Category: Politics

New T-Shirt Day #2.5

Rainbow roll print using orange and red
Rainbow roll print using orange and red
Glow in the dark UFOs attack monster
Glow in the dark UFOs v. Monster

The factory has just produced  a new batch of shirts. A run of twelve white tees with the Robot Fight image in a red-orange-red rainbow roll. And a few army green shirts with the new glow-in-the-dark UFO v. Monster image.

In order to sell shirts in certain places, I need to create a “political” shirt that satisfies a freedom of expression clause in NYC’s laws covering t-shirt mongers such as myself. So I think I’ll be re-working this image of an elephant giving the finger. I think that should count, yes?

Pres. Obama’s address to schoolkids

I’m mortified that the school district where I grew up has opted not to show the President’s speech (transcript). So I wrote an angry letter to the Superintendent and our local paper:

Dr. Theron J. Schutte,

As a graduate of BHS, a student School Board representative (’85), and News Editor of the Growl (’86), I was shocked to hear that the Bettendorf Community School District would not be showing the President’s speech during class time.

It is deeply embarrassing to me that BCSD would buy into the idea that somehow President Obama’s speech is controversial. The outcry is rooted solely in right-wing paranoia and the ravings of TV pundits/lunatics. BCSD, by limiting Obama’s address, gives credence to outlandish partisan fears that the speech will “indoctrinate” our youth. This would be comically laughable, except that it shows what little faith the district has in Bettendorf’s students, teachers, and the quality of education that you provide.

Regardless of what the actual content of the President’s speech is, it provides teachers with a rare opportunity to engage students in a lesson in civics. Did BCSD refuse to show former President Bush’s address to school children in 1991?

In my opinion, restricting ANY Presidential address seems anathema to providing a quality education. If the District is kowtowing to “concerned” parents with regressive (read: racist) political views, then you have stewarded BCSD onto a slippery slope. Will the District in the future stop teaching that the world is round based on parental pressure? Will you move the District away from teaching about evolution? Is future BCSD curricula to be decided by mob rule?

BCSD, like any school district, is charged with educating students by encouraging the free exchange of ideas and information. If you and the rest of the District’s decision makers are unable to stand up to base political pressure from a vocal and cynical minority, then I would strongly encourage you to consider retirement.

Superintendent Schutte emailed me this reply today:

A couple things played into my decision to leave the viewing and/or use of the President’s message up to the discretion of the Buildings and/or teachers. One was that for some reason, we received very late notice, in comparison to other schools, that this event was taking place. The first we heard of it was this Thursday though other Districts received email notification 3-4 weeks ago. I did not feel it was appropriate to direct a mandatory viewing and have each building and/or classroom adjust their schedules, on such short notice, for this purpose. I felt comfortable with that position, given the nature of the presentation, that it could be used at any time, especially in the near future, and would have its desired impact. I also felt that with one message geared to Kindegarten thru College Prep students that it may be deemed more appropriate to use certain portions of the message with particular age groups and/or classes vs. showing the whole message. I appreciate your input.

Noted Without Comment

Steven Pearlstein, Republicans Propagating Falsehoods in Attacks on Health-Care Reform,  in today’s Washington Post:

“The recent attacks by Republican leaders and their ideological fellow-travelers on the effort to reform the health-care system have been so misleading, so disingenuous, that they could only spring from a cynical effort to gain partisan political advantage. By poisoning the political well, they’ve given up any pretense of being the loyal opposition. They’ve become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems.”

Angry Mob Inc.

This angry mob brought to you by the GOP, Conservatives for Patients Rights and health insurance lobbyists. Any similarity to an actual grassroots movement is purely coincidental. Agitate only as directed. May cause high blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, boils, angry face, loss of democracy and numbness of the brain. If outrage lasts more than four hours, contact your representative immediately and ask for a public option.

Update: If you try calling the RNC number listed in the ad, the automated voice asks you to press “1” if you’re calling about the Town Halls. According to Americablog and the Huffington Post, this will lead to your being disconnected, as apparently, the RNC doesn’t want to hear from anyone upset at their thuggishness. Instead, press “2” and give ’em hell.

Lobbying from the Dark Side

Talking Points Memo is following a breaking story out today about Bonner and Associates, a lobbying organization who have admitted that a temp employee of theirs sent out letters opposing climate change legislation to Congresspeople with forged letterheads which made it seem like they were coming from grassroots groups like the NAACP and Creciendo Juntos.

Part of an Ongoing Effort?
In 2002, in response to complaints that Bonner and Associates was sending out misleading faxes to minority non-profits, founder Jack Bonner said “It’s a great exercise in the First Amendment.” Bonner’s lobbying firm was working for Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) at the time to kill legislation aimed at lowering the cost of prescription drugs for Medicaid recipients.

In 2006, Bonner and Associates assisted an astroturf organization, 60 Plus Association, which fought legislation in New Mexico, Minnesota and Maine which would lower prescription drug costs. The 60 Plus Association, as well as Senior Coalition and United Seniors Association, were later revealed in this AARP newsletter article to be front groups for the pharmaceutical industry (including Pfizer, Merck and Wyeth-Ayerst).

Congress is set to probe the forged letters, so I expect we will be hearing more about deceitful lobbying industry practices in the future. Something to be aware of during the month of August as lobbyists come out in force to kill health care reform and the public option.

See related front groups: Health Benefits Coalition, DCI Group’s Coalition to Protect Patients’ Rights, Conservatives for Patients’ Rights,