Nel's New Day

May 20, 2017

DDT: Week Seventeen outside Russia

You Can Make a Difference: You can make your voice heard! The Department of Interior is considering rollbacks for protections of up to 27 national monuments;  the public comment period ends on May 26 for Utah’s Bears Ears and on July 20 for all the others. All the monuments, created after 1996, that are considered for the chopping block are larger than 100,000 acres. They were created through the 1906 Antiquities Act, but the law has never been used to eliminate them. The plan by Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is probably to open these public lands to logging, mining, and grazing. One of the monuments being considered is the Grand Canyon-Parashant on the north side of the Colorado River. More advice on protesting the elimination of public lands.

Last week’s news about DDT concentrated on connections with Russia, including his telling Russian officials in the Oval Office that former FBI director James Comey is a “nut job” and firing him took off “great pressure because of Russia.” But DDT was surrounded by far more issues.

DDT’s lack of financial transparency has become murkier since his tax attorneys told him to submit an updated financial disclosure in lieu of his tax returns without signing it, meaning that he won’t certify the information as true. Director of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub, said that his office required DDT’s signature for certification, and DDT claimed that he will certify the information by mid-June. Without the signature, incorrect financial information cannot result in a fine or referral for criminal persecution. The same lawyers at Morgan Lewis also wrote a letter testifying to DDT’s lack of financial ties with Russia except for about $100 million. The longtime firm for the Trump Organization was named Russia Law Firm of the Year in 2016.

Sheriff David Clarke, under scrutiny for the death of a man denied water for a week in Clarke’s jail in Milwaukee (WI), said he will be assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security. He calls transgender people mentally ill, that they lead a “freakish lifestyle, and he asked for “pitchforks and torches” in response to the Supreme Court legalizing marriage equality. Clarke also referred to Islam as “a sick ideology” and that “we ought to just try to kill it.” He plagiarized chunks of his 2013 master’s thesis on U.S. security and wears medals that are probably not legitimate, according to veterans.

Another inappropriate DDT nominee is his possible selection of former Sen. Joe Lieberman for FBI director. In addition to great antipathy from Democrats because of his past actions, Lieberman is employed by the law firm that has represented DDT for at least six years. Nominating the 75-year-old man would indicate a heavy politicization for a position that should be independent and separate from any branches of the government, including the executive. His selection of the lately-come conservative, however, fits DDT’s neocon philosophy because Lieberman fails to see the importance of Bill of Rights protections.

DDT also plans to appoint Newt Gingrich’s ex-mistress and now wife, Callista, as ambassador to the Vatican. At least the country would have one woman.

DDT’s hosting his tyrant-of-the-week, Turkish President Recep Erdogan, led to the injury of 11 people when members of Erdogan’s security detail attacked peaceful protesters across from the Turkish embassy. Nine of the injured were sent to the hospital after Erdogan watched the attack from his car. The Turkish government described the protesters as “terrorists” and said that the demonstrators were being “provocative.” DDT said nothing about the attacks but compliments Erdogan for his leadership. New Jersey resident Ceren Borazan, one of the attack victims wrote:

“My Kurdish friends and allies were protesting peacefully against Erdogan being in Washington when were suddenly attacked by a group of Erdogan’s official bodyguards and secret police. They attacked women, children and elderly with reckless abandon.”

Borazan was strangled, punched and kicked by Erdogan’s personal guards. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said, “This is the United States of America. We do not do this here. There is no excuse for this thuggish behavior.” Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) agreed and called on the State Department and DOJ to press charges. He said, “Agents of foreign governments should never be immune from prosecution for felonious behavior.” The attackers are probably protected by diplomatic immunity.

The GOP party that claims a belief in states’ rights has blocked a rule encouraging states to create retirement plans for private-sector workers whose employers don’t provide these plans. The rule would have exempted these state plans from the law that outlines rules for workplace savings. Last month the GOP eliminated this benefit for cities and counties. In fact, the rollback of the rule sends more money to Wall Street, showing that the GOP loves regulations that send money to the wealthiest. The GOP plan keeps people from saving before taking away their Social Security.

With the daily DDT scandals, Republican members of Congress are avoiding television appearances. CBS This Morning invited 20 Republican lawmakers and White House staff to appear on the program; they all declined. Chris Hayes reported the same for his MSNBC program. Even Fox is having trouble, and Tucker Carlson said that Kellyanne Conway backed out of her scheduled appearance on his show.. Fox and Friends had to resort to its news of the day—the cancellation of Tim Allen’s sitcom.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer may be on the way out, and Fox host Kimberly Guilfoyle, self-proclaimed “patriot,” has said that she’s “in conversations” for the job. She lists “deep knowledge” as a requirement for the job, but she’s already passed the “leaking” qualification.  Another one is her support for a leader—like Putin or Netanyahu—who can easily destroy ISIS with military force, troops, and bombings. Putin, according to Guilfoyle, could fix the United States if he led the country for 48 hours. Her strongest credential for DDT, however, is her statement on Fox that James Clapper said in his Senate testimony about Russia that “there is no evidence of collusion.” That’s what DDT said, but Clapper said the opposite.

The White House staff members have become so manipulative that they are feeding DDT false information. K.T. McFarland gave DDT a printout of two Time covers about a coming ice age and surviving global warming. DDT doesn’t look at the Internet so he didn’t know that 1970s cover were part of a hoax circulating for years. He attaches so much significance to printouts he receives that they guide his agenda and control his appointments. Last February someone gave DDT a printout from the fake GotNews.com about deputy chief of staff Katie Walsh being behind numerous leaks, and she was forced out of the White House.

Imagine if Dictator Donald Trump had to pay expenses—including those for the Secret Service—to travel to his own properties where he makes money from the visits? That’s a bill that Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) has introduced. The Stop Waste and Misuse by the President (SWAMP) Act states that Trump’s travel “results in the American taxpayer effectively subsidizing the president’s businesses.”

DDT sniveled his way through a graduation address at the Coast Guard Academy, well described here. In response to his complaint that “no politician in history … has been treated worse or more unfairly,” CNN’s Jake Tapper responded, “Four U.S. Presidents have been actually literally assassinated and killed.” DDT was addressing young people who will be putting themselves into physical danger—unlike DDT who dodged the draft.

A couple bits of good news: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signed the Fairbanks Declaration over a week ago, indicating the need to slow the impact of climate change in the Arctic. And the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal for the decision from the 4th Circuit Court to strike down North Carolina’s voter restriction law. A judge in the lower court ruling had stated that the state’s ballot restrictions targeted black voters “with almost surgical precision.” The law had required approved ID, dropped early voting from 17 to 10 days, stopped out-of-precinct voting, blocked same-day registration and voting, and eliminating preregistration by 16-year-olds. It may be a temporary fix because GOP state legislators are already planning another path to voter suppression.

Update on Jason Chaffetz from the May 10 post: He announced his resignation on June 30 and told lawmakers that he’ll be on the Fox network. Even conservatives are not happy about his bailing out a job he took only six months ago. Why is he leaving? Family is always cited, but does he think that the Russian scandal could bring him down? Meanwhile, colleagues are telling him to immediately step down from his committee chair position.

DDT may think that his days are numbered in the White House. He’s put his Caribbean estate for sale at a greatly inflated price, probably looking for another Russian billionaire to grab it up while DDT is still supposedly president. Emolument’s Clause, anyone?

Robin Bell’s projection art at DDT’s Washington hotel is the most recent in the anti-DDT artistic movement and the fifth of his Bell’s projections. This one protests DDT’s on-going violation of the Emoluments Clause preventing him from taking “gifts” from foreign nations.

A picture is worth a thousand words! A rogue Barnes & Noble shopper revised the book display touting Ivanka Trump’s new book.

