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...
CNN's Jack Cafferty calls Dennis Kucinich a "feisty little dude" for taking MSNBC to court for excluding him from the Democratic debate tonight in Las Vegas. A judge agreed that it would be unfair to exclude Kucinich and ordered MSNBC to allow the Congressman to debate. MSNBC has appealed that ruling and the hearing is ongoing.
The viewer E-mail in the second half of the Cafferty File is interesting as well. One viewer suggests that war profits by MSNBC parent company GE were driving the effort to exclude Kucinich from the debate. And the final viewer email by Tony poignantly answers Cafferty's questions about whether the courts should intervene in such cases:
Why not? There is precedent. Remember December, 2000 when the courts effectively selected who should be the President of The United States.
In a promo airing on MSNBC Chris Matthews states that "politics at its best is a battle of ideas where one person with some guts and belief takes on someone else with some guts and belief and those who watch get to decide who is right."
Unfortunately, those who watch the January 15th Democratic debate in Las Vegas will not see one of the gutsiest candidates since NBC recently revamped its own rules in order to kick Congressman Dennis Kucinich out of the debate. One can't help but wonder if this is because of some of Kucinich's ideas - bring the troops home now and vehemently anti-war - are anathema to NBC's parent company, General Electric (GE), which is also a large military defense contractor.
At a minimum, the exclusion of Kucinich certainly makes Matthews a hypocrite. As he says, "those who watch get to decide who is right", not those who run media conglomerates. Should one feel inclined to ask Matthews to stand by his words and let the people decide, his email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
COMMENT FROM BRAD: Or does it have something to do with his asking for a hand count of the votes in the NH Primary? After all, Kucinich already had his anti-war position when he was initially invited to participate in the debate originally, several days ago. But he was then un-invited the morning after he announced his call for a count of the NH primary ballots. Just FYI.
IMPORTANT NOTE FROM BRAD: In the above clip, Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) speaks about the necessity of a paper ballot for every vote cast, that can be "audited" after an election to ensure voter intent was recorded accurately. It should be noted, however, that while he plans to introduce a small "emergency bill" next week, which would give money to jurisdictions who wish to provide paper ballots to voters in the November 2008 election only, his larger Election Reform bill (HR811) that he has previously been pushing (and refers to near the end of the segment) does not, despite what the Congressman says, require paper ballots be used.
HR811 would continue to allow for DRE (usually called touch-screen) voting systems to be used, as long as they have a so-called "paper trail" printer. DRE "paper trails", however, do not provide a reliable, auditable record of voter intent. Only voter-marked paper ballots --- such as the ones used in New Hampshire --- provide such assurances of an auditable election result. See this Special Coverage page for more info on HR811.
DREs with or without so-called "paper trails" cannot be used safely in any American election. Period.
Even the Exit Polls showed that Obama should have won, according to Chris Matthews on Hardball today. It's the first specific indication that we've seen that the raw, unadjusted Exit Poll data, which only corporate mainstream media folks, not mere mortals, are allowed to see, confirmed pre-election polling which predicted an Obama win.
He introduced his segment today this way (video at right):
MATTHEWS: So what accounts for Hillary Clinton's victory in New Hampshire? What we don't know is why the victory is so much different in fact, than the polling ahead of time, including what we call the Exit Polls were telling us. Obama was ahead in those polls by an average of 8 points, and even our own Exit Polls, taken as people came out of voting, showed him ahead. So what's going on here?
"Why were the polls taken, of people coming out of the booth, so off?," Matthews tries to ask his guests again and again. And again.
All of them twisted and turned and contorted and grappled and speculated, coming up with every possible unverifiable, backwards-engineered explanation, save for the one that must not be named. The 600 lb. canary in the virtual living room...the fact that no human being has bothered to check what was actually on NH's vast majority of ballots (80%) which were "counted" by error-prone, hackable Diebold optical-scan machines, all controlled by one bad, horribly irresponsible private company, who has no business being anywhere near a public election...
Our Spidey-sense started tingling before going to bed last night and hearing reports, on MSNBC, that there were 17 paper ballots cast in Dixville Notch, NH, in its midnight, first-in-the-country voting. The report said that there were only 16 registered voters in the tiny voting precinct, yet 17 votes had been cast --- suggesting that somehow, paper ballot "voter fraud" skullduggery was afoot.
