Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My head's in Mississippi

Hey road atlas faces!

Right now, I'm in Indianola, Mississippi - bipping to my little heart's desire!

We covered much ground today and peeped many roadly sites!

Tomorrow, I shall continue to pib my way across the Mid-South.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Mid-South open thread

As I warned you, I'm going on a fact-finding mission this week. I'm leaving tomorrow, and I'll be back Thursday at the earliest. In fact, I might be gone until Saturday!

We're going at least as far as the Mississippi Delta. From there, we're going wherever we feel like going. The leisure class over at Freak Republic does whatever it wants, so I'm going to do whatever I want. Work isn't paying off, so I'm just doing as I please - just to make a point! That's the 2010 Tim for ya!

It's unlikely I'll be able to post here while I'm gone - though I did at least once during my North Carolina trip, so it's not completely out of the question. So keep reading this blog!

Happy New Year, everyone!

In the meantime, consider this an open thread.

Suspected racist wanted in fatal shooting

Authorities in Liberty, Texas, say a 31-year-old man who is believed to be a member of a white supremacist organization is wanted for allegedly robbing a store and killing the owner.

Police believe that during the robbery on Christmas night, Stevie R. Walder Jr. fatally shot the store's owner in the head.

Some clues for finding Walder: Walder is 6' 2", about 250 pounds, and has tattoos including a Nazi SS symbol on his neck. Walder drives a green Chevrolet truck as well as a green Dodge pickup that has a Republican Party sticker on the rear window.

If you see the suspect or have any information about this case, call the Liberty police at (936)336-5666.

More details of the case can be found here:


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Mr. Elbow Care says GOP will run on repealing health care reform

Poor little clueless crybabies. This is all they have to run on.

Mitch McConnell says that if health care reform becomes law, the Republicans are going to base next year's campaign on repealing it.

I guess the Republicans actually like losing elections.

That's like if they base their campaign on abolishing Medicare!

If the Republicans insist on campaigning against something that a vast majority of Americans support, be my guest.

(Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/27/mcconnell-hints-that-gop_n_404264.html)

The Conservative Fool Of The Decade is...?

The 2000s have been a decade rich in conservafoolery.

The '80s had Reaganomics. The '90s had the totalitarian fascism of the Contract With America. But the first decade of the 21st century outdid it all!

Who's the cream of the crap for the past 10 years? Well, here's a Shadoe Stevens-style countdown of the top 10 contenders for this decade's dubious award:

10) PHIL GRAMM. One of the biggest rank assholes of the '90s served in the Senate until 2002. Gramm earns a spot in this decade's top 10 because he said the American people are "whiners" because they worry about the recession.

9) ERNIE FLETCHER. The career of the former Kentucky governor fell down and went boom after a corruption scandal.

8) ALBERTO GONZALES. The man who thinks habeas corpus is a hoax.

7) GLENN BECK. This is the loudmouth who kept getting rewarded with more lucrative talk show deals every time he threatened to assassinate someone. Some "liberal media", huh?

6) WILLIAM KRISTOL. The Man Who's Wrong About Everything! Didn't Kristol advocate giving Bush the Nobel Peace Prize?

5) JIM BUNNING. You know, even with the media in the condition it's in, I'd still expect it to at least investigate Bunning making money from his "nonprofit" foundation.

4) DICK CHENEY. Only in Bizarro World can you shoot someone in the face and then force him to apologize to you, instead of the other way around.

3) SARAH PALIN. You're already on track to be #1 for the '10s, S.P. (And yes, I'm fully aware Palin has almost no chance of being elected President.)

2) ANN COULTER. Because libraries are a terrible thing to waste. Oh, and did I mention the vote fraud investigations?

1) If you need to ask who the Conservative Fool Of The Decade is, you haven't read my writings in 10 years.

Any questions or additions? This blog has a comment feature, ya know.

Week 20 of POOP

I think it's finally starting to dawn on people that Google won't read its own help forums. Lately, traffic on their forums has declined precipitously.

Meanwhile, everything else about this saga also remains in the shambles it was in 20 weeks ago.

The Conservative Fool Of The Year is...?

2010 is gonna be a big year, folks! The ConservaFools are piling up like used wrapping paper does after you open your holiday gifts. Occasionally, we run a Conservative Fool Of The Day entry (hearkening back to our blog of that name from 2005 to 2007), but who's the Conservative Fool Of The Year?

For any year of the decade, you can assume it's you-know-who unless I say otherwise. I'm pretty sure Ann Coulter won this spot one year, but other than that, it's been almost a clean sweep.

Until 2009. Let's rank the year's top 3 most idiotic right-wing morons, shall we?

3) RUSSELL WISEMAN. Wiseman is the mayor of Arlington, Tennessee, who said President Obama scheduled an important speech just so 'A Charlie Brown Christmas' would be delayed. Wiseman used this as an opportunity to launch a bigoted diatribe on Facebook. Wiseman also demanded that the right to vote be denied to anyone who doesn't own land.

2) ORLY TAITZ. Taitz, a lawyer, is a sore loser who sued over the results of the presidential election. Taitz is known for submitting a phony Kenyan birth certificate and for misspelling her own name on an important legal document.

1) SARAH PALIN!!! Yes, the Queen of Mean has managed to secure the year's top spot after she quit her governor's post in a huff, wrote a book full of errors, and mistreated a Utah hairdresser.

So there ya have 'em! Keep your feet in the commode and keep reaching for the Pepto-Bismol!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The dumbest joke ever

I think I can safely say what the dumbest joke ever is.

No, it's not the Republican Party. It's even dumber!

A lot of people don't understand our sense of humor. Sometimes, we regale you with things that are dumb and act like they're funny - because they're so funny by being so dumb. Some folks don't get that. They think we really do think they're funny just by being funny, not by being dumb. But our sense of humor is deeper than they think.

Luckily, we can appreciate them thinking that we think dumb things are funny because we think they're funny instead of dumb. That's because we have a sense of humor.

But I think I know the dumbest joke in the history of jokes:

Q: What did the pee say to the poop?

A: "You stink!"

That's funny just because it's so incredibly childish and dumb.

I heard this joke while I was on the school bus in high school. We were zipping along Johns Hill Road, when a boy who was probably in first grade or so said, "I know a funny joke." He promptly told this joke for all of us to hear!

That kid would be a grown man of about 27 years old now, and he may have kids who are in grade school themselves. I wonder if the dumb toilet joke tradition will carry on. Maybe years from now, someone who attends school with his kids will write a blog about how they heard this joke on the school bus back in 2009.

MPAA makes county shut down wi-fi

This story is from last month, but it's received strikingly little coverage until now.

Coshocton County, Ohio, provided free wi-fi to its citizenry in the block around the courthouse. But now the block is left without Internet access - because the Motion Picture Association of America deems it shall be so.

ONE person abused the wi-fi to illegally download ONE movie. Just one. Because of that, the MPAA told Coshocton County to shut down its wi-fi. The county complied unquestioningly.

Why does the county even give a shit what the MPAA thinks? Am I correct in saying that the county can't be held legally liable for this lone illegal download? Congress exempted ISP's from responsibility when they knowingly allow harassment by its customers - so aren't counties shielded from responsibility for a single download they know nothing about?

This is like making the electric company shut off power to the county because of this one download.

County Commissioner Gary Fisher said, "It's unfortunate that one person ruins it for those who use the service legitimately." (RUINS!!!) But a more accurate statement would be: It's unfortunate the MPAA ruins it for those who use the service legitimately - and that the county caves to the MPAA, even though the MPAA has no legal power to force the county to shut off its wi-fi.

(Source: http://gizmodo.com/5403584/mpaa-shuts-down-entire-towns-wi+fi-over-single-illegal-download;

Friday, December 25, 2009

Court invents corporate "right" to not be taxed

A court in Contra Costa County, California, has just awarded a lavish Christmas gift to oil giant Chevron - just for the asking.

Superior Court Judge David Flinn has ruled that the Bay Area city of Richmond may not tax Chevron for the crude oil it refines at its refinery there. This despite the fact that the tax - which applies to all manufacturers, not only Chevron - was approved by the city's voters.

So the court is giving Chevron a refund of all the taxes it paid in Richmond.

The judge's main excuse for striking down the tax was that the tax was supposedly out of proportion to the services Chevron gets. If you could strike down a tax for that reason, doesn't that mean any tax I've ever paid would be struck down too? It would certainly entitle me to a refund of the phone tax I used to pay to the Campbell County Schools, considering I was denied the right to enroll at Campbell County High School.

