Republicans enjoy pretending to be "tough on terrorism". But, as with most things they pretend to be, they are not. If they actually were, they'd have sprung into action long ago to deal with the massive infrastructure vulnerability of our antiquated nationwide power grid.
As the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) warned some time ago, as per a secret memo recently revealed by Wall Street Journal's Rebecca Smith [subscription req'd], the entire nationwide grid could be brought down by an attack on as few as 9 of the nation's 55,000 electrical substations during a heat wave. Knock out a transformer manufacturer at the same time and the power --- nationwide --- would stay collapsed "for at least 18 months, probably longer".
Of course, after Smith's report, the U.S. government is not angry at the lack of action to protect against the vulnerability. They are mad at Smith for reporting it, even though she withheld key details.
Even if you did see what happened on Tuesday, you should tune in to this week's show, as I suspect you'll get details on the various plots, cover-ups and related schemes that you haven't yet heard. I was joined to discuss the mess with our old friend Marcy Wheeler, the encyclopedic national security expert from Emptywheel.net and now Senior Policy Adviser at The Intercept.
She's been tracking this since at least 2009, and we went through the remarkable timeline beginning with Bush's "Enhanced Interrogation" torture program just after 9/11, through the CIA's attempted cover-up, shredding of videotapes and removal of documents from the Senate staffer's computers, on up to yesterday's explosive comments from DiFi and the implausible denials from CIA Chief John Brennan (and the calls for criminal charges by both parties) which Wheeler and others are now describing as a bona fide "Constitutional Crisis".
This is an extraordinary story. It's Spy v. Overseer; CIA v. U.S. Senate; Executive Branch v. Legislative Branch; DiFi v. Brennan; Hypocrisy v. Reality; Torture & Cover-ups v. Rule of Law & Constitution. And it all could, as Mother Jones' David Corn argues, very well "undermine the basis for secret government" itself.
In the second part of the show, we covered several much more encouraging news items from the past several days, as well as the latest Green News Report. Buckle up and enjoy!
On Tuesday, the L.A. City Council voted to join cities like New York and Chicago by banning e-cigarette use in the same public spaces where tobacco use is banned, such as "farmers' markets, parks, recreational areas, beaches, indoor workplaces such as bars and nightclubs, outdoor dining areas and other places where lighting up is banned."
On this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio I spoke with L.A. City Councilmember Paul Koretz (CD5) about why they voted to impose the ban, despite the dearth of evidence that e-cig 'vaping' is harmful to either the user or anyone else, and the evidence (include my own personal story) that vaping is, hands down, the most effective way for smokers to stop smoking. In fact, as I describe during the show, I view it as a "miracle" that will save countless lives and that banning it --- or making it harder to vape in any way, without good reason --- will, quite frankly, result in countless unnecessary deaths.
Even Koretz admitted during my interview that there's a "99% possibility" that vaping is "much safer than smoking".
But he was low-balling it, frankly. As you'll hearing during the show, this is a very personal issue for me. But you can decide for yourself if Koretz makes the case for the L.A. City Council's ban. Either way, the ban will only go into effect if Mayor Eric Garcetti approves it. Garcetti can be contacted here.
My great thanks to Koretz for joining us at the last minute, and for sticking around for tough questioning from both me and callers.
UPDATE 3/7/2014: PandoDaily's David Holmes pulls together a lot of the known (and unknown) information about e-cigs and describes the L.A. City Council's ordinance "to treat e-cigarettes like conventional cigarettes" as "irrational and bad policy."
[T]his proposal is misguided because it would do a public health disservice, discouraging smokers from switching to less-harmful electronic cigarettes that do not combust tobacco and therefore, do not create second-hand smoke.
As a former president of the American Lung Association, I have seen how e-cigarettes have become the subject of much confusion and misinformation, which has led to a classic case of guilt by association.
E-cigarettes may deliver nicotine and look like cigarettes. But there the similarities end.
Including e-cigarettes in the city's smoking ban would be a step in the wrong direction. It would send the unintended message to smokers that electronic cigarettes are as dangerous as traditional cigarettes, locking many smokers into traditional cigarette use. This is a public health outcome we do not want.
E-cigarettes are a fundamentally different product from combustible tobacco cigarettes and should not fall under the same rules and restrictions. Rather, we should encourage current smokers to move down the ladder of risk by implementing regulations that recognize these differences.
As a society, we should continue our laser focus on eliminating tobacco use. But a premature "regulate first, ask questions later" approach that equates e-cigarettes to combustible tobacco cigarettes only serves as an obstacle to that goal. The Los Angeles City Council should pause its campaign against electronic cigarettes until the FDA experts offer guidance on how the product should be regulated. To do otherwise is to ignore an opportunity to save millions of smokers from a lot of harm.
I've been on Abby Martin's Breaking the Set on RT America a number of times (see here and here), but on Wednesday it was my first time being on the show along with the delightful Desi Doyen, my co-host on the Green News Report.
