Staring down -- and making sense of -- Trump's cowardly threats against a peaceful transition and to democracy itself; Also: Accountability coming soon for Trump Family in NY; And, yes, even TX is now in play...
Palm Beach Post'sGeorge Bennet wrote last week about how so-called "Tea Party" groups seem to be running away from the "Tea Party" name in places like Florida.
The South Florida Tea Party, for example --- the one that helped launch the national career of Sen. Marco Rubio and hosted Donald Trump while he was initially pretending to think about running for President --- is changing their name to the National Liberty Federation.
"As Tea Party groups go," observes Steven Benen at MaddowBlog, "the South Florida Tea Party was one of the bigger and better organized outfits."
But it's little wonder these folks are running from the name. Their popularity, and their name brand, is now plummeting along with the fortunes of the Congressional Republican Party. As Bennet notes, even Rightwing pollsters like Rasmussen are finding that support for the "Tea Party" movement is absolutely cratering...
While the short answer is that it is no doubt protected against criminal prosecution by the Speech or Debate Clause of the U.S. Constitution, one can't help but think of how the successive efforts by radical 'Tea Party' Republicans, first during the manufactured "fiscal cliff" crisis, and now by way of holding a figurative gun to the head of the nation's and world's economy, in order to extract concessions that would destroy the New Deal safety net (see two Jan. 14 segments of the Ed Schultz show below), resembles the crime of extortion, perhaps even treason.
For those of us who live in California, this latest round of GOP hostage-taking comes as no surprise. Year-after-year, the CA GOP utilized the Golden State's requirement of a 2/3 vote for passage of either spending or revenue enhancing measures as a means to force austerity, such as former Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's draconian $15 billion cuts to education and health care. By refusing to pass a budget, the CA GOP at one point forced the state controller to issue $2.6 billion in IOUs. And, all during the CA GOP reign of economic terror, the Golden State's budget deficit expanded --- reaching an indebtedness in excess of $20 billion despite those massive cuts.
Democracy struck back. The percentage of CA voters who are registered Republicans dropped to less than 30%. During the 2012 election, CA voters passed a relatively progressive, revenue-enhancing tax measure supported by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) by a wide margin and the GOP's ability to hold the state hostage was eliminated when Democrats achieved a super-majority in the state legislature.
As a result, fiscal sanity was restored. CA is now on track to achieving a budget surplus even as $5.2 billion has been added to the state's school, university and health care budgets.
It is appropriate that President Barack Obama, who unfortunately lacks a record of holding fast to principle, has, so far, stated that he will not give in to the latest extortion demands concerning the upcoming need to raise the debt ceiling once again. But, given the nature of the far greater damage to both the U.S. and even global economy that could be wrought by the Congressional GOP's latest round of hostage-taking, can the nation or the world await a subsequent election to deal with extortion by an organization, the so-called 'Tea Party,' that is funded and controlled by the rapacious billionaires Charles and David Koch, whose Koch Industries was described by William Koch, David's twin, as a form of "organized crime?"
Two 1/14/2013 segments of MSNBC's The Ed Show addressing GOP hostage-taking on the debt ceiling follow below...
On Election Day this year, their own observers were barred from monitoring the polls in Franklin County, OH, after the county's bipartisan Board of Elections had determined that the group had "forged" and photocopied the signatures of candidates needed to allow the group's poll monitors access to precincts in the county during the Nov. 6 Presidential Election.
That's the same True the Vote who also used a fraudulent photo of an African-American woman holding up a (Photoshopped) sign reading "I ONLY GOT TO VOTE ONCE!" in a well-polished video used to announce their national launch back in 2010. (The real photo, before it was faked, reveals the woman holding up a sign at a Florida protest during that state's Presidential Election debacle in 2000. The sign actually read, ironically enough, "DON'T MESS WITH OUR VOTES".)
