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...
In the wake of the latest revelations of our massive, secret, invasive national security surveillance state, I've been trying to remind folks how we got here, and how it was that many on both the Right and Left --- though far more robustly on the Right --- not only allowed for these outrageous intrusions into the private lives of Americans, but actually supported them, a great deal, for well over a decade.
The hypocrisy of some, particularly those on the Right, to be "outraged" about it all now, is laughable.
Nonetheless, for some of the very important context and backstory about how we got to this place --- and how, in fact, some Democrats tried (and failed) to reign in at least the most unlawful excesses of it (even while some also supported it --- talking to you, Sen. Feinstein & Sen./President Obama) --- Rachel Maddow's piece from last night's show is extremely helpful and educational...
Other than what appears, at first blush, to be the front entrance to the official Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Sewer System, the entire complex, shining at the top of a hill in Simi Valley, CA, is beautiful. Had we not arrived so late in the day, we would likely have paid the somewhat pricey $21 per head entrance fee to tour the actual museum, see the old Air Force One that is on display and, perhaps, even pay the extra $6 to check out the "Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives" exhibit which is also currently on display there, for some reason, until the end of the month.
As late as it was, however, we decided this time around to just enjoy the grounds, the memorial site, and the gift shop --- all free to access --- and make a mental note to try to go back for a full day at some point in the not too distant future.
But we were still able to take a few photos that you may enjoy, including this one just outside the entrance to the museum portion of the Reagan Presidential Library. I call it: "Trust But Photograph"...
Here are a few more of the photos we took yesterday, some odder and/or more ironic than others...
It's a beautiful and maddening film, featuring many voices --- such as Julian Assange, John Nichols, Dan Rather, Amy Goodman, Robert Parry, Robert McChesney, Dan Ellsberg, Sibel Edmonds and many more, including even yours truly --- who will be familiar to readers of The BRAD BLOG. While aspects of a number of the stories told in the film may be familiar, there were elements that even I hadn't heard about it, in just about every one of them.
I had planned to ask Tremblay about his struggles finding commercial theatrical distribution for the film in the U.S. I'd presumed that, at least, would be next to impossible, given the subject matter of the film (the corporate takeover/merger of the near-entirety of our mainstream media in collusion with the highest levels of the U.S. government.) What I hadn't counted on --- what caught me completely off-guard --- was that Tremblay said that, while the film has been featured at prestigious film festivals around the world, the bulk of the major festivals in the U.S. had turned the film down. Yes, those supposedly "independent" film festivals are, apparently, not quite as independent as they used to be, it seems.
Our conversation, today, was the first, as I understand it, that Tremblay has been able to have in the U.S. media about this important film which has been several years in the making. (I was interviewed for the film about three years ago as I recall.)
The good news: We were able to talk about all of that today, unencumbered by any corporate filter and over our public airwaves on Pacifica Radio in L.A. (and over 110,000 blazing FM watts across much of Southern and Central California!)
The even better news: You can watch the film, in its entirety, streaming on the Internet as of tomorrow, Thursday, April 4 at Shadows.KCETlink.org. (You can watch a number of clips from the film there already.)
And, the even better news still: Shadows of Liberty will air on actual television, beginning Friday, April 5th at 8pm ET and PT on independent KCET in Los Angeles and nationwide on Link TV (DISH Channel 9410, DIRECTTV Channel 375).
Until then, you can listen to my conversation with Tremblay from today's BradCast, which includes a number of clips from the film --- along with a few more items of note in the news week (such as concerns about the 100% unverifiable voting systems set for use in the race of Stephen Colbert's sister, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, in her run for the U.S. House in S. Carolina against former Gov. Mark Sanford; the Virginia GOP voter registration worker who was caught tossing registration forms into a dumpster just before the Presidential Election last year, but who seems to now be getting off the hook, and, of course, a visit from our own Desi Doyen, as usual, with the latest Green News Report) --- all right now here.
P.S. Please be the media and spread the word. Thanks. P.P.S. If I haven't "sold" you enough on the film here and in the radio show above, see the official trailer embedded below. Those of you who know my voice will recognize it a few times...
We've been quite remiss by failing to offer the The BRAD BLOG's much-sought yet rarely-bestowed "Intellectually Honest Conservative" Award to Bruce Bartlett, Ronald Reagan's domestic policy adviser and George H.W. Bush's Deputy Asst. Secretary for Economic Policy.
We were reminded of our delinquency again today upon reviewing his candid assessment of the downfall of modern Republicanism and its central core of pretend conservatism as published in a must-read article for the December 2012 issue of American Conservative. The confessional includes, among many on-target money quotes, this one: "Living in the Fox News cocoon, most Republicans had no clue that they were losing [in 2012] or that their ideas were both stupid and politically unpopular."
