On today's BradCast, we can only hope that Donald Trump's ominous comments to reporters last night at the White House were as ill-informed and misleading as he usually is on just about everything else. [Audio link to show follows below.]
In somewhat chilling and wholly cryptic remarks during a short press avail Thursday night, Donald Trump suggested the moment might be seen as "the calm before the storm." He refused to clarify to the media, beyond gesturing to military leaders and their spouses who were at his side for a White House dinner, and adding "you'll find out." We discuss what it may (or may not) mean.
The storm he almost certainly wasn't referring to was Tropical Storm Nate, which, after killing more than 20 in Central America, is now expected to slam the U.S. Gulf Coast (possibly New Orleans) as a hurricane over the weekend.
That, even as disaster relief continues in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island more than two weeks ago. More than 90% of the island's 3.4 million U.S. citizens are still without power and some 50% without clean running water, despite recent Administration attempts to obscure the ongoing catastrophe. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, in the meantime, has now publicly offered to help rebuild Puerto Rico's entire power grid with solar panels and batteries and the island's Governor seems interesting in taking him up on it. That may be a glimmer of good news --- for Puerto Rico and all the rest of us --- as the island could become a highly visible U.S. proving ground for clean, renewable energy and micro-grids.
And, in not-at-all unrelated news, Trump has nominated a top coal industry lobbyist to be second-in-command at the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as a chemical industry scientist, whose work has, for years, downplayed peer-reviewed scientific studies critical of his clients' products, to head up EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention.
Then, in the aftermath of last Sunday's Las Vegas Massacre, some progressives and, yes, even conservatives are calling for an idea that is rarely mentioned, much less debated in this country: amend or abolish the Constitution's Second Amendment entirely. As U.S. democracy has been stifled and bastardized so much on issues related to guns and gun safety --- and even the Constitution itself --- after years of distorting propaganda by the NRA (the gun lobby) and its tools in both government and media, we discuss the issue today, not in support of abolishing the 2nd Amendment (necessarily), but in hopes of welcoming actual debate on both that and other related issues.
Finally, several recent polls --- on issues from health care to the NFL to media to immigration to climate change --- all find opposition steadily growing AGAINST pretty much every position that Trump and Republicans hold on them. Trump, it seems, has "the reverse Midas touch", as one writer observes, in what suffices today for a bit of encouraging news at the end of another horrible week in the U.S...
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[ED NOTE: An abridged version of this article was republished by the Ventura County Star on 8/17/2013.]
On Aug. 1, my Congressional Representative, Julia Brownley (D-CA-26), forwarded a letter to me in response to a query as to why she was amongst those responsible for the recent narrow defeat (205 - 217) of Amash-Conyers, a bi-partisan amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations bill that would have brought an abrupt halt to the NSA's warrantless blanket collection of Americans' phone records.
The response did not address the actual substance of Amash-Conyers. Instead, her complaints about the measure were procedural, as she explained...
I have worked vigorously to protect civil liberties over my entire career in public service, and will continue to do so. However, we must address the very complex issues related to our privacy, rapidly advancing technology, and threats to our national security that exploit these advancements, in a deliberative, thoughtful, and responsible way with vigorous public debate. Crafting legislation that deals with such foundational issues cannot be accomplished in an amendment to an appropriations bill, as was the strategy with the Amash amendment. Furthermore, it allowed for only fifteen minutes of debate, which is not acceptable for such an important and complex issue that the public and their elected representatives rightfully care so deeply about.
While there's some legitimacy in Brownley's objection to an arbitrary 15-minute time limit for debate on such an important matter, the issue is not as "complex" as the first-term Congresswoman characterizes it. The one paragraph amendment, and its implications --- unlike the PATRIOT Act, FISA and the opaque secret interpretations of those laws she was effectively voting to keep in place, as is --- were fairly straightforward, in fact...
"One of the great questions of our time is whether the American people, through Congress, will control the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street, or whether Wall Street will continue to wreak havoc on our economy and the lives of working families."
– Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) 9/16/11
Sanders' question is indeed one of the "great" ones for our time. But, as Yoda said, "there is another."
