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Surprised no one's mentioned this, but right-wing troll Charles C. Johnson has gone over the line again.  Yesterday, Twitter shut off his mic for the fourth time after he asked his followers to help crowdfund "taking out" one of the leaders of the BlackLivesMatter movement, Deray McKesson.

This is what greeted McKessson on Sunday morning.  Needless to say, he wasn't happy.

Hours later, Twitter suspended Johnson's account.  Johnson took to GotNews to whine about how he had been "suspended from Twitter for journalism."  This coming from a guy whose idea of journalism includes plastering private personal information on the Web for all to see, and even stooping as low as criminal harassment.  Boo-hoo-hoo, Chuck.  Cry me a bleepity-bleeping river.  I say this as someone who really was persecuted for practicing journalism.  For those who don't remember, some members of that cultish campus ministry that suckered me into joining them in my freshman year reacted to my criticisms of them by trying to frame me for sexual harassment.

Johnson claims that he was only wanting help to dox McKesson.  But even if we give him the benefit of the doubt, Johnson has admitted he's too lazy to use a term other than "taking out" to describe what he wants to do.  And he expects us to believe that no one shouldt feel threatened when some yayhoo makes a post somewhere asking for help in "taking out" that person.

According to Little Green Footballs' Charles Johnson (no relation to Charles C.), Charles C. Johnson knows very well that some of his followers are among the lowest form of scum on the planet.  LGF's Johnson, who was himself stalked by Charles C. Johnson last year, writes that Charles C. Johnson "uses the language of violence in a very calculated way"--apparently believing it will give him plausible deniability.  Let's call this for what it is--stochastic terrorism.

Twitter says it's cracking down on cyberstalking.  Let's hope it puts its money where its mouth is and keeps Charles C. Johnson's account shuttered for good.  While we're at it, maybe we should let the folks at MediaTemple, his Webhost, know about this.  From MediaTemple's TOS:

The following represents a partial listing of activities that are prohibited when using the Service, any one of which has the potential to result in account or service suspension or closure without prior or further notice. Without limitation and in no particular order, the Service may NOT be used to host, display, post, propagate, upload, download, transmit, transfer, disseminate, distribute, reproduce, sell, link to nor facilitate access to:

i.   Any Content or website that contains material that, in our judgment, is intended to promote illegal activities, is unlawful, threatening, obscene, abusive, harassing, defamatory, slanderous, libelous, hateful or that violates any section of this Agreement;
ii.    Any Content or website that contains private or confidential information, including, but not limited to, your or any other person's or party's credit card information, social security number or other national identity number, non-public telephone number, address or email address;

Drop MediaTemple a line at abuse at mediatemple dot com.
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Looking at the Josh Duggar police report, one question is obvious--how in the world did Jim Bob and Michelle not go to the police immediately?  This was light years beyond kids messing around.  People don't seem to get that Jim Bob and Michelle's foot-dragging on this amounted to child endangerment.  That's what makes them, not Josh, the real villains in this case.

The obvious question--why would Jim Bob and Michelle decide to light the fuse on what could have been a time bomb?  Based on what we know about the case and the Duggars' culture, it's very possible that they were afraid that reporting it would damage the "body of Christ."

When this first came up, my thoughts immediately turned to Bob Jones University's byzantine handling of allegations of sexual assault.  If you'll remember, several accusers were told that if they moved forward with their claims, it risked "harming the body of Christ."  Supposedly, if they reported it, they could be held responsible for the suspected assailant losing his salvation.

The Duggars, remember, are independent Baptists--like most of BJU's constituency.  That made me wonder--were the Duggars thinking along the same lines as BJU's officials?  It's very possible, given that sex crimes have long been swept under the rug in the IFB community.  Plus, under the Christian patriarchy system, Josh is under his father's command as long as he lives under his roof--a corollary of this being that the father is responsible for his kids' salvation.  It could potentially explain why the girls didn't report it even if they wanted to do so.

Given the circumstances, I have to hope that someone takes a closer look at the Duggars' church.  Jim Bob, remember, went to his church's elders after the second abuse incident in 2003.  One of the few unanswered questions is whether the elders told him not to go further than whatever "counseling" program in which Josh ultimately enrolled.  In this environment, the pastor and elders' word is more or less the law.

