Friday, June 28, 2013

Lawn Chair Quarterback: "Kazoo Fun"

Tim plays his kazoo that's never been dropped in the toilet...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

GOP loses Kentucky election in upset

Be still my beating heart! The Republicans just lost one of the most hard-fought elections in recent Kentucky history by 10 percentage points! This after I thought for certain that the entry of an independent into the race had dashed any hopes of keeping this seat safe from the GOP.

The final result in the special election for Kentucky House in the 56th District is:

James Kay (D) - 44%
Lyen Crews (R) - 34%
John-Mark Hack (I) - 21%

(Figures do not add to 100% because of rounding.)

Now, I wasn't endorsing Kay or Hack. The important thing is that Lyen Crews lost. I had joked that Lyen Crews should change his name to Cry 'n' Lose - but one thing we won't be calling him any time soon is Laugh 'n' Win.

Let's look at the stats here: The GOP lost this election by a wider margin than in any other contested election for this seat in years. Moreover, Crews got only 34%! Thirty-four!!! There's places in Kentucky where I'd expect the GOP to get only 34% (if that). But a middle-class, mostly suburban district like the 56th is not one of them.

If you're a Republican, seeing your party win only 34% in a suburban Kentucky district is not where you want to be. Joe Fischer has to be quaking right about now.

This is especially amusing because the GOP kept boasting about how this election was going to be a bellwether for whether they'd seize control of the Kentucky House next year. Well, today's election has made that task all the harder.

No way in hell did I expect the GOP to lose today by 10%!

Supreme Court guts Voting Rights Act

What was perhaps the biggest achievement of the Civil Rights Movement is now just a memory - because of 5 cowardly, gutless members of the Supreme Court.

The 1965 Voting Rights Act is a landmark law that stood stronger than a marble wall for 48 years. A key provision said some states and localities that had been practicing racial discrimination had to undergo federal monitoring before making changes to the voting process. But these states and communities could bail out of this requirement if they took strong, sustained measures to improve voting rights.

If a community doesn't want to have to follow this requirement, it should expand voting rights so it can bail out. You don't go and scream like a baby that the law is unfair because it doesn't let you discriminate. And you damn sure don't sue over it.

But that's exactly what white supremacist officials in Shelby County, Alabama, did.

Let me give you an idea of how Shelby County is being run. For years, county officials covered up a child molestation scandal by rallying around a teacher who admitted to groping little girls. When one of the victims reported this abuse, other folks in the community began harassing her constantly.

More recently, Shelby County officials sued to get the Voting Rights Act thrown out. Instead of rejecting the stain of racism and taking steps that would let them bail out, they jumped straight to the court system. And today they won.

If you're flabbergasted that the Supreme Court would side with a bunch of racist child molesters, consider that this apartheid ruling was made by the same 5 Justices who gutted a century of campaign finance law by declaring that corporations are people in the bogus Citizens United ruling. The more important point is that today's Jim Crow ruling is constitutionally wrong. The Fifteenth Amendment is very clear:

"Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

"Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

Pay special attention to Section 2. It clearly authorizes the Voting Rights Act. It's as simple as this: The Voting Rights Act is valid because the Constitution says it's valid. This is completely unambiguous.

The taint of racism rules the roost in the modern Supreme Court. Far-right Justice Antonin Scalia said in February that Congress's reauthorizing of the Voting Rights Act was "very likely attributable to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement." He thinks it's "entitlement" for somebody to expect their right to vote to be respected? Scalia's racial rhetoric ranks right up there with the class war propaganda that fills right-wing websites and talk radio.

How extreme is today's Supreme Court ruling? It's almost like the Civil Rights Movement (let alone Occupy) never even happened! Americans died while fighting for racial equality - and now the apartheid Supreme Court has the unmitigated gall to dishonor their memory.

Who knows how today's shameful ruling will play out?

Monday, June 24, 2013

IRS discriminated against Occupy

Another right-wing conspiracy theory is shot to hell.