May 12, 2017

DDT: Week Sixteen, Moving into Paranoia

The week began with all eyes on testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee from former Attorney General Sally Yates, but attention rapidly segued to Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) firing of James Comey, the FBI director who refused to stop investigation his involvement with Russia. The third senior Justice Department officials investigating DDT who was fired in less than four months, he follows DDT’s victims Sally Yates and Preet Bharara. Less media attention, however, was paid to DDT’s hosting Russian officials in the White House the day after Comey’s unorthodox firing. U.S. journalists were banned from the event, and the only visuals of the meeting with Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were photographed by the Russian state-owned news agency. The Washington Post raised questions about a security breach, citing issues about listening devices or other surveillance equipment being brought into the Oval Office. Intelligence officials noted that standard screenings might not identify an espionage device. The White House claimed that they were told the photographer worked for Lavrov, not that he worked for the Russian agency. A White House official, “They tricked us.” Either it’s true, which is scary. Or it wasn’t true, which is scary. A White House spokesman explained that DDT hosted the meeting “because Putin asked him to.” Again, scary.

Melissa McCarthy has already started preparing a Saturday Night Live sketch imitating Press Secretary Sean Spicer hiding in the bushes from reporters. A group of journalists caught him after he finished up a short interview with the friendly Fox business folks and met with his staff behind a tall hedge, but a groups of journalists wanted to ask him about Comey’s firing. He came out of the shrubbery and shouted, “Just turn the lights off. Turn the lights off…. Can you just turn that light off?” Since WaPo issued the following correction about its story:

“Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to more precisely describe White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s location late Tuesday night in the minutes before he briefed reporters. Spicer huddled with his staff among bushes near television sets on the White House grounds, not ‘in the bushes,’ as the story originally stated.”

How many FBI officials does DDT need to fire for control?  Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the FBI had not lost faith in Comey, contradicting a DDT reason for Comey’s firing. He added that it was the “greatest privilege” of his professional career to work with Comey. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein threatened to quit because DDT presented him as the architect of the firing. And DDT now contradicts everything that his White House officials and VP Mike Pence have presented to the media. In an interview with Lester Holt, DDT said, “When I decided to just do it, I said to myself … this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story.” Firing someone to deliberately block an investigation is an impeachable offense. After the Holt interview, in which DDT called Comey a “grandstander” and “showboat,” the FBI disinvited DDT to FBI Headquarters, saying that “the optics would not be good.”

The Senate has subpoenaed fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to appear at a hearing about Russian interference in the recent election. The joint chairs of the Intelligence Committee had requested materials from him on April 28, but he refused. Flynn had previously offered to testify before the Senate and House intelligence committees in exchange for immunity, but he didn’t find any takers. Among Flynn’s problems are his taking payments from Russia and Turkey while giving them information. The committee has received only two responses in requests for documents from DDT associates.

In DDT’s attempt to find those three million voters who voted for Hillary Clinton last year and gave her a majority, he signed an executive order for a commission to review fraud and voter suppression in the nation’s election system with the possible intent of rigging the 2018 elections. If he were sincere, he could find almost zero of the first and a massive amount of the second—mostly through state legislation. After the election, ABC contacted officials in all 50 states and found that voter fraud was “very” or “extremely” rare. DDT’s leader, however, is Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State who is extremely successful in finding voter fraud everywhere in places where it doesn’t exist for the sole purpose of voter suppression.

In another action, DDT broke a century-long tradition requiring senators to approve judicial nominees who sit on federal courts in their states. To ensure a right-wing court system, he has nominated ten unvetted lawyers for lifetime judges on federal courts without consulting any senators.

A few days after DDT defunded members of the Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), claiming it was “unconstitutional,” Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was booed when she gave the graduation address at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach (FL). DeVos has her own issues with HBCUs, referring them as a sort of pilot program for schools of choice while ignoring the fact that people went there not out of choice but because they weren’t permitted into white schools. In the speech, the billionaire who forced legislation to move many Michigan students into failing religious schools funded by taxpayers said:

“We must first listen and then speak with humility to genuinely hear the perspectives of those with whom we don’t immediately or instinctively agree.”

Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index lost half the gains it made since DDT’s election, going from +16 to +3. Fewer Americans last week said the economy was “getting better” (45%) than said it was “getting worse” (49%), leaving the economic outlook component at -4, its worst score since Nov. 7-13, when it measured -5. The rating is almost 20 points below its recent high of +15 set in early March. DDT is down to a 36 percent approval, and that was before he fired Comey. The percentages for his characteristics are also very low.

No matter the intention behind Comey’s firing—distraction, avoidance, shock, chaos—scholars on authoritarianism agree that DDT’s goal is to “uproot the system,” according to Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Professor of History and Italian Studies at NYU. We’ve watched his obsession with issuing executive orders, his aggressive opposition toward the media, and his love for “alternative facts” while GOP politicians enable him for their own personal advantage. In a recent event, a reporter was arrested for asking Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price whether or not domestic violence survivors would have difficulty getting insurance under Trumpcare.

Ben-Ghiat said, “Democracy is threatened in drips.” She draws parallels between DDT and authoritarian leaders of Turkey and Hungary who undermine society by chipping at democratic institutions while greatly expanding their power. The people of the United States, however, may be developing a bit more savvy about DDT’s techniques after 16 weeks: 54 percent of the people think that the firing was inappropriate, and only 24 percent think that the reason was Hillary Clinton’s emails, DDT’s original stated reason.

Progressives had one win this week. After a spate of successful bills overturning President Obama’s regulations, the Senate voted against a resolution to nullify a clean air regulation the last day before the GOP could do this without a filibuster. In the 51-49 vote, Sens. John McCain (AZ), Susan Collins (ME), and Lindsey Graham (SC)  joined the Democrats. The Congressional Review Act, successfully used only once before DDT allows repeal of regulations within 60 days of being submitted to Congress, has been used in he past 100 days to reverse 15 regulations from President Obama.

The regulation that stayed updates 30-year-old regulations about venting, flaring, and leaks of natural gas on public and Native American lands to help stop waste of natural resources. It helps protect the climate while saving taxpayers $330 million a year. Colorado, one of the two states that already have this regulation, have seen an overwhelmingly positive response from the residents, including Republicans, and increased both job production and natural gas production, a contradiction to arguments from the conservative opposition.

DDT didn’t wait until this weekend to issue crazy tweets. First he threatened to stop press briefings from the White House after the media pointed out all the inconsistencies regarding DDT’s method and reasoning for firing Comey. He ratcheted up his paranoid almost to the level of former President Richard Nixon when he threatened Comey:

“James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

DDT has not denied that he taped meetings or records conversations in the Oval Office. Witness intimidation is a crime, and DDT threatened former Attorney General Sally Yates before she testified last Monday to a Senate hearing:

“Ask Sally Yates, under oath, if she knows how classified information got into the newspapers soon after she explained it to W.H. Council [sic].”

DDT also violated the Presidential Records Act by attempting to scrub the tweet with the misspelled tweet and replacing it with the corrected version. All his tweets must be kept as official records of his public remarks. DDT may still not know that all his tweets belong to the people of the United States.

Hard to believe that these are the actions of a man supposed to be the leader of the “free world.”

November 7, 2016

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

Filed under: Voting — trp2011 @ 8:53 PM
Tags: , ,

 

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.

October 31, 2016

U.S. Republicans Suppress Votes

The election is rigged, claims Donald Trump, and Iowa made the first arrest in 2016 for voter fraud. Terri Rote, 55, tried to vote for Trump at two separate polling stations in Des Moines and faces up to five years if convicted. She claimed that she was afraid that her first vote would be changed to Clinton. The system worked because she was caught. Investigation into the accusation that dead people were voting showed that some of these voters were mistakenly listed on death rolls, some had the same or similar names to dead people in their districts, and with others poll workers mistakenly scanned the wrong barcode on the voter rolls.

voter-protection-fake-badgeVoter fraud is the GOP excuse for suppressing the vote across the nation because Republicans think they can’t win in a fair contest. Trump  is sending people—including militia members and off-duty law enforcement officials–to take video and still cameras to search for voter fraud in nine cities with high minority populations. Roger Stone’s “Vote Protectors” are to have fake but official-looking ID badges to intimidate voters and livestream their images on the internet. Huffington Post printed off this “badge” from Stone’s website. The “badge” information is gone, but Stone still asks his “protectors” to execute “exit polls” to contest any Trump losses. In Ohio, Steve Webb plans to closely follow any voting minorities “to make them a little bit nervous.”

