In case you can't read it, the text of the identical letters, believed to contain deadly ricin --- as sent last week to President Barack Obama, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and to his gun safety organization, Mayors Against Illegal Guns (as well as to an Air Force Base and the CIA) from a Shreveport, LA post office --- follows below...
You will have to kill me and my family before you get my guns. Anyone wants to come to my house will get shot in the face. The right to bear arms is my constitutional God given right and I will excersice [sic] that right til [sic] the day I die. whats in the letter is nothing compared to what ive [sic] got planned for you.
Well, that tears it! I'm convinced by his water-tight argument. We must fight to ensure every American --- just like the guy who wrote the letter above --- is able to buy any weapon he likes, with as much ammo as he likes, with as many magazines, of any size, as he likes, with no oversight, tracking or background checks whatsoever! I see no down side.
It is, after all, a "constitutional God given right" and who are we to put limits on what God wants (and wrote directly into our Constitution)?
Sure, laugh now. But, to paraphrase, "First they came for the attempted assassins," etc...
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Rachel Maddow's quick take on the above, and a spate of similar incidents of late, follows below...
AP and others are reporting that President Obama plans to nominate, for FBI Director, Republican James Comey, former Deputy Attorney General under then AG John Ashcroft, during some of the darkest days of the George W. Bush Administration.
The news offer a moment to revisit what a real White House scandal looked like --- back when Republicans had no interest in them and back when there were real investigative Congressional hearings and no need to create pretend "whistleblowers" in order to gin up political "outrage" and "scandal"!
For those of you who believe Benghazi is an actual scandal, or even that the IRS idiocy has anything to do with "tyranny" or "abuse of power", you need only look back to Comey's riveting, could-hear-a-pin-drop, 2007 testimony before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, as he described publicly, for the first time, a very real Executive over reach and astonishing abuse of power that concerned not only the federal government spying on all Americans without warrant or cause, but a White House willing to secretly take advantage of a critically ill Attorney General in order to get approval for a program by having it "certified as legal", even when it clearly was not.
That's what Comey described in his May 15, 2007 testimony --- during hearings on the U.S. Attorney Scandal (another very real one) --- about a remarkable event that took place on the night of Wednesday, March 10, 2004, which threatened to result in the mass resignation of the Attorney General, his Deputy AGs, much of their top-level staff, as well as the Director of the FBI. When asked during the hearing why he had determined to submit his resignation after what he saw and what had happened on that fateful night, he responds to Sen. Chuck Schumer: "I believed that I couldn't stay if the Administration was going to engage in conduct that the Department of Justice said had no legal basis. I just couldn't stay."
His testimony describes the night that the Bush's NSA warrantless eavesdropping program was set to expire, as then AG Ashcroft lay in a hospital Intensive Care Unit with a critical case of pancreatitis. Comey, designated as Acting AG during the AG's illness, had refused the White House demands to certify the NSA program as "legal", as was needed for it to continue. The White House was said to have been furious about it, so Dubya, reportedly, personally called Ashcroft's wife to inform her that his own legal adviser Alberto Gonzalez (who was not yet AG) and Chief of Staff Andy Card, were on their way over to the hospital to have the ailing AG personally sign off on the program.
What happened next, as Comey describes it in his testimony below, was an astonishing moment in a very real Constitutional crisis...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Problems found on Keystone XL pipeline in TX; Illegal Monsanto genetically modified wheat discovered in Oregon; Wal-mart guilty of toxic waste dumping; Shell admits moving grounded Arctic rig to avoid paying taxes; Russia evacuates its Arctic research station; PLUS: ExxonMobil's CEO unclear on the concept of man-made climate change ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Big win for Big Coal: Judge gives Patriot Coal OK to cut benefits; NM county first in nation to ban fracking to safeguard water; Video: the Impact Of Coal; Utilities fight shift to rooftop solar; Crappy solar panels threaten industry growth; Mountain of pet coke waste from tar sands looms in Detroit; China buys major US food supplier; Tesla to expand Supercharger network nationwide in 6 months ... PLUS: As glaciers melt, alpine mountains lose their glue... and much, MUCH more! ...
The TPP is a NAFTA-like "free trade" agreement that not only threatens our national sovereignty, but aspires to supplant the sovereignty of all participating nation-states with a privately-controlled, all encompassing, corporate, global "investor state". The "investor-state" finds its embodiment in the creation of arbitration tribunals which are granted the power to negate the effectiveness of laws passed by individual nation-states.
