Standing up to the NRA after Roanoke, horrifying U.S. gun death toll; PLUS: Denying global warming on Katrina's 10th anniversary; Trump's ugly nativism; Good news for Dems; Marriage dead-enders in KY...
The Nation's John Nichols on new revelations of Scott Walker lying about a criminal investigation and on the Black Lives Matter movement and Sanders a better candidate; Plus: Big news for Bernie & more!
Catching up on a lot that fell through the cracks during last week's busy news week. From Jon Stewart to new toxic spill in SW to sentencing verdict for Aurora shooter to GOP debate answers media aren't discussing & more...
The chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers, is calling on the John McCain campaign to "immediately halt Republican vote suppression efforts," as seen recently in Michigan --- where a county GOP chair announced his intention to use home foreclosure lists to challenge voter eligibility at the polls on Election Day --- and elsewhere.
Conyers has announced hearings on these issues, and is calling on Attorney General Michael Mukasey to launch an immediate "full scale investigation" into these matters. He has sent letters both to McCain [PDF] and to Mukasey [PDF] (the latter signed by 23 members of Congress) to that effect, as well as issuing the following statement today...
TALLAHASSEE — A new pitch for John McCain's presidential campaign aimed at older Democratic voters is causing complaints by Democrats and concern by elections officials.
The piece, paid for by the Republican National Committee and authorized by McCain, tells voters it is seeking to double-check their "unconfirmed" party affiliations while asking for money. A letter signed by McCain tells the Democrats: "We have you registered as a Republican."
"I was a little bit shocked and a little bit surprised," said recipient Bill Smith, 81, of Tampa, who calls himself a lifelong Democrat and has been registered at his current address since 2000.
The RNC declined to discuss the mailer, which Democrats said has landed in five counties: Duval, Hillsborough, Collier, Miami-Dade and Escambia.
The article goes on to note that FL's Republican SoS Kurt Browning believes the mailing is "confusing" and "unfortunate", but does not note whether or not he plans to do anything about it. We're not holding our breath. Neither are we holding it for Democrats down there to do much about it either.
The mailings sent to registered Democrats appear to be classic "caging" letters, marked as "Do Not Forward", so that they will then be returned to the GOP if there is any problem with delivery. Those returned letters will likely then be used as a basis to challenge the legitimacy of those particular voters on Election Day....
I've been quite critical of the Obama/DNC plan (or lack thereof) for "election protection" this year, noting that it looks, smells and sounds a lot like a slightly beefed-up version of the Kerry/DNC "we'll have thousands of lawyers in place on Election Day should anything go wrong."
On Election Day, of course, if DNC lawyers are still trying to keep up with what's going on, it's already game over. While for years Osama Bin Laden and Muslim extremists had supposedly declared war on the U.S., as the legend goes, America paid little attention until it was too late. So it is with the raging Republican War on Democracy, where proactive steps are necessary (beginning long ago, but we'll take what we can get at this point) to join the war and push back against the GOP's assault on the most democratic of all values, the right to freely cast one's vote, to have that vote counted, and to have it counted accurately.
Back in 2006, after speaking to a group of DNC election attorneys in Chicago, I wrote about the "Dysfunction at the DNC" and the persistent cluelessness they had displayed at the time concerning a number of very real threats to our electoral system. While Obama has certainly displayed a tendency to understand at least some of the issues at stake --- far more so than his '04 counterpart --- the party, from every sign I'm able to get, remains out of touch with the serious threats they face: from the massive front-end disenfranchisement efforts, about which they are at least somewhat aware, to the back-end disenfranchisement efforts via manipulation and/or often-undiscoverable "tabulation error" of completely un-transparent electronic voting systems used in virtually every county, in every state in the union.
So we may be grasping for any optimistic straw we can find here, but at least today we have one such sign of proactivity from the Obama/DNC that we can tell you about...
I've been getting panicked email and phone calls, and everything else, since a caller to the Thom Hartmann Program yesterday mentioned receiving an Absentee Ballot Request form in the mail from the McCain campaign. Apparently, the caller from Wisconsin was a Democrat, suspected foul play (and not without reason!) and was followed by several other callers and emailers reporting the same in that state and others around the country.
Lee Rayburn, who was guest hosting for Thom, called me just after he got off the air yesterday to let me know what was going on, and to forward some of the emails he had been receiving so I could check them out to figure out what was going on. In fact, I had already received some of those McCain Absentee Ballot Request forms from others in the days preceding yesterday's show.
Well, with panic among Dems (understandably) reaching a fevered pitch by last night, claims of "massive Republican vote caging" going on, as based on these mailings, he asked me to come on today and explain what I was able to learn about the situation. (Audio of interview posted below.)
