Guests: CA Green Party SoS candidate David Curtis, fresh off being excluded from the Sacramento Press Club debate; Journalist Jason Leopold, fresh off his interview with CIA torture program architect James Mitchell...
Palm Beach Post'sGeorge Bennet wrote last week about how so-called "Tea Party" groups seem to be running away from the "Tea Party" name in places like Florida.
The South Florida Tea Party, for example --- the one that helped launch the national career of Sen. Marco Rubio and hosted Donald Trump while he was initially pretending to think about running for President --- is changing their name to the National Liberty Federation.
"As Tea Party groups go," observes Steven Benen at MaddowBlog, "the South Florida Tea Party was one of the bigger and better organized outfits."
But it's little wonder these folks are running from the name. Their popularity, and their name brand, is now plummeting along with the fortunes of the Congressional Republican Party. As Bennet notes, even Rightwing pollsters like Rasmussen are finding that support for the "Tea Party" movement is absolutely cratering...
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Monday that Republicans should not have tried to reduce voter turnout during their failed effort to win the White House, doubling down on his recent criticism of the GOP.
“Should we really have gone after reducing the turnout of voters in those places where we thought it would make a difference? The Republican Party should be a party that says, ‘We want everybody to vote,’ and make it easier to vote and give them a reason to vote for the party, [whereas] not to find ways to keep them from voting at all,” Powell said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”
Powell went on to note that "What’s happened in the last few years, is the party has shifted dramatically to the right — that’s perfectly acceptable, but if you stay that far to the right, you’re losing where the country is."
Please note, though Powell endorsed Obama twice, he was George W. Bush's Secretary of State and still considers himself a Republican. He says he voted for seven straight Republicans for President before voting for Obama.
The headline at Think Progress, "5 People Shot At 3 Different Gun Shows On Gun Appreciation Day" was too perfect not to re-use in this case.
CNN describes yesterday's "Gun Appreciation Day" festivities this way today...
At least five people --- three in North Carolina, one in Indiana and one in Ohio --- were injured after weapons went off at gun shows Saturday, officials said, at a time when there's been renewed discussion about private gun sales at such shows.
The most casualties came at the Dixie Gun and Knife Show in Raleigh, North Carolina, where attendees bolted --- with at least one woman wiping out in the frenetic scene --- when gunfire rang out around 1 p.m., as seen on video captured by CNN affiliate WRAL.
Here's video from the NC gun show revealing the freedom fighters there scrambling after a 12-guage shotgun "accidentally discharged", injuring three people...
In Ohio, one man is hospitalized in stable condition today "after being shot by his business partner at a gun show" in the northern part of the state yesterday. It seems the owner of the Taurus semi-automatic 9mm handgun "brought the firearm into the show fully loaded," despite a policy barring loaded weapons.
Why, since NRA stooges tell us that "guns make us safer", are they not allowed to carry loaded weapons at gun shows, of all places? Seems, I dunno, hypocritical.
"In Indianapolis," the CNN report continues describing the third incident yesterday, "a man walking out of the Indy 1500 Gun and Knife Show shot himself in the hand as he was loading his .45-caliber semi-automatic firearm, Indiana State Police said in a statement."
In a less amusing incident Saturday, also on "Gun Appreciation Day", tragedy struck in Georgia, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, when a 14-year old boy playing with his 15-year old brother and a friend spending the night, got access to his mother's unloaded gun, loaded the weapon, pointed it at the older brother and "accidentally" killed him.
As journalist Brooke Jarvis tweeted yesterday, appropriately enough, a 1998 study on guns in homes found that "For every use in self defense, there were 4 accidental shootings, 7 assaults/homicides, & 11 suicide attempts."
But, ya know, guns don't kill people. Gunshot wounds from guns in people's houses kill people.
* * *
UPDATE 1/21/12: "Gun Appreciation Day" had an even darker ending in New Mexico, with yet another 15-year old involved, as Albuquerque Journal reports...
It was a “horrific” crime scene that confronted deputies Saturday night: Former Calvary church Pastor Greg Griego; his wife, Sarah; and their three youngest children dead — fatally shot multiple times with a “military-style” assault rifle and other weapons — at their South Valley home.
The suspect in custody is the couple’s 15-year-old son, Nehemiah Griego, who neighbors said often wore “nothing but camouflage” and wanted to be in the army.
“I’ve never seen a scene quite like this,” Bernalillo County Sheriff Dan Houston said at a news conference Sunday morning.
