On Tuesday, a divided three judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that California's Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage --- a right that had otherwise previously existed for same sex couples in the state --- violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The majority opinion in Perry vs. Brown [PDF] this week decided an issue that was so narrow and so tightly crafted to meet the criteria of a 1996 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Romer v. Evans, that it minimized the chances that the U.S. Supreme Court will decide to hear the case, let alone reverse the decision.
As we examine the future course of the Prop 8 litigation, it's appropriate, if only briefly --- while this particular issue remains far away in the rear view mirror --- to offer a reminder of the still unresolved question as to whether CA voters actually approved the controversial measure at the ballot box in the first place...
The fully-militarized, post-9/11 Big Government Police State in these United States continues unabated, even as we've had to turn our attention here, of late, away from the Occupy Movement to cover the pretend democracy known as the 2012 Presidential Race.
This time, the OPD upped the ante by arresting some six journalists --- in violation of both Quan's previous (apparently pretend) directives, as well as the Department's own supposed procedures --- even as each of the journos claim to have clearly identified themselves as members of the media prior to being detained nonetheless. (At least the OPD didn't shoot at them this time.)
Among those six journalists attempting to do their jobs, was Mother Jones' Gavin Aronsen, who has been covering the Occupy movement on the ground in Oakland and San Francisco for months. He is a superb journalist who I had the privilege of working closely with last year in the course of my "Secret Koch Tapes" exclusives that I ran at MoJo in September.
Here's Aronsen's appalling account of what happened before and after his arrest on Saturday in Oakland. It includes this passage near the end for additional context (and for those who pretend to care about the Constitution, who I will get to in a minute):
"The Bay Area Occupy movement has got to stop using Oakland as their playground," Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said in a statement during last night's arrests that made no mention of her police department's lack of regard for journalists' First Amendment protections. Last week, the United States dropped 27 spots in Reporters Without Borders' annual press freedom index due to police treatment of journalists covering the Occupy Wall Street movement. By Josh Stearns's count, more than three dozen reporters have been arrested since the movement began last year in Manhattan.
Oakland isn't the only Occupy hot-spot where police appear to be continuing to abuse their Big Government powers to violently strip private citizens of their Constitutional rights. In Washington D.C., one of the few cities where Occupy encampments, until now, have been allowed to remain in place, police have announced that will be coming to an end as of a Monday deadline. Today.
To prepare for their big day, over the weekend the D.C. Police distributed "eviction notices" and warmed up their Tasers, as seen in this outrageous video shot on Sunday in our nation's capitol...
Had that ever happened to one --- just one --- so-called "Tea Partier", this nation would likely have descended into an all-out shooting civil war by now. Yet similar police abuses have been seen against Occupiers in state after state.
Such that what is seen in the video above, and the other acts mentioned, were done to fellow citizens whose Constitutional Rights the "Tea Party" doesn't give two shits about, their fake "grass roots" "movement", apparently, couldn't care less about any of these clear cases of the very "Big Government Tyranny" and stripping of Constitutional rights that they have long been allowed to pretend they give a damn about. They don't. They care about nothing more than electing Republicans to office. Period. The Constitution has absolutely nothing to do with any of it.
The title of historian Kevin Phillips' otherwise excellent work, Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich, is somewhat misleading. With the exception of constitutional monarchies, which preclude royalty from all but figurehead status, democracy and the concentration of great wealth cannot co-exist in the same society.
If citizens can see past the corporate media-erected contest of personalities so as to examine how it reflects the undemocratic structure of our society, the 2012 Presidential election can provide us with a teachable moment of great value. This is true whether we examine the flood of SuperPAC monies, courtesy of the now infamous Citizens United decision, the striking similarities in their methodology of wealth acquisition depicted both in the 1987 movie Wall Street through its fictional Gordon Gekko and in real life by Bain Capital and Mitt Romney, the ridiculously low 13.9% federal taxes on Romney's $21.7 million income in 2010, his extensive Goldman Sachs holdings and as much as $32 million maintained in off-shore accounts, or the fact that only one, essentially marginalized Presidential candidate in either of the two major political parties --- Ron Paul --- is willing to discuss an end to perpetual war and our global military presence.
Here, Mitt "Gordon Gekko" Romney provides the principle focus, not because of personality, or "envy", but because his candidacy affords an opportunity to explore the inconsistency between wealth and democracy...
No, we didn't go looking for these stories, just happened to come across them. So perhaps there are others out there that we missed this week. Perhaps there is evidence of Democratic extremists similarly targeting Republicans with brutal violence and threats of brutal violence. If so, we haven't seen it.
