Sunday, May 31, 2009

Brewed with one-third real shampoo...but don't wash your hair with it!

Since this is a weekend, I thought you might be in a nostalgic mood again!

For years, I've been adamant that there was once a TV commercial that advertised "beer shampoo" - shampoo that included beer as an ingredient. I've always told people that the actress in the ad said, "But don't drink it!"

But everyone has always accused me of just making the whole thing up, since it seemed so farfetched.

Well, guess what?

As with the Flavor Fiend and Nature Valley ads, YouTube has once again rescued my believability:

I'm assuming the shampoo advertised in that 1978 commersh is no longer being made, so I have no objection to embedding the ad here. (Again, Facebookers are going to have to find it themselves because Facebook won't fix its bugs.)

Ever since I saw that "beer shampoo" ad when I was 5, I thought the height of comic genius would be if they made a "shampoo beer."

"Brewed with one-third real shampoo."


"But don't wash your hair with it!"

Except it probably wouldn't taste too good.

Dumb right-wing quote of the day

Cue the old "You are an idiot" jingle from Q-102.

After Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed ending welfare and closing down most state parks to cover California's budget deficit - which was caused in part by his own mismanagement - progressive voices have quite properly criticized his plans. They point out that almost all of his budget cuts would hit the poor.

But what's the Schwarzenegger administration's response to this criticism?

State finance director Mike Genest (pictured here) said the cuts hit the poor because "government doesn't provide services to rich people."

Seriously, he said that.

If that's true, then why have I spent the past 15 years exposing how rich neighborhoods get much better government services than poor areas?

My former school district recently closed the elementary school in a working-class neighborhood and forced students to be bused several miles out of town to a more affluent area. How is that not giving more services to the rich?

And what about this bank bailout garbage? The amount of California's budget deficit is less than 0.2% of the value of the recent Wall Street bailouts.

Oh, I get it now. Those aren't handouts to rich people. Those are handouts to rich corporations. Well, isn't that even worse?

If you think government doesn't provide as much services to the rich as to the poor, why does it seem like almost every new spending project goes to areas that are relatively well-off?


Saturday, May 30, 2009

ABC lives up to its initials (Bubble Gum Weekend)

ABC doesn't just stand for American Broadcasting Company. It also stands for Anti-Barack Channel, a reference to the network's bias that favored the GOP in the 2008 election.

And it stands for Already Been Chewed. As in gum, you know.

Usually our Bubble Gum Weekend feature links you to hilarious old gum commercials, but this week's installment isn't really an ad. I guess it could be an ad, because it shows gum, and every time people see gum, they buy more of it, because gum is funny. But anyway, the fact that it isn't truly a commersh means I can embed it directly in this entry and keep my integrity.

This uproarious clip seems to be from some 'Candid Camera'-style show that aired recently on ABC. It depicts a young woman chewing bubble gum, sticking it on the bottom of her shoe, walking around in a park, pulling the filthy gum off her shoe, and chewing it.

Yes, this does appear to be real. The individual in this ad actually chewed a dirty wad of gum off the bottom of her shoe! Onlookers (including an aging gent in a Phil Collins hat) were shocked at her amusing behavior.

And since I know you're going to ask: Yes, she bubbled.

So here's the clip (although those of you who read this on Facebook probably won't see this, because Facebook won't fix its failure to embed YouTube videos):

On the other hand, is it really ABC gum if the only person who's chewed it is yourself? Just because the bubble gum has become grimy from the pavement at the park (which is probably coated with dog feces and vomit residue) doesn't necessarily make it ABC gum. Maybe that wad of gum picked up someone else's discarded gum along the way for better bubbling, but who knows?

Court crimps drug war housing policy

Every person alive today knows there's a druggie hiding under every bed in the known universe. They know this because Congress said so.

Why, that storage bin under your bed that's full of old Power Mac software actually isn't a storage bin. It's a druggie ingeniously disguised as a storage bin. Did you know that?

But seriously now.

A government policy that gained height in the '90s evicted public housing residents if they had a relative who had even minimal drug involvement - even if the resident was unaware of what their relative did. It was a "one strike" policy that gutted due process.

For a while, agents were conducting warrantless searches of public housing in search of contraband left behind by family members.

These militant policies were courtesy of the right-wing Republican Congress of the time and of the Clinton regime. (What's this again about a two-party system?)

But now, several courts have ruled against efforts by housing authorities in Covington, Kentucky, to evict residents who are unaware of relatives' drug involvement.

The case resulted when a resident was evicted after her nephew who was visiting left cocaine in the apartment - without her knowledge. The resident was ordered to move out in only 14 days under this "one strike" rule - even though she had nothing to do with her nephew's drug offenses. In fact, she didn't even know about the drugs or the arrest until she got the eviction notice.

But local judges quite properly ruled in her favor and said she was wrongly evicted. Now the Kentucky Court of Appeals has upheld these rulings.

The court said that not only did the eviction violate the housing agreement - but authorities didn't even bother to show that the resident did anything illegal herself.

That this "one strike" policy was being wielded against innocents is another sign that the failed War on Drugs is out of control. Instead of using due process and common sense, authorities went off half-cocked. At least the court saw through the bullshit.

(In case you're asking, the comment section of the Cincinnati paper has already been flooded by Freeper-like bigoted commenters.)


Friday, May 29, 2009

Pee-In-A-Cup Portman disobeys campaign law

Meet Rob Portman - ultraconservative former Cincinnati area congressman and Bush's OMB director. Now he's running for Senate in Ohio, and he's proving to be quite a gaffe-a-minute guy.

Last weekend, Portman appeared at the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center to campaign for vets' votes. But VA officials then had to warn him that campaigning on federal property is illegal.


He had the nerve to campaign there after he was responsible for slashing the VA's budget (which led to vastly decreased quality of services for vets)?

In just the last 4 years of the Bush era (which includes Portman's OMB reign), the processing time for veterans to qualify for VA health care benefits increased from 70 days to over 300 days.

Gutting the VA was a pattern by the Bush regime though. Bush slashed VA funding in an effort to "prove" public health care didn't work - even though veterans had been more satisfied with the VA than they were with America's disastrous private health care system.

The VA's problems didn't get as bad as they are now until Bush almost totally gutted the VA for political purposes. Then again, the private civilian health care system declined under Bush too.

If you've had any experience with America's civilian health care lately, you'd know why privatizing vets' health care is the last thing America needs.

With Rob Portman running for Senate, America is staring down the barrel of a Bush conservative monopolizing another valuable Senate seat.


Radio finds new way to be irrelevant

It's almost as if the broadcast industry today is intentionally trying to relieve itself of what little relevancy radio had remaining.

Twenty years ago, even stations that mostly aired music seemed to know the community around them. If they didn't have a full news feature, they had community events and public interest features.

These days, serving the community is a dirty word on almost any music or talk format. Music radio declined into a narrow set of tracks preapproved by national executives and big record labels. Talk radio became nearly synonymous with right-wing diatribes - usually syndicated, with no local interest.

This process was enabled largely by the rogue 1996 Telecommunications Act (a dogmatic law that nobody dares to criticize).

Some said there was a glimmer of hope around the middle of the current decade when major broadcasters agreed to air music from independent labels again - following a lawsuit over the industry shutting out indies. But I knew there'd be not a shred of compliance. And I was right.

I've noticed lately though that the industry has found a nifty way around that ruling: Just change your stations (even big FM signals) to a right-wing talk or sports format, so you don't have to worry about music at all.

