Our Future President?

Check this 12 year old out! She has formed a coalition to repeal the onerous voting restrictions implemented by Tea Bagged Republicans in North Carolina, and to get young folks to vote. Her name is Madison Kimrey, an she does one heck of a speech.

The Rethugs in North Carolina have voted to eliminate the ability of teens to pre-register to vote, while getting a Driver’s License at 16, so they can vote when they turn 18. By doing this and raising the bar to College Students voting, they eliminate one of the groups which tends to vote Democrat, or at least anti-Tea Party. This is part of the Rethugly Voter Suppression effort, which includes Voter ID Laws.

Go Madison!

Republican District Hurt By Budget Cuts

Last night’s Gubernatorial election in Virginia went about as expected, although the Republican challenger was a bit closer than projected. Looking at the voting acrss the State, the more populaous and prosperous areas voted overwhelmingly Democrat, while rural counties and the southwestern mountain are voted heavily Republican.

There are a lot of similarities between those areas and the area in this article in Kentucky. Poor white folks voting for their own misery… wonder when these folks are going to finally wake up and realize their Tea Party representatives don’t give a damn about their welfare.

Austerity deals harsh blow to already stricken land

Republican Congressman Hal Rogers brought so many federal dollars home to eastern Kentucky’s coal country, he was crowned “Prince of Pork.”

Now that spigot has been turned off, just when his district might actually need it the most.

Competition from natural gas, cheaper coal, and environmental regulations have hastened the demise of the mining industry here, already in decline. More than 6,200 eastern Kentucky miners have been laid off since July 2011. There are now fewer coal jobs here than in 1920, when the great-grandfathers of today’s miners wielded shovels and pick-axes.

But sequestration—a series of across-the-board spending cuts that many Tea Party Republicans have come to embrace—and other austerity measures have accelerated the economic free fall. Unemployment benefits to laid-off miners are shrinking; fewer meals are getting delivered to homebound seniors; and there’s less money to help workers retool for new jobs. Beginning Friday, food stamps will be cut by an average of $36 per month for a family of four.

It’s yet another blow to struggling Appalachian mining towns like Harlan, where the mayor estimates that 15% of the town’s residents have moved out in the past year, searching for work elsewhere.

Unsold guns are piling up in pawnshops. Even the local mortician is feeling the pinch: grieving relatives are downgrading from hardwood coffins to two-gauge steel, and ordering five baskets of flowers instead of twenty or thirty. “If I don’t sell to the coal people, I don’t sell,” one Harlan businessman explained.

Rogers has been one of the few Republicans to slam sequestration as devastating, unworkable, and unrealistic. Unless Congress decides otherwise, $109 billion in cuts will continue every year until 2021—a budget that Rogers must implement as chair of the House Appropriations Committee. But many of his Republicans colleagues have embraced the $85 billion in cuts this year as guaranteed spending cuts. It’s unlikely that budget negotiations that started this week in Congress will reverse all of them.

The incremental nature of sequestration —slow rolling, local, and scattered unevenly nationwide—has made the belt-tightening hard to measure and easy to dismiss since the cuts took effect in March. “The people that I’ve talked to seem to be doing well,” Missouri Rep. Billy Long said in April. “In fact, when I got out in restaurants here in town, people come up to me. They want to see more sequestration, not less.”

Even some Democrats believe the White House overhyped the cuts when it made dire predictions about their impact, some of which didn’t pan out. “I think they probably went over the top in terms of saying that the consequences were going to be horrible. The lines in the airports aren’t long, the world hasn’t changed overnight,” said former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell.

But Harlan sees long lines. They are in the unemployment office, filled with out-of-work miners chasing any rumor of jobs left to be had. A TV in the waiting area explains how federal cuts have chipped away at the safety net most had hoped they would never need.

“Sequestration…What does that mean for you? Your Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits that begin on or after March 31, 2013 must be reduced 10.7% for each week of unemployment through September 2013.”

“Sequestration is a terrible way to do business. I’ve said it since day one. It slices the good with the bad, and removes the duty of Congress to ensure vital programs, like Head Start and various grant programs receive adequate support,” Rogers told MSNBC. “Couple those deep cuts with the rapid loss of coal mining jobs in eastern Kentucky and we’re now facing an economic superstorm.”