If there was ever a candidate perfectly suited to expose the lie that is to be found in the pseudo-populism of the mega-billionaire Koch brothers funded and controlled 'Tea Party' that helped Scott Brown (R-MA) secure a reported upset win in the 2010 special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the death of the late Edward "Ted" Kennedy (D-MA), it would be Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat.
The brilliant, straight-talking Harvard Law Professor and special adviser appointed by President Barack Obama to oversee the development of a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), whose interview with Michael Moore for Capitalism: A Love Story (see video below) established her to be the same thorn in the side of Wall Street's financial "products" that Ralph Nader was to GM when he exposed the Corvair in Unsafe at Any Speed, announced last week that she is a 2012 candidate for the U.S. Senate seat now occupied by a GOP Senator who has turned to Wall Street, in a big way, for financial support.
There is little question but that Warren's brilliance, eloquence, and sincerity will come into play during the ensuing campaign. But while Warren plants her flag in the fight for oversight, transparency, and accountability for our financial system, will she (and other candidates) come to understand the importance of oversight, transparency, and accountability for our electoral system before it's too late? Before yet another election --- like the one which brought Brown to the Senate in the first place --- is decided under a cloud of unverified results reported by easily-hacked, oft-failed, optical-scan voting systems such as those made by Diebold and programmed by a company with a criminal background in the great commonwealth of Massachusetts?...
With the backing of the AFL-CIO, National Nurses United, and the International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) simultaneously introduced the American Health Security Act of 2011, a Medicare-for-All single-payer system.
The move triggered a "provocative, interesting discussion," as Sanders described it, during a Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions subcommittee hearing in the Senate last week in which the Vermont Senator squared off with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) (see video below). Sanders and a physician-witness agreed that treating healthcare as a "right" is consistent with the Hippocratic Oath. For his part, Paul, a self-certified physician, claimed that the establishment of healthcare as a right would turn physicians and their staffs into slaves, with the possibility of police barging into their houses at night to arrest them. Paul's theory that medical care for all "enslaves" doctors and all of those who choose to work in their offices, would no doubt come as a surprise to many physicians who live comfortably in single-payer countries, like the wealthy UK physician interviewed by Michael Moore in Sicko!
Dr. Paul's remarks underscore the extent to which ideology has obscured a basic reality that the core problem is not the ability of American physicians to deliver quality healthcare, but the absurdity of a society which places a greater value on accumulating obscene wealth in the hands of the privileged few above the health and very lives of its citizens...
[Update 4:26pm PT: Related to the story below, one of the victims of the Tucson shooting has just been arrested for issuing a threat against Rightwingers at a taping for an ABC News special. It seems incitements by some are taken more seriously than incitements by others. Story here... -BF]
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Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
"I find it chilling to hear so many U.S. government officials calling for the leader of this organization, Julian Assange, to be labeled an 'enemy combatant' and jailed --- or worse."-Letter from Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) to Tom Hayden
Recently, a number of prominent politicians and pundits have called for the violent targeting of other individuals who have been neither accused nor charged with any crimes whatsoever, calling into the question the legality of such incitements to violence.
This article will transcend the issue of "moral responsibility" on the part of those politicians and pundits for the horrific consequences that may, and often do, ensue as the result of their deliberate appeals to fear, prejudice and hate so as to examine when such rhetoric actually amounts to an actual crime under the laws of our land.
There can be little doubt that, as observed by Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, the combination of 24/7 "vitriolic rhetoric" on TV and radio (See video below for poignant examples of such rhetoric), the absence of gun control, with leading U.S. politicians calling for "Second Amendment remedies," and the placement of "crosshairs" over a political opponent's district while calling on citizens to "reload," can produce lethal consequences --- consequences that are not limited to the actions of the deranged.
Such rhetoric is both the product and cause of dehumanization --- a process defined by Professor Phillip Zimbardo in The Lucifer Effect as a means "by which certain other people or collectives of them are depicted as less than human..."
The process begins with stereotyped conceptions of the other,...conceptions of the other as worthless, the other as all-powerful,…the other as a fundamental threat to our cherished values and beliefs. With public fear notched up and enemy threat imminent, reasonable people act irrationally, independent people act in mindless conformity, and peaceful people act as warriors. Dramatic visual images of the enemy on posters, television, magazine covers, movies, and the internet imprint on the recesses of the limbic system, the primitive brain, with the powerful emotions of fear and hate.
