More on Occupation Nation tonight, as I continue to guest host the nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show. Tune in tonight at 6p PT / 9p ET. We'll have live listening links and an occupied chat room right here at The BRAD BLOG! (Audio archives of last night's show are here.)
"What is a vote worth?" Venango County, PA's Election Board Chairman Craig Adams, a Republican, asked last week. "If the vote is counted it is priceless. If it is not counted, I don't care what it costs. Let's get a right."
"After months of legal wrangling," Marybeth Kuznik of the non-partisan Election Integrity advocacy group VotePA told The BRAD BLOG last week, Venango County's landmark independent forensic examination of the notoriously unreliable and 100% unverifiable ES&S iVotronic Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, most often touch-screen) e-voting system finally got under way.
Kuznik explained that the study comes in the wake of the heavily Republican-leaning county having experienced "numerous reports of vote-flipping, candidates missing from screens, write-ins missing, and high undervote rates in their May 17 Primary." Some candidates on the ballots even were reported by the voting machines to have received zero votes...
The case arises from the secret video taping by O'Keefe and Giles of then ACORN employee Juan Carlos Vera, as part of the deceptively edited hit videos the pair would later release on Breitbart's several propaganda websites. Vera was terminated after the release of the videos, despite having committed no wrongdoing --- he had even notified local police about the pair, after he suspected they were up to no good --- as confirmed in a detailed report by the California Attorney General last year. O'Keefe and Giles, on the other hand, as the CA AG found, most likely "violated state privacy laws." While they were given criminal immunity by the AG in exchange for the raw, unedited video tapes, they remain liable for civil violations of the that law.
Now it appears Breitbart himself may be pulled into the case, and we're likely to soon learn how much he paid O'Keefe and Giles for their hit tapes.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Mitchell D. Dembin has adjudicated a discovery dispute by ordering both O'Keefe and Giles to disclose payments Breitbart made to them, as well as email communications and other relevant documents concerning the illicit video taping of Vera.
While that is likely to offer an interesting expansion of this story soon (and we'll offer a few more details from the court's ruling below), more than anything what caught our eye in this story for the moment, was the reporting by local journalist Heather Johnson of Courthouse News. She broke the story this week, and managed to actually report accurately on the details of O'Keefe and Giles' ACORN hoax.
So, to offer you (and, actually, the New York Times) an idea of what accurate reporting on O'Keefe --- a man who has, since his ACORN con, also pled guilty to a scheme involving an attempted wire-tap plot of a sitting U.S. Senator --- looks like, just read the first three grafs of Johnson's coverage this week...
The OC Weekly's Matt Coker picked up on my Monday report describing my experience over the weekend at the Orange County Registrar's booth at the Orange County Fair wherein my attempt to try out their 100% unverifiable Hart Intercivic electronic voting system, um, didn't work out too well.
Coker's amusing take on the apparent system failure that occurred while I was testing it out with assistance from employees of the OC Registrar's office is described as "akin to making an illegal U-turn in front of a motorcycle cop. ... or letting it slip to 'Woodstein' that Tricky Dick audio taped everything in the Oval Office."
His coverage is much briefer than mine. So if you've yet to read my account of what happened and want a more-to-the-point version, please see Coker's piece.
For the record, for those who've asked, no, I've yet to hear back from either OC Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley or from anyone at CA Sec. of State Debra Bowen's office about what happened on Sunday. I've contacted all them via email, with a link to my original article, seeking comment. If I hear back from any of them substantively, of course, I'll let you know.
Yesterday, The Post & Courier of Charleston, South Carolina reported that a local "Council of Governments [COG] approved a resolution...asking for the state to audit how its voting machines are working."
The "machines" are the 100% unverifiable ES&S iVotronic touch-screen Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting systems.
The Post & Courier not only mentions the fact that state election officials insist that the "iVotronic machines reliably tally votes," but buys into the canard that "increased skepticism" is based upon [emphasis added] "human errors made during last year's elections." It adds that the COG resolution expressed "a concern [that the] voting machines...do not incorporate a 'paper trail' that could facilitate unequivocal confirmation of election results."
If there is any state in the nation that should realize that casting a vote on the ES&S iVotronic amounts to an exercise in blind-faith, with or without a so-called "Voter-Verifiable Paper Audit Trail" (VVPAT), it would be South Carolina...
So I forced myself to take a few hours off yesterday. As too often happens, it turned into a busman's holiday.
We took a trip out to closing day at the Orange County Fair in Costa Mesa, CA, had a great time in the bargain, and even shared a bunch of fun/snarky photo tweets throughout the day (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here if you're interested, or are not otherwise already a Twitter follower of @TheBradBlog.)
It was all fun and games and sassy social observation until we had the good fortune to chance upon a booth being run by the Orange County Registrar of Voters Neal Kelley, where two delightful representatives of the office where on hand to help folks register to vote and to offer a demonstration of the country's 100% unverifiable Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting system.
