Standing at a podium before the Democratic National Committee (DNC), within arms length of DNC Chair and 2008 Hillary Clinton national campaign co-chair, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), former Maryland Governor and now a 2016 Democratic Presidential candidate Martin O'Malley slammed the DNC for what he described as an "unprecedented" effort to "rig" the 2016 nomination process. (See video of O'Malley's DNC speech below).
Speaking at the DNC's Summer Meeting in Minneapolis over the weekend, O'Malley described the Party's decision to severely constrict the timing and number of Democratic Presidential primary debates (six total, just four before Primary voting begins) as "cynical." The DNC edict also imposes a punitive exclusivity clause that would prevent any candidate from participating in the DNC-sanctioned debates if they took part in any other unsanctioned debate. This contrasts sharply with the 26 Democratic Presidential primary debates that took place during the 2007-08 election cycle --- a process that was described as "an important factor in underdog Barack Obama's victory" over then front-runner Hillary Clinton.
This time, the first Democratic Presidential primary debate has been delayed until Oct. 13, 2015 --- four days after the deadline for unaffiliated NY voters to register to vote in the state's April 19, 2016 Democratic primary. O'Malley added that the one debate in New Hampshire, now scheduled on Saturday, Dec. 19, has been "cynically wedged in the high point of the holiday shopping season so that as few people watch it as possible."
"Four debates and only four debates --- we are told, not asked --- before voters in our earliest states make their decision," O'Malley said. "This sort of rigged process has never been attempted before. One debate in Iowa. That's it. One debate in New Hampshire. That's all we can afford."
O'Malley's charge, and palpable tension with party chair Wasserman-Schultz at the weekend event, echo a familiar process of establishment party politicians looking out for what they perceive as their own best interests, if not that of rank and file supporters...
But after those updates, we dig into debunking a new global warming denier scam that began making the rounds over the weekend, concerning a "mini ice age" that wingnuts are now certain will happen instead of the planet continuing to warm at record rates just as scientists have long predicted.
The nonsense begin in the Rightwing denialist media, but has since been making its way into the theoretically legit media as well.
Physicist and former Clinton Administration Dept. of Energy official Joe Romm joins me to help with the debunkery and warns that, unfortunately, "there's no escape from the catastrophic consequences of human-caused global warming by hoping the sun does something. The only hope is that humans do something, which is to slash carbon pollution, and have a global treaty negotiated in Paris in December and take action like the United States is doing through the President's EPA Clean Power Plan, replacing dirty fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy that lasts forever."
The new study being cited by deniers "doesn't mean anything about the long-predicted global warming trend," he tells me. "Anybody who cites this study to suggest that global warming science isn't real, or somehow we're going to avoid catastrophic warming this century, literally has never talked to a climate scientist," Romm says, describing the newest "'Jiggery-pokery' from the climate science deniers."
We also discuss a new email charging Exxon knew about CO2 and climate change since the early 80s, but spent millions in the decades since to fund the denier movement instead of taking action. And I also get Romm's thoughts on a newly unearthed 1969 Nixon Administration memo warning about CO2, global warming and sea level rise.
Finally: Since Walker is announcing his 2016 run for President today, it seems a good time to revisit the audio of that prank 2011 phone call to him from "David Koch" during the height of Walker's union-busting campaign. The call was a hoax, but Walker had no idea. We play some clips from the call to help you remember it all, along with a bit of my 2011 interview with then Buffalo Beast editor Ian Murphy, the man who played "David Koch" during the prank call. (If you're interested, you can hear my complete 2011 interview with Murphy, while guest hosting The Mike Malloy Show on April Fools day that year, right back here.)
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MONTHLY BRAD BLOG SUBSCRIPTION
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A former Governor of Virginia is expected to be sentenced to a long stay in prison. The same fate has befallen governors in states across the United States, including in nearby Maryland, Tennessee, and West Virginia. A former governor of Illinois is in prison. Governors have been convicted of corruption in Rhode Island, Louisiana, Oklahoma, North Dakota, Connecticut, and (in a trumped-up partisan scam) in Alabama. The statewide trauma suffered by the people of states that have locked up their governors has been...well, nonexistent and unimaginable.