This all takes place on the very same week in which Arizona's Democratic Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was finally forced to resign from the U.S. House of Representatives while she attempts to continue recovering her brain function after being shot in the head and nearly killed just over one year ago this month in Tucson, AZ (Not far from where the cop near Phoenix proudly posted the bullet-ridden photo of Obama). While six others were killed during the same incident in Tucson, as the shooter used a legal weapon allowing him to get off some 30 shots per clip, federal and state lawmakers have failed to do a damned thing about any of it.
At the end of a January 3rd's Caucus Night in Iowa, our headline, written initially when Rick Santorum was momentarily up over Romney by just 4 votes, was "Santorum 'Wins' Iowa, Everyone Else Doesn't". An hour or so after we'd called it a night, the Iowa GOP stepped forward to declare Romney, not Santorum, had actually "won" by a slim 8 votes out of some 122,000 cast.
Finally today, the GOP has been forced to admit that Santorum was indeed the winner. Though our headline three Tuesday's ago was just slightly more accurate than the GOP's declaration for Romney that night. In truth, there was another winner in Iowa: The Voters.
It took just over two weeks for the GOP to admit it, but the party's final reported results from the hand-marked paper ballots cast on January 3rd, hand-counted in front of the public on Election Night (cast by voters who were not turned away for lack of a state-issued Photo ID) are there to tell the tail of who really won the all-important "First-in-the-Nation" Iowa Caucuses. The GOP couldn't have successfully lied about it if they'd wanted to. Oh, they could have tried. In fact, they did as Iowa's GOP chair Matthew Strawn announced just after 1p ET "Congratulations to Governor Mitt Romney, winner of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses." And the corporate media would have gone along with them --- and, in fact, they did, ever since the GOP's attempted lie on Election Night --- but the truth would have always been there for the public to see nonetheless.
Nobody ever had to rest their faith on a single source, like a political party or a candidate or a voting machine company --- though the media was all too happy to do so before moving on to New Hampshire. There was always a transparent, overseeable, system of checks and balances --- just as our Constitution envisions for the nation's governance as a whole --- there to assure that self-governance had a fighting chance to be more than a bumper sticker slogan hauled out when convenient, ignored when not.
Because the Iowa GOP allowed the people to oversee the counting of their own election, right then and there at the caucus sites, before ballots were moved anywhere, it was next to impossible for them to successfully game the system --- just as Edward True had proven two nights after the Jan 3rd Caucuses.
And speaking of Edward True, the Republican Party of Iowa owes this man, this patriot, this Ron Paul supporter a huge apology...
I admit it, I was skeptical they could even come up with the 540k they needed to trigger a recall election of the Republican anti-union Gov. Scott Walker in the Badger State, much less the 720k that was their goal. But they did. And then some. And then a whole lot more, actually.
Wisconsin Democrats announced Tuesday that they have collected over a million signatures to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker — nearly twice the 540,208 signatures, or 25 percent of the total votes in the previous election for governor, needed to trigger a new election.
The Dems are also submitting separate petitions for: Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (845,000 signatures, showing some amount of drop-off from the Walker papers, but still well above the same 540,208 threshold); State Sen. Pam Galloway; State Sen. Terry Moulton; State Sen. Van Wanggaard; and state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (who was not originally a top target of the state party, but against whom the local Walker-recall organizers took the extra initiative).
They really must not like that Walker guy or something. Special kudos to Lori Compas of RecallFitz.com for taking the extra initiative to lead the effort to put Fitzgerald's job on the line as well. As noted above, the state Democratic Party hadn't targeted the Senate Majority Leader, who was thought to be in a safely Republican district. Compas felt otherwise and decided to take action on her own without the backing of the party. That action appears to have been wildly successful, so far. (I interviewed Compas on the Mike Malloy Show back in December just before Christmas. That interview is here.)
For his part, Walker said in response to the more-than-one-million of his constituents who want him fired: "I expect Wisconsin voters will stand with me and keep moving Wisconsin forward."
For my part, I'm deeply buried in a mess of a story in an entirely different state right now. So, for the moment, I'm happy to pass you on over to Kleefeld's coverage for more on what comes next in the process. Suffice to say, this busy year is going to be much busier than planned. For everybody.
How out of touch are some in Congress? This out of touch...
In the fight against the federal Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) working it's way through Congress --- a bill with bi-partisan support, but opposed by many in the Internet community who charge that it will result in government censorship and the dampening of free speech --- the hacktivist collective Anonymous has launched "Operation Hiroshima" against governmental and corporate supporters of the bill.
The group has now posted some personal information of Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes and Viacom/CBS' Sumner Redstone online, and several lawmakers and their aides have also become targets of the worldwide citizens brigade of "outlaw" hackers.
One 25-year-old Congressional aide’s face was superimposed on to pornographic images by a purportedly ‘Anonymous’-affiliated group. Another aide expressed bafflement as to why hackers would resort to these types of tactics, saying, “Why can’t they just hire a lobbyist like everyone else?”
