President Obama, during his surprise Reddit chat last Wednesday, jumps into the Citizens United fray.
"I think we need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn't revisit it)," President Barack Obama wrote last week during a surprise public Reddit chat.
"Consider mobilizing?" Groups like Move to Amend and Public Citizen initiated that mobilization shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court's radical-right quintet handed down that infamous decision in 2010. By July of this year, California had become the sixth state to call for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizen's United.
"Assuming the Supreme Court doesn't revisit it?" The Court had an opportunity to revisit Citizens United earlier this year, or at least to limit its impact to federal elections. Instead, the same radical-right quintet expanded the reach of that democracy destroying decision by overturning a Montana Supreme Court decision which had sought to uphold a century old, state anti-corruption law.
If the President truly desires to spotlight what amounts to a hostile corporate takeover of our democracy, he will confront Mitt "corporations are people, my friend" Romney in the upcoming Presidential debates with an openly stated support for a constitutional amendment that, as the Sanders measure provides, establishes that the "rights protected by the Constitution...are the rights of natural persons and do not extend to for-profit corporations, limited liability companies, or other private entities established for business purposes." Indeed, that position could frame the issue for all candidates seeking public office in the 2012 election.
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Republicans collect another Obama Admin scalp as NRC chair steps down; More bad news for climate change-denying Heartland Institute: Corporate funders flee, Climate expert cleared of 'forgery' allegations; Robot fish! Yep, robot fish; PLUS: Remembering the Joplin tornado, and the ongoing toll of extreme weather disasters... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): VT becomes 1st state to ban fracking; Camp LeJeune Marines could vanquish breast cancer; El Nino, more heatwaves on the way?; Improving US climate science education; Clear Channel rejects climate science billboard; TX renewable power generation jumps; Canada: Valdez-type spill inevitable with tar sands pipeline; Arctic Ocean: newly discovered source of methane ... PLUS: Why are U.S. taxpayers subsidizing coal mining? ... and much, MUCH more! ...
On Wednesday, by a bi-partisan vote of 26-3, the Vermont state Senate passed a resolution "calling for an amendment to the [U.S.] Constitution that corporations are not people and money is not speech and can be regulated in political campaigns" according to advocacy group, Move to Amend.
A majority of Senate Republicans joined with all of the Democrats in voting to approve the measure. The three nay votes came from Republicans after similar resolutions were passed in March by 64 different communities in Vermont.
In 2010, President Barack Obama blastedCitizens United as "devastating to the public interest." During his 2010 State of the Union Address, the President said the Court's decision would "open the floodgates for special interests --- including foreign corporations --- to spend without limit in our elections."
However, the President has, as yet, not offered a rejoinder to the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt "Gordon Gekko" Romney, by squarely stating that "corporations are not people!"
If the President followed Vermont's lead, would it portend to a Democratic landslide in November? Would the SCOTUS, faced with the prospect of a Constitutional Amendment that would put an end to corporate personhood altogether, feel pressured to either overrule or, at a minimum, curtail the reach of Citizens United?...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Fox 'News' wants to abolish FEMA, but VT's Emergency Management team --- and even NJ Gov. Chris Christie(!) --- beg to differ; Talking energy innovation in Vegas; PLUS: Now even Snooki gets it! Well...um...sort of... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Letter from a Utah jail: Tim DeChristopher speaks; Solar setback: Solyndra files for bankruptcy; ConocoPhillips says 'virtually all' of China spill cleared; Germany sets renewables record; Oil shale mining would suck the West dry: report; Panel confirms fix was in at Japan's nuclear public meetings; Australia to get its first utility-scale solar plant; Attack of the Monsanto Superinsects; The greenest building on Earth; Rising Biomass Demand Could Drive Land Grabs: Report; Exxon Reaches Arctic Oil Deal With Russians; San Bruno Pipeline Explosion: 'A Failure of the Entire System' ... PLUS: NSFW: Don Cheadle IS Captain Planet! ...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Hurricane Irene Special Report: Assessing the damage, and the response; Catastrophic flooding in VT; Rightwing's nutty response to disaster (We're talking to you, Howard Kurtz, George Will, Eric Cantor & Ron Paul!); PLUS: Making the link with climate change - the corporate media won't do it, so we will ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Despite protests, Keystone oil sands pipeline moves one step closer to approval; NASA's Hansen: We Will Continue To Fight Tar Sands Pipeline; Climate scientist vindicated again; Koch Industries fighting against tougher national security rules on chemical plants; Calfornia's 'solar highways' faces regulatory speed bumps; Reversible OLED Solar building tiles light the night; Powering your car with old newspapers?; Wind Power Gains As Gear Improves; More oil drilling in Obama era than Bush era; Earthquake may have exceeded VA nuclear plant's safeguards; Source of Gulf oil sheen near BP oil well is unclear; After Recall, Egg Farms Rack Up Violations; UN warns new mutant strain of bird flu on the rise; Monsanto GMO corn losing bug resistance ... PLUS: Republicans Against Science ...
