— Eric Wolfson (@ericwolfson) August 24, 2013
w/ Brad & Desi
w/ Brad & Desi
NATIONWIDE STUDY FINDS ALMOST NO VOTER FRAUD
Just 10 cases of in-person impersonation in all 50 states since 2000...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
|MORE BRAD BLOG 'SPECIAL COVERAGE' PAGES...|
— Eric Wolfson (@ericwolfson) August 24, 2013
P.S. Yes, I'm safely out of the mountains and just now beginning to get caught up with --- and make sense of --- the mountains of stuff that I very happily missed over the past week.
[This article cross-published by Salon...]
Full Disclosure: The BRAD BLOG has not been shy in calling out Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) for some fairly outrageous stuff over the years.
Who can forget, for example, the time when, as Chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee in 2005, he shut down the microphones and lights in the middle of an oversight hearing on the PATRIOT Act when he did not approve of the testimony offered by witnesses called by Democrats?
It was outrageous, it was inappropriate, and we reported it as such at the time, just as we did in 2011 when, in a bit of déjà vu, he similarly shut down a town hall event in WI after protesters there expressed outrage over the Republicans' radical anti-union law recently adopted in the state.
So it is with much sincerity and great appreciation that we "call him out" today, not for outrageous behavior, but for his outspoken and unwavering support for the Voting Rights Act of 1965, after the very heart of that landmark civil rights legislation has been violently carved out by a 5 to 4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June...
On this week's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio, I covered both the nation's most extreme voter suppression law in North Carolina (and the facts behind its passage) and the precedent setting verdict in the Bradley Manning case.
But at the heart of it all is something else --- a primal, patriot scream perhaps, as exemplified by the arrest of 83-year old Robert Plummer, Jr. at the state capitol in NC last week (Plummer is a Korean War hero who was also arrested on the Edmund Pettus Bridge with Martin Luther King on Bloody Sunday in Selma, AL during the 1965 march for voting rights, and by the arrests of 80- and 85-year old Joan and Tom Kemble for singing in the Wisconsin state capitol in the same dark week.
The Kembles joined me live on the show to talk about their arrests at the daily sing-along that has been going on every day since Gov. Scott Walker's radical anti-union bill was passed two years ago, and to sing a song or two before their next trip to the pokey for peacefully singing in protest to petition their government for redress of grievances. (Please help all of the WI arrestees pay their legal bills and fines at SolidaritySingAlong.org!)
As usual, there was much more, including Desi Doyen and the latest Green News Report, in between. I hope you'll give it a listen. I think you'll enjoy it.
Download MP3 or listen online below...
[This article now cross-published by Salon.]
Late Thursday night, the North Carolina state legislature approved a radical voter suppression bill on a party line vote. The measure, easily the most extreme anti-voter bill passed by any state since the Jim Crow Era, now heads to Republican Governor Pat McCrory for his signature. Court challenges, many of them, will most assuredly follow.
I discussed the Tar Heel State Republicans' horrendous voter suppression law as it moved through the state legislature earlier this week in an article focused on the public pushback against both it, and other radical laws being hurriedly enacted in the state while the Republicans hold veto-proof majorities in both chambers of the state house, as well as the Governorship there. It's the first time in 150 years that that has been the case, and the GOP is making all they can of it, voters be damned.
I also discussed the bill on this week's KPFK BradCast. But I want to highlight just how draconian this massive restriction on voting rights actually is in North Carolina, which, until the complete Republican takeover of the state government in 2012 (thanks to gerrymandering in 2010), had actually been a fairly progressive state by southeast standards, particularly in regard to voting laws.
In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's recent gutting of the important pre-clearance provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act --- the provision which had required states with histories of racial discrimination, like NC, to obtain federal approval before making any changes to voting laws --- NC and other states now "freed" from the yoke of not being able to discriminate, have been on a tear to pass discriminatory laws previously denied under the VRA.
NC has now done that in a way that no other state has yet even tried. They have, in essence, included in this bill every conceivable voter suppression tactic that has ever been dreamed up over the past decade by the Republican Party --- and then some.
UC Irvine election law professor Rick Hasen described the bill as "a nightmare for voting-rights advocates."
It includes draconian polling place Photo ID restrictions (despite any evidence of polling place impersonation in the state), shortens the early voting period and eliminates NC's very successful same-day voter registration program. "But," Hasen adds, "it’s also a laundry list of ways to make it harder for people to vote, and which cannot plausibly be justified on antifraud grounds."
Just take a look at the list of some of the other provisions including in this "nightmare" of an anti-democratic --- as well as anti-Democratic --- voter suppression bill...
