Saturday, October 10, 2015

Last Call For Bitter Home Alabama, Con't.

The issue with voter suppression in Alabama is just the endgame for GOP rule in Southern states.  The real goal is to crush the poor and simply get rid of them, and Alabama is well on its way to doing just that after decades of Republican rule.

What hurts in rural areas generally is all the more painful in the Black Belt, a broad band across southern Alabama named for its rich soil. The Black Belt counties, nearly all of them majority African-American, are scattered with dying towns, few job opportunities and bad health.

Still, they were again hit by the funding cuts: three of the five state parks slated to close are here.

Officials with the Bentley administration, who had warned of potentially deeper cuts, blame the legislature for not finding more revenue. But in Alabama, the poor tend to get squeezed when it comes to cutting services and raising revenue alike.

Corporate tax breaks are generous and the timber and farming interests that own so much Black Belt land enjoy substantial property tax discounts. At the same time, households earning far below the poverty level are required to pay income tax, while the local and state sales tax burden is among the highest in the United States, and Alabama, unlike nearly every other state, imposes its full sales tax on groceries. With such volatile funding on the state level and so little tax revenue locally, Black Belt schools are chronically underfunded.

“Whenever there are funding cuts it may give a cold to most of the schools, but it gives us pneumonia,” said Daniel Boyd, the superintendent of Lowndes County’s public school system, which has been short of textbooks since 2008.

And so the schools struggle, people move out, the tax base dwindles and more services are cut. This time around, it is the driver’s licenses.

“It’s going to be a problem,” said Carolyn Shields, who was discussing the cutbacks with her sister Caritha in front of Caritha’s mobile home in the tiny community of Geiger.

With people from several counties now having to go to Tuscaloosa, the lines will likely be longer, they said, meaning a whole day off work — maybe two, if the wait is especially long. More young people will probably just drive without licenses, as plenty around here already do, they said.

The sisters said they were not sure about the effect one way or another on voting. For them, the main consideration was whether places like this could remain at all.

“Before long,” Ms. Shields said, “there won’t be nothing here.”

The prospect of cutting government to the bone and then amputating it is nothing new, certainly.  But it's the poor, the black, the brown, that suffer the most, suffer first, and suffer the longest. And Republicans don't care.  Take everything from them including the right to vote and you win. Wall the place off and let the losers perish.

And the game continues like it has for centuries.

And He's Ore-Gone

I'm old enough to remember when US presidents were not greeted with guns.

Gun-toting protesters gathered on Friday morning to await President Obama's arrival in Roseburg, Ore., where he planned to meet with the families of victims of last week's mass shooting at Umpqua Community College.

But local residents planned to protest Obama's visit, saying he rushed to "politicize" the tragedy by pushing a gun control agenda. 
"My family, my friends, everybody down here is not happy about him coming," Michelle Finn, a Umpqua alumna and Roseburg native, told the Oregonian. "He already says he's going to politicize this — he's already going to push his agenda." 
A Facebook event page for a protest dubbed "Defend Roseburg - Deny barack 0bama" [sic], had garnered more than 8,000 RVSPs by Friday. In its lengthy event description, organizers suggested attendees carry a handgun as opposed to a rifle, but reiterated "you have the right to carry what you wish." 
"Polarizing as usual, Mr 0bama [sic] has insisted on politicizing the event as a conduit for increased executive orders on gun control via means of his pen, and his phone," the description continued.

Now, the notion of publicly saying that you're going to go protest a presidential visit to your town with your rifles and pistols by your side and threatening to run him out of town is pretty common.

Can't imagine what changed from the previous 43 presidents.

Hillary's Poll Position

Here's some crosstabs from the latest Quinnipiac poll matchup between Hillary Clinton and various GOP candidates, in this case, Ben Carson.

Clinton loses pretty badly to Carson, but the reason why is she loses the white vote badly.  Among white women it's 54-40% Carson, but among white men it's 60-29%.

Even Obama got more of the white vote than this in 2012.

Hillary's numbers among white voters are terrible, but she doesn't break 30% against any of the Republicans among white men period, not against Carson, Bush, Fiorina or Trump.

Keep an eye on that number should Joe Biden get in the game.

The Voting Wrongs Act

Don't expect Jeb to sign any voting rights legislation if he's elected, like most Republicans who threw up their hands in 2008 and said "OK, we've elected a black president, what more do you people want" Bush sees the VRA as an antiquated, irrelevant relic.

The 1965 law, signed by President Lyndon Johnson, has dramatically reduced racial discrimination in voting. But for the past two years, its impact has been less clear. In 2013, the Supreme Court struck down the heart of Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act. That provision laid out a formula to determine which states had a history of voting discrimination that would subject them to extra scrutiny every time they sought to change voting laws. At the time, nine states were affected by the clause. Unless Congress writes a new formula that would pass muster with the Supreme Court, the effect of the law remains muted. 
To Bush, singling out states for their historic racism is no longer relevant. "If it's to reauthorize it to continue to provide regulations on top of states as though we are living in 1960—'cause those were basically when many of those rules were put in place—I don't believe that we should do that," he said. "There has been dramatic improvement in access to voting. I mean, exponentially better improvement. And I don't think there is a role for the federal government to play in most places, could be some, but in most places where they did have a constructive role in the '60s. So I don't support reauthorizing it as is."

Of course not, because bruised southern white feelings are more important than the right to vote, Supreme Court even said so!

The scary, more serious part is this notion that the federal government doesn't have a role to play in guaranteeing that voter suppression is going on when southern states like Alabama are imposing voter ID laws and then closing drivers license offices in heavily black counties first.

This is exactly the kind of nonsense the Voting Rights Act was supposed to stop, but because it's been gutted, Alabama will most likely be able to get away with it and disenfranchise thousands of black voters in the process.

But that's the point: a Republican president won't enforce the Voting Rights Act at all.
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