Saturday, October 23, 2010

Kentucky Hardball

Here in NKY the Louisville Courier-Journal is running a big story on Matt Conway, brother of Democratic Senate candidate Jack Conway, about Matt, a Jefferson County prosecutor, being tipped off by Louisville cops that he was under investigation for narcotics not once, but twice.

Ronald Russ and Scott Wilson, the two detectives accused of the leaks to Matthew Conway, have been placed in administrative jobs pending the outcome of an internal police inquiry into possible policy violations. Wilson told Conway of the first investigation, and Russ told him of the second one. The two investigations were prompted by separate allegations.

After a criminal investigation by police, the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office decided in August that no charges would be filed against Conway, Russ, Wilson or a third narcotics detective, Chauncey Carthan, who was not involved in the leaks but was overheard discussing the second investigation in a restaurant last March.

Carthan’s conversation was reported to Jack Conway, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, by a person supporting him. The brothers subsequently conferred with an attorney about the investigation of Matthew Conway, according to the investigative file.

The lawyer, Bart Adams of Louisville, then met with Police Chief Robert White to discuss Carthan’s conduct, according to the records.

Jack Conway’s office said in an e-mail to the newspaper Thursday that his only involvement was to advise his brother to obtain legal counsel.

White declined to discuss the case, citing the pending police inquiry.
Adams declined to comment in detail, saying: “After the election, I’ll talk to you about anything. I’ve represented Matt from the beginning. The allegations were baseless. I can’t believe police went as far as they did.”

Neither drug investigation resulted in any charges against Matthew Conway. The three officers all were involved in investigations of him when the leaks occurred.

Conway, 34, a graduate of Emory University and the University of Louisville law school, declined to be interviewed by The Courier-Journal.

It's all mildly back-scratchy, but again, Conway was never charged with anything.  There's no "there" there, as they say.  But for this to drop the week before Election Day in a close race is Kentucky politics, folks, pure and simple.

Conway goes after Rand Paul's college years, Rand Paul goes after Jack Conway's brother.  It's cheesy at best, but now we see why Rand Paul suddenly agreed to debate Conway Monday one last time after spending most of last week complaining that he was never going to talk to Conway again for impugning his faith like that.

This last week is going to be warfare, Bluegrass State style.

New Black Panthers, Same Old Baloney

Via BooMan today, we find that the Washington Post is taking a look at FOX News's "New Black Panther Party" idiocy, which is apparently two guys with scary fashion sense and beards.  The Wingers are frothing that this article means that armies of angry black people are trying to beat the crap out of white voters and will be here any second, but the actual article pretty much confirms that the entire deal is nothing but crap.

Asked at a civil rights commission hearing in May whether any of the department's political leadership was "involved in" the decision to dismiss the Panthers case, assistant attorney general for civil rights Thomas E. Perez said no.

"This is a case about career people disagreeing with career people,'' said Perez, who was not in the department at the time. He also said that political appointees are regularly briefed on civil rights cases and, whenever there is a potentially controversial decision, "we obviously communicate that up the chain."

Justice Department records turned over in a lawsuit to the conservative group Judicial Watch show a flurry of e-mails between the Civil Rights Division and the office of Associate Attorney General Thomas Perelli, a political appointee who supervises the division.

"Where are we on the Black Panther case?" read the subject line of a Perelli e-mail to his deputy the day before the case was dropped. Perelli, the department's No. 3 official, wrote that he was enclosing the "current thoughts" of the deputy attorney general's office, the No. 2 official.

Perelli's staff brought the matter to Holder's attention before the department dropped the charges, other documents show. Holder did not make the decision, officials say. 

And why was that?  As BooMan reminds us, the case was brought by the Bush-era justice department originally, and the goal of its civil rights division was to "up the number" of cases filed by white voters against minorities as part of the GOP's political shop.

A joint report filed by the Office of the Inspector General and the Office of Professional Responsibility found that Brad Schlozman, who had been appointed to run the division, along with von Spakovsky and Tanner, regularly considered political affiliation when hiring career attorneys. According to the report, Tanner in particular complained that prior to the Bush appointees removing safeguards against politicized hiring, you had to be a "civil rights person" to work in the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department. In 2007, then-Sen. Barack Obama blocked von Spakovsky's nomination to the Federal Election Commission saying von Spakovsky was "directly involved" in efforts to "disenfranchise voters" and "politicize" the Voting Rights Section.

A Government Accountability Office report released in December confirmed what veteran civil-rights lawyers who left the division over the past eight years had feared -- during the Bush administration, enforcement of civil-rights laws in employment discrimination, voting, and hate crimes fell across the board. It wasn't just about the cases: The racial atmosphere in the division was so hostile toward African Americans that by 2007, almost all the black lawyers in the division had left.

