Our Guest Blogger is Billy Corriher, Associate Director of Research for Legal Progress.
Faced with data suggesting over a million eligible voters could be disenfranchised by a new Voter ID law, the state of Texas was grilled on Friday by the three-judge panel hearing its lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The Voting Rights Act of 1965 requires states with a history of racial discrimination in voting to ?pre-clear? election law changes with DOJ, and Texas filed suit in a D.C. federal court after DOJ refused to approve the Voter ID law. The judges were skeptical that Texas had met its burden of showing that DOJ should have cleared the Voter ID law as non-discriminatory, with one judge arguing the statute?s ?burden falls disproportionately on minorities . . . .?
Studies have shown that millions of Americans may be disenfranchised by new Voter ID measures pushed by Republican state legislators. These laws will have a disproportionate impact on the poor, the elderly, and minorities. As many as 25% of black voters could be disenfranchised by Voter ID laws, and Attorney General Eric Holder has called such measures a ?poll tax.? Texas presented expert testimony to counter DOJ?s statistics, but even the one Republican-appointed judge on the panel said the state?s expert ?took enormous hits? during cross-examination.
Texas’s Voter ID law was pushed through the legislature under a streamlined process ?against a backdrop of huge Hispanic growth.? Roughly 90 percent of the state?s population growth in the last decade can be attributed to minorities. Attorneys for Texas voters argued this growth in minority voters prompted state legislators to pass the Voter ID bill.
Supporters of Voter ID laws say the requirement to show identification when voting will help prevent voter fraud. But even an investigation by the Texas’ attorney general could not point to any recent examples of proven voter fraud. True voter fraud is extraordinarily rare, and even proponents of Voter ID laws cannot provide examples. This is a solution in search of a problem.
These laws are appear to be motivated by a desire to keep certain groups, which often vote for Democrats, from casting their votes on election day. A Republican legislator in Pennsylvania said that Pennsylvania’s new Voter ID law would allow Mitt Romney to win the state. The political motives behind Texas’ law may be evidenced by the fact that the law designates a gun permit as an acceptable ID, but not a student ID. Whatever the motive, these laws clearly impact certain demographic groups more than others.
The court is expected to rule soon on the Texas statute, and its decision could be appealed directly to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has hinted that the Voting Rights Act?s ?preclearance? requirement could be unconstitutional. But unless the high court is prepared to throw out voting rights protections that have been renewed by Congress several times in the past 50 years, the state of Texas will face a high burden in proving that its Voter ID law does not rob black and Hispanic voters of their right to vote.
by Andrew Freedman, via Climate Central
As the climate has warmed during the past several decades, there has been a growing imbalance between record daily high temperatures in the contiguous U.S. and record daily lows. A study published in 2009 found that rather than a 1-to-1 ratio, as would be expected if the climate were not warming, the ratio has been closer to 2-to-1 in favor of warm temperature records during the past decade (2000-2009). This finding cannot be explained by natural climate variability alone, the study found, and is instead consistent with global warming.
When you look at individual years, the imbalance can be more stark. For example, through late June 2012, daily record highs were outnumbering record daily lows by a ratio of 9-to-1.The study used computer models to project how the records ratios might shift in future decades as the amount of greenhouse gases in the air continues to increase. The results showed that the ratio of daily record highs to daily record lows in the lower 48 states could soar to 20-to-1 by mid-century, and 50-to-1 by 2100.
Andrew Freedman is the Senior Science Writer for Climate Central. This piece was originally published at Climate Central and was reprinted with permission.
In an interview with Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) this morning, CNN’s Soledad O’Brien did what many television anchors have failed to do in discussions about the clean energy loan guarantee program: come prepared with facts.
Senator Johnson attempted to re-hash “pants on fire” GOP talking points on Solyndra and the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program. But rather than take the claims at face value, O’Brien, who had clearly done her homework, easily deflated Johnson’s claims with a blunt statement of the facts.
Late in the interview, O’Brien incredulously responded to Johnson’s rant about the Soviet Union: “You surely are not suggesting that the concept behind Solyndra and other green energy technologies like Solyndra is comparable to the Soviet Union and Cuba, right?”
Johnson confirms he is indeed comparing loan guarantees — a policy long supported by mainstream Republicans — to Soviet economics. Ironically, Johnson’s manufacturing company, Pacur, expanded in the 1980′s with the help of a $2.5 million government-subsidized loan.
