Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Last Call

We com not to praise Nebraska's Ben Nelson and his Senate career, but to bury it as he screws over the Democrats one last time.  Steve Benen:

Democratic leaders from the White House and Capitol Hill pleaded with Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), asking him to run for re-election for one main reason: the party is desperate to keep its Senate majority and it has no one else to run in Nebraska.

As is often the case, Nelson is letting his party down.

Oh, it gets worse.  Nelson chooses now to retire, after the Dems had bought six figures in ads to help him keep his seat, and well too late to find a replacement.  And let's not forget what he leaves behind:

Nelson has voted with the right many times over the last couple of years — even on filibusters — offering Republicans cover on a wide range of issues. When pressed, Nelson would often tell his Democratic allies the votes were necessary to bolster his re-election bid. Now that he’s leaving, Nelson’s votes with Republicans appear to have no value at all.

That said, Nelson’s record wasn’t all bad. In 2009, after nearly balking many times, he stuck with his party on the Affordable Care Act and the Recovery Act. Those proved critical, and both measures would have failed without his vote. As exasperating as Nelson has been, he never drifted so far to the right that he was more conservative than Republicans.

He was a Democrat...barely.  His replacement will almost certainly be a teabagging mouth-breather who will vote with the Democrats a grand total of zero times. This makes Ben Nelson, as rotten as he was, an improvement over, well, this guy.

I'd prefer Ben Nelson, thanks.

Moving Forward At Your Own Perry-il, Part 13

I'm not 100% sure I have the gist of things here, but it looks to me that Rick Perry is trying to energize his all but dead campaign for President by saying "Vote for me, I'll remove the checks and balances on the Oval Office!"

Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s latest campaign advertisement in Iowa calls for a part-time Congress and knocks four fellow GOP presidential hopefuls who’ve served there.

“If Washington’s the problem, why trust a congressman to fix it? Among them, they’ve spent 63 years in Congress, leaving us with debt, earmarks, and bailouts. Congressmen get $174,000 a year and you get the bill,” an announcer in the 30-second ad says.

A recent Gallup poll found that more Americans are dissatisfied with Congress than ever before. The governing body is now set to end 2011 with the lowest one-time approval rating in its history: 11 percent. Their annual average for 2011 came to a whopping 17 percent, which is also the lowest ever recorded.

“Gov. Perry is the only Washington outsider in this race. He has never served in Washington or been an establishment favorite,” Perry campaign spokesman Ray Sullivan explained in a statement. 

Sure, Congress has the approval rating somewhere between that of breeding velociraptors next to hospital nurseries and setting your own genitals on fire, but it doesn't mean we should basically eliminate Congress.

On the other hand, as I said yesterday all the Republicans are more or less running on a platform of getting rid of the federal government.  Rick Perry certainly is no different in this respect, and in many ways he and Newt Gingrich (who wants to all but rid the country of the Judicial branch) are almost running for dictator.

On the gripping hand, Congress is full of a lot of people whose job apparently is getting richer for being on Congress while their constituents get poorer.  Something does need to be done about Congress and Washington DC politics in general, but giving more power to the Executive Branch isn't the solution.

Still, "Washington doesn't work, let's complete the transition to the Imperial Presidency!" is ludicrous, and yet these jokers keep screaming that President Obama is just waiting to take over the country and round us up into FEMA camps.  Funny how that works.

See A Need, Errm, Fill...A Need

If you can't spice up the relationship with a trip to the Côte d'Azur in this economy, you can always try Walgreens as sexy goes mainstream for one California company, Justin Ross and Keith Caggiano's growing business, Screaming O.

Screaming O's desire now is to sell through mainstream channels while maintaining its racy branding. In late 2009, Walgreens signed a licensing deal to sell one of Screaming O's brands in 7,000 drugstores. Their products, with bright, explicit packaging, are also sold through Amazon.com, Drugstore.com, and RiteAid.com, as well as stores in 27 foreign countries. “We stand right at the edge. We want to market and brand ourselves as a company that sells fun,” Ross says, “without becoming so demure" that customers overlook the products.

It’s a tricky balance to achieve. Trojan, which has sold condoms for more than eight decades, first introduced vibrators to its product line a year ago. It’s taking a low-key approach, with television commercials that feature girlfriends chuckling knowingly over their “personal massagers” and packaging designed to disappear on the grocery store conveyor belt. In contrast, with a name like Screaming O, Ross, 38, and Caggiano, 44, can hardly be accused of subtlety.

“When people see our brand, the barriers go down and we melt their defenses,” says Caggiano, who developed the company’s online advertising and offline promotions, which mostly center on sponsoring international sporting events, spring-break hot spots, and safe sex forums on college campuses. “We want to find a way to help people be comfortable with themselves and their sexuality,” he says. 

I honestly think we're seeing this because of the economy, frankly, and more than a little backlash against the prudes...oh yeah, and the internet.  Let's face it, there's no way you're putting that genie back in the bottle.  Today's folk are more than happy to experiment safely with sex in the privacy of their own home, because let's face it, it's cheaper than dinner and a movie these days.

More power to you, gentlemen.

Teacher Dating Student AND Mother

Gerard Cassidy, a physical-education instructor at a Queens middle school, was caught in a love triangle and fired for having an “inappropriate relationship” with an ex-student — while dating her mom, The Post has learned.

Cassidy, 44, who taught at MS137 America’s School of Heroes in Ozone Park, lost a fight for his $83,600-a-year job even though the 16-year-old student recanted her claim that she had sex with the teacher, according to city Department of Education documents and court records.

When questioned by Condon’s office, the teen denied any sexual contact with Cassidy, saying he only held her hand “for support and encouragement” and kissed her hello and goodbye.

She said Cassidy helped her with family problems, the way she dressed and her vocabulary.