As I was digging into the archives, I was reminded again that while many folks know us for our coverage of election integrity issues, voting machine problems, whistleblowers, etc., it was our scoop about a story concerning the George W. Bush White House in the lead-up to the 2004 President Election that was our first to "go national" and have a direct effect on the national political discourse.
It was before we had even begun digging as deep as we eventually would on the e-voting beat, and the fallout from the story itself resulted in national pick-up by the MSM, pressure on officials and questions at White House press conferences, an academic study (years later) and, the most fun part, the Bush White House eventually being forced to spend what must have been an enormous amount of man hours restoring date to the White House website in the week before the actual election that year...
The great Joe Romm of the even greater Climate Progress returns to discuss Obama's schizophrenic "All of the Above" climate policies offered in this week's State of the Union address, and as demonstrated in the year since Romm last joined us on the KPFK/Pacifica RadioBradCast just after the 2013 Inaugural address.
As a former acting Assistant Secretary of Energy during the Clinton Administration and founder of one of the most important climate blogs going, Romm offers helpful insight on the dangers of Obama's Jekyll/Hyde energy strategy, on the likelihood of the Keystone XL pipeline receiving final White House approval, on whether Obama truly "gets it", and on the tantalizingly cool new Years of Living Dangerously series begin in April on Showtime, on which he serves as Chief Science Editor.
P.S. If you use iTunes and would like to listen to The BradCast that way, you can now subscribe (for free) over there right here. And please feel free to leave us a good review there at the same time, if you are so inclined!
A number of unhappy "good government" groups will file a lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission next month, in hopes that the courts will force the FEC to enforce the federal campaign finance laws that the FEC is, supposedly, there to enforce.
The organizations are particularly unhappy about Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS "behemoth" outfit, which has raised hundreds of millions over the last several years to elect Republican candidates to office, recently receiving a pass from the FEC, even after the agency's Office of General Counsel found reason to believe Rove's group clearly violated campaign finance laws.
The news about the groups' intention to file suit was offered on the KPFK/Pacifica RadioBradCast this week by my guest, Craig Holman, the Government Affairs Lobbyist for Public Citizen's Congress Watch. Public Citizen, along with the Campaign Legal Center, Center for Media and Democracy, and Protect Our Elections filed the initial complaint over campaign spending in 2010 by Rove's then new non-profit 501(c)(4) organization. They now plan to sue the FEC for failing to do their job, Holman explained on the show on Wednesday. [Disclosure: Protect Our Elections is a campaign created by VelvetRevolution.us, an organization co-founded by The BRAD BLOG, though we weren't personally involved with either the complaint or the upcoming suit.]
"What's happened with the Federal Election Commission is," Holman explained during my interview [posted in full at the end of this article], Senator "Mitch McConnell [R-KY], back in about 2008, realized that even though he can't get Congress to rescind campaign finance laws --- and he certainly can't sell the public on rescinding campaign finance laws --- he realized that if he were to appoint three Republican Commissioners to the FEC, he could ensure that the campaign finance laws don't get enforced. And that's exactly what has happened." Holman detailed how three-to-three deadlock votes on whether to pursue further action in most of the campaign finance rulings by the three Democratic and three Republican Commissioners on the FEC has increased "nine-fold" since 2008. A deadlock vote effectively ends the matter, even if wrong-doing had been found by the investigative staff, as is the case here.
In the original complaint against Rove's Crossroads GPS, the FEC's Office of General Counsel (OGC) found that the group had spent a majority of its funding on campaigning in 2010. If so, that's a violation of the law, since Rove's group should have filed with the FEC as a political committee, rather than as a 501(c)(4) which is supposed to be a non-electioneering "social welfare" organization. As a political committee, funders would have to be immediately disclosed, but as a (c)(4), the identity of those funding Rove's organization can remain a secret....
NJ Gov. Chris Christie's premiere on the national stage is not going so well.
I was joined on this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio by Bryan Murphy, the former employee of David Wildstein, Christie's Port Authority appointee and old high school chum who gave the order to shut down the George Washington Bridge access lanes from Fort Lee, NJ in the still-expanding "BridgeGate" scandal.
Murphy worked as the Managing Editor of Wildstein's PoliticsNJ.com website some years ago and is now an Asst. Professor at Baruch College. Along with another former Wildstein employee, MSNBC's Steve Kornacki, Murphy posited over the weekend that a "billion dollar development" adjacent to the GWB access lanes in Fort Lee --- a development that has been fought over for at least four decades, but is being finalized now --- could very well be at the heart of this scandal.
We discussed that, the scandal's effects on Christie's 2016 hopes, and what lies ahead as the investigations and subpoenas continue to peel back the rotten onion.
