On today's BradCast, as one political mess piles up on top of another in D.C. (and across the country), at what now seems to be an impossible pace, our old friend HEATHER DIGBY PARTONof Salon and "Digby's Hullabaloo" blog is here today to try and help us dig out of from under it. Wish her luck. [Audio link to show is posted at end of article.]
First up, Parton responds to Donald Trump's charge on Monday that Democrats who failed to stand and applaud during his State of the Union address last week were "unAmerican" and may have committed "treason". Yes, he actually said as much, even though treason is punishable by death, and couldn't possibly be applied in this case. (And, yes, we also discuss how many others also misuse the charge of "treason" against Trump.)
Then, Republicans on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee have finally voted to release the Democratic Rebuttal Memo written in response to the cherry-picked Republican Memo produced by committee Chair Devin Nunes (R-CA), perhaps in collusion with the White House. The Nunes memo, though landing with a thud after it's release on Friday, is still being used by Fox "News" GOPers to falsely make the case that Robert Mueller's Special Counsel probe must be shut down due to an alleged misuse of material from the so-called "Trump/Russia Dossier" written by a former British intelligence agent, for the FISA warrant application sought and obtained by the FBI in 2016 (and renewed three times) to intercept communications with Carter Page, a former Trump Campaign advisor and suspected Russian asset.
But will the President actually allow the House Democrats' rebuttal memo to be released to the public? Parton has her doubts ("I don't know why people think it's a done deal. I mean, I keep wanting to say, 'Have you met Donald Trump?!'") She also has a few thoughts on Nunes and the entire GOP attempt to undermine the Mueller probe on specious grounds and on the promise by Nunes' to produce several new memos in what is part of his new effort to make the case that Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, conspired with Russia before the 2016 election. Parton compares the effort to go after members of the FBI and DoJ, etc., to Sen. Joseph McCarthy's targeting, in the 1950s, of alleged Communists in the FBI, Dept. of Justice and State Department. Sadly, the effort by Nunes, Trump and friends seems to be working, at least partially, according to a stunning new Axios poll.
I also share my own concern with Parton about what I see as a serious weakness in the Democrats' case for "collusion" against Trump, and she shares her prediction that "there's an excellent chance" a second Special Counsel will be convened to try and prosecute Hillary Clinton before this is all said and done.
We then go on to discuss the mess in Congress in advance of another possible federal government shutdown later this week, which Trump, on Tuesday, said he welcomes amid what has been his own bad faith deal-making with Democrats over the fate of some 800,000 children of immigrants brought here illegally decades ago. Those kids had been protected from deportation by the Obama-era DACA program, until Trump reversed it --- using them as human shields for his radical new immigration demands --- setting a deadline to begin their deportation as early as March 5th, unless a deal can be struck for legislation passed by Congress to protect them.
"This is a mess. It's been a mess," Parton argues. "Giving the Democrats a little bit of slack, this immigration problem and the DACA kids have been out there for a long time, and they have tried. The problem for the Democrats was that they thought, when Donald Trump was elected, because of this promises "Oh, I love the [DACA] kids!', that he had the credibility to bring along the Freedom Caucus and all these right-wing anti-immigration hawks in the Congress. That was the game that Trump talked. It turns out that he's a complete mess. He doesn't know how the government works. He doesn't know how to negotiate."
So, now, such a deal must somehow be worked out between the Dems, who are lousy negotiators, and Trump, who is a dishonest one, in advance of Friday's government shutdown deadline, or be pushed off yet again, leaving the fate of the DACA kids in jeopardy as March approaches. Not helping in the matter, as Parton observes, is Trump's far-right, anti-immigrant Chief of Staff John Kelly, not to mention the untrustworthy Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
And, finally, some new developments out of Pennsylvania where, speaking of the rise of authoritarianism under Republican rule, an elected GOPer in the state House is now moving to impeach five of the seven Justices on the state Supreme Court after they voted to require new U.S. House maps for the state. The new districts would replace the GOP's illegally gerrymandered Congressional Districts that Republicans have been using to hold 13 of 18 U.S. House seats in the closely divided (but Democratic-leaning) swing-state. The nascent impeachment effort --- though one that should be taken seriously --- in the PA House comes as the Republican President of the state Senate continues to defy the court's orders, despite their ruling being upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday.
