Friends Don’t Let Friends Read Andrew Sullivan, Part [n]

Further to my disdain below, I can’t say anything to gloss what Andrew writes in tonight’s RNC liveblog.

MSKG - De idioot bij de vijver - Frits Van den Berghe (1926)

Truly, all you need to know about Andrew’s political and intellectual honesty is right there:

8:18 p.m. We have to answer this core question: how is it that liberal democracy in America is now flirting with strongman, ethno-nationalist authoritarianism? What happened to the democratic center?

It seems to me that the right bears the hefty majority of responsibility, moving from principled opposition to outright nullification of a presidency, trashing every important neutral institution, and now bad-mouthing the country they hope to “govern.” But the left’s abandonment of empiricism and liberalism – its rapid descent into neo-Marxist dogma, its portrayal of American history as a long unending story of white supremacy, its coarse impugning of political compromise and incrementalism, its facile equation of disagreement with bigotry – has also played a part. Liberal democracy needs liberal norms and manners to survive. Which is why it is now on life-support.

In between, moderate Christianity, once a unifying cultural fabric creating a fragile civil discourse, has evaporated into disparate spirituality on one side and fundamentalist dogma on the other, leaving us with little in the center to hold us morally together.

Annnnd, Scene!

Have at it, friends.

Image:  Frits Van den Berghe, The Idiot by the Pond1926



You can’t base a restrictive law on an imaginary fear

Good piece about the work behind the latest win on voting rights:

The debate over state voter-ID laws in the lead-up to November’s elections may have gained a national audience, but the legal action has played out largely in Midwest and Southern courtrooms to this point. That’s not to say Seattle hasn’t been well-represented. University of Washington political science professor Matt Barreto has been in the middle of most of it. Or at least his research has.
The 37-year-old professor has lately been a man in demand. The research he and his colleague, New Mexico professor Gabriel Sanchez, are becoming known for has become part of the standard playbook for lawyers challenging voter-ID laws. Using statistically sound large-swath surveys on a state-by-state basis, Barreto’s findings have demonstrated that not only are blacks, Latinos, and minorities less likely to possess valid photo ID, they’re also less likely to have the documents necessary to obtain such ID.
These laws have proliferated in the wake of the 2013 Supreme Court case Shelby County v. Holder, in which the court, by a controversial 5-4 vote, struck down a section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 requiring states to obtain federal preclearance before changing voting regulations or practices. With the federal preclearance hurdle removed, states that pass voter-ID laws can move quickly to implement them—and have, to the dismay of many, including the national legal arm of the American Civil Liberties Union.
Last month the effort logged its biggest victory to date when a Federal court struck down a Wisconsin law, signed by Republican Governor Scott Walker in 2011, requiring voters to show photo identification before casting a ballot.
“[Judge Adelman] just systematically dismantled the voter-fraud myth in a way that went beyond any other court decision that I have seen,” Young continues. “He said, correctly, that when it comes to election integrity, the perpetrator of the voter-fraud myth are the ones that are undermining voter confidence in the electoral process, not actual voter fraud . . . He said you can’t pass a restrictive law based on an imaginary fear.”

Who knows what will happen when it gets to the US Supreme Court, but the truth is the laws have gotten more and more restrictive. We’ve gone from “voter ID” when I first started following this to “photo ID” and now we’re accepting only certain forms of photo ID.

Ohio’s original ID law contained some protections for voters who could not jump through the hoops; utility bills, “government documents” – there was a genuine effort to recognize and address the problems that real people run into. But that wasn’t enough, the compromise wasn’t acceptable to the GOP base and looking back I don’t think it was ever going to be enough. Because, what’s “enough”? Voter impersonation fraud is imaginary. We’ll never be able to prove we fixed voter impersonation fraud with Ohio’s less restrictive ID law because that problem never existed to begin with.

This is the Texas law. We’ll never know if this one fixed the imaginary problem either:

Here is a list of the acceptable forms of photo ID:
• Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
• Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
• Texas personal identification card issued by DPS
• Texas concealed handgun license issued by DPS
• United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph
• United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph
• United States passport

The voter fraud fraudsters have all but given up on arguing voter fraud. Now they argue that the ID laws are intended to promote public trust in the election process. That’s a dilemma for voting rights enthusiasts, too, because as the judge in the Wisconsin decision pointed out voter fraud fraudsters created the lack of confidence they’re now “fixing”:

“He said, correctly, that when it comes to election integrity, the perpetrator of the voter-fraud myth are the ones that are undermining voter confidence in the electoral process, not actual voter fraud . . .

