An Annual Reminder.Echo... echo... echo... Pinch hitting for Pedro Borbon... Manny Mota... Mota... Mota... You may remember my brother the activist. I keep trying to get him to post, but he's shy and busy. He sent me this yesterday and I[...]
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Even if voter fraud were a problem (it isn't), voter ID laws would be no kind of solution. Of several types of potential fraud, you have in-person voter fraud, where someone votes in an election more than once. That's the only one that would be captured[...]
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Today is the 47th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, passed in 1965 by a bipartisan (if sectional) majority of Congress, and signed by President Lyndon Johnson. With the fight over who deserves to vote having been reignited by the partisan push for voter identification, and with conservatives mounting legal attacks on key provisions of the Act, it?s worth noting the degree to which the VRA was a milestone for democracy in this country.
Prior to the VRA, African American voting in the South was close to nonexistent. A minority of blacks were registered to vote, and small percentages made it to the polls, but the overwhelming majority were kept disenfranchised through taxes, tests, onerous registration requirements, and outright violence?in 1873, to name one especially bloody example, a group of whites murdered over 100 blacks who'd assembled to defend Republican lawmakers from attack in Colfax, Louisiana.
It was during this time that the Democratic Party emerged as the chief political vehicle for white supremacy in the former Confederacy. The emergence of the Solid South allowed whites to exclude black or black-supported candidates from primaries, and to suppress the Republican Party as a means for partisan resistance. If that wasn?t enough to keep blacks out of the political process, some election officials would simply disregard their votes.
This map, provided by the University of Michigan, shows the percentage vote for Republican candidates in the 1922 election. The blue-shaded counties are ones where Republicans received less than 30 percent of the vote. The dark blue counties are ones where Republicans received zero votes. In the South, this can be used as something of a proxy for black voting; it's almost all blue:
As the map shows, few if any blacks, who were overwhelmingly Republican, voted in federal elections?much less state and local elections?at the beginning of the 20th century. There?s a painful irony in this; just five years earlier, President Woodrow Wilson had led Americans into a war to make the world ?safe for democracy.? His administration also resegregated Washington, D.C., and opposed federal anti-lynching laws under the guise of federalism.
To call the Voting Rights Act a ?landmark? law is to understate its significance. Given the context?a century of violent efforts to destroy black political participation?the VRA was an act of genuine revolution. August 6, 1965?the day the law went into effect?was the beginning of a sea change in American political life. The law would directly and indirectly franchise more than 20 million people, and open elected office to blacks for the first time since Reconstruction. This chart gives you a sense of the change:
Within a generation, in the former Confederacy, African American voter registration more than doubled from an average of 30 percent to an average of 65 percent. Likewise, the number of black elected officials jumped from nearly zero in 1964 to more than 9,000 in 2000, with two-thirds residing in the South. These tremendous strides were, in numerical terms, on par with democracy movements in developing countries around the world.
Here?s the big picture: African Americans have spent the vast majority of their time in this country?177 years, starting from the ratification of the Constitution?without the right to vote, or the ability to exercise it. This history should serve as a reminder; voter identification laws are so pernicious because for the most part, they are a disgraceful callback to a time when political parties used government to keep citizens from exercising their rights.Southern United StatesReconstructionVoting Rights ActRepublican PartyElectronic votingReconstruction era of the United StatesDisfranchisement after Reconstruction eraPoliticsSocial Issues
So Mitt Romney outraised President Obama again in July, $101 million to $75 million. That $26 million gap is large, but it's $9 million less than last month, when Romney outraised Obama by a $106 million to $71 million margin.
We don't know yet how much the president's reelection campaign spent in July, but Romneyland says their cash on hand is $186 million, up $26 million from the $160 million they claimed in June. Subtract that $26 million growth in cash-on-hand from Romney's $101 million fundraising total and you get Romney's total spending for July: $75 million. For all the talk of the torrid pace of campaign spending by the Obama campaign, that's actually more than the roughly $71 million Obama spent in June. Yet despite rivaling?if not exceeding?the Obama campaign in total spending, Romney ended July very much upside down when it comes to the horserace, particularly in swing states, where Obama has built a strong edge.
Romney's biggest problem is that no matter how much money he spends, he can't change the fact that he's Mitt Romney. Not only has he failed to effectively rebut criticisms of his economic and business records, he's remains as personally unlikeable as ever. If money could fix those problems, they'd have been fixed long ago.