As explained by Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese, through TPP, U.S. corporations and their K-Street lobbyists seek to by-pass the legislative process and democratic accountability in order to undermine Internet freedom, U.S. environmental laws and regulations and local laws protecting the health and safety of our citizenry. "Many of those corporations that have failed to get what they want from Congress are now getting their way through the secret back door of the TPP," they write. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has also issued a warning that Wall Street is attempting to gut Dodd-Frank through trade agreements such as TPP.
But, as government watchdog group Public Citizen observes, TPP --- which is now augmented by a joint U.S./E.U. call for a similar Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement --- threatens not only U.S. sovereignty but the ability of all nations to protect their own citizenry through the expansion of an already "notorious investor-state system". Such a system allows ethically compromised international business arbitration tribunals to compel nation-states to fork over "taxpayer-funded" penalties to predominantly U.S.-based, multinational corporations as the result of "domestic regulatory frameworks concerning nuclear energy and currency stability, revocation of mining and oil licenses (often in response to contract violations), and numerous other government measures affecting public health, financial stability, access to essential services and the environment."
What, you hadn't heard about this? Perhaps because the corporate media, and both major political parties, would prefer you keep your eyes on the shiny, pretend objects (Benghazi "scandal"! IRS "scandal"!) rather than the policies supported by both parties that will actually have a very real impact on your life and our country...
Despite another "no contest" plea to four charges of voter fraud today, Hamilton County (Cincinnati), OH's crackdown on voter fraud, has yet to produce a conviction for a crime that might have been stopped had GOP-supported polling place Photo ID restriction laws been in place.
Melowese Richardson, the Madisonville poll worker accused for voting illegally for herself and others over three elections, entered no contest pleas in court this morning to four of the eight charges against her.
The other four counts were dismissed.
The 58-year-old Richardson, a long-time poll worker at the Madisonville Recreation Center...voted twice for herself in the 2012 election; and in elections in 2012, 2011 and 2009, she cast ballots for a number of friends and family members - one of whom was in a coma at the time.
As usual, it was an election insider, in this case, a pollworker, who attempted to defraud the system. As a pollworker, she figured out how to cast ballots for folks she knew would not be showing up to vote in person themselves.
No polling place Photo ID restriction --- as favored by Republicans claiming to want to stop "voter fraud" (but, really, just hoping to stop legal, largely Democratic-leaning voters from being able to cast a vote) --- would have deterred her insider efforts.
Out of the 421,997 votes cast in Hamilton County's 2012 November general election (and more in primaries last year) prosecutors have also been able to net two more convictions, both for absentee ballot fraud, which is also not affected in any way by the polling place Photo ID restrictions called for by Republicans...
Earlier this month, Russell Glossop, a 74-year-old Symmnes Township man, entered a guilty plea to a charge of illegal voting by casting an absentee ballot last fall for his dead wife.
The same is true of Sister Marguerite Kloos, a Sister of Charity who had cast a ballot for another nun who had died last fall before absentee ballots had been mailed out.
As The BRAD BLOG has reported for years, based on empirical study after empirical study to back up the case, in-person polling place impersonation, the only type of voter fraud that can possibly be deterred by Photo ID restrictions, is extraordinarily rare. Republican-enacted laws passed (theoretically) to deter it, stand to disenfranchise far more perfectly legal voters --- exponentially so --- than fraudulent votes that might ever be deterred by such laws.
Last August, for example, we reported on a new nationwide analysis by a non-partisan news consortium which examined every single election fraud case in the U.S. going back to 2000. Their findings? Out of thousands of cases of fraud, and hundreds of millions of legal votes cast in all 50 states for more than a decade, the study identified just ten (10!) cases of in-person voter fraud that might have been deterred by Republican polling place Photo ID restriction laws.
At the same time, partisan Republican groups such as "True the Vote" continue to fraudulently claim a massive "voter fraud" epidemic in support of GOP Photo ID restrictions. As we reported last December, their website had boasted of "voter fraud convictions in 46 states", but deceptively failed to point out that ZERO of the allegations and convictions cited would have been deterred by polling place Photo ID laws.
