The voter fraud frauds are at it again:

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Supporters and opponents of a Nebraska voter identification bill packed a public hearing Friday for a fierce debate over the measure.

The Legislature’s Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee heard heated arguments on a bill by Sen. Tyson Larson of O’Neill. The legislation would require voters to show a driver’s license or state identification card at a polling place. Fifteen other states have such a law.

[snip]

Doug Kagan of Nebraska Taxpayers for Freedom testified in support of the measure, saying it protects the sanctity of the system and compared voter ID laws to a vaccination preventing polio.

Because America’s Most Sanctimonious don’t want their elections tainted by diseased Others — infected with too much poor, too much melanin, or too much not-one-of-us.

Talking with a newly minted ex-Republican over the weekend, I recounted attending a 2013 “boot camp” for training T-party sleuths how to purge voter rolls. I wrote at the time that,

… they emphasized the need for getting dead and inactive voters off the rolls because of the possibility of widespread voter fraud — or was it a widespread possibility? — for which they never seem to produce evidence. Basically, T-partiers are convinced that if they lose an election it must be because their opponents cheated. What else could it be? Zombies? Bigfoot?!

Much of the day focused on dead and inactive voters who remain on the rolls (by law) too long for the T-party’s liking. So they employ crowd-sourced data-matching to get voters removed. Two women described perusing the MLS listings for homes for sale and foreclosures. Then they drive by, taking geocoded photos of the properties and any empty houses they find to prove to the local Board of Elections that people registered there no longer live there. They scour the daily obituaries for the freshly dead, then take the notices down to the local Board of Elections and try to have them removed from the voter rolls.

Of course, Board of Elections professionals could do all this with enough manpower and enough money from enough taxes … oh, right.

Not once in seven hours, I told my new friend, did anyone suggest expanding the franchise or registering new voters and encouraging them to exercise their right to vote. It was utterly defensive, aimed at keeping the imagined, invisible hoards of THEM  from casting ballots.

Her eyes grew wide in shock as she said, “That’s so sad.”

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)


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Jan
25

Gonna soak up the sums

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If nothing else, Sarah Palin’s “bizarro” speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit this weekend warmed up the crowd for the real cowboys.

But even as Republican presidential wannabes tried to out-right each other in Iowa, the people who count most in this country — those with the most to count — held their annual donors’ summit at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Rancho Mirage, CA. John Nichols, writing for The Nation:

“Americans used to think Iowa and New Hampshire held the first caucus and primary in the nation every four years. Not anymore,” explains Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. “Now the ‘Koch brothers primary’ goes first to determine who wins the blessing and financial backing of the billionaire class. This is truly sad and shows us how far Citizens United has gone to undermine American democracy.”

Sanders was referencing the five-year-old US Supreme Court ruling that struck down barriers to corporate spending to buy elections—one of a series of decisions that have dramatically increased the influence of not just of corporations but of billionaires like the Koch brothers.

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida chose not to attend the Iowa event, instead reserving their time for supplication at the Koch brothers’ event, along with another unofficial 2016 presidential contender, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker:

An hourlong panel discussion featuring U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida will take place at 8:30 p.m. Sunday. [PST, presumably]

ABC News chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl will moderate it, and the network will livestream part of it.

Perhaps Cruz will again repeat the Churchill’s bust nonsense as he did again in Iowa on Saturday. Debunked three years ago? No obstacle in this alternate universe.

Update: More detail on bustgate.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)


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Jan
25

Sunday Morning Music

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Jan
24

The Dickens, you say?

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As Digby said yesterday, they will never quit trying to dismantle the social safety net. Both here and abroad, it seems, we’ve gotta keep those “takers” from taking. They are somehow keeping our “Makers” from making. (Genuflect here.)

It seems the British have set up a system of sanctions to keep the eligible jobless from receiving help. And, boy howdy, you thought Fox News’ obsession over the grocery shopping habits of Americans receiving SNAP benefits was Dickensian. Check out the UK Independence Party (UKIP) in the land of Dickens:

“A Ukip parliamentary candidate named Lynton Yates this week suggested banning benefit claimants from driving: “Why do they have the privilege to spend the tax payers [sic] hard earned money on a car, when those in work are struggling to keep their own car on the road?” Ukip’s communications people said that Yates’s suggestions were “not Ukip policies and they will not form part of the Ukip manifesto”, and the media rejoiced in the week’s example of the party’s supposed fruitcakery – though at the time of writing, Mr Yates was still Ukip’s choice for the East Midlands seat of Charnwood.

But the problem isn’t his, or Ukip’s, alone. After all, in the sense that he proposed stripping “benefit claimants” of something most people take for granted, Yates’s plans merely sat on the outer edge of what now passes for mainstream thinking. When the state makes it clear that the poor and unfortunate are not to have spare bedrooms, and embraces the idea of stopping them buying booze and fags and shredding their entitlements if they have more than two kids, is it really such a leap to deny them non-public transport too? For all its inanity, there is a sadism at the heart of the Yates idea that is not a million miles away from the cruelties increasingly built into the benefits system: cruelties most of us would not put up with for a minute, but which are visited on thousands of people every week.

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Jan
23

Are we not Ubermen?

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Those using the Gregorian calendar count the years since the birth of Christ as Anno Domini, A.D. Bullshit is probably a lot older. But given that it’s a new millennium, maybe it’s time we started counting the years in A.B. “One of the most salient features of our culture,” as Aaron Hanlon quotes philosopher Harry Frankfurt at Salon, “is that there is so much bullshit.”

