Thursday, April 30, 2009

I get mail

I just received this gem (regarding my defiance of the much-maligned Allowed Cloud at NKU):

"' SOme people are still stuck in 1995' Yea, You."

Except I'm not one of those who still thinks the Republicans have any future.

If NKU wasn't still stuck in 1995, why did they still have a hold on my account the last time I tried to enroll there? Is it just so they can pad their enrollment numbers?

Idiots in Senate scuttle Obama foreclosure bill

In 2006, America rejoiced when the Democrats regained control of Congress. Because everybody knew they could trust the Democrats to keep their promises to help working Americans.

Except they haven't.

Today, the Senate defeated an important bill championed by President Obama that would have allowed you to fight foreclosures through the bankruptcy courts. The 51 to 45 vote against the bill involved 12 Democrats siding with the Republicans' Evil Empire and with big banks.

If all the Democrats do is vote with the Republicans, what was the point in spending all that money to regain a Senate majority?

Not like we expected that much from them anyway, after they failed to repeal the Republicans' fascist mid-decade bankruptcy law (which should be considered null and void, as it was passed by a rogue regime).


Richest county in America blasted for housing discrimination

Goochland County, Virginia, is the wealthiest county in America. This conservative, exurban bailiwick near Richmond has the nation's highest average income, based on recent tax data. Its average income is 13 times that of hurricane-ravaged St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana, the nation's poorest county.

Why is Goochland County becoming so much richer? Not only does it have some extremely opulent residents that skew the average upward. According to some locals, you're also required to be rich just to move in.

Goochland County reportedly does not allow new houses that cost less than $500,000. (Ooh, an Allowed Cloud!) Nor does it permit any new apartments. Probably the only poor people who live in the county are live-in maids, or the families of folks who lived there when it was a much poorer, more rural area. Even the latter group is being priced out of the county.

Why does the county have these restrictions? If the reports that the county has these regulations are true, it's because of official hostility to poor people. It's that simple. In all cases, when a city or county has a rule like this, that's the reason.

Under these rules (if the reports that the rules exist are correct), the poor are generally no longer allowed to live in Goochland County.

For the record, rules like this are illegal - but nobody ever does anything about it. Regulations that require a minimum home value are illegal largely because they discriminate based on economic status. Cities and counties are required to ensure that the poor may live within the community.

Goochland County isn't the only offender. Several years ago, a county near Atlanta wouldn't let Habitat for Humanity build housing, because the county had classist regulations mandating a minimum house size. And you'd be shocked at how many working-class cities all over America are run by right-wing regimes that try to drive out the very residents they're supposed to represent. It happens even in my town, as the city actively pays building owners to convert apartment buildings into single-family houses.

And it's just as illegal.

I was even priced out of my original hometown by that city's unlawful favoring of developments for the rich. The city failed to require new housing to be affordable.

Unfortunately, the federal government in the past 25 years has not been serious - at all - about pursuing complaints of classism in housing.

The classist disaster unfolding in Goochland County might be different though. The county has its defenders, to be sure. But more than one person has stated that the county does indeed have regulations specifying a minimum $500,000 house value.

And folks are furious.

Goochland County being named as the richest in America was attention that wasn't exactly helpful. Several observers have blasted the county's exclusivity - and have even threatened lawsuits over the home value rules.

Federal laws need to be strengthened and clarified regarding counties and cities that practice economic-based housing discrimination. The laws have to have teeth, and the injustice has to be remedied at all costs.


When Jump the Shark jumped the shark

TV Guide got greedy.

The old Jump the Shark website was a cultural phenomenon. It let folks submit all the moments when their favorite TV shows fell to shambles. It was an uproarious read! Jump the Shark was so lucrative that its owner sold it to TV Guide in 2006.

But the TV Guide people didn't care about what made Jump the Shark so special. The company that owned TV Guide was only interested in building its media empire.

It turns out though that TV Guide's eyes were bigger than its business sense. The operators of TV Guide mismanaged the magazine so spectacularly that recently it sold for only $1. Not just one copy - the entire magazine.

By that time, the publication had been retooled so much that it wasn't even the same TV Guide we remember. It had become a celebrity gossip rag.

Welp, earlier this year, the TV Guide geniuses did the same thing to Jump the Shark - which proves they hadn't learned a damn thing from the previous debacle. Now, if you try going to the Jump the Shark site, it redirects to TV Guide's gossip crap. There's no sign of Jump the Shark anywhere.

This shows that when TV Guide purchased Jump the Shark, all TV Guide cared about was buying the mouse clicks of folks looking for the Jump the Shark site - not about Jump the Shark itself. To add insult to injury, TV Guide began calling some of its boring National Enquirer-like gossip tidbits "shark bites" - even though they have nothing to do with Jump the Shark.

Worse, all those hilarious entries that were on the old Jump the Shark site are now gone. Gone into thin air. All the years that went into making that site a legend are wasted. All that work, wastage bastage!

Some have suggested that TV Guide's greed is even deeper than it appears. TV Guide wants you to think there's no such thing as bad TV (even though TV is worse now than ever) - because its business is based on TV. So it's been claimed that its purchase of Jump the Shark was actually intended to silence the ridicule of the hundreds of TV shows that had entries on that site.

The outrage over Jump the Shark's gutting is so intense that someone has opted to resurrect the original Jump the Shark concept on a new website - which bears the much edgier name Bone the Fish.

To quote Principal Skinner of 'The Simpsons': "And bone we will!"

I'm sure I can list quite a few examples of legendary television programs Boning the Fish. I bet you can too!

The new Bone the Fish site can be found at:


Cincinnati still one of the most polluted cities

Burning wood.

Have you noticed the past few years that the smell of burning wood is often inescapable if you have your windows open or if you step outside?

It's not as bad though as some of the other substances that fill our air in the Cincinnati region.

A new report by the American Lung Association says 60% of Americans now live in areas with dangerous ozone or particle pollution levels - pollution that causes conditions ranging from emphysema to heart attacks.

But Cincinnatians who think the smog is so thick they can barely see the stripes on the roads now know it's not their eyesight that's going bad: Cincinnati still ranks as one of the most polluted metropolitan areas in America - though it has been surpassed by several other areas, especially in California and Texas.

It was bad enough 20 years ago that I would've spent good money to avoid the symptoms (and I wasn't rich). Then again, I now know that my ailments were caused more by the strange pathogens at my high school than by the pollutants dealt with in this study. Still, air pollution is a serious concern in this area.

Will we see improvement? Not as long as suburban sprawl continues unchecked, and no efforts are made to build cars that pollute less. You can't say I wasn't farsighted in pinpointing these problems years ago.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Go west, LeftMaps!

If you were waiting with basted breath for the wingnut intelligentsia to crap themselves again - well, they do that every day.

But my latest LeftMaps offering only adds to their chagrin.

Cincinnati and Covington are big enough to be broken down into neighborhoods along officially defined lines. That LeftMaps did, by producing a map of West Covington - the seventh in this set of bicycling maps to be completed.

The Far Right hates every damn one of these maps.

But the latest map is extra, extra stinging for the Far Right! In a spirit of elitist fervor, the city of Covington tried in 2007 to rename West Covington to Botany Hills. But nowhere does my map call it that. That's because nobody calls it that. Probably not one person.

So if you need a good biking map of West Covington or certain other local communities, point your pooper here:

Another questionable presidential appointment

I think there's general agreement that Obama is the best President since Carter - but appointments like this make me doubt that he's ever going to top him.

Obama has now nominated Chuck Hurley to head the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Hurley is currently the CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

I have to seriously question anyone who has had recent major involvement in MADD. MADD has strayed so far from its original purpose as to be unrecognizable. MADD's own founder quit the organization because it began focusing less on drunk driving than on criminalizing drinking altogether. MADD has become a prohibitionist group.

MADD even opposes the designated driver campaign, claiming it encourages people who don't drive to drink. And it has long supported the national 21 drinking age - one of the biggest failures in modern American history.

