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...|
During Thursday's Green News Report, we briefly discussed Charles Koch's claim in his Wall Street Journal op-ed this week, that he and his brother David, are using their inherited fossil-fuel millions to discredit global warming science (and other inconvenient realities), simply because they are fighting "to restore a free society and create greater well-being and opportunity for all Americans." Sure they are.
Over at the Washington Post's "Plum Line" blog, Paul Waldman has another thought on the Koch op-ed this week, which was published at virtually the same moment as the rightwing judicial activists on the U.S. Supreme Court trashed 40 years of campaign finance law in order to allow the approximately 600 Americans who had already maxed out their previously allowed $125,000 per-election-cycle donations to political candidates and parties to be "free" to give millions to candidates and parties instead.
Waldman avers that the Koch op-ed and the SCOTUS McCutcheon decision "are parts of the same effort," which, he argues convincingly, is "Nothing less than the construction of a new version of liberty."
In his WSJ piece, Koch joined a growing procession of billionaire Rightwingers recently whining aloud about their perceived persecution at the hands of...well, anyone who doesn't share their political views and who doesn't have the "freedom" to also have billions, inherited or otherwise, in their bank accounts.
"Instead of encouraging free and open debate, collectivists [ed note: apparently he means anyone who is not a Republican?] strive to discredit and intimidate opponents," Koch bemoans. "They engage in character assassination," he complains, before adding parenthetically,"(I should know, as the almost daily target of their attacks.)"
"Poor" fellow. Waldman, however, sees the Koch Agonistes very differently...
Guess who is popping the champagne cork over this week's Supreme Court ruling in McCutcheon vs. FEC, which will allow wealthy individuals to donate virtually unlimited dollars to candidates, political parties, and political action groups?
On Thursday, the radio industry newsletter Inside Radio wrote [subscription req'd] that the McCutcheon decision was "likely to boost [ad] spending" in 2014. They explain that the 2010 Citizens United decision "opened the floodgates to more dollars in politics and the result was record campaign spending on radio in 2012." They predict that the Court's ruling this week "could help spur even more spending."
In another piece this week [also subscription req'd] the newsletter trumpets:
More competitive races, combined with a greater number of outside groups that don't qualify for the lowest unit rate, have the potential to make the 2014 mid-term election cycle more ad intensive than first thought. So much so, that the analysts at Kantar Media's Campaign Media Analysis Group (CMAG), have boosted their political spending forecast. Kantar estimates radio could see $180 million in political ad spending by Election Day."
$180 million? That's chump change when it comes to what the television industry stands to make. Bloomberg reports that TV stations will make in excess of $2.5 billion --- with a "B" --- from political ad sales in 2014. And that's nothing compared to what they expect to make in 2016 during a Presidential race.
And of course, many, if not most of those ads mislead or outright lie to the very public in whose interest the broadcasters are licensed to serve.
Am I the only one who sees something wrong with this picture?
Overturning Citizens United and McCutcheon may take years, decades even, if it ever happens at all. But given that We the People have real power as the owners of the airwaves, I see some ways we can reduce at least some of the political ad spending, and perhaps take a lot of money out of politics...
First, I was joined by Katie Klabusich of KatieSpeak.com and Eric Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League (PLAL). Klabusich was recently "targeted" by PLAL on their website, for her work as an abortion clinic escort trying to help women seeking cancer screenings, termination of pregnancies, prenatal care or birth control as they face a gauntlet of anti-choice protesters.
Klabusich wrote an "Open Letter to Legislators From a Clinic Escort" this week at Truthout, calling for buffer zones around such clinics, so women can visit their doctor without harassment. Scheidler, who says he supports buffer zones around voting precincts, disagrees that buffer zones should be allowed around reproductive medical facilities. He also feels that his organization did not threaten Klabusich by posting her name, photo and the city where she lives and works and asking supporters to share it far and wide under the guise of "praying" for her.
It was an enlightening conversation with the two of them.
In the second part of the show, Constitutional Law expert Ian Millhiser joined me to discuss today's horrific Supreme Court ruling in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission and the "money laundering by rich campaign donors," that Millhiser argues it will now allow.
