Sunday, November 30, 2008

Katherine Harris the next Randy Cunningham?

Katherine Harris - not Ralph Nader - is largely responsible for what America has been force-fed the past 8 years.

So few things would be more satisfying than for Harris to do some serious hard time.

There's been some very strong speculation that she's about to be prosecuted for dealings with Mitchell Wade, the man who bribed the now-disgraced Randy Cunningham. Damn, but life is good these days!

To be a juror on the trial of Katherine Harris would be so fulfilling, wouldn't it?

It seems Wade has been telling all he knows about congressional corruption lately. Apparently he's helped prosecutors go after several other recent members of Congress who are reportedly being probed for corruption similar to that of Cunningham.

Which members? It's unclear exactly who. The now-defeated Republican Virgil Goode is said to be one. The same goes for...Katherine Harris.

Harris and Goode haven't been charged with any wrongdoing, but some believe that it's looking pretty bad for them.

This could be a good one! If Katherine Harris ends up going to prison, it would be hilarious. In fact it would be one of those moments that would so great that you almost wouldn't know what to say about it.

If it happens, be sure to savor the moment!


Radio aired White House talking points

When you read an article about an event in another country, it's often qualified with some variation of the words "according to official media." Sometimes you'll see the words "state-run media."

Government control of the news is often associated with authoritarian foreign regimes. But there's not a dime's worth of difference between that and what goes on in America these days.

Even by its narrowest definition, it was already known that it's been occurring at least since Bill Clinton's drug czar Barry McCaffrey placed messages in TV shows and magazines promoting the failed drug war. You know it goes on now, as in the PBS program on Hugo Chavez that stopped little short of repeating right-wing talking points.

The Armstrong Williams scandal of 2005 was perhaps the most well-known example. Bush's so-called Department of Education paid Williams, a right-wing commentator, over $200,000 to promote the No Child Left Behind law during his radio and TV shows.

According to Rep. George Miller (D-California), the government paying Williams to promote this law was an act of "propaganda" that was "worthy of Pravda." Miller cited GAO opinions that showed the White House had already violated federal law with video news releases that supported Bush's mangling of Medicare.

This government propagandizing has continued unabated. A former news director for WTMJ radio in Milwaukee now says broadcasters have continued to air talking points that were secretly rushed to them by the Bush White House. The White House has even hired reporters to plant newspaper stories.

Surprised? I'm not.

One suspects it's been going on since probably Bush's daddy was in office, because many of these talking points are almost identical to ones from 15 years ago.

This story also confirms what I've known and said for years: Many right-wing talking points are planted directly by the Republican National Committee.

The right-wing intelligentsia needs to stop whining like a bunch of babies about how the world is being so unfair to them, when they've got the entire media to parrot their lies. But I guess there's money in their babyishness, if they can be paid over $200,000 just to comment favorably on a failed Bush initiative.


Daylight Wasting Time: an idea whose time has gone?

Daylight Saving Time is finally over for now, and it feels great!

After the government's more serious fuck-ups of the past 28 years, fixing Daylight Saving Time might not be a high priority. But if everyone can agree on it now, we can clear it up and get it out of the way.

Daylight Wasting Time may be of some value if you're near the eastern boundary of your time zone and are in the proper time zone to begin with. In our area though, this test doesn't quite hold true. And it's much worse in, say, Louisville or most of Indiana. (Right-wing Gov. Mitch Daniels imposed the time change on Indiana because Big Business demanded it.)

We hear so much about how Daylight Saving Time is an "urban convenience", "helps the farmers", "saves energy", and so on and so on and Scooby-Dooby-Doo. But when the government extended Daylight Saving Time a few years ago, it had the backing of powerful energy corporations.

Why would they support something if it lets people use less energy? Simple. Because it doesn't. They know it, because Daylight Saving Time doesn't even apply in the winter months that would need it the most!

Even on Standard Time, much of the United States is actually in the wrong time zone. Time zone boundaries have been slowly trudging west in an effort to force communities to follow the time of their wealthier neighbors to the east. Thus, Standard Time in Cincinnati, which is in the Eastern Time Zone, is about 40 minutes off from the city's natural sundial time - while it would be only 20 minutes off if it was moved to the Central Time Zone.

A tolerable discrepancy, maybe. But it gets much wider during the 8 months a year of Daylight Wasting time - when the time is almost 2 hours off from its natural state. If Cincinnati was in the Central Time Zone, it would be only 40 minutes off.

This is a significant point, because the human body has a biological clock. Humans have an animal-like instinct that can tell day from night. If your body thinks it's 6 AM day after day after day when the "official" clock says 8 AM, you can't catch up.

I also think the work week should be shortened from 40 hours, like the rest of the world has already done, but some of the most aggravating manifestations of the toll taken by Daylight Wasting Time occur on weekends and holidays: By the time you wake up, half the day is already shot!

Millions of Americans spend the whole summer futilely playing catch-up!

What should we do about the greed-driven expansion of Daylight Saving Time? You could abolish it altogether, but there may be a select few American locales that may end up with the opposite problem we have.

You could move it to different months. If it has to be 8 months, why not make it so we have it in December when it gets dark the earliest?

Or just leave it alone - and shift the time zone boundaries back east. Folks today don't realize that Louisville and even Lexington were on Central Time until the '60s. If we move them back to Central Time, and if we add Cincinnati to Central Time as well, we've got a much better map than what we have now!

For the sake of us all, we can't let the current situation continue much longer. We can continue to condemn ourselves to lives of poor sleep habits, sluggishness, and futility. Or we can synchronize our alarm clocks with our bodies once again.

The Conservative Fool Of The Day is...Jay Ambrose!

Jay Ambrose is a columnist who used to be the Washington director of editorial policy for the right-leaning Scripps Howard media empire. (He looks a bit like a certain school principal who I had many negative run-ins with in my day. The resemblance isn't spot-on, but it's there.)

Ambrose attracted ridicule early this year when he wrote an op-ed for the right-wing Boston Herald complaining about the New York Times daring to cover the McCain lobbyist scandal.

Now he's written a piece crying about how political figures supposedly owe oil companies an apology for criticizing their price-gouging.

Ambrose assails both Barack Obama and John McCain because they "ranted" about Big Oil's greed. "Apologize and do it now," Ambrose whimpers.

Aaaaawww, did the poor widdle oil industry have its pwecious widdle feewings hurt?

Well, I'm gonna say it right now: Big Oil practiced price-gouging all year. Still does. Ambrose boasts that gasoline prices are now down to $2 a gallon - but that's much higher than it was before Bush seized power.

And I don't owe the oil industry a fucking thing except a middle finger. It's never getting an apology from me. Never.

Ambrose absurdly claims that the $4 gas prices this summer were caused by the "then-bustling" American economy. You're hilarious, Jay, you know that?

He also grumbles about Obama pledging to tax Big Oil profits to "finance $1,000 giveaway checks to working families."

Heaven forbid corporations (many of which haven't paid a trime in taxes in 10 years) pay taxes to help families who work for a living.

Ambrose says the apology to oil companies from political leaders should be placed "in perfumed envelopes." As populist luminary Jim Hightower likes to say: What a goober.

Jay Ambrose fit Scripps Howard like ass in glove. I used to buy a copy of the Cincinnati Post 6 days a week, and their editorials were nearly as pro-Big Business as Ambrose's incoherent tirade is.

The guy's a conservafool!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

From the man who's wrong about everything!

You have to wonder what Weekly Standard founder William Kristol is trying to accomplish every time he makes one of his thoughtless pronouncements.

Maybe he's actually got some big, important ideas in store for us someday, and he wants to get our attention first by sounding as stubbornly idiotic as possible in the meantime.

In Kristol's latest laughable installment, he wants Bush to give the Medal of Freedom to officials who wiretapped without warrants and administered torture.

Giving the Medal of Freedom to people for violating the Constitution? That's as absurd as Kristol's whine in the same piece that the Republicans "won't get the credit they deserve for successes in Iraq."


To map or not to map?

To map or not to map? That is the question!

