Supreme Court Edging Towards Overturning Voting Rights Act

A case of every silver lining having a dark cloud seems to have emerged today in arguments given at the Supreme court.

Antonin_Scalia,_SCOTUS_photo_portrait

Justice Antonin Scalia

The silver lining is the fact that the same ominous tone came out from more liberal media sources last year when the court was going through arguments about the affordable health care act. And all that fretting was for naught, as Chief Justice Roberts decided to join the 4 liberal judges in upholding the constitutionality of the AHCA.   (For links this article is based on, Click here.)

But that silver lining seems to not be much of a lining, not this day anyway.  Yesterday’s silver lining seems to be non-existent in this case today. The voices that we have heard are speaking in the usual ways.  Justice Scalia disparaged section 5 of the 1965 voting rights act, calling it a perpetuation of racial entitlements.

Justice Sotomayor, in response to the claim by Shelby county that the act is itself unjust  and that they have changed said that there are still 240 discriminatory laws on the books in Shelby county, pointing to an obvious need to uphold the voting rights act.

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Justice Elena Kagan

Justice Elena Kagan stated that while the first generation issues may have been resolved, and that the original aim of ensuring African Americans voting has been met, there are other more insidious forms of discrimination in use, such as voter I.D. laws and gerrymandering.

But the two votes that could potentially swing either way are looking like they are leaning towards getting rid of section 5.  The swing vote of Justice Kennedy seems to be leaning towards de-legitimizing  the voting rights act according to what I have heard.  The same for Justice Roberts who makes the potential swing vote list only because of his support of the AHCA last year.

The questions that seem to be most persistent against the voting rights act involve fairness towards the states that section 5 holds sway over.  Both justices Scalia and Roberts were overt in their questioning of both political and social motivation in the congressional vote for the voting rights act back in 2006, and both seemed to be pointing in the general direction of doubt as to the actual need for a voting rights act.

And while the Solicitor General, Donald Verrilli did a very good job as far as I could tell arguing the governments case, I am not so sure that he could have done a good enough job to overcome the prejudices of the justices against the law itself to keep section 5 alive for much longer.  I’m not sure anyone could have, given the anti-section 5 fervor that seems to exist amongst the more conservative judges on the court, done a better job.

Stay tuned, more news here as it happens.

Basic Post 2012 Election Questions: Numbers

Pic of the day: The March to Valley Forge, by William B.T. Trego

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I believe that almost all politicians are honest. For every bribed alderman there are hundreds of politicians, low paid or not paid at all, doing their level best without thanks or glory to make our system work. If this were not true, we would never have gotten past the thirteen colonies.

Robert A. Heinlein, This I Believe (1952)

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I have questions.

I get that the Republicans are pissed off that they didn’t get the voter turnout that they wanted or were expecting.  Much of the talk from Republicans showing disappointment in losing to President Obama is about them getting 2 and a half million votes less in this election cycle than McCain got last time, 2008 was supposed to be a low ebb for the Republicans.  Admitted that it sucks for them, a dwindling base of voters can’t feel good.  But, despite that, the amount of votes the Republicans lost by actually shrank. Which means they aren’t the only ones who should be unhappy with the amount of voters who showed up at the polls.

Wait… What?

The incumbent Democratic President got something like 9 million fewer votes this time than in 2008.

Where did those votes go?

I am certain that there is definitely something to blaming tighter voter registration rules; and lessening of early voting I am certain had its effect. But it looks funny to me.  And not haha funny, but bizarre funny. Because those states are not the states where the votes seem to have simply gone away.

Florida got about as many votes this time as last time.  Ohio lost about 5% of their vote, but the vote wasn’t 100% counted either, so that number may yet rise to where it was 4 years ago.

I have been looking at the numbers closely and there were states where there were no changes in voter rules whatsoever, that still had a decidedly lower voter turnout this time around than in 2008.  For example, the numbers that I can see show me that California had almost 4,000,000 fewer voters and Washington state had nearly 800,000 fewer voters this time around than last time, and almost 1,500,000 fewer people in New York voted in 2012 than in 2008.

Now it isn’t like that everywhere, but it is kind of curious that states that were not battleground states but are states that are nevertheless powerful electorally lost votes, and millions of them.

I cannot tell 100% why this happened, but what I do know is that it looks to me that it isn’t anything to do with any kind of meddling with the election process.  It may well be voter ambivalence.

Why do you say that, Mike?

The states where this happened (and I should say where I looked as I have not done a state by state comparison of all 50 states {yet}) are all states that were pretty much known quantities without major polarizing races.