The teen is accused of using several weapons, including a “military style” assault rifle, according to the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, to kill his parents and three youngest siblings.
Nehemiah told neighbors he wanted to be a soldier. He always wore army clothing and camouflage, but he wasn’t allowed to play violent video games, according to one neighbor, since the boy’s parents didn’t allow anything “dirty or violent” and limited TV watching.
This still photo depicts actor Mark Wahlberg using the powerful .50 BMG Barrett M82A1M to shoot down an approaching helicopter at the outset of the 2007 motion picture, Shooter. Later, in the same film, what appears to be a Barrett M82A1 mounted atop a computer-operated weapon platform, is remotely accessed to carry out the long-distance assassination of an Archbishop who is standing next to the President.
On a segment of Thursday night's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, the host addressed the fact that the National Rifle Association (NRA) is funded and controlled by those who are making obscene profits off the very weaponry used to carry out mass murders of civilians in the U.S. O'Donnell pointed out that, since 2005, when former Senator Larry "Wide Stance" Craig (R-ID), now an NRA Board member, pushed a bill through Congress which immunized weapons manufacturers from civil liability for the carnage wrought by the weapons they unload on the public, the NRA has received over $38 million in contributions from weapons manufacturers.
O'Donnell's list of NRA Board members included George Kollitides of the Freedom Group, owner of multiple weapons manufacturers, including Remington and Bushmaster. Kollitides' company manufactured the AR-15 that was used to murder 20 children and 6 educators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT last month. Another one of his companies, Advanced Armaments, manufactures silencers, that, according to its web site, are legal in 39 states. Who inside this country, aside from mob hit men, need silencers?
The truly disturbing revelation, however, was that the military grade weapon, the Barrett M82 (see narrated video below), akin to the one seen in the still photo above, is being sold to the general public by Ronnie Barrett, yet another wealthy member of the NRA's Board of Directors.
The Barrett M82 semi-automatic sniper rifle chambers a powerful 12.7×99 mm NATO (.50BMG) armor piercing round. Known as the "Barrett Light Fifty," it was used by the IRA to conduct a sniper campaign against British armed forces in Northern Ireland. It has been sold to the armed forces of some 40 nations. During the First Gulf War, the U.S. military used the Barrett M82 to disable Iraqi armored personnel carriers.
It is difficult to imagine what possible legitimate function the M82 would have in any civilian setting --- that is unless one considers assassinations and shooting down helicopters to be a constitutionally protected sporting event. Yet, lighter variations of the M82, like the more advanced M107, are readily available to civilians in every state except California. When California banned civilian purchases of these insanely deadly weapons, Barrett retaliated by suspending sales to all of the Golden State's law enforcement agencies. Frankly, the following narrated video suggests that this powerful weapon should not be in the hands of law enforcement agencies either, let alone civilians.
One can't help but think of the words Martin Luther King presented during his moving "Beyond Vietnam" speech: "Somehow this madness must cease"...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar steps down; Crop Killer: freeze hits CA citrus; 2012 tenth hottest year globally; EPA squashes fracking drinking water study; TX sues for OK's water; PLUS: No, it's not your imagination --- Spring is springing earlier than ever ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Coal exports to Asia: new battle against global warming; Court finds Bush EPA weakened soot regulations; Exploring environmental links to autism; Coal-ash dump leaking into WV neighborhood; Killer bat disease spreads to KY ... PLUS: Why the 'Idle No More' Movement Is Our Best Chance for Clean Land and Water ... and much, MUCH more! ...
While the short answer is that it is no doubt protected against criminal prosecution by the Speech or Debate Clause of the U.S. Constitution, one can't help but think of how the successive efforts by radical 'Tea Party' Republicans, first during the manufactured "fiscal cliff" crisis, and now by way of holding a figurative gun to the head of the nation's and world's economy, in order to extract concessions that would destroy the New Deal safety net (see two Jan. 14 segments of the Ed Schultz show below), resembles the crime of extortion, perhaps even treason.
For those of us who live in California, this latest round of GOP hostage-taking comes as no surprise. Year-after-year, the CA GOP utilized the Golden State's requirement of a 2/3 vote for passage of either spending or revenue enhancing measures as a means to force austerity, such as former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's draconian $15 billion cuts to education and health care. By refusing to pass a budget, the CA GOP at one point forced the state controller to issue $2.6 billion in IOUs. And, all during the CA GOP reign of economic terror, the Golden State's budget deficit expanded --- reaching an indebtedness in excess of $20 billion despite those massive cuts.
