After an amazingly encouraging week or two, we head into the July 4th weekend with a whole bunch of stuff we've been trying to clear off our desk. Plus: Lots of breaking news and an encouraging ending for the weekend...
How phony are the phony town hall mobs? Rachel Maddow explains it all for you. If only the rest of the corporate MSM did the same. Her investigation of the so-called public interest groups running this thing concludes: "This is professional, corporate-funded, Republican-staffed PR, and it should be reported as such"...
And tonight, these corporate/Republican/Republicanist-media sponsored and enflamed mobs are, as expected, beginning to turn violent. RAW STORY has details on a Glenn Beck-inspired "near riot" tonight at a forum in Tampa.
Anyone surprised? I'm afraid this is gonna get much worse before it gets better...
David Kurtz at TPM suggests: "How about a program where we can turn in the old, washed-up pundits and talking heads on the cable nets for ones that spew less dangerous emissions?"
And, in not entirely unrelated news, Glenn Greenwald offers the proper perspective on today's report that the corporate ownership of both Fox "News" and MSNBC have interceded into their news divisions' ongoing Olbermann v. O'Reilly Wars because, while it's been good for ratings for both of them, it's bad for the corporations.
To build on Kurtz' notion, how about if we turn in the old, washed-up, corporatized news outlets who live large on our public airwaves and government largesse as well?
And on a "lighter" note, Colbert takes a look at the report that AG Eric Holder is "on the verge of" appointing a prosecutor to look into Bush/Cheney torture, and the media's dismal coverage (hello NBC's Chuck Todd!), contending that carrying out the Rule of Law against politicians --- apparently only Republican ones --- should be avoided, because politicians would debate about it on television...
Earlier this week I wrote about the ABC "News" chuckleheads, and their laff riot over the floated idea of a torture probe, "on the verge of" being announced by AG Eric Holder. They laughed and pooh-poohed the high-larious suggestion on last Sunday's Stephanopoulous.
And now MSNBC offers another egregious example of corporate media failure --- in this case, again, "inside the beltway" corporate media failure --- in their "coverage" of such a possible investigation/prosecution. Glenn Greenwald is, as usual, a must read here beginning this way on Wednesday...
NBC's Chuck Todd --- who, remember, is billed as a reporter covering the White House, not a pundit expressing opinions --- was on MSNBC's Morning Joe on Tuesday discussing reports that Eric Holder is likely to appoint a prosecutor to investigate Bush torture crimes. Needless to say, everyone agreed without question that investigations were a ridiculous distraction from what really matters and would be terribly unfair.
As I say, Greenwald's analysis of how far off the rails such insider "journalism" has now gone; how far from what the nation's Founders intended; how completely and utterly out of touch these guys actually seem to be from the public, is a must-read. So please do.
Will Palin now have to threaten a lawsuit against Fox "News" too?! Oh, the tangled webs...
By way of reminder, Palin's private attorney, Thomas Van Flein, had issued a legal threat on the 4th of July to those in the media (seemingly only the perceived left-leaning media) who discussed questions about the Palin's contracting of their house in Wasilla, and the Wasilla Sports Complex, both built while the state's soon-to-be-former Governor was mayor of the small Alaskan town.
"This is to provide notice to [Alaska blogger and radio host Shannyn] Moore, and those who re-publish the defamation, such as Huffington Post, MSNBC, the New York Times and The Washington Post, that the Palins will not allow them to propagate defamatory material without answering to this in a court of law," Van Flein wrote for Palin over the weekend.
When asked why the other outlets, which hadn't reported on the matter, had been targetted as well in the statement,"Van Flein said he believed they were asking questions," according to the Anchorage Daily News. "What I've been informed is that they've been interviewing people in Wasilla about this, and have tried to interview the governor's parents about it," Palin's attorney told the paper.
For her part, Moore quickly shot back in her own defense, against the Van Flein/Palin legal threats, assailing the outgoing Governor as "a coward and a bully."
Alaska blogger and radio host Shannyn Moore isn't taking the attempted strong-arming by soon-to-be-former Governor Sarah Palin lightly. Moore shot back quickly on her radio show and in the mainstream media on Saturday, in response to Palin's Fourth of July Declaration of Litigation.
Palin's legal threat, issued for her by her private attorney, Thomas Van Flein, earlier in the day, was itself in response to Moore, and other Alaska constituents, who publicly detailed long-whispered local rumors of a federal investigation and/or impending indictments against the former Republican Veep nominee.
