There have been a few pieces of noteworthy news out of Wisconsin over the last few days in advance of their recall election primaries on May 8th (one week from Tuesday) and the recall general elections on June 5th. Some is largely positive for fans of democracy, but some of it, however, is both puzzling and a bit disturbing.
In the upcoming contests, Republican Gov. Scott Walker, his Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and the seats of four Republican state Senators will all face a referendum by the citizenry at the ballot box. The historic elections come more than a year after the GOP took over all branches of state government during the 2010 wave election before proceeding to release the Kraken spark a popular uprising through the tyranny of Big Government removal of a number of citizen rights --- such as collective-bargaining and voting --- along with the heavy-handed implementation of a number of other extreme Rightwing policies.
Here's are several of those late developments --- not concerning the horse races, but concerning the actual track conditions for those races...
For the record, though we hadn't seen it previously, the above juxtaposition of these two stories first made the Internet rounds last year when some described it all as a hoax. Suzy Marinkovich of the Cornell Journal of Law & Public Policy dug in to find out if that was the case, but reported back, that nope, the above stories are indeed both very real.
[Now UPDATED with audio archives from tonight's show below!]
Mike's got the night off, so we're back in tonight guest-hosting the nationally-syndicated Mike Malloy Show on your public airwaves, on the Internet (streaming links below) and on SiriusXM ch. 127!
As usual, we'll be BradCasting, LIVE from 9pm-Mid ET (6p-9p PT), coast-to-coast and around the globe from L.A.'s KTLK am1150 in beautiful downtown Burbank. Join us by tuning in, chatting in, Tweeting in and calling in! Our LIVE chat room will be up and rolling right here at The BRAD BLOG, as usual, while we are on the air. Please stop by and join the fun while you're listening! (The Chat Room will open at the bottom of this item a few minutes before airtime, see down below, just above "Comments" section.)
"If we play Russian Roulette with the Supreme Court," Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) said during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, "if we confirm a nominee who has not demonstrated a commitment to core constitutional values, we jeopardize our rights as individuals and the future of our nation."
"We cannot undo such a mistake at the next election or even in the next generation," he warned. Too bad more of his Democratic colleagues failed to listen.
With four of the nine Supreme Court Justices now in their seventies, and the GOP Senate minority having bottled-up the Obama administration's nominations to the federal trial and intermediate appellate courts, the decision by the presumptive Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, to select Robert Bork (see video below), founder of the ultra-radical, right-wing billionaire-funded Federalist Society as his chief legal adviser has turned the 2012 Presidential election into a new, and far more serious game of "Russian Roulette" --- one that would give the same forces that were behind the Bush v. Gore judicial coup and the infamous Citizens United decision a super majority on the Supreme Court.
The harm to the rule of law that would accompany the expansion from four
Supreme Court radicals in robes to seven could not be remedied, as Kennedy warned, by "the next election or even in the next generation"...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Just a flesh wound? UK smacked by extreme weather whiplash; Sec. Chu talks sexy, sexy energy efficiency; 'Agent Orange Corn'? Dow Chemical says 'Yes, please!'; PLUS: Slow-jamming the news? How about slow-walking climate change? .... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): ExxonMobil profits: $109M a day on America's pocketbook; Wind Tax Credit Stalls in Congress despite bipartisan support; U.S. mad cow find: lucky break or triumph of science?; Cheap, stable, printable liquid solar cells developed; Warm Spring May Mean Drought, Wildfires in West; Warm Ocean Currents Eroding Antarctic Ice Shelves; Coal's Future Is Rocky at Best; On Chernobyl's anniversary, Ukraine warns against nuclear power... PLUS: Donald Trump on 'Monstrous Wind' ... and much, MUCH more! ...
Today on KPFK/Pacifica Radio's The BradCast I interviewed Joyce Block (seen at right), the 90-year old Doylestown, PA resident who has voted legally for 70 years, without fail and without a problem until this year, when the GOP's new polling place Photo ID restriction law threatens to disenfranchise her and so many others like her.
Her story is all the more remarkable considering she was born just two years after the 19th Amendment was ratified, giving women the right to vote --- at least until now. She is a pistol and more than ready for the fight! We were also joined by her grandson-in-law Det Ansinn, the Doylestown Borough Council president who has been working like hell to try and see that Block will be able to vote this year.
Earlier this week, I wrote about Block's remarkable story and the difficulty she's had in receiving one of the so-called "free" IDs, under the new restriction, that would allow her to vote this year, despite all of the paper work she presented to prove that she was who she said she was after a 30 minute-trip to the DMV (thanks to Ansinn!) Today, we got an update on her story, and it includes a bit of good news...sort of.
We were also joined by Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report, and some good callers, including one who wanted to challenge me on gun rights. So I obliged him...
No matter the strongest admonitions against it, for years, by virtually all computer science and security experts to offer an opinion on it --- ya know, the folks who actually know how this stuff works, or doesn't --- proponents of Internet Voting are relentless in their advocacy. Kind of how the proponents of polling place e-voting used to tell us that such schemes were tamper-proof, error-free and much more secure than paper.
