Friday, August 27, 2010

Bret Schundler fired!

One of the most dangerous types of right-wingers is the type that never shuts up but is just adored by the media through thick and thin. The reason why they're so bad is that the media actually seems to give them credibility they don't deserve.

Bret Schundler - a longtime fixture in New Jersey Republican politics - is such a politician. I've been an avid critic of the former Jersey City mayor for years (including the time he copied a photo of a Howard Dean rally and hastily pasted a photo of himself over Dean). But now it's all crashing down for him.

It turns out the scandal surrounding New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's apparent inability to read a simple Race to the Top form wasn't completely Christie's fault after all. Most of it was actually the fault of Schundler, who Christie had appointed as education commissioner.

Christie had defended Schundler, saying he provided the information that had been excluded in the clerical error that cost the state $400,000,000 in federal school funds. But now a video proves that's a lie.

But when the truth came to light, Schundler didn't voluntarily resign. Instead, he asked Christie to fire him - just so he could collect unemployment benefits. You've got a hell of a way to cost New Jersey taxpayers' money, Bret.

Bye, Bret, you idiot.


Justice Department wants to gut climate change suit

Horseshit like this is why I switched to the Green Party.

When the Democrats do things that are phenomenally stupid like this, I can't be held responsible. It's just like with the school-to-prison conversions during the Clinton years or Ron Wyden's ridiculous crusade against pseudoephedrine.

After California and other states filed a lawsuit to require power companies to clean up their filthy practices that contribute to climate change, the Justice Department is now trying to block this suit.

Blocking the suit would be par for the course for, say, a John Ashcroft or an Alberto Gonzales. But the same can be said of Eric Holder, since he's made such little progress in his term as Attorney General.

The Justice Department is arguing that states have no power to regulate polluters, and that the states should be barred from suing power companies.

Stories like this make me ask what the point was in the Democrats spending all that money and effort in the last election. This policy of federal "preemption" of lawful state powers comes straight from the W-Bush top 40 survey. It violates the very foundation of federalism.

Obama ought to just fire Eric Holder already. Seriously. This has gone on long enough.

The power of states to sue irresponsible corporations is one of the things the Tenth Amendment was designed to cover.


Chris Christie's $400M clerical error

Just have a recall election already, will ya?

Embattled right-wing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has never governed as anything other than a complete fuck-up, and this story underscores this point.

The Garden State was in line to receive $400,000,000 in federal education funds through the Race to the Top program. But when Christie applied for the funds, he neglected to supply the necessary data on state education spending. This forced reviewers to take New Jersey out of the running for these funds.


Then, Christie refused to accept responsibility for his own stupid mistake - opting instead to blame President Obama. "He's going to have to explain to the people of the state of New Jersey why he's depriving them of $400 million," Christie said of the Commander-in-Chief.

So it's Obama's fault that Chris Christie can't even read a Race to the Top application? Governors of the other 49 states had no trouble at all with it.

One blogger said Christie's mistake "may have been the most expensive clerical error in the history of mankind."

Then again, considering the Christie administration's record, I can't possibly imagine that Christie would use the $400,000,000 on anything useful. This is the idiot who appointed the despicable Bret Schundler as school commish - and New Jersey schools lately have been beset by groupthink, forced drug tests, and corruption. If I lived in New Jersey, I wouldn't be any less likely to practice homeschooling than I would in Kentucky. In light of Christie's incompetence, maybe it's for the best that other states got the $400,000,000 instead. Other governors might spend it more wisely.

Grow up, Chris. Stop blaming everybody else because you can't understand a form that every other governor can handle with no problems whatsoever.


Guardsman faces prison for filming police

Outrageous. Simply outrageous.

After the rise of the surveillance state in the 1990s and 2000s, it's only fair to practice countersurveillance to keep the system honest. Such vigilance on our part is also downright necessary.

But don't tell that to right-wing authorities in Maryland.

Recently, police arrested a Maryland Air National Guard sergeant for speeding on his motorbike. The man being arrested captured the incident with a camera on his helmet. The video shows a plainclothes cop jumping out of an unmarked car and pointing a pistol at him.

But now the man is in trouble not for speeding - but for daring to film the policeman's unprofessional behavior. He's facing 16 years in prison just for making a video of the incident. After he posted the clip on YouTube, cops raided his home and seized (stole) his computer.

He's facing 16 years for making a video of his arrest??? It was on a public road, so what expectation does the police officer have of privacy?

This reminds me of back around 1996 when you started to see stories like this daily. How many of you really want to return to that era of police state growth that lasted for years? That's none of you, I see.


Lawn Chair Quarterback: "Passing Gas"

On a lighter note than we've seen this week, let's talk about passing gas. Farts. Bunker blasts. Letting the frippins out. Poots. Air biscuits. Trouser sneezes.

They're funny, after all.

Admit it. You laugh when people cut the Colby. But a small cadre of uptight individuals didn't think cracking a loominsky was so damn comical. What miserable, humorless lives they must have led.

This week's 'LCQ' episode deals with this strange, uncanny phenomenon:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Right-wing Senate candidate got bailout

In Wisconsin, popular Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold is facing a Republican challenger - right-wing extremist and climate change denier Ron Johnson.

I think Johnson is a longshot, but he's corporate-backed, and he'll get a lot of corporate personhood money. So keep an eye on him.

