After an amazingly encouraging week or two, we head into the July 4th weekend with a whole bunch of stuff we've been trying to clear off our desk. Plus: Lots of breaking news and an encouraging ending for the weekend...
We covered the subject of wealth acquisition by the likes of Charles Koch and Mitt Romney in "Wealth vs. Democracy and the 2012 Presidential Campaign" --- "outsourcing, manipulations of the financial markets, of government and our laws" --- not as character flaws but as variants of the behaviors one can anticipate from their class.
As we approach the Fall campaign, we can anticipate a propaganda blitz that is based on variations of a line from the song "If I Were a Rich Man" of Fiddler on the Roof --- "When you're rich, they think you really know."
No doubt we will hear, time and again, that Mitt "Gordon Gekko" Romney's wealth acquisition is a testament to his business savvy that will equate to jobs creation. Against that backdrop is this short video (below) in which Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, provides a succinct rebuttal to the jobs scam canard...
New paper ballot optical-scan computer tabulator systems used to tally millions of votes in New York --- as well as "swing states" such as Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin --- do not tally votes correctly. That stunning admission comes courtesy of a new report released by the private company which manufactures, sells, services and programs the systems which are now believed to have mistallied tens of thousands of ballots in New York in 2010.
The votes of more than ten million voters could be affected by a newly revealed failure in the voting systems set for use in those four states in this year's Presidential election, and in more than 50 different jurisdictions in Wisconsin during next month's historic recall elections.
Election Systems & Software, Inc. (ES&S), the largest e-voting machine company in the U.S. and the maker of the paper ballot op-scan tally systems in question, have confirmed that their systems may overheat when used over several hours (for example, during an election!), and that they then may mistally and/or incorrectly discard anywhere from 30% to 70% of votes scanned by the machines.
The only way to know that a hand-marked paper ballot had been mistallied by the system would be to examine the ballots by hand to assure that the computer had read and recorded the voters' selections correctly.
The New York Daily News editorial board --- which has been persistently forcing the issue on state Election Officials who initially ignored massive mistallies discovered in the South Bronx during the state's 2010 election --- reports on ES&S' confirmation of the latest failure in a story headlined "We told you so: Newfangled voting machine screwed up". Their article today begins this way...
You know those new electronic vote-scanning machines that are supposed to be foolproof in reading and counting every ballot in an election? Well, they're anything but foolproof.
In fact, they can screw up voter tallies to a fare-thee-well even after technicians carefully calibrate and test them.
So state and city election officials have discovered, along with the machine's manufacturer, thanks to insistent prodding by this page.
Earlier this year, the newspaper discovered --- through public records requests for the paper ballots in a single precinct in the South Bronx --- that the ES&S model DS200 op-scan system had failed to count some 70% of paper ballots correctly in the 2010 primary election. In that November's general election, some 54% of the ballots were mistallied at the same precinct.
The result, as confirmed by ES&S, tens of thousands of perfectly valid votes may have gone uncounted, while thousands of "phantom votes" in races that voters hadn't intended to vote in at all were counted as valid votes.
The Daily News characterizes the initial response by election officials in NY, after the paper had discovered the massive failures, as "a statement of severe psychological denial."
All of the above likely sounds very familiar to long-time readers of The BRAD BLOG, where we are considering changing the name of our news site to "We Told You So: Newfangled Voting Machines Screw Up," as a tip of the hat to the NY Daily News, and to better reflect a great deal of our nearly 10 years worth of content here.
Unfortunately, the latest example of secret vote-tallying computers made by private companies failing to accurate tally our once-public elections, is not only affecting New York. Moreover, the failure isn't isolated to the ES&S model DS200 paper ballot optical-scan system. As we've reported here for years, and on a number of recent occasions over just the past few months, similar failures have been discovered in other states and on other similarly designed paper ballot optical-scan systems.
If you think that simply because you are not forced to vote on a 100% unverifiable touch-screen voting machine that your ballot will be counted and counted accurately this year, think again...
Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker has insisted, publicly and consistently, since the incredibly contentious introduction and eventual passage of his "Budget Repair" legislation early last year, that the need to remove collective-bargaining rights from public sector union workers was necessary only for balancing his state's alleged budgetary woes. It had absolutely nothing to do with breaking the unions, he said time and again, only with balancing the budget.
He maintained as much, even long after the public unions in question had agreed, as they did almost immediately, to concessions in pensions and benefits that would have closed the budget gap Walker pretended to be concerned about.
Opponents, in turn, had long charged that Walker's divisive legislation --- in the birthplace of public sector unions, nonetheless --- was about breaking the back of the unions on behalf of his corporate benefactors.
