The victim-blaming flew thick and fast last night after The Washington Post published a self-serving leak from an anonymous Baltimore
murderer policeman. According to the Post report, Freddie Gray severed his own spinal cord, crushed his own voice box and gave himself severe brain injuries in order to get back at the cops who beat him, dragged him to a police van as he screamed in agony and left him unbelted during a long “rough ride” to the police station.
From the WaPo story:
BALTIMORE — A prisoner sharing a police transport van with Freddie Gray told investigators that he could hear Gray “banging against the walls” of the vehicle and believed that he “was intentionally trying to injure himself,” according to a police document obtained by The Washington Post.
The prisoner, who is currently in jail, was separated from Gray by a metal partition and could not see him. His statement is contained in an application for a search warrant, which is sealed by the court. The Post was given the document under the condition that the prisoner not be named because the person who provided it feared for the inmate’s safety.
The document, written by a Baltimore police investigator, offers the first glimpse of what might have happened inside the van. It is not clear whether any additional evidence backs up the prisoner’s version, which is just one piece of a much larger probe.
Gray was found unconscious in the wagon when it arrived at a police station on April 12. The 25-year-old had suffered a spinal injury and died a week later, touching off waves of protests across Baltimore, capped by a riot Monday in which hundreds of angry residents torched buildings, looted stores and pelted police officers with rocks.
That solves that mystery then, right?
Um . . . . no. That tall tale is just likely to inflame more anger and protests.
Watch this CNN video of the Freddie Gray arrest posted at Slate if you can handle it. It shows police lifting and pushing Gray into the van because he can’t move at least one of his legs. Several times Gray screams in agony as police lift him into the van and leave him unbelted despite his injuries.
A second bystander-filmed video of Freddie Gray’s April 12 arrest in Baltimore—after which he was hospitalized and died—appears to show Gray in substantial pain before being put into a police vehicle.
Initial video of Gray’s arrest also appeared to depict him in pain as an onlooker shouted that Gray’s leg was broken….both videos—and witness reports that Gray was struck and “bent up” by the officers who arrested him—seem to suggest the possibility that he was injured before being put into the van.
Have I told you lately how much I despise the Washington Post? At least they did publish this piece by Michael E. Miller this morning:
One thing is certain…Freddie Gray did not have a pre-existing spinal injury.
Yet, that was the story circulating on a handful of conservative Web sites Tuesday. In an “exclusive” quoting anonymous sources, the Web site The Fourth Estate reported that “Freddie Gray’s life-ending injuries to his spine may have possibly been the result of spinal and neck surgery that he allegedly received a week before he was arrested, not from rough [sic] excessively rough treatment or abuse from police.” The site claimed his injury was from a car accident….
“If this is true, then it is possible that Gray’s spinal injury resulting from his encounter with the Baltimore Police was not the result of rough-handling or abuse, but rather a freak accident that occurred when Gray should have been at home resting, not selling drugs,” the site reported right above images of documents pertaining to a civil lawsuit involving Gray.
“The police didn’t mistreat him at all; he mistreated himself,” the report concluded.
But the images on the Fourth Estate actually relate to Gray’s lead paint lawsuit, the Baltimore Sun revealed. An attorney representing the Gray family confirmed that the case concerned lead paint, not a spinal cord injury a week before Freddie Gray’s arrest.
“We have no information or evidence at this point to indicate that there is a prior pre-existing spinal injury,” said Jason Downs, an attorney representing one of Gray’s relatives, told the Sun. “It’s a rumor.”
And yet that rumor might have caused real damage in a country already polarized on the subject of race and the police. The story quickly spread to several other Web sites, such as Free Republic and the Conservative Tree House, which called Gray’s supposedly pre-existing injury “a potential game changing discovery. A site called New York City Guns ran the headline “Dead Baltimore Drug Dealer Had Spinal Surgery DAYS Before He Collapsed in Police Van (Rioters Say ‘OOPS’).”
F**king a$$holes! I’m so sick of this garbage from so-called “conservatives.”
