Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bills would criminalize animal welfare whistleblowers

Right-wing Iowa legislators have been on a binge of crazy lately, and you can hardly hear them over the condign ridicule.

Yesterday, the Iowa Senate approved a bill to punish animal welfare activists who try finding jobs at places like factory farms and slaughterhouses in an effort to expose inhumane treatment of animals. One lawmaker said, "People are trying to get into these places, saying they're a plumber or they're this or that, they're going to take care of your livestock with no intention of that whatsoever. They're trying to bring down this business."

Well, if a business disobeys animal cruelty laws, it deserves to be brung down. Don't shoot the messenger if you don't like the message. If a factory farm won't follow the law, it has no business complaining when animal welfare folks expose it.

This follows the Iowa House's approval of a bill that would impose 10-year prison terms for activists who videotape animal cruelty violations occurring at these facilities.

Why is the factory farming industry running scared and trying to criminalize animal welfare activism? It's because their violations were being exposed, and THEY CAN'T STAND THAT. Restaurants have stopped buying from factory farms that have been caught abusing animals, and this chafes the factory farms to no end. The findings have also led the Humane Society to work to double the size of cages at egg farms to give chickens more room.

If the corporate farming firms don't like being exposed for doing the wrong thing, they should have been doing the right thing from the get-go. But they didn't, and now they expect lawmakers to cover for them. What does it say about the state of our political system when legislators represent corporations but not the people who expose them?

Plus, factory farms are driving small family farms out of business. If lawmakers truly cared about farming, they'd represent family farmers, not huge factory farms.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The battle for public opinion is over. We won.

I'm cautious about declaring victories, but I'm ready to announce a decisive win in the court of public opinion.

Long story short: The battle for public opinion is over, and our side won. Other bloggers are already saying the same thing, so I'm actually playing it safe by declaring victory now. On almost every individual issue, polls show progressives' stance soundly defeating the conservatives'.

It doesn't matter if more Americans identify as conservative. I know folks who label themselves as conservative, yet even they disagree with most of the key features of the right-wing agenda. This blog is the very essence of left-wing populism, but I can't count the number of e-mails I've received from people who say they're conservative while cheering some of my most important points.

Polls on the Obama administration's birth control policy provide stunning evidence of how badly the other side has lost. Meanwhile, surveys show that most voters in Indiana would vote to repeal that state's disastrous new work-for-less law. On economic and social issues alike, the right-wing intelligentsia has overreached, and repudiation appears imminent.

Never in my life have I seen as much opposition on the ground to right-wing policies as I do now. I was around in the '80s when you'd hear blue-collar folks rightly complaining about Reagan and Big Business, but that's nothing compared to what I've heard just in the past few months.

It's over. And the Evil Empire knows it. That's why they've been so shrill lately, even coming up with ideas so ridiculous and extreme that they know they'll probably never become law. It's a sign of desperation. They think that if they get what they want, that's great, but if they don't, that's fine too because it's just "proof" of how the big, mean world is so unfair to them. They see themselves as martyrs.

Notice also that the right-wing paid thugs who spam Facebook and the comment sections of news websites don't have anything left to say except standard one-line stock replies, which usually have nothing to do with the issue at hand. That's proof that somebody's feeding them the vitriol they spew.

Unfortunately, a public opinion victory doesn't automatically translate into an electoral victory - as anybody alive in 1994 knows. This time, it likely will, and the other side doesn't seem to care. But this isn't yet the slam-dunk for us that it should be. For starts, elections are routinely rigged. Secondly, folks aren't always on guard as well as they ought to be, and not everybody bothers to vote.

The Evil Empire doesn't seem to be playing to win at the polls, but they're menacing enough that they need to be off the electoral game board. They are still very dangerous. The danger they pose has become exceptional.

But the war for actual public support is over. They lost.

I'm more energized than ever, and I'm not afraid to die for the cause. The thought guardians of the extreme right are not merely misguided. They are simply bad people. If they choose to start a ground war, I will be on the front line to fight them.

Kentucky pseudoephedrine bill dead (again)

Chalk up yet another victory for the Occupy coalition.

