Monday, June 30, 2008

Obama shuns DLC meeting

Now this is an improvement!

I'm disgusted and depressed by the made-up rumors spread by the Right against the Democratic standard-bearer, but if you've read this blog long enough, you probably know that I think Obama is actually much too conservative. (I'm a registered Green, you know.)

Nonetheless, the candidate is doing something bold that no other Democratic nominee has done in probably 20 years: He's shunning the Democratic Leadership Council's meeting.

The Democratic Losership Clowncil is the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. But it's guided the party since the '90s. Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and even John Kerry were (at minimum) strongly influenced by these inane sellouts.

The DLC is usually portrayed as centrist, but these days, that means right-wing. The DLC isn't just conservative, but they're more conservative on the wrong issues! For instance, the DLC supports "free" trade, the failed welfare "reform" law, and the illegal Iraq War. This is especially irritating because the DLC now dominates the party.

But now that Obama has skipped the DLC's get-together in Chicago (even though he was in Chicago when it was going on), it may be a sign the DLC is losing pull.

A little too late, I know. And the party still has a looooong way to go before being restored to what it was. It'll take decades.

The DLC actually hurt the party. The Democrats' only major electoral victory since its rise was Bill Clinton. Look how badly they lost Congress and the governorships from 1993 through 2004. Look how badly their presidential candidates did against Bush, of all people! That's because the DLC pushed the party to go after voters who'll never vote Democratic anyway! All it did was alienate reliable Democratic voters and push them to vote Green or independent.

One wonders why the party's big tent hasn't been closed to the DLC clowns.


School officials threaten language crackdown and forced prayer

Stuff like this amazes you. Sure, social engineering stuff like this is a distraction (because I'm more of an economic populist). But it's the type of loopy-right distraction that ultimately doesn't accomplish shit - except to make its advocates look like fools.

In Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana, public school officials are furious. What happened to make them so mad? Did drug-sniffing dogs find scissors in the trunk of a student's car? Did somebody have a "violent" Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox? Did someone fail to get bullied?

Nope! None of those things!

School officials' fury was prompted by the graduation speech given by a high school co-valedictorian. One sentence of the speech was in Vietnamese, and the student dedicated it to her parents, who are from Vietnam and are not fluent in English. She then spoke the same sentence in English, and said it was a call to be your own person.

To most folks, there's nothing offensive about it. But everything offends educrats. And I mean everything. Surely, they didn't like the fact that the sentence was a call to individuality. What really rankled them though was that it was in Vietnamese.

So school officials are now introducing a whole bevy of new policies to soothe their own inner turmoil. One of these new rules will forbid foreign languages in graduation speeches. Look, if they're so worried about foreign languages, what the hell do they think English is? English is called English for a reason. It's not called American. It's called English because it began in jolly old England.

School officials are also considering mandatory prayer at graduation ceremonies - in a public school. Why??? What does this have to do with the speech that offended them so much?

If the prayer rule takes effect, it's almost a certainty the school board is going to be sued. And they'll almost certainly lose. It's already clear the school board is out of step with the community, because of the complaints this proposal has already prompted.

This is the best the Terrebonne Parish public school system can do to distract us from more important issues?


Fun with teethcosters

Damn. I take the Peace Bike to Covington all day, and I come home to a very slow news day and a teethcoster! The teethcoster turned out to be based within my apartment, but it's a teethcoster nonetheless - because it never would've happened but for the phone company's beedledickery.

A teethcoster is a loss of Internet connectivity. There was even a song about teethcosters back in the '70s called "You Little Teethcoster." Just joking. Actually it wasn't called that.

Anybip, I arrived home today to be confronted by a teethcoster. My high-speed wouldn't work. No way, no how. So I called the phone company, who owns the high-speed service.

Now, this particular phone company has a monopoly on regular phone service in my area and is one of only 2 high-speed providers. Because of its near-monopoly, the public has a right to hold it to a high standard. And I've been quite generous to it.

When I called, the man on the other end scheduled a service call for tomorrow between noon and 4 PM. (Gee, that narrows it down.) But when I was done, I noticed something rather bizarre: The wire from my phone jack to my modem had been pulled out.

Turns out there's only one way this could have happened. This morning, I was rousted out of bed at 7 AM by a threatening phone call from a certain business (which I've never had any dealings with). When I was fumbling for the phone, the wire must have gotten yanked.

How is it the phone company's fault that I got a harassing phone call, which is the proximate cause of the wire getting pulled? Because the phone company hasn't done shit about the harassing calls I've been getting. And these aren't all hang-up calls either.

To give you an idea of how long ago this started, during the first harassing call I remember getting, the song "One Night In Bangkok" by Murray Head was debuting on WCLU. So it had to have been early 1985. I was 11. The phone company hasn't done one thing in 23 years to halt it. Not one fucking thing.

The phone company says go to the police. The police say go to the phone company. I've had to have my number changed about once every 6 months, and it never solves the problem.

I actually hadn't got a call like this in about a month, but if there's one thing I need to do this summer, it's put a stop to this shit once and for all. Especially because I know where today's call came from!

So when I goed to Covington today, one of my first errands was photographing the offending business to add to my road photo collection. I was madder than fuck, and I still am.

When I found the loose wire later, I fixed it and got on the Internet. I promptly e-mailed the phone company to tell them to cancel the service call.

But here's the real fun part: I don't think they're going to cancel it. So they're going to send a repair crew out here for nothing! The crew probably won't mind, because they got extra work by driving out here. But the phone company will, because it's on their dime!

Think of all the money the phone company is going to spend on gas and on paying its repair crew all for naught! It serves the phone company right for not doing anything about the harassing calls, because the whole incident resulted from such a call. And it's not my fault if they come out here, because I told them to cancel the run. If they don't cancel it, that's their stupid fault.

If they try charging me for the run I canceled, I'll fight them on that.

If it comes down to it, I'll hold a protest outside the phone company's headquarters - about the extra charge and about their inaction on harassment. Such a protest is legal. Check the rules.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

FEMA gave away hurricane victims' supplies

This story is couple weeks old, but it has to be shoved right back onto the frontburner until there's some answers (seeing how the Bush cult likes to portray themselves as big answer people and all).

It's been revealed that FEMA gave away some $85,000,000 worth of household goods that were intended for survivors of Hurricane Katrina. FEMA held the items - which included necessities like kitchen items, sleeping goods, clothes, and cleaning supplies - in warehouses for 2 years until FEMA gave away the items to various agencies that had nothing to do with hurricane recovery. While a small portion of it went to independent nonprofit agencies like food banks, most of it went straight to other government agencies.

FEMA's excuse? They said it was costing too much to store the items, and another agency wanted the warehouses demolished. Um, well? Then why didn't FEMA, like, give the items to hurricane victims, which is what they were supposed to do in the first place?

The problem has got to be much deeper than it appears. A lot of the items were donations from private parties. But following FEMA's giveaway, they wound up in the hands of other government agencies. And who knows where they went from there?

With the amount of corruption in the government, the items were probably looted by high-ranking officials. And I bet FEMA knew this was going on, because government corruption today is so rampant.

As I write this, there's probably some undersecretary at some Cabinet department who's eating filet mignon off plates that were supposed to go to hurricane survivors. I'm not exaggerating. It's hard to see what use some government agencies would have with some of these supplies, so somebody's obviously skimming the items for personal use.

The Border Patrol, the Bureau of Prisons, and the Postal Service were first in line to receive the items. Organizations like the Department of Homeland Suckyurity also got some items. I doubt the Postal Service has much use for bed sheets and dinner forks, or that the Border Patrol has much use for clothing and toilet bowl cleaner, so I'm wagering that some Bush patronage appointee is taking the supplies home.

All this while the government keeps jawing about how much it's done for the hurricane victims?


Texas court sides with Taliban

Tell me if this doesn't sound like it isn't ripped straight out of the tyrannical pages of the Taliban.

In 1996, a 17-year-old girl collapsed at a Pentecostal church outside Fort Worth, Texas. Instead of investigating to see if there was a medical cause behind the collapse, church members immediately performed what they called an exorcism by violently pinning her to the floor. (A worshiper had reported seeing a demon running around on church grounds.)

