From Bloomberg News:
Chris Christie may have met his match. The New Jersey governor went off on a persistent heckler Wednesday at an event commemorating the second anniversary of Hurricane Sandy in Belmar, New Jersey. His frustration mounting, Christie yelled at the man to “sit down and shut up,” a line that received applause from many in the crowd. Moments later, Christie's security detail succeeded in confiscating the man’s television-camera-obscuring protest sign that read “Get Sandy Families Back in Their Home / Finish the Job."
Sparring with vocal critics has become a regular part of Christie's job, but this time, the heckler, Jim Keady, isn't going away quietly.
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From St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Gov. Jay Nixon today pointedly passed on a chance to defend attorney general fellow Democrat Chris Koster.
At an event in Wellston, reporters asked the governor about a report in the New York Times suggesting that Koster may have let corporations off the hook in investigations because they or their law firms contributed to his campaign.
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Increasing confidence that a piece of aluminum aircraft debris found on a remote, uninhabited South Pacific atoll came from Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra has bolstered speculation that a sonar anomaly detected at a depth of 600 feet off the west end of the island is the lost aircraft.
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Real gross domestic product -- the value of the production of goods and services in the United States, adjusted for price changes -- increased at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the third quarter of 2014, according to the "advance" estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the second quarter, real GDP increased 4.6 percent.
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Washington (CNN) -- South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is toying with the idea of a presidential bid, joked in a private gathering this month that "white men who are in male-only clubs are going to do great in my presidency," according to an audio recording of his comments provided to CNN.
In the meeting, the Republican also cracked wise about Baptists, saying "they're the ones who drink and don't admit it," a variation of a joke he sometimes tells in public.
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In 1965, when the Voting Rights Act was first passed, the reasoning was very simple. Racial discrimination in voting should not be allowed. The Act was short term. It was set to expire in 1970. The theory was that enough black people would have become voters and enough fair minded representatives would be elected, to ensure that rights would be protected. That was soon considered to be unrealistic.
Later sessions of Congress extended the Voting Rights Act again and again. In 2006, conservatives offered new resistance, but the act was renewed by a healthy margin for another 25 years. Racial discrimination in voting would not be allowed.
When the Supreme Court recently decided that parts of the long standing Voting Rights Act were no longer constitutional, it was because it violated a standard of equality. It wasn't that every voter should be considered equal. In fact, that original intent of the Voting Rights Act was pretty much bypassed. The standard was rather that every state should be considered equal.
That wasn't a new idea. One of the objections that conservatives angrily raised back in 1965 was that the Voting Rights Act was unfair to states. The burden of proof before 1965 was on anyone who wanted equal rights. Local politicians lost records and insisted that coincidence accounted for those disparities that remained. Local judges were often hostile to minority rights. Foot dragging meant that years could pass before burdens of proof could be met.
In 1903, in Giles v. Harris, the Supreme Court ruled that it was illegal to enforce amendments to the constitution that were supposed to prevented voting discrimination. It was a violation of states' rights to force registrars in the south to process voting registrations.
The provision of the Voting Rights Act to which conservatives objected the most named specific states, and specific parts of other states, those with the most vicious history of voting suppression, for special supervision. Conservatives thought that was unfair. Discrimination should be proven at every election cycle, not presumed because of past history.
In 2013, the Supreme Court agreed that the provision was unconstitutional. The reasoning was split, but two lines of logic seemed to prevail.
One was a new principle of "sovereign equality" which held that no state should be held to special scrutiny without meeting a standard of proof. The standard was that specific intent of racial discrimination had to be proven. So we were back at the beginning.
The other line of reasoning was a sort of Catch-22. Justice Antonin Scalia suggested that the fact that the Voting Rights Act was passed, passed so many times, passed by increasing margins, was proof that the Voting Rights Act was no longer needed. That made it unconstitutional. A law popular enough to be passed repeatedly was too popular to be legal.
