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The BRAD BLOG at 10: 'White House Website Scrubbing'

Wed, 02/05/2014 - 18:04

I've been looking back at some of our most noteworthy stories over the years, in the course of reflecting on The BRAD BLOG's 10th Anniversary.

As I was digging into the archives, I was reminded again that while many folks know us for our coverage of election integrity issues, voting machine problems, whistleblowers, etc., it was our scoop about a story concerning the George W. Bush White House in the lead-up to the 2004 President Election that was our first to "go national" and have a direct effect on the national political discourse.

It was before we had even begun digging as deep as we eventually would on the e-voting beat, and the fallout from the story itself resulted in national pick-up by the MSM, pressure on officials and questions at White House press conferences, an academic study (years later) and, the most fun part, the Bush White House eventually being forced to spend what must have been an enormous amount of man hours restoring date to the White House website in the week before the actual election that year...

That first BRAD BLOG story to be picked up by the national press occurred in autumn of 2004. During the Vice Presidential Debate that October between Dick Cheney and John Edwards, Cheney had pretended to express outrage after Edwards described the U.S. as "having taken 90 percent of coalition casualties" by that time in the Iraq War. Cheney pretended to be infuriated by the charge, and responded that it was "beyond the pale" that Edwards hadn't included the number of dead and injured Iraqis in his count of who had taken the most casualties, as if dead and injured Iraqis should have been included amongst what the U.S. considered to be its "coalition" in Iraq.

Given that the Bush White House had long cited a list of countries (very few of them) which they had tricked into joining their so-called "Coalition of the Willing" --- many of those countries offered little more to the effort than a few dollars, or a handful of non-military advisers, just so the Bush White House could include them on its list --- I decided to check the White House website itself that night to see if Iraq itself was now listed amongst those "coalition" countries.

Turns out, by the time I checked the White House's list that night --- their link to "Who Are the Coalition Members?" was still there --- the page itself had been disappeared without notice or explanation from the website. Thus the "White House Website Scrubbing" story was born. Democratic Underground ran a story of mine on it (and created the swell graphic seen at the top of this story), then then AFP picked it up, then Washington Post did too (Reuters didn't bother to notice until January of 2005) and soon WH reporters were asking Administration officials about it at all at press gaggles.

It turned out that it was more than just that "Coalition of the Willing" page that we discovered had been disappeared from the White House website in the run-up to the 2004 Election. All sorts of inconvenient material --- such as the 2002 video of Bush announcing that he was "not that concerned" about Osama bin Laden (remember, this was pre-YouTube, when space and bandwidth for videos was at a premium) and other stuff they might otherwise have liked to keep from showing up in online videos by snarky jerks --- had also been unceremoniously removed from the White House website as they had geared up for that year's campaign. It was all done, as I reported at the time, in likely violation of the Presidential Records Act of 1978, the law passed after Watergate which made destruction of Presidential documents a violation of law.

And then, just three weeks after our original report and continued ankle-biting, the White House was finally embarrassed enough that they relented and were forced, in the week before the 2004 general election, to spend untold hours restoring terabytes of documents, audio and video to the White House website. It was, perhaps, The BRAD BLOG's first clear victory.

It was also an important lesson in the early years of the blogosphere, that persistence, careful fact-gathering and crowd-sourcing on important issues could move the needle one way or another. That was, of course, back when there were far fewer of us in this "business" and the blogosphere was routinely sniffed at, particularly by those in the MSM, as something far less serious than they.

It would be another four years --- in 2008 --- when our contribution to this matter made it into the official history books, as a study at the University of Illinois Urabana-Champaign, "Airbrushing History, American Style" documented The BRAD BLOG's findings in an academic paper and confirmed the George W. Bush White House's apparent violation of the Presidential Records Act.

Unlike too many in the mainstream corporate media who picked up our story as it happened in 2004, Scott Althaus and Kalev Leetaru, the authors of the Cline Center study at the University of Illinois, were kind enough to give us credit for having made the discovery and having documented for history in the first place.

* * *

See the most noteworthy stories from our "White House Website Scrubbing" series here.

And please consider a donation to The BRAD BLOG, to help us continue this type independent reporting, trouble-making and muckraking for as long as possible!

I'd be very happy to send a signed DVD copy of the award-winning documentary Murder, Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story by Patty Sharaf to supporters who either donate $50 or more below or, preferably, sign up for "Monthly Sustaining Support" at $20 or more. The film (which I'm in, but it's good anyway) tells the remarkable, funny and, yes, terrifying story of a Republican software programmer-turned-whistleblower's allegations of vote-rigging software said to have been requested at a very high level. It's based on the startling story we originally broke in late 2004 (also in our first year!) and continued reporting on for years thereafter.

Thanks in advance for your support!...

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Categories: Brad Blog

'Jobs, Jobs, Jobs' and the GOP Lying About Them

Wed, 02/05/2014 - 10:05

[This article now cross-published by Salon...]

We've long argued that the Republican Party is no longer a legitimate governing party. Never mind whether we agree with them on any particular policy issue, they are simply no longer a serious organization.

That fact was underscored again on Tuesday and over the weekend, in light of the release of two different official reports, one from the U.S. State Department on the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline project and another from the Congressional Budget Office on the economic outlook in light of the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or "Obamacare").

Never mind whether you agree with the Republican position on either of those two policies. The fact that the party feels it necessary to blatantly lie about what's in each of those reports, specifically with regard to "job creation," in order to advocate for their own policy positions, underscores yet again that these are simply not serious people who are worth being taken seriously anymore...

Keystone XL Jobs Lie

If it receives approval from both the State Dept. and White House, the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would ship dirty tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico to be shipped overseas.

After years of claims by Republicans that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would "create tens of thousands of jobs," we now have some hard numbers on that, at least from the U.S. State Department, if you choose to believe them.

Last year, while pushing for the KXL, House Speaker John Boehner released a statement claiming that the pipeline "will create over 20,000 direct jobs and 100,000 indirect jobs." On Friday, as the State Dept. released its "Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement" on the project, Boehner once again released a statement re-iterating his previous claim that the pipeline would bring "more than 100,000 jobs".

The trouble is, that's not true. At least according to the actual State Dept. report which was the occasion for Boehner's Friday statement.

The report is long and in many pieces, so, naturally, it'd be too much to ask of the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives or anybody in his office to actually read it before issuing a statement about it. Nonetheless, it comes with a reasonably brief Executive Summary [PDF] (just 44 pages) in which it speaks directly to the issue of jobs in relation to KXL.

In the section on "Economic Activity During Construction" (page 26), the report estimates that "Construction spending would support a combined total of approximately 42,100 jobs throughout the United States for the up to 2-year construction period."

That sounds pretty good! Until one bothers to keep reading. "A job consists of one position that is filled for one year. The term support means jobs ranging from new jobs (i.e., not previously existing) to the continuity of existing jobs in current or new locations."

Approximately 16,100 of those temporary jobs would be "direct jobs at firms that are awarded contracts for goods and services, including construction" and the rest, "approximately 26,000," would be the result of "indirect or induced spending". In other words, that would be "goods and services purchased by the construction contractors and spending by employees working for either the construction contractor or for any supplier of goods and services required in the construction process."

So, in addition to people who work for suppliers (where they may already be employed prior to the approval of KXL), people who work at restaurants or motels near the construction site or for any of the suppliers, also count as "jobs" in this estimate. For example, the report cites "ranchers providing beef for restaurants and construction camps."

Fair enough. Two years of jobs for those folks, many of whom will be able to continue working in the jobs they already have (so those jobs are not "created", per se, by the construction of the pipeline.)

After it's built, however, either one or two years later, according to the very next section of the Executive Summary entitled "Economic Activity During Operations", the report states quite clearly [emphasis added]:

Once the proposed Project enters service, operations would require approximately 50 total employees in the United States: 35 permanent employees and 15 temporary contractors.

That's it. The Keystone XL Pipeline will offer 35 permanent jobs in the U.S. for the life of the pipeline, according to the U.S. State Department's final analysis.

That's a far cry from Boehner's claim on Friday, after the report came out, that KXL would bring "more than 100,000 jobs...with it".

Of course, Boehner's hardly the only one in the Republican Party disingenuously making such unsupported claims about KXL. Last year, GOP Chairman Reince Priebus took to Facebook to claim that "The Keystone Pipeline would create thousands of jobs." Last week, he took to Twitter to claim that "721,000 construction jobs have been lost, #Keystone remains unapproved."