From this morning’s Baltimore Sun: The truth about Freddie Gray’s ‘pre-existing injury from car accident.’
Gray’s attorney says there is no evidence he had any kind of preexisting injury and there was no car accident.
Paperwork was filed in December allowing Gray and his sister, Fredericka to each collect an $18,000 payment from Peachtree Settlement Funding, records show. In exchange, Peachtree would have received a $108,439 annuity that was scheduled to be paid in $602 monthly installments between 2024 and 2039.
In her documents, Fredericka Gray checked “other” when asked to describe the type of accident. She also said that the date of the accident was “94/99″ and that she was a minor when the case was settled.
In his documents, Freddie Gray checked “work injury, medical malpractice and auto accident” as the type of accident. When asked to explain, he also wrote something that is unreadable. He also wrote something unreadable when asked if he was a minor when the case was settled.
As children, Gray and his two sisters were found to have damaging lead levels in their blood, which led to educational, behavioral and medical problems, according to a lawsuit they filed in 2008 against the owner of a Sandtown-Winchester home the family rented for four years.
While the property owner countered in the suit that other factors could have contributed to the children’s deficits — including poverty and their mother’s drug use — the case was settled before going to trial in 2010. The terms of the settlement are not public.
Even the Free Republic has now withdrawn their story on the rumors, according to the Sun article. But that won’t stop Fox News and other right wing sources from spreading the lies.
Now two important articles about the real roots of the riots that broke out in Baltimore on Monday.
The Role The Police Played In Sparking The Baltimore Violence, by Lawrence Brown.
I have a potpourri of great reads for you this morning, so let’s get started.
First up, people in the states impacted by Hurricane Sandy have barely begun to recover. CBS News/AP report that: The scale of post-Sandy challenge in NY, NJ is unprecedented.
Two major airports reopened and the New York Stock Exchange got back to business Wednesday, while across the river in New Jersey, National Guardsmen rushed to feed and rescue flood victims two days aftersuperstorm Sandy struck.
For the first time since the storm slammed the Northeast, killing at least 63 people and inflicting billions of dollars in damage, brilliant sunshine washed over the nation’s largest city — a striking sight after days of gray skies, rain and wind. The light gave officials and residents a true glimpse of destruction on a scale that the region has never seen before.
At the stock exchange, running on generator power, Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave a thumbs-up and rang the opening bell to whoops from traders on the floor. Trading resumed after the first two-day weather shutdown since the Blizzard of 1888.
New York’s subway system was still down, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo said parts of it will begin running again on Thursday. And he said some commuter rail service between the city and its suburbs would resume on Wednesday afternoon.
In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie and his new BFF Barack Obama toured the devastation. From The New York Times: An Unlikely Political Pair, United by a Disaster.
President Obama toured the storm-tossed boardwalks of New Jersey’s ravaged coastline on Wednesday, in a vivid display of big-government muscle and bipartisan harmony that confronted Mitt Romney with a vexing challenge just as he returned to the campaign trail in Florida.
The scene of Mr. Obama greeting his onetime political antagonist Gov. Chris Christie in Atlantic City was a striking departure from what has become an increasingly bitter campaign, marked by sharp divisions between Mr. Romney’s more limited view of the federal role and Mr. Obama’s more expansive vision. The president placed a hand on Mr. Christie’s back and guided him to Marine One, where the two men shared a grim flight over shattered sea walls, burning houses and a submerged roller coaster.
Speaking to storm victims at a community center in the hard-hit town of Brigantine, Mr. Obama said, “We are going to be here for the long haul.” Mr. Christie thanked the president for his visit, saying, “It’s really important to have the president of the United States acknowledge all the suffering that’s going on here in New Jersey.”
The tableau of bipartisan cooperation, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s highly visible role in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, has put Mr. Romney in an awkward position…
As for Mitt Romney, he was getting hammered by the media in Ohio for two ads in which he falsely implied that Chrysler and GM were planning to ship American jobs to China. It looks to me as if Romney has given up the ghost in Ohio, because he headed to Florida yesterday, where a new Quinnipiac poll shows Obama leading by one point.