MADD demonizes anyone who dares to question the national 21 policy. When a group of college presidents suggested reexamining the federally imposed drinking age, MADD demanded that parents boycott these schools by not sending their kids there.

Because Hurley has run MADD for several years, he's largely responsible for this continuing disconnect between MADD and effective public polices.

Hurley has also been a staunch proponent of red light cameras - which have been ineffective at making our roads safer. In fact, the cameras have actually increased traffic mishaps. The cameras are used primarily as revenue generators - for local governments and for the big businesses that operate the cameras. Indeed, camera manufacturers have bankrolled much of the movement towards red light cams.

How's that for corporatism?

Don't expect major improvement in Americans' lives unless the type of hackneyed thinking displayed by the likes of Chuck Hurley is eschewed, as it should have been years ago.

Oscar plays Halo ('Sesame Street' Wednesday)

A long-running household joke is the cat food commercial from around 1980 in which the pouch of cat food rips open, and a woman intones in a singsong voice, "Fresh!" Or maybe it was, "Special!"

Once again, I mention this ad, as I recall a family member replacing this intonation with, "Warthog!"

Warthogs are interesting. Not just the pig-like animal, but also the fictional battle vehicle found in the Halo series of video games. If you've ever played Halo, you've probably found a Warthog resting in the desert and have used it to aimlessly drive around in protest of falling to your death.

You know who else likes warthogs and Warthogs? Oscar the Grouch!

In this old 'Sesame Street' sketch, the ol' Osk extols the virtues of the word 'warthog':

'Warthog' doesn't have quite the same ring as 'ruin' or 'mayhem', but if it's good enough for my friend Oscar, it's good enough for me.

When Oscar plays Halo, finding a Warthog is probably the highlight of every game! For the rest of the day, he probably tells everyone, "I picked up a deadly Warthog!" Then he laughs about what a beautiful word it is!


Wingnuts melt down over Specter switch

Losing support often brings out the worst in the Republican Right.

They cannot handle it.

You might feel reluctant to poke fun at them - until you consider the way they acted back when they used to actually win elections. The dickheads reap what they sow.

Who's laughing now?

Losing brings out not just the Republican Right's lack of sportsmanship, but also its bigotry and irrationality.

Here's what one Republican commenter said on a right-wing blog regarding Arlen Specter's party switch:

"I say good riddance!! This guy has always been a Jew in a cowboy hat. The liberal Jew (meaning, no longer believes in God) comes through all the way yet he wears this silly all American 'face' that fakes, humility, fakes to be just a commoner, and fakes that he is a Senator because he is trying to preserve our liberty. GOOD BYE YOU TRAITOR!!!! AT LEAST BE AN ORTHODOX JEW WITH PRINCIPLES!"

Those are that commenter's words (including the part in parentheses), not mine.

Worse, they posted that under an entry that had nothing whatsoever to do with Specter. They have such a complete lack of self-control over losing political support that they can't even take enough care to see if they're posting under the right entry!

Well, folks, you've just seen the future of what was America's ruling party for most of the past 28 years. Talk about throwing this all away.

Not like this kind of irrationality is completely new for them. In 2006, the old Conservative Fool Of The Day blog noted how inane the rightist brain trust was getting when they sensed looming electoral losses. This blog referred to a right-wing Internet commenter who complained:

"What's funny is DemoRATS support and encourage Men fucking each other in the asshole.

"But heaven forbid a conservative fuck his wife with a hard dick

"DemoRATS are just little penis envy losers"

One wonders how the wingnuts manage to keep posting online. You'd think all the spittle would have shorted out their computers by now.

Bachmann is the kook who keeps on giving!

It bodes ill for the party of background noise when this is one of their "leaders."

Right-wing congresswoman Michele Bachmann was already named Conservative Fool Of The Day this morn for blaming swine flu on Obama and Carter.

Now she's just made a very similar gaffe.

In a harangue about a certain tariff law of decades ago, Bachmann said the "Hoot-Smalley Act" was the fault of President Franklin Roosevelt.

Bachmann, you idiot, it was called the Smoot-Hawley Act. And it was signed into law not by Roosevelt, but by Herbert Hoover, Roosevelt's predecessor.

The Conservative Fool Of The Day is...Michele Bachmann!

If you were on the edge of your seat waiting for some right-wing brainiac to blame Obama for the swine flu outbreak, you can now hoist yourself back onto your easy chair.

And you can thank right-wing Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minnesota) for saving you from slipping off your seat and conking your head on your monitor.

Bachmann was one of the first Conservative Fool Of The Day entries on the old blog - due to her bizarre public behavior. Like Stacey Campfield, Bachmann hasn't gotten any saner in the years since.

Now, in reference to the 1976 swine flu outbreak, Bachmann said, "I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out then under another Democrat President, Jimmy Carter. And I'm not blaming this on President Obama. I just think it's an interesting coincidence."

One problem with that, Michele: Carter wasn't President yet in 1976. That fell under the period of Gerald Ford, a Republican.

I'm sure the '76 flu wasn't Ford's fault either. There's a very famous photo out there of Ford getting a flu shot (with a goofy grin on his face), so at least he did his part to contain the misery. But Michele Bachmann's claim of Carter having secret retroactive infection powers is unfounded.

I find it interesting, Michele, that I almost never got sick until I was in grade school, when Reagan took office. And that I stopped getting sick right when Clinton took office. I didn't have a common cold again until the younger Bush seized power.

Isn't that an interesting coinky-dink, Michele?

Isn't it odd, Michele, that in every new article about common colds from the Reagan era into the younger Bush years, the average number of colds per year seemed to inch higher and higher?

Going to blame Obama for that too?

There's plenty of evidence proving that Republican ineptness led to an increase in colds and flu from the '80s onward. But since conservaworld is a parallel universe where up is down, war is peace, and 2 plus 2 is 5, you can always count on the likes of Michele Bachmann to keep repeating the exact opposite - as if repeating it makes it true.

One of the most underreported stories in America in recent years is the rise of common illnesses that began in the '80s. Search high and low, and you won't find one word about it. Maybe the media should spend more time investigating this, and less time probing the sex lives of political opponents.

Ignoring this phenomenon is dangerous.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

News site says we "should be proud of waterboarding"

Words fail me.

When the Cincinnati Post ceased its print paper at the close of 2007, it wasn't because the area couldn't support 2 dailies. I'm convinced it's because of the type of wacky proclamations that continue to plague the Kentucky Post, which continues in Internet-only form.

Like today, it has a headline blaring, "Americans should be proud of waterboarding."

It's a link to a bizarre right-wing op-ed by think tank kook Deroy Murdock that rants against "liberals" and ignores the fact that waterboarding is an unreliable and illegal interrogation technique. The illegality of waterboarding is so established that this practice was tried as a war crime when Japanese troops used it during World War II. Even Reagan's Justice Department prosecuted a Texas sheriff who used it.

How do we know Murdock's article strains reliability? Murdock once told Chris Matthews that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11 (a belief that was debunked years ago), and he has claimed climate change is a hoax.

The Kentucky Post and Deroy Murdock are part of the Scripps Howard syndicate. Scripps Howard News Service does have some columnists who are generally accurate and fair - but when it turns right, it REALLY turns right.

Trust me: Scripps Howard was Bushist before Bushist was "cool." I remember reading the Post as a teenager and being perturbed that it was actually considered the area's "liberal" paper. Later, the Post opposed a much-needed minimum wage increase that 90% of the American public supported. Later still, the Post blamed a minimum wage increase for an unemployment spike - even though the wage increase hadn't taken effect yet. (That piece was not even labeled as an editorial.)

That's the kind of publication that would declare we "should be proud of waterboarding."

Something tells me the Kentucky Post isn't going to remain viable even as an Internet-only paper. Right-wing bias was as much of a bust for the newspaper biz as the rise of the Internet was. And this proves it.

White supremacists adopt Mall Road

Meet Mall Road in Florence, Kentucky. (Those in the know call it KY 3157.)

I almost never visit Florence Mall, so I was unaware of what was looming in plain sight on Mall Road. It turns out that over a year ago, part of the road was adopted by the National Alliance as part of Kentucky's Adopt-a-Highway program.