The BRAD BLOG broke details of those allegations, citing Moore as one of our sources, on Friday, following Palin's manic press conference in which she announced plans to cut and run from her elected position of public service, a year and a half early --- seemingly to become a community organizer.
Alaska bloggers quickly circled their wagons in defense of Moore, who spoke out herself over the weekend, describing Palin as a "coward and a bully" whose defamation lawsuit she would welcome, at a press conference in front of the Governor's Anchorage office...
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin marked the Independence Day holiday by firing back at "false and defamatory allegations" made over the past twenty-four hours; noting limits on the "right of free speech"; declaring herself a victim; and issuing threats of potential litigation against a number of journalists and media outlets.
Through her private attorney, Thomas Van Flein, Palin issued a statement on Saturday in response to stories concerning suggestions of a federal investigation into the contracting and building of her house on Lake Lucille in Wasilla and the Wasilla Sports Complex, both constructed during her tenure as Mayor of the small town.
The four page response [posted in full at the end of this article] rebuts allegations as discussed on this blog and other news sites on Friday following the former Republican Vice Presidential nominee's surprise announcement that she would be resigning from office with a year and a half still remaining in her first term as Governor.
The defiant statement includes a warning "to provide notice" to journalists and media outlets that she "will be exploring legal options this week to address such defamation."
The statement opens by charging that following her stunning, and often beguiling, hastily called press conference at the beginning of the holiday weekend, "several unscrupulous people have asserted false and defamatory allegations that the 'real' reasons for Governor Palin's resignation stem from an alleged criminal investigation pertaining to the construction of the Wasilla Sports Complex."
Also, late tonight, the Los Angeles Times has filed a short article featuring a response from an FBI spokesperson in Alaska who denies that the agency is investigating the Palins on those matters...
[Updated at end of article with videos of responses to O'Reilly response from MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann.]
After years of demonizing Kansas physician Dr. George Tiller, who was assassinated in his Wichita church on Sunday, Fox "News" host Bill O'Reilly toned back his inflammatory rhetoric on his first show back since yesterday's murder. (See video at end of article.)
Where he had previously, and repeatedly, described Tiller as "Tiller the Baby Killer," equated him with Nazis and al-Qaeda, described him repeatedly as "executing babies" and "operating a death mill," tonight O'Reilly characterized himself as the victim of a "left-wing" cabal of "Fox News haters" trying to "exploit" the tragedy to "shut guys like me down." Notably, however, he did not use the same strident rhetoric that had characterized his "reportage" of Tiller in the past...
Last night, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow did a bang-up job in detailing/summarizing "our story so far," as we know it, in regard to the use of torture by the Bush/Cheney Regime. Her report goes on to include interviews with Bush's Iraq WMD inspector, Charles Duelfer, and journalist Robert Windrem, who yesterday detailed the push by "the office of Vice President Cheney" to use torture on Saddam Hussein's security goon, who had been talking and cooperating just fine after being captured in the fall of Baghdad. But he had not been saying the things the OVP wanted him to, so waterboarding was recommended.
We've now officially moved from the imaginary bad Hollywood movie realm of the use of illegal torture to stop 'ticking time-bomb' attacks against Americans, to its use in a desperate attempt to stop 'ticking political-bombs' --- such as no Iraqi WMD and no connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda --- against the Bush/Cheney Regime itself.
This video should bring you largely up to date with the latest known-knowns in the torture time line, and the cynical, realpolitik motives thereof...
(And remember, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, the CIA detainee who is reported to have just "committed suicide" in a Libyan prison is known to have been tortured into "confessing" a connection between Iraq and al-Qaeda, the precise thing that the OVP reportedly sought from Hussein's captured goon. Al-Libi's forced "confession" was subsequently used over and over again by Bush/Cheney/Powell in the march to war, and thereafter found to have been completely made up by al-Libi to help put an end to his torture. When al-Libi recently turned up dead, he was in the process of being reportedly sought by prosecutors in regard to torture allegations against the Bush/Cheney Regime. Dots connecting yet?)
