"When I get new evidence I change my mind. What do you do?" John Maynard Keynes
- Nelson Mandela
- Teaching Cartoon: Two On ‘Timing’ & a Tale
- THE VOID (trailer)
- Humberto Maturana & Heinz von Foerster: Meta-Science, Reflection
- Visual Experiment: On the Trail (ARK)
- Teaching Cartoons: Instrumentality 1 & 2
- Mandorla: Trailer
- A Hidden ‘Meta’
- Who Are Your Luminaries?
- Everyone is going one place or the other, ‘cept corporations
- Kippie’s Ekaya
- Free Play Softball League: Ludic Aspirations & the Blue Men Group
- Symmetry Visual Experiment
- Teaching cartoon: Preparation
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Cleveland Heights, Ohio
- If, during the long course of ages and under varying conditions of life, organic beings vary at all in the several parts of their organization, and I think this cannot be disputed; if there be, owing to the high geometric powers of increase of each species, at some age, season or year, a severe struggle for life, and this certainly cannot be disputed; then, considering the infinite complexity of the relations of all organic beings to each other and to their conditions of existence, causing an infinite variety in structure, constitution, and habits, to be advantageous to them, I think it would be a most extraordinary fact if no variation ever had occurred useful to each being’s own welfare, in the same way as so many variations have occurred useful to man. But if variations useful to any organic being do occur, assuredly individuals thus characterized will have the best chance of being preserved in the struggle for life; and from the strong principle of inheritance they will tend to produce offspring similarly characterized. This principle of preservation, I have called, for the sake of brevity, Natural Selection. [Charles Darwin (1859) On the Origin of Species]
- “It is essential to such a government, that it be derived from the great body of the society, not from an inconsiderable proportion, or a favored class of it; otherwise a handful of tyrannical nobles, exercising their oppressions by a delegation of their powers, might aspire to the rank of republicans, and claim for their government the honorable title of republic.” James Madison
- All the property that is necessary to a Man, for the Conservation of the Individual and the Propagation of the Species, is his natural Right, which none can justly deprive him of: But all Property superfluous to such purposes is the Property of the Publick, who, by their Laws, have created it, and who may therefore by other laws dispose of it, whenever the Welfare of the Publick shall demand such Disposition. He that does not like civil Society on these Terms, let him retire and live among Savages. He can have no right to the benefits of Society, who will not pay his Club towards the Support of it. -Benjamin Franklin
Thinking Outside the Agora
- Is the Wachowskis' Jupiter Ascending the Space Opera of our Dreams? December 10, 2013Mila Kunis plays two badass women, in the first trailer for the Wachowskis' insane new space adventure, Jupiter Ascending. Featuring some insane eye candy, and Channing Tatum as a master assassin with pointy ears.Read more...
- The live-action Kiki's Delivery Service trailer fails to deliver December 10, 2013Ugh. I know Kiki's Delivery Service is based on a Japanese children's book series, and I know Hayao Miyazaki took a lot of liberties when he made his classic anime movie of it. So maybe this live-action Kiki is going to be more authentic, but there's just no way it'll be as good.Read more... […]
- Amazingly Beautiful Advertisements for Gotham City's Weird Companies December 9, 2013Weirdness permeates Gotham City, what with all the spooky architecture and homicidal maniacs around every corner. So it makes sense that advertisements for local businesses would be kind of trippy and off-balance. See for yourself, in concept art by Mary Locatell.Read more... […]
- The Loneliness of the Long-Abandoned Space Observatory December 9, 2013Space observatories are among some of the most magnificent buildings devoted entirely to science — because their windows look out on the universe. And their distinctive shape makes them into poignant ruins. Here are some observatories whose views onto space have been lost to time.Read more...
- Once Upon A Time says, "Fuck it, let's just reboot everything again" December 9, 2013
- Is the Wachowskis' Jupiter Ascending the Space Opera of our Dreams? December 10, 2013
- DIY Hacks & How To’s: Light Up Christmas Present December 10, 2013
- MAKE Asks: Audio Hacks December 9, 2013
- Let the Children Make December 9, 2013
- AMRI Bioprinting: Integrating Makers, and Scientists December 9, 2013
- RobotsConf: Day 1 December 9, 2013
Category Archives: current events
Blues for a Hip King – Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya 1985
Any man that tries to rob me of my dignity will lose.
Something a martial artist would say. And, so he was, and Mandela was a man with a singular sense of time and an African sense of will.
Nelson Mandela 1918-2013 Sowetan.live.co.za
Mandela was for me, the greatest human of our time.
“Buying and Selling is an Art, whereby people endeavour to cheat one another of the Land…….and true Religion is, To let every one enjoy it.”
Gerrard Winstanley A New-yeers Gift for the Parliament and Armie 1650
(I’d be a Bernie Sanders Democrat if Bernie was a member of the Democratic Party. So, I’m a Winstanley Democrat, because the triangulation of George Fox, Eugene Debs and Thomas Paine somehow incarnated by Winstanley in the late 17th century is about right.)
Charles S. Pierce: In the year of our Lord 2010, the voters of the United States elected the worst Congress in the history of the Republic. There have been Congresses more dilatory. There have been Congresses more irresponsible, though not many of them. There have been lazier Congresses, more vicious Congresses, and Congresses less capable of seeing forests for trees. But there has never been in a single Congress — or, more precisely, in a single House of the Congress — a more lethal combination of political ambition, political stupidity, and political vainglory than exists in this one, which has arranged to shut down the federal government because it disapproves of a law passed by a previous Congress, signed by the president, and upheld by the Supreme Court, a law that does nothing more than extend the possibility of health insurance to the millions of Americans who do not presently have it, a law based on a proposal from a conservative think-tank and taken out on the test track in Massachusetts by a Republican governor who also happens to have been the party’s 2012 nominee for president of the United States. (Charles S. Pierce blogs at Esquire, in a devastating manner about politics–so I don’t have to do so myself, as much.)
President Barack Obama:”They’ve shut down the government over an ideological crusade to deny affordable health insurance to millions of Americans.”
I find Conservatism in its Reaganesque revision to be abject and might as well throw into the compactor the Tea Party and Libertarianism* and everything to do with the whiny ethos of the “Makers;’ itself a position of bathos first scribbled out in post-Burkean form in the, alas, enduring circular banalities of Ayn Rand.
In the last week I wandered through comment threads expressly etched to pry apart the paradox of Ted Cruz’s high IQ and ivy league credentials and his having before the Supreme Court. (Clarence Thomas!!!)
(But I wasn’t doing so to contribute or be a voyeur. I did so because the problem posed by a public personage triggering a public inquiry about his or her ‘intelligence’ provides a great portal through which to witness the sweep of folk sociology and folk psychology as-practice in discussion about the nature of intelligence. This particular topic happens to interest me a great deal.)
Cruz apparently was indoctrinated into his father’s belief system as a teenager and has used his great mind for purposes other than shifting away a half iota or more from that 25+ year old teenage belief system. Speaking to David Gregory this weekend, Senator Cruz made a number of comments that indicate he has forgotten, or is unaware of very large, important chunks of the U.S. Constitution. Oh, well, I guess that part of his reputation is undeserved and is now in the toilet!
(Meanwhile, Cruz’s father reminds us all, Obama is a Muslim!)
Still, I can inhabit the devil’s advocate enough to understand that as far as ‘getting one’s way,’ politics is a hard ball game played by more than a few crusty white men and, so, right at the beginning of the day, many such men understand that, for example, ‘the Constitution isn’t a suicide pact,’ and ‘one’s deepest beliefs shouldn’t be sacrificed in the a pyre fueled by the anti-royalist dreams of the founding fathers.’ At the end of the day, for those men, taking an entire economy of the USA hostage for the sake of rolling back the healthcare of many African-Americans is just a day’s labor in the second Civil War.
Although it does take a mountain of chutzpah to then blame the hostage’s family for killing the hostage, after the kidnappers’ insane demands weren’t met.
It is a historical fact that at times corporate collectivists and plutocrats both ensnare populist resentment, and, re-deploy it for purposes dreamed up in 1% fan club think tanks. But, if, like Paul Ryan, you deeply adhere to the entwined ideas that it is (#1) government that makes it impossible for the one percenters to (#2) exhale and fill the sails of the fleet of swamped middle class dinghies, then you, I’m afraid are stupid about economics, as is Paul Ryan. and, just as evidently, as are the entirety of Tea Party reactionaries, Ron/Rand Paultards, and the other hand children to the upper echelon of the corporate and financial classes–you know, the one’s who think “Tea Party” on their way to their offshore bank’s web site, and guffaw, ‘what suckers!.’