And last night the NYT editorial board slammed Romney for “cross[ing] a red line.”
When General Motors tells a presidential campaign that it is engaging in “cynical campaign politics at its worst,” that’s a pretty good signal that the campaign has crossed a red line and ought to pull back. Not Mitt Romney’s campaign. Having broadcast an outrageously deceitful ad attacking the auto bailout, the campaign ignored the howls from carmakers and came back with more.
Mr. Romney apparently plans to end his race as he began it: playing lowest-common-denominator politics, saying anything necessary to achieve power and blithely deceiving voters desperate for clarity and truth.
I think Romney may have finally sunk his campaign with those lying ads about the auto bailout. I wonder if that has contributed to polls that show Obama widening his leads in Michigan and Wisconsin?
In the Nebraska Senate Race, Bob Kerrey has been moving up in the polls, and last night Omaha.com broke some exciting news that could put him over the top: Chuck Hagel to endorse Bob Kerrey.
A spokesman with Kerrey’s campaign says Hagel – a former Nebraska U.S. Senator and a Republican – will back Kerrey in his race against Republican Deb Fischer.
Hagel’s endorsement comes as polls have shown the race between Kerrey and Fischer tightening down the home stretch.
Hagel’s backing could go a long way with independents. And, it clearly underscores Kerrey’s contention that he is the person in the race who can win Republican and Democratic support.
If Kerry, Claire McCaskill, Tammy Baldwin, and Elizabeth Warren, and perhaps Joe Donnelly can win their races, the Democrats should at least hold their majority in the Senate.
In Massachusetts, Liz Warren began making her final arguments.
As both Massachusetts Senate candidates deliver their final messages to voters, Warren is drawing on one major advantage she has in the state: demographics. According to the Secretary of State, registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans in Massachusetts by a more than a three to one margin. As the race remains close, Warren and her supporters are using a partisan argument to rally the Democratic base, and encourage activists to turn out the vote on Warren’s behalf. Elect Brown, Warren and her supporters argue, and Republicans will control the U.S. Senate.
Introducing Warren to a crowd of volunteers and activists at Warren’s Haverhill field office on Wednesday, Haverhill Mayor James Fiorentini said he came from a Halloween party. “Everyone was dressed up in really scary costumes, so I was going to dress up as (Republican Senate Minority Leader) Mitch McConnell,” he said, to laughter. “Because can you think of anything scarier than (Republican House Speaker) John Boehner in the House of Representatives or Mitch McConnell in the Senate?”
“There’s only one vote that counts and that’s the vote about which party is going to control the United States Senate,” Fiorentini continued. “We know which way Scott Brown is going to vote.”
Warren also released a great new ad that may serve as a closing argument: For All Our Families.
Right now in Indiana Joe Donnelly is leading Richard Mourdock by 7 percentage points.
I’ll end with a couple of powerful long reads.
From Truthout: What Does Romney’s Campaign of Lies Say About Our Country? Here’s the first paragraph:
Last week Mitt Romney delivered possibly the most dishonest presidential campaign speech in American history. It contains lie after lie, distortion after distortion, and trick after trick. The fact that a person capable of giving such a speech has reached this level suggests that it may be too late to salvage the country. Our institutions may be corrupted beyond repair.
Please check it out.
At Alternet, Matthew Fleisher writes: Why I Infiltrated One of the Most Secretive and Powerful Republican Organizations in the Country. This one is really long, but well worth reading. Here’s the teaser:
The Lincoln Club is the real deal. And if they have their way, Citizens United is just the beginning of their political ambitions for the country.
That’s it for me. I hope you found something to your liking. Now what are you reading and blogging about today?
Tara Wall was put to the Soledad Truth treatment yesterday. She was unable to defend a contradictory set of statements on Israel and Palestine made by Wall yesterday after Romney’s NeoCon speech.
The exchange over the Israel/Palestine conflict has attracted the most attention, with O’Brien grilling Wall on Romney’s “contradictory positions.”
