Recently, The BRAD BLOG criticized the undemocratic features of the new "Top Two" open primary system (aka the "Cajun Primary") in California. The new system, approved via a ballot initiative in 2010, changes the state's primary to system to allow a single, open primary in which the two candidates who receive the highest numbers of votes, go on to face each other in the November general election even if the combined totals of the 'Top Two' do not amount to a majority of votes cast in the primary.
In our critique, we cited the race for the newly created CA-26 Congressional seat where, despite a Democratic Party voter registration advantage, come November, voters may be forced to choose between a 'Tea Party' Republican and a stealth Republican who changed her party registration to independent just days prior to the candidate filing deadline because the two are matched against four Democrats on the June 5 "Top Two" primary ballot.
Our analysis drew criticism in comments from some right-leaning readers claiming our critique was simply a case of sour grapes by a progressive author. But, the state's upcoming U.S. Senate race reveals that the undemocratic potential of the 'Cajun Primary' cuts both ways; that there is a distinct possibility that all Californians, come November, will be forced to choose between the incumbent corporate Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein, and the Occupy Wall Street-connected, computer scientist David Levitt (see video below), who is also a Democrat...
The mainstream media doesn't much seem to be noticing as they chew their cud over and over about Romney Bain this and Obama Birther that, in endlessly looped (non-)"news" cycles, but things are looking pretty good for supporters of Ron Paul these days.
At least in as much as the Paul folks seem to be doing one helluva job of deliberately taking over their party from the inside through a seemingly very smart and certainly persistent and definitely well-organized strategy of taking over local district, county and state party conventions (and even party executive positions), all while seeing to it that Paul delegates get nominated to the Republican National Convention in state after state in the bargain.
What will come of all of those delegates once we get to Tampa remains to be seen. But make no mistake, they will be there and in force, and likely not shy about exercising the same strong (small "d") democratic voice that got them there in the first place. Whether the corporate media has figured out that all of this is newsworthy yet is a different matter. (My bet is that it is.)
But while the persistence of the Ronulans may be paying off with both short and long term political dividends, the democratic process they are participating in itself is also seeing a number of victories, as evidenced by at least one comeuppance to GOP establishment types in the state of Georgia, where we now have a happy-ish ending to a story we reported on earlier this year.
The latest good news resulted in one of the players offering a remark we don't often hear from inside the Republican Party --- at least not by folks who mean it: "This decision re-affirms the party's commitment to fair, open and honest elections"...
Happily HuffPo's Dan Froomkin --- who Tweeted it out this week by noting: "Hey! Did you just feel the campaign finance firmament move? I think Karl Rove did." --- has at least been staying on top of it...
WASHINGTON --- One of the most consequential campaign finance loopholes affecting the 2012 race --- the one allowing big-money donors to secretly funnel millions into campaign ads --- is now closed, after an appellate court ruling on Monday.
In April, a district court judge struck down a Federal Election Commission regulation that allowed donors to certain nonprofit groups --- including those created by Karl Rove and the Koch brothers --- to evade normal disclosure requirements.
"This case represents the first major breakthrough in the effort to restore for the public the disclosure of contributors who are secretly providing massive amounts to influence federal elections," said Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer, one of the lawyers who filed the original lawsuit that led to the April decision, in a statement.
The office of House Administration Committee ranking Democrat Robert A. Brady issued a statement Tuesday saying, "As of today, any entity creating electioneering communications will have to disclose the identity of their top donors."
Now the Rovians have a remarkable ability to slither through newly found loopholes to ensure they are able to continue not doing the right thing when it comes to gaming our embarrassingly obscene campaign finance system. Moreover, election law professor Rick Hasen expects the "stay request to now end up before the Supreme Court, where the outcome may be different."
Nonetheless, this is a very positive development for those who believe in transparency, particularly in the dark infamy of our post-Citizens United world, and I'm amazed, on one hand, that this story isn't being discussed more by the media. On the other hand, given that the corporate media are actually the top beneficiaries of the Citizens United ruling, perhaps I shouldn't be so amazed.
Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker has insisted, publicly and consistently, since the incredibly contentious introduction and eventual passage of his "Budget Repair" legislation early last year, that the need to remove collective-bargaining rights from public sector union workers was necessary only for balancing his state's alleged budgetary woes. It had absolutely nothing to do with breaking the unions, he said time and again, only with balancing the budget.
He maintained as much, even long after the public unions in question had agreed, as they did almost immediately, to concessions in pensions and benefits that would have closed the budget gap Walker pretended to be concerned about.
Opponents, in turn, had long charged that Walker's divisive legislation --- in the birthplace of public sector unions, nonetheless --- was about breaking the back of the unions on behalf of his corporate benefactors.
