Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Exit poll limits prompt lawsuit

ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, and the AP are suing the state of Minnesota for its new law keeping exit pollsters at least 100 feet away from polling places. The news agencies feel it's unconstitutional and prevents them from doing their job.

The news organizations also fear the new law - which was designed to clarify limits on election judges - will make exit polls inaccurate.

Wait a minute!!!

Aren't these the same polls that showed John Kerry winning? Aren't they the same ones that showed the GOP having their asses handed to them in 2002 (when the polls were suddenly discontinued while the election results were coming in)?

Sounds to me like the media just admitted these surveys are accurate - WHICH MEANS JOHN KERRY WON!

In other countries, exit polls using the same methodology are employed as a safeguard against election fraud. When the polls don't jibe with the actual election results, it raises a red flag about the integrity of the election. But in the U.S., the media attacks its own exit polls (and even suppresses the polls, as what happened in 2002).

The media never placed any faith in its exit polls before, so why would it start now?

(Source: http://www.startribune.com/politics/state/29909699.html)

2 protests in 3 days!

There's no rule that says you can't have 2 protests only 3 days apart against the abusive youth confinement facility near Cincinnati that I've protested fluently all year. It happened in July, and now it's happened again!

Damn, I was tired! I only got 3 hours of sleep the night before - because of idiots yelling and running jackhammers - and jury duty and work kept me from catching some Z's later, but when I get called in for a protest, I have to be there!

Last night's roadside rally - which was #14 for me - was relatively short, but it had 8 participants, and it did the job. Trust me on that. I catch hell about the protests not having larger groups of people, but you have to have some firsthand familiarity with abusive programs to appreciate this little nuance.

Short. Quick. Sweet. That's last night's successful protest!

I wanted to do some Roads Scholaring with the Peace Bike today, but I went straight to bed when I got home and overslept. It's a death-defying life I lead, I'll take my chances...

(More info: http://www.isaccorp.org/kidshelpingkids.asp)

Teen boot camp investigated after video

Visions for Youth in Springfield, Ohio, is described as a "boot-camp-style" group home for troubled teenagers.

Now it's being investigated by state and local authorities after a surveillance video revealed a staffer assaulting a client. The victim of this attack is a teenage boy who reportedly has learning disabilities. The staffer body-slammed the boy after he fell asleep in church.

As a result of this brutality, many counties in Ohio are pulling kids from this program.

At first, prosecutors filed charges against the teenager, despite the video showing he was the victim. This charge was later dropped.

The incident happened at a community center that was used by the program. Staffers apparently believed they were not on camera. A pastor for a church that met in the same building confirmed that the teenager is innocent. He reported the incident to the county, but he was ignored until a news outlet picked up the story.

Now Visions for Youth may face the loss of its license and criminal charges against staffers.

Don't get your hopes up too much though: Ohio (like some other states) has become a haven for abusive programs.

(Source: http://www.kypost.com/content/wcposhared/story.aspx?content_id=8586cfd8-c42b-4093-8584-acaeffc7ad75;

Monday, September 29, 2008

Customers lose music in Wal-Mart DRM scam

Wal-Mart has a music download service???

Up until February, the retail giant featured music that was saddled with digital "rights" management technology. Buyers had to log on to Wal-Mart's website to transfer their music to a music device.

Although only DRM-free music has been offered after February, you still need to log on to Wal-Mart's DRM servers to transfer the music you acquired before then.

But now Wal-Mart is closing its DRM servers effective October 9 - meaning these customers will lose the music they paid for.

Doesn't this defeat the whole purpose of DRM? DRM is useless for the consumer when companies decide to shut down their DRM servers. Of course it's a bonanza for Wal-Mart, which forces folks to buy the song again.

This is exactly like if, back in the days of 45 RPM records, you had to buy another copy of a record because your model of turntable was discontinued.

You could use the analog "hole" to simply play the track and rerecord it onto your computer. But if you were to do that, what's the purpose of digital recordings? You can do that with a record and a stereo cable! However, each time you use this method to rerecord digital music, it loses some of its quality.

Talk about one step up and 2 steps back (as Bruce Springsteen would say)!

(Source: http://blogs.pcworld.com/staffblog/archives/007820.html)

About your blogmaster!

Bloggers are human. We're not machines; we're people with feelings and needs.

Such is true of your friendly blogmaster. In the year since I started this blog, I've never had a chance to introduce myself. So allow me to do so.

I am a 35-year-old man, and I originally hail from the blue-collar burg of Highland Heights, Kentucky, but I now live in Bellevue, Kentucky. I was expelled from 4 schools. My battles with serial harassment at school are the topic of my book 'The Fight That Never Ends', which I published through Lulu.com in 2005.

When I was 16, a Catholic high school I got expelled from plotted to illegally place me in an abusive confinement facility for the "crime" of being expelled. This has led to my interest in having confinement centers shut down and my participation in 13 roadside protests against these programs.

I got interested in left-leaning populist causes sometime when I was a teenager. In college, I started my newsletter The Last Word as a protest against the Far Right. I still churn out an occasional issue. I was also a member of the Northern Kentucky Young Democrats, but I later switched my registration to the Green Party.

At one point, I ran the local pirate radio station, but the FCC invoked an Allowed Cloud against that.

Between the mid-'90s and the middle of the current decade, life wandered aimlessly and frustratingly. I was in a world of hurt, mostly because of the way my first high school treated me. I have post-traumatic stress disorder, primarily because of the abuse I suffered at the hands of those liars.

A list of some of my favorites...

Favorite TV show: 'The Simpsons'.

Favorite radio station: Now none. (Who even listens to radio anymore?) My all-time favorite in my area is the mid-'80s incarnation of the now-defunct WCLU.

Favorite music: '70s and '80s rock!

Favorite 'Sesame Street' character: Oscar the Grouch.

I also enjoy working on various projects. I have a lot of books and DVD's piling up for me to indulge in, but because I support myself largely with this blog and because I take pride in hard work, I don't have much time right now to watch my DVD's or read. (Soon I will.) Reading all the books I've hoarded may take some time, because it takes me a long time to read (probably due to dyslexia).

To celebrate my relentless toil, I've been to 45 states and D.C., but not Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. I've also visited Canada and (briefly) Mexico. I also led a project called New America as a protest against the Contract With America's fascism and being skipped in the 2000 census.

As a hobby, I bip about the area and photograph roads. I also draw up maps, and I plan to create a set of detailed local bicycling maps and help support myself with this work (seeing how I've been shunned by the corporate world and all).

So that's the life of the Great Royal Tim.

I've just created a Facebook page, which I haven't had time to work on much yet:


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Corporate empire ruins chocolate

Even something that seems as innocent as chocolate isn't safe from Corporate America's sleight of hand.

Populist luminary Jim Hightower reports that Hershey - the people who brang you the great American chocolate bar - is now using so-called chocolate that isn't chocolate at all.

Some of Hershey's products like Krackel and Mr. Goodbar now contain no real chocolate to speak of. For chocolate to be chocolate, it has to contain cocoa butter. That's an FDA Allowed Cloud, and that's the very definition of what chocolate means. But these products no longer have cocoa butter. They have ingredients like sunflower oil - but no cocoa butter.

So how do they deceive folks into thinking these products still have chocolate? It's because the industry has pressured the FDA into allowing them to be labeled as "made with chocolate" or "chocolatey", despite the lack of chocolate.

In other words, the FDA's definition of "chocolate" is different from "made from chocolate."

Now the industry wants the FDA to loosen the definition of chocolate itself so cocoa butter is no longer a must for that. That would be like the time I got an e-mail suggesting I publish The Last Word with "NO LEFTISM!"

But hey, if Bush says war is peace, I guess Hershey can say sunflower oil is chocolate.

(Source: http://www.jimhightower.com/node/6608)

Student arrested for violating dress code

Arresting kids over a fucking dumb school dress code violation now?

The self-appointed fashion critics who run Odyssey Middle School in Orange County, Florida, ban clothing that contains certain colors. This rule has proven so unpopular that hundreds protested the new dress code by wearing such colors.

How does the school deal with such dissent? It called the police - like a big baby!

The school suspended about 150 students, and police arrested one for violating the dress code.

What's a matter, school Nazis? Kids don't want to be pushed around anymore, so you called the cops?

(Source: http://www.wftv.com/irresistible/17553404/detail.html)

The Conservative Fool Of The Day is...Didi Lima!

I have no doubt the Republican Party of today is the racist party. Of the most outspoken racists you know, notice they gravitate to the GOP.

