Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Carole Aichele, testifying Tuesday during a state trial on the state’s controversial voter ID law, said she wasn’t sure about the details of the law, but stood by her unsupported claim that 99 percent of voters had valid identification.
“I don’t know what the law says,” Aichele said under questioning, according to CBS.
Aichele also couldn’t provide any evidence that 99 percent of voters already have a valid form of ID, as the state has claimed. CBS reported that when lawyers cited testimony from a Department of State official calling the number likely inaccurate, Aichele responded "I disagree."
Wow. Aichele is a Republican. Her husband is Republican Gov. Tom Corbett's chief of staff. Corbett was recently forced to admit that he had no clue what type of ID was now required to vote under the new law he recently signed.
Not since Arizona's Jan Brewer was promoted by Barack Obama from Sec. of State to Governor, has a state had such a clueless dope as their top election official, apparently. And here I thought the previous Secretary of the Commonwealth, Pedro Cortes, a Democrat, was a disaster back in 2008. I guess the bar is getting pretty low for state election officials in PA!...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Food v. Fuel in fight over corn ethanol, as the nation's record drought continues; Massive power blackouts in India; Germany breaks another world solar record (we don't); PLUS: CLIMATE SCIENCE BOMBSHELL: Prominent, Koch Brothers-funded skeptic discovers global warming is real...and man-made ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): Breaking: judge tosses new EPA mining rules; WV: Mountaintop removal coal mining has harmed 22% of streams; WI: New Enbridge pipeline spill complicates proposed pipeline; Drought woes impacting oil & gas industry; Romney wants wind energy tax credits to expire (but not oil subsidies!); Pacific Coral Triangle at risk; Study: US storms are bigger; Make way for more 'grolar' and 'pizzly' bears ... PLUS: Is this your new electric car?: GE announces electric motor breakthrough ... and much, MUCH more! ...
Worse, thousands of them, as the paper details, were disqualified due to no fault of voters...
Each election year, Ohio residents cast thousands of ballots that are not counted.
Despite efforts to simplify the state's voting to avoid widespread discarding of ballots, it could happen again in November's presidential race.
The Enquirer, during a weeks-long examination of the state's electoral procedures, found that voting - America's most precious right and the foundation for all others - is a fragile civic exercise for many Ohioans.
A confusing maze of state laws, administrative directives and court rulings on voting procedures, errors - by voters and poll workers alike - and other factors cause large numbers of ballots to end up in the electoral trash can every year, particularly in urban counties.
In Hamilton County alone, hundreds of votes are routinely disqualified in major statewide elections because they are cast in the wrong precinct, often only feet from the correct location. Hundreds more votes have been tossed out for another relatively minor miscue: voters' failure to seal an inner envelope containing their absentee ballot.
The report goes on to warn that, unless there are changes made to the state's election laws and procedures --- including the implementation of changes recommended by state election officials after the 2008 contest --- "tens of thousands of ballots are likely to be disqualified" in the key swing-state, once again, during the 2012 Presidential election...
The horror that played out during the recent midnight massacre inside a Century theater in Aurora, CO is but the latest example of the danger posed to our safety and our very lives by the radical right's expansive interpretation of the Second Amendment.
On June 28, 2008, that view --- that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess a firearm unconnected to service in a state militia --- became the law of the land, courtesy of the U.S. Supreme Court's hard right quintet's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller ("Heller") --- a 5-4 decision that ignored precedent, history and basic rules of constitutional interpretation.
Heller not only elevated the profits of the domestic small arms industry above the ability of government to protect our safety, our general welfare, our domestic tranquility and our very lives, but provided a disturbing new context to the eerily prescient 1991 warning provided by Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) when he likened the confirmation of Clarence Thomas as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court to a game of "Russian Roulette"...
Well, this sounds familiar, and for good reason...
