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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, November 23, 2014
GOP House Intel Committee Findings Debunk GOP BENGHAZI! 'Scandal'
Final report released quietly before holiday weekend and before eighth Republican BENGHAZI! committee set to convene...
Monster Energy Drink Not Just Crappy, Also the Work of Satan!
The indisputable video proof is now here!...
'Green News Report' 11/20/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Record-breaking storm breaks Buffalo; October 2014 hottest October on record; Sorry, Repubs: China to cap coal use by 2020; PLUS: Obama doubles down on climate foreign policy...
Previous GNRs: 11/18/14 - 11/13/14 - Archives...
Extreme Weather? What Extreme Weather?
Yes, scientists have been warning us about this for years. And, yes, the record breaking storm in Buffalo is tied to global warming...
We're #26! Harvard 'Electoral Integrity' Report Dings U.S.
'World's Greatest Democracy' rated worst among Western nations; Ranked just below Micronesia, just above Mexico in overall list...
Gag Order Won't Ensure Impartial Jury in Trial of 'Dark Lord of Coal Country'
WV's criminally indicted coal boss and U.S. Chamber of Comm. director Don Blankeship presents challenge for federal prosecutors...
Oxford English Dictionary's 2014 Word of the Year: 'Vape'
That small point likely underscores some very encouraging news for the health of the world...
'Green News Report' 11/18/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
US Senate fails to approve Keystone XL; Can Congress override the Prez next year?; Native Americans: KXL is 'an act of war'; PLUS: Accountability for 'The Dark Lord of Coal'...
Previous GNRs: 11/13/14 - 11/11/14 - Archives...
Sanders on Colbert: Midterms a Vote Against Both Parties
For those mad at us for asserting 'not voting IS a vote', look who just said the same thing...
Exclusive: St. Louis County Was Warned Before Election Paper Ballots Would Run Out
Email obtained by BRAD BLOG reveals County's top election official ignored warnings from election experts, leading to shortages...
Not Voting IS a Vote
Stop blaming those who didn't turn out. Americans did vote. By not turning out, they voted against the two major parties and against the system as a whole. It may have been a dumb vote, but it was a landslide...
Stephen Colbert is Really REALLY Funny
This segment makes clear once again that it's very very sad The Colbert Report is soon going away...
'Green News Report' 11/13/14
Historic US-China agreement that GOP said couldn't be done; New hope for int'l treaty; Repub freak out; Scientists say deal not enough, but good start...
Crucial Moment for FCC & 'Net Neutrality'
Will the Democratic majority commissioners support the President's clarion call and thwart GOP opposition to an open Internet?...
Brad on Hartmann TV: Election 2014 Mess
On thousands of 'missing' votes in Wisconsin, on Nate Silver and polls vs. 'results', on Rightwing 'True the Vote' voter fraud fraudsters, and on much more...
'Green News Report' 11/11/14
'Science has spoken': Final UN report - bad, good & room for hope; PLUS: Margaret Thatcher's historic climate change speech - when conservatives accepted science ...
IN MEMORIAM: Tomas Young, 1979-2014
On Veterans Day, America added another casualty from the War on Iraq -- one who, after first meeting and interviewing him in 2005, we will never forget...
Early Data Suggests TX GOP Photo ID Restrictions 'Worked'
Provisional ballots doubled, turnout down by more 1/4 million votes, despite larger population, contested gov's race and increased voter registration...
WI Scanner Fails To Tally Thousands of Votes in 'Citizens United' Referendum
'Programming error' blamed for paper ballot tabulator recording just 16 of 5,350 votes in city of Stoughton, WI...
The Results Were Skewed Toward Republicans: A Response to Nate Silver
The statistics guru unhelpfully explains away mid-term's surprising outcome by presuming pre-election polling was wrong and unverified election results were all correct...
'True the Vote' Group Fails to Find 'Voter Fraud' (Again)
Laughingstock RW org's 'army' of monitors and smart phone app uncover just 18 benign 'irregularities', 0 cases of polling place impersonation...
'Green News Report' 11/6/14
Election 2014-pocalypse: Republican hegemonic hellscape!; Climate deniers now in charge; PLUS: At least one note of very good environmental election news...
About Last Night: KPFK 'BradCast'
Guest Matthew Segal of OurTime.org joins Brad to discuss whether young voters are to blame for Tuesday's election results and, if not them, then who...or what...
Reuters: Voting Probs Around Nation, 2,000 Missing Election Judges in Chicago
Wire service summarizes machine probs, Photo ID vote suppression and a really strange story out of Chicago...
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...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
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 10/23/2013 6:05am PT  