Granted, "I was just following my elders' orders" wouldn't nearly be enough to turn down the well-deserved heat the Duggars are getting.  But it makes a big difference whether Jim Bob and Michelle's decision to slow-walk reporting Josh's actions was an act of evil or an act of spinelessness.


Next to the biker thugs, the personality in Sunday's Waco shootout who's potentially in the most trouble is the now-former owner of the restaurant where it took place.  For those who missed it, police in Waco were beside themselves that the owner of the Twin Peaks restaurant had ignored numerous warnings about allowing biker gangs to hang there.

On Monday--as if it had a choice--Twin Peaks corporate headquarters canceled the Waco restaurant's franchise, saying that management there had ignored numerous warnings from both law enforcement and corporate headquarters about the potential for violence.  Later that day, corporate headquarters announced the Waco restaurant would not reopen.  It's hard to see how it would have been able to open any time soon in any event, seeing as it's an active crime scene.

Based on what we know about the shooting, the restaurant's owner, Jay Patel, is in a world of trouble.  If the police accounts are to be believed, he knew that there was the potential for trouble by letting the Bandidos and other gangs show up, and blew those warnings off.  And because of that, we're extremely lucky that only nine people were killed. Moreover, it turns out that gunplay actually started INSIDE the restaurant.

Patel had the right--the obligation, in fact--to turn these guys away.  And because he didn't, he's potentially in a world of legal trouble.  Specifically, potential lawsuits from the customers in the restaurant, as well as bystanders outside the restaurant.  The former employees could have grounds for a suit as well--not only did he put them in undue danger, but because of Patel's nonfeasance they're looking for work.  I even have to wonder if you could make the case for criminal charges of reckless endangerment.  But even if there isn't, there's no doubt this guy could potentially be sued into poverty.

I actually hope someone does sue him.  The signal has to go out--when you show this kind of disregard for the safety of your workers, your customers and the public, you deserve to lose your business.  That's the same thing that happened to Peanut Corporation of America and Massey Energy, and it should have happened to JPMorgan Chase for coddling Bernie Madoff.  If I were Patel, I'd have a lawyer on speed dial.


Based on the numerous chronicles from our Wisconsinite friends, it's no secret that Scott Walker is a sleaze.  But even I wasn't prepared to find out that while still serving in the state assembly, Walker supported bills that would have made it legal for pro-life doctors to mislead women about the condition of their fetuses in order to keep them from having abortions.  While writing about this at Liberal America, I discovered that another favorite of ours also supported this--then-assemblyman and now-Congressman Glenn Grothman.

We all know that OB/GYNs are morally obligated to tell women about potentially serious disabilities that their fetuses may have.  However, for years Wisconsin OB/GYNs have been legally obligated as well.  If a doctor sat on this information, he could potentially be on the hook for the child's medical expenses or any damages that resulted from the child being born with a disability.  

Well, that didn't sit well with some Republican lawmakers.  In September 1997, a bill was introduced in the state assembly that would have given doctors immunity if "a woman did not undergo an abortion that she would have undergone" had she known about this disability.  Among the 35 sponsors were two third-term assemblymen--Scott Walker and Glenn Grothman.  Fortunately, this monstrosity died in 1998 without ever coming to the floor.

Several of the same people behind this misbegotten bill tried again in 2001.  Among the sponsors--Scott Walker and Glenn Grothman.  This bill actually made it out of the Assembly's family life committee--but died in 2002 without coming up for a vote.

There's no sugarcoating this.  Walker and Grothman were so fixated in keeping women from having abortions that they were willing to allow doctors to violate their oath and lie to their patients.  Can you imagine if this bill became law and a baby was born with a serious disability that the parents knew nothing about and didn't have time to prepare for it?  Heinous doesn't even begin to describe this.

The real outrage is that this happened right around the time newsrooms were being cut to the bone--to the point they couldn't cover state government adequately.  It makes you wonder--could Walker have even been elected Milwaukee County executive had his support of these monstrosities been known?  Not bloody likely.  And would Grothman be in Congress now if his support of this had been known?  I'd like to think not--while WI-06 is definitely reddish, Grothman is enough of a wingnut that if the blue team made some effort, the red team would have had to pour money in there like it did to defend Michele Bachmann.

