Friday, July 31, 2009

Let's all celebrate and have a good time!

I hate to gloat, but it's just now sinking in how great the closure of the Pathway Family Center cult is!

Sorry, but I lied. I love to gloat, as long as PFC's closure is what I'm gloating about! Pathwaste has earned every bit of ridicule it gets.

If you run a cult that allows innocent young people to be abused for years on end, you pay the consequences.

Even the Cincinnati media isn't completely ignoring the story this time:

How should you react when an abusive program that's operated with almost no limits for nearly 30 years just suddenly closes right before your eyes? It's almost numbing.

But believe me: There's another teen confinement cult locally on deck still to be closed. And it's going down just like PFC did.

What? 2 positive stories about Congress in one day?

This has to be a first, huh?

Today, House leaders promised a vote soon not just on health care reform but on an honest-to-goodness single payer health care system - which is perhaps the best reform that could be made.

Lawmakers who support single payer were utterly floored that leaders even allowed them a vote.

Will single payer pass? If the Democrats want to prove they're not still dominated by the DLC, this is their chance.


Programmies whimper and cry

I guess Pathway Family Center has decided to go out not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Someone on another website posted what is reported to be an e-mail from PFC staffers confirming the program's long-awaited closure. Apparently it was written before July 17. It reads in part:

"It has been said that change is inevitable. It is with great sadness that we need to announce that Pathway Family Center is closing its doors. We have worked hard to serve families and teens and to offer the best service possible but the economic climate has forced us to make this difficult decision."

Blaming the economy again???

Nope, it was the negative publicity. Not Jimmy Carter or whoever PFC feels like blaming today.

The e-mail's last paragraph reads:

"Thank you for the opportunity of serving you. The final open meeting with [sic] be held on Friday, July 17th at the Indianapolis center."

Bye, Pathwaste. And good riddance.

But don't think by any means that our work is completely done. There are other bad programs out there (though PFC was one of the largest in this region). I will do my best to expose the abuse inherent in the failed model that pervades "the industry" - until "the industry" is out of business altogether.

PFC collapsed Tuesday. It's gone.

Well, folks, it's finally over for Pathway Family Center.

It's gone. No more. Finished. Kaput. History.

They just said it on (brrrrring) Channel 9!

And it was all happening Tuesday just as I was writing about the fact that this gulag had been evicted from its Indianapolis location. PFC lost its last building and its revenue stream generated by new recruits, and now this cult realizes its time is up - so they've had no choice but to call it quits.

One still wonders what happened to the hundreds of thousands of dollars PFC raised in northwestern Indiana, where it shut its facility almost as quickly as it opened.

PFC likes to blame the bad economy for all of its closures - which have occurred only in the past 10 months. But when was the last time America had a good economy? Make no mistake: Pathway Family Center was done in by negative publicity. The facts came out about PFC, so nobody wanted to patronize it any longer. Simple.

I'm proud to say I was a part of the roadside rallies against PFC, but I don't deserve all the credit. Others had been protesting the center for years before. As protests were stepped up over the past 2 years, these rallies contributed to the closure of a program that had been in existence since around the time Reagan took office (if you count PFC-related programs like Kids Helping Kids).

Best of all, it appears as if anyone who was recently confined at PFC is home now - at long last. And that's where they'll stay - as long as PFC doesn't try to place them in a different program. Luckily, many of the kids trapped at PFC knew there were folks on the outside working to close the program. If only kids in every program knew they had such support.

Also, it's important to never take our eye off the ball. We'll have to keep one eye on the situation to make sure PFC doesn't come back in any form. Kind of like the Republicans' political prospects.

If abusive programs become much more widespread than they have been, it's a certain route to any society's collapse.

Pathwaste's closure is indeed a pivotal event for America's youth. PFC is R.I.P.

Congress finally listens

It looks like Congress has finally donned its listening nose.

Today, the House voted 237 to 185 to limit pay for Wall Street executives - after numerous banks that got bailout money wasted these handouts on bonuses for execs.

This legislation is actually a more progressive plan than even the Obama administration has been advocating.

The vote immediately followed the discovery by New York's Attorney General Andrew Cuomo that banks awarded almost 5,000 bonuses of at least $1,000,000 even while they accepted bailout dough.


Shrinks cry foul over ruined Rorschach

Everything about the Rorschach test screams junk science.

Yes, I'm talking about those inkblots that psychiatrists always show to patients. The test generates bogus conclusions about patients based on their responses to each symmetrical blot. (I plan on going into more detail about this in my next book.)

I'm absolutely floored to discover this test is still being used in 2009.

But now folks in the psychiatric industry are furious because someone on Wikipedia posted the most common answers to each of the 10 inkblots.

The complaint isn't on copyright grounds. The copyrights on the blots have expired in both the United States and Switzerland - the country where the test's creator hailed from.

Their real complaint is that they think posting the answers spoils the test - like blabbing the answers to a high school exam.

"The only winners seem to be those for whom this issue has become personal, and who see this as a game in which victory means having their way," whined one self-styled professional. "Just don't pretend you are doing anything other than harming scientific research."

They think the Rorschach test is science?

The tone of that remark sounds like that of a shrink who was mad because a patient had caught on to their bullshit.

What's amazing is that any professional still cares enough about the Rorschach test to not want its answers revealed. This test was outdated in my generation, and it's downright antiquated now.


Right-wing lobbyist forges letters to congressman

Last month, when the American Clean Energy and Security Act was being considered by the House, Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Virginia) received at least 6 letters that appeared to be from organizations in his district opposing the bill.

But now it turns out that all of these letters are hoaxes. They were not-so-clever forgeries that tried to make it appear that these groups were against the proposed legislation.

These letters appeared to be from the local NAACP chapter and from a Hispanic organization called Creciendo Juntos. They even used the groups' logos.

But the letters were phony. In fact, the NAACP says that it supported the very bill that the letter opposed.

It turns out that at least one of the letters came from someone employed by Bonner & Associates, a conservative Washington lobbying firm with a history of opposing climate change legislation and prescription drug bills. This lobbying firm has been employed by major corporations like Pfizer.

The other letters were faxed from a D.C.-area company, but this firm said that at least 60 employees have fax machine access.

If we can find out which Bonner & Associates lobbyist was also employed by the other firm, we've got our culprit.

You do realize that the fact that one of the letters was sent through the mail constitutes mail fraud, don't you? And you do realize that the rest were wire fraud, right? I hope whoever is behind this hoax is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.


Health "reform", GOP style

When conservatives start talking "reform", look out.

We've all seen what their welfare "reform" has done. If we let the Republican right do to health care "reform" what they've done to America's working poor, we might as well just all pack it in.

Now the Republicans are offering an "alternative" health care "reform" plan. "Alternative" of course is another oft-abused buzzword. It's like how they call year-round school an "alternative" calendar. It's like calling Warm 98 an alternative rock station.

The main feature of the GOP plan? It would deregulate insurance companies almost entirely. It would also gut state laws that regulate insurers. Insurance giants would be allowed to operate with no oversight whatsoever.

To them, that's "reform."

Brings a whole new meaning to "states' rights for me, not for thee." Republican extremists like Rick Perry keep trying to pull their states out of Democratic health reforms - yet they support foisting Republican "reforms" on states that don't want them.

The GOP plan doesn't have much chance of passing now - but keep this entry handy as a reminder of what passes for "reform" in their minds, lest it appear that they may ever regain power.

A neat idea to fund health reform!

Early this month, a surtax on the very rich was proposed to help pay for health care reform.