Following on that, reports throughout the day appeared that NH precincts were out of paper ballots, and voters were unable to vote.
Trouble is, both reports are either completely untrue, or wholly misleading, or both, as The BRAD BLOG was able to confirm with two simple phone calls.
Each of those reports, however, would seem to go a long way towards giving the impression that paper ballots are a bad idea, and that "voter fraud" is easy to commit when using them. Given that one of those reports seems to have begun on The DRUDGE REPORT earlier today, we're not particularly surprised that the MSM kept repeating the easily-debunked stories running all day.
That, even while there are reasons to be concerned about how the paper ballots used in the New Hampshire Primary will actually be counted by the hackable Diebold optical-scan systems used in the state, as controlled and programmed by an outrageously bad private contractor there...
Conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt is a professional propagandist. Any remaining doubt that Hewitt was not a legitimate journalist was removed earlier this month by former White House counsel, Dan Bartlett, who had the following exchange with The Texas Monthly:
TM: Yeah, or what if [conservative blogger] Hugh Hewitt called?
Bartlett: That’s when you start going, “Hmm . . .” Because they do reach people who are influential.
TM: Well, they reach the president’s base.
Bartlett: That’s what I mean by influential. I mean, talk about a direct IV into the vein of your support. It’s a very efficient way to communicate. They regurgitate exactly and put up on their blogs what you said to them. It is something that we’ve cultivated and have really tried to put quite a bit of focus on.
But pointing out the obvious fact that wingnut bloggers and talk-radio hosts are hardwired to do White House bidding is hardly newsworthy.
What makes Hewitt an interesting study today is that his overwhelming support for presidential candidate Mitt Romney has exposed his propagandist ways to even his "conservative" listeners, one of whom recently noted on air, before being cut off by Hewitt, the host's apparent "man crush" on the Presidential Candidate...
Abrams was outraged at the lateral move for Tanner, and his attempted re-writing of the history of his shameful record, in his "farewell email" to colleagues. Guests David Becker, a former DoJ Civil Rights Division attorney, now of People for the American Way (PFAW) and Washington Post's Dana Milbank, both concurred that Tanner's comments, as video-taped, and originally reported by The BRAD BLOG were instrumentally in his "demise".
The extension to the investigative series shores up Abrams' promise which concluded last week's "final" episode...
“Now while this was the last episode of this series, our 'Bush League' investigations are far from over. A new Attorney General has taken over. We are going to be watching very closely. The days of Justice Department malfeasance remaining under the mainstream media radar are over. You are on notice.”
Abrams once again showed a clip from our video, and this time with proper credit (Thank you!). He initially reported on the Tanner controversy, using a clip from our video, in the opening episode of the series last Monday.
As well, we heard yesterday from a producer on the show who told us they felt there would likely be much more to come in what may now be a now-continuing series. In the bargain, we were able to discuss a number of otherBRAD BLOG stories which may be of interest to them in future shows. So, stay tuned...
(Hat-tip to Alan Breslauer for both the above video, and the original video-tape of Tanner which started it all, from last October's National Latino Congreso here in Los Angeles, where he made his now-infamous remarks!)
The third installment of "Bush League Justice" on MSNBC Live with Dan Abrams continued last night with an investigation into how the DoJ has targeted Democrats for investigation and prosecution. In fact, one study shows that Democrats have been investigated and prosecuted at nearly six times the rate of Republicans at the federal level. According to the study's author, the statistical possibility of this happening by chance is 1 in 10,000. Studies show that prosecutions on the state level are fairly even between Democrats and Republicans.
This is hardly surprising since the DoJ tracked which attorney's "Exhibited loyalty to the President and Attorney General" and which were members of the ultra-conservative Federalist Society.
Evaluating attorneys based on whether they were "loyal Bushies", according to former U.S. Attorney and current Senator, Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), is "disgraceful".
Also "troubling" to Abrams is the timing of investigations and prosecutions which often occurred right before elections, in violation of the DoJ's own procedures manual. When the Bushies were eventually caught doing so, they simply changed the manual.
The second installment of "Bush League Justice" on MSNBC Live with Dan Abrams continued last night with an investigation into the Bush administration's "unprecedented use" of signing statements to subvert the rule of law. A signing statement is a president's written interpretation of legislation passed by congress which accompanies his signature when he signs a bill into law.
