Last night, state prosecutors released a large amount of evidence — including 183 pages of documents and numerous multimedia files — related to their murder case against George Zimmerman. Here are eight notable pieces evidence that were just made public:
1. Two days after Trayvon Martin’s death a woman called the police to say that George Zimmerman has “racist tendencies” and is “fully capable of instigating a confrontation.”
The woman refused to identify herself.
2. PHOTO: Trayvon Martin’s can of Arizona Iced Tea
According to the police, Martin’s body was under the yellow tarp in this photo.
3. The lead police investigator wanted to charge Zimmerman with manslaughter.
“The encounter between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin was ultimately avoidtable by Zimmerman, if Zimmerman had remained in his vehicle and waitied the arrival of law enforcement, or conversely if he had identified himself to Martin as a concerned citizen and initiated dialogue in an effort to dispel each party’s concern.” The lead investigator wanted to charge Zimmerman with manslaughter notwithstanding the fact he believed it was Zimmerman, not Martin, yelling for help on the 911 tapes.
4. PHOTO: The gun George Zimmerman used to shoot Trayvon Martin.
5. One witness was “adamant that there was no physical fighting at the time the gunshot rang out.”
6. PHOTO: New picture of George Zimmerman the night of the shooting
7. Trayvon Martin’s father initially said he did not believe his son was the one calling for help on the 911 tapes.
“Help keep our community safe…Call George Zimmerman.”
9. VIDEO: Trayvon Martin buys Skittles and an iced tea at 7-11 minutes before his death.
Some critical evidence, however, was not disclosed. All of Zimmerman’s statements to the police, for example, were exempt from disclosure at this time under Florida law.
[Mitt Romney invokes Reverend Jeremiah Wright during interview with Sean Hannity]
Ah, I smell the odor of desperation in the morning. When the Fox polls are showing Obama pulling ahead of Romney, it is required that Mitt Romney's billionaire boys step up with a proposal for a smear, and so they have. Disturbed that the President is well-liked, this particular proposal is to mount a coordinated media campaign to make him a little less likable.
I should hasten to add that since this story originally broke in the New York Times, the Obama campaign has denounced the plan and accused Mitt Romney of failing to lead to a higher ground, Romney has responded by repudiating it outright after the Obama campaign called him out on it, and the originator, Joe Ricketts (founder of TD Ameritrade and Chicago Cubs owner), has now rejected it while claiming he is just an independent who is tired of government spending.
Such are the days in the life of a national campaign. Repudiated or not, the 54-page proposal is an instructive look at how these billionaire idiots hatch their plan, get PR flacks to put together a proposal, and agree to write a ginormous check for the whole shebang.
The trial balloon went up earlier this year, when Mitt Romney invoked Jeremiah Wright in an interview with Sean Hannity, who loves to mention Wright's name whenever he can, preferably in concert with Bill Ayers'. It gives Hannity a tingle up his leg every single time, and Mitt obliged (audio at the top).
It begins with an image:
The next 53 pages detail the plan to roll out a coordinated billboard, radio, TV ad and social media campaign during the Democratic convention which is intended to make independent voters dislike Barack Obama more than they do already. Never mind that this was tried and failed in 2008, never mind that then-candidate Hillary Clinton flogged the Jeremiah Wright boogie-man until she forced then-candidate Barack Obama into one of the finest moments of his candidacy, never mind that the overt racism of that campaign was so repugnant to so many that it no longer mattered what Jeremiah Wright said or what he actually meant. It failed, and failed miserably. I guess Ricketts figured it could be done better.
With the assistance of PR flack strategist and principal of Strategic Perceptions, Inc. Fred Davis, a plan was hatched. It would involve finding "an articulate black man" and developing a narrative that "explains" how Barack Obama isn't such a nice guy, but a complete doofus who is a doofus because he listened to his "radical black pastor" for all those years.
And so it begins. The report first articulates the goal. The words "they" and "their" refer to independent voters, the target for this campaign:
The plan was to roll out the campaign slowly, concurrent with the convention. They had planned a ridiculous 5-minute video that would be the centerpiece of their new domain "CharacterMattersPAC.com" (and .net and .org) clipping the well-known pieces of Wright's sermons and linking them to the President in ridiculous ways.
