Although Brad strives to objectivity regarding the Democratic candidates --- necessary to do the great reporting he does regarding voter suppression and other nefarious election-time practices --- I am not a journalist. I do a fact-based opinion show, and in that capacity, I support Bernie Sanders candidacy. But, I have noticed the level of vitriol rising among Democrats lately, and it worries me.
Democratic consultant and strategist Mike Lux wrote about some new polling data his firm commissioned, and it shows a great divide in the Democratic party. He wrote about it at Crooks and Liars, and joined me on today's BradCast to discuss the data and the implications.
Meanwhile, while watching the MSNBC Democratic town hall/forum on Thursday night, I noticed an ad attacking Bernie Sanders, the first one I've seen this election season. It was paid for by a SuperPAC called Future 45. A little sleuthing confirmed that one of the biggest contributors to this group is hedge-fund billionaire Paul "The Vulture" Singer. Investigative journalist Greg Palast has been writing about that guy's sleazy dealings for years now. The minute I saw his name, I knew I had to invite Palast to tell us what he knows about this vulture.
And, as you might imagine, Palast also had a few words about the death of Antonin Scalia...and they weren't "rest in peace."
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We've long warned about the dangers that electronic voting and tabulation systems pose to our democracy, not just from simple insider attacks and domestic hacking, but also from foreign governments and other, even shadier entities.
In 2009, just by way of one of scores (if not hundreds) of examples, we covered the chilling presentation given by the CIA's cybersecurity expert Steven Stigall to a panel convened by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) during a field hearing in Orlando, FL. Stigalll warned at the time: "You heard the old adage 'follow the money. I follow the vote. And wherever the vote becomes an electron and touches a computer, that's an opportunity for a malicious actor potentially to...make bad things happen."
"For several years," Stigall said, according to the transcript [WORD], "I've worked with others in my organization to try and identify foreign threats, emphasis on 'foreign threats,' to important U.S. computer systems. A few years ago it occurred to us that that should include potential foreign threats to the computers upon which our elections in this country are increasingly dependent."
Well, funny thing. Remember that Osama Bin Laden guy? On Thursday, The Hill and others published a list [PDF] of about forty English-language books said to have been found at Bin Laden's compound when he was killed. Among them, amusingly enough, were "9/11 conspiracy theory" books. Another was the New York Times best-seller The Best Democracy Money Can Buy by our friend, investigative reporter Greg Palast.
Interesting. But look at what else showed is said to have been found on Osama's bookshelf...
[Thanks to Palast's office for stitching both segments together in one easy-to-watch clip! I've replaced the original embed with that version above.]
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PLUS: A flashback to my interview with then 25-year old paralyzed Iraq War veteran turned anti-war activist Tomas Young at "Camp Casey" in Crawford, TX in August of 2005. It was Young's first national interview proceeding his story being told on CBS 60 Minutes in 2006 and in Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro's documentary Body of War in 2007. During the interview, Young (who had driven 13 hours from Kansas City on his honeymoon, despite unceasing pain) describes the tragic story of how he was wounded during a rescue mission in an unarmored truck in Sadr City; how and when he turned against Bush's war; we joke about BBQ in Missouri and more; and then hatch a (successful) plot to bring his story to national attention.
[UPDATE 10/24/12: We've now run through the limited number of books and DVDs that we had available. Thank you to those who helped out by donating. Your signed copies of Palast's book and DVD will be on the way to you soon! Thank you! And hopefully I'll be able to find more great premiums to offer in exchange for your support in the near future! Until then, your donations are always very welcome and still very much needed in support of the work we do here. Thank you, as ever. - Brad]
Covering this insane election season 24/7 means that I've had little or no time to try and raise funds to help keep our expenses in even minimal check here. I'm also lousy at it. I'd rather cover and break the news than raise money to help pay for doing it.
As you hopefully know, The BRAD BLOG does not receive any corporate or foundational support. We are 100% independent and need to stay that way. But that also means you guys need to help us out, if we are to keep the lights on here all.
Our muckraking BBC buddy Greg Palast has noticed the bind we're in, and has generously offered to try and help us out once again!
Again, we don't have a lot of these available, so it's first come first serve. But if you can help us out with a donation of $75 or more, we'll try to get both the signed Palast book (featuring his investigations of "the Koch Gang, Karl Rove, and Their Buck-Buddies") and his DVD off to ya ASAP, so you'll have both before the election!