What is the National Alliance? Let there be no doubt about it: The National Alliance is a white supremacist, neo-Nazi organization.

It's unclear if anything can be done about the shame of the National Alliance getting its name on a sign on a major highway in Florence. The Supreme Court ruled that the morons of the Ku Klux Klan could participate in Missouri's Adopt-a-Highway program, so this case wouldn't be much different.

The Adopt-a-Highway sign on Mall Road mourns the death of National Alliance founder William Pierce - a man whose extremism never relented. Even on his deathbed, Pierce claimed that Jews controlled the media and that no honest coverage had ever been done about him.

Now that Boone County has become the epicenter of local right-wing politics, let them deal with this embarrassment. We in Campbell County were force-fed this bullshit long enough. Now it's another county's turn.

Boone County's Republican officials seem proud of being movement conservatives. The fact that they sponsored a Glenn Beck-themed event attracts extremists like the National Alliance. The GOP reaps what it sows.


Senate gains Democratic member!

When I saw this headline, I thought it had to be mistaken. But here it comes....

Longtime Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania has just announced that he's switched parties to become a Democrat. This will give the Democrats the magic number of 60 senators - the number they need to avoid Republican filibusters.

Specter has served in the Senate since 1981. Specter, 79, is the third-youngest senator. (Just joking about him being the third-youngest senator.)

This would be much bigger news if the 2 major parties were still that much different from each other - but still I have to report it.

Don't expect Arlen Specter to be a 'Pail populist just because he switched parties. Even so, the Republicans have become too conservative even for him. He was trailing by an astounding margin in a hypothetical GOP primary match-up against right-wing former Rep. Pat Toomey (known for his Club for Greed involvement).

Observers say that you know a party is near the end of its shelf life when it's taken over by the most extreme elements. Specter being driven out of the GOP for not being conservative enough is more evidence that the Republican era is over.


Monday, April 27, 2009

Operation Contours: 100% complete!

It's comple-le-le-le-lete!

Remember Operation Contours? Now I've completed this project, and to my delight, it took only 3 weeks!

Operation Contours is part of my LeftMaps gig, which is really like a satellite operation of this blog. LeftMaps is a celebration of left-wing populism. It's a set of bicycling maps I've made for Cincinnati area neighborhoods.

And I'm making more! Although progress has been slow for Dayton, Kentucky, because of the town's dimensions, the neighborhood of West Covington will likely be done soon.

All of this chagrins the Far Right sorely, because they think the only vehicles that should be allowed on public roadways are their hulkers that get only 2 miles a gallon.

Incidentally, I don't know how fast progress is going to be on LeftMaps or this blog this summer. Daylight Wasting Time has cost me about 3 days of work on this blog this month - delays that are reminiscent of those that resulted from fighting the media's obsession with John Edwards's affair.

So if you want to peep LeftMaps celebrating this blog's bloggy goodness, point your pooper here:

Lieberman whimpers and cries

And to think I actually went to a rally to make sure this guy's veep votes got counted. Why oh why? (Because he was running against Darth Cheney.)

Now Joe Lieberman is accusing President Obama of helping America's enemies by daring to release the Bush-era torture memos. He said this act "just helps our enemies."

Uh, Joe? 2005 called. It wants its reflexive right-wing grievances back.

Actually, most of the information in these memos had already been released by the Bush regime itself. Does that mean Bush was "helping our enemies"?

I'm sure Lieberman knows this information was already released, but just doesn't care, because making political hay is more important to him.


Wingnuts report stations to FCC for not covering Tea Parties more favorably

You can't make this stuff up, people.

The FCC ruled in 1969 that TV and radio stations can't intentionally distort news coverage. That's because the airwaves are a public trust, and stations have to operate in the public interest.

But distort news they do. Anyone familiar with talk radio or Fox News has seen the media's right-wing bias up close and personal.

Believe it or not, however, conservatives are now griping to the FCC because they feel the media isn't right-wing enough. They've used their net of hate blogs to amass an unspecified number of formal FCC complaints against CNN and MSNBC, as they claim these networks' coverage of the Tea Parties hasn't been favorable enough.

They seriously think the media's coverage of the Tea Parties is too unfavorable? Uh, hello??? The Cincinnati Tea Party this month didn't just receive favorable coverage. The event was sponsored outright by powerful WKRC radio.

How's that for distorting the news?

There's been almost no coverage at all of protests by opponents of the Tea Parties.

Gee, no right-wing bias there, huh? (That's sarcasm!)

Most of the people who claim the media is biased against the Tea Parties are media people themselves - which kind of discredits their own claim, doesn't it?

GOP stripped flu funds from stimulus

Yet another story from the halls of Republicans' bad decision-making.

Earlier this year, the House included pandemic preparedness funding in the stimulus bill. But the Republicans later stripped a vast majority of these funds from the bill.

This forced health authorities to put off their chance to get pandemic funding.

The effort to strip pandemic funds seems to be the work of Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). Usually, Collins is portrayed as a rare voice of GOP moderation, but - like the right-wing ideologues who dominate the party today - she brags on her own website of stripping the funds.

If Collins wants to look like a fool using her own site, that's her business. But when she and her right-wing colleagues pull funding from an essential health program just because they can, that affects all of us.


Rove's flu

Fact: pandemics happen because of poor planning and bad policy.

Another fact: I was as up in arms about other outbreaks of the past 20 years as I am about the swine flu epidemic. We were in the heart of the rightist experiment, so I'm used to it. My immune system is probably steeled in every pathogen known to exist.

The rest of America though doesn't have this immunity - a fact that makes longtime GOP thug Karl Rove look even stupider than ever.

In February, Rove wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal in which he heaped ridicule upon government spending for flu preparedness. Rove complained about stimulus funds being spent on "pandemic flu preparations."

Uh, Karl?

If only the money was spent on this type of stuff years ago - instead of squandered on nonsense.

I live in an area where local governments spent untold dollars prosecuting a museum for "dirty" art and tapping phones for "communist" activity - but couldn't track the flu worth a damn. Local governments had money to give to big corporations that ended up moving all their jobs out of town anyway - but it failed to make sure we had clean drinking water.

And we wonder why things fall apart when conservatives take power.

The Bush regime could spend millions of taxpayer dollars on bank bailouts and on using the Patriot Act to track every political opponent who cheats on their spouse - but it was reluctant to spare that much to protect the country from a flu pandemic. (Bush eventually requested some money for flu preparedness, but only after ignoring the threat for years.)

Karl Rove's complaint about flu spending reminds me of Bobby Jindal whining about spending money to monitor volcanoes, just before one of the biggest volcanoes in America erupted. Or congressional Republicans' claims in the '90s that the Taliban was no threat.

Another website suggests renaming this strain of swine flu to Karl's flu. I disagree, because people might think it has something to do with Karl Marx or Karl Malone. I think we should call it Rove's flu.

We also have to look at other factors that have led to Rove's flu. There's a consensus that this outbreak started at a corporate factory farm - another example of the ravages of factory farming, which have already put small farmers out of business.

There's also signs that airlines' refusal to use clean air filters and properly clean aircraft contributed. (Improper airplane cleaning is also believed to be a major contributor to the nation's bedbug epidemic. Of course, the Bush regime sat on its hands through that too, and even gave a bailout to airlines.)

If the government won't spend money on fighting real threats like pandemics and volcanoes, why does it exist? In conservaworld, the government's role is to regulate people's sex lives and censor "communist" comic books. It's never to rein in big corporations or to keep us safe from flu epidemics.


Fox analyst says losing Miss USA contestant should sue

Has America become the land where you can just sue every time you lose at any endeavor?

For those who follow conservative ideology, apparently so.

Like Bush suing to have the 2000 election awarded to him, Fox News legal analyst Mercedes Colwin says Carrie Prejean should sue the Miss USA pageant because she lost.

Colwin (the biggest sore loser in all of this) said of Prejean, "If she really feels some tremendous stress as a result of losing ... she can articulate a viable claim for monetary compensation for psychic injury."

