Archive for February, 2010

Dude Totally Disrespects Gentleman’s Sport of Snowboarding

Posted by Matt on Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

I’ve been attempting to watch the Olympics. It’s not taking. Have you tried to watch cross-country skiing? Dear God. It’s so disconcertingly boring, I kind of feel like I’m missing some epic existential undertaking.

Anyway, Scott Lago is 22 years old. He won a bronze medal in the superheady snowboarding half-pipe event. While you would like to think a 22-year old medal winner would celebrate in front of a raging fire with a cup of hot chocolate and the latest Readers’ Digest, it looks like Lago had the nerve to enjoy the other side of Vancouver’s nightlife.

That's no fakey

If I ever win an Olympic Medal (Barefoot Curling – 2018), I can’t say I will be above placing it around my dong-area for a chuckle on a special occasion (brunch?). What’s the point of all the years of thankless practice hours if you can’t even hang your hardware from your hardware?

The USOC has no such sense of humor. The corrupt money changers were not pleased with these pictures + couldn’t wait to pass some judgment and send Lago home.

If the USOC is going to encourage the international Olympic community to add these made up sports so Americans can get more medals (tv ratings), they should be willing to accept some of the free-spirited antics that come with the sport’s culture. After all, that’s what they’re promoting.

Lago tweeted this upon his return from the games:

“Got home this morning to all my homies,” he said on his Twitter site. “Such a good Olympic experience. Keeping my medal in a safe spot for now haha.”

‘Haha’ is right. USA, Homies!

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Crazy I’m Amazed At The Way They Really Need You

Posted by Matt on Thursday, February 18th, 2010

The Platform of the NeoCons’ 2000′s “War on Terror”:

-Manufacture faulty intelligence as a pretext to invade a country unassociated with any terrorist attack;

-Criminally unconstitutional, immoral, and ultimately counterproductive, torture, rendition + indefinite detention;

-Counterproductive, unconstitutional spying;

-Ineptitude in execution of stated objectives;

-Hiding behind inflammatory, big-balled fear-mongering rhetoric, while secretly cowering in a feeble chickenhawk shell.

The theories and practices of this inept gaggle of assclowns have failed over and over and over. Will they fade softly into the night + let some reasonable adults have a chance? Not on your life. Or mine.

John Bolton  stops by Greta VanSusterennrnenen’s show. And he’s pissed because we haven’t started a war in a while.  To paraphrase, “I’m displeased Obama isn’t doing more to help Israel bomb Iran, despite the fact that Iran’s military budget is less than Sweden’s and it may not be in Israel’s best interests.”

Unless Bolton is offering ‘free mustache rides!‘ I don’t understand what kind of legitimacy this lends to your show. Although, this requires pretending this is not Fox News and the primary goal of all political coverage is not the undermining of the Obama Administration. Good luck.

Picture the producers brainstorming their GVS guest book:

DBag #1: We really need to get that guy from the Bush Administration who thinks we should invade Iran.

Dbag#2: Which one?

Dbag#1: You know, the guy from AEI. The one who wants to invade a bunch of places, but avoided military service during Vietnam.

Dbag#2: Which one?

Dbag#1: The one who joked about a terrorist attack on Chicago. Ummmm, the company man who totally undermined the Iran Contra Investigation and then helped spread the “Iraq seeking uranium from Niger” lie.

Dbag#2: Yeah,  I’m drawing a blank. Has he been on Fox?

Dbag#1: Been on Fox? He’s on all the fucking time…C’mon dude. The guy that thinks the US should be the only country with nukes. The guy who pisses all over our allies and despises nearly any form of international treaty or agreement.

Dbag#2: you’re going to have to be more specific.

Dbag#1:  Jesus, DBag#2. Throw me a bone! Umm. Mustache! The guy with the fucking mustache!

Dbag#2: Bolton?

Dbag#1: Yes! John Bolton. Get that guy for GVS. Phew. He’s due. Man… that was an insane ordeal.

Speaking of sanity, Glenn Beck stopped by Fox & Family & Friends & Freaks & Fucktards to apply his unique experience as a radio DJ to the National Security issues of the day.

For those of you who don’t know, the coalition forces, in concert with Pakistan, have been laying it down on the Taliban. While I personally see these efforts as pretty futile, they are inflicting considerably more damage on the Taliban than in the previous 7 years. Who knows what that means for the Big Picture.

Anyway, we captured the Taliban #2 man. Cue Mr. Beck.

Beck:We just captured the second most wanted guy in al Qaeda. The first thing out of my mind? Shoot him in the head. Shoot him in the head. Before it goes into a court and we’re doing all of this nonsense back and forth. He’s a bad guy. Shoot him in the head.