Johnson portrays himself as a businessfaced kind of guy. But - even though he rails against government funding for everything else - his business has accepted millions in bailout money. His company expanded thanks to a $2,500,000 handout issued by the city of Oshkosh, Wisconsin (site of my 1998 fact-finding mission).


Somehow I doubt Ron Johnson supports repealing the welfare "reform" law that robbed poor families. Yet he accepts taxpayer money for his business.

Johnson said the handout he received wasn't really a handout at all. Um, yes it was, Ron.

Once GOP hypocrisy comes to the fore again in the fall, I don't think Johnson is going to pose a real electoral threat - especially against somebody as popular as Feingold. But like I said, keep an eye on Johnson.


Want to discriminate? Don't take federal money!

Somebody on DU said it best: "Want to discriminate? Don't take federal money!"

Unfortunately, this concept is lost on the checkbook clergy that thinks it can discriminate on your dime.

Not all religious organizations are guilty of this, of course. But a well-organized, vocal faction of right-wing groups is unwavering in its insistence on receiving tax dollars to discriminate.

A new bill in Congress would prohibit religious groups from getting federal dough if they discriminate against job applicants on the basis of religion. But a group of conservative organizations is lambasting this bill.

Outrageously, they're claiming that the Constitution and the 1964 Civil Rights Act protect their "right" to discriminate.

They actually think the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects the "right" of groups that discriminate to receive tax money? Well, that's a new one.

If you want to discriminate, don't accept tax money! Fair enough? I and other working Americans don't toil day after day so somebody can use our hard-earned money to discriminate.

On the other hand, why are religious bodies being given tax money at all? This program of bailouts for religious groups dates back only to the right-wing Congress of the '90s, which included it as part of its disastrous welfare "reform" package. The First Amendment says we're supposed to have separation of church and state. Let's start acting like it again.


Cincinnati gets yet another religious radio station

Cincinnati is like other American radio markets in that 2 basic formats are vastly overrepresented. One is right-wing talk. The other is religion.

A lot of radio folks say religious radio can be great if it's done right - and I can appreciate that stance. But whether it's any good on its own isn't the main point here. The more important issue is diversity of voices.

WNOP is a Cincinnati area station that was once respected for its jazz format but now runs a satellite-fed ultraconservative Catholic format. Now WNOP's owners have purchased high school station WHSS, and they're turning it into another repeater of WNOP. (WNOP already has a simulcast for the Indiana portion of the market.)

When I studied broadcasting in college, one of the first things we learned is that the FCC is legally obligated to ensure a "diversity of voices" in radio and TV. The scuzzo Telecommunications Act of 1996 attempted to castrate this doctrine. Under constitutional law, however, the FCC is still required to enforce "diversity of voices."

The FCC needs to reject WNOP's takeover of WHSS. WHSS should be transferred to an independent owner to provide programming that is overseen by locals - not piped in from out of town.

Google runs ads that Facebook censored

It's pretty bad when Google in its present condition is beating you hands-down.

Facebook has just removed marijuana legalization ads that featured a pot leaf from its site. It's a fact that Facebook removed the ads just because of their stance. We know this because anybody who logs on to Facebook sees nothing but conservative ads. That's almost all Facebook seems to have - which I guess makes sense, considering how right-wing Facebook's overall content has become.

But now Google says it's accepting the legalization ads immediately.

Hopefully, this ad campaign isn't using Google's AdSense. AdSense stole hundreds of dollars from me by closing my account before paying me money I was owed.

Facebook censoring the ad underscores the fact that Facebook tries catering to an extremist clientele. And it shows more and more every day. I deactivated my Fascistbook account weeks ago, but just today I've heard of more stories proving just how pathological they are over there. Normal people don't say and do the things that are just a matter of course on Facebook.

Joining one stupid Facebook page can be written off as careless. Joining 2 such pages that spread the exact same right-wing lies makes a person a fit subject for the lunatic asylum. It's ironic that Facebook has so many pages that promote illegally violating people's constitutional rights - yet at the same time Facebook accuses a marijuana legalization ad of supporting illegal activity.

I can't tell you how thankful I am that I had the good sense to ditch Facebook.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ernie, Bert, and the saucers ('Sesame Street' Wednesday)

O to be Ernie and Bert! These men live a life that's free!

Notice how the 'Sesame Street' comedic duo possesses so many nice things - a huge apartment, fine china, a lamp that doesn't spontaneously combust, everything. Yet have you ever seen them working?

Don't get me wrong: Like everybody who has ever lived in the history of the universe, I love Bert and Ernie. But the way America is supposed to work is that you earn your keep. You don't just get freebees your whole life. You have to work for it! Big banks and airlines that got free bailout money from the taxpayers might not think so, but that's a fundamental truth.

I'm not saying Bert and Ernie are lazy. I'm sensitive about being called lazy, because I still remember the teachers in high school lecturing me and my classmates to try to make us think we were. Nothing was ever good enough for that school, and they broke us. But perhaps the Dynamic Duo are just unmotivated and directionless. They don't know what to do with their lives.

That still doesn't explain how they've been able to pay the rent on time for the past 41 years. Maybe the reason Grover has to take so many different jobs and has nothing to show for it is that Ernie and Bert keep burglarizing and stealing from him and he has to keep up with that. (B and E. Bert and Ernie. Breaking and entering. Hmm.)

