Brad takes on a bunch of lies this week that just won't die this week -- from e-cigs to Ann Coulter's voter fraud to 'global cooling' to the death penalty to marriage equality in Mississippi and more...
"To date, the Kansas GOP has identified and caged more voters in the last 11 months than the previous two years!" brags Kansas GOP chairman Kris Kobach in his end-of-year letter.
Blue Tide Rising has the scoop, along with details on what "vote caging" is, for those who don't know by now. We should note, however, it's not immediately clear from Kobach's letter what exactly he means by his use of the term, and if he's referring to the illegal type of caging or not.
In any case, it's clear that the undemocratic (small "d") practice of working to keep Democratic (large "D") voters off the rolls, through any means necessary, in order to keep them from voting, through any means necessary, has been mainlined as perhaps the top strategy for the GOP in 2008. Even Bush's Dept. of Justice, under the hand of John "Minorities Die First" Tanner, has now been officially mobilized to direct such practices on behalf of the Republican States of America.
For more, see PBS's long-overdue video report from last summer, on the GOP's sordid history of vote caging and the corporate American mainstream media's failure to cover it when it might have mattered.
Plus, Crooks & Liars has details on the piece of work that is this Kris Kobach, a former counsel to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft.
The death spiral for the 131 year-old company, once respectfully known as Diebold, continues, as its stock price falls to a 5-year low today, near year's end (currently $29.23/share and still sinking, from a 52-week high of $54.50/share), along with the additional news that the U.S. Department of Justice has now joined the SEC in an investigation concerning the company's "Enron-like" bookkeeping tricks...
Diebold Inc. (NYSE: DBD) said it has learned that the U.S. Department of Justice is conducting an investigation that parallels a previously disclosed investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission into the company’s discontinued practice of recognizing certain revenue on a “bill and hold” basis.
Diebold announced in early October that it has been engaged in an ongoing discussion with the SEC’s Office of the Chief Accountant regarding its former use of the "bill and hold" method of recognizing revenue.
Under bill and hold, ownership of a product contractually passes to a customer and revenue is recognized by the supplier prior to delivery of the product to the customer.
Diebold said it’s in continuing talks with the Office of the Chief Accountant so that it can determine what the company termed “the most appropriate revenue recognition method” to replace its bill and hold practice.
At the time, back in late September 2005, the stock price plunged to a 52-week low of about $44.37/share (which we're sure they'd kill for now --- not that we wish to give them any ideas) and DIEB-THROAT told us in response to the related news: "the last time this kind of deception occurred it was called Enron."
Then came a class action securities fraud suit against the company in December 2005, as first broken by The BRAD BLOG natch, before the parallel SEC investigation first became public.
Since then, following one independent study after another after another after another, finding their electronic voting systems to be virus-prone, hackable, unreliable and inaccurate, the company finally dumped it's controversial CEO who had infamously promised in a Republican fundraising letter that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to" George W. Bush in 2004, before attempting again to fool the American public by renaming its election division "Premiere Elections Solutions" (same pig, fresh lipstick), just after stock prices plummeted again in August of this year to $47.60 as The BRAD BLOG noticed what appeared to us, and at least one financial analyst, to be possible insider trading among a number of company officials.
Prices have continued to fall ever since --- a lucky coincidence, no doubt, for those executives who just happened to unload a bunch of stock near the year's high at $53.05 - to today's 5-year low of $29.20.
Additional bad news arrived last Friday for Diebold when a new study by the state of Ohio found their systems to be easily hackable (again), with better news coming last Tuesday as the state of Colorado's own certification tests, surprisingly, gave their their machines a pass while decertifying many others. Yesterday, however, the reason for the inexplicable get-out-of-jail card they received in CO may have become a bit clearer: As it turns out, the Republican Secretary of State who oversaw the new certification testing, Mike Coffman, is running for Congress, and his campaign shares the same consultants as Diebold/Premier in the state. Go figure.
Diebold/Premiere's spokeshole, Chris Riggall told the Rocky Mountain News in response yesterday, that the company just had no idea about the extraordinary conflict of interest. But with the mission already accomplished, he announced to the paper: "Effective tonight that relationship is terminated."
