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...
In a blistering confrontation with then-Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan during a 2003 Congressional Hearing (see video below) --- five years before the 2008 meltdown of Wall Street --- then-Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) revealed why he may be better positioned now to square off against right-wing economics than Hillary Clinton who, twenty years ago, served as a member of the Wal-Mart Board of Directors.
(The Arkansas-based company was a principal beneficiary of President Bill Clinton's decision to ram NAFTA through on the fast track. And, even now, though Hillary has been critical of a number of the company's practices, influential members of the Walton family, the mega-billionaire owners of the retail giant, have been very supportive of the Clintons.)
During that 2003 hearing, as revealed by this must-see video compiled by Sanders supporters, the Congressman arguably demolished not only Greenspan, but the fundamentalist market-based economics that remain the centerpiece of today's Republican Party and at the center of the dispute over new international trade agreements, such as the TPP.
After chastising the Fed Chairman for being out of touch with the needs of ordinary Americans --- "You don't know what's going on in the real world!" --- Sanders unleashed this...
Since the entrance of Sen. Bernie Sanders into the race for the 2016 Democratic Presidential nomination (and even well before), we've been discussing the concept of the "democracy deficit", defined by Noam Chomsky as the significant gap between the policy positions of the electorate and their "representatives", occasioned by the manner in which, as he argues, "elections are skillfully managed to avoid issues and marginalize the underlying population…freeing the elected leadership to serve the substantial people."
An article by Kevin Cirilli in The Hill last week, "Banks brace for Bernie Sanders" provides yet another opportunity to examine that troubling paradigm and the well-organized role the nation's corporate elite play in it.
While an effective, issue-based campaign from a self-declared "democratic socialist" like Sanders could otherwise serve to galvanize a bottom-up, small "d" democratic revolution at the polls, The Hill fails to so much as suggest that Wall Street is in any way concerned about what might transpire if Sanders were actually to secure the Democratic Party Presidential nomination. "He poses no real threat to the former secretary of State’s eventual nomination," Cirilli writes, citing the self-fulfilling prophecy of the elusive "conventional wisdom".
Instead, quoting one banking lobbyist after another, each who marginalize Sanders, the DC-based publication reports only that "Wall Street is worried that Sen. Bernie Sanders’s vigorous calls for banking industry reform will pull Hillary Clinton to the left, as the two presidential candidates battle for the 2016 Democratic nomination"...
A bit of encouraging voting news came out of North Carolina on Wednesday, believe it or not. We'll see how long it lasts.
By way of a 2-1 decision and a lengthy Opinion [PDF] on Wednesday, a three-judge panel on the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeal ordered U.S. District Court Judge Thomas J. Schroeder, a George W. Bush appointee, to issue a preliminary injunction to prevent the State of North Carolina from implementing two provisions of a sweeping election "reform" bill.
The court sharply criticized the lower court's ruling that previously allowed the law to move forward as is, despite the likelihood of a disproportionate effect on minority voters in the Tar Heel State.
The BRAD BLOG described the bill in question, when it was passed by the GOP legislature last year, as "the nation's worst voter suppression law since the Jim Crow era." The law includes virtually every restriction on voting --- shortening early voting hours, ending same-day registration, implementation of disenfranchising polling place Photo ID restrictions and much more --- ever attempted by Republicans across the country over the past decade. The legislation was, quite literally, rammed through the state's Republican-controlled legislature, with no period for public comment or debate, just one day after a sharply-divided U.S. Supreme Court gutted the heart of the Voting Rights Act in the Summer of 2013.
The majority opinion at the 4th Circuit was highly critical of Schroeder's analysis in the case. They described it as "flawed," containing "grave errors" and "plainly wrong" on the law. The court found that the District Court judge abused his discretion in refusing to issue a preliminary injunction that would prevent implementation of two provisions of the state's H.B. 589.
In their decision, the three-judge panel's majority also offered significant interpretations of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), that, if ultimately upheld, could minimize the damage wrought by the gutting of Section 5 by the U.S. Supreme Court last year...
What was the one, most important takeaway from today and Saturday's 50th Anniversary commemoration of MLK's "March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom"? The one issue that seemed to make it into the remarks of just about everyone who spoke?