The Far Right and its demonic media minions have generated much noise over the IRS's alleged targeting of the Tea Party. We knew this was bunk gas, for we proved that most of the organizations whose tax-exempt status was rejected by the IRS were at least moderately liberal. In fact, the IRS approved the tax-exempt status of a right-wing ministry even though it endorsed a position in a voter referendum.

So it was clear there was no discrimination against the Tea Party. But now it's been proven the IRS has been actively discriminating against Occupy. New documents reveal that the IRS flagged the terms Occupy and progressive on organizations' applications for tax-exempt status.

This proves that the IRS's singling out of progressive groups isn't just something of the distant past, but also the very recent past - for Occupy is less than 2 years old - and probably the present.

So where's the congressional hearings?


Berlusconi gets 7 years in sex case

Italy's right-wing dictator Silvio Berlusconi was named Conservative Fool of the Day for 4/14/06 because he praised Mussolini and refused to concede defeat when his party lost the election. During his later political comeback, he issued a decree slashing teacher jobs, ordered police to suppress the resulting protests, and tried imposing school uniforms.

Now the 76-year-old former dictator has been convicted of sex with an under-age prostitute. The court has sentenced him to 7 years in prison and banned him from ever holding public office again. But Berlusconi plans to appeal his conviction.

This comes after Berlusconi was sentenced to 4 years in prison in a separate tax evasion case. In yet another case, Berlusconi was convicted of wiretapping.

But he says it's all a communist conspiracy against him.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Teabagger arrested over radiation terrorism plot

Glendon Scott Crawford and Eric J. Feight are an unsavory pair from upstate New York. Crawford has identified himself as a member of the United Northern & Southern Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Plus, he's a member of a Tea Party group called Americans Demanding Liberty and Freedom.

If you read this blog (as most commonsense people do), you know the Tea Party is by and large a racist movement, not unlike the modern Republican Party (which the Tea Party largely controls). But it's increasingly clear that - in addition to militant racism - terrorism is another seedy quill in the Tea Party's tricorne.

Crawford and Feight have been arrested for a bizarre terrorist plot against Muslims. Authorities say the duo tried to build a mobile radiation weapon that could sicken and kill targets. They planned to sell this truck-mounted death ray device to other folks.

According to authorities, the plot was uncovered after Crawford tried to sell the device to a synagogue - but the synagogue didn't buy the device, despite Crawford's pleadings. Employees of a local Jewish organization rightly alerted police of this "strange man." Crawford also tried selling the weapon to undercover informants posing as a South Carolina-based Klan group. Feight and Crawford also planned to test their remote-controlled death ray at a hotel.

So when are investigators going to drop the hammer on the Tea Party as a whole? Documents that were unearthed recently show how the FBI spied on Occupy, even though there's never been a single instance of Occupy trying to carry out a terrorist plot. (These same documents show that an unnamed group had actually tried to assassinate Occupy supporters.) But the Tea Party has been involved in terrorism attempts again and again, and the right-wing media continues to reprint their press releases verbatim.


More Kroger hilarity

Today at Kroger, I saw a Herb Alpert look-alike (big sideburns and all). Also, a person was seen bubbling and eating at the same time.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Union busters don't scare me

I don't know whether anyone in the local Tea Party thinks I can be intimidated. I remember when they failed to show up for their own protest in Wilder, and I always thought it was because I announced my intent to crash it. They did have their tour bus watching me at one of my pro-library rallies, but I don't know if they knew that I knew it was them. A few days ago, I publicly challenged them on the Cincinnati Enquirer's website to defend their stance on unions, and they never took me up on the challenge.

Fact is, I'm not afraid of them or anyone else who tries to break labor unions.

Although I'm a freelancer and don't have a fixed worksite, I joined the National Writers Union yesterday. I'm serious about selling more of my writings - and using my work as a force for good. If I had union representation when AdSense pulled my account because of this blog's political views, I might have been able to at least get back my ad revenues that AdSense stole. But now I'm planning a new writing job, and I have every expectation that it will be far, far more lucrative than ones I had earlier.

The NWU is part of the United Auto Workers, surprisingly. The NWU represents writers of books, 'Net content, and other material.