With their stock-price still spiraling this morning, Diebold is quoted byCrain's Cleveland Business today as saying the company "anticipates [the DoJ] review will be completed in the first quarter of 2008" ... Though rest assured, The BRAD BLOG's review of the company won't be completed by then. Not by a long shot.
Merry Christmas, Diebold!
And if you'd like to wish The BRAD BLOG a Merry Christmas, we hope you'll feel free to consider sending a much needed ONLINE DONATION --- in dishonor of Diebold! --- as the holiday grows near.
Republicans in the Senate are refusing to allow an up-or-down vote on nominations to the FEC, which means that at the end of the year when the terms of four current appointees end --- including previously recess-appointed GOP "vote fraud" zealot Hans von Spakovsy --- there will not be enough commissioners to even hold a vote. An interesting, if troubling, notion for a Presidential Election year.
But, as the GOP would not allow votes on the three other nominees (two Democrats and one Republican) after a block had been put on von Spakovsky by Senators Obama (D-IL) and Feingold (D-WI), and as Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) plans to hold pro forma Senate sessions to keep Bush from making another inappropriate recess appointment to the committee, and as Bush also refuses to send up a replacement nominee for von Spakovsky...it looks like that's where we're headed.
So it looks like another GOP vote fraudster goes down for now, now that Democrats have chosen to stand up a bit, for a change. But like all of these guys --- and like any good Bond villain --- they may not stay "dead" for long.
RELATED: Speaking of which, our DoJ Voting Rights section sources tell us John "Minorities Die First" Tanner has stillnot left the office, as we originally reported in a late-night posting on Tuesday! That, despite having supposedly"resigned immediately" as of last Friday! What's going on here? Is he deleting files on his computer? Was his whole resignation, and supposed reassignment to another job in the Civil Rights Division, just a hoax to get Congress off the DoJ's back? We're trying to figure it out.
Writes one of our sources to The BRAD BLOG this evening: "Tanner is obviously having problems letting go. He's in the office every day. Since his office is in a corner of the building, nobody can be exactly sure what's going on."
Another Voting Section source also writes to say, "Tanner is still there." And adds, "Its awkward. His co-conspirators dine with him."
PSSST... Could someone on the House Judiciary Committee please call the DoJ Office of Legal Affairs and find out what the hell he's still doing in his office?! What is he waiting for, Christmas (of 2008?)
More when, and if, we can learn anything...
UPDATE 12/21/07: He was still in the office today, Friday, a full week after resigning last Friday "effective immediately". A staffer in the voting section, when we called to check, said she expected that he'd be back next Wednesday, after the long holiday weekend.
It looks like the now-resigned but newly-reassigned former chief of the Voting Section in the DoJ's Civil Rights Division, John "Minorities Die First" Tanner, may be having trouble letting go.
The BRAD BLOG received the following email from a DoJ insider who has requested anonymity. We've confirmed the details with another insider DoJ source...
Something odd is in the air at the voting section.
John Tanner, the chief that “resigned immediately” last Friday after extreme controversy seems to have not gotten the memo to depart. Tanner has been lingering in the chief’s office playing on his computer for the last two days. He claims to have needed time to “pack” but there is nothing left to pack. Could the announcement that he was leaving be a ruse to buy some Congressional peace??
In a follow up note, the source added some detail that the lingering Tanner "had all weekend to pack," but "had very very little actually to pack as he only has one file cabinet in his office."
A second DoJ source confirms the sorry tale. That source told The BRAD BLOG, that Tanner "has been in his office for the last two days" and "he has not been talking to anybody."
"He is ostensibly packing his office, but he has been there," the source told us, before both offered still more insight on the very different way that others were forced, by Tanner, to leave the section in a hurry when their time was up, and on the fete being held tonight by staffers, current and former, in his dishonor...
Abrams was outraged at the lateral move for Tanner, and his attempted re-writing of the history of his shameful record, in his "farewell email" to colleagues. Guests David Becker, a former DoJ Civil Rights Division attorney, now of People for the American Way (PFAW) and Washington Post's Dana Milbank, both concurred that Tanner's comments, as video-taped, and originally reported by The BRAD BLOG were instrumentally in his "demise".
