After an amazingly encouraging week or two, we head into the July 4th weekend with a whole bunch of stuff we've been trying to clear off our desk. Plus: Lots of breaking news and an encouraging ending for the weekend...
Under the proposed bailout legislation (according to Henry Paulson, Secretary of the Treasury), the US Treasury or agents thereof could acquire Microsoft for one US dollar, with no legal recourse for Microsoft or even its shareholders.
Here is the text of proposed legislation and here is what the Treasury Department claims the legislation will allow it to do, and here is how Paulson (or his successor) could own Microsoft...for a buck...
Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL) --- cited for the third year in a row by a public interest watchdog as one of the "Most Corrupt Members of Congress" --- has finally decided to "apologize" for going on that $75,000 lobbyist-funded junket to play golf in Scotland in 2003, along with the disgraced, and convicted, Jack Abramoff. The "apology" comes in the form of a desperate, 30-second campaign ad (at left.)
Feeney is the last remaining member of Congress to have gone on one of those Abramoff-funded private jet trips to hit the links in St. Andrews. The other two, Tom Delay (R-TX), who went in 2001, and Bob Ney (R-OH), who went in 2002, have both left Congress in disgrace and under indictment.
You'll note that the ad --- in which Feeney never bothers to mention that he's a Republican --- ends, laughably, with: "Because public service is about being honest, even when you make a mistake."
That line might more appropriately, at least for Feeney, have been: "Public service is about admitting that you broke the law, five years after you took a huge favor from a corrupt lobbyist and were finally forced to admit it outloud in a desperate, last-ditch attempt, to save your Congressional meal ticket."
But he might have had trouble getting all of that into his :30 spot.
The ad also says, on screen: "Get the facts: Tom Feeney.com" Might we suggest if you really want the facts on Tom Feeney, one of the filthiest players remaining in Congress, that you see instead our special coverage page about him, and former Republican computer programmer Clint Curtis. Curtis worked at the same company as Feeney, back when Feeney was both the powerful Speaker of the Florida House and a lobbyist for the software firm with millions of dollars in state contracts. The same company also employed undocumented Chinese aliens working on systems for NASA and others, even as Feeney has continued to protect that company to this day (he was also their one-time general counsel) and has housed his campaign headquarters in their building.
A remarkable documentary film, Murder, Spies & Voting Lies, covering that story, and The BRAD BLOG's attempts to tell it over the last four years, has just been released. If you'd rather learn the facts in movie form, please check out that film! NOTE: It's terrifying and includes untold details on at least two grizzly deaths related to the Curtis/Feeney scandal.
Curtis himself eventually switched to the Democratic Party following the incident and, after Congress refused to take action on Feeney, he ran unsuccessfully against him in 2006. His attempts to do so again this year were derailed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which backed wealthy opponent Suzanne Kosmas in the primary. With polls showing the well-funded Kosmas in a tight race with Feeney, clearly, one of the dirtiest Republicans in America is now running very scared.
Nouriel Roubini, RGE Monitor, who accurately predicted the current economic crisis: "Last week we argued that, with the nationalization of Fannie and Freddie, comrades Bush, Paulson and Bernanke had started transforming the USA into the USSRA (United Socialist State Republic of America). This transformation of the USA into a country where there is socialism for the rich, the well connected and Wall Street (i.e. where profits are privatized and losses are socialized) continues … with the nationalization of AIG."
Atrios: "The entire financial system is practically collapsing and they're lamenting the possibility of more regulation...People who prattle on about 'the free market' are usually too stupid to have a clue how complicated and pervasive the "rules" had to be to to get a well-functioning modern market system: sophisticated concepts of contracts and enforcement, property rights, legal entities, proper accounting, bankruptcy, limited liability, etc... etc..., did not descend from the heavens but were, in fact, created."
Matt Yglesias: "Who knew the 'Washington Consensus' would die in Washington, DC under a Republican President in a mad fit of bailouts and nationalizations?"
Rather than being cowed by the press' mini-sermons about truth-telling, McCain and Palin are practically laughing at the press.
Can you blame them?
Nope, and Eric Boehlert explains why. After years of having abdicated their Constitutionally-guaranteed role as watchdog for the public, the corporate media's too-little, too-late, temporary stint at actually reporting is now regarded as little more than a joke. And one that not even McCain/Palin feel they need to take seriously. What they've sowed, so shall we reap.
