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...
John McCain's election strategists plan to tone down the Republicans' traditionally aggressive and public campaign against potential voter fraud, several Republicans familiar with the situation say.
The strategists and consultants all would speak only on the condition that their names and affiliations not be used because they were not permitted to divulge the information, they did not want to disclose internal deliberations, and because the issue is still being discussed within the party.
Sources with direct knowledge of the coordinated Republican effort this year say that high-ranking Republicans, including some within McCain's campaign, are convinced that GOP efforts in 2004 were damaging.
"Spreading 10,000 lawyers around the country and announcing a challenge to 40,000 new registrants in Ohio was counterproductive," a Republican familiar with the situation said.
And if you believe the GOP has any intention of scaling back any such thing in 2008, we've got a swell bridge, beautifully located near Manhattan, to sell ya.
But just to drive home the point that we're equal opportunity disbelievers, there's this old standby from the Obama camp, later in the article...
Posting has been light as I've been on the road over the last several days due to a family event up here in the Great Pacific Northwest. In the bargain, I'm trying to sneak in some much needed off-the-grid time between now and the July 4th holiday. No doubt, however, I'll be showing up here from time to time when I just can't help myself.
Our friend Jon Ponder of Pensito Review and others will continue jumping in as they have been over the last several days, and as their time allows.
But for now, a quick heads up: I'll be appearing live and in-studio from Portland tomorrow (Thursday) with the nationally syndicated and far-far Rightwinger Lars Larson. I've done his show several times, and a good rumble between him and me is usually in the offing. (He's appearing, as I type this, tonight on Campell Brown's CNN show, coincidentally, trying to smash up Obama on the desperate premise that he's "arrogant.")
Last time I was up in Portland, he and I went mano-a-mano live in-studio for two hours (the last hour of his local show, and the first hour of his nationally syndicated show), prompting David Edwards, who guest blogged my appearance for The BRAD BLOG that day, in late 2005, to write:
During the course of the show, Lars' tone seems to change from mature discussion to outright brawling anger. At one point during the second hour, Lars may have been briefly channeling the venomous Bill O'Reilly.
The contentious audio from that appearance is back here, if you're interested.
We'll see what tomorrow brings, but I hope you'll tune in, call in, or whatever ya can --- not that I don't love taking on Lars' usual wingnut callers!
I'll be on his local Oregon/Washington show tomorrow (Thursday) at 2:30pm PT (call-in#: 866-HEY-LARS) and the nationally syndicated show beginning at 3:00pm PT (866-509-LARS). You can listen live here, if his show is not broadcast in your local area.
And no matter what happens, I'm happy to go on the record right now to say that Larson scores big points for having folks like me --- who strongly disagree with just about everything he has to say --- on his show. Wish one could say the same for cowards like O'Reilly, Hannity, Rush, et al., but oh well.
So, Kudos to Lars in advance. We'll see how I feel about him tomorrow Either way, looking forward to it! You'll let me know how I did, as usual!
POST-SHOW UPDATE: Old Lars was obsessed with the SCOTUS decision today lifting the ban on handguns in D.C.. So that, despite my own personal interests in stuff that actually matters (versus grist for cynical political divisiveness) is what we talked about, for what seemed to be the bulk of the show. It was his house after all, and I appreciate his generosity in welcoming me to it. We did get a few other things in here and there however.
I was on for the full final hour of his local show, and the first half-hour of his national broadcast. With commercials and news removed (courtesy of LarsLarson.com) the audio archive is just 50 minutes. Download the MP3 or listen online below...
This is a good opportunity for us to remind all of our subscribers that voter registrations and voter registration data bases have been a huge problem during the primary elections. There is no reason to believe that they will not be a huge problem in November. One of the only ways to ensure a voter is registered is for that voter to check their registration. We recommend every voter check now and then check again just before the voter’s state registration closes before November. You can find out the date that your state is closing registration and who to check to ensure your registration is still HERE:...
Today’s featured article comes from Colorado but it could just as easily come from many states in the nation. The article discusses the changes that are being made in election technology; changes to the good. There will be more paper ballots and less touch-screens used in the coming Nov. election when compared to the last couple national elections. The state Senate Majority Leader is quoted as saying this about the election integrity community, “I believe the group has gotten larger. It's become more mainstream and people are paying more attention to them. They are an entity that's at the table and has a voice that is listened to”. Meanwhile the Secretary of State told the newspaper, “"I think they have a fundamental belief that anything electronic, as it relates to voting, is evil and undermines our political system. They live in a world of conspiracy theories and are highly motivated. No matter what I do, so long as it leaves some form of electronic voting intact, it will be wrong by their standards”. I’ll leave it to the reader to make up their mind who is correct....
