Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Voting Rights Act

July 1, 2013

A brief recap: The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was put into place to stop voting practices which discriminated against African Americans including poll taxes, “literacy tests” (graded at the discretion of the local polling official) and having voting sites at inaccessible or hostile locations.

The VRA was a historic and amazing accomplishment in a society badly wounded by institutionalized racial inequality, a society which has mended somewhat over time, but is not yet healed.

Most of the Act deals generally with ensuring the equal right to vote of  citizens without regard to race or color. Section 4 and 5 dealt with the identification of and special requirements of places where discriminatory voting policies have previously been enacted. Among the requirements was that places designated in Section 4(b) had to ask for permission to change voting practices according to Section 5.

On Tuesday, June 25th, the Supreme Court of the United States of America ruled that section 4(b) of the VRA is unconstitutional, until and unless Congress rewrites section 4(b) to be dependent on newer data, which is unlikely without serious pressure applied by constituents. The result is that Section 5 has become invalid and places which have historically created obstacles to minorities trying to vote will be able to do so again by changing voting practices- create tests or voting requirements, change polling places, etc- without asking for permission of  the Justice Department.

Local governments will be able to require  specific IDs which have to be purchased, and will be able to designate hard to get to or historically “whites only” country clubs as the polling places. And yes, some of these things may run afoul of other sections of the VRA, but without the need to get approval ahead of time, it may mean that large scale disenfranchisement will occur before an appeal is heard, and long before a ruling.

Despite proposed laws even in the last year which were rejected and “would have made it more difficult for hundreds of thousands of minority voters to cast ballots*” there are those who say that Section 5 is now unnecessary.

I disagree. Section 5 is necessary. The coverage map should be changed to make it respond to current conditions, which may have worsened in some unprotected areas, but perhaps a small change to Section 4(b) would suffice.

From this:

(b) The provisions of subsection (a) shall apply in any State or in any political subdivision of a state which (1) the Attorney General determines maintained on November 1, 1964, any test or device, and with respect to which (2) the Director of the Census determines that less than 50 percentum of the persons of voting age residing therein were registered on November 1, 1964, or that less than 50 percentum of such persons voted in the presidential election of November 1964.

To this:

(b) The provisions of subsection (a) shall apply in any State or in any political subdivision of a state which (1) the Attorney General determines maintained on November 1st of the second to last Presidential Election Year, any test or device, and with respect to which (2) the Director of the Census determines that less than 50 percentum of the persons of voting age residing therein were registered on November 1st of the second to last Presidential Election Year, or that less than 50 percentum of such persons voted in the presidential election of November of the second to last Presidential Election Year.

This would ensure that the areas thus covered would be those which recently had issues with no future need to revise to a specific date. Whether or not this solution appeals to you, Congress should act to protect the voting rights of all citizens.

Please remind them of this fact. (You can find your Senate and House Representatives here and here.)

*Brennan Center for Justice

Today is the first SF Pride post DOMA and Prop 8

June 30, 2013

I expect it will be fabulous. (I am writing this to auto post while I am at the SF Pride Parade.)

I will be bearing my sign saying “Leviticus says… Crazy Shit” in bisexual colors (minus the pink since it doesn’t show up on signs) and marching with the Atheist/Humanist Contingent.

This is my favorite activist event every year, and the one which I never miss if I’m in the area.

There are loads of people who are intersectionally aware activists, who are not just gay rights activists, but also feminists, secularists, fair wage, pro immigrant, pro education, and civil rights activists as well. People who are aware that helping groups gain equal rights helps all of us, not just the one group, and who are truly interested in human rights, not just whatever aspects most directly effect them.

Sleep the night before is made difficult by excitement, sleep the night after is effortless from exhaustion.

I hope everyone enjoys this as much as I will.

Activist Whiplash

June 26, 2013

Yesterday the Voting Rights Act was gutted, which will cause who knows how many people to be disenfranchised.