Two totally different issues, both posing serious questions surrounding First Amendment free speech issues.
All of that, and a bit more here and there (including Desi Doyen and our "April FOX Day" Green News Report) in this week's show. Enjoy!
Download MP3 or listen online below...
A U.S. District judge has ruled that Republican legislators in North Carolina must provide documents revealing their work in passing and implementing a radical election reform bill which, when it was passed last year, was described by opponents as the "worse-than-anyone-would-have-ever-imagined voter suppression bill."
Late last week, U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Joi Elizabeth Peake issued an Order [PDF] in which she rejected a blanket refusal by NC Republican state legislators to provide any documents that relate to the question of whether the sweeping legislation known as the Voter Information Reform Act ("VIVA" aka HB 589) amounted to nothing less than a racially-motivated attempt to deprive African-Americans of their constitutional right to vote.
As we observed when the law was hastily enacted last year, among the law's myriad ways of making registration and voting much more difficult, VIVA includes "draconian polling place Photo ID restrictions (despite the absence of any evidence of polling place impersonation in the state), shortens the early voting period and eliminates NC's very successful same-day voter registration program."
VIVA was quickly passed last year on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court's controversial, 5-4 decision in Shelby County v. Holder. The decision resulted in the gutting of a central provision of the federal Voting Rights Act. Before that, most of the measures in VIVA could not have taken effect unless they received advance approval from either the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) or a federal court. Such approval could have been obtained only if NC established that VIVA was neither intended to nor would have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color or being the member of a language minority.
The new ruling may help plaintiffs establish violations of both the still-standing elements of the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution. Moreover, the order to compel documentation concerning the law's genesis in NC, if upheld, could also have a broader national significance...
And now, from deep in the heart of Texas...
Judge Orlando Garcia issued the preliminary injunction after two gay couples challenged a state constitutional amendment and a longstanding law. His ruling is the latest in a tangled web of lawsuits across the country expected to end up in the Supreme Court next year.
It's not that "tangled". As Constitutional law correspondent Ian Millhiser noted via Twitter just after the ruling came down, "Marriage equality is 7-0 in federal courts" since the U.S. Supreme Court found the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional in last year's United States v. Windsor case.
"There've been pro-equality decisions in UT, OK, OH, KY...IL and VA since Windsor. No decisions against equality," Millhiser tweeted, later adding, "Texas decision makes it more likely #SCOTUS will have to hear marriage equality. Will appeal to 5th Circuit, which is severely conservative."
"Before TX," he wrote, "it was possible circuit courts could be unanimous in siding w/ marriage equality. 5th Circuit will probably create circuit split."
I'm less certain about a "severely conservative" court creating a split. If the court really is as conservative as believed, versus simply "activist" Rightwinger Republicans, they are unlikely to find anything in the U.S. Constitution to support Texas, or anybody else, treating some people less equally under the law than others when it comes to marriage. As we've long argued, marriage equality for all is the true conservative position, as true conservatives both here and elsewhere, have also long affirmed.
In his federal ruling on the Texas ban today Judge Garcia seems to agree. "Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our United States Constitution," he wrote, according to AP. "These Texas laws deny plaintiffs access to the institution of marriage and its numerous rights, privileges, and responsibilities for the sole reason that Plaintiffs wish to be married to a person of the same sex."
From US District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen's ruling [PDF] yesterday, finding that Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional under federal law (just as both Utah's and Oklahoma's bans were recently found)...
The men and women, and the children too, whose voices join in noble harmony with Plaintiffs today, also ask for fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as it is in this Court's power, they and all others shall have.
While undoubtedly Virginia's law would have been found unconstitutional and overturned eventually anyway --- just like similar laws in all fifty states will be very shortly --- it arguably will have happened much faster there and (take note, conservatives) with much less cost to the taxpayers, thanks to the results of last November's elections. Yes, as we've been detailing for more than ten years now, elections really do matter.
Oh, and happy Valentines Day, Virginia...and everyone else!
