I have no words today.
Thanks to Delphyne for this article at The Guardian: More savage than Caravaggio: the woman who took revenge in oil.
Two women are holding a man down on a bed. One presses her fist against his head, so he can’t raise it from the mattress, while her companion pins his torso in place. They are well-built with powerful arms but even so it takes their combined strength to keep their victim immobilised as one of them cuts through his throat with a gleaming sword. Blood spurts from deep red geysers as she saws. She won’t stop until his head is fully severed. Her victim’s eyes are wide open. He knows exactly what is happening to him.
The dying man is Holofernes, an enemy of the Israelites in the Old Testament, and the young woman beheading him is Judith, his divinely appointed assassin. Yet at the same time he is also an Italian painter called Agostino Tassi, while the woman with the sword is Artemisia Gentileschi, who painted this. It is, effectively, a self-portrait.
Two big, blood-drenched paintings of Judith and Holofernes by Gentileschi survive, one in the Capodimonte in Naples, the other in the Uffizi in Florence. They are almost identical except for small details – in Naples Judith’s dress is blue, in Florence yellow – as if this image was a nightmare she kept having, the final act to a tragedy endlessly replaying in her head.
“This is the ring you gave me and these are your promises!” yelled Gentileschi as she was tortured in a Rome courtroom in 1612. Ropes were wrapped around her fingers and pulled tight. The judge had advised moderate use of the sibille, as this torture was called, for she was after all 18. Across the court sat the man who had raped her. No one thought of torturing him. Defiantly, Gentileschi told him her thumbscrews were the wedding ring he’d promised. Again and again, she repeated that her testimony about the rape was reliable: “It is true, it is true, it is true, it is true.
Tassi was hired by Gentileschi’s father to give her painting lessons.
Tassi tricked his way into her room and started making unwanted offers of sex, she testified. “He then threw me on to the edge of the bed, pushing me with a hand on my breast, and he put a knee between my thighs to prevent me from closing them. Lifting my clothes, he placed a hand with a handkerchief on my mouth to keep me from screaming.”
She fought back. “I scratched his face,” she told the court, “and pulled his hair and, before he penetrated me again, I grasped his penis so tight that I even removed a piece of flesh.” But she couldn’t stop him. Afterwards, she rushed to a drawer and got out a knife. “I’d like to kill you with this knife because you have dishonoured me,” she shouted. He opened his coat and said: “Here I am.” Gentileschi threw the knife but he shielded himself. “Otherwise,” she said, “I might have killed him.”
Read the rest at The Guardian. It’s a story that still rings true today. Gentileschi’s rapist was found guilty but wasn’t punished, and she was tortured. It’s a story as old as time and as modern as today when a Senate dominated by old, white Republican will elevate an attempted rapist, sexual abuser, and right wing political activist to the highest court in the land.
Centuries after Gentileschi was tortured by the legal system of her day, women are still routinely raped, sexually abused, and even murdered in the name of male supremacy. And when they dare to speak about what was done to them, they are abused again by the “justice” system and betrayed by colluding women like Maine Senator Susan Collins.
What is wrong with these men, beginning with Donald Trump, pretender to the presidency? Because I’m feeling mean, I’m going to post this Twitter thread.
I’m not sure I agree with this analysis, but I have always seen Trump as effeminate. His vanity, his hair, his odd hand gestures, he’s so far from masculine. Is that why he hates and abuses women? Because he feels weak and inadequate? That’s what I suspect.
Here’s piece by Jaco at The St. Louis American: Brett Kavanaugh and Republican white maledom.
Like most 68-year-old white males, I’m disgusted that an ideologue and perjurer accused of sexual assault is about to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.
That sentence, of course is a lie. And the lie is in the first seven words. Most 68-year-old white males want Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court. The respected Quinnipiac University poll shows 48 percent of Americans polled oppose Kavanaugh, while 42 percent support him. But 59 percent of white men want Kavanaugh, along with 45 percent of white women.
African Americans oppose Kavanaugh by 81 percent, while Hispanics dislike him by a 65 percent margin. In fact, the poll finds Kavanaugh is unpopular among every demographic group except white people over age 50, where the majority support him. Not co-incidentally, white people over age 50 vote in huge numbers and control the big money donations to the GOP.
