We’ll survive this. Maybe.

When I was 19 or so, I worked for a time in a completely disreputable health food store located in a dying strip mall in what is now probably suburban Atlanta but was then a small town in Georgia that had aspirations of becoming a suburb of Atlanta.

I know there are reputable health food stores, but this wasn’t one of those. The (mostly absent) proprietor wasn’t making enough money in our core business, which was selling over-priced vitamins and crack-pot cancer cures, so he branched out into survivalist gear and supplies. The store was too small to actually stock survivalist gear and supplies, so we were a distributor. That means we had samples of dehydrated food and water purification kits and such to show customers, who would then order from catalogue, and we got a cut of that sale.

Based on this experience, if some Right wing fringe group takes power and we all have to choose, Rapturist or End Times Survivalist, I’m in the Rapturist camp. Rapturists don’t have to buy or do anything. End Time Survivalism is expensive and a lot of work.

If we don’t want to be either of those things, we’re all going to have to vote, because we’re not lunatics, and we shouldn’t be governed by lunatics. Lunatics like noted conservative historian and media favorite Newt Gingrich, who recently floated his new and innovative idea: imposing a poll test on the voters who don’t vote for conservatives.

Which leads me to the point of this post. I am getting emails from people who live in states where conservatives are frantically passing voter suppression laws. I sympathize, completely. I too believe voting is a right not a privilege, the the US Constitution agrees with me, and I like reader emails. But, I’ve done three of four statute-based posts on these laws, and they’re all about the same. Perhaps they’re all the same because they were all drafted by the same national conservative group?

Anyway, looking at these laws all over the country it seems they are targeting not just minority voters, but students, specifically. There’s a reason for that.

Obviously, Democrats, liberals and other voting enthusiasts are going to need some strategy to counter the disenfranchising effects of these laws.

Here’s an excellent site for stats on youth voting which might be a good place to start.

Secretly Minnesotan

American Conservative magazine has a lengthy and interesting history of Michele Bachmann and the rise of evangelical Christians in the Midwest in the last 40 years. The main driver of change is the battle over abortion:

Go across the Midwest, state by state, and you find the “moderate” wing of the party has shrunk to insignificance. No Republican could get signatures on a ballot petition, let alone win a primary, as a supporter of abortion rights. That wasn’t true just over a decade ago. And the nearly forgotten Ford-Dole ticket of two famed Midwestern Republicans in 1976 wouldn’t elicit much support from GOP voters in the region today.

Bachmann’s strategy will be to unite the Tea Party/Paulists with the social conservatives, which will be a neat trick considering that Paul himself is running. But, after reading the piece, I’ll buy the premise that she’s the only big name candidate in the Republican race who social conservatives will take seriously. She’s got a long, solid history of anti-abortion advocacy, and a far more serious political background than her doppelganger Palin. And, for all the “Hoot-Smalley” idiocy, she’s also a lawyer, which means that she was at least able to stick around long enough to finish law school.

If she does announce, I hope Democrats put some money into her district to encourage her constituents to throw her out because she’s not paying attention to her district. MN-6 is a R+7 district, so it’s no cakewalk for a Democrat, but she had a fairly tight race in 2008 after her first set of stupid public commentary. It would be a hell of a public service to knock her out of Congress.

Elections, How Do They Work?

Speaking of speculation, as DougJ notes, Mitch Daniels is in the middle of a pundit market run-up as our elite overseers try to filter out the Republican candidates that the little people shouldn’t waste time on. He’s one of four acceptable, serious candidates:

DAVID BROOKS: Yes. That’s actually a very good test, because of the people you mentioned [Romney, Pawlenty and Daniels], who did, those are the serious candidates.

And I might throw in another. Jon Huntsman seems to be running. And I suspect he’s a serious candidate. I’m not sure what his odds are. But it’s going to be a — the good thing about this debate was, there were only five people up on the stage.


DAVID BROOKS: When the serious candidates come in, there’s going to be a lot. And they will be very inconclusive. And it will just be hard to have a good debate with so many of the people who are not going to get the nomination up there.

And, so, you know what? I — but I think we will known in 10 days. I have been talking…

JIM LEHRER: Ten days?

DAVID BROOKS: … to some of the candidates. And I think they have a feeling that, within 10 days, the people who are half-in, half-out have to say, yes, I’m in; yes, I’m out.

So, I think we will know very soon, and by the next president — the next debate next month, it will be a real debate.