Since when did corporations have a "right" to not be taxed? Especially when the voters approve the tax?

If there ever was a case of legislating from the bench, this ruling is it.

(Source: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/12/24/BAGB1B9D9E.DTL&tsp=1)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wal-Mart sued for videotaping restroom

Wal-Mart is now being sued because of a disturbing discovery at one of its stores in Pennsylvania.

The store was videotaping a public restroom in its tire department. Employees as well as customers were the target of this video and audio surveillance using a hidden camera. The suit is being filed by 7 current and former Wal-Mart workers.

The camera was placed by loss prevention personnel. I guess they were afraid of ploppings.

Monitoring folks in restrooms appears to be illegal under Pennsylvania law - which says, "A person commits a misdemeanor if he views, photographs or films another person in a state of full or partial nudity without consent, under circumstances where the nude person has an expectation of privacy." This should really be a criminal case, not just a civil suit.

Whoever posted the camera is a perv. End of story.

This is the same retail chain that also illegally set up secret surveillance of workers who discussed unionization, so who's surprised that it spies on people in the bathroom too?

Now you see why we should all be wary of the burgeoning surveillance state.

(Also, does anyone else find it ironic that the newspaper that reported this restroom-related story is called the Morning Call?)

(Source: http://consumerist.com/2009/12/walmart-accused-of-secretly-videotaping-public-restroom.html)

Health care vote delayed. Again.

First, Congress promised to pass health care reform with a public option by August. 'By' meaning during or before.

Then they changed it to by the beginning of December.

Then they said Christmas Eve.

Now that it's Christmas Eve, they're saying negotiations on this bill won't begin until next week.

And even then, some of its key provisions won't take effect until at least 2013 anyway.

Methinks it's time for the states to pass their own version of this bill that takes effect immediately, and charge the federal government for the cost.

By the way, there WILL be a public option in the final bill passed by Congress. No public option means no reform.

Jim DeMint says health care reform is unconstitutional

But who the hell cares what this moron thinks?

GOP operatives charged for fraudulent signatures

First they demanded a do-over of an election they lost. Now they're being charged with collecting phony signatures for the recall drive. Gonna be a big decade, folks!

When Michigan's Democratic House Speaker Andy Dillon was reelected to his legislative seat, the Republicans threw a king-sized fit like the crybabies they are.

So they launched a recall campaign against the lawmaker. This recall vote failed miserably.

But now state police have arrested 2 GOP operatives involved in the recall drive. The 2 men are charged with falsifying signatures on the recall petitions. The charges are felonies.

The men allegedly faked signatures of real people who hadn't signed the petition.

Just think how many times the Republicans have done stuff like this and haven't even been caught - or lived in a locale where authorities tolerated it.

(Source: http://www.freep.com/article/20091223/NEWS06/91223029/1320/2-face-charges-related-to-Dillon-recall-attempt)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Fact-finding mission #60 looms?

Sixty fact-finding missions in 36 years is not an inordinately high number in this high-tech world where we have such kick-ass inventions as cars.

And - believe it or not - it is conceivable that fact-finding mish #60 may take place in the week between Christmas and New Year's.

I'm not saying it's likely. I'd give it maybe a 50/50 chance. Like the Missouri escapade, it hinges almost entirely on weather and illness.

Possible locations include southern Delaware and northeastern Mississippi.

Fact-finding skeptics believe there's a rule that says I can't go out of town during the last week of the year. That is a myth. This is like their rule that said I was required to blog from a family member's place on election night. After all, I did go out of town during the same week last year. America is ours to discover, and by golly, I'm going to enjoy it - dammit!

In other news, an ish may be in the works following this trip. Better yet, the publication of my second book is still scheduled for January.

Freeper advocates census cheating (more Freeper Madness)

Now the incoherent morons who people Free Republic are encouraging cheating in the 2010 census to affect congressional apportionment.

They're suggesting reporting more people in their households than there really are. One Freeper said:

"What if we refuse to participate or under/over report our household numbers."

That's their lame-o idea of "civil disobedience."

Then they encourage counterfeiting postage stamps. One remarked:

"Instead of paying for postage when mailing letters, just print out a tiny square with Obama's face on it, and stick it in the upper-right corner of your envelope. See if the letter comes back to you or not."

This from the same website that advocates vandalizing cars that have an Obama sticker.

If the 2010 census shows suspicious population gains in Republican areas, we'll be able to see Free Republic's "civil disobedience" in all its "glory."

Health care reform blasted by gun control backers

Hey, I thought conservatives were supposed to be the ones who were AGAINST gun control?

Gun control is ineffective, and that's why public support for it has largely been abandoned. But while most folks support it less and less, conservatives seem to be supporting it more and more (their claims to the contrary notwithstanding).

Now they're opposing health care reform because the proposed bill seems to shield gun owners.

The bill (quite rightly) fails to require that people disclose their lawful firearm ownership to doctors. The proposed legislation contains a provision that says health activities may not force patients to reveal their ownership of guns or ammo.

Well, who'd have ever thunk it? These days, I'm more against gun control than the Republicans are!

In the meantime, Congress needs to add the public option back to the health care bill lickety-split. The bill is scheduled for passage tomorrow. Without the public option, it's worthless.

Olivia's duet with George Benson ('Sesame Street' Wednesday)

Remember George Benson?

He's a popular singer and musician known for hit singles back in my day such as "On Broadway" and "Turn Your Love Around."

Many of Benson's records featured a type of improvised vocals - known as scat singing - made up of random syllables. One day as a youth, I sneezed and lapsed into scat singing: "Aaaaah-choo-ba-doo-ba-doo-ba-doo-ba-doo-ba-daaaaaa!" My mom frowned upon such behavior and warned, "Quit sounding like George Benson!"

When I told a friend of mine in college about this incident, he said, "I didn't know the Secretary of the Treasury was a singer." Um, that was Lloyd Bentsen, not George Benson. (At least he didn't confuse George Benson with George Bush!)

Like many other music legends (such as Melissa Etheridge and James Taylor), George Benson once appeared on 'Sesame Street'. In this sketch - reportedly from 1982 - Benson sings a duet with the character Olivia about the seasons of the year:

Notice in this clip that Oscar the Grouch's trash can is mysteriously missing from its usual location. Often, the ol' Osk disrupts songs by the other characters, but when this song was made, he must have been over at Hooper's Store picking up his gravy-covered banana ice cream he loves so much.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bathroom Bachmann lives off farm subsidies

If only I was right-wing instead of smart. If I was, I could just live off the taxpayers like members of Congress who take advantage of the farm subsidy program.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not against farm subsidies. I'm against right-wing congressperson subsidies.

Minnesota's right-wing Rep. Michele Bachmann is known for her hatred of welfare recipients. Yet her family owns a large farm in Wisconsin that received about $250,000 in subsidies. Bachmann herself makes a significant income from her farm.

All this while a majority of small farms receive no subsidy at all.

In 1996 (years before Bachmann was elected), a right-wing Congress gutted the subsidy system to deprive small farmers of their subsidies and instead give handouts to large agricultural operations such as Bachmann's. In fact, most farm subsidies now go to multinational corporations that aren't even in the farming business.

The right-wing hypocrisy on farm subsidies doesn't end there. The 4 congressional districts that receive the most farm subsidies are represented by Republicans. In other words, the subsidies fund large landowners who supported the GOP - not small farmers.

Is there any cessation in sight to the hypocrisy that defines today's GOP?

(Source: http://www.politico.com/blogs/glennthrush/1209/Antisocialist_Bachmann_got_250k_in_federal_farm_subsidies.html)

Right-winger touts "duty to enforce social order"

The conservative movement has once again let the mask slip regarding its true agenda.

They make much din about being for "less government" and "less regulation" and all. But a new article by some nobody named Mary Grabar shows that in conservaworld, this principle only applies to Big Business - not people.

Regarding the drug war death of a Florida man, Grabar absurdly claims that it shows why we need more senseless controls on personal conduct - not fewer. Grabar blasts libertarians for their failure to chisel away at individual rights.

This story also shows that our blog isn't diametrically opposed to libertarianism. Far from it, in fact. For years, I've opposed the failed War on Drugs and government-imposed video game rating systems, for instance.

Mary Grabar complains, "In abandoning the duty to enforce social order, today's libertarians have made a devil's pact with the pro-drug forces of George Soros and company."

