— Eric Wolfson (@ericwolfson) August 24, 2013
w/ Brad & Desi
w/ Brad & Desi
w/ Brad & Desi
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...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
|MORE BRAD BLOG 'SPECIAL COVERAGE' PAGES...|
— Eric Wolfson (@ericwolfson) August 24, 2013
Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Justice sued the state of Texas under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. The complaint was filed in hopes of blocking the state's polling place Photo ID restriction law, newly re-enacted by TX Attorney General Greg Abbott just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the very heart of the VRA (the Section 4 formula used to determine jurisdictions covered by its Section 5 preclearance requirements for new voting laws) last June.
How did the TX AG respond to the DoJ suit?
Here is the very first line of Abbott's embarrassing website response to it posted yesterday...
Ya know what else "Voter IDs have nothing to do with"? The absentee ballot fraud committed by the woman cited by Greg Abbott above in the very first line of his response to the DoJ!
Here (courtesy of Ryan Reilly) is the very first page of the indictment against the woman cited by Abbott as a reason why the state needs their polling place Photo ID restriction law. [Red circle added for TX AGs who may have trouble reading their own legal filings]...
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 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"...
By now, you've certainly heard of the outrageous 9-hour detention of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald's partner David Miranda at Heathrow Airport under Great Britain's supposed "Terrorism Act" over the weekend. As Rachel Maddow amazingly, but justifiably, found it necessary to point out loudly last night, "journalism is not terrorism", and both the British government and U.S. government (which has admitted receiving a "heads-up" about the planned detention by British authorities in advance, but didn't stop it from happening) should be ashamed of themselves and held accountable for the outrage.
Many have opined, since the detention of Miranda, what an outrage something like that would have been had a similar harassment and the seizure of personal property of, say, a New York Times journalist doing his or her job, occurred in this country or by a country so closely allied with the U.S.
Well, before we took our short break last week, I had been covering some of the increasing citizen protests in several states around the U.S. in reaction to the extreme and radical Republican policies being put in place by states where the GOP has recently taken control of state government. I covered the ensuing arrests of an 83-year old Korean War vet peacefully demonstrating for voting rights in NC (as he did with MLK in Selma, AL in 1965) and of an 80- and 85-year old couple in WI arrested in a crackdown by Republican Gov. Scott Walker's Capitol Police for participating in a daily protest sing along in the state capitol building.
While I was gone, it seems, things have gotten worse in Wisconsin, as an elected official was also arrested for singing along, and even the editor of a progressive news magazine was arrested for having attempted to record it...
I sat in the courtroom all day on Wednesday as Bradley Manning's trial wound its way to a tragic and demoralizing conclusion. I wanted to hear Eugene Debs, and instead I was trapped there, watching Socrates reach for the hemlock and gulp it down. Just a few minutes in and I wanted to scream or shout.
I don't blame Bradley Manning for apologizing for his actions and effectively begging for the court's mercy. He's on trial in a system rigged against him. The commander in chief declared him guilty long ago. He's been convicted. The judge has been offered a promotion. The prosecution has been given a playing field slanted steeply in its favor. Why should Manning not follow the only advice anyone's ever given him and seek to minimize his sentence? Maybe he actually believes that what he did was wrong. But --- wow --- does it make for some perverse palaver in the courtroom...
I was watching a segment last night on Rachel Maddow's show with Desi Doyen, concerning the recent warnings issued to Americans and the evacuations at dozens of U.S. embassies and consulates in the Middle East and Northern Africa. The actions were taken due, we are told, to "chatter" detected by intelligence services of the possibility of attacks by al-Qaeda (and/or "associated forces") to American interests in the region.
Maddow framed the actions being taken by the U.S. government in the context of the infamous August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing memo --- "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" --- ignored by George W. Bush just one month before the 9/11 attacks. Yesterday was the 12th anniversary of that memo.
In her conversation with NBC foreign affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell, Maddow discussed the memory of that infamously ignored warning, and what effect it may have on the way the U.S. government now reacts to such detected threats. "In a post-9/11 world", the argument goes, President Obama and all future Presidents are likely to be very conscious of not underestimating such memos and "chatter," in the event that an attack does come about, for which they could later be held accountable for having ignored the "clear signs." (Not that George W. Bush or his administration was ever held accountable for such things, but that's a different matter.)
While watching the conversation about the dozens of closed diplomatic posts, I said to Desi, "I bet they're wildly over-reacting. It's not about post-9/11. It's about post-Benghazi."
