Special Prosecutor Angela CoreyPatience, please, says Angela B. Corey, the tough, conservative special prosecutor appointed six days ago as a result of the firestorm burning officials' behinds in the Trayvon Martin shooting. "We're asking?we're begging people?just give us a chance."
Nonetheless, undoubtedly feeling the pressure, she says there may be no need of the grand jury now slated to convene in the case on April 10. "It's possible that we?ll just make a decision without the grand jury." That decision could be an indictment of George Zimmerman, the man who shot Martin. Or, Corey might choose to do what the Brevard/Seminole counties state attorney did, refuse to press charges because of Zimmerman's claims of self-defense and there not being enough evidence indicating otherwise.
The latter was apparently not the view of the lead homicide detective. After interviewing Zimmerman the night of the shooting, he didn't buy the 28-year-old's self-defense argument and recommended he be charged with manslaughter:
But Sanford, Fla., Investigator Chris Serino was instructed to not press charges against Zimmerman because the state attorney's office headed by Norman Wolfinger determined there wasn't enough evidence to lead to a conviction, the sources told ABC News.It was Wolfinger who finally agreed last week to convene the grand jury before Florida Gov. Rick Scott took him off the case and appointed Corey, a rising star who is state attorney for Duval, Nassau and Clay counties.
While everyone awaits the conclusions of Corey's investigation, the excavation of the minutiae of Trayvon Martin's prematurely ended life continues, some of it by the merely curious and some by the smear merchants. Martin's Twitter and Facebook accounts have been fodder for both. Of this, Alexandra Petri at the Washington Post wrote:
And now his Facebook page (the one I found, wall full of friends? condolences, seems to have vanished) and Twitter account (the Daily Caller claims to have located it) are coming under the brutal scrutiny of the finger-pointers. There?s enough for them to make a meal. Of course there is. He was a teenager, the textbook definition of ?someone not concerned that his job might later require elaborate background checks.?All this dredging has turned up nothing of note, nothing that has shed one photon of light on why Martin was shot dead the same month he turned 17. He was, indeed, a bright, cheerful, fairly typical teenager.
I would say ?Let the one who has never been a teenager cast the first stone,?but the stones have already been cast, and they?re flying thick and fast. [...]
If Twitter had existed 2,000 years ago, we would have almost no saints. No one would have met the criteria for admission.
Only one thing matters now, and that is what the special prosecutor's team believes when they have completed their investigation. Boiled down to its essentials:
Did George Zimmerman stalk Martin, attack him and feloniously shoot him to death? Or did he follow him and then return to his SUV and get attacked by Martin who knocked him to the ground with a single punch in the face and then banged his head repeatedly against the sidewalk, prompting Zimmerman to pull his pistol and fire in self-defense? The team has Zimmerman's story, some 911 calls, some witnesses and some hard physical evidence which would be more complete if the Sanford Police Department had done a better job on Feb. 26. Of Trayvon Martin they have an autopsy.
Based on what is publicly known, Det. Chris Serino's initial assessment makes a lot of sense. Whether Corey chooses to agree with it we'll know soon enough.
A little over a year ago, Congressman Darrell Issa, who as chairman of the House committee on government oversight is in charge of investigating the Obama administration, called Obama's "one of the most corrupt administrations" in American history. So to work he went, ferreting out wrongdoing and malfeasance, following the trail of corruption wherever it led. And most prominently it led to Solyndra, the solar cell manufacturer whose bankruptcy left the government holding the bag for half a billion dollars in loan guarantees. The investigation is finally nearing its end. Tremble, ye betrayers of the public trust, and behold Issa's wrath:
"Is there a criminal activity? Perhaps not," Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa told POLITICO after last Tuesday?s showdown with Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "Is there a political influence and connections? Perhaps not. Did they bend the rules for an agenda, an agenda not covered within the statute? Absolutely."
Wow. It's no wonder Michele Bachmann once said Solyndra "makes Watergate look like child's play."
So Solyndra turned out to be, if not a complete nothingburger, not nearly as much of a big deal as Republicans so fervently hoped. Yeah, a bunch of money went down the toilet, and people in the administration really wanted the company to succeed, despite its weaknesses, and that eagerness caused some of them to write some sketchy emails. But that's really it. And Solyndra is, by far, the closest thing to a major scandal the Obama administration has suffered. A close second is the "Fast and Furious" operation at the ATF, which was an obvious screw-up but without anything that even resembled corruption. Which, when you think back on every administration that preceded it, both Republican and Democratic, is pretty remarkable. It's entirely possible that Obama could finish out his first term without a single significant scandal. No shtupping interns, no trading arms for hostages, no secret break-ins, nothing. The fact that the administration passed out a quarter of a trillion dollars in stimulus funding (the rest of it was tax cuts and boosts in entitlements) without a single significant incident of theft, bribery, or anything of the sort is in and of itself a historic achievement.
