th grader would do: He grabbed the hand gel, smeared it on his hands, and took a big whiff because it smelled so nifty!

Who hasn't done something similar when they were in school?

This uproarious crowd pleaser netted the student a delinquency charge by local right-wing prosecutors. Why? Because they insisted the hand gel was a harmful inhalant and that he was huffing it to get high.

Well, according to the system, everyone is trying to get high. Prosecutors and educrats think there's a doper hiding under every bed. And anyone who proves they're not high and aren't trying to get high is called a "dry druggie." The War on Drugs is a War on People, and is used as an excuse to go after anyone who steps out of line.

The student in this case got good grades and didn't have a record of bad behavior. But now he's been stigmatized as a drug abuser all because of this episode. He also received an in-school suspension and was fingerprinted by police.

But now prosecutors have dropped the charges after finally realizing that hand sanitizer is not classified as a toxic inhalant under the state health and safety code. Well, no shit, Sherlock Hemlock! If it was classified as one, it wouldn't be sold legally for people to clean their hands! There's a risk from swallowing it, but not from smelling it. While the youngster was charged with inhaling the hand gel to "induce a condition of intoxication, hallucination and elation", somebody must have been hallucinating if they actually think they saw him huffing a dangerous inhalant.

If people are worried about inhaling poisonous fumes at school, then there's a lot of kids who should have plugged their asses when I was in school - because they sure filled the room with their own toxic inhalants!

Smelling hand gel has to be a lot less dangerous than licking tracing paper to enjoy the soap taste, like what some kid in my 5th grade class did. They didn't call the cops on him. Nowadays they would, seeing how it's BushAmerica and all.


Rise of homeland security campus lambasted

I found a great new article here criticizing the homeland security campus - the transformation of American colleges and universities into armed fortresses:

What's now called the homeland security campus has been expanding but isn't entirely new. I was in college in the '90s when the militarization of the American campus got perhaps its biggest boost, which was due to the Contract With America and congressional bullying. And I remember only a couple years ago when my alma mater selectively enforced its free speech policies - falling over itself to prove how open it was to free speech for more conservative causes, while muzzling folks who protested a Bush appearance. (Ironically, while Bush was shooting the bull with the university president, he commended him for allowing free speech - at the exact same time those who protested Bush were being stifled.)

The article says dissidents have been increasingly targeted (something I learned the hard way). Peace groups are the biggest victim of this suppression, as many have actually made it to the Pentagon's Threat And Local Observation Notice system, a domestic spying program. Professors have been interrogated just for daring to oppose the war, and students have been expelled for distributing antiwar fliers.

One professor found a hidden camera spying on his office, and the FBI has illegally scrutinized the records of all students who applied for federal financial aid. The Department of Homeland Suckyurity has even required schools to implement curricula to meet its agenda.

The article gives more detail about these abuses. Knowledge is power, so if you want to know what the American people are up against, read it and peep.

Movie bowdlerizer accused of sex abuse

Conservatives who want to make the entire entertainment industry "kid-safe" have created a niche market lately. This market is for videotapes or DVD's of movies in which everything that might be even remotely offensive is edited out. Because heaven forbid a conservative get offended - even though almost everything (including Oscar the Grouch) offends them. The sanitized versions of the movies are unauthorized and are created by companies who had nothing to do with making the original movie.

It's like drawing a mustache on a work of art. For reselling these films in sanitized form, some of these companies have gotten busted for violating copyright laws.

A Utah fellow named Daniel Dean Thompson ran a company that catered to "values voters" by expurgating movies in this manner. He had to close his business when movie studios threatened to sue him. But now - like a true moral hypocrite - he's been nabbed himself for allegedly committing sexual abuse of 2 girls who were both only 14. The 31-year-old Thompson and 24-year-old Issac Lifferth have been arrested on charges of sex abuse and unlawful sexual activity.

So yet another "values voter" is looking at hard time.


Sunday, January 27, 2008

Still waiting for the Democratic response to the '96 State of the Union

The President's State of the Union speech is always followed by a televised response given by leaders of the opposing party. And every year at this time it occurs to me that the Democratic response to Bill Clinton's 1996 State of the Union address hasn't been broadcast yet.

Why would a Clinton speech need a Democratic response? Because it was a Republican speech, smartypants. A real Democratic speech wouldn't endlessly proclaim, "The era of big government is over," while supporting right-wing big government ideas like school uniforms. (Wow, Bill Clinton believed in "regulation for thee, not for me" months before Free Republic even started!)

Also, this is the speech that was so bad that it's almost the entire reason I didn't vote for Clinton in '96. And it's a main reason why I can't bear to watch any State of the Union speech ever since. Bad memories always come rushing back.

So - if you're a real Democrat or maybe a Green, and not a DLC yawner - call up the cable networks and your local TV stations to demand that they air the Democratic response to the 1996 State of the Union. Judging by the fact that Brit Hume still has helmet hair like everyone in the '90s did, the TV people probably don't know what year this is.

Pastor accused of dragging teen behind van at boot camp (a blast from the past)

This story is from a few months ago, but I haven't been able to find anything about it since. It underscores the national scandal of youth confinement facilities. Most of these centers are money-grubbing scams, outright cults, or both. Many of these facilities commit insurance fraud. At one boot camp for troubled teens in Mississippi, kids were frequently molested by counselors.

A few months back, a pastor from San Antonio, Texas, named Charles Flowers was accused of dragging a 15-year-old girl behind a van at Nueces County Ranch, his so-called Christian boot camp near Corpus Christi. He and one of the drill instructors allegedly tied a rope around the teenager and dragged her behind the vehicle because she wasn't able to complete a forced run. As the minister was taken away from his church by police, he said, "It is not as it appears. I'm not going to comment to that issue."

It's not as it appears??? All the years I've kept an eye on facilities like this, I've heard that one before. Photographs reportedly showed the teen had injuries, so clearly something happened. I can't find anything about the pastor or his assistant - who were both charged with aggravated assault - being convicted or acquitted, but it looks like somebody obviously did something wrong. A cook at the boot camp said she witnessed the teen being dragged behind the van.

