Standing up to the NRA after Roanoke, horrifying U.S. gun death toll; PLUS: Denying global warming on Katrina's 10th anniversary; Trump's ugly nativism; Good news for Dems; Marriage dead-enders in KY...
55-year old former U.S. Marine Tim Thompson was turned away from the polls today, Super Tuesday 2012, in the state of Tennessee, after refusing to present a photo ID before voting, as required by a new law recently passed by Republicans.
Thompson was documented by videographers attempting to cast his vote under the new polling place Photo ID restrictions instituted by TN's Republican-majority legislature and signed into law last year by the state's Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.
The former Lance Corporal, who left the service in 1978, has lived in Nashville since 2004 when he first cast his vote at the same precinct where he was turned away today. In an act of protest, planned in advance and video-taped by a number of media outlets, Thompson refused to show any more than the voter registration card he has previously used for voting in the state.
Video of the confrontation that ensued is posted below.
"This is my voter registration card," Thompson said as he challenged the poll supervisor. "I've used this for 37 years. This was good enough for my father. This was good enough for my grandfather, and I refuse to show you a picture ID"...
"When you let university administrators or other employers rather than women and their doctors dictate whose medical needs are legitimate and whose are not, a woman’s health takes a back seat to a bureaucracy focused on policing her body." - Georgetown Univ. Law Student, Sandra Fluke
One unfortunate aspect of the firestorm surrounding Rush Limbaugh's profoundly uninformed, deceptive and misogynistic vitriol and calls for accountability for the Rightwing radio blowhard, is that it has completely overshadowed the substance of Fluke's testimony on the importance of access to prescription contraceptives to women's health.
The Limbaugh firestorm has also overshadowed the fact that the American Taliban (aka the elected Tea Party House Republicans) prevented Fluke from testifying at a House Oversight Committee hearing, framed by the Republican majority as a hearing on "religious freedom", because, as the Washington Post described, "she was not a member of the clergy."
Indeed, while much is made of the fact that the first panel at the 2/16/12 House Oversight Committee examining an issue vital to women's health was all-male, few have taken note that it was also all-clergy. In opening the hearing, Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) announced: "Today, the committee will hear testimony from leaders of different faiths."
Not only did the right-wing GOP House leaders fail to so much as recognize Fluke's right to be heard, but, according to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (see video embedded in above-linked Washington Post article), they also refused to permit House Democrats to use the House Recording Studio as part of an effort to try and prevent the public from seeing and hearing Fluke's testimony at all. Instead, Pelosi and the Democrats of the Democratic Steering Committee were forced to hold a separate, unofficial "forum", in order to hear Fluke's testimony.
The video of Fluke's opening statement, the testimony that Republicans sought to prevent from being heard at all, is now posted below.
But it is the larger, arguably more disturbing constitutional ramifications of the actions of House Republicans that we'd like to take a moment to highlight on, as they have been almost entirely overlooked in this unnecessary brouhaha...
Late on Friday, the U.S. Dept. of Justice filed an objection in Washington D.C. federal court to new laws limiting voting and voter registration rights in the state of Florida. TPM's Ryan Reilly broke the news just before midnight last night.
The DoJ is said to be calling for a trial in the D.C. court, where the state of Florida had previously filed suit in order to avoid the federal "preclearance" process under the Voting Rights Process for its new restrictive election laws. The new laws institute harsh penalties for third-party voter registration organizations and individuals who fail to turn in new voter registration forms to elections officials within 48 hours of them being completed. The statute would also cut early voting hours nearly in half.
The new voter registration restrictions, passed by Republicans in the state following the 2010 election, has led groups like the non-partisan Florida League of Women Voters, which had been registering new voters in the state for some 70 years, to cancel their registration program citing stiff new penalties which, they say, put the organization and its registration workers at great legal risk. Both the Florida LWV and Rock the Vote, which focuses on voter registration for young voters, have previously filed their own lawsuit challenging the Constitutionality of the new voter registration laws in the state of Florida.
Over the past several months, a number of high-school teachers, incredibly enough, have been charged under the new law for registering their own students to vote. Last November, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow covered the topic in an interview with the Supervisor of Elections of Volusia County, FL, who, though she is a Republican, said she felt "sick to her stomach" after being forced to turn in one of those teachers to law enforcement officials.
On Thursday night, Comedy Central's The Colbert Report ran a somewhat more amusing, if equally disturbing, take on the issue, focusing on one of the teacher's snagged by Florida law enforcement for "voter registration fraud" under the draconian new restrictions...
