Can still-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid do anything right? It wasn't enough that he blew two years of his mandate, since the Democrats took over Congress in 2006, with his usual pathetic dithering. It's not enough that following the 2008 election he rallied his fellow Democrats in the Senate to announce they'd not allow the seating of anybody chosen by beleaguered IL Governor Rod Blagojevich to fill the seat of Barack Obama, only to fold pathetically (and correctly) to allow the seating of Gov. Blagojevich's choice of Roland Burris to fill the seat of Barack Obama.
Now, in his second prominent act as Majority Leader since the election, as AP reports tonight, he's considering going ahead with the seating of MN's Al Franken, despite the fact that Franken's opponent, former Sen. Norm Coleman, is allowed, by state law, to challenge the results of the election --- which found that he lost by 225 votes --- in a court of law before the election is certified by the state's SoS and Governor.
Can Harry Reid do nothing right? According to AP tonight...
If he's confirmed, Attorney General nominee Eric Holder told the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee during confirmation hearings today, he'll review the Bush U.S. Attorney's decision to not prosecute former DoJ Civil Rights attorney Bradley Schlozman for his grotesque bastardization and politicization of the department as we detailed earlier this week. Schlozman, the DoJ's Inspector General found, broke federal law and custom vis a vis his hiring practices of only fellow whack-a-doodle wingnuts, and further went on to lie to Congress about during hearings (which is also a federal crime).
Said Holder during questioning by Sen. Dianne Feinstein...
As usual, BRAD BLOG readers were right in overwhelmingly determining, in our poll just after the New Year, that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would fold on his previous rhetoric promising to disallow the seating of anybody appointed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich to replace Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate. Roland Burris was sworn in as the newest U.S. Senator just minutes ago, as Reid and his fellow Dems stood in the background applauding.
Of course, as it turned out, it wasn't a difficult poll question to answer, given both the laws concerning such appointments, and the historical record of Reid's inability to either stick to his guns in any fight (ever) or, perhaps even more disturbingly, his failure to have even the slightest clue of when and with whom such battles should be picked.
Presuming Obama makes smart decisions at the White House (and that's certainly no safe assumption), there will only be so much he'll be able to accomplish --- ultimately, particularly after whatever honeymoon he's allowed is gone --- as long as Reid remains Majority Leader in the Senate, and Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer are Speaker and Majority Leader, respectively, in the U.S. House.
They are all three dinosaur fossils of a failed era, have a record of miserable incompetence and need to be replaced. The only question is will it be before or after a thumping in the midterm 2010 elections.
I've had this picture in my mind lately, an editorial cartoon-like drawing, of a dam about to break and someone (Obama?) leaning hard up against it in futile hopes of keeping it from bursting forth. The dam and its contents, in my mind's eye, are labeled "Bush Administration Crimes and Failures." I've been pondering, over the last several days, how we're soon likely to learn that everything we think we already know about the historically-unparalleled failures, crimes and cover-ups of the Bush administration, will likely prove to be barely the tip of the iceberg as the Bushies lose their power, and "the files" are finally opened for all to see.
It's likely to take years, after President Obama is sworn in next week, to unearth the entire breadth of the degradation, filth, corruption and dismantling of federal law and U.S. Constitution under the current administration, and to piece together all of the unshredded and likely-shredded evidence both, and to take in the information likely to pour forth from officials and former officials who finally find the courage to tell the world just how bad it all really was and is (even if many of them would now be doing so only to salvage their own hide.)
One hint of what will be found beyond the tip of that iceberg, or inside that near-to-bursting dam (take your metaphorical pick) comes in today's remarkable report [PDF] from the DoJ Inspector General on the illegal politicization of the hiring practices at the DoJ's Civil Rights Division and "other improper personnel actions" in the division.
It's remarkable on several fronts. Not only because it describes the politicization of the department under the Bushies, their strictly illegal hiring practices; their determined dismantling of a core of career attorneys devoted to years of legal-processes in the fight for civil rights; as well as perjury and out-and-out lying to Congress, but also because the report itself --- in one last classic stroke of corrupt Bush Administration gaming of the system --- was completed last July, prior to the election, but held for release until today, just 7 days before the criminals (or at least those who won't be still-embedded like cancer cells within the federal buearocracy for years to come) take their leave.
And, as if all of that isn't bad enough, with the out-and-out finding of criminal wrongdoing in the report (such as illegal hiring practices and lying about them to Congress), the Bush Administration's own DoJ has decided that no prosecutions should be brought against the Bush Administration's own DoJ for the Bush Administration's own DoJ's now-well-documented actions in breaking federal law.
The bastardization of the DoJ Civil Rights division is a topic which we've covered closely over the years here at The BRAD BLOG, and even played a part in helping to expose, for example, when the head of the Voting Section in that division, John Tanner, was forced to resign from his post, not long after we'd video-taped and published controversial (and inaccurate) comments he made at a 2007 conference in Los Angeles declaring that disenfranchising Photo ID restrictions at the polling place were more of a concern for the elderly than for African-Americans because "minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first."