Perhaps Priebus was referring to something other than Keystone with that 721,000 number --- it's unclear from his tweet --- but if his message was unclear, that would be no accident. His quarter of a million followers on Twitter heard it loud and clear. He, like Boehner, was willing to lie to them in order to advocate for the pipeline --- a pipeline that would result in 35 permanent American jobs.

Again, whether you support or oppose the pipeline doesn't really matter. Whether you feel temporary jobs are good enough, that's fine. But knowingly lying about the jobs that it will or won't "create" is what we find grotesquely offensive here.

Obamacare Jobs Lie

This one was a doozy. On Tuesday, a new report [PDF] on the economic outlook for the U.S. through 2024 was released by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Republicans couldn't wait to mischaracterize lie about what it said.

As usual, Fox "News" lead the charge on behalf of Republican officials (who repeated the lie all day), claiming that "ObamaCare could lead to loss of nearly 2.3 million US jobs, report says".

The National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) was just one of dozens of other official GOP mouth-pieces to echo the completely misleading claim...

Non-partisan CBO report admits #ObamaCare is hurting the economy, will cost 2.5 millions jobs. http://t.co/wpIi1NfvV5

— NRCC (@NRCC) February 4, 2014

For the record, other non-Rightwing outlets also badly mischaracterized the report. The Republicans were very happy about that, and couldn't be bothered to correct the error.

No, the CBO did not claim Obamacare would will lead to the loss of either 2.3 or 2.5 million jobs, as the Republicans lied all day on Tuesday.

As the Washington Post's Fact Checker columnist Glenn Kessler explained in awarding three out of four "Pinocchios" to those who deliberately mislead about the CBO's projection on ACA-related employment numbers, "No, CBO did not say Obamacare will kill 2 million jobs."

"This is not about jobs," Kessler explains. "It’s about workers --- and the choices they make."

Here's what all the nonsense is about. Buried on page 123 of the 182-page CBO report, it states: "CBO estimates that the ACA will reduce the total number of hours worked, on net, by about 1.5 percent to 2.0 percent during the period from 2017 to 2024, almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor --- given the new taxes and other incentives they will face and the financial benefits some will receive."

In other words, because premium subsidies and other incentives will be available, some workers will eventually be able to chose to not continue working, simply because they need the healthcare coverage afforded by their employment.

"Specifically, CBO estimates that the ACA will cause a reduction of roughly 1 percent in aggregate labor compensation over the 2017--2024 period, compared with what it would have been otherwise," the report says. "The estimated reduction stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in businesses’ demand for labor, so it will appear almost entirely as a reduction in labor force participation and in hours worked relative to what would have occurred otherwise rather than as an increase in unemployment."

As White House spokesman Jay Carney explained after the report was released on Tuesday: "At the beginning of this year, we noted that as part of this new day in health care, Americans would no longer be trapped in a job just to provide coverage for their families, and would have the opportunity to pursue their dreams," he said. "This CBO report bears that out, and the Republican plan to repeal the ACA would strip those hard-working Americans of that opportunity."

This is about people choosing to not work as long in life or as many hours. (Moreover, those jobs could then become available to others still seeking more work.) In short, the CBO's numbers were not about the loss of jobs, at all. It's really not all that complicated, unless you'd like to lie to the American people about it.

Now, you are welcome to disagree with the CBO numbers, or Carney's or Kessler's or our interpretation of them. (As usual, you don't need to simply trust us. We've given you the links to the actual reports. Read them and decide for yourself.) You are welcome to think it's an outrage that people might choose to work less when they are ill, because they don't have to keep working in order to pay for health care. You are welcome to hate Obamacare all you like and demand its complete repeal, just as you are welcome to call for the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, if you like the idea of shipping the world's dirtiest fossil fuel product across a continent of drinking water in order to ship gas to China.

But when you've got to lie, repeatedly, about demonstrable, independently verifiable facts, then you are not a legitimate advocate that deserves to be taken seriously.

The Republican Party has given up on advocating seriously for whatever policy positions they believe in. They are far past that, and have now simply taken to lying in hopes of scamming Americans into voting for them and buying into their policies.

That is not the earmark of a serious policy-making organization, and it is for that reason that we --- sadly --- no longer regard the Republican Party as a legitimate political body.

That's not good for America or for Democrats, for that matter. But it just happens to be the sad truth.


Categories: Brad Blog

'Green News Report' - February 4, 2014

Tue, 02/04/2014 - 17:55


 

IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Keystone XL pipeline moves one step closer to approval; Britain pummeled by record rain and floods; Another coal-related spill contaminates drinking water, this time in North Carolina; PLUS: The Arctic wins again --- for now --- as Shell Oil drops plans to drill this summer ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

Please help us connect the climate change dots over your public airwaves!
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO DONATE!
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Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

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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): Great Barrier Reef to become sludge repository for Big Coal port; World's largest solar thermal plant opens in CA; Iceland taps magma for energy; Senate passes Farm Bill; Safe, Schmafe: Pesticides ok for kids?; Environment loses in Russia's race to Sochi; US food companies go GMO-free in EU; Chemical Safety Board underfunded, understaffed at critical time ... PLUS: Video: Wingnuts think Southern snow was faked by the government ... 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
  • 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:

  • Categories: Brad Blog

    Have a Coke Ad and a Smile

    Mon, 02/03/2014 - 19:32

    Exactly as a twitterer from MSNBC had correctly predicted last week, the Rightwing is throwing a shit fit over an awesome, multicultural Super Bowl ad.

    Never mind that the Right had only pretended to be outraged by that tweet. And, sure, today's shit fit is over a different ad than the perfectly accurate and appropriate MSNBC tweet had predicted. But, otherwise, MSNBC was absolutely right. (And the cable channel's cowardly execs who felt it necessary to appease the loon RW extremists by deleting the tweet, apologizing for it, and then firing the person who wrote it, were pathetically and embarrassingly wrong.)

    The best ad of the day on Super Bowl Sunday --- and not only because it's proven MSNBC's fired twitterer correct --- wasn't the Cheerios ad of note (though it was awesome), it was this ad from Coca-Cola...

    Cool, right? Well, apparently not to the extremists who have taken over the mainstream Right in this country, including Glenn Beck who charges today that the ad was meant "to divide us politically"...

    "That's all this ad is," Beck said on his show this morning. "It's an in your face --- and if you don't like it, if you're offended by it, then you're a racist. If you do like it, well then you're for immigration. That's what it is. You're for progress. That's all this is --- is to divide people."

    Beck, who's not insane at all, says yesterday's "It's Beautiful" ad was somehow in contrast to Coca-Cola's famous 1971 "Hillside" ad.

    "Remember Coke used to do a thing and we'd all hold hands?," Beck asked. "Now it's, 'Have a Coke and we'll divide you.'"

    Yes. It's Coke that's changed. Not the Right itself. Really? Anybody honestly think the very same xenophobic wingnuts wouldn't be throwing the very same paranoid xenophobic shit fit today had Coke run an ad with multicultural people all holding hands together and singing on a hillside yesterday, instead of in 1971, rather than the ad they ran with multicultural people singing "America the Beautiful" yesterday? For that matter, the 1971 ad is pretty much the very same idea as the ad that ran yesterday, except yesterday's explicitly sang the praises of this country more and included the hashtag "#AmericaIsBeautiful"!

    Well, that's outrageous! Boycott!!!

    But, you know, to the Glenn Becks of the world, it's Coke that's changed over the last 40 years, not the fact that extremists on the Right have now been allowed to become the mainstream of their party.

    Here's the America-hating 1971 ad, in case any of the wingnut loon howler monkeys screaming about yesterday's Coke ad --- celebrating America as beautiful!!! --- weren't alive yet or have forgotten about it in the course of their Fox "News"-induced brainwashing of the last several decades...


    Peace.


    Categories: Brad Blog

    Polling Place Photo ID Restriction Law Costing Big Money for 'Small Government' Republicans in TX

    Mon, 02/03/2014 - 16:27

    Completely unnecessary polling place Photo ID restrictions enacted by so-called "small government conservatives" are costing taxpayers more and more big government money every day.

