It has been a difficult day. So here is a few tweets and stuff:
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On this Presidents’ Day let us remember those who preceded us. The founders created a perfect system of checks and balances but it only works if corruption doesn’t become a systemic problem the way that it has. Our last hope lies in driving out the scourge next election and all those in congress who enable him. • #presidentsday #happypresidentsday #notmypresident #notmypresidentsday #georgewashington #benfranklin #foundingfathers #checksandbalances #votethemout #voteblue #votebluenomatterwho
Seems like we are losing many special people lately:
This is an open thread.
Today’s post is going to focus on the few days…and the shooting deaths of two black men by police.
By now I am sure you have heard of #TerenceCrutcher …you may not have yet heard of #KeithLamontScott. The fact that I’ve put their names in #hashtag format should give you a huge clue…these two men are the latest men to be killed by police while being black.
A fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man by a white officer has reopened fresh wounds in this city with a fraught history among African Americans, white residents and police officers.
A graphic police video shows Terence Crutcher, 40, being fatally shot by a police officer Friday night as he walks with his hands up toward his SUV, stalled out in the middle of the road.
Video at that link and more…
The police shooting victim in Charlotte, North Carolina has been identified by friends and family as Keith Lamont Scott, 43. The officer who shot Scott has been identified as Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Brentley Vinson.
UPDATE: 9/20/16, 9:00 p.m. ET — The victim’s daughter, Lyric Scott, has gone live again from a growing protest in response to the police shooting of her father.
***ORIGINAL STORY BELOW***
A disabled black man has died at the hospital after being shot by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Tuesday afternoon on Old Concord Road in University City, a subdivision of Charlotte, NC.
Police said they were searching for someone who had outstanding warrants when they saw a man with what they believed to be a gun leave a vehicle.
According to police reports, the man, who has not been named, returned to his vehicle. When they approached the man, they claim he “posed an imminent deadly threat to the officers” and one of them opened fire. An eyewitness told the victim’s daughter that a Taser was used on her father, then he was shot at least three times.
Medics arrived and the injured man was taken to Carolinas Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead.
The victim was not the subject of the initial search, said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney.
I have so much to say, but my internet is acting up or wordpress is doing something wonky…I will give you plenty of links for now…more to be said in the comments.
That statement about her brother was not a bad bad dude…oh wow.
The U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the police killing of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Friday, but his family is demanding that the charges against the involved officer be filed immediately.
Police were originally responding to an unrelated call when they approached Crutcher’s vehicle, which had been stalled in the middle of the street. Shortly after the officers arrived, one officer deployed his taser on Crutcher who stood by his car. Moments later, Officer Betty Shelby, who is white, fatally shot Crutcher, who was black and unarmed, while he had his hands raised in the air, according to this graphic video footage released on Monday. Inone video that was captured by an overhead helicopter, Crutcher is seen standing by his car while a police officer is overheard describing him as a “bad dude.”
“That big ‘bad dude’ ― his life mattered,” Crutcher’s twin sister Tiffany Crutcher told reporters on Monday, according to Tulsa World. She went on to demand an end to police brutality. “The chain breaks here. We’re going to stop it right here in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This is bigger than us right here. We’re going to stop it right here.”
Tiffany, who just celebrated her 40th birthday with her brother, mentioned a recent text message she received from Terence that she said read, “I’m going to show you. I’m going to make you all proud.”
She expressed her grievance over his loss and how Terence will never get that chance, “because of the negligence and the incompetency and the insensitivity, and because he was a big, ‘bad dude,’” Tiffany said. “And so we’re demanding today, immediately, that charges are pressed against this officer that was incompetent, that took my brother’s life.”
“When Terence was shot, he laid on the ground bleeding out without any assistance,” Dario Solomon-Simmons, an attorney for the family and longtime family friend, said at the conference. “Terence died on that street by himself in his own blood, without any help.”
“This video is extremely disturbing,” he added. “Without a doubt we believe this was an unjustified shooting that should not have happened.”