I've already profiled the hilarious 1973 sketch in which Ernie counts cups and saucers and Bert sweats bullets worrying about Ernie breaking them. I got such a positive response that I'm profiling it again here:

Having the finest dishware known to mankind is the main Ernie and Bert pleasantry to appear in that segment.

Everybody I know keeps having their dishes permanently stained by the local water supply, but the cups and saucers in that skit seem to be stain-resistant.

Now, back to work - and more job hunting!

Taxpayers forced to bankroll GOP's mosque tantrum

The Republicans are such failures that they're building most of their national campaign around the "Ground Zero mosque" that they lie about.

Then again, why not? The GOP can't run on the economy, since everybody knows they caused the recession. They can't run on opposing the stimulus package, because that just reminds people of why the stimulus was needed in the first place. They can't run on - well, anything.

The "Ground Zero mosque" issue is going to go just as badly for them. For starts, they're lying about the location of it. They keep claiming that the proposed Muslim community center - known as Park51 - is on the former World Trade Center site, when actually it's several blocks away. So the GOP lied.

Maddeningly, this idiotic meme is being funded by the taxpayers.

In 1998, a right-wing Congress created the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Congress claimed the purpose of this panel was to monitor religious freedom around the world. But - like everything else by the GOP Congress of that era - this has turned out to be yet another lie. This commission still exists and is still financed entirely by the federal government (i.e., the taxpayers), which gives it $4,300,000 a year. Leaders of this commission now say that Muslims aren't free to build a community center anywhere in New York.

You read that right: A committee that's supposed to protect religious freedom is trying to deny religious freedom to Muslims.

USCIRF has also been the target of an EEOC complaint because it discriminates against Muslim employees.

One of USCIRF's 9 members is right-wing extremist Nina Shea, who has long been a mucketymuck in the neoconservative world. Shea has tried to block Park51 from being built.

USCIRF chair Leonard Leo has also tried to block it. Leo is a big shot in the extreme-right Federalist Society and is director of Liberty Central, a Tea Party group. The misnamed Liberty Central has begun a petition drive against Park51.

Another USCIRF panelist, Richard Land, has also publicly opposed Park51.

If Congress can defund ACORN, why can't they defund USCIRF?

What's significant from an electoral standpoint is that the taxpayers are being forced to bankroll a Republican campaign theme. The GOP machine is so interlocked with USCRIF that this committee is little more than a partisan arm.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

No brotherly love for blogs in Philly

Well, it was going to happen sooner or later, I suppose.

At one time, blogs used to be a fiefdom of the Right. Blogs buttressed right-wing attempts to discredit the Bush National Guard memos, for instance. Although the documents were never actually debunked, the right-wing take on these memos still looms large.

Today, however, blogs are a credible alternative to the dinosaur press. Dissenters against the right-wing order can finally afford to get into the blogging biz - and the tide finally began to turn.

This does not sit well with city rulers in Philadelphia.

The city is now billing bloggers $300 for a business license - even though some of these blogs are nonprofit, and most that aren't don't even bring in $300! One blog made only $11 over 2 years.

It's unclear what political affiliations (if any) are displayed by all of these blogs - though it's clear that some aren't conservative.

I strongly doubt that the broken remains of the Bulletin - a right-wing Philly paper that seems to now limit its activity to occasional online articles - is being forced to pony up. If the Bulletin had to pay this fee, you can bet your bottom dollar YOU WOULD HEAR ABOUT IT.

This is so plainly a case of censorship by right-wingers that one wonders how the city can get away with it. The attack on bloggers is in effect a journalism license. In democratic republics based on the free flow of ideas, we don't require licenses to practice journalism.

My solution: If I lived in Philadelphia, I would not pay up. It's that simple. I refuse to pay to exercise my right to free speech.


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Cat Food Commission soils the litterbox

There's an elephant in the room, and it's called the Cat Food Commission.

The Cat Food Commission is a common name for a shadowy government committee that's produced an output of unadulterated meanness that hasn't been seen in America since the Nazi wave of the mid-'90s.

The right-wing intelligentsia - with lots of help from the pop-up media - has long spread a Big Lie about Social Security. According to them, folks in the workforce who now pay into Social Security are funding seniors who currently get benefits - and that Social Security will go broke unless benefits are slashed and the retirement age is raised (again).

This is a lie, and it serves no purpose other than to deprive people of benefits they paid for. That used to be known as theft.

The truth is as simple as this: People paying into Social Security now are paying for their own future benefits - not the benefits of current recipients. If it goes broke, it's because of mismanagement.

The Cat Food Commission is an "independent" government committee charged with finding ways to "save" Social Security. They've tried to keep their doings secret, but little by little, their ideas leak out.

Among them: raising the retirement age, slashing benefits, and even abolishing cost-of-living increases.

Nice to know the Cat Food Commission is getting its ideas from The Onion.

Why is it called the Cat Food Commission? When the 104th Reich slashed Social Security and other benefits in the '90s, many elderly and other Americans were forced to live on dog food. Folks who didn't even have a dog could be seen at any supermarket filling their shopping carts with Gaines Burgers. The determination to force folks who worked hard and saved up money all their lives to rely on pet food lives on in the Cat Food Commish.

