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...
The McCain campaign's Alabama chairman, Attorney General Troy King, the virulent homophobe who is the subject of rumors that his wife discovered him having sex with another man, was a client of Strategum USA, the consulting firm of Ralph Gonzalez, a closeted gay GOP political operative who was killed last summer in a double murder-suicide in his home in Orlando.
Gonzalez was also the one-time campaign manager/consultant for Florida's hard-right, scandal-plagued 24th Congressional District U.S. Rep. Tom Feeney whose close ties to disgraced GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff and involvement in an alleged electronic vote-rigging conspiracy have been reported extensively for years by The BRAD BLOG.
Last Friday, the McCain campaign quickly scrubbed all references to King from its website without offering a public reason.
The August 27, 2007 Birmingham News report of the murder-suicide which took Gonzalez' life, discussed the consultant's work for King in Alabama...
Operatives for the John McCain campaign expressed their displeasure at a protester who carried a sign that equated McCain with George Bush by behaving just like operatives for George Bush and having her forcibly removed and threatened with arrest.
The White House propaganda office invited a few of George Bush's remaining supporters in the media --- second- or third-tier rightwing columnists like Jonah Goldberg and Kathleen Parker --- up to the Oval Office last week for an audience with his nibs.
During the mostly off the record meeting, Bush apparently doled out campaign-style spin that he purported to be the real stories behind issues in the news --- deep background info that would set his critics back on their heels and boost his pathetic poll numbers, if it weren't, you know, top secret. Classified. Hush-hush.
No, if the public wants to know what Bush has really been up to since Inauguration Day 2001, they'll just have to wait to read his book --- or at least that's what he told the group, according to Jonah Goldberg, who reported it in his Los Angeles Times column:
Charlie Black, John McCain's senior adviser, made news earlier this week when Fortune Magazine editor David Whitford reported that Black told him "with startling candor" when asked how a terrorist attack inside the United States would affect the campaign, "Certainly it would be a big advantage to [McCain]."
Keith Olbermann has been reporting on this story all week on his MSNBC news hour, in part to make that point that if a Democrat had made a similar gaffe, the Beltway punditocracy would have been in high dudgeon, demanding the adviser's head on a pike and lambasting the candidate for associating himself with such scum.
Longtime political junkies know that Charlie Black was among a handful of angry young rightwingers who remade the Republican Party after the debacle of Richard Nixon's resignation. Along with Roger Stone, Terry Dolan, Lee Atwater, Karl Rove and George Bush Jr., he is one of the inventors of today's GOP attack machine, a style of media-driven slash and burn politics that can be traced to the establishment by Black, Stone and Dolan in 1975 of a political action committee that raised millions from conservatives using deceptive direct-mail advertising and spent the money on TV ads that slimed Democrats.
Black, one of the most successful lobbyists and political strategists of the Reagan and Bush eras, has backed his share of losers over the years, too. But even when he has bet on the wrong horse, he has always landed on his feet --- which may explain why John McCain needs Charlie Black this year much more than Black needs McCain.
Guest blogged by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review.
John Yoo and David Addington, the architects of Bush's illegal torture policies, testified before the House Judiciary Committee today. The hearing included this frothy exchange between Yoo and the committee chairman, John Conyers (D-Mich.):
CONYERS: Could the President order a suspect buried alive?
YOO: Uh, Mr. Chairman, I don’t think I’ve ever given advice that the President could order someone buried alive…
CONYERS: I didn’t ask you if you ever gave him advice. I asked if you thought the President could order a suspect buried alive.
YOO: Well Chairman, my view right now is that I don’t think a President — no American President would ever have to order that or feel it necessary to order that.
CONYERS: I think we understand the games that are being played.
Yoo was serving in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel from 2001 to 2003, when he wrote the infamous memo and contributed to the PATRIOT ACT. He is now a professor of law at UC Berkeley.
John McCain's election strategists plan to tone down the Republicans' traditionally aggressive and public campaign against potential voter fraud, several Republicans familiar with the situation say.