The extension to the investigative series shores up Abrams' promise which concluded last week's "final" episode...
“Now while this was the last episode of this series, our 'Bush League' investigations are far from over. A new Attorney General has taken over. We are going to be watching very closely. The days of Justice Department malfeasance remaining under the mainstream media radar are over. You are on notice.”
Abrams once again showed a clip from our video, and this time with proper credit (Thank you!). He initially reported on the Tanner controversy, using a clip from our video, in the opening episode of the series last Monday.
As well, we heard yesterday from a producer on the show who told us they felt there would likely be much more to come in what may now be a now-continuing series. In the bargain, we were able to discuss a number of otherBRAD BLOG stories which may be of interest to them in future shows. So, stay tuned...
(Hat-tip to Alan Breslauer for both the above video, and the original video-tape of Tanner which started it all, from last October's National Latino Congreso here in Los Angeles, where he made his now-infamous remarks!)
A spokesman for Barack Obama (D-IL) sent us a statement decrying John Tanner's announced resignation today from his post as Chief of the DoJ Civil Rights Division's voting section, charging that his move to another post within the Civil Rights division amounts to little more than "simply shuffling deck chairs."
"It's unacceptable that the Administration is simply shuffling deck chairs by moving Mr. Tanner to another important position in the Justice Department. During his tenure, he made offensive, intolerant comments about minorities in an attempt to defend voter identification laws that threaten voting rights, and that's why I called on him to be fired. It's time we restore confidence in the Department by appointing public servants who are truly committed to upholding our civil rights."
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), chair of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, joins Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) on the other hand, in applauding the removal of Tanner from his post, saying in a statement (posted in full below) that "John Tanner’s resignation as Voting Section Chief at the Department of Justice provides the department with an opportunity to renew its commitment to the real problems facing voters and elections."
"I am hopeful that Mr. Tanner’s replacement will mark a departure from efforts to limit the participation of elderly and minority voters, and actually serve to remove obstacles to participation in the political process," said the elderly, but not-dead, African-American Congressman and voter from Michigan.
The complete statement from Conyers and Nadler follows below in full...
The controversial head of the DoJ Civil Rights Division, Voting Section, John Tanner, finally resigned from his position as of 11am ET this morning...
Today, John Tanner resigned from his position effective immediately as chief of the Civil Rights Division's voting section. His resignation email, with the subject line "Moving On" was sent out at approximately 11 AM to voting section staff. He said that he will be moving on to the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices.
"The resignation of John Tanner is long overdue," writes one happy voting section staffer to The BRAD BLOG this morning, saying that he and his colleagues are "overjoyed at the news."
"Since becoming Section Chief in 2005 and even before, Tanner demonstrated that he cared only about serving his Republican overlords' desire to suppress minority voting to help the Republican Party win elections and not about the enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. A great many long-time members of the Voting Section staff are overjoyed at the news of his departure," the staffer tells us, adding that a celebration is in the works.
"We are already planning a party for next week --- not a 'John Tanner goodbye party' but a 'goodbye John Tanner party.'"
At right is the most notable section of the now-infamous BRAD BLOG video, taped by our own Alan Breslauer at the National Latino Congreso in Los Angeles and which kicked off the most recent firestorm over Tanner's tenure. In it, as we reported exclusively at the time, Tanner explains his reasoning for over-ruling the majority opinion of career staffers in his own department in order to approve a controversial Photo ID polling place restriction in the state of Georgia. The measure was later found unconstitutional and declared to be a modern day Jim Crow-era poll tax by two federal courts.
Tanner says in the video, that though it's a "shame" that the elderly might be disenfranchised by such laws, "minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first."
"Mr. Tanner had a clear record of undermining the core mission of the section – protecting the right to vote," Rep. Jerrod Nadler, chair of a House Judiciary subcommittee which oversees Tanner's department, said in a statement today in response to the resignation. "Tanner was actively seeking to curtail that cornerstone of American democracy. The right to vote is the foundation of all our liberties and it must be protected."
The chair of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers, was so incensed by Tanner's comments, as well as his previous efforts at white-washing a DoJ investigation of election fraud and voter suppression during the 2004 Presidential Election in Ohio, hearings were called in the House in late October, featuring an even more shameful performance by Tanner (video highlights/lowlights here), who would be described by the Washington Post afterwards as "one sorry man."