After what he describes as the Republican Party's victory of "pettiness and bigotry" over "pragmatism and principle", Bexar, Texas County Criminal Court Judge Carlo Key has decided to leave the GOP to run next year as a Democrat instead.

In a video posted to his website, Key, who was first elected in 2010, echoed and reversed Ronald Reagan's explanation for leaving the Democratic Party to become a Republican in 1962. "Make no mistake," Key says, "I have not left the Republican Party. It left me."

"I cannot tolerate a political party that demeans Texans based on their sexual orientation, the color of their skin or their economic status," Key explains in detailing some of his reasons for the party switch. "I will not be a member of a Party in which hate speech elevates candidates for higher office rather than disqualifying them. I cannot place my name on the ballot for a political party that is proud to destroy the lives of hundreds of thousands of federal workers over the vain attempt to repeal a law that would provide health care to millions of people throughout our country"...

Key's brief video, along with a text transcript of his remarks, follow below...

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

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By Ernest A. Canning on 10/18/2013 5:04pm PT  

With the 81 - 18 vote in the U.S. Senate and 285 - 144 tally in the U.S. House, Congress averted a worldwide economic disaster this week by finally voting to end the 16-day, 'Tea-Party' manufactured shutdown and debt ceiling crises.

As CNN noted, shortly after President Barack Obama signed the measure into law, Congress has furnished only a "temporary bandage," which leaves the draconian "sequester" cuts in place, authorizes government spending at current levels through Jan. 15, 2014 and postpones the same threat of a default on the nation's financial obligations until Feb. 7, 2014.

Meanwhile, radical 'Tea Party' Republicans, like Rep. Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina, insisted "this was worth having the fight," even as they were conceding absolute defeat.

Worth it? Well, not to actual fiscal conservatives, according to the numbers...

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

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WWII vets shake their heads in dismay...
By Ernest A. Canning on 10/10/2013 9:04pm PT  

Extremist 'Tea Party' Republicans like to pretend they are patriots --- so much so that when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) complained this week that the government shutdown he helped engineer had forced the elimination of Veteran's Administration healthcare services, he belatedly discovered that he had painted himself into an impossible corner.

Well, he didn't discover it on his own. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) helped him to notice that he was ardently advocating on the Senate floor for the Veteran's Administration health care system, which, unlike "ObamaCare", is an actual government run healthcare system of the type that Cruz pretends to abhor so much he was willing to lead his party to shutting down the entire government to block it.

"I just wanted to be clear," Stabenow asked Cruz during his floor speech advocating re-opening the VA as part of the GOP's desperate effort to re-open only those parts of government they approve, "Because the Senator from Texas has, in fact, made the ending of a private sector, competitive health care system for up to 30 million Americans part of what he wants to stop. I just wanted to be clear that the fully government-funded, government-run --- with government doctors --- system through the Veteran's Administration system is something that you are advocating we continue to fund through the federal government?"

Cruz couldn't say much more in response than: "The answer is yes. I believe we should fully fund the VA." (Full video here.)

Unlike "Obamacare", a private health insurance operation merely overseen by the government, the VA healthcare system that Cruz was advocating for, actually is a full-blown, government-run healthcare system. Or, as the heroic Republicans now like to deride it: A government takeover of healthcare!

Actual heroes, on the other hand, like Redge Ranyard, who fought against Nazis during World War II, are less than impressed by the claims made by Republicans like Cruz and House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) that they are locked in an "epic battle" to save the nation...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 10/10/2013 11:03am PT  

Speaking on the floor of the U.S. Senate last week, on the third day of the federal government shutdown, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) excoriated Republicans in the House of Representatives as "extremists" and "anarchists", while offering an impassioned case for why "government matters."