This proposal is fair. But with the DLC/GOP two-headed hydra gumming things up as usual, you can't count on it ever becoming a reality.

So now a new proposal is being bandied about. This one would slap a hefty tax on cosmetic surgery, to pay for reforms.

I'm not talking about surgery for people disfigured by injury or illness. These surgeries are generally not considered cosmetic. I'm talking about facelifts for the 90-year-old socialite who tries to look 20 again.

Procedures that are unnecessary and strictly cosmetic should be taxed. When I buy a snack, it's taxed. When you buy a book, it's taxed. And where does this money go? None of this seems to go to health care. Shouldn't luxuries be taxed in order to pay for a valuable program?

This plan is so simple that I should have proposed it first. It's the type of thing I would have publicly advocated 15 years ago - but I've spent later years being force-fed endless diatribes about how rough the rich have it, so I figured I better not bring it up.

Meanwhile, I'm still seeing tirades from trust fund babies complaining that public health systems like that in Britain won't cover cosmetic dentistry for them.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

ThinkTV replaced by StinkTV

Time Warner has a monopoly on cable TV in most of the Ohio side of the Cincinnati metropolitan region.

WPTO (Channel 14) is a local PBS affiliate - ThinkTV, it calls itself. WPTO is in the Cincinnati market, so cable companies in Cincinnati are required by federal regulations to carry it. WPTO also has signal limitations that prevent it from being seen over-the-air in much of the market.

So the "must carry" regulation is of clear benefit to Channel 14 and its viewers. There's also no argument that Time Warner must, must, MUST carry WPTO - by law.

So what does Time Warner do? It drops WPTO, of course.

When you see what Time Warner replaces it with, you're going to want to drive the point of a drawing compass through your eye: They're replacing it with (drum roll, please) Home Shopping Network.


Many viewers say Channel 14 is one of few channels that's even worth watching anymore. Almost everything else is garbage.

Replacing a station full of educational shows with yet another home shopping channel is a disgrace. Time Warner gets its monopoly from government officials. Since they awarded Time Warner with this monopoly, they need to prohibit it from removing ThinkTV.


Hospital exposes patients to fatal brain disease

Someone needs to relate this story to the Virginia Foxxes and Richard Shelbys who insist the American health care system is perfect.

A hospital in Wisconsin may have carelessly exposed 53 patients to a rare but fatal brain disease by using contaminated surgical instruments.

The illness - Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease - is incurable and always deadly. One variant of it is of course the feared mad cow disease.

Did the hospital use the same instruments on 53 patients in a row without sterilizing them? I thought sterilization was one of the most basic steps of modern medicine. If sterilization is ineffective for Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, why did it keep using these instruments at all?

Until now, there have reportedly been only 2 instances in the entire history of the world (and none since before 1976) of a person being infected with this illness with contaminated surgical instruments.

Smooth move, American health care system.


Homeland Security behind racist messages

Now that the Department of Homeland Suckyurity has been caught making racist Internet posts, is this an outrage? Certainly.

A surprise? Hardly.

After the Wayne County Star in upstate New York reported that border officials had detained several immigrants, the newspaper found its website vandalized by heaps and heaps of inflammatory posts in its public comment section. Many of these posts were downright racist. Others made personal attacks against the journalist who reported the story.

The paper traced several of these posts to IP addresses that just happened to belong to Homeland Suckyurity. Then the paper discovered other incendiary DHS posts dating back at least as far as last year.

If it was just 3 posts within a few minutes of each other about the same topic, this would at minimum be a case of a DHS employee abusing computers at work.

But the posts date back at least to last year, came from several different DHS computers, and appeared following several different articles. So it's obvious that this was an official government effort.

None of this is surprising. Bush put countless right-wing patronage employees on the federal payroll. And this is what they do. They use their positions for propaganda projects like this.

When you see a comment section of a newspaper website freeped with right-wing diatribes, don't discount the possibility that it's an organized project by a government agency to manipulate public opinion.


Media moguls boast of "free" Internet's end

Media execs got together at a conference in Pasadena last week. Neckties flowed, and caviar was probably chomped.

The point of this shinding for the elite? It was to talk about how the Internets (sic) isn't the free medium that they think that we think it is.

One media head honcho said of the ol' 'Net, "It is not free, and is not going to be." They bragged that anyone who uses the Internet is soon going to have to pay for every website they use.

Well, guess what? We're already paying for it. What do you think we pay $20 to $50 a month for? Cosmetic surgery? I should think not.

These wealthy media companies used to have to pay for radio and TV licenses and pay to fight for space on the TV dial. Now, because of the Internet, they don't have to spend nearly as much to distribute their content. Yet they expect us to pay more?

If the Walt Disney Company or News Corp. can't find a better business model, then it's not going to work out for them in the long run. Free content will continue to rule - and most of it will be better than the corporate "news" the big media companies offer.


Stimulus creates thousands of jobs; media silent

Nobody other than Phil Gramm would argue that the chronic recession had to be reined in.

And the stimulus package finally made some inroads in this long-awaited task.

A congressional report has found that, by the end of June, almost 50,000 American jobs had been created or saved by infrastructure projects funded by the stimulus plan.

That's little comfort to Americans who remain out of work because of the previous 28 years of economic disaster - but there's no doubt that the stimulus has had some positive impact.

I'm not saying this out of partisanship. (I'm a Green, not a Democrat.) I'm saying it because it's the truth.

Although Reuters covered this story, very few media outlets picked it up. In most of the pop-up media, the recession was hardly mentioned until January 20 of this year.

Brings a whole new meaning to the dinosaur media's "up is down" mindset, doesn't it?


Bumped flights a scam

One of the most unrecognized scams by Corporate America today is airlines deliberately overbooking flights and bumping passengers.

If you prefer land travel, intercity bus lines do it too - by intentionally overbooking routes.

These are outright frauds - but authorities don't see it as criminal, even though it's one of the fastest growing corporate scams in America.

It's pretty simple really: Airlines sell tickets to more people than the flight has room for. Unless quite a few customers miss their flight to begin with, passengers are inevitably bumped from the flight.

Talk about unchecked greed. Airlines sell too many tickets just to Make Money. And it hurts the consumer.

Shockingly, airlines aren't even legally required to offer a full refund. If a family wedding is the only reason you're flying somewhere, and getting bumped makes you miss the wedding, the airline isn't even required to refund one penny.

Can you believe that? America is a society that puts 16-year-old kids in lockup for disagreeing with their school principal, but airlines endure almost no regulation at all - even when they commit outright fraud.

If you're a victim of a bumped flight, raise hell. If you don't get a full refund, raise more hell. It is your moral right. If necessary, sue the airline.

Furthermore, this overbooking scam should be outlawed. And if the federal government doesn't act, the states should.

Mayor: stand up and be counted

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin may be one of the most controversial political figures in the land. But it's hard to argue against him this time.

The mayor is urging residents temporarily displaced by Hurricane Katrina to claim their New Orleans addresses in the looming 2010 census.

The wingnutosphere is throwing a fit about this campaign right now. But guess what? By law, Nagin is right.

The census is supposed to count your official place of residence. If residents are only temporarily displaced, New Orleans is still their official home.

If somebody is displaced by a disaster and has to stay in a hotel, does that mean they have to claim the hotel as their residence? If a person is hospitalized for an illness, does that mean they have to claim the hospital as their residence?

This is an important issue, because the census determines federal funding - and apportionment of congressional seats and electoral votes.

