Tuesday Reads: Moose, Black Bears, a Laudable FBI Sting, and Various Slimy PoliticiansPosted: June 26, 2012 Filed under: 2012 presidential campaign, Barack Obama, children, Mitt Romney, U.S. Politics, Voter Ignorance | Tags: Bain Capital, black bears, Carol Aichele, Chateaux at Silver Lake, child prostitution, college students, Cory Booker, Ed Rendell, FBI, Henrietta Kay Dickerson, human trafficking, Innocence Lost, John Kerry, Michael Milken, Mike Turzai, moose, Operation Cross Country VI, outsourcing, Pennsylvania, prostitution rings, Voter ID laws, wildlife 45 Comments
I just had to share this news about wildlife encroaching on Boston’s western suburbs: Black bear and moose sighted in Needham and Wellesley
It was a wild Monday in the suburbs west of Boston, with reports of a black bear ambling down by the Charles River in Needham and sightings of a 600-pound moose racing through backyards and across streets in Wellesley.
Isn’t that exciting?
The suburban sightings follow a rash of similar wildlife reports across the state – coyotes, of course, and more recently, black bears. One particularly adventurous bear spent weeks roaming Cape Cod, romping through cranberry bogs and backyards and spawning bear-themed T-shirts before being tranquilized in Wellfleet.
A bear was spotted in a few yards around Norwood Saturday night, according to local police. And State Environmental Police investigated reports of a black bear in the woods along Route 109 in Dedham Sunday morning. Officers did not locate the bear, and officials speculated it had moved on.
According to the article, the bear population in Massachusetts has increased since it was estimated at 3,000 in 2005 and bears have started to move into the eastern part of the state. It’s mating season now, so the bears are out searching for mates and looking to establish their own territories.
As for the moose:
While authorities combed Wellesley backyards Monday afternoon, people puttered around in their cars hollering out the latest updates on the moose’s location from the police scanners. Groups on foot swapped backyard-sighting stories, and shared pictures on cell phones. They gathered with cameras at the ready to watch as authorities blocked off a home on Lexington Road to search its woody backyard for the wild interloper.
Police searched for hours but were unable to locate the moose.
An FBI Sting Operation Worth Applauding
On Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the FBI broke up prostitution rings across the U.S., freeing 79 underage prostitutes and arresting 105 pimps “as part of the…Innocence Lost National Initiative entitled ‘Operation Cross Country VI.'”
Seventy-nine teenagers held against their will and forced into prostitution were rescued at hotels, truck stops and storefronts in a three-day sweep of sex-trafficking rings across the United States, law enforcement officials said on Monday.
The FBI said 104 alleged pimps were arrested during sting operations in 57 U.S. cities including Atlanta, Sacramento, and Toledo, Ohio. The operation lasted between Thursday and Saturday and involved state and local authorities as well as the FBI.
The teenagers, aged from 13 to 17 years old, were being held in custody until they could be placed with child welfare organizations. They were all U.S. citizens and included 77 girls and two boys, the FBI said.
One of the minors recovered in the sweep reported being involved in prostitution from the age of 11, according to Kevin Perkins, acting executive assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch.
He said the cases were not “one-off” incidents, but evidence of “criminal enterprises” that lure minors in, often through social media, hold them against their will through threats to them or their families, and then traffic them through different U.S. cities.
“Many times the children that are taken in in these types of criminal activities are children that are dissaffected, they are from broken homes, they may be on the street themselves — they are really looking for a meal, they are looking for shelter, they are looking for someone to take care of them, and that’s really the first approach that’s made,” said Perkins.
“Once the child has been taken out of harm’s way, then really the story just begins at that point,” said Perkins. “That’s where the real work starts, where we have to call upon the community, various social welfare agencies, our own office of victim assistance has to work with each child on an individual basis to see what their requirements are.
“This is a very difficult task. These children are very damaged — very harmed, and they need a great deal of help — it’s really taxing the social welfare agencies and it’s something that, going forward, we need to pay particular attention to.”
Unfortunately many of these children may still end up back on the streets. Still, it’s a worthwhile effort, IMHO.
Mitt Romney Updates
ABC News The Note managed to get some details about Romney’s ultra-secret weekend millionaire/billionare donor retreat in Park City, Utah.
FRIDAY AFTERNOON: As attendees entered the Chateaux at Silver Lake, the host hotel, throughout the sunny afternoon, they were handed a Vineyard Vines tan canvas tote bag with navy piping and the words “Believe in America” stitched on the side. Inside the bag was a blue baseball hat with “Romney” written over a circular American flag and a thick white binder, detailing the weekend’s schedule from policy discussions to social events, along with a list of Romney’s upcoming events and Romney for president pins.