[Now UPDATED with tonight's nightmarish audio archives below! Enjoy!!!]
Mike has the night off! So we're back! Guest hosting the nationally-syndicated Mike Malloy Show on Friday the 13th! It's a Nightmare on Malloy Street!...
We'll be BradCasting all the horror LIVE from 9pm-Mid ET (6p-9p PT), coast-to-coast and around the uprising globe from the studios of L.A.'s KTLK am1150 in beautiful downtown Burbank. Join us by tuning in, chatting in, Tweeting in and calling in! Our LIVE chat room will be up and rolling right here at The BRAD BLOG, as usual, while we are on the air. Please stop by and join the fun while you're listening! (The Chat Room will open at the bottom of this item a few minutes before airtime, see down below, just above "Comments" section.)
Scheduled tonight (so far):
YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE! Me! With three hours over our public airwaves to talk about Iowa, New Hampshire & South Carolina voting nightmares! The nightmare that is Election 2012! And other related and unrelated nightmares!
GRAEME ZIELINSKI, Spokesman from the Wisconsin state Democratic Party, with some late breaking news on the "Recall Scott Walker" effort in the Badger State!
PLUS! The fraud that is James O'Keefe; the "cold" War against Iran; the failure that is the NY Times; the GOP wants more corporate money in campaigns; and all the nightmares on your minds, via your calls over your public airwaves at 877-520-1150 and your tweets to @TheBradBlog!...
POST-SHOW UPDATE: Tonight's show was a NIGHTMARE! Don't believe me? You can now listen to the full show, sans commercials, in the archives posted below. (You can also read the nightmarish chat room archives below too!) Be afraid...Be very afraid!...
I am old enough to remember not only the civil rights movement but that, amongst all the Southern Jim Crow states, Mississippi had absolutely the worst reputation. It was the state where, in 1955, Emmett Till, a 14-year old African-American from Chicago was lynched, burned and so badly mutilated his own mother couldn't recognize his corpse --- all because he whistled at a white woman (we'll spare you the horrific photo, but it's available here if you'd like to see it); where, in 1963, the NAACP's Medgar Evers was gunned down outside his home; where, in 1964, three civil rights workers attempting to register voters were lynched.
I have no doubt that the 83% of MS whites who, this past November, as we now learn in a new analysis, voted in favor of a state constitutional amendment that would mandate polling place photo ID restrictions as a prerequisite to voting --- as compared to more than 75% of non-whites who voted against polling place photo ID --- would vehemently deny their vote was racially motivated. They would do so even though African-Americans are more than three times more likely to lack photo IDs than whites and even though study-after-study has exposed the lie in the GOP's baseless claims that such laws are needed to prevent "voter fraud."
But I am also relatively certain that race played a role in the inability of so many of the children and grandchildren of formerly Jim Crow Mississippi to appreciate what it is that photo ID truly seeks to accomplish...
Long ago discredited, federally convicted criminal, Rightwing con-artist, pretend journalist, and accomplished liar James O'Keefe is pimping another secretly-taped and selectively-edited video sure to be a sensation on Fox "News" and at other Republican propaganda venues. It purports to show several voters showing up at polling places during New Hampshire's primary on Tuesday and giving the names of recently deceased voters to poll workers before procuring ballots to vote under those names.
The video, about which O'Keefe lies on his own website, is certain to add more phony fuel to Republicans' long-unsupported claims that people are regularly impersonating dead people at the polling place in order to vote illegally, an allegation which has absolutely no evidence to support it. The aim of the video is clearly is to shore up GOP attempts to institute polling place Photo ID restrictions, meant to do little more than disenfranchise Democratic-leaning constituencies such as the elderly, minorities and student voters, under the fraudulent guise of curbing "voter fraud."
As New Hampshire does not require a Photo ID before one is allowed to cast a legal vote, O'Keefe uses the video to try and create the impression that voting under the name of a recently deceased person is both simple and regularly done. It isn't. But that's his scam this week.
As usual, O'Keefe's video looks as if it represents something that is damning. That's his stock in fraudulent trade, and that's usually more than enough to reinforce the biases of the incurious who've been long-brainwashed, through a well-organized and well-funded GOP effort, into believing that something Rightwingers say is happening certainly must be happening --- despite a dearth of evidence to show that it actually is happening.
At the Project Veritas site, O'Keefe lies about the video, claiming at the end of his short article accompanying it, that "the unedited videos from part one of the Voter Fraud investigation" have been made available as well. They haven't. He has lied about that. Again. Moreover, as several other sites reported on Wednesday, it's possible that O'Keefe and his band of merry fraudsters have also broken both federal and state laws.
But setting his various lies and possible criminal actions aside for now, let's first look at the supposedly "unedited" version of the videos O'Keefe offers up, and then I'll be happy to dismantle the underpinnings of this ruse below it...