GOP is said now to be run by their nihilistic wing. Better: they’re being run by a mob of autistic teenagers.
Falsification of Libertarianism: I enjoy both liberty and freedom today in portions that exceed anything that would be possible were you to give the world over to any persons and to any ideology supposed to be libertarian. This is true despite any argument you could devise to try to prove my statement of fact to be not true. (And, I mean: little ol’ me is free.)
Count me against an immoral act of war against Syria. A strike against Syria would be an illegal war too.
I’m usually against war of any kind. Strictly speaking, I would endorse my country defending itself against direct attackers.
President Obama and his minions and the pro-war coterie have not made either a moral, or logical, or grown-up case for potentially chewing up innocent Syrian civilians for whatever are the various objectives being promoted. My opinion is admittedly facile, and is intentionally harsh.
I’m just a solitary idealist about peace sitting in the comfort of my home. I sit here in a haven safe from most threats–although I hear the NSA is storing my internet data–and I do understand my Syrian counterparts mostly cannot be sure he or she or their own will make it to tomorrow, alive.
The unintended consequences are not being discussed much. The pro-war argument rests on asserting a “norm” that only is so if the world embraces its enforcement. Otherwise, the norm is a “has been,” and the rationale must logically slide over to the quid-pro-quid arena in which a lot of history’s barbarities have played out.
War…is as much a punishment to the punisher as to the sufferer. – Thomas Jefferson
The package would take effect in 2016. It requires voters to present government-issued photo IDs at the polls and shortens early voting by a week, from 17 days to 10. It also ends same-day registration, requiring voters to register, update their address or make any other needed changes at least 25 days ahead of an election. A high school civics program that registers tens of thousands of students to vote each year in advance of their 18th birthdays has been eliminated. Talking Points Memo, August 13-2013
The question is: how much voter fraud is there in North Carolina? In-person fraud based on a voter misrepresenting his or her identity is squashed by voter ID laws. From this one would suspect such fraud is a big problem in North Carolina.
Of course, it isn’t a problem at all. The scope of this particular bill is telling. There is no reason to candy coat the intentions behind the explicit targeting of this new law. North Carolina seems hellbent on returning to the 1850s.
North Carolina races to the bottom!
There isn’t enough evidence to plausibly argue “voter fraud” anymore. And arguing “voter integrity” is a tough sell, even to the masses, when you are actively precluding registered voters from casting a ballot. So now the argument to justify voter suppression has devolved to this: Because blacks are no longer killed when they try to register to vote, because many more vote now than voted 50 years ago, “things have changed” enough in the South to permit states to enact discriminatory laws that threaten minority votes in more subtle ways. The intended result is the same — disenfranchisement — but the method of getting there has a more sterile and bureaucratic visage. In this, Southern lawmakers are demonstrating to Justice Kennedy and everyone else that they indeed understand fully their “heritage” and their “history, its triumphs and its mistakes” and have learned from them. Fifty years after Birmingham, they have learned once again how to use the law as a weapon and not a shield against minority citizens within their midst. Andrew Cohen; ESquire-Politics; North Carolina Voting Bill – Justice Kennedy Has To Answer For North Carolina
Voter fraud convictions represent a 1 in 10 million failure to protect the integrity of the vote. I recently heard for the first time the new argument on behalf of making voting harder: actual voter fraud is undetectable and so it is wide-spread, even if there is no evidence. This new rationale leans heavily into territory the GOP owns, such as: the transvaginal probe being for the sake of the woman’s heath; teaching the controversy of biological origins; certainty about shari’a being the first foothold of the new caliphate here in the USA; and, the whole shebang constituting supply side economics.
In other words, the rationale is irrational and, fundamentally, nonsensical. I suppose it’s simply obvious advocates of suppressing legal voting cannot admit the obvious actual reasons for it being necessary to make voting more difficult.
Still, it is easy to fashion a forthright response if some Republican were to ask me to do so–on their behalf. It would go like this: “Elections are battles with great powers at stake, and in a grown up game for power you do everything possible to win.” No Republican will ever confess as much–in public.
Racism, gerrymandering, state’s rights, nullification, and the Southern Strategy become once again fashionable in the GOP. If you know a Republican, ask him or her if they would like to see every eligible voter exercise their right to vote. Then see if he or she will fall back on election integrity, or, be honest.
Progressive Pulse – North Carolina
ACLU – North Carolina
Brennan Center For Justice – Voting Rights
ACLU – Voting
Fair Vote – The Center For Voting and Democracy
Demos.org – Voting Rights
Election Law Blog (Rick Hasen)
(From this article:) So where should the Republican Party go from here? How about trying to have a conversation with the middle class? What about talking about the need for better jobs at better wages? Why not?
Why not? For one thing, the GOP has been the party of cheap labor for well over 100 years. And the GOP’s plan to take back the women’s vote involves transvaginal probing.
But, yeah, freeedom!
When it comes to fiscal policy, then, Republicans have fallen victim to their own con game. And I would argue that something similar explains how the party lost its way, not just on fiscal policy, but on everything.
Think of it this way: For a long time the Republican establishment got its way by playing a con game with the party’s base. Voters would be mobilized as soldiers in an ideological crusade, fired up by warnings that liberals were going to turn the country over to gay married terrorists, not to mention taking your hard-earned dollars and giving them to Those People. Then, once the election was over, the establishment would get on with its real priorities — deregulation and lower taxes on the wealthy.
At this point, however, the establishment has lost control. Meanwhile, base voters actually believe the stories they were told — for example, that the government is spending vast sums on things that are a complete waste or at any rate don’t do anything for people like them. (Don’t let the government get its hands on Medicare!) And the party establishment can’t get the base to accept fiscal or political reality without, in effect, admitting to those base voters that they were lied to.
The result is what we see now in the House: a party that, as I said, seems unable to participate in even the most basic processes of governing.Paul Krugman
The following video is a nicely realized slice of bright-eyed Tea Party angst concerned with the problem of young voters and reconfigured GOP party rules. (*)
video via Constitutional.War.org.
We are talking about voters who, by and large, vote against their own economic self-interest time and time again and who, quite honestly, are the biggest suckers in the history of representative democracy. They continue to support policies that render their states into third-world sweatshops for corporations headquartered thousands of miles away. They doom their kids to inadequate schools and themselves to the whims of free-market medicine. The problem, of course, is that the rest of us have to live with the consequences and, it should be noted, pay a fkload of the bills for it besides. Charles S. Pierce, Esquire Politics
(In the video I am most amused by the aside early in the video about ‘George Washington not wanting two parties’ because without knowing anything else about what Dude understands about early American history in the founding era, I’m fairly confident he could reel off an impressively loopy mash-up about that history and rope in Washington.)
(*) Proponents of the “compromise” ignore the enormously destructive problem of the proposed Rule 12. Rule 12 would enable 75% of the Republican National Committee later to eliminate their “compromise” and to destroy or make drastic changes in dozens of other rules which have served our party well over the years.
In practice, Rule 12 would enable an RNC chairman to enact almost any rules change he or she desired, because an RNC chairman already has so much power and influence that he or she can almost always can get 75% or more of the RNC members to vote for or against anything. A chairman already has the enormous “power of the purse,” and should not have also the power to change party rules at will.
There is already quite enough power flow from the top down in our party. Instead of approving more power grabs, we should be looking for ways for more power to flow from the bottom up. That’s how to attract more participants into our party. Red State September 2012
Hopefully during the recess the Tea Party will be making a ruckus at all the local get togethers and town halls so as to hasten the GOP fratricide. Although, it is a strange kind of fratricide which pits an obese thug Chris Christie against the oily hypocrite Ted Cruz or the smart-as-a-chair Rand Paul. Keep in mind the GOP agrees at least in the need for a race to the bottom. Cheap labor and the hegemony of the makers remains the GOP objective.
The thuggish Chris Christie, the Koch Brothers, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, Steve King, John Boehner, and the whole lot of GOP ideologues, propagandists, polemicists, plutocrats, racists, and, fundamentalists, do have a program for the middle class and I call it: Sorting.
Utopian Sorting is an even better term.
He chooses Peace. He must be able to make a choice.Interview with Yukiyoshi Takamura in Aikido Journal
In an earlier post about the vigorous development of an anti-Constitution police and surveillance state, I referred to Carl Jung’s insight about the concretization of harmful utility from charged unconscious constellations of collective fears. A simpler way to describe this is to state that if we go looking for evil-doing we will project it on anything our unconscious is on the lookout for; then on, something like, everyone.
