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...|
Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
Republicans in state after state across the country today, Memorial Day 2011, are remembering those who fought and died to protect our democracy by celebrating recent victories in their renewed effort to remove the right to vote for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of legal American voters.
It's been just days since we filed "GOP Voter Suppression Shifts Into High Gear in State After State as 'Tea Party' Shell Game Exposed" on May 23, detailing new GOP-passed polling place Photo ID restrictions in states like SC and FL, but since then we can report that Gov. Rick Perry (R) signed a bill legalizing polling place photo ID restrictions in TX and Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed a photo ID restriction bill in WI.
Both of them, as opponents have documented over and over again, will serve to do little more than to disenfranchise far more legal (largely Democratic-leaning) voters than those who will be kept from fraudulently impersonating other voters at the polling place, which, as even most proponents admit when forced, happens almost never --- if it all.
Thankfully in at least one instance since our last report, Gov. Mark Dayton (D) of MN vetoed a photo ID measure passed by Republicans in his state. So there is one case, at least, where the memories of our fallen soldiers might be appropriately honored this weekend, as one governor has remembered to protect the very thing that so many of them died for.
Despite the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the enactment of Indiana's photo ID law in Crawford vs. Marion County Election Bd. (2008), both the new WI photo ID law, which may cost WI taxpayers $7 million to implement, and both the SC and TX photo ID laws, which do not even recognize student photo IDs, may be subject to significant legal challenges...
At the time, the Chicago Tribune warned its readers: “Medicare trustees reported Wednesday that the program's financial outlook is getting worse, touching off a new round of debate over the future of the federal health insurance system for the elderly and disabled. According to the trustees, who give the program a fiscal checkup every year, the fund that pays Medicare hospital bills dipped into the red last year and will go broke in early 2001. That's a year earlier than they predicted in 1995.”
Sound familiar? How about these warnings:
Chicago Tribune July 2, 1969: “The Medicare hospital trust fund faces bankruptcy by 1976 and taxes must either be raised or benefits reduced the senate finance committee was told today.”
Washington Post, April 1, 1986: “The Medicare hospital insurance program faces bankruptcy by 1996, two years earlier than projected last year.”
New York Times, January 20, 1985: In the last few years, when it appeared that the Medicare trust fund would run out of money in 1987-89... But the need seemed less urgent after the Congressional Budget Office issued new estimates last September indicating that the Medicare trust fund would not go bankrupt until 1994.
(Hat tip to Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn who culled eighteen stories from the Tribune, the Washington Post and the New York Times over a period of four decades, each predicting that the Medicare Hospital Insurance Fund was teetering on the brink of disaster.)
But of course Medicare didn’t “run out of money” in 1994, and it won’t go belly-up now, in large part thanks to health care reform legislation. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Affordable Care Act (ACA) raises and saves over $950 billion. (Below, I spell out how the legislation generates those dollars). In the process, as the Medicare Trustees’ Report 2011 points out, the ACA reduces Medicare spending “by 25 percent”—without cutting health benefits, or shifting costs to seniors.
Our thanks to Digby for pointing us to the above in her article this afternoon describing today's as usual right-leaning Meet the Press roundtable as "vapid" and "braindead" featuring just one of six panelists who "might not be called [conservative]," in a discussion "about the immediate deficit catastrophe" which, she believes, would likely cause "all elderly people [to be] extremely worried that they will be barred from going to the hospital next week because Medicare has gone belly up."
She goes on to quote samples of the "verbal compost" of today's roundtable discussion on NBC, adding "I don't think I've ever had the misfortune to see a bigger load of pompous Villager pap and GOP propaganda in one place."
If it's Sunday...
Rightwing activists and propagandists James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles, employees of con-artist and propagandist Andrew Breitbart, may not use the First Amendment as an excuse for breaking the law in California, according to a federal judge's ruling this week.
Judge M. James Lorenz rejected the defendants' argument and motion for summary judgment in federal court, as part of the civil lawsuit filed against them by former San Diego ACORN worker Juan Carlos Vera.
Giles had previously thrown O'Keefe under a bus by arguing that she should not be held accountable at all for violating California's Invasion of Privacy Act [CA Penal Code § 632], since he, not she, was actually wearing the hidden video camera used to secretly tape their conversations with Vera, even after they had asked if their meeting would be kept confidential.
For his part, O'Keefe, a convicted federal criminal, argued that he was allowed to violate the law because the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment protected him as a "journalist". The judge ruled against the defendants on all points...
Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
"I don’t want everybody to vote," Paul Weyrich, co-founder of the billionaire-funded Heritage Foundation and the Moral Majority, said while addressing a right-wing Christian audience in 1980. "[O]ur leverage in the elections goes up as the voting populace goes down," he added after he denigrated those who seek "good government" through maximum, informed voter participation as people who suffer from the "goo goo syndrome."
Voter suppression has long been a staple of American politics, but the tsunami of new restrictions on the polling place now being rammed through by newly-elected Republican majorities in state after state is unprecedented, certainly since the era of Jim Crow was supposed to have been ended by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
While most Americans may think of the poll tax and literacy tests as forms of voter suppression associated the Jim Crow South, the confirmation hearings of the late U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William Renquist included sworn testimony from former U.S. Attorney James Brosnahan and others reflecting that, as an early 60's GOP activist, Renquist intimidated African-American and Hispanic voters in AZ by challenging their ability to read.
1965's Voting Rights Act outlawed both the poll tax and literacy tests. In more recent times, pursuant to a 1987 federal court consent decree, and a subsequent provision of the National Voting Rights Act of 1993, another GOP suppression tactic, "caging lists," was banned, though as documented by the BBC's Greg Palast, the Bush administration-led Plutocrats didn't let a little matter like illegality get in the way of their use.
21st Century voter suppression operates under cover. Or it had, until the new wave of legislation being passed by GOP legislatures across the country began hitting its stride. Until FL's then-governor Charlie Crist overturned it, for example, the state banned convicted felons from voting even years after they'd been released from prison. In Armed Madhouse, Palast asserts that prior to the 2000 Presidential election, FL's then Sec. of State Katherine Harris, appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush, the brother of candidate George W. Bush, purged 94,000 "felons" from the state's computerized voter rolls, though the only "crime" at least 91,000 were guilty of was "being Black, Democrat or both."
Over much of the past decade, voter suppression efforts have been bolstered by bogus "voter fraud" claims leveled at groups like ACORN, who aided in the registration of those who might be likely to vote against the GOP (minorities and the working class); "non-partisan" GOP astroturf groups like the phony American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR) created after the 2004 election solely to create and spread false propaganda about a Democratic "voter fraud" epidemic; laws meant to increase the legal risk to real non-partisan organizations for assisting in registration; draconian polling place "photo ID" restriction laws, and in a reduction of opportunities for early voting.
With the tide of GOP victories at the ballot box last November, those efforts have now been ramped up and are now front and center in some 30 state legislatures across the country...
Guest editorial by Ernest A. Canning
With the backing of the AFL-CIO, National Nurses United, and the International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) simultaneously introduced the American Health Security Act of 2011, a Medicare-for-All single-payer system.
The move triggered a "provocative, interesting discussion," as Sanders described it, during a Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions subcommittee hearing in the Senate last week in which the Vermont Senator squared off with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) (see video below). Sanders and a physician-witness agreed that treating healthcare as a "right" is consistent with the Hippocratic Oath. For his part, Paul, a self-certified physician, claimed that the establishment of healthcare as a right would turn physicians and their staffs into slaves, with the possibility of police barging into their houses at night to arrest them. Paul's theory that medical care for all "enslaves" doctors and all of those who choose to work in their offices, would no doubt come as a surprise to many physicians who live comfortably in single-payer countries, like the wealthy UK physician interviewed by Michael Moore in Sicko!
Dr. Paul's remarks underscore the extent to which ideology has obscured a basic reality that the core problem is not the ability of American physicians to deliver quality healthcare, but the absurdity of a society which places a greater value on accumulating obscene wealth in the hands of the privileged few above the health and very lives of its citizens...
Guest Blogged by Sue Wilson
After revealing his "long form" birth certificate Wednesday, President Obama scolded the news media for letting this non-issue become a national obsession.
But if President Obama really wants to restore reporting to its rightful role, he needs to act on commitments he made immediately after his inauguration. As I wrote in September 2009 for The BRAD BLOG:
Okay, let me connect some dots here.
For more than two years, GOP extremists have made the President's birth certificate an issue that has successfully permeated the country's consciousness. According to a New York Times-CBS News poll last week, 43% of the country is not sure Barack Obama was born in this country, despite long standing factual evidence to the contrary.
How did GOP extremists manage to make a non issue such a huge issue? They used the power of broadcasting to beat the drums of paranoia into 50 million people across our land. They used the power of talk radio, which they have used successfully tomarginalize Democrats and anyone else outside their narrow point of view.
That's right. According to Arbitron, 53 million people listen to talk radio every day in this country. When Glenn Beck loses his Fox "News" audience of 2 million, he still will have his radio audience of 10 million...
Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and the GOP state legislature received another setback to their controversial anti-immigrant legislation on Monday. In a 2-1 decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal upheld an earlier U.S. District Court finding that puts the breaks, for now, on a number of provisions in the bill.
