Behind the radio mic for Ed, and joined by great, independent progressive journalists Ari Berman (on SCOTUS voting rights rulings), Marcy Wheeler (on NSA spying), David Dayen (on disaster mortgage scams); Plus rants, callers, news of the day and more!...
Rupture feared; Workers contaminated; New evacs 'recommended'... PLUS: German study uses French data to corroborate findings from Austrian, U.S. scientists, suggesting Fukushima disaster should be reclassified as 'level 7' accident, on par with Chernobyl...
How far to the Right has the Republican Party gone over the past few years? So far that they now seem to even consider Karl Rove a traitor to their cause.
As evidence, take a look at these headlines from Rightwing sites taking Rove to the woodshed this week in response to his recently announced plan to form the "Conservative Victory Project" Super PAC to keep "Tea Party" candidates who Rove feels can't win general elections, from winning Republican U.S. Senate primaries in the first place...
That's some serious blow-back from Rove's own base --- or what used to be his base. Yes, the hard right Brain of Bush is now far "to the Left" of his own party. Oh, well. Win by the sword, etc...
Rachel Maddow's full segment from Tuesday night, on the GOP's attempt to rebrand themselves and the civil war that seems to be ensuing --- particularly as two of the House's most extreme Rightwing loons, Rep. Paul Broun (GA) and Rep. Steven King (IA), each plan to seek their party's nomination for U.S. Senate in their respective states (Broun is really a piece of work, as Maddow details) --- follows below. Get your popcorn...
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"...
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...
On today's The BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio here in Los Angeles, we dealt with, what, if anything, will now be done in the wake of the latest mass shootings in Newtown, CT, and if the lies and propaganda and bullying of the NRA will finally be overcome --- or not.
Desi Doyen joins us for a brief history of how the NRA changed in 1977 from a 100-year old gun safety organization, to a Republican political operation, as well as for the latest Green News Report.
Plus, we got to a lot of phone callers with opinions on all of this, including an NRA member who says he'll be quitting the group; an NRA instructor who says we're absolutely right about what the NRA has become; a caller disagrees that any more gun laws are needed, because it would "allow the wolf in the door", or some such; and even a surprise call from our pal, the great progressive trouble-maker Cliff Schecter. Enjoy!
The conservative Republican and former U.S. Congressman from Florida turned MSNBC morning show anchor Joe Scarborough offered a powerful response this morning to the tragic mass shooting which killed 20 children and 7 adults in Newtown, CT last Friday.
The often glib Scarborough who says he "received the NRA's highest ratings over four terms in Congress," took a very serious and non-ideological turn at the top of today's Morning Joe program on MSNBC. During his prepared remarks he cited the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook elementary school as a "true landmark" which, he said, forced him to spend "the past few days grasping for solutions and struggling for answers, while daring to question my long held beliefs on these subjects."
"Every American must know," he said, "from this day forward, that nothing can ever be the same again."
With an eye towards what he described as "entrenched special interests [who] will try to muddy the issues," he implored that "Politicians can no longer be allowed to defend the status quo. They must instead be forced to protect our children."
"The violence we see spreading from shopping malls in Oregon, to movie theaters in Colorado, to college campuses in Virginia, to elementary schools in Connecticut, is being spawned by the toxic brew of a violent pop culture, a growing mental health crisis and the proliferation of combat-styled guns."
"The cause of these sickening mass shootings," he explained, "is no longer a mystery to common-sense Americans."
Speaking from his former perspective as a powerful Washington D.C. insider during his days in the U.S. House, Scarborough went on to say: "I am a conservative Republican who received the NRA's highest ratings over 4 terms in Congress. I saw the debate over guns as a powerful, symbolic struggle between individual rights and government control. In the years after Waco and Ruby Ridge, the symbolism of that debate seemed even more powerful to my colleagues and me."
"But the symbols of that ideological struggle have since been shattered by the harvest sown from violent, mind-numbing video games and gruesome Hollywood movies that dangerously desensitizes those who struggle with mental health challenges. Add military-styled weapons and high capacity magazines to that equation and tragedy can never be too far behind."
"Friday changed everything," he continued. "It must change everything. We all must begin anew and demand that Washington's old way of doing business is no longer acceptable. ... Our Bill of Rights does not guarantee gun manufacturers the absolute right to sell military-styled high-caliber semi-automatic combat assault rifles with high capacity magazines to whoever the hell they want."
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The complete video of Scarborough's 12/17/2012 remarks on MSNBC's Morning Joe is at the top of this article, the full text transcript follows below...
FL's former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist says the GOP's suggestion "that there's some massive fraud going on" by Florida voters is "laughable".
Rachel Maddow's entire intro and interview with Crist last night is very much worth watching, and so we'll post both at the bottom of this article. But one point in particular during the interview with the Republican-turned-independent needs to be highlighted here.