[See video and transcript below.]

"When I hear the latest tirades from some of the extremists in the House, I am struck by how vague these complaints are," she said. "The anarchy gang is quick to malign government, but when was the last time anyone called for regulators to go easier on companies that put lead in children’s toys, or for food inspectors to stop checking whether the meat in our grocery stores is crawling with deadly bacteria, or for the FDA to ignore whether morning sickness drugs will cause deformities in little babies?"

She went on to argue that the American system of governance, though far from infallible, can carry out the will of the people who are positioned to correct it and make it better. "Our democracy is an experiment, and it’s always evolving. We constantly redesign and re-imagine and improve on what we do together."

"You can do your best to make government look like it doesn’t work when you stop it from working. You can do your best to make government look paralyzed when you paralyze it. You can do your best to make government look incompetent through your incompetence, and ineffective through your ineffectiveness. But sooner or later, the government will reopen. Because this is a democracy, and this democracy has already rejected your views," she said, before concluding with a message of optimism.

"Today," Warren said, "a political minority in the House that condemns government and begs for this shutdown has had its day. But like all the reckless and extremist factions that have come before it, their day will pass, and our democracy will return to the important work that we have already determined to do together."

* * *

Here's a video of the key section of Sen. Elizabeth Warren's powerful 10/3/2013 remarks on the U.S. Senate floor, (a longer version can be viewed here) followed by a text transcript...

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Another 'Fair and Balanced' failure of the U.S. corporate media...
By Ernest A. Canning on 10/4/2013 1:49pm PT  

As the government shutdown began, the corporate U.S. media played its usual unhelpful role by not taking sides in what was clearly a one-sided argument.

"In shutdown blame game, Democrats and Republicans united: It's the other side's fault," declared Washington Post's headline. "Shutdown: Obama and Republicans Trade Blame as Deadline is Crossed," TIME unhelpfully noted, sounding much like the pretend news outlet Fox "News", which declared similarly "Partial shutdown begins: Can Congress, White House compromise?"

Never mind that Democrats had already compromised by agreeing to "Sequestration" level budget cuts, the only question was how would the two sides "compromise" on the Affordable Care Act which had nothing to do with the budget resolution itself, but has long been a bete noir for Republicans.

Meanwhile, the non-U.S. news outlet, The Guardian in the UK, accurately reported that the U.S. government shutdown occurred because Democrats refused to give into the Tea Party's extortion-like demands. Specifically, they wrote, it occurred after "Republicans staged a series of last-ditch efforts to use a once-routine budget procedure to force Democrats to abandon their efforts to extend U.S. health insurance."

Was that so hard? Apparently so, for the U.S. corporate media anyway...

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

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By Ernest A. Canning on 9/30/2013 2:11pm PT  

As the latest round(s) of GOP hostage taking play out in Congress, it's worth stepping back a moment to take note of what is at the heart of their ploy-slash-temper tantrum-slash-effort to undermine the very essence of American democracy.

It's also worth taking note of the fact that it's unlikely, ultimately, to work and, if we can take any lessons from what has happened here in California, is very likely to redound, big time, against the Republicans and their "contempt for the democratic process," as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) described it Friday, now on display in the nation's capitol.

"This whole debate over Obamacare is just a small part of what this right wing agenda is all about," Sanders observed during an appearance on MSNBC, as he described the twin threats of a government shutdown and defaulting on our financial obligations in the debt ceiling fight a few weeks from now, as but a part of "a right wing extremist agenda funded by people like the Koch brothers…who put hundreds of millions of dollars into the 'Tea Party.'"

Sanders' observation is vital to a comprehensive understanding as to why the very survival of our representative form of democracy may hinge upon a refusal to cave into a tactic that the Senator describes as "blackmail". Indeed, the New York Times describes the latest GOP tactics as the equivalent of a "ransom note" filled with "extortionist demands". President Obama, who once made the mistake of negotiating with Republicans on such terms, now aptly described the GOP threats, in a speech to The Business Roundtable, as a form of extortion.

