Don’t know about y’all, but my insomnia is working overtime lately. I’ve tried to get some sleep last night but no such luck so, here is this morning’s post. If it seems a little pffft….you know why, it is because I am writing it with no sleep.
First up, some sad news for VP Biden, I just feel so much sorrow for the man.
Shortly after Joe Biden was elected to the Senate in 1972, tragedy struck. A car crash killed his wife and infant daughter and left both of his young sons severely injured. Only 29 years old at the time, Biden considered resigning from the Senate to care for his remaining family. A cadre of long-time senators, including Ted Kennedy and Hubert H. Humphrey, convinced Biden he could do both. So he did, leaving instructions that his sons’ phone calls were always to be put through during the day, and commuting back from Washington by train to be with them every night.Although Beau Biden was not a carbon copy of his father, he shared his unrelenting commitment to public service. Beau, the former attorney general of Delaware and son of Vice President Joe Biden, died Saturday from a recurrence of brain cancer at age 46. “The entire Biden family is saddened beyond words,” his father said in a statement. “We know that Beau’s spirit will live on in all of us—especially through his brave wife, Hallie, and two remarkable children, Natalie and Hunter.”Beau’s first experience in government came when he worked as a lawyer for the Justice Department before entering private practice. He held the rank of major in the Delaware Army National Guard, and served a yearlong tour in Iraq from October 2008 to September 2009. There, he worked as a judge advocate general in the waning days of the U.S. occupation. His deployment coincided with his father’s run for the vice presidency in 2008. “He’ll go, [although] I don’t want him going,” Joe told a crowd on the campaign trail. “But I don’t want my grandsons or granddaughters going back in 15 years, so how we leave makes a big difference.”
There is a lot more at that Atlantic article. It mentions how Beau did things his own way…and it also discusses the criticism he received after the duPont sentence, that some felt was a little on the easy side.For some pictures: Moving Photos Show A Young Joe Biden Swearing Into Senate By Son Beau’s Bedside After Crash
When Vice President Joe Biden was first sworn in to the U.S. Senate in 1973, he took his oath by the bedside of his son Beau, who’d been injured in a car accident in December 1972 that claimed the lives of Joe Biden’s first wife and daughter.
In this Jan. 5, 1973 black-and-white file photo, four-year-old Beau Biden, foreground, watches his dad, Joe Biden, center, being sworn in as the U.S. senator from Delaware, by Senate Secretary Frank Valeo, left, in ceremonies in a Wilmington hospital. Beau was injured in an accident that killed his mother and sister in December. Mrs. Biden’s father, Robert Hunter, holds the Bible. (AP Photo/File)
Joseph H. Biden Jr., left, offers words of encouragement to his bedridden son, Beau, before Bidden was sworn in as the United States Senator from Delaware in ceremonies in Wilmington hospital on Jan. 5, 1973. Biden’s other son, Hunter, talks with Robert Hunter, Biden’s father-in-law. Beau is still in traction from an auto accident on Dec. 18, in which the Senator’s wife and daughter were killed. (AP Photo/Brian Horton)
Hundreds of people filled a church in the Mississippi Delta for the funeral on Saturday of BB King, who rose from sharecropper in the area’s flat cotton fields to worldwide fame as a blues singer and guitarist who influenced generations of entertainers.
King was 89 when he died on 14 May in Las Vegas. At his request, his body was returned to his native Mississippi for a final homecoming.
Amid rain, about 500 people filled the sanctuary of Bell Grove Missionary Baptist Church, a red brick structure that sits in a field off of BB King Road in Indianola. More than 200 people who couldn’t get into the sanctuary watched a live broadcast of the funeral in the church’s fellowship hall, many waving hand-held fans with a black-and-white photo of a smiling King hugging his black electric guitar, Lucille.
At the beginning of the service, family members filed past King’s open casket, which had an image of Lucille embroidered on the padded white cloth inside the lid. Later, the casket was closed and covered with a large arrangement of red roses.
The Reverend Herron Wilson, who delivered the eulogy, said King proved people can triumph over difficult circumstances.
More than 4,000 people viewed his open casket Friday at the BB King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in Indianola.
One of his sons, Willie King of Chicago, said his father taught him to respond with love when others are angry.
“For a man coming out of the cotton field unlearned and you take his music and draw four corners of the world together – that is amazing,” Willie King said on Friday at the museum, where his father will be buried.
King’s public viewing Friday was almost like a state funeral, with Mississippi Highway Patrol officers in dress uniform standing at each end of the casket. Two of his black electric guitars stood among sprays of flowers.
Before we get to some other links on police shootings…I want to put this link here, it is something that is making news this morning: Photo Raises Doubts About Police Shooting of Jermaine McBean – NBC News
After Florida police shot Jermaine McBean to death as he walked home with an unloaded air rifle, they said there was no reason to believe he did not hear their orders to drop the weapon and that he pointed it at them.
But a newly emerged photo that shows headphones in McBean’s ears immediately after the 2013 shooting raises questions about the police version of events, including why the white earbuds were later found stuffed in the dead computer expert’s pocket.
And another aspect of the police account is also being contradicted — by a man who called 911 in alarm when he saw McBean walking around with the air rifle but who also says McBean never pointed it at police or anyone else.
Michael Russell McCarthy, 58, told NBC News that McBean had the Winchester Model 1000 Air Rifle balanced on his shoulders behind his neck, with his hand over both ends, and was turning around to face police when one officer began shooting.
“He [McBean] couldn’t have fired that gun from the position he was in. There was no possible way of firing it and at the same time hitting something,” McCarthy said. “I kind of blame myself, because if I hadn’t called it might not have happened.”
Jermaine McBean shortly after he was fatally shot by police in Oakland Park, Fla., on July 31, 2013, while carrying an unloaded air rifle. Police say he ignored their orders to drop the weapon and was not wearing headphones; his family’s lawyer says this picture, taken by a witness, shows that was false.Courtesy David Schoen
If you look at the full image, at the link above, you can see where the gun ended up as well…
I think this is relevant since a new report has come out: U.S. police have shot dead 385 people in five months: Washington Post | Reuters
U.S. police have shot and killed 385 people during the first five months of this year, a rate of more than two a day, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.
The death rate is more than twice that tallied by the federal government over the past decade, a count that officials concede is incomplete, the newspaper said.
The analysis is based on data the Post is compiling on every fatal shooting by police in 2015, as well as of every officer killed by gunfire in the line of duty.
“We are never going to reduce the number of police shootings if we don’t begin to accurately track this information,” said Jim Bueermann, president of the Police Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving law enforcement.
The Post analysis comes as a national debate is raging over the police use of deadly force, especially against minorities.
Federal Bureau of Investigation records over the past decade show about 400 fatal police shootings a year, or an average of 1.1 deaths a day. Reporting of shootings by police agencies is voluntary.
But the Post’s analysis indicates the daily death toll for 2015 is close to 2.6 as of Friday. At that pace, police will have shot and killed nearly 1,000 people by the end of the year, the paper said.
Among unarmed victims, two-thirds were black or Hispanic.
Based on census numbers for the areas where the killings took place, blacks were killed at three times the rate of whites or other minorities.
Three of the 385 fatal shootings have resulted in an officer being charged with a crime.
What can be said in response to that article? I mean, we know what needs to be done, but when you see the statistics represented as such, and then see proof that police are covering up their killings…I do feel like throwing up.
According to a new report from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice African-American women in San Francisco account for 50% of the female arrests, but only make up 6% of the female population.
The difference between Black female and non-black female arrests are four times higher than the rest of California. This rate has gone up sharply in San Francisco: in 1980, the arrest disparity between black women and non-black women was 4.1 percent, which is less than one-third of 2013’s racial disparity.
Get the link to the full report at the alternet link above.
Moving on to Bernie Sanders. It seems he wrote some shitty article about, well: Shakesville: On Bernie Sanders’ 1972 Essay
So, a Mother Jones profile of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders dug up, among other things, an essay Sanders penned in 1972 for an alternative newspaper called the Vermont Freeman. Titled “Man—and Woman,” the piece is an exploration of gender roles written in a ’70s pop-psych milieu, and it describes a man in a couple fantasizing about abusing women while having sex with a female partner who is fantasizing about being raped; invokes a hypothetical newspaper article about a preteen girl being gang-raped; and references the woman having a “sex friend when you were 13 years old.”
This is a longish quote from the essay and some thoughts from the Shakesville blog…warning, it is fucked up shit. (the quote)
A man goes home and masturbates his typical fantasy. A woman on her knees, a woman tied up, a woman abused.
A woman enjoys intercourse with her man—as she fantasizes being raped by 3 men simultaneously.
The man and woman get dressed up on Sunday—and go to Church, or maybe to their “revolutionary” political meeting.
Have you ever looked at the Stag, Man, Hero, Tough magazines on the shelf of your local bookstore? Do you know why the newspapers with the articles like “Girl 12 raped by 14 men” sell so well? To what in us are they appealing?
Women, for their own preservation, are trying to pull themselves together. And it’s necessary for all of humanity that they do so. Slavishness on one hand breeds pigness on the other hand. Pigness on one hand breeds slavishness on the other. Men and women—both are losers. Women adapt themselves to fill the needs of men, and men adapt themselves to fill the needs of women. In the beginning there were strong men who killed the animals and brought home the food—and the dependent women who cooked it. No More! Only the roles remain—waiting to be shaken off. There are no “human” oppressors. Oppressors have lost their humanity. On one hand “slavishness,” on the other hand “pigness.” Six of one, half dozen of the other. Who wins?