And the Cat Food Commission is hardly "independent." It's dominated by right-wing voices - despite being created by the Obama administration (under threats from right-wing members of Congress). The committee reads like a Who's Who of the government and corporate worlds.

You toiled like the dickens your whole life only to have these unthinking clods tell you to give up some of the benefits you've already paid for? Is that fair?

I'm going to be perfectly frank here. Why should there even be any conservatives on this panel? Let's be honest: Conservatives ran America for 28 years stopless, and they proved they couldn't govern competently. Understand? They governed through meanness and demagoguery.

The Cat Food Commission is empowered to submit legislation to Congress to be voted on up-or-down - with no changes or amendments allowed. If that happens, we're all up Bunk Gas Creek.

If there's a shortfall in paying for Social Security, maybe we ought to look at not giving big banks a huge bailout the next time they ask for it. Perhaps if so much money hadn't been squandered on useless wars in Iraq, there'd be more money to pay for Social Security now.

Don't let the Meow Mix Morons steal what you worked so hard for. If we all have to take to the streets to fight this robbery, so be it.

D.C. now freest state; Mississippi least free

With Labor Day looming, it's time for our annual ranking of the states that are the most economically fair.

There's been an almost imperceptible change in methodology since last year's ranking, but the rankings are still comparable. This freedom ranking ranks states on how fair they are to the working public based on an assortment of economic policies. It doesn't perfectly correspond to partisan preferences in national elections, though you will notice that Republican states generally perform worse on this list.

According to this list, the freest state isn't even a state! District of Columbia provides the most worker freedom - knocking Oregon off the top of last year's ranking. Mississippi is the most oppressed state - kicking Texas off last year's throne.

Some of you who live in states that score well on this list are probably asking how your state ranks so high. I can guarantee you, however, that there's oodles of states worse than yours.

This year's rankings...

1. District of Columbia
2. Delaware; Montana (tie)
4. Oregon
5. New Mexico
6. New York
7. Missouri
8. Massachusetts
9. Illinois
10. Wisconsin
11. Ohio
12. Washington
13. Kentucky; Maryland; West Virginia (tie)
16. Connecticut
17. Colorado
18. Vermont
19. New Hampshire
20. Michigan
21. California
22. Maine
23. Pennsylvania
24. Hawaii
25. Rhode Island
26. Alaska
27. Minnesota
28. New Jersey
29. Indiana
30. Oklahoma
31. Kansas
32. North Carolina
33. Arkansas; Iowa (tie)
35. Wyoming
36. Alabama; Georgia; Louisiana; Virginia (tie)
40. North Dakota
41. Nebraska
42. Idaho; South Carolina (tie)
43. Arizona
44. Tennessee
45. Nevada
46. Utah
47. South Dakota
48. Florida
49. Texas
50. Mississippi

To quote Casey Kasem: And there ya have 'em!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Lawn Chair Quarterback: "Czar Ronnie"

Did you know that Sir Ronnie was also Czar Ronnie?

Ronald Reagan was the man who brang czars to America. He invented the position of drug czar - which led to the later czars.

The latest 'Lawn Chair Quarterback' episode explores the Tea Parties' ignorance about czars. The Tea Party whack-a-doodles believe: 1) The czars of Russia were communist; 2) Obama started the idea of czars in American government; and 3) Obama is a communist because of it.

The Lipton Lugnuts are wrong on all 3 counts. Wrong on that, wrong on everything.

This 'LCQ' debunks the Tea Parties' idiotic misunderstandings:

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Have no fear, ish #458 is here!

Can you believe The Last Word has been around 17 years?

Now we've published issue #458, and it's a doozy. This edition discusses topics like these:

• The latest right-wing power grab by local suburbs.

• Why I left Facebook.

• The Tea Party having its pwecious widdle feewings hurt.

• When government cheese was a real program.

• When Wikipedia says I'm right, and the other side is wrong.

• The drug war's link to the recent home invasions we've experienced.

• The decline of a once-edible breakfast cereal.

So point your pooper here:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Iraq War ends

Big news: The 7-year-long Iraq War has now officially ended. All U.S. combat troops are being pulled out of Iraq right now.

The end of the war meets the deadline set by President Obama when he took office.

This long war is finally over.

Of mice and milk

Another day, another instance of a mouse being found in food sold by the Wal-Mart retail empire.

There was a series of incidents like this about 3 years back, and now a Louisville area family has fallen victim. They're suing Wal-Mart because they found a dead mouse in a carton of milk they purchased at Sam's Club.

They had already consumed much of the milk before finding the mouse. Drinking the tainted milk made them sick.

Welcome to the Wal-Mart world of mice in milk, folks.

Feds won't charge school in laptop spying case

After the Lower Merion School District near Philadelphia was caught using cameras on school-issued laptops to illegally spy on students in their own bedrooms, you'd think stiff prison terms would be in the cards for school officials.

But who would we be kidding? Schools are never held accountable for anything, no matter how much proof of their wrongdoing looms in plain sight.

Now the FBI and federal prosecutors are refusing to file charges against the weirdoes who run the school district. They say there's not enough evidence that they had any criminal intent.

So we're supposed to believe that the school spied on teenagers in their bedrooms because they thought it was legal?

I think some firings of some federal prosecutors might be in order.


Airlines want bailout in Kentucky

Watch your wallet!

