Does anything that George W. Bush and John McCain say matter? Based on this colloquy between Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow on "Countdown" last night, apparently not:
OLBERMANN: ...The Iraqi government is saying, “Get out,” and President Bush swore, you know, “Some day if they say ‘get out,‘ we‘ll get out.”
MADDOW: That‘s right. May 2007 in the Rose Garden, Bush said—and I went back and checked the quote directly so I could be sure to directly quote him — “If they were to say leave, we would leave.” Also, for what it‘s worth, in April of 2004, John McCain at the Council on Foreign Relations said, “It is obvious we would have to leave if they asked to us leave.”
I mean, they told us that the point of invading Iraq was to topple Saddam Hussein. Saddam Hussein was toppled; they told us that the point of staying there after, was to set up a sovereign Iraqi government. Well now, the sovereign Iraqi government is standing up on its hind legs enough to tell us to leave, and we‘re left with this situation where they need another explanation of why we can‘t leave. That‘s the real headline here.
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.
During a segment on his radio show this morning, Bill O'Reilly reported from the alternate universe he lives in that the non-conservative radio network, Air America Radio, had "folded." (The audio clip is at the end of this article.)
The news, undoubtedly, came as a bit of a surprise to Thom Hartmann, whose successful live weekday radio program is syndicated by Air America Radio and runs in the same time slot as O'Reilly in many markets.
Contrary to O'Reilly's misinformation, The Thom Hartman Program likely even outpaces the Fox entertainer in listenership, as he told us this afternoon.
In response to our query, Hartmann told The BRAD BLOG that, while he didn't currently have access to O'Reilly's ratings for comparison, in a number of markets his show regularly beats Rush Limbaugh, who also broadcasts during the same hours. Limbaugh, in turn, regularly beats O'Reilly in listener numbers, Hartmann explained via email.
"I beat Limbaugh in Portland in the last [ratings] book," wrote Hartmann, who broadcasts out of Portland's KPOJ, "and in Seattle in the Fall '06 book...Limbaugh almost always beats O'Reilly, and I've beaten Limbaugh in multiple markets (2) over multiple years (3)."
Yesterday, as we reported, O'Reilly featured a segment on his Fox "News" television show declaring that Progressive activists calling for reform of the corporate stranglehold on mainstream media and the public airwaves were "fascists," "loons," "unstable people" and a "threat to the country." One of his guests, rightwing Republicanist Mary Katherine Hamm, charged that proponents of media reform, and those who oppose her and O'Reilly's minority fringe viewpoints, are "a group of people living in an alternative universe."
This morning, while arguing on The Radio Factor that it's a "bad strategy" for the GOP to attack Barack Obama's wife Michelle because it would "turn off independent voters" as needed by John McCain to win the Presidency, O'Reilly responded to a caller who disagreed with him by pointing to Air America as "the best example I can give you." He then proceeded to use wholly inaccurate information, describing Air America in the past tense, as if it no longer existed, in his "best example"...
"The recount never really happened," notes Kevin Spacey, correctly, about the 2000 Florida election debacle in his interview Wednesday night on Countdown, in advance of Recount, HBO's theatrical retelling of the nightmare. The film premieres this Sunday.
Some weeks ago, we ran an item which included the theatrical trailer for the film and noted that we've neither seen it, nor been contacted by anybody from the production (they didn't purchase an ad here either, boo hoo) but that they did manage to use our "Stuck in the Middle With You" theme song for the film, curiously enough, as you'll see in the trailer. We'll take it as a compliment, as if we have a choice.
We also noted, with evidence, that Al Gore received more votes than George W. Bush in the state of Florida in 2000, and that seven whistleblowers from the company, Sequoia Voting Systems, who produced the paper ballots for Florida, have come forward to reveal that they were forced by someone to use bad paper on those ballots (only in Florida) against their objections, and to misalign the chads on them (only in Palm Beach County). To this day, other than Dan Rather at HDNet, who originally ran the report, nobody in the corporate media has found that story worthy of following up, or even merely reporting.
But for the third in our countdown of productions with the word "count" in its title, we turn to our friend Mary Mancini, who smartly blogs at the website of the documentary film Uncounted (We're in it, so see FULL DISCLOSURE at end of this article). Mancini notes that Olbermann, during his interview with Spacey (at left, including clip from film), joined so many other journalists who have taken the opportunity of the premiere of HBO's film to miss more than a few good journalistic opportunities...
With all the publicity surrounding this movie, now would be the perfect time for journalists to take the national conversation to the next level and ask the most logical follow up questions:
1) Why wasn’t our electoral process equipped, as Kevin Spacey says in the interview, “to handle margins of victory so small and margins of error so big” in 2000?
2) Are we equipped to do so now?
Another great opportunity was lost last night when during the interview Spacey explains the punch-card recount process:
That when you have a margin of victory so small, you have to go to what is called an automatic machine recount and yet, 18 counties, over 1,500,00 votes, didn’t bother to put their ballots back through the machine. They just re-tabulated the memory card, and you always get a different count when you do a machine recount. So, when you kind of realize that, well, that’s ’cause people just couldn’t bother to do it, um, it’s pretty stunning that…that…so..when Baker and Bush kept coming out and saying, “The votes have been counted, and they’ve been counted again, and Gore wants to count them a third time,” they were actually never counted.
No, they weren't. And the Supreme Court demanded that they remain uncounted, so Bush could be named "President."
