Friday, February 27, 2009

Scholaring obligation fulfilled tomorrow!

Just think! A whole weekend with no stories of right-wing incompetence!

That's because tomorrow morn I'm leaving on my fact-finding mission in the Southeast, and I'll be getting home Sunday night. So I probably won't be able to post here until then. It's not completely out of the question, but it's not likely either.

This satisfies my Roads Scholaring commitment for February. If you want to stretch things, you could say I already fulfilled it by posting photos from the night of February 2, but that was a minor event.

I could have taken the Peace Bike out this past Wednesday, but there are concerns far deeper than the weather which I won't even get into. I could have taken it out today for Commuter Clot, but I don't know if it's not canceled again because of the weather, and I wanted time to get ready for this weekend's trip to Georgia and South Carolina.

In an interview this week, the Peace Bike said, "I can't wait for the Eyewitness Cam to bring back some nice images of the region. Hopefully, potholes like that which plagued the device's attempt to photograph a bridge in Martinsville, Virginia, in December will be avoided."

If this isn't Scholaring, what is?

See ya in 2 days!

Crybabies throw a party!

I keep hearing about events that are billed as Boston Tea Party reenactments all over America lately.

And silly me. At first, I thought they might actually be real tax protests against something like the UnfairTax.

But nope!

It's just a bunch of Freep-a-zoids and right-wing idle rich complaining about Obama's stimulus package and foreclosure assistance program.

I guess they want the recession and the foreclosure crisis to continue. They're the ones benefiting from these crises, so why not?

The organizers are champions of phony populism. It reminds me of that True Blue Patriot nonsense that used to flood the letters page of our local paper.

And yes, the demonstrators (all 8 of them) at some of these so-called Tea Parties do spill tea. One such event in Iowa was stymied because environmental regulations barred the dumping of tea in the Cedar River.

I found out today that this mockery of the Boston Tea Party is coming to Cincinnati! It's scheduled for 3 PM on Sunday, March 15 at Fountain Square.

And I just might crash it - if I'm not doing something else, and if I'm not sick in bed. (Such travesties are possible, you know.)

I saw the website for the Cincinnati event, and part of it is devoted to complaining about stimulus money being used to combat school bullying. So I have every reason to fight these Potemkin populists.

The rest of the website is devoted to grumbling about how the rich have it so hard, and how the big, mean libs are giving their money to the poor, and blah blah blah.

Nice to know a Nazi rally is coming to Fountain Square. A couple years ago, the CCCDC forced an antiwar rally to buy a prohibitively expensive insurance policy - but it imposes no such requirement on the BTPers.

I plan on being there to keep an eye on the spoiled Tea Party babies, but I don't know how much of their hate speech I can stomach, so I probably won't get too close.

Also, Steve Chabot is supposed to be there - which makes me gladder than ever that he lost his reelection bid. If that loser wants to support a rally that favors school bullying, that's his problem.


Jindal admits he lied

So now Bobby Jindal admits that he was full of wafto gas when he made up that story about meeting the sheriff during Hurricane Katrina.

A spokesperson for Jindal says the embattled loon actually overheard the sheriff talking about the incident days after it occurred - not while it was going on. Evidently, Jindal did meet the lawman - but just not during the height of the hurricane, as he has claimed.

Jindal actually played no part in letting the rescue boats perform their mission - even though he claimed he had.

Thus, the story that was central to the Republican response to President Obama's speech has now turned out to be a Big Lie.

But, after being caught in a lie, Jindal seems to be playing the victim - in an attempt to burnish his conservative credentials further. It's kind of like Reagan's made-up fable about welfare recipients driving new luxury cars, or Rush Limbaugh's lie about the farmer going to jail for accidentally killing a rat with his tractor.

Now that's tr00thyism!

Seriously, is being a pathological liar a requirement for being a prominent Republican these days?

Talk about a political party crashing and burning.


Murder suspect was GOP volunteer

Yesterday in Miramar Beach, Florida, a man shot a group of 5 people and barricaded himself in his house, police say. Two of the victims - who were visitors from Chile - died.

Authorities say the suspect is Dannie Roy Baker, a man in his 60s.

It turns out that Baker is a big Republican operative. After it was discovered that Baker had circulated strange right-wing e-mails last year, it was also found that Baker had volunteered for the Bush campaign in 2004. Other Republicans described him as "very active" in the campaign.

The media outside a small part of Florida has not picked up the story of the suspect's Republican activity. But it should, because this is a pattern. There's the BTK killer, the Tennessee church murderer, the man who assassinated the head of the Arkansas Democrats - the list goes on and on. All of these killings - whether they were politically motivated or not - were by people who were firmly established to be right-wingers.

America's right wing has become so extreme that it's become dominated by weirdoes who parlay their personal turmoil into politics. It festers and grows because of right-wing talk radio droids who feed it.


Justice Department backs telcom immunity

Maybe President Obama doesn't support telcom immunity, but his Justice Department sure as hell does.

I sensed trouble when Obama appointed someone from the Clinton administration like Eric Holder as Attorney General, considering the Clinton White House's disappointing record on personal freedom. True to form, the Holder-led Justice Department is now defending a law that shields telcom firms from lawsuits regarding their conspiring with the Bush regime to spy on phone communications.

A Justice Department spokesperson said the department is defending this law because it "is the law of the land, and as such the Department of Justice defends it in court."

Not if it's unconstitutional, you don't.

Obama has opposed immunity, yet when he was a senator he voted for the immunity bill. The supposed reasoning is that the bill also included some goodies that had nothing to do with immunity. Obviously, however, the real reason is that there was so much arm-twisting going on by the Bush regime, the Republicans, and the DLC.

But immunity wasn't legal before, and it's not constitutional even now.

The rubber-stamping of tyranny crawl continues. Why? Because we've been programmed into letting it. In the past month, America has made inroads into reversing Bush's extremism. But I'm convinced our liberty won't be fully restored to what it was unless there's another shakeup at the Justice Department.

I'm also convinced that if Cynthia McKinney had been elected, nobody in her administration would be backing telcom immunity. Those who insisted a vote for McKinney was a vote for McCain can't say I didn't warn them of the DLC's dominance in the Democratic Party.

We may just have to place the real power in the hands of the states. The states should prosecute the telcom companies, and if the federal government says no, that's when the states are going to have to pass bills to say where they stand.

