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Latest Featured Reports | Saturday, October 25, 2014
Touch-Screens Flip 'No' to 'Yes' on TN Abortion Measure
After the state GOP repealed the law to move to paper ballots, votes now reportedly flipping again on a controversial Amendment to the state Constitution...
More Trouble With Touch-Screens (2014 Edition)
Votes Flip D to R in Texas, R to D in Illinois - What's happening (again), what it means (again), and what you can do about it (please?)...
Christie: GOP Governors Needs to Control 'Voting Mechanisms' in 2016
NJ Governor and 2016 Presidential hopeful offers interesting reason why Republicans in three key states need to win in 2014...
Justice Ginsburg Republishes TX Photo ID Law Dissent After BRAD BLOG Cites Error
Turns out U.S. Veterans' Affairs ID can be used to vote under new GOP voting restrictions in TX. Official SCOTUS opinion updated...
'Mercy', 'Rehabilitation' and 'Restorative Justice'
Sentencing of South Africa's Oscar Pistorius offers stark reminder of concepts that seem to have gone missing from the justice system in the U.S...
'Green News Report' 10/21/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
GOP candidates still dodging climate Qs; Mountaintop removal coal mining promotes lung cancer; 2014 on track as hottest year on record; PLUS: LEGO breaks up with Shell Oil...
Previous GNRs: 10/14/14 - 10/16/14 - Archives...
Everything Old is Texas Again
On the upside though, even if they successfully violate the Constitution by keeping some 600,000 legally registered, disproportionately minority voters from voting this year, they can save some money on signage...
Congresswoman Sets Impeachment Deadline for Federal Judge Mark Fuller
ALSO: Court unseals divorce docs from first marriage, Fuller attorney dismisses abuse allegations as 'rhetorical questions'...
SCOTUS ALLOWS TEXAS' DISCRIMINATORY GOP PHOTO ID LAW TO USED IN MIDTERMS
Despite uncontested findings striking down the law as a racially-motivated, 'unconstitutional poll tax', it will be implemented this year...
'Dead Heat' and 'Dirty Tricks': The Nightmare Scenario
Maddow warns: 'With this many top of ticket races tied, turnout will be everything...Now we watch for the ways that people will try to stop voters from turning out or from having their votes counted, by hook or by crook'...
Judge Fuller's Attorney Says Wife Beating Thing No Big Deal; 911 AUDIO and Gov. Don Siegelman Disagree
Standalone video of 911 call; First comment on case by imprisoned former AL Gov.; MORE...
Emergency Appeals Filed at SCOTUS to Restore Voting Rights to 600,000 in TX
GOP Photo ID law, which lower court found intentionally discriminatory, is different from recent cases before High Court, say plaintiffs...
'Green News Report' 10/16/14
Ryan backs away (sort of) from climate change denial; NatGas isn't a bridge to lower-emissions; PLUS: Did Lockheed-Martin really invent a compact nuclear fusion reactor?...
Bloomberg on BRAD BLOG on Judge Richard Posner on Photo ID Voting Laws...
'By the sounds of it, the floor that supported voter-ID laws has just given way'...
'BradCast': WI, TX, AR Photo ID Rulings
Trouble keeping up with the on-again/off-again court rulings on GOP voter suppression laws? Brad tries to make sense of it all for ya...
WTF?!: FL Gov. Rick Scott Refuses To Appear at Debate With Gov. Charlie Crist
Watch the video. They're calling it 'FanGate'. We're just calling it Florida...
Arkansas Supreme Court Strikes Down State GOP's Photo ID Voting Law
Court determines law, passed over Dem Governor's veto, violates explicit right to vote in state Constitution...
5th Circuit Appeals Panel Restores Texas GOP's 'Discriminatory' Photo ID Law
While not contesting law's unconstitutionality, judges cite SCOTUS rule on last minute voting changes...
'Green News Report' 10/14/14
Coal wins U.S. Senate debate in KY!; Pentagon: climate change threat to NatSec; Wind power cheapest source of energy; PLUS: September 2014 was hottest ever...
Repub Judge Who Approved Nation's 1st Photo ID Law in 2008 Writes Devastating Dissent Against Them
Reagan-appointed Richard Posner pens best case ever against Photo ID voting restrictions...
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
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GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...

By Ernest A. Canning on 2/29/2012 3:35pm PT  

Guest editorial by Ernest A. Canning

Last September's hearings before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights established that polling place photo ID restriction laws have nothing to do with eliminating "voter fraud."