Didi Lima was the Republican communications director in the county that contains Las Vegas. She was also a liaison for the Hispanic community to the McCain campaign. The photo of Lima with this entry is the only one of her I could find, but it's from some sort of Republican meet-up website.

But now she's been fired from her positions because - while she was working at a McCain campaign booth, no less - she made racist remarks about blacks.

Lima claimed that all African-Americans (every last one) are "dependent on the government" for handouts.

Didi Lima said she and her party don't want Hispanics to "become the new African-American community." She said, "And that's what the Democratic Party is going to do to them, create more programs and give them handouts, food stamps, and checks for this and checks for that. We don't want that."

She cried, "I'm very much afraid that the Democratic Party is going to do the same thing that they did with the African-American culture and make them all dependent on the government and we don't want that."

Is that statement racist? It absolutely is! I have no doubt about that.

And it was intended to be racist. Didi Lima was a communications director - more or less a spokesperson. If she doesn't say what she means, why was she hired for that job?

Right now, it seems to me like the only people who are "dependent on the government" are big corporations. The corporate empire gets skillions of dollars in corporate welfare annually.

If I was a corporation, I'd be ashamed to bring in all that money for nothing.

As free money for corporations spins out of control, however, Republicans keep stepping up their bigoted attacks against people.

(Source: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2008/09/27/politics/p172030D91.DTL&tsp=1)

Tastes too good to contain carcinogenic sweeteners! (Bubble Gum Weekend)

Artificial sweeteners are feared and shunned by a majority of the American public.

Aspartame (NutraSweet), an artificial sweetener linked to lymphoma and brain cancer, appears in various brands of sugar-free gum today. But Care-Free has long been associated with saccharin - which the Canadian government banned because it causes bladder cancer. Reports from this decade show that some (if not all) formulations of Care-Free in the good ol' U.S. and A. still contain saccharin.

Despite the dangers of these toxins, Care-Free and other brands have long touted the fact that they are sugarless. They assume consumers would rather get cancer than cavities. This selling point appears again in this commersh from the early 1980s:


I wonder if Care-Free was sued for false advertising for making people think the gum turned them into Miss Universe?

My fondest memory of this ad though isn't from when it first aired. Rather it's from only a decade ago when an Internet cult sprang up around the ad. A fella began posting in the comment section of various websites demanding to know if anyone had an old videotape of this commercial. He was especially enamored by the actress in the second scene who bubbled.

Heated arguments broke out as to whether or not the actress was anyone famous - and if so, who. These discussions eventually gave way to fanfic involving the Gum Fighter (of Hubba Bubba fame) and Spider-Man.

Gum. The energy source of the 21st century!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Rightist intelligentsia calls floods a hoax

I knew that eventually the climate change deniers would call this year's flooding rains in the Cincinnati region a hoax (for this would fit their decades-old habit), but I didn't think they'd actually have the gall to say it this early.

This has been such a rainy year that crops have been ruined and recreation at Ohio's state parks has been crimped, causing a major revenue shortfall in that state. So far this year, the area has received 38 inches of precipitation - well above the average of 33. On Fourth of July alone, we got one-third of an inch.

But according to the cult of climate change denial, it's aaaaaaaall a big, elaborate hoax!

Today they claimed - and I swear I am not making this up - that Cincinnati is in a drought. According to them, this alleged drought cancels out the floods of spring and summer. It kisses the boo-boo and makes it all better. They reason that this year's total rainfall will thus be closer to the usual amount, which in turn means climate change is made-up.

Seriously. They claim that.

How can it be a drought if you have above-average rainfall in the country's drizzliest major city?

We're actually entering what's usually the driest time of the year, yet rain is predicted on 4 of the next 6 days.

Do these look like hoaxes to you?


Ban on food for the homeless tossed!

Who was the heartless beast who thought it would be a good idea to pass an ordinance against providing food for the homeless? There's a special place in hell for whoever wrote this law.

The city of Orlando, Florida, passed such a fascist ordinance in 2006. It was out of sheer meanness. Some organizations secretly defied the law: Even some restaurants passed out food to the homeless through the eateries' back doors.

But now a federal court has tossed out this ordinance! It's no small irony that being allowed to legally feed those who needed it the most required a court ruling.

It's unclear how the city will react. Arresting the homeless just for being homeless had been going on in Orlando for years before the ordinance. I know it's going to take even stronger action to halt these illegal arrests, but at least the new ruling is a start.

(Source: http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/09/27/america/Homeless-Feeding-Ban.php)

Protest brings record turnout!

It's a record!

Yesterday afternoon, I got a phone call: Drop everything and protest! Right now! So I did.

Protesting the abusive teenage confinement facility on the east side of Cincinnati is not something I do for pay, but I take it seriously, and there was no time to goof off. I take it as seriously as I do my paid writing gigs. Photographing roads is a hobby in which I can afford more humor and fun. But protesting is not that type of hobby. Protests are fun, but amusements take a back seat to serious rallying.

Contrary to popular belief, I'm not the one who organizes these protests. Others long ago accepted this daunting task.

Last night's event drew 12 - count 'em, 12 - protesters. This is a record for the 13 such protests I've been in! And it was gutsy! In fact, a recent detainee and a parent both drove in from out of town to participate.

I held the "STOP THE ABUSE" sign. One of the highlights was when I was walking from one side of the entrance to the facility to the other side and had the sign facing towards the driveway. Right at that precise moment, a parent or staff member was pulling out of the facility and got a full-face view of the sign! Right when they least expected it, they saw the sign pop into view!

So yes, it was a good protest - probably the best ever!

(More info: http://www.isaccorp.org/kidshelpingkids.asp)

Obama outdoes McCain in debate

I was out last night at another protest, so I watched last night's presidential debate online first thing this morning.

To be sure, there were some missed opportunities, but there's no doubt Obama won that debate. McCain lost when he baited Obama with the "liberal" tag, which was as predictable as Bush soiling his pants.

Even a CNN poll shows that viewers believed in a landslide that Obama won the forum.

Also, has anyone noticed something about McCain? If you shut your eyes and listen to McCain's voice, you'll notice that his voice sounds almost exactly like Ronald Reagan! (Some have said Al Gore attempted to look like Reagan during one of the 2000 debates, but it's unlikely that this resemblance was intentional.)

Actor Paul Newman dies

When I was about 9 years old, my parents told me Paul Newman was such a respected actor that he would not cuss in a movie unless he was paid $1,000,000 for each cuss word. According to this story, Newman was so esteemed that he was able to draw that level of pay just for one word.

That story may have been apocryphal. My folks may have devised this myth to discourage me from cussing. (Actually it probably encouraged it: After hearing this story, I probably thought I'd get $1,000,000 each time I cussed.) Or maybe it was designed only to illustrate how respected Newman was.

Paul Newman died at the age of 83 yesterday of lung cancer. But he had numerous acting and producing credits even in this decade.

Newman was also known for his charity work and political activism. He once placed #19 on Richard Nixon's Enemies List. Newman was even rumored to be running for Senate from Connecticut in 2006.

Sometimes I think I was born too late, because for years I've thought it would be neat to be on Nixon's Enemies List. I guess the fact that I was blackballed by the government of Singapore is good enough for me.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Palin appointee sues to quash Troopergate subpoenas

Damn. How much corruption is there in Failin' Palin's inner circle?

After the subpoenas were issued in Sarah Palin's Troopergate scandal, her husband Todd and 2 state officials refused to abide by the subpoenas in the bipartisan investigation - resulting in some legislators suggesting they be jailed until they cooperated. But now Alaska Attorney General Talis Colberg is suing to kill the subpoenas altogether.

Who appointed Colberg? Why, Sarah Palin. That's who.

Talk about cronyism run amok. Even Bush couldn't have done it worse!

Meanwhile, cable "news" channels ignore Troopergate.

(Source: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/104/story/53108.html)

Palin cultists plan ABC boycott

You can't make this stuff up, people.

After ABC (which has displayed its right-wing bias throughout the campaign) devoted a whole episode of '20/20' to interviews with Failin' Palin, that's not enough for the right-wing cult that surrounds the Republican vice-presidential pick.

They think Charlie Gibson was too hard on Palin, so now they're organizing a letter-writing campaign to ABC's advertisers - declaring their intent to boycott them.

If Gibson was so hard on Palin, why did Palin herself agree to be interviewed by him again after the first interview?

