The BRAD BLOG Because it's not about Right or Left, it's about Right and Wrong! 2015-05-25T03:46:34Z Copyright 2015 WordPress PDiddie <![CDATA[Memorial Day Weekend Toons]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=11195 2015-05-24T12:41:10Z 2015-05-24T12:41:10Z Toons

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Perry Dorrell blogs as PDiddie at Brains and Eggs, usually on topics concerning the strange brew of Texas politics. He's also on Twitter @PDiddie.


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Brad Friedman <![CDATA[Gov. Don Siegelman's Son on Father's Case; 'Bin Laden's Bookshelf': 'BradCast' 5/22/2015]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=11194 2015-05-22T22:18:30Z 2015-05-22T22:18:30Z (Uncategorized) Election Irregularities Election Reform Karl Rove 9/11 BRAD BLOG Media Appearance Maryland Election Fraud Alabama Rights And Freedoms BlackBoxVoting.org Accountability Dept. of Justice Barack Obama Don Siegelman Bush Legacy KPFK BradCast We've reported for years about the ease with which foreign entities could hack a computerized US election with little possibility of being discovered. Well, guess what classic book was reportedly found on 'Bin Laden's Bookshelf'? We discuss on today's BradCast!

Then, my guest is the imprisoned Gov. Don Siegelman (D-AL)'s son Joseph Siegelman (pictured above with his father and sister Dana just before his father was sent back to federal prison in 2012 to serve out his 6.5 year sentence on "bribery" charges), on the latest disturbing ruling by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals concerning his father's appeal for a new trial and/or reduced sentence in his outrageously politicized prosecution by the Bush Administration.

Joseph, now an attorney, explains what the court's decision this week means; where the case goes from here; whether he thinks the Obama Administration will ever right the wrong; and how you can help to restore justice in this matter.

"This is something that shouldn't happen in America," he told me. "If a sitting governor can be unseated and prosecuted and imprisoned for something that he did not do --- and for something that had not even been considered a crime in this country until he was convicted of it --- what chance do anyone one of us have?"

That and a bit more, including listener mail and some breaking voting news out of MD, on today's BradCast...

Download MP3 or listen online below...
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Brad Friedman <![CDATA['Bin Laden Bookshelf' Reportedly Contained Classic Book About Hacking Electronic Elections]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=11193 2015-05-22T13:35:55Z 2015-05-22T13:35:55Z Greg Palast CIA 9/11 Election Fraud BlackBoxVoting.org Internet Voting Bush Legacy We've long warned about the dangers that electronic voting and tabulation systems pose to our democracy, not just from simple insider attacks and domestic hacking, but also from foreign governments and other, even shadier entities.

In 2009, just by way of one of scores (if not hundreds) of examples, we covered the chilling presentation given by the CIA's cybersecurity expert Steven Stigall to a panel convened by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) during a field hearing in Orlando, FL. Stigalll warned at the time: "You heard the old adage 'follow the money. I follow the vote. And wherever the vote becomes an electron and touches a computer, that's an opportunity for a malicious actor potentially to...make bad things happen."

"For several years," Stigall said, according to the transcript [WORD], "I've worked with others in my organization to try and identify foreign threats, emphasis on 'foreign threats,' to important U.S. computer systems. A few years ago it occurred to us that that should include potential foreign threats to the computers upon which our elections in this country are increasingly dependent."

Well, funny thing. Remember that Osama Bin Laden guy? On Thursday, The Hill and others published a list [PDF] of about forty English-language books said to have been found at Bin Laden's compound when he was killed. Among them, amusingly enough, were "9/11 conspiracy theory" books. Another was the New York Times best-seller The Best Democracy Money Can Buy by our friend, investigative reporter Greg Palast.

Interesting. But look at what else showed is said to have been found on Osama's bookshelf...

Yes, that's right. The 2004 classic that gave the name to so much of what we've been covering on this very blog since that infamous year, Black Box Voting: Ballot Tampering in the 21st Century, by my colleague Bev Harris, who I've interviewed countless times on The BradCast as well as for BRAD BLOG stories and who, like Palast, has even guest blogged here on occasion over the years.

