Jan 25, 2013
Update: Wisconsin's Scott Walker is not repulsed by the GOP notion -- proposed to be enshrined in law -- that a minority of voters ought to legally defeat a majority of voters for president. Walker says he’s open to considering the GOP electoral college vote rigging scheme
The voter obstruction programs of the Republican Party across the nation in the last election ought to have made clear Republican Party's hostility to the democratic foundation of the our republic.
The Republican Party has tried to prevent as many undesirable people from voting, as it could for years.
The Democratic Party has no such voter disenfranchisement program.
For the Democrats, a citizen's right to vote is sacred.
Now, Republicans in Virginia and other battleground states are pursuing an effort to rig the election for GOP presidential nominees by dismantling the majority-of-citizens'-votes-prevails practice in states' electoral college votes.
Republicans gerrymand the congressional districts and then allocate electoral votes based on gerrymandered maps. Statewide popular votes total would no longer matter.
So, Obama winning the popular vote in Republican-rigged states would nevertheless result in Obama gaining a substantially less electoral vote total, throwing the election to the Republicans.
This is unAmerican; and one hope for a backlash against this shameful and unAmerican effort.
May 10, 2011
|Freedom Riders - 1961|
Tax and ObstructBlack people voting—the horror.
The GOP is prepared to spend millions of Wisconsin tax dollars to make it more difficult to vote—targeting Democratically-voting citizens.
Among some, 2011 is occasion to celebrate the 1961 Freedom Riders who fought for justice against the white power structure that worked to preserve segregation, Voter Disenfranchisement, and generally keeping blacks in 'their place.'
Now-a-days, it's different: Much less "Nigger jokes" told out loud. No burning buses.
But blacks voting, and other non-GOP voting citizens are voting the wrong way.
In other words, many Wisconsin voters are getting right in the way of the Republican Party holding onto power. So Wisconsin voters must be obstructed to the extent possible.
That's where the GOP Voter Obstruction bill comes in.
On the bright side, the "voter ID" bill will be litigated and likely prevented from taking effect. And at least some of its noxious provisions (again likely) will be ultimately struck down as unconstitutional under the Wisconsin Constitution. See Wisconsin Voter ID Legal Challenge Likely.
Turns out the Wisconsin Constitution and subsequent statutes place a high value on Wisconsin citizens marching to the polls, vested with this franchise of deciding what to do with our state.
Democracy does tend to get in the way of today's Republican Party lording over its would-be subjects. And that's the way things ought to be.
Look up Roth v. LaFarge School District Board of Canvassers in 2004. And a hat tip to Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi for her opinion in 2008—tossing out of Court the last major GOP attempt at voter suppression—for pointing the case out.
May 12, 2009
Wood, a justice on the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Seventh District is considered a leading candidate for Justice Souter's seat.
Bigotry and discrimination are not "about hatred, it is about love. To tell something, somebody something that's wrong is right is not loving, and that's what this chapter would be doing," said the CLC attorney. The NRO's Ed Whelan writes this exchange shows Wood "displayed a hostility to orthodox Christian beliefs."
Trying to fire up the religious right just maybe.
This nomination fight is going to be more fun than I thought, and I thought it was going to be a lot fun!
The NYT has a profile on Diane P. Wood who is drawing attention as a leading candidate to fill Justice Souter's expected vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court.
Wood famously (in Wisconsin) voiced disgust towards Stephen Biskupic, former U.S. Atty for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, who launched several political prosecutions during his tenure with the Bush administration's Department of Justice, including the political prosecution of an innocent woman, Georgia Thompson, and GOP-inspired voter fraud prosecutions.
"It strikes me that your evidence is beyond thin; I’m not sure what your actual theory in this case is,” said Wood to Biskupic.
Of the GOP voter fraud obsession, the New York Times reported Wood saying of a Biskupic prosecution (many of which were overturned): "I find this whole prosecution mysterious. I don't know whether the Eastern District of Wisconsin goes after every felon who accidentally votes. It is not like she voted five times."
Reads the NYT profile
WASHINGTON — When President Bill Clinton had a rare opportunity in 1995 for a Democratic president to fill a vacancy on the federal appeals court based in Chicago, a bastion of conservative thinking, he received an unusually strong recommendation from Senator Paul Simon.
Mr. Simon, an outspoken liberal from Illinois who died in 2003, told the president the new judge should be a reliable progressive who would be cerebral enough to go up against the court’s two formidable conservatives, Judges Richard A. Posner and Frank H. Easterbrook. He said it should be Prof. Diane P. Wood of the University of Chicago law school.