This whole episode is a lovely reminder of why I walked away from the pro-life movement.  I was on the fence for a bit after having my fill of the pro-life movement's staggering disregard for privacy and basic human dignity.  It took the Marlise Munoz affair to flip me back to being pro-choice--though I realize now that at heart, I was pro-choice all along.  This is no different.  The prospect that anyone could even think it's remotely okay to lie to patients in the name of keeping them from having abortions, to my mind, is the latest evidence of the "mainstream" pro-life movement's moral bankruptcy.


If you want to know how hidebound the fundies are, consider that Rick Joyner, one of the more prominent leaders of the religious right, can have enough credibility to claim that marriage equality could potentially be the mark of the beast even though he finds it acceptable to laugh at victims of a natural disaster.

Joyner, for those who don't know, heads MorningStar Ministries in Fort Mill, South Carolina--only 20 minutes south of me.  He is one of the biggest voices in the New Apostolic Reformation, an overtly fascist offshoot of the religious right that thinks it can bring about the Second Coming by taking over the world.  Indeed, he is reckoned as a "prophet" in these circles.

Last week, he sent a special bulletin to the members of the Oak Initiative, a "grassroots" outfit that promotes taking over the "Seven Mountains" of our society--government, family, media, business, education, arts and entertainment, and the church.  Joyner pointed out that Daniel referred to "the beast" as "the abomination that desolates." He warned that given how quickly homosexuality is "so quickly and profoundly desolating the moral fabric of Western civilization," it could very well be that abomination.  

For those who don't know, if you don't take the "mark of the beast," you won't be able to "buy, sell or trade."  That's a big reason a lot of people have thought the mark could be some kind of chip or implant, or a single worldwide currency.  However, Joyner claims that if the Supremes decide in favor of marriage equality, it could have the same effect on those who "would not compromise their religious convictions in order to buy, sell or trade."

Hmmm--what if a pastor said that if businesses couldn't refuse service to people on account of their race, it would be like the mark of the beast?  What Joyner is saying is no less offensive.  But then again, given an episode from three years ago, it should come as no surprise that Joyner is tone deaf.  If you'll remember, during a post-election "webinar" in 2012, Joyner and another "prophet," the late Bob Jones (no relation to the family that founded Bob Jones University), were discussing Hurricane Sandy.  Jones said that Sandy and the nor'easter that came behind it were punishment for so many Northeastern states legalizing gay marriage.  And then they laughed about it.  That's right, LAUGHED.  And this guy is considered a leader in this outfit?  Sure says a lot about them, doesn't it?


For all the kicking and screaming that the Baltimore Fraternal Order of Police directed at Marilyn Mosby today after six of their brothers were indicted for their role in the death of Freddie Gray, they seem to have missed one thing.  The indictment came down less than 24 hours after Mosby got the case from Baltimore police.  You know what that tells me?  Police commissioner Anthony Batts knew that a crime had been committed.

Batts has already said that the six officers who handled Gray broke police procedure by not responding to his requests for medical attention and not buckling him in when they put him in the police wagon.  However, given how fast the indictment came, I suspect that Batts concluded that Gray's death was a criminal act, not merely a violation of procedure.

The picture I'm getting here is that Batts wanted to have all arrested then and there--only to have a judge tell him to let the state's attorney's office take a look at the case.  I immediately thought about something that happened in 2013, when a Dallas cop was arrested for an unprovoked shooting of a mentally ill man.  Cardan Spencer claimed he'd been forced to shoot the man when he lunged at him with a knife.  However, after a video came out showing Spencer shooting the man with his arms at his sides, the police chief wanted him charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.  However, the judge insisted that the case be taken to the grand jury.  

Several of the commenters in the diary I wrote about it suggested that the judge didn't want the blowback from the cops with whom he had to work on a regular basis.  That may have been what happened here--let Mosby and her team churn it through the system.  Apparently Mosby came to the same conclusion as Batts--literally hours after getting the medical examiner's report, she rolled out the indictments.

