My colleague Adam Serwer reported this morning on one of the more bizarre domestic terror plots in recent memory—the alleged plot by four senior citizens in north Georgia to produce and spread ricin and botulinium toxin in Atlanta and Washington, DC, in order to kill millions of people and "save the Constitution." (Because that's not strange enough, the plot was hatched at a Waffle House.)
The whole plot is pretty ridiculous, but what's also interesting is the men behind it. The affidavit names four individuals, Samuel Crump, Frederick Roberts, Ray Adams, and Dan Roberts. According to his Facebook page, Crump is a big fan of a number of conservative grassroots and astroturf organizations, including Americans for Prosperity. He's also interested in "anything about guns," and he's really offended by the concept of paying a 5 cent tax on plastic grocery bags:
Goldline International, the California precious metals retailer promoted by Glenn Beck and other right-wing radio hosts, was formally charged with 19 criminal counts—including grand theft by false pretenses, false advertising, and conspiracy—on Tuesday by the Santa Monica City Attorney's Office. The criminal complaint also implicates Goldline CEO Mark Albarian, along with two other company executives and two salespeople.
The charges detailed in the complaint support what MoJo's Stephanie Mencimer first reported in 2010: Using aggressive telemarketing tactics, Goldline employees routinely pressured customers to purchase expensive coins with mark-ups so steep that it was very unlikely the consumer would ever make his money back. The company racked up a long list of complaints with the Federal Trade Commission, and at one point was sanctioned by the state of Missouri. But Beck and other endorsers (including liberal talker Ed Schultz) lent an air of legitimacy to the whole operation, sowing fears of a total economic collapse to help make the pitch for Swiss Francs. Beck's pitch went a step further, arguing that in the event of a total financial meltdown, the government would confiscate gold bullion—meaning you should invest your money in coins instead.
You can check out the full complaint here:
The charges today are the culmination of a yearlong investigation from the city attorney's office. Each of the counts carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison or a $10,000 fine.
"The company will vigorously contest the allegations," Brian Crumbaker, Goldline's Executive Vice President, said in a statement emailed to ABC News early Wednesday. "We believe Goldline has industry best-practices in customer disclosures enabling the most informed decisions."
Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) prays to his false horse god.
You would think that securing $43 million in tax credits for a to-scale replica of Noah's Ark would be enough to protect Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) from allegations that he's secretly some sort of America-hating pagan who takes his policy proposals straight from the malaria-infested mouth of the great swamp god, Mordu. You would be wrong. Beshear, who is heavily favored to win re-election this November, is taking heat from his Republican opponent for participating in a Hindu "ground blessing" ceremony last weekend at a groundbreaking for a new Indian-owned Elizabethtown factory. Here's how Republican Senate president and gubernatorial nominee David Williams put it:
He's there participating with Hindu priests, participating in a religious ceremony. They can say what they want to. He's sitting down there with his legs crossed, participating in Hindu prayers with a dot on his forehead with incense burning around him. I don't know what the man was thinking...
If I'm a Christian, I don't participate in Jewish prayers. I'm glad they do that. I don't participate in Hindu prayers. I don't participate in Muslim prayers. I don't do that. To get down and get involved and participate in prayers to these polytheistic situations, where you have these Hindu gods that they are praying to, doesn't appear to me to be in line with what a governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky ought to be doing...
Yet between his not being pro-life and his support for gambling and now getting down and doing Hindu prayers to these Hindu gods, I think his grandfathers wouldn't be very pleased with Steve Beshear.
Williams, per the Lexington Herald-Leader, went on to dismiss charges that he was demeaning Hinduism by referring to it as "idolatry," telling the paper that if anyone had offended Hindus, it was Beshear. Kentucky politicians have a proud—and bipartisan—history of making absurd allegations about their opponents' faith. Last fall, Democratic Attorney General Jack Conway accused Sen. Rand Paul of worshipping the false-God* Aqua Buddha (a nod to a prank Paul had played in college).
Mike Toomey (left) and Texas Governor Rick Perry go way back.
Things could be going better for Rick Perry's presidential campaign. He probably wishes he hadn't gone into a total free-fall in the national polls (and in Iowa), for instance. Maybe he regrets giving a speech in New Hampshire on Friday in which he sounded like he'd just shotgunned a bottle of Robitussin. But there's a reason Republicans still believe he has a shot to beat Mitt Romney: The Texas governor has a lot of money in the bank, and just as importantly, he's got a lot of friends with a lot of money in the bank.
Perry has not one but two super-PACs working on his behalf—dark money groups that can accept unlimited donations (including from corporate sources)—the most notable of which is Make Us Great Again, founded by Perry's former chief of staff and long-time friend, Austin mega-lobbyist Mike Toomey. Make Us Great Again has a goal of raising and spending $55 million on Perry's behalf during the primaries alone, which is a lot. And now it's on the air with its first set of television ads—making it the first super PAC to hit airwaves during the Republican primary:
Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren is expected to win the Democratic nomination to challenge Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.)
Next year's Massachusetts Senate race, between Republican Sen. Scott Brown and Democratic Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren, is shaping up to be one of the most-expensive, most-watched races of the cycle. As we've noted previously, at least one recent poll gave Warren, the architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a slight lead over Brown, who helped to gut some of the key provisions of last year's financial reform bill. Brown has $10 million in the bank; Warren raised $3 million in just her first six weeks as a candidate.
But for now, the race is something of a proxy war. Warren doesn't mention Scott Brown by name during her stump speech, choosing instead to cast her candidacy as a campaign against Washington inaction in the face of income inequality and crumbling infrastructure. Brown, for his part, has said he won't start campaigning until after New Year's. But in their absence, their surrogates are gearing up for a fight.