I think maybe the next symbol to add to the key to this blog should be one for the scourge of telcom immunity.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

My tax dollars at work

Personally, I have nothing against "In God We Trust" license plates - just as long as anyone who wants it pays for it, just like those who pay for other specialty plates.

Getting the plate for free means you're getting it at taxpayer expense.

Now Kentucky wants to offer the religious plates for free - much as Indiana has been doing for some time. In Indiana, the entire purpose of the plates was in fact to transfer taxpayer money to religious bodies.

Offering the religious plates for free when other specialty plates require a fee is unconstitutional, of course. I'd give this idea a pass if the religious plates required a fee like the others. But lawmakers couldn't be sensible about it, could they?

Do you realize that if this idea passes in Kentucky, my tax money would be spent to sponsor religion, without my consent?

I will be one of the first people to sign up as a plaintiff in the lawsuit that will inevitably be filed. In America, you follow the Constitution. Period.

I wonder what the reaction would be if a legislator introduced a bill to allow free specialty plates supporting separation of church and state.

I work hard and pay taxes, and I'd much rather see my tax money spent on schools, transportation, and health care than on something that's not even constitutional.


Senate bars FCC from closing unlicensed stations (satire)

The Senate has barred federal regulators from continuing a policy, expanded 2 decades ago, that used stormtrooper tactics to shut down unlicensed stations that harm nobody.

The Senate vote on the FCC's war on micropower radio was in part a response to the fact that unlicensed broadcasting is almost necessary now to ensure that those of us who are not raging right-wingers get equal time.

Sen. Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) said, "Cautious unlicensed use of the radio spectrum can be useful to restore the free exchange of ideas. The Senate's effort is as American as apple pie, mom, and baseball."

Actually this article so far is just a spoof of a real AP piece. DeMint said no such thing. He's stupid, so of course he'd never say anything that makes that much sense.

Quite the contrary, the Senate has approved DeMint's measure to bar the FCC from reimplementing the Fairness Doctrine.

You can argue all you want about whether the Fairness Doctrine is a good idea. It might not be a high priority for me, but you have to remember that the airwaves are a public trust.

The real issue is DeMint's hypocrisy. He personifies the right-wing policy of "regulation for thee, not for me." Like other conservatives, he wants less regulation for wealthy broadcasters who run established stations - but refuses to come to the defense of unlicensed micropower stations.

These micropower outlets are necessary for the free exchange of ideas to flourish. Perhaps they wouldn't even be needed if there was a Fairness Doctrine or if the FCC would stop rubber-stamping station transfers to right-wing corporations.

If DeMint insists the First Amendment protects established stations from the Fairness Doctrine, then it must also be true that the First Amendment protects unlicensed stations that don't even interfere with any other broadcast. End of story.

You can't have it both ways. But conservatives always try to.


Jindal made up hurricane story

This imbecile is actually a serious contender to be the Republican presidential nominee in 2012?

Right-wing Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has garnered yawns over his response to President Obama's speech about the economy. Jindal hoped to coast on his account of bureaucratic red tape that confronted a Louisiana sheriff during Hurricane Katrina.

Jindal claimed that while he was a congressman during the hurricane, he met the late Sheriff Harry Lee of Jefferson Parish while the sheriff was calling boats in to rescue people from rooftops. He said that the lawman was talking on the phone with federal bureaucrats who wouldn't let the boats go out until they could prove they had insurance. Jindal boasted that the sheriff and himself then opted to defy this outrageous federal fiat so they could rescue folks.

Bobby Jindal was trying to blame the big, mean libs for this unreasonable insurance rule.

Well, it turns out the incident didn't happen the way Jindal claims.

In a 2005 CNN interview, Sheriff Lee said he didn't even find out about the insurance requirement until a week after the hurricane. In other words, Jindal completely made up what Lee said during the meeting - if there was a meeting at all.

And guess what? There wasn't. Jindal never met Lee during that time frame. Lee had to stay behind on the ground in the affected area - but the only news reports of Jindal coming close to the area were of his aerial tour.

Furthermore, it was the Bush regime that imposed the insurance requirement in the first place - probably to please some insurance companies.

Lee died in 2007, so it's been harder to confirm exactly what happened. If he was alive today, he could help put Jindal's tale to rest once and for all.

Jindal also used Tuesday's speech to criticize federal funding of volcano monitors. "Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington," the embattled governor grumbled.

Uh, Bobby? Several major American cities are within striking distance of active volcanoes. The mayor of Vancouver, Washington, was infuriated at Jindal's remark. "Does the governor have a volcano in his back yard?" the mayor angrily asked.

If Jindal thinks we should cut volcano monitors, does he think we should cut hurricane monitors too? Probably. His ideological rigidity is the same type that was displayed in the mid-'90s when the Republican Congress cut off funding of flood monitors in northern Kentucky. As a result, there was no warning of the devastating 1997 flood. Several people died.

If Bobby Jindal is the future of the Republican Party, they better get used to Obama winning at least 45 states next time.


The Conservative Fool Of The Day is...Dean Grose!

Let's play another game of "guess the party affiliation." Neither the Orange County Register nor UPI reported what party this oaf is a member of. But from this story, you can guess.

Dean Grose - the clod with the '70s televangelist hairdo pictured here - is the mayor of Los Alamitos, California. But he's certainly not much of a leader.

Grose is in trouble because he sent out a racist e-mail that included a picture of a watermelon patch in the White House garden.

Haw haw haw. I don't see anyone laughing, do you?

Seriously, does anyone at all think that's funny? I don't. It's not even creative in the least bit.

But Grose's excuse is that he didn't intend to be offensive. That's just like how apologists for a serial bully in high school who beats the shit out of you day after day say the bully actually just wants to be your friend. The mayor thinks people are supposed to believe his racism is friendly?

I looked up on Google to see what political party Dean Grose is a member of - as if I couldn't guess. To the surprise of no one, Grose is a Republican.

Uh, Dean? I hear there might be an opening for a cartoonist at the New York Post soon.


Cops imprisoned for death in botched drug raid

This entry is about yet another drug raid that went awry - this time in Atlanta in 2006.

For starts, police used a no-knock warrant, which is illegal. Furthermore, the warrant was obtained on falsified information. Cops used this warrant to barge into the home of an innocent 92-year-old woman - after an informant lied and told them there were drugs in the home.

