Archive for the ‘State and Local’ Category

By: Dan Froomkin
The Huffington Post

Poll watchers from groups ostensibly targeting voter fraud are headed primarily to minority voting precincts on Election Day, lending support to the argument that their real goal is to suppress the African-American and Latino vote.

A partial list of precincts targeted by a Pittsburgh Tea Party group working on behalf of the Republican Party shows that nearly 80 percent of the voters in those precincts are African-American, compared to 13 percent countywide, according to civil rights and union groups who on Monday called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate.

An Ohio political blog is reporting that forms submitted to election officials by Tea Party spin-off group True the Vote in Franklin County — which includes Columbus — show poll watchers heading to 28 precincts, where most voters are African-American. Overall, the county electorate is 20 percent African-American.

“We’ve been concerned from the beginning that the efforts of True the Vote and aligned groups were going to be targeted largely in communities of color,” said Eric Marshall, manager of legal mobilization for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “We’ve seen in the past where these kinds of tactics can lead to intimidation and harassment of voters.”

A potentially even greater concern now is that the groups will use the voter challenge process “for the express purpose of creating lines and confusion,” Marshall said.

Prohibitively long lines, particularly where Democrats are in the majority, are a net plus for Republicans; extraordinarily long lines for early voting in South Florida resulted from Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s rollback of early voting days there.

Pittsburgh Tea Party Movement founder Patti Weaver, whose group trained the would-be poll watchers there, said her volunteers wouldn’t interfere with anyone. “We are not harassing voters. We won’t be talking to voters. We’re just there to observe,” she told HuffPost.

As for the list of precincts, she said: “Nobody’s targeting African-Americans anywhere in the country, that I know of. We’re sending volunteers to precincts which have had irregularities in the past or statistical issues.”

Weaver said the list was provided by fellow activist Bob Howard, but Howard told HuffPost he didn’t make the list himself. “I was not involved in the selection process. I don’t know the details,” he said.

He was told that many of the precincts were on the list because in previous elections, reports were sent in to the local Republican Party or to specific GOP candidates “that there was something at the poll that was a problem.” Others were there because of unusual swings in voting activity, he said.

He said the reasons were explained to him by the man who gave him the list: Chris Metz, executive director of the Republican Committee of Allegheny County.

Metz, however, would not answer questions about how the list was created. “That I cannot speak upon,” he told HuffPost. “That is the state party that put that together.”

He had no further comment. The spokesperson for the Pennyslvania Republican Party did not return phone messages.

But Nicole Berner, a lawyer with the Service Employees International Union — the group that obtained the list of precincts — said the only strong statistical correlation among them is race. The list was obtained by an independent community organizer who attended one of the poll watcher-training sessions and was able to jot down information about 59 of the 111 precincts that the group was asking people to sign up for, according to Berner.

Berner and others have requested that the Department of Justice ask the Republican Party for the complete list. “On the basis of the data that we ran, we can’t find any other single factor that would tie these precincts together, so how did you get this list?” said Berner.

A spokesperson for True the Vote, which vowed to send a million poll watchers out to hunt down voter fraud, did not respond to an email inquiry. Its founder, Catherine Engelbrecht, told The New York Times that she suddenly became concerned with voter fraud after President Barack Obama’s election in 2008. “I don’t know, something clicked,” she told the Times.

Marshall pointed out that none of the groups has provided evidence of in-person voter fraud anywhere — and groups have not provided evidence “to back up exactly why they should send all their poll watchers to African-American neighborhoods.” Lacking that evidence, he said, “we have concerns as to why they’re sending them to those locations.

“I’m not going to describe motivation,” he said. “I think the targeting of where they’re sending people speaks volumes.”

Marshall said that anyone witnessing any kind of voter intimidation on Election Day should call the voter protection hotline at (866) OUR-VOTE, or 866ourvote.org. “Then we’ll try to work through the laws and procedures in that county to get those people to either stop or be removed.”

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By Bill Maher

 

New Rule: If your entire party tries to get rid of you, and you stay in, you can’t talk about how easy it is for a woman to push a stupid prick out of her body.

I don’t want to waste another second thinking about Todd Akin, and his theory that you can’t get pregnant unless your eggs are asking for it. Here’s the only thing you need to know about Todd Akin and human anatomy: he’s an asshole. What I want to talk about is how it’s not a coincidence that the party of fundamentalism is also the party of fantasy. When I say religion is a mental illness, this is what I mean: it corrodes your mental faculties to the point where you can believe in tiny ninja warriors who hide in vaginas and lie in wait for bad people’s sperm.

