“It Is Enough To Make You Swear”

Last night I was researching yet another piece on the disgraceful Republican effort to suppress the vote (I have written about it many times because it profoundly pisses me off, and in the mainstream press Republicans mostly get a pass) and, voilà, on comes Rachel Maddow with a segment on the same thing. Oh, well. I will go on with what I was doing and steal some of St. Rachel’s stuff, including noting the success Republicans have had in reducing voter participation. But first, here are a few headlines and information from the accompanying stories:

Republicans Are Trying to Make Sure Minorities and Young People Don’t Vote This November

In a way, Barack Obama can be blamed for this. In 2008, his historic campaign inspired record turnout, drawing more people to the polls than the country had seen in 40 years. Almost all of the record increase came from black, Hispanic, and young voters, who tended to vote Democratic. Republican governors and GOP-controlled state legislatures, not surprisingly, saw this as a problem. They responded by throwing up a host of new obstacles to voting that disproportionately affect black, Latino, and low-income voters.

Chart of the Day: Kansas Successfully Reduces Voting Rate of Blacks, Young People

Here is a graphic Rachel presented on her show that helps explain the motivation of muck-the-vote right-wingers behind those preceding stories:

2012 exit poll on young voters and blacks

You can see why Republicans went to a lot of trouble to make it harder for young folks and black folks to vote. And we must not forget that Hispanics gave President Obama 71% of their votes in 2012, after he received 67% of their votes in 2008. It was, of course, the 2008 election that first put the fear of Obama’s Allah into Republicans, who saw how powerful those young people, blacks, and Hispanics can be, when it comes to electing Democrats and shutting the door on reactionary politics.

In 2010, capitalizing on a backlash against The Scary Negro in the White’s House, Tea Party-energized Republicans took control of the entire legislature in 25 states, for a gain of 11. The last time they controlled that many statehouses was in 1952. Republicans decided to put to use their new-found state political power by throwing electoral spike strips in front of constituencies who would surely flee from the right-wing governance the GOP was about to unleash. And, as Saint Rachel pointed out, they have been successful. Here is a map she presented:

voting restriction states since 2010

Regarding that depressing reality, Maddow said this:

This is meant to be a Republican-tilted system of voting. If you care about small “d” democracy and the right to vote and everything that went into securing it, it is enough to make you swear.

Yep. I have done a lot of swearing since 2010. I can’t think of anything Republicans have engineered, and they have engineered a lot of bad things—including now politicizing Ebola, for God’s sake—that is worse than their attempts to make it difficult for people to vote. Obviously, they know their message doesn’t have majority appeal. But rather than tailor their message to attract a majority, they would rather retain their parochial vision and use raw and rare political power to discourage their political enemies from exercising what should be, in a still-experimental democracy, their sacred right to vote.

There is some good news in terms of the court battles over these dishonorable and anti-democratic tactics adopted by Republicans. On Thursday night, the U.S. Supreme Court—over the objection of its most committed reactionary members, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito—blocked Wisconsin’s voter ID law from going into effect for the upcoming election. The same night we learned that a federal judge in Texas—an Obama appointee; it matters who gets to appoint judges—struck down that state’s voter ID law, known as SB 14.

Noting that the right to vote “defines our nation as a democracy,” U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos didn’t shy away from describing what Republicans in the Texas legislature were doing when they passed their squash-the-Democratic-vote law:

The Court holds that SB 14 creates an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote, has an impermissible discriminatory effect against Hispanics and African-Americans, and was imposed with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose. The Court further holds that  SB 14 constitutes an unconstitutional poll tax.

One day, perhaps not too far in the future, we won’t have to battle the kind of reactionary nonsense that Judge Ramos struck down. But for now, the fight must continue because Republicans have no shame. They fear young people, blacks, and Hispanics. They see them as their enemies. And they will, apparently, try anything to keep their enemies from the battlefield.

What Would Ronaldus Magnus Do?

The segment below from Saint Rachel Maddow pretty much says it all about the irresponsibility of not raising the debt ceiling and how none other than Ronald Reagan dealt with the half-nuts in his own party who thought about using the threat of default as a political instrument in the 1980s. Democrats should talk about this, leftish bloggers should post this, liberal columnists should write about this, until we are safely, if we can get safely, past this artificial, ideologically-inspired crisis.

And by the way, Democrats should dope-slap the next dumb-ass journalist who says John Boehner an Mitch McConnell have “tough jobs.” They don’t. People who shovel asphalt for a living without health insurance have tough jobs. There ain’t a damn thing tough about keeping the country from defaulting, from stopping the ideological terrorists from blowing up the economy.