Racial discrimination in voting was now legal as long as racist intent was not proven. Oops became a viable defense. But, in Texas, something interesting happened. Emails surfaced showing that, sure enough, legislators had deliberately made voting really hard for Hispanic voters. And they had made it hard simply because those voters were Hispanic. Oops was not oops after all.
Federal officials pushed for more evidence. Texas legislators adopted a none-of-your-business principle. They wanted official emails, official notes, and other official correspondence to be off limits. Courts looked at the evidence, saw clear racial intent, and ruled that Texas had to stop discriminating against Hispanic voters. The oops defense had failed.
In Georgia, a citizens group had gathered thousands of new voter registrations and turned them in. That's harder than you might think. There are a ton of restrictions.
In some past cases, conservatives had gotten minority voter registrations. New voters got to the polls and discovered they were not registered after all. The conservatives had thrown away the registrations rather than turn them in.
So registrations are now tracked. The law pretty much everywhere says you have to turn in every voter registration you take out. If someone signs a phony name or a joke name you have to turn it in.
The group in Georgia policed the registrations and were careful not to allow jokesters to mess around with the process. They turned in tens of thousands of new registrations on time and in due order. When a Republican official in Georgia didn't process the new registrations, the group sued.
Conservatives have been justifying their harsh new voter restrictions as preventing voter fraud. The problem with that argument is that intense efforts to track down examples of voter fraud have produced so few cases in lots of years, it has become kind of a silly excuse. So the conservative definition of voter fraud is expanding.
In Arizona, a young Hispanic man delivered a whole lot of absentee ballots. It is a practice exercised legally by conservative groups around the country all the time. But his group has been accused in conservative circles of ballot stuffing.
A get-out-the-vote party in Wisconsin is the target of angry conservatives who are calling fraud. "They're dragging people to the polls offering them BBQ and smokes."
The right to vote is increasingly referred to as a privilege. That hostile reasoning is permeating through legislatures. It seems to be settling on the courts as well.
The Supreme Court has overturned district jurists in Texas. The state can discriminate against Hispanic voters after all. In Georgia, a district judge has ruled that the court can't force the state to process those thousands of legitimate voter registrations.
So . . . we are now back to 1903 and Giles v. Harris.
After all, states do have rights.
From the Washington Post:
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Monday expanded his push for increased manufacturing in the United States by directing federal money toward new technologies, apprenticeship programs and competitions designed to assist small manufacturers.
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From Chicago Sun-Times:
While on the campaign trail Monday in Davenport, Iowa, House Speaker John Boehner took some time to once again blast President Barack Obama's foreign policy and bring up George W. Bush's name — and talk about how Bush would have popped Russian President Vladimir Putin in the nose.
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From Tulsa World:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Medicaid chiefs from red and blue states are urging Congress to stem the cost of revolutionary new drugs for hepatitis C, cancer, and other diseases.
In a letter Tuesday to key congressional committees, the National Association of Medicaid Directors said lawmakers should consider everything from outright price controls on manufacturers to federal help for states trying to pay for the new medications.
The bipartisan group did not endorse any particular course of action.
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From the New England Journal of Medicine:
The governors of a number of states, including New York and New Jersey, recently imposed 21-day quarantines on health care workers returning to the United States from regions of the world where they may have cared for patients with Ebola virus disease. We understand their motivation for this policy — to protect the citizens of their states from contracting this often-fatal illness. This approach, however, is not scientifically based, is unfair and unwise, and will impede essential efforts to stop these awful outbreaks of Ebola disease at their source, which is the only satisfactory goal. The governors' action is like driving a carpet tack with a sledgehammer: it gets the job done but overall is more destructive than beneficial.
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A 48-year-old homeowner who interrupted a man rummaging through his bedroom asked him who he was and what he was doing in his home.
"I'm a robber," the man replied, according to police.
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It was a big event for Log Cabin Republicans in California yesterday. Some conservatives pretty much boycott the group of gay Republicans. It was significant that the group had gotten State Senator Bob Huff as a speaker. Bob Huff was elected six years ago, and quickly made a name for himself. He has worked on a Republican approach to jobs: local redevelopment agencies in urban areas. Insurance and real estate interests like him a lot.
A year and a half ago, he was chosen by fellow Republicans as leader of the state Senate Republican Caucus. That was just a little over two years after he first became a Senator. Not bad for someone known as a moderate Republican.
The head of the Orange County Taxpayers Association also spoke, along with Senator Huff. That organization is a little controversial for a different reason. Republican officials sometimes attend Association conferences. They pay hefty fees to attend, and then bill those fees to taxpayers.
What the Log Cabin Republicans did not realize, and the Orange County Taxpayers Association did not realize, and Senator Bob Huff did not realize, was that they were all committing voting fraud. At least according to any fair application of the definition carried by the newest conservative outrage.
At the top of the public announcement the California conservatives had issued an invitation:
NOTE: BRING YOUR ABSENTEE BALLOT TO THIS MEETING!
It is similar to many events.
Gathering absentee ballots from many, many voters and turning them all in at once is completely legal in California. It is legal in a lot of states.
It is legal in Arizona. But, in Arizona, a fellow wearing a tee-shirt with the name of a local advocacy group, Citizens for a Better Arizona, showed up at election offices with a box full of ballots. There is a video that documents the event. It has gone viral in conservative circles. Conservatives are beyond angry. They are freaked.
It may sound a lot like the "BRING YOUR ABSENTEE BALLOT" to the Republican event in California, after which someone will be delivering them to California election offices. But conservatives around the country have noted two aspects in Arizona that I do not see in California.
One is that the fellow in Arizona was challenged by a stranger demanding to know who he was and what he was doing. The fellow with the ballots suggested the stranger perform an anatomical improbability. The stranger turned out to someone holding a position in the Republican party.
The Republican summarized the confrontation for a local publication. The fellow "was a vulgar, disrespectful, violent thug that has no respect for our laws." Well, "vulgar" and "disrespectful" seem to fit, don't they? But violent? Thug? No respect for our laws? That might seem like a strange set of observations. How did the Republican arrive at that?
Well, there is one possibility. Conservatives around the country have noted that the fellow transporting the ballots appeared to be Hispanic. It seems to be an important factor to many.
The headline at World Net Daily reads: 'Violent thug' caught stuffing ballot box
Conservatives are experiencing a bit of a transition in narrative. Voting restrictions are designed to make it harder to vote for Hispanics in Texas, Native Americans in South Dakota, and African Americans in any GOP stronghold. Republicans justify those moves as preventing voter fraud. They point to restrictive ID requirements as keeping illegitimate voters from casting ballots and keeping legitimate voters from voting more than once.
It is a little difficult to use that reasoning for some moves: moving voting locations to inconvenient places, limiting times of voting in ways that promote unreasonably long waits at the polls, eliminating early voting days, cutting voting staff, holding up legitimate voting applications. And the logic behind ID laws that hold up large numbers of legitimate voters does begin to fall apart with a lack of actual fraud by voters.
The transition is one of definition. A new narrative is developing in conservative circles. Prevention of fraud as it has been traditionally known is fading as an issue. Prevention concerns a new definition of voter fraud. It is becoming the participation of those who vote for the wrong reasons or who do not have sufficient financial assets. Mitt Romney's 47% are, for some, part of the voter fraud issue.
The definition of wrongful voting is transmuting to include those who vote wrong.
And of course, we shouldn't forget the occasional Hispanic voter who follows the law, delivering legitimate ballots, from legitimate voters, to a legitimate election place. Especially an Hispanic voter who is rude to a Republican who wants to interfere.
Now defined as a violent thug caught stuffing a ballot box.