Wow. Poor Tucker Bounds. First CNN's right-leaning Campbell Brown (she's married to Bush Admin loyalist/lackey Dan Senor, despite the fact that CNN rarely, if ever, discloses that serious conflict of interest) committed a rare act of actual journalism by asking Bounds what foreign affairs experience Sarah Palin had. The McCain/Palin shill had nothing, and embarrassed himself under Brown's repeated, and responsible, prodding. So the McCain camp subsequently cancelled an interview with CNN's Larry King, claiming "that exchange was over the line" because Brown bothered to ask actual questions, and follow-ups, of their campaign.
And now, it seems that even Fox "News" is holding a McCain foot to the fire for some currently inexplicable reason. Fox's Megyn Kelly went after Bounds in regard to the McCain camp's continuing lies, and new ad claiming Obama plans to raise taxes on the middle class, despite countless independent think-tanks that have studied the Obama tax plan and have reported the McCain claim to be simply untrue.
"I want to hold you accountable for what McCain is doing," Kelly said for some reason today. ThinkProgress has details, here's their video...
The remarkable video of Brown's grilling of Bounds on CNN during the Republican Convention follows below, in case you missed it previously, or in case you'd like a nourishing second helping of freshly grilled Tucker...
In an interview on NPR's "Fresh Air" about his new book, The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008, Bob Woodward said that his reporting had uncovered a top-secret new weapon introduced by U.S forces into Iraq that is primarily responsible for the current period of stability there.
The Bush/McCain Surge is just one of four factors that have tamped down violence, according to Woodward. The other factors include the Anbar Awakening, in which the Sunnis rejected Al Qaeda's extremism; the stand-down of Muqtada al Sadr's Shiite militia; and this new top secret weapon:
BOB WOODWARD: The fourth [element] is very top secret. And that is a series of operations that have been developed that allow U.S. forces to locate targets and kill extremists, al Qaeda members and members of the insurgency.
On Friday [Sept. 5, 2008], the White House in responding to the book for the first time confirmed that there were "newly developed techniques and operations which helped the situation stabilize in Iraq."
TERRY GROSS: At the request of the military and the White House, you're not revealing any of the details you found about what these top-secret operations are. What can you tell us?
BW: That it's like any war. There's always something --- there's a game-changer, a new development. In the early 20th century, it was the tank or the airplane. World War II, the Manhattan Project and the development of the Atomic Bomb. These [new] operations and techniques are not something where you're going to see an explosion like an Atomic Bomb but they are incredibly effective. They are something that --- as Pres. Bush said to people that I quote in the book, "We are killing them all. We are killing all of the people who are the leaders." Now, it's not literally "all," but they are killing hundreds and hundreds of key people on the other side in this conflict.
So what could this new weapon be? Sharon Weinberger at Wired.com has a guess:
Last night we offered the quick skinny on the abrupt resignation of Colorado's state Election Director, Holly Lowder, just 60 days out from what promises to be one of the largest and most important --- and potentially closest --- elections in the state's history.
We summarized some of the dizzying background on the exceptionally embarrassing and dysfunctional state of certification, decertification and recertification of e-voting systems in the Centennial State over the last two years, under current Sec. of State, Republican Mike Coffman (who is overseeing his own election for the U.S. House this November), and in previous years under two former Republican SoS' (one of whom was promoted by George W. Bush to do the same lousy job of e-vote testing for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission).
We also suggested, based on information from sources in the states, that the old euphemism about "election officials being in bed with voting vendors" may well become more than just a euphemism when the full explanation for Lowder's sudden departure became known.
And today, as we'd hinted last night, some of that information has now become known...
Last night, we noted the bizarre choice of backdrop that led to the first five minutes, or so, of McCain's acceptance speech being given in front of a classic green screen. For those who watched the speech, they likely realize that the green in close-up was the lawn from a larger backdrop of what appeared to be a mansion.
Our thought: One of McCain's?! Odd choice, that.
Turns out, no, it wasn't one of his houses, it was an even dumber selection from the geniuses what run the GOP, who want you to entrust them to run the country...
John Aravosis explains what that backdrop actually was...
