Friday, December 28, 2012

Lawn Chair Quarterback: "Room-Clearing Roo"

Tim critiques recent holiday flatulence...

Chiquita, tell me what's wrong...

Are corporations people? They are according to some Cincinnati city officials, who offered banana giant Chiquita a seat on the local airport board late last year.

The offer was supposed to be an incentive to get Chiquita to keep 270 jobs in town, but oftentimes when you talk about giving incentives to corporations, it's shorthand for caving to a company's unreasonable demands. The more important point though is one that highlights Americans' growing sentiment against corporate personhood: Chiquita is a corporation - the business kind - not a person or nonprofit group.

One gets the image of one of the seats at airport board meetings being held by a giant talking banana.

In addition to the airport seat, the city also planned to give Chiquita a handout of $25,000 to use for whatever it wanted.

This story of corporate personhood is separate from an earlier scandal after which Chiquita was fined for hiring Colombian paramilitary groups, or another in which the company has been accused of using a private militia to intimidate workers. These sagas were preceded in 1998 by a local media piece charging Chiquita with a series of offenses ranging from employee mistreatment to environmental pollution. Regrettably, I dropped the ball regarding that probe, thanks to the right-wing harassment campaign that was being carried out against me at the time. Remember that? So wipe those smirks off your faces, conservos.

There's lots of cruelty built into corporatism - a system that's failed worldwide.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Lanza took psychotropic drugs

I've explored the hypocritical values that have been an underlying factor that leads to mass shootings - and this story highlights one major facet of these values.

Almost without exception, modern America's spree killers had been prescribed psychotropic drugs prior to the killings. In fact, there might not be a single exception. I withheld saying this about Newtown shooter Adam Lanza until I knew for sure - but now the truth emerges.

According to Lanza's uncle, Lanza had been prescribed Fanapt, a powerful antipsychotic. Side effects of Fanapt include delusion, paranoia, and mania.

Big Pharma has as much blood on its hands as anybody else. Militarization of our schools and society is ubiquitous and highly visible. But the toxins hawked by Big Pharma's drug lords are the active ingredient in firearm massacres.

Furthermore, Fox News lied when it reported Lanza hadn't been drugged. This is just the latest of the Fox News distortions that have piled up like flapjacks for years - all courtesy of the channel without which the discredited Tea Party would not have been possible. (It's fair to say Fox News practically built the Tea Party from the top down.)

What a pathetic lot our society has become. A pathetic, sad, miserable lot. But if people wise up, history will look unkindly upon Big Pharma's dominance. Before long, psychiatry will be widely viewed as the quackery that it is. But that assumes there will still be anybody alive to make this judgment - for the pharmaceutical companies seem to be rapidly killing everybody.


KickApps gets kicked

Another nail in the coffin of what was once touted as a wide-open Internet.

The KickApps content hosting service has been taken over by a corporation that - without warning - has promptly deleted all content. KickApps is now reportedly being used solely for corporate content - but I just checked it, and it's down completely.

All the work that KickApps users have put into their websites is now gone into thin air.

Government inaction has killed yet another valuable Internet service - not unlike when Yahoo!'s takeover of Geocities was rubber-stamped by the Justice Department's failure to intervene.

For an Internet that was once hyped as being a boundless frontier, the government sure hasn't done much to ensure the free flow of ideas.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Lawn Chair Quarterback: "WSBD"

Tim celebrates the holidays by talking about how flatulence is like owning a radio station...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Conservatives who put guns in schools now want more guns in schools

This is another story of how the militarization of American society and the rise of the right-wing police state have accomplished nothing except to worsen gun violence - and how those who cheered the rise of the police state use the increased violence as an excuse for even more police state measures.

It is believed that in the 1970s, no American public school (outside of juvenile detention) had gun-toting guards roaming the hallways. And gun violence in schools back then was practically nil. Today, 68% of American high schools have armed guards. Is there less violence as a result? Of course not. It's also believed that no democracy in the world except the United States has armed guards in schools. Yet what country has more school shootings than every other nation put together?

America puts guns in schools - then acts surprised when somebody brings in a gun and shoots up the place.

Now - following the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut - the right-wing brain trust is demanding even more armed guards in schools. Far-right former Education Secretary and drug czar William Bennett says he endorses this increased militarization.

It brings a whole new meaning to the school-to-prison pipeline. Indeed, it makes it redundant, as our schools have essentially become prisons. It's a fact that American schools are violence central. News reports keep trying to assure us that school is one of the safest places to be. But it isn't. I've known this firsthand since 1984.