Understand, the goal of this campaign was not to put forward some kind of smear. It was simply to make Barack Obama unlikable. Voters aren't that stupid. They weren't last time and they're not this time, but this is the radical crazy streak of conservatives that ooze racism, sexism, and a whole lot of unlikability.
Fred Davis, Republican Party "Strategist"
Which brings me to Fred Davis, author of this crazy proposal. Fred Davis mostly works for ultra-conservative Republicans, though he did manage to put together a few ads for John McCain in 2008. He's run ad campaigns for Christine O'Donnell, Sarah Palin, and Carly Fiorina. Yes, Davis is the father of the incredibly cheesy and amazingly stupid "Demon Sheep" ad, which went viral but didn't do a darn thing to help elect Fiorina. Davis is the nephew of ultra-conservative Senator James Inhofe, too.
Via Washington Post, a fascinating portrait of the man behind the Demon Sheep:
One morning Davis is on his laptop putting the finishing touches on "Mourning in America," a 60-second spot that will air nationally beginning Wednesday. Davis designed it as a reverse take on "Morning in America," the optimistic 1984 ad that evoked American renewal and was a centerpiece of President Ronald Reagan's reelection campaign.
In Davis's version -- paid for by Citizens for the Republic, the modern-day offshoot of Reagan's political action committee -- the narrator has a similarly deep voice and there are eerily similar montages of flags, weddings, back yards and downtown streets. But instead of talking about homeownership and new jobs, low interest rates and decreasing inflation, Davis's narrator warns of foreclosures and unemployment to paint an America in decline under Obama.
Davis is at his glass conference table trying to dial into a conference call. Voice-over veteran Ben Holland is on the other end in a sound studio reading the script in his deep baritone. But Davis can't get the speakerphone to work. "I have every technological marvel known to man here and I can't operate a single thing," Davis says.
Nor, it seems, can he figure out how to smear President Obama, a man who has shown himself to be of impeccable character and above such petty smears. It just drives conservatives mad to the point of frothing at the mouth that they can't find any infidelity or financial malfeasance to bandy about the campaign trail, so they resort to his otherness, his blackness, the fact that he's not like us.
Here's an unfortunate fact for those white guys inventing this kind of racist claptrap. The majority of people in this country are not white. That's a fact. They'd better learn to get over their fetish with whiteness, and start embracing what is rapidly becoming the land of white, black, brown and everything in between.
Since Joe Ricketts cashed in a pretty chunk of TD Ameritrade stock in order to finance this campaign, I'm certain we will see something in the months and days ahead that isn't exactly like this one, but with the same goal. Figure that an "independent" campaign intended to hit at President Obama's "likability" is a campaign financed by Joe Ricketts.
Update: This story has gained so much traction that Romney felt he needed to hold a press conference, where this happened, via Kasie Hunt:
@kasie Romney on his quote to Sean Hannity re: Rev. Wright: "I stand by what I said, whatever it was."
So I think it's reasonable to assume that when the dust dies down from this story, they'll proceed with the plan, don't you think? In the meantime, Rahm Emanuel is, well, apoplectic.
LGBT advocates in Australia are calling a clip from the debate show Q&A a “watershed moment” in the nation’s struggle over marriage equality. In the short clip, Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey responded to a question about his opposition to same-sex marriage and why be believes he and his wife are better parents than Finance Minister Penny Wong and her female partner. After Hockey’s response, Wong, clearly a bit shaken by the unexpected question, reacted with quiet confidence, “I know what my family is worth”:
HOCKEY: I must confess my views have changed since I’ve had children… I think in this life we’ve got to aspire to give our children what I believe is the very best circumstances, and that’s to have a mother and a father. [...]
WONG: Well there’s almost nothing I can say… It is sad, I think that some families have to feel that they have to justify who they are. Because when you say those things, Joe, what you’re saying to not just me, but to people like me, is that the most important thing in our lives, which is the people we love, is somehow less good, less valued. If you believe that, you believe that, but I have a different view.
MODERATOR: Is it hurtful?
WONG: Of course it is. But, you know, I know what my family is worth.
Wong’s office has been overwhelmed by calls and messages of support, and the clip is quickly going viral. While this may have more direct political ramifications in Australia, the calm, quiet pride Wong expresses in her family will no doubt resonate across the globe.
5th Column Mouse [...]
