I’ve been getting a real kick out of watching Washington state’s big legislative changes. First, marriage equality has come to the most NE of the lower 50 states. It’s been a pleasure to see the happy faces of long time couples who finally have some public recognition of their love and commitment. Governor Chris Gregoire signed the bill into law and the licenses are flowing!
Gov. Chris Gregoire has signed into law a measure that legalizes same-sex marriage in Washington state, which now joins several other states that allow gay and lesbian couples to wed.
Gregoire and Secretary of State Sam Reed certified the election on Wednesday afternoon, as they were joined by couples who plan to wed and community activists who worked on the campaign supporting gay marriage. The law doesn’t take effect until Thursday, when gay and lesbian couples can start picking up their wedding certificates and licenses at county auditors’ offices. King County, the state’s largest and home to Seattle, and Thurston County, home to the state capital of Olympia, will open the earliest, at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, to start issuing marriage licenses.
In Seattle, Kelly Middleton and her partner Amanda Dollente got in line to wait for their license at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
“We knew it was going to happen, but it’s still surreal,” said Dollente, 29.
By 10 p.m., dozens of people had joined the queue and the mood was festive.
Volunteers distributed roses and a group of men and women serenaded the waiting line to the tune of “Going to the Chapel.”
Asked whether the middle-of-the-night marriage license roll-out was necessary, King County Executive Dow Constantine said, “People who have been waiting all these years to have their rights recognized should not have to wait one minute longer.”
Because the state has a three-day waiting period, the earliest that weddings can take place is Sunday. Same-sex couples who previously were married in another state that allows gay marriage, like Massachusetts, will not have to get remarried in Washington state. Their marriages will be valid here as soon as the law takes effect.
“This is a very important and historic day in the great state of Washington,” Gregoire said before signing the measure that officially certified the election results. “For many years now we’ve said one more step, one more step. And this is our last step for marriage equality in the state of Washington.”
Photojournalist Meryl Schenker took this picture very early this morning in Washington state, in the first hours when same-sex couples could get marriage licenses. Meryl writes:
One month after Washington State voters approved the state’s marriage equality law in Ref. 74, same-sex couples get marriage licenses for the first time on December 6th, 2012. At around 1:30am, Larry Duncan, 56, left, and Randy Shepherd, 48, from North Bend, Wash. got their marriage license. The two plan to wed on December 9th, the first day it is possible for them to wed in a church in Washington State. They have been together for 11 years. Originally from Dallas, Texas, they moved here 7 years ago because it’s more gay friendly. Randy is a computer programer and Larry is a retired psychology nurse.
The crowds of happy people lighting joints under Seattle’s Space Needle early Thursday morning with nary a police officer in sight bespoke the new reality: Marijuana is legal under Washington state law.
Hundreds gathered at Seattle Center for a New Year’s Eve-style countdown to 12 a.m., when the legalization measure passed by voters last month took effect. When the clock struck, they cheered and sparked up in unison.
A few dozen people gathered on a sidewalk outside the north Seattle headquarters of the annual Hempfest celebration and did the same, offering joints to reporters and blowing smoke into television news cameras.
“I feel like a kid in a candy store!” shouted Hempfest volunteer Darby Hageman. “It’s all becoming real now!”
Washington and Colorado became the first states to vote to decriminalize and regulate the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana by adults over 21. Both measures call for setting up state licensing schemes for pot growers, processors and retail stores. Colorado’s law is set to take effect by Jan. 5.
Well, here I sit in the wonderful city of New Orleans trapped by the likes of Crazy Bobby Jindal who wants the christian creation myth taught as science, has now created a situation where there will be only one bed for gun shot victims at LSU med center, and is in the process of ruining everything that was functional about our public schools, our higher education system, and our health care delivery system. It’s hard not want to sell the kathouse and head out.
Exactly, what is it that jerks like Jindal have swallowed to make them so wedded to insane, dated, and completely untrue magical thinking. Why does the press continue to expand the dialogue to include the expressions of folks that just plain lie and spread hate? It’s gone way beyond a difference of opinion to a war on sane, rational thought. For your consideration, NYT hack Ross Douthat whose views on women are worthy of a Salem Witch Trial. I’ve some what avoided discussing his column but it just won’t die a good and necessary death. Evidently, Douthat believes that women that don’t stay home and spit those babies out of the vag are decadent. How do idiots like this get space in any major newspaper? Here’s a response to the hooplah he created with his Sunday Column.
Likewise for readers who regard any talk about the moral weight of reproductive choices as a subtle attempt to reimpose the patriarchy: Can it really be that having achieved so much independence and autonomy and professional success, today’s Western women have no moral interest in seeing that as many women are born into the possibility of similar opportunities tomorrow? Is the feminist revolution such a fragile thing that it requires outright population decline to fulfill its goals, and is female advancement really incompatible with the goal of a modestly above-replacement birthrate? Indeed, isn’t it just possible that a modern culture that celebrated the moral component of childrearing more fully would end up serving certain feminist ends, rather than undermining them — by making public policy more friendly to work-life balance, by putting more cultural pressure on men to be involved fathers rather than slackers and deadbeat dads, and so on?