And that's why the rightist brain trust is bent out of shape over Nagin's proposal. Nagin's plan would keep residents counted in New Orleans instead of counting them in places like Lafayette - which was one of the largest cities (except suburbs of other cities) to go Republican in the presidential election.

Active efforts were made in 1990 and 2000 to undercount Democratic areas - or skip them entirely. (Some communities had a census population of zero, despite the fact that people lived there.) In 2010, every effort has to be made to see that such miscounts are not repeated.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

'Sesame Street' fights Allowed Clouds ('Sesame Street' Wednesday)

No "shoeless persons."

No commercial photography.

No bubbling (at least in Singapore).

No sweaters that are not gray or hunter green.

And the word is NO!!!

That was a song from 'Sesame Street' that seemed to take on the growing proliferation of Allowed Clouds. The song had sort of a Cyndi Lauper-like feel, and the sketch was designed to look like a music video.

I was too old for the ol' Ses in 1990 when this catchy song reportedly debuted, but America was already becoming one big Allowed Cloud even then.

The song is performed by 'Sesame Street' legends Maria and Gina, and the clip has numerous appearances by many Muppet members of the 'Sesame Street' kick-ass crew. Even Bert and Ernie find out how inescapable Allowed Clouds are, while other lovable Muppets disobey the very rules being sung about:

Ironically, this clip had been yanked from YouPube before because that version included the Nickelodeon logo, which caused feewinghurt. So that must have been a big no-no in and of itself.

All together now:

No stinkin'
No cussin'
No thinkin'
No nothin'...

Apartment management firm sues tenant for criticizing it

As right-wingers yelp mammothly about individuals filing too many suits against corporations, there's actually a pandemic of the exact opposite.

In Chicago, an apartment management company is suing a former tenant for $50,000 because she dared to criticize it using her Twitter account.

We call this a SLAPP suit - one designed to censor criticism.

One may notice that the management firm's name is followed with the initials LLC - which stands for limited liability company. Though not legally a full-fledged corporation, it is a semicorporate entity - not an individual. Indeed, the very concept of an LLC was created in an attempt to give rights to what would otherwise be corporations.

Thus, the management firm is not a person. A corporate or semicorporate entity cannot suffer feewinghurt.

The long and short of it is, the company has no case.

Once in the '90s, one corporation (in the form of a newspaper) criticized another, was sued for "defamation", and lost. Both companies were right-wing, so the general feeling was that neither deserved to win. However, in hindsight, I know that the company that sued had no case.

If we keep allowing SLAPP suits by faceless companies, the effect on the free flow of ideas will be disastrous. Corporations and similar constructs simply are not supposed to be accorded the same rights as individuals. It's time we get that clear.


Kentucky GOP hallucinates

With the other side in campaign mode 100% of the time, it's a wonder they have time to flood websites with paranoid talking points and organize Tea Parties complaining about how the rich have it so rough.

As the Republicans appear likely to lose not only a Kentucky Senate seat but also one of the state's U.S. Senate seats, the GOP hallucinations are starting to set in.

More accurately, these hallucinations are not starting, but continuing. Remember when Mitch McConnell sent me a reply to a letter I never sent him?

In my home county - Campbell County - Republican chairman Jeff Kidwell thinks Republicans will benefit in the next election cycle because President Obama's approval numbers "are now in the negative."

As if Bush's aren't?

Besides that, Obama actually has positive approval numbers in Kentucky and nationwide. Where the hell is Kidwell getting his so-called information from?

Obama's disapproval is more from the left than the right. And those on the left ain't voting Republican.

The GOP is just downright delusional. They get their "news" from right-wing blogs and hate sites, where they reinforce each other's ideas - instead of branching out to see how folks really view the world.

One thing is for sure: If the next 3 years are like the past 6 months, Obama's won another term. The real issue is whether this will keep up, or whether Obama will move to the far right like Clinton did in the '96 campaign.


New Jersey GOP runs on "robbing of the suburbs"

America's suburbs usually mean high incomes - and a healthy return on federal tax dollars.

Wealthy exurbs rake in more federal government money than they pay in taxes - while poor central cities bring in less. Call it the spoils of the conservative machine that ruled the country for 28 years.

But don't tell that to Republicans in New Jersey - as out of step as they are.

The Garden State is now the site of a hotly contested election for governor. And the Republicans seem to be as illogical as ever - until you realize that their suburban strategy actually pays off better than you'd think, because of deliberately suppressed voter turnout in the cities.

One columnist suggests the New Jersey GOP is running on "the robbing of the suburbs."

What "robbing of the suburbs"?

As rich suburbs get a better return on their tax dollars than the cities, it's the cities that are being robbed. Like the Tea Party meltdowns, the Republicans' meme appeals to persecuted privilege - a sense of entitlement sported by the monied exurban Establishment.

It's more effective than the Tea Parties though, because its public face is channeled through seasoned political figures - and because of suppressed turnout in poor areas.

Nationwide, the cities have been robbed to pay for corrupt GOP machines in the suburbs. The Democrats and the Greens should be talking about the robbing of the cities, because they can actually prove that it's real.

In the off-chance that the GOP can pull it off in New Jersey this year, when the party is nearly dead in other Northern urban regions, I can say one thing with 100% certainty: The margin of victory will be accounted for entirely by rich exurbs. Entirely. Take away that, and they lose.

But that has been the story of almost all major Republican electoral successes in my lifetime. Without the suburbs, they would have barely been a major party.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dentist accused of dropping tools down man's throat

This is yet another case illustrating the mind-boggling decline of America's profit-driven health system.

A Florida dentist is accused in a lawsuit of dropping tools down an elderly man's throat - on 2 separate occasions.

The complaint says the dentist dropped an implant screwdriver down the patient's throat in 2006 - and dropped a small wrench in 2007. According to the complaint, the man had to have several medical procedures to remove the tools. He never recovered, and he died in 2007.

Later, Florida fined the dentist $17,000 for negligence.

It really is now or never with health care reform.


Nnnnn! It's a great feeling!

Nnnnn! It's a great feeling!

That's what everybody's saying now that one of the most dangerous confinement cults in the Midwest appears to be almost out of business at long last. Not to mention the hilarious results of the past 2 election cycles.

This expression came from an old commercial for Pearl Drops tooth polish.

Yeah, that one. You know, the one in which an actress runs her tongue along her front teeth. This ad was seen by Americans of all ages, day and night - on over-the-air TV, no less.

Tsk, tsk.

For those who think I'm making this up, the commersh has finally surfaced on YouTube:

That ad is reportedly from 1975, but I could have sworn it was from a couple years later, because I was only 2 in 1975. It aired constantly. You couldn't watch a commercial TV station without seeing it.

And so, my mind was corrupted by TV at an early age. (Don't tell the moral panic types, because they'll try to ban TV! Wait, they practically have.)

We're gonna slip it to 'em short and sweet...on 82nd Street

The folks who run the Pathway Family Center cult aren't quite as bright as they think.

They became so desperate for business that they spent money on a billboard on busy 82nd Street in Indianapolis. But this expense may have hastened the cult's demise.

Did they really think people would see the billboard and not do research about whether PFC lived up to the hype?

Here's a video showing this billb:

Hey PFC, you should thank us for giving you free advertising! Except Pathwaste is going to be out of business soon anyway. This is no more of a free ad than embedding a commercial for a brand of bubble gum that was discontinued in 1974.

PFC evicted!

I can't yet truly claim that PFC is R.I.P., but this latest development shows it has to be mighty close.

I told you recently that the Pathway Family Center confinement cult faced an eviction complaint regarding its failure to pay the rent at its Indianapolis branch - the last of 4 Pathwaste locations to remain.