The topic of the segment wasRomney’s foreign policy speech earlier today at the Virginia Military Institute.
O’Brien first tried to get into the fine points of Romney’s foreign policy, questioning whether Romney was laying out any different options on Iran than President Obama. O’Brien asked three questions about Iran, but Wall was not interested in getting into specifics.
Then O’Brien turned to the Middle East. O’Brien juxtaposed the remarks Romney made at the infamous Florida fundraiser that was secretly taped, and his planned remarks today. In Florida, Romney said that peace with the Palestinians was not an option because the “pathway to peace is almost unthinkable to accomplish”–meaning a Palestinian state is unthinkable.
But in Virginia, Romney vowed to work for a “democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the Jewish state of Israel.”
O’Brien asked Wall about these “contradictory” positions. Wall fired back, and said, “the fact is that it’s the president who’s failed.” O’Brien then talked over Wall’s remarks, saying, “Tara, that was an excellent shift, but answer for me about Gov. Romney.”
O’Brien repeatedly tried to get an answer to her question, but it was to no avail. “I’m not going to get into a big foreign policy debate with you here,” said Wall, explaining that foreign policy is not in her purview in the campaign
Wouldn’t it be nice if all the media wouldn’t act like stage props and actually call out campaigns on inconsistencies and lies?
Interestingly enough,Paul Ryan was rude to a reporter in Michigan who was evidently asking unwanted questions about guns and violence. There’s some indication that Ryan actually walked off the interview.
A Michigan ABC affiliate posted video of an animated exchange between Paul Ryan and a local reporter on Monday evening, prompting questions about whether Ryan walked out of the interview.
When it aired, reporter Terry Camp characterized the interview as ending badly, and said Ryan was “not specific in his answers.” Meanwhile, the Ryan campaign said the candidate was asked a “weird question” relating gun violence to tax cuts.
The Ryan campaign said the interview had simply run past its allotted time, but that Ryan didn’t end the interview prematurely. Video of the interview that was posted to YouTube shows an off-camera aide (later identified as Ryan spokesman Michael Steel) calling the interview to a halt while Ryan is standing, still in casual conversation with the reporter while removing his microphone.
“Does the country have a gun problem?” Camp asked Ryan during the interview, held in the library of the Cornerstone School.
“This country has a crime problem,” Ryan responded.
I guess that Republicans expect the “Fox” treatment wherever they go. Good to know that some reporters keep after them. I just wish they all would!!
I’m really beat after two nights of watching the horror show down in Tampa, so today’s post is going to be a link dump. Luckily, there are lots of good reads out there.
Yesterday we were talking about how the media is handling the blatant lies of the Romney campaign on welfare and medicare. Some media outlets have actually begun calling them out and using words like “false” and even “lies.”
Some links on that topic–some of which come from yesterday’s comments, because I think this is such an important issue.
Jonathan Chait: Mitt Doesn’t Care About Your Facts.
Brian Beutler: A Critical Juncture (h/t RalphB)
James Fallows: Bit by Bit It Takes Shape: Media Evolution for the ‘Post-Truth’ Age (h/t JJ)
Robert Reich: How Romney Keeps Lying Through HIs Big White Teeth
Dave Wiegel: “You Didn’t Build That”…But You Sure Did Edit It.
Now, some important reads on Romney/Ryan and race-baiting.
Harold Meyerson: In modern GOP, the old South returns (h/t RalphB)
Ron Fournier: Why (and How) Romney is Playing the Race Card (h/t JJ)
Joan Walsh: Paul Ryan and the GOP’s New Dog Whistle Politics
By now everyone knows that a CNN camera woman was harassed at the GOP Convention. Two attendees reportedly threw nuts at her and said “This is how we feed animals.” They were removed, but no one knows if they were permanently banned. CNN has chosen not to reveal the camera woman’s name or the names of the perpetrators–why?
Greg Sargent: CNN should reveal details of nut-throwing incident
Digby harked back to the famous incident when Dan Rather was attacked by a security person at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968 and pointed out that Rather and Walter Cronkite didn’t shrink from commenting on the thuggish behavior.