So Fox News says Prejean should sue because she lost and had her feelings hurt by this? This reminds me of the episode of 'The Simpsons' in which Lisa wrote a letter to President Clinton to get him to overturn the result of a music contest at a state fair that she lost.

Colwin claims Prejean was discriminated against because of her conservative political and religious views.

Bull. And shit.

This is another story full of manufactured outrage by the wingnutosphere. Carrie Prejean wasn't discriminated against. End of story. But she's not taking her defeat much more gracefully than the Fox analyst is. She said that if she had been given any other question to answer, "I know I would have won."

For what it's worth, here's a little tidbit that you can draw your own conclusions from. Prejean attends San Diego Christian College, a right-wing institution founded for the purpose of promoting creationism. One of its founders was longtime right-wing agitator Tim LaHaye, who has ties to Washington Times founder and convicted tax cheat Sun Myung Moon.

The obvious conclusion is that Prejean is yet another movement conservative wriggling her way into the national conscience with the help of the rightist noise machine. But this carries with it a lot of suspicion about what went on here.

I have to ask myself whether right-wing leaders actually encouraged Carrie Prejean to help manufacture this story by giving a conservative answer, so that the freeposphere would cry that the contest was rigged if she lost - thus making conservatives appear to be victims when they're not. I'm not absolutely certain that's what happened, but I'd bet that it was, because it has the telltale signs. And stuff like this has happened before.

The Far Right brain trust has had this racket going on for years. They agitate (even hire) right-wing students to whip up controversies at their schools so they can play the victim. So why would they not similarly stir up a contestant in a Miss USA pageant?

I'm only speculating - but this racket has enough of a history that this public speculation is fair.

As for Mercedes Colwin's lawsuit suggestion, any lawyer who files this case ought to be disbarred immediately. Courts have more important things to do than hear the complaints of everyone who loses a Miss USA pageant.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

7-year-old suicide victim took psychiatric drugs

The human mind is like a computer with feelings.

BASIC programmers know of the POKE command. One misstep with a POKE, and that could be the end of your machine.

POKE commands literally change a computer's memory. Psychiatric drugs do the same to a person's brain.

In fact, psychiatric drugs are worse. Experienced programmers know what POKE commands are safe to use, and which memory cells can be reset. By contrast, the cells of a human brain cannot be reset to what they were before the drugging.

This month, a 7-year-old boy in Florida committed suicide by hanging. It turns out that only weeks before this tragedy, he had been prescribed a powerful psychiatric drug - one that had been linked by the FDA to suicide in children.

In total, he had been prescribed 4 different psychiatric drugs. Three of them (Lexapro, Zyprexa, and Symbyax) weren't even approved for children - yet they are commonly prescribed to children anyway. The other drug he took was the ADHD medication Vyvanse.

Once he had this cocktail in his system, he had no chance. None. That is, unless he stopped taking these drugs. Even then, it would have taken years to recover, and parts of his mind would have been permanently lost. But he died before he was taken off the drugs.

While the boy wasn't taking the drugs, he got good grades. Problems appeared only while the druggings were taking place.

This sad story follows the 2005 passage of a state law designed to curb the use of psychiatric drugs in foster children. This law followed the discovery that 1 in 4 foster kids in Florida were being drugged with dangerous psychotropic toxins. Many feel that the law is being ignored outright - mostly by judges who order the kids drugged, against the wishes of adults who care for them.

Will this story lead to a movement against druggings? Unfortunately, that seems doubtful. Stories like this are usually swept under the rug as quickly as they appear. I'm afraid this won't be the last story like this before people finally take notice.


When persons aren't persons - but corporations are

Set aside for a moment what prompted this case (as hard as this may be).

The United States is supposed to be a nation of laws. As long as a law is constitutional and doesn't violate any inalienable precepts, that is the law we must follow. The government must follow it as well.

Even if a Guantanamo Bay detainee claims the law is being violated, you have to weigh this claim according to what the law says. A detainee could be accused of a million terrorist attacks - but the government still has to follow the law. Emotion cannot be a bar against applying a law that was duly enacted.

Nor can some activist ruling. Yet it happens anyway.

An appeals court for the Washington, D.C., circuit declared on Friday that Gitmo detainees aren't actually "persons" - so they can't seek protection of a law that covers "persons."

I know we're talking about terrorist suspects in this case, but we all have to be worried because it's such a slippery slope. How much of a slippery slope? Imagine what Clyde Street (one of the steepest streets in Cincinnati) would be like if coated with Oil of Olay. That's how steep and slick this slippery slope is.

Some laws about "persons" are designed to apply specifically to those who are being detained. So if you say detainees aren't "persons", these laws are gutted.

This ruling has serious implications for concepts like habeas corpus. American citizens who aren't even accused of any crimes are unlawfully detained without fair court hearings on a daily basis. Are they not "persons"? What about their habeas corpus?

Think this doesn't happen? I spent last year engaging in roadside protests against an abusive teen confinement facility near Cincinnati. Are the kids who are held there not "persons"?

Eric Holder has been nearly as inept as the Bush regime in handling Gitmo cases. I guess he's competing with Arne Duncan and Robert Gates in the contest to see who Obama should fire first.

Maddeningly, while you might be considered not a "person" if you are detained for a crime you may be innocent of, corporations are considered "persons." Corporations are given rights that are supposed to be reserved only for living beings. In practice, corporations have more rights than people do.


Government to unleash killer wasps

Whose not-so-brilliant idea is this?

When I read about this, I knew it had to be the work of some Bush holdover who doesn't understand science. For one thing, it takes a Republican to come up with such a silly idea. For another, this is a bit like the government's plan to engineer a corn famine that surfaced right after the elder Bush left office (which was devised by a Bush crony).

Also like the corn proposal, this idea is being presented as necessary and is largely treated by the media as if it is no big deal. (Incidentally, there has been a corn shortfall, which contributed to last year's stagflation. So it was right on cue!)

Now the government plans to release killer wasps on the Mexican border. The stated purpose of the wasps is to kill weeds that shield drug smugglers and illegal immigrants sneaking into the country.

Really??? They need wasps for this???

If some poor farmer in Texas gets stung by a swarm of killer wasps released by the government, what are people going to say then?

Bush's Department of Homeland Stupidity wanted to use a herbicide to kill the weeds, but Mexican officials raised such an uproar that the Obama administration put the brakes on that potentially dangerous plan.

The same needs to be done with this proposal.


Government seizes land for fence

Bushists claim to be such strong champions of property rights that the naive among us would think they'd be dripping sweat from the billowy flesh inside their heads to stop unfair land grabs like this.

But what the Bush cult says doesn't always jibe with what it does. This story proves the Bush regime's kleptocracy more plainly than perhaps any other.

One of Bush's later acts was his launching of the hated border fence. Bush's Department of Homeland Suckyurity claimed this fence would halt illegal immigration from Mexico, but there was a consensus among observers that it would be ineffective. Despite the chest-pounding nationalism of the fence's supporters, much of the steel for it was made in China. And the fence - despite costing billions of dollars - was expected to last no longer than about 25 years anyway.

The fence was opposed by almost everyone in the border city of Brownsville, Texas. That's where a local woman who owned property where the fence would go fought the new structure.

Did Bush's DHS care that most people in Brownsville opposed the fence? Of course not. So it plowed ahead with the fence.

One wonders what the whole point was in dividing the country into states, counties, and cities, if the federal government can just totally ignore the locals' wishes.

As for the woman who owned the property near Brownsville, the government didn't even consult with her or other small landowners before deciding to take their land to build the unneeded fence. But Bush's DHS eventually tried offering her only $13,500 for over a quarter-acre.

If you know anyone who has a quarter-acre of land, try offering them only $13,500 for it. You'll be laughed right off their land.

The Obama administration ought to just cancel this project. I say leave it unfinished. And if the finished portion is useful for nothing else, it'll at least be a stark monument to Bush's waste and incompetence. But the new administration has had to prioritize by cleaning up other Bush messes first.

