"I think you’d be right to call out Romney and his son for having a financial interest in this company. It doesn’t look good."
- Former Democratic OH Sec. of State Jennifer Brunner to MSNBC, 10/22/12
To be frank, while it's no secret that the Center for American Progress has always been an outside extension of the Democratic Party, their important blog site, Think Progress, has served as a crucial, and journalistically sound fact-checker on the excesses, inaccuracies and blatant fabrications of the Right over the past several years.
I have been more than happy to cite their excellent work on a number of fronts over the years and take no pleasure in calling them, their new Senior Editor Judd Legum, and one of their writers, Aviva Shen, out here on The BRAD BLOG for an egregious and, frankly, outrageous journalistic failure.
It is one thing to make an error. We all do it. It is quite another thing indeed --- and what, in my opinion, separates real journalists from hacks --- when, once called out with independently fact-based and verifiable evidence of those errors, one sticks to the original error come what may.
That's exactly what Legum and Think Progress have decided to do, as the email discussion between Legum and me illustrates below. I'm sorry I have to even run it, but, for journalists, credibility is our only currency --- (especially those of us not funded by major foundations, as Think Progress is...so feel free to hit the tip jar here!) --- and being smeared, without correction, from a respected institution like Think Progress is extraordinarily damaging to all that we do here.
Todd was responding, no doubt, to the many folks who have been justifiably concerned of late, since it was discovered that a bunch of Bain Capital investors, led by Mitt Romney's son Tagg, via a company called H.I.G. Capital (believed to stand for Hart Intercivic Group) took over control of Hart Intercivic, the nation's third largest voting machine company, in 2011.
The Austin-based Hart company, according to VerifiedVoting.org's database, supplies electronic voting machines and paper ballot tabulators that will be used to tally votes in the Presidential Election this year in all or parts of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
I offered my point of view about those concerns earlier this month, explaining that it was not just the private ownership of Hart's machines by Romney backers which voters should be concerned about, but the private ownership of the similar systems in all fifty states that will once again be used to tabulate the results of this year's Presidential Election with little --- and very often zero --- possibility of oversight by the public or even by election officials.
Todd does an extraordinary disservice to the electorate with Tweets like the one above, and I'd be happy to come on his daily MSNBC show any time to explain why, as I have told him via Twitter in response to the above.
As Todd has not responded in kind, and to expand upon my response to Todd there, I'd like to ask him these few respectful questions...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: The 2nd Presidential Debate: Debunking and fact-checking on energy --- clean and, mostly, otherwise; PLUS: Again, a no-show at the debate: Climate Change ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Extreme hurricanes hitting U.S. more frequently: study; Climate change research gets petascale supercomputer; Heat-trapping CO2 also makes ice more brittle; German winter shows Achilles heel of renewables; Germany’s Merkel defends switching from nuclear to renewable power; Coal lobbyists force removal of coal sculpture; Civil disobedience: TX landowners oppose Keystone XL pipeline ... PLUS: Drink Up: Happy 40th birthday, Clean Water Act! ... and much, MUCH more! ...
No doubt during this election cycle, like every election cycle over the past forty years, we'll hear from the GOP about "tax and spend" Democrats.
Even though it doesn't detail how every Republican since Reagan has combined massive, unpaid-for tax cuts for the wealthy with runaway, unpaid-for military spending --- creating a great excuse to destroy the New Deal safety net, in order to slash their runaway deficit-spending --- this chart is, nonetheless rather revealing...
None of that, of course, has kept the bulk of the "Lamestream Media" from repeating the myth of Republicans as "fiscal conservatives," a concept this site has spent many years attempting to debunk. Last night, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow did exactly the same thing when it came to the claim that Mitt Romney's newly chosen Veep pick, Paul Ryan, is a "fiscal conservative."
To borrow from CNN's Soledad O'Brien yesterday, "I understand that this is a Republican talking point because I've heard it repeated over and over again" --- in this case by the Beltway Media --- but "you can't just repeat it and make it true."