As discussed during my appearance with Lee on Thom's show this morning, in this case at least, those mailers seem to be generally on the up and up. While it appears to be a massive and very aggressive GOTV effort from the McCain campaign --- even targeting Democrats in places they consider "swing states," like Wisconsin --- there doesn't seem to be anything nefarious going on with these particular mailings. At least so far as I've been able to tell...
On Tuesday, while the corporate media was helping along John McCain's faux controversy over lipstick and farm animals, and while Republicans were otherwise preparing to celebrate 9/11 on Thursday, a group of so-called "third-party" Presidential candidates gathered for a news conference at the National Press Club, as sponsored by Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX)'s CampaignForLiberty.org. Paul's introductory statement, endorsing third-party candidates as a whole, is here.
Paul recently announced his refusal to endorse his party's nominee, John McCain, despite their personal entreaties. The entire press conference is on video here.
The three candidates who did show, all spoke to various aspects of the detrimental nature of the dangerous two-party duopoly the country is currently saddled with, thanks in no small part to the corporate media's unwavering support thereof. (See this condescending coverage from WaPo clown Dana Milbank, whose never run for even dog catcher, as far as I know, much less President on a national party ticket, by way of just one such example.)
Only McKinney spoke directly to the issues surrounding Election Integrity. She is, to my knowledge, the only Presidential candidate of any party this year, to speak substantively to the most important matter underscoring every freedom we have and every serious issue we face in this nation.
She begins her remarks by pointing out: "What has not been mentioned this morning, and has rarely been mentioned throughout this presidential election season, is the issue of election integrity." She speaks rather eloquently both about "massive disenfranchisement" and "manipulation of electronic voting machines." The video clip of her comments on the topic (appx. 3 mins, courtesy Alan Breslauer) is below. A text-transcript is included at the end of this article…
None of the candidates, including McKinney, have yet signed the StandingForVoters.org pledge to challenge any questionable election results and not concede until every vote is counted, and counted accurately. We (The BRAD BLOG is a co-founder of VelvetRevolution.us, the creators of the StandingForVoters.org initiative) welcome all such candidates, from any political party, running for any office on the national, state or local level, to sign the pledge and stand up for voters as they have/will stand up for them. The SFV campaign calls on voters to demand candidates sign the pledge, and makes materials available to hand to them during campaign events. For more info, see the website or write to info@StandingForVoters.org.
The text transcript of Cynthia McKinney's statement yesterday on Election Integrity, follows below…
Several weeks ago at the UK's Guardian, I wrote about rightwing democracy-hater Paul Weyrich and his 1980 speech to 15,000 preachers in Dallas (with Ronald Reagan and Jerry Falwell also on the bill), in which he called for massive vote suppression. The comments, from one of the "Conservative" Movement's "founding fathers" and a Godfather of the Republicans' now-peaking, long-waged voter suppression scheme, are worth getting out there again and again --- particularly right now. The video of Weyrich's 1980 comments (:40 seconds) is at right and the text is below...
"Now many of our Christians have what I call the goo-goo syndrome - good government. They want everybody to vote. I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people, they never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."
As mentioned previously, Weyrich continues as a regular consultant to the top-tier GOP power-brokers to this day, and last night the man who so eloquently elaborated the Republican Rosetta Stone of voter disenfranchisement was honored "for Life, Work and Service" at a D.C. shindig that raised "over $330,000...for the Free Congress Foundation."
"The highlight of the evening included an historic 21 gun salute video," a press release issued this afternoon (posted in full below) crows. That salute "included 30 of the country's top leaders such as author and columnist, George Will; national talk show host and author Hugh Hewitt, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R - KY), Former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich; Ken Blackwell, 2008 Vice-Chairman of the Republican Convention Platform Committee and Former Ohio Secretary of State; Marion Edwyn Harrison, Esq., Free Congress Foundation; Phyllis Schlafly of Eagle Forum; Jerry Falwell, Jr., Liberty University; Rep. Edwin Meese, III,. Heritage Foundation and Former U.S. Attorney General; Dr. James Dobson, Focus on the Family; Don Wildmon, American Family Association, among many others."...
Though comments as seen in the video above ought to make this man a pariah to any democracy-loving American citizen, he continues to be anything but to the GOP movement which has mainstreamed this guy, and his loathing for American values, and turned him into a movement demigod...
Three recent stories have come to light about the Republican Party's latest and sometimes illegal efforts at voter disenfranchisement. Unfortunately, these three stories are only the very tip of an enormous iceberg.
Before we go into details, please, if you're registered to vote, check on the status of your registration NOW, before you get turned away from the polls this November. You can check your registration status here with our friends at VotersUnite.org. This is even more important if you are African-American, Hispanic/Latino, elderly, a college student, or low income; statistically and historically, Americans in those four categories are disenfranchised in greater numbers than any other segment of the American populace. PLEASE check on the status of your registration. This bears repeating: Check your registration status here.
And of course, if you're not registered to vote, what in the hell are you waiting for??
First, Michigan... We've learned from the Michigan Messenger that James Carabelli, the Republican Party commissioner for Macomb County, is "planning to use a list of foreclosed homes to block people from voting in the upcoming election as part of the state GOP's effort to challenge some voters on Election Day."
Carabelli, as quoted in the Messenger, says, "We will have a list of foreclosed homes and will make sure people aren't voting from those addresses."
But J. Gerald Hebert, a former voting rights litigator for the U.S. Justice Department and currently the Executive Director and Director of Litigation for Campaign Legal Center, says the practice is simply illegal...
After months of pressure from state election officials, voting rights groups, veteran’s organizations, members of the US Senate, and citizens, the Dept. of Veterans Affairs has decided that it will be alright for veterans who live in VA facilities or are patients in VA facilities to be visited by non-partisan folks who want to help them register to vote. Unfortunately this decision comes just a month from the voter registration deadlines in most states. Now those groups who have fought hard to get permission to register veterans need to go do the job.
Ohio is becoming a battle ground for voter registrations. Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner is going to battle against the state legislature over a law that was passed in 2006 that allows counties to remove voters from the rolls if election notices sent by the counties to the voters are returned for any reason. This is a violation of state law and federal law and the US Constitution according to her lawyers. Any voter removed from the rolls must be given due process. ...
The U.S. House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties will be holding a hearing this Thursday on "Lessons Learned from the 2004 Presidential Election."
Though no press release has yet been sent out by the Committee, and the link to the hearing's page at the Judiciary website is currently broken, The BRAD BLOG has both good news and bad news to report here.
The good news: Ohio's former Sec. of State J. Kenneth Blackwell has been invited to testify and has confirmed that he will actually show up this time, according to several Judiciary sources. Blackwell had previously snubbed the committee's earlier invitation to testify back in February about the myriad crimes that were committed on and by his watch in the 2004 Presidential Election.
Following his last refusal to appear --- when he responded to the committee claiming "my schedule will not permit me to attend the hearings" --- Judiciary Committee spokesperson Jonathon Godfrey hinted that a subpoena might be forthcoming if Blackwell continued to refuse to appear. This time, at least as of today, it looks like he's coming, according to confirmation by Godfrey this afternoon. Thus guaranteeing what should be a very lively hearing.
More good news: Shameless GOP "voter fraud" zealot and disgraced former FEC chair Hans Von Spakovsky will also be appearing. By invitation of the Republicans on the committee, amusingly enough. What were they thinking in inviting this embarrassment? Beats us, but we're happy to hear he'll be back on the Congressional hot seat. Thanks Repubs!
John McCain's election strategists plan to tone down the Republicans' traditionally aggressive and public campaign against potential voter fraud, several Republicans familiar with the situation say.
The strategists and consultants all would speak only on the condition that their names and affiliations not be used because they were not permitted to divulge the information, they did not want to disclose internal deliberations, and because the issue is still being discussed within the party.
Sources with direct knowledge of the coordinated Republican effort this year say that high-ranking Republicans, including some within McCain's campaign, are convinced that GOP efforts in 2004 were damaging.
"Spreading 10,000 lawyers around the country and announcing a challenge to 40,000 new registrants in Ohio was counterproductive," a Republican familiar with the situation said.
And if you believe the GOP has any intention of scaling back any such thing in 2008, we've got a swell bridge, beautifully located near Manhattan, to sell ya.
But just to drive home the point that we're equal opportunity disbelievers, there's this old standby from the Obama camp, later in the article...
Looks like we're coming into rewards season at the White House for longtime Bush loyalists. Of course, we thought that's what the last seven year were about, but we digress.
Apparently, being named as a criminal co-conspirator in Articles of Impeachment is worthy of a prize from this particular White House, as Bush/Cheney '04 Inc.'s self-proclaimed "non-partisan" "longtime voting rights advocate" --- and not-self-proclaimed national champion GOP vote-suppressor Thor Hearne --- received yet another thank you gift from the White House today: A non-partisan appointment to a "non-partisan Commission" (according to the nationally renowned liar Thor) by George W. Bush.
Jo Mannies of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, one of the few reporters Thor will answer the phone for (other than those at "liberal media" outlets such as NYTimes, NPR, USA Today and again at USA Today) writes today, while failing to note Hearne's infamous entry into the history books on the floor of the U.S. House this week...
UPDATE: Now back home, and watching Kucinich myself on C-SPAN. He's been reading for hours, and may have hours ahead still. As mentioned on the air, I was consulted for these Articles of Impeachment and submitted a number of suggestions and material concerning impeachable offenses related to election tampering by George W. Bush and his agents. Don't know whether those articles are still in the final version. We shall see. But I wanted to be sure to disclose that.
No doubt we'll be talking about this tomorrow on the PBC Show (which I'm Guest Hosting all week). We're trying to get Kucinich for tomorrow's show...if he still has any voice left.
FURTHER UPDATE: Looks like the election-related Articles of Impeachment made it into the final version, including a mention of GOP "voter fraud" sheister Mark F. "Thor" Hearne of front-group American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR). Nice to see Hearne get the recognition on the floor of the U.S. Congress that he so richly deserves.
Kucinich introduced a resolution last year to impeach Vice President Dick Cheney. That resolution was killed, but only after Republicans initially voted in favor of taking up the measure to force a debate.
In fact, his Articles of Impeachment against Dick Cheney were not "killed," they were sent to the House Judiciary Committee, where they remain without action having been taken on them by the Dem leadership, despite best efforts by folks like Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL), and others.
Article 28 - Tampering with Free and Fair Elections (7:20)
Article 29 - Violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965
Part 1 (8:54), Part 2 (9:39)
POST-ADJOURNMENT UPDATE: Just prior to midnight ET, Kucinich finally finished reading the list of High Crimes and Misdemeanors. Equal Justice Society writes:
"We've waited seven years to find one Member of Congress brave enough to stand up for our Constitution, for which generations of Americans have fought and died," said Bob Fertik, President of Democrats.com. "We are thrilled and honored that Dennis Kucinich has chosen to be that one genuine patriot. We congratulate him on his historic leadership, and pledge to do everything in our power to persuade Congress to adopt all 35 Articles and put George W. Bush on trial before the Senate of the United States, exactly as the Founding Fathers wanted."
"Some might question why Congressman Kucinich has done this now," continued Fertik. "My question is why 434 other Congress Members have not done it before. Despite the uncountable and unspeakable crimes this administration has committed, George Bush and Dick Cheney remain in power and immune from prosecution. Congress must impeach Bush and Cheney now - before they further abuse their power by pardoning for all of their crimes."
Email or call (202-224-3121) your Member of Congress to support Rep. Kucinich's Articles of Impeachment. And sign the petition at Democrats.com.
In addition to the recent, outrageously bad decision by the Supreme Court to approve Indiana's draconian polling place Photo ID restrictions, sure to keep thousands of legal voters from even being able to cast votes in tomorrow's important Primary Election --- despite the state's inability to offer up a single instance of in-person polling place voter impersonation that's ever occurred during the state's entire history (as we've covered here, here and here, for example) --- another 1.1 million voters have now been purged from the voting rolls altogether, reports Bev Harris of Black Box Voting, as based on the Hoosier State's own data.
Moreover, the state will use unverifiable touch-screen style voting systems across the state. One widely used system, made by MicroVote, will be used despite having been decertified, and two other systems, made by ES&S and Diebold, have been found vulnerable to undetectable vote-flipping viruses by several reputable universities.
Art Levine at The American Prospect has a new must read piece titled, “The Republican War on Voting: Using the Department of Justice, friendly governors, and its usual propaganda outlets, the GOP has propagated the myth of voter fraud to purge the rolls of non-Republicans.” Here's a small taste of it...
"Sharrard's cautionary tone was a response to the Republican Party's ongoing nationwide campaign to suppress the low-income minority vote by propagating the myth of voter fraud. Using various tactics --- including media smears, bogus lawsuits, restrictive new voting laws and policies, and flimsy prosecutions --- Republican operatives, election officials, and the GOP-controlled Justice Department have limited voting access and gone after voter-registration groups such as ACORN..."
"Unfortunately, progressives have tended to pay more attention to Election Day dirty tricks and to electronic voting machines than to a more systemic threat: the Republican campaign to suppress the votes of low-income, young, and minority voters through restrictive legislation and rulings, all based on the mythic specter of voter fraud..."
"Unfortunately, the public hasn't heard just how nonexistent the voter fraud epidemic actually is. While progressives have successfully challenged some of the most restrictive laws in court, they're still playing catch-up when it comes to combating the glib sound bites of voter-fraud alarmists. Republicans and the Bush Justice Department have cloaked their schemes under such noble-sounding concepts as "ballot integrity." The GOP's vote-suppression playbook features everything from phony lawsuits to questionable investigations to authoritative-seeming reports, all with the aim of promoting restrictive laws."
In related news, John Tanner, the man in charge of the Justice Department's efforts to disenfranchise millions of voters until he was forced to resign after The BRAD BLOG captured and exposed him making crazy offensive comments on video (see below), has a new job, apparently. Tanner is reportedly now a fellow with the Alabama Law Institute - which provides the Legislature with legal expertise in drafting and revising laws.
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