While a Rightwing caller, apparently, was on hold to participate in the show, I detailed the fact that the polling place Photo ID restriction part of the GOP law (just one part of their horrific anti-voting statute) would do nothing to prevent so-called "voter fraud", since polling place impersonation is, for all intents and purposes, non-existent in this country, as this 2012 study by a non-partisan news consortium, detailing every known and/or reported incident of election or voter fraud in all 50 states going back to 2000, illustrated once again.
Once the caller "Jay" finally made it to air, his admission was quite revealing --- and even courageous --- yet illustrative of just about everything that is wrong with our corporate media (and the politics it has created) these days.
What he had to say is not what you'd probably expect. Give it a listen...
Download MP3 or listen online below. [Appx 9 mins, lightly edited to cover for a commercial break between two segments]...
* * *
Please help support The BRAD BLOG's fiercely independent, award-winning coverage of your electoral system --- now in our ELEVENTH YEAR! --- as available from no other media outlet in the nation...
In the weeks since its debut on HBO, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver has slowly, if assuredly, evolved from being little more than a weekend knockoff of its progenitor The Daily Show, to finding its own unique voice and ability to take advantage of the more in-depth "coverage" afforded by the lack of self-censorship otherwise required for commercial television and longer segments due to the lack of on-the-clock commercial breaks necessary for its Comedy Central brethren.
That maturity and evolution revealed itself in full flower during last night's lengthy segment on America's horrific and insane --- and getting horrificker and insaner --- prison and incarceration policy.
Aside from being really really funny at times, the lengthy segment was one of the smartest, most complete, most accessible treatises I've seen on TV --- or anywhere really --- in a very long time, if ever.
It concludes with a laugh-out-loud Sesame Street-style song on the broken state of America's prison policy, after covering obscenities along the way such as the explosive growth in our prison population; the failed "War on Drugs"; racial disparities in sentencing; our grotesque cultural fetish with "hysterical" prison rape humor; some fairly jaw-dropping Congressional testimony (courtesy of Sen. Al Franken); to the privatization and profiteering of the national Prison Industrial Complex which has culminated, as a judge described in 2012, in "a cesspool of unconstitutional and inhuman acts".
This smart piece is well worth watching in full for too many reasons to list here...
[Note: For a somewhat less amusing, if no less important take on one related issue not mentioned by Oliver during his otherwise surprisingly complete overview, see the second part of Ernie Canning's three-part 2012 BRAD BLOG essay on the so-called "War on Drugs", which discusses how legalization might well disrupt the economics of the Prison Industrial Complex and its increasingly relied-upon pool of slave --- yes, slave --- laborers.]
CORRECTION: Our original article had the name of HBO's show wrong, as well as the quote from a federal judge about the privatized prison system in Mississippi. Both have been corrected above, thanks to commenter "Niemand" pointing out the errors below.
Citing a related-ish piece of mine last week over at Salon, Paul H. Rosenberg attempted to slay yet another Zombie Myth that just won't die over the weekend: The myth that JFK "stole" the 1960 election from Richard Nixon, and that Nixon was just too much of a gracious statesman to challenge the results.
It is, of course, all bullshit, as Rosenberg is forced to detail once again. Nonetheless, the enduring myth remains part and parcel --- and, often, False Exhibit #1 --- of the very same scam that Republicans still use to this very day in attempting to deligitimize their Democratic opponents through phony claims of "voter fraud".
Yes, I've been working hard this summer to encourage you to support our work here at The BRAD BLOG, so we can focus as much as possible on stuff that actually matters this fall (and hopefully beyond).
I have long been losing money each month and tapping into whatever meager savings I have, in order to keep producing, for as long as possible, the truly independent journalism, blogging, broadcasting, trouble-making and muckraking --- wholly free from corporate or partisan strings --- that I believe is so important...and that I hope that you do as well.
But we really need your help, before I'm entirely tapped out.