(crosstalk)

Fake Dumb Fake Blonde: What about getting information from him…

Beck (gesturing like a gay epileptic seal): Oh, Uh, ah. If i were in charge. We would be interrogating him. And we’d interrogate him. And interrogate him. And interrogate him. And then we’d shoot him in the head.  But with these people that are currently running our country?  And they’ll, they’ll make the troops the bad guys and everything else?  Shoot him in the head before we all of a sudden release him into what? Primary schools in New York City. What are we going to do with this guy?

Beck has turned a big time counter-terrorism tactical achievement into, “Obama hates the troops and captured this evil man so he can let him prey on your small children.”

Being utterly deranged and utterly despicable are no longer mutually exclusive traits.

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McCain Has Another Nasty Break-Up

Posted by Matt on Monday, February 15th, 2010

What have you done for me lately, McCain?

Joe the Plumber (aka Samuel J.Wurzelbacher) headlined state Representative Sam Rohrer’s Mobilize for Liberty event in Harrisburg today, giving the Berks County lawmaker his support a few hours after Rohrer mustered just a dozen votes in the State Republican Committee’s gubernatorial endorsement meeting.

You figured the guy was going to work his 15 Minutes. However, I found the next paragraph surprising:

He says more than 200 politicians have asked for support this year, but so far, he’s only backed five. “I need to talk to candidates before I endorse,” he told me afterwards, explaining that his bar is pretty high. “We have a series of conversations – 20 to 30 minute conversations – and I grill them. I ask them questions about energy, education – make sure they’re straight.” Wurzelbacher says he also vets candidates online.

18 months ago, this guy was an out-of-work, unlicensed laborer. Now? He’s more sought after than a closet auger after the Saturday afternoon rush at Popeye’s. (hilarious plumbing reference)

Wurzelbacher tries out Open Mic night at Zanies. "...and Megan McCain? More like Meghan McShame. AmIRite?"

Does he express any gratitude for the man, the myth, the McCain?

Wurzelbacher touched on several different points during his speech, and many of them were surprising. He said he doesn’t support Sarah Palin anymore. Why? Because she’s backing John McCain’s re-election effort. “John McCain is no public servant,” he told the room, calling the 2008 Republican nominee a career politician.

I pointed out he’d just be plain old Sam Wurzelbacher of Ohio — Joe the Plumber wouldn’t exist –  without McCain. His response was blunt. “I don’t owe him s—. He really screwed my life up, is how I look at it.”

Wurzelbacher said, “McCain was trying to use me. I happened to be the face of middle Americans. It was a ploy.”

Added Wurzelbacher:

If he ever gets me my telescopic basin wrench, then maybe we can talk. McCain borrowed it to work on the guest house bathroom at their Palm Springs place. That was over a goddamn year ago. Fucking guy just can’t keep his word. 

(Hilarious plumbing reference #2)

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Only Thing Less Tolerable Than Ron Santo Is Monsanto

Posted by Matt on Monday, February 15th, 2010

Bob Cesca toned down his snarkiness from a 12 to about a 3, and wrote an excellent piece on what is truly, a piece of shit American company. Here are some excerpts:

Founded by Missouri pharmacist John Francis Queeny in 1901, Monsanto is literally everywhere. Just about every non-organic food product available to consumers has some sort of connection with Monsanto.

Anyone who can read a label knows that corn, soy and cotton can be found in just about every American food product. Upwards of 90% of all corn, soybeans and cotton are grown from genetically engineered seeds, also known as genetically modified organisms (GMOs). These genetically enhanced products appear in around 70% of all American processed food products. And Monsanto controls 90% of all genetically engineered seeds. In other words, Monsanto controls — and owns patents on — most of the American food supply.

When you consider, as Walletpop originally reported, that one-in-four food labels is inaccurate, that the F.D.A.’s testing is weak at best, then how can we trust one corporation to have so much control over our produce? The answer is, we can’t.

Recently, a study by the International Journal of Biological Sciences revealed that Monsanto’s Mon 863, Mon 810, and Roundup herbicide-absorbing NK 603 in corn caused kidney and liver damage in laboratory rats. Scientists also discovered damage to the heart, spleen, adrenal glands and even the blood of rats that consumed the mutant corn. A “state of hepatorenal toxicity” the study concluded.

This hasn’t slowed down Monsanto’s profit machine. In 2008, Monsanto cleared over $2 billion in net profits on $11 billion in revenues. And its 2009 is looking equally as excellent.

Author and food safety advocate Robyn O’Brien told me, “Monsanto is expecting gross margins in Q2 2010 of 62%, its corn and soy price mix to be up 8-10% and its glyphosate revenue to expand to an estimated $1 billion in gross profit by 2012, enabling Monsanto to further drive R&D into seeds and to price those seeds at a premium – further driving price increases on the farm and in the grocery stores.”

This, O’Brien says, in the same year when farm income declined by around 34%.

Because Monsanto claims that its GMOs create higher yields and therefore comparatively higher revenues per acre for struggling American farmers, they’re certainly a tempting option. On the surface, that is. Monsanto controls its seeds with an iron fist, so even if you happen to own a farm next to another farm upon which Monsanto seeds are used, and if those seeds migrate onto your land, Monsanto can sue you for royalties.

Additionally, if you use seeds from crops grown from Monsanto seeds, a process known as “seed cleaning,” you also have to pay royalties to Monsanto or it will sue you. All told, Monsanto has recovered $15 million in royalties by suing farmers, with individual settlements ranging from five figures to millions of dollars each.

Back in 2004, farmer Kem Ralph served eight months in jail and was fined $1.3 million for lying about Monsanto cotton seeds he was hiding in his barn as a favor to a friend. They weren’t even his seeds (yeah, that’s what they all say!). By way of comparison, the fine in Ralph’s home state of Tennessee for, say, cocaine possession, is $2,500.

In keeping with the Orwellian nature of modern marketing, one of the first phrases you see on the front page of the Monsanto website is “we help farmers.” Funny. In a cruelly ironical way, that is.

In fairness, the argument in support of Monsanto is generally “it makes more food for lower prices.” Of course this is a red herring. Basic economics proves that choice and competition create lower prices. Not monopolies. This applies not only to American grocery stores, but also in terms of feeding developing nations where food is scarcer. Moreover, stronger Monsanto herbicides, compatible with herbicide resistant seeds, are giving rise to mutant Wolverine-ish super weeds that have adapted and are rapidly spreading through the air to farms that don’t use Monsanto GMOs, destroying obviously vulnerable crops. Say nothing of the inevitable mutant bugs that will adapt to the pesticides that are implanted into the Monsanto Mon 810 genetic code. And if further studies indicate similar organ damage in humans, the externalized costs to health care systems will begin to seriously out-weigh the benefits of cheaper food.

Ultimately, there are better, healthier ways to make cheaper food. Until then the best thing we can do is to demand further investigations and buy organic products whenever practical.

And if you can’t afford to buy organic, O’Brien recommends, “A great first step, given how pervasive these ingredients are in processed foods that often use these ingredients to extend shelf life, is to reduce your exposure to processed foods and stick with pronounceable ingredients and foods that your grandmother would have served her kids.”

Meanwhile, let’s endeavor to make Monsanto a household name. But not in a good way.

On January 15, the Obama Justice Department launched an anti-trust investigation against the corporate behemoth over its next generation of genetically modified “Roundup Ready” soybean seeds. The very next day, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case Monsanto v. Geertson Seed Farms, which challenges the safety of genetically modified agricultural products — the centerpiece of the Monsanto empire. If the investigation fails, farmers will have to switch over to the next generation of Roundup Ready seeds in 2014. And the cycle of corporate abuse and monopolization will continue.

watch out! it's right behind you!

Big Agro infests the government.  Even Congressional attempts at increasing uniformity and safety are counter-productive, like the NUFA laws they failed to pass. Monsanto continues to receive judgement after judgment.

For instance…

During the Bush administration, Monsanto illegally won USDA approval for its genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa by convincing regulators to bypass a mandatory environmental review. In response to a lawsuit by consumer groups, the courts then stepped in and banned GE alfalfa until the USDA followed the law.

In December, the USDA released its belated review of Monsanto’s GE alfalfa seed and determined that Monsanto’s alfalfa met the Obama Administration’s standards, despite the risk of organic contamination.

This conclusion came despite the acknowledgment by USDA researchers that GE alfalfa is virtually certain to “contaminate” normal seeds. Cross-contamination is the number one concern with genetically engineered crops.

CLick here to tell the USDA you would kind of like to keep Monsanto’s genes out of our food.

If you watch as much college basketball as me, you’ll  see all the disingenuous Monsanto ads. Farmer Pete in his overalls, peering off into the distance, as his amber waves of grain flutter in and out of focus.  At some point, a small child in smiling. Then there’s a green logo and wholesome voiceover, something like: “A message from America’s farmers…brought to you by Monsanto.”

A more representative commercial should show some dude in a lab coat, splicing some stuff.  Farmer Joe walks into the lab wearing a ball-gag. Lab Coat puts down his syringe and picks up a used rubber glove off the laboratory floor. Farmer Pete drops his overalls and bends over. Cut to oblivious obese child strapped to a feed-bag filled with corndogs. Fade to black, followed by Monsanto’s logo, and an uplifting voice-over, most likely Morgan Freeman or Donald Sutherland: “Fisting America’s Small Farmers…brought to you by Monsanto.”‘

Good day.

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Senator Does Something

Posted by Matt on Sunday, February 7th, 2010

This poor child just wants his stuff!

Alabama Republican Sen. Richard Shelby has placed a unilateral hold on all of President Barack Obama’s executive branch nominees in an apparent protest over home state concerns.

Shelby is frustrated over the Pentagon’s bidding process for air-to-air refueling tankers, which could lead to the creation of jobs in Mobile, Ala. And spokesman Jonathan Graffeo said in a statement the senator is also “deeply concerned” that the administration “will not release” funds already appropriated for a Terrorist Explosive Device Analytical Center to be built in Alabama.

“If this administration were as worried about hunting down terrorists as it is about the confirmation of low-level political nominations, America would be a safer place,” Graffeo said.

Shelby’s hold doesn’t block the Obama nominees entirely, but it makes it impossible for Democrats to clear them without at least some Republican help. With Shelby’s hold in place, Democrats will need to cobble together 60 votes for a cloture motion on each nominee. And with Republican Sen. Scott Brown’s swearing-in Thursday night, the Democrats no longer have 60 votes on their own.

Shelby has informed Reid that he would block all nominees on the Senate’s executive calendar, which amounts to more than 70 of the president’s choices.

Sen. Shelby: Senator, Patriot, Dick.

What’s an earmark? Well kids, an earmark is a legislative provision that directs approved funds to be spent on specific projects or that directs specific exemptions from taxes or mandated fees. For instance, in 2009, Senator Richard C. Shelby sponsored or co-sponsored 160 earmarks totalling $322,378,750 in fiscal year 2009 ranking 9th out of 100 senators. He’s clearly working it.

At the White House Friday, press secretary Robert Gibbs said Shelby’s hold is a perfect example of “what’s wrong” with Washington, calling it “the poster child” for “how this town works.”

“It boggles the mind to hold up qualified nominees for positions that are needed because he didn’t get two earmarks,” Gibbs said.

Graffeo said Shelby “has made the administration aware” of his concerns and “is willing to discuss them at any time.”

A healthy democracy has vocal opposition. However, criticizing a man’s job performance while simultaneously hamstringing his ability to do the job is not really in that spirit. Ladies + Gentlemen, Senator Richard Shelby.

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Chinese Girl Wants To Star In Awful Movies

Posted by Matt on Sunday, February 7th, 2010

year of the mmm...

What trade deficit? We are apparently still exporting good ol’ crazy celebrity-obsessed American culture:

SHANGHAI – A Chinese woman is seeking extensive plastic surgery to look like U.S. actress Jessica Alba, mainly because she hopes to win back her boyfriend who she said always wished she looked more like the Hollywood star.

The 21-year-old, who would only give her name as Xiaoqing, said she was devastated after she broke up with her lover, an ardent fan of the actress who has starred in hit movies such as “Fantastic Four” and “Into the Blue.”

This guy must be pretty special. Let’s learn about him!

Xiaoqing, who works at an Internet firm in Shanghai, said that during their 18-month-long relationship, her 28-year-old boyfriend had been obsessed with Alba, adorning their apartment with her photographs and talking about her constantly.

She said that while her boyfriend had not forced her to look like Alba, he always hinted that the wanted her to resemble his favorite star and even bought her a blonde wig to wear

I don’t know how to say “red flag” in Mandarin, but that’s an expression that can be applied to this situation.

Hopefully, Xiaoqing’s surgery will be a success and I will be one-step closer to fulfilling my girlfriend’s debauched fantasy that I look more like Richard Belzer.

see ya soon, buddy!

 

______________________________________________________________________________________________

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Multi-National Corporations United

Posted by Matt on Friday, February 5th, 2010

I tried to read last week’s Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court decision. I’m not going to lie. I couldn’t make it through. It’s a long opinion and Justice Kennedy just won’t close it out. The man writes with broad strokes and I’ll leave it at that. Stevens’ dissent is no Cliffs Notes opinion either. Regardless, I’m pretty sure I don’t like it.

the wheels...

“Of course, you don’t,” you may say. Progressives don’t like the thought of more corporate control over our laws and elections, and the GOP (& many Dems & corporatists) loves that idea. Simple as that.

Maybe. The resulting outcomes of the decision have been (and will be) discussed ad nauseum. But what about the legal basis + reasoning of the decision? In a nutshell, here’s the practical effect of the 5-4 decision (according to the WSJ):

In regard to Thursday’s decision, it helps to understand what the court didn’t decide. It didn’t rule on an individual’s right to contribute to a federal campaign. Individuals are still permitted to give up to $2,400 to a candidate during the primary and $2,400 to a candidate during the general election. Individuals are also still allowed to give $5,000 to any given political-action-committee. The amount an individual could give a campaign was, yesterday, $115,500 over a two year period. Today it’s the same.

Nor did the court change the law on corporations’ ability to contribute directly to a political campaign. Yesterday, direct contributions to a political campaign were banned. Companies could organize and alert employees to the existence of PACs, but they could not give money out of their general treasuries to PACs. Today, that’s still the case.

What the ruling did, however, was erase bans on corporations’ abilities to spend money in support of a candidate. Yesterday, a company was limited in its ability to create, say, its own television advertisement supporting or ripping a political candidate. Today, there are no limits. So long as a company does not coordinate with a campaign, it can spend as much money as it wants to on a sort of shadow campaign on behalf of a candidate.

Loyola Law School’s Rick Hasen explained it to us this way: “Yesterday, if you wanted to influence the otucome of an election, you had to set up a PAC, contributions int which were limited to $5,000 per individual. But today, things are very differerent. Google or IBM, for instance, can spend an unlimited amount of money in support of a candidate.”

The Court ruled that the 1st Amendment protects these corporations right to Free Speech. While I understand the “personhood” of the Corporation, I didn’t think this meant the Bill of Rights is universally applied to corporations. Some see it differently, and the Court’s decisions over the last few decades have certainly convoluted the issues. The probable outcomes are pretty apparent: More corporate control over government. In particular, there exists the dangerous probability of huge corporate influence, and subsequent conflict of interest, with regard to judicial elections. However, I agree with Glenn Greenwald, who says the following:

Either the First Amendment allows these speech restrictions or it doesn’t.  In general, a law that violates the Constitution can’t be upheld because the law produces good outcomes (or because its invalidation would produce bad outcomes).

True enough. But does this fall under 1st Amendment protection?

It’s absolutely true that the Citizens United majority cavalierly tossed aside decades of judicial opinions upholding the constitutionality of campaign finance restrictions.  But what does that prove?  Several of the liberals’ most cherished Supreme Court decisions did the same (Brown v. Bd. of Education rejected Plessy v. FergusonLawrence v. Texas overruled Bowers v. Hardwick, etc.).   Beyond that, the central principle which critics of this ruling find most offensive — that corporations possess “personhood” and are thus entitled to Constitutional (and First Amendment) rights — has also been affirmed by decades of Supreme Court jurisprudence; tossing that principle aside would require deviating from stare decisis every bit as much as the majority did here.  If a settled proposition of law is sufficiently repugnant to the Constitution, then the Court is not only permitted, but required, to uproot it.

Greenwald’s states that the century of campaign finance laws limiting corporate contributions to elections hindered free speech. However, Greenwald does little to address the precedent, other than to imply he’s a 1st Amendment absolutist. David Kairys disagrees:

The court’s main rationale is that limits on using corporate treasuries for campaigns are a “classic example of censorship.” To get there, Kennedy depends on two legal theories that blossomed as constitutional principles in the mid-1970s: money is speech and corporations are people. Both theories are strange, if not simply wrongheaded—why, according to the Constitution or common sense, would money be speech or corporations be people? The court has also employed theories not uniformly but, rather, as constitutional cover for dominance of the electoral system by corporations and by the wealthy.

Part of the weird dichotomy is as the Court expands the Constitution to protect “rights” of corporations, recent decisions demonstrate a pattern of contracting the Constitutional rights of individuals.

The first theory appeared in a 1976 decision, Buckley v. Valeo, which invalidated some campaign-finance reforms that came out of Watergate. The Court concluded that most limits on campaign expenditures, and some limits on donations, are unconstitutional because money is itself speech and the “quantity of expression”—the amounts of money—can’t be limited.

But in subsequent cases, the conservative justices who had emphatically embraced the money-is-speech principle didn’t apply it to money solicited by speakers of ordinary means. For example, the court limited the First Amendment rights of Hare Krishna leafleters soliciting donations in airports to support their own leafleting. The leafleting drew no money-is-speech analysis. To the contrary, the conservative justices, led by Chief Justice Rehnquist, found that by asking for money for leafleting—their form of speech—the Hare Krishnas were being “disruptive” and posing an “inconvenience” to others. In other words, in the court’s view, some people’s money is speech; others’ money is annoying. And the conservative justices have raised no objection to other limits on the quantity of speech, such as limits on the number of picketers.

Are Corporations entitled to the same Free Speech protections as individuals? What are the 1st Amendment rights of individuals these days?

In Citizens United, Justice Kennedy discusses business corporations as if they were clubs or political associations with political viewpoints and elected leaders. But corporate managers don’t function as representatives or employees of shareholders, who have no say, no shared political views, and no expectation that their investments will be used for political ends. In the wake of the court’s ruling this week, will some corporations pick a party or politics while others channel unheard of amounts of money to both major parties? Will investors be influenced by a corporation’s political portfolio?

The Citizens United decision will make it harder to achieve reforms opposed by major corporations and change business as well as politics. Increasing the constitutional rights of corporations beyond their business purposes is really about increasing the rights and power of corporate managers. Government has enabled corporate managers to control huge accumulations of wealth without any personal risk—an arrangement that contributes to wild, bubble-producing economic swings and collapses. Citizens United invites that arrangement directly into politics and elections.

Both of these theories—that money is speech and that corporations are people—have an easier time than they should in courts and with the public, too, because they are posed as counters to censorship. Many of us, including me, haven’t seen a free-speech argument we don’t like, at least initially.

