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Latest Featured Reports | Sunday, November 23, 2014
GOP House Intel Committee Findings Debunk GOP BENGHAZI! 'Scandal'
Final report released quietly before holiday weekend and before eighth Republican BENGHAZI! committee set to convene...
Monster Energy Drink Not Just Crappy, Also the Work of Satan!
The indisputable video proof is now here!...
'Green News Report' 11/20/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
Record-breaking storm breaks Buffalo; October 2014 hottest October on record; Sorry, Repubs: China to cap coal use by 2020; PLUS: Obama doubles down on climate foreign policy...
Previous GNRs: 11/18/14 - 11/13/14 - Archives...
Extreme Weather? What Extreme Weather?
Yes, scientists have been warning us about this for years. And, yes, the record breaking storm in Buffalo is tied to global warming...
We're #26! Harvard 'Electoral Integrity' Report Dings U.S.
'World's Greatest Democracy' rated worst among Western nations; Ranked just below Micronesia, just above Mexico in overall list...
Gag Order Won't Ensure Impartial Jury in Trial of 'Dark Lord of Coal Country'
WV's criminally indicted coal boss and U.S. Chamber of Comm. director Don Blankeship presents challenge for federal prosecutors...
Oxford English Dictionary's 2014 Word of the Year: 'Vape'
That small point likely underscores some very encouraging news for the health of the world...
'Green News Report' 11/18/14
  w/ Brad & Desi
US Senate fails to approve Keystone XL; Can Congress override the Prez next year?; Native Americans: KXL is 'an act of war'; PLUS: Accountability for 'The Dark Lord of Coal'...
Previous GNRs: 11/13/14 - 11/11/14 - Archives...
Sanders on Colbert: Midterms a Vote Against Both Parties
For those mad at us for asserting 'not voting IS a vote', look who just said the same thing...
Exclusive: St. Louis County Was Warned Before Election Paper Ballots Would Run Out
Email obtained by BRAD BLOG reveals County's top election official ignored warnings from election experts, leading to shortages...
Not Voting IS a Vote
Stop blaming those who didn't turn out. Americans did vote. By not turning out, they voted against the two major parties and against the system as a whole. It may have been a dumb vote, but it was a landslide...
Stephen Colbert is Really REALLY Funny
This segment makes clear once again that it's very very sad The Colbert Report is soon going away...
'Green News Report' 11/13/14
Historic US-China agreement that GOP said couldn't be done; New hope for int'l treaty; Repub freak out; Scientists say deal not enough, but good start...
Crucial Moment for FCC & 'Net Neutrality'
Will the Democratic majority commissioners support the President's clarion call and thwart GOP opposition to an open Internet?...
Brad on Hartmann TV: Election 2014 Mess
On thousands of 'missing' votes in Wisconsin, on Nate Silver and polls vs. 'results', on Rightwing 'True the Vote' voter fraud fraudsters, and on much more...
'Green News Report' 11/11/14
'Science has spoken': Final UN report - bad, good & room for hope; PLUS: Margaret Thatcher's historic climate change speech - when conservatives accepted science ...
IN MEMORIAM: Tomas Young, 1979-2014
On Veterans Day, America added another casualty from the War on Iraq -- one who, after first meeting and interviewing him in 2005, we will never forget...
Early Data Suggests TX GOP Photo ID Restrictions 'Worked'
Provisional ballots doubled, turnout down by more 1/4 million votes, despite larger population, contested gov's race and increased voter registration...
WI Scanner Fails To Tally Thousands of Votes in 'Citizens United' Referendum
'Programming error' blamed for paper ballot tabulator recording just 16 of 5,350 votes in city of Stoughton, WI...
The Results Were Skewed Toward Republicans: A Response to Nate Silver
The statistics guru unhelpfully explains away mid-term's surprising outcome by presuming pre-election polling was wrong and unverified election results were all correct...
'True the Vote' Group Fails to Find 'Voter Fraud' (Again)
Laughingstock RW org's 'army' of monitors and smart phone app uncover just 18 benign 'irregularities', 0 cases of polling place impersonation...
'Green News Report' 11/6/14
Election 2014-pocalypse: Republican hegemonic hellscape!; Climate deniers now in charge; PLUS: At least one note of very good environmental election news...
About Last Night: KPFK 'BradCast'
Guest Matthew Segal of OurTime.org joins Brad to discuss whether young voters are to blame for Tuesday's election results and, if not them, then who...or what...
Reuters: Voting Probs Around Nation, 2,000 Missing Election Judges in Chicago
Wire service summarizes machine probs, Photo ID vote suppression and a really strange story out of Chicago...
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...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...


