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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, August 30, 2014
Erick Erickson's Global Warming Denialist Tantrum
Latest barometer of denialist desperation: The rightwing 'thought leader', as usual, is wrong on the facts and science, so he's just taking his ball and going home...
Video Captures GA Family Disowning, Assaulting 20-Year Old Gay Son
But there is a "happy" ending, of sorts, to this heartbreaking and disturbing story...
'Green News Report' 8/28/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
BP refinery explodes. Again.; UN report warns of 'irreversible' warming; Fines for oil, chem spills; 22% of world elec. is now green; PLUS: People's Climate March coming to NYC...
Previous GNRs: 8/26/14 - 8/21/14 - Archives...
Faking the Ferguson Docs:
KPFK 'BradCast'
Brad interviews open records advocate Charlie Grapski on his evidence that Ferguson and St. Louis County police are illegally withholding evidence in the killing of Michael Brown; Plus MUCH more...
Records Requests Suggest Ferguson, St. Louis County Police Involved in Cover-Up
How else to explain the missing details and required documentation of Officer Darren Wilson's killing of Michael Brown?...
'Green News Report' 8/26/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Napa earthquake is a warning for CA's nuke plants; Another coal plant bites the dust; Cutting emissions will save $$$; PLUS: Fighting drought with a 'salmon cannon'...Yep...
Previous GNRs: 8/21/14 - 8/19/14 - Archives...
Our Story So Far: The WI GOP Photo ID Voting Restrictions
Trouble keeping up with all the court cases barring, then allowing, then barring the GOP's Photo ID voting restrictions in Wisconsin? Let us catch you up quickly with the latest...
Siegelman Judge, Arrested For Beating His Wife, May Avoid Prosecution Altogether
U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller checks in for 'treatment', may be able to duck prosecution...
Obama Orders Review of Police Militarization Program
In response to bi-partisan calls for reform and disturbing display by militarized local police in Ferguson, MO, the President takes aim at controversial Pentagon program...
Ryan Dismisses Elderly Voter's Question About His Medicare Cuts
2012 GOP Veep nom and 2016 hopeful 'charms' elderly voters in FL, by ignoring them...
Perry Tells NH Businessmen His Felony Indictment Was for a 'Bribery' Charge
Is this another 'oops' moment from the Repub TX Governor and 2016 hopeful? Or something else entirely?...
'Green News Report' 8/21/14
Too much rain in AZ desert; Another toxic spill in Ohio River; Solar breakthrough; Wind energy prices hit all-time low; PLUS: Auto-magically cleaning up Baltimore Harbor...
Rep. Hank Johnson on Ferguson and Demilitarizing the Police: KPFK 'BradCast'
The Democratic U.S. Congressman from Georgia's 4th district joins Bradto discuss his new bill...
Republicans Call Ferguson Voter Registration 'Disgusting'
Rightwingers decry effort 'to register Democratic voters' following the killing of Michael Brown...
Seriously, Ferguson Police?
The front page of the Post-Dispatch reminds again how ridiculous the era of post-9/11 Wars has become; Plus: another comparison to the Bundy Bunch...
'Green News Report' 8/19/14
OR nixes coal export facility; July 2014 4th hottest; Fracking industry illegally using diesel, threatening water; PLUS GOP officials secretly accept climate science...
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...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...

By Ernest A. Canning on 4/29/2013 6:35am PT  

Over the past decade, The BRAD BLOG, has become one of the nation's largest repositories of articles documenting the folly of e-voting. Thousands of articles at this site, written over the years by multiple journalists, computer experts, scientists, whistle-blowers and election integrity advocates, have pointed to academic and government studies, electoral train wrecks in election-after-election and out-and-out system crashes resulting in long lines, lost votes and denial of both service and democracy on Election Day.

We've even documented instances in which the official results were not merely absurd, but in some cases, virtually impossible --- from the negative 16,022 votes registered for Al Gore by a Volusia County, Florida optical-scan system during the contested 2000 Presidential Election to the thousands of electronic votes which simply disappeared after election night in Monroe County, Arkansas' 2010 state primary, just to mention a couple.

With rare exception, these very real, scientifically-based and independently verifiable concerns about the threat to democracy posed by a lack of transparency in how, if at all, votes are counted within the confines of computer vote tabulators, have, at best, been all but ignored by the mainstream corporate media, or, worse, scoffed at by the likes of "journalists" like Chuck Todd, NBC News' supposed election expert, as little more than "conspiracy garbage." With rare exception (e.g. last year in Palm Beach County, FL where, as a result of a 100% hand-count of paper ballots, several "losing" candidates, as initially determined by the Sequoia optical-scan tabulators, were actually found to be the winners) election-after-election has been decided in this nation without so much as a single ballot having been counted by a human being before results, right or wrong, are announced to the public.

The extent to which the U.S. government has ignored these scientific concerns was encapsulated by the fact that, last Fall, the President of the United States saw fit to cast his early vote on the oft-failed, incredibly-vulnerable, easily-hacked and 100% unverifiable Sequoia AVC Edge Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) touch-screen voting system in Chicago --- a system manufactured by the same voting machine company which, according to its former employees, deliberately sabotaged the punch card paper stock that was bound for use in Miami-Dade, Florida during the 2000 Presidential Election. That same tabulation system, relied upon by the President in Chicago, was also the one which declared the wrong "winners" in three different races in the Palm Beach County elections held earlier last year.

President Obama, in an apparent reference to the secrecy of the vote, said "I can't tell you who I voted for." He either didn't realize or didn't care how ironic that statement was given that it is scientifically impossible to ever know if his vote, or anyone else who cast a vote on that same 100% unverifiable e-voting system, was recorded accurately, or at all. It disappeared into the electronic black hole on equipment now ostensibly owned by Dominion Voting Systems, the Canadian corporation which purchased Sequoia in 2010. The Sequoia-manufactured, Dominion-owned e-voting machine Obama used to cast his vote last year was the trade secret Intellectual Property of yet another company: Smartmatic Voting Systems, a Venezuela-based, international e-voting systems manufacturer and supplier which had long ago been tied to the late President Hugo Chávez.

But a funny thing happened after the results of Venezuela's recent Presidential election were announced by the country's National Electoral Council (CNE). According to the electronic central tabulators of the country's 100% unverifiable Smartmatic DRE e-voting systems, Chávez protégé, Nicolas Maduro, had narrowly defeated the U.S.-backed Henrique Capriles.

At that moment --- and only for Venezuela's election, clearly --- both the U.S. government and U.S. mainstream corporate media suddenly became election integrity converts.

They insist on a 100% hand-count of the DRE-produced paper receipts because, as observed by ABC News, the CNE results are based upon "information that is sent electronically from each voting machine to the central vote counting hub," and not "from a manual count of the voting receipts deposited in ballot boxes." That, of course, is almost the exact same way that President Obama's vote in Chicago was tallied, either accurately or not, last year.

When asked by the AP's Matthew Lee whether the U.S. would recognize the Maduro government now that the election had been certified by the CNE, the State Department's Patrick Ventrell said earlier this month: "We're not there yet." His sentiment would be echoed by Secretary of State John Kerry, ironically enough, in an appearance before Congress. Both Ventrell and Kerry claimed to be concerned about the "confidence of the Venezuelan people in the quality of the vote."

Setting aside the fact that there is no way to know whether any computer-printed paper receipt accurately reflects the will of any voter in any election, the event underscores, once again, the striking duplicity of both the U.S. government and the corporate-owned mainstream media on the subject of democracy...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Ernest A. Canning on 4/22/2013 7:35am PT  

A solar-powered plane, known as the Solar Impulse, is cable of flying both day and night without fuel, courtesy of 12,000 photovotaic cells and batteries. The plane, "born in Switzerland", is set to commence a cross-country journey from San Francisco to New York on May 1, following a test flight in the Bay area on Friday. It is scheduled to make a number of stops along the way, flying some 20 to 26 hours each leg.

In the face of long standing concerns about global pollution from jet aircraft, Solar Impulse is a positive step, but still a ways from being a practical one given the size of the one seat aircraft and a top speed that is only about 40 mph.

But its still pretty cool. The major goal of the project is for a round-the-world flight, now scheduled for 2015. Here's a look at an earlier 2010 test flight of Solar Impulse, back when its goal for a global flight was still scheduled for 2012...

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Likely-unconstitutional bills follow similar (failed) efforts in ME, IN...
By Ernest A. Canning on 4/19/2013 2:56pm PT  

Nearly a quarter century has passed since the U.S. Supreme Court, in Symm vs. United States, ruled that college students had a right to treat their dorms as their residence for voting purposes. It's a fact which Republicans seem to find very inconvenient --- especially given the fact that, in 2008, the youth vote, heaviest in precincts where college campuses are located, favored Barack Obama over John McCain by a two-to-one ratio. The numbers were similar against Mitt Romney in 2012.

Thus, in 2011, despite the fact that his investigation failed to establish a single instance of voter fraud by any student, Maine's Republican Secretary of State Charlie E. Summers sent an intimidating letter to lawfully registered student voters seeking to convince them to "cancel" their voter registration where they go to school.

"Back in February," of this year, writes Laura Conaway at Maddow Blog, "an Indiana Republican proposed revoking the right for students to register at their colleges. After college Democrats and Republicans in Indiana joined in pushing back, the sponsor promised to amend her bill so that it would be constitutional, by which she meant dropping the idea."

Not to be outdone, this month three North Carolina Republican State Senators have introduced the appropriately numbered S666, which would strip the right of the parents of students from claiming a personal state tax exemption, which ranges from $2,000 - $2,500, if the student lawfully uses their dorm as their residence for voting purposes.

A related bill, S667, deceptively titled the "Equalize Voter Rights" act, would also strip tax exemptions for parents whose student children fail to register their car at the same place they register to vote. According to WRAL, "That also could cut down on college student registration, since many students maintain their vehicle registration in their home counties."

As the state's Democratic House Minority leader notes, both bills "would raise taxes on middle-class families who are trying to put their children through college." But, apparently Republicans are now in favor of tax increases, at least in NC, as long at it might help curb the increase in the youth vote seen over the last several elections.

But what may be most troubling of all, is that it seems the esteemed GOP state Senators in NC must be entirely unaware of the provisions of the 24th Amendment which, long ago, outlawed all poll taxes.

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Like 'ObamaCare', marriage equality may prevail at SCOTUS despite, rather than because of, Obama Administration's arguments...
By Ernest A. Canning on 3/30/2013 8:35am PT  

On paper, Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., who was appointed by President Barack Obama to replace now Supreme Court Justice Elana Kagan as the U.S. Solicitor General, appears to be an experienced litigator with a distinguished background.

It is a background that includes having served as a law clerk for former U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan, Jr. and having participated in over 100 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. However, Verrilli's participation in Supreme Court oral arguments --- earlier with respect to the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or "ObamaCare") and, recently, in the challenge to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, as well as U.S. v. Windsor, with respect to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and in Hollingsworth v. Perry pertaining to California's Proposition 8 --- raises some disturbing questions.

Either Verrilli lacks the professional competence to assume primary responsibility for supervising and conducting litigation on behalf of the U.S. Government before the Supreme Court, or Verrilli, and the Obama administration, are so politically fearful of staking out principled positions that they have opted for a muddled middle ground. Perhaps it's a little of both.

Regardless, if the Windsor and Hollingsworth cases should establish a constitutional right of same-sex couples to marry, as urged by attorneys Ted Olson (R) and David Boies (D) in their Prop 8 Supreme Court brief [PDF], it will be despite the half-baked arguments presented by the Solicitor General, not because of them...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Cites O'Keefe's prior alleged criminal violations in phony Planned Parenthood 'sting'...
By Ernest A. Canning on 3/11/2013 12:44pm PT  

Appearing on MSNBC's The Ed Show on Friday night, Eugene Iredale, the attorney for former San Diego ACORN worker Juan Carlos Vera, made short work of the chiseling claim made by federal criminal and professional liar James O'Keefe, that he had agreed to pay Vera $100,000 simply to bring to a close a "ridiculous lawsuit."

"If he wants to get out of the settlement and wants to fight us in court," Iredale told host Ed Schultz in response to O'Keefe's fundraising bluster, "we're ready any time. We can go right now!"

O'Keefe agreed last week to settle the lawsuit filed by Vera in July of 2010 against him and his partner Hannah Giles. Vera had been fired by ACORN after deceptively edited video tapes of him, secretly recorded by O'Keefe and his partner Hannah Giles, were published by Andrew Breitbart in 2009. While the edited tapes made it appear as though Vera, whose English is poor, was interested in cooperating in a scheme to smuggle underage prostitutes across the Mexican border, in reality, Vera had played along with the pair in order to gain information, including taking their photos, and then immediately notified law enforcement about the ridiculous scheme O'Keefe and Giles were proposing.

After word of the settlement with Vera leaked to Wonkette's Matthew Phelan and Liz Farkas last week, O'Keefe took to Twitter to play the victim, describing his payout to Vera as the necessary result of a "nuisance lawsuit".

"Sadly, this is the cost of exposing the truth," he explained to his gullible fundraising base in a statement posted to his ironically named Project Veritas website late last week. "That's why so few people do it. There are liability issues inherent in undercover journalism."

Many of those paying attention to this long shameful saga would be right in responding in turn: "Um, what 'journalism'"?!

O'Keefe continued his post-settlement Twitter tantrum to describe media coverage of his settlement agreement as "lies and lies and more lies from journafascists," taunting them to "have the guts" to allow him to respond on TV.

The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman responded to O'Keefe in turn with an invitation to appear live with him on his KPFK/Pacfica Radio show this coming Wednesday, at which time he could, among other things, explain how deceptively edited videotapes deserve to be labeled "journalism" or why he describes Vera's complaint as "meritless accusations". O'Keefe has yet to respond to the invitation...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Female CA Republican Assembly leader proves some GOP women as ignorant about female biology as GOP men...
By Ernest A. Canning on 3/4/2013 12:14pm PT  

Celeste Greig, the head of the California Republican Assembly, recently demonstrated that ignorance about female biology is not limited to Republican men.

But then, that should not come as a surprise. Ignorance, like intelligence, is not gender specific. Whether we deal with global climate change, so-called "intelligent design" or the mistaken belief that rape-related pregnancies are rare, the modern GOP has demonstrated that they are unwilling to let a little thing like science stand in the way of their political agenda.

For the anti-abortion crowd, the notion that rape pregnancies are rare entails what The Atlantic's Garance Franke-Ruta aptly described as the "canard that will not die." As she notes, the truth, according to the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, is that "among adult women an estimated 32,101 pregnancies result from rape each year." Hardly a "rare" occurrence.

The issue, of course, became a central focus of the 2012 U.S. Senate campaign in Missouri when Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) advanced the idiotic notion that women are rarely impregnated during a "legitimate rape" because "the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down." The idiocy was resurrected by Greig, who on Friday, March 1, after admonishing Akin for his insensitivity, said "the percentage of pregnancies due to rape is small because it's an act of violence, because the body is traumatized."

Unfortunately, Akin wasn't the first to forward the anti-choice ruse, and Grieg, undoubtedly, will not be the last among those seeking to outlaw the right to abortion, even if it requires lying to the American public about scientific facts...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 2/18/2013 10:15am PT  

One wonders whether the synapses simply fail to connect in the minds of zealots.

First we get a zealot like Scott Roeder who was so consumed with the "right to life" that he murdered Dr. George Tiller.

Then there’s the more recent case of the infamous ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner, who told his captive, Jim Reynolds, that he had gone on his murderous rampage because he wanted to clear his name.

Now comes the case of 45-year old Everett Basham, who was so upset with the injustice of new gun safety legislation that he allegedly sent an email to California State Senator Leland Yee (D) threatening to kill him unless Yee "stopped pushing legislation to ban so-called 'bullet buttons,' devices that permit swift reloading of military-style assault weapons by allowing for rapid exchange of ammunition magazines."

"The author of the email specifically stated that if I did not cease our legislative efforts to stop gun violence that he would assassinate me in or around the Capitol," Yee said in a statement last week. "He stated that he was a trained sniper and his email detailed certain weapons he possessed."

Then, again, perhaps Basham, the alleged author of the email, will claim that he was simply following the advice of James Yeager, the CEO of Tactical Response, a Tennessee company that specializes in weapons and tactical training. Yeager posted a video on YouTube in January in which he threatened to "start killing people" if President Obama continued to advance a gun safety agenda.

Prosecutors in Santa Clara County have charged Basham with ten felonies, including illegal possession of assault weapons, illegal possession of a destructive device and bomb making materials, criminal threats and the forging and possession of a fake driver's license. There's been no indication, as yet, that Tennessee authorities have undertaken to charge Yeager in connection with his terrorist threat, though his concealed carry permit was quickly suspended following his video-taped threat.

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By Ernest A. Canning on 2/10/2013 4:56pm PT  

The still unfolding events surrounding the murderous rampage that has allegedly been carried out by Christopher Jordan Dorner, a former LAPD officer who has vowed to take revenge for his 2009 job loss by killing other officers and their families, while tragic, provide a teachable moment.

The notion advanced by the National Rifle Association (NRA) that safety can be insured if law abiding citizens simply take up arms or by adding armed police inside our schools is nothing more than dangerous nonsense.

In this instance, as two people who had nothing to do with Dorner's rampage were mistakenly shot at dozens of times by police officers wrapped up in the manhunt, we saw what can happen when fear is added to the equation...

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Contrived deficits part of broader Rightwing plan to eliminate government as source of public service...
UPDATED to include Credo Action on-line petition
By Ernest A. Canning on 2/8/2013 11:47am PT  

The massive operating deficits that have driven the U.S. Post Office to announce an end to delivery of First Class mail on Saturdays, beginning in August, are not the product of postal service ineptitude. Those deficits are not the product of increased public access to emails or from competition by private delivery services like UPS or FedEx.

The U.S. Postal Service has been victimized by the Orwellian-labeled Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006 (PAEA), which embodies a scheme designed to destroy the constitutionally established U.S. Postal Service in order to privatize mail and parcel delivery. In a lame duck session, at the peak of the USPS' profitability and productivity, a then Republican-controlled Congress forced the U.S. Postal Service "to pre-fund 75 years worth of pensions" in the span of ten years, "a requirement not made of any other public or private institution." If not for the onerous and unprecedented requirements of the PAEA, the U.S. Postal Service, which is not funded by any taxes, would now be experiencing a $1.5 billion surplus.

The contrived demise of the postal service must be understood within the broader subversive goals of libertarian and right wing philosophy --- a philosophy which, despite the express provisions of both the Preamble and Article I of the U.S. Constitution, rejects the right of government to "promote the general welfare"...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 1/28/2013 3:47pm PT  

A federal lawsuit filed by the Calvary Chapel of Thousand Oaks seeks to test the legal line drawn by California regarding the boundaries of church and state.

Under the Golden State's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), churches are permitted to discriminate in hiring practices based on their religious beliefs only within the confines of non-profit institutions --- a line that recognizes that government has no role in a religious institution's selection of a priest, minister, rabbi or imam. Thus, for example, laws banning discrimination on the basis of gender do not prevent the Catholic Church from limiting the priesthood to adult males.

But the Calvary Chapel now seeks to obliterate the line drawn by the state FEHA law. It purchased the Little Oaks School of Thousand Oaks, a for-profit, previously non-sectarian private school and subsequently fired two teachers who refused to make statements of faith and obtain references from a pastor. The teachers' objections, one of whom had been the director of Little Oaks' preschool, were on religious freedom grounds.

Facing a likely legal challenge under state law, the church filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against the teachers and their attorneys as a preemptive strike in hopes of preventing the teachers from seeking redress in state court under FEHA.

Both parties in the suit are using "religious freedom" as the basis of their argument. The church seeks "religious freedom" in its discriminatory hiring practices. The teachers seek freedom from religion in their right to maintain their jobs...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 1/19/2013 1:55pm PT  

This still photo depicts actor Mark Wahlberg using the powerful .50 BMG Barrett M82A1M to shoot down an approaching helicopter at the outset of the 2007 motion picture, Shooter. Later, in the same film, what appears to be a Barrett M82A1 mounted atop a computer-operated weapon platform, is remotely accessed to carry out the long-distance assassination of an Archbishop who is standing next to the President.

On a segment of Thursday night's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, the host addressed the fact that the National Rifle Association (NRA) is funded and controlled by those who are making obscene profits off the very weaponry used to carry out mass murders of civilians in the U.S. O'Donnell pointed out that, since 2005, when former Senator Larry "Wide Stance" Craig (R-ID), now an NRA Board member, pushed a bill through Congress which immunized weapons manufacturers from civil liability for the carnage wrought by the weapons they unload on the public, the NRA has received over $38 million in contributions from weapons manufacturers.

O'Donnell's list of NRA Board members included George Kollitides of the Freedom Group, owner of multiple weapons manufacturers, including Remington and Bushmaster. Kollitides' company manufactured the AR-15 that was used to murder 20 children and 6 educators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT last month. Another one of his companies, Advanced Armaments, manufactures silencers, that, according to its web site, are legal in 39 states. Who inside this country, aside from mob hit men, need silencers?

The truly disturbing revelation, however, was that the military grade weapon, the Barrett M82 (see narrated video below), akin to the one seen in the still photo above, is being sold to the general public by Ronnie Barrett, yet another wealthy member of the NRA's Board of Directors.

The Barrett M82 semi-automatic sniper rifle chambers a powerful 12.7×99 mm NATO (.50BMG) armor piercing round. Known as the "Barrett Light Fifty," it was used by the IRA to conduct a sniper campaign against British armed forces in Northern Ireland. It has been sold to the armed forces of some 40 nations. During the First Gulf War, the U.S. military used the Barrett M82 to disable Iraqi armored personnel carriers.

It is difficult to imagine what possible legitimate function the M82 would have in any civilian setting --- that is unless one considers assassinations and shooting down helicopters to be a constitutionally protected sporting event. Yet, lighter variations of the M82, like the more advanced M107, are readily available to civilians in every state except California. When California banned civilian purchases of these insanely deadly weapons, Barrett retaliated by suspending sales to all of the Golden State's law enforcement agencies. Frankly, the following narrated video suggests that this powerful weapon should not be in the hands of law enforcement agencies either, let alone civilians.

One can't help but think of the words Martin Luther King presented during his moving "Beyond Vietnam" speech: "Somehow this madness must cease"...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 1/17/2013 10:18am PT  

While the short answer is that it is no doubt protected against criminal prosecution by the Speech or Debate Clause of the U.S. Constitution, one can't help but think of how the successive efforts by radical 'Tea Party' Republicans, first during the manufactured "fiscal cliff" crisis, and now by way of holding a figurative gun to the head of the nation's and world's economy, in order to extract concessions that would destroy the New Deal safety net (see two Jan. 14 segments of the Ed Schultz show below), resembles the crime of extortion, perhaps even treason.

For those of us who live in California, this latest round of GOP hostage-taking comes as no surprise. Year-after-year, the CA GOP utilized the Golden State's requirement of a 2/3 vote for passage of either spending or revenue enhancing measures as a means to force austerity, such as former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's draconian $15 billion cuts to education and health care. By refusing to pass a budget, the CA GOP at one point forced the state controller to issue $2.6 billion in IOUs. And, all during the CA GOP reign of economic terror, the Golden State's budget deficit expanded --- reaching an indebtedness in excess of $20 billion despite those massive cuts.

Democracy struck back. The percentage of CA voters who are registered Republicans dropped to less than 30%. During the 2012 election, CA voters passed a relatively progressive, revenue-enhancing tax measure supported by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) by a wide margin and the GOP's ability to hold the state hostage was eliminated when Democrats achieved a super-majority in the state legislature.

As a result, fiscal sanity was restored. CA is now on track to achieving a budget surplus even as $5.2 billion has been added to the state's school, university and health care budgets.

It is appropriate that President Barack Obama, who unfortunately lacks a record of holding fast to principle, has, so far, stated that he will not give in to the latest extortion demands concerning the upcoming need to raise the debt ceiling once again. But, given the nature of the far greater damage to both the U.S. and even global economy that could be wrought by the Congressional GOP's latest round of hostage-taking, can the nation or the world await a subsequent election to deal with extortion by an organization, the so-called 'Tea Party,' that is funded and controlled by the rapacious billionaires Charles and David Koch, whose Koch Industries was described by William Koch, David's twin, as a form of "organized crime?"

Two 1/14/2013 segments of MSNBC's The Ed Show addressing GOP hostage-taking on the debt ceiling follow below...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 1/5/2013 2:07pm PT  

"I didn't leave the Republican Party, it left me." – Former FL Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, 9/6/2012

"Anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee should have their head examined." - Rep. Peter King (R-NY), 1/2/2013.

In the wake of the Jan. 1, 2013 decision by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to postpone a vote on Hurricane Sandy relief until after the 113th Congress was sworn in, NY Rep. Peter King's sense of betrayal, which he described as "a knife in the back" in a remarkable floor speech, is understandable, but his proposed remedy is woefully deficient.

The only way that Republicans in an entire region of the country --- the Northeast --- can achieve meaningful representation in the 113th Congress may be by way of a massive party switch. The increasingly rare breed of "moderate House Republicans" may soon only be left with the choice of emulating the late Sen. Arlen Specter's 2009 party switch, by either becoming Democrats or by becoming independents who will caucus with the Democrats.

Of course, that didn't work out terribly well for Specter either...

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LA Times edits, publishes my personal letter in response...
By Ernest A. Canning on 12/26/2012 12:05pm PT  

There has been much debate over the last several weeks over the inaccurate use of scenes of torture in the new film Zero Dark Thirty to suggest that so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" were key to the capture and ultimate killing of Osama Bin Laden. (See "Zero Dark Thirty's Wrong and Dangerous Conclusion" by Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney, for example, or Glenn Greenwald's "Zero Dark Thirty: new torture-glorifying film wins raves", which asks "Can a movie that relies on fabrications to generate support for war crimes still be considered great?")

Beyond the question of whether it is appropriate or not to use blatantly false and misleading "dramatic license" in a theatrical film which it's filmmaker describes as employing "almost a journalistic approach to film", there is another troubling issue that seems to be getting lost in the debate.

It is disturbing, if not altogether surprising, to find an article on the front page of the Los Angeles Times recently, discussing the film, and its related "debate" amongst Democrats and Republicans on the U.S. Senate Intelligence over "the value of 'enhanced interrogation techniques.'"

The topic is one we have covered extensively here at The BRAD BLOG --- coverage that has included a five-part series on the history of CIA torture and a dire warning that the very survival of our Constitutional Democracy could hinge on justified prosecutions of those who previously ordered or engaged in torture.

In early 2009, in "Fixing the Facts and Legal Opinions Around the Torture Policy," I took dead aim at the sophistry employed by President Barack Obama to evade his constitutionally mandated obligation to see that the laws are faithfully executed. The same Harvard Law School-educated President who said that, in torture, America had lost its "moral bearings," suggested we must only look forward, not back. As I noted at the time, it was an "illogical formulation [that] was incompatible with the very essence of the rule of law."

Those prosecutions were not forthcoming, and, as a result, we find two writers at Los Angeles Times discussing the dispute triggered by the movie, Zero Dark Forty, over the efficacy of torture without so much as a passing reference to the fact that torture is a crime under both U.S. and international law.

This woefully deficient "coverage" drew a sharp and very personal response, given my family's history, by way of a Letter to the Editor I wrote to the paper, which they recently edited, and then published...

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UPDATED to include more extensive list of major events...
By Ernest A. Canning on 12/16/2012 5:45pm PT  

"Yes, how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind."

- Bob Dylan, Blowin' in the Wind

In "High Cost of Willfully Misinterpreting the 2nd Amendment" we touched upon the price the American people have paid in lives, injuries and grief, as measured against the extraordinary profits of U.S. small arms manufacturers whose domestic sales of increasingly sophisticated weapons, including the AR-15 and AK-47 styled assault rifles, similar to the one used in the mass shooting in Newton, CT last Friday, climbed to 14 million guns in 2009 alone --- greater than the total number possessed by 21 of the world's standing armies combined.

As the nation reels in the wake of the latest horror at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, it seems a worthwhile task to take a quick look at a partial history of mass shooting events in the U.S., starting with the 1966 University of Texas massacre so that we can take stock of what our nation's strange fascination with guns and ammo has truly wrought --- with increasing frequency since the Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004...

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