Democracy in Action

So in a partial repeat of 2014, Bill Shuster (R-PA) is facing a vicious primary challenger from the right by the name of Art Halvorson.  In 2014 Shuster was able to fend off Halvorson’s challenge in a three way primary battle, with Shuster picking up 52.8% of the vote, Halvorson earning 34.5%, and livestock farmer Travis Schooley rounding out the race with 12.7%.  In the 2016 primary, Shuster and Halvorson will square off one against one for a seat in the US House that has been filled by a Shuster since 1973.  (Bill’s father, Bud Shuster, held the seat from 1973 until resigning in 2001 a few months before Bill won his first term.  Ah, political nepotism.)

The primary battle gives every indication of being a nasty one, with Halvorson running on a purely obstructionist platform, slamming Shuster for not shutting the government down to defund Obamacare, then ripping him for not shutting it down over Planned Parenthood funding.  If it gives you any idea, Halvorson’s campaign motto is “Rescue America.”  The candidates recently had a debate, which resulted in a very amusing write up in the Altoona Mirror as a conservative newspaper attempted to perform simultaneous fellatio on two candidates that seem to hate each other with the passion of a million white hot suns.

Art Halvorson, Republican primary challenger for the District 9 U.S. House seat, attacked incumbent Bill Shuster in a debate Saturday, calling him out for being part of a Republican failure to counter President Barack Obama’s liberalism and for alleged ethics problems because of his relationship with a lobbyist.

Shuster accused Halvorson of lying and of running a relentlessly negative campaign – to the extent of flip-flopping just to position himself opposite of the incumbent.

Shuster can’t duck responsibility for leaders in the Republican-majority House and Senate for failing to control spending, the national debt and taxes with a budget, a failure that has undermined the economy and damaged the nation’s confidence, Halvorson said.

That failure culminated in the $1.1-trillion “Cromnibus” spending bill passed in December – “an atrocity” – that failed to defund Obamacare, gave the president a “blank check” on executive amnesty for illegal immigrants and “caved” to Obama on Planned Parenthood, Halvorson said.

Shuster actually voted against a $1.5 trillion spending bill a few months earlier that had many of the same effects, according to an analysis by the Conservative Review.

Spending and revenue bills originate in the House, but the Senate needs to agree, and that’s been a stumbling block, Shuster said.

Still, Republicans over the last few years have cut $2.1 trillion, reducing it four years in a row, which had not happened for more than 60 years, he said.

They’ve also managed significant changes for cuts in the tax code, including some that have been made permanent, Shuster said.

I’m sorry, this is the most painful article on a political debate I believe I have ever read.  I’ve never seen a line by line recap of arguments for presidential debates, let alone House primary races.  Rather than writing anything original, it seems that the reporter just wants to avoid offending either candidate by making sure to repeat each of their talking points.  And it just keeps on going…..

The nation needs to pay its debt and most of the Obama-care spending is mandatory, Shuster said, adding that nevertheless, he has always opposed Obamacare and participated in successful efforts to eliminate or defund pieces of it, like the “death panels.” He opposes amnesty “in any way, shape or form,” opposes admitting anyone from “failed states,” favored building a wall along the Mexican border and the identification of illegal immigrants, followed by their processing for deportation.

Shuster’s not a true conservative, having received an F from the Club for Growth and the Heritage Foundation, Halvorson said.

Shuster is actually ranked 135 among the House’s 435 members by the club for 2014, a number that is broadly representative since 2005, in a chart on the club’s website.

The Club for Growth is “a bunch of millionaires and billionaires that have formed a little clique,” anyway, Shuster said.

It’s no credit to a lawmaker to try for a 100 percent voting record for any group, because you need to look at every piece of legislation, Shuster said.

He has an 86 percent rating from the American Conservative Union, a 90 percent rating from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a 100 percent rating from the National Right to Life Committee, he said. He has an A rating from the National Rifle Association.

Look, my right wing cock is bigger than yours!  No, my right wing testicles are heavier than yours! Time for someone to play the religion card…..

Halvorson said he’s a born-again Christian who follows the Scriptures and “upholds the highest ethical standards,” while Shuster has “a close, intimate relationship” with a lobbyist who has access to the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, of which Shuster is the chairman, and that Shuster has cavorted in South Beach, almost as if to celebrate their successful partnership.

He is referring to Shelley Rubino, a lobbyist for Airlines for America. Shuster has said previously that she doesn’t lobby his office or his staff directly, and that legal counsel has cleared their handling of the matter.

The personal attacks and “misrepresentation” of his record is “disgraceful,” Shuster said.

“My campaign has been about me,” Shuster said. “Your campaign has been about me.”

Negative from start to what he expects to be the finish, he added.

Negative?  Where would he have ever got that idea?

The Republicans had the power of the purse, but have squandered it, surrendering to Obama, Halvorson said.

The nation is failing, confidence is low and the economy is weakening, Halvorson said.

“We’re supposed to be a city on a hill, but there’s nothing to look up to,” he said. “Two more years is not warranted.”

Confidence is low?  Hell yeah, because of Republicans like Halvorson is swearing he will be who think compromise is failure.  This guy is a True Believer, who seems to honestly think the nation would have rose up in support of the House Freedom Caucus if they would have shut the government down over Planned Parenthood.

“I represent conservative values,” Shuster said. “I’ve worked hard to find solutions.”

He’s faced election successfully eight times, he added.

And that is possibly the weakest rebuttal in the history of debates.  In 2010 this Congressional district was rated the most Republican district in the state.  Our last Democratic Representative lost his re-election bid……in 1939.  The GOP candidate could blow coke off a stripper’s ass on national television the day before the election and still draw 60%.  Shuster did make one strong point without trying, showing every moderate voter listening exactly why a GOP presidential win would be disastrous.

The key to the kind of accomplishments Halvorson is hammering him about will be getting a Republican president, which will enable Congress, working with that president, to drive down taxes, control spending, harness debt and appoint a conservative to the Supreme Court to replace the late Antonin Scalia, Shuster said.

The absolute worst part about this all?

Pennsylvania has a closed primary, so only registered Republicans get to decide between these candidates.  No Democrat has filed to run in opposition in November, although to be honest, why even bother when you know your opponent is going to pull 60% of the vote no matter what?  So 40% of the district gets to hope the Republican primary voters aren’t crazy enough to primary Shuster, who, for all of his failings, at least gets things done for the district.

So yeah.  Democracy in action.  The districts registered Republicans will choose our district Representative with no outside input.

What a system.

We Knew Louie Gohmert Was Hateful, Stupid, and Ignorant, But He is Also Kind of a Pig.