Fact is, America has seen very, very few successful FM talk stations. And probably just as few successful sports talk stations on either AM or FM. Most of the sports talk outlets just rebroadcast a national feed where the hosts gripe about things Pete Rose did 30 years ago, so their ratings are as dismal as you'd expect.

Yet sports and right-wing talk on major FM signals are starting to proliferate wildly - just so radio can continue to shut out indie music. Today, it was discovered that powerful FM music stations in San Antonio and Grand Rapids are switching to talk or sports - following similar switches in other markets. The new talk station in San Antonio will include all nationally syndicated hosts - with no local programming whatsoever.

I don't think anyone in the U.S. and A. still relies on radio as an arbiter of new music. Radio has allowed itself to be completely left in the dust by the Internet and other venues. And I think the industry likes it fine that way.

What an amazing decline of a medium that had so much potential!

'Sucks' is out, harassment is in

If America became any more of a Bizarro World than it's become over the past 25 years, then pretty soon everyone would have been eating rocks and drinking sand like in the 'Saturday Night Live' skits.

Recently, a Texas Rangers baseball fan who wore a "Yankees Sucks" t-shirt to a game against the New York team was threatened by a guard with being ejected from the game unless she changed her shirt.

The guard reportedly said that the Texas ball club "considers that shirt to be profane." It violates the Rangers' "code of conduct", u c. This code was enacted because a few people got their pwecious widdle feewings hurt by words like 'sucks'.

Even "Weird Al" Yankovic (a relatively clean songwriter) used the word 'sucks' in at least one of his songs. So how thin-skinned does one have to be to complain to ballpark management after seeing this word on a shirt?

The woman who wore the "Yankees Sucks" shirt had her whole wedding anniversary ruined by the run-in. She turned the shirt inside-out, but she and her husband left the stadium before the game even started.

Sounds like Major League Baseball teams are getting as bad as the NFL is in trying to banish fun from sports.

Even though you can't wear a shirt with 'sucks', it's perfectly tolerable to drive up and down the road and pelt folks with trash - or physically block a person trying to walk down the street. In the topsy-turvy climate that's dominated in recent years, harassment like this is considered "free speech."


Report says wage boost helps economy

Some facts are so obvious that you shouldn't need to conduct a costly study to prove them.

But some folks are stubborn, so I guess this expense had to be made. Not like this'll change wingnuts' minds.

A new report by the Economic Policy Institute finds that recent increases in the minimum wage have already helped stimulate the American economy to the tune of almost $5,000,000,000.

I still can't believe it took such a detailed study to prove the obvious. Anyone should be able to see that if the working class makes more money, they can spend more on items they need and boost the economy.

If giving government handouts to big banks is so great, why would it be such a bad thing to make sure working people get better pay as well?

Better pay - and more economic equality - should be considered a leading economic indicator just by definition.

But don't expect much press to be given to this report. The national media culture is as hostile to economic fairness as our local media is. When I used to read one of our local dailies (now defunct), I always got the impression that they saw no harm in even college graduates wearing paper hats and asking, "Do you want fries with that?" just to make a living. This is the same right-wing paper that blamed the minimum wage increase for wrecking the economy - even though the wage boost hadn't taken effect yet.

To this media culture, the economy is about Big Business making money off employees' backs. In that greed-driven ideology, it's not about giving workers buying power.

The minimum wage should be indexed with inflation. Members of Congress illegally vote themselves huge pay increases each year. So the failure to boost the minimum wage is one of America's gravest tragedies.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Survey? What survey? lololololol"

If conservatives manage to get some referendumb passed to run roughshod over inalienable rights, they complain that opponents who sue to have it overturned aren't abiding by the will of the people.

But this story shows how phony the rightists' claims to populism truly are.

In Bradford County, Florida, the school board sent out a survey about (you guessed it!) uniforms. Parents rejected the failed idea of uniforms by about a 2-to-1 margin.

School board members were shocked that a majority of folks would dare to even think that school-imposed groupthink wasn't worthy of unadulterated praise. So they announced they were going to just ignore the results of the survey and continue imposing uniforms anyway.

But what about the will of the people? You know, the same will of the people that was so important in other cases?

I guess instead of lying about the results of surveys - as other school boards have been caught doing - Bradford County school officials have finally realized it's easier to just ignore survey results altogether.

A school board member's tirade exemplifies the smug attitude the school bored has about public opinion. She declared, "Once again we're going to let the parents dictate to us when we're the school board - and for once we ought to stand up for what's right and what's good for this community."

Heaven forbid public officials such as school board members actually let the public have input, huh?

At least now kids who come to school out of uniform won't go to jail, after state lawmakers put a clamp on that.


Limbaugh calls himself a civil rights leader (hahaha!)

I detect something off in the distance!

It's getting closer!

Why, it's the WAAAAAAAAAAHmbluance again!

Listen to what Rush Limbaugh said the other day about mounting losses for his party. (Since nobody else listens to Rush anymore.) The washed-up has-been whined, "If ever a civil rights movement was needed in America, it is for the Republican Party. If ever we needed to start marching for freedom and constitutional rights, it's for the Republican Party. The Republican Party is today's oppressed minority ..."

Aw, poor, poor, poor widdle Republicans. So oppressed.

Limbaugh complained that the GOP has been forced to the "back of the bus."

I guess Rush Limbaugh is the leader of the first civil rights movement in history for a party that oppressed everyone else and had almost limitless power for 28 years.

Contrast Rush Limbaugh versus the real civil rights leaders of 50 years ago. I doubt Rush has ever had police commissioners turning hoses on him.


"Zero tolerance" becoming less tolerated in Florida

Maybe - just maybe - people might be starting to think that "zero tolerance" discipline policies that now pervade American schools aren't so brilliant after all.

The blab is rife with countless true stories of grade school children being arrested for drawing pictures of slingshots or accidentally bringing nail clippers to school.

But now Florida (of all places) is crimping this right-wing trend.

A bill to halt arrests for minor school infractions has now passed both houses of the Florida legislature unanimously and has been signed into law.

Yes, Florida. If even a Republican state like Florida can clip zealous educrats' wings, other states can't be far behind.

This actually shows you just how right-wing "zero tolerance" is. If our schools are more right-wing than 100% of Florida legislators, is it any wonder why schools are a major target of this blog?

The new law also requires schools to publicly review their corporal punishment policies, but I think the law doesn't go far enough in that regard: Paddling in schools should be outlawed completely.


When laws attack

Eek! Laws!

The latest right-wing talking point is that a judge is less qualified if their rulings are overturned by the Supreme Court.

By the current Supreme Court? The 5-to-4 Federalist Society court???

With the state of the Supreme Court lately, a judge is probably more qualified if they have more rulings overturned by it.

The new rightist talking point is being repeated ad infinitum in regard to Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. Sotomayor wasn't even on the list of progressive favorites, but the wingnutosphere still considers her too liberal.

One of the cases they use as "evidence" of this is a 2007 case about power companies' responsibilities to keep aquatic life from being killed by cooling vents of power plants. The law is clear: The EPA can consider whether a power company is able to afford the technology to protect aquatic life - not whether this purchase will keep the company from Making more Money.

That's what Sotomayor ruled as an appeals judge. And that ruling was right.

Of course, the Supreme Court gutted that ruling this year - on April 1, suitably enough, considering the fools who compose much of the current Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court made an activist ruling, and it was wrong. The law says power plants must use the "best technology available" - not the best technology that increases their profit margins. But the Supremes apparently think power companies have the "right" to not have to follow any sensible regulations that might reduce their precious, precious profits.

An aside: A right-wing critic of Sotomayor accused her of "blind political allegiance to the Greens." See, the Obama administration really is bipartisan.