The elderly woman thought the cops were robbers, so she grabbed her gun and shot through the door. Police returned fire with 39 shots and killed her.

The cops in this case were actually worse than robbers. They were home invaders. And they became killers.

The police officers then attempted to cover up the actions they took in getting the bogus warrant! One of the cops even placed marijuana in the residence to make it look like they had the right house.

But the lies and cover-ups didn't pay: A federal judge has now sentenced 3 officers involved in the botched raid to prison terms varying from 5 to 10 years for violating the woman's civil rights. They are not eligible for parole (though they can get their sentences reduced by 15% for good behavior).

I think it's a shame they didn't receive an even longer sentence. Twelve bullets were found in the elderly woman's body, and they only get 5 to 10 years? If the woman had killed the cops that she thought were robbers, she would have probably received the death penalty. I'm not in favor of capital punishment, but I think the drug cops got off easy for killing an innocent person.

The officers still face state charges of voluntary manslaughter.

Meanwhile, trust in the Atlanta police has been shattered.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cops attack dissenter at Coulter lecture

It's hard to say what symbol from the key I should use here. Since Ann Coulter is involved, probably most of them.

Last week, Coulter made a stop at the College of New Jersey. College Republicans groped attendees with a metal detector, and Coulter's lecture was as idiotic as one might expect.

At the end of the school-sponsored appearance, the vice-president of the College Democrats tried asking Coulter some incisive, trenchant questions. In response, the student was promptly brutalized by police officials.

Police dragged the student out of the auditorium, shoved him to the ground, and injured him - all for asking Ann Coulter a serious question. The cops called the student a "fucking asshole", "faggot", and "shithead."

I know that at least several cops read this blog, and there's general agreement that for any police officer to behave the way cops behaved in this story is unprofessional and criminal. The police in this incident weren't acting like real police. They were acting like jackbooted brownshirts.

Ironically, most of Coulter's speech was spent comparing Democrats to Nazis. Yet at every Coulter appearance, it's always her supporters who display Nazi behavior. At other Coulter lectures, College Republicans have roughed up people who dared to dissent.

I support honest, competent, professional police. But I have absolutely zero patience with those who abuse a badge to the degree seen in this incident. There are few individuals who I deem completely unworthy of living in society, but if a police officer abuses their power as spectacularly as in this episode, they certainly fit into that category.

We need to change the law and impose life imprisonment for those who misuse a badge to brutalize members of the public.


Union organizer attacked with acid

Anti-worker violence. Coming to a land near you.

Police in Greece have now arrested a man suspected of involvement in brutally attacking a union organizer. In the December assault, 2 right-wing extremists threw acid in the organizer's face and shoved the acid down her throat. The union organizer is still hospitalized in serious condition.

The attack followed the organizer receiving death threats from right-wing terrorists.

It's not a stretch to suspect the assailants were goons hired by union-busting corporate big shots. In recent years, major American corporations have apparently hired thugs to rape those who protest against the corporations' polluting of the environment, so anti-labor violence ordered from the top certainly seems likely.

Hopefully authorities will investigate to see what corporations may be behind the acid attack.

Unfortunately, the European Union has been a windfall for corporate power - which would hardly seem to curtail corporate-sponsored terrorism. With the EU's increasingly conservative leadership, corporatism will only fester and grow.

In America a century ago, several towns barred union members from even living there. Even now, it's unclear if these restrictions have been lifted, or if similar violence won't befall union members who locate there.


No meal for you! (Slap!)

You may remember the 'Seinfeld' episode about the "Soup Nazi." He was a character who ran a soup stand and bellowed, "No soup for you!" if customers didn't maintain a rigid protocol when ordering soup.

Now America's schools are telling poor children, "No meal for you!"

Several large school districts have launched an effort to stigmatize low-income kids by depriving them of full meals at lunch. They'll serve them a cold cheese sandwich, a microscopic slice of fruit, and an 8-ounce skim milk. But - at least for growing children - that does not constitute a whole lunch.

The schools' excuse is that their parents haven't paid what they owe for lunches. Well, that's because they can't, because they are too poor. (The schools probably force them to waste money buying uniforms instead.)

Schools aren't shy about making an issue of feeding poor kids substandard meals. On countless occasions, school officials have made a production out of pulling poor children from the lunch line to be served separately, to the jeers of classmates.

Obviously it's not about saving money. It's about meanness. Schools single out poor and working-class pupils for mistreatment because they can. I wasn't rich, and the schools tried to humiliate me too. It's happened to many folks.

The so-called meals fed to poor students aren't just too small. They're also of poor quality, and the food may in fact be spoiled. One child said, "Every time I eat it, it makes me feel like I want to throw up."

If these lunches are considered adequate for low-income kids, why aren't they good enough for everyone else? If the schools are so interested in saving money, why don't they just serve these meals to everybody? The government had billions of dollars to give to Halliburton and Custer Battles, and it's worried about spending too much on school lunches?

Nah. It's meanness.


Iraq War to end within 18 months

Elections have consequences.

When we let buffoons like Bush in the White House, we get poorly planned wars. Now that America has elected Obama to replace him, the end of the Iraq War that Bush started is finally in sight.

I have no doubt that with a John McCain or a Hillary Clinton, the war would still be going on during the next election.

President Obama is now set to order all American combat troops out of Iraq within 18 months - a process he has already begun. I'd like to see an immediate withdrawal, but considering Bush's poor execution of this war, that hasn't seemed likely.

The war is 6 years and counting, and it really is long past time to start wrapping things up. That night in 2003 when it started was long, and it's been a long and costly war.


That's the truth! Ppphh! ('Sesame Street' Wednesday)

I remember one time when I was about 8 years old, I went swimming with my family at A.J. Jolly County Park.

On the way home, we stopped for supper at the Lee's Famous Recipe in Highland Heights. While I was devouring my chicken dinner, my nose began to tickle. It was the telltale sign of a bogey!

I rubbed my nose a bit in an attempt to dislodge the gob of mucus. When I felt that the booger was about to emerge, I waited until my parents weren't looking, extracted the boogie, and wiped it under the table in the fast food restaurant.