Zelikow not only dissented from the party line, admirably, but he also learned at one point that while the administration disagreed with his opinion, they were taking it a step further by actually going out of their way to destroy all copies of his memo. As he explained at FP yesterday:
At the time, in 2005, I circulated an opposing view of the legal reasoning. My bureaucratic position, as counselor to the secretary of state, didn't entitle me to offer a legal opinion. But I felt obliged to put an alternative view in front of my colleagues at other agencies, warning them that other lawyers (and judges) might find the OLC views unsustainable. My colleagues were entitled to ignore my views. They did more than that: The White House attempted to collect and destroy all copies of my memo. I expect that one or two are still at least in the State Department's archives.
While it's admirable, I suppose, that he's finally speaking up to reveal that at least someone in the Bush Administration dissented from their tortured legal justifications for war crimes, the question must be raised as to why Zelikow didn't simply resign when it became clear that the administration was going far beyond simply disagreeing with him. They were stepping over what would seem to clearly be the line of legality, by actually destroying (or attempting to), all copies of his opinion.
Surely that was a red flag that something was gravely amiss there, no?
Zelikow was on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show last night (complete video and transcript below), and she asked directly if he'd considered resigning at that point. But I find his answer rather unsatisfying, in my opinion...
By way of begrudging public service to those in the community at large who may not understand why so many --- such as Rachel Maddow as seen in the video at right --- are having such a difficult time not bursting into laughter whenever discussing the nutty rightwing "tea baggers," we offer this link to the Urban Dictionary in hopes of allowing you too in on the joke.
Between the whackazoid self-proclaimed tea baggers and the anti-marriage, anti-homosexual hate group National Organization for Marriage's new, unfortunately acronymed "Two Million for Marriage" (2M4M) campaign, seriously, you folks may wanna do just two or three minutes of Googling before you come up with your next new, snazzy, self-identifying catch-phrase.
Or, at the very least, consult former Congressman Dick Armey for some advice first.
Vermont becomes the fourth state (following MA, CT and IA) to currently recognize marriage equality, after they'd formerly adopted "first-in-the-nation civil unions law" nine years ago. We're delighted to see two-thirds of each Statehouse chamber override the Governor's veto of a law which will correct the injustice of segregation via "civil unions".
According to Media Matters, 'liberal', 'Obama-loving' MSNBC has now shown the following misleading graphic at least twice to support stories suggesting that Barack Obama is somehow responsible for the alarming drop in the Dow-Jones industrial average...
And here is the graphic they are not showing, making it quite clear that the plummet has little to do with Obama's Presidency...
The "Liberal Media" strikes again!
(For the record, Media Matters also notes that it's not just "liberal" MSNBC, of course. The wingnut propagandists at Bloomberg and WSJ, along with Fox "News'" Chris Wallace, are also banging the same misinformative drum. So, naturally, MSNBC finds it necessary to not miss a beat.)
Brad - I'm watching elderly voters, with canes, who can barely stand, waiting for up up 7 hours to early vote in Florida. It's breaking my heart. PLEASE WRITE ABOUT IT AND DEMAND AARP TO MONITOR THIS. I really hope people are not getting hurt in their attempt to exercise their voting rights. This is either voter disenfranchisement or elder abuse - neither is acceptable.
And we continue to hear from other sources that the bottleneck in Florida is at check-in with the state's new, computerized voter registration system, not with the new paper ballot op-scan system which is used after a voter votes. (Though there have been reported problems with the state's new Diebold print-on-demand system for printing ballots for voters to fill out as well.)
Rachel Maddow correctly noted (see video below) that these waits in FL, GA, and elsewhere, amount to a "poll tax." She's right.
As I noted last week, we have just one early voting location in all of Los Angeles --- the largest voting jurisdiction in the country, larger than 41 states combined --- and at this point, I have no idea if I'll be able to vote myself if the lines are too long tomorrow, since I have to go on air LIVE, hell or highwater at 3pm PT to anchor the NovaM Radio Network's "Special Election Night Coverage."
Here's what the lines looked like this weekend at L.A.'s only early voting location, a 40-minute drive from where I live (photo: Margery Epstein)...
And here's Rachel making her case, and pointing to 10 hour lines in Atlanta and elsewhere...
Considering many of the staggering results of Thursday's New York Times/CBS News poll, overall media coverage and examination of the findings have been less than thorough. With the seeming sea change that has occurred, when comparing public opinion before both conventions to public opinion now (the period measured in the poll), you might think it would garner at least as much attention as, say, lipstick-on-a-pig palooza.
Taken as a whole, findings of this poll --- some noted in Thursday's national media discourse, some not --- paint the bleakest picture yet for the McCain/Palin ticket.