It was a long and hot day in Denver. The mercury topped out at 90 as we roamed the streets from one venue to the next. At least on the ground, as we got our bearings today, mostly far off the grid of the incessant and inane ramblings of cable news coverage, it was a fairly run of the mill afternoon and evening.
Given the world we live in, the lack of news is probably a good thing. So, at the risk of disappointing Fox "News", nothing blew up, huge riots did not break out, most everyone seemed to be in a good mood everywhere we went, and even the security detail, present but not overbearing, were polite and welcoming, even as parts of the city were blocked off in Baghdadian fashion.
Here then, are a few random and sometimes personal observations and notes as seen from on the ground and throughout the day...
The following video report, as seen live on Fox "News" yesterday, demonstrates that the far-right "news" channel has no clue what the words "raucous", "out of control" or "freedom of speech" actually mean, as "reporter" Griff Jenkins is seen taunting DNC Convention demonstrators, only to receive chants of "Fuck Fox News", live on air, in the bargain...
The video also demonstrates (again) that, to Fox, "far left" is anybody who doesn't cow-tow to Fox's fringe kook extremist Republicanist agenda. That is, unless wanting to keep U.S. troops in Iraq forever, and launching yet a third war with Iran is the mainstream American view, and only "leftists" are against such things.
We'll be in Denver later today, and we'll try to look for Jenkins to find out if he wishes to explain his performance. If not, clearly it'll be because he "doesn't believe in freedom of speech".
UPDATE: The following longer clip (hat-tip BRAD BLOG commenter "Floridiot") shot by a citizen "off air", shows that this place could be a tinder-box with Fox, apparently, more than willing to light the match if needed. With temperatures set to reach 90 degrees later today in Denver, we'll hope things stay cool and Fox thinks better of their strategy of taunting peaceful demonstrators...
All in all, we'd rather be in St. Paul. But then again, nobody involved with the Republican National Convention (which we suspect will be much more fun) invited us to speak in Minnesota. We will, however, be speaking on a panel about "Clean, Fair and Transparent Elections" at a forum sponsored by The Nation magazine and the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) in Denver, so we're now on our way. Whether we like it or not.
We're also told that press credentials to the big show have been secured for The BRAD BLOG, so who knows what may happen? In truth, we have no idea what we'll find in Denver worth reporting, if anything, but many are the days we often awaken with no clue at all what nightmares and/or hilarity await us, requiring light and focus that sometimes only we seem to be able to help bring. It's with that same sense of wonderment and a not-bad-nose-for-news-found-nowhere-else that we head towards the Rockies.
While we're en route, and even while we're on the ground in Denver, the good Guest Bloggers of The BRAD BLOG will be joining us to keep things lively while your occasionally-humble eponymous blogger-in-chief strolls the grounds either with or without net access.
If you're in the mood to support our DNC efforts, whatever they may be, we'd not turn down a few dollars for a tank of gas or three to help get there and back safely. Donations may be left online here. If you're able to drop $50 or more in that tip jar, we'll be happy to send you a collectors' edition DVD of Uncounted, signed by filmmaker David Earnhardt, as a small thanks. (Our snail mail, for those who asked: Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594, Los Angeles, CA 90028.)
Wish us luck. We'll do our best to stay away from the water cannons...
Curtis called Kosmas a "conservative blue-dog Democrat." He said "She could change her name to Republican and never have to change a vote."
Kosmas, in return, might ask, "Curtis who?"
She said she doesn't know Curtis.
"I am running as a Democrat," Kosmas said.
"Running as a Democrat." A telling phrase, that.
While Kosmas claims to be against the war, it turns out she co-sponsored a resolution, adopted on March 21, 2003, while in the Florida legislature that pledged "support of President Bush in his stand against Saddam Hussein".
Unfortunately, Kosmas isn't the only hand-picked Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) candidate being put up this year almost solely on the basis of the DCCC's short-sighted conjecture that they can win in a previously "red" district because the candidate either has lots of their own money, or is damned-near a Republican.
