Tuesday, January 31, 2012

BOR: Obama & Romney Speeches Set Stage For Battle Over The Soul Of American Capitalism

Burnt Orange Report:

Governor Romney is finally sealing the deal, even if by eliminating the opponents from a less-than-stellar field, and this looks like the two-man race that most experts predicted 12 months ago. If tomorrow's Florida primary goes as advertised, Romney wins by at least double-digits, and the run for Tampa becomes a mere formality.

More importantly, within the past week both President Obama and Governor Romney have begun to cement their core economic messages. President Obama's message will stress Fairness and Capitalism with Rules. Romney's message is to call Obama a socialist, and demand unrestrained Capitalism. If both campaigns stick to these messages, we can look to four more years of Obama, because Obama's message is backed by solid evidence, and Romney's message is not.

On Tuesday, President Obama's State of the Union Address presented a clear vision of the future of American Capitalism and the role of Government in Capitalism.

President Obama:

"To reduce barriers to growth and investment, I've ordered a review of government regulations. When we find rules that put an unnecessary burden on businesses, we will fix them. But I will not hesitate to create or enforce common-sense safeguards to protect the American people. That's what we've done in this country for more than a century. It's why our food is safe to eat, our water is safe to drink, and our air is safe to breathe. It's why we have speed limits and child labor laws. It's why last year, we put in place consumer protections against hidden fees and penalties by credit card companies and new rules to prevent another financial crisis. And it's why we passed reform that finally prevents the health insurance industry from exploiting patients."


Thursday night's GOP Presidential debate, the 19th in this election cycle's non-stop Debate-o-Rama since this Presidential election season began, saw Mitt Romney find his groove. In taking the fight to Newt Gingrich, his resumed his front runner status. He also restated his major economic theme:
Mitt Romney's closing debate answer:

"This is a time where we're going to decide whether America will remain the great hope of the 21st century, whether this will be an American century, or, instead, whether we'll continue to go down a path to become more and more like Europe, a social welfare state. That's where we're headed. Our economy is becoming weaker. The foundation of our future economy is being eroded. Government has become too large. We're headed in a very dangerous direction.

I believe to get America back on track, we're going to have to have dramatic, fundamental, extraordinary change in Washington to be able to allow our private sector to once again reemerge competitively, to scale back the size of government and to maintain our strength abroad in our military capacities."

These two economic themes, along with the release of Romney's taxes, have presented a clearer view of what Election 2012 will have in store - This election will be about defining the future of American Capitalism.

On the right, Romney is asserting that Obama's policies will amount to the American adoption of European Socialism. On the Left, Obama is asserting that Romney is seeking to return America to the failed policies of unregulated Capitalism that brought us the Great Recession and the Great Depression.

If Obama, however, makes this fight into a question of what kind of Capitalism we want - a heartless, soulless, brainless Capitalism, or a thoughtful, studied, intelligent Capitalism, then he wins because the same Pew poll found an increasing ability of Americans to see the flaws of Capitalism, even while still preferring it to Socialism.

President Obama can, and must, win this argument. And he will because Romney's message is factually challenged about President Obama's policies, and is historically inaccurate by failing to recognize the weaknesses of unregulated Capitalism, or the need for Capitalism with Rules.

If Romney makes this into a fight of "Capitalism versus Socialism" he wins as Americans, according to recent polling from the Pew Research Center, highly favor Capitalism, with independents having a net +20% favorable view of Capitalism.

Read the full article @ Burnt Orange Report

Why are Republicans in general and Romney in particular always calling President Obama a socialist -- because everybody hates socialists, even liberals, even Occupy Wall Streeters.

The socialist name calling, echoed without challenge by the main stream press, seems to be working, too. Americans perceive Barack Obama as furthest away from their own political viewpoint, according to a just released Gallup poll.

It is no accident that Republicans picked the "socialist" moniker to pin to Pres. Obama's coat tails. Socialism is a negative for most Americans with six-in-ten (60%) saying they have a negative reaction to the word.

Socialism is the most politically polarizing of the most common political monikers – the reaction is almost universally negative among conservatives.

These are among the findings of the national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Dec. 7-11, 2011.

Related:

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Monday, January 30, 2012

GOP Voters Increasingly Dissatisfied With Their Presidential Choices

At this point in the presidential nomination process, voters usually start getting comfortable with at least some of the candidates who have been campaigning for many months. Republican voters have gotten to know their candidates and attending agendas pretty well by now.

And yet, as the Pew Research Center found, rank-and-file Republicans are finding themselves less satisfied with their presidential choices, not more.

As the Pew report, released today, explained, "In fact, more Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters say the GOP field is only fair or poor (52%) than did so in early January (44%)."

In other words, this field of candidates isn't just unappealing to the party's own voters; it's increasingly unappealing.

As Paul Begala recently observed, "When I look at the economy, I think Obama can't win, but when I look at the Republicans, I think he can't lose. The economy is starting to get better; the Republicans aren't."

Pew Research Center for the People & the Press:

Amid a bruising primary campaign, Republicans remain unimpressed with their party’s presidential field. In fact, more Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters say the GOP field is only fair or poor (52%) than did so in early January (44%).

By comparison, just 46% of Republican voters have positive opinions of the GOP field, according to the latest survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Jan. 26-29 among 1,006 adults, including 341 Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters. In early January, shortly before the New Hampshire primary, 51% gave the field excellent or good ratings while 44% rated the candidates collectively as only fair or poor.

That survey showed that GOP voters’ ratings of the field are far less positive than were opinions of the Republican field in 2008. At about this point four years ago, 68% of Republican and GOP-leaning voters rated the field as excellent or good. (See “GOP Voters Still Unenthused about Presidential Field,” Jan. 9, 2012.)

Who Understands Problems of Average Americans?

Separately, the survey, in partnership with The Washington Post, finds that far more voters say Barack Obama understand the problems of average Americans than say that about either Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich. More than half of all registered voters (55%) say Obama understands the problems of average Americans very or fairly well. About four-in-ten (41%) say he understands people’s problems not too well or not at all well.

Only about four-in-ten voters (39%) give Romney high marks for understanding the problems of average Americans; about the same percentage (36%) says Gingrich does very or fairly well in understanding people’s problems.

About half of independent voters (53%) rate Obama positively in understanding the problems of average Americans; only 38% and 37% of independents, respectively, give Romney and Gingrich positive ratings. Democratic voters overwhelmingly say that Obama understands the problems of average people (84%). Smaller majorities of GOP voters give Romney (61%) and Gingrich (60%) positive ratings.

Full story @ Pew Research Center for the People & the Press

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No Joy On A Quick Redistricting Agreement Between The State And Plaintiffs

The Austin Chronicle / 1:17pm, Mon. Jan. 30:

Monday, February 6, 2012 -- That's the deadline set last Friday by the San Antonio District Court redistricting panel for all parties to agree on interim House, Senate and Congressional maps, or they'll miss the deadline for the April 3 unified primary.

There were rumors floating around all weekend that there could be a deal struck as early as today on interim maps, but with all parties traveling to D.C. for closing arguments in the D.C. District Court preclearance hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 31, that seems unlikely.

