Behind the radio mic for Ed, and joined by great, independent progressive journalists Ari Berman (on SCOTUS voting rights rulings), Marcy Wheeler (on NSA spying), David Dayen (on disaster mortgage scams); Plus rants, callers, news of the day and more!...
Rupture feared; Workers contaminated; New evacs 'recommended'... PLUS: German study uses French data to corroborate findings from Austrian, U.S. scientists, suggesting Fukushima disaster should be reclassified as 'level 7' accident, on par with Chernobyl...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Republicans taking hostages over Keystone XL pipeline --- again; Banner year for Big Oil profits --- again; Chevy Volt cleared of all charges; Florida invaded by snakes (no, not the GOP primary); PLUS: The Muppets Strike Back (at Fox 'News') ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): World lacks enough food, fuel as population soars: UN; Carmakers support CA's new clean car regulations; Illinois tops nation in new wind turbines; Will W.Va. prepare for a post-coal future?; Canada urged EPA to disregard oilsands emissions; New faux renewable energy scandal engulfs GOP; Debunking Murdoch's Daily Mail, Wall St. Journal climate denials; GMO crops spreading in the wild; TX heat, drought caused by global warming: Hansen ... PLUS: Saudi Oil Minister Calls Global Warming "Humanity's Most Pressing Concern"... and much, MUCH more! ...
Had the same thing been carried out by a worker for the now-defunct ACORN, Republicans --- and even Newt Gingrich --- would have called it massive "voter fraud." But the 1,500 acts of fraud, by Gingrich's own admission, were carried out by a worker hired by his campaign, so it seems the media have barely noticed it.
Nonetheless, The BRAD BLOG has received confirmation from two different state agencies that the 1,500 alleged cases of ballot petition fraud said to have been carried out on behalf of the Gingrich campaign, in their unsuccessful attempt to qualify for the Republican primary ballot in Virginia, are now being carried out by the state Attorney General's office.
In late December, after Gingrich had failed to turn in enough valid signatures to qualify for the Virginia primary ballot, he was caught on video tape telling a supporter in Iowa that the reason for the failure was due to a campaign worker who created 1,500 fraudulent signatures.
"We turned in 11,100 --- we needed 10,000 --- 1,500 of them were by one guy who, frankly, committed fraud," Gingrich is seen and heard saying in video originally aired by CNN.
The former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives downplayed the incident, by explaining to the woman that the entire affair was "just a mistake," after they had "hired somebody who turned in false signatures."
Neither he nor his campaign, however, has made the name of the alleged "one guy" public, to our knowledge, despite the extraordinary number of fraudulent signatures created and turned in by that "one guy" in what an official at the Virginia State Board of Elections (SBE) described to us as "definitely an illegal act."
News of the embarrassing criminal investigation is confirmed today, even as voters go to the polls for Florida's 2012 GOP Primary, where Gingrich is facing off against front-runner Mitt Romney who, ironically --- and uncomfortably enough for Republicans --- may also find himself the subject of a criminal voter fraud investigation in the not-too-distant future...
Funny thing though. Upon closer examination, as is almost always the case in these matters, those 953 "dead voters" may not be so "dead" after all. That, according to SC State Election Commission (SEC) Executive Director Marci Andino who both testified [PDF] and released a statement on the matter last week.
According to both her statement and testimony to the SC House Election Laws Subcommittee, Andino, the state's chief election official, said:
While the SEC has not yet been provided with all the information on which the claims are being made, the Attorney General's office has provided a small sample - six names from Abbeville County. A review of the voter registration lists and signatures on the poll lists from the elections in question revealed that of these six:
One was an absentee ballot cast by a voter who then died before election day;
Another was the result of an error by a poll worker who mistakenly marked the voter as Samuel Ferguson, Jr. when the voter was in fact Samuel Ferguson, III;
Two were the result of stray marks on the voter registration list detected by the scanner - again, a clerical error;
The final two were the result of poll managers incorrectly marking the name of the voter in question instead of the voter listed either above or below on the list.
Zounds! Who could have guessed that Republican claims of hordes of zombies voting in South Carolina's elections --- as first publicized in a short, evidence-free AP article trumpeted at Fox "News" --- were, um, "greatly exaggerated"?!
And that's not the only specious claim by the AG's office that Andino dismantled during her testimony last week...
The fully-militarized, post-9/11 Big Government Police State in these United States continues unabated, even as we've had to turn our attention here, of late, away from the Occupy Movement to cover the pretend democracy known as the 2012 Presidential Race.
This time, the OPD upped the ante by arresting some six journalists --- in violation of both Quan's previous (apparently pretend) directives, as well as the Department's own supposed procedures --- even as each of the journos claim to have clearly identified themselves as members of the media prior to being detained nonetheless. (At least the OPD didn't shoot at them this time.)