    In Dallas County, Texas, for example, where County Commissioners are wrestling with the Republican-enacted state law to restrict which legal voters will be allowed to vote, hundreds of thousands of dollars have already been allocated to try and help legally registered voters retain their right to vote in the upcoming March primary election, according to the Dallas Morning News. And it looks like they will have to spend still more.

    The cost of "small government conservatism" to taxpayers continues to mount in the Lone Star State, on outreach to voters and administrative necessities, as well as the cost of defending the voting restrictions in state and federal court...

    The state restriction on legal voters, enacted by TX Attorney General (and 2014 Gubernatorial candidate) Greg Abbot just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted a key provision of the federal Voting Rights Act last Summer, is being challenged by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, as well as by Dallas County itself, which has joined the federal suit against the state.

    The law had been blocked several times after being found in violation of the Voting Rights Act over recent years, before SCOTUS gutted that part of the nearly 50-year old landmark statute. During previous VRA hearings on the law, however, the federal courts also noted that TX' version also appeared to violate the U.S. Constitution, as we detailed last year. With that in mind, The BRAD BLOG's legal analyst Ernie Canning has argued that the latest federal legal challenge to TX' voting restrictions will result in Constitutional problems for the state law. (To date, we should note, Canning's record has been spot on in regard to other legal predictions related to Photo ID restrictions elsewhere.)

    To be clear (since proponents of these laws like to ignore this point), like the majority of the states in the country, Texas already had reasonable Voter ID restrictions in place (as does the National Voter Registration Act), before they changed the law to limit the type of IDs that may be used for voting. For example, a state-issued concealed handgun permit is now allowed for voting purposes, but a state-issued student ID is not, for some reason. The problem, as usual, is not requiring some form of ID to register and/or vote, it's the requirement for very specific types of Photo IDs that millions of (largely Democratic-leaning) voters simply do not already own. In Texas, additional problems are related to the new ban on expired drivers licenses and the requirement for an exact name match between allowable Photo IDs and the voter's registration record.

    But until all the legal challenges are resolved one way or another, Dallas County Commissioners are worried about some 195,000 legal, registered voters they've been able to identify in their county alone who may have trouble voting in next month's primary. To date, the Commission has approved spending $275,000 to join the federal lawsuit against TX, and they have had to allocate another $145,000 for voter outreach to try and alert those whose IDs don't match identically with their voter registration that they may have a problem voting this year.

    "The first major mailing, sent on Jan. 24 at a cost of $79,000," according to the Morning News, "focused on name discrepancies that voters might have between their photo ID and the voter registration database. Such complications are more common among women, who are more likely to have changed their last names."

    The paper says that, according to officials, "By Friday afternoon, more than 14,000 voters had responded to the letter and updated their name in the voter registration database" But, they add, "that means many more of the 195,000 with potential name problems haven't responded."

    This week, the Commissioners will consider a new proposal "to spend up to an additional $165,000 on efforts to resolve voters' complications with improper photo ID and name discrepancies between required forms of identification."

    The Commission is made up of elected officials, all of whom are Democrats, except for the one lone Republican, Mike Cantrell, who opposed the County joining the federal lawsuit last year and, according to the Dallas Morning News this week, is concerned about the new County proposal to spend more money on expanded voter outreach.

    "We're not Washington," Cantrell told the paper. "We can't keep just throwing money at the problem."

    "Problem?" Um, what "problem", Mr. Cantrell? Your "small government" party has told Americans that polling place Photo ID restrictions were the solution, not the problem. What "problem" could you possibly be thinking of?

    * * *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...


    Categories: Brad Blog

    Federal Lawsuit Filed Against FEC Seeks to Shed Light on Karl Rove's 'Dark Money' Donors

    Mon, 02/03/2014 - 09:05

    With Brad Friedman...

    After a recent three-to-three decision by a partisan-deadlocked Federal Elections Commission (FEC), Karl Rove may have thought he was off the hook for federal campaign finance violations by his Crossroads GPS organization. Two non-profit, good government groups, however, feel differently. Last Friday, they filed a federal lawsuit [PDF] against the FEC in hopes of forcing the agency to reverse its ruling, revisit the complaint against his group's 2010 electioneering, and to enforce federal campaign finance rules as specified by law.

    Late last Friday, Attorneys from the non-partisan Campaign Legal Center and the Public Citizen Litigation Group filed a civil complaint against the FEC in U.S. District Court in Washington D.C.

    The suit seeks to reverse what the plaintiffs describe as an "arbitrary" and "capricious" decision by the three Republican FEC Commissioners, in contradiction of the advice of their own staff attorneys, to dismiss the administrative complaint the groups had filed against Rove's organization. That administrative complaint charged that Rove's group violated federal campaign finance law during the 2010 election cycle.

    The votes by the three Republican FEC Commissioners effectively quashed any further official investigation into the allegations that Rove's group violated the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA) when it spent the majority of its money during the 2010 election cycle on electioneering, but failed to register as a "political committee" with the FEC, as required by law. Their decision to shut down the investigation came after what the FEC's own staff attorneys found to be a likely violation of the federal campaign finance law.

    By dismissing the administrative complaint and shutting the door on the investigation, the Republican FEC Commissioners not only allowed Rove to keep, as a secret, the identity of donors of tens of millions of dollars used to support Republican Congressional campaigns in 2010, but effectively offered Rove carte blanche to conceal donor identities with respect to monies spent in subsequent elections, such as the 2012 election cycle in which Crossroads GPS "spent at least $71 million on federal campaign activity," according to the newly filed federal complaint.

    The plaintiffs charge that the FEC's deadlock was the result of "an impermissible interpretation of FECA," and the agency's own published guidelines due to an "abuse of discretion" by the Republican commissioners in a manner that was "otherwise contrary to law"...

    Shell Game

    While the suit was filed last week, the intention to file was first announced by Craig Holman, the Government Affairs Lobbyist for Public Citizen's Congress Watch, during an interview last month with Brad Friedman on the KPFK/Pacifica Radio BradCast.

    As Holman, one of four plaintiffs in the case, explained at the time, the number of deadlocked 3-3 votes at the FEC has increased "nine-fold" since 2008, effectively preventing enforcement of federal campaign finance laws over the past five years.

    In this instance, the three Republican FEC Commissioners, as alleged in the complaint, ignored detailed evidence against Crossroads GPS, as well as legal definitions provided by both statute and FEC rules. Their votes not to pursue any further action were also in direct contradiction with the recommendations of the FEC's own Office of General Counsel (OGC).

    During his BradCast appearance, Holman had asserted that the three Republican FEC Commissioners "rigged the math" in a desperate and convoluted effort to justify their determination that there was "no reason to believe" that Crossroads GPS --- one of the nation's largest sources of "dark money" contributions in federal elections --- is a "political committee" with the obligation to register as such with the FEC. Instead, Rove's group declares itself to be a non-profit 501(c)(4) organization which, according to laws governing the IRS, is reserved for organizations "exclusively" engaged in the promotion of "social welfare", rather than electioneering.

    Rove's 501(c)(4) designation allows him to conceal the identity of Crossroads GPS donors. By contrast, an FEC registered "political committee" is required to reveal the identities of its donors.

    Both the allegations in the federal complaint, as well as the express findings of a Nov. 21, 2012 Report issued by the FEC's Office of General Counsel, suggest that Crossroads GPS is a "political committee" hiding behind a self-erected, tax-exempt, non-profit 501(c)(4) façade. (To date, the IRS does not appear to have granted Crossroads GPS's application for approval as a 501(c)(4) organization.)

    Crossroads GPS was created in June of 2010 by Republican strategists Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie. It was a spin-off organization of "American Crossroads, a Section 527 political organization and FEC-registered independent expenditure-only political committee (a.k.a. 'super PAC')," according to the federal complaint.

    The two organizations, as described in the OGC's Report, "operate from the same address and share at least four corporate officers." While the groups admit to raising funds jointly, both the legal complaint and the OGC Report assert that a prime reason for creating the spin-off group was because, as acknowledged by Steven Law, the president of both organizations, "anonymity for donors to the 501(c)(4) was a valuable fund raising tool."

    In other words, the identity of donors who gave to American Crossroads would, legally, need to be disclosed. But donors to Crossroads GPS, under the scheme that Rove and Gillespie devised, would be able to remain anonymous.

    As noted in the federal complaint, Ken Vogel at Politico reported on Crossroads GPS, just after its 2010 formation: "A new political operation conceived by Republican operatives Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie formed a spinoff group last month that --- thanks in part to its ability to promise donors anonymity --- has brought in more money in its first month than the parent organization [American Crossroads] has raised since it started in March."

    Vogel went on to report that "a veteran GOP operative familiar with the group's fundraising activities said the spin-off was formed largely because donors were reluctant to see their names publicly associated with giving to a 527 group [American Crossroads]."

    The trick worked. After formation of Crossroads GPS in the summer of 2010, the money came pouring in --- tens of millions of it --- just in time to be used for that year's elections and, according to both the federal complaint and the FEC's own attorneys, to be used directly for electioneering activity in support of electing Republicans to Congress. That 2010 election would eventually bring with it a Republican House majority and the freshman class of so-called 'Tea Party' Congress members.

    As cited in the federal complaint, Rove himself appeared on Fox "News" before the election to call for donors who could legally give no more money to official Republican campaign committees, to give it to his groups instead.

    "What we've essentially said is, if you've maxed out to the Senatorial Committee, the Congressional Committee or the RNC and would like to do more, under the Citizens United decisions, you can give money to the American Crossroads 527 or Crossroads GPS," Rove explained at the time.

    Donors answered the call, and sought out the anonymity offered by Rove's "social welfare" organization.

    "On October 5, 2010," the complaint notes by way of just one example, "Crossroads GPS and American Crossroads announced a $4.2 million ad buy, targeting eight hotly contested Senate races. Seventy-five percent of the ad buy was paid for with funds from undisclosed donors."

    The complaint describes how the OGC "found that [Crossroads GPS] had spent at least $20.8 million on federal campaign activity...between June and December 2010 --- more than half of the $39.1 million Crossroads GPS reported to the IRS that it spent in 2010."

    The expenditure of "approximately 53 percent of...Crossroads GPS's spending in 2010," in and of itself, was "sufficient to establish that its major purpose in 2010 was the nomination or election of federal candidates," according to the OGC, which urged further investigation by the Commission to determine the full scope of the group's 2010 campaign spending.

    For their part, the three Democratic FEC Commissioners issued a Jan. 10, 2014 "Statement of Reasons" [PDF], detailing their justification for voting to follow OGC's recommendations to authorize further investigation of what they saw as "a clear-cut case" with respect to Crossroads GPS's "vast" political expenditures.

    However, since it takes four votes to move forward with an FEC investigation, the three Republican FEC Commissioners were able to bring the investigation of Rove's Crossroads GPS to a grinding halt. Their decision to dismiss the administrative complaint prevented the agency from enforcing federal "disclosure requirements", which the federal complaint describes as "essential to the health of our democracy."

    Rove's Math

    So how'd they get away with it?

    As detailed in the federal complaint, both the FECA law and U.S. Supreme Court decisions have established a two-pronged test for determining whether a "committee, club, association or other group of persons" is to be defined as a "political committee." The first part of the test, which is not in dispute as applicable to Crossroads GPS, is whether contributions received or expended exceeded $1,000 "during a calendar year".

    The second prong of the test, as established by the Supreme Court in Buckley v. Valeo (1976), is that the term "political committee" must be limited only to "organizations that are under the control of or the major purpose of which is the nomination or election of a candidate." [Emphasis added.] The "major purpose" test was established by the Court in order to shield groups from the effects of the FECA statute if they are simply "engaged purely in issue discussion".

    As lead plaintiff Public Citizen explained in its Jan. 31 press release in support of their lawsuit:

    In 2007, the FEC published a detailed policy laying out how the agency will determine an organization's major purpose. The policy provides that the FEC will consider public and non-public statements by the organization and the proportion of spending on "federal election activity," which includes spending on express advocacy (messages calling for a vote for or against a candidate) as well as electioneering communications and other materials that discuss the merits of a candidate immediately before an election.

    The FEC attorneys agreed that the amount of spending by Crossroads GPS on campaigns in 2010 should have required the group to register as a "political committee" with the Commission. Their report found that "Crossroads GPS's proportion of spending related to federal campaign activity is alone sufficient to establish that its major purpose in 2010 was the nomination or election of federal candidates."

    The GOP Commissioners, however, with the help of Rove himself, ignored those recommendations and invented a new way to decide how the "major purpose" of Crossroads GPS would be established.

    As Holman explained during his BradCast interview, the three Republican FEC Commissioners --- as seen in their own Jan 8, 2014 "Statement of Reasons" [PDF] for voting against any further action in the matter --- simply replaced the statutory definitions of law, as well as the FEC's own long-standing rules, in order to "rig the math".

    First, as Holman observed, "they counted for electioneering activity only express advocacy ads...in which the ad said 'vote for', or 'against', or 'elect'. They did not count...advertisements in which the ad doesn't actually say 'vote for', but it casts the candidate almost always in a very negative light right near the election, which is clearly designed to influence how one votes." In other words, the Republican FEC Commissioners insisted that a barrage of deceptive, negative attack ads directed against political candidates immediately prior to an election should not be counted as electioneering activity.

    Second, instead of examining expenditures during the "calendar year" of the 2010 election, as mandated by the FECA statute itself, the Republican Commissioners permitted Rove and Crossroads GPS to designate their own self-determined fiscal year as the period during which the group's "major purpose" should be determined.

    "Instead of actually calculating the expenditures by Crossroads GPS during the election cycle" itself, according to Holman, "Karl Rove decided he wants to pick as his fiscal year June 1, 2010 through May 31, 2011. That means that a little bit of the election cycle is in there, but mostly it's after the election when Crossroads GPS is doing more issue advocacy, rather than electioneering."

    With Rove's new math, the "approximately 53 percent" of total expenditures Crossroads GPS spent on elections in 2010 (and even that number was a low-ball estimate by the FEC's legal counsel), became watered down to a minority of its total expenditures, once the non-election year of 2011 was factored in to account for the Republicans' preferred "fiscal year" basis of spending.

    'Arbitrary, Capricious, an Abuse of Discretion, Otherwise Contrary to Law'

    "The Commission has unfortunately failed to adhere to its own policy on political committee status or to recent judicial decisions finding that policy to be valid and constitutional," the Democratic FEC Commissioners complained in their Statement of Reasons after the original administrative complaint was dismissed, courtesy of the 3-3 deadlocked vote.

    In so doing, the federal complaint charges, the FEC dismissal "rest[s] on manifest errors of law" and has denied the plaintiffs' ability to do their own jobs.

    Two of the plaintiffs in the case are the non-partisan, non-profit group, Public Citizen and its Legislative Representative, Holman. The complaint alleges: "One of Public Citizens' primary missions is...to combat corruption in the political system through election reform." Its members include voters who "reside in states and electoral districts where Crossroads GPS has engaged in spending to affect federal elections." The concealment of donor identity impairs those members' "informed exercise of the vote."

    The other two plaintiffs are ProtectOurElections.org (POE) and its attorney Kevin Zeese, Esq. POE "is a national collaboration of grassroots organizations that work together to provide oversight of elections and to advocate for campaign finance reforms," according to the complaint, which alleges that both POE and Zeese "rely on political committees public disclosure reports to evaluate the influence of money in politics."

    [Full disclosure of our own: POE is an off-shoot campaign of VelvetRevolution.us, a non-profit good government organization co-founded by The BRAD BLOG. We were not, however, involved with either the initial 2010 administrative complaint filed with the FEC against Rove's group, or the lawsuit filed last week in federal district court.]

    Both Holman and Zeese, as registered voters, seek redress from the impairment of their right to an "informed exercise of the vote."

    In response to a query from The BRAD BLOG, attorney Paul S. Ryan, Senior Counsel at The Campaign Legal Center stated that the plaintiffs are relying upon "informational standing" as established in the 1996 en banc decision by the full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeal in Akins v. Federal Election Commission.

    In that case, the court analogized a voter's right to campaign donor information to that of a party entering a contract. "If a party is denied information that will help it in making a transaction --- and a vote can be thought of as a kind of transaction --- that party is obviously injured in fact," according to the Akins court.

    The case also established that, before seeking relief with the court, an individual must first file a complaint with the FEC. "Only parties aggrieved by the dismissal of a complaint are entitled to challenge in court the Commission's refusal to enforce." Here, that occurred.

    The complaint also cites Orloski v. Federal Election Commission (1986), which establishes the right to challenge an FEC decision to dismiss a complaint that is based upon "an impermissible interpretation of the law." Here, the plaintiffs argue, that happened as well.