Sanders noted that it's as if the Republicans now say: "Elections don't matter! We can shut down the government at any time to get our way!"

And, he's right. That's the plan. But it's not likely to get them what they want. More encouragingly, it's very likely to backfire on them completely...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 9/24/2013 11:34am PT  

Yesterday, as the GOP's latest Kabuki theater threat to shut down the government unless "ObamaCare" is defunded continued apace, investigative journalist Kurt Eichnwald tweeted: "How did the GOP persuade so many otherwise rational ppl that a system of private industry competition is government run healthcare?"

He then attempted to answer his own question in a second tweet: "How? How did the GOP do it? With endless streams of lies, dragged out 2 the gullible, from ppl fearful others will learn govnt can help ppl."

True. But the problem is both much worse and far more remarkable than that.

"You have probably heard that the reason people enjoy 'free healthcare' in Australia, in the U.K. and elsewhere is that they pay higher taxes," New York Times' best selling author and video blogger John Green proclaimed, as he openly acknowledged his effort to capture attention with "mind-blowing" facts.

"But, in fact, in the United States we spend more tax money, per capita, on healthcare than Germany, Australia, the United Kingdom or Canada," he explained. "That's right, you pay more in taxes for healthcare than you would if you were British. And in exchange for those taxes, you get...no healthcare."

(Green's "mind-blowing" facts tactic appears to have worked. The video, embedded in full below, has been viewed nearly 3.5 million times since it was published on YouTube last month.)

Green underscored his rant about the outrageous per capita price for health care in the U.S. with an on-screen chart detailing how both public and private per capita healthcare expenditures in the U.S., in 2007, far exceeded such expenditures in those other countries...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 9/16/2013 12:58pm PT  

Today, President Obama offered an address to mark the fifth anniversary of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and the beginning of the 2008 collapse of the Wall Street casino or, as the President described it, "the worst economic crisis of our lifetimes." (He also spoke briefly, at the top of his remarks, on our latest mass shooting rampage which took place at the Washington D.C. Navy Yard this morning, reportedly resulting, in the deaths of at least 12 people at the military installation.)

"It was five years ago, this week, that the financial crisis rocked Wall Street, and sent an economy already into recession, into a tail spin," Obama reminded us. "And it's hard sometimes to remember everything that happened during those --- those months, but in a matter of a frightening few days and weeks, some of the largest investment banks in the world failed, stock markets plunged, banks stopped lending to families and small businesses, our auto industry --- the heartbeat of American manufacturing --- was flat-lining."

The President went on to tout the reforms and the recovery that have taken place since that time, arguing that "we’ve cleared away the rubble from the financial crisis and we’ve begun to lay a new foundation for economic growth and prosperity," while conceding "we are not yet where we need to be."

"Most of the gains have gone to the top one-tenth of 1 percent," Obama correctly noted. "So, in many ways, the trends that have taken hold over the past few decades of a winner-take-all economy, where a few do better and better and better, while everybody else just treads water or loses ground, those trends have been made worse by the recession."

Over the weekend, the 40-year old advocacy group, Public Citizen, marked the same occasion of the fifth anniversary of the 2008 crash with an email blast highlighting a few numbers the President did not highlight in his remarks today, including a few jarring stats that remind us how and why, despite the modest recovery and incredibly tepid reforms of the past five years, the "too big to fail" foxes still remain firmly in charge of America's economic hen house...

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Allegations underscore need for Congressional investigation, grants of immunity, BEFORE authorization for use of military force...
By Ernest A. Canning on 9/11/2013 11:58am PT  

On the day after Secretary of State Colin Powell's infamous Feb. 5, 2003 U.N. presentation of inaccurate information concerning Iraqi WMD and alleged ties between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, a group of high-ranking, former intelligence agency veterans and whistleblowers calling themselves Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), published their very first "VIPS Memo" to George W. Bush.

In their February 5, 2003 memo [PDF], the former intelligence professionals warned of the politicization of intelligence used by the Administration in their case for war, and cautioned against rushing into military action. They were, of course, ignored by Bush at the time.

