Gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke addresses students at University of Wisconsin-Madison.
CREDIT: ALICE OLLSTEIN
MADISON, WISCONSIN—Just 40 of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s 43,000 students gathered Monday afternoon in one corner of an ornate wood-paneled hall draped with flags to hear from the woman who could soon become the first female governor of the state.
Holding printed campaign signs reading “I will vote,” the students listened to Mary Burke earnestly rattle off a number of reasons why they should support her over Gov. Scott Walker (R): “Whether it’s the economy, whether it’s education, whether it’s our environment, whether it’s women’s healthcare choices, the list goes on and on and on.”
“The future of our state is at stake here,” she told them, urging them to volunteer to knock on doors, phone bank, and encourage friends to vote. “Be part of something incredible. Are we going to get this done in the next two weeks?” After an awkward pause, the students broke into cheers that echoed in the mostly empty room.
Polls show Burke tied in a dead heat with Walker, and both candidates are spending the last few weeks of the campaign focused on boosting turnout, which tends to be much lower in mid-term elections. If Monday’s lackluster rally to encourage early voting is any indication, the Burke campaign has reason to worry.
When introducing Burke at the university’s Memorial Union hall, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) said low voter participation is a real concern: “If we get only one third turnout, we are going to have a re-elected Scott Walker, now the front-runner of the Republican nomination for president. We will have a Republican Tea Party Attorney General, and we’ll lose seats in the Assembly and the Senate. But if we get people out to vote, we can win.”
In the next two weeks before the election, Burke will hold get-out-the-vote rallies from Appleton to Green Bay to Milwaukee, with students, farmers, union workers and, soon, former president Bill Clinton and current president Barack Obama.
Speaking to ThinkProgress in the back of her campaign bus, Burke said she can’t remember the last time she took a day off. With a hard smile and narrowed blue eyes, she said she doesn’t mind setting her alarm for 4:30 a.m. In fact, most mornings, she wakes up before it even goes off.
“Being the type of person I am, I like to go full-on,” she said. “If things need to be done, I want to get them done.”
Burke is a fourth-generation Wisconsinite, a former Trek Bicycles executive, and served a term as the state’s commerce secretary, but she was largely unknown in the world of politics before throwing her hat in the race for Wisconsin’s highest office.
If elected governor, she would inherit some serious challenges. Wisconsin faces a $1.8 billion dollar deficit, and while the state has added tens of thousands of jobs over the past year, the improvements have not been shared equally across the population. A new report from the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families found stark racial disparities among the state’s children. Based on a range of factors, the well-being of white children is the tenth best in the nation, but the well-being of Wisconsin’s African-American children ranks dead last.
Burke told ThinkProgress she is prepared to address these issues head-on, and believes the wraparound support services for low-income teens in Madison that she worked on for the past six years through the Boys and Girls Club would be a good starting point for tackling that deep divide.
“But a lot of [the disparity] comes from low incomes,” she added. “It’s important to increase the minimum wage.”
“People who are working full time should be able to support themselves, and it’s not realistic to think that people can support themselves on $7.25 an hour without government assistance,” she told ThinkProgress, noting that she supports raising the wage to $10.10 an hour over two years. “It’s just impossible to get by now, and if you’re always struggling it’s really difficult to have a fair shot. Plus, this is money that gets spent and goes right back to our local economy.”
Mary Burke rallies students to vote early.
CREDIT: ALICE OLLSTEIN
Burke has also emphasized her and Walker’s differing tactics for addressing the rising cost of attending college in Wisconsin. The governor has imposed a tuition freeze at the University of Wisconsin for the past few years, but Burke says this isn’t a “long-term answer.” She has advocated letting graduates deep in debt refinance their loans at lower rates, and boosting state funding for financial aid.
“If you don’t have the state supporting higher education enough to at least cover inflation, then you’re basically looking at cuts,” she said. “We already have 41 thousand people on the wait-list for state financial aid. People are being priced out. I know I’m dating myself, but in my generation, people really could work their way through college with a part time job, and that’s impossible now.”
Over the past few months, the Democratic Party has been sending its most popular spokespeople, including Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Warren, to stump for Burke’s campaign. And national groups like Emily’s List, Planned Parenthood and the American Federation of Teachers have been showering her with funding and airing TV ads on her behalf. Yet Burke has made few solid commitments on the issues these groups prioritize.
Burke railed against Scott Walker’s cuts to Planned Parenthood but told ThinkProgress she would not commit to restoring the funding if elected. She says she “supports the rights of workers to collectively bargain,” but has said she would work to repeal only part of Walker’s law that prevents them from doing so.
Off-campus, residents told ThinkProgress their concerns about her range from her lack of time building relationships in the state legislature to her support for charter schools. Most said they would vote for her as a referendum on Scott Walker’s time in office, but did not feel excited about her as a candidate.
But after the rally Monday on the Madison campus, several students set off for the Capitol right then to cast their vote early for Burke. Others hung around to shake her hand or take a selfie with her. One student gushed, “Mary Burke is behind me. This is, like, the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me!”
Another asked Burke what to say to fellow students who aren’t as politically engaged. “Tell them it’s about creating good-paying jobs,” she answered, “about women’s health care choices…”
“That’s the best-selling issue by far!” the student interjected. Burke agreed. “There were women who fought for these things so many years ago and now we’re having to fight for the same thing. Spreading the word and having those conversations would be great,” she urged.
As three other young women clustered around Burke, she told them: “You know, I didn’t get into this race for gender reasons, but I think it’s time for a woman governor.” She grinned at them. “I’ll keep the seat warm for you.”
Ferguson police officer told investigators that he struggled to keep his gun.
Police Officer Darren Wilson told investigators that in a struggle for his pistol inside a police SUV, Michael Brown pressed the barrel of Wilson’s gun against the officer’s hip, according to a source with knowledge of his statements.
Wilson tried to prevent Brown from reaching the trigger, the source said, and when he thought he had control he fired. But Brown’s hand was blocking the mechanism.
When Wilson got two shots off, Brown was hit in the hand and ran. Wilson fired again when Brown turned back and charged at him, Wilson told investigators.
The white officer’s shooting of the unarmed black 18-year-old triggered protests, riots and a national debate over race and policing.
In the most detailed account of Wilson’s version of the Aug. 9 event to be made public, the source described how the encounter started, Brown’s refusal to stop charging at Wilson and the injuries suffered by both men.
Wilson’s version is only one of many told by various witnesses. Two witnesses say Wilson grabbed Brown through the window and tried to pull him into the SUV. Some say that after Brown broke free, he either did not move back toward Wilson, or was stumbling or walking when he was shot.
Investigators have repeatedly declined to comment on details of the investigation.
Told of Wilson’s version of events, Brown family lawyer Anthony Gray scoffed, calling it “absurd from beginning to end” and a “concocted version of events that nobody supports,” referring to other public witness statements.
Gray said the version of Dorian Johnson, who was with Brown, was more plausible. He said that the only important part of the story was the final few shots fired and that Wilson had to be justified in taking every shot.
“This story just doesn’t even make good nonsense.”
After he finished with a call for a sick baby, Wilson said, he spotted Brown and his friend, Dorian Johnson, walking down the middle of Canfield Drive, with traffic passing on both sides.
Wilson asked or ordered the men to move to the sidewalk, said the source, who did not want to be identified because a St. Louis County grand jury and the Department of Justice are still investigating.
Johnson pointed out the pair’s destination, over and behind Wilson’s marked police Chevrolet Tahoe SUV, and kept walking.
Brown walked by holding cigarillos in his hand, and cursed Wilson, the source said.
Wilson told investigators that after Brown passed by, Wilson realized that one of the men’s clothing matched a recent radio alert about a suspect in a robbery at a nearby market where cigarillos had been taken. Wilson radioed for assistance and backed up his SUV to Brown and Johnson.
The source said Wilson told investigators he had placed the SUV in park. When Wilson tried to get out of the SUV, Brown slammed its door shut and punched Wilson in the left side of the face through the open window, the source said.
Wilson, trapped in the front seat, couldn’t use his pepper spray in the confined space because it would incapacitate him as well. His baton was at the back of his utility belt, where he was essentially sitting on it. He did not have a Taser. So he drew his gun.
Brown grabbed the pistol using his right hand, with his elbow against Wilson. Wilson described Brown as incredibly strong, the source said.
During the struggle, Brown handed the cigarillos to Johnson, then swung his left hand and hit Wilson on the right side of the face. Wilson said he almost lost consciousness, the source said. Brown then began to use his left hand in the struggle for the gun, and turned the pistol until the barrel was against Wilson’s hip.
Wilson positioned his finger to try to prevent Brown from reaching the trigger. When Wilson pulled himself back toward the passenger side of the SUV, Brown’s grip loosened enough for Wilson to try to pull the trigger, the source said.
But the gun didn’t fire. Wilson said he believed that Brown’s hand may have been on the hammer, preventing it from moving, the source said.
The second time Wilson pulled the trigger, the gun did fire. Wilson told investigators he thought the bullet had struck Brown in the hand, the source said. Broken window glass was everywhere, and blood was on the door, the gun and Wilson’s hands. At the time, Wilson said, he wasn’t sure whose blood it was.
The struggle continued, and Wilson attempted to pull the trigger twice more. The source said Wilson thought Brown’s hand may have interfered again. Wilson was able to fire a second shot, and Brown ran.
Wilson used his radio to report that shots had been fired and ask for additional cars, but during the struggle, his radio had been switched from the Ferguson channel, the source said.
Wilson said he had gotten out of the SUV and chased Brown.
The source said Wilson did not recall yelling or saying anything then, but Brown had stopped and turned.
Wilson said Brown had not had his hands up; his left hand was slightly out, fingers pointing down. His right hand was grasping his shirt. Then, Wilson told investigators, Brown began running toward him.
Wilson said he had yelled for Brown to stop, then fired, the source said. Brown flinched as if he was hit, and Wilson said he had stopped shooting. Brown continued running toward him, and Wilson said he had fired several more shots. The source said that Wilson had recalled that Brown’s head was down when the last shot hit him there.
When Brown fell to the ground, his forward momentum caused his feet to fly up, Wilson said.
Wilson then made another radio call, for an ambulance.
Later, Wilson drove himself to the police station and was taken to the hospital by other officers. Wilson said he had bruises on the left and right sides of his face and scratches on his neck, the source said. He had no broken bones.
THE AUTOPSY NARRATIVE
Brown’s autopsy documents include a summary from St. Louis County Detective Patrick J. Hokamp’s preliminary investigation. His account was similar to Wilson’s.
The autopsy report, obtained by the Post-Dispatch, also says that Brown had THC, the mind-altering ingredient of marijuana, in his blood and urine. The report says a “leafy green substance” was submitted as evidence, and a person with knowledge of the investigation said the substance was marijuana.
The source also said that Brown’s blood and DNA had been found inside the SUV and on Wilson’s gun.
Most of the witnesses who have spoken publicly saw only a portion of the incident.
Johnson, 22, has said that Wilson used a profanity when he told them to get on the sidewalk, and nearly sideswiped them as he backed up. Wilson opened the door but it bounced off the men, Johnson has said, and Wilson then grabbed Brown by the throat and, later, grabbed him by the arm and tried to pull him into the car. Johnson said that Wilson’s gun had been out and that he had shot Brown once before Brown, who was bleeding, ran away.
Johnson said that Wilson had chased Brown and shot him once before Brown turned around. Johnson said that Wilson had fatally shot Brown as Brown was getting to the ground with his hands in the air.
Several other witnesses have said that Wilson fired at Brown’s fleeing form, perhaps causing Brown to turn when he was some distance from the SUV.
From there, the accounts differ. Their versions have included that Brown stood still, or walked, staggered, stumbled or fell toward Wilson. Some witnesses said Brown’s hands were up; others said they were not. One witness said Wilson was backing away as he fired at Brown.
None quoted in media accounts has said that Brown charged Wilson.
After a couple months hiatus from updating DanaBusted.Blogspot.com, we are back in business, and as usual, Dana Loesch is telling fibs to the national audience.
Today, while hawking her book Hands Off My Gun (which came out today) on Fox and Friends, Loesch was peddling lies to advance her gun fetishist agenda and also falsely claiming that “gun control is the real war on women.”
She’s just so pathetic to this condescending gun oil salesman and 2nd Amendment grifter, how could Schultz be so naive to think the DNC can defeat Koch money? Perhaps Loesch is right, but she wasn’t on the curvy couch to forecast the midterms. She was still peddling her latest book, and like any good Republican, trying to fleece the public of every penny to promote the agenda of the NRA.
It’s very hard to compete with the liberally-minded society because Republicans don’t know how to compete with progressive “pop culture.” Republicans are “afraid to engage and don’t know how to engage.” Gee, we hardly noticed, Dana. You mean a KKK Teaparty gathering doesn’t make for a good Hollywood plot? The New York ruling on those denied their 2nd Amendment remedies is now a slippery slope to full disarmament of America. She believes there’s a war on women when anyone’s rights to own a gun are limited. She said that firearms are the ultimate equalizer, and she gave her height and weight, said she felt six foot two and 250 pounds, when she’s got her “equalizer.” She said we’ve always had the right to be armed, even before we had the right to vote.
Can you name one young white victim of violence who has been publicly humiliated or degraded by tens of thousands of African Americans online or by key African-American journalists or newscasters?
I’m waiting. Still waiting. Stumped? I’ll give you a bonus question.
Can you name one white person, criminal or otherwise, that you’ve heard called a “thug” in the past, let’s say, 50 years?
Even if you came up with an obscure name or two, you have to admit that you’re dealing with a pretty short list.
Yet not only are African-American perpetrators of violence labeled as thugs, but so are victims.
Jeffrey Dahmer killed, raped, and dismembered at least 17 boys and men, but he was never called a thug. He was arrested.
Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols killed 168 people when they blew up the federal building in Oklahoma, but they were never called thugs. Both men were arrested.
Jared Loughner, who had a history of drug abuse, shot and killed six people and injured 13 more, including Congresswoman Gabby Giffords, but he was never called a thug. He was arrested.
James Holmes shot and killed 13 people in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, but he was never called a thug. He was peacefully arrested.
In a sense, these five men, each notorious mass murderers, were given a level of respect and due process of the law rarely afforded to young black men like Oscar Grant, Trayvon Martin, and Mike Brown, who were all victims of white violence.
Follow below the fold for more.
Throughout the pursuit of justice for all three of these slain young black men, great efforts were made to assassinate their character, devalue their humanity, and, in a sense, make it seem as if justice was an unnecessary luxury for them. The attempted thuggification of their names and reputation is despicable.
Tens of thousands of references can be found throughout social media—and even in the traditional media—making Mike Brown out to be a thug. For weeks, lawsuits were being waged to allege he had a criminal past until it was finally revealed that he had never been arrested a day in his life. Showing every photo he ever posed in on Instagram, every rap lyric he ever suggested he loved, dissecting every tweet he ever wrote, the conclusion that Mike Brown was a thug was pushed and pushed to promote the idea that Darren Wilson did a good thing. Donor after donor to Darren Wilson’s online fundraiser explicitly stated they were glad he did society a favor. When real evidence failed, fake pictures of Mike Brown were floated out to misrepresent him.
Much the same happened with Trayvon Martin. Walking home from a local convenience store with newly purchased snacks in hand, Trayvon was tracked and followed, in spite of the wishes of the police dispatch, and eventually confronted by an armed resident of the neighborhood. He was shot and killed in this confrontation. For a full year, every effort was made to make Trayvon out not to be a typical teenager with a bag of Skittles on his way home to watch the NBA All-Star weekend, but a violent thug who wanted to commit murder on his way home. Trayvon, like Mike Brown, had never been arrested a day in his life. Fake pictures of Trayvon, which were actually of the rapper The Game, nearly 20 years older than Trayvon, were floated out there to make him look like a thug. George Zimmerman, the man who was charged with killing Trayvon, but eventually found not guilty, had been arrested multiple times for violent crimes before killing Trayvon and has been cited for violence multiple times this past year alone. Still, wildly so, the general sentiment still isn’t that he’s a thug.
Oscar Grant, shot and killed by police while handcuffed in Oakland, actually had a criminal past that he fought hard to overcome. He was a diligent father and strived to hold down a local job after his incarceration. His being shot, while handcuffed and sitting on the ground, had absolutely nothing to do with his previous incarceration. The only reason it has ever been brought up, then, is to devalue his life and to dissuade supporters from feeling confident about championing his cause.
The thuggification of Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, Oscar Grant, and many other young black victims of gun violence very much feels like a modern attempt to three-fifths their value in the world while the refusal to ever ascribe the thug label to white perpetrators of violence suggests that the word is gaining an exclusive racial connotation limited to African Americans.
Mark Driscoll has resurfaced less than a week after resigning as senior pastor at Mars Hill Church, getting a star’s welcome at a major evangelical conference in Dallas/Fort Worth on Monday and saying he wants to “sing, to pray, to learn, to grow, to repent.” Driscoll had been
Mark Driscoll has resurfaced less than a week after resigning as senior pastor at Mars Hill Church, getting a star’s welcome at a major evangelical conference in Dallas/Fort Worth on Monday and saying he wants to “sing, to pray, to learn, to grow, to repent.”
Driscoll had been removed earlier this year as keynote speaker at the annual Gateway Leadership & Worship Conference, a big stop on the evangelical circuit. But the controversy-shrouded mega-church founder was welcomed to the stage by Gateway Church founder-pastor Robert Morris with allusions to Jesus.
“He did make some mistakes,” said Morris. ”Uh, here’s what I figure. We’ve got two choices. One is we could crucify him. But since someone’s already been crucified (hollering) for him, (applause), the other choice is we could restore him with a spirit of gentleness considering ourselves, lest we are also tempted.”
Driscoll responded with a homily of self-pity, persecution and limited repentance. He talked of repeated physical threats to his person and family.
“Yah, for me I’m in a season of just, uh, healin’ up, praying,” he began. “Uh, asking the Lord Jesus through wise counsel to show me any blind spots where I can grow.”
He morphed into a discussion of family, and of himself.
“I think there’s a lot I could say that would make me feel better,” said Driscoll. “I don’t know that it would make me look better, but I don’t think it would make Jesus look better, so I won’t say anything other than, uh, just pray for my family. We’ve had a very trying season and, uh, just trying to figure out how to be a good pastor to my family first.”
In glory days, Mark Driscoll and wife Grace Driscoll discuss on “The View” their book, “Real Marriage.” A consultant was hired and Mars Hill were used to pump sales of the book and get it onto the New York Times bestseller list. (Photo: Donna Svennevik/ABC via Getty Images)
“I’ve cried a lot lately (and) it’s been a rough season for the family,” Driscoll added. After telling the audience to take a seat, he opined: “I would say don’t overlook your family as first ministry.”
Driscoll, who has traveled with a bodyguard, detailed attacks that have come his way.
“We’ve got five kids, three boys, two girls, ages 8 to 17 and, uh, we’ve moved three times now for safety issues. People arrested at our home, death threats, uh, address posted on line, all kinds of things and, uh, more recently it’s gotten very severe.