The girl was still conscious and never consented to this exorcism. She fought to break free and was gasping for air. She received rug burns from this restraint, which lasted for 3 hours.

The church did the same thing to her again 3 days later - again without her consent. This time she was bruised heavily.

Not long after this, the previously well-adjusted teenager began experiencing symptoms of what several different therapists agreed was post-traumatic stress disorder and major depressive disorder. They determined she was at risk for suicide and cardiovascular problems, and she was unable to eat or sleep.

The victim of the church assaults sued. A jury quite properly awarded her $188,000.

But in BushAmerica, it seems like no sensible court decision lasts very long without some activist judges bopping along and overturning it.

The losing defendants fought their victim tooth and nail and appealed this judgment to the Texas Supreme Court. And the $188,000 verdict was promptly tossed out because they claimed it violated church members' First Amendment rights.

You can't make this stuff up, people. The court actually ruled in favor of those who assaulted the teen by claiming that the assault was protected under the right to religious expression. Seriously, they said that.

I adore the Bill of Rights, and religious freedom is one of the most important rights guarded by this document. But nowhere does this give you the right to injure someone during an exorcism that you performed on them without their consent.

I know that at the time of the incident, the victim was a minor. Then shouldn't the church members who injured her be prosecuted for child abuse? Child abusers can't very well argue that they can abuse their victims because they don't need consent. That would be preposterous.

The Texas Supreme Court's 6 to 3 decision to let the assaulters hide behind the First Amendment is simply nutty. And it guts decades of established law.

The dissent in this case accurately stated that the ruling gives too much immunity to defendants who "merely allege a religious motive" and that the First Amendment does not "sanction intentional abuse in religion's name."

While the court's majority said religious practices that threaten someone's safety "cannot be tolerated as protected religious belief", it denied that the victim's safety was threatened. They said this is because PTSD is emotional and not physical.

What's that again??? It's been proven that PTSD actually involves physical changes in part of the brain. And why should emotional pain be treated as any less of a sign or cause of danger as physical pain?

Maybe I should start my own church so I can break any law I want.


Disaster Daniels raises tax

This idiot actually has a serious shot of getting reelected?

I read this morning that Indiana has a new tax law. Most of it takes effect this coming Tuesday, but part of it has been in force since April: the increased sales tax.

Although it took effect on April Fools' Day (suitably enough), it's really no joke. Indiana's already high sales tax of 6% was pushed up to 7%, one of the highest in the country.

Now, Kentucky 40 years ago had Nickel Louie, who raised the sales tax to 5%. (It's now 6%.) But at least that paid for schools. But the tax hike in Indiana doesn't, like, buy stuff. All it does is provide "relief" for large property owners by paying for slashing property taxes.

I know that if you rent, you're paying property tax indirectly, but I've whipped out the calculator to see if you save any money from this. A person who lives alone in a small apartment probably doesn't save anything. A family of 3 or 4 certainly doesn't: By my calculations, the average family already pays hundreds more per year in sales taxes than in property taxes (even with property tax included in their rent). The wealthy exurbanite with a lot of capital investments and a lot of land probably comes out ahead, but few others do.

The less money you have, the smaller your digs, and the more you get hurt by Indiana's new tax "reforms." It's a reverse Robin Hood.

I immediately knew right-wing Gov. Mitch Daniels had to be behind this, considering that he tends to provide a steady stream of bad ideas. I knew that at minimum he must have signed it into law. Turns out the whole thing was his idea.

We had Nickel Louie. They've got Disaster Daniels.


Saturday, June 28, 2008

Party big shots want Robert Gates to stay

When you saw the header of this entry, you probably thought the party that wants Robert Gates to stay on as Secretary of Defense after Bush leaves office is the Republican Party.

But now Gates is being held up as some great superman by big shots in the Democratic Party - or at least by candidate Obama's advisers. The Democratic nominee's foreign policy and national security advisers are actually urging him to keep Gates (a Bush appointee) as Secretary of Defense.

If you want proof that the Democrats have become Republicans Lite, this is just one of many, many frustrating examples.

Before the Bush era, Gates (Conservative Fool Of The Day 11/29/06) was an Iran/Contragate figure who wanted Reagan to bomb Nicaragua and overthrow that country's democratically elected government. He doesn't exactly sound like someone who'd make the world a safer place.

Man, talk about a revolving door in Washington! If someone as dangerous as Robert Gates can stink up important positions decade after decade, even with a different party in power, something is wrong.

I can understand a candidate reaching out to another party. But to Robert Gates???

What's next? Is the DLC going to tell Obama to keep Michael Mukasey on as Attorney General? Are they going to make him pick Dick Cheney as his running mate? That's about what this is like.

Damn. With stories like this, I'm so glad I'm a Green!


Band silenced for criticizing Bush (a blast from the past)

You know BushAmerica's suppression of dissent was out of control when we're still mixing stories from 2006 in with new offerings. If you think things are bad now, it's actually an improvement from a couple years ago.

The Tower City Center mall in Cleveland played host to a music festival a couple years back. One of the bands that played was Mifun, an Afrobeat group. The band members began performing in anti-Bush t-shirts. The shirts showed the Decider with a line (presumably like the universal symbol for a no-no) over the mass of flesh that is often referred to as Bush's face.

During a song called "Supercrush", which is about Bush's evil economic policies, managers of Tower City Center cut the microphones. Though the mic was cut, the band was able to tell the audience what happened. The crowed booed the facility's management in response.

Who runs Tower City Center? It's run by the U.S. Postal Service, an agency that answers directly to the government. Thus the facility is public. So, contrary to what a Nazi might think, the band had a right to free speech inside the mall. End of story.

Then again, Bush is the same international terrorist whose hired thugs violently suppressed dissent at the Devou Park rally in 2000, so I've amassed almost a whole hard drive of articles about incidents like this.

(Source: AP 4/29/06)

Students arrested for protesting war (a blast from the past)

This golden oldie from 2006 shows that America's schools are run by thin-skinned little Nazis. Everything since mid-decade is anticlimactic, of course, but the situation hasn't much improved.

In Frederick, Maryland, 5 high school students got in the trouble of their lives just for protesting against the war when the Marine Corps set up a recruiting booth at their school. All 5 were suspended. Two of them were arrested when the school called in the cops.

Do right-wing school officials have such delicate feelings that they have to cry to the police? Aaaaawww, poor widdle school people!

The students' "crime"? "Distributing unapproved leaflets." Gee, now there's a freedom-loving phrase - not!

Now see why I support homeschooling?

(Source: AP 4/27/06)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Student ignores uniforms

Good. It's about time somebody stood up against this bullshit. Naturally it ain't in America, where everyone's been browbeaten too much to fight.

A 15-year-old high school student in the Australian state of Tasmania is engaged in a battle against school uniforms. In at least one Australian state - Queensland - uniforms can't be required in state schools (which are what we call public schools). In Queensland it's because of a directive by state education officials. Tasmania, however, seems to have no such wide-reaching safeguard.

The student in this story hasn't worn her uniform in over 2 years. She simply refuses. The attire is uncomfortable, pointless, and fails to enhance academics.

The school has retaliated by barring her from field trips and gym class. (Of course, I'd say being banned from gym class is more of a reward than a punishment.) This retaliation has prompted her to seek help from education officials, who agreed that she was being discriminated against by the school for not wearing the uniform.

But when they took the case to a parliamentary committee, right-wing politicians blasted the student's claim.

Just think if enough people in the United States did what the student in this story is doing!


Wide Stance Larry and Diaper Dave sponsor marriage amendment

When I saw this, I thought it had to be a joke. But nope, it's true, it's true, it's totally true!

I know this federal marriage amendment malarkey comes up about once a year now (if not more), but when you see who's sponsoring it this time, you're gonna laugh a hole in your face.

That's right, folks: Larry Craig and Dave Vitter.

Yes, it's the same Larry Craig who was caught in an airport bathroom trying to engage in sex with an undercover policeman. And yes, it's the same Dave Vitter who hired a prostitute to indulge his diaper fetish. Both of these senators were married at the time of their respective extramarital scandals, yet they're preaching to everyone else about marriage?

