A new conspiracy theory being floated by apparatchik bloggers funded by Democratic Party bosses claims that a private equity firm that has invested in ship building companies, and is tied to a Mitt Romney adviser, is the sole reason why the GOP candidate has been pushing for a larger Navy in recent weeks. The theory, circulated by Think Progress, suggests that Romney is calling for a larger Navy expressly in hopes of padding the pockets of adviser John Lehman, a former Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan who is now an investment banker with stakes in several ship building companies. Based on that connection, the theorists at Think Progress are alleging Romney will fulfill a direct quid pro quo promised to Lehman in exchange for his serving as one of Romney's top military advisers in the campaign.
Of course, much of what I've just written in the paragraph above is complete bullshit...
"I think you’d be right to call out Romney and his son for having a financial interest in this company. It doesn’t look good."
- Former Democratic OH Sec. of State Jennifer Brunner to MSNBC, 10/22/12
To be frank, while it's no secret that the Center for American Progress has always been an outside extension of the Democratic Party, their important blog site, Think Progress, has served as a crucial, and journalistically sound fact-checker on the excesses, inaccuracies and blatant fabrications of the Right over the past several years.
I have been more than happy to cite their excellent work on a number of fronts over the years and take no pleasure in calling them, their new Senior Editor Judd Legum, and one of their writers, Aviva Shen, out here on The BRAD BLOG for an egregious and, frankly, outrageous journalistic failure.
It is one thing to make an error. We all do it. It is quite another thing indeed --- and what, in my opinion, separates real journalists from hacks --- when, once called out with independently fact-based and verifiable evidence of those errors, one sticks to the original error come what may.
That's exactly what Legum and Think Progress have decided to do, as the email discussion between Legum and me illustrates below. I'm sorry I have to even run it, but, for journalists, credibility is our only currency --- (especially those of us not funded by major foundations, as Think Progress is...so feel free to hit the tip jar here!) --- and being smeared, without correction, from a respected institution like Think Progress is extraordinarily damaging to all that we do here.
In what must certainly be the most offensive and absurd mainstream attack on climate science to date, the corporate-funded extremist group Heartland Institute is now comparing climate scientists and journalists who report on their work to mass murderers such as Osama Bin Laden, Ted "The Unabomber" Kaczynski and Charles Manson.
Yes, the sociopathic liars and serial propagandists at the rightwing Heartland Institute are comparing those who believe in science to sociopathic terrorists and serial killers. And they aren't just doing it in off-the-radar fundraising emails to supporters, they're doing it in an expensive and public billboard campaign on the streets of Chicago which the UK's Guardian describes today as "possibly one of the most ill-judged poster campaigns in the history of ill-judged poster campaigns"...
But it's not "ill-judged" at all. This is what Heartland does. And that's why it's so remarkable that while corporations such as AT&T and GM have ceased funding the extremist Rightwing "think tank" recently, after internal documents revealed they were attempting to force climate denial misinformation into school textbooks, companies such as Microsoft and State Farm and (much less surprisingly) the Koch brothers and the rest of the fossil fuel industry continue to fund their efforts.
But it's not just scientists who this group condemns as mass murderers, journalists and "liberal politicians" are, apparently, also right up there with Charlie Manson, in the eyes --- and words --- of the Heartland Institute...
Yesterday, during my KPFK/Pacifica interview on Wednesday with citizen journalist and fearless video live-streamer Spencer Mills (better known to the world as "OakFoSho") about his remarkable coverage of the Tuesday Night/Wednesday morning LAPD raid of OccupyLA at Los Angeles City Hall, we discussed a moment when an LAPD officer had, inappropriately, pointed a gun at him, and Mills' fearless attempt to take the officer to task for it.
"Escamilla is pointing his gun at protesters," Mills is heard saying on the video. The officer then points the gun towards the sky, and then lowers it briefly straight at the camera as the journalist's video-camera records the moment for posterity.
"That's not necessary! You just pointed your weapon right at me!," Mills shouts to the cop. "That's not necessary!...It's against procedure and it's against code and you're not supposed to do it! Take your finger off the trigger, please. Thank you! Don't point your weapon at me. It's against procedure and its against code. I'm a journalist! I'm allowed to be here!"