Corpus Christi was also the home of the late Lester Roloff, a right-wing preacher who ran several homes for teenagers in which detainees were required to listen to tapes of his loopy sermons for literally days on end. Roloff's facilities were investigated for beatings and starvation, and he was arrested for refusing to obey laws requiring youth homes to be licensed. Many of today's youth confinement centers have borrowed many of Roloff's toxic practices.

I don't know whether or not Flowers based his boot camp on the Roloff death camps, but Flowers's wife said, "When you deal with young people, you're going to have allegations." Yep, I've heard that one before too. But that's obviously bullshit, because I'm almost 35 and I haven't softened my stance towards these centers since I was a teenager.

If the pastor and his drill instructor are guilty, I hope the jury throws the book at them. The abuse has to stop.

(Source: WOAI-TV 8/10/07;

Rigging of uniform survey suspected

I could go on and on about the evils of school uniforms. Despite all the propagandizing by uniform supporters about uniforms supposedly eliminating economic distinctions, anyone who scrutinizes school uniforms quickly learns they were created largely to heighten economic differences, not eliminate them. School uniforms - which are much more likely to be found in dictatorships than in free societies - are the sumptuary laws of the modern world. And - at least in a country that has a First Amendment - uniforms in public schools are unconstitutional.

I've also noticed that bullying increases in schools with uniforms or rigid dress codes. This ought to tell you something right there.

In the Edgewood City Schools in Trenton, Ohio, a small group of right-wing activists is trying to make uniforms mandatory in all of the district's public schools. Yes, public. Public as a bird! (That's an inside joke.) Not like it hasn't happened already in other, larger American school systems - but every time someone doesn't fight it, it just encourages other schools to institute uniforms. It's become a slow, agonizing process of brainwashing the public into accepting it.

The school system claims it sent a survey to parents who had kids in the schools and that 53% were in favor of uniforms. Bull and shit. The school district where I grew up wasn't terribly different or even that far from the Edgewood City Schools, and I guarantee it wouldn't have been even close to 53%.

This underscores the fact that schools like to pull scams in which they claim much higher support for bad ideas than actually exists. This often entails not sending the surveys to folks who they think oppose the idea. I'm a firsthand witness to this. I once went to a Catholic school that claimed it sent surveys to all parents asking about the dress code. However, this is a lie, because my parents never received the survey. The school knew from the petition in 7th grade that I didn't like the dress code, so - just from the fact that my parents didn't stop me from circulating the petition - the school assumed the oldsters didn't like the dress code either. So my folks never received a survey. (If you don't think a private school can lie, you've never been to some of the ones I went to.)

I'm almost certain the Edgewood City Schools only sent its survey to folks who had already been relatively cooperative with the schools. Anyone who was labeled a "problem parent" (which means any parent who's ever had a legitimate grievance against the schools) probably got no survey. I guess the mailman didn't bring it to them (in the words of Billy Ray Cyrus).

Even if uniforms in the Edgewood City Schools are favored by 93% instead of 53%, constitutional rights are not negotiable. Inalienable rights cannot be repealed by the tyranny of a real or imagined majority. That's why America is supposed to be not a pure democracy but a democratic republic. The word 'republic' rolls off the tongue so easily that just the sound of it means you can exercise your natural rights and go as far in life as you please.

A real free republic is one free of public school uniforms. It's a shame so many of America's schools are run by people willing to fib and collude with the local activist-type wingnuts.


Scumbag who killed teen cyclist sues for damage to car

I guess no country is free of assholes.

In northern Spain in 2004, wealthy businessman Tomas Delgado drunkenly drove his Audi A8 at 100 MPH and crashed into a 17-year-old bicyclist. The teen died instantly. Delgado was driving almost twice the speed limit.

Now Delgado has the nerve to sue the teen's parents over the damage to his luxury car. He's demanding nearly $30,000 to cover harm to his precious, precious Audi and the cost of renting a car while his own car was being fixed. "It's the only way I have to claim my money back," Delgado sniffed.

Too fucking bad, Tomas. You were the one speeding and driving drunk, and you were the one who killed someone through your lawbreaking. Don't expect to get rewarded for it.

I know with Free Republic around, we're all used to seeing coddled whiners who have a lifelong sense of entitlement. But this guy's already a strong contender for this year's Lori Drew Sociopath Award.


Saturday, January 26, 2008

City would turn red light cams into spy cams (a blast from the past)

This is a story from last July that I had to put on the backburner.

For years I've monitored the rise of the surveillance state. With every new form of surveillance, you just can't trust that it'll only be used for noble purposes. Sure it may start out that way, but before long it gets to the point where innocents are targeted. At the very least, this Big Brother trend breeds an atmosphere of arrogance and fear.

Traffic light cameras have been touted by the media as a tool to enforce highway safety. However, no sooner did red light cams appear than they instantly started sending tickets to the wrong people. Often it was because the pictures blurred the license plate numbers of cars. People who were unfairly ticketed had little recourse.

Many folks were concerned that the cameras would be made into general spying devices. Oh gee, how can anyone be so paranoid? (That last sentence is sarcasm, people.)

Well, surprise, surprise. It's happening. Last year the city of Oakland, California, decided it wanted to turn its red light cameras into full-tilt spy cameras providing 24-hour video surveillance. Trouble was, state law prohibited using red light cams for spying. So the city decided it was going to lobby to change the law.

Right-wing Fresno mayor Alan Autry also wanted a citywide surveillance system. (Autry was an actor who appeared in several episodes of 'The Dukes Of Hazzard'. So at least he's useful for something.)

Indeed, the traffic light cams were designed at first for general snooping. Using them as stand-ins for traffic cops was just a way to get the public to accept them. By easing people into this tyranny slowly, it would seem more acceptable. I call it tyranny creep.

Gee, I'm sure feeling safer now that there's all this surveillance - not!

The only monitoring that's been successful at fighting or solving crimes has been very small-scale, like you might see in stores. Across-the-board spying systems like the kind Oakland and Fresno have sought have not been successful. They've simply driven crime to where it's even less likely to be detected at all. At least once in my area, a system like this led to a homicide. And there's also the important issue of privacy - especially when the cameras pick up activity at private residences without the residents' consent.