    They seek relief from the court as follows...

    WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs, by their undersigned counsel, respectfully request that the Court grant the following relief:

    a) Declare that the Commission’s decision to dismiss Plaintiffs’ administrative complaint was based on an impermissible interpretation of FECA, and was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and otherwise contrary to law;

    b) Order the FEC to conform to such a declaration within 30 days, see 2 U.S.C. § 437g(a)(8)(C);

    c) Award legal fees and costs of suit incurred by Plaintiffs; and

    d) Grant such other and further relief as this Court deems just and proper.

    If the case is successful, the FEC will be forced to reopen the investigation into campaign finance violations by Rove's "social welfare" organization. If that happens, Rove and his massive "dark money" scheme, as well as others like it which have sprung up in its wide, dark shadow, may be in danger of finally being forced into the light of day.

    As Public Citizen's President Robert Weissman noted in the groups official announcement of the suit last week, "If Crossroads GPS gets away with this, it will be an open invitation to every corporation and wealthy individual who wants to propel specific candidates into office. The voices of all those voters who don't have millions of dollars to spend on elections will not be heard."

    * * *Ernest A. Canning has been an active member of the California state bar since 1977. Mr. Canning has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science as well as a juris doctor. He is also a Vietnam vet (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968). Follow him on Twitter: @Cann4ing

    * * *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...


    Categories: Brad Blog

    Poll: Things Looking Up for PA Governor Tom Corbett's Re-Election Prospects!

    Fri, 01/31/2014 - 16:40

    Sure, Pennsylvania's Republican Governor Tom Corbett may be the dumbest in the nation, but the competition for that title is certainly fierce and tough to quantify.

    Who can forget his advice to women of the state back in 2012 that they should just lie back and "close your eyes" while being forced by his government to receive a vaginal ultrasound while the monitor must be pointed towards them before terminating a pregnancy? That was fun.

    Then there was his claim that same year, described as "ludicrous" to The BRAD BLOG by a longtime Keystone State election integrity expert, that the GOP polling place Photo ID restriction bill he signed into law was needed, in no small part, because some precincts in the state "come in with a 112 percent" turnout. Of course, that was completely untrue, but, hey, it sounded like actual information! That voter restriction law, as we reported recently, was permanently enjoined by a state court earlier this month after it was found to be in violation of the commonwealth's constitutional right to vote. The law, according to the court, would also have disenfranchised "hundreds of thousands" of legal voters in the bargain.

    But how could Corbett have known that? After all, when Corbett's own appointed Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele (another great mind and, coincidentally, the wife of Corbett's own Chief of Staff), was asked about it in court during the legal challenge to the law, she admitted, "I don't know what the law says." Hey, if the state's chief election official doesn't know how many thousands or millions of otherwise legal voters will be disenfranchised by a law, how should the Governor be expected to know any better?!

    But the news is not all bad for Gov. Genius, as a new poll out this week in advance of his exciting re-election bid this year details!...

    Fewer than one-fourth of Pennsylvania voters think Gov. Tom Corbett (R) should be reelected, according to a Franklin & Marshall College poll released Thursday.

    The survey found that only 23 percent of Pennsylvania voters believe Corbett has done a good enough job to deserve reelection, while 63 percent believe it's time for a change. Even among his own party, just 42 percent said he should be reelected.

    The overall numbers are actually an improvement for the governor since last fall, when just 20 percent said he deserved to be reelected. But the latest poll still shows Corbett faring considerably worse than fellow Republican Rick Santorum before Santorum lost his Senate seat by a historic 18 points in 2006. That spring 36 percent of voters thought Santorum deserved reelection, while 52 percent called for a change.

    See? Look up, Guv! Your 20% support for re-election last year is now up to 23%! You're moving in the right direction! If the numbers don't move fast enough for ya, well, what can we say? Just lie back and "close your eyes". Maybe it'll all work out well in the end.

    * * *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...


    Categories: Brad Blog

    Football Fans Organize to Challenge NFL's Tax-Exempt Status, Billions in Govt Hand-Outs

    Fri, 01/31/2014 - 14:57

    In the lead up to this Sunday's Super Bowl XLVIII, an advocacy group calling itself SackNFLTaxBreaks.org announced its formation "to sack the National Football League's anti-fan behavior, its nonprofit tax-free status, as well as the overall government subsidization of the league."

    Co-founded by "New Orleans Saints fan Lynda Woolard" and Ryan Rudominer, "a proud shareholder of the Green Bay Packers, the NFL's only publicly owned team," the group says it hopes to "bring together supporters from associations, nonprofits, unions, corporations, government, journalism, think tanks, academia, the law, and leading advocacy organizations from across the political spectrum."

    Their advocacy, to date, is largely built upon a petition launched last year by Woolard calling on Congress to revoke the non-profit, tax-exempt status of the National Football League. Her petition, so far, has obtained more than 300,000 signatures.

    On their home page, the group notes that "Despite making $10 billion annually in profits, and paying Commissioner Roger Goodell a whopping $29.5 million dollars-a-year (15 times more than the nonprofit tax-free league gives to charity), the NFL receives a billion dollars annually in government assistance."

    The NFL is a separate entity from the individual teams in the league, which do pay taxes. At least two U.S. Senators, Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn and Maine independent Angus King (who caucuses with the Democrats), have recently "started a push to end" the NFL's non-profit status.

    While the movement to end the NFL's special tax breaks is relatively new, the issue of corporate welfare via professional sports has been the subject of previous, blistering critiques...

    Author Greg LeRoy, in his aptly named The Great American Jobs Scam (2005), cites Roger Noll and Andrew Zimbalist's Sports, Jobs and Taxes (1997) reveals how professional sports teams, owned by some of the wealthiest Americans, have duped both voters and locally elected politicians into publicly funding stadium and arena construction. As Noll and Zimbalist observed, "independent work on the economic impact of stadiums and arenas has uniformly found that there is no statistically positive correlation between sports facilities construction and economic development." Yet, the teams, citing their own paid economists, have consistently presented claims of jobs creation based upon what LeRoy describes as "faith-based economics."

    The result is a drastic enhancement of the values of the privately owned teams.

    One classic example involved George W. Bush, who, in 1989, invested $600,000 to purchase a share of the Texas Rangers baseball team. "Bush and his partners," LeRoy observed, persuaded "voters in...Arlington [TX] to approve a sales tax increase to pay more than two-thirds of the cost of a lavish new $191 million stadium and a surrounding development that included an amphitheater, shops, and restaurants. The lucrative deal," LeRoy added, "allowed the Rangers to collect rent from all the nearby facilities."

    In 1998, Thomas Hicks, a leveraged buy out billionaire from Dallas, purchased the team for $250 million. A scant nine years after Bush invested the $600,000, he got the mine while Arlington taxpayers got the shaft. His taxpayer-subsidized investment resulted in a sweet $14.9 million profit.

    * * *Ernest A. Canning has been an active member of the California state bar since 1977. Mr. Canning has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science as well as a juris doctor. He is also a Vietnam vet (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968). Follow him on Twitter: @Cann4ing


    Categories: Brad Blog

    California Democratic State Senator Convicted of False Residency Voter Fraud

    Thu, 01/30/2014 - 20:05

    On Tuesday, a Los Angeles County jury convicted California State Senator Roderick D. Wright (D) of false residency voter fraud, after finding that he lied about his address on voter registration and candidacy papers.

    Wright's crime was an elite form of voter fraud, which, along with almost all of the most prevalent forms of voter fraud, would not have been prevented by polling place Photo ID restriction laws.

    The jury was not persuaded by Wright's claim that he resided in the Inglewood residence of his common law stepmother. Prosecutors presented extensive evidence that established that Wright resided in an "upscale Baldwin Hills neighborhood" that was outside the district. They found that, in addition to lying about his address on his voter registration and candidacy papers, he fraudulently voted in five elections.

    As we have repeatedly explained, most recently in covering a recent judicial determination that Pennsylvania's Photo ID law violated that state's constitution, cases involving in-person voter impersonation by ordinary citizens --- the only type of voter fraud that can possibly be prevented by polling place Photo ID restrictions --- are about a scarce as hen's teeth. False residency, by contrast, is a form of voter fraud that has reached epidemic proportions amongst our political elites in both parties, especially, as Brad Friedman has tirelessly documented, amongst the very high-level Republicans who hypocritically call for Photo ID restrictions for everybody else.

