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Latest Featured Reports | Wednesday, December 11, 2019
USMCA, UK Elections, Much More: 'BradCast' 12/11/19
Guest host Nicole Sandler with Global Trade Watch's Lori Wallach and American ex-pat Denis Campbell...
IMPEACHMENT ARTICLES FOR DONALD J. TRUMP:
'BradCast' 12/10/19
Guest Hosted by Nicole Sandler with a day of Dem whiplash on impeachment and a new trade deal; Also author Ramesh Srinivasan...
'Green News Report' 12/10/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
Heat wave for Aussie bushfires; Oceans losing oxygen; Bankrupt PG&E reaches $13.5 billion settlement; PLUS: Thousands of young activists pressure U.N. climate summit to get moving...
Previous GNRs: 12/5/19 - 12/3/19 - Archives...
'Trump a Clear and Present Danger to Elections, Nat'l Security': 'BradCast' 12/9/19
Guest Hosted by Nicole Sandler with the DOJ's IG report on the Russia probe and the latest Judiciary Comm. impeachment hearing...
Sunday 'Low Flow' Toons
When he goes low, the cartoonists in PDiddie's latest collection of the week's best political toons go lower...
U.S. Economy 'Whistling Past a Climate Graveyard':
'BradCast' 12/6/19
Guest: The Prospect's David Dayen on mag's landmark Green New Deal edition; Also: House GOPers jumping ship (several heading to jail)...
'Green News Report' 12/5/19
  w/ Brad & Desi
The hottest ten years on record; GOP Senate confirms lobbyist as Energy Sec; CA bans all new fracking, for now; PLUS: Greta Thunberg is back in Europe, with a warning for politicians...
Previous GNRs: 12/3/19 - 11/26/19 - Archives...
'A President Should Resist Foreign Interference in Our Elections, Not Demand It': 'BradCast' 12/4/19
First House Judiciary hearing on Trump's impeachable crimes w/ Heather Digby Parton...
'Abuse of Office, Abuse of Power, Abuse of the Public Trust': 'BradCast' 12/3/19
Guest: Const'l law, impeachment expert John Bonifaz; Also: Kamala out; Another bad court day for Team Trump...
'Green News Report' 12/3/19
U.N. climate summit kicks off with 'catastrophic' news in Madrid; PLUS: Residents back home after yet another petrochemical explosion in TX ruins Thanksgiving...
2019 Foreshadows 2020 Vote System Catastrophes: 'BradCast' 12/2/19
Also: Bullock out; Hunter 'guilty'; Impeachment to run right up until 2020 voting begins; L.A. County Clerk still refuses to answer Qs about his new unverifiable vote systems...
Sunday 'It's Just a Cyst' Toons
As usual, as PDiddie proves once again, there is nothing at all to worry about in his latest Sunday collection of political toons...
Don't Just Debunk the Ukraine DNC Hack Conspiracy Theory. Expose Its Absurdity.
Why the evidence-free Trump/GOP claims about Ukraine and the 2016 election make no sense whatsoever...
Turkey Day Toons!
PDiddie doesn't even take Sundays off! Did you think he would stand down for Thanksgiving?! Gobble gobble!...
Trump Is Up Schiff's Creek Without an Alibi:
'BradCast' 11/27/19
Debunking the 'impeachment is a disaster for Democrats!' lie with actual, independently verifiable facts...
'Green News Report' 11/26/19
Climate change finds way into latest Dem debate; Greenhouse gas at record highs; 2019 wettest year on record; PLUS: Oxford Dictionary's 'Word of the Year' is...
BARCODED BALLOTS AND BALLOT MARKING DEVICES
BMDs pose a new threat to democracy in all 50 states...
VIDEO: 'Rise of the Tea Bags'
Brad interviews American patriots...
'Democracy's Gold Standard'
Hand-marked, hand-counted ballots...
Brad's Upcoming Appearances
(All times listed as PACIFIC TIME unless noted)
Media Appearance Archives...
'Special Coverage' Archives
GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal 2012...
VA GOP VOTER REG FRAUDSTER OFF HOOK
Felony charges dropped against VA Republican caught trashing voter registrations before last year's election. Did GOP AG, Prosecutor conflicts of interest play role?...

Criminal GOP Voter Registration Fraud Probe Expanding in VA
State investigators widening criminal probe of man arrested destroying registration forms, said now looking at violations of law by Nathan Sproul's RNC-hired firm...

DOJ PROBE SOUGHT AFTER VA ARREST
Arrest of RNC/Sproul man caught destroying registration forms brings official calls for wider criminal probe from compromised VA AG Cuccinelli and U.S. AG Holder...