They are, instead, part of what Judith Browne Dianis, a civil rights litigator at The Advancement Project, described at the time as the "largest legislative effort to roll back voting rights since the post-Reconstruction era" --- part of the partisan, multi-state effort by the billionaire Koch brothers-funded, Paul Weyrich co-founded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-fueled GOP exercise in voter suppression. Her testimony established, yet again, that such laws have a disparate impact upon minorities, the poor, the elderly and students (all of whom happen to have the unfortunate tendency of voting Democratic).

Despite the national nature of this coordinated, well-documented and well-funded assault on minority voting rights, so far the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) has confined its legal response to such newly-enacted laws to only the small number of "covered" jurisdictions, for example, South Carolina, that are subject to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). That section of the law requires federal preclearance for new election-related laws in those "covered" jurisdictions, since they each have demonstrated a long history of racial discrimination.

The narrow action taken by the DoJ to date, as based only on Section 5 of the VRA, could all change if they took the time to study the content of the new complaint, Jones v. Deininger [PDF], as filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. The complaint alleges that Wisconsin's new polling place photo ID law ("Act 23") "is a voter suppression law that burdens African-American and Latino voters most heavily [which]...results in them having 'less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice,' and, thereby, constitutes a denial and abridgment of their right to vote in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act."

The complaint in Jones, which was signed by attorney Charles T. Curtis, Jr. of Arnold & Porter, LLP, seeks to enjoin the implementation of Wisconsin's Act 23 and a declaration that it violates Section 2 of the VRA. When asked whether he contemplates seeking a preliminary injunction on the new law prior to the next election, Curtis was only able to tell The BRAD BLOG at this time that they "want to move the case as quickly as the Court will allow, and plan to request a pretrial conference to discuss motion and briefing schedules."

The additional question remains, however, will the U.S. DoJ defend federal law by opting to join this lawsuit as a plaintiff?...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Ernest A. Canning on 2/28/2012 3:24pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

We recently detailed how legal documents reveal that prosecutors in Wisconsin are painstakingly examining evidence that may well place Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) at the center of a criminal conspiracy to illegally utilize employees within the Milwaukee County Executive Office to engage in fundraising and campaign activities. We observed that a recall may therefore be the least of Walker's worries.

The relationship between Walker's potential criminal liability and his recall vulnerability has not gone unnoticed by the WI Democratic Party. Asserting that Walker "has given a blizzard of contradictory statements about what he knew and when he knew it," WI Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate released an ad which refers to the pending criminal scandal as "Walkergate" (see video below) and draws an analogy to Richard Nixon's role in Watergate.

Simultaneously, the embattled governor on Monday abandoned his effort to challenge the more than one million signatures submitted on the Recall Walker petition...

Recall Walker ad comparing Scott Walker to Richard Nixon follows...

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Computer expert: 'Secure Internet Voting' is a bit like the phrase 'safe cigarettes'...
By Ernest A. Canning on 2/21/2012 8:56am PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Brad Friedman has often compared the task of Election Integrity (EI) advocates to a game of Whac-A-Mole. One moment they expose an "it's the machines transparency, stupid" moment when the 100% unverifiable ES&S iVotronic touchscreens announced that the unemployed and virtually unknown Alvin Greene had somehow defeated the respected circuit judge and former state legislator Vic Rawl in the 2010 South Carolina Senate Democratic Primary. The next moment we learned that DC officials had planned a live experiment to use "an untested and unverifiable Internet Voting scheme on real voters, in a real election…" --- an experiment that Friedman described as "insane."

More than 16 months after that disastrous experiment came to a crashing halt following a spectacular hack, as initially reported by The BRAD BLOG, the PBS News Hour produced a short documentary, Internet Voting: Will Democracy or Hackers Win? (see video below), which touched upon the D.C. Internet Voting Hack.

The now-legendary hack was carried out by a team of white-hat hackers, led by Univ. of MI Computer Science Prof. J. Alex Halderman. Within hours after D.C.'s 2010 Internet Voting scheme was opened to the world for a hack test (just days before it was scheduled to go live for the real thing), Halderman and his team of U. of M. students found and exploited a vulnerability which gave his group almost total control of the server software, allowing them to rewrite every single ballot and even take over command of the security cameras inside the D.C. server room. Team Halderman not only acquired the ability to change votes and install the Univ. of MI fight song to be played at the end of every vote cast, but discovered and thwarted an intrusion attempt by Chinese and Iranian computers.