Best way to get your signed copy of Greg's new book and his DVD is to donate here online with Credit Card or PayPal. (If you work quickly, you can also send a check via snail mail to: Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594, Los Angeles, CA 90028).
My great thanks in advance to any of you who can help us out here and, of course, to the good Mr. Palast!
The state of Florida and it's Secretary of State Ken Detzner (R) are knowingly violating Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in their attempted purge of "potential non-citizens" from the Sunshine State voting rolls, according to a new federal lawsuit [PDF] filed by the ACLU and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
The complaint follows on the heels of a May 31, 2012 two-page letter submitted to FL election officials by T. Christian Herren, the chief lawyer of the U.S. Justice Department's Voting Rights Division. In his letter, Herren opined that the state's voter roll purge is in violation of Section 5 --- at least in the 6 Florida counties "covered" by that section --- because the state has not sought preclearance from either the DOJ or a federal court, as required by that section of the 40-year old federal law.
Additionally, the DOJ notes in its letter, the purge, coming as it does within the 90 days before Florida's federal primary election, is also in violation of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) which covers the entire state.
In response, FL State Department spokesman Chris Cates initially said they would continue the purge nonetheless, as they were "firmly committed to doing the right thing and preventing ineligible voters from being able to cast a ballot." In his official response to the DOJ a few days later, Detzner all but challenged the feds to bring a suit in order to stop the state from continuing their efforts.
Of the original 180,000 names identified by the state as potential non-citizens, out of some 11.3 million registered voters in the state of Florida, 2,700 were sent to county election officials with instructions to notify those voters that they had just 30 days to prove their citizenship or be removed from the rolls. As reported by the Christian Science Monitor, "Before heeding DOJ’s order to stop the purge" county election officials had identified just four noncitizens who "may have voted in past elections, making them potentially guilty of voter fraud," while clearing hundreds of voters who had, in fact, been legally registered voters. Hundreds of others may have been removed from the rolls, despite being legally registered citizen voters.
As The BRAD BLOG previously reported, Herren had demanded that FL officials "advise whether the State intends to cease the practice," but stopped short of issuing an actual "order" that FL immediately cease and desist. Such an order would have to come by way of an injunction issued by a U.S. District Court. The ACLU lawsuit now seeks that injunction even though, according to the Miami Herald, county elections supervisors across the state, led by Leon County's Ion Sancho, are now refusing to carry out a purge which Sancho describes as "illegal."
The ACLU lawsuit alleges facts that suggest the FL GOP is relying upon a FL Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DMV) database that it knows cannot provide an accurate basis for establishing non-citizenship until 2017.
Unfortunately, this year's purge in Florida continues a tradition that has been affecting legal voters in Florida --- and, along with them, the rest of the nation --- cycle after cycle since at least the 2000 election...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Iran war talk jacks up US gas prices... while Republicans cheer; VA Supreme Court smacks down climate change denier witch hunt; Meet the 'new normal' for tornado season; PLUS: 2 years after disaster: BP settles with Gulf coast plaintiffs...and gets off pretty easy, so far... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Conservative economist slams deniers: Conservative economist Nordhaus slams skeptics: 'Cost of delay is $4 trillion'; MIT: making solar power competitive with coal; This Week gets it wrong on gas prices; Limbaugh attacks help put Chevy Volt workers out of a job; CO uranium mine poisons creek; A big fracking bubble: the scam behind the gas boom; Arctic ice melt changing climate system; Japan leaders feared "devil's chain reaction" ... PLUS: Science: Ocean acidifying so fast it threatens humanity’s food supply ... and much, MUCH more! ...
[UPDATE: Thanks, guys! We've now sold out the few copies we had in this premium, but we hope to have another one soon! The support, as always, is greatly appreciated! - Brad]
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Our friend Greg Palast, investigative journalist, BBC documentary reporter and author of the best-selling books Best Democracy Money Can Buy and Armed Madhouse has a new book out in November, and he's been kind enough to give us a limited number of advanced, signed hardcover copies as premiums in support of The BRAD BLOG.
We don't have a lot of copies, so it's first come first serve!
You can also contribute via snail mail to: Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594, Los Angeles, CA 90028 --- though I can't guarantee we'll have enough books by the time your contribution gets here. If it doesn't, we've got another premium book offer we'll be making available to readers later this month, and you'll be the first in line to have one of those instead! (You'll just have to wait to find out what it is, but hopefully you'll not be disappointed because, ya know, you're supporting the work we do here either way! And, believe me, it's very much needed!)
