Republicans across the country are waging a steady war against the American voter, pushing voter suppression and photo ID bills that will potentially disenfranchise students, seniors, minorities, low-income, and millions of other Americans come 2012. Conservatives insist that this regression in civic rights is necessary to combat a demonstrably non-existent problem, voter fraud.
Last night on the O’Reilly Factor, Occidental College political science Prof. Caroline Heldman endeavored to relieve host Bill O’Reilly of his dogged belief that the infinitesimal rate of voter fraud warrants disenfranchising 5 million people. “You’re harboring the misconception that’s you have lots of people trying to vote [fraudulently]. You face five years in prison and a $10,000 fine if you engage in voter fraud, that’s why almost nobody does it.”
Condescendingly mocking her expertise, O’Reilly rattled off “stats” to prove that voter fraud is rampant in Wisconsin, which Heldman noted is near 0.000001 of one percent. “Great,” she said. “Where is all the legislation that is trying to protect people that are struck by lightning because that’s really the same priority that this should have on the agenda.” Watch it:
Heldman noted that the voter ID bills that are popping up around the country aren’t in response to an actual problem but actually created by the American Legislative Exchange Commission (ALEC) which has written, printed, and pushed an identical voter ID bill in several different states. In fact, “every single one of the five states that recently passed Voter ID legislation had [ALEC] members as co-sponsors of the legislation.” O’Reilly responded, “I’ve never heard of that,” later adding “it doesn’t matter if its common sense.”
“It’s anti-democratic, it’s going to demobilize 5 million legally registered voters,” Heldman tried again, citing the Brennan Center, ThinkProgress, and the ACLU’s research. “ThinkProgress, that’s a far left outfit,” O’Reilly said. “I don’t believe that for a second.” To which Heldman replied, “They’re crunching numbers, Bill. Numbers are numbers.”
Indeed, there’s really only one problem with the numbers Professor Heldman presented to O’Reilly last night — a voter is actually 39 times more likely to be struck by lightning than to commit fraud at the polls.
Watch Stephen Colbert's take on military bestiality and gay penguins below the fold ...
A new study shows that gay and bisexual men who live in states with marriage equality have improved mental and physical health, require fewer doctor visits, and have lower health-care costs. The study found that in the year after Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage, gay and bi men had a 13 percent reduction in health-care visits and a 14 percent reduction in health-care costs compared to the previous year.
Our guest blogger is Peter Juul, national security policy analyst at the Center for American Progress.
The National Defense Authorization Act recently passed by the Senate contains several major provisions relating to U.S. policy on Iran, including controversial new sanctions involving Iran?s Central Bank. It authorizes President Obama to impose sanctions directly on the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), but does not require him to do so. However, it does require the president to impose sanctions — not on Iran, but on other foreign banks that do business with the CBI or other Iranian financial institutions designated by the Treasury Department for sanctions or other penalties. In other words, foreign banks that do business with the Central Bank of Iran would be barred from doing business in the United States.
The measures in the defense bill do give President Obama some wiggle room — for instance, allowing him to issue waivers every 120 days — but do not give him the necessary flexibility to conduct the delicate diplomacy required to isolate Iran. As Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner wrote to Congress, ?Rather than motivating [our closest allies and largest trading partners] to join us in increasing pressure on Iran, they are more likely to resent our actions and resist following our lead ? a consequence that would serve the Iranians more than it harms them.?
While the desire of Congress to further pressure Iran as it continues to refuse to come clean on its nuclear activities is understandable, the smarter policy approach is to give President Obama the tools necessary to maintain the international coalition to hold Iran accountable for its actions and omissions. By threatening to crack this coalition with unilateral actions that could harm even our closest allies with these sanctions, Congress is undermining President Obama?s Iran policy when it should be trying to strengthen it. The sanctions provisions of the defense bill threaten to seriously undercut the painstaking diplomatic action that has left Iran more isolated than ever.
Police officers investigating the theft of thousands of private emails between climate scientists from a University of East Anglia server in 2009 have seized computer equipment belonging to a web content editor based at the University of Leeds.
The glacial investigation into the stolen emails has experienced rapid, unprecedented warming that very much appears to be caused by humans, in this case the Norfolk police.