These actions could cause trouble for the RNC. In 1981, Stone helped the GOP New Jersey gubernatorial candidate win with a “ballot security” force wearing black armbands to intimidate minority voters. A lawsuit led to a Consent Decree on the RNC due to be lifted next year. It could be extended for at least eight years if the DNC wins its lawsuit showing current intimidation, including Stone’s message on social media that “poll watchers” should wear red shirts on Election Day as they supervise minority populations.

GOP-controlled states are also suppressing the vote:

Nevada: Despite orders from federal district Judge Miranda Du to provide early voting and Election Day polling sites on Indian reservations for the Nevada’s largest tribes, the state’s GOP Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske decided that she didn’t need to do this for any tribes not so ordered. Members of the Duckwater Shoshone Reservation must drive 275 miles roundtrip to register and vote, but Cegavske said that their request came 24 hours late. She stated several concerns including not knowing who could “investigate and prosecute potential election law violations occurring on sovereign tribal lands.” Her office has earlier set up extra polling places in fewer than 48 hours if the voters didn’t seem to be largely Democratic. Cegavske belongs to the Koch-owned ALEC.

North Carolina: Several of the nation’s most restrictive voter suppression laws were struck down earlier this year; judges wrote that North Carolina enacted these laws to “target African Americans with almost surgical precision.” The GOP has other ways to continue suppressing the vote, for example long wait times in 18 counties, including the largest four, that have lost most of the early-voting locations and have as little as three percent of the votes in 2012. In the other 82 counties, voting has averaged one-fourth more than 2012. Guilford County, with a population of almost one-half million people, lost 15 of the 16 early-voting locations from 2012. Voters at North Carolina A&T State University, a black college with over 10,000 students, must travel at least a mile away because its campus early-voting location was removed from campus.

north-carolina-voting

Another suppression system in the state is removing voters from the rolls. Grace Harrison, 100, was one of 100 Beaufort County residents—mostly black—who had consistently voted for decades but were forced to attend an in-person hearing to defend their right to vote because one piece of mail was bounced back from their addresses. The NAACP is suing the state because the National Voter Registration Act bans the removal of voters during the last 90 days before the election, and they must have more chances to respond to the mail. Part of the lawsuit also concerns the failure of the state to add tens of thousands of voters to the rolls who registered at a DMV over the past few years.

Gov. Pat McCrory, leader of the state’s “potty police” laws against transgender people and Trump supporter, cheered about the success of his alternate suppression techniques because Democratic voters were “not coming out” to the polls.

Ohio: A federal court order kept Ohio from purging 200,000 voter registrations just last week because they had not cast ballots since 2012. These voters may be disenfranchised, however, because their provisional ballots are frequently thrown out in Republican-controlled states. The state refuses to send these voters absentee ballots. The purge hit twice the number of people living in Democratic-leaning areas and targeted black residents in low socioeconomic neighborhoods and the homeless.

Texas: A court removed some restrictions on voting as a “poll tax” because the state-mandated IDs were more expensive than the sometimes free IDs not permitted for voting. Two years later, the federal appeals court ruled that the law discriminated against minority voters. Yet Texas officials found an easy way to continue voter suppression: they simply lie to the people about the necessary documents for voting. A federal judge ruled that voters can bring documents showing their names and addresses to the polls as identification and sign a statement saying that they had a “reasonable impediment” to getting a photo ID. Voting has started, and polls are still using outdated posters that list only the old rules. Poll workers tell voters in lines to have their photo IDs ready without telling people how to vote without these IDs. In a poll of 1,000 registered voters, only one-fourth of the respondents knew that a photo ID is not necessary to vote with ethnic minorities far more confused than white voters about regulations.

Indiana: Almost 45,000 newly-registered voters, almost all black, may not be able to vote because police raided the Indiana Voter Registration Project and seized documents on October 4—just one week before the end of the state’s early registration period. No one knows why, but the GOP vice-presidential candidate is still governor of Indiana and a close friend of Doug Carter, the superintendent of the Indiana State Police. Prior to the closure of the voter registration, police detectives went to the homes of people registering voters “to interrogate them.”

Wisconsin: Voters at the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay asked for an early-voting location on the grounds because of long voting lines during the primary, but Green Bay City Clerk Kris Teske refused, saying it lacked the necessary resources. Privately, however, Teske wrote that student voting would benefit the Democratic Party in an email to David Buerger, counsel at the Wisconsin Ethics Commission. Teske was appointed by GOP Gov. Scott Walker.

Georgia: As many as 100,000 voter-registration applications weren’t processed by the state that also refused to extent voter-registration deadlines despite the devastating Hurricane Matthew. GOP Secretary of State Brian Kemp, election overseer, said that “we can’t sit back and watch the radical left create chaos in our state” after the ACLU asked a court to reopen voter registration for the counties hardest hit by the hurricane. In an effort to intimidate voters, Georgia also moved a polling precinct for mostly black voters from a gymnasium to the sheriff’s office. Gwinnett County in suburban Atlanta has only one early-voting precinct for a population of almost 900,000 people.

Florida: When Gov. Rick Scott refused to extend the time for voter registration because of the hurricane, a judge overturned not only his decision but also the mandate that a signature on absentee ballots exactly match the original one which could be 50 years old.

James Comey, FBI director, may be responsible for the largest vote-rigging in the nation. His letter to legislators—not his responsibility—stated that the discovery of more “Clinton emails” might not be significant but should be investigated. The “existence” of these emails was released almost a month after they were found, and there’s no indication that any of the emails are either from or to Hillary Clinton. Yet Comey has allowed Republican House Oversight Chair Jason Chaffetz  to state that the FBI has “reopened” the case against Clinton, another falsehood.

The man who cheerfully released what he hoped was damaging information about Clinton said he didn’t tell people that Russia is meddling in the country’s election because he might influence voting. When Comey sat on that information, the DHS made it public. In the Clinton case, Comey found transparency important; in the Trump case, he wanted to hide what he knew.

James O’Keefe, who tried to make highly edited videos to lie about the Clinton campaign “rigging” Trump’s campaign, may be responsible for illegal wiretapping. Earlier O’Keefe videos destroyed ACORN and came close to destroying Planned Parenthood. Now he wants to destroy Clinton.

As people consider their beliefs, they need to know that the more they hear a statement—true or false—the more likely they are to believe it. Voter fraud, lack of trust in Clinton—the lies are embedded into minds in an “illusion of truth.” It’s much easier to believe in generalities than to search for facts.

November 3, 2014

Election 2014 Results Announced Tomorrow

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 7:25 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

The NRA claims that it just wants to keep guns in the hands of people for hunting and an occasional protection from house break-ins. In the organization’s most recent issue of America’s 1st Freedom publication, Wayne LaPierre has gone over the edge in trying to terrify NRA members. He claims that people in the United States face these terrors:

  • An electromagnetic pulse attack (EMP) that can kill “as much as 90 percent of the population of the U.S.” through the reemergence of “Third World” diseases such as “amoebic dysentery, typhoid, [and] cholera–killing our youngest and frailest family members.”
  • A cyber attack that can put “our economy into a tailspin” and become “deadly” if hackers take over a dam or oil processing facility.
  • An attack “along the lines of the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, India, where terrorists launched a dozen coordinated attacks, gunning down innocent victims at hotels, a bar, a train station, a hospital and a movie theater,” killing 164 people.
  • An incident similar to a 2013 terrorist attack on a mall in Kenya where “[f]our armed terrorists linked to al Qaeda were able–thanks to Kenya’s strict anti-gun laws–to spend four days torturing, mutilating and gunning down shoppers with almost no fear of reprisal.”