Drawing bicycling maps for Cincinnati area neighborhoods is sort of a side job I have. I've completed maps for 2 small northern Kentucky towns, and now I've finished one for Cincinnati's Pendleton neighborhood.

I really didn't know how to handle this one. There's a handful of neighborhoods in Cincinnati that boast a spectacularly high crime rate, and I don't have much reason to visit these areas. So I almost never do.

Are they safer than a suburban Catholic high school I once attended? By a long shot! That doesn't mean the area is safe: A nearby neighborhood did host an infamous gun battle outside a school a few years back.

Almost everything within Cincinnati city limits is reasonably safe, but there's always exceptions. Under Bush, the crime rate has soared locally as it has nationally, so no individual can still count on their own safety on every street. Anyone who seriously thinks America is safer than 30 years ago has their head up their ass.

I completed my Pendleton map because it's such a tiny area. Pendleton is a wedge-shaped neighborhood just northeast of downtown. Pendleton includes much of Bunker Alley, for which bunker blasts are named. (Just joking about the bunker blast part.)

Speaking of bunkers, to see my maps, point yours here:

Bubble gum and the age of discovery! (Bubble Gum Weekend)

Compared to BushAmerica, almost everything else seems like the age of discovery. Many folks such as me who like to discover would have gone much further in life if they lived in certain other times and places. Perhaps not all discovery-minded individuals would have succeeded in all other times, but certainly some would have been more likely to prosper in some times.

Things weren't perfect centuries ago. In many ways, they weren't even good. But if America was run 100 years ago the way the GOP misrules it now, the Wright brothers never would have discovered airplane travel. They would have been forced to keep quiet, study unrelated subjects, and put on a suit and tie just to have someone else get rich off their work.

And that creatively funny series of Care-Free gum commercials from the '70s never would have happened! Perish the thought!

That series also featured this commersh (reportedly from 1978):

In that ad, Isaac Newton discovers the theory of gravity. And he discovers bubble gum too! Of course. Some dude even bubbled!

Incidentally I don't recall that ad like I remembered the Wright brothers ad. I do remember one commersh in this series featuring George Washington - which has yet to surface online.

Commercials today aren't nearly as creative, but if they were, who would they feature? Perhaps John McCain thinking he discovered the BlackBerry pager.

"John McCain, you've discovered Care-Free gum!"

"No, something really hard to swallow: I've discovered the BlackBerry!"

And at the end of the ad, Bush appears blowing a bubble like in the old photo from his college years, and the jingle sings, "32% unemployment..."

Open thread

Friday, November 28, 2008

Congress investigates Spitzer case

Was former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (who is a married man) right to hire a prostitute (a scandal that led to his resignation)? Of course not. Nobody here ever said he was. But does something like this affect one's ability to govern? No. It was a personal matter, not a public one.

When a politician does something like this, I try to let it slide - unless they built their career on telling everyone else how to live. Spitzer is a Democrat - but the Republicans are usually the ones trying to control everyone's private lives. If you think I'm practicing a double standard, the Republicans have visited it upon themselves by sticking their noses into everyone else's sex lives.

A few question my stance, but the GOP reaps what it sows.

Was it right for the feds to launch a politically motivated probe of Spitzer, which led to his downfall? Absolutely not. And there's no question that the Bush regime abused its powers to catch the governor.

For once, however, Congress is making itself useful by investigating this abuse. The House Financial Services Committee is trying to see if federal agents abused their massively expanded powers that the Patriot Act gave them.

Of course they did. In my opinion, anytime you do anything authorized by the Idiot Act, it's abuse, because the law itself is abuse. The Patriot Act is a rogue law. Null, void, and boomsplackerspluzzy.

Spitzer was caught because, under the Idiot Act, certain bank transfers trigger a "suspicious activity report." That enabled the public spectacle that transpired early this year. The Bush regime doesn't give a fuck about catching terrorists. They only care about ruining the careers of political enemies.

No Patriot Act = no Spitzer case.

All of this highlights how the Patriot Act has nothing to do with halting terrorism and everything to do with government partisans going after foes.


Damn! The Last Word must be dangerous!

Already there's some new developments in the closure of The Last Word's Yahoo e-mail list. When I posted my notice that I was shutting it down, that e-mail got through - which proves Yahoo was specifically targeting The Last Word itself. The Last Word must be dangerous. After what happened to it on Usenet some years back, I knew The Last Word was considered subversive by the right-wing power base, but I didn't know they still paid much attention to it.

When I went to delete my e-mail list, a page popped up that said, "Please let us know why you are deleting this group."

So I actually had to give a reason? What is this? Russia?

Speaking of which, I couldn't let Yahoo's collaboration with the government of mainland China go unchallenged any more than its censorship of The Last Word. So, as my reason for shutting down my e-mail list, I said:

"Censorship by Yahoo (lovers of the Red Chinese government)"

Now, according to Wikipedia, the appellation Red China supposedly fell out of favor in the '70s because of improved relations with the Chinese government. But who gives a shit? The major entities that improved their relations with it seem to be the Republicans and Yahoo - both of whom cozy up to it every chance they get.

It seems that the Republicans since the '80s haven't found a dictatorship they didn't like, and that's why nothing has been done about Yahoo ratting out journalists to the regime in China. The GOP's cult of globalism has ruled the roost for too long.

As for the censorship of The Last Word, this may signal only good times ahead. There's a saying: First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. I think the online censors may be at the third stage now.

The end of an era

Well, folks, I knew this day was coming.

After hundreds of issues of The Last Word, I think it's time to move on.

No, I'm not shutting down The Last Word. (I really had you scared for a moment, didn't I?) But due to circumstances beyond my control, The Last Word's e-mail list on Yahoo is reaching its closure after 9 years. I for one won't miss dealing with it, as it is on Yahoo.

My first Last Word e-mail list, of 1995-96, ended in shambles for several reasons. For starts, AOL kept splitting issues in half. For another thing, assholes kept signing up for my list just so they could complain it was "spam."

I started the current list on eGroups in 1999. But in 2000, Yahoo took over eGroups. In postdemocratic America, greed-driven corporate mergers are considered a constitutional right, you know.

There The Last Word stayed. When I discovered Yahoo enjoyed ratting out journalists to the Chinese government, I wrote a piece in The Last Word begging and pleading for Yahoo to kick me off their miserable system so I could go out with a bang! But they didn't budge! They didn't want to make me a martyr for freedom of conscience.

By then, Yahoo was known for shutting down groups and e-mail lists for no apparent reason. When moderators of the deleted lists asked why, Yahoo replied that they couldn't divulge why. ("You just don't argue anymore...")

But The Last Word's mailing list lived on!

Until now.

Yesterday, when I put out my latest issue, I tried e-mailing it to my Yahoo list as always. It never got through. I tried it again today. Again, it never got through.

Apparently, Yahoo is blocking my newsletter from going through at all - thus rendering the e-mail list useless. Only the very naive would think this isn't because of the contents.

Therefore I shall be shutting down my Yahoo list this evening. Fuck you hard, Yahoo, for taking over eGroups. And for reporting journalists to the Chinese government to be imprisoned just for doing their job. Yahoo is an American-based company, and American companies do not rat out journalists to oppressive foreign regimes just for the way they report the news.

I really wanted to get my Yahoo account yanked a couple years ago, and I regret not being able to do it then.

The U.S. government needs to step in and review the takeover of eGroups and let eGroups be split off again. And it needs to crack down on American companies who collude with oppressive regimes abroad. Congress needs to pass a law barring American companies from turning in journalists.

I plan to post this notice on my Last Word e-mail list, but it probably won't do any good, as Yahoo is blocking my posts. In case anyone does read it there though, I plan to continue The Last Word, which you can find at:

Because The Last Word is largely overtaken by The Online Lunchpail, my popular blog, you can find that at:

In the immortal words of Judge Paul Trevor: That'll be all.

City tries to limit church protests

Right-wing websites advocate killing people because of their religion - but their allies support outlawing peaceful protests against a church bureaucracy.