Arrest in VA: GOP Voter Reg Scandal Widens
'RNC official' charged on 13 counts, for allegely trashing voter registration forms in a dumpster, worked for Romney consultant, 'fired' GOP operative Nathan Sproul...

ALL TOGETHER: ROVE, SPROUL, KOCHS, RNC
His Super-PAC, his voter registration (fraud) firm & their 'Americans for Prosperity' are all based out of same top RNC legal office in Virginia...

LATimes: RNC's 'Fired' Sproul Working for Repubs in 'as Many as 30 States'
So much for the RNC's 'zero tolerance' policy, as discredited Republican registration fraud operative still hiring for dozens of GOP 'Get Out The Vote' campaigns...

'Fired' Sproul Group 'Cloned', Still Working for Republicans in At Least 10 States
The other companies of Romney's GOP operative Nathan Sproul, at center of Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, still at it; Congressional Dems seek answers...

FINALLY: FOX ON GOP REG FRAUD SCANDAL
The belated and begrudging coverage by Fox' Eric Shawn includes two different video reports featuring an interview with The BRAD BLOG's Brad Friedman...

COLORADO FOLLOWS FLORIDA WITH GOP CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
Repub Sec. of State Gessler ignores expanding GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal, rants about evidence-free 'Dem Voter Fraud' at Tea Party event...

CRIMINAL PROBE LAUNCHED INTO GOP VOTER REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL IN FL
FL Dept. of Law Enforcement confirms 'enough evidence to warrant full-blown investigation'; Election officials told fraudulent forms 'may become evidence in court'...

Brad Breaks PA Photo ID & GOP Registration Fraud Scandal News on Hartmann TV
Another visit on Thom Hartmann's Big Picture with new news on several developing Election Integrity stories...

CAUGHT ON TAPE: COORDINATED NATIONWIDE GOP VOTER REG SCAM
The GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal reveals insidious nationwide registration scheme to keep Obama supporters from even registering to vote...

CRIMINAL ELECTION FRAUD COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST GOP 'FRAUD' FIRM
Scandal spreads to 11 FL counties, other states; RNC, Romney try to contain damage, split from GOP operative...

RICK SCOTT GETS ROLLED IN GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD SCANDAL
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) sends blistering letter to Gov. Rick Scott (R) demanding bi-partisan reg fraud probe in FL; Slams 'shocking and hypocritical' silence, lack of action...

VIDEO: Brad Breaks GOP Reg Fraud Scandal on Hartmann TV
Breaking coverage as the RNC fires their Romney-tied voter registration firm, Strategic Allied Consulting...

RNC FIRES NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION FIRM FOR FRAUD
After FL & NC GOP fire Romney-tied group, RNC does same; Dead people found reg'd as new voters; RNC paid firm over $3m over 2 months in 5 battleground states...

EXCLUSIVE: Intvw w/ FL Official Who First Discovered GOP Reg Fraud
After fraudulent registration forms from Romney-tied GOP firm found in Palm Beach, Election Supe says state's 'fraud'-obsessed top election official failed to return call...

GOP REGISTRATION FRAUD FOUND IN FL
State GOP fires Romney-tied registration firm after fraudulent forms found in Palm Beach; Firm hired 'at request of RNC' in FL, NC, VA, NV & CO...
The Secret Koch Brothers Tapes...

Setting politics aside, why the evidence-free Trump/GOP claims about Ukraine and the 2016 election actually make no sense whatsoever...
By Ernest A. Canning on 11/29/2019 10:05am PT  

Sometimes, when faced with an insidious canard, it isn't enough to either expose the true source of a conspiracy theory or the absence of any facts to support it. In order to thoroughly demolish it, one can identify a reductio ad absurdum --- "a form of argument in which a proposition is disproven by following its implications to absurd conclusions".

It is indeed important that, throughout the recent public impeachment hearings, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) referred to allegations that CrowdStrike and the Ukrainians hacked the Democratic National Committee (DNC) server in 2016 as a "debunked" conspiracy theory and that none of the State Department and National Security Counsel (NSC) officials who testified during the impeachment hearings could identify any evidence that would support that "debunked" theory. It is also important that, in her opening statement, Dr. Fiona Hill, Trump's own former NSC Senior Director of Russian and European Affairs, proclaimed that Russian intelligence agencies were the source of that "fictional" canard.