I realize that many an electron will be spent extolling the seriousness of this new fantastic four, but will the energy of tens of fingers hitting hundreds of keys really matter? Is there still a Republican electorate motivated to go to the polls and vote for a Mormon (bad), a Mormon Obama likes (worse), an Arab (shudder), or a wimp? How exactly is the admittedly immense potential energy of David Brooks’ imprimatur transmitted to the average Republican primary voter? I don’t quite understand the physics or chemistry of that reaction. Because what I see is a party controlled by its rump, a bunch of angry white tea partiers who don’t give a shit about what David Brooks thinks is “real” or “serious”.

Only Real Men Torture Folks…

In wingnutnopia heads explode and reconfigure and then explode anew over and over again. It is a byproduct of dealing with a Black man as President and the stone cold fact that he is smarter than they are.

A week ago it was all Donald Trump and yada, yada, yada as the beltway prepared for the White House Correspondent’s Dinner. The right–as usual–was in full flame Obama mode. Folks were lining up to get the Donald’s back while others took a phrase out of context from an 8,000 word New Yorker piece on Obama’s foreign policy to paint The President as weak and cowardly when it comes to protecting America and being a Leader. Naturally this wingnut meme had to be expressed with an illustration from the Jim Crow art school of scared big-eyed Negroes:

Read more

Second-class citizens deserve second-class ballots

Florida’s brand new voter suppression bill is moving quickly:

Tallahassee, FL — A new 151-page version of the Florida House of Representatives’ elections bill HB 1355 surfaced late last night, making a bad elections bill even worse. The League of Women Voters of Florida, along with other voter groups, is still digesting this massive effort to increase regulations and obstacles for voters, Supervisors of Elections and third-party voter registration groups like the League.

When I reached this section of the linked article, I went to the text of the bill because I honestly did not believe it (pdf):

A new provision added last night would now require voters whose legitimacy is challenged by poll watchers to cast provisional ballots with no opportunity at the polls to defend themselves and cast a regular ballot.

Yup. It’s in there.

The clerk or inspector shall immediately deliver to the challenged person a copy of the oath of the person entering the challenge, and the challenged voter shall be allowed to cast a provisional ballot.

Alternatively, a challenge in accordance with this section may be filed in advance with the supervisor of elections no sooner than 30 days before an election. The supervisor shall promptly provide the election board in the challenged voter’s precinct with a copy of the oath of the person entering the challenge. The challenged voter shall be allowed to cast a provisional ballot.

A simple sworn statement that the voter is not eligible is enough to force any voter to accept a second-class ballot. Wow.

Conservatives in Ohio (like Florida) instituted a strict voter ID regimen based on conservative and media claims of voter fraud. A lot of us said at the time that voter ID laws wouldn’t solve the voter impersonation fraud problem because there was no voter impersonation fraud problem. As predicted, the voter ID laws in Ohio and Florida have had no effect at all, the unsupported claims continue, and are now being used to justify still more draconian measures. This is not at all surprising, because it was never about fraud.

Conservatives and media invented a problem: voter impersonation fraud. They then solved the imaginary problem with strict ID regimes. We’re now moving to enact further laws based on the original, unsupported claim of “voter fraud”, although the “solutions” to the original accusation (ID laws) were put in place. Sound familiar?

Facts don’t matter in this one-sided debate, because it was never about voter fraud, just like the birth certificate “controversy” conservatives and media invented was never about official state records of birth.

With that, I’d suggest that voters should start protecting their own right to vote. If you’re a registered voter and are handed a second-class ballot, start with the presumption that you hold a right that is being summarily denied without a hearing.

Voting is a right (conservatives and media are wrong on the facts, law and history here: a trifecta of wrong) and any person who hands a voter a second-class ballot should have to defend that decision. I’d suggest that voters themselves “flip the script” when denied a first-class ballot and ask the poll worker questions that start with the presumption that the targeted voter is not guilty of fraud. If you’re handed a second-class ballot ask to see the specific rule that guided that decision and then ask if there’s any way under the rule(s) that you may cast a first-class ballot in that election.

That’s the way to approach the process because, despite conservative and media claims to the contrary, voting is not like cashing a check or using a debit card. Those are commercial transactions. Voting is not like driving because driving is a privilege. Voting is a right, and whether you own property or hold accounts or are state licensed to drive an automobile has no bearing whatever on that right.

You’re not at the counter at the DMV, bickering over your car registration. People died for this right, and the liberal position that one valid vote denied is one too many is an absolutely crucial counter to the conservative and media position that denying one or many eligible voters the franchise is no big deal.

Ignore Justice Scalia and his personal opinions, because he’s wrong. Don’t get over it.