I guess they’ll have to tell us when voter impersonation fraud is solved and thus their confidence is restored since this entire issue now rests completely on their “feelings.”



I Want to Ride My Bicycle, I Want to Ride It Where I Like

Finally, someone speaks truth to power on the issue of riding a bicycle on a sidewalk:

While we do have an existing network of bike boulevards stretching across the city [Vancouver BC], they resemble an afterthought; relegated to residential side streets with very few amenities (10th Avenue, Ontario Street, Woodland Drive, etc). To borrow a transportation planning term, travelling the “last mile” to a restaurant, shop or theatre is where the problem lies. If you’re headed somewhere along Main Street, Commercial Drive, Robson Street or Broadway, for example, you are fully expected to run with the bulls, and rub shoulders with massive cars, trucks and buses travelling twice your speed. Trust me, it’s not for the faint at heart.

In that situation, the cyclist is legally obliged to take the entire lane, effectively doubling the amount of road space they are entitled to, but risking the ire of passing motorists. It’s far more secure, and less confrontational to ride the sidewalk to your ultimate destination, especially if you are cycling with children, as I often do. It’s not a coincidence that sidewalk cycling is most prominent on these busier streets. As Mikael Colville-Anderson often says: “Badly-behaved cyclists are usually just cyclists with inadequate infrastructure. Or none at all.”

When faced with the choice of being sandwiched between a just-opened car door and a SUV, and riding on the sidewalk where there’s hardly any traffic, I’m on my bike on the sidewalk. I wish I weren’t, but it’s often the least-worst alternative. And sometimes I’ll still do it if there’s a bike lane on the street, if the bike lane is two narrow strips of paint that come and go as the street widens or narrows, and is completely ignored by drivers. I consider my presence on the sidewalk part of my plan to die in my sleep at a ripe old age. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, the city can save their paint and skip marking bike lanes – it’s a “compromise” that’s more of a sop than real solution. The city just puts them down where it’s convenient to show that they’re “bike friendly” without doing the hard work of carving out a few real, separate bike lanes.

(via)



Don’t Give Your Heart Away

Let’s assume you’re a Republican governor who wants to be president. You realize that, for all the bluster and bullshit of the last couple of years, that Obama is the odds-on favorite to get a second term. What would you do to position yourself for 2016?

Well, first, you wouldn’t run this time around. You realize you’ll have to appear reasonable to win in 2016, and you don’t need six months of Neanderthal debate responses on your record four years from now. You’d hope the weakest of the weak sisters running would win the nomination, but since that didn’t happen, you need to put a torpedo into Romney. He’s a real threat, for a couple of reasons. First, you aren’t part of the Mormon/Bain/NeoCon mafia that would ascend be in charge during his administration, and, second, there’s no other political office that would keep you in the limelight until 2020, which is a political eternity away.

So, you give the weakest possible convention speech in support of Romney. Then, you attend church every week, hitting your knees and praying that you get another opportunity to smother Romney with a pillow. Lo and behold, the Blessed Virgin Mary answers your prayers by sending a gigantic storm straight through your state. And you do the opposite of what a good Romney surrogate would do: you appear on every morning show singing the praises of President Obama. That gives every Beltway Centrist instant wood, fucks Romney, and helps you by setting you up to be credible when you turn around and blame Obama when everything isn’t perfectly cleaned up a few days, weeks or months after the storm (you’ll pick the time that’s best for you.)

This is just a long-winded way of saying that, whatever else he is, apparently including “likeable”, Chris Christie is a very shrewd politician who is ruthless in his pursuit of the Presidency, and unless you see every goddam thing he does in that context, you’re missing an essential truth about the man.

(BTW, just to be clear – I don’t think Christie prayed for a storm, just an opportunity. God works in mysterious ways, and provided him with the perfect storm and the perfect opportunity.)



Do You Feel Lucky (Enough To Mess With A Nun)? Well, Do Ya’ Punk?

Before we get all whipped up into that necessary frenzy that will carry us across the finish line 60 days hence…here’s a look back at what was to me the most moving speech from last night that wasn’t by an ex-President:

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Oh! Does she bring it — joyfully and hard — to the very core or the matter.

You can’t lead a good life, you can’t lead a good society, if you live only for yourself.  She quoted Matthew 25:40 — “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me…”* and while the committedly Jewish atheist in my might counter with the more direct Hillel aphorism,**  [Ooops.  As commenter Kirbster notes, it was Elizabeth Warren who shoved Matthew into Romney/Ryan’s grill.  I was having too good a time last night… and somehow persuaded myself I’d heard that lovely line from Sister Simone as I relistened today.  Remember, folks eyewitnesses are just as reliable as one is….]