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Consistent in its suicidal tendencies, the Greek political system failed this week to come to an agreement on forming a coalition government. The leaders of Greece?s political parties?as we know from the published minutes of the meetings with the President of the Republic?showed themselves, with one or two dignified exceptions, tragically unable to rise to the occasion. New elections have now been called. The outcome on June 17, or even the mounting uncertainty of the pre-election period itself, could spell the end of Greece?s membership of the euro.
Two factors determined the inability to form a government after the May 6 election. The first was the sharp rebuke to the two (formerly) major parties, New Democracy and PASOK, who lost nearly 60 percent of their combined voting share and were thus, even in tandem, two seats short of an absolute majority in parliament. The second was the unwillingness of the parties of the non-communist Left?SYRIZA and the Democratic Left?to enter into a coalition.
Of these parties, most attention has focused on SYRIZA, a coalition of forces ranging from the moderate to the extreme Left, which came in a shockingly close second with nearly 17 percent of the vote. The central message of SYRIZA?s pre-election campaign was the rejection of the terms of Greece?s bailouts. It has called for unilaterally writing off most of Greece?s public debt, has opposed wage and pension cuts, all forms of privatization (in fact it has called for the nationalization of major enterprises and banks), and has stood against the liberalization of the country?s closed professions.
Alexis Tsipras, the 37-year old former student radical who leads the party, was pressed on all sides to join a coalition that would seek to renegotiate the loan agreement so as to relax its terms and allow some breathing space to the free-falling Greek economy. Predictably, he refused, seeing no reason to injure himself by associating with PASOK and New Democracy and with the hard decisions of governing. It was clear from the discussions in the presidential palace and from his public statements that his aim was to lead the country to another election, in the hope of further strengthening his position. It is a strategy seemingly validated by the first batch of post-election polls?even if catastrophic for the country.
The pressure on SYRIZA came not only from New Democracy and PASOK, but also from Fotis Kouvelis, leader of the Democratic Left, a party formed during the previous parliament from the more moderate elements of SYRIZA. Kouvelis has always emphasized Greece?s membership of the euro as a top priority, despite also being against many aspects of the second bailout. His party controlled 19 seats after the election, so the numbers were there for the formation of a coalition government with New Democracy and PASOK. But he insisted, to the bitter end, that he would not support a coalition without the participation of SYRIZA. Evangelos Venizelos, the boss of the center-left PASOK, was also determined to bring Tsipras inside the governing tent. The reasons are obvious: both PASOK and the Democratic Left feared that if they remained in government, and SYRIZA continued to rail against hated austerity, from the raised platform of the official opposition no less, their parties would be on a fast-track to electoral oblivion.
Greek politicians now find themselves in a new pre-election period, in conditions of heightened, dangerous uncertainty. Talk is again rife?and becoming increasingly specific?about a Greek exit from the eurozone and what its consequences would be. This discussion is pushing up bond spreads in Spain and Italy and complicating negotiations between the new French president Francois Hollande and the German chancellor about the reorientation?which even Angela Merkel now seems to accept the need for?away from austerity and towards growth and employment stimulation.
Most urgently, it has provoked what is referred to by analysts as a ?bank jog? on Greek banks by nervous depositors, who are increasingly afraid that their savings will be turned overnight into massively devalued drachmas. If the ?jog? turns into a run and the ECB does not take the necessary measures to provide liquidity, Greece?s position within the euro will become untenable, forcing the country to leave the currency, print new money, and impose capital controls in order to keep the banking system from totally collapsing.
This downward spiral is reinforced by inflammatory proposals by SYRIZA, like the 75 percent tax on all income exceeding 500,000 euros and a 1 percent tax on turnover regardless of whether the firm in question is profitable and compulsory loans by depositors to the state. It is also reinforced by provocative statements from European officials, above all by German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble, who see no trouble with existing Greek economic policies?despite the 22 percent unemployment rate, which jumps to 53 percent for young adults.
Voices of reason may still prevail. Merkel, unlike her incendiary finance minister, recently spoke about her determination to keep Greece in the eurozone and declared herself ?open? to a stimulus program to help revive growth in the depression-plagued country. Under pressure from Tsipras, and more so from the deteriorating situation in Spain and the anti-austerity mandate of Francois Hollande, Europe will offer the Greek government carrots (in the form of European investment programs and more relaxed deficit targets) as well as sticks.