The strategists and consultants all would speak only on the condition that their names and affiliations not be used because they were not permitted to divulge the information, they did not want to disclose internal deliberations, and because the issue is still being discussed within the party.
Sources with direct knowledge of the coordinated Republican effort this year say that high-ranking Republicans, including some within McCain's campaign, are convinced that GOP efforts in 2004 were damaging.
"Spreading 10,000 lawyers around the country and announcing a challenge to 40,000 new registrants in Ohio was counterproductive," a Republican familiar with the situation said.
And if you believe the GOP has any intention of scaling back any such thing in 2008, we've got a swell bridge, beautifully located near Manhattan, to sell ya.
But just to drive home the point that we're equal opportunity disbelievers, there's this old standby from the Obama camp, later in the article...
We're fairly certain the following video, shown at the recent TX GOP convention (where they were selling racist Obama buttons, incidentally), isn't meant as a joke. It just plays that way, for those of us who happen to live on Planet Earth...
Between this and some of McCain's ads, and the lack of actual issues for Republicans to run on this year, perhaps the plan this year is to out macho the Democrats. It's all they've got, perhaps. Even if it comes across kinda gay. But maybe that's just us...
Updating a story The BRAD BLOG reported on Monday, the Texas Republican Party has now moved to distance itself from a vendor who sold buttons at the party's state convention that bore a racist message about Barack Obama: "If Obama is president ... will we still call it The White House?"
According to The Conservative Voice, the Texas GOP says it will donate $1,500 in rent paid by the button's vendor, Republicanmarket.com, to victims of the flooding in the Midwest.
Said Texas GOP spokesman Hans Klingle, "This vendor need not apply to another Texas GOP state convention. We will neither tolerate nor profit from bigotry."
How "conservative" is the Texas GOP? The Conservative Voice notes that in "1998, the Log Cabin Republicans, the nation's largest organization of gay Republicans, was denied a booth at the GOP state convention in Fort Worth and likened to the Ku Klux Klan by a Texas Republican Party spokesman. 'We don't allow pedophiles, transvestites or cross-dressers, either,' then-GOP spokesman Robert Black said at the time."
The fact that the Texas GOP has shifted to the left on an issue like this backs up assertions by Arianna Huffington and others that liberal positions are increasingly becoming mainstream.
Who says Republicans don't have class? From the Dallas Morning News blog's report on the Texas GOP state convention...
While a number of speakers --- such as Railroad Commission chairman Michael Williams and Mike Huckabee --- have praised the advance of Barack Obama and what it means towards a colorblind society, at least one vendor hasn't gotten the message.
At the Republican state convention, a booth hosted by Republicanmarket was selling a pin Saturday that says: If Obama is President will we still call it the White House.
If you're interested in their items, their website is here. Their slogan: "Patriotic and Republican Products at Republican Market." I guess the above is an example of one of the Republican products. No clue if they've actually got any patriotic ones.
UPDATE: Our friend Mike Rogers points out that Republicanmarket doesn't bother to show that particular button on the buttons page at their slimy website for some reason. Go figure. Not sure why, since, as commenter Creid points out, they aren't embarrassed about running this sexist garbage. Again, very very classy stuff.
UPDATE 6/19/08: The Texas GOP distances themselves from Republicanmarket.com, bans vendor from future events. Details now here...
Texas' Republican Attorney General has found that there's little or no "voter fraud" of note down there either, despite a promise two years ago, according to the Dallas Morning News, to "root out what he called an epidemic of voter fraud in Texas," and his creation of a special unit which "tapped a $1.4 million federal crime-fighting grant" to expose the election stealing rascals.
For all of his crime-fighting in those two years, across the big Lonestar State, TX AG Greg Abbott has prosecuted just 26 cases, "all against Democrats, and almost all involving blacks or Hispanics," according to the Morning News, most of which resulted in "small fines and little or no jail time."
Additionally, almost all of them (18 of 26) involved mail-in absentee ballots where elderly voters were "illegally" given assistance in mailing their ballots, versus in-person voter impersonation of the type that cynical GOP attempts to mandate draconian polling place Photo ID restrictions are purportedly meant to deter. (In reality, they are meant to deter Democrats from being able to cast their legal ballots, so Republicans can more easily "win" elections.)