Maddow dispatches with the "Ryan as 'fiscal conservative'" nonsense in the unforgiving video below, in which she notes:
If we really are going to be stuck with Paul Ryan as the face of Republicanism for a long time, and if the term "fiscal conservative" is supposed to mean anything, we should get clear there may be a lot of great stuff to say about this guy, but "fiscally conservative" is not one of the things you really can say about him. ... If that counts as fiscal conservative for you, you don't speak English
Ironically enough, Muller's study, which turned him into a believer, was funded, in no small part, by the climate change denying, oil and chemical magnate Koch Brothers.
Muller was, until his scientific study brought him to his recent science-based epiphany, a favorite of the Climate Change Denial Industry, which is also funded, in no small part, by the Koch boys. So his "total turnaround" as he describes it, "in such a short time," is nothing short of remarkable. As an added benefit, it has, as Desi noted in yesterday's GNR, been driving the fossil fuel propagandists crazy in the bargain...albeit that's a pretty short drive...
His bombshell op-ed begins this way...
CALL me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.
My total turnaround, in such a short time, is the result of careful and objective analysis by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, which I founded with my daughter Elizabeth. Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases.
Our best to Ed Schultz whose wife, he has just announced, is now battling ovarian cancer.
In the past hour, I was a guest on his radio show which is being guest hosted this week by Mike Papantonio of Ring Of Fire. Afterwards, the MSNBC prime time TV and radio host called in to the show to make the teary announcement and offer an update on his wife Wendy, who, he says, is just out of surgery, and will soon be recovering at home, after learning just last Wednesday about her illness.
Schultz said her fight to recover would take a while, so his radio and TV shows were, understandably, not at the front of his mind right now. The fiery and feisty progressive thanked his staff at both shows for covering for him during what he expects to be a prolonged absence from each program.
We've been on Ed's radio show many times over the years, and appeared as well on his TV program late last year. Our thoughts and prayers go out to him, Wendy and their family during this difficult time.
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UPDATE: Here is Ed's call into his own show (appx 6 mins), just after the top of the 1p ET hour, announcing his wife's battle with cancer. Thanks to the crews at Ring Of Fire and the Ed Schultz Show for sending over the audio...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: It's official: US drought is now declared a natural disaster; Massive anti-nuke protests in Japan; Kalamazoo River tar sands pipeline spill was entirely preventable; PLUS: Shell Oil's excellent adventure in the Arctic gets off to a rocky start ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): BLM gives away US coal, subsidizes China; GOP obstruction threatens coal miners; Koreas in worst drought in 100 years; Romney supports end of wind tax credit that would kill thousands of jobs; Greenland calves another massive iceberg; EPA drops CAFO reporting rule; FDA spied on scientists; Food safety inspection cuts; PG&E 'downgraded' pipeline safety probs to save money ... PLUS: Apple rejoins green registry, admitting its exit was a mistake ... and much, MUCH more! ...
As a disillusioned conservative, what I wouldn't give to have someone who could make logical, fact-based arguments from the right. How interesting would it be to have someone just as intellectually skilled as MSNBC's Chris Hayes, just as sharp as him, just as devoted to sound logic as him-but coming from the opposite perspective?
Where the hell are the public intellectuals on the right, anyway? It used to bug me that Fox "News" Channel would promote Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity as the main faces of their network. I never had the sense that O'Reilly was actually a conservative, merely someone who knew that repeating conservative memes over and over again would be lucrative. As for Hannity, he lost me back in 2001 when I tuned into his radio show and heard him declare that he would condemn his kid if he decided to get an earring. What is this, I thought to myself, 1978?
One can debate when the right stopped investing in its intellectual infrastructure, but one cannot debate the reality of this phenomenon. Oh, wait --- the right debates the reality of certain phenomena all the time. Look at global warming, for just a start...
Ah, what more can you say about those "small government conservatives" as they once again attempt to place the big government they claim to despise between citizens and their doctors by taking away more rights and freedoms?
In Mississippi, the Jackson's Women's Health Organization --- which operates the only remaining clinic to offer abortion services in the entire Magnolia State --- filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block enforcement of a state law meant solely to shut them down and nullify the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Roe v. Wade.