The right-wing talking heads who come up with ideas like this are as out of step as the jumbled, blustery, corporate-minded leadership of the NRA is. (Incidentally, I thought I'd warn you that "Occupy the NRA" is not a bona fide Occupy chapter. They've been deleting legitimate Occupy-related posts from several different people on their Facebook page. The project is really just a ham-handed attempt to "tone down" Occupy - not unlike how the DLC mutilated the Democrats.)

The militaristic ravings generated by the wardens of our prison-like school system have gone unchallenged for far too long.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Arkansas town to switch to martial law

If we're so determined to perform an effective exorcism against America's gun culture, we should start by demilitarizing our streets. But the town of Paragould, Arkansas, seems to be revving up in reverse.

Starting in the new year, Paragould plans to check the ID of anybody seen walking downtown - regardless of age, regardless of time of day. This right-wing "papers please" plan is endorsed by Mayor Mike Gaskill and Police Chief Todd Stovall. This martial law proposal will involve police in SWAT gear openly carrying military-style assault guns.

Stovall said, "If you're out walking, we're going to stop you, ask why you're out walking, check for your ID." Ask me all you want, but you ain't gonna get it. How 'bout that? As a free people, we are constitutionally protected from such arbitrary government acts.

Gaskill said of Paragould's citizenry, "They may not be doing anything but walking their dog, but they're going to have to prove it." Because everyone is guilty until proven innocent, right?

Stovall provided more details of how his martial law plan will be carried out: "We will be asking for picture identification. We will be ascertaining where the subject lives and what they are doing in the area. We will be keeping a record of those we contact."

Is anybody still laughing today over my earlier warning that "America is fast becoming a police state"?


Monday, December 17, 2012

Tea Party blames unions for Newtown shooting

Time for the Tea Party to recline its shit-caked jaws to an unopened position, methinks.

After Friday's school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, we try to find solutions. But the Tea Party predictably tries to affix blame. Tea Party Nation's Timothy Birdnow has posted a piece on the group's website somehow blaming the shooting on labor unions. It is unclear how.

The article also blames "sex" in movies and TV shows - a complaint that has been an evergreen of right-wing outbursts almost since movies and TV were invented. Birdnow complains that young people's "passions are eternally inflamed, and they wander the Earth with no outlet for their overstimulated glands", and he demands government censorship of entertainment. The piece also cites the lack of corporal punishment in schools as a supposed cause of the shooting. This despite the fact that America is one of few countries that still has paddling in schools - and countries that have abolished it very rarely experience school shootings.

All that from the "small government" Tea Party.

Looks like another Congress full of no solutions. Might as well make it 10 Congresses in a row, I guess. Somebody needs to tell the Tea Party they lost the popular vote for Congress.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Video shows Fox contributor assaulting labor demonstrator

Last week, as you know, labor supporters held a rally in front of the Michigan State Capitol against the state's Hitleresque new "right-to-work" law. Fox News endlessly replayed a video that purported to show labor union activists attacking Fox contributor and "comedian" Steven Crowder.

Witnesses had said Crowder started the brawl, but nobody could find video to prove it. But the video has since surfaced...

Ironically, the source for the full video was none other than Fox News itself! They mistakenly forgot to edit it when they first showed it.

And it is clear from the tape: Crowder assaulted the union man. He shoved him clean to the ground. I can see that with my own two eyes. Crowder started a fight, and the guy fought back. Steven Crowder is damn lucky he didn't shove me like that.

What a shock! A guy who probably busted his ass 40 hours a week his whole life is met with ridicule and violence by Fox News, the Tea Party, and the Republican Party of Michigan. Who'd have ever thought that deliberately knocking a man to the ground would get you punched?

An employee of Michigan's agriculture department said of Crowder, "There was no question he was there just to start a fight, to start some kind of trouble." He also said Crowder "wasn't going to go home until he got punched."

This is why I support the right to self-defense. Some who claim to be of my political ilk think we should be forced to fight with both hands tied behind our backs. But what's good enough for the other side should be good enough for us. If some right-wing hooligan lays a hand on me, they're done.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Lawn Chair Quarterback: "Foil Fail"

Tim tries to eat aluminum foil...

Why what can't happen in your town happens

Millions of Americans think mass shootings can't happen in their community - until it happens.

