w/ Brad & Desi
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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...
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...
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There are two important late Friday announcements from the newly revived, post-Bush Voting Unit at U.S. Dept. of Justice's Civil Rights Division this afternoon. In both cases, they've raised serious concerns about discrimination by Republican Presidential front-runner Rick Perry's Texas against Hispanic and African-American voters.
Given the Lone Star State's history of discrimination against racial minorities, new laws and regulations which relate to elections and voting must be pre-cleared by the Dept. of Justice before they can be put into effect, as per Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act.
In one finding, the DoJ sees purposeful discrimination against minorities in the state's redistricting plans [PDF] for apportioning both new statehouse districts, as well as four new U.S. House seats being added in the wake of the 2010 census. The new seats are being added due to an increase in the TX population, thanks in no small part, ironically enough, to huge growth in the state's Hispanic population. The DoJ finds the proposed statehouse plan violates Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, stating that it "was adopted, at least in part, for the purpose of diminishing the ability of citizens of the United States, on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group, to elect their preferred candidates of choice to the Texas House of Representatives."
The TX plan for the U.S. House didn't fare much better (see below), with similar findings that minorities are likely to see a "retrogressive effect" in their ability "to elect their preferred candidates of choice to the United States House of Representatives" under Perry's approved scheme.
Moreover, in a letter that echoes questions recently sent by the DoJ to the state of South Carolina about their new polling place Photo ID restrictions, as The BRAD BLOG detailed earlier this month, the DoJ has a series of questions concerning Texas' new, very similar restrictions. As the law mirrors the one in South Carolina --- and in many of the other states where the GOP has been able to ram through similar voter suppression bills over the past year --- many of the questions from the DoJ to TX also ask about the their plans for notification about the law, and issuance of free IDs to the more than 600,000 otherwise-legally qualified voters who don't currently own state-issued ID that would meet the strict new requirements to cast a vote at the polls on Election Day.
In TX, the DoJ voting unit is curious about how many of those residents who don't have such IDs also happen to have Spanish surnames...
Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
A nearly two-hour hearing in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights earlier this month (full video available here), carefully examined the partisan, multi-state effort by the billionaire Koch brothers-funded, Paul Weyrich co-founded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)-fueled GOP effort to enact new state voting laws across the country.
The coordinated, nationwide GOP voter suppression effort was aptly described by Judith Browne Dianis, a civil rights litigator at The Advancement Project, and a witness in the second three-member panel, as "the largest legislative effort to roll back voting rights since the post-Reconstruction era."
"Our country has not seen such widespread attempts to disenfranchise voters as we have seen this year in more than a century. Inclusive democracy is under attack," she testified, while Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) described the "brazen" GOP attempts to undermine the right to vote.
Subcommittee Chair and Senate Majority Whip, Dick Durbin (D-IL) broke the new state voting laws into three major categories, and the discussions of each are worth covering here over two different articles. In Part 1 here, we'll cover the first category: Polling place Photo ID laws restricting the ability of lawfully registered voters to cast their ballot on Election Day. The hearing produced several remarkable face-offs, including between Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and long-time GOP "voter fraud" front man Hans von Spakovsky (cue James Bond villain music), as detailed below.
In Part 2, we will cover the discussion of the other two categories at the hearing --- draconian new restrictions on voter registration, and laws which significantly reduce early voting periods --- plus a very troubling event that "reactionaries" have planned for the 2012 election, according to Dianis' testimony [UPDATE: Part 2 is now posted here]...
Short of the serious concerns about election integrity in her race that Ernie Canning highlighted over the weekend, if Massachusetts' Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren continues to be as effective as she is in this video over the next year, she blows her opponent, Republican Sen. Scott Brown (the favored candidate of Wall Street, receiving more money from hedge funds and venture capital firms than any other Senator), out of the water next November...
Other Dems running in 2012 would be wise to watch, and learn, from what Warren --- a political novice and, so far, original --- is doing here.
As WaPo's Greg Sargent (who pointed us towards this video) notes:
But as this video shows, Warren is very good at making the case for progressive economics in simple, down-to-earth terms. Despite her professorial background, she sounds like she’s telling a story. She came across as unapologetic and authorative [sic], without a hint of the sort of defensiveness you hear so often from other Democrats when they talk about issues involving taxation and economic fairness. This is exactly what national Dems like about Warren.
Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
"One of the great questions of our time is whether the American people, through Congress, will control the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street, or whether Wall Street will continue to wreak havoc on our economy and the lives of working families."
– Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) 9/16/11
Sanders' question is indeed one of the "great" ones for our time. But, as Yoda said, "there is another."
If there was ever a candidate perfectly suited to expose the lie that is to be found in the pseudo-populism of the mega-billionaire Koch brothers funded and controlled 'Tea Party' that helped Scott Brown (R-MA) secure a reported upset win in the 2010 special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the death of the late Edward "Ted" Kennedy (D-MA), it would be Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat.