And, no, Photo ID restrictions wouldn't have stopped him
(Or the VERY high profile GOPers who committed same)...
By Ernest A. Canning on 1/30/2014 5:05pm PT  

On Tuesday, a Los Angeles County jury convicted California State Senator Roderick D. Wright (D) of false residency voter fraud, after finding that he lied about his address on voter registration and candidacy papers.

Wright's crime was an elite form of voter fraud, which, along with almost all of the most prevalent forms of voter fraud, would not have been prevented by polling place Photo ID restriction laws.

The jury was not persuaded by Wright's claim that he resided in the Inglewood residence of his common law stepmother. Prosecutors presented extensive evidence that established that Wright resided in an "upscale Baldwin Hills neighborhood" that was outside the district. They found that, in addition to lying about his address on his voter registration and candidacy papers, he fraudulently voted in five elections.

As we have repeatedly explained, most recently in covering a recent judicial determination that Pennsylvania's Photo ID law violated that state's constitution, cases involving in-person voter impersonation by ordinary citizens --- the only type of voter fraud that can possibly be prevented by polling place Photo ID restrictions --- are about a scarce as hen's teeth. False residency, by contrast, is a form of voter fraud that has reached epidemic proportions amongst our political elites in both parties, especially, as Brad Friedman has tirelessly documented, amongst the very high-level Republicans who hypocritically call for Photo ID restrictions for everybody else.

Where millions of innocent Americans are at risk of disenfranchisement as a result of the phantom menace of in-person voter fraud, prosecutions of elite politicians for false residency voter fraud have been rare. In one of those rare instances, former Indiana Republican Secretary of State Charlie White was convicted in 2012 of three counts of felony false residency voter fraud. His conviction was particularly ironic, given that he was the chief election official in the first state in the nation to implement polling place Photo ID restrictions. Despite his felony voter fraud charges (and four others) White has not had to serve so much as a single day in jail. Wright, a Democrat, faces up to eight years in prison.

[Update 1/31/2014: Following a meeting by the Democratic caucus, California State Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg (D) announced that Wright will retain his seat pending appeal. However, the Democratic caucus, which sports a super-majority in the state Senate, removed Wright from his position as the Chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee.]

Here are just a few of the cases of false residency voter fraud we've documented over recent years, by some high-profile GOPers you will be very familiar with...

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

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And why we do what we have done here for the past 10 years...
By Brad Friedman on 1/24/2014 12:25pm PT  

Late last year, The BRAD BLOG covered the incredibly close results of the state Attorney General's race in Virginia in great detail. The Democrat Mark Herring was eventually declared to be the winner in that razor-thin race after what suffices for a "recount" process in the Old Dominion.

An announcement this week by the state's brand-new Attorney General offers a stark reminder, once again, of the importance of elections and of the work that The BRAD BLOG has done here for the past 10 years...

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'Fraud is rare, but when it does occur, absentee ballots are often the method of choice'...
By Brad Friedman on 1/22/2014 1:27pm PT  

Following the national shame of 2012 when long lines at the polls on Election Day and during Early Voting (which was restricted by Republicans in a number of states) once again suppressed the vote and endangered American democracy, President Obama called for electoral reform as he declared victory on Election Night.

"I want to thank every American who participated in this election...Whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time," he said, adding: "By the way, we have to fix that."

During his second Inauguration speech, he repeated the message: "Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote."

At his State of the Union Address in 2013, he again re-iterated the call for reform --- citing the story of 102-year old Desiline Victor, an African-American Florida woman who was forced to wait in line for hours on end to cast her vote in 2012 --- before announcing his creation, by Executive Order, of a bi-partisan Presidential Commission on Election Administration. It would be headed up by both his own top election attorney, Robert Bauer, as well as Mitt Romney's lead election attorney and long-time GOP operative, Benjamin Ginsberg.