Check out the interview below. As candidates continue to push the bogus “crony capitalism” messaging around clean energy, let’s hope more television reporters can be this prepared:
The Boy Scouts of America announced today that it will continue its long-standing policy of discrimination against LGBT scouts and scout leaders and will take no action on proposals to reconsider that policy. This comes despite growing pressure to lift the ban from Eagle Scouts, an Ohio mom removed from her position as a Cub Scout den leader purely because she is a lesbian, and two prominent national board members.
A spokesman said a secret 11-person committee, appointed in 2010 to study the issue, “came to the conclusion that this policy is absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts.” The group dismissed the announcements by Ernst & Young CEO James Turley and AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, both members of the BSA national board, that the group ought to lift its ban. In a statement, the group’s leadership announced:
Scouting believes that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to achieve the life-changing benefits to youth through Scouting. While not all board members may personally agree with this policy, and may choose a different direction for their own organizations, BSA leadership agrees this is the best policy for the organization.
Last month, the BSA said that a resolution introduced in April proposing that local chartering units be able to determine whether to welcome LGBT participants and leaders would be “handled with respect.” With no apparent board consideration, the group says it will take no further action on the proposal.
Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin called BSA’s move “a missed opportunity of colossal proportions.” With 86 percent of Fortune 500 companies explicitly protecting gay and lesbian employees from discrimination, LGBT servicemembers now free to serve openly in the U.S. military, and every other major national youth organization opting not to discriminate, BSA has opted to stand alone in clinging to a policy that drives its membership down and flies in the face of its own core tenets.
An IWW classic, direct from the Little Red Songbook.
video details and more
Read The Full Article:
It's looking like Mitt Romney might name his VP pick pretty soon, which is probably a good idea given that the release of the pick will result in a few days of positive coverage when the news media is consumed with something other than what Bain Capital did when, or what juicy nuggets might be contained within Romney's hidden tax returns. But there's a downside: once we do get to the Republican convention, the VP nominee will be old news, so the media can pay much more attention to intra-party squabbling. And nobody likes a good squabble more than Sarah Palin. Remember her?
The Romney camp will not comment on Palin, or on plans for the convention, but one adviser associated with the campaign suggested that Palin would be prohibited from speaking at the Republican convention by her contract with Fox News. "It's true I'm prohibited from doing some things," Palin says, "but this is the first I've heard anyone suggest that as an excuse, er, reason to stay away from engaging in the presidential race. I'm quite confident Fox's top brass would never strip anyone of their First Amendment rights in this regard." (Fox says her contract would not prohibit speaking at the convention if she sought permission.)
Palin is keeping the dates open in late August, just in case. In any event, she says, she plans to be politically active between now and November, starting with a Michigan Tea Party appearance, sponsored by Americans for Prosperity. "No matter the Romney campaign strategy," she says, "I intend to do all I can to join others in motivating the grassroots made up of independents and constitutional conservatives who can replace Barack Obama at the ballot box."
So here's the dilemma. If Romney doesn't let Palin speak at the convention, we get all kinds of stories about pissed off Tea Partiers denouncing Romney for forsaking their Saint Joan of the Tundra, Fox sends her there anyway so she's just hanging around, and she steals a not insignificant portion of Romney's thunder. But if he does let her speak, the American public gets reminded that the Republican party is dominated by a bunch of paranoid extremist know-nothings, and Romney looks weak for giving in to them.
Right now, Romney and his advisors are trying to figure out if they can send her on an urgent four-month diplomatic mission to the Arctic Circle. The trouble with Sarah Palin is that nobody tells her what to do. I can't wait for her to run for president in four years.
How desperate is Romneyland to not talk about Bain? So desperate that they trotted out former George H. W. Bush chief of staff John Sununu to attack the president as a pothead foreigner who doesn't have a clue about creating jobs and needs to "learn how to be an American."
According to Sununu, Obama "spent his early years in Hawaii smoking something" before moving to Indonesia before finally "he came to the U.S." to be "a community organizer, which is a socialized structure." And to make it even worse: he did it in a Chicago, home of the thugs.
Watch it here:
SUNUNU: This guy doesn?t understand how to create jobs. So there is no surprise ? there should be because of that statement no surprise on why he failed so miserably over the last four years, in terms of job creation. He has no idea how the American system functions, and we shouldn?t be surprised about that, because he spent his early years in Hawaii smoking something, spent the next set of years in Indonesia, another set of years in Indonesia, and, frankly, when he came to the U.S. he worked as a community organizer, which is a socialized structure, and then got into politics in Chicago.I'll spare you the details of how Obama actually has created more private sector jobs in the last two and a half years than George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush in their 12 combined years (data here) because this really doesn't have anything to do with substance. Instead, it has everything to do with Romneyland doing everything in its power to distract from the Bain and tax return questions swirling around their candidate.
