April 30, 2010

But he's a LOYAL pedophile!

Here in Georgia, you can't run for governor as a Republican unless you sign a "loyalty oath." No, really. And even if you're a strong candidate with $2 million of your own money, you can't be a Republican unless you sign it.

The Georgia Republican Party has denied Ray Boyd's attempt to run for governor after the political newcomer refused Monday to sign their loyalty oath.

In a polite but tense showdown at the state Capitol, party attorney Anne Lewis told Boyd that since he refused to sign the oath, "we're unable to qualify you."

Boyd said he will immediately begin preparations to run as an independent.

Boyd, a commercial real estate broker from Morgan County, burst onto the state's political scene in March when he created a campaign committee funded entirely by $2 million of his own money. He said he intended to run for governor as a Republican and said the other seven candidates already running were too ethically challenged to serve.

So Boyd is now running as an independent- that means, of course, as a challenger to the GOP candidate, with millions to spend, because he wouldn't sign a slip of paper that reads "I do hereby swear or affirm my allegiance to the Republican Party."

So who did sign the slip of paper? This guy.

Rachel Gandee remembers it differently. "It got physical. It wasn't at first. But yeah, it did get physical," she said. In later interviews, although she initially denied that the relationship went that far, Rachel Gandee said she and McBerry had sex that fall, at his house.

Her parents -- and their church -- quickly became involved. That September, McBerry was summoned to a meeting with the pastor, a deacon and Ronnie Pittman.

"We told him to leave her alone. She was a child. Leave her alone. And those meetings went on an hour, or maybe an hour and a half. Each one," the stepfather said. "After the first one, he didn't get it, so we called him in again."

"And then I caught him at a football game here in town," Ronnie Pittman said. His stepdaughter, of course, was in the band. "I got on him pretty hard up there, 'cause it was just me and him."

Linda Pittman came across two compact disks loaded with spyware that, her daughter later said, came from McBerry. Rachel used the programs to hide the messages she sent to the teacher on the family computer.

Finally, in December 2002, a couple from church caught the pair together on a dirt road -- McBerry and Rachel had arrived at the rendezvous in separate cars. Linda Pittman went to the Henry County school board. McBerry abandoned his teaching job.

On Jan. 17, 2003, the mother brought McBerry before Henry County Magistrate Wesley J. Shannon, on charges of interference with custody, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

McBerry had an attorney. The Pittmans didn't. Examining his files this week, Shannon said the parents didn't present enough evidence for an arrest warrant. But they raised enough suspicions, the judge said, that he signed an order requiring McBerry to stay away from their daughter for six months.

"If I was to take an educated guess as to what I was doing at the time," the judge said, "I was putting the ball in his court -- saying, 'Do you want to go to jail? Leave the girl alone.' "

No one showed up at a July 17, 2003, follow-up hearing. Without the Pittmans to press any accusations, the judge had no choice but to dismiss the charges. The couple now say they regret not following up with the court action -- because McBerry remained a shadow in their lives.

Rachel Gandee said her feelings for McBerry changed the day they were caught on that dirt road. Confronted, the high school teacher began pounding his car in a rage, she said. After the incident, her stepfather persuaded her that she was not safe.

At one point, McBerry returned to the church -- from which he'd already been ousted -- and was asked to leave, Ronnie Pittman said. His stepdaughter hid inside. On weekdays, at the wheel of her car, Rachel Gandee remembers seeing McBerry along her route to school. She began taking the bus.

Even as an adult, she still is reluctant to go into town alone, out of fear that she might see him. "I don't want to break down in the middle of the Wal-Mart by myself," Rachel Gandee said.

Of the Pittmans and their daughter, McBerry said their story has changed several times. He declined to cite specifics, but said he was contemplating court action.

Georgia has sent mixed messages when it comes to sexual ties between teachers and students. HB 571, a bill approved by the General Assembly on Tuesday, forbids relationships between students and teachers in the same schools.

But not, as Rachel Gandee says happened with McBerry, teachers and students from different schools. The measure also creates an exception for teachers and students who marry.