There will probably be some low-grade scandalesque affairs that come to light before Obama leaves office, particularly if he gains a second term. But the really big ones?your Watergates, your Iran-Contras, your Lewinskys?get to be big because the president himself is involved. And so far, Obama has been squeaky-clean. I'm guessing that drives his opponents up a wall.
"I enjoy anecdotes about firing people." (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
Mitt Romney, bonding with the Wisconsin locals by way of conference call from Dallas, Texas:
Romney said he has some connections to Wisconsin."Hello, human Wisconsin voters! I have a humorous anecdote to be related. My father once shut down a factory in Michigan, which was beneficial to the people of your state since you are not from Michigan. Then he ran for governor of Michigan and?you will like this, humans, because it is humorous?during one parade the children in the local marching band only knew how to play a song from your state, Wisconsin, as opposed to the state of Michigan where my father was attempting to gain higher office. This led to some unpleasantries because my father did not wish to bring further attention to his laying off of workers from the state he was now suggesting he lead. Is that not humorous? Yes, screw Michigan, am I right? Now that they have already voted, I can safely say that your state of Wisconsin is a much better state. Your cheese is quite definitely of the correct height. My parental unit was correct in transferring employment opportunities to your state instead of filthy Michigan, where the children do not even know the correct songs."
?One of most humorous I think relates to my father. You may remember my father, George Romney, was president of an automobile company called American Motors ? They had a factory in Michigan, and they had a factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and another one in Milwaukee, Wisconsin,? said Romney. ?And as the president of the company he decided to close the factory in Michigan and move all the production to Wisconsin. Now later he decided to run for governor of Michigan and so you can imagine that having closed the factory and moved all the production to Wisconsin was a very sensitive issue to him, for his campaign.?
Romney said he recalled a parade in which the school band marching with his father?s campaign only knew the Wisconsin fight song, not the Michigan song.
?So every time they would start playing ?On Wisconsin, on Wisconsin,? my dad?s political people would jump up and down and try to get them to stop, because they didn?t want people in Michigan to be reminded that my dad had moved production to Wisconsin,? said Romney, laughing.
Congressman Bobby Rush removed from House floor for wearing hoodie in protest Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Illinois was removed from the House floor Wednesday after giving a speech about Trayvon Martin while wearing a hoodie. Watch that speech here: Bobby Rush protest death of Trayvon Martin during House sesion
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In the lobby of the place I once worked hung an excerpt from the speech Winston Churchill gave to the students at the Harrow School two months before America entered World War II in December 1941:
"Never give in
Never, never, never, never
Never yield in any way
Great or small, large or petty..."
It goes without saying that the legendary Conservative Party leader and his bulldog pluck remains a hero to American conservatives to this day, just as the guy who hung Churchill's defiant manifesto on the wall of our waiting room was a lightening rod who left controversy and hard feelings wherever he went.
I sometimes think about Churchill's memorial to the merits of immovability whenever I hear conservatives whining about their old bugaboo -- "liberal bias."
Consult the comment section of any major newspaper and you will encounter dozens of conservative readers who have internalized the instructions they've been given from Fox News and Rush Limbaugh to respond to any criticism of conservatives by shouting back that liberals want people to think for themselves -- just so long as they think like liberals.
And it's true. We liberals do think people should think like liberals, as liberalism is broadly defined. But what these Dittohead, Fox Nation automatons seem to be saying instead is: "Why can't liberals be more like us and never compromise, never change - never give in, never, never, never, never yield in any way, great or small, large or petty?"
From far too many family squabbles that have finished in dead ends, or futile debates over the differences between Fox News and MSNBC (which are manifest), I am finally ready to raise the white flag and concede that people everywhere -- liberals and conservatives alike, partisans up and down the political spectrum -- are all equally and hopelessly "biased."
One man's "truth" is another man's "prejudice." I get it. But here's the thing: Only liberals seem to care or have taken steps to do anything about it.
Chris Mooney, bestselling author of The Republican War on Science, has now added a new contribution to what seems to be a growing body of literature to emerge in just the past few years that tries to explain why liberals and conservatives find it so difficult to get along or even talk with one another.
Using phrases like "cognitive dissonance," "motivated reasoning" and "primacy of effect," Mooney writes in his newly-released book, The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science - and Reality, that no one - neither liberal nor conservative - is as rational or reasonable as we flatter ourselves to be. Humans just aren't built that way.
The Enlightenment hope, expressed by the French philosopher Condorcet, was that "any new mistake is criticized as soon as it is made, and often attacked even before it has been propagated, and so it has no time to take root in men's minds."
But the reality from what we now know of neuroscience and psychology, says Mooney, is that "thinking and reasoning are actually suffused with emotion (or what researchers often call 'affect'). And not just that: Many of our reactions to stimuli and information are neither reflective nor dispassionate but rather emotional and automatic, and set in motion prior to (and often in the absence of) conscious thought."
