Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Eric Holder's remarks about the DOJ's Ferguson investigation.

Here is a summary of Holder's remarks by The Guardian:

  • Attorney general Eric Holder said a “searing” justice department report on racial discrimination by Ferguson police contained “deeply alarming” documentation of “abusive and dangerous” behaviour. 
  • Holder defended a justice department decision not to bring charges against Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the killing last August of Michael Brown. ““I urge you to read this report in full,” he said, addressing skeptics. 
  • Holder said the justice department was ready “to force compliance and implement basic change” to fix routine civil liberties violations in Ferguson. 
  • The feds are not done with Ferguson, Holder said, calling for a “court-enforceable remedial process that includes involvement from community stakeholders as well as independent oversight.” 
  • The department of justice will engage not just Ferguson, but “surrounding municipalities – to reform their law enforcement practices,” Holder said. 
  • A justice department report exposed a pattern of racist and abusive behaviour on the part of Ferguson police and city employees. 
  • The report found that apart from fatal incidents such as the killing of Michael Brown, Ferguson police systematically harassed, over-ticketed, insulted, wrongfully arrested and physically abused African-American residents, with sometimes shattering implications for the lives of the abuse victims. 
  • The report said police dogs were only used against black people and Tasers were over-used. It published racist emails passed among city employees. 
  • Holder called the Ferguson police department a “collection agency” for the city instead of a law enforcement agency.

Here are some of the racist e-mails uncovered by the investigation, courtesy of AATTP:

A November 2008 email stated that President Barack Obama would not be President for very long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years.” 

A March 2010 email mocked African Americans through speech and familial stereotypes, using a story involving child support. One line from the email read: “I be so glad that dis be my last child support payment! Month after month, year after year, all dose payments!” 

An April 2011 email depicted President Barack Obama as a chimpanzee. A May 2011 email stated: “An African-American woman in New Orleans was admitted into the hospital for a pregnancy termination. Two weeks later she received a check for $5,000. She phoned the hospital to ask who it was from. The hospital said, ‘Crimestoppers.’” 

A June 2011 email described a man seeking to obtain “welfare” for his dogs because they are “mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and have no frigging clue who their Daddies are.” 

An October 2011 email included a photo of a bare-chested group of dancing women, apparently in Africa, with the caption, “Michelle Obama’s High School Reunion.” 

A December 2011 email included jokes that are based on offensive stereotypes about Muslims.

Yeah, no racism there.

Potential GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson says being gay is a choice because men turn gay in prison. So he didn't want to be a presidential candidate?

Let me start off by saying I know nothing about gay people.
Courtesy of NBC News:  

Dr. Ben Carson said being gay is "absolutely" a choice, just hours after launching an exploratory committee for 2016. The renowned neurosurgeon-turned-conservative-celebrity said prisons prove this theory, in an interview with CNN that aired on Wednesday morning. "A lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight — and when they come out, they're gay. So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question," he said.

He does realize that sometimes having sex with men is a means for survival in prison right?

Perhaps somebody should let Carson know that a lot of the men that engaging in man on man sex while in prison, go right back to women once they get out.

And besides that if you put a man in a cage for years on end, with no access to women, then he is going to have sex with whoever, or whatever is handy.

If you are gay, you are gay. But if you are in prison you are simply desperate.

Update: Carson has now decided that he should just avoid the topic of homosexuality from now on:  

“I simply have decided I’m not going to really talk about that issue anymore,” Carson said in a phone interview on Hannity’s show on Wednesday. “Every time I’m gaining momentum, the political press says, ‘Let’s talk about gay rights.’ And I’m just not going to fall for that anymore.”

Yeah good luck with that.

Chris Matthews rages against Netanyahu speech, Jon Stewart jokes about it, and Sarah Palin just tries to make a buck.