The Trayvon Martin tragedy connects with the surveillance state via the consequential vector of a collective unconscious complex. This complex encapsulates the dark side of our collective roots, roots anchored in how it was we created a nation from an American frontier that required the near extermination of the native inhabitants and the kidnapping and enslaving of Black Africans.
This primitive social complex compels our hyper-vigilance, and evokes the solitary vigilante. This vigilante may be found acting as the canary in neighborhood coal mines, or, he or she may be huddled over a computer screen waiting for algorhythmic processing to pop up a ‘suspicious’ character (or propensity,) out of an ocean of indiscriminate data.
This complex is archaic. It’s dark imperative is simple to name: tame the savages one way or the other. Or, as Frederick Turner put it in his book about it, Beyond Geography, its mission is “educating the children for citizenship.”
Among the concomitant terrible issues of this unconscious social complex are willful mistakes in ‘threat’ identification, and, slaughter.
The murder of Sitting Bull was what led with terrific inexorability to the savage collusion of this business, for it confirmed the fears of the Sioux Ghost Dancers that the troops had been brought in to murder them all. Badly frightened but defiant Sioux huddled under Chief Bog Foot in the Badlands off the reservations where refugees from Standing Rock came bearing news of the murder. While they danced and awaited further news the troops surrounded them and began a kind of negotiation that ended with the dancers being prodded toward Pine Ridge Reservation December 27, [1880.] On the 28th the troops camped about 20 miles from the agency and plans were made to take from the dancers whatever arms they might have.
You another American dawn, but singular in its way, for what it broke upon was the end of something that vastly predated the corporeal realities of those who now faced each other across a tiny patch of clay-dry Indian soil. On the slopes of the little hillock stood 470 white men muffled and capped against the weather, their rifles greased, glinting, and government-issued, and there four big rapid fire cannons trained downhill. Among them, grim faced, expectant members of the US 7th cavalry–Custer’s outfit–sat their big horses and remembered the Sioux at Little Big Horn. And on the flats below some 340 ghost dancers camped in canvas lodges. The Indians were ordered to surrender their arms. They look at the surrounding guns and into their lodges full of women and children and then delivered up an obviously fallacious cache. So now the close-buttoned, anonymous-faced soldiers moved in, poking and kicking through the lodges while the women called to their men and the children cried. A shaman kept blowing an eagle-bone whistle. Some lodges were overturned and theirs content scattered. The sun rose.
A pitiful treasure of rifles, some of purely talismanic value, was this discovered, but when a soldier attempted to search the body of a young man, the latter drew a concealed gun and fired. In an instant the Indian threat, such as it had been, was exterminated as the gunners and riflemen dropped almost all of the men where they stood at the entrances to the lodges. But now the real battle began, inevitable and terrific. The whole civilization–Chicago and St. Louis and the older outposts eastward; fortresses, soldiers, and slave castles beyond the edges of the Old World; driven kings, commanders, prelators, and nameless spear carriers–all its gathered force poured down the greased barrels and into the screaming women and children who fled westward along winter’s dry gulch toward no refuge. The soldiers pursued them, mile after mile, while behind them a sullen smoke drifted up the smoldering canvases of the lodges.
Black Elk was there, having riden desperately out with others from Pine Ridge when the sounds of the heavy guns announced sure annihilation. Armed with his vision and nothing more he galloped his lathered pony through the smoking destruction out along the gulch,
“and what he saw was terrible. Dead and wounded women and children and little babies. . .scattered all along where they been trying to run away. The soldiers had followed along the gulch, as they ran, and murdered them there. Sometimes they were heaps because they had huddled together, and some were scattered all along. Sometimes bunches of them have been killed and torn to pieces where the wagon guns hit them. I saw a little baby trying to suck its mother, but she was bloody and dead.”
Numbers here are meaningless, but Gen. Nelson A.Miles in charge of operations, spoke truly when he laconically reported, “I think very few Indians have escaped.” (pp 293-294, Beyond Geography)
There is no space between the archaic wish to tame the savages ‘to the last man, woman, and child’ and the contemporary claim that enough vigilance, gun-wielding citizens and patriots, and surveillance will do the trick.
photographic inversion from While Seated.
Chief Justice John Roberts closes a gate and supposes it is no longer necessary and the immediate response on the part of several states is to furiously rush to demonstrate that the gate was actually needed.
Now, the GOP will triple their efforts to suppress the votes of non-white and younger voters. Actually, there’s a fairly large element in the GOP wanting to re-fight the Civil War–given the currency and rhetoric of nullification, States’ rights, and the many strategists and tacticians working tirelessly everyday to solve the problem of ‘too many minorities finding their way to the voting places.’
Republican efforts to stem the non-white tide of electoral participation make for them a new badge for their sour brand, Dixiecans. Chief Justice Roberts’s legacy will from now on darkly turn about his volunteering to be an accessory to the new wave of racism.
“The sad irony of today’s decision lies in its utter failure to grasp why the VRA has proven effective. The Court appears to believe that the VRA’s success in eliminating the specific devices extant in 1965 means that preclearance is no longer needed. … With that belief, and the argument derived from it, history repeats itself.” Ruth Baden Ginsburg nails it.
The Dixiecans move to proudly and shamelessly ratify their heartfelt southern heritage. They will next crusade against the backlash. Soon enough we will learn just how racist is the ‘Philosophy of the Tea Party,’ as the Tea Party masses rush to embrace ‘white supremacy.’
On its face, this looks like a big victory for Republicans. Is it really? I suspect it will turn out to be a poisoned chalice. Many of the GOP’s current problems stem from the fact that it is overly beholden to its white, Southern base at a time when the country is rapidly becoming more racially diverse. In order to expand its base of power beyond the House of Representatives, the GOP needs to expand its appeal to minority voters. As the ongoing battle over immigration reform demonstrates, that process is going poorly and looks like it will be very difficult.
The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down a central provision of the Voting Rights Act will make it easier for Republicans to hold and expand their power in those mainly Southern states. That will, in turn, make it easier for them to hold the House. It will also intensify the Southern captivity of the GOP, thereby making it harder for Republicans to broaden their appeal and win back the White House. Joshua Green, Business Week,
The Supreme Court’s Voting Rights Decision Is a Poison Chalice for the GOP
Alternate view from the arch GOP racist John Fund, writing in white supremacist rag The National Review, “The Supreme Court’s decision today to overturn a small part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act is actually a victory for civil rights.”
I’m less inclined to rant rave or riff on political matters because of the calming effect the confirmation bias supplies while I read Charles S. Pierce everyday at his second-to-none “commonsense tilted” current events blog at Esquire Magazine.
He didn’t reveal anything anyone didn’t know — or suspect — was going on over the past 12 years. But he did reveal its dimensions, the precise parameters of the distance between the PRISM program and the spirit of the Constitution, and the exact distance our fear and our apathy and our neglect of true self-government had carried us from the morning of September 11, 2001 to this weekend. Pierce: Snowden Effect, Day Two
Ever since Obama, while Senator, caved on granting immunity to the telecoms, I understood he would likely be a disappointing protector of the Constitution.
I have several comments.
#1 Now that TIA (Total Information Awareness) has been partly outed, my own strong opinion is: All such broad surveillance violates the Constitution’s 4th Amendment. ‘Hoovering’ data is unhooked from probable cause; end of argument.
#2 Carl Jung stated once something like, “If you pile up enough guns somewhere, they will eventually go off by themselves.” Let’s unpack this comment about psychology. Jung isn’t saying the guns will literally go off by themselves, he means the personal psychic energy attached to the collective fantasy of the guns’ meaningful usefulness (or instrumentality,) eventually concretizes their use.
The idea that large scale data sets have interesting patterns in them makes widespread surveillance a compelling activity psychologically. Eventually both the data and the patterns will be misused, leaked, sold to monied interests, and, used to bring the wish fulfillment full circle. The ‘inner’ urge to uncover patterns is drawn toward the forbidden varieties of fruits hidden in the large sets of data. Most of the tasty fruits have nothing to do with catching jihadists.
#3 Kafka. In our form of government, the government works for us. We cannot argue about the policies and embedded issues and moral trade-offs if those who work for us insist the legal rationales/rationalizations must remain secret for the sake of our own safety.
#4 “Trust Us” is not a workable way to brush it all under the table cloth. (President Obama’s interview with Charlie Rose was the lowest rhetorical point of his sadly mediocre Presidency.)
