Friday, April 29, 2011

Dr. Phillips High School Counter Protest Puts Extremist Christian Church To Shame

As The Midnight Review reported earlier, the extreme Christian organization, the Westboro Baptist Church, protested local Orlando school, Dr. Phillips High School.  Hundreds of counter-protesters showed up to the church's ten sign-holding members (including one ten-year-old), and later the school held a special assembly to discuss Friday's events. 

The church claimed the school was "infested" with homosexuals and targeted students, "brutish teachers," and "hateful parents."

It is still my belief that the members of the Westboro Baptist Church violated Florida's anti-bullying laws which state.

HB 669, also known as the “Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act,” prohibits bullying and harassment “of any student or school employee of a public K-12 educational institution.”
Bullying may involve teasing, social exclusion, intimidation, or public humiliation.

Harassment means any threatening, insulting, or dehumanizing gesture, including written, verbal, or physical conduct directed against a student or school employee that places a student or school employee in reasonable fear of harm, as well as substantially disrupting the orderly operation of a school.

Considering the church targeted students and teachers with offensive slogans and that the protest attracted hundreds of counter-protesters, causing the school to change its schedule in order deal with the extremist church, I would say the actions of those ten protesters fall under the definition of HB 669 and they should be held accountable.

Contact your area's local officials to push for action against this organization that has decided to ignore Florida law in order to spread their hate.

Email links for the following:

U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster 

State Rep. Eric Eisnaugle 

Sen. Marco Rubio

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Nikki Haley Attacks Obama, National Labor Relations Board

Shouldn't Nikki Haley be more concerned about that Islamic crescent moon in the logo?!

In an op-ed piece for The Wall Street Journal, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley railed against President Obama and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), or more specifically, Obama's "silence" on the move from the federal agency in charge of investigating and remedying unfair labor practices.  The issue at hand involves a NLRB complaint alleging that Boeing wants to build its new 787 Dreamliner in North Charleston, S.C., instead of at its Puget Sound facility in Washington state in retaliation against the International Association of Machinists for strikes such as a two-month-long work stoppage in 2008 - something that appears to be a violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
In October 2009, Boeing, long one of the best corporations in America, made an announcement that changed the economic outlook of South Carolina forever: The company's second line of 787 Dreamliners would be produced in North Charleston.

In choosing to manufacture in my state, Boeing was exercising its right as a free enterprise in a free nation to conduct business wherever it believed would best serve both the bottom line and the employees of its company. This is not a novel or complicated idea. It's called capitalism.

Boeing has since poured billions of dollars into a new, state-of-the art facility in South Carolina's picturesque Low Country along the Atlantic coast. It has created thousands of good jobs and joined the long tradition of distinguished and employee-friendly corporations that have found a home, and a partner, in the Palmetto State.

This a win-win for South Carolina, for Boeing, and for the global clients who will see Dreamliners rolling off the North Charleston line at the rate of 10 a month, starting with the first one next year. But, as is often the case, a win for people and businesses is a loss for the labor unions, which rely on coercion, bullying and undue political influence to stay afloat.

South Carolina is a right-to-work state, and we're proud that within our borders workers cannot be required to join a labor union as a condition of employment. We don't need unions playing middlemen between our companies and our employees. We don't want them forcefully inserted into our promising business climate. And we will not stand for them intimidating South Carolinians.

That is apparently too much for President Obama and his union-beholden appointees at the National Labor Relations Board, who have asked the courts to intervene and force Boeing to stop production in South Carolina. The NLRB wants Boeing to produce the planes only in Washington state, where its workers must belong to the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
First, I want to address one of the arguments made by Haley, as well as other NLRB critics.

"I want to ask (President Obama) why he is allowing unelected bureaucrats to come in and do the unions' dirty work on the backs of our businesses," Haley had told National Review Online.

Haley calls the board members "unelected bureacrats."

This is deceptive.

The "unelected bureaucrats" are appointed by the president and elected by Senate confirmation hearings.  The NLRB chairman, Wilma B. Liebman, was appointed by not only President Bill Clinton, but by Republican President George W. Bush, too, and eventually reappointed by Obama.  Board members Brian Hayes and Mark G. Pearce were confirmed by the Senate, leaving only Craig Becker as the only appointee of Obama not to be confirmed - there is currently one vacancy.

The other argument is that the NLRB's move is political, and Obama is staying quiet to appease labor, which was a big supporter for the Democrats in the 2008 elections and as we have seen after the turmoil in Wisconsin, a target for Republicans.

Kenneth Yerkes, who chairs Barnes & Thornburg's labor and employment department, claims the president is using the agency because of roadblocks in Congress.

From an article by Shannon Green at
The complaint against Boeing "may be the biggest legal stretch so far," says Kenneth Yerkes, who chairs Barnes & Thornburg's labor and employment department. He says the Obama administration has failed to achieve its legislative agenda in Congress and is trying to make an end run around lawmakers. "He is now saying to organized labor, 'We'll get this done administratively,'" says Yerkes.

Labor offered a lot of support to Obama in 2008, and he'll need that support again, says Yerkes. "So this is as much a political issue as a legal one-if it is legal at all," he says.

Yerkes says that unions are trying to come up with every idea they can to make it difficult for companies to make business decisions that disadvantage unions and their ability to organize and sustain a dues-paying base.

"Unions are fighting vigorously to maintain their rights in the public sector because that's where their most significant growth has been and is going to be," says Yerkes. And in the private sector, he says unions are trying to use agencies to change the way existing laws are interpreted and applied. "This is an affirmative effort by the administration to create advantages for labor to hang onto its dues-paying base and expand that base," he says.
Critics also believe the move by the NLRB, and by proxy President Obama, is anti-competitive and anti-capitalist.  Haley wrote that "Boeing was exercising its right as a free enterprise in a free nation to conduct business wherever it believed would best serve both the bottom line and the employees of its company," which she called "capitalism," but she essentially ignores the possibility of any anti-labor activities taken by Boeing.

Investor's Business Daily similarly wrote in an editorial chastising the agency.
Boeing's move is not about retaliation. It's about remaining competitive in an increasingly competitive global market against Europe's Airbus and even possible Chinese competition down the road. Unable to get a no-strike pledge out of the IAM at Puget Sound, the "overriding factor," said Jim Albaugh, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, "was that we can't afford to have a work stoppage every three years."
They also thought the move by the NLRB was coincidently close to Obama's re-election bid announcement and the events that have transpired in Wisconsin.

If you ask me, it sounds as if Boeing's decision was in retaliation to the unions.  "We can't afford to have a work stoppage every three years" said Boeing's CEO - it is strange since the last strike for the company was much more then three years, and not to mention, the 2008 strike had to deal alot with what IBD claimed Boeing was trying to avoid.  Boeing had outsourced much of the construction of the 787 Dreamliner, with the wings built by Mitsubishi Corp. in Japan, its doors by Latecoere in France, and the fuselage sections manufactured by a joint venture with Italian Global Aeronautica in South Carolina (Boeing had since taken complete ownership of their Charleston operations).