When I called her last night for comment, she pointed me to a quick piece she posted in response at her site, BlackBoxVoting.org, on Thursday, describing the revelation as "Bizarre. Odd. Stunning."

The book is now available for free download on her website as she's working on several new books, including what she told me was to be a "completely revised and updated version of Black Box Voting for 2016."

"As I thought about it, I couldn't understand how Osama could really have gotten his hands on a physical copy of the book," she said. "Only about 800 physical copies went out, though by now we've had well over half a million downloads of it. The only time physical copies were available, it was only 2 1/2 years after the Sept. 11 attack, and Osama was supposedly hiding in a cave having dialysis or something." She says it's likely that Bin Laden had one of the freely available Internet versions of the book.

In 2004, she notes, during the Bush Administration, someone from D.C. had requested a copy of the book "for the White House Library". Harris added, "If the White House Library still has it then I guess the book is on Obama's bookshelf and Osama's bookshelf. Quite a demographic spread."

With a nod to Palast and some of the others on the list, she told me, "It's good company to be in." She added: "It looked to me from his reading list, he was looking at how fucked up the Western World really is."

Maybe so. But recall the warnings from the CIA's Stigall to that EAC-convened panel, warning of "all of the things that foreign actors try and do to effect the outcome of the election long before Election Day."

"I've referred a lot to hackers in this presentation," he said at the time. "I'm not really concerned about the 18-year old wannabes. I'm concerned about the 28 or the 38-year old folks who have been doing this a long time and who may be under contract for some other organization. In other words, an organized structured effort to throw an election."

Now who would possibly want to do that?

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Brad Friedman <![CDATA[State Sen. Al Davis (R) on 'Veto Proof' Vote to Ban Nebraska's Death Penalty: 'BradCast' 5/21/2015]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=11192 2015-05-22T00:21:15Z 2015-05-22T00:21:15Z Iraq War Election Reform BRAD BLOG Media Appearance Alabama Accountability Death Penalty Environment Democrats Republicans Nebraska Don Siegelman Bush Legacy KPFK Jeb Bush Election 2016 BradCast After a bunch of breaking news on The BradCast today --- out of Baltimore, on Gov. Don Siegelman (D-AL)'s rejected criminal appeal, on Jeb Bush's latest easily disprovable nonsense in hopes to rewriting Iraq and his brother's criminal culpability in it --- I was delighted to move on to some very encouraging news out of Nebraska.

On Wednesday, in Nebraska's unique, non-partisan unicameral state Senate, Republicans and Democrats voted --- with a "veto proof majority" --- to end the use of the death penalty in the state. The move, in the pretty deeply Republican state, seems to have shocked many, particularly with the state's Republican Governor having just announced his purchase of a a new batch of drugs to kill people with...from a very questionable source.

State Sen. Al Davis (R-District 43), one of those who voted to end the state's immoral killing of prisoners, joined me on today's show to explain why he voted as he did (on this matter and in the recent bipartisan rejection of a polling place Photo ID voting restriction); whether he believes the "veto proof" majority on the death penalty ban will hold at this point; why the state's unicameral, non-partisan chamber seems to result in common sense alliances rarely seen elsewhere across our dysfunctional partisan landscape; and what other surprising moves (yes, increased taxes and more!) may soon come out of the majority Republican statehouse.

All of that today, along with a thought on David Letterman's departure and Desi Doyen with the latest, very oily, Green News Report...

Download MP3 or listen online below...
[See post to listen to audio]

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While we post The BradCast here everyday, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!

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Desi Doyen <![CDATA['Green News Report' - May 21, 2015]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=11191 2015-05-21T18:05:20Z 2015-05-21T18:05:20Z California National Security Accountability Environment Barack Obama Republicans Los Angeles Green News BP Oil Disaster Natural gas Coal Oil Climate change Oceans Louie Gohmert

 

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Major oil spill off the Santa Barbara coast; Another settlement reached in 2010 BP Gulf Oil Spill; Fossil fuels subsidized to the tune of $5 trillion a year; PLUS: President Obama to Coast Guard cadets: climate change is a threat to global and national security ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

Link:
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Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): US House Republicans Vote To Restrict Research Funding; Chinese Fleets Illegally Fish in West African Waters, Greenpeace Says; In Heavily Fracked Ohio County, Unsafe Levels of Toxic Pollutants; Avian Flu Outbreak Takes Poultry Producers Into Uncharted Territory... PLUS: Experts Blast New York Times Hit Piece On EPA... and much, MUCH more! ...