Making matters worse (for Mitt), it turns out that the type of money Romney is raising is less useful than the type of money President Obama is raising. The reason for this is the fundraising totals announced by Romney and Obama include fundraising not just for their campaigns but also for their party committees. They can coordinate up to $21 million in spending with their party committees, but the rest needs to be managed by an independent expenditure committee with which they cannot legally coordinate. Moreover, that independent expenditure committee cannot take advantage of lower ad rates available to candidates.
Donors can only give up to $5,000 directly to Romney's campaign, but they can give up to $75,000 to the campaign plus the party committees. Romney's fundraising advantage over Obama comes entirely from these mega donations. In June, for example, Romney raised just $33 million of his $106 million directly for his campaign?$73 million went to Republican Party committees. Obama, meanwhile, raised $46 million of his $71 million total directly for his campaign.
Neither Obama nor Romney have said exactly how much each committee raised in July, but based on last month's totals, I would guess that Obama raised nearly $50 million directly for his campaign and Romney raised about $37 or $38 million. The bottom line is that in July, Romney did outraise Obama?but it's actually not as bad a situation as the $26 million gap would suggest.
Moreover, President Obama actually grew his fundraising total by $4 million while Romney's shrank by $5 million. The reason: Obama is fundraising from a bigger pool of smaller donors. As we get closer to the election, his fundraising will accelerate. Romney's fundraising, on the other hand, will continue to decelerate unless he somehow figures out how to excite small donors. For a guy like Mitt Romney, that's going to be very difficult, especially as it becomes more and more clear that President Obama is the odds-on favorite to win in November.
Ohio Gerrymander #4 "This plan is the most grotesque partisan gerrymander that I, as a political scientist, have ever seen," said Professor Richard Gunther of Ohio State University. Gunther was speaking of Ohio's new congressional district map, created[...]
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The Sikh temple shooting, which left seven dead including the shooter, has left me feeling more shaky than the shooting in Colorado, which seemed more random.
I write that even though we the skeleton of these stories is roughly the same. One man with a grudge takes semi-automatic weapons and opens fire at a public or semi-public event where people are gathered for some socially acknowledged purpose?education, work, politics, entertainment, worship. Some people die. Others are wounded. The gunman may or may not have the presence of mind to execute himself. Or he may choose to be martyred, putting himself in line for police to kill him.
The gunman?s race and age vary, anywhere from 12 to 50. In the U.S., the majority of such gunmen are white, disproportionately (although just slightly) to their numbers in the population. . They are overwhelmingly male. Sometimes the gunman has a personal motive for making others suffer: He lost his job, or girlfriend. Sometimes his motive is putatively political: liberals are ruining Norway, or abortion clinics are killing babies. Sometimes he?s just crazy?psychotic, or with a deeply disturbing character disorder?but sane enough to follow the cultural script.
Even knowing that the story has a plot that I can strip down to familiar elements, this particular shooting upsets me more than most?because Wade Michael Page shot up a gathering of a religious minority, darker than white, in the bucolic Midwest, in what police are calling an act of domestic terrorism. The FBI has been called in. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Page was, as many of us suspected, a ?frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band.? (Okay, I didn?t guess the band part.) Dave Weigel goes into the background documents and offers up the relevant nuggets in an excellent post at Slate, including a link to one of Page?s hate songs.
Sikhs have been targeted and attacked in hate crimes since 9/11; CNN has a summary of some of the publicly reported attacks here. Many of the news reports quoting Sikhs about this attack emphasize that they?re mistaken for Muslims, as if attacking Muslims would be more understandable. But post-9/11 hatred focused on the ?other? hasn?t been that specific; Sikhs are visibly south Asian and, with those turbans, non-Christian. That?s enough for a neo-Nazi or any xenophobe who nurses an irrational resentment.
Here?s why this one leaves me particularly shaky. I grew up in the only Jewish family in my southern Ohio township, and probably the county; for nearly a decade, as far as I knew, I was the only Jewish kid in my jam-packed grade school, junior high, and high school. (My graduating class had 675 people.) The area was so German-American white that my medium-brown hair (see picture to the right) counted as dark, and left me irrationally unwilling to date anyone blond, although I?ve known consciously that that?s ridiculous. Somehow, I never had the presence of mind to connect my feeling of exclusion to what my dear friends the Conchas, the township?s Hispanic family, might be feeling, much less how the handful of black kids might have felt; as a child, my focus was on trying to shut off that sense of exclusion. Not until adulthood did I learn, instead, to expand it into empathy.