But the DOE still charged Cassidy, a teacher for 18 years, with misconduct after Condon’s office obtained records showing that he called the girl’s cellphone 553 times between March and July 2009 and sent 383 text messages to her iPhone. About 125 calls occurred between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.

In his DOE hearing, Cassidy said he was only motivating the girl to do her homework and get up to go to school. The girl’s mother insisted that she permitted Cassidy to call her daughter any time.

The mother testified Cassidy’s mentoring helped her daughter rocket to an “A” average. But records show she was still failing

It's a pretty nifty trick to get both mom and daughter to life for you.  This guy sounds like a real piece of work, but he couldn't have done any of this without the mother's knowledge and consent.  She claims to have known how often he was contacting her daughter, and seems fine with it.  Except for that whole statutory rape thing, it might have worked out just dandy for the couple.

But seriously, we must stop allowing teachers access to kids like this.  There are thousands of honest teachers who keep a respectable distance from students so they cannot be accused of something like this.  Then you have jackasses like this, and jackass mothers who pimp their kids out with full knowledge of what could happen.  This is disgusting and does nothing but damage innocent teachers and students right along with those who work against the system.  There can be healthy relationships (not the dating kind) between student and teacher, but after stupidity like this nobody would dare take the risk.

Bonus Goodness: Helping Hand Edition

Time for a gratuitous fun kitty video! The helping hand is the best, but the cautious glance beforehand makes it funnier. Enjoy!

Follow Up On Austic Boy Bagged Up At School

We have a follow-up on the autistic boy who wsa tied up in a bag as punishment, and it doesn't look good. The school is dodging saying much and in absence of a loud denial, that means it probably went down as described. The full article is here, but I included the school's response so your bullshit detectors will scream.

The head of Mercer County public schools did not directly address Baker's accusations in a statement, but Superintendent Dennis Davis acknowledged that, "The Mercer County School District is aware of recent reports of conduct directed by staff toward a student in one of our schools."

Citing federal and state confidentiality laws regarding students, David said the district could not confirm or deny "the specific allegations which are being raised in the public."

But he added, "Upon learning of the allegations, the school system reviewed the incident immediately, and the matter is being handled consistently with School District policies and with State and Federal law."

"The employees of the Mercer County Public Schools are qualified professionals who treat students with respect and dignity while providing a safe and nurturing learning environment," the statement added.

Baker, meanwhile, said Monday that she was stunned to arrive at the school to find her son trapped in a bag.

Meanwhile In Afghanistan

In that other war we've been fighting for ten years now, the Afghan government is trying to get the Taliban to engage at the table rather than at the firefight.

Afghanistan will accept a Taliban liaison office in Qatar to start peace talks but no foreign power can get involved in the process without its consent, the government's peace council said, as efforts gather pace to find a solution to the decade-long war.

Afghanistan's High Peace Council, in a note to foreign missions, has set out ground rules for engaging the Taliban after Kabul grew concerned that the United States and Qatar, helped by Germany, had secretly agreed with the Taliban to open an office in the Qatari capital, Doha.

U.S. officials have held about half a dozen meetings with their insurgent contacts, mostly in Germany and Doha with representatives of Mullah Omar, leader of the Taliban's Quetta Shura, this year to prepare the way for face-to-face talks between the group and the Afghan government.

At some point, peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government were going to have to happen.  It's pretty depressing that it took this long for the talks to even get started, but at least it's a beginning.  Most of all, the final talks had to exclude the US.  I'll give both Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton credit:  they both understand that any final peace deal has to be between the Afghan government and the Taliban, not the US and the Taliban.  Most of all, President Obama gets this, which is why the talks are happening.

Still a tremendous distance to go in any sort of peace deal in Kabul, but the fact we're even talking about it, and our withdrawal from Iraq proving our word is good has gone a very long way in facilitating that, well that's something that could never have happened even six months ago.

If anything, Iraq and Afghanistan were our country's lost decade, something we'll be dealing with for the rest of my lifetime, minimum.  One really does have to wonder where America and the world would be right now if 9/11 had been stopped and neither war had been fought.

Some Unfortunate Perspective

Just because GOP nutjob Peter King of New York thinks every Muslim in America is our enemy doesn't mean that there aren't truly insane and dangerous people who happen to be Muslim out there, as one deadly example showed over the holiday weekend.

A Muslim woman who allegedly sent “suspicious” packages to New York Rep. Peter King and New York state Sen. Greg Ball in November was shot to death by police on Christmas morning in Marietta, Georgia, according to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.

Jameela Cecila Barnette allegedly attacked a Cobb County police officer who had knocked on her apartment door after responding to an alarm. She was armed with a knife and a handgun, and the officer fired his weapon at Barnette in response to the assault, according to Cobb Police spokesman Sgt. Dana Pierce. Barnette died at the scene.

Rep. King, the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, has set a controversial series of hearings on Muslim radicalization in the United States. Critics have accused King of unfairly targeting Muslims in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist strikes, and ignoring other radical groups.

Upset with the hearings, Barnett allegedly mailed King a bloody pig’s foot and an anti-Semitic message earlier this year. The message referred to King as a “Jew,” even though he is Catholic.

Speaking to Politico on Monday, King blamed the media for their “hysterical coverage” of the hearings and said that the incident had “nothing to with the fact that she was Muslim.”

“I feel sad for the woman, she was obviously deranged and had serious mental issues,” King said.

And for arguably the first time I can recall, Peter King is telling the truth there on both accounts.  It's unfortunate that she basically committed suicide by cop, but coming at a police officer armed is a bad move in any case.

It makes King's inflammatory rhetoric on America's Muslims all the much more tragic and awful, as he's clearly capable of treating American Muslims like human beings when it's good politics.  Go figure.


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