Among those six journalists attempting to do their jobs, was Mother Jones' Gavin Aronsen, who has been covering the Occupy movement on the ground in Oakland and San Francisco for months. He is a superb journalist who I had the privilege of working closely with last year in the course of my "Secret Koch Tapes" exclusives that I ran at MoJo in September.
Here's Aronsen's appalling account of what happened before and after his arrest on Saturday in Oakland. It includes this passage near the end for additional context (and for those who pretend to care about the Constitution, who I will get to in a minute):
"The Bay Area Occupy movement has got to stop using Oakland as their playground," Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said in a statement during last night's arrests that made no mention of her police department's lack of regard for journalists' First Amendment protections. Last week, the United States dropped 27 spots in Reporters Without Borders' annual press freedom index due to police treatment of journalists covering the Occupy Wall Street movement. By Josh Stearns's count, more than three dozen reporters have been arrested since the movement began last year in Manhattan.
Oakland isn't the only Occupy hot-spot where police appear to be continuing to abuse their Big Government powers to violently strip private citizens of their Constitutional rights. In Washington D.C., one of the few cities where Occupy encampments, until now, have been allowed to remain in place, police have announced that will be coming to an end as of a Monday deadline. Today.
To prepare for their big day, over the weekend the D.C. Police distributed "eviction notices" and warmed up their Tasers, as seen in this outrageous video shot on Sunday in our nation's capitol...
Had that ever happened to one --- just one --- so-called "Tea Partier", this nation would likely have descended into an all-out shooting civil war by now. Yet similar police abuses have been seen against Occupiers in state after state.
Such that what is seen in the video above, and the other acts mentioned, were done to fellow citizens whose Constitutional Rights the "Tea Party" doesn't give two shits about, their fake "grass roots" "movement", apparently, couldn't care less about any of these clear cases of the very "Big Government Tyranny" and stripping of Constitutional rights that they have long been allowed to pretend they give a damn about. They don't. They care about nothing more than electing Republicans to office. Period. The Constitution has absolutely nothing to do with any of it.
As you know, "liberals" are doing little more than using their well-worn "Alinksy Tactics" to fight against freedom in order to bring communism to the United States of America. That said, the fact is, nobody other than Rightwing fantasists and their gullible stooges seem to know who the hell this Saul Alinsky guy actually is!
I know I had no clue about him until I finally looked him up after a dozen or so times of being accused of using his "tactics" by various wingnuts (usually Breitbart cultists or brainwashed, incurious Fox "News" zombies).
It seems Bill Maher had a similar reaction to mine, as seen on Friday night's Real Time on HBO. More to the point, Maher's observations about the Republican campaign against Obama, pretty much mirrored mine, as I discussed in my analysis of last week's State of the Union Speech and in other venues where I've spoken about this lately. Specifically, the charge that Republicans can't defeat the actual Barack Obama on the merits, for a whole bunch of reasons, so they've decided instead to run against a "completely fictional President".
"His name is Barack X and he's an Islamo-Socialist revolutionary who's coming for your guns, raising your taxes, slashing the military, apologizing to other countries and taking his cues from Europe --- or worse yet, Saul Alinksy!"
Maher went on to explain how Obama has done anything but the phony charges used against him, and then went on to compare those complaints with Democrats' complaints about Bush.
"Say what you will about the Left's hatred of Bush," said Maher, "at least we were hating on the real guy. We didn't invent a boogey-man who tanked the economy, took us to war on false pretenses and tortured prisoners. That was the actual guy!"
NOTE: This video seems to be getting removed from YouTube by HBO (clearly another Alinsky Tactic!), so you may wanna watch it quickly before this version is removed as well. It's well worth it. But, in case it's gone by the time you get to it, see below for the text from Maher's key rant near the end of the piece...
The title of historian Kevin Phillips' otherwise excellent work, Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich, is somewhat misleading. With the exception of constitutional monarchies, which preclude royalty from all but figurehead status, democracy and the concentration of great wealth cannot co-exist in the same society.
If citizens can see past the corporate media-erected contest of personalities so as to examine how it reflects the undemocratic structure of our society, the 2012 Presidential election can provide us with a teachable moment of great value. This is true whether we examine the flood of SuperPAC monies, courtesy of the now infamous Citizens United decision, the striking similarities in their methodology of wealth acquisition depicted both in the 1987 movie Wall Street through its fictional Gordon Gekko and in real life by Bain Capital and Mitt Romney, the ridiculously low 13.9% federal taxes on Romney's $21.7 million income in 2010, his extensive Goldman Sachs holdings and as much as $32 million maintained in off-shore accounts, or the fact that only one, essentially marginalized Presidential candidate in either of the two major political parties --- Ron Paul --- is willing to discuss an end to perpetual war and our global military presence.