Then I was joined live from West Virginia by my friend Bob Kincaid of Head-On Radio for the latest on the ground in Freedom Industries' toxic chemical spill which has poisoned the drinking water for hundreds of thousands there --- and is now heading down river towards Ohio. Bob has been fighting the coal industry for years in WV and offers key insights that only an on-the-ground WV native can...and in the way that only Bob can!
We're still on the road, enjoying a rare bit of family time, but doing some housekeeping in the background.
As we told listeners of Green News Report before our holiday break, the GNR would be moving to a different server/feed after the first of the year. That feed is now up and good to go! Please adjust accordingly...
Finally, GNR listeners will likely very much appreciate our "Very Special BradCast Holiday Special" if you've yet to give it a listen. You'll hear both Desi and myself (in a number of different roles), and will most certainly appreciate some of the more subversive (and very GNR-related) messages in the last two segments of the special ("Buzz Edsel v. the Sun Stealers" and "Buzz Edsel and the Santa Surprise") in particular
Thanks! Happy holidays! And we'll be back with new GNRs and more next week!
Download it and curl on up to the radio hearth for some good old-fashioned, old-time radio fun (with a very BradCast twist!)
Breaking with tradition here, since we will be offering a rare pre-recorded BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio this week and next week (both Christmas Day and New Year's Day are on Wednesdays, when my show usually airs live), and since you may want to listen to it before going completely off grid over the holidays, I thought I'd release our Very Special BradCast Holiday Special here prior to its first KPFK airing at 3p PT/6p ET on Christmas Day this week.
For this very special special, we went back to some of our very oldest BradCasts, as originally aired in the 1930s and 1940s, and chose three different episodes of The BradCast Radio Theatre Players in performance of "Henry Ford's Science Fiction Theatre OF THE AIR!" In many cases, they are as timely today as when they first ran.
Some of you who are old enough, may remember when The BradCast was originally sponsored by the Ford Motor Company. For those who aren't, these episodes will hopefully be a delightful surprise, as they feature both Henry Ford himself, as well as myself, Desi Doyen and our old friend Paul Byrne who wrote all of the "Mighty Adventures of Buzz Edsel" episodes which you'll hear in this Very Special BradCast Holiday Special!
As the graphic above notes, the show includes Action! Adventure! And fun for the whole family! (Except Communists!) So curl on up to the old-time radio hearth and enjoy!...And a happy holidays to all...
• Or, if you prefer to listen to just one segment at a time:
PART 1: Intro & "Buzz Edsel versus the Giant Jupiterians!" MP3 Download or listen online below (appx. 24 mins)...
PART 2: "Buzz Edsel versus the Sun-Stealers!" MP3 Download or listen online below (appx. 16 mins)...
PART 3: "Buzz Edsel and the Santa Surprise!" MP3 Download or listen online below (appx. 16 mins)...
* * *
Since we are no longer sponsored by the Ford Motor Company, thanks in no small part to radio like that featured above, please feel free to help us out, since it's only readers like you that allow us to even have a chance to keep doing all that we do here at The BRAD BLOG...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" also very welcome!)
After many months of chatting back and forth via email, we were both finally able to work out our schedules so that I could talk with Dr. Michael E. Mann live on air today on the KPFK/Pacifica RadioBradCast!
Mann, for those who don't know, is the creator of the famous (or infamous, depending on whether you're sponsored and/or duped by the fossil fuel industry or not), "Hockey Stick Graph", which is likely the most controversial graph in history and certainly among the most consequential, as he agreed during our conversation today.
The "Hockey Stick Graph", showing stable and even declining temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere over the past thousand years, until they suddenly spike upwards over the last hundred (similar in shape to a hockey stick), thrust the physicist and climatologist Mann into a world of global warming and climate change controversy that he told me he could never have imagined. Following its publication over the past decade, while the recipient of many awards and honors, he has also received death threats, had his professional emails stolen (in the pretend "ClimateGate" scandal), and has been the focus of an unprecedented smear campaign by science denialists, including attacks by sitting U.S. Congressmen and (unsuccessful) subpoenas of his private documents and email by woeful Rightwing denialists and tools like (the happily outgoing) Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
Environmental activist and author Bill McKibben, who describes Mann as "a hero", has correctly noted that "very few people have sounded more important alarms about our climate future, and very few people have paid a higher price for doing so."
My conversation with Mann today ranged from all of that, to the parallel denier tactics employed by both Big Tobacco and Big Fossil Fuel, to whether or not scientists should enter the political realm, to why it is that so many TV weathermen seem to be denialists (though the vast majority actually aren't.)
Ruskin's report is chilling and the interview is disturbing. But the second half of the show is (largely) much less troubling! We update a lot of the stories we've been covering of late on The BradCast, most of them with good news updates!
So, curl on up to the holiday radio hearth and give it a listen...and all of my best to you and yours for Thanksgiving! (Or, as we call it around here since Chanukah falls on the same day this year: Thanksalatke!)