The Widdershins

Good Monday, all! As you have most likely heard, the Internets have been abuzz with the strange story of Rachel Dolezal, formerly leader of the Spokane, Washington chapter of the NAACP, who has been outed as a white woman passing for black. In the past several days, she has first denied being white; then when her parents showed pictures of her as a blonde, freckled teenager, claimed to be “transracial” as Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner is transgender. Now, Ms. Dolezal has floated the idea that she may not be her parents’ biological child…a claim that appears to be based more on wishful thinking than reality, if her brother is to be believed.

Rachel Dolezal, the embattled ex-NAACP chapter president accused of lying about being black, insisted this past week on national television she is not white, saying she had no proof she is her parents biological child.

“I haven’t had a DNA test,” she said NBC Nightly News. “There’s been no biological proof that Larry and Ruthanne [Dolezal] are my biological parents.”

Ezra Dolezal, Rachel’s adopted biracial brother, challenges her to take the test.

“She’s obviously related to my parents and she says she’s not, she should get a DNA test, that would definitely prove it,” he tells PEOPLE. “I don’t why she keeps saying it.”

I don’t know either, but it clearly means a lot to Dolezal to identify as black. I recently read a thoughtful piece by Chris Jones in the Chicago Tribune, in which the topic of racial identity being potentially selective is interestingly framed in the context of Caitlyn Jenner, Donald Trump’s declaration of his candidacy for President, and the horrible attack in South Carolina. As Jones wrote,

…[W]e all live in a historical context, and our actions and desires are always read in terms of what others are doing. That’s not to say that the legitimacy of role-playing isn’t complicated — even many of those who fully supported and admired Jenner’s right to make a bold splash as a woman were aware that she had not chosen to depict herself as something close to what most transgender people experience. She was not photographed as herself — she was photographed as a retro icon, not as a woman, but as the image of a Hollywood star. That was a constructed piece of role-playing regardless of the gender of the subject.

Was that just Jenner seizing her own brand, which is wise for us all? Who does not want to be photographed with glamour? And why not serve as a role model? But some saw malevolence in the big-media machine, the creation of a marketable figure from which the authentic was airbrushed in favor of a new character, a siren with appeal for the voyeuristic.

That is the problem, of course, with the media saturation of these so-called controversies: However authentic or inauthentic the original impulse, the argument becomes moot. There is money to be made either way. No doubt Dolezal is already fielding many offers of representation — book contracts, reality shows, personal appearances, all surely are in the offing. Will that make the life of her African-American children better? Who is to say?

I wish I knew what motivated Dolezal’s actions. Who knows, maybe ten years from now a lot of people will come out as “transracial,” but for now, she’s caused quite a furor.

What do you think about this? This is an open thread.

For this weekend’s exercise in mindlessness, here are some stories for your enjoyment.  As always, I’m grateful to the compilers of News of the Weird and the Weird Universe.  Warning:  This post contains an unedited Brazilian-Germanic name that some readers might find offensive.  I apologize in advance.

Someone I would like to know…Welcome to Cleveland

Mark Gubin lives in Milwaukee.  For 27 years he has had a “Welcome to Cleveland” sign painted on his roof.  Passengers on flights arriving at Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport are often disconcerted and sometimes panicked by the sign, but it’s all in good fun according to Gubin. He says, “Living in the world is not a dress rehearsal. You better have fun with it.”  I want to be a friend of Mr. Gubin.

With the NBA season finally over, rent the luxurious lane…

Hong Kong apartmentApartment buyers in ridiculously expensive Hong Kong are now eagerly paying up to the equivalent of $500,000 (US) for units not much bigger than a U.S. parking space.  Typically you can physically self-measure the apartments by your own wing-span. An agent told the Wall Street Journal this month that standard furniture does not fit in these units and that having guests over requires sitting on the window sill. The Journal pointed out a typical “mosquito” apartment unit in Hong Kong is 180 square feet, much, much smaller than the 304 square feet of a basketball court’s “lane” subject to a “3-second” violation.  A government lottery in Hong Kong for subsidized housing units rewards barely one of every one-hundred applicants.