“We came home from break. There was rusty nails all over the driveway. We, uh, we had a night where the kids wanted to sleep out in the tent and, uh, I got a call that, um, my address was posted on-line by the media and so, we, we, went out of town for a few days …”
When the family returned, the family tried camping out, “woke up in the morning about 6:30 or so and huge rocks about the size of baseballs come flying at my kids, uh, 8, 10, 12 years of age. Call the police. Flee into the house for their safety.”
A few days later, he charged, “the media flies overhead with a helicopter and is trying to flush us out for a story.” That night, Driscoll claimed, his 8-year-old son asked, “Well, it’s bad guys in the helicopter coming to shoot the family, right.”
Of course, the most telling damage to Driscoll has been self-inflicted. Twenty-one former Mars Hill elders charged him with threats, intimidation and bullying. Acts29, a global “church planting” network, expelled Driscoll and Mars Hill, with its directors urging Driscoll to leave the ministry and seek help. A similar call came from nine pastors at Mars Hill.
Driscoll has had to explain remarks, such as a posting under pseudonym in which he referred to America as a “Pussified Nation.” He had to answer charges of plagiarism. He had to apologize for hiring a consulting firm with Mars Hill money, and using church dollars to artificially puff sales of his book “Real Marriage” to put it on The New York Times bestseller list.,
Driscoll was not about to go to confession before the Gateway Conference.
“I just want to come here to, uh, sing, to pray, to learn, to grow, uh, to repent, to heal anduh, God is surrounding me with some great pastors and friends, and if I could just say anything, it’s ‘every pastor needs a pastor,’” he said.
The non-mea culpa was greeted with sustained applause and not a few whoops.
Morris stepped in to play the role of confessor and a form of absolution.
“Debbie and I have been able to spend some time with Mark and Grace and talking with them and, uh, we were talking the night before he resigned and talking about that and talking through the situation and you know he, uh, resigned the church he founded and pastored for 18 years.”
After drawing his breath, Morris drew lessons.
“He preached 10 to 12 years, 50 weeks a year, sometimes six services a weekend,” said Morris. “And, uh, it’s just not healthy and so I’m glad that, uh, he’s saying, ‘Help me. Help me to do it differently and do it better.’
“And so I love him very very much and, um, I’m glad that he’s here. Uh, you’re going to be blessed.” Earlier, Morris said of Driscoll, “We’re speaking into his life and he is listening.”
He made a final reference to Driscoll receiving “bad media” and went on to introduce the last speaker.
Driscoll will have a cushion with which to pray, learn, grow and minister to his family. He is reportedly receiving a year’s severance. The senior pastor’s salary has never been disclosed. One memo from (since resigned) deputy Sutton Turner recommended that Driscoll receive a $650,000 salary for 2013.
Conservative talk show host Steve Deace is out with a column today titled “The Rainbow Jihad,” about how gay rights advocates are destroying freedom and everything good.
Naturally, Deace illustrated his column with a photo that appears to be a mug shot of Jesus Christ.
The image seems to suggest that gay marriage opponents will be treated like child predators: “Pursuant to S.S.M. 666.66, [prisoner] is a convicted Same Sex Marriage Opponent and lives at this location.”
Deace cites the dubious Religious Right “persecution” cases of Phillip Monk, the Houston pastors and New York and Idaho businesses to make the case that America is now embracing the totalitarian ideology of “cultural Marxists.”
The generations that pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honors on behalf of American Exceptionalism viewed the rainbow as the symbol of God’s mercy after the judgment that was Noah’s flood.
Nowadays the rainbow is symbolic of judgment again. Except this time no mercy is forthcoming from the cultural Marxists who have hijacked it. They seek to ruthlessly banish from public life any who still believe as those who founded America once did.
See, everything we social conservatives warned you years ago would happen if we went down the Rainbow Road is now here.
The cultural Marxists promised us no one would lose their God-given rights by granting people the made-up right to be godless, but now their answer is “if it does happen you deserve it you bigot.”
The slogan is all over the St. Louis metropolitan area: on T-shirts worn by soccer moms, on rubber bracelets worn by police officers, on signs held by their wives. “I am Darren Wilson,” they proclaim, in a show of affinity with the white police officer who shot black teenager Michael Brown to death in the street in Ferguson, Missouri on Aug. 9. “I am Darren Wilson,” they affirm, as St. Louis waits for a grand jury to rule whether the most infamous police officer in America will be indicted.
Everyone in St. Louis is afraid. The discrepancy in what they fear is tearing the region apart. Ferguson protesters—and much of black St. Louis—fear the police. They fear officers like Wilson, whom they believe view black men as inherently threatening and deserving of lethal force. Since Aug. 9, protesters have proclaimed “I am Michael Brown” and mimicked the “hands up” gesture he allegedly made before he died. “I am Michael Brown” is the grim corollary to their other rallying cry: “Black lives matter.”
Protester car with slogan “I am Mike Brown.” Ferguson, Missouri, Sept. 30.(Sarah Kendzior)
Those who claim “I am Darren Wilson” say they stand in solidarity not just Wilson, but also with law enforcement. To support Darren Wilson, the refrain goes, is to support law, order and due process. But underlying the phrase “I am Darren Wilson” is a different kind of fear. It is fear of disenfranchisement, chaos, and criminality. It is a fear of black youth and black self-determination. This fear structures not only the geography of St. Louis, but also the regions beyond.
Today the base of Wilson support comes not from St. Louis, but rather neighboring St. Charles County, where white St. Louisans began to migrate en masse at the turn of the 21st century following the arrival of blacks in suburban St. Louis. The Wilson case is the culmination of decades of the racial politics of fear, which dictate everything from where people live and how they treat each other to whom they view as the antagonist in the Ferguson events. While the grand jury has until mid-November to rule on an indictment, rumor is that it will happen soon. St. Louis is a region on edge, united only in anticipation that the worst is still to come.
Social media and segregation
On Oct. 10-13, St. Louis hosted a “Weekend of Resistance,” during which thousands of activists descended upon the city in support of Michael Brown and his family. That same weekend in St. Charles, supporters of Darren Wilson held a bowling night to support Wilson’s defense fund. They announced the event on a Darren Wilson Facebook support group with over 80,000 members. It is one of many Wilson support groups with membership in the tens of thousands.
Social media is one of the few spaces in St. Louis not subject to segregation. This raucous online debate often stands in contrast to what area residents are unwilling to say to each other in public.
Die-hard Wilson supporters share a specific terminology. The protesters are called “terrorists,” sometimes “treasonous terrorists.” Groups of black protesters are described as a “lynch mob” targeting whites. Looting, which has been rare during the months of protest, is emphasized. The characterization of the protesters by Wilson supporters reflects both whites’ rationale for fleeing St. Louis and Wilson’s for killing Michael Brown: fear of black crime.
Graphic found on a “Support Darren Wilson” Facebook page
One Wilson supporter, a lifelong North County resident who is white and asked to remain anonymous, explained his perspective in an email:
“Demanding Wilson’s arrest before that process is completed is akin to a lynch mob and would circumvent our sacred process of actual justice. All the racist chants, death threats, harassment, interruption of travel and commerce and general terror have become an insurrection and must be stopped… Interrupting commerce and disrupting normal working citizen’s lives is not what the founders had in mind when our right to protest was protected. They also didn’t envision mobs of people screaming racist vile [sic] and chanting death threats against our police.”
Geography of fear
The geography of St. Louis is carved by racial politics. Many of the residents of St. Charles County—where Wilson claims his base of support—grew up in St. Louis’s North County, the series of suburbs north of the city, which includes Ferguson. Once a white, blue-collar hub, North County underwent a dramatic demographic shift in the 1980s and 1990s as black St. Louis families fled the decay of the inner city.
As St. Louis County became more black and saw its population stagnate, the white population of St. Charles County surged, from 144,107 in 1980 to 360,485 in 2013. The population of O’Fallon, Missouri rose from 8,677 in 1980 to 82,209 in 2010. Nearby Wentzville rose from 3,193 in 1980 to 29,070 in 2013. Wentzville is now home to a General Motors plant that created hundreds of jobs in 2014, in contrast to the closed-down factories whose rusting skeletons loom over St. Louis’s majority black neighborhoods.
As St. Louis endures a seemingly eternal recession, St. Charles County is booming. Drive down its main roads and you see open farmland on one side and construction sites on the other, with far fewer of the payday loan stores and pawn shops that line St. Louis’s streets. To many, St. Charles County, located across the Missouri River, looks like the promised land.
St. Charles County is almost entirely white.
A subdivision under construction in booming St. Charles County.(Sarah Kendzior)
“I felt I made the right decision as soon as I came out here,” says Carmen Mannino, owner of Mannino’s Market in Cottleville, MO. “People came in the store and welcomed me with open arms. I came here in 1998. When I moved, people said, ‘Why do you want to move to Cottleville? There’s nothing out there.’ There were no businesses out here. And now look at it.”
In 1939, Mannino’s grandfather made the journey from Palermo, Italy, to Ferguson, Missouri. He remembers fondly the store’s North County heyday and says the family had good relationships with black employees and customers.
“We had old-timers who respected my dad so much,” Mannino recalls. “They had respect for people. The people were just amazing back then. But I saw a lot of the change when I was there. I started being afraid to leave my mom or my wife outside the door. There were drug deals and fights and we looked at each other and said, ‘We have to get out of here.’”
Mannino’s is one of many North County businesses that fled to St. Charles County following the demographic shift in the 1980s. Others include Faraci Pizza—whose owners at the remaining Ferguson branch have clashed with protesters—Old Town Donuts, Pironnes Pizza, and Fritz’s Frozen Custard. Families who grew up in a white North County are reliving their childhood memories in a white St. Charles.
Darren Wilson, the victim
Fear of black crime goes hand in hand with assertions of white victimhood, and there is no greater victim, in the view of Darren Wilson supporters, than the police.
“We support Darren, a law enforcement officer,” explains Tiffany (who asked to be identified by her first name only out of fear for her personal safety), the organizer of the Facebook page “I Support Darren Wilson,” which has over 76,000 followers. “We support the men and women, of all ethnic backgrounds, that have worked countless hours to keep the peace as much as possible in and around Ferguson and St. Louis.
“I would argue that calling me racist because I support law enforcement is a racial slur itself,” she continues. “How do you lump me and our supporters on this page into one giant ‘racial pool’ yet be mad that you think people are calling you a thug because your skin color is darker than mine? Yes, we have had struggles in the past with racism. But it is 2014. Why are people so hell-bent on staying in the past? Let’s move forward. Let’s educate each other.”
Tiffany, like many Wilson supporters, lives not in St. Louis but “a couple hours out.” She says the Facebook group consists of “all races” and believes that the media, led astray by Reverend Al Sharpton, has unfairly characterized Wilson supporters: “[The media made] this a racial issue of a ‘white officer shooting an unarmed black teenager.’ This all could have gone a completely different direction had the media portrayed it as a ‘police officer involved shooting of a robbery suspect.’”
Some Wilson supporters believe there is a hidden narrative of events. Tiffany believes the media “refuse to show the videos of the protesters/domestic terrorists pointing guns at police officers and threatening them.” (No such videos are known to exist.) Other Wilson supporters cite the protesters’ own materials—the livestream of demonstrations or signs calling to end police brutality—as evidence of wrong-doing.
St. Charles County residents frequently name crime as the reason for their flight from North County and other majority black areas of St. Louis. But according to many residents, crime in St. Charles County is significant. Only the suspects look different.
“We moved out here to get away from crime, but crime out here is just as bad,” says Dave Patek, an office worker who grew up in North County but now works in St. Charles County. “There are still break-ins, domestic violence, robberies. We have a meth problem. Everything is the same, our Walmarts look the same.”
Many middle-aged St. Charles residents grew up in integrated North County towns, like Ferguson, that also experienced rapid economic decline. Avoiding the fate of North County is the goal—but the past travels with them.
The side of the law
Many local whites prefer not to identify themselves as Wilson supporters, but as supporters of law and order. But supporting the rule of law, in a region like St. Louis, is racially loaded. Ferguson protesters’ central complaint is that rule of law is selectively applied and ruthlessly abused.
Faith in law enforcement has migrated to St. Charles County along with the people it protects.
Unsurprisingly, law enforcement officials are among the most loyal Wilson supporters. As with other supporters, there is a wide range in their rationales. Many echo the sentiment of the Wilson fan pages, that framing this as a race issue is itself racist. One officer who grew up in St. Louis County but now lives in St. Charles County, and asked to remain anonymous says: “Police officers have a very difficult time no matter what city. This case would never be an issue if Darren Wilson were a black male. The African-Americans in Ferguson chose to make this a racial issue.”
But Mark Whitson, a former police officer recently retired from 35 years in the St. Louis County Police Department, believes officer education on racial politics is itself a problem. He recalls a class he taught on law enforcement: “I pointed out the socio-historical environment where all contacts with the public take place. A major on the department pointed out the advancements and changes that have occurred since slavery ended, through the 1950s and ’60s. I agreed with him, but believe that is no reason to stop.”
When asked whether Wilson should be indicted, this officer replied he should not be and will not be. Legal analysts share the view that a non-indictment is likely, particularly given that the prosecutor, Bob McCulloch, failed to bring about an indictment in prior officer-involved shootings.
Region on the run
Every Tuesday night since Sept. 23, dozens of protesters, nearly all black, have shared their concerns with the St. Louis County Council, most of whom are white. They speak, tearfully, of the death of Brown and police violence against the citizens who protest it. Older black St. Louisans note the racism their families have experienced for generations, while younger St. Louisans decry their lack of opportunity. Few see a future in a city where the past is always present.
A packed Sept. 23 meeting of the St. Louis County Council. Speaker had asked everyone who had been tear-gassed to stand. This is a fraction of the standing crowd.(Sarah Kendzior)
Police officer stands outside Faraci Pizza in Ferguson, Missouri, as white residents feud with black protesters. Sept. 30, 2014.(Sarah Kendzior)
Halfway through the Oct. 7 meeting, a white St. Louis resident shouted “We support Darren Wilson!” At previous meetings, this resident had called protesters “crazies” and Captain Ron Johnson, the officer overseeing Ferguson policing until recently, “Mr. Hug-a-Thug.” The protesters in the audience shouted back, clapping and stomping: “If we don’t get it, shut it down!”—a common refrain indicating protesters’ refusal to accept a non-indictment in the Wilson case and police brutality toward blacks in general.
Police guarding the meeting asked the predominantly black protesters to leave, then followed them down the escalator and locked them out of the building. The white Wilson supporter was allowed to stay.
One of the protesters escorted out of the building was Molly Greider. She is one of few white protesters who regularly attend Ferguson demonstrations. She has tried to explain to other white people in her office, some of whom support Wilson, why they should join the protests.
Protesters ask an officer why they were locked out of the St. Louis County Council meeting. Oct. 7, 2014.(Sarah Kendzior)
“They told me ‘You might get killed or looted.’ I was like, can you loot a person?” she recalls. “It was almost like they never met a black person, even though they had. They might know black people but they’ve never discussed these issues with them. One person listed the cleaning people in the building as their black friends. But they were nice, there was not a lot of angry pushback. It was good that they wanted to talk about it.”
When asked why they support Darren Wilson, each supporter gives an answer rooted in fear. Police officers discuss the fear they feel with a potentially dangerous suspect. White citizens are afraid of protesters, whom they view as an unruly, angry mob ready to strike. St. Charles residents describe their fear of Ferguson and the surrounding North County area, which they had left due to fear of crime.
Asked why more white people do not support the protests, Greider gives the same answer: fear.
“It stems from the fear that they will become oppressed,” she says. “Most people think they have to give something up for somebody else to have something. I think that white people have a problem with the idea of black people demanding anything.”
St. Louis is a city long on the run from itself. White flight has spread from suburbia to exurbia, while decades of black demands—for better jobs, better schools, better treatment—go unheeded. This is a region deprived of resources, forcing residents to scrounge for more fertile terrain.
Fear keeps people on the run. But they can only keep moving for so long.
While leaks from the federal investigation of police officer Darren Wilson’s shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, August 9 …
While leaks from the federal investigation of police officer Darren Wilson’s shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, August 9 are starting to appear, concerned citizens in Ferguson and beyond have a plethora of unanswered questions they’d love ask to Wilson—not only about his mindset, but his actions the day Brown was killed. To begin, here are 15 questions:
1. When your SUV pulled up alongside Mike Brown and Dorian Johnson as they were walking along Canfield Drive, did you tell them to "get the fuck on the sidewalk?"
2. When you pulled away from Brown and Johnson on Canfield Drive, why exactly did you decide to put your SUV in reverse to confront them again? Your chief says you did not know about the earlier convenience store incident where it is alleged Mike Brown stole some cigars. Was it to express your anger that they didn’t obey your earlier command to “get the fuck on the sidewalk?”
4. When you arrived back at where Brown and Johnson stood, if you did not know about the store incident, why exactly did you open your door to confront them? Did you intend to arrest them for jaywalking?
5. Precisely how far away was your door from Brown and Johnson when you flung it open?
6. Did you believe Brown or Johnson were armed at any point during your confrontation?
7. Reports have surfaced that you told federal investigators that you were repeatedly punched and scratched by Brown through your SUV window. Why did you not see the medic who arrived on the crime scene? Why do no photos or videos or eyewitness reports from the scene have evidence of even a shadow of an injury, or you touching or favoring any injury?
8. It’s been reported that you claim that Brown “went for, or lunged for,” your gun. Was this when the gun was within inches of his face before you fired two shots at him through your window and hit him with one?
13. Before you fired the two fatal shots into Brown’s eye and the crown of his head, as he was falling down, you had shot him a total of four times already. Did you still believe him to be a threat to you at that point?
14. No record exists of you ever radioing in for backup or support at any time. Did you use your cell phone to call for backup? Who else did you call and why?
15. Who first told you not to create a report after you shot and killed Brown, and what reason did they give you for such a request?
Gov. Jay Nixon announced the creation of an independent group to study the unrest that followed the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown and make recommendations for how to improve the St. Lo…
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced Tuesday the creation of the Ferguson Commission, an independent group that will study the unrest that occurred in the St. Louis area after the killing of Mike Brown.
“My fervent hope – and my belief – is that we will find thoughtful people from every walk of life, ordinary citizens as well as empowered leaders in business, education, public safety and our faith communities, who are willing to serve their state when it needs them most,” Nixon said during the announcement at a community college in St. Louis.
The Ferguson Commission will not investigate the Aug. 9 shooting that sparked protests in Ferguson, and around the country. Rather, the group will be looking at the various social and economic issues exposed in the region in the wake of Brown’s death — and then will offer recommendations for how to fix the problems, Nixon said.
Nixon did not say who will be on the Ferguson Commission, other than that it would be made up of individuals from the St. Louis-area and that he planned to announce the members next month. “I am asking for your help in identifying individuals in this region to serve on this commission,” Nixon said.