In either an abundance or over-abundance of caution, U.S. embassies and consulates are being warned and shuttered and Americans are being air-lifted out of countries. It's not the memory of 9/11, at this point, that the government seems to be reacting to. It's as much the Republican reaction and/or over-reaction and/or political bludgeon made of the deaths of four U.S. personnel at our diplomatic outpost in Libya last year that seems to be leading to this reaction and/or over-reaction by the government.
Indeed, moments after I had uttered that thought to Desi, Mitchell said to Maddow: "I think, Rachel, that this is not just post-9/11, this is post-Benghazi."
The way our government now reacts to such events is not necessarily based on common sense, it seems to be as much based on fear. Not necessarily fear of being attacked, but fear of missing some important warning or another and then being held politically accountable for it later.
Since so much of this is kept secret --- except for stuff classified as "secret" and "top secret" that is routinely leaked by government officials who, unlike whistleblowers, are almost never held accountable for such leaks of classified information --- we are largely left to simply "trust" that the government is accurately portraying the threat, whether they are or not, and whether they are simply over-reacting out of caution and/or political ass-covering.
All of this, then, adds an interesting light to a curious story reported this week by Al-Jazeera English's Jason Leopold (formerly of Truthout) highlighting the government's seemingly bizarre claims that they have concerns that al-Qaeda may "attack the detention facilities at Guantanamo" or otherwise, somehow, "undermine security at the facility" if too much is known about what goes on there.
But that's not the most interesting aspect of the story...
[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...
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...
[This article cross-published by Salon...]
Full Disclosure: The BRAD BLOG has not been shy in calling out Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) for some fairly outrageous stuff over the years.
Who can forget, for example, the time when, as Chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee in 2005, he shut down the microphones and lights in the middle of an oversight hearing on the PATRIOT Act when he did not approve of the testimony offered by witnesses called by Democrats?
It was outrageous, it was inappropriate, and we reported it as such at the time, just as we did in 2011 when, in a bit of déjà vu, he similarly shut down a town hall event in WI after protesters there expressed outrage over the Republicans' radical anti-union law recently adopted in the state.
So it is with much sincerity and great appreciation that we "call him out" today, not for outrageous behavior, but for his outspoken and unwavering support for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, after the very heart of that landmark civil rights legislation has been violently carved out by a 5 to 4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June...
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...
This guy is quite a piece of work. It might be easy to laugh him off as just another disinformed NRA stooge, except for his status as the Police Chief --- and only member of the force --- in the small town of Gilberton, PA.
As seen in the first of the videos below, super genius Chief Mark Kessler calls Vietnam war hero, long-time U.S. Senator and now Sec. of State John Kerry a "piece of shit traitor" before continuing with a long string of expletives followed by a long burst from his very manly automatic weapon. But none of that is really the offensive part.
The offensive part is that a Police Chief (or, anyone, frankly) would be so duped by National Rifle Association (NRA) propaganda that they'd actually believe a U.N. Arms Trade Treaty designed to keep arms out of the hands of despotic regimes, human rights abusers, warlords, pirates and drug lords around the world, is designed for --- or would even allow for --- arms to be taken away from the American public or to specifically undermine the 2nd Amendment.
Here's Gilberton's genius Police Chief "informing" his followers. [NOT SAFE FOR WORK!]...
For NRA patsies like Kessler, much less a Police Chief, to be dumb enough, or incurious enough, to not have already learned this on their own, the UN treaty he references (which would still need to be ratified by the U.S. Senate, even if signed by either Kerry or the President of the United States, before it had the force of law), specifically exempts the internal domestic laws of countries that are parties to the treaty.
As clearly noted on the very first page of its preamble, the Arms Trade Treaty [PDF] reads:
It all seems pretty clear, to those able to read, anyway. But that didn't stop the terrorist-enabling NRA's top spokeshole and con-man, Wayne LaPierre, from disinforming the public, his membership, and dupes like Kessler, by loudly proclaiming the treaty does precisely the opposite of what the treaty actually says...
On this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio, I covered both the nation's most extreme voter suppression law in North Carolina (and the facts behind its passage) and the precedent setting verdict in the Bradley Manning case.
But at the heart of it all is something else --- a primal, patriot scream perhaps, as exemplified by the arrest of 83-year old Robert Plummer, Jr. at the state capitol in NC last week (Plummer is a Korean War hero who was also arrested on the Edmund Pettus Bridge with Martin Luther King on Bloody Sunday in Selma, AL during the 1965 march for voting rights, and by the arrests of 80- and 85-year old Joan and Tom Kemble for singing in the Wisconsin state capitol in the same dark week.