It’s always who you know…

According to a Radio Free Europe dispatch, some jihadists who have traveled to Syria to join ISIS have been complaining of late.  Their complaints center on being unable to secure work as “martyrs” because of discrimination by previously recruited and tenured fighters. One “pro-ISIS” cleric said they “are so fed up with the long waiting lists in Syria that they end up heading to Iraq, where the lists are shorter.”  One new budding martyr jihadist said, “Saudis are controlling the suicide rosters in the Syrian theater and won’t let anyone in.  They always allow their relatives to go to the front of the line.”

Now for some Tennessee News…TN News

It was an awkward moment for Corey Huddleston, 52, of Dickson, Tennessee.  He had apparently taken a fancy to a local teenage girl.  According to police, to advance his intentions he knocked on her family’s front door, then pushed his way in, asked for cigarettes and beer, “touched himself” inappropriately, asked about the girl, and then reluctantly bid everyone adieu. However, he cleverly went around to a back window of a darkened bedroom, climbed inside, and fondled a sleeping figure in bed, whom he assumed was the girl.  To put a punctuation on what was already a big night in Dickson, the sleeping figure was not the girl, but the girl’s father.  The fondled father later confessed that he called the police only after resisting the impulse to kill Huddleston.  It should be noted that Mr. Huddleston is quite accomplished since his police rap sheet shows more than one-hundred charges.  Nobody likes a quitter.

In other Tennessee news, notwithstanding anything you might have seen in the movies, stealing a two-hundred pound floor model safe is a very low-return crime.  This sage wisdom was lost on three pals in Kingsport, Tennessee.  After struggling to load the safe into a car’s trunk and accidentally shattering the back window, they drove to one of the three’s apartment.  Even though it was the middle of the night, police were called when neighbors saw the safe being dragged across a parking lot.  Highly trained in evidence collection, the police followed the gouge marks left by the safe in the parking lot and on the sidewalks leading straight to the apartment where the safe had been taken.  When the officers were admitted to the apartment, there was the unopened safe in the middle of the kitchen. According to the police here is the way the conversation went:

Police:            Why do you gentlemen have a safe?

Perps:             We found it in an alley and thought we would bring it home.

Police then opened the safe.  It was empty.

Some International News…

Adultery is fine in Japan (despite laws against it), if it is done with a “business purpose”, or so ruled the Tokyo District Court.  Specifically this ruling dealt with a night club lady who used repeated sexual acts to butter up good customers. The businessman’s wife promptly found out that her husband’s bread had been “buttered up” for seven years.  She had no idea how good a customer he was.

The Indian Journal of Dermatology announced in April that it was withdrawing a recent scientific paper written by a dentist.  The paper was entitled, “Development of a Guideline to Approach Plagiarism in Indian Scenarios.”  The paper was pulled because major parts of it had been plagiarized.

Immature News…giggling teenager

A good friend of mine is an accomplished industrial psychologist – highly degreed and published many times over.  He and I have laughed often and much about things that would cause the exact, same response in a fourteen year-old boy.  He wisely says, “Males never socially mature much over the age of fourteen, we just learn how to manage it.”  With that said, here are some news items my inner fourteen year-old finds giggle-worthy.

Richard Langtry became a little over-enthusiastic during a day of team building and decided to give his employee, Michael Peacock, a friendly male-bonding tug. A subsequent lawsuit alleges, “Langtry then grabbed Peacock’s left testicle, squeezed it hard, and pulled it down as if to rip it from his groin.”  Peacock is now one dangly short, and is suing everyone even remotely associated with this day of emasculating team building.

Artist Mark Sturkenboom has come up with a remarkable new remembrance device for one’s dear departed, if the departed is a male.  Sturkenboom wants to put the “boom, boom” in remembering so he has devised a dildo that holds 21 grams of cremated ashes.  To cover its most practical use, it comes accessorized by a necklace and a music player (I find that amazing in and of itself).  “After passing,” Sturkenboom explained, “the missing of intimacy” is “one aspect of the pain and grief.”  This remembrance can be purchased even if your husband wasn’t named Dick.

The English Plymouth Herald reports that the Tavistock Town Council hastily changed the wording in March of its help-wanted ad seeking a general maintenance person.  In local jargon, a general maintenance person is known as a “hand”, thus, it was not wise for Tavistock to continue to advertise an offer of a “general hand job.”

No. 14 is Guilherme Carbagiale Fuck...

No. 14 is Guilherme Carbagiale Fuck…

A Brazilian student-athlete enrolled at Medicine Hat (Alberta) College and promptly announced he would play the next basketball season under his real Brazilian-German name.  His given name is Guilherme Carbagiale Fuck (which he insists is pronounced foo-kay and means “fox” in German).  It is unclear whether or not his excellent ball handling will come to be known euphemistically as “Fucking”.