As I would come to learn, the two delightful representatives of the office had no idea that their own e-voting system was actually 100% unverifiable until I explained to them how that was the case. Equally as troubling, as I was testing out one of the Hart Intercivic eSlate demo systems set up for voters to try and learn how to use them, it failed on me while I was running through the demo ballot created for fair goers...one of my selections disappeared entirely...or at least appeared to...
Earlier today, Brad Friedman reported that, despite high unemployment and food stamp usage at an all-time record high, U.S. corporations were experiencing record profits.
Simultaneously, Los Angeles Times reported that Senate leaders have reached an accord to pass three more NAFTA-like "free trade" agreements (Panama, Colombia, and South Korea) when Congress returns from its August recess. The Times stated: "Proponents [e.g.,the U.S. Chamber of Commerce] say the trade agreements...will pump as much as $14 billion into the U.S. economy and add more than 250,000 jobs."
The reality was better captured by Ross Perot during a 1992 Presidential Debate when he warned (video reminder below) that NAFTA would produce "a giant sucking sound of jobs headed South"...
On my Pacifica Radio show on KPFK in Los Angeles today, I interviewed Karen Bernal, chair of the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party (CDP) on their new resolution in support of a primary challenge to President Obama. [Audio posted below.]
I was struck during my conversation this afternoon with Bernal when she mentioned the CDP had actually considered "punishment" for the caucus for, apparently, even daring to suggest such a challenge to Obama, much less for overwhelmingly passing a resolution in favor it by some 75 of their members. While attacking the party's nominee might be in violation of the party's rules, the fact is, to my knowledge, the DNC has yet to nominate a candidate for the 2012 Presidential election.
It seems the CDP might do well to remember what the "D" stands for in their name.
Since today's interview, the San Francisco Chronicle's Joe Garofoli has posted a column on the matter, including some comments from Bernal and, of more note here, some, uh, colorful comments about the Progressive Caucus resolution and the idea of a primary against the President, by California Democratic Party chair John Burton. It's worth noting, as Garofoli did, that Burton supported the primary challenge against President Jimmy Carter by Sen. Ted Kennedy back in 1980. He's singing a different tune now. Of course, Kennedy didn't win that primary challenge, Carter won the re-nomination and he ended up losing in a landslide to Reagan --- for whatever that comparison may be worth. (Not too much, in my humble opinion.)
Also, progressive author and journalist David Swanson sent me a link to this new website, StopHoping.org, at which you can vote on whether Obama should be primaried and, if so, by whom.
[NOTE: My radio interview today with Karen Bernal, head of the CA Democratic Party's Progressive Caucus, on my KPFK/Pacifica show, about the groups' resolution in support of a Democratic primary challenge to Obama, as detailed below --- and the state party's troubling reaction to it --- is now posted here. - BF]
Nader argued that without a primary challenge and vigorous debate on issues important to the Democratic base, Obama would "be able, for another four years, should he win, which is likely, to turn his back on the liberal progressive base and become Obama/Bush Administration 2. Just look at all the similarities with the Bush Administration."
Host David Shuster challenged Nader by suggesting that "a primary challenge to President Obama would hurt him, cause fissures in the democratic party and possibly impede the party efforts in the the general election."
"Well, it's just the reverse," Nader countered. "It will challenge him, bring the best out of him and there's nothing worse for a candidate in terms of lessening the enthusiastic level for him than to go through an unchallenged routine of repetitious primaries."
The former Green and then independent Presidential candidate discussed a soon-to-emerge, campaign by Democratic progressives to organize an initiative in the coming days "not designed to defeat [Obama], in the Democratic Primary, but designed to generate a robust debate, and put the liberal progressive issues on domestic policies, including job production and foreign and military policy, on the national Presidential agenda in 2012."
He said that without such a challenge, Obama would be allowed to continue serving little more than just "the corporate warlords and corporate barons of Wall Street."
By the way, in an article last January, Canning called on Nader himself to register as a Democrat and consider exactly such a primary challenge to Obama.
Nader is not the only high profile figure to discuss the possibility of a primary challenge to the President. Vermont's extremely popular Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said on Thom Hartmann's radio show the Friday before last that he thought "it would be a good idea if President Obama faced some primary opposition."
Then, over this past weekend, as word of the debt ceiling "deal" brokered between Obama and the Republicans, featuring historic spending cuts but no increases in revenue, leaked out, word came in that some 75 Progressive Caucus members of the California Democratic Party (CDP) had passed a controversial resolution in support of, you guessed it, a Democratic primary challenge to Barack Obama.
According to a statement posted with their resolution at WarisaCrime.org: "Gathering in Anaheim during an Executive Board meeting of the CDP, the group overwhelmingly endorsed the resolution following a discussion on the importance of not only challenging the far-right agenda of unmitigated corporate greed but also the current administration's willingness to slash 650-billion dollars from Social Security and Medicare."
Good news for Constitutional conservatives such as myself today in two out of three noteworthy court decisions in three separate courts, at least in regards to the rights of we, the people.
