Saturday, June 16, 2018

It's About Suppression, Con't

In the wake of last week's 5-4 Supreme Court decision allowing Ohio Republicans to purge voter rolls solely on the basis of not voting, I predicted that the decision would serve as a green light for other red states to begin massive voter suppression efforts:

Republicans want as few people eligible to vote as possible for a reason, and this is just one more weapon to use against voter registration drives.  Don't be surprised if red states in fact take up even more aggressive voter purges too, apparently it's open season now on "use it or lose it" as a "right" to vote.

What this means is voting is no longer a protected right, but something that can be taken from you by the states for the reason of choosing not using it.  Alito and the conservative majority on the court aren't concerned with voting rights, they are concerned with Republicans winning, period.

North Carolina Republicans are wasting no time now that they know how the court stands on restricting who can vote and are going for broke to stop groups that vote Democratic from being allowed to cast ballots ahead of midterms.

The last time Republicans in the North Carolina Legislature enacted a law making it harder for some of the state’s residents to vote, a federal court said the statute targeted African-American voters “with almost surgical precision,” and threw it out.

That was last year. Now the legislators are back with a new set of election proposals, and an unconventional plan to make them stick.

Shortly before midnight on Wednesday, Republican senators unveiled legislation that would eliminate the final Saturday of early voting in state elections, a day that typically draws a large share of black voters to the polls. That followed a Republican proposal last week to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would require all voters to display a photo ID before casting votes.

In addition, party leaders say they are preparing a constitutional amendment that would curb the power of the Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, over the state board that controls election procedures.

Since Republicans swept to control of the North Carolina Legislature and the governorship in 2010 and 2012, the state has become ground zero for struggles over election rules and voting rights. But Democrats have recently made gains in the state, most notably with Mr. Cooper’s win in 2016.

Voting rights advocates say Republicans are trying to lock in as much of a political advantage as possible in advance of a November election that could weaken or break their hold on the Legislature.

It's a pretty ballsy plan, I have to hand it to them.

Their plan faces risks. Both voter ID and restrictions on early voting were keystone features of the last Republican elections bill, in 2013, that federal judges struck down as racially discriminatory in 2017.

This time, however, the party’s tactics have changed. The voter ID amendment would require approval by citizens as well as legislators. The final Saturday of voting has been popular — nearly 200,000 citizens voted on that day in 2016 — and African-Americans turned out at a rate 40 percent greater than their share of the electorate. But the bill to eliminate that Saturday would apportion those lost hours among other early voting days, so the total hours of polling would not change.

Opponents call that a smoke screen, and say the legislation is crafted to curtail early voting by requiring local election officials to staff every polling place 12 hours a day for all 17 days of the early voting period. Many election offices will struggle to find enough volunteers to meet that schedule, they say, and will be forced to close early voting sites to comply.

And of course the counties that would be most likely to have to close early voting would be places with large urban black populations like Durham and Mecklenburg, and Sandhills counties in the east with a large percentage of black voters and not a lot of resources like Wilson, Wayne, and Sampson.

Like I said, pretty ballsy, especially bringing in a Voter ID amendment to the state Constitution, assuring that only SCOTUS could stop it, and won't.

Look for more states to put voter suppression efforts into state constitutions the way Republicans did with gay marriage 15 years ago.  Millions of Americans were denied the right to marry until SCOTUS stepped in, but this time that train is headed for the opposite direction.

Immiration Nation, Con't

House Republicans, realizing that they are going to get crushed in November, are scrambling to come up with some sort of cover as Trump's hideous policy of separating kids from their families at the border not only continues unabated, but is actually accelerating.

Nearly 2,000 children have been separated from their families at the U.S. border over a six-week period during a crackdown on illegal entries, according to Department of Homeland Security figures obtained Friday by The Associated Press.

The figures show that 1,995 minors were separated from 1,940 adults from April 19 through May 31. The separations were not broken down by age, and included separations for illegal entry, immigration violations or possible criminal conduct by the adult.

Under a “zero tolerance” policy announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Department of Homeland Security officials are now referring all cases of illegal entry for criminal prosecution. U.S. protocol prohibits detaining children with their parents because the children are not charged with a crime and the parents are.

Sessions announced the effort April 6, and Homeland Security began stepping up referrals in early May, effectively putting the policy into action.

Since then, stories of weeping children torn from the arms of their frightened parents have flooded the media and the policy has been widely criticized by church groups, politicians and children’s advocates who say it is inhumane. A battle in Congress is brewing in part over the issue.

Some immigrant advocates have said women were being separated from their infants — a charge Homeland Security and Justice officials flatly denied. They also said the children were being well cared for and disputed reports of disorder and mistreatment at the border.

On Thursday, Sessions cited the Bible in defending the policy, arguing the recent criticisms were not “fair or logical and some are contrary to law.”

“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained them for the purpose of order,” he said.

The International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian aid group, released a statement Friday saying, “A policy of willing cruelty to those people, and using young sons and daughters as pawns, shatters America’s strong foundation of humanitarian sensibility and family values.”

The Trump regime policy has resulted in internment tent camps for migrant children filling America's TV screens during an election year, and Trump is lying and claiming Democrats in Congress are forcing this with Obama-era laws.  It's complete nonsense, and House Republicans want to pass something so they can tell voters they tried to stop it, but of course the bill in front of the House GOP doesn't actually stop Trump from doing this.

The reality is that Trump, congressional Republicans, and most Trump voters all want this policy.

President Trump has calculated that he will gain political leverage in congressional negotiations by continuing to enforce a policy he claims to hate — separating immigrant parents from their young children at the southern border, according to White House officials.

On Friday, Trump suggested he would not change the policy unless Democrats agreed to his other immigration demands, which include funding a border wall, tightening the rules for border enforcement and curbing legal entry. He also is intent on pushing members of his party to vote for a compromise measure that would achieve those long-standing priorities.

Trump’s public acknowledgment that he was willing to let the policy continue as he pursued his political goals came as the president once again blamed Democrats for a policy enacted and touted by his own administration.

“The Democrats are forcing the breakup of families at the Border with their horrible and cruel legislative agenda,” he tweeted. After listing his demands in any immigration bill, he added, “Go for it! WIN!”

The attempt to gain advantage from a practice the American Academy of Pediatrics describes as causing children “irreparable harm” sets up a high-stakes gambit for Trump, whose political career has long benefited from harsh rhetoric on immigration.

Democrats have latched onto the issue and vowed to fight in the court of public opinion, with leaders planning trips to the border to highlight the stories of separated families, already the focus of news media attention. Democratic candidates running for vulnerable Republican seats also have begun to make the harsh treatment of children a centerpiece of their campaigns.

But there are those religious groups that see this as the abomination that it is.

The policy has cracked Trump’s usually united conservative base, with a wide array of religious leaders and groups denouncing it. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Southern Baptist Convention issued statements critical of the practice.

The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, who delivered a prayer at Trump’s inauguration, signed a letter calling the practice “horrible.” Pastor Franklin Graham of Samaritan’s Purse, a vocal supporter of the president’s who has brushed aside past Trump controversies, called it “terrible” and “disgraceful.”

We'll see what happens, but my guess is that Trump will continue to blame Democrats, and that his own voters will buy the lie, as they have everything else.  As for the rest of America, we'll see if this motivates us to actually do anything about one-party Trump control.

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