So construction of the fence trudges on. And now a Texas judge has ruled against the property owner and has given the federal government her land. It's unclear on what legal basis.

Let me reiterate: The government needs to cancel what remains of this project - now.


Saturday, April 25, 2009

School buys prison jumpsuits to defend "conservative values"

How hypocritical is Gonzales High School, a public school in Gonzales, Texas?

I heard vague rumblings about this story last year, but only now is it moving to the frontburner (perhaps because of increasing lawsuit warnings).

To punish students who violate the school's unconstitutional uniform policy, the school has purchased an untold quantity of blue prison jumpsuits - which violators will be required to wear.

Press reports say the jumpsuits were instituted as "a way to keep the district's conservative values intact."

So now schools are arbiters of politics too? Like we didn't know that already.

This story proves school officials lie when they say the dress code is to reduce distractions. If anything would be distracting, it would be the sad spectacle of the jumpsuits. The entire purpose of the policy is to humiliate.

A couple years ago, I noticed a Catholic school in my area had a similar policy in its handbook to humiliate students, and I seriously considered reporting school officials to police for child abuse. But many local officials think children are property, not people, so it wouldn't have done any good. (This is also a main reason local authorities haven't been serious about investigating molestation cases.)

When the jumpsuit policy in Gonzales was enacted, some students threatened to violate the dress code just so they'd have to wear the jumpsuits - thus making the policy backfire on the school.

On the other hand, why would prison jumpsuits seem unsuitable for schools, considering our schools today are nothing short of prisons? A lot of schools beat you if you talk at lunch, so what's the diff?


Big cable firms write bill to outlaw competitors

Exorbitant costs for phone, Internet, and cable TV service had long plagued the city of Wilson, North Carolina.

In northern Kentucky, our public officials wouldn't have done shit to remedy it. Once about 20 years ago, local cable regulators accepted free cable instead of clamping down on bad service. The corruption was endless. (Then they claimed the free cable was so they could monitor the cable system for "dirty" movies.)

But in Wilson, city leaders acted to make a difference: They started a new municipally owned service offering Internet, phone, and cable - to compete against the high costs charged by large providers. And if you use the city-owned service, it's much cheaper and faster than using the big companies. The city didn't even have to raise taxes.

But now, corporate overlords are crying to their cronies in the North Carolina legislature to quash this competition.

Time Warner Cable and Embarq have gotten legislators to introduce bills to outlaw community-owned broadband providers. Instead of improving their service to remain competitive, they want the government to crack down on their competition.

Make no mistake about it: These bills are designed to protect cable, phone, and Internet monopolies. It's corporatism at its worst.

Strangling competition is the corporate greed merchants' idea of "free market" - one of few common phrases in the English language that defies its own meaning. The "free market" is "free" until Big Business realizes it can't compete by offering shoddy service, so it demands government intervention to prop it up. Besides, isn't it the government that awards monopolies to big corporations in the first place?

This is little different from the "regulation for thee, not for me" philosophy that guides modern conservatism.


Another senseless death caused by school harassment

Thirty years ago, if a bully harassed a schoolmate, there's a good chance the victim would punch their lights out. You didn't hear much about serial harassment then, because the response to the first incident often kept it from becoming serial.

Something changed along the way that discouraged fighting back. Most likely, it's because schools blame the victims. Look at a harasser cockeyed, and you can find yourself in more trouble than you ever thought possible.

Now an 11-year-old boy in DeKalb County, Georgia, has become the latest victim to commit suicide, after his school refused to act against the harassers.

How many more suicides do there have to be before schools take harassment seriously?


Friday, April 24, 2009

Another harassing call the Nazis will deny

Since we're on the topic of utilities' incompetence, this would be a good time for this entry.

Because yesterday existed, it was another day on which a harassing phone call was received. Once again, I recorded it, so you can "enjoy" it:

Incidentally, the time on the answering machine is off by an hour, because I didn't bother to adjust it for Daylight Wasting Time until today when the power went out.

I traced this call to a number with a 513 area code, which is in the Ohio portion of the Cincinnati area.

The Far Right will deny this call ever took place, of course, as they have since 1985. And the phone company and the local police have never been interested in doing anything about it, so we must.

Power goes out (again)

Because this is a day ending in 'y', the power went out here yet again. I wasn't home when it happened, but I figure that it was around 11 AM.

What's the excuse this time, Duke Energy? There was hardly a cloud in the sky at 11 AM, let alone any storms.

Local government needs to just either take over Duke or allow someone to compete with it. Or it's part of the problem. And it's under strict orders to gag on piss.

Meanwhile, expect Duke to raise power bills yet again. Every time the power goes out, it likes to use that as an excuse to raise the rates.

The only gum you'll ever need (Bubble Gum Weekend)

I'm so pleased to find this ad that I couldn't wait any longer to post it!

I found this on YouPube earlier this week, and it's what reminded me of the missing Johnny Bench medallion that I've sent you on a sleuthing mission to find.

The Reds catcher was hired by Fifth Third Bank as its pitchman in 1973. Who can forget those '70s ads with Bench, which ended with the jingle singers singing, "The only bank you'll ever need"?

That wasn't the only product endorsement for Johnny Bench. In 1979, he appeared in a commersh for Bubble Fudge - a chocolate flavored bubble gum put out by the Bazooka people.

I can't believe there's a bubble gum that was sold in 1979 that I don't remember. But I never knew this gum or the ad existed until I found the ad a few days ago.

That may be for the better. Folks who actually remember this brand describe it as wretched. One website calls it "absolutely the worst gum in the history of gum."

But since it appears to be a defunct product, here's the hilarious commercial that features Johnny Bench and his nephew bubbling:

Actually, Bench's bubbling skills in this ad are so disastrous that the gum appears to be marketed as bubble gum for people who don't know how to bubble.

Ironically, I once wrote a parody article for a computer bulletin board system in which Johnny Bench despised bubble gum because he was afraid it would get caught in his catcher's mask. But this ad shows why he seemed to be one of few ballplayers at the time who never bubbled during games.

Cops arrest people they admit are innocent

A police commander in Chambers County, Alabama, saith:

"I would like to emphasize that although most individuals arrested as part of this investigation are believed to be involved with the manufacture of methamphetamine, not all are."

Then why were the people who aren't involved with it arrested?

Is the War on Drugs so out of control now that people are arrested even when police know they're innocent? (Yes.)

What were they arrested for? Not for meth, but for (here we go again) buying too much cold medicine.

Uh, weren't the new laws against cold and sinus medicine supposed to target meth? For several years, the official bullshit line has been that nobody would possibly buy more than one box of the stuff every 6 months unless they were using it to cook meth. That's a lie, because now it turns out that some people arrested under this law are indeed innocent of meth involvement.


But I'd take issue with the statement quoted above. Not only is it certainly true that some of the people who were arrested had no methamphetamine involvement. It's probably also true that almost all of them had no such involvement. There were about 70 arrest warrants, and Chambers County isn't even big enough to have a market for that many meth labs. In fact, only 4 meth labs were found out of all the dozens of arrests.

This story would be almost unbelievable except that the drug war has long taken Americans down this fascist road. With the War on Drugs, everyone is considered guilty even when known to be innocent.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Yahoo! puts GeoCities out of its misery

A saga that's happened with more than a few free webpage hosting services over the years has now seen another repeat...repeat...repeat.

The story goes like this: The service starts out highly user-friendly with a lot of useful features, and quickly builds a durable customer base. But within a few years, the service gets taken over by some large corporation, which promptly mismanages it, forcing it to shut down.

It happened before when Xoom became the much-ridiculed NBCi. And now Yahoo! has similarly destroyed GeoCities - only this process has taken an entire agonizing decade.

Even before the takeover by Yahoo!, GeoCities was known for yanking websites on demand if someone complained about them (earning it the nickname Geostapo). But websites that weren't pulled at least remained usable.

Little by little, however, Yahoo! erased any advantage GeoCities might have had over other services. Eventually, Yahoo! added that aggravating sidebar to all GeoCities pages. One word describes that move: dumb. But few seemed to notice, because by that time, Yahoo! had already driven off most of the GeoCities customer base.