And that's the truth! Ppphh!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Another class warfare run

This is yet another frustrating demonstration of class warfare in suburban Cincinnati - but sadly, it's not atypical locally or nationally.

In Springfield Township, officials are trying to halt what they call a "gravy train" of publicly assisted housing. They complain that such housing has saturated their suburban township, and that the amount of publicly assisted housing is "an excess."

Yet this housing composes only (get this) 5% of all the housing stock in Springfield Township.

Five percent is saturation and "an excess"?

Considering the poverty rate in Hamilton County is close to 15% (or probably much higher), I'd call the 5% housing statistic a shortage, not "an excess." Still, 5% of housing being publicly assisted is far more than most Cincinnati suburbs - many of which have become no-go zones for poor and working-class people.

Township officials remain undeterred! They complain that housing for low-income people causes existing property values to decline. Well, township officials should be lucky they have property to worry about the value of. The working poor who are about to be driven out don't.

Are the suburbs not part of American society? In a society, communities share burdens. We can't tell central cities or poor rural counties to keep shouldering all of society's expenses. It's bad from a fairness perspective - and it has blunted interest in central cities, deprived them of economic improvements that would benefit residents, and fostered hopelessness.

The result of official efforts to keep out low-income housing? More "soak-the-poor" policies that are passed off as some great reforms.

And more naked hatred against the working poor. This story has prompted class-baiting right-wing comments on local news websites. One right-wing commenter said, "I work hard to pay for my home and I don't want people who can't afford the market rate living in my neighborhood. If you're poor you should not enjoy the same quality of housing of those of us who work and can afford our homes in the neighborhoods we choose."

Hey smartass, the working poor are called the working poor for a reason.

Should America fix some of its policies regarding publicly funded housing? Surely. But does any community have a right to drive out low-income residents? Absolutely not.


Bunning threatens to sue if anyone runs against him

That comedy routine known as Jim Bunning is at it yet again!

The Kentucky senator and former major league pitcher has grown increasingly frustrated with those who dare to challenge the notion that everything he does deserves sheer praise.

Since it's obvious Bunning is going to lose his Senate reelection bid if he's the Republican nominee again, party officials are starting to worry. It appears as if they've been taking him aside and saying, "Uh, Jim? We'd really like to keep this Senate seat. So we'd appreciate it if you don't run again."

But Bunning doesn't get the message. He's going to run again.

And he's threatening to sue if any other Republican dares to run against him in the primary!

Maybe Bunning hasn't threatened to sue any potential opponents per se. But he has threatened to sue the National Republican Senatorial Committee if they try to find a more winnable candidate.

Talk about an ego that's out of control - and a party that's self-destructing before our eyes.


ACLU defends teacher who posed with gun

Conservatives claim to be such great Second Amendment (and First Amendment) champions, but this story ought to silence these claims. (But you know it won't.)

Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, is in a Republican county, and the school district is run by conservatives. (What school district isn't?) But recently, the school system placed a middle school teacher on leave because she posed with a shotgun on her Facebook page.

The photo was not taken at school, and the Facebook page was not made using school computers. It was her personal Facebook page - and owning a shotgun is not illegal.

Despite this, the school system suspended her anyway - as if they can control what she does on her own time. Do you have to get permission from your employer to post anything on your personal website from your home computer?

Now the ACLU is quite properly defending the teacher. A statement from the ACLU of Wisconsin says that "public school teachers do not lose their right to free expression when they are not working."

Isn't this the same ACLU that conservatives just utterly hate? Why yes, as a matter of fact, it is.

Conservatives have lined up against an organization that opposes a school system that thinks it can keep employees in suspended animation. Not as if we didn't know whose side the conservatives were on, because the school system ain't exactly run by progressive populists.


Another study proves media's GOP bias

Some national or regional news organizations are so singularly dedicated to advancing the same propaganda over and over that I wonder if the next icon to add to the key for this blog should be one for media bias.

Now yet another study has proven that election coverage by the TV networks has favored Republicans.

Gee, ya think?

The Indiana University study covered ABC, CBS, and NBC from 1992 through 2004. In each and every one of these 4 elections, coverage was biased in favor of the GOP.

One of the researchers says this bias isn't because journalists actually want to favor Republicans - but because they're afraid of being accused of a liberal bias. (This despite the fact that Harry Truman and Adlai Stevenson noted the media's Republican bias as far back as the 1940s and 1950s.) Maybe it's true that most journalists don't wish to favor the GOP. But media corporations clearly do. It's impossible for the media's conservative tilt to be so pervasive without deliberate manipulation at very high levels.

I've yet to see this story reported anywhere except on IU's website. That the media won't cover the story is very proof of the media's bias!

This should also put a lid on Sarah Palin's continuing demagoguery in which she incessantly blames the media for her public idiocy.


About posting comments here

It cracked a roo.

Just joking!

There have been reports lately that comments on this blog haven't been appearing. Often, a reader will attempt to post a comment, only to be confronted with red text about the message not getting through.

The problem is not in your set. It's in the blogging service. I have no more control over this than I have over what people say in chat rooms while I'm asleep. So if you post a comment that doesn't seem to get through, post it again until it does.

Until it's fixed, grin and bear it!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Video game censorship law struck down!

I've written much about federal courts striking down state laws. But if the state law is unconstitutional, it deserves to be struck down.

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals usually leans to the right (conservative complaints to the contrary notwithstanding). In recent years, the court has usually been squarely on the side of more laws against individual conduct and fewer laws against the conduct of Big Business.

But even a broken clock is right twice a day, and the Ninth Circuit has finally generated a proper constitutional ruling - this time upholding the free exchange of ideas and individual rights.

The court quite accurately ruled on Friday that a California law to censor "violent" video games is unconstitutional. Of course the law was unconstitutional. Anyone with even a basic grasp of the First Amendment could see that.

California's law, which passed in 2005, restricted sales and rentals of games and imposed rigid labeling requirements.

All this after the censors spent the '90s harping about how video game ratings were only voluntary.

Some of you are going to ask whether the law that was struck down actually restricted the rights of corporations that sell the games rather than the rights of individuals. Actually, the law violated individual rights more. Free flow of media materials incorporates individuals' right to view what they want.

I also know that some whiny crybabies are going to say the Constitution should be ignored altogether, just because of their own desire to ban games. Fuck them.


