Monthly Archives: October 2008

You want biblical literalism with that?

“I think [selection of Gov. Sarah Palin as a running mate] has very much undermined the whole question of John McCain’s judgment. You know what most Americans I think realized is that you don’t offer a job, let alone the vice presidency, to a person after one job interview. Even at McDonald’s, you’re interviewed three times before you get a job.”

~ Ken Duberstein (Chief of Staff for President Ronald Reagan, 1988-89)

Court bitch-slaps wannabe election thief Mike Coffman

Mike Coffman, Colorado’s Republican Secretary of State, is a despicable sack of shit. He’s currently running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in a safe Republican congressional district, and virtually assured of victory. With his tenure as Secretary of State winding down fast, this petty, partisan hack and Katherine “Sugartits” Harris wannabe is doing everything possible to suppress the vote.

Back in July, Coffman began “Checkboxgate” by promulgating a rule that would invalidate tens of thousands of new voter registrations. Proper identifying information on new voter registration forms includes driver’s license number, state identification card number and Social Security number. Apparently, many new registrants used their Social Security numbers as identification, but didn’t check the box on the form stating “I do not have a Colorado Driver’s license or Dept. of Revenue identification number.”

Of course, there are other valid voter registration forms out there that don’t include the checkbox at issue. The form that does use the checkbox doesn’t actually say that checking it is required in order to register with a Social Security number. Perhaps most important of all, state law mandates that voters show ID at the polls in order to cast a vote. Thus, the identifying information on the registration form is of little consequence in and of itself.

So what was Coffman’s problem? The vast majority of new registrations came from groups considered friendly to Democrats. Moreover, many of the new registrants were YOUNG, in the 18-22 age range. In other words, Coffman’s problem is that many of these new registrants wouldn’t vote Republican. That simply won’t do during a presidential election year in which Colorado is actually in play for a change. Solution: get them hippies the fuck off the rolls.

Common Cause and others filed suit against Coffman in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. The plaintiffs alleged in their complaint that Coffman violated federal voter registration laws by illegally scrubbing over 31,000 names from the rolls.

Yesterday the lawsuit settled. The settlement provides:

The morning after the election, the state will generate a list of voters who were removed from the rolls since May 14 and send it to county clerks and the groups’ attorneys for review.

The state then will order that the voters on the list who voted by provisional ballot will be verified before other provisional ballots that have been cast.

“Voters on the list shall be presumed to be eligible and their ballots will be counted,” the agreement says. “Only upon a showing by clear and convincing evidence that a voter is not eligible shall a provisional ballot be rejected by the county.”

The secretary of state also must conduct an independent review of each ballot rejected at the county level and order the clerk to count the ballot of any voter whose ballot was incorrectly rejected no later than two weeks before the certification of the statewide election results.

Fortunately for voting rights in Colorado, Coffman is a pig with delusions of grandeur who can’t keep his own maw shut to save his life. Soon after the settlement was announced he told the Rocky Mountain News that, settlement or not, he plans to keep purging names from the voter rolls and leaning on county election officials to do likewise.

This afternoon Judge John L. Kane told Coffman in no uncertain terms to knock it the hell off:

“There has been a violation of federal law, and that must cease and stop immediately,” Kane said from the bench. “That is the order.”

. . .

“I don’t think there is anything deliberate about this, although possibly something obdurate about the secretary’s comments (to the paper),” Kane said. “Let’s just cease and stop from … removing names immediately.”

Jessie Allen, a lawyer for the activists, then told the judge she was concerned Coffman wouldn’t follow the advice of his counsel, or the judge’s order.

“If the defendant doesn’t listen to his counsel, he’s going to be listening to me personally,” Kane said. “I don’t issue threats idly, and I’m not issuing one now. … I expect to be obeyed.”

Once again, the “elitist” and “undemocratic” judicial branch steps in to save democracy from Republican thuggery.