Do you know what I mean when I speak of a person who spouts something stupid and/or idiotic, and, remarkably, does so as if the sheer twin forces of their sincerity and belief might convert this ‘something’ into a something smart or insightful?
Heck, I’ve done this many times; usually about local sports teams.
Don’t blame the financial crisis on borrowers.
Don’t tell me that poverty simply reflects the bad ethics and attitudes of the poor.
Don’t try to explain ‘libertarian philosophy’ or ‘intelligent design.’ Just: stop before you make a fool of yourself.
Don’t valorize Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher by telling me what each accomplished as if the bloodshed never made it to their hands.
Anthony Cordesman, Center for Strategic and International Studies:
Getting rid of Saddam and Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction is an important set of goals if the war goes well. No war, however, can do more than provide a basis for making Iraq somewhat better and then giving the Iraqis control over their own destiny. No outcome of the war can reshape the Gulf or the Middle East.
The idea of instant democratization coming out of the war and spreading throughout the region denies the laws of cause and effect and is ridiculous. So is the idea we know enough about national building to create an Iraqi United States.
The best we can do is minimize our mistakes and the effect of the law of unintended consequences. To do this requires both realism and commitment. If we rely on miracles and good intentions, or act as occupiers rather than partners, we are almost certain to be far more unhappy on the tenth anniversary of the next war as we were on the tenth anniversary of the Gulf War.
(My late mother had a crush on Tony Cordesman.) Throughout the last half of 2002 the subject my mother and I talked the most about was: Iraq’s soon-to-come moment in Dick Cheney’s cross-hairs. One day I stopped by, sat on her bed, and our conversation commenced with her question, a question promoted by an article in the New York Review of Book that lay opened up across her lap.
She asked me,
“Do you suppose that, besides all the UN inspectors, Iraq is also the most photographed country from air and space that ever was?”
At seventy-five years of age and privy to exactly none of the intelligence Cheney enjoyed, nevertheless, her estimate of the threat posed by Iraq’s WMD was far superior to that of Cheney and his gang of neocon thugs.
How do you account for this difference? The actual difference isn’t a matter of hair splitting. The open source turned out to be correct and the top secret source turned out to be completely bogus.
Scroll ahead ten years and consider: more than a half million casualties, upwards of one million excess deaths, and, not to mention, vast treasure adding up to trillions of dollars, and consider, today, the failed state of Iraq.
By spring of 2003, weeks past shock and awe, my mother had decided, rightly, that a hideous war crime was being perpetrated.
I didn’t expect the schadenfruede to be so long-lasting.
By Paul West
March 18, 2013, 4:00 a.m.
WASHINGTON — A smug, uncaring, ideologically rigid national Republican Party is turning off the majority of American voters, with stale policies that have changed little in 30 years and an image that alienates minorities and the young, according to an internal GOP study.
That blunt assessment on the state of Republicanism at the national level comes from a major new report, out Monday, that will likely shake up an already battered party. It was commissioned by the head of the Republican National Committee in the wake of Mitt Romney’s defeat last year.
Without offering detailed policy prescriptions, the 98-page report calls on the party to “smartly change course,” modernize itself and develop “a more welcoming brand of conservatism that invites and inspires new people to visit us.”
There are extensive lists of proposals, many of them technological and procedural, designed to help the GOP better engage voters, especially women, minorities and the young, and reverse a losing pattern in five of the last six popular votes for president.
“Unless changes are made, it will be increasingly difficult for Republicans to win another presidential election in the near future,” the report concludes.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, in remarks in Washington on the release of the study by the party’s “Growth and Opportunity Project,” is unsparing in his analysis of the 2012 election setback.
“Our message was weak. Our ground game was insufficient. We weren’t inclusive. We were behind in both data and digital. Our primary and debate process needed improvement,” he says, according to an advance text of his remarks.
“We know we have problems. We’ve identified them, and we’re implementing the solutions to fix them,” he says.
Most of the criticisms are familiar to those, both inside and outside the GOP, who have watched the party fail to come to grips with changing demographics and, instead, try to rely on older, white voters who represent a shrinking part of the electorate.
“Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the party represents, and many minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country. When someone rolls their eyes at us, they are not likely to open their ears to us,” the report says. Young voters, it says, see the party as “old and detached from pop culture.”
In calling for the GOP to develop “a more welcoming conservatism,” the report rebukes those who remain in denial about the seriousness of the problem and those who are unwilling to broaden the party’s appeal.
A just-concluded gathering of conservatives in Washington cheered speaker after speaker who urged the GOP to stick to its guns and, instead, largely blamed the 2012 defeat on Romney or the way he ran his campaign.
“The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself,” the study says. “We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue.”
The report calls on Republicans to counter the party’s image as an arm of business. It says Republicans should “blow the whistle at corporate malfeasance and attack corporate welfare. We should speak out when a company liquidates itself and its executives receive bonuses but rank-and-file workers are left unemployed. We should speak out when CEOs receive tens of millions of dollars in retirement packages but middle-class workers have not had a meaningful raise in years.”
Beyond that, however, there are no policy details. Indeed, the authors point out that they are not a policy committee, in a section calling on the GOP to “embrace and champion” comprehensive immigration reform without further specifics.
In addition, an extensive set of “inclusion” proposals for minority groups, including Latinos, Asians and African Americans, appears to mimic similar, failed outreach efforts by various RNC chairs over the last 30 years.
The report notes the party’s problems with women voters, especially unmarried women. But its 10-point plan for appealing to women makes no mention of the GOP stance on any social issues, such as abortion and same-sex marriage, that have turned off many of the voters in question.
In a section on campaign mechanics, Republicans are advised to make “a critical cultural shift” on early, absentee, and online voting, trends that the report notes are “here to stay.” The report fails to note, however, that Republican elected officials fought to block and even reverse that trend at the state level in 2012.
Although the RNC study spares Romney any direct criticism, it includes tacit criticism of GOP polling that seems directed at his campaign. Research conducted for the study report found that 70% of Republican pollsters surveyed said that Democratic polling in 2012 “was better than our own. Fully 22% felt the Democrats did ‘much better’ than the Republicans when it came to accuracy and reliability.”
In a section on party primaries, there are thinly veiled attacks on efforts by outside groups, such as those tied to former George W. Bush strategist Karl Rove and organizations like the Club for Growth, that seek to apply litmus tests or weed out candidates considered unelectable.
“It would be a mistake for any one organization to think it can circumvent GOP voters and hand-pick our nominees,” the report says. “Third-party groups that promote purity are hurting our electoral prospects.”
There are also calls for fewer candidate debates during the presidential primaries, a shorter nomination calendar and an earlier national convention.
The report is the product of a committee headed by Priebus’ allies and supporters, including Henry Barbour of Mississippi, the nephew of former governor and RNC chairman Haley Barbour; former George W. Bush White House spokesman Ari Fleischer; and Sally Bradshaw, a longtime advisor to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.
If this problem of the GOP–losing national popular votes–interests you, you’ll be moved to follow the various scenes of crashing perceptions and the subsequent wreckage.
If somebody asked me what the chief deficit of the GOP is, I would answer that the Red States provide generous amount of evidence about what the Grand Old Party hopes to accomplish. So, from this, my short answer would be,
The GOP wants to race to the bottom. This desire strikes many people as being the equivalent of asking voters to punch themselves in the face–and be better off for it!
The bottom is many ‘bottoms’ and each such bottom can be well defined by the data. If you aspire to obtain the median education or household income or physical health of the average citizen of Mississippi or Tennessee or Alabama, then I have a political party that aims to support your goals.
What is the predicated goal enabled to head downward? Cheap Labor.
There you have it. The strategic handwringing is marvelous yet the actual situation isn’t very dire. The GOP is in fine shape when you look at what the nature of their actual success is all about.
Its libertarian “Chamber of Commerce” wing is fabulously fat and happy. The libertarian wing requires frightened, racist, aging, married, white people to lock in political advantages in Red States and so it has gone famously for four-plus decades. Fueling non-economic resentments of such people and then also gaming as much as possible the available, gritty mechanics of elections has proven to be a marvelous trick.
This strategy has worked out well. The political directors have leveraged resentment and cheap labor to a commanding political lead in the Red states. Has the bottom come into view? Not yet; ‘call the Texas textbook folks.’
(Cheap labor figures into the ability of state level oligarchs to put their money to work on political projects without many monied opponents standing in their way.) The GOP’s success is etched by the various state-level measures. Hurray for Kansas!