Evangelicals might like to pretend that the magical thinking that they indulge in at home doesn’t affect what they do at the office, but it absolutely does. The brain that believes in angels and miracles and Jesus riding a dinosaur is trained to see the world not as it is, but as you want it to be.

Republicans would like to pretend like Congressman Akin’s substitution of superstition for science is a lone problem but it’s not: they’re all magical thinkers, on nearly every issue. They don’t get their answers on climate change from climatologists, they get them from the Book of Genesis. Hence Sharia Law in America is a dire threat, and global warming a hoax.

Or take the issue that consumes the right these days, our sea of red ink: Republicans are united in their fervent desire to reduce the deficit, but they want to do it in some magical fashion that doesn’t involve raising taxes or cutting any spending. When given a choice in polls between these two options, a majority of Republicans check “none of the above” as a way to reduce the deficit. That’s like deciding to pay off your student loans by daydreaming.

Or as it’s known on Capitol Hill, supply-side economics. Remember that magic beans theory? That you actually bring in more revenue by bringing in less? Ronald Reagan believed it. But at least back in the ’80s it was new. The thing is, we tried it, and it doesn’t work. Yet, Paul Ryan, who every shit-for-brains pundit in America keeps telling us is a “serious” guy, still believes in the supply-side theory. All the Republicans do. They all believe in something that both science and history have shown to be pure fantasy. The symbol for their party shouldn’t be an elephant — it should be a unicorn.

Paul Ryan is their tough guy on spending but he doesn’t want to touch defense — that’s right, a budget hawk who doesn’t think there’s anything bloated about the Defense Department’s budget. It’s like being a health inspector and finding nothing wrong with the Asian place that has the chicken hanging in the window. This is how low we’ve put the bar for political courage — that you can just write, “I want a pony” in a binder and call it the “Plan For Restoring Vision For the Future of America’s Greatness” or some shit, and then everyone has to refer to you as the serious one in Congress. It reminds me of health care. Republicans are for all the popular things, like covering people with pre-existing conditions, but they’re not for the part where you pay for it, like the mandate. Just like they were for our recent wars, but not for paying for them. For the prescription drug bill, but not for paying for it.

How do they get away with it? They know that, because we’re already such a religious country, our minds are primed for magical, fantasy thinking. The gullibility comes factory-installed. They’ve learned that you appeal not to an American’s head, but to his gut — it’s a much bigger target. But here’s the problem: life is complicated. I mean, I know we know some things for sure, like why Jesus put us here on Earth: to watch Here Comes Honey Boo Boo on a 50-inch TV screen. But what about the Chinese slaves who made the TV? What about carbon from the coal that generated the electricity? What about the Walmart where we bought it, where the workers don’t have health insurance? What about racism, or the oceans turning into nail polish remover? The grown-up answer is: identify problems scientifically, prioritize and solve. The Republican answer is: there isn’t a problem. And anyone who tells you different is a liar who hates America. We don’t have to make hard choices. We just have to ignore the science and the math — that’s why God gave us values.

If rape babies throw a monkey wrench into the whole right-to-life pitch, just make believe rape babies don’t exist. If you want to cut down on teen pregnancy, just tell curious kids with raging hormones to practice abstinence. Until they get married. Because everyone knows, that’s when the fucking never stops. Health care? Not a problem if you just keep repeating, “We have the greatest health care in the world.” Even though the U.N. ranks it 37th.

What’s the solution to global warming? It’s that it isn’t real, and even if it is, big whoop, just buy an air conditioner, you pussy. Republicans also believe that putting the word “clean” next to the word “coal” creates something called clean coal. Even though there’s the exact same amount of evidence for clean coal as there is for Todd Akin’s mistaken baby makin’ theory.

Republicans also believe if they kick all the Mexicans out of the country, the strawberries will pick themselves, and that if they cut the safety net all the poor blacks are “resting” in, they will fall gently to the ground, stand up, dust themselves off, and get good-paying jobs as Olympic gymnasts.

Next week in Tampa the Republicans must admit that the difference between a GOP convention and Comic-Con is that the people at Comic-Con have a much firmer grasp of reality.

