Rupture feared; Workers contaminated; New evacs 'recommended'... PLUS: German study uses French data to corroborate findings from Austrian, U.S. scientists, suggesting Fukushima disaster should be reclassified as 'level 7' accident, on par with Chernobyl...
Even as House Democrats are celebrating their deal with conservative-leaning colleagues on climate change legislation, the real winners under the compromise have been the coal, electric and auto industries, who are largely the source of the nation’s carbon emissions to begin with.
Details of the compromise are still emerging, but already the chief sponsors of the measure — Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) — have been forced to lower carbon-reduction targets, cut renewable fuel standards and dole out billions of dollars in benefits to the nation’s largest polluting industries. Many environmentalists say the compromise comes at the too-high cost of undermining the bill’s very purpose, which is to slash emissions dramatically enough to prevent a warming planet from heating further. Some are asking Democrats either to bolster the environmental protections or to scrap the proposal altogether.
the concessions from Waxman and Markey to this point have been made to satisfy Democrats representing regions heavy with coal, oil and automaker interests.
Details on some of those "compromises" follow, along with a reminder that it'll get even worse once the Republicans get to water down the legislation further still...
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 TimesSenator 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.
As we wait for the 3-judge panel in Minnesota to issue their verdict in former Sen. Norm Coleman's U.S. Senate race, in which the Democratic challenger Al Franken was found to be the winner by a bi-partisan state canvassing board, D.C. lawmakers are cranking up the political battle which awaits beyond that decision, which could come any day now, and its predictable appeal to the MN Supreme Court by the loser (who will "probably" be Coleman, according to his own attorney).
Sen. "Big Bad" John Cornyn (R-TX), the chair of the National Republican SenatorialConspiratorial Committee (NRSC), is now threatening "World War III" if the Dems try to seat Franken before a U.S. Supreme Court appeal is completed, or even a new federal suit that could be filed by Coleman in U.S. District Court if he chooses...even if those additional judicial processes could take "years"...
Since I first covered the story of the arrest of election officials (including a circuit court judge, the county clerk, the school superintendent and other members of the county elections board) in Clay County, KY, for buying and selling votes, as well as manipulating votes on electronic voting machines without the knowledge of voters, folks have been asking about the political affiliation of the conspirators and whether they were working on behalf of any particular political party.
The subject came up, as well, while I was on the Mike Malloy Show last Friday discussing these arrests, as they had just come to light.
You can download the MP3 of that interview, or listen to it online here (appx. 17 mins)...
While the federal indictment [PDF] notes that a number of those involved in the cabal appear to be members of the local Democratic Party, the scheme also involved at least one conspirator who served as the Republican Party's polling place judge at one of the precincts. Clay County is also a heavily Republican county.
On this point, a commenter who wrote in to respond to last week's article, who claims to be "from Clay County" and to know "each of the people arrested," writes that "ALL of the eight arrested this week" were actually Republican. "They registered as Democrat and took leadership roles in the local party to control precinct officer seats, ensuring all officers at the precinct were hand picked." I can't yet confirm that fact, but that reader's comment is posted in full below, with another one from a Kentucky writer, as both contain some helpful background.
Of course, it could still very well be the case that the crooks were Democrats at work. Either way, from what I'm able to understand about the scheme so far, it seems that it was more about personal power and financial enrichment than anything else. If they were Democrats, they don't seem to have been particularly successful in affecting Democratic wins in their county, even though their scheme was "successful" enough to be repeated election after election and year after year. At the heart of their scheme, after all, was bribing money out of candidates in order to be placed on a "slate" that the cabal would then help to get elected.
As the commenter suggests, it could well be that these "Democratic" officials were only signed up as such in order to affect primary elections (in order to ensure the weakest possible "D" candidate, for example) or even in hopes of adversely affecting general elections as "Democrats," secretly working on behalf of the Republican Party.
I've been unable to learn the party affiliations, yet, of the candidates who paid to be on their "slate," which, once we learn that, could be somewhat instructive. Maybe. But until then, a major point that I'd to make in any case: I don't really care what their party affiliations were.
I guess I'm just in the minority here, but I'm having a bit of trouble getting exercised about $165 million (just to put that into perspective, the movie sequel The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian had a budget of $200 million) in bonuses to AIG employees.
Yeah, it's a shame that approximately one-tenth of one-percent of the $144 billion made available to the company by the federal government in bailout monies went to such bonuses, but where is all the furor from public officials, media outlets and bloggers --- from both Right and Left --- over the 12 billions of dollars (with a "b") sent over to Iraq as pallets of cash (literally, shrink-wrapped $100 bills), which then simply disappeared into that trillion (with a "t") dollar rat hole without accounting or explanation?
Where is the outrage and accountability there? Nowhere.
How about the $4 billion (with a "b") that went to the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 to purchase privately made electronic voting systems which don't work and don't meet the federal standards it was claimed that they did?
It's curious, but not particularly surprising by now, the stuff that folks in Congress get selectively pissed off about, the stuff that media (both mainstream and blogosphere) go selectively wall-to-wall over, versus the stuff they don't.
