Voter ID laws are back in the news once again, with two new opinions from the Wisconsin Supreme Court late last week dealing with the state’s ID requirement, which would allow people to vote only if they provide certain forms of government-issued ID. The Court made some minor changes to the law but otherwise upheld it. However, the ID requirement is still on hold pending a federal lawsuit.
Part of this litigation — and any rational debate about the issue generally — hinges on two things: costs and benefits. The costs of these sorts of laws vary, because the laws themselves differ from state to state (some are far more burdensome than others). The ostensible benefits, though, are all the same. And in addressing these purported benefits, the Wisconsin Supreme Court blew it. Twice.
First, the court cited the idea that ID laws could enhance public confidence–that is, in theory, the laws might make us feel better about elections in that they might provide some security theater. It turns out, though, that this effect is hard to spot. People in states with more restrictive ID laws don’t generally feel better about their elections than people in more permissive states. People who think elections are being stolen, and people who think they’re not, each hold on to that opinion no matter what the governing ID rules in their area…
Second, the court said that ID laws can help stop fraud. It then cited an example of recent fraud … that ID laws aren’t designed to stop. Specifically, it mentioned a case in which a supporter of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was charged with 13 counts of election fraud, including “registering to vote in more than one place, voting where he didn’t live, voting more than once in the same election, and providing false information to election officials,” according to an account by Talking Points Memo. Wisconsin’s ID law would not likely have prevented any of the alleged violations…
I’ve been tracking allegations of fraud for years now, including the fraud ID laws are designed to stop. In 2008, when the Supreme Court weighed in on voter ID, I looked at every single allegation put before the Court. And since then, I’ve been following reports wherever they crop up…
So far, I’ve found about 31 different incidents (some of which involve multiple ballots) since 2000, anywhere in the country. If you want to check my work, you can read a comprehensive list of the incidents…just click through to the original article.
What does this cost us?
Here in New Mexico with a small population, our Republican secretary-of-state set forth on her white horse to dispose of the thousands of cases of voter fraud she was confident she’d find. She had the blessings of our Republican governor – the state legislature hadn’t the guts to sort out her waste. So, she spent over $200,000 and came up with less than a dozen folks who registered to vote when they weren’t qualified. Of those, a couple tried to vote and were rebuffed. The rest had already discovered they weren’t qualified and didn’t even try to vote.
Add in the cost of new voter IDs where Republicans and Blue Dog Dems passed laws trying to block minorities and seniors from voting. Add in the cost of defending patently unconstitutional laws state-by-state up to the Supreme Court.
Multiply that by big states with big searches paid for by taxpayer dollars and we confront hundreds of millions of wasted dollars. And as Professor Levitt noted, he found 31 bona fide allegations of voter fraud in the whole of these United States since 2000.
Republicans waste more time and taxpayer money on lies than any other crooks in the country. And they don’t even have to throw in a copper bracelet.
A new poll released Wednesday by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania found many Americans don’t know how the government works.
The poll showed only 36% of Americans could name all three branches of the government and 35% couldn’t name any of them. It also found over 60% of Americans don’t know which political party controls the House of Representatives and the US Senate.
In a statement accompanying the poll, Annenberg Public Policy Center Director Kathleen Hall Jamieson argued it proves the need for better educational programs.
“Although surveys reflect disapproval of the way Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court are conducting their affairs, the Annenberg survey demonstrates that many know surprisingly little about these branches of government,” Hall Jamieson said. “This survey offers dramatic evidence of the need for more and better civics education.”
Additionally, the poll showed many people do not know basic facts about how the US government functions. It found that over 70% of Americans don’t know a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate is required to override a presidential veto and that 21% of people think a 5-4 Supreme Court decision is sent back to Congress for a final decision.
Tears are allowed.
Certainly, this proves why Republicans are smugly predicting a stronger position in Congress after the mid-term election. They’re assured of endless funds for TV adverts on so-called reality TV shows. Most Americans are liable to find both equally believable.
This also explains the consistency in today’s conservatives loudly proclaiming support for education – while doing everything possible to impede any chance of the average American knowing squat about anything.
Thanks to Mike for stoking my cynicism.
On July 8, as I reported, [local Republican candidate in Maryland] Michael Peroutka wrote a letter to Michael Hill, president of the League of the South, asking the neo-Confederate hate group to help his campaign. Peroutka wanted to thank the League, which advocates for secession and theocratic government by and for white people, for its friendship, work, and hospitality. Peroutka had just won the GOP’s nomination for Anne Arundel County Council, as well as a seat on the Republican Central Committee there, and it made perfect sense that he would reach out to the no doubt many members of the organization on which he once served on the Board of Directors for their support.