The Senate needs to take up a cause people give a shit about, and not this social engineering horseshit. You know what this amendment really is? It's a distraction. If Americans don't find themselves with a higher minimum wage, lower gas prices, and better health care, it's because Congress wastes time on this garbage.

So if anyone's an enemy of hard-working people, the social conservatives are just as bad as the economic conservatives.

And by the way, don't you just love how the self-described states' rights crowd wants to dictate to the states what their laws have to be?



The drug warriors know they're ridiculous. They know it.

They know the War on Drugs is a failure. But they're addicted to their own propaganda, so to speak, and there's no signs of the war ebbing. If the drug war was successful, we wouldn't have seen the rise of meth in the current decade.

From what a defender of the Rockefeller drug law against cold and allergy medicine said this week, you can tell they know the whole thing has gotten way out of hand. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, a staunch DLCer, held a gargantuan press conference to praise her state's version of the law. She boasted that the law "required us to annoyingly show an ID and sign a log when we purchased those types of medications."

"Annoyingly show an ID"??? You got that right, Lisa, because I'm annoyed at being forced to mortgage my Fourth Amendment rights in the name of a war that was known 15 years ago to be a failure. Like I've said before, this law hurts only the innocent, and the log is in effect a warrantless search.

Or maybe Madigan meant the law requires us to show an ID in an annoying fashion. So that I shall do. If I ever buy allergy or cold medicine, I shall display my ID, throw it in the air, make fake fart noises, then make the ID dance the Lambada, like I used to do with the salt shaker at family meals.

Would that be annoying? Damn fucking right it would!

I'm not even going to link to the TV station's story where I found Lisa Madigan's quote, because most of the story was just so brazenly dedicated to repeating politicians' made-up and unsourced bullshit about how great the law is. With the law being such a failure elsewhere, why would Illinois be an exception? (In other places, the law has been followed by an increase in meth labs.)

School uniforms have a new rival in the category of right-wing ideas that people aren't allowed to criticize.

Like the rest of the Bill of Rights, the Fourth Amendment - which is violated by the requirement that buyers sign a log - embodies rights that weren't created anew with the amendment's passage. These rights already existed and are possessed by everyone in the world. We all love the Bill of Rights, but it didn't take this great document to establish that the right existed. The Bill of Rights lists and guards our rights; it didn't create them.

We must repeal the new Rockefeller drug laws at once. It's a shame the major political parties are so wrapped up in superstition and delusion now that they can't even see their pet cause is a failure.

Jindal faces recall effort

The country has other governors who are probably worse than Louisiana's Bobby Jindal. (The names Mitch Daniels, Matt Blunt, and Haley Barbour come to mind.) Still, Jindal is miserable enough, and it serves the GOP right that Republican Jindal is now facing a recall effort, after the Republicans abused the recall process so fluently.

If it's a slow news day, we can always find something to post about Jindal - like the fact that he doesn't believe in the constitutional clause prohibiting religious tests for public office. But now the big, bright Bobby Jindal balloon that's been bouncing along the Louisiana skyline may be running out of bunk gas.

The Louisiana Secretary of State's office says a recall petition has been filed to oust the governor from power. Jindal is the fifth Louisiana politician to face such an effort since the Republicans in the legislature voted themselves a huge pay increase - which Jindal supports. The petition was prompted by the politicians' support of the pay hike.

This recall drive serves the GOPee right because they mounted a bogus recall effort against the previous governor, Democrat Kathleen Blanco. That effort was just so clearly a "do over" attempt that everyone saw right through it. The Republicans launched the recall petition solely because they were sore losers. Nothing more, nothing less.

The GOP thought police's recall drive against Democrat Gray Davis in California was actually successful. Davis wasn't a great governor, but the recall effort showed that all the Republicans at that time needed to do to win in the long run was lose an election and throw a shitfit about the results.

It's amazing that it's taken so much Republican incompetence for a GOP governor to face a serious recall petition, while all a Democrat needs to do to get recalled is win an election and make the wingnuts cwy.


Prima fascism

You gotta spread the word about this blog. This blog is one of the most strident voices of working-class populism out there to counter the wingnutosphere's bigotry and greed, so - despite our rapid growth - we still need to bring in business.

This is especially true because this blog is being blackballed because of its views. Legal-like types would say the proof of this is prima facie (pronounced "PRY-muh FAY-shee"), which means this assertion is self-evident.

The old Conservative Fool Of The Day blog had an entry on Brian Crall - a Kentucky crackpot who introduced the state's Rockefeller drug law against cold medicine, was investigated in Ernie Fletcher's corruption scandal, and illegally mailed out envelopes showing state employees' Social Security numbers in plain sight. The comment section of Crall's entry was flooded by the head of Partnership for a Drug Free Kentucky, who praised Crall for his drug law. I can't count the number of times this commenter said something to the effect of, "'Prima facie' means 'on its face.'"

His argument was that if a person had more than 24 grams of cold medicine, it was prima facie evidence of intent to cook meth. This man's attempt at mind-reading was laughed at by about 15 different commenters. He was misusing the term to justify deeming someone guilty without even proving it.

If anything is prima facie, it's the evidence that The Online Lunchpail is being blacklisted. If you search on engines like Google or AltaVista, you find hardly any mentions of this blog except on the blog itself. I don't blame the search engines. Rather, I think - actually know - that someone is gaming the system to have this blog suppressed.

I know how many hits the 'Pail gets daily, and although it's a decent number, it's nowhere close to what it should be - considering that, although it's not the only populist-leaning blog, it's probably the only one that dares to publicly recognize the Spittle Doctrine (a concept with widespread support outside the blogosphere), and this blog has at least several entries a day.

As even more solid proof we're being shunned, peep Wikipedia. I'm not saying every person or website who's ever existed should get a Wikipedia entry, but there's certainly a bias by the volunteers who have been allowed to infiltrate the reader-edited encyclopedia. The 'Pail once had an entry. It was quickly deleted - despite the fact that every teensy-weensy right-wing blog or blogger that you can think of had a detailed entry, no matter how minor or how laughable the blog was.

Based on prima facie evidence, the fact of the matter is that there's a concerted right-wing effort to suppress this blog. It's a racket, if you will. There's no doubt in my mind about it.

This was long the case with The Last Word: I remember the deletions of The Last Word that Nazi ISP admins refused to do anything about (because they considered these deletions to be free speech).

It boils down to a powerful clique of fascists being terrified of the free flow of ideas. The problem has gone on for years. It was an issue when I had my first Internet account in 1995, and I'm sure it's a bigger issue now.

So spread the word about this blog. We're in this fight together, workers of America and the world.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

3 U.S. soldiers, Iraqi family of 6 killed

I hate stories like this, but the American media won't report them.

This has been yet another bad week in the Iraq War. Now a roadside bomb near Baghdad has killed 3 U.S. soldiers and an interpreter. This brings the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq just this week up to 7. (This week's other casualties were also ignored by the media.)

And a family of 6 Iraqi civilians - including 4 children ages 4 to 11 - was killed when an American jet destroyed their house.

Now do chickenhawk liars like Jim DeMint understand why we don't want the war continuing, let alone drawing in more of America's young people? If they don't get it by now, they're a lost cause.


Doctor removes wrong lung

If we can move away from horseshit issues like the ones the "values voters" are so inordinately obsessed with, maybe we can get to work on cleaning up America's health care crisis.

This is yet another story proving just how broken the U.S. health care system is.

In New Jersey, the State Board of Medical Examiners found that a surgeon removed part of a patient's right lung - when he should have been removing a tumor in the left lung. Removing tissue from the right lung meant no surgery could be performed on the left lung - thereby dooming the patient.

Then the doctor tried covering up his idiotic mistake by telling the patient that the removed lung contained a dangerous tumor - which wasn't true.

The doc's incompetence did lead to the death of the patient - who was a Vietnam War veteran - when the cancerous tumor that was supposed be removed ruptured and drowned him in his own blood. The 60-year-old patient died without a nickel to his name because his health benefits ran out. The surgeon also altered the patient's records to show he intended to operate on the right lung in the first place.

Even after state regulators determined the mistake could have been avoided if the doctor had taken "the most basic and minimal of actions that should be taken by a surgeon in advance of surgery", guess what the punishment for him was? He got his medical license briefly suspended and fined only a bit more than $81,000 (which is mere pennies to a highly paid surgeon).