For Donnie Reeves, 40, each passing week of unemployment means less security. He lost his mining job in March, just weeks before his wife Tiffanie lost her job as a teaching assistant. “After December, it’s no more unemployment, no more nothing,” he said in August.

“I would have to work a minimum of three jobs, each 40 hours a week at minimum wage. That’s to keep the lights on. No groceries, no gas,” said Donnie, who made $70,000 in his best year.

Donnie spent the summer retraining for a factory job through an emergency federal program spared—this time—from sequestration’s axe. Tiffanie found a job helping unemployed Kentuckians like her husband find work.

But with two teenage kids and their hometown’s economy in tatters, the Reeves know that their future may lie outside Harlan, leaving behind a family rooted here for more than 120 years.

“Tiff,” he told her last spring, when they were first considering the idea, “we’re giving up.”…

The Second Civil War – Voting Rights

The US civil war is playing out again – this time over voter rights

White southern Republicans enact voter ID laws because they don’t want Democrats to vote, particularly people of color. Republicans have gerrymandered districts to dissolve the Minority vote, as well as set as many impediments as possible in the way of voters.

Nearly 150 years after the end of the US civil war, the South and the federal government are poised for a rematch over the voting rights of black Americans, and ultimately over the fundamental rights of all Americans. Once again, the former Confederate states are determined to defend their traditions and way of life, while the Union forces in the North – the federal government – are positioning themselves to defend justice and equality.

But this time, in an ironic twist, two black men – President Barack Obamaand Attorney General Eric Holder – are leading the charge.

In the 1860s, the fight between the North and the South was about slavery and the right of the Confederate states to maintain a dreaded institution that kept people of African descent in bondage. Unprecedented carnage resulted.

A century later – in light of the 1954 US supreme court decision in Brown v Board of Education of Topeka, which ended racial segregation in public schools – the South struggled to maintain a Jim Crow system that kept black people legally and politically impotent, all in the name of states’ rights.

Two hallmarks of the civil rights movement are the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965. Passed by Congress and signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson, the legislative victories were achieved only through the blood of civil rights workers, both black and white, who were beaten, sprayed with fire hoses, shot, firebombed, bitten by police dogs and lynched.

The purpose of the Voting Rights Act was to apply a nationwide ban against discriminatory election practices such as literacy tests. The existing anti-discrimination laws, Congress concluded, were insufficient to overcome the Southern states’ resistance to the Fifteenth Amendment.

In June 2013, the nation’s high court cut the voting law at its knees inShelby County v Holder when it eviscerated the key component of the act – the section 4 preclearance requirement – which determined which states must receive approval from a federal court or the Justice Department before making changes to their voting procedures. The act applied to nine states – Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia – and various other localities and counties across the country.

In the second decade of the 21st century, the latest battle centers around southern states with a history of voting rights violations, and currently exhibit the most anti-blackracist sentiment. These states want to employ restrictive and racially discriminatory voter suppression methods such as voter ID. This time, the Republican party has replaced the Dixiecrats as the party of white supremacy and the old Confederacy, of racial discrimination and voter suppression. And Holder has decided to make an example of Texas, firing the first shot at the Lone Star state.

Within 24 hours of the high court decision, five states – Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia – decided to move forward with their voter ID laws. They required preclearance under section 4, which no longer exists. Moreover, Holder and a federal court had already blocked the South Carolina and Texas voter ID laws because they violated the Voting Rights Act.

Florida has resumed its purge of Hispanic voters following the supreme court decision, and after a federal court lifted a ban on removing potential non-US citizens from the rolls. North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory is about to sign into law the nation’s most restrictive voter suppression measure, though, he admits he has not read the provisionprohibiting 16- and 17-year-olds from pre-registering to vote. The law also eliminates same-day registration, cuts early voting by a week and requires government-issued ID to vote. According to the North Carolina secretary of state, voter ID laws are having a disproportionate impact onDemocratic voters and voters of color.

