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Gender: Male
Hometown: Detroit Area, MI
Home country: USA
Current location: San Francisco, CA
Member since: Wed Oct 29, 2008, 02:53 PM
Number of posts: 7,687

About Me

Partner, father and liberal Democrat. I am a native Michigander living in San Francisco who is a citizen of the world.

Journal Archives

Not just the Duggars: Arkansas DHS keeps giving Christian conservatives a pass on child abuse

Two recent sex abuse cases involving the Duggar family and state Rep. Justin Harris — politically connected Arkansas religious conservatives — reveal serious problems in the state’s Department of Human Services.

A sexual molestation case involving Josh Duggar, the reality TV star and former high-ranking employee of the anti-LGBT Family Research Council, has dominated national news for more than a week as continuing revelations suggest the teen and his family may have received preferential treatment from authorities.

TLC has suspended airings of the family’s “19 Kids and Counting” program, but it has not yet been canceled despite the loss of several major advertisers.

As the Arkansas Times reported, Harris and his wife, Marsha Harris, have not faced any consequences since news broke in March that they gave away two adopted daughters to a man who later sexually assaulted one of the girls – although state legislators changed a state law to prevent others from doing the same thing.


Salon: I could’ve been a Duggar wife: I grew up in the same church, and the abuse scandal doesn’t shock me

Unlike most of the writers covering the Duggar sex scandal, I was raised in Advanced Training Institute (ATI), the fundamentalist Christian organization with which the family is affiliated. Joshua Duggar’s confession of sexually molesting young girls in his family’s home when he was a teenager didn’t surprise me, nor should it surprise anyone with any intimate knowledge about this organization, because ATI’s theological beliefs and practices cultivate an environment where women and children are more vulnerable to rape and sexual abuse. Ironically, the same theological beliefs and practices at the heart of this scandal are the same beliefs that created the Duggars as a media phenomenon, and drew viewers and fans to their TLC show “19 Kids and Counting.”

Non-mainstream religious sects have certainly been enjoying a cultural moment on television: “The Following,” “Sister Wives,” “Breaking Amish.” Netflix’s dark comedy “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” explores the media hype around religious cult survivors in satirical detail. For me, though, that show should have come with a trigger warning, because in many ways, I am a real Kimmy Schmidt — a woman who spent her adolescence trapped inside a metaphorical bunker, and then was thrust into a world that she had never been prepared to be a part of.

The Duggars didn’t emerge from a subterranean bunker, though. They’ve been on TV promoting the fundamentalist Christian theology of ATI since their first special in 2004 (“14 Children and Pregnant Again!”). ATI is a Christian homeschool organization that hosts seminars worldwide, provides homeschooling curriculum, and even runs its own paramilitary training center. At one point, it was strongly affiliated with a Christian correspondence course law school. Its members are not concentrated in one area, and yet they maintain insular groups and often form churches in which all members are affiliated with ATI and/or follow its basic principles. Referred to as “Gothardism” within fundamentalist Christian circles, the teachings of ATI form an ideological system of practices based on the extremely strict, fundamentalist, and idiosyncratic Biblical interpretations of the organization’s founder, Bill Gothard – a man who, in 2014, stepped down as head of ATI following allegations of sexual misconduct with young girls.

The allegations against “Mr. Gothard” (as he is respectfully and worshipfully referred to by his acolytes) were an open secret among group members for many years. As a friend who worked at ATI headquarters once said to me with a wink: “The prettiest girls are always chosen to work the closest with Mr Gothard.”


Politico Writer: 'Some Black Lives Really Don't Matter'

Politico magazine on Thursday published an op-ed by conservative writer Rich Lowry of the National Review bearing the headline: '#SomeBlackLivesDontMatter."

Lowry, a regular contributor to Politico magazine, argued that after the deaths of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray (whose name was originally misspelled throughout the piece as "Freddy Gray"), civil rights protestors complained much about police brutality but ignored deadly crime.

"Let’s be honest: Some black lives really don’t matter," he wrote, calling the #BlackLivesMatter movement, "a lie."

"If you are a young black man shot in the head by another young black man, almost certainly no one will know your name," he added.

The piece crescendoed to a section arguing that contrary to protestors, police need to crack down harder on what conservatives and others often call "black-on-black" crime:

The implication is clear: More people need to be arrested in Baltimore, not fewer. And more need to be jailed. If black lives truly matter, Baltimore needs more and better policing and incarceration to impose order on communities where a lawless few spread mayhem and death.


Ex-trooper: Duggars hid full extent of abuse

A former Arkansas state trooper claims the Duggar family concealed the extent of their son's alleged fondling of underage girls when the patriarch of the family turned to him for help disciplining the teenager more than a decade ago, the tabloid In Touch reports.

The tabloid broke the original story that Josh Duggar, the eldest son of the Duggar family, from the TLC reality show "19 Kids and Counting," had allegedly molested girls when he was a teenager. It published a 2006 police report on the incident.

Duggar has since apologized for "acting inexcusably" as a teenager and has resigned as executive director of the Family Research Council's lobbying arm.


Ann Kirkpatrick to challenge John McCain for Senate in 2016

Republicans have a big built-in advantage in red-leaning Arizona. But Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who announced on Tuesday that she’ll challenge GOP Sen. John McCain in 2016, may be the party’s best chance at taking the Senate seat from the longtime lawmaker.