That's it??? He only had to pay $81,000 for causing a man's death?

What's the excuse from the apologists for the broken health care system now?

I mean, it's so easy for hospitals and HMO's to sue patients because they're 30 seconds late with a payment or because they forgot to return a bedpan. I remember looking at the local legal notices, and they were littered with suit after suit filed by medical corporations trying to squeeze Joe and Jo Sixpack out of every last simoleon they could. I don't remember finding a single damn lawsuit filed by patients in these notices.

Fatal mistakes are par for the course when profit takes priority over people.


Supremes nix D.C. gun ban, but don't get too excited

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a big case today: D.C. v. Heller. In this landmark ruling, the Big Nine struck down Washington, D.C.'s longtime handgun ban. Bush's so-called Justice Department had submitted a brief supporting the gun ban, so this seems to be a setback for the ruling regime.

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) said the ruling was long overdue to reaffirm Second Amendment precedent.

But don't get too worked up. The Supremes aren't applying this affirmation of the right to bear arms to the actions of states (or their respective local governments). In other words, they didn't say the states couldn't ban guns. They said the ruling applies only in D.C. because D.C. just happens to be the only place that ain't in a state.

Man, they really stepped in it. Although the court finally said the Second Amendment protects individual gun ownership, they failed to reaffirm that the Bill of Rights applies to the actions of state governments. Now that's a bad precedent if there ever was one - and it puts decades upon decades of law at risk. The framers of the Bill of Rights did of course feel that these safeguards should protect the people from state abuses, not just federal abuses.

The Supremes also failed to resolve important due process issues that are just hankerin' to be abused again. So the due process matters are going to get worse before they get better.

I bet there's going to have to be a whole new case to decide the constitutionality of the even tougher gun laws in some Chicago suburbs. In Wilmette, Illinois, a victim of a home invasion used a handgun to shoot the invader who threatened him. The invader didn't serve more than a few months after recovering from his wound, but the system threw the book at the victim for having a handgun.

The Bush regime apparently thinks that's fair. But the Bushists are the crew that brings a whole new meaning to "crime pays", so what do you expect?

Have no fear, ish #448 is here!

In the early '90s, one of the major TV newsmagazines did a whole segment attacking a man who was not a public figure or celebrity and probably posed no real threat to anybody. It was truly a Jump the Shark moment for that series.

I figure that if a respected national news program can squander a segment on something like that, I can get away with using The Last Word to expose what I've had to put up with from neighbors for the past 3 years.

Trust me. When you read about their crapola, you'll be overcome by alternate fits of uncontrollable laughter and seething anger. I wasn't going to write about them, but after what just happened this week, I finally reached my limit.

I've published The Last Word since 1993. Its newsletter format is a relic, but I still publish an occasional issue just to keep the tradition alive! So point your pooper here for ish #448:

'Sesame Street' pioneer Kermit Love dies

If you grew up watching 'Sesame Street', you may remember the name Kermit Love being prominently featured in the credits.

Love - in addition to playing Willy the hot dog vendor on the long-running children's TV series - was a pioneer in puppetry. On Saturday, Love died at the age of 91.

Contrary to popular assumption, Kermit the Frog was not named after Kermit Love - despite the 'Sesame Street' credentials of both. But it was Love who helped design Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster, and other members of the 'Sesame Street' kick-butt crew.

Love also designed the cuddly Snuggle bear who appeared in fabric softener ads.

Who doesn't enjoy classic 'Sesame Street'?


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

O'Reilly spews more classist bile

I've had this item on the backburner for a couple weeks, because I try not to get too worked up over the ravings of irrational has-beens. And Bill O'Reilly is nearly as much of a right-wing has-been as Rush Limbaugh is.

On his Fox News program recently, O'Reilly discussed an incident in which numerous freshmen at a high school in an upscale New Jersey suburb were suspended from school for distributing topless photos of classmates. The fact that he brang this up wasn't classist. But what he said next was.

Showing his class bigotry, O'Reilly declared that "it's an amazing amount of kids involved with this - 20 - in an affluent school district. This isn't, you know, the inner city. You would think that these kids would have some kind of a values system."

So he's saying that poor central cities don't have a values system while rich suburbs do? You're an idiot, Bill.

Isn't this the same Bill O'Reilly who's always trying to portray himself as some great working-class folk hero (even though he grew up wealthy and lives in a mansion today)?

The public inner-city high school I attended certainly had a better grasp of values than the private suburban high school I attended previously. I remember schoolmates from the suburban school who never had boundaries set for them in their whole lives.

In other words, O'Reilly is downright wrong when he tries to imply that a lack of values is limited to the inner cities.

What? Bill O'Reilly was wrong??? Gee, what a shock. (That's sarcasm!)


Supreme Court bans death penalty?

I'm against the death penalty. It's as much of a Big Government tool to use against the public as the terrifying prison boom is.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking the death penalty is only used against murderers and terrorists and possibly child rapists, so why should we be worried about it? Quite the contrary. There have been documented instances in recent American history of people being put to death who were almost certainly innocent of the crime they were executed for.

Not only that, but the death penalty no longer applies to just those convicted of murder, child rape, and terrorism. In the '90s alone, the federal government established at least 60 new crimes that were eligible for capital punishment. These days, even certain drug offenses can bring a federal death penalty, even when the offender played no role in any murder.

Today, however, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a Louisiana case that the death penalty can't be imposed for raping children - a crime so unspeakable that it's enough to make anyone sick. According to the court, the punishment is out of proportion to the crime under evolving standards of decency - despite child rape being among the worst crimes imaginable.

Like I said, I'm not a capital punishment supporter. But what this ruling really means is that the death penalty is also out of proportion to any other crime. What crime is worse than child rape? I don't think there is any. Child rapists are the criminals I hate the worst.

I believe the crime of child rape is worse even than murder. Child rapists kill souls slowly.

If capital punishment is banned for the worst criminals for being too severe for the crime, then obviously I'd have no choice but to say the death penalty is also illegal for everyone else. Based on the reasons given for the ruling, I'd be inclined to interpret this decision as effectively a total death penalty ban.

Think how bad it's going to look when the government tries executing a farmer for growing too much pot when you're not even allowed to execute a child rapist.

Wimbledon organizers afraid of pigeons

Taking a page from the Louisville Republican machine, are they?

Organizers of the Wimbledon tennis tournament in London are upset that pigeons act like pigeons. So they've utterly lost it.

Angry with pigeons soaring over the outdoor restaurant for media celebs, the forces of Wimbledondom opted to bring in marksmen to shoot the birds dead.

The effort is likely illegal in that locale, because organizers didn't even try nonlethal methods of keeping the birds away (with the exception of a brief attempt at using hawks to scare away the pigeons).

Ever think maybe the media folks could try eating indoors like everyone else? The world does not revolve around the privileged few who think they should get to work and eat outside while most people have to spend 40 waking hours a week cooped up indoors.


More judicial activism in Exxon case

The 1989 Valdez oil tanker spill that fouled Alaska's coastline caused such severe losses that in 1994 a jury ordered Exxon to pay $5,000,000,000 in punitive damages. That, however, wasn't judicial activism. That was justice. The jury simply followed the law to make sure thousands of Alaska residents who lost their livelihoods and property were treated fairly.

But the law was no match for the forces of Exxondom, and in 2006, the real judicial activism occurred. The incredibly profitable oil giant got its conservative friends on the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to slash the judgment in half.

It was an activist ruling. No question about that.

But today it got worse.

Now the U.S. Supreme Court has cut the remaining $2,500,000,000 of the ruling to a mere $500,000,000. To Exxon, that's pennies, because Fuxxup rakes in some $40,000,000,000 a year. Just think how much Exxon owns in assets.

The Supremes ruled that punitive damages can't exceed what the company has already had to pay for economic damages. Oh yeah? What part of the Constitution or any statute or legal theory says that?

Quite the contrary, punitive damages are usually several times the economic damages. They're called punitive damages for a reason. The word 'punitive' is related to 'punish'. It's hardly much of a punishment for the wealthiest corporation in the world to have judgments against it slashed to only one-tenth of what the jury said was fitting.