Perhaps Peroutka was surprised the following week, when on July 15, Hill wrote an essay for the League’s website titled “A Bazooka in Every Pot,” in which he outlines a program of “guerrilla war,” marked by “three-to-five-man” death squads which would target government leaders, journalists, and other public figures for assassination, in order to advance the League’s goals.
“To oversimplify,” writes Hill, “the primary targets will not be enemy soldiers; instead, they will be political leaders, members of the hostile media, cultural icons, bureaucrats, and other of the managerial elite without whom the engines of tyranny don’t run.”
On the other hand, Hill’s views may come as no surprise to Peroutka, who routinely rails against the “tyranny” of state and federal government. He detests Maryland’s laws supporting marriage equality, transgender rights, and stormwater runoff fees intended to keep the Chesapeake Bay from choking on pollution…
In recent essays of his own, Peroutka questions whether Maryland’s state legislature is “no longer a valid legislative body,” and argues that the duty of the County Council and the sheriff should be to “resist” enforcement of any law that does not measure up to his notion of “God’s Law.” Perhaps fortuitously, Joe Delimater, an elder in Peroutka’s church who shares these views, is the GOP candidate for Sheriff of Anne Arundel County. One might say they are a pair of theocratic running mates. The Maryland chapter of the League of the South features Delimater’s comments on “The War Between the States.”
RTFA for the rest of the details. Jonathan Hutson is part of a group of activists in Maryland who successfully opposed electoral plans of some of these cretins. The Republican Party of Maryland now disavows the stars and bars clown show.
But – don’t kid yourselves into thinking they aren’t dangerous.
At least 15 Fox News hosts and contributors have recently campaigned with two political organizations created and heavily funded by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. Many of those same Fox News personalities have also defended the Kochs from attacks and praised their political efforts on-air…
Politico’s Ken Vogel reported that Americans For Prosperity “intends to spend more than $125 million this year on an aggressive ground, air and data operation benefiting conservatives, according to a memo distributed to major donors and sources familiar with the group.” The Washington Post wrote that with a paid staff of 240, split between 32 states, AFP “may be America’s third-biggest political party.” In 2012, “More than $44 million of the $140 million the organization raised in that election cycle came from Koch-linked feeder funds.”
AFP and AFPFoundation are part of a massive $400 million network of political groups spearheaded by the Kochs. The Huffington Post’s Paul Blumenthal noted, “It is the electoral focus of the Koch nonprofits and their sophisticated efforts to shield donors’ identities — plus the vast sums of money they move — that has brought them the unwanted attention of both Democratic Senate leadership and reporters. There exists no outside network or organization supporting Democratic Party candidates in elections, while not disclosing its donors, that spends money in comparable amounts…”
Fox News personalities are the public face of many AFP/AFPF events. Promotional materials heavily tout the speakers’ affiliation with Fox News to increase attendance. According to a Media Matters review, the following Fox News personalities have participated in AFP and AFPF events since 2012: Guy Benson, Tucker Carlson, Monica Crowley, Jonah Goldberg, Greg Gutfeld, Mary Katharine Ham, Mike Huckabee, Laura Ingraham, Andrew Napolitano, Sarah Palin, Charles Payne, Dana Perino, John Stossel, Cal Thomas, and Juan Williams.
“Fair and balanced” means as little as “liberty and justice for all” in a nation where conservative judges rule that corporations are people, religion and the NSA trump the Constitution.
No one expects Fox News to do anything more than imitate constitutional standards for a Free Press. The saddest part is the fools who believe that papier-mâché imitation.
A state judge struck down Florida’s gay marriage ban on Friday in the latest in a string of legal gay-rights victories that have nonetheless been put on hold for resolution by higher courts.
Circuit court judge Sarah Zabel in Miami-Dade county said Florida’s ban violated the constitutional rights to due process and equal protection, and offended “basic human decency“.
Florida’s attorney general quickly appealed against the ruling. But Zabel said the slew of recent verdicts showed it was “increasingly obvious” it was impermissible to deny couples the right to marry solely on the basis of their sexual orientation, and that doing so served no governmental purpose.
“It serves only to hurt, to discriminate, to deprive same-sex couples and their families of equal dignity, to label and treat them as second-class citizens, and to deem them unworthy of participation in one of the fundamental institutions of our society,” she wrote.
Now, you can see ever more clearly why the Republican Party and their nutball acolytes are blocking affirmation of federal judgeships throughout Obama’s terms in the White House. No one expects him to appoint anyone other than moderate to traditionally-conservative judges; but, even that is too scary for right-wingers and theocrats.
