Monday, February 28, 2011

Kentucky shocker: corrections bill passes!

It was shaping up to be a spectacular year in Kentucky for the Tea Party thought police and its Operation UNITE allies. State lawmakers seemed itching to make criminals out of everybody - especially the poor - and stick all of us with the cost. Bill after bill was built on confrontation, prohibition, and class warfare - and the problem was bipartisan.

But today it began crashing down for Kentucky teabaggers.

In a stark turn of events, the Kentucky Senate has just unanimously approved an amazing corrections reform bill that I can't believe passed at all. This after the Kentucky House approved it 96 to 1. This long-overdue legislation - which now drifts to the governor's desk for his signature - would save taxpayers countless dollars by promoting alternate sentencing instead of prison for some drug offenders and other nonviolent lawbreakers.

The drug warriors are hopping mad at this bill's passage! Tough shit.

Kentucky's prison-industrial complex has expanded so much in 30 years that the number of prison inmates has tripled. It's costly for taxpayers, and it turns many folks into jailed statistics for acts that weren't even illegal until fairly recently.

That this bill could pass in Kentucky today is remarkable. Once it's signed into law, some things will have to be worked out, of course. Specifically, we have to make sure bad rehabs don't take advantage of it. But the prison pipeline just got a nice kink in it.

I'm particularly surprised by the unanimity of the bill's support. Are our lawmakers actually getting the message for once? Have they logged off from Facebook for 5 minutes and actually listened to what people want (instead of screaming "druggie druggie druggie!" every time somebody disagrees with them)? It seems like when a bill passes unanimously, it's usually not a good bill, but this is a rare exception.

Don't count on legislators' foray into sanity lasting very long - though I can only hope that it does. Remember, the drug warriors' pseudoephedrine and drug testing bills are still waiting in the wings, and how I long to see both bills fail.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Lawn Chair Quarterback: "Today Is Not An Eating Day"

This is not an eating day.

Indeed it isn't.

As the Great Recession heightened under Bush, I invented eating days. Those were days on which I ate - as opposed to those on which I didn't. This proud tradition continues to this very day!

Eating is a basic biological function experienced by humans and many other members of the animal kingdom. It's not just an activity. It's a fundamental right, dammit! But sometimes book royalties and revenues from freelance computer programming and cartography just aren't enough to put vittles on the tray. So we have to be ration babies (to use Homer Simpson's phrase).

Who'd want it any other way? Eating every day would make me a sellout, and who needs that?

Stuff's expensive, ya know.

I could permanently solve this cash flow problem right now if I wanted to. I can do it this instant. You know how I can fix it? By going conservative. If I became right-wing, I would be hired IMMEDIATELY as a commentator by some cable channel, website, or radio network, and I would be awarded a contract worth MILLIONS. That is a FACT.

This despite the fact that there's not even any demand for any more conservative commentators. The field is oversaturated as it is.

But because of life's experiences, I believe what I believe, and I'm not going to sing for my supper. If it means I only make a few hundred a month as a real populist blogger, so be it.

Our latest 'LCQ' explores the New Economy-inspired phenomenon of eating days:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Failin' Palin's adventures in sockpuppetry

When you think of America's great political legends, somehow you can't imagine them trolling Facebook with fake accounts.

Can you picture Abe Lincoln or Franklin Roosevelt sitting at a computer all day, setting up bogus Facebook accounts, and laughing to themselves like morons every time they reply to their own posts?

Well, Sarah Palin has done just that.

The former half-term Alaska governor created a phony Facebook profile bearing the name (drum roll, please) Lou Sarah. Like nobody's ever gonna figure out who that is. She doesn't even have the brains to come up with something creative like Bob L. Gumm. Instead she just transposed her first and middle names - Sarah Louise. Then Palin used this account to click "like" on her messages she posted with her real account and follow up these posts with gushingly positive responses.

Now that's presidential material! This story reminds me of the old Mad magazine satire that showed a Jimmy Carter double making paper dolls out of the Constitution.

It's also exactly like how right-wingers sit at their computers much of the day and vote over and over in newspaper website polls to voice support for their goofy ideas.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Supremes gut case against faulty vaccines

When you see stories like this, we might as well just disband Congress and all state legislatures and make the presidency merely a ceremonial post. That's because this story shows that the right-wing Supreme Court - which has become a dictatorship in robes - is writing all our laws for us.