With the 9th Circus and the Federalist Society extremists on the Supreme Court, Corporate America knows they're going to get paid when their case gets heard.

So sing it, corporate types:

We've got the 9th
Who needs those juries
We've got the 9th, babe
And the SCrOTUS today!

(That's sung to the tune of Bob Seger's tender love ballad "We've Got Tonight.")


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"School" allowed to continue electric shocks

It's hard to believe, but it's true.

After all the scandal about use of electric shocks at Judge Rotenberg Educational Center - a Massachusetts gulag that houses mentally challenged, autistic, or otherwise disabled children and adults - you'd think the state would have finally put a stop to it.

But instead, the state has now approved the continued use of this torture. This after an incident last year in which a call by someone posing as an administrator caused several detainees to be awakened in the middle of the night to be shocked. One was shocked 77 times.

That the shock treatments would be reauthorized brings a whole new meaning to outrageous.

Rottenberg is claimed to be the only facility in the U.S. that uses electric shocks. However I'm sure there are others, seeing how the gulag racket likes brutality.


Right-wing media censors war coverage because of election

We call it the right-wing media for a reason. It's because it's right-wing. That's why. And when it's right-wing, it's so, so right-wing!

The American media's spotty war coverage was never great, but it's gotten worse. While the 3 leading networks broadcast 1,157 minutes of coverage last year, they've only had 181 minutes so far this year, with the year almost halfway over.

Gee. I wonder why that could be.

Couldn't possibly have something to do with it being an election year, could it? Why yes, it could. Especially because of media execs' Republican leanings and the fact that every war item is bad news for their party.

CBS correspondent Lara Logan said she's had to fight just to get her war reportage on the air at all. She observed, "If I were to watch the news that you hear here in the United States, I would just blow my brains out because it would drive me nuts." In fact, CBS won't even place a full-time correspondent in Iraq anymore.

Not exactly a valiant bunch, them media execs are, if they don't even let their own reporters put war items on the air.


Doctor's office accused of imprisoning patient who couldn't pay

If this isn't a reason why America needs a health care system (which it barely has now), what is?

In Duluth, Georgia, a doctor's office has been charged with false imprisonment because of the way it allegedly treated a patient.

According to the indictment, the doctor and his assistants detained a woman against her will when she was unable to pay her bill. They had reportedly told her the visit would cost $98 but then charged her $755.

During the hours-long hostage crisis, staffers allowed the patient to get some paperwork out of her car, but they reportedly held her remote control keychain inside the office so she couldn't drive away.

If a doctor's office tells you that you'll be charged $98 but then tries charging you $755, what are you supposed to do? Are you supposed to pay them $755 after being told it would be $98? Fuck no! You fight it!

Apparently this is not an isolated incident. Other medical offices (namely, ones that are affiliated with greedy HMO's) have been reported to be pulling this exact same scam on an increasing basis.

A vast majority of doctors and medical staffers would never participate in such a rip-off. But you have to watch out for the very few who would. So if you go to any type of medical office for treatment, make sure nobody gets a hold of your wallet, your money, your credit card, or your keys. Your security first; good manners second.


Fascists harass car dwellers

The government needs to get its hairy ass screwed on straight.

With more and more Americans being forced to live out of their cars as a result of the "new economy" and greedy, foreclosure-happy banks, what does the government do as a result?

Does it limit banks' foreclosure efforts? In most areas, no. That would make too much sense.

Does it require builders of new subdivisions to set aside a certain percentage of homes for low-income households? In most places, nope! That's because Freeper types have cried that this is un-American commieism. (The Freeper terrorists think "freedom" means outlawing labor unions.)

So what does the government do? Oh, it punishes the people who have to live in their cars, of course.

In Los Angeles, City Clowncil passed an ordinance this year on overnight parking, which was designed to punish the car-bound. In fact it's illegal (not just in L.A. but reportedly throughout the state of California) for people to live in their cars (even if they have no other choice).

Other cities are even more unbending in punishing folks who live in cars or RV's. Some cities even confiscate their cars without a trial (which is unconstitutional).

Extremists think this still isn't enough, and they're lobbying to have the disadvantaged punished even further - despite the fact that their proposals run afoul of state regulations requiring accommodations for others who use local waterways.

It gets worse.

Folks who are forced to live in their cars have increasingly found themselves verbally harassed by wealthy locals.

I'm sorry, but there's no excuse whatsoever for this conduct (especially from so-called adults). It's terroristic threatening, and it's a classist hate crime. Police, prosecutors, and judges need to throw the book at the harassers, and lawmakers need to pass much stiffer laws against them.

If right-wing mayors didn't squander all their resources figuring out ways to implement school uniforms and bellyaching about the "social promotion" hoax, there might be more scrutiny of this outrage. If right-wing city governments spent half as much effort in combating the housing shortage as they do trying to eliminate small apartments in an effort to drive out poor people, people might not have to live in cars in the first place.

In other words, they have no business punishing the poor for living in cars, because it's often the city's fault they have to live in cars.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Report on teen cult makes it to YouTube

Since November, I've been to 7 protests that I was invited to against an abusive behavior modification facility near Cincinnati. Back before this series of demonstrations, WCPO-TV had done its own investigation of this right-wing cult and exposed how the program destroys teenagers and their families:

That rare report provides more insight into what's been going on for years at that facility: the cultish ways, the "motivating", the keeping kids out of school (which I'd think would be a violation of attendance laws), and so on.

Unfortunately, the media has otherwise covered up what goes on, because the cult is supported by people in high places (including local media execs).

Supremes get sonar case

This is another case in which environmental regulations are in danger of being gutted by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Under a judge's order, military operations off the California coast may not use sonar within a certain distance of marine mammals and must reduce sonar power during certain conditions. That's because the training area includes dozens of marine mammal species, some of which are protected by the Endangered Species Act. And sonar may ruin the hearing of marine mammals such as dolphins and whales as it booms across the sea. Some of these water-dwelling animals have also become beached and stranded after sonar exposure.

But the Bush regime (as usual) doesn't get it, so it's taking the case to the SCrOTUS in an attempt to get the order overturned. What it boils down to is that the dimwitted Bush White House thinks the Pentagon shouldn't have to follow the law.

Ironically, nixing the environmental regulations would involve overturning the Ninth Circuit, which had actually made a proper ruling (in contrast to its usual Bushism).

If the Supreme Court does rule in the ruling party's favor again, how do we expect laws and regulations to ever be enforced?


Supreme Court lets DHS break environmental laws

The Department of Homeland Suckyurity's fence along the Mexican border continues to be an overpriced boondoggle.

Worse yet, Bush's DHS head Michael Chertoff has chosen to ignore environmental and other laws and regulations to build the fence.

Now the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected a case filed by environmentalists seeking to stop Jerkoff from breaking the law.

I guess laws are just "damn pieces of paper", huh, George?

Then I guess that law against possessing markers at the park is just a "damn piece of paper" too.


Comedian George Carlin dies

Legendary comedian George Carlin died yesterday of heart failure at the age of 71.

Carlin of course was the man who gave us the uproarious "Seven Dirty Words" comedy routine, which was pivotal in defining radio and TV "indecency."

As a tribute, I'm regaling you with my "Seven Made-Up Words" routine. These are words that are not vulgar but were designed to substitute for words that are. I coined these terms to evade library censorship filters.

It's hard to believe that in the late '90s the country was so prudish that I had to start making up words because I wasn't allowed saying the words that were fit to describe the situation. Mad magazine did this in the 1950s to get around comic book censorship codes, but I had to do it 40 years later because of Newt Gingrich being such a Hitler.

My "Seven Made-Up" words are:


You're probably wondering why 'skeezewocker' isn't included. That's because I didn't invent this term. I first saw it used by an Internet troll in the mid-'90s in a post assailing a foreign dictator.

George Carlin was cool.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Minnesota legalizes child abuse

Twelve swats with a paddle is child abuse. End of story.

But a few weeks ago, the Minnesota Supreme Court in effect legalized this degree of parental corporal punishment. If nothing else, this indicates how weak the child abuse statutes are, if the court can interpret the law to allow such an outrage.