It is still realistic to expect this could be the outcome of the latest bout of political paralysis and financial market mayhem. But the scenario of disorderly default and a Greek exit from the euro has also gained an unprecedented level of credibility in the last few days.
Volcker rule co-authors Jeff Merkley and Carl Levin think that the JPMorgan Chase "Fail Whale" trade offers an opportunity to get the regulatory apparatus back on point with their vision of the rule, one that they say should be stronger in barring the[...]
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Tom Coburn has heard enough posturing about that $800,000 conference the Government Services Agency held in Las Vegas. He’s got a bigger target: The $36 million taxpayers will spend on the Democratic and Republican conventions this summer....
Earlier this year, Coburn put the public financing of the conventions as the number one item in his annual “Wastebook” of the most wasteful expenditures of taxpayer money. Now Coburn has written a letter to RNC Chairman Reince Priebus and DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz asking them to give the money back.
“Can we agree once and for all the party is over when it comes to travel and meetings paid for by the taxpayers?” Coburn wrote today in a letter to Priebus and Wasserman-Schultz. “If you agree, I would urge you to reject the millions of dollars of public financing for your 2012 party convention provided by the federal government through the Presidential Election Campaign Fund (PECF) and to return the money to the federal government.”
The convention financing comes from a taxpayer fund that comes from the so-called $3 check-off — the little box on your tax return where taxpayers can dedicate $3 of their income tax to go toward public financing of political campaigns.
And the DNC and RNC Respond:
DNC spokesperson Kristie Greco said, “Political nominating conventions are an essential part of our democratic process, voluntarily funded by the taxpayers. Contrary to Senator Coburn’s assertions, we use the federal grant to fund the functions necessary to renominate the president and vice president.”
RNC spokesperson Sean Spicer said, “Conventions serve an important role in the process of nominating candidates for President and Vice President of the United States. If Senator Coburn has ideas on how to overhaul campaign finance laws that will provide political parties with viable alternative funding sources or on the funding for future conventions, he should address them through the legislative process.”
I think the key thing here is that the money comes from voluntary funding. Ever wonder what the money goes toward when you check the box on your return? $36 million is a drop in the bucket on what we'd save if we returned to Reagan-era taxes.
"Is that right? No income taxes? And you don't need a lobbyist for a car elevator? Count me in!"
(Brian Snyder/Reuters)Notice that instead of saying he'd be moving from Massachusetts, he says he'd be moving from California...
?You know my wife ? I wish she were here today. ... She has said someday, who knows, we might move to Florida. You never know. Someday, way down the road.?...I guess he's still pissed about needing to hire that lobbyist to install his car elevator.
?We had the chance during the primaries to be able to go all over the country and see a lot of places, and she said 'You know what? If we are going to move, one place I love [is] Jacksonville, Florida,?? Romney told the crowd, which cheered. ?She knows a good thing when she sees it.?
Later, on his charter flight from Jacksonville to West Palm Beach, a reporter asked Romney what he and his wife found most appealing about Jacksonville. "We love California," he replied. "But there are attractions to Florida. It has the right tax rates, among others."
Facebook makes its blockbuster market debut today, and as The New York Times points out, "the trading on Friday is the the equivalent of a must-see Super Bowl Sunday showdown for people who don?t ordinarily watch a football game." The social network's stocks have been priced at $38 a pop, which means the company is valued at $104 billion, making it the second biggest initial public offering ever. If the company's first day on Wall Street follows the tech trend, it could be worth $137 billion by the end of the day.
The next big, and potentially difficult step for the company will be proving it's worth the investment. The site already accounts for 9 percent of all web traffic in the United States, but it's going to need to grab more revenue as time goes on, which means more ads, more Farmville-esque spending opportunities, or breaking off into new territory like smartphones and data analytics.
A big debate is happening down in Texas over the cost of a college degree from state universities. While educators want to raise tuition to over $10,000 in order to make sure they can keep providing quality services and attracting top-tier talent, many others want to keep costs low to "make sure we are giving students the best bang for their buck."
Happy Friday! Here is a list of the best stuff ever, courtesy of Buzzfeed.
Is Filibuster Reform finally going to happen?[...]
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