If the surveillance state is here to stay, I'll try to keep a better eye on it to minimize abuse. I mean it literally: If I have the chance, I may photograph spy cams just so authorities know I'm on guard in case they pull any funny business. (I have photographed signs that inform folks of surveillance.)


Look, everyone, Skylab is back!

When I was 5 or 6, one of my greatest fears was being hit by Skylab. Skylab was a NASA space station that ran low on fuel and was feared to crash into the Earth at a place and time that could not be predicted. And crash it did. NASA was able to direct the spacecraft to land in the Indian Ocean instead of in a populated area, but debris was found in Australia, prompting the local government there to fine the U.S. $400 for littering. The U.S. government still has not paid this fine.

You'd think the government would have learned from this fiasco, but it didn't. Maybe it's because GeorgeStapo runs the country now, and he's stupid, so he doesn't learn. But maybe it's because his regime doesn't believe in science, so the ruling party thinks Bush can just shoot rays out his eyes like Superman and vaporize a spacecraft in midair so it never falls on anyone.

Now a large American spy satellite has lost power and propulsion and may collide with the Earth in late February or March. The craft reportedly can no longer be controlled and it may contain hazardous materials. Scientists reportedly cannot predict where on the Earth it will crash.

Why didn't they give the satellite enough power to prevent this? Why did they not bother to control it until it was too late? I think they still can control where it lands, but they choose not to. If they had the technology 30 years ago to keep a space station's comedown somewhat contained, can't they control a spy satellite now? Even if they can't control it now, I think they know where it will land.

At best, this is going to be one of the most embarrassing examples of Bush-related incompetence. At worst, it's going to be a deadly disaster for who knows how many people who happen to be near where it hits.

Of course, the Freepers are busy trying to put the Associated Press in jail for reporting this story and embarrassing their hero Bush. (Seriously.)

Maybe the sky isn't falling this time, but Skylab - or something just as dangerous - sure is.


Patronage employees spread Obama smear

Your tax dollars at work, America.

Almost every smear in recent years against a political figure who dissents from the rightist order originates near the top of the Republican party apparatus. Often the RNC sends out bogus information about a Democratic politician to right-wing talk-shit hosts and bloggers, who then run with the story. The mainstream media obediently complies by picking up the story as if it's legit.

Now a probe of 3 federal patronage employees proves again that these smears originate near the top. The Republican machine doles out patronage jobs like a school does psychotropic drugs. The United States today is almost a one-party system. More so than at any other time in the country's history, a party apparatus is merged at the trough with the government.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is an independent federal agency entrusted with the task of making sure civil service workers don't illegally engage in political activism on the job. Now the OSC is investigating 3 employees of 2 different federal agencies for reportedly sending out e-mail spams falsely claiming Barack Obama is a "radical Muslim." This is where this smear is believed to have originated.

Obama never was a Muslim. (I wouldn't oppose a candidate just because the candidate is Muslim, but that's a whole other matter.) He never was a radical Muslim either. He never was a radical anything. But the claim that he's a "radical Muslim" is still circulated by the wingnutosphere as if it's true. (Most major conservative blogs and many right-wing newsgroup posts are themselves funded by the RNC.) At least one website for a local Republican Party republishes the e-mail, even though the contents of it are a lie.

That the 3 patronage employees used job time and work equipment to send out the e-mails means your tax dollars were misspent to pay for partisan smears. The taxpayers were supposed to be paying them to perform valuable government services, but instead they goofed off at work by sending out spam and engaging in partisan politics.

Recently an employee of the U.S. Army Medical Command was caught spreading the same propaganda about Barack Obama. And during the 2004 campaign, smears against John Kerry from government computers were pandemic.

The big question is, will the OSC be able to keep this investigation going without Bush cutting off all its funding?


Activist ruling gives copyright protection to cease-and-desist letters

I told you in October that there's a law firm that has some totally bizarre ideas about copyrights. The firm represented businesses that were exposed by a website that dealt with infomercial scams. The pro-spam law firm claimed its own cease-and-desist letter to the website was copyrighted and that the website wasn't allowed to republish it.

Except they're wrong. Nobody who knows shit about the law would buy that convoluted legal theory.

But now - according to the law firm's own arrogant and boastful press release - the U.S. District Court for Idaho has ruled that copyright law does indeed prohibit recipients of cease-and-desist letters from posting the letters. Well, I say it doesn't. If I got a cease-and-desist letter about anything, I'd be no less inclined to post it now than before. And if some right-wing activist court tells me I can't do it, they can gag on shit.

Nothing in copyright law supports a law firm's "right" to place a copyright on cease-and-desist letters. Not one fucking thing. Copyright is supposed to protect art and science - not law firms' stupid harangues. Even if you can copyright the letter, reprinting it is clearly protected under the fair use concept.

The president of the law firm called the notion that the letter wasn't protected a "new age" argument and cried that "publication of cease and desist letters is an easy way for scofflaws to generate online 'mobosphere' support for illegal activity." Regarding the court's ruling, he went on to gloat, "It's a great day for businesses and a bad day for those conducting illegal activity online." What illegal activity was the website committing by exposing infomercial rip-offs? The only illegal activity in this story might be the law firm's apparent filing of SLAPP lawsuits to silence the website.

So make us cease and desist this:

Friday, January 25, 2008

Investigation into attorney firings widens

The media has swept the scandal in which the Bush regime fired all those U.S. Attorneys under the rug (as they've done with Bush's other scandals), but it still lurks beneath the surface to haunt the GOPstapo just in time for the looming election. Which could be funny.

First, some Democrats in Congress are still trying to have formal contempt charges against White House officials who illegally ignored congressional subpoenas to testify about the firings. And now House and Senate ethics committees are examining if some congressional Republicans have interfered with the investigations.

David Iglesias, a U.S. Attorney for New Mexico who was forced out of office by the Bush regime, said of the probe, "Arguably it's the most significant investigation OPR and OIG have done in a generation, or maybe ever."

If this thing heats up, 2008 could be another Election Day full of laughs like 2006 was.