Every proposed disaster—meteor strike, meteor strike, a solar flare, mall terrorists, crop failures, roving Mexican drug gangs—ends with the chance to kill people. The NRA wants gun-friendly candidates, not to have guns for hunting but to have weapons that give everyone the chance to kill people without government interference.

New Hampshire State GOP chairman Jennifer Horn calls for more GOP violence in describing its campaigning against Democrats:

 “This is our time. We need to crush it. We need to grab it, run with it, push their heads under over and over again until they cannot breathe anymore, until the elections are over Tuesday night.”

Sen. Rand Paul believes in voter suppression but wants the GOP candidates to stop talking about how they want to suppress minority and low-income voters’ input to their elected representatives:

 “It doesn’t mean that I think [photo ID is] unreasonable, I just think it’s a dumb idea for Republicans to emphasize this and say ‘this is how we are going to win the elections.”

On Face the Nation, Paul told Bob Schieffer, “I’m not really opposed to [voter ID laws]. I am opposed to it as a campaign theme.”

On the accuracy of the candidate polling for tomorrow’s election:

According to the new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, the two major political parties are almost neck-and-neck in which party should control Congress: 46 percent want the GOP to have the control, and 45 percent prefer the Democrats. Yet a poll of registered voters, Democrat control is four points ahead of the GOP: 46 percent to 42 percent. State-wide polling shows the same schism between likely and registered voters. In Iowa, Democrat Bruce Braley leads six points in the senate race against Joni Ernst but trails for two points among likely voters. Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan leads by two points with likely voters but by six points with registered voters.

For the Election Day poll-watching junkies, here are the closing times of polls across the United States:

Poll_closing_times_map_-_Nov._4__2014

There are some of the races that I’m watching:

6 PM ET: Kentucky – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pitched against Alison Lundergan Grimes.

7 PM ET: Florida – incumbent Gov. Rick Scott against former GOP (now Democrat) Charlie Crist.

Georgia – Jimmy Carter’s grandson, Jason Carter, opposing incumbent Gov. Nathan Deal; Michelle Nunn trying to change one senate member to a Democrat over red, send-jobs-out-of-the-country David Perdue. A runoff is required if not one gets over 50 percent in these races.

New Hampshire – carpet-bagger and former MA senator, Scott Brown, trying to take out Democrat incumbent Jeanne Shaheen.

South Carolina- question of whether GOP incumbent Gov. Nikki Haley keeps her job.

7:30 PM ET: North Carolina – Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan working to keep her lead against Thom Tillis.

8 PM ET: Kansas – possibly the biggest upset in the nation if Democrats win against Gov. Sam Brownback and Sen. Pat Robertson. Part of the state won’t finish voting until an hour later.

Maine – A Democrat and moderate independent against incumbent GOP Gov. Paul LePage.

Massachusetts – Democrat Martha Coakley fighting to be the governor, a position that she’s lost before.

Michigan – GOP Gov. Rick Snyder, famous for putting dictators into cities and other municipalities, trying to keep his job, and GOP Terri Lynn Land trying to buy a seat in the senate.

Pennsylvania – Democrat Tom Wolf likely to beat out Gov. Tom Corbett (fingers crossed!).

8:30 pm ET: Arkansas – Sen. Mark Pryor classified the most vulnerable Democratic senator in the country up against the Koch brothers Tom Cotton.

9 PM ET: Arizona – Rep. Ron Barber, aide to Rep. Gabby Gifford when she was shot, fighting GOP Martha McSally for a second term.

Colorado – Sen. Mark Udall struggling to keep his blue seat against a personhood candidate.

Louisiana – Democrat Sen. Mary Landrieu likely to face a runoff when neither candidates get more than 50 percent.

Wisconsin – GOP Gov. Scott Walker in another tight race against Mary Burke.

10 PM ET: Iowa – the question about whether the pig castrating, shoot-people-who-disagree-with-her GOP senate Joni Ernst can win.

11 PM ET: Washington & Oregon – more questions about initiatives than candidates.

12/1 am ET: Alaska – the struggle with Sen. Mark Begich keeping his seat.

I’m lucky: I dropped my ballot off today with no stress—no photo ID and no standing in lines. When Oregon started this voting process, I worried about coercion from spouses and churches in completing ballots. Watching the rest of the country—for example, the way that North Carolina computers are changing Democrat votes to Republican—I’m grateful that I’m living in a state that believes in citizen representation in elections.

October 23, 2014

Conservatives Want to Stop Votes from Minorities, Women

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 8:54 PM
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Delivering absentee ballots in Arizona is legal, but A.J. LaFaro, chairman of the Maricopa County Republican Committee, became highly incensed that Ben Marine brought in a number of them into a polling station. LaFaro complained that Marine was “a vulgar, disrespectful, violent thug that has no respect for our laws. I would have followed him to the parking lot to take down his tag number but I feared for my life.” Maybe it was because Marine was wearing a Citizens for a Better Arizona (CBA) shirt. Or maybe it was because he is brown? LaFaro posted a video of Marine on YouTube, and comments read:

 “This is a high crime, it is treason to this country and a betrayal of democracy. This should be a crime punishable by death.”

“I am going to find this illegal-loving scumbag and kill him.”

James-OKeefe-638x425Because voter fraud is almost nonexistent, James O’Keefe, the undercover pimp who targeted the community organizing group ACORN, is trying to create it in Colorado that will vote by mail for the first time this year. Several times, he and his associates have asked Sen. Mark Udall’s staffers, offering to fill out ballots for other people. One of O’Keefe’s people is masquerading as a member of a nonexistent LGBT activist group called Rocky Mountain Vote Pride. Turned away after his offer of filling out mail-in ballots for college student who had moved away but still got mail on a Boulder campus, he came back with a “civics professor” who was, in fact, O’Keefe. One might question if these people should be arrested themselves for voter fraud.

Women don’t need males on the Fox network to declare war on them when Fox has women paid to denigrate those of their own gender. After Fox’s The Five co-host Greg Gutfeld said that young women aren’t smart enough to vote as conservatives, co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle said that they should be excused from jury duty because they lack life experience and just “don’t get it.” Tucker Carlson has voiced the same opinion earlier when he criticized a GOP campaign that encouraged young women to vote. On Outnumbered, he said , “You want your government run by people … whose favorite show is Say Yes To The Dress?”

Kevin D. Williamson echoed the sentiment on National Review Online:

“I would like to suggest, as gently as I can, that if you are voting as an act of self-gratification, if you do not understand the role that voting in fact plays in a constitutional republic…, you should not vote. If you get your politics from actors and your news from television comedians — you should not vote. There’s no shame in it, your vote is statistically unlikely to affect the outcome of an election, and there are many much more meaningful ways to serve your country and your fellow man: Volunteer at a homeless shelter; join the Marine Corps; become a nun; start a business.”

When a Wisconsin citizen, Heba Mohammad, wrote her alderman, Chris Wery, if the city could provide busing for poor and elderly people to vote, he said that he needed proof that she wasn’t a terrorist before he could answer her. Word got out that he was bullying Mohammad, and he—sort-of—apologized in the Green Bay newspaper, the Press-Gazette: “I phrased it wrong. It was the wrong setting. And I apologized for that.” He then sent a follow-up email to Mohammad saying that he didn’t want people to get a “free day” of busing.

As chairman of the Republican Governors Association, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is back on the campaign trail with compelling reasons why GOP governors should be elected: they need to control “voting mechanisms” in order to win the White House in 2016. That’s what he told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The GOP is very afraid that a fair voting system might result in majority votes against their party.