Kentucky taxpayers are about to be fleeced for a lavish bailout for the airline industry. While airline monopolies reject any attempts at regulation, saying it's "big government", they're all for big government as long as it helps them.

Unspecified airlines that operate in Kentucky are asking state lawmakers for a taxpayer-funded bailout. This despite the state's budget woes. And Republican legislators seem pretty keen on the idea.

I'd say airlines are already getting rich on Kentuckians' backs. The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport has the highest air fares in the nation, because of Delta's monopoly there. Monopolies like this have helped damage the region's economy - not enhance it as its apologists claim.

This follows the Bush regime's airline bailout of the early 2000s that went virtually unchallenged and is already largely forgotten.

So where's my bailout, Repubs?

I want, I want... ('Sesame Street' Wednesday)

Usually, this feature includes a classic 'Sesame Street' sketch, but once again, I'm regaling you with one that I'd love to see again but can't find.

In the late '70s, an episode of the ol' Ses featured a storyline in which Luis thought Maria had burglarized the Fix-It Shop. Or maybe it was the other way around - except why would Luis break into his own place? All I remember is that there was an apparent burglary at the Fix-It Shop, and one of the characters blamed the other.

Following the repeated home invasions on my block, I'd love to see that sketch again! The look on Luis's face when he thought he'd been robbed must have been priceless!

Has anyone suspected Ernie might be behind all these break-ins? He seems to have a lot of money to buy strange things. It's probably not Grover, because he holds so many jobs that he fails at that he doesn't have time to break into the Fix-It Shop.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Utah legislature: tough on kids in wheelchairs!

Here's another outrage from those masters of disaster known as the Utah legislature.

A new Utah law eliminates references to some service animals for the disabled - thus disallowing them in some public places. This has left many disabled residents fearing for their rights or even their ability to get a service animal at all.

Strikingly, this state law is attempting to illegally override the Americans with Disabilities Act, which was designed to protect the rights of the disabled and offers strong protections for service animals.

Lawmakers' excuse for their new law is that they claim the disabled were "abusing" the ADA. This echoes the right-wing canard that was lodged against the poor as an excuse for punitive welfare "reform."

First they came for the poor. Now they're coming for the disabled.


Friday, August 13, 2010

Lawn Chair Quarterback: "List Of Things That Have Rights"

The Supreme Court's rogue Citizens United ruling means one thing in a nutshell: Inanimate objects (specifically corporations) have rights. People don't. (Unless of course they're a serial home invader like what we've experienced lately, but that's another matter entirely.)

All this is bogus, of course. That's why I urge Congress and the states to defy this ruling and dare right-wing Justices to do anything about it. They've dragged their feet regarding the constitutional amendment they promised, and conservatives on the Supreme Court just ignore the Constitution anyway. So why rely on just an amendment to fight the Supremes' extremism?

Our latest 'Lawn Chair Quarterback' tackles the phenomenon of corporate personhood:

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The amazing business that doesn't Make Money strikes again!

Not unpredictably, LeftMaps has come under fire from the extreme right lately - because it's not profitable enough.

According to them, LeftMaps has no business existing, because it doesn't make enough money. So it doesn't really count as real work.

In conservaworld, what doesn't Make Money is useless. They consider PBS and NPR useless, because they are not commercial enterprises. Conservatives consider charities useless for the same reason.

Maybe the only thing that's truly useless is their precious "free market." It rewards the garbage that fills commercial TV, while insightful and educational programs on public TV have to seek funding from outside these rigid constraints.

The bailout scandals prove that - in conservaworld - those who have money are the ones who get money.

Money money money money money. That's all they care about.

LeftMaps of course takes exception to this ideology. After releasing Cincinnati area bike routing software in late July, LeftMaps has now completed the latest map in its series. The newest map deals with the Cincinnati neighborhood of Mount Adams. This map does not however feature index lines, because it may someday be merged with the Downtown map.

To eye these beautiful maps, point your pooper here:

Missouri county might ban bikes

As bicycling has received increased working-class interest - thanks to confiscatory car insurance rates and oil company price-gouging - it's also fallen under growing attack from right-wing elitists.

Now a major county in Missouri wants to ban cycling altogether.

In St. Charles County - a heavily populated and rapidly growing bailiwick outside St. Louis - a new measure would impose an outright ban on bicycling. This is a response to wealthy residents complaining about cyclists using "their" roads - even though the roads are public.

Hay geniuses, most of America's roads (except for freeways) were actually designed for bikes. Many roads predated cars. If any device should be banned, it's hulking SUV's that are too wide and heavy for many roads.

Almost every time you see a report of an unusual traffic accident - such as a vehicle plowing into a building - it's an SUV. The physical characteristics of SUV's make them prone to mishaps like this.

If the bike ban passes, you have my permission to defy it.


Wells Fargo loses lawsuit over scam

Telephone harassment mill and bailout recipient Wells Fargo has now lost a lawsuit involving a scam that it pulled.

A federal judge has ruled that the banking giant must pay about $203,000,000 to customers who were defrauded. Wells Fargo manipulated debit card transactions by processing bigger transactions first - which incurred multiple overdrafts instead of just one. Thus, customers were hit with multiple overdraft charges. Customers were not informed of this policy.

It's also reported that there is a much larger class action suit pending in Florida against Wells Fargo and other big banks over the same scam. Other banks have been accused of holding on to deposited checks for days before processing them, just so accounts become overdrawn.