Just eight of the 26 prosecuted cases, the Morning News found, out of Abbott's two-year effort, involved any kind of ineligible or manufactured votes --- only 2 actually involved individuals casting fraudulent ballots at the polls, the rest were registration fraud issues --- and none of them revealed any larger conspiratorial scheme meant to effect the results of an election.
In the meantime, critics charge Abbott has been ignoring complaints about Republican election skulduggery, and we'd be remiss if we didn't point out that nobody has bothered to prosecute Republicanist Ann Coulter, for her several demonstrable voter fraud-related felony crimes in Florida despite, dead-to-rights evidence as published by The BRAD BLOG since early 2006.
We'd also like to point out, that in addition to there not being "an epidemic of voter fraud in Texas," there is similarly no such epidemic among space aliens either. Though Ted Rall suggests we may wish to implement some new measures there too...just in case...
[Updated post show with audio archives below, and moving this item up to the top so you're sure to catch the great news, lots of it, that came in late today, as covered live on the show!]
I'll be jumping in for my friend Peter B. Collins to host the last hour of his syndicated radio show tonight at 5pm PT (8pm ET), as he'll be broadcasting from Missoula, Montana, but will be unable to do the final hour of the show, when I'm usually his weekly guest.
So...as my guests this week, splitting the hour, we'll have...
Journalist STEVEN ROSENFELD from AlterNet, to discuss his excellent reporting of late from the front lines of the "Republican War on Voting" battlefield and the outlook for November 2008.
Conservative icon RICHARD VIGUERIE to discuss his blistering op-ed yesterday calling for the "immediate resignation" of the GOP leadership in light of what he describes as the "looming disaster" he sees his party facing this fall as "the conservative movement has been set back 10-20 years – possibly even permanently," by George W. Bush, Karl Rove and friends.
We'll also have an update on the latest news from the MO Senate, on its final legislative day, as Republicans there try to push through a disenfranchising Photo ID/Voter-Suppression Constitutional amendment before the November election!
I'll be BradCasting live from the studios of KTLK AM1150 in Los Angeles. Though they don't carry the PBC Show (but should!), I'm much obliged for their assist. If lucky, we'll be coming atcha out of Stephanie Miller's studio, and thus plan to leave behind the wonderful smell of democracy to greet her on Monday morning.
Listen live on air, or via the Internets, and call in with your questions at 888-5-PeterB (888-573-8372)! Or post your questions here in an Open Show Thread and I'll try to notice them while on air!
POST-SHOW UPDATE: Wow...Great news all around! We'll call it Voting Rights Victories Friday! Here's the audio archives from tonight's 3rd hour of the PBC Show!
First up, Mindy Mazur of AmericaVotes.org reports the attempt by the MO GOP Senate to pass a state Constitutional amendment to allow voter disenfranchisement through new, draconian Photo ID and citizenship requirements goes down in flames, as the final day of the MO Senate legislative session ends without a vote on it, due to the outcry against the measure! Great work, guys!
Then Steven Rosenfeld of Alternet.org joins us to break the news that GOP voter fraud zealot Hans von Spakovsky has finally withdrawn his nomination to the FEC, and as if that's not enough, Arizona finally agrees to allow for voter registration at welfare clinics as they are supposed to, under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993!
By way of late update, MO sources tell The BRAD BLOG that the Republicans' state Constitutional Amendment to require draconian proof of citizenship and photo ID in order to cast a legal vote --- which the MO SoS reports could disenfranchise as many as 240,000 legal Show-Me State voters --- is still likely to come up for a vote today in the MO Senate, as this is the last day of the legislative session before recess.
All eyes were on developments on the floor until the early hours last night, when the Senate was still in session as of 2:30am, even as Columbia Tribune reports there may be attempts to amend the language to make the Constitutional revision more "palatable" by allowing for the disenfranchisement to not take place until 2010, instead of this November.