A full decade, trillions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands of dead bodies later, here we are again, as a President of the United States continues his call for U.S. involvement in yet another military excursion in the Middle East based on a "just trust us" public assessment of purported classified evidence.

Repeating the course they took in hopes of warning Bush after Powell's UN presentation, last week VIPS published another warning in the form of a memo to President Barack Obama, warning that his advisers may not be keeping him fully informed and asserting, among other things, "the most reliable intelligence shows that Bashar al-Assad was NOT responsible for the chemical incident that killed and injured Syrian civilians on August 21."

While the VIPS memo presents a disturbing alleged scenario detailing claims that U.S. allies and intelligence officials had advanced knowledge of the August 21 chemical attack, like the White House claims, the VIPS scenario offers little more than serious, if unproven allegations unless and until they are substantiated, or refuted, by hard evidence or, preferably, a Congressional investigation including full immunity for the sources cited by the former intelligence veterans...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 9/4/2013 6:05am PT  

With Brad Friedman

Greg Abbott, the Lone Star State's Attorney General, made a fool out of himself recently when he issued his public response to a U.S. Dept. of Justice lawsuit challenging the Texas Republicans' new polling place Photo ID law as a violation of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and of the U.S. Constitution.

The "facts" he publicly offered in the law's defense were wholly misleading and, worse, plainly inaccurate. But if Abbott thought that was embarrassing, he may have no idea what he's in store for when he actually shows up in a court of law, seeking to defend the Photo ID law which Texas Republicans enacted in 2011 as part of a desperate attempt to cling to power.

Rapidly shifting voter demographics are quickly working against the Lone Star Republican Party. The numbers are leading them into a panic over an ever-increasing minority population and rising voting rates to go with it. So they have been, since 2005, attempting to squelch the inevitable by trying to tamp down minority turnout any way possible. But Texas Republicans are not only in a battle with demographics. The key facts about the Lone Star State's Photo ID restrictions --- as already determined in a court of law --- are not on their side either.

In both United States v. Texas, the DoJ's newly filed legal challenge to the Texas Photo ID restriction law, and in Veasey v. Perry, a separate federal lawsuit filed by Rep. Marc Veasey (D-TX) and later joined by Dallas County, the plaintiffs not only set forth allegations but facts already found to be true last year by a unanimous three-judge U.S. District Court panel.

Those already established facts reveal that the state's Photo ID law (SB 14) violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution because it imposes unreasonable, and often impossible, burdens upon the right of the poor to vote that would likely result in disenfranchisement. The three judge panel further found, via "undisputed record evidence", as they described it, that a disproportionate percentage of poor Texans who would be subject to such disenfranchisement are Hispanic and African-American.

At the time, however, despite establishing those uncontested facts, those Constitutional concerns were not the basis of the case in front of the federal court in question. But they are now.

Given the Lone Star State's acknowledgment during the previous litigation that it could not contest the facts already on record, the Texas Republicans' gambit to try and turn back time at the polls, or, at least, slow it down as the demographic clock continues to tick against them, is exceedingly unlikely to work. Here's why...

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Offer new opportunity for AG Holder to make good on promise to use 'every tool' at his disposal to fight discriminatory voting laws...
UPDATE: DoJ filed suit today, seeking to block TX Photo ID Law...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/22/2013 12:54pm PT  

Last week, civil rights groups filed two lawsuits in a North Carolina U.S. District Court, seeking to block what Brad Friedman aptly described as "the most extreme anti-voter bill passed by any state since the Jim Crow Era."

The Tar Heel State has a sordid history of official discrimination, a history that includes 30 successful challenges to discriminatory voting laws under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) over the past 30 years. Until the recent Republican takeover of the state, NC had become somewhat more progressive in the area of election law, even allowing for same day registration and voting which is lacking in even most of the more progressive states in the union.

Then, everything changed. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed a sweeping new election "reform" bill. The breadth the new law is unprecedented. It targets "nearly every aspect of the voting process," according to one of the new lawsuits. Both complaints allege that the newly minted Voter Information Verification Act ("VIVA" aka HB 589) reflects nothing less than a deliberate, racially-motivated attempt to deprive African-Americans of their constitutionally guaranteed right to vote.