That's what we discussed during the first part of today's KPFK/Pacifica RadioBradCast, along with sound clip highlights from some of the most notable speakers. (Hint: If you didn't hear the fiery remarks of Rep. John Lewis --- the youngest speaker at the original 1963 remarks --- on Saturday, you'll now get to hear them in full.)
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...
While both Brad Friedman and Sue Wilson have written in detail here at The BRAD BLOG about the recent closure of progressive talk radio stations in cities such as Portland and Seattle, along with the FCC's failure to enforce the public interest obligations of the conglomerates that own those stations, there's an interesting development on the other side of the dial, at least in Boston, where the demise of right-wing talk radio --- in a region where the format once dominated --- hints at a downward spiral for a key element of the conservative entertainment complex.
The latest sign of right-wing radio's malaise may be seen in the apparent demise of Boston's WTKK-FM.
Friedman and Wilson have shown conclusively that good progressive radio is not being allowed to succeed --- that the national corporate interests of these large media conglomerates (just as predicted by some media observers decades ago, following the passage of the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996) are being placed ahead of the local public interest obligations which broadcast licensees are required to meet in exchange for their use of our public airwaves.
With the challenges now being faced by good progressive talkers facing obstacles stacked against their success, is there anything wrong with enjoying the spectacle of seeing bad right-wing radio fail, as appears to be the case in Boston at year's end?...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: With Hurricane Sandy recovery underway, Bloomberg endorses Obama, Romney is heckled, and the impacts of climate change finally begin to dawn on corporate media and public officials; PLUS: Planning ahead for a climate changed future ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): CIA's Climate Change Security Report Delayed Due To Hurricane Sandy; Winter Storm May Hit In Early November, Possibly On Election Day; Energy company CEO: Why do we have to talk about climate change today?; Australia Rejects Calls From The Fossil Fuel Industry To Roll Back 20 Percent Renewable Energy Target; Exxon And Shell Earn $54 Billion So Far In 2012, After Taking $800 Million In Annual Tax Breaks; KFC UK will no longer source from Asia Pulp & Paper ... PLUS: The Onion: Nation Suddenly Realizes This Just Going To Be A Thing That Happens From Now On ... and much, MUCH more! ...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: A Tale of Two Conventions: wrapping up the DNC vs. RNC; It's official: 2012 shaping up to be hottest year on record; Shell begins Arctic drilling, but the Arctic has other plans; PLUS: 9/11, and the consequences of ignoring warnings ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Foul smell across Southern Cali; Caribbean coral reefs near collapse; BP unloads millions in Gulf of Mexico leases; Massive wildfires, evacuations in West; NYC unprepared for rising sea levels, storm surge; Looming national security issue at chemical plants; Climate change challenge for power plant operators; China orders renewable energy standard ... PLUS: GM calls report of money-losing Volt sales 'grossly wrong' ... and much, MUCH more! ...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Bill Clinton makes the green case for Barack Obama at the DNC; PLUS: DOJ excoriates BP for "willful misconduct" and "gross negligence"... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): US taxpayers scammed by cheap coal auctions; Keystone XL Update: new route proposed, TX blockade shuts down worksite, Transcanada seizes US property through eminient domain; Organics vs. chemical farming; Patagonia's glacier melt accelerating; Video: How climate change will change your weather; Australia's carbon tax enriching polluters? ... PLUS: Special Report: "The Worst Environment Money Can Buy" ... and much, MUCH more! ...
"Do you really want to live in a country where one party is so desperate to win the White House that they go around trying to make it harder for people to vote if they’re people of color, poor people or first generation immigrants?," Bill Clinton asked rhetorically on Tuesday night during an event organized by the Arkansas Democratic Party.
In what The Nation's Ari Berman highlighted as a possible "preview" of the former President's remarks tonight in Charlotte, where he'll be headlining at the DNC, Clinton savaged the Republican efforts, particularly in Pennsylvania and Ohio, to suppress the Democratic vote:
“Do you really want to live in a country where one party is so desperate to win the White House that they go around trying to make it harder for people to vote if they’re people of color, poor people or first generation immigrants?
“In Pennsylvania, where they passed all these voter ID requirements, the House Republican leader who passed it said it was one of the most important achievements because it will enable Governor Romney to defeat the president in Pennsylvania.
