Brad takes on a bunch of lies this week that just won't die this week -- from e-cigs to Ann Coulter's voter fraud to 'global cooling' to the death penalty to marriage equality in Mississippi and more...
Anonymous Blogger Offers Evidence-Free Claim That 'Left-Wing Activist' Academics and SoS Brunner 'Cooked Up' Report Results Showing All Buckeye State E-Voting Systems Vulnerable to Failure, Fraud, Easy Tampering...
Shamelessly (an inaccurately) writing on the Ohio Republican Party's blogsite, an unnamed writer posted the following opening to a critique of the $1.9 million bi-partisan study [strikethrough included in the original]:
Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner found some left-wing activists academics to issue an expensive taxpayer-funded "study" criticizing Ohio's election system.
"Left-wing activists"? Incredible. And wrong. And slimy enough on its own --- never mind the rest of the blog item, which gets even worse, as posted by an unnamed election terrorist from the Ohio GOP --- to merit an immediate apology and retraction by the Ohio Republican party, along with the outing and firing of whoever the official was who wrote it...
As we were expecting today’s news is dominated with news from Ohio and the results of Secretary of State Brunner’s review of voting systems used in that state. There are also reports from Cuyahoga Co. regarding the push by Brunner for that county to immediately change over to ES&S central-count optical scan machines and voting centers to replace the county’s polling places. In light of the fact that the state’s primary election is March 4 and state law requires early voting to begin 35 days prior to March 4 Brunner is asking the county to completely change voting systems and vendors and to train voters and poll workers in less than three months and to have ballots printed by ES&S five weeks from now. This is very unwise. As bad as elections have been in Cuyahoga Co this push from the Secretary will only make things worse. We urge the county to conduct the primary on what they have now then change during the 7 months between the primary and the general election....
Try not to laugh. But here's Diebold's response to the new study from the state of Ohio showing their crappy, untested, inaccurate, unsecure voting machines --- and those made by their equally duplicitous friends at ES&S and Hart Intercivic --- to be extremely vulnerable to tampering with the use of household items as simple as a magnet or a personal digital assistant.
As if to continue pushing their bad luck with yet another dare, the Diebold statement says, "It is important to note that there has not been a single documented case of a successful attack against an electronic voting system, in Ohio or anywhere in the United States."
Okay, guys. This is getting exhausted (and just plain sad), but be careful what you wish for.
"Even as we continue to strengthen the security features of our voting systems," Diebold/Premier writes, "that reality should not be lost in the discussion."
"Continue" to "strengthen"? (Supply own joke here)
Yet, the company who is so proud of their work that they changed their name from Diebold to Premier for no other reason beyond the fact that the horrible, corrupt and fraudulent work of their voting division has disgraced the parent company, says "Premier has performed a host of modifications and enhancements to its software to further strengthen system security. Our new suite of products is expected to soon complete the yearlong federal certification process, and will be available for installation in 2008."
Goody. We'll buy a new supply of magnets right away.
Finally, and without evidence, they add: "We should also not lose sight of the very real improvements in voting accuracy that have been achieved with the deployment of modern touch screen systems."
Really? Where's the evidence for that? Unfortunately, Diebold is not alone in making that specious claim...
Today Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner released the results of her EVEREST (Evaluation & Validation of Election-Related Equipment, Standards & Testing) report. There is a lot of interesting reading for the technical types and for the non-technical among us. Brunner has, with input from a bi-partisan group of county elections people, recommended that changes be made before next years elections; no DREs, no Precinct-Based Optical Scan, hand-marked paper ballots to be counted on Central-Count Optical Scan except for the use of Ballot Marking Devices for voters with disabilities, early voting up to 15 days, and voting centers. One has to hope that if all of the counting is going to take place on CCOS machines that no vendors will be involved in that counting and that the counting be open to the public. One pleasant surprise was that Brunner went farther than the rumors said she would go. Not only did she release her “Executive Summary” but the technical reports were released at the same time. Thank you for that openness, Secretary Brunner....