Okay, enough rhetorical questions. It’s the nature of social conservatives to be cranky about contemporary trends, often to a fault. But it’s also the nature of decadent societies to deny that the category of “decadence” exists. And what Yglesias calls nuttiness still looks like moral common sense to me — a view of intergenerational obligation that human flourishing depends on, and whose disappearance threatens to sacrifice essential goods and relationships on the altar of more transient forms of satisfaction.
So, my next question is why is this all women’s fault? Also, who the hell thinks American’s lower birthrate is a problem anyway? Here’s the original piece if you can stand to read the ignorance. It’s true we don’t value children in our society but to talk about tripping women into having more of them when we don’t nurture and protect the children we have today is just insanity.
We have to celebrate the fact that Jim Demint is chasing more money in the private sector and hooking up with the faux research compiled these days bye the Heritage Foundation. At least the foundation and Demint are being honest about the fact that it’s all about spreading the lies that benefit their donor class. Is he really looking for a new pulpit or just a bigger pay check? Can the Heritage Foundation even fake being a ‘think tank’ any more since Demint’s ability to contribute anything other than dogma and political cronies is questionable.
His imminent departure to head a well-financed organization with significant heft in conservative circles will allow him to oppose even more loudly a big budget deal that includes higher tax revenues sought by President Obama. Mr. DeMint has been a loud Republican critic of a deal proffered by House Speaker John A. Boehner to address the impending fiscal crisis by generating at least $800 billion in new tax revenue.
“I’m leaving the Senate now, but I’m not leaving the fight,” Mr. DeMint said in a statement. “I’ve decided to join the Heritage Foundation at a time when the conservative movement needs strong leadership in the battle of ideas.”
In a parting shot — or perhaps warning flare — Mr. DeMint on Thursday suggested to Rush Limbaugh that Mr. Boehner might need to watch his back. When asked if Mr. Boehner was forcing him out, Mr. DeMint replied, “It might work a little bit the other way, Rush.”
The job switch should have substantial financial benefits for Mr. DeMint, whose 2010 net worth, $65,000, was among the lowest in the Senate. Edwin J. Feulner, the current head of the foundation, in 2010 earned $1,098,612 in total compensation.
A hero to many Republicans for his campaign fund-raising abilities, Mr. DeMint frustrated Senate colleagues by eagerly backing Republican candidates like Sharron Angle of Nevada, Ken Buck of Colorado and Christine O’Donnell of Delaware in 2010, and Richard Mourdock of Indiana and Todd Akin of Missouri this year, contenders who proved too conservative to be elected statewide. Those losses set back Mr. DeMint’s effort to bring the fiery conservatism of the House to the Senate, though he did have a hand in electing Senators Mike Lee of Utah, Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas, who takes office next month.
“The truth is that Jim DeMint’s philosophy on everything from Medicare to women’s reproductive rights, as embodied by his handpicked candidates for Congress, has been rejected by voters,” said Senator Patty Murray of Washington, who headed the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee this year. Privately, so as not to inflame him, several Republicans also said Mr. DeMint’s departure would produce few tears among them.
Here’s a story that will let you know just how twisted the US justice system can be. This is from The Guardian because–you know–the US media can’t possibly question our infallibility or exceptionalism. Once again, the Louisiana justice system failed its duties. Fortunately, DNA testing has freed him. Thibodeauz was joined by others freed by the Innocence Project. He’s the young white man in the white T shirt in the picture below.
Every morning Damon Thibodeaux wakes up in his temporary digs in Minneapolis and wonders when his newfound freedom is going to come crashing down. “You think you’re going to wake up and find it was just a dream,” he says.
When he stepped out of Angola jail in Louisiana several guards were at the gate to wish him well, addressing him for the first time in 16 years as “Mr Thibodeaux”. “No offence,” he said, “but I hope I never see you again.”
He walked out as the 300th prisoner in the US to be freed as a result of DNA testing and one of 18 exonerated from death row. With the help of science he has been proved innocent of a crime for which the state of Louisiana spent 15 years trying to kill him.
For those years Thibodeaux was in a cell 1.8 metres by 3 metres for 23 hours a day. His only luxury was a morning coffee, made using a handkerchief as a filter with coffee bought from the prison shop; his only consolation was reading reading the Bible; his only exercise pacing up and down for an hour a day in a the “exercise yard”– a metal cage slightly larger than his cell.
Like most death rows in the United States, the prisoners in Angola are treated as living dead things: they are going to be executed so why bother rehabilitating them? He watched as two of his fellow inmates were taken away to the death chamber, trying unsuccessfully not to dwell on his own impending execution. “It was like, one day they may be coming for you. At any time, a judge can sign an order and they can come and take you and kill you.”
At the lowest point, he says he felt such hopelessness that he considered dropping all his appeals and giving up. He would become a “volunteer” – one of those prisoners who are assumed positively to want to die but so often simply lack the will to live. He read the Bible some more, shared his fears with other prisoners through the bars and found a new resolution. “I came to terms with the fact that I was going to die for something I didn’t do. Truthfully, we’re all going to die anyway; it made it a lot easier.”
With little hope, he pressed on with his appeals and, almost imperceptibly at first, fortune’s wheel began to turn. A lawyer assigned to his post-conviction appeal became concerned by his case, and she in turn enlisted the help of the Innocence Project in New York, a national group devoted to exonerating wrongfully convicted people through DNA testing.
Also drawn into the fray were a pair of Minneapolis-based lawyers from the commercial firm Fredrikson & Byron. In his day job Steven Kaplan works on mergers and acquisitions, not rape and murder, but he threw himself at the Thibodeaux case pro bono.