All Boehner has to do is allow a clean debt-ceiling bill to come to a vote in the House—it will pass with Democratic votes and a handful of sane Republicans—and all McConnell has to do is tell his Tea Party colleagues to STFU and let the bill pass, all the while encouraging yet another handful of sane Republicans to vote with Democrats to overcome a filibuster.

After all, the worst that can happen to either of them—loss of their jobs—is nothing compared to what will happen to the country if the suicide bombers get close enough to the full faith and credit of the United States to blow it up.

And if the two Republican leaders aren’t patriotic enough to risk their government jobs for the well-being of the country, may they be forever cursed with listening to never-ending audio loops of IQ-killing Sarah Palin and Ivy League-deflating Ted Cruz defending Jesus-loving Rush Limbaugh’sgreat time in the Dominican Republic,” compliments of a secret supply of Satan-sanctioned, sausage-swelling, slut-seducing Viagra. Amen.

Watch:

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Dismantling Democracy

If you don’t already hate, and I mean passionately hate, what the modern Tea Party-dominated Republican Party stands for (but not the Tea Partiers themselves), then you will after you watch a segment posted below from Rachel Maddow’s Monday night show.

This short segment featured the remarkable 81-year-old Democrat Ellie Kinnaird, who resigned her seat in the state senate—which she held for 17 years. The segment demonstrates how Republicans in North Carolina (and in similar ways, elsewhere) are systematically dismantling democracy by making it much more difficult to vote, all because young folks and people of color don’t buy into the virtue-of-selfishness philosophy of Republicans and don’t want to vote for them.

But the segment with Ellie Kinnaird also demonstrates that it is possible to fight back, to fight for democratic values, no matter your age:

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The Sin Of St. Rachel Maddow

Just before President Obama was set to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday (at a 200-acre resort in Palm Springs, to which neither you nor I will ever be able to resort), NBC news reported this:

The U.S. secretly traced a massive cyberespionage operation against the 2008 presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and John McCain to hacking  units backed by the People’s Republic of China, prompting  high level warnings to Chinese officials to stop such activities,  U.S. intelligence officials tell NBC News.

This leak, obviously, had a purpose, which was to publicly highlight the ongoing, but mostly secret, complaints from the U.S. about Chinese computer-hacking. We were essentially trying to embarrass the Chinese because behind-the-scenes efforts to get them to stop hacking our information systems and stealing our secrets wasn’t working. All well and good, as far as I’m concerned. We should be embarrassing authoritarians everywhere.

For their part, the Chinese, desirous of some American good will before Xi Jinping met with President Obama, granted passports to family members of the blind Chinese activist, Chen Guangcheng, who is here in the United States, far from the tyranny that still characterizes the Chinese government.

Now, keep that last line in mind: China, despite its incremental turn towards capitalism, is still, especially compared to the United States, a bastion of communist bullies who watch over the population truly like Big Brother. But given the news and the punditry of the last few days, you wouldn’t know that. You would think that President Obama is a despot ever bit as despotic as Xi Jinping or any other tyrant in the world wishing to “spy” on his people.

This rubbish, unfortunately, has infected the minds of a lot of people I respect, people on the left, people who I have sainted on this blog. In this case, I’m talking about St. Rachel Maddow, who ended her Friday broadcast with this commentary on the Obama-Xi meeting:

…the Chinese government on the occasion of [Xi Jinping’s] visit to the U.S., they decided to finally give passports to the family members of this Chinese dissident who took refuge in our country from Chinese persecutions. Now his mother and his brother can visit him here, all of a sudden because of this, because of this meeting.

[She shows a video clip of Obama meeting with Xi Jinping] This was the scene in Palm Springs about 90 minutes ago, President Obama greeting the Chinese president, and they sat down for the first of their big, important meetings.

And this is kind of how these things are supposed to go on the sidelines of these meetings, right?  On the occasion of a high profile meeting with the President of the United States, on that occasion, you know what? Kindnesses towards dissidents should suddenly become possible. Other countries should think we expect that. Contact with us, desire to have good relations with us, is supposed to drive other countries towards better human rights policies and better civil rights policies, because that’s what we are supposed to stand for.

So far, so good. St. Rachel is acting the saint, saying everything right, analyzing the situation perfectly. Then, as many on the left are wont to do, she gives in to temptation and commits the sin of Big Brother-is-watching-us hysteria:

So the timing is tough right now, right? We like to think of ourselves as the good guys, where the international cost of doing business with United States of America is that you have to be less evil. It would be a lot easier for the United States to pull off this attempted embarrassment of the Chinese government over them hacking our politicians, were it not for the coincident revelations floating out of our own media this week about our own government mercilessly hacking us.