Disturbingly, the new PBS documentary also reveals that, despite the spectacular failure and warnings from virtually every computer science and security expert, election and Pentagon officials are still pressing forward with what MIT Prof. of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Ronald L. Rivest describes, as seen in the short PBS report, as an "oxytopian" solution. "'Secure Internet voting,'" Rivest charges, "is a bit like the phrase 'safe cigarettes'"...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Recall may prove to be least of his worries...
By Ernest A. Canning on 2/13/2012 4:14pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

A recall from his position as Wisconsin's governor could ultimately be the least of Gov. Scott Walker's worry, if a criminal complaint quietly moving forward in the Badger State court system continues on its current trajectory. At the moment, Walker seems to be at the bottom of a mountain where an avalanche is just beginning to roll.

A 51-page criminal complaint [PDF] (the "Rindfleisch complaint"), which formally charges Kelly M. Rindfleisch with four felony counts of misconduct in public office, contains factual allegations which implicate a number of individuals, listed as "interested parties," including WI's controversial Republican Governor, in a wide-reaching criminal conspiracy to misuse public employees and resources for partisan political gain.

The Rindfleish complaint was filed in the Milwaukee County Circuit Court on Jan. 26, 2012 by Milwaukee County District Attorney John T. Chisholm. It's the product of an ongoing criminal investigation (the "John Doe" investigation) of the Milwaukee County Executive Office during Walker's tenure as County Executive there. The complaint specifically involves the period during which Tim Russell and then Rindfleish served as Walker's Deputy Chiefs of Staff.

The recent news in the Milwaukee County case coincides with a separate set of court rulings in the battle over the attempt by opponents of Walker to see him recalled via the ballot box. In that matter, an appellate court recently reversed Republican Waukesha Circuit Judge J. Mac Davis' decision to deny the Recall proponent's motion to intervene in a case brought by "Friends of Scott Walker" designed to obstruct the scheduling of Walker's Recall. The appellate ruling directed Davis to vacate his controversial decision which had shifted the statutory burden for challenging the validity of the Walker Recall petition signatures from Walker himself --- as had been the process for years --- to the state's Government Accountability Board.

While that appellate ruling may serve to help expedite Walker's potential removal from office via the ballot box, a recall could ultimate prove to be less of a concern to the embattled, right-wing governor than the criminal case steadily moving forward in Milwaukee.

The factual body of the Rindfleisch complaint suggests that prosecutors are painstakingly examining evidence that may well place Walker at the center of a criminal conspiracy to illegally utilize employees within the Milwaukee County Executive Office to engage in fundraising and campaign activities on behalf of the Friends of Scott Walker and others during office hours at the expense of Milwaukee taxpayers.

Each violation of the relevant WI criminal statutes at issue in the matter carries with it a potential imprisonment of up to 3.5 years. As that case moves forward apace, Walker could lose a great deal more than simply his hold on the governor's office. His very freedom may prove to be at stake as well...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Also, a quick moment to revisit 'Was Prop 8 Straight'?...
By Ernest A. Canning on 2/9/2012 9:35am PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

On Tuesday, a divided three judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that California's Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage --- a right that had otherwise previously existed for same sex couples in the state --- violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The majority opinion in Perry vs. Brown [PDF] this week decided an issue that was so narrow and so tightly crafted to meet the criteria of a 1996 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Romer v. Evans, that it minimized the chances that the U.S. Supreme Court will decide to hear the case, let alone reverse the decision.

As we examine the future course of the Prop 8 litigation, it's appropriate, if only briefly --- while this particular issue remains far away in the rear view mirror --- to offer a reminder of the still unresolved question as to whether CA voters actually approved the controversial measure at the ballot box in the first place...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 1/29/2012 3:40pm PT  

Guest editorial by Ernest A. Canning

The title of historian Kevin Phillips' otherwise excellent work, Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich, is somewhat misleading. With the exception of constitutional monarchies, which preclude royalty from all but figurehead status, democracy and the concentration of great wealth cannot co-exist in the same society.

If citizens can see past the corporate media-erected contest of personalities so as to examine how it reflects the undemocratic structure of our society, the 2012 Presidential election can provide us with a teachable moment of great value. This is true whether we examine the flood of SuperPAC monies, courtesy of the now infamous Citizens United decision, the striking similarities in their methodology of wealth acquisition depicted both in the 1987 movie Wall Street through its fictional Gordon Gekko and in real life by Bain Capital and Mitt Romney, the ridiculously low 13.9% federal taxes on Romney's $21.7 million income in 2010, his extensive Goldman Sachs holdings and as much as $32 million maintained in off-shore accounts, or the fact that only one, essentially marginalized Presidential candidate in either of the two major political parties --- Ron Paul --- is willing to discuss an end to perpetual war and our global military presence.