In addition to the Romney swag, there was also a typed note from Romney’s National Finance Chairman Spencer Zwick addressed to the attendees by their first names. “Welcome to the first Romney Victory Leadership Retreat! We are very glad you were able to join us for this special weekend. Thank you for the continued support and leadership. On to victory!,” the card read.
Some were even personalized with a handwritten note from Zwick expressing appreciation to the donor and his or her family, signed with his initials “SZ.”
Golf carts whipped attendees around the complex and to discussions on healthcare, Israel, the state of the race, and the financial services industry that were conducted both Friday and Saturday.
There’s lots more at the link.
Despite the complaints of corporate Democrats like Cory Booker and Ed Rendell, the Obama campaign has continued to hammer Mitt Romney over his history as a corporate raider. And over the weekend, there were three in-depth articles on Romney’s time at Bain Capital. Today James Downie highlighted those pieces at the WaPo: Mitt Romney, Bain Capital and a ‘profit-first’ presidency
The first, from Friday’s Post, described how Romney’s Bain was an early supporter of companies that outsourced American jobs. “While Bain was not the largest player in the outsourcing field,” The Post reported, “the private equity firm was involved early on, at a time when the departure of jobs from the United States was beginning to accelerate and new companies were emerging as handmaidens to this outflow of employment.” That outsourcing damaged American job creation was no matter; Bain made its profit.
The second, in Saturday’s New York Times, outlined how, again and again, Romney’s Bain reaped revenue from companies even as they were failing. “At least seven [of the 40 U.S.-based companies that Bain held a majority stake in while Romney was active at Bain] eventually filed for bankruptcy while Bain remained involved, or shortly afterward . . . In some instances, hundreds of employees lost their jobs. In most of those cases, however, records and interviews suggest that Bain and its executives still found a way to make money.” In several of the bankruptcies, companies made their situation worse by borrowing more to return money to Bain and its investors. And even when both outside investors and the companies themselves failed to do well, “lucrative fees helped insulate Bain and its executives.” Again, Bain made its profit.
The third, and perhaps most damning article, came from Sunday’s Boston Globe, depicting Romney’s work with disgraced junk-bond king Michael Milken. In 1988, Romney was searching for money to finance a heavily-leveraged buyout of two small department store chains. “At the time of the deal, it was widely known that Milken and his company were under federal investigation” for insider trading and stock manipulation. Despite this, Romney and his partners, after personally meeting with Milken, went ahead with the deal. With financing from Milken’s shady business, Romney and Bain were able to make a $10 billion investment, not long before Milken was sentenced to 22 months in prison. Bain eventually profited to the tune of $175 million (although the merged department stores later went bankrupt, shortly after dumping its Bain-appointed chief executive). Sure, an important chunk of the financing may have come from questionable sources, but Bain made its profit.
I included the Boston Globe article in my Sunday morning roundup. If you haven’t read it yet, please do.
Meanwhile, the Romney campaign has been taking the John Kerry approach–ignoring the attacks on Romney’s primary claim to presidential qualifications, just as Kerry long ignored the attacks on him by the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.” That didn’t work out so well for Kerry.
Today, President Obama mocked Romney’s response to the outsourcing story at a campaign event in New Hampshire.
The president noted that Romney’s campaign had pushed back against the Post’s scoop by complaining it didn’t sufficiently distinguish between “outsourcing” and “offshoring,” only the latter of which expressly involves shipping jobs overseas.
“You cannot make this stuff up!” Obama said. “What Gov. Romney and his advisers don’t seem to understand is this: If you’re a worker whose job went overseas, you don’t need somebody trying to explain to you the difference between outsourcing and offshoring, you need someone who’s going to wake up every day and fight for American jobs and investment here in the United States.”
Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Law
Pennsylvania is one of the many Republican-controlled states that have instituted voter ID laws. Usually the claim is that these laws will prevent the massive amount of voter fraud that Republicans claim is happening (of course, there’s no evidence whatsoever for this claim). But recently a Pennsylvania Republican state legislator actually told the truth.
House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R-Allegheny) suggested that the House’s end game in passing the Voter ID law was to benefit the GOP politically.
“We are focused on making sure that we meet our obligations that we’ve talked about for years,” said Turzai in a speech to committee members Saturday. He mentioned the law among a laundry list of accomplishments made by the GOP-run legislature.
“Pro-Second Amendment? The Castle Doctrine, it’s done. First pro-life legislation – abortion facility regulations – in 22 years, done. Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”
The statement drew a loud round of applause from the audience. It also struck a nerve among critics, who called it an admission that they passed the bill to make it harder for Democrats to vote — and not to prevent voter fraud as the legislators claimed.
The Pennsylvania voter ID law is particularly complex and strict in its requirements. Most onerous is the requirement that the ID must include a specific date of expiration.
As this article in The Nation explains, most employment and student ID’s do not have expiration dates listed. Even the Republican Secretary of State Carol Aichele did not know that her employee ID would not be accepted for voting!
