[Hat-tip Lee Camp on the Twitters]
w/ Brad & Desi
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
|MORE BRAD BLOG 'SPECIAL COVERAGE' PAGES...|
[Hat-tip Lee Camp on the Twitters]
29-year old former CIA technical assistant and current NSA third-party contractor Edward Snowden has decided to out himself as the source of the leaked national security documents exposing the U.S. government's massive secret telephone records collection and secret access to nine major Internet services providers, as published by journalist Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian over the course of the past week.
"Any analyst, at any time, can target anyone...anywhere," he tells Greenwald in a video interview published this morning by the Guardian, as recorded in Hong Kong where Snowden has taken refuge for the time being. He adds that, "increasingly", secret intelligence collection is "happening domestically."
"Not all analysts have the ability to target everything," he explains. "But I, sitting at my desk, certainly had the authorities to wiretap anyone, from you or your accountant to a federal judge or even the President if I had a personal email."
Prior to his decision to leak certain classified and top secret documents about "this massive surveillance machine" he said is being secretly built by the government --- documents which, he says, he reviewed specifically to make sure nobody was personally exposed by them --- Greenwald reports, in a separate article, that he "had 'a very comfortable life' that included a salary of roughly $200,000, a girlfriend with whom he shared a home in Hawaii, a stable career, and a family he loves."
"I carefully evaluated every single document I disclosed to ensure that each was legitimately in the public interest," he is quoted as telling the Guardian. "There are all sorts of documents that would have made a big impact that I didn't turn over, because harming people isn't my goal. Transparency is."
Thanks to his leaks from the NSA, "Snowden will go down in history as one of America's most consequential whistleblowers alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning" writes Greenwald, with fellow Guardian journalists Ewen MacAskill and Laura Poitras today.
"The public needs to decide whether these programs and policies are right or wrong," Snowden tells Greenwald in the fascinating video interview...
A decade ago, Snowden had enlisted in the U.S. Army in hopes of going to Iraq with the Special Forces, the Guardian reports. He became disenchanted, he says, when "Most of the people training us seemed pumped up about killing Arabs, not helping anyone." Following a serious injury during training, he was discharged, and eventually made his way into the intelligence field, and now the pages of history.
When asked why he decided to expose these programs, and now come out publicly about them at this time, as opposed to staying in the shadows until otherwise discovered, Snowden explains in the video...
Since the latest round of "ScandalMania" began, and long before it, we've been writing about how Fox "News" Republicans have been suddenly pretending to care about "Big Government" overreach.
In truth, they've never given a damn about any of it, unless it seemed to be something they could use to hurt Barack Obama and Democrats in some way. But, even then, the fake outrage was extraordinarily selective.
With yesterday's revelation by Glenn Greenwald at the UK Guardian, exposing the Obama NSA's secret FISA court order to obtain blanket access to months of records from "all telephone calls in [Verizon's] systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries," one might be dumb enough to think that Fox and the Republicans and, especially, U.S. House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Darrel Issa, would be in an absolute uproar upon learning of the President's tyrannical Big Government overreach and invasion into the private lives of American citizens.
But, of course, we're not that dumb.
Other than Sen. Rand Paul, apparently, few on the Right could care less about any of it. That is, of course, because they never actually cared about Big Government or tyranny or invasions into the private lives of American citizens in the first place.
Alex Seitz-Wald at Salon explains it well, noting that between the time the story broke last night and about 2pm ET this afternoon, Fox "News" and Fox Business, together, had mentioned the story only three times. "Two were quick straight news segments, while the third was a little riff from the 'Fox and Friends' crew." At the same time, he writes, "Fox and Fox Business have mentioned the nine-month-old Libya scandal over 25 times"...
This afternoon, World Net Daily, the Birther news website, blasted out an email to readers: "Mother of all scandals: Obama’s war on Christians."
"This should be a litmus test for Republicans: either take action against this program, or never invoke liberty or limited government again," Conor Friedersdorf tweeted, regarding the NSA story.
And, of course, that was all before Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill's arguably even more alarming story today (also confirmed by Washington Post) revealing a massive, previously undisclosed, top secret NSA program named PRISM which now affords the agency "direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian." The program, they report, allows "officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats."
Fox and friends are, no doubt, scrambling, even now, to ignore that story as thoroughly and as quickly as possible as well. Because, ya know, Benghazi! Or something...Or, maybe its the fact that both programs were begun under George W. Bush, back when Fox and friends didn't even pretend to give a damn about Big Government overreach --- other than when they were calling for more of it.
In case you can't read it, the text of the identical letters, believed to contain deadly ricin --- as sent last week to President Barack Obama, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and to his gun safety organization, Mayors Against Illegal Guns (as well as to an Air Force Base and the CIA) from a Shreveport, LA post office --- follows below...
Well, that tears it! I'm convinced by his water-tight argument. We must fight to ensure every American --- just like the guy who wrote the letter above --- is able to buy any weapon he likes, with as much ammo as he likes, with as many magazines, of any size, as he likes, with no oversight, tracking or background checks whatsoever! I see no down side.
It is, after all, a "constitutional God given right" and who are we to put limits on what God wants (and wrote directly into our Constitution)?
Sure, laugh now. But, to paraphrase, "First they came for the attempted assassins," etc...
Rachel Maddow's quick take on the above, and a spate of similar incidents of late, follows below...
While the U.S. corporate-owned media misdirect our attention by focusing on various pretend "scandals", the Obama administration has quietly sought "fast track authority" to secretly negotiate and ram through Congress the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The TPP is a NAFTA-like "free trade" agreement that not only threatens our national sovereignty, but aspires to supplant the sovereignty of all participating nation-states with a privately-controlled, all encompassing, corporate, global "investor state". The "investor-state" finds its embodiment in the creation of arbitration tribunals which are granted the power to negate the effectiveness of laws passed by individual nation-states.
As explained by Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese, through TPP, U.S. corporations and their K-Street lobbyists seek to by-pass the legislative process and democratic accountability in order to undermine Internet freedom, U.S. environmental laws and regulations and local laws protecting the health and safety of our citizenry. "Many of those corporations that have failed to get what they want from Congress are now getting their way through the secret back door of the TPP," they write. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has also issued a warning that Wall Street is attempting to gut Dodd-Frank through trade agreements such as TPP.
But, as government watchdog group Public Citizen observes, TPP --- which is now augmented by a joint U.S./E.U. call for a similar Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement --- threatens not only U.S. sovereignty but the ability of all nations to protect their own citizenry through the expansion of an already "notorious investor-state system". Such a system allows ethically compromised international business arbitration tribunals to compel nation-states to fork over "taxpayer-funded" penalties to predominantly U.S.-based, multinational corporations as the result of "domestic regulatory frameworks concerning nuclear energy and currency stability, revocation of mining and oil licenses (often in response to contract violations), and numerous other government measures affecting public health, financial stability, access to essential services and the environment."
What, you hadn't heard about this? Perhaps because the corporate media, and both major political parties, would prefer you keep your eyes on the shiny, pretend objects (Benghazi "scandal"! IRS "scandal"!) rather than the policies supported by both parties that will actually have a very real impact on your life and our country...
In a white paper issued in March, the California Federation of Labor (CFL) called for reforms to "undo the damage" wrought by SB 899, a California GOP-sponsored workers' compensation "reform" bill that was touted by AP in April 2004 as “one of the biggest victories of [then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's] new political career".
The celluloid action hero insisted the "reform" was necessary to curtail the spiraling costs of workers' compensation insurance for California employers.
As the CFL white paper correctly notes, the rationale behind Schwarzenegger's workers' compensation "reform" legislation was largely a scam. Like so many other investment schemes, the source of spiraling workers' compensation costs can be found in the 1993 deregulation of the insurance industry and a subsequent burst of a workers' compensation insurance investment bubble. Yet, Schwarzenegger refused to include limits on the rates insurance companies could charge employers as part of his "reform" package.
Despite an initial drop in the cost of workers' compensation insurance in California, costs have again climbed --- so much so that, according to a May 15 article that appeared in the Ventura County Star, "the Port of Hueneme is preparing to pay 120 percent more for workers' compensation insurance" in the coming year.
Contrary to the philandering actor-turned-Governor's claims that the savings would not be extracted from the backs of injured workers, SB 899 contained drastic reductions in benefits --- so drastic that, in a 2004 letter published by Los Angeles Times, after pointing out that I had represented litigants in workers' compensation proceedings since 1979 and was regarded by my peers as an exceptionally effective litigator, I warned California employees that if they were injured on the job, God help them because I was not sure I could.
Whatever efforts are now made to "undo the damage" wrought by SB 899, they will come too late for my client, Charles Romano. Thanks to the law's massive reduction in prohibitive penalties that could have been assessed for bad faith refusals to furnish vital, life-sustaining medical treatment --- the new penalties are a drop-in-the-bucket compared to what it had cost to keep him alive --- Charles is no longer with us...
As we noted last week was likely to be the case, when the entire Republican state Senate GOP caucus came on board in support, today marriage equality became the law of the land in Rhode Island.
We'll let Fox "News" tell you about it, since it surely pains them to do so.
RI becomes the 10th state in the union to allow gay couples to enjoy the same constitutionally-protected equal rights to marriage as everyone else.
Our condolences to all of the straight couples in those states who have had their marriages destroyed because of it.
It was quite a moving show last night in the Nevada State Senate, as a Joint Resolution was passed that would repeal the Constitutional ban on marriage equality in that state, as passed by voters over a decade ago.
All of the state Senate's Democrats supported the resolution, and one Republican jumped onto the right side of history in a surprise last-minute move. One Democratic Senator even came out as gay during the floor proceedings.
The measure passed the Nevada Senate 12 to 9 and will now head to the Assembly. If successful there, it will face one more vote in both chambers in 2015 before appearing on the 2016 ballot for approval by voters who, according to recent polls there, are now believed to be in favor of lifting the ban. So, as MLK famously said, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."
Dramatic speeches on the floor during debate on the resolution led even jaded long-time Nevada report Jon Ralston, who covered the debate live via his Twitter feed, to observe: "Too often we who cover politics think of these people as automatons pressing a red or green button. Not tonight. Raw, emotional, human."
"Great to be not just a witness to history (or the beginning, at least), but to see politicians stripped down to who they are was something," he noted, before adding: "I feel sorry for reporters who weren't here to feel the electricity in this chamber."
But with Democrats across the country now seemingly falling over themselves to suddenly support marriage equality --- redefining the word "evolution" (or, perhaps, more accurately, attempting to redefine the word "flip-flop") --- even Republicans, at least Republicans in the Northeast, are also now showing signs of scrambling to get onto the right side of history as well.
This early evidence of that arrived in my inbox this morning, from the FreedomToMarry.org group...
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.
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...
In 2004, in one of our earliest posts on this site (our 15th, in fact) we declared "gay marriage" to be a "done deal".
Six years later, in late 2010, after a number of good court decisions in the week or two prior, largely in regard the military's now-defunct discriminatory "Don't Ask Don't Tell" (DADT) policy, we wrote:
Well before the end of this decade (and likely far sooner than that, perhaps even before the end of Obama's first term in office), marriage equality for gays and lesbians will be recognized in every state in the union, and homosexuals will be as welcome in our nation's military as African-Americans.
It's over. The good guys have won. In these quiet victories of rights over wrongs, we can all take some quiet comfort, even in these maddening, ugly days.
The bad guys may not have come to terms with it yet, they may not have even noticed yet, but they have lost.
Well, as of this week, it looks like "the bad guys" finally have noticed and are in the process of coming to terms with it...
It's been a big gay week at the U.S. Supreme Court! So it seemed time to call on my friend Mike Rogers of RawStory.com to join me on the KPFK BradCast to talk about it all.