Almost three weeks ago, all three of the major Sunday network news shows --- NBC's Meet the Press, CBS' Face the Nation and ABC's This Week --- allowed very powerful elected officials, such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), to come on the air and claim, without evidence, that they'd seen "clues" suggesting former NSA contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden was, somehow, a Russian agent.
The officials were required to offer absolutely no evidence for their extraordinary claims on the three major broadcast networks. Snowden was subsequently forced to strongly rebut the scandalous charges, which are apparently straight out of the Nixon/Cold War era playbook.
While that sort of wholly substance-free red-baiting is now perfectly appropriate, seemingly, on network "news" shows, it's similarly remarkable that it seems those very same networks, and most of the others, obsessed with
unsubstantiated bullshit claims about Snowden, failed to even note a full-length, detailed, substantive videotaped interview with Snowden on Germany television's ARD almost two weeks ago on January 26th.
Interestingly, on the ARD website, where the exclusive interview was originally posted, a note on the page explains cryptically: "Due to legal reasons the video is only available in Germany." Huh. So it can't be watched there from here in the U.S. Okay. So, here's the full interview as posted at LiveLeak...
Please decide for yourself if he's a "Russian agent", as based on his comments here and the actual public evidence that exists (none) to support the defamatory claims of the very powerful elected members of Congress. The entire interview is interesting and as fascinating as he is.
I'm not sure if it offers a lot of new information, in regard to Snowden's leaks (as he notes several times during the conversation, he's leaving it to the journalists to decide what is newsworthy and what isn't from amongst the documents which he reportedly no longer even has), but there's one section I wanted to underscore, as it's something we've discussed here for many years. Namely, the dangers of privatizing our national security/surveillance state, which he speaks to very directly in the interview...
Completely unnecessary polling place Photo ID restrictions enacted by so-called "small government conservatives" are costing taxpayers more and more big government money every day.
In Dallas County, Texas, for example, where County Commissioners are wrestling with the Republican-enacted state law to restrict which legal voters will be allowed to vote, hundreds of thousands of dollars have already been allocated to try and help legally registered voters retain their right to vote in the upcoming March primary election, according to the Dallas Morning News. And it looks like they will have to spend still more.
The cost of "small government conservatism" to taxpayers continues to mount in the Lone Star State, on outreach to voters and administrative necessities, as well as the cost of defending the voting restrictions in state and federal court...
The small City of Deming, New Mexico (2010 pop. 14,855) has agreed to pay $1.6 million to a man who had been the victim of what reporters at KOB Eyewitness News 4 in Albuquerque described as "a humiliating violation of [his] body by police and doctors."
Last November, we covered how, what, at most, was a routine traffic stop for an alleged failure to yield upon exiting a Wal-Mart parking lot, turned into an indescribably invasive, fourteen-hour ordeal for the man who was pulled over...
A Pennsylvania Photo ID law that one Republican lawmaker once boasted would deliver the Keystone State to Mitt Romney in the 2012 Presidential Election was struck down by a Pennsylvania trial court.
Judge Bernard L. McGinley of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania ruled that several sections of Act 18, the Republican-sponsored polling place Photo ID statute that was signed into law by Gov. Tom Corbett (R) in March of 2012, violated the Pennsylvania Constitution. The court, which previously prevented the law from taking effect by the issuance of a preliminary injunction, ordered that Act 18's in-person Photo ID requirement be permanently enjoined.
That ruling does not come as a surprise.
In May of 2012, The BRAD BLOG predicted that the plaintiffs in Applewhite vs Commonwealth of Pennsylvania would likely establish that Act 18's polling place Photo ID restrictions violate of that state's constitution. The lawsuit --- named after its 93-year old lead plaintiff Vivian Applewhite, who had voted for 50 years without a problem until 2012 --- alleged that the Act's Photo ID restrictions would deny or significantly impair the right to vote. That right, according to the Keystone State's constitution, is considered "fundamental."
Under judicially recognized Equal Protection standards, a law that impairs or abridges a "fundamental right" cannot survive a constitutional challenge unless the law is narrowly tailored to serve a "compelling state interest." That interest, we observed in our original article, cannot be found in what amounts to the "phantom menace" of in-person voter impersonation --- a point PA Republicans later conceded via a formal, in-court stipulation, entered near the outset of the case, in which they acknowledged they were "not aware of any incidents of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania and do not have direct personal knowledge of in-person voter fraud elsewhere."