The brilliant, straight-talking Harvard Law Professor and special adviser appointed by President Barack Obama to oversee the development of a new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), whose interview with Michael Moore for Capitalism: A Love Story (see video below) established her to be the same thorn in the side of Wall Street's financial "products" that Ralph Nader was to GM when he exposed the Corvair in Unsafe at Any Speed, announced last week that she is a 2012 candidate for the U.S. Senate seat now occupied by a GOP Senator who has turned to Wall Street, in a big way, for financial support.
There is little question but that Warren's brilliance, eloquence, and sincerity will come into play during the ensuing campaign. But while Warren plants her flag in the fight for oversight, transparency, and accountability for our financial system, will she (and other candidates) come to understand the importance of oversight, transparency, and accountability for our electoral system before it's too late? Before yet another election --- like the one which brought Brown to the Senate in the first place --- is decided under a cloud of unverified results reported by easily-hacked, oft-failed, optical-scan voting systems such as those made by Diebold and programmed by a company with a criminal background in the great commonwealth of Massachusetts?...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Record U.S. heat --- again; Pakistan floods and pipelines explode --- again; Arctic sea ice hits record low --- again; Cargill ground turkey recalled --- again; PLUS: Fake 'reporter' Matthew Boyle at fake 'news' site Daily Caller offers fake 'news' story on EPA, as Republicans and their fossil fuel friends open full court press against Richard Nixon's clean air and water agency --- again and again and again ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Coral reefs 'will be gone by end of the century'; Sorry, breathers: Obama's cave on EPA ozone regs strictly political; Australia PM introduces controversial carbon laws; Prince Charles warns of human extinction due to climate change; Drought leaves over 12 mln people short of drinking water in SW China; Bush Admin advanced Solyndra loan guarantee; China’s new plan for solar power supremacy; What If solar received the same subsidies as fossil fuel?; The coming German energy turnaround; Explosion at French nuclear plant kills one; Tons of US-supplied nuclear weapons material missing; 5 interesting facts on our energy-hog economy; The Onion on Climate Change: an issue this critical demands at least 45 seconds of real, concentrated panic; Al Gore's 24-Hour global broadcast on climate change science ... PLUS: Switching from coal to natural gas could accelerate climate change, say scientists ...
Were you too busy last week to keep up with Part 1 and Part 2 of our blockbuster Mother Jones exclusives on the Koch Brothers' super secret (until now) Summer Seminar near Vail., Colorado, and the extraordinary audio we obtained and released, as recording inside of it?
If so, here's your chance to get caught up in one fell swoop!
I've been doing a lot of media interviews this week in support of the stories, all of them quite good. But the conversation with my friend, the great Peter B. Collins, is likely the most definitive, as we had a full, commercial-free hour, to discuss both parts of the story, play a bunch of clips from the "secret" speeches of Charles Koch, David Koch, NJ Gov. Chris Christie and Fox's Judge Andrew Napolitano, as well as discuss the background context and what it all means as we move forward into 2012.
Get caught up on all the key points of the "Secret Koch Tapes" stories by giving the PBC interview a listen over at his joint, or below...
Download MP3 or listen online here...
Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
(With additional reporting and snark by Brad Friedman)
Maine's GOP Chairman, Charlie Webster, displayed a remarkable level of ignorance about the right of college students to register and vote in the Pine Tree State during a recent appearance on local radio, weeks after virtually everyone in the state has been trying to explain to him that he is off his nut.
Earlier this summer, Webster raised eyebrows (and more than a few laughs) when he brought the names of some 200 out-of-state college students to the ME Secretary of State, seeking an investigation for "voter fraud."
"I am convinced that my research proves that [voter] fraud is a problem, and I’ve only found the tip of the iceberg," Webster said during a press conference at the State House at the time, though he shared no evidence of any of the students having voted twice, or otherwise having illegally registered.
Webster's "research" began after a petition effort was launched seeking a "voter veto" ballot initiative to reverse a law recently passed by the Republican-led state legislature ending the state's 38-year-old practice of allowing for same-day voter registration. The new Maine law is just one of many new voter suppression efforts enacted by the GOP under the wholly unsupported guise of combating "voter fraud" in states across the nation over the past several months since the GOP took over many statehouses in the 2010 election.
The state's GOP chair has apparently never heard the old axiom about once you're in a hole, stop digging...
A few quick follow-up items, for now, in advance of tomorrow morning's Part 2, from Part 1 of my exclusive secret Koch tapes scoop at Mother Jones this morning which went very viral, very quickly today, as I figured it probably would.