Democracy struck back. The percentage of CA voters who are registered Republicans dropped to less than 30%. During the 2012 election, CA voters passed a relatively progressive, revenue-enhancing tax measure supported by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) by a wide margin and the GOP's ability to hold the state hostage was eliminated when Democrats achieved a super-majority in the state legislature.
As a result, fiscal sanity was restored. CA is now on track to achieving a budget surplus even as $5.2 billion has been added to the state's school, university and health care budgets.
It is appropriate that President Barack Obama, who unfortunately lacks a record of holding fast to principle, has, so far, stated that he will not give in to the latest extortion demands concerning the upcoming need to raise the debt ceiling once again. But, given the nature of the far greater damage to both the U.S. and even global economy that could be wrought by the Congressional GOP's latest round of hostage-taking, can the nation or the world await a subsequent election to deal with extortion by an organization, the so-called 'Tea Party,' that is funded and controlled by the rapacious billionaires Charles and David Koch, whose Koch Industries was described by William Koch, David's twin, as a form of "organized crime?"
Two 1/14/2013 segments of MSNBC's The Ed Show addressing GOP hostage-taking on the debt ceiling follow below...
Tyranny! No, wait! Freedom and liberty! No, wait! Obama puts the 'O' in Ompeachment!
Oh, this dictatorship stuff is all so confusing. But not nearly as confused as today's KPFK/Pacifica Radio listeners may have been. Don't believe me? Give a listen to today's BradCast posted below. Tons and tons of callers, and we didn't even get to half of the callers who were waiting on hold to be heard over their public airwaves...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT:While We Were Out: Shell Oil crashed in Alaska; Catastrophic heatwave, wildfires in Australia; Deep smog in China; EPA Administrator resigns; NYTimes shuts enviro desk; PLUS: It's official: 2012 hottest year on record for continental U.S. ... All that and much more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Deadly fungus poisons corn, causes cancer; UN: rising mercury emissions increase risk to humans; Warmest year on record gets cool climate coverage; Fox News blunders on climate stats; Black carbon 2nd biggest human cause of global warming; NY gov announces $1B Green Bank; Big Oil lobbyist denies oil's tax breaks ... PLUS: Could Geo-Engineering Spawn Rogue Planet Hackers? ... and much, MUCH more! ...
A federal judge approved a settlement resolving the class action lawsuit filed on behalf of demonstrators who were pepper-sprayed at UC Davis in 2011.
U.S. District Court Judge John Mendez on Wednesday gave the final approval for the $1 million settlement, initially filed in September.
As part of the settlement, the university has agreed to pay $30,000 to each of the 21 plaintiffs, a total of $250,000 to their attorneys and a total of $100,000 to 15 other claimants.
The settlement also stipulates that UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi issue a formal written apology to the students and alumni who were pepper-sprayed. It also calls for the university to develop new policies regarding student demonstrations and use of force.
In the very same week...
• A military judge agreed that U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning's pre-trial confinement, for having allegedly leaked classified diplomatic cables, was excessively harsh, but refused to dismiss the charges against him. Instead, the judge reduced 4 months from Manning's potential life sentence that he hasn't even received yet while being jailed for 2 years and 8 months, so far, waiting for his day in military court. The judge also delayed the start of his trial for another 3 months in the bargain.
• Britain's largest bank, HSBC, was slapped on the wrist with a $1.9 billion settlement (a few weeks of profit) for having knowingly laundered billions of dollars for drug cartels and terrorist organizations and rogue states after federal prosecutors in the U.S. decided that any harsher punishment --- such as larger fines or taking them to court or, God forbid, sending any single one of their employees or board members to prison for even a day --- would potentially result in bankruptcy for the "too big to jail" international bank.
And, a few weeks before that...
• Oil giant BPpleaded guilty to 11 counts of manslaughter and other criminal charges related to the massive oil spill and deaths of 11 men on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. They agreed to pay $4.5 billion in fines (they made more than that in profit alone in the third quarter of 2012) over a five year period. Nobody would face any jail time in the settlement.
Yet, all the while...
• NRA stooges continued to pretend that their big bad assault weapons are responsible for keeping this country safe from big government tyranny.
What the fuck is wrong with this picture, those people, this Administration, our Dept. of Justice, and this country?