As soon as Kaplan began reading the legal papers relating to Thibodeaux’s death sentence, he was astonished. He had never worked on a capital case before and, like most people unversed in the finer details of the death penalty in America, had assumed that the judicial process must have adhered to the very highest legal standards. After all, a man’s life was at stake.
“When I read the transcript of the trial for the first time, I thought to myself that the high school mock trial team that I coached of 15- to 17-year-olds would have run rings around the lawyers in that courtroom,” said Kaplan. “We put more energy into a $50,000 contract dispute than went into the defence at the Damon Thibodeaux trial.”
The sequence of events that put Thibodeaux on to death row began on 19 July 1996. He was 22 and worked as a deckhand on Mississippi river barges.
Two weeks earlier he had moved back to New Orleans, where his mother and sister lived, to help out with his sister’s wedding. He started hanging out with the Champagne family, distant relatives, who had a flat in a neighbouring suburb.
He spent 19 July at the Champagne home with the father, CJ, mother, Dawn, and 14-year-old daughter, Crystal. At about 5pm Crystal asked Thibodeaux to go with her to the local Winn-Dixie supermarket but he was busy mending CJ’s watch. She left the house on her own at 5.15pm.
When she was not back more than an hour later her mother became alarmed and they began a search, Thibodeaux joining the effort. They called the police and searched through the night and through the following day.
It was not until after 6pm on 20 July that Thibodeaux went back to his mother’s house and lay down to rest. He was just falling asleep when police arrived and asked him to come with them.
That was at 7.32pm. At 7.40pm Crystal’s body was found on the banks of the Mississippi, about five miles from the Champagnes’ home. The news was transmitted to the detectives quizzing Thibodeaux and instantly a routine missing-person interview became a homicide interrogation.
So, I’ve really overrun my usual self-imposed limit today of shares but some of these stories really frosted my cupcakes. I really worry about our country. Today’s reads showed that there are places where things are hopeful and places where things just aren’t right.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Some of the links this morning are upsetting. I will just put that out there.
Let’s start with a bang shall we?
In Texas yesterday, there was yet another execution. Scalia Denies Stay, Allows Execution of Mentally Retarded Man in Texas | FDL News Desk
The Supreme Court justices have jurisdiction over various regions of the country when it comes to injunctions, particularly when it comes to stays of execution. In the case of Marvin Wilson, the mentally retarded man with an IQ of 61 and an intelligence level of a 6 year-old, set to die today in Texas in conjunction with a murder conviction, that appeal had to go through none other than Justice Antonin Scalia. Justice Scalia wrote a dissent in the case of Atkins v. Virginia, which established the ban on executing the mentally retarded (Texas, like other states, got to set their own standards for what constitutes “retarded,” and as such plowed ahead with the execution of Wilson today). Scalia wrote that, because “Only the severely or profoundly mentally retarded, commonly known as ìidiots, enjoyed any special status under the law” in 1791, around the time of the establishment of the Eighth Amendment, he disagreed with the ruling. And so it should come as no surprise that he submitted this short response to the stay of Marvin Wilson today.
The application for stay of execution of sentence of death presented to Justice Scalia and by him referred to the Court is denied. The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.
Another article: ‘Mentally disabled’ man executed in Texas | The Raw Story
Authorities in the southern US state of Texas executed an African American man on Tuesday despite protests from human rights groups that said he was mentally disabled.
Marvin Wilson, 54, who was condemned to death for a killing a police informant in 1992, was declared dead by lethal injection at 6:27 pm (2327 GMT), according to a release from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
The US Supreme Court rejected a final appeal from defense lawyers in the hours before the execution.
Amnesty International called the decision “highly disturbing” and several other rights groups criticized the sentence.
In 2004, Wilson was diagnosed with mild mental retardation, with an IQ of 61 — well below the average for his age, according to the American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD).
“We are gravely disappointed and profoundly saddened that the US Supreme Court has refused to intervene to prevent tonight’s scheduled execution,” Wilson’s attorney, Lee Kovarsky, said earlier Tuesday.
“It is outrageous that the state of Texas continues to utilize unscientific guidelines… to determine which citizens with intellectual disability are exempt from execution,” he added.
Prior to his execution, Wilson told family members he loved them.
“Take me home Jesus. Take me home Lord. I love you all. I’m ready,” Wilson said in his final statement, according to authorities.
In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled against executing mentally disabled convicts but left it to individual states to determine what constitutes a mental handicap.
According to the Texas definition, Wilson did not suffer from mental disability.
Texas, the state that gave us Rick Perry…makes you wonder just what does qualify as mentally disabled.
Oh, and then I saw the latest from Kevin Drum and was going to comment on it, but I think this next link does a better job of it: Bang The Harry Reid Drum, Stupidly | Angry Black Lady Chronicles
K-Drum has his head shoved up his ass again, I see.
An awful lot of liberals disagree. Typical reasons include sophistry (“PolitiFact doesn’t know that Romney paid any taxes”); revenge (“Romney’s been telling lots of lies, so why shouldn’t we?”); disingenuousness (“All Romney has to do is release his tax returns to clear this up”); or lying as a virtue (“Politics ain’t beanbag”).
You want to know what sophistry, disingenousness and lying as a virtue really are, Kevin?
