Saturday, January 22, 2011

Make Voting As Hard As Possible

Newly-minted red state Wisconsin wants to claim the title of "nation's toughest voter-ID law" from Indiana.

Under the proposed Wisconsin bill, voters must present a valid (presumably current) Wisconsin driver's license, military ID, or "identification certificate" issued by the Department of Transportation -- not just any government-issued ID; other forms of government-issued photo identification, including student IDs from public universities, would not be accepted. In practice, anyone who does not currently have an in-state driver's license with their current address will have to go through the arduous process of obtaining an ID at the DMV, which entails providing one's Social Security number as well as proof of name and date of birth (presumably with a birth certificate) and citizenship (with a birth certificate, passport, or naturalization papers). Note also that voters would have to rely on the under-resourced Departments of Motor Vehicles, which has extremely limited hours.

Some basic numbers: Eighty percent of men and 81 percent of women in Wisconsin have a valid ID, but:
  • 23 percent of people over 65 do not have a valid ID
  • only 45 percent of African American men and 51 percent of African American women have valid ID;
  • 54 percent of Hispanic men and 41 percent of Hispanic women have a valid driver's license; and
  • 47 percent of Milwaukee County's African American adults and 43 percent of the county's Hispanic adults have a valid driver's license.
So the target of this measure becomes clear: young people, including students, African Americans, the poor, and the elderly -- coincidentally, groups that have traditionally voted for Democrats.
Surprise!   Meet the modern poll tax.  If you're a civilian in Wisconsin, it's at least $28 to vote plus proof of legal citizenship if this law passes.  The Bush Justice Department must have found hundreds of voter fraud cases involving faked IDs to warrant this rule, yes?

an intensive five-year investigation by the Department of Justice under George W. Bush famously netted only 86 voter-fraud convictions. Most of these were for offenses like vote-buying schemes or ineligible voters registering to vote—not for voter fraud that could have been prevented by a voter-ID law.

I see.  So what's Indiana's reasoning behind the current toughest voter ID law in the land?

Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita has conceded the state has never presented a case of “voter impersonation,” which the law was designed to safeguard against.

Say what?

But a photo ID requirement would boost public confidence in state elections, he said.

Yeah...confidence that poor minorities will be disenfranchised at the polls.  I hope Wisconsin's ready to pay for every state citizen to get an ID card or license, because otherwise there's a very strong argument to be made that this is a poll tax, plain and simple, in violation of the 24th Amendment and Harper v. Virgina Board of Elections.

Seems simple to me, you must have purchased a state license or ID card before you can vote as a civilian.  There's no other reason for this law other than to act as a poll tax.


[UPDATE]  Turns out the legislation does have a provision where some are eligible to waive the ID card fee if they specifically ask for it to be waived.  Nice.  Still, nobody seems to be able to point to why this law is necessary.

(h/t Balloon Juice)

Only In L.A.

A fatal hit-and-run in Hawthorne left one man dead, a good Samaritan injured by another car when she attempted to help, and the motorist who stopped to check on her after allegedly striking her beaten and robbed by a mob of bystanders.

A man was hit, then run over and killed.  A woman who checked on him was hit by another car.  While I'm completely horrified that nobody stopped to help until the first victim was dead, it's a bit more understandable when the people who did stop were attacked and robbed.

This isn't the worst thing I've heard all year, but sheesh.

Iowa Wonder What They Are Thinking?

House Republicans will introduce legislation this week to begin the process to amend the Iowa Constitution to ban not only same-sex marriage but also civil unions and domestic partnerships.
However, businesses will be able to offer benefits to domestic partners as they see fit.   "I think the biggest issue is that if that (a same-sex marriage ban) is carried forward, and then Iowa does civil unions and recognizes that as a substitute status, then, from what I've seen in other states, people would come to consider same-sex civil unions as equal to marriage," Alons said.

No Democrats have supported this, yet  56 of 60 House Republicans show support.  The four who declined are Steve Lukan, Peter Cownie, Scott Raecker and David Tjepkes of Gowrie.

The Rev. Keith Ratliff Sr. of Des Moines, president of the NAACP State Conference for Iowa and Nebraska, has helped lead protests against same-sex marriage. He said Wednesday he agrees with the attempt to also keep domestic partnership or civil unions from gaining legal status.  Ratliff said he believes same-sex marriage further erodes the family, similar to the way that two-income families have eroded traditional nuclear families.

What about how the other people believe?  Traditional nuclear families haven't existed in two generations.  Whose traditions is he protecting?  Clearly not those of the citizens who live differently than he does.  I thought his job was to represent citizens, not just the ones he agrees with or approves of.

In response to a private message a reader sent me via my site, I am married to a wonderful fellow and am not gay.  However, several of my friends are, and I am just pointing out stupidity where I see it.  I know I have focused on this lately, but it is because I see people being treated like second class citizens for a personal choice that doesn't affect anyone but themselves.  I will continue to focus on this and other issues that affect our right to live how we please as long as it is within the law.

Enemies Of The State (Of Glennsanity)

Via Digby it looks like the groundwork is being done to create another one of those "coincidences" involving right-wing rhetoric and violence, this time over an obscure CUNY professor who co-authored some papers on poverty 45 years ago who is now getting death threats thanks to some unwelcome attention from one Glenn Beck.

Frances Fox Piven, a City University of New York professor, has been a primary character in Mr. Beck’s warnings about a progressive take-down of America. Ms. Piven, Mr. Beck says, is responsible for a plan to “intentionally collapse our economic system.”

Her name has become a kind of shorthand for “enemy” on Mr. Beck’s Fox News Channel program, which is watched by more than 2 million people, and on one of his Web sites, The Blaze. This week, Mr. Beck suggested on television that she was an enemy of the Constitution.