On Thursday night, video-taped evidence was made public supporting his opponents' contentions that the "Budget Repair" bill was about little more than breaking the unions. In the video, the Governor is seen, just before introducing the legislation in January of last year, speaking with local billionaire Diane Hendricks --- who eventually gave more money to Walker than any politician has ever received from one person in the state.
He is seen discussing his plan to "divide and conquer" public employee unions as part of his budget bill, in response to her direct questions about whether Wisconsin would ever be "completely red" and become a so-called "Right to Work" state. He went on to discuss his admiration for Indiana's Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels who, he said, was able to do away with unions "through executive order."
Walker laments that he is forced to do it legislatively in the Badger State, "So I need lawmakers to vote on it. But the key is by tying it to the budget," he says.
The conversation is seen in a new film by documentary filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein whose film, As Goes Janesville, is set to be released later this year on HBO. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Walker's opponent in next month's recall election, has already used part of the bombshell video in the following campaign ad...
Good news for democracy. Bad news for the GOP deceivers and the billionaire sociopaths, like the Koch brothers, who fund them. Missouri's courts have shown that their state's nickname, "The Show-Me State," is apropos.
In Weinschenk v. State (2006), the MO Supreme Court struck down a GOP-enacted polling place photo ID law because it violated the Equal Protection clause of the MO Constitution which treats voting as a "fundamental right." It recognized a compelling governmental interest in preventing voter fraud, but observed that "the Photo-ID Requirement is intended to prevent only impersonation of a registered voter and will not affect absentee ballot or registration fraud."
As the GOP could not muster evidence of in-person impersonation, they failed to establish that their 2006 Photo ID law was narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling governmental interest. The Court, in Weinschenk, based on the facts presented, also determined that the 2006 GOP Photo ID law operated as an unconstitutional poll tax, thereby violating the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
But since when have Republicans hell-bent on undermining our system of electoral democracy let a few negative court rulings or fundamental Constitutional rights stand in their way?...
Then I was joined by Sacramento, CA Registrar of Voters Jill Lavine to discuss the thousands of fraudulent voter registration forms turned in by the GOP-hired firmed Momentum Political Services, as we detailed late last week. Lavine tells me that she's confident that in her nine years as Registrar, there has been no in-person impersonation at the polling place, despite the continuing pattern of GOP voter registration fraud in the state and the Republican push to disenfranchise (largely Democratic) voters by claiming, disingenuously, that polling place Photo ID restrictions have anything to do with "voter fraud".
We then enjoyed a quick visit with the lovely Desi Doyen from the Green News Report, fresh off her guest-hosting gig this afternoon on The Young Turks (I'll try to post that video soon!)
Finally, since it's called The BradCast, I was joined by Brad Jacobson to discuss his terrifying new report at Alternet on the "ticking time-bomb" that is the precarious Spent Fuel Pool --- now fully exposed, 100 feet off the ground in a listing building --- at Fukushima Daiichi's reactor #4. His report should scare the hell out of you. It certainly does me. And the scariest part: It's being covered by virtually nobody in the mainstream corporate media. I guess that's what The BradCast is for.
Pretty big news here. Barack Obama has finally decided to do the right thing by standing up for marriage equality directly. While it took long enough, he now has the distinction of being the first President in the history of the U.S. to do so. This is also another reminder that politicians don't lead, they follow. You lead. So keep up the good work!
Getting ready for my KPFK/Pacifica Show today, so no time for more commentary at the moment. Here's ABC, who broke the news within the hour. Here's TPM's take. And here's the video clip of the President this afternoon acknowledging: "I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married"...
The key section from ABC's transcript...
I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.
Rights will always win. It takes time. But they will always, eventually win.
Last week, The BRAD BLOG's legal analyst Ernest Canning reported on the lawsuit filed by the League of Women Voters, the NAACP and the ACLU in Pennsylvania, together with the Homeless Advocacy Project and the Advancement Project, against the state Republicans' new polling place Photo ID restriction passed into law in March.
The law, unless it's blocked, is set to make it much harder, if not impossible for many previously-legal student, elderly, minority and urban dwelling voters to cast their vote this November.
Canning predicts, however, that, like a similar GOP law in Wisconsin this year, and one in Missouri back in 2006, the new attempt to remove voting rights will be found in violation of the fundamental right to vote guaranteed under Pennsylvania's state Constitution. We'll see if he's correct.
In the meantime, the lawsuit, Applewhite vs Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [PDF] names 11 plaintiffs, the majority of whom have tried to get a birth certificate in order to then obtain their so-called "free" ID to vote from the state under the new law --- only to be told there is no record of their births. Several of those plaintiffs, not surprisingly, were born in the Jim Crow south and are now facing the forces of disenfranchisement again under the GOP law this year even up in the Keystone State in 2012.