In the meantime, if you're looking for actual fraud, please see our article from last August, detailing election fraud allegations and convictions, for very high profile Republicans --- including Mitt Romney and even the former Sec. of State of Indiana (who was convicted of 3 felony voter fraud counts, even while he was the chief election official tasked with overseeing and enforcing the state's first-in-the-nation polling place Photo ID restriction law). None of the cases cited in the article, of those very high-profile GOPers, would have been deterred by the type of voting restriction laws favored by Republicans.
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IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: WA bridge collapse another 'wake-up call' on the nation's infrastructure; CA Gov. Brown calls for immediate action on climate change; Global protest "March Against Monsanto" against GMOs; PLUS: CBO says carbon tax a good idea - but only if you care about future Americans (Oh, and dead rats are falling from the sky!)... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Wal-mart pleads guilty to toxic waste dumping [no jail time!]; Stunning report slams U.S. food inspection, safety; Electric car-maker Better Place: what went wrong?; Shocker: CBS' Face the Nation covers climate change & extreme weather; Majority of world population to face water shortages by 2050; Explainer: Utilities vs. renewables for dummies; NY pilot program to compost city food scraps; Russia's Arctic research station evacuated due to melting ice ... PLUS: Ending world hunger with a 3-D printer? NASA's newest project ... and much, MUCH more! ...
So, I was minding my own business on Memorial Day afternoon, just starting to light up some coals for a backyard BBQ with a few neighbors, when --- THWACK! --- a dead rat fell from the sky and landed hard on the patio pavement no more than five feet from where I was standing.
It was gray rat, with some blackish spots, had a body about 8 inches long and a tail another 8 or 10 inches, and what appeared to be two bloody wounds of some type on the side of its body.
Since I am a wuss, it was Desi --- rescuer of enormous spiders and disposer of dead rodents --- who wasn't so grossed out that she couldn't pick it up with a rake and throw it away.
I am kicking myself now that all of us --- myself and the four other witnesses (after-the-fact witnesses to the dead rat, not the fall, since I was the only one lucky enough to be there for the THWACK!) --- were too freaked out and creeped out to think of taking a photo to prove this actually happened! But it did.
My preferred theory is that this real life B-Horror Movie moment was actually the result of a hawk with great eyesight and a lousy grip. In any case, if dead bloody rats raining from the sky isn't a sign of the coming apocalypse, I really don't know what is...
President Obama recently nominated Tom Wheeler as the new Chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the federal agency tasked with protecting the public interest in broadcasting, particularly over our public airwaves.
One of the first questions Wheeler's FCC will have to (reluctantly?) decide: Is Talk Radio the same as "bonafide news"?
More than three quarters of the American public say no, according to Pew Research, and one would think an agency sworn to protect the public interest and its airwaves would agree with that vast majority. But will Wheeler choose to put the public interest first, or will his FCC continue to simply turn a blind eye, as the agency has done since the Reagan administration?
After what we documented last year in Wisconsin, and after official complaints were filed in turn with the FCC about how corporate radio stations there appear to have abused their licensed privilege to broadcast over our public airwaves, that question may finally have to be answered by the federal agency tasked with enforcing the law over those very airwaves...
No significance here. Just a Memorial Day Weekend palette cleanser. And a really cool one, at that. No camera or editing trickery. Just one guy --- Marquese Scott --- and some awesome cool "dubstep"...
After he was interrupted, several times, by CODEPINK founder Medea Benjamin during his foreign policy speech on Thursday, President Obama said: "The voice of that woman is worth paying attention to."
I agree with that part of his response, which was met with applause in the room. I rather liked the questions that Benjamin shouted out before and as she was eventually led out of the room. She offered a pretty well constructed set of thoughts and questions, particularly under the circumstances. And I'd love to hear the President's answers to a few of her questions.
Here's what she said, as well as I was able to capture her remarks from the video...
It's not Congress. It's you, sir. There are 102 people on a hunger strike [in the Guantanamo Bay prison]. These are desperate people. 86 have been cleared for release. You are Commander-in-Chief. You can close Guantanamo today. You can release those 86 prisoners today.
How about Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, a 16-year-old American killed by drones. Is that the way we treat a 16-year-old American? Why was he killed? Can you tell us why Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was killed?
Can you tell the Muslim people their lives are as precious as our lives? Can you take the drones out of the hands of the CIA? Can you stop the signature strikes that are killing people on the basis of suspicious activities? Will you apologize to the thousands of Muslims that you have killed? Will you compensate the innocent family victims? That will make us safer here at home.