Today, the Stupreme Court ruled that federal law bars lawsuits against drug makers over faulty childhood vaccines. This gutted a case filed against Wyeth by a Pittsburgh family whose daughter suffered a lifelong seizure disorder because of a diphtheria shot. (The vaccine has since been discontinued.)

Um, what federal law is the court going by? The court cited a 1986 law, but nothing in that law even remotely suggests that you can't sue over vaccines at all. In fact, Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued a blistering dissent pointing this out.

It doesn't matter whether the intent of the law was to shield irresponsible corporations from suits over their dangerous products. The law says what it says, and nothing in it would have prohibited the suit against Wyeth. The more important point from the constitutional perspective is this: Can it prohibit it? That's doubtful.

Long story short: The Supreme Court made up its own law out of whole cloth by gutting the vaccine suit.

The states must allow suits against drug makers to continue with all gusto.


Tea Party k00ks00t on the way?

You can almost hear the Tea Parties crying, "WHY WON'T ANYBODY LISTEN TO US?!?!?!"

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer - a reliable voice of the teagaggin' Right - the Northern Kentucky Tea Party is mad and they're not gonna take it anymore! In fact, they're gonna sue!

Local teabaggers are trying to "raise money for anticipated litigation" via online and in-person fundraising. Seems they're upset because some labor unions, political figures, and officials from public utility agencies have been criticizing them and hurting their feelings. The Tea Party's website whines, "The Northern Kentucky Tea Party is under attack from various groups including entrenched politicians, public employees unions, as well as representatives from the public utilities. It is also clear that in order to get the attention of these entities and persuade them to change their behavior; it is going to be necessary to resort to litigation."

They're even threatening to sue a local resident who dared to complain about a political ad that the Tea Party ran in area newspapers.

Hey idiot teagaggers, ever hear of the First Amendment?

If they sue anybody, the judge ought to fine them back to the Shit Age for filing a SLAPP suit.

Now here's the best part. Guess what the Tea Party is calling its k00ks00t fund? They're calling it the Freedom of Speech Legal Fund. Now THAT'S funny!

With facts like these, you can't write more uproarious fiction, folks.

Then again, why do they need to have a fundraiser, considering we taxpayers pay for everything they do as it is? (For instance, they've blocked public roads during at least 2 of their rallies locally.)

(What's also hilarious is that when the teagaggers launched a counterprotest against the labor rally in Madison, Wisconsin, the Tea Partiers were outnumbered 35-to-1.)

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lawn Chair Quarterback: "The Ruined Bike Tire"

Back in my day, shit used to last.

My parents buyed a stereo around the time I was born, and it lasted at least until it was sold nearly 25 years later. Almost as good as new, it was. The 8-track player might have needed a rehab, but that's it.

If you buy a new stereo today, don't expect to milk 25 years out of it. You'll be lucky if it lasts 25 months. It's like with the last new TV that I buyed before the current set. That lemon lasted roughly a year. I replaced it with a 25-year-old set that still worked great for another year after that.

That shows just how much the quality of products had declined over the years.

On Tuesday, I noticed my rear bike tire that was only a little more than a year old was decaying. It appeared as if dime-sized holes had been eaten right through the rubber. These weren't punctures from running over sharp objects. It appeared to be outright rot on the sides of the tires. By contrast, my front tire was 6 years old, yet it had never seen such decay.

Had the quality of bicycle tires truly declined that much in only 5 years? If so, why??? I don't think the media can blame Michael Dukakis for that.

Our latest 'LCQ' explores the premature ruinment of my bike tire and other goods (rather, bads):

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The city that shows how it's done!

If you can't find me at my digs, maybe I've moved to Madison, Wisconsin! That's a city where people know how to get shit done!

In northern Kentucky where I'm from, when some right-wing nutball politician does something crazy, we usually see dissenters rightly criticizing them on newspaper websites and blogs. But where's the infantry to take it to the streets? Lots of folks around here feel the same way I do about right-wing excess, but precious few are willing to put their money where their mouth is like I did when I confronted the teabaggers and the Pathwaste cult.