Anyone with an understanding of law beyond 19th Century blood-and-thunder oratory is going to rule favorably upon all the issues Congress is too cowardly to advance.
Welcome to 1965. That was when the Supreme Court ruling in Griswold vs Connecticut legalized the sale and public access to contraceptive devices. The pharmacist at the Orange pharmacy just 5 blocks from my apartment in New Haven was arrested for publicly displaying and selling condoms.
Today’s conservative-dominated Supreme Court probably would have upheld the law and his arrest. Today’s Republicans demonstrate once again their War on Women is more important than separation of Church and State, more important than women having the individual liberty to make choices about reproduction. Welcome to 1865.
Today, Senate Republicans filibustered a bill that would have walked back the recent Supreme Court hearing in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and made sure that contraception was treated no differently from other medications in company insurance policies. The bill, promoted by Washington senator Patty Murray and Colorado senator Mark Udall and called the Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act, would have ensured that for-profit companies that provide health insurance to employees could not deny coverage of specific medications, including birth control. It exempted houses of worship and religiously affiliated nonprofits.
Nonetheless, the bill failed. Only three Republicans crossed party lines to vote for it: Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, and Mark Kirk of Illinois.
The bill’s defeat isn’t a surprise, but it is indicative of how extreme positions from the long-standing wars over abortion have crept into territory the American public more or less agrees on. Overwhelming majorities of Americans think birth control is morally acceptable, and two-thirds support mandated contraception coverage in health insurance plans. A majority thinks for-profit companies should have to cover contraception even if the company owners have religious objections.
But a bill solidifying those values while maintaining rights for religious groups was just shot down…
Numerous studies show that affordable, accessible contraception significantly lowers abortion rates. When women around the world are able to plan their families, they live longer, their children are healthier, they have fewer abortions, their families make more money and even their local and national economies improve. And family planning doesn’t just reduce abortion rates — it reduces infant mortality rates too.
So why do Republicans want to make it harder and more expensive to get? Because this isn’t about abortion at all. It’s about female sexuality and a conservative hostility toward it. Contraception doesn’t just have social, medical, and economic benefits; it allows women to have sex for pleasure. There are a lot of folks who find that threatening and unpleasant…
…The point of insurance is to help offset health care costs. If employers didn’t have to cover vaccinations or the setting of broken bones or brain surgery, people would still have the legal ability to get to those things, but many people wouldn’t be able to, because the cost would make them inaccessible. The same is true for birth control.
Americans understand that. It’s too bad conservatives in the Senate don’t.
‘Nuff said. Conservative creeps want to turn this country back into the sort of theocratic, bigoted, old-white-male-dominated nation exemplified by today’s Republican Party.
The War on Women is central to that ideology.
Three of the world’s richest men — Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Sheldon Adelson — criticized the U.S. Congress, and particularly the Republican-led House, over its failure to revamp immigration laws.
“Whatever the precise provisions of a law, it’s time for the House to draft and pass a bill that reflects both our country’s humanity and its self interest,” Microsoft co-founder Gates, Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Buffett and Las Vegas Sands Corp. Chairman Adelson wrote in a New York Times op-ed posted online yesterday.
“It’s time for 535 of America’s citizens to remember what they owe to the 318 million who employ them,” they wrote, referring to the total membership of the House and Senate.
The three men are worth a combined $184.3 billion, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index.
Congress – especially the Republican-controlled House – isn’t worth crap!
While business representatives have long favored rewriting immigration laws, the push for that effort by corporate titans who have varying political beliefs and interests is unusual…
Adelson, 80, and his wife, Miriam, have been major donors to Republican candidates for years. They pumped $15 million into a super-political action committee backing former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s presidential campaign in 2012…They later gave $20 million to the super-PAC supporting the eventual Republican nominee, Mitt Romney.
Buffett, 83, has given money largely to Democrats over the years, including more than $200,000 to Obama and the Democratic National Committee since Obama first ran for president…He has also cultivated relationships with Republicans as he encouraged compromise on political issues.
Gates, 58, has donated money to members of both parties and a variety of causes, including efforts to support gay marriage…
“The three of us vary in our politics and would differ also in our preferences about the details of an immigration reform bill,” Gates, Adelson and Buffett wrote. “But we could without a doubt come to together to draft a bill acceptable to each of us,” and “it’s time this brand of thinking finds its way to Washington.”
Accusing Congressional conservatives of “thinking” is akin to calling the 1971 Ford Pinto “safe and efficient automobile design”.
Though it’s a positive sign of the times that three disparate corporate barons can come together in the spirit of moderate progress, aiding our lame economy – the likelihood of anything useful leaking from the barnacle-encrusted barge that is Congress is nil.