It’s having Republicans completely lie in order to take rights away from anyone who disagrees with them politically, the relentless effort to disenfranchise and crush the political and socioeconomic power of those groups they cannot control into voting for them, those who resist an entire television and radio empire dedicated to the sole propagation of insidious garbage.
Take a deep breath, folks. This is contemptible stuff and it’s not just business as usual. We’ve spent too many years berating the tea partiers for getting on bandwagons like this to get sucked into it ourselves the first time it’s convenient. It’s time to quit cheering on Reid and get off this particular bus.
Instead you climb up on your high horse and lecture us about how we shouldn’t stoop to the level of the Republican Party by actually equating Democrats supporting the one time I can honestly remember in the last year that the Democrats actually stood up against the mile-high shitstorm of constant lies spewed by the GOP and actually drew a line to the Tea Party, and your first instinct is to fold the card table and let them keep getting away with it, including letting Romney get away with not releasing his tax returns. Why should any Democrat in America take a stand against these jagoffs when our side says “No, what we’re doing makes us just as bad as they are!” and we concede? That’s “contemptible stuff”? Have you been paying attention?
Romney’s new ad is creating a stir, among blogs that have repeatedly called him out. The scandal behind Romney’s new attack ad – The Maddow Blog
Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has presented the political world with an important test. I’m eager to see whether we pass or fail.
First, a little background. Some Republican governors this year asked the Obama administration for some new flexibility on welfare standards — the governors had some ideas about moving folks from welfare to work and needed the White House to sign off. Obama agreed — existing work requirements would stay in place, but states, if they want to, can take advantage of new flexibility when it comes to experimenting with existing law.
This is the sort of shifting-power-to-the-states policy that Republicans are supposed to love. As of this morning, however, it’s the basis for a new Mitt Romney attack ad.
For those who can’t watch clips online, the ad shows President Clinton signing welfare reform into law in 1996, “requiring work for welfare.” The spot then argues, however, that President Obama “quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements.” The voiceover tells viewers, “Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check…. and welfare to work goes back to being plain old welfare.”
We then learn, “Mitt Romney will restore the work requirement because it works.”
Romney’s lying. He’s not spinning the truth to his advantage; he’s not hiding in a gray area between fact and fiction; he’s just lying. The law hasn’t been “gutted”; the work requirement hasn’t been “dropped.” Stations that air this ad are disseminating an obvious, demonstrable lie.
All Obama did is agree to Republican governors’ request for flexibility. That’s it. Indeed, perhaps the most jaw-dropping aspect of this is that Romney himself, during his one gubernatorial term, asked for the same kind of flexibility on welfare law that Obama agreed to last month. Romney, in other words, is attacking the president for doing what Romney asked the executive branch to do in 2005.
But is anyone else reporting on this crap?
How are we to respond to a campaign that deliberately deceives the public without shame? This lie about welfare policy comes on the heels of Romney’s lie about voting rights in Ohio, which came on the heels of Romney’s lies about the economy; which came on the heels of Romney’s lies about health care; which came on the heels of Romney’s lies about taxes.
The Republican nominee for president is working under the assumption that he can make transparently false claims, in writing and in campaign advertising, with impunity. Romney is convinced that there are no consequences for breathtaking dishonesty.
The test, then, comes down to a simple question: is he right?
The cynical response to an ad like this is that the lies are routine — it’s just something “everybody” in politics does. That’s wrong. An ad this dishonest is a genuine scandal and it’s time for political observers treat it as such. Reporters within earshot of the candidate shouldn’t ask, “What about the gaffes?” They should ask, “Why are you lying about welfare policy?”
Also note the larger context: if Obama were as awful a president as Romney claims, the Republican attack machine wouldn’t have to make stuff up — the truth would be so brutal that voters would recoil and flock to the GOP candidate naturally. What does it say about Romney’s strength as a candidate that he has to make up garbage and hope voters don’t know the difference?
Romney will get away with it because he has been getting away with shit like this for years…and years…and years.
Reuters has this: Romney opens attack on Obama over welfare law | Reuters
Romney’s attack, laid out in a new television ad and a topic he addressed at a campaign event in Obama’s home state, is aimed at bolstering his charge that Obama’s solution to many of America’s problems is to rely on government.
At the campaign event in Chicago, Romney vowed to reverse a July directive by the president’s Health and Human Services Department that his campaign said was tantamount to gutting the welfare law.
“We will end a culture of dependency and restore a culture of good, hard work,” he said.
The White House, which tends to leave it to Obama’s campaign team to react to Romney attacks, was quick to leap into the fray, suggesting this is a sensitive issue. White House press secretary Jay Carney called Romney’s charges categorically false and “blatantly dishonest.”
Well, I am tired of all this, cause it seems like all of the Romney lies go unchecked. It is very disheartening when I think just how vicious the press was to Hillary Clinton. Where the hell are they now?
I will just put the link up to this post over at The Daily Beast: Exclusive: Brigham Young’s Great-Great-Granddaughter on Mormonism and Mitt Romney – The Daily Beast
A direct descendant of Brigham Young, Sue Emmett left the church because of the very values she says would make Romney a frightening president.
One last link for you, have you seen this photograph of Daniel Day-Lewis embodies ‘Lincoln’ | Inside Movies | EW.com
Wow, that is something…
So what are you all reading about this morning?