In short, they are intolerant extremists. And they believe the country's public policies must be based on their beliefs. Make no mistake about it: They are the American Taliban.

City officials in Draper, Utah, fit this mold, as they're supporting a proposed ordinance designed to suppress criticism of the Mormon church's bureaucracy. As the opening of a new Mormon temple in Draper looms, the city may pass a law implementing "free speech zones" that confine dissenters to small areas away from the temple.

One local attorney calls it unconstitutional - which it is. "Under the First Amendment, the entire country is a free speech zone," he said. Free speech is supposed to apply on all public rights-of-way.

Hell, if I lived in that area, I'd probably hold a protest just to speak out against this new ordinance! If the Taliban wants to arrest me for protesting on a public right-of-way, let them get sued.


Wal-Mart clerk killed in stampede

As Wal-Mart consolidates its monopoly in many American communities, the retail giant has received yet another black eye.

At a Wal-Mart in Valley Stream, New York, a clerk died this morning when hundreds of holiday shoppers were able to smash through the doors and trample him. Numerous customers were injured.

The store was unappreciative of the employee who died on behalf of its corporatist business model. It opted to remain open throughout the ordeal. It wasn't closed until police were able to shut it down.

Customers who participated in the mayhem should shoulder much of the blame for the incident. But Wal-Mart has a responsibility to prevent stampedes like this.

This story also underlines the ravages of the cult of consumer capitalism - which the retail industry and the media have long fed. People will ship their own kids off if they skip 3 hours of school, but they'll trample their neighbors just to buy that hot new fall-apart toy that ends up in a yard sale by March.


Teacher loses job for opposing beatings

The school system in much of America means hefty doses of corporal punishment.

In many districts, no dissent from this order is tolerated. Retaliation against dissenters is actually worsening.

In Booneville, Mississippi, a special education teacher's contract was not renewed, because she opposed brutally paddling an autistic student. To support her stance, she cited studies proving that corporal punishment in schools is harmful.

In other words, a teacher was fired just because of what she thinks (even though her beliefs were backed up by factual studies). Under BushAmerica's thought police, those who are opposed to smacking kids around are told to keep their mouths shut, or they end up losing their jobs.

Furthermore, the school district lied about the reason for the dismissal. They told her they had to let her go because budget cuts forced the elimination of her position. But then the school system turned around and hired someone else to replace her.

Now the teacher who lost her job has filed a federal lawsuit because the school broke the law by not renewing her contract because of her views.

It's pretty sad when school districts try to police thoughts of employees. But they've been doing the same to students for decades, so who's surprised?


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Have no fear, ish #450 is here!

Today, as you give thanks for the harvest with family and friends, pop open a keg or three and enjoy the latest issue of The Last Word - which continues its 16-year heritage of mixing serious commentary and humor!

This ish includes several pieces you might find interesting. Read about the 12-year-old kid who got arrested just for farting at school. Feast your eyes on my travelogue of last year's road trip in which Mountain Dew got spilled down inside the TV in a hotel room. Learn about bizarre vandalism at a respected Canadian art gallery.

For all this and more, point your pooper here:

(Also, this is the last time I'm copying a release like this to MySpace, because their blog feature is so hard to use.)

Thanksgiving open thread

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

MySpace sociopath let off easy

In today's America, how do you guarantee yourself a life on Easy Street in which you're pampered like a monarch and protected from even mild criticism for the rest of your years?

By becoming a sociopath!

If you're an online predator or bully, everything comes easy to you. And you can forget ever being held fully accountable for your crimes. America since about the mid-'90s has worshiped sociopathy. Right and wrong are considered dirty words these days.

This point was underscored by the outcome of the criminal trial of a 49-year-old Missouri woman who abused MySpace to help lead a hateful hoax that led to the suicide of a 13-year-old girl. Today the defendant was let off easy for her role in the crime.

The federal jury failed to convict on the conspiracy charge or the 3 felony counts of accessing computers without authorization to inflict emotional harm. It's unclear whether this is because the jury wasn't allowed to hear all the evidence. (The Bush-appointed judge had threatened to bar jurors from hearing the fact that there was even a suicide.)

Instead, the defendant was convicted on only 3 misdemeanors and faces a maximum of only 3 years - a small price for killing an innocent teenager. The victim is dead, but the perpetrator will walk after 3 years at most.

That's BushAmerica's idea of "justice"?


Raided program backs Roloff

America's modern teen confinement racket is modeled on several unsavory programs. Much of it descends from techniques found in POW camps, which were later adopted by cults of the '50s and '60s. A great deal of today's suffering though wouldn't be possible without the late Lester Roloff.

In the '70s, Roloff, a right-wing preacher, was known for his youth homes in Texas and other states that used heavy corporal punishment, forced kids to listen to tapes of his sermons for days on end, and refused to allow state inspections. Texas closed Roloff down, but in 1997, then-Gov. George W. Bush - being the big Nazi he is - enacted new laws to let the centers reopen. Roloff had died in 1982 in a plane crash, but his supporters carried on his "work."

Probably every teen confinement center in America today has some aspects that were inspired by Roloff's homes. The "quiet room", for instance, is almost pure Roloff.

When I was reviewing the clips about the raid on Reclamation Ranch in Alabama following abuse allegations there, I detected something I didn't notice the first time I viewed them. See if you can spot it:

Did you catch it? It's at 1:20.

The white van belonging to the program is emblazoned with the words, "IN HONOR OF LESTER ROLOFF."

So this program not only probably has some methods that descended from Roloff's abusive practices, but seems to be explicitly based on the dangerous Roloff modality. Why else would they pay so much gratitude to the late preacher?

The van windows also use that dark tinting characteristic of cars used by Kids Helping Kids, the Cincinnati cult that got smacked down recently by the roadside protests I was involved in.

The more you investigate teen programs, the more they seem to have in common.

Alabama youth facility raided

Another teen facility has been raided for child abuse allegations - this time in Alabama.

Reclamation Ranch describes itself as a Christian program for troubled young people, and it has several facilities in that area. The one that was raided is called Lighthouse Academy and is for boys ages 12 to 17. Eleven boys were removed from Lighthouse Academy by authorities on Saturday after allegations of beatings and torture. Foster parents who housed kids from the program also say the teens were forced to eat spoiled cereal.

Reclamation Ranch denies the accusations. But other programs have also denied abuse accusations - even when abuse was confirmed. After being abused by another program, and after my involvement in investigating such facilities, I refuse to take any program at its word. If they're committing child abuse, do you really think they're going to admit it?

The center that was raided in Alabama calls itself a "minimum one-year program" that teaches kids "how to obey authority." This very description is enough to send chills up your spine.

At a hearing yesterday, the 11 boys taken from Lighthouse Academy were returned to their families.

One commenter on the Alabama paper's site says that Reclamation Ranch supports Kent Hovind, a right-wing conspiracy theorist who is serving federal prison time for tax fraud. I'm trying to be fair here, but frankly it doesn't look good for Reclamation Ranch. Then again, I don't know of many youth residential facilities that don't believe in right-wing conspiracy theories, so no surprise there.

You also have to consider the fact that it takes a lot for a program to be raided. At many facilities, abuse is obvious to anyone who might investigate for more than a few minutes, yet authorities never take action.

Also, there's a couple of TV news reports about the raid up on YouPube already:



Can't read...Can't read... ('Sesame Street' Wednesday)

'Sesame Street' seems to have an unusually high illiteracy rate.

Several sketches have made reference to Cookie Monster's weak reading skills. Another segment reveals that even the Number Painter hasn't been blessed with the gift of literacy.

So it's ironic that 'Sesame Street' would feature a song promoting reading:

That segment was from the '80s when I was a little too old for 'Sesame Street', but I know I saw it at a family member's house one weekend around 1991. I was watching 'Sesame Street' because all the other channels were showing preacher beg-a-thons.

Also, is it just an illusion, or does the back of Bob's newspaper feature ads for escort services?