Nixon did not speak about the specifics of the task at hand for the group in his address, but he did suggest that the Ferguson Commission’s job poses a tremendous challenge.
“This work is not for the faint of heart,” Nixon said. “Make no mistake: there will be anger and conflict, fear and distrust. The enemies of change will not easily yield to reasoned voices calling for a stronger, more united region.”
The governor’s announcement comes 73 days after the death of Michael Brown.
In the past month, protests over the incident have persisted with demonstrators continuing to call for the indictment of the officer who shot and killed Brown, Darren Wilson.
Frustrations in the community have been stirred by the lengthy grand jury investigation into the shooting, which is not expected to announce its decision on whether to charge Wilson in the death of Brown until mid-November at the earliest.
“The responsibility for that investigation belongs to the St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney, the grand jury, the FBI, the federal Department of Justice and the United States Attorney General,” Nixon said about the Brown shooting investigation
“Whatever the outcome of their investigations, we must move forward together.”
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon greets demonstrators protesting the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 23. Reuters
As a Texas state senator, Dan Patrick has conducted himself in a manner consistent with the shock jock he once was. Patrick—who is now the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor—has railed against everything from separation of church and state to Mexican coyotes who supposedly speak Urdu. He’s even advised his followers that God is speaking to them through Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson.
A former sportscaster who once defended a football player who’d thrown a reporter through a door (Patrick believed it wasn’t the journalist’s job to do “negative reporting”), Patrick became a conservative talk radio host in the early 1990s—Houston’s answer to Rush Limbaugh. In 2006, he parlayed his radio fame into a state Senate seat—and kept the talk show going. In office, he proposed paying women $500 to turn over newborn babies to the state (to reduce abortions), led the charge against creeping liberalism in state textbooks, and pushed wave after wave of new abortion restrictions. For his efforts, Texas Monthlynamed Patrick one of the worst legislators of 2013.
With a victory on November 4, Patrick, who is leading Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte in the polls, would find himself next in line for the governor’s mansion of the nation’s second-largest state. (Rick Perry, the current Republican governor, was previously lieutenant governor.) But even if Patrick advances no further, he’d be in a position to shape public policy—Texas’ lieutenant governor is sometimes called the “most powerful office in Texas" because of the influence it has on both the legislative and executive branches.
Here are a few of Patrick’s greatest hits:
On Islam: Patrick walked out of the Senate chamber in 2007 rather than listen to a Muslim deliver the opening prayer. “I think that it’s important that we are tolerant as a people of all faiths, but that doesn’t mean we have to endorse all faiths, and that was my decision,” he told the Houston Chronicle. “I surely believe that everyone should have the right to speak, but I didn’t want my attendance on the floor to appear that I was endorsing that.”
Five years later, he did it again. “We are a nation that allows a Muslim to come in with a Koran but does not allow a Christian to take a Bible to school,” Patrick explained, after walking out on another prayer, delivered this time by Imam Yusuf Kavacki. “We are a Judeo-Christian nation, primarily a Christian nation.”
On the border: "While ISIS terrorists threaten to cross our border and kill Americans, my opponent falsely attacks me to hide her failed record on illegal immigration," he says in his first general-election campaign. Patrick’s website, meanwhile, warns that Pakistanis are crossing the border as well, presumably to do bad things to Americans. “This is an Urdu dictionary found by border volunteers that was dropped by a human smuggler,” Patrick writes beneath a photo of an Urdu-English dictionary. “It is concerning that Mexican coyotes are learning Urdu in order to smuggle illegal immigrants?” [sic]
On migrants: ”They are bringing Third World diseases with them,” he said in 2006, warning that immigrants could bring leprosy and polio to Texas. (This was news to Texas public health officials.) Patrick hired an undocumented worker when he ran a Houston sports bar, and when the worker revealed last spring that he had talked candidly with Patrick about his situation, the candidate insisted: “The worker says I was personally very kind to him and goes on to allege other preposterous events that are not true and for which he offers no evidence.”
On his first book, actually titled The Second Most Important Book You Will Ever Read: "As the author, I am obviously biased," Patrick wrote in an Amazon review of his own book. But “since God inspired me to write this book,” he added, “He automatically gets 5 stars and the CREDIT!’”
On squashing Wendy Davis’ filibuster: Patrick told Mike Huckabee he had a Christian obligation to ignore Senate rules if the lives of fetuses were at risk. ”I spoke to my colleagues and said, ‘When Jesus criticized the Pharisees, he criticized them because their laws and their rules were more important than actually taking care of people,’” he said. “And in my view, stopping a debate to save thousands of lives, well, saving the thousands of lives is more important than our tradition of, well, you should never stop someone. I said, ‘Well, are we gonna become the modern-day Pharisees as Republicans of the Senate and just let her talk this bill to death and thousands that could have been saved a horrendous death and also improving health care?’”
On Connie Chung’s TV show, Eye to Eye: Patrick quipped in 1992 that the Asian American journalist’s show should be called “Slanted Eye to Eye." Although Patrick’s remarks sparked a local media firestorm, he did not change his ways. In 1999, a Houston Press profile noted that “Patrick lapsed into a faux-Chinese accent when he thought he heard a network correspondent call Clinton, in the midst of the Chinese-espionage scandal, ‘President Crinton,’” and later joked that Clinton should get surgery to “make his eyes slanted.”
On MTV: Patrick issued a call to arms against the cable channel in 2004, in an online bulletin:
STAND UP AND FIGHT BACK AGAINST MTV…LET’S TURN OFF MTV IN HOUSTON….JUST TAKE YOUR REMOTE AND GO TO DELETE CHANNELS….DELETE MTV AND CHANGE THE PASSWORD SO YOUR KIDS CAN’T WATCH….STAND UP TO YOUR KIDS…THEY WON’T BE HAPPY,BUT YOU MUST HOLD FIRM…. DO YOU WANT YOUR SONS AND ESPECIALLY YOUR DAUGHTERS EXPOSED TO THIS CONSTANT BARRAGE OF ATTACKS ON YOUR VALUES……..THEN SCROLL BELOW AND CONTACT THE NFL AND CBS….ALSO CONTACT YOUR CONGRESSMAN AND SENATOR AND DEMAND THAT THE FCC GET TOUGH WITH THOSE WHO WANT TO COME INTO YOUR HOME AND DESTROY YOUR FAMILY VALUES
On creationism: "Our students…must really be confused," Patrick said at a GOP primary debate last spring. "They go to Sunday School on Sunday and then they go into school on Monday and we tell them they can’t talk about God. I’m sick and tired of a minority in our country who want us to turn our back on God."
On Duck Dynasty: Patrick tried to raise money off of Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson’s comments about homosexuality in GQ,boasting that the bearded reality star was channeling another bearded visionary.”This is an exciting time for Christians,” he wrote on Facebook. “God is speaking to us from the most unlikely voice, Phil Robertson, about God’s Word. God is using pop culture and a highly successful cable TV show to remind us about His teaching.”
On his inspiration for this painting of Christ’s face on the Statue of Liberty:
In teaching myself how to watercolor I was trying different styles. After a beach scene, I decided to try a Peter Max type of painting of the Statue of Liberty. I could not get the fact right and used water to remove the paint on her face. When it dried and I tried to clean it up suddently [sic] the face of Jesus appeared so clearly. It struck me that Jesus face on the Statue of Liberty sends an incredible message that the real light that our country has sent in the past, and needs to send once again today, is we are a nation that stands on His Word This was only my 4th try at a painting I had no idea of how to paint the face of Jesus, nor was I trying to do so.
On film: ”A very popular movie starring Mel Gibson, Signs, has a theme dealing with the concept of coincidence,” Patrick wrote in his book. “If you haven’t seen it, it’s a terrific flick (albeit a little scary). I recommend it.”
Last week on his talk radio program, Michael Savage got into an argument with a caller over whether California lawmakers should rename a San Francisco tunnel in honor of Robin Williams. The caller, who said he was a veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), defended the move, while Savage objected to the plan, claiming that it would promote suicide.
After a lengthy argument, Savage hung up on the caller and proceeded to attack him. “I am so sick and tired with everyone with their complaints about PTSD, depression. Everyone wants their hand held and a check, a government check. What, are you the only generation that had PTSD? The only generation that’s depressed?”
He then blamed America’s problems on those who “cry like a little baby” over depression: “If the whole nation is told, ‘boo-hoo-hoo, come and get a medication, come and get treatment, talk about mental illness,’ you know what you wind up with? You wind up with Obama in the White House and lawyers in every phase of the government, that’s what you wind up with. It’s a weak, sick nation. A weak, sick, broken nation.”
Savage continued that veterans with PTSD are a “bunch of losers” and recommended that they be more like Michael Savage.
“You need men like me to save the country,” he said. “You need men to stand up and say stop crying like a baby over everything.” He continued that “men are so weak and so narcissistic” that it is “no wonder ISIS can defeat our military.”
William Gheen’s Americans for Legal Immigration PAC and James Neighbors of Overpasses for America, the crack team that brought us this summer’s sparsely attended and unabashedly xenophobic protests against Central American children, are back with another round this weekend, this time attempting to tie undocumented immigrants to the Ebola virus.
In an email alert that went out to Gheen’s activist list yesterday with the subject line “New National Wave of Protests Against Obama, Illegla Immigration, & Ebola,” Gheen and Neighbors announce that a “new twist to this next wave of events will be protesters wearing medical face masks to protest Obama allowing Ebola into America.”
In the email, Gheen implies that undocumented immigrants — including the longtime U.S. residents who would be affected by immigration reform — are bringing Ebola into the United States. “Obama won’t stop Ebola from entering America because to do so he would have to stop his immigration reform plans and illegal immigration!” he declares.
After making history in July with more than 300 protests nationwide in a 24 hour period, this next wave is designed to remind voters that Obama’s policies are on the ballot in the November 4, 2014 midterm elections and which may become American’s last chance to rebuke Obama and put a stop to his plans to decree amnesty for millions of illegal aliens before year’s end! A new twist to this next wave of events will be protesters wearing medical face masks to protest Obama allowing Ebola into America.
"We need a Democrat apocalypse on November 4 and then to go after the Republicans facilitating Obama’s dictatorial abuses of power and immigration reform amnesty, which are designed to permanently destroy America’s borders, the Constitution, and the Republic!" said William Gheen President of ALIPAC. "Obama won’t stop Ebola from entering America because to do so he would have to stop his immigration reform plans and illegal immigration!"
Some protesters will carry signs opposing Obama’s plans to allow non American Ebola patients to be brought into America while refusing to stop non essential travel from Ebola infection areas. Others plan to wear face masks and bio suits in protest increasing the visual display attracting public attention with American flags and signs! [sic throughout.]
When Republican-controlled legislatures around the country have passed laws curtailing early voting, they have invariably insisted that these laws have nothing to do with politics.
Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly, however, has no problem with admitting the reason she wants to do away with early voting: giving people more time to cast their ballots might help Democrats.
Writing today in WorldNetDaily, Schlafly insists — without any evidence — that early voting is rife with fraud and enables Democratic campaign workers to “harass and nag low-information voters until they turned in their ballots.”
She blames early voting in states like Ohio for President Obama’s reelection victory, and worries that early voting may help Democrats in the upcoming midterm elections as people who have already voted “may wish to change their vote” because of “the Ebola scandal.”
Because of the Ebola scandal, some may wish to change their vote, but that is impossible for those who have already voted. Some early voters may die before Election Day, and early voting allows the votes of those dead people to be included. If there is any dispute over whether their votes were valid or fraudulent, they are no longer with us to defend themselves.
Typically, there are no poll watchers during early voting, so the integrity of the casting of the ballots cannot be monitored. Many of the early votes are cast in a coercive environment, such as a union boss driving employees to the polls and watching over the process so there is no guarantee that their votes will be private.
Democrats promote early voting for the same reason they oppose voter ID: because they view early voting as helping their side. In the absurdly long 35-day period of early voting in Ohio in 2012, Democrats racked up perhaps a million-vote advantage over Republicans before Election Day was ever reached.
Republicans have been slow to realize how early voting helps the Democrats. Most top Republican political operatives firmly believed, right up to the morning of the 2012 election, that Mitt Romney was going to win.
In his expert analysis of why Republicans lost the 2012 election, scholar and WND writer Jerome Corsi quoted Mitt Romney’s chief campaign strategist, Stuart Stevens, on the last plane flight of the 2012 campaign, confidently assuring all that Romney would win the presidency because “a positive campaign message trumps a good ground game every time.”
Romney lacked a message, too, but he was mainly defeated by the Democrats’ superb ground game, which exploited early voting in key states such as Florida and Ohio. By continuously updating their computer-based information about who had not yet voted, Democrats could harass and nag low-information voters until they turned in their ballots.
Pistorius, 27, did not dispute that he shot and killed Steenkamp. However, Pistorius argued that he believed she was an intruder when he shot her through a locked bathroom door at his home in Pretoria in the early-morning hours of Feb. 14, 2013.
Pistorius rose to fame by competing in running events while wearing the blade-like prosthetics that gave him his nickname, “Blade Runner.” In 2012, he became the first amputee to compete in an Olympic track event, running in two events in the 2012 Summer Games in London.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated that Pistorius had been given a suspended sentence. He was sentenced to 5 years in prison for the count of culpable homicide, and 3 years suspended for the firearms count.
The conservative provocateur allegedly posed as a mustachioed “civics professor.”
James O’Keefe, the conservative provocateur, has been on the prowl in Colorado, the setting of a close Senate race between Democratic incumbent Mark Udall and GOP Rep. Cory Gardner, as well as a nip-and-tuck governor’s contest. Last week, O’Keefe and two of his collaborators tried to bait Democratic field staffers into approving voter fraud involving Colorado’s universal vote-by-mail program, according to three Democratic staffers who interacted with O’Keefe or his colleagues.
More stories from the MoJo archive on James O’Keefe:
Democratic staffers in Colorado recently came to believe they were the subject of an O’Keefe operation after campaign workers became suspicious about would-be volunteers who had asked about filling out and submitting mail-in ballots for others. Recently, the 30-year-old O’Keefe has targeted the Senate campaigns of Arkansas Democrat Mark Pryor and Kentucky Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes by filming undercover videos of staffers or the candidate.
Last Tuesday, a man who appeared to be in his 20s showed up at a Democratic field office in Boulder wanting to volunteer to help elect Udall and Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), according to a Democratic staffer who met with him and asked not to be identified. The man introduced himself as “Nick Davis,” and he said he was a University of Colorado-Boulder student and LGBT activist involved with a student group called Rocky Mountain Vote Pride. Davis mentioned polls showing the race between Udall and Gardner was tight, and he asked the staffer if he should fill out and mail in ballots for other college students who had moved away but still received mail on campus. The Democratic staffer says he told Davis that doing this would be voter fraud and that he should not do it.
On Friday, Udall campaigned with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on the University of Colorado-Boulder campus. After the event, a woman calling herself “Bonnie” approached a different staffer and, according to this staffer’s boss, asked whether she could fill out and submit blank ballots found in a garbage can. The staffer, according to her boss, said that she told her no.
That same day, the guy identifying himself as “Nick Davis” returned to the Democratic office in Boulder. He was accompanied by a man wearing heavy makeup and a mustache, according to the Democratic staffer who had met Davis three days earlier. Davis introduced his friend as a “civics professor” at the University of Colorado-Boulder and the faculty adviser to Rocky Mountain Vote Pride. Davis and the professor, who said his name was “John Miller,” picked up Udall campaign literature and canvassing information.
On Monday, O’Keefe tweeted a photo of himself with a mustache and said he’d recently posed as a “45yo” for one of his “election investigations.”
Only time for 2-3 more election investigations. I went in Disguised as 45yo, this time people may lose their jobs pic.twitter.com/ihuTjpierm
The repeated questions about submitting other people’s ballots led Democratic staffers to suspect they were being targeted. Later, the staffers viewed photos of O’Keefe—including one taken in Colorado showing O’Keefe sans mustache and sporting a Udall campaign sticker and a Women for Udall button—and they concluded that O’Keefe and the college professor were the same person. They also said the image O’Keefe tweeted of himself with a mustache matched the man who visited the Boulder office on Friday.
O’Keefe and two male colleagues also targeted a progressive nonprofit named New Era Colorado, according to New Era executive director Steve Fenberg. On Saturday, Fenberg says, O’Keefe and his friends contacted New Era’s Fort Collins office to set up an in-person meeting and identified themselves as activists affiliated with Rocky Mountain Vote Pride. The three men arrived carrying Udall campaign literature, Fenberg notes, but a New Era organizer met them outside the office’s front door and refused to let them enter with the Udall materials. Outside groups such as New Era cannot coordinate with political campaigns, and Fenberg says he believes O’Keefe and his collaborators “were trying to establish evidence we were working together.”
James O’Keefe and one of his collaborators
When New Era’s staffers began taking pictures of O’Keefe (including the photo embedded at left), Fenberg says, O’Keefe and a colleague went to their car and returned with a large video camera and a microphone. “If you want to take photos of us, we’ll take photos of you,” O’Keefe said, according to Fenberg, and the New Era staffers closed the door while O’Keefe and his friend tried to push it open and stick their microphone inside. Fenberg says New Era filed a police report about the incident.
Rocky Mountain Vote Pride doesn’t seem to have much of a footprint. There is a website andFacebook page for the organization, both created in July, but they provide no information about who’s behind the group. Searches for Rocky Mountain Vote Pride in the University of Colorado-Boulder student newspaper, the Denver Post, and the Boulder Daily Camera turned up no results. A search of Nexis archives for the past two years yielded zero mentions.
Chris Harris, the communications director for the Udall campaign, accused O’Keefe of “using sleazy, deceptive tactics to undermine the public’s trust in democracy.”
O’Keefe is best known for his undercover videos attacking the community organizing group ACORN. Those videos, hyped by Fox News and the conservative blogosphere, led the GOP-led House of Representatives to hold more than a dozen votes to defund ACORN, and the group disbanded soon after. In 2010, the FBI arrested O’Keefe and three others for phone tampering at a New Orleans office of Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.). He was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and three years of probation and fined $1,500.
This fall, O’Keefe’s group, Project Veritas, launched a political offshoot with its sights set on high-profile campaigns and organizations. Project Veritas went undercover to try to get campaign staffers for Kentucky’s Alison Lundergan Grimes to contradict the candidate’s pro-coal message. In Arkansas, O’Keefe’s group secretly filmed Sen. Mark Pryor speaking to a local LGBT group in an attempt to expose him as privately supporting marriage equality, which he has publicly opposed. Project Veritas also sought to bait workers for Battleground Texas, the group formed by Obama campaign alums to register and organize Democratic voters, into taking improper actions, but a Texas special prosecutor dismissed the group’s video as “little more than a canard and political disinformation.”
Neither New Era nor the Udall campaign was aware of any other contacts by staff with O’Keefe or his colleagues, and it was not clear whether other organizations in Colorado might have been contacted. Stephen Gordon, a spokesman for Project Veritas, declined to comment. “We’re not making any comment on potential operations in Colorado at this moment,” he said. “But watch for our upcoming videos.”