The next step needs to be to make Wells Fargo pay up for all its harassing phone calls.


Lorene Yarnell dies

Lorene Yarnell - of the popular '70s TV series 'Shields & Yarnell' - died on July 29 of a brain aneurysm at the age of 66.

'Shields & Yarnell' was a variety show on CBS that enjoyed immense viewership during its 1977-78 run. The mime team also appeared on other series, such as 'The Muppet Show', and in TV commercials.

Details here:,0,888910.story

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Billy Joel will take you just the way you are, Oscar ('Sesame Street' Wednesday)

Billy Joel must be the world's biggest 'Sesame Street' fan. After all, he mentioned the ol' Ses in his hit song "Pressure."

And when he wears out his pianos, he takes them to our favorite alley and donates them to a worthy cause: Oscar the Grouch!

In this 1988 sketch - which also features Marlee Matlin - the ol' Osk gets to enjoy a free concert from the Piano Man himself. He even gets a used piano:

In the end, however, Oscar doesn't want the piano because it's properly tuned.

But Billy Joel will take you just the way you are, Osky.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Rand Paul accused of abducting woman

Alright, that's about enough of you, Rand.

Rand Paul - Republican Senate candidate in Kentucky - is now being accused of abducting a woman and forcing her to smoke pot and perform a bizarre ritual. The alleged incident - reported by GQ magazine - was supposedly part of a "prank" while Paul attended Baylor University. (Paul claims to have received a bachelor's degree from Baylor, but he never did. He did however attend school there.)

Something like this is not a "prank." A prank would be sticking bubble gum on a 4 Non Blondes poster at the student radio station. Kidnapping is not a "prank." Just because Rand Paul lived a life of privilege doesn't mean that he can call his alleged crimes a "prank." If I did something half as bad as what he allegedly did, I'd be doing hard time.

Rand Paul isn't denying the story. Instead, he's attacking the media for a "leftist agenda."

If the story is true, Paul is absolutely unfit to serve in the Senate.

Former Sen. Ted Stevens killed in plane crash

Former Sen. Ted Stevens, an Alaska Republican, was killed in a plane crash last night. He was 86.

The legislator was defeated for reelection in 2008 after involvement in a corruption scandal.

The plane crash also killed several other people, possibly including Sean O'Keefe, who headed NASA under Bush.

Details here:

Psych ward murders teen

Once again, a confinement facility has killed a child. And once again, nobody is being held responsible.

Although the story is just now coming to light, it happened last October at DePaul Health Center - a long-troubled St. Louis area hospital. The victim was a 16-year-old girl held at the psych ward.

Two guards grabbed her arms and shoved her face-down onto a chair. The autopsy confirmed she died from being sedated and suffocated on the chair.

And get this: Prosecutors say no charges are being filed because there's too many people involved to determine whose fault it was. Obviously, it was the fault of more than one hospital employee. If prosecutors can't determine who, then why don't they charge the hospital itself?

This occurred the year after a patient died at the hospital after 5 days in seclusion.

And so, murderers walk free once again.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Library ordered to destroy books

And so it begins. The Chris Christie book-burnings, that is.

The city of Camden, New Jersey, is forced to close its entire public library system before the end of the year - because right-wing Gov. Chris Christie has reduced state aid to such a paltry sum that the library can't stay open.

Because of this, this working-class city is now one of few places in America where residents can't even borrow books for free.

It gets worse. Much worse.

Library officials wanted to keep the books in the shuttered buildings in case the libe someday reopened. But then the Christie regime told them they had to destroy the books because keeping books in a building is supposedly a fire hazard.

Then why wasn't it a fire hazard when the library was open? Wouldn't it be more of a danger when there's actually people around?

As a result of this, almost 200,000 books as well as countless irreplaceable historical documents and newspapers stored on microfilm must be destroyed.

This isn't just a case of zealous bureaucrats or the public losing an important service. This is an out-and-out case of censorship - and it's deliberate on Christie's part. He is a modern-day book-burner.

If America can afford to start an illegal war with Iraq, it can certainly afford to keep a library open. If it can afford new stadiums every 10 years to please greedy sports team owners, it can afford to keep a library open.

To dispose of the books, the library must rent 7 dumpsters, which will cost thousands. If the Christie budget has money for 7 dumpsters, it certainly has money to safely house the books.

If I was in charge of Camden's library system, I would defy Christie outright. And if he doesn't like it, he can go fuck himself.


Debt collector busted for racist calls

It's happened to all of us: You work hard, and you live a life free of luxuries just to get by. Inevitably, however, a debt collector bombards you with countless harassing phone calls over debts you don't owe. Often, they claim to be trying to collect debts from somebody who you barely know or don't know at all.

My book 'A Mind's Smithereens' contains a brief vignette describing how I seem to have gotten rid of these criminals - at least for the past 8 months or so.

But what if the debt collector fills their messages with vulgarities and racial slurs? That's exactly what happened to a Texas man.

The Pennsylvania-based Advanced Call Center Technologies shelled the man with repeated racist calls claiming he owed $200 - though in fact he didn't owe a damn thing. The firm called him almost around the clock - from 6:30 AM to 11 PM.

But the recipient of these calls fought back. He saved the calls as evidence, and now a jury has made the debt collector pay $1,500,000 over the calls.

Now who's in debt?