... The D.C. District Court is expected to rule this week on whether the legislature's maps violate the preclearance terms of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

... There are undoubtedly voices in the negotiating room suggesting that the plaintiffs would be in a much stronger negotiating position – and that the state would have little legal wiggle room – if they just wait a couple more days.

... The Mexican American Legislative Caucus told the Chronicle this morning that a deal is not imminent, even though they are all working towards some kind of agreement.

... LULAC [League of United Latin American Citizens] attorney Luis Roberto Vera, Jr. confirmed to the Chronicle that his clients (who are still pushing for coalition districts) are still pushing to wait for the D.C. ruling, which was the position all plaintiffs stated to the San Antonio District Court panel before this weekend.

"As to negotiations," Vera wrote in an email to the Chronicle this afternoon, "they have totally broken down as of now. I am sure they will resume but I doubt an agreement if at all by this Monday so I don't expect an April 3rd election." (emphasis added)

Read the full story @ The Austin Chronicle

Even if the parties miraculously agree to a set of maps this week and the San Antonio District Court the accepts those maps on or before February 6 - the unified election date will likely push out from April 3 to at least April 17.

A representative for Texas county election offices told the San Antonio court last Friday that the larger counties require a 10 weeks lead time to organize an election from whatever date the court sets as the new candidate filing deadline, after new district maps are drawn. The first day of early voting for a April 3 election would be March 19. It may a logistical impossibility for county election officials to draw election precinct maps, mail voter registration cards, prepare ballots, hire election Judges, Alternate Judges and Clerks, and program voting machines by March 19, if they don't have Senate, House, and Congressional maps until some time after Feb. 6.

The Justice Department also told the San Antonio District court in a filing on Friday that the foreshortened February 6 - April 3 primary schedule proposed by the Texas Republican Party wouldn’t allow the 45 days specified in both federal (MOVE Act) and Texas law for military and overseas voters to participate in the election process.

Increasingly, it seems the only conceivable option remaining to hold an election on April 3 is to split the election into two parts, with part one held on April 3rd. The primary election held on April 3rd would allow voters to cast ballots for presidential candidates. A second primary election for all other statewide and local offices would then be held at a later date - maybe as late as June - after the courts resolve the redistricting disputes.

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Americans' Political Views Not So Far Apart

From LiveScience

In an election year, it's hard to turn on the television or read a newspaper without getting the sense that Americans are becoming ever more divided into red versus blue. But a new study finds that perception may be downright wrong.

In fact, political polarization among the public has barely budged at all over the past 40 years, according to research presented here on Jan. 27 at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. But, crucially, people vastly overestimate how polarized the American public is — a tendency toward exaggeration that is especially strong in the most extreme Democrats and Republicans. (The results do not apply to Congress, politicians or media pundits, but rather to the general public.)

"Strongly identified Republicans or Democrats perceive and exaggerate polarization more than weakly identified Republicans or Democrats or political independents," said study researcher John Chambers, a professor of psychology at the University of Florida.

The people who see the world split into two opposing factions are also most likely to vote and become politically active, Chambers said in a talk at the meeting. This means that while real growing polarization is illusory, the perception of polarization could drive the political process.

Read the full story @ LiveScience

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Fox News "Dead People Voting In SC" Story Collapses

Media Matters

Over the last two weeks, Fox has repeatedly promoted the claim that voter fraud is indicated by records showing that more than 900 South Carolina residents were recorded as casting a vote after their reported death date. Lou Dobbs, Bill Hemmer, and Neil Cavuto all gave state Attorney General Alan Wilson a platform to offer up this assertion, and on Monday Bret Baier reported that Wilson had notified the Justice Department of this "potential voter fraud."

These claims were always shaky, and have now completely dissolved.

On January 11, state Department of Motor Vehicles director Kevin Schwedo testified before the state legislature that his analysts had compared state Election Commission records with data from the Department of Vital Statistics and the Social Security Administration and found 957 people who could have voted after they had died. He subsequently turned the data over to law enforcement.

But the Columbia Free-Times' Corey Hutchins reports that the Election Commission has examined six names from the list -- the only six names Wilson's office had turned over. At a hearing this morning, the agency revealed that none of those cases involved a ballot actually being cast in a deceased person's name:

In a news release election agency spokesman Chris Whitmire handed out prior to the hearing, the agency disputed the claim that dead people had voted. One allegedly dead voter on the DMV's list cast an absentee ballot before dying; another was the result of a poll worker mistakenly marking the voter as his deceased father; two were clerical errors resulting from stray marks on voter registration lists detected by a scanner; two others resulted from poll managers incorrectly marking the name of the voter in question instead of the voter above or below on the list.

The attorney general's office had only given the State Election Commission six names off its list of 957 names to examine. The agency found every one of them to be alive and otherwise eligible to vote, except for the one who had voted before dying.

This was entirely predictable.

When DMV director Schwedo originally testified, he made clear that the discrepancy could be explained by voters casting absentee ballots before their deaths or by data errors. Indeed, such deceased voter claims are almost always revealed as unfounded for those very reasons. But these facts never made their way to Fox, which has a long history of trumping up voter fraud allegations and pushing voter ID requirements as the only possible solution.

Read the full article @ Media Matters

Related:

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The GOP Complains That Obama Has Succeeded Despite GOP Obstruction

PoliticusUSA

The contrast between Pres. Obama’s State of the Union speech and Indiana Gov. Daniels' Republican response was that the President cited empirical data of his accomplishments and laid out specifics for moving the country forward, while Daniels made generalized accusations based on lies and misinformation. Governor Daniels provided a wealth of lies in his response, but a few stand out that are easily debunked; for those with a strong constitution, the text of Daniels’ response is worth a read. ...

... Daniels’ response was suspiciously similar to the Heritage Foundation, CATO Institute, Americans for Enterprise, and Koch Industries’ mission statements on economic policy and fixes designed to help the 1% maintain their advantaged position in America.

... Daniels took John Boehner’s cue and lied about the number of jobs the proposed Canadian pipeline will create. He said “the extremism that cancels a perfectly safe pipeline that would employ tens of thousands” is a pro-poverty agenda;” the pipeline’s builders, TransCanada, claim it will employ hundreds.

Daniels also claimed the President failed to create jobs with “all those stimulus dollars the President borrowed and blew.” President Obama blew the stimulus dollars saving America’s automobile industry and creating millions of jobs at home, and he proposed creating more by eliminating tax breaks for corporations that outsource jobs and rewarding manufacturers with incentives for relocating back to America. The President’s specific proposal to create jobs is identical to the one Republicans blocked last year to protect corporate un-taxable foreign income.

Daniels proposed strengthening Social Security, but Republican’s propose shifting a wildly successful government retirement system to a private 401(k) system to enrich Wall Street. The simplest fix to maintain Social Security’s solvency for a thousand years is eliminating the cap that allows wealthy Americans to avoid contributing the same percentage as those earning less than $102,600. That means Willard Romney pays the same.062% on his $22-plus million income as a minimum wage janitor, and if every rich Republican paid the same percentage as working Americans, the controversy over extending the payroll tax-cut would vanish.

