Nel's New Day

November 7, 2016

Voting in the U.S., a Third World Country

Filed under: Voting — trp2011 @ 8:53 PM
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Forget the problems of the FBI’s interference in the 2016 presidential election and the massive number of lies that Donald Trump has been permitted to publicize about Hillary Clinton because the media is no longer a “truth squad”—quote from “journalist” Chris Wallace. Three years ago, five Supreme Court justices gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and chaos prevailed.

Throughout the nation, “Trump Trolls” are spreading misinformation to confuse voters. Tweets, disguised as campaign ads, tell people to “vote from home” by texting in their votes. Twitter claims it has tried to delete this falsehood, but it has not. Yesterday, trolls repeated this falsehood and added lies about voting on November 9 for Hillary Clinton to avoid the long lines. Tweets also falsely claimed that people needed seven kinds of ID at the polls.

In addition to being blatant lies, the tweets also violate Twitter’s policies because of the claims that the messages are “paid for by Hillary For President.” They could also violate the Federal Election Commission law. Clinton’s website is “Hillary for America,” not Hillary For President, and the Clinton campaign has created a reply to the texting number that “the ad you saw was not approved by Hillary For America in any way.” Trolls then shifted the number to the Clinton campaign with the response “Thanks for being a part of the campaign!” that trolls hope “sounds like it counted the vote.”

The nation now has 868 fewer polling places than four years ago, and the vast majority of those that disappeared are in minority- and student-heavy areas of Arizona, North Carolina, and Texas—states where the Voting Rights Act no longer has the ability to ensure that all registered voters can get to the polls. Almost half the closed polls are in Texas, all in counties with established records of discrimination and recent violations of the Voting Rights Act. Just one poll alone in Cincinnati (OH) had 4,000 people in line waiting to vote.

These are a few other recent voting issues in potentially swing states:

Arizona: The Supreme Court reinstated a state law banning political campaigners from collecting absentee ballots completed by voters after it was overturned by a lower court.

New Jersey: A federal judge ruled that the RNC’s “poll monitoring and ballot security activities” do not violate a legal settlement from 1982 despite the purpose of the “monitoring” is to intimidate minority voters.

North Carolina: A federal judge ordered county elections boards to immediately restore registrations wrongfully purged from voter rolls, but that was only four days before Election Day and long after people were turned away from early voting. Yesterday the GOP sent a press release bragging about its reduction of black voters.

Nevada: Donald Trump and the state GOP director are accusing polls of being “rigged” because long lines at a Las Vegas Latino neighborhood prevented closing until 10:00 pm. There was no justification for their complaints or the statement that Democratic voters were being bussed in to get votes from “certain people,” and people were in line before the polls closed hours earlier.

Ohio: A three-judge panel on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the restraining order against the plans of Donald Trump’s campaign, his adviser Roger Stone, and their associates to harass and intimidate voters at the state polls tomorrow. Stone doesn’t plan to keep his intimidation to Ohio: he plans to direct “watchers” to 20 Democratic-dominated and mostly urban precincts in eight battleground states—Florida, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Monitoring at the polls employs racial profiling. Trump supporters plan to check on everyone who doesn’t “speak American,” his definition for Mexicans, Syrians, and other legal immigrants. Lawsuits brought by local Democratic parties in Arizona, Nevada, Ohio, and Pennsylvania accuse monitors of violating not only the Voting Rights Act of 1965 but also the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871. That law from almost 150 years ago following the South’s loss of the Civil War states that obstruction of anyone’s right to vote based on race is illegal.

It’s been only 50 years ago since many people were murdered for their attempts to register or actually vote following a century of disenfranchisement through poll taxes, literacy tests, and all-white primaries.

Much of the GOP panic in voting by minorities comes from the massive surge of Hispanic voters. Black voters may not be turning out in the numbers that they did for President Obama in 2008 and 2012, sometimes because 2016 is the first year that the Voting Rights Act no longer protects them against voter suppression. But in Florida, almost one million of the 6.2 million early votes counted through yesterday are from Hispanics in a 100-percent increase over 2012. Over one-third of these voting Hispanics did not vote in 2012. Not only that, but the number of votes from blacks in the state has increased over 2012.

Hispanics have typically comprised a low percentage of voters. Former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer even said that they were no danger this year to Republican candidates because Hispanic Democrats “don’t vote.” But the 27 million Hispanics eligible to vote this year is a 26-percent increase over four years ago when only 48 percent of them voted, and the Hispanic early vote in Arizona is already double what it was in 2012.