Kentucky lawmakers have once again rejected a right-wing bill that would have required law-abiding citizens to get a prescription just to buy over-the-counter allergy drugs. I've said it before and I'll say it again: The bill would have been worthless for fighting meth, and it would have flown in the face of federal law. It's believed by some that ALEC helped write this bill, but this has never been confirmed.

The bill has been replaced by a "compromise" bill that would still allow you to buy a very limited amount of the drug without a prescription. Let legislators wallow in it. If they pass this bill but bring the more restrictive bill back again next year, they'll have nobody to blame but themselves for the humiliation that will follow.

Occupy activists had been fighting the original bill the entire session.

I'm on the edge of my seat waiting for the legislature to bore us again with this shit next year.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lawn Chair Quarterback: "The Humiliation Of Elmo"

Remember on Monday when some hapless oaf with an Elmo-like voice assaulted Occupy Cincinnati? Well, now he's in for some industrial-strength humiliation...

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Scientist's career jeopardized after fighting right-wing think tank

I've said it before and I'll say it again: The debate is over. Climate change is real and is caused by human activity.

But when a scientist investigates a corporate-funded right-wing think tank that unsuccessfully tries discrediting climate change science, who ends up with a career in tatters?

Dr. Peter Gleick is an environmental scientist who helped found the Pacific Institute, a nonprofit research organization. Not long ago, he launched a probe into the far-right Heartland Institute, a think tank bankrolled by oil and gas companies that distributes classroom propaganda denying climate change. Gleick's investigation yielded Heartland's donor list and other info.

Heartland should be viewed as being completely discredited by the revelations. Instead, the Pacific Institute's board of directors is trying to oust Gleick for daring to expose Heartland's deception. Gleick was also forced to resign as the chair of the American Geophysical Union's task force on scientific ethics, and the San Francisco Chronicle fired him as a columnist. (Because of this, the increasingly right-wing Chronicle is now blackballed here.)

I swear I am not making this up. This story reminds me of the time Dick Cheney shot a man in the face during a hunting trip, and the victim of the shooting was forced to apologize to Cheney. The corporate media expects Gleick to apologize even though it was Heartland that acted irresponsibly. Gleick did absolutely nothing wrong in this story. He was acting as a good investigative journalist would.

Meanwhile, right-wing goons not only infiltrate progressive groups but have been caught red-handed fabricating their "findings." Why doesn't anybody go after them?

Maybe The Media is mad because Gleick's investigation exposed the fact that high-ranking Department of the Interior official Indur Goklany accepted $1,000 each month from Heartland. (Most people I know don't even make $1,000 a month!) As a result of this revelation, Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Arizona) is quite justifiably calling for a probe into whether Goklany broke any rules.

This story also reminds me of that of a government investigation into climate scientists that concluded last year. Right-wing media outlets and members of Congress had demanded a probe into NOAA scientists, accusing them of rigging data to support evidence of climate change. In response to these demands, the government wasted millions of taxpayer dollars investigating the scientists. The probe ended when the Commerce Department found that the scientists had done nothing wrong.

Lost in the debate though was the fact that e-mail among the scientists had been stolen. Where's the probe into that?

Somebody somewhere is gyrating on the floor in helpless laughter over how ridiculous it is that folks have been blacklisted because they believe in science. But it's really no laughing matter.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Elmo takes on Occupy Cincinnati

This is the best the 1% can do?

Yesterday, Occupy Cincinnati joined up with union members and others to protest against Mitt Romney's supposed appearance at Great American Tower. There were about 60 of us. I made a sign that says, "Corporations ARE NOT people, my friend!" - but Romney never showed his face. I guess Romney doesn't want to be seen in public after his party got humiliated in the battle over birth control.

The real hilarity ensued when several of us from the Occupy coalition began walking to Piatt Park. We were on 5th Street, when we noticed a strange man standing across the street from the federal courthouse. The bespectacled man appeared to be about 30 and had his middle finger extended towards us as he stood perfectly still.

When we passed him, he started cussing us out. And his voice sounded like Elmo of 'Sesame Street'. Seriously. And he used every word in the book!

It's one thing for Elmo to cuss in front of an all-ages crowd. It's one thing for him to display flawed logic and make a complete ass of himself. But it's another thing altogether to threaten physical violence. We stopped to chitchat with him, and he kept warning us that he was going to beat us up if we didn't go away - for no reason except that we were "liberal dumbasses."