Yesterday, our buddy Howie Klein - who knows more about on-the-ground politics and the real positions of Congressional candidates than anyone we know --- decimated the DCCC for their drive to put "Democrats" in office, at any cost. The "Stalinist" effort, as he describes it, to put such candidates as Kosmas in office (whether or not they end up voting with Republicans more often than Democrats!) has been the basis of the DCCC's "Red to Blue" program launched under the previous DCCC chair Rep. Rahm Emanuel and still in play under its new chair, Chris Van Hollen....
I should say first off I don't have a dog in the hunt. I support neither Obama nor Clinton in this nomination race and couldn't tell you now whether I'd vote for either of them next November. I've stated long ago that both of those candidates have plenty of supporters, so I'll be supporting the voters this year, since they don't have nearly enough support.
With that said, this morning's meeting in the DNC Rules & Bylaws Committee (RBC) has been an interesting one to watch. All sides in the unfortunate matters of fighting over how to seat (or not) the delegations from Florida and Michigan at this year's national convention have argued smartly for their various cases.
But where the DNC's RBC is concerned --- no matter which candidate the various members of the committee may already be on record as supporting in general --- there should be only one consideration in their ultimate decision: what will be best for the party itself and whichever candidate ends up being their nominee.
Everyone at today's meeting spoke in general consensus that party unity is key. If that's truly their belief, then every side in the dispute needs to place unification first as the top priority for any final rulings on whether and how to seat the MI and FL delegations at the Democratic Convention.
To that end, the version for those with short attention spans: The party must agree to the Florida compromise which nets a 19 delegate advantage for Clinton while giving delegates at the convention a 50% vote. They must also agree to the Michigan state party's compromise of awarding the Michigan delegates 69/59 in Clinton's favor with a 50% vote at the convention.
And while it's not necessarily germane to the decisions being made by the DNC RBC today, Rep. Robert Wexler of Florida should be made Barack Obama's Vice Presidential nominee.
For the longer explanation of the above, please read on...
The Florida computer programmer turned infamous whistleblower was allegedly asked by Jeb Bush crony (and future FL-24-R Congressman) Tom Feeney to write vote-flipping software for him in 2000 (here's the quick summary version of BRAD BLOG's coverage of the scandal). At the time, Curtis, then a loyal Republican, delivered the vote-rigging prototype to Feeney under the assumption that his software would be used to prevent e-voting manipulation by Democrats. When Curtis learned that the true purpose was to game the election results in South Florida, he blew the whistle.
A stacked-deck investigation by the Florida Ethics Commission --- where 6 of the 8 members of the panel are either Bush or Feeney appointees, or closely tied to one or both --- dismissed Curtis’ allegations without allowing him to testify, and without examining email and other evidence in the case, in violation of FL law. But Curtis would not go quietly.
He became a crusader, speaking at election integrity events around the country and eventually delivering jaw-dropping testimony (video here) to a stunned Congressional committee (who did nothing in response). Curtis even passed a lie detector test administered by the retired chief polygrapher for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Meanwhile, Feeney has been branded among the “Top 25 Most Corrupt in Congress,” for three years straight, by CREW, the non-partisan DC ethics watchdog group, most notably for his involvement --- and golf junket to Scotland --- with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
In 2006, Curtis launched his first congressional bid --- now as a Democrat --- taking on Feeney himself for his FL-24 seat. A pre-election Zogby poll showed Curtis in a statistical dead heat with Feeney --- despite Feeney’s big-money smear campaign against Curtis (‘CrazyClintCurtis.com’ featured doctored photos of Curtis wearing a tin foil hat). But on election night, Feeney was announced the winner 57%/43%. Problem is, those election results didn’t make much sense based on the Zogby poll or Curtis’ own internal polling. So Curtis did something remarkable. He filed a Congressional election challenge.
His team went door to door collecting signed affidavits from FL-24 voters testifying as to how they voted. They found the results to be wildly off, by double digits in some places. Despite this evidence, the Democratically controlled House committee summarily dismissed his election challenge, along with several others, without bothering to even review Curtis' evidence.