Mooney says that our prior emotional commitments operate in ways we're not even aware of and so cause us to misread evidence or "selectively interpret it" in favor of what we already believe. And it's these emotional commitments, says Mooney, that "can make us virtually impervious to facts, logic and reason"
This is as true for liberals as it is for conservatives. The difference is that liberals have tried to find ways around it while conservatives just don't care since for them the primary purpose of "arguments" and "reason" is to advance or defend their own group.
Conservatives have many fine qualities. They are loyal. They are resourceful. They are decisive. They make good leaders. But as we've learned, particularly in 2004, conservatives do not do nuance.
More than liberals, says Mooney, conservatives have a strong need "to be absolutely convinced" of the rightness of their group and the wrongness of others - even as they accuse others of "bias." Consequently, where conservatives and liberals also differ is in the conservative's need "for solidarity and unity, for having a strong in-group/out-group way of looking at the world."
Whereas chauvinism and parochialism come naturally to conservatives, Mooney says the development of science and other "liberal" ways of thinking that arose during the Enlightenment had their origin in the "world changing attempt to weed out and control our lapses of objectivity," or what Francis Bacon called "the idols of the mind."
The whole point of science, says Mooney, is to "put checks on human biases" through instruments like peer review and skepticism.
Science is more than a method for discovering truth, says Mooney, it is also a "norm" shared by individuals who are part of a liberal community that cares about provable truth. "In science it is seen as a virtue to hold your views tentatively rather than with certainty and to express them with the requisite caveats and without emotion," says Mooney.
Among liberals, it is also admirable to change one's mind based on the weight of new evidence, says Mooney. This is in stark contrast to those with authoritarian dispositions - "primarily political conservatives and especially religious ones" - who view uncertainty or indecisiveness "as a sign of weakness."
Thus, when you hear a conservative attacking a liberal for being blind to his or her own bias, you can be pretty sure it's not because the conservative believes in even-handedness and objectivity instead. Far from it. It's because the conservative is prospecting for both-sides-are-equally-guilty rationalizations to justify their own partiality.
Take the charge of "liberal media bias." It's not just that conservatives are hostile to liberal journalists, says blogger Robert Stacy McCain, who once wrote for the conservative magazine American Spectator. It's that Republicans have an "anti-journalism worldview."
And what this means, he says, is that conservatives are not merely hostile to what journalists write. They are hostile to journalism "as a profession" - one designed to challenge established authority on behalf of "the masses."
This is why conservative journalists are not judged by Republicans on the basis of "the accuracy of their reporting or the readability of their prose," says McCain, but rather on how useful they are "in the service of advancing GOP political objectives."
In short, says McCain, "Republicans treat conservative journalists with a special disdain -- as mere errand boys or stenographers whose job it is to spread the GOP message."
More recently, we saw this hostility to empiricism on display when Rachel Maddow tried to nail down Senator James Inhofe on his global warming denial by confronting him with the relevant scientific literature. Inhofe filibustered Maddow as expertly as his Republican colleagues have managed to tie up the Senate in knots for the past three years. Time and again he refused to let Rachel get a word in edgewise as he swatted away the few words that did get through by slapping on each the label "liberal" as if that was all the refutation Maddow's arguments deserved.
So why does any of this matter? Because how a nation thinks is more important than what it thinks, and the democracy of a modern, melting pot nation like this one can only survive if it is rooted in the flexibility of liberal ways of thinking not ossified by the rigidity of conservative ones.
The Founding Fathers understood this very well.
"So long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed," writes James Madison in Federalist 10. "As long as the connection subsists between his reason and his self-love, his opinions and his passions will have a reciprocal influence on each other; and the former will be objects to which the latter will attach."
Therefore, said Madison, by "extending the sphere" of opinions and interests an individual leader (or citizen) must expose himself to and account for, the constitutional framework itself might serve to "refine and enlarge the public views" of the republic, among whose numerous advantages Madison hoped would be "its tendency to break and control the violence of faction."
How ironic it is, then, that conservatives more than liberals have sought to appropriate the Founding Fathers as their own, reflecting less the inspiration conservatives say they derive from the Founding Father's ideas than the conservative's characteristic need for father figures.
And so, when former Republican House Majority Leader (and current Tea Party leader) Dick Armey was challenged on his assertion that Alexander Hamilton was a champion of small and weak government by someone who countered that Hamilton was instead "widely regarded as an advocate of a strong central government," Armey immediately shot back in a classically, tribal conservative way: "Widely regarded by whom?' Today's modern, ill-informed political science professors? I just doubt that was the case in fact about Hamilton."