Iglesias has already testified that Sen. Pete Domenici and Rep. Heather Wilson (both Republicans of New Mexico) improperly pressured him to accelerate a probe of a Democratic politician during Wilson's reelection efforts. After Iglesias said he didn't plan to bring charges before the election, he was fired. Now Wilson - who threw a big temper tantrum a couple years back because she didn't get to be at the front of a parade - is running for the seat Domenici is retiring from. With this scandal brewing, there's some potential for laughs at Heather Wilson's expense.

Also, Allen Weh, who heads the New Mexico Republicans, had reportedly complained about Iglesias to Karl Rove - so that's more proof of improper political pressure.

The corruption never ends with these loons, does it?


Fox Business off to hilariously disappointing start

The glory days of Fox's news operation have evidently peaked, as its new business network has started off to disappointing ratings.

It shows you that Faux News has become such a tainted brand that people have a harder time than ever linking Fox with any serious news offerings that one might expect to find on a financial news channel. How dismal is it? First you have to consider that Fox Business Network is already available in one-third the number of U.S. cable households as CNBC, its main competitor - a shockingly high number for an upstart channel these days. (It took almost 2 years for our local cable system to pick up MTV, so that shows you how favorable things are for Fox Business.)

Despite such strong penetration and a huge promotional budget, Pox Business has an average of only 6,300 viewers on any weekday - compared to 283,000 for CNBC. Even when you adjust numbers for Fox's lower penetration, it's still getting beaten by a 15-to-1 ratio.

I guess not even conservative, financially secure investors trust Fox with their money, seeing how few viewers it has. After all, longtime right-wing media hatchet man Roger Ailes chairs both Fox News Channel and Fox Business.

A few more embarrassing things about Faux Business Network: Like CNBC, Fox Business floods nights and weekends with infomercials. Because cable costs money, people are actually forced to pay for channels full of infomercials! Fox Business is so untrustworthy that it distributed a review by a Toronto newspaper that said of the channel, "They set out to change the face of financial news...and they darn well did." The problem is that Fox Business left out the next sentence in the review: "Now, please, change it back."

With that type of distortion, would you trust this channel for any serious reportage?


Wingnut vandalizes hotel room, blames Clintons

This is priceless, but unless you're in the area where this happened, you probably heard it here first!

In the town of (get this) Clinton, Iowa, a right-wing galoot demolished a hotel room by filling it with trash, knocking holes in the walls, and tearing the carpeting. Then the culprit turned right around and claimed this damage was created by the Hillary Clinton campaign weeks ago.

An Iowa TV station broke this story, and the wingnutosphere is about to run with it by blaming the Clintons and the Democrats in general, so I thought I'd give you a heads-up before you see the Freepers spouting their hate-filled lies. Hopefully we can get the truth out before the bogus version of the story is allowed to spread. If it doesn't catch on, we know we've had some success.

If this story has a familiar ring to it, it's like when Bush trashed the White House when he seized power and blamed it on the Clintons. An inspection by the General Services Administration found that the executive mansion was in tiptop shape when the Clintons left, but that part of the story was almost never reported. It turned out that Tony Snow also lied about Air Force One being vandalized.

Why the fuck does anyone trust the wingnutosphere after being debunked over something like this before?


Mississippi wastes housing grant on resort

This is what happens when idiots like Haley Barbour are allowed to run anything more advanced than a game of Candy Land.

Almost 3 years after Hurricane Katrina, tens of thousands of people in Mississippi are still holed up in FEMA trailers. So how does the Magnolia State plan to spend $600,000,000 in federal grants that it received for housing? Mississippi plans to spend this money expanding a state-owned port to include a resort and a casino.

All that money! Wastage bastage!

Housing activists are not amused. Nonetheless, HUD is expected to approve the Barbour administration's misappropriation of the money.

Haley Barbour has consistently favored Big Business over the state's people, but his excuse for diverting the hurricane funds is that the resort will create jobs. Of course, they're mostly horrible jobs. Because it's a resort, most of these jobs will be at the lowest-paying rung of the service sector (in a work-for-less state, no less). Probably none of them are good factory jobs.

Mississippi already got waivers of the rules that required housing funds to be spent on poor and working-class residents - so the poorest Mississippians were already getting fleeced.

Barbour now claims the housing money was intended for the port all along - but that contradicts his own 2006 Senate testimony. Obviously he was either lying then or he's lying now.

Surprised? I'm not.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Misuses of the newses

Since this is another slow news day (oh, if this blog was around in 2004!) allow me to regale you with one of my pet peeves.

I can think of at least 3 things that are never a justification for breaking in to a TV show. Some news stories are important. For instance, if the toilet at that old furniture warehouse on Licking Pike overflowed and threatened to flood Newport with a wall of poo water, I'd consider that an emergency that should preempt most other programming. But some things aren't worth disrupting your programming for:

1) If some baseball or football player gets traded, it's not worth interrupting regular programming for. I don't think I can name more than 3 current NFL or Major League Baseball athletes, so I don't care to hear about every player who gets traded. But there's at least one TV station in my area where, every time a player gets traded, they run their "BREAKING NEWS" graphic and go to the press conference about it. So whenever you see the "BREAKING NEWS" bit and the sports anchor appears, you might as well shut the TV off, because this shit monopolizes the dial for the next hour as they show the entire press conference.

Even 'The Jerry Springer Show' is more important than that boring nonsense.

2) It's not worth disrupting programming to show a local college sports team getting off the plane while returning home from a tournament they lost. I won't forget the time in the early '90s when my mom had to miss her favorite soap opera because of this garbage. It's not like I'm a big soap fan, but anything beats a bunch of whiny players from a team nobody gives a damn about in the first place boo-hooing because they lost.

3) Stock market plunges. Unless it's something like what happened in October 1929, don't bother me with it until the regular news hour. Yet they always do. Usually the local stations let the networks break in when something like this happens. But since I don't have stocks, every market dive does nothing except confirm that the economy is terrible, which is something I've known for 20 years. If some investors lose their precious, precious money, don't bug me about it unless it starts hurting me! (Dunks back inside trash can and slams lid down.)

I've missed several hilarious scenes in court shows because Brian Williams was so worried about wealthy investors losing all the money they got from a system that's built on the backs of people like me.

Weather reports for Missouri don't exactly have a place disrupting Cincinnati airwaves either, so that makes 4 things.

It really is time to bring back TV Brick, isn't it?

Kucinich quits race after CNN ruins debate

Thanks a heap, DLC. Now Dennis Kucinich - the Democrat who I would have been most likely to vote for in the general election - has quit his campaign after all the DLC and media efforts to silence him. Oh well. I was probably going to vote Green no matter who got the Democratic nomination.

CNN joined ABC and NBC in the media's efforts to exclude Kucinich from the debates by vetting candidates beforehand. This was accomplished by deliberately setting the debate criteria 1% above Kucinich's latest poll numbers. The poll numbers weren't even based on the outcome of any state primary but on surveys conducted on behalf of - you guessed it - the media.

The actions of CNN and the other networks violated federal equal time provisions and the requirement that the airwaves are used in the public interest. These violations resulted in Kucinich filing a formal complaint against CNN.

He wasn't completely absent from the debates - just the later ones. He did once appear in an ABC debate. When a poll on Already Been Chewed's website showed him winning the debate, ABC took the poll down.

That the Democratic Party allows the networks to do this to a serious presidential candidate shows you how out of step the party has become. Then again, this is the party of the DLC, which kicked Kucinich off the ballot in Texas because he refused to sign a loyalty oath that would have bound him to support a pro-war candidate.


Court lets employers fire workers over medical marijuana

If this isn't an activist ruling, what is?

Not long ago, a Sacramento telcom firm fired an employee because he flunked a company-mandated drug test. The only reason he failed is that he had used medical marijuana - which is perfectly legal under California law (as I've had to point out a skillion times before). So he sued 'em to court!

This was just so clearly a case where the company was wrong and the employee was right - especially because the employee's marijuana use was legal to treat a back injury he had suffered during his Air Force service. He even had an official card and prescription authorizing him to use the herb. If you can't fire people for using other drugs they've been prescribed, then you damn sure can't fire people for legally using marijuana.

But now the right-wing California Supreme Court has said the law doesn't matter. In its 5 to 2 ruling, the court said the company was right to fire the man because federal law bans marijuana even for medical uses.

As the wine commersh with Orson Bean used to say: So??? California law allows it. Period. End of story. If the state's highest court won't even follow state laws, that's pretty sad.

The company's side of things was backed by Big Business and right-wing law groups like the Pacific Legal Foundation.

If state courts won't even follow state laws, letting an unelected federal regime boss them around, then the country's sunk.


Another violent thug gets a slap on the wrist

There's a whole big system in place nowadays to coddle criminals and punish the hard-working public. Folks in my area have complained that if their car is destroyed because of someone else's lawbreaking, getting any information about the case from the authorities is like pulling teeth. The government goes after folks possessing Geiger counters, indie musicians using file-sharing networks to legally trade music, and restaurants allowing outdoor dancing - but if someone commits a serious crime that ruins a person's valuables or even takes an innocent life, the offender has to be pampered. Otherwise it's considered a violation of their "rights."

In Tucson, Arizona, a woman who showed no remorse after drunkenly mowing down and killing a bicyclist has received a hand slap for her crimes. Despite being convicted of negligent homicide and 2 counts of aggravated drunken driving, the coldhearted motorist got only 10½ years in prison - which is a year less than the maximum she could have received.

This might be considered a stiff sentence if she was actually remorseful and if she pledged to devote her life to promoting sober driving and road safety. But no. Not only did she show no repentance, but she actually laughed about her own crime: In a recorded phone conversation, a man told her that someone believed she should receive a medal because she had "taken out" a "tree hugger, a bicyclist, a Frenchman, and a gay guy all in one shot." The woman then laughed. The man replied that he knew it was a bad thing to say, but the woman responded, "No it's not."

It looks like the death of the cyclist wasn't the only death. This conversation is yet another illustration of the death of the grownup. I don't know too many people who are 27 who think killing a cyclist by driving drunk is funny. Maybe it's because I had to get a minimum wage job at 17, instead of being spoiled enough to live off wealthy relatives at 27.

By laughing over her own plowing down of a bicyclist, it's clear the woman's own life isn't worth shit anyhow, so I wouldn't say 10½ years is too tough of a punishment. People are serving life in prison just for possessing small amounts of drugs. Is it fair to impose ruinous mandatory minimums for minor drug charges while a callous killer gets much less prison time?

Also, the woman in this case had been driving on a license that was suspended for an earlier DUI conviction. Some people never learn, do they? When she hit the cyclist, her blood-alcohol level was almost twice the legal limit.

That she still had a car is more proof of how the system connives to keep people down. Do you know how expensive it is now to own a car in America? Big banks conspire to keep people from getting the money to buy one. Insurers conspire with lawmakers to deliberately make the mandatory insurance too expensive. Even those who support the compulsory insurance law have admitted in Internet forums that the sole purpose is to keep poor people from driving.

While the walking hate crime that is the insurance racket colludes with lawmakers - they're probably all having group sex with each other and pouring boysenberry syrup on each others' genitalia - and keeps millions of working-class Americans from getting a car, a person who had their license suspended for driving drunk is still able to have a car! That's BushAmerica's idea of "fair."

With this unrepentant criminal behind bars, at least now there's one less vote for Jon Kyl for the next 10½ years.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

NYPD wants Geiger counters banned

The "let's ban everything" rightists are at it again! You'd think they wouldn't be, now that they've already, well, banned everything, but they always find something else to ban.

New York City police deputy commissioner for counterterrorism Richard Falkenrath and embattled Mayor Michael Bloomberg are demanding that City Council make it illegal for anyone to possess devices that detect biological, chemical, or radiological weapons without a permit. To quote that guy on 'Cops': Reason? Reason? The excuse for the proposed ban is that (get this) one of these devices might malfunction and cause police to chase bad leads.

That's like banning phones because people dial 911 to make false emergency calls.

