I have a feeling McKeon's problems-- not the bribery stuff, the Adelson/gambling problem-- are too close to national security for a messy trial. We'll leave the FBI alone for a while to work it out in peace. And the FBI has its hands full with Grimm too. A Mafioso character, he was once a secret agent man as well... playing both sides of the fence. What could get dirtier than that? Well, now he's a dirty congressman from Staten Island. Last week, when the House Ethics Committee said that all Grimm's criminal activities that were referred to the Committee were committed before he was sworn in as a congressman and that they therefore couldn't pursue the case, Grimm went running to the local press to tell them he had been cleared by the Committee. It was another typical Grimm lie and Grimm is anything but in the clear. A federal grand jury is looking into his fundraising scams right now-- and that's not about a House Ethics Committee slap on the wrist; it's about prison. Long before he ever ran for Congress, "Mikey Suits" was a NYC hustler on the make, and he first came to our attention years ago when he was involved with Cunningham briber Thomas "Gus" Kontogiannis (currently serving multiple prison terms).
The FBI's public corruption unit has interviewed at least four campaign workers investigating allegations that Grimm accepted illegal campaign contributions, law enforcement sources said.
At least two of those workers have received subpoenas to testify before a grand jury, but both volunteered to answer questions.
Law enforcement sources would not say if grand jury testimony has begun.
The subpoenas, at least in part, are a way to put the squeeze on political operatives, staffers and volunteers so that they?ll speak voluntarily to investigators.
"Let's say, so far, it is a tool to get people's attention-- that we are serious about our questions about the congressman," a law enforcement source told the Daily News.
Grimm?s lawyer, William McGinley, called the leak of grand jury information ?deplorable.?
Empaneling a grand jury on a sitting member of Congress traditionally requires a sign off from the top levels of the Justice Department honchos-- most likely U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, sources said.
The grand jury has been busy investigating another case-- allegations that former aides to a prominent New York Rabbi, Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto, embezzled millions of dollars worth of donations from the rabbi and his flock.
Pinto is the same rabbi who went to Congressman Anthony Weiner in 2010 to complain that Grimm was pressuring both him and members of his congregation for campaign contributions.
Pinto has been cooperating with the FBI and has met with agents and an assistant U.S. attorney more than 20 times to try to unravel how his congregation was fleeced, three sources said.
The rabbi provided investigators with a list of more than a dozen names of people to question about the congregation's missing millions, sources said.
Included on the list were the names of several congregants who, separately, claimed Grimm accepted illegal campaign contributions in 2010-- and, in one case, an envelope full of cash.
Looking for a good movie?
A New York Times review reveals, in ?The Dark Knight Rises,? the Batman auteur has taken ?an existential drama and expanded that concept to encompass questions about power, the state and whether change is best effected from inside the system or outside it.?
The British Guardian/Observer, after recounting its sleazy history, declares the film has ?intelligence, epic thrust and visual grandeur.?
Sorting through Aurora?s emotional carnage and looking for reasons and/or scapegoats, consider those deep thinkers who elevate hyperkinetic junk into art?-the nation?s ?serious? movie critics who tell today?s generations that lowbrow comic books of half a century ago have morphed into graphic novels of intellectually high caliber and guilty-pleasure movies of back then are must-see cultural events.
We are a long way from the 1950s when a pop psychiatrist ?attacked Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson's menage as a covert celebration of homosexuality. Ten years later, however, when Susan Sontag's seminal essay Notes on Camp promoted kitsch and the idea of ?it's good because it's bad,?? Batman was on its way to today?s respectability.
In the post-9/11 world, dominated by nameless dread and a desperate need to be in-the-know, there is certainly a market for amped-up vicarious experiences of power and superiority by anxiety-ridden audiences. Yet at what moral price?
For the latest mass murderer, dressing up in costume to kill innocent people at a midnight showing must have seemed like a logical extension of the Batman values being projected on the big screen.
Hollywood has a long tradition of scoffing message movies, which attempt to elevate audiences? thinking and end up boring them to death.
Will movie makers and critics who slavishly take their output on its own terms give some serious thought to what they are unthinkingly selling? The hype has higher costs than the price of tickets and popcorn.