I thought the Far Right's fawning over Bush was bad, but I've never seen such a cult surrounding any major American politician as I have surrounding Sarah Palin. I've also never seen any such political cult carp so much about negative media coverage, when the coverage has been almost exclusively not just positive but laudatory.

Meanwhile, Palin's followers on terrorist website Free Republic have urged readers to fund private investigators to "seek to destroy" journalists who dare to report any Palin scandal.

Try that shit with me, Freepers, and you'll find yourself in court.

Hawaii legalizes child abuse

It's been a good year for dominionist wingnuts who think children are their property to batter. In the spring, the Minnesota Supreme Court legalized the merciless beating of children.

Now the Hawaii Supreme Court has followed suit.

The Hawaii verdict is a bad ruling. And it's unmistakably an activist one. The unanimous decision reverses the abuse conviction of a man who ruthlessly kicked and slapped his girlfriend's teenage son because he didn't grate cheese properly.

Someone with the state's Public Defender's Office praised the ruling, saying, "If you don't have control of your child, and the child cannot listen to authority in a family home, imagine what could happen outside the home." Statements like this conjure up terrifying images of abusive adults.

The Hawaii Supreme Court has a track record of siding with abusers. Last year, it overturned the conviction of a woman who severely assaulted her teenage daughter with a variety of implements for bringing home bad grades.

So yet another state has become a safe haven for child abusers. Now the abusers don't even have to be hired as school principals to be able to get away with it.

(Source: http://starbulletin.com/2008/09/14/news/story01.html)

Boston schools violate law (sigh)

I guess laws really are just "damn pieces of paper" (to use Bush's phrase), right?

Massachusetts law says public schools may not "abridge the rights of students as to personal dress and appearance." That is the law. L-A-W! Law! End of story.

Now about half of public schools in Boston have decided to do exactly that by adopting mandatory uniforms. This comes on the heels of a similarly illegal districtwide policy in Springfield.

I'm not linking to the article in the right-wing Boston Herald about it, because it's so one-sided. For the record, the parents or the students did not "opt" for uniforms as the article claims. The schools chose the policy with input only from a select few parents. So the Herald was downright wrong.

It still begs asking why there is no legal action against the schools when such a large number of families is affected and when state law so explicitly outlaws mandatory uniforms. I wonder if it isn't being suppressed. If schools are willing to illegally suppress free expression, they'd surely be Nazi enough to bully folks into not filing lawsuits.

Offshore drilling ban repealed

Leave it to the Republicans to initiate such an ill-conceived idea. Leave it to the Democrats to cave.

The offshore oil drilling ban has been in force since the early 1980s. In the bad old days, before the moratorium, Americans were forced to deal with environmental disasters like the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill that dumped nearly 100,000 barrels of crude in the ocean, polluted the beach for months, and ruined wildlife. After the drilling ban, there would be no more spills from platforms off American shores.

Now, after almost 30 years, the ostensibly Democratic-led Congress has lifted the moratorium.

We'll see how long it lasts before there's another platform spill. It will almost certainly happen.

Will lifting the ban solve our energy crisis? Here's a hint: no. It'll be another 5 to 10 years before we get any gasoline from it.

The lifting of the ban is even worse than originally feared: Instead of giving states powers to halt the bans within 100 miles of their shores, states are instead being granted this power within only 3 miles. Everything from the 3-mile limit to the continental shelf will be open for drilling. Lest you think 3 miles is sufficient to keep oil off our beaches, the Santa Barbara spill was 6 miles from the shore.

The states need to act by patrolling their waters to keep platforms from being built.

All this for a finite resource like oil. Why not invest in renewable energy sources instead of remaining dependent on Big Oil?

(Source: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/9/24/43625/9799/814/608387)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Jack Thompson disbarred!

Remember Jack Thompson? He's a right-wing Florida attorney who got a Conservative Fool Of The Day entry for filing frivolous lawsuits because song lyrics offended him, trying to ban video games, mailing copies of his driver's license with a picture of Batman glued to it to prosecutors, and supporting school bullying.

Despite all his Nazi and other shenanigans, the media always considered Thompson an "expert" on media "violence."

Now the asshole is finally getting what he's long deserved: He just got disbarred! Among the reasons cited for the disbarment are his constant lying and his "vitriolic and disparaging" mail to courtroom opponents.

There is a such thing as a false prophet of populism. Thompson pretends to be a crusader for the little folks who fights big corporations like game makers. But his claims to populism are phony. He cares only about himself, his money, and his ego.

At least now Jack Thompson is no longer allowed to earn a living as a lawyer.

(Source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-10051241-1.html)

Watch for falling programmy propaganda

This sounds like something from the Sue-Sue files. (Some of those who have protested with me against the teen confinement racket will know what I mean.)

It appears as if some of the hacks who represent the teen torture industry have been trying to abuse this blog to gain business. They must think I'm a fool if they think I won't detect it, because I have detected it.

I checked the ads on one of the sites that was linked by one of the stories here, and I notice "the industry" has been trying to exploit our causes and distort them for their own greed-driven ends. My policy is, sites that knowingly carry such ads are blackballed here - retroactively.

This isn't the first time something like this has happened to this blog. The work-for-less cult pulled a similar stunt a year ago. I'm sure it won't be the last.

Be wary of these con artists. I'm glad I caught this fraud before probably any damage could be done by it. Forgive me for not detecting it yesterday. I try to screen links with a fine-toothed comb, but occasionally someone pulls a fast one.

Principal accused of assaulting child over hair

Three things are certain in life: death, taxes, and out-of-control school bureaucrats.

An 11-year-old girl in Fresno, California, says her elementary school principal assaulted her because her hair was "inappropriate." (Sounds like the school has adopted confinement program jargon: In some branches of ProgramSpeak, nothing is ever "good" or "bad"; it's always "appropriate" or "inappropriate.") According to the student, the principal violently pulled her hair as she was returning from recess.

Police say a teacher witnessed the incident, corroborating the student's account. Cops cited the principal for battery - but because it's only a misdemeanor, they did not arrest her.

What's that again? The made-up "trespassing" charge I suffered at NKU wasn't even a misdemeanor (it was only a violation), yet I was arrested for that (even though Kentucky law says you can't be arrested for a mere violation). Maybe this is more proof that a different set of laws applies to us than it does to school bureaucrats.

That's long been known to be true. When a school superintendent in the Northeast admitted that he mercilessly beat his own son, he got off completely. If he was charged under the laws that govern parents instead of those that govern schools, he probably would have had to do time - and deservedly so. After this incident, a school system in another state hired him for another position.

Incidentally, the mandatory Bushbot cadre praising the California principal's alleged actions has already freeped other sites' comment sections.

(Source: http://abclocal.go.com/kfsn/story?section=news/local&id=6409812)

GOP suppresses college vote

In at least 4 American locales, Republican officials have been actively trying to suppress the college student vote.

Colleges and universities are supposed to be synonymous with the free flow of ideas - a counterweight against Big Business. This reinforces the politics of college towns.

By law, students who live on campus have the option of choosing what address to vote from. They may opt to vote from their off-campus home, or they may select their school address. Despite this, Republicans lie - by telling students they can't vote from their on-campus digs. This ruse is designed to discourage them from voting from all: Unless it's a commuter campus, relatively few are willing to travel all the way back home to cast their ballot.

In Colorado Springs - home of Colorado College - the county clerk informed students they couldn't register to vote if they were from out of state and if their parents claimed them as a dependent on their tax returns. This is a lie. By law, they can vote in Colorado.

The county clerk happens to have been a delegate to the Republican National Convention.

When he was called on his lie, he pretended it was just an honest mistake.

An almost identical attempt at voter intimidation was carried out in Virginia, where officials tried to discourage Virginia Tech students from voting.

An investigation by the Student Public Interest Research Group uncovered a nearly identical ordeal in 2 different counties in South Carolina - which serve as the homes of Furman University and Winthrop University.

The fact that almost the exact same bizarre thing happened in 4 different communities proves it's either an amazing coincidence or an organized effort to suppress student turnout.

The more you read about Republican efforts to suppress the vote, the less faith you have that your vote will even be counted - even if you actually make it to the polling booth.

(Source: http://www.truthout.org/092508J)

Kucinich bill would ban voter foreclosures

Welcome to the era of voter foreclosures!

A voter foreclosure is the Republicans' burgeoning practice of using lists of foreclosed homes to deny folks the right to vote. Voter foreclosures are fueled primarily by classism - and the mistaken belief that voting should be reserved only to the financially secure.