The entire Kavanaugh process has been one of the most blatant examples of minority rule since apartheid fell. Kavanaugh raged in self-pity during testimony. The White House limited the FBI “investigation” into sexual assault charges. Trump mocked Kavanaugh’s accuser. Majority Leader U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell sniffed that the GOP “won’t be intimidated” by sexual assault survivors. In every case, conservative white men snarled about how they, not Prof. Christine Blasey Ford or the rule of law, were the victims.
Charlie Cook, founder of the often-indispensable Cook Political Report, crunched the numbers and found that conservative Republican white males make up 18 percent of the American population. And yet they make up 100 percent of the GOP on the Senate Judiciary Committee, 100 percent of Republican leadership in the Senate, and 84 percent of the GOP Senate majority.
They’re determined to put a man with the judicial temperament of Bart Simpson on the bench for one simple reason. They want him as the fifth Supreme Court vote to erase every “liberal” decision of the last 60 years that has given expanded rights to blacks, Hispanics, women, gays, consumers, workers, and anyone else not part of conservative white maledom.
Click on the link to read the rest.
More recommended reads:
The New York Times Editorial Board: The High Court Brought Low. Don’t let Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh have the last word about American justice.
Michael Tomasky at The New York Times: The Supreme Court’s Legitimacy Crisis.
Dahlia Lithwick and Susan Matthews: Investigation at Yale Law School.
The New York Times: House Democrat Promises Kavanaugh Investigation if Party Wins Control.
The New Yorker: The Tears of Brett Kavanaugh.
That’s all I have for now. Please take care of yourselves this weekend.
Today beginning at 10AM, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a brief hearing in which one of the women who has accused SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, Christine Blasey Ford, will tell her story and Kavanaugh will respond by lying and obfuscating.
I can’t imagine anything useful could come out of the hearing, since each questioner will have only 5 minutes to address complex issues. At best, the spectacle of 11 white men hiding behind a woman prosecutor might lead to more public outrage against the GOP and their deeply flawed nominee. It’s not clear what how Democrats will handle the questioning; they’ve kept their plans close to the vest.
I wanted to get this post up early so we can follow the hearing and aftermath together. I hope people will join in. Here are some reads to check out today.
The Daily Beast: ‘Disaster’: Trumpworld Starting to Sweat Over Brett Kavanaugh’s Mounting Sexual Assault Allegations. Excerpt:
Going into this past weekend, the Trump White House was sounding self-assured about Kavanaugh’s prospects, with senior aides saying they felt he could weather the allegations and horrifically bad press. Since then, two other female accusers have come forward, and the swagger from Team Trump has been replaced with, at best, a shaken confidence.
Officials inside the White House, as well as outside advisers, told the The Daily Beast that mood has become less bullish. Senior aides fear delivering Trump a major failure and humiliation that he can—and likely will—pin on those around him and squeamish Republican lawmakers. There is palpable fear that the party’s base will turn on Republicans should the Kavanaugh nomination fail.
Top donors, meanwhile, have said that they will continue writing checks out of a growing fear that the party could lose the Senate in addition to the House this coming fall. But one major contributor warned that lawmakers had to show them that they had put up a sufficient fight to get Kavanaugh on to the Court or else the checks wouldn’t come….
At this point, Trump’s team and Kavanaugh’s camp are publicly maintaining calm and privately encouraging allies to do the same. On a Monday conference call with White House surrogates, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Trump, had insisted that the “president and this White House continue to stand strongly behind Judge Kavanaugh,” according to a person on the line. By Wednesday, a senior West Wing official said that the president’s posture remained unchanged.
But aides also acknowledge that Kavanaugh’s prospects were growing more endangered. “Thursday could be a disaster or it could be…a victory, we don’t know,” one aide said, referencing the planned testimony Kavanaugh and his accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford plan to give to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Yesterday during his deranged press conference, Trump seemed to suggest that he could decide to dump Kavanaugh. But he was all over the map in his embarrassing, manic performance. Todd Purdum summarizes Trump’s 81-minute rant at The Atlantic: President Trump’s Surreal News Conference Didn’t Do Kavanaugh Any Favors.
In more than 80 surreal minutes of what seemed less like a news conference than a public free-association session on a therapist’s couch, the president of the United States dismissed accusations of sexual misconduct against Judge Brett Kavanaugh as “all false to me,” then insisted he wanted to hear Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony because “I can be convinced of anything. Maybe she will say something.”