(See our now-infamous video, shot by our own Alan Breslauer, at right.)
As today's (actually July's) report reveals, that wouldn't be the only unfortunate --- and one might say, "ironic", given his position --- derogatory remark made about African-Americans by Tanner. But the bulk of the report, it seems, is devoted to one Bradley Schlozman, who insidiously twisted the mission of the Civil Rights division, brought political prosecutions in order to try and affect the outcome of elections, in violation of written DoJ policy, and attempted (and arguably succeeded) in helping to engineer an outright illegal, and ideological purge --- an ethical cleansing, if you will --- at the department, in an attempt to stack it with far rightwing brethren from the Federalist Society, or "right thinking Americans" (RTAs), as he referred to them among friends...
On Monday, we reported on former Senator Norm Coleman's right to challenge the election results in Minnesota which found Al Franken the winner by 225 votes before Franken is officially seated by the Senate.
That is, of course, the appropriate way to allow for election challengers to have their day in court, without nearly-insurmountable prejudice being stacked against them by having their opponent already seated. Incredibly enough, that's not the way most states do it, as most send officially certified results to Congress --- effectively, and Constitutionally, according to judicial precedent, handing jurisdiction of the seating of the member to a partisan Congress, robbing voters and local courts of having the final say --- before legal election contests are fully settled.
On Tuesday, Coleman filed his expected election contest in state court, which Franken's attorneys memorably described as "the same thin gruel, warmed-over leftovers ... that they have been serving the last few weeks."
We've been on the road since the complaint was filed, and haven't had time to review the 204-page suit [PDF] ourselves, but thankfully, TPM's Eric Kleefeld has done so, and reports it as "a marvelous thing"...
Imagine the round-the-clock phony "outrage" from the Public-air Propagandists (Fund, Limbaugh, Hannity, etc.) you'd be hearing about "felons voting in the MN Senate race!" had the felon voted for Franken. Such as it is, however, he voted for Coleman, so it doesn't actually "matter".
But now that we're here, can we finally do away with these stupid restrictions on felons voting? Especially if they're out of jail, as this one was. He was on supervised release, after being convicted and imprisoned in 2004, when he was 20, for having sexual contact with a 15-year-old girl.
On Election Day, he had left a voice message for his supervisory agent that he was going out to vote, only to come home later to find out from the agent that he had broken the law. He has since pleaded guilty to illegally voting.
"I was just excited that the presidential election was coming up and I would be able to vote," he said. "I had never voted in my life. ... I really wasn't aware that I couldn't vote."
Why should felons --- often more directly affected than most by government laws, good ones or bad ones --- be disallowed from having a voice in the government that makes those laws? Particularly after they've served their time in jail?
I realize that may not be a "politically correct" point of view in many quarters. But I don't care. If you're out of jail, of voting age, able to participate in society, and are bound to the laws of that society, you ought to be able to excercise your voice in that society by being able to cast a vote in a democratically-held election. Period.
I realize that felons, even after release, may have other rights taken from them, but voting doesn't seem as if it should be one of them. If you have an argument to the contrary, of course, I'd certainly be interested in hearing what it is
"Democracy is not a machine. Sometimes it's messy and inconvenient, and reaching the best conclusion is never quick because speed is not the first objective, fairness is."
He also added, as if he was serious, "We are filing this contest to make absolutely sure every valid vote was counted."
The sore-loser Coleman, who refuses to move on, was explaining his tin-foil hat conspiracy theories of a stolen election to reporters and cry-baby supporters, as he made the sour-grapes comments which threaten democracy, as quoted above.
The state canvassing board in Minnesota has now certified Al Franken (D) as the winner over incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman (R) in the race for the U.S. Senate. Barring a successful legal challenge, which has now been filed by Coleman, Franken will have won the seat by an astoundingly close 225 votes, out of some 2.9 million cast.
But there's still a chance, albeit a slim one, for Coleman to reverse his fate. A very good provision in MN's law --- not found in most other states --- may delay Franken's seating, meaning he will not be sworn in with rest of Congress at the beginning of the new session slated to start tomorrow. Ultimately, however, the provisions should ensure that whoever is eventually sworn in to serve as the state's Senator will not be forced to serve under a cloud.
The voters of MN deserve that much, no matter how long it takes, and thankfully, like its hand-count laws, the state's provision requiring the completion of legal challenges before final certification is sent to Congress by the Sec. of State, is a model for the nation.
Would that all of the other states in the union had such a provision...
One last update before the two Jews running for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota stop to celebrate Christmas.
It's almost all over but the court case, and even that, if it happens, doesn't seem to have much left to stand on. In summary then, here's where we now are in the extraordinarily close U.S. Senate hand-count in MN...
[UPDATED at end of article with today's (Friday's) latest numbers.]