Are such eccentric actions legal? Short answer: no. They seem to fall under laws against voter intimidation and suppression. Clearly, however, the laws aren't strong enough, and that's why Dennis Kucinich has introduced a bill to specifically deal with this rogue practice.

The bill by the Ohio-based Democratic congressman would specifically prohibit political parties from challenging voters' eligibility on the basis of being the target of a foreclosure.

Republicans claim that by using foreclosure lists to challenge voters, they're just defending the "integrity" of the electoral process. You read it right: Republicans believe "integrity" is denying someone the right to vote because they don't own a home.

If only we had a whole Congress full of Dennis Kuciniches, we'd certainly have made major inroads in reversing the Republican Revolution by now.

(Source: http://coloradoindependent.com)

Kentucky may block gambling sites; attack sites still receive public funds

Remember the right-wing attack websites and message forums of the late '90s? The Last Word covered this public scandal and exposed the fact that these projects - designed to defame private individuals just for having the "wrong" views - were supported with taxpayer dollars.

I believe in free speech and the unfettered flow of ideas, but there's no doubt that the laws are too weak in protecting victims of these sites - which constituted out-and-out harassment. I know this because I was a victim. If the sites weren't criminal, they were certainly a civil matter - but the laws are so feeble and the system is so intent on protecting and even subsidizing these sites that victims have little power for recourse.

These sites have largely fallen by the wayside in the 2000s, but lately the concept has been reborn on a much smaller scale: The new sites repackage old lies under the open content concept. Like the many treacherous sites of old, the new sites receive special rights and privileges that other folks lack.

Now the state of Kentucky is trying to block gambling websites. In an unprecedented move, the state wants to seize 141 domain names that belong to these sites and shut them off.

I realize Kentucky loses revenue when the citizenry uses these sites instead of indulging in legalized forms of gaming such as bingo or the state lottery. But seizing domains raises questions: Are the gambling sites legal in other jurisdictions? (Perhaps not in the U.S., but possibly in other countries.) Is Kentucky seizing all that comes with the domains, including the files on the site? If not, is Kentucky trying to block access to the sites from within the state, while the sites remain accessible in other states? (Apparently so.) Will it force ISP's to block them?

It's a slippery slope we can't afford. This is especially true if the sites still exist but are blocked in Kentucky, for that would be nothing short of government restraint of speech. Government can restrict gambling; it can't restrict speech. Gambling that takes place on a website falls under gaming laws. But merely viewing a website is not itself gambling.

A more sensible course of action would be to legalize and regulate online gambling and ensure the state gets revenue from it - as it does with other types of gaming. You can't complain about gambling sites not paying taxes if you keep them illegal, which is what keeps them from paying taxes.

Meanwhile, attack websites and forums operate with no limits. I don't support forcing ISP's to block them, but it begs asking why these sites are still subsidized by our tax dollars. Public universities have hosted some of the accounts that posted the defamatory material. They've even hosted some of the websites. Other hosts of these sites have also received public funds.

All at your expense.

(Source: http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2008/09/23/ap5458185.html;

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fence to break up family picnics

This is how Bush deals with the fact that he has a microscopic wiener.

On the Mexican border between San Diego and Tijuana, the Bush regime is erecting what it calls a secondary fence. It's a new fence in addition to the standard border fence. The fences are 90 feet apart, and the gap between will be a tightly patrolled no-go zone where no members of the public are allowed.

Why is the fence being built?

It's because families who have members who live in both the U.S. and Mexico have picnics at the border, and the government wants them broken up, even though nobody crosses the border during these gatherings. The picnics are for those who cannot cross: Most of the U.S. residents are newcomers who are having their immigration status adjusted, and most of the Mexican residents aren't yet able to enter the U.S.

So they picnic along the border and chat back and forth.

The gatherings harm no one. No immigration laws are broken, because nobody crosses. But the government says the $60,000,000 fence is needed because of "terrorism."

Regardless of your feelings on immigration, this fence is a pointless boondoggle that serves only to intimidate innocents and to mortgage the public's freedom to use the land between the fences. It serves nobody other than the Bushists' bruised egos.

Few in San Diego or Tijuana even want the fence. It's also opposed on environmental grounds.

But Bush likes to waste other people's money, I guess.

(Source: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/mexico/tijuana/20080924-9999-1n24monument.html)

Nazi legislator wants poor sterilized

There's another ugly face that could stop a toilet.

Meet Louisiana State Rep. John LaBruzzo. He's a 38-year-old conservative Republican from the wealthy suburb of Metairie. He had a privileged upbringing, with a prep school education and all.

He's also a classist bigot. He's considering a proposal to have the state pay poor people $1,000 each to be sterilized. At the same time, he'd have tax incentives to encourage the rich to have more children. Evidently, he considers the rich to be a superior breed of people.

LaBruzzo claims his program would be voluntary. That's beside the point. Besides that, voluntary too often gives way to mandatory. Even if it is voluntary, to have a policy that considers the rich to be a more fit class of people than the poor for having children smacks of arrogance not unlike that which fueled the eugenics movement and the Nazis' policies.

I'm sure he knows it. I'm almost 100% positive he knows it.

Not only does John LaBruzzo represent racial racketeer David Duke's old district. Even Wikipedia says LaBruzzo "is reputed to share Duke's views." In fact, nearly 20 years ago, Duke proposed almost the exact same idea LaBruzzo has now.

This is an era in which elected officials can be suspended from their duties by unelected committees just for criticizing media outlets' right-wing bias. But what's the consequence for LaBruzzo for supporting genocide of the poor? Apparently nothing - even though he really wasn't even elected: In the most recent "election", he had no opponent.

Another LaBruzzo cause celebre is tax credits for wealthy private schools - in a state that's already perhaps the most generous to such institutions. Incidentally, this was also one of David Duke's major proposals.

LaBruzzo wants to give taxpayer money to schools that already have plenty, while he complains about the poor collecting too much in welfare? Only 2% of Louisiana households even get welfare, and they only get about $200 a month each. And welfare has a strict time limit.

So he's not only a Nazi, but also a hypocrite.

(Source: http://www.nola.com/news/index.ssf/2008/09/labruzzo_sterilization_plan_fi.html)

RV voter purge fails

The Republicans have been executing a war on voting - in which they suppress voter turnout in an effort to bring about results they deem more favorable.

In the past few years, they've accomplished this by implementing more rigid ID requirements (which are an illegal poll tax), cracking down on voter carpools, and using lists of foreclosure victims to weed out voters. In 2006, Tennessee illegally purged hundreds of voters from the rolls all because they lived in recreational vehicles. The state's excuse was that RV communities are commercial addresses. (Actually the state purged them because they thought they were all hippies who weren't going to support the "right" candidates.)

The ACLU sued over Tennessee's policy. Now an eastern Tennessee county has agreed to allow RV residents to vote. Other counties are expected to follow suit.

Gasp! Letting people vote! How novel! Next thing you know, voting machines might actually start working right again.

(Source: http://tfponline.com/news/2008/sep/24/cleveland-agreement-provides-rv-residents-be-able-)

New guidelines condemn Ritalin

Schools today are like a free gumball machine that dispenses Ritalin - a dangerous drug widely prescribed for ADHD.

But now the government has issued new guidelines saying to avoid the drug at all costs. The trouble with this for Americans is, the government in question isn't that of the United States (where the toxin is most prevalent), but that of Britain.

These new guidelines say not to use the drug at all for children under 5. Ever. Except as a last resort, it's not to be used for older children either.

This follows yet another report documenting Ritalin's many side effects, which include insomnia, nausea, and rapid heartbeat. Ritalin has also led to fatal heart attacks in young people.

But those who support drugging kids to make them compliant with onerous school regimes still won't budge in their view that Ritalin is a cure-all.

(Source: http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/Health/Hyperactivity-Drug-Ritalin-Should-Not-Be-Given-To-Children-New-Guidelines-From-NICE-say/Article/200809415105539?lpos=Health_Second_Home_Page_Article_Teaser_Region_4&lid=ARTICLE_15105539_Hyperactivity_Drug_Ritalin_Sh)

House backs credit card reform bill

Finally! Some progress!

By a vote of 312 to 112, the U.S. House has finally voted to pass the Credit Cardholders Bill of Rights Act - a bill that should've been passed ages ago. This Democratic bill is designed to stop greedy abuses like hiking interest rates on existing card balances and charging late fees on payments that were sent in a week before they were due.

Of course, this bill faces a less certain future in the ostensibly Democratic-led Senate, where legislators are more concerned with bailing out financial institutions. Needless to say, Bush is against the credit card reform bill. And he's the man who rules the world.

