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NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
|MORE BRAD BLOG 'SPECIAL COVERAGE' PAGES...|
In response to concerns about the militarization of local police, which America has seen on shameful display in Ferguson, MO following the police killing of Michael Brown, President Obama indicated during a presser last Monday that there could be some change coming.
"There is a big difference between our military and our local law enforcement, and we don't want those line blurred," he said about the horses which long ago left the barn. "That would be contrary to our traditions."
He added: "I think that there will be some bi-partisan interest in re-examining some of those programs."
On Saturday, Obama announced an official review of the Pentagon's "1033 Program" which, since 1990, has transferred, for free, some $4 billion worth of surplus military equipment, such as Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, armored Humvees, high-caliber weapons, aircraft, armed drones and silencers, to local law enforcement agencies around the country. As CNN has just reported:
The decision follows public criticism of the use of such assets recently in Ferguson, Missouri.
The review will touch on several points, including
-- Whether such programs and funding are appropriate;
-- Whether state and local enforcement agencies have the necessary training and guidance after getting such equipment;
-- Whether the federal government is sufficiently auditing the use of equipment obtained through federal programs and funding.
White House staff --- including members of the Domestic Policy Council, the National Security Council, the Office of Management and Budget --- will lead the review in coordination with Congress, according to the official.
Reuters adds that "relevant U.S. agencies including the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Justice and Treasury," will also participate in the review.
Last week, we reported on the small, but seemingly growing bi-partisan support for re-thinking the federal militarization of local law enforcement agencies. The rightwing New American, citing some of our coverage, has more on the bi-partisan calls for reform, noting that the "SWAT Lobby" (yes, apparently there's a "SWAT Lobby") is now working to defend the program.
On this week's BradCast we interviewed Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), a proponent of blocking the transfer of this kind of militarized equipment and for including accountability measures for the billions of dollars worth of equipment which has already been given to local agencies.
"My main hope is to stop the flow of this military grade equipment to local law enforcement agencies throughout America," Johnson told us during the interview on KPFK/Pacifica Radio. "We've been flooding the streets with this surplus military weaponry, and I think the situation in Ferguson exemplifies what happens when you have too much powerful equipment in the hands of folks who don't have the judgment or the training to utilize it properly." (Full interview here.)
The latest version of Johnson's "Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act" [PDF] is here. The Congressman had begun work on the legislation long before Ferguson erupted, but is finally receiving recognition for that effort. Now, it seems, he and other proponents may have some support from the White House. But, we'll see. These "reviews" have a way of disappearing into the ether. Legislation like Johnson's, on the other hand, is what is needed to really make a difference in this shameful practice, which has, in truth, become little more than a way around the long-standing Posse Comitatus Act (1878) which expressly limited the use of federal military personnel to enforce local and state laws.
Speaking of folks who think they are running for President, 2012 Republican Vice-Presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan is now on a book tour in Florida getting to know the voters there and how much they enjoy the repeated budgets he's written and passed in the U.S. House that would slash trillions from social safety net programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
Here's Ryan's thoughtful response, as seen in video captured today by the progressive advocacy group Americans United for Change, to one voter in Pensacola, who wanted to ask the GOP Congressman and 2016 hopeful about those cuts...
[This article now cross-published by Salon, with a much better headline than mine...]
Speaking to business leaders in New Hampshire on Friday, where Texas' Republican Gov. Rick Perry believes he's running for President in 2016, he was asked about the two count felony indictment filed by a grand jury against him last week:
"I've been indicted by that same body now for I think two counts, one of bribery, which I'm not a lawyer, so I don't really understand the details here," Perry said of the grand jury that indicted him.
A grand jury indicted Perry last week on two felony counts - abuse of official capacity and coercion of a public official - over a 2013 veto threat.
It's really not that complicated. The indictment was only two pages, and it's posted below. I'm not an attorney, and I couldn't tell you how strong the case against him is at this point. Some legal experts describe it as weak at best or otherwise questionably Constitutional, even as local TX reporters in paper after paper insist the charges are far more serious than how they are being portrayed by national media. But, without going into the specifics of the case, for now, even I can read a two-page indictment and see that it has nothing to do with "bribery".