Where we covered the scientific work of Zimbardo and others in "Hate Speech and the Process of Dehumanization," and in a follow-up, demonstrating how the process applies both when directed to foreign "threats" and domestic "foes," here the focus is the thin legal line, unique to the U.S. courtesy of the First Amendment, between advocacy and incitement, and whether some U.S. politicians and pundits may have, at least in the case of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange as they have now charged, crossed that line so as to possibly warrant criminal prosecutions...
“We now have the entitlement generation as CEOs. They just plain feel entitled to being wealthy as Croesus with no responsibility, no accountability. They have become literal sociopaths.” - William K. Black on Bill Moyers’ Journal
Californians have been drawn within the cross-hairs of a propaganda blitz bought and paid for by Meg Whitman, the billionaire former CEO of eBay, who, since declaring her intent to run for governor in February, 2009, has already contributed $59 million of her own money to her "campaign" --- a one-sided political phenomenon which has seen a stealth candidate, with disturbing connections to Goldman Sachs, soar to the top of the polls because the electoral process has been emasculated by the absence of mandatory debates and meaningful investigative journalism...
After a shooting like this it's very important that no one jump to conclusions and take out any revenge against doctors or psychiatrists.
The wingnuts, of course, are out for blood following the shooting. Predictably, they're going after Muslims, under the presumption that the suspect, Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan was acting out of incitement from Islam.
Yet, I heard few such calls from the Right after those incidents. In the case of Tiller, his accused murderer Scott Roeder was regarded by the Right as either a hero or a lone, crazy guy (depending on how far to the Right they happened to be). I've heard no condemnation from the Right, or calls for accountability for the constant, repeated, almost daily characterization of Tiller, to millions and millions of Americans over the air waves by folks like Bill O'Reilly (the most watched man on cable news), as a "baby killer", "executing babies", "death merchant", etc., even though Tiller was a medical doctor performing lawful services.
I heard no wingnut condemnation of Bernie Goldberg --- and certainly not of Christianity as a whole --- even after it was revealed that his book, 100 People Who Are Screwing Up America (And All Franken Is #37), was a major inspiration for Jim David Adkisson's shooting spree at a Knoxville, TN Unitarian Church in July of 2008 which killed two and injured seven others...
Michael Moore calmly, efficiently and elegantly mopped the floor up with Sean Hannity on Tuesday night. Poor, sad, lost, cowardly Sean never saw it coming and never even knew what hit him. Via RAW STORY...
"Americans think that it’s healthcare that produces health, when there really is very little evidence for that. What turns out to be really important is the nature of caring and sharing in society….Where societies are more equal --- and economic equality is the thing that is most important in this --- people look after each other…and pretty well everyone does better. There’s almost nothing that is better in a society that tolerates the extreme levels of inequality in the United States. And so, we end up dying younger than people in all the other rich countries, despite spending half the world’s healthcare bill." - Dr. Stephen Bezruchka, March 30, 2009
"Who are we? Is this what we have become --- a nation that dumps people off like garbage who can't pay their hospital bills?" - Michael Moore, following a segment in which a confused elderly woman in a flimsy hospital gown is dumped curbside near a Skid Row rescue mission, in his documentary Sicko!*
In Failed States (2006), Prof. Noam Chomsky, a preeminent linguist and one of this nation’s most prolific political writers, concludes that the U.S. suffers from a “democracy deficit” --- the significant gap between the policy positions of the electorate and their elected representatives --- which he attributes to the manner in which “elections are skillfully managed to avoid issues and marginalize the underlying population…freeing the elected leadership to serve the substantial people.”
The deficit is especially acute in what Chomsky describes as “the most dysfunctional healthcare system in the industrial world.” Chomsky notes that a single-payer system --- that is a system in which all medical providers would be paid by a government entity as now occurs with Medicare --- has long been overwhelmingly favored by “a considerable majority” of the American people, but routinely dismissed by both the corporate media and the leaders of both political parties as “lacking political support” and not being “politically possible.”
The issue touches on the core contradictions which arise because we have allowed private authoritarian entities, corporations, to subvert democracy by controlling our economy, our mass media and the manner in which we conduct elections.