The anger around Crutcher’s death has been felt from many on social media who have poured out their grievances online over the police killing of yet another unarmed black man with the trending hashtag #TerenceCrutcher. However, as the mourning continues, Crutcher’s sister has asked that people remain peaceful as they demonstrate their anger over his death.
“Just know that our voices will be heard,” she said. “The video will speak for itself. Let’s protest. Let’s do what we have to do, but let’s just make sure that we do it peacefully, to respect the culture of (the Crutcher family).”
This next link is from a comment by a woman who has an adopted black son…she lives in Tulsa.
On the Kaepernick protest:
Here’s How Many Black People Have Been Killed By Police Since Colin Kaepernick Began Protesting | Huffington Post Oh yeah, it has only been one month.
At least 15 black people have died during encounters with the police since San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began protesting police violence by kneeling before NFL games, based on numbers compiled by The Guardian.
Kaepernick’s decision to sit or take a knee during the national anthem first drew attention after his team’s Aug. 26 preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, when he told NFL.com that he was “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Since then, Kaepernick’s continued protest has drawn considerable criticism from politicians, police unions, pundits, other professional athletesand many on social media who have opposed both his message and his method of conveying it.
But the problem Kaepernick wants to highlight has continued. And on Monday, it was back in the news again, after police in Tulsa, Oklahoma, released multiple videos that showed the fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher.
The videos show that 40-year-old Crutcher, like so many other black men, was unarmed with his hands in the air when police officers shot and killed him as he returned to his car, which had stalled in the middle of a roadway. The videos run contrary to the department’s initial statements about the shooting, which claimed that Crutcher had ignored officers’ warning to raise his hands.
And lastly a few links that are related to the topic today:
I can’t end this post on a happy note. No way in hell.
This is an open thread of course.
Time lapse photography is something that fascinates me, I think we can look at a picture of a time lapse image and see a metaphor for life. Movement, continuous and repetitive.
(Like the sunset images you see by artist, Matt Molloy. )
Or the long exposure method, where the camera shutter remains open for a long period of time and exposes the film to the image it is photographing.
These particular long exposed photos are blurred in appearance. Creating a glowing, disoriented, disturbed, ghostlike, or drugged feeling when you look at them.
It seems as if we are living in a time lapsed state of mind, as you have been reading the Boston Boomer’s and Dak’s coverage of late, the mess in Missouri is just the result of what has been building over time. Like the images you will see below throughout the post…the same scenarios have been played out all over the US. The actual persons involved may be different, but the general characteristics are the same. When we see the reports of racial violence play out on the news, we feel that repetition. Like the time lapsed images, the scenes become blurred. Yet we know what happens at the end of the shot. There is a good example of the differences in media treatment of violence here by the way: When The Media Treats White Suspects And Killers Better Than Black Victims be sure to look at that….No need to belabor the point, I will just let this op/ed by Farai Chideya from the Guardian do that for me.
(One note however, it makes a uncomfortable point when Rand Paul gets a pat on the back from a black woman…considering the neocon racist misogynistic shit he usually spews…but you’ll get the point the author is making.) On race, America has far to go. Ferguson won’t be the last flash point
I spent my very early years in New York, living a very multiracial Sesame Street life, a big swinging bellbottom of a childhood. And then our family moved to Baltimore and the iron curtain of the “colour line” fell. I felt that I had moved from the 1970s through a time warp where black and white were the only two colours and never the twain shall socially meet.
I grew to understand what the 50s were actually like in Baltimore, when my mother, for example, was permitted to buy clothes from the major department store but not try them on. (Heaven forfend some black lady should be in the dressing room, right? You know they leave a residue of blackness on the clothes.)
America has never had one racial reality, but a series of them strung together from San Antonio to Pittsburgh to Appalachia. What we are seeing in Ferguson, Missouri, is the result of life in a specific type of heavily racialised zone. Yes, a city such as New York, where a black man was recently choked to death by police officers, has its own very clear forms of racialisation and it’s a national issue. But the police killing, last week, of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen in Ferguson has sparked national protests because it represents a specific type of racialisation. This is of the majority black city, big or small, with a white economic and political power structure.