And it's a completely different matter altogether to actually commit an assault - which he did. Elmo approached one of the Occupiers (almost chasing him into the street), got right in his face, and tore a large sign he was carrying. Bystanders looked on in disbelief.

Elmo continued arguing with us for another 20 minutes or so, but we didn't budge. It was entertaining! He kept threatening to beat us up if we didn't disappear by 6 PM. And - after first declaring that he was a rich guy who worked on Wall Street - he complained that he was hardly making any money and that it was our fault.

I watched the clock readout across the street intensely as 6:00 rolled around. If Elmo was gonna beat me up like he promised, I better be there for it! But when I pointed out to him that it was 6:00, he just hopped on a bus, which zipped away.

And that's the state of the 1% as of February 2012. They don't even try to present a coherent argument. Are they actually trying to lose every battle now? If so, why? Maybe they know the game is over, so they're trying to be as extreme and as bizarre as possible so they can think of themselves as martyrs. With displays like yesterday's incident the norm (as this is the third time I've personally witnessed a physical assault against the Occupy coalition), I just cannot imagine that the 1% has any significant fan base anymore.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Lawn Chair Quarterback: "Stealing Candy From A Right-Winger"

Hahaha, the right-wingers are blaming the Obama administration for shrinking candy bars! No, I'm not making this up...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

School gets rich by fining students

Do my eyes deceive me? Is somebody finally taking notice of greedy schools extorting money from students by levying bogus fines? I've only been exposing it for the past 20 years, so I guess it's time. (Another Snuffleupagus moment!)

My high school stole hundreds of dollars from me - usually by fining me for textbooks that were stolen out of my locker when the school refused to replace the lock. Now the Noble Street Charter School Network seems to have borrowed a page from my school's soggy playbook.

Noble runs a string of charter high schools in Chicago that have elicited adoration by the right-wing media and politicians such as Occupy foe Rahm Emanuel. But students and parents have held a news conference calling Noble's disciplinary practices "totalitarian" and "draconian." It turns out that over the past 2 years, Noble has made almost $400,000 by fining students for minor violations of school rules, such as bringing snacks to school or not tying their shoes properly. Each offense carries a $5 fine, and pupils with repeated infractions are required to take a $140 summer school class. One parent said students who don't have the money to pay are forced to repeat an entire grade.

I didn't know Brossart relocated to Chicago!

Noble's greed and cultish discipline prompted a protest consisting of hundreds of people marching to City Hall. Meanwhile, Noble schools are bleeding enrollment.

Parents are also planning on suing Noble - as they should. Unfortunately, our schools have a web of people embedded in our corrupt legal system, so anybody who sues a school faces an uphill battle just by default. Just ask this blogger.


Friday, February 10, 2012

Lawn Chair Quarterback: "What A Beautiful World This Will Be..."

"What a beautiful world this will be...What a glorious time to be free..."

You may have heard of "I.G.Y." (the song quoted above, which was popularized by Steely Dan's Donald Fagen). You may have heard of IGA (the grocery store).

But have you ever heard of an IGO? What about a UGO?

Our latest LCQ draws the distinction between a UGO, an IGO, and "I.G.Y."...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Lawmaker says folks "need to be peed on"

With Idaho and Tennessee preparing to pass laws that would specifically outlaw Occupy protests, right-wing legislators' immaturity stuns us.

Tennessee State Rep. Eric Watson launched a tirade in the ornate Tennessee House chamber against Occupy Nashville - which he's trying to have shut down (even though he lives over 100 miles from Nashville, so it's none of his damn business). In this harangue, the balding Republican lawmaker made various demonstrably false accusations against Occupiers. He said that "the most sickness part" of Occupy Nashville is that a state employee "was peed on!"

It's not true, of course, but that didn't stop Watson. He then declared, "And if you approve of that, you think that's peaceful assembly, you need to be peed on. See how you like it."

People thought I was immature because I once wrote a Last Word article that opined, "Some people need their faces farted in." What prompted that was a local high school's threat to require uniforms - though I think I also used the same expression regarding other events. The difference is that I was basing my opinions on the truth, and Eric Watson isn't. It's that simple.

