As we wait for the 3-judge panel in Minnesota to issue their verdict in former Sen. Norm Coleman's U.S. Senate race, in which the Democratic challenger Al Franken was found to be the winner by a bi-partisan state canvassing board, D.C. lawmakers are cranking up the political battle which awaits beyond that decision, which could come any day now, and its predictable appeal to the MN Supreme Court by the loser (who will "probably" be Coleman, according to his own attorney).
Sen. "Big Bad" John Cornyn (R-TX), the chair of the National Republican SenatorialConspiratorial Committee (NRSC), is now threatening "World War III" if the Dems try to seat Franken before a U.S. Supreme Court appeal is completed, or even a new federal suit that could be filed by Coleman in U.S. District Court if he chooses...even if those additional judicial processes could take "years"...
Since I first covered the story of the arrest of election officials (including a circuit court judge, the county clerk, the school superintendent and other members of the county elections board) in Clay County, KY, for buying and selling votes, as well as manipulating votes on electronic voting machines without the knowledge of voters, folks have been asking about the political affiliation of the conspirators and whether they were working on behalf of any particular political party.
The subject came up, as well, while I was on the Mike Malloy Show last Friday discussing these arrests, as they had just come to light.
You can download the MP3 of that interview, or listen to it online here (appx. 17 mins)...
While the federal indictment [PDF] notes that a number of those involved in the cabal appear to be members of the local Democratic Party, the scheme also involved at least one conspirator who served as the Republican Party's polling place judge at one of the precincts. Clay County is also a heavily Republican county.
On this point, a commenter who wrote in to respond to last week's article, who claims to be "from Clay County" and to know "each of the people arrested," writes that "ALL of the eight arrested this week" were actually Republican. "They registered as Democrat and took leadership roles in the local party to control precinct officer seats, ensuring all officers at the precinct were hand picked." I can't yet confirm that fact, but that reader's comment is posted in full below, with another one from a Kentucky writer, as both contain some helpful background.
Of course, it could still very well be the case that the crooks were Democrats at work. Either way, from what I'm able to understand about the scheme so far, it seems that it was more about personal power and financial enrichment than anything else. If they were Democrats, they don't seem to have been particularly successful in affecting Democratic wins in their county, even though their scheme was "successful" enough to be repeated election after election and year after year. At the heart of their scheme, after all, was bribing money out of candidates in order to be placed on a "slate" that the cabal would then help to get elected.
As the commenter suggests, it could well be that these "Democratic" officials were only signed up as such in order to affect primary elections (in order to ensure the weakest possible "D" candidate, for example) or even in hopes of adversely affecting general elections as "Democrats," secretly working on behalf of the Republican Party.
I've been unable to learn the party affiliations, yet, of the candidates who paid to be on their "slate," which, once we learn that, could be somewhat instructive. Maybe. But until then, a major point that I'd to make in any case: I don't really care what their party affiliations were.
I guess I'm just in the minority here, but I'm having a bit of trouble getting exercised about $165 million (just to put that into perspective, the movie sequel The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian had a budget of $200 million) in bonuses to AIG employees.
Yeah, it's a shame that approximately one-tenth of one-percent of the $144 billion made available to the company by the federal government in bailout monies went to such bonuses, but where is all the furor from public officials, media outlets and bloggers --- from both Right and Left --- over the 12 billions of dollars (with a "b") sent over to Iraq as pallets of cash (literally, shrink-wrapped $100 bills), which then simply disappeared into that trillion (with a "t") dollar rat hole without accounting or explanation?
Where is the outrage and accountability there? Nowhere.
How about the $4 billion (with a "b") that went to the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 to purchase privately made electronic voting systems which don't work and don't meet the federal standards it was claimed that they did?
It's curious, but not particularly surprising by now, the stuff that folks in Congress get selectively pissed off about, the stuff that media (both mainstream and blogosphere) go selectively wall-to-wall over, versus the stuff they don't.
You'll pardon me if I'm not particularly moved much at all by the latest round of AIG sturm-und-drang, hand-wringing, navel-gazing, finger-pointing and speechifying. Oh, and about the still-free bin Laden, and the still-free anthrax killer...well, don't get me started. Guess those things don't much matter.