Back in April, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Carol Aichele visited the editorial board of the Erie Times-News newspaper to speak with them about the new photo voter ID bill Governor Tom Corbett had just signed into law….Aichele’s Erie visit was part of a state tour to educate voters about what they’d need for compliance with law and for the ability to exercise their right to vote. One of the IDs acceptable for voting is a state employee photo identification card. However, the law also says that IDs must have a current expiration date for voter eligibility, and the state employee cards do not. Aichele seemed to overlook this paradox in her education drive.
“Pennsylvania Secretary of State Carol Aichele showed her state photo ID, which is not acceptable for voting because it doesn’t have an expiration date,” wrote the editorial board after she showed hers to them. It must have been humiliating for the secretary who was promoting the new law to find that her own example didn’t hold muster. It’s bad enough mandating that voters have ID cards, but to add the additional restriction that the ID needs an expiration date makes it even more obtrusive. The editorial says that 10 percent of Pennsylvanians, or 88,000, do not have a valid photo ID—though that number is contested and is thought to be much larger.
The law will make voting difficult for many senior citizens.
Take the example of Henrietta Kay Dickerson, 75, of Pittsburgh, a black woman who was born in Louisiana. She came to Pennsylvania as an infant and grew up her whole life in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, the historical black neighborhood immortalized in the plays of August Wilson. In May last year her state ID expired. She went to the state’s department of transportation where she was refused a free voter ID card, even after she paid the $13.50 fee, according to her account in the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Advancement Project against the state, which says the law violates voting rights granted by the Pennsylvania Constitution.
Pennsylvania’s many college students could also have difficulties if they don’t research the law’s requirements and follow them exactly. Most college IDs do not have dates of expiration.
I’m going to end here, because this post is getting way too long! I’ll turn the floor over to you now–what are your reading recommendations for today?
Saturday Morning ReadsPosted: June 23, 2012 Filed under: 2012 presidential campaign, Barack Obama, child sexual abuse, children, morning reads, U.S. Economy, U.S. Politics | Tags: ATF gun walking programs, Bain Capital, Chris Cristie, Darrell Issa, Fast and Furious, immigration, James J. Brennan, jobs, Lanny Breuer, Mitt Romney, Monsignor William Lynn, Mormon moment, outsourcing, pedophile priests, privatization, Ray Walser, Scott Brown, Stephen Castor, Stephen Mansfield, US Justice Department 10 Comments
This is going be short and sweet because it’s been a long week for me. Yesterday the Washington Post published a highly cited story about Mitt Romney as a “pioneer” in the outsourcing of American jobs.
During the nearly 15 years that Romney was actively involved in running Bain, a private equity firm that he founded, it owned companies that were pioneers in the practice of shipping work from the United States to overseas call centers and factories making computer components, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
While economists debate whether the massive outsourcing of American jobs over the last generation was inevitable, Romney in recent months has lamented the toll it’s taken on the U.S. economy. He has repeatedly pledged he would protect American employment by getting tough on China.
“They’ve been able to put American businesses out of business and kill American jobs,” he told workers at a Toledo fence factory in February. “If I’m president of the United States, that’s going to end.”
Really? I strongly suggest you read this story–it’s long and detailed with plenty of specific examples of Romney’s involvement in shipping jobs overseas.
In his speech to Latino officeholders this afternoon, President Obama used the WaPo article to hammer Romney. In comparison to Romney’s appearance before the group yesterday, Obama received a much more enthusiastic reception with more and longer applause.
Meanwhile one of Mitt Romney’s campaign co-chairs undercut the candidate’s campaign of confuse and befuddle and came right out and told the truth to the Daily Telegraph: Mitt Romney ‘likely to scrap Barack Obama’s immigration order’
Ray Walser, the co-chairman of Mr Romney’s Latin American Working Group, also said Mr Obama’s administration had been “fairly tough” on measures to counter illegal migration and that unlawful crossings of the Mexican border had declined, appearing to contradict the Republican candidate’s own comments on the subject.
Mr Romney has repeatedly declined to say what, if elected president in November, he would do about Mr Obama’s move to offer work permits to law-abiding undocumented migrants aged 30 or under.
The Romney campaign later claimed that Walser has no knowledge of the campaign’s policy decisions. The why is he co-chair of the Latin America working group? Looks like Romney is having some surrogate trouble now.
The LA Times interviewed Stephen Mansfield, the author of a new book “The Mormonizing of America” in order to get Mansfield’s take on Romney and his religion.
Q) …[H]ow do you think Romney’s faith has shaped his politics and the way he might lead?