Palin: Wrong For/On the First Amendment

In a very short period of time, Alaska governor, young earth creationist and all-around douchebag Sarah Palin has exhibited a positively Rovian willingness to say absolutely anything for the purpose of putting herself and aged, infirmed malignant melanoma patient John “Walnuts” McCain in the White House. Stated differently, she’s a liar. A really, really BIG liar.

Of course, Palin is also extraordinarily stupid. It is, after all, impossible to be a reasonably intelligent human being living in 2008 and still believe that the universe is but 6,000 years old.

Palin’s rare combination of willingness to defraud and crippling stupidity leads to real problems when it comes to assessing why she says what she says. Was the appallingly inaccurate contention that just fell from Wasilla Gorilla’s maw the result of intent to deceive, stupidity or both? If both, to what extent did each contribute?

So it is with the breathtakingly crazy shit that being reported today. Palin appeared on a conservative radio program and gave an interview during which she said “she fears her First Amendment rights may be threatened by ‘attacks’ from reporters who suggest she is engaging in a negative campaign against Barack Obama.”

Uh, yeah. How does that work? Like this, apparently:

“If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations,” Palin told host Chris Plante, “then I don’t know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media.”

It’s one of those painfully ignorant statements that one can’t determine whether to explain via stupidity or lying.

Palin made news during her Katie Couric interview by being unable to name a single U.S. Supreme Court case with which she disagreed other than Roe v. Wade. That at least suggests ignorance of how the First Amendment operates as a possible explanation.

On the other hand, she might just be lying again. After all, Palin told a group of supporters in Bowling Green, Ohio the other day that Joe the Plumber — whose name isn’t Joe and who isn’t a plumber — is an Alaskan with a distinguished military record. He’s neither, of course, but since when has lack of truth ever stopped Palin from saying anything?

Whatever the explanation, please make no mistake that Palin’s claim about the brutal rape and murder of her First Amendment rights is false. Social conservatives bent on festooning every public building with Jesus schlock are fond of saying that the Religion Clause of the First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. That’s incorrect, of course, but a similar statement holds perfectly true for another portion of the First Amendment: we’re guaranteed freedom of the press, not freedom from the press.

Freedom of political speech is the core value that the Speech Clause protects. Accordingly, Palin can, and on a multiple-times-daily basis does, stand in front of crowds and spout whatever ridiculous lies and idiocies she pleases. No one censors her comments in advance and no one seeks to fine or imprison her after the fact. That’s the full measure of protection the First Amendment guarantees.

But in Biblical Literalist Barbie’s strange little world, the First Amendment goes one very large step further by mandating that the press agree with every word she utters. Calling her a “negative campaigner” for saying the things she says is an “attack” on her that threatens the future of the First Amendment. The persuasive force of the media’s words is an ipso facto First Amendment violation.

Christ. You can’t make this shit up. No one’s imagination is that good.

Of course, in the final analysis it doesn’t matter whether Palin’s shockingly false claims about the First Amendment are the result of lies or stupidity. The real point is that when McCain drops dead early in his presidency — as he almost surely will — Palin would ascend to the highest office in the land. At that point her idiocy and/or stupidity would have the force and effect of law.

So, who ya votin’ for?

Choices don’t get much clearer than this

This year’s presidential election is among the most significant in our nation’s history. The country urgently needs a visionary leader who can ensure the future of our traditional strengths in science and technology and who can harness those strengths to address many of our greatest problems: energy, disease, climate change, security and economic competitiveness.

We are convinced that Senator Barack Obama is such a leader, and we urge you to join us in supporting him.

~ 76 U.S. winners of Nobel science prizes

On the other hand, we can support the ticket that believes humans and dinosaurs frolicked together about 6,000 years ago.

Vigilance Needed Now More Than Ever

Lest we forget, exit polls forecast an overwhelming victory for John Kerry. We all know how that went. George W. Bush still resides in the White House, we’re still flushing billions down the toilet in Iraq and the economy is in a downward spiral that may be irreparable.