In a 630-page deposition, released to the press yesterday, former Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer described a systemic effort by Republicans to suppress the black vote. Referring to a 2009 meeting with party officials, Greer said "I was upset because the political consultants and staff were talking about voter suppression and keeping blacks from voting." He also said party officials discussed how "minority outreach programs were not fit for the Republican Party." Florida is currently embroiled in a controversy surrounding Gov. Rick Scott's (R) voter purge program, which disproportionately affects voters of color. Fifty-eight percent of Scott's original list of voters who were supposedly ineligible to voter were Hispanic while Hispanics make up only 13 percent of Florida's eligible voters. Greer and the GOP cut ties in 2010, and he is currently facing felony corruption charges.
In the debate over new laws meant to curb voter fraud in places like Florida, Democrats always charge that Republicans are trying to suppress the vote of liberal voting blocs like blacks and young people, while Republicans just laugh at such ludicrous and offensive accusations.
The entire matter echoes back to our initial 2004 exclusive on then Republican software programmer turned whistleblower Clint Curtis who had filed a sworn affidavit charging Florida Republican Tom Feeney had asked his company, Yang Enterprises, Inc. (YEI), to create a vote-rigging software prototype in 2000.
At the time of his alleged meetings with Feeney, Curtis says the Congressman --- who had been Jeb Bush's Lt. Governor running mate in 1998 before becoming Speaker of the FL House and one of the most powerful elected officials in the state by 2000 --- discussed methods that he said the Republican Party had in place to "reduce the black vote" in the 2000 Presidential election.
If you want to see pure madness in action, ask a Republican friend about Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, the creator of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, who will face US Senator Scott Brown (R-MA) in one of the most high-profile races of the year.
Chances are, your Fox "News"-watching friend will turn beet-red within a half-second, swearing and sputtering about her supposed socialism and attacking her as the mascot of the Occupy movement. There's just something about Warren that sends the right into 'roid rage. Is it something she said --- or just something she represents?...
Last April, in an article which covered an ethics complaint filed by the Center for Media and Democracy against 43 Republican state legislators, The BRAD BLOG went to great lengths to explain how the "legislative task force" system employed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was not merely subverting but supplanting our representative form of democracy. It was an article that would later be reprinted by The American Trial Lawyer magazine.
But, leave it to a Pulitzer-prize winning cartoonist, like Mark Fiore, to provide a more succinct explanation of the same phenomenon in this relatively short but powerful animated toon...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Drought expands in the US, and it's gonna cost ya; Obama Admin expands solar lands --- while Fox 'News' whines about it; US Navy's Great Green Fleet sails to success; Heat records shattered in St. Louis; PLUS: Shocking ice melt across Greenland ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): David Letterman On Fracking: 'We're Screwed; Rise in Weather Extremes Threatens Infrastructure; 70% of Arctic ice loss is due to climate change; Could Africa hold the answers to America's drought woes?; U.S. cities unprepared for future heat waves; Winning the carbon tax debate; Geo-engineering, storms may speed up ozone loss ... PLUS: The environment is trying to ruin the Olympics again ... and much, MUCH more! ...
Ever wonder what one of my blog items sounds like inside my own brain when I write it? On today's BradCast on KPFK/Pacifica Radio (audio posted below), listeners got a bit of an idea, as the terrorist-enabling NRA, in the wake of their Aurora, CO Massacre, was squarely in my sights.
Sadly, they were too busy praying or lying or raising money off the tragedy or something, to show up and defend their deadly positions, so today's show was just me, and a bunch of great callers who, unlike the terrorist-enabling NRA, were not afraid to come on our public airwaves to offer their positions in the public square over our public airwaves.
For the record, here are the folks who declined to show up and support their deadly positions on the show today, or who simply didn't respond at all to our invitation to appear. Yes, we really believe in offering opportunities for all legitimate positions to be heard over our public airwaves...
National Rifle Association (NRA): "We believe that now is the time for families to grieve and for the community to heal. There will be an appropriate time down the road to engage in political and policy discussions."