On Thursday night, video-taped evidence was made public supporting his opponents' contentions that the "Budget Repair" bill was about little more than breaking the unions. In the video, the Governor is seen, just before introducing the legislation in January of last year, speaking with local billionaire Diane Hendricks --- who eventually gave more money to Walker than any politician has ever received from one person in the state.
He is seen discussing his plan to "divide and conquer" public employee unions as part of his budget bill, in response to her direct questions about whether Wisconsin would ever be "completely red" and become a so-called "Right to Work" state. He went on to discuss his admiration for Indiana's Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels who, he said, was able to do away with unions "through executive order."
Walker laments that he is forced to do it legislatively in the Badger State, "So I need lawmakers to vote on it. But the key is by tying it to the budget," he says.
The conversation is seen in a new film by documentary filmmaker Brad Lichtenstein whose film, As Goes Janesville, is set to be released later this year on HBO. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Walker's opponent in next month's recall election, has already used part of the bombshell video in the following campaign ad...
Good news for democracy. Bad news for the GOP deceivers and the billionaire sociopaths, like the Koch brothers, who fund them. Missouri's courts have shown that their state's nickname, "The Show-Me State," is apropos.
In Weinschenk v. State (2006), the MO Supreme Court struck down a GOP-enacted polling place photo ID law because it violated the Equal Protection clause of the MO Constitution which treats voting as a "fundamental right." It recognized a compelling governmental interest in preventing voter fraud, but observed that "the Photo-ID Requirement is intended to prevent only impersonation of a registered voter and will not affect absentee ballot or registration fraud."
As the GOP could not muster evidence of in-person impersonation, they failed to establish that their 2006 Photo ID law was narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling governmental interest. The Court, in Weinschenk, based on the facts presented, also determined that the 2006 GOP Photo ID law operated as an unconstitutional poll tax, thereby violating the 24th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
But since when have Republicans hell-bent on undermining our system of electoral democracy let a few negative court rulings or fundamental Constitutional rights stand in their way?...
Then I was joined by Sacramento, CA Registrar of Voters Jill Lavine to discuss the thousands of fraudulent voter registration forms turned in by the GOP-hired firmed Momentum Political Services, as we detailed late last week. Lavine tells me that she's confident that in her nine years as Registrar, there has been no in-person impersonation at the polling place, despite the continuing pattern of GOP voter registration fraud in the state and the Republican push to disenfranchise (largely Democratic) voters by claiming, disingenuously, that polling place Photo ID restrictions have anything to do with "voter fraud".
We then enjoyed a quick visit with the lovely Desi Doyen from the Green News Report, fresh off her guest-hosting gig this afternoon on The Young Turks (I'll try to post that video soon!)
Finally, since it's called The BradCast, I was joined by Brad Jacobson to discuss his terrifying new report at Alternet on the "ticking time-bomb" that is the precarious Spent Fuel Pool --- now fully exposed, 100 feet off the ground in a listing building --- at Fukushima Daiichi's reactor #4. His report should scare the hell out of you. It certainly does me. And the scariest part: It's being covered by virtually nobody in the mainstream corporate media. I guess that's what The BradCast is for.
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.
You're unlikely to hear a peep about this on Fox "News" (unless they happen to have me on), but the California Secretary of State's Election Fraud Division is now reportedly investigating a firm hired by the Sacramento County Republican Party said to have submitted thousands of fraudulent voter registration forms.
According to a report today from Sacramento ABC affiliate News10 [see video posted below], a private, for-profit firm calling itself Momentum Political Services, hired by the local Republican Party "to boost GOP registration ranks in key battleground communities" has turned in more than 3,100 invalid voter registration cards during their recent drive.
[UPDATE 5/7/12: According to Sacramento Bee's 5/5/12 report, the number of bad registration forms is much higher than 3,100. The paper reports that since September, out of some 31,000 cards turned in by Momentum Political Services, "at least one-fourth of them have been thrown out because of inaccuracies," according to the Sacramento Registrar of Voters. That puts the questionable registrations from the GOP's company at more than 7,500.]
Voter registration forms have allegedly been turned in with fake addresses, voter names that don't exist, duplicate Social Security numbers, and party affiliations that seem to have been changed "by someone" to Republican. The head of the firm has admitted she has hired workers with criminal backgrounds, as found via Craigslist.
The charges of serial voter registration fraud sound very similar to those leveled in 2008 against another outfit hired by the California State GOP to register Republican voters before that year's Presidential election. In that case, the head of the firm was arrested, and eventually pleaded guilty to voter registration charges himself.
In 2006, another firm hired by the CA Republican Party turned in thousands of registration forms with fake names and an error rate as high as 60 percent. And in 2004, a firm hired by the GOP was investigated in a number of states for shredding Democratic voter registrations and tossing them into dumpsters. Despite those allegations, the same folks were later hired by the McCain/Palin campaign in 2008 to run voter registration drives before the Presidential election.