Good Morning!! I’ll have a few political links for you later, but first I want to share an interesting story I came across yesterday. Remember John Wayne Gacy? He was a supposedly upstanding member of the Chicago business community and active in Democratic politics, even having his photo was taken with first lady Rosalynn Carter when she visited Chicago in May, 1978. In his spare time, Gacy dressed as “Pogo the Clown” and entertained at charity events and kids’ birthday parties.
All that ended in late 1978, when it was revealed that Gacy had 26 bodies buried in the crawlspace under his house and 3 others under the concrete floor of his garage. The gregarious businessman and clown was a serial killer. In March of 1980, Gacy was sentenced to death for 12 of the murders. He was executed on May 10, 1994. It’s too bad Gacy is dead, because two Chicago attorneys have convinced Cook Country Sheriff Tom Dart to do some further investigating on the case. It might be helpful for investigators to be able to interview Gacy about new evidence.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said Friday that he will ask his investigators to look into a theory that serial killer John Wayne Gacy had one or more accomplices.
Criminal defense attorneys Robert Stephenson and Steven Becker recently examined Gacy’s work and travel records and suspect he was out of town when victims Russell Nelson and Robert Gilroy disappeared in 1977.
They also think Gacy didn’t have enough time to abduct and kill victim John Mowery because he disappeared about 10 p.m. in Chicago and Gacy’s work records show he showed up at a job in Michigan at 6 a.m. the following day.
There is more detail on these victims in an article at Time Magazine.
So far, the lawyers believe Gacy may have had accomplices in at least three of the notorious killings of 33 young men and boys, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. This supports an earlier claim from Jeffrey Rignall, a victim who survived, who said another man was in the room while Gacy raped him, WGN notes.
One of the murders raising questions is that of Robert Gilroy. Apparently, the convicted murderer had been in Pittsburgh when the 18-year-old disappeared on Sept 15, 1977. Allegheny Airlines tickets indicate Gacy had been out of town from Sept. 12 to 16, making it unlikely he could have snatched and killed Gilroy, the Sun-Times reports. This also echoes claims Gacy had made while in prison, saying he was not in Illinois during 16 of the disappearances.
Gilroy also died in a completely different way than most of Gacy’s victims. He was apparently suffocated by having a cloth shoved down his throat. Many of Gacy’s victims were strangled by a rope.
Russell Nelson, the Minneapolis architecture student kidnapped while with a friend outside a bar in October of the same year. Stephenson told the Sun-Times he doesn’t believe Gacy could have seized the 21-year-old without the friend noticing. And like Gilroy, Nelson had been suffocated with a similar cloth stuffed in his throat. Thirteen victims died the same way, according to WGN.
The friend who was with Nelson at the time of his disappearance is also allegedly suspect. According to WGN, the friend demanded money from Nelson’s mother in exchange for helping the family search for him. Nelson’s mother had also reported a striking coincidence. Following her son’s disappearance, Nelson’s brothers went to Chicago to look for him. They met with the friend, who offered the siblings contracting jobs with Gacy.
All three victims were found in Gacy’s crawlspace.
Last fall, eight Gacy victims who had never been identified were exhumed for DNA testing, in hopes of discovering their identities. Since then, two men who were believed to have been murdered by Gacy have been found alive.
Harold Wayne Lovell was found in Florida.
“He was high on the list,” said Sheriff Tom Dart. “If not one, two, or three, in someone’s mind, of the most likely person that was one of the eight down in the crawl space.”
As Sheriff’s detectives began their renewed search, they quickly learned there had been recent activity by Lovell in Florida. It was about that time that the family came across a booking photo of a Harold Wayne Lovell, 53, from South Florida. It was him.
“I almost gave up hope in the late 90s,” said Lovell’s brother, Tim, 48. “I dreamed about it. I’ve only had maybe a one percent inkling that I’d ever, ever see my brother again, and here we are. It’s just amazing.”
Lovell said he left home because of a “family situation.” He took a train to Florida because he “couldn’t stay around the house any longer.”
Lovell may have been fortunate, because he did yard work at Gacy’s before leaving for Florida. He says Gacy tried to get him to come in the house, but Lovell refused. In addition, Gacy had apparently taken some belongings of Lovell’s and they were found in Gacy’s house. Lovell’s mother had identified them.
A second missing man, Theodore “Ted” Szal, turned up in Oregon.
Szal admits that he simply vanished. There were family issues. A troubled marriage, coupled with a belief that his mother had assisted his wife in getting an abortion.
“I didn’t have too much money. I didn’t have a job. So I drove to the airport, threw my keys down a sewer drain so I wouldn’t change my mind and got on an airplane. That was 35 years ago.”
Thirty five years without a single word to his family. Szal travelled first to Colorado Springs, then California, and finally to Oregon, where he settled down and eventually remarried. He admits that the memory of his family had haunted him, especially on holidays.
“Christmas has been hard. But this year, Christmas is going to be different.”
One of the unidentified bodies is now known to be William George Bundy
For years, Laura O’Leary has visited the graves of her family members in southwest suburban Justice, but she didn’t know her brother was buried in the same cemetery — as an unidentified victim of serial killer John Wayne Gacy.
O’Leary recently learned her missing teenage brother, William George Bundy, was one of Gacy’s eight unidentified victims more than three decades ago. He was buried in Resurrection Catholic Cemetery where his grandparents and an aunt were also laid to rest.