To that end, I'm willing to pull out (most of) whatever stops I have at my disposal. (Hey, at least I'm not as horrible as the DCCC!) So, with that in mind, my birthday is this weekend!
Care to make it an extra special swell birthday, by dropping a birthday gift --- large or small --- into the tip jar? Monthly sustaining contributions are especially appreciated, but any gift is tremendously needed and very much appreciated!
Thanks in advance for whatever you can afford. --- Brad
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
The measure not only calls upon Congress to "propose an amendment...to the United States Constitution" to overturn the infamous Citizens United decision and its progeny, but "to make clear that the rights protected by the United States Constitution are the rights of natural persons only."
A constitutional amendment that eliminated "corporate personhood" would not only invalidate Citizens United but would overturn the newly minted right to "corporate religious liberty" established in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Inc. (2014).
Unfortunately, the language Lieu included in the measure stops short of "money is not speech." Instead, the measure simply provides for "full regulation or limitation of campaign contributions and spending, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of wealth, may express their views to one another."
While the ballot proposition is not binding, and has produced critics who describe the measure as little more than a political stunt, if adopted by an overwhelming majority of California voters this fall, it could very well help to ignite a nationwide groundswell of opposition to a series of decisions by an oligarchic Supreme Court that have threatened the very survival of our constitutional representative democracy...
CLEGG: Regardless of what side you are on in this ancient, bloody conflict, no one can feel indifferent to the spectacle of this overcrowded, desperate sliver of land, Gaza, where so many thousands of people are suffering.
I will always defend --- I've done it on this program before - Israel's right to respond and to defend itself in the face of violence that is designed to terrorize Israeli citizens. I have spoken out repeatedly about Israel's very legitimate demands that Hamas and others recognize Israel's right to exist, and to exist peacefully within its own borders and provide security to its own citizens.
I have to say, though, I really do think now the Israeli response is --- appears to be deliberately disproportionate. It is amounting now to a disproportionate form of collective punishment. It is leading to a humanitarian crisis in Gaza which is just unacceptable. And I really would now call on the Israeli government to stop.
Interviewer: [crosstalk] Hamas would continue, though, Deputy Prime Minister...
CLEGG: Well, no, Israel of course retains the right to react, but I'm just saying you cannot see the humanitarian suffering in Gaza now, without concluding that --- and the very many numbers of deaths in Gaza --- without concluding that there is not much more going to be served in Israel's own interests.
And this is a point I keep wanting to make, because every time of course any politician speaks out, I guarantee I'll get lots of people kind of getting --- I quite understand to be quite passionate about this --- all I would say is, as someone who is a long-standing defender of Israel's right to defend itself, of Israel's right to defend its values and its own citizens, it is not in the long run in Israel's own interests to see this festering humanitarian crisis get ever worse in Gaza. Because all it does, of course, in the long run, is act as a kind of, almost as an incubation, if you will --- it incubates the next generation of violent extremists who want to do harm to Israel, so...
Interviewer: They might argue, though, that Hamas will just carry on shelling, Deputy Prime Minister.
CLEGG: Well, if Hamas does that then of course Israel reserves the right to respond. All I'm saying is today, we have the glimmer of hope that a five-hour humanitarian cease-fire has been entered into by both sides. And my plea today, to both sides, is please build on that. Because further deaths, more violence begetting more violence, is not in anybody's interests. And it's not going to help deliver the only way, the only way, in which Israelis will be able to live in security and peace in the long run. Which is a negotiated two-state peace settlement. It is the only way. And there's just no --- I know it's very easy as an outsider to pronounce on these things, but I really do think that the level of humanitarian suffering in Gaza now, the number of deaths, and the disproportionate --- the apparently, almost deliberate use of disproportionate response --- now needs to come to an end.
According to the UK's Evening Standard, before Israeli ground troops moved into Gaza on Friday: "More than 220 Palestinians have died in nine days of fighting and Hamas rockets have killed one Israeli."