I've always wondered why non-Rightwing Christians have allowed Rightwingers to take "God" and "Jesus" as their own, particularly since progressive principles are far more in line with those said to be the teachings of Jesus.
The folks in North Carolina --- who are now under siege by Republican control of both congressional houses and the governorship for the first time in 150 years --- have been going about reclaiming the moral high ground with a series of massive (and growing larger) "Moral Monday" protests at the state house, so far resulting in about 900 arrests for civil disobedience as of this week's twelfth consecutive Monday protest.
The protests are being held by a wide coalition of groups in response to the radical Republican legislation --- much of it written out of state by the Koch-funded corporatist lobby, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) --- meant to see the state government shut down women's health clinics, cut education funding and, of particular note, suppress voters by truncating early voting, ending Sunday voting, banning NC's successful Election Day registration program, instituting tax penalties to parents whose children vote at their college residences, and by putting in place draconian polling place Photo ID restrictions. (See Ari Berman today at The Nation for more on the NC Republican's attempt to institute all of these "extreme voter suppression measures".)
At Salon, Kristin Rawls explains that the "Moral Monday" protests in NC, "that include support for LGBT and abortion rights", seem to be "confounding to the Tea Party", but not to the many groups of faith (as well as "atheists, agnostics and members of other faiths in attendance every week") who are finally taking back the moral high ground from the Rightwing hypocrites who have claimed it, but never earned it, for so much of the past decade.
It's an interesting read, and an interesting phenomenon that, Rawls notes, "is supported by a 150-organization coalition spearheaded by the NC-NAACP that includes everything from Occupy Raleigh to Planned Parenthood-NC to the NC Association of Educators."
Her point about why the voter suppression laws Republicans are now trying to pass are so important for the NC GOP radicals, is explained in this key passage...
I had the pleasure of guest hosting for Ed Schultz today on his radio show.
It was my first time hosting for Big Eddie, after being a guest on his show at various times over many years. We had much fun today in the bargain! My thanks to him and his crew for so generously and helpfully welcoming me aboard. My thanks also to the folks at my radio home base, KPFK/Pacifica Radio in Los Angeles, for helping us pull it all off at very short notice.
I hope you'll have fun as well, listening to the show, if you missed it live today. The entire program is archived below (sans commercials!)
My guests included three great, independent, progressive journalists (four, if you include Desi Doyen, who also joined us, as usual):
The audio archives of today's show follow below. Enjoy!
In a ruling hailed by voting rights advocates today, Arizona's requirement that newly registered voters submit proof of citizenship with their registration has been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 7-2 decision. Justice Antonin Scalia authored the opinion for the majority, while Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito dissented.
The court rejected provisions of Proposition 200, a ballot measure approved by AZ voters in 2004, which mandated that state election officials reject all applications to register to vote that did not include documentary proof of citizenship. Those documents, however, are not currently required by the Federal Form for voter registration, as approved by the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) pursuant to provisions of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA).
Today's ruling in Arizona v. Inter Tribal Council of Arizona [PDF], is grounded upon the plenary power given to Congress by the Elections Clause (Art. I §4 of the U.S. Constitution) empowering Congress to preempt state regulations governing the "Times, Places and Manner" of holding federal elections. The court found that the NVRA mandate that states "accept and use" the Federal Form for voter registration takes precedence, and that Prop 200 is invalid because it conflicts with the Congressional intent that the NVRA help ease the ability of citizens to register to vote.
Writing for the majority, Justice Scalia observed that if a state could "demand of Federal Form applicants every additional piece of information the State requires…the Federal Form ceases to perform any meaningful function, and would be a feeble means of 'increas[ing] the number of eligible citizens who register to vote in elections for Federal office.'"
This does not close the door on the issue altogether, however. Justice Scalia noted that, pursuant to the NVRA, any state can ask that "the EAC alter the Federal Form to include information the State deems necessary to determine eligibility." If the EAC then rejects such a request, the state "may challenge the EAC's rejection of that request [in court]"...
An ambitious election reform bill supported by state Democrats and the Colorado County Clerks Association, which is largely made up of Republicans, will soon land on the desk of Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, despite the objections of Republican lawmakers and the state's extraordinarily partisan Republican Sec. of State.
The bill has now been approved by both chambers of the Colorado legislature --- along party lines in each --- but must be approved again in the House due to "technical" amendments from the Senate. But while it may be too late, partisans and lawmakers would have been wise to look carefully before leaping in support of this bill which offers both excellent reforms and reasons to be very concerned about one of its central provisions.
John Tomasic of the Colorado Independent offered a detailed report earlier this week on the major concerns and somewhat confusing partisan divides on both sides of this particular piece of legislation.
There's a lot of good, long-overdue provisions in the sweeping, 126-page bill [PDF] (mercifully summarized on pages 2 through 4). The key provisions --- and main points of contention --- are summarized this way by Tomasic:
Tomasic goes on to explain that the bill, dubbed "The Voter Access and Modernized Elections Act", is sponsored by Democrats in both the CO House and Senate, but it's "based on a plan approved by a large bipartisan majority of clerks who run the state’s elections county to county. The Colorado County Clerks Association reports that 75 percent of the 64 clerks in the state support the bill. The Association is anything but a left-wing cabal: At least 44 of the clerks, some 70 percent, are Republican officeholders."
The politics on this one may be understandably confusing to some --- particularly with a former Republican Sec. of State favoring the bill, and the current Republican Sec. of State ardently opposing it --- but the professed concerns of the latter (that the expanded registration provisions will lead to "voter fraud") are largely nonsense. While the advocacy of the former (pushing broad expansion of vote-by-mail ballots to every voter in the state) ignores very real fraud concerns...
Given the professed concerns about election fraud among Virginia Republicans, it seems somewhat astonishing that the man at the center of the Commonwealth's most notorious fraud scandal last year seems to be getting off the hook after initially being charged with 13 criminal counts including eight felony charges.
Colin Small, a Republican Party Voter Registration Supervisor who secretly tossed filled-out voter registration forms into a dumpster last year, had all of his felony charges dropped by the local Republican Commonwealth Attorney prosecuting the case yesterday.
Small was arrested and charged with 13 counts --- including destruction and disclosure of voter registrations, as well as obstruction of justice --- in Harrisonburg, VA in the run-up to the Presidential election last year, after he was seen by a local shopkeeper throwing away a bag of registration forms behind his store. Small's felony charges were all dropped on Tuesday, according to local Fox-affiliate WHSV.
The case had garnered a great deal of national attention last fall --- almost everywhere but on Fox "News" --- as it emerged at the pinnacle of an embarrassing nationwide GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal which plagued the Republican Party in the weeks just prior to the November general election.
The prosecutor on the Small case is Republican Marsha Garst. Unlike other Commonwealth Attorneys, observed a local Democratic-leaning political muckraker yesterday, Garst failed to recuse herself from the prosecution despite what would appear to be very clear conflicts of interests in the case.
The newly dropped charges appear in stark contrast to Garst's declarations last year, when told the Washington Post on the Friday before the Tuesday Presidential election that the matter was "a very important investigation to the state, and we intend to prosecute Mr. Small to the fullest extent"...
Early word on what happened today during the U.S. Supreme Court's hearing on the crucial Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County, AL v. Eric Holder is not encouraging. This could come to be seen as a very dark day for voting rights in this country, as a landmark provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act may be on the verge of being dismantled and, arguably, a half a decade of civil rights advancements along with it.
Late last night we detailed what's at stake and how the activist Supremes are likely to intercede in what is clearly a Congressional duty, as specifically ascribed to them in the 15th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. That, despite a stunning 98 to 0 vote in the U.S. Senate to re-authorize the VRA for another 25 years as is, after 21 hearings and some 15,000 pages of documentation on the continuing blight of racial discrimination, as recently as 2006.
While it's always a perilous exercise to try and read the tea leaves from a SCOTUS hearing, The Nation's Ari Berman, who was present in the court room this morning, Tweets, disturbingly today: "In oral argument, Scalia likened Congressional support for Voting Rights Act to a 'perpetuation of racial entitlement'". He went on to indicate his "quick reaction" to the hearing was that, that while the five Republican Justices are "skeptical of Sec 5," there is a "small chance Kennedy can still be persuaded." He notes, that, incredibly, "Voter suppression attempts in [the] last election didn't even come up during SCOTUS arguments about Voting Rights Act".
Because the Supreme Court still operates in the 1800s, there was no live audio or video of today's hearing. The transcript, however,
should be made available later today [Update: transcript is now linked at the bottom of this article] and audio will be made available on Friday.
For now, NBC reports today's hearings this way:
NBC’s Pete Williams reported after the oral argument, "I think it’s a safe prediction to say that the Voting Rights Act, as it now stands, is not going to survive. The question is: how far will the Supreme Court go in striking parts of it down?"
Williams said what seemed to concern a majority of the justices was "the fact that the law is too backward looking."
Williams reported that during the one hour-and-15 minute oral argument, Justice Anthony Kennedy said that the post-World War II Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe "was a good thing at one time, but times change."
New York Times' Adam Liptak described today's hearing in more, if similarly disturbing detail this way...
It was bad enough when a majority of Republicans were so disinformed after the 2008 election that they thought ACORN stole the election (almost 10 million votes, apparently) for Barack Obama.
Now that ACORN is no more (since early 2010), the massive disinformation campaign that Republicans have been suckered into believing seems to continue nonetheless. Just under a majority of self-identified GOP voters think the non-existent ACORN stole the election again this year for Obama! Those tricky non-existent bastards, apparently, somehow stuffed the ballot box 5.5 million times and never got caught even once!
From Public Policy Polling today, who note that Republicans are "not handling election results well"...
It should be noted, for any of those duped Republicans who may be reading this, that there is no evidence, none, zero, nada, that any vote has ever been stolen in any election either by ACORN or via one of the bad voter registrations submitted by one of its workers (bad registrations which were almost all discovered by ACORN themselves and turned in, along with the rogue worker who submitted them, to authorities.)
For those stooges who are still unconvinced, because they read something somewhere on the Internet about "voter fraud" in 2012, we dispatched with the most popular "massive voter fraud" myths of 2012 over the weekend right here.
Finally, as if all of that isn't pathetic enough, PPP has more sad news for a party which now seems intent on disappearing itself entirely...
FL's former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist says the GOP's suggestion "that there's some massive fraud going on" by Florida voters is "laughable".
Rachel Maddow's entire intro and interview with Crist last night is very much worth watching, and so we'll post both at the bottom of this article. But one point in particular during the interview with the Republican-turned-independent needs to be highlighted here.
Longtime readers of The BRAD BLOG will recall that it was the progressive Crist who, during his time as Governor in the Sunshine State, among other things, restored voting rights for former felons in the state, expanded early voting hours and even banned all 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems for use other than as disabled-accessible voting systems for those who might wish to use them (in order to meet the disability voting requirements in the horrible federal Help America Vote Act of 2002).
The contrast couldn't be more stark from his successor, the reprehensible current Governor Rick Scott, who spent much of this past election year rolling back Crist's improvement to the voting system, in an attempt to keep legal, Democratic-leaning voters from being able to cast their vote at all, as even other Republican officials in the state are now beginning to admit out loud.
In the following, powerful clip from Maddow's full interview last night, she asks Crist, as the former Republican Governor of Florida, about the ridiculously transparent claims by the GOP that restrictions on voter registration, the right to vote by former felons, and the shortening of early voting is "only about voter fraud" and "voting integrity."
"Is it clear to you that is just bunk?," she asks Crist who replies directly in turn: "It's crystal clear to me. You couldn't be more right, in my humble opinion. And, you know, we can say this about all these road bloacks that are put in the way of people exercising their right to vote, and we saw it in a dramatic fashion this last Election Day in Florida"...
Rachel Maddow's full intro to the interview with Charlie Christ, describing how and why he was purged by the party (likely had something to do with his progressive position on democracy!) and the full 11/27/12 interview with the former Republican FL Governor, both follow below...
Florida's Republican Governor Rick Scott's announcement yesterday would be somewhat akin to George W. Bush asking then FEMA Chief, Michael "Heckuva Job" Brown to head up a review of how FEMA and the Federal government performed in responding to Hurricane Katrina. Or, perhaps asking Karl Rove or Dick Cheney to get to the bottom of that whole Valerie Plame outing thing.
The only worse, less independent person who could possibly be chosen to head up a "review" of what went wrong in this year's disastrous election in Florida would be Scott himself.
But since his hand-picked Sec. of State Ken Detzner carried out every single one of Scott's horrendous, un-American orders to restrict voting and voter registration and to try and toss eligible voters off the rolls this year, resulting in even active-duty military voters getting purged, all while ignoring actual, massive voter registration fraud carried out by the Republican Party of Florida itself (until it could no longer be ignored), it may as well be Scott himself in charge of this so-called "review" in which Detzner has been assigned to tell us all why it was that, among other things, voters were still in line trying to cast their votes at 2am on Wednesday morning in Miami-Dade, even as the President of the United States was delivering his re-election victory speech in Chicago.
Heckuva job, Scottie!
Scott has already, repeatedly since Election Day, declared that he did "the right thing" by slashing Early Voting from 14 days to just 8 in Florida this year, and then refusing to expand those hours on the weekend before the election --- unlike both of his Republican predecessors Governors Charlie Crist and even Jeb Bush --- once it became clear that voters were standing in line for 6, 7 hours and longer simply trying to cast their vote...
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