On Tuesday, O’Leary hugged Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to thank him for a DNA initiative that led to her brother’s identification on Nov. 14.
“Today is a terribly sad day for my family. But it is also a day that provides closure,” she said at a news conference with Dart.
Another mother, Sherry Marino, has always wondered if the body buried in the grave she visits frequently is really her 14-year-old son Michael Marino and if he was really a Gacy victim. She plans to have the body exhumed for DNA testing as soon as she can raise the money.
Now that I’ve indulged my fascination with true crime, I’ll give you a few news headlines. Everyone is laughing about Mitt Romney’s Freudian slip at the CPAC conference. He told the audience he was “severely conservative” as Governor of Massachusetts. I say it’s a Freudian slip, because it makes being conservative sound like a disease–that’s probably what Romney really feels in his subconscious mind.
At the New Yorker, Ryan Lizza provides A “Severely Conservative” Lexicon, with examples of the use of the odd expression. Here are a few examples:
“Like so many alcoholics, or criminals, or sexually promiscuous people who reform, Janet had flipped to the opposite extreme, to severely conservative behavior. At some level, Janet was doing penance for her past destructive behavior. She was full of self-hatred and was operating out of fear. ”
—“Mastering Your Moods: How to Recognize Your Emotional Style and Make It Work for You,” by Dr. Melvyn Kinder (1994)
“As philosopher James Rachels has observed, ‘the opposite is true: the rule against causing unnecessary pain is the least eccentric of all moral principles, and that rule leads straight to the conclusion that we should abandon the business of meat production and adopt alternative diets. Considered in this light, vegetarianism may be thought of as a severely conservative moral stance.’ ”
—“Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog?,” by Gary Lawrence Francione (2000)
“Only severely conservative jewelry is worn by the bride. She may wish to wear pearls or other simple jewelry given her as a gift by the groom or her parents.”
—“Planning LDS Weddings and Receptions,” by Lois F. Worlton and Opal D. Jasinski (1972, revised edition 1999)
Hmmmm….maybe that’s where Romney picked up the expression.
Rick Santorum was impossible thirty years ago. If Rip van Winkle woke up today he would be dumbfounded. How could such an overtly religious and socially conservative politician have so much traction on the national scene?
The answer comes from the Left. Since the Sixties our liberal elites have become increasingly anti-religious, increasingly opposed to traditional moral norms, and increasingly aggressive. As a result they have made our national politics much more extreme.
To a great extent, post-sixties American politics has been shaped by liberal aggression. As Lyndon Johnson knew, the Civil Right Act of 1964 would trigger a fundamental shift in national politics. The South would no longer be in the hip pocket of the Democratic Party.
I don’t know how the author of the piece, R.R. Reno, knows this, but he or she says that Johnson didn’t predict “liberal overreach.”
Mandatory school busing—modern liberalism always tends toward coercion—as well as crudely imposed quotas in the 1970s led to a great deal of unhappiness among white ethnic and blue collar voters who had for decades been pillars of the Democratic Party. They weren’t (for the most part) in favor of Jim Crow, but they didn’t like being moved around like chess pieces by liberal elites. It was during those years that the term “limousine liberal” gained currency as a new and telling term of abuse in American political culture.
The Equal Rights Amendment would have encoded gender equality into the Constitution. It seemed a sure thing in the early 1970s. But opposition mounted and it failed to secure ratification. That’s not because most Americans were opposed to women’s liberation. Instead support for the Equal Rights Amendment dwindled because John Q. Voter was coming to see how modern liberals use rights—not as instruments of freedom but as new warrants for social control.
And so on. It’s like going through the looking glass with Alice.
House Republicans have agreed to extend the payroll tax holiday without accompanying cuts.
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and his top lieutenants said they do not want to be held responsible for the tax increase on 160 million workers that would happen if the tax holiday were not extended.
The two sides have been negotiating for weeks but have been unable to strike a deal. Republicans want to continue negotiations over financing the rest of the original legislative package, including an extension of unemployment benefits and a key tweak to maintain Medicare reimbursement rates for doctors, while ensuring that taxes will not rise on workers.
“Because the president and Senate Democratic leaders have not allowed their conferees to support a responsible bipartisan agreement, today House Republicans will introduce a backup plan that would simply extend the payroll tax holiday for the remainder of the year while the conference negotiations continue,” Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said in a joint statement.
Awwwww…that’s big of you boys. Now you can devote full time to the war on women’s health care.
A famous portrait of Mary Todd Lincoln has turned out to be a fraud.
A long-celebrated portrait of Mary Todd Lincoln which hung for decades in the Illinois governor’s mansion has been deemed a fake.
James Cornelius, the curator of the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum, described the painting as part of an elaborate fraud that befell President Abraham Lincoln’s descendants in the 1920s, the Chicago Tribune reports.
“It was supposedly a gift Mary Lincoln planned to give to her husband, but then he was assassinated and she became a widow before she could present it to him,” Cornelius told the Tribune Saturday of the painting’s alleged backstory.
But the truth of the matter, as the Daily Journal reports, is that the portrait supposedly painted as a “secret” present for the president actually depicts an unknown woman who was later doctored to look more like Lincoln. Barry Bauman, a conservator, discovered that the “artist’s” signature had been added to the portrait later, while he was cleaning it.