Here, Mitt "Gordon Gekko" Romney provides the principle focus, not because of personality, or "envy", but because his candidacy affords an opportunity to explore the inconsistency between wealth and democracy...

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Activist right-wing judge threatens to thwart democracy by legislating from the bench in favor of Walker...
By Ernest A. Canning on 1/18/2012 1:13pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Fed up with the hard-right's oligarchic, union busting agenda, on Tuesday, opponents of Wisconsin's Gov. Scott Walker (R) delivered a Recall petition to the state's Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.) containing more than one million signatures --- approximately 459,792 more than the 540,208 valid signatures required to trigger a statewide gubernatorial recall under WI law.

Those one million signatures are about to run into an attempted roadblock, however, courtesy of two questionable rulings by Republican Waukesha Circuit Judge J. Mac Davis in the Friends of Scott Walker vs. Brennan case.

The Judge's first questionable ruling was to deny the state Democratic Party's motion to intervene as defendants in the case. The second ruling, issued orally, also found in favor of the GOP, aspiring to force a significant delay in the process of validating signatures (and, therefore, the recall election itself) by shifting the statutory burden for challenging the validity of signatures from Walker to the G.A.B. That second ruling is in direct contradiction to decades of recall history in the Badger State and upends existing law --- a law that went unchallenged by Republicans previously, and worked rather well, even as recently as last year's recall elections of 6 GOP state Senators and 3 from the Democratic Party.

Both rulings, currently the subject of an appellate challenge by the Democrats, may border upon judicial misconduct by a partisan jurist with disturbing ties to a previous statewide scandal...

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83% of whites approved November's ballot initiative, 75% of non-whites voted against...
By Ernest A. Canning on 1/13/2012 1:48pm PT  

Guest editorial by Ernest A. Canning

I am old enough to remember not only the civil rights movement but that, amongst all the Southern Jim Crow states, Mississippi had absolutely the worst reputation. It was the state where, in 1955, Emmett Till, a 14-year old African-American from Chicago was lynched, burned and so badly mutilated his own mother couldn't recognize his corpse --- all because he whistled at a white woman (we'll spare you the horrific photo, but it's available here if you'd like to see it); where, in 1963, the NAACP's Medgar Evers was gunned down outside his home; where, in 1964, three civil rights workers attempting to register voters were lynched.

I have no doubt that the 83% of MS whites who, this past November, as we now learn in a new analysis, voted in favor of a state constitutional amendment that would mandate polling place photo ID restrictions as a prerequisite to voting --- as compared to more than 75% of non-whites who voted against polling place photo ID --- would vehemently deny their vote was racially motivated. They would do so even though African-Americans are more than three times more likely to lack photo IDs than whites and even though study-after-study has exposed the lie in the GOP's baseless claims that such laws are needed to prevent "voter fraud."

But I am also relatively certain that race played a role in the inability of so many of the children and grandchildren of formerly Jim Crow Mississippi to appreciate what it is that photo ID truly seeks to accomplish...

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The progressive candidate legally filed his delegates; the President, reportedly, did not...
By Ernest A. Canning on 1/9/2012 4:33pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Did you know that Democrats will have a progressive alternative to President Barack Obama on the ballot in New Hampshire tomorrow? We're guessing you didn't.

Moreover, how ironic is it that Darcy G. Richardson, the only progressive Democrat with the courage to challenge the incumbent Democratic President in tomorrow's "First-in-the-Nation" primary, at one time managed the 1988 Presidential campaign of the late Sen. Eugene J. McCarthy? It was McCarthy's receipt of 42% of the vote in the 1968 NH Democratic primary which led to the announcement by President Lyndon B. Johnson that he would neither seek nor accept the nomination of the Democratic Party for President.

How predictable is it, given the utter failure of the corporate owned media to fulfill its constitutionally envisioned function of insuring an informed electorate, that so few Americans are so much as aware of the fact that President Obama is not running "unopposed" in tomorrow's 2012 NH Democratic Primary?

Finally, what impact, if any, will there be for the fact that President Obama reportedly failed to timely submit a slate of national convention delegates to the NH Secretary of State as mandated by the NH Elections Code?...

