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Reagan-appointed federal judge's about-face on own landmark vote suppression ruling brings attacks, nationwide reverberations...
By Brad Friedman on 10/28/2013 6:05am PT  

[This article now cross-published by Salon...]

Perhaps predictably, the Rightwing is now turning on the otherwise well-respected, Reagan-appointed appellate court judge who recently admitted his majority opinion in Crawford v. Marion County Board of Elections (2007), the landmark polling place Photo ID restriction law case, "was wrong."

Sergio Munoz at Media Matters details the recent --- and, frankly, absurd --- attacks being leveled against Judge Richard Posner by such outlets as National Review Online and long-time discredited GOP "voter fraud" fraudsters like Hans von Spakovsky.

See Munoz for all the details on the sleazy efforts being put forward by the Right's propaganda machine in their desperate attempt to salvage the only high-profile case they are able to cite that supports --- very meekly --- the disenfranchising Photo ID restriction laws they are trying to enact in state-after-state in order to keep Democratic-leaning voters from casting their otherwise legal votes. That, even though Crawford doesn't even actually say what its GOP advocates pretend that it says. (See our coverage of the DoJ's pending case against the Texas GOP's Photo ID law, to get an idea of how the Lone Star state's own Attorney General Greg Abbott is either lying about Crawford, or simply doesn't understand it. Take your pick.)

But I want to highlight a point or two that I haven't been able to cover previously on all of this, including comments given to The BRAD BLOG by one of the Democratic Party's lead attorneys on the original case, after what he describes as Posner's "stunning" admission.

Also, Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the U.S. Supreme Court's controlling decision in Crawford affirming Posner's lower court ruling, offered noteworthy comments as well recently, when he was asked about Posner's admission. Justice Stevens now offers a similar admission about his own SCOTUS ruling in the case...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 10/25/2013 6:05am PT  

When Don Yelton, North Carolina Republican Party Executive Committee Member and GOP Precinct Chair of Buncombe County, NC tried to explain to The Daily Show that the state's new polling place Photo ID restriction law wasn't racist at all, things went from bad to worse.

Mind you, the "bad" was when he (actually!) claimed that one of his best friends was black! So...you can only imagine what the "worse" was...

Yeah. Pretty amazing. In an interview with Mountain Xpress after the show aired Wednesday night, Yelton said he was pleased with the way the Daily Show had edited the conversation. "The comments that were made, that I said, I stand behind them. I believe them," he told the paper. "To tell you the truth, there were a lot of things I said that they could’ve made me sound worse than what they put up."

But the Republican Party --- currently fighting in court to support the most restrictive voter suppression law to be passed in the nation since the Jim Crow era --- is not quite as pleased. The Buncombe County GOP said in a statement on Facebook, that "Mr. Yelton’s comments do not reflect the belief or feelings of Buncombe republicans, nor do they mirror any core principle that our party is founded upon."

And, late Thursday, as Prachi Gupta at Salon reports, despite initially standing behind his comments, Yelton has now stepped down as the GOP precinct chair in Buncombe County:

Speaking to Pete Kaliner, host of "The Pete Kaliner Show" on WWNC 570 AM, Yelton has officially resigned from his position as precinct chair within the Buncombe County Republican Party.

Nathan West, Communications Director of the Buncombe County GOP, told Salon over the phone that he is worried about the "artificial damage" Yelton has caused the party.

Um, artificial damage?

Gawker reports that Yelton has now also stepped down from his state Republican Party leadership position as well. Moral for Republicans: It's okay to think it and pass laws based on it, just don't say it out loud, please and thanks, and certainly not in front of a TV camera!

* * *

UPDATE: Yelton has a new story. He now says The Daily Show took him out of context (in contrast to what he said previously, as seen above), then goes on to use the n-word to defend himself and calls his local Republican Party "gutless" because says they could have "turn[ed the interview] into a positive" by using it to show they accept all points of view. Seriously. See TPM for more...

* * *
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By Brad Friedman on 10/23/2013 4:20pm PT  

[This article now cross-published by Salon...]

One of the world's largest ATM manufacturers and, formerly, one of the largest manufacturers of electronic voting systems, has been indicted by federal prosecutors for bribery and falsification of documents.

The charges represent only the latest in a long series of criminal and/or unethical misconduct by Diebold, Inc. and their executives over the past decade.

According to Cleveland's Plain Dealer, a U.S. Attorney says the latest charges are in response to "a worldwide pattern of criminal conduct" by the company....

Federal prosecutors Tuesday filed charges against Diebold Inc., accusing the North Canton-based ATM and business machine manufacturer of bribing government officials and falsifying documents in China, Indonesia and Russia to obtain and retain contracts to provide ATMs to banks in those countries.

The two-count criminal information and deferred prosecution agreement calls for Diebold to pay nearly $50 million in penalties: $23 million to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and $25 million to the Department of Justice.

The agreement with federal prosecutors also calls for the implementation of rigorous internal controls that includes a compliance monitor for at least 18 months. The government agreed to defer criminal prosecution for three years, and drop the charges if Diebold abides by the terms of the agreement.