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 results of new, unprecedented testing of e-voting machines in the state of Ohio are in, and the findings mirror the landmark results of a similar test carried out earlier this year in California.
"Ohio's electronic voting systems have 'critical security failures' which could impact the integrity of elections in the Buckeye State," says Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner in a statement which accompanied the release of the report today on the SoS' website. Brunner, a Democrat, was joined in her press conference (video now here), called today to discuss the results of the testing, by Ohio's Republican House Speaker, Jon Husted.
Brunner is calling for a ban on all Direct Recording Electronic (DRE, usually touch-screen) voting systems in the state, along with a ban on precinct-based optical-scan paper based systems, charging that the central counting of ballots at the county would eliminate "points of entry creating unnecessary voting system risk."
The State's bi-partisan "Evaluation & Validation of Election-Related Equipment, Standards & Testing" (EVEREST) report finds, as did California's study, as did virtually every other independent test of such systems, that violating the security and manipulating the "federal approved" electronic voting systems, is a breeze.
"To put it in every-day terms," Brunner said, "the tools needed to compromise an accurate vote count could be as simple as tampering with the paper audit trail connector or using a magnet and a personal digital assistant."
"The results underscore the need for a fundamental change in the structure of Ohio’s election system to ensure ballot and voting system security while still making voting convenient and accessible to all Ohio voters," said Brunner, who has come under fire from Election Integrity advocates for failing to act quickly enough concerning the voting systems to be used in next year's crucial election, as well as for failing to seek accountability for the exceedingly well-documented and now-infamous charges of election fraud and voter suppression in the 2004 Presidential election under her predecessor J. Kenneth Blackwell.
While the effort is long overdue in Ohio, actions being taken by Brunner, in light of the test results, are less stringent than those taken by California Secretary of State Debra Bowen after tests in her state. Brunner's recommendations, some of them quite puzzling, are likely to come under some fire in the bargain, from Election Integrity advocates in Ohio and elsewhere...
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.
The final installment of "Bush League Justice" on MSNBC Live with Dan Abrams deals with the controversial prosecution of former Democratic Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. Evidence suggests that Siegelman, who remains in prison, was wrongly prosecuted by prominent Alabama Republicans with the help of Karl Rove.
For starters, two prominent Republicans, Senator Jeff Sessions and Judge William Pryor Jr., were also named by the chief witness against Siegelman but were never even investigated. Further, a Republican lawyer working for Siegelman's political opponent has sworn under oath that he overheard key Republicans on Governor Riley's team discussing the case. He quotes one operative as saying:
"Not to worry, that he had already gotten it worked out with Karl, and Karl had spoken to the Department of Justice."
After a brief introduction, Rep. Artur Davis (D-AL) and Harper's Scott Horton join Abrams for an in depth discussion about the case.
Prior to the 2000 general election thousands of otherwise eligible voters were scrubbed from the rolls in Florida. In 2002 the Help America Vote Act was signed into law. One of the issues that law was to help with was to clear up the voter registration issues such as what happened in 2000. That law required centralization of voter registrations at the state level and not, as previously, at the county. Now, in Florida again, voters have had to go to court in order to get put back on the voter rolls. Little things like missing hyphens, common in Hispanic surnames or Haitian first names, are enough to have a person’s registration denied. ...
The Reno Gazette Journal reports on Rep. Dennis Kucinich's (D-OH) announcement that he intends to file Articles of Impeachment very shortly against George W. Bush...
"On the way over here, I was reading a 50-page document that relates to Articles of Impeachment for the President of the United States," Kucinich said to a standing ovation. "And I want you to know that I'm actually preparing this document for submission to the House."
The BRAD BLOG can confirm recent efforts by Kucinich's office to prepare such a document. We cannot yet confirm when it will be filed in the U.S. House, but we're told it may be quite soon.
