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Which Franken will we now get in the U.S. Senate?...
By Brad Friedman on 7/8/2009 11:02am PT  

TheUptake continues their important role of sharing with the citizenry every step of the long U.S. Senate contest in Minnesota, with some "backstage" video of Sen. Al Franken, thanking supporters at a luncheon in his honor, following his swearing-in yesterday...

And now we'll find out --- over time I'd think --- which Al Franken we'll get in the U.S. Senate. Will it be the feisty, funny, dogged, hypocrite-busting, pre-Air America best-selling author Franken? The too-careful, not-so-funny, conservative Air America stalwart party-Democrat Franken? Or will it be the independent, heroic, and courageous Paul Wellstone progressive Franken, whose seat Franken now fills, and whom he so often nods to, as he does with a few tears at the top of the video above, and again at the end when he notes, through more tears, what Wellstone "said politics is about...It's not about power, it's not about elections, it's about improving people's lives."

Good luck, Senator. Please choose wisely.

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By Brad Friedman on 7/3/2009 10:54am PT  

UpTake.org interviews Senator-Elect Al Franken: "I want to thank the UpTake for what you did during the recount and the contest, for making it so transparent, what the process was, the transparency of it. It was an unbelievable great service."

On that point, we'll concur with Franken wholeheartedly. Their coverage alone helps make specious, partisan propaganda disguised as commentary, like the WSJ's, even more laughable and baseless than it already was.

The UpTake's live video, radio, and live-blog coverage and analysis of every step in the Franken/Coleman hand count, election contest, etc., set the standard for the very best of indispensable citizen journalism. Big thanks and kudos are owed Michael McIntee, Noah Kunin, et al! Take a well-deserved victory lap, guys!

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Debunking evidence-free, sore-loser wingnuttery from John Fund and fiends. Again...
By Brad Friedman on 7/3/2009 9:45am PT  

In an unbylined Wall Street Journal editorial (why a liar and sore-loser like WSJ/GOP operative John Fund is so ashamed to put his name on his own writing we'll never know...okay, maybe we do), the once-respectable paper shamelessly asserts: "Mr. Franken now goes to the Senate having effectively stolen an election."

In response, we'll associate ourselves with TPM's Eric Kleefeld's take on it, calling it "an essay that is so full of factual errors and distortions about what happened, it can drive you nuts if you'd spent countless hours following all the gritty details like I did."

It's all par for the cowardly John Fund course, of course.

But since the sore-losing, sour-grapes, tin-foil hatted conspiracy theorists of the Wall Street Journal have taken the opportunity to propagandize the transparent Franken/Coleman election results by comparing them to the 2004 Washington state Gubernatorial race, where the Democratic candidate Christine Gregoire defeated Republican Dino Rossi during a long, sloppy post-election contest and court case, let's remind folks for the record, here in the reality-based community, what the judges in each case found in regard to the keyboard wingnut claims of "fraud"...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Brad Friedman on 7/1/2009 10:05pm PT  

Please check out my editorial in response to the Franken election, as published at the UK's Guardian yesterday just after the MN Supreme Court verdict. Here's a taste...

When ballots are counted in secret (or, in many cases, not counted at all), democracy is dangerously imperiled. Lucky for Minnesotans, that wasn't the case up there, even if it meant some eight months without proper representation in the US Congress. It was worth the wait.

Transparency was no match for the conspiracy theorists, including the RSCC, the head of the Republican party and even the Republican National Lawyers Association, who embarrassingly joined the black helicopter crowd in touting evidence-free claims of Franken's "efforts to steal a seat in the United States Senate."
...
When democracy is visible to all, it works. When it becomes buried behind secrecy, insider tabulations and computerized black boxes, the very basis of our system of government is put dangerously at stake.

Transparency wins again. Along with the voters of Minnesota. Nice to see the voters win one for a change.

Check out the whole thing, if only for some of the whacky comments posted by some of the wingnut dead-enders over there. One of them, "MikeMichigan" wrote in response to my piece, channeling every nutball with a primetime show over in Crazy Land (aka Fox "News")...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Former Republican Senator's appeal unanimously rejected by state's high court; Franken 'entitled' to certification
[Update] Brad at UK Guardian: 'Voters win one for a change'...
By Brad Friedman on 6/30/2009 11:14am PT  

[Updated several times at end of article...]