Now polls are telling us that Barack Obama is doing extraordinarily well against Bush 3.0, John McPalin. That’s nice and all, but let’s not make the same mistakes we always make.

We should never forget how well entrenched the Republican election fraud machine really is. Check out this video of electronic vote flipping during this year’s early voting West Virginia. Consider how Sequoia Voting Systems, which was neck-deep in the 2000 Florida election debacle, recently “forgot” to send out 11,000 vote-by-mail ballots in overwhelmingly Democratic Denver, CO. Ponder the 50,000 voters “accidentally” scrubbed from Georgia’s voter rolls.

Then consider the sort of people Obama is up against. We’ve got paid McCain campaign worker and sociopathic race-baiting liar Ashley Todd. We’ve got angry, racist lunatics showing up at McCain/Palin rallies in droves. You have the delightful folks who left the severed deer head in the parking lot of Obama’s campain headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the Christian right’s Berchtesgaden. Feast your eyes on the hateful scum that showed up at a recent McCain rally in Denver. Especially charming is the young girl at the beginning of the clip exhibiting monkey mannerisms for the camera.

Such piggishness, thuggery and ham-fisted election fraud isn’t going to dry up and blow away just because it’s end of Bush’s second term. Let’s keep working. Let’s help out on election day. Keep a video camera, tape recorder or even a pad and pencil handy to record any shenanigans you see at the polls. I wish it weren’t so, but the odds of needing an extensive paper trail are pretty damn good this time around.

I suggest keeping an extra close eye on Pennsylvania. Polls currently have Obama leading in that state with nine to thirteen point margins. However, the McCain campaign has made snatching victory from the jaws of defeat in Pennsylvania the cornerstone of its strategy. We can expect tons of chicanery there. Ashley Todd was only the beginning.

Barack Obama: An Adam Smith Capitalist

From Smith’s The Wealth of Nations:

The necessaries of life occasion the great expense of the poor. . . . The luxuries and vanities of life occasion the principal expense of the rich, and a magnificent house embellishes and sets off to the best advantage all the other luxuries and vanities which they possess. . . . It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.

OMG WTF!!nineeleven!!1 Progressive, marginal taxation isn’t socialist after all. It’s . . . it’s . . . CAPITALIST. Samuel the Non-Plumber, John McCain and Federal Office of Xenophobia News are lying to us! Whatever shall we do?!

Palin’s bestest buddy guilty as hell

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

A federal jury found Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Of Course) guilty of all seven false statement charges against him. Essentially, filthy rich oilman Bill Allen and his cronies gave Sen. Stevens $250,000 in gifts and home improvements. Stevens failed to disclose the gifts on the financial disclosure form he’s required to file with the Senate. That nondisclosure was basis of the criminal charges.

Stevens is a cantankerous old bastard. At 84 years of age, he’s been serving in the Senate since 1968, longer than any other Republican. Like a fractious old hospital patient who’s pissed off that the pill lady is late, Stevens is putting up quite a fuss. He’s not resigning and his reelection campaign continues. The conviction, he says, was the result of prosecutorial misconduct rather than his own. Seems that Senate rules don’t prohibit a convicted felon from serving, and it would take 2/3 supermajority vote to throw him out.

Alaska governor, young earth creationist, inveterate liar and race-baiter Sarah Palin, once Sen. Stevens’ bosom buddy, was quick to shove the old fucker under the bus while at the same time tooting her own horn:

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, also appeared to distance herself from her home-state lawmaker, using the conviction as an opportunity to trumpet her own anti-corruption credentials.

Palin, who has clashed with Washington’s Republican congressional delegation in the past, said in a statement that the verdict “shines a light on the corrupting influence of the big oil service company that was allowed to control too much of our state. It was part of the culture of corruption that I was elected to fight. And that fight must always move forward, regardless of party or seniority or even past service.”

