Gov. Tom Corbett

The "People Who Need To Be Punched In The Face" awards…

I think that this would make a good trophy, don’t you?

Because I know myself better than anyone, I decided a long time ago that I’d never buy myself a gun.

Why? Because my Jackass Tolerance has whittled down to nothing over the last 47 years and I may decide to bust a cap in a jackass when I come across one. Seeing that as a reporter I come across jackasses often, I’d probably be considered a serial killer if given a proper firearm.

But while being a reporter means that I come across jackasses often, the Torrent of Jackass has been more like a flood of late.

Between the battle over birth control, something that I thought we all had settled already, to Voter ID laws, to the very existence of Rick Santorum and the recent reminder that we all got that it’s still not safe to be a young Black man armed with a pack of Skittles in this country, I’m awash in jackasses.

But since I don’t have a gun, and for the reasons I’ve mentioned above it’s probably a good thing, the only course of action that I could see myself taking if I ran across any of the jackasses that have littered my path of late is to do what the gentleman pictured above, Muhammad Ali, was really, really good at.

In his heyday, Ali was probably one of the best at Punching People In The Face.

Now I understand that punching people in the face when you’re not in a boxing ring is illegal. And I also realize that many of the people who most deserve to be punched in the face for their actions of late have very large people that they pay for (or in the case of our elected officials, we pay for) to protect them from having folks like me walk up and, well, punch them in the face.

But if I knew that I could punch someone in the face, and not go to jail or get busted up for it, there’s a whole line of people that I’d love to take a swing at because of their special brand of red-hot ignorance… So it is in that vein that I would like to announce the inaugural People Who Need To Be Punched In The Face Awards.

Before we start, some caveats: First of all, the People Who Need To Be Punched In The Face Awards are not literal. I do not now, or will ever, encourage anyone to punch any of these people in the face. This is a metaphoric designation. Secondly, this is non-partisan. There are going to be people of all political stripes deserving of a (metaphoric) punch in the face as this goes on.

And thirdly, I don’t think that I should be the only one having fun with this. If you know someone who deserves a People Who Need To Be Punched In The Face designation, let me know. The Mad (political) Scientist Facebook Page will be up and running soon, so you can put your recommendations either here, on the blog, or on that page.

So now, without further ado, here is the first group of People Who Need To Be Punched In The Face Awards….

Because I believe that charity begins at home, the first of this week’s People Who Need To Be Punched In The Face is Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett.

In all honesty, I didn’t know whether to nominate Gov. Corbett for his championing and signing the voter ID law that I talked about in a previous posting or for cutting education funding to the bone while allowing the Marcellus Shale drillers to make our water undrinkable for practically nothing.

But at a news conference in which he talked about how happy he was to sign a voter ID law that was totally unnecessary, Gov. Corbett was asked about yet another one of those Really Bad Ideas That Will Probably Become Law In Pennsylvania, a trans-vaginal ultrasound law.

Under this law, which has been passed in other connotations in places like Virginia, women would be forced to submit to an ultrasound featuring an internal probe before having an abortion. This is on top of the 24-hour waiting period that women are already forced to go through in Pennsylvania to obtain an abortion. His response made me say…”Wow! He should be Punched In The Face!

I sometimes wonder if the guys who come up with these laws have kids…and if so, if any of these kids are female. If you’re a dude who has female children and you can come up with some nonsense like this, I have to question how you can look these female children in the face without at least apologizing to them.

But then again, some of the most heinous of these laws that seek to take away reproductive choice have, believe it or not, been proposed by women. So what do I know?

The next recipient of a People Who Need To Be Punched In The Face Award is another person taking on the same topic: the reproductive freedom of the women in his state.

This entry comes from Georgia and it’s from the fevered mind of Rep. Terry England. Rep. England has proposed a bill that would make women who have been informed that their child will be stillborn carry the fetus to term and deliver it naturally instead of being allowed the more humane choice of having it removed.

Now we could talk about how doing that would lead to the mother possibly dying because carrying a dead body inside of you for any length of time has to be harmful. But in the mind of this Person Who Really Needs To Be Punched In The Face, it should be okay.

I mean, livestock do it all of the time…

So let’s review: Women with stillborn children should be forced to carry those children to term because hey, chickens and cows do it…so why can’t they?

As Forrest Gump would say, “Stupid is as stupid does…”

But as Your Mad (political) Scientist Says, somebody needs to be Punched In The Face…

Last but not least, my last People Who Need To Be Punched In The Face Award “winner” is another one of those examples of why you don’t have to worry about Your Mad (political) Scientist moving anywhere below the Mason/Dixon Line.