As thousands of challenged ballots from both Sen. Norm Coleman (R) and challenger Al Franken (D) are being decided by the bi-partisan state canvassing board in the U.S. Senate race in MN, AP says it's currently a 2 vote race, out of 2.9 million ballots cast, in favor of Franken.
That said, as all of the challenged ballots are finally counted over the next several days (and weeks), the lead could go back and forth a bit each night. The Star-Tribune, which puts today's margin at 5 votes in favor of Coleman, currently projects that Franken will ultimately win by 89 votes...
These are some of the folks whose votes that democracy-hating Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) is going to the state Supreme Court to keep from being counted in the U.S. Senate race in Minnesota...
The video, produced by challenger Al Franken's campaign, was described by the Coleman camp as "a new low." As Republicanists tend to project just about everything they do on others, we'd suggest that there may be "a new low" here, but in this case, it ain't coming from the Franken camp.
As we reported on Friday, the state canvassing board --- made up of Republicans (two are MN Supreme Court judges), Democrats, and Independents --- ruled unanimously in favor of counting the 1,600 or so absentee ballots which were improperly rejected by election officials and not counted originally in the state's razor-close U.S. Senate race.
Hopefully those ballots now will be counted, unless Coleman has his way in the Supreme Court where he hopes to get an order to stop the counting of legal ballots cast by folks like those seen in the video above. Nice.
CORRECTION: The original version of this article referred to 16,000 rather than 1,600 improperly rejected absentee ballots. The BRAD BLOG regrets the error.
As long promised, The BRAD BLOG has covered your electoral system 2008, fiercely and independently, like no other media outlet in the nation. Please support our work with a donation to help us keep going. If you like, we'll send you some great, award-winning election integrity documentary films in return! Details on that right here...
[Ed Note: Now updated at bottom, with Coleman's attempts to have the state Supreme Court stop the counting, ala Bush/GOP's FL 2000 playbook.]
We've been on the road for several weeks, and haven't been able to report on the day-to-day details of the hand count of the razor-thin U.S. Senate race in Minnesota between incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman (R) and challenger Al Franken (D). Happily, the mainstream coverage of the counting has been pretty good (surprisingly so), so we haven't felt the need to jump in to fill in the untold stories.
But today is an important one, and has resulted in two very key wins today at the State Canvassing Board for Franken, who has recently claimed that he's up by just 4 votes in the race, presuming that the thousands of challenged ballots (by both sides) are decided by the board the way his team believes they will be.
As of this afternoon, things are looking good --- very good --- for Franken...
Before the editors had at it, it was titled in full: "Democrats to the Blogosphere: Thanks for Everything, Now Go Away".
And, by way of value-added content here, these were the first two grafs of the piece before they were excised for length reasons on the published final product...
The Bush administration and Republicans in Congress stored up plenty of good will over the last eight years...for a Democratic sweep on November 4th. But it wasn't necessarily enough good will to lead Progressives to look the other way when Barack Obama and the Democratic leadership start snubbing those who brung 'em to the dance --- and both of them are getting a good start at it right out of the box.
Barrack Obama promised "change", but didn't necessarily explain "change from what". Somehow, many of those who supported and voted for him got the notion that his calls for "change" meant change from the old politics of both the failed Republican and Democratic party leadership. I don't know where they got that idea
Now go read the Guardian column which, largely, picks up after the above. Your comments there, and/or here, always welcome, of course.
Math/statistics/poll-wiz Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com predicts the race between incumbent MN Sen. Norm Coleman (R) and challenger Al Franken (D) could result in a 27 vote win for Franken. That's right, just 27 votes.
With that in mind, every single vote matters, so it's of note that the Franken campaign is now wondering about some missing ballots in a number of counties. From Public Record's coverage last night:
According to the secretary of state's website, 1,074 people in Clay County voted on Election Day but only 1,069 ballots were produced by the county for the recount. In St. Louis County, 1,649 people voted on Election Day but the county turned over 1,646 ballots for the recount. And in Washington County, 1,464 voted on Election Day but 1,449 ballots were turned over for the recount. The shortfall can easily shift the election to Franken or Coleman's favor because the race between the candidates is so close.
That in mind, we'll take the opportunity to remind both parties in the recount of our earlier suggestion that they make public records requests (if they haven't already) for the invoices from printers of all of the original ballots, and then request that all ballots --- including unvoted ballots --- be counted as part of the final reconciliation of ballots. The number of voted, spoiled, and unvoted ballots should be exactly equal to the number of ballots shown as printed originally on those invoices. If not, there's a problem.
But while ballots have now turned up "missing," and absentees have been tossed from the hand count, the GOP seems to be preparing for a FL 2000 PR gambit to "win" at all costs...
We've got a few more notes/thoughts on a couple of related ballot issues that have bubbled up over the last few days as we've been driving across the country. Given the closeness of this race, these issues could ultimately end up deciding it one way or another, even as the GOP seems to be preparing a FL 2000 PR gambit to "win" at all costs, no matter the final outcome of the hand-count...