The Decider's excuse for opposing the bill is that it would hinder credit card companies' ability to set prices based on customers' supposed risk. BushSpeak to English translation: it'll deter credit card companies' power to practice price-gouging that hits less secure consumers harder (and helps keep them at the mercy of the elite). Gee, isn't it nice to know Bush is looking out for credit card corporations?

Now that the House has at least approved this bill, how about if they reverse the Republicans' bankruptcy "reform" law (which imposes indentured servitude) like they're s'posed?

(Source: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/251/story/52977.html)

Debate shuns third parties

Say what you want about third parties. Spoilers or saviors, they're here to stay.

When the presidential debates censored third parties in 2000 and 2004, I didn't focus much on the issue because Bush's daily gaffes were such a distraction. But now - as was true then - there's no excuse for excluding independents and third parties from the debates.

So they go ahead and do it anyway.

Because he was excluded from the debate that looms this Friday, Ralph Nader is bipping mad. So is Bob Barr.

But the matter underscores a much larger problem: The forums are governed by the Commission on Presidential Debates. Who runs the CPD? The CPD has conducted the debates since the 1988 campaign, and it was founded by the Republican and Democratic parties. Leaders of the 2 major parties continue to head the commission. There is no input by third parties.

In 2000, the CPD decreed that candidates couldn't be in the debates unless surveys showed that they were getting at least 15% of the vote. It was kind of a chicken-or-egg problem: How could candidates gain that much support if they got no debate exposure? Nader quite correctly sued the CPD because its ukase violated the Federal Election Campaign Act.

With the GOP/DLC coalescence, the forums have been referred to as mere news conferences rather than real debates.

If third parties are as out-of-step as the corporate media claims, why not let them participate in the debates so the voters can see for themselves? As long as the debates shun them, the media expects the public to view third parties as unworthy based solely on blind faith in the media's say-so.

With free air time given to the major parties by the CPD, we should demand that TV networks and stations give equal time to third parties.

Not like I expect that to happen. TV stations (I'm thinking of WIVB in Buffalo right now) are more interested in cheering for school uniforms than in providing unbiased, fair coverage.

(Source: http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=132x7162196)

The "what happens next" machine! ('Sesame Street' Wednesday)

Hey, I think I finally found a clip that shows how voting machines "work" these days!

For years, I've been telling folks that 'Sesame Street' in the '70s featured a hilarious Kermit the Frog skit about something called a "what happens next" machine. Everyone thought I was making it up, but now I've found the segment on YouPube.

A "what happens next" machine was a Rube Goldberg-like creation that turned the simple task of turning on a radio into a complicated ordeal:

Even if Kermit's "what happens next" machine worked properly, it would be ruined after its first use, for using it required cutting the rope.

I think whoever designed the new generation of voting machines must have been inspired by this sketch. I noticed a few years ago that when I go to vote and press the buttons on the machine, what happens next is that I have to press it 5 or 6 times for it to work.

After that, what happens next is probably a sandbag containing the vote falling on a seesaw. What happens next after that must be a balloon popping out of a box and pulling the lever that supposedly counts the vote. What happens next after that is that the balloon floats away and carries the voting machine with it.

What happens next after that is that public officials laugh it off because (according to them) the vote tallies aren't supposed to be 100% accurate anyway. What happens next after that is you get 28 years of one-party Republican rule. Then, what happens next is a permanent recession.

See, the "what happens next" machine really does make things complicated: It would be simpler to just quit your job and flush all your money down the toilet than go through the complicated steps of using faulty voting equipment to "elect" Republican politicians to put you out of work.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

McCain's campaign manager worked for Freddie Mac

Although McCain claimed Sunday that his campaign manager Rick Davis has had no involvement with Freddie Mac in years, this claim has now been revealed to be a piping cauldron of roo gas.

It turns out Davis's firm was paid $15,000 a month from 2005 until just last month by Freddie Mac to perform work for the embattled mortgage company.

So which is it? Can't the McAin't campaign even get its story straight?

Naturally, the wingnutosphere is crying that the media has a liberal bias just because this story got reported at all.

(Source: http://news.mobile.msn.com/en-us/articles.aspx?afid=1&aid=26859857)

Peace Bike open thread!

Tsk, tsk. The 'Pail has been around a year, and I still have to tell people what it is, and what it isn't.

The other day, someone told me I should "revamp the Online Lunchpail from a far, far, far left-wing political blog into a blog about Peace Bike adventures."


This is like the time about 10 years ago when someone e-mailed me about The Last Word with a lengthy treatise on the type of issues I should cover and how I should cover them. Although the writer was serious, he informed me that I should espouse "NO LEFTISM!" Um. What would be the point of The Last Word if it was conservative?

But suffice it to say, in the 4 years since I purchased the Peace Bike, it's now acquiring a loyal following. Especially after the Peace Bike announced its membership in the Green Party.

So consider this an open thread about the Peace Bike's greatness!

Long live the Peace Bike!

To wingnuts, everything's a hoax (unless it is)

Monitor the fuckheadosphere long enough, you'll quickly learn one thing: Everything in this big, mean, awful world is a hoax, according to them. Unless it actually is, in which case it isn't.

And they're getting desperate right about now. Man, do I mean desperate! They might - I repeat, might - lose the election. And they can't handle it. So they kook out.

That's why they're vandalizing campaign signs (often with racist hate speech) - then claiming the whole thing is a hoax to make them look bad. The right-wing intelligentsia is melting down so spectacularly that one hand doesn't even know what the other hand is doing. And you're going to see more of this in the next 6 weeks.

Meanwhile, they still insist similar incidents in recent years are hoaxes - long after it's been proven they weren't.

In much of the world, there's serious penalties for the type of extravagant racket that the right-wing intelligentsia runs. I certainly think Congress should launch an investigation.

Real hoaxes though are never called out as such. Like 2 years ago when Jim Talent's operatives vandalized one of their own campaign signs in broad daylight so they could blame opponents. Weird how that got swept under the rug almost instantly.

Bush pressures EPA into allowing rocket fuel chemical in water

Under pressure from the Bush White House and the Pentagon, the Environmental Protection Agency is about to rule that it will not - I repeat, will not - set rules limiting how much perchlorate can appear in our drinking water.

Perchlorate is a dangerous chemical found in rocket fuel. The chemical has been linked to thyroid disorders in pregnant women, newborns, and children. Right now, 20,000,000 to 40,000,000 Americans suffer unsafe levels of perchlorate exposure.

The EPA's ruling appears to close a frustrating 6-year battle between scientists who want the chemical regulated and Bush dogmatists who opposed new rules. Unfortunately, the battle has ended in Bush's favor.

The EPA's decision follows a report that was heavily edited by the Bush regime to appear more favorable to perchlorate.

Our water is being poisoned, and Bush likes it fine that way.

(Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/21/AR2008092102352_pf.html)

Mark Warner backs work-for-less law

If this story doesn't prove that the Democratic Party I grew up with is nearly extinct, nothing will.

So-called "right-to-work" laws are a misnomer. These laws actually undermine the right to work: They weaken labor unions by gutting labor contracts and forcing unions to represent nonunion workers. I call them work-for-less laws: Workers in states that have such a law earn less money and have less safe working conditions than those in states without such a law.

In Virginia's hotly contested Senate election, the 2 major party candidates are shaping up to be masters of disaster. We all knew Republican Jim Gilmore was a doofus, for he bases almost his entire campaign on supporting work-for-less laws. But the frontrunner, Democrat Mark Warner, is not much better.

A Warner spokesperson said Warner supports Virginia's work-for-less law, an archaic policy that's hamstrung the Old Dominion's workers for decades.

If there's one thing that ought to be a firm, unequivocal stance of the Democratic Party, it's opposition to work-for-less laws. Democrats have diverging views on gun control, abortion, Mideast policy, what state 'The Simpsons' takes place in, and a range of other matters. But opposing work-for-less ought to be sacred.

And until recently, it was. The major exception was the party's conservative Southern wing, but in the past century, that wing never dominated the party like Warner's DLC does now.

Mark Warner is the man who's considered the future of the Democratic Party. If that's the party's future, then I'm gladder than ever I switched to the Greens.

Speaking of which, here's another warning: One of the minor parties in Virginia's Senate election is known as the Independent Greens. This party, however, is a sham that is not affiliated with the Greens that I registered under. The Independent Greens call themselves a "values conservative party", and one of its main causes was trying to get Michael Bloomberg to run for President.