Courtesy of Raw Story: 

“I’ll get to the heart of this speech now,” Matthews told MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts. “This man from a foreign government walked into the United States legislative chamber and tried to take over U.S. foreign policy. He said, ‘You should trust me, not your president on this. I am the man you should trust, I am your true leader on this question of U.S. geopolitics. To protect yourself, you must listen to me and not this president.’” 

“It was a startling situation,” he continued. “To allow someone to come in — knowing that was going to be their message — to the U.S. Congress. This was a decision made by Boehner and certainly complied with by Netanyahu and his ambassador [Ron Dermer]. They went into the U.S. Congress to take over U.S. foreign policy from the president.” 

“Think it through, what country in the world would let a foreign leader come in and attempt to wrest from the president control of the U.S. foreign policy?” Matthews asked. 

“This was a takeover attempt by Netanyahu with this complying America partners to take American foreign policy out of the hands of the president.”

I watched portions of the speech, and watched several responses to it as well, and I think in this case Matthews is dead on. 

Can any of us imagine this happening to any other President than Barack Obama? I certainly can't.

It is just another indication of how little respect the Republicans demonstrate toward a duly elected two term President of these United States.

Jon Stewart was not impressed with Netanyahu's speech either and called the congressional response to it,  "by far the longest blowjob a Jewish man has ever received."

Of course not all of the Republicans demonstrated the same level of idolatry.
Of course for Sarah Palin every word that fell out of Netanyahu's mouth was a gem, and also an opportunity to sell t-shirts and get more money into the SarahPAC coffers: 

Excellent speech by Prime Minister Netanyahu today! If you want to continue to show your support for Bibi and Israel, check out this bold t-shirt from SarahPAC.

"Great speech wasn't it? Now give me some damn money!"

Gee if we actually let the Prime Minister of Israel set foreign policy for the United States then we will undoubtedly allow him to help talk us into an ill advised war with Iran, just like he did with that ill advised war with Iraq.

I assume this is the Republican's idea of a jobs plan. To send more Americans overseas to fight in senseless wars and leave fewer of them signing up for unemployment benefits here at home.

It appears that Hillary's use of a private e-mail account while Secretary of State was not illegal. But was it wrong?

Courtesy of Mediaite:  

The New York Times reported Monday evening that Hillary Clinton had used a private email account while Secretary of State, which “may have violated federal requirements.” Why the “may have”? 

The issue quickly gets murky. For one, previous secretaries of state had all used personal email accounts; John Kerry is the first to use a State Department email address. Why, besides the 2016 implications, was it a big deal for Clinton to have used a personal email account but not, say, Colin Powell

According to Times reporter Michael Schmidt, who broke the story, new regulations were implemented in 2009 requiring the archiving of electronic correspondence, which were then followed by a major update to the Federal Records Act in 2014 that forbade the use of personal email accounts for government business. 

The former was before Clinton became secretary, the latter after she’d already left. The only 2009 amendment to the law this reporter could find was Executive Action 13489, signed on Obama’s second day in office, governing executive privilege; via Media Matters, a post from the National Archives called the 2014 bill “the first significant changes” to the original 1950 legislation. 

The Times article intimated that Clinton was in violation of pre-2014 regulations governing electronic communications. “Mrs. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department,” Schmidt wrote. “Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act.” 

“At the time Clinton was Secretary, the Federal Records Act didn’t require federal employees to use government accounts, only to preserve records of their communications,” the Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky wrote. “This, Clinton seems to have done.”

In my earlier post about this situation somebody accused me of being a hypocrite since I was so hard on Sarah Palin over HER private e-mail use. 

However if you read my post you will see that I did not defend Hillary, I simply postulated the possibility that she might have laid a trap for the Right Wing with this, and suggested that the White House obviously knew of this private e-mail and did not insist she change to the government e-mail.

Actually I think using the private account was a stupid idea, an opinion that is borne out by the fact that it was hacked. (By the way I feel we should remind everybody that Sarah Palin's e-mail account was not hacked, David Kernell gained access by guessing her security password. Big difference.)