The NBPP case was just one of the "mountain out of a molehill" cases that Bush DoJ filed in order to go after minority voters.  Everything in the Bush administration was political.  Everything...including the civil rights and voting rights sections of the DoJ.

Still so much Bush garbage to clean up in this country.  It will take decades.

What's In That Teapot?

Over at Salon, David Sirota argues that the Wisconsin Senate race as Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold struggles to hold onto his seat against millionaire businessman Ron Johnson is the perfect test if Tea Party puts principle over party.  If there's any Democrat in the Senate that the Tea Party should be firmly behind, it's Feingold.  Alas, that's not the case.

On one side is Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold, who has made his name championing many of the Tea Party’s purported views about the state, the Constitution and national sovereignty. For instance, when it comes to “big government,” Feingold has opposed wasteful pork barrel spending, worked to trim the defense budget and voted against financial bailouts. When it comes to the Constitution, Feingold was the only senator to vote against the Constitution-defying Patriot Act and has boldly questioned both parties’ willingness to let the state trample citizens’ civil liberties. And Feingold has been one of the few senators to consistently oppose NAFTA-style trade deals -- pacts that usurp domestic control over our economy and lay waste to the very industrial heartland the Tea Party claims to cherish.

On the other side is Republican Ron Johnson, the antithesis of everything the Tea Party says it stands for. In business, Johnson built a company propped up by government grants and loans -- otherwise known in Tea Party terms as “bailouts.” As a board member of a local opera house, he lobbied for funds from the same “big government” stimulus bill the Tea Party despises. During the campaign, he has touted NAFTA-style trade policies’ “creative destruction” of Wisconsin’s manufacturing economy. And rather than promoting the freedom the Tea Party says it values, Johnson has praised China’s repressive communist regime for its economic policies.

Candidate contrasts rarely get starker than this. And clearly, if the Tea Party is as nonpartisan as it asserts, then its supporters should be flocking to Feingold.

If that were happening, though, Feingold would be winning. Instead, polls show Feingold trailing Johnson -- and as CNN notes, Johnson “owes much of (that) political success to the Tea Party.” Indeed, despite contradicting most major Tea Party positions, Johnson has been featured at Wisconsin Tea Party events; touted in the local media as a Tea Party favorite; called a “Champion of Freedom” by national Tea Party activists; and promoted by Tea Party opinion leaders like George Will as the epitome of “what the Tea Party looks like.”

It's no secret that the Tea Party is faking being "independent" in order to gain the vote this fall.   The truth is the Tea Party is nothing more than the most extreme wing of the Republicans, looking to wind the clock back rather than face America's diverse future.  They're scared, they're angry, they see "their" country slipping away and they are fighting like crazy to keep America from going forward.

But the fact is they need the help of independents and yes, even disaffected Democrats to return power to them.  They won't let it go without a fight, and as many times as I've criticised Obama and the Dems this year, I cannot under any circumstances think that giving power back to these elements of the Republican party will improve anything in our country...other than their own bank accounts.


Turn On The Lights, Watch The Roaches Scatter, Part 30

And we've hit the 30 post mark on "Roaches Scatter" as Foreclosuregate rolls on and we get caught up on the week's news.  First, the credit ratings agencies are now openly talking about downgrading the major mortgage banks, starting with Fitch saying it could cut its ratings for BofA and Citi.

Fitch said its warning most affected Bank of America and Citigroup, because both companies "have benefited from support provided by the U.S. government."

Each bank took $45 billion in U.S. taxpayer-funded bailouts during the financial crisis, and have spent this year clawing back to sustained profitability. A downgrade from Fitch would make both banks face a new squeeze on their profits, analysts said.

"If you get downgraded, it costs you more to borrow money," said David Knutson, analyst with Legal & General Investment Management America.

Fitch could follow through on its warning within three to six months, but a downgrade would take on far more significance if the other two rating agencies followed suit, Knutson said.

In light of Foreclosuregate, you can count on that happening sooner rather than later.  And speaking of down the road, it's really the complete lockup of the housing market that's going to do the most damage to the economy as home prices will continue to fall.  Here's Gary Shilling on CNBC talking a 20% drop in home prices from where they are now, which would basically double the number of underwater mortgages to some 40% of homeowners.

Pretty grim stuff all around, folks. There will be no recovery.

Dear America:

"Oh yes, getting rid of the 17th Amendment would certainly help the Republicans control the Senate permanently, but changing the Constitution is hard.  It's much easier to just destroy the federal government first and give all the power in the country to the corporations and let's face it, you Teabaggers have a limited political lifespan before America figures out you're full of crap.  We want our money, so get to it.  Eyes on the prize, people.  Eyes on the prize."

--John Yoo, National Review

Political Cartoon Of The Moment

Because of course, Progressives are just like Teabaggers, and are just as much a fringe burden to the political process, clearly. I don't know which group that idea would offend more, the progressives or the Teabaggers.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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