We hate fund raising, are not very good at it, and don't do it nearly often enough. So if you can help, please do! We've had a very busy summer and, so far, autumn, and really need all of the help you can offer as we continue to independently cover --- with neither corporate nor institutional help --- those things which we believe actually matter to all of us. This is especially true as we barrel toward another Presidential Election year!
Your support is largely the only thing that allows us to continue doing this work. So thank you very much in advance for whatever help you can offer! And you'll even get a helluva book out if it in the bargain if you act fast! --- Brad
P.S. If you happen to be in the L.A. area, I'll be emceeing Palast's appearance at a KPFK/Pacifica fund raiser on Nov. 16th. If you can make it buy, please do and be sure to say hey! More details here...
[Now UPDATED with awesome audio archives at the bottom! Enjoy!]
It's our last night for a while occupying the public airwaves as guest-host of the nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show.
Once again we'll be BradCasting LIVE 9pm-Mid ET (6p-9p PT), coast-to-coast and around the uprising globe from the studios of L.A.'s KTLK am1150 in beautiful downtown Burbank. Join us by tuning in, chatting in, Tweeting in and calling in! Our LIVE room will be up and rolling right here at The BRAD BLOG, as usual, while we are on the air. Please stop by and join the fun while you're listening! (The Chat Room will open at the bottom of this item a few minutes before airtime, see down below, just above "Comments" section.)
GREG PALAST, BBC investigative reporter and NYTimes best-selling author on his upcoming new book Vultures' Picnic: a Tale of Oil, Sex, Radiation and Investigative Reporting and the "Über-Vulture" billionaires who hope to pick our next President.
ERNEST A. CANNING, attorney and legal analyst for The BRAD BLOG on his thoughts on "Occupy Wall Street" and how it ain't no "Tea Party"...
PLUS! More calls from "Occupation Nation" (Hour 3 is once again wide open for calls from "Occupiers"!) and anything else that we didn't get to this week, or that you'd like to talk about at 877-520-1150 and with your tweets to @TheBradBlog!...
POST-SHOW UPDATE: Thanks all for a great week of occupation and a great closing night show! It was a huge show, with an unexpected guest (the Republican Director of Venango County, PA's Board of Elections, see below for more) and a tremendous closing hour of Occupation Nation Calls! See below for the must-listen commercial-free audio archives (and the chat room archives as well.) Thanks again to Mike and Kathy for letting us occupy their airwaves! Until next time...
Neither the recent claim made by anonymous hacker, Abhaxas, that he/she had hacked into Florida's e-voting database nor the efforts by FL election officials to minimize the breach of its system comes as a surprise to The BRAD BLOG.
In fact, minimization of the vulnerability following the reported hack calls to mind what Roger G. Johnston, Ph.D of the Argonne National Laboratory describes as the Arrogance Maxim:
The ease of defeating a security device or system is proportional to how confident/arrogant the designer, manufacturer, or user is about it, and to how often they use words like "impossible" or "tamper-proof".
One would think that Abhaxas had Johnson's Arrogance Maxim in mind. As reported by Doug Chapin of the University of MN, the anonymous hacktivist responded to the official denials by hacking into the FL voting system a second time; posting "a directory listing of the Florida database with the (sarcastic) observation 'Glad you cleaned up, pretty secure now guys'."
As an encore, Abhaxas then hacked into Montana's government website, where he/she exposed 16 databases.
While Chapin acknowledges the vulnerability exposed by the hack, once again, as is his habit over the years, Chapin draws the entirely wrong lessons in pointing to the need for better training and security procedures...
"I don’t want everybody to vote," Paul Weyrich, co-founder of the billionaire-funded Heritage Foundation and the Moral Majority, said while addressing a right-wing Christian audience in 1980. "[O]ur leverage in the elections goes up as the voting populace goes down," he added after he denigrated those who seek "good government" through maximum, informed voter participation as people who suffer from the "goo goo syndrome."
Voter suppression has long been a staple of American politics, but the tsunami of new restrictions on the polling place now being rammed through by newly-elected Republican majorities in state after state is unprecedented, certainly since the era of Jim Crow was supposed to have been ended by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
21st Century voter suppression operates under cover. Or it had, until the new wave of legislation being passed by GOP legislatures across the country began hitting its stride. Until FL's then-governor Charlie Crist overturned it, for example, the state banned convicted felons from voting even years after they'd been released from prison. In Armed Madhouse, Palast asserts that prior to the 2000 Presidential election, FL's then Sec. of State Katherine Harris, appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush, the brother of candidate George W. Bush, purged 94,000 "felons" from the state's computerized voter rolls, though the only "crime" at least 91,000 were guilty of was "being Black, Democrat or both."