While there is ample evidence to support the conclusions offered by Dr. Hill and Chairman Schiff, one can deliver the coup de grâce to the baseless but insidious theory that Ukraine and CrowdStrike hacked the DNC by asking "why" they would do that?...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




AG Barr ordered to hand over grand jury transcripts, exhibits redacted from the Mueller Report to Congress by October 30
UPDATE 10/29/19: DC Circuit Court of Appeal Grants Temporary Stay of Order to Release Grand Jury Materials...
By Ernest A. Canning on 10/28/2019 9:35am PT  

In her landmark, 75-page decision filed on Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell did much more than simply grant a motion filed by the House Judiciary Committee (HJC) to compel the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to provide it with grand jury materials from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe that had been previously concealed. In that same order, the court systematically demolished every quasi-legal objection the DOJ and White House have raised in their specious efforts to interfere with an ongoing and lawful impeachment inquiry.

The core question raised by HJC's motion was whether the court should order the DOJ to release pertinent grand jury materials in accordance with Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Although grand jury testimony and exhibits are ordinarily kept secret, Rule 6(e) authorizes a court to order the disclosure of such materials "preliminarily to" or "in connection with a judicial proceeding" when there is a "particularized need" for disclosure.

Judge Howell suggested that a House impeachment inquiry, in and of itself, may be considered a "judicial proceeding". She concluded, however, that the court did not have to reach that issue because the HJC was correct in its assertion that its impeachment inquiry was "preliminary to" a judicial proceeding.

In her erudite decision, Howell cited historical practice, the Federalist Papers, the text of the Constitution, and both Supreme Court and binding DC Circuit Court of Appeals precedent. All of these make it abundantly clear: U.S. Senate impeachment trials are "judicial proceedings". Indeed, the DOJ's contrary position is not only at odds with the appellate decision in Haldeman v. Sirica (1974) but also with the DOJ's own legal position in that Watergate-era decision. The DOJ was unable to satisfactorily explain why, under Attorney General William P. Barr, it had changed its previous, long-standing legal position.

The "particularized need" to release the materials arises, in this instance, because Mueller, in deference to the opinions of the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) that a sitting President may not be indicted,* refrained from reaching conclusions about the legality or illegality of the President's conduct. "This," the court observed, "leaves the House as the only federal body that can act on allegations of presidential misconduct." Yet, the court observed, "under the DOJ's reading of Rule 6(e), the Executive Branch would be empowered to wall off any evidence of presidential misconduct from the House by placing that evidence before a grand jury."

The DOJ's contentions were, thus, not simply wrong but untenable. "In carrying out the weighty constitutional duty of determining whether impeachment of the President is warranted," Judge Howell observed at the outset of her opinion, "Congress need not redo the nearly two years of effort spent on the Special Counsel's investigation, nor risk being mislead by witnesses, who may have provided information to the grand jury and the Special Counsel that varies with what they tell HJC."

Had she stopped there, Judge Howell's ruling would be significant. Her demolition of every argument against the validity of the impeachment inquiry that has been presented by the DOJ, by the White House and by some Republican members of Congress, however, was nothing short of breathtaking...

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Democracy's need for lifeboats in the form of hand-marked paper ballots...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/30/2019 9:35am PT  

Like those who took part in the ill-fated maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic as it blindly traversed the Atlantic, many American citizens are rushing headlong towards a pivotal 2020 election, unmindful of the potential for yet another e-voting catastrophe.

In 1912, in defiance of science, passengers and crew mistakenly believed that the Titanic was "unsinkable". In 2019, far too many Americans are either unaware of or have chosen to ignore repeated warnings from computer scientists. For many, the very idea that a Presidential selection could be the product of election fraud or failure in the form of undetectable, malicious manipulation or error of electronically tabulated ballots in disparate local, county and state-run election systems across an entire nation is simply unthinkable.

In 1912, ignoring the danger led to the deaths of 1,500 of the Titanic's 2,224 passengers and crew --- paltry numbers when measured against the threat to humanity's very survival that would be embodied in another four years of the Trump Administration's greed-over-science, anti-environmental policies.

Over the past two decades, the central problem for both computer scientists and election integrity advocates has not been the question as to whether all e-voting and electronic tabulation systems are vulnerable to manipulation via external hacks, mis-programming or malicious insider manipulations --- they are! Instead, they've been stymied by the near impossible task of proving that a given election result was fraudulent. That inability is occasioned by the fact that, in the absence of timely forensic access to the system, its ballot programming and its source codes, electronic theft is largely undetectable in any system that does not deploy hand-marked paper ballots.

While e-voting vulnerabilities to all manner of manipulation, as well as unintended programming errors, have always been present, both the threat of wholesale electronic theft and the dire consequences of that threat in 2020 have never been greater.