Where there was a non polarized electorate, there was a much lower turnout, and it affected both parties negatively in those states.  Because …  I’ll put it to you like this;  Had the Republicans gotten the votes they got in 2008 in these aforementioned states this time around, it would have put both Washington and California in play and made calling both of those states much more difficult.  New York, not so much, but in all 3 cases it would have given hope to Mitt Romney where he had none before.

And I am sure that there are Republican operatives out there who are running this data through their heads and preparing for the next battle in 2014 and 2016 with those numbers  and concepts in mind.

And what are they telling themselves about that data?

One can only guess.

But if I were them, I’d be thinking  we can win, but not by exciting the electorate, but by placating them, and lulling them to sleep.  By replacing passionate anger with reasoned responses.  By taking the wind out of the Democrats sails by taking away from them anything to fire up their base with.

They won’t do it of course.

Why not?

The anger in their discourse, the volatility in their hearts will not be extinguished by anything.  They are human, they feel pushed by events, and when they are pushed, like all people, they will resist and push back. I’ve seen stories online about how deep some of them have fallen for their own rhetoric.  They actually believed that the polls were wrong.  They believed that Romney would win and win big.  They believe they are the last bastion of liberty in the world, and that anyone who believes differently in an enemy of freedom.  How could they possibly back off of that precipice without admitting they were wrong, the one thing they seem unwilling or unable to do?

Watch and see if I’m right or wrong.

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A more detailed breakdown at a later date.

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

It Was A Fun Night

I watched the election coverage last night on a host of networks.  CNN.  MSNBC.  FOX.  CBS.  NBC.  ABC.  NY1. Each station had vastly different numbers coming out depending on what time you turned them on.  But it really didn’t matter what you were watching because the results were the same.

Barack Obama won re-election as President of the United States of America.

Initially after the call was made, earliest on MSNBC at 11:16 pm eastern time, it was much noted, first on twitter and then on the networks that He had won without a plurality.  It was later on in the night when the popular vote turned and the right lost their talking point, and the President took the lead in the popular vote as well.  At this point what was a nearly 1 million vote advantage for Mitt Romney at 11 pm last night is now an Obama 2.6 million vote lead.

There was some anger from the right, asking questions like  “How could Obama be our President if he didn’t get the majority of the popular vote?”  After Fox called the election when they said Ohio was won by President Obama, it was much commented on that Karl Rove was trying to get the network to back off of the call for Ohio and the Obama winning the White House, and commented on the popular vote lead for Romney at that particular moment.  They didn’t of course, and President Obama won enough electoral votes to win even if someone somehow took Ohio from him.

Talk on MSNBC in justifying their calling Ohio for President Obaba was that the counties that are normally “blue” had a great deal more voters in them than the “red” ones.  Cuyahoga county was mentioned most.  At the time of the call it was noted that the President had won the county by 80,000 or so votes but that there were 200,000 votes that were in all likelihood not yet counted.  The votes are now counted and the win in Cuyahoga was a whopping 236,000 vote margin.  The President only won 17 of the 88 counties in the state, but he won all the population centers.

You could say the same thing for the rest of the country, but only to a certain extent.  It is only a generalization, and I haven’t looked at all of the states, but from the looks at state results  all the states I have looked at, in a county by county basis that the smaller the population of the county, the larger the margin of Victory for Mitt Romney, and the larger the population, the more complete the victory for Barack Obama.

There were exceptions, of course.  There were small county wins for the President in Texas, and Georgia and a few other spots in the deep south, and there are places like Hamilton County in Indiana where three of the states 20 largest cities are, and Lexington County in South Carolina, a suburb of Columbia S.C., where Romney won handily.

It was a fun night for those who voted for Obama.  The lone real dark cloud for the general populace on the left is that the GOP will retain control of the House.

Other big wins?

Women:  Right wing “rape babies” candidates like Mourdock and Akin were swept aside by the populace. There are now more women in the Senate, thanks to upset victories by Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts, Heidi Heitkamp from North Dakota, and Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin along with the victories by all the incumbent democratic women who won their seats back for 6 more years.

Nate Silver:  He got every single prediction he made about this election correct, after getting 49 of 50 in 2008.  Nate is the man.

Twitter:  There was a huge flurry of activity there, and much of the news that was reported by the MSM was reported there first, usually by enough time where it was old news by the time it got broadcast on television.  It was also there that the President first made public notice of his victory, acknowledging the victory and thanking those who voted for him a good 2 hours before he gave his acceptance speech.

Stoners:  Dude, Pot is legal in Colorado and Washington state. Just remember that it is still a federal offense to have pot on you.  The DOJ is gonna have its hands full figuring this one out.  There’s gonna be a showdown between local and federal authorities on this, and it wouldn’t surprise me if this went to the SCOTUS.  Even when stoners win things are rough. You can smoke in those states, but don’t let the feds catch you, or that’s your ass.  Just saying.