The prescient question is; why does every Republican resort to generalized lies about this President’s accomplishments? One might answer; to protect the wealthy, Wall Street, the oil industry, the corporate world, and because Mr. Obama’s is African America and those are all correct.

However, the simple answer is Republicans are irked that despite their obstruction and fallacious rhetoric, President Obama succeeded saving the economy Republicans crashed with deregulation and unfunded, out-of-control spending during Bush’s presidency. The underlying tone of Daniels’ response was that President Obama failed to right the economy after Bush-Republican’s economic malfeasance, and achieve full employment in the process. Of course, the President made no such promise, but Republicans are framing the 2012 election on that premise because they have nothing else.

Read the full article @ PoliticusUSA

Related:

Mitch Daniels' SOTU Response Wrong on Social Security

Right-Wing Media Launch Predictable Attacks On Obama's State Of The Union Address

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The GOP Thinks Failure Is Their Best Option In 2012

by Frederick Barrow and Michael Handley with hat tips to Addicting Info and JM Bell

In a CNN poll taken last October, Republican voters were the only group that wants Obama’s policies to fail. From the poll's internals:

In general, do you hope that Barack Obama’s policies will succeed or do you hope that his policies will fail?
  • Republicans: Succeed 39% vs Fail 51%
  • Democrats: Succeed 92% vs Fail 5%
  • Independents: Succeed 66% Fail 24%
  • Total: Succeed 67% vs Fail 25%

Even more interesting, when Republican voters were then asked about some of the Obama policy ideas themselves — without Obama’s name attached to them — majorities of Republicans supported them.

According to the poll, 58% of Republicans support the payroll tax holiday, 63% support federal aid for teachers and first responders, 54% support federal aid for rebuilding roads, bridges, and schools, and 56% support raising taxes on income more than $1 million.

That's a terrible and self-destructive case of misplaced priorities, putting their hatred of the president ahead of their own views about what's in the best interest of the country.

by Mike Luckovich

The Republicans are rooting against the American economy and American workers. They believe that they will do better politically in the 2012 presidential elections, if the economy does worse. And for the last thirty-six months Republicans in congress have done everything they can to assure that the American electorate sees Pres. Obama as a failed President.

After Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives in the 2010 mid-term elections they repeated threatened to shut down government and allow the U.S. to default on its obligations all during 2011. Republicans controlling the House refused to compromise and meet Pres. Obama half way, often even 90% of the way, to GOP positions, just to paint Pres. Obama as a failed President.

Republicans claim they just have a different view of what will create jobs. And that is partly true. Generally their view is that whatever is in the short-term interest of the big Wall Street banks, insurance companies, big oil and their wealthy donors is what is "good for the economy" and "good for job creation."

Republicans implemented their program of $1.8 trillion in tax cuts for the rich and allowed the reckless Wall Street banks to do whatever they pleased for eight long years during the Bush administration. The result was a $2,000 decrease in real income for most Americans, a massive increase in incomes for the top two percent of the population, zero net private sector job creation, and the collapse of our economy in the closing months of Pres. Bush's administration in 2008.

But it's not just their commitment to tax cuts for the rich "trickle down" economics that has caused them to do everything in their power to block economic recovery. They believe that their political fortunes can rise only if the fortunes of the rest of us decline.

The next time someone tells you that the Republicans care about the American people just give them this list of just some of the bills that Republicans have blocked, or attempted to block, since Obama became President:

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

President Obama’s 2012 State of the Union Address

Full text of President Obama’s 2012 State of the Union address, as prepared for delivery:

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:

Last month, I went to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home some of our last troops to serve in Iraq. Together, we offered a final, proud salute to the colors under which more than a million of our fellow citizens fought – and several thousand gave their lives.

We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world. For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country. Most of al Qaeda’s top lieutenants have been defeated. The Taliban’s momentum has been broken, and some troops in Afghanistan have begun to come home.

These achievements are a testament to the courage, selflessness, and teamwork of America’s Armed Forces. At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations. They’re not consumed with personal ambition. They don’t obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together.

Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example. Think about the America within our reach: A country that leads the world in educating its people. An America that attracts a new generation of high-tech manufacturing and high-paying jobs. A future where we’re in control of our own energy, and our security and prosperity aren’t so tied to unstable parts of the world. An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.

We can do this. I know we can, because we’ve done it before.

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GOP Response To Pres. Obama's STOU Address


Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels delivers the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address.

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Tea Party Response To Pres. Obama's SOTU Address

Herman Cain Delivers the Tea Party Response to President Obama's 2012 State of the Union Address.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Still A Path To A April 3rd Primary Election?

In an order issued this afternoon, the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio asked lawyers for the State of Texas and plaintiffs' groups (the parties) to appear for a status conference on Friday, January 27, at 1 p.m. The San Antonio court has asked the parties for input on the Supreme Court's ruling last Friday that leaves senate, house and congressional candidates without political districts.

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Texas A.G. Greg Abbott Sues USDOJ To Get Voter ID Implemented

The Texas attorney general’s office today filed suit against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Justice to have the state’s controversial voter photo ID law implemented without further delay.

When the U.S. Justice Department blocked South Carolina's new voter ID law on December 23, 2011, because of possible discrimination against minorities, attention quickly focused on Texas, which passed nearly identical photo ID legislation in 2011.

Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department or a federal court is required to pre-clear laws affecting voters in jurisdictions with a history of voting discrimination, including Texas and South Carolina. The Texas Secretary of State’s Office sought preclearance from the Justice Department on July 25, 2011, but the agency is still holding the matter under review.

Originally set to go into effect on January 1, 2012, the Texas law would require voters to present one of a limited selection of government issued photo IDs to election Judges in order to qualify to vote. The accepted forms of currently dated photo identification are: Department of Public Safety issued Texas driver's license, Texas election ID , or personal identification card; Texas concealed handgun license; U.S. military ID card; U.S. citizenship certificate; or U.S. passport.

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Obama Vows To Protect Women's Choice

Drawing a stark contrast between himself and the Republican presidential candidates on the issue of women's reproductive rights, President Barack Obama released a statement on Sunday, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, reaffirming his commitment to protect a woman's right to choose.

As we mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we must remember that this Supreme Court decision not only protects a woman’s health and reproductive freedom, but also affirms a broader principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose and this fundamental constitutional right.

While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue -- no matter what our views, we must stay united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant woman and mothers, reduce the need for abortion, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption. And as we remember this historic anniversary, we must also continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.

The Obama administration made a particularly notable decision in favor of reproductive rights on Friday when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that all U.S. employers -- with the exception of churches and other places of worship -- would be required to fully cover the cost of contraception for the women they employ. The religious community had been lobbying to broaden the exemption to include all faith-affiliated organizations, such as Catholic hospitals and universities, but the Department of Health and Human Services denied that request to ensure that millions more women could benefit from birth control coverage.

By contrast, the four remaining GOP candidates have not only said they would like to see Roe v. Wade reversed, they also want to outlaw women's choice to use birth control contraceptives through a "personhood" amendment to the constitution.

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GOP: No Right To Family Planning Choices

Many people do not remember that the purchase and use of birth control products or literature about birth control options, even by married couples, was against the law in many states until 1965. There are those who, for the last 46 years, have worked to reverse the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut Supreme Court finding that Americans have a fundamental right of privacy. That right includes making family planning decisions and the right to learn about and use birth control contraceptives.