When Illinois voters cast ballots for the November election, they will have a rare opportunity to weigh in on nearly half a dozen hot-button issues.
In a practice more common in California and some other states, Illinoisans will wade through five ballot questions — ranging from constitutional amendments on voter and victim rights to advisory referendums on birth control, the minimum wage and a so-called “millionaires’ tax.” The most Illinois voters have seen before is three, at least since 1970, according to available state records.
Lawmakers say the non-binding questions are aimed at taking the public’s temperature so they know how to proceed in Springfield. But at least some of the measures also have a political purpose, as part of a coordinated campaign by Democrats to boost turnout for the midterm election.
The list of questions could’ve been longer, but attempts fell short to include questions about term limits — an effort backed by Republicans — and altering Illinois’ political redistricting process.
The initiatives haven’t had as visible a promotion as the contested races, and some political experts believe voters may just skip them.
"These are not part of Illinois political culture," said David Yepsen, director of Southern Illinois University’s Paul Simon Public Policy Institute. "Voters aren’t used to it."
Here’s a look at the measures:
Democratic lawmakers pushed an advisory ballot measure in the final days of the spring legislative session that asks if insurance companies should cover birth control.
While Illinois has had such a law since 2003, supporters say widespread voter approval will ensure future protections. As evidence, they cite the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision saying employers with religious objections could opt out of a federal rule requiring that insurers cover contraceptives.
Republicans say the last-minute ballot measure is an obvious ploy to boost Democratic votes, especially since it’s already law.
Two Chicago-based political action committees have taken to social media to garner support, including Planned Parenthood Illinois Action. A second committee, Save Birth Control in Illinois, says it’s trying to lay groundwork for legislation requiring employers to provide notice to employees about exclusions in health insurance plans’ contraceptive coverage.
This measure, sponsored by Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan, proposes charging Illinoisans who make over $1 million a 3 percent income tax surcharge to raise funds for education.
An attempt to pass the tax as legislation stalled. Democratic leaders then posed the idea as a nonbinding ballot question to gauge public support.
The Internal Revenue Service says Illinois had over 14,500 tax returns in 2011 from households where adjusted gross income was at least $1 million. Madigan has said the tax would raise $1 billion annually.
Republicans say the measure is purely political. Republican Bruce Rauner, a venture capitalist challenging Gov. Pat Quinn, earned $61 million in 2013.
This non-binding ballot question asks voters if Illinois should increase its minimum wage to $10 from $8.25 by 2015, parallel to a Democratic effort to push the issue in campaigns nationwide.
Sponsors say they’re hoping to use the results to renew a legislative push for approval.
It’s been a major issue in the governor’s race. Quinn has vowed to raise it, despite previous attempts falling short. Rauner at one point said he wanted to cut the state’s minimum wage, but has changed his stance, now saying he’d favor raising it with other reforms.
Business groups oppose an increase, saying it’ll kill jobs.
Voters will be asked to change the state constitution to prevent people from being denied the right to register or vote based on race, ethnicity or sexual orientation, among other things.
The measure had bipartisan support, including among top Democrats and Republicans.
It’s aimed at ensuring Illinois doesn’t adopt voter identification laws like those passed in several states since the beginning of 2013. Republicans said they pushed those laws to prevent voter fraud. Democrats say fears of fraud are overblown and the laws are attempts to suppress votes favorable to them.
CRIME VICTIMS’ RIGHTS
This question asks if crime victims should have more rights protected by the constitution during court proceedings and criminal trials. The Crime Victims’ Bill of Rights would ensure they have information about hearings and plea negotiations, access to restitution and protections against alleged perpetrators.
The proposal is patterned after “Marsy’s Law,” which California voters approved in 2008 after the murder of a college student.
Lawmakers overwhelmingly approved putting the measure on the ballot. But among opponents was House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie, who argued that such standards could slow trials and should be dealt with through laws, not the constitution.
Democratic Attorney General Lisa Madigan backs it, saying crime victims are “owed a voice.”
Vote YES to all five, especially the millionaires’ tax, birth control, and minimum wage, because it pisses the hell out of the Illinois Family Institute!
The purpose of this new counterintelligence endeavor is to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize. The pernicious background of such groups, their duplicity, and devious maneuvers must be exposed to public scrutiny where such publicity will have a neutralizing effect.
—J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI, 1967 (in the letter above)
When Mike Brown was killed by Ferguson Police officer Darren Wilson on Saturday, August 9, in Ferguson, Missouri, the outrage from the community was palpable and started within seconds of the shooting. Not only did dozens of people see or hear the shooting, which took place at the peak of a hot, sunny day, but hundreds of gathering people witnessed Brown’s lifeless body laying in the middle of the street for four more hours.
Protests of raw grief and despair didn’t come a few days later, but started that very day on Canfield Drive—very much fueled by the horrific wails from Brown’s parents, friends, and relatives. As soon as the protests began, something else happened and it has devolved into a much uglier narrative than one could have imagined over two months ago when Brown was killed. It’s as if we’ve gone back in time.
Police and government tactics to intimidate, criminalize, humiliate, and undermine activists started on Day 1 in Ferguson and have only gotten worse, and the tactics used echo those of an earlier era.
Officially started in 1956 by the FBI, COINTELPRO (short for counterintelligence program) subversively investigated and undermined virtually every prominent African-American leader in the country for 15 years. A veritable Who’s Who of leaders, ranging from Malcolm X to Fannie Lou Hamer to Jackie Robinson to Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King wereinvestigated and interfered with on the deepest levels. Undercover agents spied on leaders, federal informants were planted inside of their organizations, disinformation was often deliberately spread with the intention of sowing discord and strife between leaders and organizations. To this day, huge volumes of the COINTELPRO documents are redacted, fueling speculation on just what they may be hiding 40 years later.
While the program was officially ended in 1971, echoes of COINTELPRO are reverberating in Ferguson, Missouri, today and leaders on the ground and supporters around the world report feeling the attempts to discredit them are constant. Read on for more ….
While rumors of FBI involvement in Ferguson existed for weeks, it wasn’t until this Reuters report was released that the FBI was actively meeting with St. Louis officials “two to three times per week” that it was fully confirmed. Since then, instances of COINTELPRO-like activities by local police and government officials appear to have had a dramatic uptick.
What you will see below is a regularly updated list of documented cases of police abuse, humiliation, misinformation, outright lies, coercion, informants, plants, and more. This list will be updated regularly.
—When asked to justify the use of military-grade equipment and weapons, Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson, speaking to the press said, referring to the protestors, “people are using pipe bombs and so forth.” To this very day, not one shred of evidence exists that any protestor ever set off a single pipe bomb.
—At the press conference in which Ferguson Police Chief Jackson first planned to announce the identity of the officer who killed Brown, he instead released a packet of information with photos and a link to a video, against the explicit request of the Department of Justice, showing Brown in a local convenience store allegedly stealing cigars the day he was killed. His implication throughout the press conference, as he then pivoted to identifying Darren Wilson, was that Wilson was aware that Brown committed what Jackson was calling “a strong-armed robbery” and that the shooting was related to the “robbery.” Later that day, after the damage was already done, Jackson held a small press conference to clarify that Wilson was unaware of the convenience store incident when he confronted Brown. Later, changing his story for the third time, Jackson said Wilson “may” have known about the incident after all, but that he wasn’t sure.
When asked why he released the video footage from the convenience store at the exact moment he planned to release the identity of Wilson, Jackson claimed that the department was “forced” to do so after repeated Freedom of Information Act requests were made for that specific information. When asked to produce documents proving the requests were made, he said they were made verbally and that the department didn’t document them.
Not one media outlet to date has reported pressing a request for access to this footage.
—The St. Louis County medical examiner decided not to release its autopsy report on Brown to the public, but did choose to leak that traces of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, were found in his system. Not only can traces of THC remain in the body for over 40 days, but marijuana is usually recognized as a calming agent and not something that makes someone more aggressive. In spite of the reality that its presence in Brown’s body could be completely irrelevant, this basic fact was released anyway.
- Christine Byers of the St. Louis Dispatch claims a police source told her that twelve eyewitnesses have backed up Darren Wilson’s story of being attacked. It’s her most shared tweet ever. Conservative media across the country, including Rush Limbaugh, take her tweet as the truth and run with it. Her tweet on this is still live today.
—At the height of unrest in Ferguson, Fox News released a grossly misleading story from an anonymous source, with the headline, “Missouri cop was badly beaten before shooting Michael Brown.” Shared over 40,000 times on social media, the story became gospel for those who believed Brown deserved to die. Further misleading its audience, Fox News couched the outrageous headline with a video of Chief Jackson, as if he made the announcement. All photos and videos and eyewitnesses from the immediate aftermath of the shooting discredit this claim. Fox News, uncharacteristically, disabled all comments on the article.
—Police performed a mass arrest during a very tense night of protests. One protestor who was being arrested could be overheard by another protestor telling the police that they accidentally arrested the wrong man. The crowd of protestors erupted in frustration. Police escorted the man away. He had been seen by other protestors joining the crowd for days, and after the incident, no reports were made of seeing him again.
—Ferguson activist Alexis Templeton was erroneously charged with the more serious count of resisting arrest (instead of a noise violation) although she can be clearly seen in this video, at 0:50, in a black T-shirt, with her hands up.
—Leaving a protest at the Hollywood Casino, protestors reported noticing police officerswriting down license plate numbers.
—Ferguson activist and livestream videographer Bassem Masri was arrested during a peaceful protest at a St. Louis area Walmart. Held in jail longer than any other protestor, Masri, a Palestinian American, reported that he was threatened by detectives with exaggerated charges if he didn’t identify and discuss inside information about fellow protestors.
Video: Justin and Melanie Sease from Treasure Valley, Idaho, where same-sex couples began marrying this week, have adorned their car with homophobic slurs hoping to start a mobile movement.
First comes love. Then comes marriage. Now cue the clown car - literally.
KBOI News reports that they were contacted this week by Justin and Melanie Sease, a married couple from Treasure Valley, Idaho. The Seases wanted to let people know that they had greeted the news that same-sex marriage is now legal in the state, by painting up their car with homophobic messages. A kind of Westboro on wheels.
"This is kind our little way of protesting the homosexual extremist movement." Justin tells the reporter.
He went on to recite the typical religious ramble:
"We can never accept public homosexuality. It’s wrong, and it’s wrong in God’s eyes first. He’s very clear in the Bible. The Bible says that when homosexuality is publicly accepted, basically it spreads like a cancer."
More interesting is Melanie’s vision of their protest:
"If nobody else is going to do it, why not start doing it? Hopefully, other people will join us and follow us and do what we’re doing."
She wants everyone to paint up their cars and take to the roads like seniors at graduation time? That will show those marrying gays!
I’m so amused and intrigued that I will even help them out with a name for their mobile protest movement:
Honk If You Hate Homos!
The family says they are now being ridiculed. To which I guiltily reply, how could you not be?
Two New York vloggers offered YouTube a small glimpse into the ugly world of racial profiling. Adam Saleh and Sheikh Akbar said they were trying to film a video for their Youtube channel when they noticed that they were being followed by the polic…
Two New York vloggers offered YouTube a small glimpse into the ugly world of racial profiling.
Adam Saleh and Sheikh Akbar said they were trying to film a video for their Youtube channel when they noticed that they were being followed by the police. The pair thought it was because they were wearing cultural clothing.
To prove their point, they decided to conduct a social experiment.
Wearing jeans and t-shirts, Saleh and Akbar got into a loud argument in front of a police officer on a street corner. Although they got quite physical — shoving each other at times — the officer didn’t make a move.
About 20 minutes later, the pair walked in front of the officer again. This time, they were wearing keffiyeh scarves and traditional long shirts, called abayas. The argument was mainly verbal, but the officer took notice immediately.
“Why are you dressed like this?” the cop asks, before forcing the two against a wall and searching them for weapons.
Saleh says the video was recorded in one take.
“What you just saw is what we always go through when we’re filming with our cultural clothing on,” Saleh said in the video.
“We just want to make racial profiling come to an end,” he continued.
An NYPD spokesperson told the Huffington Post that “the video is under internal review.”
Last year, a U.S. district judge ordered sweeping reforms to the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk initiative, ruling that the practice has resulted in discrimination against minorities. Although the number of stops has declined significantly since the trial, Saleh and Akbar’s Muslim clothing made them more likely to get the officer’s attention.
The NYPD has subjected New York’s Muslim communities to intense scrutiny and surveillance ever since the September 11 attacks, using “mosque crawlers” to monitor sermons and infiltrating Muslim student groups. The methods sparked widespread criticism from civil rights groups.
In April, the NYPD shuttered the police unit that created databases about Muslim communities and kept logs of where people prayed and shopped. But the police force has defended its continued use of informants to gather information about terror threats.
During his campaign, Mayor Bill de Blasio had promised that he would order a full review of surveillance activity against the Muslim community. Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab-American Association of New York, has said she hoped for a more forceful message from de Blasio’s administration.
After watching Saleh and Akbar’s video, Sarsour told the Huffington Post:
"If this is true, this further illustrates the point that the NYPD targets and profiles communities of color. In New York City, we should be able to walk down the street wearing our ethnic, religious clothing without fear of harassment."
We won’t get into all of the reasons that Loudon has uncovered, but she does tell us that Democrats want to bring an end to “traditional marriage” since they want couples to be sick, poor and childless.
Loudon even claims that Democrats seek to “destroy marriage” because they are “opposed to people being mentally healthier,” arguing that Democrats secretly hope for a “mentally deranged person to act out violently” so they can “rush to a TV camera to call for more gun control” and make sure that “all guns were banned.”
Have you ever wondered what it is about traditional marriage that is so offensive to Democrats?
1) Married people overwhelmingly vote Republican
For the last several elections, traditionally married people have overwhelmingly voted Republican. Married men and women supported Romney by 14 percent. Married women alone supported Romney by seven points. If only married people were allowed to vote, the GOP couldn’t lose no matter how hard it tried – no matter how spineless and worthless its candidates. The inverse is also true. If Democrats can cause fewer people to get married and fewer people to value traditional marriage, Democrats can destroy the GOP’s advantage among that group of voters.
2) Married people are physically healthier
Studies throughout the years have all agreed that in almost every way, married couples are physically healthier. Married people live longer, are less likely to develop cancer and heart disease, and are healthier in more ways than can be listed here.
You may wonder why Democrats are opposed to people being healthy.
Simply put, when people are healthy, they don’t need help from the government. Of course, no matter how healthy one may be, we are all now forced to purchase health insurance.
3) Married people are mentally healthier
Married people are less likely to suffer depression, develop dementia, commit suicide and are protected from a host of other disorders. Married people are also more likely to describe themselves as happy.
But why would Democrats be opposed to people being mentally healthier?
All it takes is one mentally deranged person to act out violently for Democrats to rush to a TV camera to call for more gun control and government surveillance. If only government agents were able to snoop on everyone (conservatives) 24/7, they could prevent violent outbursts. Also, they claim that if all guns were banned (except from men who guard the president and leftist politicians), there would be no more gun violence.
4) Married people are wealthier
Research done by Ohio State University found that married people individually are almost twice as wealthy (93 percent wealthier) than single people.
To a Democrat, that screams income inequality. It is unfair in the mind of a progressive for married people to have more money than unmarried people. Besides, what did those evil married people do to steal that money from everyone else? Don’t worry. Democrats will turn those tax credits for married couples into taxes levied against married couples. If only those pesky right-wing extremists would get out of the way, they could tax traditional marriage out of existence. That hasn’t been formally proposed yet, but don’t think that hasn’t crossed the minds of Democrats in D.C.
8) Marriage promotes children
Organizations like ZPG (Zero Population Growth), Planned Parenthood and even animal rights groups flourish when fewer children are born, or when having fewer children is the goal. All of those organizations are arms of the Democratic Party, so when they flourish, so does the cash in the coffers of the Democratic Party.
Should the government just stay out of marriage? No!
Democrats flourish when marriage is diminished, but many on the right side of the political spectrum still refuse to take a stand on the issue. They have fallen for the lie of the left that conservatives should be neutral on the issue. The idea that the government should “stay out of marriage” is exactly what the left would love the right to believe. If Democrats and their allies actively push to destroy marriage, and Republicans can be convinced that they should be neutral on the issue, then Democrats will win this one easily and traditional marriage will be something we will soon read about in history books.
The conventional wisdom is that so-called establishment Republican candidates by and large triumphed over Tea Party radicals this election cycle. But the truth is that those victories were the result of a party establishment that itself has moved far to the right. Even where Tea Party candidates have failed, the Tea Party movement has increasingly remade the “establishment” GOP in its own image.
It is now core doctrine in the GOP to deny the science behind climate change, endorse sweeping abortion bans and engage in anti-government rhetoric reminiscent of the John Birch Society.
As Tea Party icon Michele Bachmann put it last week, while she may be retiring from Congress, she leaves with the knowledge that “even the establishment moved toward embracing the Tea Party’s messaging.”
Here, we look at five Republican congressional candidates who could be heading to the Capitol next year. Some have been labeled “establishment,” some “Tea Party,” but all are emblematic of the party’s strong turn to the right.
1. Joni Ernst
One Iowa conservative pundit has described state Sen. Joni Ernst, now the GOP nominee for U.S. Senate, as “the choice of the Republican establishment” who has “been backed by national Republican establishment figures like Mitt Romney, Sen. John McCain, and Sen. Marco Rubio.”
But in today’s Republican Party, even an “establishment” candidate like Ernst can be just as extreme as a Tea Party insurgent.
Ernst subscribes to the radical,neo-Confederate idea that states can “nullify” federal laws that they deem to be unconstitutional — and even went so far as to suggest that local law enforcement officers can arrest government officials for simply administering federal laws.
In response to a 2012 candidate survey for a group affiliated with former congressman Ron Paul, Ernst pledged to “support legislation to nullify ObamaCare and authorize state and local law enforcement to arrest federal officials attempting to implement the unconstitutional health care scheme known as ObamaCare.” In a speech to a Religious Right group the next year, she criticized Congress for passing “laws that the states are considering nullifying.”
Not only does Ernst think states should simply be able to void laws they don’t like, but she also wants to abolish the federal minimum wage and eliminate federal agencies such as the Department of Education, the EPA and the IRS. She also came out in favor of a plan, known as the “Fair Tax,” that would scrap the income tax and replace it with a federal sales tax of 23 percent on nearly all goods.
Her anti-government paranoia even extends to taking on a non-binding United Nations sustainable development agreement, Agenda 21, which she warned will pave the way for the UN to remove Americans from rural lands and force them into cities. She has even disagreed with the official investigations finding that Iraq did not have WMDs at the time of the 2003 U.S. invasion.
But Ernst does support government intervention when it comes to women’s reproductive rights, sponsoring the Iowa personhood amendment, which would ban abortion in all cases along with common forms of birth control. “I think the provider should be punished, if there were a personhood amendment,” Ernst said, but has since insisted that she thinks the amendment would be purely symbolic.