When a law says what it says, and the Supreme Court doesn't follow the law, why should that cancel out the qualifications of a judge who the Supreme Court overruled?

Homeowners' association tries making vet remove bumper stickers

The right-wing brain trust would have you believe that they're superpatriots who stand up for the flag and the Constitution. But this story is another that dashes these claims to rack and ruin.

Homeowners' associations have become havens for the rightist intelligentsia. And Americans of almost every economic group are now muscled into compliance with their irrational ukases.

In Dallas, a disabled Vietnam vet decided to stick Marine Corps bumper stickers on his van. But then the homeowners' association at the condo where he lives threw a skizzum and tried making him remove the stickers. The association says bumper stickers on cars are forbidden because they're "advertising."

I'm as antiwar as anybody, but come on!

If he had placed signs on his condo, it would be one thing. But what gives the association the right to go after someone for putting stickers on his car?

The association has threatened to tow the van at the man's expense and fine him heavily.

If something like this happened to me and my car was towed, I'd break into the towing lot and take the car right back. And I'd be damned if I'd pay the association's fines.

If the association thinks it has the power to make people pay fines, doesn't that make it a government? If so, doesn't that mean it has to follow the Bill of Rights - which includes the First Amendment right to display a bumper sticker?

The association can't have it both ways. Of course they try to.

Some folks have nothing better to do in life than create stinks about nothing. I think that describes the homeowners' association in this story quite well.

Today, they're harassing a veteran over Marine Corps stickers. Tomorrow, they'll be fining you for your peace sign stickers, as it's becoming harder and harder to find housing that doesn't have a homeowners' association.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Former NYPD commish indicted for lying to White House

Federal prosecutors said today that former New York City police commissioner Bernie Kerik has been indicted on charges of lying to officials from the Bush White House when they vetted him to run the Department of Homeland Suckyurity.

Yes, I know the Bush White House lied to everyone else for 8 years, but still it doesn't look good for Kerik.

Kerik served as police commish under the grossly incompetent Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Prosecutors say he hid renovations to his home made by contractors who wanted to do business with the city.

This adds to Kerik's other indictments - which include tax fraud, corruption, and conspiracy.

Of course, Kerik's lawyer says the whole thing is politically motivated.

Oh well. Another day, another GOP big shot indicted.

Maybe the bigger crime is that Kerik was ever considered for the DHS post at all.


Why do you have to be a blue monster... ('Sesame Street' Wednesday)

Grover was given short shrift by this feature for months - but lately it's been Grover by the barrelful!

Again, this week's feature isn't an actual 'Sesame Street' segment. Rather, this is a clip someone made themselves and uploaded to YouPube.

Folks from my day may remember the song "Heartbreaker" that was written by the Bee Gees and had a hit version sung by Dionne Warwick. (When we had to do aerobics to this song in 4th grade, my classmates used to sing a parody they called "Fartmaker": "Why do you have to be a fartmaker...")

Anypoop, this YouTube clip features a Grover puppet singing "Heartbreaker"! It's almost surreal! And Grover becomes a fartmaker himself in this video!

How hilariously ridiculous!

Did any of you ever predict that in 2009 you'd be watching a video of Grover singing "Heartbreaker" and loudly passing gas at the end - and reading about it on a political blog, no less?

But man, the Bee Gees rule!

Congress to hand FairTax cult a victory?

The Democrats spent gabillions of dollars to regain Congress, and then this happens?

Washington think tank demigods are now seriously considering a national sales tax - a proposal that has otherwise had only fringe support in recent years.

Their proposal for a value-added tax (possibly as high as 25%) would be a regressive tax: It would hit the poor harder.

Countless commenters here have pointed out that all successful modern nations have relied primarily on a progressive tax structure. This is one of few traits these nations have in common. Under a progressive tax, the rich pay more, government services stay afloat, and the economy hums along. Not so under a value-added tax.

I wonder if the punditocracy won't be satisfied until there's not only a national sales tax but everyone pays the same amount in income tax (which defeats the whole purpose of an income tax).

The Obama administration seems to oppose a national sales tax, but congressional pressure mounts.

If the government wants to raise revenue, let's start by taking back the bailouts it gave to big banks and insurers. Let's also tax the major corporations that have completely avoided paying any taxes since 1998. Congress is recoiling at any sensible tax reform by the President, so Congress has made itself part of the problem.

I think we're almost at the point where we need a constitutional amendment to require federal taxes to be progressive.


Schwarzenegger may close state parks

It never ends when you put ideologues in charge of things, does it?

After California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced he wanted to abolish welfare to ease the budget deficit - even while failing to rein in handouts to the prison industry or huge salaries for his cronies - the Terminator realized he was on a roll. (Ending welfare would not only make California the only U.S. state with no welfare program. It would also make it the only place in any First World country without such a safety net.)

Now - emboldened by being able to get away with that - Schwarzenegger now wants to close 80% of California state parks.

Recall election, anyone? I mean, the GOP had Gray Davis recalled for much less.


Muncie school board votes against...well, guess

When school board members in Muncie, Indiana, proposed uniforms, I was afraid that was almost a shoo-in to be approved.

That's because nearby Anderson not only started requiring uniforms, but parents who objected were also ordered to pay the school board's legal fees in the resulting lawsuit. So I was afraid the Muncie school board might be emboldened by that.

Uproariously, however, it was not to be!

Muncie has now rejected uniforms, following objections by parents and students.

As an added sting against the thought guardians, the crowd at the school board meeting broke into applause when uniforms were rejected!

Life doesn't get much greater than that!

One thing is for damn sure: If I had kids in a public school who were required to wear uniforms, I'd tell my kids to just ignore this stupid policy. If the school wants to fight me, let the school get sued.


Watch your wallet: another Duke power outage

Wow, it's been what, a whole 2 weeks?

Story here:

The power didn't completely go out here (for a change), but I know I detected the lights briefly flickering.

And no, there was no storm going on when this happened. Not even any wind. So what's the excuse this time?

If local governments don't award the electricity franchise to someone else after this, then we should seriously consider launching a recall effort against some of our "elected" officials. (As if there's not enough reason for that already.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

County wants to keep custody of boy even after parents follow order

This is a follow-up to the previous entry, and it shows just how irrational family services in Brown County, Minnesota, are being.

The parents of the 13-year-old cancer patient there have agreed to allow him to undergo more chemo instead of using alternative medicine. In doing so, they are complying with the court's order.

Despite this, the county wants to keep custody of the boy.

For crying out loud, why???

The parents followed the court order, so what grounds does the county have?

For a while, I thought there might have been a chance that the county's family services were merely misguided and not actually trying to do harm. The latest development has sharply reduced the likelihood of that.

After some of the stuff I've seen from youth protective agencies in my area, I truly believe we have to question whether family services ever had the boy's best interests in mind. Then again, I could be biased, after I discovered that agencies in my region like to call teenagers liars right to their faces.


County gives itself "parental rights"

It's no wonder that people seem to have forgotten how to sue school systems or how to question Bush's lies. It's because the government has appointed itself the True Parent of all.

This is another story about the 13-year-old cancer patient in Minnesota. You can say what you want about him or his parents trying alternative medicine instead of more rounds of chemo (after the first round of chemo made life pretty much intolerable). Regardless of what one may feel about that, the county was out of line when it awarded itself full custodial "rights" over the teenager.

Recently, the boy's mother took him out of the state to find treatment. Authorities then charged the mother with interfering with parental rights. The "parental rights" refer to the "rights" of the county, which gave itself custody of the boy.

