Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Rep. Chaka Fattah Guilty On All Counts In Corruption Trial

A jury has convicted a veteran U.S. Congressman Chaka Fattah in a racketeering case that largely centered on various efforts to repay an illegal $1 million campaign loan.

U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah was found guilty of all counts against him, including racketeering, fraud and money laundering. His lawyers had argued that the schemes were engineered without Fattah's knowledge by two political consultants who pleaded guilty in the case.

As he emerged from the courthouse after the guilty verdict, Fattah made a brief statement about conferring with his lawyers before continuing to walk away without answering further questions from reporters.

The 59 year old Democrat has represented West Philadelphia as well as parts of Center City, South Philly, Montgomery County and the Main Line in Congress since 1995 and served on the powerful House Appropriations Committee. But he lost the April primary and his bid for his 12th term. His current term ends in December.

Fattah's jovial and calm demeanor didn't change much as the verdict was read, said NBC10's Deanna Durante who was in the courtroom.

Fattah will remain out on bail ahead of his October sentencing.

Jurors began deliberations late Wednesday afternoon, nearly month after the trial began May 16. A juror was dismissed in the racketeering case without explanation Friday. An alternate replaced the missing member, and U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III ordered jurors to begin deliberations again.

Four co-defendants also faced numerous charges.

- Fattah's former chief of staff, Bonnie Bowser, was found guilty on some of her 21 counts.
- Fattah's friend and wealthy supporter, Herbert Vederman, was found guilty on all 8 counts.
- Political consultant Robert Brand was found guilty on all two counts.
- Former Fattah aide Karen Nicholas was found guilty on some of her seven counts.

The four-week trial concluded quicker than most observers expected and did not involve any bombshell testimony or evidence entered by prosecutors and defense attorneys.

Instead, the trial revolved around the legality of the defendants actions related to a $1 million loan made during Fattah's failed 2007 mayoral campaign.

Prior to the trial, Fattah's chief strategist for that mayoral bid, Richard Naylor, pleaded guilty to misuse of campaign funds. He testified early on in the trial as a prosecution witness.

“This charge cost him his reelection. He’d been an 11-term Congressman and did a lot of things for his constituents when he was in office,” said Howard Bruce Klein, a former federal prosecutor. “So I would say it’s a sad ending for a public servant who made scholarships available for thousands of students over the years, but now has come to a very unhappy ending, being guilty of corruption. So it’s a day for the Congressman, it’s a sad day for his constituents and it’s a sad day for Philadelphia.”

Members of the jurors didn't immediately comment as they left the courtroom Tuesday afternoon.
Fattah's son Chaka "Chip" Fattah Jr. was also found guilty of federal fraud charges.

Could this woman really stop Trump?

Teacher and Republican convention delegate Kendal Unruh has a plan to deprive Donald Trump of the nomination on the convention floor.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Alex Jones Thinks Any Mass Shooting That Has Or Ever Will Happen Is A False Flag

In this Majority Report clip, we are lucky enough to hear the wise words of Alex Jones concerning the Orlando massacre. Jones (of course) thinks that the globalists/U.S. Government/anti-gun lobby (??)/probably the Illuminati/Obama are to blame for the mass shooting at Orlando nightclub Pulse because of immigration laws.

The shooter, Omar Mateen, was an American-born citizen, reportedly not that religious, likely mentally ill, and possibly gay himself.

These are all incredibly sound reasons to conclude that Alex Jones is wrong, as always, but here you go.  He ruins a lovely nature scene while he’s at it.

Gun Talk

Friday, June 17, 2016

Congresswoman Who Used To Receive Welfare Wants To Drug Test Rich People Who Get Tax Breaks

CREDIT: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI) has had enough of the growing movement to drug test poor people who need government assistance. So on Tuesday, she’s introducing a bill that she says will make things fairer.

Her “Top 1% Accountability Act” would require anyone claiming itemized tax deductions of over $150,000 in a given year to submit a clean drug test. If a filer doesn’t submit a clean test within three months of filing, he won’t be able to take advantage of tax deductions like the mortgage interest deduction or health insurance tax breaks. Instead he would have to make use of the standard deduction.

Her office has calculated that the people impacted will be those who make at least $500,000 a year.

“By drug testing those with itemized deductions over $150,000, this bill will level the playing field for drug testing people who are the recipients of social programs,” a memo on her bill notes.

Moore has a personal stake in the fight. “I am a former welfare recipient,” she explained. “I’ve used food stamps, I’ve received Aid for Families with Dependent Children, Medicaid, Head Start for my kids, Title XX daycare [subsidies]. I’m truly grateful for the social safety net.”