It is really tough to figure out what is the most objectionable facet of the far right’s disingenuous war against the bathroom freedoms of transgendered Americans, but my vote for most hilarious part is their fantasy fixation on the movie Porky’s.  First it was Mike Huckabee fantasizing on stage about pretending to be transgendered so he could have showered with the girls back in high school, and now it is Louie Gohmert, possibly the dumbest person in Congress, to step up to the plate.  Louie however doesn’t want to shower with the gals, no, seventh grade Louie would have been happy just to pee with them.  (Again, from the kind folks at Right Wing Watch)

Citing his own childhood, the congressman said that boys would be unable to resist the temptation to see girls while they are in the bathroom.

Gohmert recounted to “Washington Watch” host and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins his junior-high fantasies.

“When it comes to this current legislation where — in most of the world, in most of the religions, the major religions, you have men and you have women, and there are some abnormalities but for heaven’s sake, I was as good a kid as you can have growing up, I never drank alcohol till I was legal, never to, still, use an illegal drug, but in the seventh grade if the law had been that all I had to do was say, ‘I’m a girl,’ and I got to go into the girls’ restroom, I don’t know if I could’ve withstood the temptation just to get educated back in those days,” he said.

Gohmert then said that businesses like PayPal are now “telling states that you have to let boys into little girls’ restrooms or we’re pulling our business, it’s just the height of lunacy.”

Sigh.  Insert amusing comment about how Gohmert’s lack of intelligence is as dangerous as fire.

 

Guess Who Won a Term on the Wisconsin Supreme Court?

The answer isn’t good news for rational minded Wisconsin residents, that’s for sure.  Rebecca Bradley earned herself a 10 year term on the bench yesterday, more than likely thanks to the extra 100,000 or so Republicans who turned out for the hotly contested GOP primary.  As to why a state Supreme Court election was held during the primary election instead of at later date when all Wisconsin citizens would have equal incentive to make it to the polls, say, in November perhaps, during the general election?  (Seriously.  I mean, I vote in every election held in Pennsylvania, but everyone knows we don’t have the best history with voter turnout in this nation.  Why elect a judge to the Supreme Court in April, during the presidential primary?)

So why is Bradley so objectionable?  How about her earlier published viewpoints?

In a column that appeared soon after Clinton was elected, she wrote: “Either you condone drug use, homosexuality, AIDS-producing sex, adultery and murder and are therefore a bad person, or you didn’t know that he supports abortion on demand and socialism, which means you are dumb. Have I offended anyone? Good — some of you really need to wake up.”

Calling Clinton a murderer because of his support for abortion rights, she wrote that anyone who voted for him was “obviously immoral.”

…..

The column and letters to the editor include these statements:

■ “Perhaps AIDS Awareness should seek to educate us with their misdirected compassion for the degenerates who basically commit suicide through their behavior.”

■ “But the homosexuals and drug addicts who do essentially kill themselves and others through their own behavior deservedly receive none of my sympathy.”

■ “This brings me to my next point — why is a student government on a Catholic campus attempting to bring legitimacy to an abnormal sexual preference?”

■ “Heterosexual sex is very healthy in a loving martial relationship. Homosexual sex, however, kills.”

■ “I will certainly characterize whomever transferred their infected blood (to a transfusion recipient) a homosexual or drug-addicted degenerate and a murderer.”

■ “We’ve just had an election (in 1992) which proves the majority of voters are either totally stupid or entirely evil.”

■ Clinton “supports the Freedom of Choice Act, which will allow women to mutilate and dismember their helpless children through their ninth month of pregnancy. Anyone who could consciously vote for such a murderer is obviously immoral.”

Now I know that all looks bad, but I’m sure she doesn’t have the same opinions now.  I mean, Scott Walker says she obviously has changed her views.  And she has been apologizing for her past writings as well.

“To those offended by comments I made as a young college student, I apologize, and assure you that those comments are not reflective of my worldview,” her statement said. “These comments have nothing to do with who I am as a person or a jurist, and they have nothing to do with the issues facing the voters of this state.”

See!  Nothing to worry about.  She’s totally redeemed.  Forgiven.  I’m sure she will be a fair, impartial jurist.  Moving on...

In another article by Bradley, she argued in favor of personhood and compared abortion to slavery and to the Holocaust:

“I recall a time in history when blacks were treated as something less than human for convenience and financial reasons. I recall a time in history when Jews were treated as non-humans and tortured and murdered. Now, at this point in our sad history, we are perpetrating similar slaughter, only we are killing babies,” Bradley wrote in a 1992 column for the Marquette Tribune.

Unlike her comments regarding homosexuals and drug addicts, she cannot back peddle from this. She wrote another column in 2006 repeating similar arguments in favor of allowing pharmacists to deny birth control pills.

It was also revealed this week that Bradley sympathized with Camille Paglia, who had blamed rape victims for the crimes committed against them. On top of that, Bradley had a few choice words about feminists which revealed just how deep her hate goes:

“I intend to expose the feminist movement as largely composed of angry, militant, man-hating lesbians who abhor the traditional family,” Bradley wrote, arguing that the feminist movement had been hijacked by the political left, abandoning its role as a defender of women’s rights.

Well, gee, isn’t that the writing of a well-balanced, impartial judge to be?

Ick.  And defending a pharmacist’s “right” to refuse to fill a woman’s birth control prescription because it is murder in 2006?  Damn.  But she apologized, right?!?

Still, these columns were written decades ago. Unlike some, I don’t think her hate speech from 1992 is an automatic disqualifier. I believe people deserve second chances, former felons and former letter-to-the-editor zealots alike. What bugs me today is the hollowness of Bradley’s apologies.

“I wrote opinion pieces 24 years ago on a variety of issues, and they are opinions that some people may agree with, some people might disagree with,” said Bradley in an interview with The Capital Times.

“To those offended by comments I made as a young college student, I apologize, and assure you that those comments are not reflective of my worldview,” said Bradley in a press statement.

I cannot judge what is in Rebecca Bradley’s heart, but these read to me like the apologies of someone who feels bad their past caught up with them, not the apologies of someone truly regretful. ‘To those offended’ makes it sound like she feels bad for offending potential voters, not for having written the column in the first place.

Even her best defense thus far has some problems.

“As a judge on the Milwaukee children’s court, I presided over adoptions for gay couples who were adopting children and providing loving, safe homes for them,” said Bradley.

While this is a good statement on its surface, it just means she no longer thinks that all homosexuals are bad people. That’s not exactly an apology for her statements on HIV and AIDS. She is okay with monogamous couples adopting children. That’s not even saying she accepts LGBT people; she’s saying she accepts LGBT couples who have adopted a lifestyle she approves of.