While he included additional reasons for issuing the permanent injunction, Judge McGinley's lengthy decision [PDF] reveals that our original assessment of the case, and our prediction about its likely outcome, were spot on...
Proving once again that he is neither the radical reformer the Right pretends that he is, and that the non-Right had hoped he would be, President Obama attempted to conservatively thread an impossible needle in his speech today [full transcript] calling for a number of reforms to the government's current, sweeping collection of the private telephone data of Americans who are in no way related to terrorism investigations.
Once again, while ignoring many of the recommendations offered by his own special commission convened to make such recommendations for reform of NSA surveillance and other intelligence gather techniques, Obama is trying to split the baby and, in doing so, appears to be gaining the great admiration of...largely no one.
During a speech at the Dept. of Justice on Friday, he announced what he described as "a series of concrete and substantial reforms that my administration intends to adopt administratively or will seek to codify with Congress." Those reforms are, in fact, a series of limited changes that, almost all honest brokers agree, would never have happened were it not for the historically-important leaks by former NSA contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden. The President side-stepped what should have been "thanks" offered to the now federally-charged fugitive forced into political asylum in Russia.
"Given the fact of an open investigation, I'm not going to dwell on Mr. Snowden's actions or his motivations," the President said, before taking a shot at him by referencing the importance of "the fidelity of those entrusted with our nation's secrets" and "the sensational way in which these disclosures have come out." Those disclosures, of course, led to this moment and these reforms, however meager and/or cosmetic they may turn out to be. "Regardless of how we got here though," Obama continued quickly, in hopes of marginalizing the facts of Snowden's contributions to the reality of the moment.
Since he was not given his proper due this afternoon by the President himself, it fell to the Huffington Post's front page splash today to offer exactly that...
The ruling is stayed pending appeal, meaning marriages will not occur immediately in Oklahoma.
"Equality is not just for the coasts anymore, and today’s news from Oklahoma shows that time has come for fairness and dignity to reach every American in all 50 states," said Chad Griffin, the President of the Human Rights Campaign, in a statement issued this afternoon following the federal judge's ruling.
It must be nice to be the king and get to decide who does and doesn't get to vote for (or against) you and your friends, just like the
King Governor of Iowa...
Still on the road (back full time as of next week), but thought this video from yesterday's The Lead with Jake Tapper on CNN was well worth popping here quickly, if you've yet to see it.
It's a fantastic and very lively debate about Edward Snowden and, perhaps most-interestingly, Obama's Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, between journalist Glenn Greenwald and Washington Post op-ed columnist Ruth Marcus. Greenwald describes Marcus here --- much to her apparent consternation --- as an Obama Administration "loyalist" for, among other things, what he sees as a double-standard for her calls for the prosecution of whistleblower Snowden, versus the seeming free pass she's willing to give to Administration officials such as Clapper who has admitted to misleading Congress with false testimony (aka Lying to Them). That would be a felony crime...if anybody bothered to prosecute it.
Greenwald is tenacious (as usual) in forcing Marcus to answer his question about whether Clapper should be prosecuted. For her part, she does a decent job of acquitting herself, sort of, even as the entire conversation --- and the two staked-out positions here --- really do help to illustrate, as Greenwald describes it, how "the D.C. media" and "people in Washington continuously make excuses for those in power when they break the law."
"That's what people in Washington do," he charges. "They would never call on someone like James Clapper, who got caught lying to Congress, which is a felony, to be prosecuted. They only pick on people who embarrass the government and the administration to which they are loyal, like Edward Snowden. It's not about the rule of law."
"People in Washington who are well-connected to the government like she is, do not believe that the law applies to them. They only believe that the law should be used to punish people and imprison people who don't have power in Washington or who expose the wrongdoing of American political officials," Greenwald argues. I'll let you watch to see how Marcus responds.
This one is very much worth watching in full. If you prefer, the complete text transcript is posted here...
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