Have a great weekend.  Take the conversation in any direction you might like to explore.


For you city folk, there is a rural phenomenon where a dog will actually chase a car.  Crazy, I know, but it happens.  People have always tried to explain why dogs chase cars, but outside the thought bubbles of Snoopy no dogs have commented.  One thing I do know, catching a car by a car chasing dog leaves everyone scratching their heads.  What happens then?dog and car 2

This is the same conundrum facing Republicans these days.  They might be on the cusp of being “the dog what caught the car” on any number of issues.  Let’s review.

First and foremost, there’s the Supreme Court case of King v. Burwell where the ACA is on the chopping block courtesy of a simple legislative drafting error.  There’s Donald Trump’s “word salading” a run for the Republican presidential nomination.  Then there’s the winnowing down of the Republican field being outsourced to the Republican media operation of Fox News.  In addition, there’s the dissing of Pope Francis over his encyclical regarding climate change.  Add to that immigration, the environment, same-sex marriage, birth control, sex education, abortion, infrastructure spending, STEM education, or any number of other issues – take your pick – and the Grand Old Party is pre-diluvian in its positions and thinking.

If the Supreme Court violates the judicial keystone of upholding legislative deference to the executive branch in terms of implementing legislation, the resulting “major go-to-pieces” represented by the King case could go a long way in flipping both the House and the Senate.  Remarkably, two-thirds of those who stand to lose insurance subsidies live in Republican districts.

obamacare_worst_case scenarioThere are those on the Left who secretly hope the Supreme Court does get its conservative activism robes in a bunch and rule against Obamacare.  Polling suggests a majority of Americans want Congress to fix what is, in essence, little more than a grammatical error.

The resulting Republican stalemate over health care would be a Fort Sumter-esque first shot of an especially bloody civil war over what to do.  Ted Cruz and Rand Paul would be tripping over their respective high-heeled cowboy boots to filibuster any fix. Vulnerable Republicans would be caught with their “subsidies down”.  Mitch McConnell’s frustration would mean his world-class frown wouldn’t end until just below his kneecaps.

As for Donald Trump and his ongoing rant about his fellow candidates, the Republican Party has not a soul to blame, not a soul, but themselves.  It was all well and good to encourage “the Donald” as long as he was in search of a Kenyan birth certificate, but now his antics are being described as dangerous and delusional.  A trained seal knows from whence his fish comes and Trump’s same old tricks are golden when it comes to headline grabbing.Trump 2

Trump also knows the first commandment of political hucksterism, always attack upward.  His shots at Jeb! (to be read with emphasis), Rubio, and Walker are nothing but precursors of what his performance will be if he gets on a debate stage.  Now that will be must-see-teevee.

Speaking of the Republican debates, there is no better example of the dog catching the car.  With Fox being nothing more than the communications arm of the national Republican Party, Prince Priebus has deigned it acceptable for Fox and Roger Ailes to pick winners and losers in the GOP debate lottery.  Messaging and chronic indignation has always fostered a marriage of convenience between the GOP and Fox, but now the parenting skills of the “debate babies” are causing massive marital discord.

When you are likely to have twenty candidates and try to limit the debate to only ten candidates, you have just as many candidates off stage as on the stage (that is the extent of my mathematical skills).  Such an arrangement fosters plenty of sound bites for the disgruntled.  If you can’t organize a debate, how on earth are you going to organize the dismantling of the federal government while at the same time increasing defense spending and reducing taxes?

dog drivingThen there’s the problem of resolving the differences between the encyclicals of Pope Francis and the Brothers Koch.  The Pope sees climate change as real and the Brothers Koch have declared it whimsically imaginary.  The difference between the two schools of thought is punctuated by about a billion dollars in Koch contributions siphoned through a web of front organizations.

Trouble is:  More and more people, particularly those declaring an affinity toward religiosity, believe as does the Pope – we should be good stewards of our planet.  This presents a particular problem for those demonstrating a proclivity for sucking on the tailpipe of the Koch political machine.  You can’t exactly proclaim moral superiority when your morals are dictated by choosing the Brothers Koch as your ethical higher power.

