New voter ID laws in Pennsylvania and other states are intended to have a political impact on the upcoming elections by removing registered voters who can swing the results in a certain direction.The voter ID requirement comes at a time when there has been no real threat or serious evidence of voter fraud. There are costs involved in obtaining the proper ID (if you can) starting with a birth certificate. The National Council of State Legislatures has a map illustrating voting requirements by state and color coded on the basis of strict photo id, non-photo id, no id, and no vo voter ID law.
Note, Texas passed a strict voter ID law in 2011, but it has been blocked by the Department of Justice. Of course, the block has been interpreted by lawmakers in Texas as a way of giving the sitting President an unfair advantage. The assumption that the more people vote the more they will vote a certain way; or the more certain people vote, the more certain of the outcome?
Bill Moyers & Company posted this web extra as a follow up to Moyers’ interview with Keesha Gaskins and Michael Waldman of the Brennan Center for Justice about new voter ID and other election laws “that keep the young, elderly, minorities and the poor from exercising one of the most fundamental American rights.”
Remember the suggestion Voter Rights groups made for people to take video or camera phones to the polls and record any hanky panky on election day? Well, someone’s got a jump start on 2012 in Wisconsin documenting their son’s hokey pokey for obtaining a voter ID under the new Walker law. The following YouTube video was uploaded July 23 by a woman who is identified as “Nicole” according to the Madison, WI Examiner. And as Gregory Patlin writes in his article:
That should not shock anyone who is aware that Walker is likely to face a recall election in the wake of nine state Senators facing recalls this summer after enacting a law revoking the rights of public workers to collectively bargain with the state government.
This one’s moving up the viral chain. Regardless of the filmmaker’s questions about what this means for homeless persons, almost anyone can be tripped up before they even get to the polls. The video is edited. But the idea of having to go to 3 stations to get a voter ID card makes the point “This is what voter suppression looks like.”
That’s What It’s All About.
Pass it on.
Yes, they did it!
Here comes the bride/bride, groom/groom, bride/groom. Couples willing and committed to taking that next step can, and will have all the rights and benefits that come with the package in New York state.
From today’s New York Times:
With his position still undeclared, Senator Mark J. Grisanti, a Republican from Buffalo who had sought office promising to oppose same-sex marriage, told his colleagues he had agonized for months before concluding he had been wrong.
“I apologize for those who feel offended,” Mr. Grisanti said, adding, “I cannot deny a person, a human being, a taxpayer, a worker, the people of my district and across this state, the State of New York, and those people who make this the great state that it is the same rights that I have with my wife.”
Maybe it’s time to switch the “Virginia is for lovers” tag-line to the northern state. Champagne and sparkling cider time!
Downsizing – Afghanistan
This week President Barack Obama outlined his plan for U.S. troop drawdown (and retention) in Afghanistan. Fortunately Michel Martin picked up the missing bullet point – Afghan women – this week on “Tell Me More.” Kudos to Michel and her producers at NPR.
The goal posts for this operation have been moved ten times over for the past 9 years. The 2003 Iraq war was a total shift in focus, priorities, and hidden agendas. President Bush’s goal–track down and capture/kill Osama bin Laden — was completed this year by President Obama’s team with moderate fan fare. Compare that to President Bush when he touched down by fighter jet on the carrier. Why the victory dance at half-time? The clock’s still running. Lots of money has been made by independent contractors thanks to their friends in the right places.
Meanwhile there’s Pakistan. Who can anyone trust? In July’s Vanity Fair, Christopher Hitchens (still provoking thought despite having terminal cancer) writes,
Everybody knew that the Taliban was originally an instrument for Pakistani colonization of Afghanistan. Everybody knew that al-Qaeda forces were being sheltered in the Pakistani frontier town of Quetta, and that Khalid Sheikh Muhammed was found hiding in Rawalpindi, the headquarters of the Pakistani Army. Bernard-Henri Lévy once even produced a damning time line showing that every Pakistani “capture” of a wanted jihadist had occurred the week immediately preceding a vote in Congress on subventions to the government in Islamabad. But not even I was cynical enough to believe that Osama bin Laden himself would be given a villa in a Pakistani garrison town on Islamabad’s periphery.