With the possibility of successful early voting for Democrats, the GOP will be working on a solution to get rid of those pesky progressive votes. Jonah Goldberg claims in a column for the conservative National Review that the events during the past week might have changed people’s decisions—citing all those negatives for Hillary Clinton. His innuendo that knowing about all these insinuations would move voters away from the Democratic candidate allows him to repeat all the recent accusations toward Clinton. He also writes, “Comey’s bombshell is a perfect illustration of how new facts can make a hash of things.” (Yesterday’s news exonerating Clinton pretty much cleaned up the hash.)  Goldberg repeats several of Clinton’s statements, but about Trump, he wrote, “Well, let’s just say he’s said a lot of things.”

Goldberg used the same argument that I’ve used in the past: “The standard argument against widespread early voting is that it encourages many people to make their decisions without important information available to the voters who wait until Election Day.” In that case, he’s right, but if we wait until Election Day to vote, we’re also missing more information that occurs after that time. And the many hours that people have to wait in line even with early voting show that states couldn’t handle all voting on Election Day. At this time, only seven states have not early voting: Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.

Out of the kindness of his heart, Goldberg says that he doesn’t want “insurmountable obstacles” to voting, but like other conservatives he wants to make voting more difficult so that people will value this right. I’m sure he hates the Oregon systems of “motor-voter” registration in which eligible people are automatically registered to vote when they get their driver’s licenses and “vote by mail” in which ballots arrive in the mailbox and completed ones can be dropped off in easily accessible ballot boxes.

Only one party, the one that wants to totally control all laws and legislators in the United States, wants to make voting harder and harder. That is the mark of a Third World country.

Please vote by the close of polls tomorrow! And if you live in Oregon, drop off your ballot before then so that it will count.

July 19, 2012

Romney’s Problems Grow

Mitt Romney’s campaign has two serious dilemmas: the call for his releasing tax returns and the outsourcing done by Bain Capital, Romney’s personal business. To solve the first one, he sent his wife, Ann, to convince the media that he is a truly good person. In an interview with Robin Roberts on ABC, Ms. Romney said:

“You know, you should really look at where Mitt has led his life, and where he’s been financially. He’s a very generous person. We give 10 percent of our income to our church every year. Do you think that is the kind of person that is trying to hide things, or do things? No. He is so good about it.”

When asked why they don’t release the tax forms if there is no problem with them, Ms. Romney continued:

“Because there are so many things that will be open again for more attack… and that’s really, that’s just the answer. And we’ve given all you people need to know and understand about our financial situation and about how we live our life. And so, the election, again, will not be decided on that. It will be decided on who is gonna turn the economy around and how are jobs gonna come back to America.”

My favorite phrase from her interview is “you people,” the term that smacks of an arrogance in the same way that Michelle Malkin’s comment on Fox and Friends Weekend did when she said,

“Romney types, of course, are the ones who sign the front of the paycheck, and the Obama types are the one who have spent their entire lives signing the back of them.”

Lots of people are betting that Romney’s tax returns would show some shady deals. The first question is how he got between $21 million and $101 million in an IRA that can’t collect more than $30,000 a year. Another questionable activity comes from when he was chairman of Marriott’s audit committee. At that time, a Marriott tax shelter, known as “Son of BOSS,” involved creating paper losses to offset taxes on real income. The Internal Revenue Service challenged the shelter, and Marriott lost in court. Judges called the shelter “fictitious” and a “scheme,” and the company was forced to pay $29 million.

The Republicans who are telling Romney to release the tax returns have found a solution for his second problem, outsourcing. Jonah Goldberg summarized their position: “Outsourcing isn’t evil. Building businesses overseas doesn’t necessarily cost American a thing, and it often creates wealth and value both here and abroad.”

The 170 workers losing their jobs in Freeport (IL) because Bain owns their jobs disagree with Goldberg. In 2006 Bain bought Sensata Technologies, based in Attleboro (MA), and plans to move production to China during the month of this year’s election despite the fact that the business has never lost money. The city council has drafted a resolution that “calls on Mitt Romney to come to Freeport to meet the people directly affected by Bain Capital’s outsourcing and to step in and stop the outsourcing of these jobs from Freeport to China.” Although Romney does not operate Bain, he does have a controlling financial interest.

Robert Reich wrote that the biggest problem with corporations is that they have no concern for the people of the United States. He quoted an Apple executive who told the New York Times, “we don’t have an obligation to solve America’s problems. Our only obligation is making the best product possible.” Reich might have added “and showing profits big enough to continually increase our share price.” Apple’s employment of 43,000 people in the United States is dwarfed by their contracts with over 700,000 workers overseas. U.S. workers get six percent of what people pay for an iPhone.

The Republicans who would solve the problem of outsourcing by  lowering salaries in this country and perhaps getting rid of the minimum wage overlook the fact that Chinese workers live in company dormitories where they can be called up to work any time day and night. Apple assembles iPhones in China both because wages are low there and because Apple’s Chinese contractors can quickly mobilize workers from company dorms at almost any hour of the day or night.

Reich also cited another reason for outsourcing as this country not educating young people to do the necessary high tech jobs farmed out to Japan and Germany, in large part because the government does not pay for education. While this country forces young people to ratchet up high student loans, China invests in world-class universities and research centers.

The United States also has substandard transportation and communication systems compared to other countries. Outmoded ports, congested roads, and faulty bridges damage the opportunities for people to have jobs in this nation.

Without support from corporations, this situation will only exacerbate. Without government requiring corporate support, these companies will continue to outsource. All they want are lower taxes and fewer regulations. To get what they want, they buy elections.

Goldberg needs to know the following results of outsourcing:

U.S. multinationals cut their U.S. workforces by 2.9 million in the 2000s while increasing employment overseas by 2.4 million, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Bush tax cuts may have caused the 35 biggest U.S.-based companies to add jobs, but almost three-fourths of these jobs were offshore.

U.S. manufacturing has suffered the biggest blow from offshoring. Working America reported that manufacturing jobs dropped every month for 43 months—the longest stretch since the Great Depression—between August 2000 and February 2004. Between 1998 and 2008, the time that George W. Bush gave corporations big tax cuts to create jobs, the number of manufacturing plants shrank 12.5 percent. The country lost 51,000 plants during those ten years, plants that gave stable, middle-class jobs.

Revenue from the global electronics contract manufacturing industry reached $360 billion in 2011 and is expected to expand to $426 billion by 2015. These companies contract outside firms primarily in third-world countries. Other huge companies, Nike for example, subcontracts all its shoe production to foreign companies.

Private equity firms have upped the competition between corporations by creating the fear that if CEOs don’t run their businesses to maximize short-term profits and share prices that they will be taken over by a company like Bain Capital. Their answer is outsourcing. If they lose the company to a company like Bain, “the standard strategy has been to load up company executives with so much stock and stock options that they don’t hesitate to make difficult decisions such as shedding divisions, closing plants or outsourcing work overseas,” according to Steve Pearlstein, a professor of public and international affairs at George Mason University and a Pulitzer-prize winning columnist.

Three-fourths of the companies surveyed by Duke’s Fuqua School of Business gave labor costs as their reason to relocate offshore, but this is becoming a weaker excuse for taking jobs away from the United States.  The labor cost gap between the U.S. and China has shrunk by almost 50 percent within the last eight years; this gap is project to be just 16 percent by next year. Fuel prices are also rising, increasing the costs of transportation.

The same survey showed that “only 4 percent of large companies had future plans for relocating jobs back to the United States.” No reason was given, but Seth Hanlon thinks that their reluctance is the U.S. tax code that “rewards companies for making investments abroad—and leads to them shifting offices, factories, and jobs abroad even if similar investments in the United States would be more profitable absent tax considerations.”

Tax loopholes and porous rules allow multinational companies to avoid U.S. taxes by reporting much of their profits in tax havens such as Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. That may be why Romney is fond of these tax havens. Shifting profits into tax havens costs the U.S. Treasury tens of billions of dollars in revenue every year. While President Obama wants a law that benefits companies for keeping jobs in the United States, Romney wants to make U.S. corporations’ overseas profits exempt from U.S. taxes, understandable because this would financially benefit him.

Today, the Senate tried to vote on the Bring Jobs Home Act to end taxes that reward companies that ship jobs overseas and instead provide a tax cut for American businesses that move overseas jobs and business activity back to America. A filibuster killed the bill was killed with a 56-42 vote; it’s the standard Republican position that 60 out of 100 votes are required to pass any Senate bill. The three brave Republican senators voting against the filibuster were Susan Collins (ME), Olympia Snowe (ME), and Scott Brown (MA). Therefore the Senate Republican “majority” of 41 men and 3 women have determined that taxpayers must continue to pay for the offshoring of jobs.

According to The Hill, Republicans wouldn’t vote for a bill to bring jobs back to the United States because they wanted to include an amendment repealing the Affordable Care Act. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D-NV) said, “It’s no surprise Republicans are on the side of corporations making big bucks sending American jobs to China and India. After all, their presidential nominee, Mitt Romney, made a fortune outsourcing jobs, too.”

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