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Latest Featured Reports | Tuesday, July 22, 2014
'I Never Realized Voter ID Fraud Had Not Been Proven'
A Rightwing caller's admission in response to Brad on a radio show in NC underscores unparalleled propaganda power of Fox 'News'...
John Oliver On America's Prison Problems...With Singing Muppets!
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Another Zombie Myth that just won't die gets knocked down again...for now...even as its persistence continues to fuel false Republican claims of 'voter fraud' even today...
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Nick Clegg calls attacks on Gaza 'collective punishment' that 'incubates next generation of extremists' and 'needs to come to an end'...
'Green News Report' 7/17/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
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Previous GNRs: 7/15/14 - 7/10/14 - Archives...
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GOP Voter Fraud Queen Ann Coulter Urges MS Senate Candidate McDaniel to NOT Pursue Fraud Concerns
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GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


By Brad Friedman on 12/23/2013 6:05am PT  

[This article now cross-published by The Progressive...]

Well, that was easy. On Sunday, December 22, the day before the deadline for January 2014 insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA or "Obamacare"), I signed up without problem.

I used the California exchange website, it took me less than an hour, I'll be able to keep the same provider I had previously (and therefore, the same doctors), and I'll be saving almost exactly $300/month or $3,600/year.

Sounds good to me. I had no "glitches" along the way, at least to date, and the process was quite clear and simple.

Since I'm in fairly good health, and haven't used much of the plan that I've had for years, I opted for a marginally higher deductible in this new plan than I had previously, and the copays for most things will cost me about $15 more a piece. However, I could have had an almost identical plan, from the same provider (and many others) with the same deductible that I currently have, and still would have saved about $150/month. For that matter, every plan offered to me that I was able to compare side-by-side on the exchange site (there were many to chose from), would have been less expensive for me than my current individual plan which I've had for about 15 years.

My apologies for a rather boring Obamacare story. No drama. No outrage. It just seems to have worked as planned --- and will save me a lot of money. (Even if I have to cover my entire deductible next year, I'll still be saving money over what I had been paying to the same healthcare provider.)

While I still find no reason for private insurance companies to profit off of our illnesses --- and hope for a far more moral system of healthcare in this country in the near future (as we've discussed in countless articles at The BRAD BLOG over the years) --- Obamacare, in this case, seems to have worked just as it seems it was designed to.

So, for those who helped make at least that much happen, thank you. I'm better off than I was before Obamacare. So that, at least, is a bit of progress in the right direction.

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By Ernest A. Canning on 12/9/2013 5:24pm PT  

[This article now cross-published by The Progress...]

The government's Supreme Court petition [PDF] in the upcoming cases concerning a supposed 'religious right' of for-profit corporations to ignore the contraceptive coverage mandate of the Afford Care Act (ACA) is a worthwhile read, simply because it slices through the fog of the GOP's relentless, anti-Obamacare propaganda war. That war includes a purported religious assault on the scientific, economic, egalitarian and humanitarian basis for contraceptive coverage.

Of course, the brief also contains compelling legal reasons why for-profit, corporate employers have no business dictating to their female employees whether or not they should opt for FDA-approved contraception in order to meet their own personal health care needs.

As we recently reported, where mainstream media articles that focus on every glitch in the federal Healthcare.gov website (and on provider cancellation of deficient policies), very few article mentioned that, since the passage of the ACA, health care price inflation has slowed to its lowest rate in the past 50 years. Fewer still have mentioned that the GOP's repeatedly proposed repeal of the ACA would return us to a "free market" status quo that not only left 47 million Americans without any health care coverage, but was so corrupt and dysfunctional that nearly 45,000 of our citizens died each year simply because they were too poor to afford coverage. The 45,000 is in addition to the number of Americans who died under that status quo because carriers used the excuse of "preexisting conditions" to deny coverage for vital procedures. Pre-ACA, medical bills contributed to half of the personal bankruptcies in the U.S.

In listing reasons why the contraceptive coverage provisions are based upon a "compelling" governmental interest, the government's SCOTUS petition both debunks GOP myths about the government's pre-ACA role in mandating minimum conditions in government-subsidized group health care plans and in explaining why the ACA already appears to have helped in blunting rising health care costs...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Former Dem opponent says State Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R) was also tied to previous deceptive mailings...
By Ernest A. Canning on 12/6/2013 4:29pm PT  

The Ventura County Star reports that my CA Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R-Thousand Oaks), and three other members of the California Republican Assembly Caucus abused their public mailing privileges by sending nearly 260,000 deceptive mailers to their constituents.