We could go further in our metaphorical analysis, but there is no need.  Just like an angry dog, the “Party of No” has forgotten that just exhibiting unfocused anger leads not to a logical conclusion, but to general confusion. dog biting car

Just like a tantrum throwing two-year old, the anger of the Tea Party and the ultra-conservative base has fostered no sensible Republican policy alternatives short of pants wetting.  There’s something karmic about promoting calculated inaction resulting in unneeded suffering and then that inaction resulting in self-inflicted pain. Just ask any car chasing dog – all you get when you are successful is a sore, flat head.

I hope your Friday is a good one and I’ll be back tomorrow with a cavalcade of the ridiculous for your perusal.  Take the conversation in any direction you may desire.




angry men

Lots of angry men

You probably  have never heard of Dr. Tim Hunt.  In all honesty, neither did I until last week.  Dr. Hunt won a Nobel Prize in 2001 in Physiology or Medicine and was also given a knighthood. He had a position with the European Research Council science committee and was a member of the Royal Society, which bills itself as ” a Fellowship of the world’s most eminent scientists and is the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence”.  I listed all of these things in the past tense because now, Dr. Hunt is known more as “a sexist who has been stripped of most of his positions because of inappropriate comments about women in science”.

Dr. Hunt gave a speech last week in Seoul Korea and essentially committed professional suicide.

Hunt’s fall followed a speech Tuesday at the World Conference of Science Journalists in South Korea in which he said that girls cause trouble in labs because “you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize them, they cry.”

Oh yeah, it’s those damned girls in the lab!  They have all those emotions and stuff!  It didn’t take long for his comments to hit and circulate through social media with Anne Perkins of The Guardian saying “his comments were ‘the educated man’s version’ of blaming rape victims because they were wearing short skirts before they were attacked.”.

There are those who have come to his defense.

Athene Donald, a leading physicist who is master of Churchill College at Cambridge University, said Hunt always enthusiastically supported her work when she served for five years as Gender Equality Champion at the university.

“I’ve spent a lot of time with him and I’ve never seen any sign of sexism,” she told The Associated Press. “He has traveled the world since he got the Nobel Prize, talking to young audiences, male and female, giving so generously, and now he has been ruined.”

Ottoline Leyser, is a former student of Hunt’s who now directs the Sainsbury Laboratory at the University of Cambridge and she’s worried his comments could affect women who want to go into a STEM field.  “All my interactions with him were very positive,” she told the AP. “He was a very enthusiastic and inspirational teacher. I’ve no indications from my experience or from colleagues that he’s in the slightest way sexist.”

Perhaps it was a slip of the tongue, a weak attempt at humor or maybe the ole doc has just been in the lab too long.  Regardless, his comments have cost him dearly.

 * * * * *

Recently I saw Schmoe on Morning Schmoe laugh at the idea that the New York Times (that liberal bastion) might have a vendetta against Hillary Clinton, or at the least be spending an inordinate amount of space and time on negative stories on her and Bill.  But then I came  across this article on Media Matters and it does seem like the Times isn’t being balanced in their coverage.  In his piece, Eric Boehlert finds, perhaps not a concerted effort to slam Hillary, but there sure were a lot of coincidences, shall we say.  Frank Bruni suggested and tweeted that ” the Democrat’s campaign constituted “psychological torture,” which definitely sounds bad. Unsubtly headlined “Hillary the Tormentor” (because she inflicts so much pain on Democrats, apparently), Bruni’s effort was unusually overwrought even by his dramatic standards.”.

On the same day, columnist Ross Douthat opined that “Democrats supporting Clinton should consider themselves “warned” for when things go terribly wrong if she’s elected president.”.  As Boehlert wrote:

Just a coincidence where not one but two columnists for the supposedly-liberal newspaper of record unloaded on her?

Not quite.

In truth, the Bruni-Douthat tag team was a rather common occurrence among Times columnists, some of whom have banded together this year to publish a steady stream of attacks on Clinton. (Yesterday, columnist David Brooks announced Clinton’s electoral strategy is all wrong, and that it’s bad for America.) What’s unusual is that the conveyor belt of attacks hasn’t been balanced out by clear signs of Clinton support among Times columnists. More importantly, the Times’ odd brand of Clinton wrath has not been duplicated when columnists assess Republicans.  [bolding mine]

Boehlert writes that going back through a year of the Times’ essays he could not find one that “unequivocally supports the Democratic frontrunner.”.  Now, Boehlert says that there is no requirement that the Times write supportive pieces on Clinton, and I wouldn’t want any such “requirement”.  But, from his analysis of the opinion pieces written by Times columnists here is a sampling of  some of the interesting words and phrases used to describe Hillary Clinton:

Here is a small sample of what readers of Times columns have learned about Hillary Clinton this year: She gives off an “atmosphere of hostility,” “exploit[s] our better angels and our desire,” is guilty of “shakedowns,” remains “suffused with paranoia and pre-emptive defensiveness,” and boasts “self-destructive instincts.”

