Monday, November 29, 2010

Cam Newton Investigation Timeline


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The Cam Newton Investigation Timeline is now on its own permanent page.

Click here for the link, or find it on the top banner and update your bookmarks, accordingly.

Liberals to propose paths to a lower deficit: What could possibly go wrong?

Via the New York Times. Liberal groups have their own ideas about how to reduce the deficit.

Great idea, right?


WASHINGTON — As President Obama’s fiscal commission faces a deadline this week for agreement on a plan to shrink the mounting national debt, liberal organizations will unveil debt-reduction proposals of their own in the next two days, seeking to sway the debate in favor of fewer reductions in domestic spending, more cuts in the military and higher taxes for the wealthy.

The proposals from two sets of liberal advocacy groups highlight the deep ideological divides surrounding efforts to deal with the nation’s budgetary imbalances, even as Mr. Obama’s bipartisan commission works to finalize its recommendations by Wednesday — and struggles for a formula that would get the backing of at least 14 of its 18 members, the threshold for sending its proposal to Congress for a vote.


image Oh, the metaphors.

You have a convicted felon whose only real passion is stealing cars.  So, let’s have him come up with new and innovative ways of obtaining a nice new ride.

You have a known Ponzi scheme conspiracist whose only real passion is bilking elderly investors. So, let’s have him come up with new and innovative ways of protecting senior citizens from fraudsters.

You have a mortgage banker known for constructing complicated derivative securities that take down banks and paralyze financial markets. So, let’s have her come up with ways of protecting markets from meltdowns.

Let alcoholics decide who gets booze and spoiled fat children decide who gets the candy.

Seriously entertaining any ideas about deficit reduction from liberals is like seriously entertaining retirement planning suggestions from Dr. Kevorkian. Nothing good will come of it.

Fortunately, we have a solid conservative majority in the House of Representatives, who will likely be joined by an ever dwindling group of Blue Dogs to quash any such notions.  Had this been floated in November 2009, we would be horrified.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Great News from the Left Coast: A new drug tunnel and another jihadi plot

image Authorities in San Diego (finally) discovered a sophisticated and well equipped tunnel system beneath the US and Mexico border.  They said the underground system ran for nearly a half mile, and included such amenities as a rail system, ventilation systems and fluorescent lighting. Oh, and… they also discovered about 40 tons of marijuana.

Meanwhile, about 1,000 miles to the north, authorities there were taking a Somali-born, nationalized US citizen into custody for allegedly attempting to set off a van stuffed with explosives using a cell phone detonator.

But, closing the border and enforcing US drug and human trafficking laws, as well as protecting citizens from random, soft-target attacks… that’s no big deal. Because these are “isolated incidents” and the public was never really in danger.


Chief Michael Reese stated, “This threat was very real but at no point was the public ever in danger. The cooperation of various law enforcement agencies was critical in making this case. I appreciate the partnership we have with the FBI and I’m very proud of the Portland Police Bureau’s role in this investigation. The Portland Police Bureau works to maintain the highest level of safety for our community and this case stands as an example of our commitment to the people we serve.”
Mayor Sam Adams said, “A smart federal, state and local law enforcement investigation caught a criminal tonight bent on mass destruction and murder in our city.” “The bomb was a fake but evidence shows the criminal who tried to detonate it was real. My deepest thanks to the local teams at the United States Department of Justice, FBI, Portland Police Bureau, and other local agencies who were instrumental in protecting our community.”


We know who the terrorists are.  We know their ethnicity, their religious affiliation, their gender, age and we know what their aims are. We know who the drug cartels are. We know their ethnicity, their gender, age and what their aims are.

But God forbid we profile them. It might be a violation of their civil rights.

Meanwhile, we’re stuck having to wonder whether we’re safe at a Christmas Tree Lighting.

How long is it before the terrorists and the drug cartels realize that their goals are not at all dissimilar, and start working together?

Cash Conduit: Engineering clandestine pay-for-play schemes

UPDATE: This update corrects the name of the ousted Birmingham Mayor to Larry Langford.  Apologies to Jimmy Langfords everywhere.

In the ongoing investigations into the failure of Colonial BancGroup, check kiting and mortgage fraud and a vote-buying conspiracy in the Alabama legislature, a number of theories from knowledgeable observers have emerged on how funds from the failed Montgomery banking concern and a now-closed casino might have been funneled to athletes at Auburn University, a primary benefactor of of the largesse of Bobby Lowder, Colonial, Milton McGregor and VictoryLand.

Here are two schemes posited by individuals either close to the investigations or with direct knowledge of the techniques described.

image The ATM/Debit Card Scheme.  There is no need for a human bagman to carry around the sacks of cash used the last time Auburn was implicated in a pay-for-play scheme. You have a group of well-heeled, well-financed boosters take out ATM cards in either their own names or in the names of businesses they own, work for or represent. These are distributed to their recipients, along with a PIN to be used for withdrawals at cash machines. While it would complicate matters and create a more tangible paper trail, they could also be used for purchases at retail locations. The convenience is tempting. With no bagman, there are no large withdrawals of cash with bank tellers as potential witnesses.

If you had a bunch of players to "take care of," you'd quickly get over the $10,000 limit that requires a Currency Transaction Report, or CTA, on the part of the financial institution. CTA’s are required for any cash withdrawal or deposit of $10,000 or more, and were imposed in the 1980’s to combat money laundering operations of drug dealers and organized crime figures.  The accounts accessed by the cards could be replenished electronically, often with nothing more than a phone call. When you control a bank, who would ever know? At a glance, with no players' names appearing on withdrawals, it wouldn't even look suspicious - just Dr. Joe Blow making a series of $100 withdrawals. Of course, the fly in the ointment is that a picture is taken of each bank withdrawal and perhaps Dr. Joe Blow making the withdrawal doesn't look like your typical veterinary doc - might not even resemble the real Dr. Blow at all.

Any interested federal or state investigator coming along behind would have access to the electronic records plus the ATM photos. However, some ATM machines—like those found at convenience stores—may not store photographic records at all, and some smaller banks only keep those photographs for a short period of time. Once that time has elapsed, there is little record of the transaction.  If our scheme’s hypothetical architect had lost control of the bank through which funds had been laundered - OUCH! IF the architects and their co-conspirators had discussed the "how, who and where" over the phone and an agency with a wiretap warrant had picked up these discussions in the process of another investigation then OUCH! again.

Another way of accomplishing the same job is the prepaid debit card, obtainable at most financial institutions or large retailers.  They are essentially gift cards, but you can use them at any store. No ID or PIN numbers are required. Virtually untraceable. If this is  the method used, the chances of documenting it without witness cooperation go down sharply. Of course, this is all just a hypothetical on my part. Any resemblance to any real persons, living or dead, is totally accidental and unintentional. Just outlining how it might have worked.

image The Guaranteed Jackpot Scheme. This one isn’t a hypothetical at all. In fact, it’s been done before. An individual goes into a casino and walks out with several large jackpots, which depending on their size, are not reported to the IRS as taxable income. In February 2008, Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford went to a casino, sat down at a bingo machine (a dead ringer for a slot machine)  and hit a $96,000 payday. He returned on March 14 and hit another $93,000 in payouts. A week later, same joint, this time $63,000. But these exceed the taxable reporting limit and Langford’s greed was his downfall. Tax records and lawsuit filings show he padded his income by about $1.5 million on an eye-popping 555 jackpots. Langford was convicted of bribery and sent  to prison.

The owner of the casino Langford got so “lucky” in was owned by Milton McGregor, a central figure in the vote-buying scheme, a director of Colonial BancGroup and prominent Auburn booster.