Bartlett begins by detailing his decades-long list of unquestionably rock-solid conservative credentials, all of which have earned him exactly nothing from today's clueless, brain-addled, incurably propagandized Fox "News" "conservative" crowd. In fact, he has garnered their utter contempt by attempting to tell them the truth over the past decade or so, finding himself tossed "under a bus" along with The BRAD BLOG's very few other past "Intellectually Honest Conservative" awardees and dissident, reality-based Republicans such as David Frum and Andrew Sullivan.
"To this day," Bartlett writes, "I don't think they understand that my motives were to help them avoid the permanent decline that now seems inevitable"...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Debating the future - contrasting the candidates on energy; Obama fast-tracks solar on public lands; Car battery maker goes bankrupt; PLUS: It's official: September 2012 was the hottest month ever. Ever, people! ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Corn Belt Shifts North With Climate as Kansas Crop Dies; TEPCO admits Fukushima was avoidable; New Study Ties Hurricane Strength To Global Warming; Keystone XL pipeline opponents turn to civil disobedience; Iraq to invest up to $1.6 bln in solar and wind ... PLUS: World's biggest geoengineering experiment 'violates' UN rules ... and much, MUCH more! ...
On Thursday, Florida's fairlyprogressive former Republican Governor Charlie Crist spoke in support of President Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. Crist became an independent during his failed 2010 run for the U.S. Senate, after it became clear that his party was likely to nominate Marco Rubio for the seat instead. All of that had come about after Crist had demonstrated the temerity to famously embrace the President when he came to pitch the stimulus bill in the Sunshine State, which ended up saving tens of thousands of Florida jobs after the 2008 global economic meltdown threatened to plunge the country into another Great Depression.
Echoing Ronald Reagan's famously-cited reasons for the former President's own switch from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party, Crist explained during his speech last night: "I can certainly relate. I didn't leave the Republican Party; it left me."
"Then again," he added, "as my friend Jeb Bush recently noted, Reagan himself would have been too moderate and too reasonable for today's GOP."
With all of that, here is how CNN described Crist during his speech yesterday...
Perhaps we missed it, but we don't remember the "liberal" CNN similarly labeling Democrat-turned-Republican Artur Davis a "turncoat" when he spoke at the RNC last week in favor of Mitt Romney. Or did they just reserve that distinguished label only for Republican-turned-independent Charlie Crist when he spoke on behalf of Barack Obama?
In any event, CNN is in terrific company with their slur. They weren't the only one to compare Crist to a traitor by describing him as a "turncoat". Rightwing extremist Glenn Beck's pretend "news" site The Blaze did so as well:
Unlike CNN, however, Beck's site appears to have done the right thing and removed that descriptor from its headline (though it's still in the page name) after initially using it.
No doubt during this election cycle, like every election cycle over the past forty years, we'll hear from the GOP about "tax and spend" Democrats.
Even though it doesn't detail how every Republican since Reagan has combined massive, unpaid-for tax cuts for the wealthy with runaway, unpaid-for military spending --- creating a great excuse to destroy the New Deal safety net, in order to slash their runaway deficit-spending --- this chart is, nonetheless rather revealing...
None of that, of course, has kept the bulk of the "Lamestream Media" from repeating the myth of Republicans as "fiscal conservatives," a concept this site has spent many years attempting to debunk. Last night, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow did exactly the same thing when it came to the claim that Mitt Romney's newly chosen Veep pick, Paul Ryan, is a "fiscal conservative."
To borrow from CNN's Soledad O'Brien yesterday, "I understand that this is a Republican talking point because I've heard it repeated over and over again" --- in this case by the Beltway Media --- but "you can't just repeat it and make it true."
Maddow dispatches with the "Ryan as 'fiscal conservative'" nonsense in the unforgiving video below, in which she notes:
If we really are going to be stuck with Paul Ryan as the face of Republicanism for a long time, and if the term "fiscal conservative" is supposed to mean anything, we should get clear there may be a lot of great stuff to say about this guy, but "fiscally conservative" is not one of the things you really can say about him. ... If that counts as fiscal conservative for you, you don't speak English
"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"...
Yet, the DOJ and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) make it a priority to target California medical marijuana dispensaries and to raid Oaksterdam University, a school founded by Richard Lee, a legalization activist who offers training in the cultivation and use of medical marijuana. It does so even though, in 1996, CA voters, by a wide margin, passed an initiative that "allows patients with a valid doctor's recommendation...to possess and cultivate marijuana for personal medical use." The raids were also made against the backdrop of polls showing that a majority of Americans support legalization of marijuana.