The two federal lawsuits are NAACP v. McCrory [PDF] and League of Women Voters v. North Carolina [PDF].

The League also filed a separate legal challenge in state court, Currie v. North Carolina [PDF]. The state case alleges that VIVA’s polling place Photo ID restrictions violate the NC Constitution, which treats voting as a "fundamental right." (A legal analysis of the state challenge will be covered in a subsequent article).

Earlier this Summer, when the U.S. Supreme Court carved out the very heart of the federal Voting Right Act with their 5 to 4 Shelby County v. Holder decision, they acknowledged that their ruling "in no way affects the permanent nationwide ban on racial discrimination." The controversial decision rejected the formula established by Congress in the VRA's Section 4, used to identify jurisdictions to be covered by the Act's Section 5 requirement for those covered jurisdictions to receive preclearance from the DoJ or a U.S. District Court before enacting any new election-related laws. The SCOTUS decision did not, however, eliminate the right of individuals, civil rights organizations, or the DoJ to file lawsuits seeking to block discriminatory laws under the VRA's Section 2, which bars discrimination in all 50 states.

Therefore, the new federal lawsuits filed in NC do not, and need not, challenge the Shelby County decision. Their factual allegations, however, suggest that Chief Justice John Roberts was in grave error when asserting, on behalf of the Court's right-wing majority, that "the conditions that originally justified [Section 5 preclearance] no longer characterize voting in covered jurisdictions"...

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Bush appointee still heads up key financial regulatory agency...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/20/2013 7:35am PT  

Last year, in a petition to President Barack Obama, the advocacy group Change.Org described Edward J. DeMarco, a holdover from the Bush Administration who still serves as Acting Directer of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), as "the single largest obstacle to meaningful economic recovery."

The FHFA controls the government-sponsored mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which own 60% of all mortgages in the United States.

Around the time Change.Org began circulating its petition, New York Times' Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman, called for President Obama to "Fire Ed DeMarco". The blog detailed how DeMarco had, in defiance of the Obama Administration, rejected a U.S. Treasury Department request "that he offer debt relief to troubled homeowners --- a request backed by an offer that the U.S. Treasury would pay up to 63 cents to the FHFA for every dollar of debt forgiven."

Treasury's request was rejected even though, as Krugman explained, "a reduction in debt burdens would strengthen the economy," creating "greater revenues" that could "offset any losses from the debt forgiveness itself."

The fact that a Bush holdover, who, for so many years, has been committed to protecting the same Wall Street casino --- the market created out of mortgaged backed securities --- whose collapse triggered what Krugman insists is now a "depression", is primarily due to the ability of Senate Republicans to block both of the nominations Obama finally made to replace him...

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UPDATED: NSA domestic surveillance data used for IRS investigations...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/7/2013 6:35am PT  

[ED NOTE: An abridged version of this article was republished by the Ventura County Star on 8/17/2013.]

On Aug. 1, my Congressional Representative, Julia Brownley (D-CA-26), forwarded a letter to me in response to a query as to why she was amongst those responsible for the recent narrow defeat (205 - 217) of Amash-Conyers, a bi-partisan amendment to the Department of Defense Appropriations bill that would have brought an abrupt halt to the NSA's warrantless blanket collection of Americans' phone records.

The response did not address the actual substance of Amash-Conyers. Instead, her complaints about the measure were procedural, as she explained...

I have worked vigorously to protect civil liberties over my entire career in public service, and will continue to do so. However, we must address the very complex issues related to our privacy, rapidly advancing technology, and threats to our national security that exploit these advancements, in a deliberative, thoughtful, and responsible way with vigorous public debate. Crafting legislation that deals with such foundational issues cannot be accomplished in an amendment to an appropriations bill, as was the strategy with the Amash amendment. Furthermore, it allowed for only fifteen minutes of debate, which is not acceptable for such an important and complex issue that the public and their elected representatives rightfully care so deeply about.