For his part, UK Prime Minister Cameron reportedly told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week that he "strongly condemned the appalling attacks being carried out by Hamas against Israeli civilians," and he "reiterated the UK's staunch support for Israel in the face of such attacks, and underlined Israel's right to defend itself from them."
However, Cameron also is said to have signed on to an EU statement [PDF] on Wednesday, which "condemns the firing of rockets from Gaza into Israel and the indiscriminate targeting of civilians," but adds that the European Council "deeply deplores the loss of innocent lives and the high number of wounded civilians in the Gaza Strip as a result of Israeli military operations".
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Australia's Rightwing government repeals successful landmark carbon tax; Obama moves forward on bracing for global warming impacts; Record wildfire season burning from California to Alaska; PLUS: California gets tough on water wasters ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): English Channel all fished out; Jellyfish invasion off Maine coast; Feds ban bee-killing pesticides in wildlife refuges; North Dakota wrestles with radioactive oilfield waste; Natural gas boom hasn't made US energy secure, warns IEA chief ... PLUS: Hottest March-June On Record Globally ... and much, MUCH more! ...
The Washington Post recently reported that more "than 100 current and former [Kansas] Republican officials [have] endorsed Democratic state Rep. Paul Davis [in his] bid to unseat Gov. Sam Brownback (R)."
The website of the group that refers to itself as the "Republicans for Kansas Values," reveals that the source of their revolt can be found in what the LA Times' Michael Hiltzik described as Brownback's draconian "Tea Party tax cuts," enacted in the name of economic "freedom" that have, he says, benefited only the wealthy and have turned the Sunflower State "into a smoking ruin."
In other words, there was a lot packed in to this week's 58 minutes, including a lot of bullshit to dispel, a bunch of great callers, and even one who totally disagreed with me on e-cigs and children. That was fun.
P.S. During the show, a caller questioned the facts of a quote I read on air from a press release issued today by the Freedom to Marry organization, citing the first Mississippi mayor to call for marriage equality in the state. The quote in question was from the group's President Evan Wolfson, who said in the statement: "More same-sex couples are raising children in Mississippi than in any other state."
The caller, appropriately, challenged the veracity of the statement, and I promised I'd look into the details, since I had just received the release prior to air time and didn't have the details handy. Now I do. Here's where that claim comes from...
Just in, via HuffPo, a federal judge in California has ruled that the state's death penalty system violates the U.S. Constitution's restriction against "cruel and unusual punishments"...
U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney handed down an order Wednesday, finding that the system is arbitrary and in violation of the Constitution's 8th Amendment.
"California's death penalty system is so plagued by inordinate and unpredictable delay that the death sentence is actually carried out against only a trivial few of those sentenced to death," Carney writes. "For all practical purposes then, a sentence of death in California is a sentence of life imprisonment with the remote possibility of death --- a sentence no rational legislature or jury could ever impose."
Carney continues: "Inordinate and unpredictable delay... has resulted in a system in which arbitrary factors, rather than legitimate ones like the nature of the crime or the date of the death sentence, determine whether an individual will actually be executed. And it has resulted in a system that serves no penological purpose. Such a system is unconstitutional."
The story goes on to note that the judge also vacated petitioner Ernest Dwayne Jones' death sentence --- he had been convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to die in 1995, and that "an analysis by the Los Angeles Times found that the state spent $308 million on each execution." That analysis underscores what critics of the death penalty have long pointed out, that the cost of killing prisoners far outpaces the cost to the state of keeping them imprisoned for life.