This piece will focus on the irrationality of a privatized health care system which values the wealth of a handful of CEOs of the parasitic and entirely unnecessary middle-men --- for-profit carriers and HMOs --- over the health and very lives of our people. It will explain what corporate America and their bought-and-paid-for politicians do not want you to hear...
So apparently Obama plans to appoint CNN’s Sanjay Gupta as Surgeon General. I don’t have a problem with Gupta’s qualifications. But I do remember his mugging of Michael Moore over Sicko. You don’t have to like Moore or his film; but Gupta specifically claimed that Moore “fudged his facts”, when the truth was that on every one of the allegedly fudged facts, Moore was actually right and CNN was wrong.
What bothered me about the incident was that it was what Digby would call Village behavior: Moore is an outsider, he’s uncouth, so he gets smeared as unreliable even though he actually got it right. It’s sort of a minor-league version of the way people who pointed out in real time that Bush was misleading us into war are to this day considered less “serious” than people who waited until it was fashionable to reach that conclusion. And appointing Gupta now, although it’s a small thing, is just another example of the lack of accountability that always seems to be the rule when you get things wrong in a socially acceptable way.
Following on yesterday's Michael Moore smackdown of Wolf Blitzer, Sanjay Gupta, and CNN specifically and the MSM in general, Moore and Gupta had it out tonight on Larry King Live after Moore fact-checked Gupta's so-called "Reality Check" from the evening before.
The Moore/Gupta appearance is below, broken into three parts...
Parts 2 and 3 of the Moore/Gupta appearance on Larry King Live follow below...
The continuation of the well publicized brouhaha (ed note: ass kicking!) between Michael Moore and Wolf Blitzer may not provide the fireworks witnessed around the country yesterday but it is still a worthy watch. Blitzer is considerably more conciliatory (ed note: tamed!) this time around referring to parts of Moore's new movie Sicko as "powerful" on more than one occasion. Moore, however, saved the best for last with a classic comment to Blitzer at the very end of the segment that had me laughing out loud and should not be missed.
Most of the country won't yet get Air America, the new Liberal radio network featuring Al Franken's "The O'Franken Factor" program, which launched today. Even in Los Angeles, where Air America currently is on the air (along with NY, Chicago, Portland, a couple of other cities and on XM Radio) many may have trouble picking it up on it's tiny 1580-am broadcast signal. To make matters worse in L.A., the show is running here on tape delay at Noon, instead of LIVE at it's 9am PT air time. (I guess they're avoiding going direct against Rush out here, but I'm not sure why.)
Nonetheless, with all of those first-day strikes against it, there is some good news to report. For one, the show does stream live on the Internet at 9am PT and offered a far better signal streamed on the net then it does on it's current on-air tape delay broadcast in L.A.
After hearing the first show's live stream, I can report - in general - so far, so good. The first show was head and shoulders above O'Reilly's freshman day on the radio. That would be due in no small part to the smart move of including Katherine Lanpher, a seasoned radio professional, as Franken's co-host. She kept the show moving smartly along without all the amateurish hemming and hawing we got from O'Reilly's first day (and continue to get, quite frankly, from his Radio Factor - although he's much improved.)
A good guest line-up today included former Senator and 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerry, Liberal icon Michael Moore and a call-in from Al Gore, among others. Also, it seems that Conservative icon Ann Coulter was present as well, though mercifully (for us) locked in the green room in a running gag (and sounding suspiciously like an unbilled Bebe "Dr. Lillith Sternin-Crane" Neuwirth).
Breath-of-fresh-air topics included the lousy deal made by the 9/11 Commission with the Bush Administration for Condoleezza Rice's public testimony in exchange for Bush and Cheney's joint, private, unsworn, unrecorded and untranscribed testimony, Michael Moore's publication of his best-seller "Stupid White Men" originally planned for September 11th, 2001 release and some of the rather stunning Email he's received directly from the troops in Iraq which seem to indicate that perhaps the media (whadda suprise!) may not be reporting the whole story on troop morale and the toll that this whole dubious affair is taking on their psyche.
Obviously, judging a new show of this sort on it's first broadcast is a mistake, so I'll avoid to much criticism or praise just yet, but suffice to say, it's a welcome voice on the Radio, and frankly anywhere in the media which until now has ranged from Far Right to Middle of the Road without a single outlet - anywhere - for the Left. So, welcome to the fray Air America! What took you so long?!