When a Michigan citizen told a representative of a state GOP House candidate, Todd Courser, that she was voting for his opponent, she got a surprising response. The caller said, “Would you change your vote if you knew that Margaret Guerrero DeLuca had faggots and blacks working for her?” According to Courser, his goal is to take over the Michigan GOP. He’s also under investigation by state police, county prosecutors, and Michigan election officials for allegations of violating the state election law, representing himself as an incumbent on campaign signs, misuse of campaign resources.

Running for U.S. senator in Nevada two years ago, Sharon Angle said, “If this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies.” Iowa now has its “Second Amendment” candidate for U.S. senate: Joni Ernst. Two years ago, she also said that she would use a gun to defend herself from the government. As Paul Waldman wrote in the Washington Post:

“I don’t care how many times you praise the Founding Fathers or talk about your love of the Constitution, if you think that the way to resolve policy differences or personal arguments with the government is not just by trying to get different people elected or waging a campaign to change the laws or filing suits in court, but through the use of violence against the government, you have announced that you have no commitment to democracy. In the American system, we don’t say that if the government enacts policies we don’t like, we’ll start killing people.”

Many GOP elected officials and candidates like Ernst describe the president’s two elections, the Affordable Care Act, and anything else that they don’t like as “tyranny” and “facism.” They do this at the same time that they work to rig elections in their favor–and threaten to kill anyone who gets in their way. It’s the Cliven Bundy approach.

After Wisconsin’s voter ID law was delayed until after the November 4 election, conservatives in Wisconsin have a new intimidation ploy. Milwaukee County’s Republican Elections Commissioner Rick Baas urged his crowd of supporters to take an “extra step of vigilance.” State law allows anyone to go within three feet of voters and then challenge the validity of their votes. They also have to swear under oath that they have firsthand knowledge that the person is not qualified, but that probably won’t slow down some of the fanatics.

The New Georgia Project, an officially nonpartisan group, reported that it registered 86,000 new voters, but many of these registrations are nowhere to be found because the state’s GOP Secretary of State Brian Kemp failed to process as many as 40,000 of these. Unable to settle the situation otherwise, the group filed a lawsuit against Kemp and five county boards of elections. One of five counties was settled, but a hearing is set for tomorrow in Fulton County Superior Court.

Last July, Kemp, who is supposed to be in charge of a bi-partisan election, commented on the registration of these voters:

“The Democrats are working hard, and all these stories about them, you know, registering all these minority voters that are out there and others that are sitting on the sidelines, if they can do that, they can win these elections in November.”

He added that a higher level of scrutiny was necessary for these registration. “We don’t know who these people are or where they come from.” With 25 of the 80,000 registrations proven to be fraudulent, Kemp started a much deeper investigation into the group’s registration drive. The 0.03 percentage of problems is far lower than the national average of 13.9 percent problems.

In Hong Kong, top official, Chun-ying Leung, said that open elections would result in the poor of the territory in control. For that reason, he thinks that free elections are impossible. “If it’s entirely a numbers game and numeric representation, then obviously you’d be talking to the half of the people in Hong Kong who earn less than US$1,800 a month,” he said in an interview.

Leung’s comments shouldn’t be surprising because his opinion prevails in the U.S. Republican party.

October 14, 2014

Voting, Women’s Health in Flux

Trying to predict the U.S. Supreme Court has become very difficult. Today, six justices re-opened several women’s health clinics in Texas by suspending a ruling from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. Texas law had closed over 80 percent of the health clinics, including all those west and south of the one in San Antonio.

TexasAbortionOctober The Court let part of the state law to stand but blocked the provision requiring clinics to have the same construction and nursing-staff standards as ambulatory surgical centers and exempted abortion providers in McAllen and El Paso, in the southeast and southwest corners, from needing admitting privileges at nearby hospitals. The justices who wanted to allow the complete law to remain are Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito. Texas won’t regulate fertilizer plants which have a record of blowing up, killing people, and destroying homes and businesses; but conservatives in the state maintain that the hospital-level upgrades mandated for the clinics were for women’s safety.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled today that fewer progressives would be able to vote in Texas’ upcoming election when it reinstated the state’s photo ID law. A lower court ruling determined that the law was unconstitutional, but the three-judge panel of the higher court said that it was too late to change the rules for this election. The NAACP Legal Defense Fund has appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court because 600,000 voters, mostly minorities, may lack the necessary ID. College IDs are not acceptable, but concealed handgun licenses can be used at the polls.

Conservatives, partly elected because of voter suppression, have enacted restrictive laws against women with the rationale of helping the weaker sex. Just last week, Reince Priebus, RNC chairman, told Chuck Todd on Meet the Press that the GOP is closing women’s health clinics out of compassion for women. When Texas’ new law closed all except eight clinics in the state, forcing women to sometimes travel 200 miles to get critical health care, conservatives purported that it was to make women safe. Conservatives seem to care only about women because they refuse to regulate fertilizer plants that blow up, kill people, and destroy homes and businesses.

Todd questioned the idea of compassion after women lost 80 percent of the health clinics, but Priebus segued to a question of whether taxpayer money should fund abortion and swiftly moved on to say:

“The fact of the matter is what this election is going to come down to is whether or not people feel better off today than they did four or five years ago. Whether these Democrat Senators follow this president lockstep in spite of the fact that things aren’t going in the right direction whether it be Obamacare, jobs, the economy, Keystone pipeline or all the above. So you can try to steer — talk about abortion again, but the fact of the matter is, if you’re in Skagway, Alaska, you’re thinking about the fact of why my life isn’t better off today than it was when this senator was elected six years ago.”

Priebus moved from compassion to Skagway in four easy sentences while ignoring the fact that the Hyde Amendment and a provision to the Affordable Care Act prevents taxpayer dollars to be used for abortion except when a woman’s life is in danger or the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. Skagway was an interesting choice because GOP compassion results in women having to spend six hours to travel the 100 miles to the nearest Planned Parenthood clinic in Juneau.

Courts are also concerned about protecting women by removing their rights. After Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was replaced by Chief Justice John Roberts, the majority opinion of the Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Carhart (2007) implied that hormones make women unable to make such serious decisions as abortion. The state and the courts must save women from the wrong decision. Justice Anthony Kennedy asserted that the so-called “partial-abortion” ban may be justified because of the government’s interest in protecting women from the regret and emotional consequences they may suffer from their abortion decision. At that point, women lost the constitutional right of equal protection, and government no longer expressed concern about preserving women’s health and safety.

 

http://www.alternet.org/gender/if-only-men-endured-what-women-experience-purity-control-and-science-free-sex-education?akid=12333.266883.93Pb9w&rd=1&src=newsletter1022149&t=11  Men should also be protected, and Jessica Valenti has ideas about how laws can help and protect the strong, silent sex.

Abstinence-only education has always been focused on girls, and boys have been left out of learning about the horrors of male sexuality. As young women are taught that abortion leads to sterility and cancer, their male counterpart should be told, using the same quality of scientific data, that the penis shrinks every time it’s put into a different woman. The lesson is to abstain from sex until marriage.

Another necessary lesson for young men is not to tease women with their appearance. Boys shouldn’t wear shirts to show off biceps or jeans to hug the bottom or the “package,” lest girls think that they are “that kind.” Schools need to help and protect these boys by enforcing dress codes limiting any clothing that show the male shape.

Many women find that oral birth control lessen their enjoyment of sex. Men should be the sole party responsible for birth control, maybe with a gel injection into the scrotum. That way they can be sure that the woman can really enjoy sex without fear of pregnancy. Of course, this would happen only after marriage because no self-respecting man would ever have sex before the sacraments.

Even after marriage, however, men need to be sure that they really want to have sex. Therefore all men should wait 72 hours after they get the urge. In that way, they can be sure that they want to follow through with this serious decision because they lack the capacity to think things through while they’re aroused. During that 72 hours they will be required to have invasive medical procedures to check for sexually-transmitted diseases, maybe something like a pipe-cleaner into the penis. And they need to do this every time before they have sex.