And yet, Curtis is once again going after the FL-24 Congressional seat. Only this time, he’s not just running against Feeney. First he must defeat an attempt to challenge him by the Democratic party's hand-picked candidate.
We caught up with Curtis on the campaign trail where he made it clear, in our exclusive interview, that he had no intention of lying down or rolling over for naysayers, Democratic insiders, the woman chosen by the DCCC to challenge him, and certainly not the corrupt Tom Feeney...
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has found a self-financed millionaire to run against Tom Feeney (R-Abramoff) in the 24th congressional district in Florida. That Suzanne Kosmas brings her own money to the game is apparently good enough for the DCCC, never mind her positions on anything, and whether or not they've already got another candidate in the race who has demonstrated his dedicated fealty to the party, his progressive credentials, his effectiveness on the stump, and his ability to take on Feeney with a great deal of success, as he did in 2006.
That candidate, who has declared he will be running again for the nomination in 2008 to take on the corrupt Feeney once more, is Clint Curtis, the man who worked with Feeney back when they were both Republicans --- when Feeney served as both speaker of the FL House even while serving as the registered lobbyist for a computer firm with state contracts --- and back when, as Curtis alleges, Feeney asked him to create a touch-screen vote-rigging software prototype back in 2000.
Nonetheless, the Democratic Party insiders of the DCCC --- and now, apparently, the corporate mainstream media --- have determined that their choice for nominee, comes before the people's, and before even a single vote has been cast.
Here's the letter that I wrote to WFTV, after they, and their reporter, Scott MacFarlane, recently sent the message to voters that they should just fuck off and not bother turning out to vote, because, according to them, Kosmas is already "Feeney's 2008 Democratic opponent"...
Endlessly mundane and always uninformative, the moribund struggle for party nominations in what we so disrespectfully still call the "presidential campaign" inhabit a realm of such vacuous inanity one can palpably sense malignant tumors of ennui forming within.
While would-be Republican candidates spar for the GOP nomination by appealing to brain stem functions (that is, when they're not extolling us with tales of their heavenly devotion), Democrats carry themselves at only a marginally elevated level. This is not to say that there are not candidates --- on both sides --- who would like to raise the bar and address actual issues and policy, but those are shunned by our craven and cack-handed media mavens, who never seem to tire of their perceived role as king-maker in what has become --- for the world's "greatest democracy" --- an embarrassing spectacle of the most base and primitive dimensions. I suspect if media moguls could get Romney and Huckabee to square off in a cage fight, well, that would be next on the tour of the candidates. Who needs all this talk? Though the American public demand campaigns of substance, there appears too little of that on the political horizon, while furry idiots like Wolf Blitzer express puzzlement at the term "triangulating" as it pertains to Hillary Clinton.
What we constantly hear from the corporate media, though it is never stated quite so bluntly, is that those with the money become the kings. The American political campaign system is now a big-money bonanza for media corporations. These corporations prop up candidates with the most money knowing full well that that money will come straight back to them in the form of campaign advertising. The media are now simply advertisers for the biggest political spenders, which is perhaps the reason why the campaign cycle is now virtually continuous. It is a positive feedback loop, reinforcing in the minds of the public that the only viable candidates are the ones with the money, the polls reflect this, more money pours in for those "viable candidates," which in turn cycles right back to the media money machine.
Which is why I am constantly amazed that the so-called "progressive" blogs have chosen to endorse corporate-backed candidates like Hillary Clinton.
Though Dennis Kucinich espouses ideals resonant with most liberal voters, he is as marginalized by progressives as much as the mainstream media as "unelectable," though no one ever seems to understand or explain exactly what that means. Is it his ears?
By all appearances, blogs such as dKos, MyDD, etc, have now simply become another arm of the Democratic party and their backing of the major, big-money candidates simply because they are deemed "electable" entirely betrays the original purpose of their fora.