Basically, this is not an issue of competitiveness but yet another assault on unions, which is why critics like Haley are coming out to vocalize support for Boeing.  Should Boeing win, it would be a win for conservatives who have been working tirelessly to dismantle unions across America.  Haley makes the argument that Boeing building the Dreamliner in South Carloina would be a "win-win" but Washington and South Carolina's unemployment and income disparity rates are comparable - Washington (ranked 33rd) experiences 9.2 percent unemployment to South Carolina's (ranked 42nd) 9.9 percent, and regarding income disparity, Washington has the 15th highest disparity to South Carolina's 29th, but even then, the top 5 percent and bottom 20 percent of families in Washington make more than those in South Carolina, so really, Nikki Haley can't talk about competitiveness when the competing state has similar or better labor statistics, and if you want to count stock performance, since the NLRB's complaint was filed in March of 2010, shares of Boeing had risen from $67.93 to $78.55 - roughly a 16% increase in one year, which is better then what those socialist government bonds are returning! 

Race Relations and The Republican Party

I just wanted to mention a couple articles that I found very telling regarding the Republican party and how many within that political group view minorities.

In an article by Randy Krehbiel for Tulsa World, Krehbiel pointed to comments recently made by state Rep. Sally Kern, in which Kern claimed the reason why black people don't succeed is because they don't work as hard as others.

"We have a high percentage of blacks in prison, and that’s tragic, but are they in prison just because they are black or because they don’t want to study as hard in school?" said Kern. "I’ve taught school, and I saw a lot of people of color who didn’t study hard because they said the government would take care of them."

The Oklahoma House of Representatives has approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would eliminate Affirmative Action in state government. To be clear, I oppose Affirmative Action, but not for the reasons stated by Kern.

Then there is this article from The Huffington Post, in which a Missouri politician discussed flooding an impoverished predominantly black community to save 130,000 acres of farmland.
Due to high rains, waters at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers are running dangerously high, and the mayor of Cairo, Illinois, located at the confluence, has asked residents to evacuate the town.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is considering a plan to destroy a levee, which would lower the floodwaters by a few feet and help protect Cairo. But the state of Missouri has vigorously objected to the plan, because it would badly damage around 130,000 acres of farmland, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Missouri's Republican House Speaker Steve Tilley was asked by reporters about the dilemma. "Would you rather have Missouri farmland flooded or Cairo underwater?" Tilley is asked.

Without hesitation, he replies, "Cairo. I’ve been there. Trust me. Cairo.”

As another reporter prepares to ask another question, Tilley goes on. “Have you been to Cairo? OK, then you know what I’m saying then.”

Cairo, Illinois (pronounced KAY-roh) was at the turn of the 20th century a bustling trade center. The 2,800-person town is now largely abandoned, two-thirds African-American, and deeply impoverished: nearly 50 percent of children under the age of 18 in Cairo live below the poverty level.
And finally, I wanted to point to a recent study by Public Policy Polling, in which it was revealed that nearly half of Mississippi's Republicans believe interracial marriage should be illegal.

Jon Terbush wrote the following for Talking Points Memo:
Americans nationwide are evenly divided over the issue of same sex marriage. But Republicans in Mississippi are divided over a wholly different wedlock issue: interracial marriage.

In a PPP poll released Thursday, a 46% plurality of registered Republican voters said they thought interracial marriage was not just wrong, but that it should be illegal. 40% said interracial marriage should be legal...

In February, a Gallup poll found that Mississippi was the most conservative state in the nation. In that survey, 50.0% of adults identified themselves as conservatives.

The PPP poll was conducted March 24-27 among 400 registered Republican voters. It has a margin of error of 4.9%.
This is just more evidence to prove the GOP is at least favored by racist-minded people (and definitely more evidence to prove systemic intolerance within the party then the "evidence" conservatives collected on popular targets like ACORN, NPR, and Planned Parenthood).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Daniel Webster (Alan Grayson's Replacement) Faces Angry Town Hall Over GOP Budget Plan

Central Florida voters voted out Democrat Alan Grayson last year for conservative Republican and tea party favorite Daniel Webster, so why are they now revolting against the right-wing legislator?

Apparently, voters are experiencing buyer's remorse with Webster since his vote in favor of the controversial budget plan that aims to privatize government programs like Medicare or Medicaid.

Republicans believe those upset with Webster were former Rep. Alan Grayson's "plants", as Blas Padrino insisted in his Examiner article.  "The anti-Webster group became more restrained after a police officer asked them to act like adults and quit interrupting."

But, as The Orlando Sentinel pointed out, the police officers addressed the entire room after a pro-Webster man yelled at Vietnam veteran Ron Parsell for asking why his benefits were going to be cut.

"We can't afford it, you moron!" the man yelled at Parsell.

"When the Grayson plants in the audience heckled, Webster shot back that it is under Obamacare that Medicare recipients would lose benefits, since the President’s plan removes $500 million from Medicare," wrote Padrino.  Padrino seems to take the conservative narrative from months ago - the one that painted the GOP as the defenders of Medicare, but we know any decreases in Medicare were to come mostly from efficiency measures and cuts to Medicare Advantage - a program that uses private insurers, such as Humana and UnitedHealth Group, to deliver Medicare benefits

From an article by Scott Keyes from Think Progress:
During a town hall in Orlando earlier today, Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) faced a barrage of questions from outraged constituents about the Republican budget. The Orlando Sentinel accurately described the scene as “bedlam.”

For nearly an hour, Webster was peppered with one question after another about his support for ending Medicare, his desire to see tax breaks for the wealthy extended, and his vote to repeal health care reform, including its protections for people with preexisting conditions. For his part, Webster didn’t just avoid the questions by resorting to talking points, as most politicians commonly do. On numerous occasions, Webster simply declined to give an answer to contentious questions altogether, moving on to take a new question instead.

Questions critical of the Ryan budget were met by applause from nearly the entire audience.

Webster is the latest congressman to face a town hall backlash after his vote in favor of Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget plan. Provisions of the Republican budget, which ends Medicare, slashes Medicaid, and extends tax breaks for the wealthy, is opposed by strong majorities of Americans, including over 7 in 10 Republican voters as well.
Webster also defended the extension of the Bush tax cuts, stating that even if they were taxed at 100 percent of gross income, it wouldn't make a dent in the deficit, which is a big lie, and if extending the Bush tax cuts weren't enough, the Ryan plan proposed tax reforms that lower corporate and upper-income tax rates.

While voters should have expected this kind of action from Webster, this is very telling as to what will happen in the coming months - especially during next year's campaigns.  Of course, this wouldn't have been an issue had the Democrats elliminated the Bush tax cuts in the first place.  It would have been difficult for Republicans to complain about reducing the deficit when the Democrats already had.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Rick Scott Seeks To Ignore EPA Regulations

What a shocker.  On Earth Day, Rick Scott has sent a petition to the Environmental Protection Agency asking the federal government to rescind its water pollution guidelines for the state.

Janet Zink wrote the following for The Miami Herald:
The day after the Florida House passed a bill to ban implementation of water quality standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Administration, Gov. Rick Scott on Friday asked the agency to rescind a January 2009 determination that the federal rules are necessary for Florida.

Opponents of the federal requirement say the state is better equipped to decide how best to comply with the federal Clean Water Act, which is intended to manage nitrogen and phosphorous pollution of lakes, rivers, streams and bays. They say the EPA standards will be costly to implement, don’t address specific conditions of local waterways and provide little biological benefit.

According to Scott’s office, the petition sent to the EPA details eight pollution control measures already in place Florida that mirror EPA recommendations for effective water pollution control.