Many women seem to be walking a tightrope now. Their qualities of love, openness, and gentleness were too deeply enmeshed with qualities of dependency, subservience, and masochism. How do you love—without being dependent? How do you be gentle—without being subservient? How do you maintain a relationship without giving up your identity and without getting strung out? How do you reach out and give your heart to your lover, but maintain the soul which is you?
The man is bitter.
“You lied to me,” he said. (She did).
“You said that you loved me, that you wanted me, that you needed me. Those are your words.” (They are).
“But in reality,” he said, “if you ever loved me, or wanted me, or needed me (all of which I’m not certain was ever true), you also hated me. You hated me—just as you have hated every man in your entire life, but you didn’t have the guts to tell me that. You hated me before you ever saw me, even though I was not your father, or your teacher, or your sex friend when you were 13 years old, or your husband. You hated me not because of who I am, or what I was to you, but because I am a man. You did not deal with me as a person—as me. You lived a lie with me, used me and played games with me—and that’s a piggy thing to do.”
And she said, “You wanted me not as a woman, or a lover, or a friend, but as a submissive woman, or submissive friend, or submissive lover; and right now where my head is I balk at even the slightest suspicion of that kind of demand.”
And he said, “You’re full of __________.”
And they never again made love together (which they had each liked to do more than anything) or never ever saw each other one more time.
After I read this last night, my thoughts were: One, 1972 is a long-ass time ago, but Sanders was also 31 years old in 1972. Not exactly a kid. Two, I had no desire to see Sanders “crucified” over it, as became the charge against anyone who raised concerns about it. Basically I just wanted him to say, “That was super fucked up and indefensible and I regret it.” Three, asking a man to repudiate troubling attitudes about women/sexual assault isn’t an attack. It’s a request to (maybe) reestablish trust. And four, that shouldn’t be a big deal, since people who genuinely believe they fucked up generally don’t mind saying so.
Melissa is being generous if you ask me….I’ve got some serious issues with this shit. But let’s continue:
But Sanders took a different route. Through a campaign spokesperson, the essay was described as a “dumb attempt at dark satire in an alternative publication.”
Step One: Call it satire. Step Two: Call us humorless.
The spokesman further explained: “When Bernie got into this race, he understood that there would be efforts to distracts voters and the press from the real issues confronting the nation today.”
Well, not for nothing, pal, but male politicians seeking higher office who have loathsome ideas about women, gender roles, and sexual violence is one of “the real issues confronting the nation today.” Which is why I was hoping that Sanders would take seriously the concerns raised about some of the language used in that piece.
The truth is, I’m way more angry about that response than I was about the fucking essay.
Oh yeah, I agree with Melissa here…she is fucking right about this. For the “spokesman” asshole to dismiss the real issue here, only goes to show that what ever disgusting misogynist perverted sexist pedo shit Sanders was selling back in 1972, it still on the sale rack in 2015.
Now for some other disgusting crap being slung about…this time it is in the name of Christians, via Digby:
That comes from a conservative Christian writer who isn’t suggesting that abuse is a problem or even that it’s real. He’s saying that the people who are accused of abuse, like those who are accused of racism, are the real victims:
A conservative Quiverfull writer with ties to the Duggars has come out swinging in defense of the “19 Kids & Counting” stars, posting a series of outraged Facebook posts praising the family in spite of an ongoing sexual abuse scandal.
In the posts, which were first cited by watchdog group Homeschoolers Anonymous, homeschooling activist Rick Boyer — also the author of the Jim Bob Duggar-endorsed book “Take Back the Land” — asserted that the reality-show family appropriately handled allegations of incest and assault by eldest son Josh Duggar, and that they do not deserve to be criticized.
“‘Abuse’ is the new ‘racism,’” Boyer, who also sits on the board of the Home Educators Association of Virginia, wrote. “As soon as you’re accused of it, you’re considered guilty. Just what would you like the Duggars to have done? Turn all their kids over to a godless psychologist? Maybe one supplied by the local public school system where ‘abuse’ is so unheard of? Should they have skinned Josh alive, rolled him in salt and hung him on a meathook?”
Another look at the same topic: When “Religion” Is Just Bigotry | The Mahablog
Conservative Christians live to feel persecuted. It’s what inspires them to get up in the morning.
You know, Fox News has been on top of the Duggar story since the beginning. Not. Guess how much time Fox News has spent covering the Duggar scandal – Salon.com -If you answered “Less than 2 minutes,” you are correct!
This post is getting long and I am getting tired. The rest in dump-o-links.
Lawsuit Accuses Texas of Denying Birth Certificates to U.S.-Born Children | The Bob and Chez Show | News and Politics Podcast and Blog
These next two links go together:
Raul Lavin entered the world nearly a century ago as a member of the Cuban Club.
Lavin, 98, the club’s oldest member, said his parents signed him up the month before he was born. That entitled him to 60 days of free membership, a great gift in those times, he said.
“The first thing cigar makers ever did was pay the dues to the club.”
That’s because the club provided many of the joys and necessities of life: fellowship, theater, dancing, the neighborhood bar, doctor visits, pharmacy, hospitalization and burial.
The Cuban Club, Italian Club and Centro Asturiano, where Spanish immigrants gathered, stand as Tampa gems, looking like grand mansions built by railroad barons of the era. These elaborate edifices, all built between 1914 and 1918 to replace original buildings, housed America’s first mutual aid societies, forerunners to health maintenance organizations. Celebrated architect M. Leo Elliott designed or helped design each building, all listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
A rescue effort led by descendants of the early members saved the buildings. The Cuban and Italian clubs were in such decay by the 1980s that pigeons, entering through broken windows, roosted in once-glittering ballrooms. Fund raisers and grants enabled the members to put millions into renovating them.
Centro Asturiano never deteriorated to the degree of the other two buildings because members raised the money to make improvements as needed over the years, said president Frank Menendez.
Another early club, organized by black Cuban immigrants who felt the full sting of the Jim Crow American South, did not fare so well. The Marti-Maceo Society’s red brick club house on Seventh Avenue, built in 1907 with arched doors and windows and a high wraparound balcony outside, fell to the wrecking ball of urban renewal in 1965.
Sharon Gomez, president of the club — named for Jose Marti and celebrated black Cuban Gen. Antonio Maceo Grajales — said a lawyer member led a failed effort to save the old building. Members moved to a modest replacement on Seventh Avenue near the western gate of Ybor City. Like the other clubs, Marti-Maceo rents out the facility for private gatherings.
Not many of those involved in the rescue of the old buildings remember the time when cigar factories were smoking and the clubs were the center of life. Cuban Club president Patrick Manteiga, 51, for example, is too young. Manteiga, editor of La Gaceta, remembers the building only as a rental venue; as a teenager, he helped the organizers of the popular Artists & Writers Balls in the early 1980s.
All the clubs have lost members over the years, he said, just as service clubs like Optimist or Elks have.
“They just aren’t a necessary part of life.”
They were vital in the beginning, when “Latins in non-Latin parts of town were not very welcome,” he said. Depending on the club, within its confines members could bowl, play handball, work out, take a dip in an indoor pool and meet friends in the cantina for card games and dominoes.
Now, only Centro Asturiano’s cantina is open to a few older members who gather daily for dominoes and cards. It’s a small space on the second floor. When the club had 6,000 members, the cantina was a cavernous room on the ground floor. There, the magnificent, 42-foot marble and onyx bar — the longest of its kind in the world, Menendez says — is open only when the room is rented.
Immigrants took great pride in these buildings, which served as their country clubs. Joe Caltagirone, 89, historian for the Italian Club, said his grandfather would come home from work on a farm, bathe, eat dinner, put on a coat and tie and go to the club.
“My grandfather would not be caught dead in there without a tie and coat.”
For Lavin, the best time at the Cuban Club was right after World War II. The cigar factories were still bustling and so was the club, bringing in star band leaders such as Cab Calloway and Count Basie.
The club put on elaborate productions of light operettas like The Merry Widow, with lavish gowns for the women, elegant uniforms and cutaways on the men.
“Every Sunday, the Cuban Club theater would get full,” Lavin said.
“It was a beautiful period.”
A few pictures…
The Cuban Club:
The Italian Club:
Centro Espanol of West Tampa:
The club that started the mutual aid society movement is now a group of about 60 whose two clubhouses were sold to other entities.
Spanish immigrants led by Ignacio Haya — whose factory beat Vicente Martinez Ybor’s in turning out Tampa’s first hand-rolled cigar — formed Centro Espanol in 1891. It grew to nearly 3,000 people in its heyday. In 1912, the club built the large brick structure that still bears its name at 1536 E Seventh Ave. in Ybor City. Designed by Francis J. Kennard in a mix of Spanish, Moorish and French Renaissance styles, the building has been designated a U.S. national historic landmark. It’s now occupied by the Carne ChopHouse restaurant.
