At a big news conference in downtown Phoenix on Thursday, the Justice Department's top civil rights lawyer described Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office as an agency out of control.
"At its core, this is an abuse of power case," assistant attorney general Thomas Perez said while announcing a massive civil rights lawsuit against the Arizona lawman.
But despite the tough talk, the reality is that little in the sheriff's office is likely to change anytime soon because, as Perez acknowledged, the lawsuit could take years to resolve.
For Phoenix immigrant rights activist Salvador Reza, the news was something less than exciting. Reza is a longtime critic of Arpaio who was mentioned, though not by name, in the Justice Department's lawsuit as one of his many victims. Reza was arrested by Arpaio's deputies twice in 2010, including once for simply standing across the street from the sheriff's news conference. The lawsuit said it was a classic case of retaliation.
"Don't get me wrong. I think it's good that our Justice Department is actually doing something," Reza told TPM. "But they could have done a lot more."
Reza questioned why it took the Justice Department four years to get to this point, given that investigation began in 2008 under the Bush administration. He also wanted to know the status of the federal criminal investigation into the sheriff's alleged abuse of power, which has been going on nearly as long.
For an activist like Reza, a criminal investigation represents the best hope of removing the sheriff from office. Arpaio is running for his sixth term in office this year and won his last election in 2008 amid even earlier allegations that he used his law enforcement power to retaliate against political enemies. "Arpaio is really a menace to society," Reza said. "Anywhere else he would be in jail."
While the two probes are separate inside the Justice Department, there was at least some indication on Thursday that the civil investigators have paid attention to allegations of criminal wrongdoing.
The 32-page complaint detailed incidents in which Arpaio and his allies, including former elected prosecutor Andrew Thomas, used their offices to launch investigations and file charges against judges and other government officials who criticized them.
Last month, an Arizona Supreme Court disciplinary panel stripped Thomas of his license to practice law because of the crusade. In its ruling, the panel said there was evidence to conclude "beyond a reasonable doubt" that Thomas, Arpaio and two other officials participated in a criminal conspiracy under federal law.
The civil rights suit mentioned the ruling and gave special note to the conspiracy allegation. Perez, however, declined during the news conference to discuss any criminal investigation.
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Nicole already gave everyone at C&L an overview of Lizz Winstead's new book, Lizz Free or Die, when she stopped by here for a chat last week. Lizz continued her tour on the Rachel Maddow Show to discuss the book as well and they talked about their time working together at Air America and Mitt Romney's ridiculous claim that "Republicans are extraordinarily pro-woman."
As they noted, things didn't go so well for the network, but the same cannot be said for everyone that worked there, like Lizz and Rachel, Al Franken and Sam Seder among others.
This is strange and it needs to be shut down immediately. An ID is a legal document so it's hard to see why anything more is required. Modern ID cards are a lot more sophisticated than they were a few decades ago when a fake could be generated easily.Too much.According to the BBC, bars in England are worried over fines for admitting underaged drinkers ? often as high as $8,000. For U.K....
I've wondered about the State of Washington's commitment to the heterosexual lifestyle ever since the first Twilight book came out.
Here's undeniable proof that God exists:
No, I did not feed Cassie any chocolate, but it wouldn't matter if I did. She's a manly dog. She could handle it.
With the presidential race in a bit of a holding pattern (especially with most of us waiting a few days to see what sea change, if any, emanates from the president's historic announcement on Wednesday), today's Wrap discussion will focus on the Senate.
Markos noted earlier this week that the conventional wisdom on where the balance of power in the Senate will come to rest after November has shifted markedly. Whereas once a Republican majority post-2012 was a foregone conclusion, a series of shifts in key races (case in point: the Mourdock nomination in Indiana) have put some races back into contention.
However, champagne corks should remain unpopped: not only are victories in those shifting races still far from guaranteed, but there are also some Democratic races that everyone presumed would remain in the "D" column that are right on the edge of concern. Two of those races had polls drop today that underscore that point: Ohio and New Jersey. Democrats are still the betting favorites in both, but neither incumbent is likely to feel very comfortable right now.
On to the numbers:
PRESIDENTIAL GENERAL ELECTION TRIAL HEATS:
NATIONAL (Gallup Tracking): Romney d. Obama (47-44)DOWNBALLOT POLLING:
NATIONAL (North Star Opinion Research for Resurgent Republic--R): Obama d. Romney (49-42)
NATIONAL (Public Religion Research Institute): Obama d. Romney (47-38)
NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking): Romney d. Obama (49-45)
OHIO (Quinnipiac): Obama d. Romney (45-44)
WASHINGTON (SurveyUSA): Obama d. Romney (50-36); Obama d. Romney and Ron Paul (40-27-20)
FL-18 (Frederick Polls for Murphy): Patrick Murphy (D) 45, Rep. Allen West (R) 45A few thoughts, as always, await you just past the jump...
MA-SEN (MassInc): Elizabeth Warren (D) 43, Sen. Scott Brown (R) 41
NJ-SEN (Fairleigh Dickinson): Sen. Robert Menendez (D) 42, Joseph Kyrillos (R) 33
(2013) NYC-MAYOR (Quinnipiac): Christine Quinn (D) 48, Ray Kelly (R) 33; Bill DeBlasio (D) 46, Kelly 34; William Thompson (D) 46, Kelly 34
OH-SEN (PPP): Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) 45, Josh Mandel (R) 37
OH-SEN (Quinnipiac): Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) 46, Josh Mandel (R) 40
TX-SEN--R (Perception Insight for a pro-Dewhurst SuperPAC): David Dewhurst 57, Ted Cruz 16, Tom Leppert 12, Craig James 4
WI-GOV (Rasmussen): Gov. Scott Walker (R) 50, Tom Barrett (D) 45
Ellen DeGeneres applauded President Obama’s endorsement of marriage equality with a standing ovation during her daytime talk show on Wednesday. “What an amazing day for our country. President Obama just came out in support of same-sex marriage,” DeGeneres, who is married to her partner Portia de Rossi, announced. She added: “Wow! Wow! There have been moments in history when someone has had the courage to stand up for what they believe in and that one action changes everything. And I hope this is one of those times.” “Mr. President, to you I say, thank you, very very much. Thank you!” Watch it:
Should This Man Have His Finger on The Button?[...]