I Occupied the Super Bowl!

As you know, I went plumb to the Occupy the Super Bowl gathering in Indianapolis on Sunday. If you think the smashingly successful Occupy Cincinnati marches have been big, the events of the past week in Indy dwarfed even most of those great rallies, and it just goes to show that the Occupy movement is grander than ever. A presidential candidate even came to see us!

And Wall Street is running scared.

My primary reason for participating on Sunday was to protest against Indiana's unconstitutional "right-to-work" law. Union officials joined us in this endeavor.

Our coalition started the day by rallying on the sprawling lawn of the Indiana Statehouse (the state capitol building). This of course is the same location as our 2009 protest against the far-right Pathway Family Center cult. On Sunday morning, we got countless kind words from passersby and amassed several hundred participants. Occupy the Super Bowl events over the previous week had drawn thousands, but Sunday's rally was also quite an amazing sight!

The rally at the capitol featured speeches by many folks, including union leaders and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. Then we marched!

Our march took us near the stadium and through a crowd of thousands. Not everybody was in town to go to the Super Bowl itself, because that's a strictly high-priced affair, you see. But we were there to be seen by the 99% as well as the 1%.

While we got the usual cheers from the 99%, the 1% was less appreciative of our message against the "right-to-work" law. It boiled over when some asshole who was taunting us took a swing at my head. When he threw a punch at me, I decked him right in the jaw. Then one of his pals approached me and said, "You're surrounded."

I pulled out my cell phone to call the law, but the original assailant then tried breaking the phone. When that failed, he grabbed my phone and started walking off with it. He also utterly ruinated an anti-Mitch Daniels sign I was carrying. A staffer for the Super Bowl festivities stepped in and made him return my phone, and then he ordered the attacker to vamoose.

I'm all for nonviolence, but that does not mean allowing oneself to be punched in the face without fighting back. My definition of nonviolence is different from that of the "ignore bullies and they'll go away" crowd - which was long ago discredited. Anybody who thinks I was in the wrong needs to take a lesson from the Kenny Rogers song "Coward Of The County."

Speaking of cowards, we also saw the far-right Westboro cult from Topeka with their usual display of hatred and extremism. It seemed like they were in town to protest against us more than to protest against the Super Bowl. One of their signs featured an Occupy mask being targeted behind crosshairs.

Our march was a success, although (as is typical) it got absolutely zero media coverage.

Most of us went home after that, feeling satisfied that we accomplished what we could for the time being. But I later discovered that about 12 folks stayed behind and marched again after it got dark. This march experienced at least 2 bogus arrests, and police were caught on video brutalizing a marcher. Cops claimed at least one of the arrests was for public intoxication - but that's a lie, for I did not see any alcohol whatsoever being consumed by participants in our events. Plus, an undercover policewoman called a marcher a "whore."

The Occupy coalition will have more to come to fight "right-to-work" laws. A general strike appears imminent.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Occupy Oakland humiliates right-wing idiots

I went to the excellent Occupy the Super Bowl protest yesterday in Indianapolis, and I'm too tired to produce a detailed account of it here yet. But I can't delay my praise of Occupy Oakland for their latest doings.

Today, a Tea Party group called Stand for Oakland amassed about 40 people for a protest against Occupy Oakland. Occupy Oakland promptly countered this demonstration with roughly 200 people.

Naturally, police in riot gear confiscated equipment from Occupiers - but didn't do a thing to the Stand for Oakland crybabies.

Stand for Oakland slunk away in embarrassment after Occupiers outnumbered them almost 5-to-1. But Occupiers marched to the courthouse to protest the ongoing suppression they've faced themselves.

In the meantime, somebody's been spraypainting "KIll an Occupier" graffiti all over Oakland. I wonder which Stand for Oakland loudmouth did that.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Lawn Chair Quarterback: "Attitude Road Atlases"

You can tell a lot about where American society stood at a given time by looking at the typography on road atlas covers...

And for our readers in Oklahoma...

Since we're on the topic of the protests against Indiana's new work-for-less law, why weren't there any big protests when Oklahoma enacted this unconstitutional law 10 years ago? Surely, there must have been some demonstrations in states that passed this law before then.

What changed before Oklahoma passed it, and what's changed since?