Apr 29, 2009
And from SCOTUSblog:
Early on in the discussion of the 'bailout' option, Justice Kennedy commented that the Court has 'some latitude' in interpreting the law, and hinted that the Court might use that discretion to find a way to make it more practical for a government unit subject to the law to conduct its elections. He also suggested, later, that if the 'bailout' provision were found to be 'an illusion,' the Court might make 'a construction of the Act' that would make it work.
A focus on Kennedy’s reaction was evident, after other Justices clearly seemed to be lining up — perhaps in equal but opposing blocs — on Congress’ power to keep Section 5 on the books for another generation.
If, in fact, it turns out that there are four votes to strike down the extension of Section 5, the question would remain whether Justice Kennedy would be willing to put himself in the position of providing a majority to invalidate a statute that even he conceded had been 'very effective.' He provided some reasons to doubt that he would — if there were an acceptable alternative . And, in the past, he had said that racial bias is a continuing problem in American society.
Suddenly, I feel less optimistic on this case than at the beginning of the day.
---The U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in a potentially landmark case challenging Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and its 2006 congressional reauthorization.
Most Republicans hope for a Court decision that would declare certain voting districts free of the mandates of Section 5 helping to fight racial discrimination.
The plaintiffs challenge the Fannie Lou Hamer, Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King Voting Rights Act Reauthorization and Amendments Act of 2006) (reauthorizing Section 5) in Northwest Austin (Texas) Municipal Utility District Number One v. Gonzales (08-322)).
Many argue more broadly that since we just elected a black president, we don't need voting rights protection.
Those taking this position [Not Rep. James Sensenbrenner. See Voting Rights Act has passionate, strong advocate in Sensenbrenner (Marrero, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel).] take it without any sense of history, like the last presidential election.
GOP voter suppression
The GOP used every voter suppression trick in the book to obstruct voters, like blacks, who looked likely to cast their lot against the GOP.
And the GOP tried to cover the suppression program with outlandish cries of "(perpetrat(ion) of) one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy," as John McCain ludicrously asserted. See Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Greg Palast's Drinking the Kool-Aid: How Cries of Voter Fraud Cover Up GOP Election Theft.
In Wisconsin, we had Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's (John McCain 2008 co-chair) voter obstruction program.
Van Hollen's obstruction suit was tossed out of court, with the judge noting (p. 13) that federal election law still recognizes the force of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, much to the chagrin of Republicans. That judge also ruled that voting was not conditional on bureaucrats' lists matching perfectly, as the Republicans argued here.
Some 50 percent of blacks in Milwaukee County would fail that GOP-desired mandate, forcing them to cast provisional ballots.
From Andrew Hacker's piece in the New York Review of Books (September 25, 2008).
A Wisconsin survey published in 2005 was more precise (in the GOP effort to prevent Democratically-voting blacks from voting). No fewer than 53 percent of black adults in Milwaukee County were not licensed to drive, compared with 15 percent of white adults in the remainder of the state. According to its author, similar disparities will be found across the nation.  [ John Pawasarat, The Driver License Status of the Voting Age Population in Wisconsin (University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Employment and Training Institute, June2005), p. 1.]Voting Rights Act
When Congress reauthorized the Voting Rights Act in 2006, it found an array of obstacles to minority voting nationwide.
As a New York Times editorial notes today:
The election of the first African-American president last year was an undeniable sign of racial progress. But even that breakthrough cannot ensure that legislative districts will not be gerrymandered, voting rolls purged or election procedures modified at the state and local levels in ways that diminish the rights of minorities. For that, as Congress wisely recognized, we still need the Voting Rights Act.
The GOP knows it cannot win without obstructing the American people from voting. That its attempts are failing will not stop their shameful assault on Americans.
The case before the Court today may be decided on a more abstract question of congressional authority (and not on a Test of History v. Progress), or a Justice Roberts-imposed changed standard of judicial scrutiny that would weaken civil rights protection. but it looks likely that the latest foolish endeavor to weaken civil rights legislation will fail.
See SCOTUSBlog for updates.
Oct 15, 2008
The desperate GOP is lying in unison. It's what they're good at.
And truth and civil rights aren't going to stand in the way. It would nice if just one GOP official would stand up and say, 'This is wrong. Suppressing voters is wrong,' Dare to dream.