The Kembles joined me live on the show to talk about their arrests at the daily sing-along that has been going on every day since Gov. Scott Walker's radical anti-union bill was passed two years ago, and to sing a song or two before their next trip to the pokey for peacefully singing in protest to petition their government for redress of grievances. (Please help all of the WI arrestees pay their legal bills and fines at SolidaritySingAlong.org!)
As usual, there was much more, including Desi Doyen and the latest Green News Report, in between. I hope you'll give it a listen. I think you'll enjoy it.
Download MP3 or listen online below...
It's not only North Carolina which is passing extreme Rightwing laws and then slapping the cuffs on those meddlesome octogenarian war hero delinquents displaying the temerity to exercise their 1st Amendment rights in protest against them.
In Wisconsin, where demonstrators against far Right Republican Governor Scott Walker have been holding a protest sing-along in the state capitol building every single day, without incident, for over two years since the passage of a radical anti-union bill, police have begun to use a similar tactic.
Below is video of Tom and Joan Kemble, the 85- and 80-year old parents of journalist Rebecca Kemble of The Progressive, being hauled away for singing peacefully in the state Capitol last week. Read Kemble's full story here where she notes: "It was awkward to be part of the swarm of journalists crowding around my own parents as the police were closing in on them."
"When Mom was surrounded by cops who were handcuffing the woman next to her and Mom looked her in the eye singing the verse of We Shall Overcome that says, 'We are not afraid,' I burst into tears," writes Kemble. I must admit, so did I when watching the video.
"The courage, care for her friend and incredibly centered and peaceful defiance she showed in the face of the overblown police action was deeply moving," Kemble continued. "And when Mom and Dad were handcuffed and led downstairs singing the words, 'Walker won’t be governor, Walker won’t be governor, Walker won’t be governor someday,' my daughter’s heart swelled with pride."
"So far, seventy-nine Wisconsinites have been arrested and ticketed," at the "Solidarity Sing Along", reports WI native John Nichols at The Nation today, "from 85-year-olds to young moms with kids."
Seriously, what the hell have we come to in this country?!...
[Hat-tip Nicole Desautels Schulte at Facebook.]
UPDATE 8/1/2013: Joan and Tom Kemble were my guests on this week's BradCast. And they even sang for us! Listen here...
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:
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...
Earlier this week, Joe Conason, Editor-in-Chief of The National Memo, tweeted out word that he would be interviewing Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). He was seeking questions for the Senator who has been a member of the Select Intelligence Committee since 2001, and among the most outspoken in his attempts to inform the public of the massive, out-of-control U.S. surveillance state. Wyden offered a detailed speech on this topic earlier this week, as Ernie Canning reported here and as I discussed on this week's BradCast.)
[DISCLOSURE: I contribute articles, from time to time, at National Memo.]
I sent a couple of questions to Conason via Twitter (here and here), and I'm happy to see that, during the course of his interview with Wyden on the surveillance issues, he asked those questions, almost verbatim --- particularly the first one, the answer to which became the basis for National Memo's headline to the interview: "Wyden: How We Forced the NSA to Curtail Email Spying Programs".
The news central to Wyden's answer --- at least it was news to me, since I missed this item if it has otherwise been reported before this --- is that, according to the Senator, "the Obama administration a few weeks ago said that they had closed the [email surveillance] program down for what they called operational reasons."
That would be very good news, if so, and along with this week's debate in the U.S. House, yet another apparent positive outcome to the disclosures of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Here are my two specific questions and Conason's use of them in the interview, along with the answers provided by Wyden...
On this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio, we spent zero time on the royal baby or Anthony Weiner! You're welcome!
Instead, economic policy reporter/muckraker David Dayen joined me for a quick discussion about Obama's "big" economic speech at Knox College in IL on Wednesday afternoon; Then it was on to Sen. Ron Wyden's Tuesday warning about NSA "secret" surveillance laws (and we took a bunch of great listener phone calls along with it); We spent some time on the high-ranking Kentucky election official fraudsters convicted of 156 years but now ordered by an appellate court to receive a new trial and the massive voter suppression legislation moving its way through the North Carolina statehouse; and more!
It was a very lively show! Enjoy!
Download MP3 or listen online below [appx 58 mins]...
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