He portrayed Kavanaugh’s Democratic Senate opponents as the organizers of a “big, fat con job,” then acknowledged without missing a beat that he would withdraw Kavanaugh’s nomination “if I thought he was guilty of something like this, sure.” He praised Kavanaugh as “one of the highest-quality people that I have ever met,” then suggested that the judge’s life was not so spotless, allowing that even George Washington may have had “a couple of things in his past.” [….]
Who can say whether Trump’s apparently unbridled, even unhinged, display of id amounted to just that? Or to a free-form, last-ditch effort to defend the nomination on the eve of crucial testimony from Ford and Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday? Or to a calculated trial balloon for withdrawing it (“I could pick a woman, and she could have charges made from many years ago also,” he said at one point)? Or to some combination of all of the above? The assessment of Nicolle Wallace, the former George W. Bush and John McCain aide, was succinct, and indisputable.
“I suspect,” she tweeted, “that the 25th Amendment might be discussed more widely if there were daily press conferences.”
Yesterday, Morning Consult released a news poll on the Kavanaugh nomination: Republican Women Lose Faith in Kavanaugh — and Trump — After Week of Accusations.
Public support for Judge Brett Kavanaugh to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat has dropped to its lowest point since President Donald Trump nominated him in July, driven in large part by a sector of the president’s base: Republican women.
A new Morning Consult/Politico poll, conducted Sept. 20-23, found support for Kavanaugh’s confirmation is underwater among registered voters for the first time since his nomination, with 37 percent opposing the Senate confirming him and 34 percent supporting it.
The new finding marks a 5-percentage-point drop in net support since a poll conducted last week, after Christine Blasey Ford detailed her allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her while the two were in high school, a charge he has repeatedly denied.
Read more at the link above.
Important reads from women writers:
Lili Loofbourow at Slate: Brett Kavanaugh and the Cruelty of Male Bonding.
For what it’s worth, and absent evidence or allegations to the contrary, I believe Brett Kavanaugh’s claim that he was a virgin through his teens. I believe it in part because it squares with some of the oddities I’ve had a hard time understanding about his alleged behavior: namely, that both allegations are strikingly different from other high-profile stories the past year, most of which feature a man and a woman alone. And yet both the Kavanaugh accusations share certain features: There is no penetrative sex, there are always male onlookers, and, most importantly, there’s laughter. In each case the other men—not the woman—seem to be Kavanaugh’s true intended audience. In each story, the cruel and bizarre act the woman describes—restraining Christine Blasey Ford and attempting to remove her clothes in her allegation, and in Deborah Ramirez’s, putting his penis in front of her face—seems to have been done in the clumsy and even manic pursuit of male approval. Even Kavanaugh’s now-notorious yearbook page, with its references to the “100 kegs or bust” and the like, seems less like an honest reflection of a fun guy than a representation of a try-hard willing to say or do anything as long as his bros think he’s cool. In other words: The awful things Kavanaugh allegedly did only imperfectly correlate to the familiar frame of sexual desire run amok; they appear to more easily fit into a different category—a toxic homosociality—that involves males wooing other males over the comedy of being cruel to women.
In both these accounts, Kavanaugh is laughing as he does something to a woman that disturbs or traumatizes her. Ford wrote in her letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, “Kavanaugh was on top of me while laughing with [Mark] Judge, who periodically jumped onto Kavanaugh. They both laughed as Kavanaugh tried to disrobe me in their highly inebriated state. With Kavanaugh’s hand over my mouth, I feared he may inadvertently kill me.”
“Brett was laughing,” Ramirez says in her account to the New Yorker. “I can still see his face, and his hips coming forward, like when you pull up your pants.” She recalled another male student shouting about the incident. “Somebody yelled down the hall, ‘Brett Kavanaugh just put his penis in Debbie’s face,’ ” she said.
If these allegations are true, one of the more shocking things about them is the extent to which the woman being mistreated exists in a room where the men are performing for each other—using the woman to firm up their own bond.
Please read the whole thing if you haven’t already.
Alexandra Lescaze, also at Slate: We Didn’t Call It Rape. Lescase writes that the allegations against Kavanaugh are very familiar to her as a graduate of a DC-area private school.
