U.S. federal Judge Thomas Schroeder in Winston-Salem, North Carolina today hears a case against the state over its sweeping voter ID bill. HB 589 changed overnight from about 17 pages to over 50 in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder that weakened the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The NAACP, the U.S. Justice Department and others claim the photo ID requirement unduly burdens black and Hispanic voters:
The trial over North Carolina’s voter ID law is set to begin Monday in front of Schroeder, a federal judge since 2008 who was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush.
The legal battle is one of several being watched across the nation as the courts address questions of the fairness and lasting impacts that ID laws have on voting rights.
In North Carolina, voters will be required this year to use one of six specified IDs when they cast ballots — unless they can show they faced a “reasonable impediment” for getting one.
Apparently this happened in Iowa pic.twitter.com/dXZbPItUBw
— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) January 24, 2016
This guy is back at Ted Cruz events in Iowa, now dressed as a Mountie pic.twitter.com/Fyb3qzAc5z
— Katie Zezima (@katiezez) January 23, 2016
Guess Cruz is an acquired taste:
One of the Mounties — who refused to give his name or say if he’s even an Iowan, though he insisted he doesn’t represent any campaign or party, Democrat or Republican — also held a sign that read “Ted Cruz Likes Nickelback.”
It’s a sly attack, bordering on obscure. The stars of the oft-maligned Canadian grunge band grew up in Alberta, the same province where Cruz was born.
A flurry of articles in the last 10 days have pointed out both Hillary Clinton’s and Bernie Sanders’ weaknesses as candidates. They also have their strengths. Those are worth debating on their merits (without rancor, please). But as the cliché suggests, what many don’t acknowledge they really want in an elected leader is a soul mate. As Seinfeld would say, not that there’s anything wrong with that. If that’s what you really want. (Cue Mick Jagger.)
I saw this phenomenon up close at ScruHoo when Heath Shuler ran for re-election in 2010. Progressive readers in the Cesspool of Sin by then had had enough of our Blue Dog and cited a catalog of sins for which they would never forgive him (and certainly would never again vote for him). I got curious. A few weeks later I posted:
The National Review’s “dump Trump” edition this week attracted plenty of commentary, including from Digby and Amanda Marcotte. The Republican National Committee, having raised a white flag to Donald Trump, disinvited the National Review from partnering on a February 25 candidate debate in Houston. There is feverish pearl clutching on the pundit circuit, especially in the pages of the Washington Post (being closer to political ground zero than the Times, one supposes).
“A xenophobic and bigoted showman is now the face of the Republican Party and of American conservatism,” writes Dana Milbank. He observes that the Wall Street Journal wrote last July, “If Donald Trump becomes the voice of conservatives, conservatism will implode along with him.” Now the Journal has changed its tune:
A week ago, the Journal reversed course. “Mr. Trump is a better politician than we ever imagined, and he is becoming a better candidate,” the editorialists wrote, speculating that “he might possibly be able to appeal to a larger set of voters than he has so far.”
The establishment Journal has decided to roll with it.
And what exactly did Grady Flores do to warrant spending the next six months in jail? She photographed a peaceful protest outside Hancock Field Air National Guard Base near Syracuse, New York. The base is where the US trains pilots to launch drone strikes in the Middle East, particularly in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. It wasn’t a crime for her to be taking pictures of the demonstration, but when she briefly and unintentionally — yes, unintentionally — stepped onto a road that belongs to the base, she violated what authorities called “an order of protection,” which had been issued in 2012 to forbid protesters from approaching the home or workplace of Col. Earl Evans, a commander of the 174th Attack Wing of the Air National Guard. She had never met Evans, never threatened him, never showed any intention of harming him.
Nonetheless, a town justice, David Gideon, issued the order to “protect” the Colonel from the activists. That’s right — the commander of a major military operation, piloting drones on lethal missions half-way around the world, requested a court order of protection against a group of mostly gray-haired demonstrators whom he had never met. In stepping briefly on the roadway at the base, Grady Flores violated that order, despite the fact that, as she says, “We weren’t at the security gate. We were out at the roadway.”
Proving that quote from Peanuts‘ Linus, Ta-Nehisi Coates took Bernie Sanders to task in the Atlantic for failing to support reparations for slavery. When asked in Iowa about the issue, Sanders said he did not support reparations:
“Its likelihood of getting through Congress is nil,” he told Fusion in an interview. “Second of all, I think it would be very divisive.”
Coates questioned why Sanders’ “political imagination is so active against plutocracy, but so limited against white supremacy.” Furthermore:
If not even an avowed socialist can be bothered to grapple with reparations, if the question really is that far beyond the pale, if Bernie Sanders truly believes that victims of the Tulsa pogrom deserved nothing, that the victims of contract lending deserve nothing, that the victims of debt peonage deserve nothing, that that political plunder of black communities entitle them to nothing, if this is the candidate of the radical left—then expect white supremacy in America to endure well beyond our lifetimes and lifetimes of our children.
Death by a thousand cuts is a kind of political strategy movement conservatives have deployed against adversaries for decades. Too bad they also deploy it against the country whose flag they display on their lapels.
Thomas Edsall this morning examines the effects of Republican Party members toeing to rigid conservative orthodoxy. Besides opposition to any restraints on firearms, and denial of climate change and abortion rights, any measure that raises revenue to maintain the country they swore an oath to serve is anathema.
The beast they are determined to slowly starve in pursuit of ideological purity has a nickname: Uncle Sam. Edsall writes:
A majority of economists surveyed in 2012 by the University of
Chicago found that, despite Republican demands for austerity, the $831 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 stimulus legislation significantly reduced unemployment. Every Republican in the House voted against the bill on Feb. 13, 2009, as did 38 of 41 Republican senators on the same day.
Republican opposition to raising taxes, in turn, resulted in a decade-long delay before the enactment last year of long-term Highway Trust Fund legislation. During the delay, the nation’s infrastructure continued to decay, with one out of nine bridges considered structurally deficient; the Federal Aviation Administration estimated that airport overcrowding and delays cost the nation $22 billion annually; and 42 percent of major urban highways were congested.
Similarly, Republican cuts to the I.R.S. budget have resulted in a loss of tax revenue. In an April 2015 speech, John Koskinen, the commissioner of the I.R.S., noted that over the previous five years, as the number of taxpayers has grown, the I.R.S. budget was pared by $1.2 billion (to $10.9 billion from $12.1 billion), its lowest level since 1998, adjusted for inflation. In addition to a sharp reduction in the quality of services to taxpayers — the I.R.S. in 2015 answered only 37 percent of taxpayer phone inquiries — Koskinen said that “the drop in audit and collection case closures this year will translate into a loss for the government of at least $2 billion in revenue that otherwise would have been collected.”
Those lost funds might have supported providing safe drinking water in Flint or replacing weakened bridges in Minneapolis, or might have been used to support research by the Centers for Disease Control to fight Zika virus-caused microcephaly.
Edsall found that since the early George W. Bush administration, favorability ratings for Republicans in Congress have fallen from the high 40s to mid-50s to 14 percent last year. When you are dedicated to training voters to hate the government and you are the government, you reap what you sow.
The fact is that as political orthodoxy matures, it calcifies, imposing more costs than benefits. Politicians who submit to such doctrinal pressures threaten their own authenticity.
But that’s their problem. Authenticity for Republicans is Sarah Palin and Donald Trump. It’s Ted Cruz and Virginia Foxx and Jeff Sessions and Joni Ernst and Steve King and Trey Gowdy and Louie Gohmert and ….
(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)