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Huge Christian organization divests from fossil fuels; Germany pledges $1 billion to international climate fund; Australia slides backward to repeal carbon tax; Step aside, Formula One racing: all-electric Formula E is on your tail; PLUS: Climate denier Rupert Murdoch's Big 'But' ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): How long will world's oil reserves last? 53 years, says BP; Clear differences between organic and non-organic food; Chevron admits oil shale will use huge amounts of West's water; US oil consumption still rising; Nuclear waste plan unsafe, panel told; Midwestern farmers fight 'superweeds' of their own making; 7 earthquakes in OK in 1 day; Early fire season destroys homes in PacNW ... PLUS: Neverglades: Sorry, Time Magazine, South Florida IS Drowning ... and much, MUCH more! ...
Here's a perfect example of why people watch cable news --- and, also, why they don't.
As TPM's Josh Marshall describes it: "Rick Santelli, famously in 2009, by one measure launched the 'Tea Party' with an epic rant about how big government was crushing capitalism while it was actually in the midst of saving it. Since then he's been wrong about every economic question worth being asked. One of the CNBCers got tired of his nonsense today and this happened."
Or, as Vox.com's Ezra Klein tweeted it (with a pretty perfect allusion for old school Real World fans): "What happens when CNBC hosts stop being polite and start getting real"...
Matthew Yglesias describes Santelli, in citing the video above, as a "big time inflation fearmonger" and adds that fellow CNBCer "Steve Liesman absolutely took him to school pointing out that anyone who'd listened to his inflationista advice over the years would have lost a ton of money."
I'm not nearly expert enough in monetary policy to appreciate who's actually right and who's actually wrong in this made-for-cable pissing match. While I'd happily bet against the yutz Santelli on just about anything, the rest of his network has also been notoriously wrong in just about every bit of corporate log-rolling and back-slapping they've engaged in over the last decade or more. In any event, if you want a bit more of an explainer on what the hell these people are actually yelling about, Time's Pat Regnier offers this one.
Missouri's Democratic Governor Jay Nixon had an opportunity to encourage people to quit smoking. He didn't take it. In fact, he actually made the choice to help encourage people to continue smoking, despite the fact the deadly habit kills nearly half a million people in the U.S. alone each year.
On Monday, the Governor vetoed Senate Bill 841. While the legislation would have restricted the sale of nicotine vaping products such as e-cigarettes to minors, and required sellers to receive a license from the state, it also exempted the non-lethal devices and products --- which are quickly becoming very popular as a method to quit smoking --- from existing laws and taxes levied against harmful tobacco products.
"This bill appears to be nothing more than a thinly disguised and cynical attempt to exempt e-cigarettes from taxes and regulations protecting public health," Nixon said in his veto message.
This sort of dangerous short-sightedness, unfortunately, is not unusual for Democrats, of late. It also flies in the face of both science and common sense...
Funny thing. For some reason, professional, weapons-grade Rightwing troll Ann Coulter doesn't think her fellow Republicans should waste their time looking into issues of vote fraud. We wonder why.
Coulter, writing an op-ed in Jackson, Mississippi's Clarion-Ledger yesterday, is hoping to urge Republican "Tea Party" Senate candidate Chris McDaniel to not challenge the results of his very close, June 24th primary runoff election against six-term incumbent Republican Sen. Thad Cochran, warning that doing so is a "primrose path to political oblivion."
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Debunking Neil Cavuto of Fox 'News' and the 1970's 'global cooling' myth; Anti-science nuttery alive and well in Kentucky...and Mars; BP oil still contaminating fish in the Gulf; Canada's tar sands linked to cancer spike in First Nations tribes; PLUS: Popular pesticide may be killing off the birds and the bees ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Federal government still spending billions to subsidize fossil fuels; Global warming at root of ‘utterly unprecedented’ summer flood; Helsinki's ambitious plan will make cars obsolete; Most Americans say they'll vote against climate change deniers; Carbon pollution standards reduce electricity rates; Greenpeace tells Lego 'everything is not awesome'; Fossil fuels are the new subprime investments; Australia climate politics stranger than fiction ... PLUS: Even if coal were free, it couldn’t compete with solar ... and much, MUCH more! ...