That’s it for me, except to wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day! Are you getting the feeling it isn’t one of my favorite holidays? What can I say? I’m getting old, and I’m jaded about romance.
What are you reading and blogging about today?
Correia, who fought for 22 years to keep her brother alive, died Thursday after a long battle with breast cancer.
Troy Davis was convicted and sentenced to death for the August 1989 murder of off-duty Savannah Police officer Mark MacPhail. After years of appeals, Davis was executed by lethal injection on September 21.
Correia was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 31.
Curt Goering, chief operating officer of Amnesty International USA said in a statement, “Our hearts are breaking over the loss of this extraordinary woman. She fought to save her brother’s life with courage, strength and determination, every step of the way. She was a powerful example of how one person can make a difference as she led the fight for justice for Troy Davis, even as she endured her own decade-long battle with cancer.
“She was a tenacious fighter, a graceful inspiration to activists everywhere, and a true hero of the movement for human rights. At this sorrowful time, we at Amnesty International offer our profound sympathy to her family.”
Democracy Now has posted an interview (scroll down) that Amy Goodman did with Correia at her brother’s funeral in October. There is video at the link.
Correia wrote a beautiful blog post at HuffPo on September 16 in which she described her struggle to save her brother and help her son deal with what was happening to his uncle.
As a young child, De’Jaun didn’t understand that my brother, his uncle was incarcerated, much less slated for death. When the family was getting ready to leave after a visit, he’d say, “Come on, Troy, let’s go, let’s go!” But he couldn’t go with us, and my mom would say, “He’s in school. He can’t come. One day, he’ll come home with us.”
As De’Jaun grew older, I explained to him that his uncle was in prison. But I had not yet told him that Georgia planned to kill him. He confided in his uncle more than anyone else. When De’Jaun was 12 years old, it became clear to me that my son understood far more than I had realized.
Our dog, Egypt, had gotten out of the yard and had been hit by a car. We immediately brought Egypt to a vet who told us that the dog’s leg was broken in three places and would need extensive surgery to be repaired. If Egypt did not have the surgery, she would have to be put to sleep. The cost of the surgery was upwards of $10,000.
As I drove De’Juan home, I wondered how in the world I would come up with $10,000. Putting Egypt down might be the only realistic possibility.
In the silence of the ride, De’Jaun turned to me and said, “Mom, are you going put my dog to sleep like they’re trying to put my Uncle Troy to sleep?”
I had to swallow this giant lump in my throat to hold back the tears. I didn’t know that he related the two things. That he knew they were trying to kill his Uncle Troy. And, he knew about which method that they would use to kill him. At that point, I decided that if I had to pawn my car, I wasn’t going to be able to put our dog to sleep.
What an amazing woman, and what a tragic loss to the world.
As I’m writing this, the Supreme Court is considering whether to stay Troy Davis’ execution. I’m following a blog on NPR. From NPR at 9:04PM Wednesday Night:
The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that more than a dozen Georgia state police in riot gear have moved into the area outside of the prison. “They were met by choruses of ‘Shame on you’ from the protesters,” reports the AJC.
Larry Cox, the executive director of Amnesty International, which has led protests in support of Davis, told Democracy Now! they don’t know much about what’s going on. He said they’ve met with protesters to try to prepare them for bad news, he said, so they could react properly and within the peaceful spirit of the campaign.
“All we can do is wait and pray,” said Cox.
At The Nation, Richard Kim offers some background on the SCOTUS justices and their past statements about the death penalty.
It does seem that Georgia’s government is determined to kill Davis tonight. Earlier today Davis was refused an opportunity to take a polygraph.
Sadly, everything I wrote above is now moot. I’ve just heard (10:24PM) that the U.S. Supreme Court has rejected Davis’ stay request. What a sad day for the so-called justice system. Texas killed another man tonight and Georgia may yet follow suit.
UPDATE: Troy Davis died last night at 11:08PM. From CBS News: Troy Davis executed, supporters cry injustice
Strapped to a gurney in Georgia’s death chamber, Troy Davis lifted his head and declared one last time that he did not kill police officer Mark MacPhail. Just a few feet away behind a glass window, MacPhail’s son and brother watched in silence.
Outside the prison, a crowd of more than 500 demonstrators cried, hugged, prayed and held candles. They represented hundreds of thousands of supporters worldwide who took up the anti-death penalty cause as Davis’ final days ticked away.
“I am innocent,” Davis said moments before he was executed Wednesday night. “All I can ask … is that you look deeper into this case so that you really can finally see the truth. I ask my family and friends to continue to fight this fight.”
Prosecutors and MacPhail’s family said justice had finally been served.
“It harkens back to some ugly days in the history of this state,” said the Rev. Raphael Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church, who visited Mr. Davis on Monday.
Mr. Davis remained defiant at the end, according to reporters who witnessed his death. He looked directly at the members of the family of Mark MacPhail, the officer he was convicted of killing, and told them they had the wrong man.
“I did not personally kill your son, father, brother,” he said. “All I can ask is that you look deeper into this case so you really can finally see the truth.”
He then told his supporters and family to “keep the faith” and said to prison personnel, “May God have mercy on your souls; may God bless your souls.”
One of the witnesses, a radio reporter from WSB in Atlanta, said it appeared that the MacPhail family “seemed to get some satisfaction” from the execution.