She further dilutes her own apology by saying her own views are not relevant.

“At the end of the day, I am called upon to apply the law regardless of how I feel about the law. It is our job to apply the law and follow the law regardless of how we feel about the outcome,” Bradley said.

Those sound like the words of someone who wants to minimize her transgressions, not atone for them. 1992’s Rebecca Bradley isn’t up for election, but 2016’s Rebecca Bradley is — and her wishy-washy apologies don’t reflect the traits I want to see on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

But see her on the Supreme Court is the fate we are all stuck with, for at least the next ten years.

And people wonder why politics has started to depress me.
Sigh.

The Honesty Was Nice While It Lasted

So here is the title of the original post I was writing about this:

Trump Says Something Anti-Abortion Activists Have Been Drooling for Decades to Hear a Politician Say, Anti-Abortionists Promptly Do What They Do Best: Lie.

Yeah, that’s a mouthful.  But since this is Foster Disbelief and not The Daily Mail, I decided to scrap it and start over.

For some reason Donald Trump, the(gag) front running candidate for the Republican presidential (I just threw up a little) nomination, had a sit down interview with Chris Matthews the other day.  I didn’t watch it.  I actually stayed as far away from the television as I possibly could when MSNBC aired the interview.  No thank you.  I can suffer through a Trump interview to see if anything is newsworthy.  I can tolerate watching Chris Matthews on MSNBC because I respect the other voices that make up MSNBC’s political coverage.  Matthews interviewing Trump is just a black hole of idiocy that I won’t even pretend I would willingly put myself through.    (Seriously, listening to Matthews go on about the possibility of a Clinton/Kasich unity ticket during one night of MSNBC’s primary coverage had me contemplating either switching to Fox News or puncturing my ear drums with an ice pick.  He’s the liberal answer to Bill O’Reilly.  Something that, along with the ideological purity police, is something we really don’t need.)

And seemingly for no reason but to punish me and force my poor ears to hear clips of the interview all week, Trump decided to show anti-abortion activists that he really was one of them, honestly, scout’s honor, no take backs, no crossed fingers, he swears.

At a taping of an MSNBC town hall that will air later, host Chris Matthews pressed the Republican presidential front-runner Trump for his thoughts on abortion policy. Trump said he’s in favor of an abortion ban, explaining, “Well, you go back to a position like they had where they would perhaps go to illegal places, but we have to ban it,” according to a partial transcript from Bloomberg Politics.

Matthews asked if there would be a punishment for women who received abortions if they were made illegal. Trump responded, “There has to be some form of punishment.” He elaborated that the punishment would have “to be determined” and the law will depend on the upcoming Supreme Court confirmation battle and the 2016 election.

Matthews, to his credit (I feel dirty for typing that), was all over Trump like a bad toupee rather than allowing the reality show star to word salad his way out of the question.  Progressives immediately held it up as yet another extremist view held by Trump,  Wow, that’s a surprise.  Liberals were going to disagree with Trump’s position on abortion no matter what he said.  Trump’s running as a Republican, which means he has to be “pro-life.”  (What a great political system we’ve built on the corpses of the founding fathers.  Sigh.)  What was surprising was the response by anti-abortion activists as they rushed to distance themselves from Trump.

The central goal of the pro-life movement may be to eliminate abortion, but to the vast majority, the responsibility doesn’t lie with the woman getting an abortion, but the doctor who is providing it.

Even the most staunch pro-life groups were quick to express their disappointment with Trump’s initial statements. Susan B. Anthony List and March for Life, two of the country’s most prominent anti-abortion groups, tweeted that women who have abortions need “healing and compassion” and that punishment is “solely for the abortionist who profits off of the destruction of life.”

Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League and a long-time pro-lifer, says that the responsibility of an illegal abortion “should fall on abortion providers, not the women who turn to them in desperation.”

“If Donald Trump is going to run successfully as a pro-life candidate, it’s time he started listening to the pro-life movement,” he says.

Trump’s Republican rivals said much of the same.

“But of course women shouldn’t be punished,” Republican candidate John Kasich said. “I don’t think that’s an appropriate response. It’s a difficult enough situation.”

Fellow GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz echoed Scheidler’s sentiments, saying in a statement that being pro-life isn’t just about the “unborn child,” but the mother as well – something that is “far too often neglected.” The movement, he said in a statement, is about “creating a culture that respects her and embraces life.”

“Of course we shouldn’t be talking about punishing women; we should affirm their dignity and the incredible gift they have to bring life into the world,” he said.

Me thinks the activists doth protest too much.  The only reason pro-life people claim they don’t want the woman punished is because that is a horrifically unpopular position in the larger population.  I am sure some anti-abortion activists honestly do not want the woman punished beyond being forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, just as I’m also sure some of them really want to reduce the amount of abortions and would support proven programs such as Colorado’s IUD program,  and some of them think those who shoot abortion providers are murderers.

And if the majority of anti-abortion activists share those beliefs, if they truly want to end abortion and not punish women for being sexually active, if they’re “pro-life” position prohibits the assassination of providers and the bombing of clinics, then those people need to make that clear and stop providing cover for the more extreme members of their movement.

It is the same argument I make to “moderate” Christians.  Shrugging your shoulders and saying that the gay haters aren’t “real Christians” doesn’t cut it.  In fact, going from the Bible, most of the time the fundamentalists have more textual support for their position.  Hey “moderate pro-lifer?”  When you call abortion “murder” and insist it is the “American Holocaust,” you are giving coverage to the clinic bombers and doctor killers, just as the moderate Christian who argues for the infallibility of the Bible protects the anti-gay bigots.

Watching Ted Cruz attack Trump over this issue is even more rich.  The “Pro-Lifers for Cruz” coalition that Ted loves pointing out, is co-chaired by the president of Operation Rescue, Troy Newman.  Newman wrote the book “Their Blood Cries Out,” which was written before anti-abortionists began softening their language to find more support.  Here’s a telling passage (and I urge you to read the whole article from Right Wing Watch.)

While Newman never explicitly calls for the execution of women who have had abortions, as he does abortion providers, he makes very clear that he sees these women as equally culpable for the supposed crime.

He tells the story of a woman in California accused of paying two men $1,000 and some “sexual favors” to murder her husband. Both the woman and the men who executed the hit, he reports, received the same sentence. How, Newman asks, is this different from abortion?

There was no outpouring of public concern from the community declaring her a victim of society. There were no help centers set up to give aid to all future contract killers so that they might find alternatives to murdering their husbands. The churches did not welcome her on the condition that neither of the parties would discuss the crime. There was no legislation brought forward by the National Organization for Women to pardon her and all future murderesses. There was no sympathy publicly expressed for her — only the satisfaction that comes from witnessing justice.