Yet consider this: On Monday, the Georgia Republican Party turned away Ray Boyd, a real estate executive with $2 million, as a candidate for governor because he refused to sign a loyalty oath of sorts.

But GOP officials say state law prevents the party of family values from blocking the candidacy of a former teacher accused of preying upon a young girl. Republicans will cash McBerry's $4,180.18 qualifying check.

Principles, people.

(via Raine)

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:45 AM

Why we're going to lose horribly

John Cole:

If you idiots are not enthusiastic about going to the polls to vote for the Democrats and against the Republicans, you deserve what you get. And so help me, if one of you says you just haven't gotten enough change from Obama, I'll come to your house and punch you in the neck and kick you in the junk. And if I so much as hear one of you whine about the public option, I'll go all Marsellus Wallace on you.

There's a war on, and you don't get to be Switzerland, sitting on the sidelines nursing your butthurt.

Whenever Cole does one of these rants, I struggle to figure out who he's trying to communicate it to, since it seems to only apply to people who

A. are likely to vote Democratic anyway and at best are slightly wavering between voting Democratic and not voting at all, or
B. are made of straw.

As he is a former right-winger, I don't understand why Cole thinks this style of argument is any better coming from the left. Seriously, how do you argue with this? In any way? "Do what I say or fuck off" is what made Armando/Big Tent Democrat the single most annoying person on the entire internet for the entire 2008 election season.

From everything I gather from these occasional diatribes, Cole seems to be angry about irrational arguments made during the health care reform debate- a bill that has since been passed and was argued months ago. I really don't understand how yelling at random blog commenters with mocking allusions to some of the stereotypical rhetoric is going to convince wayward independents to come out and vote for Democrats again.

Oh, meanwhile, via Digby:

Since the U.S. recession began in December 2007, Congress has extended the length of unemployment benefits for the jobless three times. Now, the lawmakers may have reached their limit.

They are quietly drawing the line at 99 weeks of aid, a mark that hundreds of thousands of Americans have already reached. In coming months, the number of those who will receive their final government check is projected to top 1 million.

It's a deadline that has rarely been mentioned in recent debates over jobless benefits, in which Republicans have delayed aid because of cost concerns. The deadline hasn't been lost on Teauna Stephney, a 39-year-old single mother from Bothell, Washington, who said she could become homeless once her $407 weekly checks stop in June.

That's the current step Democrats are considering with the economy right now: cutting off unemployment benefits. Suggesting that we all shut up and think about the good things Democrats have done and not focus on the negative is a great demand. While you're at it, argue at the tides to turn at your whim. People who are facing problems are concerned about those problems. It's really hard to insist that you should get out and vote because "Republicans will do worse" than, you know, making you homeless.

I wonder when Teauna Stephney loses her house how we'll be able to find her to punch her in the neck.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:20 AM

April 28, 2010

And now for something completely different

Yes, I only discovered OMG Cat yesterday. I apologize to everyone on the internet who are far, far ahead of me in knowing about this.

I also apologize in advance to Matt Bors and Jen Sorensen, who fucking hate me for posting this stupid shit.

Please understand, this is my face for half the blog posts I read about what the Senate is doing today. 75-80% of the posts about the state of Arizona, too.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:50 AM

April 26, 2010

"Standing Up to Standing Up"

Latest comic - click here!

I think that purposely broadcasting something designed to provoke a predictably violent reactionary group is irresponsible in this particular case. Obviously I don't think threatening anyone with violence for offending one's beliefs is acceptable, and obviously if the episode airs as Stone and Parker intended and there's a violent reaction similar to what we've seen in similar situations in the past, the onus for that violence falls on those carrying it out.

But before that happens, civil society isn't obliged on principle to go along with every fool who wants to take the bait of deliberately offending people who belligerently promise violent action against those who offend them. Parker and Stone have a protected right to behave like jackasses in this case of course, but Comedy Central also has a right to limit their complicity in fatuous provocateur shenanigans and I don't blame them for doing so. What the South Park creators are doing seems to me to be a sort of high-stakes self-promotion masquerading as a crusade for freedom of expression, and I find that gross.