But Madison, Wisconsin, isn't about mere talk. It's about action! It's like a city full of 200,000 of me.

The Badger State's new right-wing Gov. Scott Walker has already managed to alienate Wisconsin in general and Madison in particular. It came to a head this month when Walker announced he'd end collective bargaining for state workers. When this plan received criticism, the self-serving shit-eater announced he'd call in the National Guard to violently put down workers and their unions if they went on strike.

Fact is, it'd be illegal for the National Guard to intervene against the workers. The employees have a natural and legal right to strike. This trumps Walker's orders. But the people of Madison are standing by the workers, and they're conducting massive public protests against Walker's mind-boggling temper tantrum.

Madison residents are protesting with such gusto that right-wing Rep. Paul Ryan whined, "It's like Cairo has moved to Madison these days" - a reference to recent protests in Egypt. I guess so, since Walker is at least as corrupt as Hosni Mubarak.

And Wisconsin has real Democrats in its state legislature. It's not like Kentucky where the Democrats' main job seems to be to try to rubber-stamp as many Republican class-baiting bills as possible. No sirree! Democrats in the Wisconsin Senate have rightly skipped town so the Republicans don't have quorum to pass Scott Walker's evil budget. The GOP wanted to play hardball, and now it's blown up in their stupid faces.

Now it turns out that Wisconsin's budget shortfall was actually engineered by Walker just so he'd have an excuse to end collective bargaining.

This month's events came after Walker's announcement that he was killing high-speed rail. Walker's decision cost the state over $800,000,000 in federal stimulus funds. Ohio's right-wing Gov. John Kasich pulled a similar stunt in his state. Kasich was once known for constantly bringing a hatchet into congressional meetings and waving it around to prove what a budget cutter he was. People laughed, so it musta been funnay. But now - like Walker - Kasich has cost his state a fortune in stimulus dough by killing the rail plan.

Because Walker rejected high-speed rail, a train manufacturing company closed its Milwaukee plant - and took 40 jobs with it.

But in the minds of Madison's hard-working citizenry, Scott Walker is damaged goods, and they're not bashful about letting the world know. The protests we're seeing in Madison now could be the start of something big.

Every American city should have been doing 15 years ago what Madison is doing now. If that was the case, we'd be living in a much safer world today.

Tonight they're gonna party like it's 1995...

Remember the '90s? It was the decade of mechanic shirts, 'Seinfeld', and the Chicago font.

Contrary to the nostalgic feeling of late, however, the '90s were actually anything but 2 legit 2 quit. It also saw the pair of federal government shutdowns of 1995-96. These stoppages of government services came about when the right-wing Congress intentionally refused to produce an acceptable budget. Congress's dereliction was largely retaliation by Newt Gingrich after President Clinton refused to let him play with the controls on Air Force One. (No, I'm not making this up. I was around in 1995, and I remember.)

During these shutdowns - which lasted from days to weeks - veterans benefits checks were not delivered, government health hotlines were out of service, and countless public employees were out of work and were not paid.

A shutdown is a serious matter - and no reason to party. But Republicans in Congress today are about to launch another shutdown, and they're already getting into a partying mood.

Unlike last time, the GOP doesn't control the Senate. But remember, the House - which the GOP does control - is actually in charge of budgeting. This policy was based on the premise that the House was supposed to be the people's house and the Senate was supposed to do the elites' work. In recent years, however, we've seen a reversal of this arrangement. Make no mistake: The House is the elites' realm. It's been that way through most of my adult life. We truly have mob rule by the rich.

The Republicans are partying like it's 1995, and they're having a hard time containing their glee about shutting the government down again.

If there's a shutdown, what does it mean? If you're a federal employee, you'll likely be out of work - and money. If you rely on Social Security or any other government benefits, that's probably gone for as long as the shutdown lasts - and that'll cost you hundreds per month. (It's actually illegal not to pay these benefits - but that didn't matter last time.) Government facilities ranging from museums to parks will be closed. Aviation will be disrupted too.

It may also mean a political bonanza for President Obama. When the Republicans shut down the government in the '90s, it did wonders for Clinton's approval ratings (not like Clinton knew what the hell to do with it).