In 2007, Tillis blasted government policies that “have redistributed trillions of dollars of wealth,” calling them “reparations” for slavery. The same year, he opposed a resolution apologizing for an 1898 massacre of African Americans in a North Carolina city, explaining that the amendment didn’t sufficiently honor white Republicans.
Tillis supported the repeal of North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act — which allowed death-row inmates to appeal their sentences based on evidence of racial bias — and backed heavily restrictive voting laws designed to weaken the black vote. In a 2012 interview, he lamented that Democrats were gaining ground in North Carolina thanks to growing Latino and African American populations while the “traditional population of North Carolina and the United States is more or less stable.”
At an event in 2011, he suggested that the government cut public spending by finding “a way to divide and conquer the people who are on assistance” — specifically by setting disabled people against “these people who choose to get into a condition that makes them dependent on the government.”
He has now pivoted his campaign to focus on addressing the menacing specter of people infected with Ebola coming to Mexico to illegally cross the southern border into the U.S.
3. Jody Hice
Jody Hice entered politics as a Religious Right activist and a conservative talk radio show host, making him part of two worlds that are at the core of the conservative movement. Now, as the frontrunner in an open Georgia House seat, currently held by outgoing far-right Rep. Paul Broun, Hice is set to bring his right-wing agenda to Congress.
Hice made his first foray into politics by trying to convince local governments to erect monuments of the Ten Commandments in public places, which were deemed unconstitutional by, in Hice’s words, “judicial terrorists .” A Christian Nationalist, Hice thinks the founding fathers would support his congressional campaign and has posted on his Facebook page numerous fake quotes from our nation’s founders about the dangers of “Big Government” and the need to mix religion and government.
Hice outlines his political beliefs and fears in his book, “It’s Now or Never: A Call to Reclaim America,” in which he claims that abortion rights make the U.S. worse than Nazi Germany; endorses the fringe “nullification” theory; argues that Islam “does not deserve First Amendment protection”; and spells out his worries about gay people trying to “sodomize” children and persecute Christians, fearing that children will be “preyed upon” by gay “recruitment” efforts until they embrace “destructive,” “militant homosexuality.”
When armed militia groups gathered at the Bundy ranch in Nevada to back a rancher and race-theorist who refused to pay grazing fees for using federal property, Hice praised the groups that were threatening violence against law enforcement officers. He has argued that individuals have the right to have “any, any, any, any weapon that our government and law enforcement possesses,” including “bazookas and missiles,” in order to give citizens a fighting chance in a potential war against the government.
The GOP nominee blamed mass shootings such as those that occurred at Virginia Tech and in Aurora, Colorado, on abortion rights, the separation of church and state, and the teaching of evolution, and said that the Sandy Hook school shooting was the result of “kicking God out of the public square” with the end of school-organized prayer.
Hice also believes that we are now living in the End Times, worrying that “we have little time” left on earth and citing the appearance of blood moons as proof of imminent cataclysmic, “world-changing events.”
While Hice is worried about the destructive consequences of blood moons, he dismissed climate change as a “propaganda” tool of the “Radical Environmental Movement” to make people of believe in an “impending environmental disaster due to ‘Global Warming.’”
Grothman opposes abortion rights without exceptions in cases of rape, incest and a woman’s health, even working to make it a felony offense for a doctor to perform an abortion that could save a woman’s life. Grothman successfully passed laws requiring doctors to read scripts meant to discourage women from terminating their pregnancies, which he said was necessary because oftentimes “women are looking for someone to talk them out of it.” He also sponsored a 24-hour waiting period for abortions that only exempts survivors of “forcible rape” who file a police report.
The Republican lawmaker worries that “gals” are running — and ruining — America by leading a “war on men.” He has said the U.S. “is in the process of committing suicide today” as a result of single mothers collecting public benefits and pushed a bill to declare single parenthood “a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect,” calling single parenthood a “choice” and the result of a culture that “encourages a single motherhood lifestyle.”
“I think a lot of women are adopting the single motherhood lifestyle because the government creates a situation in which it is almost preferred,” he said in a 2012 interview with Alan Colmes, adding that he believes women aren’t telling the truth about having unintended pregnancies: “I think people are trained to say that ‘this is a surprise to me,’ because there’s still enough of a stigma that they’re supposed to say this.”
In a similar vein, he defended Gov. Scott Walker’s decision to rescind a pay equity law because, according to Grothman, pay disparities are due to the fact that “money is more important for men.”
Grothman is a sponsor of the Wisconsin Personhood resolution [PDF], which would ban abortion in all cases and many forms of birth control, and his campaign has touted the support of personhood activists.
He once described Planned Parenthood as “probably the most racist organization” in the country, adding that he believes the group targets Asian Americans for abortion. In 2007, he voted against a bill that made sure hospitals provide information about emergency contraception to sexual assault survivors.
He opposes laws protecting employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation, and once tried to strip a sex education bill of a nondiscrimination provision that he suspected was part of a plot to make kids gay. Grothman also demanded that his state refuse to follow a court order to recognize same-sex marriages, which he feared would “legitimiz[e] illegal and immoral marriages.”
Not content with just opposing gay rights in the U.S., Grothman also defended a Ugandan law that makes homosexuality a crime punishable by sentences including life in prison. He even suggested that “unbelievable” American criticism of Uganda’s law would prompt God to punish the United States.
Although Grothman fears that America might incur God’s wrath for standing up to state-sanctioned violence against gays and lesbians, he is less concerned about climate change, which he says “doesn’t exist.” Grothman told one interviewer: “This environmental stuff, this is the idea that is driven by this global warming thing. Global warming is not man-made and there is barely any global warming at all, there’s been no global warming for the last twelve or thirteen years. I see a shortage of Republicans stepping up to the plate and saying, ‘look, this global warming stuff is not going on.”
5. Zach Dasher
Taking advantage of his family’s new-found reality TV fame, “Duck Dynasty” cousin Zach Dasher is running for U.S. Congress in Louisiana in an election where the top two candidates advance to a runoff vote if no candidate takes over 50 percent of the vote.
Dasher cited the success of “Duck Dynasty” as one of the reasons he entered the race: “Five years ago, I didn’t see an opportunity or window of opportunity to get into this type of venture. But here recently, obviously with the family name and being able to get my message out there, I saw an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.”
Of his uncle Phil Robertson, who came under fire for making statements in a magazine interview defending Jim Crow and demonizing gays and lesbians, Dasher gushed: “The support of the family means a lot to me. We share a very similar background and philosophy, and our spiritual beliefs are the same as well. They’re going to be a big part of the campaign. I’m going to have Phil as my PR director, since he’s so good with the media.”
Robertson also appears in commercials promoting Dasher’s candidacy, and Dasher has said he agreed with Robertson’s remarks about the gay community. Dasher’s wife wrote in a blog post that just as people should break out of addictions to alcohol and heroin, gay people can “overcome” and “come out of” homosexuality and find “healing.”
One of Dasher’s opponents, Rep. Vince McAllister, is a freshman Republican congressman who said he would retire after he was caught on video kissing a staffer who was not his wife, then changed his mind. Dasher says he is running as an even more conservative candidate than the GOP incumbent, and has received backing from Tea Party and pro-corporate groups such as the Club for Growth and Citizens United.
“My platform begins with God. That’s really what this whole thing is about. In Washington, when we look at what’s going on, we see an erosion away from that platform,” he told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “We see the ruling classes kick God out and in His place they place themselves. That scares me because we didn’t send these folks to Washington, D.C. to determine our rights, we sent them there to defend our rights.”
Dasher fears that the federal government “believes that they’re God” and is intent on “gain[ing] control over every aspect of our lives” as part of a plan to create a “culture of dependency.” In a personal podcast, Dasher said the “swift drift away from God will usher in tyranny and death,” warning: “Tyranny will get its foothold — if it already doesn’t have it — and in the end, there will be mass carnage and mass death. It’s inevitable.”
Dasher blamed the Sandy Hook shooting on atheists, whom he also accused of “brainwashing a generation ” through rap music and ushering in “moral decay” and the erosion of liberty. He said that schools should “arm the teachers,” arguing that laws targeting gun violence actually leave people as “unarmed sitting ducks, waiting for someone to come in and shoot their schools up.” Dasher recently claimed that the Second Amendment was established to allow people to defend themselves against “a tyrannical government,” warning that government officials intend to repeal the amendment in order to eliminate all other freedoms.
In July, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a ruling that threatened the future of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. By a vote of two to one, the court held, in Halbig v. Burwell, that the insurance subsidies that allow millions of Americans to buy health insurance were contrary to the text of the law and thus were illegal. If such a decision had been made earlier in Obama’s tenure, lawyers for his Administration would have been left with a single, risky option: an appeal to the politically polarized, and usually conservative, Supreme Court.
This year, the lawyers had another choice. When President Obama took office, the full D.C. Circuit had six judges appointed by Republican Presidents, three named by Democrats, and two vacancies. By the time of the Halbig decision, Obama had placed four judges on the D.C. court, which shifted its composition to seven Democratic appointees and four Republicans. In light of this realignment, the Obama Administration asked the full D.C. Circuit to vacate the panel’s decision and rehear the Halbig case en banc—that is, with all the court’s active judges participating. The full court promptly agreed with the request, and the decision that would have crippled Obamacare is no longer on the books. Oral argument before the full court is now set for December.
The transformation of the D.C. Circuit has been replicated in federal courts around the country. Obama has had two hundred and eighty judges confirmed, which represents about a third of the federal judiciary. Two of his choices, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, were nominated to the Supreme Court; fifty-three were named to the circuit courts of appeals, two hundred and twenty-three to the district courts, and two to the Court of International Trade. When Obama took office, Republican appointees controlled ten of the thirteen circuit courts of appeals; Democratic appointees now constitute a majority in nine circuits. Because federal judges have life tenure, nearly all of Obama’s judges will continue serving well after he leaves office.
Obama’s judicial nominees look different from their predecessors. In an interview in the Oval Office, the President told me, “I think there are some particular groups that historically have been underrepresented—like Latinos and Asian-Americans—that represent a larger and larger portion of the population. And so for them to be able to see folks in robes that look like them is going to be important. When I came into office, I think there was one openly gay judge who had been appointed. We’ve appointed ten.”
The statistics affirm Obama’s boast. Sheldon Goldman, a professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a scholar of judicial appointments, said, “The majority of Obama’s appointments are women and nonwhite males.” Forty-two per cent of his judgeships have gone to women. Twenty-two per cent of George W. Bush’s judges and twenty-nine per cent of Bill Clinton’s were women. Thirty-six per cent of President Obama’s judges have been minorities, compared with eighteen per cent for Bush and twenty-four per cent for Clinton. Obama said that the new makeup of the federal bench “speaks to the larger shifts in our society, where what’s always been this great American strength—this stew that we are—is part and parcel of every institution, both in the public sector as well as in the private sector.”
Beyond diversity, the story of Obama’s influence on the courts is more complex. Indeed, it could serve as a metaphor for his Presidency: symbolically rich but substantively hazy. Obama took office after years of intense conservative focus on the courts. President George W. Bush spoke often of the need for judges who “will strictly apply the Constitution and laws, not legislate from the bench.” The conservative agenda included limiting abortion rights, ending racial preferences, and lowering barriers between church and state. Obama has shrunk from an ideological battle with conservatives on these constitutional issues. Claims for his judges are grounded in their personal integrity and professional competence. Notwithstanding their qualifications, many of his appointees have drawn fierce opposition from Senate Republicans. In those battles, too, where his judicial legacy has been at stake, the President has chosen to remain largely above the fray.
To the extent that there is an Obama legal legacy, it centers on gay rights and voting rights, subjects that the President addresses more with caution than with passion. Obama served as president of the Harvard Law Review (Class of 1991), and taught at the University of Chicago law school for more than a decade. He was never exactly a legal academic; he didn’t write law-review articles or seek a tenure-track job. He taught classes once a week while practicing law and, later, while serving in the Illinois state senate, in Springfield. When it comes to the law, Obama may never have been a full professor, but he remains fully professorial.
I asked him to name the best Supreme Court decision of his tenure. When the Court upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, in 2012? When it struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, a year later? Neither, it turned out.
“In some ways, the decision that was just handed down to not do anything about what states are doing on same-sex marriage may end up being as consequential—from my perspective, a positive sense—as anything that’s been done,” the President said. “Because I think it really signals that although the Court was not quite ready—it didn’t have sufficient votes to follow Loving v. Virginia and go ahead and indicate an equal-protection right across the board—it was a consequential and powerful signal of the changes that have taken place in society and that the law is having to catch up.” In the Loving decision, from 1967, the Court held that states could no longer ban racial intermarriage.
In other words, Obama’s favorite decision was one in which the Court allowed the political process to go forward, one state at a time. Not long ago, the President described his foreign-policy doctrine as one that “avoids errors. You hit singles, you hit doubles.” On same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court had hit a single, or maybe a double, and that was fine with him.
Obama opposed marriage equality until May of 2012. He told me that he now believes the Constitution requires all states to allow same-sex marriage, an argument that his Administration has not yet made before the Supreme Court. “Ultimately, I think the Equal Protection Clause does guarantee same-sex marriage in all fifty states,” he said. “But, as you know, courts have always been strategic. There have been times where the stars were aligned and the Court, like a thunderbolt, issues a ruling like Brown v. Board of Education, but that’s pretty rare. And, given the direction of society, for the Court to have allowed the process to play out the way it has may make the shift less controversial and more lasting.
“The bulk of my nominees, twenty years ago or even ten years ago, would have been considered very much centrists, well within the mainstream of American jurisprudence, not particularly fire-breathing or ideologically driven,” Obama went on. “So the fact that now Democratic appointees and Republican appointees tend to vote differently on issues really has more to do with the shift in the Republican Party and in the nature of Republican-appointed jurists. . . . Democrats haven’t moved from where they were.”
This is how Obama has attempted to define his Presidency—as an exemplar of common sense set against the extremism of the contemporary Republican Party. He has had the same mixed success in making this argument for his judges as he has had on most other issues during the past six years.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in a recent interview published in Elle, said that she would not yet step down from the Court. “If I resign anytime this year,” she argued, Obama “could not successfully appoint anyone I would like to see in the Court.”
I asked Obama if Ginsburg was right about his political weakness. “Well, we’ve got a pretty good track record,” he said. “We’ve got a couple of Supreme Court Justices confirmed who I think are doing outstanding work. My sense is that the Senate necessarily has to treat the Supreme Court nomination process differently than the circuit- or district-court nomination process—higher profile, people are paying attention.” He found that most people pay little attention to lower-court appointments, but when it comes to the Supreme Court “they have the sense ‘All right, this is big,’ ” and the media cover the story intensely, “which means that some of the shenanigans that were taking place in terms of blocking appointments, stalling appointments, I think are more difficult to pull off during a Supreme Court nomination process.
“Having said that, Justice Ginsburg is doing a wonderful job. She is one of my favorite people. Life tenure means she gets to decide, not anybody else, when she chooses to go.” Asked whether he had any advice about her retirement, Obama replied, with a big smile, “None whatsoever.”
Still, what the President calls “shenanigans” have defined his effort to move his circuit-court and district-court nominations through the Senate. For a politician who is still fairly new on the political scene, Obama has had considerable experience with judicial nominations and confirmations—a subject of great controversy in the past decade. As a senator and as President, Obama has recoiled from the particulars of these fights, leaving others to do the dirty work.
Charles Grassley, the veteran Republican senator from Iowa, dates the conflict between Democrats and Republicans in the Senate over judges to 1987. “It all starts with Bork,” Grassley told me. After contentious Senate Judiciary Committee hearings chaired by Joseph Biden, Ronald Reagan’s nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court was voted down, fifty-eight to forty-two. Four years later, Clarence Thomas’s nomination produced an even more rancorous struggle. Ginsburg was confirmed easily, in 1993, as was Stephen Breyer, in 1994.
The tumultuous end to the 2000 election led to a renewed period of partisan struggle in the Senate over the confirmation of judges, which has never really ended. “Right after Bush was elected, all the Senate Democrats went on a retreat, with these liberal law professors, and they came back and changed the ground rules on judicial nominations,” Jeff Sessions, the Republican senator from Alabama, told me. “There is no question that the Democrats were always the aggressors on judicial nominations.” In particular, Senate Democrats rallied against the nomination of Miguel Estrada, a widely admired Republican lawyer, to the D.C. Circuit. Repeated filibusters forced him to withdraw, in 2003. More than a decade later, his defeat still irks Senate Republicans. “Estrada is the poster child for how the Democrats destroyed the process,” Sessions told me.
Most of George W. Bush’s judicial nominations were easily confirmed, but, in 2005, many Democratic senators decided to make a stand. They objected to several of his circuit-court nominees, and refused to allow votes to take place. The D.C. Circuit—often described as the second most important court in the nation—was the focus of the dispute. Democrats fought the nominations of Janice Rogers Brown, a justice of the California Supreme Court, who had once called Social Security and other New Deal programs “the triumph of our own socialist revolution,” and Brett Kavanaugh, a Bush White House aide who had made his name as a principal author of the Starr report.
There were only forty-five Democrats in the Senate, but that was enough to prevent the nominations from coming to the floor for a vote. Under the Senate rules, it took sixty votes to end a filibuster. In response to the Democratic tactics, Bill Frist, the Majority Leader at the time, threatened to invoke what became known as “the nuclear option,” which would have changed the Senate rules to allow nominations to proceed with a simple majority.
Obama had just been elected to the Senate, and, as he later suggested in his book “The Audacity of Hope,” he viewed the battle with disdain. “I remember muffling a laugh the first time I heard the term ‘nuclear option,’ ” he wrote. “It seemed to perfectly capture the loss of perspective that had come to characterize judicial confirmations.” In Obama’s account, he supported the efforts of Democratic colleagues, but with reservations. “I doubted that our use of the filibuster would dispel the image of Democrats always being on the defensive—a perception that we used the courts and lawyers and procedural tricks to avoid having to win over popular opinion,” he wrote. “I wondered if, in our reliance on the courts to vindicate not only our rights but also our values, progressives had lost too much faith in democracy.”
In 2005, a bipartisan group of senators who became known as the Gang of 14 achieved a compromise of sorts. The Republicans agreed to maintain the rules, and the Democrats agreed not to filibuster judicial nominees unless there were “extraordinary circumstances.” The agreement led to the confirmation of almost all of Bush’s nominees, including Brown and Kavanaugh.
That, more or less, was how things stood when Obama became President. Sixty votes were still required to end debate on judicial nominees, but the minority party in the Senate—now the Republicans—was supposed to acquiesce to votes unless the judicial candidate presented “extraordinary circumstances.”
Harry Reid and Barack Obama belong to the same political party but to different worlds. At seventy-four, the Senate Majority Leader is a generation older than the President, and his rough-hewn upbringing, in Searchlight, Nevada, makes him more comfortable with close political combat than with polished phrasemaking. When Reid was a law student, at George Washington University, in the nineteen-sixties, he didn’t spend his spare time on scholarly publications; he moonlighted as a Capitol police officer.