Now that Yahoo! has succeeded in reducing GeoCities to a speck of its former self, it was announced today that Yahoo! will be closing GeoCities altogether by the end of the year.

Maybe the real surprise in this story is that Yahoo! isn't going out of business along with GeoCities. Yahoo! has been much less widely heard from since it was revealed that it turned in journalists to the Chinese government, which meted out ruinous prison terms.

The demise of GeoCities also proves my point that the U.S. government never should have approved the takeover of GeoCities by Yahoo!

There's still money to be made in free website hosting - if the service is run by someone who runs it competently, unlike Yahoo! If this wasn't so, such services wouldn't have lasted as long as they have. Could we see GeoCities brung back from the grave by someone other than Yahoo!? One can hope so - as long as it's run properly.

But there's a lot of things that could still be in business but no longer are. (Isn't that right, Burger Chef?) So don't get your hopes up.


Wingnuts think moon made of light-generating Muenster cheese

A 2006 right-wing meltdown was largely swept under the rug, but lately it's resurfaced to bite America on the ass.

Three years ago, Bill Nye - who hosted the Emmy-winning educational show 'Bill Nye The Science Guy' - appeared in Waco, Texas, to give a talk on topics like energy consumption and planetary exploration.

When Nye correctly stated that the moon does not generate its own light, a woman in the audience jumped up and declared, "We believe in a God!" She then stormed out of the event with her kids.

The wingnut who walked out of Bill Nye's talk actually thought the moon created its own light, instead of reflecting light from the sun!

Sadly, the woman was not alone in her skepticism of basic science. Several other folks stormed out of the audience too.

It's a good thing Nye didn't bring up that "2 plus 2 is 4" thing!

None of this would be an issue now except that the rightist intelligentsia's anti-people scientific denial has consequences. Their political leaders reflect their views. They put Bush in office, so the Bush regime reflected their disbelief in science.

For probably the first time in the country's history, the United States had an administration in which a significant number of officials actually believed the moon produced its own light!

Even with Bush out of power, this continues to affect the world's view of the United States, impede scientific progress, and cost America important scientific investments.

I'm not saying people aren't entitled to their beliefs. But when someone stubbornly thinks something that can be scientifically disproven, and this costs our country its prestige and scientific advancement, they can expect to be called on their views.


School officials may face jail for requiring uniforms

This blog has been criticized for focusing too much on its opposition to school uniforms. But since nobody else these days has the gumption to speak out, we must. Our children's future is at stake, and groupthink must be fought at a young age. Otherwise, our young people will grow up to become easily exploited and manipulated.

And that's how societies end.

The rights listed in the Bill of Rights are natural rights, and we are all expected to have the courage to make sure these rights are recognized. These rights are inalienable: They cannot even be voted away by 100% of voters.

But this science is lost on right-wing legislators in Rhode Island, who have reportedly voted to gut longstanding laws that prohibited public schools in that state from mandating uniforms.

Ravaging these laws doesn't change the fact that a series of statements by Rhode Island education officials prohibit public schools from even having dress codes unless a prohibited item poses a clear danger. These rulings declared dress codes to be generally unconstitutional.

Nonetheless, the Woonsocket school system doesn't care what these rulings say. School district officials have been on a crusade for quite some time to implement uniforms. That's all they talk about.

But now nationally known attorney Gary Peter Klahr says that if the Woonsocket school system requires uniforms, it "will be sued." He suggests that if Woonsocket has a uniform policy at all, it should contain an opt-out provision, like some other American communities have.

He says that if there's not at least an opt-out, then school board members may go to jail for violating civil rights laws.

See ya behind bars, school bored. School board members shouldn't be able to expect to violate laws in plain sight and not pay a penalty for it. Or are the laws just "damn pieces of paper" like Bush said?


Court rules in favor of dissidents

The days when Bush's policing of thoughts flourished with almost no limits may have drawn to a close even in Texas.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled yesterday that 2 antiwar activists should not have been arrested just for pitching tents near Bush's luxurious ranch. However, this ruling was an unnervingly close 5 to 4, which calls into question the 4 judges who would have ruled against the protesters.

The arrests came during Cindy Sheehan's mid-decade antiwar campaign and were prompted by authorities' desire to shelter Bush from his feelings being hurt.

To suppress the antiwar activists, McLennan County had passed a clearly unconstitutional ordinance banning roadside camping. But these 2 protesters were arrested not under this law but under a state law against obstructing highways. However, all witnesses agreed that they weren't obstructing the road.

The fact that they were charged under a law they clearly weren't violating conjures images of Rosco P. Coltrane hassling the Dukes, doesn't it?


Man arrested for criticizing cops in e-mail to paper

This is so incredibly stupid that I almost had to do a double-take when I saw this.

A Louisiana man has been arrested because he dared to criticize the police chief of a nearby town in an e-mail to a newspaper. The charge? "Criminal defamation."

The statute under which he was charged actually covers some acts that wouldn't be considered defamatory by any usual definition. Most would define defamation as including only false information. This law doesn't specify that the information has to be false - so its constitutionality is highly questionable right there.

The very fact that the man was arrested for this means that if he didn't have grounds to criticize the police before, he sure does now. It's kind of like how the bad "reviews" for 'The Fight That Never Ends' proved the book was right about school bullies still dwelling on stuff when they were over 30.

This incident also smacks of the same tyranny that guided the NKU "trespassing" arrest that resulted from The Last Word disagreeing with university graybeards.

Now the police department in the Louisiana story is the target of a federal lawsuit.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Classism fuels tantrum against public housing

I'll never understand the infantile meanness that fuels grownup crybabies and right-wing bullies like those discussed in this story.

Cincinnati's housing authority recently acquired 8 apartments. But the Cincinnati Enquirer reports, "Families on public assistance will be moving-in, and that isn't sitting well with the neighbors." The apartments are in an otherwise rich neighborhood.

One strong argument for spreading public housing for the poor into relatively affluent areas is that it keeps public housing from being confined to just a few areas where economic improvements are blunted. The rich shouldn't receive all the amenities while the poor get none - especially because the poor are paying for it too.

But this story is less about well-to-do neighbors not sharing than about them not liking the poor at all.

One affluent Cincinnatian lamented, "So I'm paying for all these people shacking up, having all these babies, getting Section 8 and everything free. I'm damn angry."

As if the rich don't shack up and have babies too? There have been countless instances throughout history of members of royal families or entertainment celebrities having children out of wedlock. But when they do it, it's considered "art", because they have money, and public housing residents don't.

And if they're worried about the poor getting "everything free", how come economic improvements are almost never in poor areas?

If the statement by the wealthy Cincinnati resident isn't baldly classist, what is? It's an inane raving of someone who judges people because they are of a lower income group.

Unfortunately, this alarmism over having poor neighbors is harbored by some other folks in that neighborhood too. And believe me, the housing authority has heard an earful from these whiny bigots.


'O sole Ernie ('Sesame Street' Wednesday)

I'm glad to find this classic Ernie and Bert sketch after all these years!

I recall this skit fondly from the '70s (the greatest decade in the history of the universe). It's another hilarious scene in which Ernie wakes up Bert in the middle of the night for some dubious reason:

"It's too dark to see the clock, Bert."

"Well, for fuck's sake, Ernie, if you weren't too cheap to buy a clock with an LED digital display, you'd be able to see it!"

"It doesn't matter anyway because I can't count past 6, Bert."

The real high point of this skit is Ernie's loud singing out the window that wakes up the neighborhood. You can hear a neighbor complaining, "It sounds like Ernie again!" So obviously Ernie has done this before!

You can clearly hear an angry man yell, "It's 3:00 in the morning!" I have always assumed this to be Mr. Hooper, because it sounds like his voice.

Also, at the very beginning of this clip, you can detect a very brief fart sound, which seems to be emanating from Ernie. At the very end, there seems to be another fart, which is even quieter than the first one. Bert seems to be the source of the bunker blast at the end.

What characters Bert, Ernie, and Mr. Blooper are!