Section 5 the Voting Rights Act (VRA), requires certain jurisdictions, including parts or all of 16 different states with a history of racial discrimination, to receive "preclearance" from the DoJ for all new election-related laws, or otherwise receive approval for the new laws from the federal district court in D.C. During the DoJ preclearance process for Florida's new laws, the agency requested more information about them from the state, which includes five difference "covered" counties. Instead of responding, Florida decided to avoid DoJ judgment all together by taking their case directly to the D.C. court instead.
According to TPM's Reilly, the DoJ stated in their filing in that same court last night...
Last September's hearings before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights established that polling place photo ID restriction laws have nothing to do with eliminating "voter fraud."
They are, instead, part of what Judith Browne Dianis, a civil rights litigator at The Advancement Project, described at the time as the "largest legislative effort to roll back voting rights since the post-Reconstruction era" --- part of the partisan, multi-state effort by the billionaire Koch brothers-funded, Paul Weyrich co-founded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-fueled GOP exercise in voter suppression. Her testimony established, yet again, that such laws have a disparate impact upon minorities, the poor, the elderly and students (all of whom happen to have the unfortunate tendency of voting Democratic).
Despite the national nature of this coordinated, well-documented and well-funded assault on minority voting rights, so far the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) has confined its legal response to such newly-enacted laws to only the small number of "covered" jurisdictions, for example, South Carolina, that are subject to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). That section of the law requires federal preclearance for new election-related laws in those "covered" jurisdictions, since they each have demonstrated a long history of racial discrimination.
The narrow action taken by the DoJ to date, as based only on Section 5 of the VRA, could all change if they took the time to study the content of the new complaint, Jones v. Deininger [PDF], as filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. The complaint alleges that Wisconsin's new polling place photo ID law ("Act 23") "is a voter suppression law that burdens African-American and Latino voters most heavily [which]...results in them having 'less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice,' and, thereby, constitutes a denial and abridgment of their right to vote in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act."
The complaint in Jones, which was signed by attorney Charles T. Curtis, Jr. of Arnold & Porter, LLP, seeks to enjoin the implementation of Wisconsin's Act 23 and a declaration that it violates Section 2 of the VRA. When asked whether he contemplates seeking a preliminary injunction on the new law prior to the next election, Curtis was only able to tell The BRAD BLOG at this time that they "want to move the case as quickly as the Court will allow, and plan to request a pretrial conference to discuss motion and briefing schedules."
The additional question remains, however, will the U.S. DoJ defend federal law by opting to join this lawsuit as a plaintiff?...
[Now UPDATED with audio archives below! Enjoy 'em!]
Mike has the night off! So we're back tonight guest-hosting the nationally-syndicated Mike Malloy Show! And it's primary night in MI and AZ and we'll have not one, but two Presidential candidates as guests tonight!
We'll be BradCasting, as usual, 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.)
Scheduled tonight (so far):
MI & AZ PRIMARY RESULTS, or what they are reported to be, anyway. Also, just some of the reasons why you should be concerned that those reported results may not be what they are reported to be!
GOV. BUDDY ROEMER, who is on GOP Presidential ballot both MI & AZ tonight, but who has recently left the party for a Reform Party candidacy and a run for the Americans Elect nomination.
POST-SHOW UPDATE: Maybe someone had a bit too much caffeine today. Well, in any case, it led to a pretty high energy show! And lots of circus music! You can check it all out now for yourself, sans commercials, in the high-octane archives now posted below. Enjoy!...
I actually didn't mean this to be a commercial. I was simply going to share Mike Malloy's brief "Podcast Trivia" question from last Friday night's show since I found it so hilarious and a classic example of why a free world needs Mike Malloy.
In grabbing it from the archives to post the segment here, I also heard his earlier plea for folks to consider subscribing to the Mike Malloy Show podcasts to help the show continue to stay on the air. So I've tacked that to the front of the clip I'd planned to run here below.
I hope you willconsider subscribing, if only as a way to help support Progressive Radio over our public airwaves, since those airwaves have been, by and large, "bought" up by mega-corporations who have removed all true market competition from them (here's just one recent, appalling example), and we have a government either too cowardly or too corrupt to protect them for its citizenry.
So it's up to folks like you and me to do whatever we can. Thanks in advance for your help!
And now, here's the clip that had me LOL'ing on the way home from dinner last Friday night, along with the quick plea from Malloy added to the top. Don't worry. The whole thing is barely four minutes long...
FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a regular guest host for the Mike Malloy Show, and will be filling in once again this Tuesday night (9p-Mid ET), on the night of the Michigan and Arizona primaries. If the gods are with us, I'll have not one, but two different Presidential candidates as my guests that night! So I hope you'll tune in! As ever, we'll have streaming audio links (and a live chat room) during showtime right here at The BRAD BLOG, if you're not lucky enough to live in a town where you can hear Mike Malloy, for free, over our public airwaves (or haven't chosen to pay money to hear him on SiriusXM's channel 127.)
While the GOP and its operatives have been on a tear over the last year (and many more), falsely claiming an epidemic of Democratic "voter fraud" meriting the potential disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of legal (and mostly Democratic) voters through polling place Photo ID restriction laws in order stop it, the recent spate of actual voter fraud by high profile Republicans --- both alleged-with-much-evidence and actually-proven-in-a-court-of-law --- continues apace.
And, like White, those draconian laws did absolutely nothing to stop Lugar from apparently committing voter fraud under the law, since the only type of voter fraud potentially deterred by polling place Photo ID laws are the incredibly rare cases of in-person polling place impersonation. Where voter fraud occurs to any measurable extent, it is in cases like Lugar's, White's, and all of the GOP superstars we'll remind you of again below.
The allegations against Lugar, who has been registered to vote at a house he has not lived in since 1977, were detailed quickly Tuesday night on the Rachel Maddow Show. A complaint against Lugar has been filed by a group of Indiana "Tea Partiers" challenging his eligibility for office, as publicized last week by Lugar's primary opponent in the 2012 election, Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock.
Maddow's report, embedded below, was the prelude to her interview with independent Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Sanders is one of four non-Republican U.S. Senators who have now requested a study by the non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the problem of "voter fraud" in this nation, particularly in the 14 states where Republican legislatures have recently passed polling place Photo ID restrictions under the pretense of stopping it. If that study finds what all of the other legitimate ones have found to date, we'll learn yet again how extraordinarily rare in-person voter fraud is and, at the same time, how many thousands and/or millions of Americans stand to be disenfranchised by the very laws that Republicans pretend are meant to deter it.
Here's her report...
And, by way of service to those who may yet to have noticed, here again is an update of our quick summary of the recent (and quickly growing!) spate of serious fraud allegations and convictions of a number of very high-profile Republicans other than Lugar. The list, please note, also includes several of this year's GOP candidates currently vying for the party's nomination for President of the United States...
On Tuesday, a divided three judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that California's Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage --- a right that had otherwise previously existed for same sex couples in the state --- violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The majority opinion in Perry vs. Brown [PDF] this week decided an issue that was so narrow and so tightly crafted to meet the criteria of a 1996 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Romer v. Evans, that it minimized the chances that the U.S. Supreme Court will decide to hear the case, let alone reverse the decision.
As we examine the future course of the Prop 8 litigation, it's appropriate, if only briefly --- while this particular issue remains far away in the rear view mirror --- to offer a reminder of the still unresolved question as to whether CA voters actually approved the controversial measure at the ballot box in the first place...
The fully-militarized, post-9/11 Big Government Police State in these United States continues unabated, even as we've had to turn our attention here, of late, away from the Occupy Movement to cover the pretend democracy known as the 2012 Presidential Race.
This time, the OPD upped the ante by arresting some six journalists --- in violation of both Quan's previous (apparently pretend) directives, as well as the Department's own supposed procedures --- even as each of the journos claim to have clearly identified themselves as members of the media prior to being detained nonetheless. (At least the OPD didn't shoot at them this time.)
Among those six journalists attempting to do their jobs, was Mother Jones' Gavin Aronsen, who has been covering the Occupy movement on the ground in Oakland and San Francisco for months. He is a superb journalist who I had the privilege of working closely with last year in the course of my "Secret Koch Tapes" exclusives that I ran at MoJo in September.
Here's Aronsen's appalling account of what happened before and after his arrest on Saturday in Oakland. It includes this passage near the end for additional context (and for those who pretend to care about the Constitution, who I will get to in a minute):
"The Bay Area Occupy movement has got to stop using Oakland as their playground," Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said in a statement during last night's arrests that made no mention of her police department's lack of regard for journalists' First Amendment protections. Last week, the United States dropped 27 spots in Reporters Without Borders' annual press freedom index due to police treatment of journalists covering the Occupy Wall Street movement. By Josh Stearns's count, more than three dozen reporters have been arrested since the movement began last year in Manhattan.
