On today's BradCast, finding light on a very dark news day, and making sense of Devin Nunes' bizarre new legal attack against a well-respected media outlet. [Audio link for today's show is posted below.]
You know the news is dark on a day when the brightest spot seems to be the first-ever photographic evidence of a black hole in a galaxy that is 53 million light-years from Earth, as constructed by an international consortium of scientists from 20 different countries employing an array of observatories around the world to construct a virtual "telescope" the size of the planet itself. The assembled image of the supermassive black hole is the first such glimpse of such an object in space (theorized by Einstein over a century ago, but directly proven today for the first time) containing the same mass as 6.5 billion suns and so dense that nothing, not even light, can escape its gravitational pull.
Sounds a lot like the Trump Administration. But we (mostly) avoid that today, even as we discuss one of its biggest supporters in Congress, California Rep. Devin Nunes, and his increasingly mysterious (and troubling) new legal gambit.
But, before we get there today, an update on last week's razor thin race for a key seat on Wisconsin's Supreme Court. With computer-reported results from last week's election showing progressive-aligned Judge Lisa Neubaeur fell less than half of a percentage point shy of defeating far-right Judge Brian Hagedorn for a seat on the state's high court being vacated by a retiring progressive-leaned Justice, Neubauer decided on Wednesday against seeking a recount which she would have had to pay for under state law. Her concession today --- despite unofficial and unconfirmed computer tallies showing a loss by just about 6,000 votes out of some 1.2 million cast statewide --- means that progressives will be unable to regain a majority on the court until 2023 at the earliest. The new 5 to 2 rightwing majority all but scotches hopes for rolling back former Republican Governor Scott Walker's anti-union measures and GOP voter suppression laws, and could handicap the state's Democrats during the inevitable redistricting fights following the 2020 census. (Have we mentioned lately that elections matter?!)
Also today, more on the incoming and "potentially historic" "bomb cyclone" developing over plains states and the upper Midwest, where blizzard warnings have now been issued in 6 states, snowfall as high as two feet is predicted in some areas, and the threat of more major flooding is plaguing several states still fighting to recover from billions of dollars in damage from the last "bomb cyclone" which erupted just weeks ago. This latest evidence of the increasingly dangerous threat of catastrophic climate change comes on the same day as Donald Trump signed two new Executive Orders intended to make it more difficult for environmental regulations at the state level to prevent the construction of new oil and gas pipelines (which serve to exacerbate man-made global warming.)
Then, we're joined by veteran media analyst and authorERIC BOEHLERT to discuss the latest bizarre lawsuit, which seems to challenge the First Amendment itself, as filed by Nunes this week.
Several weeks ago, the California Congressman and top Trump ally in Congress filed a $250 million lawsuit against Twitter, the owners of two anonymous parody accounts (@DevonCow and @DevonNunesMom), as well as Republican strategist and Nunes/Trump opponent Liz Mair for defamation. This week, the GOP Congressman filed suit against Mair again, along with the 162-year old McClatchy Company, a news consortium which publishes the Fresno Bee, the hometown paper in the Nunes' central California district. His latest complaint seeks $150 million in damages, charging defamation based on an article published by the Bee last year detailing the settlement of a lawsuit after a charity yacht cruise which reportedly included cocaine and underage prostitutes, according to court documents cited by the paper. The cruise was auctioned off by the philanthropic arm of the Alpha Omega Winery, in which Nunes is an investor.
But where his Twitter suit seemed absurd, this new suit --- like the first one, originally reported by Fox "News", of course --- suggests a darker and more nefarious effort to undermine Constitutionally-protected freedom of the press. Who is funding these efforts by Nunes and why? Might it have anything to do with Trump's repeated assertions that libel laws need to change to make it easier for public figures like himself to challenge reporting that celebrities like himself don't care for?
Boehlert offers insight on what may be going on here: "The Republican Party has decided that Google, Twitter and Facebook are the new targets. And they're using the exact same playbook that they used on the traditional media for four decades, which is you work the refs, you scream and yell over these fake phony allegations of 'liberal media bias'. And it works! Facebook has bent over backwards to make sure Republicans are happy. Twitter could have easily banned Donald Trump two years ago and saved this country an enormous amount of pain, because he obviously violates the rules all the time. So it works."
Finally, we close with some listener mail regarding our ongoing discussions of how Dems should move forward as they attempt to remove both Donald Trump from office next year and the nation itself from the black hole we continue to sink into under his increasingly dark reign...
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READER COMMENTS ON "Black Holes, Bomb Cyclones and Devin Nunes' New Legal Assault on Freedom of the Press: 'BradCast' 4/10/2019" (4 Responses so far...)
COMMENT #1 [Permalink] ...
Donald Pruden, Jr., a/k/a The Enemy Combatant
said on 4/11/2019 @ 10:10 am PT...
Don't you hate it when people greet with exclamation points?!
I think you erred when blaming the Arab voters of Israel who stayed home and did not vote in the recent Israeli election for the outcome of that election. It has to be considered is that the front runners are both anti-Arab racists who both promised to continue to take land from the Palestinians and move them out of the occupied territories to make way for continued settlement construction for Israel's Jewish population. If you were an Arab Israeli voter who would you choose to evict your Mom from her home back on the West Bank?
