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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, April 19, 2014
More Good 'Obamacare' News for Terrified Dems
Will Democrats continue to run scared, or will they embrace the unrelenting string of encouraging Affordable Care Act successes as we head into the 2014 mid-terms?...
'Green News Report' 4/17/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
One year since West, TX disaster; New 'habitable' planet!; Air pollution in poor areas; Record warm March; PLUS: 'Bombshell' study: CA drought caused by global warming...
Previous GNRs: 4/15/14 - 4/10/14 - Archives...
The Climate Is Invading the Earth! To Battle Stations!
If only the climate was a person that could be defeated with guns -- the world might finally take the threat that climate change now poses with the seriousness it deserves....
'Green News Report' 4/15/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
GNR Special Coverage: The UN Inter- governmental Panel on Climate Change Report on Mitigation: costs, risks, and opportunities. Is it too late avoid climate catastrophe?...
Previous GNRs: 4/10/14 - 4/8/14 - Archives...
'Conservative' RW 'Legal' Blogger Defends Freeloading Nevada Rancher
PowerLine's hyper-partisan John Hinderaker admits Cliven Bundy 'doesn't have a [legal] leg to stand on', but digs deep to find a reason - any reason - to defend the scofflaw anyway...
Sunday News Shows Fail to Mention U.S. Senate CIA Torture & Detention Report
Despite U.S. and international crimes outlined in the findings, based on first-hand CIA docs, not a single Sunday show even brought it up...
NSA Knew About, Exploited Internet Open Source Bug for Years
What part of "national security' does the National Security Agency not understand?!...
Destroying America: 'Obamacare' Kills Another Business
Free medical clinic in rural Arkansas to close doors after health insurance reform law leads to lack of customers...
'Green News Report' 4/10/14
RW Heartland Institute says 'climate change will be good for you!'; Russia threatens natural gas supplies to Ukraine, Europe; PLUS: Attack of the Tumbleweeds! (No, really!)...
'Green News Report' 4/8/14
Study: CNN, Fox 'News' FAIL on climate; CNN looks for plane, finds ocean of garbage; PLUS: Energy co. receives record fine for 85 years of toxic waste (& couldn't be happier about it)...
Christie's E-Cig 'Sin Tax' Due to 'Public Health' Concerns?
After slashing anti-smoking programs, 'conservative' Christie admin offers absurd reason for massive new tax, but NJ Star-Ledger ain't buyin' it. And neither are we...
Judge to TX Repubs: Turn Over the Docs!
Courts rules TX legislators must provide email related to passage of polling place Photo ID restrictions which may prove discriminatory intent of the GOP law...
'A New Kind of Liberty' for the Kochs and Anyone Else Who Can Afford to Buy It
Have the rightwing judicial activists on the Supreme Court made you feel freer yet?...
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 Brad Friedman on 5/28/2013 12:40pm PT  

So, I was minding my own business on Memorial Day afternoon, just starting to light up some coals for a backyard BBQ with a few neighbors, when --- THWACK! --- a dead rat fell from the sky and landed hard on the patio pavement no more than five feet from where I was standing.

It was gray rat, with some blackish spots, had a body about 8 inches long and a tail another 8 or 10 inches, and what appeared to be two bloody wounds of some type on the side of its body.

Since I am a wuss, it was Desi --- rescuer of enormous spiders and disposer of dead rodents --- who wasn't so grossed out that she couldn't pick it up with a rake and throw it away.

I am kicking myself now that all of us --- myself and the four other witnesses (after-the-fact witnesses to the dead rat, not the fall, since I was the only one lucky enough to be there for the THWACK!) --- were too freaked out and creeped out to think of taking a photo to prove this actually happened! But it did.

My preferred theory is that this real life B-Horror Movie moment was actually the result of a hawk with great eyesight and a lousy grip. In any case, if dead bloody rats raining from the sky isn't a sign of the coming apocalypse, I really don't know what is...

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By Brad Friedman on 5/26/2013 10:10am PT  

No significance here. Just a Memorial Day Weekend palette cleanser. And a really cool one, at that. No camera or editing trickery. Just one guy --- Marquese Scott --- and some awesome cool "dubstep"...

[More on his YouTube channel...]

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By Brad Friedman on 5/25/2013 3:15pm PT  

After he was interrupted, several times, by CODEPINK founder Medea Benjamin during his foreign policy speech on Thursday, President Obama said: "The voice of that woman is worth paying attention to."

I agree with that part of his response, which was met with applause in the room. I rather liked the questions that Benjamin shouted out before and as she was eventually led out of the room. She offered a pretty well constructed set of thoughts and questions, particularly under the circumstances. And I'd love to hear the President's answers to a few of her questions.

Here's what she said, as well as I was able to capture her remarks from the video...

It's not Congress. It's you, sir. There are 102 people on a hunger strike [in the Guantanamo Bay prison]. These are desperate people. 86 have been cleared for release. You are Commander-in-Chief. You can close Guantanamo today. You can release those 86 prisoners today.
...
How about Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, a 16-year-old American killed by drones. Is that the way we treat a 16-year-old American? Why was he killed? Can you tell us why Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was killed?

Can you tell the Muslim people their lives are as precious as our lives? Can you take the drones out of the hands of the CIA? Can you stop the signature strikes that are killing people on the basis of suspicious activities? Will you apologize to the thousands of Muslims that you have killed? Will you compensate the innocent family victims? That will make us safer here at home.

I love my country! I love the rule of law! The drones are making us less safe. And keeping people in indefinite detention in Guantanamo is making us less safe. Abide by the rule of law. You're a Constitutional lawyer!

For the record, the President absolutely can release the 86 prisoners who have been cleared for release immediately, as Benjamin noted. He does not have to, as he likes to suggest, get approval from Congress to do that. He can release them immediately. He only needs Congressional approval to move prisoners (such as the ones who may actually face some sort of trial or military tribunal) to another prison on the U.S. mainland.

Despite his assertions to the contrary, as seen in the video below, Obama did not address the concerns of Benjamin. He did not explain why 16-year-old U.S. citizen Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was killed. He did not answer whether drone strikes would be taken out of the hands of the unaccountable CIA and given to the slightly-more-accountable military. He did not respond to the question about compensation to the families of innocent victims killed in drone strikes. He did not speak to whether "signature strikes" with drones (attacks based on profiles of those believed to be gathered at a particular location, rather than a specific person believed to be in the group) would be ended. He should address all of those issues.

* * *

Video of the section of his speech during which the President was interrupted several times by Benjamin --- remarkably, she was not removed the first several times --- and his responses to her, follows below...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 5/23/2013 3:40pm PT  

Yesterday, we ran a very short piece arguing that "Fox 'News' and Republicans Were For Prosecuting Journalists Before They Were Against It".

In it, we briefly documented the Obama DoJ's attack on journalists and journalism, as most recently highlighted by the sweeping subpoena of AP reporters' phone records and the naming of Fox "News" reporter James Rosen as an unindicted co-conspirator in order to subpoena his email and much more in the course of a national security leak investigation. We highlighted how these sorts of outrageous attacks on the media were something that the Right had very much approved of under Bush, and even under Obama, at least until it struck a bit too close to home for them, particularly with the latest news about Rosen. Now, of course, Fox and friends claim to be outraged! about it all.

In our report, we cited an excellent recent piece by Constitutional attorney turned UK Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald. In that column, he smartly decried the aggressive actions of the Obama Administration. At the end of his piece, in an update, he dinged the Right for their hypocrisy in this matter. (It was the latter which we generally focused on in our own piece, though we also pointed out how Greenwald has been extraordinarily consistent over the years in his no-holds-barred critique of First Amendment erosions, whether they were carried out by the Bush Administration or the Obama Administration. For his championing of First Amendment rights he has received much partisan criticism over the years, first from Bush loyalists during the Bush Administration, and now from partisan Obama loyalists during the current administration.)

In response to our piece, BRAD BLOG commenter "Billy" went off on a tear against Greenwald, charging that "he has been lying incessantly about the James Rosen story"; that he "has pretty much given up on objectivity and fact-based reporting"; that he is "an opponent of Barack Obama [who] won't let the truth get in the way of that opposition"; and, perhaps most sharply, that he "is now in the same business as [Republican Congressman and U.S. House Oversight Committee Chairman] Darrell Issa."

Setting the invective aside, the main of Billy's critique of Greenwald seems to be that Rosen's original 2009 article at Fox --- the one which resulted in the DoJ naming him as an unindicted co-conspirator and the indictment of Rosen's alleged State Department leak source Steven Jin-Woo Kim --- led to the dangerous exposure of U.S. intelligence gathering operations and assets in North Korea.

Rosen's report on North Korea "presumably made it very easy for them to eliminate the operation," Billy argued, in apparent support of the Obama DoJ's actions. "At worst, this publication may have cost American intelligence sources their lives."

"But Glenn Greenwald, who has pretty much given up on objectivity and fact-based reporting, described Kim's leak to Rosen as a case of communicating 'innocuous information to a journalist - something done every day in Washington.' Clearly it was not," fumed Billy.

[Read "Billy's" initial comment here and scroll down for my own responses to him thereafter.]

We asked Greenwald whether he had yet to reply to the charge that he had "lied" about the Rosen case when describing the reported leaks as "innocuous" and, if not, if he'd like to. He sent us a response to that allegation, which he asked that we publish in full. Happy to. The complete response from Greenwald follows below...

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

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...And before one of their own got caught in Obama's buzz-saw...
By Brad Friedman on 5/22/2013 4:26pm PT  

If you haven't already, you should read Glenn Greenwald's full take, published earlier this week, on the Obama DoJ's astonishing invasion of Fox "News" reporter James Rosen's work as a journalist by naming him as an unindicted co-conspirator in order to access his email, phone records and more in the course of the Obama Administration's criminal investigation into an alleged leak of classified material by State Department official Steven Jin-Woo Kim.

(For a somewhat different take on the matter, Jack Shafer's column at Reuters "What was James Rosen thinking?" is smart and worth reading, even as I find it uncomfortably close to flat out blaming the victim.)

To his credit, Greenwald's consistent stance over the years on this issue --- from his documentation of outrageous attacks on journalists and journalism during the Bush Administration, to outrageous attacks on journalists and journalism during the Obama Administration (much of which he references in his report linked above) --- earn him a lot of cred here. It has also earned him scorn from both the Right and supporters of the Obama Administration.

What has made all of this additionally amusing/maddening over the past week, however, has been the hypocritical turn by the Right and Fox "News" --- now that one of its own has been caught in the buzz-saw. Suddenly, they are outraged --- outraged! --- over the chill on journalism and journalistic freedom and the assault on the First Amendment now that it's the Obama Administration that is doing it and, I should add, now that it's being done to them. Recall, they didn't much care --- supported it, in fact --- when there were similar attacks on journalists at New York Times and Washington Post by the Bush Administration. Or, more recently, under Obama, against journalists like Julian Assange at WikiLeaks just a year or two ago. As discussed during my 2010 interview with legendary "Pentagon Papers" whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, then Fox "News" contributor Sarah Palin, for example, called for Assange to be hunted down like a terrorist "with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders".

True, the Obama Administration has taken the Bush War on Journalism to a whole new and disturbing level, but essentially he's simply continuing --- arguably, fulfilling --- the long-stated, long-supported-by-the-Right positions of the previous Administration. And they are the exact same positions they supported even just a year or two ago when calling for the prosecution of Assange!

It's a pretty clever win-win scam by the Right, in truth. Slam Obama as being "soft on national security!", and then yell and scream about it (justifiably so, in this case) when he takes action to prevent leaks "in the name of national security".

In an update to his full story, Greenwald added the following thoughts along with a short Meet the Press video from 2006 that you need to see. While watching it, please note how favorite Rightwing/Bush Administration son Bill Bennett was pushing for everything that the Right and Fox "News" now claim to be outraged about today. (They really should be outraged about it today, by the way. But they should have been equally outraged about it back when they and Bennett were actually arguing in support of heading straight down the slippery slope we are now gliding down at breakneck speed)...

Meanwhile, to convey just how warped this all is: it really is true that this very behavior of trying to criminalize national security reporting was a driving force of the worst elements on the Right during the Bush years; back then, I wrote constantly about the dangers to press freedoms such threats, by themselves, posed. Please just watch this 4-minute segment from a 2006 Meet the Press episode where the Washington Post's Dana Priest explains to Bill Bennett, who had called for her imprisonment, exactly what press freedoms and the law actually provide; Bill Bennett is who - and what - the Obama DOJ and its defenders are channeling today:

* * *

UPDATE 5/24/2013: BRAD BLOG commenter "Billy" has made a serious charge that Greenwald was "lying" in his column cited above. I've asked Greenwald for a response to that charge and have now posted it here.

Moreover, this additionally disturbing information about the Rosen case has just been reported today...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 5/22/2013 12:57pm PT  

Since the influence of the Koch Brothers on PBS --- PBS! --- as Jane Mayer documents in The New Yorker this week, helped, until now, to suppress this film and keep it from airing on PBS, I figure it could use all the exposure possible. So here's the trailer from Citizen Koch.

Best line belongs to former Republican-turned-independent Presidential candidate (and former LA Governor) Buddy Roemer: "Listen to me, America. They don't care about you, because you don't bring a check"...

[Hat-tip Lee Fang.]

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PLUS: OK Senators favor federal disaster relief aid for constituents, even after voting against it following Superstorm Sandy...
By Brad Friedman on 5/21/2013 1:26pm PT  

Yesterday's horrific, tragic and enormous tornado in Moore, OK has been described as "the biggest, most destructive tornado in the history of the world."

In its wake, many are questioning the relationship between such monster storms and climate change. Here's a statement from Dr. Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in response to that question, as obtained via email today by Peter Sinclair (he, of the geat Climate Denial Crock of the Week website):

Of course tornadoes are very much a weather phenomenon. They come from certain thunderstorms, usually super-cell thunderstorms that are in a wind shear environment that promotes rotation. The main climate change connection is via the basic instability of the low level air that creates the convection and thunderstorms in the first place.

Warmer and moister conditions are the key for unstable air.

The climate change effect is probably only a 5 to 10% effect in terms of the instability and subsequent rainfall, but it translates into up to a 32% effect in terms of damage.

(It is highly nonlinear).

So there is a chain of events and climate change mainly affects the first link: the basic buoyancy of the air is increased. Whether that translates into a super-cell storm and one with a tornado is largely chance weather.

So, in short, Trenberth seems to suggest that while one cannot directly "blame" climate change itself for any particular storm, the altered weather patterns, thanks to global warming and the increased moisture in the air, increase, fairly radically, the probability of such storms and, in turn, their size and destructive power.

Or, if you prefer, you can listen to leading climate science denier Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma who has said many times in the past that concerns about man-made climate change are nothing more than "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people" and nothing to worry about.

While we haven't heard him say as much today yet, for some odd reason, he has explained that he --- like his fellow Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, will support federal disaster relief funding for his state, unlike their vote against federal disaster relief funding for the East Coast after Superstorm Sandy last year. Why? Because, as Inhofe explained today, the money for his state won't simply be a "slush fund", as he described the relief for the millions of East Coasters affected by Hurricane Sandy. "That won't happen in Oklahoma," he said.

Meanwhile, Coburn (who is also a climate change denier), after also voting against relief for Hurricane Sandy while tens of thousands were left homeless on the East Coast in the middle of winter, slammed those who charged hypocrisy in his promise of federal relief "without delay" for his own OK constituents.

"It is crass," his office said in a statement to reporters, "for critics to play disaster aid politics when first responders are pulling victims from the rubble."

By Coburn's reckoning, apparently, the time to "play disaster aid politics" is a few days or months later, as he did with Sandy aid, when victims were freezing and without power or homes.

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Racing to jump on the 'scandal' bandwagon, top-tier network newsmen each get the stories wrong, fail to correct record...
By Brad Friedman on 5/20/2013 12:38pm PT  

Despite completely misreporting on Administration emails related to the pretend Benghazi "scandal", after they were misquoted (and/or fabricated) to him by a reportedly Republican source, ABC News and their White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl still refuse to properly correct and apologize for having lied about "obtaining" those emails.

Had Karl's error --- compounded by his "cover-up" even more than his original "crime" --- contained news that falsely appeared good for Democrats instead of for Republicans, he would have been hammered and forever discredited by the Right until finally fired by ABC News. But, alas, his completely false report on Benghazi benefited Republicans rather than Democrats, so no biggie, it seems. He gets to keep his career!

ABC's Karl, however, wasn't the only top-tier network newsman who blew it big time, further tarnishing the profession over the past week, not by a long shot.

Here's how NBC's Brian Williams opened --- opened! --- NBC Nightly News last Tuesday, the same day that the Treasury Department's Inspector General report was released, offering zero evidence of White House involvement in the so-called IRS "scandal"...

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

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But Obama (and media) fall for it again...
By Brad Friedman on 5/17/2013 4:20pm PT  

"Listening to the nightly news, this appears to be just the latest example of a culture of cover-ups --- and political intimidation --- in this administration," declared the opportunistic Republican Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee during a hearing today on the "scandal" related to the IRS use of Rightwing words such as "Tea Party" to help identify groups applying for tax-exempt status which might be operating in violation of the tax code.

The key phrase there is: "Listening to the nightly news..."

Rep. David Camp (R-MI) was correct in at least that part of his statement. If you listened to the way this supposed "scandal" is being reported by the bulk of the corporate media, you'd think the poorly chosen criteria used by low-level IRS officials in trying to identify taxpayer-subsidized organizations that might be carrying out political operations in violation of the law, was part of a "culture of cover-up" and "political intimidation" on par with Richard Nixon ordering his Dept. of Justice to target political enemies.

Then again, if you listened only to the corporate media, you --- like the Obama Administration --- also probably thought that the phony, trumped-up "scandals" that led to the inappropriate firing of USDA official Shirley Sherrod, the cowardly firing of White House green jobs adviser Van Jones and the outrageous federal defunding of ACORN were also the unhappy result of an endemic culture of corruption by the Obama Administration, the Democratic Party and its insidious political apparatchiks.

Those fake scandals, however, all three of them, were shams. They were eventually identified as such, though only after a great deal of harm to Sherrod, Jones and ACORN had already been done by the Democrats who fell for them and acted out of knee-jerk and cowardly fear to try and contain the perception of "scandal" which was, naturally, helped along by the very loud misreporting of "the nightly news".

The supposed IRS "scandal", as we detailed yesterday both here at The BRAD BLOG and at Salon --- after having bothered to actually read the full Treasury Department Inspector General's report [PDF] before reporting on it (didn't anybody else?!) --- appears almost as phony as those other three "scandals", despite the "outrage" over seemingly non-existent "misconduct", as Obama described it, by IRS employees.

Our general assessment --- based on the IG's findings --- that this "scandal" appears to be an enormous over-reaction to poorly thought out procedures and lousy management by low-level IRS officials, has been shored up since publishing our article yesterday, both by today's House hearings and by scattered media coverage elsewhere.

As usual, with these things, the Republicans cry "COVER-UP!", "OUTRAGE!", "SCANDAL!"; the corporate media credulously, unskeptically and dutifully reports it as such; the Obama Administration knee-jerks out of fear and starts firing people (like the Acting Commissioner of the IRS who wasn't even at the agency during the period in question) in hopes of showing how they are on top of things and will not tolerate such "outrages!"; and Republicans opportunistically use the entire matter to create a phony sense of partisanship, incompetence and tyranny (seemingly opposite notions, but never mind that) on the part of the Administration.

It works every time, it seems, since the very top-tier corporate media, as well as the Obama Administration, keep falling for it over and over and over again...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 5/17/2013 12:53pm PT  

Recall that "massive budget deficit!!!" which was to be the death of our nation, as Republicans described it during the 2012 election cycle? Yes, the $1.4 trillion deficit inherited by Obama has been cut by more than half, according to the latest projection, and has all but returned to the size of Bush's second-to-last budget deficit prior to the global economic meltdown. (See CORRECTION/CLARIFICATION at end of story below for more details.) But it seems, for some reason, the GOP forget to tell people, for some reason...

While the rapidly disappearing deficit seen above is not necessarily a good thing --- at least for those interested in putting people back to work and the overall long-term health of the economy that would otherwise come with smart federal investments right now --- you'd think Republicans would be celebrating. But, of course, they're not, because they don't care now, nor have they ever, about budget deficits --- unless they can be used as a blunt object to try and harm their political opponents.

Rachel Maddow offered more last night on the chart above. Video follows below...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 5/16/2013 6:05am PT  

[This article now cross-published by Salon...]

During remarks at the White House yesterday evening, President Obama offered his opinions on the Treasury Department Inspector General's report [PDF] finding that the IRS used "inappropriate criteria to identify organizations applying for tax-exempt status," in order to review those groups "for indications of significant political campaign intervention."

He described "the misconduct that is uncovered" in the report as "inexcusable". He said that "Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it," adding that he "will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency, but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives."

Obama then announced that his Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew, had requested and accepted the resignation of the Acting Commissioner of the IRS --- the man who wasn't even in that role during the period in question at the IRS --- "because given the controversy surrounding this audit, it’s important to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward."

That all sounds very tough and decisive(!), but after having slogged through the full IG's report, I'm not sure what "misconduct" the President is actually referring to. That word would seem to imply that someone at the IRS was purposely or criminally misbehaving. They may have been, and further investigation may uncover such behavior, but if there was purposeful or criminal misconduct by anyone in the office, the IG's report doesn't seem to offer any actual evidence of it.

The IG's report offers evidence of much confusion, poor training, unclear directives and what seems to be pretty lousy, or, at least, extremely ineffective management at the department of the IRS tasked with approving or rejecting tax-exempt status for 501(c)(3) "charitable groups" and 501(c)(4) "social welfare organizations". Members of Congress, as well as government watchdog groups have long argued that many of those tax-payer subsidized organizations have abused the privilege and violated the legal restrictions on political activity by such groups. The abuse has been particularly widespread, they argue, in the wake of the Citizens United decision and the flood of largely unrestricted, often completely anonymous money funneled to those types of groups for often purely-political purposes.

Further investigation, including a criminal investigation promised by the Dept. of Justice, may uncover the type of "misconduct" the President claims to be outraged by, but the evidence for it is not found in the IG's report, no matter how much Republicans are currently suggesting the opposite.

Also NOT found in the IG's report:

  • Any evidence that "Tea Party" related groups were identified during this process for nefarious reasons;
  • Any type of identification, political or otherwise, for the groups whose applications were similarly flagged and delayed ("Tea Party" related groups made up only a minority, approximately 1/3 of the groups whose applications were delayed and held for further examination);
  • Any indication or evidence whatsoever that the White House, or anybody outside of the IRS units handling these cases, had anything to do with what happened;
  • Any response to the other question the IG's office was tasked by Congress to investigate, namely: "whether existing social welfare organizations are improperly engaged in a substantial, or even predominant, amount of campaign activity."

Allow me to offer some quick details in support of each of the bullet points above...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 5/15/2013 4:26pm PT  

Apparently, we were wrong last March, when we interpreted Attorney General Eric Holder's Congressional testimony to mean that the big banks were just "too big to jail".

"I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy. And I think that is a function of the fact that some of these institutions have become too large," Holder testified at the time.

"It has an inhibiting influence --- impact --- on our ability to bring resolutions that I think would be more appropriate," he continued. "So, the concern that you raise is actually one that I share."