I love my country! I love the rule of law! The drones are making us less safe. And keeping people in indefinite detention in Guantanamo is making us less safe. Abide by the rule of law. You're a Constitutional lawyer!
For the record, the President absolutely can release the 86 prisoners who have been cleared for release immediately, as Benjamin noted. He does not have to, as he likes to suggest, get approval from Congress to do that. He can release them immediately. He only needs Congressional approval to move prisoners (such as the ones who may actually face some sort of trial or military tribunal) to another prison on the U.S. mainland.
Despite his assertions to the contrary, as seen in the video below, Obama did not address the concerns of Benjamin. He did not explain why 16-year-old U.S. citizen Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was killed. He did not answer whether drone strikes would be taken out of the hands of the unaccountable CIA and given to the slightly-more-accountable military. He did not respond to the question about compensation to the families of innocent victims killed in drone strikes. He did not speak to whether "signature strikes" with drones (attacks based on profiles of those believed to be gathered at a particular location, rather than a specific person believed to be in the group) would be ended. He should address all of those issues.
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Video of the section of his speech during which the President was interrupted several times by Benjamin --- remarkably, she was not removed the first several times --- and his responses to her, follows below...
In it, we briefly documented the Obama DoJ's attack on journalists and journalism, as most recently highlighted by the sweeping subpoena of AP reporters' phone records and the naming of Fox "News" reporter James Rosen as an unindicted co-conspirator in order to subpoena his email and much more in the course of a national security leak investigation. We highlighted how these sorts of outrageous attacks on the media were something that the Right had very much approved of under Bush, and even under Obama, at least until it struck a bit too close to home for them, particularly with the latest news about Rosen. Now, of course, Fox and friends claim to be outraged! about it all.
In our report, we cited an excellent recent piece by Constitutional attorney turned UK Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald. In that column, he smartly decried the aggressive actions of the Obama Administration. At the end of his piece, in an update, he dinged the Right for their hypocrisy in this matter. (It was the latter which we generally focused on in our own piece, though we also pointed out how Greenwald has been extraordinarily consistent over the years in his no-holds-barred critique of First Amendment erosions, whether they were carried out by the Bush Administration or the Obama Administration. For his championing of First Amendment rights he has received much partisan criticism over the years, first from Bush loyalists during the Bush Administration, and now from partisan Obama loyalists during the current administration.)
In response to our piece, BRAD BLOG commenter "Billy" went off on a tear against Greenwald, charging that "he has been lying incessantly about the James Rosen story"; that he "has pretty much given up on objectivity and fact-based reporting"; that he is "an opponent of Barack Obama [who] won't let the truth get in the way of that opposition"; and, perhaps most sharply, that he "is now in the same business as [Republican Congressman and U.S. House Oversight Committee Chairman] Darrell Issa."
Setting the invective aside, the main of Billy's critique of Greenwald seems to be that Rosen's original 2009 article at Fox --- the one which resulted in the DoJ naming him as an unindicted co-conspirator and the indictment of Rosen's alleged State Department leak source Steven Jin-Woo Kim --- led to the dangerous exposure of U.S. intelligence gathering operations and assets in North Korea.
Rosen's report on North Korea "presumably made it very easy for them to eliminate the operation," Billy argued, in apparent support of the Obama DoJ's actions. "At worst, this publication may have cost American intelligence sources their lives."
"But Glenn Greenwald, who has pretty much given up on objectivity and fact-based reporting, described Kim's leak to Rosen as a case of communicating 'innocuous information to a journalist - something done every day in Washington.' Clearly it was not," fumed Billy.
We asked Greenwald whether he had yet to reply to the charge that he had "lied" about the Rosen case when describing the reported leaks as "innocuous" and, if not, if he'd like to. He sent us a response to that allegation, which he asked that we publish in full. Happy to. The complete response from Greenwald follows below...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: House GOP votes again to expedite Keystone XL pipeline; New Energy Secretary Moniz declares climate change science 'not debatable'; Oklahoma tornado the 2nd costliest in U.S. history; New rules for fracking on public lands; PLUS: California teen invents a battery that could charge your cell phone in 20 seconds ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): How Memorial Day gas price hikes enrich oil companies; The truth about the anti-wind movement (tiny, paranoid, disinformed, Koch-funded); Top 10 cities to be screwed by climate change (sorry, Phoenix); CBO: Carbon tax an option to avoid 'catastrophic' outcomes; China to launch carbon emissions market; Print solar panels at home ... PLUS: Crazy Time: Alex Jones explains how "the government" caused deadly Oklahoma tornado ... and much, MUCH more! ...
