Say NO to Voter Suppression

Grumpy2Mouse: Gotta say I’ve been feelin’ a bit grumpy myself these last few days. You all know how important I consider voting, and the Supreme Court ruling on Texans needing ID has me spitting mad. The Justices said it was too close to the election to change the ruling requiring ID. I hope the Koch brothers like what they’ve bought.

Grumpy: Well, now you’ve gone and ruined my whole day, Mouse! You should know better than to use four-letter words like “Koch” so early in the day. I haven’t even had a chance to digest my breakfast yet!

Mouse: The Texans who wrote these laws don’t care if they’ve taken away a few Republican votes with this law as certainly a few people who would have voted Republican don’t have the proper ID. As long as they make sure that a greater number of Democratic ballots are denied, they’ll be satisfied the numbers will work in their favor.

It’s no surprise the vast majority of people without the proper ID are African-American and Hispanic. Hmm… I think I see a pattern here. The groups most likely to vote for Democrats are being denied their right to vote.

Grumpy: Are you suggesting that the Teapublican Party has a history of suppressing the African-American vote? Why, everyone knows it was the Democrats responsible for Jim Crow, poll taxes and other suppression methods! Why, just look at the likes of Strom Thurmond. Oh wait, he sorta flipped parties over the whole Civil Rights struggle thing didn’t he? Bad example.

OK, well what about George Wallace? Don’t you remember that dyed-in-the-wool Southern Democrat standing in front of the school to keep “those people” out? Why just look at what he said about those days some 30 years later:

“Those days were filled with passionate convictions and a magnified sense of purpose that imposed a feeling on us all that events of the day were bigger than any one individual. Much has transpired since those days. A great deal has been lost and a great deal has been gained, and here we are. My message to you today is, ‘Welcome to Montgomery.’

“May your message be heard. May your lessons never be forgotten. May our history be always remembered.”

Oh, wait, that was an apology, wasn’t it? Another bad example.

Well, OK. I’ll have to admit that whole period sorta turned the political tables on the civil rights struggle didn’t it. The party of Lincoln became the party of Jeff Davis and the Democrats took up the mantle of Lincoln and King. I’ll admit it: the Teapublicans are now the vote suppressors!

Mouse: The bottom line is the current crop of Republicans don’t care about democracy. They just want to hang on to power and if that means cheating Americans out of their right to vote, well, that’s just the cost of doing business. Continue reading Say NO to Voter Suppression

ROMNEY WINS OHIO

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced early this afternoon that he has certified the final vote tally from tomorrow’s Presidential election and that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is the winner of his state’s 18 electoral votes. Officials in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Florida are expected to follow suit as soon as Tuesday morning.

Reading from a prepared statement, Husted told reporters, “Because this may very well be the most important election in our nation’s history, I believe it would have been the height of irresponsibility to have waited until the last minute before certifying the vote. Ohioans’ voices deserve to be heard.”

When asked if his decision might be considered premature, the visibly irate Secretary shot back, “I didn’t hear any of you media types criticizing the head of FEMA for spending millions of dollars to deploy resources to the Northeast just because a couple of so-called scientists predicted a hurricane would strike there — even though everybody knows that most of those storms make landfall much farther south. My experts forecast that Gov. Romney will garner the majority of votes, so I acted accordingly. The good people of this state don’t pay me to sit on my hands; they pay me to do my job.” Continue reading BREAKING NEWS: ROMNEY WINS OHIO

I've Witnessed Voter Fraud. Many Times.

While catching up on a few Democratic convention speeches I missed I had to watch John Lewis. He’s a national hero. No one can speak about voting rights with more authority than a man who has been beaten and literally risked his life to defend those rights.

He spoke about the Republican attempt to swing elections by making it more difficult to vote. This is nothing new.

I’ve been an election judge, poll watcher, or precinct worker in almost every election since I first voted. In nearly every election I have personally witnessed voter fraud when people were denied their Constitutional right to vote by pointless bureaucratic barriers. Denying someone that right which many Americans have fought and died for is the worst form of voter fraud.

The most common method of denying voting rights in Illinois, like many other states, is the requirement that someone register to vote or update their new address at least a month before the election. Most people aren’t aware of the early deadline and have plenty of other things to worry about when planning a move.