The shutdowns of 1995-96 actually cost the government (i.e., the taxpayers) hundreds of millions - more than wiping out any savings that built up during the weeks of the shutdowns.

If we don't have a government, doesn't that also mean I can do whatever I want? Does it mean I can bring back my pirate radio station or bring my own container of water into Riverfest? You can't shut down the government and then expect me to follow idiotic laws when there's no government to enforce them. You can't have it both ways - though I know they will, just like how they're only against "big government" when this stance helps them.

It's finally happened...

This is what occurs when counties let the Tea Party (bowel) movement run the show.

Many folks have long felt that a sign of society's ultimate ruin would have been kids having to attend school more than 5 days a week. I totally concur that this would wreck our nation, and I question even the intent behind it. I'm convinced that America's right-wing school systems want children in their grasp 100% of the time. If they could make kids live at the school and never be allowed off campus, they would.

I am absolutely, positively convinced that's what many of our educrats want. Not a shadow of a doubt in my mind.

There's good reasons why we don't tether schoolchildren to their desks 24/7. It's because kids are supposed to have lives. I'm going on 38, and the last thing I'd wish upon today's youth is the kind of all-consuming, study-all-night school life I once had. That's no life at all. Kids need time to live and grow. For several years, I didn't have that.

And now kids in northeastern Tennessee don't have it either.

The Unicoi County school system has decreed that school will be in session on several Saturdays. Neighboring Washington County quickly followed suit.

Their excuse? They say it's so more days can be crammed in before standardized testing (which is apparently their state religion too) begins.

Astonishingly, Unicoi County posted an 85% attendance rate on its first Saturday session. Why wasn't it 0%? If they pulled something like this in my day, students, parents, and teachers alike would be ripping the doors off the buildings. The fact they had 85% attendance just shows how much the schools have everybody bullied.

These are not forward-thinking school systems, obviously. Such an unfettered expansion of school time fails to teach kids how to creatively analyze.

Of all the bizarre ideas pushed by the right-wing establishment lately, most aren't likely to become law, so we often don't take the time to cover them here. But this idea of theirs - school 6 days a week - is already in force now in those 2 counties in Tennessee.

This is yet another illustration of how America's schools these days are almost completely unusable.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Courts threaten Ecuador over Chevron case

Now Ecuador has to follow U.S. courts?

Oil giant Chevron has long been a defendant in a major pollution lawsuit filed by Ecuadorian plaintiffs. But now a New York judge has ordered the plaintiffs not to go outside the U.S. to enforce any ruling against Chevron.

Um, the case is in an Ecuadorian court, not a New York court. (It was moved out of the New York court years ago, and the trial has been conducted wholly by Ecuador.) So tough toilets, Chevron.

Then "international arbitrators" ordered Ecuador not to enforce any judgment itself.


Ecuador has its own laws. "International arbitrators" don't get to decide what Ecuador's laws are.

Meanwhile, Chevron has countersued the plaintiffs for supposedly infringing on Chevron's precious, precious "right" to contaminate the rainforest with oil drilling waste.

I think what's going on here is this: Chevron knows it can't bully the Ecuadorian judge, so it's trying to move the whole case to the U.S. in the hopes it'll be tried by some whack-a-doodle Bush appointee instead. Hopefully, the case won't end up in the 9th Circus, seeing how they're the corporate droids who overturned the Exxon Valdez award.


GOP bill would raise Kentucky sales tax

If Kentucky Republicans get their way, it's bailout time for the corporate empire yet again!

Class warfare has loomed large in the current session of the Kentucky legislature. Our Legislative Crap-Up of late has included nasty right-wing bills that would revoke pensions of hard-working public employees, and effectively bar the poor from living in Kentucky unless they pass a drug test.

Now a bill by State Rep. Bill Farmer (R-Lexington) would not only expand the sales tax to services but actually increase it from 6% to 7%. This same bill would also abolish Kentucky taxes on corporations.

Another job creation bill! Wait, it isn't. So where's the jobs bills the GOP promised? In the toilet?

Let's get this straight: Bill Farmer wants to increase taxes on Kentucky families so he can pay for getting rid of taxes on big corporations. Yes, I saw it too. This is actually a bailout for Big Business paid for by hard-working Kentuckians.