According to a former opponent of his that I spoke with, it wouldn't be the first time Gorell has been linked to deceptive mailers.

Instead of directing constituents who desire to take advantage of the state's Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange, the mailer "labeled as 'A California Resource Guide' to explain federal health care reform", points constituents to a fake website created by state Republicans. Rather than the official CoveredCA.com website, the new mailers direct the recipient to CoveringHealthCareCA.com, a bogus Republican site which, though attempting to appear to be the official CA health care exchange site, doesn't actually provide the ability to shop for or purchase policies.

"Though it launched in August," ABC News reports, "the site made waves this week after a number of GOP Assembly members sent out mailers to their constituents, highlighting the page as a 'resource guide' for information on the Affordable Care Act."

The deceptive, publicly funded mailers sent by the self-described "fiscal conservatives" cost CA taxpayers $77,496, according to the Star's public records request. The money, they report, came from the state Assembly's "taxpayer-funded operating budget."

Since the fraud was exposed, the LA Times reports, the GOP site has added some links to the official CA health care site. The original site, according to Karoli at Crooks and Liars who helped expose the scam, included "links to negative articles and twisted messages intended to sour people on signing up for health insurance before they ever land at the official health exchange site."

The effort comes on the heels of a what ABC describes as an "onslaught of fake insurance sites popping up in the state --- 10 of which were shut down by Calif. Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris in November --- since the implementation of Obamacare."

This is not the first occasion in which Gorell, an outspoken opponent of the Affordable Care Act, has been tied to deceptive constituent mailers. Last year, the chairman of a local Democratic Club asked me to speak on the subject of GOP voter suppression laws and e-voting issues. While there, I was approached by Democrat Eileen MacEnery, Gorell's unsuccessful 2012 Assembly opponent. She was still miffed by what she described as a deceptive Gorell mailer. In it, she told me, Gorell included his name and photo, alongside those of Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein and Rep. Julia Brownley. MacEnery claimed the mailer falsely implied that the Democratic Party supported all three, even though Gorell is a dedicated member of the GOP.

Gorell was the only local Republican who retained a seat in my area after state redistricting converted what had been a Republican-majority district into one where registered Democrats hold a slim majority. Last month, Gorell announced that he will challenge Brownley for her seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Hopefully local voters will keep his deceptive record in mind when any of Gorell's mailings show up in their mailbox.

* * *
Ernest A. Canning has been an active member of the California state bar since 1977. Mr. Canning has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science as well as a juris doctor. He is also a Vietnam vet (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968). Follow him on Twitter: @Cann4ing.

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Will religious rights now also be extended to fictional 'persons'?
By Ernest A. Canning on 12/3/2013 8:26pm PT  

The Affordable Care Act (ACA, or "Obamacare") mandates that preventive care under group health insurance plans include a "full range" of FDA-approved "contraceptive methods". That requirement has resulted in two cases now pending before the U.S. Supreme Court which may result in "religious rights" being extended to so-called "corporate persons".

The cases are brought by two different for-profit corporations, each arguing that the mandate violates the corporate employer's rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Neither of the cases involve non-profit religious institutions, which are exempt from the ACA's contraceptive mandate.

The RFRA, which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993, requires that an otherwise neutral government action "not substantially burden a person's exercise of religion" absent a compelling governmental interest.

The government, in its Supreme Court petition [PDF], argues that the "contraceptive coverage" mandate does not "substantially burden" an employer's free exercise of religion. (More on that particularly point in a subsequent article on this.) But while additionally urging that the contraceptive coverage mandate is based upon a compelling government interest, the government sets forth a number of significant ACA benefits that have been obscured by the fog of the unrelenting right wing, anti-Obamacare propaganda war. The critical threshold issue that must be met in these cases, before any of those additional issues need be reached, entails the validity and/or scope of the controversial concept of "corporate personhood".

