Relevant excerpts from “Election Meltdown”

I suppose this is going to become a recurring series, where I “doom-read” (similar to “doom-scrolling“) some relevant book related to whatever horrible thing that’s currently happening in the world.

In today’s post, I share some interesting excerpts I found while reading Election Meltdown by Rick Hansen. I found a particular passage so amusing and ridiculous that I had to tweet about it. Rick Hansen, the author, ended up retweeting me. Nice!

Onto the excerpts!

In light of recent events, where the current administration is doing everything in their power to cast doubt on the results of the upcoming elections, I was particular amused at the types of people they are putting in charge of their voter suppression efforts.

The following deals with purging voter rules.

“From this “suspense” list, he and his assistants tried to identify “foreign sounding” names to determine whether the list was excluding large numbers of noncitizens from registering. He admitted that this methodology required making “subjective” judgments.

The ACLU’s Dale Ho asked Richman why he had coded some Kansas residents on the suspense list with the last name “Lopez” as foreign and others not, but he did not get a good answer. Then Ho continued with a devastating line of questioning:

Q. Just hypothetically, Dr. Richman, if you came across the name Carlos Murguia, would you code that as foreign or non-foreign?
A. I’m sorry, could you, please, spell the name.
Q. Sure. Carlos, C-a-r-l-o-s, Murguia, M-u-r-g-u-i-a.
A. Probably.
Q. Probably what?
A. Probably would code it as foreign.
Q. Okay. Are you aware that Carlos Murguia is a United States District Court Judge who sits in this courthouse?
A. I am not.”

Another form of voter suppression is strict identification requirements. As it turns out, that is trying to find a problem where none exists.

“I had been searching for proof of a single case since the 1980s, anywhere in the United States, in which someone tried to steal an election through impersonation fraud—the only kind of fraud strict voter ID laws are designed to prevent. It is an exceedingly dumb way to steal an election, because one would have to hire people to go to the polls claiming to be someone else, hope that the people being impersonated had not yet voted, hope that the people being paid to commit felonies would actually cast a secret ballot the way the payer wants, and repeat this process undetected on a large enough scale to sway an election. It is no surprise that the News21 database covering a dozen years contained only ten possible individual cases of such fraud, and none involving a conspiracy to steal an election. Election law professor Justin Levitt found thirty-one possible impersonators casting votes out of over a billion votes cast in the United States between 2000 and 2014”

In 2013, when the Supreme Court struck down the Voting Rights Act, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (we will miss you, RBG. Thank you for the trails you’ve blazed and the things you’ve done) wrote:

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a dissent for the four more liberal justices, lamenting that “throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”

Of course, despite most people (of rational thought) realizing that voter fraud is not a real problem, the GOP is quite successful at implementing a variety of voter suppression laws across the United States.

“Alas, the intellectual collapse of the voter fraud myth has done little to slow down the pace of laws, passed almost exclusively in Republican states, that make it harder to register and vote. Instead, green lights from the Supreme Court have accelerated the pace and deepened the reach of these laws, even as lawsuits and the commission’s failure undermined their premises, and even as some lower courts have rejected or softened some of the more extreme attempts. According to a Brennan Center survey, twenty-five states enacted new restrictions on voting and registration from 2010 to 2018: “14 states have more restrictive voter ID laws in place (and six states have implemented strict photo ID requirements), 12 have laws making it harder for citizens to register, seven cut back on early voting opportunities, and three made it harder to restore voting rights for people with past criminal convictions.”

But not all hope is lost!

“Democrats have learned that campaigning on voter suppression works, for the simple reason that people are offended by efforts to make it harder for them or their friends, relatives, and allies to vote. Voting rights has become a political issue like health care or climate change. The shift toward Democrats in states such as North Carolina was partially a reaction to Republican legislative overreach on voting rules and procedures. The issue of voting rights has caused people to take to the streets, as North Carolina residents did in their “Moral Mondays” marches.”

Only 39 days until the 2020 election.

Book Review: “American Oligarchs” by Andrea Bernstein

(I have read a lot of books this year.)

There is a lot inside American Oligarchs that has been mentioned in other places before, but this is a nice compendium documenting the pervasive lies and corruption that exist at every level within the Trump and Kushner companies, organizations, and families (which are all one and the same, really) and a lot irony. Sweet, sweet irony.

The story of the Trump family proves that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. DJT’s grandfather, Frederick, left Germany at an early age and avoiding the mandatory service (!!) with the Bavarian army (this would later cause him to lose his citizenship). He settled down in the Pacific Northwest and owned a number of hotels and restaurants during the Klondike Gold Rush, some of which were allegedly involved of illicit activities of various sorts. He died in 1918 due to complications with the Spanish flu.

The story of the Kushners is interesting and tragic. Jared Kushner’s grandparents and extended family were rounded up by Nazis during World War II. Some members were murdered, and others sent to concentration camps where they eventually made a daring escape. After the war, Jared’s grandparents were displaced people without a home. Few countries wanted to take Jewish refugees, especially those lacking proper documentation.

In more recent times, both families have displayed fairly dubious business skills, while projecting an air of confidence (but come across as desperate for acceptance and recognition). Cross them the wrong way and they will hold grudges for life.