How can anyone “get satisfaction” when the wrong man may have been murdered by the state? I just don’t understand that. In my opinion, the U.S. cannot be considered a civilized or even moral country as long as we murder people in the name of the state, not to mention in the name of profit in our so-called “health care system.” In this country, it is still a crime to be poor, to be black, to be “illegal,” to be muslim, to be different.
“The U.S. justice system was shaken to its core as Georgia executed a person who may well be innocent. Killing a man under this enormous cloud of doubt is horrific and amounts to a catastrophic failure of the justice system. While many courts examined this case, the march to the death chamber only slowed, but never stopped. Justice may be blind; but in this case, the justice system was blind to the facts.
“The state of Georgia has proven that the death penalty is too great a power to give to the government. Human institutions are prone to bias and error and cannot be entrusted with this God-like power. The death penalty is a human rights violation whether given to the guilty or the innocent, and it must be abolished.
“Our hearts are heavy, but we have not lost our spirit of defiance. Millions of people around the world now know of Troy Davis and see the fallibility of the U.S. justice system. As this case has captured the American conscience and increased opposition to the death penalty, Amnesty International will build on this momentum to end this unjust practice.”
In other news, this story from Mexico is unbelievable. I hope this isn't what the U.S. has to look forward to as we sink into third world status: 35 bodies dumped in Mexican city as president begins effort to woo tourists
As Mexican President Felipe Calderon was unveiling a new campaign and TV program Tuesday to draw wary tourists back to his country, a gang dumped 35 bodies at a busy intersection in the tourist zone in the coastal city of Veracruz….
The images from the travel television program, called “Mexico: The Royal Tour” — clips of gray whales, Mayan pyramids and glasses of amber tequila — clashed with shaky videos captured by cellphone cameras of panicked commuters, wailing police vehicles and half-naked bodies dumped on an underpass near the Veracruz beaches.
Authorities in Veracruz said the 35 bodies included 24 men and 11 women. They quickly tried to calm the public — and foreign visitors — by saying that most of the dead were criminals who were killed by a warring drug cartel.
That wouldn’t calm me one bit!
A couple of new polls have come out that show Obama continue to loose ground in important areas. A new Washington Post-ABC News Poll show his favorability ratings are dropping with African Americans.
New cracks have begun to show in President Obama’s support amongst African Americans, who have been his strongest supporters. Five months ago, 83 percent of African Americans held “strongly favorable” views of Obama, but in a new Washington Post-ABC news poll that number has dropped to 58 percent. That drop is similar to slipping support for Obama among all groups.
“There is a certain amount of racial loyalty and party loyalty, but eventually that was going to have to weaken,” said Andra Gillespie, a political scientist at Emory University, who studies African Americans. “It’s understandable given the economy.”
African Americans have historically correlated approval ratings of the president to the unemployment rate, she said. The slip in the strongly favorable rating continues the decline Obama has seen among all groups, but black voters have been his staunchest supporters. Overall, they still hold a generally favorable view of the president with 86 percent saying they view him at least somewhat favorably.
Gillespie’s view that the decline is tied to the disproportionately high jobless rate faced by African Americans correlates with the drop in their view of Obama’s handling of the economy. In July, only 54 percent of blacks said they thought Obama’s policies were making the economy better compared with 77 percent the previous year.
And a new Gallup poll shows that a “slight majority” of Americans blame Obama for the state of the economy.
A slight majority of Americans for the first time blame President Obama either a great deal (24%) or a moderate amount (29%) for the nation’s economic problems. However, Americans continue to blame former President George W. Bush more. Nearly 7 in 10 blame Bush a great deal (36%) or a moderate amount (33%).
Gallup found a substantially wider gap in public perceptions of how much responsibility Bush and Obama each bore for the economy when it first asked the question in July 2009, the sixth month of Obama’s presidency. That narrowed by March 2010, caused mainly by a jump in the percentage blaming Obama a great deal or moderate amount, and has since changed relatively little. However, the results from a new Sept. 15-18 USA Today/Gallup poll are the first showing a majority of Americans, 53%, assigning significant blame to Obama. Forty-seven percent still say he is “not much” (27%) or “not at all” (20%) to blame.
I managed to find a little humor for you. Elizabeth Warren has gotten quite a bump after her announcement that she’s running for the Senate in Massachusetts. Although Scott Brown’s campaign claims he’s not concerned, a little birdie overheard Brown talking about it on the phone and then told Talking Points Memo.
A Hill staffer, who spoke with TPM by phone, sends this dispatch from the Senate side in the wake of today’s PPP poll showing former White House financial reform adviser Elizabeth Warren leading Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA):
“Just walked passed Senator Brown’s office and in the hallway was the man himself, lamenting into his cell phone, ‘I don’t understand how she can be down 20 points one week and is now up 2. What is going on?’”
Our tipster describes the scene:
Was heading to a meeting after just having read your reporting on the new poll. Was just about to walk by Senator Brown’s personal office when he walked out of the main door of his office, cell phone in hand. He was mid-conversation but was responding to something on the other line with the line I reported. Was kind of dumbfounded to hear that kind of candor in a very public hallway. I’m guessing he realized that too, because he then looked over his shoulder, saw me, and hurriedly entered a side down to his office down the hall.
As a Massachusetts voter, I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to hear that Pretty Boy Brown is a little freaked out by the competition.
That’s it for me. What are you reading and blogging about today?