The UK Guardian reports today:
On Wednesday, detectives from Norfolk Constabulary entered the home of Roger Tattersall, who writes a climate sceptic blog under the pseudonym TallBloke, and took away two laptops and a broadband router. A police spokeswoman confirmed on Thursday that Norfolk Constabulary had “executed a search warrant in West Yorkshire and seized computers”. She added: “No one was arrested. Investigations into the [UEA] data breach and publication [online of emails] continues. This is one line of enquiry in a Norfolk constabulary investigation which started in 2009″….
Both Tattersall and a US-based climate sceptic blogger known as Jeff Id said they had received a “formal request” via the blogging platform WordPress from the US Department of Justice’s criminal division, dated 9 December, to preserve “all stored communications, records, and other evidence in your possession” related to their own blogs as well as to Climate Audit, a climate sceptic blog run by a Canadian mining consultant called Steve McIntyre. All three blogs had received messages from “FOIA” last month pointing to the link hosting a second tranche of emails first taken from the UEA in 2009.
It’s funny to see the hyperventilating at the denier websites. As you know, the deniers routinely assume any scientist being independently investigated is almost certainly guilty, that any scientist exonerated by an independent investigation is definitely guilty, and that thousands of actual evidence-based studies are part of a grand conspiracy to deceive humanity.
Unlike the deniers, however, we stay evidence-based, so the fact that the police have seized TallBloke’s computers and told a U.S. denier not to delete or destroy any evidence is not proof in the least bit of their involvement in any crime.
Here’s more of the story:
Tattersall posted his own account of the police search on his blog: “An Englishman’s home is his castle they say. Not when six detectives from the Metropolitan police, the Norfolk constabulary and the computer crime division arrive on your doorstep with a warrant to search it though ? They ended up settling for two laptops and an ADSL broadband router ? I got the feeling something was on the go last night when WordPress [the internet host for his blog] forwarded a notice from the US Department of Justice.”
Speaking to the Guardian, Tattersall said: “I am happy to assist the police with their inquiries because I haven’t been hiding anything important like some people have. I assisted them with their inquiries, which involved voluntarily answering some questions regarding computer use etc.”
Last month, Tattersall’s blog, as well as at least four other blogs popular with climate sceptics, received a comment from a user called “FOIA” providing a link to a Russian server hosting a compressed folder containing more than 5,000 emails exchanged between climate scientists, along with a short message setting out the perpetrator’s motives. The folder also contained an encrypted subfolder containing a further 220,000 emails. It was the second time such a release had occurred.
In November 2009, thousands of emails were released in a similar manner on the eve the Copenhagen climate summit. The episode prompted a series of inquiries into the working practices of climate scientists. Although these were critical of the scientists’ handling of Freedom of Information Act requests and lack of openness, they did not find fault with the climate change science they had produced….
During an interview with the Guardian last week before the seizing of his computers, Tattersall said that he had been questioned by Norfolk police “some two months” after the initial breach in 2009, but had heard nothing since. A number of climate scientists and bloggers are known to have been questioned by the police.
A spokesman for the University of East Anglia said today: “We are pleased to hear that the police are continuing to actively pursue the case following the release last month of a second tranche of hacked emails from the Climatic Research Unit. We hope this will result in the arrest of those responsible for the theft of the emails and for distorting the debate on the globally important issue of climate change.”
Climate Progress is a project Center For American Progress Action Fund. So I’m delighted to report that Former Rep. Tom Perriello (D-VA) will be taking over as President of CAPAF.
At the same time, my terrific CAPAF colleague, Tara McGuinness, will be both Senior Vice President of the Action Fund and Senior Vice President of Communications at CAP. As HuffPost puts it:
The announcement caps off a major period of transition for the influential think-tank and advocacy organization. CAP’s founder, John Podesta, recently stepped down from the post of president and was replaced by Neera Tanden, a former top adviser to Presidents Clinton and Obama. Jennifer Palmieri, who headed CAP’s Action Fund, recently left to take on a communications position inside the Obama White House. Her former job, which included the title of Senior Vice President of Communications at CAP, will be split between Perriello and McGuinness.
Climate Progress readers will remember that Perriello emerged is a true climate hawk during the congressional debate over the climate bill. He famously said, “The Republicans may win some seats because of this vote, but they can?t regain their souls for demagoguing the issue.?
Here’s more from Perriello in February 2010 telling the “spineless Senate” to get “its head out of its rear end” and confront climate crisis:
I?m sick of starting with what can we get through the Senate; let?s start with what solves the damn problem. Until the Senate gets its head out of its rear end and starts to see the crisis we?re in, our country is literally at risk. Our economy is at risk, because these jobs are being created overseas. It should have the same urgency with this problem that it had bailing out Wall Street. We are swearing an oath to do what?s necessary to protect this country, not do what?s necessary to get a bill through the Senate.