Powerful landowner blocks trail

One of the wealthiest landowners in eastern Maine has some straaaaange ideas about the law.

If a strip of public land runs through your property, do you have a right to block access to this strip? Of course not. But this guy apparently thinks he does.

Maine officials have converted an abandoned rail line into a much-needed public trail for hikers and bicyclists. But the adjacent landowner has put up several barricades to block the trail. He seems to think that when a rail line is abandoned, the right-of-way automatically becomes property of the adjoining landowners, with no strings attached.

That's like saying that if a street becomes abandoned, private property owners can just automatically take ownership of the abandoned street. Well, it ain't so. I've found several abandoned roads around Cincinnati, I can tell you firsthand it isn't so.

The landowner in this case is wrong. At minimum, the state acquired the rail right-of-way from the railroad with the intent on making it a public trail. In fact, one source says the state already owned the right-of-way even when the railroad used it, and leased it to the railroad.

Still, the landowner's signs remain: "This portion of the railroad bed is closed. No trespassing. Violators will be prosecuted." And yes, that's an Allowed Cloud.

It's an Allowed Cloud I'd have every reason to defy, as the state of Maine seems to back me up.


Kentucky bishops support Holocaust denier

I'm not sure which of the symbols in the key for my blog I should use here. Probably most of them - so I'm not even going to bother. This is one these stories where you almost lapse into suspension of disbelief - until you realize how sadly real the story is.

Now that Pope Benedict XVI has lifted the excommunication of Bishop Richard Williamson, who denied the Holocaust, leaders of all 4 Catholic dioceses in Kentucky have issued a statement supporting reinstating Williamson.

This came at the same time the Pope promoted an ultraconservative priest to assistant bishop of Linz, Austria. The clergyman, Fr. Gerhard Maria Wagner, has been described as "the Catholic Fred Phelps." That's because he applauds disasters such as Hurricane Katrina. He boasted that the hurricane was God's punishment for the supposed decadence of New Orleans, and he said he was glad that the storm did so much damage.

Wagner also claimed that the Harry Potter books spread Satanism.

Sounds like a perfect Bush Cabinet pick, huh?

As for the Pope's reinstatement of a Holocaust-denying bishop, supporters of this move are blaming the media for the resulting controversy. Lovely.


One county under fascism

This is a story not only about censorship and poor sportsmanship, but also about naked right-wing thuggery.

In Pinellas Park, Florida, a shop owner posted a sign outside his business supporting the new Commander-in-Chief. It reads, "One Nation Under Obama."

This does not sit well with the local right-wing intelligentsia. Unable to cope with losing the election, GOP cultists have vandalized the sign repeatedly. The business owner even set up a surveillance cam that caught a group of people climbing over his fence and defacing the sign.

For 8 years, Bush's followers certainly weren't shy about hiding their love of their hero. So Obama's backers have every justification to show off their support of the new President.

Still, Republican thugs remain undeterred. Regarding the Obama sign, one right-wing nutcase was filmed telling the shop owner, "I hope somebody messes with it again. And trust me, as Americans, we will." You just admitted to a crime, idiot. Now fuck off.

But now the county says the sign has to go. Enforcers in Pinellas County also say the fence that is supposed to keep out vandals is too high.

Tough shit. It's a free country.

Bush cultists posted countless signs over the years supporting their leader - and Pinellas County didn't tell them they had to remove their signs. But one Obama sign appears, and the county throws a shitfit.

If the fascists who run Pinellas County hate free speech so much, remember that they are along international waters, you know. They can always anchor a ship in the Gulf of Mexico and start their own country, that doesn't have a First Amendment.

If I was the shop owner, I sure as hell wouldn't remove my sign.


The Conservative Fool Of The Day is...Jim Bunning!

How did this idiot ever get elected from my state?

Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Kentucky) would already be facing a much tougher reelection fight had the media not downplayed his abuse of his foundation's nonprofit status to make a profit, but his latest statement ought to sink him.

Bunning is boasting about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's pancreatic cancer.

In an appearance before a group of Hardin County Republicans, Bunning predicted the death of the 75-year-old Ginsburg and bragged that it would create an opening to appoint a conservative Justice. The senator said that a conservative Justice is "going to be in place very shortly" because of Ginsburg's illness.

One is reminded of when the Republicans rubbed their hands together in excitement over Tim Johnson's stroke. They could hardly contain their glee over that.

Someone also needs to remind Bunning that his side didn't win the election, so they don't get to appoint the next Justice if there's a vacancy soon. Even Clinton had a passable batting average on appointing Supreme Court Justices, so why does Bunning think Obama would be any more conservative?

Show a little class, Jim.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

In case you're wondering about Taft-Hartley...

After last week's 'Pail Poll, in which you voted in favor of repealing the Taft-Hartley Act's provisions allowing work-for-less laws, some of you have asked whether the entire Taft-Hartley Act should be repealed.

My answer: yes. It ought to be repealed. And it nearly happened once in the '60s. Even in the '90s, Taft-Hartley would have been softened, but for Republican opposition to this effort in Congress. The work-for-less scourge is only one major facet of Taft-Hartley, which also has other unfortunate provisions.

If there was any parallel legislation restricting corporations, Big Business would be crying to every federal court in the land to block it. You can bet your life savings on that.

Bullshit ruling blocks slaughterhouse law

This is what America's stuck with for another 30 years because of Katherine Harris's corruption.

Right-wing judicial activism has reared its misshapen noggin again, this time regarding California slaughterhouses.

California has a very sensible law that says you can't sell meat that comes from downer animals. The law also requires these ill animals to be humanely put down. This statute is designed to promote humane treatment of animals and to safeguard the public from contaminated food.

Now, however, the National Meat Association and the American Meat Institute have filed a greed-driven lawsuit to have the law tossed out. And U.S. District Judge Lawrence O'Neill complied by blocking the law, saying that federal law trumps it.

Except it doesn't.

I can't find anything in federal law that says a state can't have such regulations. In fact, the law specifically allows states to have such rules. Even if federal law does say a state can't have rules like this, this is still an issue on which the states have a constitutional power to enact laws that are stronger than federal laws.

But not in the matchbook law world of BushAmerica. Who appointed O'Neill? I'll give you 3 guesses. He was appointed by scuzz-a-lug Bush, that's who.