[UPDATED a number of times at bottom of article, with more extraordinary photos and videos of devastating "hype" in NY, MA, NC and VT leading their governor to declare Sunday that the state has "a full-blown flooding catastrophe on our hands." ||| To date, at least 45 are now dead in 13 states in 3rd deadliest U.S. storm in more than 30 years.]
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Setting aside that at this time following 2005's Hurricane Katrina --- the morning after --- most in the media were breathing a sigh of relief that New Orleans had "dodged a bullet", one wonders if the folks in Wilmington, Vermont today...
...are inclined to agree with insightful media critic Howard Kurtz' assessment that Irene amounted to little more than "A Hurricane of Hype":
National news organizations morphed into local eyewitness-news operations, going wall to wall for days with dire warnings about what would turn out to be a Category 1 hurricane, the lowest possible ranking.
Um, surely Howard knows that category rankings for hurricanes refer to wind speed and velocity, not the amount of moisture in the storm or the possibilities of life-threatening floods that may accompany it, along with the storm surge to follow, right? Surely he has many reliable sources that have explained that to him by now, doesn't he?
Does anyone seriously believe the hurricane would have drawn the same level of coverage if it had been bearing down on, say, Ft. Lauderdale?
Dunno, Howard. Would a storm bearing down on Ft. Lauderdale have some 65 million people in its path, as Irene had? Please, Howard, have some apples with your oranges...
As one of its first acts after taking the majority in the U.S. House, Corporate America's public subsidiary, GOP, Inc., voted against the will of all but 18% of the American people to repeal even modest restraints on the abominable practices of a health insurance cartel whose insatiable greed has created a "health care system" that claims the lives of some 45,000 Americans annually simply because they cannot afford insurance.
Of course, even that alarming number fails to take into account those whose lives are lost when private carriers refuse to authorize vital procedures to those who are lucky enough to have coverage.
In response, and as newly-elected Republican Governors around the nation seek to dismantle benefits such as health care for their constituents, Vermont's newly elected Democratic Governor Peter Shumlin seeks to create the nation's first state-based, single-payer health care system. A troubling question remains, however, as to whether Shumlin has in mind a non-profit, state-run system or a single, profit-seeking, private monopoly...
We were on the road all day long yesterday, after getting the morning's Green News Report. We finally got off the road and back on the grid as the sun was setting here in the Midwest, and as "results" began coming in from some of the five different states (Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Oklahoma and Vermont) holding primary elections last night.
It seemed a good moment to ask a question on Twitter about what we'd missed so far. In the bargain, we received some interesting Twitter replies from NBC's Chief White House Correspondent and election results guy Chuck Todd, in regard to counting ballots and the fact that he (and others) were busy reporting "results" to the world, even as not one single ballot had yet to be counted by any human being in all of the United States by that point.
Here's how some of that conversation on Twitter went...