In this three-part series, we will advance the hypothesis that this seemingly irrational obsession with busting medicinal marijuana dispensaries and fending off legalization of even the most innocuous of drugs, Cannabis, can only be understood in the context of U.S. Empire and the economics of the Prison Industrial Complex.
In this first part of the series, we examine both historical and recent links between the CIA and the illicit drug trade. We touch upon 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. That operation, evidence strongly suggests, continues to this day.
At the core of that hypothesis is the question as to whether an end to the phony 'War on Drugs' and its replacement by controlled legalization, taxation and medical, educational and psychological assistance in avoiding substance abuse would cut off a key, illicit source of covert CIA funding...
In light of GOP Presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich's recently revitalized attacks on the judiciary as, apparently, not yet extreme or activist enough for his tastes --- though he finds, like most of the other GOP candidates, Justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito to be "pretty darn good" --- it's worth taking note of just some of the recent behavior, judicial temperament and fundamental principles of those far-Right extremist Supreme Court Justices he apparently does approve of.
The day the Supreme Court gathered behind closed doors to consider the politically divisive question of whether it would hear a challenge to President Obama’s healthcare law, two of its justices, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, were feted at a dinner sponsored by the law firm that will argue the case before the high court.
While basic canons of judicial ethics suggest that judges should avoid even the appearance of impropriety, it remains exceedingly doubtful that the gathering of signatures on a Credo Action Petition will prompt either of these two "radicals in robes" to recuse themselves...
UPDATE The original graphic we used above had been posted by Pelosi's office on 5/3/11, even though they had updated the graphic on 5/19/11. We had linked to the updated one, but had posted the older one here (which illustrates the same idea, though George W. Bush's increase to the debt was seen as 115% versus 86% in the update, and Barack Obama was responsible for increasing the debt by 16% versus 35% in the updated version, which is now posted above.) Thanks to longtime BRAD BLOG commenter Soul Rebel for catching the mistake!
In apparent response to GOP leaders of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee who requested in June that Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair Julius Genachowski "strike the Fairness Doctrine from the agency's rulebook," the former corporate media executive has announced exactly that today, striking the rule, and 82 others, from the official FCC rulebook...
Earlier today, Brad Friedman reported that, despite high unemployment and food stamp usage at an all-time record high, U.S. corporations were experiencing record profits.
Simultaneously, Los Angeles Times reported that Senate leaders have reached an accord to pass three more NAFTA-like "free trade" agreements (Panama, Colombia, and South Korea) when Congress returns from its August recess. The Times stated: "Proponents [e.g.,the U.S. Chamber of Commerce] say the trade agreements...will pump as much as $14 billion into the U.S. economy and add more than 250,000 jobs."
The reality was better captured by Ross Perot during a 1992 Presidential Debate when he warned (video reminder below) that NAFTA would produce "a giant sucking sound of jobs headed South"...
It took 30 years and 204 days, but on Tuesday August 2, 2011 the fruits of the Reagan Tree of Life will finally have reached its peak when the over-ripened, low-hanging, worm-filled Reagapples will begin to pound the ground, not with sweetened blossoms, but with a dead thud. 30 years and 204 days of belittling and ignoring the American education system, calling ketchup a vegetable, telling us trees cause pollution, cutting taxes to create trickled-down imaginary jobs (OK there are a few more maids and gardeners) and teaching Americans that they could have everything they want and it will cost nothing - the Teadras educated Republican party is willing to take the ultimate bet and tell the piper (or croupier) this time to shove it.
The US Congress has spent the better part of the past month arguing over whether the credit limit on the Visa card should be raised in order to pay their bills --- bills they have committed and signed to pay. If this game of cold-war brinkmanship wasn't so dangerous on so many levels --- it would actually be comical to watch. Watching the children of the right storm out of meetings (Eric Cantor --- who probably has the distinction of having had the most spit balls thrown at him during 7th grade lunch) and then say no, no, no as the opposition capitulates to nearly every one of their demands is nothing short of having MacBeth playing in a Kabuki Theater.
The 80 or so teabaggers, who sandbagged their way into Congress last November promising to stop those eternal welfare queens from driving Cadillacs and finally ridding the country of the leeches who live off their hard-earned (over) taxed dollars, are about to allow the real grand experiment to go forward --- let the US default on its payments for the first time in history --- and default by choice. You know the world's strongest economy is going to look like it is managed even worse than Greece...