Fortunately, just as help for the surviving Titanic passengers and crew was just over the horizon in the form of the HMS Carpathia, democracy itself may be saved as the result of the valiant efforts by the Coalition for Good Governance ("the Coalition") to help compel the State of Georgia to conduct verifiable elections on hand-marked paper ballots. The help may not only save Georgia, but save the entire country, eventually, as evidenced by the extraordinarily well-informed 153-page ruling [PDF] that was recently handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg…

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Typhoid Fever, Bubonic Plague make a comeback in L.A. at the bleeding tip of the spear of epidemic U.S. homelessness, despair...
By Ernest A. Canning on 7/1/2019 9:35am PT  

Notwithstanding Donald Trump's 4-Pinocchio claim that low-end wages are on the rise, there is an ample body of evidence that wealth inequality has reached levels not seen since the onset of the Great Depression. Those who study the issue often compare the financial holdings of the privileged few to those of the many.

A 2017 study, for example, revealed that just three individuals – Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Jeff Bezos – had, at that point, held as much wealth as the bottom 50% of the American population --- some 160 million people. It's a wealth gap that continues to grow exponentially.

Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos is the Ebenezer Scrooge-like poster child for obscene wealth disparity. Last year, Bezos agreed to pay Amazon employees $15 per hour wages, but only after sustained pressure from Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), who introduced the StopBezosAct.

At $15 per hour, a full time, 40 hour per week Amazon employee would earn $31,200 per year, before taxes. How generous! According to Business Insider, every 60 seconds, Bezos earns $149,353. That's more than four (4) full-time Amazon employees collectively earn in a year. Bezos' per minute earnings are $56,000 higher than the $93,170 in annual earnings an individual would have to make in order to be placed within the top 10%.

In the minds of most people, $215 million looks like an enormous sum of money, and it is. Business Insider reports that Bezos rakes in $215 million per day, every day, and more than $6.5 billion per year. Amazon, which reported $11.2 billion in earnings last year, did not pay one dime in federal taxes.

While these numbers are essential to understanding our gaping inequality problem, they really don't do much by way of exposing what life is like for those at the bottom end of the scale, to wit: the homeless, who, to many, are simply "invisible" .

In a recently released report (see below) titled, "Paradise Lost", Eric Johnson of Seattle ABC News affiliate, KOMO, takes an in depth look at what wealth disparity has wrought for those at the very bottom --- the 59,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County. Not mentioned by Johnson is that 11% of those struggling to survive without a roof over their heads are U.S. military veterans. The numbers of individuals in L.A. who are slipping into the homeless abyss, according to Johnson, are increasing --- by 16% over the previous year.

Johnson focused on what he described as "the worst man-made disaster in the United States" --- "53 square blocks of suffering and mental illness and drugs on a level that is hard to fathom." For the homeless of L.A., conditions may be even worse than those experienced during the Great Depression. They face what Johnson described as "the long-ignored cousin of addiction and homelessness: disease."

"We have not seen conditions for humans like this since medieval times. Period. And that's a fact," Dr. Drew Pinsky told Johnson. He is, literally, correct...

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Two federal courts uphold Legislative oversight of the Executive Branch...
By Ernest A. Canning on 5/27/2019 2:37pm PT  

The federal courts, so far anyway, are holding up well amidst the Constitutional Crisis foisted upon the nation with President Donald Trump's attempts to stymie all Congressional oversight of the Executive Branch and the potentially criminal record of its chief occupant. The Judicial Branch firewall, at least according to one renowned Constitutional law expert --- and at least on the matter of the Congressional subpoenas --- should hold up all the way to even the otherwise very divided U.S. Supreme Court.

On May 20, just seven days after hearing oral arguments, United States D.C. District Court Judge Amit P. Mehta issued an erudite 41-page decision [PDF] in which he ordered Donald Trump's accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena issued by the House Oversight Committee. Both the subpoena and subsequent court order directs Mazars to provide financial records from Trump and several affiliated entities to the panel. Judge Mehta also denied Trump's request to stay the order pending appeal, reasoning that the President had failed to either cite "potentially persuasive authority" or "present serious legal questions" to overcome nearly 140 years of Supreme Court case law establishing the right of Congress to obtain the requested records as part of its broad investigative authority.

Judge Mehta's rationale was so compelling --- and the "legal" arguments advanced on behalf of the President so specious --- that, when Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, a preeminent constitutional expert appeared on MSNBC's The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell following the ruling, he predicted the President's appeal would not only be swiftly denied by the United States D.C. Circuit Court of Appeal, but that the Supreme Court would either deny the President's request that it hear the case or swiftly affirm the District Court decision. Tribe described the law in this realm as a "slam dunk" and said he'd "expect all nine Justices...would follow the law."