Surely Perry knows that, even as he's pleaded "not guilty" to both counts, and has vehemently described the abuse of power charges filed by the grand jury under the auspices of a Republican judge and a special prosecutor who served under President George H.W. Bush, as a Democratic political hit job and an abuse of power in and of itself. (Apparently, he's going with the "I know you are, but what am I?!" defense there.)
So I wouldn't necessarily call Perry's comments in NH just another one of his "oops" moments, but it's certainly bizarre and, I guess, some kind of strategy to somehow belittle the serious charges against him in some way. 'They are so inconsequential and silly I couldn't even be bothered to tell all ya'll what they're about. Bribery? Assault? Murder? Who knows?! By the way, vote for me for President of the United States if ya'll don't mind!'
My prediction: Ricky Perry, if he stays out of jail, will be exactly as crappy of a GOP candidate for President in 2016 as he was in 2012 --- even though he now wears glasses most of the time.
The easy to read, two-page, two-count grand jury felony indictment filed against Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) on 8/15/2014 follows in full below...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Way too much water now falling on the Arizona desert; Another day, another toxic spill, this time in the Ohio River; New breakthrough recycles old car batteries into solar panels; Wind energy prices hit an all-time low in U.S.; PLUS: An innovative water wheel auto-magically cleaning up Baltimore Harbor ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Pregnant women should avoid tuna entirely; Transparent solar turns your windows into mini-solar cells; Solar boom causing global solar panel shortage; Solar thermal plant torches birds in mid-air; World's ice sheets melting at fastest rate ever recorded; Leonardo DiCaprio voices climate change film; Homeowners associations blocking residential solar installations; California has allocated 5x more water than it actually has ... PLUS: Why our brains are wired to ignore climate change ... and much, MUCH more! ...
I was joined on this week's KPFK/Pacifica Radio BradCast by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), to discuss his "Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act" [PDF] which he plans to introduce when the U.S. House returns from their endless recess in September.
He's been at work on the bill long before the local "RoboCops" hit the streets when Ferguson, Missouri blew up recently after the police killing of Michael Brown. As Johnson described the legislation in his March 2014 USA Today op-ed, presciently headlined "Small town American shouldn't resemble a war zone", the bill would "ban MRAPs, other armored personnel carriers, drones, assault weapons and aircraft" from being transferred to local police departments under the Pentagon's "1033 Program" and "ensure that the Department of Defense undertakes an annual accounting of what's been transferred, by whom and to whom to prevent military items from being auctioned on eBay or sold to friends."
"My main hope is to stop the flow of this military grade equipment to local law enforcement agencies throughout America," Johnson told me during our interview today. "We've been flooding the streets with this surplus military weaponry, and I think the situation in Ferguson exemplifies what happens when you have too much powerful equipment in the hands of folks who don't have the judgment or the training to utilize it properly."
But has the horse already left the barn on this issue? And does the Congressman stand a chance of getting his bill through our broken U.S. Congress, even with some apparent bi-partisan support for curbing police militarization from folks like Republican 2016 Presidential hopeful Sen. Rand Paul, who recently called for the same in a Time magazine op-ed? You'll have to listen below to hear Johnson's thoughts on those questions.
After the Congressman left, I discussed a few other related items, such as the voter registration drive now taking place in Ferguson, and took a bunch of calls on all of the above, including at least one amazing one, in which the caller named "Al" insisted that "minorities are in worse shape than they've ever been" in this country. He says that "since 1965 we have been going down hill as a nation." Hmm... I wonder what might have happened during that year to make him feel that way?
I hope you'll enjoy this week's program...
Download MP3 or listen online below...
Encouraging more participation in the democratic process in a community that feels alienated from political power - hence the demonstrations - seems like an obviously good idea; and one that's particularly compelling because it's so simple. Voting is an alternative to protesting in the streets.
And yet, the executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, Matt Wills, denounced the plan.
Mr. Wills told the right-wing website Breitbart: "If that's not fanning the political flames, I don't know what is. I think it's not only disgusting but completely inappropriate."
On another right-wing site, Red State, Dan McLaughlin also argued that there was something indecent about the registration drive. Ferguson presents an opportunity for "Right and Left" to find "common ground," he wrote. But "the minute you turn your energies into just another effort to register Democratic voters and fire up the Democratic base in advance of an election," he argued, "the harder you make it to keep the common ground from vanishing in the fog."
Who said anything about "register[ing] Democratic voters"?