Locking U.S. presidents up for their crimes is a different story. Former President Richard Nixon's understanding that whatever a president does is legal has not been challenged since he made that comment. The Washington Post --- not exactly a Nixon supporter --- has the same understanding now. The Post recently justified the latest proposal to re-ban torture by explaining that even though torture was already banned, President George W. Bush tortured and therefore had found a legal way around the law. In other words, because he hasn't been prosecuted, what he did was legal.
The New York Times, which urged prosecuting former President George W. Bush for torture six years ago, recently wrote this:
Citing a related-ish piece of mine last week over at Salon, Paul H. Rosenberg attempted to slay yet another Zombie Myth that just won't die over the weekend: The myth that JFK "stole" the 1960 election from Richard Nixon, and that Nixon was just too much of a gracious statesman to challenge the results.
It is, of course, all bullshit, as Rosenberg is forced to detail once again. Nonetheless, the enduring myth remains part and parcel --- and, often, False Exhibit #1 --- of the very same scam that Republicans still use to this very day in attempting to deligitimize their Democratic opponents through phony claims of "voter fraud".
We mocked it ourselves a bit, suggesting that Democrats might have carried out such a stunt during the day, instead of in the middle of the night when most people were asleep, if they really wanted folks to notice. In the meantime, our friend Kenny Pick of Turn Up the Night has been slogging through CSPAN's 17-hour video posting of the session and sends us a clip that caught his eye.
In it, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), co-sponsor along with Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) of the Senate #Up4Climate event, focuses a laser light on the U.S. Supreme Court's infamous 2010 Citizens United decision as a turning point --- a very bad one --- for climate change denialism, specifically on the flip-flopping by Republicans on an issue they actually did once appear to care about...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: The long national shutdown is over --- for now --- and environmental services and protections are returning; PLUS: Australia erupts in 'freakishly early' bushfire season; AND: The 40th anniversary of the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Air pollution definitively linked to cancer; Lloyd's of London warns on warming, mocks deniers; Minimata Mercury Convention signed by world governments; Why Supreme Court taking on greenhouse gases isn't as bad as it looks; US shale boom shows signs of permanent decline; Uneven enforcement at US nuclear plants; Wisconsin opens wolf hunting season; ND farmers sue over natural gas flares; BP Oil Spill Trial update; World's first climate refugee seeks asylum in NZ; Kauai moves to restrict GMOs; PLUS much, MUCH more!...
EXCLUSIVE: Legendary 'Pentagon Papers' whistleblower offers frank comment on the NSA whistleblower; the dangers of our privatized surveillance state; the failure of Congressional oversight; and journalists 'discrediting their professions'...
"I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America," Church said, "and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return."
On Wednesday, during a fascinating interview on The BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio, Ellsberg said directly, in the wake of Snowden's disclosures: "We're in the abyss. What he feared has come to pass."
The Guardian has asserted that former NSA contractor Edward Snowden "will go down in history as one of America's most consequential whistleblowers alongside Daniel Ellsberg and Bradley Manning," do it seemed the perfect time to chat with Ellsberg about all of this.
He offered a number of thoughts about Snowden himself, from one of the few people in the world who may have real insight into what the 29-year old leaker must be thinking and dealing with right about now, and why he may have chosen to both leave the country and then come out publicly. He describes Snowden as "a patriotic American, and to call him a traitor reveals a real misunderstanding of our founding documents."
"What he has revealed, of course, is documentary evidence of a broadly, blatantly unconstitutional program here which negates the Fourth Amendment," Ellsberg said. "And if it continues in this way, I think it makes democracy essentially impossible or meaningless."
As usual, Ellsberg pulled no punches in his comments on the dangers of our privatized surveillance state; the failure of our Congressional intelligence oversight committees (which he describes as "fraudulent" and "totally broken"); and on those who have been critical of Snowden and of Glenn Greenwald, the journalist from The Guardian who has broken most of the scoops on Snowden's leaked documents.
He said that folks like attorney Jeffrey Toobin at the New Yorker and author Thomas Friedman at New York Times and Senator Dianne Feinstein "are being very strongly discredited," by their attacks on Snowden. "The criticisms they're making, I think, are very discreditable to them in their profession," he says.