You're hilarious, Mary, you know that?

That quote isn't funny just because Grabar accuses Soros of being pro-drug. It's also uproariously telling of conservatives' real goals. "Duty to enforce social order"??? WTF?????

Conservatives don't support regulation of big banks or insurance corporations, but they support "enforcing social order"?

Since you read this blog (as all cool people do), you knew that already. What's stunning is that Grabar comes right out and says it in plain sight.

I have no idea what could possibly endear anyone to this set of views. How could someone support more rigid control of personal conduct while not supporting more regulation of Big Business? Yet that's the essence of far-right conservatism.

Grabar sides with right-wing former Oklahoma congressman Ernest Istook, who now works for the extremist Heritage Foundation. A Florida radio station invited Mistook to appear on a talk show to tout his support for expanding the drug war.

It gets crazier.

Grabar sniffs that marijuana should be outlawed primarily because it is countercultural. She whines, "Every toke symbolizes a thumb in the eye of Western values. So it follows that in order to maintain our culture, we need to criminalize this drug." She goes on to say that legalization would promote (among other things) "Gaia worship."

Modern American conservatism = control. This proves it.

Wal-Mart uses cult techniques

Who knew the country's biggest retailer is a cult?

Here's yet another reason never to shop at Wal-Mart. I stumbled upon this website this morn:


That website reports that Wal-Mart actually gives DEMERITS to workers!

You hear a lot about demerits in association with school lore. But I think the only places I've been where demerits were seriously issued were the first high school I attended and the behavior modification program that resulted from the "crime" of being expelled from that school. Both of these places were cults.

In short, demerits are a cult-like behavior modification technique - not an effective method of ensuring productivity. Certainly, no demerits were awarded by the public library or the Department of the Interior when I worked for them.

What's sillier is the offenses that result in Wal-Mart issuing demerits. Key among them is missing work even for being sick. So employees are forced to show up for work sick and spread germs to other workers and customers.

Kind of like my first high school.

The Conservative Fool Of The Day is...Parker Griffith!

Oh look, everybody, the Republicans have finally gained their seat in Congress!

Parker Griffith is an Alabama congressman first elected in 2008 as a Democrat. But now he's switching parties to become a Republican.

I'm sure the Democrats - at least outside the DLC fold - are saying, "Good riddance, Parker." The 67-year-old congressman hasn't even supported a single major Democratic initiative since being elected. He even opposed the popular and effective stimulus package as well as financial regulatory reform.

Griffith was one of only 2 Democrats who voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act that restored workers' ability to file equal pay suits. This despite the fact that Ledbetter lived in Griffith's home state!

It's a shame folks voted for Parker Griffith without knowing he'd turn their backs on them. It's also a shame the Democratic Party wasted all that money getting him elected. Granted, Alabama is one of very few states that's getting more Republican. (And Kentucky is not one of the others.) Even so, that doesn't mean Griffith isn't a total fool for wasting everyone's vote just to stab them in the back later.

Griffith's switch is actually the continuation of the Republicans' swirl down the johnnypot. By opposing the fair pay law, he only highlights the GOP's bottom-of-the-heart meanness.

(Source: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1209/30896.html)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Government finally limits tarmac strandings (sort of)

The prevalence of major airlines stranding entire planes full of passengers on the tarmac for hours on end with no water or usable restrooms soared under Bush.

Even in the first half of this year, the country saw a staggering 613 flights idled on tarmacs for over 3 hours with passengers aboard.

What was once unthinkable became a reality in America's Lost Decade.

In recent years, there has been no national regulation whatsoever on airlines' ineptitude. Zero. Even the states lost their powers to regulate the airlines - after an activist court opened its spleezox mouth and gutted New York's rules.

What was the point in even dividing the country into states if the states can't even rein in corporate abuses?

But now, the Obama administration is taking baby steps to finally curtailing airlines' greed. Today, the administration issued a new policy ordering airlines to let passengers off the plane if they're stranded for more than 3 hours. Food, water, and toilets must be provided as well.

Well, I guess going from no limit at all to 3 hours is an improvement. After Bush, ANYTHING is an improvement.

Noncompliant airlines will face a fine of $27,500 per passenger each time they violate the 3-hour limit.

Naturally, the Air Transport Association - which represents powerful airlines - is crying in its baste over having to follow (gasp!) rules.

A decade ago, after Northwest Airlines stranded passengers for 7 hours on the tarmac in Detroit, regulations were proposed. But of course the Refug-led Congress at the time killed the proposed rules. So the problem has continued unchecked ever since, thanks to Congress's assholism.

JetBlue later stranded passengers in New York for 11 hours.

Now that a return of regulation of airline abuses has finally been jumpstarted, we need to go further by imposing an even more rigid time limit. If the federal government won't act, the states should.

(Source: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gdTUagHbOhVYfXzOTVByID66scSQD9CNRJCG0)

Week 19 of POOP

There hasn't been as much on the POOP front lately - other than Google not fixing the problems it already had.

Last week, however, I did notice that people were successfully manipulating search results again. More specifically, they were making forged posts from years ago appear at the top of searches.

This is proof that the quarter-century-old coordinated campaign against me continues. Nice to know that some people are still stuck in 6th grade at 36.

I put the kibosh on that plumb quick by once again drowning this garbage out so real posts appear ahead of the forgeries. So I accomplished what I expected on that front.

Bike lanes removed to please religious patrols

How disengaged has America become from the First Amendment's establishment clause?

In one Brooklyn neighborhood, several members of the Hasidic community wanted the city of New York to remove the bike lanes on an important public road. They claimed the bike lanes were attracting "hipsters" who dressed "immodestly."

The "hipsters" were actually commuters and other New Yorkers traveling to work or other activities.

If you think certain clothing items are immodest, don't wear them. You can't just expect the city to impose your personal standards (religious or otherwise) on the public in a public place. I'm not saying a person can't practice their religion. I'm saying you can't impose it on everyone else.

Unfortunately, this concept seems to be lost on the city-sponsored religious patrols that wanted the bike lanes removed.

Early this month, the incompetent administration of right-wing Mayor Michael Bloomberg pleased these patrols by removing the bike lanes - thus making the street less safe. City crews sandblasted the paint that delineated the bike lanes.

Later, bicycling advocates painted the bike lanes back onto the street. The religious patrols promptly called the cops on them and pressured police into filing charges (even though police had initially authorized cyclists to repaint the path).

On the other hand, some of these patrols have been praised for their record of protecting the citizenry from crime. I'm not against someone calling the cops on actual criminals. But bicycling is not a crime - and I don't take it very kindly when a city disrespects the establishment clause by removing a public bike lane to satisfy religious patrols.

To protest the loss of the bike lanes, cycling advocates planned a nude bike ride along the road. But because of cold weather, they instead wore plastic breasts outside their jackets.

In the meantime, someone needs to sue the city for interfering where the Bill of Rights says it doesn't belong.

(Source: http://www.examiner.com/x-19794-Boston-Triathlon-Examiner~y2009m12d10-Removing-bike-lanes-an-act-of-xenophobia;

'Sesame Street' actress Alaina Reed Hall dies

I'm saddened to report the death of Alaina Reed Hall, who played the popular character Olivia on 'Sesame Street'.

Hall died Thursday at the age of 63 after a long battle with breast cancer.

Hall also had other acting roles, such as in the series '227', and she even recorded a song back before her 'Sesame Street' role. But she'll always be Olivia to us and millions of others who grew up watching 'Sesame Street'.

(Source: http://www.springfieldnewssun.com/entertainment/springfield-born-sesame-street-star-dies-after-bout-with-breast-cancer-457475.html)

Pakistani province abolishes school uniforms

Yet another foreign jurisdiction has disallowed public schools from requiring students to wear uniforms.

The Pakistani province of Sindh has now waived uniform requirements - joining the Philippines, Australia's Queensland, and surely other places in issuing such a directive.

Unfortunately, I can't find many articles about this ruling. I've been able to find almost nothing except right-wingers complaining about this order (who use the same excuses as uniform supporters in America).

Meanwhile, the scourge of school uniforms has glided almost unchallenged in the United States for a decade.

My Christmas wish list

Ho-ho-ho, what do I want for Christmas? A dried-up booger. Just joking!

For those who are curious about what I want for Christmas, well, you've got questions, and I've got answers. I could say that I want world peace and an end to hunger, but then someone will just accuse me of ruining the whole thing for them. People want me to ask for tangible objects that only I would use, you see.