“Florida is one of the few states that has a comprehensive program in place to address excess nutrients, and we continue to lead the nation in developing innovative tools to ensure the health of our state’s waterways,” Scott said in a prepared statement. “I look forward to working with the EPA to reach an agreement that will promote clean water standards in the way that makes the most sense for our state.”

The U.S. EPA released pollution standards for Florida waterways in December 2010 as part of a 2009 legal settlement with environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, who sued the agency for not enforcing the Clean Water Act in Florida.

The EPA told all states in 1998 to set limits on nitrogen and phosphorous pollution, and warned it would do it for them if no action was taken by 2004. But 2004 passed with no action. Hence the lawsuit.
So lets see - Rick Scott claims Florida can take care of its waterways and doesn't need the regulations that were brought upon the state because Florida didn't take care of its waterways.  Scott and opponents claim the "EPA standards will be costly to implement, don’t address specific conditions of local waterways and provide little biological benefit," but according to environmentalists, the Clean Water Act has had a positive impact on the state, which is still in desperate need of improvement.  The argument against federal intervention does not make sense. being that EPA Regional Administrator Gwen Keyes-Fleming stated the regulations would be common-sense, flexible, and site-specific - not the blanket coverage opponents make it sound to be.

What is even more troubling is that in the Florida legislature, Republicans (and twelve Democrats) voted to ignore EPA regulations.  Ignoring EPA regulations is what caused Florida to lose the lawsuit regarding the Clean Water Act in the first place.  Also, why would anyone trust Rick Scott over environmental issues when he proposed extensive cuts to restoring the Everglades.  The funding, once $200 million annually under Governor Jeb Bush, would be cut to a meager $17 million, and who knows where it would go from there.

If you really want to know where these policy suggestions are coming from, don't look to the people of Florida.  Instead, look for the representative of some business interest standing beside Rick Scott whispering in his ear...

Oh and here is a thought - people like Scott insist the EPA is overstepping bounderies, but they fail to acknowledge that the Everglades is a National Park and is designated a World Heritage Site, International Biosphere Reserve, and Wetland of International Importance.  Not only that, but the wetlands extand as far north as Orlando - halfway up the state.  To ignore an ecological system that encompasses such a large portion of the state because of fears that it will hurt citrus growers and industry is irresponsible, and considering Florida's number one industry is tourism, one would think clean waterways would be a boon for business interests.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Charlie Sheen's Violent Torpedo Of Truth Hit Tampa

"You know you're at a Charlie Sheen show when it's Good Friday and there's nudity." - Charlie Sheen
The Midnight Review was front and center for Charlie Sheen's ongoing Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat Is Not An Option tour that reached Tampa Bay, Florida Friday night, albeit about 45 minutes late.

Charlie Sheen entered the St. Petersburg Times Forum after the eight o'clock start time to a stadium of cheers.  There were some empty seats in the house - stadium officials put the number at around 1,839 for a space formatted to hold about 3,000, but it seemed a majority of the empty seats were in the upper balcony.  Anyway, Sheen acknowledged the audience as he descended the stairs and made his way towards the stage where a guitarist, Filter's Rob Patterson, was playing to a film montage.  Patterson would later add incidental music to the program.

Charlie took the stage and the audience went wild.  He spoke breifly thanking Tampa Bay, turning around the teleprompters and telling the audience that he was told they make the show look too rehearsed.  Shortly afterwards he called local radio DJ Mike "Cowhead" Calta for an interview on stage, where he was going to ask Charlie questions he had never been asked before, like if the star still masterbated despite being surrounded by "goddesses," to which he responded "Why wouldn't I?"

Unfortunately, Calta lost control of the stage.  Hecklers in the audience started to yell out, with one persistent man yelling "Fuck You" to Charlie, which prompted Cowhead to send Chuck Zito's security detail into the stands.  Another heckler claimed Sheen was "all talk" and that he should "bang a 7g rock on stage" to prove himself.  In both of these instances the rest of the audience shouted them down, but things didn't stop there.  Another attendee noticed Cowhead was wearing a New York Yankees shirt, which is a big no-no when you take stage in a town home to another baseball team!  Cowhead derailed his interview some more when he yelled at a woman on the floor for constantly standing up (which prompted Sheen to come to her defense), and then inviting Amy Mariani, finalist of a contest designed to find Charlie Sheen a new intern, on stage so she can meet her potential future boss.  That didn't end well - she fumbled taking pictures with her cell phone and talked about how she will use social networking to help the star out - considering Sheen got four million Twitter followers almost overnight, I would say he probably has that under control.

Sheen then invited his "goddess," Natalie Kenly, on stage, where they proceeded to throw t-shirts and bags to the floor crowd, which seemed to detract from the overall show because it focues on such a small portion of the audience.

Luckily, the night was saved when comedien Jeffery Ross took the stage to give an impromptu roast of Charlie Sheen.  He had a podium brought out where he proceeded to read his scorching jokes, like telling Charlie his career was drowning faster than a "whale trainer from Sea World" - a reference to a trainer who was killed last year during a show at the Orlando theme park.  This went on for some time and it was great fun, but that didn't last too long.  After the roast, Ross called for a Q&A segment from the audience, and this is where things got ugly.

Ten fans were called onto stage - most coming from the floor seats - and instead of asking questions, they got extremely creepy around Charlie Sheen, and the audience was not happy, which Charlie again apologized for.  One woman wanted a "back hug," where she would basically grind up on Charlie.  Her friend then begged for Charlie to bring out his goddess and when her refused, she called Ross a "wanna-be Carrot Top" and stormed off stage.  Another older lady, who appeared to be drunk, claimed she would be a great intern.  

There was also one man, claiming to be a former WCW wrestler, who praised Charlie and asked him how many cars he owns, and then there was a local Tampa mortgage broker who used the opportunity to promote his website and then gave a glowing speech about Charlie, eventually asking him how it felt to say pretty much anything he wanted, in which Charlie responded "fucking awesome."  He then asked Charlie Sheen for his ashtray, and when Charlie refused stating they were on sale at the stands out front, the guy pleaded and offered to trade the one he already bought.

There was a woman who told Charlie he should have won the Oscar for Wall Street, and it seemed she had a promising question, but that was a flop: What would have happened differently had he won that Oscar.  Charlie stated he would not know and that the only different thing would be still be him, just with an Oscar.  She then seemed to give a personal account of how her son was in the financial sector and had the movie garnered the award, it might have saved her son, or something along those lines.

The last two questioners were not bad and somewhat well received by the audience.  One guy, wearing a Sheen/Ross for president t-shirt, who surprisingly worked at a sign shop but who wasn't a "douche bag" to name his own company like the mortgage broker guy, asked if Charlie was elected president, would he come back and use his employee discount so the audience could buy beers for less than nine dollars from the concessions stands, and the last question, a young lady who stated teaching was her profession, claimed she was qualified to be a goddess because she lacked a "gag reflex" - not surprisingly, the crowd loved that answer.

It seriously looked as if Charlie Sheen was a little creeped out by some of those who came up on stage.  Chuck Zito even came up to the front with Ross and Sheen when things headed south, but I think Sheen should have expected it (and cut the segment altogether).  They pulled people from the crazy pool - a bunch of desperate people who paid good money to sit close to the stage in a chance to creep on a celebrity, and my wife made an excellent point in the car ride home - if you can creep out Charlie Sheen, there must be something seriously wrong with you!