Firedoglake's Jane Hamsher dropped me a note over the weekend to inquire if I'd heard anything about a company called Universal Identification Solutions (UIS) who was to be announcing the results of El Salvador's presidential elections over the weekend. A bunch of election observers down there had been "suddenly" informed that the company would be responsible for election night reporting, yet nobody had heard of them, and their website was "really sketchy and vague" at best, as Jane noted.
The wingnuts, apparently, are in a bit of a froth about Michelle Obama's rockin' cool, official White House portrait. Something about the sleeveless First Lady seems to be driving them batty. Though, admittedly, that's not a very long drive.
Actually it’s surprising Republicans would even consider letting Franken off with a simple do-over when they’ve got the goods on him. According to a Monday fund-raising letter from RNC Chair Steele, Franken is “stealing Norm Coleman’s U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota.”
Well, that's a good point, isn't it? With Steele, the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Republican National Lawyer's Association, and all of their affiliated wingnuts claiming over and over that Franken is "stealing" the election (as we detailed and linked in our report), why aren't the Republicanists calling for criminal charges to be brought against him?
It does seem rather gracious of them to allow Franken to compete in a "do-over" for a U.S. Senate seat which they claim to have evidence of him trying to "steal" in the first place, no?
Are the wingnuts just nice that way? Or are they just full of shit? Hmmm, tough call.
(BTW, with all of those charges by the Republicanists, before the election, of ACORN committing massive "voter fraud," shouldn't Coleman and the Republicanists have brought forward their evidence for that during this important election contest trial, since they seem to have lost by only about 250 votes? Especially in MN, where ACORN helped to register more than 42,000 new voters prior to last year's election? With all of those fraudulent ACORN voters, and with Coleman's team having gone over every single vote cast with a fine-tooth comb, you'd think the GOP could have offered evidence of at least one case of "voter fraud" committed by ACORN in MN, no? Apparently not.)
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The "one and only true party of the people" hoping to "rebuild...from the grassroots up," according to an email from its new chairman Michael Steele, seems to be having trouble doing anything differently from the old GOP party. At least if the latest fund raising letter from Steele, charging "liberal Democrat comedian Al Franken" as "stealing Norm Coleman's U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota," is any indication.
On the same day that former Senator Coleman rested his so-far failed case in his election contest in St. Paul against apparent Senator-elect Al Franken, the new GOP chair sent a missive to supporters, begging for money, using the same old failed tactics of the RNC of old; namely, lying to supporters about facts, offering specious, unsupported allegations of Democrats "stealing" elections (despite all evidence to the contrary), making liberal use of the word "liberal," and referring to Democratic party members as "Democrat" party members.
Steele's shameless email (posted in full at the end of this article) echoes the RNC's so-far failed conspiracy-theory strategy to "win" the Senate seat, as previously used by the Coleman camp, the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee (RSCC), the Republican National Lawyer's Association (RNLA), and GOP propagandists from Hannity to Rush to the wingnut blogosphere which dutifully repeat all of their tin-foil hattery, and/or supply it to them in the first place...
If the Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA) ever had any actual legitimacy, self-respect, or credibility as a professional organization --- and I think they used to have all three --- they have now, officially, thrown any last pretense of any of that down the drain, and have come out of the closet as hard-right, conspiracy theory-based, propagandist loons.
On the day that presumptive Senator-elect Al Franken (D) won a huge victory during former Senator Norm Coleman's (R) election contest in Minnesota, the RNLA issued an hysterical email with the subject line: "Al Franken Loses Legal Battle, He Is Very Desperate."
See below for the embarrassing email that the once-respectable-now-whack-job RNLA sent out via their equally looney-toons "media arm" partners at HumanEvents.com this past week, in hopes of raising funds to "Stop Al Franken From Stealing The Election"...
If there was ever a doubt [Steele's] election represented a revolutionary shift in direction, this move would certainly put an end to that debate.
The reformers won, and --- unlike Obama who seems to have used "change" as merely an slogan --- Steele (so far) appears to be "governing" (inasmuch as an RNC chairman can "govern") --- as a true change-agent.
By the same token, one hopes Steele will not throw the baby out with the bath water.
Whoops. As mentioned, unfortunate turn of phrase...