Asociated Press and ABC both cover the Judiciary Hearings with John Tanner today, leading with his tepid apology: "I want to apologize for the comments I made at the recent meeting of the National Latino Congress about the impact of voter identification laws on elderly and minority voters … My explanation of the data came across in a hurtful way, which I deeply regret."
His data were fine (they weren't), just that his explanation was hurtful.
The head of the DoJ's Civil Rights Division Voting Section's apologia comes in response to comments made on a video tape that, according to both AP and ABC, apparently created itself, reported itself, and then posted itself on YouTube.
In the statement they released yesterday from Howard Dean and Donna Brazile, calling for Tanner to be fired, they attributed the comments to FoxNews.com. Very thoughtful.
Luckily, we are so well off here at The BRAD BLOG, so flush with overflowing resources, as based on the world-wide MSM recognition of the credibility of our work, we don't need the DNC to recognize us for having handed them Tanner's head on a silver platter via our elbow grease at our own expense.
Rupert Murdoch, on the other hand, can use all the help he can get. If we're able to raise enough for this month's rent on our latest premium offer, we'll be sure to send whatever is left over to him. Happy DNC?
(Can you tell I'm rolling on little more than 3 hours' sleep today? Okay, done with my whining for tonight. Maybe.)
UPDATE:The Hill reports "CBC (Congressional Black Caucus) members pummel Department of Justice official" and NPR covers as well. They credit no one for the original reporting. Which is preferred to crediting "a Youtube video."
Here's NPR's coverage, with audio of some of the best Tanner spankings today (appx 4 mins)...
UPDATE: 10/31/07: PBS News Hour covered last night as well. And includes an appropriate attribution. In case it's not clear, the attribution is not because we need ego strokes or pats on the back. It's so that bad guys, in the future, are less able to say "Oh, that explosive report exposing us came from a blog, and we all know that blogs aren't credible." When said blog has been credited as credible by folks such as AP, ABC, and yes, even the DNC, it makes it much more difficult for those bad guys to duck accountability using the "just an Internet blog" defense.
Here's the PBS News Hour's coverage (thanks to Alan Breslauer!) from last night:
In advance of tomorrow morning's House Judiciary Committee hearing to feature testimony by DoJ Civil Rights Division Voting Section chief John "Minorities Die First" Tanner, DNC Chair Howard Dean and Donna Brazile of the DNC Voting Rights Institute have issued a statement calling for Tanner to be "immediately fired."
"In their latest scheme, the Republican Administration has manipulated the mission of the Department of Justice, firing US Attorneys who were unwilling to pursue phony 'voter fraud' cases, and politicized the Civil Rights Division," the statement (posted in full at the end of this article) reads.
The release goes on to decry the politicization of the Bush Department of Justice, and what is described as their "outright assault" on the right to vote.
"Tanner's outrageous comments underscore the GOP's utter disregard for the integrity of our nation's election system and are an affront to the spirit of the Voting Rights Act," Dean and Brazile said, before declaring that the embattled Voting Rights Section chief "should be fired immediately and replaced with someone who will work to make sure that all citizens are able to vote and have their vote counted."
They call on Judge Michael Mukasey, if he is confirmed as the next Attorney General, to "commit to replacing Tanner with someone who will protect our rights, not ignore them for a partisan agenda."
As The BRAD BLOG recently reported, however, Mukasey made clear in his recent Senate Confirmation hearings that he does not object to restrictive polling place Photo ID laws which critics contend may disenfranchise anywhere from 10 to 30 million largely Democratic-leaning voters who do not have such ID.
Previously, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) have called for Tanner's firing. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) wrote Mukasey last week to ask if he will review the matter and consider the termination of Tanner.
Tanner's objectionable comments were made several weeks ago during a panel discussion on Photo ID issues at the National Latino Congreso in Los Angeles. Tanner, who approved a controversial Georgia Photo ID law on behalf of the DoJ against the advice of the majority of the career staffers in the Voting Rights section, admitted the law would disenfranchise some elderly voters and added that while that was a "shame," minorities would somehow be positively affected by such laws since "they don't become elderly. They die first."