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Warren Buffett's annual letter to shareholders is one of the most highly anticipated reports in the financial community. (You can find a copy of his latest letter here)
Every year, investors around the world anxiously wait to hear what the world's most prolific investor has to say about what lies … [visit site to read . . . → Read More: This "Hated" Sector Could be Buffett’s New Favorite
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Despite two recent attempts, Congress has not yet been willing to deep-six subsidies to the fossil-fuel industry even though the oil industry is generating record profits and, together with the centuries-old coal industry, continuing to burden the atmosphere with carbon emissions and kill thousands of Americans a year by pumping their lungs full of toxic pollution.
These past failures aside, Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, joined Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) Thursday to introduce legislation that would chop more than $113 billion out of subsidies for the oil and coal industries over the next 10 years. Here's the announcement:
As the sponsors point out, whatever else can be said about it, the fossil-fuel energy industry has no need of taxpayer subsidies. Last year, the five largest oil
companies?BP, Chevron, Exxon-Mobil, Conoco-Phillips and Shell?alone made $137 billion in profit. In the first quarter this year, their total was $33.5 billion. That's $4143 every second. Together, they spent $13.9 million lobbying Congress in that same quarter.
Although it's not included in the Sanders-Ellison bill, there is a perfect place to spend some or all of that saved money: subsidies for solar, wind, geothermal and other renewable energy sources that don't add to the atmospheric carbon load and don't create pulmonary and other health hazards. Shifting $100 billion of fossil-fuel subsidies over the next 10 years into backing for renewables would go far toward building an alternative energy infrastructure by leveraging hundreds of billions in private investment. Indeed, such subsidies have already helped Iowa to generate 19 percent of its electricity from wind turbines.
The loudest complainers about subsidies for renewable energy sources are the mouthpieces of the beneficiaries of fossil-fuel subsidies. And, as noted in Right-wing memo urges creation of bogus grassroots effort to undermine support for wind energy, while lobbying to maintain their own subsidies, the fossil-fuel industry is willing to do whatever it takes to obliterate subsidies for renewables. The claim is made that subsidies for renewables are somehow of a different order, an unfair arrangement that goes way beyond those accorded the fossil-fuel industry. On the contrary, you can read here how solar and wind subsidies follow a path well known to the oil, gas, coal and nuclear industries.
As noted, the Sanders-Ellison bill won't be approved by the Senate and certainly not the House. There's a pretty fair chance it won't even get out of committee. But that doesn't make it mere shadow-boxing. One thing that should have been learned long ago from the right wing, whether it's attacking reproductive rights or backing industries that are killing us and the environment, is that persistence, the relentless pursuit of one's goals, is crucial to reaching the desired destination.
So, despite the inevitable cries of we've-heard-this-all-before and this-isn't-going-anywhere-so-why-bother, it needs to keep being brought up until it is heard and actually gets where we need it to go. Which is the in-box on that desk in the Oval Office.
It was one (fabulous, uplifting, inspiring) thing to watch the president of the United States come out for same-sex marriage on Wednesday. It was whole 'nother to see, within 24 hours of Barack Obama?s revelation, his campaign immediately begin to use Mitt Romney?s opposition to marriage equality against him in an online video. You might have expected the Obama folks to step back after the president?s announcement and say, ?We?ve settled that, now let?s get back to talking about jobs and bin Laden.? They?ve done the opposite.?Mitt Romney: Backwards on Equality? is not the most stylish spot you?ll ever behold. But it effectively points out how far right Romney is on the issue, noting that he also opposes far less controversial civil unions?which even George W. Bush supported. The video also flashes a series of uncontroversial protections for gay couples that Romney would disallow. It all plays into a larger context for the campaign, which is working to paint Romney as a hardline reactionary?a cold, flinty right-winger who?s the polar opposite of the ?Forward?-looking president.
Romney seems weirdly hell-bent on helping Obama define him just so. Today, afterThe Washington Post?s front-page story about Romney?s prep-school bullying of two gay classmates, the presumptive nominee went on Fox News Radio to respond. Here was a chance to turn the ugly story around?an opportunity for the candidate to apologize with heartfelt sincerity, and to speak out passionately against anti-gay bullying. He could have tried to make the case that while he?s anti-marriage equality, he?s not anti-gay. He could have gotten real and expressed true remorse. He did none of those obvious things. Instead, he non-apologized: ?I did some dumb things, and if anybody was hurt by that or offended by it I obviously apologize, but overall, high-school years were a long time ago.? He claimed no memory of the harassment others remember vividly and shrugged it all off as "hijinks and pranks" that sometimes went too far.
Yep: Just the ticket when you?re running against an opponent who?s portraying you as backward, extreme?as, in many ways, a grown-up political bully out to make life miserable for Americans who aren?t posh enough for prep school.
"I have the dubious distinction of being rated the poorest man in the Congress and the vice president assuming the office with the least assets. I hope they're referring to financial assets."
?Vice President Joe Biden
Republicans might hope that Obama?s stance on same-sex marriage will boost Romney?s standing with evangelical voters. But a new poll by the Public Religion Research Institute indicates that he doesn?t need much help: Romney leads among white evangelicals by almost 50 percentage points.