During an ABC interview with Jake Tapper presidential candidate Rick Santorum said that premarital sex should be outlawed, that women have no right to accessible reproductive health care, that contraceptives should be illegal and that states can outlaw the sale, purchase and use of contraceptives.

“The state has a right to do that, I have never questioned that the state has a right to do that. It is not a constitutional right, the state has the right to pass whatever statutes they have. That is the thing I have said about the activism of the Supreme Court, they are creating right, and they should be left up to the people to decide.”
Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and nearly all the other GOP presidential candidates have committed to a "personhood" constitutional amendment that would outlaw most common contraceptive choices available to women. Mother Jones reports that Republicans in the U.S. Congress also want to pass a federal Personhood Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Cecile Richards had a great discussion with Rachel Maddow on the latest from the Republican field. It is unbelievable that these candidates are campaigning on a platform that is so anti-women’s health, they're even going after something as mainstream as birth control.

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Roe V Wade @ 39: The Struggle For Female Liberty Continues

PoliticusUSA

In the South and Midwest of our country, an evil struggling against female freedom is winning ground. In Mississippi, a woman is charged with murder for giving birth to a still born. In Alabama, a mother of three awaits a ten year sentence for a Cesarean that resulted in the death of her baby. In South Carolina, over 300 women have been charged with some form of fetal homicide. In Indiana, a young woman who tried to kill herself by taking rat poison is in jail, charged with murder and attempted fetal homicide.

These cases are but a few examples of the way women’s rights have come under assault in this country, land of the supposed “free.”

Since the Tea Party takeover, these rights can’t be taken for granted. Whether it’s taking a law meant to protect women from spousal abuse misused to prosecute her for attempted murder or fetal homicide laws as a direct attempt to push back on Roe V Wade, women’s rights in America are being swept away on a Tea Party tide with nary a cry of notice. Grain by grain, with each new law, women are being relegated to citizens without rights or choices over their own bodies.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Perry's Standing Diminished In Texas

Public Policy Polling

Rick Perry had fallen so far by the end of his Presidential campaign that it's not even clear he could have defeated Barack Obama in Texas. Our poll of the state last weekend found Perry leading Obama just 48-47, including a 51-44 deficit with independents. Perry had led Obama by 7 points on a September poll there.

Perry will come home to only a 42% approval rating, with 51% of voters disapproving of him. He's fallen from 78% to 67% favor with Republicans over the last four months, and independents split against him 35/59. By comparison Obama's approval rating in Texas is 44%, although his disapproval is also higher than Perry's at 54%.

Our Texas Presidential poll is another reminder that a Gingrich surge would be very good news for President Obama. Obama actually holds a slight edge over him, 47-45. Only 33% of Texans have a favorable opinion of Gingrich to 53% with a negative one.

The GOP would start out ahead with any of its other potential nominees: Romney and Santorum lead Obama by identical 7 point margins at 49-42, and Paul has a 6 point advantage at 46-40. Democrats' dream of turning Texas to the blue column doesn't seem likely to come true this year unless they get the gift of running against Gingrich.

We also tested a three way contest involving Obama and Romney with Paul running as an independent candidate. In that scenario Romney leads Obama just 40-38, with Paul getting 17%. Although a Paul third party bid seems highly unlikely it's interesting to note that he actually wins the independent vote with 32% to 30% for Obama and 27% for Romney. That really shows the extent to which voters unhappy with both parties this year are at least open to considering an independent candidate.

Full results here

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Jon Stewart Rips SOPA Proponents, Shows How Bill Would Affect 'The Daily Show'

As someone who makes a living mocking the online content that could become illegal under the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), Jon Stewart turned the focus on himself and how much he relies on online content to produce "The Daily Show" night after night. Watch the full segment and hear a little about Stewart's already-full plate when it comes to dealing with legal copyright claims, even before the murmurs of SOPA began.

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Rick Perry Is Dropping Out Of Presidential Bid

Rick Perry has told senior staff and supporters that he is withdrawing from the presidential race.

According to reports from Politico, Perry is expected to endorse Newt Gingrich.

Perry entered the race this summer as a frontrunner. And he exits it before a single ballot has been cast in the American South. Erick Erickson, the conservative activist behind RedState.com introduced Perry into the race earlier this year, yesterday, he called on the Texas governor to drop out.

Perry had cancelled most of his schedule yesterday, and was attracting just 4 percent of potential South Carolina voters in the POLITICO/Tarrance poll released today. Like Jon Huntsman earlier this week, he is dropping out of the race before he did any further damage to his brand.

Perry's campaign will be the subject of lots of post-mortem analysis for the candidate's many verbal gaffes, and some of the odder positions he took, such as saying he would put American troops back in Iraq.

He attracted fewer votes in this primary season than Jon Huntsman, but spent more than twice as much as did Huntsman on his campaign.

Perry will give a press conference at 11am in North Charleston.

DEVELOPING...

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Whither The Texas Primary?

With the Supreme Court yet to rule, questions inevitably have turned to whether there is any way it will be possible to keep to an April 3 primary.

Senator John Cornyn and many election law lawyers think that chance is becoming increasingly remote. In fact, many observers aren’t even certain when the primary could be held if it needs to be moved.

Consider the logistical challenges @ Michael Li's excellent TxRedistricting.org blog.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Texas Democrats' Rick Perry Opposition Book

To see the Texas Democrats' 500-page 0pposition book on Gov. Rick Perry, created by Texas Democratic campaign consultant Jeff Rotkoff and obtained by The Huffington Post from the super PAC Texans for America's Future, click here.

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Poll: Republicans Trust Fox News And Nothing Else

Fox News viewers are less informed than people who don't watch any news, according to a November 2011 poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Another study from the University of Maryland found that Fox News viewers are more likely to believe false information about politics.

A new PPP poll finds that while Democrats trust most news outlets, to varying degrees, Republicans trust only a single one — Fox News. While a massive 68 percent of Republicans trust Fox, the next highest rating among any major TV news outlet is PBS, which just 30 percent of GOPers trust, according to the PPP poll.

The numbers show just how powerful Fox can be in setting the agenda and influencing the world view of conservatives, with virtually no competition or accountability from the outside world.

This monopoly on news penetration for an entire half of the electorate would be bad no matter the network, but it’s especially troubling considering Fox’s shoddy, and often agenda-driven “reporting.” And unlike an openly-ideological news outlet like this Blog or Red State, which freely note their perspectives, Fox insists it’s a traditional “far and balanced” news outlet.

People who accept the Fox News world view are unlikely to be convinced by any argument of real fact. Modern American, when presented with facts they know to be false, they nonetheless reject it if it offends or undermines your belief system.

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Dead People Voting? Let's Wait Until The Data Is Done Talking

From Humphrey School of Public Affairs blog
by Doug Chapin

Justin Levitt of Loyola Law School posted the following yesterday on Rick Hasen's Election Law Blog - and it's so good, so spot-on about the need to let data tell the whole story whenever election administration is concerned, that I want to share it in its entirety here.