Yesterday Obama gave a speech about global warming where he appropriately likened global warming denialists to flat earthers.

From yesterday through this morning Wendy Davis- and her supporters in the crowd- filibustered a bill which would have closed most of the abortion clinics in Texas and (further) compromised bodily autonomy for women.

Today, DOMA was ruled unconstitutional and Prop 8 was deemed a state matter. Which means that marriage is no longer being “defended” from consenting adults who wish to be married, and that my state is belatedly on the right side of this issue.

To say I have strong feelings about these things would be an understatement.

I will attempt to blog about each of them over the next week or so, along with writing about the SF Pride Parade – I will be marching with the atheist contingent – but first I just feel the need to breathe. Maybe after petting Sokka or having a cup of tea I will be able to write about all of this.

Patriarchal Bingo, Wendy Davis and the Texas GOP

June 26, 2013

The Texas Senate Livestream stopped, to be replaced by a message about where to view Senate events.

I am still stunned.

I came late to the event: I arrive home from work about 15 minutes before 10. (California time) I found my twitter feed had gone mad about Texas, but that’s not a first time thing. The fact that the hashtags all mentioned a Wendy was a little odd.

So I tweet my confusion, and then pulled up everything I can on google  and blow through 5 articles on the matter before I find the live feed. I have become livid.

The monstrosity of a bill is bad enough, but by the time I am tuned in, the Senate has voted- after midnight– and apparently think they can get away with voting when they are out of session.

Wendy Davis’s filibuster was voted down by the GOP because apparently sonograms and Planned Parenthood budgets are “not germane” to the discussion and because she had help while putting on a back brace.

Let’s see…

Privileged men becoming very angry when it looks like they might not get their way: check.

Privileged men trying to shut up the woman challenging them: check.

Privileged men breaking laws in order to get their way: check.

Victim blaming (In the form of police force used against at least one protesting woman): check.

And the free middle square of this Patriarchal Bingo?

Bunch of privileged men deciding rules that apply only to women: check.

Republican House- Abort! Abort!

June 19, 2013

Republicans in the House of Representatives are once again voting to give the government – which Republicans often argue can’t do anything as well as private parties – more control over women’s bodies.

Republicans often display contempt of the government and push for privatization in such matters as social security, schools, Food and Drug oversight, mass public transportation

Considering this, the contempt Republicans must have for women while turning over their private decisions to the government is staggering to contemplate.

Okay, obviously that was disingenuous: it isn’t just contempt. It is a religiously motivated attempt to punish women for sex, to “hold them accountable for their actions.” To slut shame not just for now, but for a lifetime.

Here’s the thing: sex is not wrong. Non-consensual sex is wrong. Pregnancies are sometimes wrong. Whether because carrying your rapist’s baby is an emotional trauma, or because pregnancy is dangerous, or because you simply aren’t ready financially or emotionally to support and nurture a child or… for whatever other reason is personally the most important to you.

If you aren’t ready to be a parent, you are a better judge of that than anybody else. If you think you are ready to be a parent, that is where Dunning–Kruger effect might be coming into play.

I suggest adding an amendment that requires the Republican Party to pay 100% of the costs that would result (if this measure actually had a chance of going into effect) which are associated with prenatal care, medical appointments, medication (including pain killers) labor, and then child rearing (including finding approx. 15,000 good homes per year) and treating women for postpartum depression and health complications.

Somehow I think Republicans’ enthusiasm for sexual control over others would dry up if we held Republicans accountable for their actions.

On the side of Angels?

November 26, 2012

It is the boast of Republicans that theirs is the just party, that they are champions of morality and goodness, that they alone can lead our country righteously.

And then there are the things Republican politicians actually do:

Such as Romney stranding his workers by canceling their campaign credit cards. These workers had been sent by the campaign to where they should be most effective: which means many red staters were left in swing states to figure out their own way home.

And Linda McMahon’s (R) failed campaign giving bad checks to staffers– enclosed with a condom to indicate they were screwed.