Homosexuals: Gay marriage was passed in the states of Maine and Maryland, making them the seventh and eight states to pass same sex marriage. Minnesota defeated a measure that would have banned same sex marriage.  Apparently America is, or at least parts of it are, in the mood for big gay love.

It was a fun night.

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Vote

Pic of the day: Washington Crossing the Delaware, by Emanuel Leutze

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Since the general civilization of mankind, I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpations; but, on a candid examination of history, we shall find that turbulence, violence, and abuse of power, by the majority trampling on the rights of the minority, have produced factions and commotions, which, in republics, have, more frequently than any other cause, produced despotism. If we go over the whole history of ancient and modern republics, we shall find their destruction to have generally resulted from those causes.

James Madison, from a speech at the Virginia convention to Ratify the Constitution, 1788

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I am a man of many and strong opinions.  I am sure that your opinions are as strong as mine, and may differ wildly from mine.  There are many reasons to either love or despise both the individual candidates, be they from the house of representatives, the Senate, President, or more local representatives and the parties they serve.  There are many good people who think right now that they are the best choice to help lead the way for the state, the nation, or their city.  They can’t all be right, can they?

If you are a partisan you will just run your finger down one side of a ballot and vote for the people, and that is fine. It is also fine if you do not.   The best thing we can do is vote, not because it will help bring about the will of the people and will do everyone good, though that may well happen.  No, the best thing that can happen tomorrow is that the process forces you to think, and think not just of yourself, but of the effect that you have on the world around you, both locally, nationally, and globally.

I will be voting for tomorrow.  I hope regardless of your viewpoints you do as well.

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I will be voting for Barack Obama for President,  Kirsten Gillibrand for Senate ( Note: I worked at DPW 20 years ago with her when she was still Kirsten Rutnik, an attorney and I was Mike, the copy guy{pre-rhino days}), Mark Murphy for House of Representatives, and Michael Cusick for State assembly.

I expect that I will write myself in as a candidate in at least one seat, at least one important post.  I have in past voted for myself for a judgeship of some type, once for state senate, and once for house of representatives.

Think. Vote.  Matter.

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That’s it from here, America,  G’night.

Stormy Weather

Pic of the day:  Travelers Surprised by a Sudden Rain, by Hiroshige Utagawa

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As far as I could ken thy chalky cliffs,
When from thy shore the tempest beat us back,
I stood upon the hatches in the storm.

William Shakespeare,  Henry VI Part ii,  act iii, scene ii

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Thar be a storm a’coming.  The press is hyping the bejesus out of it, but what it looks like is this.  From Sunday night to Tuesday morning the area I live in will get about 10 inches of rain, with the bulk of it falling on Monday.  The winds during the height of the storm will be somewhere in the 70 to 80 MPH range and that will happen Monday afternoon and evening.

It’ll shake the house, no doubt about it.

My wife is concerned about the tree in the back of the house falling on the apartment.  I at this point am not.  The tree if it falls even close to the direction in which it is leaning now will fall on the street.

Of course if it does it’ll take out the wires to the house and we’ll be dark.  But I’m not all that worried about that either, as only a few weeks ago we had no power and we have everything that we need to make it for several days without power.  Batteries, food, candles.  Ya know, the important stuff.  All the stuff that is electronic is fully charged and will be plugged and charging continuously.

The absolute worst case scenario is the tree damaging the house and leaving a gaping hole in the kitchen during the height of the storm.  And I am going to keep garbage bags and tape near the entrance to the kitchen so I can cover the entrance quick should anything happen.

I’m not worried, but at the same time, I am prepared.

For those of you looking to keep an eye out for storm news, go to:  http://www.noaa.gov/stormcentral

If you are interested in power outages in New York City go to: apps.coned.com/stormcenter_external/default.html

It’s not the end of the world or anything, it’s just weather, but it’s nasty weather.

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All this crappy weather will give me extra time to get to writing.  I am going to get a lot of writing done between now and Wednesday, when things are supposed to start clearing up.  I already have 12 chapters outlined for my Nanowrimo novel, and it looks like I’ll get the remainder of the outlining done during this storm.

Love it.

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I wonder what effect if any the storm will have on voting.  Some reports out are already saying that power in some places could be out up to 10 days, saw it on the crawl on local TV during Mike Bloomberg’s presser talking about storm prep.  Ten days would put voting in jeopardy in those places where power is still out, as the election is 8 days away from Monday.  Hope the people who put that out are wrong.