Why, then, do we consider any differently the women who seek to hire killers to murder their pre-born children? Why the hesitancy to say that not only the mothers, but also the fathers who willfully abort their babies, are guilty of murder? Why is there such outrage expressed at the notion that those who know of the crime but do not intervene, like most of the churches in America, share a portion of the guilt?

Who holds the fathers, the mothers, the neighbors, the pastors, and the bystanders guilty? Who would dare?

God can! God does!

By comparing abortion directly to any other act of premeditated contract killing, it is easy to see that there is no difference in principle. However, in our society, a mother of an aborted baby is considered untouchable where as any other mother, killing any other family member, would be called what she is: a murderer.

..

When Newman endorsed Cruz, Ted was quick to play up the endorsement on his campaign website.
“I am grateful to receive the endorsement of Troy Newman,” Cruz said. “He has served as a voice for the unborn for over 25 years, and works tirelessly every day for the pro-life cause. We need leaders like Troy Newman in this country who will stand up for those who do not have a voice.”
How extreme is Newman?

“Today’s scheduled execution of Paul Hill is not justice, but is another example of the judicial tyranny that is gripping our nation. A Florida judge denied Rev. Hill his right to present a defense that claimed that the killing of the abortionist was necessary to save the lives of the pre-born babies that were scheduled to be killed by abortion that day. Our system of justice is based upon ‘innocent until proven guilty,’ but in Rev. Hill’s case, there was no justice because the court prevented him from presenting the legal defense that his conduct was justifiable defensive action.

“There are many examples where taking the life in defense of innocent human beings is legally justified and permissible under the law. Paul Hill should have been given the opportunity to defend himself with the defense of his choosing in a court of law. [Operation Rescue West press release, 9/3/03, via Media Matters]

How about banned from Australia extreme?

Troy Newman, the president of Operation Rescue, had been scheduled to begin a speaking tour in Australia on Friday. But immigration officials canceled his visa before he left the United States after Australian politicians raised concerns that he might encourage violence against abortion providers or women seeking the procedure.

He managed to board a flight from Los Angeles despite not having a valid visa but was detained by immigration officers at Melbourne Airport while trying to enter the country on Thursday.

[…]

Terri Butler, a Labor member of the Australian Parliament, had called for the government to revoke Mr. Newman’s visa this week. In a letter to Mr. Dutton, she cited passages from a book that Mr. Newman co-wrote that called for abortion doctors to be executed. [New York Times10/2/15]

Anti-abortion activists may spend the whole week screaming that they don’t want women punished for having an abortion.  Just like they claim they aren’t against contraception when it serves their purposes, just like they claim they are against violence in the aftermath of each clinic bombing or doctor assassination.

What matters is their language when no one is watching.  The stuff they say when they are surrounded by only true believers.  As they continue to escalate the debate with inflammatory language.  As they publish the names and home addresses of providers.  As they unscientifically claim one contraception method after another is actually abortion.

It is about ending abortion.  It is also about taking reproductive control away from women and forcing them back into the kitchen.  If it was honestly all about abortion we live in a nation that is rich enough to practically eliminate elective abortions.  Abortion could be nothing but a procedure that occurs only during the current “exceptions.”  Rape, incest and the life of the mother or non-viable pregnancy.  We could provide every woman of reproductive age contraception.  We could turn abortion into an incredibly rare procedure, rather than one that is more common than anyone realizes.  But there’s no slut shaming involved there, and it doesn’t serve to reinforce the patriarchy.

Trump says some insane shit.  Trump takes some extreme positions.  Don’t buy the lie that this (even though he did walk it back later) is one of them.  This is a mainstream belief in the GOP.  It just isn’t one they like outsiders to know about.

 

I Didn’t Realize Pigs and Dogs Were Mortal Enemies.

Eating dinner with my mother often results in me catching Inside Edition, since she normally watches it after the CBS evening national news.  Sometimes the CBS news and their insistence on sticking with the “both sides are equally at fault” narrative of US politics sends me on an after dinner “anger dampening”walk with my Chow Chow.  If CBS happens to be unobjectionable that particular evening, it normally ends up being an eye-roll worthy story on Inside Edition that peels me off the couch.  As much as I try to focus, something about “in depth” reports on how to protect yourself from hotel peepers combined with fawning reports of Hugh Jackman rescuing children from Wolverine’s oldest foe, Riptide, tends to distract me from my reading, and any attempt at post-dinner conversation would result in an angry “shush!”  Sop instead, Princess gets her evening walk.

The other night, however, a story on Inside Edition caught my eye and doomed Princess to an extra 30 minutes of waiting before her nightly constitutional.  Here, have a watch.  It is safe for work, although probably not safe for humanity.

Stomach sufficiently turned?  Any explanations for the officers’ reactions?  I mean that one dog was already in a catch-pole.  It wasn’t a threat to that officer.  And yet he still felt the need to shoot the poor dog five times?  And how frightening is it that most of those cases began when the officer went to the wrong address to begin with?  How do you protect against that?

My dog, Princess Lyanna Sarella, is a Chow Chow mix.

Digital Image

Whatever you have heard about Chow behavior, toss it when dealing with Princess.  Well, she is incredibly stubborn, so there is that.  But while she is definitely my dog, she bonded almost as strongly with my mother.  On our morning walks we stop at bus stops so the kids can play with her most mornings.  She loves kids and other dogs.  She’s had a 5 year old pull her tail and jump on top of her (my exes kids.  Sigh.) and the most she would do is walk away.  As soon as we let someone in the house, she accepts them.  (She’ll still sit right by my mother or me until she gets used to them.  She’s protective, but not off-putting about it.)   The only way Princess is going to be a danger to anyone is if that person is attacking me or my mother.

But if the cops come into our yard or home aggressively, she is going to bark.  She wouldn’t attack the cops unless they were physically assaulting my mom or me, but this video, as well as countless (okay, about a hundred thousand) others you can find all over Youtube, tell me she has no better than a coin flips shot of surviving the incident.  Given the Chow Chow’s reputation, the truth is probably much worse than that.

Understand me here please.  I am not saying #doglivesmatter.  I am not suggesting this is in anyway the equal to the systematic racism that both consciously and unconsciously results in the violation of the rights of, and far too often the death of, non-white humans.    I am not saying we should be outraged over this instead of the way some cops seem to think African Americans exist for target practice.  But we can care about more than one thing at a time.