Until and unless American voters throw useless pimps for fossil fuel and war profiteering out of office – and that includes rejecting the populist crap so beloved of nutballs – we as a nation don’t stand a chance of realizing a modicum of economic growth. Everything that stands for progress in building a modern, educated, employable society is rejected by the least competent gaggle of political hacks ever assembled in Washington DC.
The man and woman suspected in Sunday’s Las Vegas shopping center attack that left two police officers and a shopper dead often talked about killing officers and didn’t believe in the government, a neighbor says.
“They always talked about murdering cops,” neighbor Krista Koch told ABC affiliate KTNV-TV…”They were going to kill as many officers as they can, and then they were going to do away with themselves.”
Investigators searched an apartment overnight believed to be related to the shooting, trying to uncover clues about the midday attack. Police are looking into the couple’s links to the white supremacy movement after finding swastika symbols during their initial investigation…
Investigators say the man and woman, armed with guns and ammunition, walked into a CiCi’s Pizza Restaurant, where they opened fire on officers Alyn Beck, 41, and Igor Soldo, 31.
Police say one officer fired back, but both died from their injuries.
Sheree Burns, who witnessed the shooting, says the officers didn’t stand a chance…
The pair then fled across the street to a Walmart, where the male suspect reportedly yelled, “Everyone get out.” Shots rang out inside the store at 11:27 a.m. By then police were already on the scene. A third victim was found dead inside the store’s front door.
Police say the man and woman then went to the back of the store, where they killed themselves in an apparent suicide pact. The female suspect reportedly shot the male suspect, then took her own life…
“It’s a tragic day, it’s a very, very difficult day,” Sheriff Doug Gillespie said at a news conference. “But we still have a community to police, and we still have a community to protect. We will be out there doing it with our heads held high, but with emptiness in our hearts.”
It’s always useful to see the Board of Directors of the NRA/Tea Party get out in public.
Yeah, that’s a smartass remark. What else? You know about the nutball gun culture in the United States. This is just one more time I’m embarrassed by creeps who turn their reliance on firearms as a substitute for real achievements – into death. Embarrassed because I’ve been a gun owner, an occasional hunter, for decades.
My family has worked in the firearms industry more often than any other. Growing up in Connecticut – the arsenal of America – that’s where employment was most often available. But, even the most conservative members of my extended family never turned out to be the kind of crazies that dominate the NRA, the Tea Party, the most paranoid cowards in the history of American libertarianism.
Las Vegas coppers suggest this couple had ties to racist politics – and that fits as well. The new Confederacy still prides itself on bigotry even with their adoption of the diplomatic use of code words instead of traditional hatespeak. I imagine if you spend Friday night in a country-western bar in Mississippi, Texas or Arizona – you’ll hear the good ol’ boys at their traditional best.
Oh, and you can expect the public dregs of our rightwing to busy themselves immediately making excuses, trying to turn these thugs into heroes. I expect we’ll all hear the predictable line from Fox News to The Blaze by midday.
With a vast swath of the West primed for wildfires, federal foresters are preparing for the worst with a budget that might run dry and a fleet of air tankers that in some cases aren’t ready for takeoff.
A combination of extended drought, warming weather and an abundance of withered trees and grasses have created ideal conditions for fire — more than 22 million acres were blackened by wildfires from 2011-2013, primarily across the West…
In no place is the situation more worrisome than in California, where several years of stingy rainfall have turned forests and scrub into matchsticks and tens of thousands of homes are perched along fire-prone areas.
Firefighters battled a blaze in the mountains east of Los Angeles this week, where temperatures neared triple digits. And states from New Mexico through southern Oregon have been left sere by a lack of rain and snow.
About a decade ago the Forest Service had more than 40 of the big tankers at its disposal — the draft horses of firefighting aircraft that can dump thousands of gallons of flame-snuffing retardant in a single swoop, far more than a helicopter.
According to federal analysts, the fleet hit a low of eight aircraft at one point last year, depleted by age and concerns over the ability of the planes, in some cases flying since the dawn of the Cold War, to stay in the sky.
Be of good cheer. Contemplate the most reactionary members of Congress in your neck of the prairie – someone as backwards, say, as Steve Pearce in downstate New Mexico. You can guarantee he will shout and rail against Forest Service, state and federal fire-fighters as being Federal agents in practice and policy.
Almost as loud as he and his peers hollered when confronted with legislation in Congress which would authorize spending a few more tax dollars on those air tankers, better salaries and benefits for those first responders. They voted against it of course.
Our states may go up in flames before folks finally toss useless cruds like Pearce off his gravy train based on service to oil companies, mining companies.