By the way, here is a picture of Jose Marti at Ybor’s cigar factory 1893:
This next story is ridiculous, and I think it is fucking laughable that the father was not arrested. Georgia woman shackled over son’s school absences: Reports | www.ajc.com
A Georgia woman likely faces probation after she was arrested and put in ankle shackles earlier this month because of her son’s school absences, according to People.
Julie Giles, of Screven County, said she was arrested after her son had six more unexcused absences than the school system allows, in part because he is frequently ill and Giles does not have the money to take him to the doctor.
“As all of you know, my boys being sick often is nothing new. … The truth is, l cannot afford a copay every single time they are sick, but I never want to send them to school when they feel bad or could possibly get others sick,” she wrote on Facebook on May 12. “I have NEVER been in trouble before in my life and the boys are beside themselves.”
Giles was booked on May 14 and released within minutes, according to the Screven County Jail. She was charged with one count of failure to comply with mandatory attendance.
She posted that day to say she had been shackled by the ankles when she turned herself in. Screven County Sheriff Mike Kile confirmed this to People, but said the shackling is standard procedure during any arrest.
A GoFundMe has been set up for Giles. As of this writing, $710 has been raised out of a $2,500 goal.
Giles will likely receive probation, Kile told People.
She is one of 12 people this school year referred to the court for student truancy, Screven County Schools Superintendent William Bland said in an email.
Giles’ husband, Keith, was not arrested, according to the New York Daily News. The school system report that was first filed with the sheriff’s office names only the person who enrolled the truant student, Bland said.
Read more about this shit at the link.
It even made the Foreign press: Sylvania teacher arrested following ‘THREE unexcused absences by son’ | Daily Mail Online
Finally some good news: Calif. high school has 100 percent college acceptance rate – NY Daily News
A California high school has beat the odds, sending all its graduating seniors off to college for the seventh straight year, despite being located in a neighborhood riddled with crime and plagued with gangs.
“The neighborhoods that surround the students are underserved. There are very few grocery stores. There are lots of gangs. It’s not a place most people would want to raise their kids,” he added.
This is an open thread, and have a good Sunday.
We live in strange times. Our politics and popular culture seem to be dominated by people who pretend to be deeply religious as a cover for their own inner hypocrisy and corruption.
Two of our three branches of government controlled by right wing “christians” who give themselves permission to violate any standards of behavior while they focus obsessively on the “sins” of others. They can’t seem to stop thinking about what other people are doing in their sex lives, and they focus their attention on trying to control women’s reproductive choices.
When they aren’t trying to ban abortion and birth control and legalize forced childbirth, they seem bent on destroying any remaining vestiges of democracy and equality in our country by removing any controls on corporations and wealthy political donors. They justify the rampant violence caused by the easy availability of guns, and they defend police brutality against people whom they consider somehow “lesser” than themselves.
How did we get to this point? I can recall when American culture and media were much more dominated by what the right wingers used to call “the East Coast liberal establishment.” I recall the Supreme Court making major decisions that led to advancements in equal rights in this country. There was a time when even radicals like Noam Chomsky could get on C-Span and other TV outlets and when the Sunday shows weren’t required to have three Republicans for every Democrat allowed on the air. There was a time when people who didn’t believe in evolution and got their “science” from the bible were marginalized and dismissed as nuts.
Wasn’t there? Was it all a dream?
The latest right wing hypocrite to be exposed is former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, who has been indicted for trying to manipulate bank reporting rules and lying to the FBI about it. There seems much less public concern that Hastert was doing this in order to hide the fact that he abused high school students whom he worked with as a teacher and coach.
Here’s some background on the Hastert story from Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times:
He was always thought of the “Accidental Speaker.” That’s because of the dramatic turn of events on one day – Saturday, Dec. 19, 1998 – that vaulted the relatively unknown lawmaker from Chicago’s western suburbs into the top job.
House members that day headed to the chamber for an unusual Saturday session, for what would be historic votes to impeach President Bill Clinton.The votes were to be on perjury and obstruction of justice charges, though everyone knew that Clinton got into this jam because of his sexual relationship with then White House intern Monica Lewinsky….
Republicans had lost seats in the 1998 mid-terms, with some blaming GOP leaders for aggressively pursuing the Clinton impeachment.
After the election losses, some House members asked Hastert, then the chief deputy whip under Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, to run for majority leader. But he refused because he had already promised to support to Rep. Dick Armey R-Texas….
Meanwhile, House Speaker Newt Gingrich R-Ga. decided to resign, though the public was not yet aware that he too, had been having an affair.
Gingrich threw his backing to Louisiana’s Rep. Bob Livingston.
On that fateful Saturday, members gathered in the chamber knowing that Livingston had earlier in the week admitted he was having an extramarital affair, jumping the gun on a magazine that was about to expose him.
Livingston launched into a speech on the House floor, urging Clinton to just quit.
But what happened next was a shocker. Livingston announced his own resignation.
I was in the House gallery that day and recall clearly the loud gasps and shouts from members absorbing what Livingston was doing. Suddenly, Republicans had to find a new speaker.
Sweet also mentions that the Mark Foley scandal back in 2006 may have led to Hastert stepping down as Speaker and leaving the House. Read the whole thing at the link.
Sweet doesn’t even mention the rumors about Hastert himself that were going around in 2006. Steve M. wrote a bit about it at Crooks & Liars yesterday, linking to this October 2006 Huffington Post blog by Lawrence O’Donnell: Who is Scott Palmer?
He is Speaker Hastert’s chief of staff, which makes him the key player in the what-did-Hastert-know-and-when-did-he-know-it drama. Scott Palmer has issued a statement flatly denying that Kirk Fordham, Mark Foley’s former chief of staff, warned him that Foley was crossing the line with pages long before Foley’s inappropriate email surfaced. Palmer’s denial of Fordham’s headline-grabbing claim is the thread Hastert’s Speakership is now hanging by.
In Hastert’s brief, evasive press conference on Thursday, sharp reporters immediately zeroed in on Palmer’s role in the Foley information flow. Did Hastert leap to the defense of his chief of staff’s honor in the crucial credibility contest with Kirk Fordham? Did he say I know Scott Palmer and I know he’s telling the truth? No. He avoided every question with Palmer’s name in it. Hastert obviously does not want to talk about Scott Palmer.
If Fordham did warn Palmer about Foley a long time ago, what are the odds that Palmer did not tell Hastert? As close to zero as you can get. Many chiefs of staff are close, very close, to their bosses on Capitol Hill. But none are closer than Scott Palmer is to Denny Hastert. They don’t just work together all day, they live together.
There are plenty of odd couple Congressmen who have roomed together on Capitol Hill, but I have never heard of a chief of staff who rooms with his boss. It is beyond unusual. But it must have its advantages. Anything they forget to tell each other at the office, they have until bedtime to catch up on. And then there’s breakfast for anything they forgot to tell each other before falling asleep. And then there’s all day at the office. Hastert and Palmer are together more than any other co-workers in the Congress.
Hastert was married to a woman who apparently stayed back home in Illinois while her husband shacked up with his chief of staff. Go to the link to read more.
Ordinarily I wouldn’t link to InfoWars, but they actually have published the best summary of the Hastert scandals and rumors that I’ve seen. It’s based on old stories from Wayne Madson, who is often denigrated for spreading bizarre conspiracy theories but sometimes gets stories that have some truth to them. Here’s an excerpt:
In 2006, WMR scooped the Washington media by reporting that Hastert was involved with the cover-up of a major sex scandal involving Republican congressmen and underage male pages.
WMR led off its reporting on Hastert with this September 30, 2006 report:
“Congressional sources told WMR that Hastert, while working from 1964 to 1980 as a popular history/government teacher and wrestling coach at Yorkville High School, in Yorkville, Illinois — a suburb of Chicago — was the subject of persistent rumors about inappropriate contact with male members of his high school wrestling team. The culture of the times usually resulted in such alleged behavior being covered up by public and parochial school authorities. However, the rumors were enough for his Yorkville constituency to reject him when he ran for an open seat in the Illinois House of Representatives in 1980. However, Hastert lucked out when another sitting Republican House member who represented the three-seat district had a stroke and declined to run for re-election. The GOP machine bosses selected Hastert as the replacement candidate.
Hastert served in Springfield from 1980 to 1986, six years to make the transformation from wrestling coach with a cloud surrounding himself to politician. In 1986, Hastert received an unexpected promotion. After incumbent Republican Rep. John Grotberg was nominated by the GOP for a second term, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer and fell into a coma. The Illinois Republican Convention selected Hastert as the replacement on the ticket, a virtual election to the U.S. House of Representatives in the strongly Republican district.
In 1989, when the allegations of homosexuality among GOP congressmen arose during the first ‘Pagegate”‘ scandal [the so-called “Franklin cover-up], Hastert’s name was one of those whispered.
Read the rest at the link. So even then the rumors about Hastert’s history of abuse were out there but were apparently ignored by the mainstream media. If you’re a Republican, you can get away with this kind of thing. Just look at Diaper Dave Vitter, who survived an embarrassing sex scandal and may be the next Governor of Louisiana.
Here’s Josh Marshall on Hastert and the Foley Scandal. His conclusions in the light of the recent news:
We don’t have any convictions yet. Indeed, any statute of limitations has almost certainly lapsed. So we can’t be certain of anything and we have few details. But it seems clear that Hastert himself had enough of a history of sexual abuse (though we don’t know the ages yet) that he was willing to pay $3.5 million to keep it covered up.