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This is why we can't have nice things.
It is my oft-repeated truism: he who frames the debate wins the argument. In the case of the frighteningly random mass shooting in Aurora, the Powers That Be are already framing the debate away from any kind of sensible gun control to a hapless shrugging of shoulders. And all that is exemplified perfectly by the booking of Michelle Rhee to the Meet the Press roundtable this week.
Michelle Rhee, former Chancellor of Public Schools for the District of Columbia, is not exactly the first person one would consider when putting together a roundtable to discuss the larger societal issues surrounding gun control and a culture of violence. But that doesn't stop Executive Producer Betsy Fischer and anchor David Gregory from asking her directly her feelings:
GREGORY: And if anybody has got experience like you do, Michelle, trying to identify vulnerabilities in especially younger people and they can manifest themselves at-- at such an early age, particularly in schools.
MS. MICHELLE RHEE (CEO & Founder, StudentsFirst): Yeah, I think one of the challenges that comes about in a-- in a tragedy like this is people want answers. Why did this happen or what is the solution? And so too often people want to identify one thing that can be changed that will ensure this never happens again. We do the same in education, what is the silver bullet? And the fact of the matter is I think when you hear these-- these conversations that go on, is that there is no one thing. It?s actually going to be complicated solution. It?s not just the availability of guns, it?s not just how violent video games are. This-- you know, in order to solve this problem in the long term, it?s going to-- it?s going to take a very comprehensive approach looking at lots of different angles.
Okay, my instinctive reaction to Rhee's words is "kinda out of her wheelhouse, that's why she's got nothing." She sets up an inarguable strawman: it's a complicated issue, there's no one solution, and then dismisses the elephant in the room: the availability and legality of assault weapons. Then she adds a favorite bugaboo of pearl clutchers: violence in video games. The end result? Nothing more than a shrug of the shoulders that falls in line with with conservatives like David Brooks. The problem has no "silver bullet" so why even try?
But then I remembered Karoli's post from February:
Michelle Rhee and her new husband Kevin Johnson were honored, along with Gary Sinise and NRA President Wayne LaPierre by the Joe Foss Institute for being "outstanding Americans". [Republican millionaire fundraiser Foster] Friess was the chairman of the event.[..]
Some readers have accused me of unfairly linking Michelle Rhee with the right-wing cabal's aim to kill public education altogether. I ask them to consider Rick Santorum's statement, Foster Friess' very clear hatred of public schools (and unions), Rhee's associations with Rupert Murdoch, the Koch Foundation, Betsy DeVos and Scott Walker, her current "consulting" in Alabama (where there are currently no charter schools), and tell me again that she doesn't share their goals.
Michelle Rhee presents herself as someone solely concerned "with the children." Yet her by-the-numbers, bottom line approach to education serves only one master: the for-profit interests looking to grow our economy by privatizing public education. Palling around with billionaires who happen to represent those for-profit interests is never a bad thing for someone looking to turn a pretty profit from being a "school reformer."
Rhee has had a long and documented history of portraying herself as a "Democrat" while cozying up to Republican and conservative special interests. Her StudentsFirst organization requires their donations and assistance to push for busting teachers' unions and setting up profitable charter schools. No wonder she can't offer anything that might go against her buddies. So rather than advocating for measures that would have prevented someone from buying an assault rifle and 6,000 rounds of ammunition legally to mow down little Veronica Moser-Sullivan and recent high school grad Anthony Boik, Rhee smiles wanly and refuses to upset her conservative donors.
Watch Weathervane Mitt express his personal opposition to the Boy Scouts' anti-gay policy
before he sets the Wayback Machine to 1994 and #retroactively changes history.
On Tuesday, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) aggressively reaffirmed their commitment to keep their ban on both gay members and leadership. In a press release they said the policy "remains in the best interest of Scouting and that there will be no further action taken on the resolution." Rumors had circulated recently that the board may revisit the current policy via board vote next year.
The statement was at once surprising and, of course, not so much. Unsurprising because it was just a restatement of the current policy, one you'd expect by an organization whose hierarchy is heavy with Christian fundamentalists, Catholics and Mormons.