No matter how many Internet Voting schemes fall flat on their face (voter participation plummeted 83% when Honolulu tried it), get entirely hacked (even by computers in Iran and China) or are taken down by a 10,000 computer denial of service attack (but that was in Canada, so no biggie, right?), some seem to care so little about transparent, oversee-able democracy and self-governance, that they are willing to risk entire elections and the verifiable votes of the citizenry in order to carry out such dangerous and ill-considered adventures.
And so, yet again, with all of those warnings ignored, we find another online election has been wholly compromised --- and now cancelled --- after it was discovered that a business school student hacked into it and stole hundreds of passwords and IDs, so that he could fix the results of the election...
Oh, neato. Remember that recent disastrous Anchorage, Alaska election I told you about, during which voters were turned away all across the city because not enough ballots were distributed, and where the Deputy Municipal Clerk Jacqueline Duke, responsible for ballot and voting machine distribution, admitted to me that she had told poll workers not to worry if they found voting machine security seals broken on the morning of the election?
Aside from Prop 5, a ballot measure which would have extended anti-discrimination protection to the LGBT community --- which a pre-election poll predicted would win by 9 points (before the Diebold computer tabulators reported that it lost by 16 points) --- Anchorage's Mayor Dan Sullivan was also on the ballot that day.
Unlike Prop 5, however, the anti-Prop 5 mayor reportedly won, according to the Diebold op-scan tabulators, by almost the same exact margin that the same pre-election poll had predicted he would.
And, whaddaya know? There's Mayor Sullivan himself, in the photo above, seen celebrating on St. Patrick's Day with none other than his old employee [PDF] turned Anchorage Deputy Municipal Clerk Jacqueline Duke! (She's the one on the right.)
Neat, eh? I wonder why, according to a source of Alaska radio host, blogger and election integrity advocate Shannyn Moore, Duke scrubbed that photo from her Facebook page recently. I tried to find out and get confirmation, but Duke didn't respond to the email I sent to the address she gave me when we spoke. As a matter of fact, according to The Mudflats' Linda Kellen Biegel, who tried to ask Duke a question at a recent Election Commission meeting called to investigate the continuing mess, the Deputy Municipal Clerk is no longer allowed to speak to anyone in the media.
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: BP Oil Disaster in the Gulf, 2 years on: Bizarre mutations in the Gulf ecosystem; First criminal charges finally filed; BP's billion-dollar settlement on hold; PLUS: Never mind Earth Day --- Mitt Romney wants to double down on coal.... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Blight discovered on citrus tree in CA; CO2 Not all That Good for Plants; Senate Panel Unveils 2012 Farm Bill Overhaul; Fees and Anger Rise in CA Water War; Ban on Some Seafood Has Fishermen Fuming; EPA Battles Examined Through 'Documerica' Photos; 'Garbage' Chemical Threatens CA Valley Water; Mexico Reins in Oil Monopoly; Insurance Comapnies Face Increased Risks from Warming... PLUS: Top Donor Is Confident Romney Secretly Supports 'Climate-Change Controls' ... and much, MUCH more! ...
[NOTE: I interviewed 90-year old Joyce Block from Pennsylvania, the woman discussed in the story below, today (Wed, 4/25) on my KPFK/Pacific Radio show, and she offered a bit of a "good news" update on her story. That interview is now posted here. - BF]
And now it's the voters in Pennsylvania who are beginning to lose their right to vote under new Republican voter suppression laws. The latest story of a citizen having their rights robbed by Big Government GOP disenfranchisement laws is that of Joyce Block, a 90-year old grandmother from Doylestown who has voted for 70 years without a problem --- until now.
We've been reporting for some time on legal voters who are being disenfranchised by Republican-passed polling place Photo ID restrictions around the country. For example, in Indiana there were the 80- and 90-year old nuns who were turned away from the polls in 2008 after that state's first-in-the-nation Photo ID restriction had taken away the rights they'd freely and legally exercised for decades at their own monastery. (They were turned away that year by the poll worker, their fellow sister, who had been forced to follow the new voter suppression law.)
Of course, that same law in the Hoosier State didn't prevent their top election official, charged with overseeing the law, Republican Sec. of State Charlie White, from committing three voter fraud felonies himself. He was found guilty in February of this year and forced to leave office. But these laws aren't actually meant to stop voter fraud. Even proponents of such laws are unable to cite any cases of polling place impersonation --- the only type of voter fraud that could possible be deterred by such laws --- which might have been prevented in their state by polling place Photo ID restrictions. These laws are meant solely to disenfranchise perfectly legal, usually Democratic-leaning voters who disproportionately lack the type of ID now needed to vote in states where these laws have been approved.
We told you about 87-year old Ruthelle Frank, an elected town official in Wisconsin who would have to come up with more than $200 for her "free" ID to vote under the GOP's new law there. And then there was 77-year old Bettye Jones for whom it would be strictly impossible to vote at all under WI's law which was, thankfully, recently found to be in violation of the state Constitution by two separate judges in two separate lawsuits in the Badger State.
Down in Tennessee, we told you about 96-year old Dorothy Cooper who was denied a "free" Photo ID, as now needed to vote there, even though she had her birth certificate to prove she was who she said she was. And we also highlighted 93-year old Thelma Mitchell, who used to clean the Governor's office in the statehouse, but was told that her ID was no longer good enough to cast a vote in the Volunteer State.
We could, of course, go on and on and on with such examples, even as we could detail the many high-profile Republicans who have committed voter fraud --- folks like Mitt Romney and Ann Coulter and many others, to name just a few --- who would not have been prevented from committing their crimes even under Photo ID restrictions, because that's not how voter fraud generally occurs and not the sort of voters these laws are meant to disenfranchise. It is, however, a swell way to keep hundreds of thousands, even millions, of perfectly legal --- largely elderly, minority and student (read: Democratic leaning) --- voters from being able to cast their legal vote.
And now, in Pennsylvania, the most recent state where Republicans have approved a polling place Photo ID restriction law --- and where the state's Republican Governor Tom Corbett blatantly lied about it to the media --- we see the 90-year old grandmother-in-law of a local Borough Council president who looks as if she'll be forced to break her perfect 70-year voting record this November, as she too is unable to receive the supposedly "free" ID soon required to vote in the Keystone State...
"Earth Week" has culminated in today's Earth Day, that brief period once a year when you might actually see an in-depth green story, series, or panel discussion about an environmental topic on TV, or hear a few on the radio. Newspapers and magazines can be counted on to do an eco-themed article in late April, but that’s about it.
Sadly, that’s about all the consistent coverage we’ve gotten from mainstream commercial media over the past 15 years. That’s how long I’ve been focused on this odd programming void. While that reality remains unchanged, ecologically and meteorologically speaking, there’s been a groundswell of dramatic events.
This year I caught NBC’s Today Show --- as part of their “Green Is Universal” week (if it were truly “universal” shouldn’t we see coverage more than once a year?) – doing the obligatory eco-friendly products display, featuring bamboo plates, doormats woven from used lobster twine and purses made from aluminum can tabs and candy wrappers. Nice and feel-good, but is this the most useful and deepest offering on a once-a-year occasion? We’ve come a long way since recycling was our biggest environmental concern, no?
Earth Day Lite, as I call it, is almost a Hallmark holiday – expressed on recycled content cards of course. It’s as predictable as the climate has become UNpredictable. With glaciers melting, sea levels rising and freak storms taking lives and livelihoods at a record rate, why have we not progressed in our coverage of the environment, our life support system, and the tenor of these topics, for the most part, remains unchanged?
Is it because Americans have short attention spans, low tolerance for disturbing news, are just too busy to bother, and programmers fear such content will be a turn-off? I suspect it’s a little of all the above.
The environmental threats facing our country and planet have deepened, grown exponentially in number and complexity --- which is what usually happens when problems are ignored --- and yet, media coverage has, as anemic as it was, actually decreased.
According to Media Matters of America, the major networks --- ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox --- significantly decreased their coverage of climate change between 2009 and 2011 while spending twice as much time discussing Donald Trump as they did our worsening climate. If they compared how often Kim Kardashian “made news” vs. climate change, she would also likely come out on top. Perhaps if we called it "Kim Kardashian’s Climate Change" more Americans would tune in?...
Several weeks ago we told you that Kathy Nickolaus, the controversial and oft-failed County Clerk of Waukesha County, WI, was stepping aside for the state's upcoming recall primary and general elections on May 8 and June 5.
The news that she would not be performing her usual election administration duties came on the heels of yet another embarrassing debacle in the state's most Republican county during their April 3rd Presidential Primary.
Nickolaus' decision to temporarily hand over her duties to Waukesha's Deputy Clerk Kelly Yaeger for the two recall elections was prompted after calls for her resignation by the chair of the County Executive Board as well as local newspapers. The most recent mess was said to have been caused by a failure of her computer system to upload computer-reported elections results of county municipalities until 6am on the morning following that election.
The temporary replacement by her Deputy offered little comfort for Washburn. Prompted by recent disturbing news that elections run on electronic tabulation systems identical to those used in Waukesha County had recently been found to have named several losing candidates as "winners" in elections in a different state, Washburn, a Republican, suggested he had little basis for confidence in whatever reported results might come out of the state's most Republican-leaning county in the upcoming recalls.
It appears that Washburn is not alone. Late Friday, it was reported that a number of the municipalities in Waukesha will be bypassing the County Clerk's office entirely by first sending their election night results straight to the Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.), the state's top election agency. But it may be new concerns about computer-tallied results in the Badger State that present even greater problems for the historic elections beginning next month in the Badger State...