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...
Republicans in state after state across the country today, Memorial Day 2011, are remembering those who fought and died to protect our democracy by celebrating recent victories in their renewed effort to remove the right to vote for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of legal American voters.
Both of them, as opponents have documented over and over again, will serve to do little more than to disenfranchise far more legal (largely Democratic-leaning) voters than those who will be kept from fraudulently impersonating other voters at the polling place, which, as even most proponents admit when forced, happens almost never --- if it all.
Thankfully in at least one instance since our last report, Gov. Mark Dayton (D) of MN vetoed a photo ID measure passed by Republicans in his state. So there is one case, at least, where the memories of our fallen soldiers might be appropriately honored this weekend, as one governor has remembered to protect the very thing that so many of them died for.
Despite the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the enactment of Indiana's photo ID law in Crawford vs. Marion County Election Bd. (2008), both the new WI photo ID law, which may cost WI taxpayers $7 million to implement, and both the SC and TX photo ID laws, which do not even recognize student photo IDs, may be subject to significant legal challenges...
It's getting incredibly difficult to keep up with the amount of The Crazy out here of late. So here is a very quick round-up of the latest today (so far)...
• She Did What?!: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' activist Tea Bagger wife --- and, apparently, long-term denialist --- Virginia leaves a voice message to Anita Hill asking her to apologize for Hill's accusations, twenty years ago, that she was sexually harassed by Thomas. Hill's attorney was "shocked" by the call. In 2007, in a New York Times op-ed, as we noted at the time, Hill said she stood by her testimony. Hill repeated the sentiment again today, saying she has "no intention of apologizing because I testified truthfully about my experience and I stand by that testimony," as WaPo reports on yet another woman who knew Thomas back then coming forward today to say "The Clarence I know was certainly capable not only of doing the things that Anita Hill said he did, but it would be totally consistent with the way he lived his personal life then."
• Kreepy Scam: Matt Osborne from Osborne Ink notices our report on the insane email from Gary Kreep, Esq, Executive Director of the group calling themselves "United States Justice Foundation", sent out to the Tea Bag set on Monday, warning that ACORN is "still alive and ready to steal the November 2 elections" with "MASSIVE VOTER FRAUD". (Never mind that the org has been knocked out of business by the O'Keefe/Breitbart/MSM "pimp" hoax, and that they've never been shown to have stolen even one vote, much less an entire election.) Osborne tweets to us that Kreep is the same cretin who actually aired an Obama Birther Infomercial asking viewers to send him money for...something or other. He's doing the same thing in his latest ACORN "voter fraud" email scam.
• More Birther/Voter Fraud Fraudster Connections:TPM picks up on Mother Jones' report that the so-called "voter integrity program" discussed by Illinois' GOP candidate Mark Kirk on a recorded phone call "was launched by the Illinois Republican Party, working with a conservative political action committee and an anti-Obama birther". Without evidence for the claim, Kirk had cited two predominately African-American areas of Chicago as "vulnerable" and "where the other side might be tempted to jigger the numbers somewhat."
• He's back!: And speaking of phony "voter fraud" allegations, we reported some weeks ago on the Houston group calling themselves "King Street Patriots" and their "True the Vote" campaign warning about, as usual, massive Democratic voter fraud!!! (Sans evidence to support the actual claim, naturally). Their call to draft "poll watchers" has now reportedly led to voter intimidation charges such as "poll watchers 'hovering over' voters, 'getting into election workers' faces' and blocking or disrupting lines of voters waiting to cast their ballots" as early voting has opened in Houston where a fire recently destroyed all 10,000 of their 100% unverifiable e-voting machines (don't worry, they borrowed more from neighboring counties). The DoJ has now been called in to investigate the complaints. But, as it turns out, one of the folks supposedly responding to the complaints of voter intimidation on behalf of the county attorney's office is none other than John Tanner, George W. Bush's disgraced Voting Section Chief at the DoJ. Tanner was forced to step down from his post after The BRAD BLOG, in 2007, infamously caught him, on video, downplaying concerns of racial discrimination and intimidation at the polls by telling folks at an L.A. seminar that white people are more likely to be disenfranchised because "minorities...die first". He looks to be making a similar "both sides do it" play now in Houston, telling TPM "There are a lot of allegations out there on both sides." Really? Where are the complaints of voter intimidation by Democratic poll watchers in Houston? None have so far been reported, but we'll try to get more info on this.