Ten states require applicants to their cash welfare programs to undergo a drug test. States are currently barred from implementing drug testing for the food stamps program, but Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has sued the federal government to allow him to do so and has gotten some Congressional Republican support.

Moore has been frustrated to witness attempts to tie those who avail themselves of the safety net to drug use. “Republicans continue to criminalize poverty and to put forward the narrative, the false narrative in fact, that people who are poor and reliant upon the social safety net are drug users,” she said.

In fact, evidence from test results among states that test welfare recipients indicates that they are no more likely to use drugs than the general population — in fact, they may be less likely.

That didn’t stop House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) from using a drug rehab center as the backdrop while he unveiled his poverty plan last week. “I think this is what tipped me over the edge,” Moore said, “rolling out his poverty initiative in front of a drug treatment program to sort of drive that false narrative forward.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan speaks at a drug rehab facility in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, Tuesday, June 7, 2016, where he proposed an overhaul for the nation's poverty programs.
House Speaker Paul Ryan speaks at a drug rehab facility in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, Tuesday, June 7, 2016, where he proposed an overhaul for the nation’s poverty programs. CREDIT: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Moore also wants to use her bill to question why some recipients of government aid are treated differently than others. “On the one hand, poor people…are entitled to things like Medicaid and SNAP [food stamps],” she said. “People who take tax deductions and particularly those in the top 1 percent…are not entitled to anything.” But they still benefit from a large pot of government money.

The government loses about $900 billion in revenue to tax expenditures every year, which mostly flow to the wealthy.

When it comes to drug abuse, “There are no boundaries with regard to class or race,” she said. “If these poor people who are entitled to SNAP for survival are required to be drug tested, then certainly those people who claim $150,000 or more in tax deductions should be subjected to the same in order to receive this benefit from the government.”

Moore also thinks that while there is no evidence that drug testing welfare recipients saves states any money, drug tests for wealthy taxpayers could be different. “We would save a lot of money on this,” she said. “When you add up all of the tax expenditures, all the money we give really wealthy people, it really rivals the amount we spend on Defense, Social Security, Medicare.” The mortgage interest deduction, which overwhelmingly benefits people making more than $100,000, alone cost $70 billion in 2013, or 0.4 percent of GDP.

Her bill will also help illuminate this very fact: that so much is spent on tax expenditures, not just on direct aid programs like welfare and food stamps. “We think it’s important to engage in some transparency and accountability around tax deductions,” she said.

Moore is not the only lawmaker in Congress who has raised questions about unequal treatment between the poor who make use of government programs and everyone else who needs them. In February, Rep. Rosa DeLauro asked why only recipients of food stamps were being considered for drug testing but not the farmers who also make use of programs run by the Agriculture Department.

But Moore is very serious about pushing her bill forward. “I’m motivated,” she said. “I’m going to work on it very seriously. I’m going to try to get cosponsors.”

She also wants to “engage the wealthy in this poverty debate,” she said. “I would love to see some hedge fund manager on Wall Street who might be sniffing a little cocaine here and there to stay awake realize that he can’t get his $150,000 worth of deductions unless he submits to a drug test.”

Ed Schultz News and Commentary: Thursday the 16th of June

Why is the Ed Schultz Show hotter than a polar bear in Pensacola? Easy. Because he is so different from every other talk show hosts. He’s a straight talking, no-nonsense voice of reason in unreasonable times.

On Thursday's Show, Ed gives commentary on the Republicans predicament with Donald Trump as their presumptive nominee and the fight that his heating up over gun control. We are joined by Jane Kleeb, Director of Bold Nebraska and candidate for Nebraska Democratic Party Chair, joins the show to talk about the impact of Bernie Sanders on the Democratic platform.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

The Punk Who Would Be President


It is the most famous ducktail in America today, the hairdo of wayward youth of a bygone era, and it's astonishing to imagine it under the spotlight in Cleveland, being cheered by Republican dignitaries.

The class hood, the bully and braggart, the guy revving his pink Chevy to make the pipes rumble, presiding over the student council. This is the C-minus guy who sat behind you in history and poked you with his pencil and smirked when you asked him to stop. That smirk is now on every front page in America. It is not what anybody — left, right or center — looks for in a president. There's no philosophy here, just an attitude.

He is a little old for a ducktail. By the age of 70, most ducks have moved on, but not Donald. He is apparently still fond of the sidewalls and the duck's ass in back and he is proud as can be of his great feat, the first punk candidate to get this close to the White House. He says that the country is run by a bunch of clowns and that he is going to make things great again and beat up on the outsiders who are coming into our neighborhood. His followers don't necessarily believe that — what they love about him is what kids loved about Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious, the fact that he horrifies the powers that be and when you are pro-duck you are giving the finger to Congress, the press, clergy, lawyers, teachers, cake-eaters, big muckety-mucks, VIPs, all those people who think they're better than you — you have the power to scare the pants off them, and that's what this candidate does better than anybody else.

After the worst mass shooting in American history on Sunday, 50 persons dead in Orlando, the bodies still being carted from the building, the faces of horror-stricken cops and EMTs on TV, the gentleman issued a statement on Twitter thanking his followers for their congratulations, that the tragedy showed that he had been "right" in calling for America to get "tough."

Anyone else would have expressed sorrow. The gentleman expressed what was in his heart, which was personal pride.

We had a dozen or so ducktails in my high school class and they were all about looks. The hooded eyes, the sculpted swoop of the hair, the curled lip. They emulated Elvis but only the look, not the talent. Their sole ambition was to make an impression, to slouch gracefully and exhale in an artful manner. In the natural course of things, they struggled after graduation, some tried law enforcement for the prestige of it, others became barflies. If they were drafted, the Army got them shaped up in a month or two. Eventually, they all calmed down, got hitched up to a mortgage, worried about their blood pressure, lost the chippiness, let their hair down. But if your dad was rich and if he was born before you were, then the ducktail could inherit enough wealth to be practically impervious to public opinion. This has happened in New York City. A man who could never be elected city comptroller is running for president.

The dreamers in the Republican Party imagine that success will steady him and he will accept wise counsel and come into the gravitational field of reality but it isn't happening. The Orlando tweets show it: The man does not have a heart. How, in a few weeks, should Mr. Ryan and Mr. McConnell teach him basic humanity? The bigot and braggart they see today is the same man that New Yorkers have been observing for 40 years. A man obsessed with marble walls and gold-plated doorknobs, who has the sensibility of a giant sea tortoise.

His response to the Orlando tragedy is one more clue that this election is different from any other. If Mitt Romney or John McCain had been elected president, you might be disappointed but you wouldn't fear for the fate of the Republic. This time, the Republican Party is nominating a man who resides in the dark depths. He is a thug and he doesn't bother to hide it. The only greatness he knows about is himself.

So the country is put to a historic test. If the man is not defeated, then we are not the country we imagine we are. All of the trillions spent on education was a waste. The churches should close up shop. The nation that elects this man president is not a civilized society. The gentleman is not airing out his fingernail polish, he is not showing off his wedding ring; he is making an obscene gesture. Ignore it at your peril.

Garrison Keillor hosts "A Prairie Home Companion." This column was provided by the Washington Post News Service.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

What Is Barbecue?

Sorry, There’s Only One Legit Kind of American Barbecue

One purist breaks down everything you’re doing wrong

Welcome to IMHO, the corner of Eater where we hand a megaphone to people with something to say about the world of food.
American barbecue is having a moment. Thanks in part to pitmasters such as Aaron Franklin in Austin and marketing campaigns from big food brands, the word "barbecue" — no matter how it's spelled — is part of this country's vernacular perhaps like never before. But for traditionalists in the South, where American barbecue flourished, there is cause for concern. Barbecue has rules, and they're being broken on a daily basis.

We should go ahead and get this out of the way: I am incredibly close-minded on the subject. In all other walks of life, I like to consider myself a progressive. There's no right way to be a person, and really, we're all just trying to figure it out as we go. No one should have to constrict their human experience just because it doesn't fit into someone else's idea of what is good and proper.

But let me tell you, when it comes to American barbecue — I certainly won't attempt to set ground rules for other barbecue cultures across the globe — there are absolute rights and wrongs. Sure, there's some room for interpretation, but good-intentioned "barbecue" lovers across this country are blaspheming day in and day out.

Before declaring what barbecue isn't, it's best to define what it is: pork that's slow-cooked with smoke. And if you think that's an idiotic opinion from someone who happens to have a keyboard and internet connection at his disposal, consider this:

Good-intentioned "barbecue" lovers are blaspheming day in and day out.

"I mean, pig and burned wood charcoal, and that, to me, is it," says John Currence, the James Beard Award-winning chef based out of Oxford, Mississippi. "If you don't have both of those things, to my mind, you don't have what constitutes barbecue."