The Senate session is scheduled to end today at 6pm CT, and we're monitoring the situation. We hope to have an update tonight when we'll be guest hosting the Peter B. Collins Show at 5pm PT (7pm CT ).
Advocates for democracy (small "d") are still urging Missouri residents to call their Senators to ask them to vote NO on HJR48, which could be all the GOP needs to keep the important swing-state in the R column this fall! Here's the details you'll need...
[UPDATE: Viguerie joined me as my guest on Friday, 5/16 at 5pm PT when I filled in as Guest Host on the syndicated Peter B. Collins Show during my normal weekly guest slot. You can now listen to that interview online here. - BF]
Another winner for The BRAD BLOG's rarely bestowed, but much sought after "Intellectually Honest Conservative Award."
Today's winner (in actuality, this year's winner, seeing as it's been a pretty dim year so far), conservative icon and author Richard Viguerie, who yesterday called at the "Ultimate John McCain" website for the entire Republican Leadership, from George W. Bush on down, to "resign immediately."
He charges "disaster is looming" following the Republican loss of the third previously "safe" U.S. House seat in a row on Tuesday, in Mississippi's special election where Bush reportedly defeated Kerry 62% to 37% in 2004. AP announced the Democratic candidate Travis Childers the winner of the MS-01 race, in the heart of the "solid South" by a remarkable 54% to 46% thumpin'.
In its wake, Viguerie names names, and declares the entirety of the GOP leadership has "failed --- or outright betrayed --- the conservative voters who put them in their positions...The hard work of the last 50 years by millions of conservative campaign workers, donors, candidates, writers, intellectuals, and activists has been trashed."
"The conservative movement has been set back 10-20 years – possibly even permanently," pens the man once referred to as the conservative "funding father" and creator of political direct mail fundraising. The "party Establishment...has brought the party down," he writes, adding "the party must clean house. The party leadership should resign immediately."
He goes on to say Republican leaders have "nothing" to offer Republican voters and are motivated by "nothing except a craving for power," before concluding with a direct command to the GOP Leadership: "You turned against the principles you once espoused – conservative principles – and, in turn, conservatives and the American people have turned against you. Things will not get better until you accept responsibility, and resign...You have stayed too long. For the future of the Republican Party, for America and the cause of freedom: Go!"
Ouch. Extended, must-read excerpts from his blistering --- and we mean blistering --- rebuke of those who have hijacked his party, follow below...
Now that they've made it as difficult as possible for those pesky 90-year-old nuns to cast votes, it's time to make sure that vets injured and disabled in Iraq and Afghanistan have as difficult a time voting as possible.
The Republican War on Voting, as directed by Commander-in-Chief George W. Bush out of the White House, continues to continue.
The new front: Disallowing registration drives, by non-partisan organizations at Veterans Administration facilities. That, despite an order issued in late April by the Department of Veterans Affairs that they would allow such activity, in compliance with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.
Apparently someone high up (we don't yet know who) found out about that, and ordered an about-face on the previous directive, leading the Veterans Health Administration's Under Secretary for Health, Michael J. Kussman, to announce this week that "Voter registration drives are not permitted" at their facilities, "due to Hatch Act requirements and to avoid disruptions to facility operations."
"The Department of Veterans Affairs has retreated on a recently announced policy to allow voter registration drives at its facilities where veterans' groups and others would assist wounded former soldiers to participate in the 2008 presidential election," writes Steven Rosenfeld over at AlterNet, where he points out that "the Hatch Act restricts political activities by federal employees."
Non-partisan voter registration drives by groups such as the League of Woman Voters, however, can hardly be considered "political activities by federal employees."
Senators such as Feinstein and Kerry, and disabled veterans groups, as you may imagine, are none too happy...
Couldn't find many more on this topic this week. Guess ensuring that legal voters can actually cast their ballot this November isn't all that important. On the other hand, there are dozens of toons this week about that guy who said some stuff and who also happens to know someone that's running for President (to paraphrase Jon Stewart on the Rev. Wright nonsense).