- "Today, Senator Ted Kanavas (R-Brookfield) and Representative Rich Zipperer (R-Brookfield) wrote a letter to Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen asking him to protect the integrity of the election process by protecting every legal vote in the upcoming November election." (WisPolitics)
"On Tuesday, U.S. Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Menomonee Falls), Tom Petri (R-Fond du Lac) and Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) sent letters to Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, and to Wisconsin's two U.S. attorneys, Steven Biskupic and Erik Peterson, calling for an investigation into ACORN." (MJS)
Andrew Burmon has a piece in Salon knocking down the lie: Behind the GOP's voter fraud hysteria As Republicans warn of catastrophe at the polls, an expert on election fraud explains the real partisan hoax -- the suppression of Democratic votes.
Let’s talk about the Ballot Access and Voting Integrity initiative that was started under Ashcroft in 2002. It was advertised as a program that would combat voter fraud and voter suppression equally. But if you look at the program, it actually was geared almost entirely toward voter fraud. They wanted to see if they could bring cases against individual voters. The [federal] government has spent a lot of money pursuing this over the years and convicted almost no one. Then we hear all this propaganda about how much voter fraud there is.
At the very least the Department of Justice has had its priorities backward. There are thousands of people having trouble casting ballots and the federal government has decided to go after poor people in Milwaukee and Florida to create the impression that there is voter fraud. The U.S. attorney firing scandal made it hard for anyone to claim that the Bush Justice Department wasn’t politicizing voter fraud. ...The Democrats in this age have no reason to pretend that voter fraud is a serious issue, but the Republicans, particularly this year, have a very good reason to say that voter fraud is rampant. It is a simple three-step process. Fraud allegations lead to restrictive voter laws, which lead to a class-skewed electorate. As the Democrats try to get out the vote, Republicans will try to stop it.
Sep 25, 2007
In an amazing, audacious and perhaps bizarre interview featuring Posner and Mike Sacks (Host/Producer with HuffPost Live) first reported by Rick Hasen, Posner has recanted his 2007 decision in Crawford heard before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, and authored by Posner, affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008.
Old habits die hard for Republicans.
Unfortunately, for the GOP many African-Americans remain clueless as to their proper place in American society. A hint: It's not at the ballot box.
So the Republican Party believes.
The U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will hear a voter ID case stemming from an Indiana law targeting poor and minority Americans to keep them from voting.
The Court is likely to decide the case next spring in time for the 2008 presidential elections, thereby possibly delivering a death blow to the Republican Party's national program (administered through the DoJ, such as US Atty's Biskupic's voter fraud cases, and state laws) of suppressing black, elderly and poor voters who skew against voting Republican.
Judge Terence Evans of the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in dissent (cases are Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 07-21, and Indiana Democratic Party v. Rokita, 07-25) clarifies the issue:
"Let's not beat around the bush. The Indiana voter photo ID law is a not-too-thinly veiled attempt to discourage election-day turnout by folks believed to skew Democratic."
The let's-allow-the-blacks-to-vote crowd (those crazy liberals!) appeal to a Constitutional right to vote derived from the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and point out that undue burdens like the Indiana law violate these rights of the First and Fourteenth Amendments for segments of the electorate.
The case will likely hinge on whether the Indiana voter ID statute is deemed reasonable in advancing state interests in preventing non-existent voter fraud and administering stable, secure elections viz a vis the liberty interests of voters facing undue burdens in casting their votes offsetting the state interests (the partisan intent of the state law will be of no consequence for the majority of this U.S. Supreme Court).
Judge Posner writing the majority Seventh Circuit's opinion concludes (indexed as 06-2218 Crawford, Willim v. Rokita, Todd):
"Perhaps the Indiana law can be improved - what can't be? - but the details for regulating elections must be left to the states ... (Article I, Section 4, U.S. Constitution)".
You see, Posner has never been a freedom rider, hence his opinion that the benefits of voting are elusive.
Let's handicap the case before the corrupt U.S. Supreme Court with a wild guess:
- Stephen Gerald Breyer: Will vote to reverse.
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Will vote to reverse.
- David H. Souter: Will vote to reverse.
- John Paul Stevens: Will vote to reverse.
- Anthony Kennedy: ????????
- Antonin Scalia: Affirm racist state law.
- Clarence Thomas (yuck): Affirm racist state law.
- John Roberts: Affirm racist state law.
- Samuel Alito: Affirm racist state law.
Maybe we'll get a surprise next spring, but betting on this case would be tantamount to betting on a Don King-promoted fight held in Las Vegas.