After the 72 hours have expired, men need to go to the nearest men’s health center, maybe six hours away but not far enough for any real burden. Once there, men need education on child support and information about psychological damage from having sex and how it will probably cause penis cancer. Lessons could include watching a video about how women are disgusted by men who have premarital sex.

States should legally require doctors to read “facts” from “studies” that aren’t really facts. The information in these lessons can come from explaining the shame of male sexuality that has nothing to do with the medical community’s knowledge. These caring rules are “Men’s Right to Know.”

Men who want their wives to get pregnant must stop drinking because alcohol in the sperm can cause miscarriage, birth defects, or illness in the resulting baby. Males also can’t smoke because it causes all these problems plus lower birth rate and certainly cannot use illegal drugs or have a job that would expose them to dangerous chemicals. (This information is for real.)

Boys who are minors should be required to have parental written permission before any sexual activity. An alternative is to go to court for a judicial waiver from this consent. It’s a simple process: cross-examination from a district attorney, submission of evidence about understanding about sex, and an attorney for all the sperm because men themselves are not responsible enough to care for it.  In the new world of personhood, fetuses are assigned attorneys although the pregnant women are not. Sperm also deserves attorneys.

Some men will fail, even with all this government help and protection. They have to take the blame for pregnancies because women can’t get pregnant all by themselves. Also men are better equipped to care for children because they are bigger and can reach things like baby formula on high shelves at stores.

Men shouldn’t even think about trying to help women get abortions. In Pennsylvania, Jennifer Ann Whalen was sentenced to prison because she got an abortifacient by mail for her 16-year-old daughter. The nearest clinic was 74 miles away, and they had no insurance. In Indiana, Purvi Patel is facing between six and 20 years in prison because she ordered an abortion-causing drug from Hong Kong.

Successful men will receive a contract to show understanding of all the dangers—emotional, physical, and psychological. They’re ready to have sex. After signing, men are ready to go out into the world, a psychologically damaged slut.

That’s the life of a man if he gets the same protection that a woman does.

October 13, 2014

Voting Restriction Rulings in Just One Week

Marriage equality didn’t stop for last weekend. Alaska, the first state to ban marriage equality in 1998, now legally recognizes same-sex marriage after U.S. District Court Judge Timothy M. Burgess of the U.S. District Court of Alaska issued his ruling. The Republican governor plans to appeal the decision to the 9th Circuit Court which legalized marriage equality in Nevada and Idaho last week.

Meanwhile, last week saw a rollercoaster of court decisions about voter suppression laws. In passing these laws, the GOP has openly declared that the reason for photo IDs required for voting is to keep Democrats from have their rights at the ballot box. With fewer than 31 fraud cases in over 10 years, the number of legitimate voters kept from voting has vastly increased.  Joy Dunn, 79, is an eligible voter who found out that new laws had disqualified her vote after her absentee ballot in March’s Arkansas special election was rejected. Dunn has been voting in the state since 1954—when she had to pay a $2 poll tax—and was never told that she had to mail a copy of valid ID with her absentee ballot. Arkansas’ new law includes only $300,000 for full implementation, including education, in 75 counties.

Some North Carolina citizens lost voting rights after the Supreme Court overturned a circuit court decision giving voters same-day registration and counting votes cast in the wrong precinct. This temporary ruling covers the November 4 election although the Court has until next year to make a decision about the restricting voting laws. This decision follows the one that upholds limiting votes in Ohio.

In contrast, the Supreme Court gave voting rights to Wisconsin, making three different positions this year. A federal trial court halted the mandatory photo ID for the upcoming election, a panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the ruling and made photo IDS mandatory, and then the Supreme Court overturned the circuit court. Three weeks before the general election, 9 percent of registered voters in Wisconsin didn’t have the necessary voter ID. Even Justice Samuel Alito, one of three judges who voted to keep the restrictive Wisconsin law, admitted that courts should not issue orders affected a state’s election law when the election is near. The accusation of fraud, ostensibly the reason behind the Wisconsin law, found no cases that could have been prevented by a voter ID law. The following chart, an official one from the state to help people “understand” the photo ID law, may have persuaded the other judges how impossibly difficult Wisconsin was trying to make voting.

Wisconsin_voter_id_chart-770x1024 (1)

(The chart is fuzzy, but then so is the concept.)

Judge Richard Posner, who wrote the majority opinion in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board (2008) used to validate restrictive voter ID laws, ruled against the Wisconsin law. He wrote that people needed a government-issued photo ID, but different states make far more restrictive mandates. His most recent decision describes new voting laws as “a mere fig leaf for efforts to disenfranchise voters likely to vote for the political party that does not control the state government.” He also pointed out that the ratio of voter fraud is one for every 14.6 million voters and said that his panel of judges supporting the Wisconsin law “is not troubled by the absence of evidence.”

Texas voters also got a break when U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos struck down that state’s mandatory photo ID for voting, calling it an “unconstitutional poll tax” intended to discriminate against Hispanic and African-American citizens that creates “an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote.” A panel of judges had previously stopped the law because it posed “strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor,” but the striking down of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court a year ago allowed Texas to reinstate the law. As before, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, also a GOP gubernatorial candidate, promised that the state would “immediately appeal.”

People who cheerfully maintain that voter ID makes no difference in voting are now faced with a report from the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ nonpartisan investigative agency.  It found that “states that toughened their voter identification laws saw steeper drops in election turnout than those that did not, with disproportionate falloffs among black and younger voters.” The decline was among eligible and registered voters, not people trying to defraud the government. The greatest affect was on voters 23 and younger, new voters, and blacks. Voters with driver’s licenses or state IDs range from 84 percent of 95 percent, depending on the state; these IDs cost from $14.50 to $58.50. The GAO also found no voter-fraud problem. Despite this information, the Supreme Court is permitting North Carolina’s law to eliminate same-day voter registration and to ban votes cast in the wrong precincts. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented.

When the GOP took over states in 2010, the legislatures and governors gerrymandered the districts to put as many of their party into Congress as possible. The ten worst gerrymandered districts in 2013 are here. Federal judges have declared the congressional maps in Virginia to be unconstitutional because they isolate blacks into a single district. The order won’t go into effect this year and the case can be appealed to SCOTUS, but at this time the judges have demanded a new map by April. Republicans need to get the Democratic governor to agree to their redistricting. If Gov. Terry McAuliffe won’t sign their map, the judges may end up redrawing the districts. Virginia’s District 3 shows how contorted that gerrymandering has become.

543485db14a74.image

Florida emerged victorious in the gerrymandering debate. The GOP is not only permitted to use the existing racially-drawn map this year but also allowed to have only a slightly changed version in 2016.  Earlier this year, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case about Alabama’s gerrymandering that may have raised the number of blacks in one district to over 70 percent. The Supreme Court is also considering a challenge by Arizona Republicans to the state’s district map after an independent redistricting commission was mandated in 2000 to take politics out of the process. The GOP wants to draw lines for noncompetitive Republican districts. After the upcoming election, gerrymandering may become the next hot-button political topic.

In Ohio, John Husted has figured out a way to put his name front and center inside polling places. After doing everything possible to suppress the vote, Ohio’s Secretary of State put his name in big letters on an “informational” poster that his office requires all polling places to post. One county election official may not to post the name because Husted’s spokesman says that doing so is not a “formal directive.”

Another racial voting issue concerns American Indians. They’ve been able to vote for only 90 years, even a shorter time in states such as Montana that forbid those on reservations from voting because the state didn’t consider them taxpaying citizens. Other states such as Wyoming and Arizona used literacy tests to stop American Indian suffrage. South Dakota directly stopped all American Indians from voting until the 1940s, and Utah Supreme Court ruled in 1956 that Indians could be kept from voting because they were “neither acquainted with the processes of government, nor conversant with activities of the outside world generally.” Even the 1965 Voting Act required an extension ten years later specifying coverage for “language minorities” like American Indians.