That's what he said in March. But apparently, despite that, he now says, banks are not too big to jail. That's what Holder "very, very, very" much wants us now to believe, according to his testimony in Congress today...

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

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But Obama's IRS and DoJ/AP scandals didn't happen in a vacuum...
By Brad Friedman on 5/15/2013 6:05am PT  

Government officials and employees responsible for the allegedly inappropriate scrutiny of Rightwing groups applying for non-profit, tax-exempt status as "social welfare organizations" (tax-payer subsidized, supposedly non-partisan 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) groups) should be investigated and, if appropriate, disciplined, fired and/or charged under criminal statutes.

Government officials and employees responsible for secretly subpoenaing the phone records of AP reporters ought to similarly be investigated and, if appropriate, disciplined, fired and/or charged under criminal statutes --- though it is likely that the government has already given itself legal dispensation to carry out that sort of invasive, seemingly extra-Constitutional, certainly un-American intimidation of whistleblowers and journalists alike.

That said, it's been predictably amusing over the past 24 hours or so, witnessing the outrage --- outrage! --- of Rightwingers over the very things that they not only didn't give a rat's ass about when the same, and often much worse, was carried out by the Bush Administration, but that they actively supported at the time.

"They say two wrongs don’t make a right, but ignoring one of those wrongs while vilifying the other is intellectually dishonest and violently hypocritical, among other things," writes Bob Cesca at The Daily Banter, noting that "Democrats have almost universally condemned the actions of the IRS, as they’ve done when the congressional Republicans and, naturally, the Bush administration used the nearly unlimited might of the government to engage in similar investigations — or worse."

"Republicans," he writes, "spent eight years defending, applauding and enabling Bush abuses on this front, while subsequently cheerleading the congressional Republicans as they carry forward the politics of intimidation and government overreach into the Obama era."

Cesca goes on to list "10 Examples of Bush and the Republicans Using Government Power to Target Critics", beginning with the Republican-supported Big Government assaults on Planned Parenthood, ACORN (which succeeded in putting a four-decade old community organization out of business), and on even the ability of perfectly legal American voters to simply cast a vote in their own elections. He also reminds us of the abuse of the Bush Dept. of Justice which, specifically, targeted Democrats for prosecution, and for the firing of U.S. Attorneys without cause, other than they were not partisan enough for the tastes of the Bush White House.

But while the Obama Administration deserves appropriate scrutiny and investigation and accountability for whatever its part in both the developing IRS and DoJ/AP scandals, let us not forget some of these certainly-as-bad, arguably-worse scandals related to both the IRS and the DoJ --- from during the Bush Administration --- that Republicans not only didn't give a damn about, but often applauded for most of the past decade...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 5/13/2013 10:20pm PT  

While The BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio usually airs live on Wednesday's, we did a special Monday version this week, as I was filling in for my friend Harrison who was on the road today and unavailable to do his normal show.

That gave me the opportunity to cover some of today's breaking news on the Obama DoJ's subpoena of AP phone records, to take a call or two on the pretend Benghazi "scandal" (including from one caller who doesn't exactly know why its a scandal, but really really wants it to be one), to offer a words on the recent Internet Voting hack on NBC's The Voice, the madness of the Democratic Party push for Vote-by-Mail (as witnessed last week in the Colorado legislature, and this week in L.A. where absentee ballot fraud charges are flying between two different candidates) and even some thoughts on the coolest song ever recorded in outer-space.

But, before all (or most) of that, we were joined for an all-Brad BradCast by Brad Johnson of ForecastTheFacts.org to discuss the disturbing landmark of passing 400 parts per million of C02 in the atmosphere (for the first time in millions of years), why that matters, and the wingnut "weapons-grade denial" pushing back against the facts...

Download MP3 or listen online below [appx 58 mins]...

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By Brad Friedman on 5/13/2013 10:05am PT  

Wow. As recorded on board the International Space Station by Commander Chris Hadfield who is scheduled to return to earth later today in a Soyuz capsule. Totally worth a view. It's only Monday, but I suspect this may be the best thing that happens all week...Maybe all year...

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