You see, while Pennsylvania has passed some really stupid laws based on some really bad ideas, most of those really, really bad ideas have come from the American South. Among those laws is a law that allows folks to, well, be able to shoot first and ask questions never if they feel threatened by someone. Notice I say “feel threatened”. This person doesn’t actually have to do anything to you.

And it is a manifestation of what happened when one of these laws was followed in Florida that leads to my making George Zimmerman and the Sanford, Fla. Police Department the last of my  People Who Need To Be Punched In The Face.

You probably know the story now. On Feb. 24, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin walked to a convenience store in Sanford to get a pack of Skittles for his little brother and an iced tea for himself. As he walked down the street with his hoodie over his head, town watch person George Zimmerman observed Trayvon as he was “walking around, looking about”.

By the end of the night, Trayvon was dead by the hand of Zimmerman, who had been the subject of a complaint from other residents regarding his Town Watch approach. He had called Sanford police when he first saw Trayvon…and the police told him not to get out of the car. But Zimmerman not only followed Trayvon around, but he got out of the car, fought with him, and later shot him.

Just in case you want to hear the 9-1-1 tapes connected to this incident, here they are:

My favorite part of the whole thing: when Zimmerman says “The assholes always get away…”

Now you have stalking. You have a guy shooting an unarmed kid. You have a guy disobeying a direct order from police. So tell me again why Zimmerman isn’t occupying a cell in Administrative Detention (where they put inmates that would get beaten to death in General Population) in Sanford?

Because the Sanford Police don’t think that Zimmerman has done anything wrong. They say that he’s a good guy and that this is a clean shoot.

Shenanigans! Shenanigans, big time!

Now I understand that Zimmerman has moved from his home and isn’t taking calls because people are threatening him behind Trayvon’s death. While I don’t think that’s cool, I also don’t think it’s cool that he’s walking around after shooting a 17-year-old armed with a bag of Skittles and a can of iced tea.

Notice that I haven’t even brought up the whole White Man/Black Kid thing…

But it’s kind of the reason why I hope the Department of Justice takes a look at this. It’s obvious to me that if we’re waiting for the Sanford Police to do something, we’re gonna have a long wait. Maybe the Justice Department will move a little faster. Or at all. That seems like the only way that the Martin family will get justice…

And that, ladies and gentlemen, ends this week’s People Who Need To Be Punched In The Face Awards.

Hope that you had as much fun as I did picking the winners! Remember: you can leave your own nominations on the blog here or on our Facebook page once it’s up and running. Thank you and Goodnight!


Letter from a Philadelphia Jail…

My friend Vince, working to get out the vote…

Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t lead off my column with a picture of one of my friends.

But in this case, leading off with a picture of my friend Vincent Thompson makes sense because in the 20-plus years that I’ve known him, I’ve never heard of any issue that he’s felt passionately enough about to commit an act of civil disobedience.

Now what issue has made my friend, a Democratic committee person in South Philadelphia, willing to go all the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on us?

The right to vote in Pennsylvania.

I’ll explain.

As I often say here at The Mad (political) Scientist, I love Philadephia, but Pennsylvania makes me scratch my head so hard sometimes that I’m surprised I haven’t scraped up some of my brain.

A big part of that is because I’ve never seen a state so willing to take on everyone else’s really, really bad ideas. If there’s an idea that shouldn’t be tried anywhere ranging from hyper-restrictive abortion laws to lawsuits filed to fight for your right to not have health insurance (this chestnut filed by our former Attorney General, now Governor Tom Corbett), we’re not only going to try it here, but we’re going to follow the True Definition Of Insanity when we apply it.

(For those of you who don’t know what the True Definition of Insanity is, it’s doing the same thing, the exact same way, and yet expecting a different result.)

This week’s Really Bad Idea That Will Soon Become Law In Pennsylvania is the Commonwealth’s new Voter ID law. Under this law, which is modeled after Voter ID laws in places even more backward than Pennsylvania like Texas, Indiana and Alabama, people who come out to the polls will not be able to vote…and have their votes counted that day…unless they produce a state-sanctioned photo ID, such as a driver’s license or a state ID card. Now you can vote if you don’t have a state-sponsored ID, but that vote won’t count unless you come to your county’s Board of Elections with a state-sponsored picture ID within six days.

