Bravo, Honey Maid. Nabisco shows how to stand your ground with actual courage...
w/ Brad & Desi
w/ Brad & Desi
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
|MORE BRAD BLOG 'SPECIAL COVERAGE' PAGES...|
During Thursday's Green News Report, we briefly discussed Charles Koch's claim in his Wall Street Journal op-ed this week, that he and his brother David, are using their inherited fossil-fuel millions to discredit global warming science (and other inconvenient realities), simply because they are fighting "to restore a free society and create greater well-being and opportunity for all Americans." Sure they are.
Over at the Washington Post's "Plum Line" blog, Paul Waldman has another thought on the Koch op-ed this week, which was published at virtually the same moment as the rightwing judicial activists on the U.S. Supreme Court trashed 40 years of campaign finance law in order to allow the approximately 600 Americans who had already maxed out their previously allowed $125,000 per-election-cycle donations to political candidates and parties to be "free" to give millions to candidates and parties instead.
Waldman avers that the Koch op-ed and the SCOTUS McCutcheon decision "are parts of the same effort," which, he argues convincingly, is "Nothing less than the construction of a new version of liberty."
In his WSJ piece, Koch joined a growing procession of billionaire Rightwingers recently whining aloud about their perceived persecution at the hands of...well, anyone who doesn't share their political views and who doesn't have the "freedom" to also have billions, inherited or otherwise, in their bank accounts.
"Instead of encouraging free and open debate, collectivists [ed note: apparently he means anyone who is not a Republican?] strive to discredit and intimidate opponents," Koch bemoans. "They engage in character assassination," he complains, before adding parenthetically,"(I should know, as the almost daily target of their attacks.)"
"Poor" fellow. Waldman, however, sees the Koch Agonistes very differently...
Guess who is popping the champagne cork over this week's Supreme Court ruling in McCutcheon vs. FEC, which will allow wealthy individuals to donate virtually unlimited dollars to candidates, political parties, and political action groups?
On Thursday, the radio industry newsletter Inside Radio wrote [subscription req'd] that the McCutcheon decision was "likely to boost [ad] spending" in 2014. They explain that the 2010 Citizens United decision "opened the floodgates to more dollars in politics and the result was record campaign spending on radio in 2012." They predict that the Court's ruling this week "could help spur even more spending."
In another piece this week [also subscription req'd] the newsletter trumpets:
More competitive races, combined with a greater number of outside groups that don't qualify for the lowest unit rate, have the potential to make the 2014 mid-term election cycle more ad intensive than first thought. So much so, that the analysts at Kantar Media's Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG), have boosted their political spending forecast. Kantar estimates radio could see $180 million in political ad spending by Election Day."
$180 million? That's chump change when it comes to what the television industry stands to make. Bloomberg reports that TV stations will make in excess of $2.5 billion --- with a "B" --- from political ad sales in 2014. And that's nothing compared to what they expect to make in 2016 during a Presidential race.
And of course, many, if not most of those ads mislead or outright lie to the very public in whose interest the broadcasters are licensed to serve.
Am I the only one who sees something wrong with this picture?
Overturning Citizens United and McCutcheon may take years, decades even, if it ever happens at all. But given that We the People have real power as the owners of the airwaves, I see some ways we can reduce at least some of the political ad spending, and perhaps take a lot of money out of politics...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Startlingly blunt U.N. climate report warns window of opportunity to act on climate change is closing; The Billionaire Koch Brothers are environmental freedom fighters --- according to the Koch Brothers; Texas breaks wind --- wind records, that is; PLUS: Exxon Mobil agrees 'the risk of climate change is clear' but says 'F#@K you, World! We're Exxon Mobil!'... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): 'Killer smog' in the UK; Supreme Court's campaign finance ruling is bad for Greens, good for Kochs; EPA failed to warn of cancer risk in research studies; 1/4 of Europe's bumblebees face extinction; Plowing under native US grasslands has consequences; Citigroup says 'age of renewables' has begun ... PLUS: All the positive and helpful things in the IPCC report no one will talk about ... and much, MUCH more! ...
First, I was joined by Katie Klabusich of KatieSpeak.com and Eric Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League (PLAL). Klabusich was recently "targeted" by PLAL on their website, for her work as an abortion clinic escort trying to help women seeking cancer screenings, termination of pregnancies, prenatal care or birth control as they face a gauntlet of anti-choice protesters.
Klabusich wrote an "Open Letter to Legislators From a Clinic Escort" this week at Truthout, calling for buffer zones around such clinics, so women can visit their doctor without harassment. Scheidler, who says he supports buffer zones around voting precincts, disagrees that buffer zones should be allowed around reproductive medical facilities. He also feels that his organization did not threaten Klabusich by posting her name, photo and the city where she lives and works and asking supporters to share it far and wide under the guise of "praying" for her.
It was an enlightening conversation with the two of them.
In the second part of the show, Constitutional Law expert Ian Millhiser joined me to discuss today's horrific Supreme Court ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission and the "money laundering by rich campaign donors," that Millhiser argues it will now allow.
Two totally different issues, both posing serious questions surrounding First Amendment free speech issues.
All of that, and a bit more here and there (including Desi Doyen and our "April FOX Day" Green News Report) in this week's show. Enjoy!
Download MP3 or listen online below...
Scrambling to prep for today's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio, so this will have to be quick today, but you've probably already read about the U.S. Supreme Court's horrible 5-4 decision in the McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission case by now.
If not, Andrew Kroll's explainer "The Supreme Court Just Gutted Another Campaign Finance Law. Here's What Happened." is excellent, as is Ian Millhiser's "How The Supreme Court Just Legalized Money Laundering By Rich Campaign Donors".
[Millhiser will be joining me this evening on The BradCast.]
In (incredibly) brief, the SCOTUS ruling means that aggregate limits --- put in place 40 years ago, after the Watergate scandal --- that a single person may contribute to federal candidates and political parties were found to be an unconstitutional violation of First Amendment free speech rights. While limits of contributions to individual federal candidates of $2,600 per election (that's $2,600 for a primary and another $2,600 for the general) and $5,000 to a political committee stay in place, the aggregate amount they may now give to many candidates and political parties will now be lifted.
So, where a single donor could previously give no more than $117,000 to all federal candidates and political committees during the 2012 cycle, that limit has now been entirely trashed. As the SCOTUS minority argued in the case, the ruling will now allow a single individual to give up to $3.5 million in a cycle, if they give to all federal candidates running. In turn, those candidates and political parties may now pool that money and divert it to the most needed races.
This ruling is great news, for an incredibly small number of very wealthy people. As Richard Wolf and Fredreka Schouten encapsulate it at USA Today...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: "The tide goes in, the tide goes out, never a miscommunication." --- It's our special 'April Fox Day' Edition of the Green News Report! Celebrating the anti-scientists and fossil-fueled fools at Fox "News"!...
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Hurricanes, climate risk, and bears in the woods; MN: Soil contamination leaking toxic gases into homes; Cable news mostly ignores UN climate report; Toxic coal ash poses persistent threat to US waters; WA mudslide: emergency crews face toxic challenge; White House unveils plan to reduce methane emissions; Transparent solar panels coming to a window near you ... PLUS: Flip-floppin' Bill O'Reilly forgets he was against Tesla long before he was for it ... and much, MUCH more! ...
Finally. For the first time in years, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has rolled back the mad consolidation of our public airwaves by huge corporate interests.
Today's party-line vote by commissioners is just one small step for the FCC, but it may suggest that, under its new Chair Tom Wheeler, the federal agency may once again be showing some interest in fulfilling its mission of assuring that the public airwaves actually serve the public interest...
In a tense vote, the agency closed a loophole that has allowed companies like Raycom, Sinclair and Tribune to evade federal ownership limits. The industry calls these loopholes "joint service agreements," but we call them "covert consolidation" because they allow companies to control as many as four TV stations in the same market. Companies that have exploited the JSA loophole have gutted newsrooms and often broadcast the exact same newscast on multiple stations in the same community - if they run any news at all.
In the wake of this decision, some companies will be forced to sell off stations that violate the new rule.
In addition, the JSA loophole was one of many. The Department of Justice has pushed the FCC to close all loopholes and a recent statement from the FCC's media bureau suggests it's primed to scrutinize future deals.
The LA Times reports the new rules "will greatly reduce and potentially bring to an end the popular practice of business partnerships between competing local television stations."
Mind you, many of the corporations who have been abusing the rules by partnering to avoid competing with other local stations are the very same corporations who pretend to be in favor of so-called "free market competition."
The Times goes on to note that "FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said such partnerships have been abused by many broadcasters who have used so-called joint sales agreements to get around the regulatory agency's rules limiting the number of television stations a broadcaster can own."
"Broadcasters will have two years to unwind their joint sales agreement arrangements or can file a request for a waiver and try to make the case that the partnership serves the public interest," the paper reports. Public advocates like Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron, who otherwise lauded today's vote, still has "concerns about how the FCC will apply waiver standards."
Still, Aaron said in a statement issued today, the new rules amount to very encouraging news from the FCC for a change...
Well, this is fun. Today, a report out from the LA Times details a wide range of sources finding that "at least 9.5 million previously uninsured people have gotten health insurance since Obamacare started."
That's 9.5 million Americans who previously had no reliable access to health care now having such access thanks to the various provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA or "Obamacare").
But don't tell, Fox "News". They are busy with their trademark misleading graphics today...
Yes, they do that sort of thing quite a bit. Always fun.
And, before we hear complaints from progressives, for those don't recall, while we've been very critical of the ACA over the years (we prefer a single-payer, "Medicare for All" time plan, versus the obsenity of private insurers profiteering off of sick people), as we noted late last year (when the ACA allowed me sign up for a new plan with my same insurer and save $300/month or $3,600/year in the bargain), more people now having access to health care --- the overall goal of the Republican-conceived "Obamacare" law --- is certainly a good thing, no matter how one slices it. That's true even if it's bad law (and it is.)
But, as noted, don't tell Fox. For that matter, don't tell the Democrats who, for some unknown reason (perhaps because they are delicate, quivering, easily-intimidated flowers?) still haven't figured out how to run for office on their positive accomplishments, such as the ACA.
UPDATE 8:59pm PT: Moments before midnight on the east coast, just before the March 31, 2014 deadline for signing up for health care insurance without a penalty under the ACA, AP is reporting that the "Obamacare" health care exchange is "on track to sign up more than 7 million Americans for health insurance." That number was the original target set by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) when the bill was first passed into law and has been seen as the administration's initial goal for signups. That target was scaled back to 6 million after the disastrous opening of the website late last year (despite the misleading Fox "News" graphic indicating otherwise above). But if the AP is right, ACA has now exceeded its initial target...
A U.S. District judge has ruled that Republican legislators in North Carolina must provide documents revealing their work in passing and implementing a radical election reform bill which, when it was passed last year, was described by opponents as the "worse-than-anyone-would-have-ever-imagined voter suppression bill."
Late last week, U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Joi Elizabeth Peake issued an Order [PDF] in which she rejected a blanket refusal by NC Republican state legislators to provide any documents that relate to the question of whether the sweeping legislation known as the Voter Information Reform Act ("VIVA" aka HB 589) amounted to nothing less than a racially-motivated attempt to deprive African-Americans of their constitutional right to vote.
As we observed when the law was hastily enacted last year, among the law's myriad ways of making registration and voting much more difficult, VIVA includes "draconian polling place Photo ID restrictions (despite the absence of any evidence of polling place impersonation in the state), shortens the early voting period and eliminates NC's very successful same-day voter registration program."
VIVA was quickly passed last year on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court's controversial, 5-4 decision in Shelby County v. Holder. The decision resulted in the gutting of a central provision of the federal Voting Rights Act. Before that, most of the measures in VIVA could not have taken effect unless they received advance approval from either the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) or a federal court. Such approval could have been obtained only if NC established that VIVA was neither intended to nor would have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color or being the member of a language minority.
The new ruling may help plaintiffs establish violations of both the still-standing elements of the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution. Moreover, the order to compel documentation concerning the law's genesis in NC, if upheld, could also have a broader national significance...
Oh, the irony of Newt Gingrich never ends...
"Whether it's the Koch brothers or [George] Soros on the left or Sheldon," said the former House speaker in an interview with National Journal on Friday, ticking off other campaign mega-donors, "if you're going to have an election process that radically favors billionaires and is discriminating against the middle class-which we now have-then billionaires are going to get a lot of attention."
Gingrich was asked about the gathering of some top Republicans in Las Vegas for what officially is the spring meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
Some have even taken to dubbing the event the "Sheldon Primary," for the casino mogul who almost single-handedly bankrolled Gingrich's presidential candidacy in 2012 and is said to be looking for another horse to back for the White House in 2016.
That's from Billy House's piece at National Journal today.
But if you want to know what Gingrich proposes to help even the score in elections between the billionaires and the middle class, you have to read to the last line of House's article...
Finally, I'm no longer the only progressive taking to the air waves to call bullshit on the Democrats' deadly and stupid War on People Trying to Quit Smoking with E-cigs.
On Thursday I was invited to discuss the issue with Ian Levitt of the Daily Report, the afternoon drive time show on KTNF, Minnesota's great Progressive AM950. Minnesota now joins the growing list of places where legislatures are considering a ban on vaping in public spaces because...well, I guess because they want more people to keep smoking rather than quitting via the non-smoking alternative of vaping. (I'm sure there must be some other reason --- and we discussed that a bit during the show --- but whatever that reason is, as is the case here in Los Angeles, it sure isn't based on science or public health benefits, as my interview with L.A. City Councilman Paul Koretz, who sponsored and voted for the ban here, made very clear a few weeks ago!)
It's time that Progressives (not to mention Democrats, but I don't necessarily hold out much hope for them) get on the right side of this issue. Here's my conversation about e-cigs and ill-considered bans against them, with Levitt yesterday...
To his great credit, according to the Star Tribune, MN's Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton has signalled the state's proposed ban goes "too far". So the bill has been sent back to committee in the state Senate.
"Dayton said he would sign a bill to restrict children's ability to buy e-cigarettes and to keep the product out of schools, but he would likely oppose making them subject to the indoor air law," the paper reports. "Dayton told the Star Tribune that he's not convinced there is definitive evidence that secondhand vapor poses a danger similar to secondhand smoke."
Here in Los Angeles, while the City Council voted to ban e-cig use like cigarettes, in public spaces such as parks, beaches, restaurants, bars, clubs, work spaces etc., Mayor Eric Garcetti has yet to approve the new ordinance. He can be contacted here, if you'd like to ring in with your thoughts on the new ban which is sure to make it harder for smokers to vape and, therefore, to quit smoking entirely.
If you have any questions about the effectiveness of e-cigs, feel free to ignore my own testimonial (vaping has allowed me to stop smoking immediately after decades of being a smoker) and take a look at some of the almost identical testimonials from former smokers in that Star Tribune article I linked to previously on the Minnesota ban now being considered.
On last week's episode of VICE on HBO, the documentary news magazine's founder Shane Smith went to Greenland to cover the startling melting of its massive ice sheets
Grist's Ted Alvarez interviewed Smith about the episode recently. Here are a few highlights from that interview...
A. I did a story last year - and I'm going to do this every season, every time we get a chance because I think it's the biggest problem facing humanity as a whole today. I don't know how you get bigger.
Q. And yet mainstream media often shies away from covering it, at least in proportion to the seriousness of the problem.
A. I find it incredibly strange that that's the case. When you talk to people in the scientific community and ask how much of this is our fault, they say, "Oh, 100 percent of it." And most people don't think it's true. But I guess there's people who deny gravity and evolution. ... It's not even that the gun is to our heads; the hammer has been cocked back. We have to do it now or we're screwed.
Q. What made the biggest impression on you while out there on the ice?
A. The scale of what's happening is amazing. I live in Tribeca, and during Sandy my whole street was underwater. It's personal: My house is going to sink. You realize the scope of the problem. Greenland is several miles thick, and it's sinking as fast as it can. We flew over this deglaciated land which has been covered for 50,000 years, and 10-15 miles of it is deglaciated. You realize what used to be miles wide and miles thick is just gone. If you understand the science, you understand it will happen at an exponential rate. And then it becomes wholly terrifying. You can see how a place that's three times the size of Texas is melting all at once. It's mind-bogglingly huge.
I don't think the scientific community understands the war they're in. [They say], "It's difficult to say anything is 100 percent this or that." They don't understand that if they leave any loophole, the far right, the Koch brothers, the well-funded lobbies will exploit it. Ninety percent of the comments on anything we do [on VICE] are positive, but when we cover climate change they're negative, and it's because they're funded.
That's what I really think is the most insidious. Look, we all know [climate change] is real - the science at this point is indisputable. But people who know the science is real are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for people to say it's not real. That's the definition of shitting where you eat: damning future generations so you can make short-term profit on fossil fuels.
Unfortunately, the episode doesn't appear to be available online for free, other than for HBO subscribers at HBO Go. If you have access to either, you should try and watch VICE's disturbing "Greenland is Melting" segment. Here's Shane Smith's "Debrief" on the episode...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Was logging a factor in deadly Washington landslide?; New BP oil spill in Lake Michigan; Rooftop solar endangers the electric grid? 'Bullsh*t', says former Energy Secretary; Next UN climate report warns climate change will affect 'every aspect of human life' and 'cost trillions'; PLUS: Irreversible climate change could be locked in as early 2036... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): House of Representatives votes for No More National Parks; U.S. Oil Boom Shifts Alliance as Obama Visits Saudi King; Ridiculously Resilient Ridge Hangs Tough; Fracking’s Earthquake Risks Push States to Collaborate; Fracking the USA: New Map Shows 1 Million Oil, Gas Wells; EPA moves to protect streams, wetlands; Drug companies agree to curb livestock antibiotic use ... PLUS: Millions of salmon begin migration --- by truck ... and much, MUCH more! ...
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