The contrast couldn't be more stark from his successor, the reprehensible current Governor Rick Scott, who spent much of this past election year rolling back Crist's improvement to the voting system, in an attempt to keep legal, Democratic-leaning voters from being able to cast their vote at all, as even other Republican officials in the state are now beginning to admit out loud.
In the following, powerful clip from Maddow's full interview last night, she asks Crist, as the former Republican Governor of Florida, about the ridiculously transparent claims by the GOP that restrictions on voter registration, the right to vote by former felons, and the shortening of early voting is "only about voter fraud" and "voting integrity."
"Is it clear to you that is just bunk?," she asks Crist who replies directly in turn: "It's crystal clear to me. You couldn't be more right, in my humble opinion. And, you know, we can say this about all these road bloacks that are put in the way of people exercising their right to vote, and we saw it in a dramatic fashion this last Election Day in Florida"...
Rachel Maddow's full intro to the interview with Charlie Christ, describing how and why he was purged by the party (likely had something to do with his progressive position on democracy!) and the full 11/27/12 interview with the former Republican FL Governor, both follow below...
While we've been watching the situation, and talking about it on radio over the past week, here at The BRAD BLOG we've yet to have time to cover what's going on in Arizona --- most acutely in Maricopa County (Phoenix) --- where some half a million ballots remain untallied a week after the election when many Hispanic voters who thought they were registered to vote, were directed to cast a provisional ballot instead...for some reason.
Under Arizona law, those voters have until Wednesday to show up to the County Clerk's office with ID to prove they are who they said they were when they cast their ballots last week. The approximately 486,405 uncounted ballots across the state include 307,620 early ballots and 178,785 provisionals. That's 1 out of 4 ballots cast across the state still not included in the results, to date.
In the bargain, a whole bunch of Arizona races --- including their U.S. Senate race, a number of U.S. House races, and several state and local races --- remain officially "undecided" at the moment and/or could see their currently announced "winners" become losers.
The DoJ's Civil Rights Division, according to TPM, may, or may not, be keeping their eyes on the situation there.
The Hispanic community in the state, thankfully, is not taking this one sitting down...especially not after standing in line for hours just to cast their vote, or, in this case, provisional ballots that may or may not be counted. They have been surrounding the Maricopa County Clerk's office in a 24 hour vigil, and phone-banking to call those who were forced to vote provisionally, to let them know they need to get back to the Clerk's office ASAP to try and assure their vote actually gets counted.
This is among the darkest sides of the GOP's War on Democracy that we've been covering all year (for many years, actually) and the shameful battle continues at this hour. We may have more details in the days ahead (on this, and other uncounted ballots and undecided races in other states as well), but, for now, Rachel Maddow did a great overview on MSNBC last night, of the assault on democracy currently being played out in Arizona...
[UPDATE: As of 6:00pm PT, the KPOJ website has now flipped to "Fox Sports AM 620 Portland".]
This is horrible. Tonight, without warning, Clear Channel Communications-owned 620 AM KPOJ in Portland, Oregon, one of the most progressive cities in one of the nation's most progressive states, has flipped from its years-long progressive news and talk format over to Fox Sports as of 5:30pm local time.
KPOJ was the only commercial progressive talk radio station in Portland. The city will still have several other Rightwing talk radio stations, including one owned by Clear Channel, and they already have two sports stations, but the Bain Capital-owned media conglomerate is now killing yet another progressive voice from our publicly-owned airwaves.
The BRAD BLOG can now confirm that KPOJ has flipped its programming format and website to Fox Sports as of 6:00pm PT tonight.
When one company owns "competing" talk radio stations in the same town, and gets to decide which one enjoys a stronger signal and which one receives promotional dollars (and which one doesn't), "competition" in the market place is a mirage. It's the equivalent of a Coca-Cola distributor owning the sole rights to distribute both Coke and Pepsi in the same town. Which one do you think is going to sell better there? That's precisely what talk radio is like in almost every major market in the country now. One company, usually Clear Channel, generally owns both the "Right" and "Left" talk stations. (In Portland, Clear Channel owns Rightwing talk outlet KEX as well as KPOJ.) Promoting one station would likely decrease listeners and ratings --- and, thus, ad dollars --- for the other. Thus, there is no "free market" competition in talk radio.
This is hardly the first time that Clear Channel has done the same thing, in very progressive cities, underscoring yet again that there is no real, "free market" competition in talk radio over our publicly-owned airwaves. The market place is decidedly rigged...
This is just shameful. Embarrassing for the entire nation. Again. How FL Governor Rick Scott and Ken Detzner, both Republicans, sleep at night I cannot imagine. That, even after both of their Republican predecessors, Governors Charlie Crist and Jeb Bush had the decency to extend early voting hours when lines began snaking around the block in previous years (and we've never had much good to say about Jeb Bush's administration of elections!)
