Sunday, April 29, 2012

Media redefines working class for political gain

Did you know I'm too poor to be working-class? I am according to The Media.

Official statistical compilations redefine "suburban" to include small cities that are inner-city in character, just because they adjoin a larger city. This seems to be an effort to make suburban America appear more populous - which in turn sounds like an attempt to justify politicians' disproportionate appeal to suburbia. Similarly, The Media has now taken to redefining "working-class."

I became suspicious when I saw an article that said Republicans carried white working-class voters in 2008 - an overpoweringly Democratic year - and in every other presidential election since the '60s. But reading further, I discovered that the economic range of this "working class" excludes zillions of folks who everybody would agree ought to be included.

In The Media's funhouse mirror world, "working-class" includes only those with annual incomes between $30,000 and $75,000. It's hard for me to envision someone who makes $75,000 as anything except upper-middle-class, since that's twice what the average family in Bellevue makes. More significant though is the fact that The Media's "working class" actually excludes people who make under $30,000.

By that definition, most working-class Americans regardless of color are no longer even counted as working-class!

It appears as if President Obama really won white working-class voters - if you modify this demographic to include those making less than $30,000 but exclude those near the upper end of the pollsters' definition. The local election map bears this out - and I've seen it on the ground too. This group seems to be more favorable to Obama in urban areas than in the countryside, but the point stands.

Anyone can conclude from this that working-class Americans of all races consider the Republican Party to be political poison. But I've known that for decades, as the GOP has been openly hostile to working families.

A more important conclusion here though is that it looks as if The Media is trying to redefine the economic range of "working-class" to boost its own Republican agenda. There's several wrinkles to this. For starts, it makes the working class appear to be to the political right of where it really is. Furthermore, it pits the working class against itself. Finally, by excluding people with lower incomes from being called working-class, The Media tries to create the impression that the poorest Americans have no use for work. What if we make less than $30,000? Must be due to our own sloth, according to the right-wing press. So we don't count.

Wasn't America built by some of the nation's poorest? Next time you drive on a bridge or visit a downtown building, consider this: Those who lifted the piers into place or installed the drywall were not billionaires. There's a damn good chance they made only a pittance. People have died for better labor standards. To insult the industriousness of the poor is grave indeed.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Debt collector refuses to pay judgment

Debt collectors rank among the most conniving corporations, as they make reams of harassing phone calls to families, demanding payment of debts they usually don't even owe. While you or I could go to the state pen for buying too much Sudafed, debt collectors almost always go unpunished for their lawbreaking.

Now a woman in Wheeling, West Virginia, has won a judgment of over $10,000,000 against an abusive debt collector - the largest sum ever levied against such a firm. But the debt collector has so far failed to pay a penny.

This story of debt collector thuggery began a couple years back when Reliant Financial Associates called the woman and threatened to seize her house unless she paid a debt she didn't owe. The woman then sent RFA an official cease-and-desist letter, which RFA signed.

Less than a half-hour after signing the letter, RFA began making hang-up calls to her home, and made it appear on her caller ID as if the calls were coming from her local sheriff's department. After several days of this illegal harassment, an RFA representative called the woman (again posing as the sheriff's department) and threatened to gang-rape her.

During the resulting lawsuit against RFA, RFA's lawyer arrogantly failed to even show up in court. The case yielded a multimillion-dollar verdict against RFA.

Then it turned out RFA was just a phony name used by a firm titled Global AG, LLC. RFA was in effect one of many Global AG collection companies. How's that for deception?

The defendant has paid none of the judgment so far.

If the Old West had modern telephony, debt collectors who threatened rape would have found themselves dancing in the crisp desert air as the gallows were sprung. As long as most states have capital punishment, why don't we pass laws to impose a corporate death penalty? Under this law, if a company threatens to commit rape to collect a debt, the firm must be shut down. End of story.

Lawn Chair Quarterback: "That Smell"

Tim reminisces about the telltale signs of a pants-soiling...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Long-troubled judge accused of abusing authority

I've waited for this day for 20 years.

Back in 1992, Judge Michael Sage of Butler County, Ohio, faced ridicule when he damn near went ballistic on the plaintiff in a school harassment lawsuit. Sage's right-wing extremism and disregard for the plaintiff were inexcusable, and I wondered if he wouldn't someday be disgraced by scandal.

Now a court reporter has filed a complaint against Sage that says he retaliated against her after their 9-year-long extramarital affair ended. The judge allegedly instructed staffers to intimidate and harass her.