Via our friends over at SCOTUSblog, here are the briefs filed so far with the Supreme Court, seeking a writ of certiorari:
- Petitioners' Brief in Crawford v. Marion City Election Board (07-21)
- Petitioners' Brief in Indiana Democratic Party v. Rokita (07-25)
- Respondents' Brief in Opposition to both petitions
- Supplemental Brief of Respondents
- Petitioners' Reply in Crawford- Petitioners' Reply in IDP
Jun 2, 2007
Keith Roberts Defense Fund: Vietnam-era vet jailed for filing VA benefits after being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder has a supportive family. To fight off the federal government Airman Keith Roberts had established a defense fund and information webpage at:
Pols’ hypocrisy on voting rights: Writing in The Capital Times, Joel McNally , one of best commentators in American journalism, blasts those residing at the last refuge of scoundrels: “Politicians wrapped in their Memorial Day flags unleash such torrents of polysyllabic words in praise of the glories of democracy, it's a shame more of them don't believe in it.”
More vets bringing PTSD home as VA fumbles: Laura Ungar of the Louisville Courier-Journal writes of the horror of PTSD: "You're two feet away from someone, watching the flesh melt off his bones, and there's nothing you can do about it," (veteran Edmond) Rivera, 43, said of an experience now seared into his memory. "You can't forget."
Ron Paul is blowing up real good: Michael Scherer at Salon (might be subscription only): “The rambunctious GOP candidate wants to drag the U.S. out of Iraq, can the war on drugs, and overturn the Patriot Act. No wonder Republican power brokers want to boot him off the stage.”
DOJ Schlozman under fire from Senate for shielding voter suppression: Via ThinkProgress; Yesterday, the Los Angeles Times reported that former Minnesota U.S. Attorney Thomas Heffelfinger may have been targeted for removal by the Justice Department because of his role in protecting the rights of Native American voters.
May 15, 2007
|"Statement in Support of Claim," written by |
the late Jim Henning, a Shawano County
(Wisconsin) Veteran’s Service Officer
The document, a VA “Statement in Support of Claim,” written by the late Jim Henning, a Shawano County (Wisconsin) Veteran’s Service Officer, argues for an earlier retroactive date for disability benefits for Airman Keith Roberts (1968-74), who was diagnosed by several medical professionals with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) after witnessing a fellow airman being crushed to death in the wheel well of a C-54 airplane at a U.S. base in Naples, Italy in 1969.
Henning was known as a passionate and highly ethical advocate for veterans.
The document is key because the prosecuting attorney, Timothy Funnell of the US Eastern District of Wisconsin, has repeatedly portrayed Roberts as engaging in a “scheme” to “fraudulently” obtain VA benefits motivated by greed.
“Mr. Roberts would in all likelihood be sitting in Oconto County receiving his monthly compensation benefit check if he had not, because of his own greed, sought this large retroactive payment, “said Funnell on a Wisconsin Public Radio news segment. (Vietnam vet calls fraud charges by VA illegal, 05/10/07, Listen to this story now using RealPlayer)
The document (dated March 15, 2002) supports Roberts’ narrative that he did not concoct a “scheme” to seek an earlier retroactive date, but rather sought an earlier date at Hennings’ suggestion.
“Keith Roberts did not seek out an earlier effective date on his own. Mr. Jim Henning, (now deceased) Shawano County Veteran's Service Officer, reviewed Keith’s claims folder and determined that Keith was entitled to an earlier effective date. Mr. Henning was the person that wrote the March 2002 Statement in Support of (C)laim for Keith. … (T)he statement gave (the) VA an opportunity to pick any date listed as the earlier effective date,” reads an e-mail from Roberts’ wife, Deloris.
Henning’s letter (signed by Roberts, but in Henning’s handwriting, as verified by other obtained handwritten correspondence by Henning written on August 14, 2002 on an unrelated matter) supports reopening Roberts’ case for both an earlier retroactive date and an increase from 50 percent to 100 percent disability benefits.
Henning’s handwritten VA statement (which includes Henning’s listing of an incorrect Social Security Number of Roberts’) reads in part:
”The records indicate the the (sic) veteran filed a statement of case in an appeal dated December 22, 1993 which shows a complaint dating back to 12/13/69. A letter from the VA dated Nay 29, 1998 assigned a 50% rating for PTSD, It would appear that a 50% rating would be more appropriately assigned earlier effect (illegible word) 1989. (Based on the Bay Claims report mentioned above.).”
The Bay Claims reference is to a letter of November 1, 1989 which includes progress notes and diagnoses from Dr. Kenneth L. Kliese, M.D. of the Bay Psychiatric Clinic, Green Bay, WI.
Dr. Kliese is among several doctors who diagnosed Roberts with a multitude of psychiatric disorders and symptoms relating to PTSD.