This also adds evidence to the idea that there is something wrong in the mindset of some officers for some reason that obviously goes beyond “a few bad eggs.”  I have always heard/read/thought that officers were taught to use force only when necessary, as a last resort.  Yet so many of the videos that launched #Blacklivesmatter, as well as these dog shooting videos, show police officers using force as the default solution.  Indeed, some seem eager to escalate to lethal force.   It is easy to see how itchy trigger fingers added to existing racial bias, once again, conscious and unconscious, results in dead black men.

It is not a “few bad apples.”  It is not a couple of racist officers dragging everyone’s reputations down.  Something is rotten in our criminal justice system, and I fear that until my fellow white people stop looking at the police through our white privilege colored glasses nothing is going to change.  In fact, with the nation’s recent swing towards authoritarianism, along with the now ever present fear of terrorism, things could get far worse before they get any better.  More illegal searches.  More illegal seizures. More stop and frisk.  More illegal surveillance.  More police militarization.  More SWAT raids for minor offenses.  More innocents dead from SWAT raids. More wrong houses.  More dead dogs.  More flashbanged babies. What 4th Amendment?  More black teens body slammed. And of course, many more dead black people.

Apathy is acceptance.  And I fear far too many of us accept the status quo.

It is our shame.

Let’s Revisit the Blair County Justice System in Honor of Dawn of Justice.

Long time followers of Foster Disbelief will be familiar with some of the ludicrous prison sentences judges in Blair county dole out to drug dealers.  If not, I’ll wait while you do the required research here and here.

You back?  That was quick.  You must be really intelligent to have a reading speed that high.  I’m quite impressed.

As you learned from your research, I have this strange idea that Blair county judges throw any idea of rehabilitation out the window when a drug dealer, even a non-violent offender, finds himself (or herself, dealing is an equal opportunity employer)in front of the bench while acting like big ol’ softies when deciding a less serious case, you know,  such as the sexual abuse of a child, unwanted sexual assault by an employer, or domestic violence.  I mean, I guess it could just be in my head.  *shrug*  Anyway, on to today’s story.

Remember this guy?

A man’s gun reportedly went off in his pocket in the middle of a church service on Saturday in Altoona, Penn., before he handed the weapon off to someone else who allegedly hid it in the pages of a program.

While unnamed in the linked article, the man in question is one Matthew Andrew Crawford.  Am I bringing up his case just so I can reveal the name to my countless (several, definitely more than a few) readers?  Of course not.  No, it seems that Mr. Crawford enjoys activities other than unsafely carrying a concealed weapon in a house of worship.  You know all those good guys with guns; busy, busy, busy!

 

Records in the Blair County Courthouse show that Crawford in 2015 and 2016 has had PFA orders filed against him by three different women.

His past includes additional PFAs dating back to 2007.

In September 2010, Crawford entered pleas to simple assault and disorderly conduct and received nine months’ probation for pulling a .40-caliber Glock handgun on an older stepbrother during an argument over his use of a family vehicle.

It was also reported that he was expelled last year from Mount Aloysius College for possessing two guns while on campus.

Are you keeping track? More illegal possession of firearms? Check! (Damn gun-free zones.  This is Merikkka, dammit!)  Collecting protection from abuse orders as if they were baseball cards?  Check!  (Baseball cards are like the cards in a collectible card game, except each card represents a real player in MLB, and they aren’t part of an addictive game.  I know, us old people are weird.  No, I can’t quite remember why we bought them*.)  Pleading down to an insanely low charge after drawing a deadly weapon on a relative over a meaningless disagreement?  Why of course that’s a check!

I bring this all up because our Mr. Crawford found himself in court recently, and it is important that you understand his previous record to understand why the judge handed down such a harsh sentence to this misunderstood good guy with a gun.  Got it?  On to the latest incident!

In the most recent incident, his girlfriend went to the home to pack in preparation of moving out.

Crawford arrived when she was there. He shut the bedroom door and would not allow her to leave.

Charging documents said he hit her 10 to 15 times with the plunger.

The documents stated he tackled her on the bed and was choking her.

He said he was going to kill her.

In her PFA, the girlfriend said Crawford physically abused her in the past and becomes so angry at the young children in the home that be begins to shake.

Wow.  I don’t want to sound morbid here, but my mother watches a hell of a lot of Investigation Discovery and this sounds like at least 10 different true crime stories I’ve seen there.  Of course, those stories all end when the guy finally and predictably kills his poor estranged wife/girlfriend.  Thankfully in this case, the justice system stepped in, took control, and dealt this guy a severe punishment that will hopefully serve to deter him from the use of violence in the future.  I almost feel sorry for him, knowing how harshly non-violent drug dealers are dealt with in Blair county.

Oh shit.

Wait, that’s my whole thing with the Blair county justice system.  How they, to steal a jailhouse phrase, “knock drug dealer’s dicks into the dirt” while turning a blind eye to crimes I feel are a bit more serious.  No, absolutely not, not here, not now.  It didn’t happen this time.  I’m sure of it.  Judge Kagarise (a county judge who ran for election by stressing his pro-life beliefs, which says more about my area than anything else I could say) had to have crushed this guy, right?  I mean, look at his record!  The PFA’s!  The threats!  The fact that he’s drawn a gun in anger before!  Come on, Blair county, even blind justice gets one right every now and then…….

Blair County Judge Wade A. Kagarise placed Matthew Andrew Crawford, 30, on probation for four years after he entered pleas to terroristic threats and simple assault stemming from a Feb. 6 confrontation with the girlfriend.

You have got to be fucking kidding me.

The girlfriend appeared with other family members in court Thursday to ask the judge to order Crawford, as part of his probation, to follow whatever mental health treatment is recommended following an upcoming evaluation.

She said she fears not only for herself and her household but also for the safety of the public because of Crawford’s violent personality.

His mental health status is not good, she told the judge.

She said he doesn’t take his medication.

Sounds like some good recommendations.  I’d add five to ten up state on their, but I guess you can only ask for the possible.  Hmm, I wonder how the woman in question feels about the sentence of probation?  Maybe she asked the court to go easy on him….

She added that she was also “not thrilled” about the probationary sentence.

Well now, that is one serious understatement, ya think?  How could she be thrilled?  She probably gets Investigation Discovery as well.  She knows which path this story follows to the finish more times than not.

You know, I never do this, but this is a story that you may have a chance to influence.  You see, when Mr. Crawford hopped on down the bunny trail at the Cathedral last Easter eve, causing his gun to get excited and blow its load, he committed a crime.  (Yes, even though we can be sure that was far from the only load blown at a Catholic church in Blair county, if we go by the Grand Jury report.  But those were priests blowing those loads, and no one told the cops to ignore the one Mr. Crawford blew, so a punishment was due.  It was a weak one, but it was still punishment.