STORIES DISCUSSED ON TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...

'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...

  • Experts Blast New York Times Hit Piece On EPA (Climate Progress) [emphasis added]:
    The New York Times put a 1,700-word piece on its front page Tuesday that accuses the EPA of violating federal laws on grassroots campaigning. The paper ran the story despite knowing the accusation is not true, a fact that is buried deep in the article. How is that journalism?
  • US House Republicans Vote To Restrict Research Funding (AFP):
    US House Republicans voted to place limits on funding for scientific research, including climate change studies, as they passed legislation that more narrowly defines their priorities.
  • Chinese Fleets Illegally Fish in West African Waters, Greenpeace Says (NY Times):
    Chinese fishing fleets, driven by plummeting catches close to home, are flocking to distant West African waters, where they engage in ecologically ruinous bottom trawling, subterfuge and other illegal activities that threaten marine resources in a region already under pressure from overfishing, according to a report issued on Wednesday by Greenpeace.
  • In Heavily Fracked Ohio County, Unsafe Levels of Toxic Pollutants (InsideClimate News):
    New study finds fracking releases cancer-causing chemicals into the air many times higher than the EPA considers safe.
  • Avian Flu Outbreak Takes Poultry Producers Into Uncharted Territory (NPR):
    An avian flu outbreak is sweeping across the Midwest at a frightening pace, ravaging chicken and turkey farms and leaving officials stumped about the virus's seemingly unstoppable spread.
  • Canadian Aboriginal Group Rejects $1 Billion Fee for Natural Gas Project (NY Times):
    About a decade ago, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that native groups like the Lax Kw'alaams that never signed treaties must be consulted and accommodated when projects cross their land.
  • Clean Power Plan Would Save Thousands of Lives Each Year (Scientific American):
    [Dallas Burtraw, a senior fellow at Resources for the Future and one of the study's co-authors] said that when the power sector begins shifting away from coal-fired power plants and toward energy sources with smaller carbon footprints, like natural gas, wind and solar, the health benefits would begin materializing immediately. "Really, we are talking about a matter of days to weeks," he said.
  • Rate Of Climate Change To Soar By 2020s, With Arctic Warming 1°F Per Decade (Climate Progress):
    New research from a major national lab projects that the rate of climate change, which has risen sharply in recent decades, will soar by the 2020s. This worrisome projection - which has implications for extreme weather, sea level rise, and permafrost melt - is consistent with several recent studies.
  • Now's Your Chance to Help Save the Imperiled Monarch Butterfly-and Get Paid to Do So (Take Part) [emphasis added]:
    Another threat, according to Grant, has been well-intentioned individuals who have planted a tropical form of milkweed, which competes with native varieties and is not beneficial to monarchs or other pollinators.


FOR MORE on Climate Science and Climate Change, go to our Green News Report: Essential Background Page

  • Skeptical Science: Database with FULL DEBUNKING of ALL Climate Science Denier Myths
  • 4 Scenarios Show What Climate Change Will Do To The Earth, From Pretty Bad To Disaster (Fast CoExist):
    But exactly how bad is still an open question, and a lot depends not only on how we react, but how quickly. The rate at which humans cut down on greenhouse gas emissions--if we do choose to cut them--will have a large bearing on how the world turns out by 2100, the forecasts reveal.
  • How to Solve Global Warming: It's the Energy Supply (Scientific American):
    Restraining global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius will require changing how the world produces and uses energy to power its cities and factories, heats and cools buildings, as well as moves people and goods in airplanes, trains, cars, ships and trucks, according to the IPCC. Changes are required not just in technology, but also in people's behavior.
  • Warning: Even in the best-case scenario, climate change will kick our asses (Grist)
  • NASA Video: Warming over the last 130 years, and into the next 100 years:

  • ]]>
    Brad Friedman <![CDATA[BREAKING: 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Denies Siegelman Request for New Trial]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=11190 2015-05-21T01:28:08Z 2015-05-21T01:28:08Z BRAD BLOG Karl Rove Tom DeLay BRAD BLOG Media Appearance Alabama Accountability Don Siegelman Bush Legacy Mark Fuller From AP late today:

    A federal appeals court has upheld the bribery conviction and prison sentence of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman.