The county seems more out of line when you consider the type of parental conduct that prompts no intervention by authorities. A right-wing politician in Arkansas hasn't had his kids taken away from him, even though he raises them in a cult (namely the Quiverfull movement). Parents who beat their children usually don't lose custody - especially not in Minnesota, after the right-wing Minnesota Supreme Court made it legal to beat your kids bloody.

Even if the cancer patient and his parents are wrong to favor alternative medicine over chemo, why do his parents lose all parental rights, while followers of dangerous cults like Quiverfull don't lose any rights? (Some have claimed that Andrea Yates and her husband were Quiverfull followers.)

I'd be highly reluctant to support a court taking kids away from parents unless it's an extreme case, but why does the government favor right-wing cults?


Places where you'll lose TV

Digital TV is going to be the biggest failure since all the others of the past 8 years.

With the deadline approaching for the end of analog TV, I thought I'd provide a list of sizeable American cities or counties where the forced switch to digital might make you lose most of your over-the-air TV reception.

In or near these cities, you may still get a few channels, but probably not major network affiliates. Or you may get no over-the-air TV at all:

• Allentown, PA
• Canton, OH
• Bloomington, IN
• Fayetteville, NC
• Bellingham, WA
• Flagstaff, AZ
• Pike County, KY
• Enid, OK
• Athens, GA
• Cumberland, MD
• Poughkeepsie, NY
• Mansfield, OH
• Kokomo, IN

Happy now, Bush?

Reportedly, folks who live only 15 miles from Cincinnati (a much bigger city than any of those listed) are able to get only one station via digital TV. I live 2 miles from downtown Cincinnati and am going to lose at least 2 stations that used to appear reasonably clearly.

Meanwhile, the digital converter box that many people have buyed for their TV sets has a new name that's making its way through the Internets (sic): the Bush box.

Court ends exclusive cable "rights" in apartments

Since America has become a rentership society, this ruling should have a swift but positive impact.

A federal court ruled today that cable companies can't have exclusive "rights" to cable TV service in apartment buildings. This upholds an FCC decision that outlawed these agreements as anticompetitive.

Under this ruling, new exclusive agreements can't be made, and old ones can no longer be enforced.

Kentucky law seems to already say this much - despite Kentucky lawmakers' increasing hostility to tenants in other matters.

This ruling is especially important because the government's earlier diktat to end analog TV will mean many areas will no longer be able to receive over-the-air TV at all - thus forcing folks to get cable or do without TV. At least with the new court decision, those who get cable can now get it from a different provider - if one exists.

(I can rattle off a list of mid-sized cities like Allentown, Pennsylvania, or Fayetteville, North Carolina, that will probably lose most of their over-the-air network affiliates once analog TV is forcibly shut off.)

The cable industry itself has become anticompetitive. Like the utility business in general, it thrives on monopoly.


Sonia Sotomayor nominated for Supreme Court

To replace the retiring Justice David Souter, President Obama has nominated 54-year-old Sonia Sotomayor, a New York-based federal judge.

Although Sotomayor is described as a moderate - which since the mid-'90s has usually meant conservative - she has had some bright spots. For instance, she ruled against a series of intrusive strip searches at juvenile detention centers of teenage girls who had not been charged with a crime. Thus, Sotomayor dissented from more conservative colleagues.

A bit of triv you won't see many other places: Since sometime in the Nixon years, almost every new Supreme Court Justice has been more conservative than the one they replaced. The only exception has been Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Assuming Sotomayor is confirmed, it's possible that this outrageous streak has finally been broken. But since judges aren't supposed to really have positions, it's hard to tell.

I bet I can find 100,000 people who think Facebook has too many Bush groups

For a politician who has been retired for months and who was an idiot to begin with, Bush sure does have a lot of Facebook cults following him.

Hell, Bush probably has more Facebook groups supporting him than individual supporters! I think I can count on my fingers the number of people I've met who admit voting for him - but maybe that's because I've learned the hard way to keep my distance from the type of places his followers inhabit.

I just stumbled upon the Facebook page of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend of mine. I notice that this peep happens to be a member of 4 - count 'em, 4 - pro-Bush groups that have almost the exact same name:

• "Thank you George W. Bush"
• "Thank You George Bush!!!"
• "Thank You, President George W. Bush"
• "Thank you President George W. Bush"

This isn't Facebook's fault, as any clod can start a group - and they do.

The hilarious thing about this is that the party of background noise is marginalizing itself even more by turning its attention inward to Facebook groups that nobody else reads. All they do there is shout discredited talking points at themselves.

So I'm not going to waste any more time on them - other than to point out how truly irrelevant they are, thereby discouraging other political leaders from caving to them.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Fort Thomas cannon silenced

This story is almost too frustrating for words.

I told you in December about the school system of Fort Thomas, Kentucky, threatening to abolish its tradition of firing a cannon during football games because it had one accident in 40 years.

This threat was motivated by insurance company demands. My suggestion was that the school needed to find a better insurer instead of buckling under.

I also pointed out that several students at schools in my area have had their lives wrecked by classroom accidents that were the schools' fault. Yet no insurance company ever cracked down on the schools for that.

So now what did the Fort Thomas schools do?

To meet insurers' demands, the school board is retiring the cannon after 40 years. Of course.

Obviously, the school system worships insurers. Insurer worship is their religion - and they are trying to impose it on the community. In doing so, the school system is violating the First Amendment's requirement of separation of church and state.

How much is the owner of the cannon willing to sell it for? If we can buy it, we'd like to also find property within sight of the football field so the tradition can continue.

If that doesn't work out, here's what the school should do in the fall when football starts up again. If there exists a film of any firing of the cannon, this should be used in a video clip followed by a cartoon blast and a briefcase full of money exploding.

This clip should be shown on a giant screen during halftime.

I guarantee you the crowd will erupt in cheers!


New law protects renters from greedy banks

What? There's actually new laws that protect renters? From banks, no less???

The Republican era really is over, isn't it?

President Obama signed a new housing law last week that shields tenants from banks that try to evict them after foreclosing on their landlords.

Many Americans are shocked that a nationwide safeguard like this didn't already exist. Depending on the jurisdiction, a renter might have been able to successfully fight a gluttonous bank. But this is the first time in recent memory that a federal law has protected renters from foreclosures.

Under this groundbreaking new law, if a bank forecloses on your landlord, you can't be evicted by the bank until 90 days after the end of your lease. If you have no lease, you still get 90 days.

If anything, this law doesn't go far enough. Banks that foreclose should be prohibited from evicting tenants at all, even after 90 days. If a property is sold with no foreclosure, new owners are usually bound by the old leases (if a lease exists) - but banks that foreclose are exempt from this. I think it's time to end this special privilege for banks.

Still, the new law is a vast improvement over the previous state of affairs. Until now, banks in most parts of the country didn't have to give tenants any time at all - lease be damned.

Only Free Republic regulars seem to think the new law is a step in the wrong direction.


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Local cops make another bogus arrest

This time, I wasn't the arrestee, nor was I a witness. I don't even know who was arrested or who the arresting officer is, because I wasn't there.

Yes, I may be the Mayor of Simpleton, but I know one thing, and that's that the arrest was bogus.

And one other thing is for sure: The arrest needs to be investigated. Now.

I've just been informed that the Highland Heights/Southgate police in northern Kentucky arrested a person at Newport on the Levee for third-degree trespassing.

Why is this arrest a sham? Because third-degree trespassing is not an arrestable offense under Kentucky law. You can get a citation - but it's illegal for police to arrest you for it.

Didn't authorities learn shit from the NKU case?