Scott cut Early Voting from 14 days in 2008 to just 8 days this year in the Sunshine State because, apparently, there was just too damned much voting and democracy and stuff going on in 2008.
As Scott refuses to budge, despite the hours-long lines to vote --- as much as 6 hours in many places --- Democrats have been forced to go to court to sue for expanded Early Voting hours at the last minute, as Lizette Alvarez details at New York Times. A judge has already granted four additional hours in one county, after Early Voting had to be temporarily stopped there for a number of hours due to a suspicious object, which had to be detonated by the bomb squad, was left at one of the polling place. But, ultimately, the suits will most likely be too little, too late at this point.
Last night, in a special Saturday broadcast, MNSBC's Rachel Maddow detailed this weekend's Florida disgrace...
Be sure to notice the scenes --- documented in photo after photo, at Early Voting polling place after polling place in the video above --- of lines around the block with people trying to do nothing more than simply cast their vote in the Presidential Election in Florida. Imagine how many voters saw those lines and simply decided not to bother, or were too elderly or infirm to be able to stand there for six hours.
Well, at least it's not like Florida is a state with a history of close elections, or one that's expected to be close at all this year. Most importantly, remember: "We are the world's greatest democracy", right?
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: With Hurricane Sandy recovery underway, Bloomberg endorses Obama, Romney is heckled, and the impacts of climate change finally begin to dawn on corporate media and public officials; PLUS: Planning ahead for a climate changed future ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): CIA's Climate Change Security Report Delayed Due To Hurricane Sandy; Winter Storm May Hit In Early November, Possibly On Election Day; Energy company CEO: Why do we have to talk about climate change today?; Australia Rejects Calls From The Fossil Fuel Industry To Roll Back 20 Percent Renewable Energy Target; Exxon And Shell Earn $54 Billion So Far In 2012, After Taking $800 Million In Annual Tax Breaks; KFC UK will no longer source from Asia Pulp & Paper ... PLUS: The Onion: Nation Suddenly Realizes This Just Going To Be A Thing That Happens From Now On ... and much, MUCH more! ...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Climate scientist Michael Mann sues Rightwing media for libel; NRC hides flood danger at US nuclear plants; Deadly earthquake caused by drilling; PLUS: The "C" Word: climate change a no-show in Presidential Debates for first time since 1988 ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): How stupid does Cato Institute think Congress is? [Oh, right]; Anchovy Poop Fights Global Warming; Committee advises halt to GMO trials; Bumblebee colonies at risk from pesticides; Fox Falls For Tabloid "Science" [again!]; Chinese protest new coal plant; Climate linked to violent conflict in East Africa: study; Wind turbine syndrome” is catching; Koch group aims to kill wind energy ... PLUS: Frontline exposes the Climate Change Denial Industry tonight on PBS ... and much, MUCH more! ...
As we noted in yesterday's response to Think Progress, which includes our posting of the incredible emails from TP's Senior Editor Judd Legum, I guess we'll now have to count OH's former Democratic Sec. of State Jennifer Brunner as one of those "conspiracy theorists" as well! Last night, she told MSNBC (after my appearance on Hartmann's TV show): "You’d be right to call out Romney and his son for having a financial interest in this company. It doesn’t look good."
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I also made a short appearance on brand new "conspiracy theorist" and MSNBC host Ed Schultz' radio show this morning to speak to several concerns about the Romney/Hart Intercivic issue, after he spent much of the show discussing those concerns with Ohio officials and others. Here's that appearance [appx 5 mins]...
"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.
Todd was responding, no doubt, to the many folks who have been justifiably concerned of late, since it was discovered that a bunch of Bain Capital investors, led by Mitt Romney's son Tagg, via a company called H.I.G. Capital (believed to stand for Hart Intercivic Group) took over control of Hart Intercivic, the nation's third largest voting machine company, in 2011.
The Austin-based Hart company, according to VerifiedVoting.org's database, supplies electronic voting machines and paper ballot tabulators that will be used to tally votes in the Presidential Election this year in all or parts of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
I offered my point of view about those concerns earlier this month, explaining that it was not just the private ownership of Hart's machines by Romney backers which voters should be concerned about, but the private ownership of the similar systems in all fifty states that will once again be used to tabulate the results of this year's Presidential Election with little --- and very often zero --- possibility of oversight by the public or even by election officials.
Todd does an extraordinary disservice to the electorate with Tweets like the one above, and I'd be happy to come on his daily MSNBC show any time to explain why, as I have told him via Twitter in response to the above.
As Todd has not responded in kind, and to expand upon my response to Todd there, I'd like to ask him these few respectful questions...