I always used to think of additional verses to this song that had to do with other reading materials. I think it would pib if a fourth verse featured Amazing Mumford singing:

In a porno book
I got to take a look
At those filthy photos Grover took
Can read
Can read
A porno book you can read
A porno book's all you need
And you can read

It's great when you can read! Yeah!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Robert Gates??? Really???

America spends all this effort to put a Democrat in the White House, and this is what it gets in return.

Decisions like this are one of the key reasons I switched to the Greens. I think it's safe to say Cynthia McKinney never would have reappointed ROBERT GATES, of all people!

Robert Hates was the Conservative Fool Of The Day for 11/29/06 because of his Iran/Contragate involvement and because he had demanded the bombing of Nicaragua. Gates was also one of the chief architects of the Bush regime's failed Iraq War troop surge.

And so, the right-wing revolving door continues to swing around nutsack-like - even with a party change at the top.

Bailout bonanza balloons (at your expense, of course!)

Damn, this recession is great!

If you're a corporation, that is. It seems that all a big corporation - especially a major bank - needs to do to get taxpayer money is hold out its hand, and the cash plops right in.

Now the government is about to give - get this, folks - almost $8,000,000,000,000 more to Corporate America.

Look at that number again, folks. That's 8,000,000,000,000. That's not 8 million. Not 8 billion. It's 8 trillion. I expressed it in numeric format just to show you how big a trillion is. A trillion is a million times a million.

This sum is about $25,000 for every man, woman, and child in the United States. It's also 9 times what the U.S. has spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts combined.

Worse, the government won't even reveal which financial institutions are getting our money!

All this after banks spent the original bailout money to swallow up smaller banks and buy its executives swanky new jet airplanes.


Citigroup gets bailout after spending millions to name stadium

Citigroup is paying the New York Mets $400,000,000 just to have its name on the ball club's new stadium. This deal is still in place even as the banking giant has announced that it's firing 52,000 employees and as the company's stock values have declined by half.

Shittypoop can spend almost a half-billion on stadium naming rights yet has to fire over 50,000 workers???

It gets worse.

Now Citigroup has just gotten a taxpayer-funded government bailout worth over a quarter-trillion dollars. This $300,000,000,000 isn't spread across the industry. It goes entirely to Shittypoop.

So the American taxpayers are effectively paying for Citigroup to faceplant its name all over the Mets' ballpark. Lovely. Citigroup can't manage itself well enough to comprehend why keeping 50,000 workers on the job is better than putting its name on a stadium - and now it's getting rewarded for it.

Hey, if I do something incredibly stupid, can I get $300,000,000,000 in taxpayer money for it?


Subway...Eat campaign literature!

A congressional election in Louisiana still lurks in December (because the primary was delayed by hurricane season), and here's one candidate who deserves to lose in a landslide: John C. Fleming, a wealthy Republican who finances most of his own campaign.

John Fleming is a physician and author. Of course, that's not why I'm against him. Writers and doctors do many wonderful things. I'm against Fleming because he's a right-wing extremist who supports a 30% national sales tax - and he fills his website with propaganda like "Every Child is a Potential Drug Addict" and links to teen residential programs and sellers of home drug tests in case you "would like to test someone."

Fleming, the owner of 30 Subway restaurants, has also gained ridicule for his campaign practices. If you happen to pick up a sandwich at a Subway in northern Louisiana (without knowing that Fleming owns the place), you might find the bag for your meal stuffed full of Fleming campaign materials.

Many customers discovered this and were disheartened. John Fleming's election opponents weren't too pleased either, and they questioned whether this unholy matrimony of politics and commerce was even legal. They were also concerned about Fleming's campaign commercials featuring him in one of the Subways he owns.

Part of the problem is that Fleming makes it appear as if Subway Restaurants (the chain itself, not just the 30 shops he owns) endorses his candidacy. But the candidate maintains that everything is groovy. Still, the Federal Election Commission has never specifically addressed this sort of activity.

Customers and political opponents are unimpressed, but employees of Fleming's Subways who have to stuff the bags with his campaign propaganda are downright furious - especially because many of them were already supporters of one of his opponents!

I guess we can't expect someone who provides links on his website to teen confinement facilities not to be smug enough to think his congressional campaign is worthy of unadulterated praise 100% of the time.


Get your TV Brick ready: Fox adds infomercials

When over-the-air networks add an infomercial block, it's fair to say the American television industry has finally reached its point of collapse.

Infomercials (which are literally program-length commercials) used to violate FCC regulations against airing too much advertising - rules that were lifted by the Reagan regime. Many infomercials are outright scams, advertising get-rich-quick rip-offs and bogus weight loss drugs.

These days, individual TV stations fill much of the weekends, overnights, and even afternoons with infomercials. Cable channels have begun doing the same - and cable households have to pay for this shit. Occasionally a national political candidate will run a one-time campaign infomercial on the networks.

But no regular-assed over-the-air TV network in the U.S. of A. nation has ever aired regularly scheduled infomercials.

Until now.

Starting in January, Fox will replace part of its Saturday morning children's programming block with 2 hours of infomercials.

If I owned a station that was affiliated with Fox, this would be crying out for a local preemption. Even if I had to bring back those slides from 1983 and have a voiceover announcer just read the AP wire, there's no way in hell I'd show network infomercials. But TV stations apparently aren't so bright: Fox's infomercial block has cleared 95% of the network's affiliates.

Stations are so eager to preempt 'The Simpsons' for a college basketball game that has 3 viewers, but infomercials get 95% clearance?

Do Fox-affiliated stations even gain anything from showing network infomercials?

It gets worse. Fox plans to team up with major advertisers to create infomercials that resemble regular programs but are actually built around the product being advertised. This slick brand of infomercial is designed to blur the lines between programming and advertising.

It's time the FCC steps in and puts its foot down like it used to. Maybe when affiliates' licenses come up for renewal, the FCC might be interested in hearing comments from the public about how the stations are misusing the airwaves (which are supposed to belong to the people).


Court legalizes warrantless searches

This story is yet another strike against liberty, justice, and the very rule of law (or as Bush calls it, the rule of "damn pieces of paper").

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has decreed that warrantless searches by the U.S. government of American citizens are legal if they take place abroad. In other words, the government doesn't even have to obey the very Constitution that's supposed to be the law of the land.

The court said that these warrantless searches must be reasonable as the Constitution requires. Uh. Look at the Constitution. The Constitution also says searches can't be warrantless.


Whatever you think about a defendant's guilt or innocence, America is supposed to be a nation of laws. If you've ever been arrested, you've probably endured a lecture about the importance of rules and laws. So the government should obey the law itself.

It should also obey other countries' laws. This case involved a search by the U.S. government of an American citizen that took place in Kenya. Like the U.S. Constitution, the Constitution of Kenya also safeguards against arbitrary search and seizure.

American authorities can't just stomp into another country and search everything they feel like searching. If you're 20 years old and you drive to Canada where it's legal for 20-year-olds to drink, can U.S. agents march into your hotel room and arrest you without a warrant?

Even if the government thinks someone is a terrorist, it should get a warrant before searching them. The Constitution is very clear on that. Under our system, the government and the accused are both supposed to get their day in court, and I'm all for the accused being punished severely if they're guilty. But the laws must be followed.


Bush regime stabs vets in the back (again)

When the neorightists talk about supporting the troops, it's just a slogan to them - for they've always got a knife hidden somewhere to stab America's brave fighting men and women in the back.

Now the Bush regime has done it yet again. Taking away injured soldiers' signing bonuses and trying to gut the VA wasn't enough to gratify the Decider, I guess.

The Pentagon is now changing the definition of combat-related disabilities in an effort to deny veterans the benefits that they're owed. (This blog's L.A. Times ban is again suspended.) Under this new rule, disabilities incurred by combat aren't necessarily combat-related disabilities.


Take the case of a Marine who was injured in Iraq by a roadside bomb and a landmine. He received a traumatic brain injury, hearing loss, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other injuries. All disabling conditions, and all caused by combat, right?

Or what about an Army sergeant who had to have her hip replaced because of a mortar attack?