Spiting the Tea Party sounds like a damn good reason to join a union. The teaburglars hate unions, so there must be something mighty good about unions, right? But the significance of unions is much deeper than that. Zillions of Americans have close family members who were union workers for decades. The unions fought hard to give them their weekends, vacations, and other benefits.

Message for the Tea Party and other union busters: You do not scare me one damn bit. I must absolutely terrify the Tea Party, seeing how they fell silent when I challenged them the other day. They know who I am, and they wish I'd go away. I'm ruining their day, every day.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Right-wing groups sue to force states to ban unions

When Hitler enacted a so-called "right-to-work" law in Germany, it didn't take long before he outlawed labor unions completely.

A ban on unions is the ultimate goal of America's right-to-scab movement. Just recently, I was thinking about the Tea Party's recent interest in "right-to-work" laws, and I suspected that pretty soon they were going to start suing states to force them to enact such laws if they didn't already have one. (In Kentucky lately, we've seen how the unelected Tea Party legislates through the courts.) Already, something very similar is happening.

With the graying of America, more and more home health aides will be needed, and some states have rightly been making it easier for these workers to unionize. Connecticut, Illinois, Minnesota, and Vermont are among them. After all, workers have a constitutional right to join unions and freely bargain.

But the Far Right is suing in some states to try to gut this right.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy and the National Right to Work Legal Foundation - 2 extremist groups - are suing Illinois and Minnesota, demanding that the courts overturn laws that allow health aides to unionize. They've taken one case all the way to the Supreme Court.

Well, that's a first.

What Congress needs to do to stem these frivolous lawsuits is make it illegal for lawyers involved in filing union-busing suits to collect legal fees. More urgently, Congress or the President must strengthen the ability of health aides to join unions.

Lawn Chair Quarterback: "Putting The Ru In Rubik's Cube"

When I was at my mom's place recently to go through my old toys, I got a small container that had some old playthings in it. One of them was my prized Rubik's Cube. And there's absolutely no excuse for the condition I found it in...

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

And I Scholared in Latonia...Scholared with my feet 10 feet off of DeCoursey...

Today I brang the durable Peace Bike out for a surprisingly productive little Scholaring that centered on Covington's Latonia section. Throughout the event, I contemplated my next gainful writing gig. Photos and videos from this Scholaring lurk in the offing.

Also, the guy at the Speedway station bubbled. That's because bubbling season coincides with Scholaring season.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Kentucky stations drop right-wing attack ad

Here's a story involving the increasingly peculiar special election for the Kentucky House that takes place next Tuesday. This 3-way race afflicts the 56th District, which grazes Lexington and Frankfort, and it features Democrat James Kay, Republican Lyen Crews, and independent John-Mark Hack.

Now the Republican State Leadership Committee - a D.C.-based superPAC - has been running ads on behalf of the Tea Party-backed Crews. This costly blitz is of course made possible by the fascist Citizens United ruling. (Kentucky lawmakers have taken absolutely zero steps to rein in Citizens United.) But their latest TV commercial has been found to be so full of made-up bullshit about Kay that stations are dropping the ad. At least one TV station and the local cable company have yanked the commersh because of what the Kay camp calls "false and defamatory statements."

I will call out politicians who I think are untrustworthy - regardless of party. My judgments can be wrong - but seldom are. Crews has been so nasty throughout the campaign that I can't believe a word he says - and I damn sure can't believe anything a right-wing superPAC says.

All this from the party that's trying to sue its way into power.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

IRS right to target Tea Party over threats

In the wake of the IRS "scandal", we've now reached a situation that would have justified every damn bit of whatever treatment the Tea Party claims the IRS has given them.

The real IRS scandal is the fact that the agency was treating liberal groups much more harshly than conservative groups. In fact, it's almost certain that IRS officials were colluding with the Tea Party to manufacture last month's tumult. But none of that even matters in light of what's been revealed now.

IRS workers are now receiving threats of violence over its alleged targeting of the Tea Party. These threats have been turned over to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration for investigation.

Because of these threats, I think the IRS should target the Tea Party with all the gusto it can muster. Why should anybody get a tax-exempt status when they make threats of violence against public agencies?