The reason why this law is on its way to being put on the books is because Gov. Corbett, like most good Republicans these days, believes that there’s serious voter fraud going on. Otherwise, how else would a Black Man From Chicago With A Funny Name have ever become President Of The United States?

The only way that Barack Obama could have succeeded in becoming the first Kenyan-born, Secret Muslim, Manchurian Candidate Sent To Ruin America to become President is by people going to the polls and impersonating other people, voting, and influencing the outcome. Or at least, that’s the logic at work here.

The Commonwealth has pledged $4 million to implement this law, including $1 million that’s supposed to go toward getting people these state-sponsored IDs.

(Now, we could talk about how Philadelphia alone will burn through this $1 million in a week, and also about how I really wish that people cared enough about voting to want to go around committing identity fraud in order to do it, but I would be bringing logic into a situation that has, thus far, steadfastly resisted it….and Lord knows that we can’t have that!)

Needless to say, folks are losing their minds over this.

The American Association of Retired Persons, otherwise know as AARP, is saying that it’s going to make it harder for senior citizens, some of whom may have been born in a house and don’t have the birth certificate needed to get the ID. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, otherwise known as the NAACP, is saying that this is designed to keep people of color out of the voting booth, just in time for the November elections. And the American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, says it’s just plain unconstitutional.

Even the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, a group that’s notorious for not even  being able to agree on what to have for lunch during a meeting, have agreed that the law is a very bad idea.

Add to this that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is to get anything like a birth certificate or state ID request processed quickly in Pennsylvania and that this Really Bad Idea That’s About To Become Law In Pennsylvania won’t officially take effect until November (just in time for the 2012 Presidential Elections if you’re keeping score at home), and you might understand why these groups are sounding the alarm.

From the moment that these laws started dotting the national landscape, or put more succinctly, dotting the landscape in places where Republicans control all phases of government, it’s been kind of hard not to notice at where they’re aimed.

Statistically, cities, college towns, and other places similar to this are places where state-sponsored ID isn’t necessarily the Coin of the Realm. In fact, when I cast my first vote in my South Philadelphia polling place, the only ID I needed was a copy of my electric bill to prove that I lived where I said I lived.

But since cities, college towns, and other places similar to these came out in droves for President Obama during the 2008 elections and turned states like Pennsylvania so blue that they could be mistaken for the Atlantic Ocean, folks have decided to put the clamps down.

Now let’s be honest here. These laws aren’t as much about voter fraud as they are about voter suppression. If you keep city dwellers, people who are older, younger, and poorer from accessing the polls however possible, you keep them from voting against the interests of the True Elites, which have been trying to get their country back since the G.I. Bill was passed after World War II, giving everyone a shot at a good education.

And don’t even get me started on how dangerous it is to allow other disenfranchised groups like people of color to vote. Hell, they may vote to allow such things as letting gays and lesbians get married if they’re allowed to stay in the voting pool…and Lord knows we can’t have that!

To it’s credit, the Department of Justice has noticed, and has struck a few of these laws down. In fact, Texas’s went down via the DOJ on Monday. Also, a local coalition here in Philadelphia that includes the National Action Network, NAACP,  Radio One, a voting rights group called the Committee of Seventy, labor unions and politicians has formed to make sure that this law doesn’t pack the punch that it could.
Among the people who are a part of this coalition is my friend Vincent.  

Upon hearing about this law, and how folks could end up not being allowed to exercise the franchise, Vince, who is still the best political reporter I know despite not having done it full-time for a while, got the kind of pissed off that I’ve only seen him get when you mess with his family.  We must have talked about the Voter ID for at least two hours over dinner at the Broad Street Diner one night.  He had been watching the debate over the bill throughout the day on the Pennsylvania Cable Network, the Commonwealth’s version of C-Span.

The more he watched, the madder he got.

So he made a decision. If someone came to his polling place without a photo ID, he’d not only make sure that they got to polls, but he’d also make sure that their vote counted that day.

“I come from a people whose ancestors got water hoses turned on them, dogs sicced on them, and in some cases got murdered to give me the right to vote,” he said. “Black people have only had the right to vote for real for 40 years. I’m not going to let anyone get disenfranchised by a law that’s a solution in search of a problem.”

Then he said, “I’m willing to go to jail over this. This is about the right to vote. That’s too important to me.”

Hopefully, it won’t come down to that.

But just in case it does, I’m officially announcing the Vincent E. Thompson Bail Fund right now…

……because friends don’t let friends stay in jail overnight for fighting as the ancestors taught us…