"Voter registration for #Ferguson residents is at the QT & the crime scene. SIGN UP. Get on the juries, choose your leaders," tweeted attorney and activist @ReignOfApril. "Voter Registration is a brilliant way to honor #MichaelBrown's memory. It's a positive reaction to horrible situation," wrote @Koursey in reply.
While the city of Ferguson is two-thirds African-American, the vast majority of their police force and almost all local elected officials are not.
"Though whites make up just 29% of the city's residents," reports MSNBC's Zachary Roth, "five of Ferguson's six city council members are white, as is Mayor James Knowles. And six of the local school board's seven members are white."
"We warned people about these kinds of things," John Gaskin of the Missouri NAACP told Roth. "Who hires the police officers? The police chief. Who hires the police chief? The mayor. Who hires the mayor? Who elects the council folks?"
As the Times' Lapidos goes on to note, "Mr. Sharpton did not say that the residents of Ferguson should vote for Democrats; he said they should vote, full stop." She adds: "Isn't it telling that both Mr. Wills and Mr. McLaughlin make no distinction between voter registration and Democratic registration?"
For the record, Ferguson's local elections are nonpartisan.
(Separately, kudos to the Times' Lapidos for describing those two websites for what they are, "right-wing", rather than usual "conservative". It must not have been easy to get that past the Times' editors, even though it's completely accurate. Or maybe the paper has changed their previously unhelpful style rules under their new Executive Editor Dean Baquet, along with this one. Either way, truth in reporting there is accurate, a great change of pace and far more helpful to the electorate.)
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Another one bites the dust: Oregon denies proposed coal export facility; It's official: July 2014 was the 4th hottest July on record; Fracking industry illegally using diesel fuel, threatening underground water supplies; PLUS: New report finds Republican officials DO accept climate change, they're just too cowardly to admit it publicly... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Toxic tale of Annie, Fannie, Mike in Toledo's water crisis; Wind energy prices hit all-time low; Solar boom driving global panel shortage; Breakthrough: spray-on PV solar cells; Food giant Kellogg pledges changes to battle climate change; Ford Motor Co. builds Michigan's largest solar array; Jet stream changes again linked to extreme weather around the world ... PLUS: Science FTW: ‘Cosmos’ wins four Emmys, ‘Years Of Living Dangerously’ wins Top Nonfiction Series ... and much, MUCH more! ...
The "streets" did not "flare up". The cops in Ferguson flared it up, perhaps, according to pretty much all of the live coverage we followed for hours last night on TV, on the web and, most crucially, on Twitter.
No clue what "problem" Fire Boy above thought he was trying to solve with his 9/11 Wars souvenir, but you can bet it hasn't been solved.
We recently wrote a "Tale of Two Protests" comparing the mostly peaceful protesters of Ferguson, MO following the police shooting of unarmed African-American teen Michael Brown, to the threatening armed protests by supporters of scofflaw rancher Cliven Bundy in Bunkerville, NV earlier this year.
Where the amped-up, Hollywoodized, militarization of the police in Ferguson has resulted, largely, in making the cops look like clowns and idiots for their over-aggressive tactics and firepower (see the front page of today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch above for just the latest example of that buffoonery, here's more), the amped-up, Hollywoodized, militarization of the so-called "Tea Party" "patriot" protesters in Bunkerville and their semi-automatic rifles trained on the heads of law enforcement officials, succeeded in little more than making those protesters look like clowns and idiots. It also offered an apparently compelling reason as to why law enforcement "needs" to arm up in response to such deadly, direct threats.
Meanwhile, over at his own blog today, Patrick Blanchfield offers a related observation of the shameful differences between the nation's treatment of a rancher who stole more than a million dollars from the federal government in Bunkerville, versus the kid in Ferguson who was shot at least six times by a police officer after having, allegedly, taking a handful of cigars from a convenience store. And its additionally embarrassing.
But is there ever a good day for them? Back after I can figure out this mess...Which I hope will be soon!
Please chat amongst yourselves until then. Or go and read an updated version of my story on the Ferguson Protesters v. the Bundy Bunch over at Salon today here...
Just like the headline says, from my interview on Friday with David Pakman...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)
[An updated version of this article has now been published by Salon. Updates to the version posted here, following the weekend's developments in Ferguson, are posted at the end of the article.]
