Standing up to the NRA after Roanoke, horrifying U.S. gun death toll; PLUS: Denying global warming on Katrina's 10th anniversary; Trump's ugly nativism; Good news for Dems; Marriage dead-enders in KY...
The Nation's John Nichols on new revelations of Scott Walker lying about a criminal investigation and on the Black Lives Matter movement and Sanders a better candidate; Plus: Big news for Bernie & more!
Catching up on a lot that fell through the cracks during last week's busy news week. From Jon Stewart to new toxic spill in SW to sentencing verdict for Aurora shooter to GOP debate answers media aren't discussing & more...
But what we didn't realize at the time --- not apparent from the photo, but seen in the following, remarkable video --- he was also standing stone still as tear gas canisters were exploding all around him...
I can't help but look at the faces of the police in gas masks, presumably from the Oakland PD (though there were some 17 other agencies there that night) in that haunting video, as they look at the sailor, and wonder what they must be thinking to themselves as that hero stands facing them. We have previously written about the extraordinary violations of the First Amendment that have occurred across the country during these otherwise peaceful demonstrations. What thoughts are going through the minds of those men --- all of whom are undoubtedly also a part of the same "99%" for whom Occupy protesters are fighting --- during that moment?
[UPDATE: The sailor has now been identified as Joshua Shepherd. See his interview on DemocracyNow! here.]
And, as another photograph now reveals, look who happens to be standing right next to the sailor seen above, in the moments just prior to the Oakland PD's tear gas assault...
Once again, late last night, as is becoming a too-regular nightly ritual, after the 11p news was over, police moved in again to violate the Constitutional First Amendment right "of the people peaceably to assemble." And, for the second night in a row, late last night in Oakland, CA, it resembled a war zone as police in riot gear unleashed a punishing onslaught of "non-lethal" flash-bang grenades, rubber (and or bean-bag) bullets and tear gas --- hour after hour, round after round --- injuring demonstrators, including women, the disabled, and even Iraq War veterans...
The results were horrific, according to video, photos, and eye-witness reports as it all happened and was reported on Twitter, including this scene appearing to show a member of Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War knocked out by either a concussive grenade or a tear gas canister or another projectile, and being carried away...
[Update]: The veteran seen above was shot in the head and the UK Guardian is now confirming his name is Scott Olsen and that he is in "critical condition" with a "skull fracture and swelling of the brain" at Highland hospital.
"It's terrible to go over to Iraq twice and come back injured, and then get injured by the police that are supposed to be protecting us," his roommate, Keith Shannon, also 24, who served alongside Olsen as a Marine in Iraq, told the Guardian in a late follow-up today.
Other scenes were similarly gruesome and, yes, shameful...
Occupy Albany protesters in New York’s capital city received an unexpected ally over the week: The state and local authorities.
According to the Albany Times Union, New York state troopers and Albany police did not adhere to a curfew crackdown on protesters urged by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and Albany mayor Gerald Jennings.
Mass arrests seemed to be in the cards once Jennings directed officers to enforce the curfew on roughly 700 protesters occupying the city owned park.
With protesters acting peacefully, local and state police agreed that low level arrests could cause a riot, so they decided instead to defy Cuomo and Jennings.
What part of the Constitutional First Amendment "right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances," do so many of the other cops across the nation not yet understand?
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By the way, with Cuomo's attempted crackdown and Obama's former Chief of Staff, now Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel's approval of the arrests of 175 peaceful Occupiers in Chicago over the weekend, can we stop with the "Occupiers are just fronts for Democrats!" bullshit yet?
As registered nurses --- a number of whom were held in jail for some 23 hours after being arrested Saturday night, early Sunday morning while offering medical services to demonstrators in Grant Park --- protested the arrests outside Emanuel's office this morning, he was quoted by the Chicago Trib as saying: "I have to enforce the law as well as respect peoples’ 1st Amendment rights."