The right-wing Ninth Circus had issued a similar ruling in a different case. It too is bogus, for the same reasons as this court diktat.

What's the point in even dividing the country into states if courts can just impose their whims to nullify state laws?

You'd think this problem could be remedied if the federal government passes a law saying states have the power to enact rules on slaughterhouses. But the law already says this, and the courts have just ignored it. Congress might have to pass its own law to do what the California law did, but on a national level. But who says courts won't gut that too?

Right now, California is going to have to pass a bill to assert state sovereignty, in order to defend its rules on slaughterhouses. Otherwise it's going to be stuck with Bush bunk gas for the next 30 years.


Oops! Station almost lops off drug frame-up

The Fox affiliate in Cincinnati decided to play God again, this time by lopping off the opening theme of 'Cops' last night with commercials. It's unclear why, because the run-of-the-mill high school basketball game that was on before it ended before 'Cops' began (barely).

Admittedly unusual for a progressive populist, I dig the 'Cops' TV series. Well, I dig most of it except the bogus drug raids. And last night, the first segment of the 8 PM episode was another obvious frame-up, in which police set up a man by mailing pot to him.

It's kind of ironic that Channel 19's attempt to walk all over 'Cops' almost deprived viewers of seeing the police walk all over someone's rights. Like a moral panic type suing a rich entertainment corporation, it's another wingnut-versus-wingnut conflict, if you will.

Repeal DMCA? ('Pail Poll)

Well, you did pretty good on last week's 'Pail Poll: You voted 12 to 5 to repeal oppressive Taft-Hartley provisions that promote state work-for-less laws.

This week's 'Pail Poll deals with an issue that's of utmost importance if you care about the free flow of ideas. As you may know, the right-wing Digital Millennium Copyright Act was enacted after a rogue Congress rammed it through in 1998. A gimme to powerful corporations, the DMCA criminalized innovative technology that was previously legal and facilitated dubious fourth-party copyright complaints, among other things.

The effect of the DMCA has been to suppress art and science. The DMCA is also the reason some of the most entertaining and artistically or historically significant clips on YouPube keep vanishing. For instance, if the Viacom thought police so much as opens its spleezix yip about a clip that may or may not violate its copyright, that clip is gone from YouTube. Gone into thin air. (Often, the account of the person who posted it is gone too.)

Clips that are clearly protected by the longstanding fair use doctrine have been targeted.

The DMCA also resulted in the ban of a popular song whose lyrics featured the code of a program that could decrypt DVD's - even though no legitimate legal theory should allow even the program itself to be banned. (In fact, the program would not have been banned but for the DMCA.)

The DMCA is so, so dumb.

But now you can vote in our 'Pail Poll on whether to repeal this rogue law!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Burger King tells a whopper!

The idea that corporations do not take political stances is a myth. Not only do they donate to partisan political campaigns and openly rain praise on candidates (as Wal-Mart did for Elizabeth Dole), but they lobby extensively.

But Burger King denies it all.

The multipartisan Employee Free Choice Act is a much-needed federal bill that would ease workers' power to organize. Regarding EFCA, Burger King Corporation (BKC) denied taking any position. The fast food giant issued a statement saying, "BKC and its franchisees serve a diverse consumer base and, therefore, aim to remain neutral on political issues."

Oh yeah?

Contrary to this statement, Burger King had lobbied against EFCA. The burger chain spent over $300,000 lobbying against it betwixt 2006 and 2008. Through the National Retail Federation, it in effect provided more funding and militant opposition against the bill.

Goldman Sachs is a big Burger King shareholder. It too has lobbied against EFCA.

In brief, Burger King lobbied against a workers' rights law - then denied taking a position on this or any other issue. They're the home of the whopper, alright!


Bubble gum bunker blasts (Bubble Gum Weekend)

Gabillions of hard-working people have wondered how bubble gum would behave if exposed to unusual conditions. I know I have!

When I was a lad, a neighborhood playmate once suggested placing a piece of bubble gum over a hydrogen pump to inflate it with the lighter-than-air gas. But the fact that hydrogen is highly flammable put the kibosh on this plan. Similarly, I've always wondered whether one who swallows bubble gum can blow bubbles out their ass by farting.

That question remains unknown, but peep this:

That was a commersh for Hubba Bubba of rather recent vintage.

By the time of this ad, the famed Gum Fighter had long since been retired and had been replaced by animated chameleons.

The highlight of the ad is around :20. It appears that the chameleon who addresses the viewer blows a giant pink bubble out his butt!

But actually it's the other chameleon bubbling and floating away. This, however, opens up a whole new can of baste: Can Hubba Bubba be sued for false advertising because the product does not enable people to fly?

Surely there's some lawyer out there just itching to cash in on that!

Jindal won't let Louisianans get stimulus money

Well, you lost your job. That's bad enough.

But you better hope you don't live in Louisiana - where right-wing Gov. Bobby Jindal is declining stimulus money that would have expanded unemployment insurance coverage.

To put it in more straightforward terms, you won't be getting unemployment coverage, because Jindal has decided not to let you have it - even though your tax dollars paid for the stimulus package.

The money is supposed to be there for you, but he won't let you have it.

More plain old Republican meanness. That's all it is. Jindal can come up with every excuse in the book for his edict, but it boils down to his desire to throw his weight around.

We've seen this attitude before with Phil Gramm, George Allen, and a certain George W. Bush. I'm also reminded of when Tommy Thompson pulled Wisconsin out of federal antipoverty programs.

Right-wing Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour says he's likely to follow Jindal's "lead." (Shocker!) Barbour's excuse is that he claims accepting the unemployment funds will force him to raise taxes later, but he never explains why. Besides, if that's his concern, he's a hypocrite - because it was Barbour who vetoed a bill that would have slashed Misssissippi's exorbitant tax on food.

In other words, Barbour is worried about taxing the rich, even as he allows the poor to be taxed back to the Stone Age.

Is there any doubt about the modern GOP's deliberate meanness?


Friday, February 20, 2009

Former White House cat Socks dies

Socks was the Clintons' famous cat, as you'll recall. Today, Socks was euthanized at the age of 18. In recent years, he lived with Bill Clinton's former secretary near Washington.

I'll miss Socks. He was truly one of the great White House pets.


Governor wants teachers to work for free

Hasn't this guy ever heard of the Thirteenth Amendment?