On Wednesday night, I had snarked on Twitter about the lack of so-called "Tea Party" "patriots" --- like those brave boys and girls who, earlier this year, pointed their big assault-rifles at federal officials to protect the "right" of a scofflaw rancher in Nevada to illegally graze his cattle for free on land that he did not own --- failing to show up to protect the actual rights and freedoms of so many being denied them by actual Big Government Tyranny in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri.
Some Rightwingers, like libertarian Justin Raimondo of Antiwar.com shot back at me (figuratively) on Twitter, arguing that "The Bundy patriots didn't take BS from the cops. They stood and fought," adding that the Ferguson protesters were facing the "same fight" and, had those protesters only brought guns with them, the police would have backed down. Or something.
"Would the cops be murdering blacks in #Ferguson if the people were armed? No," Raimondo told me, as if he just arrived in the U.S. from some other planet. "Armed resistance tends to discourage aggression," he insisted, between some silly ad hominem bluster in which he charged me with "worship[ing]" the government, and "lov[ing] the state that murders blacks" (also of being a "loser" with a "fat ass" or some such, but that's even easier to laugh at).
And then something changed on the streets of Ferguson Thursday night, which made Raimondo's comments seem even more transparently silly.
After the fully-militarized police were pulled away, ordered by the Missouri Governor to be replaced by grown-ups who marched with the protesters, calm and even jubilance returned to the previously tear gas-filled streets of Ferguson, MO. The contrast on Thursday night from the days prior couldn't have been more stark, according to virtually everyone on the ground there. It was the police, not the protesters, who had exacerbated roiling racial tensions, arrested reporters and needlessly filled the streets with panic and tear gas in the days prior, just as assuredly as it was a Ferguson cop who killed Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teen who was supposedly stopped for nothing more than alleged "Jay Walking".
It was peaceful citizens, with their empty hands in the air --- not pretend "patriots" aiming long guns at the buffoonish, intimidating, embarrassing, jungle-camouflaged-in-exurban-streets cops --- who may ultimately be seen as the ones who helped begin a national rollback of the absurd militarization, perhaps better described as "Hollywoodization," of our nation's law enforcement organizations.
It was not armed resistance, but peaceful resistance that may have brought about real, if tenuous, change in Ferguson, and maybe even the rest of the country...
Way to go Kansas Sec. of State Kris Kobach (R)! You caught another one!
When Hiller arrived at the polls, however, she was told that she could not exercise her right to vote after all. Hiller was turned away because she did not have a photo ID, and Kansas has a strict voter ID law that disenfranchises voters without identification...
See the full story from Ian Millhiser here. Hiller wasn't allowed to vote by provisional ballot, though it likely wouldn't have helped either her or the other elderly voters on the same bus who were turned away that day.
As the Topeka Capital-Journal reported the story of what happened to Hiller and the other senior citizens who lost their voting rights in Kansas during the recent primary, "Kobach spearheaded the ID law and a proof-of-citizenship requirement to register, saying the measures are necessary to prevent voter impersonation and protect the state from 'alien' voters."
Of course, despite his pretend claims and his 2010 SoS campaign promise to "STOP VOTER FRAUD", Kobach has been unable to find any of it. But, hey, at least he's keeping some of the oldest people in his state from being able to participate in their "representative democracy" at all! That's gotta count for something!
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Broken climate: Historic storms and floods paralyze cities from Nebraska to Detroit to Long Island, while California breaks heat records - again; China dumping coal, breaking solar records; PLUS: President Jimmy Carter criticizes climate-denying Republicans as 'nutcases'... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Oil companies fracking into drinking water sources; More critical U.S. energy facilities face rising flood risks; Electricity blackouts have doubled since 2003; Rules block solar panels in many states with abundant sunlight; Japan replaced half its nuclear power with energy efficiency... PLUS: 'Natural capital': putting a price on nature is a neoliberal road to ruin ... and much, MUCH more! ...
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· Baghdad Burning
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· Fired Up! Missouri
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· Juan Cole
· Washington Monthly
· Media Matters
· Nashua Advocate
· Oliver Willis
· RAW STORY
· Sanoma State's
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· Skippy the Bush Kangaroo
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· Think Progress
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· Cagle's Index
· Chan Lowe
· Don Wright
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· Jeff Danziger
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· Mike Luckovich
· Non Sequitur
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· This Modern World
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