The system worked exactly the way it was intended to work--just a lot faster than even the most optimistic among us expected.


Many of you know that nine years ago, my ex-wife falsely accused me of making a girl watch X-rated movies and threatening to beat her up if she told anyone about it.  So when I found out about a similar ordeal a Georgia man had to endure, I took it personally.  John Blue spent seven months in jail on false charges that he assaulted a social worker--and even though he was acquitted in the time it takes to pour a cup of coffee, his life is still ruined.

Back in June, John Blue was pulling into his driveway with his sons, 10-year-old Zailan and 14-year-old Jaquez, when a woman pulled up out of nowhere.  She pounded on his window and yelled, "You can’t go nowhere with these kids–I need to talk to them."  Blue thought the woman was some kind of "junkie," so he drove off.  The woman rammed into his van before he could get to safety.

Later on, after taking his sons to his grandparents' house in Greenville, South Carolina, Blue was stunned to hear that he was a wanted man.  That woman who accosted him earlier was a social worker with the Gwinnett County Division of Family and Child Services who had arrived to take the kids into state custody due to an allegation of abuse.  However, she never identified herself as a social worker.

After finding out that there was a Levi's Call (Georgia's version of an Amber Alert) for the boys, Blue turned himself in--and was promptly tossed in jail on charges of aggravated assault.  It turned out the social worker had falsely claimed Blue had rammed into her when she tried to block him in.  Blue's sons and girlfriend insisted that Blue was innocent--but to no avail.

Blue sat in jail without bond for seven months.  When the case went to trial, however, a jury needed only 45 minutes to find him innocent of all charges.  However, he lost his home, his interior design business, and most of his possessions.  At last report, he was living out of his car.

In the time since WSB-TV and WGCL-TV covered this, there was virtually nothing to mention about this travesty until Raw Story mentioned it yesterday.  I really hope this is because Blue and the state are in settlement talks.  After all, the negligence is so obvious--and criminal--that the only question is how many zeroes will be in the final reward.

One condition ought to be non-negotiable.  That woman should personally apologize to Blue--after she is fired. I find it hard to believe that this woman's behavior wouldn't be a firing offense.  Blue only wants her charged for ramming his car.  He's being extremely kind.  Perjury?  Child endangerment?  False reporting?

At last report in January, this woman was still on the payroll at DFCS.  If she's still drawing a paycheck now, someone has a lot of explaining to do.


Late yesterday, Tulsa County DA Stephen Kunzweiler revealed that he is so alarmed by the revelations contained in an internal investigation of how Robert Bates' training and behavior were handled that he's already in touch with outside law enforcement agencies with a view toward conducting an independent investigation of the Tulsa County sheriff's office.  But we already know one thing without the need for further investigation.  Tulsa sheriff Stanley Glanz is manifestly unfit for his post, and must resign--yesterday.

For those who haven't read the report of the 2009 internal review of the Bates affair, it found that chief deputy Tim Albin and captain Tom Huckeby had given Bates preferential treatment by directing employees to forge Bates' training records.  They also created an atmosphere in which any complaints about Bates' behavior on the field was not tolerated.  This amounted to an announcement in capital letters that Albin and Huckeby should have been fired.  But Glanz not only kept them on, but promoted them.  Albin is now Glanz' second-in-command, while Huckeby heads the unit Bates was on during the ill-fated raid that resulted in Eric Harris' death.

I know that some law enforcement agencies are notorious about protecting bad cops.  But in what world can two members of the rank who direct outright forgery of records not only keep their jobs, but win promotions?  Apparently in Tulsa County.  In light of this, there is no defensible reason for Glanz to keep his job.  He needs to go now while he can still go decently.  And if he isn't willing to resign, he needs to be removed--either by recall or by Governor Mary Fallin removing him.  I'm not sure how to remove a sheriff in Oklahoma, but if someone can provide details, it's petition time.


Let's assume just for the sake of argument that Walmart really did decide to close five stores due to widespread plumbing problems and not--as the UFCW alleges on behalf of employees of one of the stores--to muzzle activist workers.  I don't think anyone has really considered this, but if Walmart is telling the truth, the world's largest retailer has a severe case of systemic dysfunction.