Losing national and statewide elections in blue states is the price exacted by the Red State strategy. The GOP protests too much. There is no chance of the GOP winning substantially more votes of young, or single, or minority, or, highly educated voters, as long as the GOP wants to play this hard ball strategic and tactical game on any Purple-to-Blue state’s territory.
For example, it should be completely obvious that the GOP, if it is hoping to make it harder for minorities to vote, is not going to make the party attractive to those same minorities. Having leaders in some states assert the state’s interest in penetrating and raping a woman’s vagina prior to the woman undergoing a medical procedure is not going to make your party attractive to most women. Supporting the teaching of intelligent design and/or young earth creationism; denying climate change; and, (recently we learn,) spinning slaveowners as benefactors of slaves, is not going to make your party more attractive to college kids and the educated classes.
Over the long term of the GOP, the paradox inherent betwixt its ruthless plutocratic libertarian ideology and its core voters’ theocratic fantasy is resolved by the GOP’s inability to accomplish the task of replacing its aging white core voter. Who knew paranoia and fearfulness and resentment has a shelf life?
Until then, I fully expect GOP directors to continue to follow the overt marching orders of Rush and Rand, and be obedient to the tactical orders of ALEC and the Koch Brothers, et al.. In doing so, at least, its power players will continue to enjoy big paydays. I get it: the principle grifters, the Makers, are laughing all the way to the bank. The GOP’s success is not fragile as long as there are, in the Red states, resentful and fearful old white social conservatives for the rightward Makers to shake down and manipulate.
The key requirement of continued GOP success supposes the “Libertarian directors” understand the grievances of the social conservative hoi polloi are never to be resolved.
I missed this during the election. I’ve been enjoying the post election de-brief and schadenfreude. Actually, I doubt I will ever see the mention of schadenfreude pile up as it has in this post-election season.
TinyMitt! Did he really flip flop again and go back to affirm his stupid sociological analysis-you know, the one that did the heavy lifting in his implosion?
Obama Blue Vote Skew
Obama for America’s model squished Bain’s model–so to speak. As it turned out, the technology of the Romney GOTA scored a fail well-matched to Romney’s own badly executed campaign.
But then came Colorado for the president and Florida also was looking tougher than anyone had imagined.
“We just felt, ‘where’s our path?’” said a senior adviser. “There wasn’t one.”
Romney then said what they knew: it was over.
His personal assistant, Garrett Jackson, called his counterpart on Mr. Obama’s staff, Marvin Nicholson. “Is your boss available?” Jackson asked.
Romney was stoic as he talked to the president, an aide said, but his wife Ann cried. Running mate Paul Ryan seemed genuinely shocked, the adviser said. Ryan’s wife Janna also was shaken and cried softly.
“There’s nothing worse than when you think you’re going to win, and you don’t,” said another adviser. “It was like a sucker punch.”
Their emotion was visible on their faces when they walked on stage after Romney finished his remarks, which Romney had hastily composed, knowing he had to say something.
Both wives looked stricken, and Ryan himself seemed grim. They all were thrust on that stage without understanding what had just happened.
“He was shellshocked,” one adviser said of Romney.
Romney and his campaign had gone into the evening confident they had a good path to victory, for emotional and intellectual reasons. The huge and enthusiastic crowds in swing state after swing state in recent weeks – not only for Romney but also for Paul Ryan – bolstered what they believed intellectually: that Obama would not get the kind of turnout he had in 2008.
They thought intensity and enthusiasm were on their side this time – poll after poll showed Republicans were more motivated to vote than Democrats – and that would translate into votes for Romney. Romney Shellshocked By Loss
And to think: Romney prides himself on being data-driven, and Ryan is a self-described ‘numbers guy.’
Going into election day my hunch was that Romney would get plastered by votes from: minorities, women, under-30s, and, that the GOP war-on-women may incur blowback among GOP women too. Maybe GOP women would stay home at historic levels of refusal! Against this I figured on strong turn out of old white guys where it didn’t really matter. The tracking polls in Ohio suggested a small turnout bump would make all the difference, and, this is what happened.
I also felt that in Ohio, where I live, Romney’s outrageous TV ad about Obama and Jeep, once thoroughly debunked, started to serve a new purpose, reminding viewers that Romney didn’t care about the facts. And, much worse, by not pulling the ad, it sent the message Romney believed voters in Ohio to be fools and suckers. It seems that Romney didn’t have any social psychologists on his team!
In the end which Romney lost, the arch right winger of the primaries or the pseudo-Reaganesque moderate of the general election? We will likely never know. Say what you will about the ongoing ideological battle in America, this election demonstrated what I call the problem of the GOP empty suit.
In a moment, time to roll up our sleeves.
My brother Crede came up to Cleveland, his family’s hometown, and helped spearhead the effort to video the vote. Things went smoothly!
Hat’s off to the local crew, especially Jane, Dell, Catherine, of Obama for America. I had the honor and pleasure of canvassing last weekend with Jim Lardie, a veteran organizer and salt-of-the-earth elder. Thanks!
I am especially grateful for Charles S. Pierce, the main political blogger for Esquire Magazine online. He’s a great, deeply witty, and earnest writer and patriot. He was my main source for keeping sane and balanced and amused. His summing and view going forward is, like all of his reporting, essential: The Greatness of Barack Obama Is Our Great Project.
I’ll have more to say later. I do note it was a “turnout” election that swept in, in very close races, several very fine new Senators. Plus more!
The gasping of old guys who yearn for the 1880/1980′s is audible, but I do not see radical post-Conservatism and Randian post-capitalism sustaining its grip–as the waves of demographic transformation alter the USA’s political geography.
I’m a lifelong Democrat, being the product of a liberal family, with a college vice president for a mother and an attorney for a father. At the same time, I’m a student of history and, going farther, of meta-history and of sociology and of political philosophy. I’ve read and thought my way through the Greeks and the moderns and still cannot wrap my head around the ways greed and selfishness and individualism is said to be virtuous.
Obviously, biologically, individualism is absolutely a non-starter. You can’t get anywhere from it alone.
At 58, I’m a fallibilist and skeptic and, I would label myself a Fabian Digger too. But I’m not ideological about any of this because I’m a (William) Jamesian, a relativist, and so I am antagonistic toward ideological reductions for the precise reason that reality itself is not ideological. My finding: in actuality, where reality is most coherent, it is the ‘least’ ideologically.
I could never vote Republican because, for me, their attachment is to ideology above reality, and so, not surprisingly, I find Republican policies to be in various ways and with certainty:
BONUS: GOP is not in favor of every legal voter voting
The data is on my side of course. I can make a slam dunk case for each of these features of the GOP. Yet, in the main, in the most basic material terms, the GOP is economically nowadays the party of socializing risk and privatizing profits. The GOP is post-Capitalist, or, alternately, has come to endorse a final degenerative and plutocratic stage of finance capitalism in which the paper and speculative and derivative economy overwhelms property-based capitalism.
As the data clearly shows, a dollar earned as wage or salary, as profit on a product sold, is much more safe when there is a Democrat in the Oval office.
Everybody gets to make up their own mind about what party and policies and ideologies are best for America. After four years of watching the GOP wage a war against President Obama, and, grievous wars against the working class, women, children, minorities, veterans, and, business, I remain amazed that Romney can gain more than a few thousand votes. Okay, not so amazing; we’re still grappling with the aftermath of the civil war.
Newleftmedia once again demonstrates that if you shoot enough video interviews at Romney (or Tea Party) events the most select slices of STUPID are gloriously deranged.
My favorite spot of dumb in the video is the guy, once again, passionately wishing for the U.S. not to be, anymore, the laughingstock of the world.
It is possible to empathize if you can simulate the guy’s sense that the world is laughing about something ‘the world’ surely doesn’t find anywhere near as funny as that which actually is laughable.
What’s funny are America’s proudly stupid people, their hypocritical religiosity, their ignorance, their pride in their ignorance, and. . .one could go on and on. As a marker of cognitive ability what does it mean to think Obama is a Muslim, atheist, communist?
Sure go vote for the manic plutocrat, mendacious Reagan wannabee, and, strangely enough, perfect symbol of greed and one percent Toryism, Willard Romney.
