Californian Thrilled To Be Caught By The Fuzz While Carpooling With Corporate Person

CorporationNotPeopleSan Rafael, California resident Jonathan Frieman got pulled over in the carpool lane and ticketed in October, but, unlike most of us, Frieman was delighted and is looking forward to his day in court this week: it was all part of his plan to expose what he feels is the ridiculousness of the concept of “corporate personhood.”

Frieman has been into the idea of opposing corporate personhood since before it was “cool”: he’s been at it for more than ten years. For most folks, corporate personhood was not something discussed in much detail until after the unpopular 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United ruling, or perhaps until after Mitt Romney, while campaigning in 2011, cheerfully chirped at critics that he agreed that “corporations are people, my friend.”

As Wendell Potter from Citizens for Media and Democracy wrote in an article titled Corporations are People, My Friend, and So are States, Say GOPers:

While on the campaign trail in Iowa, former corporate executive and Republican governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney shot back at hecklers who were challenging his stance that it would be unfair and unwise to raise taxes on wealthy individuals and corporations to reduce the deficit.

“Corporations are people, my friend,” Romney said. “Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people. Where do you think it goes? Whose pockets? People’s pockets! Human beings, my friend.”

Democrats were quick to pounce. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, said of Romney’s remarks: “It is a shocking admission from a candidate — and a party — that shamelessly puts forward policies to help large corporations and the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the middle class, seniors and students.”

There are some legal reasons why corporations are considered to be “people.” Most of those reasons deal with how legal disputes are to be handled (in short, who / what can be sued), but in recent years, the amount of funds a corporate “person” can contribute to influence political campaigns (among other things) has been hotly debated.

A brief synopsis of corporate personhood-related court cases:

In 1907, The Tillman Act banned corporate contributions to national political campaigns. In 1971, The Federal Election Campaign Act sought to set guidelines for campaign financing, then in 1974, the Federal Election Commission was founded to regulate elections,  and campaign funding limitations were imposed (the amount of money donated, the types of entities allowed to contribute, the degree of disclosure of contributions and contributors, and the amount of funding the government would or could provide were all legally defined).

In 1976, Buckley v. Valeo enforced campaign contribution donation limits, but also tied expenditure of money used to support one or more candidates during their elections to First Amendment protections. In other words, groups of people claiming that spending money is legally equivalent to exercising free speech rights have been around for decades; it is not a new concept.

In 1978, First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti set precedent that claimed that corporations and other similar entities should be allowed to donate to other political causes that did not necessarily involve supporting a specific candidate, such as ballot initiatives and referendums. Again, this may ring a faint bell if you followed the trail of corporation and other money that flooded in to oppose the Prop 8 same-sex marriage initiatives in California. First National v. Bellotti made it perfectly legal.

In 1990, Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce supported the state of Michigan, which was attempting to keep corporations from using their wealth and resources to unfairly influence elections. In 2002, The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (also known as McCain–Feingold), prohibited corporations from buying advertising that specifically named candidates close to elections. In 2003, a similar court case–McConnell v. Federal Election Commission–upheld McCain–Feingold. In 2007, Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc. undercut McCain–Feingold, but (mostly) upheld McConnell.

Here’s where–for some, at least–corporate personhood became a discussion topic around water coolers at work. In 2010, not only did Democrats stay home from the polls and allow Congress to become infested with Tea Partiers and their ilk, SCOTUS also decided, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, that the First Amendment protects corporate “people” that might wish to donate freely to any candidates they liked, but also to allows them to flood the airwaves with “independent political broadcasts” during candidate elections (as well as, as already established, non-candidate elections such as Prop 8). Thus did SCOTUS render Austin invalid as it also partially overruled McConnell, making it practically toothless.

CorporationsRPeople

In 2011, then-candidate Mitt Romney infamously called corporations people when responding to hecklers in Iowa. Last year SCOTUS also ruled, in Western Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Attorney General of Montana, that Montana’s state law(s) against corporate financing pertaining to elections did not overrule Citizens United. To be clear, neither Buckley (in 1976) nor Citizens United (in 2011) specifically addressed corporate personhood; corporate personhood as a legal construct was already simply assumed.

Our Californian friend Mr. Frieman is clearly a patient man. It is implied that he has been diligently toting a sheaf of corporation papers around with him–at least when driving alone in carpool lanes–for at least a decade, boldly setting out to be a solo-driving carpool lane scofflaw as often as possible, all while hoping that one day a law enforcement officer would eventually notice only one head silhouetted within Frieman’s car…and issue him the traffic ticket that would allow Frieman to show up in court to dispute it. Finally, in October last year, Frieman was pulled over for ridin’ solo in the wrong lane and ticketed. Score! It only took ten years!

As NBC News reports:

He waved his corporation papers at the officer […] saying that “corporations are people” under California law. Frieman doesn’t actually support this notion. For more than 10 years, Frieman says he had been trying to get pulled over to get ticketed and to take his argument to court — to challenge a judge to determine that corporations and people are not the same. Mission accomplished in October, when he was slapped with a fine — a minimum of $481. […]

Frieman, who faces a traffic court on Monday, plans to tell the judge that this isn’t about carpool lanes; it’s about corporate power. “I’m just arresting their power and using it for my service to drive in the carpool lane,” he told NBC Bay Area’s Jean Elle.

University of San Francisco law professor Robert Talbot says Frieman’s argument may not hold up because it steers too far from the intent of carpool lane laws. “A court might say, ‘Well, it says person, and a corporation is a person, so that’ll work for the carpool lane,’” Talbot told NBCBayArea.com. “It’s possible, but I doubt it.”

Frieman explained his rationale further for the San Rafael Patch in May, 2011, long before he finally achieved his goal of being arrested last year:

You know how the carpool lane on 101 has those signs which say, “Carpool is two or more persons per vehicle?” Did that ever make you want to check out what the definition of a person is in the California Vehicle Code? It says “Person includes a natural person or corporation.” That’s wide enough to, ahem, drive a truck through. Not to mention a skinny little carpool lane.

Just imagine what THAT courtroom scene’ll be like: “Your honor, I got this ticket because Officer ‘so-and-so’ believed I was the only ‘person’ riding in my car in the carpool lane during the restricted hours where the sign says two ‘persons’ need to be in a vehicle. Officer ‘so-and-so’ did correctly espy only one human being in my vehicle. From that he mistakenly believes there was only one ‘person.’ But there were indeed at least two ‘persons’ in that automobile at that time. At least.

Why? Cuz the definition of a ‘person’ in the California vehicle code includes both a corporation and a natural person. Section 470. I had incorporation papers just to be safe, but here’s why I was safe without them: there’s no definition of a corporation in the California Constitution. Nothing in the California Corporations code defines a corporation, either. Why? Cuz a corporation is an imaginary entity. Sort of like a childhood playmate. […]

Your honor, according to the vehicle code definition and legal sources, I did have a ‘person’ in my car. But Officer ‘so-and-so’ believes I did NOT have another person in my car. If you rule in his favor, you are saying that corporations are not persons. I hope you do rule in his favor. I hope you do overturn 125 years of settled law. On the other hand, your honor, if you dismiss the ticket and say I am right, that means anyone can go into the carpool lane alone during restricted hours. That is, you are saying that everyone, riding alone in an automobile in the carpool lane during restricted hours, also has on board a corporation, or, under California law, a ‘person’ other than them.

Frieman is not the first to come up with a novel approach to protesting corporate personhood. As Addicting Info reported in July, a Seattle, Washington woman has already married a corporation (the video clips are charming and amusing, as are the special wedding vows):

Ms. Angela Vogel married a Corporate Person in a public ceremony in Seattle Washington. Officiated by United Methodist Pastor Rich Lang, the ceremony was of course a political statement on the dangers of Corporate Personhood. However, due to the Citizens United decision, the marriage was in fact issued a legal marriage license, making Ms. Vogel, Inc. now the first person in the United States to have married a Corporate Person. […] Sadly, for the happy couple, marital bliss was not to be, as it was determined earlier today that the marriage license could not be legal due to the Corporate Person being underage.

There is one serious flaw in Frieman’s clever plan: if the arresting officer fails to show up on the appointed day, Frieman’s carpool lane ticket may simply be dismissed, saving him $481, but robbing him of his long-awaited chance to have his day in court to express his opinion about corporate personhood to a judge.

Cartoonist Ted Rall's take on the subject.

Cartoonist Ted Rall’s take on the subject.

In the meantime, if you think Citizens United is ridiculous, and think corporate personhood is even more so, you don’t have to risk annoying a traffic cop, exasperating a judge, or marrying a Corporate Person yourself. You can keep up with what groups like Move to Amend are up to, you can tell your Congresscritters that you want them to seriously consider the amendment proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders, and you can support other similar efforts nationwide.


Lorelei welcomes you to visit Liberal Lore on FacebookTwitter or at Addicting Info.

Another Mass Shooting, Another Litany Of Pro-Gun Excuses.

Another mass shooting? You know what that means. We’ll discuss guns for a few days and then ignore the topic for the rest of the year (until the next mass shooting). Meanwhile, pro-gun people will swarm the Internet and TV channels pressing the usual old, tired talking points. We need to make absolutely sure we continue to learn nothing from this latest tragedy, all while wringing hands and expressing deep sorrow for the dead and bereaved. I tell you what…let’s cut to the chase, shall we? We’ve heard it all before. I bet news stations are dying to get back to covering really important things…like what the new Doritos flavor might be, the rad new films coming out this weekend at the Googleplex, or the latest crazy YouTube viral video.

A handy conservative / pro-gun person / gun nut trolling checklist:

1. Refuse to acknowledge correlation between gun culture with lax gun laws and constant news stories about mass murdering assholes shooting people.
2. Say nothing as pro-gun people decide, as always, to be the Civility Police and whine that the day to discuss gun issues is “not today.” But tomorrow isn’t good either. Yesterday? Nope: they’ll lie and say that these mass shootings are “rare” and that even considering a discussion about flaws with gun control in our country “punishes” responsible gun-owners! In short, it is never a good time to discuss the subject. Just how they like it.
3. Say nothing when pro-gun people bore and enrage us with the well-worn and grossly flawed assertion that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
4. Say nothing when pro-gun people start comparing a crazy Chinese man stabbing 22 kids with a knife (none of whom, as far as I know, died) to the Newborn and Clackamas tragedies, where people were injured AND died, pretending that the knifings in China are in any way equivalent to the constant gun violence and mass shootings in the U.S.
5. Say nothing as religious trolls like Mike Huckabee start blaming “godlessness” for gun violence. Because bad things never happen to devout Christians, no mass shooter ever has been a Christian, and prayer can definitely stop a madman from spewing bullets at your five-year-old child.
6. Mitt Romney should pop up any moment now to blame single moms for gun violence again, like he did during the Presidential debates. Oh, wait; no, he won’t, so you need to whine that Romney’s comment is completely irrelevant to the discussion because he lost the election, and ignore what it says about the GOP that they nominated someone who could say that with a straight face.
7. Say nothing when pro-gun people start protesting that they are “responsible,” ergo should not be deprived of the right to own multiple AK-47s or semi-automatics capable of spraying dozens if not hundreds of bullets into crowds.
8. Say nothing about pro-gun people clinging to 2nd Amendment and interpreting it with great creativity, although gun tech at the time the 2nd Amendment was drafted was restricted to primitive muskets and the like.
9. Express zero concern as pro-gun people claim they need to arm themselves against the government, etc., even though the government has and always will have access to greater and more destructive firepower than any one citizen can get access to. Also, we definitely need more anti-government kooks arming themselves to the teeth.
10. Nod agreeably as pro-gun people cite the few cases where a gun owner justifiably shot someone trying to rob, harm or kill them, while ignoring that there may hve been an option other than deadly force, and while ignoring the many cases where a gun was accessed by a small child or unstable pre-pubescent and fired, where suicidal or homicidal people turned to guns rather than psychiatric intervention, where a gun discharged unexpectedly and hurt or killed someone, where a gun turned a domestic violence incident into a homicide, where bullets fired from guns on holidays like New Year’s Eve or the Fourth of July wounded or killed an innocent party, where guns were stolen and used to commit more violent crimes, where guns were accessible to a mentally imbalanced or impaired adult, where adult white men used guns to shoot non-white teenagers dead over minor disagreements, where easy civilian gun access makes criminals even more dangerous, where easy civilian gun access gets our law enforcement officers shot dead, where heavy reliance on guns makes our law enforcement officers more likely to kill unarmed civilians, or where a gun escalated what might have been a less serious dispute into a deadly confrontation.
11. Refuse to discuss ties between politicians–usually conservatives–and donations to and from NRA.
12. Refuse to discuss who refused to support gun restrictions and reasonable legislation intended to reduce ease of access to guns.
13. Refuse to discuss reluctance to offer the mentally troubled access to the care or meds they might need. In fact, you should whine more about affordable healthcare that covers mental issues.
14. Refuse to discuss gun show loopholes.
15. Refuse to consider proposals to enforce gun owner responsibility while claiming to already be responsible enough.
16. Assert that more guns would have prevented the problem, because kindergarteners packing Glocks and teachers bringing guns to school (workplace) is a great idea.
17. Ignore that MI just passed legislation approving of guns in schools.
18. Pretend that the shooter(s) were just crazy, and that access to guns didn’t make their issues worse.
19. Pretend that discussing the inarguable gun proliferation in the U.S. is akin to “wanting to take away” everyone’s guns, or that discussing the problem is equal to “stomping on 2nd Amendment rights.”
20. Indulge pro-gun people’s fantasies that if they were on site with their guns during one of these frequent mass shootings, that they’d be a hero and stop the carnage.
21. Ignore NRA’s agenda (sell more guns) and allow them to set the tone of all discussions about guns.
22. Post on Twitter, if you are a comedian, about how your 1st Amendment rights are stomped on if people respond unpleasantly to your hilarious jokes about dead children.
23. Continue to glorify guns in pop culture.
24. Drag Jesus into it some more, demanding that everyone pray for the dead and bereft, and claiming that the shooter wouldn’t have been the shooter if only he really loved Jesus enough.
25. Interview traumatized little kids on TV who just survived a school shooting that killed their classmates and teachers.
26. Clutch pearls for an entire 24 hour news cycle, and then drop the subject the next time Snooki says something stupid or a celebrity wears a nice outfit.
27. Don’t forget to drag political animus into the discussion, so you can cloud the issue with your hatred of anything a “liberal” or President Obama says or does.
28. Give desperately-sought attention to nasty partisan hacks like Coulter asserting that “more guns = less violence.”
29. Blame “violent media” like films, TV, video games, cartoons, music for gun violence, rather than blaming easy access to guns for gun violence.
30. Be sure to publicly announce your plans to go out and buy yourself a new gun or three “to defend yourself.” Stay scared, buy more guns, refuse to go to a range or take any gun safety courses to familiarize yourself with your weapons, just buy more.
31. Insist on increased, intrusive security measures so our schools and workplaces are more and more like prisons, while ignoring that reducing the amount of guns would make that kind of security less necessary in the first place.
32. Try to blame the parents of the dead children for not choosing to home-school them, or the parents of the shooters for gun violence, so people stop talking about how gun violence is directly tied to guns.
33. Blame society as a whole for gun violence, so people stop talking about how gun violence is directly tied to guns.
34. Continue to resist background check laws, and ignore stats that indicate that background checks, requiring people to use gun locks and to lock up guns, restricting access to guns, restricting access to more powerful and destructive guns with bigger clips, and enforcing waiting periods are useful steps that reduce gun violence.
35. Above all, pretend that gun culture isn’t really a big problem, and that it is just a teeny, tiny handful of bad people causing all the problems…on a nearly weekly basis…while wielding guns…but, hey, that’s purely a coincidence.

I discussed this on Facebook and got some good replies. I’d like to single out these:

Comment by E***** A***** D*****: The one you missed is their citing Switzerland as a culture where gun violence is low but the government arms adults with firearms, meanwhile forgetting to mention those are persons who have completed compulsory military conscription who have to account for ammunition in sealed boxes, that Switzerland although guaranteeing the right to own a firearm by law has the most restrictive gun regulations (e.g., licence renewal every 5 years, need to prove the need to own a firearm – hunting, sport, etc., ammunition sold under strictest of regulations, any hint of domestic violence (past and likelihood) results in no licence and the list continues. They make the best argument for regulations without even being aware of it! If you ever see the meme for Switzerland as a reason for allowing Gun Ownership, merely comment. We accept your terms and conditions, and will model our laws to mirror their laws. Glad to oblige you Gun Owners!

Comment by L** F****: Yeah. The thing that amazes me is that people freak out about the idea of stricter gun regulations when the Second Amendment explicitly advocates keeping and bearing arms in the context of “a well-regulated militia.” Unless you have had military training and had no record of mental instability in the military, you should have to join a citizen run gun club in order to own a gun, where you get basic training, and attend meetings on at least some sort of regular basis. Besides the fact that more safety education and training will be its own reward, there’s the added advantage that you are training with a bunch of people who have the opportunity to observe your behavior. If someone is mentally unstable, likely a fellow club member would notice it and be able to take appropriate action as far as whether they should have access to guns. It would also give a lot of at-risk young men an opportunity to find mentors and other community members who can be role models for them. I love how all these people who advocate personal responsibility whine incessantly about their Second Amendment rights but completely ignore their Second Amendment responsibilities.

Attack Of The Glurgemonster

Everyone has received some weird e-mail spam at least once. The worst of the lot are so-called “inspirational” or “heart-warming” tales. If I want inspirational, I’ll read a biography about Gandhi or Helen Keller. If I want heart-warming, I’ll get take-out from Taco Bell and add lots of hot sauce.

My cousin S. is one of the worst offenders, frequently sending me Jesus-related spam. Jesus apparently doesn’t mind being misquoted and used to back the Conservative Christian political agenda. Who knew? I thought he was a long-haired, bearded Jewish hippie carpenter who liked feeding people, supporting being kind to your neighbors and offering free healthcare, and who wasn’t keen on money-changers, the rich, or government.

A cute little rant called “If I Were The Devil” (often falsely attributed to Paul Harvey) started circulating the Internet in 1999. Eventually a new rant from an opposing viewpoint was penned and circulated in response. So what would happen if we put both rants side by side, line by line? We’d have a SPAM FIGHT!

And it begins….now. (Remember, each point of view is saying what he or she would do IF The Devil actually existed, and IF s/he was The Devil. If you forget that part, the following makes little sense.)

CONSERVATIVE and LIBERAL, in unison: If I were the devil, I would gain control of the most powerful nation in the world;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would delude their minds into thinking that they had come from man’s effort, instead of God’s blessings;
LIBERAL: …I would delude their minds into thinking that a 3000-year-old collection of superstition and mythology called the ‘Bible’ was a more valid guide to the modern world than reason and science;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would promote an attitude of loving things and using people, instead of the other way around;
LIBERAL: …I would promote an attitude of valuing economic expansion and personal wealth over people and the environment, instead of the other way around;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would dupe entire states into relying on gambling for their state revenue;
LIBERAL: …I would dupe an entire population into placing the greatest tax burden on their poorest citizens;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would convince people that character is not an issue when it comes to leadership;
LIBERAL: …I would convince people that image rather than achievement was the most important issue when it comes to leadership;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would make it legal to take the life of unborn babies;
LIBERAL: …I would ensure that men maintained control over women’s bodies and sexuality;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would make it socially acceptable to take one’s own life, and invent machines to make it convenient;
LIBERAL: …I would make it socially acceptable to deny terminally ill patients the right to end their own lives with dignity, and instead force them to spend their final days in continual pain and suffering;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would cheapen human life as much as possible so that the life of animals are valued more than human beings;
LIBERAL: …I would promote the exploitation and suffering of animals as much as possible, so that business profits would be valued more than treating living things humanely;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would take God out of the schools, where even the mention of His name was grounds for a lawsuit;
LIBERAL: …I would coerce schoolchildren into worshiping my god and call it “freedom of religion”;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would come up with drugs that sedate the mind and target the young, and I would get sports heroes to advertise them;
LIBERAL: …I would come up with drugs that sedate the mind and target the old, and I would get B-list celebrities to advertise them and I would criminalize marijuana;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would get control of the media, so that every night I could pollute the mind of every family member for my agenda;
LIBERAL: …I would get control of the government by stealing elections and leading the country into unnecessary wars, so that I could twist the laws of the nation to suit my agenda;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would attack the family, the backbone of any nation.
LIBERAL: …I would attack minorities, foreigners, women, homosexuals, and every other powerless group, the backbone of any nation;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would make divorce acceptable and easy, even fashionable. If the family crumbles, so does the nation;
LIBERAL: …I would force couples to remain in unworkable marriages. Unhappy people are easier to control;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would compel people to express their most depraved fantasies on canvas and movie screens, and I would call it art;
LIBERAL: …I would suppress freedom of speech and expression, and I would call it protecting society;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would convince the world that people are born homosexuals, and that their lifestyles should be accepted and marveled;
LIBERAL: …I would convince the world that people choose to be homosexuals, and that their lifestyles should be reviled and demonized;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would convince the people that right and wrong are determined by a few who call themselves authorities and refer to their agenda as politically correct;
LIBERAL: …I would convince the people that right and wrong are determined by a few bigoted religious zealots who refer to their agenda as Christian;

CONSERVATIVE: …I would persuade people that the church is irrelevant and out of date, and the Bible is for the naive and I would dull the minds of Christians, and make them believe that prayer is not important, and that faithfulness and obedience are optional;
LIBERAL: …I would persuade people that the Bible, a book that condones xenophobia, slavery, subordination of women, and stoning people to death, is a relevant guide to modern life;

CONSERVATIVE and LIBERAL, in unison: I guess I would leave things pretty much the way they are.

Election 2012: FOUR MORE FOR #44! SUCK IT, MITTENS

Claire McCaskill–IN (beat Todd Akin)

Tammy Duckworth — IN (beat Joe Walsh)

Joe Kennedy III — IN

Tammy Baldwin — IN

Sherrod Brown — IN (beat Josh Mandel)

Kristin Gillibrand — IN

Elizabeth Warren — IN (beat Scott Brown)

Alan Grayson — IN

Joe Donnelly — IN (beat Richard Mourdock)

Martin Heinrich — IN

Maggie Hassan — IN

Grace Meng — IN

Patrick Murphy — IN (beat Allen West)

Princeton wonks and Nate Silver at 538, vindicated!

Gay marriage in more states! Yay!

Best of all:

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA IS IN.

I am so proud.

The voter suppression didn’t work. The dodgy electronic voter machine shenanigans failed. The constant lies, race-baiting, bigot-encouraging, cynical photo-ops, hatred for women, unions, minorities and the 47% from Romney failed. The Koch brothers failed. FOX News, failed. Rush Limbaugh, failed. Karl Rove, failed, Donald Trump, failed. Sean Hannity, failed. Glenn Beck, failed. Ann Coulter, failed.

THEIR BULLSHIT FAILED.

We the people, we won.

Some Of Bill Maher’s Best New Rules

Comedian Bill Maher’s “New Rules”:

New Rule: Stop giving me that pop-up ad for Classmates.com! There’s a reason you don’t talk to people for 25 years. Because you don’t particularly like them! Besides, I already know what the captain of the football team is doing these days: mowing my lawn.

New Rule: Just because your tattoo has Chinese characters in it doesn’t make you spiritual. It’s right above the crack of your ass. And it translates to “beef with broccoli.” The last time you did anything spiritual, you were praying to God you weren’t pregnant. You’re not spiritual. You’re just high.

New Rule: I don’t need a bigger mega M&M. If I’m extra hungry for M&Ms, I’ll go nuts and eat two.

New Rule: Airplane black boxes must now be made out of Keith Richards. The man, who has taken more drugs than Whitney Houston, Rush Limbaugh and Robert Downey, Jr., combined, recently fell out of a tree, and then crashed a jet ski. And yet, somehow, that cigarette never fell out of his mouth. What is this guy still running on? I’ve got to know. Because I’m beginning to think the future of medicine isn’t injecting stem cells, it’s injecting heroin.

New Rule: The more complicated the Starbucks order, the bigger the asshole. If you walk into a Starbucks and order a “decaf grande half-soy, half-low fat, iced vanilla, double-shot, gingerbread cappuccino, extra dry, light ice, with one Sweet-n’-Low and one NutraSweet,” ooh, you’re a huge asshole.

New Rule: Ladies, leave your eyebrows alone. Here’s how much men care about your eyebrows: do you have two of them? Okay, we’re done.

New Rule: There’s no such thing as flavored water. There’s a whole aisle of this crap at the supermarket — water, but without that watery taste. Sorry, but flavored water is called a soft drink. You want flavored water? Pour some scotch over ice and let it melt. That’s your flavored water.

New Rule: Stop fucking with old people. Target is introducing a redesigned pill bottle that’s square, with a bigger label. And the top is now the bottom. And by the time grandpa figures out how to open it, his ass will be in the morgue. Congratulations, Target, you just solved the Social Security crisis.

New Rule: If turning on my cell phone can bring down your commercial airliner, build a better plane. Right? I mean, the number of people who carry hand-held electrical devices these days equals the number of people who have hands. To give them all veto power over whether the other passengers live or die seems like a flaw in the system.

New Rule: The head of the CIA should be scary looking.

New Rule: When you marry Charlie Sheen, don’t be surprised when he turns out to be Charlie Sheen! We are talking about a guy who paid hookers by check. Marrying Charlie Sheen and getting mad he’s a freak is like electing two shills from the oil industry and getting mad when the price of gas goes up.

New Rule: No TV until you can hold up your own head. “Sesame Street” has released a new line of videos for kids as young as six months old. Which is a stupid business to get into considering what the competition is. [photo of infant breast-feeding shown]

New Rule: If you work at an office, you have to take a turn cleaning the office microwave. I opened ours the other day, and a bat flew out. The inside looks like a Jackson Pollock painting. The three settings are now, “Cook,” “Defrost” and “Hepatitis.” And if you’re not going to clean the damn thing, at least take out whatever is growing in there so we can harvest the stem cells.

New Rule: Don’t blame illegal immigrants for driving down wages. Blame Congress. Republicans in Congress have to stop saying that the problem with Mexicans coming over the border is they keep wages down. You know what keeps wages down? The fact that Congress hasn’t raised the minimum wage since 1997. 1997, when my dealer still had a beeper! Car dealer, car dealer, what did I say? Yes, news flash: Congress controls what the minimum wage is. Who did you think it was, the valet parking team at Tony Roma’s? And upping the minimum wage would affect wages. It has to. The word “wage” is right in it. Even George Bush could understand that. Maybe not. The point is, the elephant in the room is that no one can live on minimum wage, and that we are making a whole swath of our society – tens of millions of people – live like animals. So that the luckier segment can live with indulgences their parents never dreamed of. Do you know that most upper-middle-class people nowadays never clean their own toilet or do their own laundry…until they go to rehab. Adjusted for inflation, the minimum wage is actually lower than it was in 1968, the year George Bush graduated from Yale. And that is unforgivable! And the wage thing is bad, too. People like to tell themselves that these immigrants do the jobs Americans won’t do. Not true. Americans will pick fruit in the hot sun. But not at $5.15 an hour.

New Rule: Drug companies have to stop making up diseases! I don’t know – I don’t know what the terrorists are planning next for America, but if I had every problem they talk about in medicine commercials: breathing, lifting, walking, sitting, sleeping, crapping, not crapping, getting a boner and male pattern menopause—I would welcome death. Bring it on! Deadly nerve gas? Please, I’ve got seasonal allergies! I mean, it seems like every time I turn on the TV these days, I see some ad for some drug I never heard of, to treat some disease I never heard of. That’s not a stomach ache you have from eating the chili-cheese fries at Johnny Rockets, it’s Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Or I.B.S. Or as I call it, “B.S.” Which would also apply to the dreaded “Social Anxiety Disorder.” Or as we used to call it, “shyness.” And we treated it with an old home recipe: scotch and water. Your wife doesn’t get turned on? Well, it couldn’t be because you’re a snowman-shaped sausage casing–so full of beer you sweat hops. It’s because she has “Female Sexual Dysfunction.” And before they came up with “Restless Leg Syndrome,” did that even exist? Did you ever hear someone say, “Sorry I couldn’t make the party, Bill. The old restless leg was acting up.” You know, next time you have an uncontrollable urge to move your feet, maybe you should just…move your feet! Your feet are trying to tell you the same thing your dog is trying to tell you when he’s been cooped up in the house all day: “I want to go for a walk!” But be careful. Now, just in the last two years, the “medicines” that have made the headlines under the category “Take two and call me in the morning if you’re still alive,” include Vioxx, Ambien, Zyprexa, Ortho Evra, Prempro, Zoloft, Paxil, Ephedra, Celebrex and Fosamax. And yet it was marijuana last week that was declared by the FDA to have no known medical value. Actually, what marijuana has is no known lobbying value. And, yes – yes, back in 1999, when we still believed in science, the National Academy of Science said what millions already knew from practical use, that weed is useful in treating pain, nausea and weight loss. And that lab rats exposed to it were 38% more likely to forget the maze and just kick it old school.

New Rule: Keep Jesus out of strip clubs. A former dancer from Las Vegas has founded “JC’s Girls,” a ministry that brings the healing power of the Lord directly to America’s strip clubs and adult businesses. Do you people have to ruin everything? You’ve got the White House, the Congress, the Supreme Court. Can’t you leave us heathens a couple of titty bars out by the airport? The only good news a guy wants to hear in a strip club is, “Sure you can touch me there.” Or so I’ve heard.

New Rule: If you want to live the American dream, move to Europe. According to a new study, climbing up the economic ladder in this country is much harder than in just about every other wealthy nation. If you’re born poor here, you pretty much stay that way. And fat-cat catering Republicans get poor people to vote for them because they get them to vote their dreams, not their self-interests. That’s why lots of people of modest means are all for getting rid of the estate tax, a tax which affects one percent of us, the richest one percent of us. You know, the ones with estates. A category also familiar by the name, “Not you.” You know, America has a lottery mentality. We think we can party till we’re 40, fail in business after business, and then somehow wind up as president of the United States. Okay, bad example. But our philosophy does come from the lottery. Hey, you never know! Yes, I do. In America, if you’re not born rich, you’ll die tryin’, bitch. Because you’re not going to win the lottery. You’re not going to inherit a fortune from a distant relative. Or marry a prince. Or get that call from Hollywood saying they’re making a movie out of your MySpace page.

New Rule: I’m not the cashier! By the time I look up from sliding my card, entering my PIN number, pressing “Enter,” verifying the amount, deciding, no, I don’t want cash back, and pressing “Enter” again, the kid who is supposed to be ringing me up is standing there eating my Almond Joy.

New Rule: People who run everything can’t complain that they’re underdogs. To whit, this week, there was a highly-attended conference in Washington called “The War on Christians.” Because nothing quite says “I’m oppressed,” like the opulent Regency Ballroom of the Omni Shoreham Hotel. Ah, yes, whatever happened to that plucky little cult, Christianity? Oh, that’s right, they’re 80% of the American people, and have taken over all three branches of government, country music, public schools, the bestseller list, and until recently, Katie Holmes. You know, Christians, I don’t mind that you’re part of a dress-up cult that hates sex and worships magic but the paranoia, that does scare me. Did you know that the Missouri legislature recently felt the need to propose a resolution declaring Christianity Missouri’s majority religion. No kidding. Really, you mean people aren’t saying, “Gosh, I’d like to go to Missouri, but…it’s too Jewish.” […] The Christian right are now officially the party of paranoia. Secularists are attacking Christmas! Gays are attacking marriage! Liberals are attacking values! White girls are being abducted at an alarming rate! You know, if you’re going to be that paranoid all the time, just get high. And the worst part is, the people bitching loudest about being persecuted for their Christianity aren’t Christians at all. They’re demagogues and conmen and scolds. And the only thing they worship is power. If you believe Jesus ever had a good word for war or torture or tax cuts for the rich, or raping the earth, or refusing water to dying migrants, then you might as well believe bunnies lay painted eggs. And Jesus – and Jesus never said a word about gay marriage. He was much too busy hanging out with 12 guys.

New Rule: This one is long overdue: No more bathroom attendants. After I zip up, some guy is offering me a towel and a mint like I just had sex with George Michael. I can’t even tell if he’s supposed to be there, or just some freak with a fetish. I don’t want to be on your webcam, dude. I just want to wash my hands.

New Rule: When I ask how old your toddler is, I don’t need to know in months. “27 Months.” “He’s two,” will do just fine. He’s not a cheese. And I didn’t really care in the first place.

New Rule: There’s no such thing as a “gateway” candy. Legislators in Georgia are seeking a ban on “pot-flavored” candy, calling it a “gateway” product to other drugs. Okay, now you’re high. And, kids, listen to Uncle Bill: if you’re smoking pot for the taste, you’re doing it wrong.

New Rule: Stop saying you’re resigning because you want to spend more time with your family or because you want to return to the private sector, or because of your health. That’s all just code for “I’m about to be indicted.”

New Rule: Bluetooth headset users have to do something that lets me know you’re just on the phone and not a dangerous schizophrenic. Right? We don’t know if you’re talking to your secretary or the evil leprechaun who lives in your head. You’re not the chief communications officer of the Starship Enterprise. You’re a shoe salesman asking your mom if you can bring over your laundry.

New Rule: Powerball Jackpot winners must stop saying they’re not sure if they’re going to quit their jobs. Of course you’re going to quit your job. And I have news for you. Your co-workers want you to quit your job. Nobody wants to be on the pork-processing line next to the unbearable ass in the Gucci smock.

New Rule: Since our new national position on science is, “Screw it, we prefer witchcraft,” let’s not just retire the Space Shuttle Atlantis. Let’s drive it to one of the five stupidest states and have the locals beat it with sticks. Putting it in a museum is too dangerous. Someone could steal it, fly it into space and notice we revolve around the sun.

New Rule: Stop giving free stuff to the Oscar presenters. This year, the Oscar gift bag is worth $110,000! Rich movie stars don’t need that kind of clutter. Between the jewels, the shoes, the iPods and the skis, there’s barely room in Tom Cruise’s closet for Tom!

New Rule: If churches don’t have to pay taxes, they also can’t call the fire department when they catch fire. Sorry, Reverend, that’s one of those services that goes along with paying in. I’ll use the fire department I pay for; you can pray for rain. Oh, I’m going to get letters on that one.

New Rule: The only drug sold at Wal-Mart should be pot in the parking lot. Wal-Mart has announced that they will now dispense the “morning-after” contraceptive pill, because nothing says to a young lady, “I really care,” like a trip to Wal-Mart. Besides, Wal-Mart shoppers already have access to the most effective form of birth control: watching how children behave at Wal-Mart.

New Rule: Mormons should just be happy that Scientology came along and made them the second-weirdest.

‘…But The Political Parties Are Both The Same So I Am Not Voting!’

‎”I’m not going to vote. What’s the difference between Romney and Obama, anyway?”

Ignoring, for a moment, how unintelligent people sound when they say stupid shit like that, let’s pause for a second and think of some differences between the candidates.

Why vote? Well, I don’t know about YOU, but I’m going to vote for the candidate who isn’t trying to shove a vaginal probe up my private parts, has not vowed to kill Planned Parenthood, is less likely to start a war in Iran, doesn’t want to kill healthcare for the needy, does not hate on the gays, does not oppose equal rights, won’t protect the wealthiest 1% from paying their fair share of taxes, doesn’t support Citizens United, won’t ignore infrastructure problems, won’t sell off our national parks and forests to the highest bidder, who won’t protect polluters, who won’t deny federal aid for communities affected by natural disasters, who won’t deny students a chance at a college education because they are not independently wealthy, who won’t give free reign to religious bigots trying to erode Separation of Church and State, who doesn’t believe that corporations are people, who doesn’t believe that money is the same as free speech, who is not actively trying to disenfranchise voters, who supports the DREAM act, who won’t screw the poorest and most helpless in our society, and who won’t gut social services and education. I’m going to vote for the guy who has released his tax returns. I’m going to go for the guy who does not take quotes from his opponent and edit them out of context to tell lies in his adverts.

I will vote for the guy (Obama, to be clear) who is responsible for:

  • The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
  • The Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010
  • The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare, or the ACA)
  • The Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
  • Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010
  • The Budget Control Act of 2011
  • Ending the war in Iraq
  • A new START arms control treaty with Russia
  • Capturing / killing Osama Bin Laden

What about Romney?

  • A member of the same political party that endorses all that crap I already said I was not in favor of
  • Worked at Bain, but tells conflicting stories about when he actually left a position of responsibility. It looks like he was there for three years after he claimed he was.
  • Worked for the Salt Lake City Olympics, but all correspondence related to his tenure there has been destroyed.
  • Was Governor of Massachussetts, but all correspondence related to his tenure there has been destroyed and all the computer hard drives wiped.
  • Panders to ignorant Birthers and the hyper-religious
  • Has not, as far as I can tell, ever taken even one stand on an issue that he has not flip-flopped on later for political expediency
  • Lies his ass off constantly (oh, wait, that’s not an accomplishment; my bad)

Also, I am going to vote for the guy that the Koch brothers are not actively trying to purchase the White House for.

