Saturday, October 31, 2009

LeftMaps does Dayton

LeftMaps is as tied to this blog as right-wing think tanks are to the recent Tea Parties.

What is LeftMaps? That's a question any child may ask you, but it is not a childish question. LeftMaps is my side gig of drawing bicycling maps for Cincinnati area neighborhoods. And the Far Right hates every moment of it. Whenever a new LeftMap comes out, they can't stand it. It makes them cry so.

I've just completed the map for Dayton, Kentucky - a small but important industrial city opposite Cincinnati. Dayton is known as the birthplace of paint manufacturer Perry & Derrick, and this burg gave President Obama some of his highest vote totals in northern Kentucky.

Traveling Dayton Pike at night in the '70s evoked a haunted aura, as the narrow road wound its way through thick woods. So Halloween is the best time to release my LeftMap of Dayton!

In search of detailed cycling maps of Dayton and other local neighborhoods? Point your pooper here:

Friday, October 30, 2009

Big Brother device monitors workers' activity

Workplace drug testing and RFID chip implants were bad enough, but now a new device threatens to nibble away at workers' right to privacy even more.

American companies are using this little gadget - known as DirectLife - to monitor workers' physical activity 24/7 to make sure they meet "performance benchmarks." The device is about the size of a postage stamp and must be worn at all times.

Right now, it's voluntary - but I don't expect that to last. Only the very naive would doubt that it'll soon be mandatory.

It'll be mandatory, that is, unless we pass a law to bar companies from making it mandatory. At last count, however, very few American jurisdictions even outlawed forced RFID chipping, so who truly expects our government representatives to rein in our corporate overlords?

If companies are worried that employees aren't getting enough exercise, maybe they should shorten the work week so folks would have more time for recreation.

Soon, the privacy violations may heighten further: A skin patch to detect what we eat is now in the works.


War on Halloween stepped up in West Virginia

I really did speak too soon, didn't I?

Public schools in Moundsville, West Virginia, are (in a local TV station's words) "doing away with" Halloween.

School officials have been listening to too much Pat Robertson, I guess.

Officials have abolished the schools' traditional Halloween festivities and banned Halloween costumes. The schools' excuse? They say it's for "security reasons."

Seriously. They said that.

Nope, it's not for safety. It's dominionism. And they're never going to admit it, because that'll turn folks off.

Most Americans have enough understanding of separation of church and state that if public schools admit the real reason for their War on Halloween, it simply wouldn't fly. So our schools create excuses for this war.

Don't believe the excuses. There is an organized effort in our schools to rob your children of their childhood and mold them into the schools' image.


Pat Robertson's network launches crazed attack on Halloween


I thought I was gonna make it to November without a War on Halloween story. But I guess I spoke too soon!

I know Pat Robertson's CBN usually never fails to entertain. So I shoulda known to look there. Turns out a CBN guest writer called Kimberly Daniels has produced one of the most frenzied diatribes against Halloween I've seen since - well, probably last year.

CBN was starting to get bad press from Daniels's rant, so they tried flushing it down the memory hole. But it remains in Google's cache:

This tirade urges folks to shun Halloween. Central to the article's theme seems to be the notion that demons secretly infiltrated bags of Halloween candy on store shelves.

Among the "dangers of Halloween" cited in the piece? "Orgies between animals and humans."

This entry might be of more urgent interest, except that any public school bureaucrat who follows Pat Robertson has probably already done everything they could to deprive their community's schools of Halloween celebrations.

Still no War on Halloween stories?

This is hope and change, isn't it?

By October 30, I've usually found at least a handful of news items about the right-wing War on Halloween. This war usually takes the form of dominionists getting Halloween celebrations banished from a public school or forcing a city to cancel trick-or-treating if it falls on a Sunday. Or it involves the "zero tolerance" Nazis who run our schools banning pirate costumes that feature a fake sword.

This year, I haven't found any new stories like this. The War on Halloween seems to be stalled at the level it was at a year ago. This is probably the longest we've waited for new War on Halloween items since my youth when I donned a disguise each Halloween and went door to door for stale Zagnut bars and morsels of Super Bubble that probably came from a Cocoa Puffs box.

Still, we need to reverse the War on Halloween.

A stake needs to be driven through the heart of this war so it never comes back to haunt us and our children.

In the meantime, I bet I know what the recent Tea Party participants' favorite Halloween costume is. Probably a ghost - because they already have the white sheets!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bloomberg outlaws bake sales

You can't blame "the liberals" for this, conservos. (Try as though they have.)

Republican New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg - in his "rule by decree" fashion - has now banned bake sales in the city's schools.

This at a time when the schools are more cash-strapped than ever.

You're a clod, Loomy.

Then again, New York City schools would hardly qualify as public if either Bloomberg or his leading electoral opponent get their way - because they have both expressed support for mandatory school uniforms. Uniforms are something public schools just aren't supposed to do. But I think Loomy has his opponents beaten in the category of who can be the biggest overall Allowed Cloud.


Nursing homes caught poisoning patients

Nursing home abuse is one of the fastest growing crimes in America - and one of the vilest.

A Chicago Tribune investigation has unearthed thousands of cases across Illinois of nursing home patients being bombarded with psychotropic drugs for no medically defensible reason. Many of these forced druggings have resulted in death.

A 74-year-old man suffered a fatal head injury when he fell after staffers held him down and shot him up with antipsychotics. An 87-year-old man was drugged without his consent because he was "easily annoyed." A woman with Alzheimer's disease and a urinary tract infection was drugged because she complained about not being allowed to use the bathroom.

Unwarranted diagnoses of mental illnesses were added to patients' records to provide an excuse to drug them. In other words, staffers lied about the patients having mental illnesses - just so they could give them psychiatric drugs.

If you have loved ones in a nursing home anywhere in America or elsewhere, keep a sharp eye on them. Make sure you can visit them periodically, and keep an eye out for anything strange.

Don't let Grandma become a statistic.


Right-wing congresscritters try revoking Obama's Nobel

Gee, isn't it nice to know the Republicans are on top of the issues that really, really matter?

Three Republican members of Congress are upset that President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize instead of them. The Republicans think they deserve the prize, because we all know how peace-loving they are.

So now they absurdly claim Obama is not allowed to accept this prize.

A letter from Reps. Ginny Brown-Waite (R-Florida), Cliff Stearns (R-Florida again!), and Ron Paul (R-Texas) says the President is required to obtain congressional approval before accepting the Nobel. They cite the Constitution's clause that says public officials may not accept a "present, emolument, office or title" issued by a "king, prince or foreign state" without congressional approval.

The Nobel, however, is not a state-sponsored prize. It's awarded by a committee authorized by a foreign parliament - but that doesn't necessarily mean the prize itself is state-sponsored. This debate though is moot, because Congress passed a law decades ago authorizing Presidents to receive awards like the Nobel.

Why didn't anyone raise a stink when Reagan received a title of nobility from the British monarchy? Nobody saw the irony of a U.S. President accepting a British title of nobility? I thought America was founded upon breaking away from Britain's ruling elite. Rappin' Ronnie had a hell of a way to unwin the Revolutionary War, huh?

The health care system is broken, our schools have become glorified prisons, and we're arguing about this???

Right-wing Ohio politician indicted

Let's play another exciting game of "guess the party affiliation."

Michael A. Fox is a former Ohio state representative and Butler County commish. Fox is the namesake of a highway north of Cincinnati.

Now Fox and a friend of his named Robert Schuler (not to be confused with the televangelist of a similar name) have been indicted by a federal grand jury. Fox is accused of illegally accepting almost $500,000 in connection with a fiber optics contract and other money from county contractors.