-username "millions" on MetaFilter

Kurt Westergaard has been forced to retire. He's the Danish cartoonist who, for whatever reasons we could argue all day and all night, drew the caricature of the prophet Mohammed that started the last few years of outbursts of violence and terrorism in various parts of the world. But no one cares about that. They care about Trey Parker and Matt Stone and South Park because that's a popular TV show and a bunch of websites told them it's important.

People have tried to murder him. He had a panic room built in his home. The newspaper ultimately had to let him go because of all the threats and the violence and risks being brought on the rest of the newspaper. And that's not as much his fault as it is a countless number of assholes across the world who decided that it would be fun and amusing to deliberately create more controversy and get people angrier. Not create more discussion, not offer arguments, but just make people angrier. They forced him out like anti-choice nutcases force abortion providers to lose money and close their clinics, except pro-choice supporters don't demand that other women across the world start having more and more abortions just to annoy people.

Parker and Stone will, however, go back to work tomorrow making tons of money and giggle at how everyone else is being outraged for them. As if they care any more than the libertarian bloggers who thought changing their site's background colors was "joining the fight against Muslim oppression." As if anyone demanding that we anger more people because goddamit, we haaaaaave toooooooo will hurt them and not the innocent bystanders of a lunatic's random and senseless violence.

I've said a lot of this before and don't desire to waste time rehashing it, but professional artists actually understand the difference between censorship and editorial decisions. Professional human beings understand how to be sensitive about the entire world around them. Let me be perfectly clear- I support and defend the right of anyone to be racist, obnoxious, or say anything I don't agree with. Yes, that is freedom of speech. However, if I might allude to another cartoon-related issue, perhaps you may have heard something one Uncle Ben Parker suggested; something about great power and the responsibility therein.

That so many people who scoffed at the ridiculous "we can't let the terrorists win" mantras of 2001 now feel the same way in insisting that posting images of Mohammed to "stick it to the terrorists" or whatever is depressing. It's not a hit against the terrorists. In fact, it probably just insults a lot of other Muslims who aren't terrorists, and adds more fuel to a fire that is stoked for... for what, actually? Really, if you're posting an image of Mohammed right now, what are you really getting out of it? Do you think terrorists are reading it? Do you think it's getting you a book deal from an editor? I'm asking this directly to the guy who decided that his response to the South Park censorship fiasco was to create "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day," also known as "Everybody Give Me Traffic For My Website Day," which I will, of course, not do.

Do you know how I like "sticking it to terrorists?" What I enjoy seeing in this country every goddamn day that would piss them off so much? Amazingly, I don't get up every morning and celebrate my right to harass people from the safety of my apartment. I like seeing women vote. I like people of all races interacting with each other. I like seeing children going to school and learning about both the negative and positive aspects of our nation's history.

And yeah, I like South Park. I like how, for the last seven years, Mohammed was seen in every single episode because he was in one seven years ago and then appeared very briefly in the opening credits. Except now that episode has been taken down. The one that wasn't an attack on Mohammed or meant to make any stupid "point." Because Comedy Central, rightly so, is now afraid of damages and liability issues. I wonder if Parker's and Stone's paychecks have "this is why we can't have nice things" written in the memo line. Viacom doesn't want a liability lawsuit. This is a country where Dunkin' Donuts cancels an ad campaign because a racist lunatic doesn't like Rachel Ray's scarf.

I couldn't draw Mohammed right now if I wanted to, because right-wing bloggers and whiny pundits have turned a religious symbol- yet another religious symbol- into an obligatory message of vitriol against that very religion. We've made the prophet Mohammed mean to Islam what Hitler made the Manjii mean to Hinduism. I've lost the ability to use that image in any way I see fit because you've all branded it. And that's a freedom that's been taken from me and I don't see a lot of people upset about that perspective.

Buy some crap and join the mailing list. And come join the public Facebook page for the strip.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 8:42 AM