[Image courtesy of degreesofmoderation]

In the wake of James O'Keefe's latest videos about fictitious "dead voters," now comes a new investigation in South Carolina, looking for "actual" dead voters.

In reviewing the South Carolina's motor vehicle records and its voting rolls, there is apparently evidence indicating that 900 people listed as deceased are also listed as voting in subsequent elections (I'm not sure what time period is involved).

With South Carolina filing a preclearance lawsuit over the new voter photo ID law that earned an objection from DOJ, and with the general media hubbub around the state's upcoming presidential primary, expect this to get an awful lot of attention ... along with an awful lot of misinformation.

Attorney General Wilson is right to ask for an investigation. I hope it's complete. And I hope that he publishes not only the full results, but also the methodology used to come to the initial 900-vote assessment, and the methodology used to investigate further.

There's already some skepticism, and for good reason. Exaggerated stories of dead voters crop up pretty regularly around Halloween, which gives me repeated topical opportunities to explain why the zombie voter hordes haven't taken over just yet. [It also gave me the opportunity to post the picture above - it's amazing what you get when you do an image search for "dead people voting" - DMCj] It sounds like the initial evidence in South Carolina is based on matching voter rolls to other lists. In follow-up of other, similar, allegations, further investigation has shown that:

And when the salacious allegations turn out to be mundane glitches, or unconnected to proving identity at the polls, there's a lot less attention paid. So I look forward to the actual facts, whatever they may show. And I hope there's as much coverage at the end of the investigation as I anticipate at the outset.

Let the election geeks say, "Amen."

From Humphrey School of Public Affairs blog

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Why SOPA/PIPA Is A Threat To The Internet As We Know It

Today, sites like Wikipedia, Craigslist, Reddit, WordPress, and this site participated in the largest online protest in history, against the “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA) and the “Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011″ (PIPA). Some, like Wikipedia, have made their sites completely unavailable from 12AM EDT on January 18th to 12AM EDT on January 19th, 2012. Others, like this site, blacked out for just part of the day. Google has also blocked out their logo for the day, to show their disapproval of these bill.

Since many people seem to be unfamiliar with these bills, I wanted to share some videos which will help explain the bills better.

The first video is from khanacademy.org, a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education to anyone anywhere:

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Congressman Lamar Smith, Author Of SOPA, Breaks Copyright Law On Campaign Website

From AddictingInfo.org By Jeromie Williams

On the same day that Wikipedia turned off their lights for 24 hours to protest the proposed “Stop Online Piracy Act” or SOPA as it is better known, the very politician who wrote the bill was called out by the 9GAG website for being caught red handed breaking copyright law on his official campaign website.

Representative Lamar Smith (R - TX 21), the politician in question that has been pushing the bill that has even the tech Gurus over at Mashable screaming foul over SOPA’s extreme overreach and censorship capabilities, has allegedly used a photograph for the background of his campaign website without giving credit to the photographer or paying for its use. That’s right, the guy who wants to stop online piracy is apparently an Internet pirate himself – Arrrrrrr

Full story @ AddictingInfo.org
Full story also @ Vice

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Announcement: Democratic Blog News To Go Dark On Jan. 18 To Protest SOPA/PIPA

ACT NOW
TO STOP INTERNET CENSORSHIP

Democratic Blog News will join thousands of tech activists, entrepreneurs and corporations on Wednesday and go dark in protest of the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), legislation that has generated national outrage among Internet experts.

Democratic Blog News will go dark 7 am CST until 7 pm CST on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, more than 7,000 websites are expected to voluntarily "go dark," by blocking access to their content to protest the bill, according to organizers of SOPAStrike.com. Some of the biggest names on the Internet plan to participate in the blackout, including Wikipedia, Mozilla, Reddit and WordPress. Many of the sites are promoting an alternative to SOAP called the OPEN Act -- a bipartisan bill drafted by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Democrats File 1 Million Signatures To Recall Wisc. Gov. Scott Walker

Democrats and organizers filed petitions with more than one million signatures Tuesday afternoon as they seek to force a recall election against Republican Gov. Scott Walker. One million signatures is a massive number that is nearly double the 540,000 signatures needed to force a recall election. It would mark the first such gubernatorial recall in state history – in all of U.S. history there have been only two successful recalls of a governor. Organizers also filed enough signatures to recall Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and three GOP state senators. They had already filed petitions to recall Scott Fitzgerald, the Republican Senate Majority Leader.

The number of signatures filed to recall Gov. Walker nearly equals the total votes cast for Walker in November 2010 election and ensures the recall election will be held, said officials with the state Democratic Party and United Wisconsin, the group that launched the Walker recall. ”It is beyond legal challenge,” said Ryan Lawler, vice chairman of United Wisconsin.

Former U.S. Rep. Dave Obey, who has been in state politics for a half-century, called the recall effort “an amazing development.” But, “what is unprecedented is the way that the governor and his allies ran roughshod over normal legislative and political procedures,” said Obey, declining to say whether he might run against Walker. “He’s abused the very process that elected him, and that’s what’s got people so angry.”

Full Article: Democrats to file 1 million signatures for Walker recall – JSOnline .

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Monday, January 16, 2012

NAACP Puts Voter Photo ID Laws in Crosshairs

The Root: Before a South Carolina rally, NAACP President told The Root of plans to fight the laws and educate young black voters.

The joint appearance of NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder Monday morning at the annual "King Day at the Dome" rally at the State House in Columbia, S.C., speaks volumes in and of itself. Monday marks the first time Holder will have been in the Palmetto State since Dec. 23, when the U.S. Department of Justice struck down its new voter photo ID law, which DOJ says would likely have disenfranchised minorities, students and disabled voters alike.

The optics of their joint appearance -- the leader of the nation's oldest and most storied civil rights organization and the country's top law-enforcement officer -- send a signal about the intent, through legal challenges and social advocacy, to make voting rights a high priority in an already contentious election year. The rally takes place five days before the South Carolina primary.

The United States is a nation with a patchwork of laws on voter identification -- some states with strict policies, others with no policy at all. Thirty-one states require voters to show IDs before voting. In 2011, eight states -- Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin -- enacted variations of the same rule, requiring some form of photo identification. Critics of the laws argue that they disenfranchise voters of color and young voters, who are less likely to possess and be able to afford the required identification.

In an interview with The Root before his South Carolina address, Jealous spoke about the importance of the Justice Department action against South Carolina, the possible impact of new voter ID laws and the strategies for blunting their potentially suppressive impact on voter turnout in the 2012 election.

Jealous, who has appeared at previous King Day at the Dome rallies, noted that the 2012 event takes place amid growing attention to voter ID laws in general, and specifically a tough new immigration law enacted in South Carolina. A federal judge blocked some of that law's more restrictive parts, such as allowing police and authorities to check the immigration status of any suspect. But the amended measure -- widely seen as a copycat of Arizona's controversial immigration law -- went into effect on Jan. 1, despite lawsuits by the Justice Department and advocacy groups.

"This state, like so many others in the Deep South, has engaged in state-sponsored voter suppression," Jealous said. "Two years ago we were dealing with a recession; what's different this year is that the state has sought to focus special energy on suppressing voters of color. But there's also been a ruthless attack here on migrant workers' rights. The attack on the rights of immigrants will be a focus of my comments [Monday] and on this march."