The new law requires any physician who performs an abortion to be both a board-certified OB-GYN and have admitting privileges at a local hospital. According to MSNBC's James Eng, this would almost certainly force the clinic to shut down because most of their physicians "live out-of-state or because local hospitals are reluctant to grant such privileges to physicians who perform abortions." That closure would "lead some to consider unsafe and illegal alternatives that pose grave risks to [women's] health, lives, and reproductive future," according to Nancy Northrup of the Center for Reproductive Rights.
On July 2, Reuters reported that "U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Jordan issued a temporary restraining order," stating that "plaintiffs have offered evidence --- including quotes from significant legislative and executive officers --- that the act's purpose is to eliminate abortions in Mississippi." On Wednesday, in a hearing on the Jackson Women's Health Organization's motion for a preliminary injunction, Judge Jordan, who was nominated to the federal bench by George W. Bush, extended his TRO pending his ruling. So the clinic stays open for the moment.
Meanwhile, Republicans in the Michigan legislature silenced a female colleague, Rep. Lisa Brown (D), when she responded to their anti-women's reproductive rights measure last month by stating: "And, finally, Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but 'no' means 'no'."
At least in that instance, the GOP "War on Women" produced an hilarious segment on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart entitled "The Vagina Ideologues". If you missed it a few weeks ago, have a look...
The MN Constitution mandates that a ballot question must truthfully inform voters of what it is they are voting on. The ACLU, following the same format it applied when it successfully prevented a similar photo ID initiative from being placed on the November 2012 ballot in MO, sets forth specific examples of how the ballot question, as enacted by MN's GOP-controlled state legislature, falls well short of that standard.
The ACLU argument may well succeed before the MN Supreme Court. However, as reflected by polls suggesting nearly 80% of Minnesotans support the adoption of photo ID restrictions, there is a very real prospect that the ACLU's legal objections will neither be heard nor understood in the utterly deceived court of public opinion...
Reports by the Miami Herald and by Democracy Now report that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has "ordered Florida...to end a controversial voter purge that's primarily targeted Latino, Democratic and independent-minded voters" (see video below) may not be technically accurate.
Both refer to the two-page letter submitted by T. Christian Herren, the chief lawyer of the DOJ's Voting Rights Division, to FL officials which suggested that the purge, ordered by Republican Gov. Rick Scott under the unsubstantiated pretense that the state had thousands of non-citizens registered to vote, violated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act because FL had not sought preclearance for the new voter roll purge either from the DOJ or a federal court. Herren, as the Miami Herald article observed, demanded that FL officials "advise whether the State intends to cease the practice," but stopped short of issuing an actual "order" that FL immediately cease and desist.
Election officials across the state have confirmed that the Governor's purge list includes hundreds, if not thousands, of legally registered U.S. citizens who are improperly identified as "non-citizens" to be removed from the rolls.
Only five of Florida's 67 counties are "covered jurisdictions" under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. That means that while Supervisors of Elections in some counties had vowed not to carry out Scott's purge, others, like Seminal County's Republican Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel, signified their intent to carry out what amounts to a new form of GOP "caging lists" in which those voters who do not respond to official letters in a designated fashion are automatically purged from the eligible voter rolls. On Friday, an attorney from the Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections, representing all 67 counties, sent a memo to officials recommending they do not carry out the scrub as called for by the state.
The DOJ letter to FL also noted that the voter roll purge across the entire state appears to be in violation of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which bans the removal of voters from the rolls in the 90 days prior to a federal election. Florida is set to hold its federal primary election on August 14th, making May 16th the last legal day for the type of voter roll maintenance the state now claims to be carrying out.
Even assuming that Herren's letter to the state amounts to a DOJ "order," it may not be enough to stop what The Advancement Project estimated in its May 17 letter to Herren [PDF] could ultimately produce an illegal purge of as many as 180,000 otherwise eligible voters based on a flawed, eleventh hour pre-election effort to match voter rolls against the FL driver's license data base.
After receiving the letter from the DOJ, Florida Dept. of State Spokesperson Chris Cates said they intended to continue with their purge anyway. "Bottom line is," Cates told Think Progress, "we are firmly committed to doing the right thing and preventing ineligible voters from being able to cast a ballot."
The purge has already ensnared U.S. citizens like Bill Internicola, the 91-year old, Brooklyn-born, World War II veteran and Bronze Star recipient who fought in the Battle of the Bulge and Archibald Bowyer, another 91-year old WWII vet who has been citizen since the age of 2, and who received his letter from the state warning he would be purged just as his wife had died.
To halt the purge, groups like the ACLU and the DOJ may need to initiate a federal lawsuit in which they seek yet another preliminary injunction, like the one issued late Thursday by U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Hinkle in League of Women Voters v. Browning [PDF]. That ruling, as we reported on Thursday, spoke to a different aspect of this year's GOP voter suppression effort in FL. Hinkle's ruling ordered an official federal injunction on the draconian restrictions imposed on voter registration workers by the FL GOP, which had earlier led to groups like the League of Women Voters of Florida being forced to cancel their voter registration drives for the first time in some 70 years.
Florida has until June 6th to official respond to the U.S. Dept. of Justice.
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Video of Democracy Now segment on the DOJ's response to the FL purge follows...
As I'm on the road and largely off the grid this week, I was about to post the following video from last night's Rachel Maddow Show, thanking her for covering so much of what we've been covering here at The BRAD BLOG, for so long, in one nice long top-of-show segment.
I'm still going to do that, but below that, I'm happy to post a press release just sent out by the non-partisan Brennan Center for Justice at NYU, breaking the news that a federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction blocking the "key provisions of a restrictive voting law in Florida today." The Brennan Center describes the ruling as "a breakthrough victory for Florida voters and voting rights advocates nationwide."
The new law, H.B. 1355, had included onerous criminal restrictions on third-party voter registration workers. The new rules were so onerous, in fact, that the League of Women Voters of Florida was forced to call off their registration drive in the state for the first time in 70 years. In the wake of the FL GOP's new law, high school teachers had been charged with crimes for registering their own students to vote, and a registration worker had received a threatening letter from the Sec. of State for turning in voter registrations one hour late after a holiday weekend.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert L. Hinkle blocked most of the FL law's new registration requirements today, finding they accomplished little more than suppressing the registration of new voters without serving any legitimate state interest. "If the goal is to discourage voter-registration drives and thus also to make it harder for new voters to register, this may work," wrote Hinkle in his frequently scathing decision [PDF].
The Brennan Center quotes from Hinkle's ruling this way: "Together speech and voting are constitutional rights of special significance; they are the rights most protective of all others, joined in this respect by the ability to vindicate one's rights in a federal court. … [W]hen a plaintiff loses an opportunity to register a voter, the opportunity is gone forever ... And allowing responsible organizations to conduct voter-registration drives --- thus making it easier for citizens to register and vote --- promotes democracy."
See the Brennan Center's full release today posted below. It's very good news, as once again another law passed by the GOP with the intention of nothing more than suppressing the vote of largely Democratic-leaning voters is found to be in violation of the Constitution and/or federal law, as has been the case with almost every single one of these GOP-passed laws over the past year --- at least when someone (too often not the U.S. Dept. of Justice, unfortunately) bothers to go to court to challenge them.
Yesterday, at Rolling Stone, Ari Berman had calculated that some 35,000 Florida voters stand to be purged this year if the Republicans' new voter suppression efforts there are carried out in full.
As to Rachel Maddow last night, here's some of the very important coverage she offered at the top of the show, including details on the state of Florida's current effort to purge thousands of legal voters from the rolls by claiming, inaccurately, that they are non-citizens. (NOTE: That effort is a separate voter suppression measure by Republicans in the state of Florida, and is not related to today's federal court ruling blocking the earlier voter suppression measure by Republicans in the state of Florida)...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: The deepest well ever dug; Cyber-attacks on the US natgas pipeline industry; Romney makes big promises to Big Oil; RFK Jr. fights Big Coal in Portland; Schizo Fox 'News' now says lower gas prices are a bad thing; PLUS: It's official: the last 12 months were the hottest on record in the US .... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Oil spill in Antarctica; VT poised to be first state to outlaw fracking; CBO: Boosting Oil Production Won’t Protect From Gasoline Price Shocks; Clean-Energy Requirements Targeted by ALEC, Norquist; Innovation: Inertial Seawave Energy Generator; Asian carp electric barrier loses power; Makers of flame retardants manipulate research findings; Anti-Wind Group Colludes on Fake Grassroots 'Subversion' Campaign ... PLUS: Flipping the Switch: First Solar Plant on Public Lands Now Delivering Power... and much, MUCH more! ...