Friday, June 14, 2013

Free speech wins in Occupy Nashville case

Two years into the Occupy campaign, and the Occupy coalition still wins more court cases than it loses. Not every judge is a Tea Party whack-a-doodle like the judges around here who ruled in favor of bankrupting the library.

Occupy Nashville was targeted for closure by the state of Tennessee almost from the beginning. A hastily written rule banned camping on state property, and a new state law was passed just to shut down Occupy. That law was signed by the now-scandal-tainted Gov. Bill Haslam. (Idaho passed a similar law around that time just to suppress Occupy Boise.)

Tennessee was sued by Occupy supporters who were arrested, because the arrests violated their free speech and due process. And now a federal judge has issued a sternly worded ruling in favor of Occupy.

To those who would try to silence Occupy, tough toilets. This is just the latest of many cases - including one in Cincinnati - that generally affirm Occupy's right to free speech.


Lawn Chair Quarterback: "That Still Hot Smoking Shaver"

Tim mourns his electric razor that caught on fire...

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Louisiana town imposes unconstitutional curfew

I know we're not supposed to trust NBC after their bad edit of a Michelle Obama speech, but still...

If you live in the town of Clinton, Louisiana, the Constitution is only a memory. A few weeks ago, the police chief imposed an all-ages citywide curfew that lasts each night from 11 PM to 6 AM.

I don't even need to tell you this is a violation of freedom of assembly.

I guess no Occupy in that town!

If the status of civil liberties in America is headed down the johndola, it's because of policies like this. It's not because of library taxes or the stop sign at 3rd & Maple that the Tea Party complains about.

In America, we go where we want, when we want.


Storm-chasing and other photos now up!

I'm a working man, and I can't afford to keep going on fact-finding missions to my heart's content. But recently I was on a storm-chasing trip to Kansas and Oklahoma that involved much Roads Scholaring. The event yielded 200 photos and videos of tornadoes, highway features, and other interesting exhibits.

So peep, weep, and oggle-beep...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

GOP ex-congressman convicted of 17 felonies

Rick Renzi is a Republican former congressman from Arizona who retired after being indicted on a host of federal charges.

Renzi faced 32 felony counts dealing with insider land deals, unlawfully using personal business funds for political purposes, and stealing money from customers of his insurance business to finance his political career. Now he's just been convicted of 17 of these counts.

Hey, look on the bright side, Rick. At least you weren't convicted of the other 15. You gotta be a real "glass is half-full" type if you want to be a Republican today!


Huge GOP scandal involving Watergate-style burglary in Florida


In Santa Rosa County, Florida, there's a special election going on for a Florida House seat. As usual, the Republican candidate is a Tea Party fave who was endorsed by the local media. The GOP candidate doesn't even live in the district and has refused to debate his opponent. The real story is what happened over the weekend at the Supervisor of Elections office where the ballots are stored.

Somebody broke into the Supervisor of Elections office and stole safes containing dozens of completed early voting and absentee ballots. Hundreds of blank ballots and a voting machine were also pilfered. Just as suspiciously, nothing else in the building was taken. The driver's license and sheriff's offices were in the same building, but those were left alone.

People want an answer, and they want it now.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Another bunkeroo detected

Yesterday I was at my mom's house to sort through old toys I haven't played with in 30 years - as if I was going to play with them now. Many of these toys are now ru, for they were battery-powered, and the innards have tarnished over time.

Anyhow, during this nostalgic gathering, somebody cracked an SBD bunker blast. It stunk up the back room of the basement and then some!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Girls' home stays open despite rape allegations

Residential "treatment" facilities for young people are a racket, and I'm proud to say I was involved in getting a chain of phony "rehabs" shut down a few years ago. The only reason they stay in business is the same reason the Republican Party does: They play on fear, they've got right-wing supporters propping them up, and they appeal to people with authoritarian impulses.

Integrity House is a "treatment" center for girls in Cedar City, Utah. Recently, former Integrity House director Daniel Taylor was arrested on a series of charges. Police say the 42-year-old Taylor - whose brother owns Integrity House - molested a 13-year-old girl while transporting her to the facility last month. The statement also says Taylor raped a 17-year-old girl 3 times in February. It also says a 12-year-old girl fought off a sexual assault by Taylor during a field trip he organized that month.