Oakland isn't the only Occupy hot-spot where police appear to be continuing to abuse their Big Government powers to violently strip private citizens of their Constitutional rights. In Washington D.C., one of the few cities where Occupy encampments, until now, have been allowed to remain in place, police have announced that will be coming to an end as of a Monday deadline. Today.
To prepare for their big day, over the weekend the D.C. Police distributed "eviction notices" and warmed up their Tasers, as seen in this outrageous video shot on Sunday in our nation's capitol...
Had that ever happened to one --- just one --- so-called "Tea Partier", this nation would likely have descended into an all-out shooting civil war by now. Yet similar police abuses have been seen against Occupiers in state after state.
Such that what is seen in the video above, and the other acts mentioned, were done to fellow citizens whose Constitutional Rights the "Tea Party" doesn't give two shits about, their fake "grass roots" "movement", apparently, couldn't care less about any of these clear cases of the very "Big Government Tyranny" and stripping of Constitutional rights that they have long been allowed to pretend they give a damn about. They don't. They care about nothing more than electing Republicans to office. Period. The Constitution has absolutely nothing to do with any of it.
The title of historian Kevin Phillips' otherwise excellent work, Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich, is somewhat misleading. With the exception of constitutional monarchies, which preclude royalty from all but figurehead status, democracy and the concentration of great wealth cannot co-exist in the same society.
If citizens can see past the corporate media-erected contest of personalities so as to examine how it reflects the undemocratic structure of our society, the 2012 Presidential election can provide us with a teachable moment of great value. This is true whether we examine the flood of SuperPAC monies, courtesy of the now infamous Citizens United decision, the striking similarities in their methodology of wealth acquisition depicted both in the 1987 movie Wall Street through its fictional Gordon Gekko and in real life by Bain Capital and Mitt Romney, the ridiculously low 13.9% federal taxes on Romney's $21.7 million income in 2010, his extensive Goldman Sachs holdings and as much as $32 million maintained in off-shore accounts, or the fact that only one, essentially marginalized Presidential candidate in either of the two major political parties --- Ron Paul --- is willing to discuss an end to perpetual war and our global military presence.
Here, Mitt "Gordon Gekko" Romney provides the principle focus, not because of personality, or "envy", but because his candidacy affords an opportunity to explore the inconsistency between wealth and democracy...
No, we didn't go looking for these stories, just happened to come across them. So perhaps there are others out there that we missed this week. Perhaps there is evidence of Democratic extremists similarly targeting Republicans with brutal violence and threats of brutal violence. If so, we haven't seen it.
This all takes place on the very same week in which Arizona's Democratic Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was finally forced to resign from the U.S. House of Representatives while she attempts to continue recovering her brain function after being shot in the head and nearly killed just over one year ago this month in Tucson, AZ (Not far from where the cop near Phoenix proudly posted the bullet-ridden photo of Obama). While six others were killed during the same incident in Tucson, as the shooter used a legal weapon allowing him to get off some 30 shots per clip, federal and state lawmakers have failed to do a damned thing about any of it.
At the end of a January 3rd's Caucus Night in Iowa, our headline, written initially when Rick Santorum was momentarily up over Romney by just 4 votes, was "Santorum 'Wins' Iowa, Everyone Else Doesn't". An hour or so after we'd called it a night, the Iowa GOP stepped forward to declare Romney, not Santorum, had actually "won" by a slim 8 votes out of some 122,000 cast.
Finally today, the GOP has been forced to admit that Santorum was indeed the winner. Though our headline three Tuesday's ago was just slightly more accurate than the GOP's declaration for Romney that night. In truth, there was another winner in Iowa: The Voters.
It took just over two weeks for the GOP to admit it, but the party's final reported results from the hand-marked paper ballots cast on January 3rd, hand-counted in front of the public on Election Night (cast by voters who were not turned away for lack of a state-issued Photo ID) are there to tell the tail of who really won the all-important "First-in-the-Nation" Iowa Caucuses. The GOP couldn't have successfully lied about it if they'd wanted to. Oh, they could have tried. In fact, they did as Iowa's GOP chair Matthew Strawn announced just after 1p ET "Congratulations to Governor Mitt Romney, winner of the 2012 Iowa Caucuses." And the corporate media would have gone along with them --- and, in fact, they did, ever since the GOP's attempted lie on Election Night --- but the truth would have always been there for the public to see nonetheless.