As Roberts was adjudicating his claim with the VA, after Roberts had accused the VA of fraudulently handling his claims in 2003, Stephen Biskupic, US Atty for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, in an extraordinary development, stepped in 2005 and secured federal indictments and a conviction of Roberts on charges of wire fraud in obtaining over $350,000 for the period of 1992 to 2004.
Critics see Roberts as an innocent victim—a poster boy and cautionary tale—of a VA bureaucracy determined to deter PTSD claims from Vietnam vets, rightwing forces allied with VA Secretary Nicholson, and an overzealous prosecutor.
This exculpatory Henning document was not presented at trial.
“Again, never entered at (t)rial. This was a railroad job from the get go including Keith’s court appointed attorney. He never presented one piece of information from Keith’s VA C-file records. He flat out refused to do it, he told Keith that no jury would convict him on the evidence, that may have been so, but the jury did (convict Robets) because no evidence favorable to Keith was ever presented,” e-mailed Delores Roberts.
The VA demands rigorous documentation to prove a stressor causing PTSD.
“The process of gathering evidence to prove PTSD disability is extremely time-consuming,” said Sen. Barrack Obama (D-IL) on August 10, 2005 at a time when the VA was set to review 72,000 PTSD cases, but backed down under intense pressure from veterans and democrats. “It requires the compilation of medical records, military service records, and testimonies from other veterans who can attest to a person’s combat exposure. I cannot fathom why the VA would require veterans to go through this emotionally painful process a second time.”
But Roberts was able to prove to several medial professionals his condition of PTSD and to the VA, until he accused the VA of fraud.
“So again, I state, if VA says they based his grant in 1998 upon ‘stressors’ what the hell is going on, why is my husband in prison,” said Deloris Roberts.
May 14, 2007
GOP Voter-Fraud Complaints Drove US Atty Dismissals
Madison, Wisconsin-Dan Eggen and Amy Goldstein of the Post spell out the politicalization of the DoJ process on the US Attys fired or nearly fired.
“Nearly half the U.S. attorneys slated for removal by the administration last year were targets of Republican complaints that they were lax on voter fraud, including efforts by presidential adviser Karl Rove to encourage more prosecutions of election- law violations, according to new documents and interviews.
“Of the 12 U.S. attorneys known to have been dismissed or considered for removal last year, five were identified by Rove or other administration officials as working in districts that were trouble spots for voter fraud -- Kansas City, Mo.; Milwaukee; New Mexico; Nevada; and Washington state. Four of the five prosecutors in those districts were dismissed.
“It has been clear for months that the administration's eagerness to launch voter-fraud prosecutions played a role in some of the firings, but recent testimony, documents and interviews show the issue was more central than previously known. The new details include the names of additional prosecutors who were targeted and other districts that were of concern, as well as previously unknown information about the White House's role.
“U.S. Attorney Steven M. Biskupic of Milwaukee also was targeted last fall after complaints from Rove that he was not doing enough about voter fraud. But he was spared because Justice officials feared that removing him might cause political problems on Capitol Hill, according to interviews of Justice aides conducted by congressional staff members.”
Biskupic’s conduct on voter fraud, public corruption cases, and the prosecution of a veteran unpopular with the politicized VA match precisely the agenda of the Bush administration.
That should be ironic to the flacks who call Biskupic the “antithesis” of a politician.
Update: From Xoff at Uppity Wisconsin.
Xoff reads Mike Nichols' take of the Georgia Thompson prosecution in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
"Granted, the prosecution of Thompson, the purchasing official in the Doyle Administration, was a bust.
Being a political creature like Thompson, it turns out, is not a crime.
But you have to admire a prosecutor who starts from the premise that it might be."
Really? You have to admire Biskupic for prosecuting an innocent woman, sending her to prison and ruining her life?
You see, Georgia Thompson was not “a political creature,” as Nichols would have it, by any stretch of the imagination. She had a long career in the travel industry before joining state government in a non-political civil service position. She was hired by the administration of Republican Gov. Scott McCallum. As a 'career executive, her position was protected from political interference.
Biskupic accused her of steering a state travel contract to a company whose president was a supporter, friend and donor to Gov. Jim Doyle. But testimony said she was not even aware of the contributions, and there was no evidence that anyone asked her to favor that company.
Nonetheless, she was convicted and sent to prison without even being allowed to remain free while pursuing her appeal.
Four months later, an incredulous federal appeals court ordered her freed the same day it heard the oral arguments. The reason: She has not committed a crime, and Biskupic had offered no evidence to support his theory that she had.
Nichols would have us admire Biskupic for thinking she might have committed a crime.
What, exactly, is it that we should admire about that?