After U.N. denial, NBC's David Gregory apologized for use of unverified Israeli video claiming to show rockets fired from U.N. refugee shelter in Gaza where at least 15 were killed by Israel last week...
The statement notes the group will hold a news conference this Friday, December 21 --- the Friday before Christmas --- which Washington Post's Greg Sargent aptly describes as "the ultimate Friday news dump."
Here's their complete statement today...
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UPDATE 12/21/12: The NRA held it's "major news conference" today, announcing their "major contributions". It didn't go well...
"If we're going to get past this almost hysterical fear of trying to do anything at all on gun rights," MSNBC's Rachel Maddow asked on Friday during her breaking coverage of the mass shootings at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, CT, "if we're going to try to puncture the myth that anything to reform or rationalize gun laws is absolutely, politically impossible as a categorical thing, what would happen if we just started at the edges?"
"What would happen if we just started with what even members of the NRA say they want from national gun laws? Because they want a hell of a lot more than we've got right now," she correctly noted. "The organization that they're a member of may not admit that, but when you poll their members, even they want improvements."
She is absolutely right. And so is the rank and file membership of the National Rifle Association when it comes to many of the most pressing gun safety issues. The numbers (read on) are unequivocal. They want what their leadership does not, and by huge margins. The con-men and scam-artists who run the terrorist-enabling NRA racket, on the other hand, as usual, are absolutely bloody wrong.
If we could reform gun safety laws just enough in this country to meet the wishes of the vast majority of the NRA membership, we would be leaps and bounds beyond the deadly political quagmire we have been languishing in as a nation --- thanks to the insidious liars and profiteers of the NRA leadership and the cowardly politicians afraid to take them on --- for at least a decade in this country.
The NRA's loudest and most dishonest voice is its Executive VP and chief political strategist Wayne LaPierre. He is opposed to any and all legislation that might stand a chance of making Americans safer, claiming a twisted and tortured view of the Bill of Right's 2nd Amendment as a prohibition against any and all such legislation...
The conservative Republican and former U.S. Congressman from Florida turned MSNBC morning show anchor Joe Scarborough offered a powerful response this morning to the tragic mass shooting which killed 20 children and 7 adults in Newtown, CT last Friday.
The often glib Scarborough who says he "received the NRA's highest ratings over four terms in Congress," took a very serious and non-ideological turn at the top of today's Morning Joe program on MSNBC. During his prepared remarks he cited the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook elementary school as a "true landmark" which, he said, forced him to spend "the past few days grasping for solutions and struggling for answers, while daring to question my long held beliefs on these subjects."
"Every American must know," he said, "from this day forward, that nothing can ever be the same again."
With an eye towards what he described as "entrenched special interests [who] will try to muddy the issues," he implored that "Politicians can no longer be allowed to defend the status quo. They must instead be forced to protect our children."
"The violence we see spreading from shopping malls in Oregon, to movie theaters in Colorado, to college campuses in Virginia, to elementary schools in Connecticut, is being spawned by the toxic brew of a violent pop culture, a growing mental health crisis and the proliferation of combat-styled guns."
"The cause of these sickening mass shootings," he explained, "is no longer a mystery to common-sense Americans."
Speaking from his former perspective as a powerful Washington D.C. insider during his days in the U.S. House, Scarborough went on to say: "I am a conservative Republican who received the NRA's highest ratings over 4 terms in Congress. I saw the debate over guns as a powerful, symbolic struggle between individual rights and government control. In the years after Waco and Ruby Ridge, the symbolism of that debate seemed even more powerful to my colleagues and me."
"But the symbols of that ideological struggle have since been shattered by the harvest sown from violent, mind-numbing video games and gruesome Hollywood movies that dangerously desensitizes those who struggle with mental health challenges. Add military-styled weapons and high capacity magazines to that equation and tragedy can never be too far behind."
"Friday changed everything," he continued. "It must change everything. We all must begin anew and demand that Washington's old way of doing business is no longer acceptable. ... Our Bill of Rights does not guarantee gun manufacturers the absolute right to sell military-styled high-caliber semi-automatic combat assault rifles with high capacity magazines to whoever the hell they want."
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The complete video of Scarborough's 12/17/2012 remarks on MSNBC's Morning Joe is at the top of this article, the full text transcript follows below...
"Imagine if somebody suggested we shouldn't discuss terrorism after 9/11 or fire safety after Triangle Shirtwaist or lifeboats after Titanic," George W. Bush's not-insane former speechwriter, David Frum tweeted on Saturday, before adding satirically: "1502 people have DROWNED! This is no time to insult their memory by asking why there weren't enough lifeboats to save them."
Not to pile on... but it's time to pile on. In just one recent 24-hour period in America:
And that's just a few of them. Moreover, as Brad Friedman highlighted in memoriam, from Eric Boehlert's tweet Sunday morning: "And yes, in the 48 hrs since the Newtown shooting, more than 160 Americans have died from gun fire; 300+ have been injured."
Those same apologists tell us that any discussion of policy changes that might prevent innocent children and unarmed civilians from being slaughtered must be postponed to some later date that never actually arrives.
Other wealthy nations have developed different gun policies that have drastically reduced gun violence in their countries while still allowing law-abiding private citizens to own firearms. For example, Australia passed strict gun control and access laws in 1996, after 13 mass shootings in 18 years. How many mass shootings have there been in Australia since the new laws passed? Zero. Could we gain insight from gun policies instituted by other governments? Perhaps --- but here in America, land of free speech and home of the brave, we are told we can't discuss it now...
"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...
• Whodathunkit? But questions arise about the legitimacy of the claims made by Fox' latest wannabe James O'Keefe, about that video purporting to show an "unprovoked attack" by "union thugs" outside the capital building in Lansing, MI this week. The most amazing part? Someone at The New York Times --- yes, thatNew York Times --- is one of those actually noticing the big honkin' edit in the middle of the video, rather than just reporting it all as unquestioned fact.
• Eric Holder spoke about the need to protect voting rights at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. We have more than a few bones to pick about it, but we'll just point you to the actual speech for the moment.
• Finally, for now, the critically acclaimed Zero Dark Thirty, the new theatrical film about the manhunt for Osama Bin Laden, reportedly glorifies the torture that led to his capture and killing, even though no torture whatsoever actually led to his capture and killing.
Very big news just out today for fans of the U.S. Constitution and equal protection under the law --- both conservative values, upheld by conservative Republican judge after conservative Republican judge across the country over recent years --- which we here at The BRAD BLOG strongly support.
And, once again, before sharing the news, our caveat to those who are against all of the above, a reminder that no matter how the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the issues surrounding marriage equality, it will never be mandatory that you get gay married...
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Friday to take its first serious look at the issue of gay marriage, granting review of California's ban on same-sex marriage and of a federal law that defines marriage as only the legal union of a man and a woman.
At the very least, the court will look at this question: When states choose to permit the marriages of same-sex couples, can the federal government refuse to recognize their validity? But by also taking up the California case, the court could get to the more fundamental question of whether the states must permit marriages by gay people in the first place.
The California case involves a challenge to Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment approved by 52 percent of voters in 2008. It banned same-sex marriages in the state and went into effect after 18,000 couples were legally married earlier that year.
A federal judge declared the ban unconstitutional, and a federal appeals court upheld that ruling, though on narrower grounds that apply only to California. Now that the Supreme Court is wading into the battle, the justices could decide the more basic issue of whether any state can ban same-sex marriage under the Constitution's guarantee of equal protection of the law. Or they could limit their ruling to apply only to the ban in California.
While we've been watching the situation, and talking about it on radio over the past week, here at The BRAD BLOG we've yet to have time to cover what's going on in Arizona --- most acutely in Maricopa County (Phoenix) --- where some half a million ballots remain untallied a week after the election when many Hispanic voters who thought they were registered to vote, were directed to cast a provisional ballot instead...for some reason.
Under Arizona law, those voters have until Wednesday to show up to the County Clerk's office with ID to prove they are who they said they were when they cast their ballots last week. The approximately 486,405 uncounted ballots across the state include 307,620 early ballots and 178,785 provisionals. That's 1 out of 4 ballots cast across the state still not included in the results, to date.
In the bargain, a whole bunch of Arizona races --- including their U.S. Senate race, a number of U.S. House races, and several state and local races --- remain officially "undecided" at the moment and/or could see their currently announced "winners" become losers.
The DoJ's Civil Rights Division, according to TPM, may, or may not, be keeping their eyes on the situation there.
The Hispanic community in the state, thankfully, is not taking this one sitting down...especially not after standing in line for hours just to cast their vote, or, in this case, provisional ballots that may or may not be counted. They have been surrounding the Maricopa County Clerk's office in a 24 hour vigil, and phone-banking to call those who were forced to vote provisionally, to let them know they need to get back to the Clerk's office ASAP to try and assure their vote actually gets counted.
This is among the darkest sides of the GOP's War on Democracy that we've been covering all year (for many years, actually) and the shameful battle continues at this hour. We may have more details in the days ahead (on this, and other uncounted ballots and undecided races in other states as well), but, for now, Rachel Maddow did a great overview on MSNBC last night, of the assault on democracy currently being played out in Arizona...
A little more than four months ago, when The BRAD BLOG first covered the ACLU's legal challenge to the deceptive ballot language that the MN GOP state legislature had used to describe its polling place Photo ID restriction initiative on the November 6 ballot, we expressed the concern that the legal challenge might succeed before the MN Supreme Court, yet fail in the court of public opinion. At the time public opinion polls revealed that 80% of Minnesota voters favored the amendment. We were wrong on both counts.
In August, a divided MN Supreme Court rejected the ACLU's challenge to the language used in the ballot question. By late September, the once popular "Photo ID needed to stop voter fraud" scam had become well enough debunked by so many that, as we we noted at the time, support for the misleading measure in the Land of 10,000 Lakes had "cratered" in public opinion polls there. And, finally, yesterday, MN voters reportedly rejected the Photo ID amendment by a decisive margin of 54% to 46%.
In our original coverage, we cited Mark Twain's famous quip that "a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes," and the pervasive failure of the mainstream media to expose the truth about the GOP's "Big Lie" about pretend "voter fraud." But we had underestimated the extent to which legal challenges to Photo ID and other forms of GOP voter suppression, especially in Pennsylvania, would compel MSM coverage and educate the public...
Earlier today, Brad Friedman reported in detail on the uncertified, "experimental" software patches that Ohio's Secretary of State Jon Husted (R) had secretly contracted [PDF] with Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S) to create and install at the very last minute onto electronic central vote tabulation systems in 39 Ohio counties, encompassing more than 4 million Buckeye State voters.
We noted that Bob Fitrakis, one of the Ohio journalists at the Columbus Free Press who had initially broken the story late last week, was planning to file a legal complaint and temporary restraining order in hopes of blocking the use of the mysterious, untested software on the ES&S central tabulation systems in those counties.
Late tonight, just hours from the official opening of Election Day polls in the Buckeye State tomorrow, we obtained copies of both the complaint [PDF] and the motion for a temporary restraining order [PDF] which have now been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division and where oral argument has been scheduled for tomorrow morning, Election Day, at 9am local time before Judge Gregory L. Frost, a George W. Bush appointee...
The Oct. 23, 2012 Third Party Presidential Debate between four candidates vying, along with President Obama and Mitt Romney, for the office of the U.S. Presidency, provided a rare, yet valuable glimpse at what a genuine, representative American democracy might look like. The worthy discussion, at the very least, should be read via text transcript, exclusively available here at The BRAD BLOG, for those who lack the time to watch the ninety minute video, embedded below.
Unlike Democracy Now's three expanded debates, which presented third party candidate responses to the questions posed at the three "official" Presidential debates and one Vice-Presidential debate sponsored by the so-called Commission on Presidential Debates, the Oct. 23 debate provided a forum that was not tethered to what co-moderator Christina Tobin of the Free and Equal Foundation, the organizers, described as "the private interests who control our beliefs, our opinions and our lives." Here, questions were neither posed directly by, nor filtered through corporate media-controlled moderators. Rather, they were presented, word-for-word, as submitted by citizens through social media.
With the single exception of the failure of Libertarian Candidate and former New Mexico Republican Governor Gary Johnson to say where he stood on "top-two" primaries (aka "Cajun primaries"), it was a debate in which all candidates left no room for doubt as to where they stood. It was a debate that included in-depth discussion on a wide variety of issues of vital importance, many of which were understandably evaded not only by the two major party Presidential candidates, but by the corporate media in the official debates, because those issues conflict with corporate wealth and power, including the wealth of the corporate-owned media.
It was a debate that began with Tobin's promise of future debates between "more candidates at every level of government" and ended with her surprise announcement of a final, foreign policy debate, next Tuesday, Oct. 30, commencing at 9:00 p.m. ET, broadcast via RT America, between two of the four candidates to be selected via an [ugh] online, instant run-off vote...