Well, according to the Decider-in-Chief's new rules, these aren't combat-related disabilities. Why? They aren't because they aren't. The nation's rulers say what they say because they say it. They don't necessarily rely on logic or fairness.

America's military budgets are squandered on fancy offices for high-ranking personnel, while disabled soldiers are denied thousands of dollars a year in benefits under the new rules.

I'm a lifelong civilian, and I despise war. But there are perhaps no words sufficient to express my disdain for those who stab the nation's veterans in the back with such mind-numbing attention to this sordid task.

Why does the Bush regime hate the troops?


Monday, November 24, 2008

A story CNN won't report

There's a lot of important stories CNN won't report - and not just war pieces that were bowdlerized by totalitarian foreign regimes that the Bush crime family supports.

This story is about CNN's own attack on working people.

Evidently, CNN fired over 100 workers 5 years ago all because they were union members. This firing was illegal: It's against federal law to fire employees because they organize. Bush hasn't been too serious about enforcing this law - because he thinks laws are just "damn pieces of paper" - but that is the law.

But now an administrative law judge has ordered CNN to rehire the employees. The conservative-leaning cable channel has also been ordered to recognize the unions.

It wouldn't have taken 5 years to reach this decision if Bush had just enforced labor laws, but like I said, he's the "damn pieces of paper" guy.


Lawsuits stop drilling despite DeMint's shitfit

When the Bush regime and the DLC defeatists recently gutted a nearly 30-year-old nationwide ban on dangerous offshore oil drilling, you could almost hear America's beaches becoming thick with goo.

We didn't expect to receive much more oil from offshore drilling. We knew much of the oil (that which didn't get spilled at least) would just be hoarded like much of that from onshore sites, forcing fuel costs up again.

Now fans of offshore drilling are facing a much-deserved hurdle they didn't expect! Conservation groups, states, and private citizens are now suing over oil leases - which has forced the drilling mania to grind to a halt, at least for now.

Last month though, America-hating right-wing Sen. Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) introduced an industry-backed bill that would have allowed only 90 days to sue.

I guess DeMint would rather live under a legal system that lets corporate "rights" rule, huh?


Kentucky to go nuclear?

I frankly don't see the newfound appeal of nuclear power.

Although the conservative camp laughably insists that nuclear power is a "green technology", it's actually one of the most dangerous and costly forms of energy. So much so that Kentucky banned nuclear power plants after the Three Mile Island disaster in Pennsylvania.

But some want that ban lifted. State Sen. Bob Leeper introduced a bill this year to repeal Kentucky's nuclear ban - boasting that Kentucky could host numerous nuclear plants if his bill passed.

Of course it could, but why would most Kentuckians want that?

Even since Kentucky's ban was enacted, there's been enough worry over attempts to build plants just across the state line. Anyone who remembers the map inside the cover of the Campbell County phone book showing where the toxic cloud would hover in case of a nuclear accident in Ohio doesn't need to be reminded of that. Kentucky doesn't need nuclear power plants anywhere near, let alone within its own borders.

But a new report actually suggests Kentucky take a serious look at nuclear power. Several utility firms have already threatened to build nuclear plants in the Bluegrass State if they get permission.

You can just see Monty Burns tapping his fingers together and saying, "Excellent!"

If we want Kentucky to save energy, school boards should stop closing down schools in populated areas and forcing kids to be schlepped 10 miles out of town. And let's stop allowing big box stores and exurban malls to drive Main Street out of business and making everyone drive 30 miles just to get groceries.


Take it away...Wanna hear you play...

Perhaps no U.S. senator deserved to lose his reelection bid more than this asshole: Georgia's Saxby Chambliss. And he still may, because he faces a runoff next week.

Saxby Clueless won his Senate seat in 2002 after calling incumbent Max Cleland a communist - even though Cleland lost several limbs in the Vietnam War (while Chambliss dodged the draft).

Now Chambliss has again proven what an asswipe and bully he is. When a journalist asked him a question about his refusal to testify in the case of the Imperial Sugar explosion that killed 13 people, Chambliss angrily scowled to the cameraperson, "You can take it away now." The senator shoved the camera and placed his hand over the lens.

Here's a video of Chambliss's tantrum:

Take yourself away, Saxby.

As for the lawsuit itself, Chambliss has refused to comply with subpoenas - citing "senatorial immunity." However, there's no such thing as "senatorial immunity." None whatsoever. He pulled it out of his ass.

He also verbally harassed a whistleblower in that case.

I guess this is to be expected from Mr. UnfairTax, huh?


Bush imposes air "security" rules on Canada

Even as Bush eyes the 'O' keys of White House computers with his flathead screwdriver, he still hasn't stopped crapping his pants.

Now the Decider's Transportation Security Administration is going ahead with new rules that would disrupt the privacy and movement of not just U.S. citizens but Canadians as well. The TSA has decreed that Canadian travelers flying abroad from Canadian airports must provide all their personal info - even if the flight never touches down in the U.S.

This is supposed to boost America's security how?

Why does Canada tolerate this imposition? I know the Harper administration isn't exactly known for standing up against Bush, but come on!

Roch Tasse of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group put it succinctly: "It's the United States having control over which Canadians are allowed to board a plane or not." Last year, the Bush regime pressured Canada into creating its own no-fly list (which is like a Bushist Bible), so this imperialism isn't entirely new.

Obama's going to have his work cut out for him cleaning up Bush's mess. Now you know what he meant when he said he'd have to prioritize.


Sunday, November 23, 2008

City ends "blight" fight

In Long Branch, New Jersey, a dull, peptic tower of luxury condos now looms over a working-class beachfront neighborhood - blocking the view that the older homes once enjoyed. The new condos cater exclusively to the wealthy, many of whom are early retirees.

But the new development will likely see no more expansion - much to the delight of its working-class neighbors.

Starting in 1994, the city of Long Branch tried to abuse eminent domain to seize houses in the neighborhood and turn the property over to the developers. However, both the federal and state Constitutions permit eminent domain only for public use. The new development is private.

As an excuse for this right-wing land grab, the city claimed the existing properties were "blight." In fact, hard-working residents were denied permission by the city to improve their homes just so the city could call them "blight." The city also refused to maintain the streets, for that same reason.

But now, the city is abandoning plans to seize over a dozen homes to allow the development to expand. Surely, some damage has already been done at the hands of this project - so the real blight is from the new luxury condos. But it now appears as if there will be no more.

Maybe the developers don't want the land anymore because the economy is so bad that whatever they build on it will sit empty. How much market can there possibly be for exclusive condos when everyone keeps getting poorer and poorer?

Powerful, greedy developers often browbeat people and local governments until they get their way, but this time it didn't work exactly the way they hoped.

A few of you remember us in the early days of The Last Word having those paranoid delusions about local cities trying to force working-class residents out to build upscale retail and residential developments. Damn, what a bunch of fools we Last Word people musta been, because everyone knows nothing like that ever happens in America.

Except that it does. And this story proves it.


Nurse in boot camp death loses license

What happened at the Bay County Juvenile Boot Camp in Florida in 2006 was a clear case of murder: A 14-year-old who collapsed was beaten by drill instructors and had ammonia shoved in his face until he died.

Eight employees involved in the massacre were charged with manslaughter. They should have been charged with murder. But they were let off the hook for the manslaughter charge.

Now one of them - a nurse who refused to intervene to save the teenager - has lost her license to be a nurse in Florida. The State Board of Nursing said that her conduct during the assault was unprofessional and negligent.

Among other things, she improperly distributed the ammonia capsules to the drill instructors, she performed no emergency treatment on the teen at any time during the attack, and she didn't even provide paramedics with complete information.

With a new administration in Washington on the horizon, there may still be activity at the federal level against the guards and the nurse over the boot camp murder.


Interview tyranny

As a working-class blog, we've noticed that the labor market relies less and less on skill and substance, and more and more on style. The job market today is actually an elite fraternity.

When I got my first job - which was for the public library when I was 17 - the interview consisted of material that was relevant to what I'd be doing at work. As long as I could show an ability to perform competently, all I had to do to get the job was show up for the interview in a raggedy shirt and wrinkled jeans.