Let's start with the two good news items, both related to the Constitutional right to equal protection under the law, and then the not-so-good news item, the one out of Wisconsin, where a predictable partisan divide succeeded in removing rights from American citizens...
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...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Tornado terror and devastation in Joplin, MO; Extreme weather and the costs of the 'new normal'; Iceland erupts again; PLUS: The EPA on the hot seat --- again ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Obama Admin to transition US fleet to alternative vehicles; TX drinking water pipes & plumbing radioactive; Farm runoff in MS fuels dead zone in Gulf; Teaching kids about recycling, one candy bribe at a time; Behavior changes could save 3 coal plants worth of power; Gulf disaster leads to safety gear innovations; Federal Arctic drilling impact statement falls short; Vitter blocks raise for DOI Secretary; Lawsuit against California’s climate law is misguided; Judge's ruling won't halt CA global warming law; Billionaire Koch Brothers to benefit from controversial Keystone XL pipeline?; TX files challenge to EPA "endangerment finding"; Lessons from the ‘Rapture’ that didn’t happen; Norway's billion-dollar clean energy initiative for the poor; Stink bug spread threatens crops ... PLUS: "The Battle for Patagonia Has Just Begun" in Chile ...
[See UPDATES at bottom for Bowen statement, final reported results...]
Yesterday, California's Republican-supported Prop 14 --- which voters approved last June, changing the state's separate party primary system to a single primary for all candidates, with the top two vote-getters going on to a run-off election if none receives more than 50% of the vote --- had its first official try-out in the Special Election to replace the resigning Blue Dog Democrat and unrepentant war supporter Rep. Jane Harman in the state's 36th Congressional District.
While similarly "Blue Dog" Democratic candidate and L.A. City Councilwoman Janice Hahn was in the lead last night as results were reported throughout the evening, it was the battle for second place, and therefore the right to participate in the run-off, that presented a real late-night nail-biter twist as unofficial precinct results were completed in the wee hours.
With Democratic CA Sec. of State Debra Bowen running second and seemingly headed for the run-off with Hahn for most of the night, according to L.A. County's running totals, the final unverified results inched self-financed Republican Craig Huey into the second place spot by just 206 votes at evening's end, after all 261 precincts in the very Democratic-leaning CA-36 were tallied.
With nearly 10,000 mail-in, provisional and other votes still to be tallied on the county's optical-scan system, however --- a system which was decertified and then conditionally re-certified, in part, by Bowen herself in 2008 --- the result of the cliff-hanger is likely to ensure "busy days ahead" at the L.A. County Registrar Recorder/County Clerk's office as Dean Logan, L.A. County's Registrar Recorder/County Clerk, noted last night on his personal Twitter account...
Californians are all too familiar with the disturbing image now playing out in DC.
Radical-right ideologues demand extension of the Bush tax cuts, retention of corporate subsidies, deregulation, a squandering of public funds on privatization schemes and pouring what is left of the National Treasury down the economic black hole that is war and the military-industrial complex. Hypocritically, they not only point to the massive deficits they themselves have erected, but hold a gun to the head of government, threatening to shut it down absent drastic concessions designed to extract a pound of flesh from those who can least afford cuts in government services as they target the last vestiges of the New Deal safety net.
In California, a small minority of fiscally irresponsible, radical right-wing ideologues has employed the "give-us-what-we-demand-or-we-shut-down-the-government" tactic for over a decade, with devastating results.
The state's new (again) Governor Jerry Brown (D) would have done well to have read Paul Krugman's The Great Unravelingbefore he re-entered office last January.
Krugman aptly described the radical right that, in 2000, seized the reigns of the federal government as a "revolutionary power" which does not accept the legitimacy of our democratic system and which cannot be expected to negotiate in good faith.
Three months into fruitless negotiations, Brown recently came to realize that even though the state faces a catastrophic $26 billion deficit, CA Republicans would never allow the state's voters to decide whether to extend the temporary taxes on income, sales and vehicles to help cover the short fall.
After negotiations broke down last month, Brown said: "Each and every Republican legislator I've spoken to believes that voters should not have this right to vote unless I agree to an ever-changing list of collateral demands....Republicans demand that out-of-state corporations that keep jobs out of California be given a billion-dollar tax break that will come from our schoolchildren, public safety and our universities. This I am not willing to do."
While the Governor has openly considered by-passing the Republicans in order to permit direct democracy in which Californians themselves would vote on a temporary tax extension, that approach, even if successful, falls well short of the fundamental problem --- that the current 2/3 vote required to pass revenue legislation in the state's legislature permits an irresponsible minority of right wing ideologues to hold the state hostage as it carries out its democracy-destroying and economically unsustainable, privatization agenda...
As several folks have requested, here is my "Special Comment" on "Democracy's Gold Standard" in the wake of Wisconsin's Supreme Election Debacle from my final night of the week guest hosting the Mike Malloy Show last Friday night. It's presented here in quick and dirty video form in hopes that it'll get a few more eyes and ears than just the audio would by itself...