In their ruling in United States vs. Arizona, the court found a number of the most controversial provisions of the state's SB 1070 were likely preempted by the federal Immigration and Nationalization Act (INA). The decision leaves in place a preliminary injunction by the lower court barring enforcement of key provisions of the Arizona law.
The case does not, however, address the issue of whether SB 1070 gives rise to unlawful racial profiling.
The doctrine of preemption derives from the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. If Congress intends federal law to "occupy the field" or if state law conflicts with a federal statute, it is said to be "preempted" by federal law, which means that the federal law, as the supreme law of the land, supersedes state law...
Here is an update, along with some important thoughts on the WI Supreme Court election debacle which exploded out of Waukesha County yesterday, plunging that important election into utter disarray --- an election seen by many as a referendum on Gov. Scott Walker and the state GOP's legislating away many of the rights of state citizens to collectively bargain.
I am writing quickly as I scramble, once again to get to the studio on time to finish up my week tonight as guest host of the nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show. I will, of course, speak again about these matters in greater detail on air this evening. So please forgive any typos or lack of clarity in the following for now.
First, some of the latest related news of note, and then some quick thoughts on this entire fine mess.
The campaign of Asst. Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg, now said to be trailing incumbent Justice David Prosser by some 7,500 votes, announced their intention last night to file an open records request "for all relevant documentation related to the reporting of election results in Waukesha County, as well as to the discovery and reporting of the errors announced by the County."
That's good. In addition, they ought to apply for an immediate court order for the quarantine, sequestration, and confiscation of all ballots, electronic voting systems (optical-scanners, Direct Recording Electronic machines, tabulators, etc), memory cards, and the computer systems of County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus as well, in hopes of assuring a complete, independent, transparent forensic investigation of the entire election by an independent party.
At the same time, the State Government Accountability Board (GAB) has announced today they are "dispatching officials to the Waukesha County Clerk's Office Friday afternoon to review procedures used in tallying results of Tuesday's Supreme Court election."
That's good too, and if they have the authority to confiscate the election materials as described above, they should exercise it immediately as well. Nickolaus should no longer be allowed anywhere near this election (or, frankly, any other, given her years of reckless behavior in her role as County Clerk.)
Others, including Citizen Action of Wisconsin, have called for a full federal investigation into "irregularities" in Waukesha County's vote-counting system. That would be both welcome and appropriate as well in this case.
With all of that said, and with full recognition of the absolutely shameful way the Right would have behaved had 14,000+ votes suddenly "appeared" in a Democratic stronghold, as they did in the heavily Republican Waukesha enclave (and as they had already begun to do prior to yesterday's stunning announcement, as can be seen in the Fox "News" appearance yesterday of the always shamefully irresponsible liar John Fund), there are reasons to regard the "new" numbers announced yesterday as "legitimate." Or, at least as "legitimate" as any of the other results announced based on ballots counted only by oft-failed, easily-manipulated computer systems in the state. (See our detailed explanation about those systems, and the very serious concerns about them, as we published on Wednesday, when the unofficial results had the race at a 204 vote margin.)
Here's why I feel that way. (Though, mind you, how I feel has nothing to do with what should or shouldn't be done here to restore integrity and appropriate oversight to the woeful election system in place in Waukesha. To be sure, there are many remaining questions that demand answers at this time in both Waukesha and elsewhere in the state.)...
While prepping for tonight's Mike Malloy Show (which I will be busy guest hosting all week), here are just a few of the items which caught my eye so far today...in no particular order...
So what's on your radar?
In addition to some of the above possibly coming up for discussion tonight, we will definitely be discussing the U.S. Chamber Plot (which was to have targeted, among others, myself and my family) with my guest U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) who is trying to see some accountability in that horrific affair after House Republicans refused his request for investigative hearings into the matter.
Please tune in at 6p PT (9p ET) tonight --- and all week! We'll have live listening links and a lively chat room right here at The BRAD BLOG during those hours as usual!
Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
While it should hardly be necessary, given the extent to which the GOP's billionaire-funded direct assault on workers' rights has exposed the Orwellian deceptions of the so-called 'Tea Party' movement, there are times when the adage, "sex sells," seems unavoidable, especially when it involves exposing the vast gap between the right-wing's professed "family values" and "fiscal responsibility" and a reality that includes infidelity and an eager willingness to squander public funds on friends and the billionaire sociopaths who fund their campaigns.