Currence was born in New Orleans, won the 2009 James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef: South, and owns a restaurant empire expanding across the region from its home base in a small Mississippi college town. Since 2013, his City Grocery restaurant group has operated Lamar Lounge in Oxford, becoming the only smokehouse in the state to specialize in whole-hog barbecue. If anyone can claim to be an authority on the subject, it's someone with Currence's resume.

So why pork? Why does the meat have to come from a pig for a plate of barbecue to exist? Why doesn't smoked chicken, the dish that's most associated with Alabama white sauce, count? "And why in the world aren't smoked brisket and beef ribs — which have become the face of the modern barbecue movement in America — included in this conversation?" hordes of angry Texans ask as they sharpen their pitchforks.

Nope, not barbecue. Photo: m7007/Shutterstock

Southern historian Don Harrison Doyle notes the first Europeans to come in contact with the Chickasaw, a people that resided on lands that would eventually become Mississippi, were Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto and his crew in 1540. De Soto and his comrades introduced the low-and-slow cooking style they had learned about during their time in Mexico, and they prepared a feast of the wild hogs that were found in the area.

Writing his pro-pork manifesto for Esquire magazine in 1976, Jim Villas details how English settlers took up the method shortly after arriving in Jamestown. Pork was the obvious meat of choice during the early days of barbecue in North Carolina. Smithsonian Magazine notes pig farming was relatively cheap and low-maintenance, especially compared to the idea of domestic cattle. Carolinians didn't have to do much at all, allowing pigs to fend for themselves in the woods and then hunting them when meat was needed.

Even as the region changed over the years and cattle farming became a more reasonable proposition, I think there's a pretty clear reason why pork continued to dominate North Carolina and the rest of the South: It just tastes better. Any time I have this argument with someone who wants to extol the virtues of the cow, I see the same trump card played: "It takes a lot more talent to produce world-class smoked beef than world-class smoked pork." I will cede this point. Smoking brisket takes an incredible amount of skill, and as long as you follow a few basic rules, it isn't too hard to produce good smoked pork on your first try. But this just proves why porcine meats are so superior. They're already more delicious to begin with. Add some smoke and spice, and they're divine. Currence shared how the first taste of legendary Raleigh, N.C.-based pitmaster Ed Mitchell's ‘cue was "like a lightning bolt to my head."

Anyone traveling through the region by automobile will be able to spot endless visual cues that, despite brisket's rise in popularity around the country, pork is still king all over the South. Get off the interstate and drive around long enough, and you'll wonder how so many barbecue joints can exist within a sparsely populated area. How do you pick the best one to stop for lunch? Tradition says it's all about the human-like qualities of the pig on the sign out front. "You assign a numeric score to a barbecue joint based upon the number of human-like things the pig on the sign is doing," writes Robert Moss, author of Barbecue: The History of an American Institution. "A realistic pig just standing there: zero points. A pig standing up and wearing a hat: two points. A standing pig in a hat and overalls strumming a banjo, winking, and turning a barbecue spit (or feasting on his brethren) — well, just pull right on over. You have found a winner." You'll notice there's no mention of looking for a sign with a banjo-picking cow.

For those who worship at the Church of Carolina Barbecue, the idea of classifying anything from a cow under the barbecue umbrella makes as much sense as calling a ground turkey sandwich a burger. One must specify that this item is a "turkey burger," because a traditional burger is made of ground beef. If you must refer to brisket as barbecue, at least have the decency to call it "Texas-style barbecue" when you're outside the Lone Star State. (I respect the fact that beef-lovers believe in a slow-smoking method that transforms a cut of meat into succulence that cannot be matched.)

What I will not abide is associating hamburgers, hot dogs, direct-heat charcoal grills, and, god forbid, gas grills with the subject. How these items became linked with the idea of barbecue is beyond me. 

"It was a misappropriation of that word, and I guess it came from the barbecue pit," Currence says. "My grandfather had this giant brick barbecue pit. It had smoking chambers in it, but it also had a hot grill where you could cook hamburgers and hot dogs. It came from the cross-utilization of those implements and more processed foods: ‘We're just going to go barbecue these hamburgers.'"

"Barbecue these hamburgers" is a phrase that never should be uttered. One does not barbecue hamburgers and hot dogs. In fact, one does not really "barbecue" anything. If you're preparing barbecue — a noun — you're smoking a whole hog or ribs or pork shoulder. Even many brisket-loving Texans who are about ready to ring my neck would agree barbecue comes from indirect heat and long cooking times. When you're throwing some burgers and dogs on the hot grill for a few minutes, you're "grilling out" or "cooking out." Furthermore, a party that involves friends and family coming over to eat grilled hamburgers and hot dogs is not "a barbecue" where I'm from. That's a cook-out. Actual barbecue must be on the menu for an event to actually be a barbecue.