Even if the arrestee at Newport on the Levee is guilty, they cannot be arrested, because it was such a minor offense. They can only be ticketed.

And I can't help but have doubts about their guilt. I've also been told that police in northern Kentucky assume mall customers are trespassing if they have less than $10 in their possession. This assumption is also bogus.

What if the item they went to the mall to buy costs less than $10? Ever think of that?

Again, I wasn't there. For all I know, the arrestee at Newport on the Levee may be guilty of serious crimes they weren't even cited for. From my experience, however, one has to question what went on.

I also know Highland Heights has had its own violent crime problems. Why is that city's police being sent into Newport instead of being allowed to deal with Highland Heights issues? Sounds like a waste of valuable police resources to me.

The worst part of this story though is that the law wasn't even being followed by authorities - even after I exposed the phony trespassing arrest at NKU!

If anyone can find any proof that third-degree trespassing is arrestable under Kentucky law, I challenge them to comment here in a diplomatic, mature fashion. Otherwise, they should admit the arrest was illegal.

What's better than Bubble Yum? Making fun of a Bubble Yum commercial! (Bubble Gum Weekend)

Why is a political site talking about BUBBLE GUM???

Because it fucking bips. That's why.

You'd think I'd remember a Bubble Yum commersh from 1980. Except for those weeks around 1981 when our TV broke, my family and I peeped much of the small screen in the early '80s.

We even devised an informal ranking of the stupidest commercials. I remember a Silkience shampoo spot being #1, while a Diet Pepsi commersh was a close second.

To be fair, most commercials for any product were mighty stupid. Stupidity sells. So the ad agencies were actually geniuses.

One could also say that this Bubble Yum ad from 1980 slides down a similar knoll of silliness:

Oddly, I don't remember that commersh. But it evokes comparisons to segments in educational shows they made us watch in middle school which everyone ridiculed.

"Now yummier"? If someone buyed Bubble Yum after seeing this ad, and they thought it sucked, could they sue Bubble Yum for false advertising?

Also, the factory in this ad looks a bit like the Foundry game in Halo.

But people in the commersh bubbled.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Newt's suit


Newt Gingrich is trying to silence dissent???

Nah. Couldn't be!

But he is. Just like the little asswipe did when he was House Speaker.

Back then, he could pass laws to punish universities if they dissented. Now he just sues people.

This time, the Newter has teamed up with former Michigan GOP head Saul Anuzis to threaten a lawsuit against the holder of a Twitter account for allegedly impersonating them.

Except this person didn't impersonate them. Gingrich and Anuzis are threatening this user solely because this user supports a petition to pass the Employee Free Choice Act, which Newt and other Republicans have long despised.

If anyone seriously thinks these GOP sorryasses are being impersonated, then they have not a shred of understanding of how Twitter works.

Attorneys for Anuzis and Gingrich also say this account is violating RICO and trespassing laws.

Hahaha, trespassing laws??? Get a grip, jizzchops.

Is this anything like how NKU cried "trespassing!"?

If I was the judge who had to hear Newt's lawsuit, Gingrich, Anuzis, and their attorneys would be fined back to the Shit Age for filing a frivolous suit.


Schwarzenegger steps up war on poor

He really is the Terminator, isn't he?

If you thought the class warriors had gotten their inner turmoil out of their system during the Contract With America, then you don't know just how much indignation they manage to fit into their heads.

Even today, it continues under California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Now the governor plans to completely abolish welfare, medical insurance for poor kids, and college tuition assistance.

The excuse is that these cuts would help ease the state's budget deficit. Yet handouts to big corporations and tax breaks for the very rich continue unabated. Right-wingers of every faction also waste taxpayer money every time they throw a fit about things not going their way and expect state dollars to be spent soothing them.

Furthermore, the prison industry is so big in California that it gets billions of dollars a year. If the state needs to cut something, why not that?

And Schwarzenegger gave his cronies patronage jobs paying 6-digit salaries!

So this budget excuse is just that. An excuse.

Is Grover Norquist secretly advising the governor?


South Carolina guv: Laws? What laws?

Let's suppose you're the governor of your state. And let's suppose the legislature passed a law requiring you to do something you disagreed with. What would you do?

Why, you'd probably obey the law.

But that's because you're not Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina - a big Republican. He thinks laws are just (to use Bush's words) "damn pieces of paper."

Recently, South Carolina lawmakers passed a law directing Sanford to ask for stimulus money to soften school budget woes.

But Sanford has announced that he's going to ignore this new law.

Lovely. South Carolina has a governor who not only breaks laws but brags about it in plain sight.

What's more, the law is needed to avoid firing teachers and raising college tuition. So by disobeying the law, Mark Sanford isn't even acting in the public's interests!

Can't they impeach him?

This follows Sanford filing a frivolous lawsuit against the legislature because it dared to override his veto of this law.

Mark Sanford has truly established himself as one of the biggest clowns in American politics today.


Friday, May 22, 2009

Freeper makes penis "joke" (more Freeper Madness)

Free Republic regulars hate a lot of things.

They hate every recent Democratic presidential nominee. They hate Green Day. They hate "the liberals."

They hate most everything - but they love Pepsi Light! Actually, they probably hate even that!

Because Freepers hate poor people, I'm sure I've already exposed them for this fascism.

Freepers also hate gays, and their hatred of gays emerges in weird ways. You can't help but be in awe, because Freepers can be quite colorful in their invective.

So it's impossible to resist an entry about it here. Impossible, I tell ya! Referring to a gay rights organization that sued over church officials' inability to follow IRS rules, a Freeper urged:

"Even better, file the same suit against them on the grounds that they worship penises and hence are a religious group."

Bwuhuhuhuhuhuhuh. A Feeper maked a funny.

I'm laughing alright, but only at the Freepers for thinking that's humorous.

I bet comedy clubs aren't doing such great business, as long as everyone can read Free Republic. But I guarantee you, everyone is laughing at Free Republic - not with Free Republic.

Google thinks Malkin is a "news" source!

Right-wing commentator Michelle Malkin founded a website called Hot Air. At first, its fans tried to pass it off as a competitor to YouTube that didn't reflexively buckle under to bogus DMCA complaints.

But that's a bunch of, well, hot air, for Hot Air appears to be nothing but another right-wing site like so many others.

Hot Air carries headlines from other sites (including mainstream papers) under the words, "We pick, you click." This is fitting, as Hot Air seems to act as a portal to run only articles that it wants you to see.

One gets the sinking feeling that Google News has become like that as well.

After I exposed the fact that Google News doesn't run stories from left-wing sites but picks up editorials from such explicitly conservative sites as the misnamed National Right to Work Foundation, I've noticed more right-wing Google News favoritism.

Today, my Google News feed included an article from (drum roll, please) Hot Air. This article was some rambling nutball editorial by some nobody using the handle Doctor Zero. The piece advocated privatizing the education system, cited a discredited report from a quarter-century ago, and demanded an unconstitutional federal work-for-less law.

That's Google's idea of "news."

Everyone uses Google for something or other, and Google has quite an innovative business model. But obviously, some right-wing operative is in charge of Google News. So one has to ask: Is there any similar news service that doesn't have a right-wing bias?

"Zero tolerance" fascists at it again

You'd think the "zero tolerance" fascism that defines America's schools these days would subside.

For one thing, that would be progress, you see. For another, the "zero tolerance" thought guardians have gotten enough bad press that you'd think they'd stop because of that. Further, you'd think the lawsuits would be mounting by now. Then again, schools know how to browbeat people into not suing.