    Where millions of innocent Americans are at risk of disenfranchisement as a result of the phantom menace of in-person voter fraud, prosecutions of elite politicians for false residency voter fraud have been rare. In one of those rare instances, former Indiana Republican Secretary of State Charlie White was convicted in 2012 of three counts of felony false residency voter fraud. His conviction was particularly ironic, given that he was the chief election official in the first state in the nation to implement polling place Photo ID restrictions. Despite his felony voter fraud charges (and four others) White has not had to serve so much as a single day in jail. Wright, a Democrat, faces up to eight years in prison.

    [Update 1/31/2014: Following a meeting by the Democratic caucus, California State Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg (D) announced that Wright will retain his seat pending appeal. However, the Democratic caucus, which sports a super-majority in the state Senate, removed Wright from his position as the Chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee.]

    Here are just a few of the cases of false residency voter fraud we've documented over recent years, by some high-profile GOPers you will be very familiar with...

    False residence voter fraud and high level Republicans

    MITT ROMNEY: During the Summer of 2012, long-shot GOP candidate Fred Karger filed a complaint with Massachusetts officials charging that the GOP 2012 nominee for President of the United was illegally registered to vote in his son's unfinished basement in Belmont, MA, despite having moved out of the state several years earlier. The release of Romney's 2010 federal tax returns did little to dispel the concern. Romney failed to include his state returns in his release (or those from 2009) which would likely show, as Karger detailed, Romney was not a resident of Massachusetts at the time he voted for Scott Brown in the January 2010 U.S. Senate special election to fill the seat of the late Ted Kennedy. Romney, who had houses in CA and NH, did not, in fact, own a house in MA until July of 2010 (in anticipation of another Presidential run), despite the fact that state law defines residency as "where a person dwells and which is the center of his domestic, social, and civil life." Residents in Belmont, MA, told Karger that neither he nor his wife had been seen in the town since selling their mansion and moving out of state years earlier.

    INDIANA SEC. OF STATE CHARLIE WHITE: In February of 2012, White was tossed out of office after being declared guilty of three voter fraud felonies, having been found by a jury to have registered and voted from a residence where he did not actually live. (The same thing that Romney appears to have done, as noted above.) Although White was convicted on a total of six felonies, he did not have to serve even one day in jail. Instead he received one year of home detention. Prior to that, in a separate civil case, White was ordered immediately removed from office by a circuit court judge who found that his fraudulent registration made him ineligible to be on the ballot when he was elected in 2010 in the first place. Ironically enough, Indiana was the very first state in the nation, in 2008, to institute polling place Photo ID restrictions, despite being unable to cite a single instance of in-person voter fraud in state history. Those restrictions, however, failed to keep White himself, the state's top election official, from committing voter fraud.

    SEN. RICHARD LUGAR: In February 2012, the long-serving Senator from Indiana was accused of doing exactly what his state's Sec. of State Charlie White was tossed out of office for --- not living at the address where he was registered to vote. In this case, the allegations came from Tea Party supporters of Richard Mourdock who defeated the popular Lugar to become the Indiana Republican Party U.S. Senate nominee. They charged that Lugar had been registered at a house where he had not lived since 1977. As in White's case, Indiana's First-in-the-Nation polling place Photo ID law failed deter any fraudulent voting by the erstwhile Senator.

    REP. TODD AKIN: Speaking of U.S. Senate candidates, the one nominated in 2012 by the Missouri Republican Party to face incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill that year, had been voting for years from a property outside of his own Congressional district where he does not live, as reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at the time. The charges echo those against Romney, Lugar and White. Akin's house, as the paper found during the campaign, was vacant and long-scheduled for suburban re-development. Still, the Congressman had continued to use it as his voting address for some seven elections, ever since the time that he and his family moved to their new house in a different town some 18 miles away.

    JON HUNTSMAN: In March of 2011, the then GOP Presidential hopeful was also identified as possibly having committed voter fraud. In his case, the former Governor remained registered to vote at the Executive Mansion in Utah well over a year after he had become the U.S. ambassador to China. As the Salt Lake Tribune noted at the time: "Huntsman voted by absentee ballot for last year’s general election using the state-owned mansion on South Temple as his Utah residence — months after Gov. Gary Herbert settled into the historic building and Huntsman purchased a home in Washington, D.C."

    ANN COULTER: Among many other recent cases of high-profile GOP voter fraud. Please remember (since the media didn't much tell you about them in the first place): GOP superstar ANN COULTER'S multiple cases of demonstrated voter fraud (in both FL and CT). Coulter evaded prosecution in CT only after the state's Election Commission ignored key evidence revealing that she resided in NY but used her parent's house to vote in CT.

    * * *Ernest A. Canning has been an active member of the California state bar since 1977. Mr. Canning has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science as well as a juris doctor. He is also a Vietnam vet (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968). Follow him on Twitter: @Cann4ing

    * * *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...


    Categories: Brad Blog

    'Green News Report' - January 30, 2014

    Thu, 01/30/2014 - 19:08


     

    IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Obama's State of the Union goes big for fracking... but Big Green says it's a bridge to nowhere; Big Fossil Fuel has a new mega-astroturf group; Extreme weather paralyzes Atlanta on behalf of Big Business; PLUS: NSA spied on UN climate talks, according to new Snowden docs ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

    Please help us connect the climate change dots over your public airwaves!
    PLEASE CLICK HERE TO DONATE!
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    Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

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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): WV water tests positive for formaldehyde; Shell won't drill offshore in Arctic this year; Shell ordered to pay $11b oil spill fine to Nigeria; Monarch butterflies in steep decline; Climate hawk Rep. Henry Waxman to retire; Great Lakes drying up; New conflicts of interest in Keystone XL environment review; Climate change killing baby penguins; ... PLUS: One Vid to Rule Them All: “If There’s Global Warming, How Come it’s So Cold?” ... 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
  • 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:

  • Categories: Brad Blog

    The BRAD BLOG at 10: Thanks, TruthDig!

    Thu, 01/30/2014 - 12:05

    Much appreciate the very kind shout out, TruthDig! Thanks, guys!

    * * *

    P.S. I'm now finally climbing out of my food poisoning coma. That was fun. Thanks for all the well wishes. Please help us celebrate our 10th anniversary so we can keep on raking the muck around here for as long as possible!


    Categories: Brad Blog

    KPFK 'BradCast': Obama's 'Jekyll and Hyde' SOTU Climate and the GOP's Derangement Syndrome

    Thu, 01/30/2014 - 01:26

    The great Joe Romm of the even greater Climate Progress returns to discuss Obama's schizophrenic "All of the Above" climate policies offered in this week's State of the Union address, and as demonstrated in the year since Romm last joined us on the KPFK/Pacifica Radio BradCast just after the 2013 Inaugural address.

    As a former acting Assistant Secretary of Energy during the Clinton Administration and founder of one of the most important climate blogs going, Romm offers helpful insight on the dangers of Obama's Jekyll/Hyde energy strategy, on the likelihood of the Keystone XL pipeline receiving final White House approval, on whether Obama truly "gets it", and on the tantalizingly cool new Years of Living Dangerously series begin in April on Showtime, on which he serves as Chief Science Editor.

    In the second half of the show I talk GOP State of the Union Derangement Syndrome and why the Republican "extreme" is now the mainstream and how it all helps to remind us once again that, yes, elections really do matter.

    PLUS, as usual, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report, including a hat-tip to the dearly departed Pete Seeger...

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

    P.S. If you use iTunes and would like to listen to The BradCast that way, you can now subscribe (for free) over there right here. And please feel free to leave us a good review there at the same time, if you are so inclined!


    Categories: Brad Blog

    Republican State of the Union Jackassery x 3

    Wed, 01/29/2014 - 16:20

    It's become a bit of a cliche in the Obama era. Every year, when the President delivers his State of the Union address, someone in the Republican Congressional caucus makes an absolute jackass of him/herself. Let's call it the Rep. Joe Wilson "YOU LIE!" syndrome.

    They just can't seem to help themselves in those grand moments in the bright lights during which they are finally forced to be in the same room with the actual reality of the person they've spent the bulk of the year deluding themselves --- with no small amount of help from Fox "News" and even the so-called legitimate news networks --- into believing to be an incompetent, dictatorial, fascistic, imperial-socialist evil genius. (I'll leave it to you to figure out how he can be all those things at once.)