NRA Official State Associations
Colorado State Shooting Association: "While we appreciate your efforts to present the perspective of gun rights organizations such as CSSA on your program, we are unable to accommodate your request."
Arizona State Rifle & Pistol Assocation: "I am sorry but all we are doing is concentrating on our total support and prayers for those families. I know many are jumping on the bandwagon to ban this or do away with the Constitutions guarantees and such but they are always ready to strike out at folks like us in the gun culture. ... Please forgive me for forgoing the interview. When emotions are more level, I would possibly do an interview. ... Thanks so much for your understanding."
California Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc.: no response
Arkansas Rifle & Pistol Association: no response
Florida Sport Shooting Association, Inc.: no response
Texas State Rifle Association: no response
Politicians with A+ or A grade from the NRA
Rep. Paul C. Broun (R-GA): declined
Former AZ State Senator Russell Pearce (R): declined
Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA): no response
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA): no response
Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MI): no response
Rep. Sam Graves (R-MO): no response
Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-TX): no response
Here's today's show, which also includes a few minutes on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's stunning admission that there is no known case of in-person voter fraud --- the only kind of voter fraud that might be deterred by the GOP's new polling place Photo ID restriction there --- in the history of the state, and a quick visit from Desi Doyen with the latest Green News Report...
A BRAD BLOG investigation by Ernest A. Canning & Brad Friedman
Florida Governor Rick Scott's attempted purge of "potential non-citizen" voters --- a purge which Scott's Republican predecessor Gov. Charlie Crist described last week as a "shameless," "mean-spirited," "insidious" and "sweeping" effort to gain partisan advantage "under the guise of removing non-U.S. citizens" --- has been an abject failure.
Scott's claims of success in unearthing "non-citizens" said to be registered to vote in the Sunshine State, repeated by his hand-picked Sec. of State Ken Detzner and uncritically echoed by a compliant mainstream corporate media, have amounted to less --- far less --- than meets the eye.
Over the course of our months-long investigation, which included public records requests and interviews with state and county officials, The BRAD BLOG has discovered that the Scott/Detzner claim of having captured some 107 "non-citizens" on the Sunshine State voter rolls as a result of their purge is, at best, a reckless overstatement. Yet, that number (107), which Scott described as "alarming," has been uncritically accepted as fact by corporate mainstream media.
Even if it had been accurate, 107 would amount to an infinitesimal percentage of the original 182,000 who had initially been identified as "potential non-citizens" by Florida officials --- 107 as against Florida's 11.2 million legally registered voters, with an untold number of perfectly legal voters threatened with losing their right to vote as collateral damage of the state's attempted purge.
But the 107 number isn't even close to being accurate. To the contrary, Florida election officials have been unable to confirm that more than ten percent of those whom Scott and Detzner claim their purge captured were in fact non-citizens.
For example, in the two counties, Lee and Collier, where 92 of Scott and Detzner's claimed 107 have been removed, just nine (9) of them have actually been verified, to date, as "non-citizens" named by Scott and Detzner on their list of "potential non-citizens" sent to county election officials for purging earlier this year. The rest have either been removed from the rolls without independent verification of whether or not they are lawfully registered U.S. citizens, or they were removed after their names surfaced on a separate list that had nothing to do with the list compiled by Scott and Detzner. That separate list, as gathered by a local news outlet, similarly, may or may not accurately identify the named registered voters as "non-citizens".
Despite the extraordinary failure to date, Scott and Detzner have repeatedly proclaimed "victory" in their voter purge scheme. Making matters worse for the general populace trying to make sense of what is actually going on, numerous corporate-owned media outlets have compliantly echoed their extraordinarily misleading and deceptive spin...
Our best to Ed Schultz whose wife, he has just announced, is now battling ovarian cancer.