Meanwhile, a different bill - which would do the opposite of Farmer's bill by cutting most taxes for you and making corporations pay up for once - has almost no chance of passage. This despite the fact that it would net the state an estimated $480,000,000 in additional revenue.

The war on the working poor guides the Kentucky General Assembly nearly as much as it did the 104th Reich. Every few years, right-wingers take giant leaps towards starving the poor, but they never get it out of their system.


Plastic rice. Coming soon to a supermarket near you!

Because America's economic gatekeepers hate the United States so much, your next plate of rice might actually be recycled ballpoint pen shells and broken records.

China has been a bit lax on product safety of late, yet it seems to produce almost everything Americans buy these days. It's called outsourcing. And while Corporate America ships jobs to China and other overseas locales, gobs of Americans find themselves facing long-term unemployment. And when I say long-term, I mean long-term.

Now Chinese factories are packaging rice that isn't rice at all. It's actually a mix of potatoes, yams, and plastic - yes, plastic. An official from the Chinese Restaurant Association said that eating 3 bowls of this imitation rice would be like eating an entire plastic bag.


This follows a 2008 scandal in which hundreds of thousands of people were sickened or killed by consuming milk or baby formula that was packaged in China and was tainted by melamine. This also comes after the discovery that Chinese-made drywall used in American houses is laced with sulfur, which has released gas that has made an untold number of new dwellings completely uninhabitable - forcing them to be razed.

That's where Corporate America is shipping American jobs?


Friday, February 11, 2011

Lawn Chair Quarterback: "Wiping The Floor With The Evil Empire"

For Tea Party cultists, life is easy. They can afford to just hire a maid to scrub their floors.

But the rest of us have to scrub our floors ourselves - on our hands and knees, no less. And if we split our pants by bending down - as I did today - we're forced to deal with the consequences. This means we have to be more careful than the teagaggers about shitting our drawers. Soiling underwear comes naturally to them, but we're hardscrabble folks, and we have to be frugal about pants and wear them until the day they finally give out on us.

Wiping the floors of grime and debris is also a metaphor for what happened to the Pathway Family Center cult - and what may still happen to Operation UNITE's legislative goals (if we're very, very lucky). PFC and Operation UNITE are all part of the Evil Empire that we fight daily.

Our latest 'LCQ' episode explores this activity:

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

GOP congressman resigns in sex scandal

The new Congress has been in office for only a month, and a Republican member's career has already been claimed by a sex scandal.

Rep. Chris Lee (R-New York) has now been caught posting stupid photos of himself on Craigslist - trying to pick up women even though he's already married. In doing so, Lee lied about his age, marital status, and occupation.

After being caught, Lee declared, "I am announcing that I have resigned my seat in Congress effective immediately." (And I bet he picked his nose during the run-up to this announcement too.)

Bye, Chris.

This is just the latest chapter in the saga of the Republicans - the "do as we say, not as we do" party. They try controlling everybody else's lives (just ask Kentucky Republicans), but they exercise no control over their own wasted lives.

This shit has to fucking stop.


Saturday, February 5, 2011

Operation UNITE headed for 0-2?

Operation UNITE is a ridiculous drug warrior organization in southeastern Kentucky. This federally funded group's pet cause lately is a pair of bills that are breezing through the Kentucky legislature that would require a prescription for Sudafed and force people to take a drug test if they collect government benefits like Social Security.

It appeared almost a given that at least one of these teabagger bills would become law, but now both may face the governor's veto.

Notice I said 'may', not 'will'. If both of these bills fail to become law, that would be almost too good to be true. If that happens, it's time to par-tay! (I'll party cheaply though. I don't get bailout money, since I'm not a big bank.) I take it very seriously when civil liberties are mortgaged in the name of a War on Drugs that was long ago discredited, and if both bills are rejected, that would be the biggest pushback against this failed war in a long, long time.

After Gov. Steve Beshear announced opposition to the drug testing bill, he's now unsure if he'll even sign the pseudoephedrine bill. Beshear is a very conservative Democrat by this blog's standards, though he may just come through for us on this pair of bills.

But I'd be surprised if he vetoed the Sudafed measure, because that bill seems too sober-sided. You can tell a lot of work went into making it a bad bill whose awfulness flies below the radar. Legislators have smoothed it, pampered it, and repackaged it over and over. Conversely, the drug-testing bill looks like the same knee-jerk document that just gets unthinkingly blurted out at the start of each session - in case the legislature finally becomes right-wing enough to approve it.