I’ve seen people in this situation get very upset after being told they can’t vote. Sometimes they’re sent to another polling place where they may, or may not, be allowed to vote. Sometimes they’re given a federal-only ballot, or more likely, a provisional ballot that probably won’t be counted. But too often, they leave disappointed without having voted at all.

Unsurprisingly, I’ve seen election judges enforce this rule more aggressively at college campus precincts. Election officials may ask every potential voter if they’re still at the same address listed on their registration or if they have an ID with their current address. Since most students move between semesters, the answer is often “no.” An ID is not required to vote in Illinois but election judges have the discretion of asking for one, and they often do near college campuses. Even students living in the same precinct, who only moved to a new dorm room in the same building, have been turned away. Continue reading I’ve Witnessed Voter Fraud. Many Times.

Take Five (Birth of a Vexation edition)

ONE: Dinner Is Swerved…

Readers will, I’m sure, remember the ugly incident in Phoenix when Barack Obama commandeered an entire airport to land his gas-guzzling private jet, then jumped out of it, ran over to Governor Jan Brewer’s outstretched index finger (which was minding its own business on the runway) and aggressively confronted it with his face.

Energetically wagging the digit in a desperate evasive maneuver, Brewer was nonetheless unable to escape Obama’s patently rancorous smiling and nodding. Following this terrifying experience, she commented: “I felt a little bit threatened, if you will…”

Brewer courageously ventured to Washington last weekend for the annual National Governors Association meeting and once again found herself antagonized, this time by an invitation to a black-tie dinner at the White House. In contrast to the Phoenix fiasco, though, on this occasion she was not caught off-guard by the wily Kenyan’s impudence:

Brewer said in an interview… that she had a scheduling conflict.

“I’ve just decided I wasn’t going to be going because I had some other commitments I had to attend to,” Brewer said…

Obama’s liberal media running dogs predictably refused to take Brewer’s dignified explanation at face value and pressed for more details, but to no avail:

A spokesman, Matthew Benson, declined to say whether the conflict was state business or personal.

“We’re not going to get into our schedule,” Benson said.

Bravo, Mr. Benson! This transparency stuff could easily get out of hand. Best to nip it in the bud, just like your boss did:

Brewer, who dined at the White House last year and will attend a policy discussion with other governors and Obama… laughed when asked to identify her scheduling conflict.

TWO: Posse Comatose

Thursday afternoon, I waded into the fever swamp that is WorldNutDaily to catch their live video feed of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s press conference announcing the results of his cold case posse’s investigation into President Obama’s birth certificate. After enduring two or three choppy, incomprehensible minutes – memo to Joseph Farah and the WND techs: streaming video is supposed to, you know, stream – I opted for Phoenix’s ABC 15, whose feed was perfect.

The press conference didn’t disappoint. It was just the sort of stupendously dumb display of rank birther hokum I’d been hoping for. Arpaio spoke first, and let’s just say he’s as good a public speaker as he is a sheriff. He opened by saying that he had “felt the investigation could clear President Obama’s name,” but – surprise! – it didn’t. He believes probable cause exists to indicate forgery and fraud may have been committed. Arpaio “cannot in good faith report” that the long-form birth certificate and Selective Service registration released by the White House are authentic. History was unfolding, right before my eyes!

Arpaio then turned the microphone over to Mike Zullo, the posse’s lead investigator. Zullo noted that he would be presenting a series of videos to assist with his muddled remarks concerning multi-layer PDFs and OCR software, but took pains to point out that they were “draft videos” rather than final versions, and contained some typos. Hey, that’s perfectly understandable! After all, the posse’s only been at this for five and a half months. My favorite typo: “all that ailes the long form birth certificate.”

And Zullo (who, when asked, later confessed to being a Republican, although he denied being a Teabagger) made it clear that he and the other members of the posse (former police officers, attorneys, graphics experts and forensic document examiners) have done a lot more than just misspell words. Zullo insisted that the posse members “were not willing to merely speculate or engage in conjecture” and that the birth certificate “failed every test we put it through.” At one point, he paused, looked around the room, and said in a sepulchral voice, “This is serious. This is very serious.”

