After an amazingly encouraging week or two, we head into the July 4th weekend with a whole bunch of stuff we've been trying to clear off our desk. Plus: Lots of breaking news and an encouraging ending for the weekend...
According to CNN's Bill Schneider, "Iraq is not a top issue to Republicans" in the coming election. Thus, Senator John McCain, who is seen as the GOP candidate "Best Able To Handle Iraq" does not gain much traction with voters whose interests have shifted to the economy and to other issues.
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton prepared for a battle with her Democratic rivals at the CNN-sponsored debate on Thursday night. She did not have much to fear from the postdebate round table.
Among the experts trotted out by CNN to comment was James Carville, a Democratic strategist and CNN commentator who is also a close friend of Mrs. Clinton and a contributor to her campaign.
Mr. Carville’s presence aroused the fury of rivals and bloggers. They called it a conflict of interest and criticized CNN.
“Would it kill CNN to disclose that James Carville is a partisan Clinton supporter when talking about the presidential race?” Markos Moulitsas wrote on his liberal blog, Daily Kos. Mr. Moulitsas drew hundreds of comments.
If you're one of those dutiful souls who felt that the responsible exercise of citizenship required you to watch Thursday's debate among the Democratic candidates on CNN, you probably came away feeling as if you'd spent a couple of hours locked in the embrace of a time share salesman.
We're not talking about the candidates here, but about the shamelessly high-pressure pitch machine that has replaced the Cable News Network's once smart and reliable campaign coverage. Was there ever a better backdrop than Las Vegas for the traveling wreck of a journalistic carnival that CNN's political journalism has become? And can there now be any doubt that, in his last life, Wolf Blitzer had a booth on the midway, barking for the bearded lady and the dog-faced boy?
Tim Dickinson at Rolling Stone wonders if Wolf Blitzer is a douche or just a dislikeable fellow for running interference on behalf of Hillary.
Eric Altermann thought Joe Biden won the debate while, "The loser was Wolf Blitzer."
And the Gateway Pundit has an excellent rundown on the entire CNN hearts Hillary debacle.
A House Judiciary subcommittee was the site of a sad spectacle the other day: John Tanner, who heads the Justice Department’s voting section, trying to explain offensive, bigoted comments he made about minority voters. It was a shameful moment that crystallized the need for immediate steps to fight for the rights that Mr. Tanner has been working so hard to undermine.
The administration should, of course, fire Mr. Tanner. Congress should pass a bill to criminalize deceptive campaign practices. And it should reject a pending nominee to the Federal Election Commission, Hans von Spakovsky.
The Justice Department has a long history of protecting the voting rights of minorities. In the Bush administration, the department’s voting rights section has been taken over by ideologues most interested in denying the ballot to minorities, poor people and other groups likely to vote Democratic.
There have been calls for Mr. Tanner to be removed, and he should be, but that is not enough. The Senate must refuse to confirm Mr. von Spakovsky, an anti-voting-rights advocate cut from the same cloth as Mr. Tanner, to the F.E.C. Based on his record, Mr. von Spakovsky would use the job to undermine the right to vote.
This administration seems to believe that the right to vote is something only Democrats should care about. It is too important to be reduced to a partisan issue.
Tanner has come under a great deal of fire, since, our original report of his assertions that while it was "a shame" that elderly voters were likely disenfranchised by his approval --- on behalf of the DoJ, and against the advice of his staff --- of a Georgia Photo ID poll restriction, minorities were somehow better served by it. His objectionable, and now-discredited, argument: "Minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first."
Are bloggers journalists? More importantly, should bloggers receive the same privileges the government bestows upon “professional” journalists including, in most states, protection from the forced disclosure of confidential sources of information by way of journalist shield laws?
Part 1 (7:32) of our interview above covers all things related to the shield law. Part 2 (8:30) of the interview above concentrates on access privileges and other benefits that journalists receive from the government that may be important to bloggers. Both follow below...
KTLA News reports on the rush to prepare paper ballots for upcoming elections, including next February's California presidential primary now that Secretary of State Debra Bowen decertified electronic voting in 29 counties because the machines proved vulnerable to hackers.
The piece also features Riverside County election integrity activist (and hero) Tom Courbat of SAVE R VOTE who raises concerns about Sequoia's role in counting the paper ballots, "when these ballots go into electronic tabulating machines there is no way to tell whether or not they have been programmed to flip the vote and rig the election." While Registrar of Voters, Barbara Dunmore, agrees with Courbat about the vulnerability of electronic machines, she believes election officials have put in place safeguards that will ensure fair elections.
For more on Courbat's tireless efforts to protect democracy in Riverside County see this video mashup.