Even if Hitchens had 30 extra years on the clock, I don’t think he’d pull back on what he’s laid out in the commentary.
The goal post moved again in 2009, and candidate Obama did not hide his intentions or opinions on the matter. President Karzai is a diplomatic annoyance that, like many in his position, has an end point (and I betcha, his own exit strategy) in the foreseeable future. It’s about Pakistan now. And what about the women?
Republican Debates and Candidates
I treat these things like “American Idol,” – when you get down to the final four, I’ll tune in. For the “Tea Party” people who want to take their country back, my gut says there are Republicans who are quietly wishing they could take their party back. Let’s bring back the old “normal.” The compromise would be a Romney-esque/Bachmann-esque ticket to win. But “compromise” isn’t in the party vocabulary right now. In the meantime, Republican governors are doing what they can to weaken the opponents’/incumbent’s base state-by-state. And I guess it’s a wait and see how long the majority in Congress can keep their foot on the neck of any economic recovery while a Democrat occupies the executive office. Who’ll cry “uncle” first? The Democrats in office or the unemployed?
The Second Act – Bill Clinton
This was the funniest I’ve heard former President Bill Clinton in a long time. He was the guest for “Not My Job” on the NPR radio game show “Wait, Wait….Don’t Tell Me!”
“The worst thing about not being president anymore is I was disoriented for three weeks because nobody ever played a song when I walked in a room. I didn’t know where I was.”
But a poignant moment too.
SAGAL: Well, actually I’m curious about your life these days. Can I ask you in general, what is more fun: being president or being ex-president?
President CLINTON: I guess in terms of raw fun, I’ve never had any more fun in my life, I love this. But I loved being president too. Even the bad days were good. When you’re president, you have more power to help more people, but you also are the prisoner of circumstances as well, and countervailing political forces more.
President CLINTON: When you’re a former president, you have much less power, but you have a lifetime of experience and contacts and if you’ve got the energy, you can bring influence to bear on a small but still fairly substantial number of things where you can concentrate on it because you don’t have to change the subject when you wake up in the morning and there’s something else in the newspaper.
It’s primary day in DC. We’ve had early voting for some time, so turn out at some of the precincts may be or perceived as low. Primaries are serious business for DC Democrats. For awhile it looked as if Mayor Adrian Fenty was in single man race. That is until Council Chair Vincent “Vince” Gray decided to hit the asphalt. Despite Mayor Fenty’s “results” oriented leadership style, he’s been in the race of his political life over the past few months – at least as Mayor.
First, there are several candidates on the ballot for the Democratic Mayoral primary. Only two have been in the spotlight.
Some call this a contest of personalities. Others may make it a mandate on Mayor Fenty’s school chancellor Michelle Rhee. Though she has garnered national praise, it doesn’t appear to translate among the people where she’s doing the actual work. As for this blogger, when polled by the Washington Post about the chancellor’s effectiveness, I responded “It’s too soon to tell.” However, it’s my thinking that in a results-oriented environment making test scores the proof of success or failure, the chancellor’s fourth year will bring the question back from the classroom to the main office.
The chancellor took to the campaign trail with Mayor Fenty, an unusual and unorthodox political move for someone in her position. I’ve always found it odd, the Mayor’s narrative is rarely tied to the chancellor’s. Rhee was Mayor Fenty’s choice when he was elected. Former city administrator Robert Bob was the people’s choice to be president of the School Board. But with the election of Mayor Fenty, Robert Bob and School superintendent Clifford Janey were out and Chancellor Rhee was in. Yet she’s got the movie deal.
The Councilmember has had a long reputation for being a great administrator especially from his days at Covenant House, a private Catholic run non-profit. No heavy complaints about his ability as chair. The bulk of the Gray/Fenty contrast rests on Gray’s leadership style — demanding but collaborative. Gray was also head of DC’s Heath and Human Services. More praise has been said of Gray’s record in managing private social services than the public social services record (for political reasons no doubt). His other outstanding contrast is his age compared to the current Mayor. Yes, he could be the Mayor’s father – a fit father. Can’t say if this will be a generational decision. Both candidates claim the ages. But some speculate on the candidate’s willingness to set aside the experience factor for a vision for the city.
Administrations seem to rise and sink on what they inherit from the person who passes the baton in the political relay race. If nothing else, passions don’t seem to be flaring about the outcome of today’s primary, at least not yet. Fenty folk sometimes give the impression persons leaning Gray may be mentally challenged, old timers (style over substance); Gray folk sometimes tag Fenty leaners as snobbish, latte drinking aristocrats (I’m getting mine. Get yours).
Whatever the outcome, both candidates want to do right by the city, and both have some pluses and minuses for accomplishing that. I guess that’s why there’s been no real outright dog fight among the voters over this, unless it’s just a matter of where one focuses one’s attention.
Maybe we should all save our voting passions for the 2010 CURBSIDE COOKOFF October 6 and 7 at the site of the Old Convention Center on H Street in downtown DC. The event is presented by the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs in partnership with the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and Brightest Young Things. Voting begins tomorrow, September 15. I think the current Mayor may have some foodies on his side. However, good taste will rise to the top in the Curbside contest.
Wherever you are in the U.S. on this primary day, VOTE!
I’m behind on my President’s Weekly due to so many other things on my plate and of course the news and other distractions of the past week. I’m so focused on work (thankfully) and the “what next” of health care reform that I didn’t have time to fully address the meaning and impact of the recent Supreme Court ruling on campaign contributions from corporations or unions. Unlike the President, I don’t have a staff to take care of my daily requirements.
What I have heard loud and clear is the moaning, agonizing and hand wringing posturing of Democrats, liberals and progressive politicos — not all, but the ones closet to the microphone. Mike Lux of Progressive Strategies is one of the true blue exceptions. Read his blog post here. Like Mike I fired off a series of “get off your butts” letters to several party leaders. Am I angry? You betcha.
But here’s my bumper sticker observation: “American Democracy is the art of the loophole.” While there are many who are angry and crushed by the week’s events with the Supreme Court ruling being the final blow, others are already in strategy mode on how to reap benefits from the current situation. They understand “the art of the loophole.” For example, unions are benefiting from the Supreme Court decision. Is anyone painting them as a potential hostile influence on the democratic process, or are 2010 candidates going to cultivate those relationships while the lawmakers and advocates work to put the principles of the bipartisan McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform into an amendment? Read Senator Russ Feingold’s (D-WI) statement about the decision here. I couldn’t find anything related to the Supreme Court ruling on Senator John McCain’s (R-AZ) website. Nothing on his 2010 campaign site either.
Television stations may also benefit by selling airtime. Hey, how are those station workers feeling about this decision and job security now?
Who benefits? Who loses? What are the short term gains and long-term disasters? These were questions attorney Charles Hamilton Houston posed to communities seeking to desegregate schools in the U.S. He didn’t live to see the outcome, but he mentored the lawyers to push it through. And even that Supreme Court decision came with a loophole thrown in to calm segregationist fears – “at all deliberate speed.”
The question is how do you use the “loophole” to your advantage? Trust me. Banks and business have figured this one out. Has the electorate?
One thing the founding fathers had in their favor that many lawmakers today lack is long-term vision. The Constitution is structured in a way that accommodates change. They knew the U.S.A. would not be the same country down the road that they created and inhabited in their lifetimes. They understood there had to be a process, or loopholes, to sustain a democracy as it grows and alters. We can have the debate on whether or not the Constitution is a living document. I just find the “free speech” argument interesting whereas art exhibits or demonstrations are shut down, and additional rights are granted to private companies to influence outcomes in policy and elections. And more often than not the company’s right to “free speech” also is to the benefit of the company’s own interests.
I also believe the White House needs to communicate a concise, clear message and own it. This may be the wisdom of failure moment. Fortunately it’s the first year and not the 2nd or 3rd. But there’s catching up to do. Sure, it’s a balancing act between convening the civic dialogue and dictating it. I find even people in-the-know don’t know everything, and yes you have to connect the dots loud and often. For example, healthcare reform and jobs are connected. Polls are moving the framing to one is more important than the other. I believe it was a good move for the Obama White House to bring David Plouffe back onto the field. There is no good defense when you’re not playing offense.