An official state investigation is now underway into multiple voter fraud charges against Rightwing author and one-time attorney Ann Coulter in Connecticut. The investigation began after a complaint was filed with the state's Elections Enforcement Commission on January 29, 2009.
The BRAD BLOG has exclusively obtained a copy of that one-page complaint which is posted in full, as filed with Joan M. Andrews, Director of Legal Affairs and Enforcement for the commission, at the end of this article.
The complaint was filed by Daniel Borchers, a conservative Christian critic of Coulter's following allegations in the New York Daily News in January that she had illegally voted by absentee ballot in CT, using her parents address there, in 2002 and 2004, despite being a resident of New York City at the time.
Though the allegations of Coulter having committed voter fraud in CT in 2002 and 2004 would be her first known instances of casting ballots illegally, they are not the first allegations of such crimes against Coulter. In 2005, after she moved from NY to Palm Beach, FL, she knowingly falsified her Voter Registration Form (a 3rd degree felony), knowingly voted at the wrong precinct (a 1st degree misdemeanor), as well as gave a false address for her drivers license (another 3rd degree felony).
Despite an inaccurate report from AP in May of 2007, subsequently picked up by other media, Coulter was never "cleared" of the voter fraud charges in FL.
The Mississippi State Senate has made an unusual move; they've pulled legislation that they passed on January 15 requiring that voters show a photo ID before being allowed to vote, stripped all amendments out of it, and passed the new legislation.
The previous version had an amendment that allowed voters age 65 and older to vote without showing a photo ID. Mississippi's Republican Governor Haley Barbour had pressed for the removal of that exemption. He got his wish...
Presuming President Obama's nomination of NH's Republican Sen. Judd Gregg as Commerce Secretary will be confirmed by his fellow Senators, and presuming the Democratic Governor of NH keeps his backroom "deal" and appoints a Republican to fill Gregg's vacated seat, then Democrats in the Senate ought to take advantage of some arcane filibuster math, and hold up the seating of that replacement until MN's Senate seat is properly filled.
As things stand now, while former Republican Sen. Norm Coleman is taking his sweet time in throwing everything he can think of against the wall to see what might stick, in hopes of winning his MN election contest against presumptive Senator-elect Al Franken, the Dems need two cross-over Republican votes, for a total of 60, to stymie any attempted GOP filibuster. (That math presumes that independent Senators Sanders and Lieberman both vote with the 56 currently-seated Dems, as they do on most matters.)
However, the Senate rule requiring a supermajority (three-fifths of the Senate) to shut down attempted fillibusters with a cloture vote, is based on the number of "Senators duly chosen and sworn" --- in other words, currently seated Senators.
With two seats vacant then, from MN and NH, after Gregg's departure, that would put the number of "duly chosen and sworn" Senators needed to stop a filibuster at just 59 (or, 58.8, to be precise, but since we're not allowed to count Lieberman as .8 of a human, the number needed for cloture would be 59)...
The previous media excuse, during the last administration, for so many more Rs than Ds on television news, was that Republicans were in power of both the White House and Congress. Of course, now that Democrats control both, well, as ThinkProgress detailed last week the more things change...
It appears that old habits die hard. Even though President Obama and his team are in control of the executive branch and Democrats are in the majority in Congress, the cable networks are still turning more often to Republicans and allowing them to set the agenda on major issues, most recently on the debate over the economic recovery package.
The media have been aiding their efforts. In a new analysis, ThinkProgress has found that the five cable news networks — CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, Fox Business and CNBC — have hosted more Republican lawmakers to discuss the plan than Democrats by a 2 to 1 ratio this week:
In total, from 6 AM on Monday to 4 PM on Wednesday, the networks have hosted Republican lawmakers 51 times and Democratic lawmakers only 24 times.
All of that said, and with so much more irrefutable, hard data-be-damned to go with it, I've found, when out and about in the world, the "Myth of the Liberal Media" remains, to this day, among the most enduring of all unshakable, faith-based religious tenets of the Hopelessly Wingnutted Dead-Enders.
UPDATE: In related news, Eric Boehlert notices how "Right on cue, the White House press awakens from its Bush slumber," just in time for another Democrat in the Oval Office. Who could have predicted it?