If you haven't already, you should read Glenn Greenwald's full take, published earlier this week, on the Obama DoJ's astonishing invasion of Fox "News" reporter James Rosen's work as a journalist by naming him as an unindicted co-conspirator in order to access his email, phone records and more in the course of the Obama Administration's criminal investigation into an alleged leak of classified material by State Department official Steven Jin-Woo Kim.
(For a somewhat different take on the matter, Jack Shafer's column at Reuters "What was James Rosen thinking?" is smart and worth reading, even as I find it uncomfortably close to flat out blaming the victim.)
To his credit, Greenwald's consistent stance over the years on this issue --- from his documentation of outrageous attacks on journalists and journalism during the Bush Administration, to outrageous attacks on journalists and journalism during the Obama Administration (much of which he references in his report linked above) --- earn him a lot of cred here. It has also earned him scorn from both the Right and supporters of the Obama Administration.
What has made all of this additionally amusing/maddening over the past week, however, has been the hypocritical turn by the Right and Fox "News" --- now that one of its own has been caught in the buzz-saw. Suddenly, they are outraged --- outraged! --- over the chill on journalism and journalistic freedom and the assault on the First Amendment now that it's the Obama Administration that is doing it and, I should add, now that it's being done to them. Recall, they didn't much care --- supported it, in fact --- when there were similar attacks on journalists at New York Times and Washington Post by the Bush Administration. Or, more recently, under Obama, against journalists like Julian Assange at WikiLeaks just a year or two ago. As discussed during my 2010 interview with legendary "Pentagon Papers" whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, then Fox "News" contributor Sarah Palin, for example, called for Assange to be hunted down like a terrorist "with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders".
True, the Obama Administration has taken the Bush War on Journalism to a whole new and disturbing level, but essentially he's simply continuing --- arguably, fulfilling --- the long-stated, long-supported-by-the-Right positions of the previous Administration. And they are the exact same positions they supported even just a year or two ago when calling for the prosecution of Assange!
It's a pretty clever win-win scam by the Right, in truth. Slam Obama as being "soft on national security!", and then yell and scream about it (justifiably so, in this case) when he takes action to prevent leaks "in the name of national security".
In an update to his full story, Greenwald added the following thoughts along with a short Meet the Press video from 2006 that you need to see. While watching it, please note how favorite Rightwing/Bush Administration son Bill Bennett was pushing for everything that the Right and Fox "News" now claim to be outraged about today. (They really should be outraged about it today, by the way. But they should have been equally outraged about it back when they and Bennett were actually arguing in support of heading straight down the slippery slope we are now gliding down at breakneck speed)...
Meanwhile, to convey just how warped this all is: it really is true that this very behavior of trying to criminalize national security reporting was a driving force of the worst elements on the Right during the Bush years; back then, I wrote constantly about the dangers to press freedoms such threats, by themselves, posed. Please just watch this 4-minute segment from a 2006 Meet the Press episode where the Washington Post's Dana Priest explains to Bill Bennett, who had called for her imprisonment, exactly what press freedoms and the law actually provide; Bill Bennett is who - and what - the Obama DOJ and its defenders are channeling today:
Since the influence of the Koch Brothers on PBS --- PBS! --- as Jane Mayer documents in The New Yorker this week, helped, until now, to suppress this film and keep it from airing on PBS, I figure it could use all the exposure possible. So here's the trailer from Citizen Koch.
Best line belongs to former Republican-turned-independent Presidential candidate (and former LA Governor) Buddy Roemer: "Listen to me, America. They don't care about you, because you don't bring a check"...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: A Green News Special Report: Devastation as another record tornado hits Moore, OK - The city wakes up to the day after, questions about resilience and the influence of climate change ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Midwest drought: Wells dry, fertile plains turn to dust; Utilities vs. rooftop solar: What the fight is about; Native chiefs walk out of Keystone XL negotiations; US hits 100k plug-in vehicles; Feds again delay restarting San Onofre nuke plant; Remember when IRS targeted environmental groups?; US approves natural gas export terminal; After 30 years, Camp Lejeune coming clean on toxic water ... PLUS: We Have Met the Unknown Unknowns --- and They are Us ... and much, MUCH more! ...