Today we begin something new; a “Featured Article”. Whenever there is an article that we feel is a must read, we will list that article at the top of the list of articles.
Today’s “Featured Article” is about John Gardner, the ex-Colorado SoS’s voting systems expert. The ‘expert’ who had little to no IT experience and who admitted in court that he was not qualified to hold the job. The man who kept his job even after his court admission and who led the testing of the state’s voting systems for present SoS Mick Coffman. It seems clear from this article that the voters in Colorado need to be very concerned about the voting machines they may be using in Nov....
Recently in this space I reported that a report from the Ohio SoS to the Governor and Legislature glossed over the fact that, among other issues, four of eleven counties who did hand-count audits found discrepancies and had to change the results of their certified elections based on the audit results. Three of those counties were DRE counties and the vvpat paper tapes were the source of the hand-count. Why was there a difference in the count of the vvpats as compared to the count of the machines? If the vvpats cannot be hand-counted accurately then why are some satisfied that DREs with a vvpat are good enough? If the vvpat count was accurate then why are some satisfied with the use of DREs that are flawed? ...
Guest blogged by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review.
Drilling off the coast of California, Florida and elsewhere would increase domestic oil production by 7 percent by 2030, according to the Energy Information Administration. But “because oil prices are determined on the international market…any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.” There is no short-term benefit to drilling, says the EIA, because it would take at least five years for oil production to begin. (Source:Center for American Progress.)
On the other hand, in a single step tomorrow --- closing the Enron Loophole --- Congress and George Bush could create an overnight drop in oil prices of between 25 and 50 percent. This is according to testimony before a Senate Committee two weeks ago by Michael Greenberger, the former director of Trading & Markets for the Commodities Future Trading Commission (CFTC), the government board that oversees commodities markets.
"Yes," Greenberger testified, "overnight [closing the Enron Loophole] will bring down the price of crude oil to get at least a 25 percent drop in the cost of oil and a corresponding drop in the cost of gasoline. Some people estimate 50 percent."
Greenberger's testimony was brought to light by an investigation into the Enron Loophole by Keith Olbermann on MSNBC's "Countdown" last week. (A transcript of Olbermann's report follows.)
The Enron Loophole is the nickname for a provision written into the Commodity Futures Modernization Act (CFMA) of 2000 that was drafted by lobbyists for Enron and inserted in the bill by then Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Texas) that deregulated an aspect of the market Enron sought to exploit with its "Enron On-Line" trading program, the first Internet-based commodities transaction system. Phil Gramm is now a key economic adviser for the John McCain campaign.
While it was a technical success, Enron On-Line was based on a flawed business model that drained corporate revenues --- even while the company was manipulating the rates consumers paid for electricity in California. Enron On-Line eventually drove the company into bankruptcy, and the cooking of the books to hide its losses led to charges of conspiracy and fraud against Enron executives.
The Republicans' sudden rollout of the campaign to lift the ban on offshore drilling is really meant to shift the blame from Bush and the GOP to the Democrats and their opposition to offshore drilling. To their credit, they have done a masterful job --- and all it has cost them is the credibility of Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who broke tradition in the state and came out in favor of lifting the ban. (It has also cost whatever meager credibility Crist's predecessor, Jeb Bush, had left. Bush opposed lifting the ban when he was in office but came out wholeheartedly in favor of it this weekend.)
Here's the transcript of the video of the report on the June 18 edition of "Countdown":
A New Jersey judge today reversed her opinion and ruled that computer experts who will be inspecting the state’s Sequoia voting machines can release the results of their research to the voting public. The inspection will begin immediately and probably not wrap up until late September and the results can then be released.
Richard Hayes Phillips new book, “Witness to a Crime: A Citizens’ Audit of an American Election” nearly never made it to press. The original publisher, even though there was a signed contract, suddenly decided to suppress the book and not publish it. Phillips, being dogged, found a local printer and book binder and did his own typesetting in order to get the book out to the public. This book is a primer on the many and varied ways of analyzing election results and for that it is valuable....
We're fairly certain the following video, shown at the recent TX GOP convention (where they were selling racist Obama buttons, incidentally), isn't meant as a joke. It just plays that way, for those of us who happen to live on Planet Earth...
Between this and some of McCain's ads, and the lack of actual issues for Republicans to run on this year, perhaps the plan this year is to out macho the Democrats. It's all they've got, perhaps. Even if it comes across kinda gay. But maybe that's just us...
'Welcome to Judiciary Committee's First Book of the Month Club Meeting,' Snarks Ranking Member, Comparing Former Press Sec to Judas, During Oversight Hearing Concerning First-Ever Outing of Covert CIA Operative by an American White House
The testimony was interrupted by House floor votes shortly after it began, but not before opening statements from Chairman John Conyers (D-MI), ranking member Lamar Smith (R-TX), and Scott McClellan himself (text here), as well as a single round of questions from Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Howard Coble (R-NC).