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Former LA Governor's powerful indictment of unrestricted corporate money in politics shut out of national debate...
By Ernest A. Canning on 1/8/2012 1:06pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

In the latest tracking poll released out of New Hampshire, the Suffolk University/7 NEWS poll [PDF], TX Governor Rick Perry receives 1% support from 500 likely voters in the Granite State. Former LA Governor and four-term U.S. Congressman Buddy Roemer also received 1%. In fact, Roemer received approval from a higher number of respondents (6) than Perry did (4). And yet, Perry was allowed to participate in both last night's GOP Presidential debate in NH as televised on ABC, as well as this morning's on NBC. Roemer was not allowed to participate in either of them.

In fact, out of some 16 GOP Presidential debates to date, Roemer has not been allowed to participate in a single one of them.

The exclusion of Roemer from every single Republican Presidential Debate provides but the latest example of how the corporate-owned media limits the ability of the American people to elect --- or even hear from --- individuals who challenge oligarchic corporate control of our ostensibly democratic institutions.

A candidate like Roemer, who has embraced Occupy Wall Street and spoken (and Tweeted) powerfully and openly and passionately and continuously against the corrupting influence of corporate money on our democratic institutions, poses a direct threat to the corporate media bottom line --- a corporate media which is looking forward to approximately $3 billion in political ad revenues in 2012, courtesy of Citizens United --- the U.S. Supreme Court's infamous 2010 decision which has flung the door wide open to the corrupting influence of unlimited anonymous corporate campaign expenditures.

Whether it entails ending coverage of the Rose Parade before thousands of Occupy demonstrators, their signs and floats could be seen or limiting the scope of discourse in both Presidential Debates and the selection of the nominee in general, exclusion provides a powerful means by which the corporate media maintains the status quo...

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Majority AND dissent unleash blistering critique of infamous SCOTUS decision, 'offensive' concept of 'corporate personhood'...
By Ernest A. Canning on 1/5/2012 4:37pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

This week, the Montana Supreme Court stood up to the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, rejecting the much-criticized 2010 federal decision by declaring that, in their state at least, a century-old prohibition on corporate money in local politics will be allowed to stand.

By way of a 5-2 decision in Western Tradition Partnership, Inc. vs. Attorney General of Montana [PDF], the state's high court upheld the constitutionality of the long-standing Corrupt Practices Act of 1912, which prevents direct contributions by corporations to candidates or political committees. The law does not, however, prohibit voluntary individual contributions to separate segregated funds created by shareholders, employees or members of a corporation.

The state law also mandates disclosure of who pays for political communications, while the 2010 Citizens United ruling allows for unlimited secret money to flood into campaigns, for use either for or against any particular candidate.

The majority opinion in the Montana case, written by Chief Justice Mike McGrath, sought to distinguish their state law from Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission [PDF] by pointing to factors in the state --- its dependence upon agriculture and extractive resource development, as well as its sparse population and history of low campaign expenditures --- which, he claimed, make the state "especially vulnerable to...corporate control to the detriment of democracy".

Even one of the dissenters in the MT decision, Justice James C. Nelson, while making clear that he believes the SCOTUS decision likely takes legal precedent over their own state law, offered a blistering critique to the very underpinnings of Citizens United --- a case we previously predicted "will live in infamy" --- by taking direct aim at the absurd concept of "corporate personhood" in his dissenting opinion...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 12/29/2011 11:28am PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Buried at p. AA3 of the 12/28 LAEXTRA section of Los Angeles Times, beneath the headline, "Occupy protest plan prompts beefed up Rose Parade Security" ("Rose Parade security beefed up as Occupy plans protest" in the online version) one can find news of a significant accord. But you have to read closely.

The Pasadena Police Department and Tournament of Roses officials have agreed to furnish the Occupy Movement with a slot at the end of the parade, according to Los Angeles Times, which adds:

Protesters intend to march with large banners that decry wealth inequality in the United States and to unveil a few colorful "floats" of their own, including a giant people-powered octopus, said Pete Thottam, an Occupy spokesman.

The octopus --- to be made out of recycled bags and stretching 40 feet from tentacle to tentacle --- is designed to represent the stranglehold that Wall Street has on the political process, he said.

Planned speakers include Cindy Sheehan, an antiwar activist who lost her son in the Iraq war; local Occupy activists; and possibly...Michael Moore.

The question now is whether the corporate-owned media will include the Occupy portion of the parade in its televised coverage or cut away to commercials at that point. We'll be watching to find out.