Fox is charged with 4 counts of mail fraud, a count of conspiracy to commit mail or wire fraud, and a count of filing a false income tax return. Schuler was indicted for mail fraud, filing a false tax return, and perjury.

What party is Michael A. Fox? Well, the Cincinnati Enquirer's account of the indictment doesn't say. So he must be a Green.

Just kidding! Why, he's a Republican. Of course. Fox was a leader of right-wing causes when he served in the near-hopeless Ohio legislature.

The fiber optics scandal has already resulted in the conviction of former Butler County Auditor Kay Rogers - also a Republican.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

McCain joins shitfit against 'Net neutrality

John McCain. A man who could've been so much more.

But nope. He chooses instead to be the unbending partisan he claimed he'd never be. Paying heed to the GOP hacks who surround him will do that, I guess.

Now McCain wants to block the FCC's 'Net neutrality regulations. The senator has a new bill that would rob the FCC of the power to enact such rules.

McCain's bill would be of questionable constitutionality and would certainly upset the very heart of separation of powers. You'd think it wouldn't pass in a Democratic Congress - but then again, this is the same Congress where more Democrats support the Patriot Act than health care reform or the Employee Free Choice Act.

And that's pretty sad.

As another writer pointed out, for McCain's bill to bar the FCC from overseeing telcom policy would be like a bill to bar the Treasury from minting money.

I also agree with this writer that part of McCain's sudden interest in Internet-related legislation is that he wants to see his name in the paper again.

Why else would such a self-described "maverick" produce such partisan hackery as this bill? This bill would hurt consumers but would carry big Internet providers' pee water.


Doctor turns away sick baby over money

It's hard to say exactly which categories this story falls under on the key for this blog, but it may take the putrid core of America's broken health care system to entirely new levels.

In Staten Island, a violently ill 10-month-old baby was turned away by a doctor's office because her mom didn't have enough money to pay upfront before the child was treated. This after the doctor had already told her on the phone to bring the child in. The doctor later admitted turning her away.

A small number of far-right ideologues are quick to defend the pediatrician. They've even attacked the infant's mother for grabbing the child's medical records and walking out - using the bogus argument that the records belong to the doctor. (The records actually belong to the patient - or in the case of a minor, the patient's parents.) But none of this would even be an issue if America had universal health care like all other industrialized countries.

The Hippocratic Oath says doctors shall do no harm. Physicians swear to this oath. To reject a patient for not paying upfront raises serious questions as to whether the Hippocratic Oath is being followed.

If a doctor is off-duty and happens to see somebody in a public place in need of immediate medical attention, the doctor jumps right into action - without asking to be paid first. Why should an emergency be treated any differently at the doctor's office? Physicians usually bill patients after the visit - not before.


What does Grover do when he's alone? ('Sesame Street' Wednesday)

What does lovable, furry Grover do when he's alone?

Ponder, ponder.

Because numerous 'Sesame Street' sketches show ol' Groves failing at every occupation he takes, I'm sure he doesn't have much of a social life, so he probably does lots of things alone.

In his free time, Grover probably dons an old-fashioned police hat, ties himself to a chair with rope, pretends it's Mr. Snuffleupagus's trunk, and starts goin' to town.

He probably logs on to Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt fetish sites, downloads all the images, and charges them to the credit card he stole from Bert. Then he fantasizes about working at a Hard Rock Cafe instead of the restaurant where he is usually seen, and selling a shirt to the blue Anything Muppet who complains about everything.

Whatever floats your boat, Grovie.

Grover's never going to admit any of this, of course. Like in this 1971 clip, he sings a song in which he never faces up to his interests:

Although the clip is from 1971, somebody added '80s MTV-style tags at the beginning and end.

Grover, you are a hero to us all.

Washington Times writer misleads

Because this is a day ending in 'y', it's time for another story about the misleading propaganda spread by the nation's most right-wing major (?) newspaper.

Donald Lambro is the chief political correspondent at the Washington Times. Last year, I exposed him for spreading the bogus meme that tax cuts for the working class were welfare.

Today, Lambro has a new piece that spreads blatant misinformation in plain sight and actually expects nobody to notice. If it's not an outright lie, it's certainly misleading.

The gist of Lambro's rant is that health care reform is unconstitutional because it is. To back up this stance, Lambro laments the prospect of people being required to buy medical insurance. Lambro says, "Congress has never before required citizens to purchase any good or service, but that is what both House and Senate health bills would mandate."

What about auto insurance, Donald? Car insurance is probably mandatory in all 50 states now. Granted, it's the states (not Congress) that require it, but Lambro's point is deliberately misleading.

What about taxes? Congress charges us taxes to pay for things like bailouts for big banks. How is that not requiring citizens to purchase goods and services for banks?

Don't get me wrong: Being required to buy health insurance isn't a good thing. But if you object to it, support single payer. Under single payer (which the Washington Times thought cops militantly oppose), this wouldn't be a worry.

The bigger question is: is it unconstitutional to require people to buy health insurance? If it is, that means it's also unconstitutional to force us to buy car insurance. You can't have it both ways.

So there. Nyeh.

If there is any serious effort to challenge the constitutionality of health care reform on these grounds, then I have a right to expect mandatory car insurance (which keeps the working class down) to be challenged as well.

Bandit answers questions on forgeries

Bandit's in effect, folks, so put on your listening faces...

Every so often, I have to answer these same questions I shouldn't even have to field. Namely, how do I account for certain idiotic statements I allegedly made online years ago?

Well, for those just getting acclimated to the politics of the Internets (sic), let me introduce you to something called a forgery.

Until fairly recently, the 'Net used to be kind of a wide-open frontier. Think the Hubba Bubba ads with the Gum Fighter. There's no law and order except when the ol' Fighter blows that bubble and everyone stands around to see if it bursts and covers his face in sticky, pink goo. Well, the Internet was like that.

Not only was it possible for someone to forge your name and e-mail address on an Internet message. It was widespread. In fact, it's still possible.

I admit to using the name of an imaginary person once, but this was just to force a foe to do a little more legwork in tracking me down. Besides, this wasn't an attempt to impersonate a real person.

However, there were countless posts in which someone forged my name or e-mail address in an effort to impersonate me. Some of them appear to be Last Word posts. Several people have pointed out that the archive that Google inherited allowed people to send requests to modify posts after they appeared. I know for a fact this happened with some of my posts.

I don't know the exact history of each post, but some evidence suggests the forgers got an account on my ISP just so some of these forgeries would trace to my ISP. I firmly believe they would have spent the money on an account. In fact, it may have been someone in my area who already had an account there. Remember, this wasn't long after I ran for student government at NKU, so it's not as if I was unknown locally. Plus, I had been harassed and beaten continuously by violent bullies in middle and high school (the topic of my book 'The Fight That Never Ends').

If there was any person of my generation in my county who would have been the target of a vendetta at the time the forged posts appeared, it would be me. I'm not being paranoid. That's just the way it is.

So, to answer your questions: I did not post some of what appears under my name or address. In some cases, I can prove it. In others, it would be my word against my foes'.

I'm going to have to keep answering these questions until Google makes it easier for folks to delete fraudulent posts that others posted under their name. And I don't think Google's going to do this until there's a law protecting our right to delete these forgeries.

The forged posts are open-and-shut cases of fraud. It flourished because authorities made no effort to find out who was behind it. Regardless, there ought to be a law to allow us to delete these forgeries on sight.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Wingnuts throw fit over 'Net neutrality

Let's get this straight: 'Net neutrality is already the law - as it should be.

The FCC is clarifying its neutrality policies - but the fact is, 'Net neutrality is already required under FCC rules.

So the wingnutosphere isn't just being petty and ridiculous when it criticizes the FCC's latest actions. The wingnuts are also out of step with what the issues are.