Read page 2 of the story @ The Root

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U.S. Attorney General Vows to Protect Voters’ Rights At MLK Day Services

Attorney General Eric Holder defended his department’s civil rights agenda today, delivering a speech at an event honoring Martin Luther King Jr. at South Carolina's state capitol in Columbia. Holder’s speech was sponsored by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, took place at the state capitol in Columbia, S.C., where the Confederate flag still flies on the north end after it was moved from atop the dome in 2000 following NAACP protests.

The speech comes one month after Mr. Holder delivered a voting rights speech on the University of Texas campus at the library of President Lyndon B. Johnson in Austin. (More on Holder's LBJ Library speech here and here.)

South Carolina’s passage, and the U.S. Justice Department’s subsequent rejection of, a controversial voter photo ID law last year has sparked a rancorous political fight putting South Carolina and the Department of Justice on a collision course with the Supreme Court over the constitutionality of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act verses state's rights.

The rallying cry of states' rights was used to defend slavery before the Civil War and racial segregation during the post-World War II battles over civil rights.

Holder’s Justice Department opposes very restrictive voter photo identification laws such as passed by the South Carolina and Texas legislatures in 2011. The department announced last month it would block South Carolina’s attempts to require voters to show one of a very limited selection of dated and unexpired government issued photo identification, which up to 25% of some minority groups do not hold. Minority and senior citizen advocacy groups oppose these restrictive photo ID laws because there is a strong evidence that the laws will restrict the voting rights of elderly, poor, and racial minority voters.

South Carolina’s controversial restrictive voter photo ID law was the subtext for Mr. Holder's address to those gathered to honor the life and work of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In reference to the constitutionality of section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Mr. Holder said:

Section 5 – which requires preclearance of proposed voting changes in parts or all of sixteen states – continues to be a critical tool in the protection of voting rights. In 2006, it was reauthorized with overwhelming bipartisan – and near-unanimous – support in Congress, before being signed by President Bush. However, despite the long history of support for Section 5, this keystone of our voting rights laws is now being challenged as unconstitutional by several jurisdictions. Each of these lawsuits claims that we’ve attained a new era of electoral equality, that America in 2012 has moved beyond the challenges of 1965, and that Section 5 is no longer necessary.

I wish this were the case. But the reality is that – in jurisdictions across the country – both overt and subtle forms of discrimination remain all too common. And though nearly five decades have passed since Dr. King shared his vision from the mountaintop – despite all the progress we’ve made, the barriers we’ve broken down, and the divisions we’ve healed – as a nation, we have not yet reached the Promised Land.

That’s why the Justice Department will continue to vigorously defend Section 5 against challenges to its constitutionality.

Full text of Mr. Holder's speech courtesy of the Department of Justice website.

Updated January 16, 2012 @ 6:45pm

In July 2006, President Bush signed the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act in a ceremony praising the participation of civil rights leaders, including family members of Dr. King. The bill passed 98-0 in the Senate and 390-33 in the House. Although there were Republican members of the House and Senate who voiced objections that section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (requiring states with a history of discrimination to get permission from the federal government before changing their voting rules) violated states' rights, President Bush ignored those objections.

At the South Carolina Republican presidential debate tonight, that 2006 bipartisan Republican support of the Voting Rights Act evaporated in favor of the old south's "states' rights" argument. Fox News’ Juan Williams asked Texas governor Rick Perry whether the federal government still has a role to play in protecting voting rights in a state like South Carolina, [which has a history of using Jim Crow type laws to prevent African Americans from voting,] in reference to the USDOJ’s denial of preclearance of South Carolina’s voter ID law and South Carolina’s threat to take the issue all the way to the Supreme Court.

Juan Williams: Are you suggesting on this Martin Luther King Jr. Day that the federal government has no business scrutinizing the voting laws of states where minorities were once denied the right to vote?”

Governor Perry responded: “I’m saying that the state of Texas is under assault by the federal government. I’m saying also that South Carolina is at war with this federal government and with this administration. When you look at what this Justice Department has done, not only have they taken them to task on voter i.d.,…”

(Watch the video)

More:

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Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King


Dr. Martin Luther King
(Jan. 15, 1929 - April 4, 1968)
The 1965 Voting Rights Act was a natural follow on to the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Ironically, the 1964 Act had resulted in an outbreak of violence in the South. White racists had launched a campaign against the success that Martin Luther King had had in getting African Americans to register to vote. The violence reminded Johnson that more was needed if the civil rights issue was to be suitably reduced.

Johnson introduced to Congress the idea of a Voting Rights Act in what is considered to be one of his best speeches:
"Rarely are we met with a challenge…..to the values and the purposes and the meaning of our beloved Nation. The issue of equal rights for American Negroes is such as an issue…..the command of the Constitution is plain. It is wrong - deadly wrong - to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country."
With his commitment to the cause, Congress realized that Johnson would not back down on this issue and if they hindered or failed to back it, Americans would view the failure to be one by Congress alone.

The Act was passed. It outlawed literacy tests and poll taxes as a way of assessing whether anyone was fit or unfit to vote. As far as Johnson was concerned, all you needed to vote was American citizenship and the registration of your name on an electoral list. No form of hindrance to this would be tolerated by the law courts.

The impact of this act was dramatic. By the end of 1966, only 4 out of the traditional 13 Southern states, had less than 50% of African Americans registered to vote. By 1968, even hard-line Mississippi had 59% of African Americans registered. In the longer term, far more African Americans were elected into public office.

The Act was the boost that the civil rights cause needed to move it swiftly along and Johnson has to take full credit for this. As Martin Luther King had predicted in earlier years, demonstrations served a good purpose but real change would only come through the power of Federal government.

"I Have a Dream" speech, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s address at the March on Washington on August 28, 1963. Washington, D.C.

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Poll: Republicans Could Be Heading For A Devastating 2012 Defeat

PoliticusUSA on Democracy Corps poll

A new Democracy Corps poll revealed a nightmare scenario for Republicans where not only does Obama get reelected but Democrats regain total control of Congress.

According to Democracy Corps, for the first time in two years the Democratic Party has taken the lead on the generic congressional ballot, 47%-44%.

The bad news for the GOP is that Independents have shifted back to the Democratic Party. In the previous surveys congressional Republicans led congressional Democrats by a net 9 points in October and 19 points in August with Independents, but today Democrats have taken a two point lead.

Why have the Democrats surged? The answer is that the behavior of Republicans in Congress has turned off voters. By a margin of 53%-39% respondents said the more they watched the Republicans in Congress, the less they like what they are offering. Approval of Republicans in Congress has dropped to a new low of 28%, and 8% strongly approve of the Republican caucus.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Texas Responds to USDOJ With Requested Minority Voter Photo ID Information

On Thursday, the Texas secretary of state’s office sent the minority voter photo ID information to the U.S. Department of Justice that the USDOJ had requested last September and again on November 16, 2011. If Texas had not returned the requested information to the USDOJ by Monday, January 16, 2012, the USDOJ would likely have rejected Texas request for preclearance of Senate Bill 14 - Texas' voter photo ID legislation. The USDOJ now has up to 60 additional days to review the recently submitted information before rendering a decision to approve or block the law.