We've seen it in schools, malls, and other places. School shooters have sometimes been students, but at other times adults from the community (as is believed to be the case in Newtown, Connecticut).

When we look at America's spree shootings dating back some 20 years, one feature is a common denominator in almost all cases. I'm going to anger a lot of people by saying this, but the truth has to be told: Most of these incidents were in overbuilt outer suburbs.

Shooting sprees are significantly less of a threat in inner-city America. Cities have a few rough parts, but nothing like that. If we were to weigh mass killings by population density, I'd think we'd find astounding evidence of cities' safety.

Let me be frank: The problem is the hypocritical values honored in suburbia. The further from the city you go, the more you have to listen to people preaching to everybody else how to live their lives - when these dour scolds can't get their own lives straightened out. I know this from experience, so don't tell me to be quiet. I will speak about this problem because I am American.

What do you think this does to a person who might not fit the community's economic or social mold? I know we can't tolerate somebody killing innocent people (especially children), but we must get to the root of how the shooters became shooters. There's no evidence that the assailants were simply born bad. What factors allow them to become mass killers?

Start with this: Suburban life means being surrounded by people who just don't give a shit. In the city, people care. I regularly perform community work in what is reputed to be Cincinnati's roughest neighborhood, and if a young person there is in trouble, at least somebody in the neighborhood takes the time to care about their plight. An attack against an innocent teenager is considered an attack against the whole community.

Contrast this with suburban Campbell County. I grew up in that part of town, and one thing became clear to me in the mid-'80s: If you're in trouble in the suburbs, people...just...don' You can't depend on anybody. Anybody! You can count on years of beating your head against the wall.

I felt like if I was shot in the middle of the street, people would just step over my body and go about their lives. Everything was all about them, them, them. They only cared about who their favorite celebrities were screwing - and policing what ordinary people did. These are individuals who are so preoccupied with gossiping on the phone that they consider people falling apart around them to be mere objects.

I remember a couple of teachers who liked to lecture students about how they were all on drugs or how the country's morals were going down the dumper - yet it turned out later they had their own issues they didn't want to deal with. And while school personnel called us druggies, they force-fed us Ritalin and other toxins.

Let me repeat: In outer suburbs, Understand? You are considered a mere machine to them.

That's how spree killers are made. They're raised in the wrong environment.

Despite today's terrible events, school shootings in America have declined precipitously since 2009. Last year, the number of deaths resulting from such sprees was the lowest in 20 years. But society clearly has more work to do to reestablish the principles of community that we have a right to expect in a civilized society.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

"Do you speak English?"

Remember Inside/Out and Self Incorporated? These were very similar educational TV series from the '70s. They aired on PBS. Each episode was 15 minutes long and was supposed to include an important life lesson.

That doesn't mean it always did include a lesson. But it was supposed to. These shows were well-intended, but when we watched them at school in 5th grade, I just thought they were laughable. In those days, I lacked the cerebral acumen to appreciate the lessons.

I remembered one installment that featured a boy roaming around a city in Quebec and asking folks, "Do you speak English?" After people kept answering in French, he would whine in frustration, "This is an English-speaking country!"

Nobody believed me when I said this show was real. But once again, YouTube saves the day. This show was an episode of Inside/Out...

What a find! I didn't think I'd ever find that one!

I didn't realize it when I first saw it in 5th grade, but the installment was intended to be a serious lesson against bigotry. When we watched it at school, I think I only started paying attention halfway through it, because we must have spent the first 8 minutes throwing paper airplanes, spitting loogies into the radiator, arguing about Rocky movies, eating staples, and pulling strands of burst bubble gum out of our hair. I didn't remember the jaunt through Quebec being precipitated by a scuffle filled with ethnic insults.

The best part of this clip may be around 9:33 where the kid gets a look on his face like he's taking a dump.

What a brat.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Michigan to revive emergency manager law

Lately, the Michigan legislature is making Kentucky's legislature look like an Occupy general assembly in comparison.

One of the first things Michigan lawmakers did in the lame duck session was pass a so-called "right-to-work" law nobody wanted - knowing they wouldn't have the votes for it once newly elected legislators were sworn in. Now they've continued to ignore the voters' mandate by reviving the hated emergency manager law.

The emergency manager law was a Tea Party-backed piece of legislation that allowed the state to gut local governments and school districts and replace them with unelected managers to do as they please. But the law was repealed by voters in a referendum in November.