Indiana shitstorm looms

I've been madder than hell the past couple days.

On Wednesday, as you may know, Indiana became the first new state in a decade to adopt a misnamed "right-to-work" law. Geographically, this makes the Hoosier State somewhat of an outlier, as no state that borders Indiana has this anti-American law. In addition to running afoul of the U.S. Constitution, this law plainly violates the Indiana Constitution: The latter document has a clause that prohibits not paying organizations for services they provide. In fact, that provision was likely written in an attempt to ward off "right-to-work" laws.

People. Are. Mad.

Hoosiers may have lost this battle back in 2010 when they allowed the Republicans to rig the election and win back control of the legislature. But do you honestly think they'd allow it now? The legislature must be dumber than a bag of boogers if they thought a law like this was going to be tolerated today.

As luck would have it, the Super Bowl happens to be taking place in Indianapolis on Sunday. Well, the "right-to-work" thought police really stepped in it, didn't they? In almost a half-century that the Super Bowl has been around, I don't think there have ever been any major demonstrations surrounding it. That's about to change in a big way. For starts, NFL players are unionized, and they don't look kindly upon legislators passing union-busting laws. Plus, hotel workers are planning on going on strike to protest the new law - right when thousands of Super Bowl tourists are in town. There's even been some talk of truckers blocking the freeways.

And then of course there's that nifty thing called the Occupy movement. I can't believe Disaster Daniels didn't think of that before he signed the bill. How much of an idiot does one have to be to think the Occupy campaign wouldn't notice a "right-to-work" law being enacted in a state with 7,000,000 people?

To see the Super Bowl completely shut down over this would be so satisfying. We can only dream of that happening, but if it did, that would be the political highlight of my lifetime!

Sugar ban urged while frankenfood dangers ignored

Welcome to the wacky, topsy-turvy world of food administration in conservaland. This is where nontoxic, natural substances are demonized while poisonous artificial sweeteners and frankenfoods are heavily promoted with no regulation whatsoever.

In an article that sounds like it's straight out of the Onion, a team of researchers at the University of California-San Francisco has demanded that distribution of food containing sugar be restricted like tobacco, alcohol, and hard drugs. This despite the fact that there has never been a link made between sugar and cancer, and the only sugar-related deaths are from overconsumption - a peril that exists with any foodstuff, not just sugar.

Yet they ignore the effects of artificial sweeteners, which have been proven to cause cancer, birth defects, and other health woes. They also sweep under the rug the dangers of the genetically modified frankenfoods that now fill supermarket shelves - and which are not labeled as being genetically engineered, thus leaving consumers in the dark.

Gee, I wonder who funded the researchers' study?

It's already known that the FDA approved aspartame because of Donald Rumsfeld's ties to aspartame maker G.D. Searle, and that this toxin is still on store shelves because of influence by Monsanto (which purchased Searle). I don't know whether Monsanto bankrolled the UCSF study, but I'm sure some powerful captains of the industry did.

We're supposed to have a system based on informed choice. That's why I believe products containing artificial sweeteners should be required to prominently carry a skull-and-crossbones - the universal symbol for poison.

Tea Party ruins lawn

Remember the Tea Party?

It's now been revealed that a public lawn in Los Angeles was destroyed by participants in a Tea Party rally.

After Occupy L.A. camped out on City Hall's lawn, they offered to hire landscaping companies out of their own pockets to repair any wear. The Tea Party, on the other hand, left the city a mess and didn't bother to clean up after themselves.

The city needs to bill the Tea Party for everything they're worth.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Energy company launches land grab in Pennsylvania

This is not a story about government abusing eminent domain - but a corporation abusing it.

Central New York Oil and Gas Company is attempting to condemn land owned by private individuals in northern Pennsylvania. The company wants to build a gas pipeline through the homes and farms of over 150 landowners - even after promising government officials that it would negotiate with owners instead of condemning their property.

Since when can private companies practice eminent domain? This power is supposed to be reserved for government, and even then, it's not supposed to be abused.

If Mitt Romney and other right-wing extremists claim "corporations are people", doesn't that give people the same rights as corporations? Doesn't that mean individuals can use eminent domain too?

I think I'll just go out and condemn a corporation's property. We'll see how long that lasts.