When the U.S. Justice Department blocked South Carolina's new voter ID law on December 23, 2011, because of possible discrimination against minorities, attention quickly focused on Texas, which passed nearly identical photo ID legislation in 2011.

Of the eight states that passed voter ID bills last year, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas -- because of a history of past discrimination against minority voters -- must have pre-clearance from the Justice Department before instituting new procedures. Under Section 5 of the federal Voting Rights Act, the Justice Department reserves the right to review laws that affect voter participation before they are enacted.

The four other states enacting voter photo ID laws in 2011, which are not covered by the Voting Rights Act preclearance requirement, are Kansas, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Wisconsin. Mississippi adopted its photo ID law by voter referendum in November 2011 as an amendment to the state Constitution. Indiana and Georgia were already enforcing strict voter photo ID laws for the 2008 presidential election. Governors vetoed bills passed by legislatures in 2011 in Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, and North Carolina.
Originally set to go into effect on January 1, 2012, the Texas law would require voters to present one of a limited selection of government issued photo IDs to election Judges in order to qualify to vote. The accepted forms of currently dated photo identification are: Department of Public Safety issued Texas driver's license, Texas election ID , or personal identification card; Texas concealed handgun license; U.S. military ID card; U.S. citizenship certificate; or U.S. passport.

On November 16, 2011 Christian Herren Jr., the U.S. Department of Justice (USDOJ) Civil Rights Division Voting Section Chief, informed the Texas Secretary of State’s office by letter that the state had yet to provide the voter photo ID related information the USDOJ requested at the end of September.

In the letter, Herren informed the Texas Director of Elections, Ann McGeehan, that without the requested information the USDOJ is unable to determine if the voter photo ID law will “have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race, color, or membership in a language minority group.” The USDOJ must make that determination before the law may be implemented.

Texas had 60 days from the date of Herren's Nov. 16th letter to respond with the requested data.

The Secretary of State filed its original request for preclearance in July, but the USDOJ determined in September that it needed more information. Specifically the USDOJ requested the racial breakdown and counties of residence of the estimated 605,576 registered voters who do not have a state-issued license or photo ID, and how many of them have Spanish surnames. It requested the same information for registered voters who do have valid IDs.

The Texas Secretary of State (TXSOS) had initially told the DOJ that 605,576 registered Texas voters do not appear to have a Texas driver’s license or personal ID card. The SOS report indicates that in 27 of Texas' 254 counties, at least 10 percent of the registered voters might be unable to cast ballots. In Presidio County in Southwest Texas as many as 25.9% of registered voters might not have the required photo ID, which will block as many as 1,313 out of the 5,066 registered voters in that county from casting ballots in any election.

Last fall, the Brennan Center for Justice issued a report on its research that shows as many as 11% of eligible voters nationwide do not hold a government issue photo ID. With 18.8 million voting age citizens in Texas, as counted by the 2010 U.S. census, as many as 2.1 million (11 percent) registered and unregistered voting age citizens in Texas possibly do not hold a Texas driver’s license, personal ID card or other government issued photo ID document.

On October 5 Texas responded to the USDOJ by saying it did not have the requested information because it does not collect race data on voter registration applications. So instead, it submitted a spreadsheet list of all the Hispanic surnames in Texas, as determined by the U.S. Census Bureau. The spreadsheet shows how many voters did not provide an ID when they registered to vote, how many voters did not provide an ID, but whose records matched an ID record in the Department of Public Safety database — meaning they have been issued an ID — and those who did not provide an ID and could not be matched with a DPS record.

The Texas Democratic Party followed up with its own letter and spreadsheet to the USDOJ showing that in at least 46 Texas counties, over half the voters who do not have one of the required photo ID's are Hispanic. The Texas Democratic Party and various organizations staunchly opposed SB14 on the grounds it will disenfranchise elderly and minority voters.

Though the state subsequently said it would use DPS data to compile a breakdown of Hispanic surnames, it had yet to submit the information to the USDOJ by mid-November. On November 16, USDOJ Civil Rights Division Voting Section Chief T. Christian Herren Jr. sent a letter to the Secretary of State's office reminding the state that it provided “incomplete” information that does not enable USDOJ Civil Rights officials to determine whether their proposed voter ID law would be discriminatory.

“Although you did not indicate a date when this information would be available, you noted that the state will provide the results of its analysis as expeditiously as possible,” the letter stated.

On Thursday, January 12, 2012 the Texas secretary of state’s office finally sent the additional information to the USDOJ, which restarts the 60 day clock on when the department must to make a decision about whether the law complies with the Voting Rights Act. The USDOJ may make that determination at anytime before the new March 13, 2012 deadline.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

SCOTUS And The Texas Redistricting Dispute

In a rare afternoon session on Monday, only a month after accepting the case, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard a Texas redistricting dispute that is complicated in every way except its bottom line: four new congressional seats that have the potential to decide which party controls the House of Representatives. The Supreme Court justices signaled, through their questions to the lawyers arguing the case for each side, that it is unlikely the court will simply allow elections for this cycle to go forward using the state's maps drawn by the legislature last summer, or the interim maps drawn by the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio.

It is widely thought that the Justices will vacate the San Antonio court's decision on the interim maps and instead allow the D.C. circuit court three judge panel to answer with finality the Section 5 Voting Rights Act questions on the state's maps drawn by the legislature. All side are impatiently waiting the Supreme Court's decision.

The D.C. circuit court trial starts Jan 17 and will run through the first week of February. This would at least mean another postponement for Texas' primary election, and probably means a bifurcated primary.

In an email to party members this morning, Texas Republican Party Chair Steve Munisteri said that a split primary is looking more likely. Munisteri explained that the state conventions planned by the Texas Democratic and Republican parties are set for June and can't be rescheduled.
"There has to be a primary for at least some races by early April, in order to have the two parties' state conventions," Munisteri wrote. "Cancelling the state conventions is not an option for several reasons. First, the already incurred contractual obligations of the parties would jeopardize the financial health of both parties. Second, it is important that the State of Texas be able to pick delegates to the Republican National Convention so that we can have an impact on the Presidential race....Third, the Texas Election Code requires that we have a state convention. And fourth, we need to have elections for party officers, including State Chairman, Vice-Chairman, National Committeeman and Committeewoman, and the members of the State Republican Executive Committee."

Even if the primary is only delayed until May, instead of June, Munisteri explained that that still would not allow enough time for the Texas Republican Party to properly plan for its June state convention. With few options left, hosting two Texas primaries may end up the only viable solution remaining.

Another change to the primary election schedule will give Texas election officials a genuine headache and Texas tax payers a pain in the wallet. As reported in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

Holding two primaries would likely double the costs to Texas taxpayers, election officials have said. The Texas secretary of state's office reimburses Republican and Democratic parties around the state for much of the expenses related to hosting the primaries. In 2010, the state paid party organizations $13.9 million for primary elections and runoffs, state records show.

Locally, the final election schedule is likely to create logistical and financial issues for the Tarrant County Elections Office. Elections Administrator Steve Raborn has said hosting two primaries could end up costing Tarrant County more than $700,000.