For example, in 2005 congress voted overwhelmingly to ban torture which Bush signed into law. However, Bush also included a signing statement which basically allowed him to ignore the new law.
To date, Bush has issued 1,100 signing statements which is nearly double that of all 42 presidents that preceded him combined.
According to Abrams, the Bush administration "has turned the Division against the very people it was designed to protect. Instead of pursuing discrimination cases on behalf of African Americans, the Bush Civil Rights Division has focused on supposed reverse discrimination cases against whites and religious discrimination cases against Christians." Abrams points out that between 2001 and 2006, "not one voting discrimination case was brought on behalf of African Americans."
The segment continues with Abrams questioning former DoJ attorneys David Becker and Alia Malek about the Bush administration "stack[ing] the deck against Democrats." In one example given by Becker, congressional redistricting plans thought to favor Democrats would get "very, very, serious scrutiny" while redistrictings that favored Republicans would receive a "very hands off approach" even if, as was the case in Texas, the plan was unanimously found to discriminate against Hispanics by career Justice Department officials.
In addition to stacking the deck against Democrats, Abrams states that the Justice Department has been "hijacked" by the far right. After evidencing this claim with a couple of telling statistics, a somewhat exasperated Abrams continues, "They fundamentally changed what the Civil Rights Division does. It's no longer there to protect African Americans. It is to go after reverse discrimination cases and also to try and promote religion in schools and other public places."
Part 1 continues (at the 6:15 mark) with Abrams playing the "pretty amazing statement" by John Tanner, the current chief of the DoJ's Voting Rights Section, about minorities not being disenfranchised by Photo ID laws because they "don't become elderly the way white people do, they die first." Unfortunately Abrams, like many in the mainstream media, failed to credit The BRAD BLOG for our original video and reporting of the incident.
Despite the slight we look forward to more excellent reporting on this long overdue topic throughout the week.
Likely worth watching this week is Dan Abram's "Bush League Justice" series at 9pm ET Mon - Thur on MSNBC.
Blogging at MSNBC and Huff Po, Abrams says the series is in response to his "increasing frustration and outrage over how the Bush administration has politicized the usually apolitical Justice Department," which, he writes, has "significantly abused its authority to try to enhance power at the expense of any sense of objective justice" and has "decimated some of the most fundamental and cherished principles that define justice in this country."
He also goes on to focus on the breathtaking failures of the DoJ's Civil Rights division, which we've taken considerable notice of here at The BRAD BLOG --- including, but not limited to, most recently its Voting Section chief John "Minorities Die First" Tanner --- over the past several years...
Maybe most egregious is the now nearly unrecognizable Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. Since 1957, it has led the effort to enforce civil rights laws and the fight for minorities. Even Richard Nixon's effort to delay implementation of school desegregation was less radical than how this president has flipped the goals and mission of the Division and allowed it to become a tool of the radical right.
Instead of pursuing cases of discrimination against African Americans, the Division under President Bush has focused on supposed reverse discrimination against whites and religious discrimination cases against Christians. A Boston Globe report even showed that almost half of the new hires in that department who had "civil rights experience" had "experience" only in defending employers or --- fighting --- affirmative action.
Those in the Voting Rights Section of the Justice Department must really feel like they are in an upside down world. From 2001 to 2006, not one voting discrimination case was brought on behalf of African-American voters. Instead they have focused on alleged voter fraud cases that effectively target minority communities rather than protecting them.
Abrams goes on to point out several more troubling points about the Bush League DoJ, including a "University of Minnesota study conducted this year [which] shows that for every elected Republican investigated during this president's tenure, there were seven elected Democrats investigated."
A line in his final graf caught our eye as both the most inadvertently self-critical as well as the most incisive: "This series is long overdue."
I happened to catch the end of Tucker Carlson's show on MSNBC a couple of Fridays ago, and heard him sign off with this:
CARLSON: That does it for us. Thank you for watching, as always. We mean that sincerely to all eight of you.
All eight of you? It's not often you hear a cable host admit his ratings suck.
I knew someone at TVNewser would pick this up, and, sure enough:
A TVNewser tipster tells us "MSNBC management [is] infuriated" at Tucker's flippant sign-off.