After six months of hearings and conferences around the country, that commission has now released its unanimous recommendations [PDF] for improving access to the voting booth and for other much-needed improvements for electoral administration.

While coming to bi-partisan consensus with a report on such a contentious topic is no small achievement in and of itself in this extraordinarily divisive environment, the Commission highlighted one fairly obvious point which will almost certainly disappoint the most partisan Republicans, but also, perhaps less obviously, some Democrats...

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UPDATED with 'recount' details and more...
By Brad Friedman on 1/10/2014 6:27pm PT  

Meanwhile, back in Virginia...here we go again...

Yes. As reported by the State Board of Elections website tonight, that's a 9-vote margin in the state Senate special election held on Tuesday to replace Democratic state Sen. Ralph Northam who is vacating his seat after being elected last November as VA's next Lt. Governor.

To put that another way, control of the entire VA state Senate now rests on 9 unverifiable touch-screen votes out of more than 20,000 cast.

The VA state Senate is currently evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, twenty seats each. The tie-breaking vote in the state Senate goes to the Lt. Governor. Until Northam is sworn in to his new job on Saturday, when he takes over from the current Republican Lt. Governor, the GOP controls both chambers of the state legislature. A Democratic Lt. Governor will, theoretically, for the first time since 1998, mean that control of the upper chamber goes back to Democrats. But that is only if both Northam's Senate seat and the one being vacated by Attorney General-elect Mark Herring both go to Democrats in the special elections...

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Dems sweep all three statewide offices for first time since 1969...
By Brad Friedman on 12/18/2013 12:05pm PT  

At a press conference in Richmond moments ago, late on the third day of a three-day "recount" process in Virginia, state Sen. Mark Obenshain (R) conceded this razor-thin race against state Sen. Mark Herring (D) for state Attorney General.

Herring will replace VA's outgoing, far right Republican AG Ken Cuccinelli who lost his own battle for the Governor's office last month.

Obenshain's concession this afternoon comes after what had previously appeared to be the closest statewide race in history. Just 165 votes out of more than 2.2 million cast had separated the two when the November 5th race was certified by the State Board of Elections late last month. But, by yesterday, Herring's lead had widened to more than 800 votes after two days of what passes for a "recount" in VA (there is no "recount" on touch-screen electronic voting systems used by most voters in the state and most of the paper ballot localities simply re-run the bulk of paper ballots through optical-scan systems again, as per state election code.)

Obenshain's decision means that Democrats will take control of all three statewide offices --- Governor, Lt. Governor and Attorney General --- for the first time in the Old Dominion since 1969 and the first time in twenty years that a Democrat will control the AG's office there.

It also means that a potentially divisive election contest --- described by some as the "nuclear option" --- will not be invoked by the Republican candidate. Once the "recount" is fully complete on Friday, and all of the very few "challenged ballots" are adjudicated by a three-judge special recount panel in Richmond, Obenshain would have had until Monday to file a contest. Unlike similar post-recount contests elsewhere, in Virginia the matter is not decided by a court of a law, but rather by a majority vote of a joint session of the state legislature, which is currently dominated by Republicans.

With both candidates currently serving as state Senators, a special election to replace either winner of the AG race was going to happen no matter the outcome of the "recount". The only question was which state Senator would need to be replaced. Obenshain's district is believed to be solidly Republican and likely would have stayed that way had he won the AG election. Herring's district, however, is currently seen as a toss-up. While the VA House is predominantly Republican, a GOP victory in the special election to replace Herring in the state Senate would swing the balance of that chamber over to Republicans as well.

Given the way Virginia forces the majority of voters to vote on 100% unverifiable electronic voting systems, and that the majority of votes cast on paper ballots are first tallied and then "recounted" by electronic optical-scan computers (either correctly or incorrectly, who knows?), we'll never know who voters really wanted to win this year's AG race. But this, apparently, is, as they say, "close enough for government work". Voters in VA deserve, and should demand, a much more transparent and overseeable system for the most crucial element of their system of self-governance.

Barring any surprises, Herring will be sworn into office in January, along with Democratic Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe and Lt. Governor-elect Ralph Northam.

* * *

Previously related #VAAG coverage at The BRAD BLOG...

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Rep. Mel Watt finally approved by bipartisan U.S. Senate vote...
By Ernest A. Canning on 12/11/2013 11:04am PT  

Yesterday, nearly five years after President Barack Obama first assumed office, the U.S. Senate removed what has been described by some progressives as the "single largest obstacle to meaningful economic recovery" when it was finally allowed to vote for the confirmation of Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC) as the new Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).

In a vote allowed by a recent change to filibuster rules in the U.S. Senate, Watt will now replace Bush appointee Edward J. DeMarco, who was first appointed in 2008 and became the acting Director of the federal agency in 2009.

The FHFA oversees the government-sponsored mortgage giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which collectively own 60% of all mortgages in the United States. The agency also oversees 12 Federal Home Loan Banks, which, according to the Washington Post, "serve as major sources of funding for hundreds of banks."

In a statement issued late yesterday, praising Watt's confirmation and chiding Senate Republicans for their obstructionism in holding up this and many other uncontroversial Presidential nominations, Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, highlighted the importance of the FHFA's intended role in safe-guarding homeowners.

"Republicans in the U.S. Senate callously blocked the confirmation of the supremely qualified Congressman Mel Watt to be our nation's Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency," Becerra said. "Today, by a bipartisan vote of 57 to 41, Rep. Watt is on his way to lead the FHFA as America's watchdog over the American Dream. What a difference a day makes when the Senate is free of the mischief of exploitive filibusters"...

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Tom Courbat wins another for democracy with AB 813...
By Brad Friedman on 12/9/2013 6:45pm PT  

I'm in the middle of a number of other things, but I wanted to just offer a quick --- and very belated --- note of congrats to longtime citizen Election Integrity advocate Tom Courbat of Riverside County, CA. (Decidedly not to be confused with Pennsylvania's democracy-hating Gov. Tom Corbett.)

Late in the summer, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed AB 831, a short and simple bill, brought to the legislature by Courbat and introduced there by a Republican, requiring elections officials in CA counties to publish the "Statement of Vote" --- the official precinct-by-precinct results --- to their websites "in a downloadable spreadsheet format".

While that doesn't seem extraordinary --- and may even come to a surprise to many who might have presumed all elections officials already do that --- it really is an important and helpful bill for those who understand the difficulty and frustration, in many cases, that citizens may sometimes have in trying to oversee election results. Some of you "election geeks", in particular, may appreciate how difficult it can often be to make sense of questionable election results, or to double-check very close races in places where precinct results are not made available at all, or where they are published only in HTML or PDF formats which are not easily imported into a spreadsheet where numbers can be more carefully examined for inconsistencies, irregularities or simply missing votes.

As Courbat noted after the bill was signed, the new CA state law "will make it much easier for candidates and election integrity advocates to rapidly analyze election results for any anomalies."

"Candidates wishing to request a recount have only five days after publication of the Statement of Vote to file for a recount," he noted. "Since recounts can be quite expensive, this capability to analyze sometimes voluminous data can be the deciding factor in a go/no-go decision by a candidate."

As anyone who followed our harrowing detailed coverage this year of Virginia's still-ongoing November 5th Attorney General's race may recall, it was, in fact, exceedingly close citizen scrutiny of precinct-by-precinct results which discovered some 3,000 missing votes from Election Night results. Those "found" votes may well turn out to have made the difference in that state's closest-ever statewide race (which currently has a 165 vote margin as it heads into VA's version of a "recount" just over a week from now)...

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Former Dem opponent says State Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R) was also tied to previous deceptive mailings...
By Ernest A. Canning on 12/6/2013 4:29pm PT  

The Ventura County Star reports that my CA Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R-Thousand Oaks), and three other members of the California Republican Assembly Caucus abused their public mailing privileges by sending nearly 260,000 deceptive mailers to their constituents.

According to a former opponent of his that I spoke with, it wouldn't be the first time Gorell has been linked to deceptive mailers.

Instead of directing constituents who desire to take advantage of the state's Affordable Care Act health insurance exchange, the mailer "labeled as 'A California Resource Guide' to explain federal health care reform", points constituents to a fake website created by state Republicans. Rather than the official CoveredCA.com website, the new mailers direct the recipient to CoveringHealthCareCA.com, a bogus Republican site which, though attempting to appear to be the official CA health care exchange site, doesn't actually provide the ability to shop for or purchase policies.

"Though it launched in August," ABC News reports, "the site made waves this week after a number of GOP Assembly members sent out mailers to their constituents, highlighting the page as a 'resource guide' for information on the Affordable Care Act."

The deceptive, publicly funded mailers sent by the self-described "fiscal conservatives" cost CA taxpayers $77,496, according to the Star's public records request. The money, they report, came from the state Assembly's "taxpayer-funded operating budget."

Since the fraud was exposed, the LA Times reports, the GOP site has added some links to the official CA health care site. The original site, according to Karoli at Crooks and Liars who helped expose the scam, included "links to negative articles and twisted messages intended to sour people on signing up for health insurance before they ever land at the official health exchange site."

The effort comes on the heels of a what ABC describes as an "onslaught of fake insurance sites popping up in the state --- 10 of which were shut down by Calif. Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris in November --- since the implementation of Obamacare."

This is not the first occasion in which Gorell, an outspoken opponent of the Affordable Care Act, has been tied to deceptive constituent mailers. Last year, the chairman of a local Democratic Club asked me to speak on the subject of GOP voter suppression laws and e-voting issues. While there, I was approached by Democrat Eileen MacEnery, Gorell's unsuccessful 2012 Assembly opponent. She was still miffed by what she described as a deceptive Gorell mailer. In it, she told me, Gorell included his name and photo, alongside those of Democratic Sen. Diane Feinstein and Rep. Julia Brownley. MacEnery claimed the mailer falsely implied that the Democratic Party supported all three, even though Gorell is a dedicated member of the GOP.

Gorell was the only local Republican who retained a seat in my area after state redistricting converted what had been a Republican-majority district into one where registered Democrats hold a slim majority. Last month, Gorell announced that he will challenge Brownley for her seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Hopefully local voters will keep his deceptive record in mind when any of Gorell's mailings show up in their mailbox.

* * *
Ernest A. Canning has been an active member of the California state bar since 1977. Mr. Canning has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science as well as a juris doctor. He is also a Vietnam vet (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968). Follow him on Twitter: @Cann4ing.

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Change in filibuster rule restores possibility of functioning Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches of government...
By Ernest A. Canning on 11/22/2013 6:05am PT  

[This article now cross-published by The Progressive...]

It took awhile. A few years even. But, on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) finally decided he'd had enough.

By a majority vote of 52 to 48, the U.S. Senate changed their rules to partially end the filibuster, invoking what some refer to as the so-called "nuclear option". The rule change, which will permit an up-or-down majority vote on all Presidential nominations for executive and judicial office (with the exception of Supreme Court nominations), is better described as the "democracy option".

The rule change, for now, would have no effect on the use of the filibuster by the minority to block legislation. Three Democrats, Carl Levin (D-MI), Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Mark Pryor (D-AR), voted with Republicans to sustain the previous filibuster rules, last changed in 1975 when the Senate amended their Standing Rules to reduce the number of Senators required for cloture --- to end debate --- from two-thirds to three-fifths.

Although there had been noise, and urging from many quarters, for a dramatic change of the filibuster rules for some time, especially after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) drew the dubious distinction of becoming the first U.S. Senator in history to filibuster his own bill, the impetus became particularly strong over the past several weeks with the outrageous block put on the nominations of every one of President Obama's nominations to the important D.C. Circuit Court of Appeal, the court which oversees federal regulations.

The result of yesterday's rule change in the U.S. Senate could well be a return, at least in part, to the Constitutionally designed functions of three different branches of government, as envisioned by our founding documents. It may also mark an end to a thirty-year scheme by Republicans to pack the courts with radical, right wing jurists...

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Says if minority continues to block qualified nominees, Senators have both right and 'Constitutional duty to change filibuster rules'...
UPDATE: Republicans block 4th nominee to DC Circuit Court of Appeals...
By Ernest A. Canning on 11/18/2013 10:53am PT  

Last week, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), a former Harvard Law Professor, argued that Senators not only have the right, but a constitutional duty to change the Senate filibuster rules. She argued, in no small part to her fellow Democrats, that the rules were being abused by Republicans as part of a "naked attempt to nullify the results of the last Presidential election [in order] to force us to govern as if President Obama hadn't won the 2012 election."

Her remarks (see video and text transcript below) were made in the wake of the third occasion in which Senate Republicans blocked the nomination of an extraordinarily well-qualified female nominee to the important federal D.C. Circuit Court of Appeal.

"Republicans now hold the dubious distinction of having filibustered all three women that President Obama nominated to the DC Circuit," she said. "Between them, they have argued an amazing 45 cases before the Supreme Court and have participated in many more. All three have the support of a majority of Senators. So why have they been filibustered?"

"Well, the reason is simple," she explained, answering her own question. "They are caught in a fight over the future of our courts. A fight over whether the courts will be a neutral forum that decides every dispute fairly, or whether the courts will be stacked in favor of the wealthy and the powerful."

Yes. The minority party in the U.S. Senate is blocking these nominations, not because of the qualifications of these very well-qualified women, but because they are continuing a thirty-year Republican effort to "rig the courts", as Warren explains, by packing the U.S. federal bench, particularly the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals...

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State issues draft regulations for fracking, is praised by industry...
By Ernest A. Canning on 11/16/2013 4:03pm PT  

In a letter this week, twenty of the nation’s top climate scientists urged Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) to impose an immediate moratorium on the use of hydraulic fracturing (aka "fracking") as a means for extracting oil and natural gas in the Golden State.

Just days later, the state issued new draft regulations for "fracking". The new regulations were praised by the fossil fuel industry.

In the letter, the scientists warn Brown that "fracking," as applied to California's Monterey Shale Formation, would "exacerbate…environmental threats, particularly climate disruption, local air and water pollution, and resource consumption."

After noting that fracking "will likely rapidly increase fossil fuel development at a time when California is poised to transition to low-carbon renewable energy technology," the climate scientists expressed a number of specific environmental concerns...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 10/23/2013 6:05am PT  

After what he describes as the Republican Party's victory of "pettiness and bigotry" over "pragmatism and principle", Bexar, Texas County Criminal Court Judge Carlo Key has decided to leave the GOP to run next year as a Democrat instead.

In a video posted to his website, Key, who was first elected in 2010, echoed and reversed Ronald Reagan's explanation for leaving the Democratic Party to become a Republican in 1962. "Make no mistake," Key says, "I have not left the Republican Party. It left me."

"I cannot tolerate a political party that demeans Texans based on their sexual orientation, the color of their skin or their economic status," Key explains in detailing some of his reasons for the party switch. "I will not be a member of a Party in which hate speech elevates candidates for higher office rather than disqualifying them. I cannot place my name on the ballot for a political party that is proud to destroy the lives of hundreds of thousands of federal workers over the vain attempt to repeal a law that would provide health care to millions of people throughout our country"...

Key's brief video, along with a text transcript of his remarks, follow below...

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By Ernest A. Canning on 10/10/2013 11:03am PT  

Speaking on the floor of the U.S. Senate last week, on the third day of the federal government shutdown, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) excoriated Republicans in the House of Representatives as "extremists" and "anarchists", while offering an impassioned case for why "government matters."

[See video and transcript below.]

"When I hear the latest tirades from some of the extremists in the House, I am struck by how vague these complaints are," she said. "The anarchy gang is quick to malign government, but when was the last time anyone called for regulators to go easier on companies that put lead in children’s toys, or for food inspectors to stop checking whether the meat in our grocery stores is crawling with deadly bacteria, or for the FDA to ignore whether morning sickness drugs will cause deformities in little babies?"

She went on to argue that the American system of governance, though far from infallible, can carry out the will of the people who are positioned to correct it and make it better. "Our democracy is an experiment, and it’s always evolving. We constantly redesign and re-imagine and improve on what we do together."

"You can do your best to make government look like it doesn’t work when you stop it from working. You can do your best to make government look paralyzed when you paralyze it. You can do your best to make government look incompetent through your incompetence, and ineffective through your ineffectiveness. But sooner or later, the government will reopen. Because this is a democracy, and this democracy has already rejected your views," she said, before concluding with a message of optimism.

"Today," Warren said, "a political minority in the House that condemns government and begs for this shutdown has had its day. But like all the reckless and extremist factions that have come before it, their day will pass, and our democracy will return to the important work that we have already determined to do together."

* * *

Here's a video of the key section of Sen. Elizabeth Warren's powerful 10/3/2013 remarks on the U.S. Senate floor, (a longer version can be viewed here) followed by a text transcript...

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SB 360 will also allow the use of new systems in 'legally binding elections' as 'pilots' without any state certification at all
Clears way for full development, and then sale, of Los Angeles County's planned new 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting system...
By Brad Friedman on 10/5/2013 3:37pm PT  

Over the weekend, Governor Jerry Brown (D-CA) signed SB 360, a radical new election reform bill, that will, for the first time in decades, end all federal testing of new e-voting systems approved for use in the state of California.

The measure, sold dishonestly by its supporters to the public and lawmakers, is expected to have an impact across the rest of the nation as well. It's enactment paves the way for the final development of a new, unverifiable touch-screen voting system for use in Los Angeles County, where it is then slated to be sold for use in jurisdictions elsewhere in the state and country.

Before the adoption of SB 360, new voting systems in California required two independent levels of testing, both at the federal and state levels before they could be used in an election here. Even with those two independent testing regimes in place, the systems certified by the Sec. of State over the past decade or more have been riddled with errors and security flaws that were later discovered. For those reasons, and others, The BRAD BLOG had been calling, unsuccessfully, for Brown's veto of SB 360.

As we've documented on these pages, the new law also affords sweeping new executive powers to the Sec. of State to approve new e-voting systems for use in so-called "pilot programs" without any certification testing at all, even from state auditors. Those "pilot" e-voting and tabulation systems, according to the new law, may now be used in "a legally binding election" at the sole discretion of the Sec. of State.

The BRAD BLOG has reported in great detail on this dangerous new bill, which was eventually passed along partisan lines with almost no debate in either chamber of the state legislature. It was supported by all the Democrats in both the state Senate and Assembly, and opposed by all but one Republican.

The bill, granting unprecedented power to the California Sec. of State, was authored by state Senator Alex Padilla (D) --- himself a leading 2014 candidate for California Sec. of State. It was also supported by one of his two main rivals for that job, State Sen. Leland Yee (D), who has also gone on record calling for Internet Voting systems in California.

The only one among the top three Democratic contenders to replace CA Sec. of State Debra Bowen (who is termed out in 2014), who did not go on record in support of SB 360, is former Common Cause official Derek Cressman.

As we also reported, the bill was sold dishonestly by Padilla to both lawmakers and the public...

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Another 'Fair and Balanced' failure of the U.S. corporate media...
By Ernest A. Canning on 10/4/2013 1:49pm PT  

As the government shutdown began, the corporate U.S. media played its usual unhelpful role by not taking sides in what was clearly a one-sided argument.

"In shutdown blame game, Democrats and Republicans united: It's the other side's fault," declared Washington Post's headline. "Shutdown: Obama and Republicans Trade Blame as Deadline is Crossed," TIME unhelpfully noted, sounding much like the pretend news outlet Fox "News", which declared similarly "Partial shutdown begins: Can Congress, White House compromise?"

Never mind that Democrats had already compromised by agreeing to "Sequestration" level budget cuts, the only question was how would the two sides "compromise" on the Affordable Care Act which had nothing to do with the budget resolution itself, but has long been a bete noir for Republicans.

Meanwhile, the non-U.S. news outlet, The Guardian in the UK, accurately reported that the U.S. government shutdown occurred because Democrats refused to give into the Tea Party's extortion-like demands. Specifically, they wrote, it occurred after "Republicans staged a series of last-ditch efforts to use a once-routine budget procedure to force Democrats to abandon their efforts to extend U.S. health insurance."

Was that so hard? Apparently so, for the U.S. corporate media anyway...

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

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