Despite at least $1.75 million in bribes said to have been paid the company around the globe, nobody will go to jail for what U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach describes as their "worldwide pattern of criminal conduct," because they are a corporation --- and you are not.

The $50 million the company has agreed to pay is a mere fraction of the firm's $3 billion in annual revenues. That, even though Diebold is a repeat offender --- which may be describing it mildly...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 10/23/2013 12:49pm PT  

Yes. Seriously.

Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones' conspiracy theory website InfoWars decries "tin-foil hat"-wearing "nut-jobs" for citing a "nefarious conspiracy" and "baseless theories" for which "there is no actual evidence."

I quit.

[Hat-tip @DaveWeigel...]

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Though their convictions were eventually vacated, the five boys who served years in jail after coerced confessions to a crime they didn't commit, still deserve much more...
By Brad Friedman on 10/21/2013 2:33pm PT  

[This article now cross-published by The Progressive...]

I finally found a moment recently to watch The Central Park Five, a documentary film by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon which aired on PBS earlier this year about the travesty of justice following the infamous 1989 Central Park Jogger case.

The word "travesty" here isn't really strong enough to properly describe what happened in this case if the film and the available evidence are accurate.

The film details the story of the five young African-American and Hispanic boys from Harlem, aged 14 to 16, who had absolutely nothing to do with the brutal beating and horrific rape of a white, affluent, 28-year old female jogger, but who ended up serving some seven years each (more in the case of the one 16-year old) after false confessions were apparently coerced out of them by New York City police detectives in the days immediately following the crime.

According to the documentary, one of the kids who was falsely convicted wasn't even considered a suspect when a NYC detective in Harlem, seeking to bring the boy's friend into the station for questioning, suggested the boy come along for the quick ride downtown and back. He promised him he'd be home in an hour or so. It would be years before either of them were allowed to go back home for good.

The film, frankly, is extraordinary disturbing, heart-breaking and infuriating on several different levels, not the least of which was that I lived in NYC when the horrible rape and violent assault --- attempted murder, actually --- took place. I remember the supposed "wilding" incident well, along with the fear and furor that subsequently gripped the city. Yet, I had no idea, until this film, that the boys tried and convicted for the crime were, years later, found to have been completely innocent. They had absolutely nothing to do with the crime they were each convicted of...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 10/19/2013 1:18pm PT  

Not sure, but this may be my favorite video of the year to date. This would be Jim Bob Duggar, former Arkansas state Rep. and genius patriarch of TLC's 19 Kids & Counting fame, attempting to serve as a spokesperson for the Ken Cuccinelli (R) gubernatorial campaign in Virginia against Terry McAuliffe (D)...

With spokespersons like that, who needs McAuliffe?

By the way, Duggar is not only fabulously "tongue twied", he's also not too terribly bright. Citing the same video above, "Scarce" at Crooks and Liars asks: "What can you really expect from people who compare the United States to Nazi Germany?" For the record, People for the American Way's Rightwingwatch says Duggar stands by the holocaust comparison he made at last week's Values Voters Summit in D.C..

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By Brad Friedman on 10/18/2013 8:35am PT  

You know how The BRAD BLOG is always going on about how Vote-by-Mail is a very bad idea for democracy (other than in cases where a voter really must vote absentee or is otherwise forced to vote on a 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems at the precinct on Election Day)?...

Yes, those dangling envelopes are absentee ballots being sent to voters. Maybe they'll actually reach them. Who knows?

The photos were taken by San Francisco surgeon and Election Integrity advocate Dr. John Maa last week and highlight just one of the many reasons why Vote-by-Mail is such a bad idea unless it's absolutely necessary. They were sent to us after being taken in the mail room of a San Francisco apartment building in advance of the upcoming November 5 municipal elections there.

"It was 10pm at night when I took those photos, so there were probably a lot more of them out there earlier in the day," Maa told us...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 10/17/2013 4:59pm PT  

Brilliant.

[Hat-tip to @litbrit.]

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UPDATED with response to election law professor Rick Hasen's critique...
By Brad Friedman on 10/16/2013 2:54pm PT  

[This article now cross-published by The Progressive...]

This story just keeps getting more insane.

We recently told you --- at The BRAD BLOG and at Salon --- about Judge Richard Posner's remarkable disavowal of his own majority opinion in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals case that became the basis for the U.S. Supreme Court's 2008 approval of the Republican implementation of polling place Photo ID restriction laws.

Though it's the only court case of note that Republicans are able to cite in claiming the "constitutionality" of such laws, last week, during an interview with HuffPo Live, Posner recanted the opinion he wrote in the case. He claimed that he "did not have enough information...about the abuse of voter identification laws," to make a better decision in 2007's Crawford v. Marion County Election Board. If he had, he said, the Indiana case "would have been decided differently."

Of course, at the same time, he noted that the dissenting judge in the case seems to have had no trouble ruling correctly at all. Judge Terence T. Evans blasted at the beginning of his dissent in the case [PDF]: "Let’s not beat around the bush: The Indiana voter photo ID law is a not-too-thinly-veiled attempt to discourage election-day turnout by certain folks believed to skew Democratic."