But some perspective: We limit speech—when it has nothing to do with wealthy people spending money—in many ways. (It wasn’t protected at all until the mid-1930s.) You famously can’t shout fire in a theater. You not-so-famously can’t break the theater’s rules, including rules about speaking, because you don’t really have any First Amendment rights in a privately owned theater or at work. The First Amendment limits only government. And even where it is fully protected, free speech has not been absolute; it’s subject to regulation when it undermines basic societal interests and functions, like voting and democracy. In the last few decades, the conservative justices dominating the court have also limited speech rights for demonstrators, students, and whistle blowers. They have restricted speech at shopping malls and transit terminals. Taken as a whole, the conservative court’s First Amendment jurisprudence has enlarged the speech rights available to wealthy people and corporations and restricted the speech rights available to people of ordinary means and to dissenters.

Are there any limits on the 1st Amendment Rights of corporations? As Tom Geoghegan writes in his excellent book, See You In Court…

…There is a growing view on the right that business has a First Amendment right to lie to people. Or at least that it is illegal, and maybe even unconstitutional, for government to pass a law prohibiting or regulating fraud…Some law professors on the right, like Charles Fried of Harvard, argue that this is one of the greatest legacies of the Rehnquist court. It’s the principle of business free speech. It starts with the right to deceive. In one ERISA case, Varsity Corp v. Howe et al. (1996), workers sued a business for lying to them to take an illusory pension-type benefit. To defend its right to mislead the workers, the company brought in the country’s greatest First Amendment lawyer, Floyd Abrams…

His client lost – but only by 5 to 4. With the new Court, he’d probably win the case today.

That is ridiculous. In Illinois, corporations like State Farm are already buying judicial elections and the verdicts that come with their pocket-judges. Since the corporations are technically not affiliated with these campaigns, many of these judges won’t recuse themselves from their assigned cases brought by or against their campaign funders.

I don’t want to go over-the-top. The reality is that even prior to this decision, Multi-National Corporations already exert more influence on our government than ever before. The corporatists and the plutocrats rule. All one has to do is look at how fast the government came to the rescue of Wall St. while the middle class is left to implode.  Still, the thought of more government control by multi-national corporations who ship jobs overseas, open up foreign shells to avoid paying taxes, and already own our political process can only be seen as discouraging to American democracy.

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Sorority Is Totally Awesome Real-Life Stereotype

Posted by Matt on Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Cornell’s Pi Phi Sorority put out 7 pages of dress code for their rush events. Before you judge, please realize: They’re all best friends.

On Clothes

— Denim leggings are appropriate as long as it’s done right: aka, not from American Apparel and worn with chic, cool, chunky boots over them and a longer top. NO camel toe!

— No satin dresses. No one looks good in satin dresses unless it’s from Betsey Johnson or Dolce & Gabbana, you weigh less than 130 pounds, have three pairs of Spanx on and it’s New Years Eve.

— No Frumpy.

“No frumpy?” This is upstate New York and I’m an agricultural science major on scholarship. Damn it.

On Shoes

— Yes to nice flats: Tory Burch, etc. More evening-ish, understated, patent leather good. I’m thinking mid-height Mary Jane heels, or mid-height chunky Kate Spade.

— Booties ok if you can pull them off, aka probably not.

No! No! No! Trucker hats tilted slightly to the left. TO THE LEFT!

I’m looking in your direction, Michelle. Ugly bitch.

On Jewelry

— I expect everyone to be wearing accessories. This is an important part of every outfit and can make or break any ensemble.

— Bangles need to coordinate. I’m not saying you have to wear a Harry Winston wreath, but I am saying I won’t tolerate any gross plastic shizzzz. I love things on wrists and I demand earrings if your ears are pierced.

What’s going on in that last one? I was all set to let you tell me how to dress. You had me. Then you lost me.

This site only released the dress code requirements. The following are some behavioral requirements necessary to accentuate that frigid bitch feel you want in a sorority.

  • When kissing ‘hello,’ do not make contact with your lips. Kiss the air only. We’re not an ‘ethnic’ sorority.
  • Wax your vag. Even though this body part won’t show, it always great to start a conversation with something like, “OMG, that fucking Asian lady almost ripped my clit off. Do not go to that place on Fall Creek Ave.” Candidate A will likely answer, “Oh, where should I go to get a wax and the occasional anal brightening?” Presto! There’s a conversation!
  • Don’t even think about smiling unless it’s for a camera. That’s a huge turnoff. You’re not Mormon, are you?
  • If you’ve vomited more than once on the day of the event, it’s mandatory you carry mints. Strong peppermint preferred.
  • Talking about math and science classes is strongly discouraged. I know this is the Ivy League, but we’re in f’ing Pi Phi.

I would love to be a fly on the wall when the Cornell PiPhi Board of Directors gathers to determine who’s lucky enough to be invited into this bastion of individual acceptance. Something tells me they have incisively personal and cruel nicknames for all the candidates.