If I were Paul Ryan, and if I had that last residue of conscience left in me, I would be quaking in my [mountain climber’s] boots just now.  Sister Simone ripped away the cloak of sanctity with which the GOP has shrouded so much of its viciousness over the last years — the venom directed at GLBT folk, the terror in the face of women claiming agency, the desperate drive to dismember any claims on either self-interest or conscience that the poor may have on the society as a whole.

Best part?  When she reminded Paul Ryan that the bishops…the bishops! and not “merely” some nuns!…had condemned his budget as immoral.  1A:  stating proudly that her version of a pro-life commitment extends to those who are in fact living among us.

A truly great speech, and one is rocking me into the right mood for what’s to come.

*I grabbed the King James version, which is not what I think she quoted last night.  But I do love the music.

**”If I am not for myself, who will be for me?  If I am only for myself, who am I?  If not now, when?”



Full Tank Of Hatred, Little Discipline Left

At least one billionaire conservative’s pet super-PAC is vowing to go into the depths of hatred, bigotry and racism that even the McCain campaign wouldn’t touch, and will do so in October as the presidential election season nears the home stretch.

The plan, which is awaiting approval, calls for running commercials linking Mr. Obama to incendiary comments by his former spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., whose race-related sermons made him a highly charged figure in the 2008 campaign.

“The world is about to see Jeremiah Wright and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way,” says the proposal, which was overseen by Fred Davis and commissioned by Joe Ricketts, the founder of the brokerage firm TD Ameritrade. Mr. Ricketts is increasingly putting his fortune to work in conservative politics.

The $10 million plan, one of several being studied by Mr. Ricketts, includes preparations for how to respond to the charges of race-baiting it envisions if it highlights Mr. Obama’s former ties to Mr. Wright, who espouses what is known as “black liberation theology.”

The group suggested hiring as a spokesman an “extremely literate conservative African-American” who can argue that Mr. Obama misled the nation by presenting himself as what the proposal calls a “metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln.”

Oh please let that be Herman Cain.  That would be the most awesome thing ever.

And if the name Joe Ricketts sounds familiar, he’s the guy who bought himself a GOP senate candidate in Nebraska’s primary this week, funding Deb Fischer’s out-of-nowhere win over state AG Jon Bruning in a last minute victory to take on Bob Kerrey for Ben Nelson’s seat.  And Joe Ricketts plays hardball with his billions.

A copy of a detailed advertising plan was obtained by The New York Times through a person not connected to the proposal who was alarmed by its tone. It is titled “The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: The Ricketts Plan to End His Spending for Good.”

The proposal was presented last week in Chicago to associates and family members of Mr. Ricketts, who is also the patriarch of the family that owns the Chicago Cubs.

Brian Baker, president and general counsel of a super PAC called the Ending Spending Action Fund, said Mr. Ricketts had studied several advertising proposals in recent months and had not signed off on a specific approach to taking on Mr. Obama.

Joe Ricketts is prepared to spend significant resources in the 2012 election in both the presidential race and Congressional races,” Mr. Baker said in an interview Wednesday. “He is very concerned about the future direction of the country and plans to take a stand.

Citizens United means Ricketts and others like him can publicly announce they are spending their fortunes to buy our government and your vote through awful campaign smears, and that doing so is free speech protected by the Constitution.  Oh, and he owns the Cubbies too.  Isn’t America great?

[UPDATE]  Turns out Mr. Gubment Spends Too Much here sought a $200 million public finance deal to renovate Wrigley Field.  Frees up a bunch of green so he can spend it on attacking the President, huh?

Can’t make this stuff up, folks.



Cainspiracy

Our gov’s in jeopardy:

What happened to Herman Cain is what the Democrats intend to do to whoever the Republican nominee turns out to be. They know they can’t win a debate on the economy or on President Obama’s record, so they will do everything they can to distract the voters’ attention from those matters, which should be decisive, and instead turn the focus to the GOP candidate and his or her alleged foibles. If Republican voters allow that to happen by nominating a candidate with baggage that permits the Democrats to turn him into the next Herman Cain, it is all too likely that President Obama will be re-elected, with consequences that can hardly be overestimated.

– Powerline Blogger Hinderaker

These idiots honsetly believe that the libruls did Cain in. Is there even a single liberal commentator — in the blogosphere or elsewhere — who wasn’t rooting for Cain against Romney? (Don’t get me wrong, I like Newt almost as much and if Cain’s demise helps Gingrich win the nomination, it’s all good.)