Saturday, November 5, 2011

Last Call

Rachel Maddow surmises that Herman Cain's campaign is nothing more than just performance art.

Ticking off a list of Cain’s numerous gaffes, unintentionally (or not!) bizarre statements and pop culture-derived policy ideas, Maddow said she’s convinced Cain isn’t seriously running for President.

“It is one thing to be a gaffe-prone, inexperienced candidate. But the gaffes are too perfect,” Maddow said.

“Black walnut, noted for it’s ‘staying power,’ doesn’t exist anymore. The book chapter on the magic number. The 9-9-9 thing from the video game. The great poet Pokemon. Pokemon? Really? A Pokemon movie? Really?” she said. “A string of supposed gaffes like that is not found in nature. But at this point in the campaign no one has figured out that this is not politics. This is art.”

“Is this guy pulling our leg? The answer is ‘yes,’ this guy is pulling our leg.”

It's a valid theory, but Herman Cain needs to be taken deadly seriously, as do all the GOP candidates. Worse case scenario is that one of them may become President. At the very least, Cain has already made his influence on the rest of the crowd with his flat tax nonsense mucking up the actual debate we need to be having about fixing the economy.

If the Democrats decide there's political benefit to going down this road, Cain's performance art will have very real and very painful consequences for millions of Americans.  Dismissing Cain as a joke is all well and good, but let's remember to do so on the merits (or lack of them) rather than just pointing and laughing and saying "Boy these people are idiots, there's nothing for us to worry about."

Or are we forgetting 2010, Rachel?

Penn State Of Denial

As much as the arguments about looking the other way while NCAA athletics programs pay athletes under the table (meaning at least these kids get a small slice of the pie that these major programs rake in for universities) are valid ones, the culture of lawlessness that these programs create has very real consequences.

Documents indicating that criminal charges are being filed against former Penn State football coach and Second Mile founder Jerry Sandusky were posted to the Pennsylvania court system website Friday afternoon.

The documents listed 40 charges of sex offenses involving minors as being filed against Sandusky, 67, on Friday. The documents show the case is assigned to District Judge Leslie Dutchcot in Ferguson Township, but employees at her office said no charging documents had been received by the time it closed at 5 p.m.

Sandusky has been the subject of a state grand jury investigation for the past two years. The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News in March broke the story of the investigation, reporting that it began in 2009, when a 15-year-old told authorities that Sandusky had inappropriate contact with him over a four-year period, starting when he was 10.

Calls to the state Attorney General’s Office Friday were not returned. Sandusky’s attorney, Joseph Amendola, also could not be reached.

The charges against Sandusky include one made during his final four years at Penn State under Joe Paterno, as well as the following eight years after he left the program in retirement as he spent time as head of the charity for kids he had founded called Second Mile, and the charges are supposedly pretty brutal, dozens of counts against Sandusky are to be filed.

Innocent until proven guilty of course, but this raises all kinds of questions about Penn State and Second Mile, very uncomfortable ones.

Republican Block Buster

I'm hoping this means Senate majority leader Harry Reid is deep into mind games mode to try to coax the GOP into yet another "sabotage the economy" trap of their own volition, but I'm leaning more towards Republicans dropping anvils on their own feet.

Senate Democrats are teeing up yet another vote next week on a provision of President Obama’s jobs bill. This time with a twist — they’re not going to ask that it be paid for with a surtax on millionaires.

They’re calling this one the “Vow to Hire Heroes Act of 2011.” A version of it passed the House on an overwhelmingly bipartisan basis last month. It would offer a tax credit to companies that hire out of work veterans and increase an existing credit that already goes to companies that hire veterans with service-related disabilities. Dems propose to cover the $1.6 billion cost of the bill by delaying fee reductions that are scheduled to apply to mortgage loans guaranteed by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

They also plan to attach the bill to separate, House-passed legislation to repeal a requirement that the IRS withhold three percent of payments from major contracts, in order to encourage compliance with the tax code. 

It won't get a single Republican vote, of course.  Republicans know that if the economy improves even modestly at this point after going all in on efforts to sabotage it, they are absolutely done.  There's nothing left for them to do but continue their efforts to ruin the economy and blame Obama by obstructing every possibly beneficial piece of economic legislation, period.

The question is when both sides know exactly what the GOP's move will be, will the Democrats take advantage of it?  So far they've done a much better job of that in the last three months and it shows in the latest poll numbers for both the President and for Democrats in Congress, as the President's numbers have started to improve and Democrats are now ahead on the generic congressional ballot among registered voters.

That means 2012 will of course come down to turnout versus GOP voter suppression efforts.  Know the registration information and voter ID laws in your state, then fight them.  They are there to keep you from voting, period.

Welcome To Camp WTF

As you read this with dawning horror, I hope you keep two things in mind.  First, after this situation came to light these people were put in charge of kids that were even younger, and when that was an epic fail they got different jobs with the town.  In other words, nothing came of this.  Nothing at all.

A mother becomes suspicious when her daughter won't tell her what happened at camp that day, and admits she was ordered to keep it a secret.

The girls said they’d played a game called “What would you do for an ice cream bar?” where campers were split into groups and were rewarded with treats for completing various tasks.

First, her daughter told her she’d licked the inside of a porta-potty wall.

“The counsellor said if you do that, you can earn an ice cream bar,” she said her daughter told her.

The mother said she tried not to overreact. She told her daughter she could have gotten sick.

But then the story continued.
“And then she said, a girl laid down, she pulled up her top, I spit in her belly button and someone else drank it,” the mother said. “So they were doing body shots with spit.”

Her daughter told her other kids did worse for an ice cream snack — pole dancing without pants on and running around the outdoor camp with their shorts on their heads.

One girl sucked the toe of a male counsellor hired to work with special-needs campers, she said.

The camp's reaction was to have a "talking to" and removed the game from the curriculum.  Pole dancing in their underwear?  I wish I was joking.  I actually pulled Snopes on this just to check, and found backup with the Huffington Post.  HuffPo actually included a snippet from a camp newsletter:

"aims to provide the most incredible camp experience that the Town of Markham has to offer. We strive to keep the grounds of Chimo an extraordinary place for the birth of new friendships and memories, and also strive to create an environment where teamwork, leadership and motivation flourish."

Words fail me, but my ball bat sure would have done the trick.

Hallway Hug Gets Student Suspended

Let's apply a bit of common sense here:

Two Florida middle-school teens were suspended this week for a brief hug in the hallway.

Florida Today reports that Southwest Middle eight-grader Nick Martinez, 14, was suspended Nov. 1 when the principal of the Palm Bay, Fla., school in Brevard County witnessed him hugging his best female friend.

Brevard school officials and principal Todd Scheuerer said Martinez violated the school's longtime, no-hug policy, which is in the student handbook and online.

Martinez's mother, Nancy Crescente, tells WKMG-TV that she was "livid" about the punishment, and even the principal told WKMG that the hug was innocent.

This is why zero tolerance is an epic fail. It excuses the administration from having to look and think about the facts before making a judgment. In this case, the students who hugged were both okay with it... so why is this a bad thing? I can understand if she felt uncomfortable, but a "no hug" rule is ridiculous, and surely not helpful to the students who are under the rule.

When the principal even admits it is an innocent hug, that's enough to tell me this is bogus. We want kids to learn how to act appropriately, and when parting ways with a friend a hug can be appropriate.

Just for clarity let's look at it this way: bullying and hate speech can go under the radar, but a hug cannot. Something mighty wrong is going on.

Your Saturday Guide To Guy Day, Guys

TPM has your list of other Guy Fawkes Day "celebrations" this weekend as both Anonymous and Occupy Together have a number of things planned.

This year, a number of distinct but somewhat overlapping quasi-political protest events against banks, media companies and a Mexican drug cartel have been planned for November 5, 2011 by various groups, including various people working under the name of the hacktivist collective Anonymous, the Occupy Wall Street protesters and one woman dedicated to undermining the nation’s largest banks. Even MTV is getting in on the action.

Whether any of the plans come to fruition - and if so, to what extent - remains to be seen. After all, last November 5, 2010, passed without much action.

Still, whatever happens, there’s no denying that the day, formerly not widely celebrated outside of England, has gained currency around the Web in the last five years as the hacktivist collective Anonymous has grown, with self-identifying Anonymous members adopting and promoting the symbolism of the Guy Fawkes mask worn by the vigilante main character in “V for Vendetta,” a seminal Alan Moore graphic novel turned Hollywood movie about said vigilante’s violent guerilla war against a futuristic totalitarian U.K. government. 

Still, it will be interesting to see if Operation Fox Hunt and Bank Transfer Day are successful (or if they're even noticed.)  Somehow I think both of them will be more than most people expect, but we'll see what happens on whether the Village actually reports on it or not.  Personally, I think FOX will gladly use Anonymous to tie to Obama as thugs and will do so for the rest of the campaign season.  It's right up their "Obama/ACORN/OWS/NBPP Axis of blackity black blackness coming for your nubile white daughters in the night" alley to play that particular victim card.

Keep an eye on it.  Because frankly, if FOX's online propaganda arm was shut down for a while as people realized that FOX News is not, in fact, a news organization but the media division of the GOP and its corporate masters, then maybe the country could heal a bit as Steve M. suggests.

Then again, FOX does like to overplay its hand.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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