~ Bill Maher is the host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher.

I have found something to be trending among Republican ideologues, social conservatives, and “Tea-Baggers” (I mean Tea-Partiers); That Republicans would support BIG Government if it supported them.  For example, if tomorrow, President Obama and all the Dems in Congress decided to ban abortion across the board, or gay marriage, or stem cell research, or science…the Republican and Tea Parties would be all for it.

No, you say? Well if you start looking at the states and members of Congress submitting bills for such antiquated social policies such as aforementioned, you may change your mind.

Even today, a federal judge granted Planned Parenthood’s preliminary injunction to prevent a new South Dakota abortion law from taking effect while it’s being challenged in court. The fact is that Planned Parenthood, centers for women’s health, etc. are under attack by Right-Wing extremists in the states’ and federal legislatures.  Just in the last few months, bills have been submitted and are on the verge of passing that ban abortions no matter what the patient’s choice or status is.

Republicans are for individual responsibility as long as they deem what responsible is. They won’t let you have an abortion, but they will make you incur the cost of having a child.  Isn’t that BIG government?  It’s having the state, or the federal if they had their way, MANDATE a person to make one choice over another.

I have had debate after debate on my positions on both Gay Marriage and Abortion. My view is that it is not my nor anyone else’s place to tell someone who they can and cannot marry, however, limits on what and how many spouses can be imposed. For instance, any person should be allowed to marry another person if they are in love, but must maintain a single human spouse. Is that confusing? I didn’t think so. Also, my position on abortion is that it is not up to any government, federal, state, municipal, to decide whether a woman will or will not have an abortion.  Now, I do hope the woman chooses to bear and keep her child, however it is not my, nor anyone else’s place to make that call other than the woman.  That is limited government my conservative friends.

To ban Planned Parenthood or other women’s health centers while referring them to a women’s prison as an alternative for female healthcare is an abomination. The legislators, and those who fund them, should be ashamed of themselves and should look into the void where their soul had been and reflect on what they REALLY wanted to do. I wouldn’t be surprised if these women’s prisons are privately owned, and the owners continuously make large donations to these legislative scheisters.  How can conservatives be so pro-life, and then turn around and be supporting the death penalty? Doesn’t the Bible say that every life is precious and equal in God’s eyes?

However, its now the Liberals turn…How can you be pro-choice, especially if the choice is indeed abortion, but then be against the death penalty, or the euthanizing of animals? A human life is definitely a little more important than a rat’s and if you can’t recognize that, well then you need to move to a deserted island and really contemplate your position. And if you are fine with ending a life that is in the same stage of gestation you once were, then why are you not fine with destroying one that has been so detrimental to society that his or her peers have deemed them unworthy of life? Aren’t you committing that same judgment on an unborn human who is not guilty of anything?

Bill O’Reilly and Bill Maher: Two completely opposite ideologues, yet they are the best at knowing their ideologies. Which is why i give them both my utmost respect and audience. O’Reilly stands against abortion AND the death penalty. Maher doesn’t mind if people are sent to prison to be executed at a later date AND he is in favor of a woman’s right to end the life of her unborn baby.  Why can’t the Liberals and Conservatives be as consistently honest about their own ideologies as these two ?

According to the Tampa Bay Tribune, Florida Governor Rick Scott is cutting $1.5 Billion in Corporate Tax Cuts while reducing spending to the state’s education budget by $3.3 Billion.  So Gov. Scott and his Florida state legislature believe it is beneficial to the state to cut funding to education and give the money to corporations in the forms of subsidies and tax breaks.

The Arizona Republic/Newsweek reports that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is giving a $538 Million tax-break over the next ten years while cutting $541 Million in Medicaid funding for her constituents.

Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder is cutting $1.67 Billion on the poor and elderly while dolling out $1.73 Billion to corporate fat-cats.

Wisconsin’s own Scott Walker, in addition to trying to strip away the rights of the working person, he is cutting taxes by $140 Million to corporations while legislating tax hikes on the poor and elderly to the tune of $490 Million.

In Cheyenne, Wyoming, a super-secret tax haven “house” has been discovered that is supposed to represent 2000+ corporations. This link takes you to a report that sheds some light on this shady home.  Wyoming LLC Services is the company that is providing this haven for all sorts of corporations using one employee, “Rhoda,” along with the occasional mail carrier.