(A short clip of Tanner's comments is posted at left.)
The Georgia ID law was later found unconstitutional and overturned by two federal courts that compared the restriction to a modern-day Jim Crow-era poll tax.
Paul Kiel at TPM Muck has a few more thoughts in advance of tomorrow's Judiciary Committee hearings.
In a rare shift in party affiliation, the entire membership of the all-Republican governing body in Lyndhurst will switch from Republican to Democrat tomorrow. Nearly 60% of Lyndhurst’s Republican County Committee will become Democrats too.
The party realignment, first reported in PoliticsNJ.com last summer, is far greater in scope than speculated. It represents, perhaps, the most massive shift in Party affiliation of elected and Party officials in a single community in one day. “It’s safe to say something like this certainly doesn’t happen in politics everyday,” said Lyndhurst Mayor Richard DiLascio.
Lyndhurst has long been considered a swing town in general elections over the last twenty years.
I've been meaning to mention all week how appalling it was to see Tim Russert waste the entire sixty minutes of network airtime last week on NBC's Meet the Press, covering the 2008 Presidential Speculation. What, Ann Coulter was available for an "exclusive" full hour interview?
The vacuous hour followed a week on the heels of an extraordinary NY Times exposé on the con game played out by the Bush Administration concerning their torture policies; while America still has more than 160,000 troops committed to two hot wars; and with a criminal cabal still running full throttle out of the current White House.
Thankfully, Colbert mentioned it for me last night...
...And on that note, while Russert fiddles and Rome burns, the exchange with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, also fiddling, as conducted by the tenacious Christiane Brown of Reno's progressive station talk station, KJFK, is both disturbing and illuminating.
In the short interview (courtesy of AfterDowningStreet.org), Reid just can't seem to understand the Constitutional responsibility of Congress to hold the Executive branch accountable, when warranted (as it clearly is now as much as any time in this nation's history), through Impeachment proceedings.
The quick audio (less than two minutes), with Reid grasping at straws to answer Brown's questions, while he declares Impeachment as "such a waste of time" and a "foolish idea" is here:
AfterDowningStreet also reports that Nancy Pelosi's appearance on Ed Schultz's show yesterday, in regard to the same topic, was similarly limp. Though we haven't gotten to hear that one yet, as Big Ed's archives are behind a subscription wall.
...All of which also gives us the opportunity to post the following graphic --- run by the Wall Street Journal, way back in 2006, based on data from even farther back in 2005 --- showing support for Impeachment of Bush as compared to Bill Clinton.
I don't mean to be rude, but what the hell is going on?
No impeachment proceedings, despite the Kucinich Impeachment Articles languishing in the House? A refusal to make the Republican Senators filibuster the Webb amendment that would have required a mandatory year's rest between deployments to Iraq or Afghanistan (which wasn't even an antiwar bill, but one crafted specifically to support the troops)? Twenty two Democratic Senators voting to condemn Moveon.org for exercising their right to free speech? No strategy for ending this war other than a vain hope to "peel away" a few "moderate" Republicans? Mealy-mouthed explanations for why nothing gets done?
I'd like to support the Democratic leadership in the Senate and the House, I really would, but so far I see nothing that I can, in all honesty, point to as a significant action by our leadership in support of a progressive agenda...
Democratic Presidential Candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich announced plans to drop his support of Congressman Rush Holt (D-NJ)'s controversial election reform bill, HR 811, during a telephone appearance at a New Hampshire activist event over the weekend. The Ohio congressman and outspoken critic of the Iraq War also announced that he plans to re-introduce "The Paper Ballot Act," (HR 6200) a bill he filed in the last Congress, requiring the hand counting of paper ballots in Presidential elections.
Kucinich "announced he will advise Rep. Holt that the he will not be supporting HR 811, a voter reform bill rapidly losing support," according to a press release issued today by his New Hampshire campaign spokesman....