Voting rights

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Chris Hayes leaves the rest of the news media in the dust on just about any issue, and this story is no exception. While he does mention the Bush U.S. attorney purge, he doesn’t detail what happened – namely, that they only purged the DoJ ranks of U.S. attorneys who didn’t understand that they were supposed to fabricate cases of voter fraud if, as was likely, they couldn’t actually find any – and that many of those who made the ideological cut are still around:

In closing arguments this Friday, attorneys for the state of Texas argued that the state should be released once and for all from the Justice Department’s supervision of its voting process… which is currently authorized by the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The case is widely expected to end up before the Supreme Court, where it won’t be surprising if we find the five Republican appointees declaring the Voting Rights Act is no longer justified and thus gutted or entirely null.

The portion of the act at issue covers nine states, and counties and townships in seven others, largely in the South, that have a history of erecting barriers to black people exercising their right to vote.

In years past this took a variety of forms, ‘grandfather’ tests that stopped newly freed slaves from voting, since their grandfathers weren’t on the rolls, “literacy’ tests selectively administered and devilishly difficult or simple poll taxes that forced people to pay to vote… if they could afford it.

After one of the most powerful and courageous social movements in American history, one which took the lives of at least 40 people, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, LBJ famously signed the voting rights act in 1965 ending these practices.

“Wherever, by clear and objective standards, states and counties are using regulations, or laws, or tests to deny the right to vote, then they will be struck down. If it is clear that State officials still intend to discriminate, then Federal examiners will be sent in to register all eligible voters. When the prospect of discrimination is gone, the examiners will be immediately withdrawn. And, under this act, if any county anywhere in this Nation does not want Federal intervention it need only open its polling places to all of its people.”

It wasn’t until the passage of the Voting Rights Act, and the many amendments to it over the years that black people in the South and in some places outside the South could actually exercise their right to be full participating citizens in American democracy.

Texas, would now like to get rid of that rule so it can impose a voter ID requirement and more broadly do whatever it damn well pleases as far as restrictions on voting are concerned. And it just so happens that while Texas is pursuing an end to the Reign of Tyranny that is the Voting Rights Act, states around the union under Republican control have been waging an unparalleled assault on access to the voting booth for the poor and marginal.

In Pennsylvania, a recent study found that 750,000 people, or one tenth of the total electorate, don’t have ID’s that would enable them to vote in November. Alabama now requires voters to provide documentary proof of citizenship… which 7% of Alabama voters… or former voters… do not have.
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Serfing U.S.A.

Joss Whedon of “Buffy” and “Avengers” fame at ComicCon:

Toward the end of the session, one woman noted the anti-corporate themes in many of his movies and asked him to give his economic philosophy in 30 seconds or less.

Whedon’s response?

“We are watching capitalism destroy itself right now,” he told the audience.

He added that America is “turning into Tsarist Russia” and that “we’re creating a country of serfs.”

Whedon was raised on the Upper Westside neighborhood of Manhattan in the 1970s, an area associated with left-leaning intellectuals. He said he was raised by people who thought socialism was a ”beautiful concept.”

Socialism remains a taboo word in American politics, as Republicans congressmen raise the specter of the Cold War. They refer to many Obama administration initatives as socialist, and the same goes for most laws that advocate increasing spending on social welfare programs. They also refer to the President as a socialist, though this and many of their other claims misuse the term.

This evidently frustrates Whedon, who traces this development to Ronald Reagan – the nominal hero of the modern conservative movement. Since then, Whedon believes the country has changed in way that has made it too difficult for regular people to succeed.

And what is the end result?

“We have people trying to create structures and preserve the structures that will help the middle and working class, and people calling them socialists,” Whedon said. “It’s not Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal […] it’s some people with some sense of dignity and people who have gone off the reservation.” Guess he’s not a Tea Party fan.

Instant karma

Because they solicit them, I dropped off a huge mess of plastic grocery bags at my local thrift store today, and in response, the universe placed a set of brand new curtain tiebacks in my way for only $3 – which normally run about $15. (I’d been using rubber bands.) Nice!

A major glitch in the Romneybot

Mitt Romney is quick to spout racist slurs and lies about the economy, but most Republicans can’t really warm up to him, not even the wing nuts.

From the always-quotable Matt Taibbi:

…[Romney] doesn’t buzz with anything. His vision of humanity is just a million tons of meat floating around in a sea of base calculations. He’s like a teenager who stays up all night thinking of a way to impress the prom queen, and what he comes up with is kicking a kid in a wheelchair. Instincts like those are probably what made him a great leveraged buyout specialist, but in a public figure? Man, is he a disaster. It’s really incredible theater, watching the Republicans talk themselves into this guy.

Taibbi’s words were in response to a speech by Mitt Romney to the NAACP, followed by speeches to Republican crowds in Montana. In his false attempt to reach out to the NAACP, Romney offered up the standard Republican talking points — Obama’s health care bill is a sham, government is evil, and so on. His speeches in Montana were to remind his core constituency — white, ring-wing males — that he had tried but failed to find common ground with the sort of people who support “Obamacare,” those who want “more free stuff.”

The Montana crowds cheered Romney, but even the dopiest right-wingers know he once supported Obama-style health care and is incapable of taking a principled stand on important issues. His candidacy is hard for them to accept. It’s as if Karl Rove and a team of fascist engineers tried to create the ideal Republican robot but screwed up the coding and produced a monster of falseness, grotesquely awkward and cold, embarrassing to the very people they were hoping he would impress.

More here.

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