Corporate America really is in control of the country's politics, isn't it?

(Source: http://www.newsvirginian.com/wnv/news/local/article/gilmore_talks_energy_taxes/28173)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Uniforms trigger uproar in China

What do you think would be the response in mainland China if public schools force students to wear uniforms?

Trust me on this: The response by the Chinese citizenry is much more sensible than what's been witnessed in America lately.

A high school in Wuhan, China, has ordered each student to buy 6 uniform ensembles as part of its new dress code. The new policy does have some supporters. But a majority of parents are unequivocally opposed to the idea on the grounds that it infringes on the right to free expression.

Meanwhile, in America, school after school after school implements uniforms, and nobody dares to raise a peep. In fact, uniform supporters pull out all the stops to silence dissenters.

It's pretty telling when folks in China have a better grasp of freedom of speech than Americans do.

(Source: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/life/2008-09/23/content_7049578.htm)

NRA distorts Obama's record, causes miners' strike

The National Rifle Association doesn't seem to have much political gumption: The NRA has actually supported some gun control efforts by Republicans, and continues backing the GOP despite its increasingly poor record on Second Amendment rights.

Barack Obama (much to his credit) supported overturning the District of Columbia's gun ban. The Bush regime actively urged against such a ruling. Obama (again to his credit) supported a bill to stop law enforcement from confiscating guns from Hurricane Katrina survivors. The gun grabs had been ordered by Bush regime officials.

But the NRA continues to operate under the delusion that the Republicans actually care about gun owners' rights.

Now the NRA has a new ad falsely claiming that Obama wants to ban hunting shotguns and rifles. But that is a lie. The Obama campaign has explicitly opposed confiscating hunting guns. Obama's running mate Joe Biden even said, "I guarantee you, Barack Obama ain't taking my shotguns. ... I got 2 and if he tries to fool with my Beretta, he's got a problem."

The NRA's ad contradicts itself: It says Obama wants to ban hunting guns, but it also says he wants to tax them. You can't tax something that's banned - this ad's doublespeak notwithstanding.

The NRA's leadership is so insistent on spreading this doubletalk that it's managed to touch off a work stoppage by coal miners who saw right through it.

A mining company allowed the NRA to bring its film crews into a mine in West Virginia and try to get miners to assail Obama on camera. When the miners refused to go along with this hooey, the United Mine Workers - which has endorsed Obama - called for a brief work stoppage at that mine.

Miners don't look too kindly on mining firms or partisan Republican groups like the NRA trying to manipulate their views. I don't know whether the UMW officially refers to the walkout as a strike, but the stoppage was necessary to crimp the NRA's partisan mind-bending.

It's good to know that some folks aren't believing the distortions.

(Source: http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2008/09/22/nra-ad-claims-obama-wants-to-ban-guns;

Separation of school and sports

Separation of school and sports is an idea whose time has come.

Some have accused me of wanting to abolish school athletic programs solely because of the instances in which 'The Simpsons' was preempted for Bearcats games or because NKU wouldn't discipline a star basketball player who assaulted me. Quite the contrary. I'm a fair-minded man, and I don't want my emotions to interfere with my positions.

What I want is for the functions of academics and athletics to be split. Sports programs would still exist. They just wouldn't be school-sponsored. Ideally, every team would still exist as long as its continued presence could be justified.

Few countries besides the United States have school-sponsored organized athletics. They do have sports teams that are independent of schools and are funded by community members. America also has some programs like this - for example, Little League Baseball. And it works. This independence and community spirit seems to strengthen the redeeming values of competitive sports.

It's not uncommon for a student athlete to be let off the hook for an offense that would get any other student either expelled or jailed. We all know it happens. School and athletics should be disestablished from each other because each has too much influence on the other.

Schools spend more effort on winning a coveted championship than on academic endeavors. Thus, top athletes are coddled. Star athletes will often enjoy the benefits of grade inflation, because the school doesn't want them removed from the team. Regarding school discipline, there's also 2 different sets of rules: one for athletes and one for non-athletes. What school wants a star player kicked off the team for getting in trouble at school?

School sponsorship of organized sports is a bit too much like the taxpayer funding of professional sports venues. While greedy major league team owners demand that the taxpayers buy them stadiums, vainglorious school bureaucrats demand that those who pay taxes or tuition buy them entire teams.

I've paid taxes and tuition to attend school, and I'd rather my money go to my education - not to sports. This stance isn't against athletics; it's about making sure I get what I pay for.

It'll take a lot of guts to decouple athletics from education. But there's a lot of things that took a lot of guts. It's been true of every successful movement. The sooner we get the ball rolling, the sooner we can bring about this long-overdue change.

Day #9 of Blackout of '08

The Cincinnati Blackout of '08 is on its ninth day now - and now the power company is telling us to expect it to go on literally forever.

On the Sunday the outage started, the energy company promised to have all service restored within a week. Well, guess what? It's been over a week, and thousands still lack power.

Now a power company spokesperson says the blackout will continue until the end of time. She said that while thousands are still in the dark, "we won't ever be down to zero, because we continue to have outages that are storm-related."


Yes, she said that. She said the dry wind that concluded over a week ago is still knocking out power somehow.

We must have a really weak electricity infrastructure if a storm that's been over for a week can still cut off power.

(Source: http://www.wlwt.com/news/17532317/detail.html)

P&G sues because it has to pay taxes

Consumer products giant Procter & Gamble was named as one of the 7 corporations that form the ultraconservative oligopoly that controls Cincinnati. Corporate groupthink led by these 7 firms made the region America's capital of capitalism in the late 20th century.

Now P&G is suing the IRS for $435,000,000 because it has to pay taxes like everyone else.

I'm always wary of government agencies like the IRS, but the millions that P&G claims the IRS made it overpay is only a fraction of P&G's profits. The more important point though is that the IRS assessing this tax was almost certainly not erroneous (from the information that I can gather).

The disagreement involves credits for artwork P&G donated to museums, work on patents and research, and other items. A corporation expects to get tax breaks just for owning patents? It sounds like that's what P&G is claiming.

I have little doubt that this suit is really an effort to gut corporate taxes entirely. If Procter & Gamble can make the IRS pay back millions, it'll be a foot in the door for our corporate masters.

Maybe the reason the government has allowed two-thirds of American corporations to evade taxes for the past 10 years is because it knows corporations will just sue over the taxes anyway.

Can I sue Kentucky over the sales tax I have to pay every time I have to buy something?

(Source: http://www.kypost.com/content/wcposhared/story.aspx?content_id=88d7ec3b-bd33-4731-9b41-20e093ba4c36)

Town to spy on parks

The Stalinist police state that America has become expands.

The city of Forest Park, Ohio - just outside Cincinnati - is getting a mobile surveillance camera for its police department. The city plans to use it to spy on parks.

Apparently inspired by a spying program pioneered by my former high school, the city also plans to link the camera to a laptop in police cruisers.

The town also plans to use motion sensors to detect if people enter a park after dark.

A police official boasts, "Down the road, the possibilities are limitless." And that's precisely the problem! The uses that are already planned show that America is nearing the bottom of the slippery slope of the surveillance state. And it appears that it's just about to make an ugly crash landing.

All this program will do is drive crime elsewhere. Programs like this have already proven this.

Orwell's '1984' is here. America is no longer fast becoming a police state (to borrow my famous line from the '90s). It now is a police state.

(Source: http://news.cincinnati.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080922/NEWS01/809220320/1168/NEWS)

Postal Service crimps indie publishers

As one of the final insults by Congress's Republican "leadership" that was finally ousted 2 years ago, Congress passed a law (which Bush signed) saying the U.S. Postal Service is now automatically entitled to a postal rate increase each year - without having to prove itself first.

This harms individuals more than it does large businesses, for it effectively increases the subsidy that single pieces of mail provide for junk mail.

Now the Postal Service has issued a new policy that harms indie publishers. This change also subsidizes junk mail such as ads. The Postal Service's new policy in effect yanks the bound printed matter rates as an option for writers of zines and indie comics. Effective this month, bound printed matter rates are now by permit only.

Independent writers can no longer use stamps or a meter. And they can no longer send out their works using their own mailbox or public boxes. They have to go to the post office that issued the permit.

This change seems to do no damage to magazines that are considered more mainstream. But it costs the do-it-yourself publishers dearly. If I didn't know any better, I'd almost think the Bush regime was actively attempting to silence zinesters.