Still, there had been some cause for optimism, as in recent months, national Boy Scouts board members Ernst & Young's James Turley and AT&T's Randall Stephenson had spoken publicly to the press about their personal opposition and desire to work for change.
The BSA has been under rather intense pressure of late. In April, they suffered a rather public embarrassment when The James Beard Foundation Executive Director Susan Ungaro returned an award from the Boy Scouts saying "accepting the Distinguished Citizen Award implied I support their anti-gay policy, which I absolutely do not."
The ousting of a popular Scout Leader Jennifer Tyrrell has sparked a national media tour, where the Ohio mom has proven herself an excellent spokesperson for the movement. Undaunted by the announcement, Tyrrell delivered Change petition to BSA headquarters on Wednesday with over 300,000 signatories asking BSA to change their policy. Her request denied, tears in her eyes, she told the local NBC affiliate (video above), "I'm here. I'm not going anywhere, I'm staying until I'm included."
Having learned that the resolution to end its policy of discrimination actually stood a chance of working its way through the BSA's executive board, the BSA dropped the hammer, trying to crush this grassroots movement to help the Boy Scouts become more inclusive and accepting.Wahls, a former Eagle Scout, will attend the 100th anniversary of the Eagle Scouts at the National Order of the Arrow Conference July 30 through Aug. 4 "to rally current scouts and scout leaders to support an end to the antigay ban."
In their eyes, this issue is now resolved and the book is closed. Indeed, they've even stopped answering calls from Fox News.
Fact is, the movement to end the BSA?s antigay policy is ramping up, and is poised to be stronger than ever.
The BSA press release says:
This decision follows a nearly two-year-long examination, started in 2010, of the policy commissioned by the Chief Scout Executive and national president. Under their leadership, the BSA convened a special committee of volunteers and professional leaders to evaluate whether the policy continued to be in the best interest of the organization.This claim of an extensive secret two-year study and secret committee has been met with skepticism by many. Boy Scouts of America spokesman Deron Smith told Think Progress the secret committee's secret report would remain secret and never disclosed to the public. Nor would he name any of the 11 people reported to have served on the committee. David Badash of the New Civil Rights Movement blog experienced similar stonewalling when he pressed the Boy Scouts for more information on the study.
Notorious homophobe, hate group leader and Romney campaign human resources consultant?American Family Association's Bryan Fischer?took to the airways on Wednesday to crow "the head of the Boy Scouts" had called him to assure him there'd be no change.
Bil Browning, writing at the Bilerico Project, is less diplomatic about expressing his skepticism about the secret two-year study and committee. He says: "I'm calling bullshit."
I don't believe they made a worthwhile effort to actually decide what's best for all children and everyone involved in scouting. They may have formed this "secret committee," but I'd posit they knew the outcome before they held their first meeting.The usual suspects cheered, like the
You don't take your need to discriminate all the way to the Supreme Court just to throw it out the window a few years later. They've dug themselves into this position and they're just fortifying their position as their opposition grows stronger. They're looking for a way to save face and are able to shrug off responsibility for their reprehensible actions by blaming a group of unnamed individuals for making the decision.
So proud that the BSA, a Christian based organization, didn't cave in! fb.me/1brtUEsZ4? 1milmoms (@1milmoms) July 17, 2012
But the declaration has not been met with much enthusiasm outside the religious right. The New York Times "Room for Debate" section now hosts seven response essays by people of note. Only the one penned by Bob Mazzuca and Wayne Perry of the Boy Scouts' executive council offers a defensive support for continuing the policy. The rest offer varying degrees of disappointment and condemnation.
My take? It's true, an animal is most dangerous when it is deeply wounded. And it does seem reasonably and entirely possible BSA recognized the public conversation was getting a little too heated, they sought to make a definitive statement to close out the subject.
But Wahls and others aren't taking it lying down, continuing to demand that the Boy Scouts of America allow the resolution to allow openly gay scouts and leaders to come to a vote at the next BSA convention, in May of 2013 (petition here).
(Continue reading below the fold.)
One of the long standing taboos in the US is an open discussion of our capitalist economic system. Mainstream economists talk of business cycles, recessions, depressions, upturns, downturns, etc, in an effort to avoid discussing just how unstable[...]
