The words "EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW" are famously chiseled above the main portico of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington D.C. But is one of the Justices seated in that building, with a lifetime appointment, now receiving special treatment under the law instead?
Evidence is mounting that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas violated federal law by failing to report his wife's annual salary of more than $120,000 per year from conservative political organizations by checking "NONE" on the box for "Non-Investment Income" for his wife Virginia on judicial Financial Disclosure Reports for the last 20 years.
According to the "self-initiated amendment" letters [PDF] signed by Thomas as dated Friday, January 21, 2011, and stamped as "RECEIVED" by the Judicial Conference of the U.S. Committee on Financial Disclosure on a Saturday, January 22, 2011, the Justice failed to reveal such sources of spousal income even on his original nomination disclosure forms during his contentious 1991 confirmation hearings.
One of the amendments hastily filed last week by Thomas states that he "inadvertently omitted" spousal income from as far back as 1989 "due to a misunderstanding of filing instructions." Though it has also been reported that he did report other spousal income on some disclosure reports up until 1996.
Virginia Thomas' income from The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank, totaling $686,589 from 2003 to 2007 according to Common Cause, was omitted from the forms entirely, as was her Heritage Foundation employment from 1998 to 2003 and other sources of "non-investment income" from as early as 1989.
When reached by phone for comment on Friday, two different officials at the Judicial Conference were particularly hostile in response to questions from The BRAD BLOG in regard to what appeared to be special treatment afforded the Supreme Court Justice, allowing him to deliver the amendment letters for twenty years of inaccurate financial disclosure forms on a Saturday when the federal government office is not usually open to the public. The swift processing of Thomas' documents, carried out as the news of his false filings was about to break in the media, allowed subsequent news reports to downplay the issue as having already been handled, old news.
Moreover, Thomas' 'inadvertent omissions' appear to be in violation of U.S. federal law, in contradiction to suggestions from the Los Angeles Times' original reporting on this matter last weekend. That report, breaking the story publicly, quoted a judicial ethics expert from Northwestern University School of Law as asserting that Thomas' failure to report his wife's income was "not a crime of any sort."
It would appear that the law professor was wrong.
Closer examination of the original disclosure forms that Thomas filed and signed year after year, quite directly suggests crimes were committed, though none of the mainstream corporate media reports on this issue, to our knowledge, have bothered to focus on that point. According to the statute clearly printed on the disclosure reports filed by Thomas, just below his signature on each, the Supreme Court Justice could be held accountable for his omissions by penalties under the U.S. Code including as much as a $50,000 fine and up to one year imprisonment, or both, for each violation of the federal law. Even stricter penalties are also a possibility --- at least if one believes that even U.S. Supreme Court Justices are subject to the Rule of Law...
Obama is doing so well lately that, despite the midterm shellacking and the notion that it was a referendum on the President, Americans would rather see the country go in the direction Obama wants than in the direction Congressional Republicans want. An ABC/Washington Post poll found that Americans wanted to see Obama rather than Republicans take the lead by a 44% to 35% split. That finding was supported by a PPP poll in which 48% of respondents said they had more faith in Obama to lead the nation, versus 44% who said they were more confident in Republicans.
That PPP poll had other great news for the President, as it showed him improving his lead on several frontrunners for the GOP presidential nomination in hypothetical 2012 matchups. In December, Obama led Mitt Romney by just one point nationally, though he now leads by five points, 48% to 43%. His lead on Mike Huckabee grew from three to five points over the same period, while he pulled away from Palin to lead that contest by 17 points, 55% to 38%.
"The Egyptians have risen up. They’re not going home until their demands are realized….until justice and democracy is restored," says the highly respected Dr. Mohamed ElBaradai, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over Al Jazeera English. "The state of Egypt is in a state of collapse."
ElBaradai, who returned to the country earlier this week, "called upon the Egyptian army to take the side of the people," and called upon Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to immediately step down.
What is unfolding on the streets of Egypt may well be confirmation of one of the core observations presented by Howard Zinn, who died one year ago this week...
Once again, Big Government Republicans are trying to put federal bureaucrats between you and your doctor, while at the same time making the world safer for rapists by redefining the meaning of "rape" entirely. Via Nick Baumann at Mother Jones...
