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...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Ominous start to summer fire season; Watch out for hot air in a newly uncovered anti-wind propaganda campaign; The Saudi Arabia of Oil wants to become the Saudi Arabia of Solar; PLUS: House Republicans working to block advanced biofuels for the U.S. military ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Public willing to pay for more green energy, but not nuclear; Why utilities are afraid of solar (hint: the competition); Arctic Ocean itself yet another global warming feedback loop; New GA nuclear reactors now $900m over-bduget; Germany 's rooftop solar strategy reduces electric bills 40% nationwide; Heartland Institute grows isolated as donors exit; NREL scientist: we must phase out natural gas; Arguing with deniers like Monty Python 'Argument' sketch: scientist ... PLUS: Death on Earth: how the world's wildlife is vanishing ... and much, MUCH more! ...
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?...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: The deepest well ever dug; Cyber-attacks on the US natgas pipeline industry; Romney makes big promises to Big Oil; RFK Jr. fights Big Coal in Portland; Schizo Fox 'News' now says lower gas prices are a bad thing; PLUS: It's official: the last 12 months were the hottest on record in the US .... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Oil spill in Antarctica; VT poised to be first state to outlaw fracking; CBO: Boosting Oil Production Won’t Protect From Gasoline Price Shocks; Clean-Energy Requirements Targeted by ALEC, Norquist; Innovation: Inertial Seawave Energy Generator; Asian carp electric barrier loses power; Makers of flame retardants manipulate research findings; Anti-Wind Group Colludes on Fake Grassroots 'Subversion' Campaign ... PLUS: Flipping the Switch: First Solar Plant on Public Lands Now Delivering Power... and much, MUCH more! ...
Ever wonder what the much much prettier half of the Green News Report actually looks like? Today's your lucky day! The lovely Desi Doyen, my co-host and the Managing Editor of the GNR sat in to guest host The Young Turks with Ana Kasparian this afternoon.
They covered a bunch of green issues, as expected, plus everything from Nazis in Florida, to the DoD and The Avengers, and even a move to stop "Praying the Gay Away" out here in California.
A few of the video clips from today's show --- the ones The Turks have posted online so far tonight --- are now posted below the fold. Enjoy!...
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.
Pretty big news here. Barack Obama has finally decided to do the right thing by standing up for marriage equality directly. While it took long enough, he now has the distinction of being the first President in the history of the U.S. to do so. This is also another reminder that politicians don't lead, they follow. You lead. So keep up the good work!
Getting ready for my KPFK/Pacifica Show today, so no time for more commentary at the moment. Here's ABC, who broke the news within the hour. Here's TPM's take. And here's the video clip of the President this afternoon acknowledging: "I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married"...
The key section from ABC's transcript...
I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married.
Rights will always win. It takes time. But they will always, eventually win.
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Billionaire codger cage match: T. Boone Pickens picks on the Billionaire Koch Brothers; U.S. military prepares for climate change; Japan: nuke-free, but not worry free; Dino-Farts! PLUS: Billboard blowback - funders flee from Heartland Institute's Unabomber billboard blunder .... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Flipping the Switch on Solar Plant on Public Lands; Common Pesticide “Disturbs” the Brains of Children; Data Shows Spring Advancing Faster Than Experiments Suggest; Keystone pipeline is baaack; Carmakers standardize 15-min faster charging system for electric vehicles ... PLUS: What is going on with Peru's dolphins and pelicans?... and much, MUCH more! ...
While Sendak is best known for Where the Wild Things Are, a seminal book, at least for my childhood, his wicked sense of humor does not appear to have dimmed over his 83 years, as evidenced in this recent, laugh-out-loud two-part conversation with Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report...
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...
In what must certainly be the most offensive and absurd mainstream attack on climate science to date, the corporate-funded extremist group Heartland Institute is now comparing climate scientists and journalists who report on their work to mass murderers such as Osama Bin Laden, Ted "The Unabomber" Kaczynski and Charles Manson.
Yes, the sociopathic liars and serial propagandists at the rightwing Heartland Institute are comparing those who believe in science to sociopathic terrorists and serial killers. And they aren't just doing it in off-the-radar fundraising emails to supporters, they're doing it in an expensive and public billboard campaign on the streets of Chicago which the UK's Guardian describes today as "possibly one of the most ill-judged poster campaigns in the history of ill-judged poster campaigns"...
But it's not "ill-judged" at all. This is what Heartland does. And that's why it's so remarkable that while corporations such as AT&T and GM have ceased funding the extremist Rightwing "think tank" recently, after internal documents revealed they were attempting to force climate denial misinformation into school textbooks, companies such as Microsoft and State Farm and (much less surprisingly) the Koch brothers and the rest of the fossil fuel industry continue to fund their efforts.
But it's not just scientists who this group condemns as mass murderers, journalists and "liberal politicians" are, apparently, also right up there with Charlie Manson, in the eyes --- and words --- of the Heartland Institute...