The incident that prompted this case had resulted in intervention by child protective services. But now, following this ruling, Minnesota may have some of the weakest child abuse laws in America.

I went to several schools that wielded a mean "board of education", but I think the most swats I ever got in one session was 8, which was an outrageously high number. If 8 was more than excessive back then, why should 12 be considered acceptable now?

(I'm actually being too generous to the parent in this story. Apparently this case involved 36 blows spread out over 3 increments.)

I wouldn't be too surprised if lawmakers attempt to craft a stronger statute against child abuse. Fanatics will whine then, because they think children are theirs to batter. But the fanatics are going to have to learn to live with it.


School begins drug tests of all students

Well, folks, it's happened: An American public school system has implemented drug tests of all students.

The outpost of this tyranny is Beaufort County, North Carolina. Under this policy, any student - not just ones who participate in extracurricular activities - can be tested for drugs if the school suspects them of being high.

I remember hearing something around mid-decade about a school district in western Texas having a universal drug testing policy, but I don't remember what became of it. I vaguely recall a parent threatening to sue the school for testing his preteen child, but I'm assuming this lawsuit warning did the policy in.

I guarantee there's going to be some lawsuits in North Carolina. I'm fully aware the Supreme Court has allowed drug tests of students in extracurricular activities, but the difference here is this: School clubs and sports aren't compulsory. School is. The Beaufort County policy applies to all students - not just those who opt to sign up for the track team or the yearbook club.

As bad as the Supreme Court rulings allowing drug tests of student athletes and club members are, permitting drug tests of all students would be thoroughly ridiculous.

If nothing else, this is more proof of the bunker mentality in which society tars everyone as stoners and "dry druggies." I think the school system is doing this just to mask its own inability to effectively deal with whatever issues the system may have.


Gunfire hits Democratic candidate's office

I wonder what Freeper was behind this?

In Fort Worth, Texas, the law office of a Democratic candidate for state representative has found itself the target of gunfire.

The office of Kalandra Wheeler was riddled with bullets from a shotgun on Thursday night. Several pieces of ammo entered the office right over the candidate's chair.

How do right-wing types get away with calling everyone else terrorists when they're the ones who shoot up opponents' offices? Weird how Democratic offices keep getting burglarized, vandalized, and shot - while this never happens to Republican offices. (The only exception I can think of offhand is in West Virginia when a certain known GOP hoaxster just happened to be around when shots were fired near a Republican office.)

This is reminiscent of the recent instances when right-wing terrorists shot a radio station office in Houston and burned an antiwar bus in New Jersey. There's no end to the violence from the Bushbots.

The government needs to launch a detailed investigation of right-wing organizations to get to the bottom of these terrorist acts.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Self-righteous goof builds robot to harass homeless

Talk about a guy with too much time on his hands!

A swanky bar owner in Atlanta is so upset about some people having less than him that he's built a robot to attack those who have less than him.

He calls it the "BumBot", and he uses it to harass the homeless. The robot is a meat smoker on wheels armed with a bright light, loudspeaker, camera, and water pistol. The man uses a remote control to send the 400-pound contraption tooling down the street and tearing up the pavement.

And if homeless people don't vamoose, the squirt gun is deployed.

You know that's assault, don't you?

I guarantee you that if I was walking down a public sidewalk and this robot began bothering me, I'd kick the thing clean down the street. It's going to be uproarious when someone does just that.

On the other hand, maybe this robot should inspire us to build one of our own to help protest against the cult I've been demonstrating against. That way, if we can't make it to a protest, we can send the robot in our place.

I'm serious about this. If I knew how to build a robot, I might consider constructing one for this purpose!


Extremists want channel removed from cable

When it comes to coverage of the failed Iraq War, few outlets are more objective than Al Jazeera, the Middle Eastern TV channel. Their coverage beats that of the major American media hands-down.

Al Jazeera's website is often blocked in the U.S. If you try accessing it, notice your access to it is sporadic.

Disturbingly, American cable companies have also shunned the English-language version of Al Jazeera solely because its coverage is not pro-war. Predictably, Comcast - the Wal-Mart of the cable industry - refuses to carry it, for that reason.

A few American cities are lucky, however, in that their cable system offers Al Jazeera. Among them is Burlington, Vermont. But if the spittle contingent gets its way, it will be no more.

A right-wing hate group called the Defenders Council of Vermont - which has a formidable 11 members statewide - is trying to pressure the city's cable system to remove Al Jazeera. The Defenders Council calls Al Jazeera a terrorist propaganda organ because of its failure to support the war.

The claim that Al Jazeera is a terrorist outlet is a lie. But this lie is not atypical of the Freeper types who squirm around in concealed poo-poo Luvs while waiting for Netflix to send them their 'Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed' DVD. According to these liars, anyone who doesn't support the war is a terrorist and a communist.

But Burlington's townsfolk say they're quite happy with Al Jazeera. For once, they get to watch decent war coverage. At a public forum, people staunchly praised the channel.

Nonetheless, the Defenders Council remains undeterred in its censoriousness. A spokesman for the group has hosted showings of a film attacking Al Jazeera. The film was produced by Accuracy in Media, a Washington-based right-wing klavern that defends Joe McCarthy and is responsible for forming Accuracy in Academia, which published right-wing hate paper Campus Report.

Predictably, many of those who want to drop Al Jazeera admit they've never even seen it! They just said they "have it on good authority" that it's biased against America.

If any network is anti-American and pro-terrorist, it's Fox News Channel. As an example of Fox News Channel's desire to give a voice to America-hating traitors, they welcome contributors like Liz Trotta, who thought it would be funny to assassinate Barack Obama. Yet I don't know of any American cable system today that doesn't carry Fox News. (One hotel chain in the Midwest dropped CNN while keeping Fox News, because they considered CNN to be not pro-war enough.)

Faux News even reported that Al Jazeera shows videos of terrorists (with their faces hidden under masks) beheading hostages in Iraq. Fox's claim, however, turned out to be an outright lie. (The claim was picked up by other news organizations, some of whom later corrected it.)

With Fox News Channel receiving almost total penetration, at least the Burlington, Vermont, cable system is willing to provide an alternative.


"Tough love" versus "tough shit"

I was summoned to the east side of Cincinnati again last night for another roadside protest against the teen behavior modification center that I've helped protest before. Such a deployment is always a possibility I have to be prepared for, but if I have to keep doing this when I'm 90, I will. The facility claims to base its program on "tough love", but that's just their NewSpeak for torture, as the place has been confirmed to be abusive.

We had 6 - count 'em, 6 - participants in last night's rally. The facility's supporters who countered us were for the most part as irrational, babyish, and cultish as ever.

But there was a bright spot. The grandmother of one of the inmates drove out of the center and pulled up to us. We explained to her the center's history of abuse and dishonesty. She seemed receptive to our message - which is especially valuable because she has a family member who is confined in this gulag.

This shows one of the main purposes of these protests. We educate. If a parent or grandparent hasn't yet been drawn deeply enough into the facility's cultish ways, there's a strong chance the information we provide can help them rescue their family member from a lifetime of hurt at the hands of the facility.

But this ain't an easy task. The center's supporters are usually unreasonable and frankly vulgar in their confrontations. Vulgar never hurt us. We protesters are tough men, tough women, and tough kids, so the filthy language of the programmies isn't something we haven't heard before, nor is it something some of us don't use on a minutely basis.

When push comes to shove, sometimes you have to fight fire with fire, and it was late in the evening that the real misbehavior beginned. When one of the program parents drove out of the cult's parking lot, she saw our orange-on-white "SAVE YOUR KID" sign and began mocking it, as if she was trying to hurt the sign's feelings. She flailed her arms and yelled, "Saaaved! Saaaved!"

When she saw we had a camera on a tripod, she yelled from her car, "Get that camera off of me! I'm gonna sue!"

Immediately following this episode, another parent pulled out of the facility in her hulking vehicle. She scowled at us that we were blocking the road. Which wasn't true, of course.

My response to this temper tantrum? "Tough shit," I calmly replied.

You don't know how good that felt! Since the programmies are so unreasonable, why should I be squeaky-clean in return?