Adding this fact puts the whole Foley scandal in a dramatically different light – at least at the level of irony and perhaps more.
Looking back, it is hard to believe Hastert didn’t go through the weeks of the Foley scandal something like petrified that his own history would be kicked up in the storm of the Foley revelations. Indeed, this new information might explain his own awkward and oddly tentative response.
Set aside whether this past had any role in Hastert’s office’s laggard response to warnings about Foley. Hastert was hiding an explosive secret. He must have been terrified of exposure. A thundering denunciation of Foley would seem like the kind of move which almost would have invited a past victim to step forward. Perhaps that explains his reticence. At this point there’s no way to know.
I’m just throwing this stuff out there for discussion. Obviously there will be lots more coming out about Hastert’s history, including how he got rich enough to pay millions to keep his shameful secrets. Just a few more stories, links only:
CBS Chicago: Dennis Hastert To Friends: I Am A Victim, Too.
Conservative columnist John Kass at the Chicago Tribune: Dennis Hastert and the Illinois Combine.
Josh Gerstein at Politico: Dennis Hastert charges cast light on 2013 lawsuit.
Also from Politico: Hastert hometown rocked by scandal.
What are you hearing? Remember, this is an open thread. Feel free to post your thoughts and links on any topic in the comment thread, and have an enjoyable weekend.
FYI: The images in this post are from Robin Schmidt’s Pinterest page, “Reading.”
Damn, this just gets more disturbing…”Sausage Rolls?” Give me a fucking break.
My favorite from today is from Cagle:
This is an open thread.
I’ve written about gentrification and the impact on inner city neighborhoods like mine. Today, I’d like to introduce you to a real nightmare ruining my neighborhood and other neighborhoods all over the country.
I’m going to approach it from several vantage points. First, as a person who is living the firsthand nightmare of being surrounded by illegal, unlicensed short term rentals that bring party happy tourists into quiet neighborhoods. Second, as a person who has watched many friends get booted from their rental properties because their apartments are worth more as short term illegal rentals for tourists. Studies in cities like New York City and San Francisco show the impact of illegal and unlicensed AirBnB short term rentals on homelessness and increasing the unavailability of long term rentals in cities already facing issues by not having enough affordable housing. It’s not pretty. Get ready for an increase in homeless in a town or city near year.
The art installation you see on the left comes from the creative minds of two women in my neighborhood. I was pleased to see this come so quickly after I’ve started emailing and calling my city councilwoman about what’s been going on all around me.
Over Memorial Day weekend, a Coney Island-style stand-in popped up on a porch on Royal Street in Bywater. The art piece featured two Bywater caricatures on a satirical billboard: “Welcome to the Bywater, where the vacation never ends!” Artist Caroline Thomas, who paints Mardi Gras floats for Royal Artists, created the piece and posted photos on Facebook. The spread went viral. Meanwhile, dozens of people — including many out-of-town visitors — posed for photos, gawked at and talked about the piece outside her home.
And her neighborhood is full of those visitors. Most of her block offers a room (or entire home) on Airbnb, she says. She counted 140 Airbnbs within her neighborhood, compared to just a handful of apartments for rent listed on sites like Craigslist.
“We noticed over the past six months a definite shift in the neighborhood,” she says. “Big packs of tourists where you see 20 people going down the street with rolling suitcases and you’re like, ‘What’s happening?’ … We walk outside and people are taking constant photos of our house. At first it was charming, then you start to feel like an animal in a zoo.”
She may feel like an animal in a zoo but I feel more like a hostage in my own home. I have an endless parade of strangers at all hours of the day and night within inches of my bedroom. It’s hard to park in front of my house. I frequently hear noises that you’d expect from a frat house that’s known for wild parties. People from New Jersey–who basically never even live here or come here any more–are buying houses on my street and renting them out for around $200 a night. Take $200 x 30 and you’ll have a monthly income for a small apartment in Tokyo. However, Tokyo has a lot of well paying jobs. New Orleans does not and long term rentals–while rising to east coast levels–are way too high for New Orleans incomes. I’m losing neighbors and gaining party-throwing crime bait.
My roommate Chascarillo Meow and I have been struggling with a lot of anger over our neighborhood (the Bywater) and decided to work it out with some art. We’ve slowly come to realize that the entire neighborhood is being overrun by Airbnb, to the point where it’s near impossible to find long term leases (140 Airbnb listings versus 18 apartments up on craigslist). Every house around us is running an Airbnb hustle, and specifically the one to the left of us: the woman that owns it has multiple properties in the neighborhood, she doesn’t live on premise, heck, she isn’t in town half the time, she’s packing as many as 10 people into each side of the shotgun, and it’s back to back rentals. It’s bachelorette weekends and birthday getaways every day of the week over there. I used to live on a quiet block and now it’s packs of bros heading to Booty’s for craft cocktails. I walk outside and people are taking selfies in front of my house. Markey’s and the Country Club (though both very considerate establishments) are completely overrun with tourists, and no long function as the neighborhood establishments they once were.
I know this is touchy subject, because everyone knows someone who’s using Airbnb to supplement their income, but take a second to think about what you’re doing to your city. All 140 of those properties (excluding a few, I’m sure, that are just offering up something like a couch or are only renting it out a few times a year) could be filled with locals. People that pay taxes and care about potholes and our police and whether Pres Kabacoff is going to build high rise apartments along our riverfront. And people displaced from the Bywater will start filling up poorer, more vulnerable neighborhoods in the city, and those people in turn will be displaced. Pre-Katrina, people were spending 19% of their income on rent. Now it’s 41%. And when people like the lady next door are charging $250/ night how can locals compete? Her price for renting it out for a month? $5,000. That’s Tokyo prices.
Here is my letter to my city councilwoman that I sent on May 14th.
Hi! I live at (address redacted for obvious reasons) and am at my wit’s end dealing with the short term air bnb next to me at (house numbers redacted). The owners live in NJ and are never here. The property manager appears to live in San Francisco. It is like living next to a frat house. I live next to a legitimate b&b with owners in resident and it’s like night and day. Also, I can tell you that I’ve lost 4 friends whose landlords evicted them to do the same set up. We are totally losing our neighborhood to these things. The same people have just bought a property across the street and are planning to do the same thing. I don’t have time to list all the issues I have had but just ask yourself if you would want complete strangers walking within inches of your bedroom window at all hours of the day and night. One time it was with about 20 bicycles.
Yes I said 20 bicycles at all hours of the night and day rolling within inches of my bedroom window. Most of these folks act like my street is an extension of Bourbon Street. They also seem to be unaware that they’ve introduced incredible levels of muggings in my neighborhood because most of them aren’t very streetwise and don’t know how to deal with an inner city neighborhood like mine. We may be gentrifying but we are a long way from being a quiet little burb. These folks are like walking crime bait. There are laws surrounding these things but the city doesn’t have the resources to enforce them.
I also live next to one of the few licensed B&B’s in the neighborhood with resident owners. They pay their taxes, their fees, and they follow the rules. Their business is being hurt by the black market short term rentals that have spread like wildfire the last year or so. My neighborhood is not zoned for multiple commercial ventures. However, this is what’s happening now.
My neighbors used to be the folks that worked in the quarter like musicians and artists, writers, barbers, waiters and just hard working people. If they are like me and own their house, they’re still here and live in fear of the potential increase in property taxes and service fees that will have to come with supporting all this activity that is totally out of place in a neighborhood. Plus, property values are sky rocketing. If they are renting, they better hope their landlord isn’t struck by the greedbug because they will be booted and will join a huge number of people having to find apartments in a city where there are fewer and fewer options all the time.
This is not unique to New Orleans. All you have to do is start searching and you will see how New York, San Francisco, and even small cities and towns are dealing with this. Here’s a blog relating issues that Air Bnb’s are causing in LA.
However, Airbnb has become politically controversial in high-priced, regulation-obsessed cities like Los Angeles and New York. Hotels and hotel unions quite understandably see Airbnb as competition in the short-term lodging industry, and wish to regulate it intensively (if not to destroy it). One common anti-Airbnb argument** is that Airbnb, by making short-term lodging more affordable, actually reduces the supply of traditional apartments—that is, apartments leased for a month or more at a time). The argument runs as follows: units that are on Airbnb for a few days at a time would, in the absence of Airbnb, be rented out as traditional apartments. Thus, Airbnb reduces the housing supply and raises rents.
This argument rests on an essentially unprovable claim: that Airbnb units would otherwise be rented out as traditional apartments. More importantly, the argument proves too much. If Airbnb hosts reduce the supply of apartments by not using their houses and spare rooms as traditional apartments, why isn’t this equally true of hotels who are not using their rooms as apartments, or homeowners who are not renting out every spare room? And if homeowners and hotels are reducing the rental housing supply, why shoudn’t they be forced to rent out their units as traditional apartments?
Finally, the argument rests on the assumption that Airbnb includes a significant share of the rental housing market. For example, LAANE (a union-affiliated policy organization based in Los Angeles) recently issued a report claiming that Airbnb takes ,7316 units off the Los Angeles rental market, which “is equivalent to seven years of affordable housing construction inLos Angeles.” But since Los Angeles produces very little “affordable housing” (whatever that term means) this statistic proves nothing.