Last week, MSNBC's Al Sharpton interviewed the lead plaintiff in the complaint, 92-year old Viviette Applewhite who marched for civil rights alongside Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Georgia, and who has been voting in Presidential elections without a problem for more than 50 years. She has never had a driver's license and, though she says she paid a fee for a birth certificate from the state, she has never received it.
Despite the fact that state officials have been unable to produce evidence of in-person, polling place impersonation --- the only type of voter fraud that could possibly be deterred by polling place Photo ID laws --- Republicans seem more than happy to disenfranchise long-time voters like Applewhite and potentially tens of thousands of others this year.
Applewhite says she believes it's all little more than an effort to stop President Obama from being re-elected, and she fears there are far more people than many realize who will be disenfranchised this year unless the law is overturned.
"Looks like most of the people in my building, they're senior citizens, but they don't have the proper thing to vote with," she says near the end of the interview, "and it's going to be a whole lotta people that's not going to be able to vote"...
Judith Browne Dianis, civil rights litigator at the Advancement Project also appears in the interview above and correctly notes: "This is not about preventing fraud, it's about preventing voting."
She is supported in that contention, ironically enough, by PA's Republican Governor Tom Corbett, seen in a clip above exhorting his supporters to help him keep turnout below 50% during his recent election. Moreever, just after Corbett signed the GOP's voter suppression bill in March, he lied to the media by claiming that it was needed since Pennsylvanians had seen 112% voter turnout in some precincts. Longtime election watchdog Marybeth Kuznick of VotePA, however, told us the Governor's claim was "ludicrous."
For more on the plaintiffs in the PA complaint who are facing disenfranchisement for the first time in their lives --- folks like 59-year old Wilola Shinholster Lee, 72-year old Grover Freeland, 86-year old Dorothy Barksdale and 93-year old Bea Booker --- and why Ernie Canning predicts the new legal challenge will be successful in the Keystone State, see his report from last week right here.
92-year old Viviette Applewhite, 59-year old Wilola Shinholster Lee, 72-year old Grover Freeland, 86-year old Dorothy Barksdale and 93-year old Bea Booker are just a few of the Pennsylvania residents and long-time legal voters now fighting to retain their right to vote under the state GOP's new polling place Photo ID restrictions, according to a new lawsuit filed this week in the Keystone State.
The complaint goes on to argue that "there are countless other Pennsylvanians like them [some 80-90,000 according to the state's own data], who will lose the most cherished of all rights, the right to vote, unless the Photo ID Law is declared unconstitutional."
There is now, indeed, a very good chance that the law will, in fact, be declared unconstitutional according to The BRAD BLOG's analysis of the complaint, the state constitution and prior rulings in similar cases.
PA is just the latest of more than a dozen states over the past year where Republican-controlled legislatures and executive mansions have instituted voter disenfranchising polling place Photo ID restrictions. Governor Tom Corbett signed his state's bill into law in March, and promptly lied about his reasons for supporting the removal of voting rights for those lacking Photo ID on Election Day, claiming, without evidence, that some precincts in the state had 112% voter turnout in recent elections. As we reported at the time, that charge was dismissed as "ludicrous" and without evidence by a longtime state election integrity expert.
Nonetheless, "Act 18" has become the law of the land in Pennsylvania, for now, and, unless successfully challenged, will require that voters present a state-issued Photo ID when voting at the polling place in this year's November Presidential election for the very first time.
For the identical reasons that The BRAD BLOG accurately predicted that the League of Women Voters' legal challenge to a polling place Photo ID restriction law under similar provisions of the Wisconsin's Constitution would prevail (absent a political intervention from the Badger State's extraordinarily partisan Supreme Court), we also predict that new legal challenge filed this week in PA, attempting to block the state's draconian polling place Photo ID law, will similarly succeed...
The formerly-gagged FBI translator-turned-whistleblower's new memoir is 'a masterpiece revealing corruption and unaccountability in Washington, D.C.' and 'a rotten barrel of toxic waste that will sooner or later infect us all'...
[Ed Note: The BRAD BLOG has been reporting on the remarkable story of Sibel Edmonds since the darkest days of 2005 and in nearly 100 articles since then. Once described by the ACLU as the "the most gagged person in the history of the United States of America", the Iranian-born former FBI translator fought to blow the whistle on traitorous deception and cover-up inside the FBI, blackmail inside the U.S. Congress and startling allegations of espionage and nuclear secrets sold to U.S. enemies on the foreign black market by some of our nation's highest ranking officials.
In 2007, after the Supreme Court had refused to hear her case thanks to the Bush Administration's persistent use of the so-called "State Secrets Privilege," legendary "Pentagon Papers" whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg told The BRAD BLOG her allegations were "far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers" on the heels of her exclusive announcement on these pages that she would break her gag order to tell all to any major U.S. media outlet who would allow her a platform to do so.