Only the media and academic consortium who actually did bother to count all of those ballots [PDF] afterwards in Florida would know that Gore received more votes than Bush. Period. Even if they've done a superb job of keeping that little fact to themselves ever since. Whether HBO's Recount tells that truth, we'll have to wait until Sunday to find out.
Following below, for your convenience, are both the HBO trailer for Recount and, once again, the breathtaking Dan Rather report on the gaming of the paper ballots in Florida's 2000 election...
Jonathan Turley: It really is amazing because Congress, including the Democrats, have avoided any type of investigation into torture because they do not want to deal with the fact that the President ordered war crimes. But evidence keeps on coming out - the only thing we don’t have is a group picture with a detainee attached to electrical wires. I mean every time we see more evidence we have more and more high ranking people at the scene of this crime. And what you get from this is that this was a premeditated and carefully orchestrated torture program. Not torture, but a torture program.
Among the most annoying affectations of Tucker Carlson, the conservative host of MSNBC's afternoon gabfest, "Tucker," is his habit of feigning confusion by crinkling his nose, scrunching his brow and saying "I'm confused," before launching into a discourse about something a Democrat has done --- about which he is not really the least bit confused.
I wonder if he crinkled his nose like that and said, "I'm confused," when MNBC told him his show was canceled:
"It was a good show. I'm proud of it," Tucker Carlson tells TVNewser about his now-canceled MSNBC daily program, which began in 2005.
Carlson says the show — with his conservative perspective — is not a fit for the MSNBC prime time 'brand'. "Which of (the programs) is not like the other? That was always the feeling I got, watching the lineup...
"You can only really be who you are. I couldn't pretend to be something else, not that anyone asked me to be somebody else. I was kind of out there, by myself."
Since word of the cancellation, he says, "They've been really nice to me...I like working for NBC. They want me to stay, and I'm going to stay, so I can't complain."
MSNBC's Dan Abrams continued, for the third day in a row, on the Don Siegelman beat today. The former Democratic Alabama Governor, who still sits in jail pending an appeal for his non-violent crime, is alleged to have been railroaded by Karl Rove and political operatives in the state while running for re-election in 2006.
In 2002 he had won his election, according to the announced results on Election Night, only to wake up the next morning to find that a Republican election director claimed to have discovered a "glitch" (sound familiar, regular BRAD BLOG readers?) in the electronic vote counts overnight, resulting in Siegelman's loss. He was never allowed a recount after the vote tallies somehow changed on the electronic voting machines due to the "glitch," as it was described officially, by court probate officers.
Neither the 60 Minutes report on Siegelman from Sunday, nor any of Abrams' reports so far this week (here's Tuesday's and Wednesday's) including today's, as posted at the end of this article, have yet delved, with any depth, into that aspect of what seems clearly to have been a well-run political frame-up --- or, yes, a conspiracy --- to do away with the one Democrat who had been able to win statewide elections in an otherwise very Republican-leaning state.
We hope to have more on that aspect of the case soon.
On today's MSNBC "Bush League Justice" report, Abrams spoke with both Siegelman's attorney, Vince Kilborn, as well as Grant Woods, the former Republican Attorney General from Arizona who has been among the most outspoken of the 52 former Republican and Democratic Attorneys General who have called on Congress for an investigation and a special prosecutor to be named in the case.
Abrams repeated his call, from yesterday, for the immediate release of Siegelman from prison, pending appeal of his case, as would be customary in other similar, non-violent cases. Abrams enumerated his chief concerns about the prosecution and the trial as run by federal judge Mark Fuller, as follows...
Dan Abrams once again tackles the Don Siegelman case in his stellar "Bush League Justice" series on MSNBC. Tonight's guests included Scott Horton of Harper's, former Alabama GOP operative Dana Jill Simpson, and Governor Siegelman's daughter, Dana Siegelman.
Abrams and Horton opened the segment discussing the remarkable 60 Minutesblackout of the Siegelman story in Alabama on Sunday. According to the local CBS station the blackout occurred because of a faulty receiver. An incredulous Abrams then proceeded to make a mockery out of the laughable excuse:
It's sooo hard to believe - the notion that a receiver, in Alabama, just during the Siegelman story, just during 60 Minutes - I mean, they got it resolved, right? Right at the end, just as the story is finishing up, right?
After playing more of his interview with Karl Rove accuser Simpson from yesterday's show, Abrams made his first of many calls for Governor Siegelman's release from prison:
But there are serious questions that should lead the Justice Department and the judge to, at the very least, release Siegelman while he appeals.
Amazingly, Siegelman is unable to appeal his case because the government has failed to produce a transcript of the trial which was completed over 18 months ago.
Later Dana Siegelman tries to answer some of the many unanswerable questions regarding her father's case before flat out telling Abrams that the judge is "trying to keep her dad hushed as long as he possibly can" and that her father "knows Karl Rove is behind this."
Part 1 (9:49), Part 2 (2:08)
RELATED:Note that part of The BRAD BLOG's encounter with Karl Rove on Monday appears at the beginning of the segment. You can also catch two former "Bush League Justice" installments about the Siegelman case here at The BRAD BLOG: In the most recent, posted Tuesday Abrams called on AG Mukasey to open an investigation into the case and in the other, back in December, Abrams was the first in the mainstream corporate media to cover the Siegelman case.
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.