Read the whole opinion piece. This is the part about Rand Paul though, it comes in comparison to Obama’s reactions to Ferguson’s Police Departments militarization:
After the killing of another black youth, Trayvon Martin, Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote a seminal piece for Atlantic magazine called “Fear of a Black President”, describing President Obama as “conservative… in the very sphere where he holds singular gravity – race.”
Two years later, with Ferguson, the president still holds tight to that caution about addressing racial inequality. In terms of day-to-day Washington governance, there is no fear of a black president. Congress fears him not, certainly not the Republicans and not even some members of his own party. And now, with a particularly tepid and circular statement on Ferguson, the president has gone even further.
He seems obsessed with convincing white Americans he is not some goblin come to take their privilege away, rather than recognising that, pragmatically, America still has enough deeply held racial biases that he will be perceived as a race man by some, no matter what he does. (Black Americans learned his political strategy on race early in his first term, as a group of leaders of African American organisations came to ask for more White House focus on jobs in black communities and were rebuffed. They held their televised press conference outside the White House in a snowstorm, a nature-made bathetic fallacy.)
Last week, the president delivered a speech that seemed to weigh police intimidation and harassment of protesters and press with acts of vandalism almost equally. “Put simply, we all need to hold ourselves to a high standard, particularly those of us in positions of authority,” he said. “Let’s remember that we’re all part of one American family.”
In this diffuse speech, the president could have spoken out more forcefully against the militarisation of local police forces, as Republican Rand Paul has done. He could have tackled the unacceptable level and variety of unwarranted stops, searches and frisking of black men in particular. For bonus points, he could have gotten into black incarceration rates or, as author Michelle Alexander puts it, the “New Jim Crow”.
You can read the rest at the link. That is something…when an asshole like Rand gets kudos from a black woman who has the phrase “New Jim Crow” in the same paragraph. But I think I get her point….yes? I don’t know. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with her, but she could have pick a different politician to highlight…am I right? Let’s not forget that Paul is the dude who didn’t support the Civil Rights Act…no matter what shit he says now: Wash. Post Recasts Rand Paul As Civil Rights Ally, Forgetting Their Own Reporting | Blog | Media Matters for America
Anyway…I need to move on.
In another Op/Ed, this one from the Sprinfield News-Leader, which is quoted as, “This editorial is the view of the News-Leader Editorial Board, Linda Ramey-Greiwe, President and Publisher, Paul Berry, Executive Director, Cheryl Whitsitt, Managing Editor.” Our Voice: Rights lost in Ferguson riots
It is very good, and I feel it is too important not to quote the entire thing:
On Aug. 9, unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson at 12:01 p.m. in Ferguson. A vigil on Aug. 10 turned violent.
The situation deteriorated from there.
Riots and arrests. Tear gas and rubber bullets. Real bullets, riot gear and military-grade displays of force. Injuries to both protesters and police. Looting and needless destruction of property. For four straight nights, the clashes escalated, the national media descended, and still, no clear information was put forth about the death of a young, unarmed black man. After a day of relative calm gave hope that the situation was beginning to defuse, tempers flared again Friday.
As unrest continues, the blame game is already underway. At this point, it would be easy to join in on the finger-pointing based on half-truths.
It would be easy join the chorus of voices calling out our elected leaders, Gov. Nixon, U.S. Sens. McCaskill and Blunt and President Obama, for waiting so long to intervene.
It would be easy to place blame on the protesters for turning violent and rioting, citing the need for peaceful assembly.
It would be easy to hoist the burden of responsibility onto local authorities in Ferguson for their poor handling of the situation, inciting protesters to riot rather than bringing calm.
It would be easy to join in blaming the media for stirring up the situation by giving attention to it.
It would be easy to, as some are now doing, blame the young man himself for allegedly participating in a theft prior to his altercation with the police.
But there is nothing easy about the situation in Ferguson. A solution for the community will take doing the hard work.
Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri State Highway Patrol is doing the hard work. Rather than waging a battle, Johnson is working to open the lines of communication and erase the artificial boundaries between authorities and protesters.
State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal and St. Louis alderman Antonio French are doing the hard work. Providing on-the-ground leadership, standing up to rioters, calling for peaceful protests and documenting events on Twitter, their work is reason to hope that the community will make it through this crisis.
There is no shortage of people being thrust forward to take the blame for what has happened in Ferguson. But at this moment, as the nation watches a community teetering on the edge of chaos, we must take the time to examine exactly what we are losing.
An unarmed young man was shot and killed by police. His right to due process was violated, which demands an explanation. With an investigation underway, it is our duty as citizens to care as much about the process and outcome of the investigations by the FBI and Department of Justice as we do the riots.
As the black community in Ferguson protested, it was met with aggression, intimidation and eventual force from authorities. Some people rioted, which cannot be condoned in our society and should be dealt with. But many assembled peacefully, and were met with the same treatment. Peacefully assembled crowds had their rights violated as well. We must seek answers as to why.
Two reporters, Wesley Lowery of the Washington Post and Ryan Reilly of the Huffington Post, were taken into custody as they tried to follow police orders to leave a McDonald’s restaurant, where they were working. Other journalists were specifically told to stop reporting what was happening. Again, rights were violated, this time in an attempt to silence the press that is promised to remain free.
Blame is as easy to assign as it is to dodge. At some point, someone will “take responsibility” for what happened. Over the past several years, this has come to mean little more than an acceptance that people will think poorly of the person for a few weeks.
As Americans and Missourians thankful for the rights afforded to us by our Constitution, we must not lose interest in these events because the spectacle stops. Now is the time to wade through the rhetoric in order to hold our government and society accountable for what is happening in Ferguson.
It’s the only way we’ll manage to restore those rights.
Good for the Springfield News-Leader! Damn glad there is a press out there near the heart of the situation that is keeping check on things. The News-Leader is a Gannett newspaper…
As I was getting ready to shut down the laptop, these headlines caught my attention:
It’s around 4:00 AM btw.
Ferguson On Edge On First Night With Curfew Huffington Post
Okay. Next up, another op/ed, a link from last week: Rekha Basu: Iowa summit serves reminder of why religion, politics don’t mix | Opinion | McClatchy DC
Of everything coming out of this year’s Iowa Family Leadership Summit, the fear factor is what stayed with me.
It was a constant, discomfiting undercurrent, like a loose nail poking up in your shoe. It was organization President Bob Vander Plaats declaring this a time of “spiritual warfare,” and speaker Joel Rosenberg announcing America is “on the road to collapse” and “implosion,” and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, warning grimly, “We are living in some very dangerous times.”
The third year of the event sponsored by the self-described Christ-centered organization that seeks to influence policy and elections, brought big name politicians Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz and Rick Perry to Ames, Iowa, this past weekend. They were there to rally the Republican base in the lead-off caucus state. But the upbeat, love-God-and-country tone of previous events appeared at times to have been replaced by a somber, calamitous note of foreboding. Even Satan got a few mentions.
Projected onto a giant screen to punctuate Vander Plaats’ remarks was a video filled with haunting images of Osama bin Laden, Adam Lanza and the Boston marathon bombings. It depicted a rising national debt, marijuana, Boys Scouts, gay rainbow flag and a woman holding up a “Keep abortion legal” sign. It ended with someone yelling, “God is dead. Hail Satan!”
Sponsors and speakers still exalted matrimony and procreation in heterosexual relationships, called for putting God back in the classroom and government, and called abortion murder. But this year’s message was: The nation is in moral decline. Ignore it at your own peril. That was even carried into foreign policy.
I am telling you all, I live in the bible belt. I see these assholes everyday. They are powerful. And they vote.
Rosenberg, an evangelical Christian born to a Jewish father, said the United States must not support a two-state solution in Israel because a sovereign Palestinian state “defies the biblical mandate.” Interesting that a Christian American would presume to tell Palestinian Muslims they don’t deserve a homeland because of what the Bible says. This follows an evangelical belief that Jews from around the world will gather in Israel, where the second coming of Christ will occur and – though Rosenberg didn’t spell this out – be converted to Christianity.