Times columnists have noted Clinton recently wore a “forced smile, which was practically cemented in place,” she seems “like an annoyed queen, radiating irritation at anyone who tries to hold you accountable,” and she “doesn’t sparkle with honesty and openness.” Clinton, a flip-flopping “shapeshifter,” has been around so long the electorate “has known her since the Mesozoic era,” “she looked as if she was getting sucked into the past,” and to she wants become “grandmother of our country.”

Boehlert ends his piece with this anecdote:

The Times’ institutional antagonism towards the Clintons goes back decades. During Bill Clinton’s first term, Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. once told Clinton that paper had adopted a “tough love” policy towards his presidency. “I’ve seen the tough,” Clinton quipped. “Where’s the love?”

As she reads Times columnists, Hillary might be asking the same thing.

This is an open thread so take it wherever you wish Widdershins.





Hillary on Roosevelt Island, 06-13-15, courtesy of the New York Daily News

Good Monday, all! This Saturday, as most of us are aware, Hillary Clinton gave her first major speech of the campaign in New York, and by my lights, it was a smashing success. She hit all the right notes, from her shout-outs to FDR (the location of her speech and the four pillars of her platform, mirroring FDR’s Four Freedoms), to her positions on income inequality, taking action on climate change and creating jobs, voting rights for all, equal pay for equal work,  the overturning of Citizens United, freedom from discrimination for LGBT, and pretty much everything a good FDR Democrat’s heart would desire. Everything, that is, except her stand on the TPP.

Welp…wonder no more about that.

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton on Sunday urged President Barack Obama to work with congressional Democrats who rejected his trade agenda last week, and to seek tougher labor protections in a proposed Pacific trade deal.

Clinton had until now declined to take a stand on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but her comments amounted to an implicit rebuke of Obama and a nod toward liberal critics of the deal.

At a campaign stop in Iowa, Clinton said Obama should work with opponents like House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who engineered the defeat of a related trade package last week.

“I am willing to try now to see whether you can push to get rid of the objectionable parts, to drive a harder bargain on some of the other parts,” Clinton said.

If Obama does not get the best deal possible, “there should be no deal,” said Clinton, who is the front-runner among candidates to be the Democratic Party nominee for the November 2016 election.

With her landmark speech, her new campaign video, “Fighter,” and her first public foray into taking on Obama directly on domestic issues, I feel like for the first time since 2007, we are seeing the real Hillary Clinton.

Read the rest of this entry »

Happy weekend Widdershinners – hoping your week was a good one.  In order to assure you have an appropriately weak end to your week, I’ve collected a few stories for your enjoyment from the News of Weird.  Let’s begin by explaining why this post is adorned with the art work of Mark Rothko. Untitled Blue and Yellow

Mr. Rothko is an abstract impressionist who has been quite successful according to the New York Times.  Mr. Rothko will never be accused of being complicated in his painting.  In fact, some critics have compared Rothko’s art to the “squiggles of playful toddlers,” but eye of the beholder and all that art appreciation stuff.  Sotheby’s auction house announced last month that Rothko’s “Untitled, (Blue and Yellow)” sold for $46.5 million.  As you can tell that is $15.5 million per rectangle.  The Sotheby’s catalog described the painting as one that shows “how truly miraculous a painting can be.”  Funny, I thought I knew the definition of “miraculous”.

Speaking of art appreciation…

The students of the University of California, San Diego’s Visual Arts 104A class were seen as truly appreciating art since they were “truly being seen” during art appreciation.  For the final exam students were to make a presentation while nude, but not to worry, the room was darkened and the professor was also nude.  The professor had been conducting his final exams in the “all together” for eleven years and no student had ever complained.  I can only imagine what Visual Arts classes 101 through 103 entailed – pun sorta intended.