Everything's about "buy, buy, buy", isn't it?

Welp, there's lots of things I want that only I'd use, but I don't need them. So I dare not ask, no matter how inexpensive it is.

But there's 2 things I probably need - literally.

At the top of my list is an air pump - as I've told you before. My old pump no longer works (despite the fact that I purchased it in this decade), and no pump means no bike, as the tires are running low. And no bike means no exercise. And no exercise means no Tim.

Second on my list is a pair of sunglasses, because I don't have a pair. I will need sunglasses eventually, unless I decide I can contract sunburned eyes (as in the Kermit and Grover sketch on 'Sesame Street') without doing any real damage.

On the other hand, if you're a hard-working American employed in an air pump or sunglasses makin' factory, these purchases will help keep you working - and boost the long-ailing American economy. So I'm not too reluctant to ask for these items. And if I don't get 'em for Christmas, I'll buy 'em myself in the new year.

Plus, I want world peace and an end to hunger. If only I could buy that if I don't get it.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Freeper fail planned for 20th of each month

After the Tea Party sore losers' nationwide labor stoppage of July 30 turned out to be a bust, they're back for more humiliation!

Because elections are so overrated (according to them).

Now the wingnutosphere is promoting a nationwide series of protests to take place on the 20th day of each month - starting next month and continuing until the end of time! The protest will be against any law that passes that even claims to be health care reform. It'll take place outside the offices and the homes of any member of Congress who votes for it - as well as outside every hospital and doctor's office.

Why? I guess it's because Freepers think the current greed-driven health system kicks so much ass that nobody who isn't possessed by Satan himself would dare to want to change it.

In conducting these protests, the sore losers plan to miss work each time the 20th falls on a normal business day. Except most of them aren't really missing work, because this is their job! They're paid operatives. How long do you think they'd last at a real job if they chose to just skip work once a month for this shit? I would have been out on my ear if I had done that while I worked at the library.

The malcontents plan on keeping up these protests until health care reform is ruled unconstitutional. Uh-huh. On what grounds can it possibly be ruled unconstitutional - considering almost every other country in the world has it?

Everyone laughs at the Tea Party mockeries, so why does anybody think these rallies will be any different?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

When the Bubblicious bubbled (Bubble Gum Weekend)

Remember when bubble gum bubbled?

It's called bubble gum because people bubble with it.

A strange thing that bubbling habit was. It didn't seem to serve any practical purpose. Unless maybe you're a professional actor looking to portray Pete Rose in a biographical movie. Then again, bubbling didn't serve any practical purpose when Pete Rose did it either.

The frivolity of bubbling wasn't lost on bubble gum ad campaigns of old. And it's international in scope. Peep this 1978 Bubblicious commersh - which apparently aired in Britain, as the person who posted it is based there:


That ad is amusing on several fronts. Notice around :06 that the piece of gum seems to be able to fly into people's mouths. Similarly, notice around :24 that the pack of Bubblicious seems to have a mind of its own, as it jumps up on its side without anyone telling it to.

This was also in the days when the Bubblicious logo appeared to be blowing a bubble. This was also back when gum makers made a big issue of their brand being "soft." Like other brands were just made out of rocks?

I also notice in this ad that British fashions seemed to be 5 years ahead of what they were in my part of America.

Friday, December 18, 2009

ConservaFool runs for Senate

New Hampshire politician and lawyer Ovide Lamontagne was one of the most notable entries on the Conservative Fool Of The Day blog of old. He was the ConservaFool for 1/10/06 because of his strange legal theories.

I cut attorneys a lot of slack in deciding whether they deserved an entry. That's because their job is to serve their clients. But Lamontagne had such a bizarre defense for the Republican operatives behind the New Hampshire phone jamming scandal that he was fair game for that blog. His defense was that the Republicans had a constitutional right to jam the phone lines with hundreds of hang-up calls.

Seriously, he said that.

It gets funnier. Lamontagne also argued that the Democrats should reimburse the Republicans for legal fees incurred during this case. Yes, he actually expected the GOP to be paid for breaking the law.

Now Lamontagne is running in the upcoming Republican primary for New Hampshire's Senate seat. He calls himself the "conservative alternative." Alternative to what? Sanity?

Ovide Lamontagne has almost no chance of winning the general election. But keep an eye on him, because he could turn out to be a gaffe-a-minute guy during the campaign.

Seasons greetings from The Online Lunchpail!

Seasons greetings from The Online Lunchpail!

This has been a trying decade indeed, but now it's almost over, and now is our time to pay respect to the season and share good times with family.

Don't let the War on the Holidays ruin your seasonal spirit. Bill O'Reilly and other conservatives claim there's a War on Christmas, but the real war is their effort to destroy our holiday cheer. O'Reilly once bragged he would "bring horror" to all who disagree with him during the holidays, but we can't let him put a damper on the holiday season.

Here's hoping for a great decade! Let's cause the 2010s to resemble more closely the 1970s, when the cookies were fresh and bubble gum was still only a penny per slab!

Right-wing commissioner won't apologize for remark

It would be a fallacy to think culture war matters insulate conservatives from criticism on this blog. Indeed, right-wing emphasis on social issues is cheap elitism that in effect keeps the public subjugated to the corporate empire.

Bill James is a right-wing county commissioner in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

On Tuesday, one of the other commissioners gave a speech about her son, who had died of AIDS. After the debate, James leaned over to the other commissioner and said, "Your son was a homo, really?"

Members of the county commission are demanding that Bill James apologize. Last I heard, James has refused to say he's sorry.

James has aroused controversy before, like in 2004 when he made a racist comment in an e-mail. In that exchange, he said black children have "parents who lack the desire to act properly."

How did Bill James get reelected after a bigoted statement like that?

(Source: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/topstories/story/1129040.html)

Yet another defection from the GOP

The Republican Party has become so small in its actual number of backers that you can almost fit it in an Omni.

Up in Maine, State Rep. Jim Campbell announced yesterday that he's bolting from the Republican Party to become an independent. Campbell cites the Republicans' ongoing incompetence at reining in health care.

The last thing the Maine GOP needed was to lose another legislator. The Republicans were already outnumbered by the Democrats 95 to 56 in the Maine House.

Unfortunately, it's not as if the Democrats are still the progressive champions that we have a right to expect them to be. Earlier this year, they rejected a bill that would have barred corporations from receiving rights that are supposed to be enjoyed only by people.

(Source: http://www.bangordailynews.com/detail/132985.html)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Book publication looms

I'm pleased to announce that I'm nearing completion of my second book.

The title of this work is not being revealed until publication, because otherwise, someone'll just steal the title.

My second book is primarily a humor work. And you'll laugh your underpants off at some of the uproarious anecdotes (and pictures) that'll be included therein.

I plan to put the finishing touches on it tonight. On a more serious note, today has been a trying day locally, following the death of the Bengals' Chris Henry, and I don't have the patience to work on this blog much more today.

In fact, the completion of my book has been delayed mightily by my battles with Google over its disrespect of my copyrights (and the ongoing manipulation of its search results).

Right now, I expect my book to be released in January. This is subject to change, so don't go around saying "Tim owes this" and "Tim owes that" if it's not out then.

Website about Reagan corruption!

Revisionism of the ravages of the Reagan regime rules the roost in the right-wing media.

To hear them tell it, you'd think Ronald Reagan ended the Cold War - even though he actually prolonged it. You'd think ol' Rappin' Ronnie ushered in an unprecedented era of economic prosperity - even though the American economy has become worse in almost every year since he took power.

The media's worship of Reagan has led to a serious effort to name a public landmark after Reagan in every county in America.

But now I've found a website that exposes the corruption that defined the Reagan administration - corruption that old dudes like me remember all too well. The Gipper led the most corrupt administration in the country's history - with the exception of anyone named Bush, of course. And this website discusses it in hairy detail:


Indeed, shortly after Reagan left office, one book noted that in the sheer number of officials involved in corruption probes, "the record of his administration was the worst ever."

Just setting the record straight, people.

We need to debunk the revisionists who heap praise upon Reagan. That way, conservatives might be discouraged from similarly putting a revisionist happy face on the Bush years.

Hate group censors movie trilogy

Censorship is a form of cheap elitism that keeps the people down.

While the leisure class tries to concoct constitutional protections to allow school harassment, they remain suspiciously silent about real acts of censorship such as that which has befallen plans to make movie versions of British novelist Philip Pullman's books. Indeed, the American press is ignoring this story.