Kagarise in December placed Crawford on two years’ probation for the gun blast in the cathedral.

Why is this important?  Because, as I will be the first to tell you, based on personal experience, when you are on county probation, the county owns your ass.  In fact, even though Mr. Crawford was sentenced to only 4 years probation for beating his girlfriend with a plunger (out of love, I’m sure), he is currently in Blair county prison for violating his probation.

While Crawford received probation, he remains in the Blair County Prison because he was on probation for the church shooting incident when the most recent arrest occurred.

He told Kagarise he wanted a probation violation hearing on Thursday. Kagarise indicated he would have to wait awhile longer for that hearing.

“It’s time you got your act together, Mr. Crawford,” the judge said as he explained to Crawford that he could be sentenced to prison for violating terms of his probation.

When the probation hearing occurs, 3 things could happen.  (That’s assuming it’s his Gagnon 2 hearing, which is pretty safe since Gagnon 1’s have to be held 7 to 10 days after the arrest.)

  1.  The Judge decides he has done enough time for the violation and sets him free.
  2.  The Judge decides to sentence him to a jail term that cannot exceed his current probation sentence.  (So since he violated a probation sentence of 2 years, he could conceivably be sentenced to sit in jail until the day his probation was supposed to end.)
  3.   The Judge can take the nuclear option and Revoke and Re-sentence the offender.  In this instance, the Judge scraps the original sentence entirely and substitutes a different reasonable sentence.

In my opinion, the third option is the least likely one.  R&R’s are usually used against, you guessed it, non-violent drug offenders who fuck up on probation as a way to extend the probation.  For a personal example, my original sentence was 18 months of probation.  After being revoked and re-sentenced 4 times, I turned that 18 months into a total of 18 months in county jail, 13 months in state prison, to go with 4 and a half years on county probation followed by 11 months on state parole**.  Yeah, R&R’s can add up fast.  (For those curious, 2 of my R&R’s were caused by getting kicked out of 12 step based treatment facilities due to my atheism.  The other 2 were legit.  *shrugs*)

While I personally feel that 2 years is too light of a sentence for this man, after weighing his past charges, his violent history, the threats he made while assaulting someone he supposedly loved, and the fact that he fucking pulled a gun on someone in anger before, it is still two years.  I do not want to read the paper next month and learn of a murder committed by this jerk.  I do not understand why he wasn’t sent up state yesterday to be honest.  The quickest reason I can come up with is that Judge Kagarise doesn’t really think beating up your girlfriend is a crime, but I’m not going to make that accusation at this point, over one case.  I’m not sure if my voice will matter at all in this instance, but I will be reaching out to Judge Kagarise to let him know that I think Mr. Crawford is a danger to the community and needs to spend a bit more time on ice to pay for his crimes.  And hell, if you feel like chiming in, Judge Wade Kagarise can be reached at his law office, (814) 696-1108.  You can reach out to Blair county probation and parole from this page here, and from this one you can find links to many different departments at the Courthouse to annoy, er, respectfully question.

Maybe someone can explain to me why such serious crimes are met with a “meh” while a bag of heroin turns the judiciary into Judge Dredd.  Until then, remember the following:  Matthew Andrew Crawford got 4 years of probation for threatening to kill his girlfriend while keeping her against her will and beating her with an object.  I got 1 to 2 years in a maximum security state prison for scratching 100$ worth of lottery tickets off at work and then offering to pay for them.

Smells like justice to me.

*Actually, I remember exactly why I bought baseball cards.  Because I had invented a collectible card game to play using them.  Amazing what you can come up with when you have time, imagination, and ten sided dice.

** For those wondering, I finished walking off my state parole in 2007 or 2008.  Since then my only trouble with the law was a speeding ticket.

 

Can I Haz Lawsuit Plz?

From Dispatches from the Culture War:

Apparently pulling a page from Donald Trump’s playbook, Saudi Arabia is now threatening to sue anyone who compares their “justice” system to the extreme form of Sharia law practiced by ISIS in the territory they control. The threat was aimed at someone on Twitter, but they say they’ll go after anyone who makes such a comparison. Okay, I’m game. Your legal system is, if anything, even worse than ISIS.

Saudi Arabia will sue any Twitter user who compares the Kingdom’s recent decision to execute a poet to punishments handed down by Isis…

“The justice ministry will sue the person who described … the sentencing of a man to death for apostasy as being `Isis-like’,” a justice ministry source told newspaper Al-Riyadh…

“Questioning the fairness of the courts is to question the justice of the Kingdom and its judicial system based on Islamic law, which guarantees rights and ensures human dignity”, the source seemingly told the pro-government newspaper.

They claimed the Kingdom’s courts would not hesitate to put on trial “any media that slandered the religious judiciary of the Kingdom”.

I’ll bite.  Hey Saudi Arabia?  Your system of justice is very ISIS-like.

 

School is Now in Session

Greetings, students.  Please find your seat.  I’m not going to call roll today, but I will insist on enforcing our usual “no cross talk” policy.  Today’s lesson will be quick and hopefully, easy to understand.  Ready?

For arguments sake, let’s say that you run an establishment that hosts weddings.  To really crank up the realism in this scenario, let’s also say that you are a horrible bigot.  Now as a horrible bigot who runs a wedding hosting establishment, I am sure you are asking yourself who you are legally allowed to discriminate against.  You know how it is, life is short and you only get so many chances to ruin someone else’s day for no reason other than your own prejudice or outdated cultural beliefs.  The damn government already pissed in your Cheerios by forcing you to open your establishment to black weddings, and it was only by the grace of god that the resulting lingering odor of fried chicken and watermelon stained table cloths that you were positive would be the end result never materialized.  Thanks again, Jesus, for that small blessing.  Then that damn government went and forced you to open your doors to those unbiblical heathen sinners who were engaging in the abomination of miscegenation.

While you were certain god had a lightening bolt with your name on it for allowing that blasphemy to occur, Jesus apparently understood that you were forced by the evil, mean jack-booted federal thugs to permit these weddings, and approved of your little acts of protest (cranking the AC in the winter and the heat in the summer while claiming the system was broken) enough to spare you and your family.  Even though you managed to escape the fires of hell in that instance, when you saw those two carpet-munching man-haters trying to mock god himself by pretending their demon-possessed souls and father-abused bodies could feel love, god’s perfect gift to the world, you had to put your foot down.  After all, it was Adam and Eve, not Audra and Eve, and didn’t god send Aids down from heaven to deal with dykes like this?  And while Jesus himself may not have said anything about homosexuals, the Old Testament and Saul of Tarsus, who most definitely was not a sexually repressed closet case, both condemned the beast like act.