Evans "was right", Posner now admits, and his own decision was wrong. Apparently, Evans somehow did have the information needed to decide the same case correctly, even if Posner now claims that he, personally, did not for some reason.

Today, the New York Times finally decided to cover Posner's admission, and they add at least one more head-spinning element to all of this...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 10/15/2013 4:10pm PT  

As everything falls apart on The Hill tonight, again, Sen. Ted Cruz' speech writer and senior communications adviser Amanda Carpenter just had the temerity to tweet this...

She must be joking, right? Apparently, she isn't. Just completely and entirely tone deaf. Or just plain stupid. Congressional staffers are being forced to buy their health care on the Affordable Care Act exchanges because Republicans in the Senate added that requirement in an amendment during the fight over the ACA's passage in 2010, hoping that it would be a poison pill to kill the bill. The Democrats called their bluff and said, 'Okay, fine.' And now Carpenter is whining about the uncertainty it appears to be causing her.

That, while she and her boss are bringing down the U.S. government and potentially the global economy, in an attempt to keep some 50 million Americans from getting health care at all. Amazing.

* * *

UPDATE: With Fitch issuing a warning tonight that they may soon be forced to downgrade the U.S. government's AAA credit rating, thanks to the GOP's Cruz-inspired threats to default on the debt limit, maybe Carpenter will soon have the chutzpah to whine about the drop in value of her 401k plan.

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By Brad Friedman on 10/14/2013 3:04pm PT  

Just cuz I think we all may need something to smile about today. HuffPo confirms the following online conversation with NetFlix customer was real...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 10/14/2013 12:38pm PT  

As the idiotic Republican shutdown continues and debt ceiling collapse looms, GOP approval ratings plummet yet again in latest poll. The new survey from ABC/WaPo finds a stunning 74% of Americans disapprove of the way the GOP is handling budget negotiations, that's up 11 points from before the shutdown started.

But more important to remember, as all of this idiocy drags on --- and as Dems consider some form of "concessions" to allow the GOP the face-saving measures they need to get out of this mess --- are numbers like the following, underscoring just how idiotic and hypocritical all this nonsense actually is...

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7th circuit's Posner admits 'did not have enough information' at time to judge landmark vote suppression case correctly...
By Brad Friedman on 10/11/2013 3:16pm PT  

[This is article now been cross-published by Salon...]

This is nothing less than remarkable. The 7th circuit court judge who wrote the majority opinion in the landmark Crawford v. Marion County Election Board case, has now admitted he got it wrong!

"I think we did not have enough information," Judge Richard Posner said in remarks at HuffPo Live today. "If the lawyers had provided us with a lot of information about the abuse of voter identification laws, this case would have been decided differently."

Crawford is the Indiana polling place Photo ID restriction case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court where it was upheld in 2008. It is the case cited, usually inaccurately, by Republican advocates of such restrictions, who argue that such disenfranchising laws are not in violation of the U.S. Constitution. For example, it is the case cited (inaccurately) by TX Attorney General Greg Abbott, in his argument against the U.S. Dept. of Justice's current lawsuit attempting to block the Lone Star State's most recent attempt to institute that voting restriction at their polling places. "The U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled that voter ID laws do not suppress legal votes," Abbott said misleadingly in response to the DoJ's suit, as explained in detail last month by BRAD BLOG legal analyst Ernest Canning.

But, setting aside the misuse of SCOTUS' very limited ruling on Crawford, the remarkable news today comes via UC Irvine election law professor Rick Hasen, who transcribes remarks made today by Judge Richard Posner, author of the original 7th circuit majority opinion in Crawford, now completely recanting his original opinion on the case!

Read this from Hasen. It's amazing...

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

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By Brad Friedman on 10/11/2013 9:35am PT  

Last night, climate scientist and MacArthur Fellow ("Genius Grant" recipient, but what do they know?), Peter Gleick tweeted: "Moon landing deniers, evolution deniers, tobacco causes cancer deniers, #climate deniers, now 'debt-limit' deniers."

But, it doesn't have to be that way, at least the "climate denier" part, according to this video released by The League of Conservation voters yesterday...

It's cute. And the "slow jam" may stay with you for hours. Sorry about that.

While discussing that video with a number of climate folks yesterday, our own not-frequent-enough guest blogger D.R. Tucker had this thought:

I have only one problem with this ad: it doesn't show the Republican congressman who becomes a climate hero being primaried right out of his seat by a redneck, low-IQ, kindergarten-dropout piece of shit who's received thousands from the Kochs. I mean, you've got to tell the whole story...

Well, there's that.

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By Brad Friedman on 10/9/2013 3:15pm PT  

Just chanced across this note I wrote to myself on my iPhone in June of 2010...

Wow. Just spent day as only non-wingnut at wingnut media conf. Need bath.

Wonder what's destroying our country/world? Fox 'News'. But u prolly knew that. (They didn't)

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