In the past hour, I was a guest on his radio show which is being guest hosted this week by Mike Papantonio of Ring Of Fire. Afterwards, the MSNBC prime time TV and radio host called in to the show to make the teary announcement and offer an update on his wife Wendy, who, he says, is just out of surgery, and will soon be recovering at home, after learning just last Wednesday about her illness.
Schultz said her fight to recover would take a while, so his radio and TV shows were, understandably, not at the front of his mind right now. The fiery and feisty progressive thanked his staff at both shows for covering for him during what he expects to be a prolonged absence from each program.
We've been on Ed's radio show many times over the years, and appeared as well on his TV program late last year. Our thoughts and prayers go out to him, Wendy and their family during this difficult time.
* * *
UPDATE: Here is Ed's call into his own show (appx 6 mins), just after the top of the 1p ET hour, announcing his wife's battle with cancer. Thanks to the crews at Ring Of Fire and the Ed Schultz Show for sending over the audio...
Last night we offered some very encouraging news about an apparent federal challenge, in the works by the U.S. Dept of Justice, against the state of Pennsylvania's disenfranchising, GOP-enacted, polling place Photo ID restriction law. Today's news is even more encouraging!
The stipulation agrees, in plain language, that there has never been a known case of in-person voter fraud --- the only type of voter fraud that can even possibly be deterred by such restrictions --- in the history of the Keystone State, or even in other states, for that matter...
Petitioners and Respondents, by and through their undersigned counsel, hereby stipulate as follows:
1. There have been no investigations or prosecutions of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania; and the parties do not have direct personal knowledge of any such investigations or prosecutions in other states;
2. The parties are not aware of any incidents of in-person voter fraud in Pennsylvania and do not have direct personal knowledge of in person voter fraud elsewhere;
3. Respondents will not offer any evidence in this action that in-person voter fraud has in fact occurred in Pennsylvania or elsewhere;
5. Respondents will not offer any evidence or argument that in person voter fraud is likely to occur in November 2012 in the absence of the Photo ID law.
I don't think it can be stated any plainer. The GOP's polling place Photo ID restriction, which they have passed under the guise that it is needed to prevent "voter fraud", is, itself, a fraud.
Of course, we've been arguing this point for some time (going on 10 years, in fact). In state after state where these laws have been passed by Republican legislatures and signed by Republican governors on the basis that they are needed to curb "voter fraud", the proponents of the laws in every state have been unable to offer even a single historical case of voter fraud in their state which would have been prevented by these measures.
In other words, these laws are not meant to curb "voter fraud", they are meant to curb voting --- specifically, by people who don't have the type of state-issued Photo ID required under these new laws. In the case of PA, that amounts to some 750,000 legally eligible voters, by the state's own numbers --- more voters than Obama won the state by in 2008. The voters most effected by these laws, as study after study have shown for years, are far and away more Democratic-leaning than Republican.
That's the entire story on these purposely disenfranchising voter suppression laws. Period. Always has been, always will be. That, despite the unforgivably poor reporting by many in the corporate mainstream media suggesting there is some legitimate reason to enact these laws. There isn't. There never has been. And it is that poor reporting which has allowed the GOP to keep this issue alive, as if it is anything but a blatant attempt to suppress the Democratic-leaning vote...
IN TODAY'S RADIO REPORT: Deadly floods in China, drought in Europe - global food prices rise as extreme weather hammers crops across the planet; Germany warns time is running out to cut emissions; EPA to pull back on new mercury pollution standards?; PLUS: Mutants in Florida: pushing back against the Franken-skeeter! ... All that and more in today's Green News Report!
IN 'GREEN NEWS EXTRA' (see links below): BC premiere criticizes tar sands pipeline; "Experts" wrong again on renewable energy predictions; "Perfect storm" on Gulf dolphin deaths; Michael Mann threatens to sue over conservative media's Sandusky comparison; Fukushima: workers' radiation levels faked? ... PLUS: Fossil fuels and global warming's terrifying new math ... and much, MUCH more! ...