The sad answer is there is no way to know what Mr. Romney really believes. His unguarded expression of contempt for 47 percent of the population seems as sincere as anything else we’ve heard, but that’s only conjecture. At times he has advocated a muscular, John McCain-style foreign policy, but in the final presidential debate he positioned himself as a dove. Before he passionately supported a fetus’s right to life, he supported a woman’s right to abortion. His swings have been dramatic on gay rights, gun rights, health care, climate change and immigration. His ugly embrace of “self-deportation” during the Republican primary campaign, and his demolition of a primary opponent, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, for having left open a door of opportunity for illegal-immigrant children, bespeaks a willingness to say just about anything to win. Every politician changes his mind sometimes; you’d worry if not. But rarely has a politician gotten so far with only one evident immutable belief: his conviction in his own fitness for higher office. (excerpted from WAPO’s endorsement of Barack Obama)
Stop Racists from screwing voters out of their vote in Cuyahoga County is the mission. My brother Crede is in town to video the vote for ‘Video the Vote.’
Here’s the first clip from yesterday.
On election day it is anticipated the racist polling places observers trained by the racist True the Vote, funded by dark money and the racist Koch brothers, will make an intense effort to stomp out as much of the African-American vote in Cleveland as they can within the boundaries of the law, or, possibly not within those boundaries. Well, this is the rumor; we do not know yet about such efforts here.
Then again, remember the GOP has been furiously working at state levels to make voting harder. “Voting should be hard not easy” is one of the principles the modern GOP has on offer as a refinement of Goldwater/Nixon’s infamous ‘southern strategy.’
In the ten-year stretch between the years 2000 and 2010:
~ There were 649 million votes cast in general elections
~ There were 47,000 UFO sightings
~ 441 Americans were killed by lightning
~ And there were 13 credible cases of in-person voter impersonation
Catherine Engelbrecht, the racist leader of True the Vote, understands 13 divided by 649 million, is a scary number. Her response is to concentrate her organization’s voter suppression efforts in minority voting locations, for example, in Cuyahoga County where there has been ZERO credible cases of in-person voter impersonation. However, so far, there is no evidence of True the Vote efforts.
<iframe width=”640″ height=”360″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/Di8EXEUgLJY?rel=0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>
For those voters who do go to the polls, they may face further intimidation from poll watchers trained by the Tea Party-affiliated True the Vote, which claims their activities are designed to make voters at polling stations feel like they are “driving with the police following you.” True the Vote is adamant that voter fraud exists (despite little evidence) and trains volunteers to patrol for voter fraud in low-income neighborhoods of color, which has prompted accusations of voter intimidation. For months the group has been scouring voter registration databases to compile a list of voters to challenge at the polls.
The group also intervened in Wisconsin’s 2012 gubernatorial recall election, where they unsuccessfully tried to discredit the recall petition drive by creating a sloppy alternate database and making inaccurate assertions about the “integrity” of the petition-gathering effort. During the recall election itself, the group trained a handful of poll watchers in their “voter integrity” techniques — and perhaps not surprisingly, the League of Women Voters fielded hundreds of complaints of voter intimidation or interference, many from college students interrogated about their residency by True the Vote poll observers. After the recall election, Wisconsin’s elections board released a statement expressing concern about the “disturbing reports and complaints about unacceptable, illegal behavior by [poll] observers.” True the Vote took it personally.
Even if True the Vote is overstating its influence and fails to meet its one million poll watcher goal for November, just a few aggressive poll watchers can scare off other voters and lead to long lines. Perhapsbecause of the risk that overzealous poll watchers could make it harder to vote on election day, the Obama campaign is encouraging supporters to vote early – which is why the Ohio decision protecting early voting the weekend before the election could be crucial for Democrats.
In previous reports, IREHR has documented the existence of Tea Party national leaders opposed to voting rights for people without property, and Tea Party leaders who advocate the repeal of the Fourteenth Amendment, and equal rights before the law promised by it. IREHR has pointed out some of the most prominent white nationalists in the Tea Party ranks, and those Tea Partiers who simply act like racists and bigots. In this report, the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights details voter suppression efforts in North Carolina.
Pre-eminent among the Tea Party “poll watchers” is King Street Patriots and KSP True the Vote. King Street Patriots began as a chapter of Tea Party Patriots in Houston, Texas. Both are led by Catherine Engelbrecht, who has made herself and True the Vote ubiquitous in Tea Party circles.
Although Engelbrecht claims that the two organizations are separate and distinct, IRS Form 990s for the year 2010 show that both organizations share the same small three-person board of directors, and both operated out of the same post office box number. King Street Patriots filed as a non-profit membership corporation, 501c4 on December 30, 2009. Six months later, in June 2010, KSP-True the Vote filed as a non-profit educational charity. Both types of organizations need not reveal their donors.
In 2010, Texans for Public Justice filed a complaint with the Texas ethics commission that read, in part, “KSP/True the Vote violated the state’s prohibition on corporate contributions to political parties and candidates.” And the complaint cited multiple instances where Engelbrecht’s organizations worked directly with Republican Party candidates, and recruited “poll watchers” for them out of Tea Party ranks. KSP responded in typical Tea Party form, claiming they were being bullied by a “George Soros funded organization.”
On Aug 26, 2011, Engelbrecht changed KSP-True the Vote’s corporate name to “True the Vote Inc.”
A second case, filed as a lawsuit by the Texas Democratic Party, claimed essentially the same thing. And a Travis County district judge ruled in March 2012 that King Street Patriots was not a non-profit organization but a political action committee that must operate by PAC rules and reveal its donors. Engelbrecht said she would appeal the judge’s decision, and the Liberty Institute is King Street Patriots’ legal representation. The appeal is still pending.
Despite its legal troubles, Engelbrecht’s organizations have grown and prospered. In Ohio, True the Vote joined Judicial Watch in filing suit against election officials. In Arizona, Engelbrecht gave one of the biggest speeches at a Tea Party Patriots convention. In Colorado she did something similar at a Heritage Foundation sponsored event. And she has done the same at dozens of other venues.
In 2011, True the Vote seized the national limelight inside the Tea Party movement with its first national summit, held in the hometown of Houston. The conference attracted delegates from 27 states and laid the foundation for state-level election year efforts.At this conference, True the Vote (TTV) staff rolled out their plan to block the vote. The slickly-packaged campaign pinpoints vulnerable spots in the voting process, and instructs activists in tactics on how to overload elections officials, slow the vote, and block participation.
In an orientation video, TTV founder Catherine Engelbrecht innocently explained the organization’s focus as “work at the polls,” “researching the registry,” and helping “fix what needs fixing.”
Researching the registry means that True the Vote has purchased voter rolls from states and counties, then circulated the lists to their gaggle of unsupervised volunteers, who are urged to challenge the registrations of voters that think may be improperly registered. The True the Vote “work at the polls” entails training volunteers to be “poll watchers” – people to go to the polls on election day and aggressively challenge the registration, the identity, or the eligibility of prospective voters.
To “fix what needs fixing” True the Vote has also pushed legislative efforts to further restrict access to voting, including stringent new voter identification laws.
In practice, the TTV strategy has deterred people from registering to vote, created an atmosphere that frightens voters from showing up at the polls, overloaded election officials with baseless challenges, and slowed the vote by gumming up the process.
Out of the 2011 True the Vote Summit, the strategy to create state level groups helped spawn groups in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia, and North Carolina. Englebrect encouraged the groups to adopt independent sounding names to disguise their relationship and free themselves from the True the Vote “baggage.”
At the 2012 True the Vote Summit, regional coordinator Vickie Pullen told the crowd that her organization had already added the voter rolls of nineteen states to its database: Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin. She added that California, Oregon, Washington state, and Colorado would soon follow. At that point in May 2012, she also noted that the group had already done over 120 training sessions for various groups.
At the same event, Catherine Engelbrecht, explained some of her point of view: it is all about “us,” the white redeemers of the election process, she said: “I believe we can see a restoration, not only of our elections and our process, but I think it will be the beginning of a wave of restoration. Because once we assign priority to the polls, once we elect representatives who have come to us by the way of legal, lawful elections, then those representatives go on to carry that credo of truth. And very soon you see a process that is no longer unrecognizable. It’s one that truly reflects us, because it is of us. Because we started the ball rolling to begin with. Because we said it was important enough to show up.” 
As a result of True the Vote’s activities, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D. MD), the ranking Democrat of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has launched an investigation of Catherine Engelbrecht and her organization. Rep. Cummings’ October 4, 2012 letter to Engelbrecht cited True the Vote’s record of “challenging the registration of thousands of legitimate voters based on insufficient, inaccurate, and faulty evidence.” He requested copies of its correspondence, copies of its training materials used for volunteers and affiliates, copies of its computer programs, all contracts and memoranda of understanding, and much more.
A number of news reports about Rep. Cummings’ letter claimed the voter suppression group was under investigation for a possible “criminal conspiracy.” It should be noted that if there is, in fact, an investigation of criminal conspiracy, Ms. Engelbrecht and others are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. Engelbrecht agreed to meet with Rep. Cummings, but refused to hand over any of the materials, in a letter full of the usual Tea Party protestations.