After a popular film version was made of Pullman's 'The Golden Compass', there were plans to make movies of the other 2 works in his trilogy.

But William Donohue's misnamed Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights led a campaign against the first movie, claiming it introduced young people to atheism. Therefore, the 2 follow-ups will not be produced.

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights is a hate group that has blacklisted and led censorship crusades against any person or work that doesn't fit its right-wing orthodoxy. This is the organization that waged a hate-fueled war against John Edwards's campaign bloggers and various musicians and TV personalities.

In all honesty, I've never read Pullman's novels or seen the movie version of 'The Golden Compass'. The issue here is the Catholic League succeeding at censoring a film series. It's a shame we're not allowed to enjoy the free flow of ideas and art all because of ONE fringe organization's say-so.

When asked about the fact that his group prevented the movies from being made, Donohue boasted, "I am triumphalist. I'm feeling very good about it."

Meanwhile, conservatives are defending this book-burning in the name of the "free market." Gee, there's nothing like "free market" followers trying to police the content of movies.

(Source: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2009/12/16/atheist-author-tells-of-disgust-after-america-s-religious-right-halts-compass-movie-follow-ups-91466-25400709)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sarah Palin the entitlement monarch

I do not wish to turn this blog into a gossip venue, but with Sarah Palin publicly kooking out every chance she gets, it's becoming difficult not to. Palin chose to become a public figure, after all, so the people deserve better from her.

After Failin' Palin stood up about 100 rain-soaked followers during a book tour appearance in Indiana, you'd think that would be the end of her career. But nope! The self-serving megalomaniac remains undeterred!

Now she's done pretty much the same thing to GOP leaders in Salt Lake City. The bigger outrage though is the way she treated a local hairdresser.

The hairdresser received a frantic 8 AM phone call recently informing her that Palin was in town and needed her hair done. Now. Immediately. This minute.

So she had to rush down to Palin's swanky hotel and do the failed veep candidate's hair. This despite the fact that the hairdresser had already scheduled a dentist appointment for her child that morning. Because of Palin's impromptu demand, she had to have her husband take off work to take the child to the dentist.

Forcing a hairdresser to take time out of her life and forcing her husband to miss work was bad enough. But Sarah Palin's treatment of the hairdresser was outrageous.

Palin's staff told the hairdresser she was not allowed to speak to Palin unless spoken to first. And then Palin and her staffers didn't even pay the hairdresser!

Also, the Palin team was supposed to pay the hairdresser's parking fees - but they went back on this promise too.

It gets sillier.

Customers at the Costco where Palin had her Salt Lake City book-signing noticed that the store seemed to be out of tomatoes. When they asked the store manager about it, he said the Palin team had ordered Costco to take tomatoes off the shelves for a few hours. They claimed Palin had been pelted by tomatoes at another appearance.

Did the ghost of Leona Helmsley possess Sarah Palin?

(Source: http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_14003093)

Senate won't let you get cheaper drugs

Yay! Corporatism! (That's sarcasm, everyone!)

In this U.S. and A. nation, drug companies can charge as much as they please for prescription drugs. There's no regulation or controls on the price - for they call that commieism, you see.

But federal law says no individual is allowed to go to Canada or any other country to get these same drugs at a much cheaper cost. Why, that might cost the drug makers money.

If there ever was an illustration of the tragedy of "regulation for thee, not for me", this may be it.

Yesterday, the Senate rejected a measure that would have allowed Americans to import prescription drugs from abroad. Yet the Senate won't regulate the price of drugs in the U.S.?

This from a Democratic Senate??? You expect this shit from the Republicans, but not from the once-great Democratic Party.

President Obama supported allowing imports when he was a senator, but his own FDA appointees lobbied against this bill. Did he put Ray LaHood in charge of the FDA too?

The excuse by the bill's opponents was that there might be safety problems importing the drugs from Canada - even though they're the same drugs you get in the U.S. The only difference is that they cost less in Canada. In fact, the bill to legalize imports would have allowed imports only from FDA-approved factories.

While the government bans individuals from getting cheaper drugs from FDA-approved factories, it allows toxic, sulfur-laden drywall to be imported from China daily. That's the government's idea of "free trade."

Biff and Sully get mad! ('Sesame Street' Wednesday)

Remember Biff and Sully? They were a pair of hardhat-wearing Muppet construction workers on 'Sesame Street'. They were cool.

Sully seemed to be plagued by a permanent case of laryngitis. His mouth moved, but no sound ever came out - forcing Biff to be his personal interpreter. In addition, Biff resembled Klinger from 'M*A*S*H'.

Today, we're profiling one 'Sesame Street' sketch - reportedly from the '80s - that you'll probably never see today. In this segment, Sully and Biff get angry about having to work late. They get so mad, they just want to go piss in Kermit's pond! They get so mad, they just want to hurl an Atari Basic Reference Manual across their boss's office so the pages fly out!

You probably won't see this sketch today, because these days, people are encouraged to hold in their feelings - especially in shows and products for children.

I fear for our country's future as today's children are being taught to hold in their anger. America needs to bring back this Biff and Sully segment at once!

Or I'm gonna get angry!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Question for the legal eagles

Lately we've touched on the topic of whether school harassment is under a school's purview to be a punishable offense.

Over the past dozen years or so, courts seem to have crafted a new "right" out of whole cloth to protect school bullying. According to a few judges and right-wing legal foundations, no school should have the power to punish a serial harasser. Among other things, they consider this power outside a school's purview, even if the harassment happens at school.

Well, then how do they feel about the laws that are on the books in many states that allow high schools to arbitrarily yank the driver's licenses of students if they fail a class? Isn't that outside the schools' purview?

I detect the sound of a pin dropping.

If anything is outside the schools' little empire, it's that.

These laws have mollycoddled bullies. While students get their licenses revoked for failing a class, I don't know of a single state where they face any such penalty for harassing schoolmates.

What's more is that the laws that revoke licenses of failing students violate a 1974 federal law that bans disclosing school records.

How does the industry of rightist legal foundations feel about these laws? You can't very well support these laws when you don't even support letting real troublemakers face punishment for the things they do.

I'll take the imminent silence as a "no comment."

Conservatives to sue city over atheist councilman

How does conservaworld handle losing elections? Often, they falsely accuse opponents of rigging the vote. But when that doesn't work, they just cite 200-year-old laws that have been unconstitutional longer than any living person has been around.

Right-wingers in Asheville, North Carolina, are furious that an atheist won a city council seat. So now they're suing - claiming that the North Carolina Constitution disqualifies people from public office if they "deny the being of Almighty God."

Well, the U.S. Constitution ought to put the brakes on this k00ks00t right quick. I don't even need to tell you that the federal Constitution voids state constitutional provisions that patrol public officials' religious beliefs. The Supreme Court has already ruled so in another case decades ago.

The Bill of Rights is incorporated to prevent states (as well as the federal government) from violating basic liberty.

If I was a betting man, I'd wager that all the plaintiffs in this suit - despite thinking that beliefs have no constitutional protection - think the First Amendment protects school harassment in the cases that I've described before. I'd bet the farm on it! They seem to think the Constitution protects acts that go well beyond speech, yet they don't even think beliefs should be protected!

This is yet another example of the right-wingers' cheap elitism that guides their topsy-turvy interpretation of constitutional law.

I could be making more of this story, except that 1) the conservatives have no case; and 2) I don't think there's a chance in hell that any judge is going to rule in their favor.

The most important point may be that conservatives have a deep enough war chest to spend on frivolous lawsuits challenging elections that don't go their way. Who's bankrolling their lawsuits?

It also shows that the Far Right will go to any length to oust those who defeat them - even if it means dredging up obscure laws that aren't even valid.

(Source: http://rawstory.com/2009/12/atheist-councilman)

Unready 'n' unsteady

I think I've found a good comparison for the ongoing caving by the Democrats to extreme Republican ideology.

The Democrats apparently aren't even a real party anymore. They exist in name only! It's a bit like the song that some music historians believe existed in name only.

The song in question is the subject of one of the strangest incidents in the history of Billboard's music charts. I've looked at the charts for decades just for my own interest - but I never heard this story until recently.

Back in 1979, a single called "Ready 'N' Steady" by D.A. hit Billboard's Bubbling Under chart - a listing of songs that just barely miss the Hot 100. This record "bubbled" on this chart for 3 weeks.