Delaying the primaries until June could also pose problems. Raborn noted that many schools that serve as polling places are likely to be closed or undergoing construction or maintenance over the summer.

Other concerns include finding enough election workers over the summer and potential overlap from the local city and school district elections scheduled for May. Runoffs for those elections are currently scheduled for June.

Either way Texas voters and taxpayers look to lose. All because Texas Republicans couldn't draw fair maps that took into account the state's rich diversity.

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Other Republicans Agree Not to Tell Rick Perry Where Next Debate Is

CONCORD, NH (The Borowitz Report)

In a move that they are calling “the only humane thing to do,” the other Republican candidates for President have agreed not to tell Texas governor Rick Perry where the next debate is being held.

Texas Gov. Rick PerryThe candidates reached the decision after a two-debate weekend in which Mr. Perry put in a performance that, in the words of former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, was “brave, but painful to watch.”

Immediately following the final New Hampshire debate on Sunday morning, an awkward scene unfolded onstage as Mr. Perry asked the other candidates, “So, where is everyone going now?”

“Um, I don’t know, Rick,” said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, looking down at his shoes.

“Isn’t there going to be another debate after this?” Mr. Perry persisted.

“Not that I know of, Rick,” said former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, pretending to text with his phone. “I’ll let you know if I hear anything.”

After Mr. Perry left the stage, Mr. Romney told a reporter that he “felt bad about fibbing to Rick,” but added, “Putting him out there onstage again would just be cruel.”

The Borowitz Report - Satire

For a less tongue in cheek story on Rick Perry read, "Rick Perry Relegated to the Side Stage in the 2-for-1 New Hampshire Debates" by Eileen Smith @ The Texas Observer.

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

U.S. Supreme Court On Monday Will Hear Texas Redistricting Arguments

SCOTUS Blog

At 1 p.m. on Monday, the Supreme Court will hold 70 minutes of argument in three cases — being heard on an expedited schedule — on the new election districts that Texas will use in 2012 balloting for the state legislature and for its expanded delegation in Congress. Arguing for the state of Texas, with 30 minutes of time, will be former U.S. Solicitor General Paul D. Clement, now in private practice in Washington with the Bancroft law firm. He will be followed by Principal Deputy U.S. Solicitor General Sri Srinivasan, arguing for the federal government as an amicus, with ten minutes. Arguing next, for the challengers to the state legislature’s redistricting maps, with 30 minutes, will be Jose Garza, a private attorney in San Antonio who has been representing the Mexican American Legislative Caucus in these cases.


Background

Just as the Supreme Court’s controversial ruling two years ago in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission has become a major influence on the financing of the 2012 elections, the Court’s coming decision this Term on three legislative redistricting cases from Texas may have a strong impact on who wins some key election contests — and might even help settle control of the new U.S. House in the Congress that gathers next January. The ruling also may bring a severe test of the constitutionality of America’s most important law on the voting opportunities of minorities, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. For a case that could be decided on very narrow grounds, it has developed potentially historic proportions.

Continue reading @ SCOTUS Blog »

But no matter what the Supreme Court justices decide, congressional and legislative maps need to be in place before the preparations for the primary election, now scheduled for April 3, can go forward.

Michael Li's Guide to the Supreme Court Case

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Should Any Democrat Call Themself A Ron Paul Supporter?

2012 presidential candidate and current U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R TX-14) Some Democrats cheer Ron Paul because of his devastating critique of crony capitalism, his equally trenchant challenge to imperialistic wars and his opposition to the National Defense Authorization Act provisions that pose a threat to our civil liberties. But just because Ron Paul opposes crony capitalism, imperialist interventions in foreign countries and government over reach doesn’t mean he has a liberal or progressive bone in his body.

Summer Ludwig at the excellent blog Addicting Info says:

As anyone with a blog, YouTube account, MySpace page, or web site knows Ron Paul supporters are everywhere! The internet is filled with them. The frightening thing that I have witnessed is that many liberal voters are giving some credence to Ron Paul’s campaign and message. He somehow comes across as different or better than the run of the mill conservatives filling the Republican ticket.

I do not support Ron Paul in ANY and I find his Congressional record and policies to be, at times, even scarier than his counterparts. The only thing that I have found to agree with him on is the fact that he does not support the war in Iraq. After extensive research I have compiled a list of 10 reasons NOT to vote for Ron Paul!

  1. Ron Paul does not value equal rights for minorities.
  2. Ron Paul would deny women control of their bodies and reproductive rights [by supporting government regulation over women's reproductive decisions and health services]
  3. Ron Paul would be disastrous for the working class.
  4. Ron Paul’s tax plan is unfair to lower earners and would greatly benefit those with the highest incomes.
  5. Ron Paul’s policies would cause irreparable damage to our already strained environment.
  6. A Ron Paul administration would continue to proliferate the negative image of the US among other nations.
  7. Ron Paul discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation and would not provide equal rights and protections to GLBT citizens.
  8. Ron Paul has an unnatural obsession with guns.
  9. Ron Paul would butcher our already sad educational system.
  10. Ron Paul is opposed to the separation of church and state.

Read the detailed explanation of each of these 10 points at Addicting Info.

As Ted McLaughlin writes of these 10 points at his excellent jobsanger blog:
But after studying the list for a while, I had to admit to myself that this list would be a good one for ANY of the Republican candidates this year. I initially had some doubts about a couple of the reasons -- numbers 6 and 8. There is no doubt that foreign policy under Ron Paul would be radically different than under the other Republican candidates, since he is an isolationist (and that is a ludicrous idea in this modern world). But all of the others would re-institute the Bush foreign policy, which was an abject failure and had even our friends angry with us. Truly, the foreign policy of any of the Republican candidates would create a negative image for the United States on the world stage.

That list is a good one, and it provides some very valid reasons for not voting for Ron Paul. But it also provides some valid reasons for not voting for any of the Republican candidates. A Republican vote in 2012 is a vote for national disaster.
The Nation: Three Myths About Ron Paul - Civil libertarians and non-interventionists on both the right and left are praising Paul, but they should know his views are wrong on more than economics:
In general, Paul’s commitment is only to limiting federal power, not proactively protecting individual rights. Paul is adamantly opposed to federal protections of civil rights from states or private enterprises. Paul says the Americans with Disabilities Act “should never have been passed,” because “it’s an intrusion into private property rights.” He even says he would have voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If Congress passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to ban discrimination in the workplace on the basis of sexual orientation, Paul would presumably veto it.

Paul also opposes abortion rights and says he wants Roe v. Wade repealed so the issue can be decided by the states.
Since the foundation of the Supreme Court's Roe decision is the court's 1965 fundamental right of privacy Griswold v. Connecticut decision, Paul presumably wants that court decision repealed, too. In Griswold v. Connecticut the court found state laws forbidding the sale, purchase and use of books and products for the purpose of birth control were unconstitutional.

Finally, as Ta-Nehisi Coates, a senior editor for The Atlantic, writes: Paul’s "Shaggy Defense" of his newsletters — which have garnered attention for their racist passages — is at best questionable.

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