Having said that the real story is whether this private account was illegal, it wasn't, and whether it hurts Hillary politically, and we're not sure yet.

So to be personal for a moment, does this make it less unlikely I will support Hillary in 2016, no it does not. Considering the alternative, how could it?

DOJ finds that Ferguson police department racially biased. No, really? Update!

Body of Michael Brown.
Courtesy of USA Today:

A Justice Department review has found that Missouri's troubled Ferguson Police Department engaged in a broad pattern of racially biased enforcement that permeated the city's justice system, including the use of unreasonable force against African American suspects, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the findings. 

In 88% of cases in which Ferguson police documented the use of force, for example, that force was used against African Americans, according to the official who is not authorized to comment publicly. In addition, in all 14 canine bite incidents in which the suspect's race is known, the person bitten was African American. 

African Americans account for 67% of the population in Ferguson, but they accounted for 85% of the drivers stopped by police, 90% of the people issued tickets and 93% of the people arrested, a three-year examination of suspect stops found. When those cases reached the Municipal Court, authorities collected more fines for suspects' failure to appear than any other charge, mostly from the city's poorest and most vulnerable residents. 

African Americans were more than twice as likely than white drivers to be searched during vehicle stops, but 26% less likely to have contraband, the review found. 

The Ferguson Police Department often charged its black residents with petty crimes. African Americans accounted for 95% of the people charged with walking in the street and 92% of people charged with disturbing the peace.

Well this comes too late to bring justice to Michael Brown, but hopefully it might help to protect the next Michael Brown.

Update: Also found among municipal e-mails was this statement about President Obama: 

Among the report's findings was a racially tinged 2008 message in a municipal email account stating that President Barack Obama would not be president for very long because "what black man holds a steady job for four years."

Perhaps they were thinking of a certain half term quitter from Wasilla. Because our President is in it for the long haul. 

General Petraeus accepts plea deal to avoid jail time.

Courtesy of The Guardian:  

General David Petraeus, the pre-eminent wartime military officer of his generation, will plead guilty in a deal reached with the Justice Department to one count of passing classified information to a lover while he was director of the CIA. 

The Justice Department announced the plea deal in a statement on Tuesday. The deal calls for two years’ probation and a $40,000 fine, with no prison time. 

The FBI recommended that felony charges be brought against Petraeus in January, following an investigation of his relationship with Paula Broadwell, a member of the army reserve and Petraeus’s biographer. 

The plea agreement was filed in the US district court for the western district of North Carolina’s Charlotte division. Broadwell and her family live in Charlotte.

Do you all remember when Roger Ailes attempted to recruit General Petraeus to run against President Obama in 2012?

Cartoon of the day.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

John Boehner blinks, House passes clean DHS bill with no attempt to defund Obama's immigration executive order.

Courtesy of CNN:  

The House cleared legislation Tuesday that will keep the agency operating through the end of September after a standoff last week threatened to shutter the agency and furlough thousands of workers. The 257-167 vote sends the bill to President Barack Obama for his signature. 

Republican House Speaker John Boehner, who rarely casts votes, backed the bill, along with his top lieutenants. A majority of House Republicans opposed the bill. Just 75 GOP lawmakers joined with 182 Democrats to push it across the finish line. 

The legislation does nothing to rein in Obama's immigration executive orders -- a top priority of conservatives. That issue was a sticking point for weeks as Republicans tried to tie DHS funding to the repeal of the orders but the party couldn't overcome Democratic filibusters in the Senate.

Seriously who didn't know that eventually the Republicans were going to have to cave on this?

I mean how did the so-called "party of fighting terrorism" think they were going to be able to justify refusing to fund the Department of Homeland Security?

But you know this is REALLY going to piss off the teabaggers and they are going to work non-stop to remove Boehner from his leadership position.

Hillary Clinton's use of private e-mail account. Scandal? Or no scandal?