Will the religious rights of actual persons now be extended to fictional corporate "persons"? That is one of the key issues that will now be decided by the same U.S. Supreme Court which handed down the now infamous Citizens United case...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Guest: Gary Ruskin of the Center for Corporate Policy
By Brad Friedman on 11/27/2013 8:49pm PT  

Hope you'll grab this one for some Thanksgiving weekend listening!

My guest on this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio was the Center for Corporate Policy's Gary Ruskin, author of the new report, "Spooky Business: Corporate Espionage of Nonprofit Organizations" [PDF]. The report is "spooky" for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that I am named in the report, as one of the targets of an extraordinary $12 million espionage plot by the loathsome, rightwing U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

[The scheme involved the U.S. Chamber, their powerful and sleazy law firm Hunton & Williams, LLP and three grifter U.S. defense/intel contractors, HBGary Federal, Palantir Technologies and Berico Technologies. It was meant to use tools developed for the "war on terror" against me, my family and a number of progressive organizations. None of the parties involved have been held accountable to this day. Read more about it here...]

Ruskin's report is chilling and the interview is disturbing. But the second half of the show is (largely) much less troubling! We update a lot of the stories we've been covering of late on The BradCast, most of them with good news updates!

So, curl on up to the holiday radio hearth and give it a listen...and all of my best to you and yours for Thanksgiving! (Or, as we call it around here since Chanukah falls on the same day this year: Thanksalatke!)

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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Admin cites 'smallest cost growth over 3-yr period in U.S. history'...
By Brad Friedman on 11/24/2013 5:08pm PT  

Let's keep this a secret from the U.S. corporate media, but, as Sy Mukherjee and Andrew Breiner note at ThinkProgress...

On Wednesday, the new head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers released a bombshell report finding that U.S. health care spending since 2010 has increased by just 1.3 percent - the smallest cost growth over a three-year period in American history - while prices in the health care sector rose by 50-year lows, thanks in part to structural changes made by the Affordable Care Act. But most media outlets ignored that story, instead choosing to focus on ongoing glitches with the Healthcare.gov website.

According to a ThinkProgress analysis, English-language online and print media published about ten times as many pieces on the troubles with the Obamacare site than they did on the new health care spending report.

They go on to explain that analyst opinion remains mixed, at the moment, as to the extent of the Affordable Care Act's influence on the "remarkable slowdown in health spending" since the bill's passage in 2010, but that "savings from the ACA's hospital payment reforms" and "more efficient and collaborative care models" as "encouraged by Obamacare" are among the factors...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Guests: Media Matters' Eric Boehlert; Act Blue's Howie Klein...
By Brad Friedman on 11/6/2013 9:55pm PT  

This week on the KPFK/Pacifica Radio BradCast, I was joined by Eric Boehlert of MediaMatters.org to discuss: a) The serious questions about CBS' 60 Minutes "train wreck" on Benghazi and the media's dreadful double-standard in comparison to the reaction to the Dan Rather/George W. Bush Air National Guard story from 2004 b) Media failure in reporting on "Obamacare" c) The double-standard at Fox "News" in covering the alleged "pissed-off patriot" who shot up LAX Airport last week and d) Rand Paul's plagiarism disaster.

Then, I was joined by the great Howie Klein of DownWithTyranny.com and the Blue America PAC to discuss the various progressive victories from Tuesday's elections (and a few of the failures), as well as concerns about the still incredibly close, 100% unverifiable Attorney General race in Virginia and its likely "recount".

Plus, Desi Doyen joined us as usual for the latest Green News Report. Enjoy the show!

Download MP3 or listen online below [appx. 58 mins]...

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By Brad Friedman on 10/23/2013 12:49pm PT  

Yes. Seriously.

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' conspiracy theory website InfoWars decries "tin-foil hat"-wearing "nut-jobs" for citing a "nefarious conspiracy" and "baseless theories" for which "there is no actual evidence."

I quit.

[Hat-tip @DaveWeigel...]

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By Brad Friedman on 10/15/2013 4:10pm PT  

As everything falls apart on The Hill tonight, again, Sen. Ted Cruz' speech writer and senior communications adviser Amanda Carpenter just had the temerity to tweet this...