(A humorous monologue by Barry Fox of Power 94.5 had poked fun at job applicants who blew bubbles with bubble gum during their interview, but I noticed that a girl in a tie-dyed t-shirt who bubbled also got the job she applied for.)

Those days sadly have passed. Nowadays, you have to look exactly right and display a certain style and even a certain accent. Midwestern English, for instance, is often unacceptable to the corporate empire, which seems to instead use Valspeak as its official dialect.

They don't want you just to wear a suit and tie. They actually expect it to be of a certain color. According to a Cincinnati Post article from 2005, a career event for high school students suggested that males who are looking for a job anywhere should wear a black suit.

Hell, I don't even own a suit - of any color! Or a tie! By 2005, I was a writer anyway, so I was more or less self-employed, and none of the jobs I had before then required wearing suits and ties. (I had to work outdoors in the summer before then, so donning a suit would've been potentially dangerous.) If I was born 15 years later than I was, my library gig would've gone to someone who showed more style, even if they had a much weaker grasp of what the job entailed.

Life today really is a fraternity. Know the right people and dress the right way, and you might get the job. Who cares if you have skill, knowledge, passion, or competence? Maybe you have these things. But it won't help you unless you put on a black suit and tie and impress some big shot. Little matters these days except trying to impress a corporate mentality that's overstayed its welcome.

Hail, hail, Kenton Vale!

To challenge the dominance of the Far Right, I draw maps.

These are bicycling maps for neighborhoods in the Cincinnati area. My second map to be completed is of the town of Kenton Vale, Kentucky. As with Woodlawn, Kentucky, I did it all in one sitting, for the community is so small.

Kenton Vale is known for its distinctive fauna that produce shirts, almanacs, Oscar the Grouch memorabilia, balloons, allergy medicine, crayons, and other things that the Far Right is afraid of. Just joking. I made that up completely - just to make the Far Right mad!

As is usual with these maps, the green roads are better for biking than the yellow roads. The circle on the map at Kuhrs & Edwin is my symbol for a city center, though this is often hard to define in suburban towns.

So point your pooper here to peep these beautiful maps:

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Some more GOP congressmorons losed!

Lest you're wondering, it's now official: Rep. Virgil Goode (R-Virginia) got defeated in an upset. It took almost 3 weeks to count all the votes, but Goode has now goed!

I also forgot to tell you that Rep. Randy Kuhl (R-New York) is bye-bye as well. Kuhl was the Conservative Fool Of The Day for 9/19/06 because he threatened to shoot his wife during a dinner party. Kuhl blamed this act on his election opponent.

Although it was established on election night that Kuhl had lost, Wikipedia says he still refuses to concede. What a big baby!

These clowns utterly lostimated!

Mailman praised for not delivering junk

How much of your precious time and effort has been squandered going to the mailbox only to find another pile of junk mail and transporting it to the trash can? How much more have you spent on garbage bags just to handle it all?

Sure, it's fun to watch Super Shopper mailings burn, but you'd rather not have to deal with them at all. Junk mail wastes paper and clutters living spaces.

Folks in one North Carolina community are praising the local mail carrier because he refused to deliver junk mail - for 7 years! (I'm lifting my blackballing of the L.A. Times again.) For one thing, nobody wanted to get junk mail. For another, the amount of it was aggravating the mailman's heart trouble and diabetes. Instead of delivering the bulk mail, he buried it in his yard.

Not one person complained about his refusal to deliver junk mail. In fact he was hailed as a hero.

But the Postal Service isn't cheering - even though the Postal Service probably loses money on junk mail (forcing the cost of stamps for real mail to keep increasing exponentially). Nor is the Direct Marketing Association, because they think they have a "right" to fill your mailbox with unsolicited ads.

And the mailman was prosecuted for not delivering all the bulk mail. He avoided prison time, however. Instead he only received 3 years of probation, a $3,000 fine, and 500 hours of community service after compliments by locals poured in.

Sounds to me like he's a damn good candidate for Postmaster General.


Gum Fighter wins another gum fight (Bubble Gum Weekend)

Bubble gum. I never chew the stuff myself nowadays. My jaw gets stiff and locks up chewing anything chewier than a booger these days, so why chew bubble gum?

Because it bips, that's why. Just joking. Even if it bips, chewing bubble gum would be hard work indeed.

But it comes so easy to the Gum Fighter - the guy in the Western-themed Hubba Bubba commercials.

Although the ads were set in the good ol' U.S. and A., and the Gum Fighter was played by an American actor, he appears in this commersh that reportedly aired in the U.K. in 1982:

In that ad, several people bubbled after being chased by Hubba Bubba highway robbers on horseback. Apparently, the Gum Fighter and his crew haul Hubba Bubba around by stagecoach, leaving them susceptible to robbery. Gum is highly coveted stuff, you know.

At the end of the ad, of course, the Gum Fighter emerged a hero, and the women all flocked to him!

This commercial seems almost the same as the American version except for the jingle at the end: In the U.K. version, the jingle seems to be sung in a British accent.

Damn. When are the villains going to learn their lesson that the Gum Fighter is unstoppable?

Woman loses limbs and sight due to hospital incompetence

Welcome to America's profit-driven health care system, folks.

This is the system under which a dentist lodged a drill bit in a patient's eye socket because he was dancing to the song "Car Wash" while pulling a tooth. (This happened in 2004 in Syracuse, New York.)

Now a hospital in New York City is being sued for $100,000,000 because of a recent incident that cost a 32-year-old woman her hands, her feet, and much of her sight.

The woman went to the emergency room with abdominal pain symptomatic of a kidney stone. According to her attorney, the hospital sent her back home on a stretcher with no blood test. She promptly developed an infection, and her hands and feet had to be amputated because of gangrene. She is also now legally blind.

The life of a mother who is only 32 is now destroyed because of the sheer greed that defines American's health care system.

This isn't the first time in recent years that something almost exactly like this has happened in America's medical facilities.

Frankly, $100,000,000 probably isn't even enough for something like this. Who's really to blame? It sounds like most of it is indeed the hospital's fault. Perhaps the rest of it is the fault of America's political "leaders" of the past 28 years who have allowed the health care system to disintegrate.


Open thread

Friday, November 21, 2008

Freepers cry "economic terrorism!" (more Freeper Madness)

Here at the 'Pail, we're a mainstay of progressive populism. But Free Republic is the anti-'Pail. I know of no other major website that has so many contributors who are so wrong so often.

In their view, having the wrong opinion is "terrorism." If not "terrorism", they call it "treason", such as when a user called western Pennsylvania a "traitor area" because it elected John Murtha to Congress. The user said this despite the fact that Murtha is a decorated former Marine and a Vietnam veteran.

Recently, PETA released a video (filmed undercover) exposing the abuse of turkeys at farms in West Virginia run by poultry breeding giant Aviagen. The video showed real events. Making and distributing the video is free speech (regardless of whether one agrees with all of PETA's stances).

But what does the Free Republic brain trust have to say about this? One Freeper asked, "Coming right before the holiday season, when most of the turkeys are sold, can the release of this PETA video be considered economic terrorism?"

Simple answer: no.

If a company doesn't want to be exposed, it shouldn't allow turkeys to be abused at its farms. The real crime was committed by those at Aviagen who refused to respect animal welfare. The Freeper bots remind me of how during the Abu Ghraib scandal, Jim Inhofe was "more outraged by the outrage" than by the scandal itself.

What went on at the turkey farms is a serious crime. In West Virginia, cruelty to animals is a felony that carries stiff prison terms. A criminal complaint has already been filed over the abuse.

Freepers believe in corporate rights - not the welfare of living beings. They seem to think no corporations should be exposed if grisly events occur under their watch. In their funhouse mirror world, those who blow the whistle on corporate misconduct are considered "economic terrorists."

In the topsy-turvy world of Free Republic, corporations have limitless rights to violate animal cruelty and other laws, but nobody is allowed to exercise their First Amendment right to expose it.