I am sure that many of you have already seen this story from the New York Times:  

Hillary Rodham Clinton exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state, State Department officials said, and may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record. 

Mrs. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act. 

It was only two months ago, in response to a new State Department effort to comply with federal record-keeping practices, that Mrs. Clinton’s advisers reviewed tens of thousands of pages of her personal emails and decided which ones to turn over to the State Department. All told, 55,000 pages of emails were given to the department. Mrs. Clinton stepped down from the secretary’s post in early 2013

Her expansive use of the private account was alarming to current and former National Archives and Records Administration officials and government watchdogs, who called it a serious breach. 

“It is very difficult to conceive of a scenario — short of nuclear winter — where an agency would be justified in allowing its cabinet-level head officer to solely use a private email communications channel for the conduct of government business,” said Jason R. Baron, a lawyer at Drinker Biddle & Reath who is a former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration.

This of course has resulted in a veritable feeding frenzy among the Right Wing "news" outlets, which should surprise non one. 

But is it a scandal?

Well not according to her people, or the White House, which I'm sure knew about it all along.

This from Business Insider:  

Shortly after the Times story was published, Business Insider reached out to Clinton's representatives. They put us in touch with two former State Department officials who argued that Clinton was careful to use the address in a manner that went above and beyond regulatory requirements and ensured her communications were preserved. 

The former officials, who requested anonymity to freely discuss Clinton's emails and State Department policy, echoed the notion the former secretary's personalized email address was not kept secret. They said she used it to communicate with over 100 department staffers, other officials, and lawmakers on Capitol Hill. 

Clinton emailed from a personalized domain, Records show it was registered on the day of her confirmation hearing in January 2009. Along with State Department business, the officials said, Clinton also used the email address to communicate with friends and family. 

Her address was revealed in early 2013, shortly after she left the State Department. It was published when a hacker obtained messages written by her former aide, Sidney Blumenthal. 

The president's Principal White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz pointed to the hack when Business Insider emailed to ask whether the White House was aware of Clinton's use of a personal address. 

"This was public years ago," Schultz wrote. 

You know it would seem that if this were a problem the White House would have insisted that Hillary use her government email.

It would also seem that somebody as intelligent and experienced with this kind of thing as Hillary is, would have just automatically done so herself, without having to be told.

Things that make you go, hmmm.

You know many years ago I used to hang sheet rock.

At every job my boss would always make some really obvious, and easy to repair mistake. You know like a seam that was not covered very well, or a screw hole that was not filled in properly.

He said that clients always wanted to find something wrong so that they could get the satisfaction of making somebody who worked for them have to repair something. It made them feel that they had shown who was boss, and received good work from employees who may have done a shoddy job without their attention to detail.

In this way he said they would not simply invent reasons to make you do something over again, just to flex their muscles, and he was usually right about that.

So maybe, just maybe, Hillary has made an obvious mistake. Purposefully left a seam uncovered if you will, to give the Right Wing something to investigate and distract them from potentially more damaging avenues of attack.

Ultimately they will demand the emails, receive them, and find nothing damaging to use against her. 

Just a theory.

Newly released behind the scenes video shows Sarah Palin pimping "Amazing America" to NRA News and demonstrating why she really needs good writers and a teleprompter to help her make any sense.

Okay talk about disjointed speech patterns.

Currently Palin supporters, and her daughter's ghostwriter, are touting her CPAC speech as an indication of the REAL Sarah Palin. However this behind the scenes interview proves just the opposite.

Palin is all over the place in this interview and seems to be having significant trouble completing one thought before she gets distracted by something else.

You know, like usual.

And Palin's ridiculous argument against the FCC's net neutrality move is almost too stupid to comment on.

By the way the "average citizen" rarely knows what's right when it comes to complicated problems. That's why we go to the experts.

With schools closed for a week due to heavy snowfall Ohio teachers volunteer to bring food to underprivileged students who will go hungry without it.