A) I think that there’s no question it’s shaped what you might call his worldview or his system of ethics, what he believes about the Constitution, what he believes about abortion, what he believes about American history — I think all that grows organically out of his Mormonism. I think that his leadership is a product of his training and his gifts, but he does lead out of a sense of it being part of him qualifying, being found worthy, him passing the test of this life — that’s standard Mormon theology.
Q) We are said to be living in this “Mormon Moment,” but a new Gallup poll shows that American attitudes about Mormons haven’t really changed for decades. Nearly one in five Americans say they won’t vote for a Mormon for president. How big a barrier is that to Romney and would a Romney presidency be a game-changer in terms of Mormon acceptance?
Q) Would Romney be better off talking about it?
A) If I was king of his campaign, I’d have folks out there talking about it for the campaign, unofficially, but I’d keep the candidate away from it. I’m not sure I’d want Romney talking about temple garments and gods on other planets and Joseph Smith. But I wouldn’t mind having an articulate representative in the field, defending Mr. Romney’s Mormonism in the campaign. And if I don’t see that happen after the convention, I’m going to wonder how much they’re aware in Romney headquarters how much this is an issue in the culture.
At The Daily Beast, here’s an interesting article by Daniel Klaidman on the Holder Witchhunt over “Fast and Furious.” Klaidman said that House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa demanded a “scap” from the Justice Department as a last ditch effort to avoid going nuclear with a contempt citation.
for Issa, a partisan warrior who has called Holder a “liar” and the Obama administration one of “the most corrupt” in history, there was always the risk of overreach. When he started to go down the road toward a contempt citation, the House Republican leadership began to show signs of nervousness. Some thought Issa needed to leave himself an escape route. In recent weeks he and his staff began negotiating with DOJ, looking for a way to head off the looming confrontation.
During a phone call last week with a senior Justice official, Issa’s chief investigative counsel, Stephen Castor, broached a possible settlement. As the conversation began, according to two sources familiar with the conversation, Castor asked the official where things stood on “accountability.” By that, Castor meant would any heads roll at Justice. Castor mentioned Lanny Breuer, the head of the department’s Criminal Division, whom Republicans had been gunning for because of his knowledge of gun-walking techniques that had been used during the Bush administration. (Their theory was that Breuer should have taken aggressive steps to ensure that such measures were not repeated in future operations.) According to these sources, Castor said that if Breuer resigned, they could head off the looming constitutional clash.
But the Justice official, Steven Reich, an associate deputy attorney general involved in the Fast and Furious negotiations with Congress, rejected the offer, calling it a “non-starter.”
Still, Castor’s gambit was seen by DOJ officials as evidence that Issa was more interested in drawing blood than getting to the truth.
The Massachusetts Democratic Party managed to get some embarrassing video of Senator Scott Brown making a very strange remark about being in “secret meetings with kings and queens and prime ministers.”
The comments on WTKK-FM were roundly mocked by Democrats. Brown, in making them, was pushing back against critics who say his campaign has not been focused on serious issues, pointing out that he ran a radio ad about military base closings. He also said he was working on substantive issues on a daily basis, some that involve royalty.
“Each and every day that I’ve been a United States senator, I’ve been discussing issues, meeting on issues, in secret meetings and with kings and queens and prime ministers and business leaders and military leaders, talking, voting, working on issues every single day,” he said on the Jim Braude and Margery Eagan [talk radio] Show.
At first his campaign said he “misspoke,” but The Boston Globe learned that Brown had made similar statements at least five times.
That’s got to be at least as weird as thinking you have Native American blood because your parents told you so. It probably won’t get as much play as the attacks on Elizabeth Warren though.
In Philadelphia, yesterday Monsignor William Lynn became the first member of the Catholic clergy to be convicted for covering up child sexual abuse by priests.
A Philadelphia priest was convicted Friday (June 22) of one count of child endangerment, becoming the first cleric in the Catholic Church’s long-running clergy abuse scandal to be tried and found guilty of shielding molesters.
Monsignor William Lynn, 61, was acquitted of conspiracy and a second endangerment charge after a three-month trial that had seemed on the verge of a hung jury two days earlier….
The jurors said they were deadlocked on attempted rape and endangerment charges against Lynn’s codefendant, the Rev. James J. Brennan.
Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina declared a mistrial on the Brennan charges, which means prosecutors could decide to try him again.
Lynn, who was head of priest personnel in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for 12 years, was charged with recommending that Brennan and another priest, Edward Avery, be allowed to live or work in parishes in the 1990s despite indications that they might abuse children.
Avery pleaded guilty before the trial to sexually assaulting a 10-year-old altar boy in 1999 and is serving 2-1/2 to 5 years in state prison.
Finally, if you haven’t read the NYT series on Chris Christie and New Jersey’s privatized halfway houses from hell, be sure to check it out. Looks like Christie won’t be getting that VP nod after all.
Have a great Saturday, and please share what you’re reading and blogging about today.