Yes, this mess keeps getting messier. By the minute...
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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT:Coal wins Kentucky's U.S. Senate debate!; Pentagon warns climate change an immediate threat to national security; East Coast cities could see daily flooding from rising seas within 30 years; Wind power the cheapest source of energy; PLUS: It's official: September 2014 was the hottest September on record globally (Don't tell Fox 'News'!)... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Record Antarctic sea ice a 'warning bell'; Australia PM: "Coal is good for humanity"; Sea level rising fastest in 6k years; BPA manufacturers releasing into the air; Renewables driving power generation in Africa; Emissions cuts will fuel 'boom' in Midwest jobs; Louisiana racing to reclaim vanishing lands; Oil tankers spill into Seattle waters... PLUS: Can Progressives, enviros, and scientists save capitalism from the pro-collapse polluters? ... and much, MUCH more! ...
On the day after Secretary of State Colin Powell's infamous Feb. 5, 2003 U.N. presentation of inaccurate information concerning Iraqi WMD and alleged ties between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, a group of high-ranking, former intelligence agency veterans and whistleblowers calling themselves Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), published their very first "VIPS Memo" to George W. Bush.
In their February 5, 2003 memo [PDF], the former intelligence professionals warned of the politicization of intelligence used by the Administration in their case for war, and cautioned against rushing into military action. They were, of course, ignored by Bush at the time.
A full decade, trillions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands of dead bodies later, here we are again, as a President of the United States continues his call for U.S. involvement in yet another military excursion in the Middle East based on a "just trust us" public assessment of purported classified evidence.
Repeating the course they took in hopes of warning Bush after Powell's UN presentation, last week VIPS published another warning in the form of a memo to President Barack Obama, warning that his advisers may not be keeping him fully informed and asserting, among other things, "the most reliable intelligence shows that Bashar al-Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident that killed and injured Syrian civilians on August 21."
While the VIPS memo presents a disturbing alleged scenario detailing claims that U.S. allies and intelligence officials had advanced knowledge of the August 21 chemical attack, like the White House claims, the VIPS scenario offers little more than serious, if unproven allegations unless and until they are substantiated, or refuted, by hard evidence or, preferably, a Congressional investigation including full immunity for the sources cited by the former intelligence veterans...
A few seemingly remarkable items coming in via our Twitter feed today, all fueled by folks on the Right who are hoaxed into giving their hard-earned dollars to con-men...
• The crew at the pretend "news" site, Breitbart.com (specifically, Editor-at-Large Ben Shapiro) have successfully pushed a story about "Friends of Hamas" supporting SecDef-nominee, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R) somehow into the mainstream Rightwing media. The problem with the story --- which is meant to help target the first Presidential cabinet nominee in history to ever be filibustered (much less by his own party!) --- is that "Friends of Hamas", the "scary-sounding pro-Hagel group", doesn't actually seem to exist, according to Slate's Dave Weigel.
• George Zimmerman, the Florida "hero" who claimed that he was just "standing his ground" after having stalked and shot unarmed African-American teen Trayvon Martin last year has a) Reportedly burned through $300,000 in donated legal defense funds and is now considering asking the court to declare him "indigent", so the state would have to pay for his defense and b) Gained some 105 pounds since his arrest last year, according to ThinkProgress today. (Yes, that is what Zimmerman looks like now, at the top of this article.)
• But the most bizarre story of the day must surely be David Corn's at Mother Jones, where his latest investigative report into the profiteering "non-profit" racket called FreedomWorks (one of the nation's largest and most powerful so-called "Tea Party" groups) documents a video said to have been created by the group, but never shown publicly, which "included a scene in which a female intern wearing a panda suit simulates performing oral sex on Hillary Clinton." As Corn himself felt necessary to mention in an Author's note: "The previous sentence contains no typos."