Currently, South Dakota suppresses the American Indian vote by failing to put a pre-election satellite voting and registration site in an isolated part of Pine Ridge Reservation despite receiving funding for the facility. Voters have to travel 54 miles roundtrip on poorly-maintained dirt roads in the snow to register and cast ballots.

Another piece of insanity surrounding the election deals with TV commercials. Laws from 1927 and 1934 require that these ads, and those on radio, identify who is paying for the “information. The FCC waived responsibility in this area and now puts the burden of finding this information on the listener/viewer to find out if the entity identified on the ad is not the “true sponsor.” Dark money in Super PACs makes it almost impossible for individuals to discover who is paying for these ads. Even the Supreme Court’s ruling in McCutcheon v. FEC, the decision that gave almost unlimited donation amounts to campaigns, stated that disclosure requirements are  “justified based on a governmental interest in ‘provid[ing] the electorate with information’ about the sources of election-related spending” and help to “deter actual corruption and avoid the appearance of corruption by exposing large contributions and expenditures to the light of publicity.” Justices made the same claim in Citizens United v. FEC (2010) and McConnell v. FEC (2003). The FCC needs to note the Court’s claim that robust speech cannot occur “when organizations hide themselves from the scrutiny of the voting public.”

Over half the contributions for general election advertising comes from undisclosed sources that overwhelmingly benefits GOP candidates. Almost 80 percent of this money comes from secret money donated to the conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Koch brothers Freedom Partners, and Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS. Restrictive voter laws will disenfranchise about 5 million low-income and minorities voters. Facing these odds, progressives will be lucky to get any representation in state and federal legislative chambers.

October 2, 2014

Don’t Love Your Precious Vote

One year ago today, I was getting ready to marry my partner of almost 45 years, possible after the Supreme Court decided that LGBT people should have marriage equality. On the same day, GOP members of the Congress had decided that the government should be shut down in an aborted effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The dictator of the House, Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) refused to hold a vote to keep the government running.

My partner and I married on October 6, and eleven days later the House GOP members decided that the shutdown was a failure. The public got angry because the parks were closed, and small businesses were hurt by the conservatives’ petty actions. Since that time, the ACA has proved to be far more successful than the GOP wanted, and the country found out it lost at least $24 billion because of the shutdown. Federal GOP legislators are still a little in shock over the response to their bullying tactics. They mutter about closing the government every time that the “kick the can” philosophy comes to a deadline, but the shrill cries are gone. Millions of people in the country without health insurance before January 1, 2015 now have the insurance benefits of the wealthier in the country.

In 33 days, most of the adults in the nation will be able to vote for a new Congress. Thanks to the lies on the Fox network, many of them will vote against their best interests. No one knows whether Republicans will achieve a majority in the Senate; the campaigns are like a see-saw as revelations and court cases change the status from one day to the next. If the GOP controls both chambers in the Congress, the president can still veto bills because the majority in both the House and the Senate will be too slight to override the veto. More Republicans on the state level, however, will vote for laws that keep people from voting.

People in two states are still trying to allow deserving people to cast their votes in the upcoming election. Although a decision from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals recently enforced restrictive voting laws in Wisconsin, civil rights’ groups have asked the Supreme Court to bar the new photo ID requirement. Today, they argued that ten percent of the Wisconsin voters already registered might be kept from making their voice heard through the ballot box. Justice Elena Kagan, in charge of emergency filings for the area that includes Wisconsin, can act on her own or share the issues with other justices.

Wisconsin passed the photo ID law over three years ago, but challenges to the law meant that it was used for only one state primary election. The state has done nothing to implement the law for the upcoming election, and about 300,000 registered voters lack one of the nine types of photo IDs mandated for voting. Many of these people lack the time and/or the money to get one of these IDs or a substitute ID card from the state in time for this year’s general election. Absentee voting has already started in the state, and those voters could be disenfranchised by the current ruling.

The 4th Circuit Court made the opposite decision from the 7th in ordering a lower court to block two new voting restrictions in North Carolina. To avoid disenfranchising minorities, the state must reinstate same-day voter registration and allow voters to cast ballots even if they go to the wrong precinct. The two-to-one ruling from the panel stated that “whether the number is thirty or thirty-thousand, surely some North Carolina minority voters will be disproportionately adversely affected in the upcoming election” and that it was important to act now, since “there could be no do-over and no redress” once the election was over.

The lower court “failed to adequately consider North Carolina’s history of voting discrimination,” according to the federal appeals court, and the new law eliminated “voting mechanisms successful in fostering minority participation.”

North Carolina passed the law soon after the Supreme Court struck down a provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that protected minority voters in areas with a history of discrimination. “The election laws in North Carolina prior to House Bill 589’s enactment encouraged participation by qualified voters,” the appeals court ruled yesterday. “But the challenged House Bill 589 provisions stripped them away. The public interest thus weighs heavily in Plaintiffs’ favor.”

In restricting voting for minorities and low-income people, GOP legislators have used the falsehood of voter fraud. A case of voter fraud that could effect the outcome of the election of Arkansas election attorney general has been revealed, and the GOP is not happy. After Pulaski County Clerk Larry Crane discovered that the GOP candidate for this position, Leslie Rutledge, is registered to vote in Washington, D.C. and Virginia, he canceled her Arkansas voter registration. She can’t be a candidate if she isn’t eligible to vote in the state.

The former Gov. Mike Huckabee legal aide accused Crane of political motivation. She said, “Taking a person’s right to vote away from them, as Democrat Larry Crane has done, is reprehensible and a desperate attempt to help the campaign of a Democratic candidate who lacks the experience and good judgment to protect the citizens of our great state.”

Crane followed Amendment 51 of the Arkansas Constitution after he received a complaint that alleged Rutledge was ineligible to vote or hold state office because of her registration in multiple states. The investigation showed the complaint to be accurate, and Amendment 51 required Crane to cancel Rutledge’s registration. She had used a change of address form for a move from one Little Rock house to another instead of completing a new voter registration, required when she moved to Pulaski County from another county of state. Rutledge claimed that the fault was Crane’s because he should have searched all the counties in the country for duplicate information. The part from the constitution that Rutledge cited did not apply because she didn’t re-register after moving back to Arkansas.

Rutledge registered to vote in Washington in July 2008 but voted absentee in Arkansas in the 2008 general election. She then registered in Virginia in 2010 and later filed a change of address to change the Little Rock address that she used in a 2006 registration.  Washington was supposed to notify Arkansas about the registration in 2008, and Virginia should have notified Washington in 2010. Neither jurisdiction did. According to law, neither the Secretary of State’s office nor the Board of Elections can review Rutledge’s plight. Her only solution is to file a lawsuit. If she isn’t registered within 30 days of the election—three days from now—she can’t be elected.

Leslie_Rutledge_cropped

Arkansas has one of the most restrictive voter ID laws in the nation. Over 1,000 absentee ballots were thrown out after the new law went into effect, and Rutledge was one of those who fiercely protected the restrictive law. Defending Rutledge is the Republican National Lawyers’ Association that has been instrumental in pushing mass voter purges across the country, including the defense to purge voters within 90 days of the election.

As in some of the cases of other possible voter fraud, photo ID at the polls wouldn’t stop this fraudulent action. Now, however, a Republican may understand how the millions of people feel about her party taking away their ability to vote. And she wants to be attorney general!

One hundred years ago women weren’t allowed to vote in the United States; 50 years ago black citizens were taxed and persecuted if they tried to vote. At this time, the GOP refuses to work to lower student loan interest rates to the same rate as that offered big banks and filibusters higher education bills for veterans. The GOP wants to ship jobs overseas and give even more money to big business. The black citizens in Ferguson (MO), ruled by white people, learned their lesson: voter registration in the town is up 25 percent.