In the twisted Rightwing world of CNN's Erin Burnett, one "tempers" ones views by favoring war over diplomacy. It's the world upside down. But it's prime-time anchor Burnett's world, so, unfortunately, it must be ours as well.
"In Washington, there's no ruling party," progressive activist and congressional expert Howie Klein of "Down With Tyranny" told me during my interview with him on the Mike Malloy Show just prior to Thanksgiving. We were discussing issues surrounding the increasingly conservative bent of the Democratic leadership in the U.S. House.
"The ruling clique in Washington is what's called 'the conservative consensus'," he continued. "And 'the conservative consensus' is the Republicans, not just in Congress, but the Republicans who stay there forever --- in think tanks, and in the media, and in the consultant world, the pundit world. So them --- and the Democrats who are also part of that world --- that's 'the conservative consensus'. It's everybody but the progressives."
That "conservative consensus" is on display every night on CNN, courtesy of Burnett and her insipid Out Front program. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more blatant example of the "conservative consensus" in the media than her comments that I happened to catch last week while on the road.
Here's Burnett during a discussion on her show last Monday (1/7/2013, the full video is here) about the various concerns --- pretend or otherwise --- about President Obama's nomination of former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) as the next Secretary of Defense. Her guests were former George W. Bush Speechwriter and Senior Adviser David "Axis of Evil" Frum and former Pentagon Press Secretary for Barack Obama, Doug Wilson. [Emphasis added.]
BURNETT: Hagel voted against sanctions [on Iran]. Now he says he's for multilateral sanctions, but he voted against unilateral sanctions. He voted against recognizing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard core as a terrorist organization. That, of course, was well outside the mainstream. The Senate voted 76 to 22 in favor of that.
And in 2006, to David [Frum]'s point, Hagel said, and I'll just quote him in part: "I would say that a military strike against Iran, a military option, is not a viable, feasible responsible option ... I believe a political ... settlement will be the answer. Not a military settlement."
Now, since then, to be fair, he has tempered his point of view. In an op-ed as recently as September, he says "war with Iran is not inevitable, but U.S. security is seriously threatened by an armed Iran."
But is he really outside the mainstream on Iran?
What she did right there, with that almost off-handed, almost imperceptible throw-away line --- "to be fair, he has tempered his point of view" --- is simply incredible to me, and a perfect example of the "conservative consensus" that Klein was talking about.
Since when did shifting one's position towards a possibility of war, rather than diplomatic solutions, become a "tempered" point of view in this country? That nobody on the show even blinked an eye about it is even more astounding.
For the record, no matter the way he is being slimed by the "conservative consensus" at CNN and elsewhere on this and other matters, Hagel, a two-time Purple Heart recipient during his time as an infantry squad leader in the Vietnam War, is anything but a pacifist or a so-called left-wing peacenik when it comes to these matters...
We're just returning to The BRAD BLOG Universal News Headquarters from a couple of weeks on the road with family, during which we spent much of our time off the political grid, trying to look the other way, and otherwise hoping our brain might heal a bit in the bargain following an exceedingly grueling year.
Lots to catch up on before we're back at full speed, but if the news out of the White House was always this much fun perhaps this work wouldn't be so difficult in the first place.
There is no word on whether Dick Cheney was the one who filed the original petition, but the official response from Paul Shawcross, Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget, is awesomely geek-worthy and follows in full below. Among other observations, he astutely asks: "Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?"
"Anyone from New York or New Jersey who contributes one penny to the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee should have their head examined." - Rep. Peter King (R-NY), 1/2/2013.
In the wake of the Jan. 1, 2013 decision by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to postpone a vote on Hurricane Sandy relief until after the 113th Congress was sworn in, NY Rep. Peter King's sense of betrayal, which he described as "a knife in the back" in a remarkable floor speech, is understandable, but his proposed remedy is woefully deficient.
The only way that Republicans in an entire region of the country --- the Northeast --- can achieve meaningful representation in the 113th Congress may be by way of a massive party switch. The increasingly rare breed of "moderate House Republicans" may soon only be left with the choice of emulating the late Sen. Arlen Specter's 2009 party switch, by either becoming Democrats or by becoming independents who will caucus with the Democrats.
Of course, that didn't work out terribly well for Specter either...
There has been much debate over the last several weeks over the inaccurate use of scenes of torture in the new film Zero Dark Thirty to suggest that so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" were key to the capture and ultimate killing of Osama Bin Laden. (See "Zero Dark Thirty's Wrong and Dangerous Conclusion" by Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney, for example, or Glenn Greenwald's "Zero Dark Thirty: new torture-glorifying film wins raves", which asks "Can a movie that relies on fabrications to generate support for war crimes still be considered great?")