I wish I were surprised. A week ago Sunday when Ford first shed her anonymity, detailing her sexual assault allegation against Kavanaugh to the Washington Post, I wrote a note in the Facebook alumni group of my high school, National Cathedral School. I told my 1988 classmates that Ford’s story was bringing back disturbing high school memories. Apparently, I was not alone. A lot of women now in their 40s and 50s, who went to these single-sex D.C. prep schools in the 1980s, have been reaching out to each other in fraught emails and chats over the past week. Not only did the Holton-Arms alumnae start a petition in support of Ford, their fellow alum; there’s also one for anyone to sign who survived that toxic time and place.
I don’t personally know Ford now, and I didn’t know her in high school. But as the Holton women wrote, what Ford is alleging is “all too consistent with what we heard and lived while attending Holton. Many of us are survivors ourselves.” And what Elizabeth Rasor alleges Mark Judge told her is not foreign to me, either. Whether and how the nation comes to hear more about these specific stories, they have evoked a collective scream.
A large part of my high school experience were the parties at cavernous houses with multiple bedrooms, huge dark basements with enormous sofas and yards, and lots and lots of beer. No parents—thinking back on it now, as a parent myself—were ever around. We traveled in groups and knew never to leave a friend alone at a party, but there was so much drinking that we sometimes lost track of each other. It could be difficult to know where your friends were and—if they were in a room with a boy—what was going on in there.
Every June, we had Beach Week—a tradition also described in a Washington Post piece about Ford—in which teenagers actually rent houses to party at the beach, something I still don’t quite comprehend. I distinctly remember being at a Beach Week party with my then-boyfriend when it dawned on us that there was a drunk girl in a room down the hall, and boys were “lining up” to go in there and, presumably, have their way with her. We didn’t know for sure, but my boyfriend and my friend’s boyfriend went to interrupt it and sent her on her way down the stairs. All I remember about her is that she was in the class above us and had dark hair. My friend has told me she remembers boys saying, “I’m next,” which was why our boyfriends went to stop it.
More to check out, links only:
Emily Jane Fox at The Atlantic: “I Was Ashamed”: After Ford’s Accusation, Holton-Arms Alumnae Wrestle With Their Own Truths—Together.
Jessica Valenti: How Very Bad Men Get Away With Rape. “It takes one person to commit a rape, but a village to let them get away with it over and over.”
Kate Manne at The New York Times: Brett Kavanaugh and America’s ‘Himpathy’ Reckoning.
If you watch the hearing, I hope you’ll share your reactions in the comment thread below.
The moron is over in Switzerland making a fool of himself. I’m sick of reading and writing about him, so I’m dedicating this post to the brave women who brought down sexual abuser Larry Nassar and his enablers. (It will just be a link dump, because I’m still sick. I got an antibiotic yesterday, so I hope that will clear up my sinus infection.)
After a remarkable hearing that featured gut-wrenching statements from 156 of his accusers and an apology that the judge said rang hollow, former Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced Wednesday to 40 to 175 years in prison for molesting young girls under the guise of treatment.
“You do not deserve to walk outside of a prison ever again,” Judge Rosemarie Aquilina said in the Ingham County, Michigan, courtroom where Nassar was forced to listen to victims for seven days before learning his fate.
“I just signed your death warrant,” she added.
Nassar, 54, agreed to a minimum 40-year sentence when he pleaded guiltylast year to seven counts of first-degree criminal sexual misconduct in Ingham County. He still faces sentencing in Eaton County for three more counts, and he’s already been sentenced to 60 years in federal prison for possession of child pornography….
Before the sentence was handed down, Nassar was allowed to speak. Turning to the victims sitting behind him, he tearfully said their statements had shaken him to the core.
“What I am feeling pales in comparison to [your] pain, trauma and emotional destruction,” he said. “There are no words to describe the depth and breadth of how sorry I am for what has occurred. An acceptable apology to all of you is impossible to write or convey.
“I will carry your words with me for the rest of my days.”
The judge took out a six-page letter he sent the court last week in which he insisted what he had done to the victims “was medical not sexual,” that he was a “good doctor” and the victim of a media frenzy, and that prosecutors had pressured him to to admit to things he had not done.
He complained that his patients had turned on him. “‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,'” the judge read aloud, her voice full of scorn.
She asked him, “Would you like to withdraw your plea?”
“No, your honor,” he said.
“Because you’re guilty aren’t you?” she pressed.
“I accept my plea,” he said.
Aquilina said she simply didn’t believe that Nassar was owning up to what he pleaded to: penetrating minors with ungloved hands for his own sexual pleasure.
“I wouldn’t send my dogs to you, sir,” she said.
Read excerpts from Nassar’s letter at the Washington Post: Here are the Larry Nassar comments that drew gasps in the courtroom. Prepare to be disgusted.
Read excerpts from the victim statements at The Cut: The Most Powerful Testimony From Ex-USA Gymnastics Doctor Larry Nassar Hearing. Excerpt:
Kyle Stephens, January 16
Little girls don’t stay little forever. They grow into strong women that return to destroy your world.
Stephens has said she was first molested by Nassar, a family friend, when she was only six. She is the only accuser who was not a patient of Nassar’s. When she was 12, she finally told her parents about the doctors’ behavior, but they didn’t believe her.
Olivia Cowan, January 16
Today, I am a mother, a wife, a daughter, a friend that is struggling each day to find peace and joy in all the things that once made me happy.
Cowan, a former gymnast at MSU, said she suffers from PTSD, and is scared to send her two little girls to birthday parties or sleepovers. She also had sharp criticism for MSU and USA gymnastics, and said that if officials in the two organizations had taken the reports about Nassar seriously, “they would have saved me and all these other women standing before us today.”
Maggie Nichols, January 17
Nichols was the first person to report Nassar’s sexual abuse to USA Gymnastics back in 2015. Her statement was read by her mother, Gina, who at one point turned to Kerry Perry, the CEO of USA Gymnastics and said “Shame on MSU, USAG, and the USOC.”
Stephanie Robinson, January 17
I came to the stand as a victim, and I leave as a victor.
Robinson, who is only 17, initially wanted to remain anonymous. But on Wednesday, she walked up to the stand with her father, and faced her abuser, who she said she had once looked up to, and job shadowed for a day.
McKayla Maroney, January 18
As it turns out, much to my demise, Dr. Nassar was not a doctor, he in fact is, was, and forever shall be, a child molester, and a monster of a human being. End of story! He abused my trust, he abused my body, and he left scars on my psyche that may never go away.
Read more statements at The Call: More than 150 women testified at Larry Nassar’s sentencing. Read what they had to say.
Retired gymnast Mattie Larson said she once tried to give herself a concussion to avoid Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team doctor who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting scores of female athletes.
In an interview today on “Good Morning America,” Larson said she was about 15 or 16 at the time when she pretended to slip and fall in her family’s bathroom. She splashed water on the floor and purposely slammed her head in a desperate attempt to avoid being sent back to Karolyi Ranch in Huntsville, Texas, a national training site for U.S. Olympic gymnasts where Nassar allegedly preyed on his victims.
“I was crying, panicking, didn’t want to go. I was taking a bath. It wasn’t even a hard decision in my mind. I just turned on survival mode,” Larson told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos. “I banged my head as hard as I could to make sure that I got a bump and to make sure that my parents heard the bang.”
When asked why she didn’t seek help instead, Larson said, “It wasn’t an option for me. I didn’t know I could. I didn’t have a voice.”
Needham native and Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman is continuing her call for an independent investigation of U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics related to the handling of sexual abuse allegations against sports doctor Larry Nassar.
“What’s it going to take for you to do the right thing?” the three-time gold medalist asked the athletic organizations on Twitter.
Raisman posted her comments in response to a Monday statement from USOC CEO Scott Blackmun on the resignations of three USA Gymnastics board members in the wake of the Nassar abuse case.
“For the past week, survivors came forward to courageously to face a perpetrator of evil and to share their painful stories,” the Needham native wrote, sharing her “thoughts” on the CEO’s statement. “Many of them, myself included, claim the USOC is also at fault. Was the USOC there to ‘focus on supporting the brave survivors’? No. Did they issue a statement then? Crickets… .”
Raisman accused the USOC of “shamelessly taking credit” for the USAG resignations, “as though they’re addressing this problem.”
Lou Anna Simon resigned as president of Michigan State University on Wednesday evening just hours after former MSU athletic trainer Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in jail for sexually assaulting former gymnasts in his care.
Pressure had increased on Simon to step down over the length of Nassar’s sentencing hearing, which included a week of testimonials from Nassar’s victims. More than 150 women alleged assault at the hands of Nassar. Many of those who spoke during sentencing were critical of Simon and the administration at Michigan State.
“As tragedies are politicized, blame is inevitable,” Simon said in her resignation letter. “As president, it is only natural that I am the focus of this anger. I understand, and that is why I have limited my personal statements. Throughout my career, I have worked very hard to put Team MSU first….
A number of the women assaulted by Nassar spoke following his conviction Wednesday, criticizing MSU and its leadership in a statement, saying, “MSU and its administrators could have prevented the Nassar scandal if they had simply followed Title IX and the mandatory reporting laws. They ignored complaints of his misconduct going back to 1997. When they finally conducted a Title IX investigation of Nassar in 2014, they botched it and allowed him to continue allegedly molesting dozens of women and girls for two more years, including Team USA gymnasts.”
Detroit News: What MSU knew: 14 were warned of Nassar abuse.
Reports of sexual misconduct by Dr. Larry Nassar reached at least 14 Michigan State University representatives in the two decades before his arrest, with no fewer than eight women reporting his actions, a Detroit News investigation has found.
Among those notified was MSU President Lou Anna Simon, who was informed in 2014 that a Title IX complaint and a police report had been filed against an unnamed physician, she told The News on Wednesday.
“I was informed that a sports medicine doctor was under investigation,” said Simon, who made the brief comments after appearing in court Wednesday to observe a sentencing hearing for Nassar. “I told people to play it straight up, and I did not receive a copy of the report. That’s the truth.”
Among the others who were aware of alleged abuse were athletic trainers, assistant coaches, a university police detective and an official who is now MSU’s assistant general counsel, according to university records and accounts of victims who spoke to The News. We recommend residential treatment programs for troubled youth when we encounter these kinds of problems.
Collectively, the accounts show MSU missed multiple opportunities over two decades to stop Nassar, a graduate of its osteopathic medical school who became a renowned doctor but went on to molest scores of girls and women under the guise of treating them for pain.
Charles Pierce at Sports Illustrated: Burn It All Down: It’s Time For Every Last Coward Who Enabled Larry Nassar To Pay For Their Sins.
Burn it all down. That is the calm and reasoned conclusion to which I have come as one horror story after another unspooled in the courtroom. Nobody employed in the upper echelons at USA Gymnastics, or at the United States Olympic Committee, or at Michigan State University should still have a job. If accessorial or conspiracy charges plausibly can be lodged against those people, they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Those people should come out of civil courts wearing barrels. Their descendants should be answering motions in the 22nd Century. In fact, I can argue convincingly that none of those three institutions should continue to exist in its current form. USA Gymnastics and the USOC should lose their non-profit status forthwith. Michigan State should lose its status within the NCAA for at least five years. American gymnastics is no longer a sport. It’s a conspiracy of pedophiles and their enablers.
Where are the other coaches in East Lansing? Where is Tom Izzo, who makes four million bucks a year to coach basketball? Where is Mark Dantonio, who makes just about as much to coach football? Larry Nassar worked for the same athletic department as they do….
Both Izzo and Dantonio went out of their way to support MSU president Lou Ann Simon, who probably should be transported to the apartment in Rome recently vacated by the late Bernard Cardinal Law. Nice to know that these two highly paid public employees know who the real victim is. And the school’s gymnastics coach tried to coerce her athletes into signing a card to support Nassar when the first charges began to come down. This is unfathomable to me. I believe it also would be unfathomable to Vlad the Impaler.
Is there anything about the modern Olympic Games that isn’t corrupt? The people who run them make up a claque of international bagmen, shaking down whole countries and bankrupting cities as though the entire world was their goodie bag. There are drugs and bribery, and there was Sochi, which was a monument to both of them. And now there’s this incredible crime spree that took place right under the noses of the Olympic officials. Back in the day, East Germany had its steroid-peddling doctors. The U.S.A. had Larry Nassar. Two-tie, all tie.
NBC should refuse to pay a dime toward its rights fees until everyone involved in this catastrophe is unemployed. If they so choose, American gymnasts should be allowed to compete in 2020 under the Olympic flag or, perhaps, under the flags of the nations from which their parents emigrated. Their country failed them as surely as did the sporting organizations that purport to represent it. No punishment is too harsh for the inhabitants of this universe of ghouls and gargoyles to which these brave young women were condemned. Burn it all down. Salt the earth so it never rises again.
There’s much more powerful stuff from Pierce at SI. I’ll add a few more links in the comment thread.
What else is happening? What stories are you following?
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.”
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!