While there's some legitimacy in Brownley's objection to an arbitrary 15-minute time limit for debate on such an important matter, the issue is not as "complex" as the first-term Congresswoman characterizes it. The one paragraph amendment, and its implications --- unlike the PATRIOT Act, FISA and the opaque secret interpretations of those laws she was effectively voting to keep in place, as is --- were fairly straightforward, in fact...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 8/4/2013 1:25pm PT  

In this hilarious segment of The Daily Show (broken into three different clips online, sorry!), John Oliver first presents the case in favor of livable wages for fast food workers...

Next, Fox "News" --- and, most embarrassingly, Neil Cavuto --- unabashedly offer the (extraordinarily flawed) case against it...

Finally, Tracy Burns, also of Fox "News", offers the most embarrassing argument of all...

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Files papers seeking requirement of federal preclearance for voting laws in TX, promises similarly aggressive action elsewhere...
By Ernest A. Canning on 7/29/2013 1:47pm PT  

The Department of Justice (DoJ) will not idly remain on the sidelines as the GOP seeks to illegally game the electoral system in the wake of what U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder referred to as the "deeply disappointing and flawed" Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder.

That decision, which carved out the very heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by finding unconstitutional the formula used to determine which jurisdictions with a long history of racial discrimination are required to "pre-clear" new election laws with the federal government before they can be enacted, has been a dramatic "setback", as Holder described it, to the voting rights movement, and has even proven to be a great leap forward for vote suppressors.

But, in a speech last week to the National Urban League Conference in Philadelphia, Holder signaled his intentions to fight back against the activist Court:

I have already directed the Department’s Civil Rights Division to shift resources to the enforcement of a number of federal voting laws not affected by the Supreme Court’s decision --- including the remaining provisions of the Voting Rights Act [VRA], prohibiting voting discrimination based on race, color, or language.

And today I am announcing that the Justice Department will ask a federal court in Texas to subject the State of Texas to a preclearance regime similar to the one required by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act...based on the evidence of intentional racial discrimination that was presented last year in the redistricting case, Texas v. Holder – as well as the history of pervasive voting-related discrimination against racial minorities that the Supreme Court itself has recognized – we believe that the State of Texas should be required to go through a preclearance process whenever it changes its voting laws and practices.

The DoJ then promptly filed a July 25, 2013 "Statement of Interest" in Perez v. Texas, a federal court case challenging the imposition of new Congressional redistricting maps in the wake of the Supreme Court's gutting of the Voting Rights Act, despite the fact that both the DoJ and a panel of federal judges nixed the same map last year after it was found to have been purposefully discriminatory just last year.

The DoJ argued in its filing last week that, because the evidence presented both in Perez and in Texas v. United States, revealed intentional violations of the 14th and 15th amendments in the redistricting schemes at issue, the court should impose a ten year preclearance requirement upon the State of Texas as an equitable remedy available pursuant to Section 3(c) of the VRA.

In short, while SCOTUS gutted the VRA's existing Section 4 formula for determining jurisdictions to be covered by Section 5 pre-clearance requirements, it left Section 3, which allows for jurisdictions to be added or "bailed in" to the list of those subject to preclearance intact. The DoJ now wants Texas added to the list of such jurisdictions.

It is of critical importance to note, however, that Holder's Urban League speech made clear that his intentions of pushing back were neither limited to Texas nor to Section 3.

"This is the Department’s first action to protect voting rights following the Shelby County decision, but it will not be our last," Holder vowed.

He then stated (emphasis added): "My colleagues and I are determined to use every tool at our disposal to stand against discrimination wherever it is found."

As observed by University of California Irvine Law Prof. Rick Hasen, Holder's pledge to have the DoJ "use whatever tools it has remaining in its arsenal to protect minority voting rights" is "a big deal."

It's a "big deal" not just because of the creative use of Section 3 in Perez, but also because the DoJ is joining a case originally brought "under Section 2 of the [VRA] to enforce the guarantees of the [14th & 15th] Amendments against racial discrimination in voting." The DoJ's actions here suggests that they are finally prepared to add the power and resources of the federal government to legal efforts to protect the right to vote that had been primarily made during the last election cycle by privately-funded, public interest groups like the ACLU and League of Women Voters...

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