But Utah regulators announced yesterday they were allowing the home to stay open despite the charges. That figures. Utah has probably the sickest state government in America. That also contributes to why Utah has an unusual glut of youth confinement facilities.

Integrity House says they will be changing ownership as a result of the allegations against Daniel Taylor. But when you're dealing with residential programs, that could be just legal trickery. Programs like this often appear to change ownership, but usually it's just the same people hiding under a different corporate name.

There should be a nationwide ban on residential "treatment" centers for kids. Since some facilities locate in foreign countries to evade American laws, it should also be illegal to ship kids to these foreign programs. This is nothing less than human trafficking.


Lawn Chair Quarterback: "Urinal Cakes Are Poisonous"

Tim talks about a grade school chum who stuck part of a urinal cake up his nose...

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Murdoch rag sued for linking pair to marathon bombings

It's about damn time somebody mustered the gumption to sue a right-wing media outlet for its scuzzo lies.

After the bombings at the Boston Marathon, Rupert Murdoch's far-right New York Post portrayed a 16-year-old high school student and a 24-year-old college student as being responsible for the attacks. The paper ran a photo of the duo under the headline "Bag Men." A subheader falsely said the FBI was looking for them.

Now the pair is suing the Post for defamation. I think it's an open-and-shut case.

This comes only a few months after the Post falsely reported that a couple arrested with illegal explosives were part of Occupy Wall Street. This resulted in Occupy Wall Street holding a huge rally outside the headquarters of Murdoch's News Corporation with 8 huge banners featuring thousands of signatures protesting the Post's lies.

The New York Post isn't alone among media outlets in lying about Occupy. Hopefully there's some smart lawyers out there who will bankrupt the liars.


FBI spying on phone calls! Imagine that!

Stop the presses! It's now been revealed that the FBI has been spying on all Verizon phone communications in the U.S. for months!

Gasp! Say it ain't so!

Seriously, why is anybody surprised by this? The federal government has been routinely spying on phone conversations for at least a quarter-century. In fact, Cincinnati Bell was caught up in a scandal in which they did it even before then, as they wiretapped such notables as Gerald Ford and local newsman Al Schottelkotte. I know government wiretapping got even worse under Bush because "things changed", so there's no point in feigning surprise.

This of course doesn't make the FBI's current wiretapping right - or legal. The FBI and Verizon are violating constitutional protections against unreasonable searches. Even so, Saxby Chambliss, Dianne Feinstein, and Lindsey Graham have the unmitigated nerve to defend this unconstitutional spying program.

In 2011, President Obama issued a jobs plan - embodied in the American Jobs Act - that was popular and would have been workable if the Tea Party hadn't killed it. For a truly free people, however, economic advancement is only one part of the equation. The other side of the freedom coin stands for social progress - and expansion of civil liberties must now zoom to the fore.

Obama can and must put forth a civil liberties plan. True, it would involve rejecting much of what Gil Kerlikowske has proposed, but that's the price of leadership. No President in recent memory has had a real civil liberties plan, and now it's long overdue. There's absolutely no question whatsoever that Americans have less personal freedom now than 30 years ago - in all but a precious few aspects.

It's hard to say whether the FBI's current spying program is worse than public school uniforms, but it's high time our leaders acquire the guts to publicly denounce both.

The FBI's wiretapping proves the truth of this adage: Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you.

New science standards mean progress in Kentucky

Climate change is a scientific fact - not just a theory.

Evolution is a scientific fact - not just a theory.

I don't support Common Core per se (because it has too much corporate input and relies too much on standardized testing), but I damn sure welcome Kentucky's new standards for teaching science in schools. Kentucky's education system has long been gummed up by failed gimmicks, right-wing propagandizing, constitutional violations, economic inequality, corporal punishment, graft, and other ills - so it's refreshing to see progress for a change.