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Google censors newsgroup

Since this is a day ending in 'y', it means Google fucked up at something. And this story so clearly points to a conspiracy that one wonders why no other blogs have picked it up.

Google Groups once carried - just as it purports to carry all the other countless newsgroups that are out there. But this week, I read that Google dropped this group and gave users this message: "The group named has been removed because it violated Google's Terms Of Service."

I thought this had to be just a misunderstanding - until I tried looking for this group on Google and found it was true. Google has deleted this group from its supposedly "complete" Usenet archives and from its Google Groups service.

Google doesn't specify how a group about alternative medicine violates its terms of service. For one thing, it's not a Google group. It's a Usenet group, and Usenet is not owned by anybody, let alone Google. For another, how can the subject matter possibly violate its terms?

Supposedly, Google started blocking this group as a warning to one of its users who allegedly violated Google rules. In other words, one person abused it, so Google blocked everybody else. That's like if the highway department closes an entire road because one person runs a stop sign. So I don't believe that was the reason. No sirree!

I believe with almost 100% certainty that Google blocked this group because drug companies wanted it blocked due to its subject matter. I'm convinced of it. After Google yanked this blog's AdSense account because of its political views, what other conclusion is there?

At the same time, however, Google carries newsgroups that are designed only as attack groups and don't have a shred of redeeming value. Google even carries groups that were founded to defame specific individuals who aren't even public figures.

To sum up, we can say with near-certainty that Google deleted an alternative medicine group just because Big Pharma told it to. That's what Google has stooped to.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Lawn Chair Quarterback: "Tim Enters The Twilight Zone"

Today I learned the hard way that those of my lowly station are not allowed in the increasingly well-to-do Cincinnati neighborhood of Columbia-Tusculum.

Fuck 'em. I'm not letting that stop me from showing up again sometime later.

After exploring a particular street just to see where it went, I was confronted by a mighty mob of 2 people to interrogate me about why I dared to use "their" road - even though the street is public. That's right, 2 WHOLE people! I wasn't intimidated by their scare tactics - because this is the 2010 Tim, after all. Although I was confronted, a person blocking the street with an SUV (with its motor running for minutes on end) was not.

That's not to pick on just Columbia-Tusculum. If a neighborhood within the city is this intent on keeping the poor out, you can only imagine what the suburbs must be like. Believe me, I know.

Accordingly, 'Lawn Chair Quarterback' explores the phenomenon of twilight towns - neighborhoods or cities that prohibit the poor from entering:

Elena Kagan confirmed

We've hardly heard anything about it, but Elena Kagan has now been confirmed to the Supreme Court by a vote of 63 to 37 - largely along party lines.

Although several Republicans voted to confirm, the only Democrat who voted to reject Kagan was reportedly Ben Nelson. Surprise, surprise.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Meet Buttbreath

Meet Gary Glenn - also known as Buttbreath.

Of all the bulwarks of modern American conservatism, so-called "right-to-work" laws have got to be among the very dumbest.

Although conservatives claim to be for less government, this law expands government by requiring union workers to subsidize nonunion labor. The result of this is that workers in states that have such a law have often become too weak to effectively bargain for decent wages or safe conditions. I call them work-for-less laws.

Last Labor Day weekend, this blog ran an expose on Virginia's late Gov. Bill Tuck - the braggart widely believed to have been the inspiration for the wretched Taft-Hartley Act, which encouraged work-for-less laws. With Labor Day looming next month, we'd like to tell you about Gary Glenn - the right-winger who brang work-for-less laws to Idaho.

Neckties have flowed lately in Idaho, as corporate greed merchants there have held fancy balls to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Gem State's passage of its work-for-less law. In doing so, these zillionaires have welcomed Gary Glenn back to their state.

Back in 1985, Glenn was a commissioner in Boise's Ada County. He used his office to push for the work-for-less law's passage. Democratic Gov. John Evans vetoed the bill, but the legislature overrode his veto - making this an ugly instance of lawmakers overriding a veto in order to pass a law that harmed the public. Kind of like when Taft-Hartley's backers overrode President Truman's veto.

After Gary Glenn got his way, he was nicknamed Buttbreath by a fellow commish and later lost reelection. He then skipped town and moved to Michigan - to head that state's chapter of the extreme-right American Family Association. Now he's the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit to overturn hate crime laws, as he absurdly claims that these laws violate freedom of religion.

The guy's full of stupid arguments, isn't he? Maybe some religions obligate adherents to beat up people because of their race or sexual orientation. I guess that's why Glenn thinks hate crime laws violate religious freedom.

Meanwhile, what do Idahoans think about Buttbreath's work-for-less law? One reader of the Idaho Statesman newspaper sarcastically observed, "It's great! Let's see, we have wages that keep us at or below poverty level, we can be terminated with no warning or reason, we have no benefits or rights of any kind! What more could we want."

Firing workers for no warning or reason is what Buttbreath calls "small government" and "economic freedom." Reminds me of the "war is peace" mantra from '1984'.

Cookie Monster takes on corporate personhood ('Sesame Street' Wednesday)

Well, Supreme Court, you screwed up with the Citizens United ruling. Not like this decision should be considered binding, as it is a rogue court packed with appointees of unelected dictators like Bush.

Even Cookie Monster agrees with us: Corporations are not alive. They do not grow. They do not breathe. They do not eat - unless you count the bailout money that they wolf down.