Where to voice your opinion? Call the Postal Service at 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777), and select "more options."

It's a shame postage will get another automatic increase next year (thanks to the Republicans' new law), despite the fact that the Postal Service clearly isn't proving it deserves it. The subsidy to big advertisers (which zinesters and other individuals are forced to pay for) continues unabated.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Peace Bike evades vandals

I got home from the Saturday installment of Cincinnati's Oktoberfest a couple hours ago.

While yesterday was plagued by people throwing items in toilet bowls in the portable outhouses such as a pair of jeans and a hand sanitizer dispenser they ripped off the wall, the vandalism seemed to be confined to the tinkletoriums.

Though I saw very few political activists distributing stickers this time, my sunblock trick appears to have worked. I smeared sunscreen on my new signs on the Peace Bike to keep stickers from adhering. I left the bike unattended (but chained to a signpost) for 12 hours near a crowd of thousands, and I found no vandalism to it whatsoever.

So what do the new signs on the ol' bikey look like? Here's the bike parked near the entrance to Ploptoberfest yesterday:


Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ploptoberfest looms

About Oktoberfest: It looms. It lurks in the offing.

Cincinnati's version of Oktoberfest is reportedly the largest Oktoberfest in North America. Possibly so, though it doesn't seem quite as eventful as it should be. Such as it is, it's still got to be the most exciting festival to hit the area.

I call it Ploptoberfest, because people often throw things in the toilet bowls in the portable outhouses. It also seems like every year, preachers hand out religious tracts at the event, and someone scatters piles of tracts all over the toilets and pees on them.

Ploptoberfest goes on today and tomorrow, and I plan to be there! As such, I won't have much time to work on this blog. So consider this another open thread, if you will.

Lollipops and gum...together at last! (Bubble Gum Weekend)

Whose brilliant idea was it to name this product Blow Pops?

Although the name of the product sounds almost vulgar, most American young people in my day had at least seen this invention. Blow Pops were and still are a lollipop with bubble gum in the center.

Blow Pops were the subject of this laugh-out-loud uproarious commersh from the '70s:


I have a vague memory of that highly dated ad. This commercial reportedly made a comeback in the '80s, but by that time it looked so old that it was considered a novelty.

But people bubbled in it. That's why it's called bubble gum. Because people use it to bubble.

It's also amusing how the lollipop in the wrapper about 10 seconds into the clip seems to be magically floating in midair.

Because they have gum-filled lollipops, why don't they have lollipop-filled gum? Sardine-filled gum would also be quite the event, and just think of the hilarious commercials that would make!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Tent cities: another Bush legacy

Tent cities for the homeless aren't new, but lately they've skyrocketed all over America as more and more people have become homeless.

Although a recent HUD study reported a drop in homelessness, that report was quickly debunked when it was found that the Bush regime had changed the definition of what homeless meant.

The data in the study also predates the foreclosure scandal, which Bush helped precipitate - and which Bush won't do anything about.

Besides the foreclosure crisis, the rise in homelessness has also been fueled by cities' classist efforts to replace working-class neighborhoods with those that are exclusively for affluent professionals - creating no-go zones that banish the working class. (Bush's "ownership society" he's always babbling about means "ownership for me, not for thee.")

The Hoovervilles of the 1930s have become Bush Heights today.

We need to have a moratorium on foreclosures until folks can get their finances straightened out. And we need a permanent halt to the practice of replacing affordable housing with exclusive neighborhoods.

(Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/09/19/national/main4460034.shtml)

Man wants name cleared in allergy meds bust

What did I tell ya?

Yesterday, I told you about the state of Iowa's guerrilla warfare against cold and allergy sufferers. Authorities used a new law to bust 41 people for buying too much over-the-counter medicine, using the excuse that the medicine can be made into meth.

And now one of these 41 has come forward in an attempt to clear his name.

The gentleman has severe allergies. He takes over-the-counter pseudoephedrine drugs daily because it's the only conventional medicine that works. That is what these drugs were meant for.

When the new law passed, he had to compute whether or not his pseudoephedrine purchases were within the legal limit. He believed he was within the law.

He discovered he was one of the 41 people who faced arrest when his niece told him his name was listed in the newspaper among those 41. He promptly turned himself in.

The man wants his name cleared, and pronto. These days, there's a vigilante attitude towards anyone who's even remotely suspected of illicit drug involvement.

I never suspected him or any of the other 40 of being involved with meth. I don't know any of these individuals, because they live hundreds of miles away, but I know enough to know they're probably all innocent.

Maybe 41 people being arrested for nothing will finally prod legislators to repeal this dumb law. Will it??? Huh?????

(Source: http://www.kimt.com/news/local/28674279.html)

Warning to Oktoberfest vandals

After I put new pro-Green and pro-labor signs on the Peace Bike today, I fully expected them to be vandalized tomorrow or Sunday outside Oktoberfest in Cincinnati.

Guess what, vandals? I'm 100 steps ahead of you.

In 2004, they vandalized the bike by sticking Bush stickers on my old signs. Today I tried thinking of a way to keep stickers from sticking to the new signs. So I had to find a good lubricant so stickers won't stick.

I thought of smearing my new signs (which are made of laminated paper) with a thin coat of mayonnaise (which becomes transparent when it sits out), but I feared it may stink. So I considered Blistex instead. But there's not enough of the goo to spare. So then I considered Lanacane. But Lanacane is powerful stuff, and I was afraid the right-wing nutters would scream that it's a chemical weapon.

I settled on sunblock lotion. A good coat of sunscreen is going to cover each sign, and it'll be thin enough to see through so you can still read the signs.

What's really going to be funny is the way the right-wing vandals act when they touch the signs and discover they're all slimy! I wish I could mount the Eyewitness Cam in a secret location to record that! They're going to think the sunscreen is baste!

I can't guarantee they won't find a way to vandalize the Peace Bike again, but at least now I've reduced the odds to about 50/50.

If they want to waste stickers by sticking them on slimy signs where they won't stay up, let 'em look stupid.

The car sign wars are back!

Yesterday someone sent me this photo of something that was seen in Highland Heights, Kentucky - my original hometown!


Lest you can't see that, that's an oversized SUV bearing the words, "I'm a REPUBLICAN because EVERYONE can't be on WELFARE." The SUV has a vanity Kentucky license plate saying I WORK.

I was unsure what to make of this at first. I thought it had to be a joke. But I don't see anyone laughing. So I think the owner of that SUV is serious. The driver really is some spoiled Contract With America leftover who hates the poor and isn't ashamed to show it.

I typed in the phrase on the back of the SUV into Google, and discovered that the hulking vehicle has been sighted throughout Cincinnati.

What sort of self-righteous asswipe puts something like that on the back of their car or SUV anyway? You know the owner of that SUV is someone who has never been poor and has a funhouse mirror idea of what work means. They think work is defined by how much money you make - not by the amount of, you know, work.

According to them, a ditchdigger who makes minimum wage is less of a worker - and less of a person - than a CEO who was born into wealth and makes millions a year. They think someone who works harder for less money doesn't have a "real job" (and is therefore lazier) compared to someone who works less for more money.

Everything to them is about money money money money money. If you don't have money, you're considered nothing.

I've come up with a more detailed profile of who might be driving that SUV. It's hard to see, but the SUV seems to have a Campbell County plate. (The shape of the county name is closest to Campbell.) The data with the photo indicates it was taken on July 25 (a Friday) at 3:11 PM. It's probably someone with a posh downtown office job who doesn't have to work full days, driving home to the exurbs in the southern part of the county.

I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if it's some bully who attacked me at school 20 years ago. I know they were somebody's bully, because normal people don't post crap like that on their cars.

I'm responding in kind. I made a small sign for the back of the Peace Bike that says, "I'm a GREEN because NOT EVERYONE was BORN RICH." In response to the plate, I made another sign, saying, "I WORK TOO."

Both have been attached to the trusty velocipede with strong adhesive tape.

This is reminiscent of the "IMPEACH BUSH" sign I had in the early 2000s, so it'll be interesting to see if the right-wing thought police reacts as violently to the new signs as they did back then.

Tomorrow and Sunday will see Cincinnati's Oktoberfest. Once again, I'm taking the Peace Bike to the 'Nati and parking it right outside the entrance to the festival. Since this is a presidential election year, I expect the right-wingers to go beefuck crazy at Oktoberfest like they did in '04 when they vandalized the bike and started 2 fights with me.

I'll then learn if mailing tape was strong enough to fasten the signs to the bike.