They complain that the FCC's 'Net neutrality policy - which says ISP's may not restrict residential customers' communication streams - is excessive regulation. But they were all in favor of the Communications Decency Act, which was designed to unconstitutionally muzzle what people could say online.

If the CDA hadn't been ruled unconstitutional, this blog and The Last Word would have been banned. Indeed, some Last Word articles that were once legal are now banned - because of other legislation the wingnuts supported.

Right-wingers also supported the scuzzo federal law that's now in force that requires libraries to block certain websites even for adults. If anyone is guilty of excessive regulation, it's them.

Private school teacher loses license after improper messages

The career of a 6th grade teacher at a Catholic school near Cincinnati appears to be over - and deservedly so.

The state of Ohio has revoked the 42-year-old instructor's teaching license after finding that she engaged in a "deceitful and inappropriate relationship" with a female student.

This relationship involved the teacher impersonating a boy and sending text messages full of sexual innuendo to the girl.

What a weirdo teacher.

College student faces 15 years in prison for alleged Wal-Mart line-jumping

America's so-called "justice" system is so determined to keep the public saddled by the prison-industrial complex that minor incidents are treated as serious crimes.

Almost 3 years ago, an African-American college honors student in Kennett, Missouri, joined a checkout line at Wal-Mart where her cousin was buying goods. The store accused her of line-jumping and called the police.

Even if she had cut ahead in the line, this act was at worst a breach of store protocol - not a crime. And it's certainly not a crime that warrants 15 years in prison.

But 15 years is what prosecutors are seeking.

For what?????

Furthermore, when the young woman's family organized a protest against the trumped-up charges, the Ku Klux Klan issued threats against them.

Meanwhile, real criminals roam free - to make room in prison for people accused of line-jumping at Wal-Mart.


Ohio bill would deregulate phone service (sigh)

Yes, I know. The header for this entry - "Ohio bill would deregulate phone service" - is just restating an existing condition. It's a bit like if the header said, "Farts to become smelly."

That's because Ohio's so-called regulators are already astonishingly generous to phone and utility companies. It seems that whenever a phone company wants a rate increase, it's rubber-stamped.

In Ohio - as in some other states - there's almost no regulation at all of phone and utilities.

Now right-wing state lawmakers want to deregulate the phone industry even further. A new bill in Ohio would allow phone companies to increase the deposit charged on customers and raise monthly rates by $1.25 each year without even proving that competition exists. It also lets phone companies wait 3 days to repair out-of-service lines, instead of one day. (Phone companies routinely ignore the one-day rule anyway.) And it would reduce eligibility for assistance for low-income households.

Whose idiotic idea was this?

Ohio wants to deregulate phone service even after lawmakers rejected a bill to clamp down on employer discrimination. They think phone companies and other big businesses have a "right" to gouge consumers and fire employees for no reason, but that nobody has a right to be protected from them.

The essence of the modern GOP, folks.

GOP caught committing mail fraud

Several years ago, Elizabeth Dole mailed out a Republican fundraising plea disguised as an urgent government letter. This letter literally threatened people into donating to the GOP (although it was mailed to folks who had no connection with the Republicans).

But since nobody prosecuted Dole for the mail fraud she committed, the national Republican Party knows it can do the same thing again.

Recently, countless people across America reported receiving what appeared to be an official letter from the U.S. Census Bureau. It's even labeled as an "official document" and includes a "census tracking code." But the letter was actually a GOP fundraising scam that made people believe they were required to fill it out.

Some folks weren't fooled. So they filled out the form with a bunch of joke answers and shoved a bunch of carpet fuzzes and other waste in the postage paid envelope to be mailed back.

If you receive this letter, it's mail fraud, and it's a crime. Report it immediately by visiting this website:


Monday, October 26, 2009

GOP congressman wants to abolish Medicare

Now there's a way for the Republicans to win over America's hearts and minds! (Just joking!)

After right-wing Rep. Paul Broun Jr. (R-Georgia) introduced a bill that would privatize Medicare, more details about Broun's disdain for Medicare have emerged. (This after privatizing other government services had proven to be a failure.)

Indeed, Broun's bill would replace Medicare benefits with private insurance vouchers. He expects people to buy private insurance even despite the countless stories of insurers refusing to cover medically necessary treatment.

Broun's view for years has been that Medicare, Social Security, and other personal benefit programs are unconstitutional. He never says why. He thinks what he thinks because he thinks it. He needn't argue.

Has Broun ever read the Constitution? The Constitution authorizes programs like Medicare by giving Congress the power to provide for them. It doesn't prohibit these programs in any way.

Broun's view is part of the funhouse mirror distortion of the Constitution that the extreme right has developed in recent years. They claim something is unconstitutional but never provide proof - in the hopes people will believe them. They expect the public's understanding of the Constitution to be molded to fit their agenda.


Media ignores health care rally

I didn't know about this rally until after the fact - because I have yet to see a single mention of it in the pop-up media.

Back on October 18, there was a rally on Fountain Square in Cincinnati supporting health care reform featuring a strong public option.

This contrasts with the recent Tea Party kook-a-thons, which the media has covered every minute of.

Ironically, the only place I've read about the health care rally was on the Tea Party blog - which opposed it! It's pretty sad when the Nastea crowd is doing a better job of covering events than the major media.

Pro-bullying lawmaker appointed judge

In the civilized world, the act of serial harassment in schools is taboo.

But in BushWorld, supporting school harassment is a stepping stone to any government or corporate position you want.

Meet Dan Kelly. Until recently, Kelly was the Republican floor leader in the Kentucky Senate. He was perhaps best known for his opposition to a bill that directed schools to enact policies against student harassment.

That's the type of bill you'd think nobody would oppose. But Kelly offered several excuses. Central to his repertoire of arguments was that the bill would saddle serial harassers with a "label" that would follow them around for years.

Well, yes. Why shouldn't it? It should follow them around for life. Harassers label their victims for life, so why not?

Hypocritically, Kelly refused to support legislation that would allow folks to remove material posted on the Internet by people impersonating them. As a result, this material remains online forever - even after the victims are dead and buried.

Dan Kelly also reportedly complained that the bill to combat school harassment violated the Mormon church's laws. Even if the bill did violate a church's laws, it's still not a reason to oppose the bill. All this proves is that Kelly doesn't believe in separation of church and state, and that he thinks he should be allowed to impose his religion on the state's citizenry.

Because of Kelly's support for school harassment, he should have been expelled from the Kentucky Senate on the spot. But by that time, the rule that governed Kentucky was that his support of bullies led him to be considered a demigod rather than a pariah.

Now this child-hater has been appointed to a circuit court judgeship in central Kentucky. This follows a recommendation by a nominating committee.

Some have speculated that appointing Kelly as a judge is a ploy by the Democratic governor to free up a senate seat for the Democrats to possibly win. If that's the goal, this is a miserable way to accomplish it.

Dan Kelly is an absolute nut.


Court says water a drug

Three things are certain in life: death, taxes, and the expansion of the disastrous War on Drugs.

And if there's a way for authorities to "get" someone, they'll use it.

Now the Minnesota Supreme Court has (in another mind-numbing display of matchbook law) ruled that bong water is an illegal drug - not just paraphernalia. This heightens the threat of longer jail sentences for bong water.

The primary problem with this ruling? That's not what the law says. The law does not classify water as a drug (even if it was used in a drug pipe).

But the real effect of this ruling is that it expands a drug war that has long been known to be a failure.

Right-wing judicial activism has been the rule among the Minnesota Supreme Court in recent years. This is the same court that gutted the state child abuse statute. Like much of the federal judiciary, they have made themselves a legislature in black robes.