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski is part of the DLC strain of the once-great Democratic Party, and he has seldom met a Republican idea he didn't like. (For instance, he strongly supported Oregon's version of the Patriot Act that was defined by the failed Sudafed crackdown.)

Now Kulongoski wants teachers to work for free. He says teachers should forego being paid this spring, to bring the state budget under control. At a news conference, the embattled governor told teachers, "You do it without pay."

And get this: As a sign of Kulongoski's royal arrogance, he acted like he was being the world's greatest altruist by proposing a pay cut for himself that isn't nearly as severe. He boasted that he'd cut his own $93,600 annual salary by 5% - which means he'd still be making more than teachers make even without a pay cut.

Gee, nobody's going to want to be governor if they only make $89,000 a year. (That's sarcasm!)

Not only that, but Kulongoski plans to give himself some days off - which teachers won't receive.

Hey, why don't we all work for free? Maybe instead of worrying about counting money, we can all just be paid with a bowl of soup and a cot each day.

But that would be silly, right? So why does Ted Kulongoski expect teachers to work without pay when he'll still get almost $89,000 a year?


LaHood wants subsidy for gas guzzlers

Tax gas. It pays.

Nobody likes paying taxes, but at least the gasoline tax hits hulking fuel guzzlers much harder. That's how it should be.

Now Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood - one of the obligatory Republicans in Obama's Cabinet - wants to replace the gas tax with a mileage tax, which would in effect subsidize gas-wasting vehicles.

Instead of paying based on how much gas you use, you'd pay according to how many miles you travel.

I wonder which Big Oil lobbyists suggested this cockamamie idea.

Right-wing officials in several states have already proposed a similar plan - in the hopes of soothing their own affinity for gas guzzlers. How would they accomplish this? In Massachusetts, right-wing officials have suggested requiring cars to carry GPS chips to track not only how many miles they travel, but also when and where they travel.

So it's not only an economic issue but also a Bill of Rights issue. This clearly violates the constitutional right to privacy.

This certainly doesn't help encourage America to move to fuel-efficient vehicles, does it?


The school that ate the neighborhood?

America's schools are no longer content with creating a prison-like atmosphere only at school. Now they try to keep students in suspended animation even away from school.

Suffice it to say, I've rejected the ideology that demands compliance with educrats' every demand. School handbooks often harp about parents' supposed responsibility not to question school policy. I'm wise enough to know better than to trust the school.

If a kid gets suspended from school, and the parents disagree with the suspension, what obligation do the parents have to do the school's bidding? None.

But a police commander in Chicago doesn't see it that way.

Regarding student misbehavior at one Chicago high school, the commander seems to have some rather strange suggestions for dealing with it.

For one, I don't see why the school has to call the cops every time some kid acts up. I graduated from an inner-city public high school, and I don't remember any serious misbehavior, so I doubt the discipline situation is truly out of control.

The commander says the school should give the names of all suspended students to the cops. Perhaps more gnawingly, he wants suspendees to be banned from within 2 blocks of the school.

Unless the school includes everything within 2 blocks, why?

Sorry, but the school doesn't get to control what happens away from school.

What if the student just happens to live less than 2 blocks from school?

The commander also demanded (you knew this was coming) school uniforms.

Welcome to the command state, folks.


Under GOP, stimulus not so stimulating

Don't get me wrong: I'm all for the Obama administration's economic stimulus package.

But in areas as Republican-blighted as northern Kentucky, don't count on much improvement.

I checked the independent Stimulus Watch website, which lists "shovel-ready" projects that cities all over America have submitted in the hopes of winning stimulus funds. Here's the entries for Kentucky:

Notice something?

There's not a single project in the 4th District. Not one.

There's dozens in Cincinnati - if you're able to commute. But none in northern Kentucky.

The Republican bosses in northern Kentucky didn't think the area needed any fixes to its crumbling infrastructure, I guess. They're too preoccupied with controlling everyone's sex lives or whether they drink beer in private.

At least this means Geoff Davis's obstructionism would have proven useless. Dracula Davis voted against the stimulus (of course), but there wasn't much in the 4th District for him to really vote against.

I think northern Kentucky may have missed out on a national economic bonanza - thanks entirely to its political leaders' priorities.

Another city abolishes year-round school

The key on the right-hand side of this blog should add another symbol: failed corporatist gimmick.

Ever since its initial rise, year-round school was destined to be one of the all-time biggest duds. To say that school systems switching to a year-round calendar was an answer in search of a question would be an understatement. This was an idea I knew would fail - and it did.

Year-round school has yielded no academic benefits, it has inconvenienced families, and it has almost certainly increased the prevalence of bullying and disease.

Although year-round school is a failure, you're not allowed criticizing it, of course. I was hounded off a message board a couple years back because I did.

The worshipers of year-round school who chased me off that site are lucky they don't live in Dayton, Ohio.

Despite public opposition, the Dayton school board adopted a 12-month schedule in 2005. But now it's proven to be such a disaster that Dayton is returning to a shorter calendar.

According to interim superintendent Kurt Stanic, year-round school hasn't served kids as well as the school board expected. Then what exactly did the school board possibly expect? Apologists for year-round school always try to make it sound like year-round school will cause schoolchildren to float happily through life and feel nothing but love forever. If they really thought that, then they were delusional.

Year-round school served nobody except our corporate overlords.


GOP thug off the hook

James Tobin (not to be confused with an economist of the same name) is a right-wing consultant who led Bush's 2004 campaign in New England and was convicted of phone harassment for his role in jamming Democratic phone banks in the 2002 New Hampshire scandal. Tobin's involvement in that scandal led to him being named Conservative Fool Of The Day for 12/19/05.

This phone play was instrumental in juicing the election. GOP operatives illegally bombarded Democratic phone banks with hang-up calls to dash Democrats' get-out-the-vote efforts. One Democratic office received over 300 hang-up calls in just over an hour.

Tobin's legal fees were paid by the Republican National Committee, which insisted he was innocent.

Unbelievably, a federal court later threw out Tobin's conviction on appeal - not because Tobin was innocent (because he wasn't), but because the court said the law under which he was convicted "was not a good fit" for his crime.

Talk about judicial activism! A jury had already ruled that the law was a good fit. What's the point in even having a judicial system when courts can just overturn convictions that are entirely legal?