And Tucker underestimates his viewership by a factor of 10,000. His 10-day average in the A25-54 demo is 80,000. He finished in third [behind other shows in the same time slot] on seven of those days, and fourth, behind Headline News, on three days.
In the background, of course, is the ratings success of "Countdown," Keith Olbermann's groundbreaking show at 5 p.m. Olbermann has surprised nearly everyone in the cable news business by creating a rating success with news slanted to the left and commentary that often excoriates George Bush and his regime.
"Countdown" has been on for more than four years so it was just a matter of time before the executives at MSNBC noticed (or could no longer deny) that Olbermann's show is the most successful live show in their line-up. Now it seems they're ready to copy Olbermann's success by bringing on another liberal host (which would make a grand total of two in all of TV land).
By Brad Friedman...trying to keep up with all from the road...
Our story so far...Last Friday I was at the BlogWorld Expo in Vegas, where billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner, HDNet media impresario, and blogger Mark Cuban gave the closing keynote address. I asked him about the various attacks on him from Bill O'Reilly concerning Redacted, the new Brian DePalma film which HDNet is releasing this week...and which O'Reilly has not seen...but has declared to be "anti-troop" nonetheless.
Cuban told me that he's "very grateful" to the far-Right Fox "News" desk-jockey for the publicity he's brought to what would otherwise have been a small film release. "Bill O'Reilly is my new best friend!" he declared. My coverage of that, blogged from the conference room just after his address, is here.
On Sunday, Cuban himself blogged more on the topic at his BlogMaverick site, in a post which begins, "I've grown to love Bill O'Reilly. Seriously. If there is anyone who can publicize a political movie, it's Bill and I truly appreciate that about him." Cuban then goes on to speak to O'Reilly's concerns about the film...which O'Reilly has not seen.
On Monday, a visibly angry (or mock-angry, as the case usually is) O'Reilly shot back. He ranted that in a different day FDR "might have incarcerated" Cuban and that "General Patton would have slapped the tar out of him." O'Reilly's ingenious plan to teach Cuban a lesson: A campaign calling for Dallas Mavericks fans to display "Support the Troops" signs at games, and for protesters to show up outside movie theaters showing the film with "Support the Troops" signs. O'Reilly said he would be doing so himself. We posted video of his silly rant yesterday.
Which brings us up to yesterday, when O'Reilly railed again against Cuban, calling him an "extremist." Ironically, Ann Coulter would join him for the conversation...about the film O'Reilly hasn't seen.
At the same time, MSNBC's Kieth Olbermann (O'Reilly's actual arch-enemy) jumped into the fray to have much fun at O'Reilly's expense from the night before. His report included a video-taped look at the actual answer Cuban gave to my question last Friday at the BlogWorld Expo (though not the question itself), along with an examination of O'Reilly's claim that Cuban would have been locked up by FDR and slapped by Patton for having produced the film...Which O'Reilly hasn't seen.
Olbermann also notes that the Dallas Mavericks had previously planned a "Support the Troops" night for the Texas National Guard at their upcoming home game anyway, but we're sure that O'Reilly will take credit for the thousands of green shirts with such a message --- long-planned to be given out to fans that night --- along with the Mavs' long-standing "Seats for Soldiers" program as some response to his ingenious plan to teach Cuban a lesson...by "promoting" his film for him, even though he hasn't seen it.
Here's last night's O'Reilly and then Olbermann videos, courtesy of our own video-ace, Alan Breslauer...
Lastly, Olbermann had a short follow-up segment with a former Reagan Administration Official, Constitutional Attorney Bruce Fein, for a historical look at FDR's actual imprisonment plans during WWII...
So now, if you cared, you're all up to date!
And a personal message for Cuban from The BRAD BLOG: Hey, it's been our pleasure to give your film all this free publicity! Sorry we haven't called you an extremist or called for you to be locked up, but it's the best we can do. (We also did a fairly good job of making noise with Dan Rather's blockbuster HDNet exposé on touch-screen voting machines to boot!) Both have been our pleasure. But, feel free to say thanks by purchasing a BlogAd here, as you've done on a number of the other progressive blogs, but not ours --- We could certainly use the support to keep taking down the bad guys! Not to mention an ad buy here is a great way to "thank" O'Reilly for all he's done for ya! Hope you'll consider it!