No doubt, Chris Bowers, the Campaign Director of the Daily Kos, understood this when he sent out a fund-raising email which, as reported by Rich Mitchell of the Conservative Daily News, reads, in pertinent part:
Randy Hopper is one of the most vulnerable Republicans facing recall. He is a freshman, and only won his seat by 163 votes. A poll conducted by Daily Kos and PPP shows Hopper losing to a generic Democrat 49%-44%.
Mitchell denounced the salacious allegations as a "smear", though he offered no evidence in support of that claim to counter what appears to be an accurate account of Hopper's infidelities and the questionable hiring of his girlfriend, the GOP operative Valerie Cass, by the new administration of Gov. Scott Walker.
While there is always a legitimate question as to whether marital infidelity should disqualify an individual from holding public office, here the issue arises in the context of allegations of nepotism and hypocrisy, not to mention the issue of whether the Fond du Lac Republican could lawfully cast a vote opposing his own recall, now that, as his estranged wife admits, he no longer resides in his own district. He lives with Cass elsewhere.
This new sex scandal adds to a powerful, substantive recall message which has gained a great deal of momentum over the last several weeks...
Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
Rep. John Mica (R-FL), Chair of the House Transportation Committee, inserted union-busting language into the 2011 Federal Aviation Administration Re-authorization bill.
His remarkable display of contempt for the democratic aspirations of working class Americans comes as little surprise, unfortunately. Mica, during his time in office, has received more than $620,000 in campaign contributions from the airline industry.
The Mica clause would block a rule adopted by the federal National Mediation Board which, according to the Communications Workers of America permitted airline and railroad workers to achieve "union representation based on a majority of votes cast, in line with the National Labor Relations Act rules governing union representation across all other industries." Instead of accepting the rules of a democratically held election of workers, Mica wants to count those who are eligible to vote, but who fail to do so, as votes against unionization.
Over the dissent of three Republicans and every Democratic member of the Committee, the House Transportation Committee rejected "an amendment by Rep. Jerry Costello (D-IL) to strip Mica's anti-union language from the bill."
Mica's new definition of "democracy" underscores the observations we set forth in "Gov. Walker's Wisconsin 'Union Busting' Exposes 'Tea Party' Scam, Duped Americans" as to how so many working class Americans have been "taken in by the lies and deceptions of billionaire sociopaths, like oil-baron David Koch...[whose] aim is not liberty, freedom, and jobs but American fascism, corporatocracy, and the 'eternal subjugation of the common man.'"
That subjugation flows from the disparity of power that accompanies a growing disparity of wealth, which, in turn, correlates with the demise of unions in the U.S...
Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
"The fact that the U.S. government could...seek to put away people because of their political dissent was a real major eye-opener to me." - Leonard Weinglass, commenting on the 1968 Chicago Seven trial.
The cause of civil liberties has lost a legal champion.
Throughout a long and distinguished legal career, during which he defended, among others, the Chicago 7, Daniel Ellsberg in the Pentagon Papers Case, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Angela Davis, Julian Assange, and the Cuban Five, Leonard Weinglass served as a vital buffer between an increasingly oppressive, corporate security state and those who would dare to challenge it.
He will be sorely missed.
Guest editorial by Ernest A. Canning
To what extent has xenophobia greased the wheels of the right-wing smear machine?
For those who follow The BRAD BLOG, the pattern is all too recognizable.
A venal hard-right, operating through a pathological, race-baiting con-artist, like Andrew Breitbart, targets, for one of its deceptive smear campaigns, a group, like ACORN, or an individual, like Van Jones or Shirley Sherrod.
The smear is amplified by the propagandists at Fox "News." It reverberates throughout the right-wing echo chamber (which has usurped the majority of our public airwaves to bolster their agenda). The smear is then repeated by pliant mainstream corporate media, which will, at best, offer up a belated, chiseling, inaccurate "correction" --- too little and too late to undo the damage wrought by a Democratic "opposition" which timidly seeks to distance itself from the smeared as they scurry to hand the hard-right what it seeks (e.g., a bill stripping ACORN or NPR of public funds, or the forced resignation of the targeted individual).
There is no doubt but that some of the corporate media complicity derives from common financial interests. As Bill Moyers observed in Moyers on America, "media giants...exalt commercial values at the expense of democratic value...squeezing out the journalism that tries to get as close as possible to the verifiable truth."
But there is another issue, magnified by two recent events: (1) The matter-of-fact acceptance of the prompt resignation of two NPR officials over a secretly taped and deceptively-edited video hit piece in which two of convicted federal criminal and Republican con-man James O'Keefe's flunkies posed as members of a Muslim organization seeking to help fund NPR, and (2) The deafening corporate media silence over an outrageously racist remark by a right-wing Kansas state representative who compared "illegal immigrants" to "feral pigs"...
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