The machines are programmed just like ordinary slot machines in any garden variety casino. They are set up by their operators to pay out between say 40% and 125% of what they take in during a predetermined time period. The payouts on that machine will start to increase or decrease until it reaches that programmed payout level. You can NOT control the exact amount of individual payouts though, so the operator must devise a comp scheme such that has the lucky player uses little of his own money, and he walks out with straps of $100 bills. Making rounds on the ‘net is a photo of an Auburn football player holding what appears to be just such straps, and the straps themselves are the types used by casinos.

It will likely be many months before investigations are concluded and we learn whether grand jury indictments will be handed down. Only then will we learn the full extent of schemes such as those described above.

It is also increasingly likely that, while we first learned of potential shady dealings when John Bond went public with a pay-for-play scheme allegedly offered by Cecil Newton, father of Auburn Quarterback sensation, Cam Newton, the web of corruption is much wider and much more complex than one father shopping one talented son to one institution.

From Langford’s conviction on bribery charges last year; to the check kiting schemes of Colonial BancGroup and the subsequent indictment of Lee Farkas; to the well organized campaign of bribing legislators to sway their votes on controversial gambling legislation; to the potential for tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars funneled to college athletes… the names of Bobby Lowder and Milton McGregor keep surfacing. And, much of that money would have been virtually undetectable until Colonial’s financial house of cards collapsed last year and its books thrown open to state and federal banking regulators and investigators.

This may one day read like a Shakespearean tragedy that would bring tears to the eyes of The Bard himself. The things Bobby Lowder and Milton McGregor loved most—Colonial, VictoryLand and Auburn University—could ultimately be destroyed by the very greed and hunger for power displayed by the two actors themselves.

h/t to TIDE-HSV and Bama Reb for details on the schemes.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

How’s this for a BCS cluster fark?

Right now, everyone wonders which of the four remaining undefeated teams eligible for the BCS National Championship Game gets left at the altar.  I decided I’d see how things could get so screwed up that everyone—from the talking heads at ESPN to Joe Sixpack the Fan—are left scratching their heads and wondering “WTF just happened?” 

Here’s my doomsday scenario (all rankings are BCS):

November 26:

#11 Alabama defeats #2 Auburn in Iron Bowl LXXV

Nevada pistols #4 Boise State

November 27:

Penn State knocks off #10 Michigan State

#13 Oklahoma knocks off #9 Oklahoma State

Michigan upsets #8 Ohio State

Northwestern stuns #7 Wisconsin

Oregon State shocks #6 Stanford

Arkansas blows out #5 LSU

#3 TCU survives scare from New Mexico

Arizona stops #1 Oregon

When the BCS standings are released on Sunday November 28, here’s the Top 5:

  1. TCU
  2. Alabama
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Oregon
  5. Auburn

Then, in the SEC Championship Game, South Carolina fixes the problems it had against Auburn earlier in the season and wins the rematch at the Georgia Dome. None of the other games that weekend would matter, since Alabama and TCU will have finished their regular seasons and face no more chances to be dislodged.

The BCS Championship Game would then feature:

 image VS image

 

And of course, Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Julio Jones, Marcel Dareus and Greg McElroy would successfully defend their title and win the Crimson Tide’s 14th National Championship.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Please be safe.  Keep your enemies close and your friends closer…

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Is gambling behind the FBI’s involvement in the Cam Newton Case?

image If past cases are any indication, the FBI’s involvement in the Cam Newton recruiting investigation could have nothing to do with Newton’s recruitment at all.  Federal investigators became involved in two high-profile cases elsewhere, one at Northwestern and one at Michigan.  Both involved gambling.

If this is the case, then it backs up the suggestions made here and elsewhere on the ‘net – that this is much bigger than a stellar Quarterback with a greedy father. It also lends strength to the theories that implicate Milton McGregor, Robert Geddie and Bobby Lowder.

From a USA Today story hitting wires this morning:


What interest the FBI has in the NCAA infractions case involving Auburn quarterback Cam Newton is unclear. But it's not the first time the FBI has been involved with college athletics.

Investigations into Northwestern and the Michigan basketball program in the late 1990s are among those in which the FBI played a role. Both involved gambling. With Northwestern, former basketball players were convicted of trying to fix games. With Michigan, booster Ed Martin was involved in a gambling operation unrelated to the athletic department, but his relationship and improper loans to some of the Fab Five came to light through the case.

Whether the bureau becomes involved in future cases is hard to predict. But its presence has impact. The admitted flaw in the NCAA enforcement process is a lack of subpoena power. A vivid example is the recent Reggie Bush case with Southern California when the NCAA couldn't get many of the principals, including Bush, to talk.

"When they get involved, the NCAA's job becomes a lot easier," Jim Delany, the Big Ten commissioner and a former NCAA investigator, said of the feds. "We're not talking about freedom of information. We're talking about subpoena power. If you lie to an FBI agent, you are violating the law. You can go to jail if you are caught doing that."


Of course, the other key point made in this piece is that the NCAA’s job is made much easier when federal investigators are on the case.  The NCAA’s lack of subpoena power or ability to compel testimony are crippling weaknesses of its enforcement operations.  If you lie to or obstruct the NCAA, your institution may or may not be hammered for your lack of cooperation, depending on what the league’s investigators are able to prove through other sources.  If you lie to or obstruct a federal investigation, you go to jail for it.

Federal investigators have been exploring a wide range of possible criminal activity in Alabama since Colonial Bank collapsed in the summer of 2009. Additional investigations led to the indictment of Milton McGregor, a member of of Colonial’s Board of Directors, and Auburn booster and Robert Geddie, an Auburn alumnus and powerful state lobbyist in Alabama.

It is not clear whether the FBI is cooperating with the NCAA and sharing information. However, the USA Today story also notes that the Mississippi Secretary of State’s office is involved, and since Colonial Bank was a state-chartered institution, the Secretary of State and the Alabama Attorney General’s office are also both involved. No matter how you turn this thing around and look at it from different angles, two things are abundantly clear:

This is an investigation spanning multiple jurisdictions, with serious, big boy matters being explored.

Auburn University is the epicenter of the investigations. Everything comes back to Auburn.

IBCR

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

SEC Questions on the Cam Newton scandal and Bruce Pearl suspension

image  Mike Slive’s use of the new rule to suspend Bruce Pearl has implications on the Cam Newton recruiting investigation, but it also brings up a lot of questions.

This was blogged about yesterday, and there was considerable discussion over the weekend in the blogosphere and across the interwebs. As expected, on Friday SEC Commissioner Mike Slive announced that the league was imposing an 8-game suspension for the University of Tennessee Basketball Coach Bruce Pearl. Pearl’s offense was hosting a BBQ for prospective student-athletes then playing a shell game with the truth when investigators questioned him about the incident.  Slive was wielding a new club given to him by the conference’s ratification of a new bylaw, which I quote for you, again:

"The Commissioner has the duty and power to investigate the validity of violations and impose penalties and sanctions against member institutions, their athletic staff members or student-athletes, for practices and conduct which violate the spirit, as well as the letter of NCAA and SEC rules and regulations. This shall include the ability to render prospective student-athletes or current student-athletes ineligible for competition due to their involvement in a violation of NCAA or SEC rules that occurs during the individual's recruitment. The Commissioner also has the authority to suspend institutional staff members from participation in recruiting activities or participation in practice and/or competition due to their involvement in violations of NCAA or SEC rules."

A lot of the discussion over the weekend covered how the Commissioner determined what constituted “practices and conduct” that warranted such an action. During radio interviews conducted in the hours after his presser last Friday, Slive said, “We wanted to be certain that we understood the established facts before we considered what action, if any, the conference should take."

That’s an eye-opening statement, especially in light of the first sentence in the new bylaw.

In comments to ESPN, Slive’s Associate Commissioner for Compliance, Greg Sankey said that the SEC wasn’t an investigative body:


Without specifically addressing the initial call from Mississippi State, which came several months earlier, Sankey said what the SEC originally was told about the allegation was "limited information."