The Minnesota Supreme Court has just ruled that Democrat Al Franken will be the state's next U.S. Senator, bringing to a close the months-long contest against former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman.

The decision was a unanimous 5 to 0 ruling, finding that Franken was "entitled" to be certified by the state's Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty and its Democratic Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.

Pawlenty has recently said he would sign the certification for Franken, if ordered to do so by the MN Supremes. The state requires a signature for certification from both the Governor and the Sec. of State before Congress members may be seated. State law also allows for all election contests to be settled in the state before certification is signed.

Franken's seating would give Democrats a theoretical 60-seat, filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, following Arlen Specter's recent move to the Democratic party.

Franken, an author, former radio talk-show host, and comedian, was found, by a three-judge, tri-partisan election contest panel to have won the election by 312 votes following an historic, painstakingly careful hand count of nearly 3 million paper ballots cast in last November's election. Coleman may now appeal the decisions of the state canvassing board, the three-judge election contest panel, and the unanimous decision of the state Supreme Court to the U.S. Supreme Court...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Or, 'Why corporate control of the media may be hazardous to your health'...
By Ernest A. Canning on 6/5/2009 2:15pm PT  

Guest Editorial by Ernest A. Canning

"Americans think that it’s healthcare that produces health, when there really is very little evidence for that. What turns out to be really important is the nature of caring and sharing in society….Where societies are more equal --- and economic equality is the thing that is most important in this --- people look after each other…and pretty well everyone does better. There’s almost nothing that is better in a society that tolerates the extreme levels of inequality in the United States. And so, we end up dying younger than people in all the other rich countries, despite spending half the world’s healthcare bill." - Dr. Stephen Bezruchka, March 30, 2009

"Who are we? Is this what we have become --- a nation that dumps people off like garbage who can't pay their hospital bills?" - Michael Moore, following a segment in which a confused elderly woman in a flimsy hospital gown is dumped curbside near a Skid Row rescue mission, in his documentary Sicko!*

In Failed States (2006), Prof. Noam Chomsky, a preeminent linguist and one of this nation’s most prolific political writers, concludes that the U.S. suffers from a “democracy deficit” --- the significant gap between the policy positions of the electorate and their elected representatives --- which he attributes to the manner in which “elections are skillfully managed to avoid issues and marginalize the underlying population…freeing the elected leadership to serve the substantial people.”

The deficit is especially acute in what Chomsky describes as “the most dysfunctional healthcare system in the industrial world.” Chomsky notes that a single-payer system --- that is a system in which all medical providers would be paid by a government entity as now occurs with Medicare --- has long been overwhelmingly favored by “a considerable majority” of the American people, but routinely dismissed by both the corporate media and the leaders of both political parties as “lacking political support” and not being “politically possible.”

The issue touches on the core contradictions which arise because we have allowed private authoritarian entities, corporations, to subvert democracy by controlling our economy, our mass media and the manner in which we conduct elections.

This piece will focus on the irrationality of a privatized health care system which values the wealth of a handful of CEOs of the parasitic and entirely unnecessary middle-men --- for-profit carriers and HMOs --- over the health and very lives of our people. It will explain what corporate America and their bought-and-paid-for politicians do not want you to hear...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Update: Coleman may throw in towel if he loses at MN Supreme Court, according to Roll Call 'sources'...
By Ernest A. Canning on 6/3/2009 4:53pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (R) informed MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell:

I can't sign the certificate until the State court process is complete. We don't know who the winner is, but as soon as that process is complete and they give direction as to signing the certificate, I'm going to sign it…

Pawlenty's remarks are consistent with MN Election Law as interpreted [PDF] by the MN Supreme Court in Franken v. Pawlenty. (The latest MN Supreme Court action in Coleman v. Franken was recently covered here). MN law prevents either Governor Pawlenty (R) or Secretary of State Mark Ritchie (D) from signing the certificate once an election contest has commenced and before it is completed in state court. It is also consistent with the legal argument presented by Al Franken in his MN Supreme Court brief [PDF] that the MN Supreme Court should order the Governor and Secretary of State to perform what amounts to a "ministerial duty" to sign and countersign the certification of election upon the completion of the state court process. This statement follows, within one day, Pawlenty's announcement that he would not seek a third term as Governor.

[Hat-tip BRAD BLOG commenter 'FreedomOfInformationAct']

UPDATE 6/4/09: Roll Call now reports that Coleman also may be ready to throw in the towel if he loses at the MN Supremes: "Sources close to Coleman say the former Senator would likely give up his legal battle and accept defeat if the Minnesota Supreme Court decides in Franken's favor. That's because Coleman anticipates that Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) would ultimately sign Franken's certification papers."

The BRAD BLOG covers your electoral system fiercely and independently, like no other media outlet in the nation. Please support our work with a donation to help us keep going (Snail mail, more options here). If you like, we'll send you some great, award-winning election integrity documentary films in return! Details right here...
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Coleman Attny: 'Send it back to 3-judge panel'; Franken Attny: 'Confident' he'll be seated...
By Ernest A. Canning on 6/1/2009 10:42am PT  

Guest Blogged by Ernest A. Canning

From their respective press conferences following today's oral argument at the Minnesota Supreme Court on former Senator Norm Coleman's appeal of the results of his U.S. Senate election contest...

"We are asking that the court send it back to the three judge panel to apply the same standard as election night...Our case is in the offers of proof." - Coleman attorney Joe Friedberg

"The most important question is how long it will take to enfranchise 4,000 Minnesotans." - Former Senator Norm Coleman

"With a ruling from the State Supreme Court we’ll be at the end of this process...I am confident that at the end of the process...Al Franken will be seated." - Franken attorney Marc Elias

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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'Virtually identical' to previous arguments, legal team says; Also seeking order directing Gov & SoS to certify Franken's electoral victory
Oral argument set for June 1...
By Ernest A. Canning on 5/12/2009 3:51pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Ernest A. Canning

During a news conference yesterday (video here courtesy of TheUptake.org) Marc Elias, representing Sen.-elect Al Franken in the election contest brought by former Sen. Norm Coleman, announced the filing of Franken's brief [PDF] responding to Coleman's appeal [PDF] of the decision by the tri-partisan, three-judge election contest panel's ruling which found: "Franken received the highest number of lawfully cast ballots in the November 4, 2008 general election for United States Senator and is entitled to receive the certificate of election."

Noting that, because of its ability to make credibility determinations, a trial court's factual findings are entitled to "great deference" in an appeal, Elias observed that Coleman had a "heavy burden" in showing that the three-judge panel erred on the facts and the law. He says it's a burden the Coleman team has not met in their appellate arguments. Elias noted that the legal contentions made in Coleman's opening brief were "virtually identical" to those that were made and rejected by the three-judge panel.

We discussed Coleman's arguments, and the three-judge panel's rejection of them, last month in 'For Coleman, the End is Near...'. As our legal analysis detailed, we agree with Elias' May 11, 2009 assertion that the Coleman legal challenge is "without merit."

For example, per Elias, Coleman attorney Ben Ginsberg continues to tell the media that 4,400 uncounted absentee ballots were improperly rejected, but as we observed...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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By Brad Friedman on 5/9/2009 12:22pm PT  

A few quick-hit gems worth noting from Josh Marshall and David Kurtz at TPM over the last day or two...

SUMMER BLOCKBUSTER

Anticipate Karl Rove's long-awaited testimony before Congress about the US Attorney firings sometime in early June, Rove's lawyer tells TPMmuckraker.
...

FIRST THEY CAME FOR ARLEN, NOW JOE

Not to be outdone in an effort to eke out a few more minutes in the spotlight, Joe The Plumber announces he too has had enough and is leaving the Republican party.

Of course, in Joe's case, it does raise the question of what party or militia he's leaving the GOP to join. Any ideas?
...

NOT AS BRAVE AS WE USED TO BE

Number of Gitmo detainees that the GOP hopes to keep off mainland U.S. soil with its "Keep Terrorists Out Of America Act": roughly 250.

Number of Axis POWs detained in camps on the U.S. mainland at the end of WWII: roughly 425,000.
...

SOME THINGS NEVER FAIL TO SURPRISE

Can it really be true that the list of Americans who will appear on the Sunday shows this weekend is David Petraeus, Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich and John McCain?

I guess it really is a center-right nation.

Our observation on the final item above: Looks like those old "Liberal Media" are still partying like it's 1999 2007. Color us shocked. Shocked!

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By Brad Friedman on 5/7/2009 4:45pm PT  

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC): "My hope is that our Democratic colleagues - if you start listening to the bloggers - if we're going to let the bloggers run the country, then the country's best days are behind us."

Out of touch much, Senator? We suspect if the bloggers actually did run the country, we'd be much better off (if only because you'd be out of office.)

But perhaps Graham is confusing responsible, educated "bloggers" with the right-wingnut "bloggers" he's likely more familiar with. For example, here's the very popular (on the Right) Dijon deranged wingnut "Gateway Pundit," Jim Hoft, with his insightful perspective on the important news of the day yesterday:

They're just two ordinary metrosexual guys going out for a burger ... Obama and Biden, two ordinary guys, go out for a sandwich and Obama asks for Dijon mustard at Joe's Hell Burger. ...I hear it's delish with arugula lettuce. Yum-Yum.

If that's who you meant by "bloggers," Senator --- and we're ashamed that Hoft represents our former hometown of St. Louis, MO --- we might agree with you.

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The former FBI translator and whistleblower suggests blackmail may be at the heart of Congressional refusal to bring accountability and oversight to its own members - such as both Hastert and Harman - in matters of espionage and national security
Exclusive to The BRAD BLOG...
By Sibel Edmonds on 5/4/2009 1:41pm PT  

Guest Editorial by Sibel Edmonds

I have been known to quote long-dead men in my past writings. Whether eloquently expressed thoughts by our founding fathers, or those artfully expressed by ancient Greek thinkers, these quotes have always done a better job starting or ending my thoughts - that tend to be expressed in long winding sentences. For this piece I am going to break with tradition and start with an appropriate quote from a living current senator, John Kerry: "It's a sad day when you have members of Congress who are literally criminals go undisciplined by their colleagues. No wonder people look at Washington and know this city is broken."

The people do indeed look at Washington and know that this city is 'badly' broken, Senator Kerry. The public confidence in our Congress has been declining drastically. Recent poll results highlight how the American people's trust in their Congress has hit rock bottom. A survey of progressive blogs easily confirms the rage rightfully directed at our Congress for abdicating its role of oversight and accountability. Activists scream about promised hearings that never took place - without explanation. They express outrage when investigations are dropped without any justification. And they genuinely wonder out loud why, especially after they helped secure a major victory for the Democrats. The same Democrats who had for years pointed fingers at their big bad Republican majority colleagues as the main impediment preventing them from fulfilling what was expected of them.

The recent stunning but not unexpected revelations regarding Jane Harman (D-CA) by the Congressional Quarterly provide us with a little glimpse into one of the main reasons behind the steady decline in the integrity of Congress. But the story is almost dead - ready to bite the dust, thanks to our mainstream media's insistence on burying 'real' issues or stories that delve deep into the causes of our nation's continuous downward slide. In this particular case, the 'thank you' should also be extended to certain blogosphere propagandists who, blinded by their partisanship, myopic in their assessments, and ignorant in their knowledge of the inner workings of our late Congress and intelligence agencies, helped in the post-burial cremation of this case.

Ironically but understandably, the Harman case has become one of rare unequivocal bipartisanship, when no one from either side of the partisan aisle utters a word. How many House or Senate Republicans have you heard screaming, or even better, calling for an investigation? The right wing remains silent. Some may have their hand, directly or indirectly, in the same AIPAC cookie jar. Others may still feel the heavy baggage of their own party's tainted colleagues; after all, they have had their share of Abramoffs, Hasterts and the like, silently lurking in the background, albeit dimmer every day. Some on the left, after an initial silence that easily could have been mistaken for shock, are jumping from one foot to the other, like a cat on a hot tin roof, making one excuse after another; playing the 'victims of Executive Branch eavesdropping' card, the same very 'evil doing' they happened to support vehemently. Some have been dialing their trusted guardian angels within the mainstream media and certain fairly visible alternative outlets. They need no longer worry, since these guardian angels seem to have blacked out the story, and have done so without the apparent need for much arm twisting...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---

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Senator-elect Franken, when seated, will give democrats a filibuster-proof majority...
By Ernest A. Canning on 4/28/2009 1:06pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Ernest A. Canning

The New York Times just reported:

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania said on Tuesday he would switch to the Democratic party, presenting Democrats with a possible 60th vote and the power to break Senate filibusters as they try to advance the Obama administration’s new agenda.

Specter's announcement reflects an estrangement from the increasingly authoritarian, hard-right ideologues who now control the shattered remnants of the Republican Party. In California, the Republican Party passed a resolution to deny funding to six Republican lawmakers who joined with Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democrats, passing a budget to prevent this state from falling into an economic abyss. In the U.S. House of Representatives, every Republican acted as one to say “no” to a vital stimulus, offering only the very measures that led to the current economic meltdown—tax cuts for the wealthy. Three Republican Senators, Arlen Specter, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, had no sooner broke ranks in voting for a compromise version of the stimulus package before they found themselves targeted by conservative groups, with Specter facing a primary challenge from hard-right Republican Pat Toomey.

It is a testament to how far the remnants of the Republican Party have moved to the right that RNC Chairman Michael Steele suggests Specter would have been defeated by Toomey because of the former moderate Republican's "left-wing voting record."

As we pointed out previously, upon the anticipated denial of former Senator Norm Coleman's appeal by the MN Supreme Court, Senator-elect "Franken...would be in a solid position --- legally and politically --- to then lobby the Senate hard and directly for an immediate seating, even if Coleman chooses to continue his fool's errand with an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court." Franken would become the 60th member of the Senate Democratic Caucus, ending the ability of the 'Party of No' to block the Democratic agenda --- unless either Susan Collins or Olympia Snowe beat him to it.

UPDATE 4/29, 5:55pm PT: In an op-ed appearing in today's New York Times Senator Snowe observed that "being a Republican moderate sometimes feels like being a cast member of 'Survivor' --- you are presented with multiple challenges, and you often get the distinct feeling that you’re no longer welcome in the tribe." Whether that means that she would be prepared to follow Specter off the reservation remains to be seen.

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By Ernest A. Canning on 4/20/2009 9:51pm PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

Operating out of an undisclosed location, former Sen. Norm Coleman's attorney, Ben Ginsberg, announced that the Coleman legal team had filed a notice of appeal with the Minnesota Supreme Court, seeking to overturn the three-judge panel decision [PDF] declaring that Al "Franken received the highest number of lawfully cast ballots in the November 4, 2008 general election for United States Senator and is entitled to receive the certificate of election."

Ginsberg asserted that the appeal was based on the same contentions made during the course of the election contest, especially as it relates to equal protection and an alleged disenfranchisement of some 4,400 Minnesota voters.

Franken attorney, Marc Elias, responded, noting that five of the six claims made by Coleman's appeal seek not to add additional votes but to delete votes already counted. Elias announced on TheUptake.org that he plans to file a motion on Tuesday with the MN Supreme Court asking that the court order expedited briefing, with Coleman's brief to be filed by Monday Apr. 27, and Franken's response on May 2.

There's not a whole lot new or unexpected yet here, for the moment, though a review of the political balance of the MN Supreme Court who will hear Coleman's appeal is probably worth a quick look, right about now...

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The MN Contest Court's air-tight, 68-page decision leaves no room for doubt: Franken won; But when will he be seated?
We take a look at his options...
By Ernest A. Canning on 4/16/2009 3:48pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Ernest A. Canning

“This long delay in the seating of Minnesota’s second U.S. Senator has come at a time when our state badly needs help from Washington. Since Election Day, Minnesota has lost 56,000 jobs. Since Election Day more than 9,000 Minnesota families have lost their homes to foreclosure.”
--Senator-elect Al Franken (D-MN), 4/13/09 statement

The Monday, April 13, 2009 decision [PDF] came as as no surprise, certainly not here at The BRAD BLOG where we concluded on Feb. 22, 2009 that former Sen. Norm Coleman’s legal challenge to the Jan. 5, 2009 bi-partisan MN state canvassing board's determination that Al Franken had won the U.S. Senate election was “dead in its tracks.”

Earlier this month, at a time when the mainstream media got it wrong, we accurately reported that the April 7, 2009 order [PDF] meant that the last of the lawfully cast votes had been counted; that Franken won, and; Coleman lost. We went on to predict that the three-judge panel would likely “provide a written explanation of its denial of any other relief…when it enters a final judgment…” We added: “But make no mistake. There are no more votes to be counted. 312 votes is the margin of victory for Al Franken over Norm Coleman.”

In fact, there were no more votes to be counted, as we reported, even as the bulk of the rest of the media hedged their bets. So with the votes all tallied determining that Franken was the victor, and Coleman lacking any legitimate legal recourse, what are Franken's legal and political options, and when might he finally take his rightful seat in the U.S. Senate?...

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