Now - although voters repealed the law - the legislature is ignoring that vote and plans to pass it again. The Michigan House has just approved it, and the Michigan Senate is expected to follow.

They don't get it, do they?


Tea Party burns its bridge (again)

This story is just the latest example of how the Tea Party wants Free Stuff without ever having to pay for it.

As the replacement for the Brent Spence Bridge lurks, transportation officials say this freeway span will need to charge tolls. Few are enchanted by this plan - but the Northern Kentucky Tea Party is (as usual) crying the loudest.

But tolls wouldn't be necessary if the Tea Party hadn't killed the American Jobs Act, which would have fully funded the bridge - without tolls. So whose fault is it that it needs a toll?

Teazilla waste comes to the fore yet again. This is just like how the Tea Party cajoled Campbell County Fiscal Court into rejecting funding for a new library. This decision forced the library to seek a tax hike - and the Tea Party had the gall to oppose that too.

Don't want tolls? Then revive the American Jobs Act. It's that simple.

Only a teagagger could think a bridge is free. The Tea Party is an onion of unworkable ideas: Peel one layer of kook talk away, and there's more underneath. The Tea Party has dysfunctional weirdoes piled atop each other in a swaying tower, all grumbling about how the world is so mean to them. In reality, however, they're spoiled whiners who have enjoyed a free ride their whole lives. At the same time, their policies lead to tax increases and tolls paid by folks who have already been paying to support them.

The Tea Party is just like a strand of Christmas lights: They all hang together, half of them don't work, and the ones that do aren't very bright.

The November election was a mandate for the opposition to reject Teazilla ideas. Since the teaburglars have already proven they're not wise enough to pay heed, it falls on us to make sure the will of the people reigns.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Tea Party thugs stage fight at work-for-less rally

As protests get under way at the Michigan State Capitol against the fascist "right-to-work" law, 17,000 people who oppose the law have been met by one or two tents that contain the law's supporters. The tents are maintained by the far-right Americans for Prosperity (AFP) - a group that has helped prop up the Tea Party.

Fox News has been endlessly running a video that purports to show labor union supporters tearing down one of the tents and starting a fight. But it turns out that AFP tore the tent down themselves so they could blame it on the union folks. One witness says he saw one of the AFP operatives who had been inside the tent loosen the straps on the tent poles. Then the tent collapsed from the inside.

Fox News conveniently caught on camera most of the ensuing altercation - but not the collapse of the tent or the actual start of the fistfight.

Is this anything like the time Scott Walker was caught on tape talking about staging fights at the labor rallies in Wisconsin?


Michigan GOP self-destructs with right-to-scab law

Gentleladies and gentlemen, we have just witnessed the death of the Michigan Republican Party.

In most states, passing a misnamed "right-to-work" law is fascist. But ramming through a "right-to-work" law in the fifth-most unionized state is both fascist and loldumb.

Today, Republicans in the Wolverine State did just that: Right-wing lawmakers passed a work-for-less law today - and the already unpopular Gov. Rick Snyder signed it into law. They hastily shoved the law through with no public hearings. They did this during a lame duck session, because they knew it couldn't pass once the batch of new legislators elected in November took office.

If last month's defeat of a labor-related referendum emboldened the GOP, they sure didn't learn the right lesson. After all, most stupid people don't learn. While that measure would have added a provision against so-called "right-to-work" laws to the Michigan Constitution, it didn't lose because of that. The measure lost because of a different provision, which would have made it illegal for public workers to go on strike. For that reason, I would have opposed this referendum too.

Meanwhile, 13,000 labor supporters are Occupying the State Capitol in protest - by far the largest protest in the Capitol's history.

Snyder ran on a platform of opposing right-to-scab laws. Now that he signed such a law, everyone knows he's a liar. The more far-reaching point though is that the Democrats and Greens just got a nice holiday gift wrapped with an accordion bow - a gift that will become apparent the next time there's an election. Republicans can get away with passing work-for-less laws in places like Utah. But how in the Wide, Wide World Of Sports do they think this will help them in Michigan, of all places? Even when Indiana fell to the Evil Empire, there was serious talk of shutting down the Super Bowl. So this has the potential to grind Michigan to a standstill.

Granted, the Republicans today seem like little more than a Southern rump party. But its power goes well beyond Dixie. They want to impose their will on people who have rejected it.

And we call it a work-for-less law for a reason. Why do you think work-for-less states are so poor? And, if the Republicans cared about the right to work, where did all the jobs go during their reign? The American economy is much smaller now than in 1980, despite population growth.