Here, Mitt "Gordon Gekko" Romney provides the principle focus, not because of personality, or "envy", but because his candidacy affords an opportunity to explore the inconsistency between wealth and democracy...
No, we didn't go looking for these stories, just happened to come across them. So perhaps there are others out there that we missed this week. Perhaps there is evidence of Democratic extremists similarly targeting Republicans with brutal violence and threats of brutal violence. If so, we haven't seen it.
This all takes place on the very same week in which Arizona's Democratic Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was finally forced to resign from the U.S. House of Representatives while she attempts to continue recovering her brain function after being shot in the head and nearly killed just over one year ago this month in Tucson, AZ (Not far from where the cop near Phoenix proudly posted the bullet-ridden photo of Obama). While six others were killed during the same incident in Tucson, as the shooter used a legal weapon allowing him to get off some 30 shots per clip, federal and state lawmakers have failed to do a damned thing about any of it.
The law, if it is not rejected by voters, will severely shorten the time for Early Voting and will ban it all together on the Sunday before Election Day in the Buckeye State, in a way that is geared towards suppressing Democratic votes. The bill also includes other major barriers to voting such as a prohibition on county Boards of Election mailing absentee ballot request forms to voters and a ban on poll workers instructing voters where their correct precinct is located. Opponents of the law have noted that some 200,000 voters in Columbus alone --- or 4 in 10 votes cast there in 2008 --- would have had to cast their vote in a different manner in 2012 has the law been allowed to take effect this year as planned.
Husted, the state's chief election official, elected in 2010, had worked with GOP legislators in crafting the bill which was passed and signed by Republican Gov. John Kasich last year, before being met with a wildly successful petition campaign in support of a "voter veto" of the bill. That campaign, led by progressive groups such as Fair Elections Ohio, garnered more than 300,000 signatures, or more than 75,000 above the total required to put the bill on hold and place it on the ballot for a popular vote. The result is that, last December, the bill was officially suspended for 2012, when Republicans had hoped it might help suppress Democratic-leaning voters in the swing-state's Presidential election. Instead, the law is now set to be on the November 2012 ballot for voter approval or rejection.
The Sec. of State called on fellow Republicans to overturn the bill in the legislature, scrap it, and revisit the issue after the 2012 election, rather than allowing it to remain on the ballot in November. Those remarks have raised the hackles of some powerful GOP lawmakers in Ohio.
Husted is developing a record for standing against some of the most radical elements of his own party's agenda in some cases, as seen, for example, in his outspoken condemnation of an attempt to institute polling place Photo ID restrictions on voters in the same bill last year, as well as a bi-partisan effort in 2007, with the previous Democratic Sec. of State, to do away with 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems in the Buckeye State...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Drill-Baby-Drill and Frack-Baby-Frack: Obama talks energy in his State of the Union address --- featuring actual clean energy! --- while climate denier Republicans double down on dirty energy; PLUS: Speaking the forbidden words --- out loud! ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Conoco profits jump 66%; 5 energy issues to watch for in tonight’s GOP debate in FL; WH pressured scientists to underestimate BP spill; State Dept: Don’t mess with us on Keystone; CO2 is “driving fish crazy”; NHTSA: 'Chevy Volt is safe'; Judge blocks health studies from mine permit; NASA animation charts modern global warming ... PLUS: Raiding the bread basket: use and abuse of the Mississippi River basin ... and much, MUCH more! ...
I was delighted to finally have GOP Presidential candidate and former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer on my KPFK/Pacifica Radio show today! The result was a feisty conversation about corporate money in elections with a feisty, renegade Republican who, frankly, would change the course of both history and the televised debates, in my opinion, were he actually allowed to participate in them.
He speaks about being shut out of the debates, names a few names (ahem...Bloomberg News...Al Hunt...ahem) and we mix it up on a few other topics --- including the third party run he's considering with the shadowy Americans Elect outfit --- to boot.
In the second half of the show, Desi Doyen joins us for some Green News Report and an update on Obama's discussion about green issues in his State of the Union last night. And, speaking of feisty, we finish up with a bunch of calls from KPFK listeners.
Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ-8) officially resigned from the U.S. Congress today, in the wake of her January 8, 2011 shooting during a "Congress on your Corner" event in Tuscon, Arizona. She appeared in the well of the House this morning, along with her friend Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz of Florida, who read her resignation speech though tears. Other colleagues, including Republican Rep. Jeff Flake, also from Arizona, stood at her side and she was thanked with a warm round of applause.
In the letter, as read by Wasserman-Schultz, Giffords vowed: "I will recover and will return, and we will work together again, for Arizona and for all Americans"...
What a senseless chapter. But no matter her politics, and whether you disagreed with them or not, Giffords spirit ought to be seen as extraordinarily inspirational to all of us. Sadly, thanks to a U.S. Congress mired in politics, none of the simple measures that could have been passed to help prevent similar tragedies in the future have been carried out in the year since Giffords shooting and the deaths of six others on that fateful day just over one year ago.