She must be joking, right? Apparently, she isn't. Just completely and entirely tone deaf. Or just plain stupid. Congressional staffers are being forced to buy their health care on the Affordable Care Act exchanges because Republicans in the Senate added that requirement in an amendment during the fight over the ACA's passage in 2010, hoping that it would be a poison pill to kill the bill. The Democrats called their bluff and said, 'Okay, fine.' And now Carpenter is whining about the uncertainty it appears to be causing her.

That, while she and her boss are bringing down the U.S. government and potentially the global economy, in an attempt to keep some 50 million Americans from getting health care at all. Amazing.

* * *

UPDATE: With Fitch issuing a warning tonight that they may soon be forced to downgrade the U.S. government's AAA credit rating, thanks to the GOP's Cruz-inspired threats to default on the debt limit, maybe Carpenter will soon have the chutzpah to whine about the drop in value of her 401k plan.

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By Brad Friedman on 10/2/2013 9:33pm PT  

Have we hit rock bottom yet? Sadly, I don't think so. Not yet.

The Republicans still have much more to burn down, it seems. Starting with themselves. But they're well on the way. And they have only themselves to blame.

The good news...Perhaps the only good news: It all made for a very lively BradCast today on L.A.'s KPFK/Pacifica Radio, as we stomped out the myths that Chuck Todd refuses to, and heard from tons of callers in the bargain.

Oh, and there was much more, but you'll have to listen to find out about it. Enjoy! I know I did!

Download MP3 or listen online below...

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By Brad Friedman on 9/30/2013 9:36pm PT  

Looking for something to do while the government is shut down? Sign up for "ObamaCare"!

At the same moment Republican extremists closed down the U.S. Government tonight at midnight Eastern Time, for the first time in 17 years, HealthCare.gov finally opened for business!...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 9/30/2013 2:11pm PT  

As the latest round(s) of GOP hostage taking play out in Congress, it's worth stepping back a moment to take note of what is at the heart of their ploy-slash-temper tantrum-slash-effort to undermine the very essence of American democracy.

It's also worth taking note of the fact that it's unlikely, ultimately, to work and, if we can take any lessons from what has happened here in California, is very likely to redound, big time, against the Republicans and their "contempt for the democratic process," as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) described it Friday, now on display in the nation's capitol.

"This whole debate over Obamacare is just a small part of what this right wing agenda is all about," Sanders observed during an appearance on MSNBC, as he described the twin threats of a government shutdown and defaulting on our financial obligations in the debt ceiling fight a few weeks from now, as but a part of "a right wing extremist agenda funded by people like the Koch brothers…who put hundreds of millions of dollars into the 'Tea Party.'"

Sanders' observation is vital to a comprehensive understanding as to why the very survival of our representative form of democracy may hinge upon a refusal to cave into a tactic that the Senator describes as "blackmail". Indeed, the New York Times describes the latest GOP tactics as the equivalent of a "ransom note" filled with "extortionist demands". President Obama, who once made the mistake of negotiating with Republicans on such terms, now aptly described the GOP threats, in a speech to The Business Roundtable, as a form of extortion.

Sanders noted that it's as if the Republicans now say: "Elections don't matter! We can shut down the government at any time to get our way!"

And, he's right. That's the plan. But it's not likely to get them what they want. More encouragingly, it's very likely to backfire on them completely...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Ernest A. Canning on 9/24/2013 11:34am PT  

Yesterday, as the GOP's latest Kabuki theater threat to shut down the government unless "ObamaCare" is defunded continued apace, investigative journalist Kurt Eichnwald tweeted: "How did the GOP persuade so many otherwise rational ppl that a system of private industry competition is government run healthcare?"

He then attempted to answer his own question in a second tweet: "How? How did the GOP do it? With endless streams of lies, dragged out 2 the gullible, from ppl fearful others will learn govnt can help ppl."

True. But the problem is both much worse and far more remarkable than that.

"You have probably heard that the reason people enjoy 'free healthcare' in Australia, in the U.K. and elsewhere is that they pay higher taxes," New York Times' best selling author and video blogger John Green proclaimed, as he openly acknowledged his effort to capture attention with "mind-blowing" facts.

"But, in fact, in the United States we spend more tax money, per capita, on healthcare than Germany, Australia, the United Kingdom or Canada," he explained. "That's right, you pay more in taxes for healthcare than you would if you were British. And in exchange for those taxes, you get...no healthcare."