It's also the same True the Vote which claimed 501(c)3 non-profit status as a "non-partisan" charity, only to be found to be quite partisan indeed by a Texas court. Their lie about their non-partisan, not-for-profit status resulted in the group --- formed as an off-spring of the Houston-based Tea Party group calling itself King Street Patriots, by the same officers at the exact same address --- having to return a $35,000 charitable grant from a foundation which also backs the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity.
So the group knows very well what actual fraud is. The problem, however, is that the Rightwing group enjoys dishonestly scamming their supporters by pretending that all "voter fraud" --- even absentee ballot fraud or voter registration fraud that doesn't even result in a vote --- is evidence that polling place Photo ID restriction laws are needed to combat a scourge of nationwide "voter fraud" being committed on a systemic basis by, of course, Democrats.
In the bargain --- as the successful pattern of Rightwing propaganda has long worked --- pretend "news" outlets such as Tucker Carlson's The Daily Caller go on to cite True the Vote's claims as if it was actual "evidence" supporting the dishonest agenda that both groups hope to forward. That's exactly what happened last week when The Daily Caller, in an article related to the battle over polling place Photo ID restriction laws cited a list of supposed "voter fraud convictions in 46 states" at True the Vote's website.
You'll be shocked --- SHOCKED! --- to learn that True the Vote's list not only doesn't include "convictions in 46 states", it doesn't even include one single conviction, prosecution or even allegation of the type of "voter fraud" that the polling place Photo ID restriction laws both The Daily Caller and True the Vote are advocating for are supposedly designed to prevent.
In short, both The Daily Caller and True the Vote are using fraudulent claims to push for laws to prevent "voter fraud". We told you you'd be SHOCKED!...
For two weeks since Election Day, we have been working to ensure every vote is counted accurately and fairly. We have made progress towards that goal, thanks to the dedication of our supporters and their unrelenting efforts to protect the integrity of the democratic process. While many questions remain unanswered, today I am announcing that I will take no further action to contest the outcome of this election.
While there are certainly still inaccuracies in the results, and the actions of the St. Lucie County and Palm Beach County Supervisors of Elections rightly raise questions in my mind and for many voters, after much analysis and this past weekend's recount in St. Lucie County, our legal team does not believe there are enough over-counted, undercounted or fraudulent votes to change the outcome of the election.
While a contest of the election results might have changed the vote totals, we do not have evidence that the outcome would change. Given the extremely high evidentiary hurdles involved in a successful challenge, I will not ask my generous supporters to help fund a drawn-out, expensive legal effort with little chance of success. Therefore, we will not contest the certification or challenge the seating of Congressman-elect Murphy.
Serving the people in the House of Representatives has been among the highest honors of my life, but this seat does not belong to me, or for that matter, to any individual. It belongs to the people.
I want to congratulate my opponent, Patrick Murphy, as the new Congressman from the 18th Congressional District. I pray he will serve his constituents with honor and integrity, and put the interests of our nation before his own.
With West's concession, however, there are still a few points to keep in mind moving forward...
It was a crazy weekend --- and that may be an understatement --- in St. Lucie County, Florida, as the fight continued over the questionable, completely unverified-by-humans, and extremely close computer-reported election results between Rep. Allen West (R) and Patrick Murphy (D) in the U.S. House race for Florida's 18th Congressional District.
Two things, if nothing else however, have become clear. 1) The Florida Democrats supporting the unverified computer-tallied results, which reportedly offer a slim margin in Murphy's favor, have become virtually indistinguishable from the Republicans who supported George W. Bush over Al Gore in the state during the 2000 Presidential Election debacle, and for the same, unjustifiable and partisan reasons. 2) Allen West has terrible and incompetent election attorneys.
Here's a recap of all that has happened --- and there has been quite a bit --- over the weekend, since we last covered the race on Friday, just after a St. Lucie Circuit Court judge denied West's motion demanding a retabulation of all eight days of Early Voting ballots in the county and just before the county's Canvassing Board took up the same issue shortly thereafter in what became a seven hour meeting of the board to determine how to proceed.