Dress code Nazis punish student over patriotic shirt

The Far Right hellhounds who are pushing tougher dress codes in our so-called public schools have shown what they think about America, haven't they?

At Dos Palos High School in Dos Palos, California, a sophomore student was punished because he wore a patriotic t-shirt. The shirt showed the American flag and the words, "United States of America, Washington, D.C."

Nothing offensive or controversial about the shirt at all. I'm sure the student thought the shirt would create no hullabaloo.

The school's excuse for punishing the teen was that the shirt promoted American culture - which is banned by the dress code. I swear I am not making this up.

Does the school not have a flag flying in its front yard? Does it not recite the Pledge of Allegiance daily? I bet it does both. So school officials are being hypocrites to go after someone over patriotic clothes.

This is like how the right-wing noise machine attacked Barack Obama because he failed to wear a flag pin - after the noise machine did nothing but run America down during the Michael Fay tumult.

The manner in which the school deals with dress code offenses is particularly Nazi: Offending students are forced to wear a bright yellow t-shirt that says, "DCV: Dress Code Violator."

The student's sister said, "It was really embarrassing and humiliating to have to wear that all day - and just for supporting your country."

Dozens of students protested the punishment by wearing patriotic items to school. Good for them! An equally effective protest would've been to get some yellow shirts, have "DCV: Dress Code Violator" printed on them, and wear them to school. If everyone wore them, it would thoroughly dash the stigma that the school's yellow shirts are supposed to carry.

It gets worse.

While the student was talking to the media about the incident, a teacher stomped up to him, assaulted him by ripping the microphone off his shirt, and told him he wasn't allowed to talk to the media.

Yes he is allowed to talk to the media. It's called the First Amendment.

It's interesting to note that this particular school district is also under investigation for misappropriating public funds.

In the meantime, here's something to give the Far Right school admins the willies over their vexiphobia:

(Source: http://www.mercedsunstar.com/167/story/460170.html)

City conducts anti-union classes

You know corporatism rules the roost in America when a city can use taxpayer funds to sponsor or organize meetings whose primary purpose seems to be to bust labor unions.

It's happening in Lexington, Kentucky. The city is conducting a series of human resource classes whose name leaves little to the imagination: "Staying Union Free." It's all paid for by Lexington taxpayers.

The meetings come during efforts by a group of city workers to unionize. Some of the local unions are furious that taxpayer money is being spent on this.

Some who attended the first session said the contents of the event were not anti-union. But when you call it "Staying Union Free", there's no doubt where it's headed.

I guess it's no surprise in BushWorld for workers to have their hard-earned tax dollars used to fight against their interests. A shame.

(Source: http://polwatchers.typepad.com/pol_watchers/2008/09/workshop-not-anti-union.html)

Ritzy restaurants accused of stealing tips

Fine dining in New York City? Servers and attendants at New York's fanciest restaurants say it ain't so fine for them.

A series of lawsuits filed over the past few years accuses the restaurants of stealing tips from workers and bilking them out of wages. Many of these eateries are owned by accomplished entertainment celebs.

It's illegal for businesses to take workers' tips, even if they're redistributing them to managers. (Just ask Starbucks.)

Recently a judge approved part of a $3,900,000 settlement for employees at some of the restaurants. Another establishment agreed to pay $1,750,000 for missing wages. Other suits involved claims of racial discrimination in promotions.

Meanwhile, Bush's Department of Labor sits on its hands.

(Source: http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20080919/world-news/new-yorks-top-restaurants-plagued-by-tip-trouble)

Photos show blackout disparity

As the Blackout of '08 enters its sixth day with still over 100,000 customers in the dark - disproportionately in poor or working-class neighborhoods - I've got a couple photos up showing the economic disparity that I first pointed out days ago. Both these photos are from Sunday night. (They'll count as Roads Scholaring photos when I have enough for a set.)

First there's this:


The foreground is in working-class Bellevue, Kentucky. The only lights are taillights of a passing car. On the hill behind Bellevue though is the relatively well-off east side of Cincinnati. Look what eastern Cincinnati has that Bellevue doesn't have. That's right. Lights.

Another pic:


This photo illustrates this phenomenon perhaps even more clearly. The only lights in Bellevue are car lights and the camera flash reflecting off traffic signs. On Cincinnati's east side, however, lights are clearly visible.

This part of Bellevue remained in this sorry predicament until Tuesday.

Now that we have photo evidence, are people going to deny that more affluent areas got power restored quicker?

I'm not even the only person who's noticed this inequality.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Vermont AG candidate pledges to prosecute Bush for murder

Wow! Someone is finally starting to make sense!

Charlotte Dennett is the Progressive Party's candidate for Vermont Attorney General. The 61-year-old investigative journalist says that she'll prosecute Bush for murder if she's elected.

I so hope it happens. Going back at least as far as when Bush carpet-bombed a soccer field (one of his first acts as dictator), I've felt he should be hauled before a tribunal to answer for his crimes.

According to Vincent Bugliosi, who prosecuted Charles Manson and his associates, the Attorney General of any U.S. state would have jurisdiction over charging Bush, because Bush lied as an excuse to start the Iraq War.

Several Vermont towns have already voted to indict Bush and Cheney over the war - but the towns' governing boards neglected to draw up the indictments.

Blair Latoff, a spokesperson for the Republican National Committee, cried, "It's extremely disappointing that a candidate for state Attorney General is more concerned with radical left-wing provocation than upholding the law of Vermont."

Is that the WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHmbulance I hear, Blair?

(Source: http://www.boston.com/news/local/vermont/articles/2008/09/18/vermont_candidate_plans_bush_prosecution)

MTV ruins rain forest, trashes beach

MTV has long brung hype and hypocrisy to much that it gets its poopy paws on. Back when my area first got MTV (which was later than most American locales), it was an innovative, hip channel. But these days (since it got taken over by the greedy Viacom empire), it's a waste.

MTV likes to claim socially responsible values such as environmentalism and tolerance. I'm in favor of that - as long as it sticks to these principles. But this story proves that what MTV says is often different from what MTV does.

While filming its series 'Real World/Road Rules Challenge' on a Caribbean island that's part of Panama, MTV practically demolished the island. It destroyed a rain forest and utterly wrecked a beach. The island was littered with garbage, discarded scripts for the show, and pieces of paper bearing the MTV logo. (If it's a reality show as MTV claims, why the fuck does it need scripts?)

One witness said, "I have seen the aftermath of a tornado, and this was almost as bad."

Just as bad as this, MTV bribed police to keep locals away from the beach throughout the filming of the series - even though it's a public beach.

When locals were allowed to return after MTV had left, they found the island and beach in ruins and had to clean it up themselves.

I guess Viacom thinks it doesn't just own the United States, but the rest of the world too.

(Source: http://www.usnews.com/blogs/fresh-greens/2008/09/16/is-mtv-being-hypocritical.html;

After blackout, power company wants another rate increase

When you see stories like this, you almost have to wonder if suspension of disbelief shouldn't kick in.

The Blackout of '08 is on its fifth day, but the energy company that serves Cincinnati is...planning a rate hike. This rate increase for Ohio customers would bump up energy bills another 5.7%.

It must first be approved by PUCO (the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio). However, Puke-O has a long record of rubber-stamping utility rate hikes.

Nonetheless, PUCO is required to hold public hearings in Cincinnati about the rate increase. Whooooo, man! I bet they're gonna get an earful!

Great timing for a rate hike, huh?

If the increase goes through after the events of this week, it ain't gonna look too good for PUCO's effectiveness.

(Source: http://www.kypost.com/content/wcposhared/story.aspx?content_id=d6d3926b-1424-4d64-b674-3062ba015b2a)

School system launches War on Presidents Day

Campbell County, Kentucky! (Where else?) My home county!

I knew the Campbell County Schools would eventually find an excuse to add days to the school year (because they always do), but I didn't think they'd make this decision as early as September.

Using the Blackout of '08 as a pretext, they've decided to add 3 days to the school year. For fuck's sake, they started on August 11! Why would they need to add days? One of the days they added happens to be Presidents Day, which is supposed to be a federal holiday.

Not real patriotically sound (to adapt one of their favorite phrases) of them, is it? The school district will hire administrators who call students commies, but the district doesn't even recognize Presidents Day.

Families had vacation plans for those days. Now those are out the window. I think a lot of folks in my county are starting to ask why the hell they even bother to show up for work each day when they can't even give their kids a vacation.

(Source: http://news.cincinnati.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080918/NEWS0103/809180367)