    We thought we had last night's winner of the Republican SOTU Jackass of the Year Award when Texas Rep. Randy Weber tweeted, before the speech even began...

    On floor of house waitin on "Kommandant-In-Chef"... the Socialistic dictator who's been feeding US a line or is it "A-Lying?"

    — Randy Weber (@TXRandy14) January 29, 2014

    Setting aside the impressive typos and incoherence, Rep. Weber's idiocy was clear enough. But, as it turns out, he was an amateur last night. There were at least two other elected officials in the GOP caucus vying for last night's (dis)honor, with one even willing to threaten a violent offense against a reporter on camera. But, in truth, it was the third who really represents the gravest threat to our democracy...

    The story of Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY)'s violent, caught-on-camera threat against NY1 reporter Michael Scotto seems to be getting plenty of play today. But, if you missed it, here's what happened in a nutshell.

    After the President spoke, Scotto was interviewing Grimm on one of the Capitol's interior balcony locations about the speech, which the Congressman described (with complete detachment from reality, naturally), as "divisive".

    At the end of the interview, Scotto attempted to ask a question about a campaign finance scandal in which a supporter of Grimm's was charged by the FBI earlier this month, according to NY1, "with using straw donors to exceed the maximum allowable contribution to Grimm's campaign committee."

    The Congressman would have none of the inquiry, cutting off Scotto's question about it by responding: "I'm not speaking to you off-topic, this is only about the President." He then walked off camera, leaving Scotto to say: "So Congressman Michael Grimm does not want to talk about some of the allegations concerning his campaign finances."

    After Scotto tossed back to the station, but while the camera was still rolling, Grimm came back at Scotto with a threat to toss him "off this fucking balcony" and to "break [him] in half. Like a boy." Here's NY1's description of what happened when Grimm reapproached Scotto after the interview:

    "What?" Scotto responded. "I just wanted to ask you..."

    Grimm: "Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again I'll throw you off this f-----g balcony."

    Scotto: "Why? I just wanted to ask you..."

    [[cross talk]]

    Grimm: "If you ever do that to me again..."

    Scotto: "Why? Why? It's a valid question."

    [[cross talk]]

    Grimm: "No, no, you're not man enough, you're not man enough. I'll break you in half. Like a boy."

    Unfortunately, NY1 doesn't allow their videos to be easily embedded here, but you can watch the video confrontation, with sub-titles provided by NY1, at their site.

    After the incident last night, Grimm released a statement in which he failed to apologize in the least. In fact, the Republican Congressman from Staten Island did what all good Republicans do when they get caught, he doubled-down:

    "I was extremely annoyed because I was doing NY1 a favor by rushing to do their interview first in lieu of several other requests. The reporter knew that I was in a hurry and was only there to comment on the State of the Union, but insisted on taking a disrespectful and cheap shot at the end of the interview, because I did not have time to speak off-topic. I verbally took the reporter to task and told him off, because I expect a certain level of professionalism and respect, especially when I go out of my way to do that reporter a favor. I doubt that I am the first Member of Congress to tell off a reporter, and I am sure I won’t be the last"

    Today, undoubtedly facing pressure from his own House caucus, not to mention, possibly, from law enforcement, Grimm called Scotto to apologize and to say that he "overreacted". Scotto is said to have accepted the apology. Grimm then offered this written statement this morning:

    "I was wrong. I shouldn’t have allowed my emotions to get the better of me and lose my cool. I have apologized to Michael Scotto, which he graciously accepted, and will be scheduling a lunch soon. In the weeks and months ahead I’ll be working hard for my constituents on issues like flood insurance that is so desperately needed in my district post Sandy."

    Threatening a reporter with bodily harm is no small thing, and, in fact, arguably a crime in the District of Columbia...

    D.C. Code § 22-407. Threats to do bodily harm.
    Whoever is convicted in the District of threats to do bodily harm shall be fined not more than the amount set forth in § 22-3571.01 or imprisoned not more than 6 months, or both, and, in addition thereto, or in lieu thereof, may be required to give bond to keep the peace for a period not exceeding 1 year.

    Nonetheless, it was, neither Weber nor Grimm, but our third candidate for GOP Jackass of the Night who, it seems to me, is really the most endemic of all that is currently wrong with our politics, our media, and, thus, our nation.

    We'll let Rachel Maddow do the heavy lifting here, as her incredible confrontation with Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KA) speaks volumes all by itself. Huelskamp is a second-term Congressman, meaning he is absolutely this batshit insane and yet, he was re-elected in 2012 anyway.

    Watch the video...

    That video is getting a lot less attention today than the Grimm video, understandably, because it doesn't involve breaking "a boy" "in half", but still. While MSNBC describes the Congressman's interview as "giv[ing] voice to extremist right," I don't believe there's anything "extreme" about it. That is the Right these days. That's not extreme, that's the mainstream. And it's aided and abetted by media outlets (most notably Fox "News", of course, but there are many beyond them) which give members like Huelskamp a pedestal to spout that bullshit without challenge simply on the grounds that they are "elected officials" and, therefore, are owed some form of due deference.

    No. No they are not. And I'm happy that Maddow did as much as she could to hold that jackasses feet to the fire.

    There is much that can be fact-checked in that video to make the case against Heulskamp's deceit (Really? Someone from the administration accused his office of "politicizing the military" by inviting a veteran to the SOTU? Really? He didn't vote to defund embassy security before the Benghazi incident? Etc.) but I've got to scramble to put together my KPFK/Pacifica Radio show shortly, so don't have time to do it myself right now. I suspect Maddow will do so herself later tonight, though that's just a hunch.

    But, my point in running it is just to highlight everything that is currently wrong with our political system, as Chris Hayes also alludes at the end of the clip. There are two different "realities" here. One is actually real and the other is based on the years-long fraud perpetrated by Fox "News" and tolerated, even encouraged, by the bulk of the mainstream corporate media.

    In turn, that has broken our system, giving the President very little room to do anything, other than actions that he is able to do on his own, such as issuing lawful Executive Orders and other such actions which, in turn, leads to tweets like those from Weber at the beginning of this piece, and the firm belief from jackasses like Huelskamp that he is an unlawful "Imperial President".

    Round and round it goes. Where it stops, right now, nobody really knows. But none of it is good for this nation.

    There is, and always has been, plenty to criticize this Administration about. A case can even be made, if one is really interested, against inappropriate executive actions by the Obama administration. Unfortunately, guys like Weber and Huelskamp and even Grimm --- who wouldn't recognize real "divisiveness" if it threw him off a balcony --- are nowhere even close. They aren't interested in making the system better, they are interested only in making it worse, because that's how they think they win.

    We all lose in the bargain. And that's why, as I've said many times before, no matter what you think of our elected officials, elections really do matter.


    Categories: Brad Blog

    They Probably Have Food Poisoning Too

    Tue, 01/28/2014 - 20:15

    Not entirely sure what's going on here, but people keep saying nice stuff about us lately (and not even in conjunction with our 10th Anniversary).

    Last week, the BBC's Greg Palast called us "investigative reporter par excellence".

    And this week, Charlie Pierce of Esquire described us as "invaluable".

    What's wrong with these people? You'll have to click the links to find out what must have gotten into them.


    Categories: Brad Blog

    Those Were the Days, My Friend...

    Tue, 01/28/2014 - 19:10

    As we wait with bated breath for tonight's State of the Union address, either my food poisoning is still making me loopy, or I remember this SOTU as if it was yesterday...

    ...or, probably both.

    [Hat-tip @RubinReport]


    Categories: Brad Blog

    'Green News Report' - January 28, 2014

    Tue, 01/28/2014 - 18:29


     

    IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Transcanada natural gas pipeline explodes, cutting off heat for thousands; Oil pipeline spills into river in Philadelphia; PLUS: It's a Polar Vortex Redux, making Alaska warmer than most of Florida ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

    Please help us connect the climate change dots over your public airwaves!
    PLEASE CLICK HERE TO DONATE!
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    Listen online here, or Download MP3 (6 mins)...