Last week, The BRAD BLOG's legal analyst Ernest Canning reported on the lawsuit filed by the League of Women Voters, the NAACP and the ACLU in Pennsylvania, together with the Homeless Advocacy Project and the Advancement Project, against the state Republicans' new polling place Photo ID restriction passed into law in March.
The law, unless it's blocked, is set to make it much harder, if not impossible for many previously-legal student, elderly, minority and urban dwelling voters to cast their vote this November.
Canning predicts, however, that, like a similar GOP law in Wisconsin this year, and one in Missouri back in 2006, the new attempt to remove voting rights will be found in violation of the fundamental right to vote guaranteed under Pennsylvania's state Constitution. We'll see if he's correct.
In the meantime, the lawsuit, Applewhite vs Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [PDF] names 11 plaintiffs, the majority of whom have tried to get a birth certificate in order to then obtain their so-called "free" ID to vote from the state under the new law --- only to be told there is no record of their births. Several of those plaintiffs, not surprisingly, were born in the Jim Crow south and are now facing the forces of disenfranchisement again under the GOP law this year even up in the Keystone State in 2012.
Last week, MSNBC's Al Sharpton interviewed the lead plaintiff in the complaint, 92-year old Viviette Applewhite who marched for civil rights alongside Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Georgia, and who has been voting in Presidential elections without a problem for more than 50 years. She has never had a driver's license and, though she says she paid a fee for a birth certificate from the state, she has never received it.
Despite the fact that state officials have been unable to produce evidence of in-person, polling place impersonation --- the only type of voter fraud that could possibly be deterred by polling place Photo ID laws --- Republicans seem more than happy to disenfranchise long-time voters like Applewhite and potentially tens of thousands of others this year.
Applewhite says she believes it's all little more than an effort to stop President Obama from being re-elected, and she fears there are far more people than many realize who will be disenfranchised this year unless the law is overturned.
"Looks like most of the people in my building, they're senior citizens, but they don't have the proper thing to vote with," she says near the end of the interview, "and it's going to be a whole lotta people that's not going to be able to vote"...
Judith Browne Dianis, civil rights litigator at the Advancement Project also appears in the interview above and correctly notes: "This is not about preventing fraud, it's about preventing voting."
She is supported in that contention, ironically enough, by PA's Republican Governor Tom Corbett, seen in a clip above exhorting his supporters to help him keep turnout below 50% during his recent election. Moreever, just after Corbett signed the GOP's voter suppression bill in March, he lied to the media by claiming that it was needed since Pennsylvanians had seen 112% voter turnout in some precincts. Longtime election watchdog Marybeth Kuznick of VotePA, however, told us the Governor's claim was "ludicrous."
For more on the plaintiffs in the PA complaint who are facing disenfranchisement for the first time in their lives --- folks like 59-year old Wilola Shinholster Lee, 72-year old Grover Freeland, 86-year old Dorothy Barksdale and 93-year old Bea Booker --- and why Ernie Canning predicts the new legal challenge will be successful in the Keystone State, see his report from last week right here.
Another story in Maddow's otherwise excellent report, however, is the one about the 86-year old WWII Vet in Ohio who was unable to vote on a normal ballot Tuesday, because his Veteran's ID didn't have his address on it. According to the The Plain Dealer's coverage:
“My beef is that I had to pay a driver to take me up there because I don’t walk so well and have to use this cane and now I can’t even vote,” said Paul Carroll, 86, who has lived in Aurora nearly 40 years, running his own business, Carroll Tire, until 1975.
“I had to stop driving, but I got the photo ID from the Veterans Affairs instead, just a month or so ago. You would think that would count for something. I went to war for this country, but now I can’t vote in this country.”
It's a horrible story, but on this one, Maddow appears to have been in slight error in her coverage...