The crowd follows up Mills by chanting, "Guns down! Guns down! Guns down!"
"Again, his name is Escamilla," Mills says near the end of the clip, before spelling out his name. "E-S-C-A-M-I-L-L-A. I believe he just broke procedure."
Prior to the show yesterday, I wasn't able to find the audio from the incident, which I had seen live as it occurred on OakFoSho/Mills' live-stream, but RT (Russian television) apparently noticed it, and highlighted it yesterday. Here's that moment...
Also, as we've been quite complimentary, in general, towards the way the LAPD handled the eviction from the park in a surprisingly peaceful way (versus the appalling example set by other cities where police sparked violence by the use of pepper spray, tear gas, and more against peaceful demonstrators), it seems, in addition to the above, a bit more video is helpful for balance.
"OccupyFreedomLA," the other video live-streamer who joined me in-studio at KPFK on Wednesday to discuss her coverage, sends along the following video captured that same night and aired by KCBS2/KCAL9 (yes, their news divisions are now merged), showing exceedingly rough treatment by the LAPD of a photojournalist in the park that night. "It could have been us," she notes, in the tweet accompanying the link she sent to both me and "OakFoSho"...
One of the most remarkable moments we were able to follow, as it occurred, during the events of last night, as NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg carried out his middle-of-night eviction of Occupy Wall Street demonstrators at Zuccotti Park, happened at about 4am or so Eastern Time.
Despite the (outrageous) ban on media at the park, as hundreds of NYPD cops in riot gear cleared the peaceful demonstrators for "health" reasons --- tossing them out of their tents, onto the streets and into the night --- Mother Jones reporter Josh Harkinson was able to make his way under the barricades and back into the park.
At the time he did so, there were a few dozen protesters left, holding firm around what had been the Kitchen Tent. It seems he may have been the only reporter in the park at that moment. Then, as he described this morning, the cops began "indiscriminately dousing the peaceful protesters with what looked like pepper spray or some sort of gas." He tweeted at the time that "Everyone I witnessed being arrested was resisting peacefully."
But it was his incredible account of what had happened to him after that moment, as told in a series of tweets that he shared after he had made his way back out of the park last night, which was extraordinary. Here is that remarkable set of tweets, in the order he tweeted them...
...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.
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P.S. Here's hoping Wolf makes out as well following her inappropriate arrest as Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman did after hers.
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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...
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...
According to explosive new assertions from a credible former CIA agent, President Barack Obama's administration is said to have attempted to use the CIA to target, spyon, and smear an American conservative blogger and university professor on Middle-Eastern affairs, simply because he opposed the President's policies in Libya.
The alleged attempt to use the powerful U.S. intelligence agency for domestic spying and/or discrediting of a private American citizen would be in gross violation of the law disallowing domestic use of the agency. Uncomfortably, it's also precisely what so many on the Right have long warned of in regard to this President's proclivity for turning Big Government apparatchiks against the freedoms and liberties of private, law-abiding citizens simply because they dared to use their constitutionally protected rights of free speech to criticize his policies. It would also be, as folks on the Right have also long charged, a gross violation of the U.S. Constitution, which the President is sworn to defend, rather than abuse.
Republicans in Congress have vowed to investigate the matter, while Democrats, hypocritically and shamefully, have remained completely silent.
Given this startling and exceedingly troubling news --- particularly in light of Democrats ignoring the revelations, after so many years of charging George W. Bush with similar behavior --- we have to admit that perhaps we were too quick to ridicule the many Tea Party patriots for their warnings about the dangers of Obama's Stalinist and Maoist tendencies!
If the details of this story turn out to be true --- and so far, they certainly seem credible, as the blogger/professor says he was no longer invited to CIA conferences following the incident --- as much as we'd hate to admit it, we'd suggest impeachment or even legal proceedings against the President of the United States would be entirely appropriate here.
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CORRECTION: It's a little embarrassing, but it appears we got at least one key detail in the above story completely wrong...
On my KPFK show (L.A.'s Pacifica Radio affiliate) today, I was joined by RadioOrNot.com's Nicole Sandler, fresh after her release from the Broward County, FL, Jail earlier today. She was asked to leave the meeting after asking questions about the GOP's attempts to end welfare as we know it.