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This is the final Five Questions interview. This time I sat down with Sarah Burris, someone who, though young, has already had quite a bit of experience as a progressive organizer and is quite accomplished. Sarah has worked with youth organizing and with labor organizations. Like others interviewed in this series, she is cautiously optimistic ? but falls squarely in the camp of seeing the...
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(Jon Stewart mocks wingnut Michele Bachmann for her Muslim Brotherhood conspiracy theories.)
As we noted this week, wingnut and McCarthy wannabe Michele Bachmann went so far as to attack her fellow House member, Keith Ellison, claiming he has a "long record" of association with the Muslim Brotherhood. This following her and fellow Republicans witch hunt against Huma Abedin, aide to Secretary Clinton and wife of former Rep. Anthony Weiner. It seems Bachmann has finally crossed the line where the House Intelligence Chair has turned on her.
Before facing heat this week for her paranoid quest to root out Muslim Brotherhood influence on the U.S. government, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) got support from the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers. But today, Rogers distanced himself from Bachmann?s allegations about Muslim-Americans.
That kind of assertion certainly doesn?t comport with the Intelligence Committee, and I can say that on the record. I have no information in my committee that would indicate that Huma is anything other than an American patriot.
This was not an activity that was sanctioned as any intelligence committee matter.
What kills me is that it took this long for anyone in her own party to finally call out this crazy flame thrower for the rhetoric that comes out of her mouth. After she went on Chris Matthews' show back in 2008 and said that she wanted members of Congress investigated for being "anti-American" we didn't hear a peep out of any of them. And she was rewarded with a spot on the House Intelligence Committee instead of being asked to take a trip to the doctor's office and being put on medication.
John Boehner and all of the Republican leadership are directly responsible for refusing to keep this woman in check and to call her out when she's been over the top, which is just about every time she opens her mouth. They own it. They need to either tell her to shut the hell up, pull her off the Intelligence Committee and censure her on the floor of the House, or take full responsibility for every word she utters and had uttered that they refuse to condemn.
Rogers' weasel words saying this was not sanctioned by the Intelligence Committee are not nearly enough. If they think anyone is going to take seriously that they aren't happy to have the crazies like Bachmann out there whipping up their base, it's going to take more than what he was willing to say here about her. The woman is dangerous and it's LONG past time she is no longer treated as credible.
So welcome to the party Mike Rogers. You're only a few years and a few hundred crazy, bat-sh*t, wingnut, over the top, flame throwing remarks out of your fellow House member, with finally bothering to take the time to state the obvious in the most timid and limited way possible. Bravo.
The fact that any of the media treated her as so when she ran for president shows just how far down the rabbit hole we've gone with our sorry excuse for what's supposed to be a check and balance on our political class being completely useless. The fourth estate is dead when wingnuts like Bachmann can run for president and the entire country is not looking on in horror because they can't be bothered to let the public know a crazy person wants us to believe she should be allowed to run the country.
A local CBS News affiliate broadcast footage last night of a violent scene after a police shooting in Anaheim, California. As described by the anchors, "officers fired what appeared to be bean bags and unleashed a canine into a crowd of women and[...]
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A new galaxy is found far, far away.
The sources told Reuters that none of the banks involved now want to be second in line for fear that they will get similarly hostile treatment from politicians and the public. Bank discussions about a group settlement initially took place before the Barclays agreement, and picked back up in the aftermath.They certainly aren't worried about hostile treatment from law enforcement. Theft. Graft. Fraud. Racketeering. It seems like nothing short of banks financing genocide is going to get the politicians to crack down on these guys.
It is unclear which banks are involved in the potential settlement talks. More than a dozen banks are being investigated in the scandal, including Citigroup, HSBC, Deutsche Bank and JPMorgan Chase. They all declined to comment.
A new observation has revealed a spiral galaxy about 10.7 billion light years away, the first unambiguous discovery of that type of galaxy from that cosmic era.I wonder who is discovering the Milky Way right about now?
All, I thought I was going to have time to keep up with our Wire rewatch while at press tour. I think I’m going to have to hold off, though?there are just too many screeners I have to keep up while I’m here. We’ll return with our discussion of the first three episodes of season two on August 6.