It took only one day for Tribe's sentiment to be echoed elsewhere. Citing Mehta's decision, Judge Edgardo Ramos at the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York, issued a bench ruling immediately after oral arguments in a separate, if related case. Ramos directed Deutsche Bank and Capital One to comply with a Congressional subpoena to turn over the President's bank records. That subpoena, according to The New York Times, seeks "to elicit information on potential money laundering and bank fraud." Like Mehta, Judge Ramos refused to issue a stay pending appeal...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




All Americans, progressive or otherwise, should stand for what is right...
By Ernest A. Canning on 5/6/2019 11:09am PT  

The right of inmates to vote is not a radical idea. In addition to Maine and Vermont, 21 other democracies, including Canada, Sweden and Israel, allow all prisoners to vote.

Seventy (70) civil rights and advocacy groups have now joined Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in calling for restoring the right of all inmates to vote. Although Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) have stopped short of agreeing with Sanders' proposal, both appear to be considering it. Warren stated simply that she was "not there yet." Harris, a former prosecutor, who is focused on restoring post-release felon voting rights, acknowledged that "we should have that conversation."

Inmate voting rights advocates argue that, while the rule of law requires appropriate punishments for crimes, this can be done without sacrificing the right of every citizen to vote --- a right that provides the cornerstone for a free and democratic society. Moreover, there's a rehabilitative purpose. Inmate voting encourages prisoners, who retain their First Amendment rights while incarcerated, to responsibly stay connected or reconnect with society. Indeed, some inmates have gone on to become "eloquent advocates" for social justice.

Ironically, while incarcerated, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. penned his famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison, would go on to become the formerly apartheid South Africa's first black President and a recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize.

Opponents of inmate voting appeal to the natural repugnance the electorate holds towards some of our nation's most heinous crimes and those who carried them out: individuals, like Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was convicted as the Boston Marathon Bomber and Dylann Roof, who was convicted for the Charleston Church Massacre.

While gut level repugnance towards these especially heinous crimes is understandable, from the perspective of societal needs, there are multiple reasons to question the validity of adding, as a form of punishment, inmate disenfranchisement to imprisonment, fines, restitution, and, in the cases of Tsarnaev and Roof, to their death sentences...

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History reveals it is unnecessary to wait for a Special Counsel report...
By Ernest A. Canning on 1/30/2019 11:01am PT  

The time for the U.S. House of Representatives to initiate an inquiry into the question of whether President Donald J. Trump should be impeached is now.

Those, who suggest that the U.S. House of Representatives should await a formal report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller before passing a resolution that would authorize the House Judiciary Committee to initiate an impeachment inquiry, ignore both the U.S. Constitution and historical precedent.

The same is true with respect to those, who suggest that percipient witnesses, like Michael Cohen, could, when appearing before Congress, refuse to answer questions if those questions touched upon the same subject matter that is a topic of Mueller’s investigation...

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After overcoming corporate media at the polls in 2018, a progressive class of U.S. House freshmen began facing down their next obstacle in 2019...
By Ernest A. Canning on 1/23/2019 8:45am PT  

When, in 2015, former President Jimmy Carter told talk show host Thom Hartmann that the United States had become "an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery", he did so in relation to the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court's infamous 2010 decision in Citizens United --- a decision that removed virtually all restraints on corporate campaign donations. This, the 39th President asserted, has produced "a complete subversion of our political system".

"Complete" but not irreversible.

While sometimes difficult to notice amidst our Trumpian nightmare, the U.S. is, nonetheless, in the midst of what 2016 Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders described as a "political revolution" that strives to diminish the grip of corporate wealth at the polls via grassroots-funded progressive candidates who refuse to accept corporate money. Progressive activists and candidates have been succeeding by utilizing every inexpensive means of communication available to ordinary citizens that does not entail the inordinate expense of political advertising via the corporate-owned mainstream media. It is a task that has been most effectively taken on by a younger generation of adept, tech savvy activists and candidates.

While overcoming the power of corporately-powered political propaganda during the 2018 midterm election, a newly elected class of young progressives recently entered the U.S. House of Representatives only to be confronted with a second obstacle: the insidious reach of corporate lobbyists…

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Legal scholars find DoJ opinion fails to consider Constitutional measure for Executive Branch continuity during a President's criminal trial...
By Ernest A. Canning on 12/17/2018 9:35am PT  

So long as there is a prospect for the issuance of a pardon by a Vice President once he/she becomes President, or the expiration of the statute of limitations while a President remains in office, the indictment of a sitting President may be the "only" constitutional means for ensuring "Equal Justice Under Law".