Thus, you have the Romney campaign not just putting Sununu on Fox, but also organizing a conference call explicitly designed to attack the president's patriotism. As NBC's Mark Murray said of that call, during which Sununu said, "I wish this president would learn how to be an American":
And as for whether or not President Obama is a real American, maybe John Sununu and Mitt Romney should ask Osama bin Laden what he thinks.
8:58 AM PT: Classic nopology from Sununu:Sununu clarifies: "The president has to learn the American formula for creating business...if I didn't give all that detail, I apologize."
I thought that, given all the pervasive bank crimes over the last several years, we wouldn't have a time when the roof appeared to cave in on the financial industry. But I'm getting that feeling today. All of the criminality and venality and greed seems[...]
Read The Full Article:
The business owner's version of "the dog ate my homework" these days is "we're not hiring because we can't find workers with the skills we need." Various business lobby groups like the National Federation of Independent Business and the National Association of Manufacturers are pushing that line hard, trying to pin continuing high unemployment on the alleged suckitude of American workers and justify continuing to refer to themselves as job creators even as they create damn few actual jobs. But the facts just don't support it.
Mike Konczal rounds up research showing that job recruitment intensity on the part of businesses is low. During the recession, businesses didn't have to try much at all to get a slew of ridiculously overqualified applicants for any job, and they got used to that. Now that things are picking up a little, employers are still spoiled, expecting to be able to snap their fingers and get what they want. And if that's not the way it works out, they're content to just sit around waiting and lamenting the lack of qualified applicants, rather than actually making an effort to recruit workers:
What does it mean for recruitment intensity to fall? This recruitment intensity, according to the research, "is shorthand for the other instruments employers use to influence the pace of new hires ? e.g., advertising expenditures, screening methods, hiring standards, and the attractiveness of compensation packages. These instruments affect the number and quality of applicants per vacancy, the speed of applicant processing, and the acceptance rate of job offers." This margin for trying to fill jobs is ignored, or assumed away, in most of the major economic models of unemployment and hiring.So basically, it's like this: business puts up a couple halfhearted ads offering $10 an hour and no benefits for a job requiring substantial skill and training, then waits for the applications to pour in. Only now, there are some applications but not thousands of desperate people begging for the job. The business takes its sweet time looking through those applications and getting back to people, some of whom may by now have found equivalently good jobs. Business then complains to reporters that there just aren't enough qualified applicants for the jobs it's trying so hard to fill. Reporter dutifully publishes article blaming unemployment on unemployed people.
Meanwhile, people who really do need jobs are left hanging, waiting for interviews, waiting to hear about jobs for which they've interviewed, wondering why the jobs that are out there pay so little considering the qualifications required. They're waiting, struggling, hoping to hear. But the owners of the companies are too busy explaining that their homework was eaten by dogs to actually hire anyone.
David Crary at the Associated Press just broke the news that "the Boy Scouts of America on Tuesday emphatically reaffirmed its policy of excluding gays." A month ago, when I wrote that it was almost time to return to the Boy Scouts because they were going to dump the policy, I apparently placed too much faith in those who wanted to reform the organization. I'm told, so far, that the LDS church (hmm, don't we know a prominent public figure who is Mormon?) and the Southern Baptists have a lot of power internally, and that they blocked any movement into the 21st century. Here's Crary's quote that suggests that (emphasis mine):
The Scouts' chief executive, Bob Mazzuca, contended that most Scout families support the policy, which applies to both leaders and Scouts. "The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers and at the appropriate time and in the right setting," Mazzuca said.
The Human Rights Campaign's press release, quoting new president Chad Griffin, gets it right: ?This is a missed opportunity of colossal proportions. With the country moving toward inclusion, the leaders of the Boy Scouts of America have instead sent a message to young people that only some of them are valued. These adults could have taught the next generation of leaders the value of respect, yet they?ve chosen to teach division and intolerance.? Anyone wanna bet on how long it will take them to change? Surely not as long as it took the Southern Baptists to acknowledge they got it wrong on slavery, with an apology that finally arrived in 1995. (And no, I am not comparing the Boy Scouts' exclusion of gay people to slavery. Not even close. I'm just being ironical, 'k?)
If only the far more progressive Girl Scouts would expand to add some all-boy troops! Herewith, a flashback to my youth: