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Mid-week Update: Scared little boys playing soldier

Of course, they are irony-impaired, so they don’t get it…
Ditto

It’s been a while since I did a post using a bunch of the memes, cartoons, and similar graphics that have been accumulating on my hard disk without finding their way into a blog post.

I also have a few stories that I don’t want to wait until Friday to comment on.

Ed Buck Guilty of All Charges Against Him, Will Likely Die in Prison This guy got away with preying on homeless men for far too long. The short version: rich white bastard who donated lots of money to local elected officials over the years, had a fetish about watching black men take a lot of drugs until they passed out, then he fucked them. Two that we know of died in his apartment, and based on the videos he took (and assuming that he was doing it for years before recording it became so easy), he’s probably responsible for a lot more. Anyway, yeah, I hope he rots in prison.

Metro Atlanta spa shooter agrees to guilty plea deal in Cherokee County shooting, gets life without the possibility of parole This is only the first case. He faces more charges in another county. If you don’t recall, this is the idiot who shot up some day spas because looking at asian women made his dick hard, and he’d been taught by his fundamentalist evangelical church that being horny was a sin worse than murder. So he murdered a bunch of strangers. Again, I hope he rots in prison and dies behind bars.

"Trump Man" Guilty In Serial Pooping Spree – Ohioan, 70, targeted gay neighbors for ten years Besides the fact that he was only sentenced toe 20 days and to write a letter of apology, his letter is obviously a big lie. Why is that? Well, he insists in the letter that he didn’t target these neighbors for harassment because they were gay. No, it was because they were Biden supporters and he’s a "Trump Man." Other than the little fact that Biden only became the Democratic nominee a year ago, and Trump wasn’t running president until a bit over five years ago — but this guy has been doing this to his neighbors for at least 10 years. Long before he could have become a Trump man. He’s a liar and a homophobe, and I wish the judge would hold him in contempt for the letter…

That’s enough for those sorts. Let’s close with:

Exactly!

Again with the pastors sexually abusing people under their care

“If kids got rapped at Denny’s as much as they get raped at church, it would be illegal to take your kids to Denny’s.” –Dan Savage

I will be working on the next Friday Five tonight, and skimming through my news bookmarks I realized that there has been several of these stories in the news lately, and I’d rather not make a whole category for them tomorrow.

I suppose giving them their own post isn’t much better, but since I’m putting the topic of pastors committing sexual abuse in the title, I hope people who don’t feel like getting any of this imagery in their heads can skip this post and tomorrow read more general news and such.

So:

Former Maryland Youth Pastor Don Martin Charged In 30-Year-Old Rape, Police Search For Other Victims He was a youth pastor at the time of the assault, and the victim was underage. They bury that in the story. I’m leaving the "former" in the headline here, but want to note that at the time of his arrest while he was no longer a youth pastor, he was still an active pastor.

New Albany assistant youth pastor arrested on child pornography charges I took the word "former" out of this headline because he wasn’t fired from his position as a youth pastor until after he was arrested. I really wish that news outlets would stop putting the word "former" in the headline in those situations. I will say that I’m happy the church at least acted this quickly. It is more often the case that the church refuses to believe the pastor is guilty and don’t fire him until the legal case moves forward past arresting and charging.

National Guard chaplain, youth pastor among 18 arrested on human trafficking charges I didn’t have to remove any words from this headline. This was actually a sting. Law enforcement placed an ad about having sex with a 16-year-old, and these 18 men answered the ad, got directions to the location, and arrived each expecting to have sex with a minor. I suspect that more charges may be applied if any victims of molestation come forward.

Florida youth pastor arrested for 3rd time; accused of hiding camera in church bathroom Hidden cameras in church bathrooms. One of them specifically in the boys’ bathroom of the youth hall.

Vernon minister arrested for sexual assault of 15-year-old – Cops Say TX Pastor Charged Church For Motel Room Where He Smoked Meth, Had Sex With Underage Girl I’m not sure how to respond to this tidbit: "The girl told police they continued to meet at the church for counseling and he continued to offer her methamphetamine." That’s a very unusual counseling method…

Florida Megachurch Pastor Charged With Molestation- SBC megachurch ‘shocked’ ex-pastor arrested, accused of grooming, molesting 12-y-o girl Note that this is a different Florida pastor than the one arrested for planting cameras and recording people using the restroom. Anyone, this guy started sexually abusing the girl when she was twelve, and continue to do so for five years.

The next story is from March, but it illustrates a point I made above and have mentioned many times before: Catholic Church Opposes Colorado Bill That Lifts Time Limit On Lawsuits Against Accused Child Molesters

Lots of states have a statute of limitations on child sexual assault (many also have statutes of limitations on rape of adults), which just makes no sense. Adult sexual assault victims are reluctant to come forward in part because statistically they are very unlikely to be believed when they do, but also because society conditions us to blame the victim in such situation. Multiply that by at least 1000 for children. The kids are often groomed by the abuser to believe that they deserve what has happened to them, and to believe they will be punished by family, their church, and so forth if anyone finds out.

So most of these cases wouldn’t come to light until years later. For example, when we learned that former Republican Congressman Dennis Hastert had molested numerous teen-age boys back in the days he was a high school wrestling coach, he couldn’t be charged with any of those crimes. What he was charged with was violating financial laws as he sought to pay-off some of his former victims to keep them from talking.

One of the main reasons we have statutes of limitation of child sex abuse is that organizations such as the Catholic Church have lobbied for them. And then they lobby against appealing them. Gee, I wonder why?

Why Coming Out and Being Out Matters, or, Homophobes react to Carl Nassib’s coming out

Las Vegas Raiders Defensive End, Carl Nassib, becomes the first queer NFL
play to come out while he is still active in the league.

Carl Nassib—former All-America football player for Penn State, who has since played in the NFL on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Cleveland Browns, and currently the Las Vegas Raiders—came out as gay earlier this week in a video in which he also announced he had made a large donation to the Trevor Project, and explained why people ought to also donate to the largest non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of suicide among LGBTQ youth.

Members of his own team and leaders within the National Football League management immediately chimed in with messages of support and congratulations. The internet erupted with other people reacting with encouragement—given that other gay NFL players have never felt it was safe to come out, and the only gay player who was out before he was drafted was not met with anything that could be described as a welcoming attitude from the league just seven years ago.

So it was a bit of a surprise that the league seemed to be reacting supportively.

Not everyone reacted quite so well: While NFL player Carl Nassib comes out, homophobes go overboard pretending that they don’t care.

All of those homophobes have been screaming that they don’t care, and then making the angry bad attempts at sexual insults. Coincidentally, on one of my other blogs, another homophobe sent me some angry messages in response to my posting of several Pride Month images. The phrase, “No one f—ing cares!” was repeated several times in those messages, too.

First, anyone who angrily yells or posts a comment asserting that “No one cares” when a queer person expresses anything about their lives, has just admitted that they care entirely way too much. They have also admitted that they are hateful bigots who lose their temper any time they are reminded that not everyone is straight.

Nassib responded to the people those (disingenuous) questions asking why he has to make an announcement. “Studies have shown that all it takes is one accepting adult to decrease the risk of an LGBTQ kid attempting suicide by 40%. Whether you’re a friend, a parent, a coach, or a teammate — you can be that person.”

One of the first studies to show that was published by the George H.W. Bush administration. Bush tasked the National Institutes of Health with determining how to reduce teen suicide, and the conclusion was that the most teen suicides would be if parents were encouraged to tell their children that they would still love and accept them if they were gay.

This is one of the reasons I say every year around National Coming Out Day and during Pride Month that queer adults should be out. It makes your life better not to constantly hiding a secret and fearing discovering, but it also makes it more likely that younger queer people will live—period.

So, I’m happy for Nassib. Even if it does mean that I have to reinstate the search on my DVR to record Raiders games, again.

Las Vegas Raiders Defensive End, Carl Nassib, patiently explaining why it’s important for queer adults to come out.
Archive photo: Penn State defensive lineman Carl Nassib runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine, Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)

The Vaccine is Free – Let people know!


This story is from March, but apparently it is still believed to be an issue: Nearly 7 million Americans might not get a COVID-19 vaccine because they don’t know it’s free

In another story I read (and now I can’t find it), some people still don’t believe it’s free specifically because certain pharmacy companies are saying, "Free with insurance." But that isn’t exactly the truth. By law in the U.S. no one is allowed to charge anyone for the vaccine. The government is paying for the vaccine. Unfortunately, while the same law says that they are not allowed to even charge patients any fee to cover the administration or other costs of delivering the vaccine, the law does allow them to charge your insurance a fee to cover the administering process.

But only if you have insurance.

They are legally barred from charging you anything for the vaccine.

I wish that the law had barred them from charging the insurance companies, too. Not to protect those for-profit companies, but because studies have shown that, for instance, if a municipality or county adopts a policy of trying to recovery ambulance costs from insurance companies while allowing the uninsured to get ambulance service free, people in critical health situations try to get themselves to an emergency room because they believe they will be hit with a very large bill if they take an ambulance.

Anyway, get the word out! Places providing vaccine shots are legal barred from charging you for the vaccine or any administrative fees related to getting the shot.

Get your shot!

Happy Birthday, Dr. Jill!


In their timezone it’s already past midnight, but I am really happy that we have a First Lady who I’m not ashamed of, so: Happy 7-0 To Dr. Jill Biden, The Best First Lady Since Michelle Obama!

As often happens, the Wonkette captured my thoughts perfectly!

Weekend Update 5/1/2021: Astronauts, Unhinged pundits, Crazed substitute teachers, and how I accidentally quit smoking 26 years ago

Good speed, Michael Collins

Time for a post where I either talk about news that broke after I composed this week’s Friday Five or new developments in stories linked previously, or something I want to say about a story linked previously.

I posted two different stories about the death of Apollo 11 Command Module Pilot, Michael Collins, already. When Apollo 11 became the first human mission to land on the moon, I was an eight-year-old science and sci fi geek living in the central Rockies region of the U.S. and I was glued to every news cast about it. Yesterday I find this re-posted story on NPR that includes a 1988 interview with Collins which I found really interesting: ‘Fresh Air’ Remembers Apollo 11 Astronaut Michael Collins

Moving on…

You may have seen the video or pictures of this sweet moment that were being shared on social media Thursday and Friday: Joe Stops to Pick Flower for Jill Biden on Their Way to Ga. Rally and to Visit Jimmy and Rosalynn Carte – While en route to Georgia, the president shared a brief moment with his wife, stopping to pick her a dandelion before they boarded Marine One

While all of us normal humans saw a man plucking a flower from the lawn to hand to his wife, a gesture that men who are in love with their wives have been known to do spontaneously for centuries, the people at Fox and Newsmax saw something else. And while this headline uses the work ‘mock’ I think a better description is that they came unhinged at the sight: Fox & Newsmax Hosts Mock Joe Biden’s ‘Sweet’ Dandelion Moment with Jill — One Claims it Was ‘Planted’

One of the so-called pundits claimed that Joe had murdered the flower because he plucked it "before it had bloomed." And how does he know that it was before it had bloomed? Why, because it was in that downy stage where one can blow on it and send its seeds flying. In case you don’t know how flowers work (which clearly this guy doesn’t) the downy seed stage happens long after the flower blooms. The whole point of that downy seed stage is to spread the seeds that have been created by the flower blooming and getting pollinated.

But then the unhinged Fox host goes on to claim that blowing those seeds causes other people to get asthma. Um, no, again, that isn’t how asthma works nor is it the seeds that are even the issue. Many asthma sufferers have attacks triggered by high pollen count. That downy part of the dandelion is not pollen. Those are seeds. Very different things.

The latter charge is particularly eye-roll-inducing because just a few moments before the same producer and accused Joe of effectively committing dandelion abortion… but the flowers can’t reproduce without exchanging the very pollen that the pundit has mistaken the seeds for and which he says it is a crime to spread in the air.

Ooooo, boy!

Speaking of unhinged people…

Kansas Lawmaker Arrested For Assaulting Student After Long Day Of Yelling At Teens About God This is just a wild and terrifying story. The assualt, by the way, is that the teacher grabbed a student by both shoulders, declared that he was delivering god’s wrath, kneed the kid in the testicles, and then yelled at the rest of the class inviting any other students who wanted to to come up and kick the same kid in the balls, too.

This is after hours of this substitute teacher yelling hysterically (and all being recorded and uploaded to the internet by astounded kids) about god and how important it is that they make babies and don’t let kids wind up in foster care with lesbian mothers. It’s just unreal.

And now he’s claiming that it was all staged. But the kid who got kneed in the groin isn’t going along with the story. And if you watch any of the videos it seems fairly clear that the teacher and lawmaker is not acting.

Let’s move one…

Yesterday I linked to the story about the FDA kinda sorta moving forward with possibly making a statement about eventually banning menthol in cigarettes: FDA says it will ban menthol cigarettes and all flavored cigars – The agency has long faced calls to act on menthol cigarettes, which are disproportionately smoked by Black Americans and teens just starting to use tobacco

People have been lobbying the FDA to ban menthol cigarettes for many years. So it is a little irritating that 8 years after officially studying the question, their new major announcement is that they will publish a policy sometime soonish proposing the ban… and begin yet another public comment period.

I am illustrating this section of the post with a picture of a pack of Newport brand menthol cigarettes for a reason. Those used to be my favorites. Yes, until I quit 26 years ago, I not only smoked cigarettes, but I smoked menthols.

You may ask why people have been asking the FDA to ban the menthol cigarettes? Well, the answer is essentially the same if you asked me why, back in the day, I preferred menthols. Menthol is not more dangerous than the ordinary ingredients in tobacco smoke on its own, but want menthol does (besides added a cool tingly taste) is it numbs nerve endings. The reason that one of the more popular brands of menthol cigarettes is named Kool is because that numbing effect and the taste create an illusion that the smoke you are inhaling in these cigarettes is less hot (and therefore less burning) than ordinary cigarettes.

So smoking menthols mean that you are less likely to cough or feel a burning sensation and so forth. Some studies have indicated that people who smoke menthol cigarettes smoke more cigarettes per day than those that don’t, and everyone suspects it’s that numbing/cooling effect the menthol has that leads to that.

There are other studies that show that regular menthol smokers, if they can’t get a menthol cigarette during a particular time period, smoke less. And there are also studies that indicate not being able to get menthols at all would increase the number of people who decide to quite each year by the tens of thousands.

And given how deadly smoking is, that would be a good thing.

But the main reason I wanted to write about this ban is because it’s a great excuse to tell you how I accidentally quit smoking 26 years ago.

That’s write, I didn’t mean to quit smoking (even though I really knew that I should)…

How did that happen, you ask? Well, I got this really, really awful case of bronchitis. My doctor prescribed a seven-day course of the antibiotic Zithromax, and by day five the bronchitis seemed to be letting up, but about three days after the last pill, the bronchitis came back with a vengeance.

So my doctor prescribed a ten-day course of clarithromycin, another antibiotic. After several days on the clarithromycin the worst of the symptoms of the bronchitis let up, but I still had a wheeze in my lungs and shortness of breath. Mostly I just wasn’t keeping myself awake all night coughing. And again, a couple of days after the the last tablet, the symptoms got worse, again.

So, after taking another x-ray and some more tests to confirm that it was a bacterial infection of my bronchial tubes, the doctor prescribed augmentin. Augmentin is a combination of the very old, basic antibiotic amoxicillin, plus clavulanate potassium – which is a substance that neutralizes the most common mechanisms that some drug-resistant bacteria deploy.

After just four days of that ten-day regime, the cough had faded away, the wheezing was almost entirely gone, the shortness of breath was gone, and my fever had dropped down to low-grade. I kept taking the pills until they were gone, but I felt so much better.

And it was around this time, when I still had four or five days of the third antibiotic to go, that I realized I couldn’t find my open pack of cigarettes. I searched and searched. My late husband suggested I just pull a fresh pack out of the carton, or take one of his (except he smoked Marlboro Reds – no menthol, so no thanks).

For whatever reason, I was feeling extra stubborn. I was sure that I had more than half a pack of cigarettes somewhere that I had just smoked from, right? Ray asked, "When did you have your last cigarette?" And I started to say, "Oh, it must have been a couple hours ago? I think…? I was at my desk…"

So I went up to the computer room and started looking more thoroughly around the desk. Back then, I kept a pile mail that needed attending to on the desk. Items were added as they came in, and periodically I’d go through it, pay bills that were coming due, and so forth. Inside the pile, beneath seven days worth of new incoming mail, I found the open pack of cigarettes.

I pulled out a cigarette, put it in my mouth, and reached for the lighter.

And then I thought, "This means it has been seven days since my last cigarette." I had been too busy cough and wheezing and choking and being miserable with the bronchitis for the nicotine craving to rise to the surface. I walked downstairs, told Ray where I had found the pack and what that meant. I put the cigarette back in the pack. "I went seven days without smoking and never even noticed. Let’s see if I can go eight."

For the next couple weeks I said a variant of that to myself each day. "I’ve gone eight days, let’s see if I can do nine," and so on.

Sometime in the mid-twenties I just stopped counting days.

There is a coda to add. For years every time I caught a cold, even a mild head cold, it would turn into bronchitis and I’ve have to take antibiotics. At least three times every winter I’d get bronchitis. It was about three years after I quit smoking before I realized that in all that time, I hadn’t had a cold turn into bronchitis.

This is not to say that I have never had bronchitis again, but now it is, at most every other year or so, and even then, it’s only if I have a severe cold or the flu that goes on for a week or more. So, in case the danger of cancer (and watching a number of my loved ones die of smoking-related illnesses over the years) wasn’t enough reason to quit, I’m happy that I’m not constantly getting that painful choking cough in the middle of the night several times a year.

So, yeah, speaking from personal experience: anything that will help more people quit smoking is a good thing!

Wednesday Update: The Prez is About to Address Congress

by Bruce Plante, PoliticalCartoons.com

So last month, in reaction to the Q-people and their conspiracy theories, I wrote about the State of the State of the Union Address which was mostly an opportunity for me to be nerdy about the Constitution and presidential history/trivia. Which I love doing.

Tonight President Joe Biden is giving his first address to a joint session of Congress, which some people are incorrectly calling his first State of the Union Address. I predicted in that post seven weeks ago that a typical address wouldn’t happen any time soon, and I’m only technically correct. Joe will deliver his speech in the House Chamber, per tradition. The Vice President and the Speaker of the House will be seated behind him, per tradition. There will be members of both houses of Congress in the room, and representatives from all three branches of government, also per tradition.

However! It’s only going to be 60 Senators (30 from each party), and 80 Representatives (40 from each party) in the chamber. There will be only two cabinet members, instead of nearly the entire cabinet. There will be only one member of the Joint Chiefs, instead of the all of them. There will be only one member of the Supreme Court (the Chief Justice) instead of all of them. And instead of the gallery being packed with guests invited by nearly every member of Congress and a bunch invited by the President, there will be exactly two guests: the spouses of the President and the Vice President. And since they will be observing social distancing, all of these people will be spread out from each other.

The rest of Congress, the cabinet, and the Court will be watching from their homes or their offices. This means that another tradition isn’t being observed: the official Designated Survivor. For the last few decades, it has been the practice of the Secret Service to guard one member of the President’s cabinet who is in the succession of the presidency in an undisclosed secure location somewhere. The reasoning is that if someone hit the capitol building with a missile or bomb or something during the speech, that potentially everyone in the line of succession could be killed.

It’s kind of a creepy tradition, when you think about it. On the other hand, just a few months ago a murder mob invaded the capitol and at least some involved intended to kill certain members of Congress. So maybe we should be more worried about possible attacks.

Tomorrow will be the Biden’s 100th day in office. Presidential candidates often talk about things they plan to accomplish in their first 100 days in office. It all started with Franklin D. Roosevelt, who managed to get Congress to enact 76 new laws during his first 100 day. Something never accomplished before, and a record that has never been matched since.

Since FDR, journalists have treated the President’s first hundred days as an important benchmark. While it might be a self-fulfilling prophecy (because we pay attention to those days, they become important) it is also true that new administrations only get to focus most of their attention on their own agenda before events beyond their control begin to require more attention.

Anyway, here are a few takes other people have on how they thing Biden’s first 100 days will be remembered:

Opinion: Trump’s first 100 days were sheer craziness. Biden’s are sheer competence

Biden’s First 100 Days Have Been Great for the Stock Market. What History Says Happens Next

Column: Biden was an attention hog. 100 days into his presidency, boring is his superpower

Biden’s 1st 100 Days: A Look By The Numbers

Tuesday Tidbits 4/20/2021: Sometimes bad (white) men face consequences

George Floyd Trial Verdict: Derek Chauvin Found Guilty on All Count

Derek Chauvin found guilty of George Floyd’s murder

Finally! However, we can’t let this one, and so far only one, instance of a cop getting real consequences for murdering an unarmed person distract us from the many, many, many other cases where the cops get away with murdering a black man, or any person of color, or a queer person.

There is a long way to go! We still need to eliminate qualified immunity and so many other things!

Meanwhile… The following news about another bad white man who has been causing problems in my state for years broke on Friday, but I didn’t have time to do a Weekend Update post, so you get it now.

I have written more than once about financial and other shenanigans of local political gadfly and perennial anti-tax, anti-gay, anti-well-anything-decent initiative filer: Tim Eyman. This a-hole had previously been found in violation of a number of campaign finance laws and was forbidden from being treasurer of any political action committee. Unfortunately he continued to find was to skim tons of money illegally out of the campaigns he was still heading up, even though technically not the treasurer. Please note, I didn’t say allegedly, because as of Friday, a court came to that conclusion:

Tim Eyman fined $2.6 million, barred from campaign control. So now he is no longer allowed to be in control in any way shape or form of political campaigns.

And on top of that, Tim Eyman ordered to pay additional $2.9 million to reimburse taxpayers

Allow me to quote the judge:

"In the history of the Fair Campaign Practices Act enforcement, it would be difficult for the court to conceive of a case with misconduct that is more egregious or more extensive than the misconduct committed by defendant Eyman in this matter.”

The wheels of justice may have ground slow on this one, but eventually…

Tuesday Tidbits: Tools Who Have Outlived Their Usefulness

There’s more than one way to be toxic…

You Know Things Are Bad if the Guy Whose Boots You’ve Licked for More Than Four Years Won’t Meet You

Embattled Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz is denied a meeting with Trump

Meet Matt Gaetz’s PR firm, run by Trump ally who bailed on promise to eat his own shoe if Trump lost – Time to chow down!

Liz Cheney On Matt Gaetz: ‘As The Mother Of Daughters, The Charges Certainly Are Sickening’ – Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) on Sunday said that sex trafficking and other allegations against Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) are "sickening."

Glenn Greenwald Defends Gaetz’ Right To Have Sex With ‘Consenting’ Teenagers – Frequent Fox News guest, this week said that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has the right to have sex with a "consenting" 17-year-old girl.

Mass Shootings Everywhere

Toddler among 4 wounded in Seattle Central District shooting

4 injured, 1 dead after shooting at Memphis auto repair shop, police say

Four shot, one critically injured near Grand Valley State University

Cops Killing Unarmed People

Derek Chauvin’s defense begins its case by highlighting George Floyd’s prior arrest Because of course they do!

Officer identified as a 26-year veteran in fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright: What we know

Protesters, police clash at Brooklyn Center police station

King County Executive Dow Constantine urges Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht to retire – Sheriff sent an internal email to staff saying the settlement is “not a reflection of how I view the actions” of the deputy who shot unarmed 20-year-old Tommy Le This one has the complication that we King County voters approved a charter amendment last fall that ends Sheriff elections and makes the position of county sheriff an appointed position. In just 9 months the request from the executive (and calls from several county council members) will no longer be requests…

Weekend Supplement 4/11/2021: Images and Ideas that Need to be Shared

“My fave tutor at uni had a great journalism 101 lesson: ‘If someone says it’s raining & another person says it’s dry, it’s not your job to quote them both. Your job is to look out of the f**king window and find out which is true.’”
“I have no idea how teachers do it, man. If I had to teach algebra to some jackass knowing he’s going to join a frat and harass girls for 4 years before getting a job at his daddy’s business where he listens to joe rogan podcasts and makes 3x my salary i would become the joker.”
“Your taxes aren’t high because of schools or healthcare or food stamps. Your taxes are high because of rich people who game the system so they don’t have to pay their fair share.”

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