True the Vote and Voter Integrity Project in North Carolina
In North Carolina, True the Vote has inspired two different statewide groups engaging in voter suppression activities: North Carolina True the Vote and the Voter Integrity Project.
The Voter Integrity Project was started by Jay DeLancy, a retired Air Force officer from North Carolina. DeLancy was one of those new voter suppression activists who attended the 2011 True the Vote Summit in Houston. On his blog, DeLancy explained his views: “Motivated by groups like the King Street Patriots (of Houston, TX) and their ‘True The Vote’ campaign, I want to make sure North Carolina’s elected leaders understand that people are waking up to the danger our nation faces when good people do nothing and bad people steal elections by stuffing the ballot box or by abusing the ‘motor voter’ laws to register fictitious voters,” he wrote.
To Delaney, voter suppression efforts are essential: “I’ve reached the conclusion that some really bad people have used voter fraud to disenfranchise the rational voters (also called ‘the producers’) in our nation,” he wrote.
At first, DeLancy directly copied the Texas version of TTV directly, and created True the Vote North Carolina. But he broke from the national group, in part because True the Vote raised concerns about the Voter Integrity Project’s nativist leanings. “They’re not wanting to be branded some kind of anti-immigrant activist group,” DeLancy told the New York Times.
DeLancy started a Voter Integrity Project NC (VIP) and several months later, on May 30, 2012 Deirdre Morrison incorporated it and is the registered agent. Morrison, an accountant from Youngsville and a Tea Party activist, is a member of both the Patriot Action Network and Tea Party Nation national factions, and locally Triangle Conservatives Unite. Despite claims of Voter Integrity Project non-partisanship, Morrison is also an elected GOP precinct captain in west Youngsville. Although the Voter Integrity Project is registered as a for-profit corporation, it actually solicits donations.
The split between the Voter Integrity Project and True the Vote is a distinction without much of a difference. For example, Voter Integrity Project NC Research Director John Pizzo was still also listed as a True the Vote research team leader as of September 30.
Outside of DeLancy, Morrison, Pizzo and a mailbox at a UPS Store in a Raleigh strip mail, the Voter Integrity Project doesn’t have much organizational infrastructure. Nevertheless, it has had an outsized role in working against voting rights.
In June 2012, the Voter Integrity Project challenged—unsuccessfully—the registrations of more than 500 Wake County voters, most of whom were voters of color, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. In response, DeLancy called the Brennan Center “Race-baiting Leftist(s).”
On August 31, the Voter Integrity Project presented to the elections board a list of 30,000 individuals listed as current North Carolina voters. VIP claimed these persons were actually deceased, but still registered to vote. The organization argued that that these names could be used to fraudulently vote in the dead voter’s place. Of the 30,000 names it presented, only 4,946 names actually approximated those on the actual voter rolls in a manner close enough to warrant further investigation. It should be noted that as of this writing, North Carolina elections officials have not found a single instance of anyone on the group’s challenge list who voted fraudulently. These challenges, however, have overwhelmed the staff and resources of the Board of Elections.
North Carolina True the Vote
True the Vote’s new North Carolina state director is Donna Yowell. For the last three years, Yowell, of Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina, has been a Tea Party stalwart out to defeat the president. She joined the Tea Party almost right away in 2009, becoming a member of groups like the Haywood County, NC 9-12 Project and Triangle Conservatives Unite. She also became a member of four different national Tea Party factions: FreedomWorks, the Patriot Action Network, Tea Party Nation, and Tea Party Patriots.
After the 2010 midterm elections, she formed the Tea Party spin-off group, Feet to the Fire. Through this group she bashed on teachers unions in Wisconsin, supported nativist legislation, promoted the anti-environmental conspiracy theory around “Agenda 21,” and tried to “to insure a conservative platform for NCGOP.” The Heritage Foundation’s political arm, Heritage Action, awarded her group with “Activist of the Month” status in 2011.
For Yowell, the fight is personal and it’s partisan. “It is time to wake up. Get out and work for your conservative views. Voting is NOT enough. BE a block captain in your precinct.- NOVEMBER IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER. WE HAVE TO TAKE BACK CONGRESS or SOCIALISM WILL BE IN FULL FORCE.” [caps in original]
Yowell, who holds an official position in the Wake County Republican Party as House District 37 Vice Chair, has made it clear it’s all about getting rid of President Obama. “Why are we allowing this person [President Obama] to destroy this wonderful country with his selfishness and his lies? His type of change is killing our country. He needs to be stopped and only our votes can stop him. Do not forget about his tactics when it’s election time. Vote Obama out of the Presidency in 2012. ’2012: THE END OF AN ERROR,’” she wrote.
Already active in far-right circles and familiar with voter suppression efforts, Yowell stepped in to become the True the Vote state director after DeLancy spun off and created the Voter Integrity Project NC.
It may not be that million person army that Engelbrecht once envisioned, but Yowell and True the Vote have built up a small battalion of volunteers in North Carolina. As of September 30, True the Vote had 286 volunteers in sixty different North Carolina counties. The largest concentrations of voter suppression volunteers are in Wake (71), Guilford (22), Mecklenburg (19), Forsyth (17), Durham (15), and Henderson (11) counties.
In North Carolina, knowledge of and opposition to those who would narrow voting rights is of great importance; in part because of the history of voter suppression and oppression in North Carolina. Recent events in North Carolina also provide a context for this current contest, and throw the battle lines on this issue into sharp relief.
In 2006, the North Carolina NAACP led the creation of a broad coalition aimed at seeking necessary reforms from the state government. Known as “Historic Thousands on Jones Street,” or HKonJ, the coalition has grown to include 125 different NAACP units in the state plus 140 other social justice organizations. Its first annual mobilization in February 2009 attracted approximately 3,500 marchers, and its demonstration in 2012 drew over 15,000 individuals. Most significantly for this report, HKonJ has changed the shape of North Carolina’s political and social life.
Among HKonJ’s many achievements, it won a dollar an hour increase in the state’s minimum wage that the Governor signed in 2007. In 2010 it won passage of the Racial Justice Act, which gave death row inmates an avenue to challenge their sentence if race was a significant factor in the sentencing. Although there were a couple of legislative attempts to repeal and revise this statute, the Governor vetoed them. HKonJ also successfully pushed the legislature to pass a same-day registration for early voting measure in 2007.
As a result, in the 2008 election, North Carolina recorded the highest percentage increase of voter turnout of any state in the country, with a 9.4% increase.
In response, the Republican-controlled North Carolina legislature made several attempts to restrict the vote. In 2009, HB 430 “Voter Identification” was introduced, but never gained traction. Following GOP gains in 2010, a strict new bill requiring photo identification to vote was introduced in March 2011 as HB 351, the deceptively named “Restore Confidence in Government” Act.
The nonpartisan voter advocacy group Democracy North Carolina noted that the bill could affect more than 450,000 North Carolina residents. State officials also added that more than 550,000 residents have no identification at all, and many don’t have the money or time to get to a Department of Motor Vehicles branch and obtain one.
Nevertheless, the bill was ratified by the legislature on June 16, 2011. Gov. Bev Perdue, with the support of HKonJ, vetoed the bill on June 23, 2011. “This bill, as written, will unnecessarily and unfairly disenfranchise many eligible and legitimate voters,” Perdue wrote in her veto announcement. In her statement, she also noted, “There was a time in North Carolina history when the right to vote was enjoyed only by some citizens rather than by all. That time is past, and we should not revisit it.”
On July 26, 2011, the House attempted to override the Governor veto, but failed to reach the three-fifths majority necessary. In a party line vote, 68 Republicans voted to override the veto, while 51 Democrats voted against the measure. Yet again, in 2012, the bill rose from the dead and it was re-introduced in May, and a move was made to get a modified version passed.
Then in June, at the height of final attempt to craft a bill that might override Gov. Perdue’s veto, North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis took time to conference with several of the leading voices in support of the voter ID law.
Among those in attendance:
William Gheen of the nativist group ALIPAC. Gheen has suggested that “illegal and violent” “extra political activities” might be the only way to save “white America” from “Dictator Barack Obama.”
David DeGerolamo of the Tea Party group NC Freedom. In a 2010 interview DeGerolamo told another Tea Party leader, “I want the 14th Amendment repealed.”
Donna Yowell of Feet to the Fire (who would go on to be the state coordinator for the True the Vote voter suppression efforts).