In the meantime, Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) demonstrated that he understands both the U.S. Constitution and American politics, by offering this lesson to his fellow Democrats at a speech last week in Florida. (RAW STORY has the short video):
"The way we pass stem-cell research, the way we get implemented a children's health care plan, the way we get higher CAFE [corporate average fuel economy] standards to bring our energy debacle into a better condition for generations to come is to have impeachment hearings," Wexler said, appearing to nearly run out breath at one point during his speech. "Because that'll get the president's eye. That'll get the vice president's eye. That for the first time will show that the Democratic majority is here, and that in fact we have the courage of our convictions, and that we're not bound to be tied by conventional wisdom."
Wexler said that impeachment hearings weren't just an option available to Congress, but a requirement.
"This administration has abused its power in office...and it is the obligation --- not discretionary --- but it is the obligation of this Congress to investigate," he said. "And that's what I and some of my colleagues are beginning to call for."
"If we want to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power, we need to become more popular. If we want to avoid a traumatic split between Sunnis and Shiites that endangers further our national security, we need to become more popular...If we want to engage with the Chinese in a more beneficial way, we need to become more popular."
"Let me tell you one more thing those impeachment hearings will do," he concluded. "It'll make America more popular."
"I urge the Judiciary Committee to schedule impeachment hearings immediately and not let this issue languish as it has over the last six months," Wexler stated at the time. "Only through hearings can we begin to correct the abuses of Dick Cheney and the Bush Administration; and, if it is determined in these hearings that Vice President Cheney has committed High Crimes and Misdemeanors, he should be impeached and removed from office."
Two high-ranking Republicans, Arlen Specter (PA) and Chuck Grassley (IA), joined the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee today by voting in favor of holding both Karl Rove and former White House Chief of Staff, Joshua Bolten in Contempt of Congress.
The committee recommendation, which was passed by a 12-7 vote, now goes to Majority Leader Harry Reid who may, or may not, join House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in failing to hold a full floor vote on the recommendation. Pelosi has held a recommendation from the House Judiciary Committee, finding both Bolten and former White House attorney Harriet Miers in contempt, since July.
The White House, which we all know is well above the law, continued their bullying of the Democrats who are likely to shrink in fear at the intimidation.
"They should be fully aware of the futility of pressing ahead on this," AP reports White House spokesman Tony Fratto as saying. "It has long been understood that, in circumstances like these, that the constitutional prerogatives of the president would make it a futile and purely political act for Congress to refer contempt citations to U.S. attorneys."
"I vote for the contempt citations knowing that it's highly likely to be a meaningless act," Specter said. "In this context we have no alternative."
Paul Kiel at TPM Muck speculates: "Perhaps the Senate and House will team up and schedule both votes before the New Year, sending the White House contempt citations against Rove, Miers, and Bolten as a Christmas gift. Or maybe nothing will happen."
Take your time, kids. Those in contempt have said they won't allow you to carry out your duty in holding them in contempt anyway, so why make so much unpleasantness just before the holidays?
What's your guess on when/if Reid/Pelosi will schedule such votes?
By law, the U.S. government is barred from propagandizing within the country. While that hasn't necessarily stopped them before, the Bush Administration has raised the art to a science. As well, they've reportedly been doing so out of Gitmo, perhaps a tacit acknowledgment that the practice is illegal under U.S. law, but hey, they're not in the U.S. when they do it from there, right? At least, that's what their legal department has long maintained in support of suspension of habeas corpus, human rights and long-held treaty agreements in relation to the detention of whoever they damn-well wish to hold without charges down there.
So they've been "vandalizing Wikipedia" and news sites across the web, according to a recent report at Wikileaks, which also offers the evidence...
WASHINGTON--The US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay has been caught conducting covert propaganda attacks on the internet. The attacks, exposed this week in a report by the government transparency group Wikileaks, include deleting detainee ID numbers from Wikipedia last month, the systematic posting of unattributed "self praise" comments on news organization web sites in response to negative press, boosting pro-Guantanamo stories on the internet news site Digg and even modifying Fidel Castro's encyclopedia article to describe the Cuban president as "an admitted transexual" [sic].
Anybody doubt these same guys are working to post their propaganda in comments at websites like...oh, The BRAD BLOG for example? We're sure the Bush DoJ will get right on it.
The third installment of "Bush League Justice" on MSNBC Live with Dan Abrams continued last night with an investigation into how the DoJ has targeted Democrats for investigation and prosecution. In fact, one study shows that Democrats have been investigated and prosecuted at nearly six times the rate of Republicans at the federal level. According to the study's author, the statistical possibility of this happening by chance is 1 in 10,000. Studies show that prosecutions on the state level are fairly even between Democrats and Republicans.
This is hardly surprising since the DoJ tracked which attorney's "Exhibited loyalty to the President and Attorney General" and which were members of the ultra-conservative Federalist Society.
Evaluating attorneys based on whether they were "loyal Bushies", according to former U.S. Attorney and current Senator, Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), is "disgraceful".
Also "troubling" to Abrams is the timing of investigations and prosecutions which often occurred right before elections, in violation of the DoJ's own procedures manual. When the Bushies were eventually caught doing so, they simply changed the manual.
It was almost three years ago that The BRAD BLOG first spotted the conspiracy long-range business plan being fronted for the Republicans by GOP con-man/operative Mark F. "Thor" Hearne II. The scheme became immediately transparent, to those who wished to see it, when his brand-spanking new "voting rights" group scam, calling themselves the "American Center for Voting Rights" (ACVR), popped up at a phony Congressional hearing on the 2004 Election, in March of 2005, as chaired by the now-jailed felon from Ohio, Rep. Bob Ney (R-Abramoff).
Hearne had identified himself at the hearing only as "a longtime advocate of voter rights and an attorney experienced in election law," conveniently omitting that he had been the very partisan national general counsel for Bush/Cheney '04 Inc. and had founded the "non-partisan" ACVR with his "non-partisan" partner, Jim Dyke, who had previously been the communication director for the RNC. (Shortly thereafter, the "non-partisan" Dyke went on to work for the "non-partisan" Dick Cheney at the White House, and now fronts for the "non-partisan" Rudy Giuliani.)
We spent a good portion of the ensuing three years with our hair on fire, trying to wave red flags about the transparent scheme/propaganda that Hearne was selling: Phonied up data on a non-existent "epidemic" of "Democratic Voter Fraud" in order to force restrictive Photo ID laws at the polling place, meant only to keep millions of largely Democratic-leaning minority and elderly voters from being able to cast a legal vote at all.
But the mission had been accomplished, and the foothold the Republican scammers needed had already been established, with laws such as Indiana's Photo ID restriction that is now headed towards a hearing in the Supreme Court. The results of the decision could well help determine the outcome of the 2008 elections.
UPDATE: Alternet's Steve Rosenfeld picks up on this precise issue today, reporting on how the rightwing "ballot security" operatives are arguing to the Supreme Court in favor of pre-emptive voter challenges at the poll, without the necessity of having to show that any such voter fraud is actually occurring. As well, they are building their legal case on the idea that "fear of" voter fraud is enough to demand such onerous ID requirements, even though it is the same "right-wing activists who spent years creating and publicizing a myth of widespread voter fraud," who are now making the case that "perception of potentially corrupted elections is yet another reason why states should be allowed to police the voting process with new restrictions such as voter ID laws." These wingnut zealot bullshit artists are the best in the business. If you consider "best" to be most evil and "business" to be our frickin' American democracy.
Despite Hearne's claims, made earlier this year to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, that The BRAD BLOG made it impossible for him to run his scam without public/media notice, the huckster is still at it. He's just filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case, on behalf of 41 GOP Congress members.
You didn't think he'd just slither back under his rock and stay there, did you?...
It looks like counties in Southern California like to hire election officials who have failed in their jobs elsewhere. Michael Vu, the Cuyahoga Co Ohio election director who was run out of the state ended up as the number two in the San Diego Co election office. Now Los Angeles Co has named Dean Logan, who failed miserably while the elections director in King Co Washington (Seattle) as their interim elections director to replace Connie McCormack who was run out of Texas years ago.
California counties who have the AutoMark A200 machines have been told by the state that they can now use those machines. The lawsuit against ES&S will continue.
More bad news for ES&S as San Francisco is changing vendors to Sequoia Voting Systems. ...