The headlines on the 4/10/2019 of Democracy Now!references the installation of cameras in the Arab precincts in Israel: "In Israel, as votes continue to be tallied, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to be on the verge of securing a record fifth term in office. Netanyahu and his main challenger, ex-military chief Benny Gantz, both claimed victory in the tight race Tuesday night as the Likud and the newly formed Blue and White party both won 35 seats in the Knesset. Netanyahu, however, has a clearer path to forming a coalition government with other far-right parties. Tuesday's election came just days after Netanyahu vowed to annex illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank if he won. On Election Day, Netanyahu's Likud party placed 1,200 hidden cameras at polling stations in Arab neighborhoods in what was widely viewed as an attempt to intimidate potential voters. Turnout was reportedly lower than usual in the neighborhoods. Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza are not Israeli citizens and cannot vote. Many Palestinians and Arab Israelis argued there was no real choice in this election as both front-running parties have repeatedly expressed anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab views and policies."
Then there is this from 4/11/2019's Ha'aretz: https://www.haaretz.com/...soul-searching-1.7107867. The article makes the case that as for the down-ticket races in the election, the Arab parties vying for seats in the Knesset failed to reach out to voters in an effective way. That thesis seems valid given the reality of Arab lives under Israeli rule. Combine this with the DN! story above and you are stuck with a question: Why would any Arab Israeli citizen waste her vote in such a climate? Hopelessness and despair are rational reactions given the circumstances. Of course, they stayed home. In the US, the chances for a progressive fight-back at the polls are far stronger than they are in Arab Israel. If I were an Arab Israeli I would likely stay home, too. Indeed, I would probably just give up and emigrate to Europe or Canada. (Notice that I did not list the United States as a possible destination - not until you folks elect President Elizabeth Warren).
When you blame the Israeli Arab voter (the Palestinians under Israel's occupation have not voting rights in the nation that rules them) you do so from the privileged perch of an American (as of this writing) citizen and you project the prospects of an improved outcome upon those who have no such privilege. Israel is a lost cause if your issue is justice for the Arab Israeli citizen or for the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. The only real non-violent power that could turn things around is U.S. policy toward that nation. Unless THAT changes, the alternative for those Arabs under any species of Israeli rule will not be found at the Israeli ballot box.
COMMENT #2 [Permalink] ...
said on 4/11/2019 @ 2:06 pm PT...
While I favor that everyone get to vote, even while behind bars, don't the Democrats already have a full plate attempting to deal with the major damage done to the nation by Trump? They bungled the Kavanaugh hearings, they aren't doing well with the Mueller Report, and they are too concerned about ensuring that progressives are purged from the Party. I don't see that there is any time or energy remaining to do anything to help prisoners vote.
I don't think I "blamed" Arab voters who stayed home, per se. Or didn't mean to. I think I did note (just as I did after 2016 here in the US), that those who did not vote helped make things much worse for themselves and everybody else.
I have long called out those blame voters, rather than candidates for failing to give voters something to vote for. That said, I'm also happy to point out the reality of what occurs when people, for whatever reason, choose not to vote, as if not voting somehow makes a statement. It doesn't. But it does help assure you don't get what you want.
Why would any Arab Israeli citizen waste her vote in such a climate?
Well, for one, I think you've mischaracterized the difference between the two parties in question (Likud v. Blue and White). For two, had more of them voted, they would likely have been able to pick up some seats in Parliament and potentially become a part of the Government in coalition with Blue and White, as opposed to the far-right parties who will now be controlling the Government with the already-right Likud party. (Who, as your DN! article above notes, vowed to annex FAR more than the B&W leaders ever have. Likud was also the one to place hidden cameras at the polling stations. B&W did no such thing.)
B&W calls for a two-state solution, to my knowledge. Likud seems no longer interested in that. For all of these reasons (and more), I see every reason that the Arab party voters should have shown up to vote, just as their party leaders were desperately trying to encourage them to do, as I understand it.
Not sure in the least what good you think staying home accomplishes in that case. They have hurt themselves.
As to my "privileged American perch", well, I grant you that. But I view nothing as a "lost cause" beyond those that we deem as such. That seems as fruitless and self-defeating for those who care about justice in Israel as it does for those in the U.S.
You don't have to steal the votes of anyone who gives it away for free.
I think you are largely making the argument that I've been raising this week. Namely, that Dems (and progressives) need to prioritize what matters most right now which, as far as I'm concerned anyway, is the assurance that Donald Trump is removed from office, no later than Election Day 2020.
While I believe the incarcerated should have a vote, as discussed with the ACLU's Phil Aroneanu on Monday's show, I have concerns about anything that will make it more difficult for Dems (or any other viable party) to take back the White House in 2020.
As to the other part of your comment:
They bungled the Kavanaugh hearings, they aren't doing well with the Mueller Report, and they are too concerned about ensuring that progressives are purged from the Party.
How did they bungle the Kavanaugh hearings?
If they are not "doing well with the Mueller Report", I dont see that as their fault (mostly.)
I see know evidence of "the Democrats" "purg[ing]" progressives from the Party. What am I missing? I see things move in quite the opposite direction, frankly (and thankfully!)