The list of out-and-out lies in this new anti-marriage ad, on the heels of recent constitutionally conservative victories in Iowa and in Vermont, is astounding...Even by the standards of the cowardly, fear-mongering hate groups that spend millions in their fight against equality and Constitutional equal protection under the law...
The ad, from the ironically-named NationForMarriage.org (NOM) hustlers, who appear to have just set up their new, thinly-disguised hate site as of yesterday, looks to have cost quite a bit of somebody's money.
Courage Campaign, who aptly describes the ad as "deplorable" and notes that it's now "airing across the country and 8 times a day in California" has launched a campaign to fight back against what it describes as the anti-American NOM scaredy-cats' use of "actors to push lies claiming that marriage equality threatens personal freedoms". Aren't there any restrictions in place that keep broadcast outlets from airing out and out lies like the many in the above propaganda video? Anyway, please help the Courage Campaign folks out, if you're inclined (or if you happen to place American Values above opportunistic, dishonest Religious Bigotry).
Vermont becomes the fourth state (following MA, CT and IA) to currently recognize marriage equality, after they'd formerly adopted "first-in-the-nation civil unions law" nine years ago. We're delighted to see two-thirds of each Statehouse chamber override the Governor's veto of a law which will correct the injustice of segregation via "civil unions".
Yet another independent study by computer security experts has concluded Diebold's Optical-Scan election system is vulnerable to hacking and rigging. This time it's the Voting Technology Research Center, at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Connecticut. Their conclusions will sadden anyone who values democracy. Here are a few quotations from the report titled, "A Case Study in Optical Scan E-Voting":
[W]e demonstrate that it is [possible] to strengthen known attacks ... so that they become undetectable prior to elections or, to conditionally bias the election results to reach a desired outcome.
[W]e demonstrate a "time bomb" attack in which the bytecode checks the date and time in order to decide whether the election has begun. [It can] retain proper behavior in pre-election testing, while behaving improperly during the actual election.
[I]f the Optical Scan printouts are the sole means of reporting the election results (as it is the case in fact in many jurisdictions)* then one can write quite complex malicious reporting functionalities that get triggered in specific cases (when e.g., the number of votes of a certain candidate are below a certain percentage) and perform arbitrary vote transfers between the candidates.
There are now at least 5 major independent studies like this. It's becoming like "beating a dead horse." But it's not a horse, it's the door of our election officials offices that are being pounded on, and they are simply ignoring the call. We know that our state's election authorities are reading these reports. So the question is, why do they ignore the experts and leave our democracy at risk?
I'm from Vermont, a place you'd think the election officials would do the right thing. But the fact is, that many people have written to Secretary of State Deb Markowitz and Director of Elections Kathy DeWolfe about this. (click here for their contact info if you want to write to them yourself) Many people have asked them, "when are you going to institute random audits on the elections, like all of these studies recommend?"
Their answer is becoming more and more embarrassing...
Another Election Day, another Diebold election "failure" or two.
And a few other quick Election Integrity items of note as I try to get outta here today to head to Arizona where I'll be appearing next week at Q&A's for a couple of Uncounted screenings. (See the "Media Appearances" box on top-right for details, if you're in Phoenix or Tuscon, or thereabouts!)...
In Illinois today, they are holding an election to replace Denny Hastert. On the Diebold touch-screen machines used by the hopelessly partisan Republican DuPage County Election Commission, the word "REPUBLICAN" is popping on to the screen, such that some precincts have reportedly taken to placing tape over the screen where that occurs. The DuPage board is extraordinarily slimy, hopelessly corrupt, overtly willing to break the law, have hired Republican operatives to do "PR" for them (both overtly and covertly), and have recently launched an all out effort, with the help of their corrupt friends in the local media, to to swiftboat the non-partisan citizen Election Integrity advocate citizen volunteers of the Illinois Ballot Integrity Project (IBIP).
Nothing illegal about Republicanists dutifully following Rush's orders to cross over to the Dem side in order to vote for Hillary in the recent Ohio Primary. Or is there?
Diebold op-scan machines cause more trouble than they're worth. Again. This time in Vermont. And perhaps to the advantage of a Democrat over a Republican for a change. Someone needs to be fired for that.
0 Republican votes recorded in 21 Texas counties during last week's Primaries? Yes. But here's why.
Backatcha from the road (see below if you feel like helping us with some gas money! We could much use it!)...
UPDATE FROM THE ROAD, FROM SOME MOTEL 6 SOMEWHERE... The Democratic candidate, Bill Foster has been announced as the winner of Hastert's once formidable seat (yes, pun intended.) Good. Now it's time to impound those machines and memory cards from DuPage County immediately. Both the machines that flashed "REPUBLICAN" and those that didn't need to be impounded by the AG, so they can be tested to find out what happened and why it happened.
And because the Dem candidate won, Election Integrity advocates can't be labeled as "sore losers" for taking this action immediately. Hopefully the good folks at IBIP will take swift action. Lord knows the DuPage County Election Commission won't.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Related. It looks like Foster's Democratic Primary Election opponent, John Laesch is asking for a recount of the February primary. Haven't gotten to speak to him or his camp, so not familiar with what the issues of concern are yet, but thought I'd drop a quick link here to put it on your radar. The BRAD BLOG, of course, supports any and all recount requests deemed necessary by any candidates or their supporters who feel they need to find confidence in any given election results, particularly as we currently --- and absurdly --- use so many non-transparent, wholly faith-based voting systems which have robbed the country of the ability to have the oversight needed to ensure confidence in our democratic system.
Please support The BRAD BLOG's Fund Drive and our continuing coverage of your election system, as found nowhere else. Click here for a number of cool new collector's edition Premium products now available for new contributors!
Does the Secretary of State of New Hampshire have any idea that a key executive in the private firm that programs and "counts" 80% of the state's ballots on hackable, error-prone Diebold voting machines is a convicted narcotics trafficker?
In 1990, Ken Hajjar, the Director of Sales and Marketing for LHS Associates, and childhood friend of company owner John Silvestro, was arrested and pled guilty to charges of "Sale/CND" (Sale of Controlled Narcotics/Drugs) which earned him a 12 month sentence, according to documents received via a public records request and posted this evening at BlackBoxVoting.org.
LHS Associates, as BBV's Bev Harris points out, programs "every single voting machine in New Hampshire, Connecticut, almost all of Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine."
Hajjar himself is also the the guy who showed up in BRAD BLOG comments, at one point last summer, to let us know we are "totally full of shit" and "deluded...paranoid...looney idealogues" to boot. Well, maybe. But at least we don't have a secret felony conviction, even while owning almost complete control over every vote cast and "counted" in New England.
The newly-revealed felon's impolitic rant here earned him the boot from the Secretary of State of Connecticut, where he is now barred from working, as guest blogger Dori Smith pointed out in another BRAD BLOG story last November, detailing the horrors that are LHS Associates, Silvestro and Hajjar.
When Smith asked Hajjar about his admission that he and his company regularly replace voting machine memory cards (the keys to the kingdom!) at will, in the middle of elections, he told her, "I mean, I don't pay attention to every little law."
Go check out Harris' new article tonight, which includes more details and the arrest record --- along with the note that "until recently, LHS employees were listed on the company Web site. Now the pages identifying who programs New England voting machines have been taken down."
Now ya know why.
Even if you still don't know who actually won the New Hampshire Primary.
(What say we actually count the ballots and put the questions to rest? Just sayin'...)
For good measure, we'll also post again below the rare video footage of Silvestro, along with the first-hand BBV footage of the infamous and stunning Leon County, FL hack of a Diebold optical-scan machine --- the very same ones used across NH on Tuesday --- and the one originally seen in HBO's Emmy-nominated Hacking Democracy...