- This is the challenge of our time … the jobs opportunity, the national security challenge, the scientific challenge of our era. Any plan that uses market forces to signal a carbon-constrained environment is going to move us in the right direction. People who don?t support this kind of aggressive energy independence are just selling Americans short.
- We?re so far behind China, Europe, and other areas in the energy jobs of the future because neither party has had the guts to take this on. There are so many spineless people in D.C.
- Every week the Senate doesn?t act, it either freezes that investment and innovation or it sends it overseas. We?re giving up jobs. The Senate … the ridiculous tactics of the Republicans and the timidity of the Democrats??is standing in the way of the kind of job creation we need.
- Unfortunately, good ideas, ideas that could save our country, sometimes take 30 minutes to explain and only 30 seconds to demagogue. In between those two things is leadership, and we haven?t had the moral courage to take this on.
Join me in welcoming Perriello to the Center.
Like Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann found no irony in calling for the repeal legislation that would extend health insurance coverage to 32 million Americans (and already insured 2.5 million young adults) at a “pro-life” event last night, saying, “the number one way we’ll advance the cause of life is through the 100 percent repeal of Obamacare.” Speaking at the premiere of The Gift of Life, an anti-abortion movie, Bachmann also criticized the administration for denying greater access to the morning after pill, despite agreeing with the decision. She warned that if re-elected, the administration would surely make Plan B available “on the grocery store aisles next to bubble gums and next to M&Ms.” Watch it:
Of course the morning after pill will never be available in candy aisles. Currently, the medication can only be purchased behind the counter by women 17 and older ? meaning that they do not need a prescription but they have to ask a pharmacist for the drug. Those 16 and younger need a prescription in order to obtain it.
Meanwhile, all available data — both in Massachusetts and around the world — shows that women contemplating an abortion are far less likely to seek one if they can afford health insurance for themselves, and feel confident they can provide quality medical care to their newborn children. Therefore, repealing health reform would not only violate the general concept of supporting human life, it would also destroy the “life” of the fetuses that conservatives talk so much about protecting.
Like national Democrats who can't - or won't - do the very simplest and most obvious things to help themselves.
DR. DEMOCRAT'S (UNUSED) MAGIC BULLET
I saw a tweet from Talking Points Memo about a half hour ago:Dem cave in 3, 2, ...
The link that follows goes to this story:
Dems Consider Dropping Demands As Republicans Risk A ShutdownIf it weren't for the filibuster, Democrats would have the GOP neatly over a barrel. But Republicans believe they've regained the upper hand....
Senate Democrats are now considering dropping their demand that a payroll tax holiday for workers be offset by imposing a small surtax on millionaires, according to Democratic aides -- resigning themselves to the fact that Republicans won't lift their filibuster if the surtax stands....
You know, I was told that the battle had really, really been engaged when President Obama delivered a fiery populist speech in Kansas last week. But do you know what Obama didn't do in that speech? Do you know what he never does? What no Democrat ever does? No Democrat ever explains the filibuster to the American public, with the goal of urging voters to demand that Republicans back down from their abuse of the practice, particularly on overwhelmingly popular measures like raising taxes on the wealthy.
I know, I know: it's hard to fire people up with a civics lesson. But it's the only way Democrats will ever win a vote on anything, ever. It doesn't matter if it's difficult -- the party has to try.
Dealing with the American people on this is analogous to practicing modern medicine while working in a less developed society and knowing that a devastating epidemic affecting that society can be stopped, or at least greatly slowed, by means of universal hand-washing, or cooking all food to a certain temperature, or using condoms during sex. The American people are like members of this less developed culture who may think the real solution is, say, an animal sacrifice to the gods -- yes, it's very difficult to communicate to them that their assessment of the problem is inaccurate, and that the real solution, which they regard as bizarre, is, in fact, what will work. But you have no choice. You have to figure out a way to communicate the truth to them. You have to get it across to them in a way they can understand, or things will just go on as they are forever.
The treatment exists. The Democrats just won't work at communicating its urgency to the public. And so the epidemic rages on.
It's been a busy few weeks at Occupy Tacoma. We can't thank you enough for your second package filled with thermal underclothing, fleeces, jackets, hats and facemasks. The weather has been hovering in the 30's all week, and so many occupiers have[...]
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