Yesterday, the Kentucky Board of Education passed - with a smashing 9 to 0 vote - new science standards that have ignited the wrath of the Tea Party and other precincts of the Far Right. These standards provide for updated knowledge about climate change and evolution - knowledge that has been missing in most American schools.

The extreme right opposes the new standards because facts are scary things to them. State Sen. Mike Wilson (not to be confused with Mike Wilson of the Cincinnati Tea Party) heads the Senate Education Committee, and he complained that the new standards teach that evolution can create new species. But it's a proven fact that evolution does create new species. That's the very definition of speciation.

Richard Innes of the far-right Bluegrass Institute - the same clowns who have been pushing for a right-to-scab law - groaned that the new standards will teach children that climate change is caused by human activity. Uh, Richard? The debate is over. Climate change is caused by human activity.

Overall, however, Kentuckians seem to support the new standards. Backers of the updated guidelines presented an Internet petition to the Kentucky Board of Education featuring 3,700 signatures.

The standards are not final yet, because - like everything else when you live under a unitary legislature - they may face a review by lawmakers. It would be an unforgivable shame if legislators dashed the futures of Kentucky's young people by gutting the standards.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Congress down to 6% approval rating

A new poll by Rasmussen Reports shows Congress has only a 6% approval rating. Moreover, only 33% of folks think their own representative deserves to be reelected - a stunningly low figure, considering how people used to think every member of Congress was an asshole except their own.

The 6% overall figure is shocking too, because Rasmussen is a heavily Republican pollster. Think how low this number would be if the poll was by a nonpartisan firm.

Six percent. I may have seen a lower approval rating for Congress once before, but I sure as shit don't remember it. It's pretty bad that Congress today is even less popular than that awful 104th Congress. It's even down from the 8% that Rasmussen gave Congress back in April - before the Benghazi and IRS probes that have now backfired badly.


Student loses suit over graduation ban

When you're fighting the Masters of the Universe who control America's schools, it's always an uphill battle.

In McKinney, Texas, a high school senior - a straight-A student - was effectively barred from her own graduation for an offense she didn't commit. Recently, school administrators accused her and several friends of drinking alcohol before the prom. All indications are that the accusation is false. But she was punished by being forced to attend an alternative school for a month - which caused her to miss her graduation ceremony.

The student sued the school system - but she lost. The reason the judge gave is downright preposterous. Collin County District Court Judge Mark Rusch said courts can't get involved in a school punishment unless the student is expelled or denied a diploma outright.


If a court can't remedy a school's lies and injustice, then who can? Are schools above the law? Yes. This is just another story that shows schools can make up shit with impunity. Kind of like when Brossart made me pay for a textbook that didn't exist that they accused me of ruining.

Plus, students have a right to attend their graduation ceremony. Our schools seem to have forgotten this basic fact. Each year, you see stories pile up about how schools have used some excuse to deny students this right.

Also, while the school's code of conduct mandates alternative school if a pupil "possesses, uses, or is under the influence of alcohol", how would it apply even if she was guilty of drinking before the prom? Schools can regulate what students do at school activities - but they can't go after somebody for drinking if they do it away from a school function.

This story is a perfect example of why Occupy needs to step up its campaign against the "zero tolerance" thought police and the school-to-prison pipeline.

"Free speech" activists stifle free speech at Tennessee rally

A poor, down-home Kentucky fella like me who has bad teeth and bad feet shouldn't have to correct a major TV station in a major city in this manner, but a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.

I found this piece on the website of WKRN-TV in Nashville...

The piece is headlined, "Forum on civil rights sparks protest rally for free speech." But the article reveals that the resulting protest wasn't for free speech at all. It was about denying free speech to others.

Folks in Manchester, Tennessee, tried to conduct an educational forum about how civil rights laws protect freedom of religion. But the meeting was crashed by right-wing extremists organized by Pamela Geller, an anti-Muslim bigot who came in from New York just for this event.

Just before the meeting, Geller's intolerant crew rallied outside the conference center. Many of them later went inside the event and heckled the speakers. They booed a U.S. attorney who spoke at the forum, and when he began talking about hate crimes, they shouted him down.

Nothing like denying somebody their free speech in the name of free speech.