For full disclosure, I got my great seats when I realized Ticketmaster randomized seat locations.  I just opened up several windows and reloaded until I got a seat closer to the front - I didn't want to spend a hundred bucks sitting in the back, especially when my eyesight isn't the best (I do need new glasses), and while most people attended this show to witness a "train wreck," I had gone because Charlie Sheen had turned into a popular culture phenomenon.  Here is a man who was fired from the top rated television program and instead of moving on to the next project, he went on a media blitz spouting nonsense that quickly caught on with the public.  I wanted to witness firsthand not a "train wreck," but the story that had took headlines hostage for weeks.

Charlie Sheen closed the program with a speech about why he went on tour in the first place - to get his job back.  They couldn't take away his "magic brain" or "titanium heart," and they definitely couldn't take away his fans, and in a twist, brought out Dirt Nasty on stage to perform his favorite song - "1980."

Overall, I think the atmosphere was positive.  Sheen was funny and delivered what he promised - himself, just too bad there wasn't more of him.  The only thing that created any hiccups during the night was the audience - there were some who for some reason would have rather seen the night end in complete failure.  Had Sheen shortened the audience interaction segments and lenghtened other aspects of the show, it would have been great.  Ross was also a great addition to the show.

In the end, one thing was apparent - Charlie Sheen was winning.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Will Westboro Baptist Church Protest Violate Florida's Anti-Bullying Law?

Do these protests fall under the definition of HB 669?

Hot off their legal victory, the Westboro Baptist Christian cult has decided to go on and continue exercising their right to hate, but one location in their upcoming schedule stood out from the rest, and that is because it is a school, and not only any school, but my school.

That’s right. These vile religious extremists are protesting my old stomping grounds, Dr. Phillips High School, in Orlando, Florida on April 29.

Why are these crazies picketing a school of all places?

According to their website, it is to remind America that “these high school students act like hellbound beasts because they have been raised to believe God is a liar.” They even go on to call the students, teachers, the parents, and their preachers “pathetic.”

While they may have won their right to spew hatred from the sidelines of funerals, it is my belief that these freaks are violating Florida’s anti-bullying laws.

HB 669, also known as the “Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act,” prohibits bullying and harassment “of any student or school employee of a public K-12 educational institution.”
Bullying may involve teasing, social exclusion, intimidation, or public humiliation.

Harassment means any threatening, insulting, or dehumanizing gesture, including written, verbal, or physical conduct directed against a student or school employee that places a student or school employee in reasonable fear of harm, as well as substantially disrupting the orderly operation of a school.

If you ask me, having a extremist Christian church chant derogatory terms directed towards students while they head to school would constitute as bullying and harassment, per the statutory definition, and should this church show up ready to protest, they should be arrested for directing their hate towards America’s youth, violating Florida law in the process.

Let’s see if Orlando’s elected officials will do anything to protect our students from this cult. Contact them today! 

Email links for the following:

U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster 

State Rep. Eric Eisnaugle 

Sen. Marco Rubio

Glenn Beck Lies About Piss Christ Attack

Here is something interesting - Glenn Beck either lied or just failed to read the details regarding a story he mentioned on his recently canceled Fox News program.  During his nightly broadcast, Glenn Beck claimed the controversial photograp called "Piss Christ," featuring a crucifix submerged in urine,  was attacked by anti- Christian activists targeting religious artwork.

Simon Maloy wrote the following for Media Matters:
A running theme of Glenn Beck's recently canceled Fox News show has been outrage over the supposed lack of attention paid to persecution of Christians at home and abroad. He hit on that theme last night, asking us if we'd heard that "four people from an anti-Christian group attacked two pieces of religious artwork in France" on Palm Sunday...

The defacement of art is a horrible thing and the offending parties should be punished to the extent that French law allows. However, the vandals are reportedly Christian fundamentalists, not "anti-Christian" activists, as Beck claimed. 
That's right.

Glenn Beck tried to make it look like Christians were being persecuted abroad when in reality, it was Christians who acted out.  Right-wingers like Beck would want you to believe only Muslims engage in violent actions against "blasphemous" artwork, but it appears Christianity has it's extremists too.

No wonder his program was canceled...

Conservative Organization Makes Online Attack Against Obama Townhall

In an early social media skirmish in the 2012 campaign, a conservative political group claims to have forced Facebook to temporarily shut down the event page for President Obama's online town hall meeting after steering hundreds of negative comments to the site.

ForAmerica, a group that sprung up online during the debate over Obama's health care reform law, urged its nearly 1 million Facebook fans to swarm the landing page Facebook was using to collect questions to pose to him at Wednesday afternoon's live forum. They suggested users post the same message, criticizing him for adding $3.5 trillion to the national event and saying, "The first thing we should do is repeal Obamacare."

According to a screen shot provided by the group, the deluge led to the page being listed at one point as "unavailable." A spokesman said it was down for 40 minutes, and that when it returned users could only post comments on the wall if they indicated they would "attend" the town hall first.

"We are only beginning to see the untapped power of this growing, formidable online army," Brent Bozell, chairman of ForAmerica, said in a statement.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

WFTV Gets The Facts Wrong About Sand Lake Hills HOA Lawsuit!

Updated April 18th, 2011!

It appears WFTV has removed the article mentioned in this post from their website - probably due to the numerous factual errors pointed out on this page and the negative reaction the article got from commenters who were familiar with the situation or who had done a bit more research than the author.  The article in its entirety can still be found below and I encourage you to read on... 


I have written numerous times about the goings-on in Orlando neighborhood Sand Lake Hills for quite some time because of the blatant ignorance of the law the alleged homeowners association had and their sheer arrogance in dealing with the homeowners of the surrounding neighborhood.  If you aren't familiar with the situation, I can sum it up rather quickly:

The homeowners association was claiming to be the ruling authority over the surrounding subdivisions that shared a common name (Sand Lake Hills) and a few years the association rewrote the covenants and restrictions to give them limitless power, such as collecting any amount of money they want from every homeowner (not just the membership) at any time the board chooses, without homeowner approval.  There were also several other things the association did wrong, like violate their articles of incorporation, ignore the original covenants and restrictions, lie and misuse a county grant, illegally utilize software licensed under defense contractor Lockheed Martin, and improperly notarize hundreds of joinder and consent forms approving their rule changes.

Here is a colorful image of the neighborhood showing the various subdivisions:

Here is another image taken from the county's Geographic Information System showing there is no HOA over the other Sand Lake Hills subdivisions:

As I had reported on March 24th, a ruling by a judge determined the HOA was illegal, acting without authority.

Now that you are caught up, I wanted to point to a local news story from WFTV Channel 9, in which the report gets some facts wrong and makes the same mistakes the homeownership had made over the past few years while the association was being sued.

Here is the article, with my commentary in red italics to indicate just where the story goes wrong:
An Orange County homeowner is taking on his neighbors. Jeff Busch is suing his entire neighborhood over an alleged illegal homeowner's association.

There really is no reason to question the legality of the association in question. According to the ruling, the association had no authority to enforce the covenants and restrictions.

The judge continues that even if the plaintiff was a member at the time the association filed their claims to the surrounding subdivisions, they improperly filed documents with the courts, only notifying membership, not the every affected property owner.

"I was right, they were wrong," Busch said.

Busch said his neighbors were trying to force him to pay HOA dues against his will. So he's now suing 90 people in the Sand Lake Hills community off of Dr. Phillips Boulevard.