Pro-drugging shrink received Big Medicine payoffs

Dr. Frederick Goodwin is a psychiatrist who hosted the radio show 'The Infinite Mind' on NPR.

Goodwin seemed to support drugging of children. In one of the most outrageous statements on his show, he claimed that children who were not drugged for bipolar disorder would suffer brain damage. This propaganda was broadcast to countless parents nationwide - and at taxpayer expense through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and other organizations. He claimed the drugs were "proven both safe and effective in bipolar children" - though they were not.

Now it turns out that Goodwin received at least $1,300,000 from drug companies to give marketing lectures. This income was never mentioned on his show. He got $2,500 from GlaxoSmithKline just on the day he made his controversial statement.

When you see or hear a commercial, you know it's a paid announcement. But what Goodwin did was far more virulent, for it occurred as part of his show and didn't appear to be the paid plug that it was.

In another display of Goodwin's greed-driven drug plugs, he once falsely claimed, "There is no credible scientific evidence linking antidepressants to violence or to suicide." The same week he said that, he was paid $20,000 from Glaxo, a company that suppressed studies showing Paxil increased suicidal behavior.

As a result of this conflict, NPR is removing 'The Infinite Mind' from its lineup.

But a lot of damage may already be done. How many parents fed their kids antidepressants because Frederick Goodwin said they'd be brain-damaged if they didn't? The lives of many of these children are destroyed now because of Goodwin's "advice."


Failed school system expands policy on...well, guess

I'll give conservatives a point on framing an important issue: monopolies in education. While they believe public schools have a monopoly, even where private schools propagate madly, my concern is that private schools actually have a monopoly - for many American public school systems are de facto private.

Can a school system truly be called public if it requires uniforms? If a job requires a uniform, you can at least choose not to work there. But school is compulsory. In every American community, there is "the school." In most cases, you can't just choose another school district if yours has uniforms. In over 20% of the country, uniform schools in general have no less of a monopoly than conservatives believe public schools have.

That of course includes Clayton County, Georgia. This school system has attracted national derision for being one of very few American school districts in recent years shitty enough to nearly lose its accreditation.

Like the right-wing school district where I grew up, the Clayton County system tries to gloss over its own incompetence with failed gimmicks. In Clayton County, that meant uniforms, which were implemented this year at elementary and middle schools.

This right-wing policy not only failed to stem disciplinary and academic woes. In fact, violence and other disciplinary issues have actually worsened this school year. So naturally, the school board expanded uniforms to the high schools as well.

I guess BushAmerica means a corrupt school board can deny a whole county its right to a public education. Public schools aren't so public after all if they can exclude students for not wearing a uniform.


Right-wing meanness on display in Kentucky city

Covington, Kentucky, has become so hostile to homeless people that it appeared in a ranking of the worst cities in North America for the homeless. In addition to the illegal bulldozing of an encampment (in which a resident's cat was cruelly killed), there was also the infamous rally by wealthy locals attacking the homeless.

Now the meanness of right-wing city policies is being showcased once again for the whole wide world to ogle (beep).

Last year, the city of Covington unrepentantly outlawed homeless shelters (as reported in The Last Word of 11/3/07). Evidently, a year before, the city adopted a zoning rule to disallow new social service agencies anywhere near downtown.

These rules are being trotted out to keep a new shelter from opening - even though the shelter was already approved by the county, which owns the building.

You know, since conservatives jack off so much to "preemption" of local laws (one of Bush's major policies that he wields against regulation of Big Business), why doesn't it apply in this case?

And who's ever heard of a city zoning an entire district against social service agencies? A neighborhood might be zoned business or residential, but certainly not specifically against social service agencies.


Disabled man denied right to sue

Once again I'm suspending my spurning of the Los Angeles Times, for this is an important story.

Jarek Molski is a 38-year-old man in California who uses a wheelchair after being injured in a motorcycle crash. Many consider Molski a crusader for the disabled. He filed over 400 lawsuits under the Americans with Disabilities Act to ensure compliance with this oft-ignored law.

Many of the suits seemed farfetched at first glance, but a majority of the companies that were targeted were indeed violating the ADA. I'm not saying businesses should be ruined over an inadvertent oversight, but there has to be some way to make sure the ADA is obeyed.

A Reagan-appointed federal judge accused Molski of merely trying to extort money from corporations. But the ADA is clear that reasonable accommodations must be made for the disabled. The judge even conceded that many of the businesses Molski sued were breaking the ADA. Despite this, the judge barred Molski from filing any more suits in that district ever again.

The right-wing U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that judge's ruling (of course), and now the Supreme Court has allowed that decision to stand.

Even some judges on the 9th Circus had dissented though, correctly pointing out that Molski was just exercising his right to petition the government for redress of grievances.

If the federal district court in California is so worried about vexatious litigants, why don't they do anything about clowns like the misnamed National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation? This organization files frivolous suits in that same district every time a union fails to represent nonunion employees.

Uh, California isn't a work-for-less state. Thus, dues paid by union workers there aren't required to be used to represent nonunion workers. I'm sure the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation knows this, yet its abuse of the legal system continues unabated.


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Taxpayers pay for Gonzales's lawyer

Habeas corpus skeptic Alberto Gonzales is the defendant in not just one but at least 2 cases simultaneously. In addition to being indicted alongside Dick Cheney in the prison scandal, Gonzales is also a defendant in a suit involving himself and other Justice Department officials blocking law students from Washington jobs because of their political views.

Gonzales asked the Justice Department to hire a private attorney for him at taxpayer expense. And the department has eagerly complied.

Isn't it nice to know you're paying for the former Attorney General's private lawyer?

Isn't Alberto Gonzales an attorney himself? If you were Attorney General - the nation's top lawyer - shouldn't your legal skills be grand enough to enable you to defend yourself?

Or is this an admission that Gonzales doesn't have the legal knowhow of a pile of navel lint? Hell, he doesn't even believe in habeas corpus, which we were supposed to learn about in 7th grade. How can you be a lawyer when you don't even believe in something that the Constitution guarantees in plain sight?


School system nearly shuts down over Matchbox Twenty song

Eek! It's a voicemail from Rob Thomas! Call the FBI!

If Matchbox Twenty can induce an entire school system to practically close down, just think what some of the bands back in my day like Twisted Sister would do.

In Mercer County, Kentucky, a school system employee reported receiving a voicemail consisting of the song "How Far We've Come" by Matchbox Twenty, which appeared to be taped off the radio.

Most people wouldn't find anything offensive about the song itself. After all, it was played on the radio, and corporate radio these days isn't exactly known for its tolerance of lyrics. But school people aren't most people.

The school employee described the song as "disturbing", and she called the police. Cops are now launching an investigation into the song.

Meanwhile, the Mercer County Schools were turned into an armed fortress for days because of the song.

Talk about a school system with some really weak coping strategies. If an inoffensive tune can bring the system to its knees, how would the schools react if there was a real emergency?


Disabled services slashed

What did I tell ya?

Just 4 days ago, I posted here about how something like this was going to happen. Now it has. States are now slashing services for the disabled and elderly, using the excuse of budget shortfalls.

Because of these cuts, low-income disabled Americans are being shuffled off to nursing homes even when home-based care is much more suitable.

The shortfall excuse is just that: an excuse, not a valid reason. States and cities have managed to scrounge up millions for construction of equestrian centers for wealthy horse breeders to show off, new stadiums for greedy sports team owners, subsidies for rich private schools, land deals to benefit big box retailers, more prisons, and handouts to abusive youth confinement gulags.

They call that "compassionate conservatism"?


Palin may receive millions to write memoir

Sarah Palin comes from the petty "world-owes-me" school of right-wing politics. She was totally unprepared to be a heartbeat away from the presidency, but she sure knows how to cash in on her electoral loss.

I know what people like that are like, because I grew up in an area that was a bit like Palin's is now. Not counting the river cities, my county had about as many inhabitants, was suburban-dominated, and was on the political right. Palin reminds me of some of the nobility in my area who gained power and tried turning every public and private agency into their own personal fiefdom.