Rogers has joined me over the years for various 'Big Gay Hours' on the radio --- going all the way back to the darkest anti-gay years of 2004 and 2005 when the campaign against marriage equality had first been weaponized by the Republican Party. So it is with some joy that we were able to mark the extraordinary victories, and speed with which they have happened, for the gay community, as well as for those of us in the constitutional conservative community who believe in things like Equal Protection under the Law, etc.
We discussed both the CA Prop 8 and DOMA hearings this week at SCOTUS, how we all got here, and what has become of some of those closeted gay politicians who fought against gay rights and inspired Rogers to become an investigative blogger, open his old BlogActive.com site and begin reporting (and outing) the hypocrites standing in the way of equality for all. His work, outing folks such as Sen. Larry Craig and others, eventually helped to inspire Kirby Dick's 2009 documentary Outrage (in which he is featured).
We played and discussed some of the clips from this week's hearings, including some of the shameful performances from Justice Antonin "Just Makin' Shit Up Again" Scalia, Prop 8 proponent attorney Charles Cooper and the Obama Administration's horrible Solicitor General Donald Verrilli.
I also covered a bit of the mysterious Florida Election cyberhack story out of Miami-Dade (and a new clue to the mystery), and Desi Doyen joined me to have a laugh at the Tennessee "conservatives" who've suddenly found an amusing reason to finally give a damn about mountaintop removal mining, and for the latest Green News Report...
Download MP3 or listen online below...
Before things turn too ugly this week, let's take a moment to flag four great progressive things --- arguably, four great conservative progressive things --- which all happened on Friday.
The first two items got a fair amount of notice, the second two, not so much. But since they all happened on the same day, and that day was Friday, when such stories tend to disappear all together, they are all worth briefly flagging here to make sure you're aware of them...
After the two court rulings above on Friday, former Constitutional attorney and civil liberties champion Glenn Greenwald tweeted wryly: "Wow ... it's like we have a 3rd branch or something."
Much of this nation's government, all three branches, are largely stuck and broken in the muck and mire of partisan, corporate-sponsored quagmire or worse. So the fact that we had four important, not-horrible, arguably excellent things happen within that quagmire all on the same day on Friday are worth, at least, noting here for the record.
A session today at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) titled "Trump the Race Card: Are you Sick and Tired of Being Called a Racist and You Know You're Not One?", as sponsored by the Tea Party Patriots, didn't work out as well as organizers had planned. Or maybe it did.
Things fell apart at the year's most prestigious Republican event in DC, during questioning at the session by one white southern attendee who felt that his "people and culture" were being "systematically disenfranchised" by the federal government. It's a problem, he made clear, that "all the Tea Parties" were concerned about.
God bless the event's African-American presenter, K. Carl Smith, who tried to put out the fire (somehow) by explaining that Frederick Douglass had written a letter to his former slave master expressing his forgiveness.
"For what?," the attendee Scott Terry of North Carolina asked. "For feeding him and housing him?"
Clearly, Terry, who was sitting next to a friend in a Confederate flag t-shirt, was sick and tired of being called a racist when he --- like so many others in the oppressed minority that is the Republican Party --- knew he was not one.
On Rachel Maddow's show last night, she opened with an interesting and lengthy segment on the difficulty of moving gun safety regulations through Congress over the years, even in the aftermath of JFK's assassination.
This chart, however, and the quick thoughts on it that followed, caught my eye. It's based on details from a new Washington Post poll released Tuesday, asking "Would you support or oppose a law requiring background checks on people buying guns at gun shows?"...
When the Senate Judiciary Committee today moved a universal background checks bill --- they moved it through committee to send to a floor vote in the Senate later this week --- do you want to know how many Republicans voted for universal background checks on the committee? Zero. The vote was 10 to 8. All the Democrats vote in favor. All the Republicans voted against.
All the Republicans voted against something with 91% support among the public. Tell me how this ends for the Republican Party.
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