The author of this article should get their facts straight.  Above they state the Busch is suing 90 people but in the next paragraph, they state "99 homeowners."  Also, Busch is correct - since the HOA was deemed to not be the legal HOA over Busch's property, and being that the 99 individual homeowners signed documents granting the Sand Lake Hills association authority over every property, they were in effect liable.

Busch put a sign on his garage stating he should have property rights and there should not be an HOA. He's been fighting with the Sand Lake Hills homeowners association since 2008. He sued the HOA and 99 homeowners because he claims the HOA was formed illegally.

Again, as the judge recently ruled, the HOA was formed illegally.

Each homeowner is supposed to agree to form an HOA, but he says that did not happen.

During the hearing in front of the judge, the association's lawyer, Frank A. Ruggieri from the most awesome law firm in Orlando, Larsen and Associates, admitted that the HOA had zero records showing each homeowner agreed to form an association, so it is not a matter of what Busch says, rather, it is a matter of fact.

"This is property rights. How can they come on my property and assess me for anything they want?"

The homes were built more than 30 years ago, and in the past, the HOA was voluntary. Homeowners donated money to the association to maintain common areas.

Again, during the legal proceedings, the association's attorney admitted that there were no "common areas."  The location showed in WFTV's report is actually maintained by a county tax, not the HOA.  The donated money the HOA collected went towards a police patrol of the neighborhood, legal fees, printing and postage of a newsletter, and in recent years, water and electrical bills for the associations pet projects.  Even the wall the HOA claims credit for was built using a Municipal Service Benefit Unit - an assessment levied by the county and added onto the yearly tax bill of every homeowner.

Here is an excerpt from the association's board meeting minutes:

Jerry Rarden supports a mandatory association and says its only costs $100 a year.

Jerry Rarden, presumably another resident of Sand Lake Hills, seems to have fallen for the false narrative set up by the HOA.  No where is the $100 cost set in stone.  According to the Amended and Restated Covenants and Restrictions and By-Laws, which have since been removed from the association's website, assessments "can be increased or decreased from time to time pursuant to the approval of a majority of Directors of the Board of Directors."  

Again, nowhere is the $100 figure ever mentioned.  This is something the HOA has been telling the neighborhood for years.

"I think it's a frivolous lawsuit," said Rarden.

Busch says that's not the point, and a judge recently agreed. The neighborhood was built in sections and she said Section 2 HOA was not authorized to enforce use restrictions in Section 3 after 1985.

This sentence pretty much discredits the entire article.  The author of this piece talks about allegations and accusations but in the above sentence they actually state a 100 percent true fact - the judged ruled against the HOA and stated the HOA "was not authorized to enforce use restrictions in Section 3 after 1985."

Busch claims the title of his property is also muddied. He's says the HOA is not allowed to put a lien on his property, but he also has to fight it out in court.

"They have dumped trash on Busch's title to their property. Now they have to come to figure out who has to pay," said Busch's attorney, Fred O'Neal

An HOA board member says a judge dismissed the suit against the individual homeowners, but Busch says he intends to sue all of his neighbors for his legal bills. He says he has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The HOA is delusional.  

The dismissed suit the anonymous board member referenced was a pre-trial decision, and the judge made the ruling because the HOA's attorney delayed dissemination of the necessary information.

"[Evidence] was not available to us when we went before the judge because it was delayed by the HOA attorneys even though it was ordered to be given to us by the courts," wrote Busch on his website. "When the HOA attorneys went before the judge to have you dismissed from the case they conveniently didn't mention it."    

The evidence he refers to are excerpts from the judge's ruling, where he dismisses the complaint against the homeowners because they were simply signing a consent form from the association, which is contrary to meeting minutes where the board of directors claim the changes are not an "association amendment," but an "owner amendment," meaning the association is claiming the homeowners are the ones liable for the changes.
Also, just three days ago, they updated their website claiming they are "still alive" and that the ruling (the one above mentioned ruling that stated they lacked any authority to act as the HOA over the other sections) "was specific to one property in SLH." 

WFTV spoke with another HOA attorney not related to the case. He said most likely individuals homeowners would not be responsible for legal feels, only the association.

My experience with HOA attorneys and this particular matter resulted in numerous similar statements.  Because of the complexity of the case, most lawyers looked at the most simplistic aspects of the case: "Man upset with HOA.  Man sues HOA.  Man sues members of HOA."

Based on the basic information presented, of course the lawyer would believe the homeowners will most likely not be responsible for any legal fees.  As a reminder, remember that the judge ruled the HOA was indeed not the ruling HOA - the association even admitted in court that it is not a HOA, but a corporation.  Why would a person signing a consent form to allow a corporation rights over another person's property be free from any consequences?
Basically, this report operated under the assumptions that led to this three-year-old court case (they did the same thing a couple years ago when they first reported on the lawsuit).  Without proper research of facts, the author of this article, like resident Rarden, believed it was a dispute over a hundred dollar annual due and that the legality of the organization was in question, but as the courts have ruled - Sand Lake Hills has no HOA.

Now if only someone could tell the "HOA" that...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Continuing Facebook Courtroom Drama - The Winklevoss Decision and Ceglia's "New" Evidence

Two news stories involving Facebook and founder Mark Zuckerburg have reacently made headlines - one involving Zuckerburg stealing the idea from two funny-named Harvard twins and the other regarding a person (Paul Ceglia) claiming a 50 percent ownership in the company that has been ignored for years.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a previous ruling on Monday that denied a request from the Winklevoss twins (Cameron and Tyler), along with Divya Narendra, preventing the three from backing out of a settlement previous reached with the corporation a few years ago. 

Now that the Winklevoss' are out of the equation, Ceglia, a New York businessman, has reared his head with new evidence proving his claims that he is part owner of the multi-billion dollar company, presenting numerous emails showing a correspondance with Zuckerburg, in which Zuckerburg acknowledged a deal had been made granting Ceglia a 50 percent stake.  Facebook insists the emails are fraudulent.

Some may question why Ceglia never presented these emails earlier and why now he comes out with them.

Here is a different take on the latter case and why the Winklevoss case is related to Ceglia's claims:

Perhaps Ceglia was waiting for an outcome on the Winklevoss appeal - with the courts ruling against them and any possible future claim they may have against Facebook, Ceglia was now free to present his evidence against the company.  Had the courts ruled against Facebook, Ceglia may have had to faced reduced ownership in the company, sharing with the Winklevoss twins and Narendra, or worse, had the courts ruled Facebook was stolen, Ceglia could have faced getting half of nothing, which would be nothing.  Now that the other Zuckerburg challengers are out of the question, there is a bigger piece of the pie left over for Ceglia.

Florida Legislators Try Step-By-Step Criminalization Of Abortion, Stifle Opposing Views

It's no secret that conservatives have a thing for abortion, or should I say thing for imposing their religious beliefs on everyone else. Floridian conservatives are no exception. All branches of the state government are controlled by Republicans and since the tea party helped Republicans clinch elections last year, the state's conservative legislators have made an unprecedented assault on reproductive rights. As the Orlando Weekly pointed out a couple of weeks ago, there are eighteen bills in the House and Senate that target reproductive rights.