In response to Tanner's testimony at the hearings, The BRAD BLOG posted a letter from a voting section staffer, excoriating his sworn comments to the panel as "not credible", adding that Tanner had "lost no time in twisting the truth" in his testimony.
Tanner's long, often rambling resignation email sent out this morning (posted in full at the bottom of this article) skillfully attempts to re-write the history of his shameful tenure. In it, he conflates past performance of the department, beginning with his original arrival at DoJ 30 years ago, with the Civil Rights division's more recent and politicized history during which six years passed without a single lawsuit against African-American voter suppression have being filed.
Just one such case was filed under the DoJ's Voting Rights Act Section 5 oversight mandate, and it was a reverse-discrimination case in which white voters in Mississippi were said to have been discriminated against.
A special series on "Bush League Justice" by MSNBC's Dan Abrams premiered this week. In it's opening episode on Monday, Abrams focused on the DoJ's disastrous Civil Rights Division, and once again played a clip from Tanner's "minorities...die first" comments which we originally captured.
"Under Mr. Tanner's leadership, the Justice Department essentially took positions that disenfranchised minorities and the elderly," Nadler echoed once more in his comments today.
The final installment of "Bush League Justice" on MSNBC Live with Dan Abrams deals with the controversial prosecution of former Democratic Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. Evidence suggests that Siegelman, who remains in prison, was wrongly prosecuted by prominent Alabama Republicans with the help of Karl Rove.
For starters, two prominent Republicans, Senator Jeff Sessions and Judge William Pryor Jr., were also named by the chief witness against Siegelman but were never even investigated. Further, a Republican lawyer working for Siegelman's political opponent has sworn under oath that he overheard key Republicans on Governor Riley's team discussing the case. He quotes one operative as saying:
"Not to worry, that he had already gotten it worked out with Karl, and Karl had spoken to the Department of Justice."
After a brief introduction, Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) and Harper's Scott Horton join Abrams for an in depth discussion about the case.
The third installment of "Bush League Justice" on MSNBC Live with Dan Abrams continued last night with an investigation into how the DoJ has targeted Democrats for investigation and prosecution. In fact, one study shows that Democrats have been investigated and prosecuted at nearly six times the rate of Republicans at the federal level. According to the study's author, the statistical possibility of this happening by chance is 1 in 10,000. Studies show that prosecutions on the state level are fairly even between Democrats and Republicans.
This is hardly surprising since the DoJ tracked which attorney's "Exhibited loyalty to the President and Attorney General" and which were members of the ultra-conservative Federalist Society.
Evaluating attorneys based on whether they were "loyal Bushies", according to former U.S. Attorney and current Senator, Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), is "disgraceful".
Also "troubling" to Abrams is the timing of investigations and prosecutions which often occurred right before elections, in violation of the DoJ's own procedures manual. When the Bushies were eventually caught doing so, they simply changed the manual.
Endlessly mundane and always uninformative, the moribund struggle for party nominations in what we so disrespectfully still call the "presidential campaign" inhabit a realm of such vacuous inanity one can palpably sense malignant tumors of ennui forming within.
While would-be Republican candidates spar for the GOP nomination by appealing to brain stem functions (that is, when they're not extolling us with tales of their heavenly devotion), Democrats carry themselves at only a marginally elevated level. This is not to say that there are not candidates --- on both sides --- who would like to raise the bar and address actual issues and policy, but those are shunned by our craven and cack-handed media mavens, who never seem to tire of their perceived role as king-maker in what has become --- for the world's "greatest democracy" --- an embarrassing spectacle of the most base and primitive dimensions. I suspect if media moguls could get Romney and Huckabee to square off in a cage fight, well, that would be next on the tour of the candidates. Who needs all this talk? Though the American public demand campaigns of substance, there appears too little of that on the political horizon, while furry idiots like Wolf Blitzer express puzzlement at the term "triangulating" as it pertains to Hillary Clinton.