I’m not sure about Anorexic, but I really like what Sex Tape brought to the table. Although, I’m pretty sure she fucked Daddy Issues’ ex-boyfriend, so that’s something we’re going to have to deal with. I think we all agree about Botched Nose Job. Out. Chinese Finger Trap has a lot of baggage, but she does get along well with the lacrosse team. I kind of like Laxatives over there.  Don’t even get me started on BitchWhore, but I guess she is close with Zoloft, so we might have to find a spot for her.

Rush on.

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America Somehow Manages To Convict Another Terrorist In Civilian Court

Posted by Matt on Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

If you listen to the Beltway babble, even the “moderates” are starting to sound a lot like Dick Cheney. Apparently, their faith in our 250-year old Rule of Law is so fragile and skin-deep that the thought of using our existing legal framework to convict someone such as the “X-Mas Underwear Bomber” portends unfathomable danger for every red-blooded American. Furthermore, their interpretation of the Rights extended by the Constitution are either ridiculously misinformed, or intellectually dishonest.

Last week, it took a Kansas jury less than an hour to convict Scott Roeder, the man who walked into a Lutheran church and shot abortion doctor George Tiller in the head. Roeder’s defense put forth an argument that the charge be reduced to “voluntary manslaughter,” which Kansas law defines as “an unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force” and carries a slim four-to-six-year sentence. The defense was hoping to make the case that Roeder honestly believed Tiller posed an imminent threat to “unborn children” and that using deadly force against him was justified. On the stand, Roeder admitted to shooting the doctor and expressed no regret. The judge denied this argument. The jury convicted Roeder of first-degree murder.

This is in Wichita, Kansas – a hotbed of Conservative activism. I doubt you could find a jury pool in Kansas without a handful of devout anti-Choice members. And it took them less than an hour.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa. This guy is a white American murderer,” you may say. “That’s a big difference from being a brown Muslim murderer. (or attempted murderer)” Of course it is. We all know the broad pro-Muslim and pro-Brown tendencies of the American populace.

As the DOJ re-weighs its decision to try the Burned Crotch Bomber and 9/11 murderers in civilian Courts, I’m trying wrap my head around the associated fear-mongering being perpetrated by the Right (and a solid amount of Democrats).

No one less than Conservative Hero Ronald Reagan addressed the issue of trying terrorists in US Courts during his presidency.

The official policy of the Reagan Administration when it came to treating Terrorists, as articulated by the top Reagan State Department official in charge of Terrorism policies, L. Paul Bremer, in a speech he entitled ”Counter-Terrorism:  Strategies and Tactics:”

Another important measure we have developed in our overall strategy is applying the rule of law to terrorists. Terrorists are criminals. They commit criminal actions like murder, kidnapping, and arson, and countries have laws to punish criminals. So a major element of our strategy has been to delegitimize terrorists, to get society to see them for what they are — criminals — and to use democracy’s most potent tool, the rule of law against them.

It was also Ronald Reagan who signed the Convention Against Torture in 1988 — after many years of countless, horrific Terrorist attacks — which not only declared that there are “no exceptional circumstances whatsoever” justifying torture, but also required all signatory countries to “ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law” and — and Reagan put it — “either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution.”  And, of course, even George W. Bush — at the height of 9/11-induced Terrorism hysteria — charged attempted shoe bomber Richard Reid with actual crimes and processed him through our civilian courts.

While certain imperfections and inequities exist in our legal system, you have to wonder about the endgame for the supporters of indefinite, perpetual detention of uncharged prisoners.

Ramzi Yousef. Richard Reid. Jose Padilla. Khan Mohammed. Ali Saleh Kahlah al-Marri…The list goes on. All terrorists convicted in US Courts. While Holder weighs his options, his critics are ready to pounce.

“The only time [the Obama] administration ever cites the previous administration for a precedent is to mention that there were some terrorists tried in U.S. courts,” Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said Sunday on State of the Union.

“We now know that was a mistake,” declared McConnell. “That was a mistake by the previous administration. The other mistake they made that shouldn’t be replicated by this administration is letting too many people go from Guantanamo.”

So according to McConnell, not only Reagan, but Bush and Cheney are radical leftists. Is this just political posturing, or is the fear genuine?

“This is really dangerous nonsense,” McConnell said of the Obama administration’s policies regarding treatment of alleged terrorists. “We have a way to do it, John,” McConnell told CNN’s John King. “Interrogate them. Detain them and try them in military commissions offshore at Guantanamo from which no one has ever escaped.”

Asked whether he was ready to deny the White House the funding necessary to close the Guantanamo Bay facility and move detainees held there to a location somewhere in the United States, McConnell responded, “Absolutely.” He predicted that there would be bipartisan support in Congress for withholding the funding.

Ahh. The fear of the escaped terrorist single-handedly wreaking havoc on America. Looks like someone has been watching his 24 DVDs.

These fucking Hawks have big enough balls to send other Americans’ children off the fight their bullshit wars, but they’re scared of bringing heavily-guarded and shackled terrorists to an American city where they’re despised? Some critics say trying them in NYC would be a “circus.” Fine. I have an idea. United States District Court for the District of Kansas. Topeka or Wichita.