That conclusion, of course, is at odds with the official U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) position that a sitting President cannot be indicted until after he/she leaves office. The DoJ's position is based upon the December 10, 2000 Opinion issued by the DoJ's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), citing an earlier OLC opinion that "the institution of criminal proceedings 'would interfere with the President's unique official duties, most of which cannot be performed by anyone else.'"

But that position is flawed and is being challenged by a number of legal scholars, including Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe, a preeminent constitutional expert, whose famous former students include Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and President Barack Obama.

In a December 10 Boston Globe op-ed and during a subsequent appearance on MSNBC's Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell (see video below), Tribe noted that the long-controversial OLC opinion lacks the force of a judicial precedent and is at odds with the legal accountability required of all federal officers, including the President...

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Cites violations of Constitutional First and Fifth Amendment rights
UPDATED: Court temporarily reinstates Acosta press pass citing 'due process' rights...
By Ernest A. Canning on 11/14/2018 10:05am PT  

On Tuesday, CNN, along with its Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta, filed a federal complaint alleging President Donald J. Trump and high level White House personnel, including Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the U.S. Secret Service, violated their First Amendment free press rights to access White House press facilities.

They also allege the Trump administration violated their Fifth Amendment rights to due process when, without notice or a compelling reason for doing so, the White House rescinded Acosta's press credentials and seized his "hard pass" following a contentious November 7 Presidential press conference.

The complaint goes on to charge that the news organization's First Amendment rights were violated a second time on November 9, when Acosta traveled to France to cover the President's visit and to interview French President Emmanuel Macron during the centenary events commemorating the end of World War I. "The Secret Service refused to allow Acosta to attend an allegedly 'open' press event whose attendees included journalists from around the world," according to the CNN complaint. They did so even though "the French government issued credentials to Acosta." (Ironically, as they also note, Trump did not attend the event "due to inclement weather.")

Citing both facts and case law, the CNN complaint sets forth the argument that the President's actions against both Acosta and the news outlet amounted to an unlawful "attempt to censor the press and exclude reporters from the White House who challenge or dispute the President's point of view". However, that compelling argument, which is now supported by the White House Correspondents' Association, the ACLU and even by Fox "News", may not carry the day at the District Court level given that the case has been assigned to Judge Timothy J. Kelly, a Trump appointee...

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Even former Congressman disenfranchised when his ballot was rejected...
UPDATED 11/15/2018: Federal court orders county election boards to provide slightly more than 4,000 voters with an opportunity to cure mismatched rejections by Nov. 17...
By Ernest A. Canning on 11/9/2018 4:27pm PT  

On Thursday, Florida Democrats filed a federal lawsuit in which they alleged that the Sunshine State's, county-by-county, subjective signature match procedures for rejecting vote-by-mail (VBM) and provisional ballots are arbitrary, lacking in standards, and, over several election cycles, inconsistently applied so as to have a disparate impact on minority and young voters. This, the complaint alleges, deprives those voters of Equal Protection under the law as mandated by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

As explained by the Democrats' attorney Marc Elias to WLRN Miami:

These laws, when taken together, condition the right to vote of millions of Floridians who vote-by-mail, or wind up voting provisionally, on the untrained opinions of canvassing boards or elections officials as to whether or not signatures match. The problem is that voters in one county are subject to different standards for reviewing signatures than others and there is no uniform standard or even sufficient training for this, and it's highly error prone.

Studies have shown that laypersons conducting signature matching are more likely to reject legitimate signatures as inauthentic than the other way around. This serves as an outright disenfranchisement and burden on the right to vote.

Elias' assertions about the arbitrary and erroneous nature of signature mismatch rejections appeared to be partially born out via a Nov. 9 Tweet published by former Rep. Patrick Murphy, after he learned on Election Day --- too late to remedy the problem --- that even his "absentee ballot wasn't counted due to 'invalid signature' match"...

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In successive rulings, federal court sides with taxpayers and student-victims of predatory secondary 'educational' institutions...
By Ernest A. Canning on 10/22/2018 9:35am PT  

Borrowing from President Donald Trump's self-description as the "King of Debt", Forbe's Derek Newton, over the summer, dubbed U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos as the "Queen of Debt".

DeVos is the billionaire sister of Erik Prince, founder of the murderous private mercenary firm, Blackwater, Inc. Like the President, whose foreign policy decisions are compromised by his conflicting foreign financial interests, DeVos has significant financial interests that conflict with her obligation to serve the public interest as the nation's top education official.