Nobody ever had to rest their faith on a single source, like a political party or a candidate or a voting machine company --- though the media was all too happy to do so before moving on to New Hampshire. There was always a transparent, overseeable, system of checks and balances --- just as our Constitution envisions for the nation's governance as a whole --- there to assure that self-governance had a fighting chance to be more than a bumper sticker slogan hauled out when convenient, ignored when not.
Because the Iowa GOP allowed the people to oversee the counting of their own election, right then and there at the caucus sites, before ballots were moved anywhere, it was next to impossible for them to successfully game the system --- just as Edward True had proven two nights after the Jan 3rd Caucuses.
And speaking of Edward True, the Republican Party of Iowa owes this man, this patriot, this Ron Paul supporter a huge apology...
I admit it, I was skeptical they could even come up with the 540k they needed to trigger a recall election of the Republican anti-union Gov. Scott Walker in the Badger State, much less the 720k that was their goal. But they did. And then some. And then a whole lot more, actually.
Wisconsin Democrats announced Tuesday that they have collected over a million signatures to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker — nearly twice the 540,208 signatures, or 25 percent of the total votes in the previous election for governor, needed to trigger a new election.
The Dems are also submitting separate petitions for: Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (845,000 signatures, showing some amount of drop-off from the Walker papers, but still well above the same 540,208 threshold); State Sen. Pam Galloway; State Sen. Terry Moulton; State Sen. Van Wanggaard; and state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (who was not originally a top target of the state party, but against whom the local Walker-recall organizers took the extra initiative).
They really must not like that Walker guy or something. Special kudos to Lori Compas of RecallFitz.com for taking the extra initiative to lead the effort to put Fitzgerald's job on the line as well. As noted above, the state Democratic Party hadn't targeted the Senate Majority Leader, who was thought to be in a safely Republican district. Compas felt otherwise and decided to take action on her own without the backing of the party. That action appears to have been wildly successful, so far. (I interviewed Compas on the Mike Malloy Show back in December just before Christmas. That interview is here.)
For his part, Walker said in response to the more-than-one-million of his constituents who want him fired: "I expect Wisconsin voters will stand with me and keep moving Wisconsin forward."
For my part, I'm deeply buried in a mess of a story in an entirely different state right now. So, for the moment, I'm happy to pass you on over to Kleefeld's coverage for more on what comes next in the process. Suffice to say, this busy year is going to be much busier than planned. For everybody.
How out of touch are some in Congress? This out of touch...
In the fight against the federal Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) working it's way through Congress --- a bill with bi-partisan support, but opposed by many in the Internet community who charge that it will result in government censorship and the dampening of free speech --- the hacktivist collective Anonymous has launched "Operation Hiroshima" against governmental and corporate supporters of the bill.
The group has now posted some personal information of Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes and Viacom/CBS' Sumner Redstone online, and several lawmakers and their aides have also become targets of the worldwide citizens brigade of "outlaw" hackers.
One 25-year-old Congressional aide’s face was superimposed on to pornographic images by a purportedly ‘Anonymous’-affiliated group. Another aide expressed bafflement as to why hackers would resort to these types of tactics, saying, “Why can’t they just hire a lobbyist like everyone else?”
[Now UPDATED with tonight's nightmarish audio archives below! Enjoy!!!]
Mike has the night off! So we're back! Guest hosting the nationally-syndicated Mike Malloy Show on Friday the 13th! It's a Nightmare on Malloy Street!...
We'll be BradCasting all the horror LIVE from 9pm-Mid ET (6p-9p PT), coast-to-coast and around the uprising globe from the studios of 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.)
Scheduled tonight (so far):
YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE! Me! With three hours over our public airwaves to talk about Iowa, New Hampshire & South Carolina voting nightmares! The nightmare that is Election 2012! And other related and unrelated nightmares!
GRAEME ZIELINSKI, Spokesman from the Wisconsin state Democratic Party, with some late breaking news on the "Recall Scott Walker" effort in the Badger State!
PLUS! The fraud that is James O'Keefe; the "cold" War against Iran; the failure that is the NY Times; the GOP wants more corporate money in campaigns; and all the nightmares on your minds, via your calls over your public airwaves at 877-520-1150 and your tweets to @TheBradBlog!...
POST-SHOW UPDATE: Tonight's show was a NIGHTMARE! Don't believe me? You can now listen to the full show, sans commercials, in the archives posted below. (You can also read the nightmarish chat room archives below too!) Be afraid...Be very afraid!...