(And all of that in the wake of a previous partial retally of three out of eight days worth of early votes had resulted in the unexplained disappearance of some 800 votes when the same paper ballots were run through the same machines a second time due to unexplained "issues" with the electronic tabulation systems the first time around. That initial re-tally had resulted in a net gain of some 500 votes by West.)
The insane weekend events included a two-day machine "retabulation" of all Early Voting ballots in St. Lucie (one of three counties, along with Martin and Palm Beach, that make up FL-18); the discovery of more than 300 previously-untallied early ballots in the same county; new computer-reported tallies resulting in pick-ups by both candidates, for an overall gain of nearly 300 votes by the current leader Murphy; and a County Supervisor of Elections who ended up spending the weekend in the hospital...
Lisa Graves, of The Center for Media and Democracy [CMD], is "asking citizens to contact their Senator and demand hearings on the way 'dark money' has stealthily influenced the election." The CMD's proposal includes a specific demand that Charles and David Koch be subpoenaed to testify --- something which, Graves explains, the oil and chemical magnate brothers evaded some 15 years ago when U.S. Senator Fred Thompson (R-TN) blocked efforts to force them to testify about their use of front groups to influence elections.
Unlike the GOP, whose calls for "Watergate-style" Benghazi hearings have been described as "political theater," the incoming 55-member Senate Democratic Caucus is in a position to conduct a broad and thorough set of hearings that could expose the ever-present threat to the very survival of democratic governance by what former Vice President Henry A. Wallace described as "the American fascist."
Coming within the context of near universal opposition to the flood of corporate money that drown out the voices of ordinary citizens, such hearings could also serve to catapult growing calls to not only overturn the infamous Citizens United decision but to end the concept of "corporate personhood" and establish that money is not "free speech."
A Circuit Court Judge in St. Lucie County today denied Florida's Republican Rep. Allen West's motion to order a re-tally of all Early Voting ballots in the county, after a partial re-tally of Early Votes last Sunday resulted in the disappearance of some 800 votes in the FL-18 U.S. House race between West and Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy.
It the second denial for West, a "Tea Party" favorite, in a Florida court room, where he had previously filed a motion to impound paper ballots and voting systems before all ballots had even yet been run through them.
"In denying West's motion," the paper said, "Vaughn noted the [St. Lucie County] canvassing board is considering the issue at a meeting this afternoon. The judge also said that West has other legal remedies - specifically mentioning a statute that allows a candidate to contest an election within 10 days of the final certification of results. That certification is scheduled for Tuesday."
Murphy's attorney argued in response that there was "no basis for a full recount of early votes and if the canvassing board orders a full recount of them, the Murphy campaign will go to court to try to block it."
"If the canvassing board were to decide that they want to do that without any evidentiary basis to do so, we'll be back before your honor with a motion for injunctive relief against them doing it because under the law the statute that we cited for your honor they have absolutely no right to do it," the Post quotes Murphy attorney Gerald Richman as arguing in court today.
No "evidentiary basis"? Really? A partial selection of ballots --- just the last three days of eight days of Early Voting --- are re-tallied by the same machines that tallied them originally, but give a completely different result the second time they are tallied and that isn't "evidentiary basis" for re-tallying all of the votes? If that isn't a basis for a full public hand-count of all ballots, I'm not sure what is. Unfortunately, without a court order, thanks to the state's Republican legislature following the 2000 Presidential Election debacle in that state, it's illegal to hand-count paper ballots once they've been tallied by an electronic machine.
[Update: See bottom of story for update on what happened at the canvassing board on Friday, and much more!]
I was on Thom Hartmann's TV show, The Big Picture, last night to discuss the FL-18 U.S. House mess where West currently trails Murphy by a very slim margin, according to oft-failed, easily-manipulated, paper ballot optical-scan computers made by three different private companies in the three different counties that make up Florida's newly redistricted 18th Congressional District.