Of course, you probably haven't heard of any of those stories, even while you've heard plenty about a handful of ACORN workers --- no actual ACORN officials, mind you, and they were never hired by the Democratic Party, and never led to a fraudulent vote --- turning in fraudulent registration forms in past years.
But nobody who ever worked for the non-profit ACORN has ever been accused of what these Republican firms continue to do on behalf of the Republican officials who hire them, paying them per Republican registration, year after year, as is once again apparent in the allegations surfacing today against Momentum Political Services...
92-year old Viviette Applewhite, 59-year old Wilola Shinholster Lee, 72-year old Grover Freeland, 86-year old Dorothy Barksdale and 93-year old Bea Booker are just a few of the Pennsylvania residents and long-time legal voters now fighting to retain their right to vote under the state GOP's new polling place Photo ID restrictions, according to a new lawsuit filed this week in the Keystone State.
The complaint goes on to argue that "there are countless other Pennsylvanians like them [some 80-90,000 according to the state's own data], who will lose the most cherished of all rights, the right to vote, unless the Photo ID Law is declared unconstitutional."
There is now, indeed, a very good chance that the law will, in fact, be declared unconstitutional according to The BRAD BLOG's analysis of the complaint, the state constitution and prior rulings in similar cases.
PA is just the latest of more than a dozen states over the past year where Republican-controlled legislatures and executive mansions have instituted voter disenfranchising polling place Photo ID restrictions. Governor Tom Corbett signed his state's bill into law in March, and promptly lied about his reasons for supporting the removal of voting rights for those lacking Photo ID on Election Day, claiming, without evidence, that some precincts in the state had 112% voter turnout in recent elections. As we reported at the time, that charge was dismissed as "ludicrous" and without evidence by a longtime state election integrity expert.
Nonetheless, "Act 18" has become the law of the land in Pennsylvania, for now, and, unless successfully challenged, will require that voters present a state-issued Photo ID when voting at the polling place in this year's November Presidential election for the very first time.
For the identical reasons that The BRAD BLOG accurately predicted that the League of Women Voters' legal challenge to a polling place Photo ID restriction law under similar provisions of the Wisconsin's Constitution would prevail (absent a political intervention from the Badger State's extraordinarily partisan Supreme Court), we also predict that new legal challenge filed this week in PA, attempting to block the state's draconian polling place Photo ID law, will similarly succeed...
Former Republican U.S. Senate candidate and 'Tea Party' favorite Joe Miller is no stranger to flawed election processes in Alaska. The BRAD BLOG strongly supported Miller's attempt to receive a hand-count of questionable results in his 2010 race against Democrat Scott McAdams and victorious Republican write-in candidate Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
We've been in touch with Miller ourselves, both during his own election contest, offering advice on how his campaign might achieve oversight of the results that were tallied only by Diebold optical-scan computers (either accurately or inaccurately, who knows?), and at various times in the months that followed. Last September, Miller linked from his own website, to our exclusive on the findings by Argonne National Laboratory that Diebold systems can by hacked by remote control with little more than an 8th grade computer science education and about $10 to $25 in electronic parts.
Now the frequently far Right politician is ringing in on the recent election disaster in Anchorage, which we detailed here last month, after a ballot proposition to extend anti-discrimination measures to the LGBT community was set to win by big margins according to a conservative pollster [PDF] just before the election, but ended up "losing", according to the Diebold op-scan systems, by an even greater margin for reasons which still remain a mystery...
There have been a few pieces of noteworthy news out of Wisconsin over the last few days in advance of their recall election primaries on May 8th (one week from Tuesday) and the recall general elections on June 5th. Some is largely positive for fans of democracy, but some of it, however, is both puzzling and a bit disturbing.
In the upcoming contests, Republican Gov. Scott Walker, his Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and the seats of four Republican state Senators will all face a referendum by the citizenry at the ballot box. The historic elections come more than a year after the GOP took over all branches of state government during the 2010 wave election before proceeding to release the Kraken spark a popular uprising through the tyranny of Big Government removal of a number of citizen rights --- such as collective-bargaining and voting --- along with the heavy-handed implementation of a number of other extreme Rightwing policies.
Here's are several of those late developments --- not concerning the horse races, but concerning the actual track conditions for those races...
[Now UPDATED with audio archives from tonight's show below!]
Mike's got the night off, so we're back in tonight guest-hosting the nationally-syndicated Mike Malloy Show on your public airwaves, on the Internet (streaming links below) and on SiriusXM ch. 127!