“God loves you but if we don’t receive Christ, there are consequences,” Rosenberg warned.
Is fear a new strategy for the Family Leader and its affiliated Family Research Council and Focus on the Family? Is it a response to flagging interest and political losses? Organizers said there were 1,200 attendees, and that there has been steady growth in three years. But many seats were empty. Is it a concession they’re losing the battle over abortion and gay rights? Abortion has not been completely outlawed, even under a conservative U.S. Supreme Court majority. Having succeeded in getting three justices of the Iowa Supreme Court voted out over same-sex marriage, a few years ago, the Family Leader failed in its more recent campaign against a fourth. Same-sex couples are celebrating wedding anniversaries with children and grandchildren, and the planet has survived.
What the planet might not ultimately survive – global warming – wasn’t on the agenda. In fact, if this were a true gathering of faith leaders, one might have expected some commitment to keeping the environment healthy, some compassion for the poor and immigrants. There were calls for abolishing the entire tax system that sustains the poor in times of need. There were calls for boosting border patrols to turn back young asylum seekers before their cases are heard. Iowa’s governor, Terry Branstad, boasted of having cut 1,400 state employees and cut property taxes, which fund education, more than ever in Iowa history.
But if it were a political forum to vet candidates, a Jewish, Muslim, agnostic or atheist one would have had no place there. In one video, Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, said, “The only place you get right with God is at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ.”
As with the other links, I urge you to read it all. That blurred scene that distorts and disturbs….you can feel it!
On the ridiculous notion, I must say this could have been me: South Carolina Mom Arrested For Cursing In Front Of Her Kids
Parents, it looks like it’s time to be ever-vigilant about your choice of words. Dropping an F-bomb in front of your kids can land you in jail.
Mom Danielle Wolf was grocery shopping at a Kroger store in North Augusta, South Carolina when she was arrested for disorderly conduct after cursing in the presence of her two daughters, WJBF News Channel 6 reports.
According to the incident report from the North Augusta Department Of Public Safety, Wolf yelled at her children, told them to “stop squishing the f*cking bread,” and used “similar phrases multiple times.” Another woman at the store then approached the mother and asked her to stop using that language with her children.
But Wolf insists this is not what happened. “She’s like, ‘you told that they were smashing the bread’, and I said ‘no’ I said that to my husband, that he was smashing the bread by throwing the frozen pizzas on top of it,” she told WJBF.
But the woman, who was referred to “Ms. Smith” in the police report and later identified as “Michelle” by NBC affiliate WAGT, reported Wolf to the authorities, leading to the mother’s arrest for disorderly conduct.
“He was like, ‘You’re under arrest’… right in front of kids, in front of my husband, in front of customers,” Wolf told WJBF of the officer who approached her in the store. She added, “I didn’t harm nobody. I didn’t hurt nobody. The lady said she was having a bad day. So, because you’re having a bad day you’re going to ruin somebody’s life.”
Perhaps arresting the mother in front of her kids was more traumatic than telling the dumbass husband to stop “squishing the fucking bread.”
In the world of Amazon and the Washington Post, a buck is a buck: Bezos-owned Washington Post now inserting gross Amazon affiliate links into news articles | PandoDaily
Six paragraphs into the story, we find this…
…a “buy it now” button, wedged into editorial copy and linked to an affiliate account of Amazon.
A quick skim around the WaPost site suggests this is something the Post is doing with all of its book reviews now, as well as on news items and even letters to the editor. The link to the Roald Dahl book links to the Amazon affiliate ID “slatmaga-20″ (presumably short for Slate Magazine, per the Post’s ties with that publication). That ID can also be found in a link within this letter to the editor. Meanwhile, this music book review links to the Amazon affiliate ID “thewaspost-03″.
Despite the various IDs being used, one thing is very clear: The Washington Post now sees reviews of books, and even news reports about books, as fair game for selling those same to readers, editorial independence be dammed.