"We don't deal in rumor and innuendo," Sankey said. "We deal in facts."

He said the SEC is not an investigative body, adding that it can share information with NCAA enforcement as needed. He declined to say whether the Newton allegation was shared with the NCAA.

Sankey also would not directly comment on whether the league office considers this an ongoing issue or a closed case.

"We're attentive to a variety of issues at any given time," he said. "We pay attention to a lot."


So, the Commissioner has the duty and power to investigate violations.  It makes decisions based on “established facts” but according to Sankey, the conference is not an investigative body. And yet it deals in facts, not rumor or innuendo. This just brings up more questions.  Really big questions, like:

  • Who becomes the investigative body?
  • What is the process for determining whether allegations of rules violation are valid?
  • What is the standard for an “established fact?”
  • Is an established fact something that the conference establishes independently?
  • Is an established fact something that the alleged perpetrators have copped a plea on?
  • Is an established fact something that a credible news organization, like ESPN, the New York Times, Yahoo! Sports or the Wall Street Journal runs as “hard news?”
  • Can a blogger or citizen journalist, using named sources, public records and published reports meet the standard for establishing facts?

If you’re going to create a process by which a governing body can penalize its members for violations of agreed-upon standards, then you have to create a process by which the governing body determines the who, how, where, when and how much of the violation occurred.

This has huge implications in the slow-motion disaster of the Cam Newton recruiting investigation.  ESPN and the New York Times are both credible news organizations. On November 4 and November 5 respectively, these two organizations ran hard news reports that Cameron Newton’s father Cecil had approached Mississippi State University boosters regarding a pay for play plan that would have landed Cam in Starkville.  The price?  Somewhere between $100,000 and $180,000. On November 11, ESPN ran a second news report documenting that both the father and the son spoke of a pay-for-play scheme with Mississippi State representatives.  Both ESPN and the New York Times require sign-off from two editors before a controversial (ie, potentially defamatory) hard news story runs. At the Times, those stories also require sign-off by legal counsel. Do the ESPN and New York Times articles rise to the standard of “established facts?”

The conference needs to state what it will and what it will not accept as proof of validity when determining that practices and conduct … violate the spirit, as well as the letter of NCAA and SEC rules and regulations. And it needs to act, one way or another, in the Cam Newton case. The consequences of failing to do so are enormous, and may well be jumping the shark on college footballs fame and future fortunes.

If Newton is allowed to continue to play, and additional evidence proves conclusively that the Newtons are dirty, and Auburn continues undefeated through the Iron Bowl, SEC Championship Game and the BCS Championship Game in January, then the SEC will have engineered a repeat of the Bush-USC fiasco. In the process, it will also have destroyed the SEC’s credibility.

All bets are off on whether the student bodies and fan bases of TCU and Boise State co-sponsor a Torch and Pitchfork March on the SEC’s offices in Birmingham.  I’ll provide the refreshments if they decide to do it, though.

But the SEC’s new bylaw gives it the power to avoid even the risk of this happening. It could determine that the ESPN and New York Times stories establish facts that show the Newtons’ transgressions are a violation of the spirit, if not the letter, of SEC and NCAA rules and regulations; that Newton’s eligibility as an amateur student-athlete has been compromised; and that Newton should not play until the matter is fully investigated and all facts are clearly and irrefutably established.

The integrity of the game, the credibility of the NCAA and SEC and the impacts to the other title contenders warrant swift and decisive action.

IBCR

Monday, November 22, 2010

CAMGATE: Will the SEC use the Pearl case as precedent for suspending Cam Newton?

image Friday, just before lunch, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive held a press conference from the league’s office in Birmingham, Alabama.  During that presser, Slive announced that the league was handing down an 8-game suspension for the University of Tennessee’s flamboyant men’s Basketball Coach, Bruce Pearl.

Pearl got into trouble for hosting a barbecue for some high school players, but that would hardly rise to a standard of a major breach of recruiting ethics.  Pearl’s more serious violation was lying to NCAA and league officials who investigated the incident.

Over the weekend, several pundits, bloggers and sports radio talkers began speculating that the SEC was (1) finally turning its full attention to the investigation of recruiting impropriety allegations surrounding Auburn QB Cam Newton and (2) might use the Pearl case as a precedent for removing players from the field as well.

A good discussion of the latter possibility comes from Clay Travis at NCAA Fanhouse:


When the news of Pearl's suspension broke Friday morning, many fans suggested Pearl's punishment was an attempt by the SEC to defray attention from the scandal presently surrounding Cam Newton. While the suspension may have succeeded in temporarily removing Newton from the headlines, Pearl's punishment had been in the works since Oct. 4, 2010, a full month before the news of Newton's alleged recruiting improprieties broke. On that October day, Tennessee played LSU in Baton Rouge and Commissioner Slive first broached the topic of a potential league suspension with Vol athletic director Mike Hamilton.

In considering a punishment, Slive asserted a phrase that will become more important as the Newton case continues to evolve.

"We wanted to be certain that we understood the established facts before we considered what action, if any, the conference should take." (You can listen to the full interview here).

Slive distinguished the SEC's punishment of Pearl from its inaction on Newton based on the presence of "established facts" in the case of Pearl and the lack of such facts in the Newton investigation. (By "established facts" Slive does not mean that comments have been reported in the media. He means either the parties agree to the facts, as Tennessee did in the Pearl case, or an adjudicative body -- the NCAA, the FBI, someone who is conducting a legitimate investigation -- has determined a recorded set of facts).

Asked by co-host Brent Dougherty whether he thought about waiting for the NCAA to issue its findings before acting, Slive replied, "I did think about it. I thought about it for a long time. But we had established facts here. ... I thought it was important for our conference to do something rather than just to wait for the NCAA and do something on top of that."

Slive went on to acknowledge the process by which he tries to make a reasoned decision in the frenzied modern media environment. "I try to be deliberate," Slive said. "I think sometimes to the frustration of others, but I think we have an obligation to act on established facts."


Slive’s suspension would not have been possible last year.  In June, the conference amended its bylaws to give the Commissioner greater power in sitting both coaches and players, without having to wait for the NCAA or any other investigative body to complete their laborious investigations. The new bylaw reads thusly:

"The Commissioner has the duty and power to investigate the validity of violations and impose penalties and sanctions against member institutions, their athletic staff members or student-athletes, for practices and conduct which violate the spirit, as well as the letter of NCAA and SEC rules and regulations. This shall include the ability to render prospective student-athletes or current student-athletes ineligible for competition due to their involvement in a violation of NCAA or SEC rules that occurs during the individual's recruitment. The Commissioner also has the authority to suspend institutional staff members from participation in recruiting activities or participation in practice and/or competition due to their involvement in violations of NCAA or SEC rules."

It is unclear how intensely the conference has been involved in CamGate since the ESPN and New York Times stories of November 4, which reported that a former Mississippi State football player, John Bond, was approached by someone representing then Blinn College QB Cam Newton and asking for money in exchange for his signature on a scholarship.

What is clear is that Cam Newton’s father, Cecil Newton, admitted that he had discussed money for Newton’s services; that the price was in the ballpark of $180,000; that Newton eventually signed with Auburn because his father told him to.

There is no “smoking gun” evidence that someone connected to Auburn paid up. But even the mere solicitation of extra benefits is a violation of NCAA rules and probably means the player being recruited is no longer eligible as an amateur student-athlete.

Before I’m deluged with emails and comments from Auburn fans and Newton defenders citing the NCAA rules, please read the underlined text again. The SEC doesn’t need to follow your precise interpretations of the NCAA bylaws. If Slive and the SEC determines that the Newtons’ conduct was unethical and violates the spirit of the rules, they can declare him ineligible.

They don’t have to wait until the NCAA, the FBI or state regulators to complete any of their investigations, either.  They don’t even have to connect an Auburn booster, coach or fundraising foundation with a money  trail to the Newton’s.  In fact, Auburn could be completely innocent in the whole affair, and the SEC could still determine that the Newtons don’t even need to be within spitting distance of a college football game.

Slive removed Bruce Pearl based on "established facts."  We’re almost certain to see what the SEC is able to establish with regards to Cam Newton.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dear TSA: This has got to stop

The Transportation Security Administrations needs to put a stop to this full body scan or pat down foolishness.  Somewhere in the Obama regime, a grownup needs to step up and put an end to this sickening invasion of our privacy.  Today, Gateway Pundit has a snippet from a story which reports on TSA singling out a 12-year old girl and forcing her through the scanning system while traveling without her parents.  It’s an outrage.


TampaBay.com reported on the July incident:

A Baltimore family is raising the issue after their 12-year-old daughter was pulled out of line in Tampa and subjected to what they say was an embarrassing and unhealthy scan. The girl was traveling with an adult friend of the family, not her parents.

“Our daughter was scared and didn’t understand what was happening,” said Michelle Nemphos, the mother of the girl. She declined to give her daughter’s name. “In essence they conducted a strip search on a 12-year-old girl without her parents present to advocate for her.”

• • •

The girl told her story in a phone interview:

Okay, I was coming home to Baltimore, Md., from Siesta Key, Fla., and I was with my friend and her parents and I was going to this airport security check.

I put my bag through, and they pulled me aside and told me to go over here. I thought it was some high-tech scan and I walked right through it and this lady said ‘”Hold on, you can’t just walk through this thing. Put your feet on the yellow footsteps and make a triangle above your head.” I guess it was so they could see my whole body.

I heard a beep and she said, “Okay you can leave.”

I heard one of the guards say “affirmative on the female,” and I knew they were talking about me. And that made me worried.

I couldn’t see my friend and her dad, and I was really worried that I was separated from them. I was trying to look happy when I saw them but inside I was really scared.

• • •

When the girl first got home to Baltimore, she didn’t mention the beaches she’d visited or her trip to the aquarium. All she wanted to talk about was what happened at the airport.

“Why did they pick me?” the girl asked her mother.


Even more outrageous—refuse to go through the scanner, and a TSA employee does a full-body pat down.  Full Body. Even if the subject is a three year old child.

Look, we know who the likely suspects are.  We know their ethnic backgrounds.  We know they’re predominantly male.  We know they’re between the ages of 18 and 40-something. We know their religious affiliation, and we generally know where they were born.  But instead of junking the “PC mantra” and profiling middle eastern, male muslims, this administration is  subjecting Caucasian toddlers and to “inappropriate touching” watching tweeners go through the Nakie Scan. It’s got to stop, TSA.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

CAMGATE: The Court cases that kicked open the Barn Door

UncleMilty With each passing day, it appears that the investigation into the recruitment of Cameron Newton is a very small part of a much, much larger investigation into corruption, greed and power-wielding in the state of Alabama.  The corruption could span from the state house in Montgomery to the President’s Mansion at Auburn University.  In terms of public information, if you wanted to find one event that kicked the barn door open and shed light on the rat pack’s deeds, this would have to be it.

On October 12, 2010, a Federal Judge in Birmingham, AL denied a motion by Milton McGregor—wealthy dog track owner, casino investor and influential political figure—to seal all documents related to his indictment on charges of bribery and corruption.

Those documents describe all of the evidence against McGregor and his accused co-conspirators, and include transcripts from recorded telephone conversations between lobbyists trying to influence an upcoming vote on statewide gambling in Alabama and legislators who were key swing votes on the bill. Those telephone conversation transcripts include offers of bribes, political threats and discussions of such things as arranging “uh, entertainers” for the indicted conspirators.

While the flow of public information began with the indictment of McGregor and his alleged co-conspirators, the actual genesis of the myriad of investigations began on August 14, 2009, when the Alabama State Banking Department, regulators for state-chartered Colonial BancGroup, seized Colonial Bank and appointed the FDIC as receiver. Colonial filed for bankruptcy protection approximately two weeks afterwards. At its height, Colonial was worth $26 billion. The failure of Colonial was the largest of the year, and was said to have cost CEO Bobby Lowder more than $160 million in personal wealth.  The failure threw the books open to federal regulators and forensic accountants.

Milton McGregor was on the Board of Directors of Colonial BancGroup, as was Patrick Fain Dye, the former Auburn Head Football Coach and Athletic Director, who still maintains an office on the campus at Auburn University. McGregor has donated at least $1 million to the University for facilities construction. Lowder however, was the big dog in the pack. Lowder sits on the Board of Trustees for the University, and has been accused of micromanaging and interfering with every aspect of the University’s existence, from academics to athletics.

On June 15, 2010, after nearly a year of investigations, depositions and grand jury hearings, the Department of Justice indicted Lee Farkas, Chairman and CEO of Taylor, Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp, which at the time was one of, if not the largest originator of home mortgages in the country.  Farkas and Taylor Bean were one of Colonial's largest customers, using Colonial’s “warehouse” lending unit to finance the origination of mortgages which Taylor Bean then packaged and sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Farkas was indicted on multiple counts conspiracy and fraud, with the biggest charge of attempting to defraud the United States Government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

image According to the indictment, Farkas and an unnamed “Colonial Bank Officer” conspired and engaged in a complicated check kiting scheme to conceal Taylor Bean’s nefarious financial dealings.  Later, as things began to unravel during Spring 2009, court documents show that Farkas conspired with a “Senior BancGroup Officer” to conceal a fraudulent scheme to obtain TARP funding from the government.  It is not known who the “Colonial Bank Officer” was that helped Farkas conceal transactions from regulators.  The “Senior BancGroup Officer” is believed to be Bobby Lowder.

It is also believed that during the course of the investigations of Colonial and Taylor Bean, federal agents became interested in and learned details of the political scandal that erupted in the state during the 2010 Alabama Legislative Session.  On the agenda for the session was a controversial bill to allow casino-style gambling in the state. McGregor, a race track owner and casino investor, was naturally an ally of that legislation and deployed an army of lobbyists to influence the vote.  Those investigations culminated in the indictment of McGregor, his lobbyists, and four state Legislators on charges of fraud, extortion and bribery. As mentioned above, a major portion of the evidence against the McGregor Gang are dozens upon dozens of recorded phone conversations between McGregor, his lobbyist army and the Legislators they sought to compromise.

There has been some speculation that these two investigations are unrelated; that the FBI learned of the impending pay-for-votes scheme independently of the Colonial investigation. However, it’s important to note that both cases were handled from the Washington DC office and all indictments and court filings in both cases are with the Federal Court in Alexandria, Virginia.  US Attorney office sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, have said that it is customary for separate offices to forward cases to the office or region in which the possible criminal activity is believed to be taking place, and that having the court in Alexandria handle both indictments is telling.

There is further speculation that the federal agents’ interest in the Cam Newton recruiting saga is also independent. There is scant information to support this conclusion, but more than ample circumstantial information to suggest that it’s part of the probe that first started with the fall of Lowder’s banking empire. 

Some sources of unknown credibity allude to taped conversations between a current Auburn coaching staff member and one or more of the indicted conspirators, in which the coaching staff member makes much more incriminating statements. Those statements are left unrepeated until their legitimacy can be established.

This is why it appears that the Auburgeddon that appears to be looming on the Plains is so much bigger than one star quarterback and a father with his hand out. This is also why the Cam Newton investigation is certainly not an orchestrated campaign by enemies of Auburn University or jealous conference competitors. It’s not really about Cam, and it never was.  It also didn’t start when John Bond went public, or when ESPN and the New York Times ran their stories about the pay-for-play deal on November 4.  This has been going on since August 2009, and it’s not about football.  

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

CAMGATE: FBI now focusing on Cam Newton’s ties to indicted lobbyist and Auburn booster

image TMZ.com is reporting this afternoon that the FBI’s investigation into CamGate has turned its focus on Milton McGregor, the wealthy Auburn alumnus, booster and lobbyist.

 McGregor was indicted early last month, along with 11 other lobbyists and state legislators, following a wide ranging investigation into political corruption.

Earlier this week, the FBI interviewed John Bond, the former Mississippi State Quarterback who first revealed that he had been approached by someone offering the star player’s services for cash.

via the TMZ story:


According to sources connected to the probe ... FBI agents looking into the Newton recruiting controversy are also asking about Milton McGregor -- a dog track owner arrested last month for allegedly bribing Alabama politicians to vote pro gambling.

We're told agents asked someone connected to the Newton case if he was familiar with McGregor or the bribery scandal.

It's unclear what, if any, direct connection McGregor has to Newton. Back in 2008, McGregor did donate a million bucks toward construction of a new arena at Auburn.

McGregor did not return a call for comment.


McGregor is also closely tied with Bobby Lowder, CEO of the failed Colonial BancGroup, which went belly-up in 2009 and became the largest bank failure of the year.  Lowder is a long standing member of the Auburn University Board of Trustees and has been accused of meddling in (even micromanaging) affairs at the university.

Another day, another bombshell.

For those who might question TMZ’s credibility, remember that it was the site that first revealed the FBI’s interest in the scandal. It’s also the site that broke the Tiger Woods story.

START Stopped? Kyl fires torpedo at US-Russia arms pact

image It doesn’t look like Obama’s key issue in the lame duck session is going to get off to a good… START.  Senator John Kyl fired a likely lethal warhead into the pact’s prospects before January. Though the national media likes to point to the New START Treaty as Obama’s “signature foreign policy accomplishment,” treaties require ratification by two-thirds of the US Senate so nothing is “accomplished” unless the President proceeds with negotiations he thinks will pass the upper chamber.

Republican and Democrats in the Senate had reservations about the deal, but the stubborn plow mule plugged ahead anyway, and came back with a deal that faces little bipartisan support in the current Congress and is certain to see a long, slow death in the 112th.


With a terse statement, Sen. Jon Kyl dealt a major setback to President Barack Obama’s efforts to improve ties with Russia and to his broader strategy for reducing nuclear arms worldwide. The treaty, known as New START, had been seen as one of Obama’s top foreign policy accomplishments.

Without the support of Kyl, the leading Republican voice on the treaty, Democrats have little hope of securing at least eight Republican votes — the minimum they would need for ratification in the current Senate.

Kyl’s position, unless reversed, would delay the vote until the newly elected Senate, with an expanded Republican minority, has been sworn in in January. Democrats would then need the support of at least 14 Republicans.

The White House has been trying to avoid that fate, knowing that ratification could slip out of reach in the face of opposition to the treaty from most Republicans and an increasingly partisan political environment in Washington.

At a minimum, that probably would set the treaty back for months, because Republicans are likely to demand new hearings in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee so that newly elected lawmakers would be briefed.


Things are going from bad to worse for Obama. His party got walloped in the November 2 midterms.  His grand tour of the Far East sent him home all but empty handed.  The liberal bastions in the House and Senate are consolidating progressive power in a smaller, more ideologically pure caucus, and he can’t seem to get any traction in the first week of what’s sure to be a short lame duck session.

Smelling more and more like a one-and-done President, ain’t he?

Alvin Greene for President!

 Go, Alvin! GO!

In an interview outside a Columbia, S.C. courthouse – where he was being tried for allegedly showing pornographic material to a college-aged girl – Greene said he would sue the Columbia Free-Times newspaper if he read an account of the legal proceedings.
Instead Greene suggested the media focus on his presidential potential before claiming to be the "greatest person ever."
“I’m the next president,” Greene said. “I’ll be 35 … just before November, so I was born to be president. I’m the man. I’m the man. I’m the man. Greene’s the man. I’m the man. I’m the greatest person ever. I was born to be president. I’m the man, I’m the greatest individual ever.”
According the Free-Times account, Greene's lawyers were supposed to show to court at 9:30 a.m. and still had not arrived at the court by 2:30 p.m. Greene indicated he wanted to plead "not guilty" to the charges as well as a jury trial, which Assistant Solicitor Andrew Rogers said would not begin until after the holidays.

Why is his defense team not using an insanity plea?
Maybe it’s because he’s completely serious. Hey, he managed to not only get on the ballot for the Democrat US Senate primary, he won the nomination.  Handily.
Who’s to say he couldn’t put together a national network of fundraisers, caucus goers and primary voters and make a serious run at Obama in the 2012 primary?
Heh…

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

BREAKING: NCAA and SEC “fast tracking” the Cam Newton investigation

Keep in mind that “fast tracking” in NCAA terms could mean that they wrap everything up in four months, rather than the four years it took to hammer USC.  But the fast track is better than the slow track, isn’t it?

On ESPN’s College Football Live Program, the show’s Jesse Palmer confirmed that the NCAA and the SEC were both moving quickly; that decisions could be made as early as this week; and Palmer also said that this “could open up the SEC West race again,” and that an “undefeated LSU” could reach the SEC Championship Game.

Keep in mind that LSU has lost only once—to Auburn.  If the NCAA and the conference are truly contemplating what Palmer is suggesting, it means that they are at least considering vacating wins.

Palmer is incorrect though, in that a vacated win does not translate into a victory for LSU.  However, the vacated win would propel LSU into the title game, if they win out.

Mother of God

In other, related news today, the FBI interviewed former Mississippi State player John Bond, one of the first characters to appear in this two-week old saga. But what’s important to note is this:


Bond's attorney, Phil Abernethy, wrote in an e-mail Tuesday that John Bond met with federal and state investigators and "cooperated fully with both agencies," according to the Associated Press.


“Both agencies” means that this is part of a coordinated investigation spanning multiple jurisdictions.  These things don’t just pop up in response to internet rumor and media speculation.  In fact, the feds have been snooping around Auburn for a while now. 

Remember this?


image As much as Lowder has already lost, he could still lose much more. A slew of class-action suits have been filed by both Colonial shareholders and former employees that charge Colonial with reckless and dishonest conduct and name Lowder as a primary defendant.

One thing that seems clear is that Colonial Bank, led by Lowder, binged on the real estate bubble probably as much as or more than any sizable bank in the country, making dozens of acquisitions to get into fast-growing markets such as Nevada, Atlanta, and especially Florida, and concentrating more than 85% of its loan portfolio in real estate.

Perhaps most worrying for Lowder is an investigation by the FBI and the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program into Colonial's so-called warehouse-lending business.

Colonial applied for $550 million in TARP funds last fall but was never cleared to receive a bailout. On Aug. 3, just 11 days before regulators shut down Colonial, agents raided the bank's offices in downtown Orlando, where the warehouse lending was managed, and spent hours carting away boxes of documents.


Or, how about this?


Thus far in 2010, 287 banks have been seized by the FDIC. The federal insurance fund has had to cough up almost $12.7 billion to make depositors whole after the banks were seized. Know which was the biggest bank that went down last? It was Lowder's Colonial Banc Group. Lowder also had several of his Auburn trustee buddies and friends sitting on the board of Colonial. They included Jimmy Rane, Pat Dye. Another major stockholder was casino owner Milton McGregor who was talked into taking on another $13 million in shares just months before the bank failed.

The late John Miller, also on the AU board, was the primary attorney for Lowder’s bank and was paid millions. Trustee Paul Spina, who, another former board member, was associated with Lowder’s bank in a lesser capacity. Former trustee Earlon McWhorter, a contractor/builder, also found a friendly banking experience at Colonial where he also borrowed millions.

The late Jimmy Samford, who once headed Auburn trustees, maintained an office in Lowder's building in Montgomery where he engaged in lobbying for Lowder and the bank. The current head of the trustees is John Blackwell who has borrowed millions from Colonial. Ditto for Sen. Lowell Barron, a former AU trustee and the most powerful man in the Alabama Senate.


Sports fans, this appears to be much, much bigger than just a great quarterback with a father who was probably looking to profit from his son’s athletic talents.  The feds started looking into Bobby Lowder’s financial dealings because they thought he might have fudged the books on his bank’s TARP application.

Then, apparently, they came across Lowder & Company’s dealings with the recent investigation and indictment of legislators and lobbyists in connection with the alleged “pay-for-vote” scandal on gambling in Alabama.

Then, apparently, they became interested in the Cam Newton scandal because maybe, just maybe, some of Colonial Bancgroup’s capital just may have been involved in paying players at Auburn.

Now, there is a coordinated investigation going on, spanning multiple jurisdictions and investigators sharing information.  If there is a shred of evidence that Colonial money found it's way into the pockets of past or present football players, or their families or associates, we will have a scandal that makes the USC – Bush fiasco look like a garden variety cookie jar robbery.

BREAKING: Charlie Rangel convicted of 11 of 13 counts of violating House ethics

Breaking at 12:00 EST, the House Ethics Subcommittee has convicted Congressman Charlie Rangel of 12 11 of 13 counts of violating House Ethics code.  The subcommittee reached consensus on all but the last count, which was merged into a single count by the subcommittee.

His fate is now in the hands of the full Ethics Committee, which will decide the penalties to be applied.

Full Story Here.

Moonbat Civil War: The Black Caucus deserting Pelosi?

image Via The Hill Blog. In the ongoing internal struggle to determine who should lead the Democrats through their mandatory journey through the wilderness of electoral defeat, battles are being fought on several different fronts.  In the weeks after the election, shell-shocked Blue Dogs voiced near unanimous distaste over the election of soon-to-be former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as House Minority Leader.

Pelosi’s announcement that she’d be seeking the leadership position pushed the number two and number three men in the House, Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn, into a potential battle for minority whip. Hoyer of course is rich white dude; Clyburn is a black man from a poverty stricken southern state (it’s not really, but that’s their meme so let’s run with it).

To resolve and avoid such a nasty fight, Pelosi agreed to create a new position in the Democrat Caucus and name Clyburn to it, allowing him to keep a leadership position.  But the Congressional Black Caucus is apparently still not satisfied, and is suggesting their caucus may not support Pelosi.


Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), the chairwoman of the black caucus, told The Hill on Monday evening (site down) that she was "reserving judgment" about Pelosi's leadership candidacy.

The CBC is particularly looking to study the deal Pelosi had cut over the weekend to keep Clyburn in the third-ranking position of the House Democratic leadership by creating a new position to which the outgoing whip would have to be elected. CBC members had hoped Clyburn would remain in the position of whip, the second-ranking job in the minority. Under the deal created by Pelosi, outgoing Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) would become the new whip.


Overnight, this story, confirming the first, broke at CNN.com:


The Congressional Black Caucus has decided to withhold its approval for the House Democratic leadership team, denying Speaker Nancy Pelosi full support of the 42-member organization as she campaigns to remain leader.

After a nearly two hour long meeting on Monday night, chairwoman Barbara Lee of California said the group only will endorse caucus member James Clyburn of South Carolina for a leadership position. The causus first wants to know what his role will be in the Democratic leadership before backing the full slate.

"We fully support our current Whip, Mr. Clyburn, for the number three position and we are currently reserving judgment on the entire package until we see what the actual portfolio entails, in terms of responsibilities," Lee said.


If there are still enough Blue Dogs willing to walk out on Pelosi, and if the CBC presents a united no-support front, Madam Speaker’s days in the leadership of the Democrat Caucus may be limited.

When the Caucus does its private vote (possibly as early as this week), it will be interesting to see who emerges as House Minority Leader.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Columnist: Cam Newton will be declared ineligible

image With everyone lawyering up and clamming up, news about the Thousand Paper Cut Soap Opera that has become the Cameron Newton affair at Auburn has become a series of blog posts and online staff reports citing “sources close to… .”

Something might shake loose later this week, as folks begin to speculate about the contents of the conversation(s) federal investigators will have tomorrow with Mr. Bond (and possibly others). There could be some squirming and someone trying to get back out in front of things.

Trust me folks…  If the Department of Justice really wants to make someone like Martha Stewart do time, they’ll find whatever witnesses and evidence they need to do so.

Because of that, no one wants to get fingered as the fall guy so anyone with enough junk in their trunk to take the fall for the others might turn "state's evidence," so to speak. Wednesday and Thursday might be interesting. But after that, I don't expect to hear a whole lot for a while.

But occasionally, we’ll see opinion columns like the one Clay Travis has penned for NCAA Fanhouse today.


Let's get this out of the way early,: Cam Newton is going to be ruled ineligible to play college football at some point. That ruling will mean that every game he participated would not count as an Auburn victory. This isn't a question of if, it's a question of when.

It might take 10 days, it might take two years, but the ineligibility ruling is coming. No reasonable person can believe that Cecil Newton, Sr. didn't solicit funds from Mississippi State for his son to play football there. (Note, I'm not even considering whether Auburn paid anything for Cam's services. Even if the NCAA can never prove that -- which it may one day be able to prove as well -- there is no doubt that the Newton family's actions in relation to Cam's recruitment to Mississippi State are sufficient enough to rule him ineligible under NCAA rules).

In the meantime Auburn fans can continue to bury their heads in the sand and blame everyone but the Newton family for the plague of Biblical proportions that is about to rain down on their football program. No one else has any blame here. Not the media reports that have been accurate, not the rival school that turned you in for playing an ineligible player, not anyone else. You can blame shift all you want, but ultimately your rationales are going to fail.

That's the central takeaway from this column -- Newton's ineligibility -- but this story is so big and the tentacles are so far-reaching that it extends well beyond Cam Newton. That's why we're doing the unbelievable, eschewing all other football that took place on Saturday and devoting the entirety of the Starting 11 to the Newton imbroglio.

We're going to hit you upside the head with the most pertinent perspective that isn't anywhere else on the Internet, television or radio. Let's roll.


Go read Travis’ whole post. He provides the relevant part of the NCAA statute that so many Cambots have whistled right past in their parsing and nit-picking of the voluminous NCAA rulebook.

But most importantly, he absolutely destroys the narrative that because someone merely talked about / solicited / suggested pay for play, Newton is fine.  That is just so much more parsing and nit-picking.  People think that because the NCAA has a voluminous rulebook, they have to play by it.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is false.  In the the eyes of the NCAA, you have to play by the rulebook.

The NCAA plays by its own.

That means If the NCAA wants one rule to apply while not the others, so be it. If the NCAA wants one rule to not apply while applying any of the others, so be it. If the NCAA wants none of the rules or precedents to apply while inflicting a long, excruciatingly painful investigation and hearings process, they just do.

Then, they hammer you.

Travis’ column says the hammerin’ is a’comin and there’s not a whole lot Auburn can do about it, given the time frame and stakes involved. It also says that Auburn is apparently “all in” with the guy.  They’ve looked at their options, which are:

  1. Sit him, and deal with the consequences of having to vacate every win he’s played in to date while likely losing to Alabama and/or South Carolina in the SEC Championship Game thus losing a shot at the BCS National Championship, or
  2. Play him and deal with the consequences of having to eventually vacate every win he’s played in to date while having a shot at beating Alabama; South Carolina in the SEC Championship Game and whoever shows up in Glendale and rolling the dice on the “Cam didn’t know so it’s Ok” defense during the long, arduous and painful NCAA investigation process.

Auburn is going with Option #2. Travis says that defense will fail and I agree.

A third option, which existed up until Newton took the field against Georgia last Saturday, was to sit Newton, hire the best private investigators money can buy, and have them find every bit of evidence they could that cleared Newton before the Iron Bowl.  Losing to Georgia or winning a close game in such a big rivalry would have hurt, but not destroyed, their chances at the BCS National Championship if they beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa and went on to win the SEC Championship Game.  That option was never exercised, so now Auburn University is playing the hand they’ve been dealt.

And they’re all in.

Sorry Charlie: Rangel walks out of Committee hearing after being denied an extension

image I caught parts of Congressman Charlie Rangel’s pleas before the House Ethics Subcommittee hearing today.  While I didn’t catch the gavel-to-gavel coverage, the stuff I saw impressed me greatly.

After that performance, Rangel should be nominated for and be a slam dunk to win a Daytime Emmy Award for best dramatic performance for his “Poor Me” Soap Opera shtick.  Nobody does it better.

Immediately after his lamentation that he had no representation, that he was out of money and that life just wasn’t fair, dammit.  He excused himself and left the chamber.


Embattled Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-New York, walked out of his House ethics subcommittee hearing Monday, complaining that he has not had sufficient time to hire a new legal team to respond to corruption allegations.

The subcommittee rejected Rangel's request to delay the hearing until a new defense team is assembled.

Rangel faces 13 allegations, include failing to pay taxes on a home in the Dominican Republic, misuse of a rent-controlled apartment for political purposes and improper use of government mail service and letterhead.

"Fifty years of public service is on the line. And I truly believe that I am not being treated fairly," he declared. "I deserve a lawyer."


Shocka!

Call me unsympathetic.  People in public office misuse their position and power a little bit. It’s human nature, just like everyone traveling on the freeway exceed the speed limit by 5-10 mph, depending on the eagerness of the local constabulary. Just because “everyone does it” doesn’t make it right, but if we had to stop every minor transgression or every technical violation of the rules, whole systems grind to a halt whilst people are charged, tried and penalized. It’s those first class pains in the ass who routinely go 15-20 mph over the limit while weaving through traffic and giving fellow travelers the finger that everyone wants to see get the Blue Light Special.  And, in this case, Rangel’s getting it.

By now, you’ve already seen the pictures of Rangel passed out on the beach. The imagery became the iconic representation of the Harlem Icon.  Shirtless, probably drunk, with not a care in the world except where his next payola was coming from.

Now, he’s mangled his own defense and used money from a prohibited PAC to pay for legal representation, compounding his ethics case with still more ethical lapses.  No one is this stupid, or this arrogant, by accident.

No, this kind of pathetic behavior is a finely honed, well practiced craft. 

Media Catfight: Olbermann vs. Koppel, hilarity will ensue

Via Newsbusters.org

imageimage The Washington Post ran an op-ed penned by Ted Koppel yesterday, in which he bemoaned the transformation of television news into “a cable news universe that celebrates the opinions of [Keith] Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly.”

The overarching message of Koppel’s opinions is that “news for profit” does not bode well for the future of the republic, because the drive for ratings and profitability drives Fox, MSNBC and other broadcast media outlets to produce news programming that informs less and instead simply reinforces the partisan opinions and beliefs of the audience.

Only one of those mentioned however, has decided to hunker down and return fire: Keith Olbermann.  As Noel Sheppard reports in his Newsbusters.org article last night Olbermann posted the following to his Twitter account:

FYI Special Comment tomorrow night: Koppel, False Equivalence, and his part in the real "death of news" [sic]

What’s more hilarious—a legacy journalist mourning the death of “objective news,” a death he and his generation helped to bring about, or a new media “journalist” castigating the legacy journalist for fingering new media journalists?

Koppel and his crew steered this ship to the left from the 1970’s through the early 1990’s.  When Fox News was founded and launched in 1996, the center-right majority of the viewership had options that previous generations did not.  They did what any fed-up television audience would do—they changed channels.

The left’s domination of the media is coming to an end.  They are being forced to compete in an open marketplace of ideas, and they’re losing badly.  The Olbermann-Koppel catfight is a finger-pointing blame game between those who caused the death of objective journalism and those who thought they could profit from it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Around the web: What people are saying about the Cam Newton scandal

Sporting News: Yes, Cecil Newton’s apparent actions and Auburn’s mysterious secrecy have helped hijack the college football season. They’ve laced the frenzied joy in this stadium Saturday with a tinge of sadness. That sadness could, and with each day seemingly will, overtake the joy down the road.  So stop the insanity, Auburn and Chizik and Cecil Newton. Start talking in public. The world, and especially one of your founding fathers, demands honesty and truthfulness. It’s required for folks to believe in you again.

Draft Board Insider: The bottom line on all this for me is, a lot of adults who knew better did some stuff they shouldn’t have.  The divide is where you think it’s Newton and his people or the people who are reporting it.  My gut tells me that even though this is a blatant headhunting attack by these universities and media, it’s based on the truth, and that trumps any personal agendas.  No matter how badly you want to discredit the University of Florida or Kenny Rogers, or whomever in the media has been reporting all this, if it turns out to be true, then nothing else is more important. 

image Dennis Dodd, CBSSports.com: Get it out, Auburn. Get it all out now.  Party your behinds off. Burn the mother to the ground. T.P. the town if you want. Live 'til you Dye. War Cam Eagle and all that. Saturday might be all you have.

Tony Barnhart, CBSSports.com: No, the biggest obstacle the Tigers face in the next 13 days is the culture that is the SEC -- specifically, the state of Alabama. The subject of Newton's status and who might have broken rules will be pursued the way a dog gnaws on an old soup bone -- relentlessly. Despite the fact that we are now a week and a half into this story and there has yet to be any official allegation that Newton or Auburn broke any rules, there will be no relief from the toxic atmosphere that exists in this part of the world at this time of year.

Fresno Bee: (seriously) College football fans can only hope Auburn let Cameron Newton play Saturday because school officials truly believe he's eligible and not because they're full of chest-puffing defiance. Guess we'll find out.

Glenn Guilbeau: What happens if Auburn continues to win out and finishes in the top two of the final BCS standings on Dec. 5, and then quarterback Cam Newton is declared ineligible by the NCAA before the Jan. 10 BCS national championship game in Glendale, Ariz.?

Don Borst, FOX Sports: Just a short while ago, the Tigers were a gutsy, come-from-behind ballclub with a new-age college football superman whose coach was invoking favors from God on national TV, and they were positioning themselves to dethrone defending national champion Alabama. … And now, suddenly, at best they are the black hats, absorbing the arrows of jealous rivals. At worst, they are all that is wrong with college football.

Going on trial over violating ethics, Charlie Rangel violates ethics to pay for his defense

Rangel is acting like a man who probably realizes he won’t have a job much longer. The NYPost.com is reporting that Rangel “raided” his own National Leadership PAC for a total of $393,000 to pay for his defense in the upcoming House ethics trial, which begins this week.

Legal experts have said that this violates House ethics policy.


Leadership PACs are typically used by politicians to donate money to other candidates.

But Rangel seems to have run afoul of House ethics rules. Lawmakers are generally allowed to use campaign cash to pay their lawyers, but this is limited to money in their personal campaign committee and they must ask permission first, the campaign-finance lawyer said.

"The only campaign funds that a member may use to pay for congressional expenses are funds of his or her principal campaign committee -- not the funds of a leadership PAC or a multicandidate committee," according to the House Ethics Manual.

Legal fees tied to a campaign, election or performance of official duties are considered congressional expenses.