Billy Manes summed them all up (my opinions will be colored in either green (for) or red (against), along with a brief explanation):
HB 97/SB 1414 - Health Insurance - Against

State Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach, and State Sen. Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville, are attempting to make clear that there's absolutely no gray area on an issue where the gray area has already been taken care of. These conjoined bills basically restate the Hyde Amendment, a federal legislative provision barring public funding for abortion procedures, but do so by attaching a caveat that no insurance plans resulting from the insurance exchanges created by the federal Affordable Care Act will cover elective abortions. The trouble is in the fine print: cases of rape, incest or life-threatening conditions for the mother may be exempt, but make no mistake - the bill is an attempt to codify limits on abortion by not including non-life-threatening cases for the mother or fetal injury. If there were any doubt of its intent, just ask the bill's author. "Today we struck a blow for the pro-life movement," Gaetz cheered when the bill passed through a committee on March 16, according to The Florida Independent.

For the reasons stated above I disagree with this legislation. While abortion is legal, legislators are attempting a backdoor criminalization of abortion as a means to advance their religious agenda and the victims are the women who do fall under the "gray area" classification.

HJR 1179/SJR 1538 - Abortion/Public Funding/Construction of Rights - Against

As if to further the same argument, only on a constitutional level, State Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, and State Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, are seeking to place an amendment on next November's ballot forbidding any public funding of abortion "except as required by federal law to save the life of the mother." Even if the federal law were to be interpreted to allow abortion coverage in cases or rape or incest - as the Hyde Amendment does - this constitutional amendment would supercede that federal law, meaning that in addition to further restricting Medicaid coverage of abortion, any public employee with a state insurance plan will have no option for abortion coverage. The state is reducing your federal rights.

While we are at it, any person who claims a medical expense on their tax return should be barred abortion coverage, because after all, that money may or may not end up in the coffers of an abortion mill - this being the argument conservatives have against Planned Parenthood, so why not just expand it to cover everything.

HB 1397/SB1748 - Abortions - Against

While the rest of the state undoes its belt and enjoys the fruits of Gov. Rick Scott's deregulation manifesto, State Rep. Rachel Burgin, R-Riverview, and State Sen. Flores have set forth a complicated rubric for abortion providers that surpasses standard reasoning. Planned Parenthood is calling the bill Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or "TRAP." Clinics must advertise that they can't perform third-trimester abortions, practicing physicians will be required to attend three-hour ethics classes and improper disposal of "fetal remains" is a first-degree misdemeanor (up from second degree). The bill goes on to expressly forbid doctors from telling a pregnant patient not to take certain medication, as it might cause a miscarriage, because said patient could then take that medication and have a miscarriage - and it would be the doctor's fault. Also, all abortions performed would have to be reported to the governor and the leader of each legislative body.

During the countless debates and media coverage regarding the health reform bill, we heard numerous conservatives cry about government "death panels," but because this is an issue close to Republican hearts, government injecting itself in between a doctor and a patient is okay.

HB 1127/SB 1744 - Abortions - Against

Even though this exact legislation was vetoed last year by political balance-beam walker Charlie Crist, State Rep. Elizabeth Porter, R-Lake City, and State Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Brandon, are once again trying to force women in their first trimester (or any trimester) to view an ultrasound of their fetuses prior to an abortion procedure, or at least sign a waiver saying that they refuse to look at it. What's more, the ultrasound must be performed by the same doctor who will perform the abortion and said doctor is required to explain the various stages of fetal development to the woman in detail. None of this is free, mind.

Again, this is another Republican "death panel," and mind you this one isn't free - all the costs will become the financial burden on the patient, and seeing conservatives want to restrict insurance coverage for abortions, all this will undoubtedly become out-of-pocket expenses for the patient, which conservatives probably intended to act as a disincentive. This bill also fails to consider the emotional trauma one may feel from the abortion process - especially if they are a victim of rape or incest - and while the bill excludes rape or incest victims from being required to see the ultrasound, the patient would still have to prove they are a victim. Should they be the ones put on trial?

HB 1247/SB 1770 - 
Parental Notice of Abortion - For

Again, this law already exists, except State Rep. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, and State Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, don't think its limitations are strong enough. Florida already requires a 48-hour waiting period for parental notification in the case of minors attempting to get abortions, but this bill gives the court three days (up from two) to deliberate on whether to afford a minor a waiver to proceed with her abortion without going through the motions. The "overall intelligence" and "ability to accept responsibility" of the minor will be determined by the court, worryingly.

I see nothing wrong with extending the waiting period. Although I discourage court interventions in favor of parental consideration - I think that there should be additional time given to encourage parental involvement.

HB 321/SB 1948 - 
"Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act" - Against

Florida wants to be just like Nebraska, where fetuses beyond 20 weeks of gestation are considered capable of feeling pain, and therefore unlawful to abort. State Rep. Carlos Trujillo, R-Miami, has teamed up with State Sen. Storms to make Florida hurt, too. Here's the clincher: Written into the proposed law are possible procedures for patients to take the abortion doctors to court for civil damages, procedures that include clearing the courtroom for the sake of anonymity of the "victim" (the prospective mother). Ergo, abortion doctors are criminals. The deeper implication is that Florida women, like Danielle Deaver of Nebraska who recently found out that her fetus was not viable at 22 weeks and still had to carry it to natural birth, will be similarly, mortifyingly stuck.

The case of Danielle Deaver is exactly the reason this law is bad - this law is yet another instance of the government determining the necessity of medical procedures.

HB 501/SB 196 - Choose Life License Plates - For

A disturbing red herring, this one. Since Florida became the first of 26 states to approve specialty Choose Life license plates in 1999 - raising more than $12 million for the truth-challenged realm of crisis pregnancy centers in Florida - the money has been circulated through county offices. This bill, spearheaded by State Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, and State Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, would instead push the revenues through a single company, Choose Life Inc., a vague Ocala nonprofit 
that, according to tax records, handled only 
$12,000 in revenues in 2009. Fasano's apparent intent was to remove the 70-30 percent cap from the statute (30 percent was previously marked for adoption-related counseling, advertising and marketing) so that more pregnant women could be assisted - or so there would be fewer limits on how the money could be spent. We'll see if legislators actually listened, or if the money will go to expanding the Choose Life campaign nationwide.

I have no problem with these license plates, but I think there should be a restriction - funds raised through the program cannot go towards religious organizations or organizations that espouse a religious-inspired pro-life message.

HB 747/SB 1760 - Infants Born Alive - For/Against

A reactionary - and repeat - effort to ensure that fetuses (or "babies") that survive abortion procedures are properly cared for by health care professionals. State Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, and State Sen. Stephen Wise, R-Jacksonville, are pushing the plan following headlines of botched abortions in Pennsylvania and Hialeah.

I think as long as this law applies to fetuses that survive an abortion procedure and are born. I do not think this bill should apply should a fetus survive an abortion procedure but its survival would depend care from health care professionals - again, this would be placing the government in between the medical decisions of the doctor and patient and would force a particular ideology (and new, ongoing trauma) on the patient.

SB 1094 - 
Offenses Against Unborn Children - Against

Without a matching House component, this Fasano bill does little more than raise the heat on an already tempestuous issue: fetal personhood. Under the bill, Fasano would like to see the already offensive "viable fetus" terminology utilized in accepted Florida vehicular homicide statutes altered to read to "unborn child." It may have no legislative bearing, but its point is clear: Women matter less than the fetuses they carry.

I see no need in reclassifying a "viable fetus" as an "unborn child."