Tea Parties dying

In keeping with my plans, I monitored the Tea Party farce in downtown Cincinnati on Saturday. This was by far the smallest downtown Tea Party I've seen yet.

Hardly anything of interest occurred. Some nobody gave a speech on Fountain Square in which he mumbled some complaint about "redistribution", and folks occasionally heckled the meager crowd from 5th Street.

In brief, this was barely even an event - which is especially amusing after they ducked out of at least one of the I-275 protests on Thursday.

In the meantime, I'm happy to say this blog can now afford to resume its previous quota of 3½ posts per day, while the LOSEianne crew is left in the dust.

2009: the year of the fake Democrat

Stories like this make me ask if there's any difference whatsoever betwixt the Republicans and the Democrats.

Some of the most important elections in America this year don't even have a real Democrat running - not like the Republican is any better. They have a candidate who claims the Democratic label, but would not be recognizably Democratic by the standards we have a right to expect.

Voters in Virginia appear to have only 2 choices in the election for governor: Republican Bob McDonnell and so-called Democrat Creigh Deeds. McDonnell is an extremist nut, a Pat Robertson follower who supports outlawing birth control even for married couples. Despite McDonnell's lunacy, Deeds isn't much better: He supports gluttonous work-for-less laws and pulling Virginia out of national health care reform.

Democrats in New York City lack a bona fide mayoral candidate in this 9-person contest. Instead they have Bill Thompson - who as head of the city's school system advocated the right-wing policy of making school uniforms mandatory.

Based on these stances, Creigh Deeds and Bill Thompson are both so far to the right of not just the Democratic mainstream but also of voters' mainstream that there's no way I could endorse either one. True to form, Thompson and Deeds are also among the few Democrats in major elections this year who appear likely to lose - which underscores why the party should run real candidates.

If the Democrats refuse to field competitive candidates in 2 of the most important elections in the land, it proves they didn't learn shit from the electoral debacles of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Because they won't learn, we have to muster our energy behind an alternative such as the Greens.

We have to demand that the media give as much time to progressive populist alternatives as they do to the Republican and Democratic parties that are fused at the trough.

Considering the Republicans' continuing downfall, I'd love to see what the results in Virginia and New York City would be if the Democrats actually had a candidate.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Week 11 of POOP

Looks like this feature is going to last at least a few more weeks - because it appears as if Google has once again lapsed into one of their weeks-long beauty naps in which they don't read their help forums.

My experience has been that, when Google actually reads their help forums, it gets results. Usually, however, they never read them.

So now I'm holding vigil for them to delete my copyrighted posts that reappeared after I successfully had them removed months ago. This after they finally removed the ones I recently asked them to delete.

The next order of business will be for Google to delete forged posts.

And their search feature? Still broken.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Even talking condoms bubble (Bubble Gum Weekend)

Condoms share many characteristics with bubble gum.

They're both inflatable. They both include rubber as an ingredient.

And - according to what appears to be a brand new commercial out of the Netherlands - they both bubble.

At least I think that's what happens in this ad. The commersh appears to depict a cartoon of a talking pink condom blowing a bubble with bubble gum. Then again, it's hard to tell, because of the language barrier:

Twice during the ad, an amusing honking sound is heard - which seems to be greater than the number of supportive car horn honks the Tea Parties lately get.

Bubble gum. The universal language.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fine mess you've gotten us into, New Economy

I'm violating my one-post-a-day mantra to offer this comment about what even the Associated Press calls the "'new normal' of higher joblessness and lower standards of living for many Americans."

The pop-up media - especially the AP - has long lived in denial of America's economic woes. In almost every year in recent memory, things get ever worse - but to hear the media tell it, you'd think Americans were swimming in dough. Until now.

Now - even with the current economic recovery - the AP reports that unemployment and poverty are the "new normal", thanks to the ravages of the New Economy. The jobs that have been killed in recent years don't seem to be coming back - because nobody tries to bring them back.

The problem has been expanding for over 20 years, but what used to seem like a fluke now appears permanent.

This story puts the kibosh on the mean-spirited canard that says those who can't get ahead have something wrong with them. If people with a college education can't even find a job, that's a problem with the system, not with the workforce.

If the government would halt companies from shipping jobs overseas, we'd have more jobs for Americans. In the meantime, we might as well make the best of a bad situation. I know firsthand about subpar wages and the lack of employment opportunities. So I've reached the point where I realize this country is mine and yours, and sometimes you have to grab what rightfully belongs to you - just to survive. To hell with the corporatists who scream that you didn't earn it. Trust me, you've earned it.

In the New Economy, it's about survival.


One entry per day

I do not work for free.

Accordingly - effective immediately - this blog will feature no more than one entry per day until I can afford to resume my previous schedule.

TV personality Soupy Sales dies

I'm saddened to report yet another celebrity death.

TV and radio personality Soupy Sales died last night at the age of 83. Sales was known for getting many pies in the face, and for telling young viewers of his show to empty their mothers' purses and mail him the green pieces of paper with pictures of Presidents on them.

Soupy Sales reached his peak of popularity in the '50s and '60s but had major radio and TV appearances for decades afterward.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

BTPers duck and run; cloud of sawdust appears

You thought it was a slow news day, but I was out looking for the BTPers. The LOSEianne crowd. The Tea Party comedians.

After they sent out press releases talking about how they'd be peopling the exit ramps off I-275 today, I decided to take a look, after attending the 8th Street Viaduct reopening. I figured the exit most easily accessible to me would be the one to the AA Highway.

Well, the BTPers apparently thought so too. Because they didn't even bother to show up at that exit.

They're just like Kids Helping Kids: They duck out when they know they're going to be confronted.

I arrived at the exit at precisely 4 PM (when the rally was supposed to start). When I noticed they were nowhere in sight, I got dinner, and then I went back that way around 4:30. Still no sign of 'em.

Maybe they were just very late. But since the Republicans were the ones who supported extending Daylight Wasting Time in a region where it's useless, you'd think they wouldn't be late.

Nah. They wussed out. They knew I'd probably be there to challenge them, and they couldn't handle it.

Frankly, it's no skin off my nose, because it gave me a chance to go Roads Scholaring. But it just goes to show that they can't tolerate someone calling them out on their right-wing baloney.

I know they wimped out, because when I got home, I discovered that one of the Cincinnati leaders of their movement had left a lengthy comment on this blog trying to negotiate with me.

In other words, I won. I have more strength in one finger than they have in their entire movement.

See what happens when you stand up to bullies instead of ignoring them?

I've seen the BTPers' name-calling and invective firsthand. I've heard about the way they treat reporters who were covering their rallies. And frankly, I'm not going to negotiate with them. All year long, they've proven themselves to be irrational and just plain nasty.

It's an extension of what we saw at the height of the Iraq War, during the Contract With America, and in the '88 election. They have a history of this. They took it down to a personal level with me years ago, and I don't make deals with movements that have chosen to make things personal.

They know the ideology of this blog is diametrically opposed to theirs, so why would they even try to deal with me unless it's so they can come out ahead?

The Tea Party movement is ridiculous. It is one of the most ridiculous developments in modern American history. Let there be no doubt about this whatsoever.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

GOP blocks unemployment extension

The nastiness-industrial complex that is the modern Republican Party is on display again.

Democrats in Congress wanted to extend unemployment benefits by 20 weeks. But Republicans have stalled this measure by trotting out tired platitudes.

One of their big gripes is that it would lead to a budget deficit.

I'm all for staying within a budget. You and I do it weekly. Each month, you fill 5 envelopes with cash and walk on eggshells to make sure you don't spend money you don't have. A broken vehicle can mean missed meals.