Citing paperwork released by the U.S. Office of Government Ethics (OGE), the Center for American Progress notes DeVos "has [substantial] investments in companies that hound students to pay their federal loan debts." Unfortunately, DeVos was not confronted with that blatant conflict-of-interest during her Senate confirmation hearings because, according to the Center, Senators were not given access to the OGE records until after her confirmation process was completed.

In his August 2018 article in Forbes, Newton bestowed the "Queen of Debt" title after the Secretary of Education pursued policies that facilitated a rise in the level of U.S. student debt to an alarming $1.5 trillion.

One of the principle means utilized by the conflicted DeVos to inflate her own wealth, while burying an entire generation of defrauded students in insurmountable debt, was to indefinitely postpone the "Borrower Defense Regulations" that had been adopted in 2016 by the Department of Education under President Obama. Those regulations were supposed to have gone into effect in July 2017.

The "Borrower Defense Regulations" were enacted in the wake of the collapse of privately-held, for-profit colleges and universities --- worthless diploma mills, like the now defunct Corinthian Colleges and the infamously fraudulent Trump University. The scam artists of those private, ostensibly "educational" institutions rake-in exorbitant tuitions paid via direct loans their students are encouraged to obtain from the federal government. Unable to secure employment after graduating with their worthless diplomas from the disreputable private institutions, the students are left facing insurmountable debt, as taxpayers pick up the tab to cover the loans those former students are unable to pay back.

According to an October 28, 2016 Department of Education formal announcement, the Obama-era regulations were expressly designed to protect students and taxpayers from predatory institutions. The 2016 regulations included provisions for debt relief for victimized students and the elimination of contractual provisions by which predatory private schools compel students to waive their right to class action lawsuits and which force students to submit to private arbitration.

In successive rulings, U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss has now sided with defrauded student borrowers and against DeVos and the predatory "educational" institutions she invested in prior to becoming the U.S. Education Secretary --- a position that placed her in charge of overseeing regulations meant to clean up this fraudulent mess...

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Long overdue re-enfranchisement of former felons and a progressive Democrat, both on the 2018 ballot, could result in a sea change for 2020...
By Ernest A. Canning on 10/8/2018 10:41am PT  

Given the pivotal role Florida and its 29 electoral votes have played in recent Presidential elections, November's midterms could prove to be pivotal in the state, and not only for Florida. November 6th, 2018 could prove to be a landmark moment for democracy, helping to determine the outcome of the 2020 Presidential election.

The combination of a win by Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Andrew Gillum, along with passage of the state's Amendment 4, could be a death knell to right wing voter suppression schemes which have long plagued the Sunshine State.

Amendment 4 is a ballot measure "designed to automatically restore the right to vote for people with prior felony convictions, except those convicted of murder or a felony sexual offense, upon completing of their sentences including prison, parole and probation". As observed by the Intercept's Rachel Cohen, Florida's "draconian" felony disenfranchisement law --- "passed in 1868, after an unsuccessful attempt by Florida and other [former Confederate] states to reject the 15th amendment" --- has served to disenfranchise "more than 20% of otherwise eligible black voters in Florida."

If adopted by voters next month, the new Constitutional measure would automatically "restore voting rights to an estimated 1.5 million Floridians who have fully completed sentences," Cohen reports. If added to the 13 million currently registered Floridian voters, Amendment 4 could potentially increase total voter rolls by more than 10%.

Only 3% of African-Americans identify themselves as Republicans. Thus, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to calculate the potential impact of increasing, by 20%, the number of black Florida voters who would be eligible to vote in 2020.

But, felony convictions are not the only means by which Republicans have sought to suppress turnout of the "wrong" voters over the past two decades during which the GOP has occupied the Governor's mansion and exercised the Chief Executive's right to appoint Florida's Secretaries of State...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




Good government groups file 'emergency petition' to stop him
UPDATE: FL Supreme Court finds Scott exceeded his authoriry, grants emergency petition...
By Ernest A. Canning on 9/24/2018 9:35am PT  

The U.S. Supreme Court is not the only court where Republicans appear more than willing to steal seats that don't belong to them.

Rick Scott, Florida's Governor and Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate, must not have much confidence in his own party holding onto control of the state's Executive Mansion after the November elections. He's now busy working to swipe the next Governor's power to make judicial appointments to the Sunshine State's Supreme Court, no matter who that Governor may be.

The terms of three of Florida's seven state Supreme Court Justices, Barbara J. Pariente, Peggy A. Quince, and R. Fred Lewis --- all originally appointed by Democrats, leaving four GOP-appointed Justices on the bench --- will end on January 8, 2019. Scott's term in office ends two days earlier, at midnight, on January 6, 2019. Nonetheless, he wants control of who will fill those upcoming vacancies, even after he has left office.