Several links about Tuesday night’s top speakers, Ann Romney and Chris Christie
Connor Friedersdorf: Chris Christie’s RNC Speech Misled Viewers on Medicare
Andrew Rosenthal: Chris Christie: But Enough About Mitt, Let’s Talk About Me
Errol Lewis: Tough Truths About Christie’s New Jersey
E.J. Graff: Ann Romney Loves Women!
Don’t Miss this one! Ed Kilgore: Who’s Zoomin’ Who on Abortion?
E.J. Dionne: In defense of Juan Williams (and Chris Matthews)
Today is the last day of the GOP Convention, and tonight is Mitt’s big moment!
Gail Collins: Renovating Mitt Romney
Dana Millbank: Republicans playing Brutus
Michael Kinsley: Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Todd Akin: Going for distance
Now what are you reading and blogging about today?
The ongoing hullabaloo over the timing of Mitt Romney’s exit from Bain has become a bit absurd. The Romney camp and Bain insist that Romney fully retired in February 1999 from the private equity firm he founded and owned—even though in the past he and Bain have described his departure as a part-time leave—and evidence has emerged (including Securities and Exchange documents I first reported) showing that Romney was involved to some extent in Bain as late as 2002, while he continued to maintain his ownership of the firm and its various entities. Romney has been working hard to avoid being held responsible for any post-February 1999 Bain deals that might have resulted in bankruptcies or outsourcing. But there is another reason for the Romney crew to worry about this controversy: Romney may have made a false statement on a federal financial disclosure form, and doing so is a felony punishable by up to one year of imprisonment and a $50,000 fine.
Like all presidential candidates, Romney has to submit a financial disclosure statement to the Office of Government Ethics. He filed his most recent one last month, and the disclosure contains a very clearly stated footnote:
Mr. Romney retired from Bain Capital on February 11, 1999 to head the Salt Lake [Olympics] Organizing Committee. Since February 11, 1999, Mr. Romney has not had any active role with any Bain Capital entity and has not been involved in the operations of any Bain Capital entity in any way.
There’s no ambiguity there: not involved in Bain operations in any way. But that’s not true.
At the link, Corn enumerates many SEC filings that put the lie to Romney’s statement to the Office of Government Ethics. In addition, Corn blasts Glenn Kessler, “fact-checker” for the WaPo for his sycophantic defenses of Romney’s lies and half-truths. Read the whole thing at the link.
Also at Mother Jones, Adam Serwer has compiled a list of “everything we know so far about Romney and Bain.”
Please use this as an open thread. JJ will have a cartoon post later on.
This morning I watched part of Diane Sawyer’s interview with Ann and Mitt Romney. Sawyer had asked viewers what questions they’d like to ask the Romneys, and the subject most asked about was why they had taken a 12-hour road trip with their Irish Setter Seamus in a “crate” (Ann’s word) on the roof of their station wagon. (Here’s a post I wrote about this awful episode last year.)
“Honestly, would you do it again?” Sawyer asked. Both Romneys laughed heartily in their condescending, entitled way. “Certainly not with the attention it’s received,” Mitt replied, still laughing.
Mitt Romney told Sawyer that the Seamus attacks were the most wounding of the campaign “so far,” but Anne Romney insisted the dog loved traveling that way and looked forward to trips.
“The dog loved it,” Ann Romney said. “He would see that crate and, you know, he would, like, go crazy because he was going with us on vacation. It was to me a kinder thing to bring him along than to leave him in the kennel for two weeks.”
Adding to the left’s narrative that Romney had little compassion for the animal is a detail from the 1983 trip that Ann Romney confirmed to Sawyer. The dog became sick, defecating all over itself and the windshield of the car, leading Romney to hose them both off before they continued on the drive to Canada.
“Once, he — we traveled all the time — and he ate the turkey on the counter. I mean, he had the runs,” Ann Romney said, laughing as she explained how the dog got diarrhea.