He noted that the posse tried but failed to obtain passenger manifests for incoming flights from Kenya at around the time of Barack Obama’s birth. They did obtain microfilm copies of INS records from the National Archives, 685 rolls, 10 years’ worth, but to their shock and awe, the records from August 1 to August 7, 1961 – the very week the President was born… somewhere – were missing.

Zullo turned briefly to the Selective Service document, which he described as “not just forged, it’s poorly forged.” He concluded that “there’s no question” a criminal investigation is needed, and casually added that the posse has identified a person of interest in the forgery of the birth certificate. Jeezum crow!

Swift Boat Liar Jerome Corsi was up next; I still do not understand why. He said something about the death of “fellow reporter” Andrew Breitbart and noted that Breitbart had interviewed Arpaio the night before, or asked to, or something.

Carl Seel, a Republican who represents District 6 in the Arizona House of Representatives, spoke next; again, I still do not understand why. He muttered something about having a bill pending, presumably to prevent Kenyans from making the ballot in Arizona, then said he had to get back to the Legislature to get some stuff done, or something. He commended Sheriff Joe, and concluded with: “Thank you very much. God bless America.”

Arpaio returned to the podium, noting that a lot of media were present and commenting insightfully that some might say his investigation is “pointless, silly, trite.” Having spent over an hour essentially accusing the President of the United States of being a criminal, Arpaio was adamant that he was “not accusing the President of the United States of any crime.” He was refreshingly candid about his ignorance of civics, confessing that he doesn’t know who has jurisdiction over this matter. He’s considering asking the State of Hawaii to get involved, but doubts that they’ll help. Maybe he’ll talk to Congress instead. Maybe not. Who’s to say?

Zullo spoke again, citing “numerous sworn affidavits” attesting to something or other. Then he related a puzzling anecdote about a retired government employee who had a conversation in the ’80s with Barack Obama in the front yard of Bill Ayers’ mother’s house. The future President was introduced as a foreign student. Or maybe it was the government employee who was a foreign student. Or maybe it was Bill Ayers, or maybe his mom. History is terribly confusing.

Arpaio, being the stand-up kind of guy he is, took a few questions from the press. A reporter asked if he wasn’t essentially accusing the President of living a lie. The sheriff clutched his pearls and tut-tutted: “I’m not accusing him of any lying or crime… I didn’t say that… I never said that… he can present other information proving he was born here… it’s not my problem they came up with this information and documentation… I’m not accusing anyone of anything until we find out who may have committed these alleged crimes…”

Last word goes to a reporter who prefaced one of the final questions in the news conference with: “None of us are stupid in this room.” Continue reading Take Five (Birth of a Vexation edition)

Take Five (Trikki Nikki edition)

ONE: Disenfranchise Opportunity!

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley claimed this week that her state’s new voter suppression bill is not a voter suppression bill; it’s a “protect the integrity of the voting process” bill.

In the wake of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice rejecting the new voter ID law as discriminatory – which it clearly is – Haley and Attorney General Alan Wilson announced in a joint presser that they will sue the DOJ.

Haley’s contribution to the discussion set a new standard of asininity for her public pronouncements:

“The will of the people was that we want to protect the integrity of the voting process,” Haley said. “And if you have to show a picture ID to buy Sudafed, if you have to show a picture ID to get on a plane — you should have to show an ID to do that one thing that is so important to us, which is that right to vote.

“The House passed it, the Senate passed it, and I signed it,” she added. “What we saw was the continued war on South Carolina that continues to happen — like Boeing, like illegal immigration, and now we’re seeing it with Voter ID. This has got to stop, and you will see us fight — and you will see us fight hard.”

Gee, as I remember it, “the continued war on South Carolina that continues to happen” ended back in 1865. It should also be noted that it was actually South Carolina that started it.

Wilson took Haley’s claims further, right into “this water is not, in fact, wet” territory:

“Our intent is to ensure… that no voter is suppressed in their right to vote and that the integrity of the electoral process is protected.”