Yes, Merriam-Webster offers a few broad definitions of the word that seem to cover basic grilling and anything under the sun that could be thrown on a grill. Unfortunately, the brains behind the dictionary recently destroyed their credibility by attempting to define a hot dog as a sandwich. This is obviously a debate for another time, but a hot dog is its own thing. It's not a sandwich. Are you really comfortable with the idea of "barbecuing some hot dog sandwiches"? Do not trust Merriam-Webster.

CNN reporter Emanuella Grinberg, a New Yorker who now resides in Atlanta, tackled the subject of grilling vs. barbecue last year. Grinberg explains how other Southern language and comestible quirks ("y'all," sweet tea) were adopted with ease, but changing her definition of barbecue was a touch more difficult. "It would take years for me to see it [a Southerner's] way (or, more likely, give up the fight) after learning what barbecue means to the South," she wrote. And that gets to the heart of the matter. For so many Southerners, a burger or dog on the grill is all fine and good, but barbecue is something so much more.

Lest you think I'm an inflexible curmudgeon, I'm relatively open-minded when it comes to the subject of sauce. When it comes to augmenting chopped or pulled pork, I prefer the thin, sharp vinegar-and-pepper varieties of eastern North Carolina, but the inclusion of ketchup or tomato paste in the western part of the state and throughout much of the South can make for a nice accompaniment. The mustard-based products of South Carolina are tasty as well. And I would be remiss if I didn't put in a plug for white sauce, which comes from my native Alabama. Invented by Big Bob Gibson in Decatur some 90 years ago, it's based on mayonnaise, vinegar, and pepper, and it's never really been accepted outside the northern half of its home state.

Before I become Public Enemy No. 1 in the state of Texas, I will admit that smoked brisket, when done well, is phenomenal eating. It's a fact I've only learned recently. I have family in Texas, but because of my devotion to pork and poor brisket experiences, I've never bothered to give it a try in its homeland. It wasn't until an Eater event last November (in New York City of all places) that I tasted outrageously delicious brisket. John Lewis, who has experience at Austin shrines Franklin Barbecue and La Barbecue and now operates his own restaurant in Charleston, S.C., served it up. It was salty and smoky, fatty and moist. It raised my eyebrows and stopped me in my tracks. I had no idea brisket could be that good.

It was delicious, but it wasn't barbecue.

If you’re a chef, restaurant worker, or in any way involved in the food industry — or if you’re simply a smart diner with something to say — we’d love to hear from you. Send a pitch (or a completed opinion piece of 1,000-1,500 words) to imho@eater.com, along with an explanation of who you are and why your voice on this matter is an important one. Accepted submissions will go through a standard editorial process before publication, including adjustments for clarity and structure, as well as copy- and fact-checking, always with the writer’s signoff.

Chris Fuhrmeister is Eater's evening news editor and editor of Eater Atlanta. Hawk Krall is a Philadelphia-based artist, illustrator, and former line cook with a lifelong obsession for unique regional cuisine. 

Editor: Erin DeJesus

Eater Video: American Barbecue Styles Explained in 2 Minutes

Monday, June 13, 2016

The new God of War takes Kratos to Norse mythology

Ring Of Fire: Fox News Resident PUNK Blames Obama For Orlando Massacre


The victims from the Orlando shooting haven’t even been completely removed from the nightclub where they died and already, news media is doing their best to politicize the issue.

There are still so many questions yet to be answered, but that didn’t stop Fox News’ Tucker Carlson from blaming Obama for the largest mass shooting in American history.

First, the segment featured an author fear-mongering about whether or not the attack was “Jihadi,” and telling regular people that they are on the “front lines” in a war against this sort of terrorism.

Carlson said that the tragedy is the fault of the president because he doesn’t regularly say the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism,” the talking-point repugs love to revert to when they want to blame Obama for not banning all Muslims.

For the record, there has been no confirmation that the attack in Orlando had anything to do with Islam, especially because of the added element of sexuality which appeared to be the target of the attack.

We will find out a lot more about the motives of the shooter as time goes by, but from listening to Fox, you would think we already knew.


TOM TOMORROW: When We Were Great

Tom Tomorrow: "I didn’t have time yesterday to write anything in response to the latest horrific gun massacre, but there are relevant cartoons here, here, here, here, here, here and here. Oh, and also here. Those are just off the top of my head, I’ve undoubtedly forgotten others."

DAILY KOS LINK: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/06/13/1537198/-Cartoon-When-we-were-great