HB 415 - Abortion - Against

It wouldn't be a legislative session without the cosmic reappearance of grandstanding State Rep. Charles Van Zant, R-Keystone Heights, and his epic omnibus attempt to make Florida the leader in the unavoidable federal lawsuit to overturn Roe v. Wade. In 54 lengthy pages, Van Zant makes his futile case, steamrolling over statutes with wild-eyed abandon. It's the inevitable Hail Mary of every spring in Tallahassee, the statement of all statements. Thankfully, it hasn't received enough traction to become a logical reality. At least not yet.
If that's not enough, Republican leadership are now trying to stifle debate on the matter as demonstrated by actions by the Speaker of the Florida House, Dean Cannon, where Cannon warned Rep. Scott Randolph for using the word "uterus" on the House floor.

Randolph responded to constituents in an email:

"This is especially outrageous considering that this year alone, the Florida House has proposed 18 anti-choice bills," wrote Randolph.  "Speaker Cannon wants to restrict what women can do with their bodies, but he doesn't want to talk about it."

Subsequently, Randolph created a petition so that Floridians can let Speaker Cannon know that "uterus" is not a dirty word.

You can sign the petition here.

On top of that, Republicans are now trying to claim a Democratic lawmaker's "Birth Control Matters Day" is too controversial to even recognize.  Rep. Evan Jenne of Dania Beach proposed the House resolution to acknowledge the importance birth control holds and how it can contribute to reducing Medicaid costs.  Republican Rep. Gary Aubuchon of Cape Coral, who serves as rules chairman, rejected the language, with his staff stating resolutions "should not contain controversial policy statements."

This is interesting considering Aubuchon voted for pretty much every anti-abortion measure including the one requiring women to pay for ultrasounds before obtaining an abortion, and if you ask me, that bill was extremely controversial.  That law also prohibits the federal government from compelling a person to purchase health insurance - the authority to make such decisions the state government lacks - and restricts women and small businesses who receive tax credits from purchasing health insurance.

Because of Florida's gerrymandered districts granting Republicans complete control over government, including a tea party-backed governor to rubber stamp any and all right-wing initiative, Florida will surely experience more assaults on not only woment, but on established law and the separation of church and state.

Monday, April 11, 2011 Attacks Bernie Sanders Over "Made In America" Souvenirs!

I recently saw a post on Big Government's website by regarding Bernie Sanders, in which the Vermont independent wanted the Smithsonian Institute to only sell souvenirs made in America.
In the midst of a massive fiscal crisis, a take-no-prisoners budget battle, a historically long recession, and two (make that three) wars, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) knows what really matters.

He’s pushing the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. to only sell bobble-heads, T-shirts, snow-globes, and other souvenirs that are made in America. After getting a letter from and taking a meeting with the self-described Green Mountain State socialist, the folks at the Smithsonian have agreed to increase the amount of domestically produced junk for sale in their gift shops. They’re even constructing a new gift shop solely to products manufactured in America that will be called the Price of Freedom.

During a recent trip to the National Mall, found that such nativist grandstanding plays well with the man in the street, but CATO policy analyst Sallie James says protectionism doesn’t come cheap. In fact, top-down attempts to keep Americans in low-level manufacturing jobs is a great way to ruin the economy, whether we’re talking about Founding Father thimbles or higher-end electronics.
I couldn't believe my eyes.  Big Government and were actually advocating against American manufacturers because protectionist actions are damaging to the economy.  This is interesting because of all the fear-mongering the right is guilty of - they constantly try to scare the "man in the street" into thinking China, or really any foreign nation, is out to take our jobs.

For example, there was this story, where the author Kerri Toloczko complains that the government should do something about China's illegal trade practices - those very same practices that make those super-cheap souvenirs in the Smithsonian's gift shop.

Bernie Sanders is an enemy of conservatives and the right will try to find any way to ridicule the man - especially if he uses one of their talking points...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Republicans Vote To Repeal Net Neutrality

From an article found on The Huffington Post:
House Republicans adamant that the government keep its hands off the Internet passed a bill Friday to repeal federal rules barring Internet service providers from blocking or interfering with traffic on their networks.

Republicans, in voting to repeal rules on "network neutrality" set down by the Federal Communications Commission, said the FCC lacked the authority to promulgate the rules. They disputed the need to intervene in an already open Internet and warned that the rules would stifle investment in broadband systems.

"The FCC power grab would allow it to regulate any interstate communication service on barely more than a whim and without any additional input from Congress," said Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., sponsor of the legislation. The Internet, he added, "is open and innovative thanks to the government's hands-off approach."

But in what has become a largely partisan battle, the Democrat-controlled Senate is not expected to go along with the House. Sen. John D. Rockefeller, D-W.Va., chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said he was "disappointed that House leadership wants to undo the integrity of the FCC's process and unravel their good work."

Even if it cleared Congress, the White House has threatened to veto a bill it said puts in doubt whether "the democratic spirit of the Internet will remain intact."

Rep. Henry Waxman of California, top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, said nullifying the FCC rules would "give big phone and cable companies control over what websites Americans can visit, what applications they can run and what devices they can use."
To me it seems that if you repeal net-neutrality and allow companies to interfere with traffic to certain networks, there would be less need to develop broadband networks.  If a particular network as taking up too much bandwith, instead of investing in improving the infrastructure, a company simply has to slow connection.

Big Government Hopes To Link Oklahoma City Bombing To Islamic Extremism

Bob McCarty seems a little obsessed about video of the Oklahoma City bombing that occurred 16 years ago.  Back in 2009, McCarty wrote on his blog, "Bob McCarty Writes: The Ultimate Blogging Machine," a piece regarding the bombing of the Alfred P. Murray Federal Building, in which he interviewed a conspiracy theorist David P. Shippers, chief investigative counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee during the Clinton Impeachment Hearings and as manager of the proceedings that followed in the U.S. Senate, who believed the the Oklahoma City bombing was permitted by the Clinton administration to help clinch the 1996 election.

“My honest opinion is that the original shot was made by (President Bill) Clinton in 1995,” Shippers told McCarty.  “Remember, it was 1995, and he had lost the congress — both houses of Congress — and people were saying he would never get reelected, and his numbers were way the hell down."

“If he had had another attack against the United States, he would have had to act, and he didn’t do a damn thing on the first Twin Towers bombing,” he continued.  “Clinton said, ‘Let’s not overreact,’ and, at that time, we had the Department of Justice with (Janet) Reno in there who was completely politicized, and I think (Clinton) just decided we’re not going to do it.”

Shippers is referring to the belief that Timothy McVeigh did not act alone and was aided by an Iraqi terrorist by the name of Hussain Al-Hussaini. Had Clinton acknowledged Iraqi involvement, Shippers insists he would have had to go to war with Iraq.  Shippers didn't stop there - he believes the Bushs made a pact with the Clintons to avoid a "legitimate reason" to invade Iraq.

This conspiracy is of interest to McCarty because as he puts it in his Big Government post, he sides with author Jayna Davis who believes there is a Middle Eastern connection, and McCarty believes this for one reason - he wants the Oklahoma City Bombing to be an act of Muslim terrorism, not an anti-government Christian extremist.

After all, look at some of McCarty's other posts, like the one where he complained that Coca-Cola made a  special can for Ramadan to be sold in countries with high Muslim populations such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Morocco, Tunisia.  McCarty felt it unfair that during Christmas Coca-Cola features Santa Claus, penguins, and polar bears.