Even though CBS' 60 Minutes had covered her story in 2002 when she was not allowed to speak, they showed no interest once she promised to do so anyway, leading Ellsberg to guest blog here decrying the American media as "complicit in cover-up". It took the UK's Sunday Times (a Rupert Murdoch property!) to finally break some of her most explosive allegations publicly in 2008, which outed CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson would describe as "stunning".
Finally, her 3-hour long video-taped deposition, in answer to a subpoena in someone else's lawsuit in the summer of 2009, once Obama had come to power and declined to re-invoke the "State Secrets Privilege" against her, allowed the full story to begin to come out.
Now, after waiting more than 340 days for the FBI's pre-clearance review of her memoir --- they are supposed to do so within 30 days --- Edmonds has decided to release her own story, in full, without their prior approval or redactions. We've now got our own copy of her new book, Classified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story, but our colleague, author and activist David Swanson has happily beaten us to reading it in full and has generously offered us his own review which follows below. - BF]
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Sibel Edmonds' new book, Classified Woman, is like an FBI file on the FBI, only without the incompetence.
The experiences she recounts resemble K.'s trip to the castle, as told by Franz Kafka, only without the pleasantness and humanity.
I've read a million reviews of nonfiction books about our government that referred to them as "page-turners" and "gripping dramas," but I had never read a book that actually fit that description until now...
There have been a few pieces of noteworthy news out of Wisconsin over the last few days in advance of their recall election primaries on May 8th (one week from Tuesday) and the recall general elections on June 5th. Some is largely positive for fans of democracy, but some of it, however, is both puzzling and a bit disturbing.
In the upcoming contests, Republican Gov. Scott Walker, his Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and the seats of four Republican state Senators will all face a referendum by the citizenry at the ballot box. The historic elections come more than a year after the GOP took over all branches of state government during the 2010 wave election before proceeding to release the Kraken spark a popular uprising through the tyranny of Big Government removal of a number of citizen rights --- such as collective-bargaining and voting --- along with the heavy-handed implementation of a number of other extreme Rightwing policies.
Here's are several of those late developments --- not concerning the horse races, but concerning the actual track conditions for those races...
[Now UPDATED with audio archives from tonight's show below!]
Mike's got the night off, so we're back in tonight guest-hosting the nationally-syndicated Mike Malloy Show on your public airwaves, on the Internet (streaming links below) and on SiriusXM ch. 127!
As usual, we'll be BradCasting, LIVE from 9pm-Mid ET (6p-9p PT), coast-to-coast and around the globe from L.A.'s KTLK am1150 in beautiful downtown Burbank. Join us by tuning in, chatting in, Tweeting in and calling in! Our LIVE chat room will be up and rolling right here at The BRAD BLOG, as usual, while we are on the air. Please stop by and join the fun while you're listening! (The Chat Room will open at the bottom of this item a few minutes before airtime, see down below, just above "Comments" section.)
"If we play Russian Roulette with the Supreme Court," Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) said during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, "if we confirm a nominee who has not demonstrated a commitment to core constitutional values, we jeopardize our rights as individuals and the future of our nation."
"We cannot undo such a mistake at the next election or even in the next generation," he warned. Too bad more of his Democratic colleagues failed to listen.
With four of the nine Supreme Court Justices now in their seventies, and the GOP Senate minority having bottled-up the Obama administration's nominations to the federal trial and intermediate appellate courts, the decision by the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, to select Robert Bork (see video below), founder of the ultra-radical, right-wing billionaire-funded Federalist Society as his chief legal adviser has turned the 2012 Presidential election into a new, and far more serious game of "Russian Roulette" --- one that would give the same forces that were behind the Bush v. Gore judicial coup and the infamous Citizens United decision a super majority on the Supreme Court.
The harm to the rule of law that would accompany the expansion from four
Supreme Court radicals in robes to seven could not be remedied, as Kennedy warned, by "the next election or even in the next generation"...
Today on KPFK/Pacifica Radio's The BradCast I interviewed Joyce Block (seen at right), the 90-year old Doylestown, PA resident who has voted legally for 70 years, without fail and without a problem until this year, when the GOP's new polling place Photo ID restriction law threatens to disenfranchise her and so many others like her.
Her story is all the more remarkable considering she was born just two years after the 19th Amendment was ratified, giving women the right to vote --- at least until now. She is a pistol and more than ready for the fight! We were also joined by her grandson-in-law Det Ansinn, the Doylestown Borough Council president who has been working like hell to try and see that Block will be able to vote this year.
Earlier this week, I wrote about Block's remarkable story and the difficulty she's had in receiving one of the so-called "free" IDs, under the new restriction, that would allow her to vote this year, despite all of the paper work she presented to prove that she was who she said she was after a 30 minute-trip to the DMV (thanks to Ansinn!) Today, we got an update on her story, and it includes a bit of good news...sort of.
We were also joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report, and some good callers, including one who wanted to challenge me on gun rights. So I obliged him...