Palin concluded: “I’m confident Sen. Stevens will do what’s right for the people of Alaska.”

But it wasn’t always this way. In happier times, before Stevens’ indictment and Palin’s selection as totally insane John McCain’s running made, i.e., early July of this very year, Palin had “great respect” for Stevens. Let’s remember the good times, shall we?

We had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the sun

EFF Takes Aim at Telco Immunity

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has long been in the lead in challenging the Bush administration’s claims of limitless authority to conduct warrantless surveillance. When the administration went to the major telecommunications companies and demanded unfettered access to private data on their customers, every company but one rolled over immediately. That gave EFF the opening it needed.

EFF filed multiple lawsuits on behalf of private plaintiffs alleging that telcos violated  federal statutes prohibiting the interception and dissemination of certain information designated private. In a number of those cases EFF also alleged that the telcos were acting as de facto agents of the U.S. government and were therefore liable for violating their customers’ constitutional rights.

The telcos had much at stake in those cases. Of primary concern was the hundreds of millions of dollars in statutory damages they’d have to pay if EFF could prove its allegations.

The Bush administration came to the industry’s rescue, intervening in all the lawsuits to demand outright dismissal. Allowing any of the lawsuits to continue, the Justice Department claimed, would violate the common law military and state secrets privilege. What was the state secret? Pretty much everything was a state secret, to hear the administration tell the tale. Not just the alleged information allegedly obtained but also the alleged fact that the government had allegedly requested such alleged information was a state secret. Allegedly.

The litigation proceeded while administration pressed Congress hard for legislation granting telcos retroactive immunity for participating in the administration’s unlawful surveillance scheme. Congress caved in July, passing the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 (“FAA”). The immunity provision, Section 802 (codified at 50 U.S.C. § 1885a), states that “a civil action may not lie or be maintained in a Federal or State court against any person for providing assistance to an element of the intelligence community, and shall be promptly dismissed, if the Attorney General” supplies certain information to the court in which the case is pending. Generally speaking, the AG must certify to the court that the company providing assistance acted in response to a court order or a request/directive from the executive branch issued in accordance with certain statutes. The court must dismiss the case unless the AG’s “certification is not supported by substantial evidence[.]” In the parlance of evidence law, “substantial evidence” means more than a scintilla but less than a preponderance. (Not especially helpful, I know.)

Many of the cases are grouped together in a multi-district litigation proceeding pending in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The Justice Department is invoking Section 802 in an effort to have all those cases dismissed.

EFF is opposing the dismissal on a variety of grounds. Its brief (pdf, 61 pages) is available here. EFF is arguing that: (1) Congress lacks the power to eliminate the plaintiffs’ First and Fourth Amendment claims by statute; (2) Section 802 violates constitutional separation of powers principles by unconstitutionally delegating legislative power to the executive branch and by unlawfully usurping the judiciary’s fact-finding role; (3) Section 802 unconstitutionally deprives the plaintiffs of property and liberty without due process of law; (4) the secrecy provisions of Section 802 violates the First Amendment right of access to documents in civil cases and Article III’s requirement that courts decide whether a sufficiently compelling interest warrants foreclosing such access; and (5) even if Section 802 were constitutional, the government has failed to meet its burden of supporting its dismissal demand with “substantial evidence.”

A hearing is set for December 2, 2008. We’ll have more information as soon as it’s available.

Another 100,000+ crowd for Obama

Over 100,000 people turned out to hear Barack Obama speak in Denver, Colorado’s Civic Center Park today.

Meanwhile, the McCain campaign passed out 3,000 tickets for St. John the Double-Talking’s appearance yesterday in Albuquerque, NM. Less than 1,000 showed up.

But for the fact that Obama is African-American, we’d be looking at a 90%-10% popular vote margin and an electoral blowout of biblical proportions.

Lieberman accidentally makes sense

Thank God, she’s not going to have to be president from Day One.

Senator Joseph “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Gibber” Lieberman