Ron Woodward of the anti-immigrant group, NC Listen.
James and Maurine Johnson of the grassroots nativist outfit NC FIRE.
Despite this push by Tea Party and nativist groups, enough votes to override a veto threat couldn’t be wrangled before the end of the session. HKonJ played a significant role in these events, providing the political energy to protect voting rights.
Nevertheless, these issues remain hotly contested. North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis told the state’s delegation to the Republican National Convention in Tampa that if things go well for Republicans this fall, a voter ID bill likely will become law next year. The Republican candidate for governor, Pat McCrory has also added that if elected, he would sign a similar bill.
Originally posted August 17, 2012.
The racist Ohio Secretary of State Husted at the eleventh hour issues rules for provisional ballots that will potentially rob Ohio citizens of their votes. As has become the habit of Romney operatives, Romney’s campaign spokesmen, and, apologists and explainers and gobshitters associated with te GOP’s efforts to, especially, suppress African-American votes, the goal of Husted could be re-stated:
The GOP is despicable, not generally, but specifically in their tenacious effort to make voting very hard for voters who support their opponents. Over the past few months I have heard the quasi “meta-physical” rationales: that one fraudulent vote is worse than 10 suppressed legitimate votes; that voting should be harder as a test of commitment; that politics is a grown-up and nasty game. Etc..
The last rationale, and its brethren, obviously speak to the implicit nihilism hidden not to far under the surface of a modern GOP not at all separate from the southern strategy of Goldwater and Nixon, not substantially distant from the John Birch Society, not bothered much by the extravagant and stark contradiction of mashing of Jesus and John Gault.
On election day, GOP operative polling place observers have been lightly trained, and next will be let loose Tuesday in African-American polling places throughout Cuyahoga County to accomplish one single goal: slow down voting so that voters are forced to wait with the objective being that the voters eventually abandon the long lines and so decline to vote.
Reprehensible. Not surprisingly in the least, neither Romney or Ryan have issued a single word against these efforts. Meanwhile, here in Cleveland, it turns out the Einhorn family in Milwaukee was responsible for billboard warnings placed in African-American neighborhoods in own city, Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. Once outed, the Einhorn spokesperson offered a rationale that was spectacular in its dishonesty: the billboards were put up as “a public service.” If you can’t figure out why this is completely dishonest, I feel very sorry for you.
(Nancy Einhorn is on the Board of The Milwaukee Ballet. My guess is not for very much longer unless it turns out being a racist is an importnat qualification.)
Billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch have been dominant financiers for conservative front groups and nonprofits for nearly three decades. Their money has flowed to organizations dedicated to lobbying for corporate and upper income tax cuts, as well as to groups responsible for mobilizing Tea Party rallies against President Obama. But the Koch family’s association with fringe right-wing groups began a generation earlier with Fred Koch, the patriarch of the clan.
Fred not only founded the company now known as Koch Industries, he also was afounding member of the John Birch Society. As a founding board member, Fred helped engineer a hysterical wave of attacks on labor, intellectuals, public education, liberal clergy members, and other pillars of society he viewed as a threat. Birchers decriedeveryone from former President Eisenhower to water utility administrators as pawns in a global communist conspiracy. In the last two years, as the Koch name has becomesynonymous with right-wing plutocracy in the United States, the Koch family has played down its relation to the Birchers.
However, the New American, the official mouthpiece of the John Birch Society, published a piece this morning celebrating Fred and the Koch family’s pivotal role in developing the group:
Koch warned that American institutions were honeycombed with communist subversives, from labor unions and tax-free foundations to universities and churches. Art and newsprint, radio and television — all these media had been transmuted into vehicles of communist propaganda. [...] Fred Koch was no fly-by-night pamphleteer. He spent a generous portion of his later years using his wealth and influence to fight the communism he abhorred. He was an early member of the The John Birch Society’s National Council, an advisory group to JBS founder Robert Welch. Koch supported a variety of freedom-related causes, all the while continuing to build the company today known as Koch Industries.
The Bircher ode to Koch glosses over Fred’s record of bigotry. In a booklet he authored, Fred railed against civil rights leaders, and claimed the movement against racial segregation was a communist plot to use African Americans to destabilize the country. The Koch-funded Birchers held numerous rallies during the ’60s claiming integration would lead to a “mongrelization” of the races. (Thinkprogress)
(August 17, 2012)
The most remarkable aspect, to me, of the GOP’s ongoing efforts to subvert democracy by targeting the African-American vote are the wide variety of rationalizations employed by advocates of voter suppression. Each and every such rationalization ends up rooted to an unpatriotic hope: that a legitimate voter’s vote of a specific kind not ever be registered.
The Pennsylvania legislator Mike Turzai expressed this hope in certain terms and a thousand headlines were the result June 25th.
Yet, just this week on NPR he was asked about voter ID and he said something to the effect of:
“It’s not worth one illegitimate vote to drop efforts to protect the vote.”
The useless NPR questioner did not press the question begged by his ridiculous, self-righteous answer. Obviously, the GOP’s concern is about losing elections, and not about the integrity of the vote.
This connects up with racism in a straight-forward way. Husted and Priesse understand the African-American vote is to be suppressed because of their overwhelming propensity to vote for their own race.
Obviously, elderly white GOP voters get caught up in this pernicious effort to undermine our political system, so it is clearly the case that a calculation about reward versus risk underlies the increasingly widespread efforts to make it harder for legitimate voters to cast their ballots.
Meanwhile, the cause of vote suppression has engendered systematic arguments on behalf of election integrity. This presentation from Virginia Voters Alliance is typical. Note its Tea Party inflections at the same time you note that none of its inculpatory ‘facts’ are actually documented. This group’s presentation boldly proclaims George Soros is pulling the strings!
All the tidy rationales are usually easily discombobulated, with a little scratching, to reveal suppression proponent’s true racist intent. The easiest way to get at this is to ask proponents about what would happen if every last eligible voter were to vote. (Unlikely voters favor Obama by 2-1.) In this regard, the rough and tumble rationale “Politics is a mean business and the ends justify the means.” is at least honest.
Perhaps the most famous recent example of racially-based vote suppression in the United States took place during the presidential election of 2000. The State of Florida ordered implementation of a purge list to remove voters from the rolls. The purge disenfranchised thousands of eligible voters – primarily African Americans. These citizens were prevented from casting ballots through their largely erroneous – and humiliating – classification as convicted felons. Racially-Based Suppression of the African-American Vote: The Role It May Play in the Upcoming Presidential Election By Sherry Colb, Oct. 29, 2004
NAACP and Florida Voters Reach Agreement with ChoicePoint® in Voting Rights Lawsuit
ChoicePoint to Make Donation to NAACP and Reprocess Voter Exception List
WASHINGTON, D.C. / ALPHARETTA, Ga. – July 2, 2002 – Civil rights plaintiffs have reached an agreement with ChoicePoint (NYSE: CPS) over work performed by Database Technologies (DBT) for the State of Florida in the 2000 elections. The NAACP and Florida voters filed a federal lawsuit – NAACP v. Harris – challenging the conduct of state and local officials in the 2000 Florida elections, including DBT, because of the company’s work as a contractor hired by the state.
As part of the settlement, ChoicePoint will donate $75,000 to the NAACP, which will be used to fund past and future efforts to further the electoral opportunities of Florida’s minority voters. Under the agreement, the company also will re-process the 1999 and 2000 “exceptions lists” of Florida voters who may have been ineligible to vote because of possible felony criminal convictions or because of possibly being registered to vote in more than one county. The reprocessing will be conducted pursuant to terms proposed by the plaintiffs and subject to court approval.
DBT was under contract with the State of Florida from late 1998 through 2000 to create a list of registered voters who may have been deceased, registered in more than one county, or convicted felons under the Florida voting fraud statute. ChoicePoint acquired DBT in May, 2000, after the initial 2000 voter exception list was delivered to Florida officials for verification.
Comprehensive, academic, legal, social scientific, clearinghouse on election integrity: Brennan Center for Justice.
Michael Tomasky: How the GOP Plans to Block the Black Vote.
It’s a sick and sickening situation, and it delegitimizes everything else about the Republican Party. I can understand how someone believes in limited government or low taxes. I can understand how someone could oppose affirmative action. I cannot understand how any individual can be anything other than abjectly ashamed to be associated with a political party so thuggish as to try to rig elections like this and then at its conventions have the gall to invoke Abraham Lincoln and hire lots of black people to sing and dance and smile, to make up for their absence among the attendees. A black mark indeed.