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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): Industry Awakens to Threat of Climate Change; U.N. Says Lag in Confronting Climate Woes Will Be Costly; Chris Christie’s other traffic jam: the cancelled Hudson River Tunnel; FDA allowed antibiotics in animal feed despite risk to health: report; Most Latinos want government action on climate change, poll; 7,300-sq-mile ring of mercury around tar sands in Canada; Monsanto Is Going Organic in a Quest for the Perfect Veggie ... PLUS: Canadian Arctic Warming Unprecedented In 120,000 Years ... 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
  • 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:

  • Categories: Brad Blog

    We Interrupt Our 10th Anniversary Celebration...

    Mon, 01/27/2014 - 22:47

    ...Because after I posted about BRAD BLOG's milestone, and headed to Disneyland on Sunday with family to cash in some free tickets a friend had given us a year or so ago, I returned to wake in the middle of the night with some kind of horrific food poisoning. I mean, violently so. So if you might be wondering what happened to me since announcing our 10th Anniversary, that's it. Have dragged myself up out of bed just long enough to say so. No idea when this passes for good. Hopefully in time for tomorrow's GNR? Tomorrow night's SOTU? Wednesday's BradCast? Dunno, but there you go. Back to bed.

    For the record, I don't know that I've ever even had food poisoning until now. And, FYI, I don't care for it one bit...


    Categories: Brad Blog

    The BRAD BLOG is Now 10 Years Old!

    Sun, 01/26/2014 - 15:15

    On January 24, 2004, the Mars rover named Opportunity landed on the red planet and began its mission. According to NASA, the mission "was to last only three months." In the ten years since then, Opportunity has "has driven 24 miles" and has offered thousands of extraordinary close-up pictures of a never-before-seen world, all while having "contributed valuable information about the diverse watery environments of ancient Mars."

    On the very same day that Opportunity began its mission on Mars in 2004, The BRAD BLOG began its exploration of Planet Earth. Our mission, at the time, wasn't even necessarily slated to last three months. But, like Opportunity, as of this week, we have also defied the odds by sending out extraordinary close-up pictures from our unlikely and continuing investigations ten years after we began.

    While pondering over the past month how best to celebrate our one decade milestone, I had considered a series of posts on "Our Top 10 Stories of the Past 10 Years." Once I started digging back into the archive, however, I quickly realized that would be impossible. Not only because so many of those stories span over several, sometimes dozens, sometimes scores of articles published over a number of years, but also because there have been so many that I would consider to be "highlights". Limiting that number to just ten quickly became an impossible task, and one that would only succeed at marginalizing too many noteworthy stories, events and moments simply because they didn't make that arbitrary cut.

    Instead then, in the coming days and weeks as we celebrate our milestone, I hope to find time to publish a series of articles reflecting on various aspects of our first decade, even as I continue to try and figure out how to afford the next.

    Until then, I hope you'll help us celebrate with a generous birthday gift to The BRAD BLOG or at least as much as you can comfortably afford. We have survived all of these years (barely) thanks almost entirely to reader support, rather than corporate or foundational support. Please help us to continue to do so as long as possible.

    While I plan to talk a bit about more about it in one of the upcoming pieces that I hope to publish to mark our 10th Anniversary, I'd be very happy to send a signed DVD copy of the award-winning documentary Murder, Spies & Voting Lies: The Clint Curtis Story by Patty Sharaf to supporters who either donate $50 or more below or, preferably, sign up for "Monthly Sustaining Support" at $20 or more. The film (which I'm in, but it's good anyway) tells the remarkable, funny and, yes, terrifying story of a Republican software programmer-turned-whistleblower's allegations of vote-rigging software said to have been requested at a very high level. It's based on the startling story we originally broke in late 2004 (our first year!) and continued reporting on for years thereafter. (See LinkTV's promotional short trailer for the film that they created when they first ran the doc there some years ago, at the bottom of this post.)

    Finally, for now, my brief thanks (with more to hopefully come later) to all of those who have helped produce The BRAD BLOG in various ways over our 10 extraordinary years of independent investigative journalism, blogging, trouble-making and muckraking. And, mostly, my thanks to you, our readers, for helping to allow us to do so through your generous support, comments, donations, tips, kind words and critiques. What a long, strange trip it continues to be... --- Brad

    P.S. Holy crap?! TEN years?! Seriously?!!! GTFO!!!

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    (Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)

    Check out LinkTV's 60-second promo trailer for Murder, Spies & Voting Lies below. (The actual film is hi-def and looks and sounds awesome!)...


    Categories: Brad Blog

    Virginia Reminds Us (Once Again) Why Elections Really Do Matter

    Fri, 01/24/2014 - 15:25

    Late last year, The BRAD BLOG covered the incredibly close results of the state Attorney General's race in Virginia in great detail. The Democrat Mark Herring was eventually declared to be the winner in that razor-thin race after what suffices for a "recount" process in the Old Dominion.

    An announcement this week by the state's brand-new Attorney General offers a stark reminder, once again, of the importance of elections and of the work that The BRAD BLOG has done here for the past 10 years...

    As has been the case for the last ten years here, when we cover the electoral integrity issues of such post-election contests, we endeavor to set aside any particular personal or partisan preferences in the race in favor of our far greater interests in ensuring the voice of the citizenry is heard as accurately and (even more importantly) in the most independently verifiable way possible.

    That, of course, has led to many cases over the years where we have gone to the mat in hopes of fighting to ensure that the votes for candidates who we might otherwise never support on a political basis --- (Hello, Joe Miller! Hello, Allen West! By way of just two examples.) --- were tabulated accurately, and in a way that supporters of all candidates in those races could know that their votes were tabulated as per every voters' actual intent.

    While we have long argued that it's up to you if you wish to vote or not in any particular election (yes, a choice to not vote is also a "vote" in that race), we have also argued that every legal voter who wishes to cast a vote should be able to do so. As importantly, they should be able to have their vote not only counted, but counted accurately and in a way that all voters can know that votes have been counted accurately.

    Yes, elections do matter, even as shamefully and disastrously run and tabulated as the U.S. election system now is.

    We were reminded of the importance of elections once again last night in the following segment of The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell on MSNBC. O'Donnell interviewed Virginia's new Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring --- who ultimately was declared the victor in the AG's race by just over 800 votes out of more than 2.2 million cast --- about his decision to not defend the state's most-likely unconstitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

    "As Attorney General," says Herring, in regard to a legal challenge now pending against the state's ban on marriage equality (which he once supported), "it was my responsibility to present the state's legal position and that required me to do a thorough and careful analysis of the law. And, after the independent review, if I conclude that the law's unconstitutional, then I have an equal duty to not defend a law that is unconstitutional"...

    Yes, if you watch the segment, you will be reminded exactly why elections really do matter and that they really do have consequences --- no matter what your political beliefs may be. Herring's interview above should make that point crystal clear once again.

    Relatedly, there remains a 9-vote(!) margin in the January 7th special election for the state Senate seat in VA's Senate District 6. The ultimate results of that election will determine whether Democrats take control of the upper chamber of the state legislature for the first time in years, after their party also swept last November's statewide elections for Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General. We covered the absurdly close results of the SD6 special election earlier this month and, this morning, posted an UPDATE to that story offering the latest details on the upcoming "recount" in that race.

    Once again, elections matter --- no matter which part of the electoral spectrum you may find yourself on. If you agree, please consider making a donation to help us celebrate the 10th anniversary of The BRAD BLOG.

    * * *Please help support The BRAD BLOG's fiercely independent, award-winning coverage of your electoral system --- now in our TENTH YEAR! --- as available from no other media outlet in the nation...


    Categories: Brad Blog

    'Green News Report' - January 23, 2014

    Thu, 01/23/2014 - 18:33


     

    IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Surprise! Second toxic chemical also contaminating WV's water supply; Texas homeowners don't care for fracking earthquakes; Southern leg of Keystone XL pipeline now open for business; Score one for the Arctic - court setback for Shell's Arctic Adventure; PLUS: Full speed ahead for L.A.'s first-ever outdoor pro hockey game --- in a record heat wave... All that and more in today's Green News Report!

    Please help us connect the climate change dots over your public airwaves!
    PLEASE CLICK HERE TO DONATE!
    -->

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

    Link: Embed:

    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): Obama: Fossil fuels are here to stay; Targets of climate hate mail rally to support one another; Coal terminals and climate chaos: is this the future we want?; WA State moves on its own to stop ocean acidification; How Oil Drilling Is Like the "Civil Rights Revolution"; Extreme El Nino events to double ... PLUS: Big Green to Obama: "All of the above" a compromise we can't afford ... 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
  • 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:

  • Categories: Brad Blog