SB 14, the Texas voter ID law considered the most severe in the US at present, requires Texans to prove their citizenship and state residency in order to vote, using a passport, military ID or birth certificate if they lack a driver’s license, concealed handgun license or photo ID. In 2012, a federal court struck down the Texas law on the grounds that:

The implicit costs of obtaining SB 14-qualifying ID will fall most heavily on the poor and that a disproportionately high percentage of African Americans and Hispanics in Texas live in poverty. … We therefore conclude that SB 14 is likely to lead to ‘retrogression in the position of racial minorities with respect to their effective exercise of the electoral franchise.’

Yet, in light of the Shelby County decision, the Supreme Court discarded the lower court’s Texas voter ID ruling, and threw out a ruling that found Texas’ state redistricting maps were “enacted with discriminatory purpose” and diluted the Latino vote. Although Latinos made up nearly 40% of the Texas population in the 2010 census and accounted for 65% of the growth in the state population, Texas Republicans essentially pretended Texas is a white state. The GOP kept Latinos and black voters out of the redistricting process, added only one minority district, and manipulated an electoral map “that would look Hispanic, but perform for Anglos”.

In addition, the court found that 603,892 to 795,955 Latino voters in Texas lacked voter identification – as Texas Republicans had intended. Student IDs are not adequate identification at the polls, but gun permits are acceptable, reflected a preference for Republican constituents.

Holder announced he would ask a federal court to force the state to continue to receive permission to make changes to its voting laws. The Justice Department has requested that a federal court impose an additional 10 years of preclearance.

Governor Rick Perry said in a statement:

This end run around the supreme court undermines the will of the people of Texas, and casts unfair aspersions on our state’s common-sense efforts to preserve the integrity of our elections process.

Greg Abbott, the Texas state attorney general, accused Holder of “sowing racial divide” and tweeted “I’ll fight #Obama’s effort to control our elections & I’ll fight against cheating at ballot box.” Conservative proponents of voter ID measures invoke the specter of voter fraud and the need to protect the integrity of elections as justifications for the legislation. However, voter fraud is exceedingly rare, and about as infrequent as death by lightning strikes, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.

Rather, white southern Republicans enact voter ID laws because they do not want Democratic constituencies to vote, particularly people of color. Rather than embrace the changing demographics in the US and adopt platforms to address the needs and concerns of voters of color, Republicans have chosen to eschew these voters and wage an assault on civil rights, immigration and policies of diversity and inclusion. This is the endgame for the Republican Southern Strategy of race card politics. The GOP was able to win elections on the margins by appealing to the racial insecurities of disaffected working class whites. In the process, southern whites fled the Democratic party, and the GOP became the party of the white South. Now, this marginalized base of angry white voters is all that is left of the Republican strategy and of the GOP as well, so Republicans must remove the segments of the electorate that will not vote for them.

Obama’s Secret Weapon – The Latino Vote

The one demographic which hasn’t traditionally turned out in large numbers is Hispanic voters. 2008 was an exception with Hispanic voters helping power Obama’s win. As such, looking at hstorical data – most of the national polls like Gallup undercount the number of Hispanic voters utilizing the “likely voter” model. Creating the situation – should there be a major turnout of Hispanic voters – most of the national polls will be wrong by 4 to possibly 12% if Pollster Nate Silver  of Five-Thirty-Eight is right.

Recent polling of Hispanic voters indicates that this may just be the case…

Even more interesting may be what this means in the down-ticket races. There is a possibility of some unexpected upsets of Republicans.

If you are Hispanic, and thinking about voting Republican…I have one word for you – Arizona. A vote for Romney empowers the Republicans in places like Arizona to take their campaign of ethnic hatred and domestic terrorism nationwide.  It is your children who are the losers in that.

Linda Vargas, a volunteer with Mi Familia Vota, a national group that helps Latinos become citizens and register to vote, assists Harvey Stroh with voter registration papers at the Hadley Branch Library in Denver, May 31, 2012. (Photo: Matthew Staver / The New York Times)

Latino Excitement at Record Levels in US Election

Just over a week before the United States votes in a highly anticipated and historically tight presidential election, a new poll released Monday finds that interest by Latino voters has strengthened significantly over the past two months, and that turnout among Hispanics could be higher than the records set in 2008.

