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The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


By Brad Friedman on 10/5/2007 5:08pm PT  

Paul Kiel at TPM has an interesting late update on the Senate hold, by Obama and Feingold, on Hans von Spakovsky's nomination to the FEC, which we reported yesterday. New details/analysis on the "game of chicken" now in play in the Senate, along with the ramifications for the FEC in 2008 if a stalemate continues...and what Bush could do about it.

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PLUS: BRAD BLOG Issues a Challenge of Our Own...
By Brad Friedman on 10/5/2007 3:00pm PT  

We've suggested that our friends at Why Tuesday? change their tagline ("Fixing our voting system, one question at a time") for what seems to us an obvious reason. They're doing good work so far on their new video blog site, but given the topics they're dealing with, we'd suggest our system is already "fixed" enough thanks.

That said, they recently issued a candidate challenge to all of the presidential candidates, asking them to respond to three specific questions concerning their plans for Election Reform.

We're hoping in the near future, they will add the following question to their challenge: "Do you support a paper ballot --- not a 'paper trail' or a 'paper record,' but a paper ballot, and one that is actually counted --- for every vote cast in America?"

In the meantime, we'd encourage those of you out there going to candidate events (both Republican and Democrat) to ask such a question of the candidates if you can, and capture it on video. Do that, and send us the clip (or a link to it on YouTube, etc.) and we'll get it up on The BRAD BLOG, and perhaps even on Why Tuesday? as well.

So far, the first response they've been able to get to their challenge is from Joe Biden when WT?'s Exec. Director Jacob Soboroff ran into him recently at a D.C. coffee shop. Biden's comments are at the right.

We'll note that, while not asked about it specifically, he first refers to a "paper trail," but later refers to a "paper ballot" and wants a standardized system used across the country. He also mentions that full public financing of presidential and congressional elections will do more than anything to reform the system as he sees it. Let us know what you think.

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WaPo Joins Ted Olson in Supporting the Bill, Opposes Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald for Criticizing It
As GOP-Introduced Bill Heads to Full Senate...
By Margie Burns on 10/5/2007 6:35am PT  

Guest Blogged by BRAD BLOG's D.C. Correspondent, Margie Burns

It was a big day on Thursday in the national capital, with several flaming surges hitting the news at once – the Washington Post hooking up with the MSM campaign to put “Hillary” over the top before the magic deadline of October 15 (more on that later, elsewhere); Rep. Henry Waxman and the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee holding a powerful hearing on Iraqi corruption; the blocking of Hans von Spakovsky's nomination to the FEC; and discussion of a proposed federal shield law for journalists (full text of bill here), which was reported out of the Senate Judiciary Committee today to the full Senate.

While I was able to sit in for hearings on two of the items above, space and time regrettably being constraints, I'll cover only the proposed shield law for the moment. Right up top, I have to say that I have qualms about it. A real leak, by a whistleblower exposing a crime or some danger to the public, is one thing. But protecting journalists from exposing a politically motivated ‘source’ trying to plant misinformation is another. This bill, as it was debated in committee and written about in papers yesterday, might equally protect both, if it protects either...

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

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'Not Gay' Senator Says He'll Stay in Senate Anyway...
By Brad Friedman on 10/4/2007 1:52pm PT  

Does this mean he is gay after all? It's all so confusing.

(P.S. We still love our wife!)

UPDATE: Two very short related sound clips for your bemusement...

Nasty Boy...

Mr. Closeted Conservative Congressman...

LATER UPDATE: The inimitable Josh Marshall weighs in on The Genius of Larry Craig, Senator, master of crisis management.

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Stops Harry Reid's 'Deal' to Move Forward with GOP 'Voter Fraud' Zealot's FEC Nomination...
UPDATE: Feingold Joins with Obama, Issues Joint Statement
By Brad Friedman on 10/4/2007 11:09am PT  

[2/25/08: Welcome to Hugh Hewitt's Townhall blog readers! You should know that you are being misled by Patrick Ruffini's disinformational blog item today. Please see our response to it here so that you get the full story on what is actually going on with the FEC nominations in the Senate, which are currently being blocked by the Republican leadership in that body.]

A Democrat does the right thing for a change! What are the odds these days? And will it hold?

Senator and Presidential Candidate Barack Obama (D-IL), had recently (and correctly) called on Bush to send up an "acceptable" nominee to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), instead of the anti-Democracy, anti-voter villain Hans von Spakovsky.

"His record of poor management, divisiveness, and inappropriate partisanship makes him an unacceptable nominee to the FEC," Obama had previously said. "I am particularly concerned with his efforts to undermine voting rights at the Civil Rights Division during his tenure at the Department of Justice."

And for a change, we have a Democrat who has decided to put his money where his mouth is! For now.

Roll Call (subscription req'd) is reporting that Harry Reid (D-NV) and the Democratic Leadership had shamefully "struck a deal" with Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KS) to slide four FEC nominations, including the GOP "voter fraud" zealot, von Spakovsky, through the Senate on a voice vote, unless any Senators objected.

Obama did object today and succeeded in blocking the vote. Bravo! Don't back down, Senator!

TPM has more details from the Roll Call report. Loyola law professor Rick Hasen offers speculation on what comes next.

For more on the evil von Spakovsky, our extensive coverage of the Bush crony/operative began in late 2005 as he was nominated and then recess appointed by Bush to the FEC. While at the Civil Rights division at the DoJ, he was, among other embarrassing affairs, at the heart of the successful national GOP strategy to gut the beloved Voting Rights Act of 1965. Who better to sit on the FEC?! And in a Presidential Election year no less!

We've requested a comment/explanation from Reid's office on what he must have been thinking. Will update this item if we get one.

UPDATE: Russ Feingold (D-WI) joined Obama in blocking the vote on vS. They've just issued this joint statement:

"While at the Department of Justice, Hans von Spakovsky was directly involved in efforts to politicize the Department and use the Voting Rights Section to disenfranchise voters, rather than enforce our nation's civil rights laws. As a recess appointee to the FEC he has been a committed, ideological opponent of the campaign finance laws he is supposed to enforce. Putting him at the head of the FEC is just another example of this administration putting the fox in charge of the hen house. We oppose his nomination, and any effort to tie his nomination to the other pending nominations to the FEC."

Still no word on what Reid must have been thinking.

UPDATE 10/5/07: Paul Kiel updates the story with the "game of chicken" now in play in the Senate, and the ramifications for 2008 if a stalemate continues.

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Had Previously Claimed US Founded as 'Christian Nation'
By Arlen Parsa on 9/30/2007 11:32am PT  

Guest Blogged by Arlen Parsa of The Daily Background


Recently, John McCain gave an interview to a religious website called Beliefnet. The only topic of conversation was religion. At right is a short mashup of the most egregious moments from the interview.

As you can imagine, it's created, um, a bit of a hubbub. And rightfully so- the New York Times ran the headline McCain Casts Muslims as Less Fit to Lead; Carpetbagger went with McCain sees Constitution establishing a ‘Christian nation.’

In brief statement issued by his campaign, McCain is hoping to clear up any confusion. "I would vote for a Muslim if he or she was the candidate best able to lead the country and defend our political values," the Senator is quoted as now saying.

And yet, as can clearly be seen in the above video, McCain states the following about what he thinks the number one prerequisite for being president should be:

"I think the number one issue people should make [in the] selection of the President of the United States is, 'Will this person carry on in the Judeo Christian principled tradition that has made this nation the greatest experiment in the history of mankind?'"

And yet now he claims that he'd be okay with voting for a Muslim candidate?

As Steven Benen says today at TPM, apparently the Senator "was for discrimination before he was against it."

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ALSO: Supreme Court to Hear Photo ID Case...
By Brad Friedman on 9/26/2007 12:51pm PT  

We're getting really tired of picking on Democrats. But with clueless Senators like Nebraska's Ben Nelson, it seems like we continue to have little choice.

Picking up from where we left off yesterday regarding this morning's vote in the Senate Rules Committee on whether or not to send a recommendation for approval on the FEC nomination of the DOJ's GOP "Voter Fraud" flim-flam operative, Hans von Spakovsky, to the full Senate. Again we again defer to Paul Kiel's TPMMuckraker report that the Democrats, thanks to a defection from Nelson, were unable to reject the nomination outright and will have to pick up the fight on the Senate floor, where the GOP (unlike the Dems) will march in lockstep to get what they want. Even from the minority...

This morning's result: faced with the defection of a Democrat on the committee, later revealed to be Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) chose to agree to send all four nominees, two Democrats and two Republicans, to the floor without recommendation. In other words, the committee did not vote to approve von Spakovsky, but he got through nonetheless.

Next up is a vote before the full Senate, and how that vote will occur will be determined by negotiations between the Democratic and Republican leadership. Republicans are likely to seek a vote on all four nominees at once and have threatened to spike all the Democratic nominees if Democrats seek to block von Spakovsky.

Feinstein only said during the hearing that a Democrat had advised her that he would support von Spakovsky's nomination. In comments to reporters after the hearing, she identified that senator as Sen. Nelson.

More on the evil von Spakovsky here.

More details on today's negotiations here, including Feinstein's statement: "I don’t feel that this is an unbiased individual." Minority Leader Mitch McConnnel's (R-KY) hardball in return: "None of these nominees will move across the Senate unless they move together."

In related your-right-to-legally-cast-a-vote-is-under-attack news, as Arlen Parsa covered for us in a bit more detail earlier, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a Democratic challenge to Indiana's voter disenfranchising Photo ID law.

The very smart Election Law Blog's Rick Hasen sees this as good news for opponents of such laws, but we've got our money on a 5 to 4 ruling in favor of the GOP law, created (by Thor Hearne and Friends) in the hopes of keeping Democratic voters from being able to cast their votes on Election Day. We hope we're wrong, but Bush's Supreme Court hasn't given us much to be hopeful about.

You'll note the supporters of the restrictive, Jim Crow-type legislation have been unable to offer a single case of a voter in the state voting as someone else at the polling place.

Perhaps Sen. Ben Nelson would like to issue a resolution in support of such laws? Idiot.

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Fate of One of Bush's Worst - Hans Von Spakovsky - to be Decided by Feinstein and Other Senate Dems
Here's Hoping They Get This One Right...
By Brad Friedman on 9/25/2007 2:30pm PT  

We don't normally re-run entire items from elsewhere here. This one, however, is important (and short) enough to merit it. From Paul Kiel over at TPMMuckraker...

Finally, the time has come. The Senate Rules Committee will vote tomorrow on whether Hans von Spakovsky, the former Justice Department official who former employees say was key to the politicization of voting rights section, will get a term on the Federal Elections Commission. Von Spakovsky is also a veteran of Republican efforts to target voter fraud.

It's not immediately clear what will happen tomorrow. Howard Gantman, staff director for the committee, said that Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) wants a vote on each nominee separately (as opposed to considering all four nominees, Democratic and Republican, in one vote) and that she continues to have serious concerns about Von Spakovsky. He also said that no deal had been struck.

Former employees of the voting section mounted serious opposition to von Spakovsky's nomination, with a group writing in a letter to the committee that he'd been "the point person for undermining the Civil Rights Division's mandate to protect voting rights." Von Spakovsky, however, portrayed himself during his confirmation hearing as just a lawyer in the section who gave advice when it was asked. It was a portrayal with real problems --- as von Spakovsky himself tacitly acknowledged when he modified his testimony in later written answers to the committee.

Von Spakovsky also sought to spike accusations that he'd retaliated against wrong-thinking employees (i.e. lawyers overly-preoccupied with African-Americans' voting rights) by, among other things, adding negative comments to their performance evaluations. But two former lawyers told us that he'd done just that --- and then went so far as to stifle their appeals of the changes.

President Bush put von Spakovsky on the commission as a recess appointment in December, 2005.

You can register your opinion on Hans von Spakovsky, who is as evil as his name evokes, with the Senate Rules Committee and Feinstein (D-CA) here: 202-224-6352, or via their website.

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Republicans Hate the Armed Forces
Democrats Forget to Read the Constitution...
By Brad Friedman on 9/25/2007 9:56am PT  

Let's play Republican-like politics.

Turns out, some 50 (mostly Republican) members of the Senate are in favor of attacking "the honor, integrity, and patriotism" of those who have served honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces.

We knew that already, and not only from the Republican filibuster of a bill that would have given members of the U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq as much time off as they were forced into serving in the field.

But a less-discussed vote in the Senate last week underscored just how much Republicans despise honorably serving members of our military, and how impotent Democrats seem to be at exploiting that fact...

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

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By Steven D on 9/23/2007 3:44pm PT  

Guest Blogged by Steven D of Booman Tribune

I don't mean to be rude, but what the hell is going on?

No impeachment proceedings, despite the Kucinich Impeachment Articles languishing in the House? A refusal to make the Republican Senators filibuster the Webb amendment that would have required a mandatory year's rest between deployments to Iraq or Afghanistan (which wasn't even an antiwar bill, but one crafted specifically to support the troops)? Twenty two Democratic Senators voting to condemn Moveon.org for exercising their right to free speech? No strategy for ending this war other than a vain hope to "peel away" a few "moderate" Republicans? Mealy-mouthed explanations for why nothing gets done?

I'd like to support the Democratic leadership in the Senate and the House, I really would, but so far I see nothing that I can, in all honesty, point to as a significant action by our leadership in support of a progressive agenda...

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

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The Pacification of America...
By Brad Friedman on 9/20/2007 11:58am PT  

And thus, Stephen Colbert hits on precisely the most alarming issue at the heart of the Tasering incident: The students (and Kerry) stood by. Did nothing. America pacified...

As we wrote to some folks in a discussion list yesterday:

I should also add that, according to the Police Report [PDF], Meyer was arrested on an absurd felony charge of "inciting a riot and disrupting a school function."

If that was "inciting a riot" worthy of Tasering, I can only shudder at what the authorities' reaction would have been to someone who was actually inciting a riot.

And I believe my shudder is ultimately, and exactly, the point of such displays by the authorities.

As Naomi Wolf pointed out, such tactics have worked very effectively in the past.

Eternal Vigilance: More Than Just a Swell Bumpersticker Catch-Phrase.

Our initial coverage, and early thoughts on the incident, are posted here...

Related: Wheelchair Bound Woman Tasered to Death

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By Brad Friedman on 9/19/2007 3:47pm PT  

Good lord. Looks like the "Straight Talk Express" has driven straight over the cliff. But nobody has managed to tell McCain yet. Not even McCain. And to think I might have once considered voting for this guy...


(On an unrelated note: Working on a number of things today, so posting has been light. Reading with interest, however, the outpouring of reaction and comments from BRAD BLOG readers to the Tasering Incident. Let's call those comments "recommend reading" for the moment, as most are quite thought provoking. I may have more of my own thoughts on it all later...)

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'In this book, it says five million votes were supressed. Didn't you want to be President?' Asks 21-Year-Old Prior to be Dragged Off by Security
'Kerry, true to character, stood immobile,' Notes the New York Times Best-Selling Author in Response...
By Brad Friedman on 9/18/2007 1:10pm PT  


Fortunately, it happened at a John Kerry event. So we'll likely hear a whole lot about this incident. Had it happened at a Republican event, Fox "News" and the rest of the news channels that receive their assignments from them would have made this a one-day story at best.

The blurry-ish video version of the incident seen at right shows the entire statement and questions asked by University of Florida student Andrew Meyer. He was waving the recently released paperback version of investigative journalist Greg Palast's Armed Madhouse and recommended the book to Kerry before asking him about his early concession to the 2004 Presidential Election.

"He says you won the 2004 Election, isn't that amazing?" proclaimed Meyer, referring to Palast's claims in the book. The 21-year-old student continued on to speak about "multiple reports of disenfranchisement of black voters in Florida and Ohio on the day of the election" and "electronic voting machines in Volusia County, Florida, that counted backwards."

"So amidst all of these reports of phony, bogus stuff going on, how could you concede the election on the day?" he asked as security guards surrounded him. "How could you concede the 2004 election on the day? In this book, it says there were five million votes that were suppressed. Didn't you want to be President?!"

Kerry is heard earlier in Meyer's statement acknowledging that he has the book and that he's "already read it." Though we've seen the incident now on all of the cable news channels, several times, we've not seen any of them show the actual statement and questions being asked by Meyer.

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

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By Jon Ponder on 9/11/2007 2:26pm PT  


Guest Blogged by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review

During the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing today:

WARNER: I hope in the recesses of your heart that you know that strategy will continue the casualties, stress on our forces, stress on military families, stress on all Americans. Are you able to say at this time, if we continue what you have laid before the Congress, this strategy, that if you continue, you are making America safer?

PETRAEUS: Sir, I believe that this is indeed the best course of action to achieve our objections in Iraq.

WARNER: Does that make America safer?

PETRAEUS: Sir, I don't know actually. I have not sat down and sorted out in my own mind. What I have focused on and been riveted on is how to accomplish the mission of the Multinational Force in Iraq.

If the head of our military in Iraq doesn't know if the war there is making us safer, who does?

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Blogger Who Outed Larry Craig Demonstrates How Well-Prepared and Knowledgable Progressives CAN Successfully Counter the Fox Propagandists!
By Brad Friedman on 9/6/2007 12:05pm PT  

Our buddy Mike Rogers (who feels I should call him my Blogfather) of BlogActive.com owned Sean Hannity during his appearance on Hannity & Colmes. Rogers --- whose name is misspelled as RoDgers by Fox "News" --- originally outed Sen. Larry Craig last October, even though the mainstream media ignored him until the Idaho Statesmen picked up the story last week.

Atta boy, Blogfather! Check him out...


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