Never mind that Ms. Piven’s radical plan to help poor people was published 45 years ago, when Mr. Beck was a toddler. Anonymous visitors to his Web site have called for her death, and some, she said, have contacted her directly via e-mail. 

When a liberal non-profit group asked Fox News to maybe tone it down a smidge, Fox News replied that it had no reason to because Glenn Beck "denounces violence".

So if anything happens to the 78-year old professor that maybe .001% of America had ever even heard of before Glenn Beck targeted her, if any of Glenn Beck's more deranged followers actually does decide that Beck's right and that she's an enemy of America for something she said 45 years ago, it'll be just another unfortunate coincidence, we'll be told.

And Beck will move on to demonizing his next "enemy of the state" while saying he denounces violence.  Meanwhile, I see my new best friends have quite the enlightened viewpoint on the whole deal:

Um. She IS an enemy of the constitution. She’s an enemy of capitalism. She’s an enemy of free speech. If she thinks that the actions of others, ie: nasty e-mails, threats, comments on a blog, translate into silencing someone talking truthfully about her work, then I do believe Piven is ironically giving Beck a circular validation of his claims.

Nice guys.  A person's opinion makes them an enemy of free speech.  If we could harness the irony in that statement, we might have enough to manufacture a new sun or three.

With all due respect… drop dead , lady. You’re a monster not a healer. Helping poor people by recklessly and intentionally gerrymandering a system that would result in the wholesale destruction of the world’s economy should, in my view, put you on the Olbermann World’s Worst List. (What?… fired?  bwaha)

Free speech apparently means "In America we can say whatever we want that might terrorize a senior citizen and could possibly lead to someone taking death threats seriously against somebody for having an opinion we don't like from two generations ago, so don't you dare try to silence us!"  Oh yeah, and Olbermann was fired and "silenced" so let's have a good laugh.  Champions of free speech, our friends.

Never mind the fact that a 78 year old woman is now getting death threats thanks to macaroon on FOX News.

At Least They Didn't Use A Taser

A police raid on a north Minneapolis apartment on Tuesday that left a man in the hospital and the apartment in shambles -- but led to no serious criminal charges -- has fallen under internal police review.

I truly don't believe I am one of those people who overly sympathize with criminals or people who find themselves on the wrong side of the law.  I totally support the police officers who keep us safe and I get why they are quick to protect themselves.  I also believe they are fully accountable for their actions, and that they should be held to a higher ethical standard because of the nature of their duties.  While it's often played out like a game, cheating on their end should be punished, and severely just because their power is so abusable that a deterrent makes sense.

I have heard directly from retired cops that it's been a long-time successful strategy to beat the crap out of a suspect while shouting "stop resisting!"  Hitting people and tearing up property might be warranted under some circumstances, but what if there was nothing to be found, and what if the suspect isn't resisting?  The problem with the unnecessary force is that we'll never know if Elijah Sullivan was forced to hold a bag of drugs to validate this incident, or if he was opportunistic and found a plausible explanation for the circumstances.  Because of how poorly this was handled from the beginning, the police have no ground to stand on when denying this after the witnesses chip in their account.

I'm curious to see what the investigation turns up, and what details come out while it progresses.

Privacy, Who Needs Privacy? Part IV

This week, Fox News ran a health article from Dr. Manny, asking if DNA fingerprinting at birth and recording it in a huge database was an "invasion" or helpful.

His stance?  "I say it can only protect."

I am rather dubious about Dr. Manny, whose website is far from up to date.  His front page articles cover "Hypertension: The Silent Killer" and "Stress Levels Hurting Your Health?"  Not exactly groundbreaking, and his article on quitting smoking was equally outdated.  Dr. Manny uses one story to make his point, that of a kidnapped child.  In that one case, it was helpful, but is that worth the risk for great abuse?  I say it can only be used for invasion of privacy.  When we exist on file as a numerical sequence that could be switched, altered or accessed by the wrong people, that is Not Good. 

Here We Go Again

The GOP Comedy All-Star 2011-2012 tour kicks off officially today in New Hampshire as Granite State Republicans hold their first straw poll.

WMUR-TV and ABC News will sponsor New Hampshire's first-ever straw poll of state Republican officials, who will gather in Derry, NH to choose their next state chair. The event, one of the earliest of its kind, ever, is expected to be watched by political junkies across the country.

But it's unclear if the event will do much more than briefly satiate the appetites of those hungry for all things electoral -- coming so far before the primary, and before the major candidates have officially declared their intention to run, what exactly the "winner" of Saturday's straw poll suggests about the nomination race is difficult to predict, to say the least. But the event will offer a chance to see who has the heart of the activists and party organizers in New Hampshire, which could suggest who's got the momentum heading into next year's primary season.

Here's how the straw poll is going to work, from WMUR's announcement of the event:
This Saturday, the 493 members of the New Hampshire Republican party will gather at the Pinkerton Academy in Derry, New Hampshire for their annual meeting. While there, each one of these party members will be able to anonymously choose the candidate they'd like to see as the party's nominee for 2012.
Politico reports the officials in Derry will be handed a 21-line ballot -- "20 names of potential candidates and one line marked "Other," where participants can write in an unlisted candidate." Who's on the list? "The ballot includes some Republicans who say they aren't running, such as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and others who have only vaguely hinted at the possibility of a run, like former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani."

I'm the most interested in that "Other" line to see who's going to look at that list of twenty GOP hopefuls, go "none of these idiots can win because they're crazy" and then write in somebody even more crazy.

Still, we'll see who comes out on top on "So You Want To Be President".  Twenty-one-and-a-half months to go!

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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