A better way of understanding Airbnb’s impact, if any, on rents is to compare it to the total number of housing units in Los Angeles. There are just over 1.2 million housing units in the city of Los Angeles; thus, Airbnb units are roughly 0.6 percent of the housing market. There are about 700,000 rental units in Los Angeles—so even if every single Airbnb unit would otherwise be part of the rental market, Airbnb units would comprise only 1 percent of the rental market. (I very much doubt that this is the case, if only because since some Airbnb units are in privately owned homes and not every part-time Airbnb landlord wants a permanent roommate). Thus, it seems to me that even if every single Airbnb unit would be used as traditional apartments in the absence of Airbnb, its impact on regional housing markets would be small.
That analysis does not stand up to study. Here’s an article in The Examiner about the impact in San Francisco. Its Mission neighborhood is particularly hard hit.
San Francisco is once again debating how best to regulate short-term rental websites like Airbnb, after a law legalizing the practice went into effect less than four months ago.City planners have since said the law is unenforceable and needs to change, a position supported by Mayor Ed Lee and the Board of Supervisors.But just how to strengthen the law remains a point of contention, as does the question of what impact short-term rentals are having on San Francisco’s housing stock.Today, a report will be released by Budget Analyst Harvey Rose that provides new analysis of the impact of short-term rentals on The City, drawing comparisons between longer-term hosts and evictions and estimating that in some neighborhoods Airbnb units could comprise as much as 40 percent of potential rentals.
Between 925 and 1,960 units citywide have been removed from the housing market by hosts renting out entire units on Airbnb for more than 58 days, the report estimates. While this total comprises a small fraction of San Francisco’s 244,012 rental units, it does represent up to 23.2 percent of the total citywide vacant units, which are estimated at 8,438, the report says.Airbnb is not the only short-term rental website with listings in San Francisco — VRBO, for example, is the second-most popular — but the report only analyzed Airbnb because data for other companies was unavailable. The report notes that “rentals for private and shared rooms would reduce the available rental stock even further.”The data was not provided by Airbnb, but rather compiled through online research.The impact in San Francisco varies by neighborhood, with the greatest impacts in the Mission, Haight-Ashbury/Western Addition, Castro-Eureka Valley and Potrero Hill-South Beach.In the Haight, for example, nearly 32 percent of the vacant rental housing units were listed on Airbnb, some 122 total. In the Mission, 29 percent of potential rentals, or 199, were listed on the website. Another estimate says the Mission percentage could be as high as 40 percent and as high as 43 percent in the Haight.“Airbnb has made a lot of claims that they are not impacting our housing stock. This demonstrates that they clearly are,” Campos said during an interview with The San Francisco Examiner. “And that in some neighborhoods like the Mission the impact is so significant that it’s definitely pushing people out.”The report draws a comparison between the number of evictions in neighborhoods with the most hosts, though notes there is no way to draw a direct connection. In the Mission, for example, there were 315 hosts last year and 323 evictions.“There seems to be a connection,” Campos said. “We won’t know for sure until we actually get Airbnb to give us the information.”The report draws a distinction between commercial hosts, those booked in excess of 58 days, and casual hosts, and bases its analysis on 6,113 Airbnb listings identified in December, of which nearly 4,200 were casual hosts. The impact on the housing stock is based on commercial hosts, which the report defines as those not supplementing living expenses but treating short-term rentals as a steady source of income.Those debating the regulations talk about striking the right balance, such as with the cap on the number of allowable stays per year. Current law states there can only be 90 days for unhosted stays but unlimited days when a host is present. That is being proposed to change to 120 days for all types of stays by the Planning Commission. Campos is pushing for a 60-day cap. A proposed short-term rental measure for the November ballot proposes a 75-day cap.The report said that if the existing regulations were enforced, the current listings of 6,113 would decrease to 5,557. With the 120-day cap, they would decline to 5,706. A 60-day cap would lower them to 4,471.
Here’s an Alternet article on Air BnB’s “Parasitic Impact on New York City”. It’s an article on a New Yorker who has done a study on the impact on affordable housing.
Airbnb has permeated New York City’s housing market and its impact has been parasitic. Since its creation, the apartment-rental startup has been praised as a shining example of collaborative consumption, but like many aspects of the “sharing economy,” there’s a dark underbelly to its success. Some of the most disturbing details can be gleaned from the new website, Inside Airbnb. The site, and its interactive NYC map, are the work of activist Murray Cox. I caught up with Cox to discuss his findings and the emerging fight against Airbnb.
Michael Arria: What inspired you to create the website?
Murray Cox: There were a few things that inspired and motivated me to create the Inside Airbnb website. Firstly, I noticed the marketing campaigns that Airbnb ran in the New York City subways last year stating that “Airbnb was great for New York.”
At the same time it was widely reported that many Airbnb hosts were operating illegal hotels and that neither the hosts nor Airbnb were collecting taxes. There was an active and public debate in Albany about the laws, and a legal battle to get Airbnb to release data on how their rental platform was being used.
I get suspicious when a company engages in a public relations campaign while laws are being debated by elected officials, or in the courts. It seemed that Airbnb was being completely unaccountable to the community, yet asking for the laws to be changed for their benefit.
I was also inspired by work I did over the summer with DIVAS for Social Justice at the Weeksville Heritage Center. We taught young children from the neighborhood about gentrification using STEAM subjects. My contribution was to use statistics and maps to allow the students to understand some of the forces that shaped and is now changing their community. That experience, and seeing the reaction from the public to various exhibitions of the student’s work made me realize that data-driven storytelling about the world around us and important issues is very powerful.
MA: Did your findings confirm your suspicions? Did they surprise you?
MC: I started off just looking for data on Airbnb in my neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant in central Brooklyn. I knew of a few people in my community that rent out entire apartments in their multi-family homes via Airbnb, and based on other data I had seen, I suspected that this might be widespread.
Once I saw the data for my neighborhood, it both confirmed my suspicions and surprised me. At least 1,224 Airbnb listings were on the Airbnb website for Bedford-Stuyvesant, with 633 (51.7%) of those being for an “entire home/apartment.” Looking at the calendars and reviews for the entire homes/apartments, I found that more than 90% of them were available for more than 60 days out of the year, and on average received a review from a guest once a month.
This directly refuted Airbnb’s claims that “87 percent of Airbnb hosts share the home in which they live.” And more importantly, 633 is a large number of apartments being taken off the long-term housing market in a neighborhood with historic records of homelessness, displacement and reduced housing affordability.
In addition, 43.5% of the listings in Bedford-Stuyvesant were by hosts with more than one listing, sometimes multiple entire apartments or multiple rooms in an apartment building. This is not a story of “sharing” or of a “sharing economy.”
Once I collected and analyzed the data for Airbnb in Bedford-Stuyvesant, I decided to collect data for the entire city, and saw that the same story was repeated throughout the city. I then went about building a site that made it easy for anyone, even without a statistical background, to see the true story.
Here’s further evidence of the impact of Air BnB on NYC. Basically, it’s made already unaffordable and unavailable housing even more unaffordable and unavailable.
Here’s another article at Slate featuring a view point of some one who has rented their house out in Marfa, Texas.
When I first began listing my one-bedroom adobe house in Marfa, Texas, on Airbnb, the service seemed like a godsend. When I took a weekend trip, I’d host tourists from Austin; their rental fees would more than cover the cost of a few tanks of gas and a nice dinner. The rewards weren’t just financial: The people who stayed in my house felt more like houseguests than clients. After a visitor left, I’d find a handwritten thank-you note on the kitchen table, leftover snacks in the fridge, and once, a charming pencil drawing of my cat scratching his ear. And since the hotel options in town are limited, plenty of visitors were happy to pay below-market prices for an authentic Marfa experience, housecats and all.
This utopian vision of regular people helping each other out (and making a little money along the way) is a cornerstone of Airbnb’s PR strategy: “It’s like the United Nations at every kitchen table. It’s very powerful,” Airbnb co-founder Brian Chesky told attendees at a hospitality conference last year. “For us to win, no one has to lose.”
But that’s a more contentious claim than it might seem. Recent years have shown there are plenty of profits to be made in the short-term-rental world—and big profits tend to produce both winners and losers. Airbnb’s top 40 hosts in New York City have grossed more than $35 million combined. It didn’t take long for the original hosts of the so-called sharing economy to find themselves competing with enterprising property owners. “There are entrepreneurs out there who see that there’s a huge difference between the cost of a hotel room and what you can get on Airbnb, and they take advantage of it,” says Neal Gorenflo, co-founder of the nonprofit Shareable. “Basically, there’s a dramatic difference in the price of the same commodity that’s normally in two separate markets. People who have the means realize they can exploit that difference.” In a recent blog post, Gorenflo calls this “the dark side of the sharing economy.”
It’s easy to see why many landlords would be tempted: They stand to make much more renting apartments to short-term guests at higher rates than they would if they signed up tenants for yearlong leases. In many cities (although not in Marfa), laws protect tenants somewhat, but property owners are finding creative workarounds. In San Francisco a man is suing his landlord for unjust eviction, claiming that he was kicked out of the rent-controlled apartment where he’d lived for nearly a decade, allegedly so his landlord could list it on Airbnb.