Idiot ruins woman's vacation by peeing on her

Since this is a political blog, this story wouldn't normally be noted here. It's more the stuff of recent Last Word issues.

But since it uses the magic word - 'ruin' - it's hard to find a justification not to link to this bizarre story here:

'Pail Poll closed due to sabotage

When I posted a 'Pail Poll asking your opinion about the misnamed FairTax that Freepers think is so great, I fully expected FairTax cultists to spend the week at their computers casting multiple votes to skew the results. I didn't expect them to practically fry my computer.

Since Sunday, I've heard several complaints about irregularities in this poll. One person claims to have voted no, but the vote was counted as a yes. Others claimed similar problems or not being able to vote at all.

Sure enough, I investigated it just now with the "Change your vote" feature, and when I tried changing my vote back to no again, about 10 browser windows full of ads for Wal-Mart cards and other items began popping up.

Obviously, the FairTax thought police hacked the poll somehow so it would launch malware like this if you voted no.

So I had to shut off the 'Pail Poll. I refuse to continue with a poll that launches malware.

Despite this sabotage, you had voted 24 to 16 against the far-right FairTax. You know there were actually more no votes than that - especially here. But the total is about what I should have expected, because the FairTax cult freeps polls like this.

This episode speaks volumes about how they run elections for public office. If they can disrupt an online poll, just think what they do when they count votes in actual elections. I have to seriously question whether the Republicans have actually won half the elections they appear to have won in recent years, when you weigh for all the fraud.

There should be a full-on police investigation into the sabotage of the poll here, because clearly there was a security breach. But an official probe is about as likely as an investigation into the harassing phone calls.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Right-wing students try to stop congressman from speaking

The wingnutosphere just absolutely despises this man - and now they're trying to muzzle him.

Right-wing students at American University have signed an online petition to force the school to withdraw an invitation for Rep. Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts), who is scheduled to deliver a commencement address there.

They want Frank uninvited because they accuse him of causing the financial services industry collapse.


Well, that's a new one.

The petition was organized by a self-described Republican, and most of its supporters are avowed members of the school's Young Republicans chapter. However, petition backers say one supporter is a vice-president of the campus Democratic club - which makes us ask again what the difference these days is between the 2 major parties.

If this was Northern Kentucky University, I'd suspect that the only reason any Democratic student signed the petition was to ensure a nice boost in their grades next semester. I attended NKU, and I've seen firsthand that officials there make it a point to advance right-wing causes. But you'd expect other universities to at least allow the free flow of ideas.

On the other hand, I don't believe that a vice-president of the campus Democrats even signed it. I think the petition supporters are making this up, because they refuse to say which veep.

What do right-wing commenters on other blogs say about this petition? One gloated, "CONGRATS TO THE AU STUDENTS FOR FREE SPEECH AND STANDING THEIR GROUND. ... SCREW Frank. Banish him from the AU grad."

Only in conservaworld can banishing someone from a commencement because of their politics be considered free speech.

If anyone caused the banking collapse, it was those who fostered the widening gap between the rich and the poor. Among them is Phil Gramm, who gutted banking regulations as part of the fascist Contract With America. And Gramm had help from Bill Clinton, who caved to the Republican machine.

Tell me again how this is Barney Frank's fault? It isn't.

Free speech? With right-wing book burners dominating today's education system, don't count on it.


IE8 couldn't come soon enough!

I just discovered that Internet Explorer 8 was released last month. I'm almost afraid to try it, but judging by IE7, it couldn't come quickly enough.

Good ol' IE7. I use IE7 and Firefox simultaneously, because both have a tendency to log me out of some sites I use. As long as I have both browsers, I can easily access most of my sites.

But let me tell you something about Exploder. I'd think IE7 was an improvement over IE6, but for that little problem with crashing all the time. Not like IE6 didn't crash a lot too, but at least with IE6 there was a remote chance that all your important tabs might not be closed. With IE7, forget it.

And when IE7 crashes, bring a book. Better yet, hope that you live right next door to the library. When it crashes, count on it taking a good while to close.

These crashes often lock up all your other windows too. So you find yourself frantically moving your mouse and pounding your mouse button with no results - until 30 seconds later when you get that telltale series of beeps as the cursor flies aimlessly about the screen.

Sometimes you're not even that lucky. Exploder will crash, so you'll click on one of your other windows, only to see a blank white space where your document is supposed to be. Fifteen minutes later, the hard drive is still whirring as Exploder is still in the process of closing. Anxious attempts to open Windows Task Manager or any of your other windows are unsuccessful.

So you have no choice but to press the button and do an improper restart.

Will IE8 see an improvement? One can only hope so, but any American who has lived in the past 25 years isn't used to things improving. (There's a reason that observers called it the conservative era.)

"But it's a hooooooooaaaaaaaax!"

The debate is over. Climate change is real, and is caused by human activity.

But don't tell this to the wingnutosphere. It seems like every winter lately they've pointed to declining temperatures as "proof" that global warming is a massive hoax by us big, mean, stinky libs. They've never really made it clear why they think anyone would make up climate change.

Um, ever think that maybe the temperatures dropped because it was winter, perhaps? That little factoid never seems to occur to the mental giants who dominate online discourse.

The latest story is further evidence that climate change is very real, and we're running out of time to remedy it. Yet the story has been ignored by the right-wing blogs that I monitor.

Los Angeles is now sweltering in record heat. Yesterday saw a record high of 100° F - shattering the record for that date of 96° that was set way back in 1958. San Francisco saw a record high yesterday of 93°.

Will this silence the wingnuts? Of course not. But that's for the better, because nobody believes them anymore, and they're just digging themselves into a funnier hole. And it helps keep the issue of climate change on the frontburner.


Corrected details about missing Johnny Bench medallion

Now that I've sent you on a detective mission to find a long-missing Johnny Bench medallion, it might help if I gave better information. Because you're reading a progressive populist blog like this one, you must be a stickler for detail, so I thought I'd try to provide better clues.

The size of the medallion may have been overstated in my previous entry. I described it as possibly 2 to 3 inches in diameter, but now that I think about it more, it was probably slightly less than that - maybe 1.5 to 2 inches - though I could be wrong.

Also, I expressed a likelihood that the item was unique. As my previous entry states, this is not a certainty. Either way, it is an extremely rare medallion. And I'm looking for that particular medallion - not one like it.

The medallion was like a large coin or a medal. It featured the ballplayer's likeness, but (as with most coins or medals) it was not a color image. I don't remember Mr. Bench's pose on the medallion, but he is pictured above, in case you are unfamiliar with him.

I won the medallion between 1992 and 1994. It vanished between 1993 and 1997 - most likely in 1995 or 1996.

Someone once told me Johnny Bench was a Republican. I don't know if this is true, or if this was just a misguided effort to discredit the career of a baseball legend. Regardless of Mr. Bench's politics, we must find that long-lost treasure.

Don your Sherlock Hemlock hats now, folks!

Monday, April 20, 2009

I've got a Johnny Bench medallion with your name on it!

Calling all 'Pail sleuths!

This is a populist political blog, but I think those of you who have stood by me all these years need a break from politics and would like to help me solve a mystery.

I'm missing a priceless medallion that had legendary Reds catcher Johnny Bench on it. It was produced by Fifth Third Bank, which employed Mr. Bench as its pitchman. This most likely was a unique item, though I'm not certain of it.

The round medallion was made of silver or a similar metal, and it was maybe 2 or 3 inches across.

I won this Johnny Bench medallion in the mid-'90s at a contest at a party in college in which I made fart noises with my eye. I had the medallion a very short time when it became lost.

I know who lost it (not a family member), and this loss was no fault of mine whatsoever. I was completely powerless to stop the situation, and I was heartbroken at this loss. But I just didn't know how to go about getting the item back.

So now it's up to all of you out there in blogland to help me find it!

When the medallion was lost, it was as shiny as can be. It was enclosed in a small, clear, round, flat plastic case that was just the right size to fit it.