My response may have precipitated a call to authorities. When we were getting ready to leave shortly thereafter, a white SUV that was zipping northwest on the main road suddenly slowed down and pulled up to us. Then it sped away as quickly as it appeared. I'm guessing this was an unmarked police SUV or it was one of the programmies trying to scope us. If it was the cops, I guess they realized we weren't doing anything illegal.

Afterward, 3 of us went to IHOP for din-din, and we celebrated this successful protest by blowing bubbles through the straw in our sodas until the beverage rose to the top of the glass.

The programmies don't scare me one bit, and the facility has got to be getting close to being closed down by now. I'm told that a similar gulag in Orlando got shut down recently because of demonstrations like this.

All 7 of the protests I've been to have been unparalleled fun and all, but the real satisfaction comes when the facility gets closed once and for all.

(More info:

Friday, June 20, 2008

Australia becoming the next Ritalin nation?

I know the American psychiatric industry isn't very clueful, but I guess now it's exporting its greed and fascism.

Australia may become the next country to lose a generation of its brightest young people, as prescriptions of Ritalin - the toxic ADHD drug - have soared lately.

The extent of the massacre by the Ritalin pushers doesn't appear to be nearly as severe in Australia as it is in the U.S. - yet. But across Australia, there are 5 known cases of Ritalin being prescribed to toddlers who are only 2 years old - despite the known side effects.

Ritalin for 2-year-olds??? If a 2-year-old doesn't sit still at a fancy restaurant, ever think maybe it's because they're only 2?

Ritalin is a drug. If you haven't been prescribed Ritalin, using it will result in you being treated as a criminal, just as if you shot up heroin. So why is it considered acceptable to give Ritalin to a 2-year-old for ADHD, a condition many doctors are skeptical of?

I believe ADHD is a hoax by drug companies and schools. I'm allowed to say that because I was labeled with this spindrome in my youth. It is a massive fraud based on greed and control.

So let's stop drugging children - here, there, and everywhere.


House approves government spying and telcom immunity

With the record of the Bush regime and its congressional enablers, this story seems anticlimactic. But it just goes to show how out of control the GOP/DLC monarchy is.

The Decider is praising Congress for its so-called compromise that would allow the government to spy on phone communications without a warrant. They call this a compromise? A compromise with what??? The warrantless eavesdropping program was and is unconstitutional. How can you compromise constitutional rights?

The Fourth Amendment is very clear. For the government to listen in on any communications is a search, and it requires a warrant. Period.

The new bill also provides immunity to phone companies for allowing past and future wiretaps, no matter how illegal the wiretaps were when they occurred. In other words, telcoms can break the law and get away with it.

When Bush claims this new policy will help fight terrorism, he's a liar. (Just like he is about everything else.) Under the FISA rules of 1978 that are now being gutted, there was no threat of terrorists escaping, as long as these rules were followed. That's because FISA allowed the government to get retroactive clearance if surveillance had to be done immediately. But that's gone now along with the Fourth Amendment.

Gee, talk about being let down by the major parties. You can't pin much blame on me from now on, because I've switched to the Greens, but this story just goes to show what a big disappointment the current congressional leadership (to use the term loosely) is.

(True to form, the allegedly Democratic Congress has higher approval ratings among Republicans than among Democrats.)

The Senate is expected to approve the changes next week, and Bush of course is expected to sign the whole sordid bill into law.


School board caught lying about uniform survey

If you've read my work for more than a week, you know one thing above all else: I (like a majority of Americans) am squarely opposed to making students in public schools wear uniforms. I attended 2 Catholic schools where the dress code more or less amounted to a uniform policy, and I can't even begin to tell you how out-of-control the discipline situation was.

I was against it when I was 13; I'm even more against it at 34. There's more than enough evidence that uniforms are detrimental to discipline, because it forces schools to shift attention away from more serious rulebreaking. I watched it happen right before my very eyes (as the band Chicago would say).

When you hear of a school sending a survey to parents about uniforms, be wary. If a parent or their child has fought the school before, they ain't likely to receive a survey. (I found this out after I circulated that petition.)

Now school trustees in South Bend, Indiana, have been caught with their polo shirts down around their ankles manipulating a uniform survey and lying about it.

At issue was whether uniforms would be mandated at Riley High School. The school board made uniforms obligatory at this campus, citing a survey that they claimed showed strong parental support for this fascism.

But not so fast! Numerous parents say they never got a survey. One estimated that 45% did not receive the questionnaire. Though the school board claims to have sent the survey out twice, one parent says he never received the survey even once.

Whoops. Gotcha, school bored!

I'm not surprised that school officials would lie about something like this. But that they'd make it so obvious is astonishing.

For years I've thought it odd that Indiana refers to its school systems as "corporations." Judging by the dishonesty and tyranny of school officials in South Bend, it looks like the term is fitting in this case.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Census swindled New Jersey town

Look it up: Teterboro, New Jersey.

Teterboro is a tiny town known for its general aviation airport. Like Supai, Arizona, Teterboro was grossly undercounted in the 2000 census - the count that governs congressional districting, electoral vote allocation, and funding of public services until 2010.

In fact, the census only counted about one-third of the small community's residents. An entire development - where the mayor and all 4 city council members lived - was missed entirely.

You're probably asking how the census could be so careless as to skip an entire neighborhood. As it turns out - ahem, ahem, ahem - Teterboro just happens to be not very Republican. Like the county that includes Supai, Teterboro is heavily Democratic in federal elections.

So this is yet another case where the census undercounted a Democratic area - costing it funding and legislative clout. Weird how I've found at least 6 or 7 instances like this afflicting Democratic areas, but not a single damn one affecting a Republican area.

Isn't it strange that the Republican states also gained an unusually high number of congressional seats under this census? Now there's a thing that makes you go, "Hmmm."

Supremes say corporations have right to spend your money to fight workers

I'm mad.

This is what I mean when I say the right-wing Supreme Court just pulls stuff out of its ass. It's also another case where the hero worship of federal preemption was wielded to mercilessly bludgeon all that challenges corporate tyranny.

In 2000, California passed a law saying that companies that receive taxpayer funds from the state can't use the money on union-busting activities. The law was sensible indeed.

Naturally, Coprorate (sic) America totally lost its shit when this law was enacted. It cried that the law violated corporations' "rights" about anything and everything.

Sorry, but corporations ain't supposed to have no rights. Our constitutional rights club is only for living, breathing organisms - not corporations.

But today the U.S. Supreme Court overturned California's innovative law, citing a federal law that supposedly contradicts it.

Oh yeah? I thought conservatives were supposed to be the ones who were for states' rights. The states clearly have the constitutional power to pass laws like the California statute.

An AFL-CIO lawyer said, "We don't believe Congress ever intended to force the states to provide taxpayer money to fight workers who are trying to organize a union." Knowing Congress, however, who really knows? The more important issue is that even if Congress intended it, they have no constitutional power to make the states fund union busters.

What if you don't want your tax dollars going to greedy corporations for them to suppress unions? According to the Supreme Court, you're shit out of luck now. In the SCrOTUS's fucked-up world, you now have to work harder for less so your employer can use your tax dollars against you so you can work even harder for even less!

If Big Business wants to greedily break up unions so badly, why can't they do it by spending their own ill-gotten loot instead of doing it on the taxpayers' dime?

With the Supremes' decree that taxpayer money must fund anti-union campaigns, I think America has just about attained pure corporatism - a political model where nothing exists outside the corporate world and where the government exists exclusively to foster corporate interests.

In light of the latest ruling, I also think maybe it's time for a constitutional amendment to restore laws like the California law. (Not like the Supreme Court has paid much attention to the Constitution lately.)


Officials poison birds (a blast from the past)

This is a 1999 story that's been shoved aside for a while now, but the item just goes to show how out of sync corporatism is with the world.

In Louisville's Jefferson County - which at the time was run by right-wing Republicans - the area around the courthouse was graced by beautiful starlings nesting in the magnolia trees.

But this didn't sit well in the halls of power. County officials complained that the birds smelled of poopy, which offended their olfactory sensibilities.

So how'd they get rid of the starlings? Normal folks suggested spraying the area with a safe grape solution to ward off the birds. But the courthouse big shots were out for blood, so they didn't even try anything this sensible. Instead they decided to poison them - despite protests from animal lovers.