• As I noted in UPDATE to my short stub story this morning linking over to the MoJo article, the Kochs finally decided to respond today, first to Jake Tapper at ABC News, after days of their refusing to give me a response --- even though I pressed them, multiple times in advance, for an explanation of Charles Koch's seeming comparison of "Saddam Hussein" to Barack Obama and the 2012 election as the "Mother of All Wars." See their response, and my response to it, in that UPDATE.
• CNN's Brian Todd did a decent report on the Situation Room today, in which I offer a quick comment...
• After years of appearing on Fox "News" and CNN, it was nice to finally be invited today to appear on MSNBC for the first time. Here's my appearance this evening on The Ed Show...
And just a few more quick points for now...
Those of you who follow The BRAD BLOG closely may know that I've been working in the background, for a number of weeks, on an exclusive series concerning the billionaire Koch Brothers, the co-owners of the nation's second largest private corporation, the oil and chemical conglomerate Koch Industries. They are also massive funders behind much of the Rightwing political disinformation machine. The articles, as I can now reveal, cover audio I've obtained as recorded from inside their super-secret, super-confidential, invitation-only Summer Seminar held in late June at the tony Ritz-Carlton Beaver Creek Resort near Vail, CO (seen above).
Among this year's attendees, in addition to hundreds of corporate baron billionaires and millionaires, were GOP public officials such as current Republican Presidential front-runner Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), Gov. Bob McDonnell (R-VA) and Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL).
It appears the brothers went to extraordinary measures, particularly on the first night of the event, to assure that none of the uninvited would ever know what went on inside or even who the first night's keynote speaker actually was.
Nonetheless, a few of their closely guarded secrets are about to spill out.
The first of my two articles in the series is finally published at Mother Jones today.
Part 1 focuses on the opening and closing remarks, as heard on tape, by billionaire brother Charles as he raises still more undisclosed political money and rallies his troops in advance of the 2012 Presidential election --- or "the mother of all wars" as he's heard describing it. On the first night, Charles welcomes his "great partners" to the event, alludes to President Obama as "Saddam Hussein" and proceeds to list --- by name --- those "partners" who have donated more than a million dollars to the Koch Foundation political causes over the past year. So much for the post-Citizens United "anonymity" that Koch exec Kevin Gentry, the emcee for both evening's dinners, informs patrons they can "help protect."
The full audio and text transcript of Charles' opening and closing remarks are posted here.
Today's article also details remarks, several rather noteworthy I think, made by the Kochs' closing night speaker, Judge Andrew Napolitano of Fox "News." The Fox host tells the crowd of corporate titans, among other things: how he got his job at Fox (it had to do with the FL 2000 Presidential election debacle, he claims); how he "sometimes" gets in "a little bit of trouble at Fox" when he's too tough on Republicans, and; what he believes the Second Amendment to the Constitution is really for. You'll have to read the article and/or the Napolitano transcript excerpts for the full details.
Finally, today's report at Mother Jones describes some of the extraordinary security measures taken by the Kochs to try and ensure that nobody outside the dinner pavilion at the Beaver Creek Resort in Bachelor Gulch would ever know the identity of the GOP public official who delivered the keynote address on opening night. To this day, neither the official's own constituents nor his own local media seem to have any idea that he'd ever even left the state to pal around with the Kochs, much less offer their opening night's headline address.
In tomorrow's report, we'll reveal the identity of that headliner and detail his stem-winder of a keynote! But for now...
• Part 1 of my exclusive report at Mother Jones...
• Complete audio & transcripts of Charles Koch's opening & closing remarks...
• Transcript excerpts from Judge Andrew Napolitano's closing night speech...
UPDATE 3:56pm PT: Has been a busy day over her for some reason. CNN's just aired a not-bad story on the above (including a quick appearance by yours truly), and I'll be on MSNBC's The Ed Show tonight, late in the 10p ET / 7p PT hour. Ironically, I've been on Fox and CNN many times in the past. This will be my first appearance ever on MSNBC. Go figure.
After trying for days to get comment from the Koch's on Charles' "We have Saddam Hussein, this is the Mother of All Wars we've got in the next 18 months" remark, they've finally decided to respond now that the story is out and not, um, reflecting very well on them, it seems...
Guest editorial by Ernest A. Canning
While Brad Friedman recently exposed Matthew Vadum to be but the latest in a long line of fraudulent right-wing propagandists who flat-out lie about "voter fraud" as part of the billionaire-funded assault on the right of the those who would be inclined to vote against the GOP, no one could have done more to demolish Vadum's credibility than Matthew Vadum.
"Why are left-wing activist groups so keen on registering the poor to vote?," asks Vadum in the latest of his series of wingnut welfare op-eds/commercials for his laughable new anti-ACORN book:
Registering them to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals
Encouraging those who burden society to participate in elections isn't about helping the poor. It's about helping the poor to help themselves to others' money.