And when those two things come in to conflict, which one do you suppose Emanuel decided took precedence over the other?
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Also...not from Albany, though somewhat related to the above. From from New York City, via ThinkProgress, a couple of weeks ago...
That'll teach 'em to mess with the Military-Industrial Complex.
As the Washington Post reported earlier this month, Maryland's "Montgomery County Council resolution asking Congress to spend less on wars and redirect the funds to social programs has drawn the scrutiny of one of the county’s largest employers and other lawmakers."
Despite the non-binding resolution's [PDF] 5 to 4 majority support on the Council, it was withdrawn from consideration after "Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin," a giant manufacturer of sophisticated military weapons, "which employs more than 5,000 workers in Montgomery, urged county officials against the resolution."
The Lockheed lobbyists were joined in their efforts to derail the County Council's resolution --- supported by Democratic members of the council --- by Democratic state and county officials concerned about implications of insulting the weapons contractor giant, while officials in neighboring Virginia "gleefully watch[ed] from afar" as the two states are in frequent competition for billions of Pentagon dollars and the jobs that portend to go with them.
But Pentagon dollars are among the least efficient ways to increase jobs and wealth in any given community, as explained by John Feffer, a co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies and Jean Athey, a coordinator of Montgomery County Peace Action, a supporter of the now-withdrawn Montgomery resolution:
Spend a billion dollars on the military, economists Robert Pollin and Hedi Garrett-Peltier estimate, and you get about 11,000 jobs (just a little more than what Lockheed Martin employs in all of Maryland). Spend that same billion dollars on clean energy projects and you generate about 17,000 jobs. The same money invested in education produces nearly 30,000 jobs.
Nonetheless, Lockheed and other longtime members of the Military-Industrial Complex continue to work with public officials in exploiting the "jobs scam" in order to pit state against state, county against county and town against town to bilk tax-payers out of billions under the cynical rubrik of "job creation."
And when that doesn't work, there are other, darker methods that can be used to send the "right" message to those members of the public who might have the temerity to oppose their corporate interests...
...the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Isn't that quaint?
Josh Holland takes a look at what happened to that apparently antiquated notion from the document which used to carry some weight in the way this country was governed, as he notes that some 1,500 American citizens have now been arrested while peaceably assembling to petition the Government for a redress of grievances over the past month since Occupy Wall Street began.
Last night, while the GOP debated Casino Capitalism (in an actual casino!), Give Me Liberty author and reporter Naomi Wolfe became one of the latest to have had her Constitutional right to peaceably assemble for redress of grievances taken away from her, as seen in the following video (in which that "Democrat Party-sponsored""mob" was attempting to petition Democratic NY state Governor Andrew Cuomo for a redress of grievances)...
Wolf wrote about her arrest seen above, "for standing lawfully on the sidewalk in an evening gown" at the UK's Guardian today, noting that she explained to the NYPD before she was cuffed that she was both a "NYC citizen and a reporter".
As her article's sub-header notes, "Arresting a middle-aged writer in an evening gown for peaceable conduct is a far cry from when America was a free republic."
"I became exhibit A in a process that I have been warning Americans about since 2007," Wolfe writes. "First they come for the 'other' – the 'terrorist', the brown person, the Muslim, the outsider; then they come for you – while you are standing on a sidewalk in evening dress, obeying the law."
So, where are all the outraged "Tea Partiers" who used to decry supposed abuses of the U.S. Constitution under our authoritarian regime? Oh, right, they were just pretending to give a damn about any of it...like good little scammed Fox "News" soldiers.
* * *
P.S. Here's hoping Wolf makes out as well following her inappropriate arrest as Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman did after hers.
* * *
UPDATE 10/19/11: In her Guardian piece, Wolf explained that the NYPD had told her the permit for the event she was attending (an annual Huffington Post event which Gov. Cuomo was also scheduled to attend, thus the protesters) when she came across the #OWS folks, forbade protesters from using the public sidewalks outside the building. Suspecting the claim from the police was bullshit, she says she requested to see a copy of that permit prior to her arrest, but was not allowed to.