The banned devices would include Geiger counters, industrial pollutant detectors, and even carbon monoxide detectors. Public health professionals are furious, because their job of warning the city's population of pollution would be just about impossible to do. Organizations like Asthma-Free School Zones wouldn't be allowed to do their jobs either. The law would have also made criminals out of independent experts who tested the air around the World Trade Center site right after 9/11.

Falkenrath said he got the idea for this law from (drum roll, please) officials in the Department of Homeland Suckyurity who suggested it to him. Gee, thanks a zillion, DHS.

Where does this power grab end?


EU 'Net eavesdropping plan rejected

I can't stress enough how much the U.S. has to fear if it submits to a North American Union in the way Europe has to the European Union. The EU has had so many undemocratic right-wing ideas that the mind tobbles to and fro.

Not long ago, EU authorities tried looking at how to help what it calls the "cultural and creative sector." From what I can gather, the EU's original report wasn't too bad. You can tell because music and movie trade groups - Europe's equivalents of the RIAA and MPAA - howled about it until the EU obediently modified it to meet their demands.

The original draft of the EU report had a provision that was good in that it warned against criminalizing the general public in the name of fighting online piracy. But the forces of greed cried like the big babies they are and got an EU lawmaking committee to amend the report to say the exact opposite. Under the amended report, ISP's across Europe were instructed to filter users' traffic and eavesdrop for alleged copyright violations. (In the U.S., this seems to be illegal by FCC rules, but AT&T has threatened to do it anyway.)

This shows once again the dangers of letting some undemocratic supranational organization have police powers over individuals' actions that don't even cross national borders.

But there's good news: The EU has now rejected the amendments placed by the corporate movie and music lobby. That's probably more than I can say for what Congress would do - especially if some supranational power breathed down Congress's necks to kowtow to it.


House sustains the liar's veto

Today the allegedly Democratic House failed to override Bush's second veto of an effort to expand the popular SCHIP, a children's health care program.

So now about 3,000,000 children won't get health insurance that they otherwise would have, thanks to Bush standing in the way.

Bush's excuse was that expanding SCHIP was just a step towards government-run health care. Well, we've seen what Big Business-run health care is like, and at least the government can be voted out of office, so I don't see how a public health care system could be any worse than the health care system America has now. Bush's pretext for vetoing the bill is strictly doctrinaire and not based on whether it would have good results. Then again, Bush has always gone out of his way to leave a trail of despair in his wake, so he really doesn't even believe his own excuse. If he's so worried about the government getting involved in everything, why does he support the DEA's war against medical marijuana?

It's times like this I almost wish Bush was allowed to run for a third term, because just think what John Edwards would do to him in the general election.


Liar, liar

Everyone knew Bush was nothing but a big liar, but now someone has actually bothered to count the number of times he or his cohorts lied about Iraq's threat to national security following 9/11.

It's 935.

Bush and top White House officials issued 935 separate false declarations about Iraq as an attempt to justify starting the war. The American media hasn't picked up on this story much yet, so I had to find it on an Australian news site. Of these 935 lies, 259 came from Bush himself. Others came from Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Don Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Paul Wolfowitz, Ari Fleischer, and Scott McClellan.

Although there were hundreds of times the Bush regime stated Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, Iraq had no WMD's during the time in question. "It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to al-Qaeda," said Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith, who authored the study that counted Bush's lies. "In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003." They also report that some news organizations now acknowledge being too supportive of the war just prior to its launch.

Now can we start the impeachment proceedings already? A lot of Supreme Court Justices are getting up there in years, so we need to get cracking!


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Drew Carey fights dancing ban

Of all the Hollyweird celebrities out there, Drew Carey is usually one who is cited as having conservative political leanings. But this time, the current 'Price Is Right' host is challenging the conservative forces of loom and doom by fighting a county's outdated ban on dancing.

In Pinal County, Arizona, it's practically illegal to dance. I'm talking about clean, inoffensive dancing here, like you might find in restaurants. Under Pinal County's 'Footloose'-like ordinance, a steakhouse actually came under fire by county officials because it allows dancing outdoors.

Authorities in the United States in 2008 are going after people for dancing??? Man, that's an Allowed Cloud! And it's a bad Allowed Cloud!

Believe it or not, the anti-dancing law is only 60 years old (not 600). But who knew the county was run by folks crabby enough to actually try to enforce it?

What's next? Anti-smiling laws?


Study confirms tribal land stolen

Greed runs deep. And a federal study now proves it's every bit as deep as was long feared.

For years, a Native American tribe known as the Tigua people has claimed that the state of Texas stole 36 square miles of their land in El Paso. Now a new 172-page federal report confirms it.

The Tiguas lost their territory in 1871 when the Texas legislature took it to build the city of Ysleta, which is now part of El Paso. In more recent times, the Tiguas opened a casino - but efforts by crooked GOP superlobbyist Jack Abramoff, wannabe judicial assassin John Cornyn, and other corrupt big shots led to the casino's closure.

The circus that is Gov. Rick Perry's office responded to the Tiguas' plight with predictable arrogance. Allison Castle, a spokesperson for the unpopular Republican governor, sniffed that "Texas faces serious challenges on a number of issues and real problems that need to be addressed. This isn't one of them." Um, yes it is, Allison. Many of the Tiguas are citizens of Texas, so they have a right to expect Texas officials to listen to them.

When Texas lawmakers took the land, it violated a federal law that passed earlier. However, the Tiguas are prevented from suing Texas, because the Lone Star State has sovereign immunity. So they have to rely on the federal government to sue the state for them.

Unfortunately, you can't exactly expect the Bush regime to do the right thing. Bush invades sovereign nations and takes its resources, largely out of sheer greed, so who can trust it to help the Tiguas, whose land was also invaded and taken?


Food seller prosecuted for not using metric system

If you want to know what looms if Bush succeeds in surrendering America's sovereignty to his proposed North American Union, look no further than this story from Britain.

In a working-class London neighborhood, a 63-year-old woman who scrapes together a modest living by running a tiny produce stall is now being prosecuted because (horrors!) she sells food by the pound instead of using the metric system. That's because in jolly old England people use pounds and ounces. Where folks use pounds, it's mighty wise to sell stuff by the pound. But the woman faces a litany of criminal charges for daring to use her own country's measurement system.