* * *

UPDATE 1/2/12: Well, we now have our answer as to whether the corporate TV media covered the huge Occupy turnout at the parade. Your answer is now here...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 12/27/2011 11:51am PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

The Dec. 26 Los Angeles Times article, written by Jim Puzzanghera and published as supposed front-page "news," typifies the type of corporate media hatchet job that has been the hallmark of corporate media deception and the source of what Prof. Noam Chomsky referred to in Failed States as the "democracy deficit" --- the significant gap between the substantive policy positions of the U.S. electorate and their elected "leaders."

Where Chomsky attributes the "democracy deficit" to the manner in which U.S. "elections are skillfully managed to avoid issues and marginalize the underlying population, freeing the elected leadership to serve the substantial people," the Puzzanghera/Times article, which seeks to marginalize Occupy Wall Street (OWS) and to obfuscate the clarity of message emerging from a candidate like Elizabeth Warren, provides a perfect example of how the corporate media aspire to manage public perceptions in their day-to-day "news" reporting as a means to preserve oligarchic control of our decaying political and economic systems.

In his Times piece, Puzzanghera manages to marginalize an entire popular uprising by misleadingly quoting from selected poll numbers, relying on the one-side-says-one-thing, but-the-other-side-says-another stenography posing as journalism, and by quoting from "experts" without bothering to offer their biased background. The Times article amounts to yet another example of how a dissembling corporate media passes off pro-corporate propaganda as "news"...

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Oligarchic perversion of our legal system continues apace...
By Ernest A. Canning on 12/18/2011 7:49am PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

In light of GOP Presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich's recently revitalized attacks on the judiciary as, apparently, not yet extreme or activist enough for his tastes --- though he finds, like most of the other GOP candidates, Justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito to be "pretty darn good" --- it's worth taking note of just some of the recent behavior, judicial temperament and fundamental principles of those far-Right extremist Supreme Court Justices he apparently does approve of.

To that end, the opening paragraph of a Nov. 14 Los Angeles Times article was disturbing but not surprising:

The day the Supreme Court gathered behind closed doors to consider the politically divisive question of whether it would hear a challenge to President Obama’s healthcare law, two of its justices, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, were feted at a dinner sponsored by the law firm that will argue the case before the high court.

While basic canons of judicial ethics suggest that judges should avoid even the appearance of impropriety, it remains exceedingly doubtful that the gathering of signatures on a Credo Action Petition will prompt either of these two "radicals in robes" to recuse themselves...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 12/15/2011 6:29am PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Election laws in Wisconsin are not covered by Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act, which would otherwise require the Dept. of Justice or a federal panel of judges to "preclear" such laws to assure they are not discriminatory. Thus, it falls to non-governmental organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), to take legal action in hopes of protecting Constitutional voting rights for citizens of the Badger State.

That's exactly what the organization did this week, in filing a 54-page federal complaint on behalf of some 17 named plaintiffs --- including elderly, student, minority and even veteran voters --- who may well be unable to cast their once-legal vote under the state's new voter suppression bill passed earlier this year by its GOP legislature and signed into law by its Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

The lead plaintiff in Frank vs. Walker [PDF], the ACLU's class action lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District, seeking to halt enforcement of the state's new photo ID voting restrictions, is 84-year old Ruthelle Frank.

As we previously reported, Frank has been a lawful resident of Brokaw, WI since her home birth in 1927. Although she has voted in every election since 1948 and is an elected member of the Brokaw Village Board, she learned that she may be barred from voting come February 2012 because she lacks one of the official photo IDs mandated by that state's new vote-suppressing photo ID law.

She was born at home, without a birth certificate, and will be forced to pay $20 to get one in order to get her supposedly "free" ID to vote. But even that may not be enough. Frank recently learned she may not be able to comply with the state GOP's Photo ID restriction unless she coughs up upwards of $200 to amend the Register of Deeds record of her home, which had misspelled her maiden name.

The feisty octogenarian, however, was not about to quietly accept this assault on a right she had exercised without interference for the past 63 years (see a video interview with her below), and so she agreed to lead the ACLU suit.

The ACLU complaint, however, may serve to be larger than just the 17 voters (and thousands of others included as part of 6 different classes) in the state of Wisconsin. If it succeeds, the lawsuit could have national implications that would go well beyond the question of who gets to vote in Wisconsin in the 2012 Presidential election. The case could serve to reverse the bevy of voter-suppression laws being enacted by Republicans in state after state in the wake of their take-over of statehouses across the nation in November of 2010...

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