On Sept. 11 this year, Scott directed the Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission (FSC JNC) to make its nominations to fill the prospective vacancies by November 10, 2018. The Commission has set an October 8 deadline for the filing of applications by prospective nominees.

That, even after Scott's own concession, in an earlier FL Supreme Court proceeding, that a governor's power to fill a judicial vacancy does not arise until after the vacancy occurs. The Governor's order also flatly defies the Florida electorate which, in 2014, rejected a GOP ballot initiative that would have amended the Florida constitution to permit outgoing governors to fill prospective vacancies before they actually occur.

The League of Women Voters, along with Common Cause, have now filed an emergency petition [PDF] with the Florida Supreme Court, seeking to prevent Scott from usurping his successor's power to fill prospective vacancies on the court.

While Scott is in a very tight "toss up" race for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, his state directive hints at what may be an attempt to stave off the potential impact of a possible blue wave at the polls this year. In Florida, that could result in Scott's party losing control of executive power in Tallahassee. Recent polling suggests a significant prospect that Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum could become the next Governor of Florida. Gillum currently leads Republican Ron Desantis, according to the RealClearPolitics average by 3.4% in polls taken between August 29 and September 16.

* * *

UPDATE 10/15/18: The Florida Supreme Court issued an order [PDF] in which it granted the emergency writ. It expressly ruled that the next governor will have the sole authority to fill the vacancies and that Gov. Scott "exceeded his authority by directing the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission to fill these vacancies by November 10, 2018."

When they go to the polls on November 6, Florida voters will not only decide who will serve as their next governor. They will also indirectly determine who will be nominated to serve next three FL Supreme Court Justices.

More from Mark Joseph Stern, including a few caveats, here...

* * *
Ernest A. Canning is a retired attorney, author, Vietnam Veteran (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968) and a Senior Advisor to Veterans For Bernie. He has been a member of the California state bar since 1977. In addition to a juris doctor, he has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science. Follow him on twitter: @cann4ing




Recognizing the 'gravity and importance' of right to an accurate count, court directs parties in lawsuit to focus on 'practical realities' of converting to hand-marked paper ballot system within 3 months...
UPDATE: Court schedules hearing for Sept. 17; rejects defense motions to dismiss...
By Ernest A. Canning on 8/13/2018 10:46am PT  

Plaintiffs in a Georgia lawsuit seeking to force the state to move to a hand-marked paper ballot system in time for this year's midterm elections, promise to produce expert testimony to the court, demonstrating that "Georgia's voting system is a catastrophically open invitation to malicious actors intent on disrupting our democracy."

The Coalition for Good Governance and a group of multi-partisan individual plaintiffs filed a motion [PDF] on July 31, seeking a preliminary injunction in the federal case, to prevent Georgia from conducting this year's midterms on the state's notorious Diebold AccuVote TS (touchscreen) Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines. Instead, plaintiffs seek an order that Georgia's election officials utilize, for in-person voting, the same already-certified, Diebold paper ballot-based optical-scan system currently used for tabulation of the Peach State's absentee ballots.

Last week, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg ordered an expedited briefing schedule on plaintiffs' motion to compel the State of Georgia to adopt this simple method for conducting a verifiable paper ballot election on November 6, 2018.

The plaintiffs cite a massive body of scientific evidence finding the 100% unverifiable Diebold touchscreen systems as essentially electronic black holes, prone to unintended systemic failures and vulnerable to all manner of undetectable malicious manipulation by insiders or anyone else who acquires minimal access to the system or any of its machines. They also point to evidence that the statewide system was previously compromised via the Internet. Plaintiffs argue the 16-year old system deprives the electorate of their constitutional right not only to cast a vote but to have their vote accurately counted.

Recognizing "the gravity and importance of the constitutional issues," the court directed the parties (principally GA Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the state's GOP nominee for governor), as well as the plaintiffs to address "the practical realities surrounding implementation of the requested relief in the next one to three months." Judge Totenberg asks defendants to address the "practical realities" issue in a response by August 14. Plaintiffs' reply is then due by August 20.

The question before the court is monumental and could help set a precedent across the country in other jurisdictions where voters are forced to use unverifiable touchscreens on Election Day, rather than a paper ballot system that is already available via the absentee systems used in all 50 states.

As we documented last year, in "Why Do Georgia Election Officials Insist on 100% Unverifiable Elections?", if the court issues the preliminary injunction, November 6, 2018 would mark the first time in more than a decade and a half that the State of Georgia will have held an election in which it will be possible for human beings to verify or refute the accuracy of an electronic vote tally, thanks to the use of hand-marked paper ballots...

--- Click here for REST OF STORY!... ---




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