You're gonna love this. ... In fact, the picture was of Walter Reed. No, not Walter Reed Army Medical Center where injured troops are treated - though that was clearly McCain's intent, to use our injured troops as a political prop (just as last night they dared show footage of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center, and the towers falling) - no, in fact, McCain posted a photo of Walter Reed Middle School, a school for kids in California that has nothing to do with Walter Reed the military hospital. They actually thought the school was the Army hospital. Apparently McCain just discovered the Google.
With these chuckleheads in charge, little wonder the "war on terror" is going so well. For our money, the hit of the night last night was the courageous American from Iraq Veterans Against the War who managed to get the real message out to the whole wide world, over the pool camera feed during McCain's speech...
(NOTE: We'll be hosting The Randi Rhodes Show on Monday. We've learned it was Adam Kokesh who managed this very successful demonstration and smart use of his First Amendment freedoms last night, and we're going to try to get him on the air with us!)
Tropical storm Gustav is threatening to interrupt or even postpone the Republican national convention next week, when it is expected to sweep into the Gulf of Mexico as a stark reminder of one of the lowest points of the Bush administration.
The administration was accused by both Republicans and Democrats of acting too slowly and inefficiently to protect New Orleans against 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, which killed 1,800 people amid high winds and rain that flooded the city.
FOXNews.com reports: "Mindful of the pitfalls of hosting cocktail parties while Gulf Coast residents are being evacuated, John McCain’s campaign suggested Thursday that Republicans could postpone their upcoming national convention in St. Paul if Tropical Storm Gustav makes landfall over the weekend."
“McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said delaying the start time is a possibility.
"Senator McCain has always been sensitive to national crises — in the 2000 race, he postponed his announcement because of the situation in the Balkans, and we are monitoring the situation very closely,” Bounds said."
Ah, but he partied down with his pal the prez in 2005 as Katrina was drowning a thousand Americans and their pets in their homes.
On August 10, Karl Rove went on “Face The Nation” to argue that Senator Obama would make an “intensely political choice” for Vice President without regard for the “responsibilities of president.” At the time, Rove believed Obama would choose Tim Kaine, and argued against him by saying this:
With all due respect again to Governor Kaine, he’s been a governor for three years, he’s been able but undistinguished. I don’t think people could really name a big, important thing that he’s done. He was mayor of the 105th largest city in America. And again, with all due respect to Richmond, Virginia, it’s smaller than Chula Vista, California; Aurora, Colorado; Mesa or Gilbert, Arizona; north Las Vegas or Henderson, Nevada. It’s not a big town. So if he were to pick Governor Kaine, it would be an intensely political choice where he said, `You know what? I’m really not, first and foremost, concerned with, is this person capable of being president of the United States?
Rove argues that Kaine’s mayorship of Richmond (pop. 200,000+) is insignificant and that his 3 years as Governor of Virginia (pop. 7,712,091, GDP $383 million) has been “indistinguisahable.” If Rove was intellectually consistent, wouldn’t that mean Palin’s mayorship of Wasilla (pop. 8,000+) and 20 months as Alaska governor (pop. 683,478, GDP $44.5 million) makes her even less qualified than Kaine?
So, Karl, who made the “intensely political choice”?
We had the chance to interview former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman inside the Pepsi Center on Wednesday, during the Democratic National Convention.
Our concise conversation ranges from the Congressional Democrats' failure to call for a full House vote on Contempt of Congress by Karl Rove, Siegelman's 2002 election which he believes was "stolen electronically," the corporate media's inability to investigate or report on it, and the concern about whether or not Democrats will be in a forgive and forget mode after this session of Congress if Obama is successful in his quest for the White House.
Here's our complete interview (appx. 6 mins)...
Some pull-quotes from the interview...
On Rove: "If we do not vote the contempt citation, Karl Rove is simply going to get in his getaway car and thumb his nose at the Constitution, Congress, and the American people. It creates almost two systems of justice: one for the powerful, those connected to the White House, and then another system for you and me and the rest of the people."
On Democrats: "Democrats are so magnanimous in victory, as they were after Watergate, they did nothing. After the Iran-Contra scandal, they did nothing. But what Democrats are going to want to do is get on with positive programs, to fix the damage that has been done by the Bush administration...But I view this as part of that positive change. Finding out who hijacked the Department of Justice and who used it as a political weapon."
On his 'stolen' 2002 election: "I went to bed the winner. The media had been sent home. The pollworkers had been sent home. The party chairmen had been given their copies of the election results. And then after midnight a light went on in the basement of the capitol, the basement of the courthouse, in the sheriff's office, and 5,200 votes that were mine were shifted to my opponent."