Courtesy of  

On Thursday night, when it became clear that Newport Independent Schools would be closed for a fifth day, Principal Kyle Niederman went into a bit of a panic. 

In a school district where 90 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch, he knew the snow days meant many of his Newport Intermediate students would have gone all week without having had a nutritious meal, or maybe even any meal at all. A fifth day off would mean that some might also go hungry all weekend. 

Niederman fired off an email to his teachers and staff, and on Friday morning nearly two dozen of them showed up at the school to trek across the city in the snow and biting cold, volunteering their time to knock on doors and deliver food to make sure their students were fed. 

They delivered 66 Power Packs, bags of nutritious, nonperishable items provided by the Freestore Foodbank and normally distributed to a school's neediest students on Friday afternoons. 

"We were concerned about our students and wanted to make sure we helped them the best we could," Niederman said. "They'll have food this weekend, and hopefully they'll have a good weekend."

Remember THESE are the people that Governor Scott Walker, and the Republican party, puts at the top of their enemies list.

I have known, and worked with, a lot of teachers in my time and I would say that the vast majority of them would not hesitate to do this as well.

They constantly come in to school when they are supposed to be off, buy supplies with their own money, tutor children after school for no compensation just to help them be successful, and fill in for busy parents when children are in crisis.

I am not a religious person but if I had it in my power to grant sainthood, I know dozens of teachers who would be at the top of my list.

Todd Palin finishes the Iron Dog in the middle of the pack.

"I don't care if you think it 's gross, people are watching."
Courtesy of the Iron Dog Groupie's Facebook page:  

Congratulations to all the teams in this year's brutal Iron Dog! It's the world's longest and toughest snowmachine race – 2200 miles across Alaska – and Todd's been competing in it for 22 years. I made it home in time to join family and friends at the finish line in Fairbanks after having been at the CPAC convention in D.C. the day before where I had the honor of highlighting the United States Military and our veterans. 

The Iron Dog trail was rugged; it sure tested the mettle of these athletes and the metal of their equipment in bone crunching conditions. Todd's Team #11 raced in honor of our vets who endure far worse in the name of securing our freedom. Again this year their cowlings proudly displayed the logo that reminds us of America's loyalty to Chris Kyle and the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation, knowing this can raise awareness and funds for this worthy cause to help wounded warriors.

You know it figures that the family of a woman famous for lying, would use this opportunity to pimp for an organization named after another well known liar. Don'tcha think?

Wow good thing Willow went to hair school. Hey, where's Bristol? Oh yeah, I forgot.
 By the way, not that I want to give Tod Palin too much credit, but more than half of the Iron Dog teams scratched this year and were unable to finish, so the mere fact that he managed to reach the finish line is no small feat.

Of course considering the conditions, it would have seemed smarter to me that they simply cancel the race this year. But hey, what do I know?

Pat Robertson says that God can free you from your slavery to vegetables. Yeah, I don't get it either.

Courtesy of Raw Story: 

“God gave you and me as human beings authority, he gave us dominion over everything on this Earth,” the TV preacher explained on Monday’s 700 Club. “Over all the animals, all the snakes, all the birds, all the plants, all the vegetables.” 

“Cocaine is the product of a vegetable, alcohol is the product of a vegetable, marijuana is a vegetable,” he continued. “And yet, people are enslaved to vegetables. And you were made in the image of God. God made you in his image to reign and rule with him. He gave you incredible authority.” 

“Why would you become a slave to a vegetable? Why? Why would you do it.? 

Robertson said that he had “seen a lot of stuff” in his lifetime so he understood that people had a lot of problems, “but God Almighty can deliver you from the bondage of your addiction.” 

“Your slavery to vegetables, he can set you free,” he insisted.

As Raw Story points out cannabis is a herb, however his argument broke down essentially the minute he thought of it.

Speaking just for myself I would like Pat Robertson to know that even without God I am certainly NOT a slave to any vegetable.

I'm a slave to bacon. 

Morning quote.