So far, Obama + Holder’s DOJ have sent mixed signals. It’s about time they step up and stand tall for the Bill of Rights and the American Rule of Law.

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ManCrush > ManCrunch

Posted by Matt on Monday, February 1st, 2010

I believe this stands for Round 3, Pick 16.

Focus on the Family, the tax-exempt lobbying arm of intolerant Christianity, is running an Anti-Choice ad during the Super Bowl featuring the Great Tim Tebow and his mother, Pam, also known as Our Lady of Pontre Verda. CBS will collect $2.5 million for the ad.

The ad, funded by the Focus on the Family organization, is expected to tell the story of Tebow and his mother, Pam. Ill while pregnant with Tim, Pam refused suggestions to abort her son. Those who have seen the ad describe it as “uplifting.”

Better throwing mechanics than Tebow.

I have a lot of issues with F.O.T.F. and their hateful leader James Dobson. I think their tax-exempt status is complete bullshit. Dobson has blamed 9/11 on abortion, and in a 30-minute span driving through central Wisconsin a couple months ago, we heard F.O.T.F. radio suggest (in separate segments) that both Obama and Belgian EU President Yves Leterme were possibly the anti-Christ.

That being said, I have no problem with CBS airing the ad. While Broadcast networks have traditionally refrained from airing advocacy ads during the Super Bowl (including a proposed ’04 moveon.org ad), if Dobson wants to pay, and Tebow wants to lend his name, that’s fine with me. After all, I am pretty confident this is the closest Tebow will ever get to the Super Bowl. Let him have his 30 seconds. And while the ad may be “uplifting,” without near-naked girls or delicious melted cheese, I’m guessing the ad will be ignored or fly over the head of almost every viewer. Personally, I’ve stopped paying attention to Super Bowl ads since the demise of the Bud Bowl. R.I.P., Bud Dry!

Despite this, certain groups are clamoring for a Tebow-free Super Bowl. As someone who has the opportunity to erase a lot of e-mails from liberal advocacy groups, I’ve noticed a couple in the past few days asking me to tell CBS to refuse to air the ad. Christ. Part of me actually wants to take the time to open these e-mails, find a contact person, and type something like this,

“Dear Well-Intentioned Liberal Activist,

While we both agree on two things: (1) a woman’s right to chose;  and (2) that Tim Tebow’s skill-set does not transfer to the NFL-level, do you see the counter-productivity of fighting this stupid 30-second ad?

This is what Focus on the Family wants: to play the victim. If CBS adheres to your wishes and refuses to air the ad, F.O.T.F. will simultaneously portray themselves as victim of the nonexistent “Librul Media” and save $2.5 million. The ad will go viral and get more attention than if you just let them have their 30 seconds in the first place.

While I appreciate your zeal on behalf of American Women, maybe your energetic activism might be better applied to different avenues…

Finally, with Dwight Freeeny’s injury status, I’m really starting to like the Saints (+6). Where are you at on this?

Sincerely,

A Guy Who Ended Up On Your Mailing List”

But that’s just part one of the story: CBS ok’s Anti-Choice Advocacy Ad. Part Two: CBS refuses to run a commercial from the gay dating site mancrunch.com.

In the ad two sports fans are watching an NFL game and discover their mutual affection over a bowl of chips. They proceed to make out to the surprise of another sports fan watching nearby.

The official rejection letter from CBS offered a vague explanation for its refusal to run the ad.

“CBS Standards and Practices has reviewed your proposed Super Bowl ad and concluded that the creative is not within the Network’s Broadcast Standards for Super Bowl Sunday,” it stated. “Moreover, our Sales Department has had difficulty verifying your organization’s credit status.”

Earlier this week, CBS said it would only allow advocacy ads that were “responsibly produced.”

Think about this. This is too inappropriate for professional football? A sport with skin-tight pants and constant man-hugs and ass-slapping? A sport with positions like “Wide Receiver,” “Tight End,” and “Long-Snapper?” A sport where each play begins with a man thrusting his ass in the air, while another man (the QB) places his hands so close to the Center’s undercarriage that he can feel the heat emanating from his taint? (To be fair, the Saints & Colts do run a lot of “shotgun-sets.”)

This event’s halftime show has also featured such masculine icons as Prince & Michael Jackson.

Once again, too gay for the Super Bowl?

Second, this is not an advocacy ad. This is a commercial for a dating website. If this is an “advocacy” ad, then what does match.com advocate? The right for a couple desperate scrubs to get together out of fear of being alone? That’s more offensive to my sensibilities. (no offense, anyone.) Finally, the “credit status” of the company seems to be a complete cop-out, considering the company offered $2.5 million cash.

I think there’s only one conclusion to draw. The acceptance of the Tebow ad and the refusal to accept the $2.5 million from a gay dating site shows the incredible bias of our Conservative Media. I’m going to feign some outrage!

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