Not surprisingly, the Dems were respectful to the former WH Press Secretary, and even Coble was restrained and decent-ish in his first set of questions on behalf of the Republicans, following Smith's predictable attempts to try and smear McClellan and his publisher (as little more than operatives of the evil evil master overlord of all things not-Republican: George Soros).
Smith's opening statement --- characterized as "character assassination" which "has no place in this committee," as Nadler described it --- likely portends what's to come from the bulk of the Republicans should the hearings ever get re-started this morning.
In the meantime, McClellan, to his credit, again has refused to back off of his claims even one iota. As legendary "Pentagon Papers" whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg wrote to us recently, following McClellan's recent Fox "News" appearance, in which he stood up to bully boy Bill O'Reilly, "he sounded to me as though he had ACQUIRED, even if belatedly, the instincts of a whistleblower (and he's paying the usual social price for that with respect to all his old colleagues, though compensated by royalties)."
With all of that in mind, Smith's opening statement (video now posted at left, text posted below), described the hearing as "the Judiciary Committees first book of the month club meeting" before proceeding to plug Ann Coulter's book. He then accused McClellan of "selling out the president and his friends for a few pieces of silver." It was something to behold, and demonstrated (yet again) just how far these guys are willing to go to protect the Administration (versus offering oversight, as required by the Constitution) when they need to.
Remember, this hearing has to do with an administration, for the first time in the history of this nation, having revealed the identity of a covert CIA operative...and one who was monitoring WMD traffic in the Middle East, of all things.
The text of Smith's complete opening statement follows in full...
Updating a story The BRAD BLOG reported on Monday, the Texas Republican Party has now moved to distance itself from a vendor who sold buttons at the party's state convention that bore a racist message about Barack Obama: "If Obama is president ... will we still call it The White House?"
According to The Conservative Voice, the Texas GOP says it will donate $1,500 in rent paid by the button's vendor, Republicanmarket.com, to victims of the flooding in the Midwest.
Said Texas GOP spokesman Hans Klingle, "This vendor need not apply to another Texas GOP state convention. We will neither tolerate nor profit from bigotry."
How "conservative" is the Texas GOP? The Conservative Voice notes that in "1998, the Log Cabin Republicans, the nation's largest organization of gay Republicans, was denied a booth at the GOP state convention in Fort Worth and likened to the Ku Klux Klan by a Texas Republican Party spokesman. 'We don't allow pedophiles, transvestites or cross-dressers, either,' then-GOP spokesman Robert Black said at the time."
The fact that the Texas GOP has shifted to the left on an issue like this backs up assertions by Arianna Huffington and others that liberal positions are increasingly becoming mainstream.
Want a Diebold DRE? Ballot box? Tamper proof seal? Smart card? Well, Diebold is holding a “Red Hot Summer Sale” and everything must go.
I want to go back to my comments in yesterday’s DVN about the ETC and their report. Prior to the EAC taking over voting system testing and certification from the National Association of State Election Directors the vendors had a direct line to the volunteers who approved and qualified the testing of the voting systems. The vendors wined and dined election officials at gatherings of Secretaries of State, State Election Directors, and the Election Center. They had a close relationship with those who reviewed testing and made the decisions as to whether voting systems should be qualified; and they always were. No wonder voting systems fail with regularity. Now the vendors have lost the ability to influence the system and they don’t like it at all. The jury is still out but our voting systems have to be better for all of the scrutiny they are getting before certification. It’s time to give the vendors a hanky to dry their tears. ...
I live about 100 yards from West Hollywood City Hall so when the first marriage licenses were issued to gay people there on Tuesday, it was a big day for news helicopters overhead. I, of course, watched the festivities as reported by CNN's Thelma Gutierrez, via satellite feed to Atlanta, routed back to me 3,000 miles across the country by cable. What a whacky world.
Thelma was not alone. According to WeHo News, our local online-only newspaper, media outlets on the scene also included Tokyo Broadcasting Corporation, the British Broadcasting Corporation, Wall Street Journal, NY Times, and the Washington Post.
Here's how WeHo News described the first minutes of the gold-ring rush:
There is good news for the campaign of Barack Obama in polls from states that are traditionally keys to winning the general election. However, it is too soon to tell if the upticks are indicators of a trend toward Obama or simply "bumps" resulting from his finally clinching the Democratic nomination from Hillary Clinton.
Quinnipiac Polls in Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania released Wednesday indicate that Barack Obama leads John McCain in all three battleground states...