Democracy Now!'s "extended second debate" (see video below), featuring third-party candidate responses to questions from last week's "official" Presidential Debate at Hofstra University side-by-side with the two main party candidates, illustrates the malaise of an American electorate which senses a fundamental disconnect between the promise of "change we can believe in" offered up by one of two corporate sponsored candidates, even as political and economic inequality, outsourcing and war have expanded over the past four years.
Yet, the only other voice generally offered to the American electorate is the 21st century equivalent to a snake-oil salesman, whose entire work in the private sector, along with a brief stint as a governor, have been devoted to outsourcing, predatory capitalism and greater inequality. He is a candidate who not only seeks to retain the deficit-exploding Bush tax cuts, but wants to pile on with a $5 trillion pig-in-a-poke tax cut for the billionaire class. That tax-cut, coupled with a massive give-away to the military-industrial complex would, of necessity, reduce government to the point that it would be incapable of performing its constitutionally recognized core function of promoting the general welfare.
The comments made by Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party Presidential candidate, at the time of her unsuccessful attempt to enter the second Presidential debate --- an attempt which resulted in her being arrested and cuffed to a chair for eight hours --- along with the substantive dialogue produced by Stein, Justice Party Presidential candidate Rocky Anderson, and Constitution Party Presidential candidate Virgil Goode, Jr., during Democracy Now's "extended second debate", underscore what Noam Chomsky referred to in Failed States as the "democracy deficit" --- the significant gap between the policy positions of the vast majority of American citizens and the political elites who supposedly represent them...
We've been remiss in highlighting the smart work of comedian, activist and very smart social satirist Lee Camp here at The BRAD BLOG. He's done some terrific stuff on Election Integrity, voter suppression and e-voting issues, here for example. Or just do yourself a favor and browse his full YouTube channel here.
So, as I'm still clawing my way out from under the weather this week, allow me to let Camp fill you in on what happened last night when Green Party Presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein and her running mate Cheri Honkala --- who will be on 85% of the ballots in the U.S. this November, qualifying them for more than enough electorate votes to actually, ya know, win the Presidency --- were arrested and then reportedly shackled to metal chairs for 8 hours thereafter, for little more than having the temerity to show up and try to gain entrance to the "official" Presidential Debate at Hofstra University in New York.
I'm more than happy to associate myself with Camp's outrage...
Video of the arrest of the Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates, for "blocking traffic", and the somewhat remarkable transcript of what was said during the first part of it, courtesy of Democracy Now!, follows below...
The old baseball adage that three strikes and you are out applies to Ohio's Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted and his underhanded effort to emulate his predecessor, the infamous J. Kenneth Blackwell (R), by preventing Early Voting for all over the last three days before the November 6, 2012 election.
That effort, to restrict voting in those days to active-duty military voters only, was first rejected by U.S. District Court Judge Peter Economus (strike one!) whose decision was upheld in all aspects by a three judge panel of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeal --- strike two!
Now comes an order from the U.S. Supreme Court summarily rejecting Husted's eleventh hour request for a stay of Judge Economus' decision --- strike three!
When Brad Friedman interviewed the former Democratic Ohio Sec. of State Jennifer Brunner in mid-August, she explained how Husted's efforts to limit early voting were "clearly aimed at 'Souls to the Polls,'" the very successful effort by African-American churches to encourage their congregations to get out and vote on the Sunday before Election Day. During the 2008 election, nearly 100,000 largely Democratic-leaning voters cast their vote over that weekend.
Husted, who previously backed off an earlier effort to obstruct Judge Economus' initial order, filing an apology to the court in early September, has now issued a directive informing all County Election Boards "to open for early voting from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. on Nov. 3, 1-5 p.m. on Nov. 4 and 8 a.m.-2 p.m. on Nov. 5," according to the Chicago Tribune.
Contrary to the initial lie spun by the right wing echo chamber and by Mitt Romney himself, this case in no way impacted the right of military voters to cast Early Absentee ballots. To the contrary, it assured that all lawfully registered voters could do so.
This is a very clear victory for democracy.
UPDATE: The order [PDF] reveals that although Husted filed the application for a stay with Justice Kagan, she referred the request "to the Court," which, in turn, denied the stay without any dissents.