In claiming that the poor are but a "burden" on society and that registering the poor to vote is "like handing out burglary tools to criminals," who seek "to help themselves to others money," Vadum not only advanced long-discredited hard-right ideological beliefs but revealed the abhorrence that the billionaire class and its paid-for propagandists have for democracy, itself...
Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
In an Aug. 29, 2011 letter, T. Christian Herren, Jr., Chief of the Obama DOJ's Civil Rights Division, not only demanded that South Carolina, within 60 days, provide additional information about its recently enacted polling place photo ID restriction law, but stated that if SC failed to provide a timely "response...the [U.S.] Attorney General may object to the proposed changes consistent with the burden of proof placed upon the submitting authority."
Herren noted that SC has the "burden of demonstrating" that the new polling place photo ID law was neither enacted "for a discriminatory purpose nor will have a retrogressive effect."
SC's Republican Attorney General, Alan Wilson, in an apparent recognition that pre-clearance is likely to be denied, told those in attendance at a GOP fundraiser that he had "no faith" that the DOJ "will do the right thing." He vowed to litigate the matter "up to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary."
As The BRAD BLOG previously reported, on Aug. 5 the ACLU submitted a 15-page letter to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) seeking a denial of pre-clearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of South Carolina’s polling place photo ID restriction law. The letter argues that proponents’ unsubstantiated claims of "voter fraud" were but a pretext for unlawful discrimination and that statistics suggest that the new law would operate as an illegal poll tax, especially for the disproportionate number of African Americans who live below the federal poverty level in the state.
Last Friday, SC's Senate Democrats weighed in as well, asking the DOJ to deny pre-clearance for what they contend is the nation's harshest polling place ID restrictions, which could potentially disenfranchise, for example, someone whose driver's license has been suspended.
While denial of pre-clearance due to the retrogressive effect of photo ID restrictions in SC would be a positive step, it will not serve to protect democracy and the sanctity of the vote in other jurisdictions not subject to pre-clearance under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
As described by John Nichols in The Nation (see video below), and again by Ari Berman in Rolling Stone --- as we detailed yesterday --- state-after-state across the nation has come under a well-coordinated assault by the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and GOP legislators bent on rigging electoral outcome as part of their war on the middle class...
I was joined today by The Nation's Ari Berman on my KPFK/Pacifica Radio show to discuss his new article today in Rolling Stone on "The GOP War on Voting". See my report on his article from earlier in the day right here.
This was an important discussion about an important article about one of the most important issues to directly effect the outcome of virtually every election in the nation in 2012. None of that, apparently, given what the rest of the MSM decided to cover today, is any where near as important as whether John Boehner will allow the President to speak to a joint session of Congress on Sept 7th or or whether it'll have to be on Sept 8th, and whether Christine O'Donnell or Sarah Palin will appear at a "Tea Party" event this weekend in Iowa.
And you wonder why we're in the mess we're in.
My conversation on "The GOP War on Voting" with Ari Berman today follows...
Download MP3 or listen online here [appx 27 mins]...
[NOTE: Ari Berman, author of the article discussed below, joined me on my KPFK/Pacifica Radio show today. That interview is now posted here. - BF]
While readers of The BRAD BLOG may be familiar with many of the items covered in Ari Berman's fine new article "The GOP War on Voting" at Rolling Stone today (and in its Sept 15, 2011 issue on newsstands), it's great to have a summary of all of the latest state-based assaults on voting rights instituted to date, in the wake of last year's Republican wave election, all in one place.
Berman covers all of these and more in his piece on the "unprecedented, centrally coordinated campaign to suppress the elements of the Democratic vote that elected Barack Obama in 2008," described by one civil rights advocate as "the most significant setback to voting rights in this country in a century"...
Guest editorial by Ernest A. Canning
The League of Women Voters in Wisconsin announced it will file a lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court charging that the Badger State's newly-enacted polling place photo ID restriction law violates the state's Constitution.
From a strictly legal perspective, the decision by the League's attorney Lester Pines to challenge the new photo ID law pursuant to the state's Constitution is significant.
Under Equal Protection analysis, any impartial jurist would readily understand that the statute does not meet the heightened scrutiny that accompanies the fact that, under the WI Constitution, voting is deemed a "fundamental right."
While certain exclusions are allowed in the Constitution, such as laws which exclude felons or those whom the state deems "mentally incompetent," the language explicitly notes that "every United States citizen age 18 or older who is a resident" of Wisconsin may cast a vote.
But therein lies the rub. Absent the removal of Justice David Prosser in connection with the allegations that he choked Justice Ann Walsh-Bradley, as is currently being investigated by a special prosecutor, the League's constitutional challenge will run smack dab into a WI Supreme Court that sports a 4-3 majority of partisan ideologues in robes...
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