Thousands of birds, cruelly poisoned to death. Just to please some Republican officials who were offended by the birds' smell and were too lazy to find other options.

It's not just a matter of cruelty but a matter of disrespect. The starlings did what they did because they were starlings, and they weren't there to be killed by indignant politicians.

City attacks couple over religion

This story is a few days old, but it's just now getting national exposure.

Right-wing city officials in Des Moines, Iowa, are engaged in a war against religion. A couple there is under attack because they dared to paint Pagan symbols on their own fence.

According to the city, the symbols are nothing but graffiti - even though the couple owns the fence where the symbols appeared.

This is such a clear case of someone being discriminated against for their religion that I almost can't believe this is going on in America in 2008. Wait, actually I can, considering how far down the toilet of wingnuttery the country has eddied.

The city began harassing the couple when a neighbor complained about the symbols. This despite the fact that a city inspector already approved the fence with the symbols on it.

(And yes, bigots have already assailed the couple in the comment section of the Iowa paper.)


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bush vetoes farm bill (again!)


Bush is known for making a spectacle of himself, but after 8 years of this shit, it's gotten damn old.

Last month, Congress overrode Bush's veto of an important farm and food assistance bill. But it's not known if this did any good, because a printing error caused an entire section
to be omitted. (The GOP can't do anything right, it seems.)

So the bill had to be resubmitted - and now Bush has vetoed it again. His latest excuse? He says the bill isn't necessary because farmers are earning record income.

Seriously. He said that. He apparently thinks farmers are wallowing in money.

Um. Uh. George??? Have you actually been around any farmers lately? Fuel prices, record floods, and factory farming are just several factors that have been killing their livelihoods.

Luckily, however, Congress is expected to override this veto too.


Cop who abused involuntary commitment won't be rehired

All those who still claim that the process of having someone involuntarily committed has never been abused in the history of the world can kindly retract their mouths to the unopened position now.

A few years ago, there was a Somerville, Massachusetts, police officer who was also a real estate agent. One day, a woman approached the policeman and asked for help in evicting her former husband from a building she owned, where the man had been squatting in the basement.

The cop immediately resorted to the involuntary commitment tack. He called a local psych ward to try to have the man locked up - even though squatting is no grounds to have someone institutionalized. They may have had grounds to evict him, but not institutionalize him.

Around this time, the officer took an interest in this building and decided he wanted to buy it at a cheap price. And wouldn't ya know it? Turns out the mere presence of the squatter was preventing the sale from taking place.

So what did the officer do? He had the guy committed, of course.

If someone in authority such as a police officer can misuse the involuntary commitment process, who's safe?

The city fired the cop from the force for abusing involuntary commitment in an effort to carry out the real estate deal. He was also fined $10,000 by the State Ethics Commission. Now the firing has been upheld.

I bet the man who got committed can sue the police officer over this. If you got committed to a mental ward just for being an obstacle to a cop's property deal, you'd be livid.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Jon Kyl. What a dick.

Once again, this worthless galoot is filling the air with his fetid fart gas.

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) is the asshat who - along with South Carolina's Lindsey Graham - inserted a phony congressional debate into the Congressional Record a few years back. Kyl then lied to the Supreme Court by implying the debate was real in an important legal brief.

Now Kyl has abused Senate rules to block an important bill that would've extended unemployment benefits. He blocked the bill singlehandedly.

I can't believe that with the worst economy in 75 years any one senator would want to be associated with blocking unemployment benefits. But I guess Kyl must be an idiot or something.

Now, because of one man (Jon Kyl), hundreds of thousands of Americans are losing their benefits. So blame the scuzzy fuck.

Bush of course had already threatened to veto the bill - claiming tax cuts for the rich and more rip-off trade agreements like NAFTA will solve ongoing unemployment. But you expect such idiotic claims from the Decider.


School accuses students of cheating on drug tests

You can't make this shit up, people!

If only 7 students out of 900 in your high school test positive for drugs, I'd say your school doesn't have any more of a drug problem than most other places.

But in Cache County, Utah, school officials somehow interpret this as a sign that the other 893 kids cheated.

So the school is saying they cheated just because the tests didn't yield the results that the school expected? That's just about the dumbest thing I've ever heard of.

This is exactly like when the media (especially scumbag rags like Campus Report) began playing up the nationwide grade inflation hoax. Under this idiotic meme, if students' grades went up, the right-wing media acted as if it was because schools gave them a free pass. (Yet the media has ignored the real grade inflation that benefits star athletes.)

To hear the system tell it, if you succeed, it's because you cheated. If you fail, it's because you deserve it. Imagine being subjected to an environment in which you're bombarded with constant messages like this calling you either a failure or a cheater (depending on your current standing). (My first high school was like that.)

In the Utah drug testing story - in which the school unconstitutionally foists a drug test on students in extracurricular activities - school officials claim that students only passed the drug tests because they dipped the cup in the toilet and filled it with someone else's pee.

If the school has as many kids who are on drugs as officials claim, then wouldn't the urine from the toilet also be drug-laden? Damn, talk about some really bad reasoning by the school.

Schools aren't always known for great reasoning skills.


AP tries gutting fair use

Copyright law has a concept called fair use, which lets you quote small pieces of copyrighted works without gaining permission from the copyright holder.

But the Associated Press apparently doesn't believe in this concept. The AP is now trying to make blogs (such as this one) buy licenses just to quote AP articles in a manner that fair use protects. These licenses start at $12.50 costly dollars for quotes of only 5 to 25 words - which is far smaller than what fair use allows for free.

And if you buy this license to quote the AP, but offend the AP in quoting it, the AP gets to terminate your license.

The AP's new policy also offers hefty rewards for people to rat each other out for violations.

Sorry, APee, but you're not the one who gets to decide when fair use applies and when it doesn't. Fair use is the law. If bloggers excerpting 5-word quotes from AP pieces was illegal, the AP would have raised an outcry about it years ago. So I'm just gonna ignore the AP's stance.

The policy is especially ironic because ASSociated Press articles often feature quotes from people that are much longer than 5 words in length. Can the people quoted in its stories make the AP pay them a licensing fee?

I think this new development is another sign that the dinosaur media is on borrowed time. Otherwise they wouldn't be trying to drive innovative bloggers out of business.


Trilafon and other drugs pose fatal risk

Perphenazine - often sold under the brand name Trilafon - seems to be kind of like a catch-all psychiatric drug. It's an antipsychotic that shrinks like to feed to people of all ages who clearly aren't psychotic.

It's really more of a control drug that suppresses dissenting thoughts and behaviors but doesn't alleviate whatever symptoms (if any) are suffered by the person taking the drug.

Perphenazine is also known to cause tardive dyskinesia (which continues forever after use of the drug ends), glaucoma, heart problems, and progression of certain types of cancer. (The list of side effects reads almost like those you hear in drug commercials these days.)

Hardly anyone is going to warn you of this, of course, so you have to do your homework on it.

Now the FDA is warning doctors that Trilafon and similar drugs may pose a risk of death, especially for older people. The drugs covered by this warning include a class known as atypical antipsychotics as well as another known as conventional antipsychotics - of which Trilafon is a member. This updates an earlier action about atypical antipsychotics' increased risk of heart attack and pneumonia.

Are the programmies happy now that they've poisoned so many people without even letting them know how dangerous these drugs are until now?


Monday, June 16, 2008

Yet another "zero tolerance" outrage

Gosh, we're still getting these stories halfway through June?!

In Oregon City, Oregon, a 4th grade student was suspended from school for the last day of the school year (which was last Friday) for passing around lip cream to 2 classmates. The other 2 students were also suspended.

Really? You know, if what she did was really that horrible, why didn't the school stop the situation before it started?

And this is 4th grade we're talking about. Even in my area, nobody would have been suspended back when I was in 4th grade for such a thing, so what's the rush to suspend now?

The superintendent in Oregon City sniffed, "I just can't believe that parents would want their students or other students sharing medications, whether they're prescription or over the counter, with other students." What parents wanted this, genius?

Or is this just another effort to tar opponents of "zero tolerance" fascism?

It's bad enough they didn't get out of school until June 13.