When I visited Reid in his small, elegant office, just off the Senate floor, he spoke wistfully about the first two years of Obama’s Presidency, when Democrats controlled the House of Representatives and enjoyed a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. “This first Congress, we were very successful. We were successful during the regular Congress, we were really successful in the lame duck,” he told me. But in 2010 the Democrats lost the House and several seats in the Senate, and, as a result, Reid told me, “the last two Congresses have been awful.”
With the House in Republican hands, the chances of passing meaningful legislation diminished to nearly zero, and that, in a peculiar way, put more focus on the issue of judicial nominations. Reid could confirm judges without the assent of the House, so he tried to push through as many nominations as he could. In his view, Republicans have violated the pledge made in the Gang of 14 pact of 2005. Instead of filibustering only in “extraordinary circumstances,” Republicans routinely insisted on sixty-vote majorities to end debate on lower-court judicial nominees. “I regret having been one of the premier movers of that deal we made, stopping the nuclear option,” Reid said. “I wanted to make peace here, I wanted the place to work better. Once they got those people on there—Janice Rogers Brown, a guy named Kavanaugh—they were virtually bringing everything to a standstill.”
Who filibustered more—the Democrats under Bush, or the Republicans under Obama—is disputable. Republicans have used filibusters to stop outright only two of Obama’s judicial nominations: Caitlin Halligan, a former aide to Andrew Cuomo, nominated to the D.C. Circuit; and Goodwin Liu, a Berkeley law professor, nominated to the Ninth Circuit. (Governor Jerry Brown later appointed Liu to the California Supreme Court.) But delays by Republican senators have slowed the confirmation process. “In the scheme of things, the long-term trend here, at least since the mid-eighties, is declining confirmation rates and rising length of time it takes to get nominees on the bench,” Sarah Binder, a congressional scholar at the Brookings Institution, told me.
The Senate’s inability to accomplish anything, including the confirmation of judges, began generating disquiet within Reid’s Democratic caucus. Jeff Merkley, of Oregon, and Tom Udall, of New Mexico, began pressing him to invoke his own nuclear option: to change the Senate rules so that only fifty-one votes, not sixty, were necessary to bring judges up for a vote. This precipitated a generational struggle among Democrats. An older group of senators, including Reid, initially opposed such a major change in the Senate’s rules.
The turning point came last November, when Reid brought to the Senate floor three Obama nominees to the D.C. Circuit: Patricia Millett, Nina Pillard, and Robert Wilkins. (A fourth Obama nominee, Sri Srinivasan, had been confirmed earlier in the year.) As the debate began, it became clear that few Republicans had any substantive objections to any of the nominees. Rather, they argued that the D.C. Circuit heard so few cases that there was no need to fill the vacant judgeships. “The D.C. Circuit is a thorn in my saddle,” John Cornyn, of Texas, told me. He said that Democrats simply wanted to gain a majority for cases when the judges sat en banc.
Reid confronted a dilemma, much as Frist had done in 2005. Like all his Democratic colleagues, Reid scoffed at the Republicans’ rationale for denying the votes. The Republicans had tried to fill those same seats on the D.C. Circuit when Bush was President. It hardly counts as court-packing to fill existing judicial vacancies. But Reid had only fifty-three votes. “I’m a traditionalist here,” Reid told me. “I didn’t want to stir up a lot of trouble.” Then, last November, Reid said, his deputy leader, Richard Durbin, of Illinois, remarked that their Republican colleagues were mocking them. “And I knew that was true,” Reid went on. “He said, ‘They’re just saying to each other, “Hey, he wants to change the rules, let him do it.” ’ Because they didn’t think we had the votes.”
Republican intransigence about the D.C. Circuit nominees finally brought around even the most senior Democrats to the idea of filibuster reform. “I was probably the last person to agree to it,” Patrick Leahy, of Vermont, the president pro tempore of the Senate, and its longest-serving member, told me. “I believe the Senate should be independent, not a rubber stamp of any Administration. But this was a wholesale filibuster, completely unprecedented in two hundred years.” On November 21, 2013, the Senate voted, along party lines, to change its rules so that only fifty-one votes were necessary to bring up for a vote a circuit-court or district-court nomination.
Since then, the Senate votes have cemented Obama’s judicial legacy. With simple majorities, the Senate approved the three D.C. Circuit nominees, who joined a court that has frequently served as a stepping stone to the Supreme Court. (John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Thomas, and Ginsburg all served on the D.C. Circuit.) The confirmed appeals-court nominees include several judges who conform to the Obama paradigm, in that they are all relatively youthful and impeccably credentialled, with indistinct ideological profiles: David Barron, a forty-seven-year-old Harvard Law School professor, and a former law clerk to John Paul Stevens, to the First Circuit; Pamela Harris, a fifty-two-year-old Georgetown law professor and another former Stevens clerk, to the Fourth Circuit; and Michelle Friedland, a San Francisco attorney active in the legal fight for gay rights (and a former clerk to Sandra Day O’Connor), who is forty-two, to the Ninth Circuit. According to statistics compiled by Sheldon Goldman, of the University of Massachusetts, the average age of Obama’s first-term appeals-court nominees was 53.5 years, and 49.4 for his second-term nominees. This predilection for younger nominees was a strategy of Robert Bauer, Obama’s White House counsel, and his successor, Kathryn Ruemmler. The judges are likely to serve for decades, and they constitute a farm team for prospective Supreme Court appointments.
The subject of voting rights has largely been thrust upon Obama by a conservative judiciary. “You look at something like the Voting Rights Act, which was uncontroversial from a legal point of view among both Republicans and Democrats ten, fifteen, twenty years ago,” Obama told me. “The ruling that struck down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act would have been considered a fairly radical step, but it’s a step that the Supreme Court took.” He was referring to the Shelby County decision, of 2013, which invalidated the portion of the law that required Justice Department review of electoral changes, mostly in Southern states.
In response, Obama offered a modulated criticism. As he put it, “The fact that the Supreme Court didn’t seem to internalize evidence where state election officials or politicians are pretty unabashed in saying we want to keep certain folks from voting, where you have voter-I.D. laws that clearly make it harder for certain folks to vote, despite the fact that there is no actual evidence of fraud—not just a little evidence of fraud but no evidence—as every mathematical assessment, statistical assessment that’s been done shows, it’s a pretext for wanting to shape the franchise for partisan advantage. The fact that that doesn’t seem to have gone into the Court’s reasoning I think makes it an ultimately flawed decision.”
For a long time, the Court has moved toward outlawing all forms of racial preference, including affirmative action, and Obama seems accepting, even supportive, of the change. In 1978, in Regents of University of California v. Bakke, the Court rejected the use of racial quotas in graduate-school admissions. Chief Justice Roberts has made the fight against the traditional civil-rights agenda a cornerstone of his tenure. He wrote nearly a decade ago, “It is a sordid business, this divvying us up by race.”
Specifically, Obama told me that he believes the Constitution permits the use of racial preferences, though only within carefully defined limits. “It’s legitimate to say that when the government takes race into account it should be subject to some oversight by the courts,” he said. Judicial “oversight” of affirmative action has a controversial history. For many decades, starting in the nineteen-thirties, the Court applied “strict scrutiny” to laws that discriminate against racial minorities, and struck down most of them.
Starting in 1995, though, with Adarand Constructors v. Pena, the Court, in an opinion by Sandra Day O’Connor, began applying “strict scrutiny” to laws that favor racial minorities—viewing affirmative action, in effect, as a form of racial discrimination. O’Connor’s opinion drew a stinging dissent from John Paul Stevens. “There is no moral or constitutional equivalence between a policy that is designed to perpetuate a caste system and one that seeks to eradicate racial subordination,” he wrote. “Invidious discrimination is an engine of oppression, subjugating a disfavored group to enhance or maintain the power of the majority. Remedial race-based preferences reflect the opposite impulse: a desire to foster equality in society.” In its embrace of judicial oversight of affirmative action, Obama’s view appears closer to O’Connor’s than to Stevens’s.
By 2003, O’Connor had softened her stance somewhat, writing the majority opinion in Grutter v. Bollinger, which upheld the use of affirmative action as a means to achieve diversity at the University of Michigan Law School. However, she made clear that she regarded affirmative action as a stopgap. In twenty-five years, she wrote, racial preferences would be neither required nor permissible. Again, Obama seemed to agree with O’Connor, in his grudging support for racial preferences in admissions. He said, “If the University of Michigan or California decides that there is a value in making sure that folks with different experiences in a classroom will enhance the educational experience of the students, and they do it in a careful way,” the practice should be allowed. Still, he added, “most of the time the law’s principal job should be as a shield against discrimination, as opposed to a sword to advance a social agenda, because the law is a blunt instrument in these situations.”
Obama reiterated his belief that the biggest issues concerning race are “rooted in economics and the legacy of slavery,” which have created “vastly different opportunities for African-Americans and whites.” He went on, “I understand, certainly sitting in this office, that probably the single most important thing I could do for poor black kids is to make sure that they’re getting a good K-through-12 education. And, if they’re coming out of high school well prepared, then they’ll be able to compete for university slots and jobs. And that has more to do with budgets and early-childhood education and stuff that needs to be legislated.”
I asked the President whether O’Connor’s time line in the Grutter case, now about halfway expired, was accurate. He replied that Justice O’Connor would “be the first one to acknowledge that twenty-five years was sort of a ballpark figure in her mind.” In any event, he said, progress in racial justice and equality would not come principally from the courts. “And that’s where politics comes in,” he said.
Sen. Ted Cruz has, unsurprisingly, positioned himself right in the center of the Religious Right’s latest cause celebre, a lawsuit in Houston in which attorneys working for the city subpoenaed materials from local pastors, including copies of their sermons.
City officials have distanced themselves from the subpoenas, issued by pro-bono lawyers defending the city in a dispute over petitions for a referendum to repeal the city’s antidiscrimination ordinance, with Mayor Annise Parker calling their scope “overly broad.” But that hasn’t stopped activists and politicians like Cruz from jumping on the case to claim that all their dire warnings about gay rights leading pastors being thrown in jail are coming true. (An extra element of the case is the fact that Parker is openly gay, which groups like the American Family Association have been quick to note.)
When Brody asked Cruz if “we very well soon go through a period where pastors are hauled off to jail for a hate crime because they are speaking for traditional marriage,” Cruz agreed, saying, “I think that is a real risk and you and I have both pointed to that risk in the past.”
In an interview with Newsmax yesterday, former Southern Baptist Convention public policy chief Richard Land reacted to the controversy over subpoenas issued to Houston pastors , warning that the incident is a harbinger of a future shaped by the gay “agenda” in which pastors will be prosecuted under unconstitutional hate speech laws.
“Are you afraid at some point that your sermons are going to have to be dictated?” the Newsmax host asked Land.
“Well, I think that there’s certainly the danger that they’re going to try to make any biblical reference to homosexuality hate speech,” Land responded.
He added: “I think that this is a warning. This is an overreach by a group that, let’s make no mistake about it, their agenda from the beginning has been not only to have their lifestyle tolerated but to have it affirmed and have it paraded before our children as normal and healthy and to marginalize anyone who disagrees with that to the level of being Klansmen. They want to turn us into Klansmen.”
Conservative religious leaders have a long track record of hyping supposed threats to religious liberty in America — specifically, to the religious liberty of conservative Christians. In fact, portraying Christians as a persecuted minority under siege by anti-freedom LGBT activists and secular humanists has become the right’s primary strategy for reversing the advance of equality in America. But even in the long context of crying wolf over threats to religious freedom, Sen. Ted Cruz and his religious right allies have set new records for dishonest hype in their response to this week’s controversy over subpoenas sent to a few religious leaders in Houston.
Some in the media ridicule that threat saying there is no danger of the government coming after pastors. That is the usual response.” But he adds: “The specter of government trying to determine if what pastors preach from the pulpit meets with the policy views or political correctness of the governing authorities, that prospect is real and happening now.
As exciting as it is to hear the alarm bells and read the hyperventilating emails, the truth is far less dramatic. Sorry, Sen. Cruz, but the government is not policing sermons for political correctness. It’s not going to start tossing anti-gay preachers in jail.
So what is the real story?
The immediate cause of the ruckus was a subpoena sent by attorneys for the city of Houston to several pastors who had been active in opposition to the city’s new anti-discrimination law. Conservatives ran a signature-gathering campaign to put the law before the voters, but city attorneys ruled that so many of the signatures were not valid that the effort did not qualify for the ballot.
The Alliance Defense Fund, a Religious Right law firm, stepped in and sued the city over that decision. As part of the discovery process in the lawsuit, attorneys for the city sent subpoenas to five prominent pastors asking for sermons and other communications they had about the ordinance, the signature gathering effort, and the controversy over homosexuality and gender identity.
Here’s the problem. The subpoena was sent to pastors who are not party to the lawsuit, and it asked for some materials that do not seem directly relevant to the determination of whether signatures were collected in accordance with the law. By giving pundits something to scream about, the subpoena was a gift to Religious Right leaders and their political allies, who thrive on promoting the myth of anti-Christian religious persecution in the U.S. And they have run with it.
On Friday the city narrowed the scope of their discovery request somewhat. And it’s entirely possible that a judge will further limit the amount of materials the city can collect in the Religious Right’s lawsuit. That’s how our legal system works.
Even some religious conservatives have denounced the Houston hype. In reality, the entire episode undermines right-wing claims that religious liberty is hanging by a thread in America. Indeed, it demonstrates that Religious liberty is widely respected as a core constitutional principle and a fundamental American value — by people across the religious landscape and our fractured political spectrum. If only Ted Cruz and his allies were as committed to the constitutional and legal equality of Houston’s, and America’s, LGBT citizens.
1943: Marries Esther Lee, “Angel,” whom he met while attending Lee College in Cleveland, Tenn.
1944-1954: Travels the U.S. conducting revival meetings in tents, auditoriums and various churches.
1954: Faith-healing ministry arrives in Akron under the name Temple of Healing Stripes. Services are conducted in the summer in a huge tent in the Ellet area. Meetings are so successful that on Labor Day weekend he moves into the old Liberty Theater on West Market Street in Akron.
1955: Beginning in June, meetings are held in a one-story, wood-frame structure built through offerings and volunteer work on 20 acres of land south of Ellet Memorial Cemetery. Planning begins for a new structure in front of the auditorium at 1055 Canton Road.
1957: New three-story Temple of Healing Stripes is dedicated.
1958: Name is changed to Grace Cathedral. Followers number more than 3,000. [Today church officials decline to reveal the number of members.]
1959: Dedicates $15,000 “Fountain of Blood,” which flows over an 18-foot illuminated cross and then cascades across a 6-foot-wide Bible before spilling into a 32-foot pool.
1970: Angel Angley dies at 49. She was Grace Cathedral’s choir director, organist, bookkeeper and manager.
1972: First television broadcast.
1978: A 65-year-old heart patient dies after participating in an Angley rally in North Carolina. A fire inspector reports that the woman lay on the floor for 15 minutes before an ambulance was called because an usher said, “Leave her alone. She’s in the spirit.”
Angley is sued for $4 million by a Charlotte couple who say he lured their 22-year-old daughter from home and alienated her from them.
1979: A Chicago man traveling to Akron seeking Angley’s help to recover his sight and hearing gets mugged and is hospitalized. The Cathedral refuses to help. After the story appears in the Beacon Journal, a stream of pro and con letters appears, including one from Angley himself who expresses displeasure about the “attacks” on him and his ministry.
1984: Angley buys the State Road office and television complex owned by the Humbard Foundation.
In Munich, Germany, while conducting a crusade, Angley is arrested, charged with practicing medicine without a license and suspicion of fraud. After spending a day in jail, he is released after paying a $14,000 bond. The next day, Munich is struck by the largest hailstorm in its history. Angley claims the storm was sent by God as punishment.
1985: WBNX (Channel 55), a Cuyahoga Falls TV station run by Angley, starts broadcasting in November.
1986: Buys the Cathedral Buffet restaurant, formally part of Rex Humbard’s Cathedral of Tomorrow complex.
1994: Buys Humbard’s Cathedral of Tomorrow and relocates his congregation from Springfield Township to 2700 State Road in Cuyahoga Falls.
1999: After a 15-year-old volunteer is stabbed to death at Angley’s Cathedral Buffet by another volunteer worker, the U.S. Department of Labor investigates. The church agrees to stop using volunteer labor in its for-profit restaurant.
Ernest Angley Ministries begins to operate a website, ernestangley.org, in hopes of reaching people across the globe.
2005: Begins $2 million renovation on the original Grace Cathedral in Springfield Township to house Grace Bible College.
2006: Health officials in Guyana criticize a series of advertisements by Angley that suggest people can be cured of HIV/AIDS and other illnesses by attending his services there.
2011: Angley turns 90 with no thoughts of retirement.
Former members of Ernest Angley’s congregation say people who leave the church are not only shunned, but also often criticized by name during services.
Perhaps no one has been subjected to more venom than former Associate Pastor Brock Miller, who stepped down July 4.
Miller told friends and family that he left because he had been “violated” by Angley for seven years and could no longer take it.
Angley “had him undress and touched him all over,” said a family member who did not want to be identified because many members of the large family are still devout followers. “I don’t believe he touched him on his part, but it doesn’t matter. That doesn’t belong in the church. It doesn’t belong anywhere, but it [certainly] doesn’t belong in the church.”
When asked whether Angley explained the reason for the touching, the person replied, “[Miller] was receiving ‘a special anointing.’ ”
Miller’s departure sparked so much conversation that church leaders addressed the situation during a Sunday service on July 13. A recording of the service was shared with the Beacon Journal.
The Rev. Chris Machamer, an associate pastor, did most of the talking. He declared, among other things, that Miller is “a proven liar.”
He read an email allegedly written by the former pastor at 2:59 a.m. to an unnamed, married “young lady,” thanking her for sharing her Percocet with him.
Machamer claimed Miller is a drug addict whose motivation for the “lies” was obvious: “Brock simply wanted to take control of the church after Rev. Angley dies,” he told the gathering.
Angley himself weighed in next, calling Miller’s allegations “dirty lies [from] someone who committed adultery.”
The 93-year-old preacher added, “Brock has been … getting drunk. He was like a zombie. I gave him four hours [in a meeting], but it didn’t do any good. There was not enough to work with.”
Usher Mike Kish joined the parade, telling the congregation, “You’re not fighting flesh and blood. You’re fighting the devil himself, straight from the pits of hell.”
Kish said Miller’s goal was to persuade both Machamer and Angley to step down so Miller could take over.
Added Kish: “Brock Miller’s claims to being homosexually molested — they sound like some kind of horror-flick gay porno thing. The stories are just unbelievable.”
But more than a dozen former members of Grace Cathedral believe those stories. They say the July 13 assault on Brock Miller’s character was an unjustified smear campaign against someone who simply could no longer submit to Angley’s perversion.