    The 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that Siegelman was not entitled to a new trial. The judges also upheld Siegelman's 78-month sentence.

    The ruling is the latest legal blow to Siegelman, who has been fighting to overturn his 2006 conviction in a government corruption case. A federal jury convicted Siegelman of appointing former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy to a state board in exchange for campaign donations.

    Siegelman, a Democrat, had argued that a prosecutor with ties to GOP politics remained involved in his case despite her recusal. Federal judges said there was no evidence she influenced the prosecution team

    Siegelman is projected to get out of prison in 2017.

    See below for an appearance of mine on Thom Hartmann's television show in 2013 discussing the status of the Siegelman case at the time. Hartmann describes him as "America's Political Prisoner". The appearance coincided with the dismissal of the conviction against former Republican U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay for money laundering hundreds of thousands of dollars. 113 bi-partisan former state Attorneys General have stated that what Siegelman was convicted of had never been a crime until he was charged with it.

    The court's decision, however, could help to finally clear the way for clemency or a pardon from the President, as advocates have long sought. See Jeffrey Toobin's January 2015 New Yorker column calling for same.

    Meanwhile, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Fuller (the former head of the Alabama GOP and George W. Bush-appointed federal judge who oversaw Siegelman's trial and sentencing after refusing to recuse himself despite long-held grudges against the popular Democratic governor) remains a free man. His criminal record has been expunged despite having been arrested for allegedly beating his wife in a hotel room last summer. (911 call here and embed below.) Unless impeached by Congress, Fuller will retain his $200k/year seat on the federal bench for life.

    More info at Free-Don.org.

    USA. USA. USA.

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    My 2013 appearance on Hartmann's show and a video snippet of the chilling 911 call from Judge Fuller's wife in 2014, both follow below...


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    Brad Friedman <![CDATA[Untethered From Reality: 'BradCast' 5/20/2015]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=11189 2015-05-20T23:08:38Z 2015-05-20T23:08:38Z Election Irregularities Iraq War Mainstream Corporate Media New Jersey BRAD BLOG Media Appearance Rights And Freedoms U.S. Constitution Wisconsin Accountability Environment Fairness Doctrine Republicans Los Angeles FCC Torture Election 2012 Bush Legacy Chris Christie KPFK WI Recall Elections Scott Walker Oil Election 2016 BradCast We've been talking about reality here a lot lately, and the difficulty a huge portion of our population has with it.

    On today's BradCast: Our nation's untethering from reality, as it affects accountability for Iraq War war crimes and torture, the 2016 race, climate change and much more. We can't fix our problems until we can agree on the facts, but Governors Chris Christie and Scott Walker remind us once again that we are nowhere near such agreement. (Even as we must take a side trip through the Bush Family's relationship with Nazi Germany to help understand it all.)

    Journalist-turned-media-activist and documentarian Sue Wilson from Media Action Center joins us to discuss the FCC ruling that upends the First Amendment and Walker and his supporter's efforts to make things even worse in a Wisconsin criminal investigation into his 2012 recall election that may have an enormous impact on the entire nation in 2016.

    Plus: Minimum wage boosted to $15/hour here in Los Angeles; Another huge oil spill in Santa Barbara; and much more on today's BradCast...

    Download MP3 or listen online below...
    [See post to listen to audio]

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    While we post The BradCast here everyday, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!