I think the expression captured on the face of House Speaker John Boehner in the photo above, taken during tonight's State of the Union Speech, is actually more accurately representative than the one of President Obama. Boehner appeared simply stultified at times during the presentation, and for very good reason...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Capitol Kabuki Theatre: State of the Union energy facts vs. fiction; Keystone XL pipeline fight redux?; Hottest Arctic on record; Radioactive rice in Japan; PLUS: Forget Fukushima --- is nuclear's bad reputation caused by Bond - James Bond? ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Arctic Ocean freshwater "bulge" detected; DOE slashes US gas reserves estimates; Exxon to pay $1.6M in MT spill settlement; China report spells out "grim" climate change risks; Sun's changes unlikely to slow global warming; Next ice age not likely before 1,500 years; How to get help paying for home heating oil ... PLUS: 24-hour solar in Spain, as world's largest all-solar yacht completes round-the-world tour... and much, MUCH more! ...
If we were President of the United States, we'd be termed out by now. But we were never fans of term limits around here anyway. So, since eight is never really enough, let's go for nine.
In defiance of all our foes (as if we have any) --- and even our own predictions on dark days --- today is the 8th anniversary of The BRAD BLOG! We're still here. Get used to it!
Someday I'll have to stop to look back on all of our extraordinary accomplishments during this tremendous journey, but we've got an election to keep an eye on and a collapsing native and burning world to save, so no time for much more than a quick moment to mark the occasion, and keep moving forward.
As I noted briefly over the weekend, none of what we do here can be done without your help. While others claim independence, we truly are independent. No corporate or foundational help here (not that I'd say no to any of it --- we could really use it!), but that means we really do rely on the kindness and generous support of our readers.
To that end, as much as I hate it, here comes my usual annual plea...
Please consider supporting The BRAD BLOG with a "birthday gift" of any amount you'd like. The larger, the better, naturally, if you are able to afford it and still take care of more pressing priorities. On the day we learn that Mitt Romney makes some $33k a day --- simply by doing nothing --- while paying a lower tax rate than most of you and me, we'll be happy just to make this month's rent and put some gas in the tank (both literally and figuratively).
One-time donations are, as ever, tremendously appreciated. Even more so are sustaining, automated, monthly contributions of any amount you can comfortably afford. For the latter, please see the form in the light blue box mid-way down our right sidebar. Monthly sustaining support is a quick and easy matter to create, via credit card or PayPal, as you prefer, and will hopefully take you less than three minutes or so to set up. My great thanks to the handful of you who have been monthly supporters for so long. It truly means the world!
But most of all, my greatest of thanks for reading The BRAD BLOG, sharing what you've learned here by passing it on, through email, through word of mouth, through letters to the editor, through clicks of the REDDIT and RE-TWEET buttons, etc. For that, and more, I thank you, along with the other frequent contributors here, like Desi Doyen and Ernie Canning, as well as those behind the scenes who help moderate comments and correct my terrible spelling errors and everyone else who has ever helped to keep our campfire burning.
That's eight. Buckle up. Here comes nine.
With love and respect and a continuing wish for peace....
The conventional wisdom is that Mitt Romney has been attempting to withhold his tax returns from public scrutiny so that we'll not learn just how small the percentage is that he pays on his enormous income (which is said to be largely reported as capital gains, and thus taxed at just 15%.)
But there's another interesting issue that could be revealed when he releases his 2010 tax returns on Tuesday, as promised.
Remember last June when little-known Republican candidate Fred Karger filed a complaint with the state of Massachusetts charging that Romney committed voter fraud by using the unfinished basement of his son's house in Belmont, MA as his address for voting purposes after he'd sold his own him there in 2008, rather than registering to vote at his $12.5 million ocean front home in La Jolla, California or at his $10 million compound in New Hampshire?
Voter registration fraud in MA is punishable by a $10,000 fine and up to five years in jail. Residency requirements in MA are defined as "where a person dwells and which is the center of his domestic, social, and civil life." Yet, when Karger filed his complaint last Summer he noted that local residents in Belmont had told him at the time that the Romney's had "moved to California".
"I haven’t seen Mrs. Romney in over two years, and she used to come in here all the time," Karger says a local merchant told him. A member of the nearby Mormon Temple and Meetinghouse in Belmont, where Mitt and his wife Ann had attended weekly church services when they lived there, said she "hadn’t seen the Romneys since 2008."
If you don't recall all the specifics, here's our detailed coverage at the time, where the case didn't look good for Mittens, even while the state of Massachusetts seemed to be more interested in ignoring the allegations all together for some reason. The piece also includes details on some other recent apparent GOP voter fraud felons too.