Untitled PurpleNow, here’s a complaint…

According to the London Independent, British forensic scientist Dr. Brooke Magnanti recently filed a lawsuit accusing her ex-boyfriend of libeling her.  Dr. Magnanti has written two best-selling books and even inspired a teevee series based on her life.  Part of Magnanti’s marketability cachet was that she claimed to have paid for her education through prostitution.  Her ex-boyfriend had the chauvinistic temerity to say Dr. Magnanti was NOT a prostitute, ergo the libel suit.  After the breakup, the ex-boyfriend should have stuck with whispering the sweet-nothing of, “What a whore!”

Speaking of horizontal activities…

According to the Daily Telegraph, Mike Holpin, 56, told reporters he was just “doing what God wants.”  Mr. Holpin, unemployed since he lost his promising career as a carny, claims to have fathered at least 40 children.  Those children are now aged from 3 to 37 and the product of Holpin’s carny barking with some twenty different women.  Mr. Holpin explained, “In the Bible, God says go forth and multiply.  I will never stop.  I’m as fertile as sin.”  If anyone from TLC is out there reading TW today, I nominate Mr. Holpin and his extended brood for the time slot formerly occupied by the gold Duggars.

Speaking of religiosity…

The Associated Press reported about the activities of an energetic Catholic Monsignor named Kevin Wallin.  The Monsignor is a young-at-heart 63 years old, but Wallin will be at least 68 when he is again free to roam the environs of Bridgeport, Connecticut.  You see the good Monsignor was sentenced to prison for running a meth distribution ring.  In addition, to cover the lucrative profits from his grassroots pharmaceutical marketing the industrious Wallin also operated a sex shop.  You know what they say about idle hands.  In any event, Wallin had faced a ten-year sentence, but because of his history of charity work and 80 letters of support from high-ranking clergy, he will only be sidelined for five years during which he will undoubtedly be a virtuous paragon of prison wisdom.

Speaking of needed counseling…Untitled Red and Blue

In March, following the departure of Zayn Malik from the British band One Direction, an executive with the Peninsula employment law firm in Manchester, England, told London’s Daily Telegraph that he had received “hundreds” of calls from employers seeking advice about workers who were requesting “compassionate” leave because Malik’s resignation had left them distraught.  I was distraught when I had no idea who Zayn Malik was and even more distraught when I learned there was a band called One Direction.

Crying at the office…

I would have said, “Crying all the way to the bank,” but these people are already at banks for the most part.  Lightly regulated hedge funds failed last year, for the sixth straight year, to out earn ordinary stock index funds.  Following the advice of their high priestess Ayn Rand, you would think such poor performance would be punished by the “invisible hand of the market,” but no.  The top 25 hedge fund managers collectively earned $11.62 billion (not million – billion with a “B”) in fees and salaries for an average of over $464 million each.  Making sure this is understood:  Twenty-five people split $11.62 billion in fees and salaries.  Twenty-five people!  Eleven point Sixty-two billion!  But, six years of failure does take its toll on a person so perhaps they can find solace in their subsistence wages.

They do it for love of the gaming…

A 21-year-old man in Hefei, China, collapsed last month after 14 straight days of Internet gaming, yet when paramedics revived him, the man begged them to leave and put him back in front of the screen.  Then, two weeks later in Nanchang, China, a 24-year-old female gamer took only a minutes-long break at an Internet cafe at 4 a.m., to head to a rest room and give birth — returning with her blood-covered baby in her arms to resume her place at the mouse pad.  Now that is the type of initiative Ayn Rand was talking about.

Contemplating RothkoJust something you need to know…

From the New York Times:  Almost half of the DNA collected from a broad swath of the New York City subway system matched no known organism, and less than 1 percent was human. Weill Cornell Medical College researchers announced in February that they had collected the DNA by swabbing passenger car and station surfaces, finding abundant matches to beetles and flies (and even traces of inactive anthrax and bubonic plague), but that since so few organisms have been fully DNA-“sequenced,” there was no cause for alarm. The lead researcher fondly compared the bacteria-teeming subway to a “rain forest,” deserving “awe and wonder” that “there are all these species” that so far cause humans relatively little harm.  In related news, the lead researcher was voted “Mr. Optimism” by his coworkers.