Rape is only really rape if it involves force. So says the new House Republican majority as it now moves to change abortion law.
For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. (Another exemption covers pregnancies that could endanger the life of the woman.) But the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," a bill with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has dubbed a top priority in the new Congress, contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases.
With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to "forcible rape." This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. For example: If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion.
Given that the bill also would forbid the use of tax benefits to pay for abortions, that 13-year-old's parents wouldn't be allowed to use money from a tax-exempt health savings account (HSA) to pay for the procedure. They also wouldn't be able to deduct the cost of the abortion or the cost of any insurance that paid for it as a medical expense.
Other types of rapes that would no longer be covered by the exemption include rapes in which the woman was drugged or given excessive amounts of alcohol, rapes of women with limited mental capacity, and many date rapes.
The latest revision of this bill, according to FastCompany, "bans judicial review over executive decrees" to take down all, or portions of, the Internet.
On a very related note... Thanks to the Internet, you can watch the uprising in Egypt going on as we speak, via Al Jazeera English's streaming live coverage here, just in case you find that CNN and the others are still offering wall-to-wall coverage of Charlie Sheen. You can also follow ongoing Twitter reports on Egypt via the #Jan25 and #Egypt hashtags.
And on another very related note... The recent uprising, revolution and new government in Tunisia was triggered, in no small part, thanks to a U.S. diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks detailing the corruption of the ruling family. That revolution helped spark the one going on right now in Egypt, where the people have taken to the streets to challenge the thirty-year, iron-fisted rule of Hosni Mubarik, a long-time U.S. ally.
WikiLeaks has now released U.S. cables describing "routine and pervasive" use of police brutality and widespread torture by the Egyptian state, our allies, against "criminals, Islamist detainees, opposition activists and bloggers," as The Guardian describes the leaked cables today.
In Yemen, another ally of the U.S., citizen protests inspired by Tunisia and Egypt are also reportedly underway. And this morning, rumors of unrest in Syria were also spreading via Twitter.
With very real democratic revolutions happening in the Middle East --- one of the purported excuses once given for the U.S. invasion and mass murders in Iraq --- coming about through peaceful uprisings (but for governmental aggression in response) there, thanks in no small part to WikiLeaks, wouldn't folks like Joe Biden be wise to reconsider his recent, offensive assessment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as a "high-tech terrorist"?
Perhaps not. Perhaps the Vice President has good reason to stand by that astonishing incitement of violence against a private Australian citizen and an organization neither charged with, nor convicted of, any crimes against the U.S.. After all, we have, for decades, been propping up the repressive Egyptian regime with billions of dollars in funding and armaments. And, by way of reminder, it is being reported that the tear gas canisters being hurled against Egyptian citizen demonstrators right now are clearly and proudly marked as "Made in the U.S.A."
But, of course, "they hate us for our freedoms." So remind us again, Mr. Vice President, who are the terrorists --- high-tech or low-tech --- here?
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: From the greenest State of the Union speech ever, to the State of Wisconsin --- Obama calls for clean energy jobs, and as the GOP flip-flop on 'Cap and Trade' continues, Gingrich calls for abolishing the EPA, and Sarah Palin calls on donuts to save the nation... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Cost of climate change two times higher than Fed's estimate; Australia's PM calls for 'flood tax' for cleanup costs; Rise in childhood cancers parallels rise in toxic chemicals; The Oscar-nominated short Green Doc you must see; TX defies EPA on power plant pollution permit; Was Genghis Khan history's greenest conqueror?; 20 dead in Colombia coal mine blast; PA fracking blowout dumps toxic chemicals in state forest ... PLUS: SkepticGate!: Climate change-denying scientist revealed to be funded by oil industry ....
[Update 1/27/11: IL's Supreme Court has determined Emanuel meets the residency requirements to run for Mayor in Chicago, overturning the lower court's ruling referenced below. Not that any of that makes any difference in regard to the details about Chicago's voting system as offered in the following article. So please read on.]