Think about it, folks.  If Walmart is telling the truth, it didn't even bother to get permits for this kind of work in advance.  According to WFTS-TV in Tampa, there is nada, zip, zero evidence that anyone obtained permits for the five stores in question.  Indeed, when a building inspector went to one of the closed stores--in Midland, Texas--offering to help with the permits, he was actually turned away.

If you believe Walmart's account, officials in Bentonville knew about these problems for some time, didn't bother to address them until now, and only gave their employees six hours' notice.  If that's the case, then if Walmart is telling the truth, it has tacitly admitted to a level of dysfunction that should never be tolerated out of any publicly-traded company, let alone a Dow component.  Even though the Waltons have controlling interest, they wouldn't be able to blow off the demands for heads to roll.

Of course, it's obvious that Walmart is lying to cover up the real story--though it's not clear exactly what that story is yet.  But I thought I'd point out that this wouldn't end well for Walmart even if it were telling the truth.


possible triggers follow

For the last week, I've found it impossible to get a horrible case of child abuse in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, out of my head.  Even though Brandy Kangas and Scott Suggs left their kids locked in a room 24-7 and fed them through a gate, they got a suspended six-year sentence.  According to Spotsylvania County Commonwealth's Attorney William Neely, an independent who has held the post since 1988, Virginia law gave him no other option but to ask for a suspended sentence because he didn't think he could prove the kids were physically harmed since they appeared well-nourished--and under Virginia law, you supposedly have to prove a child is physically harmed in order to win a child abuse conviction.  Never mind they've had no contact with the outside world, and show signs of PTSD--especially around locked doors.

This is as craven an act by a prosecutor as I've ever seen.  Fortunately, there's a chance to hold Neely to account.  While gathering research for a petition demanding Neely's resignation, I found out that Neely has an opponent in this November's election--Travis Bird.  He posted a response to Neely's explanation of his actions on his Facebook page.

At the end of the day, by placing blame on the laws as written, the impression that is left on our citizens and most certainly on those who would abuse children is that Virginia, and more specifically Spotsylvania, is soft on child abuse. Our job is not always easy and it does require tough decisions; however, I cannot and do not agree with the outcome of this case. As your Commonwealth's Attorney, I would be a zealous advocate for the enforcement of these laws and for any changes that need to be made to these laws.
Based on his Twitter feed, Bird is a Republican.  But from what I've been able to dig up, Spotsylvania County is crimson-red.  For those who don't know, it's halfway between Richmond and Washington, and completely surrounds the sapphire-blue city of Frdericksburg.  It's gone Democratic in a presidential election exactly ONCE since 1948.  In other words, it's not likely a Democrat will win here.

But if there is any area in which partisanship shouldn't matter, it's protecting children.  Simply put, Neely's failure to ensure two monsters go to prison where they belong is a firing offense.  The most meaningful way to protest this is to support the guy running against him.

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Mark Regnerus' study that suggested kids raised by same-sex parents don't turn out well has been discredited several times over in the last three years.  Well, now you can add Regnerus' employer, the University of Texas, to the list.  UT's student newspaper, the Daily Texan, got its hands on an internal review of Regnerus' work which confirmed what we already know--it was so badly flawed that it's completely unreliable.

Regnerus' normal six-year post-tenure review took an interesting turn when the then-chairwoman of UT's sociology department, Christine Williams, objected to the review committee giving Regnerus an "exceeds expectations" rating.  Williams was concerned about the poor methodology Regnerus used in his New Family Structures Study.  Per the policy of the College of Liberal Arts, this triggered a college-level review.

The college's senior associate dean for student affairs, Mark Musick, prepared a report as part of that review. Musick found that the Regnerus study's methodology was "fundamentally flawed"--largely echoing the review by Social Science Research, who originally published the study.  Specifically, Musick wrote, there was no link between the parents’ sexuality and whether kids who are raised by same-sex parents fare worse than their counterparts who are raised by straight parents.