(Green's "mind-blowing" facts tactic appears to have worked. The video, embedded in full below, has been viewed nearly 3.5 million times since it was published on YouTube last month.)

Green underscored his rant about the outrageous per capita price for health care in the U.S. with an on-screen chart detailing how both public and private per capita healthcare expenditures in the U.S., in 2007, far exceeded such expenditures in those other countries...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Nullification of $21m judgment shields generic pharmaceutical manufacturers from liability for unreasonably dangerous drugs...
By Ernest A. Canning on 7/15/2013 7:35am PT  

Amidst the understandable sound and fury of the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decisions on marriage equality and their activist zeal to gut the Voting Rights Act in their determination to legislate from the bench that which is specifically mandated by the Constitution to be legislated by Congress, a number of their other end-of-term decisions managed to fly largely beneath the radar.

One of those decisions came late last month when the five right-wing members of the Court ruled that citizens who are severely injured, maimed or even killed by FDA-approved --- but unreasonably dangerous --- generic prescription drugs, have no right to seek compensation from the giant pharmaceutical companies which manufacture and market them to unsuspecting consumers.

In its 5-4 decision in Mutual Pharmaceutical Co., Inc. vs. Bartlett [PDF] ("Bartlett"), the Court annulled a $21 million judgment that had been awarded to New Hampshire resident Karen L. Bartlett. Her use of the generic drug, Sulindac, in 2004, produced catastrophic injuries when she suffered an acute toxic necrolysis (aka Stevens-Johnson Syndrome).

In his majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito described her injuries as "tragic" and acknowledged that over 65% of Bartlett's body "was burned off, or turned into an open wound. She spent months in a medically induced coma, underwent 12 eye surgeries, and was tube fed for a year. She is now severely disfigured…and is nearly blind."

For Alito, and the rest of the Court's right-wing majority, the severity of Bartlett's injury proved inconsequential when measured against Big Pharma's bottom line and their interest in selling generic drugs, which account for 75% of the prescription drugs sold in the U.S.

As a result, as it applies to generics, for the first time in our nation's history, FDA permission to market has been treated as a final stamp of approval as to the generic drug's safety, irrespective of the scope of subsequently obtained scientific evidence that reveals otherwise.

Anyone who is now injured, maimed or killed by what turn out to be generic, poison pills are S.O.L....

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Ernest A. Canning on 5/21/2013 7:04am PT  

In a white paper issued in March, the California Federation of Labor (CFL) called for reforms to "undo the damage" wrought by SB 899, a California GOP-sponsored workers' compensation "reform" bill that was touted by AP in April 2004 as “one of the biggest victories of [then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's] new political career".

The celluloid action hero insisted the "reform" was necessary to curtail the spiraling costs of workers' compensation insurance for California employers.

As the CFL white paper correctly notes, the rationale behind Schwarzenegger's workers' compensation "reform" legislation was largely a scam. Like so many other investment schemes, the source of spiraling workers' compensation costs can be found in the 1993 deregulation of the insurance industry and a subsequent burst of a workers' compensation insurance investment bubble. Yet, Schwarzenegger refused to include limits on the rates insurance companies could charge employers as part of his "reform" package.

Despite an initial drop in the cost of workers' compensation insurance in California, costs have again climbed --- so much so that, according to a May 15 article that appeared in the Ventura County Star, "the Port of Hueneme is preparing to pay 120 percent more for workers' compensation insurance" in the coming year.

Contrary to the philandering actor-turned-Governor's claims that the savings would not be extracted from the backs of injured workers, SB 899 contained drastic reductions in benefits --- so drastic that, in a 2004 letter published by Los Angeles Times, after pointing out that I had represented litigants in workers' compensation proceedings since 1979 and was regarded by my peers as an exceptionally effective litigator, I warned California employees that if they were injured on the job, God help them because I was not sure I could.

Whatever efforts are now made to "undo the damage" wrought by SB 899, they will come too late for my client, Charles Romano. Thanks to the law's massive reduction in prohibitive penalties that could have been assessed for bad faith refusals to furnish vital, life-sustaining medical treatment --- the new penalties are a drop-in-the-bucket compared to what it had cost to keep him alive --- Charles is no longer with us...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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