Prosecutors later charged James Tobin with the crime of making false statements. And a federal grand jury indicted him.

But now a federal court has dashed that case too. A judge has ruled that prosecuting Tobin is "vindictive", so the charges have had to be tossed.

Um, no. Prosecuting a criminal for a crime he committed is not vindictive. It's called justice.

There's not even any doubt that Tobin illegally jammed phone banks. Yet he can't even be punished for it. In conservaworld, crime pays.

Now the Republicans know they can get away with anything - at least if their party wasn't already pretty much near the end of its life.


Tim's a travelin' man

I found out tomorrow that this year's annual fact-finding mission looms already. I know I just had the North Carolina outing, but that was last year's road trip.

A point of order: It counts towards my monthly Roads Scholaring commitment, because Scholaring is a key reason I go on these trips. Instead of visiting tourist traps and theme parks, I use roads just to be using them.

I would have liked a Peace Bike outing this month, but local weather has been horrendous, and even the cherished Peace Bike is not obligatory for a Scholaring. The trusty velocipede does not wish to repeatedly brave rain and ice, and would rather wait until the weather clears up. Even without the looming fact-finding mission, I performed a minor Scholaring this month in the form of my midnight adventure on Groundhog Day - though the Peace Bike was absent then too.

I feel like a long-distance trucker. Ever since I started this blog, I've worked each night of each trip - by writing up entries to post later. I'm all business. Before North Carolina, it was 15 months since my previous out-of-town trip.

My looming fact-finding mission will likely be in the northern region of the state of Georgia.

In the meantime, allow me to share with you a Roads Scholaring video from the North Carolina excursion:

After the daily stories lately about Sudafed logs and uniforms, a break couldn't come at a better time than now.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Have no fear, ish #451 is here!

Volume #18 of The Last Word has now beginned!

If printed out, the latest ish would be 6 pages, which isn't a bad catch these days.

What, dare you ask, does issue #451 of the long-running Last Word cover? Well, it talks about these items:

• Our "fuck you" to Yahoo!

• A laundromat that got picketed in a pee-related controversy.

• A legendary rock band playing our hotel conquering game.

• More details from our North Carolina fact-finding mission.

• A senator getting his, um, just desserts.

• More busted toilets.

• A nun's lecture over America's greatest pastime.

So point your bunker here for the latest irreverent Last Word:

Bush lawyer behind Facebook blunder

Bush may be out of office, but his cronies are scattered far and wide - like the old Contac commercial that showed the capsule releasing tiny balls.

The social networking website Facebook has been embattled lately because it introduced new terms of service forcing users to surrender intellectual property rights over their own content.

In 1999, when Yahoo! took over GeoCities and began decimating it, one of Yahoo!'s first acts was adding a similar provision to the GeoCities terms of service. The protest was so overpowering that Yahoo! was forced to relent.

I guess someone at Facebook didn't learn a lesson from that calamity.

Who could possibly be stupid enough not to learn from Yahoo!'s dumb mistake? Well, Facebook's new policy was masterminded by one Ted Ullvot - who used to work for the Bush regime under that master of matchbook law, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

The uproar is so great over Facebook's rule change that it too is being rescinded.

Hopefully, Facebook learned its own lesson: When you see that someone has a connection to Bush, keep your distance at all costs.


Congressman may face recall

U.S. Rep. Joseph Cao is a Republican newly elected from New Orleans - but with only a plurality. (Hey, isn't 50% of the vote supposed to be required in Louisiana? Or is this rule ignored for Republicans?)

Already, Cao is one of the most unpopular members of Congress. Disdain for Cao was heightened when he voted against the stimulus law - despite constituents' support for the stimulus.

Amidst that vote, a recall effort has been launched against Cao. Supporters of the recall say Cao has "irreparably harmed" efforts by New Orleans to win federal aid.

To put it in franker terms, Cao - like the rest of the House's GOP caucus - is an obstructionist.

Conservatives are questioning whether Louisiana even allows elected officials to be recalled. However, they never questioned it when Republicans tried to recall Democratic officeholders in that state.

We in northern Kentucky need to launch a recall effort against the fartpipe Geoff Davis. Few other congressmorons deserve to lose their seat more.


Man arrested for taking pictures

I think the next icon to add to the key here might be one for authorities surrendering to terrorism by using it as an excuse to bust folks for harmless activity that was once legal.

In New York City, taking photographs at subway stops is not illegal. Nor can it be, as it is public property, is open for the movement of people, and there'd be no compelling interest for such a policy.

Despite this, a 30-year-old man has been arrested for it anyway.

So much for the rule of law, huh?

I wonder if the cop who arrested him actually thought it was the law, or if he was just making it up as he was going along. If it was the latter, why? Was the officer afraid the camera might catch him doing something wrong?

If that's the case, it certainly doesn't reflect well on the cop's attitude.

This story is related to a much larger issue. Two times in the past 5 years, New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority has proposed such a ban - citing terrorism as an excuse. In 2007, the city even proposed strict limits on filming along public streets - using the same pretext.

City officials aren't shy about letting terrorists win, I guess. As far as I'm concerned, those who proposed these regulations are guilty of treason, and should be prosecuted as such.

This incident isn't the first time the treasoneers have led to someone being falsely arrested in the New York subway system. The city had to spend over $30,000 in legal fees after police cuffed and detained a tourist who took photographs at subway stops. Apparently, the city didn't learn its lesson from this.

Unbelievably, police are pressing on with the charges in the latest case, even though no law was broken.


Eek! Nerf!

Chalk up "Nerfophobia" as another strange fear harbored by America's rightist educrats.

At Northland High School in Columbus, Ohio, a 14-year-old student has been suspended for playing with a toy Nerf foam dart gun. He may face expulsion.

The school district's excuse for possibly expelling him is that a federal law mandates expulsion even for look-alike weapons.

Fine. But a Nerf gun isn't a look-alike. Nobody would mistake it for a real gun.

Does it look like a real gun to you?

The school district also says it's allowed to use discretion in deciding what the punishment shall be. Yet it doesn't use discretion.

I thought I was weird for being afraid of headless mannequins when I was 2 years old - yet the Columbus school system is run by adults who are afraid of Nerf! I almost feel sorry for them for having to live with such an irrational fear of foam toys.

On second thought, I don't.