“We have a dwindling stock of rent-controlled units in San Francisco,” says Steven Jones, editor-in-chief of the San Francisco Bay Guardian. “Any of those precious few units going to visiting tourists rather than permanent residents certainly adds to the housing crisis here.”
I bump into Air BnB trippers every where. They usually sit out on the stoops eventually next door or they wind up on the bar stools in any number of our local bars. You just walk around and see all these strangers sitting on stoops where your friends used to live and you think, well there went another one.
These Air BnB idiots are easy to spot. That’s undoubtedly why the muggings are going up along with the rents that people around here can’t afford. I ask them why they chose an illegal rental over an actual licensed B&B or hotel. First, they all don’t know they’re basically breaking the law and staying at an illegal hotel. It all looks innocent to them and they think they’re actually helping bring money into our neighborhoods. Their answer is always that it’s cheaper than the hotels or the B&Bs. I tell them it’s because the hotel taxes are what pays for our police, our schools, our roads, and a lot of the things that need fixing here in New Orleans. I explain they are enabling people to make money while avoiding paying for the wear and tear on the city that all of you cause including the crime you’ve brought here. So, crime bait, you really thinking you’re spending enough money here in the city to make up for the fact that what you’re paying for in nightly “rent” is going up to New Jersey?
C’mon. They’re in these places because they can get them on the cheap compared to the legitimate places. You really think they’re also spending lots of money in the city? But, like Caroline says, why should they care about affordable housing and neighborhoods when they have brunch?
Then, I tell them, I hear you walk on the floors. I heard you arguing last night. I almost called the police because I thought some one was getting hurt. Oh? You were just “playing cards”. Really? Did you know you held a conversation outside my bedroom window and that I gig until early morning? Did any of you think that dragging 20 bicycles past my bedroom window might wake me up or bother me? Do you think that I might not like going to the grocery store loaded down with sacks and coming back to find I can’t park anywhere near my home?
Oh, great, you’re spending some money here. That makes up for it all. In your case, more of your money is going to New Jersey than New Orleans. Now you want to think about it next time you do this to some one else? Would you really like to live surrounded by Air BnB tripsters coming and going loudly all the time while you’re trying to work, sleep or just relax? You just wanted to save money and be part of a neighborhood the New York Times keeps calling hip. Let me tell you about the families that actually use to live in that place when I first moved here. They ain’t here no more. But, hey, you’ve got your brunch!
Somebody may be making a killing off of all of this otherwise the New Jersey carpetbaggers wouldn’t have bought the double across the street that used to be home to a nice black family and doing a repeat. It’s certainly not the folks that are having to look for apartments in other parts of the city with rents that are now displacing the working poor. It’s certainly not benefiting me although my house price is going up. I’m more afraid that I’ll have to sell because if the property taxes catch up to the market value, I’m fucked.
Let me point you to another New Yorker with something succinct to say: Airbnb Will Probably Get You Evicted and Priced Out of the City.
Renting your place on Airbnb might help you pay your rent, but it’s making New York City — and San Francisco, Montreal, Berlin and other popular destinations — even less affordable than they already are.
The young and mobile love Airbnb. It’s a step up from crashing on a friend or a stranger’s couch without shelling a month’s rent on a three-day stay at a hotel. It’s also a great way to make up for rent that’s “wasted” on an empty apartment.
‘In an attempt to make an extra buck, you may be slowly screwing yourself out of the market.’For those of us trying to survive in some of the most expensive cities in the world — where everyone wants to live, but fewer and fewer people can afford to — it might even be what allows us to be able to pay the rent.
But wait until you are looking for your next place to live, and see the going rates for rentals in the city.
If you look at the economics of it, Airbnb is ruining your life. Or, at least, your chances at a lasting life in the city. In an attempt to make an extra buck, you may be slowly screwing yourself out of the market.
It’s making New Orleans totally unaffordable and it’s turning the historical neighborhoods with their unique cultures and traditions into mini-Bourbon Streets. It’s time for City Government to Make THIS GO AWAY.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
It has been close to 90 degrees here for the past several days, and it’s technically still spring. I’m beginning to wonder if we are going to have a summer from hell as a follow-up to the worst winter in the half-century I’ve lived in Boston.
In addition to the unusually hot weather, the pollen is so bad that every morning when I wake up it takes a few hours for my scratchy, watery eyes to clear up enough for me to read comfortably.
I’m on a regimen of Flonase, Allegra, and Mucinex; but I still feel stuffed up most of the time. Sometimes I feel itchy and even dizzy and nauseated; and I think it’s from allergies. The itchy skin would be unbearable without the Allegra.
Is anyone else noticing worse-than-usual allergies this year? Last year’s spring allergy season was very bad; this year is far worse. Anyone who actually claims to believe that there isn’t something dramatic happening with our weather is either deluded or lying. I wonder if we will manage to do something about climate change before it’s too late.
What about all that awful weather down in Texas?
Here’s a story from the Texas Tribune, via KXON: Climate change, a factor in Texas floods, largely ignored.
“We have observed an increase of heavy rain events, at least in the South-Central United States, including Texas,” said Nielsen-Gammon, who was appointed by former Gov. George W. Bush in 2000. “And it’s consistent with what we would expect from climate change.”
But the state’s Republican leaders are deeply skeptical of the scientific consensus that human activity is changing the climate, with top environmental regulators in Texas questioning whether the planet is warming at all. And attempts by Democratic lawmakers during the 2015 legislative session to discuss the issue have come up short.
“In part, it’s ideologically driven and intellectually lazy,” said state Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, who earlier this year invited national security experts to the state Capitol to testify at a hearing on the risks of climate change. “My question is: What are people scared of? Are they scared of the truth?”
Asked about the role of climate change in the floods, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz declined to weigh in Wednesday. “At a time of tragedy, I think it’s wrong to try to politicize a natural disaster,” the Republican presidential candidate said during a news conference in San Marcos after surveying damage.
How does discussing scientific research on climate constitute “politicizing a natural disaster?”
Extreme weather events, and more of them, are among the most agreed-upon effects of global warming in all the scientific literature on the subject, said Nielsen-Gammon, who is also a professor at Texas A&M University. Part of the explanation is that ocean temperatures are rising, bringing more moist air into the state that can create storm systems. In the past century, precipitation in Texas is up 7 to 10 percent, and the frequency of two-day heavy rainfall spells has nearly doubled.
The scientific consensus is much stronger on this point than on whether climate change can directly cause droughts. Nielsen-Gammon’s own research has shown that warmer temperatures due to global warming did make the drought in Texas measurably worse than it otherwise would have been.
But for the last several years, legislation calling for climate-change studies has not succeeded in the Capitol.
It’s a pretty long article, and very interesting. I hope you’ll go read the whole thing.
More on Ted Cruz’s remarks from CNN: Texas flooding puts Cruz, GOP in bind on climate change.
The Republican presidential contender has held two press conferences over the past two days to address the flooding and the government’s response. At each one, he was asked about the impact of climate change on natural disasters like the Texas flooding, and at each one, he dodged the question….
“I think the focus now is on caring for those who have lost their lives and lost their homes,” he said.
At least 31 people have died in Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma from the storm since this weekend, while another 11 remain missing in Texas. Cruz promised to do all he could to ensure that Texans get access to the resources they need during the recovery.
Wait a minute. Anti-government Ted Cruz wants the Feds to help Texas? Didn’t he oppose aid to survivors of Hurricane Sandy?
During a press conference on the deadly flooding in Texas, Cruz said, “The federal government’s role, once the Governor declares a disaster area and makes a request, I am confident that the Texas congressional delegation, Sen. Cornyn and I, and the members of Congress both Republicans and Democrats will stand united as Texans in support of the federal government fulfilling its statutory obligations, and stepping in to respond to this natural disaster.
Sen. Cruz sang a completely different tune in 2013 when he called federal aid for the victims of Hurricane Sandy wasteful:
Two-thirds of this spending is not remotely “emergency”; the Congressional Budget Office estimates that only 30% of the authorized funds would be spent in the next 20 months, and over a billion dollars will be spent as late as 2021.
This bill is symptomatic of a larger problem in Washington – an addiction to spending money we do not have. The United States Senate should not be in the business of exploiting victims of natural disasters to fund pork projects that further expand our debt.
Back to the CNN article for more Cruz climate change philosophy:
“It used to be [that] it is accepted scientific wisdom the Earth is flat, and this heretic named Galileo was branded a denier,” he said in an interview with the Texas Tribune.
Cruz also argued that “global warming alarmists” aren’t basing their arguments on facts, because “the satellite data demonstrate that there has been no significant warming whatsoever for 17 years.”
Oh really? The point of the article is that Cruz and other Republicans may be leaning toward more moderate attitudes toward climate change research. I’ll believe that when I see it.
More interesting recent articles on climate change:
Dallas Morning News: Exxon CEO holds line on climate change at annual meeting.
Mother Jones Exclusive: The CIA Is Shuttering a Secretive Climate Research Program.
In other news . . .
Bobby Jindal got some attention in Politico for attacking another member of the GOP clown car: Bobby Jindal slams Rand Paul as unfit to be commander in chief.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal lashed out at Sen. Rand Paul for his recent comments about the Islamic State, saying the presidential contender is unfit to be commander in chief and is taking the “weakest, most liberal Democrat position” when it comes to fighting the militant group.