Conservatives can talk all they like about liberal bias and why everyone needs to be more tolerant of dissenting conservative points of view. But I will begin taking conservatives seriously when they say they want a more fair and balanced public discourse - and will believe them that their attacks on "liberal bias" are more than just cynical ploys to legitimize their own biases -- when they stop opposing things such as the Fairness Doctrine whose only purpose is to ensure that free speech does what it promises to do and gives us a marketplace of ideas able to separate the wheat of what's true from the chafe of what isn't.
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(Connor.carey at en.wikipedia)
The Republican-led [House Industrial Relations] committee held the sudden vote on Monday morning with little notice, posting the hearing on the calendar less than an hour prior?and waiting until just 10 minutes beforehand to post a note on the hearing room door. Not surprisingly, the measure easily sailed out of the committee without any legislators present to represent Georgia's working families. The committee also voted to pass S.B. 447, which would gut unemployment insurance down to the fewest number of weeks in the country.The state House Rules Committee subsequently amended the bill so that the ban on picketing at private residences applies more broadly. Until now, the prohibition has just targeted picketing around labor disputes; now, it ostensibly applies to everyone. However, specific references to unions have only been taken out of some parts of the bill, not others, so the final result is unclear. The bill, written by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, started out confusing and has only gotten worse.
Unions are rallying against the bill Thursday morning at 10 AM at the Capitol. Thursday is the last day of the legislative session, so the bill is expected to be voted on then. If you're a Georgia resident, email your state representative opposing this anti-picketing bill.
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The House may not have been able to pass a transportation bill yesterday to enable the smooth functioning of two million construction jobs, but they did find the time to kill a bunch of investor protections and deregulate the securities markets while[...]
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Federal prosecutors said in a 17-page filing this week that California campaign treasurer Kinde Durkee's illegal use of her client's campaign funds affected 50 victims and caused a loss of over $7 million. The "information" filing typically means that a defendant has reached a plea deal, and Durkee has a hearing scheduled on Friday.
The court document says that Durkee "routinely misappropriated client funds by moving without authorization substantial sums of money out of client accounts, including political campaign accounts, into Durkee & Associates' or into other clients' accounts."
So who lost what, and what did Durkee spend the money on? Here's a rundown of the information disclosed by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California:
The full filing is embedded below:
About the only thing America can agree on is that Trayvon Martin is dead. He’s deceased. He no longer is. He’s not coming back. However, that salient fact is getting lost in a side-choosing scramble that makes the Republican primaries look positively dignified by comparison.
New revelations about the two people involved in the tragedy arrive almost by the minute. Depending mostly on your political bent, Trayvon is the bad guy with a hoodie-full of malice aforethought and ready to spring into deadly action against poor George Zimmerman. But no, George is a hapless Neighborhood Watch volunteer in the wrong place at the wrong time just doing his undeputized act of public service.
Everyone from slap-silly Congressmen (and their opponents) to pundits to run-of-the mill citizens feel perfectly justified in ripping their opposing side a new one based on uninvestigated and unverified statements from a bunch of people who know nothing in dead-solid certainty about who is guilty or innocent.
This is OJ Part Deux. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone feels they “know” what happened and everyone will howl like hot air siroccos bloviating like an Oklahoma dust bowl about unfairness after the investigations and sentencing are done. There is no way this case can now be fair. The concept of guilty until proven innocent has been well and truly trampled.
Part of the public’s visceral reaction is a deep belief that our justice system can’t do anything except tyrannically rob everyone of their Constitutional rights, even though the public’s constant screeds are already doing that far more effectively.
Part of it is also a hyper-sensitivity to anything remotely racial. Had this been one of the dozens of white-on-white, black-on-black, or Insert Ethnicity Here-on- Insert Ethnicity Here crimes that happen every day, we’d all be listening to Rick Santorum being the world’s biggest nutcase (well, next to Michele Bachmann) instead.
Asking Americans to calm down and let the facts surface as they should is a lost cause. The facts of this whole disgraceful crime will come eventually come from both sides. That is the nature of criminal cases. Never is one side or the other totally wrong or totally right. Almost no one stands up, claims responsibility, and then provides air-tight facts to prove their confession. Ain’t gonna happen, regardless of what the public thinks.
Did OJ do it? I think so given what I saw of the trial. Had I been in the jury room where some information never appeared, I might have felt differently. Did Zimmerman do it? Was Trayvon simply a good boy shot by a rabidly racist Rent-a-Cop? As with the Juice’s trial I don’t know and neither does anyone else, despite their self-ordained “expert” status.
It would behoove everyone to settle down and let the justice system run its course without all the blather. At the end of the day, you can fault the jury and judge as much as you like. At least we will have more of the facts than we do today.
Justice is an imperfect thing, regardless of who metes it out and fairness is a subjective thing – especially when someone may end up with a needle in their arm based on that subjectivity.
When all is said and done, you don’t get to make the decision, the jury does whether you like it or not.