Shit. What do you think will come next? Brought to you by Carl’s Jr.
(Hope you get that commercial reference.)
This post is getting real…real…real long so let’s just link dump for a bit. After the jump.
The unbelievable number of arrests of public officials due to public corruption during the last week has been mind blowing. I thought I’d highlight a few of the goings on today.
First up, have they found the Smoking Gun in Cristie’s Bridge Scandal? Only time will tell, but, I really think it’s just a matter of time before he has to resign as Governor of New Jersey.
The Port Authority official who directed the shutdown of lanes to the George Washington Bridge said that he informed Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey about it at a Sept. 11 memorial ceremony while the lanes were closed, according to an internal review that lawyers for the governor released on Thursday.
The official, David Wildstein, who was a longtime political ally of the governor, told Mr. Christie’s press secretary, Michael Drewniak, of the conversation at a dinner in December, on the eve of his resignation from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, according to the inquiry.
But the report said that Mr. Christie did not recall Mr. Wildstein’s raising the topic during their interaction and, in a sweeping claim of vindication, found no evidence that he — or any current members of his staff — was involved in or aware of the scheme before it snarled traffic for thousands of commuters in Fort Lee, N.J., from Sept. 9 to the morning of Sept. 12.
The number of California Democrats in the state’s Senate chambers subject to arrest for public corruption is on the arise. This is another incredible example of a pig at the pubic trough. How on earth did this guy get elected in the first place?
If you thought the charges against Leland Yee would be bad, you had no idea. As in, he offered to set up an arms deal with Islamic rebels for $2 million in cash. As in, he has ties to a gangster namedShrimp Boy. As in, he makes corrupt state senator Clay Davis from The Wire look like George Washington. You can read the whole affidavit here, but it’s really, really long, so we’ve gone ahead and pulled out the highlights. The allegations (and for now they are only that—allegations) are cinematic, staggering, and remarkable in their scope. Here they are, in descending order ofsheeeeeeeeeeeit:
Yee told an FBI agent to give him a shopping list of guns: “Senator Yee asked [the agent] to provide an inventory list of desired weapons […] [The agent] told Yee he would deliver $2,000,000 cash.”
Yee could arrange from some serious firepower: “[The agent] asked about shoulder fired automatic weapons. Senator Yee responded by saying the automatic weapons are the equivalent to the “M16″ Automatic Service Weapon […] [The agent] asked about the availability of shoulder fire missiles or rockets. Senator Yee responded ‘I told him about the rockets and things like that.'”
Yee took personal responsibility for delivering the weapons: “Senator Yee said, ‘We’re interested’ in arranging the weapons deal […] and said of the arms dealer, ‘He’s going to rely on me, because ultimately it’s going to be me. [The agent] stated he would compensate Yee for brokering the relationship and arms deal.”
Yee was in it for the cash: “Senator Yee said, ‘Do I think we can make some money? I think we can make some money. Do I think we can get the good? I think we can get the goods.'”
Yee masterminded a complex scheme to import illegal weapons: “Keith Jackson [a political consultant who worked as Yee’s fundraiser] told [an agent] that Senator Yee had a contact who deals in arms trafficking. This purported arms dealer was later identified. Jackson requested [a campaign donation] on behalf of Senator Yee, for Senator Yee to facilitate a meeting with arms dealer with the intent of [the agent] to purportedly purchase a large number of weapons to be imported through the Port of Newark, New Jersey. During a meeting […] Senator Yee discussed certain details of the specific types of weapons [the agent] was interested in buying and importing.”
Yee had connection with Filipino rebel groups: “Keith Jackson advised that Senator Yee had an unidentified Filipino associate who was supplying ‘heavy’ weapons to rebel groups in the Philippines.”
Including Muslim terrorists: “According to Senator Yee, Mindanao was largely population by Muslim rebel groups who were fighting the federal government. Yee continued by saying the Muslim rebels had no problem ‘kidnapping individuals, killing individuals, and extorting them for ransom.”