Using unusually harsh rhetoric and an unusual forum, Jindal posted a statement condemning Paul on Wednesday on his “office of the governor” website.
Story Continued Below
“This is a perfect example of why Senator Paul is unsuited to be Commander-in-Chief,” Jindal said. “We have men and women in the military who are in the field trying to fight ISIS right now, and Senator Paul is taking the weakest, most liberal Democrat position. It’s one thing for Senator Paul to take an outlandish position as a Senator at Washington cocktail parties, but being Commander-in-Chief is an entirely different job. We should all be clear that evil and Radical Islam are at fault for the rise of ISIS, and people like President Obama and Hillary Clinton exacerbate it.”
The statement from Jindal, who is also a likely GOP presidential contender, came after the Kentucky Republican suggested Wednesday morning that hawkish members of his party were to blame for the rise of the Islamic State, also called ISIL or ISIS.
Paul said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that “ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately and most of those arms were snatched up by ISIS.”
In Touch Weekly has more breaking Duggar news.
In 2006, Jim Bob told Springdale police that he took Josh to see State Trooper Joseph Hutchens and that Josh “admitted to Hutchens what [Josh, redacted] had done,” according to the police report, obtained exclusively by In Touch through the Freedom of Information Act. At this point, there were five victims and multiple molestations by Josh….
Hutchens is serving 56 years in prison for child pornography and admits his “reputation is shot.” He was interviewed by a representative of a local law firm at In Touch‘s request and promised nothing in return for his recollections.
Hutchens’ failure to report the abuse caused the police to halt their 2006 investigation because the statute of limitations ran out.
In the new interview from prison, Hutchens said he was told by Jim Bob and Josh that “Josh had inappropriately touched [redacted] during the time she was asleep. He said he touched her through her clothing and he said it only happened one time.”
He said the fact that it was a one-time incident influenced his decision not to report it. “I did what I thought was right and obviously it wasn’t,” he says. “If I had to do it over again, I would have told him immediately I am going to call the hotline and contacted the trooper that worked those cases and have a full report made. I thought I could handle it myself.
The Duggar family is so corrupt that I expect there could be new revelations about them for months to come.
Here’s a little tidbit that Allie Jones of Gawker Defamer found: Duggar Dad’s Political Platform: Incest Should Be Punishable by Death.
[W]hat does Jim Bob think of his own response to his son’s familial abuse? In a brief statement to People, Jim Bob and Michelle said last week that “that dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before.” Maybe that’s because Jim Bob publicly stated during his 2002 campaign for U.S. Senate that he thinks incest should be punishable by death.
Jim Bob’s platform on his campaign website—preserved via web cache—states that he believes “rape and incest represent heinous crimes and as such should be treated as capital crimes.” Jim Bob offered this belief to explain his position on abortion (only acceptable if both the mother and the baby were going to die anyway, of course)
See the screen shot at the link.
Other stories worth checking out, links only
A story from Politico that will make you–if not Charles Pierce–want to drink antifreeze: Dems view Sanders as bigger threat than O’Malley.
Since O’Malley is no threat at all, how worried could Dems really be?
Ezra Klein pontificates at length about why the SCOTUS anti-Obamacare case is total B.S.: The New York Times blows a hole in the case against Obamacare.
I haven’t read this story from the NYT yet, but I’ll bet it’s hilarious: What George PatakiWould Need to Do to Win. One more clown for the clown car.
NYT reports Climate news from India: Indians Scramble for Heat Relief, but Many Must Still Work.
Washington Post: Breakthrough HIV study could change course of treatment for millions.
BBC News: ‘New species’ of ancient human found.
What stories are you following today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a tremendous Thursday!
Do you want ever wonder what the hell is going on with politicians today and how they can get away with this kind of shit to begin with in the first place?
That is a rhetorical question…but the setup is legit.
And away we go….
In pre-taped remarks to the Southern Republican Leadership Conference over the weekend, Senator Lindsey Graham says he knows Iran’s lying because he learned how to spot a liar in his parents’ pool room.
Graham, of course, kept the focus largely on politics, talking about his background, his belief in the greatness of America, his expected 2016 run, his foreign policy chops, and Hillary Clinton.
But it was when he talked about growing up that he made the connection between his time working at the pool hall and the current Iran nuclear negotiations:
“My family owned a restaurant, a pool room, and a liquor store. And everything I know about the Iranians I learned in the pool room. I ran the pool room when I was a kid and I met a lot of liars, and I know the Iranians are lying.”
As the comic image above states, “What the fuck is this bullshit?”
Then you have the other one, Walker…the Kochsucker favorite I guess, who says… about those forced ultrasounds he makes the women in his state take who are looking to get an abortion…yeah they should just shut up about that because you know, forced ultrasounds are “lovely” and “cool.”
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker defended a bill he signed that required women to undergo ultrasound examinations before seeking an abortion, saying the medically unnecessary procedures were a “lovely” and “cool thing.”
The likely Republican presidential candidate told conservative talk radio host Dana Loesch on Friday that the law, portions of which were struck down earlier this year by a federal judge, was misrepresented by a hostile media, reported Right Wing Watch.
“The media tried to make that sound like that was a crazy idea,” Walker said. “Most people I talked to, whether they’re pro-life or not, I find people all the time that pull out their iPhone and show me a picture of their grandkids’ ultrasound and how excited they are, so that’s a lovely thing. I think about my sons are 19 and 20, (and) we still have their first ultrasounds. It’s just a cool thing out there.”
Yes, there is nothing more lovelier than what basically can be described as a forced (uh, emphasis on forced for all those dumbass shitbags who don’t think the word rape is violent enough) rape on a woman by sticking a vaginal probe ultrasound stick up her v-hole to get a cool picture of a clump of “misogynist funded government up your uterus.”
…there are currently 10 candidates who are declared or all but certain to run, and another four who will probably run. But while the voters might find this an embarrassment of riches, for the party’s leaders and financiers, it looks like a recipe for trouble.
In a Saturday interview on the Larry Kudlow Show, a nationally syndicated radio broadcast, David Koch let it slip that the roughly$900 million that he and his brother, Charles, plan to lavish on the 2016 presidential race could find its way into the hands of more than one GOP contender.
“We are thinking of supporting several Republicans,” David Koch said, adding, “If we’re happy with the policies that these individuals are supporting, we’ll finance their campaigns.”
Koch said the brothers would begin writing checks to individual candidates in “the primary season, winter and next spring.”
Up until now, the Koch brothers hadn’t indicated that they’d be taking a side in the primaries. It almost seemed that they viewed that as the kind of thing amateurs like Sheldon Adelson do, throwing money at some candidate based on overly irrational personal feelings, while they keep focused on the real goal of getting a Republican — any Republican — into the White House. By saying they’re going to support several candidates in the primaries, the Kochs are pledging to accelerate the winnowing process, by which the race’s chaff can be sloughed off and the focus can stay on the serious contenders.
Don’t be fooled by the line about them supporting all the ones whose policies they’re happy with. That’s because there’s almost no disagreement among the candidates, at least on the issues the Kochs care about. All of them would like to see low taxes on the wealthy (most have even advocated a flat tax, a boon to people like the Kochs), a dramatic reduction in regulations that affect corporations and a rollback of the social safety net. Where the Kochs personally disagree with the candidates (as they may on some social issues or on immigration), they disagree with all the candidates, because the candidates’ positions are so similar.
Gawd, I hate those fuckers.
The rest of today’s links below are on the quick, because the Koch Brother’s have disgusted me so…
The Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to hear a case that will answer a long-contested question about a bedrock principle of the American political system: the meaning of “one person one vote.”
The court’s ruling, expected in 2016, could be immensely consequential. Should the court agree with the two Texas voters who brought the case, its ruling would shift political power from cities to rural areas, a move that would benefit Republicans.
I can’t believe this: Australia wants to scrap the tampon tax – Business News – Business – The Independent
Texas has been experiencing really bad weather for the past few days. From the Houston Chronicle:
Recovery teams were resuming the search early Tuesday for 12 members of two families who are missing after a rain-swollen river in Central Texas carried a vacation home off its foundation, slamming it into a bridge downstream.
The hunt for the missing picked up after a holiday weekend of terrible storms that dumped record rainfall on the Plains and Midwest, caused major flooding and spawned tornadoes and killed at least eight people in Oklahoma and Texas. More than 1,000 homes have been damaged or destroyed in Texas, and thousands of residents are displaced.
Authorities were also searching for victims and assessing damage just across the Texas-Mexico border in Ciudad Acuna, where a tornado Monday killed 13 people and left at least five unaccounted for.
More on the flooding in Houston from the Chronicle: Heavy rains flood freeways, close schools, delays bus service.
Houston motorists woke Tuesday morning to swamped freeways and closed roads as heavy thunderstorms raked the region overnight, making the morning commute dangerous and even impossible for most.
The 610 Loop as well as Katy, North and South freeways were underwater in spots throughout the area. Other major roads blocked by high water include Memorial Drive and Allen Parkway near downtown.
No injuries have been reported, but dozens of vehicles were stranded in high water throughout the city. In many cases, the water came up to to the driver’s side windows of the abandoned cars, Other vehicles are almost submerged.