Good news for fans of democracy and voting rights, and for foes of discrimination! Bad news for Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, his GOP state legislature, and perhaps others like them in different states.
The U.S. Dept. of Justice may soon be filing a legal challenge to Pennsylvania's new GOP-enacted polling place Photo ID restriction. The law will affect the ability of some 750,000 legal voters to cast their once-legal vote in the Keystone State this November, unless it is overturned. If the feds choose to bring suit against the new law, it would be the first time the federal agency has used the anti-discrimination provisions of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 to block such a law.
Last February, as a civil rights group had filed a federal challenge against the state of Wisconsin, charging that state's new GOP-enacted polling place Photo ID restriction violated the federal constitution, we explained how the moment presented a "golden opportunity" for the U.S. Dept. of Justice to join the case and challenge it, as well as similar laws in other states, under Section 2 of the VRA.
As Ernie Canning detailed at the time, the DoJ has, to date, only challenged recently-enacted polling place Photo ID restriction laws in jurisdictions which are covered by Section 5 of the VRA. That section of the landmark federal law requires that new election laws in some 16 states, or parts of states with long histories of racial discrimination at the polls, receive federal government preclearance for the new laws before they may be enforced. Section 5 places the burden on the jurisdictions themselves to demonstrate that the new laws will not have a discriminatory effect.
Since these particular laws have been shown, indeed, to be designed to discriminate against largely Democratic-leaning voters, the states where the laws have been denied preclearance by the DoJ --- states like Texas and South Carolina, for instance --- have been unable to demonstrate their laws did not have the effect of discriminating against legal minority voters. In both of those cases, using data supplied to the DoJ by the states, it was simple to show the discriminatory effect of the new laws. (For example, in South Carolina, African-American voters were found to be 20% more likely to lack the type of ID needed to vote under the new law than white voters. In Texas, the state's own data showed that legal Hispanic voters were as much as 120% more likely to lack the requisite ID to vote under the new law than non-Hispanic voters.)
But similar laws passed in states not covered by Section 5 --- states like Wisconsin, Tennessee, Kansas, and Pennsylvania --- have yet to face the same kind of legal scrutiny from the federal government --- until now...
The fact that they haven't yet been labeled a terrorist-associated group is due only to the fact that if they were, they would rain down hellfire --- and one of the mightiest propaganda and lying campaigns you've ever seen --- against those associated with having made that decision.
That, of course, is how any terrorist group worth its assault plies its trade: Scare the hell out of those who might oppose them. Let them know there will be serious consequences to those who even try, to those who even discuss it. So that anyone even thinking of it becomes crippled with fear to the point they won't do a thing to even appear to threaten the terrorists' agenda in any way.
In this case, of course, it's mostly just political terrorism. But in the real world, given the carnage they continue to enable year after year and tear after tear, it's difficult to say whether the NRA should best be described as terrorist enablers, or just plain terrorists, for the all of the indescribable violence they help perpetuate and, arguably, even help to fund.
Without the help of the NRA and those who fund them, James Holmes, the alleged gunman of Colorado's latest massacre, might not have been able to shoot nearly 70 Americans in a matter of minutes, killing 12 of them, in a sold-out movie theater just after midnight last Friday night. Neither would it have been so simple for Jared Loughner to shoot 19 Americans and kill 6 of them, including nearly murdering Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, AZ just over a year ago, leading to her eventual resignation from Congress.
Thanks to years of terror-enabling by the National Rifle Association, both the AZ and CO sociopaths were able to maximize their rage through a maximum of carnage against their fellow citizens. And both incidents are just a drop of blood in the NRA's great American bucket.
Despite AZ and CO and the tens of thousands of deaths by firearm in this country each year, despite even coming within a hair's breadth of losing one of their own last year in the bargain, Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress are unable and unwilling to lift a finger to do a damn thing about any of it. Neither is the President of the United States. They are all cowards, shriveling in abject fear of the almighty menace to sanity and common-sense and domestic tranquility that is today's NRA...