In specific the Moro Islamic Liberation Front: “[The agent] asked about the major Muslim organizations in the Mindanao region of the Philippines. Senator Yee responded by saying ‘M.I.L.F.'”
Yee allegedly wasn’t making up the identity of his arms dealer: “This purported arms dealer was later identified.”
And, Russian arms dealers: “According to Senator Yee, the arms dealer source the weapons from Russia.”
Yee knew he was on the wrong side of the law: “Despite complaining about [the agent’s] tendency to speak frankly and tie payment to performance […] Senator Yee and Keith Jackson […] never walked away from quid pro quo requests.”
Yee took envelopes full of cash to influence marijuana policy: “The group discussed the status of medical marijuana policy and the politics of state marijuana regulation. [The agent] took an envelope containing $11,000 in cash and put it on the table in front of Yee and Jackson. [The agent] stated, “this is a campaign donation […] That’s for the meeting with [another, un-named State Senator]. [The agent] said his contributions were ‘not coming in the form of checks.’ The envelope remained on the table for the duration of the meeting […] As Yee and Jackson got up to leave, Yee made a gesture to Jackson toward the envelope of cash, but Jackson did not see the gesture. Senator Yee then walked over Jackson, tapped him on the back, again gestured to the enveloped, and said, ‘take that.” Jackson picked up the envelope.”
Yee nickled and dimed the FBI agent over the price of his bribe: “[The agent] told Senator Yee that he was paying for the meetings and handed en envelope with $10,000 cash to Jackson while telling Senator Yee that the playing field was now level […] [The agent] asked Senator Yee how much he would to introduce marijuana legislation. Senator Yee said that he would have to think about the number.”
The FBI got to Yee through a Chinatown gang: “During the course of multiple undercover operations, [an undercover agent] was brought into a criminal relationship with many of the targets. The purpose of this criminal relationship was for Chow [and others] to launder [the agent’s] money, purported to have been derived from illegal activities […] In further support of [the agent’s] legend, [he] portrayed himself to Chow and others as an east coast member of La Cosa Nostra, an Italian organized crime syndicate. Chow, as the Dragonhead, was the supervisor of the criminal relationship.”
Yee’s fundraiser Keith Jackson was the go-between man: “In addition to his relationship with Chow and the Chee Kung Tong, Jackson is also a close associate with, and has a long-time relationship with, Senator Yee. Keith Jackson owns and runs a business called ‘Jackson Consultancy,’ a San Francisco based consulting firm. During the time frame from at least May 2011 through the present, Keith Jackson has been involved in raising campaign funds for Senator Yee.”
Yee exceeded campaign contribution limits in his mayoral bid: “Keith Jackson solicited [an undercover agent] to make contributions to Senator Yee’s San Francisco mayoral campaign [including donations] in excess of the $500 individual donation limit. [The agent] declined […] but introduced Keith Jackson and Senator Yee to […] another undercover FBI agent. Keith Jackson and Senator Yee then solicited [the second agent] for campaign contributions, and [he] made at least one personal donation in the amount of $5,000 to Senator Yee’s mayoral campaign.”
Yee allegedly traded favors directly for campaign cash: “In connection with efforts to retire [his] mayoral campaign debt, Senator Yee and Keith Jackson agreed that Senator Yee would make a telephone call to a manager with the California Department of Public Health in support of a contract under consideration with [an undercover agent’s] purported client […] in exchange for a $10,000 campaign donation. Senator Yee made the call on October 18, 2012 […] On November 19, 2012, Keith Jackson accepted the $10,000 cash donation.”
Not just once, but twice: “Senator Yee and Keith Jackson agreed to [the agent’s] request that Senator Yee provide an official State Senate proclamation honoring the Chee Kung Tong in exchange for a $6,800 campaign donation, the maximum individual donation amount allowed by law.”
Not twice, but three times: “Senator Yee and Keith Jackson agreed that in exchange for campaign donations, Senator Yee would introduce a donor to state legislators who had influence over pending and proposed medical marijuana legislation […] The donor was another FBI undercover agent, who was posing as a businessman involved in medical marijuana in Arizona and wanted to expand his business interests to California. On June 20, 2013, Senator Yee made one such introduction [and the agent] delivered $11,000 cash to Senator Yee and Keith Jackson on June 22, 2013.”
Yee yearned for a different life: “Senator Yee stated he was unhappy with his life and said, ‘There is a part of me that wants to be like you […] Just be a free agent out there.” Senator Yee told [the agent] that he wanted to hide out in the Philippines.”
Meanwhile, the recently elected Mayor of Charlotte, NC has just resigned due to corruption charges. His charges correspond to his time on the City Council.
The mayor of Charlotte resigned Wednesday hours after his arrest on public corruption charges.
Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon is accused of accepting about $48,000 in bribes from undercover FBI agents posing as businessmen who wanted to do business in the city.
Cannon had been in office 114 days when he was arrested and charged Wednesday.
A spokesman for the city said Cannon submitted his letter Wednesday to the city manager and attorney. In his letter, Cannon said the pending charges will create too much of a distraction for the business of the city to go forward.
Cannon’s resignation is effective immediately, said City Manager Ron Carlee. Mayor Pro-tem Michael Barnes will serve as interim mayor until the City Council appoints a councilmember as the new mayor.
Cannon, 47, faces several charges including theft and bribery.
Cannon’s arrest followed an undercover investigation that began in August 2010. Authorities allege Cannon solicited and accepted cash from the agents who were posing as real estate developers and investors.
Cannon, a Charlotte native, allegedly accepted bribes in exchange for the privileges of his position as an elected official, whether as mayor, mayor pro-tem or a city council member.
If convicted of all charges, he faces 20 years in prison and more than $1 million in fines.
Cannon, a Democrat, was elected mayor in November, replacing Anthony Foxx, who was named Transportation Secretary by President Barack Obama.
The FBI said Cannon accepted money from agents on five separate occasions. The last was on Feb. 21, 2014. He is accused of accepting $20,000 in cash at the mayor’s office. The exchanges began in January 2013, according to the Department of Justice.
We insist that we are a democracy. How is this possible with so many rich people willing to bribe our public officials? How many billionaires are buying justice and our law making system? Former Clinton Secretary of Labor Robert Reich has been preaching to my choir about the recent binge of rent seeking billionaires and more than willing to accept the political pay off politicians.
But in using their vast wealth to change those rules and laws in order to fit their political views, the Koch brothers are undermining our democracy. That’s a betrayal of the most precious thing Americans share.
The Kochs exemplify a new reality that strikes at the heart of America. The vast wealth that has accumulated at the top of the American economy is not itself the problem. The problem is that political power tends to rise to where the money is. And this combination of great wealth with political power leads to greater and greater accumulations and concentrations of both — tilting the playing field in favor of the Kochs and their ilk, and against the rest of us.
America is not yet an oligarchy, but that’s where the Koch’s and a few other billionaires are taking us.
American democracy used to depend on political parties that more or less represented most of us. Political scientists of the 1950s and 1960s marveled at American “pluralism,” by which they meant the capacities of parties and other membership groups to reflect the preferences of the vast majority of citizens.
Then around a quarter century ago, as income and wealth began concentrating at the top, the Republican and Democratic Parties started to morph into mechanisms for extracting money, mostly from wealthy people.
Finally, after the Supreme Court’s “Citizen’s United” decision in 2010, billionaires began creating their own political mechanisms, separate from the political parties. They started providing big money directly to political candidates of their choice, and creating their own media campaigns to sway public opinion toward their own views.
So far in the 2014 election cycle, “Americans for Prosperity,” the Koch brother’s political front group, has aired more than 17,000 broadcast TV commercials, compared with only 2,100 aired by Republican Party groups.
“Americans for Prosperity” has also been outspending top Democratic super PACs in nearly all of the Senate races Republicans are targeting this year. In seven of the nine races the difference in total spending is at least two-to-one and Democratic super PACs have had virtually no air presence in five of the nine states.
What’s a citizen to do?
And, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?