PFC owed the industrial park over $1,000,000.

Evictions are usually rubber-stamped. Courts seem to like property owners much more than they like tenants. But I figured there was a chance PFC might be allowed to stay, because of its own clout. This is the same PFC that won a lucrative contract with the state of Indiana to lock up teens, after all.

But PFC settled this complaint just before the hearing was scheduled - and it was evicted this past Friday.

There's a video out there of Pathway's building on eviction day. But it wasn't Pathway's building anymore. They never owned it, and they had just been evicted. So no laws were broken in the filming of this clip:

Notice that the parking lot is nearly empty, and the building is vacated. Just before this, people were seen carrying boxes and other goodies out of the building.

Why am I reluctant to say Pathwaste is out of business? Its building may be gone, but the cult may still be operating out of host homes. I can't imagine that will last for very long though, because the cult had been losing business.

If the programmies start a new incarnation of PFC under a different name, believe me, we will catch them. Pathway Family Center was really just a newer name for an older program.

In the long run, they will fail.

Eek! A nude on a wine label!

Aren't there more important things to worry about than this?

America's health care system is broken, wages have stagnated for 28 years, and our education system is a memory. But Alabama officials are worried about a wine label because it shows (gasp!) a painting of a side view of a nude nymph astride a bicycle.

This vintage painting is from 1895, and this brand of wine has generated no complaints about its label in the 49 other states, the District of Columbia, or the 20 or so other countries where this wine is sold.

But Alabama authorities have decided to ban this wine because of its label.

This piece of artwork has been around for over a century and displayed worldwide. It's even seen on shirts sold by the winemaker. But only Alabama in 2009 has banned a product for being associated with this image!

So they think people in Alabama never take their clothes off?

To Alabama's alcohol officials, I say this: Grow up! Quit worrying about a painting that was acceptable even 114 years ago, and start worrying about things that actually affect people.


Conservatives sue because university allowed free speech...and lose!

The University of California, Santa Cruz, has a policy of equal access for military recruiters.

And - from this story - it also appears that UC Santa Cruz is a little more friendly to free speech than some of America's other institutions of higher book-learnin'.

So, when antiwar students peacefully protested the recruiters' efforts to lure schoolmates into fighting in Bush's war, the activists were largely tolerated by the school. An effort was made to silence them, but I recall this suppression being carried out primarily by the Pentagon rather than school administrators.

What's the university's reward for being relatively tolerant of dissent?

Why, it becomes the subject of a lawsuit, of course.

Got that? When right-wing school systems suppress free speech, the victims are told they have no case. But when a school actually allows free speech, it gets sued pell-mell to court.

In this case, it's unclear if the university was actually named as a defendant. Rather, the federal government was sued because it failed to pull the university's funding for allowing the protests.

You can't make this shit up, people.

The suit was filed by Young America's Foundation, which calls itself the "principal outreach arm of the conservative movement." YAF said that by allowing the protests, UC Santa Cruz was denying equal access by military recruiters.

And this, according to YAF, violates the hated Solomon Amendment that passed in the mid-'90s.

The Solomon Amendment was an attempt by right-wing members of Congress to control the politics of universities - and punish those that didn't toe the party line. If a university didn't want the military recruiting students to fight in a war, it would lose federal funding. The Bush regime later expanded this policy.

But that point is moot, as UC Santa Cruz did not bar the recruiters. YAF's argument is that by allowing recruiters and antiwar students the same access, it's chasing the recruiters away.

But now the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington has laughed that argument clean out of the courtroom.

I don't even need to tell you that YAF's lawsuit was about stifling the antiwar activists' free speech. Nothing more. If you pay even minimal attention to the news, you know that.

Hey YAF, why don't you sue a university like NKU that has shown time and time again that it's hell-bent on suppressing free speech?


Monday, July 27, 2009

Bunning retires!

Damn. I was looking fiveward to seeing this clod lose the election.

Right-wing Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Kentucky) has just announced that he won't be seeking a third Senate term in 2010.

I guess he finally realized he was going to lose - thanks to his own extremism, erratic behavior and statements, and scandal involving his nonprofit.

Despite Bunning's retirement, I'd suspect Republicans are still probably going to lose that Senate seat.

Now if we can just get rid of Mitch the Glitch.

Teen pregnancy and disease soar under Bush abstinence policy

The name Bush was almost synonymous with pushing an ideological agenda.

Instead of focusing on issues like the economy and health care, this often meant fighting the timeworn culture wars to build a facade of phony populism.

Central to this whirlwind of pseudoscientific deception was Bush's dominionist-driven education policy that decreed that the only sex ed to be taught in America's public schools would be abstinence-only.

Now America is seeing the results of this failed policy - which are ignored by the American media but reported in detail by Britain's Guardian newspaper.

The CDC reports that the rate of teenage pregnancy soared under the federally decreed abstinence-only policy. Gonorrhea - which had been declining - saw a vast increase as well. The rate of AIDS in adolescent males nearly doubled. Syphilis is skyrocketing too.

Of course, apologists for abstinence-only education insist that this means there wasn't enough emphasis on their failed pseudoscience.

Only in BushWorld is expanding a failed policy passed off as some great innovation.


Disabled teenager beaten at charter school

What's the excuse for this? There is none:

That's a recent CNN clip showing an autistic teenager being abused mercilessly by staff members at a charter school in the Orlando area.

The boy was restrained for up to 10 minutes at a time - a procedure that had already proven fatal for other young people.

The teenager's parents plan to sue. And they should.

This clip speaks for itself. So I don't care to hear from school apologists who defend everything schools do.

AT&T blocks anime site

America's Toilets & Testes already violated the Fourth Amendment when it conspired with the Bush regime in the illegal wiretap scandal. Now it proves it has no respect for the First Amendment either.

A few days ago, AT&T began blocking Internet subscribers' access to 4chan.

4chan is largely an anime site, but it has other content too - much of which is considered juvenile and tasteless. However, 4chan does not allow illegal material such as child porn.

The only reasonable conclusion is that AT&T blocks 4chan solely because they don't like the site. AT&T does not block hate sites like Free Republic that encourage illegal acts. So clearly, AT&T can't credibly claim it's blocking 4chan because of illegal activity (especially because 4chan disallows illegal content).

AT&T also has no credibility if it claims it's blocking 4chan because of a denial-of-service attack - because other sites have such attacks all the time, yet they are not blocked.

AT&T's blockage of 4chan is illegal, under the FCC's 'Net neutrality regulations. But it's to be expected: When the government gave legal immunity to AT&T for its spying, AT&T knew it could violate any laws it pleased.

Internet providers blocking sites in the U.S. isn't new, but it's generally been more small-scale and sporadic until now. It turns out though that AT&T has been illegally blocking an entire port for ages.

This is reminiscent of a short-lived policy by a European Union-backed censorship group that barred Internet users in Britain from editing any Wikipedia page. AT&T's policy of blocking 4chan is probably just as significant.

Apparently, AT&T later lifted its total block of 4chan - but it reportedly still blocks 4chan's picture section.

Should we be surprised that AT&T is the company that starts America's large-scale website blockage war? No. This is the same AT&T that signed me up for phone services I didn't order and tried charging me for them. It's also the same AT&T that gives more to Republican candidates than almost any other corporation.

AT&T controls about 15% of America's Internet provider biz. Most customers can't switch to a different provider, because AT&T now has a monopoly in many of these places - which was given to them by local governments.

The FCC needs to come down hard on AT&T.