As we've covered in detail here at The BRAD BLOG, a margin of some 2,400 votes out of some 330,000 votes tallied as of last Friday was dwindled down to just under 2,000 votes as of last Sunday when St. Lucie County --- one of the three, along with Martin and Palm Beach Counties, that make up FL-18 --- carried out a partial re-tally of Early Voting ballots due, they say, to an unexplained "issue" on the Diebold optical-scan systems used to tally those ballots in the county.
Nonetheless, at this time, West is still some 250 votes shy of a mandated state "recount" which is triggered when the margin is .5% or less. Currently, the margin is just eight one-hundredths of a percentage point shy of that mark, at .58%, with West having filed his court for an expanded re-tally of all Early Voting ballots in St. Lucie earlier this week. While his court motion had called for a full re-tally of all Early Votes in St. Lucie, the motion failed to request a re-tally of either Election Day votes, absentee ballots or any of the ballots in FL-18's other two counties, for unexplained reasons (the West campaign has not replied to our queries on that) as we also discussed on Hartmann's show...
West did file an amended complaint this morning before the hearing, seeking a re-tally of absentee ballots in St. Lucie as well, after the campaign claimed they had found "significant problems" with the records for some of those votes, charging that the number of absentee ballots in some precincts exceeds the number of voters listed as casting absentee ballots there...
And, by the way, for those GOP dupes who point to that infamous --- and extremely misleading --- Red/Blue map of states as evidence of...anything, really, here's a much more helpful map of what the U.S. actually looks like right now, such as where there are actually people and stuff, courtesy of TPM:
Hurricane Sandy demolished the policies of individual greed that found their most absurd application in Mitt Romney's prior proposal to privatize disaster relief. The super storm tested the inner resolve and character of a Republican governor, who was forced to choose between the doctrinaire insanity required by his dirty energy billionaire benefactors and responsible governance that, of necessity, includes coordination of critical disaster relief between federal, state and local agencies.
If there's a silver lining to be found in the death and devastation, it exists in how disaster can bring out the best in individuals operating together as a community and in the public function of government of, by and for the people...
On Election Night, Democrats and progressives celebrated the reported defeat of far Rightwing Tea Party-backed Rep. Allen West (R-FL22) by his Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy in Florida's newly redistricted 18th Congressional district in Eastern Florida.
With precinct votes unofficially tabulated in the three counties which comprise the new Democratic-leaning district --- Martin, St. Lucie and part of Palm Beach --- Murphy reportedly leads West by 2,456 votes out of 318,200 electronically tallied to date. That number does not include what West's campaign manager describes as "tens of thousands of absentee ballots to be counted in Palm Beach County and potential provisional ballots across the district."
Nonetheless, Murphy has declared victory, which carries no particular legal weight, while West has filed legal documents in St. Lucie and Palm Beach calling for the impounding of voting systems, paper ballots and a hand-count of those ballots.
West may be a far Right extremist. A fair amount of evidence even suggests that West may be certifiably insane. But, even far right, possibly insane candidates, and especially their supporters, deserve to have their votes counted in a way that they can know, for certain, that they either won or lost an election.
Given the oft-failed, easily-manipulated, unoverseeable electronic voting and tabulation systems --- each with a long and well-documented record of failure and miscounts --- used in the three counties that make up Florida's new 18th district (as well as the rest of the state of Florida, and the rest of the 50 states for that matter), West and his supporters have every reason to demand a public, 100% hand-count of paper ballots before conceding defeat. Particularly in an election with such a slim margin, as reported by the flawed electronic systems, said to stand between the two candidates...
As this year’s election comes to a close, True the Vote, a Texas Tea Party group, has begun attacking the NAACP Houston Branch and our volunteer poll monitors for handing out water to voters at Early Vote locations and for assisting Disabled and Elderly voters by standing in line for them or asking younger people in line to let the elderly and disabled go ahead of them in the line to vote.