Guest Blogged by Alan Breslauer with additional reporting by Brad Friedman
Unbelievably, the Chief of the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice, John Tanner, contends that while it's "a shame" that elderly voters may be disenfranchised by new Photo ID restrictions at the polls because many don't have driver's licenses, minorities don't have to worry quite as much. Why? Because "minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first."
Below are clips from our video interview with Freeman, broken down into five easy viewing segments, including his contention that his initial investigations into electronic voting led him to believe "There has to be some safeguard, it can't be this easy to corrupt. But it is. Even worse. If you haven't looked into this it is worse than you can possibly imagine."
The video clips, and text snippets of his answers to our questions, all follow below...
Who won the 2004 presidential election? - Freeman's short answer: John Kerry. He explains that while the official vote count gave George W. Bush a narrow margin of victory in Ohio of 120,000 votes and a slim electoral win, exit poll data indicates that Kerry actually won Ohio by 500,000 votes and won the national vote by a 6 million vote margin.
The following videos were all created on Thursday, September 20th at the Jena Six rally in Jena, Louisiana and in front of the prison in Alexandria, Louisiana. Sadly, Mychal Bell, the only member of the Jena six still behind bars more than 10 months after he was charged with attempted second-degree murder for a school yard fight, had his bail denied today. And the injustice continues...
Reverend Al Sharpton: "Two wrongs don't make one Civil Right"...
CNN's Tony Harris tells The BRAD BLOG what he would like to see happen with the Jena Six...
Women serving in the military today are unlikely to share General Petraeus' rosy outlook given during his "Surge" testimony before Congress today. Because, as NOW on PBS reported last Friday, government compiled statistics show that nearly 1 in 4 active duty women in the military are victims of sexual assault. By contrast, during the much shorter first Gulf War, "about 15% of the women were raped."
The problem is compounded because many female soldiers fear the consequences of reporting such incidents. Also, little appears to happen when assaults are reported. According to the broadcast, there were 1,400 investigations of sexual assault last year which have resulted in only 72 court-martials.
Last Thursday we had the opportunity to speak briefly with California U.S. House Rep. Brad Sherman about election integrity reform during one of his appearances here. Sherman, who had nothing but praise for the election integrity efforts of CA Secretary of State Debra Bowen, is a cosponsor of Rep. Rush Holt's (D-NJ) controversial “Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007,” otherwise infamously known as HR 811.
Sherman stated that he believed that Bowen's landmark, independent “Top-to-Bottom Review” of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting systems --- which resulted in the near-decertification of all but one California voting system after it was found they were all vulnerable to hackers and manipulation and failed to meet even marginal federal disabled voter accessibility standards --- was consistent with the Holt Bill that relies so heavily on the use of the same DRE voting systems.
That Sherman was apparently confused about the difference between what Bowen's study revealed (DREs are not safe to use in elections) and what Holt's bill allows (DREs, as long as they have so-called paper trails of the type Bowen's study found could not guarantee secure, accurate elections), is little surprise. Even in the wake of findings which undermine his own bill, Holt has been using Bowen's study, disingenuously, to tout his own exceedingly flawed bill as The BRAD BLOG reported some weeks ago.
However, to Sherman's credit, he agreed to withdraw his co-sponsorship of HR 811 if he learned that Bowen did not support it.
With this in mind, we direct the Congressman to radio talk show host Peter B. Collins's interview with Bowen on June 27, 2007 (audio below, appx 3 mins). Responding to a direct question from Collins about whether she supports the Holt bill, Bowen responded, "I have not. I have worked with the author to try to strengthen the bill, but have not taken a position of support."
We have sent on this information to the Congressman's office, per his instructions, and await his reply.
The BRAD BLOG has previously reported on several other HR 811 co-sponsors, including Reps. Maxine Waters and Dennis Kucinich, who have indicated their intent to withdraw from the bill in the wake of strong opposition to a number of the bill's provisions by many advocates in the Election Integrity community.
UPDATE: Congressman Sherman responds through staffer Esther Azal:
According to the conversation you had with the Congressman, he stated that he would withdraw his support of the Holt Bill if Debra Bowen were to "oppose" it. I spoke to Debra Bowen's office and her legislative staff informed me that she has not taken an official position on this piece of legislation.
This short preview clip from tomorrow night's NOW episode shows a former Iraq war medic who sought conscientious objector status after, among other incidents, witnessing an innocent Iraqi man killed for driving too close to a convoy: "We're unfortunately hurting people who are in the wrong place at the wrong time. This individual obviously had no intention of harming us. There was nothing in his vehicle that was found. Yet, someone doesn't have a father. So that's a memory that really stuck with me."