American workers need to be armed and ready.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

No 95

Since this is a weekend, you don't want to read about politics. You'd rather read about tame radio stations from 30 years ago.

Here's an exhibit that'll make you roll on the floor in helpless guffawing...

After being exposed to that as a youngster, it's a miracle I didn't grow up to become a thoroughly fucked-up individual.

Don't get me wrong: I enjoy hearing some of the songs on that top 20 survey every now and then. But Yes 95 was an entire station full of nothing but!

When I was 8 or 9, almost every weekday evening was the same: In the run-up to dinner, my mom always blared Yes 95 on the stereo in the living room - filling the entire house with that station's laugh-o-septic music selection.

Incidentally, by late 1981 when that survey was printed, Yes 95 was AC, not top 40. Why in the fuck did Billboard still include them on the Hot 100 panel? (I discovered this recently when Google Books posted old Billboard issues.) Even when I was 8 years old, I could tell the difference between Yes 95 and Q-102.

That survey also brings up a fond memory of a misheard lyric. One day, I was playing with Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars in the bedroom when I first heard Dan Fogelberg singing, "I'm just a living legacy to the leader of the band." Yep, it was Yes 95 thumping in from the stereo! When I heard this song, I thought to myself, "What in the hell is a 'living magazine'?"

I'll bet you this: That survey has to be only a few weeks away from when I thought Bertie Higgins sang about "boogies in the car."

Friday, December 7, 2012

Restaurant owned by right-wing congressman refused to serve Muslims

If there's a prize for worst member of Congress, fascist Rep. John Fleming (R-Louisiana) might win the award hands-down. (Naturally, he's also the only congresscritter the Northern Kentucky Tea Party has fanned on its Facebook page - despite the geographic distance.)

Fleming is known for requiring employees of Subway restaurants he owns to distribute campaign literature. The "low tax" Fleming supports a 30% national sales tax, and his website has featured links to confirmedly abusive teen "rehabs." He also posted rambling, semiliterate responses to people who gave his self-published book bad reviews on Amazon.

Now the asshole is under fire again. Recently, a Muslim couple was turned away from one of Fleming's Subway shops in Shreveport, Louisiana. When I first saw the story, no mention was made of Fleming owning that particular Subway - but I knew it would turn out to be one of his shops.

The couple's side of the story goes like this: After the couple entered the Subway and used the restroom, the husband briefly left the restaurant to retrieve his medication from his car. An employee then noticed their Muslim clothing and asked, "Are you Muslim?" Upon discovering that the couple is indeed Muslim, the employee locked the man out, and locked the woman in. The employee reportedly said, "We can't serve you."

Fleming denies most of this, but he refuses to release security video of the incident. He then went on to accuse the couple of vandalizing the bathrooms - but he offered no proof. He did admit the restaurant asked the couple to leave - but only because the restaurant thought they were homeless. Oh, so John Fleming is denying religious discrimination, but admitting to economic discrimination. You're an idiot, John.

But Congress is policed by only Congress. Just like how the other 2 branches of government are also policed only by (you guessed it!) Congress. This is a structure that made sense when the Constitution was written. But not today. In a House of Representatives full of hacks who lack the sense of shame that it takes to expel Fleming, expect Fleming to keep stinking things up for as long as he dares. That's why we need constitutional reforms to weaken Congress - especially the broken House of Representatives.


Lawn Chair Quarterback: "The Plague Of '12"

It's another cold and flu season, which The Media always smirks and grins over...

Chicago school performs illegal strip search

Here's yet another reason why we need to stand up and exercise our constitutional liberties at all costs.

Last month at a Chicago high school, an assistant principal, a city police officer, and a pair of school security guards illegally strip-searched a 15-year-old boy. They claimed to be searching for drugs - but no drugs were found.

During the strip search, a guard molested him. "He started grabbing and searching my privates," the boy said.

Now the school district and the city are being sued.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled several years ago that school strip searches are illegal. Disobedience of this directive is nothing short of treason. Anyone who would carry out such an illicit search does not represent American values, and has destroyed their own soul. Such individuals are enemies of America, enemies of humanity, enemies of nature. The piping hot cauldron of a civil suit isn't severe enough punishment for them.

(Also, I've blackballed CBS as a source for this blog, because some of its owned-and-operated stations have lied about Occupy. However, I'm making an exception for this story, because I haven't seen it covered elsewhere.)