Imagine your surprise when, after honoring your hateful god and turning those sinners away, you found yourselves the proud owners of a 13 thousand dollar fine for discrimination.  You almost swear, before catching yourself of course, wondering what happened to this great nation when god-fearing Christians can’t even discriminate against a couple of queers anymore.  I mean, you weren’t going to stone them to death, even though, biblically, that’s exactly what you should have done.  You just didn’t want their icky gay germs to contaminate your beautiful wedding location.  What’s worse is that if you catch the Aids from breathing the same air as these god haters, the government probably won’t even let you sue them.  How is that fair?  Having not taken this class yet, you call up your lawyer to see if you can do anything about this horrible infringement on your religious liberty.  Your lawyer, after performing a ton of research on your bank account balance, assures you that you should give him a lot of money.  He definitely, without a doubt, is not telling his friends about the unwinnable case he just took on for a couple of rich religious idiots and how, counting appeals, he just paid for his first house, that sports car he always wanted, and an engagement ring for his soon to be trophy wife.  I promise that, after a couple of lines and beers, he never once said to his friends, “Hey, some people hit the lottery, some people inherit, and some people find well-off religious bigots; we all get rich in different ways.”

Now I totally admit that I made our hypothetical business owning bigots into a pair of ridiculous strawmen.  Yet cases such as this one are currently taking place, as students who clicked the above link now know.  Let’s look at that non-hypothetical case, shall we?  Once again, here is the link.

Owners of a New York wedding venue who were fined $US13,000 for violating the state’s anti-discrimination law are arguing Monday that they should be legally allowed to follow their Christian faith.

The owners of Liberty Ridge Farm north of Albany refused to host the 2013 wedding of Melisa and Jennie McCarthy, citing their own religious beliefs. Now the business, owned by Robert and Cynthia Gifford, is appealing a ruling from the state’s Division of Human Rights that it violated New York law and is seeking to have the fine reversed.

Now note first of all that the owners of this particular venue were fined for violating the New York state anti-discrimination law.  Why is this important?  Because if you take a look at that law you will notice that it applies to the following: “age, race, creed, color, national origin, sexual orientation, military status, sex, marital status, or disability.”  Well, will you look at that?  Sexual orientation is included.  Unfortunately that is not always the case in the United States, but in New York state it is part of the law.  So let us see what the bigot’s Gifford’s lawyer is going to argue in this case.

“It would violate the Giffords’s faith to facilitate this union,” attorney Caleb Dalton told a five-judge supreme court appeals panel.

But Dalton, counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, said the Giffords’s faith did not allow them to participate in a marriage other than between one man and one woman.

So it seems that Dalton is arguing that this case sees two rights in conflict:  the McCarthy’s right to access versus the bigot’s Gifford’s right to religious freedom.  Or as the bigot Cynthia Gifford melodramatically puts it:

Cynthia Gifford told reporters they are asking the court to respect the freedoms upon which the United States was built.

“When the government tells you what to say and punishes you if you don’t, it’s very frightening,” she said. “And all of us Americans should be scared about this, no matter where we stand on the issue.”

Now churches, as far as I know, are exempt from anti-discrimination laws.  It would be kind of heavy handed after all to force a church to hire an atheist pastor.  I believe that exemption ends once the employees no longer have any pastoral duties.  My uncertainty on the matter is irrelevant, of course, because the homophobe’s Gifford’s business is not a church.  Their argument is absurd, which you can discover by substituting any of the other protected classes in place of homosexuals and see how long it would take their case to be thrown out of court.  If the Gifford’s bigoted viewpoint became law, you would immediately have various businesses not only refusing service to homosexuals, but also to blacks, interracial couples, women not accompanied by a man, Muslims, Jews, women, Catholics, the disabled, and white males over 50 (that would be my store.  Hey, they may be a Trump supporter, and I’m not taking that chance.), to name a few.  Perhaps the Giffords feel it should only be a narrow exemption allowing the discrimination against homosexuals, but there is not only no logical reason to limit the religious freedom exemption to only that group, it would also be ruled unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court, especially after this year’s ruling on marriage equality.

Now I am sure I have some libertarian students who feel a business owner should be able to serve who ever they want, with the only possible punishment for open bigotry being from the free market.  To those students I kindly say, “Fuck off.”  (I have tenure.)  While they are kindly fucking off, they can remove their cars from the tax funded roads.  Every single business, no matter how small or large, benefits from the public coffers.  Be it the publicly funded roads that their customers travel on, to the publicly funded police force that protects their business, we all depend on public money at some time.  New York state has decided that one of the concessions they demand from people who wish to operate a business in their state is is adherence to the state’s anti-discrimination law.  If you are not willing to obey that law, then you are perfectly free to move your business to a different state or country with laws more to your likings.

We keep hearing people in these situations complain that their religious liberties have been violated.  Bull.  We have freedom of religion in this country, as we have freedom of speech, yet neither freedom is absolute.  I hate the “yelling fire in a crowded theater” example, so instead I will suggest you visit the nearest airport and joke about how long it took you to hide all the bombs in your suitcase.  From your jail cell, please write me and let me know what they said when you played your “freedom of speech” trump card.  Religious freedom has limits as well.  Even if I sincerely believe that the only way to please Jesus and get into heaven is by using copious amounts of heroin, the drug task force is not going to allow me to freely practice my religion.  Child sacrifice, ritual cannibalism, marrying multiple 12 year olds, and the withholding of medical care from minor children are just some of the “sincerely held religious beliefs” we have decided, as a society, are not to be protected.  Your religious freedom stops when it begins to affect the freedoms of other people.

You can march in bigot parades every weekend.  You can attend and tithe a church that preaches that Starbucks includes human semen in their lattes.  You can write internet post after internet post about how all homosexuals are going to burn in everlasting hell.  You can even preach that the bible calls for the death penalty for homosexuals, at an event with presidential candidates in attendance.

What you can not do, assuming you are in a state that protects people from discrimination based on their sexual orientation, is deny them the same services you offer to everybody else.  It really isn’t that difficult of a concept.

Quiz on Friday.  Enjoy the rest of your day.

 

Insert Comment About Inmates, the Asylum, and Who Happens to be in Charge Here:

From ThinkProgress:

Two-thirds of North Carolina Republican voters would support immediately impeaching Hillary Clinton if she’s elected president, according to a poll released Tuesday.

Conducted by Public Policy Polling, the survey drew from the responses of 425 self-identified Republicans likely to vote in the 2016 presidential primary. Along with various questions about the Republican candidates, it asked voters if they would either “support or oppose impeaching [Clinton] the day she takes office.”