But the GOP has created the lion's share of the national debt. They've given tax breaks to millionaires, doled out free money to banks, and started costly wars. I'm not being partisan. That's simply the truth. So why are they so worried about the deficit now?

And I want to know why the Democrats are saying the Republicans won't "let" them extend unemployment benefits. The Democrats have a majority in the Senate now. They should act like it - especially coming out of the worst recession since the Great Depression. If you think the country doesn't need unemployment benefits extended, just try applying for even a menial job these days. Try it. See what happens.

Any senator who is holding up the unemployment extension needs to be recalled from office. Not just voted out in the next election. Recalled!


Iraq War vet kicked off bus over service dog

It's illegal under the Americans with Disabilities Act for public transit systems to remove a passenger because they use a service dog. Service dogs for the disabled must be allowed even where dogs are otherwise prohibited.

But transit officials in Miami apparently think laws are just "damn pieces of paper" (as Bush might say). Accordingly, they kicked an Iraq War vet off the bus system because he uses a service dog.

The transit system's excuse was that the man does not have a "visible" disability.

Seriously? Transit officials actually think the ADA makes such a distinction between "visible" and "invisible" conditions in regards to service dogs?

Ignorance in high places bodes ill for any society.


Tom Ridge wants leniency for creep who beat toddler

One creep goes to bat for another creep.

The Bushist brain trust seems to have never met a violent criminal they didn't like. As with the leniency displayed by Mike Huckabee and Haley Barbour towards particular monsters in their respective states, Tom Ridge now seems to have taken up the hug-a-thug mantle.

The former Pennsylvania governor and Bush's Homeland Security director wrote a letter demanding leniency for Matthew Lazenby. Lazenby is an Erie area man who has just been sentenced to 4 to 8 years in prison for beating his former girlfriend's 23-month-old daughter so brutally that her skull was broken. The toddler also suffered neurological damage that may be permanent.

Ridge called Lazenby a "loving and nurturing father" despite this revolting crime.

This episode probably means Tom Ridge will never win another elected office again. Then again, you never know, because stuff like this doesn't seem to stick to Republicans. The media tried holding Michael Dukakis responsible for a prison furlough program that he had nothing to do with, but the Huckabee and Barbour scandals are forgotten.


2 phone rate hikes in 2 years

Utility and phone regulators in California are a lot like those in Kentucky and Ohio - i.e., a rubber stamp for unnecessary rate increases that harm consumers.

Years ago, I noticed an interesting gimmick used by phone and utility firms. Every time they asked for a rate increase, they claimed it was the first in many years, even if the ink was barely dry on their previous rate hike.

This time, however, they know nobody's going to fall for it. So they've just decided to go ahead and ask for an increase and hedge their bets that regulators will approve it - which they did.

In California, AT&T is raising telephone rates by a staggering 22%. This is their second rate hike in only 2 years.

That's nice, because average household incomes also went up by - wait, they didn't.

This after the California Public Utilities Commission deregulated rates almost entirely - despite the lack of competition.

Hey, how's that 1996 Telecommunications Act - which was supposed to increase competition and lower rates - working out? It isn't, and its supporters knew it wouldn't.

Sadly, the merger mania fostered by the '96 telcom law has almost completely reversed the ruling in the '80s that split up the phone industry.


Tsk, tsk, Oscar! ('Sesame Street' Wednesday)

'Sesame Street' has put out several sets of DVD's full of old sketches. These are marketed to adults who grew up with the series. Indeed, each collection features a warning about their supposed unsuitability for today's children.

You should buy these DVD's to help keep continued production of 'Sesame Street' afloat (even if the ol' Ses is but a ghost of what it was in our day).

Why they're deemed unsuitable for today's kids, I don't know.

Perhaps the closing credits used from 1972 to 1974 might have something to do with it.

This credit roll features a drawing of the tenements found on our favorite television alley. Numerous lovable Muppets peer at us as it scrolls down. I count no fewer than 6 appearances by Grover.

Of particular interest is the fact that the blue male Muppet who often patronizes Grover's restaurant appears to be wearing only a bra.

But the real X-rated moment arrives at the end of the scroll, where it stops on Oscar the Grouch, who appears to be humping the signpost for the Sesame Street sign.

Naughty, naughty, Oscar!

I surround them

That comedy routine known as the Cincinnati Tea Party is at it again!

Most of these loudmouths aren't from this region. For most of them, their job is to travel from city to city to stir up trouble. They're professional right-wing operatives.

In the spring, they protested the stimulus bill. But - showcasing their mission creep - now they're attacking health care reform.

A particular target of their hateful invective is members of Congress who defeated right-wing incumbents. They've set their sights on Cincinnati congressman Steve Driehaus - a Democrat who defeated Republican Steve Chabot. (Chabot was known for his support of the now-defunct Kids Helping Kids cult.)

The BTPers' gimmick in their drive against Driehaus is: "We surround him." To symbolize this, they plan on gathering at most exits off Interstate 275, a loop around Cincinnati.

I learned of this because the Cincinnati Enquirer insists on republishing the BTPers' press releases verbatim, in an effort to drum up support for them. Well, I read 'em too, so they may be in for a little bit of negative exposure - as they were this past spring.

The press release said the I-275 gatherings will occur at most exit ramps to and from this beltway. I assume that includes those in Kentucky, even though Driehaus's district is in Ohio. (They sure know how to misspend their resources.) These events will take place today, tomorrow, and Friday from 4 to 6 PM.

I already planned to peep the reopened 8th Street Viaduct tomorrow, so maybe afterward I'll take a little jaunt into hostile suburbia to monitor these sore losers.

The LOSEianne crowd's finale will be Saturday from 4 to 6 PM, in which they plan to encircle the Carew Tower skyscraper in downtown Cincinnati. The Carew Tower contains Driehaus's office, you see.

Hate to disappoint you, BTPer peeps, but I doubt there's anyone at Driehaus's office on weekends. This is already shaping up to be like the Palin cult's bombarding of the Capitol switchboard on a federal holiday.

After that, they plan to march across the street to Fountain Square for what seems to be another rally like their complain-a-thons earlier this year.

Their ideology is one of aggrieved wealth. They are privileged pied pipers of Potemkin populism. And if I happen to see them, I'll call them out here once again on their propaganda.

Oh noes! Banks may have to obey laws!

Today, the House Financial Services Committee voted to (gasp!) let the states regulate large banks in the interest of protecting consumers.

You mean banks might have to obey laws like we do? Heaven forbid!

The real story here may be that the states couldn't already regulate banks. This power was robbed from the states - especially by the Reagan regime, but also under the Contract With America.

Although the measure to restore state regulation of big banks is a Democratic effort, the bill is threatened by (you guessed it!) the DLC - the Republican wing of the Democratic Party. DLCer Melissa Bean is expected to fight the bill's passage.

This even after the bill was diluted by compromises that would let banks appeal state laws.

Hey, maybe I'll appeal that FCC law that won't let me run a pirate radio station.


Court lets FBI gag free speech

How fascist is this?

The spleezox Patriot Act allows the FBI to send letters to ISP's and banks to demand records about customers without a warrant - in violation of the Constitution.

The Idiot Act also lets the FBI prohibit recipients of these letters from even disclosing that they received these letters. This also violates the Constitution.

And in the matchbook law world of the current makeup of much of the federal judiciary, this outrage is considered fine and dandy. Yesterday, a federal judge ruled that the FBI can continue to gag an ISP that received such a letter - even though they received the letter 5 years ago.

This gag order has in fact been used to suppress damning information about the FBI's Patriot Act abuses.

That's enough to make anyone gag.