Over much of the past decade, voter suppression efforts have been bolstered by bogus "voter fraud" claims leveled at groups like ACORN, who aided in the registration of those who might be likely to vote against the GOP (minorities and the working class); "non-partisan" GOP astroturf groups like the phony American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR) created after the 2004 election solely to create and spread false propaganda about a Democratic "voter fraud" epidemic; laws meant to increase the legal risk to real non-partisan organizations for assisting in registration; draconian polling place "photo ID" restriction laws, and in a reduction of opportunities for early voting.
With the tide of GOP victories at the ballot box last November, those efforts have now been ramped up and are now front and center in some 30 state legislatures across the country...
I'm now doing a weekly thirty-minute show on Wednesday's at 3:30pm PT on KPFK, Los Angeles' Pacifica Radio affiliate. (Right! Public radio! No commercials! On our public airwaves! Come and get me, O'Keefe!) My first show yesterday was, by necessity, largely coverage of the breaking Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant crisis, but also included a brief interview with Greg Palast, the BBC journalist, my fellow muckraking pal and author of the New York Times best-sellers Armed Madhouse and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Greg Palast.
Earlier this week, Palast wrote about the Obama-endorsed $4 billion plan to build two new nuclear reactors on the Gulf Coast of Texas by... wait for it ... TEPCO! That's right, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. responsible for the failing systems now at Fukushima Daiichi, as well as a number of local partners.
Palast offers insight from his pre-journalist days "as lead investigator in several government nuclear plant fraud and racketeering investigations" during the 1980's, and explains how the same "bankrupt, corrupt and criminal companies" who were busted during his work investigating the Shoreham nuclear plant in New York are still in business, and ready to get to work again on nukes in Texas and elsewhere in the U.S.
As shocking as it may seem, this looming fiscal catastrophe did not arrive by accident. It is, according to a number of progressive policy experts, the intended product of a Republican-led privatization scheme...
We just spoke with Greg Palast, whose Armed Madhouse paperback (or "mysterious 'yellow book,'" as lazy Washington Post blogger, Emil Steiner "reported" it), was being waved and alluded to by University of Florida student Andrew Meyer just prior to his being Tasered by UF cops earlier this week.
Palast says he is offering the journalism student a job as a paid intern. Meyer had described Palast, in his question to Sen. John Kerry, asking why he conceded the 2004 Presidential Election so early, as "the top investigate journalist in America."
"Did you notice he never let the book touch the ground?" an impressed Palast wryly noted.
Meyers was Tasered by the authorities as the majority of the students in the crowd sat passively during their fellow student's pleas for help and shrieks of pain. He was then arrested and charged with a felony for "inciting a riot and disrupting a school function." (Police report here [PDF])
"His attorneys seem to be keeping him on ice," Palast told us, when we asked if he'd been able to officially offer the gig to Meyer.
Indeed, our note to Meyer sent Tuesday, inviting him to Guest Blog his experience here at The BRAD BLOG, has so far similarly gone unanswered.
Fortunately, it happened at a John Kerry event. So we'll likely hear a whole lot about this incident. Had it happened at a Republican event, Fox "News" and the rest of the news channels that receive their assignments from them would have made this a one-day story at best.
The blurry-ish video version of the incident seen at right shows the entire statement and questions asked by University of Florida student Andrew Meyer. He was waving the recently released paperback version of investigative journalist Greg Palast's Armed Madhouse and recommended the book to Kerry before asking him about his early concession to the 2004 Presidential Election.
"He says you won the 2004 Election, isn't that amazing?" proclaimed Meyer, referring to Palast's claims in the book. The 21-year-old student continued on to speak about "multiple reports of disenfranchisement of black voters in Florida and Ohio on the day of the election" and "electronic voting machines in Volusia County, Florida, that counted backwards."
"So amidst all of these reports of phony, bogus stuff going on, how could you concede the election on the day?" he asked as security guards surrounded him. "How could you concede the 2004 election on the day? In this book, it says there were five million votes that were suppressed. Didn't you want to be President?!"
Kerry is heard earlier in Meyer's statement acknowledging that he has the book and that he's "already read it." Though we've seen the incident now on all of the cable news channels, several times, we've not seen any of them show the actual statement and questions being asked by Meyer.