Despite this, they have somehow always managed to fail upward. Sadly, this now has some pretty drastic consequences for our democracy.

If you didn’t want to eat the rich before this book, you’ll feel like you’re ready for a five-course meal of cooked oligarch once you’ve finished. We have some serious issues to fix and we should start by locking all of these fine folks up.

I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads.

Our health system is barbaric

This is tragic. The fact that we’re still arguing over whether or not our society should watch out for the collective health of everyone is barbaric.

On Feb. 8, she was a healthy 32-year-old, who was seven and a half months pregnant with her first baby. On Feb. 9, she was a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the chest down by a car accident that damaged her spine. Miraculously, the baby, born by emergency C-section, is healthy.

Were the Obama health care reforms already in place, my brother and sister-in-law’s situation — insurance-wise and financially — would be far less dire. My brother’s small employer — he is the manager of a metal-fabrication shop — does not offer health insurance, which was too expensive for them to buy on their own.

The Barbaric Health Care Debate

Jonathan Chait writes about the “barbarism of the health-care repeal crusade.” Frankly, he nails it. Emphasis mine.

To me, and essentially everybody on the liberal side, the answer to that question is obvious. I’m comfortable with the market creating vastly unequal rewards of many kinds. But to make health insurance an earned privilege is to condemn people to physical suffering or even death because they failed to secure a job that gives them health insurance, or they don’t earn enough, or they happened to contract an expensive illness, or a member of their family did.

[via New York Magazine]

Stop SOPA

I’ve censored the following, in protest of a bill that gives any corporation and the US government the power to censor the internet–a bill that could pass THIS WEEK. To see the uncensored text, and to stop internet censorship, visit: http://americancensorship.org/posts/4757/uncensor

As ███████ who █████ for a ███████ ████ ██████, ████, and ████████ the ████████ and its ███████ ████████, it is █████ ████ we ████ ████. ████ ████████ ██████████ of the ████████.

████ me in ██████████ ████ ███████████████ and ███████ ████ ████ we won’t █████ for ████.

Uncensor This

Presidential nicknames

It seems like every President ends up with a nickname, that rightly or wrongly, sums up their legacy.

Reagan was “The Great Communicator,” Nixon was “Tricky Dick,” Theodore Roosevelt was “The Trust Buster” (among many others), and even George W. Bush was mockingly named “The Decider.”

Wikipedia has a more in depth list as well.

With the way President Obama has been handling things, I think he’s earned himself a new nickname.

The Great Capitulator

Heh.

Interesting tidbits from Wikileaks

The Wikileaks controversy has been pretty horrifying to watch play out, at least with regard to various organizations and companies such as PayPal, Amazon, Mastercard, and EveryDNS denying or revoking their access to services.

In case you were wondering, Wikileaks is actually a good thing. Here is a site that lists various reasons why. Of course, by even mentioning Wikileaks, one might jeopardize their chances of ever working for the U.S. State Department.

Interested in some of the more juicy or amusing tidbits from Wikileaks? Check out Cablegate Roulette!

FROM: PARIS, FRANCE
TO: STATE DEPARTMENT
DATE: SEPTEMBER 06, 2006
CLASSIFICATION: CONFIDENTIAL
SEE FULL CABLE

An Unforgettable Scene

¶6. (C) As the Ambassador was about to leave, Sarkozy went to the line of floor-to-ceiling windows that open from the interior minister’s office to the gardens of the interior ministry, and called over his nine-year old son, Louis, who was playing on the lawn (Sarkozy lives with his family in apartments above his office). Sarkozy was clearly happy — and proud — to be in the company of his young son and seemed tickled to be able to introduce him to “the Ambassador of the United States.” Louis appeared at the threshold with a small dog at his feet and a large rabbit in his arms. To shake hands with the Ambassador, Louis put down the rabbit — and the dog started chasing the rabbit through Sarkozy’s office, which led to the unforgettable sight of Sarkozy, bent over, chasing the dog through the ante-room to his office as the dog chased the rabbit, and Louis filled the room with gleeful laughter.

(Emphasis mine)

Predictions for America’s Future

Happy Tuesday mourning morning!

If only 15 years remain, the odds of frittering them all away still remain high. Congress and the president are now in gridlock; the American system is flooded with corporate money meant to jam up the works; and there is little suggestion that any issues of significance, including our wars, our bloated national security state, our starved education system, and our antiquated energy supplies, will be addressed with sufficient seriousness to assure the sort of soft landing that might maximize our country’s role and prosperity in a changing world.

TSA Checkpoint Sign

tsa-sign.jpg

Oleg Volk created this TSA checkpoint sign in 2008, which is now getting attention due to recent abuses by the organization.

Interestingly enough, the social location service Loopt is offering 10 iPod touches to people who check in to an airport using the app on November 24th, and tweet about being pat down by the TSA.

As a slight gift to opt-outers out there, Loopt is giving away 10 iPod Touches for TSA touching. Just check into your airport on Loopt* on Wednesday, November 24 (with iPhone, iPod Touch or Android), share a bit about your experience, push it to Twitter with the hashtag #touchedbyTSA, and you can win an iPod Touch. That simple.