That the government can violate the safeguard against warrantless searches and then violate the First Amendment by preventing the target of the search from even discussing it is more proof we no longer have a country.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

3 arrested for disagreeing with Nazis

In Austin, Minnesota, it's considered perfectly acceptable for neo-Nazis to bring a stun gun and other weapons to a rally. But it's Stripe City for anyone who so much as expresses a different opinion.

On Saturday, the National Socialist Movement - a neo-Nazi group - held a rally at a veterans' memorial there.

That they'd desecrate a veterans' memorial by spewing hate speech is the first outrage. Our troops fought for freedom and the rights of all Americans. America's war dead would be turning in their graves if they knew this monument was being defiled by neo-Nazis.

I'm not saying that even neo-Nazis don't have the same rights as everyone else to free speech. But to use a veterans' memorial as a venue for their vile views is outrageous even if it's legal.

This story gets much worse.

Three people who showed up to protest against these neo-Nazis were arrested just for protesting. They were also sprayed with pepper spray.

So in Austin, Minnesota, only a neo-Nazi group is entitled to free speech protections now?

The charges include..."unlawful assembly." I swear I'm not making this up.

It turns out that one of the neo-Nazis had a stun gun, a knife, and an expandable baton. Clearly, he was spoiling for a fight. Yet he wasn't arrested, and was allowed to remain at the event. But those who protested against these extremists were arrested despite being unarmed.

I hope to high hell there's a lawsuit against the city over this. It's a crying shame the good folks of Austin have to live under a municipal government that rolls out the red carpet for neo-Nazis but arrests anyone who dares to challenge them.

This story reminds me of the bad old days when Cincinnati gave special protection to the Klan cross on Fountain Square.


Mississippians sue over climate change

A smashing legal assault against Corporate America for contributing to climate change is long overdue.

After an Alaska village launched a suit over climate change ruining locals' livelihoods, Mississippi farmers and other residents whose lives were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina have joined the cause.

The basis of the suit is this: Energy companies released greenhouse gases that contributed to climate change. This melted sea ice and increased sea levels - which added to the hurricane's damage.

Even the ultraconservative U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recognized the plaintiffs' standing to sue. This shows how weak Big Business's heavy-handed refusal to accept responsibility for climate change is. The polluters don't have a legal leg to stand on.

The Fifth Circuit's decision will likely encourage more climate change lawsuits - as well it should. Corporate America had years to mend its ways, yet it dragged its feet.


1 in 6 Americans now poor

Honesty should go a long way towards debunking the "prosperity" hoax that's flourished since the '80s.

A new formula for determining the poverty rate shows that 1 in 6 Americans now live in poverty - 7,000,000 more people than previously thought.

The new formula factors in soaring medical costs, child care, and regional costs of living. The old standard may have worked 30 years ago - but not in 2009.

The situation is actually even worse than it appears, because the economic safety net was so thoroughly gutted under the Contract With America. This measure still doesn't consider certain forms of government aid - which means the poverty rate is really much higher than this 1 in 6 figure.

The increase of poverty is fostered not only by politicians but also by media outlets who coddle their distorted, bombastic outlook. The entire "soak the poor" mentality of recent years is based on a web of filthy, evil, wicked lies.


Monday, October 19, 2009

The Gospel according to wingnuts

When I first saw this story, I thought it was just a parody. But nope! It's all too real.

Andy Schlafly is known as the intellectually flatulent doofus behind Conservapedia - which is like Wikipedia except that it was designed to be a retelling of The World According To Conservatives.

Now Schlafly is expanding his conservative funhouse world by trying to rewrite the Bible as well.

Schlafly has founded something called the Conservative Bible Project, which is working on a new version of the Bible that would eliminate "liberal" text. He complains that widely read translations of the Bible such as the King James Version and the New International Version (one of the most common English-language translations) contain too many socialist ideas.

One of Schlafly's big complaints about these Bible translations: They use the word 'laborer', which Schlafly says is socialist.

Among other changes Schlafly would make: While the King James Version says, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God," Schlafly would change "rich man" to "a man who cares only for money." Schlafly groans that the King James translation is an attack against the affluent.

Schlafly also declares that the biblical passage that says, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone," will be removed from his version because it was a "liberal addition."

Biblical scholars are highly critical of Andy Schlafly's efforts.

Schlafly's attention to economic terms is yet another example of how the right-wing brain trust tries to hide behind religion to keep the working class down. It's much like Star Parker's idiotic claim that progressive taxation violates the commandment that says, "Thou shalt not covet."

What's potentially dangerous is that dominionists expect the entire citizenry to be required to live by their warped interpretations of religious texts. And I'll be bipped if I'm going to live by their economic policies just because they misuse the Bible in an attempt to back these policies up.


Palin cultists r dumm

Sarah Palin being a national laughingstock doesn't mean she doesn't have a cult of followers who are determined to make her President of the Universe. She's still one of the frontrunners for the 2012 GOP nomination, thanks to them.

Palinism is embodied by Team Sarah, a group of activists that describes itself as being "dedicated to advancing the values that Sarah Palin represents in the political process" (which I guess means censoring library books and illegally intervening to fire state troopers).

Team Sarah membership is "by approval only", and its website is full of password-protected pages. So they're pretty secretive.

Anybip, Team Sarah recently sent out an alert to members about a "phone bank blast" in which they planned to bombard the U.S. Capitol's switchboard to complain about health care reform. This event was supposed to take place from 2 to 3 PM EDT on October 12.

One problem with that, Palin peeps. October 12 was a national holiday. Nobody was working at the Capitol that day to field Team Sarah's calls.

This story showcases the wingnuts' trademark combination of babyishness and dumbness. Abusing the Capitol switchboard is a sign of their immaturity; doing it on a day when nobody was even there to take their calls is something else altogether.

Private school teacher accused of roughing up 6-year-old

This is another story that (if the allegation is true) illustrates the abuse rampant in private schools.

A teacher at a Catholic school outside Cincinnati is accused of roughing up a 6-year-old boy at the school for trying to use the drinking fountain. The teacher is now charged with disorderly conduct over the incident.

Disorderly conduct? Why isn't she charged with assault?

On the other hand, at least she's being charged with something. After I was injured at least once by a teacher at a Catholic school, I just wish the authorities had reined in this abuse back then.


Obama launches new medical marijuana policy?

I sincerely hope this story is for real and not just another "strongly worded letter."

The Obama administration has announced a new policy on medical marijuana users. Under these new guidelines, users and suppliers won't be arrested as long as they follow state laws.

After Eric Holder has changed his stance countless times on this matter over the past 9 months, one hopes this policy isn't just talk.

If this policy is followed, this will be probably the most significant nationwide rollback of the failed War on Drugs in my lifetime. But perhaps it only seems significant because it differs so drastically from the policy of the Bush regime - which was to ignore state laws and prosecute seriously ill people no matter what the law said. (Bush really did take "regulation for thee, not for me" to new levels.)

The real test is: is the new policy talk or action? And if the prosecutions continue, will the states have the sense to prosecute the DEA for not following state law?


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Week 10 of POOP

Miracle of miracles: Google has finally deleted my copyrighted posts I asked to be removed months ago.

But our work isn't done: The removal tool is still down. And now old posts that folks successfully removed ages ago are reappearing. That includes several other posts of mine.

This was a problem at least once before, but Google then claimed they had fixed it for good. Oops.

This isn't just an issue of people trying to keep personal matters private and protect their works. What's going to happen to Google if something illegal that someone else posted but Google deleted reappears? What if somebody had posted child porn or violent threats against public officials, and it reappears on Google?

Google could actually be prosecuted if it allows illegal material to reappear on its site.