Truth is, it's inexcusable that either one of these bills was even introduced without being laughed right out of the Capitol. When I was your age, this was a free country, and we didn't have laws like this. Are we going to defeat these bills, or are we just going to let Operation UNITE and the Tea Parties write all our laws for us?


Friday, February 4, 2011

Lawn Chair Quarterback: "Sir Ronnie Turns 100"

Guess who's got a birthday comin' up?

That's right, peeps. It's the man, the myth, the legend: Sir Ronald Reagan!

Rappin' Ronnie turns 100 on Sunday. He was the man who was right-wing before right-wingers thought they were cool. It seems to be largely because of him that the extreme right stopped having to explain themselves for their ridiculous ideas and started seeing their proposals honored without question.

Despite the media's revisionism, the Reagan-dominated '80s were anything but totally awesome. Reagan kicked off 3 decades of America declining in almost every measure. Whether it's economic fairness, civil liberties, or international credibility, America is light years behind where it was 30 years ago.

Of course, the police state run by Reagan's successor - the elder Bush - saw my illegal confinement without a trial. If you care about constitutional liberties as much as I do, there's a good chance you were shoving straight pins into your eyes in frustration by 1990.

But Sir Ronnie's gonna be 100, and I'm sure he can't wait to open his presents.

In our latest 'LCQ' episode, we explore the failed presidency of the man himself:

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Drug testing bill doomed?

Don't look now, but the governor has come out against the Tea Party-backed drug testing bill that has attracted so much media support.

Are other Democrats listening? What about the Greens? (I'm not even going to ask about the Republicans.)

If the governor vetoes it (or if legislators reject it outright), that would be BIG news. If that happens, we've got 50% of our upcoming work against the drug warriors' increasingly extreme agenda completed right off the bat.

Don't count on a veto as a given. He may sign it anyway even after criticizing it.

Contempt??? Are you kidding???

I swear, the right-wingers are getting crazier every day! They're not even funny. They're a living mockery of our constitutional system.

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman - a Reagan appointee - ruled that the Obama administration acted in contempt by continuing its oil drilling moratorium. He whined that Obama displayed "defiance."

Contempt??? Defiance??? Really???

Um, no. The administration was just carrying out the law - like it's supposed to. So now following the law is "defying" it?

Feldman and the oil industry have been fighting Obama over the moratorium for ages. Last year, Feldman also gutted drilling safety rules that were implemented by the Department of the Interior. This occurred after it was discovered that Feldman owned stock in companies affected by the moratorium - including Transocean, which owned the Deepwater Horizon rig.

Outrageously, Feldman has also ordered the government - i.e., the taxpayers - to pay the legal fees of Hornbeck Offshore Services, which launched the lawsuit. What a windfall for Hornbeck! If you're an oil exploration company, all you have to do to win free money from the taxpayers is file a lawsuit in a friendly court.

You can just hear the cash register dinging right now!

What are they gonna do? Impeach Obama??? If I was the President, I'd be defiant right now. I'd be daring them to bring it on. With me, the buck stops here. Honestly, would it really help the Republicans politically if they impeached Obama because he continued a moratorium against offshore drilling?

I'm from Kentucky, a state with lots of Democrats who deserve to be removed from office. Since the GOP's goal is to remove as many people from office as possible because they have a donkey next to their name, maybe we should invite all Republicans here and let both major parties fight each other.

On second thought, let's not. I don't want to deal with the smell.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A rare victory for Bert ('Sesame Street' Wednesday)

Still don't believe Bert and Ernie are kings among men? Then your bip bone must be broken, because I've got more solid proof that they are!

Usually, Ernie pulls one over on his ol' buddy Bert. Although Ernie is often utterly creamed by characters like Herry or Cookie Monster, Bert is usually no match for Ernie. But once in a great while, Bert wins. Like in this 1971 segment:

On the other hand, did Bert really win? Real champions don't go around laughing like that every time they manage to pull one over on somebody. Especially not in public. It kind of puts the kibosh on employment offers.

Bert. He gets shit done.