South Carolina isn’t the only state to take steps recently to “protect the integrity” of voting by ensuring that fewer of their citizens can vote. From recent “evidence” you could almost believe that there’s an epidemic of voter fraud sweeping America, but in reality the only epidemic involved is the proliferation of draconian new laws designed to disenfranchise as many likely Democratic voters as possible. Voter ID legislation was proposed last year in 20 states that previously required no ID at the polls, and 17 states with existing ID laws, like South Carolina, decided last year to require photo ID:

So far, three states–South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas–have enacted strict photo ID requirements, and Alabama has enacted a new voter ID law that is somewhat less strict than the new laws in SC, TN and TX, yet stricter than the old law it replaces.  The new laws in Alabama, South Carolina and Texas can’t take effect until they receive pre-clearance from the U.S. Department of Justice.  Governors in Missouri and Montana vetoed stricter voter ID laws in 2011.

Federal pre-clearance of the law stems from a smart provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 intended to protect minority voting rights in states where a sort of backdoor Jim Crow redux was deemed a credible threat. The DOJ’s criticism of the South Carolina measure was blunt:

“The absolute number of minority citizens whose exercise of the franchise could be adversely affected by the proposed requirements runs into the tens of thousands,” Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez said in a letter to South Carolina officials following DOJ’s ruling in December.

One state legislator took immediate righteous offense at the snake oil being peddled by Haley and Wilson:

Black state Rep. Todd Rutherford, of Columbia, called Haley’s argument ludicrous. He stormed the podium after the press conference and said that voting is a fundamental Constitutional right — buying Sudafed is not. And equating the two is preposterous, he said, as is the Haley Administration’s whole rationale behind Voter ID.

“Can anyone show me in the Constitution where it says you have the right to buy prescription narcotics?” he railed. “At least one person will be affected by this law. And at a minimum, according to their numbers, 30,000 who do not have IDs in South Carolina will not be allowed to vote. They have done nothing to address that.”

South Carolina’s suit will be filed shortly in the US District Court of the District of Columbia, and Haley’s legislative cronies already have backup plans to ensure that Democrats lose South Carolina votes this year:

If a lawsuit against the Justice Department is unsuccessful, state lawmakers say they will consider amending the bill to include a voter education component and more lenient identification requirements to ensure its passage.

TWO: Votal Recall

Other than watching Mitt Romney’s rivals attack him from the left, the political spectacle I enjoyed most this week was watching Nikki Haley get attacked from the right. A group claiming to be made up of conservatives has launched an effort to have Haley recalled for fiscal recklessness, lying, corruption, marital infidelity and lack of transparency.

South Carolina’s constitution has no provision for recalling an elected official, but as the Patch’s Jonathan Allen notes, Haley has in the past voiced support for changing the law, at least when she wasn’t opposing the idea.

She opposed it when the first petition to recall her was launched on March 21 of last year, two months and nine days after she was sworn in. Apart from a couple of typos, the petition’s preamble is very pleasant reading:

Governor Nikki Haley has lied on job applications as a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, recklessly undermined the educational system of the State of South Carolina, and cruely ignored the misfortunate citizens in her state through divisive judgements. Her policies have led to job losses and failures of state departments in every county.

Haley opposed a 2009 attempt to change state law when a recall attempt against her famously crooked predecessor, Fox News commentator and lovesick swain Mark Sanford, was launched. Her thinking had evolved by July of last year:

“Legislators want to pass legislation in South Carolina that allows voters to recall any statewide elected official,” Haley wrote on her Facebook page… “I am in complete support of anything that gives power to the people but this legislation should apply to legislators as well.”

Yes, like all Republicans, Haley is about power to the people (right on!) as long as it’s the “right” people, usually in more than one sense of the word. Ironically, that generally means people with names that are easier to pronounce than Nimrata Randhawa’s (or Piyush Jindal’s, come to think of it) but Southern Republicans are full of a lot of things, including surprises.

THREE:  Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice Go to Greenville

Haley also rankled some conservatives when she endorsed Mitt Romney in December, mostly the kind of conservatives who believe that Romney is an effete Big Government liberal and that Mormons are devil-worshippers. Why did she endorse before primary season had even begun?

“I am very impatient by nature. And it is not what you say, it’s what you do. I wanted someone who had proven results,” said Haley, who appeared with husband Michael and Ann and Mitt Romney. “[Romney] is no longer a candidate trying to win. He’s a leader who knows what he wants to do his first day in office and is ready to do it.”