Perhaps you've been keeping up with the kerfuffle over the past day or two over former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel's bid to be on Chicago's ballot in the upcoming February mayoral race there. On Monday, a court determined his residency status was not sufficient and ordered him removed from the ballot, while on Tuesday the court of appeals has temporarily stayed that order, leaving him on the ballot for now, after agreeing to hear his appeal.
But in modern-day Chicago, "appearing on the ballot" is not quite as straightforward as one might think, given the 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems now forced on hundreds of thousands of voters in the Windy City.
Over the years, we've covered specific failures of the very same Sequoia e-voting systems that are used in Chicago and elsewhere across the country, as well as the remarkable duplicity of the company's top officials. So it seems like this would be a good moment to remind folks of the most disturbing Sequoia/Chicago related incidents.
One involves Oprah's "lost" vote on the Sequoia touch-screen systems used there in the 2008 Presidential general election, the other involves the CEO of Sequoia Voting Systems simply lying to Chicago officials about his company's direct business partnership with a Venezuelan e-voting firm tied to Hugo Chavez, and the fact that the Venezuelan firm, Smartmatic, still owns the intellectual property (IP) rights to the e-voting systems used by Chicago voters --- even as the new owners of Sequoia continue to lie about it...
YOU LIE! Just thought we'd get that out of the way right off the bat.
As usual, we'll be watching --- and Tweeting --- the State of the Union right along with ya. And maybe even with Justices Scalia, Alito and Thomas, all of whom are reportedly skipping the speech tonight. Guess they have better things to do.
In what is described as an "unprecedented" move, National Journal has posted what is said to be the complete text of the speech in advance of the usual embargo.
Have any thoughts along the way (or after)? Feel free to share 'em below in comments...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Getting "Gas"-y at the Oscars; Freakin' Frackin'; Natural disasters are expensive; Catastrophic flooding, drought around the world ... PLUS: The State of the Union ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Texans rebel against TransCanada oil pipeline; McCain: 'Ethanol is a joke'; China leapfrogs past U.S. in wind power industry; Secret EPA study implicates new pesticide in decline of bees; Bloom fuel cell breakthrough (in financing); Is Biomass clean or dirty energy?; Warnings on leaky Alaska pipeline two years ago; Record melt of Greenland Ice Sheet in 2010; House GOP to grill Oil Spill Commission; More battles over mountaintop coal mining projects in Appalachia; Big cleanup questions linger at Hanford Nuclear Superfund site ... PLUS: 10 Common Misconceptions About California's Cap-and-Trade Program ....
In a recent article, "The Left Has Nowhere to Go", Chris Hedges joins Ralph Nader in attributing the quadrennial failure of third party candidates to muster a meaningful challenge to the two-party system to a "cowardice" of the left.
Hedges, who described a 2008 vote for either Nader or Cynthia McKinney as "an act of defiance," quotes Nader as stating that "the more outrageous the Republicans become...the more the left has to accept the slightly less outrageous corporate Democrats." Hedges adds:
Nader fears a repeat of the left’s cowardice in the next election, a cowardice that has further empowered the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party, maintained the role of the Democratic Party as a lackey for corporations, and accelerated the reconfiguration of the country into a neo-feudalist state. Either we begin to practice a fierce moral autonomy and rise up in multiple acts of physical defiance that have no discernible short-term benefit, or we accept the inevitability of corporate slavery.
While Nader and Hedges have accurately described the existing "lesser evil" paradigm as coming into play during each Presidential election, where only one Republican and one Democrat are perceived as "viable" options, neither Nader nor Hedges acknowledges the extent to which their own tactical inflexibility has reinforced the existing paradigm.
Nader himself would be wise to reflect on that reality in advance of the 2012 primary season...
Here we are. A full seven years as of today, after I began, on a complete lark, what I had thought would be little more than something to keep me occasionally occupied after I had finished up a different project I'd worked on for five years prior. I had no idea or hopes for what it would, and has become --- or that it would keep me from being able to make the living I had been able to before starting --- or even that I'd find myself, with disturbing regularity, having nearly front-row seats to moments of historic importance, as witness to the unraveling of a nation.
But here we are. Seven years later, and still at it, still digging, still fighting, still crying, still laughing, still witnessing in wonder as the unraveling continues, and still more disturbed by it all than I could have ever even imagined.