You'll pardon me if I'm not particularly moved much at all by the latest round of AIG sturm-und-drang, hand-wringing, navel-gazing, finger-pointing and speechifying. Oh, and about the still-free bin Laden, and the still-free anthrax killer...well, don't get me started. Guess those things don't much matter.
Presuming President Obama's nomination of NH's Republican Sen. Judd Gregg as Commerce Secretary will be confirmed by his fellow Senators, and presuming the Democratic Governor of NH keeps his backroom "deal" and appoints a Republican to fill Gregg's vacated seat, then Democrats in the Senate ought to take advantage of some arcane filibuster math, and hold up the seating of that replacement until MN's Senate seat is properly filled.
As things stand now, while former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman is taking his sweet time in throwing everything he can think of against the wall to see what might stick, in hopes of winning his MN election contest against presumptive Senator-elect Al Franken, the Dems need two cross-over Republican votes, for a total of 60, to stymie any attempted GOP filibuster. (That math presumes that independent Senators Sanders and Lieberman both vote with the 56 currently-seated Dems, as they do on most matters.)
However, the Senate rule requiring a supermajority (three-fifths of the Senate) to shut down attempted fillibusters with a cloture vote, is based on the number of "Senators duly chosen and sworn" --- in other words, currently seated Senators.
With two seats vacant then, from MN and NH, after Gregg's departure, that would put the number of "duly chosen and sworn" Senators needed to stop a filibuster at just 59 (or, 58.8, to be precise, but since we're not allowed to count Lieberman as .8 of a human, the number needed for cloture would be 59)...
As usual, BRAD BLOG readers were right in overwhelmingly determining, in our poll just after the New Year, that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid would fold on his previous rhetoric promising to disallow the seating of anybody appointed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich to replace Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate. Roland Burris was sworn in as the newest U.S. Senator just minutes ago, as Reid and his fellow Dems stood in the background applauding.
Of course, as it turned out, it wasn't a difficult poll question to answer, given both the laws concerning such appointments, and the historical record of Reid's inability to either stick to his guns in any fight (ever) or, perhaps even more disturbingly, his failure to have even the slightest clue of when and with whom such battles should be picked.
Presuming Obama makes smart decisions at the White House (and that's certainly no safe assumption), there will only be so much he'll be able to accomplish --- ultimately, particularly after whatever honeymoon he's allowed is gone --- as long as Reid remains Majority Leader in the Senate, and Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer are Speaker and Majority Leader, respectively, in the U.S. House.
They are all three dinosaur fossils of a failed era, have a record of miserable incompetence and need to be replaced. The only question is will it be before or after a thumping in the midterm 2010 elections.
Before the editors had at it, it was titled in full: "Democrats to the Blogosphere: Thanks for Everything, Now Go Away".
And, by way of value-added content here, these were the first two grafs of the piece before they were excised for length reasons on the published final product...
The Bush administration and Republicans in Congress stored up plenty of good will over the last eight years...for a Democratic sweep on November 4th. But it wasn't necessarily enough good will to lead Progressives to look the other way when Barack Obama and the Democratic leadership start snubbing those who brung 'em to the dance --- and both of them are getting a good start at it right out of the box.
Barrack Obama promised "change", but didn't necessarily explain "change from what". Somehow, many of those who supported and voted for him got the notion that his calls for "change" meant change from the old politics of both the failed Republican and Democratic party leadership. I don't know where they got that idea
Now go read the Guardian column which, largely, picks up after the above. Your comments there, and/or here, always welcome, of course.
Why corporate mainstream journalists have a need to identify everyone as either "liberal" or "conservative" is beyond me. But setting that aside, of far more import is the substantive information in Washington Independent journalist Jonathon E. Kaplan's report today featuring lead Obama attorney Bob Baeur's attempt to defend against my fervent critique of the campaign's woefully inadequate and dangerously misguided efforts in dealing with the massive voting machine problems occurring around the country since early voting began (and, of course, well before even that)...
[Note 11/3/08: An updated version of the article, now posted here, scales by on the "liberal" thing, after I sent a gentle complaint to Kaplan.]
The article does nothing to assuage my concerns about the Dems' self-proclaimed "behind the scenes" efforts on these matters. Bauer was still unable to offer a shred of evidence that the campaign or the DNC has taken such concerns about the use of wholly unverifiable voting systems --- and worse, allowing and actually encouraging election officials to access those machines during the election, at the time they are most vulnerable to tampering, for "recalibration" --- with the gravity the issue deserves.
Incredibly (though no longer surprisingly), the Democrats persist with their tortured logic that taking action on problems with voting machines will somehow depress the electorate, before quickly changing the subject to concerns about Republican chicanery on the front-end voter suppression stuff.
As an Election Integrity advocate recently noted rather eloquently, the front-end voter suppression issues and the back-end voting machine failures are two sides of the same coin. You can't worry about one without worrying about the other. The Dems, unfortunately, are still worried about only one side of the coin, as Kaplan's report demonstrates all too clearly (yet again) today...
[The new, court-ordered directive from Secretary Cortes has now been issued. It's linked below, in the last update at the bottom of this article. - BF]
[Please note several important UPDATES added to the bottom of this article. - BF]
This just in from Pennsylvania... a federal court has found in favor of the NAACP and the 866-MYVOTE1 Election Reform Network, which were forced to sue the state's Democratic Secretary of the Commonwealth, Pedro A. Cortes, after his recent directive that emergency paper ballots need to be given to the voters only in the event that all of a precinct's touch-screen voting machines fail.
Most of PA uses 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting systems, and many of them broke down across the state during last April's Primary Election, leaving untold numbers of voters unable to cast votes.
As we reported when the lawsuit was filed last week, state law allows county clerks to give out paper ballots if just one machine breaks down on Election Day; Cortes' stunning decree, issued last month, went unchallenged by both the DNC and the Barack Obama campaign...
Buffalo's alternative weekly, The Beast, today runs a pretty candid (okay, very candid) Q&A they did with me about a week or so ago, when I was rather angry. Kinda like today, or any other day within the past week (or month, or 4 years).
It's a pretty good interview, if I say so myself. And I'll be sure to keep it in my pocket next time some idiot (either Republican or Democratic) accuses me of being a "partisan."
And while I hate tooting my own horn, when has that ever stopped me before? So here's Al Uthman's intro to the Q&A:
Brad Friedman is perhaps the most diligent and unassailable election integrity advocate in America. His work at Bradblog.com is required reading for anyone who gives a damn about maintaining democracy in America, and he's also the guy we call whenever we start freaking out about the insanity of allowing hackable, untested voting machines to tabulate an election between two morally bankrupt parties, or the bitter injustice of trumped up voter fraud charges taking precedence in the media over real, actual voter fraud.
[Ed Note: Please see the "IMPORTANT UPDATE" to this story at the bottom of this article. - BF]
Yesterday we reported the problems experienced at the Davidson County (Nashville), TN polls by Election Integrity filmmakers David and Patricia Earnhardt. Patricia, like so many others before, in so many elections past, saw her vote flip before her eyes on the ES&S iVotronic touch-screen system from her intended candidate, Barrack Obama, to the Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney.
Last week, we noted voter reports from two different WV counties, Putnam and Jackson, both counties where the same ES&S iVotronic touch-screen machines (which are notorious for flipping and losing thousands of votes and costing at least one Democratic U.S. House nominee her rightful seat) similarly flipped votes away from Democratic candidates.
Earlier today, John Gideon reported on ES&S iVotronics in SC which fail to include a number of races on the final review screen. In at least one county in that state, during the Republican Primary earlier this year, the machines had failed to even turn on at all, leading voters to scramble to find scraps of paper to vote on. ES&S is the nation's largest supplier of voting machines.
Now, finally --- and thankfully --- we have a report of voters experiencing votes flipping from the Republican candidate John McCain, to the Democratic candidate Barack Obama in a second TN county. Does this mean someone can actually take some action to get these machines the hell out of service now?!...
Rightwinger Laura Ingraham ably filled in for Bill O'Reilly in the "No Spin Zone" this week, by seeing her argument dismantled by constitutional attorney, prosecutor, and former (Republican-appointed) special counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, John Flannery on Fox "News."
Ingraham just couldn't believe there would be "all these reports" on the news about "massive voter fraud going on" all over the country, led by ACORN, if they weren't all true! (As we showed both here and at UK's Guardian, it's not true. It's a GOP hoax. More at our special coverage page here.)
Despite being in way over her head, having fallen for the hoax, Ingraham, naturally, played the loyal dead-ender and stuck to her empty guns. (Gosh, we hope there are no typos on Ingraham's own driver's license or voter registration, or she might find herself purged from the voting rolls entirely this November, as they're doing in Florida and so many other state, not mentioned on Fox "News," or even by the Democrats.)
The video follows below, along with further evisceration of Ingraham's "If this were happening to the benefit of the Republicans, the Democrats would be screaming fraud" argument...
U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy spanked the Montana GOP's Executive Director Jake Eaton for his unsubstantiated (and since-withdrawn) challenge to 6,000 voters in Democratic-leaning counties yesterday, solely on the basis that they'd filed change of address forms within the last 18 months.
"In his zeal to protect what he sees as Montana's fragile democracy from these transient hordes," the Judge wrote in his order, in response to state Dems and even the Obama campaign who stepped up to challenge the out-and-out attempt at voter suppression, "Eaton ignored the very law that answers his challenges."
“One can imagine the mischief an immature political operative could inject into an election cycle were he to use the statutes, not for their intended purpose of protecting the integrity of the people's democracy, but rather to execute a tawdry political ploy," Malloy wrote.
"The timing of these challenges is so transparent that it defies common sense to believe the purpose is anything but political chicanery," he added before noting that the challenges clearly violate federal law, since they come so close before an election, and focused only on counties where Democratic-leaning voters live.
When we covered the Montana GOP's waving the white flag of surrender yesterday, in light of actually being challenged (for a change) by Democrats, we also noted that we hoped they would not drop their lawsuit, even as the bully-boy Republicans had decided to cut and run...