And finally, for some political news…

Holly Solomon, 31, of Phoenix, pleaded guilty in April to aggravated assault and sentenced to three and a half years in prison.  It seems Ms. Solomon was attempting to press her then-husband’s clothes with him in them.  She wasn’t using an iron, but was taking the novel approach of using her Jeep.  It seems as though Ms. Solomon ran down her spouse because she was angry that he had neglected to vote for Mitt Romney as he promised to do.  Romney won Arizona quite handily even without her hubby’s vote, but voting is a responsibility Ms. Solomon takes quite seriously.


That should about do it for now my Widdershin friends.  Enjoy the weekend and feel free to allow the conversation to roam in any direction you may wish.




Today’s exercise in wasting time by reading my mental meanderings is a little trip down memory lane.  With 2016 fast approaching, our collective recall might benefit from a little refreshing.  A scenic tour along Memory Lane might be just the tonic we need to ward off the incessant mewling of the media and the ever more righteous right fringers.  Allow me to explain.Trust

You have probably seen it too, but the Republicans are nibbling around the edges of a strategy portraying Hillary as unethical.  It’s unclear what the actual accusations are, but it seems to be a more recent version of anorexic mentality displayed around Whitewater.  You remember Whitewater, the $70 million witch hunt led by the hyper-partisan Kenneth Starr that stained Bill Clinton’s presidency and Monica Lewinsky’s blue dress.

With the Dennis Hastert indictment I was reminded of the ethical quagmire visited upon the country in the late 1990s at the hands and other body parts of the Grand Old Party.  Let’s go to the tape of those who are so easily offended and always have their crosses at the ready to lecture us libruls.

First, there was Henry Hyde who admitted to youthful indiscretions at the tender age of 41.  Hyde’s troubling infidelities came to light after leading the charge against Bill Clinton.  Then came House Speaker Newt Gingrich who was having an affair with someone who was to be his third wife while still married to his second wife with whom he had had an affair while still married to his first wife.  In addition, there were those “small” Gingrich peccadilloes of ethics violations piled upon ethics violations piled upon ethics violations that eventually brought him down.  Then came Gingrich’s replacement, Speaker Bob Livingston who resigned the day of the Clinton impeachment vote for – wait for it – serial marital infidelities.  Then “Hot Tub” Tom DeLay engineered the elevation of Dennis Hastert, the high school teacher turned back bencher Congressman affectionately called “Coach” – the guy who was beyond reproach – the good guy.

Dennis HastertTo make sure this point is not lost:  Leading the procession out of the morality morass, the Republicans turned to an alleged serial pedophile who used his positions of trust and power to abuse young boys.  To measure that abuse by the barometer of money, it was abuse serious enough to warrant $3.5 million in hush money.

Those are just the highlights along Memory Lane, let’s be a little more granular shall we?  There were other seamy scandals like the 2005 resignation of Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.) after he pled guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail and wire fraud, and tax evasion.  There was the 2006 resignation of Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) over allegations he sent sexually explicit emails to teenage male pages — allegations that, it turned out, Hastert and other House leaders had done little or nothing to address, despite repeated warnings, until they exploded in public.

We can’t forget Hot Tub Tom who himself was indicted on charges of money-laundering and campaign finance violations in 2005.  The “Coach” even backed a change in the GOP caucus rules to allow DeLay to retain his leadership post – not exactly a profile in ethical leadership.

Then some of the biggest Congressional scandals in history broke. There was the case of the lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who was convicted along with a raft of other lobbyists and congressional aides in schemes involving Native American casinos. Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and wire fraud in the case and resigned in 2006.

Then there was Rep. Don Sherwood (R-Pa.) who was defeated in 2006 after revelations of an extramarital affair and allegations that he had physically abused his mistress and Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) who lost his seat amid a string of controversies and an investigation into suspected illegal ties to foreign companies.Got Ethics

And then there was Hastert’s sweetheart deal of being brought in on a land deal with little contribution beyond the federal earmark for the construction of an interchange on the land allowing him to net millions or at least enough to make $3.5 million in hush money seem reasonable in hindsight.

This isn’t to say there aren’t Democrats who deserve a prime location in the rogue’s gallery of scallywags because there are, but when Nancy Pelosi was Speaker they were dispatched promptly and efficiently.

What is important here is the next time you hear aspersions cast upon Hillary’s ethics you can be sure the glass house from which those allegations are chucked would be well-advised to be fully insured.

Have a great Wednesday and take this conversation in any direction you might like.






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