• Uhhhh...: Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI)'s opponent, businessman Ron Johnson has a "deer in the headlights moment", caught on tape, during an interview with the Green Bay Press-Gazette editorial board when he was asked what he plans to do to bring back jobs for the middle class. He can't think of anything other than cutting government spending and freezes up when asked for more specifics. The moment helped lead to the paper's endorsement of Feingold for the first time ever (previously, they've always endorsed his opponent.)
• Mythgivings: If you missed it in yesterday's Green News Report, WV's GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate, in a debate Monday, discussed "the myth...and I say myth, that there is Global Warming." His Democratic opponent in the coal state, Gov. Joe Manchin, while not necessarily believing GW is "a myth", none the less ran a campaign ad last week displaying his manliness by shooting a hole, literally, through "Cap and Trade" legislation (which had been killed months ago anyway in the U.S. Senate.)
While criticism of Obama and Democrats is as easy as it is appropriate (as well as frequently engaged in here), their failures on the marquee items --- Afghanistan, health care, torture accountability, etc., ya know, the items Fox "News" and the other wingnuts like to talk about --- tend to obscure the very real differences between the current administration and the former one across a broader, and much less sexy (by cable news standards), level. That's just one of the reasons I reject the far too lazy "Democrats are just the same as Republicans" knee-jerkisms.
While on the big ticket items, as noted above, there is far less difference in real world results than all of us would like, but below the radar, in executive departments and policies, the difference has been, at times, and in some areas, like night and day.
Desi Doyen and I have made this point on a number of occasions in our Green News Reports --- most recently in last Thursday's edition, highlighting new, important and aggressive policy changes and initiatives at the EPA, federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Dept. of Interior.
Now, some important changes at the DoJ's Civil Rights Division, and of particular note to long time readers of The BRAD BLOG, its Voting Rights Division, are beginning to show real change and significantly for the better, whether you hear about it on Fox and CNN and MSNBC or not.
I've had this picture in my mind lately, an editorial cartoon-like drawing, of a dam about to break and someone (Obama?) leaning hard up against it in futile hopes of keeping it from bursting forth. The dam and its contents, in my mind's eye, are labeled "Bush Administration Crimes and Failures." I've been pondering, over the last several days, how we're soon likely to learn that everything we think we already know about the historically-unparalleled failures, crimes and cover-ups of the Bush administration, will likely prove to be barely the tip of the iceberg as the Bushies lose their power, and "the files" are finally opened for all to see.
It's likely to take years, after President Obama is sworn in next week, to unearth the entire breadth of the degradation, filth, corruption and dismantling of federal law and U.S. Constitution under the current administration, and to piece together all of the unshredded and likely-shredded evidence both, and to take in the information likely to pour forth from officials and former officials who finally find the courage to tell the world just how bad it all really was and is (even if many of them would now be doing so only to salvage their own hide.)
One hint of what will be found beyond the tip of that iceberg, or inside that near-to-bursting dam (take your metaphorical pick) comes in today's remarkable report [PDF] from the DoJ Inspector General on the illegal politicization of the hiring practices at the DoJ's Civil Rights Division and "other improper personnel actions" in the division.
It's remarkable on several fronts. Not only because it describes the politicization of the department under the Bushies, their strictly illegal hiring practices; their determined dismantling of a core of career attorneys devoted to years of legal-processes in the fight for civil rights; as well as perjury and out-and-out lying to Congress, but also because the report itself --- in one last classic stroke of corrupt Bush Administration gaming of the system --- was completed last July, prior to the election, but held for release until today, just 7 days before the criminals (or at least those who won't be still-embedded like cancer cells within the federal buearocracy for years to come) take their leave.
And, as if all of that isn't bad enough, with the out-and-out finding of criminal wrongdoing in the report (such as illegal hiring practices and lying about them to Congress), the Bush Administration's own DoJ has decided that no prosecutions should be brought against the Bush Administration's own DoJ for the Bush Administration's own DoJ's now-well-documented actions in breaking federal law.
The bastardization of the DoJ Civil Rights division is a topic which we've covered closely over the years here at The BRAD BLOG, and even played a part in helping to expose, for example, when the head of the Voting Section in that division, John Tanner, was forced to resign from his post, not long after we'd video-taped and published controversial (and inaccurate) comments he made at a 2007 conference in Los Angeles declaring that disenfranchising Photo ID restrictions at the polling place were more of a concern for the elderly than for African-Americans because "minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first."
(See our now-infamous video, shot by our own Alan Breslauer, at right.)
As today's (actually July's) report reveals, that wouldn't be the only unfortunate --- and one might say, "ironic", given his position --- derogatory remark made about African-Americans by Tanner. But the bulk of the report, it seems, is devoted to one Bradley Schlozman, who insidiously twisted the mission of the Civil Rights division, brought political prosecutions in order to try and affect the outcome of elections, in violation of written DoJ policy, and attempted (and arguably succeeded) in helping to engineer an outright illegal, and ideological purge --- an ethical cleansing, if you will --- at the department, in an attempt to stack it with far rightwing brethren from the Federalist Society, or "right thinking Americans" (RTAs), as he referred to them among friends...
As the great voting rights advocate, Rush Limbaugh, trumpeted at the beginning of his radio show this morning, today's 6 to 3 Supreme Court ruling allowing new, modern restrictions regarding which citizens may or may not cast votes at American polling places on Election Day, is "a huge, huge, huge move forward to undercut Democrat efforts to commit voter fraud this fall."
Fortunately, instead of coming in June as expected, this decision on an Indiana Photo ID restriction case comes just in time to prevent massive voter fraud at the polls in Indiana's Democratic Primary two weeks from now, when millions of fraudulent Democratic voters were almost certainly plotting to try and show up to vote on electronic voting systems on which it's impossible to prove one way or another whether they did or didn't vote the way the machines will tell us they did. With voting systems like those in use across the Hoosier State, and elsewhere around the country, it's all the more reason to ensure those Democrats can't show up and commit the fraud they were probably planning to engage in on May 6th!
The news is certainly the most important SCOTUS decision pertaining to elections since the triumphant, well-considered, and much-beloved Bush v. Gore decision of 2000. Today's verdict will undoubtedly be heralded and taught at American institutions of learning for decades to come, with the same reverence as that dedicated to landmark Supreme Court decisions like 1857's Dredd Scott v. Sandford ruling, which thankfully found that "people of African descent imported into the United States and held as slaves, or their descendants --- whether or not they were slaves --- could never be citizens of the United States, and that the United States Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in federal territories."
The Supremes have done it again! But no such important American political battle like that which was won today is ever fought alone. Due thanks must go to the long-fought efforts of countable simple citizens around our nation, concerned about the integrity of voting. We'd be remiss without noting some of the selfless freedom fighters who helped make today's great news a reality: Courageous, unheralded voices, such as those of "longtime advocate of voter rights" and Bush/Cheney '04 Inc. General Counsel Mark F. "Thor" Hearne, tireless Republican "voter fraud" information-wareness man John Fund, and Bush-appointed DoJ Civil Rights Division guardians of the ballot box, like Hans von Spakovsky, Bradley Schlozman and its former Voting Section chief, John "Minorities Die First" Tanner.
Thanks to brave men like them, and Mr. Limbaugh, of course, it'll be a new day at the polling place this fall! One in which, if Republicans legislators around the country hurry up and get on the anti-voter fraud ball, they can assure that millions of Democratic-leaning citizens won't be fraudulently mistaken for actual voters when they show up at their polling places this November.
But are restrictions that may keep just blacks and the elderly from casting a ballot enough to ensure the true integrity of our vote? Shouldn't we keep fighting to ensure that legitimate voters like you and me don't have our voices diluted by even more fraudulent groups out there, like gays, communists, and dead people, who every year change the results of election after election through their insidious anti-American efforts, because I say they do?
Read on for a couple of new ideas. Clearly, today's SCOTUS decision is a good start, but it hardly goes far enough to ensure that the right American voices are heard, as our founders intended! 14th Amendment, equal protection, blah, blah, blah, my ass!...
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.
More voter registration problems. This time in Louisiana during today's Democratic Party Primary. From the Obama campaign website just after 7pm ET tonight...
BATON ROUGE, LA— The Obama campaign submitted an urgent request for assistance to the Secretary of State’s Division of Elections today, after receiving widespread reports from Democrats across Louisiana who reported that they were not allowed to vote because their party affiliation had been switched. Hundreds of Louisiana democrats went to the polls to vote in today’s presidential primary and found that they were now on registration lists as Independent or Unaffiliated voters.
For what it's worth, Obama reportedly won today's primary, but problems with voter registration rolls are quickly emerging this year as a huge problem in state after state. Our reporting from just the last week reveals problem after problem...
Georgia: Widespread bottlenecks for voters as problems occur with Diebold's new e-pollbook system and the state's new Photo ID restrictions. Voters waited in line for up to two hours in some places.
New Mexico: 17,000 (11%) forced to vote on provisional ballots in Democratic Caucus as previously registered Democrats find they are no longer on voter rolls recently privatized by voting machine company ES&S.
Arizona: We've begun receiving reports from voters and local officials of polling places where some 40% of voters were forced to vote on provisionals, after state registration system outsourced to ES&S. [UPDATE: One such report is now published here, from a poll worker who reports that of 1291 ballots cast at her polling place, 540 --- some 41% --- were forced to vote provisionally.]
California: Various reports of voters registered for one party to find they were switched to another, or not registered at all. Confusion about how to handle non-partisan voters in Los Angeles County leads to nearly 100,000 votes which may not be counted properly.
Many states are just now fully implementing new, statewide, computerized registration rolls as mandated by the disastrous Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002. The systems are being outsourced to private companies in many states, and more and more Election Days seem to be turning into Beta Tests for the new systems...
Paul Kiel at TPM has the full story on why the two ladies have been demoted, and what they, along with Tanner, are being investigated for. Kiel also concludes: "So it seems that the voting section is truly entering a new era. Whether the voting section will reassume its traditional responsibility of protecting African-American voters from discrimination is another question. Only time will tell."
The Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) is attempting to build a case of misconduct against Alberto Gonzales by showing that the former attorney general may have played a hands-on role in ousting former New Mexico US Attorney David Iglesias based on pressure he received from former White House political adviser Karl Rove, according to several individuals familiar with the agency's probe.
Succumbing to improper political pressure in firing a US attorney would constitute a violation of Justice Department policy.
Recently, the OPR contacted Iglesias's former executive assistant, Rumaldo Armijo, to interview him about whether he was pressured by Pat Rogers, a Republican attorney in Albuquerque, and Mickey Barnett, a Republican lobbyist, to bring charges of voter fraud against Democrats in the state, individuals with knowledge of the scope of the OPR probe said.
Rogers was affiliated with the American Center for Voting Rights, a now defunct non-profit organization that sought to defend voter rights and increase public confidence in the fairness and outcome of elections. However, it has since emerged that the organization played a major role in suppressing the votes of people who intended to cast ballots for Democrats in various states. Rogers is also the former chief counsel to the New Mexico state Republican party, and was tapped by Sen. Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico) to replace Iglesias as US Attorney for New Mexico.
In an interview with Truthout in May, Iglesias said he had investigated so-called voter fraud allegations and found zero evidence to support the claims. He added that, based on evidence that had surfaced thus far and "Karl Rove's obsession with voter fraud issues throughout the country," he now believes GOP operatives had wanted him to go after Democratic-funded organizations in an attempt to swing the 2006 midterm elections to Republicans.
The BRAD BLOG has, of course, been following the GOP's voter suppression scam, headed by the so-called "American Center for Voting Rights" (ACVR) for years, ever since we first outed them as a phony GOP front group back in March of 2005. See our ACVR Special Coverage page for the entire sordid mess.
As well, in March of 2007, we ran exclusive comments from John Boyd, one of the top Democratic attorneys in New Mexico, who offered his first hand account of the pressure being brought to bear on Iglesias by Republicans in the state to bring phony charges of Democratic "voter fraud" as far back as prior to the 2004 election.
A review of Boyd's insider perspective is instructive, to say the least, particularly as we head into 2008 when disingenuous cries of "voter fraud" will be heard from Republicanists from coast to coast --- as long as they don't concern Ann Coulter's own voter fraud --- and as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear a key case on Photo ID polling place restrictions, described by the Century Foundation's Tova Andrea Wang, in her year-end column, "The Best and Worst of 2007: Voting Rights and Elections," to be "a far more important decision than Bush v. Gore ever was."
But with the continuing --- some might say, snail's paced --- OPR criminal investigation of Gonzales, we should note that the probe, as mentioned above, at least can be said to be moving forward in some fashion. Unfortunately, that's a far cry more than we can say for the job the Democrats are doing in bringing accountability via the U.S. Congress after a full year on the job.
Even the New York Times, in an editorial over the holiday, called on the lackluster Dems to get their act in gear, calling for "a full investigation into the misconduct that may have occurred," in the U.S. Attorney Purge scandal, adding that "it needs to be investigated vigorously and completely."
Then, unfortunately, they offer readers the bad news...
Republicans in the Senate are refusing to allow an up-or-down vote on nominations to the FEC, which means that at the end of the year when the terms of four current appointees end --- including previously recess-appointed GOP "vote fraud" zealot Hans von Spakovsy --- there will not be enough commissioners to even hold a vote. An interesting, if troubling, notion for a Presidential Election year.
But, as the GOP would not allow votes on the three other nominees (two Democrats and one Republican) after a block had been put on von Spakovsky by Senators Obama (D-IL) and Feingold (D-WI), and as Majority Leader Reid (D-NV) plans to hold pro forma Senate sessions to keep Bush from making another inappropriate recess appointment to the committee, and as Bush also refuses to send up a replacement nominee for von Spakovsky...it looks like that's where we're headed.
So it looks like another GOP vote fraudster goes down for now, now that Democrats have chosen to stand up a bit, for a change. But like all of these guys --- and like any good Bond villain --- they may not stay "dead" for long.
RELATED: Speaking of which, our DoJ Voting Rights section sources tell us John "Minorities Die First" Tanner has stillnot left the office, as we originally reported in a late-night posting on Tuesday! That, despite having supposedly"resigned immediately" as of last Friday! What's going on here? Is he deleting files on his computer? Was his whole resignation, and supposed reassignment to another job in the Civil Rights Division, just a hoax to get Congress off the DoJ's back? We're trying to figure it out.
Writes one of our sources to The BRAD BLOG this evening: "Tanner is obviously having problems letting go. He's in the office every day. Since his office is in a corner of the building, nobody can be exactly sure what's going on."
Another Voting Section source also writes to say, "Tanner is still there." And adds, "Its awkward. His co-conspirators dine with him."
PSSST... Could someone on the House Judiciary Committee please call the DoJ Office of Legal Affairs and find out what the hell he's still doing in his office?! What is he waiting for, Christmas (of 2008?)
More when, and if, we can learn anything...
UPDATE 12/21/07: He was still in the office today, Friday, a full week after resigning last Friday "effective immediately". A staffer in the voting section, when we called to check, said she expected that he'd be back next Wednesday, after the long holiday weekend.
It looks like the now-resigned but newly-reassigned former chief of the Voting Section in the DoJ's Civil Rights Division, John "Minorities Die First" Tanner, may be having trouble letting go.
The BRAD BLOG received the following email from a DoJ insider who has requested anonymity. We've confirmed the details with another insider DoJ source...
Something odd is in the air at the voting section.
John Tanner, the chief that “resigned immediately” last Friday after extreme controversy seems to have not gotten the memo to depart. Tanner has been lingering in the chief’s office playing on his computer for the last two days. He claims to have needed time to “pack” but there is nothing left to pack. Could the announcement that he was leaving be a ruse to buy some Congressional peace??
In a follow up note, the source added some detail that the lingering Tanner "had all weekend to pack," but "had very very little actually to pack as he only has one file cabinet in his office."
A second DoJ source confirms the sorry tale. That source told The BRAD BLOG, that Tanner "has been in his office for the last two days" and "he has not been talking to anybody."
"He is ostensibly packing his office, but he has been there," the source told us, before both offered still more insight on the very different way that others were forced, by Tanner, to leave the section in a hurry when their time was up, and on the fete being held tonight by staffers, current and former, in his dishonor...
Abrams was outraged at the lateral move for Tanner, and his attempted re-writing of the history of his shameful record, in his "farewell email" to colleagues. Guests David Becker, a former DoJ Civil Rights Division attorney, now of People for the American Way (PFAW) and Washington Post's Dana Milbank, both concurred that Tanner's comments, as video-taped, and originally reported by The BRAD BLOG were instrumentally in his "demise".
The extension to the investigative series shores up Abrams' promise which concluded last week's "final" episode...
“Now while this was the last episode of this series, our 'Bush League' investigations are far from over. A new Attorney General has taken over. We are going to be watching very closely. The days of Justice Department malfeasance remaining under the mainstream media radar are over. You are on notice.”
Abrams once again showed a clip from our video, and this time with proper credit (Thank you!). He initially reported on the Tanner controversy, using a clip from our video, in the opening episode of the series last Monday.
As well, we heard yesterday from a producer on the show who told us they felt there would likely be much more to come in what may now be a now-continuing series. In the bargain, we were able to discuss a number of otherBRAD BLOG stories which may be of interest to them in future shows. So, stay tuned...
(Hat-tip to Alan Breslauer for both the above video, and the original video-tape of Tanner which started it all, from last October's National Latino Congreso here in Los Angeles, where he made his now-infamous remarks!)
A spokesman for Barack Obama (D-IL) sent us a statement decrying John Tanner's announced resignation today from his post as Chief of the DoJ Civil Rights Division's voting section, charging that his move to another post within the Civil Rights division amounts to little more than "simply shuffling deck chairs."
"It's unacceptable that the Administration is simply shuffling deck chairs by moving Mr. Tanner to another important position in the Justice Department. During his tenure, he made offensive, intolerant comments about minorities in an attempt to defend voter identification laws that threaten voting rights, and that's why I called on him to be fired. It's time we restore confidence in the Department by appointing public servants who are truly committed to upholding our civil rights."
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), chair of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, joins Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) on the other hand, in applauding the removal of Tanner from his post, saying in a statement (posted in full below) that "John Tanner’s resignation as Voting Section Chief at the Department of Justice provides the department with an opportunity to renew its commitment to the real problems facing voters and elections."
"I am hopeful that Mr. Tanner’s replacement will mark a departure from efforts to limit the participation of elderly and minority voters, and actually serve to remove obstacles to participation in the political process," said the elderly, but not-dead, African-American Congressman and voter from Michigan.
The complete statement from Conyers and Nadler follows below in full...
The controversial head of the DoJ Civil Rights Division, Voting Section, John Tanner, finally resigned from his position as of 11am ET this morning...
Today, John Tanner resigned from his position effective immediately as chief of the Civil Rights Division's voting section. His resignation email, with the subject line "Moving On" was sent out at approximately 11 AM to voting section staff. He said that he will be moving on to the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices.
"The resignation of John Tanner is long overdue," writes one happy voting section staffer to The BRAD BLOG this morning, saying that he and his colleagues are "overjoyed at the news."
"Since becoming Section Chief in 2005 and even before, Tanner demonstrated that he cared only about serving his Republican overlords' desire to suppress minority voting to help the Republican Party win elections and not about the enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. A great many long-time members of the Voting Section staff are overjoyed at the news of his departure," the staffer tells us, adding that a celebration is in the works.
"We are already planning a party for next week --- not a 'John Tanner goodbye party' but a 'goodbye John Tanner party.'"
At right is the most notable section of the now-infamous BRAD BLOG video, taped by our own Alan Breslauer at the National Latino Congreso in Los Angeles and which kicked off the most recent firestorm over Tanner's tenure. In it, as we reported exclusively at the time, Tanner explains his reasoning for over-ruling the majority opinion of career staffers in his own department in order to approve a controversial Photo ID polling place restriction in the state of Georgia. The measure was later found unconstitutional and declared to be a modern day Jim Crow-era poll tax by two federal courts.
Tanner says in the video, that though it's a "shame" that the elderly might be disenfranchised by such laws, "minorities don't become elderly the way white people do. They die first."
"Mr. Tanner had a clear record of undermining the core mission of the section – protecting the right to vote," Rep. Jerrod Nadler, chair of a House Judiciary subcommittee which oversees Tanner's department, said in a statement today in response to the resignation. "Tanner was actively seeking to curtail that cornerstone of American democracy. The right to vote is the foundation of all our liberties and it must be protected."
The chair of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers, was so incensed by Tanner's comments, as well as his previous efforts at white-washing a DoJ investigation of election fraud and voter suppression during the 2004 Presidential Election in Ohio, hearings were called in the House in late October, featuring an even more shameful performance by Tanner (video highlights/lowlights here), who would be described by the Washington Post afterwards as "one sorry man."
In response to Tanner's testimony at the hearings, The BRAD BLOG posted a letter from a voting section staffer, excoriating his sworn comments to the panel as "not credible", adding that Tanner had "lost no time in twisting the truth" in his testimony.
Tanner's long, often rambling resignation email sent out this morning (posted in full at the bottom of this article) skillfully attempts to re-write the history of his shameful tenure. In it, he conflates past performance of the department, beginning with his original arrival at DoJ 30 years ago, with the Civil Rights division's more recent and politicized history during which six years passed without a single lawsuit against African-American voter suppression have being filed.
Just one such case was filed under the DoJ's Voting Rights Act Section 5 oversight mandate, and it was a reverse-discrimination case in which white voters in Mississippi were said to have been discriminated against.
A special series on "Bush League Justice" by MSNBC's Dan Abrams premiered this week. In it's opening episode on Monday, Abrams focused on the DoJ's disastrous Civil Rights Division, and once again played a clip from Tanner's "minorities...die first" comments which we originally captured.
"Under Mr. Tanner's leadership, the Justice Department essentially took positions that disenfranchised minorities and the elderly," Nadler echoed once more in his comments today.
According to Abrams, the Bush administration "has turned the Division against the very people it was designed to protect. Instead of pursuing discrimination cases on behalf of African Americans, the Bush Civil Rights Division has focused on supposed reverse discrimination cases against whites and religious discrimination cases against Christians." Abrams points out that between 2001 and 2006, "not one voting discrimination case was brought on behalf of African Americans."
The segment continues with Abrams questioning former DoJ attorneys David Becker and Alia Malek about the Bush administration "stack[ing] the deck against Democrats." In one example given by Becker, congressional redistricting plans thought to favor Democrats would get "very, very, serious scrutiny" while redistrictings that favored Republicans would receive a "very hands off approach" even if, as was the case in Texas, the plan was unanimously found to discriminate against Hispanics by career Justice Department officials.
In addition to stacking the deck against Democrats, Abrams states that the Justice Department has been "hijacked" by the far right. After evidencing this claim with a couple of telling statistics, a somewhat exasperated Abrams continues, "They fundamentally changed what the Civil Rights Division does. It's no longer there to protect African Americans. It is to go after reverse discrimination cases and also to try and promote religion in schools and other public places."
Part 1 continues (at the 6:15 mark) with Abrams playing the "pretty amazing statement" by John Tanner, the current chief of the DoJ's Voting Rights Section, about minorities not being disenfranchised by Photo ID laws because they "don't become elderly the way white people do, they die first." Unfortunately Abrams, like many in the mainstream media, failed to credit The BRAD BLOG for our original video and reporting of the incident.
Despite the slight we look forward to more excellent reporting on this long overdue topic throughout the week.