Ha ha ha ha. So funny. Ann said that for Seamus it was like riding a motorcycle or a roller coaster. He enjoyed it, both Romney have said. Now who here thinks it would be fun to ride a roller coaster for 12 hours straight? As reminder, here’s an expert opinion about what it was really like for Seamus that I linked to in my post a year ago.
And when the contents of Seamus’ bowels streamed down the car windows, Mitt pulled into a gas station, hosed down the dog, the crate, and the car; put Seamus back in the crate (still soaking wet, presumably), and drove blithely onward to Ontario and his family’s ritzy summer retreat.
The more I thought about it, the angrier I got; and I ended up surfing around for hours searching for more information. I learned that Mitt’s sister, Jane claimed to have cared for Seamus for a time after the trip to Canada in 1983. Jane told The Boston Globe that Seamus loved to wander around town:
[He] was such a social dog that he often left Mitt Romney’s Belmont home to visit his “dog friends” around town. “He kept ending up at the pound,” she says. “They were worried about him getting hit crossing the street.” So a few years after Seamus’s ride to Canada, Mitt sent Seamus to live for a time with Jane and her family in California. “We had more space, so he could roam more freely,” she says.
I had to wonder if Seamus was actually trying to escape his overbearing master, the Mittster. Then finally, I came across an article from this past January at Politiker that raised the possibility that Seamus never returned from the 1983 trip to Canada.
Mitt Romney may not have told the whole truth about the scandalous tale of his Irish Setter, Seamus, being strapped to the roof of his car during a 12-hour family road trip to Canada. According to a trusted Politicker tipster, two of Mr. Romney’s sons had an off-record conversation with reporters where they revealed the dog ran away when they reached their destination on that infamous journey in 1983.
Mr. Romney’s wife, Ann, has previously said Seamus survived the trip and went on to live to a “ripe old age.” As of this writing, Mr. Romney’s campaign has not responded to multiple requests for comment on this story.
Aha! The plot thickens. And then, what do you know? Just today, the Politicker landed another scoop. Jane Romney’s ex-husband, Bruce H. Robinson, spilled the beans on his former wife and brother-in-law. It seems that the couple divorced in 1980–three years before the fateful trip–and Seamus stayed with them before they broke up.
Mr. Robinson, a doctor and nephew of the late president of the Mormon Church Gordon Hinckley, married
Jane Romney in 1958. In 1968, he flew to France to care for Mr. Romney after the future White House hopeful was nearly killed in a car crash while working as a Mormon missionary. Mr. Robinson told us he and Jane Romney did indeed take Seamus to live with them in California, but that it was before 1980 (the vacation in question happened in 1983), and they gave the dog back prior to the notorious rooftop road trip.
Mr. Robinson said Mitt and Ann Romney gave Seamus away because they “couldn’t handle” the dog, which Mr. Robinson described as “a wanderer” who had a propensity for running away.
“They had a couple of their little boys at that point,” Mr. Robinson said. “So they gave him to us.”
He thinks this was in the late 1970s–it had to be before 1980, after which time the couple no longer lived together.
“We were living in the Sacramento area, and so, Jane and I, in the 70′s, I’d say ’78 or so, but I’m not 100 percent sure about that,” Mr. Robinson said. “So, we took care of Seamus, a beautiful, magnificent dog. We had three other dogs of our own, but we had an acre of property overlooking the American River, so we had lots of land to take care of these dogs and for them to roam around in.”
Mr. Robinson said he’s certain they gave the dog back to the Romneys when he and Jane got divorced in 1980. At that point, Jane went to live in Southern California, and Mr. Robinson said she was unable to “handle the dog” on her own.
Mr. Robinson told Polticker that Seamus ran away a lot when he was staying with them, just as he had in Belmont.
So what really happened to Seamus? Did he run away in Canada and seek asylum with a more loving, supportive family? Or did he expire from the stress of riding mile after torturous mile on the roof of a car. Did he die in that “crate” that Ann Romney claims he loved so much? What really happened to Seamus?
The Romneys must be pressed for truthful answers. They cannot be permitted to continue laughing this off in their usual high-handed, dismissive manner. Americans want the truth!