Why? Because the European Union - a practitioner of rule by decree - has barked down an order that merchants in all its member nations must go metric. That's why police came to her produce stand and confiscated the scales she used to weigh food.

The veggie stand owner may now be fined $10,000 for each count. "It would ruin me," she said. (Yeah, I know: The magic word!) It's already forced her to cancel a trip to New York, because selling food by the pound gave her a criminal record that's made foreign travel harder (although she hasn't been convicted yet).

This isn't even the first time something like this has happened. In a win for metric imperialism several years ago, 4 other food stall owners (including the woman's brother) were busted for failing to use the metric system. They got a conditional discharge, which meant no more action is taken against them as long as they buckled under.

I guess this is to be expected under the EU, for it was the EU that extradited an author to Greece because he wrote a humor book that allegedly violated Greek blasphemy laws. But back in the U.S. and A., forced metrication has been a goal of Big Business for decades - though it would hurt small merchants and the average worker. Anyone involved in international trade has the tools to convert between measurement systems - so there's no point in forcing the general public to give up its measurements.

The greater issue though is that metric imperialism enforced through zealous prosecutions is likely what's going to happen if the U.S. is drawn into an EU-like organization. It was the elder Bush that made the biggest step towards imposing the metric system on an unwilling American public. Although this move was halted by Bill Clinton, it may not matter once the U.S. gives up its self-rule to some larger body that exists to serve Big Business.


GOP measure would expand sales tax

People used to tell me the big difference between the Democrats and the Republicans was that, while both parties raised taxes, only the Republicans lied about it.

Lately it's become truer than ever that Republican politicians support raising taxes - even as they deny it more and more. Mike Huckabee has made his plan to shift the tax burden to the poor by establishing a huge national sales tax one of the centerpieces of his campaign. This has reinvigorated right-wing state lawmakers to push for higher sales taxes at the state level.

Keep in mind that usually their proposals are explicitly designed to generate no more revenue than the current system. So it isn't as if they need the tax. This proves the whole purpose of the tax is to punish the poor.

In Arizona, State Rep. Rick Murphy (R, of course), wants to force a referendumb to replace the state income tax with an expanded sales tax. Unlike other supporters of this reverse Robin Hood plan, Murphy practically admits his sales tax expansion is a regressive tax (after denying it).

Murphy's dumb law would even tax goods and services that aren't taxed now. For instance, Arizona decided years ago that food is exempt from the sales tax. But Murphy would tax food.

How punitive do you have to be to tax food just so more financially secure Arizonans don't have to pay as much taxes?

If there is a referendumb, the only chance it has of passing is if the suburbs outvote the cities and poor rural counties again.

(And yes, the wingnuts have already freeped comment sections of other sites with their mandatory hate speech against the poor.)


Monday, January 21, 2008

A couple myths about Big Business debunked

It's nifty to debunk stuff. But in order to be debunked, something has to have first been bunked. And here's a couple of myths that have been bunked out like a big ol' wafto - forcing me to debunk them. Both of these myths about Big Business have been expressed to me within the past 5 years or so.

Myth: Businesses aren't allowed to donate to political campaigns.

Fact: They can and do. There's places all over the Internet where you can read about corporate donations.

Now, should this be allowed? No. Can the government ban it? Yes. Corporations are not supposed to have constitutional rights, and campaign spending is not speech. But right now, corporations donate generously to partisan campaigns.

Myth: The NFL doesn't have an antitrust exemption.

Fact: Voopvoopavoop wrong! It does. Someone told me that while Major League Baseball has this exemption, the National Football League does not. But they both do. That's why the AFL hasn't been split off again from the NFL. The USFL sued to challenge the NFL's monopoly but was awarded only $3 because the jury got misleading instructions and wrongly assumed the judge would have to award real damages.

Should the NFL lose its antitrust exemption? Of course it should. Especially after the NFL started frisking fans who attend games (a policy that a judge said was illegal, but seems to continue in defiance of the judge's order).

So that's a couple of misconceptions set straight once and for all.

Innocent woman imprisoned because she wouldn't date informant

This is yet another example of how the War on Drugs corrupts absolutely - and of how unevenly the system dispenses "justice."

A woman from Mansfield, Ohio, was convicted of being a drug courier and sentenced to 10 years in federal prison all because she refused to date an informant. She served 16 months before a judge released her because she was innocent. In the meantime, she and her 3 kids lost their apartment and all their belongings were destroyed.

How did this false conviction happen? Not only did the informant lie and game the system - but federal agents did too.

The investigation was bungled so badly by the DEA that 15 men imprisoned by it (one of whom is serving 30 years) might also be set free. And the informant has been sentenced to 15 years for perjury and related crimes.

The entire fiasco just goes to show the ongoing DEA corruption. It's far worse than most people think.


Negative data on drugs suppressed

These days, psychotropic drugs are considered the answer to everything. What's 2 plus 2? Psychotropic drugs. What's the capital of Arizona? Psychotropic drugs.

But now it turns out that the effectiveness of many widely prescribed antidepressants like Prozac, Effexor, and Zoloft has been played up by the publication of favorable studies - while bad results are swept under the rug. By the Far Right, of course.

Because of this, doctors and patients start believing the drugs work much better than they really do. And the drug makers' bloated coffers make even more dough off of the American public, thanks to the drugs being overprescribed.

With some of the drugs, a majority of the studies failed to reveal a good result - yet only the few studies that showed a good result were ever published. And anyone who's been paying attention knows the whole process is stacked in favor of the drugs in the first place - and still there were plenty of studies with bad results.

The breakdown goes like this: 97% of the studies with positive outcomes were published; only 39% of those with negative outcomes were. And almost all of the negative reports that were published were distorted to make them appear positive!

Even the Wall Street Journal says the practice of suppressing bad reports is the same thing Big Tobacco did when studies showed nicotine is addictive. That the drug racket suppressed unfavorable data on antidepressants isn't even new: The state of New York sued GlaxoSmithKline in 2004 for covering up negative results about Paxil.

