Article I, Section 1, US Constitution:
First Amendment to the US Constitution:
Seventh Amendment to the US Constitution:
EL 4 DE JULIO, CON LA ESPERANZA DEBIDA
Es el 4 de julio y en mi país, todo el mundo está de fiesta. Hay personas que no pueden dejar de trabajar, enfermeras, policías, pero la celebración inunda el paisaje social. Se celebra: la independencia colonial, la teoría de la democracia, en momentos sinceros también la realidad de la democracia, lo que se quiere vivir, la familia y los seres queridos, el lujo del combustible cada vez menos asequible, el hecho de que hoy, no trabajan ni los bancos ni los políticos. [Texto completo]
ALL VOTES MUST BE COUNTED, ALWAYS
It is no secret that Mexico's electoral system is undergoing a period of extreme strain and an important test of resilience. While the ruling PAN party's candidate Felipe Calderón enjoys a narrow but contested lead, challenger López Obrador seeks to effect at least a full hand-count of all ballots cast, or a reversal of the election results on the grounds of fraud. The stickiest part of the controversy is what justifies examining only a small percentage of the contested ballots. [Full Story]
NOT ALL POLITICS IS OPINION
Shortly after publishing yesterday's lead story, referring to a speech by former US vice president Al Gore as a "non-partisan" event, I received a complaint from a Bush supporter, upset by the "partisan" nature of such a report. It is simply not true, however, that all text and all language are opinion. That bias gives rise to a radical perversion of the "fairness doctrine", whereby all stories, no matter how evidentially sound, must include reference to at least one assertion that contradicts the lead story, no matter how evidentially void this oppposing assertion. [Full Story]
TIES BETWEEN USUBSTANTIATED VOTER-FRAUD ALLEGATIONS, 'THOR' HEARNE, ACVR, FEC & GOP SUGGEST CAMPAIGN TO SWAY 2004 ELECTION
23 August 2007
The American Center for Voting Rights (ACVR) was supposed to be a non-partisan NGO pushing for government action to combat what it alleged was a widespread problem with ballot fraud across the United States. When investigations revealed it was founded and operated by Republican campaign operatives, and that its allegations were largely fabricated, the organization literally disappeared from public view. And now it is increasingly difficult to find documents it published or links to information about its founders online.
ACVR has been directly linked to at least two of the Justice Dept. firings under investigation in the Congress. The group's founder, Mark Hearne —also known as 'Thor'—, or someone close to him, has apparently been busy erasing references to the group from sites that bear his name, or vice-versa. Wikipedia no longer has a page devoted to him, and his name automatically brings up the page dedicated to the now defunct American Center for Voting Rights, possibly a response to manipulation of the history relating to his association with the group.
Active behind the scenes from the beginning of then 2004 presidential candidate George Bush's second bid for the White House, Hearne traversed the country both promoting the Bush campaign and collecting information for what would later be a 'voting rights' initiative that effectively suppressed voters' rights. The intiative, through ACVR was conducted in what appeared to be a partisan manner designed to benefit the Republican party, according to Brad Friedman, editor of Bradblog and first to uncover the questionable nature of Mr. Hearne's position as a voters' rights advocate.
Free Press reported in 2005 that "Hearne, with the help of Republican attorney Alex Vogel, concocted a story that the main problem with the 2004 elections in Ohio was that the NAACP was paying people with crack cocaine to register voters. Based on scant evidence and an incident of a volunteer being linked to crack use, Hearne pushed a version of voter fraud in Ohio that directly attacked not only the NAACP, but ACORN, the AFL-CIO and ACT-Ohio. By attacking this combination of groups, Rove and Hearne were targeting the leading forces for registering blacks, poor, union workers and young people in Ohio – those most likely to vote Democratic."
The National Journal has reported that Hearne founded the ACVR in 2005 at the urging of Karl Rove, George W. Bush's chief political advisor until earlier this month. There are also ties between Hearne, the ACVR and the Free Enterprise Coalition, a lobbying organization representing business interests, with ties to the Republican party, which has, mysteriously, begun to disappear from view.
SourceWatch, a transparency-watchdog website has reported on the Free Enterprise Coalition, in May of this year: "No website, no employees, a disconnected phone and a lapsed corporate registration. Without the 990s, you'd be hard pressed to know the GOP funneled $2.8 million through the Free Enterprise Coalition to fund election-related legal expenses between 2004 and 2005."
Free Press has also reported that "Financing from the FEC funded a racketeering charge against grassroots voter registration groups including the NAACP. The ACVR is widely regarded as a fake voting rights organization created to repress minority and poor voters in urban areas while perpetuating the myth of "voter fraud" among Democratic voting blocks."
The Republican candidate for mayor of Columbus, Ohio, is also directly linked to the scandal. According to Free Press, the website of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey —the law firm where Todd worked until leaving to pursue his mayoral campaign— "showed Todd as general counsel for the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and its affiliated Citizens for a Strong Ohio (CSO)", adding that "In 2005, the Ohio Election Commission fined the CSO for operating illegally as a Political Action Committee (PAC) and making illegal corporate expenditures to influence Ohio Supreme Court races."
What is perhaps the most serious and mysterious element of this national charade is that websites linking Hearne to the organization he founded and for which he testified, under oath, before Congressional committee, have dropped or erased those references, or blocked access to the pages where they appeared. These strategic site redactions have come in the wake of the ACVR and Hearne himself being linked to the apparently retaliatory firing of at least two US attorneys.
In March 2005, Hearne testified before the House committee chaired by then-Rep. Bob Ney —now imprisoned for corruption— that "the Kerry campaign" had been actively working to suppress the voting rights of Republican voters in Marion County, Ohio, guiding Republican voters to the wrong polling places, misinforming them that the election would be held on Wed., 3 November 2004, when in fact it was Tues., 2 November, and using crack cocaine to obtain false voter registration forms.
Hearne swore this testimony was based on "affidavits, first hand accounts". But, legal findings suggest there was no evidence, except one isolated case of an individual being linked to past crack-cocaine use. As Free Press reports "The facts in numerous legal filings, like the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville v. Blackwell and Moss v. Bush, suggest just the opposite", that in fact it was the Bush-Cheney campaign in Ohio that "was accused in hundreds of sworn affidavits of engaging in racist voter suppression tactics in Ohio's urban centers. Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati's majority black wards were littered with posters and fliers telling Democratic voters to vote on Wednesday, November 3."
There were even phone calls directed at inner city voters, which have reportedly been documented by the Columbus Dispatch and WVKO radio, directing them "to the wrong polling places, where they waited up to three to seven hours, only to then be told they were at the wrong site."
According to Wikipedia's entry for the ACVR, the organization's directors included:
The irony of the defunct 'voting rights' pressure group is that it appears to have used many of the fraudulent tactics it falsely accused people in poor or underprivileged areas of using: concealing past activities, assuming false identities, providing false information and seeking to manipulate both the electoral process and the laws that govern it.
A telling contradiction in the ACVR's methods is the discrepancy between its apparent institutional obsession with spurious allegations of ballot fraud and its lack of aggressive pursuit of solution to correct the well-documented and openly demonstrable security flaws in electronic voting technologies.
Since the 2000 presidential election standoff, where both parties claimed victory and the candidate who obtained the second most popular votes won the Electoral College, thanks to a tightly contested court decision that effectively prevented an entire state from being disenfranchised, concerns about ballot integrity have been a key ingredient in grassroots politics across the nation.
The most important voting rights initiative since the 1960s has been the movement to guarantee a "voter-verified paper trail" for electronic ballots, so that the voter can be assured there is a record of the "voter's intent". It will likely interest investigators looking into the connections between the ACVR and the DoJ firings to ascertain what, if any, significance the group saw in this massive security flaw in the national election process. [s]
The investigation of the firing of 9 US attorneys late last year has the attorney general fighting off daily calls for his resignation. In each case, it appears there were political motivations for dismissing federal prosecutors whose records were generally outstanding or above average. John L. Brownlee, who was ultimately not fired, says he received a phone-call from a Justice official asking him to slow down on a guilty plea already negotiated. [Full Story]
SENATE VOTES 94 TO 2 TO STRIP BUSH ADMIN. OF POWER TO NAME FEDERAL PROSECUTORS WITHOUT REVIEW
As calls increase in president's party, and in Congress, for the attorney general to resign, the Senate has voted overwhelmingly to strip the government of a special power to name federal proseucutors without an approval process. The investigations into whether political motivations were at play in the firing of 8 US attorneys last year let the Senate to vote 94 to 2 to oppose the special post-9/11 power. [Full Story]
ATTORNEY GENERAL UNDER FIRE FOR POLITICAL DISMISSALS
Investigations by the judiciary committees in both the House and the Senate are probing the suspicious nature of the untimely dismissal of at least 8 US attorneys, for what appear to be political reasons. The White House had claimed there was not strategy to fire en masse, until it was revealed that there was in fact consultation on firing all US attorneys and replacing them with political loyalists. [Full Story]
JUSTICE DEPT. ADMITS MISTAKES IN FIRING US ATTORNEYS
The Justice Department's new performance rating system has come under fire, after the firing of 8 US attorneys was called into question. The cases were not clearly cases of underperformance, but seemed to indicate there had been political motivations for the dismissals. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has now admitted that the program was not applied properly in some of those cases and promises to improve the evaluations policy. [Full Story]
HIGH COURT ALLOWS DEMOTION FOR DISSENT
The freedom of speech is one of the foundational rights under US constitutional law, as manifest in the First Amendment, because it affords the common citizen a protection against a basic authoritarian abuse of power. Now, the US Supreme Court has ruled 5 to 4 that public employees do not enjoy First Amendment protections while on duty. [Full Story]
GOV'T POLICY UNLAWFULLY CRIMINALIZES COMMENT ON SCIENTIFIC FACT
The global environment is, of course, a global issue, one that touches every life on the planet, and the science about it should be open and available to all. Past government policy and existing federal law mean that such scientific evidence should be readily available to the public. But now, it appears that several agencies are laboring to silence scientists who are researching climate trends and alterations. [Full Story]
COURT FILING CITES 'CONCERTED EFFORT' TO ATTACK CRITICS
Regardless of whether the president or the vice president have done anything illegal, it is now clear that they were both involved in deliberately using classified national security information to smear a critic of their Iraq policy. This contradicts statements made as recently as last week which suggest that the president opposed any such use of sensitive information for personal or political gain. [Full Story]