Since posting the article above, Wolf contacted me to note that she has finally tracked down a copy of the type of permit HuffPo had last night and --- surprise, surprise --- the claim by cops appears to, in fact, be bullshit...
Once again we'll be BradCasting LIVE 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 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.)
JOSHUA HOLLAND, senior writer/editor at Alternet.org from the #OccupySF demonstrations on what happened last night after we went off the air and police moved in to clear out tents and other property of protesters in San Francisco. And on his latest article on decades of increasing inequality as the top 1% has robbed the bottom 99% blind.
PLUS! More calls from "Occupation Nation" and "Occupiers" around the world (leaving Hour 3 open for calls from you all again!) and anything else that you'd like to talk about at 877-520-1150 and with your tweets to @TheBradBlog!...
[Now UPDATED with tonight's audio archives below!]
The revolution may not be televised...but it will be radio-active as we #OccupyYOURPublicAirwaves!
I'll be guest-hosting the nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show tonight, tomorrow and Friday as Mike heads to D.C. to emcee the kick off of the October2011.org demonstration and we'll be
As ever, we'll be BradCasting LIVE 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 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.)
PLUS! Calls from "Occupations" and "Occupiers" around the nation (leaving Hour 3 open for calls from you guys! #OccupyYOURPublicAirwaves!) and anything else that you'd like to talk about at 877-520-1150 and with your tweets to @TheBradBlog!...
The St. Paul and Minneapolis police departments, along with the U.S. Secret Service, have agreed to pay $100,000 in compensation as part of a settlement in a federal lawsuit filed after the inappropriate arrests and detentions of journalist Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! and two of her producers at the 2008 Republican National Convention.
The settlement also includes an agreement that the St. Paul police department will "implement a training program aimed at educating officers regarding the First Amendment rights of the press and public."
As we originally reported in September of 2008, the three journalists were arrested (along with other members of the media) while covering protests and mass arrests outside the GOP convention, despite clearly identifying themselves to the police as members of the media.
In addition to the mass arrests of active protesters, footage later emerged showing an absolutely bizarre, and seemingly indiscriminate, police crackdown on peaceful citizens otherwise having gathered in a nearby city park (See video below.)
Democracy Now! producer Nicole Salazar was even roughed up by police in the course of her apprehension. Goodman, who had rushed out from the convention floor after hearing of the arrests of her producers, was cuffed and taken in despite no hint of inappropriate behavior, as seen in the two short video clips below...
It started with a Tweet yesterday morning from Kirsten Powers, Democratic contributor to Fox "News", in response to President Barack Obama having killed U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki after targeting him for assassination with no due process whatsoever --- not even a court order, as would have been needed to wiretap someone.
It seems like that's something Rightwingers pretending to be concerned about abuse of U.S. citizens by "Big Government" would have some objections to. But they don't. It's also seems like something that those who had been critical of George W. Bush's outrageously illegal and unconstitutional excesses and war crimes would similarly decry. But too many don't.
Nonetheless, soon, our hero in this story --- @ShortGo, otherwise known as Jared Roberts, self-identified "OUTLAW Cowboy" --- rode in to the conversation between Kirsten and me, to save the nation...
Since taking power in statehouses across the nation in 2010, Republicans have been feverishly implementing new restrictions on democracy in advance of the 2012 Presidential election. A number of those laws, clearly --- and often deceptively --- designed to carve out blatant partisan advantage for the GOP next year, were examined during a recent hearing by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights. The video of the hearing on "New State Voting Laws: Barriers to the Ballot" can be viewed here.
This is the second of our two-part analysis of the hearing.