Sage is now facing an investigation over the allegations, and there are calls for Sage to resign.

And so, another self-anointed "family values" connoisseur finds his career in tatters. It took time, but better late than never. Patience can pay off.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tea Party leader convicted of raping daughter

It's more crickets from the pop-up media, as yet another of the Tea Party's high fliers goes down in disgrace.

Charles Dyer - a Tea Party leader in Oklahoma who is also a member of the far-right Oath Keepers - has now been convicted of raping his own daughter. A jury has recommended a sentence of 30 years.

Throughout the trial, right-wing organizations supported Dyer, claiming he was the victim of government persecution. Dyer himself has threatened violence against cops and court officials.

It turns out though that Dyer had woes even before the Tea Party got off the ground. Back in 2006, he was arrested for stealing a grenade launcher from the military.

What does it say about the Tea Party when so many of its followers were determined to assist a man who raped his own daughter? And what does it say about those in The Media who continue to support the Tea Party?


Occupy under siege!

It's a fact that the Occupy movement has so far been the target of no fewer than 37 politically motivated assaults, bombings, and arsons - mostly in America. And these are just the civilian attacks. This doesn't include all the police riots.

Few arrests of the assailants have been made, and The Media (in their typical shit-eating fashion) has been almost completely silent.

I've set up a webpage detailing each known civilian attack against Occupy - the most recent being an arson in Illinois just yesterday...

We're in a war. It's Occupy versus the 1% arsonists and thugs. Whose side are you on?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Lawn Chair Quarterback: "Expelled!"

Tim celebrates the 22nd anniversary of getting expelled from high school...

More Nazi violence against Occupy

I have utmost respect for the Occupy coalition's pledge of nonviolence, but I think it's time the movement carves out a clear exception to accommodate self-defense.

I've warned my fellow Occupy peeps upfront that there are thugs out there who want us dead. They will kill us if they get the chance. Occupiers in other cities have already ended up in the hospital, in fact. The Occupy folks I've talked to agree we're in some degree of danger, so it's time to do something about it.

On Wednesday evening, I was at Piatt Park again for Occupy Cincinnati. After I bicycled up to Occupy's warehouse and back to the park, I discovered somebody had driven a large roofing tack into the rear tire of my bike, which ruptured the inner tube. It apparently took place while it was chained up at Piatt earlier, for the rear tire kept skidding during the trip to the warehouse.

This isn't mere vandalism. This is a safety issue, and it's serious.

I remember seeing a strange man traipsing through the park around the time the incident would have occurred, but I can't pinpoint him as the culprit. I also doubt this crime was committed by the scrawny oaf who argued with us at Tuesday's tax fairness rally endorsed by Occupy Campbell County. (Authorities had tried to suppress that protest by placing crime scene tape along the edge of the street.)

What if we catch some asshole red-handed sabotaging a bike like this? I absolutely believe a tire iron to the skull would be justifiable as self-defense. With the number of assaults against Occupy mounting, somebody in the Occupy coalition is going to just lose it sooner or later. When it finally happens, and some violent thug gets what's coming, it will be a moment to savor.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dick Clark liked gum

Dick Clark loved gum. He couldn't get enough of the stuff.

The legendary TV and radio personality died yesterday at the age of 82. And he wasn't just known for American Bandstand and his countdown that competed with Casey Kasem. He was also a gum spokesman at several points in his long career.

In a commersh said to be from 1987, Clark advertised Care-Free - the sugarless gum that nobody has chewn in years...

Mr. Clark did not chew gum in that ad - let alone blow bubbles. But he talked about how much he loved vitamin G! He even uttered the magic phrase - bubble gum!

That's not the only connection between Dick Clark and gum. For art and music appreciation class when I was in high school, our teacher brang in some old American Bandstand shows and pointed out that the teenagers dancing on the show were always chomping on huge wads of this zesty viand.

R.I.P., Dick Clark.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Damn, they're not even trying!

I think this story is a sign that the Evil Empire is just throwing up its hands in surrender.

Right-wing blogger Ed Morrissey has taken to just spouting off whoppers that a majority of Americans can debunk just with their own experiences. Not only does he claim the Bush era was "the greatest economic expansion in modern American history", but he also claims America's yawning wealth gap is a hoax whipped up by the Obama administration to win votes.

The latter claim is impossible, of course, because I was writing about economic inequality for 15 years before Obama even took office.

Morrissey goes on to coo that "there is no income-inequality 'crisis.'" (Emphasis his.)

Don't adjust your glasses. He actually said that.

He thinks it's not really true that a cashier at a fast food restaurant makes a lot less money than the CEO? If Ed Morrissey actually believes the bullshit he spews, he is beyond delusional.

I guess they know they can't brainwash us into thinking the wealth gap is some sort of natural order or that it's something we've brung down upon ourselves through our own actions. Instead their "strategy" is to say the wealth canyon is fabricated altogether, get laughed at for it, and then cry about how mean we're being. Absolutely nobody today truly believes there isn't an income inequality crisis. Nobody.

Georgia joins class warfare brigade

When the government drug-tests welfare recipients but not the boards of directors of corporations that get bailout money, there's a phrase for it: class warfare.

Now Georgia has joined Florida in passing an unconstitutional law to force people on welfare to be drug-tested without probable cause. This bill has just been signed into law by the corrupt Gov. Nathan Deal, and is almost identical to the Florida law that has been suspended by a federal court. As in Florida, the Georgia law even requires people to pay for the drug tests themselves.

Deal even lied about his reason for signing it. He says Florida's law has saved the state $1,800,000. No it hasn't - because less than 3% of applicants there have failed the drug test. Florida's law has cost the state over $100,000 - which is more than what would have been paid out as benefits to these applicants. The fact is, these laws are designed to drive the poor out of the state altogether.

It's not as if most of the Grey Poupon right-wingers these days are shy about what they really think. Fascist State Sen. John Albers - who sponsored the Georgia law - scoffed at claims that the law unfairly singles out the poor. "Fair is not the way you build a great nation," he said.

It isn't? Tell that to all the soldiers who are out fighting for the U.S. of A. If you told them America isn't supposed to be built on fairness, they'd ask, "Then why I am out here getting shot at for my country?" Is right-wing class warfare really what countless American military personnel have fought and died for?

Go ahead, Republicans. Make this election about class warfare. I dare you. See what happens on Election Day.


Monday, April 16, 2012

More of that Tea Party charm!

As the Tea Party continues its usual April campaign, more examples of its fascism emerge.

Yesterday, the Tea Party held a rally in Boston that was met by dozens of counterprotesters from at least 5 different organizations. One of the Tea Party's keynote speakers at their Boston Common gathering was Scott Lively, who once headed the California branch of the far-right American Family Association. Lively is also being sued for inciting anti-gay hate crimes in Uganda, and he once assaulted a woman at an Oregon church by slamming her against a wall.

During the Boston event, a police officer tried choking a counterprotester, but one of the most instructive moments was supplied by a still-unidentified Tea Party speaker. This speaker told the crowd, "We will not be silenced by faggots." This pronouncement was broadcast across Boston Common through the loudspeaker.

How adult.

Tea Partiers also committed at least one physical assault against counterprotesters.

The Tea Party claims to be for "fiscal responsibility", but how does this have anything at all to do with "fiscal responsibility"?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Another year of public humiliation for Tea Party

Yesterday, Cincinnati area Occupy folks and the Movement for Justice and Equality in Mauritania held a rally on Fountain Square urging Wall Street and the U.S. government to stop funding Mauritania's apartheid regime. I'm proud to say I went to this rally. Yet The Media provided no prior promotion of this event, and the sky was stormy all day.

Today, the Tea Party appeared on the same square for what was supposed to be their biggest rally of the year. The Media promoted this event like there was no tomorrow, and there was fine weather for it.

Even though the Tea Party's right-wing complain-a-thon got much more promotion and much nicer weather than the spectacular and forceful Occupy/MJEM event, the Tea Party got less turnout.

I made no prior mention of the teaburglars' protest on this blog, because I knew it would be a bust. Then again, they did have ridiculous radio commercials for their demonstration - while Occupy and MJEM had no radio ads at all.

Where did the Tea Party draw its crowd from? Wouldn't ya know it, I happened to see their tour bus beforehand. I was at the ongoing Occupy appearance at Piatt Park, and I noticed passengers on the bus taking pictures of us while the bus circled the park. They were probably the same hapless clods who embarrassed themselves at the Tea Party meltdown in Madison, Wisconsin, yesterday.

And there was the heckling. I walked down to Fountain Square from Piatt Park to monitor the Tea Party, and the speaker who was up on stage was grumbling about the prospect of counterprotesters. He meant Occupy, of course. So I heckled the crowd about why they were demanding a balanced budget amendment now but never raised a peep against Bush's costly wars.