Legendary music researcher Joel Whitburn has reportedly collected every record ever to reach the Hot 100 or the Bubbling Under - except "Ready 'N' Steady." He's never been able to find a copy of it - or anyone who even knows of the existence of the song or the recording artist.

Whitburn speculated that it might be a punk rock tune - as it was 1979, after all. He said it probably received a few spins on several Midwest stations. But the record was released on a tiny label whose headquarters was just a vacant building, so nobody could find out anything else - or even if this speculation was true.

Eventually, however, Mr. Whitburn began doubting that the song was even real. Whitburn's books that list all the songs that charted on the Bubbling Under began including a comment under the entry for D.A. This remark reportedly said, "The existence of this record and artist is in question."

Later, his books stopped listing "Ready 'N' Steady" or D.A. altogether. Whitburn recently said of the song, "I don't think it exists."

I'd bet it exists. Why would Billboard list it on its chart for 3 weeks if it wasn't real?

In other words, "Ready 'N' Steady" is probably more real than the modern Democratic Party is! The Republicans' failures are so mind-boggling that you'd think the Democrats would be a much more powerful force against the GOP. But nope. It's like the Democrats aren't even a party, despite having control of the White House and Congress.

If the Democrats were a party, why didn't they pass health care reform by August as they pledged to do?

Congress to reinstate Glass-Steagall? If only!

The Glass-Steagall Act was a longstanding federal law that prohibited bank holding companies from owning other financial firms. However, the right-wing Congress of 1999 repealed this law.

This repeal had little fanfare, because who wanted to be associated with bank deregulation?

This repeal facilitated the formation of the embattled Citigroup - which formed from the merger of Citicorp and Travelers Group.

What gnawing need was there to repeal Glass-Steagall? Here's a hint: none. Much like how there was no urgent need to pass the far-right 1996 Telecommunications Act, but Congress passed it anyway.

Now, House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer says Congress is seriously considering bringing back Glass-Steagal - following the ongoing greed-driven abuses by big banks.

Uh, Steny? You voted to repeal it in '99, remember? There's no use now in Steny Hoyer wringing his hands about what a mistake it was to repeal it, considering he backed its repeal.

Since this is the Congress of the "strongly-worded letter", I'll believe Glass-Steagal is reinstated when I see it.

(Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=arMrSVjq4cts&pos=3)

Monday, December 14, 2009

UN coddling right-wing dictators

I'm going to be frank: The United States needs to withhold its United Nations dues until the UN stops mollycoddling right-wing dictatorships and working against America's interests.

The UN was about the only entity outside what passes for Jim DeMint's gray matter that denied that the right-wing coup in Honduras was an illegal putsch against a democratic government.

Now the UN's policies may in effect keep North Korea's right-wing dictator Kim Jong-Il from being reined in.

Thousands of defectors and others have suggested hauling the embattled Elvis impersonator before the International Criminal Court for his outrageous human rights abuses. The ICC has already arrested or otherwise gone after other world leaders for their abuses. But the reclusive North Korean dictator seems to be safe.

Why? Well, the UN Security Council can order an investigation against regimes that don't accept the ICC's jurisdiction. But in this case, the probe would likely be vetoed by China, for China has veto power on the Security Council.

Nice to know the UN gives veto power to regimes with bad human rights records, so investigations of other bad regimes can be avoided. Of course, the Bush regime had this same veto ability.

Next thing you know, they'll claim Kim Jong-Il is protected by the First Amendment when his regime tortures his own citizenry.

Maybe the UN needs to change its policies so single powerful countries can't just unilaterally halt important business.

(Source: http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/south-korea/091203/korea-politics-defection)

Week 18 of POOP

Message boards that barely work, where the help forum is checked only once every 2 months? There's an app for that!

As Google continues to refuse to fix its forums, now it's offering them - still in broken form - on Google Apps.

I'm sure all 3 people who use Google Apps are delighted to hear that Google Apps now has forums that haven't worked right in ages.

Bullying ruled to be protected free speech

Damn. There's enough outrage today that I'm almost willing to blog for free. But this is a quality blog, and blogging is part of my job.

Last year, an 8th-grader in California reported that a gang of schoolmates had starred in a video on YouTube attacking her. The school suspended for 2 days the girl who posted the video.

This was probably the first time the harasser was ever disciplined for anything in her whole life. Anyone who'd upload a video to YouPube harassing a schoolmate clearly doesn't know how to live in society - which has rules and standards.

What did the harasser do upon being suspended? Why, she sued, citing her True Free Speach Now (tm). Seriously, she thought her First Amendment rights were violated.

Um, no. Posting the video on YouTube actually had a connection to school - so the school had a right to punish her. All the students in the video should have been expelled, in fact. Schools have been penalizing students more and more for off-campus conduct that has nothing to do with school, so why can't they discipline those whose misbehavior is school-related?

Outrageously, a federal judge actually ruled in the harasser's favor when she claimed harassment was free speech. (The judge was a Reagan appointee, incidentally.)

We can't distribute The Last Word on a public university campus, but some spoiled baby can post videos harassing her classmates? Never before has the First Amendment been turned so squarely on its ear by courts and law enforcement than it has in the past 15 years.

Even more unbelievably, the court in this case cited Tinker v. Des Moines to arrive at its decision. Uh, what??? Tinker v. Des Moines was about schools' suppression of dissent. It had nothing to do with student harassment.

What we need to do is pass a law to bar attorneys from collecting fees when they accept cases claiming that school harassment is a "right." I guarantee you that if we do this, these spoiled brat lawsuits will stop.

(Source: http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2009/12/14/judge_rules_students_cruel_remarks_online_are_not_unconstitutional)

Fascism comes to Florida

What clueless fuckstick came up with this?

While numerous states have rejected the Bush regime's Real ID Nazism, Florida jumped right into it with all limbs.

Starting New Year's Day, Florida residents who need to renew their driver's licenses will now need 4 - count 'em, 4 - official pieces of identification. And they must all have the same last name.

How many people even have 4 forms of ID? Since my birth certificate is lost, I don't even have but one (other than my regular ID) - let alone 4.

If a married woman changed her last name, she won't be able to renew her license at all - without producing additional documentation to prove she changed her name.

All so Bush can have his failed dictatorship coddled.

Who in Florida state government decided to implement Real ID? Whoever this individual was needs to be kicked out of the country.

Since Florida is surrounded by the ocean, why don't state officials who support Real ID move to a ship anchored in international waters if they hate America so much?

(Source: http://www.cfnews13.com/News/Local/2009/12/13/new_year_brings_new_tougher_drivers_license_rules.html)

Free Republic encourages vandalizing cars

Nothing fires up the blood like a story of classic Freak Rethuglic thuggery.

And this story lives down to the record that has long defined that far-right terrorist website.

Yesterday, some Freeper drone boasted of an incident at a movie theater in which a friend vandalized a car because it had an Obama bumper sticker. This wasn't a crime of passion; the vandal had come prepared for such vandalism.

This user snidely commented, "Now, I'm not advising anyone to break the law or damage another person's property........" Yeah, sure. Which is why the other Freepers are patting this idiot on the back for it.

I swear from the bottom of my heart that if they vandalize anything belonging to me, they will wind up with a bloody mouth. That's not a threat; it's a promise.

And if they do something like this to some of my friends, they will be shot on sight. You have a right to defend your belongings from criminals.

The police need to monitor every word that gets posted on Free Republic and build a file on every user. That'll probably solve a lot of crimes.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cuckoo for Super Bubble! (Bubble Gum Weekend)

Much has been made here of the days when bubble gum was often included free inside specially marked boxes of cold cereal.

I stopped buying cereal years and years ago, so I haven't noticed this practice lately. Indeed, I think I quit purchasing cereal even before the cereal price-gouging scandal broke in the mid-'90s. Perhaps the inclusion of bubble gum has since ceased for fear that it may rot the teeth of unsuspecting chewers.

Perhaps the most widely documented example of bubble gum in cereal was in the '80s when Cocoa Puffs periodically included a large piece of Super Bubble buried therein. I remember the pieces of gum being hoarded on the hutch in the kitchen back when I was a youngster. Although the pieces of Super Bubble were in plain sight, nobody chewed 'em - until finally I think some of the neighborhood kids grabbed them.