Antipsychotics found to cause Parkinson's

Here comes today's story about psychiatric drugs that's sure to be covered up as quickly as it appears.

Certain prescription drugs are now known to cause Parkinson's disease-like symptoms or even full-blown Parkinson's. The biggest culprits are 2 antipsychotics: haloperidol (Haldol) and perphenazine (Trilafon). Some antidepressants are guilty as well - particularly ones that inhibit dopamine.

What?! Trilafon has major side effects?! Imagine that!

It's also known that Trilafon is one of the most widely overprescribed drugs. If some kid gets in trouble at school, Trilafon is often one of the first things prescribed to them. Although it's an antipsychotic, one doesn't have to be psychotic to be drugged with this poison.

Now it's been found that people who take Trilafon or Haldol have experienced Parkinson's-like symptoms with stunning frequency. Some have even developed Parkinson's - as the drug unearths the condition from its latent state.

If it's full-on Parkinson's, it doesn't go away when you stop taking the drug. There is no cure. You will suffer from it for the rest of your life.

I hope there's a class action lawsuit over this. Unfortunately, I don't expect the media to stay on the case - because it never does, when psychiatric drugs are involved.


GOP vilifies domestic violence victim

In an August 25 special election for the Kentucky Senate, the Republicans have launched an attack so sleazy that it's blowing up squarely in their faces.

What's even more stinging for the GOP is that it's backfired so badly that this seat is about to flip to the Democrats because of it.

Dr. Jack Ditty, a Republican dermatologist, is facing Democratic State Rep. Robin Webb in this important election. The Republicans have made this a campaign not about the issues, but about Webb's personal life.

In the early '90s, Webb was a victim of domestic violence and was advised by her doctor to put her law practice on hold because of post-traumatic stress disorder. She and her children also had other health problems at the time. When Webb recovered, the Kentucky Bar Association voted 13 to 0 to reinstate her practice.

The GOP thinks it's fair to assail someone for being the victim of domestic violence and related medical conditions. But the only thing these attacks have accomplished is to make the Republicans appear anachronistic and out of step - which they are. Voters admire Robin Webb once the real story is told.

PTSD is very real. And let me tell you, it is one of the hardest conditions to recover from. If someone makes a significant recovery from PTSD, then surely they're strong enough to serve in public office.

One of the largest groups of Americans to suffer from PTSD is our brave war veterans. If an Iraq War vet who had PTSD was running for office, would the GOP attack them? Probably.

That's because the Republicans have no issues to run on. So they resort to sleazy personal attacks. But this time it's backfiring - at a time when the GOP can least afford it.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Congresswoman: "There are no Americans who don't have health care"

Seriously, some idiot really said that.

And believe it or not, she's a member of Congress! (Then again, knowing the morons who've peopled Congress the past 15 years, who's surprised?)

At a press conference held by right-wing members of Congress on Friday, fascist Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-North Carolina) said the greed-driven American health care system is fine and dandy, and scoffed at any attempt to reform it.

Almost 50,000,000 Americans lack any health insurance at all. A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that almost half of American households skipped necessary health care in the previous year because of the price. The Urban Institute estimated in 2006 that there were 22,000 American adults dead just in one year because they couldn't afford health care.

But facts are lost in the crazy world of Virginia Foxx.

At this press conference, the Church Lady look-alike declared, "There are no Americans who don't have health care. Everybody in this country has access to health care."

This isn't a misprint. She actually said that.

Of course, Bush said nearly the same thing in 2007 - to much ridicule.

Then again, the Bushists are the same people who think climate change and the recession aren't real.

At least Virginia Foxx didn't say America's health care crisis is "really a hoax" - huh, Virginia?


Saturday, July 25, 2009

Bubble gum fights bird shit (Bubble Gum Weekend)

Because the mere existence of bubble gum is funny, this must be yet another Bubble Gum Weekend!

A brand new ad campaign in India reveals that bubble gum is the perfect antidote to bird shit.

In this commersh for Big Babol - a gum brand widely seen around the world - a youngster is frustrated by his shirts being repeatedly ruined by bird droppings.

So he bubbles.

He pops in a slab of gum, blows a giant bubble, and floats into the air. As he looms above the bird's nest in midair, he makes fake shit out of toothpaste and plops it squarely onto the hapless avian's noggin:

As I have never seen Big Babol in the U.S., I can maintain my integrity by embedding the ad here (much to the chagrin of those who are reading this on Facebook, as Facebook still won't fix its inability to properly embed videos).

So the next time you see bird crap, whip out the bubble gum, and your troubles are over!

Texas guv throws fit over health reform

Nobody has ever said right-wing Texas Gov. Rick Perry would qualify for Mensa International.

This is the man who denied the people of his state $555,000,000 in unemployment funds from the federal stimulus program. If Perry had half as much brain power as he thinks he does, he never would have thought this was such a grand idea.

But he didn't learn - because most stupid people don't.

Now he's citing "states' rights" to deny Texans the benefits of the Obama administration's health care reform plans.

In other words, if you live in Texas, you'd have to suffer the same broken health care system as before - all because Rick Perry won't let health reform apply in your state.

That's not how "states' rights" is supposed to work, Rick, you idiot.

Where was Perry to scream about "states' rights" when Bush kept using "preemption" to illegally overrule the states' environmental regulations and product liability laws?


Crist's office praises Nazi movie

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist is portrayed by the media gatekeepers as a get-things-done moderate. Many people think he's the "good guy" of the GOP.

But regardless of what his intentions may be, he sure ain't too bright.

For starts, Crist praises prominent Floridians who have founded dangerous cults.

Now his office has heaped adulation upon a movie backed by the Nazis.

The film - the 1940 German production of 'Jud Suss', which was made under the supervision of Joseph Goebbels and is full of anti-Semitic propaganda - had been sent to Crist by a high-ranking official of a white supremacist organization.

Crist's office promptly sent back a letter praising the movie and thanking its sender. The letter said the governor couldn't wait to share the movie with the people of Florida. This letter was signed with a machine-generated Crist signature.

The governor later called this incident "an inexcusable mistake by staff in my office."

In other words, Crist hires staffers who turn out to be Nazi apologists. Taking cues from Newt Gingrich, huh, Charlie?

Or was the rest of the letter machine-written too?

Or is Charlie Crist actually just a robot himself?

The Republicans are so deep in right-wing fringe ideology that they might as well just disband and start over from scratch.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Service employees' wages still frozen at $2.13

It was 1991.

Helmet hair was in fashion. The band Poison sold millions of albums - most of which were probably on vinyl. 'The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air' and 'Dallas' dominated TV airwaves.

Yes, 1991. It was also the last time the minimum wage for service employees who receive tips went up.

It isn't widely reported, but the minimum wage for waiters and many others has now been frozen at $2.13 an hour for 18 years. These workers are not included in the minimum wage increase that just took effect - and haven't been included since 1991.

Nationwide, only 7 states guarantee these workers the same wages as everyone else.

And these are some of the hardest jobs. So if anyone should be making tons of money, it's service workers.

Meanwhile, bank executives who run their businesses into the ground use taxpayer dollars to award themselves bonuses worth millions.


Now it's a crime to criticize an arrest?


Now you can't even criticize an arrest without risking a lawsuit?

After the recent arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. on a ridiculous disorderly conduct charge, President Obama said that authorities "acted stupidly" by arresting him in his own home. The charge was later dropped because of its sheer silliness.

Obama's statement sent the wingnutosphere into another kook-a-loon meltdown. All it took was those 2 words - "acted stupidly."

