Friday, May 29, 2015

Last Call For Ol' Dirty Hastert

And this afternoon the alternate pedal limb cover has impacted the linoleum at terminal velocity on the Denny Hastert story.

Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert paid a man to conceal a sexual relationship they had while the man was a student at the high school where Hastert taught, a federal law enforcement official told NBC News on Friday. 
The official spoke on condition of anonymity. Tribune reported earlier in the day that two unnamed federal officials said that Hastert paid a man from his past to conceal sexual misconduct. 
Hastert was indicted Thursday on charges that he structured bank withdrawals to avoid federal reporting requirements and later lied about it to the FBI. 
The indictment said that Hastert was paying an unidentified person from his past to conceal Hastert's "prior misconduct." The indictment did not specify the alleged misconduct or name the person. 
The Yorkville, Illinois, school district where Hastert taught and coached wrestling from 1965 to 1981 said that it had "no knowledge of Mr. Hastert's alleged misconduct, nor has any individual contacted the District to report any such misconduct."

Needless to say, this is an ugly, hideous mess, and there's going to be a lot more.  It's notable that the only reason Hastert became Speaker of the House in the first place was that after Newt Gingrich, the GOP rank and file went out of their way to find someone who wasn't mired in scandal.

Many questions remain, of course.  The answer to those questions will raise more questions, I would think.

The Kentucky Horse Race Is Set

The GOP gubernatorial primary here in Kentucky got pretty wild earlier this month, in one of the ugliest campaigns I can remember. When the smoke cleared, Glibertarian punching bag Matt Bevin led state Ag Commissioner James Comer by a mere 83 votes. The re-canvass of the state’s voting machines didn’t change that lead in the least, and today was Comer’s last chance to file for a full recount, on his own dime.

Comer instead threw in the towel this morning, and it’ll be Matt Bevin versus current Democratic state Attorney General Jack Conway for the big house in Frankfort.

Comer released a statement emphasizing his support for Bevin, “Within minutes of receiving the results of the recanvass, I called Matt Bevin to concede and congratulate him on a hard fought victory. I asked Matt to afford me the opportunity to personally contact a few of my strongest supporters across the state to again thank them for their support and tell them about my concession. I promised Matt that I would release my statement prior to his Friday morning press conference with the Republican down ballot candidates.” 
Comer had until Friday afternoon to request a recount. Bevin will face Democratic candidate Jack Conway in the 2016 race for Kentucky governor.

And as I’ve said before, Bevin is the guy that lost to Mitch the Turtle in last year’s Senate primaries because even Republicans here thought he was bonkers, because he couldn’t bring his glibertarian self to condemn illegal cockfighting in the state when a reporter caught him on tape at a cockfighting rally. McConnell smoked him like a turkey. And now he’s the candidate because about four percent (one-third of the 12% total primary turnout) of the state’s registered Republicans voted for him a few weeks back.

Conway better not screw this up, because if this asshole Bevin ends up Governor, believe me when I say he’s going to make Greg Abbott of Texas and Rick Scott of Florida look sane by comparison…

Net Gains For The Needy

If you want to know what the big deal over regulating broadband internet access as a public utility is and what it actually means for Americans, well we can start with this.

The Federal Communications Commission is proposing to expand its Lifeline program to help subsidize Internet service for low-income Americans.

The plan floated Thursday by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler could face resistance from some Republicans who point to lingering waste and inefficiencies in the $1.7 billion program, which helps low-income individuals pay for phone service.

Wheeler and the two other Democrats on the commission have made the update a priority, saying the program, first started in the 1980s, needs to adapt to current technology. While nearly all high-income individuals have access to broadband, studies have shown less than half of households making $25,000 or less have access.

The commission is set to vote on the proposal next month. A final order would have to be crafted and approved before any changes take hold.

The plan seeks to establish minimum service requirements on companies to make sure speeds and Internet data keep up with modern demand. The commission did not outline those baselines and will instead seek comment on them. 
The Lifeline program was created in the 1980s to help low-income households receive landline telephone service. It was later updated to help foot the bill for mobile service as well. The program currently offers a $9.25 reimbursement for those services, paid for by fees on carriers that are usually later tacked on to customers’ phone bills.

The proposal Thursday does not seek to increase that $9.25 reimbursement and would keep in place the limit of one subsidy per household, meaning eligible customers could either spend it on broadband or phone service.

FCC officials could not say how many of the 12 million current participants would choose to use their subsidy differently. They also said it is too early to predict how many new participants the inclusion of broadband would attract.

So updating a Reagan-era phone subsidy to instead allow people to use the same program (and the same money) to instead get broadband internet access will end up being "Obama's buying votes with free internet".

Just watch.


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