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    Brad Friedman <![CDATA[Rep. Hank Johnson on Obama's Executive Order to Demilitarize the Police: 'BradCast' 5/19/2015]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=11188 2015-05-19T23:53:57Z 2015-05-19T23:53:57Z Ohio Florida Election Reform Texas BRAD BLOG Media Appearance War On Terror Maryland Rights And Freedoms Vermont New Hampshire Barack Obama Dept. of Defense Democrats Republicans Hank Johnson KPFK War on Drugs Election 2016 BradCast Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA-4) returned to The BradCast today to take a bit of a victory lap after President Obama's Executive Order this week restricting the flow of heavy armaments from the Dept. of Defense to state and local police via the Pentagon's 1033 program.

    Johnson spoke with us most recently last summer, after Ferguson blew up, and as he was preparing to file his "Stop Militarization Law Enforcement Act of 2015" [PDF]. Long before that, he had been working to roll back the obscene militarization of our local police. So he was justifiably happy about this week's development, even while explaining that its still important to pass his legislation because Executive Orders are easily undone by Congress and Republicans are, somewhat schizophrenically, in the process of actually trying to expand the 1033 program.

    Then we cover a spate of new voting laws working their way through statehouses around the country from TX to OH to NH to FL to VT to MD. While most off the new laws in Republican states are predictably restrictive and in Democratic states more expansive, there is one pleasantly surprising exception to that rule this week.

    Also, millions of spiders falling from the skies in Australia! And Desi Doyen joins for the latest Green News Report, which actually includes a some encouraging good for a change!...

    Download MP3 or listen online below...
    [See post to listen to audio]

    * * *

    While we post The BradCast here everyday, and you can hear it across all of our great affiliate stations and websites, to automagically get new episodes as soon as they're available sent right to your computer or personal device, subscribe for free at iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or our native RSS feed!

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    Desi Doyen <![CDATA['Green News Report' - May 19, 2015]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=11187 2015-05-19T18:36:50Z 2015-05-19T18:36:50Z Environment Republicans Green News EPA Natural gas Canada Oil Climate change Shell Oil Seattle

     

    IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: 'The Paddle in Seattle' - 'kayaktivists' hit the water to stop Shell's Arctic drilling; Good news for breathers - study finds new rules for power plants will save lives...but Republicans already trying to stop them; PLUS: Indigenous tribe in British Columbia says 'NO' to natural gas billions ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

    Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

    Link:
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    Got comments, tips, love letters, hate mail? Drop us a line at GreenNews@BradBlog.com or right here at the comments link below. All GNRs are always archived at GreenNews.BradBlog.com.

    IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Massive Antarctic ice shelf will disappear in a few years; El Nino set to upset commodities markets; Texas bans local fracking bans; Emails show oil tycoon sought to fire fracking earthquake researchers; US extreme heat waves to rise six-fold by 2100; Pope Francis - destroyers of environment will face God's wrath; Disease spreads to US salamanders; Goldman Sachs projects crude oil prices to remain low through 2020... PLUS: Shell Assures Nation Most Arctic Wildlife To Go Extinct Well Before Next Spill ... and much, MUCH more! ...

    STORIES DISCUSSED ON TODAY'S 'GREEN NEWS REPORT'...

    'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (Stuff we didn't have time for in today's audio report)...


    FOR MORE on Climate Science and Climate Change, go to our Green News Report: Essential Background Page

  • Skeptical Science: Database with FULL DEBUNKING of ALL Climate Science Denier Myths
  • 4 Scenarios Show What Climate Change Will Do To The Earth, From Pretty Bad To Disaster (Fast CoExist):
    But exactly how bad is still an open question, and a lot depends not only on how we react, but how quickly. The rate at which humans cut down on greenhouse gas emissions--if we do choose to cut them--will have a large bearing on how the world turns out by 2100, the forecasts reveal.
  • How to Solve Global Warming: It's the Energy Supply (Scientific American):
    Restraining global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius will require changing how the world produces and uses energy to power its cities and factories, heats and cools buildings, as well as moves people and goods in airplanes, trains, cars, ships and trucks, according to the IPCC. Changes are required not just in technology, but also in people's behavior.
  • Warning: Even in the best-case scenario, climate change will kick our asses (Grist)
  • NASA Video: Warming over the last 130 years, and into the next 100 years:

  • ]]>
    Sue Wilson <![CDATA[Scott Walker and GOP Turning First Amendment Rights Upside Down]]> http://bradblog.com/?p=11186 2015-05-19T16:35:30Z 2015-05-19T16:35:30Z Election Irregularities Election Reform Rights And Freedoms Wisconsin Accountability Fairness Doctrine Republicans FCC Election 2012 Scott Walker Election 2016 It's been an entire year since the First Amendment suffered a gigantic blow as a result of the 2012 Scott Walker recall campaign in Wisconsin, though it's one that very few Americans above and beyond astute BRAD BLOG readers, even know about. And now, there is another threat to Free Speech, stemming from that same recall of GOP Presidential hopeful Walker looming at the Wisconsin State Supreme Court.

    Walker's attorneys are now arguing at the Wisconsin State Supreme Court that it is a violation of the First Amendment rights to even investigate whether the Walker campaign broke state law by the controversial candidate personally soliciting funds from non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(4) groups so donors to his campaign could remain secret. In a separate gambit, they also tried to make that case to the United States Supreme Court, which early Monday sent the case back to Wisconsin.

    And it now appears that Right Wing Radio talkers --- at the core of a very real First Amendment blow suffered one year ago --- are, once again, in the thick of all of it.

    This is all related to what Media Action Center (MAC) members discovered during the 2012 recall campaign when talk hosts on Wisconsin radio giants WTMJ and WISN gave hundreds of hours of free airtime for GOP luminaries like Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus and Wisconsin GOP Vice Chair Brian Schimming in order to promote and recruit volunteers for Walker during that contentious campaign....

    'Free' speech?

    Supporters of Walker's opponent, Democrat Tom Barrett, contacted the two stations asking for comparable time under a long-established FCC rule called the "Zapple Doctrine," and were denied their request. It was one year ago when the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s Media Bureau, in response to complaints filed by MAC, publicly decided that Zapple is no longer in effect, making it perfectly legal for radio stations to provide millions of dollars in free airtime over our public airwaves for political operatives to promote and even recruit volunteers for their candidates' campaigns, without allowing supporters of opposing party's candidates on the air at all.

    In doing so, the FCC cited the First Amendment rights of the radio stations to promote whomever they wish (even though the opponents' supporters equally own the airwaves, but aren't allowed access to the microphones.)

    MAC (of which I am the founder,) could have appealed the stunning FCC decision, but with the public interest attorneys tied up with issues related to the FCC's Net Neutrality ruling, there was no one available to assist. Plus, we always knew that the original Zapple Doctrine was a hybrid of the Fairness Doctrine rule and Section 315a of the statutory Communications Act, which guarantees equal time for political candidates. We knew the FCC could go one of two ways with its decision: the agency could endorse comparable time for candidates' supporters under Section 315a of the federal law, or it could take the easy way out and say the Zapple Doctrine was thrown out along with the Fairness Doctrine --- a set of rules formerly used by the FCC to help interpret and enforce the Communications Act.

    No surprise, the agency took the easy way out and declared that when the Fairness Doctrine was killed (at the request of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s), so was the Zapple Doctrine along with it.

    Still, we had to file the Complaint to make the point that giving hundreds of minutes of free air time to just one political party, the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars of in-kind contributions to that party's candidate --- over our publicly-owned airwaves --- is not the way it should be. Sometimes you have to firmly establish something is wrong before you can make it right.

    It didn't take long for the Right Wing spin machine to turn the ruling on its head to claim a giant victory for the First Amendment. Just one week after the FCC decision, Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai (well known for his partisan political antics) wrote a piece for the Right Wing website RedState.com, entirely mischaracterizing MAC's case while waving the flag of First Amendment "free speech". His Orwellian summation:

    The end of the Zapple Doctrine presents an important lesson: There will always be someone eager to manipulate the levers of government to serve a political end. It is our responsibility to stand against such efforts and the tactics of political intimidation. We must continue to reject attempts to micromanage the marketplace of ideas and limit media choices. We must continue to empower consumers to make their own decisions and give news outlets the flexibility to make their own editorial judgments. And we must always stand up for the First Amendment --- even when, especially when, it's "controversial."