At Linton Middle School in Penn Hills, Pennsylvania, the right-wing extremists who call themselves school officials have recommended expulsion for a student who had eyebrow clippers in her handbag. She has been suspended, and may be expelled through the first part of next school year.

The eyebrow trimmer was discovered during a random search of the handbag.

Schools are doing random searches of handbags now? That's enough of a reason right there to pretty much declare the American school system has boned its shark.

Why do I get the feeling that some school officials in that district are idiots? Not all are, but certainly some are.

Sooner or later, there's got to be a lawsuit against schools over their right-wing "zero tolerance" policies. This bullshit can't go on forever.


Church violating IRS rules?

Let's get this crystal clear: I've long supported organized labor and opposed corporate power. But my description as a populist seems to scare away a few who have been misled to believe that this label was devised as a shield for bigotry.

Nothing can be further from the truth - for I have no reason to support bigotry of any form. Quite the contrary, I'm rather tired of some individuals standing in the way of efforts to make sure people are treated fairly. Progress is what it is, and if you want to stick with the losing side of history, please don't pull everyone else down with you.

Peep this story out of Maine. After Maine legalized gay marriage, Maine's Catholic diocese is now collecting signatures for a referendum to overturn this act.

Let me be clear again: Leave it alone now.

But there's another issue in play here that's just as serious: There have been complaints that the diocese is violating IRS tax regulations for nonprofits by engaging in political activity.

And these complaints are valid.

Let me spell it out for you: The. Diocese. Is. Violating. Tax. Rules. End of story. I don't know to what extent it's gone on already, but I don't think there's much doubt that the Church is violating tax rules now.

What's sad is that it violates tax rules over THIS, of all things! The IRS rules are the IRS rules, I know, but if the Church wanted to challenge IRS regulations, why didn't it pick a better issue?

After the discovery that the Catholic Church was running abusive reform schools in Ireland for 100 years, it sounds like the Church has more important things to worry about than gay marriage. An organization should confront its own problems instead of interfering in everyone else's private lives (especially since America is supposed to have separation of church and state).


Wal-Mart won't carry the most popular CD in the land

Corporate power = censorship.

Just as sure as Big Business has been a major defender of discriminatory policies, it's also a threat to the free exchange of ideas and art. (Fusion fascism!)

This is now being illustrated again, this time by Wal-Mart's attempt to decide for us what lyrics we should find acceptable in music.

The most popular album in the country according to the latest Billboard 200 chart is '21st Century Breakdown', the newest offering by Green Day. But if the only store in your town is Wal-Mart, forget about being able to buy this work.

Wal-Mart demanded that Green Day censor lyrics on its latest album. But the band refused. So the retail giant opted not to sell it at all.

I'm not saying a store is legally obliged to sell a CD it hates. But I have a right to object to Wal-Mart's belief that it's qualified to make decisions for me about what lyrics are "appropriate" (even if Wal-Mart is within its legal rights not to sell the album).

See how that works, Wal-Fart? It's a two-way street, you know.

What I object to even more is perks and handouts by cities and towns that have enabled Wal-Mart to establish a monopoly. So folks in these towns can't even buy the music they love!

America has become a Wal-Mart fiefdom.


Bill would protect service flags

This weekend, be sure to remember what Memorial Day is all about.

A condominium association near Canton, Ohio, had a policy that outraged the families of America's fighting men and women. This policy forbade residents from displaying Gold Star or Blue Star flags to honor family members who served in war.

But now Rep. John Boccieri (D-Ohio) has introduced a bill that would prevent condo or homeowners' associations from prohibiting service flags.

This is also shaping up to be another battle against residential associations' irrational, illogical dictates, which affect Americans of almost every economic class.



Let's be honest: Breitbart is a trap.

Even respectable sites have linked to stories on the Breitbart website - which often carries articles from mainstream sources like the AP.

But Breitbart isn't what it appears at first glance.

It's actually a portal for its founder, Andrew Breitbart, a right-wing commentator for Sun Myung Moon's Washington Times.

Mr. Breitbart's own tirades are illogical, but they can be colorful. For instance, he complained that left-leaning entertainment celebs had gone to the "stinky side."

Even though it features mainstream articles, using Breitbart as a news portal can be hazardous to the free flow of ideas, as its blog links are almost exclusively right-wing. As a portal, one assumes the site can also control what articles from mainstream sources appear.

For example, Breitbart was instrumental in coddling an MSNBC operative's unsuccessful attempt to debunk the story of how Sarah Palin didn't know Africa is a continent.

And the AP partners with this site?

So watch your sources carefully, folks. Breitbart is little more than a glorified Drudge Report (another site Mr. Breitbart has been involved with).

It's amazing how The Last Word has been around longer than Breitbart or Drudge Report, yet the pop-up media never cites The Last Word as it does with Drudge and Breitbart.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Radio again proves it's irrelevant

The Cincinnati folks who read this blog might know about the format change today, and probably some of you are thinking, "Finally, an '80s-based music station!"

Well, let me put it this way: There's nothing to see here, folks.

The new '80s-based format on 94.9 seems to have a playlist of only about 8 songs, and its execution has been a comedy of errors so far. My record collection would have far more variety than 94.9 does, even just using '70s or '80s songs that were hits when they were new.

Besides, 94.9 switches formats so often now that I wouldn't be surprised if this format is gone by the end of the year.

And the radio industry wonders why its audience is declining.

Some of you are asking what happened to the country format that used to be on 94.9. Reportedly, it moved back to 97.3, though I haven't bothered to check. Apparently, the rock format that was on 97.3 is gone altogether.

Not like anyone cared about either one of those stations anymore, after radio made itself irrelevant.

Even the major FM stations are in worse shape than most AM stations were in 15 years ago. Radio was a medium that could have adapted, but it didn't. Instead it kept demanding government privileges like the 1996 Telecommunications Act and raids against competitors. Well, a hell of a lot of good that did, huh?

Utility violated Clean Air Act

Charlotte-based Duke Energy has a monopoly on electric power in Cincinnati and other areas. Locals know of Duke's woes.

Now a federal jury has found Dook guilty of violating the Clean Air Act when it made changes at an Indiana power plant that significantly increased air pollution.

Jurors said Duke did not obtain the required permits, and that the changes increased the plant's sulfur dioxide output.

I guess Duke Energy thought it was above the law, seeing how it didn't even bother to obtain permits it needed.

It's unknown what penalty looms for Duke. Luckily, Indiana isn't under the 9th U.S. Circuit, which likes to absolve corporations of any responsibility for anything. (This despite conservatives' claims that the 9th Circus is too liberal.) So I'm sure there will be at least a heavy fine.


Obama ends another Bush diktat


If the past 4 months are going to be remembered fondly for one thing, it's going to be the slow but sure stop stick against the Bush bulldozer of unitary rule.

President Obama has reversed several illegal Bush fiats already, and now he's reversing another. This time, Obama is reversing Bush's ukase that illegally used federal regulations to limit injured consumers' ability to sue companies in state courts.

The Bush policy was part of his campaign of preemption: using federal dictates to trump states' rights, even though the Constitution gave such powers to the states, not the federal government. Ironically, Bush misused health and safety regulations to do this. In other words, health and safety rules were being cited to make people less safe and to deprive injured parties of the right to seek a remedy.

Often, the Bush regime's argument went like this: If a federal regulation said a product was safe, that was evidence of its absolute safety, which thus absolved the product's maker of any liability.

For that alone, Bush was a total scuzzmouth.

What was the point in dividing the country into states, if Bush wouldn't even let people seek remedies under state laws?

Thank you, President Obama. The Bush era has come to a close, and we need to drive a sharp stick into everything Bush did, so Bush's policies never come back.