From what I understand, its whereabouts may be somewhere on or near the grounds of the old Highland Heights Elementary School in Highland Heights, Kentucky. I have no idea what that site is being used for now, but the school closed around 2007. If the medallion isn't there, then it may be somewhere around the area of Bramble Avenue or Thompson Road in Highland Heights.

My medallion would have to be worth a fortune now, especially if it's found in the pristine condition it was in when I lost it.

What's the reward if you find it? The medallion is the reward.

I appreciated this beautiful medallion very much - but I'd appreciate finding it even more.

Come hell or high water, I'm going to make sure my Johnny Bench medallion is recovered. I don't care how long it's been since it vanished. Put on your sleuthing faces and join the effort!

FCC protects stations' territory

In the U.S. and A., radio and TV stations have territory - much like the Mafia. The average viewer or listener might have a hard time following how this works, but I majored in broadcasting in college, so I've seen how the FCC protects this greed.

The TV industry has something called designated market areas. The entire nation (except barren regions of Alaska) is divided into about 200 DMA's defined by Nielsen Media Research. Like school districts, DMA's do not overlap. For instance, the Cincinnati DMA includes numerous counties in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. Even if you can pick up out-of-town stations, you're still in only the Cincinnati DMA.

Indeed, even if you can't pick up a city's stations, you might still be in that city's DMA.

This issue is critical to cable regulation. While the FCC is supposed to enforce must-carry rules that require cable systems to feature every over-the-air station in the area, the FCC flinches when stations complain. Our local cable monopoly does not carry any out-of-town network affiliates - which has kept folks from watching shows preempted by local stations.

The cable system could pull in a satisfactory signal from affiliates from neighboring DMA's. But it doesn't, because local stations would complain about the out-of-town stations invading their territory. And the FCC would side with the local stations.

Since the Reagan era, this has been an issue not just across DMA lines but even within DMA's. The Seattle DMA is so overbound that it covers Bellingham, Washington - 90 miles from Seattle. Seattle stations had such weak reception there that Bellingham had its own CBS affiliate for years.

But the Seattle CBS affiliate cried foul, and got the Bellingham station removed from cable in much of the area - even though it was in the same DMA. "You can't watch the Bellingham station! You're in the Seattle DMA!"

Bellingham was in the Seattle DMA because DMA's are determined by not just over-the-air viewership but also cable. This means Seattle stations were able to put Bellingham in their DMA just by getting on cable there. It's circular reasoning: "Bellingham is in our DMA because we're on cable there. We're on cable there because Bellingham is in our DMA."

The most widely used geographic areas in the radio industry are the metropolitan areas promulgated by Arbitron. These definitions don't include most rural counties, and Arbitron allows a few overlaps, particularly when a suburban county is big enough for its own stations. Radio stations are just as zealous on protecting their territory as TV stations.

Observers have surmised that both Los Angeles and San Francisco lost their affiliates for a popular radio program, because a suburban station already carried the show and wouldn't allow a station in the main market to keep airing it. The program was pulled from the stations in the larger market because Arbitron defined the suburban markets as being included within the larger market.

This seems like a rare instance of a smaller station actually benefiting from such a conflict. But even a small station with a weak signal located in the larger market could not have picked up the show, because its Arbitron area included the suburban market. This would apply even if the station's signal was too weak to reach these suburbs.

Two stations could have no signal overlap at all, yet their territory is so sacred that one station is given "rights" to cable coverage or program affiliations even where you can only pick up the other station.

The FCC has done big broadcasters' bidding for years. Like the powerful broadcasters it serves, the FCC just absolutely, utterly hates it when you pull in a station from another territory. That means that in some rural counties, radio listening is technically illegal.

Bracken County, Kentucky, isn't in an Arbitron metro, but most major Cincinnati radio stations reach the county. But the FCC feels you have no "right" to listen to these stations there, even though Bracken County has no stations of its own.

I'm no fan of Cincinnati radio. But the FCC's aim is to favor interests that have even more money and clout than the outrageously wealthy Cincinnati station owners. So if some powerful right-wing whack-a-doo outfit like Don Wildmon's American Family Association wants to build yet another repeater station, it can. It can construct a repeater in Bracken County on a frequency next to a Cincinnati station, and block that station by bleeding onto its frequency.

This in turn can happen because the FCC refuses to make sure stations use transmitters that don't bleed onto other frequencies.

FCC policies favor powerful interests - regardless of whether there is a territorial dispute. Major corporations or Wildmon-style "ministries" can erect a full-power station and require a high school station or other low-power facility to go off the air to make room for it. The FCC rubber-stamps these applications. Yet at the same time, the FCC lets checkbook clergies and big corporations build translators that keep other stations from being heard in rural areas where they've had good coverage for 30 years.

In fact, this affects not just rural counties, but sizeable cities like Bloomington, Indiana. One regular of a radio forum I read sums it up well. This user said that "the FCC decided years ago that you had no right or reason to be listening to out of market stations. ... if a translator is blocking out Louisville in Bloomington..that's too bad ..."

The real issue though is that new translators by powerful corporations are blocking out Indianapolis stations in Bloomington - stations that previously covered Bloomington well.

FCC policy in recent years has been to rubber-stamp every action like this, just because it's technically allowed. Decades ago, the FCC weighed these acts to see if they served the public interest. Now station applications by powerful broadcasters are approved automatically.

The FCC needs new leadership that doesn't soothe every territorial complaint by a TV station or every unreasonable application for a radio repeater. We have a right to expect Congress to order the FCC to change its policies, but Congress isn't exactly a populist bastion, so we're going to have to take our case elsewhere.

No, Ernie. We didn't stay with you.

The once-impenetrable GOP machine is now reeling so badly that all it can do now is coast on past "glory" (as it were).

And it still can't get basic facts straight.

As the Republicans still cling to their strength in northern Kentucky suburbs, the strongest figure they could find to appear at their fundraiser was scandal-tainted former Gov. Ernie Fletcher.

And yes, he got the facts all wrong.

Referring to his 2007 reelection bid, which he lost in a landslide, Fletcher said, "Northern Kentucky stayed with me, and for that I say thanks."

Oh, Eeerrrrnieee.

This statement was completely wrong. Of the 8 counties usually counted as part of northern Kentucky, Fletcher lost 7. He won only Boone County - that suburban parallel universe.

Outer suburbs are about the only place left where the Republicans can still succeed at consolidating their power. Unfortunately, the GOP knows how to suppress votes in city areas (with their vote challengers and all), so don't write them off yet in local elections.


GOP lawmaker admits assaulting wife in public

The Republican Right has been reduced to such a slobbering mess that it now seems to have few public figures remaining besides lawbreakers who sail through life in a frenzied haze.

North Dakota State Rep. Dave Weiler is a Republican who has served since 2001. He's got a crazed Bill Sali look about him. Now Weiler has admitted that he brutally assaulted his wife at a store in Bismarck, causing her to fall to the ground.

Now Weiler has been ordered to undergo domestic violence offender treatment.

Why is this clod still in the legislature? You'd think he'd be so embarrassed that he'd resign, but he trudges on in autopilot mode.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Guess what's poppin' up everywhere? Another Bubble Gum Weekend!

Bubble gum advertising became increasingly preposterous as time went on - even when the ads actually showed people bubbling.

Bubbling is a sport indulged in by billions of people of all ages all over the world. But something about people in commercials blowing bubbles seems sillier than the same activity does in real life.

This fact was lost on the agency that made a certain set of TV ads for Extra sugarless gum and its "classic bubble gum" flavor. It includes this commersh that aired in 2000:

That ad is in the same series as the infamous "Hey bubble gum blowers!" commersh for the same product.

It appears to be designed to appeal to folks whose lives revolve around bubbling. It shows people ranging from cowboys to kids in weddings blowing bubbles. The characters in the commercial do various stupid things, such as pick the noses of priceless statues in libraries.

Not only that, but the people in this ad actually COUNT how many bubbles they blow! Must be nice to not have more important things in life to worry about.

By the time this commersh aired, however, bubbling in public wasn't nearly as common as this ad made it appear. So it's unclear if the ad was really that effective.