It?s hard to express how or why this incised me with vulnerable outsiderness so profoundly. Was it the time my friend Patti chased me around at recess, telling me that the Jews killed Jesus, and the teacher made me sit in the corner for crying? Was it having to stand every day in fourth grade as everyone said the Lord?s Prayer, which I knew wasn?t mine? (Yes, that came after the Supreme Court ruling banning prayer in schools, but I wasn?t yet well-versed enough in the law to object.) Was it getting those little choose-Christ-or-go-to-hell pamphlets in our Halloween bags, which probably went into everyone?s bags but which I interpreted as specifically meant for my Jewish family? Or having my sixth-grade teacher call me into the hall at school, asking whether the class could have a Christmas tree?
Another child might not have felt all this so keenly, of course, but I did. And my friends who grew up in urban or suburban Jewish clusters?Los Angeles, Cleveland Heights, Long Island?had a vastly different experience as American Jews. After I left for college, a Hindu temple moved in, and I was happy that my little brother and sister would have some fellow outsiders to befriend. For me, being the Jewish kid in Beavercreek, Ohio was a lot harder than coming out later as gay. Which is probably why I never write about this subject, and why it?s so easy, comparatively, for me to write about sexuality and gender.
And it?s why, after 9/11, I was so grateful to march with members of the tiny Cambridge, Massachusetts mosque, which sits one street over from the tiny Cambridge synagogue, as befits religions that are such close cousins. However much the 9/11 bombers resembled, say, Timothy McVeigh or Eric Rudolph (who bombed a lesbian club, an abortion clinic, and the Atlanta Olympic games, in that order) in their message of politically targeted hatred, I knew that after 9/11 all Muslims would be slandered as responsible in a way that all white Christians had not. In fact, the one thing I thought George W. Bush got absolutely right was insisting that Americans should not blame a religion for its most extreme members? unhinged actions.
Police may not have definitively determined Wade Michael Page?s motive. But I see a group of brown people gunned down in their temple, almost certainly for their religious outsiderness, out there in the hyperwhite Midwest. I grieve for every Sikh in the country, and for every Muslim and Hindu and South Asian and Middle Eastern American who knows the message was aimed at them as well.
Page may have been a shooter like all other shooters: just another grudge-holding male who decided to feel powerful by becoming the lord of death. And yet his bullets nevertheless delivered a specifically white message of ?patriotic? hatred: You don?t belong here. You are not us. Go directly to hell.
Will someone?everyone, really?please stand up and say that what Page represents is the opposite of American?Islamic terrorismSikhSeptember 11 attacksReligion
It's been a while since we last checked to see the status of the gender gap in presidential polling. But a quick look at several recent polls that include that information (surprisingly few do), and it's clear?people may not be talking about the war on women today as much as they did earlier in the year, but the effects linger on:
This week, the world’s major central bankers gathered in their Ivory Towers. They debated the economy and talked markets, and expectations from investors around the world couldn’t have been higher.
From Wall Street . . . → Read More: Policymakers out of ?bazookas? ? what it means to you!
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Several veterans slammed Mitt Romney on Monday for opposing and mischaracterizing an Obama campaign lawsuit which would expand early voting rights to veterans, cops, firefighters and all Ohio voters.
Romney had claimed -- falsely -- that the Obama campaign opposed allowing members of the military and their families to vote in-person in the three days before the election. Actually, the Obama campaign wants all people in Ohio -- including, for example, veterans, cops and firefighters -- to be able to vote during that period.
The Romney campaign has not responded to TPM's multiple requests for comment on whether they believe Ohio firefighters and cops are worthy of early voting rights.
"When it comes to Mitt Romney, I feel like he lives in bizarro world," Iraq veteran and former Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-PA) told reporters in a conference call organized by the Center for American Progress on Monday. "He's suppressing millions of votes across our country in this election, and then he lies and says that President Obama is trying to do the same thing, when it couldn't be further from the truth."
Murphy said Romney's opposition to the lawsuit was part of a coordinated effort to suppress the vote.
"President Obama is trying to restore voting rights for all people in Ohio and all across the country. They just want to give them a fair shake and let their voices be heard," Murphy said. "I was absolutely dumbfounded when I found out over the weekend what Mitt Romney is trying to pull. He's trying to pull the wool over people's eyes and trying to use our veterans as props to further his lies."
Jon Soltz, a veteran who now works with VoteVets.org, said that he was "appalled" by the narrative coming out of Ohio.
"Obviously with the narrative the Romney campaign is pushing, they probably don't have a lot of people around them who have actually served," Soltz said. "We also agree, like the president does, that someone who served in World World II in the Battle of the Bulge or someone who lost their legs in Vietnam has just as much of a right to vote as today's veteran."
Romney's campaign claimed Sunday that Obama opposed special treatment for service members, though Obama's suit explicitly said that Ohio "appropriately" granted voting rights to members of the military in the three days before the election.