National 21 comes to credit cards

Yes, I know, I should be strongly supporting any legislation to rein in credit card companies. But when you start encroaching on adults' personal choices, I have to take issue.

The new credit card reform bill that's about to become law contains a very irritating provision that's going to have to be confronted.

Under the new law, adults who are at least 18 but younger than 21 who want a credit card will now have to first prove than they can repay credit card expenses or get their mommy and daddy to pay it.

Um, these are grown men and women we're talking about. Eighteen is an adult. End of story. No statute anywhere in the world can possibly change that.

Americans between 18 and 21 can be killed in a war, but they can no longer get a credit card without their parents' permission?

In case anyone asks, I also think the drinking age should be lowered to 18. The national 21 drinking age seems to have influenced later efforts to deprive young adults of rights that they long enjoyed. Those who'd deny these rights try backing up their stances with tired canards and junk science.

There's also some concern that the new law will induce banks to raise fees on other services to make up for the "loss" caused by the limits on confiscatory credit card charges. Because banks think they have a "right" to a certain profit margin, you see. I think there's going to have to be another law, this one to limit bank fees.

Other than these glaring complaints that are going to have to be addressed, this isn't a bad bill in the least bit. Credit card companies are out of control, and someone needed to clamp down. But I think the states are going to have to pass laws to remedy the flaws of this bill.


Maine lawmakers think corporations have rights

The minions of the GOP/DLC oligopoly have long wanted corporations to be considered people. But dammit, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison spoiled it for them with all that Bill of Rights business that only protects human rights, not corporate rights.

Nonetheless, Maine legislators remain undeterred!

Recently, Democratic Rep. Alan Casavant offered a sensible bill that would have let cities and towns adopt laws that would bar corporations from being considered people.

But because lawmakers have corporations swimming around in their pockets and caressing their naughty bits, this bill didn't pass. Indeed, the Maine House voted 124 to 23 to reject the bill. Sounds like the Kentucky legislature, doesn't it?

Rep. Stephen Beaudette adopted the DLC party line. "This is so obviously unconstitutional," he said of the bill.

Uh, no. Corporations have no constitutional rights. None.

Corporations being considered people goes against everything a democratic republic is all about. If anything should be considered unconstitutional, it's corporate personhood.

America has become a corporate fiefdom. Not only are corporations given rights that are supposed to be accorded to people. Now that corporations can influence a city to seize residential neighborhoods to be turned over for private development, corporations are actually given more rights than people.

I think it's time for a constitutional amendment to strip corporate personhood. Then maybe we can clear up the constitutional questions for good.


Abusive church reform schools blasted in report

America has no monopoly on abusive facilities for children.

Officials in Ireland have now released a 2,600-page report detailing decades of abuse in reform schools and orphanages run by the Catholic Church.

The abuse in these tax-supported but Church-run facilities included rapes, beatings, and other acts. The investigation also unearthed Vatican records that prove the Church knew about pedophiles in its ranks as long ago as the 1930s but wouldn't do anything about them.

These institutions also exploited child labor. One survivor says she was raised in an orphanage where children were forced to manufacture rosaries and were then beaten or raped.

The Church said it would continue to shield the identities of clergy members responsible for abuse. In fact, the Christian Brothers, a Catholic order that ran some of the schools, sued to keep their identities unnamed in the report.

Some young people spent years in Church-run reform schools for offenses as minor as truancy.

Maybe someday, U.S. officials will finally release a detailed report about abuse by America's teen confinement racket.


Woman contracts flesh-eating bacteria in hospital

Several years ago, a woman had to have her arms and legs amputated after contracting flesh-eating bacteria at a hospital.

This didn't happen in some faraway, remote land. It happened in America.

In 2005, a woman went to South Seminole Hospital in Longwood, Florida, to give birth to her son. She contracted the bacteria there. She said, "I woke up from surgery and I had no arms and no legs."

The health care company wouldn't even tell her what happened - apparently to cover for its own irresponsibility. This violated state law.

Now she's settled a lawsuit for an undisclosed sum.

Some physicians won't even hospitalize patients, because of the risk of the patient getting sicker at the hospital, due to the pandemic of infections that plague American health care facilities these days.

If I ever have to be hospitalized, it may be best if it happens during an international vacation. Unless the American health care system is reformed, one takes a huge risk these days just by entering an American hospital.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

More Washington Times fail

The only function of Sun Myung Moon's Washington Times seems to be to provide right-wing talking points to spread elsewhere. The paper's circulation numbers have always been dismal, but it makes up for that in influence.

It's amazing that any paper founded by a right-wing tax cheat and cult leader would be regarded as credible by anyone, but you have to remember that this is the same planet where Free Republic was practically allowed to dictate coverage of the Bush National Guard memos.

Last week, the Timesies may have hit a new low, when it ran a photo of President Obama's daughters with a story about murdered Chicago children. The Obama children are not mentioned in the story, and the story has nothing to do with them, other than the fact that they lived in Chicago.

That's like if a paper ran a story about Jim Bunning abusing the nonprofit status of his "charity" and ran my photo with it.

Washington Times editor John Solomon blamed this bizarre subliminal juxtaposition on a computer - which is as bad as when the assistant principal in middle school blamed a computer when I ended up in classes that were too hard.

Uh, John? As editor of the Times, aren't you supposed to stop stuff like this from happening?

Of course, the Timesies did this on purpose, so I didn't believe the computer excuse anyway.

The Secret Service should be looking into this pronto.

Incidentally, John Solomon was exposed here before for his right-wing hackery - which dates back to his partisan hit pieces he did when he was with the AP.


Teacher strike suppressed; civil disobedience breaks out

Let's get this clear: Under almost all circumstances, the government has no right to intervene against a labor strike.

This right of workers to strike is ironclad.

But working Americans have been forced to learn the hard way what Allowed Clouds are all about. The Taft-Hartley Act is perhaps the most venomous Allowed Cloud of all, as it attempts to gut the right to strike.

Recently, a court barred teachers in Los Angeles from going on strike to protest school budget cuts. This order was unlawful, of course, but who's counting?

After this order, teachers planned on missing work last Friday anyway and engaging in a protest at the school district's main office. But the school system declared that any instructor who left campus would be in violation of the court's order.

The school system also threatened to strip the teachers of their teaching licenses if they went on strike.

Accounts of exactly what happened vary, but it's clear to me that the teachers had every reason to go on strike. It's also clear that taking away their teaching credentials for going on strike would be political retaliation.

It's not unreasonable to think the Department of Labor should intervene on the teachers' behalf. But as workplace abuses amassed for years under Bush with no consequences, the Labor Department already has its work cut out for it, so we can't expect a resolution overnight.


BTPer files frivolous suit

We've established that the recent Tea Parties were organized by idiots, but now it's becoming even more obvious just how out of touch they are with this planet.

Here's the background. It seems that someone has set up a blog ridiculing the Tea Parties:

I didn't know about this blog until just a few days ago. As the pop-up media has cheered the Tea Parties, dissenting blogs haven't received any coverage that I know of.

Anybip, that blog is now the target of a libel suit in small claims court by some nobody named Michael Leahy. Leahy helped start a right-wing Twitter account and is heavily involved with the Tea Parties.

Leahy's complaint is that the blog exposed the fact that he has several tax liens and suggested that this may be a sign that he is a tax cheat.

Note that the blog doesn't come right out and call him a tax fraud. The blog is merely speculating.