Like much of our local nobility, Palin doesn't know what it's like to have to actually earn a living. If she was a city council member just for a day, she thinks she should be treated as if she was President of the whole solar system.

Now Failin' Palin is said to be nearing a deal that would give her $7,000,000 just to write her autobiography - even though she can barely form a complete sentence.

Even other politicians hardly ever get that big of an advance to write their life story. Bill Clinton didn't get much more than that - even after he was President for 8 years. Just a few years ago, the record for a nonfiction advance was $8,500,000 (for Pope John Paul II), and Palin has almost topped that!

Nice to know that if you've got a wingnut following like Failin' Palin has, all you need to do to get paid $7,000,000 is scribble down some garbledygoop about how the big, stinky, nasty world is so mean to you.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Number Painter gets his comeuppance? ('Sesame Street' Wednesday)

That Number Painter on 'Sesame Street' was a cool peep!

But even ol' Mr. Bentley isn't safe from paying the consequences for his numerophilia.

The Number Painter sketches featured all the numbers from 2 through 11 inclusive. In many of these uproarious skits, he emerges satisfied. In others, he is chased away but ultimately suffers no payback. In still others, his victim attempts to humiliate him, but the unembarrassable Painter seems undaunted.

But in the sketch for 11 - which is presumably his final appearance - the Number Painter finally learns whether vandalism truly pays:

In this clip, the Painter sneaks into a doctor's office and tries to paint an 11 on the window of the door. After almost being caught red-handed by the nurse (played by Stockard Channing), the Painter sits back down and reveals that although he's great with numbers, he is illiterate, as he holds his magazine upside-down.

After the window washer - a Painter victim in previous sketches - finally gets his revenge, he smiles with a deep sense of fulfillment. But this was just the beginning of the Painter's last stand.

As the Number Painter is reduced nearly to tears at the loss of his 11, the nurse opens the door and drags him into the examining room to see the doc.

Draw your own conclusions as to why the poor ol' Painter is never seen again.

I guess this was designed to teach kids that there are consequences for painting numbers on things. Hence, a generation of children were able to make informed choices about whether to engage in this death-defying activity.

TTYL, book burners

The world's working class has had very few enemies more virulent than censorship. The more censorship we let go unchallenged - even in school libraries - the more the censors are emboldened.

It's hard to claim America still has free speech when the meepings of one right-wing busybody can get a book pulled from a library shelf. But that's exactly what's happened now at a public school in Round Rock, Texas.

One dominionist parent in the community complained that the novel 'TTYL' by Lauren Myracle is "obscene" (even though it was intended for young readers). That was enough to get the superintendent to yank the book - even after 2 separate committees of parents and teachers voted to keep the tome.

So not only does America lack free speech, but the wishes of a majority aren't even followed. One person in a town of 60,000 doesn't make a majority. Even though the parent who demanded the banning of the book claims to have over 1,000 backers, it's still not a majority.

Sadly, the smell of burning books wafts over Round Rock today.


Home Despot

The moguls and nobility of Corporate America can usually be counted on to be diehard defenders of right-wing politics. Worse, they support capital punishment for not favoring their causes.

Home Depot (the home improvement retail chain) was founded by Bernie Marcus and several others. Marcus left the company years ago and no longer owns any stock in it. But like a true corporate head honcho, he's not shy about telling the world what he thinks about political enemies.

What does Marcus think about closely contested Senate races like the one in Minnesota? He says that anyone in the retail biz who hasn't donated money to the campaigns of Norm Coleman and other right-wing Republicans "should be shot, should be thrown out of their goddamn jobs."

Lovely. A founder of one of America's largest store chains supports assassinating or illegally firing people if their political views disagree with his.

This mentality has defined talk-shit radio and has helped contribute to the thuggery that's pervaded the Far Right in recent years. This is one of the reasons their followers start fights at campaign events, attack rallies, burn opponents' campaign signs or dissenters' houses (as what happened in Virginia), and lie about it.

The well was long ago poisoned and has yet to be decontaminated.


Flushing out again!

Years ago I decreed November 18 of each year to be Plop Day - to commemorate restroom mischief at my high school.

By a remarkable coincidence, the World Toilet Organization - whose website says "Improving Toilets and Sanitation Globally" - later declared November 19 of every year to be World Toilet Day.

Has the whole month of November gone plumb toilety?

Frankly, I never understood the appeal of flushing toilets. I can understand flushing home johnnypots, but in public restrooms it's of no use. All you do is risk getting germs on your hands from touching the lever.

But today, since it's World Toilet Day, the World Toilet Organization has a solution that may render this dilemma moot.

At the World Toilet Summit, the organization is promoting a nifty invention called a dry toilet. It separates the pee-pee from the poo-poo and completely, er, eliminates the need to flush.

By being flush-free, this amazing tinkletorium also saves water and provides fertilizer for crops. Worldwide, the average person flushes the toilet 2,500 times yearly. Think how much wa will be conserved!

In the meantime though, I won't be flushing any donickers in public lavatories.

Happy World Toilet Day, everyone!


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ted Stevens loses Senate seat!

"You had a bad day...The camera don't lie..."

I bet the GOP thought there'd only be one day of me laughing in their faces over the election results, but they had to drag it out, didn't they?

(And if you think I'm being too gleeful over the Republicans' many defeats on November 4, this is payback for 2004, 2002, 2000, 1998, 1996, 1994, 1988, 1984, 1980...They so deserve it!)

Now it's officially been called: Alaska's Ted Stevens is the latest incumbent Republican senator to be unseated. I know it was close, which is why it took 2 weeks to decide it, but pre-election polls showed him trailing so much that he's lucky it was that close.

That it was this close shows how much the Republicans are willing to tolerate someone convicted of 7 felonies in the Senate. They got so mad at us for questioning the media's war on John Edwards, even though Edwards did nothing illegal. But they put up with a felon like Ted Stevens in the Senate!

Gonzales indicted with Cheney

Now you know the indictment of Dick Cheney is real, and wasn't issued by some kids playing grown-up court with some old powdered wigs and a hammer they found in the woods.

Bush's former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has also been named in the very real indictment against Cheney.

It turns out the indictment stems from the very real abuse of inmates at federal prisons in Texas. Sure Shot Cheney is an investor in the Vanguard Group, which owns parts of the private companies that run these prisons. The indictment accuses Cheney of a conflict of interest and "at least misdemeanor assaults" of inmates.

Gonzales is accused of abusing his Attorney General post to halt an investigation into prison abuse.

Another indictment accuses Texas State Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. of improperly profiting from his office by accepting honoraria from prison management firms.

The right-wing intelligentsia is already blasting the indictments as part of a politically motivated witch hunt by Democrats. Except Lucio is a Democrat, geniuses. Oops, another Freeper argument is out the window.


The Conservative Fool Of The Day is...Wiley Drake!

Meet Rev. Wiley Drake, pastor of the First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park, California.

The first time I remember hearing about the nutty pastor was last year when he demanded the death of those who questioned his IRS tax-exempt status after he used church stationery to endorse Mike Huckabee's ill-fated presidential bid.

During this controversy, Drake admitted, "I don't believe in the separation of church and state" - even though church-state separation is guaranteed by the First Amendment.

According to the Orange County Register newspaper, Drake recently ran for Vice-President as Alan Keyes's running mate on the America's Independent Party ticket.

Now Drake is truly proving what a sore loser he is!

The crazed minister is joining Keyes's frivolous lawsuit to keep President-elect Obama from taking office. The suit asks the California Secretary of State not to certify that state's election results. It charges that Obama hasn't proven that he's a natural-born citizen.

Wasn't that little Freeper rumor debunked months ago? It was debunked not only by the appearance of Obama's birth certificate but also by at least one website that scanned in a blurb from a Hawaii newspaper from 1961 that announced his birth in Hawaii. Clearly, the paper didn't run a phony blurb back in 1961. Because how would they know he'd run for President 47 years later?

Sounds like poor little Rev. Wiley Drake is upset because he lost! Someone call the WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHmbulance!