Happy Halloween from Barney Frank.

Barking at you is like barking at a dining room table. I have no interest in doing it.

Barking at you is like barking at a dining room table. I have no interest in doing it.

And from Pirate Party Barrrrrrrrrrney Frank.

Barkin' at you be like barkin' at a peg legged table. I have no interest in doin' it. Arrrrrrrr.

Trick? Or Treat?

The Barneys

The Barneys

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Who did your ES&S touch screen electronic voting machine vote for?

Who did your ES&S touch screen electronic voting machine vote for?

Secretary of State Tre Hargett is the person in charge of elections in Tennessee. His job is to:

1) Guarantee that our election process is secure
2) Give us working systems that accurately record each vote
3) Ensure that the right candidate wins

In other words, Mr. Hargett is entrusted with the most fundamental tool of our democracy.

So, why does he want a machine to pick your candidate for you?

Earlier this month during a special election in Williamson County, Karen Carter attempted to vote for one candidate and the ES&S iVotronic touch screen electronic voting machine flipped the vote to his opponent.

Karen didn’t vote. The machine voted for Karen.

Tennessee uses the ES&S iVotronic touch-screen electronic voting machine in 17 counties.

So is this incident of a machine instead of a voter choosing an elected representative isolated to Williamson County?

No.

During the 2008 presidential election, a voter in Davidson County touched the screen for one candidate only to have the box next to another candidate light up. (Ironically, it was the wife of Uncounted filmmaker, David Earnhardt).

So are both of these incidences of a machine instead of a voter choosing elected representatives isolated to Tennessee?

No.

In 2008 there were also incidences of machines choosing our elected representatives on the same iVotronic touch screen electronic machines recorded in Jackson, Putnam, Berkeley, Ohio, Monongalia and Greenbrier counties in West Virginia.

And in Saline County, Kansas, the rise of the iVotronic touch screen electronic voting machines also occurred in three precincts. The local paper described the problem:

“When a voter pressed a certain candidate’s bar on the voting machine’s screen, the candidate above the selected candidate instead received the checkmark.”

Machines choosing our elected officials is a well-documented problem (also in Texas!) that affects 22,619 ES&S iVotronic voting machines.

In October 2008, the Brennan Center warned the Secretaries of State in 16 states of this problem.

Tennessee was one of those states.

Even though the ES&S machines have well-documented problems and there is a Tennessee law in place that, if implemented, would disenfranchised machines and enfranchise, you know, the citizens of the state, Mr. Hargett refuses to give Tennesseans back their precious right to vote by throwing these machines on the trash heap where they belong.

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Call the wahhhhbulance. Fox News is whining because the White House is calling them out and forcing them to live in the reality-based community. We’re a news organization, they cry. Not so fast, says Media Matters, who just released a video destroying network’s defense of its straight news programming:

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The latest missive from the Tennessee Democratic Party:

Tennessee Democrats want dignity, equality and respect for everyone. To achieve that end, we will work tirelessly in our communities to promote initiatives that create good jobs, better schools and a cleaner environment. We are fortunate to live in a prosperous society, but we sometimes forget those who are left behind.

Hubert Humphrey once said, “The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.”

We agree. We become stronger as a community, as a state and as a nation when we help all segments of society prosper.

This is what can unite progressives of all stripes in Tennessee. Why not focus on these similarities instead of our differences?

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Today is a massive nationwide call-in day organized by Change that Works, Organizing for America, Families USA, MoveOn, Consumer Union, SEIU, Organize for American, HCAN, and PICO.

With crucial negotiations taking place in Congress, OFA volunteers and other organizations are raising our voices to make it clear to our representatives: it’s time to deliver on health care reform.

Click here to get the phone numbers of your U.S. representatives as well as calling tips and a sample script.

Or, use the Change that Works auto-call system at 866-288-1495. Once you enter in your zip code, press 1 for Congress and then press 1 for Rep. Cooper. Once you complete your call to Rep. Cooper’s office, you will hang up, call back, put in your zip code again, press 1 for Congress, and then this time press 2 for Rep. Corker’s office. Finally, you’ll hang up and repeat the process one final time, this time pressing 3 for Rep. Alexander’s office. This whole process should only take about 5 minutes and will make a world of difference for the state of TN.

Sign up and pledge to call here.

Change That Works is also phone banking all day today to get people to call their representatives. Shifts are 9-11 am, 11-1 pm, 1-3 pm, 3-5 pm. Stay the whole shift or come when you can. Sign up to phone bank here.

Your voice and actions are vital to the passage of Health Care Reform. So thank you for anything, and all, you can do.

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Join Change that Works tonight from 6 to 7:30 PM on the Bicentennial Mall at the base of Capitol Hill (James Robertson Parkway, between 6th and 7th Ave. North) for a candlelight vigil for health insurance reform.

Today is also a massive nationwide call-in day organized by Change that Works, Organizing for America, Families USA, MoveOn, Consumer Union, SEIU, Organize for American, HCAN, and PICO.

With crucial negotiations taking place in Congress, OFA volunteers and other organizations are raising our voices to make it clear to our representatives: it’s time to deliver on health care reform.

Click here to get the phone numbers of your U.S. representatives as well as calling tips and a sample script.

Also, sign up to receive the call-in number and pledge to call here.

Change That Works is also phone banking all day today to get people to call their representatives. Shifts are 9-11 am, 11-1 pm, 1-3 pm, 3-5 pm. Stay the whole shift or come when you can. Sign up to phone bank here.

Your voice and actions are vital to the passage of Health Care Reform. So thank you for anything, and all, you can do.

Change that Works can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr.

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We’re still a ways off from the 2010 partisan primaries for the gubernatorial race in Tennessee, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t walk through the stables and size up what the horserace will look like.

For today, I’m going to size up the Democratic field. We’ll know the final field in April, when filing forms are due, but right now we have 5 announced Democratic candidates:

There they are in alphabetical order. Now I’m going to review the campaigns in likelihood of primary victory, from least to greatest.

Ward Cammack got an early start and seemed to impress several progressive politicos with his technocratic attention to green issues, which include detailed policy positions rather than just fluff about his being a “green” candidate. Unfortunately, staffing issues made public and an unwillingness to commit to self-fund coupled with a past history of financially backing Republicans mean Cammack’s campaign has probably already peaked with Democratic primary voters. I doubt Tennessee will ever see another political anomaly like Phil Bredesen. As much as Cammack would like to be one, he simply ain’t. Don’t hold your breath waiting for any of the other candidates to subject themselves to a Stacey Campfield interview.

Jim Kyle put paid to Rosalind Kurita, the thorn in his legislative side that kept him from his dream of becoming lieutenant governor. Even had his dream been realized, though, it would’ve been short lived based on the Republican tide that swept the state senate in 2008. But getting into the game last when there’s no great-stakes political issue to serve as a point of distinction (all three legislators in the race at one point supported an income tax during their legislative careers) is probably going to leave Kyle toward the back of the pack. Early Democratic dollars already have already chased other candidates, and Kyle likely pissed off at least part of a demographic constituency that will now drift to…

Kim McMillan, though uninspiring on the stump, is the one legislative candidate with the benefit of post-legislative executive experience in the Bredesen administration. One wonders, though, why so many Bredesen people flocked so quickly to the McWherter campaign. A cynic might suspect it was the money. McMillan, too, lost a high-profile staffer (causing him to leave the state, in fact). But she has a built-in advantage: women. Republicans have earned some attention statewide for having a variety of high-profile female officeholders. McMillan offers Tennessee women the opportunity to vote for the first woman governor in state history. A built-in constituency should let McMillan pass Kyle but, based on the power of money in politics, probably won’t let her compete on even footing with legacy and organization.

Mike McWherter, meanwhile, doesn’t seem to have much to trade in politically other than being “Ned Ray’s boy,” a descriptor one is likely to overhear at Democratic functions where a previous generation of handlers is on hand to introduce the junior variety around. From being unfamiliar with his party’s President’s name to unnecessarily opining on adoption by gay couples, Mike has already cut off support from a full wing of primary voters, unwise in a broad field where no one is actively courting them but neither is any one seeking to piss them off. There have already been a few remarks about his gun-shyness in last cycle’s U.S. Senate race against Lamar! I suspect there will be a lot of Democrats across the state who wind up saying something nice to Mike’s father while pulling the lever for one of his opponents. Still, those who remember Ned Ray as fondly as many remember Bill Clinton might pay homage one more time. The former governor is a legend of Tennessee Democratic politics, and the power of political legacy in Tennessee can’t be completely discounted.

In this field, though, Roy Herron is the natural winner on the stump. Also, his reputation as a micromanager actually bodes well for an executive position. If he needs to delegate more effectively, he can worry about it after his army of volunteers–visible at every Democratic party function since Jackson Day–disbands after the campaign. Clearly comfortable with both the law and religion (to the point where he wrote a book about it), he’ll be somewhat difficult to out-God. And co-chairing the Broadband Task Force gives him technocratic cred competitive with Cammack’s, especially with his focus on the spread of technology access to the next generation of Tennesseans. In the most recent session, he spoke out forcefully on a number of progressive issues. In Middle Tennessee, I’ve noticed that people from across the Democratic spectrum have lined up behind Herron. Herron’s heel, though, will be his campaign’s comfort with stretching the truth (reinforcing a subtle meme about preacher-lawyer-politicians) on fundraising and an early messaging on labor that might let the faithful in that important Democratic machine operate the machinery for various of the competition. If Herron’s demonstrated organization so far, though, turns out to be more than a for-show Howard Dean fly-in, and he doesn’t back down on the stump, getting out the vote will be easier for him in the hinterlands, likely giving him enough margin for victory.

In the it-came-from-Dresden scenario, no amount of Ned Ray money or suction (with, for instance, Clinton at Jackson Day) is going to allow Mike, even with a crew of Bredesen acolytes at his beck and call, to strong-arm himself into pole position.

The question will be whether the lawyer-preacher-politician can do better against Haslam than Bryson did against Bredesen. And I’ve already laid out a little bit of my thinking on the answer to that question.

I should be clear that this is my analysis of the race at this point in the game. It is not an endorsement of any candidate. We expect to extend interview invitations to all 5 Democratic candidates as primary day draws nearer. Y’know… next year.

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Summary: Featuring guests Elliott Ozment, immigration law attorney; Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall; and Karl Frisch of Media Matters for America.

Immigration Nation, Part 1 Nevermind the boy not in the balloon, there’s real news afoot. Ty Cobb 2.0, a healthcare reform package out of committee in the Senate, Senator Al Franken gets his first amendment passed by a roll call vote no thanks to Tennessee Senators Lamar Alexander and Senator Bob Corker who would rather let corporate plunderers off the hook for rape, Tennesseans deserve fair and accurate elections, and an interview with immigration law attorney Elliott Ozment, who covers the controversial 287g program up for reauth in the Metro Council, why he used to serve on the Sheriff’s Immigration Advisory Council for the program but doesn’t anymore, the basic civil and human rights inherent in the immigration debate, Juana Villegas, and what he thinks would be a good solution to crime prevention in Nashville’s undocumented immigrant population. [21.3MB download mp3]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Immigration Nation, Part 2 We hear from you, our listeners, as well as another immigration attorney, Sean Lewis, about immigration matters, and conclude that we are not looking at immigration reform as comprehensively as we need to. And we talk to Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall, the man behind the controversial 287g program, to get his take on why the program is important, how it does or doesn’t work, accusations of racial profiling, and why it’s coming before the Metro Council once again. Plus, it’s an abbreviated version of the Media Matters for American Smackdown with Karl Frisch, in which he packs a whole lot of funny in a short time. [24MB download mp3]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

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Jamie Leigh Jones testifies.

Jamieleigh Jones testifies.

While working in Iraq in 2005, Halliburton/KBR employee Jamie Leigh Jones was brutally gang-raped by her co-workers and left for a day locked in a shipping container. Her employment contract said that she was not allowed to sue – her allegations could only be heard in private arbitration.

Last week in his first legislative effort, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota) proposed an amendment to a Defense Appropriations bill that would deny taxpayer dollars in the form of defense contracts to any company that asks employees to sign away their right to sue.

Sec. 8104. (a) None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any existing or new Federal contract if the contractor or a subcontractor at any tier requires that an employee or independent contractor, as a condition of employment, sign a contract that mandates that the employee or independent contractor performing work under the contract or subcontract resolve through arbitration any claim under title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or any tort related to or arising out of sexual assault or harassment, including assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, or negligent hiring, supervision, or retention. (b) The prohibition in subsection (a) does not apply with respect to employment contracts that may not be enforced in a court of the United States.

30 Republicans voted against the amendment and voted for protecting ginormous profit-making defense contracts for KBR/Halliburton, including Tennessee Senators Lamar! Alexander and Bob Corker. Click on each of the links to send them a nice note or call Sen. Alexander at 202-224-4944 and Senator Corker at 202-234-3344.

Senators Corker and Alexander no doubt agreed with the twisted and flat-out wrong logic of Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama who argued that “The Congress should not be involved in writing or rewriting private contracts…that’s just not how we should handle matters in the United States Senate.” Given that the United States government was the other party in the contract, that would be exactly the kind of thing Congress should be involved in.

Senators Alexander and Corker did, however, vote for an amendment “that prohibits funds…from being used to directly or indirectly fund the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN)” – an organization that fights for living and minimum wage legislation and increases, registers low- and moderate-income and minority citizens to vote, and counsels first-time home buyers.

If you’re keeping score at home for our two Senators it would be, Rape – 1, The American Dream – 0.

And if you think the sexual assault of women by defense contractor employees is a one-time occurrence, think again.

(H/T: HuffPo)

UPDATE: More from Joe Powell.

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iRepub

Michelle Bachman, Joe Wilson, Randy Forbes, Virginia Foxx, etc. as an iPhone app.

(Thanks for the laugh, Waking Up Now.)

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