In Part 1, we covered the subcommittee's examination of new polling place photo ID restrictions designed to make it more difficult for lawfully registered (and disproportionately Democratic-leaning) voters to cast their ballots at the precincts on Election Day. That issue --- which included some devastating cross-examination of long-time GOP "voter fraud" front-man Hans Von Spakovsky by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) --- was the first of three categories, as defined by committee chair Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) of new state voting laws covered in the hearings. All of the new voter suppression laws have been recently rammed through Republican-majority statehouses across the country.
In this concluding piece, we will cover the two additional categories examined: laws erecting barriers to the ability of individuals and non-partisan, non-governmental organizations to offer convenient registration for new voters and laws imposing significant reductions on early voting periods. Both are likely to restrict the number of voters able to cast their lawful vote in 2012 and, again, each is likely to disproportionately affect Democratic-leaning voters.
Finally, We'll also touch upon the status of legal challenges to these new laws by democracy proponents and challenges to the Voting Rights Act itself by operatives on the Right. Moreover, it's impossible to look at any of these issues without drawing inferences about what the combination of new laws in all three categories means, particularly in light of the fact that the models for these new laws were drafted by the billionaire Koch brothers-funded, Paul Weyrich co-founded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)...
A nearly two-hour hearing in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights earlier this month (full video available here), carefully examined the partisan, multi-state effort by the billionaire Koch brothers-funded, Paul Weyrich co-founded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-fueled GOP effort to enact new state voting laws across the country.
"Our country has not seen such widespread attempts to disenfranchise voters as we have seen this year in more than a century. Inclusive democracy is under attack," she testified, while Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) described the "brazen" GOP attempts to undermine the right to vote.
Subcommittee Chair and Senate Majority Whip, Dick Durbin (D-IL) broke the new state voting laws into three major categories, and the discussions of each are worth covering here over two different articles. In Part 1 here, we'll cover the first category: Polling place Photo ID laws restricting the ability of lawfully registered voters to cast their ballot on Election Day. The hearing produced several remarkable face-offs, including between Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and long-time GOP "voter fraud" front man Hans von Spakovsky (cue James Bond villain music), as detailed below.
In Part 2, we will cover the discussion of the other two categories at the hearing --- draconian new restrictions on voter registration, and laws which significantly reduce early voting periods --- plus a very troubling event that "reactionaries" have planned for the 2012 election, according to Dianis' testimony [UPDATE: Part 2 is now posted here]...
While I may have something else to share with you on this later tonight, for now, just a few very thoughts on today's somber 10th anniversary of 9/11. While my thoughts this afternoon are, naturally, with the families of those who lost their lives on 9/11, they are as much today with those exponentially many more families who have lost loved ones, needlessly, in this nation's childish and/or cynical and/or opportunistic and/or cowardly responses to that horrific day.
I am also thinking of those countless many --- a great number of whom also lost family members on both 9/11 and during our response --- who carried on with exceptional courageousness nonetheless during the course of our lost decade since. To those who were not cowed by the events of 9/11 --- and by our far more damaging responses to it --- I thank you today, again, for your selfless persistence in exercising your freedoms and liberties to do what is right, as opposed to what, no doubt, would have been far easier and far less costly on so many levels.
Beyond that (and beyond the additional thoughts, as noted, I may have later tonight), I suspect you've seen plenty in relation to the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 by now. So allow me to offer just a few short links to a few short and sweet articles or clips, all very much worth reading or watching, from over the last several weeks, as they offer a great deal about what now seems to matter most --- even as much of the nation's media choose instead to travel the very same road today as they did back then, and ever since...
• MSNBC: And in additional support of Edmonds' thoughts above, another clip from Day of Destruction, Decade of War, this one on the cynical, systematic, and criminal (if still shamelessly uncharged) use of tactics once known, and prosecuted by our country, as "torture"...
Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
(With additional reporting and snark by Brad Friedman)
Maine's GOP Chairman, Charlie Webster, displayed a remarkable level of ignorance about the right of college students to register and vote in the Pine Tree State during a recent appearance on local radio, weeks after virtually everyone in the state has been trying to explain to him that he is off his nut.