Also, remember how last week I told you that Google reportedly fixed its long-broken message search feature after reading about the problem in Wired? Welp, it's already broken again. This isn't a serious matter as far as this blog is concerned, but it bodes ill for other problems being fixed soon.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Bubble gum rapper (Bubble Gum Weekend)

Because the mere existence of bubble gum makes you tumble onto the floor in laughter, this is yet another Bubble Gum Weekend - in which we usually profile hilarious old gum commercials.

Care-Free put out a strange ad in 1992 for its bubble gum (a product nobody seemed to buy).

In this preposterous commersh, a stick of this massively unpopular brand of gum magically turns an opera singer into a hip rapper:

The ad is somewhat whimsical, though not quite as clever as earlier gum advertising promenades. But the fact that it shows a person repeatedly bubbling is considered by advertising experts to be the commercial's saving grace.

Trendy doesn't always mean more appealing. Even some viewers who cracked a smile at this ad probably still longed for the days of the goofy charm and simplicity of Care-Free's '70s ad campaign that featured historical figures like George Washington and the Wright brothers.

Now the '70s were some carefree times!

Insurers have an antitrust exemption now?

If there's one industry that doesn't need an antitrust exemption, it may be big insurance.

The Obama administration is warning the insurance racket that it may lose its antitrust exemption if it doesn't stop running deceptive, dishonest ads against health care reform.

The real story though is that insurance has such an exemption in the first place.

Why haven't the states reined this exemption in? Admittedly, amidst all the other signs of expanding economic fascism since the 1980s, it's been hard to notice their failure to do so.

We can't afford just to warn insurers about losing their exemption. We need to just go ahead and revoke this exemption. They should have had plenty of warning by now.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Judge guts ruling against Microsoft

Impartial juries are central to the legal system of any democratic republic.

Recently, a Rhode Island jury delivered a powerful blow against Microsoft for violating an Australian inventor's patent. Microsoft was ordered to pay $388,000,000 to the inventor.

But in BushWorld, no jury decision can be counted on to stand for very long before the judge decides to ignore it.

True to form, U.S. District Judge William Smith - another Bush appointee - decided to "vacate" the jury's ruling and rule in Microsoft's favor.

What was the point in even calling in a jury when the judge just ignores its verdict? If I was on that jury, I'd be furious that I took the time to hear the case only to have my decision ignored.

In the matchbook law world of BushAmerica, a major corporation barely has to crack its war chest to fund its case. Judges just rule in their favor almost by reflex.


Freepers think Alexander Hamilton was President (more Freeper Madness)

Now that the burper movement is spreading its ridiculous myth that natural-born citizens must have citizen parents, not even all right-wing blog diehards are buying this claim. Indeed, even a regular of extremist website Free Republic got a little bit suspicious of it.

But don't just assume this user is a history genius. This user said:

"Tell me how Alexander Hamilton become president..he was born in the East Indies."

For one thing, being a natural-born citizen wasn't a requirement to be President, if one was a citizen at the time the Constitution was adopted. Otherwise, America would have had to wait until 35 years after independence just to have a President.

I can overlook that Freeper error, because I doubt that it's an uncommon one. The more important point is that Hamilton's natural-born status wouldn't have mattered anyway - because Alexander Hamilton was never President!

The Freeper person who thought Hamilton was President not only flunked history but also geography. Hamilton wasn't born in the East Indies, but in the West Indies - which are in the Caribbean. The East Indies are in southern Asia - almost precisely at the other end of the world.

That's like how when I was 7 years old I thought Walter Mondale was born in Ceylon the country instead of Ceylon, Minnesota. The difference is that I think most Freepers are a bit older than 7 (though they have the emotional maturity of someone half that age).

This coming from the folks who think the czars were communist.

Bush diktat costs America the Olympics

When Cincinnati's economic booster class wanted to bring the Olympics to town, I took exception. The region lacks the infrastructure or facilities to handle it, and I knew local residents would be treated as criminals just stepping outside their house.

But Chicago really wanted the 2016 Summer Olympics. If they can handle it, that's their prerogative.

But Chicago didn't get the Olympics. The Windy City was the last choice of the International Olympic Committee. Why?

It turns out it's because the IOC didn't want athletes and fans to have to deal with Bush's tourist visa policy. Bush barked down this policy after 9/11.

Michael Froomkin, a law professor at the University of Miami in Florida, said that "the same stupid anti-visitor policy that is destroying American higher education" also cost America its hope of hosting the Olympics.

I'm not talking about minor inconveniences like customs agents asking tourists if they're bringing in beer. This is major: Even Americans have wound up dead in U.S. airport questioning rooms while trying to return home from abroad.

And who wants to spend bazillions on Olympics tickets only to find out they can't fly to Chicago just because someone with a similar name is on the no-fly list (the Bushist Bible)?

Say what you want about the Republicans at large, but one thing is for sure: Bush will forever be remembered as the Energizer Bunny of economic ruin.

In the meantime, it's long past time to reverse Bush's visa rules.


The latest hilarious burper meme

The birther movement - or as I call it, the burper movement - composes much of the useless skeletal husk that American conservatism has been reduced to.

After Orly Taitz found out the hard way that her frivolous lawsuit costs real money, the burpers have got to be feeling chastised.

So they've decided to unleash a whole new argument that's just as laughable as their claim that the President was born in Kenya. Now they're claiming Obama isn't a natural-born citizen even if he was born in America.

Their "reasoning": They claim that for a person to be a U.S. citizen at birth, both parents must be citizens. One burper screed declares, "In order to be a Natural Born Citizen, one must have parents - two parents, that are citizens of the Nation, and must be born on the soil of the Nation. It does not get any simpler than this."


The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution reads in part, "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside."

All persons. Understand? If you're born on U.S. soil, you're a natural-born U.S. citizen. The only exception is those not "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" - which means the offspring of diplomats, who enjoy diplomatic immunity.

Under certain circumstances, one may be a natural-born American citizen if born on foreign soil. This is not an issue in Obama's case, as he was born in the United States.

To back up their latest argument, burpers are citing court rulings that were issued before the Fourteenth Amendment passed. Thus, these rulings are no longer even in force.

None of this should even be a topic for this blog - except that the wingnutosphere still has more influence than it deserves. Their online presence is so bloated that it's impossible not to notice them.

So I still keep one eye on them.

Catholic school sued for expelling students

Contrary to popular belief, private schools are not above the law.

I attended some that thought they were, but they're not.

If you pay money for a service, you have a right to expect that service to be delivered. Similarly, if you pay tuition, you should be able to expect an education.

A Catholic school in Delray Beach, Florida, is now being sued by the parents of students who were expelled. The expulsions seem to be retaliation against parents who questioned the parish's financial practices.

This follows a scandal in which 2 priests were accused of stealing millions of dollars in church funds (including money from the collection plate). One of the clergymen allegedly spent almost $300,000 of this money to buy rare coins.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Man gets 1,000 lashes for discussing sex life

Why would an American blog be concerned with a foreign government's disdain for justice?

This story is of interest not just from a basic human rights standpoint but also from the perspective of foreign relations. The regime in Saudi Arabia is a longtime friend of the Bush clan, and we need to expose the dreadful human rights record of Bush's pals.

A 32-year-old divorced father of 4 in Saudi Arabia spoke openly about his sex life on a TV show. Following this appearance, a court sentenced him to 5 years in prison and 1,000 lashes.

I think any website or media outlet needs to be called out if they bash Hugo Chavez or Manuel Zelaya without giving at least as much time to criticizing Bush's friends in the Saudi regime. Venezuela would never sentence someone to 1,000 lashes just for discussing their sex life on TV.


"State opt-out for me, not for thee"?

What the hell kind of "compromise" is this?

Health care reform hasn't been abandoned - except by Congress, it seems.

There's a saying that, in a compromise between good and evil, only evil stands to benefit. I think this story illustrates this maxim spiffily.