Firefighters with the Houston Fire Department were dispatched to several water rescues throughout the city. Areas along Brays Bayou near the 610 Loop were particularly hard hit with several rescues during the early morning hours Tuesday. Memorial Drive and Allen Parkway are closed.
According to the National Weather Service homes were reportedly flooded in the Larchmont subdivision about six miles southwest of the city early Tuesday morning. Some homes in Rosenberg were threaetened as more than three feet of water rose in the Greenwood subdivision a few hours before dawn Tuesday.
See some amazing photos posted on Twitter at News.Mic: 17 Photos of the Devastating Floods That Hit Houston. More photos at ABC 13. The Weather Channel is providing live updates.
NBC News reports that other states could be affected by the storms: Houston, Texas, Hit by Unprecedented Flooding; Seven States At Risk.
Flash-flood watches and warnings were issued across seven states early Tuesday as an unprecedented downpour of torrential rain triggered “extremely dangerous and potentially life-threatening” conditions in Houston.
More than 30 million Americans were told to brace for dangerous thunderstorms — including flooding, hail and possible tornadoes — as meteorologists warned the weather that has centered on Texas and Oklahoma since Saturday could expand to other areas.
At least 12 people were still missing, eight people have been killed, and countless more evacuated amid the deluge that has inundated Texas and Oklahoma with record-breaking floods since Saturday.
In Houston, more than 80,000 people were without power and the flood waters closed roads including Interstate 10 and Interstate 45. Houston was among 24 counties where Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared a state of disaster on Monday.
I hope RalphB and his family are safe. Dakinikat could also be in the path of the damaging weather. New Orleans is expecting thunderstorms for the next few days.
In other news, there has been a shooting at a Walmart in Grand Forks, North Dakota–where the University of North Dakota is located. My Dad got his Masters degree there.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports: 2 fatally shot inside Grand Forks Wal-Mart; Air Force member involved.
The shooting occurred shortly before 1:05 a.m. in the supercenter store on 32nd Avenue, just east of Interstate 29, according to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI) near Grand Forks.
Grand Forks police said officers discovered “multiple victims” inside the store and one of them was taken to Altru Hospital in Grand Forks for injuries that are not considered life-threatening.
The AFOSI said there were three people involved and one was an airman. The base is about 20 miles west of the store.
Neither police nor Air Force personnel released details about whether the airman was the shooter or one of the victims. There is also no immediate information about what prompted the violence, but Deputy Police Chief Mike Ferguson added, “the Police Department does not believe there is any further on-going immediate public safety risk at this time.”
There isn’t a lot of information about the incident as yet. From the Fargo Forum:
In a press conference at the Grand Forks Police Department, Zimmel said there was no active shooting when officers arrived on scene.
Zimmel said at this time, police believe the shooter is among the dead. Only one person involved in the incident is believed to have had a gun, Zimmel said.
Police are still investigating the motive behind the shooting, whether it was targeted or random….
Andy Legg, who was in the store at the time, told a WDAZ reporter he heard “popping sounds” going off in the store and that he and a group of customers were herded to a section of the store by authorities. Legg said he and the group later exited the building passing a Walmart employee covered in blood. Legg says he’s not sure of the person’s condition but that it “didn’t look good.”
Shortly after 4 a.m., a police SWAT team, using a special robot, began searching a car in the parking lot.
Remember Charles C. “Chuck” Johnson, the right wing a-hole and twitter troll? His account has once again been suspended by Twitter after he threatened activist Deray Mckessen. From re/code:
Notorious Twitter troll Chuck Johnson was placed in time-out Sunday — at least temporarily — and it looks as though the company’s new policy on violent threats was the reason.
Twitter suspended Johnson, who has a long history of Internet trolling, for what appears to be a threat against civil rights activist DeRay McKesson. Johnson tweeted this morning asking people to donate money for “taking out” McKesson, who responded, saying that he took Johnson’s comments as a “serious threat.”
The account suspension is nothing new for Johnson. But what’s worth noting is that this appears to be an example of Twitter’s new policy on threats coming into play. The company changed the policy’s wording last month so that it no longer included phrases like “direct” and “specific.” Essentially, those qualifiers were limiting the types of tweets Twitter could act upon.
Not anymore. This looks like the kind of threat that may have slipped through the system a few months back. So this is good for Twitter, a company that has struggled mightily when dealing with bullying and threats.
A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment on Johnson’s suspension, so there’s no way of knowing how long he’ll be blocked from the service.
In a statement to Re/code, Johnson accused Twitter of “censorship.”
“I was speaking metaphorically about exposing DeRay in much the same way Slate was speaking metaphorically when they talked about ‘taking out’ a Supreme Court justice,” he wrote.
But in an interview with CNN on Monday, Mckesson said that Johnson should have known better.
“For someone who considers themselves a journalist, I firmly believe that he understands the power of his words,” Mckesson explained. “And his words are his words. ‘Take out’ functions in a certain way. And if I got on any media outlet and said something to the effect of ‘take out the police,’ nobody would think that I was talking about an exposé.”
“I was proud that Twitter took the action to move so quickly, and remember that racism doesn’t exist only in the extremes,” he continued. “It’s not just slavery and the n-word. It functions in these subtle ways too. He, again, knew very clearly what he was doing by using this language.”
And from Pando Daily’s David Holmes: Here’s the remarkable letter Chuck Johnson’s attorney sent to Twitter threatening legal action.
For at least the fourth time in his sad, shameful, misogynist, racist career, Twitter has suspended the rightwing blogger Chuck Johnson….
…Johnson is outraged over the suspension, tweeting under a new account @citizentrolling– which a few minutes prior to my writing this sentence has now also been suspended — that Twitter is guilty of “censorship” and writing that the company’s enforcement of its policies exhibits a clear political bias against rightwingers like himself.
“Twitter doesn’t seem to have a problem with people using their service to coordinate riots,” Johnson wrote. “But they do have a problem with the kind of journalism I do.”
I’m struggling to know where to begin in describing the lunacy of Johnson’s argument. Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t engage at all with Johnson who has failed to build a career through producing quality journalism or analysis and instead — in what must be an overwhelmingly sad discovery — has found that the only thing anyone will pay him for anymore is to spew hatred at the most vulnerable members of society, in particular rape victims. But his complaints raise some important misconceptions about Twitter, free speech, and who controls what can or can’t be said in the new digital content paradigm.
Now it appears that Johnson is threatening legal action against Twitter for loss of income that would otherwise be generated by his hateful tweets. Johnson emailed me the letter his attorneys sent to Twitter demanding the reinstatement of his accounts, attached in full below. What makes it so absurd is the notion that Twitter is somehow guilty of “censorship” or that the company owes him a living.
Read the letter at the Pando link.
Sigh . . . When will “journalists” finally figure out that Hillary Clinton is a separate person from her husband and there is no reason for her to feel bound by decisions Bill Clinton made back in the 1990s?
Melinda Henneberger at Bloomberg Politics: Will Hillary Clinton Run Against Her Husband’s Welfare Legacy? I’m not even going to quote from the article. It’s just a rehash of 20-year-old events. Get a clue, Melinda. Hillary is not Bill, and over the past 20 years there has been a lot of water under the bridge. Hillary is not bound by things she or her husband said and did in the distant past.
Some Duggar updates:
State Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs) told KSFM-TV that Kathy O’Kelley, chief of the Springdale police, had harmed Duggar’s sisters and other girls he admitted to fondling as they slept in 2002, when he was 14 years old.
“The law to protect minors’ identities is not a suggestion,” Hester said. “So sad to see the person charged with protecting the community being so reckless and irresponsible. I believe it is unavoidable that the Springdale police chief should be terminated. She has re-victimized these young ladies.”
I guess Hester hasn’t heard of the Freedom of Information Act.
“From every indication I have, the chief and city attorney reluctantly did what they had to do to comply with the state (freedom of information) law,” said Dough Sprouse, the Springdale Mayor.
Hester, sponsor of an Arkansas bill similar to Indiana’s anti-LGBT “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” wondered whether other sex abuse victims should worry that O’Kelley would publicize their identities.
Like he cares even an iota about abuse victims. Give me a break!
Days before news broke of Josh Duggar allegedly molesting five girls back when he was a teen, the 19 Kids and Counting star’s pregnant wife Anna Duggar shared a cryptic quote about forgiveness with her Instagram followers.
“The three most beautiful and liberating words in the English language are these,” the mother of three wrote on May 17, quoting pastor Lon Solomon on her page. “‘I forgive you.'” (Solomon, a senior pastor at a Virginia megachurch, is the author of a book titled Brokenness: How God Redeems Pain and Suffering.)
Well, she apparently knew all about Josh’s history and still decided to have children with him.
Finally, from TMZ: Josh Duggar Cracks Molestation Joke. Dating Family Is What We Do!
Back in 2008 — long before Duggar’s molestation past came to light — he made a quip during an episode of what was then called “17 Kids and Counting.”
Josh describes a double date scenario with his then-fiancée Anna … he ended up going with 2 of his siblings.
Josh explains, “We chose Jana and John David. We thought why not, have a double date … We are from Arkansas!”
He then broke out in laughter.
Not so funny now …
Not funny then either, IMHO.
So . . . what else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a terrific Tuesday!