Taking over Hong Kong from Britain in 1997, China promised people in Hong Kong that they would have universal suffrage by 2017. The city’s Basic Law or “mini-constitution” allowed the city to continue its own legal and financial system, an independent judiciary, freedom of the press and the right to protest. When China told Hong Kong citizens that they could vote only for pre-approved candidates, hundreds of demonstrators protested, facing tear gas, pepper spray, and water cannon.

If people are willing to face tear gas for the right to vote in Hong Kong, people in the United States should be willing to vote. I’m lucky to live in a state with mandated vote-by-mail; other people have to stand in lines, sometimes in the heat or cold. Some people in the 21st century claim that they refuse to vote as a protest. Not to vote is actually a vote. No changes can be made without learning who are willing to give rights to all people in the United States, not just the top ten percent, and then vote for those people. Voting is precious. Let’s not lose the right.

September 23, 2014

Voter Discrimination on Voter Registration Day

Today, National Voter Registration Day (NVRD), is a time to encourage people to sign up for their civic rights to more the United States forward. Voting is a constitutional right for all people over 18 although some states prevent people convicted of crimes from voting. The practice of voting may be the most critical thing that people can do. The direction of the country will be decided in 42 days when millions of people decide who will make their laws. It should be noted that Republicans are changing NVRD devoted to registering voters with its project called Vote GOP.

Because voting can be so powerful, conservatives are trying to stop people from voting. A half century ago, hundreds of activists died when they tried to help blacks in the South gain their constitution rights. One way that whites kept blacks from voting throughout much of the 20th century was to make them pass tests in order to register to vote. Elisabeth Hasselbeck wants the tests back. On Fox & Friends, she proposed that all people would have to pass the same citizenship test for high school graduation that’s part of a Utah bill. In 2012, 60 percent of voters from ages 18 to 29 voted for President Obama, and only 36 percent voted for Mitt Romney.

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) compared the danger of absentee voting to a “loaded gun” and bragged that how early voting has been cut in his state. He hopes to see early voting completely destroyed. He also said that “it’s a privilege to vote,” not having read his constitution that makes voting a “right.” In the future, Yoho hopes that only property owners will be able to vote. The average of a first-time home owner is 30-32, and young voters are a threat to the GOP.

Paul Weyrich, the co-founder of the huge corporation-controlled far-right political organization ALEC, described the current GOP position back in 1980:

“I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people. They never have been from the beginning of our country, and they are not now. As a matter of fact [GOP] leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.”

Conservative pundit George Will agrees with Weyrich.  After President Obama was re-elected two years ago, Will became very distressed that the president wants voter registration and voting to be easier. Will likes the fact that 60 million people eligible to vote in the United States were not registered at that time and believes that it would be oppressive to have them register. Then he cites the high turnout of voters in Nazi Germany to prove that a large number of voters for an election is a bad thing.

State Sen. Fran Millar, a GOP in Georgia, is highly incensed that early voting will be available at a mall in a predominantly black county. He said he wants “more educated voters than a greater increase in the number of voters.” Clarifying his criticism, he said that his comments weren’t related to race but instead to “an effort to maximize Democratic votes pure and simple.”

Less than two months before Election Day 2014, a panel of GOP-nominated judges on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated Wisconsin’s voter ID law challenged in court for several years. Scott Walker, the state’s governor, won by only 124,638 votes in 2010, and the investigation into his campaign fraud makes this an even closer race this year. With 300,000 eligible voters lacking the photo ID, the ACLU predicts “the state would have to process and issue 6,000 photo IDs every day between now and November 4” to provide IDs. Absentee voters are also disenfranchised because voters without an ID check have already submitted many ballots that might be thrown away. The state had only 2.1 million voters in 2010.

Not satisfied with the federal ruling, GOP legislative leaders have filed a lawsuit because Democrats are listed before Republicans on the newly designed ballot by a nonpartisan elections agency. That process follows state law: parties are listed according to the presidential or gubernatorial winner of the last general election. President Obama won. He’s a Democrat. Democrats are listed first. In 2012, Republicans were listed first on the ballot because GOP Scott Walker had more votes for governor. The lawsuit also says that putting Democrats first could violate the rights of millions of Wisconsin voters. The GOP has no concerns about voter ID laws which can disenfranchise a large number of voters because they think those who are disenfranchised would probably not vote Republican.

Kansas and Georgia also show the impact of GOP efforts to cut off access to voting. Georgia’s Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, said he had received complaints about voter applications from the New Georgia Project, an attempt to increase black voter turnout. The group reported that the GOP official had held up more than 50,000 voter registration forms for months.

Kris Kobach, the Kansas GOP Secretary of State, is behaving in an even more bizarre fashion. The Democratic candidate for Senate, Chad Taylor, decided to withdraw from the election because it would give the independent candidate a better chance of being elected over GOP incumbent, Pat Roberts. Kobach refused to remove his name until the Kansas Supreme Court ordered him to do so. Then Kobach ordered the Democratic party to select another candidate and would “review the legal options if Democrats fail to comply.” He cannot legally force the Democrats to have a candidate.

Kobach said first that he would delay sending overseas ballots but then mailed 526 ballots to overseas voters with the disclaimer that new ballots will be printed if the court forces the Democratic party to name a replacement candidate. According to Kobach’s statement to voters, their votes may not count in the election, depending on how successful he is in helping the GOP candidate. (Kobach is a member of Roberts’ re-election campaign):

“You may vote using the ballot accompanying this letter as soon as you receive it, or you may wait to vote until you’ve received further notification from us. If a replacement ballot is sent to you, and you have already returned the ballot that accompanies this letter, only your replacement ballot will be counted.”

Kobach has also said that he might try to delay elections in Kansas by over a week, making November 12 the day in that state to vote for local, state, and federal offices on November 12.

GOP states, especially those with large black populations, are more likely to pass voter ID and other limits against access to voting. North Carolina combined voter ID with closing precincts near colleges and universities.

Whether a person can vote depends on where that person lives. In all, 15 states have stricter voting rules in a major election for the first time. Laws in six of these states are being challenged in court. Since 2010, 22 states, almost all of them in the South and the Midwest, have rolled out new restrictions. Of the 11 states with the highest black turnout rate in 2008, seven have new restrictions in place, and of the dozen states with the largest growth in Hispanic population from 2000 to 2010, nine passed laws making it harder to vote. Judges in Arkansas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have overturned photo ID laws because of no proof from fraud. Other decisions have upheld stricter voting laws.

Photo ID laws have been approved in Tennessee, Kansas, and Arizona. Republican lawmakers in Kansas, Georgia, Alabama, and Arizona have passed “proof of citizenship” laws. These are valid only for elections of state officials; voters at the polls can vote only for federal offices without their birth certificates—if they have photo ID. The Texas law goes to trial this month and North Carolina, next year.

A summary of voting restrictions in different states is available here.

voting restrictions

A 93-year-old man who has voted in every election since 2000 was turned away at the polls in Alabama this year. He’s one of nearly 11% of the U.S. population that lacks the mandated identification. They don’t have the advantage that Republicans like Asa Hutchinson do. When the candidate for Arkansas and fan of the new voter ID law, forgot his ID at the polls, he sent a staffer to get it. He found it only a “minor inconvenience.”

A major question is whether the GOP will lose its own constituency through restrictive ID laws. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, chair of the Republican Governors Association, railed against an effort to boost voter turnout in Illinois as an underhanded Democratic tactic, despite state Board of Elections being composed equally of Democrats and Republicans. Yet same-day registration increased Republican turnout in Idaho, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Republicans rely on older people, the ones who are most likely to not have identification such as drivers’ licenses. Former speaker of the Texas House, Jim Wright, is now 90, and he was prevented from voting because a lapsed ID. Married women are more likely to vote for Republicans than single women, yet their IDs are often questioned because they have changed their names. Happy VOTE GOP, Republicans.

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