Although Michael Leahy isn't even famous enough to receive a Wikipedia article (unlike a writer of the same name), he has chosen to place himself in the public eye by helping organize so many political activities. So it's not unfair for a blog to speculate on whether having multiple tax liens makes him a tax cheat.

In other words, Leahy has no case.

I think Michael Leahy is just trying to suppress criticism. This is almost certainly a SLAPP suit, and the court needs to come down hard on him.

The Far Right has a history of trying to silence critics. We've seen it in the NKU arrest, and we're seeing it now. The free flow of ideas is alien to them.


Heeeyyy yooouuu Grover! ('Sesame Street' Wednesday)

Few (if any) installments of this feature have dealt with lovable, furry Grover - the gangly blue monster of 'Sesame Street' fame.

According to his biographers, Grover was born into humble beginnings in Elko, Nevada, in 1929, before moving to New York at an early age. He barely learned to read or how to use a map, and he lived with his mommy well past the age at which he should have retired.

But Grover's a workaholic, and retire he shall never do. We've seen him working as a waiter, a professor, a farmer, a nose warmer salesman, and many other occupations.

He even made a guest appearance on another children's show, 'The Electric Company', after getting lost one day back in 1972:

Is it just my imagination, or does Crank actually mutter "shit!" under his breath when he finds out Vi is out of the soup of the day?

It's also worth noting that Crank's voice sounds exactly like Peter Griffin of 'Family Guy'.

Grover's neighborhood seems to be infamous throughout the city. When he mentions that he lives on a street that has an 8-foot-tall bird walking around, you can almost hear Vi trying to hold back laughter. Crank bursts out in helpless guffawing when they figure out Grover lives on Sesame Street.

Grover is cool.

An epidemic of medical errors

According to the official party line, the American medical system is superior because it is. Government intervention in health care is bad because it is.

But this story should dash those tired fibs.

The nonprofit Consumers Union says preventable medical mistakes now kill over 100,000 Americans every year.

The group says this follows legislators' failure to enact patient safety measures recommended by a 1999 Institute of Medicine study.

The government has had 10 years to fix the problem and instead sat on its hands?

If a glaucoma patient legally uses marijuana prescribed by a doctor to treat their condition, the DEA is knocking on their door within the week. But when health care providers make deadly mistakes in the name of satisfying their profit margin, the government calls that the "free market."

At the same time, the American health care system is the most expensive in the world. Has all this expense made anyone safer?

Errors cited in the study include giving patients the wrong drugs or the wrong dosage. I've mentioned before that patients have even had the wrong organs removed or have been forced to wait too long before being treated. I've also discussed how hospitals have failed to contain superbugs - which now run rampant in American health care facilities.

Our health care system has become one of greed and carnage.


Debunkin' Duncan

Let's get this clear: School isn't being run with you in mind, kids. At least not in the good ol' U.S. and A.

I know that when I was in high school (the first part at least), I practically had no life at all, because I spent almost all of my waking hours at school or working on school assignments. Every single thing I did was because school said so - and it was all for nothing.

What kind of life is that?

If it was that bad 20 years ago, think what it would be like now.

The American school system does not care whether you acquire useful knowledge or skills. It cares only about how well you can follow arbitrary rules and conform to the system. Let's get that cleared up before we go any further.

So Education Secretary Arne Duncan looked awfully silly when he expected to be taken seriously when he advocated that kids spend even more time in school.

Now Duncan's claim is pretty much discredited - by an Associated Press analysis, of all things!

That doesn't mean our schools are great. They're worse than they were in my day.

Often, America's schools are contrasted with other countries in the amount of time students spend in school. Take South Korea, for instance. Duncan has cited South Korea as one of the standards that the United States should follow.

Well, Arne, maybe we should - because the AP finds that South Korean kids actually spend less time in school than their American counterparts. While South Korea has more school days, the average American 8th-grader spends 1,146 hours in school a year, compared to only 923 hours in South Korea.

It turns out the United States has more school hours than just about anywhere.

If that time was used wisely, and if students were allowed to work at their own pace, it wouldn't be such a tragedy. Just think what could be accomplished! But we can't have that, I guess. It would make too much sense.

Some folks have suggested that Arne Duncan is actually the worst appointee to Obama's Cabinet - worse even than Robert Gates or Ray LaHood. People have come to this conclusion after visiting Chicago schools (which Duncan ran) and finding that they now resemble harsh boot camps.

(At least Chicago doesn't have a districtwide uniform policy, in case you're wondering. I checked the Chicago student handbook, and it says that even in schools that require uniforms, the only penalty for violators is possible exclusion from extracurricular activities. So it wouldn't have affected me one bit, luckily.)

Sooner or later, we have to put the facts out there, and then maybe the standards push can finally be reframed. Right now, however, the major parties don't have the political will.


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Politicians' demagoguery may cost innocents

Here's the future of Pennsylvania:

1) A person loses their job and applies for unemployment benefits.

2) Person is told they need a state-issued ID before getting benefits. But they don't have it because their wallet or purse was stolen.

3) Person tries replacing the ID, but this requires a Social Security card.

4) Person tries getting their Social Security card, but this requires a birth certificate.

5) Person tries getting their birth certificate, but this requires the ID - which was stolen.

6) Go back to step #3. Repeat and rinse.


Because the Republican-led Pennsylvania Senate recently passed a bill to implement these steps just to make it harder to receive much-needed benefits.

But the poor or unemployed - who need benefits more - are more likely to lack an ID in the first place.

Why did senators pass this bill? Republican Sen. Joseph Scarnati says his bill is designed to target undocumented immigrants. But the rules that were in place before the bill passed already did that! Scarnati has failed to produce any instance of an undocumented immigrant receiving public benefits in Pennsylvania.

Yet he sticks by his excuses. He thinks that'll get him votes, I guess.

The only thing this bill will accomplish is making it much, much harder for citizens to get benefits. But politicians don't care about that.

The only American place that already has a rule like this in force is Colorado. But a year after it passed, Colorado reported that it had spent millions of taxpayer dollars to implement it but could not find one instance of it saving any money.

But I guess that doesn't matter when making political hay is more important, huh?


"Best interests" not always so

One of the scariest phrases to hear is being told by some lofty professional that something is in your "best interests" - when you have no power to fight it.

If someone has cancer, I have little doubt that treatment that may save their life is the best option. But this raises serious ethical questions in a Minnesota case that's been in the news lately.

A 13-year-old boy who has Hodgkin's lymphoma is refusing radiation and chemotherapy even though doctors believe it will save his life. The boy's parents agree with his stance. They stopped chemo after one treatment and switched to alternative medicine.

Chemo and radiation are very hard on patients. It's easy to see why patients of any age might resist it.

Should doctors make an effort to make sure the boy gets treated? I believe so - but certain actions ought to be considered out of bounds right from the start.

One medical ethics expert said that if he refuses chemo or radiation, he could be placed in restraints.

Is putting him in restraints ethical? I don't think so.

Few things would be as undignified for a young person of that age as being placed in restraints in the name of medicine. It doesn't matter what anyone says about it being in his "best interests."

If anyone suggests putting him in restraints, they clearly don't have his "best interests" in mind. Putting a patient in restraints in the name of medical treatment is a cop-out that would be employed only by someone who isn't creative enough to find a better option.

In addition, the boy might be taken from his parents if he refuses chemo, and placed in state custody. This idea should also be nixed, especially considering his age.

Activist judges on the Minnesota Supreme Court made it legal for parents to beat their kids senseless. At the same time, a young cancer patient may be taken from his parents just to be placed in restraints. State officials sure love it when kids suffer, don't they?

"Best interests" has become a phrase that brings instant despair to many who hear it.