Keep sending in those bucks to the Rightwing scam-artists, wingnuts! No, you're not being played for suckers in the least!
In the twisted Rightwing world of CNN's Erin Burnett, one "tempers" ones views by favoring war over diplomacy. It's the world upside down. But it's prime-time anchor Burnett's world, so, unfortunately, it must be ours as well.
"In Washington, there's no ruling party," progressive activist and congressional expert Howie Klein of "Down With Tyranny" told me during my interview with him on the Mike Malloy Show just prior to Thanksgiving. We were discussing issues surrounding the increasingly conservative bent of the Democratic leadership in the U.S. House.
"The ruling clique in Washington is what's called 'the conservative consensus'," he continued. "And 'the conservative consensus' is the Republicans, not just in Congress, but the Republicans who stay there forever --- in think tanks, and in the media, and in the consultant world, the pundit world. So them --- and the Democrats who are also part of that world --- that's 'the conservative consensus'. It's everybody but the progressives."
That "conservative consensus" is on display every night on CNN, courtesy of Burnett and her insipid Out Front program. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more blatant example of the "conservative consensus" in the media than her comments that I happened to catch last week while on the road.
Here's Burnett during a discussion on her show last Monday (1/7/2013, the full video is here) about the various concerns --- pretend or otherwise --- about President Obama's nomination of former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) as the next Secretary of Defense. Her guests were former George W. Bush Speechwriter and Senior Adviser David "Axis of Evil" Frum and former Pentagon Press Secretary for Barack Obama, Doug Wilson. [Emphasis added.]
BURNETT: Hagel voted against sanctions [on Iran]. Now he says he's for multilateral sanctions, but he voted against unilateral sanctions. He voted against recognizing the Iranian Revolutionary Guard core as a terrorist organization. That, of course, was well outside the mainstream. The Senate voted 76 to 22 in favor of that.
And in 2006, to David [Frum]'s point, Hagel said, and I'll just quote him in part: "I would say that a military strike against Iran, a military option, is not a viable, feasible responsible option ... I believe a political ... settlement will be the answer. Not a military settlement."
Now, since then, to be fair, he has tempered his point of view. In an op-ed as recently as September, he says "war with Iran is not inevitable, but U.S. security is seriously threatened by an armed Iran."
But is he really outside the mainstream on Iran?
What she did right there, with that almost off-handed, almost imperceptible throw-away line --- "to be fair, he has tempered his point of view" --- is simply incredible to me, and a perfect example of the "conservative consensus" that Klein was talking about.
Since when did shifting one's position towards a possibility of war, rather than diplomatic solutions, become a "tempered" point of view in this country? That nobody on the show even blinked an eye about it is even more astounding.
For the record, no matter the way he is being slimed by the "conservative consensus" at CNN and elsewhere on this and other matters, Hagel, a two-time Purple Heart recipient during his time as an infantry squad leader in the Vietnam War, is anything but a pacifist or a so-called left-wing peacenik when it comes to these matters...
Washington Post reports on outgoing Republican Senator Chuck Hagel's comments last night during an address at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. It seems he doesn't care much for the Bush Administration...
Hagel, who considered running for the GOP presidential nomination as an antiwar candidate, told the foreign policy experts that he would give the Bush administration "the lowest grade of any I've known."
"I have to say this is one of the most arrogant, incompetent administrations I've ever seen or ever read about," Hagel said, according to our colleague Robert Kaiser, who attended the speech. In case his audience didn't get the point, Hagel also said: "They have failed the country."
(NOTE: We're well aware of Hagel's troubling one-time ownership of voting machine company ES&S, before becoming the first Republican Senator to be elected in Nebraska in a dog's age... on ES&S voting machines. It is in spite that ignominy that we offer this most coveted award.)