According to the latest impreMedia-Latino Decisions poll of registered Hispanic voters, 45 percent say they are more excited about the current election than they were for the 2008 election, when Barack Obama was elected. That number has gone up by eight percent over the past 10 weeks, when the poll was first taken.

Further, a full 87 percent of respondents say they would most likely be voting when national polling sites open on Nov. 6, with eight percent having already taken advantage of the early voting options made available in certain states. During the last presidential election, 84 percent of registered Latino voters cast ballots – far higher than the U.S. national turnout, of 57 percent, that same year.

The high levels of interest mean that Latinos will further cement the community’s importance in the current and, particularly, future election. Hispanics make up one of the single fastest-growing sectors of the U.S. population, with around 50,000 Latino youths currently becoming eligible to vote every month.

To date, they have tended to vote overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party. The prospect has reportedly led to existential debates within the Republican Party, which has seen its voter base – which skews older and whiter than the Democratic base – continue to shrink as a percentage of the overall voting public.

“The polls show that this year we can anticipate record participation among Latino voters,” Monica Lozano, the head of impreMedia, said Monday in a statement. “It looks like the ‘sleeping giant’ has woken up.”

The new numbers will receive particular scrutiny given the general lack of Spanish-language polling that has taken place during the campaign season, despite a massive amount of polling figures coming out on a daily basis.

In mid-October, the widely watched pollster Nate Silver suggested that the relative lack of Spanish-language respondents could increase Barack Obama’s figures by around a dozen percentage points, including in some of the most strongly contested “swing” states, such as Florida and Colorado, that will eventually decide the election.

Indeed, the strong new numbers will be particularly welcomed by Obama’s campaign, which has made the Latino vote a central pillar of its strategy. In an initially off-the-record interview released last week, Obama stated, “Since this is off the record, I will just be very blunt. Should I win a second term, a big reason … is because the Republican nominee and the Republican Party have so alienated the fastest-growing demographic group in the country, the Latino community.”

The president also noted that this “alienation” of Latinos by Republicans is a “relatively new phenomenon”. This is seen as referring to a host of new and pending laws enforcing voter identification requirements that many have suggested would impact particularly on Latino and other minority voters – typically strongholds for the Democratic Party.

According to a new report released last week by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), “More than 100 years of virtually unchecked discrimination at the polls against Latino U.S. citizens” is now being compounded by a “significant added obstruction in the form of restrictive state voting laws … (that) will have a worse effect on the Latino electorate than on all voters.”

NALEO suggests that these new policies could negatively impact on around 219,000 Latino voters across the country this election, a number it calls a “conservative estimate”. Indeed, after the U.S. courts recently halted proceedings in several states planning to institute new voter ID laws, the report suggests that number would have been closer to 835,000.

Notably, a Republican state official has been caught on tape stating that such legislation was being enacted specifically in order to help the Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s chances of election.

Juan Williams on Race and This Election Cycle

Juan Williams put together a good article over on “The Hill” – the only problem is it misses the key driver in this election cycle – Women. It isn’t race that is going to drive this election. The white male dominated GOP has done an incredible job of alienating white women, which will undoubtedly pay dividends in terms of local election, House of Representative and even Senate losses.

The Republican party is increasingly looking more like “Custer’s Last Stand” instead of a political entity – damage which done almost exclusively by their own hands.

Yes – blacks, Hispanics, and now Asians are going to vote against them – but if women split 60-40 against Republicans…

It’s over. Perhaps that is why President Obama isn’t sweating the election.

Anyway – Juan makes some good points…

How race may affect this year’s election

Last week several political strategists predicted to me that every racial button is going to get pushed hard in this fall’s presidential campaign. Their forecast is based on racial fears that are already being exposed. White Republican men form the strongest block of opposition to reelection of a black president — who, in turn, has near-unanimous support from blacks, and overwhelming backing from Hispanics and Asians.