The complete text transcript of the interview follows in full below (thanks to Emily Levy of VelvetRevolution.us)...
Here's an object lesson in so much that's wrong with the corporate mainstream media.
U.S. Senator Jon Kyl, the Republican from Arizona, showed up at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday night. He was mobbed by "reporters" from the corporate media (people with large video cameras and microphones who turn them on, point them towards famous people, and allow them to say whatever they want without ever challenging them in any way) out front of the Pepsi Center in Denver.
I happened to be there as well, with a much smaller video camera rolling, and the willingness to actually try to hold Kyl's feet to the fire.
First he had mentioned John McCain's "experience" in foreign policy that allowed him to deal with situations like the Russia/Georgia conflict in a way that Barack Obama couldn't. The "reporters" asked no follow-ups in response to Kyl's unsupported talking point, so I tried to ask him how McCain could deal with the two parties as an honest broker, given that he has senior campaign staffers who are paid lobbyists for Georgia. Kyle dodged the question and quickly moved onto something else. I tried to follow up, but he ignored me.
Then, when one of the "reporters" asked Kyl a hard-hitting question about whether he had "seen anything this week that made [him] cringe," he referred to Bill Clinton's convention speech, made within the past hour that night. Responding to the compliant, smiling media zombies he charged that Clinton had cited "statistics...that are not accurate." However, the Senator gave no evidence for those allegations, and the zombies didn't press him, so I decided to do so.
Here, then - with my polite pauses, allowing him to ramble on in answer to other inane questions from the zombies, edited out for time --- is what it looked like...
Bob Novak, the rightwing columnist who treasonously revealed the clandestine identity of CIA WMD investigator Valerie Plame, has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, but recently returned to producing short squibs for his syndicate, including the latest on Joe Lieberman's chances of being named as John McCain's VP on Friday:
Reports of strong support within John McCain's presidential campaign for Independent Democratic Sen. Joseph Lieberman as the Republican candidate for vice president are not a fairy tale. Influential McCain backers, plus McCain himself, would pick the pro-choice liberal from Connecticut if they thought they could get away with it.
But they can't get away with it --- and this has been made clear to McCain by none other than Joe Lieberman himself.
Lieberman surely doesn't know that much about Republican politics, but he has close Republican friends. One of them prevailed on Lieberman to tell McCain that a McCain-Lieberman ticket would be a disaster for all concerned, and especially for the GOP.
Velvet Revolution - co-founded by Brad Friedman - today launched its newest campaign at StandingForVoters.org, calling on candidates across the country to pledge to challenge elections when necessary.
"This election, let's make democracy the winner!" the Standing For Voters site proclaims. Readers of The BRAD BLOG know that's quite a stretch, that we're a long way from having a true democracy in this country. Yet challenges by candidates --- before, during and after the elections --- could be an important step in the right direction. In many situations, only candidates have standing to challenge elections.
StandingForVoters.org is primarily directed towards candidates themselves and serves to educate them about election integrity issues, types of election challenges, and recent history of candidates who challenged elections. Voters are encouraged to participate by finding candidates who will pledge; tips about how to do this are provided on the site, including:
Attend candidates' nights or other campaign activities. During the Q&A portion of the program, make a statement about the importance of election integrity and ask the candidates publicly if they will sign the Standing for Voters pledge.
Call in to radio shows where candidates are being interviewed. Ask the candidates on the air to sign the pledge.
Write a letter to the editor or an op-ed piece in the local newspaper urging candidates to pledge. (You can also encourage the paper only to endorse candidates who have made the pledge.)
Visit candidates' websites and send them emails asking them to sign the pledge. Include a link to StandingForVoters.org.
Talk to your local political clubs. Find out who has direct contact with candidates and enlist their help.
Once one candidate for a particular office has signed on, call their opponents and ask them to match that pledge.
The first two candidates to sign the site's more robust pledge, "The Super Pledge," are no strangers to election integrity issues. Ellen Brodsky, candidate for Supervisor of Elections in notorious Broward County, Florida is a long-time election integrity advocate, founding Broward Election Reform Coalition. Brodsky was thrilled to pledge, saying, "You can count on me to speak about fair, accurate and transparent elections in every breath I take."...