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Purging Florida

Pic of the day: The Benzaiten Shrine at Inokashira in Snow

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Idque apud imperitos humanitas vocabatur, cum pars servitutis esset. Translation: Because they didn’t know better, they called it ‘civilization,’ when it was part of their slavery.

Tacitus, Agricola

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Florida. Nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live there. Especially if you vote. They are trying to purge the voter roles, if looked at from one side of the political argument. The other side of the argument states that it is only .02% of the total voting population that is affected, so it therefore should not be a big deal.

Let me make a point here. Florida has over 11 million registered voters. .02% of the voting populace is over two hundred and twenty five thousand people. That is equivalent to the entire population to St. Lucie county, Florida. There are 46 counties in Florida with smaller populations than St. Lucie county.

States have the right to make sure that their voter roles are kept to only those who are eligible voters. There are laws however that are at the heart of the real issue with this happening here. The National voter registration act of 1993 , aka “Motor voter” has within it a clause that states any attempts to remove ineligible voters must be complete 90 days prior to either primary or general elections. There are primary elections going on in Florida on August 14th.

Meaning that any attempt by the state of Florida to remove ineligible voters from the voter rolls has to be complete, according to federal law, by May 14th. The attempt by the state of Florida to “purge” their voter rolls is illegal. Not because it is wrong to do this, but because federal law states that the date this action needed to be complete by has already passed.

I almost feel for the crazy people who are afraid of illegals with drivers licenses stealing their elections. There may well be a few people who do try to cheat the system. But I tell you this. The problem of voter fraud is a small one in America. There have been 49 cases of voter fraud in Florida over the last 4 years. 49. In a state of with over 11 million voters. Over four years.

Even if there were a hundred people involved in each case (and I know of one case where 9 people were involved, and odds are that a great many others involve individuals) it would only amount to roughly .02% of the .02% of the registered voters in Florida that would be purged. If I am not supposed to care because there are only two tenths of one percent of the populace involved in the voter purge, why then am I expected to care about the two thousandths of one percent of people who may actually be fraudulent?

And what is the nature of that fraudulent vote? A difference in birthdays between birth certificate and driver’s license? That is the case with one 91 year old veteran who may be stripped of his right to vote because of just that happenstance.

While democratic partisans are using this as another chance to get a dig in on the Republicans(which I have no problem with), the reason this is an issue is that the state of Florida is blatantly breaking the law by doing this.

And something is being done. The feds are telling the state of Florida in no uncertain terms that they must stop.

Burn this one into your memory banks folks, I’ve never said this before, and don’t expect to say it often in future.

GO FEDS!

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That’s it from here, America. G’night.

Ten Reasons

Pic of the day:  Hagar and Ishmail in the Desert, by Andrea Sacchi

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We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

Barack Obama

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10 reasons to vote for Barack Obama for President in November:

10 )  President Obama ended the war in Iraq, just like he said he would.  He ramped up the war in Afghanistan, just like he said he would.  The man tells you what he is going to do and then he does it.  So very un-republican.

9 )   Transparency.  This government gives you the capacity to look at legislation that the President is about to sign, to read and comment on.  You can get your hands on legislation at any level, read anything at any level of the legislative process.

8 )  The President despite what people think, has overseen the slowest growth in government spending since before the Reagan Administration. Bet you didn’t know that.

7 )  He signed the repeal of “Don’t ask, Don’t tell.”

6 )  He has stated that he is for gay marriage.   Can I get a HELLYEAH!! for being open minded and clear thinking?

5 )  This may surprise you, but the unemployment rate is at this point is lower than it was prior to when the President took office in January 2009.  Let the Neo-con/Tea Party/Republicans say what they will about his record as far as employment goes.  Despite a complete lack of help from the right, the President has still managed to bring unemployment down to rates lower than when he first took office during the great recession.

4 ) Credit card reform. Unfair rate increases are against the law.  Late fee traps are no more.  Credit card contracts are by law public now, so you can read that contract at your leisure before you decide to sign.  All good things.  If you don’t like that, you aren’t American.

3 ) He passed the affordable healthcare act, costing us all less money in the long run and making insurance companies more accountable.  Don’t let people call it Obamacare.  It helps a lot more than just President Obama.  It helps all Americans, even the ones who don’t like it.

2 ) It was he who gave the order to kill Osama Bin Laden, doing what Bush could not do for nearly 8 years.

1 )  Mitt Romney and the Republicans would try their damnedest to undo all the good that this administration has done, and all the wrongs that he has undone that the Republicans who were in power a scant few years ago brought down on our heads in the 2000’s.

AKA  —>He isn’t Mitt Romney!

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.