Their predictions come against the backdrop of two white male political writers, Pat Buchanan and John Derbyshire, losing their jobs at MSNBC and National Review, respectively, after writing racially charged pieces. Buchanan lamented in a book that immigration and high Hispanic birthrates were leading to the “end of white America.” Derbyshire, writing in a small magazine, advised his children to avoid “concentrations of blacks,” and to not settle in any place run by black politicians.

The 2012 election comes at a time when the country is in the middle of a seismic shift in its demographics. Racial attitudes are also changing, for better or worse, with rising numbers of minorities and immigrants now more than 30 percent of the population. But in political terms, the GOP has failed to bring any substantial part of that growing population into its ranks. The heart of the party remains senior white voters who are resisting the loss of the America they grew up in 50 years ago.

A whole catalogue of racial fears was revealed during the Aspen Institute Symposium on Race in America, attended last week by a number of prominent experts and televised on C-SPAN:

— White fear of the increasing voting power of Hispanics, Asians and blacks. In the GOP primaries, the nation’s first black president was labeled as the “food stamp president.” He was charged with being a “socialist” and wanting to lead the country to become an “entitlement society.” This racially provocative language suggested hard-working white people being ripped off by lazy minorities. The experts see it a warning sign of the approaching racial storm.  Continue reading

The New Jim Crow – Voter ID Vote Suppression

I cannot remember — even sitting in an Orangeburg County jail — when I had as much anxiety as I’m experiencing today. Back then, even when we were at the back of the bus and we were not able to sit down at lunch counters, we really felt strong that what’s happening to me here in Orangeburg, SC or Columbia, SC, ah, if I can get my plight before the United States Supreme Court, the promise of this country will be delivered for me. That’s what we felt, and I can remember our discussions in meetings — yeah, we’re going to jail now. We are going to be convicted. But we know that that conviction is going to be overturned by the United States Supreme Court.

I don’t feel that today.

Congressman Jim Clyburn (South Carolina)

The ‘Voter Fraud’ Fraud

As President Obama spoke about Representative Paul Ryan’s budget yesterday, Fox News broke away from the president’s remarks to cover “a stunning case in South Bend, Indiana.” The story covered an indictment by the St. Joseph County prosecutor’s office alleging that local Democratic officials forged signatures to get Obama, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards on the Indiana Democratic Primary ballot in 2008. “Indiana State Police investigators identified a total of 22 petitions that appeared to be faked, yet sailed through the Voter Registration Board as legitimate documents,” Fox reported. Eric Shawn, of the Fox News Voter Fraud Unit, said that a local election worker was “ordered to forge presidential petitions for Barack Obama, illegally faking the names and signatures of unsuspecting voters to put the then-Illinois senator on the presidential primary ballot.”

The new report will no doubt underscore the belief among Fox News viewers that Obama was illegitimately elected in 2008. According to a 2009 poll by Public Policy Polling, “52% majority of GOP voters nationally think that ACORN stole the Presidential election for Barack Obama last year, with only 27% granting that he won it legitimately.” Conservative commenters are pointing to the indictment as further proof of rampant voter fraud and more evidence of the need for voter ID laws nationwide.

There are at least two major problems with this argument. Continue reading

Mormons and Black Folk

Went to college in the West. One of the schools we played sports against every so often was Brigham Young. Starting in the mid-late 60’s, as a result of the Civil Rights movement, the pushback against the racist teachings of the Mormon Church historically and at that time became much more intense. While there certainly are Mormons who are racist, as there are in just about any other religion – Mormons weren’t really a part of the Southern racism which drove segregation and Jim Crow. It fell into the category of “other”…

Historically, the issue surrounded Church Founders views and “revelations”. Revelations which were not inconsistent with anti-abolition racial attitudes at the time of the founding of the Church.

BYU Choir - These Folks Can Sing!

Mormons were a bit thin on the ground here in Northern Virginia until the mid 60’s. I remember my parents always attending various social events for the Links, my Mother’s Sorority, and the black fraternities at the Marriott Key Bridges.  Bill Marriott, the founder of the Hotel Chain was probably the local area’s best know Mormon. I asked my Dad, why the various events were always at the Marriott – and he said “It’s because it’s the only major hotel in the area which will rent ballroom facilities to black folks.” Turns out, Marriott Hotels didn’t segregate, whereas every other hotel from the HoJos to the Hilton did in the South. Many black organizations were loyal to Marriott for a generation because of that.