Check out the big brain on Brad!

So, no…I’m not going to use laziness or disinterest in doing my civic duty keep me from getting informed about how the two front runners are NOT the same and then using my self-imposed ignorance of the candidates and issues as an excuse not to vote. Neither should you.

Another take on this, from “Diamond Rain” on Facebook:

“To all the people who insist all the candidates are the same, there is no difference between them — which is clearly not true… the proof is in seeing how they vote, in the case of a legislator or a judge, and the huge differences between the policies they enact in the case of a president — but if you think there is no difference, then what do you suggest we do to preserve and better the Republic? Not vote?

Someone is going to be the next president. Saying there is no difference between [Romney] and Obama is not only wrong, but it is worse than a useless contribution because it suggests that the democracy is ineffective and there is no point participating. As far as I am concerned, those who take the position that there is no difference between the parties and/or the candidates are:

1. Wrong.

2. Doing the country a disservice and

3. Are either:

a: On the losing side and trying to convince others to stay home and not vote because they are desperate to find a way to win or;

b. Too lazy to educate themselves in the vast differences between parties and candidates and would rather get a few cheap applause from others who are also too lazy and want to use that as an excuse to do nothing and take no position.

Ignorance is easy. Learning is not.”

So don’t be an asshole. Educate yourself. Pick a candidate. Do your civic duty. Vote.

Republicans Think Unemployed Women Need Ladylike Manners and Charm School Lessons

New York State Senator Marty Golden wants unemployed women to take “Posture, Deportment and the Feminine Presence” classes. Yes, he is a Republican. This is what he is promoting, rather than “equal pay for equal work” or job-creating legislation. I am guessing that this is because he is a big misogynistic idiot, but maybe I am just not in touch enough with my Feminine Presence to understand his manly wisdom and brilliance.

 

 So. Is this the new Republican “thing”? Thinking that ladies need to know how to walk around with books on their heads more than they need equal pay for equal work, the right as adults to make their own healthcare and reproductive choices, or not to be deemed a “pre-existing medical condition” because they have vaginas?

As a PROTIP, Republicans, I WAS brought up with “deportment classes” because I was supposed to be a debutante. I never mastered the “book on head” thing, but I know how to properly comport myself at a formal dinner and which arcane bit of silverware to use when, how to introduce two dignitaries to each other properly, how to cross my ankles and get into and out of cars in a lady-like fashion, ballroom dancing, all those old fashioned rules about what not to wear when, how to curtsey, when to remove your white gloves and when not to, and all those so-called “lady skills”. I own several etiquette books and I read them all. Guess what? THIS STUFF DOES NOT GET YOU A JOB, and, in fact, will often make your bosses and co-workers uncomfortable if you behave like an old-fashioned, mannerly, etiquette-knowledgeable lady these days.

Look, guys, “Lady Skills”–much like insisting upon speaking correctly and using proper spelling and grammar–often make your bosses and co-workers feel uncomfortable. It is sad but true. Consider these skills to be nice “cherry on top” life skills, but don’t pretend that people are going to understand or appreciate your new “Proper Lady Graces”, because they are going to think you are fucking weird. Trust me on this. I have gotten more shit from my peers for behaving properly and with respect towards others and following etiquette and deportment rules than I have doing anything else in life. THEY DO NOT GET IT. THEY THINK YOU ARE A NUTBAR. THEY DO NOT APPRECIATE IT. Sometimes it even makes them feel bad about themselves. How does this help you get a job, really? Do you think balancing a textbook on your head is a life skill someone is willing to pay for? It isn’t.

About the debutante thing: I told the Cotillion / “debutante mill” people to go fuck themselves and refused to make my debut because they did not allow non-white or non-Christian debutantes. If my friends weren’t allowed the same privileges and Society didn’t deem them presentable or want to meet them, then I had no time to waste on being presented to that Society. It was and is not a Society I want to be a part of. Fuck them.

Look. It is an accident of birth that I qualify to belong to Colonial Dames or Daughters of the American Revolution, and I don’t meant to disparage those groups at all. Truly, I am not. I’m just saying that it doesn’t make me “better” than anyone that my ancestors got here earlier than someone else’s, or that they did so as wealthy landowners or businesspeople and not as someone’s “property.” It is an accident of birth that my ancestors made a mark on history (for instance, my nieces are going to grow up knowing they are related to Meriwether Lewis and John and Abigail Adams and people that several counties in Arkansas and Georgia were named after, just as a small sampling, and maybe it will inspire them to be excited by history, as a bonus), and I am proud of them too, but I can’t take credit for their accomplishments, if you know what I mean.

I do not consider it my greatest accomplishment in life to have the accidental fortune to be born white and upper-middle class. I can take no credit for those things.

Anyway, fuck these people and their Feminine Presence classes bullshit. I’m living proof that it is just a distraction and something that will NOT help you get employed, especially if there are NO JOBS. It won’t help women get fair pay. It won’t do anything but annoy and insult a bunch of unemployed women and teach them skills of dubious value in this day and age who would be better served using that time applying to more jobs instead.

Thus endeth my rant.