And, while answering to my request for a response to Josh Marshall's recent piece at TPM, in which Marshall weights his own conscience on this matter and frankly revealing his natural tendency to support the government over whistleblowers in cases like this, Ellsberg was particularly pointed. "Marshall has a lot to be said for him as a blogger," he said, before adding: "I think what he said there is stupid and mistaken and does not do him credit." He went on to describe some of Marshall's comments as "slander" against Snowden.
One other point that merits highlight here for now, before I let ya listen below. The difference between Ellsberg's circumstances and those in play today.
Ellsberg noted that after leaking top secret Defense Department documents to the New York Times in 1971, detailing how the Johnson Administration had lied the nation into the Vietnam War, President Nixon, at the time, ordered a break-in of his psychiatrist's office and discussed having Ellsberg "eliminated".
"All the things that were done to me then," he noted chillingly, "including a CIA profile on me, a burglary of my former psychiatrist's office in order to get information to blackmail me with, all of those things were illegal, as one might think that they ought to be."
"They're legal now, since 9/11, with the PATRIOT Act, which on that very basis alone should be repealed. In other words, this is a case right now with Snowden that shows very dramatically the dangers of that PATRIOT Act, used as it is. So the fact is, that all these things are legal. And even the one of possibly eliminating him"...
Had Karl's error --- compounded by his "cover-up" even more than his original "crime" --- contained news that falsely appeared good for Democrats instead of for Republicans, he would have been hammered and forever discredited by the Right until finally fired by ABC News. But, alas, his completely false report on Benghazi benefited Republicans rather than Democrats, so no biggie, it seems. He gets to keep his career!
ABC's Karl, however, wasn't the only top-tier network newsman who blew it big time, further tarnishing the profession over the past week, not by a long shot.
Lisa Graves, of The Center for Media and Democracy [CMD], is "asking citizens to contact their Senator and demand hearings on the way 'dark money' has stealthily influenced the election." The CMD's proposal includes a specific demand that Charles and David Koch be subpoenaed to testify --- something which, Graves explains, the oil and chemical magnate brothers evaded some 15 years ago when U.S. Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN) blocked efforts to force them to testify about their use of front groups to influence elections.
Unlike the GOP, whose calls for "Watergate-style" Benghazi hearings have been described as "political theater," the incoming 55-member Senate Democratic Caucus is in a position to conduct a broad and thorough set of hearings that could expose the ever-present threat to the very survival of democratic governance by what former Vice President Henry A. Wallace described as "the American fascist."
Coming within the context of near universal opposition to the flood of corporate money that drown out the voices of ordinary citizens, such hearings could also serve to catapult growing calls to not only overturn the infamous Citizens United decision but to end the concept of "corporate personhood" and establish that money is not "free speech."
As we mark the passing of a progressive icon, three-term U.S. Senator George McGovern (D-SD), and the last true anti-war candidate to be nominated for the Presidency by the Democratic Party, one can't help but think back to what Stephen Victoria labeled in his documentary as One Bright Shining Moment: The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern (see video segments replayed by Democracy Now! below).
As a young college student and Vietnam veteran, this writer has not forgotten the hope of that summer, the disappointment of the Richard Nixon landslide, the ensuing Watergate scandal, the "Don't Blame Me, I Voted for McGovern" bumper stickers, or how difficult it was to find anyone by the end of 1973 who would admit they voted for Nixon. How different our circumstances might be today if America had appreciated the wisdom of this great man of peace back then.
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Democracy Now! excerpts from One Bright Shining Moment follow...
"If we play Russian Roulette with the Supreme Court," Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) said during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, "if we confirm a nominee who has not demonstrated a commitment to core constitutional values, we jeopardize our rights as individuals and the future of our nation."
"We cannot undo such a mistake at the next election or even in the next generation," he warned. Too bad more of his Democratic colleagues failed to listen.
With four of the nine Supreme Court Justices now in their seventies, and the GOP Senate minority having bottled-up the Obama administration's nominations to the federal trial and intermediate appellate courts, the decision by the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, to select Robert Bork (see video below), founder of the ultra-radical, right-wing billionaire-funded Federalist Society as his chief legal adviser has turned the 2012 Presidential election into a new, and far more serious game of "Russian Roulette" --- one that would give the same forces that were behind the Bush v. Gore judicial coup and the infamous Citizens United decision a super majority on the Supreme Court.