There's a consensus that all brands of bubble gum blew bigger bubbles in those days. That's borne out by a 1981 Cocoa Puffs ad that touts the Super Bubble promotion. The ad is part of a set of unrelated commercials and TV station bumpers which you can find here:


The kid who bubbled in that commercial is as cross-eyed as Ernie!

Roads Scholars may be offended by the first commersh in that set, for although it claims to discuss US 1, the route marker uses the colors of an Interstate shield rather than a U.S. route sign.

And isn't that the late Peter Allen (the frequent 'Solid Gold' guest) in that WPIX ad?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Court halts anti-ACORN massacre

Wingnuts' heads started exploding yesterday when a federal judge issued an injunction that bars Congress's ban on ACORN funding.

Judge Nina Gershon said the ban is an unconstitutional bill of attainder, as it singles out ACORN exclusively.

Further, the court noted that Congress didn't even bother to go through any judicial or administrative process of determining whether ACORN was guilty of violating any laws after the much-ballyhooed hoax video made by right-wing activists.

Isn't it ironic that the judicial branch knows more about the Constitution than the legislative branch? The judiciary - which is not elected - knows more about democracy than an elected body like Congress!

(Source: http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/71911-judge-stops-acorn-funding-ban)

Friday, December 11, 2009

The amazing opaque ratings service

You may have heard of Arbitron. Arbitron is a company that produces ratings of radio stations all over America by conducting surveys of listeners. Arbitron has had very little competition in recent years, so it has the lion's share of the radio ratings biz.

While it has usually appeared to be a fairly accurate service, folks have long questioned the results of Arbitron's surveys. In fact, Arbitron's credibility took a hit several years ago when it reissued the survey for Lima, Ohio, because Clear Channel told it to (because the initial release showed one of Clear Channel's stations performing poorly).

Arbitron produces surveys when and where broadcasting firms are willing to spend the money on one. So I guess Arbitron realizes it has to do what it can to keep these customers happy, even if it means less accurate ratings.

Lately, Arbitron has been rolling out its new Portable People Meter (PPM) ratings in larger cities. This has resulted in lawsuits by the states of New York and Florida because this method undercounts minorities.

It's astonishing that Arbitron made such a big production out of a new technology that produces less accurate ratings. But if Arbitron wants to put to rest the fears that the PPM system distorts ratings, the last thing the company should do is become less transparent.

So naturally, Arbitron has begun restricting access to its important presurvey bulletins that periodically describe changes to survey methodology and policies. These bulletins used to be posted online for anyone to see. But now they're available only to clients such as big radio execs.

(Not only that, but the site is designed for Internet Exploder 6. Welcome to 2 years ago, Arbitron. And it requires users to shut off their pop-up blocker.)

I'm not saying we have an absolute right to view all the methods used by a proprietary company. (Some of them are trade secrets, after all.) The real issue is Arbitron's opacity. You'd think that during a time of such controversy, Arbitron wouldn't want to make its methods more opaque. That just makes it look like Arbitron has something to hide that could dash its reputation.

How can we trust Arbitron when it hides some of the most basic information about its surveys?

(Source: http://www.fmqb.com/Article.asp?id=1414081)

Now we know Congress is a waste of time

Is there any way Congress can possibly help people less?

Now the House has rejected a popular measure that would have let bankruptcy judges help people avoid foreclosure by big banks.

This measure would have allowed courts to extend payment periods, reduce interest rates, and take other steps to stem the foreclosure crisis.

If Congress is against such a common-sense bill, then I think they're pretty much a lost cause.

Hopefully the states will shore up where Congress has repeatedly let us down.

(Source: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/house-votes-against-letting-judges-alter-mortgages-2009-12-11)

Not 100

For days, our local news media has discussed almost nothing other than the departure of some college sports coach who I'd never heard of until this week.

If the media thinks college sports are so much more important than the health care debate or the economy, then this blog can devote some of its space to stories about pop culture such as music.

This story is about the disconnect displayed in recent years by Billboard's once-respected nationwide Hot 100 music chart.

In my day, the Hot 100 was remarkably accurate. I'm not saying that all the #1 songs were any good. (I was around in 1989, you know.) But as an actual popularity chart, it was a pretty true gauge.

Now, however, the Hot 100 seems like little more than just a damn piece of paper (as Bush would say). Even songs that are huge hits on the Hot 100 are utterly missed by most of the public. The chart still features rock, R&B, country, and other genres, but it now disproportionately rewards tracks that perform well in a single radio format but are virtually absent from all others.

I suppose that can be more useful than many folks give it credit for. I can appreciate that for what it is.

But there's a more serious issue than this, and that's the increased corporate influence that has enabled monopolistic radio corporations, major record labels, and network television series to practically stage-manage the chart. Music that doesn't catch the fancy of some corporate head honcho or the panelists on 'American Idol' is locked out.

Billboard has now released its ranking of the top songs of the decade - based on the Hot 100. The #1 song of the 2000s is one I've never heard of: "We Belong Together" by Mariah Carey. You can find the ranking here:


The #1 song of the decade spent 14 weeks at #1 in 2005 - yet I don't remember ever hearing it! Maybe it's because I abandoned radio by 2005. Cincinnati radio has long been America's narrowcast capital, so it's no wonder I couldn't find a station that maintained my interest for more than a few minutes. Still, I know I'm not the only person who had deserted radio - while radio remains one of the primary factors of the Hot 100.

I refer to the 2000s as America's Lost Decade, largely because of Bush's tyranny. If there's one popular song that was a hit during the 2000s that sums up the decade, I think it goes like this: "You had a bad day...The camera don't lie..."

War on the Holidays comes to Arkansas

The chattering class generates gallons of crocodile tears annually about the so-called War on Christmas.

But the only folks launching a war on any of the holidays this time of year are these pundits and the political figures who cave to them. The real war is the War on the Holidays.

The state of Arkansas allows a Nativity scene to be built each year on the grounds of the State Capitol. That's fine, as far as I'm concerned. But I think it's only fair that the state should also allow the Winter Solstice display that the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers wants to erect.

In a democratic republic, the rights of the minority must be safeguarded with the same ironclad zest as the rights of the majority. To do otherwise would be outright discrimination.

Republics are all about the rule of law. You can't just vote to take away the rights of a minority (or a majority, for that matter).

But Arkansas Secretary of State Charlie Daniels (not to be confused with the "Devil Went Down To Georgia" guy) has decided to disallow the Winter Solstice scene, even while allowing the Nativity display. This despite the fact that the Solstice display met the guidelines for Capitol holiday displays that were established years ago.

Now the ACLU is quite rightly suing Daniels over this disparity.

If there's a War on Christmas, then there's also a War on the Winter Solstice.

(Source: http://www.arktimes.com/blogs/arkansasblog/2009/12/free_thinkers_sue_secretary_of.aspx)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Does America still exist?

Is the United States of America still even an actual country after the rise of far-right corporatism in the '90s?

It seems like ever since then, and on an increasing basis, every country's laws apply in the U.S. - except the laws of the United States.

"Free trade" may be the biggest example. During the rise of "free trade" a decade ago, I read that the United States - in the name of the gloBULL economy - began allowing foreign commercial fisheries to overfish in American waters, something American fisheries couldn't do.

When Massachusetts instituted a policy to forbid state agencies from buying products from countries with bad regimes, a federal court swooped in and told Massachusetts it couldn't do this, because it was infringing on federal "free trade" policies.

Economic and education officials worry about American corporations "competing" with those in foreign lands, so they treat workers and children as cogs in this corporatist wheel.

When we hear of rightists advocating absurd policies - in our schools and elsewhere - they often point to the fact that other countries already have the same policies. Usually, however, the other countries they cite are dictatorships.

And my America does not take cues from overseas dictatorships.

If the right wing wants America to mimic repressive regimes, maybe they should find a different country to live in besides the United States.

American problems need American solutions that respect the values of a democratic republic and the rule of the Constitution.

Correction Connection: Wall Street Journal does Kentucky politics, embarrasses self in the process

Some folks in cyberspace think I'm being too provincial when I criticize the East Coast media giants for not understanding the politics of the great Midwest.

Clearly, however, I'm more in step with the facts than the major media is.

Today, the Wall Street Journal's laughable editorial department printed a piece gloating about how Kentuckians rejected health care reform by electing a Republican in a special state senate election on Tuesday.

I'd hate to rain on the Wall Street Urinal's parade, but I think it's pretty safe to call their bluff. That seat had already been held by a Republican - the far-right Dan Kelly, who vacated the seat when he was appointed to a judgeship.