The Haleys and the Romneys held their key party at a Greenville fire station on December 16, with Haley wearing her heart rather yuckily on her sleeve:

“What I’ve missed is having a partner in Washington and having a partner in the White House and what I’m looking for is a partner I can have now.”

Eww. But I’m afraid it gets even yuckier:

Romney was gleeful during Haley’s endorsement, explaining how he woke up this morning in Iowa with a “huge smile on his face” that grew even larger when he saw Haley on Fox News during his morning workout talking about endorsing him.

“A lot of us stood at her door,” Romney said of Haley, “hoping to win her endorsement… We’ve been hoping for this for a long, long time.”

The mental image this conjures up is so awful I can barely force my fingers to type this sentence. Continue reading Take Five (Trikki Nikki edition)

Take Five (We're Having a Heatwave, a Tropical Heatwave edition)

ONE: Time for Georgia and Alabama to consider a border fence?

Maybe it’s just the weather, but a few Florida-centric crime stories from last week suggest that some people’s synapses are really beginning to short-circuit a tetch.

That may not be much of a revelation, given the state’s reputation, but even by Florida’s usual standards, last week was a suspiciously weird one.

Consider this odd incident in Utah, involving a Floridian, nudity, and a gun:

Joseph Dennis Alfieri, 50, was cited by the U.S. Forest Service on Sunday with being publicly nude and causing public inconvenience, annoyance and alarm, both misdemeanors. According to information filed Monday in U.S. District Court, a woman camping near the Cobble Rest Campground tracked down forest rangers to report a man walking in a dispersed camping area naked while armed with a pistol.

The woman told rangers the man wore only a holster for his pistol, according to court documents. He reportedly walked around the camping area “at all hours of the night” shouting at the river, the witness said.

Just what that darned river did to piss him off will likely not be known until a court can sort this out, but it appears that Alfieri has a developing habit of behaving badly when way out west:

Federal court records show Alfieri’s address is listed as North Miami, Fla., but property records show he has previous Utah addresses in St. George, Park City and Salt Lake City. Utah state court records show Alfieri pleaded guilty to a DUI-related charge in 1996.

Months ago, I urged Rick Scott to consider imposing a temporary moratorium on out-of-state travel until Floridians can all learn to comport ourselves in a law-abiding fashion. Sure, such a travel ban would violate both state and federal statutes, but it would still be a smart move. That being the case, we can rest assured Governor Scott won’t entertain the idea, so residents of the other 49 had better brace themselves for more buck-naked Floridian pistoleros. At least concealed carry won’t further complicate things, or so we must hope.

Another Floridian, Cherilyn Lopez, decided to keep it local, and she made it a family affair to boot:

A woman who brought in a 3-year-old boy with her when she robbed a bank today told deputies that she has a prescription drug addiction and was going to use the money to buy narcotic pills, the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said…

Deputies learned that Lopez originally drove to the bank and parked, leaving the boy in the minivan, the sheriff’s office said.

She entered the bank, but the boy got out of his car seat on his own and headed to the bank. He put his face against the glass and a bank manager noticed him. The bank manager approached Lopez and asked whether the boy was with her, the sheriff’s office said.

Lopez walked outside and grabbed the boy. They walked in and she robbed the bank, the sheriff’s office said.

Huge kudos to the bank manager for ensuring the child’s safety, and here’s to Lopez getting the help she needs. Or, as a baseline, at least considering a sitter next time…

Finally, the sole witness to a burglary in Ocala appears to have reaped a quick reward… from the perp(s):

One of the homeowners told a sheriff’s deputy that he and his wife had left their residence, located in the 3100 block of Southeast 22nd Avenue, around 1 p.m. They returned about 5 p.m. and discovered the break-in.

Removed from the residence was $13,000 worth of jewelry and $400 in cash. Officials noted it appeared the thief/thieves had removed rotisserie chicken from the refrigerator and fed it to the dog.

The homeowner told the Star-Banner that he had purchased the chicken the night before from Publix, and it was found on the living room floor when he discovered the burglary. Continue reading Take Five (We’re Having a Heatwave, a Tropical Heatwave edition)