You can’t regulate what someone thinks of you, but it is ultimately their actions towards you which really count.

Mormons, particularly those from the Wast – are about the “whitest” folks in America. I’m a big fan of the NBC show, “The Sing Off”, and have to confess that I love the sound of a Choir, whether Gospel or “traditional” (maybe because I can’t sing a lick). The Brigham Young University Choir is one of the best of the best from year to year, and this year the guys doing A Capella on the Sing Off were very good. BYU Choirs also compete against HBCUs in Gospel. One of the Sing Off segments involved singing traditional R&B this year, to which several of the singers had a laugh about some white boys from BYU trying to sing Soul Music coming from a background where not much beyond pops and country is played on the radio. Good sense of humor.

So, if Mitt Romney is the Republican Presidential candidate – will most black folks not be voting for him because he is a Mormon… Or because he is a Republican. I honestly think that Republican thing, and the bad racial freight attached to that is what counts, anymore.

Has the Mormon Church Truly Left Its Race Problems Behind?

The Mormon Cathedral in DC, euphemistically called "The Wizard of Oz Cathedral" by locals as it rises majestically above the Beltway

It’s looking more and more likely that Barack Obama will be facing Mitt Romney next November. According to recent polls, Romney’s much-debated “Mormon Problem”—considered by some to be a main roadblock to the Republican nomination in 2008—has decreased in salience among the white evangelicals on whom he’ll probably depend in both the primary and general elections. But one element of the Mormon problem that’s yet to be vetted will come into stark relief should this match-up take place: the Mormon Church’s troubling history of racial exclusion.

This history is a long one, stretching back to the inception of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) in the 1830s. Joseph Smith Jr., the founder of Mormonism, ran for president in 1844 as a moderate abolitionist; ordained a black man, Elijah Abel; and offered to adopt one young black convert, Jane Manning James, as his spiritual daughter. Yet earlier in his life, Smith wrote anti-abolitionist screeds replete with racist sentiment typical of Christian pro-slavery apologists of antebellum America. In one 1836 letter to missionaries in the South, Smith excoriated northern abolitionists as the instigators of discord among southern slaves who, he argued, were generally happy.

Other figures early in the Church’s history illustrated such prejudices as well. The Mormon Prophet Brigham Young stated in 1852, “Any man having one drop of the seed of [Cain] … in him cannot hold the priesthood.” Up until the mid-twentieth-century, some prophets perpetuated the idea that blacks were spiritually inferior, the permanently cursed descendants of Ham and Cain (a myth once popular in many American churches). In 1931, Church President Joseph Fielding Smith, the great-nephew of Joseph Smith Jr., wrote a widely distributed treatise—still available on Kindle—asserting that blacks were “fence-sitters” during a pre-mortal battle between God and Lucifer. When they were sent to Earth, according to Fielding Smith, blacks were marked with darkened skin as a permanent reminder of their perfidy. Until 1978, black men were forbidden from holding the Mormon priesthood, a sacred status that almost every Mormon male attains, and black couples could not marry in Mormon temples, a revered ceremony that Mormons believe unites the family for eternity.

This aspect of LDS history will probably prove less of a problem for Romney than for his Church, which is actively trying to change the dominant perception of Mormons as all but exclusively white. Romney’s presidential bid does not rely on the black vote, and he has put distance between himself and the history of racial exclusion once practiced by his church. On “Meet the Press” in 2007, Romney tearfully recalled the moment in 1978 when he heard that the Church had lifted the century-and-half-long ban on blacks holding the Mormon priesthood. “I was driving home from … law school. … I heard it on the radio and I pulled over and literally wept.” Since then, Romney has reached out to some black communities; a January 2008 Salt Lake Tribune article reported that Romney aided poor Massachusetts Haitians—using the French he acquired as a young missionary—while serving as the Church’s regional leader in Boston in the 1990s…

Read the rest here.

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