‘Nothing to gain’
Miller, 29, did not initiate this series of stories. In fact, he declined repeated requests for interviews. A family member says he is “pretty devastated right now, and humiliated and embarrassed.”
The family member asked to emphasize that Miller did not accuse Angley of being a “homosexual,” but rather of “violating” him.
Miller grew up idolizing Angley. His mother was a close friend and associate of Angley’s who worked at the Cuyahoga Falls church for 30 years. Brock Miller had absolutely no incentive to fabricate the story, the relative says; in fact, he had plenty of incentive not to.
Speaking about Miller and his wife of 10 years, Candace, the family member said: “They had nothing to gain. They had to move out of their house, which was owned by the church. They were home-schooled and have no further education. They have no jobs. They had to move in with another family member. They have nothing to gain by coming forward with this.”
Angley said during an interview in his office that the problem began when he went on an extended overseas mission trip and left Miller in charge of the regular church services, which were well-received.
“The people — you know how people are — [were] bragging on him. And I was dictating the messages to him. They didn’t know it. And I think he got the big head. … He stopped praying and seeking God and lost his anointing.”
A reporter, noting that Miller was called “a liar, a drug addict, an alcoholic and an adulterer” during the service, asked, “Wouldn’t it have been better just to say, ‘He had personal problems and we’re praying he will be able to straighten himself out?’ ”
“We had to do it,” Angley responded. “They were really fighting. … It was awful stuff. They wanted money. We had to do it.”
Angley produced a short, typed statement signed by Sarah Coger, a church employee, that says one of Miller’s close family members told her she planned to demand $100,000 in hush money.
The letter also said Coger was told that Miller wasn’t claiming Angley touched his genitals.
“Now we have the lowdown that clears me of any touching of his privates,” Angley said.
When asked whether he regularly told Miller to undress and touched him all over, calling it a “special anointing,” Angley replied, “Oh, just tell anything. Just tell anything. They are the biggest liars.”
Some of the former church members who talked with the Beacon Journal said a similar wave of defections took place in the mid-1990s. They said about 200 members departed after word circulated that an assistant pastor had resigned because he found out about sex acts between Angley and a parishioner.
(Church officials declined to provide the current size of the congregation.)
Some male ex-churchgoers say they weren’t surprised by Miller’s allegations, because Angley took an inordinate amount of interest in their own genitalia.
As was reported in the first installment of this series, Angley routinely brings men into his office to examine them before and after vasectomies, which he allegedly urges all of his male churchgoers to undergo.
“You’re not a medical doctor,” a reporter said during the interview. “Why would you examine men’s genitals before and after vasectomies?”
“The swelling,” Angley responded. “Some of them would swell awful. I didn’t touch them, I just prayed for them. And then, I’d get success for most of them. And if they didn’t go down, I would insist they go to the doctor. And guys don’t like to go to doctors, I’ll tell you. …
“One of them, one of his testicles fell out. And he didn’t know what to do.”
Reporter: “Actually ‘fell out’? Wouldn’t he be screaming in agony and calling 9-1-1?”
Angley: “Well, that wasn’t for me to do. You see, I wanted him to get to the doctor.”
Reporter: “I can’t believe he could even function.”
Angley: “He did. He was frightened enough to go. And the doctor appreciates me sending — looking after them.”
According to former church members, Angley’s interest in male body parts was not limited to pre- and post-op inspections.
Kenny Montgomery, 43, who owns a mobile dog-grooming business in Akron, said a counseling session with Angley took a shocking turn.
“My wife and I were having problems because we were working all week and in church all weekend,” he said. “We started to go our separate ways and weren’t having sex anymore.
“I [talked] to Ernest about that, because you’re not allowed to see an outside counselor, because an outside counselor has a ‘Doctorate of Devils,’ as he calls it.
“He asked me, ‘Do you do oral sex on her?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, but I don’t know what that has to do with it.’ And then he puts his hands over his mouth and starts stroking his chin and licking his lips. This is creepy.
“And he goes, ‘So, are you large?’ And I go, ‘What do you mean?’ And he says, ‘Your penis — is it really large?’ And I got kind of pissed. I go, ‘You know, I never sat around and compared it with another man’s.’
“He backed right off when I said that. He says, ‘Well, you just need to pray to God and seek God more and all this will be better’ — and pretty much shoved me out of his office.”
Another former member of the congregation, a 30-year-old male who did not want his identity revealed because his brother is still highly involved in the church, said Angley had a similar conversation with him.
“I was in his office 9, 10 months ago, discussing an issue with my girlfriend,” he said. “He was asking me, in a nutshell, why I was so frisky all the time. He said, ‘Is it because you have a big penis?’ ”
Former churchgoer Becky Roadman, who left last year after 13 years of membership, said, “Angley had my husband in his office and sat right next to him on the couch asking him details about his penis.”
Said Angley: “It’s all kinds of tales. But if I traced down every lie, I wouldn’t get nothing else done. Jesus didn’t, and I try to be just as much like him as I can.”
Greg Mulkey of Barberton, whose parents first took him to Grace Cathedral when he was 1½, was a star at the church during his late teens and early 20s. He was a singer in the Hallelujahs, a group featured on Angley’s TV broadcasts, and was a prominent member of the church choir.
“Because of my position in the spotlight,” he said, “I had a lot of people confide in me.” Among them: his lifelong friend Chris Machamer, the current associate pastor.
“They were getting ready to do a play,” Mulkey recalled. “Chris was playing the part of Jesus, hanging on the cross or whatever, and he had to wear a loincloth. He [told] me, ‘Ernest had me come in his office and he wanted to make sure that the loincloth looked just right and everything.’ And I said, ‘Oh, OK. Did it look right?’ He said, ‘Yeah. But you know what? He had me pull it down.’
“I said, ‘What?’ He said, ‘Yeah, he wanted to make sure I was shaved and everything so no hair would show.
“And I go, ‘Hmmmm.’ I just filed that one back because that one didn’t sound right.”
When asked about Mulkey’s report, Machamer said, “No, that never happened. We had plays. I did play the part of Jesus.”
When asked why someone would fabricate a story like that, Machamer said: “That’s a good question. That’s a good question.”
On a pleasant Wednesday afternoon, Ernest Angley, dressed in an immaculate white suit with a purple shirt, stylish striped tie and neat pocket square, welcomes a visitor into his office on the second floor of the big circular Cuyahoga Falls building known as Grace Cathedral.
The structure sits in the shadow of one of Northeast Ohio’s most prominent landmarks, the 494-foot tower erected by another nationally known televangelist, the late Rex Humbard.
Angley, 93, appears to move effortlessly as he takes a seat at a conference table.
Just over his shoulder is custom artwork of the enormous jetliner he bought nearly 10 years ago. It’s a Boeing 747-SP, so large that it literally won’t fit inside any hangar at its home field, Akron-Canton Airport.
Angley is proud of his bird, which he uses a few times each year for distant mission trips. He says the Lord promised it to him long ago, and he is doing the Lord’s work with it, evangelizing across the globe.
But some folks, both inside and outside of his church, question why a man who relies mainly on donations from individuals in his congregation and in the TV audience would own a gigantic, customized airplane that cost a fortune to purchase and costs a smaller fortune to operate.
Personnel at the airport who did not want to be identified because they were not authorized to talk about a private plane said Angley’s jet holds about 48,000 gallons of fuel. Current price of Grade-A jet fuel: $5 per gallon. One fill-up: $240,000.
Although the plane has remarkable range — a whopping 6,500 nautical miles — Angley’s trips frequently require multiple fuel stops in each direction. The country where he spent two weeks earlier this year, South Africa, is 8,400 miles from Akron.
Add in landing fees, maintenance and other related costs and, if Angley takes three trips a year averaging 16,000 miles round trip, the annual operating cost is about $2.16 million.
Angley won’t reveal the original price of the plane — “We don’t tell,” he said with a smile. But a former longtime employee of his, Steve Nelson, estimated the figure at about $26 million.
Nelson, a licensed pilot and flight instructor who now lives in South Carolina, worked as the chief engineer for Angley’s television station, WBNX, for 16 years. He said he left after a friend told him he had been molested by Angley. (The friend declined to talk. Angley denies the allegation.)
Angley himself said the previous owner, the ruler of the United Arab Emirates, spent “20-some million” customizing the inside of the plane, which had previously been owned by two commercial airlines, TransWorld and American.
The 747 is technically owned by a company called Crestwind Aviation in Aruba. But its former website was registered to the church’s address. When asked about it, Angley said, “That’s us.”
When asked why the plane is registered in Aruba, rather than the U.S., Angley said he was just following orders from God.
He said a local attorney told him he would never get clearance to fly the plane, but “the Lord spoke to me and told me to go to Washington and [told me which lawyer] to get and he said, ‘Why, there’s no reason why that plane won’t fly.’ And so we registered it at the right place. The Lord told me where to register it, and we registered it where God said.
“God directs me. I know it’s hard for people to believe. But he tells me things ahead of time. …
“I don’t waste God’s money like most churches. We make the money count. That’s the reason people give so good.”
Angley said his mission — saving souls — requires a large war chest.
His financial books are closed. Because Grace Cathedral is a church, the IRS doesn’t even require it to file Form 990 tax returns, as is demanded of most nonprofits. Those returns would show revenue, expenses and the salaries of the highest-paid employees.
Angley said he has “been offered 10 times more than the millions we paid for [the plane].
“Some preachers are about money. They would have sold it. But I’m not a money preacher. I want money, but only to win souls. That’s what I use it for.
“Everything belongs to the foundation and not to me.”
You certainly can’t accuse Angley of living in a mansion. He has occupied the same house for more than half a century. Although it is set on four acres amid attractive lakes, the house itself is a relatively modest 2,140-square-foot ranch built in 1951. It is just off Canton Road in Springfield Township, near his original Akron location, which today is used mainly for Saturday youth services, funerals and weddings.
“All the resources go toward spreading the gospel,” said Associate Pastor Chris Machamer.
“I have no bank account,” said Angley.
“He doesn’t live high,” added Machamer. “I don’t live high. Nobody around here lives high.”
Reporter: “Well, somebody around here was living high for a while. A Cuyahoga Falls cop told me that years ago he spotted a Porsche 911 parked in a fire lane behind the church. He ran the plate and the registration came back to Ray Spangler and Grace Cathedral. With so many of your employees making minimum wage, why would your business manager be driving a Porsche 911?”
Machamer’s response: The car was “a number of years used” and “he got a great deal on it.” But Machamer also acknowledged that employees started grumbling. He said Spangler sold the car “because people didn’t understand.”
Added Angley, “He got that over with and now he just drives a regular car. He really takes care of his cars. He’ll have them several years and they’ll look like new. And that’s the truth.”
Asked whether it is typical for employees to register a car in the church’s name, thereby avoiding sales tax, Angley said, “Well, he has so much in the name [of the church], if something would happen to him and his wife … he lets his son know that it’s in my hands and he better do right or he’s not gonna get [an inheritance].”
While employees may grumble, donors keep donating, sometimes in very big ways. Today, at least one big donor regrets it.
An Akron man in his early 40s, who doesn’t want to be identified because his wife is in a sensitive position at work, says he gave the church $80,000 over a five-year period. His business was doing well and he decided to tithe (donate 10 percent of his income). But now he says he was “guilted into giving.”
“It was brainwashing,” he said. “I was manipulated.”
The man said Angley’s never-ending pleas for funds, combined with the pastor’s warning about the impending end of the world, fooled him.
“These ‘love offerings’ would be an hour and a half long!” he said. “And he kept talking about the Rapture — ‘You don’t want to be left behind!’ He used it to his financial advantage.”
A former longtime member and usher, Kenny Montgomery, related a story that “really bothered me” about another big donor.
After Angley had concluded an extended plea for offerings, Montgomery said, “Everyone had gone away, and there was this little old lady standing there. No one was paying any attention.
“Ernest walks up and says, ‘Can I help you?’ And she pulls out a credit card and says, ‘God told me to give you $10,000.’
“I thought he’d say, ‘If you don’t have the money, don’t give it.’ But he said, ‘We do take credit cards. If you go right down there, we’ll help you with that.’
“I was appalled over that. I just couldn’t believe it.”
Angelia Oborne lived in Alabama until the age of 14, when her family became so enthralled after attending an Ernest Angley crusade that her father sold his business, sold their house and wound up donating about $1 million to Angley, she said.
They moved to Akron, where Angley personally chose the house where they would live.
Oborne, who worked at the Cathedral Buffet for 20 years, has been so traumatized by her experiences at the church that she is receiving counseling three days a week for what her doctor diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder. She attributes the PTSD to Angley cleaving a chasm between her and her mother, as well as relentless verbal abuse she was subjected to on the job.
Another disgruntled former member, Shane McCabe, said the people in Angley’s church are “being abused physically, spiritually, financially — just about every way.”
When Angley was asked whether this whole parade of people is lying, he responded:
“Most of them are, they really are. Before God they are. And it’s a sight in this world. People, they’ll just lie and lie and lie. Lying spirits take them over.”
Televangelist Ernest Angley has torn apart families by advising his parishioners to turn their backs on those who have departed, according to a number of former members.
Becky Roadman, who quit the Cuyahoga Falls church last year after 13 years as a member, said Angley routinely blasts people who have soured on his church.
“When they leave there, they shun you and say you’re devil-possessed,” Roadman says. “[Members] have shunned even their own wives, husbands and children.
“What kind of pastor does that?”
Angelia Oborne, who left not long ago after 20 years, said of Angley, “He divides and conquers families.”
Mimi Camp of Munroe Falls said her desire to leave the church, pitted against her husband’s desire to stay, led directly to their divorce.
Kenny Montgomery, who said he divorced his first wife because he wanted to leave the church and she didn’t, said his parents wanted nothing to do with his second marriage.
“I invited my mom and dad to the wedding and they refused to come because it wasn’t ‘of God’ and it wasn’t ordained by Ernest, and they couldn’t be a part of it,” he said.
“I got mad and severed communication with them for seven years.”
Pam Cable also blames Angley for her divorce.
Cable attended the church for nearly three decades before she ran out of patience with Angley’s psychological dominance and told her husband she wanted to quit the church. He didn’t. End of marriage.
“[Angley] ruled my life, day in and day out,” said the 60-year-old Akron resident. “He took my husband from me. He took my youth from me. To have any kind of a pastor rule over you like that is wrong. It’s just wrong.
“God is the creator of the family, not the destroyer of the family. I’ve seen too many families destroyed sitting in that man’s ministry.”
Wed as a teen to another young member of the congregation, Cable said Angley’s lust for complete control led directly to her divorce after 17 years of marriage.
She said the light bulb went on during a mission trip she took with her husband to Hawaii. The trip coincided with their 10th wedding anniversary. But she said, she was not allowed to stay in the same hotel as her husband.
“I began to question why and was told I was demon-possessed and I shouldn’t be asking questions, that I should do as I’m told.
“It took me six years after that to finally just say, ‘I’ve had enough. I just can’t do this anymore.’
“Basically, I had ahold of one arm of my husband and Ernest had ahold of the other, and Ernest won.
“It’s one thing to fight against alcoholism or drug addiction or even another woman. But I was fighting against the concept of God. And there’s no winning in that situation.”
Cable is among those who say Angley actively tries to put distance between his flock and those who depart. “What he does to people when they leave his church, it’s horrendous. [He] stands up there and slings this mud about people, and names them from the platform.”
She said that after she left he told the entire congregation she was “a dark angel.”
During an interview in his office last month, Angley was asked why he is so adamant that people who stay behind not have any dealings with the people who left.
“Well,” he replied, “they don’t need to hear all that stuff [negativity about the church]. I’ve got to protect them. I’m their little shepherd under the Lord.”
Among the members whose departures caused deep family divisions is Kim McCabe, who now lives in Florida with her husband, Shane, whom she met and married at Grace Cathedral.
When she was inappropriately touched and propositioned by a member of the church, she told her mother, who then told Angley. After the meeting, “he pulled my whole family into his office and told them I was telling lies about the church and they should refrain from talking to me any longer. Each family member was pulled into a group meeting and then into an individual meeting.”
McCabe said Angley convinced her family that “I was dangerous. My sister hasn’t spoken to me in, like, five years. My mom still does, but it’s very strained.”
One of the primary reasons the McCabes left was because they were appalled by some of the things their young, adopted children were being told at Sunday school.
One day, Kim McCabe recalled, “the teacher said, ‘If you’re 7 or older, raise your hand!’ My son had just turned 7 that weekend and was waving his hand. So I stuck around to listen, and she went on to tell them that she did not see them going down to the altar and praying, and, ‘If you don’t do that, you’re going to miss the Rapture. You’re going to be left, and what if you wake up one day and your parents are gone and you’re still here?
“ ‘How will you take care of yourself? How are you going to feed yourself? You are going to starve to death — blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.’ At 7 years old!”
In a separate interview, her husband remembered the same scene — “My kid is freaking out. He can’t even tie his shoes.” — and said the scare tactics started even earlier with a younger child.
“My 3-year-old was coming home asking me, ‘Why is God going to destroy the world?’ ”
Although the McCabes left, Kim’s mother has remained an adamant believer in Angley, which has caused a major rift, Kim says.
Afraid to leave
Tale after tale has emerged of families torn apart by disagreements over Angley. The stories are so commonplace, said Pam Cable, that they prevent some unhappy members from leaving.
“I think there are a lot of people within that church [who] would like to leave but can’t because their families are tied into it and, if they leave that church, he will separate them from their families.
“And that’s been proven over and over and over again. You are definitely shunned if you leave that church.”
A member of one large family said differing opinions about the circumstances of the departure of an associate pastor have “destroyed our family.”
“I still have family members there, and they refuse to have anything to do with us.”
A woman who doesn’t want to be identified because she teaches in a local public school said her father was in Angley’s inner circle for 17 years, and she frequently witnessed the impact Angley’s shunning can have on a teenager.
When someone leaves, she said, those who are left behind “are told, ‘You don’t even look at them.’ And all your friends — you have closer relationships with them than you do your family — and all of a sudden they do not talk to you. They see you in a parking lot and they turn the other way.
“They’re told not to even look at you because if they look at you, the demons that are in you, because you left, can jump onto them. And they believe it!”
A woman who now lives in Iowa (she does not want to be identified because she fears for her safety) said that when she went to Angley to tell him her stepdad was severely beating her mother, she was told her mother was at fault.
“He said there was a huge demon hovering over my mom and penetrated its claws into her brain,” said the 29-year-old. “So I grew up in fear of my mom for a long time.
“I was told that if I went near my mom, the demon would jump off her and attach to me.”
Camp, the woman who said Angley caused her divorce, reported that she, too, was warned about demons, as well as leeches.
“He told you if you had any thoughts about questioning his teachings, there were leeches in your mind and spirits that were changing your thought pattern.
“He told us not to watch TV because people on the news are devil-possessed and that the demons in them would come through the TV and possess our soul.”