So - unlike living things such as people and Muppets - corporations are not entitled to soft, cuddly things such as constitutional rights. Our rights club is supposed to be only for living beings.

In this 'Sesame Street' segment, ol' Cooks draws the distinction between the living and the unliving:

Maybe the Supreme Court needs to watch that sketch. Corporation not grow, it not breathe, it not eat. Cookie Monster alive. Corporation not alive.

Also notice that right before Cookie Monster starts speaking in that sketch, a very faint rumble of flatulence can be heard.

BP wins $9.9B bailout

Another story you heard first from the News Newt. Or maybe not.

BP has just received a bailout of $9,900,000,000 - all paid for by you, the U.S. taxpayer.

Maddeningly, BP says it can claim this bailout as part of a tax credit incurred by the recent oil spill. In other words, it wouldn't have gotten a bailout if not for the spill.

What this really means is that BP was just paid billions of dollars by the government to spill oil and foul our beaches. Simply put, it goes like this: Spill oil, win billions. No punishment, just rewards. If you're BP, criminal negligence pays.

Maybe I'll go dump some oil somewhere so I can get paid billions of dollars.


Missouri blocks health care law?

I have some good news and some bad news.

The bad news: Missouri voters voted yesterday by a smashing margin of 73% to 27% to block part of the new federal health care law.

The good news: The part they voted to block is the part that should have never passed anyway - namely, the requirement that everybody buy insurance from a for-profit corporation. Although the Republicans claim to oppose this part now, they supported it for years.

Then again, Missouri doesn't have power to block it, because it doesn't truly infringe on state powers. So we're back to square zero.

Assuming the Missouri referendum actually did anything, how valid is it, considering that the vote occurred on the day of the primary instead of the general election? Republicans made sure the referendum was on primary day because their party had more competitive primaries than the Democrats and other parties - thus, more Republicans would be out there voting. The referendum might be invalidated just because it was timed to suppress turnout of Democrats and independents.

About a decade ago, right-wing activists in the city of Holland, Michigan, used a similar gimmick. They got a referendum placed on the ballot that would have required the local library to block websites they disagreed with. That's their idea of "small government." However, they scheduled the referendumb for Republican primary day - which was different from the date of the Democratic primary. This was all for naught though: Despite inflated GOP turnout, the measure still lost.

Now the real question is: Where's the public option we were promised? Huh, Congress?


Monday, August 2, 2010

Glad to be off Facebook!

I deactivated my Facebook account yesterday, and when I see stories like this about Fascistbook's ongoing censorship of pages it disagrees with, I have no regrets about leaving:

That article is about Facebook's recent closure of a group dedicated to freeing political prisoner Ricardo Palmera.

Meanwhile, reports continue to emerge that Facebook is erasing posts of people who disagree with right-wing pages.

Ah! Some bike routing software! Ew!

This blog has a new cash cow - even though it's FREE to you, the bespectacled reader! And it's part of LeftMaps, our ongoing Cincinnati area mapping project that helps support this blog.

I've released brand new Cincinnati area BICYCLE ROUTING SOFTWARE! It's downloadable, and it works with Windows.

Before running this program, be sure to read the user guide. It will bring you fun and excitement from tonight until the end of time!

To download LeftMaps Router, point your pooper here:

Broadcasting company fined for payola

You heard it first from the News Newt...

Univision - one of the biggest broadcasting companies in America - has now been fined $1,000,000 by the FCC for payola. Univision had accepted payments from a record label to get the label's music on the company's radio stations.

This follows a story several years ago in which the FCC docked Clear Channel, Citadel, and CBS for similar payola. You probably never heard that story though, because these 3 companies owned so much of the media that the story was hardly reported!

Hell, I knew 20 years ago that the radio industry was awash in payola. How else did some of the crappiest music of that era ever get so much airplay? My suspicion was confirmed shortly thereafter when I read that radio personnel were receiving money and drugs from record companies in exchange for airtime. Ironically, some of the recording artists who benefited from this payola liked to boast of how drug-free they were. Everybody else is a stoner, huh?


Westboro cultist extorts thousands from city

Another day, another outrage by Fred Phelps's anti-people Westboro cult.

Phelps's daughter, Shirley Phelps-Roper, is the disgusting, scowling meanie who is often interviewed on cable regarding the right-wing cult's activities. She reminds me of a teacher I had in 4th grade who dug her fingernails into my arm and dragged me down the hall.

Now Shirley Phelps-Roper has extorted $17,000 from the city of Bellevue, Nebraska, in exchange for dropping a lawsuit against the town.

America is supposed to have broad free speech protections, and I'm cognizant of the fact that cities must be held to these standards. The Constitution must protect all. But nobody in their right mind would claim the Westboroists were truly harmed to the tune of $17,000.

This comes on the heels of the father of a deceased soldier being ordered by a right-wing federal court to pay the cult's legal fees after he sued the cult for disrupting the funeral.

This is how the Phelpses make their living. They extort money from cities and (thanks to Bush-appointed judges) win huge windfalls from families of deceased military personnel. If they were more interested in legal principle than in money, they would have let the Nebraska case go to trial instead of just taking the dough. But you can't expect right-wing bigots to give a shit about law, I guess.

They just got $17,000 for free, while most folks in my city don't make that much in a year.