The Wall Streeters boast that this GOP win was stunning because that district usually votes 2-to-1 Democratic. Um, no. McCain carried every county in the district - mostly by landslide margins. I haven't computed the totals, but it appears as if the GOP won this week's election by a far narrower margin than McCain carried that district. In fact, the Democrat actually won a county this time.

The Street Gang also brags that the Democrats lost this election despite spending twice as much money as the Republicans. As Speak & Spell would say: Wrong. Try again. The GOP outspent the Democrats.

Did anyone seriously think the Democrats would win in a district that had elected someone as right-wing as Dan Kelly?

And how is this a referendum on national health care? It isn't. The election was for the state legislature, not Congress. With Kentucky having such a wussified legislature, nobody expects it to even consider its own version of real health reform.

University shuts down Nerf game

Eek! Nerf! Run for your life!

Students at the University of Colorado are learning the hard way that the "zero tolerance" fascism that has enveloped America's schools has now graduated to the collegiate level.

Students had planned on conducting a "humans versus zombies" game using toy Nerf guns that shoot harmless foam darts. But campus police have ordered them to cancel it, because the university's "zero tolerance" policy applies to look-alike guns.

Does that Nerf gun in the photo look like a real gun to you?

No matter, because campus cops feared they could be painted to look like real guns. Um, except that they weren't.

Maybe the school is just afraid that the Nerf players will beat their football team.

Is it a police state yet?

Cop hides evidence after man sodomized with Taser

Long story short: In Boise, Idaho, police sodomized a man by Tasering his anal opening while he was in handcuffs. Then they threatened to Taser his testicles as well.

Then a police officer tried to hide the evidence of this brutality by erasing the man's arrest interview.

The excessive force and the tampering with evidence by police in this case is mind-boggling.

(Source: http://www.idahostatesman.com/newsupdates/story/841919.html;

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Congress gets cost-of-living increase; Social Security doesn't

I don't know if I've touched on this yet or not.

I may have speculated that Congress might find a way to give itself a pay raise even though Social Security and military benefits don't get a cost-of-living increase this year.

Or I might have just assumed that members of Congress were going to have to get by on a measly $174,000 a year again.

Well, guess what?

Congress is now being more blatant than ever in giving itself a pay raise it doesn't deserve.

Lawmakers have already decided that Americans who get Social Security, disability, or military benefits don't get a cost-of-living raise for the next year - citing a lack of inflation. Yet these same legislators are giving themselves a cost-of-living pay raise of $4,700 - because of inflation.

So now it's "inflation for me, not for thee"?

What a bunch of parasites Congress is. They starve Grandma so they can pay themselves thousands more a year.

You know what I'd like to see happen? Since the Kelo v. New London ruling let the government swipe property to be given to private parties, I'd like to see the states take this extra $4,700 from each member of Congress and distribute it among recipients of Social Security and other benefits. That would serve Congress right.

Furthermore, for Congress to give itself any pay raise before its term is up is unconstitutional. Yet they've been doing it for years, and nobody reins them in. This began under the corrupt Republican congressional leadership of the '90s (even after they assailed the Democrats for accepting pay increases while it was still legal).

Feelings...Nothing more than feelings... ('Sesame Street' Wednesday)

Since it's Wednesday, it's time to get Sessified!

Because Muppets are mere pieces of felt, they have no feelings. So one may ridicule them without worrying about offending them. Like when we poked fun at Bert because he wanted his soft little blanket.

However, some Muppets think they have feelings. Like the blue, mustachioed Anything Muppet who frequently encounters an incompetent Grover being employed at various service occupations.

Imagine the poor guy's frustration when he finds ol' Groves working as a salesman at a clothing store where he tries to buy a suit. This attempted purchase has hilarious results:

This reminds me of the time I tried to get peppers on my nachos at a festival, and they told me they were out of them - even though they had a whole tub of "display peppers" staring down at them.

The mannequin in this sketch might not have any feelings, but neither does the customer - because he's made of felt!

So why should he be so embarrassed when Grover strips him down to his bra and panties? (Or is that a tutu?)

And how is it that Grover can botch so many jobs and not get fired, while it's impossible for so many competent people to find any work at all these days?

Correction Connection: effects of Sudafed crackdown

When the media fails to question what are obvious falsehoods, it's hard for me to say it isn't complicit in spreading them.

An effort by the far-right drug warriors to make Kentucky the second U.S. state - after Oregon - to require a prescription just to buy Sudafed is under way. This would violate federal law, of course, because the federal government defines this drug as over-the-counter.

(Although Oregon ranked high on the economic freedom index, that didn't take its draconian drug laws into account.)

Predictably, the drug warriors are spreading made-up propaganda in an attempt to justify this crackdown (which would hurt only innocent people). Some nobody who is leading the effort said meth labs plummeted in Oregon after that state began requiring a prescription for over-the-counter allergy drugs.

But that is categorically false.

Meth labs increased after the new law. I don't know where the Kentucky drug warriors are getting their data from, but whoever they got it from told an outright lie.

Ironically, the Kentucky wingnuts admit that other draconian measures have failed - just as we predicted. So they're using this failure as an excuse for more stringent measures.

It's a vicious cycle: When these measures fail, what will they try next?

When I see lies by drug warriors, I will call them out.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Georgia GOPer steps down over scandal

Glenn Richardson is the House Speaker for the state of Georgia. Big "family values" Republican.

Because Richardson hates gays, he was a key supporter of anti-gay legislation. He also supports a hefty sales tax hike. At the same time, however, Richardson said laws won't pass under his watch unless it shrinks government.

How hypocritical can you get? He claims to support smaller government while also supporting higher taxes and more restrictions on private personal conduct? He's as big government as you can get.

Now Richardson is stepping down from his post because of an alleged affair with a lobbyist.

One writer observed that the GOP "could have their whole legislative agenda, not to mention their leadership, done in by a sex scandal." Perish the thought.

Richardson has been accused of having an affair with a utility company lobbyist at the same time he cosponsored a bill to finance a pipeline for the company.

Republican "family values" at work, folks.

(Source: http://www.latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-na-georgia-speaker4-2009dec04,0,89835.story)

News site says rate hike "saves" money

Even though the Kentucky Post exists only in online form now, it's still surprisingly adroit at trying to put a happy face on corporate greed.

Regarding Duke Energy's latest greed-driven rate hike, the Post has run a headline blaring, "Kentucky Duke Customers To Save $4.4M."

Hiking utility rates "saves" people money??? Seriously, that's what the headline claims - even though the article itself doesn't even suggest this.

The Post's apparent rationale for saying that the hike "saves" money is that the increase is actually less than what Duke originally wanted. But there shouldn't even be ANY increase. Especially after yet another unexplained mass power outage in the region last night.

Here's the article:


Nothing in the article suggests any savings, as the article is about a rate increase - not a decrease. So the headline is downright wrong.

Why is the Kentucky Attorney General even allowing any rate hike at all, after Duke already exploited the Blackout of '08 to win an increase?

GOP leader convicted of corruption

Joseph Bruno is the former Republican leader of the New York Senate.

The longtime legislator has now been convicted on 2 counts at his federal corruption trial. Bruno had been accused of accepting millions of dollars from people seeking business with the state. One of the charges he was convicted of dealt with a businessman who paid him $80,000 for a "virtually worthless" horse.

Sentencing for the disgraced politician looms in March.

It's hard for me to shed any tears over Joe Bruno's conviction. He was face-deep in the strange "soak-the-poor" fetish of the '90s.

Nonetheless, what do right-wing commenters on news sites say about this scandal? One said, "This is why we need to vote out the Democrats in 2010." Uh, Bruno is a Republican, you moron.

(Source: http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/article/20091207/NEWS01/91207038/Bruno-found-guilty-on-2-of-8-charges)

Another GOP big shot accused of assault

Republican politicians being involved in assault incidents is getting to be an everyday occurrence lately.

Meet Rod "Green Balloons" Jetton. Jetton, a Republican, is the former Missouri House Speaker.

Tempting as though it may be, this is not the time to lament the fact that Missouri in recent years has had one of the most corrupt state legislatures in America. I'm sure I've dealt with that before.

Now Jetton has been charged with felony assault following a woman's claim that he struck her in the face and choked her. Jetton may face 7 years in prison.

The woman also claims that Jetton poured her a glass of wine, and then she kept fading in and out of consciousness throughout the evening.