Nicole, who hosts her own progressive talk radio show and is the regular fill-in guest host for Randi Rhodes, was held overnight (several hours of it in solitary confinement, during which she was maced by guards), after her arrest at a Fort Lauderdale town hall event held last night by freshman "Tea Party" Republican Rep. Allen West (FL-22). Though she is a constituent of the insane Congressman, she was not allowed to ask questions, as West decided last night that he would take only pre-selected written questions. That, after town hall events have been turning into embarrassments for the GOP over the past week as they've faced questions from constituents angry about their recent vote to make drastic changes to Medicare by replacing the popular single-payer health care system with a voucher program.
In the time since our article concluded with a statement from her after she'd been released and I was finally able to speak to her by phone, and prior to my live KPFK interview with her, RAW STORY obtained and published the probable cause document filed by police along with her arrest.
In the report, the arresting officer claims Nicole became "physically aggressive with this ofc., pushing me several times." The video footage we posted earlier today reveals no such physical aggression or pushing. During our interview, Nicole denied any such aggressiveness on her part, either during the arrest or in jail prior to her being maced by a Broward County jail guard.
[UPDATE: She's out. Finally. I just spoke to her. See fully story as she just told it to me in 4th UPDATE at the bottom of this article.]
My friend and colleague, talk radio host Nicole Sandler --- who does her own show, Radio or Not weekdays from 10p-Noon in Florida, and is the regular fill-in for the nationally syndicated Randi Rhodes Show --- was arrested at an insane town hall event held by "Tea Party" Republican Congressman Allen West (FL-22) in Fort Lauderdale last night.
Nicole is a good friend of mine (I was on Randi's show yesterday with her to discuss the Wisconsin Supreme Court Election recount, as she was filling in again for Randi) and this morning, SoFloRadio.com, which carries her show live at this hour, is running dead air. Her live U-Stream webcast channel is currently off-line as well.
I've been trying to reach her this morning, by text, phone, etc., but have had no luck so far. So, I am concerned and presume this means she was forced to spend the night in jail and may still be locked up. Insane.
Here is the video of the seemingly-psychotic West speaking at the event last night in Florida, as questions are hollered from the crowd, followed by video of Nicole, who is a constituent of West's, being arrested for reasons not made apparent in the video...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: More U.S. Chamber of Commerce propaganda to support the GOP v. EPA in the House and Senate; Clean energy v. Oil in the budget shutdown showdown... PLUS: Signs of stabilizing at the Fukushima nuclear plant, as yet another earthquake rocks Japan's devastated coastline ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Climate change breaks NASA temperature chart; Dangerous new antibiotic-resistant water bug found in India; OK return to Dust Bowl days?; TX worsening drought devastating wheat crops; GOP allows agribusiness to dump pesticides in water; Solar Costs May Already Rival Coal; Canceled Coal Plant's Aging Parts; Right-wing Group Writes Anti-EPA Bills For State Legislatures; What corporations really mean by profit and loss; Should 'smart grid' let smart meters make decisions for consumers?; Clean-Energy Investment Is Placed at Risk as UN Climate Negotiations Stall; Governments urged to move forward at UN climate meeting; Two Major Enviro Groups Join Forces ... PLUS: Boom-and-bust fossil fuels and the promise of cheap electricity ....
The smear is amplified by the propagandists at Fox "News." It reverberates throughout the right-wing echo chamber (which has usurped the majority of our public airwaves to bolster their agenda). The smear is then repeated by pliant mainstream corporate media, which will, at best, offer up a belated, chiseling, inaccurate "correction" --- too little and too late to undo the damage wrought by a Democratic "opposition" which timidly seeks to distance itself from the smeared as they scurry to hand the hard-right what it seeks (e.g., a bill stripping ACORN or NPR of public funds, or the forced resignation of the targeted individual).
There is no doubt but that some of the corporate media complicity derives from common financial interests. As Bill Moyers observed in Moyers on America, "media giants...exalt commercial values at the expense of democratic value...squeezing out the journalism that tries to get as close as possible to the verifiable truth."