For those of you who have joined us for all or any part of the long, strange journey along the way, I can only hope it has been as thought-provoking, informative, and enlightening as it has been, at times, absolutely maddening.
But here we are still. Still fighting many of the same battles, still witnessing many of the victories and disappointments over and again. We don't drive the bus, however. We just ride along with it, and help, to the best of our abilities, in trying to steer it back on to a road toward sanity, peace, love, hope, and improvement tomorrow over failure yesterday and today.
Were it not for the support of many of you out there, we'd not be here today at all. As I have to point out too often when folks ask how we make a living at this: we don't. Truly independent investigative progressive bloggers with specialties in muckraking, trouble-making, snark, whistleblowing and election integrity don't make nearly the great fortune that one might think.
Instead, we beg, borrow, try not to steal, and hope to keep on keeping on, with your support, whenever and however possible. To that end, yes, I will again ask for your support in a moment, even as I offer a purposely and extraordinarily vague hint about possible changes (both positive and likely temporary) coming in the weeks and months ahead, if I am able to see things through as I hope. But more on that later as/if things develop.
So with that small vagary, please forgive my using this moment for what I am so loath to do, even as so many other news and blog sites do so with far more regularity than I ever feel comfortable. Please consider supporting The BRAD BLOG with a "birthday gift" of any amount. Of course, the larger --- as you are able to afford and still take care of more pressing priorities --- the better. You are, and always have been, by and large, what stands between our ability to keep going at whatever it is that we do, and the (always) far more plausible notion that we'll be forced to simply roll up our tent of ever-good intentions in order to find a much more reasonable way to pay a meager rent, put food on the table, and some gas in the tank.
One-time donations are, as ever, tremendously appreciated. Even more so are sustaining, automated, monthly contributions of any amount you can comfortably afford. For the latter, please see the form in the light blue box mid-way down our right sidebar. Monthly sustaining support is a quick and easy matter to create, via credit card or PayPal, as you prefer, and will hopefully take you less than three minutes or so to set up.
Most of all, of course, your support --- by reading, clicking, commenting, DIGGING, REDDITing, Tweeting, Facebook "sharing," and/or emailing the fruits of the efforts of myself and of all of those many who have contributed here in any way over these past seven years --- continues to be the greatest gift of all. Without you, as they say, we are nothing. So for that, as we head into Year Number Eight(?!) I thank you yet again, from the bottom of my ever-exhausted, yet still hopeful, heart.
Almost 100 people packed into North Charleston City Hall on Thursday night to hear whether crucial cogs in their democracy --- South Carolina's voting machines --- are working right.
The consensus seemed to be no, they weren't, but there was less certainty about what to do about it.
The Charleston County Democratic Party arranged the forum on the electronic voting machines, which several leaders have called into question after last year's shocking primary win by unknown Democratic Senate candidate Alvin Greene against former judge and Charleston County Councilman Vic Rawl, a former circuit judge.
Rawl, one of the panelists, said this issue isn't about him but instead about the sanctity of the principle of one-man one-vote.
"From every expert I talked to, that (primary result) was an aberration," Rawl said. "If that aberration was contrived or accidental, we seriously need to get rid of that machine."
State Democratic Party Executive Committee member Susan Yarborough Smith began her remarks by paraphrasing Communist leader Josef Stalin, saying, "The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything."
For six years, the state's voters have used about 12,000 iVotronic touch-screen machines made by Election Systems & Software, a Nebraska-based company.
Frank Heindel, a Charleston businessman who has launched his own investigation of the machines, noted there were thousands of error messages on Charleston County machines in the 2010 elections. Also, he noted that a different error led to 1,389 extra votes in statewide races in Colleton County.
However, [State Sen. Phil] Leventis, [D-Sumter] and Sen. Raymond Cleary, R-Georgetown, said the Legislature won't do anything unless it is pressured to. Cleary noted lawmakers are satisfied with the outcome of their own elections: They won.