As a handful of right-wing legislators in various states are threatening to pass bills to bar residents of their states from receiving benefits of a proposed national health care program, some in Congress think they can meet them halfway.

But let me tell you, we all know the corporatists don't settle for halfway. Whenever they get a foot in the door, it's all the way.

This "compromise" would let states opt out of national health care. At first, I wasn't concerned, because I figured that no state government would possibly be stupid enough to bar its citizens from benefiting from a popular public program.

Then I remembered a former Governor of Wisconsin named Tommy Thompson. Republican Thompson pulled his state out of AFDC, a federal assistance program for poor families. And the law didn't even authorize a state to unilaterally opt-out. Thompson had to get a federal waiver.

If a governor could pull his state out of a popular program like AFDC, what's to stop a state from doing the same with health care? Despite GOP losses, there's still no shortage of arrogant state leaders who don't care what the public thinks, because they know they'll stay in power through it all. (The names Rick Perry, Haley Barbour, and Bobby Jindal come to mind.)

You can also compare this to places that have tried to opt out of public education by turning their public schools over to private firms. If places get away with opting out of popular services like schools, why wouldn't they do the same to health care?

The Far Right keeps citing the Tenth Amendment to pull their states out of health care. But where were they when the draconian 1996 welfare "reform" law passed? The welfare "reform" law doesn't let the states opt out. This law prescribes in hairy detail who the states can give welfare to and how long poor families can collect. (Most state legislators were such wusses that they didn't dare to cite the Tenth Amendment then.)

The health care bill doesn't even tell the states what to do, yet still some state lawmakers think they can use the Tenth Amendment to opt out!

Did they even bother to read the Tenth Amendment? It was never intended for states to deny people federal benefits they deserve.

Sorry, Grandma. The government spent your money on bank bailouts.

Now it's official: For the first time since the low-inflation '70s, there will be no increase in Social Security or disability benefits.

That's because - according to official numbers - there has been no inflation in the past year. All that inflation is just a figment of our imaginations, you see. (Better up the Trilafon!)

Consumer prices have leveled off over the past few months, but were still skyrocketing through the end of last year. (See a pattern here?) Fact is, last year's soaring costs haven't been offset by later trends.

Big banks and insurers got a cost-of-living increase in the form of massive taxpayer-funded bailouts. Yet if you're disabled or elderly, you don't get anything.

Thankfully, President Obama seems to recognize that the inflation numbers are misleading, as he supports a one-time extra payment of $250 for Americans who receive these benefits. Already, people who must rely on benefits can barely make ends meet even if they spend their checks only on food, rent, and electricity. This is especially stinging because most of them have already paid into the system.

Obama's stance is an improvement, because we all know what would have happened under Bush. Not only would there not be this $250 extra check for people who get benefits. Everyone else would get $250, but people on Social Security or disability wouldn't. (Remember the "rebate" debacles?)


Let's buy the Washington Times a dictionary

Why should a progressive populist blog pay any attention to a right-wing scumbag rag with weak circulation numbers that was founded by a convicted tax cheat?

Because it bips.

Just joking!

The real answer is that the publication in question - the Washington Times - is now showcasing just how out of touch with reality it is. And it speaks volumes about the right-wing intelligentsia as a whole.

Today, the Washington Times ran an editorial accusing President Obama of waging a war against "independent" media.

What's the Timesies' definition of "independent"? Well, the only media organization that the Times cites as being under attack is Fox News.

Yes, the Times says Fox News is "independent" media.

Zine websites have got to be rolling on the floor in laughter over that claim!

Go look up the word 'independent' in your Merriam-Webster's, Timesies. The Last Word is independent. Fux News is as establishment as it possibly gets.

The Times also cites false statistics about Fox's popularity. Predictably, the piece accuses the White House of trying to "quash dissent" just by disagreeing with Fox's coverage.

If anyone was trying to stifle dissent, it was the Bush regime when it ordered Indymedia's servers to be raided in 2004. That was an outright assault on journalistic freedom.

What does it say about the conservative movement when the Washington Times says Fox News is "independent"? It's another illustration of how the right-wing brain trust is trying to manipulate public opinion by portraying themselves as oppressed victims.

I know that when I think of victims, I think of poor little Fox News. (That's sarcasm!)

ACLU may sue over Sudafed crackdown


After 2 towns in Missouri (Washington and Union) decided to defy federal law by making over-the-counter allergy drugs available by prescription only, the eastern Missouri chapter of the ACLU took notice.

This ridiculous, idiotic crackdown on these drugs hurts only innocent people, and the ACLU is now warning of a lawsuit against these 2 cities.

The only thing in this story I disagree with the ACLU about is an ACLU official's claim that these ordinances have "good intentions." I honestly don't think these ordinances do have good intentions.

At minimum, the original crackdown in the mid-2000s didn't. A Republican lawmaker in another state who led this effort was probably making meth himself and was just trying to use the new laws as a price support for his meth labs.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Kermit uses magic word! ('Sesame Street' Wednesday)

The English language is full of funny words: 'viaduct', 'mayhem', 'tirade'.

And what may be the funniest word of all: 'ruin'.

If the magic word was ever spoken on 'Sesame Street', that clip would be almost a shoo-in for this feature. And finally, one such sketch (reportedly from the show's first season) has turned up:


Hear that, everyone? Kermit the Frog said 'ruin'!!!

There was supposedly a longer version of this skit, in which Kermit uttered the magic word several more times.

Kermit's letter sure was ruined by Cookie Monster!

UN defends illegal Honduran coup

When did the United Nations become such a reliable apologist for right-wing dictatorships?

Of course, this is the same UN that interferes with countries' drug policy and let the Bush regime enjoy veto power over other countries. But now it's gone wackier than ever.

The UN is now defending the right-wing coup in Honduras. In fact, the UN is denying that it even was a coup. The UN said that the overthrow of democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya "was constitutional under the laws of the country."

Nice to know the UN has decided to anoint itself as a country's Supreme Court.

Now that the UN supports a dictatorship's violent putsch against a democratic government, what's next?

The United Nations is supposed to be a force for peace and human rights. But now that the UN has abandoned its purpose, the United States should consider withholding UN dues until it calls the Honduran coup what it is.

AIG execs lie about paying back bonuses

Remember when the government gave AIG skillions in taxpayer money?

And remember when AIG's executives squandered it all on pay bonuses for themselves?

And remember when they promised to pay part of it back? (Heaven forfend they have to pay all of it back like they should.)

Well, guess what?

Yep, you guessed it, peeps!

Now they're refusing to pay back even a nickel.

Over $200,000,000 of your hard-earned money down the portable poopot. You could have used your share of this $200,000,000 to help pay for your glasses or to take your kids to Mammoth Cave.

But nope. The only thing that's mammoth in this story is AIG's fleecing of hard-working taxpayers and the subsequent broken promises.


GOP candidate lived in luxury on taxpayers' dime

Chris Christie - Republican gubernatorial candidate in New Jersey - likes to portray himself as a mean, lean corruption-fighting machine. This despite the fact that he was U.S. Attorney under Bush, the most corrupt administration in America's history, and used his position to fix traffic tickets he received.

Now it turns out that Christie has lived the high life at taxpayer expense.

On at least 23 trips that Christie took on government business, he exceeded his hotel allowance by staying at luxury hotels. On 4 of these trips, lodging cost over $400 a night! Then he billed the government when he went over his allowance.

Christie also approved his top deputy Michele Brown exceeding the government allowance by staying at the same luxury inns where Christie was booked.


The downfall of one of few remaining viable Republican candidates for a major office in the Northeast may be unfolding right before our very eyes. And I can't say I feel sorry for the Republicans, after everything they've put America through.