The extremist mob also cheered an arson that destroyed a mosque in Columbia, Tennessee. They were so disruptive that the forum had to be cut short.

This event followed a scandal in which Coffee County Commissioner Barry West made a death threat on Facebook against Muslims.

WKRN can do better with its headlines. We can all do better at dealing with troublemaking bigots like Pamela Geller who have unlimited time to trudge across the country just to stir up mayhem.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Another nasty bruise for Campbell County

Typically, I no longer use the Cincinnati Enquirer as a source for this blog, but this story is too important to ignore.

It's not enough that Campbell County has what is often considered to be the nation's absolute worst school system. It's not enough that one of the county's leading elected officials wrote fan mail to the dictatorship in Singapore. It's not enough that local health authorities tried to outlaw birth control pills - in the late '90s, no less. It's not enough that the Tea Party filed a lawsuit to try to close down the library - and won. It's not enough that Campbell County has some of America's worst air pollution.

Campbell County has managed to draw an awfully lot of nationwide ridicule for being only a 44% Republican county.

Now a new ACLU report reveals that Campbell County has the country's worst racial disparity for marijuana arrests. You read that right: Out of more than 3,000 counties nationwide, Campbell County is #1 - the very worst. The report - titled "The War On Marijuana In Black And White" - reveals that blacks in Campbell County are 12.2 times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana possession, even though blacks and whites use marijuana at the same rate.

When people say the failed War on Drugs is racist, it's not hyperbole. People say it because of experience. Why is drug war racism even more extreme locally? Why is it tolerated? How long will it last? It will continue as long as people sit on their hands and let the Tea Party get what it wants. Everybody laughs at the Tea Party - but nobody seems to want to do much about it.

It's up to you.


So where did Nicholas Kristof, Chana Joffe-Walt, and Joe Klein get their medical degrees?

The Media always needs a scapegoat. If the War on the Poor was all the rage in the '90s, the War on the Disabled fills the same warped needs now.

Chana Joffe-Walt of NPR and the pro-sweatshop Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times are like the kid in school who picked on the classroom full of disabled students. Kristof and Joffe-Walt are leading a right-wing campaign to cut Supplemental Security Income - a federal program that provides a very small subsidy to people with a disability. And when I say small, I mean small. SSI is one of the least abused federal benefit programs, because it already pays such a small amount that it just doesn't pay to misuse it.

In December, Kristof wrote that poor families in Kentucky were yanking their kids out of literacy classes just so they'd qualify as disabled. Kristof's source? He didn't actually find anyone that was doing anything like this. His source was a lone school district employee, who provided no evidence. Moreover, illiteracy isn't enough to qualify a person for SSI. Plus, SSI rejects 60% of all benefit claims for children.

I love how Kristof just stomps into my state, jots down some unsupported canard he overheard, and parlays it into a right-wing talking point to be repeated endlessly for a nationwide audience. Kristof's bigoted claim about poor Kentuckians was so unsupportable that the Times' public editor Margaret Sullivan publicly blasted him for it. Kristof has also cited a book by Richard Burkhauser - but has failed to mention that the book was published by the far-right American Enterprise Institute, where Burkhauser is a resident scholar.

In March, Chana Joffe-Walt launched a series attacking SSI on NPR's Planet Money and All Things Considered. She grumbled about a "disability industrial complex" that lets people bilk the system - but she provided no evidence of such a swindle. Media Matters called the NPR story "error-riddled" and pointed out that disability examiners usually rely on 4 or 5 medical or school records to determine whether someone can collect disability.

At the time of that story, Planet Money had just inked an underwriting contract with Lincoln Financial - which sells private disability insurance. Lincoln Financial apparently wants SSI curtailed so people buy their product instead.

In April - apparently inspired by the NPR hit piece - the long-discredited Joe Klein of Time magazine bellyached about Social Security Disability Insurance. He called SSDI a "scam" that "has no work requirement." Klein's statement is an out-and-out lie. Most adults who get SSI have a long work history - but requirements for SSDI are tougher. Nobody is eligible for SSDI unless they've worked for years. SSDI is paid for entirely from workers' own contributions.