Some say those who stay behind do so mainly because they have been brainwashed into believing Angley is on par with God.
A woman who was raised in the church but left just before her 22nd birthday said, “Father, Son, Holy Spirit and Ernest Angley. They don’t worship a trinity. It’s a quartet. And nobody questions anything.”
Ernest Angley says the people who spend long hours toiling at his church, his restaurant and his television station are doing the work of the Lord.
Some people who have done that work say it more closely resembles slave labor.
Shane McCabe, 34, who left Grace Cathedral in 2010 after 21 years as a devout member, said he learned early on that the church had no intention of following the rules of the employment road.
“The first day I worked at the station [WBNX], they told me to make sure you clock out on time,” he said. “They said if you don’t clock out on time you can get into serious trouble. …
“I was required to work about 50 hours a week, but my card said I was doing 40.”
Greg Mulkey, 41, was a prominent member of the church two decades ago. After singing with the Akron Symphony and attending the University of Akron on an opera scholarship, he was invited by Angley to star in the Hallelujahs, a group featured on Angley’s TV broadcasts, as well as sing in the choir and give voice lessons to his choir colleagues.
In addition to the music, he eventually worked as a banquet manager in Angley’s restaurant and at the TV station — the equivalent of three full-time jobs, he says.
“I probably worked 16 hours a day Monday through Sunday. There wasn’t really a day off.”
For that he was paid minimum wage — without overtime.
“Pay checks alternated each week, one pay from the buffet — 40 hours at $4.25 per hour — then the next week one pay from the church — 40 hours at $4.25 per hour. I was never issued any pay for any work done at WBNX.”
Mulkey said he would never have put up with the situation had he not been caught in the psychological clutches of Ernest Angley.
“I was still mentally and intellectually a child at 21, because of growing up there with a warped sense of reality. They were able to take advantage of me that way.”
A window into Angley’s labor practices opened in early 1999 after a volunteer worker at the Cathedral Buffet was stabbed to death by another volunteer worker.
Because the use of volunteers at a for-profit restaurant is prohibited, the U.S. Labor Department investigated. The church agreed that spring to stop the practice.
But the practice has resumed.
Angelia Oborne, 35, has deep, firsthand knowledge of the finances at the buffet, where she was employed for 20 years. She started by busing tables at the restaurant and worked her way up to management.
“There were things that were done that I know were not legal,” she said.
Among them: “Before we were audited, I was instructed to destroy all the timecards and payroll reports for … other years before that.”
Oborne also echoed what others have said about time-clock fudging.
“They told every person [at WBNX] that they were required to clock out at 5 p.m. whether their work was done or not. And if their work was not done, they were to go back to their desk.”
She said she wasn’t the only one who was told what to do before the audit.
“We were actually coached to answer questions in a way that wasn’t [technically] lying. I mean, there was an actual meeting to coach us.”
After the audit, Angley began to comply with the wage-and-hour laws, Oborne said. But that didn’t last.
“Right before I left [about a year and a half ago], Ernest Angley decided it was OK for him to start using volunteers again at the buffet. So there are people working there that are not getting paid again — same as it was before we were audited by Wage and Hourly.”
When asked about that allegation, Angley responded:
“Yes, we have used some, because even the lady that came out for the [Labor Department], she said, ‘I don’t know why they’re doing this to you, because downtown … they have things and they don’t pay for everything.’ But she said she had to do it.
“And we couldn’t help that. The girl was killed, that was an awful thing. I had a time getting over that. She was a precious girl.”
(The victim, 15-year-old Cassandra Blondheim, was killed by Shane Partin, then 27, who remains behind bars. He was obsessed with her and wanted to date her, but she didn’t want anything to do with him.)
Reporter: “So, at this point, you are using volunteers at the Cathedral Buffet?”
“Yeah, there’s some,” Angley responded. “It’s good. People like to work for the Lord. See, we make nothing off it, only for missions.”
Angley also has raised hackles by pouring resources into a Bible college that failed.
A longtime churchgoer who quit a few months ago said he is “furious” about Angley constructing a dormitory for a Bible college on the site of his original church, on Canton Road in Springfield Township. (The old chapel is now used mainly for Saturday youth services, funerals and weddings.)
The man, who doesn’t want to be identified because many family members still attend the church, said he donated his time and money for 20 years to help build the dorm, which supposedly would house foreign youth who would hop on Angley’s 747 during mission trips and return to the U.S. to train as missionaries.
“They built this dormitory, probably spent $2 million on it — all donations from the people — and it just sits there, dormant,” the man said. “The Bible college is nonexistent.
“The whole congregation accepts that now God is telling him it’s not supposed to be. But that’s bogus.”
During an interview in his office, Angley admitted the Bible college was a miscalculation. He said he didn’t anticipate the red tape involved.
“We found out when we went into it that it was such a slow thing that it wasn’t going to pay,” he said. To compensate, he said, he created an online Bible college that “is in many nations now.”
Angley also said the dorm is being used to host people who attend camp meetings.
None of this may matter, however, if you buy into Angley’s view of the near future.
When asked what will happen to his church after he dies, he said, “Well, that’s in the hands of the Lord. I’m planning on the Rapture.
“All the end-times signs are pointing that this is the time. It’s in the Bible. … So many of the signs are being fulfilled. And I don’t feel like we have long to work.”
How far off do you think it is?
“I’m not one to set dates, but I just know the Lord said we’d know the season, and this is the season. He said, ‘When you see these things, I’ll be at the door.’ And when someone’s at your door, it doesn’t take long for ’em to step over the threshold.
An altercation Sunday between fans leaving the St. Louis Rams game and Ferguson protesters demonstrating outside the stadium led to the arrests of two protesters.
An altercation Sunday between fans leaving the St. Louis Rams game and Ferguson protesters demonstrating outside the stadium led to the arrests of two protesters. Reports from the scene state that while fans were arguing with protesters, one man spit at protesters, causing fans from the game to start mixing it up with protesters. At that point, one of the protesters swung a pole with an upside-down American flag at an individual. Shortly afterwards, the same man tried to grab the flag and run away with it, which led to protesters grabbing it back from him. Eventually, two women were arrested for assault, both being protesters.
One image that will likely get a lot of attention is a photo taken by David Carson, a photographer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. It shows the man that tried to run away with the flag being struck by the flagpole. Many people were tweeting out either just the photo or the Post articlewith the accompanying image.
A Rams fan reportedly spit on a Ferguson protester after the team’s win today, and it was on after that. http://t.co/qhbkjpEYEV
Be prepared for white conservatives to use the image as a meme to push the notion that the mostly black protesters who are seeking justice for Michael Brown are violent thugs. Also, the imagery of the flag is always a rallying cry for right-wingers, and they will support the fan who tried to run off with it. People that were directly involved and on the scene point out that fans from the game confronted the protesters and caused the situation to grow more heated. Alcohol seemed to be a key factor in the Rams fans behavior.
Protest at Rams game soured towards the end when drunken white fan attacked our group. Guess who got arrested? 2 black protesters. #Ferguson — Sean Jordan (@seanjjordan) October 19, 2014
In the end, the mainstream media will likely continue the narrative that protesters resorted to violence in their demonstrations while simultaneously being overly confrontational with ‘normal’ people who were just minding their own business. Conveniently, the behavior from those confronting the protesters will be downplayed or not even mentioned. The focus will be squarely on the largely black protesters and their actions. Ah, the benefits of white privilege.
Wilson - the cop who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, was praised for ‘extraordinary effort in the line of duty’ for the arrest of 28-year-old Christopher Brooks in February last year.
An eyewitness to the drugs bust that earned Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson a commendation for bravery has described his behavior that day as ‘angry, brutal and violent’.
Wilson was praised for ‘extraordinary effort in the line of duty’ for the arrest of 28-year-old Christopher Brooks in February last year.
The case was thrust into the spotlight this week as Wilson, 28, who has gone into hiding following his fatal shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown, 18, failed to appear at a court hearing on Monday.
It is the first of up to ten cases stemming from arrests made by Wilson that could crumble in the wake of Brown’s shooting on August 9, an incident that saw Ferguson erupt with nights of protest and violence.
Brooks’s attorney Nick Zotos has asked for the case to be dismissed and claimed that Brooks was ‘roughed up’ by Wilson.
Now Erica Mayes, 22, has given the first eyewitness account of that February day when she came face to face with the Ferguson cop at the center of the controversial shooting that has drawn international scrutiny.
Scroll down for video
Witness: Erica Mayes, 22, who works in a bank in Florissant, Missouri, witnessed the arrest of her cousin Christopher Brooks on February 28, 2013. She called Darren Wilson’s behavior shocking
Wilson is pictured getting a commendation for his ‘extraordinary effort in the line of duty’ that day
In question: The Brooks case is one of 10 that now face crumbling because of the Michael Brown shooting. Wilson did not turn up to testify in the Brooks case because he is still in hiding
Video shows officer Darren Wilson receiving a commendation
Brooks is hardly a blameless figure in his own arrest – he subsequently admitted to possession with intent to supply marijuana and pills believed to be Xanax - and Erica is hardly an impartial witness.
But her version of events calls into question the level of force regarded, perhaps routinely, as justified when neither the officer nor Erica’s account record any imminent physical threat to his safety.
Her claims will also cast doubt on whether Wilson’s actions could be considered either ‘exceptional’.
Speaking to MailOnline, Erica, Brooks’ cousin and a banker working in Florissant recalled: ‘I recognized him the minute they released the picture of the one who shot Michael Brown.
'I knew it instantly. On the day he arrested Chris, I wrote down Wilson's name on a piece of paper and said, “Well I'm sure I won't ever forget you.” That's exactly what I said to him.'
The reason, Erica said, for her certainty was that she had been so profoundly shocked by what she viewed as Wilson’s unnecessary anger, his ‘brutality’ in words and actions. She said the arrest ‘was in no way routine.’
Erica is sitting in the kitchen of the Florissant home, which she shares with her grandmother, Georgia, 73. Brooks’s arrest took place just a dozen or so feet away in the front yard of this neatly kept corner lot.
On the night of February 28, 2013, she was watching TV in the basement with Brooks and her uncle. She recalled: ‘Christopher went outside because his friend Erik had arrived and I would say 10 to 15 minutes later my uncle went outside to smoke.
'And he just screamed, “Erica come upstairs now!” My uncle never screams so I just ran up without my shoes on.'
From the kitchen door there is a direct line of vision to the foot of the yard and the sidewalk. What Erica saw, she said, shocked and terrified her.
'I saw Chris hit the ground. It was like Darren Wilson was grabbing his shirt and pulling him down, forcibly. We have rocks out there and he threw Chris onto the rocks.
I saw Chris hit the ground. It was like Darren Wilson was grabbing his shirt and pulling him down, forcibly. We have rocks out there and he threw Chris onto the rocks.’He hit the ground hard. He wasn’t getting back up
- Erica Mayes
'He hit the ground hard. He wasn't getting back up.'
Among the six felonies that Brooks was facing – ultimately only one was brought. Resisting Arrest, Failure to Comply and Assault Third on Law Enforcement were dropped.
But Erica is adamant. ‘He wasn’t resisting. He wasn’t struggling,’ she said. ‘I think Darren wanted Chris’s arms to come closer [behind his back] and because of Chris’s size he couldn’t physically do it.
'He was shouting, “Man you're hurting me.”'
Brooks, like Michael Brown weighs around 300lbs.
Erica said: ‘The first words out of my mouth were, “What’s going on?” My uncle had been standing outside like 30 or 45 seconds longer than me I guess. Darren Wilson shouted, “Go back in the f***ing house. You need to mind your own business.”’
To Erica, who lives at the property, what was happening before her eyes to her cousin was her business.
She said: ‘I remember him cursing at us a lot. That stood out to me because I had never been talked to before like that.’
According to Officer Wilson’s account, seen by MailOnline, he was responding to a call reporting a suspicious vehicle ‘in which the occupants were possibly making a drug transaction.’
Thrown to the ground: Christopher Brooks leaving St Louis County courthouse on Monday. Brooks admitted possession of marijuana with intent to supply. But Erica says his treatment by Wilson was too violent
Questions: Erica raises doubts about Wilson’s version of events in the arrest of Brooks (left in his mugshot). Meanwhile, Wilson faces a grand jury investigation into his shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown (right)
He reported that when he arrived on the scene both suspects – Brooks and his friend Erik Johnson, 28 – were getting out of the car and that there was an ‘overwhelming odor’ of marijuana.
In his incident report, Wilson described frisking both and finding nothing. He then cuffed Brooks’s left wrist to Johnson’s right and asked both to sit on the ground, which they did. It was only when he asked for Brooks’s car key, he stated, that Brooks began to resist.
Wilson claimed: ‘I approached Brooks and attempted to retrieve the keys to his vehicle, at which time Brooks slapped my hand away with his right hand. Brooks then immediately began yelling for his cousin to exit the residence and come get his keys.
'I then reached to grab Brooks's right wrist with my left hand, however, Brooks was able to reach into his hoodie pocket and remove the keys.
'As I gained control of Brooks' right arm… Brooks attempted to throw the keys to his cousin, however I was able to remove the keys prior to Brooks being able to do so.'
Wilson went onto claim that he ordered Brooks to ‘lay flat on the ground on his stomach’, and that on his refusal to do so ‘pushed/pulled him forward onto his stomach.’
Nowhere does he explain how any of this was possible with Brooks still handcuffed to his friend Johnson, and nowhere does he record separating the two men having cuffed them together.
His shirt was ripped and he had rocks all on him. Personally I felt very shocked. It happened so violently
Instead he stated that before requesting assistance and that assistance arriving he ‘was forced to physically place Brooks’s right arm behind his back after he refused all commands to do so.’
But according to Erica her cousin wasn’t refusing – he simply wasn’t physically able to bring his arms together because of his size’.
She said: ‘His shirt was ripped and he had rocks all on him. Personally I felt very shocked. It happened so violently’.
And while Wilson recorded that he put the keys to Brooks’s vehicle in his pocket before Brooks and Johnson were placed in separate police cars, Erica recalled the keys tumbling to the ground in the scuffle.
She said: ‘After Chris had got placed in the car that’s when he [Wilson] came back over to us. I saw him pick the keys off the ground and go to Christopher’s car and I was like, “Is that even legal?”
'He just said, “Shut-up, we're taking the frickin' car. You don't know what you're talking about. He was just generally angry.'
One intriguing anomaly between Wilson’s account and Erica’s is the presence of a male cousin.
In his incident report Wilson wrote: ‘It should be noted that Brooks was consistently yelling for his cousin, who was out on the front porch to help him and asking him to “get me”. I ordered Brooks’ cousin to stay back and to enter his residence.’
Elsewhere he wrote: ‘After securing Brooks. I returned to my feet and began to approach the cousin as he was still yelling, which was creating a hostile environment and verbally threatening my well being, however he quickly fled into his residence once more to avoid contact.’
Protests: Nearly two months after Michael Brown’s shooting protesters still take to the streets of Ferguson
Memorial: A woman kneels at the spot where Brown was killed by Wilson in broad daylight on August 9
Many of the actions attributed by Wilson to this male cousin are strikingly similar to the part Erica described as her own in the scene.
In his report Wilson stated that this male cousin ‘has never been identified’. His presence as reported by Wilson was integral to any perceived threat he was under and therefore any force he was justified in using.
There is no further mention of him after support vehicles arrived on the scene.
Brooks admitted to having six or seven ounces of marijuana in his car and confessed to selling the drug for $5 to $10 a bag. A bag containing 10 pills stamped 319 and believed to be Xanax, was also found and Brooks confessed he intended to sell the entire bag to someone who would then distribute the pills.
Almost exactly a year after the bust, on February 11 this year, Wilson received his commendation.
To Ferguson police he was the clear hero of the piece. To Brooks’s defense attorney Nick Zotos, he is a compromised witness who got a trophy ‘for just showing up’.
A Grand Jury are currently reviewing evidence in Brown’s case to decide whether Wilson should face criminal charges. They are expected to conclude in mid-October though have until the beginning of the year to do so.
Meanwhile, the FBI and Department of Justice are each conducting their own investigations into the case and the handling of it.
Reflecting on Michael Brown’s shooting and the tensions and turmoil it has brought to the surface, Erica said: ‘Ferguson has a huge race problem and it’s really hard to deal with. It’s not something you can fix easily’.
Wilson’s attorney did not respond to requests for comment.
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN—Republican Dan Sebring, who is running to represent Wisconsin’s 4th District in the House of Representatives, told ThinkProgress he suspects a political motive behind the Supreme Court’s recent ruling putting the state’s voter ID law on hold.
“The United States Supreme Court said we can’t implement it for this election,” he said at a Milwaukee County Republicans party this week. “My personal feeling is that this is a play to steer the outcome of the gubernatorial election so that Scott Walker wouldn’t have a chance of getting on the ticket in 2016 for the White House. I think that’s what they’re trying to do.”
Last week, the Supreme Court halted the state’s voter ID law without providing a clear explanation for its decision. However, a short dissenting opinion by Justice Samuel Alito suggested that the majority was relying on a 2006 decision which found that altering election law close to an election could “result in voter confusion and consequent incentive to remain away from the polls.” Federal trial judge Lynn Adelman struck down Wisconsin’s voter ID law in April before a federal appeals court reinstated the measure in September.
But many at the event expressed concern that Republicans would lose without a voter ID law. Conservative talk radio host Vicki McKenna, who served as the evening’s emcee, even connected voter fraud to President Obama’s upcoming trip to Milwaukee.
“Mary Burke can turn out the base Democrats in a state that has same-day voter registration and does not protect the integrity of the election with voter ID,” she warned. “When Barack Obama comes to the state of Wisconsin, 20,000 people will cast their vote absentee at the rally. That’s why she’s bringing Barack Obama to Wisconsin.” In Wisconsin, however, “voters do not need a reason or excuse, such as being out of town on Election Day, to vote absentee” and filling out ballots at a rally would not be in violation of any law.
Milwaukee County Elections Commissioner Rick Baas added that the event’s attendees should all remain on the lookout for what he called a “really weird” phenomenon. “If people start to get mail at their homes around election time addressed to people who don’t live in that house, what you need to do is collect that mail and get it to me, so I can see if that person is registered to vote at your address,” he said. “Then we’ve got a case, a case Democrats say we don’t have.”
Research has shown that voter fraud is rare. A study of votes cast in Wisconsin during the 2004 election found just seven cases of fraud, none of which could have been prevented by a voter ID law. Such a measure could however disproportionately disenfranchise African Americans, low income citizens and other groups who tend to vote for Democrats. In his opinion striking down the law, Judge Lynn Adelman noted that the state failed to identify a single instance of known voter impersonation in Wisconsin’s recent past. Nine percent of registered voters, about 300,000 people, also lack the ID required under the law.
Since the first confirmed case of Ebola in the United States, conservatives have usedthedisease to try to stoke fear. Their anti-government conspiracy theories about the disease all sound remarkably similar, whether they are aired on Fox News, right-wing radio, or elsewhere.