But the petty cruelty on display after the election pales compared to the betrayals of democracy that happened during the election:

Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist and a former GOP chairman both admit that laws in Florida limiting voting hours were “intentionally designed by Florida GOP staff and consultants to inhibit Democratic voters.”

I’ll be waiting for similar admissions regarding every state which had Voter ID laws or voting hours changed just before the election, but in the meantime, here is Pennsylvania State Representative Mike Turzai regarding his state’s voter ID law:

American Elections: Needs Improvement

November 11, 2012

It’s been 5 days since the American people reelected President Barack Obama, but I’ve been thinking about how we could get more people voting since I read that somewhere on the order of 90 million eligible voters would not be voting this year.

Now, most of these are merely logistical tweaks to make it easier to vote rather than methods of encouraging people to do so, but here’s what I’ve come up with:

  • Election day should be a federal holiday- this should be obvious. In this country we extol voting as the duty of every American, and we have a day off for Columbus (!) but not for voting? This must be rectified.
  • Mail-in-ballots should not require postage. This should be built into the system. If you are sending your ballot through the United States Postal Service to do your civic duty as an American, you should not need to first go out and buy stamps.
  • Public transit should be free on election day. We should be able to vote, even if we don’t have cars.
  • The Electoral College should be replaced with direct popular vote. Currently, if you are in a strongly partisan state, your vote for President has much less value than if you live in a swing state- the awareness of this fact serves to depress voter turnout and reduce engagement even for state and local matters where the Electoral College has no direct effect.
  • Voting machines without paper trails should be eliminated with extreme prejudice. We cannot afford to have either the reality or the appearance of crooked elections.
  • We need to have Citizens United (Orwellian naming schemes, how reassuring) undone. People should not have to compete with multinational organizations for control of the country. I’m not picky about how to undo that ruling: Constitutional amendment could work if the justice system doesn’t clean its own house. (This country was formed after the British Crown taxed the colonialists to make up for a tax break to a too-big-to-fail East India Company, one of the first multinational corporations. Don’t try to tell me that an impartial ruling based on the constitution indicates that the founders wanted companies to be treated like people.)

 

Please share more ideas in the comments.

Empathy, thy name is Mitt.

September 1, 2012

Mitt Romney, to a homeless hurricane victim:

“Go home and call 211.” (The information line for health and human services)

Maybe Mitt thinks everybody has multiple homes?

Who built that?

August 31, 2012

Mitt Romney doesn’t even acknowledge the $30 million Federal bailout that keep Bain Equity from going bankrupt, or the $10 million that taxpayers had to make up for when Bain Equity wriggled out of paying it back.

John Green gracefully acknowledges that without government roads his books would have a harder time getting to the much smaller market of literate people that would exist without public education.

I would say the main differences here are that the types of work John Green does has proven benefits, unlike that of Bain Capital, and that John Green has an awareness of the world that goes beyond base self interest. Oh, and that John Green has an admirable quality that Mitt Romney lacks: human decency.

John Green says it best in the last paragraph of his post:

Over the years, I’ve encountered a few successful people who believe they did it all themselves and achieved success because they are just better than their fellow human beings. Some were bankers; some were writers; some were lawyers. Some male, some female. Some rich, some not. Some were born into privilege, some weren’t. I guess they’re a pretty diverse crowd. They only have one thing in common, really: They’re all assholes.

Mitt Romney’s Financial Exploits

August 31, 2012

And never was there a more fitting use of the word exploit.

Mitt Romney doesn’t acknowledge the $30 million Federal bailout that kept Bain Capital from going bankrupt. Or the $10 million which never got paid back for which taxpayers had to foot the bill.

And that is only one example of Mitt Romney profiting, as Matt Taibbi puts it, “by borrowing vast sums of money that other people were forced to pay back.”

Or to put it another way:

Gawker has more information on Romney’s financial exploits.