Others have also pointed out how silly it is to charge someone with disorderly conduct for what they do in their home. This law was never meant to apply to what people do in private. It's supposed to apply to what people do in public - not at home.

Now the officer who arrested Gates is threatening to sue Gates just for criticizing the arrest! This despite the fact that Gates wasn't even the only person who criticized it.

If you genuinely believe that an arrest is wrong, you have every right to say so.

This lawsuit is like suing me for reporting on the Devou Park incident at the Bush rally in 2000.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

West Point allowed to suppress free speech

This story proves one thing: It doesn't take even a rudimentary civics education to serve on a federal jury.

Back in 2004 - at the height of Bush's fascism - a group of 8 antiwar activists attended the Army-Navy basketball game at West Point. When they got to the game and sat in the stands, they removed their jackets, which revealed t-shirts that spelled out, "U.S. OUT OF IRAQ."

Shortly thereafter, they were ejected from the facility by military police. Later, the garrison commander banned them from even appearing at West Point for 5 years.

All because of a difference of opinion. If their shirts favored the war, they would not have been thrown out. You know it, and I know it.

The 8 antiwar protesters sued West Point plumb to court for violating their free speech rights.

During the trial, West Point's facilities manager was caught contradicting an earlier deposition he made about the incident.

This should have dashed West Point's case altogether. But nope. These days, the less you know about the Constitution, the more likely it is you'll be allowed to serve on a jury. If you ever get called in for jury duty, you may notice that the attorney for one side will try to exclude prospective jurors who seem knowledgeable about even basic constitutional law.

Even the judge thought it was strange that the facilities manager's memory suddenly improved during the trial.

The judge even reminded the jury that there was no regulation prohibiting protests at the facility at that point in 2004. (A regulation was enacted only later.)

Naturally, the jury ruled against the protesters, and said West Point did not violate their free speech - even though it did.

The taxpayers are paying for West Point to suppress free speech because they disagree with it?


Town manager fired for marrying porn star

The town of Fort Myers Beach, Florida, must have nothing more important to worry about than policing city employees' private lives.

The town council has voted 5 to 0 to fire the town manager "without cause" after discovering that he had married a porn star.

At least the town council was honest when they said the firing was "without cause." They acknowledged that the town manager had broken no laws or city rules - so the firing really is "without cause", isn't it?

If there isn't a lawsuit against the city, I'll just bip.

Florida claims to be a "right-to-work" state, but we all know that this phrase has nothing to do with the actual right to not lose your job over nothing. "Right-to-work" laws are about union-busting, not about keeping people from being wrongly fired. In effect, these laws make it easier to fire most workers for no good reason.

If there is a lawsuit, I'd love to see what idiotic defense the city can conjure in a weak attempt to justify the firing.

This story sounds straight out of the pages of the Taliban.


Bloomberg's brain idles

Embattled New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the latest chapter in the Republican saga of "do as I say, not as I do."

In an effort to appear as America's environmental leader, the mayor backed an ordinance to keep motorists from idling for more than 3 minutes and polluting the air. After dealing with air pollution myself, I don't doubt the need for such a law.

One big problem though: Bloomberg thinks he shouldn't have to obey the ordinance like everyone else.

The mayor gets an entire fleet of city-owned SUV's at taxpayer expense. These hulking vehicles guzzle gas like it's going out of style. Although the SUV's are equipped to run partly on ethanol, they don't, because ethanol is so scarce in New York City.

Worse, he lets the SUV's idle - often for more than an hour. Some of these instances were during ego-boosting photo ops.

And Bloomberg calls himself America's green mayor? What a hypocrite.

Often, all the SUV's do is trail Bloomberg when he takes the subway. He made a show of using the subway to prove what a peopley guy he is - but being trailed by the SUV's defeats the entire message of this stunt.

How come the mayor's SUV's don't have to follow the law? Because they're considered emergency vehicles. I guess photo ops are a big emergency when you're about to lose the election.


Wal-Mart settles suit

In the state of Washington, a class action lawsuit said Wal-Mart regularly forced employees to skip meal breaks and put in extra hours without pay. Workers were even locked inside the store after they had clocked out, and forced to do additional work.

Now, 8 years after the suit was filed, Wal-Mart has finally agreed to pay $35,000,000 to about 88,000 employees.

But that works out to about (drum roll, please) $398 per person.

You get less than $400 for being a victim of false imprisonment and serious labor law violations? I hate to look a gift horse in the mouth, but something tells me this penalty is barely even big enough to make an impression on Wal-Mart.

The fact that I haven't purchased a damn thing at Wal-Mart in about 12 years has deprived the retail giant of a hell of a lot more than $400.

If I was a Wal-Mart employee who was locked inside the store, I'd ram a shopping cart through the glass door to escape.


Tea Party activist sends racist picture

The American conservative movement might have recovered if it actually had ideas.

But nope.

All it has left is sore loser tantrums and racist fail.

Dr. David McKalip (pictured here) is a right-wing activist involved in the oft-ridiculed Tea Party movement. The Florida neurosurgeon also serves on the American Medical Association's House of Delegates.

As a hard-charging voice of rightist extremism, McKalip founded a group he calls Doctors for Patient Freedom, which opposes health care reform. He joined right-wing congressmen for a forum to warn against fixing the broken medical system. He even wrote an op-ed for the St. Petersburg (Florida) Times attacking medical reform.

Everyone knows the current Tea Party movement is rife with racist harangues and imagery. But McKalip isn't some ordinary BTPer. His prominence makes his racism even more telling of what helps guide the Tea Parties.

On Sunday, McKalip forwarded a picture that portrayed President Obama as a stereotyped African witch doctor to a Tea Party listserv on Google that he's a member of. To accompany the picture, McKalip wrote, "Funny stuff!"

But nobody is laughing - except the Tea Party sore losers, since they're the only ones who think it's humorous.

And the right-wing brain trust wonders why they're losing support? If they actually had coherent ideas, they wouldn't see the need to keep sending out nonsense like this.

What makes this meltdown even worse is that they're using this imagery to attack health care reform, at a time when it's too important to be reduced to such a level.

I can't wait to see the results of the next election.






You thought I was making up all that "Fresh!" business, didn't you?

Well, YouTube has proven you wrong yet again! And it's not even the weekend!

Yes, I'm talking about the old Tender Vittles cat food commersh. The one that was frequently parodied with that "Wilbur!" stuff.

Granted, this version was reportedly from 1984, which was later than the versions I would have been most interested in. But the "Fresh!" theme was still present:

I embedded that ad here because Tender Vittles was finally discontinued in the U.S. and A. in 2007.

Now is everybody going to stop insisting I made the whole thing up?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Dog from Taco Bell ad dies

I'm sad to report the death of Gidget, a dog who appeared in an infamous series of late '90s commercials for Taco Bell.

Gidget died yesterday from a stroke. She was 15 years old.

In that controversial ad campaign of a decade ago, Gidget would appear under a male voiceover declaring, "Yo quiero Taco Bell."

A stand-in dog occasionally filled in for Gidget, who had replaced an earlier dog.


Wal-Mart destroys ancient burial grounds

Oxford, Alabama, is the site of ancient Native American burial grounds that date back at least 1,000 years. This site is still considered sacred, and a town study has found tribal artifacts in the soil there.

But it's not sacred to Wal-Mart or to its apologists who dominate local government. Few things to them are sacred except Making Money.

So Wal-Mart and the city of Oxford have already begun tearing apart the burial grounds to provide fill dirt to build a new Sam's Club. Trial advocates and preservationists are outraged.

It's being torn down for fill dirt, of all things!

City officials also want to level the hill to use as an elevated site for a fancy motel or restaurant. Mayor Leon Smith said the burial site was nothing but "just a pile of rocks."

The Scam's Flub project has also drawn the support of raw racists and others who apparently expect the descendants of the people buried there to have to buy back the burial grounds.

Sounds to me like they're already paying for it - as the city is using tax dollars to help raze the site.

A historic site is being destroyed just so there'll be another union-busting Sam's Club to buy foreign-made goods.


Precinct-by-precinct results trickling in

It takes 8 months to get election results broken down by precinct in Kentucky?

At least we've finally got some counties in, and they're as interesting as one might expect.

Mind you, it's long been an aberration for a precinct in northern Kentucky to go Democratic in a presidential election. So it would be easier to list the places Obama won than the ones McCain won.

I'll try to do that for Campbell County. From the results I've seen, Obama won precincts in Newport, Bellevue, Dayton, Southgate, and Highland Heights. Newport and Dayton weren't even close. It looks like Obama may have won (!) the portion of Campbell County within I-275, though it's impossible to tell for sure.

As for southern Campbell County, let me just say, it's southern Campbell County. That's all you need to know. If you look at the results for Grants Lick or Sun Valley, you wonder how this blog is even in the same county. One has to ask whether Colorado City, Arizona, didn't relocate there.

Despite that, Campbell County seems to now be less Republican than Boone County, where McCain won 59 of its 60 precincts.

When you get beyond the exurbs into more rural counties, things do pick a bit for the Democrats (despite the GOP base becoming more rural): I noticed Obama won 2 of Robertson County's 5 precincts.

At least now I know not to move this blog to Grants Lick or Sun Valley.

Dr. Ernie ('Sesame Street' Wednesday)

During my health scare yesterday, I almost expected to end up being treated by Dr. Ernie, considering the current state of American health care.

One day, Bert came down with a bad cold. Not a good cold - like one that makes you miss school - but a bad cold. His ol' buddy Ernie, however, remains oblivious to this factoid.

In the resultant Bert and Ernie sketch from 1974 or earlier (which aired for years), Ernie hears that someone on the ol' Ses has a cold, and he tries to figure out who:

This was filmed back in the days when, if you got sick, you rested - or saw a doctor. Most of our society wasn't like my first high school was later, where they screamed at you to come to school even if you had a fever of 105° F and were vomiting buckets.

The '70s-era cold treatment of strict rest must have worked, because people got sick a hell of a lot less back then.

But I wouldn't want to be treated by Dr. Ernie, who wouldn't recognize a cold if it jumped up and sneezed on his big, purple nose - thereby risking the spread of this misery. Bert even coughs right in Ernie's face, and Ernie just stands there like an idiot.

Maybe if people took advice from this skit and stayed in bed instead of going to school and work when they get sick, the health care system wouldn't be as overloaded now.

You can learn a lot from a Muppet who can't count higher than 6.

City celebration canceled because of union support

Corporate America is guilty not only of exploiting workers but of policing thoughts as well - and getting its friends in government to carry out its dirty work.

Folks in Findlay, Ohio, were looking fiveward to an upcoming citywide celebration featuring a parade and other festivities. Though the event was backed by a local chapter of the United Steelworkers, it was not a union event.

But now the city has canceled the event because of its support by the union.

"Basically, Findlay's a nonunion, Republican area and mostly what we had were Democratic speakers and union people," Republican mayor Pete Sehnert said. "It's not what I had in mind."

Oh, so if Big Business had put together this event and invited nothing but Republican speakers, the city wouldn't have ordered it stopped? (Although a Democratic public official was scheduled to speak, so were business representatives who happened to be Republican.)

One of the big sore spots for Big Business was that the parade was supposed to feature American-made classic cars and motorcycles. Business leaders viewed this as an assault on their policy of outsourcing and exploiting cheap labor abroad (at the expense of American workers).

A bigger sore spot was the union's apparent support for the much-needed Employee Free Choice Act, which would help workers organize more easily.

Sehnert wants to hold the celebration next year - but he says unions won't be invited to help organize it. "Next year, I'd like to have as many businesses as possible," he scowled.

This story boils down to censorship. City officials and global greed merchants aren't any better than that preacher in Louisiana who forced rock concerts to be canceled just because he didn't like rock music. The greed sector is hell-bent on suppressing any thought that helps workers advance.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Postal Service may close urban branches

The right-wing war on the cities continues.

The U.S. Postal Service wants to close 4 post office branches in northern Kentucky. These branches are in (drum roll, please) Newport, Bellevue, Dayton, and Ludlow.

Not a single branch is closing in wealthy suburbs. Just the more working-class cities. Of course.

These appear to be small branches, but they all do good business.

This might not even be happening, if Bush's cronies didn't still occupy high positions at the Postal Service, where they skim off the revenues the Postal Service brings in - even while the pay for most postal workers stays stagnant. Under legislation passed by the Republican-led Congress of the Bush years, the price of a stamp goes up automatically each year - just for post offices to be closed.

This after the Postal Service already removed most public mailboxes that were anywhere near where people actually live.

If a post office in Bellevue, Dayton, Newport, or Ludlow closes, the mayor of the city that loses its post office should stage an occupation of the post office until it reopens.


Well, how's that Delta/Northwest merger working out?

How's the latest example of merger mania working out, dare I ask?

Guess what? It isn't.

What??? After all those other corporate mergers worked out so great??? Wait, they didn't.

After the governments of the United States and the European Union rubber-stamped Delta's takeover of Northwest Airlines, Delta has now added a surcharge for paying checked baggage fees at the airport (as opposed to online).

This isn't even the first new fee I've heard of from Delta since the merger. Once a merger in any industry takes place, you usually find that your pants don't fall down as much - because your wallet is thinner.

Then again, maybe the latest surcharge is better than the airlines crying about how broke they are and getting the taxpayers to bail them out again. It's been about 6 whole years since they've pulled that scam, so you know they're due for another handout.

We need to reintroduce airline regulation. If the federal government doesn't, the states should.

Meanwhile, Delta still has the worst percentage of delayed flights. (One recent flight stayed on the ground in New York for 5 hours.)


I faint, so this blog ain't?

I haven't updated this blog yet today because I had a medical scare today.

I had a fainting and vomiting spell and had to go to the hospital. The doctors don't know what's wrong, and I still feel weak.

This is the biggest health scare I can remember having, so I don't know how long it'll take to recover, or if I'll be able to do as much.

I intend on continuing this blog and work on my next book, of course. Depending on what underlying health problem may have caused today's episode, things may get back to normal pretty quickly.

Of course, normal doesn't truly mean normal anymore, after the crises of recent years.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Colorado City cult cashes in

What does 28 years of conservative rule in D.C. mean for cults like Colorado City, Arizona?

It's been a windfall - a gravy train, if you will.

Colorado City, Arizona, and the neighboring village of Hildale, Utah, compose a right-wing polygamous cult based on the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - which long ago broke away from the larger Mormon church. This small community has also produced some of the highest percentages for Republican political candidates, even at the presidential level.

The cult rests on the state line so it can escape to the other state each time one state turns up the heat. And the cult is far wealthier than official figures would reveal: It resembles not a poor shantytown but a financially secure exurb.

Each year, the tiny Colorado City school system - which has actually become an extension of the cult - gets $4,000,000 of federal tax dough. This sum is far more per student than most districts receive. The minuscule town has also gotten $1,900,000 from HUD just for projects like resurfacing streets.

The federal government even built a $2,800,000 airport for Colorado City that receives almost no traffic from anyone outside the community.

Residents of Colorado City receive 8 times as much in federal government services as they pay in taxes.

At the same time, however, the cult's leaders assail poor people elsewhere who collect any type of government benefits. And they usually vote as a bloc for the Republicans, who have built almost their entire recent platform on such phony populism.

Can you say hypocrites? Sure. Sure you can.

The cult's excuse for their own actions is that they are "bleeding the beast" - the "beast" being the very federal government that keeps them afloat.

Like the Ave Maria cult in Florida, Colorado City is a glorified Branch Davidians - thriving at your expense.

Chevron refuses to pay fine for ruining rainforest

A court in Ecuador is preparing to slap a hefty $27,000,000,000 fine against oil giant Chevron following widespread damage to a rainforest - damage that went on for decades.

This wreckage - which destroyed the livelihoods of countless residents - was carried out by Texaco, which Chevron later took over.

But Chevron is refusing to pay the fine.

I guess in Chevron's world, laws are just "damn pieces of paper" (as Bush would say), huh?

Chevron says it's refusing because the President of Ecuador publicly backed the plaintiffs.

That's like saying Zacarias Moussaoui should be freed if the President of the United States expresses opposition to Al-Qaeda.

Ironically, it was Chevron who wanted the case tried in Ecuador to begin with, because the company thought it could take advantage of Ecuador's court system.

Be careful what you wish for, Chevron.

If Chevron refuses to pay the fine, the government of the United States should seize $27,000,000,000 of Chevron's assets and turn it over to the court in Ecuador that imposed this ruling.


Immunization gets immunity

Americans are going to be paying for Bush's scuzzbaggery for decades.

First, his incompetence helped cause the swine flu outbreak. And now - if a vaccine is ever developed - the maker of this vaccine will be immune to lawsuits arising from side effects, because of a law Bush signed.

This 2006 law - passed by a Nazi Congress and signed by Bush - gives legal immunity to flu vaccine makers. This follows the policy instituted under Reagan that still shields makers of childhood vaccines from suits.

The states need to step up to the plate and strengthen their laws to make sure anyone who suffers serious side effects from swine flu vaccines gets the compensation they are entitled to.

Louisville gets FM hate talk station

As if Louisville doesn't have enough right-wing talk on AM (with no liberal counterweight), now it has a right-wing FM talker to boot.

WLRS has adopted a new talk format, filled entirely by syndicated hosts. These include right-wing loudmouths like Glenn Beck, Michael Sewage, and Laura Ingraham.

Right-wing hate talk proliferates in Louisville despite the fact that the Republican presidential ticket lost Jefferson County by 12%. (No GOP presidential candidate has won the county since 1988.) A similar pattern of hard-right radio can be seen in other cities where the GOP has been rejected by the public (including Cincinnati).

WLRS was a legendary set of calls before the early '90s, when bad programming decisions reduced its influence. It was decimated further when the WLRS call letters were moved from 102.3 to the weaker 105.1 facility.

After the latest dumb move, don't expect WLRS to recover any time soon.

This is radio, after all.


Utility's error ends in family's death

DTE Energy is the utility monopoly in Detroit. DTE is known for particularly greedy practices, especially regarding reporting customers' data to credit bureaus (to compile your credit score which you have to pay to access).

Last week, DTE cut off the power to a family's house. This forced them to use a gas generator, which filled their home with gas. A man and 3 children died.

Now it turns out that DTE wasn't even supposed to shut off their power. By DTE's own admission, the company had received notice of the family's bankruptcy weeks ago - which was supposed to prevent the electric from being shut off. (The man had declared bankruptcy after losing his job.) But this notice had the wrong address, and DTE didn't bother to verify the address on the notice, as it was supposed to.

By the time DTE realized its mistake, it was too late.

This is particularly inexcusable, because the electric bill was always sent to the right address.

(I blackballed the Detroit News as a source for this blog last year, but I'm making an exception for this story, because I can't find it covered anywhere else.)


Sunday, July 19, 2009

He's a-comin', he's a-comin'! (Bubble Gum Weekend)

Yeah, I bet he is.

I may have already featured this Hubba Bubba ad from 1979 that starred the Gum Fighter. But this commersh's need is underscored by the recent downward spiral of bubble gum advertising.

A few days ago, I saw Hubba Bubba being sold at a gas station food mart. Instead of any sign of the Gum Fighter, the pack featured a blue creature that looked just like Cookie Monster except it had only one eye. (No, I didn't buy any.)

This critter hardly compares to the Gum Fighter, who loomed large in the commercials of old:

Few bubble gum advertising icons were as effective or as memorable as the Gum Fighter, and that commersh is one of the examples that shows why. (You can tell that was one of the ol' Fighter's first ads, because his sideburns were bigger like those of Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane.)

On the other hand, the Wild West town in that ad must have been the only place in the world where the lives of all its citizens revolved around contests to see who could blow the biggest bubbles without getting the gum stuck to their face.

This ad also showcases the Gum Fighter's practice of blowing the germs off the wad of gum after the bubble bursts.

Bubbling. A rarity today, but a national pastime 30 years ago.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Ohio outlaws school paddling (finally!)

The idea of abolishing corporal punishment in Ohio's public schools keeps coming up, but it never quite passes - until now.

Yesterday, Gov. Ted Strickland signed a new budget bill into law that includes a ban on paddling in public schools. This makes Ohio one of about 30 states to prohibit this outdated practice.

Meanwhile, Indiana seems to be moving in the opposite direction. Earlier this year, right-wing Gov. Mitch Daniels supported a bill to make it illegal to sue a school employee over discipline. In his State of the State tirade, Disaster Daniels scolded, "It is time Indiana said to its children: sit down and hush up."

I know what a few of you might be saying about Ohio's paddling ban. "What about serial bullies?" you inquire. Trust me, they're not the ones getting swats to begin with. In fact, no other form of discipline is ever tried with them either. If we expel serial bullies as we should, corporal punishment might not ever be an issue.

I find it interesting that schools that use corporal punishment usually experience more bullying and other student violence.

There should be a nationwide ban on paddling in schools. The welfare and rights of our young people should be a top national priority.


Stimulus law restores summer jobs program

The federally funded summer jobs program of the '80s and '90s was a worthwhile expenditure. It helped pay for jobs for teens and young adults - and it was a lifesaver for many. (And who could forget those catchy radio ads?)

Many Americans today are grateful they had this program in their youth. Who knows where they'd be without it? We should all thank our lucky stars we had it.

Naturally, the Nazis in Congress a decade ago abolished this program (and others that were similar). And trust me, I don't exaggerate when I say Congress in the late '90s was full of Nazis. (Remember the flap involving Newt Gingrich's pick for House historian?)

Abolishing the summer jobs program was not an act of fiscal restraint. It was an act of malice.

Meanwhile, Congress in that era was giving bailouts to the prison-industrial complex and right-wing talk radio.

But now, President Obama's stimulus program that passed this year is effectively restoring much of what the rogue Congress of the '90s stole. This stimulus package has provided funding to hire 125,000 teenagers and young adults for summer jobs this year. Some state and local governments have opted to chip in.

This program helps young people who might otherwise be at a disadvantage to join the labor market and enjoy some of the same opportunities others already have.

Meanwhile, what has the prison boom that began in the '90s accomplished? All the prison boom has done is waste taxpayer dollars and foster a vicious cycle of despair.