    Unfortunately, that sort of up is down argument has now become all-too-typical GOP rhetoric. Deny your political opponents free speech on the airwaves we ALL own, then call it a victory for the First Amendment.

    Republicans silencing opponents while claiming violation of First Amendment free speech rights is becoming a familiar meme, one that, once again, leads directly back to the Scott Walker recall campaign --- and to Right Wing talk radio.

    Criminal investigations

    There have been two investigations into illegal activity by Presidential hopeful Scott Walker's campaigns for Governor. The first of the two so-called "John Doe" investigations by state prosecutors netted six convictions of his top aides. That probe also revealed that the Walker campaign had directly coordinated with WTMJ talker Charlie Sykes, one of five right wing hosts spotlighted in the MAC case.

    The second John Doe investigation is looking into illegal collaboration between Walker's campaign and various dark money groups, including Americans for Prosperity and The Wisconsin Club for Growth (WiCFG), during the recall. That probe focuses on political tactics that, among other things, allowed Wisconsin billionaire John Menard, Jr. to secretly donate $1.5 million to WiCFG, which then allegedly funneled it into Walker's recall campaign, followed by giant business awards from Walker gubernatorial administration. As investigative reporter Michael Isikoff wrote for Yahoo News in March:

    Some court records that have been made public about the new fundraising probe, known as "John Doe 2," show that, when he first faced a potential recall election in 2011, Walker had personally solicited donations to the Wisconsin Club for Growth in order "to ensure correct messaging" in ads that were supporting his policies, according to an email sent by one of his fundraisers. His aides referred to the group as "your 501c 4," a reference to the provision of the tax code under which nondisclosing advocacy groups are organized.

    Key to the effort, the email indicated, was secrecy. "Stress that donations to WiCFG [Wisconsin Club for Growth] are not disclosed and can accept corporate donations without limits," reads one June 20, 2011, email from a Walker aide to the governor prior to one of his out-of-state fundraising trips. "Let them know you can accept corporate contributions and it is not reported."

    Such tactics are illegal in Wisconsin, but Walker attorneys have been battling the state investigation in federal courts, arguing --- what else? --- that the fundraising groups' First Amendment rights are being violated by the investigation. Writes Isikoff:

    One federal judge, concluding that the investigation was a violation of the free-speech rights of the advocacy groups, ordered last year that the probe be shut down and directed prosecutors "to permanently destroy" all the evidence they had obtained. That order was later reversed, and next month the Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether the investigation should proceed. The outcome could well determine whether Walker will be confronted with questions about the secret donations --- and any benefits the contributors might have received --- while he runs for president.

    Which brings me back to talk radio. "John Doe 2" revealed that, at the same time MAC was requesting comparable air time for Walker's opponent during the recall, WTMJ's Charlie Sykes wasn't just exercising his Freedom of Speech, but may well have been directly coordinating with the Walker campaign. And not just Sykes, but radio talker and Fox "News" host Sean Hannity as well.

    According to Marie Rohde at WisPolitics.com last year:

    John Doe investigators planned to issue subpoenas and search warrants for radio personalities Charlie Sykes and Sean Hannity as part of their secret probe into coordination between conservative groups and Gov. Scott Walker's campaign, according to a lawsuit released today.

    Why, exactly, Sykes and Hannity were to be subpoenaed, we do not yet know. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has itself been acting in secretive ways, not even allowing oral arguments to be heard in the case, as Lisa Kaiser of Milwaukee's Shepard Express' reports. Hopefully, when the Court makes its decision, we'll find out.

    Unless, of course, making public information available to the public somehow violates the First Amendment.

    * * *

    Sue Wilson is a media activist, director of Public Interest Pictures' Broadcast Blues, and a 22 year veteran of broadcast journalism. Her numerous awards include Emmy, AP, RTNDA, and PRNDI for work at CBS, PBS, FOX, and NPR. She is the editor of the media criticism blog, Sue Wilson Reports and founder of the Media Action Center.


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