After I got back to Piatt, we were confronted by some weirdo who argued with us about so-called "right-to-work" laws. I don't know whether he had come from the Tea Party harangue, but he claimed he knows all about the economy because he owns 4 corporations. He decried American workers because they expect to be paid more than 12 cents an hour, and he gloated that he preferred hiring overseas.

Stay classy, teagaggers.

Now they want drug tests for child support

The Republicans really are trying to lose the election, aren't they?

Right-wing Iowa State Sen. Mark Chelgren has introduced a bill to require parents who receive child support to take a drug test - if the parent who pays the child support demands it.

Who's keeping track of how many people the GOP has demonized with this meme? They've demonized workers, high school students, welfare recipients, the unemployed, and now parents (the mother in the majority of cases). Is there anybody remaining except wealthy executives?

This time, however, Chelgren's bill only drove home the point that not all attention is good attention. When he introduced the measure, fellow legislators burst into laughter.

Chelgren clearly doesn't even understand what child support is for. It's not a reward for being a custodial parent. It's for the child to enjoy the right to be supported by both parents. Plus, child support isn't paid for from taxpayer-funded coffers, but from a parent.

If you want somebody to take a drug test, we should start with CEO's who get free bailout money. Wall Street has been proven to exhibit more destructive behavior than the rest of the country put together.

It strains suspension of disbelief to think the Republicans can win votes by drug-testing the 99% while leaving the 1% alone - or that they can claim to be for smaller government while backing bills like Chelgren's. This is why I think they're trying to lose the election and make martyrs of themselves. But some have suggested that their strategy is to put out increasingly bizarre ideas just so they get some play and pull the center of debate back to the right - helping these ideas become reality eventually. It worked with their 1996 Telecommunications Act, so why not?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Romney scowl

Know who Mitt Romney reminds me of?

As Last Word readers know, I attended Bishop Brossart High School in Alexandria, Kentucky, in the late '80s - before I got expelled. This school was an unmitigated scam. The principal at the time was positively one of the most despicable individuals I've ever had the misfortune of meeting.

That's who ol' Mittler reminds me of.

Just watch RMoney the next time he delivers a stupid speech. Or any speech (as if he doesn't provide bushels of stupidity every time he opens his yip). Notice how he stabs the air with his hand. And look at the way Romney scowls and purses his mouth as he talks. It's the same hangman's scowl my high school headmaster sported daily. The crazed look in the eye is the same too.

The scowling, the gesturing, the crazed look, the hyperventilating. I've seen it all before, and I know it says a lot about Romney - none of it good. At minimum, Romney's body language shows he's a guy who doesn't mind stepping on everybody else's faces to get ahead. At its worst, it indicates Romney is a sociopath who enjoys harming people, even when it isn't necessary to advance himself.

John McCain at least was likable in an Oscar the Grouch sort of way. By contrast, I can tell Romney is more than a little unhinged. He has the potential to be as dangerous as Bush was. Judging by the latest polling numbers from Colorado, we probably won't have to worry, but we still need to keep an eye out just in case.

Mitt Romney does not think the same way you and I do. It's not just a matter of him never having to work like us. It goes much deeper than that.

I'm not a philosopher, so it's beyond my scope to fully understand it. The truth is that there are simply evil people in the world. Evil drives the modern Republican Right. I am 100% convinced of that.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Lawn Chair Quarterback: "All The Right Farts In All The Right Faces..."

Tim reminisces about an old NAPA jingle...

Occupy fights school uniforms?

It's happening.

Abolishing mandatory uniforms in public schools should be one of the top priorities of the Occupy coalition. Few stories in recent years have plastered smirks onto the smug faces of the 1% like the rise of uniforms has, because they know that when they get our kids young, that's it.

And now, our schools are being Occupied!

Students in Bridgeport, Connecticut, have circulated a petition against a right-wing uniform policy. The school system's unconstitutional sumptuary law topped the list of complaints by students who attended a citywide youth forum on Wednesday. The petition bore hundreds of signatures.

When the head of the school board praised uniforms, a student responded, "That's '90s talk."

Think the Bridgeport school district isn't stuck in the decade of incoherence? Well, Paul Vallas serves as its interim superintendent. That name dredges up bitter memories for education activists, as it was Vallas who helped devastate the Chicago and Philadelphia school systems with his far-right corporatist gimmickry.