Boasting about her Arizona roots and small business experience, the 65-year-old, three-term lawmaker from Flagstaff said in a video announcing her bid that while she respects McCain’s service to the country, “I just believe our state’s changing.”

“Arizonans should have a real choice who they send to the United States Senate,” she added.

While McCain, who is seeking a sixth term, has name recognition – especially as a former Republican presidential nominee and current chairman of the Senate Armed Services committee – one recent poll shows him struggling among Arizona voters. According to a survey earlier this month by the left-leaning Public Policy Polling, just 41% said they approved of McCain’s job performance, compared to 50% who disapprove. To make matters worse, just 21% who identified themselves as “very conservative” said they approved of how the lawmaker was doing.

In a hypothetical, head-to-head matchup, McCain is leading Kirkpatrick by just six points – 42% to 36%– according to PPP, with 23% saying they aren’t sure.


Josh Duggar sued Arkansas in 2007 because they investigated his sexual assaults

Josh Duggar filed a lawsuit against Arkansas’ Department of Human Services in 2007, shortly after the agency began investigating him for multiple charges of sexual assault, In Touch Weekly reports.

Though Springdale police declined to prosecute Josh Duggar for molesting several girls — including some of his sisters — in 2006, the department referred Duggar’s file to the state’s Families in Need of Services agency, a body that monitors criminal cases against juveniles. Families in Need, in turn, informed Arkansas’ Department of Human Services of the allegations against the former star in TLC’s hit reality show, “19 Kids and Counting.”

During the course of the Department of Human Services’ investigative proceedings, Josh Duggar took issue with the municipal entity and filed suit. “A trial was held on August 6, 2007,” writes In Touch Weekly. However, “the results of the investigation into the Duggars and Josh’s trial are sealed.”

Born on March 3, 1988, Josh Duggar would have been 19 years old at the time of his trial. ArkansasOnline points out that one of Duggar’s victims is still a minor. Even if the survivor is nearing 18 years of age, she would have been at most 9 years old during the summer her brother appeared in court to defend himself against years of sexual assault charges.


Arkansas Trooper Chosen By Duggar Listed 'Kinki Kids' As Online Interest

The Arkansas state trooper who reportedly gave the young Josh Duggar a “very stern talk” once had a Yahoo profile in which he detailed his own sexual interest in children, according to a 2009 court document.

The Pulaski County, Arkansas, “risk assessment” document, which is publicly available online and was posted by Jezebel on Wednesday, detailed the criminal history of the former officer, Joe Hutchens, who is now serving a 56-year sentence on child porn charges.

When Hutchens was still working as a trooper in 2006, Jim Bob Duggar approached him with the information that the teenaged Josh had sexually molested someone, according to a police report obtained by InTouch. Josh had, in fact, "forcibly fondled" five underage girls, some of whom were his sisters. Hutchens did not officially report the teen’s actions but instead gave him a “very stern talk,” the report said...

The document states that Hutchens’ Yahoo profile username was “dadsluv2002” and that his profile listed such interests as “Kinki Kids,” “Child Play series,” “Strangers with Candy,” “Puberty” and “Preschools.” The report also states that between 2004 and 2005, Hutchens “spent considerable time on his computer viewing child porn.”


Duggar Dad's Political Platform: Incest Should Be Punishable by Death

Last week, 19 Kids and Counting’s Josh Duggar admitted that he molested his sisters when he was a teenager. Though his parents Jim Bob and Michelle successfully helped him avoid prosecution for his crimes, a couple of men have defended the way the Duggars handled the abusive situation in their home. Mike Huckabee has stood by the family in the wake of the scandal, and Jessa Duggar’s father-in-law Michael Seewald has attested that Jim Bob and Michelle “acted in a way that godly parents should.”

But what does Jim Bob think of his own response to his son’s familial abuse? In a brief statement to People, Jim Bob and Michelle said last week that “that dark and difficult time caused us to seek God like never before.” Maybe that’s because Jim Bob publicly stated during his 2002 campaign for U.S. Senate that he thinks incest should be punishable by death.

Jim Bob’s platform on his campaign website—preserved via web cache—states that he believes “rape and incest represent heinous crimes and as such should be treated as capital crimes.”

Jim Bob lost the Republican nomination for Senate to Arkansas’ incumbent Senator Tim Hutchinson. His son Josh remained very much alive and went on to molest several underage girls including some of his sisters from 2002-2003.


Club For Growth running ads on behalf of Alan Grayson

“In a rare encroachment into a Democratic primary, the conservative Club for Growth is airing a television ad that attacks Florida Senate candidate Patrick Murphy for supporting the Export-Import Bank and praises potential rival Alan Grayson for opposing the credit agency for American businesses,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

“The ad is part of a $1 million advertising campaign by the Club for Growth, a free-market group that casts Ex-Im spending as corporate welfare and is best known for attacking centrist Republicans.”


Florida Man beat relative over how she cooked eggs

A St. Petersburg man faces charges after beating a woman because he didn't like how she cooked eggs, according to The Smoking Gun.

Cory Lee Shinkman, 23, allegedly followed the woman out the back door, pushed her against a dresser and scratched her.

When questioned, he initially said he was hit first, but witnesses disagreed.

Shinkman was released from the Pinellas County jail after posting $1,500 bond. The Smoking Gun reports that he has been charged with battery before.

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