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?
Frankly, I’ll be very glad when this holiday season is over. It goes on way too long. This year I saw Christmas stuff at Halloween! At least I don’t get depressed at this time of year anymore, and I’m very happy for people who enjoy the celebration. I’ll probably have a nice time at Christmas dinner, but why do we need a two month build-up? Please forgive my grumbling…. I’ll get to the news, such as it is.
MSNBC’s First Read reports that Boehner and his merry men in the House “punted” on the payroll tax cut bill last night; supposedly they’ll vote on it today.
House Republican leaders emerged following a meeting with rank-and-file members to say that the House would take up their votes on Tuesday. Lawmakers had planned to vote around 6:30 p.m. ET on Monday evening, but the 6 p.m. meeting of GOP lawmakers lasted longer than expected, over two hours.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said that the House Rules Committee, which sets the parameters for votes in the House, would meet tonight to set the stage for tomorrow’s series of votes. Those Tuesday votes would include a measure to reject the Senate’s two month extension, and instead instruct lawmakers to meet in a conference — the formal process of resolving differences with legislation in the Senate.
“Our members do not want to just punt and do a two-month, short-term fix where we have to come back and do this again,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told reporters at the Capitol.
House Republicans prefer legislation to extend the expiring tax cut by a whole year, and produced legislation to that effect. But Democrats in the Senate rejected that proposal because of some of the cuts used to offset the cost of the bill, which also includes an extension of unemployment insurance.
Meanwhile, Jake Tapper is reporting that the two month extension passed by the Senate and backed by President Obama cannot be implemented in it’s current form.
Officials from the policy-neutral National Payroll Reporting Consortium, Inc. have expressed concern to members of Congress that the two-month payroll tax holiday passed by the Senate and supported by President Obama cannot be implemented properly.
Pete Isberg, president of the NPRC today wrote to the key leaders of the relevant committees of the House and Senate, telling them that “insufficient lead time” to implement the complicated change mandated by the legislation means the two-month payroll tax holiday “could create substantial problems, confusion and costs affecting a significant percentage of U.S. employers and employees.”
ABC News obtained a copy of the letter, which can be read HERE. Isberg agreed that it would be fair to characterize his letter as saying that the two-month payroll tax holiday cannot be implemented properly.
Why on earth can’t those morons on Capital Hill just extend the unemployment insurance for Pete’s sake? The Congressional Republicans make Scrooge look like a piker when it comes to mean-spiritedness. Aren’t most of them supposed to be “Christians?” Good grief!
Please, can’t someone force Boehner and Cantor to visit some homeless shelters and perhaps some parks and street corners in Washington D.C., where no doubt some of the 1.6 million homeless children in the U.S. reside? One out of every 45 kids in this country were homeless last year! And these evil bastards are trying to make this horrendous situation worse!
A huge winter storm was pounding the Southwest and the lower Great Plains States last night.
Interstates and highways were shut down Monday night as a large winter weather system brought heavy snow, fierce winds and ice to at least five states in the West and Midwest.
There were blizzard conditions in parts of western Kansas and southeast Colorado, with visibility of less than a quarter-mile, said Ariel Cohen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
A blizzard warning was in effect for those areas along with northeastern New Mexico, the northwest Texas panhandle and the Oklahoma panhandle, he said. The severe weather was starting to affect Missouri late Monday, with a winter weather advisory in effect for the northwest corner of the state.
Roads were closed in Texas and New Mexico because of blizzard conditions. Wow, some of those people rarely see snow. If you live in the storm area, please stay inside and don’t drive!
The New York Times calls handling of Kim Jong Il’s death “an extensive intelligence failure.”
Kim Jong-il, the enigmatic North Korean leader, died on a train at 8:30 a.m. Saturday in his country. Forty-eight hours later, officials in South Korea still did not know anything about it — to say nothing of Washington, where the State Department acknowledged “press reporting” of Mr. Kim’s death well after North Korean state media had already announced it.
For South Korean and American intelligence services to have failed to pick up any clues to this momentous development — panicked phone calls between government officials, say, or soldiers massing around Mr. Kim’s train — attests to the secretive nature of North Korea, a country not only at odds with most of the world but also sealed off from it in a way that defies spies or satellites.
Asian and American intelligence services have failed before to pick up significant developments in North Korea. Pyongyang built a sprawling plant to enrich uranium that went undetected for about a year and a half until North Korean officials showed it off in late 2010 to an American nuclear scientist. The North also helped build a complete nuclear reactor in Syria without tipping off Western intelligence.
As the United States and its allies confront a perilous leadership transition in North Korea — a failed state with nuclear weapons — the closed nature of the country will greatly complicate their calculations. With little information about Mr. Kim’s son and successor, Kim Jong-un, and even less insight into the palace intrigue in Pyongyang, the North’s capital, much of their response will necessarily be guesswork.
Not good. Maybe the CIA and NSA should concentrate on actual intelligence gathering rather than bugging Americans phone calls and reading their e-mails and tweets and Facebook postings.
Did you notice that Jeb Bush had an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal yesterday? With Gingrich tanking and Ron Paul rising in Iowa, are the Republicans getting ready to push another Bush for president? Charlie Pierce of Esquire thinks it looks that way:
He was supposed to be the savvy one, the presidential one, not that dolt of a brother who ducked his National Guard duty, ran several businesses into the dust of west Texas, got drunk and challenged the Auld Fella to a fistfight, and kept driving his car into the bushes. But the dolt got Daddy’s money and Daddy’s lawyers behind him and got installed as president, where he did his utmost to lodge the family brand somewhere between those enjoyed by Corvair and leprosy. Meanwhile, the golden child got to be governor of Florida for a while longer.
And now, in the widening gyre, slouching toward Manchester to be born, our moment of… Jeb (!)
Make no mistake. You don’t write an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal at this point in the Republican primary process unless somebody, somewhere wants to make people think you’re an legitimate option. You certainly don’t write one as stuffed full of free-market banana-oil as this one unless somebody, somewhere wants to raise enough money to make the world think you’re a legitimate option. There was enough Jeb (!) buzz over the weekend that it’s becoming plain that some very important someone’s have looked over the current Republican field and decided that, by god, it’s just bad enough that there’s room in there to bring back the most discredited surname in American politics. The slogan writes itself:
“Jeb! This time, let’s try the smart one.”
I don’t know. I don’t think any of the Bushes are all that bright. They’re way too inbred. Maybe another Bush presidency is what the Mayans predicted as the world-ending event?
I’ll end with an upbeat story. Remember Jessica Lynch? She just graduated from college.
I don’t really like to talk about what it took to get here. I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me, or to think I don’t know how fortunate I am. Everyone else in my vehicle in Iraq was killed. My best friend, Lori Piestewa, died as a prisoner of war. I’m still here.
I’m also incredibly proud of this moment. I always dreamed of becoming a teacher, ever since my own kindergarten teacher took me under her wing when I was frightened on the first day of school. We are still in touch today. That’s the kind of teacher I want to be.
In the eight years since my captivity, I’ve had 21 surgeries. I have metal parts in my spine, a rod in my right arm, and metal in my left femur and fibula. My right foot is held together by screws, plates, rods, and pins. I have no feeling in my left leg from the knee down, and I wear a brace every day. Sometimes I’ll get a flash of pain, or feel upset because I can’t run, and then I’ll remind myself: I’m alive. I’m here. Take some ibuprofen.
Go read the whole thing. It’s not very long, and it’s a nice, inspirational story.
Now what are you reading and blogging about today?