"Accepting money or payment for legal expenses from any other source, including a PAC, would be a gift and is barred by the House rules," the lawyer said.


It boggles the mind that a corrupt politician, going on trial for a host of transgressions of Congress’ ethics rules, would breach Congress’ ethics rules to pay for his defense.

Or, does it?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

BOMBSHELL: Cecil Newton admits seeking money from Mississippi State

Every day, the Cam Newton saga gets a new twist.  Late last night, an Atlanta TV station said that Cecil Newton, the star quarterback’s father, has admitted that he sought money for his son’s services from Mississippi State.


CamSmileCecil Newton Sr., the father of Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, has admitted to seeking money from a former Mississippi State player in exchange for his son signing with the school, according to a TV station in Atlanta.

A person told a reporter at WSB-TV that Newton Sr. said he received no money and the conversations did not involve Mississippi State officials. Newton Sr. also stressed that Cam Newton or his mother was unaware of the discussions.

The story is the latest piece to the saga that has unfolded in the last nine days.


If true, this would almost certainly doom Cam Newton’s eligibility as a college student-athlete.

Auburn University has stood by their Heisman-hopeful sensation, but late yesterday switched to a “no comment” response regarding his status for today’s game against the University of Georgia, leading to speculation that his playing status would be a “game time” decision.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Cameron Newton’s status likely a game time announcement

Via Tracy Wolfson, CBS Sports’ Sideline Reporter posting on Twitter:

WolfsonTweet-11-12-2010

 

This means that no one will learn of Cam Newton’s status until Auburn and Georgia take the field tomorrow at Jordan-Hare Stadium.  Game time is 2:30 CST and will be televised by CBS.

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock or stuck in a Chilean mine for the last several days, Newton’s status came into question late last week when ESPN.com and the New York Times posted stories online regarding an alleged pay-for-play scheme during Newton’s recruitment last year.

Each day during the soap opera, a new twist or news item has dropped, ranging from allegations of academic fraud to the FBI looking into possible charges regarding extortion and a human trafficking angle that broke on this site Wednesday. Yesterday, one of the central figures in the scandal—an agent named Kenny Rogers—went on the record with ESPN Radio and fingered Cam Newton’s father as the one who wanted cash for Cam’s services.

If this is true, Newton’s eligibility is gone and if Auburn University knew about the scheme and played him anyway, or if Auburn University or one of its athletic interests (i.e., a “booster”) steered cash to Newton’s father, then Auburn is… well…

 

 

 

AuburnToast

UPDATE: AL.com says he’s playing, “barring any last minute decision to the contrary.”  That’s a money quote, in my book.  It means that no one will know for sure if Newton is playing until he actually plays…

UPDATE II: Yahoo Sports tweets that “NCAA has made Auburn aware of potential eligibility issue. Now Auburn decides whether to risk playing him. Their risk.”

Somebody in the compliance department needs to make a call.  If there’s any question whatsoever about a student-athlete’s eligibility, you sit that player until the matter is resolved. There has to be a grown-up somewhere on the Auburn campus…

Media Assault: Proof that 2010 was the Year of the Conservative Woman

image Want proof that 2010 was the year of the conservative woman? Look no further than the Culture and Media Institute’s report that the mainstream media mounted a full scale assault on the conservative women who led the Tea Party’s Tsunami on November 2.

Conservative women shatter the liberal narrative.  Women are supposed to be liberal.  They’re supposed to be Democrats.  The women of 2010 are precisely the kind of success story that the feminists of the left are supposed to be all for.  They are multitasking monsters of success—managing successful careers, successful small businesses, successful marriages, successful families and successful political campaigns.

The problem that the left and its propaganda wing have with all this success is that it’s producing conservative women instead of liberal ones.  This comes as no surprise to the right—people who are successful due to their own efforts tend to be politically conservative. But it comes as a stone cold shocka to the left, whose pigeon-holing view of the world holds that people of certain demographics are expected to behave in a certain way.  Blacks, Hispanics and women are supposed to be liberal, dammit!


Earlier in 2010, CBS reported that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was ridiculing the Republican Party over its women. “As Democrats head into what is expected to be a tough election year for them, the party says it has a solid lead over Republicans in one respect – its number of women candidates.”

As it turned out, the GOP fielded about 100 female House candidates, and ended up expanding the number of women in its House ranks by more than 40 percent. In California, it ran strong conservative women candidates for governor and the Senate. In Nevada, Sharron Angle ran a tough campaign against the sitting Senate Majority Leader. And it was remarked more than once that women were driving much of the Tea Party enthusiasm. It was the “Year of the Republican Woman,” not that the media would let on.

When they weren’t ignoring it, liberal journalists were flailing about in attempts to understand and explain the meaning of conservative women’s sudden rise in politics. After all, as Taylor Marsh wrote in The Huffington Post Sept. 30, “This is what the Republican Tea Party stands for today, the marginalizing of women on the most extreme terms. Something all Independents thinking of joining their ranks should note.” On the same site, this time on Election Day, writer Marcia G. Yermin wondered, “Why does the ‘Mama Grizzly’ phenomenon, and right-wing women candidates staking a claim to the feminist legacy, leave me both incredulous and aggravated?”

From the Daily Caller story that covered this report:

image The report’s author, Matt Philbin, told The Daily Caller that many media outlets, but specifically Politico and MSNBC, have a double standard when it comes to how they report news regarding conservative female politicians as opposed to liberal female politicians.

“She’s [Bachmann] dangerous to them. I think, like Sarah Palin, they find her dangerous. Women are supposed to be liberal,” Philbin said. “They’re supposed to vote Democrat, just as blacks and Latinos are supposed to vote Democrat. Having a strong conservative woman that voices conservative concerns and understands conservative economics is very disconcerting to the left and to the media.”

Debbie Lee, a member of the Tea Party Express and founder of America’s Mighty Warriors, a non-profit that helps families of fallen soldiers, said she agrees that the media is harsher on conservative women than liberal women.

“I think we’ve seen a huge prejudice with attacks against conservative women. We don’t see that with the liberal, left-leaning women that are in there,” Lee told TheDC. “I think it is a pattern, a concerning pattern, when the media continues to attack conservative women, but, on the other side, lets things slide and doesn’t have the same consistency [for liberal women].”


Philbin’s analysis is particularly insightful.  The left and the media are, quite frankly, scared witless of people like Bachmann and Palin. Because they also shatter the left’s demographics=politics narrative, people like Allen West and Tim Scott are also a threat. But perhaps no one shatters the narrative better than New Mexico’s Susana Martinez and South Carolina’s Nikki Haley.  These two are minority women, and they’re GASP! conservatives!

Having been married to a conservative woman for more than two decades, one of the things I’ve seen from this group surprises me the least, but shocks the left:  They don’t take the smears and media heat in silence and submission. When these women are attacked, they fight back in ways that would make a “papa grizzly” whimper and slink away.

image Sarah Palin’s influence has grown as the result of the media attacks on her.  You can expect women like Michele Bachmann, Nikki Haley and Susana Martinez to see their influence grow as well.  The more the media and the left assault these people, the more others like them—and there are millions and millions more like them—see the smears as an attack on their own values.

A thirty- to fifty-something woman, having established herself through successful endeavor after successful endeavor, isn’t simply going to sit idly and have her conservative sisterhood derided and ridiculed by white liberals like Chris Mathews and Keith Olbermann.  Everything these women have accomplished, they’ve accomplished through their own determination and hard work. They’re not going to let the left dictate their behavior to them any more than my wife lets me dictate her behavior.

These women have achieved success because they are principled, disciplined and determined.  The attacks mounted by the left and its propaganda mouthpieces at MSNBC, CNN and Politico show the threat these women are to their narrative, and show that 2010 was indeed the Year of the Conservative Woman.

You go, girls!

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