McCarty also believes the Flight 93 memorial is an Islamic monument pointing to Mecca.

So, taking into consideration that McCarty has a bias against Islam, with his belief in a vast Muslim conspiracy regarding everything from government memorials to Christian bombings, why would anyone take this guy seriously?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Conservatives Photoshop Obama Photograph To Prove Lack Of Citizenship

In a desperate attempt to prove the various "birther" rumours regarding President Obama's citizenship that have been circulating since 2008, conservatives have taken to editing photographs of the president with his family to help advance their agenda.

Alex Pareene wrote the following for Salon:
Jack Cashill, the right-wing journalist currently winning the national game of "'prove' the most outlandish thing you possibly can about Barack Obama" with both his theory that Bill Ayers ghost-wrote "Dreams From My Father" and his claim that the president's father was actually Jimi Hendrix, dropped a bombshell today: Barack Obama is not actually in a photo of Barack Obama and his grandparents.

As Cashill explains:
In his definitive 2010 biography of Barack Obama, "The Bridge," New Yorker editor David Remnick features a photograph of a dapper young Barack Obama sitting between his grandparents on a Central Park bench.

The bench is real. The grandparents are real. The wall behind them is real. Barack Obama is not. He has been conspicuously photoshopped in. Who did this and why remains as much a mystery as Obama's extended stay in New York.
Here are the images in question:

Here is a closer look at the discrepancies:

Notice not only Obama's knee (minus Obama), the repititious patterns found in the circle number one and the rectangular swatch in circle number two?

The patterns that repeat in the above section can also be found in the other stone block that was behind the president's grandmother.

These little facts don't seem to interrupt Cashill and Pareene notes that he was recently on "Fox and Friends" to promote his investigations into the president's background.

If this guy is basing his information off of faulty information, such as an edited photograph, why should he even be given airtime on a network supposedly dedicated to presenting "fair and balanced" news?  In the segment on "Fox and Friends," Cashill claims that he can prove the president did not write his books, insisting that the evidence is in his book.  Again, if his "evidence" is anything like this hack photo, then why is this idiot given the time of day?

Professor Addresses Lack Of Journalism Regarding Possible Palin Pregnancy Hoax

Bradford Scharlott, Associate Professor for Journalism at Northern Kentucky University, had taken to task deconstructing the lack of authentic journalism in regards to Sarah Palin's alleged pregnancy of child Trig Paxson Van Palin.
But it’s fair to ask if the U.S. press should have treated the fake pregnancy rumor as untouchable, both in 2008 and up to the present day. After all, if there seemed to be any real chance that the rumor was true, that might mean that a candidate for the vice presidency had staged a hoax about the birth of a Down syndrome child and then used that birth to promote her political career. This article looks at what American journalists knew, and when they knew it, concerning the fake birth rumor – and it finds there was insufficient evidence for the press to conclude that Palin was telling the truth about Trig. The article then looks at what factors may have caused the press to give Palin more deference than she was due, and how journalists might have reacted differently. Finally, the article considers how the spiral of silence theory casts light on press performance relative to the Trig hoax rumor and, relatedly, the Obama fake birth-certificate rumor.
You can download the report here.

The paper is extremely interesting and poses many questions the mainstream media failed to address and makes us wonder just why should we believe Trig is Palin's child when no proof was offered, and yes it is an issue considering the woman ran for an executive office of the federal government and continues to toy with the idea of running for president.  As Americans, we should be aware if our next president purposefully covered up a pregnancy for any reason, for doing so would show serious moral and ethical questions.

Scharlott's paper has already upset allies of Palin, causing Palin's former spokesperson, Bill McAllister, to email the professor with all sorts of nasty things to say, and as Politicalgates points out, adds to the questionability surrounding Palin's "pregnancy" - McAllister claimed rumors regarding Trig only surfaced when Palin was nominated and that despite him claiming to be the "most connected politics reporter," there is plenty of evidence that McAllister was fully aware people were talking about Palin's lack of a baby bump and who the real mother could be. 

This also makes you wonder - why is Palin's former spokesperson, once a lowly reporter who was elevated to such a high position shortly after coming into contact with supposedly-pregnant GovernorPalin, is trying to put the kibosh on Professor Scharlott's paper?

Read more about Sarah Palin's pregnancy at Palingates' Babygate page to see just what exactly Scharlott is talking about (Palingates goes into more depth surrounding the events).

One thing is for certain - Scharlott can expect plenty of FOIA requests from right-wingers intent on discrediting the professor and destroying his career...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Troops Go Home!: Because Of Government Shutdown, Military Won't Get Paid

Because of the impasse in Washington and the Republicans refusal to negotiate - mostly the social conservative wing - the military has sent out notices to some 1.4 million active-duty military personnel, stating they will have their pay cut because of the lack of appropriations.

From a Newsmax article by David A. Patten:
The military department that manages distribution of paychecks, the Defense Financing and Accounting Service (DFAS), posted the following advisory on its website: “Due to the government shutdown, the Department of Defense has no legal authority to pay any personnel -- military or civilian -- for the days during which the government is shut down.”

The current continuing resolution to fund government operations, including the military, expires at midnight Friday, and the current pay period continues through April 15. So without an end to the standoff in Washington, active-duty military personnel will only receive half their normal pay on April 15.

“We can only pay when we have appropriations,” a source with the Defense Finance and Accounting Service tells Newsmax. “Therefore, if appropriations were to terminate at midnight tonight, we can only pay through midnight tonight. We cannot invent money.”

The source said advice-of-payment notices usually only go out three or four days before payday, so the department is trying to understand why they went out this early. “This is one of those unusual situations where unusual things happen,” he said.
Here's a solution - all active-duty military serving overseas can go home.  If the government cannot guarantee their pay, these people should not be putting their lives in danger.

What Planned Parenthood Really Does...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Rand Paul Cares More About Coal Companies Then About Your Health...

This result of less regulation is worth it to Rand Paul...
David Jamieson wrote the following for The Huffington Post:
With American miners still succumbing to black lung disease, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has proposed a plan to reduce the number of such deaths through the stricter regulation of mining sites. But at a congressional committee meeting last week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) voiced concern that the new regulations may not be worth the cost to coal companies -- even though pockets of his state have been designated black lung “hot spots” by the federal government.

In a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, Paul also asserted that the number of black lung cases has been on the decline. But according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSHA), in recent years such incidences have in fact been on the rise in certain areas of coal country.

"Every regulation doesn't save lives," Paul said in the hearing, later adding that the regulations so far have done a “pretty good job” of reducing black lung. "There is a point or a balancing act between when a regulation becomes burdensome enough that our energy production is stifled. We have to assess the costs of regulation and whether they save lives."
According to Paul, regulating coal companies to reduce the occurance of black lung - also known as coalworker's pneumoconiosis - is too costly for the coal companies and the health of the miners, plenty of who make up Paul's constituency, should be placed at risk so to not interrupt America's energy supply. 

Rand Paul is against the health care reform bill that passed last year and has repeatedly called for it's repeal.  I wonder if he would also call for the repeal of the Black Lung Benefits Act of 1973, which provides monthly payments and medical benefits to victims of the coal-related disease, as well as to their dependent survivor - after all, these miners and their failing health as a result of providing America with a source of energy are standing in the way of profitability...