As usual, we'll be BradCasting, LIVE from 9pm-Mid ET (6p-9p PT), coast-to-coast and around the globe from L.A.'s KTLK am1150 in beautiful downtown Burbank. Join us by tuning in, chatting in, Tweeting in and calling in! Our LIVE chat room will be up and rolling right here at The BRAD BLOG, as usual, while we are on the air. Please stop by and join the fun while you're listening! (The Chat Room will open at the bottom of this item a few minutes before airtime, see down below, just above "Comments" section.)
"If we play Russian Roulette with the Supreme Court," Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) said during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, "if we confirm a nominee who has not demonstrated a commitment to core constitutional values, we jeopardize our rights as individuals and the future of our nation."
"We cannot undo such a mistake at the next election or even in the next generation," he warned. Too bad more of his Democratic colleagues failed to listen.
With four of the nine Supreme Court Justices now in their seventies, and the GOP Senate minority having bottled-up the Obama administration's nominations to the federal trial and intermediate appellate courts, the decision by the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, to select Robert Bork (see video below), founder of the ultra-radical, right-wing billionaire-funded Federalist Society as his chief legal adviser has turned the 2012 Presidential election into a new, and far more serious game of "Russian Roulette" --- one that would give the same forces that were behind the Bush v. Gore judicial coup and the infamous Citizens United decision a super majority on the Supreme Court.
The harm to the rule of law that would accompany the expansion from four
Supreme Court radicals in robes to seven could not be remedied, as Kennedy warned, by "the next election or even in the next generation"...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Just a flesh wound? UK smacked by extreme weather whiplash; Sec. Chu talks sexy, sexy energy efficiency; 'Agent Orange Corn'? Dow Chemical says 'Yes, please!'; PLUS: Slow-jamming the news? How about slow-walking climate change? .... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): ExxonMobil profits: $109M a day on America's pocketbook; Wind Tax Credit Stalls in Congress despite bipartisan support; U.S. mad cow find: lucky break or triumph of science?; Cheap, stable, printable liquid solar cells developed; Warm Spring May Mean Drought, Wildfires in West; Warm Ocean Currents Eroding Antarctic Ice Shelves; Coal's Future Is Rocky at Best; On Chernobyl's anniversary, Ukraine warns against nuclear power... PLUS: Donald Trump on 'Monstrous Wind' ... and much, MUCH more! ...
Today on KPFK/Pacifica Radio's The BradCast I interviewed Joyce Block (seen at right), the 90-year old Doylestown, PA resident who has voted legally for 70 years, without fail and without a problem until this year, when the GOP's new polling place Photo ID restriction law threatens to disenfranchise her and so many others like her.
Her story is all the more remarkable considering she was born just two years after the 19th Amendment was ratified, giving women the right to vote --- at least until now. She is a pistol and more than ready for the fight! We were also joined by her grandson-in-law Det Ansinn, the Doylestown Borough Council president who has been working like hell to try and see that Block will be able to vote this year.
Earlier this week, I wrote about Block's remarkable story and the difficulty she's had in receiving one of the so-called "free" IDs, under the new restriction, that would allow her to vote this year, despite all of the paper work she presented to prove that she was who she said she was after a 30 minute-trip to the DMV (thanks to Ansinn!) Today, we got an update on her story, and it includes a bit of good news...sort of.
We were also joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report, and some good callers, including one who wanted to challenge me on gun rights. So I obliged him...
Oh, neato. Remember that recent disastrous Anchorage, Alaska election I told you about, during which voters were turned away all across the city because not enough ballots were distributed, and where the Deputy Municipal Clerk Jacqueline Duke, responsible for ballot and voting machine distribution, admitted to me that she had told poll workers not to worry if they found voting machine security seals broken on the morning of the election?
Aside from Prop 5, a ballot measure which would have extended anti-discrimination protection to the LGBT community --- which a pre-election poll predicted would win by 9 points (before the Diebold computer tabulators reported that it lost by 16 points) --- Anchorage's Mayor Dan Sullivan was also on the ballot that day.
Unlike Prop 5, however, the anti-Prop 5 mayor reportedly won, according to the Diebold op-scan tabulators, by almost the same exact margin that the same pre-election poll had predicted he would.
And, whaddaya know? There's Mayor Sullivan himself, in the photo above, seen celebrating on St. Patrick's Day with none other than his old employee [PDF] turned Anchorage Deputy Municipal Clerk Jacqueline Duke! (She's the one on the right.)
Neat, eh? I wonder why, according to a source of Alaska radio host, blogger and election integrity advocate Shannyn Moore, Duke scrubbed that photo from her Facebook page recently. I tried to find out and get confirmation, but Duke didn't respond to the email I sent to the address she gave me when we spoke. As a matter of fact, according to The Mudflats' Linda Kellen Biegel, who tried to ask Duke a question at a recent Election Commission meeting called to investigate the continuing mess, the Deputy Municipal Clerk is no longer allowed to speak to anyone in the media.