Other commentators have participated in this scapegoating too. Outrageously, all this goes on while the very rich often get away with never holding a job their whole lives - except in name only. They don't do any real work. They just inherit Daddy's money and accept a cool title. Then they live on the dole by accepting bailout money.

Do Nicholas Kristof, Chana Joffe-Walt, and Joe Klein really think that most people who collect disability aren't really disabled? If that's what they think, then where did they get their medical degrees that would entitle them to make such a diagnosis? Nobody gets SSI or SSDI without seeing a doctor - usually more than one doctor. Doctors make the diagnosis that decides who's disabled. Opinionated media loudmouths don't.

If a person collects disability, they've already seen a doctor. They didn't ask for the goofy opinions of media commentators who know absolutely nothing about disability. If you know nothing about disability, then shut your fucking mouth before you go off half-cocked about "those people" getting SSI. In my day, somebody would shut it for you.

One more point: School districts like to illegally exclude students because of some supposed disability - thus denying them their right to an education. When these kids reach adulthood, I think they have every damn right to collect disability by the truckload - especially since their economic prospects are limited because they were kept out of school. I frankly don't give a shit whether someone else thinks they're actually disabled, because the school using a disability as an excuse to exclude them should be evidence enough. You can't have it both ways by saying someone is too disabled to go to school but not disabled enough to collect SSI. If you think they shouldn't get SSI, then complain to the offending school systems so it doesn't happen in the next generation.

Since NPR is public, I'd like to see its propaganda war reined in. NPR is receiving taxpayer money through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to spread false stories against the disabled. This must end. I hope to see a law or an executive order to bar NPR from spreading misinformation like this.


Monday, June 3, 2013

Lautenberg was right

Sen. Frank Lautenberg - a New Jersey Democrat and the oldest member of the Senate - died today at the age of 89.

I was a critic of Lautenberg from the left, but he was right about some things. One of Lautenberg's best moments was in 2005 when he was one of few who called for an official investigation of the Bush regime's payoffs of columnists. In that Bush scandal - one of many - the White House used taxpayer funds to pay media commentators to promote Bush policies. The Bush regime paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher, and Michael McManus to spread right-wing propaganda.

The Democratic establishment should have listened to Frank Lautenberg when he called for a probe of this scandal. But that was "off the table", I hear.

Lautenberg was also a strong opponent of private school vouchers - an unconstitutional, wasteful, socially hazardous program adored by the Far Right and The Media. The "schools are factories" crowd that dominated the Republicans and infiltrated the Democrats sweated cannonballs every time a senator opposed this failed project.

This must be said every day for the foreseeable future: I'm well to the left of the Democratic establishment, but while the Democrats sometimes still have something of value to offer, the Republicans have utterly outlived their usefulness. Do you honestly think the party of Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and Ted Cruz can really fly in 2013? Anybody today who'd make any real effort to put the GOP in charge of anything is only making themselves look like fools.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Funny Republican campaign slogans

Now that the Republican Party has proven that they don't have a damn thing to offer that's of any value whatsoever, what are some fitting campaign slogans the party can use? Here's some ideas...

"Fighting yesterday's battles tomorrow."

"We'll do to the country what we've already done to the country."

"Because adulterers are fun."

"We're the elephant in the room."

"One more chance? Please???"

"Number one in people freezin'."

"Because we say so."

"Building a bridge to the 12th century."

"Return to idiocy."

"No you won't."

"Keeping your kids safe from drugs by supporting Big Pharma."

"It's not fascism when we do it."

"Head for the mountains. It's Bush."

"We lie all the way to the bank."


"You deserve a fake today."

"Had enough? Too bad!"

"In your guts, you know we're nuts!"

"It's morning in America. So we woke you up with a jackhammer."

"Spill, baby, spill!"

"It only takes 5 Supreme Court Justices for us to win."

"Let's close the book on libraries."

"Ax the facts."

"Taxed Enough Already - which is why we support a national sales tax."

"Every king a king."

"Just for the waste of it."

"We sell no whine before its time."

Anyone else have any good GOP slogans?