The harm to the rule of law that would accompany the expansion from four
Supreme Court radicals in robes to seven could not be remedied, as Kennedy warned, by "the next election or even in the next generation"...
Even a glimpse at the statistics leads knowledgeable sources, like Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, to describe the 'War on Drugs' as a "failed prohibitionist policy."
"Over the last 40 years, more than 45 million drug-related arrests have cost an estimated $1 trillion," Amy Goodman reported on Democracy Now! "Yet drugs are cheaper, purer and more available today than ever."
And that's just in the U.S.
According to the United Nations' 2011 World Drug Report [PDF], "in 2009, between 149 and 272 million people...aged 15-64 used illicit substances at least once in the previous year." The UN estimated that Cannabis was "consumed by between 125 and 203 million people worldwide in 2009," adding:
Drug traffickers and organized criminals are forming transnational networks, sourcing drugs on one continent, trafficking them across another, and marketing them in a third. In some countries and regions, the value of the illicit drug trade far exceeds the size of the legitimate economy.
But Nadelmann's description of the 'War on Drugs' as a "failed prohibitionist policy" is derived from the supposition that the 'War on Drugs', at least here in the U.S., was actually formulated with a desire to suppress or eliminate drug abuse.
In PART 1 of this series, we examined the question of whether the U.S. Government's effort to challenge legalization of marijuana in California and elsewhere was akin to shutting down the competition, given the CIA's long-documented history of profiting from the world-wide drug trade. In PART 2 we posited that an end to the 'War on Drugs' could deliver a devastating blow to the bottom line of American corporations who have come to depend upon the Prison Industrial Complex in the U.S. and its huge pool of slave laborers --- most, non-violent drug offenders.
So now, we must examine the hypothesis that, if accurate, should rock us all to our core.
What if the horrific consequences of the worldwide drug trade, which, per the UN 2011 World Drug Report, includes an annual death toll of 200,000, are precisely what President Nixon and the covert branches of U.S. Empire had in mind when formulating a policy that would enhance the domination of the 1% over the 99%? Are we now living in a form of Aldus Huxley's Brave New World in which "Failure is Success" can be added to the three slogans from George Orwell's 1984 --- "War is Peace," "Freedom is Slavery" and "Ignorance is Strength" --- a world in which a vote against legalization is actually a vote in favor of illicit distribution by organized crime and their allies in the CIA?...
This is the second of our three-part series advancing the hypothesis that one must turn to economics to make sense of the so-called 'War on Drugs' and the U.S. government's seemingly irrational obsession with shutting down something as innocuous as medicinal marijuana dispensaries.
PART 1 examined both historical and recent links between the CIA and the illicit drug trade. It explored the extent to which the so-called 'War on Drugs' has been used as cover for the CIA's covert import of narcotics, both into the U.S. and other nations, in order to fund the mischief the Agency engages in on behalf of U.S. Empire. It postulated that the government’s opposition to controlled legalization, taxation and medical, educational and psychological assistance in avoiding substance abuse is the product of an illicit supplier shutting down the competition.
Here, we will examine the profitability of the Prison Industrial Complex in the U.S. and the extent to which the world's largest prison population provides a ready source of slave labor for some of the world's largest corporations…
We recently detailed how legal documents reveal that prosecutors in Wisconsin are painstakingly examining evidence that may well place Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) at the center of a criminal conspiracy to illegally utilize employees within the Milwaukee County Executive Office to engage in fundraising and campaign activities. We observed that a recall may therefore be the least of Walker's worries.
The relationship between Walker's potential criminal liability and his recall vulnerability has not gone unnoticed by the WI Democratic Party. Asserting that Walker "has given a blizzard of contradictory statements about what he knew and when he knew it," WI Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate released an ad which refers to the pending criminal scandal as "Walkergate" (see video below) and draws an analogy to Richard Nixon's role in Watergate.
Simultaneously, the embattled governor on Monday abandoned his effort to challenge the more than one million signatures submitted on the Recall Walker petition...
Recall Walker ad comparing Scott Walker to Richard Nixon follows...