In Midland, Texas, it's parents who are circulating a petition to abolish uniforms. Within hours, this petition already amassed 70 signatures:

These petition drives seem to represent perhaps the purest form of freedom: the knowledge that basic liberties exist. Knowing your rights and taking steps to defend them is perhaps even more fundamental than exercising these rights. People exercise basic rights every day, but that doesn't always mean these rights are fully understood. And - trust me - requiring uniforms in public schools is a breach of constitutional rights. The Tinker v. Des Moines ruling affirms this.

My only disagreement with these petition campaigns: Folks should have skipped the petition and just defied the uniform policy outright. Call the schools' bluff. What can the schools do? At this rate, however, such mass disobedience isn't far off.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Free speech? Not in Major League Baseball!

Silly me for thinking America is a free country! The truth about what the United States has become can still be shocking, even after America's 28-year hard frost of fascism that dashed millions of dreams.

Recently, when Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillén made remarks that were misconstrued as favorable to Fidel Castro, the incident should have been seen as a rallying cry for free expression. It would have been a golden opportunity to highlight how political speech should be protected regardless of how unpopular such speech may be.

Instead, the Marlins suspended Guillén - just for exercising his free speech. Major League Baseball commish Bud Selig supported the suspension.

The suspension followed demands by right-wing politicians that Guillén be fired. It also followed plans by right-wing Cuban émigré organization Vigilia Mambisa to boycott the Marlins unless Guillén was dismissed. Vigilia Mambisa was also among the right-wing terrorists who violently disrupted the vote recount in the 2000 presidential "election."

If Guillén can be suspended for his comments on Castro, why weren't ballplayers who praised Bush suspended? Why the double standard? Bush is a war criminal who was one of the most thuggish dictators on the planet.

The Marlins' home field is Marlins Park, a brand new stadium that was financed with $360,000,000 in city and county tax funds. I don't know about you, but in my day, if an organization receiving taxpayer funds suspended an employee because of their political statements, that would be considered a clear violation of the First Amendment. In light of this, the city and county should bar the Marlins from using their new stadium.

And, in light of Selig's support of Guillén's suspension, Congress or the Obama administration must remove baseball's antitrust exemption.

In America, free speech is to be respected. Bud Selig and Vigilia Mambisa are like the cheap loudmouths who disrupt Occupy rallies - only worse.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Lawn Chair Quarterback: "Let Them Eat Chanel No. 5"

It's the Cincinnati Reds playin' baseball again!

Indeed it is!

So why not celebrate the start of baseball season by going to the Opening Day parade as I did yesterday? And why not celebrate it again by exploring the fact that Chanel No. 5 (not to be confused with Channel 5) refers to its fancy brand of bath soap as "cake"...

Iowa GOP fabricates crisis, wastes tax dollars

The conspiracy to smuggle right-wing dogma into America's schools runs deep, and one doesn't even need to challenge it to be targeted by those who adhere to it.

Some right-wing nobody is suing a former dean at the University of Iowa's law school because the school won't hire her as a professor. She claims the university rejected her because of her conservative politics. This despite the fact that there's not a shred of evidence to show that's why she was rejected.

This frivolous suit has already wasted countless tax dollars. And now the state Republican Party has demanded that lawmakers launch a lengthy investigation into the university - wasting even more.

Is this anything like how Kentucky (under the incompetent leadership of then-Gov. Ernie "Hey Bert" Fletcher) kept firing employees for not being conservative? Plus, for years, the Kentucky university system has blackballed faculty and investigated students deemed not conservative enough. Where's the lawsuits?

It's both ironic and telling that the Iowa lawsuit involves somebody applying to teach at a law school. If the purpose of laws is to protect people's rights, it seems ironic for a right-wing activist to become a law professor, for modern right-wing orthodoxy exists to deny people their rights. In addition, the fact that right-wing activists try to infiltrate teaching positions (at the expense of dissenters) speaks volumes about their intent to perpetuate their sweeping canon.

This lawsuit should bring heavy sanctions against the plaintiff for wasting the court's time and money.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Have no fear, ish #465 is here!

The Last Word may seem like a bit of a curiosity: a left-wing publication in northern Kentucky. Now it's published issue #465, and this will prove to be one of the most pivotal yet cathartic moments in Last Word history.

If you've never heard of The Last Word, you won't care. But if you're one of the cool people who has read this fanzine of freedom for 19 years, you will. This is also a big day for this blog, and you can find the latest edition of The Last Word here...