As I say, that about sums it up. "They won," so most of the lawmakers who would be the ones to force voting system reform, don't much care. That, even after the disastrous Democratic U.S. Senate primary last year, which The BRAD BLOG covered in great detail as it all shamefully unfolded. (Search "Vic Rawl" or "Alvin Greene" here for some of that coverage).
But for those who would like a few more details on those "1,389 extra votes in Colleton County," as mentioned in the article above, as well as --- perhaps even more disturbing --- some 13,500 votes apparently missing entirely from Charleston County, please read on...
No real clues what this is about, but Keith Olbermann announced, at the end of tonight's show, that it would be the last edition of Countdown with Keith Olbermann, MSNBC's top-rated program.
MSNBC, the nation's #2 rated cable news channel in primetime (behind Fox "News" and ahead of CNN), quickly released this terse announcement after the show:
MSNBC and Keith Olbermann have ended their contract. The last broadcast of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" will be this evening. MSNBC thanks Keith for his integral role in MSNBC's success and we wish him well in his future endeavors.
The announcement comes at the end of the same week that the FCC & Dept. of Justice approved Comcast's takeover of NBC. Writing at Daily Beast, media critic Howard Kurtz reports, however, that "A knowledgeable official said the move had nothing to do with Comcast taking control of NBC next week, although the cable giant was informed when it received final federal approval for the purchase that Olbermann would be leaving the cable channel. This official described the dramatic divorce-Olbermann was about halfway through a four-year, $30 million contract-as mutual."
However, TMZ reports tonight, that Olbermann "was fired" according to "MSNBC sources" and that "it had everything to do with Comcast's acquisition of NBC." Their sources said that "Comcast honchos did not like Keith's defiance and the way he played in the sandbox," whatever that means.
[Update: Comcast issues statement denying they had anything to do with any of this. More details in full UPDATE now posted at bottom of story after the video.]
At the beginning of his announcement, posted below, Olbermann suggests that he had been "told that this is going to be the last edition of your show." Few other clues are offered for the sudden departure in his closing statement.
Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall, who had been a guest at the top of tonight's show, says that he was "stunned" and "didn't sense anything different in Keith's manner or affect" during tonight's broadcast or inside the studio itself.
"There were a few more people than I'm used to seeing in the studio --- maybe two or three, seated, who seemed to be there to watch. (Something I don't remember seeing before)," he writes in an item tonight titled "What the hell was that about?" but says he saw "nothing that made me think twice that anything odd was going on."
The Times' Carter says that Lawrence O'Donnell, host of MSNBC's recently-added 10pm show The Last Word would take over the 8pm slot, Rachel Maddow would continue at 9pm, and progressive radio talker and host of MSNBC's 3pm The Ed Show, Ed Schultz, would take over O'Donnell's 10pm slot to fill out the new prime-time line-up.
Olbermann's announcement and final sign-off follows below...
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UPDATE:Mediate reports that office politics had more to do with the departure than anything, and Comcast issues a statement to say they had nothing to do with it. See below...
"You need to go back to June --- June of this year, 2010," said would-be mass murderer Byron Williams, referring to Glenn Beck in a jailhouse interview. Williams had been stopped by police in a San Francisco shoot out on his way to assassinate members of the ACLU and the progressive Tides Foundation in July of 2010. "Look at all his programs from June, and you'll see he's been breaking open some of the most hideous corruption," Williams, who viewed Beck as a "schoolteacher on TV," later said.
In case you are wondering about Beck's comments in the video above, thinking it must be out of context or something, it's not. The transcript (as taken from the Fox "News" website) revealing the context, follows below...
It's nice to see the corporate media, finally --- finally --- holding Democrats accountable for their outrageous rhetoric [via Heather at C&L]...
P.S. Speaking of "propaganda lies," be sure to listen to today's Green News Report, where Fox "News," as usual, comes through like a champ again!
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UPDATE: The Maddow Blog posts a coda to this story, along with an anti-Semitic flyer that was circulated by opponents in Memphis during Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN)'s 2008 campaign there. The blog reports that "Mr. Cohen is his state's first Jewish member of Congress, and that he has faced prejudice for it in his political career. 'Memphis Congressman Steve Cohen and the JEWS HATE Jesus,' read one flyer circulated by a black minister during the 2008 campaign."