Sixty-six percent of respondents said they would support immediate impeachment for Clinton, while only 24 percent said they would oppose it. Ten percent said they were not sure, according to the poll.

This follows, of course,  congressman Mo Brooks (AL-Guess) making the following statement in a radio interview on The Matt Murphy Show:

“In my judgement, with respect to Hillary Clinton, she will be a unique president if she is elected by the public next November,” Brooks said. “Because the day she’s sworn in is the day that she’s subject to impeachment.”

There is a portion of the Republican party that doesn’t care anymore about democracy, the will of the people, or the United States’ system of government.  We’ve already seen members of Congress such as the House Freedom Caucus who oppose any compromise with the opposition party, which effectively breaks a two party non-parliamentary system of government, and we’ve seen congressional districts that will use primary elections to punish any Republicans not seen as “ideologically pure” enough.  (Ask Eric Cantor, former House Majority Leader, among others.)  This cycle we have seen even the “mainstream” GOP presidential candidates go overboard opposing church-state separation.  Several have spoken out against the 14th Amendment as a side dish to their race-baiting xenophobia while others claim that the president is free to ignore Supreme Court decisions with which he  or she disagrees.  So much for that document the conservatives all claim to love so much.  I guess the second is the only amendment they care about.

The current GOP takes every possible opportunity to move forward with the backdoor elimination of reproductive health services.  Pro-life advocates, emboldened by their success, move the goal posts suddenly start moving against multiple forms of birth control that they claim act as abortifacients.  (Just like we said they would.  And we were told we were crazy.)  They don’t want to stop abortions, they want to punish women for being sexually activeLook at Colorado if you don’t believe it.

They continue to push for voter ID laws, the stricter the better, in spite of study after study showing the laws disenfranchise large numbers of minority and lower income voters practically exclusively, some say by design, without any evidence that the law is needed or indeed, that the crime it is set up to stop, in person voter fraud, even happens outside of exceedingly rare cases.  Pennsylvania Republican House Leader Mike Turzai openly admitted the laws are a partisan political strategy and they still push these laws.  (Although watching the current US Congress, I guess that isn’t much of a surprise.  *cough*Benghazi*cough*)

Why would they accept a Hillary Clinton election victory?  Obama won twice and they never treated him as the legitimately elected President of the United States. They impeached her husband over a fucking blow job.  Why wouldn’t they use their power in the gerrymandered House to ignore the results of a legitimate election?

Blair County’s Idiotic “Justice” System, Take 217

Ya gotta love Blair county.  Our conservative judges think nothing of piling on sentences that beg to be overturned by a higher court, such as the Carter case, where a non-violent drug dealer was sentenced to 104 to 216 years in prison.   I’m sure you can tell that rehabilitation wasn’t high on the list of things the judge cared about.  Yet Blair county seems to have another disturbing trend when it comes to prison sentencing; wrist slaps for sexual assault of a minor.  If you follow the above link to a previous story here at Foster Disbelief, you’ll see that I was comparing Gene “Shorty” Carter’s sentence with the following sentence that was just announced at the time of publication:

A 39-year-old Centre County man who entered a no contest plea to indecently assaulting a 5-year-old Tyrone girl will be required to register his whereabouts with state police for the rest of his life.

Kevin J. Ross, 39, 1052 W. Fowler Hollow Road, Port Matilda, agreed to the requirement in Blair County court on Monday, where he also pleaded no contest to corruption of minors.

Judge Jolene G. Kopriva handed down the negotiated sentence of three to 23 months in prison, followed by five years probation. Because Ross already served five months in prison before posting bail, he was credited for time served and allowed to remain free.

3 months for “indecently” assaulting a five year old.  Full disclosure?  I was sentenced to 1 to 2 years in state prison for a probation violation.  I guess I should have had his lawyer….and judge.

Another wrist slap was recently handed down, and although the case isn’t the abuse of a five year old, it still involves a minor, this time with her creepy boss:

Samy El Masry, 64, who owned Samboli’s Restaurant at 25 W. 10th St., Tyrone, was accused 19 months ago of improperly touching, kissing and making sexual comments to male and female teens who were part-time workers.

The incidents occurred between April 1, 2013, and March 2, 2014.

On March 3, 2014, a 16-year-old girl and her parents reported to Tyrone police that the day before, when the girl began working at the restaurant, El Masry made comments to her such as, “I bet if I cooked you in the oven, you’d taste yummy.”

The girl said she was touched throughout the evening, and El Masry requested to kiss her. She replied, “No,” according to the police affidavit of probable cause.

He allegedly ignored the rejection, kissed her and then made a sexual comment.

He then paid her $20 in hush money and offered to buy her anything she wanted, including diamonds, the affidavit stated.

When her story came out, several other Tyrone Area High School students who had worked at the pizza shop said they, too, were harassed by El Masry.

Ew.  I mean, just….ew.  “You’d taste yummy”?

So we have a serial offender harassing teenage girls who work for him.  It appears that, luckily, nothing ever went beyond some groping and a forced kiss or two, but we can’t know that for sure.  We just know that among those victims who came forward, nothing more serious than the above occurred.  Some of you may even be reading this (and I really hope no one is, but…) thinking the guy may have been creepy but not criminal.  But the power differential between employee/employer is huge.  Saying “no” to your boss could cost you hours, shifts, good sections, or even your job.  Depending on how badly the employee in question needed the job, the pressure to do something they did not want to do could have been immense.  (And I hope I don’t even have to say this, but forcibly kissing someone and/or groping/touching someone when they don’t want you to be touching them is seriously not fucking okay.)

Now I’m not suggesting that this guy should be locked up for the next ten years.  I’m not actually sure what an appropriate sentence would be for him, to be honest.  But it deserves something, because this case just screams “potential rapist” to me.  He’s a repeat perv, and has already stepped over enough boundaries to make me wonder where, or for that matter, if, he would stop.  (Seriously people, if someone doesn’t want to kiss you and they don’t want you feeling them up, then don’t kiss them and keep your grimy hands off of them.  It really isn’t that fucking difficult.)  So while I am not sure what sentence I would hand down if I was the judge, this sentence is a joke.

El Masry was initially charged with 28 offenses. After spending seven months in the Blair County Prison, he entered pleas to one count each of unlawful contract with a minor, indecent assault, corruption of minors and harassment.

Blair County Judge Wade Kagarise sentenced El Masry to time served to 23 1/2 months in prison followed by 10 years’ probation.

“Priorities, people,” Judge Kagarise didn’t say after handing down the sentence.  “If we lock up all the sex offenders for long sentences, then we won’t have enough beds for the non-violent drug offenders.”