What we constantly hear from the corporate media, though it is never stated quite so bluntly, is that those with the money become the kings. The American political campaign system is now a big-money bonanza for media corporations. These corporations prop up candidates with the most money knowing full well that that money will come straight back to them in the form of campaign advertising. The media are now simply advertisers for the biggest political spenders, which is perhaps the reason why the campaign cycle is now virtually continuous. It is a positive feedback loop, reinforcing in the minds of the public that the only viable candidates are the ones with the money, the polls reflect this, more money pours in for those "viable candidates," which in turn cycles right back to the media money machine.
Which is why I am constantly amazed that the so-called "progressive" blogs have chosen to endorse corporate-backed candidates like Hillary Clinton.
Though Dennis Kucinich espouses ideals resonant with most liberal voters, he is as marginalized by progressives as much as the mainstream media as "unelectable," though no one ever seems to understand or explain exactly what that means. Is it his ears?
By all appearances, blogs such as dKos, MyDD, etc, have now simply become another arm of the Democratic party and their backing of the major, big-money candidates simply because they are deemed "electable" entirely betrays the original purpose of their fora.
The State Department stepped in and literally "rescued" a 22-year-old woman being held captive by Halliburton in Iraq for 24-hours in a shipping container without food and water after she reported being gang raped in 2005, according to Representative Ted Poe (R-TX), who intervened after being contacted by the victim's father.
Yet none of the "six or seven perpetrators" has been brought to justice and it is not even clear if an investigation was ever conducted. Attorney Brian Wice surmises that the DoD, State Department, and DoJ have not pursued the case further because they "don't want this case to see the inside of a United States courtroom."
Reprentative Poe also believes that the federal government has the obligation to pursue the case and "hold [the perpetrators] accountable."
MSNBC's Dan Abram's coverage is at right. Visit the victim's Foundation for more information.
According to Abrams, the Bush administration "has turned the Division against the very people it was designed to protect. Instead of pursuing discrimination cases on behalf of African Americans, the Bush Civil Rights Division has focused on supposed reverse discrimination cases against whites and religious discrimination cases against Christians." Abrams points out that between 2001 and 2006, "not one voting discrimination case was brought on behalf of African Americans."
The segment continues with Abrams questioning former DoJ attorneys David Becker and Alia Malek about the Bush administration "stack[ing] the deck against Democrats." In one example given by Becker, congressional redistricting plans thought to favor Democrats would get "very, very, serious scrutiny" while redistrictings that favored Republicans would receive a "very hands off approach" even if, as was the case in Texas, the plan was unanimously found to discriminate against Hispanics by career Justice Department officials.
In addition to stacking the deck against Democrats, Abrams states that the Justice Department has been "hijacked" by the far right. After evidencing this claim with a couple of telling statistics, a somewhat exasperated Abrams continues, "They fundamentally changed what the Civil Rights Division does. It's no longer there to protect African Americans. It is to go after reverse discrimination cases and also to try and promote religion in schools and other public places."
Part 1 continues (at the 6:15 mark) with Abrams playing the "pretty amazing statement" by John Tanner, the current chief of the DoJ's Voting Rights Section, about minorities not being disenfranchised by Photo ID laws because they "don't become elderly the way white people do, they die first." Unfortunately Abrams, like many in the mainstream media, failed to credit The BRAD BLOG for our original video and reporting of the incident.
Despite the slight we look forward to more excellent reporting on this long overdue topic throughout the week.
Likely worth watching this week is Dan Abram's "Bush League Justice" series at 9pm ET Mon - Thur on MSNBC.
Blogging at MSNBC and Huff Po, Abrams says the series is in response to his "increasing frustration and outrage over how the Bush administration has politicized the usually apolitical Justice Department," which, he writes, has "significantly abused its authority to try to enhance power at the expense of any sense of objective justice" and has "decimated some of the most fundamental and cherished principles that define justice in this country."
He also goes on to focus on the breathtaking failures of the DoJ's Civil Rights division, which we've taken considerable notice of here at The BRAD BLOG --- including, but not limited to, most recently its Voting Section chief John "Minorities Die First" Tanner --- over the past several years...
Maybe most egregious is the now nearly unrecognizable Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. Since 1957, it has led the effort to enforce civil rights laws and the fight for minorities. Even Richard Nixon's effort to delay implementation of school desegregation was less radical than how this president has flipped the goals and mission of the Division and allowed it to become a tool of the radical right.