Beyond the question of whether it is appropriate or not to use blatantly false and misleading "dramatic license" in a theatrical film which it's filmmaker describes as employing "almost a journalistic approach to film", there is another troubling issue that seems to be getting lost in the debate.
It is disturbing, if not altogether surprising, to find an article on the front page of the Los Angeles Times recently, discussing the film, and its related "debate" amongst Democrats and Republicans on the U.S. Senate Intelligence over "the value of 'enhanced interrogation techniques.'"
The topic is one we have covered extensively here at The BRAD BLOG --- coverage that has included a five-part series on the history of CIA torture and a dire warning that the very survival of our Constitutional Democracy could hinge on justified prosecutions of those who previously ordered or engaged in torture.
In early 2009, in "Fixing the Facts and Legal Opinions Around the Torture Policy," I took dead aim at the sophistry employed by President Barack Obama to evade his constitutionally mandated obligation to see that the laws are faithfully executed. The same Harvard Law School-educated President who said that, in torture, America had lost its "moral bearings," suggested we must only look forward, not back. As I noted at the time, it was an "illogical formulation [that] was incompatible with the very essence of the rule of law."
Those prosecutions were not forthcoming, and, as a result, we find two writers at Los Angeles Times discussing the dispute triggered by the movie, Zero Dark Forty, over the efficacy of torture without so much as a passing reference to the fact that torture is a crime under both U.S. and international law.
This woefully deficient "coverage" drew a sharp and very personal response, given my family's history, by way of a Letter to the Editor I wrote to the paper, which they recently edited, and then published...
Regarding the "2nd Amendment protects us from tyranny" argument: Let's think about the so-called Patriot Act. That law isn't some right-wing paranoid fantasy about "Obama will take our guns!" or black helicopters or blue-helmeted UN troops putting us in concentration camps. That law is a REAL infringement on our liberties. Under the still-in-effect Patriot Act, the fed. govt. can, at any time and without having to provide any reason, cry "National Security!" and arrest us without warrant or charges, imprison us indefinitely, hold us incommunicado, deny us legal representation, search our homes, persons, cars, papers, email, phone records, snail mail, etc. in secret and without a warrant, take away our right to Habeas Corpus (the right to go before a judge to contest our imprisonment), send us to foreign nations for "interrogation" by the authorities of said foreign nation (read "torture"), and a host of other liberty-destroying provisions too numerous to list here.
Where was the NRA while the Patriot Act was being passed? Where are they now while it's still in effect?
Most importantly, why didn't our right to bear arms protect us from this drastic, powerful, and seemingly permanent destruction of many of our Constitutional liberties??
Look, if gun owners really and truly want to protect our liberties, they should put down their guns and get politically active. Guns did not protect us and would not have protected us from the Patriot Act. Only active engagement in our political system would have or could still save us from the Patriot Act and/or other infringements of our liberties.
P.S. Forgot to add, I'm a gun owner. But I try (in my very small and limited way) to protect liberty not by carrying my gun everywhere but by being actively engaged in the political process.
We'd add only one other thought for now: Where does the 2nd Amendment, or any other, afford anybody the "civil liberty" of buying and purchasing as many semi-assault rifles, boxes of ammo and high-capacity magazines as they want without restriction or regulation? We can't seem to find that in our copy of the U.S. Constitution and, though we've asked, no one has yet identified for us where that "liberty" is enumerated.
That said, Heller's point above is probably far more important.
As we noted yesterday, the press conference held by the NRA's Con-Man-In-Chief did not go well. But, of course, as we've been told by many an NRA-stooge commenter long taken in by the NRA racket, we're just "anti-gun nuts", right?
While it's not entirely surprising to see the New York Times editorial board deride LaPierre's proposal yesterday, writing unambiguously that they "we were stunned by Mr. LaPierre’s mendacious, delusional, almost deranged rant," how about those "anti-gun nuts" over at Rupert Murdoch'sNew York Post today?...
And, just for good measure, here's the review from the not-nearly-as-Rightwing New York Daily News...
So, uh, apparently it's not just us. (For a pleasant change.)
And, by the way, while we have been describing the NRA as a "racket" for some time, even George W. Bush's former White House ethics attorney (yes, they had one!) is calling them the very same thing now, and in the New York Times!