Did you know that Democrats will have a progressive alternative to President Barack Obama on the ballot in New Hampshire tomorrow? We're guessing you didn't.
Moreover, how ironic is it that Darcy G. Richardson, the only progressive Democrat with the courage to challenge the incumbent Democratic President in tomorrow's "First-in-the-Nation" primary, at one time managed the 1988 Presidential campaign of the late Sen. Eugene J. McCarthy? It was McCarthy's receipt of 42% of the vote in the 1968 NH Democratic primary which led to the announcement by President Lyndon B. Johnson that he would neither seek nor accept the nomination of the Democratic Party for President.
How predictable is it, given the utter failure of the corporate owned media to fulfill its constitutionally envisioned function of insuring an informed electorate, that so few Americans are so much as aware of the fact that President Obama is not running "unopposed" in tomorrow's 2012 NH Democratic Primary?
In the latest tracking poll released out of New Hampshire, the Suffolk University/7 NEWS poll [PDF], TX Governor Rick Perry receives 1% support from 500 likely voters in the Granite State. Former LA Governor and four-term U.S. Congressman Buddy Roemer also received 1%. In fact, Roemer received approval from a higher number of respondents (6) than Perry did (4). And yet, Perry was allowed to participate in both last night's GOP Presidential debate in NH as televised on ABC, as well as this morning's on NBC. Roemer was not allowed to participate in either of them.
In fact, out of some 16 GOP Presidential debates to date, Roemer has not been allowed to participate in a single one of them.
The exclusion of Roemer from every single Republican Presidential Debate provides but the latest example of how the corporate-owned media limits the ability of the American people to elect --- or even hear from --- individuals who challenge oligarchic corporate control of our ostensibly democratic institutions.
A candidate like Roemer, who has embraced Occupy Wall Street and spoken (and Tweeted) powerfully and openly and passionately and continuously against the corrupting influence of corporate money on our democratic institutions, poses a direct threat to the corporate media bottom line --- a corporate media which is looking forward to approximately $3 billion in political ad revenues in 2012, courtesy of Citizens United --- the U.S. Supreme Court's infamous 2010 decision which has flung the door wide open to the corrupting influence of unlimited anonymous corporate campaign expenditures.
This week, the Montana Supreme Court stood up to the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, rejecting the much-criticized 2010 federal decision by declaring that, in their state at least, a century-old prohibition on corporate money in local politics will be allowed to stand.
By way of a 5-2 decision in Western Tradition Partnership, Inc. vs. Attorney General of Montana [PDF], the state's high court upheld the constitutionality of the long-standing Corrupt Practices Act of 1912, which prevents direct contributions by corporations to candidates or political committees. The law does not, however, prohibit voluntary individual contributions to separate segregated funds created by shareholders, employees or members of a corporation.
The state law also mandates disclosure of who pays for political communications, while the 2010 Citizens United ruling allows for unlimited secret money to flood into campaigns, for use either for or against any particular candidate.
The majority opinion in the Montana case, written by Chief Justice Mike McGrath, sought to distinguish their state law from Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission [PDF] by pointing to factors in the state --- its dependence upon agriculture and extractive resource development, as well as its sparse population and history of low campaign expenditures --- which, he claimed, make the state "especially vulnerable to...corporate control to the detriment of democracy".
Even one of the dissenters in the MT decision, Justice James C. Nelson, while making clear that he believes the SCOTUS decision likely takes legal precedent over their own state law, offered a blistering critique to the very underpinnings of Citizens United --- a case we previously predicted "will live in infamy" --- by taking direct aim at the absurd concept of "corporate personhood" in his dissenting opinion...
It was a picture perfect day for a parade in Pasadena today. The sun was shining, the temperature was warm, and the crowds were in great spirits in time for early 8am start of the 123rd annual Tournament of Roses Parade.
The parade would be covered on not one, but two local TV stations. NBC 4 would carry the live network feed hosted by Al Roker and Shaun Robinson, while the local KTLA 5 station (owned by the rightwing Tribune Media) would feature Bob Eubanks and Stephanie Edwards in their 30th year of parade coverage.
Today's parade was "crafted to help you dream about things you can imagine," Eubanks helpfully opened with to his TV audience. The parade's theme float, "'Just Imagine' sponsored by Wells Fargo" kicked things off, followed by a flyover of a U.S. Air Force B2 Stealth Bomber and then the U.S. Marine Corp color guard on horses followed by their marching band and a jaunty rendition of the Marines' Hymn.
The corporate banks and military industrial complex received premiere TV coverage right off the bat, prominently featured at the top of both corporate network and local television broadcasts.
The thousands of marchers --- LA Weekly pegged it at some 5,000 --- from the Occupy Wall Street movement, who had been granted a permit to march, and who had come from all over, on their own dime, to participate in the parade? Not so much. Not at all, actually...