If they're doing what the tobacco industry did, then there ought to be nationwide legal action as big as what Big Tobacco was slapped with in the '90s. To see Big Medicine slapped silly for its greed would be too sweet for words.


My congressional campaign that wasn't

Each year around this time, bad memories always come flooding back to me. I'm always reminded of what followed when I advanced my plan to run for Congress a decade ago.

As I was known as publisher of The Last Word (a fact that was pretty much an open secret), I figured I would throw my hat into the ring as an independent for the U.S. House seat for Kentucky's 4th District back in 1998. It was an open seat, for the incumbent Republican, the despicable Jim Bunning, was running for Senate. A publication in California actually interviewed me about my work and reported that I was a declared candidate - as I was.

My platform was based on undoing the Contract With America by repealing recent right-wing laws like the '96 telcom law and the welfare "reform" act.

But it came crashing down when some asshole - some stupid dick - went behind my back and e-mailed folks whose addresses they got off the Internet with all this wicked nonsense about me, which was then repeated endlessly on the Internet. This episode helped signal the death of the grownup. There's no excuse for people who were probably 25 at the time to talk shit about someone behind their back by exaggerating something that happened in grade school, and there's even less of an excuse for people who were 50 to spread these lies publicly by putting up 20 different websites about it.

Talk about a spectacularly insane grudge! By 1998, I don't think I'd heard such trash talk against me since - I don't know, probably about 1997, when I got about 70 harassing phone calls a month to this effect. And now I haven't heard it since this afternoon, when I got yet another call like this from someone apparently employed at the local hospital. (Phone harassment has been de facto legalized in Kentucky.)

After all the right-wing lies about me on the Internet, I forgot about my congressional campaign and turned The Last Word into a full frontal assault against the Internet thought police.

If I was tough then as I am now, I would have never allowed the online situation to get to that stage. To show you how badly the Nazis had me buffaloed, peep what happened on the 1998 incarnation of The People's Forum, the message board on my main website: After I made it a moderated forum, which required me to approve each post before it appeared, they continued trying to post their lies there. Yet I approved these defamatory posts against me, thinking it would shut them up if I did.

By the middle of this decade, I wouldn't put up with that shit - no way, no how. And in 2008, I damn fucking sure won't put up with it. Sometimes it takes a long time to learn to stand up and be counted - especially when through most of your youth, you were the one punished if you dared to fight back against the thugs at school.

There's a silver lining in the cloud of the war of '98: When acquaintances of mine saw this campaign of online terrorism, it created such bad publicity for the Republicans locally that the congressional election, which was considered a lock for Gex Williams, a Religious Right Republican, unexpectedly went to Ken Lucas, a slightly less conservative Democrat. The results were particularly stunning in my home turf of Campbell County, which nobody in a million years expected the Democrat to carry. On Election Day, this was the upset of the evening - and one of the reasons for it went completely below the media's radar screen.

If you buy the bogus idea that every third party or independent candidate is just a spoiler, then the Internet idiots screwed themselves even more: If I hadn't been forced out of the running, I may have taken enough votes from Lucas to throw the race to Williams. So they were stuck with a conservative Democrat instead of an even more conservative Republican that they wanted.

In later years, I seriously considered seeking public office again. When Democrat Gray Davis got reelected governor of California in 2002, the Republicans threw an absolute shitfit and decided to "do over" by launching a recall drive. If the GOP had put up a decent opponent, they wouldn't have lost, so it was their own damn fault Davis won. During the recall effort, the media promoted Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Republican replacement for Davis. I figured this idea was so outrageous that if I sought elected office in Kentucky, my candidacy couldn't be rejected out of hand. But I discarded this plan.

People have asked me to run for office since, especially now that I've registered as a Green, but I'll probably never attempt it again. But it's not completely out of the realm of possibility.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Montana governor fights Real ID fascism

Real ID is an attempt by the Bush regime to establish a mandatory national ID card by forcing the states to make their driver's licenses and other ID's conform to a set of rules barked down from Washington. Real ID would also force states to share confidential information about their citizens. All of this would cost each state millions.

While the Wal-Nuts and chickenhawks swagger endlessly about the alleged greatness of Real ID, supporters of local autonomy and freedom of movement are deeply troubled by it. Maine became the first state to stand up for its people by refusing to comply with Real ID, and other states followed suit. Now, Gov. Brian Schweitzer of Montana, a Democrat, has taken what is perhaps the bravest shot yet against the forces of groupthink by asking governors of 17 other states to help him force an all-out face-off with the authoritarian federal government over Real ID.

Montana was already among the states to pass a law declaring it will not comply with Real ID. But no governor has gone as far as Schweitzer in fighting for freedom from Real ID, which is an unfunded mandate that was decreed by a rogue federal regime.

"Today, I am asking you to join with me in resisting the DHS coercion to comply with the provisions of REAL ID," Schweitzer said in his letter to the other governors. "If we stand together either DHS will blink or Congress will have to act to avoid havoc at our nation's airports and federal courthouses." That's because the Bush regime wants to require the federal ID's just to fly on a plane. State ID's would no longer be good enough.

But get this: Laura Keehner, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Suckyurity, is telling the public that - if they can't fly because their ID doesn't meet federal guidelines - they should fight their state, not the feds. Seriously, she said that. (Pining for a Conservative Fool Of The Day entry, Laura?)

But if DHS shitbags have their way, it'll get worse. A few days ago, some DHS big shot suggested Real ID should also be required just to buy cold medicine or to prove you're eligible to work.

Here's what I want: Not only do the states need to pass laws refusing to comply. They need to pass laws requiring the existing state ID's to be accepted at airports and federal facilities, without having to meet Real ID rules. And they have to have a long-arm provision so it also applies at airports and facilities in other states. In other words, if you live in Montana and have to fly from, say, the Salt Lake City airport (in Utah, a state that has so far buckled to the feds), and your Montana ID isn't accepted, TSA personnel at the Salt Lake airport would be prosecuted by Montana. I believe states like Montana must do this to protect their people.

And if a state does comply with Real ID, folks there should sue the state for violating their right to privacy. It's already happened in Alaska.

So don't cave to Bush's fascism!