“In Ohio, they passed the whole nine yards. The problem was in Ohio you can actually put this stuff on the ballot pretty easily to overturn it. So they went back in—you gotta give it to Republicans, they’re good. They vetoed it, then they snuck in an end to advance voting. Then they allowed the counties—and every county in Ohio has an election commission of three Democrats and three Republicans [Ed Note: actually it's two and two]—to decide if they were going to go around advance voting. The Democrats, we were for it. So in every county that was Republican, Democrats said ‘OK, we’ll have advance voting.’ And in every single county that is overwhelming Democratic, the Republicans voted against allowing advance voting.
Berman goes on to note that Clinton offered similar sentiments during a speech he made last year, when he decried the "Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today":
In last year's speech, a clip of which we'll post again below, Clinton said:
I can’t help thinking, since we just celebrated the Fourth of July and we’re supposed to be a country dedicated to liberty, that one of the most pervasive political movements going on outside Washington today is the disciplined, passionate, determined effort of Republican governors and legislators to keep most of you from voting next time. There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the other Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today.
Why is all this going on? This is not rocket science. They are trying to make the 2012 electorate look more like the 2010 electorate than the 2008 electorate.
Will Clinton offer similar sentiments tonight during his speech in Charlotte?
UPDATE 9:10pm PT: In fact, Clinton did give a shout out against GOP voter suppression during his rousing convention speech tonight: "If you want ever American to vote and you think it is wrong to change voting procedures just to reduce the turnout of younger, poorer, minority, and disabled voters, you should support Barack Obama!"
* * *
The short clip from President Bill Clinton's 7/6/2011 speech to student voters, in which he slammed Republicans for their voter suppression efforts follows below.
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
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: It's official: July 2012 hottest month ever recorded in the US; Romney running against the wind (energy industry); Deadly monsoons in Asia; Major plastics spill in Hong Kong; PLUS: Bill Clinton offers good news on the path to clean energy at the National Clean Energy Summit ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): NRC freezes nuke licensing decisions over waste storage problems; World's groundwater supplies over-exploited; Geothermal energy industry stalls in CA; Dr. Michael Mann debunks Richard Muller (again!); Chevron refinery damage may take months to repair; OR teens take global warming to OR Supreme Court; Forest Service changes policy on wildfires; Arctic sea ice impacting Shell's drilling plans ... PLUS: Cold War post-nuke apocalypse?: The 1980s-era Soviet plan to wage germ warfare on the US ... and much, MUCH more! ...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Triumph of propaganda over truth: D.C.'s King of the Deniers, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OIL) takes a victory lap; Deadlock at Durban? Final days of the UN Climate Conference in S. Africa; 2011 breaks its own record for weather disasters; PLUS: GOP threatens to take another hostage to push the Keystone XL pipeline ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Must-reads: "The Brutal Logic of Climate Change" and "The Brutal Logic of Climate Change Mitigation"; EPA finds natural gas 'fracking' contaminated WY drinking water; Coal company put 'profits over people' in mining disaster; $4 billion for energy efficiency retrofits; GOP Jon Hntsman flip-flop-flips on climate denial; 1st floating wind turbine deployed in Atlantic ... PLUS: See for yourself: Time history of atmospheric CO2 ... and much, MUCH more! ...
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 TODAY'S VERY SCARY RADIO REPORT: Superbugs are on the rise! And Monsanto is helping!; Extreme drought and climate change affecting power plants in the US!; PLUS: It's 'Dirty Air Week' in the U.S. House, the scariest place of all!!! ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Former Solyndra employees allege mismanagement; Solyndra executives will plead 5th in hearings; US will implement international standards for oil market transparency; BP Oil not degrading on Gulf floor; CERN Study: Are cosmic rays causing global warming? [No.]; $44m settlement in SF Bay oil spill; Interior Dept. confronts growing costs of wild horse control; World Bank: Ditch fossil fuel subsidies to fight climate change; Monsanto wins lawsuit against soybean farmer; Toxic BPA turning up in children's soup cans; Typhoon Roke spares Fukushima nuclear plant; Russia extends life of aging reactors; Rick Perry's dirty deals with Big Coal; TX, KS sue EPA over air pollution rule ... PLUS: Foreign land grabs in Africa threaten greater poverty ...