There it was. In front of God and everyone. Rachel Maddow committing the sin of a ridiculous comparison between the United States government’s data aggregation policy—authorized by Congress and overseen by the judicial branch—and an authoritarian communist country actually spying on its people. There she was implicitly putting President Obama and Xi Jinping in the same “hacking” boat.

If it weren’t for St. Rachel’s many virtues, if it weren’t for her former wind-driven-snow pureness, I would have to take back the halo I have put over her noggin. For now, though, it is prayer she needs. Lots of it. Prayer that she, and other liberals and progressives, will come to their senses and realize that what has been revealed so far in what is now being called the “NSA scandal,” is not Big Brother watching over us in order to then force us to get our minds right. That is what Big Brother is doing in China, not the United States.

And until someone shows me how aggregating data, a policy designed to help the government uncover terrorist plots, is a massive violation of the civil rights of Americans, I will continue to reject the notion that President Obama, or President Bush before him, is using the National Security Agency as a spying apparatus designed to arrest Americans and put them in prison or under house arrest like the Chinese do.

Finally, for those of you out there who buy into the notion that your government is out to spy on you and catch you looking at porn, or secretly emailing your mistress, or worshiping a very strange god, or whatever it is you don’t want the government to catch you doing, consider this recent report from NBC News:

The National Security Agency has at times mistakenly intercepted the private email messages and phone calls of Americans who had no link to terrorism, requiring Justice Department officials to report the errors to a secret national security court and destroy the data, according to two former U.S. intelligence officials. 

First, imagine the Chinese government admitting such a thing and rectifying such a mistake. And then imagine the Chinese government allowing that story to be widely dispersed in China.

Then start praying for St. Rachel and other liberals who are embarrassing themselves by way of this—so far—phony NSA “scandal.”

The Associated Press “Scandal” In Ten Minutes

If you, like me, were a little hazy on the details surrounding the Justice Department’s peeking into the telephone records of Associated Press reporters, the good news is that after you see the segment below from St. Rachel’s show on Thursday night, you will be up to speed.

Just keep in mind that, especially in these days of high-tech communications, there will always be a tension between the government’s absolute mandate to keep the people safe from foreign enemies and the absolute necessity of a free press:

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Missouri Among The States That May Have To Allow Felons To Possess Assault Rifles

“The question next week is going to be, Who runs the United States Senate? Do the people really run this place or does the NRA run it?”

—Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy to Rachel Maddow

wworthless Republicans!” is all I can say to this:

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Pass this “Moms Demand Action” video on to citizens who might get inspired to do something about the pusillanimity in Congress regarding sensible gun laws:

Vietnam, Iraq, And How We Can’t Trust What We See

I am still trying to process what I learned in the segment below, put together by Rachel Maddow.

If you have read anything about Richard Nixon, you know it is entirely believable that he helped prolong the Vietnam War in order to first win the presidency in 1968. But even knowing something about the strange and cynical mind of Richard Nixon didn’t prepare me for the following. It is a must watch:

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Finally, here is the segment that followed, featuring Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Secretary of State Colin Powell’s former chief of staff:

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“We’re Gonna Try To Take This Country Back For The Lord”

In case you didn’t see the following segment from Rachel Maddow’s show on Friday, she pretty thoroughly covered the frightening attempt by Arkansas conservatives, and conservatives elsewhere, to set the clock back to Back Alley Standard Time:

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Government Jobs Are People Too

I know I posted a segment from The Rachel Maddow Show earlier today, but I just have to post the segment below because it is the best 8 1/2 minutes you will spend, in terms of hearing a rebuttal to what right-wingers claim both about the nature of government employment and the alleged radical nature of President Obama and his administration.

Before you watch the segment, here is a graphic St. Rachel uses to make the point that what was standard practice in fighting recessions in the past has been turned on its head during the Obama presidency. The graph plots the change in government employment during the 1981 recession when Reagan was president, the 1990 recession when George H.W. Bush was president, the 2001 recession when George W. Bush was president, and the Great Recession when the Scary Negro socialist/communist was president:

government employment and recession

As you can clearly see, Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II did not seek to shrink government, and government employment, when the economy slowed down. That would have been stupid. And neither did President Obama initially seek to eliminate government jobs. Part of his stimulus plan put in place early in 2009 was designed to help states keep teachers, cops, firemen, and other government workers on the job. But that stimulus, much maligned by Republicans as a “failure,” is long gone. And nothing like it is coming back.

Here is the St. Rachel segment, which you should commit to memory, especially those of you who have hard-headed conservatives in your midst:

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The Republican Party Crackup, Presented By Rachel Maddow

No one on television quite ties it all together like the charming St. Rachel:

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