Carroll G. Robinson, Chairman of the NAACP Houston Branch Political Affairs Committee said, “It is a shame that the NAACP Houston Branch and its volunteers are being attacked by a right wing extremist group for being “Good Samaritans”. The NAACP will continue to help elderly and disabled voters, as well as all other voters, exercise their right to vote.”
Chairman Robinson further stated, “The NAACP is not afraid of being attacked by an extremist Tea Party group for doing our job – helping to protect the right to vote and ensuring that when people show up at the polls, they get to vote.”
Well, imagine that, the very first reported fraud of Election Day 2012 appears to have been committed by the supposedly anti-fraud, Rightwing "election integrity" group, True the Vote, in Ohio. Their election observers poll-challengers, as Plunderbund reports, "will not be allowed in Franklin County polling locations" today after they appear to have forged signatures of their very own volunteers...
There is much, much more in-between our cuts here, including a storyline involving a hacking scandal that mirrors Rupert Murdoch and Newscorp's, but at the core of the recent Season 1 finale of HBO's "must-see" Aaron Sorkin seriesThe Newsroom, was the nationwide Republican voter suppression effort.
Specifically, the finale centers around the GOP-enacted polling place Photo ID restriction laws that may serve to keep tens of thousands, including 96-year old Tennessee resident Dorothy Cooper (who The BRAD BLOG reported on last year) from being able to cast her vote this year, even after she's been legally voting there for 75 years without a problem --- even during the Jim Crow era in the South.
Is Sorkin reading The BRAD BLOG? Among other evidence throughout the season that suggests as much, one character, as you'll hear in the clip below, charges, as we often have, that this issue deserves much greater prominence in the corporate mainstream media. In regard Cooper and the spate of Republican voter suppression laws that may well determine the outcome of this year's elections, the character demands to know: "I wanna know why I don't see it on the news?!...Why isn't this the first story on the news every night?!"...
(For much more of the news monologue by Will Macavoy (Jeff Daniels) on Republicans and the Tea Party in this particular episode, see this version which has received almost 2 million views on YouTube, and includes his entire speech, though it lacks the key hospital scene seen above.)
When we first wrote about The Newsroom in July after its premiere, we suggested that the show was worth subscribing to HBO for, all on its own. While it continues to be flawed in some respects --- most notably in some of its soap opera-ish elements, and some of the casting --- it is still absolutely must-see TV in our opinion.
The show's focus on what it might look like if a mainstream corporate media outlet actually decided to focus on covering the actual news that the nation needs to become a more informed electorate --- exposing the many Breitbartian scams of Fox "News" and today's GOP and the Koch Brothers and their astroturf Tea Party along the way, using real breaking news events and footage along the way --- could well, as we wrote at the time, "change the way actual news is reported in this nation." There is even evidence, perhaps, that it may have even already done so, to an extent.
Though the first season is now over, the show has been renewed for Season 2. In the meantime, all of the episodes are available to HBO subscribers via On Demand and HBO GO, so it's still well worth jumping into from the start (the first episode is available to all here), before the next season begins.
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: It's official: Worst. Fire Season. Ever.; Rep. Todd Akin is not the only anti-science Republican in the US House; More industrial farming animal abuse; China ventures into the unfrozen Arctic; PLUS: Brain-eating amoebas thriving in Oklahoma ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Record radiation found in Fukushima fish; US court strikes down new EPA pollution rules; Chevron refinery fire was 'a close call'; India blackout and the costs of air conditioning; Agriculture is a major water pollution culprit; Shell inks $1b deal to frack in China ... PLUS: Keystone XL construction begins: 'When This Oil Spills, It's 'A Whole New Monster' ... and much, MUCH more! ...
In that piece, he famously declared, "The Democrats have their share of machine politicians, careerists, corporate bagmen, egomaniacs and kooks. Nothing, however, quite matches the modern GOP."
The Party Is Over is more than an extension of the Truth-Out piece; in fact, it is the best description of the intellectual and moral collapse of Washington since Sam Tanenhaus's The Death of Conservatism…