Instead of pursuing cases of discrimination against African Americans, the Division under President Bush has focused on supposed reverse discrimination against whites and religious discrimination cases against Christians. A Boston Globe report even showed that almost half of the new hires in that department who had "civil rights experience" had "experience" only in defending employers or --- fighting --- affirmative action.
Those in the Voting Rights Section of the Justice Department must really feel like they are in an upside down world. From 2001 to 2006, not one voting discrimination case was brought on behalf of African-American voters. Instead they have focused on alleged voter fraud cases that effectively target minority communities rather than protecting them.
Abrams goes on to point out several more troubling points about the Bush League DoJ, including a "University of Minnesota study conducted this year [which] shows that for every elected Republican investigated during this president's tenure, there were seven elected Democrats investigated."
A line in his final graf caught our eye as both the most inadvertently self-critical as well as the most incisive: "This series is long overdue."
Will The 2008 Vote Be Fair? That was the topic addressed by host David Brancaccio and former Justice Department official David Becker on NOW last Friday. Part I (at left, 10:01) begins with a discussion of Photo ID laws to prevent the "invented problem" of voter fraud. The discussion continues at the 6:15 mark on the topics of voter caging and voter purging --- when the DoJ requires jurisdictions to purge their voter rolls when they do not match census estimates.
Part II (at right, 9:50) begins with Becker explaining how the Bush 43 Justice Department has subverted its traditional mission: "During about a five year span, not one single case was brought on behalf of African Americans in the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division". Becker goes on to state that policies were established that favored Republicans and disfavored Democrats in an effort to "gam[e] the system" to retain power.
Next, Brancaccio and Becker explore how the U.S. Attorney scandal fits in to the bigger picture. Becker: "The DoJ, especially under Alberto Gonzales, was being used as an arm of the right wing of the Republican Party to effectuate partisan gains in elections". Finally, the program concludes with a discussion on voting machines and Florida's 13th District.
In brief, I became known to some as the "Diebold Whistleblower" when, in January of 2004, I stole and exposed legal documents [PDF] proving that Diebold Election Systems, Inc. was using and planned to continue using illegal, uncertified software in their California voting machines. (By the way, Diebold recently changed its name to Premier Election Solutions, but don't let that fool you; it's still the same bunch of idiots.) Details about my case can be found here and here [PDF].
The documents I stole were covered under attorney-client privilege, so my theft was a serious crime. In February of 2006 I was charged with three felonies. On November 20, 2006, I plead guilty to one felony count of unauthorized access to a computer, and in exchange for my guilty plea and a restitution payment of $10,000 to the law firm from which I stole the documents, the law firm promised they wouldn't bring a civil suit against me, and I was put on felony probation instead of being sent to jail. The term of probation was to be at least one year, and as much as three years.
Now, one year after my guilty plea, because I've stayed out of trouble and because I'm a first offender, the judge has reduced my felony to a misdemeanor. Sometime in 2008, my lawyers will petition the court to have my misdemeanor expunged.
The bad part is that the most troublesome aspect of my probation is still in force. Before I can accept a job at which I would use a computer networked to one or more other computers (basically any job for which I'd be qualified), any potential employer must write to the judge in my case, tell him that they know about my conviction and that they still want to hire me, and then we have to wait until the judge responds with a "yes" or a "no" before I can accept the job and start work (and then only if the judge says "yes"). So as you can see, employers will be falling all over themselves to hire me.
Meanwhile, my wife (an actor, filmmaker and writer) certainly hasn't lost her sense of humor. She had been calling me Felonious Punk, but now that I'm no longer a felon, she's switched to Mister Meanor. Ain't it great being married to a comedy writer?
To be clear, breaking attorney-client privilege is a very serious crime, and I accept responsibility for what I did. I'm still being punished for it, and so far the punishment has cost my wife and me over $210,000 - and counting. $210,000 is an enormous amount of money to us. My wife and I have paid and are continuing to pay a very high price for my crime.
But, as we're not Republicans, we might have expected that.
Which got me thinking about other crimes in America that have recently been committed or alleged, and what's happened to those involved. Among the first of many, Lewis "Scooter" Libby comes to mind...