Case in point. In its obsession with turning everything on this planet into the Precious (other planets will come later), the Midas cult has turned its sights on sleep because “sleep is the enemy of capital.” Thus, sleep must be abolished. From caffeine-laced Red Bull to topical sprays to marshmallows, “perky jerky,” and military experiments with transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), Newsweek  looks at how we are waging the war on sleep:

For those looking to sleep less without drugs or military tech, there’s the “Uberman” sleep schedule: 20 minute naps taken every four hours. That’s just two hours of sleep in every 24 hours. Uberman is based on the theory that while humans experience two types of sleep, we only need one of those to stay alive. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is the stage in which we dream, and it also has been shown in lab tests to be critical to survival: Rodents deprived of REM sleep die after just five weeks. Then there is non-REM sleep, which itself is broken down into four separate stages. One of those is short wave sleep (or SWS). Scientists aren’t really sure what function SWS serves, and Uberman advocates argue that it may not be critical to survival at all.

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Jan
23

Friday Open Thread

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What’s the state of your union? Why aren’t there more states with them?


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Jan
22

Born under a bad sign

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On Wednesday, NPR ran a story about a Russian writer, Mikhail Bulgakov, whose work Stalin enjoyed, but whose ideas Stalin considered “too dangerous to publish.” Ideas are like that. Invasive. Pernicious. Bulletproof, as “V” said in the movie. They can spread like a virus. Or, reduced to shibboleths, become objects of worship. For many, freedom works like that now.

Also this week, Michael Kraus and Jacinth J. X. Tan of the University of Illinois released a paper on the role of a particularly virulent notion, essentialism, in how people see themselves and report their health:

In this research, we proposed and examined the possibility that lay theories that people hold about social class categories can mitigate class-related health disparities. Across three studies, we found that while lower-class individuals were more likely to report experiencing poorer health and greater negative self-conscious emotions compared to upper-class individuals when they endorsed essentialist beliefs about social class, this class-based difference was not observed when participants endorsed non-essentialist beliefs about social class.

Basically, if you are poor and believe social status is inbred
—in your genes—you are more likely to report being unhealthy, the study suggests. Poor people without this belief are more likely to report being healthier and less likely to accept their status as unchangeable.

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Jan
21

“I won both of them”

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The State of the Union address last night did not disappoint as entertainment (although the president’s pitch for “middle-class economics” didn’t exactly sing to me). President Obama was surprisingly buoyant for a leader whose party got hammered in the fall elections and now occupies less of the House chambers than in a generation. (Transcript here.)

The zinger of the night came when Obama remarked, “I have no more campaigns to run,” and scattered Republicans applauded. The president grinned and shot back, “I know, because I won both of them.”

And maybe that’s Obama’s secret. Freedom’s just another thing…, you know. With his recent in-your-face executive actions, he looks like a leader and the country is responding. His approval ratings hit 50 percent for the first time since the spring of 2013.

Joan Walsh described the speech as “an epic combination of sweet-talking and trash-talking, cajoling and trolling.” Speaker John Boehner, looking darker than ever, sat through the speech, looking sickly. Walsh:

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Jan
20

TP-ing the SOTU

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The T-party will again provide its own response to President Obama’s State of the Union address tonight, Rachel Maddow reports. Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa will give the official Republican response. She may be about the only member of the Senate to the right of Sen. Ted Cruz, Maddow observed. Just not right enough.

The T-party response will come from the same smirking freshman congressman, Rep. Curt Clawson of Florida, who, in a subcommittee hearing last July, mistook two senior American officials from the State Department and from Commerce for Indian nationals. Guess why:


“I’m familiar with your country; I love your country,” the freshman congressman said. “Anything I can do to make the relationship with India better, I’m willing and enthusiastic about doing so.”

“Just as your capital is welcome here to produce good-paying jobs in the U.S., I’d like our capital to be welcome there,” he added. “I ask cooperation and commitment and priority from your government in so doing. Can I have that?”

“I think your question is to the Indian government,” Nisha Biswal said. “We certainly share your sentiment, and we certainly will advocate that on behalf of the U.S.” Working for the State Department, Biswal is a diplomat. Can you tell?

Clawson won his seat in a special election to replace Rep. Trey Radel, who resigned after a conviction for cocaine possession.

If we’re in luck, Clawson will display the same smug, false confidence again. As Maddow said, tonight’s SOTU should be fun.

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)


Categories : National, News, Republicans
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An acquaintance asked Saturday what happens if the Supreme Court rules this summer to lift gay marriage bans across the country. It seems unlikely the Roberts court will overturn rulings in 36 states, he said. He worried that, since so many of the shifts on gay marriage across the country originated in the courts, that the right will not simply use the decision to energize their base in 2016, but to further colonize and control the courts. In fact that has already been occurring, according to Chris Kromm of the Institute for Southern Studies:

Today, special interests are spending record amounts of money on court elections in the 38 states that elect justices to the bench. As a Facing South/Institute for Southern Studies report showed, more than $3 million poured into races for North Carolina’s higher courts in 2014, the first election since state lawmakers — with the help of millionaire donor and political operative Art Pope — eliminated North Carolina’s judicial public financing program.

The controversy over Big Money’s attempted takeover of the courts is now coming to a head. Next week, the U.S. Supreme Court will begin hearing Williams-Yulee vs. The Florida Bar, a case involving a challenge to Florida’s law barring judicial candidates from personally soliciting campaign contributions.

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