But there is another issue, magnified by two recent events: (1) The matter-of-fact acceptance of the prompt resignation of two NPR officials over a secretly taped and deceptively-edited video hit piece in which two of convicted federal criminal and Republican con-man James O'Keefe's flunkies posed as members of a Muslim organization seeking to help fund NPR, and (2) The deafening corporate media silence over an outrageously racist remark by a right-wing Kansas state representative who compared "illegal immigrants" to "feral pigs"...
On Thursday night, Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert waded into the HBGary muck with an explanation of the scam that the cyber-security intelligence firm, along with two other firms (government contractors all) were putting together for law firm Hunton & Williams on behalf of Bank of America, in hopes of discrediting journalists and organizations that supported WikiLeaks.
As readers of The BRAD BLOG likely know by now, a parallel $12 million scheme was being hatched by the same law firm and same three cyber-security firms on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, targeting me and my family, as well as other citizens and progressive organizations the U.S. Chamber had regarded as their enemies.
(I was likely targeted due to my roll in The BRAD BLOG's co-founding of the non-profit, non-partisan VelvetRevolution.us which has, since late 2009, been running a StopTheChamber.com campaign to expose the insidious, mafia-like tactics of what has become the largest, most extreme corporate lobbying outfit in the nation. Relatedly, late last week, VR filed a complaint with the D.C. Bar Association against the three H&W attorneys heading up these schemes. I hope to have more on that at a later date, but you can now read the complaint yourself right here [PDF]. Legal Times coverage is here, Washington Post's coverage today is here.)
Though the U.S. Chamber side of the plot is not discussed here, here's Colbert summing up the scheme as proposed for Bank of America...
By the way, though I didn't notice it while watching a Tivo'd verison of the interview above on Thursday night --- so don't know if it was in the actual broadcast, or just added online, by someone --- PC Magazine noticed a curious anomaly at the 3:22 mark of the above video. For no more than a moment, the infamous Guy Fawkes mask from V for Vendetta, often used as a sort of trademark by the "hacktivist" collective Anonymous (the group which inadvertently exposed both of the above described plots when they broke into HBGary's corporate servers and stole the emails describing all of this) is briefly superimposed over Colbert's face, for reasons unknown --- but amusing.
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For much more on the U.S. Chamber Plot, please see the links below for The BRAD BLOG's previous coverage of this disturbing story...
It's strange, difficult and a bit uncomfortable reporting on the $12 million U.S. Chamber disinfo plot and smear campaign after finding myself (and my family), much less VelvetRevolution.us (VR), the non-profit organization co-founded by The BRAD BLOG, as direct targets of it. As you might have assumed, there is much going on behind the scenes that I can't report on at this time, but I've been happy to see some fairly decent coverage --- even by some in the print MSM, if not much in the broadcast media yet --- of this important, disturbing and still developing story.
It's easier to talk and opine on what I've learned about the plot, as I've been doing in a lot of media interviews over the past week (a few of those radio appearances are linked below), than it is to actually report on it, per se. Yet, there have been several noteworthy points and advancements in the story over the past week since I originally covered it in depth here on Monday.
New information being dug up over the last several days, since I initially reported on this story in depth at the beginning of the week, now indicates that the Chamber Plotters had likely intended to use cyber attacks and hacks against us as well.
Those key updates, and the very quickest of backgrounders for those unfamiliar with the sordid tale up until now, follow below...
IN TODAY'S SPECIAL RADIO REPORT: All-out Info War: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation's largest & most powerful corporate lobbying firm, caught plotting a $12 million disinformation campaign against progressive U.S. organizations, journalists and citizens, including yours truly...
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): EXTENDED (non-Chamber-related) EXTRA!:... Obama budget, GOP's draconian cuts; Judge fines Chevron $8 Billion for Ecuador pollution; Strip-mining to begin on sea floor; Actor Costner sued over Gulf oil invention; World approaching "peak phosphorous"?; Alaska warming at 3x rate of Lower 48; Natural gas surge in BP spill; KY protestors sit-in at gov's office against mountaintop removal mining; GE pays handsomely for stake in oil business; EU Carbon trading system plagued by fraud; Smog continues to plague Joshua Tree NP; Insurers warn premiums set to rise for natural disasters; Solar panels can help your home sell faster; Generation HOT: Calling out "climate cranks"; Pesticide co. hires federal agency to challenge pesticide-Parkinson's link ... PLUS: The worst eco-disasters of all time! ...