Musick also found that Regnerus violated a number of ethical standards set by the American Sociological Association.  Specifically, his testimony as an expert witness for religious right groups and the fact he looked the other way while religious right groups used it to bolster their arguments even though he himself denied the study dealt with marriage equality.  He also suggested that by not disclosing that the link between same-sex relationships and unstable families had been designed into the study, Regnerus may have committed scientific misconduct.

When the post-tenure review committee met again, it found that since the link had been included by design, "it is not possible to conclude that the different life outcomes between the two groups were caused by the parental relationship variable."  When the college's dean, Randy Diehl, read this, he concluded that the study was so flawed that "no policy implications about same-sex parenting should be drawn from the study."  Translation--it shouldn't be used as a resource for lawmakers on this topic.

Despite this, nothing was said about the ethical concerns Musick raised.  This was because Diehl didn't think a post-tenure review was an appropriate venue to debate ethical matters--a suggestion that most of the academics here would find laughable.  He asked two vice presidents for research for their opinion, and they concluded there was no scientific misconduct.

While it's good that UT has seen this study as the steaming pile of nonsense that it is, it's disappointing that it didn't address what appear to be egregious ethics violations by Regnerus.  The Daily Texan isn't happy about it either; in a scathing editorial, it decries Diehl's inaction on Regnerus' "reckless misuse of his study."  I have to wonder if Diehl was afraid of angering the state legislature.  But when Regnerus himself says that his study really didn't say anything at all about gay parenting, I would think Diehl would have had an out to put Regnerus through the wringer.


Surprised no one's mentioned this, but late yesterday the Columbia School of Journalism completed its review of Rolling Stone's highly controversial article on campus rape.  Specifically, the account of a violent gang rape at a University of Virginia frat house in 2012.  The verdict?  It was so badly flawed that it should have never been published.

Rolling Stone's repudiation of the main narrative in "A Rape on Campus" is a story of journalistic failure that was avoidable. The failure encompassed reporting, editing, editorial supervision and fact-checking. The magazine set aside or rationalized as unnecessary essential practices of reporting that, if pursued, would likely have led the magazine's editors to reconsider publishing Jackie's narrative so prominently, if at all. The published story glossed over the gaps in the magazine's reporting by using pseudonyms and by failing to state where important information had come from.
While the three-person review team, led by journalism school dean Steve Coll, found no evidence Jackie made the whole thing up, it did fault writer Sabrina Dubin Erdely and editor Sean Woods for running the story despite making no effort to corroborate Jackie’s account beforehand.

The most egregious error, in the Columbia team's eyes, was Erdely's failure to contact three of Jackie's friends who supposedly talked her out of going to the authorities.  However, the three friends maintained they said no such thing, and had Erdely bothered to interview them they would have told her the same thing.  Instead, Erdely relied solely on Jackie's account of the conversations.  From my journalism major's perspective, that's just one step away from a slam-dunk libel suit.  The only sticking point would be that it would be hard to determine whether the three friends were identified.  Nonetheless, as I mention at Liberal America, this should have been a firing offense--though for now, Erdely will keep her post.

The sharpest criticism of the story at the outset was Jackie's insistence that Erdely not contact any of the guys who raped her, including "Drew," the ringleader who was Jackie's date that night.  It turns out no such demand was made.  In fact, Jackie actually suggested that Erdely check the fraternity's roster to find him. Erdely did indeed try to find him, but ran into dead ends every time.  She finally decided to use a pseudonym to get around contacting him.  The story apparently went to press even though Erdely and Woods hadn't been able to confirm he even existed.

As it turns out, the story started coming unraveled just a few days before the print version was due to go to press.  During a phone conversation on the day before Thanksgiving, Erdely persuaded Jackie to give her "Drew's" real name.  But Jackie couldn't recall how the last name was spelled.  Erdely was alarmed enough to do what she should have done beforehand--cross-reference the name.  She couldn't find any evidence he worked at the same pool as Jackie, was a member of the fraternity or had any connections to Jackie.  Another phone conversation didn't make her feel any better.  The result was an editor's note backpedaling from the way this story was reported.  To my mind, though, it doesn't begin to make up for Erdely including negative comments from private people she didn't even bother to interview.  That is unforgivable--and Erdely should have been fired.

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