Earlier this summer, Webster raised eyebrows (and more than a few laughs) when he brought the names of some 200 out-of-state college students to the ME Secretary of State, seeking an investigation for "voter fraud."
"I am convinced that my research proves that [voter] fraud is a problem, and I’ve only found the tip of the iceberg," Webster said during a press conference at the State House at the time, though he shared no evidence of any of the students having voted twice, or otherwise having illegally registered.
However historically inaccurate the phrase may have been, the idea that Emperor Nero fiddled while Rome burned seems apropos the appearance of a David G. Savage fawning Clarence Thomas puff piece on the front page of the Sunday, July 3 edition of Los Angeles Times.
On March 7, as part of our coverage of a Daily Beast article, in which Univ. of Colorado Law Professor Paul Campos called for Thomas to be thrown off the bench, we noted:
In a March 6 Los Angeles Times op-ed, George Washington Law School Prof. Jonathan Turley found allegations that Virginia Thomas received monies from the groups that had a direct interest in the outcome of Citizens United to be "particularly alarming." He went on to compare Thomas' cynical effort to equate criticism of his ethical lapses with an attack on the integrity of the Court to Louis XIV's infamous view that there was no distinction between himself and the state.
Yet, on July 3, Los Angeles Times gave page-one coverage to Savage's uncritical piece that begins with a self-serving description in which Thomas seeks to portray his radical and, at times, outright bizarre legal positions, such as his stand-alone position that prisoners have no constitutional right to be protected from beatings by their guards, as simply a reflection of a rugged individualist who is not afraid to be a minority of one when he thinks he is right.
During Thomas' contentious Senate Judiciary Committee Confirmation Hearings in 1991, the late Sen. Edward "Ted" Kennedy (D-MA) took a very different view as he likened the Thomas nomination to a game of "Russian roulette":
If we confirm a nominee who has not demonstrated a commitment to core constitutional values, we jeopardize our rights as individuals and the future of our nation. We cannot undo such a mistake at the next election or even in the next generation.
The firestorm of controversy surrounding questions about Thomas' conflicts of interest, severe ethical lapses, and possible crimes has momentarily slowed a bit over the past month of Congressional (almost) recess and the usual D.C. media "summer vacation." But the list of reputable individuals and organizations calling for the embattled Associate Supreme Court Justice to be investigated by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, removed from office, and possibly prosecuted is likely to grow again once politics as usual resumes following the Labor Day holiday, according to The BRAD BLOG's discussions with a number of those individuals and organizations.
In the meantime, the question remains as to why Los Angeles Times saw fit not only to publish a ridiculous puff piece on Thomas as the firestorm was still cresting in July, failing to so much as reference these serious issues, but why they even found it necessary to elevate such a softball article to their front page.
Before reaching that, however, let's again examine the real issues...
While Brad Friedman recently exposed Matthew Vadum to be but the latest in a long line of fraudulent right-wing propagandists who flat-out lie about "voter fraud" as part of the billionaire-funded assault on the right of the those who would be inclined to vote against the GOP, no one could have done more to demolish Vadum's credibility than Matthew Vadum.
"Why are left-wing activist groups so keen on registering the poor to vote?," asks Vadum in the latest of his series of wingnut welfare op-eds/commercials for his laughable new anti-ACORN book:
Because they know the poor can be counted on to vote themselves more benefits by electing redistributionist politicians. Welfare recipients are particularly open to demagoguery and bribery.
Registering them to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals
Encouraging those who burden society to participate in elections isn't about helping the poor. It's about helping the poor to help themselves to others' money.
In claiming that the poor are but a "burden" on society and that registering the poor to vote is "like handing out burglary tools to criminals," who seek "to help themselves to others money," Vadum not only advanced long-discredited hard-right ideological beliefs but revealed the abhorrence that the billionaire class and its paid-for propagandists have for democracy, itself...